It’s a mystery! The Disappearing Records of Bob Lee’s $34,000 Wells Fargo Loan

NOTE BY NORSE:   The use of prosecutorial terror to chill activism in Santa Cruz after the decline of the Occupy movement in the winter of 2011-2012 is particularly significant to homeless people.  It was at the courthouse and adjacent San Lorenzo Park campground that homeless locals, community activists, and travelers established a Sanctuary Village of their own.  It was makeshift, grubby, struggling, and plagued with all the problems homeless people usually face.    It wasn’t Middle Class Pretty.   However it provided a refuge for more than a hundred homeless folks at its height for two months (including toilet facilities–now scarce to non-existent in most of Santa Cruz).  See “Occupy Santa Cruz Helps Those Fallen Through the Cracks” at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/11/20/18700516.php  &  “Occupy Santa Cruz Addresses Sanitation Concerns” at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/11/15/18699622.php?show_comments=1#18700006     It was trashed by police who gave refugees no place to go–since sleeping is illegal at night and “lodging” illegal all the time.  See “Police Raid and Destroy Occupy Santa Cruz Encampment in San Lorenzo Park” at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/12/08/18702101.php .

by Becky Johnson (posted by Norse)
Saturday Aug 23rd, 2014 10:10 AM

One of D.A. Bob Lee’s principal demands in the Santa Cruz Eleven cases has been “restitution” to Wells Fargo Bank. Why are there “no records” of a $34,000 interest free loan to DA Bob Lee’s 2010 re-election campaign from Wells Fargo Bank? On Wednesday August 20th, Judge Steven Siegel held a hearing on a motion by attorney Alexis Briggs to uncover the records of Wells Fargo’s 2010 loan to Santa Cruz District Attorney Bob Lee. Lee has been relentless pursuing 11 activists at the cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars for a peaceful occupation of a 5 year-vacant Wells Fargo-leased bank building. 7 of the defendants, some of whom lost jobs, housing, and health because of this vendetta against the Occupy movement, had all charges dismissed after a grueling year of merry-go-round court appearances. The Final Four defendants still being hounded have been to court nearly 50 times, according to defendant Brent Adams.

Wednesday’s hearing in Judge Steven Siegel’s courtroom was a continuation of a hearing from the week before. Alexis Briggs, attorney for Cameron Laurendau of the Santa Cruz Eleven filed a motion on behalf of her client to recuse District Attorney Bob Lee from the case & have the State Attorney General take over the prosecution of the remaining four defendants.

At that hearing, a well-suited representative from Wells Fargo, Hani Ganji, appeared before the Judge to provide records, if any, of any financial relationship between the Bank & Bob Lee in the past 5 years.

In 2010, Bob Lee was running for re-election for his District Attorney for Santa Cruz County position. He submitted papers to the County elections board as required by law that he had taken out a loan from Wells Fargo Bank for $34,000. About six weeks later, he filed an addition affidavit claiming that $32,000 of the original $34,000 loan had been paid off. He also checked the box indicating that zero interest had been charged. This possible preferential treatment by the bank towards Lee prompted the motion.

DA Bob Lee was not in court, despite being the subject of the motion, and sent County Counsel, Mr. Sheinbaum, to court on his behalf, who explained that Lee “was ailing.”

The Hani Ganji told the Judge, “Wells Fargo has searched for any loans in the last five years and we didn’t find any records.”

Sheinbaum told Siegle that Lee had no records of the transaction, either, but that there was “a perfectly innocuous explanation” for the lack of records.

Siegle admitted he was “not clear how that works.” “Not only do we have no record of that loan. We have no records of any loan in the last five years.”

“It’s a mystery,” admitted Sheinbaum, “but there are several perfectly innocuous reasons for the lack of records.” When asked for even one such reason by Briggs & Defense Attorney Lisa McHaney, he did not offer a single response.

So did Lee submit fraudulent records to the County Elections department? Did Lee get a $34,000 interest-free loan from Wells Fargo and they have destroyed the records? Or even worse, did Lee get the loan & upon his victory, was gifted $32,000 8 months before he charged 11 local activists and whistle-blowers with felony charges and sought over $25,000 in “damages” from them for occupying an empty bank building, leased to Wells Fargo for three days and turning it into a community center.

Is Lee lying? Is Wells Fargo lying? Are they BOTH lying?

Upcoming, defense attorney, Brian Hackett has another hearing seeking to recuse DA Bob Lee for “misdemeanor shopping,” when Lee revealed to three defendants “There were $30,000 in damages! Come up with the money and we can talk” about reducing the felony charges to misdemeanors.”

Siegel set a continuance of the hearing for next Wednesday, Aug 27th and 9:00 AM in Department 6

(Full Disclosure: I am one of the Santa Cruz Eleven defendants. My charges were dropped in 2013 for lack of evidence)

MORE NOTES BY NORSE:

Alexis Briggs provides more details of the hearing in a interview at http://radiolibre.org/brb/brb140821.mp3 (56 minutes into the audio file).

In 2012, D.A. Bob Lee was quite candid in stating it would be “a whole new ballgame” if the defendants paid off Wells Fargo: See “Impromptu Conversation Between DA Bob Lee and Two of the Santa Cruz Eleven” at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/07/18/18717774.phpContinue reading

Santa Cruz “Hostility” worker account

Santa Cruz “Hostility” worker account
by Tania
Tuesday Oct 8th, 2013 11:19 AM

Santa Cruz “Hostility” worker account from Oct 6, 2013 during a street demonstration on Pacific Avenue. Includes a link to a 41 sec youtube video documenting the encounter.

On Sunday Oct 6, 2013 I witnessed a city worker in a “hospitality” role threatening a friend. We were peacefully demonstrating the new Continue reading

Santa Cruz Eleven Down to Four and Conspiracy Charges Dismissed at Preliminary Hearing

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At a preliminary hearing on January 8, holds were removed on three community members who were charged in association with the 75 River bank occupation in Santa Cruz. All of the charges against Desiree Foster, Robert Norse, and Becky Johnson have been effectively dismissed by Santa Cruz Judge Paul P. Burdick. Charges still remain in effect for four defendants, Brent Adams, Franklin “Angel” Alcantara, Gabriella Ripley-Phipps, and Cameron Laurendeau, and Burdick removed conspiracy from the counts they face. Their arraignment date was set for January 22 in Santa Cruz. Additionally, the judge sanctioned District Attorney Rebekah Young with a $500 fine for the violation of a discovery order, saying that he had never imposed a sanction like this on the District Attorney’s office before. [Photo: After the hearing concluded.]

 

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The January 8 court appearance was the second day of a preliminary hearing for the seven defendants, and after the prosecution had called all of its witnesses, Robert Norse’s attorney was preparing to call their first defense witness when Judge Burdick stopped them, saying that testimony on behalf of Norse may be unnecessary.Burdick stated that he wasn’t seeing any evidence that there was an agreement to trespass, which was necessary to establish the conspiracy charge against all seven defendants, and about Norse, Johnson, and Foster specifically, he stated that he had heard nothing to lead him to believe that they were present in the bank building after police had arrived on scene to give what he described as “the warning” that they were trespassing.After a break, Burdick gave the attorneys on both sides a chance to respond to the legal issues he had referenced.
The judge began by stating that he had found that the evidence showed that the authority to remove demonstrators from the building wasn’t given by Wells Fargo until 6 or 6:30 pm on November 1, and the warnings and “no trespassing” fliers weren’t posted on the building by the police until December 1.The judge stated that the evidence further showed that Foster, Johnson, and Norse were not observed on the premises after 6:30 pm, meaning they were not “given notice” that they were trespassing, which is a requirement of the section of the code they were being charged with, 602(o). 602(o) also requires a refusal to leave after having been given notice.
In the absence of these requirements, the judge asked what evidence the prosecution had for conspiracy.”Conspiracy can be shown by conduct,” Young said, and she gave an example of police testimony that stated Desiree Foster was seen in front of the bank, “waving people in.”The judge responded by citing a 1990 ruling which found that for crimes which have been alleged to have occurred during free speech assemblies, “something more than circumstantial evidence” is required to prove conspiracy.

Judge Burdick stated that the occupation of the bank at 75 River appeared to be a “spontaneous occupation” after the doorway was opened with a key, and that it wasn’t shown that there was an agreement made to commit a crime. He then stated that he wasn’t going to hold any of the defendants on the conspiracy count.

Community members first entered the vacant bank building located at 75 River Street in Santa Cruz after a march to it and other banks on November 30, 2011, which was during the height of the national occupy movement. The march to 75 River Street was promoted as a march to a “foreclosed property” and initially the address of the location was not given out by the organizers. Some of those involved said they wanted to turn the large building, which had been vacant for more than two years at the time, into a community center.

The space, which is leased by Wells Fargo from the owner Barry Swenson, was eventually abandoned by the demonstrators on December 2, but some damage was left as a result of the occupation, and the estimated costs to repair it justified felony charges in the eyes of the District Attorney’s office.

In February of 2012, Eleven people were charged in association with the occupation, and charges against them included felony conspiracy to commit vandalism and/or trespass, felony vandalism, misdemeanor trespass by entering and occupying, and misdemeanor trespass by refusing to leave private property.

Preliminary hearings began in February for all eleven individuals, and charges were dismissed against Ed Rector and Grant Wilson by Judge Burdick in April of 2012, and Bradley Stuart Allen and Alex Darocy, both Indybay journalists, had the charges against them dismissed also by Burdick in May of 2012.

The remaining four defendants now have two weeks until their arraignment on counts which have been reduced to misdemeanor trespass (602(o)), and felony vandalism, which the judge found was a “natural and probable outcome” of the trespass (the so-called aiding and abetting legal theory).

“I do not want this case to linger,” Judge Burdick stated.

The final matter dealt with at the preliminary hearing was the sanction against DA Young.

“I do not believe DA Young was acting in bad faith,” Judge Burdick stated, but he added that there was no “substantial justification,” for her non-compliance with discovery orders given in 2012.

The judge found that her actions had caused a six month delay in the preliminary hearings, and defense attorneys pointed out that the “consequences to defendants were great.”

Two defendants had to sleep in their cars as a result of the delays, one defendant missed a family member’s funeral, and a variety of other serious life-impacts were described.

Defense attorneys wanted the fine increased to $1500, but Judge Burdick left it at $500 to cover “clerk’s expenses,” and the defense attorneys weren’t compensated in any way for the extra time they put in.

The arraignment for defendants Brent Adams, Franklin “Angel” Alcantara, Gabriella Ripley-Phipps, and Cameron Laurendeau is set for January 22 at 8:15.

For more information about those charged, see:
http://santacruzeleven.org/

Alex Darocy
http://alexdarocy.blogspot.com/

§Inside the courtroom after the hearing concluded

by Alex Darocy Thursday Jan 10th, 2013 5:50 AM

 

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After the hearing concluded, supporters were excited that three more individuals had the charges against them dismissed.

§Robert Norse speaks with Gabriella Ripley-Phipps

by Alex Darocy Thursday Jan 10th, 2013 5:50 AM

 

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Robert Norse (on the right) speaks briefly with Gabriella Ripley-Phipps as she left the courtroom after the hearing concluded.

§Becky Johnson

by Alex Darocy Thursday Jan 10th, 2013 5:50 AM

 

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Grant Wilson looks on as Becky Johnson and her attorney are interviewed after the hearing concluded.

§Franklin “Angel” Alcantara, Desiree Foster, Becky Johnson

by Alex Darocy Thursday Jan 10th, 2013 5:50 AM

 

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Featured in this picture: Franklin “Angel” Alcantara on the left, Desiree Foster and her mother and her attorney, and to the right Becky Johnson, after the hearing concluded.

§Brent Adams

by Alex Darocy Thursday Jan 10th, 2013 5:50 AM

 

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Brent Adams speaks with his attorney after the hearing concluded.

§Robert Norse, Franklin “Angel” Alcantara

by Alex Darocy Thursday Jan 10th, 2013 5:50 AM

 

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Robert Norse on the left and Franklin “Angel” Alcantara to the right, after the hearing concluded.

§Before the hearing concluded

by Alex Darocy Thursday Jan 10th, 2013 5:50 AM

 

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Robert Norse with Gabriella Ripley-Phipps and her mother. Before the hearing concluded the mood was considerably lighter. Cameron Laurendeau tries to relax a bit in the background.

§Correction

by Alex Darocy ( alex [at] alexdarocy.com ) Thursday Jan 10th, 2013 5:06 PM
Cameron Laurendeau’s arraignment hearing is scheduled for February 1, not January 22 with the others, due to a work scheduling conflict.

Comments  

by Robert Norse

Thursday Jan 10th, 2013 1:07 PM

Nice coverage in word and photo, AlexBURDICK AIDS AND ABETS AN ONGOING POLITICAL PROSECUTION
Burdick’s theory was a strange one. He held that evidence that the four remaining defendants were guilty of misdemeanor”trespass after being warned to leave” (PC 602o) justified holding them for “felony vandalism”.

This, even though no evidence was presented by the D.A. after 11 months that any of them vandalized.

Burdick claimed that it was a “natural and probable outcome” of four people who had allegedly been told to leave and then refused to do so. How so?

The argument, if you credit it at all, in this kind of peaceful First Amendment protest, goes better with the charge that Burdick dropped for all the defendants–602M, trespass to occupy. If proved, I suppose, it might by this tortured “aiding and abetting” argument link someone “occupying” with the damage done by someone else at some other time–since it was an “occupation”. Burdick, however, dropped these charges.

But failure to leave at one point is clearly unrelated to vandalism committed by parties unknown sometime in the three day period.

As a spontaneous First Amendment demonstration, there might have been dozens of people willing to openly acknowledge and face “trespass” charges in court for a peaceful brief occupation of a 3 1/2 year vacant bank building as a matter of principle–however Bob Lee, burnishing his “law ‘n order” image came back with these absurd felony conspiracy and vandalism charges. But the charges were unnecessary to begin with, because everyone left the building–peacefully.

The action, as I understood it, was taken to expose Wells Fargo and challenge the waste of vacant building space and need for a community center and homeless shelter here in Santa Cruz. These are simply facts which few dispute.

INFLATED CHARGES MARCH ON
But D.A. Lee inflated the charges with felony conspiracy and felony vandalism, presenting no evidence of either conspiracy or vandalism (by the people specifically charged). Some might suggest this shows shoddy police and D.A. work since police had the option to enter the bank and ID/detain/cite/arrest the people inside at any time during the three days. Particularly after the large crowd of people outside the bank on November 30th had dispersed. Or send in undercover cops to document the real perpetrators of vandalism.

Instead police chose to selectively target and then forward some of their least-favorite activists for prosecution to the D.A., ignoring numerous others, claiming they “couldn’t identify” anyone else. And the D.A. chose to prosecute some of those least-favorite activists, ignoring some (including former Mayor Beiers whom the police had recommended for prosecution).

The whining and abusive accusations of Deputy-Chief Steve Clark denouncing Burdick seem an additional pit of clueless cacophony in this ongoing circus. Or a self-serving commotion to distract from his own department’s bad decisions. See http://www.kionrightnow.com/story/20548286/police-das-office-respond-to-charges-dropped-for-3-bank-protesters.

Once set in motion, the prosecutorial juggernaut was supposed to roll on, I guess- regardless of how crappy Clark’s SCPD work was. The whole scene gives the impression of a political prosecution arranged to save the face of the SCPD, assist in intimidating the (already dispersed) Occupy Santa Cruz movement, and provide a kind of “show trial” for political activists in the to show how “tough” on direct action First Amendment activity the SCPD and their pals in Bob Lee’s office could be. Allcosting far far more than the supposed damages in the building.

SCPD LOOKS FOR SCAPEGOATS FOR ITS OWN BAD CHOICES
At the time, I thought that Chief Vogel made a good decision not to continue the violent assault of the SCPD in front of the building which they began (and were ready to reinforce with chemical weaponry, according to court testimony). However those who cooperated with the SCPD to help a “peaceful exit”, were ultimately punished for their good deeds and face prison time now. Even though the actual evidence presented by police and prosecution do not add up to the elements of the two crimes–something that will hopefully be shown at trial if these charges survive a Motion to Dismiss, coming up after the Arraignments later this month.

Finally, Bob Lee assigns one inexperienced relatively clueless assistant D.A. to face eleven defense lawyers. Given that she got endless support from judges along the way, who ok-ed time and time again on her failure to provide requested evidence, perhaps D.A. Bob Lee felt she didn’t need additional help. But if he were really serious, I’d have thought he’d provided her with additional back-up once her cases were dismissed one after another.

The fact that he did not further indicates this is some kind of token effort, perhaps undertaken out of concern for impoverished banksters in town? Or done to appease rising right-wing forces before the November election? Who knows?

THE REAL ISSUES
All charges needed to be dropped. Real sanctions not just token ones need to be pressed against Rebekah Young, even if that means formal complaints to the Bar Association with real consequences. Civil lawsuits need to be filed against the authorities who masterminded this life-consuming ordeal of the last year. New standards for police and prosecutorial behavior need to be established to restore the First Amendment here in Santa Cruz and lift the fear that has hovered over the activist community.

Empty buildings are the crime. Freezing weather is the reality. Foreclosure is the continuing threat. And the real criminals are at large and in power.

by Linda Ellen Lemaster

Thursday Jan 10th, 2013 2:14 PM

Left the courtroom after hearing Honorable Judge Paul Burdick’s terms and decisions for the coming Trial, thinking about the “sanctions” Burdick imposed on assistant D A Rebecca Young’s “quality of work”, especially regarding disclosure of evidence, to Indictees and their legal counsel.The judge said it’s important that the amount be modest so as not to trigger a California Bar Assn or state ‘trigger’ with misconduct charges against Young a possibility. So he decreed $500+ to go to the court clerk’s department. As defendant Becky Johnson noted after court, “No wonder, the recording clerks are working on seven cases at once!”

So goes the Empire in the hologram of Usury.

Compassionate Judge Burdick? Or perhaps attempting even-handedness? At any rate, Burdick went on to note how rarely a judge actually invokes Ssnction orders. Culminating with, “In fact I have never done this before.” Then Judge Burdick seemed to reassert the authority of his own Black Robes and the real moment we all shared in his courtroom, and promised the trial would be fast and on track.

I believe that the sanctions are even more significant as part of the Santa Cruz Eleven story BECAUSE the judge was bent on keeping his “punishment” or fine with the confines of the pretrial. I lately consider what we’ve learned of impacts between Homeland Security, the FBI and Wall Street money crooks amplifying some sort of Shadow Government running amok. So it is refreshing to see this judge reassert his authority. I wish him the luck of Solomon.

by John Thielking

Friday Jan 11th, 2013 6:28 AM

Congratulations on Robert, Becky and one other person getting their charges dismissed. Since Rebecca Young (quoted in the ch 46 article http://www.kionrightnow.com/story/20548286/police-das-office-respond-to-charges-dropped-for-3-bank-protesters) agrees with the judge on the legal technicality surrounding the dismissal decision, I see little likelyhood that charges will be refiled against those 3 defendants.

by Denica

Friday Jan 11th, 2013 7:47 AM

Great news. Had to sit this one out cause I have a terrible cough but was there in spirit. This has been daunting and unfair towards some really inspirational people.

by Sylvia

Friday Jan 11th, 2013 9:28 AM

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”Max Planck

A police officer testified to expectations of hostility, aggression, a superbowl-like atmosphere, that vandalism was inevitable. I wonder locally what events he based that on, what crowds, what rallies, what demonstrations at the Town Clock that turned negative. Even trained observers can see what they expect to see. Disorder was expected; police arrived in riot gear and had tear gas on call. Local activists were expected; police identified and charged one person who was only on the grass. The judge believes vandalism is a ‘natural and inevitable consequence’ of trespass.

Social change is about changing the historic consequences, setting new expectations and results. The police looked at the bandanna masks and saw attempts to evade identification. I saw the bandannas as symbols of cohesion and support, like the pink ribbons, yellow ribbons, other cause identifiers. Law enforcement seems to be looking for leaders, individuals to blame and punish — a leaderless group doesn’t fit the structure: the success or blame goes to the project.

There had been federally orchestrated enforcement and suppression – this lens created the view. Santa Cruz Police Department was compliant. – they found what it expected and helped create it.

by Robert Norse

Friday Jan 11th, 2013 5:58 PM

The City on a Hill story on the dismissals and arraignments is at http://www.cityonahillpress.com/2013/01/10/santa-cruz-eleven-down-to-four/.My comments on that story:

The D.A., SCPD, and media swooped down on a peaceful protest designed to bring attention to the officially-tolerated (indeed government-funded) bankster frauds of Wells Fargo.   Rather than developing a strategy for reining in the Wells Fargo criminals whose crimes created damages exponentially greater than any vandalism that happened at the vacant bank.

There was no evidence presented any time during the last eleven months (at endless court appearances) that any of the defendants (including the for still being held for trial) had anything to do with the vandalism.  Additionally, based on my understanding of the events, I would say that these defendants had nothing to do with the graffiti and damage that occurred.  Ironically the evidence presented by the D.A. shows that several of those charged went to some lenghs at personal risk to encourage a peaceful outcome to the whole situation–successfully.   No good deed goes unpunished, as the saying goes.

The legalistic noose by which assistant D.A. Young now tries to hang the remaining four of the Santa Cruz Eleven is an absurd legal theory that defines common sense.  It runs like this.  If  they “trespassed” in the bank at any time, then the “necessary and probably consequence” of that “trespass”  was to “aid and abet” anonymous identified vandals–even if the defendants never knew them or their actions, entered and left before they arrived, etc.

Further, Young by no means presented any persuasive evidence that the four even trespassed.  The definition of 602o requires not just that you be seen in the building by a police officer, but that you be told by the owner’s agent to leave and then refuse to do so.   If that’s not proven, Young’s crazy “aiding and abetting”felony vandalism charges (punishable  by three years in prison) get flushed away.  Her only “evidence of vandalism” is the claimt hat the remaining defendants were illegally there and that their mere presence magically  “aided and abetted”.

Why would Burdick buy such a farfetched theory?   He said at an earlier Preliminary Hearing he was very upset at the vandalism apparently wanted someone to pay for the damage.   Apparently anyone present will do.  He may also have felt sufficient political pressure that required him to scapegoat someone responsible for the exorbitant charges that Wells Fargo claimed they paid in the clean-up–business given to out-of-county companies when presumably cheaper local business were available.

Police couldn’t or didn’t bother to actually document and identify real vandals on the scene and make arrests there–even for trespass.  They could have done this without risk to the officers or the people in the building after the first night.   But without real suspects, Burdick is stuck with the people the police forwarded–who also largely happen to be high-profile activists whose political actions they dislike.  So Burdick holds four for arraignment and trial.

After that January 22nd arraignment (for 3 of the 3), there’ll doubtless be a Motion to Dismiss.  A similar motion ended the court nightmare for two earlier defendants (reporters Bradley Allen and Alex Darocy) earlier this year.  The dismissal motion will be heard before another judge.  Before the  community dares to hope, remember that this is a well-oiled, politically-biased judiciary.  don’t count on any sense of justice burrowing its way through D.A. Bob Lee’s year-long and mile-high mound of crap.

Young’s claim that she came up with “new evidence”, for example, is another lie (among many she’s told the court).  The testimony of Sgt. Harms was not new, but was available when she screwed up the first Prelminary Hearing against Alcantara and Laurendau by having Detective Gunter contradict himself  on the stand about so simple an issue as what day he was there.  That should have been the end of the case there, along with strong sanctions for her withholding evidence and lying about it to the defense and the court.

Instead, Judge Burdick apparently believing it was Be Kind to Incompetent D.A.’s Week let her drag the case on for another nine months–and now for god knows how many months into 2013.

I’ve let myself spend far too much time writing about this phony case.  I can’t seem to help myself.

We must return to the original focus:  justice and equity.  Don’t let the police and prosecution terorize us into finding real and immediate answers to far more important questions.

How do we address survival threats against the homeless community (who face freezing temperatures, shelter for less than 10% of them, and official harassment under the Sleeping and Camping Bans)?

How do we end the wellp-financed foreclosure fraud menace of Wells Fargo and its bankster buds?

Empty buildings and obscene profits are the crime.  Those who waste time and money harassing the taxpayers are the criminals

by A. Supporter

Friday Jan 11th, 2013 7:26 PM

And what do the remaining four want the community to do for them?

by John E. Colby

Friday Jan 11th, 2013 11:41 PM

DA Bob Lee and his incompetent prosecutor Rebekah Young laid themselves as well as City and County government open to serious lawsuits. They can be sued for color of law violations amongst others like prosecutorial misconduct. The SCPD opened the City of Santa Cruz up to litigation by their officers perjuring themselves and advising DA Bob Lee to charge the Santa Cruz Eleven.The City and County of Santa Cruz have deep pockets. They, DA Bob Lee and prosecutor Rebekah Young must be held accountable so there is no repeat of this debacle.

I advise the Santa Cruz Eleven to shop for good attorneys ASAP. Remember to file tort claims against the City and County within 90 days of the dismissal of your cases to preserve your rights to sue City and County government.

by Legal eagle

Saturday Jan 12th, 2013 12:07 PM

…prosecutors are absolutely immune from being sued for their decisions whether or not to pursue charges. Before posting the nonsense you do, talk with a real lawyer…

by John E. Colby

Saturday Jan 12th, 2013 2:14 PM

Prosecutors are not immune to being sued for prosecutorial misconduct and violating civil rights under color of law. They are not immune to being sued for abusing their positions of authority.

by John E. Colby

Sunday Jan 13th, 2013 3:16 AM

Reading on the topic of litigating against prosecutors for misconduct shows that prosecutors enjoy far reaching immunity from lawsuits because of past Superme Court decisions:http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/washington/judicial/2010-10-05-federal-prosecutor-immunity_N.htm

Thus Bob Lee and Rebekah Young thought they could misbehave with impunity.

However they are subject to administrative complaints filed with the California and American Bar Associations. They can be fined. Their bar licenses can suspended or taken away.

Yet I think the more effective route is to file color of law complaints with the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) and the FBI. The USDOJ and FBI have far ranging powers to obtain evidence, interview witnesses and use other means to pursue their investigations. The USDOJ and FBI can apply both civil and criminal sanctions.

http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/civilrights/color_of_law

I recommend filing bar complaints — it can’t hurt — and filing color of law complaints too. Bob Lee and Rebekah Young must be held accountable. They cannot walk away thinking they are above the law. Asserting your rights protects the rights of those who come behind you. Ensure Bob Lee and Rebekah Young are never able to persecute obviously innocent citizens.

Bob Lee and Rebekah Young believe they are above the law. That’s why they were so arrogant. They cannot not walk away without consequences. That would truly be a crime.

by Legal eagle

Sunday Jan 13th, 2013 6:26 PM

…at your link John. It appears the “color of law” statutes only apply to law enforcement officers and not prosecutors. The FBI has no jurisdiction to investigate the DA’s office.

by John E. Colby

Sunday Jan 13th, 2013 10:05 PM

The District Attorney’s Office is a local law enforcement agency. They have engaged in a pattern or practice of conduct that deprives persons of rights protected by the Constitution or U.S. laws. The U.S. Department of Justice is empowered to initiate a civil action against the Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Office. Their criminal division is empowered to investigate corrupt local officials.Watch out Bob Lee and Rebekah Young.

To quote from the FBI website:

“Civil Applications

Title 42, U.S.C., Section 14141 makes it unlawful for state or local law enforcement agencies to allow officers to engage in a pattern or practice of conduct that deprives persons of rights protected by the Constitution or U.S. laws. This law, commonly referred to as the Police Misconduct Statute, gives the Department of Justice authority to seek civil remedies in cases where law enforcement agencies have policies or practices that foster a pattern of misconduct by employees. This action is directed against an agency, not against individual officers. The types of issues which may initiate a pattern and practice investigation include:

Lack of supervision/monitoring of officers’ actions;
Lack of justification or reporting by officers on incidents involving the use of force;
Lack of, or improper training of, officers; and
Citizen complaint processes that treat complainants as adversaries.
Under Title 42, U.S.C., Section 1997, the Department of Justice has the ability to initiate civil actions against mental hospitals, retardation facilities, jails, prisons, nursing homes, and juvenile detention facilities when there are allegations of systemic derivations of the constitutional rights of institutionalized persons.”

by Legal eagle

Monday Jan 14th, 2013 5:50 AM

…John, I realize we may be getting into semantics here, but the DA’s office is not a law enforcement agency. Only people who pack badges and guns are law enforcement. The DA is the “People’s” lawyer, representing the State of California and victims of crimes in court. The top law enforcement officer in any county is not the DA but the sheriff. Your “color of law” theory has no wings…

by Sylvia

Monday Jan 14th, 2013 10:44 AM

So to whom is the DA accountable? The Board of Supervisors refuses oversight, wouldn’t reduce the DA’s budget. I’m not aware of any cost-benefit analyses. The office is elected, accountable to the voters. Is a recall petition the only move? And what’s the point of that if there is not another candidate?

by Legal eagle

Monday Jan 14th, 2013 1:40 PM

…is up to the voters. And the civil grand jury, if a complaint is filed and the jury decides to investigate.

by John E. Colby

Monday Jan 14th, 2013 1:52 PM

To quote:”The District Attorney is the chief law enforcement officer of the county and works closely with all police departments in the county and state and federal law enforcement officials on investigations and crime-fighting and public safety initiatives.”

http://www.lehighcounty.org/departments/districtattorney/tabid/542/default.aspx

To quote:

“A District Attorney is the chief law enforcement officer for the county in which he/she is elected.”

http://www.luzernecounty.org/county/row_offices/district_attorney

To quote:

“By law, the district attorney is the chief law enforcement officer in the county.”

http://www.co.lake.ca.us/Assets/DistrictAttorney/docs/What+is+a+Prosecutor.pdf

by G

Monday Jan 14th, 2013 2:58 PM

Yes, where is the accountability? Who has jurisdiction over whom? The consent of the governed is a fragile thing!It is interesting to note how consistently lax and hand wavy the ‘law and order’ crowd is when it comes to the tyranny of the SCPD, DA, and Santa Cruz County judges (and large, felonious corporations, etc). In fact, one could easily draw the conclusion that apologists for authoritarianism are a reliable indicator of where the problems lie…

Someone say hey to Angel for me. There in spirit.

What is 75 River Street worth to Wells Fargo?

by Becky Johnson
December 23, 2012
FOUND ONLINE HERE

Santa Cruz, Ca. –  On November 30th 2011, 100 to 200 people entered an empty bank building leased to Wells Fargo and turned it into a community center.  After 3 days, they cleaned up the building and silently departed, having made their point: Empty Building ARE the crime!  Especially in a City where over 1000 homeless people shiver in the cold each night, and hundreds of people would welcome having a space such as 75 River Street in which to open a business, a non-profit, or some City service which serves the public. Instead, we get nothing. No jobs. No services. Very little in the way of taxes. A deadspot right downtown, so central to Santa Cruz it shares a boundary with the main Santa Cruz Post Office building.

A forlorn-looking “For Lease” sign has been hanging on the north-west corner for years now. Records show that last time the building had an occupant was in 2008 when Wells Fargo “merged” with the locally-owned Coast Commercial Bank. As of this date, its been empty for four years and counting.

Here is why we shouldn’t expect this building to have a tenant anytime soon, especially not at the $28,790/mo. asking rent. You see, the ACTUAL rent Wells Fargo is paying to property owner, Barry Swenson Properties, is $37, 714.90/month. Rentals of commercial properties in downtown Santa Cruz are extremely costly, but even so, no one has rented this space at only 76% of its actual cost.

To understand why Wells Fargo continues this practice, one must understand how banks work. This isn’t the easiest of tasks as bank practices are shrouded in mystery, with all disputes settled in mediation and not subject to criminal prosecution or public record. However, back in the early ’90′s, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago published a helpful pamphlet called “Modern Money Mechanics.” While currently out of print, some enterprising person photo-copied it and helpfully posted it online here.

Here is undoubtedly what Wells Fargo is doing with the property at 75 River Street.

Taking the higher amount (the ACTUAL rental cost) of $37, 714.90/mo. we multiply this by 12 so we can determine the yearly value/cost of the lease = $452,578.80/yr

This value is added to Wells Fargo‘s portfolio as an asset with a dollar value, whether it is rented out or not. According to the rules of the Federal Reserve fractional banking system, WF must keep 1/10th on hand and can lend out 9/10ths of the value to its customers in the form of home, car, and business loans. Therefore, the $452,578.80 becomes the 1/10th and WF legally places 9/10ths of that amount into its general accounts, manufacturing that amount completely out of thin air.

Wells Fargo now has $4,073,209.20 to lend out to you and to me. EVERY YEAR!

Cumulative expansion in deposits on initial deposit of $10,000 over several stages resulting in over $95,000 after 20 stages under Federal Reserve fractional banking system. –From Modern Money Mechanics

They get to keep all of the interest made too.

Out of  this inflated amount they pay Barry Swenson Properties $452,578.80 a year rent. He pays the property taxes of $40,000/yr. netting a profit of $412,578.80 per year on the vacant building.

Wells Fargo is now $3,620,630.20 to the good for just one year. This exceeds the asking rental amount of $345,480.00/yr rental income they would get if they actually rented it out to a tenant. Since the property is NOT rented, WF is probably deducting either the lower amount or the higher amount of $452,578.80/yr as a LOSS to offset profits elsewhere in their portfolio.

Now if Wells Fargo has any kind of relationship with any other bank, let’s just say Bank of America, since they have a legal relationship with any bank registered with the Central Banking system of the United States, including BofA. They can “lend” the lease to B of A as a “Stage 2″ deposit (minus the 10% WF keeps in its reserves).  So  B of A then takes the $4,073, 209.20 WF has available to loan.

Since they too are a bank, they can keep 10% as reserves so that THEY can now lend out $36,658,881 keeping the $4,073,209.20 “in reserve”. B of A can now “lend” this amount to another Central Bank, say Chase as a “Stage 3″ deposit and they can inflate the amount by nine-fold as well. And this is how money is created.

Why do bankers get to manufacture all this money out of thin air? Because of the Federal Reserve System which was established in 1913.  Why do we allow bankers to profit so immensely while leaving “dead spots” in our community? I guess because no one can believe what the enormity of their crimes.

Currently I am facing 4 charges leveled by Wells Fargo against 11 local activists, Occupy Santa Cruz members, and alternative media journalists. I am accused of felony conspiracy to trespass and felony conspiracy to vandalize the empty building at 75 River Street, as well as 2 misdemeanor counts of trespass and vandalism.  You see, as a homeless activist, I believe these buildings should be used for housing, businesses, non-profits, or community services. With homeless people dying on our streets, Empty Building ARE the Crime! While I am innocent of these charges, I considered the 3-day occupation of the building to be a righteous act drawing attention to an injustice occurring right in our community.

In addition, Wells Fargo has cooked up enormously overblown charges of $26,000 in “damages” for which they have submitted billing sheets. Of the 9 contractors WF used, not a single one was from Santa Cruz County, including rekeying the entire building using a locksmith in Foster City and getting broken furniture removed and taken to the dump by a contractor in San Leandro, California. In fact, these invoices for “damages” mirror the trumped-up documents Wells Fargo uses as assets to charge you and me REAL money.

But until the fractional banking reserve system is reformed, we will see no changes. Empty buildings surround every bank we see. And indeed, in Santa Cruz, they are everywhere.

Lemaster Lodging trial turns into inquisition and hate-fest

Becky Johnson: One Woman Talking

November 9, 2012

Original Post

Linda Lemaster (left) attending one of many pre-trial hearings with supporters, Leslie and Kent, November 2, 2012 for a “lodging” ticket she got two years ago. Photo by Becky Johnsonby Becky Johnson

November 9, 2012
Santa Cruz, Ca. –  According to ADA Alex Byers, Linda Lemaster faces Six Months in Jail for the “crime”of sleeping/not sleeping on public/private property with /without possessions for a long/short period of time which can be intentional/unintentional, all subject to the “permission” of the “authority.”
  
Linda is on trial for PC 647 ( e ) or  illegal “lodging” under a little-used portion of the State code, which sheriff’s had not used before citing protestors at Peace Camp 2010.
According to Byers,  a protester with his/her sign attempting to peaceably assemble to seek redress of government grievances may do so:
ONLY where the govt. tells them they can.
ONLY when the govt. tells them they can.
And, apparently, NOT while sitting, lying down, or sleeping since these = lodging. And if a Sheriff tells you you can’t “lodge” then whatever you are doing is “lodging.” According to Byers, Sheriff’s didn’t need to prove a person was “lodging” in order to issue a citation. Only that they were “still there on the steps when sheriff’s came back.”

On the night of August 10th, as Linda Lemaster was cited for illegal lodging, Sheriff’s moved elderly, Collette Connolly off the steps. Here she collapses in exhaustion on her belongings a scant 50 feet from the courthouse. Why Sheriff’s told us the steps of the courthouse were illegal at 4:30AM but the parking lot was not was only one of the many arbitrary and confusing encounters Peace Camp 2010 had with law enforcement. Photo by Becky Johnson

Oh, THAT’s a convenient definition of the code! When a sheriff hands you an unsigned piece of paper, then, according to Byers, that person “has been educated”that they no longer have the right to carry a sign, to protest, or to seek redress of government grievances.  And if a protester wants to publicly assemble? They must follow “time, place, and manner restrictions” which are not written in the law anywhere.
Christopher Doyon a.k.a. “X” of Peace Camp 2010 pauses on the lower steps at Peace Camp 2010. In the background, Ed Frey’s white, pick-up truck can be seen hitched to the camp porto-pottie. Other than Ed’s privy, homeless people had no access to a bathroom at night other than at Peace Camp 2010. Photo by Becky Johnson July 30, 2010
For ADA Alex Byers, camping = lodging except that “camping” is not illegal in that particular location under County Code.
While camping is , according to Byers, essentially the same thing, “lodging” rates 6 months in jail and/or a $1000 fine. And CAMPING is legal in the location where Linda was cited.   Committing the same crime in the City (and Lemaster WAS in the City when she was cited) rates a $92 citation or 8 hours of community service as a possible consequence. So why did the sheriff’s use the statewide “lodging” code rather than the County’s camping code or the City’s Sleeping and Blanket ban?
According to ADA, Alex Byers, it was due to “tolerance.”
Those at Peace Camp 2010 know better. The plucky little group had discovered that the County’s camping ban does not apply to the grounds around the courthouse and government center. In other words “camping” is legal there. Also, due to jurisdictional agreements, City police do not patrol the grounds at the Government Center. Sheriff’s opted to not enforce City codes against Sleeping and using  blankets. Codes that are all infractions, violations of which do not include jail. These were the twin laws the protest had assembled to challenge.
On July 29th, 2010, Ed Frey received a letter from County Counsel, Dana McCrae. She informed Frey that city ordinances ARE enforceable at the County Center, since it is within the City limits.  The SENTINEL reported that the reason no citations had yet been issued was because government officials, law enforcement officers and legal experts (had to) sort out what rules apply to the property.”

Peace Camp 2010 used public space which is unused at night. This photo taken on July 20th at 8:13PM shows people setting up bedding. At 8:00AM, Ed Frey would drive the porto-pottie off of the property and normal use of the facilities would commence.  Photo by Becky Johnson

Around the end of July,  County Counsel, Dana McCrae dusted off the lawbooks and dug up a code which used language lifted from an 1880 law in California designed to keep freed slaves from moving into the State. Judges Gallagher and in this trial, Connolly further eroded civil rights by creating a definition which lifts language from the 1851 Indiana State Constitution which states:  “No Negro or Mulatto shall come into, or settle in, the State…”

The new definition of lodging which Judge Rebecca Connolly approved: “To occupy a place temporarily or permanently, or temporarily settle or to live in a place, it may, but does not have to include sleeping. It means more than just sleeping and less than moving into a place permanently.”

Byers told jurors of the flyer sheriff’s passed out willy-nilly to anyone who wanted one: The flyer only stated you are illegally lodging without permission. Merely telling Petitioner or anyone else that they are lodging or that they do not have the owner’s permission in no way clarifies what lodging means or how one can avoid it. In this circumstance “to lodge” illegally appears to have meant to the deputies- to further physically occupy space in any manner on the steps of the Santa Cruz County courthouse.

Sheriff’s deputies stopped calling what we were doing as “camping” and started to accuse us of “lodging.” We knew something was coming. About a week later, sheriff’s handed out this flyer which had no letterhead, was unsigned, and unconvincing in its text as part of their “Education phase.”  –Photo by Becky Johnson Aug 7 2010
THE COUNTY’S PLAN
Byers told jurors about a 2-phased Plan to get the protesters to leave the location.
–Education phase followed by an Enforcement phase.
“Lt. Plageman testified that they weren’t’ interfering with the right to protest.
Their goal was to stop people from the intent of the protest which was to violate
the law.” He told jurors that flyers were handed out in the following way:  “If you were lying down, you were sleeping, you were violating the law. At 4:30AM, they were already lodging when the
Sheriffs deputies arrived. They were already breaking the law.”
Sounds like a slam-dunk.
So does the “law” outlaw lying down, or sleeping? No. PC 647( e ) outlaws “lodging”
but that word is not defined anywhere in the code. In 2011, at the Peace Camp Six
trial, Judge John Gallagher made up a definition by looking at old codes and
a dictionary.  Judge Rebecca Connolly has made up a new definition. In neither
case, were any of the defendants allowed access to either definition of lodging
when cited two years ago.
“The dictionary includes 14 different definitions of “lodging,” Defense Attorney Jonathon Gettleman quickly added in.
jurors don’t know that defendants (and their attorneys) have challenged that
Byers showed some really dark and grainy videos which roughly show a mess. John Valley’s voice can be heard and the sound of Linda coughing.  Even worse, he paints the protest as characterized as “junk all over”, none of which has ANYTHING to do with Linda Lemaster. Linda was wide awake at 11PM with no bedding. That, at 4:30AM, sheriff’s came and found her sitting up and looking sleepy, doesn’t mean a crime was committed.
Byers asserted more claims that I doubt are true.
“No one is allowed to lodge on the steps of the courthouse at night.” Huh? Lodging isn’t defined as an activity done at night only. And when Linda Lemaster was there at 4:30AM, she wasn’t trespassing. The courthouse steps were a legal public place to be (at the time. Since this has been changed by County administration to make it a crime to BE THERE between 7PM and 7AM).

Judge Burdick issues sanctions against DA’s office

Becky Johnson: One Woman Talking

October 10, 2012

Original Post

Banner from a rally held by the Brown Berets of Watsonville
in support of the Santa Cruz Eleven. 
Photo by Becky Johnson May 4, 2012

by Becky Johnson
Oct 9 2012

Santa Cruz, Ca. — I went to court this morning. There was much confusion. At my August 20th hearing, I had thought that only Franklin “Angel” Alcantara and Cameron Larendeau were required to be at this hearing. But my lawyer called me yesterday, apologized for not being able to come to the hearing himself, and told me one of the other attorneys had agreed to appear on my behalf.

When I got to court, only Angel and Cameron’s names were on the court docket. Wonderful. Someone screwed up again, I thought. I wonder who.

They call our case “The Occupy Case” which is ironic, considering all the arguments that went back and forth to disassociate the 75 River Street Occupation of a long, empty bank building from Occupy Santa Cruz and its encampment in San Lorenzo Park. In the end, OSC stood up and formed a working group to provide support to the Santa Cruz Eleven as we came to be called.

In my own case, I had a lot to do with the encampment in San Lorenzo Park and very little to do with the 75 River Street building takeover, but this case is not about facts and evidence.

We are now down to seven defendants. Bradley Stuart Allen, Alex Darocy, Grant Wilson, and Ed Rector have all had their charges dismissed due to lack of evidence against them. Judge Burdick had also found the case against Cameron and Angel to be lacking evidence, but ADA Rebekah Young refiled against them.  This hearing had been scheduled by Cameron’s attorney, Briggs, and Angel’s attorney Ruben.  But Ruben wasn’t there. Nor was Briggs. Lisa McCaney, appearing on their behalf asked Young “Where is the additional evidence that you said you had to refile charges against my client?” A photograph referred to in a police report has still not been produced.

Young replied that she had been “confused” as to which motion would be resolved that day. She wasn’t the only one!  Burdick had sharp words for Ms. Young.

“Its my understanding that I’ll be ruling on her motion independent of any discovery violations under discussion. Violations of due process and the procedural morass that has brought us to this point.”
This “point” being ten months into the legal process, eight months after sheriff’s came to my home and arrested me while I was cooking pancakes, and still two more months to go just to get to my preliminary hearing. And I am eager to get to that point too, where I believe I will too be able to dispense with the specious charges against me. You see, the DA has no case against me.

“I apologize. I’m not prepared to argue her motion.” What else is new in this case?

“The people here have a right to a preliminary hearing, not an additional discussion and no new facts,” Burdick told her.

“Your honor, I believed the two sole witnesses at the preliminary hearing to be sufficient.”

“She says she has additional witnesses who can identify Mr. Alcantara and Mr. Larandeau but none have been forthcoming,” McCaney charged.

“Work has been extremely sloppy and we don’t have viable opposition papers.” But then inexplicably he said “I’m going to deny the motion to dismiss.”

Burdick asked if there were any other discovery issues. Attorneys complained about an empty file on one of the disks, but Young insisted that that was how the file came from the SCPD. None of the attorneys mentioned that the videos released many months ago did not have soundtracks, but now, on videos released August 20th, the sound was back but without explanation. Of course this meant the attorneys (and defendants) must now go back and watch over 25 hours of videotape again in order to LISTEN to the dialogue of police engaged in while recording to see if there is more evidence there.

Hackett, appearing on behalf of Norse’s attorney David Beauvais said that Beauvais had repeatedly requested for procedural manuals on instructions for police on crowd control, use of tear gas, and their policy concerning 1st amendment issues.

Young answered that the SCPD “has no first amendment policy.” Burdick seemed puzzled by this. “There must be some manual or procedures for crowd control and the use of chemical agents.”

Should it be achieved by subpoena? one of the defense attorneys quipped.

Burdick ignored this and just instructed Young to “look for those.”

Then Burdick announced that he had contemplated what the appropriate sanctions against the DA’s office should be springing from his statement on August 20th. He ruled that the sanctions would be to bill the DA’s office for additional expenses that out of county attorneys only had when they were required to come to attend additional hearings due to Young’s failures to provide discovery in a timely or forthright manner. There would be no relief for defendants dragged to every hearing on threat of arrest, missing work, school, time with loved ones and incurring costs.  Attorneys are paid, defendants are not.

The remaining defendants face a preliminary hearing on January 7th at 9AM in Dept 6. A readiness hearing is scheduled for January 4th also at 9AM.

LINDA LEMASTER TRIAL TO BEGIN WEDNESDAY

In other cases, Linda Lemaster’s 647 ( e) “lodging” trial launches October 15th at 9AM in Dept 1 before Judge Rebecca Connolly. A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for 8:30AM in Dept 1 Oct 10th. Both cases will be heard at Santa Cruz Superior Court, 701 Ocean St. Santa Cruz, Ca. 95060

City’s War on Musicians has one less tool

Becky Johnson: One Woman Talking

October 7, 2012

Original Post

Robert “Blindbear” Facer, an Amish street minister, is issued a $445 citation for “unreasonably disturbing noise” when he kept a 31-year old nearby resident from napping. Jan 6, 2010 Photo by Becky Johnson

NOTE TO READER:  Can u imagine? The LAW that I was convicted under for singing a few songs in the middle of the afternoon in my unamplified singing voice in the FREE SPEECH ZONE no less!! has been found by a Judge OUTSIDE Santa Cruz County to be “unconstitutional”? Surprise. Surprise. Surprise. What’s next? Will the City seek the courts to expunge my conviction? Will they refund the $250 of community service I performed? An apology? Or will they just find another way to drive activists and musicians off of Pacific Ave.? —Becky Johnson, ed.

Judge tosses out part of Santa Cruz noise rule as too vague to meet ‘constitutional muster’

Posted:   10/01/2012 04:57:23 PM PDT
SANTA CRUZ — A federal judge has thrown out a portion of Santa Cruz’s noise ordinance and ordered the city to stop enforcing it.

U.S. District Court Judge Ronald M. Whyte ruled Friday in favor of an Alameda County man arrested in May 2010 after ignoring requests from a police officer to stop preaching loudly downtown. William Hampsmire was cited under the city’s “unreasonably disturbing noise” rule, though the District Attorney’s Office eventually declined to prosecute.

The judge found the ordinance — which bans noise that is “unreasonably disturbing or physically annoying” or “not necessary” to participate in lawful activities — is vague and “fails to pass constitutional muster.” The judge said determining what level of noise is necessary is subjective.
Hampsmire filed suit in the Northern District of California, San Jose Division, in May.

“I certainly think the city should have a noise ordinance, but the ordinance needs to be clear and measurable,” said Mike Millen, a Los Gatos attorney who brought the claim and said he has represented Hampsmire when officers elsewhere have asked him to quiet down.

The judge denied Hampsmire’s claim that his free-speech rights were violated and found no evidence that the arresting officer acted out of an objection to the man’s religious speech.
The case will go to trial unless the parties settle. Millen said he will seek payment from the city for his legal fees, which he estimated at $40,000.

City Attorney John Barisone said the ordinance has been upheld a number of times in state courts, adding, “This is really the first time a judge has had a problem with the language in our law.” He said he will work with the City Council to amend the ordinance for clarity.

The judge’s order does not affect other parts of the city’s noise ordinance, including barring loud noises from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. Deputy Police Chief Steve Clark said the ruling also does not affect the ability of officers to cite or arrest people whom they believe are using noise to disturb the peace.

Hampsmire was preaching on the sidewalk on Pacific Avenue at Cooper Street about 6 p.m. on a Sunday when a man in an office about 70 feet away complained to police about the loud noise, saying Hampsmire had been speaking for about an hour, according to a court record. Officer Patrick Bayani responded and determined Hampsmire did not need to be so loud, even to be heard across the street, and asked him to move or reduce the noise.

The officer said Hampsmire refused and told him “You’re going to have to arrest me for preaching … for my freedom of religion,” according to the record. The man began preaching even louder after handing his belongings to a woman who was videotaping the incident.

Hampsmire was booked into jail for disturbing the peace and later released, the record said.

The city used the ordinance in 2010 to prosecute advocates for the homeless who sang in protest outside Bookshop Santa Cruz, which is owned by the family of Councilman Ryan Coonerty, a vocal critic of aggressive panhandling and other social problems downtown. The city attorney said Friday’s ruling can’t be applied to previous cases.

Police have issued 121 citations using the rule since 2011, according to city records.

Analyzing Homeless Trash

Becky Johnson: One Woman Talking

September 23, 2012

Original Post

SENTINEL photo by photographer Dan Coyro shows two park rangers approaching a very messy campsite as part of the sweeps which began on July 9th, 2012. Such images are used to villify homeless people and portray the worst case scenario as the norm.

Do Homeless People “trash” the Environment?

What do the number say?
 
 by Becky Johnson
September 23, 2012
Santa Cruz, Ca.  — After a recent beach/inland waterway clean-up by Save Our Shores, the following formula was proffered: Litter Produced = (2.4 oz to 12.9lbs) per volunteer hour x hours worked. Using this standard, we can try to assess how dirty the areas where homeless encampments have been found were/are.
Unifying terms into decimals, we find a range of (0.17 lbs – 12.9 lbs) per volunteer hour collected with an average being 6.4 lbs on Monterey and Santa Cruz County area beaches and inland waterways
SOURCE: Classes of Trash, Monterey County Weekly Sept 20, 2012.
“At the extremes: Carmel River State Beach yielded an average of 2.4 ounces of trash, and Elkhorn Slough produced 12.9 pounds, per volunteer-hour.”  — Laura Kasa, Save Our ShoresSept 20 2012

 A homeless woman is rousted from a large encampment by the Santa Cruz Police Department on December 8, 2011 from San Lorenzo Park. Photo by Chip Scheuer
With this formula in hand, we can work backwards and determine how “trashy” an area was at the time of the clean-up. Since homeless encampments are found primarily in the inland waterway areas, those are the statistics we are most interested in.
Save Our Shoresreports that 550 volunteers picked up 850 lbs of trash (pollution) in 3 hours. So the average person picked up 4.6 lbs of trash at a rate of 1.54 lbs per volunteer hour.

  Photo of Occupy Santa Cruz encampment in San Lorenzo Park Nov 1 2011 Photo courtesy santacruz.com
The San Lorenzo River Clean-up produced 315 lbs of trash by 130 volunteers in 3 hours or 2.4 lbs of trash per person at a rate of 0.8 lbs per volunteer hour. While not as clean as Carmel River State Beach, 0.8lbs per volunteer hour is squeaky clean. Especially compared to the average found throughout the region during the entire beach/waterways cleanup.
Perhaps homeless people are cleaning up more trash than they are leaving?
Or these are areas where Public Works, Caltrans, and Boy Scout groups clean up regularly?
 In any case, groups like Take Back Santa Cruz and editorials by Don Miller in the SENTINEL can’t really claim that the  sweeps are justified because of a clear environmental danger.
City Council candidates Cynthia Mathews, Richelle Noroyan, and Pamela Comstock don’t have any evidence of an “environmental” reason for supporting the homeless sweeps. And Mayor Don Lane‘s silence on the sweeps is deafening.

Letter to the Board of Supervisors on Sweeps of Homeless Encampments

Becky Johnson: One Woman Talking

September 12, 2012

Original Post

Police photo of the destruction of the encampment in San Lorenzo Park on
December 8, 2011 by Santa Cruz Police, Santa Cruz County Sheriffs,  Scotts Valley Police, Capitola Police, UCSC police, Parks & Rec Rangers and First Alarm Security Services. An estimated 160 people were displaced.

 

From: Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom
309 Cedar St. PMB#14 B — Santa Cruz, Ca. 95060
(831) 423-HUFF or (831) 423-4833
to: Board of Supervisors, County of Santa Cruz
701 Ocean St. Santa Cruz, Ca. 95060
Chair: John Leopold Members: Mark Stone, Neil Coonerty, Ellen Pirie, Greg Caput
cc: Phil Wowak, Sheriff, County of Santa Cruz
cc: Dana McRae, County Counsel, County of Santa Cruz
cc: Susan Mauriello, CAO County of Santa Cruz
re: sweeps of homeless encampments in Santa Cruz
September 12, 2012
Dear Chairman Leopold, and members of the Board of Supervisors for Santa Cruz County,
As you know, the City and County of Santa Cruz have inadequate affordable housing available for poor and homeless people. While many public and private shelter options are available and have openings at any one time, they could, in no way, meet the sheer number of those who have no financial resources to purchase legal shelter. So it is with surprise, concern, and dismay that we read weekly accounts of a joint effort between the Parks and Recreation Department, Public Works, and the Santa Cruz Police Department quantifying efforts to sweep areas commonly used for illegal camping. As these campsites are being “abated,” press releases have been issued announcing the number of camps destroyed, citations issued and arrests made.
A related concern exists in County government with the recent sentencing of Gary Johnson and his attorney, Ed Frey to jail for 2 ½ years in Gary’s case and six months in jail for Ed for the “crime” of lodging. PC 647 (e) draws its origins from a tattered history of Black Codes, Jim Crow, and civil war racism which we had thought had been purged from our justice system during reconstruction. This misdemeanor statute, the statewide anti-lodging code has been mis-interpreted by our courts as outlawing sleeping, when a clear reading of the law says nothing of the kind.
We urge you to use your resources to free both Gary Johnson from captivity and to defer any further punishment of Gary or Ed indefinitely. We ask also, that you review whether it is either legal or advisable to use PC 647 (e) at all.
What these events and policies represent are peoples’ lives being uprooted, their meager possessions seized or destroyed, and the persons involved moved along, cited, or arrested.
Let me remind you, two of the three shelters in Watsonville closed recently. This Saturday, Page Smith Community House closes for 5 months, and will be moving its entire population into the Paul Lee Loft. This will leave only the 30 spaces at the River Street Shelter for emergency housing.
In the City, the current City Council are only willing to fund a bus ticket out of town despite critical needs for legal shelter.
With completely insufficient shelter available, homeless people are left to mill around, unable to sit down, lie down, or sleep whether it is daytime or night. Their overall health suffers, sleep deprivation occurs, and many who tend to self-medicate do so more. Even worse for local merchants, is that when these camps are raided and destroyed, their occupants have nowhere to go but into City parks and downtown business areas where they are not wanted at all.
Police raids, and Sheriff’s citations for illegal “lodging” conducted during an obvious shelter emergency, are unproductive, a waste of public resources, and in light of the lack of legal shelter available to these people, inhumane. HUFF has already called for the SCPD, Parks&Rec, and Public Works to CEASE AND DESIST massive abatement practices when no alternative shelter can be offered.
Now we are asking you, our elected representatives, to act to enact policy whereby PC 647 (e) citations will be suspended until the shelter crisis recedes.
“Housing” homeless people in jail for the “crimes” of “living” “sleeping” “lodging” or “camping” represent institutional abuse of persons whose economic circumstances forbid their ability to purchase legal shelter. Those who knowingly continue such practices will ultimately be held accountable for the human misery they are fomenting.
I thank you for your personal consideration of these issues and invite further dialogue. HUFF holds weekly meetings and I would invite all or any of you to attend our next meeting to explain your policy and practices using civil dialogue and an open process.
Sincerely,
Becky Johnson of HUFF

Santa Cruz Eleven brace for a long, dirty fight

Becky Johnson: One Woman Talking

August 20, 2012

Original Post

Santa Cruz, Ca. — Sunday had been upbeat. Defendants and their supporters met on Seabright Beach for a bonfire and cookout. Anyone strolling down the beach would see what looked like a relaxed, peaceful gathering of beach-goers — as all-American as apple pie. Few would guess it was a gathering of eleven people charged with felonies and their supporters fitting in one beach cookout on the eve of what all hoped would be a long-awaited dismissal of specious charges.

However, Monday morning in Judge Burdick’s court that was not to be.

This wasn’t to be the long postponed preliminary hearing. Burdick had cancelled that on Friday. Instead, assistant DA Rebekah Young appeared in court with DA Jeff Roselle and DA David Sherman. Over the weekend, the three had worked to create an evidence list of 13 videos, over 600 photos, a copy of the lease, and the police reports. They purchased 7 hard drives for the seven lawyers representing the seven remaining defendants, including the author. It must be nice to have an unlimited budget.

DAMAGE CLAIMS FROM WELLS FARGO DOCUMENTED

Young was also able to deliver via e-mail the billing sheets for damage alleged to be caused by defendants.

One look at them confirmed why Young had dragged her heels on releasing the documentation for the “vandalism.” Billing sheets had outrageous amounts billed with few details as to what services had been rendered totaling over $25,000. And not a single contractor from Santa Cruz County was hired.

For instance, Wells Fargo manager, Alicia Bucher hired a San Leandro firm to remove furniture damaged beyond repair. The cost? $6,545.41.

Last December, when the SCPD had shut off power and water to the building, protestors had made a make-shift bathroom in a utility closet. The cost to ” remove biohazard” was $6,222.83! The shit heard ’round the world?

Bucher hired a Richmond firm to “detail clean” the property. Protestors report the building was far from pristine when they first entered the building, not having had a tenant for 3 1/2 years, or seen an agent showing it to a potential client in months. The bill? $2,988.00.

She hired a locksmith in Foster City to rekey the building. While protestors used a key to enter the front door, and presumably only had access to the external doors, Bucher opted to have every lock and key replaced in the entire building and at after hours costs totaling $2,430.19.

Despite each and every billing sheet appearing to be padded to the maximum, there was no billing sheet for the graffiti on the air conditioning ducts on the roof of 75 River Street. This is surprising because this was the only damage for which photographic evidence exists. In over 600 police photos turned over to defense attorneys, no other vandalism has been documented.

There are no police photos of any “bio-hazard.” No “broken furniture.” No before and after photos after $2,988.00 worth of cleaning had been completed. No evidence any locks other than those the stolen key fit needed to be replaced. And why did the locksmith ONLY work after midnight?

This is a ridiculously padded account done to foster the claim protestors were out of control vandals rather than concerned activists trying to highlight the waste and blight left in Wells Fargo’s wake for leaving that building empty so long.

Defendants are also being asked to pay for the external fencing which Wells Fargo should have put up before the demonstrators occupied the building.

Why were no local contractors used?Instead Wells Fargo manager, Alicia Bucher contacted and hired contractors from as far away as San Leandro, but not a single Santa Cruz County business benefitted. Bucher herself has an East-bay area code, and no ties to the local community.

Could it be Bucher only used contractors she could manipulate to produce whatever paper-trail she desired? What does that say about Wells Fargo’s integrity generally?

PUNISHMENT PRIOR TO TRIAL

Lawyers, judges, and deputies get paid for what they do. Defendants do not.

“I missed my grandmother’s funeral,” Angel Alcantara revealed. “Her funeral was Friday in Fresno and I had to be here.” How do you put a price on this?

The case grinds on; despite little evidence against those charged and no evidence of vandalism committed by any of the defendants charged,

“It’s a weak case,”David Beauvais, attorney for Robert Norse told Burdick. “It’s time to end this charade.”

But DA Jeff Roselle disagreed.

“Someone broke into…entered private property without permission. Sanction our office but do not dismiss the case. The sanctity of private property has been violated.”

“What about the sanctity of our rights to free speech, to a fair and speedy trial, to dissent?” queried defendant, Gabriella Ripley-Phipps, shortly after the hearing.

Burdick opted to consider what sanctions he might impose but, apparently persuaded by Roselle announced “Serious crimes were committed. My discretion is not appropriately applied by dismissing these cases.”

NEXT COURT DATES:

Jan 4th 9am for prelim set
Jan 7th 9am Preliminary Hearing