Newsbites and Updates
Smoke in the Air: To log a verbal complaint about air quality when the skies are full of smoke from timber industry burns, call Air Quality Control in Eureka at (707) 443-3093 to speak to a live person and/or call Sacramento at (800) 952-5588 and leave a message on tape. You may voice your concerns, what you see and smell, how much smoke is in the air and how long it has been there. Be sure to mention any physical difficulties that may be associated with the smoke, such as burning eyes, sore throat, diarrhea, headache, or breathing problems. The Eureka office will tell you who is burning and where, if it's a large timber industry burn.|
While you're at it, call or write your political representatives and government agencies and let them know your concerns.
Gov. Davis Pushing "Smoke a Joint, Lose Your License" Law: In an unexpected development, the State Assembly Public Safety Committee, under pressure from Gov. Gray Davis, approved AB 2295, a bill to mandate an automatic six-month driver's license suspension for any drug offense. Federal law requires California to pass such a law or pass a law specifically opting out of it, or lose $100 million in federal highway funds. Gov. Davis has made known that he intends to veto any opt-out bill, to force legislators to impose "Smoke a Joint, Lose Your License" in order to keep the highway funds.
AB 2295 is opposed by CA NORML, who provided the information for this alert, and by the ACLU, California AFL-CIO, the Teamsters, the California School Employees Association,the Service Employees International Union and other labor groups. Thirty-two states, including every state west of Texas, have passed "opt-out" legislation, and a California poll by David Binder found that voters oppose "Smoke a Joint, Lose Your License" by 2 - 1.
"AB 2295 is an outrage to commen sense," said CA NORML coordinator Dale Gieringer. "It makes it a worse driving offense to possess a joint in your pocket or purse at home than to be caught speeding, driving recklessly, or with open liquor containers in the car."
Concerned Californians should make their views known to their California legislators and to Gov. Davis, State Capitol, Sacramento CA 95814, (916) 445-2841, FAX (916) 445-4633, or email email@example.com. For more information you may also contact Dale Gieringer at (415) 563-5858, 2215-R Market St. #278, San Francisco, CA 94414 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Legal Updates from SF Attorney Dennis Cummingham:
1. Cavanagh v. Humboldt County, November 15, 1996 case: Oral argument in our appeal from the Order dismissing our case on Summary Judgment, on grounds that the cops were within their authority to break up the Headwaters Forest demo because there was no permit, has FINALLY been scheduled for Wednesday, June 14 at 9:00 a.m. in Courtroom One, at the U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th & Mission Streets, San Francisco. Hopefully some people will be able to attend, so the court knows real people were affected by the illegal police action!
2. Lincoln v. Tuso, Round Valley civil rights case: Appeal is being prepared from the court's Order dismissing all claims on the grounds that the cops, supposedly being engaged in a manhunt for a (cop-) murder suspect, were just doing their job, and are therefore immune from a lawsuit. In the (long!) meantime, new blood in Mendocino County - particularly Sheriff Tony Craver - has caused some of the changes we were hoping to bring about with the suit, so we are exploring settlement. Stay tuned. For more information about recent happenings in Round Valley, check out the internet site, www.monitor.net/monitor.
3. Sythe v. City of Eureka: Also in the U.S. Court of Appeals (where civil rights cases go to get their whiskers), is this case about Eureka City Police pretending to see Althea Sythe stealing an officer's billy club from a ring on his belt, during the "Street Theater" action in Eureka in 1997, on a police videotape. Since the tape showed nothing of the kind, and had been used as a pretext to go to Humboldt State University and arrest Althea, as she came out of class, on a felony charge of Grand Theft, we made a case challenging the arrest. The District Court ruled that the tape provided no probable cause for arrest, and that reasonable officers could not have believed that it did, so they were not entitled to "qualified immunity" from the lawsuit. So, of course, they appealed the denial of immunity, because that drags the case out another 14 - 20 months. Now the Court of Appeals has assigned us to their mediation program, so maybe something good will happen a little sooner.
4. Geronimo ji Jaga (Pratt) v. FBI, LAPD, et al.: After losing their motion to dismiss the case, in which Geronimo sought redress to the disgraceful COINTELPRO frameup which caused him to spend 27 years in jail for a crime he didn't commit, which the police and the FBI KNEW he didn't commit - because they framed him - the agencies came to the table and last week agreed to pay a total of four and a half MILLION dollars ($4,500,000) to settle. The FBI will pay one-third, and the City of LA pays the rest. The best thing about this outcome is that it only took a couple of years to make them see they couldn't win, and that - given other things going on, especially with the police in LA - they needed to get rid of the case. Naturally, they don't admit they did anything wrong; the amount says it all. Geronimo himself has very mixed feelings about it, because he was looking forward to putting the FBI on trial for the whole COINTELPRO scandal, even now; but he knows that could have taken another lifetime.
Humboldt County Pepper Spray Victims Get Favorable Decision: A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of appeals ruled that the disputed issue of excessive force should have been left to a jury to decide, overruling U.S. Districe Judge Vaughn Walker, who had tossed out the case against Humboldt County Sheriff Dennis Lewis and others, after the first trial ended in a 4-4 hung jury. The panel also ruled that Sheriff Lewis and Chief Deputy Gary Philp did not have immunity from damages. According to a local newspaper, Humboldt County is planning to appeal the ruling and petition for a rehearing before the full Ninth Circuit Court. If the ruling is not overturned, the case will return to San Francisco Federal Court for a new trial.
Damage from Helicopter Logging: CLMP was contacted by a woman in Larabee Creek who has been suffering from impacts from the noise of low flying helicopters used in logging operations on Pacific Lumber property. She reported that windows in her house have been broken by the vibrations from the helicopters and she has experienced serious health problems, including being knocked unconscious, because of effects of helicopter noise and vibrations on her bionic ear. She has also observed negative effects on her animals and the local wildlife, during and after helicopter activity. Pacific Lumber Company has been doing helicopter logging steadily, rain or shine, for months in the watersheds near her home.