Index
Wednesday
Dec172014

LOCAL GOVERNMENT (Orange County): Costa Mesa City Council: "Emails: Police asked for dirt on O.C. councilmen" ....

***Following up on most recent earlier item noted here (Costa Mesa City Council, arrest of two investigators, police union connection)....

* Los Angeles Times:  "Emails: Police asked for dirt on O.C. councilmen" - From the LAT:

In the months before the 2012 city elections, police officers in Costa Mesa mocked members of the City Council and suggested ways to catch them in compromising positions, according to emails contained in court documents. The emails among board members of the Costa Mesa Police Assn. came as the union asked its law firm to hire private investigators to monitor three councilmen who disagreed with the union's political positions on retirement benefits and other issues, according to documents filed by county prosecutors.

In one email reviewed by the Daily Pilot, Officer Mitch Johnson — then the treasurer of the city’s police union — suggested telling the union’s lawyers about an upcoming city-sponsored trip to Las Vegas in the hope of catching them breaking California’s open-meeting law. “I could totally see him sniffing coke (off) a prostitute," Johnson wrote of one of the targeted councilmen. "Just a thought.”

Two private eyes who had been hired hands of the law firm were arrested last week on suspicion of calling in a false DUI report against one of the council members and placing a GPS device on another's car and following him for weeks.

Police in Costa Mesa have tried to distance themselves from the 2012 incident and fired the law firm that employed the private eyes. But.........................

Wednesday
Dec172014

POLITICS/TRANSPORTATION (Bay Area): BART, new rail line to Oakland International Airport, service grounded by "piece of plastic": "BART's new airport link grounded by piece of plastic" ....

* San Francisco Chronicle (Matier & Ross):  "BART's new airport link grounded by piece of plastic" - From the Chronicle:

t sure didn’t take much to knock out BART’s new, $484 million rail line to Oakland International Airport — just a bit of plastic tarp and rope that landed on an electric rail during a recent storm. The domino effect was enough to force the 3.2-mile line to shut down for most of Friday.

“It certainly is something that is going to need attention,” said Joel Keller, president of BART’s Board of Directors.

According to BART officials, the trouble started Friday morning when a train ran over a piece of “fabric-like” plastic with a nylon-style rope that was on the rail supplying electricity to the cars for their doors, heating and lights. As the train passed over it, the plastic was snagged by a car’s collector shoe — the device that sends power from the rail to the train — and dragged for some distance. In the process, both the rail and the connector were damaged. Later that morning, a second train passed over the now-damaged section of track, knocking out that train’s collector shoe as well.

Upshot: The entire line had to be shut down for seven hours for repairs over 40 yards of track, said BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost.

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Trost said BART is investigating how a piece of soft plastic could do so much damage. In the meantime, agency officials have to worry about what other bits of trash could float onto the outdoor tracks and knock out their prized new addition.................

Wednesday
Dec172014

POLITICS/LEGAL: Jerry Brown, defense of his California Supreme Court nominee Leondra Kruger: "Jerry Brown calls criticism of Supreme Court nominee 'logically deficient'" ....

***Following up on earlier item noted here (Jerry Brown nominee to California Supreme Court, Willie Brown commentary)....

* Sacramento Bee:  "Jerry Brown calls criticism of Supreme Court nominee 'logically deficient'" - From the Bee:

Gov. Jerry Brown’s latest California Supreme Court nominee isn’t likely to run into serious resistance at her confirmation hearing next week, but criticism of Leondra Kruger’s residency (out of state) and judicial experience (none) has brought Brown to her defense. “There can be judges who sit on the court for a long time. You can compare their body of work and you can compare hers,” Brown told The Recorder, a legal news publication, in an interview Monday night. “And I think she stands very tall.”

Brown’s remarks came a day after former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown criticized Kruger’s selection in a column in the San Francisco Chronicle. Though a California native, Kruger’s experience has been in Washington, D.C. If confirmed, she would be the first African American justice on the court since Justice Janice Rogers Brown left in 2005, but the former Assembly speaker asked, “Were there no qualified African Americans in California?”

The governor rejected the suggestion that he has shunned state judges with three Supreme Court picks from outside the judiciary, telling The Recorder that such an argument is “logically deficient.” “The fact that I find someone outstanding doesn’t mean there aren’t other outstanding people,” he said. “I just didn’t happen to pick them.”

Wednesday
Dec172014

L.A. CITY HALL: Lawsuit vs. city, pedestrian killed by onetime City Hall aide: "Settlement reached in death of pedestrian killed by L.A. City aide" ....

* Daily News:  "Settlement reached in death of pedestrian killed by L.A. City aide" - From the DN:

A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit over the death of a pedestrian killed by a onetime Los Angeles City Hall staffer driving a city vehicle.

Gary Woodford, 55, was killed in 2012 in North Hollywood after he was struck by a Toyota Prius driven by Manuel “Manny” Figueras, then a field deputy to City Councilman Richard Alarcón. Woodford’s mother, Irene, sued the city and Figueras last year, alleging negligence and wrongful death.

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A jury trial was scheduled to start this week, but the two sides settled, said Michael O’Connor, attorney for Irene Woodford. A monetary payout is included in the settlement, O’Connor said. He declined to divulge the payout.

City Attorney spokesman Frank Mateljan confirmed the settlement, which requires Los Angeles City Council approval. Further details about the settlement aren’t yet available, Mateljan said.

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In addition to the civil lawsuit brought by Irene Woodford, Figueras was charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. He was sentenced to 40 hours of community service and three years’ probation...........

Tuesday
Dec162014

POLITICS/URBAN AFFAIRS (New York City): New York public housing projects, enforcement, NYC Housing Authority rules: "Police Patrols in New York Public Housing Draw Scrutiny" ....

* New York Times:  "Police Patrols in New York Public Housing Draw Scrutiny" - From the NYT:

In New York housing projects, police officers can demand identification from people who are hanging out in a public space, like a building lobby. Even if they prove that they live in the building, officers may cite them for “lingering.” It is not a crime, but it is a violation of the New York City Housing Authority’s rules.

There are many such rules that govern life in the projects, like no playing in the hallways and no barbecuing without a permit. Breaking any of them can put a tenant at risk of eviction from a system that offers some of the city’s most affordable housing. Simply waiting outside for a pizza delivery can draw the attention of the police, said Ronald Thomas, 24, who described being approached by two officers recently in the Red Hook Houses in Brooklyn. Only the deliveryman’s arrival spared Mr. Thomas a citation, he said.

Amid broader calls to ratchet down the pressure on low-level crimes, little scrutiny has been paid to a routine patrol tactic used by the Police Department: In public housing, officers walking a beat are watching not only for offenses big and small but also for behavior that is not illegal at all. “If you’re standing in front of the building, you can’t do that,” Mr. Thomas said. “You can’t sit in the park after dusk. They don’t let you do much around here.”

The deaths of two unarmed black men at the hands of police officers — Eric Garner in July and Akai Gurley in November — have prompted criticism of a host of law enforcement practices in New York, such as the zealous enforcement of minor crimes in minority neighborhoods and the aggressive patrolling of the city’s public housing complexes..............................