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- Protect Muslim Americans from Donald Trump
- Ginny Foat for Palm Springs Mayor—You’ve come a long way baby!
- Process Service Decision by Judge Craig Karlan
- 10s of Millions of People Died in the Western Hemisphere but Professor Maury Wiseman doesn’t think it’s Genocide
- Riverside County–How do Medical Marijuana Patients Exercise their Constitutional Rights?
I’ve spent some time traveling in Connecticut and have some friends there. The massacre carried out in the Village of Sandy Hook, City of Newtown, County of Fairfield is certainly a national tragedy, but in comparison to what goes on every day in a city like the State Capital of Hartford, one has to ask why isn’t every day life in urban ghettoes and barrios a topic of constant national attention?
The City of Newtown, founded in 1705, and the Village of Sandy Hook within it, are by any standard, opulent geographical areas. According to Wikipedia, in Newtown, by 2010 Census figures:
The racial makeup of the town was 95.14% White, 1.75% Black or African American, 0.14% Native American, 1.40% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.64% from other races, and 0.89% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.36% of the population…..
The median income for a household in the town was $90,193, and the median income for a family was $99,192 (these figures had risen to $101,937 and $119,175 respectively as of a 2007 estimate). Males had a median income of $68,965 versus $42,217 for females. The per capita income for the town was $37,786. About 2.2% of families and 3.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.0% of those under age 18 and 3.9% of those age 65 or over.
For comparison, of the highest per capita incomes by American counties, California’s Marin County is number one at $44,962. According to the New York Daily News, the Sandy Hills shooter, Adam “Lanza was living with his devoted mother, Nancy, in the family’s four-bedroom, 3,100-square-foot estate…. Nancy Lanza divorced Adam’s father, Peter, in 2008. Peter Lanza, now a vice president of taxes for GE Energy Financial Services, agreed to annual alimony payments that started at $240,000 and would have reached $298,800 in 2015.” Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/adam-lanza-20-deeply-disturbed-kid-article-1.1220752#ixzz2F8s0RPyi.
Now take Connecticut’s state capital, Hartford. By Wikipedia:
The racial makeup of the city was 29.8% white, 38.7% African American or black, 0.6% Native American, 2.8% Asian, 0% Pacific Islander, 23.9 from other races, and 4.2% from two or more races. 43.4% of the population were Hispanic or Latino, chiefly of Puerto Rican origin. Non-Hispanic Whites were 15.8% of the population in 2010, down from 63.9% in 1970….
With 30 percent of the population living below the poverty line, Hartford’s rate of poverty is second in the United States only to Brownsville, Texas….The per capita income for the city was $13,428.
Hartford is second in New England for its Puerto Rican origin population after Holyoke Massachusetts.
A Hartford blogger on crime writes poignantly about day to day conditions in that City:
“I lived in Hartford for many years, once in an apartment near Hartford Hospital, also an apartment just off of Park Street. My advice to anyone wanting to travel here is to stay away. 37 years ago when I used to work in downtown Hartford I was robbed while waiting to take the bus home from just in front of the Old State House which is downtown Hartford. I was followed home by a robber when I went to the drug store on Farmington Ave. but I managed to get away, get into the condo building before he could rob me. I lived off of Farmington Avenue in a building called The Willoughby. Back then it was apartments, but now it is condominiums. The area was bad back then but is much worse now, drug dealers breaking into the condominium building, hookers doing tricks on the steps inside the building. It’s such a shame. I don’t understand why the police are not out in full force cleaning up these areas. I’m sure years ago Hartford was a very nice place to live. Years ago I would drive to the North end with my husband to go to a Jamaican bakery but no longer. That area was dangerous back then, but with all the crack heads now, much much worse. My advice to you, if you do decide to visit any part of Hartford, take pepper spray with you. The Mark Twain house is worth a visit, also the Wadsworth Atheneum art gallery. But if you are a woman, do not carry a pocketbook, keep your money hidden.”–Woman, Resident of Hartford for 37 years, Age 58, May 15, 2012
The 2012 projections for crime in Hartford are (Projected Data) Incidents
Aggravated Assault 987, Arson 48, Burglary 852, Forcible Rape 46, Larceny and Theft 3,389, Motor Vehicle Theft 720, Murder and Manslaughter 30, Robbery 461, Crime Rate (Total Incidents) 6,450; Property Crime 4,965; Violent Crime 1,523.
In 2010, Hartford ranked 19th in the United States’ annual national crime rankings, (below the 200.00 rating.) It had the second highest crime rate in Connecticut, behind New Haven.
So the question we need to be asking, again, is why does America routinely ignore the crime rates that oppress the poor most of all and get horrified when Middle America and crime that affects the upper crust of society intrigues the media and gets the attention of government?
Side Bar: Behind the Scenes Implications of the Murders
Whenever one of these genuinely horrific incidents occurs, I get on the phone with a friend who’s a national crime reporter for a major media outlet because I know she’s about to catch the next plane to the site and will need logistical and behind the scenes investigative resources to help her find the right people to interview and background facts to flesh out the story. Here’re some of the weird facts that I encountered in my work.
Early on Connecticut police authorities reported that it was Ryan Lanza who was the shooter and that he lived in Hoboken, New Jersey. This was flat out wrong and two different explanations for why this was put out have emerged. First it was reported that the shooter, 20 year old Adam Lanza, had 24 year old Ryan Lanza’s identification on him when he was found dead at the scene. The second story was that somebody in the police administration had accidentally transposed the names Ryan and Adam in their information release. Additionally there were claims that a now taken down Facebook page for Ryan Lanza was a hoax….but if it was a hoax, it was an incredibly elaborate hoax as I will explain, but first, let’s look at the implications of the first issue.
If Adam Lanza was carrying brother Ryan’s identification one can theorize that one of his motives was to really shaft his older brother as the icing on the cake following the murder of his mother and everybody else at his old elementary school. Even after his own death he’d planned to drive his brother nuts by casting blame on Ryan. If the now taken down Facebook page was a hoax [http://www.facebook.com/brad.jockjennings?ref=ts&fref=ts] whoever created it knew the key details very quickly that Ryan Lanza was living in Hoboken and that he was from Newtown. Additionally, that FB page had been created as listed on the FB Timeline on October 18, 2012. How long had this hoax been in the works and how could it have been anticipated since at least October.
This purported “hoax” page had some interesting comments on it and when I looked at it, it had already garnered 40 friends, one of whom (female) showed herself nude and masturbating in her profile photo and another of whom (male) used the United Farm Worker Eagle Flag as his profile photo. The comments posted by the page owner included:
the government has been aware of my revolutionary speeches.. i DIDNT DO IT!!!!
what is going on!! !!! i was framed!! i didnt do it!!!
It also featured a really strange YouTube video link that showed the purported Ryan Lanza with what appears to be a submachine gun denouncing gun violence by two guys in Michigan who’d supposedly killed each other because they disagreed about the taste of Kool Aid:
Now a Ryan Lanza FB page with a substantially different picture which appeared to have been created on July 9, 2006, also stated that he is from Newtown and now lives in Hoboken: http://www.facebook.com/rlanza
If indeed the Connecticut State Police accidentally transposed the names Adam and Ryan in their press release, which would naturally cause Ryan Lanza to freak out completely as if the death of his mother and brother was not enough, the average person would see it as egregious and horrendous. In civil terms it could be categorized as “Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress.” But does somebody get to sue a police department for negligence? All states and the federal government use a myriad of immunity laws and legal minefields to prevent people from seeing their day in court.
In California for example, most people think that there’s a very simple one or two year “statute of limitations” in which you have to file suit against a government agency. Most people and all too frequently not even some lawyers understand the laws that require the filing of a claim under the California Tort Claims Act (Section 910 Government Code et seq) within six months of the incident they’re suing over. It’s gets even weirder if you’ve been falsely charged with a crime, because you still have to file within six months but you’re not allowed to sue until after the end of the criminal case, so you run the risk of pissing off the police and making them file a charge on a case that they would just as soon let you go on (because they know or suspect their officer was out of line in the first place). If you or your criminal defense attorney (criminal defense attorneys frequently don’t know about the tort claim requirement because suing is not their job, getting you off the criminal complaint is) didn’t file the tort claim and then you get exonerated a year later, you’re screwed and can’t sue.
For an idea of the complexity of liability and immunity laws that people will face in Connecticut, see http://www.cga.ct.gov/2011/rpt/2011-R-0076.htm.
Does the situation get any more convoluted, complicated and mondo bizarro? Well actually it does.
What causes incidents like this? According to former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who spoke of the incident on Fox News, the First Amendment’s separation of church and state clause appears to be the problem as opposed to the conflict between the Second Amendment and the non-enforcement of the right to safety which is incorporated or at least implied in many state constitutions:
NEIL CAVUTO (HOST): You know, inevitably people ask after tragedies like this, how could God let this happen?
HUCKABEE: Well, you know, it’s an interesting thing. We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we’ve systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage because we’ve made it a place where we don’t want to talk about eternity, life, what responsibility means, accountability? That we’re not just going to have to be accountable to the police, if they catch us. But one day, we will stand before a Holy God in judgment. If we don’t believe that, then we don’t fear that.
Say what?????? If Huckabee was black, this would definitely be a Negro Please type moment. If he was Chicano, he would immediately be labeled as a Pendejo of the worst sort. If he was Afro-Latino, he’d have to be designated as a P.I.A.M.F., a Pendejo Ignorant Ass Mother Fucker because the level of stupidity is so low that it merits a cross-cultural definition of idiocy.
So there you have it. Does America begin a debate on the poverty and social oppression that breeds day to day violence? Does it legislate a “solution” based upon an aberrant occurrence in a place where violence isn’t supposed to take place where the per capita income is well above that of the average American — which implies that the rest of us are supposed to be subjected to it? Or do we get down on our hands and knees and pray to god for forgiveness of the sins of secular education?
Hopefully, at the least, not the latter.
Let’s get this straight: Right to Work laws, permissible under Section 14(b) of the National Labor Relations Act (the “Wagner Act”) due to Taft-Hartley Act amendments, have little to do with workers’ right to choose and everything to do with workers’ right to freeload. National media pundits who’ve never actually organized or represented workers themselves, even though they may be members of SAG – AFTRA or the CWA (Communications Workers of America) media sector (such as The Newspaper Guild) have tended to generalize in their discussions of the issue and thus have not really explained it well to the American people. They have tended to put the emphasis on the unions’ abilities to represent their members in contract negotiations, or, as President Obama opined in a speech in Michigan, their ability to organize.
Those arguments are real, but they’re off the essential point of why somebody who refuses to pay union dues is freeloading. Under various provisions of the Wagner Act, Taft-Hartley Act and the Landrum-Griffin Act which make the union the exclusive bargaining representative for all workers in a recognized unit (whether or not they’re dues paying members of the union), which give workers the right to sue unions that represent them for unfair representation, and make union officers trustees and fiduciaries for their unions (Title V of the Landrum-Griffin Act), unions are obligated to fairly represent all workers. Today on MSNBC, interviewed by Andrea Mitchell, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder argued that unions benefit from right-to-work laws because they are forced to be more responsive to workers. This is absurd because they’re already legally obligated as fiduciaries to be responsive.
In the case of Hines vs Anchor Motor Freight, (1976) 424 US 554, the United States Supreme Court held that a union doesn’t just have to process your grievance case all the way through arbitration if it’s a valid case, they also have to adequately investigate the case and not just go through the motions. Now, imagine that you’re a freeloader who refuses to pay union dues as a result of your state’s right to work law and you force a union to spend it’s resources going all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to defend itself against your allegations that the union shop stewards and business agents didn’t do everything under the sun to keep you from losing your job. Who’s dues money got spent in the process? Not yours, but that of your co-workers who are union members.
As an ex-Teamster, local 396, I agree with you. I remember when my first union dues came out of my paycheck. I resented it at first, until I worked long enough to see a few contract negotiations that always were in my favor, thanks to union protection from UPS’s corporate greed. One of these days I will start getting pension retirement benefits. I can tell you that my husband, who didn’t work there long enough to be vested, won’t get a pension from anyone. Not many people in these United States do any more, do they?
Facebook Exchange between me (Jan B. Tucker) and a person who supports RTW about the above blog posting:
Ron This is pure propaganda and does not address the actual point of what RTW even means. Good grief B you are smarter than this. You know darned well that labor unions, particularly public employee unions, are RICO partners spending MY tax dollars (Aka “union dues”) to influence political issues from elections of the POTUS (auto bailout) to prison building (CCPOA and other LEO unions). Total garbage here and not very good at that.
Jan B. Tucker Ron, you may not be aware of the Beck Rule of the U.S. Supreme Court. Union members have the right to opt-out of paying that portion of their dues that goes to political work.
Ron Jan: I read your entire article and still see through your obvious bias. Labor unions were a useful tool early in the industrial revolution but have expanded into something even more sinister and CRIMINAL in many/most cases of public employee unions.
Ron Like any other “product,” if the union provides a service that members feel is worth the “dues” then they will have no problems keeping members. If they do: Adios!
Ron, I know full well what the problems are with unions. I was first vice president of Newspaper Guild Local 69. When our local got absorbed into a CWA local I continued to represent that local in the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, I asked an impertinent question about local finances and wound up sacked.
However, because there are some very decent laws and regulatory agencies that deal with stuff like this if you know how to navigate the system, there are remedies to pursue that are far more effective than remedies a worker can pursue with their employer absent a union. I am a switch hitter in my Industrial Relations consulting work. Sometimes I work for unions, sometimes I work for management. Sometimes I work for rank and file insurgent groups or individual dissidents against their own union management. When I was VP of the Newspaper Guild, my local represented employees of other unions against their own union management and I wound up in knock-down drag out fights against union managements on occasion.
As a licensed private investigator I have also wound up dealing at times with the Office of Labor Racketeering when it was an independent department of the U.S. Department of Labor and later when it was transferred into the Inspector General’s office of the US DOL under the Bush administration which really screwed it up. Bottom line is, my professional and expert opinion based upon my background, training, education, and experience is, RTW is fundamentally unfair and non-productive unless you want to repeal the entire regulatory structure: if you do so then unions get back tools banned by the Taft-Hartley Act like “hot-cargo,” secondary boycotts, political strikes, representation strikes without having to sign up 33% of the work force and all kinds of other tools they gave up to participate in the structure of a regulated Wagner Act/Landrum Griffin Act environment. That alternative would be fine with me and with a lot of labor leaders I know.
|B Cayenne Bird mentioned you in a comment.|
|B Cayenne wrote: “The people who fought and died to build labor unions for workers were correct Ron Givens. You are a little younger than Jan B. Tucker and I, so I don’t know if you were educated on how things were in America before labor unions. Why would anyone who isn’t rich fight for Right to Work laws? This is a scam of the rich so that they can exploit middle and lower class American workers. I don’t get it Ron? How can you take their side?”|
My http://www.janbtucker.com/blog stat counter just made it past 400,000 page hits since the blog was launched!!!!
Unique Pages Served: 19068 Total Sessions: 181452 Total Page Hits: 400005
To understand the mostly private political viewpoint of Larry Hagman, a longtime member of the California Peace & Freedom Party, you first have to look at the context of his mother’s career. Mary Martin won Tony Awards for her Broadway appearances in South Pacific and Sound of Music. Look at the times and the themes: an attack on racism where she risked getting blacklisted and an explicitly anti-fascist movie.
The play was based upon James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific. Michener was a principled liberal and later served as Bucks County Pennsylvania Chairman of John Kennedy’s presidential campaign in 1960. When Kennedy won the state, Michener was Secretary to the Pennsylvania College of Electors convention. When Mary Martin starred in the role of Nellie Forbush in 1949, it was not exactly without controversy, as explained in the Wikipedia Article:
The musical explores the theme of racial prejudice in several ways. Nellie struggles to accept Emile’s mixed-race children. Another American serviceman, Lieutenant Cable, struggles with the prejudice that he would face if he were to marry an Asian woman. His song about this, “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught”, was criticized as too controversial for the musical stage and called indecent and pro-communist. While the show was on a tour of the Southern United States, lawmakers in Georgia introduced a bill outlawing any entertainment containing “an underlying philosophy inspired by Moscow.” One legislator said that “a song justifying interracial marriage was implicitly a threat to the American way of life.” Rodgers and Hammerstein defended their work strongly. James Michener recalled, “The authors replied stubbornly that this number represented why they had wanted to do this play, and that even if it meant the failure of the production, it was going to stay in.”
Now, here’s the song Wikipedia references, “You’ve got to be carefully taught“–
You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.
You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.
You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!
Larry Hagman joined many literary and entertainment industry members in joining the Peace & Freedom Party when it qualified for the ballot in 1967 in California. Amongst others, California PFP members included:
- Ray Bradbury
- Jan Michael Vincent
- John Saxon
- Wally Cox
- James Coburn
- Berton Schneider (Producer of Hearts & Minds)
- George Clayton Johnson (Screenwriter of the second most “Twilight Zone” series after Rod Serling)
- Barbara Eden (used to throw Black Panther fundraisers with Larry at her pad)
- Biff Rose (Comedian)
- Al Lewis (Grandpa Munster, later Green Party gubernatorial candidate in New York)
- Jorma Ludwik Kaukonen Jr. (Guitarist of Jefferson Airplane fame)
- Calypso Joe (former Vaudevillian turned Anti-Vietnam War activist “General Hershey Bar”)
Apparently afraid that he could risk blacklisting like his mother while portraying J.R. Ewing in the original Dallas series and basking in the popularity of the role that spawned “J.R. For President” bumper stickers throughout America, Hagman re-registered for a time as a Republican. Later he re-joined the Peace & Freedom Party with his fame and fortune established to a point where he didn’t have to worry.
Anyway, with his death yesterday, the real Larry Hagman, the lifelong radical, will be missed by me, while others will be missing the J.R. Ewing that he really wasn’t.
Two things happened this week which by coincidence or fate brought back a flood of memories and emotions about my father, Saul Selwyn Tucker. First, the son of the Hollywood Reporter‘s founder apologized for that paper’s role in blacklisting. Three days later I received two emails that left me simultaneously proud and humbled. Jeffrey St. Clair of Counter Punch [http://www.counterpunch.org/] invited me to become that magazine’s Criminal Justice Columnist and Scotty Reid of Black Talk Radio [http://blacktalkradionetwork.com/] asked me to become a regular commentator on his program. As to the Hollywood Reporter’s belated discussion of their issue, Associated Press reported:
SANDY COHEN | November 19, 2012 07:51 PM EST | AP
LOS ANGELES — The son of The Hollywood Reporter founder Billy Wilkerson is apologizing for his father’s and the trade paper’s role in the 1947 Hollywood Blacklist that destroyed the careers of writers, actors and directors accused of having communist ties.
In an article published Monday by The Hollywood Reporter, Willie Wilkerson, 61, calls the Blacklist era “Hollywood’s Holocaust” and says, “On the eve of this dark 65th anniversary, I feel an apology is necessary.”
He says his father supported the Blacklist to exact revenge against the Hollywood titans he felt denied him entry to their club when he wanted to establish a movie studio in the late 1920s. Billy Wilkerson founded The Hollywood Reporter in 1930, and after World War II, used the paper as a vehicle for a series of editorials attacking communist sympathizers and their influence in Hollywood.
“In his maniacal quest to annihilate the studio owners, he realized that the most effective retaliation was to destroy their talent,” Willie Wilkerson writes. “In the wake of this emerging hysteria surrounding communism, the easiest way to crush the studio owners was to simply call their actors, writers and directors communists. Unfortunately, they would become the collateral damage of history. Apart from being charged with contempt, for refusing to name names, none of these individuals committed any crimes.”
One serious mis-perception created in large part by Hollywood itself about blacklisting is that it only happened to entertainment industry people and/or journalists (as in 1991’s Guilty by Suspicion or The Front in 1976). I have one friend who’s father was a janitor and it happened to him. My father was a millwright-machinist and likewise he was fired from government service, harassed by the FBI when he got private sector employment, and his nascent writing career came to an abrupt halt.
My dad had a heart murmur from childhood rheumatic fever and so was rejected when he tried to enlist in all the armed services, so to do his part he got a civilian job with the Army Air Corps at Hickam Field in Hawaii as a millwright-machinist. Working class, progressive, and militantly against discrimination, as I would later find out from his FBI and U.S. Army intelligence files and from his own anecdotes, he spent his spare time helping to organize pineapple workers for the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU which launched a Hawaii sugar strike in 1946), participating in an integrated recreational organization (I know that from watching home movies) known as the Hawaii Trail & Mountain Club, attending a meeting of the United Public Workers of America (UPWA-CIO) to hear Abraham Flaxer speak, and becoming an activist with the Hawaii Association of Civic Unity (HACU). The Civic Unity associations around the United States were dedicated to ending discrimination of all sorts and were well ahead of their time. It was pointed out in the context of explaining why the organization was (to the writer, Army Col. Innes Randolph) obviously Communist because HACU’s constitution called for:
- Ending discrimination based on race, creed, color, sex, national origin, and political belief
- Equality of opportunity on the same criteria
- Better standards of living and social progress for all
- Promoting better understanding and unity amongst people of various racial and ethnic backgrounds.
Horrors! My liberal and conservative friends see this and are aghast, usually opining something along the lines of “but I thought that was what America was all about.” In my father’s case it got him fired from his job.
Consider the context: this was 1946 -47 and it was still well before the Henry Wallace Progressive Party presidential campaign forced Harry Truman to order the desegregation of the armed forces on the basis of race. Not to mention, calling for an end to sex discrimination wouldn’t even be considered a responsible, reasonable, or even sane demand by liberals (let alone everybody else) until the feminist revolution of the 60s. It was only radicals like my dad who dared propose and fight for these ideals in the 40s and they paid a dear price for their activism.
President Truman signed Executive Order 9835, the so-called “Loyalty Order,” on March 21, 1947. This was well before Joe McCarthy had started his rampage against civil liberties in America. Under the Loyalty Order, around 3,000,000 federal employees were subjected to witch hunt type investigations. Around 5,000 simply quit. Only about 3-400 contested their firings. My father was one of them. Another was the EEO officer of the Roosevelt administration who’d pushed to create the unit that became known as the Tuskegee Airmen (his name escapes me). I met his son at a Tuskegee Airmen L.A. Chapter event in January 2009. Like my dad, his father was subjected to a worse than Kafkaesque proceeding (Kafka’s “The Trial” might have been bizarre, but at least the victim was allowed to attend his own trial; under 9835 proceedings you had no right to know who the witnesses were or what the evidence against you encompassed).
The reason I now know what the evidence that was used against my father is because I got it eight years after he died under the Privacy Act, 5 USC 552a, which didn’t exist when he was facing his persecution. In addition to his having attended the UPWA meeting and his activism with HACU, his being Vice President of the Hawaii Trail & Mountain Club was also used against him. Seriously, I couldn’t make this up if I tried.
According to a report by the 401st Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) of the Navy, which had an informant in the club, at the meetings, “Tucker never said anything good about the United States and never said anything bad about Russia.” One might think that the “confrontation clause” of the United States Constitution would mean that my father had a right to confront (Sixth Amendment) his accuser about this statement but he never even knew it was evidence used against him in these secret proceedings. One might also think that under normal rules of evidence in a nation that prides itself on “due process of law” (Fifth Amendment) evidence of what somebody did NOT say would be inadmissible. In fact, it should have been considered to be ridiculous, but in 1947 it was a statement in the record used to fire my father.
There is also this little problem of the right to counsel in these proceedings, especially in Hawaii. My father, and many like him in Hawaii, were defended by Harriet Bouslog.
Harriet Bouslog had a truly extraordinary life and career in an era when it was rare and almost impossible for a woman to become a lawyer. For a biographical work, see http://www.hawaii.edu/biograph/biohi/bouslogguide.pdf. As the Honolulu Advertiser wrote:
From the outset of her legal career Harriet Bouslog relished her role as the champion of the underrepresented in the community. Long before the advent of the Legal Aid Corporation and the Office of the Public Defender, she chose to offer her legal services to clients at the bottom of the socioeconomic scale.
And for the record, she never turned away a client or a cause because of a lack of funds.
She certainly didn’t turn away my father. A longstanding principle of the legal profession is [as enshrined for example in California Business & Professions Code Section 6068(h)] the concept for an attorney to “Never to reject, for any consideration personal to himself or herself, the cause of the defenseless or the oppressed.” For her efforts of defending the poor and the unfortunate she too came under attack by the system, disbarred by the Hawaii Territorial Supreme Court. She had to appeal all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to get her suspension overturned on a narrow 5-4 vote. Ostensibly, Bouslog’s right to practice law was suspended on a complaint from the Hawaii Bar Association because of a speech she gave to ILWU members regarding her defense of their members who were accused of illegally being members of the Communist Party. In In re Sawyer – 360 U.S. 622 (1959) [Sawyer was Bouslog’s married name], Justice William J. Brennan Jr. wrote for the majority that:
Petitioner’s clients included labor unions, among them the International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union. Some of the defendants in the Smith Act trial were officers and members of that union and their defense was being supported by the union. The meeting at Honokaa was sponsored by the ILWU and was attended in large part by its members. The petitioner spoke extemporaneously and no transcript or recording was made of her speech. Precisely what she did say is a matter of dispute. Neither the Territorial Supreme Court nor the Court of Appeals saw the witnesses, but both courts, on reading the record, resolved matters of evidentiary conflict in the fashion least favorable to the petitioner. For the purposes of our review here, we may do the same. The version of the petitioner’s speech principally relied upon by the Court of Appeals, 260 F.2d, at 197-198, is derived from notes made by a newspaper reporter, Matsuoka, who attended the meeting and heard what the petitioner said. These were not Matsuoka’s original notes – the originals were lost – but an expanded version prepared by him at the direction of his newspaper superiors after interest in the speech was aroused by Matsuoka’s account of it in the newspaper……The summary will illumine the basis of our conclusion that the finding that the petitioner’s speech impugned the integrity of Judge Wiig or reflected upon his impartiality and fairness in presiding at the Smith Act trial is without support. The fact finding below does not remove this Court’s duty of examining the evidence to see whether it furnishes a rational basis for the characterization put on it by the lower courts. See Fiske v. Kansas, 274 U.S. 380 . Speculation cannot take over where the proofs fail. We conclude that there is no support for any further factual inference than that petitioner was voicing strong criticism of Smith Act cases and the Government’s manner of proving them, and that her references to the happenings at the Honolulu trial were illustrative of this, and not a reflection in any wise upon Judge Wiig personally or his conduct of the trial.
Petitioner said that the Honolulu trial was really an effort to get at the ILWU. She wanted to tell about some “rather shocking and horrible things that go on at the trial.” The defendants, she said, were being tried for reading books written before they were born. Jack Hall, one of the defendants, she said, was on trial because he had read the Communist Manifesto. She spoke of the nature of criminal conspiracy prosecutions, as she saw [360 U.S. 622, 629] them, and charged that when the Government did not have enough evidence “it lumps a number together and says they agreed to do something.” “Conspiracy means to charge a lot of people for agreeing to do something you have never done.” She generally attacked the FBI, saying they spent too much time investigating people’s minds, and next dwelt further on the remoteness of the evidence in the case and the extreme youth of some of the defendants at the time to which the evidence directly related. She said “no one has a memory that good, yet they use this kind of testimony. Why? Because they will do anything and everything necessary to convict.”
We start with the proposition that lawyers are free to criticize the state of the law…..But all are free to express their views on these matters, and no one would say that this sort of criticism constituted an improper attack on the judges who enforced such rules and who presided at the trials. This is so, even though the existence of questionable rules of law might be said in a sense to produce unfair trials. Such criticism simply cannot be equated with an attack on the motivation or the integrity or the competence of the judges. And surely permissible criticism may as well be made to a lay audience as to a professional; oftentimes the law is modified through popular criticism…..
So, by one single vote of the U.S. Supreme Court, Harriet Bouslog was able to continue her career as an attorney…..but many of her clients, without her even having the legal ability to learn what the evidence against them was, were not so lucky. Fired from government service, my dad also lost his budding career as a freelance writer.
My father had only a high school education. He’d learned his trade as a millwright – machinist with the Works Progress Administration (WPA) at one of their projects in Woodstock, New York (he was always ahead of his time….I guess he was with the original “Woodstock Generation”). He was an avid reader and a brilliant writer. By the age of 24 he’d been published in the Honolulu Star Bulletin and nationally in the Ladies Home Journal. Following his firing and blacklisting the only publication in America that ever accepted his writing again was Compressed Air. Nevertheless, he kept writing and submitting articles without success, only to receive rejection slips. One could read between the lines to recognize when editors were simply afraid to print something with his name on it.
When I was a little boy, my father took me to meet a friend, another blacklisted writer, who’d changed his name to Will B. Heard, in opposition to his blacklisting. So in honor of Will, my dad, and all those like them, call me Will B. Heard II as a pen name.
So that is why it is both humbling and a source of pride for me to be asked to use my media talents with Counter Punch and Black Talk Radio. I carry with me the burden of keeping true to my father’s ideals and to vindicate his existentialist struggle for, as Hannah Arendt might have characterized it, “species immortality,” or as the Emperor Nezahualcoyotl of Texcoco (Pre-Columbian Nahuatl culture of the Central Valley of Mexico) might have expressed it, his predisposition for “in cuicatl, in xochitl.”
You can help me keep on this fight. If you have on-record story ideas or information to impart that I can help publicize, email it to me at email@example.com. If on the other hand you need to remain as a confidential source under which I will invoke the immunity of California Evidence Code Section 1070 (the journalists’ “Shield Law”), then email it on the record but not for attribution to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Venceremos, Jan B. Tucker
Trying to second guess prosecutorial decisions in the criminal procedure (as one of my grad school profs explained, he named his course “criminal procedure” as opposed to “criminal justice” because the use of the term “justice” to describe our system is a value judgment that political scientists should avoid) system is to enter into a maze. It is also an example of how federal and state authorities have tunnel vision and fail to recognize the laws that can be enforced by their counterparts and colleagues in other branches of government.
There are some public servants that have served the Compton-Carson-Long Beach area with great integrity. Others have left much to be desired. Either way, it seems that with some notable exceptions it seems that if y0u’re a Black or Brown politician your odds of being prosecuted go way up in the Los Angeles area. If you do the same thing as a white public official it is frequently hands off, no matter how solid the case is. Let’s get down to cases.
Compton Mayor and later Rep. Walter R. Tucker III won Merv Dymally’s congressional seat [http://janbtucker.com/blog/2012/10/08/mervyn-dymally-the-good-the-bad-the-ugly/] when Merv retired in 1992. He was accused to taking bribes by the federal government when he’d been Mayor of Compton, prosecuted, convicted, and sent to jail. Walter was a stand up guy, loyal to friends, and when we’d appear at public forums we’d kid each other and the audiences that we were cousins (as I always say, I’m the proverbial “honky in the wood pile”). At the same time as that prosecution was going down, I had reported to the District Attorney, the State Attorney General, the Los Angeles County Counsel, the Sheriffs Department and the FBI the fact that (a) I was an eyewitness to the Bradbury City Clerk’s (at the time a virtually all-white, gated community) office falsifying a government document in my presence (a felony under the government code) and (b) the public recording of a bribe made to a Bradbury City Planning Commissioner (which I also complained about to the Fair Political Practices Commission).
Nobody would do squat about the falsification of the public record. I literally had to force the Sheriff’s Department to even accept a criminal complaint right after I witnessed the crime. First they claimed it wasn’t a crime. Then they claimed they didn’t have a copy of the Government Code when I cited the sections violated. When I demanded their written procedures under Section 832.5 of the Penal Code for filing a personnel complaint, they conveniently “found” a copy of the Government Code and made a report.
As to the latter problem, you’ve got to be wondering how and why on Earth anybody would publicly record a bribe???? Well, you would if you were white and rich and knew that nobody would do anything about it and that you got to keep the bribe even if anybody did. On May 21 of the year this happened, a developer and his wife signed (and had notarized) for a $950,000.00 mortgage on a piece of property and made out a grant deed for the property for a one-half undivided interest to the planning commissioner and his wife. The deal apparently was that the mortgage would be paid off by the developer so based upon the actual value of the property, the bribe amounted to more than half-a-million dollars. The night of the meeting (I got the tape recording of the planning commission meeting) the commissioner moved for, argued for, and voted for approval of a development involving a real estate tract. That tract was precisely the one in which I had witnessed and reported the falsification of documents on. The planning commission met on May 25. The next morning, May 26 promptly at 8:00 a.m. when the County Recorder opened for business, the deed of trust and the grant deed were promptly filed and recorded.
Nobody would do anything about this bribe except the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). They fined the planning commissioner for failing to disclose the bribe as income on his Form 700 Statement of Economic Interests. The fine: $1,500.00. He got to keep the bribe itself.
Okay, so let me get this straight: Walter Tucker goes to jail for what amounted to chump change and a rich white planning commissioner gets fined $1,500.00 for failing to report over $500,000.00 that he gets to keep? H. Rap Brown said at the height of the civil rights movement that “Justice in America means ‘Just Us White Folk.'” Can the contrast be any sharper?
Fast forward to Walter’s successor in Congress, Juanita Millender McDonald. She promotes her son, Roderick Keith McDonald to run for State Assembly in the 55th District. He registers to vote at her home address in Carson which is in the district. I get assigned by one of his opponents to do opposition research on him and lo and behold, he lives a mile outside the district in Long Beach and under penalty of perjury he signs for a homeowner exemption for property tax purposes at his Long Beach house meaning that the house is supposed to be owner-occupied!
Although a Sacramento judge at least ruled that if elected, Roderick won’t be able to take office, he isn’t disqualified from the ballot (he does lose the primary). The House Ethics Committee ignores and does not even respond to my complaint about his mom letting him register to vote at her house (which is also under penalty of perjury). As usual with my complaints, everybody else ignores it. Compare that to the current prosecution of my old college buddy Richard Alarcon for supposedly not living in his City Council District, a far, far weaker case than one where you’ve got two different documents signed under penalty of perjury (one with a tax consequence) with two different addresses sworn to be true and correct. Go figure. Richard’s busted but on that Roderick never was.
Roderick did get his just rewards later, because even though everybody ignored my complaints, he eventually was sentenced to prison by the feds for mail fraud, conspiracy to commit extortion under color of authority, and money laundering.
Fast forward again. Laura Richardson succeeded Juanita as representative for the district. When Laura was young and just starting out on her political career, I met and was impressed with her when she appeared before the “Wednesday Group,” a coalition of women’s political organizations that met on Wednesdays for joint interviews of candidates. I represented San Fernando Valley/Northeast Los Angeles NOW. At the time I was the only male allowed to participate (prior to me they’d begun a female only rule to get rid of a real sexist pig and jerk who’d been showing up but relaxed it when SFV/NELA NOW wanted me as their representative).
For some background on the issues that have recently plagued Richardson, see my last blog on the subject: http://janbtucker.com/blog/2012/11/09/will-laura-richardsons-luck-follow-arturo-danaire-frazier/. The case of what Laura Richardson did to her staff brings up some interesting questions for whether she could be prosecuted under California law, a matter which has drawn no attention by the mainstream press. Just to review a few facts for background, in not one but two elections, 2010 and 2012, Richardson’s staff was unlawfully forced to work on her congressional campaigns. For example, it was widely reported that her District Director, Samuel J. “Joey” Hill Jr. “…was often out of the office working on campaign issues, and when he was present, he did campaign work at the office” according to the House Ethics Investigative Subcommittee Report, p. 47 [House Committee on Ethics, 112th Congress, In the Matter of Allegations Relating to Representative Laura Richardson, Appendix A, Report of the Investigative Subcommittee in the Matter of Allegations Relating to Representative Laura Richardson, August 1, 2012 (Investigative Subcommittee Report)]. Hill, was a former staffer for former legislator Teresa Hughes (and husband of Hughes’ daughter, current Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Deirdre H. Hill) who was defeated by Herb Wesson for State Assembly in 1998 and has since continued work as a legislative and congressional aide.
According to the Ethics Committee report, Richardson also retaliated against staff for cooperating with the committee investigation, one of her aides falsified a staff member’s employment record (time report), threatened staffers, and suggested false testimony for them to give in the committee’s investigation. This goes back to my initial point: why hasn’t the State of California taken any action to protect the California Labor Code rights of the employees at her Long Beach office? These are some of the laws that apply and violation of them are misdemeanors under Section 1103 of the California Labor Code:
1101. No employer shall make, adopt, or enforce any rule, regulation, or policy: (a) Forbidding or preventing employees from engaging or participating in politics or from becoming candidates for public office. (b) Controlling or directing, or tending to control or direct the political activities or affiliations of employees. 1102. No employer shall coerce or influence or attempt to coerce or influence his employees through or by means of threat of discharge or loss of employment to adopt or follow or refrain from adopting or following any particular course or line of political action or political activity. 1102.5. (a) An employer may not make, adopt, or enforce any rule, regulation, or policy preventing an employee from disclosing information to a government or law enforcement agency, where the employee has reasonable cause to believe that the information discloses a violation of state or federal statute, or a violation or noncompliance with a state or federal rule or regulation. (b) An employer may not retaliate against an employee for disclosing information to a government or law enforcement agency, where the employee has reasonable cause to believe that the information discloses a violation of state or federal statute, or a violation or noncompliance with a state or federal rule or regulation. (c) An employer may not retaliate against an employee for refusing to participate in an activity that would result in a violation of state or federal statute, or a violation or noncompliance with a state or federal rule or regulation. (d) An employer may not retaliate against an employee for having exercised his or her rights under subdivision (a), (b), or (c) in any former employment. (e) A report made by an employee of a government agency to his or her employer is a disclosure of information to a government or law enforcement agency pursuant to subdivisions (a) and (b). (f) In addition to other penalties, an employer that is a corporation or limited liability company is liable for a civil penalty not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000) for each violation of this section. (g) This section does not apply to rules, regulations, or policies which implement, or to actions by employers against employees who violate, the confidentiality of the lawyer-client privilege of Article 3 (commencing with Section 950), the physician-patient privilege of Article 6 (commencing with Section 990) of Chapter 4 of Division 8 of the Evidence Code, or trade secret information.
This is a very timely issue. With the well-reported threats by employers to shut down their workplaces or lay off employees if President Obama won re-election, where there are laws in place that protect workers from political coercion, they should be applied and enforced vigorously. If that means taking on a now defeated member of the House of Representatives, so be it.
But frankly, I’m not holding my breath.