Tuesday, May 17, 2011

John Russo: City Of Oakland "Morally Questionable"; Part One

As of June 13th, John Russo 'transforms' from Oakland City Attorney to Alameda County City Manager, under a five-year contract that immediately give the hope of stability to a small island town that's seen a lot of instability, with five interim executives over the last six years, alone. In moving across the Oakland Estuary, Russo ends a period of both living and working in Oakland that started when he was 28 years old; he's now 52 years old.

It also ends a long string of City of Oakland-related video interviews with this blogger, that totals 15 and together have been seen, as of this writing, 21,307 times.

The next video interview will be after June 13th, when Russo sits down as Alameda, California's CEO, or more normally called, City Manger.

But on Monday, Russo, in conversation that produced the 38-minute-plus, video, had a lot to say about why he's leaving Oakland. He was relaxed, especially since cases and office management c decisions now fall to his three chief deputies, Randy Hall, Barbara Parker, and Vicky Laden, who handle litigation, Oakland City Council matters, and personnel decisions, respectively.

On that Monday, they didn't need to check in with Russo, but he was on hand to provide advice, and to finish projects and prepare for his move to Alameda.

On The Decision To Leave: Mixed Feelings

Russo says he has "mixed feeling" about the decision to leave Oakland. Not that he's unhappy about it, but, as explained above, he's leaving Oakland professionally for the first time since he came here from St. Louis in 1987, and before than from Brooklyn, where he's from. I've known John since 1990, and his entire life has been devoted to Oakland, so this move's a huge deal, for him and for his supporters. Like me.

While I have had different feelings, Russo doesn't feel he was "pushed out," of Oakland as we talked about in the video. "There are some people who are opposed to the gang injunction, there are other people who are opposed to the Fed's position on pot farms," he said. "Which was not my position; it 3was the Fed's position. There are some people who are opposed to the gang injunction who have this fantasy that 'The voice of the people has spoken,' and I have left as a result. That's really an ignorant position on so many levels. But on a private level, I can tell you, it's totally not the case."

John says that contrary to the views of some the gang injunction ordinance, which sets up boundaries and cracks-down on targeted gangs in Oakland, is "very popular. Particularly in the neighborhoods where we are seeking them."

John says he's leaving because he has "strong fundamental legal disagreements with the new leadership. (Oakland Mayor Jean Quan) and those who are speaking most loudly at the Council. And because I have fundamental moral disagreements with the direction that this government is taking in dealing with the crises that face Oakland."

Why Russo Did Not Stay And Fight

As I said in the video, Russo could "throw a punch that would be a nuclear bomb." Russo could publicly call out Oakland officials, and, in the most extreme case, bring a lawsuit against his own government. (And Russo did not, I stress, NOT, offer those as options; that's strictly from me).

But he didn't do that.

"Yeah, there's no doubt, if I wanted to stay here, and wanted to do what some of those opponents of mine claim I'm doing, If I wanted to gum-up the works. Somebody in opposition to what the government was doing in this role, could bring the government to a dead halt. And on certain issues, believe me, I'd love to take a different posture than this government has taken," he said.

"I think it's ethically inappropriate, because the city attorney has to follow the policy of the Council. It doesn't mean we have to tell the council what they want to hear about the law, but we have to enforce the policy of the council," he said, and by extension, the administrative policy of the Mayor of Oakland.

Russo says he's not the right person for the job.

Russo says that Oakland's problems in public safety and finance are "gripping the city," and he's totally opposed to the debt-based solutions being considered. And he said "The directions that the government is moving now are morally...not..uhm... They are, I think, morally questionable, and I could no longer serve, ethically, as City Attorney..." Russo, struggling to find the right words, said.

That's part one; part two on Wednesday.

NY Giants Expert John Fennelly On The NFL Draft 2011

John Fennelly is one of the top NY Giants bloggers, and a perennial expert on the doings of Big Blue at Giants Football Blog. In this rare video, Mr. Fennelly took time with this blogger to talk about the New York Football Giants performance in the 2011 NFL Draft. He's now joined Zennue62.com NFL Draft expert Bill Chackhes at Football Reporters Online.

John says that the Giants "did exactly the opposite of what everyone expected them to do" in the 2011 NFL Draft. He says Jerry Reese took the best players that fell to the Giants, starting with Nebraska Cornerback Prince Amukamara, and then UNC Defensive Tackle Marvin Austin in the second round, and who didn't play football in 2010 because he was suspended. "The Giants have a long memory," John says. "They don't care what you did as a senior, can't you play football."

For more of Fennelly's observations, check him out at Football Reporters Online, and at Giants Football Blog.

Stephen Hawking, Meet John Lennon: "Imagine There's No Heaven"

Continuing this blogger's video criticism of Stephen Hawking's comment that Heaven is a fairy tale, one reason why the professor's receiving so much bad press over his take is it's mean-sprited presentation. For example, The Guardian UK's Michael Wenham writes "Hawking says some admirable things, but the idea that I believe in life after death because I'm afraid of the dark is insulting."

Wenham's point is essentially that Hawking's presentation is lacking in any nicety that would make it palatable. Instead, he hits us over the head with the idea that we're all, eventually, broken down computers. Thus, my statement that Hawking never achieved orgasm, for a computer is unfeeling, and certainly not a believer in God, or a God of any kind, and will not say "Oh God! upon reaching the great climax of sex.

Hawking not only fails to make the critical cognitive leap from science to spirituality, he doesn't stop to even consider the power of faith and feeling. In discussing Heaven, Hawking didn't consider the approach of that great Beatle, John Lennon.

In the classic song, "Imagine," Lennon famously sang "Imagine there's no Heaven. It's easy if you try.." What John was trying to convey is a picture of a World without religious or national barriers, and he did so without insulting anyone who believes in Heaven.

That Hawking chose to insult, rather than to persuade with allegory and song, is telling about his overall character. Does Hawking love humanity, or want it to just go the way of broken down computers?

I wonder.

Meanwhile, I imagine there's a Heaven, and it's easy for me to try.

SF Public Defender Jeff Adachi Has New SF Police Misconduct Video

As if last week's introductions of new videos showing an San Francisco Police Officer carrying what Fernando Santana says is a large duffel bag that belongs to him, and that he reported stolen, now, today, San Francisco Public Defender held a new press conference to present a new video, one that has not yet been posted at the department's YouTube channel YouTube.com/sfpublicdefender.

Here's the press release that was sent from the SF Public Defender's Office, as this blogger was on the previously-scheduled radio show, The Tonya Hall Show out of Colorado Springs, CO:

San Francisco, CA - A San Francisco police officer accused of stealing items from a man’s residential hotel room following a drug arrest has been captured on video in a second incident, appearing to leave a residence at the Julian Hotel with property never booked into evidence.

The video, released today by San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, comes less than a week after Adachi released surveillance footage documenting a similar incident on Dec. 30 at the Jefferson Hotel.

The new footage stems from a Feb. 25, 2011 illegal search and drug arrest by Mission Station officers Ricardo Guerrero, Reynaldo Vargas, Jacob Fegan, Christopher Servat and Adam Kujath. Guerrero, Vargas and Fegan were also involved in the Jefferson Hotel incident.

In the most recent video, officers can be seen walking into the building empty - handed. However, Guerrero is later seen leaving with property that appears to be consistent with a laptop inside a bag, which was confirmed missing from the room later that day along with a camera. Vargas is carrying a second bag containing unknown items. Neither bag was booked into evidence.

Officers arrested resident Jesus "Jessie" Reyes, 64, for possession for sale of methamphetamine. Prosecutors dropped the charges against Reyes May 4th after Guerrero failed to show up to testify despite a subpoena. Reyes had never before been arrested, said his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Cindy Elias.

Adachi called the conduct "outrageous."

"This incident, coupled with similar footage at the Henry, Royan and Jefferson hotels, indicates there are groups of officers engaging in systematic misconduct," he said.

In the police report, written by Fegan, police claim Reyes matched a description provided by a confidential informant and stopped him as he sat in his minivan. Fegan wrote that Reyes agreed to let police search his van and then offered to let them search his room.

In Reyes' sworn declaration, however, he states that at no time did police ask his permission to search the van and that he never consented to any search. Police did not respond when Reyes asked if they had an arrest warrant, he said. According to Reyes, officers searched his person, took his keys and searched his room while he waited outside the room with Fegan. Reyes specifically told police not to search his room and asked if they had a search warrant, but was ignored, he said. After being booked into jail, Reyes' reading glasses were taken from him and he was asked to sign a form that he believed was to return his personal property. He did not learn he had signed a search consent form until he went to court.

When Reyes was released from jail, his wife - the only other person with keys to the room - informed him that their nephew's laptop computer was missing. A Sony Cybershot 12 - megapixel camera was also missing.

Surveillance footage from the property will be posted by 2:30 p.m. at youtube.com/sfpublicdefender

This counts as the third report of San Francisco Police misconduct allegedly caught on video. During Friday's 100th Bay To Breakers press conference, San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr said that such behavior was unacceptable, and "San Francisco Police Officer behavior must be beyond reproach."

Stay tuned.

Harmon Killebrew Passes Away - Famed MLB Player, Oakland A's Anchorr

Harmon Killebrew, the famed player, Baseball Hall of Famer, and later Oakland A's broadcaster (1979 to 1982) who played for the Washington Senators - Minnesota Twins major league organization as first baseman, third baseman, and left fielder, passed away today of esophageal cancer, which he had been battling since late December. Killebrew was 74 years old.

Here's the Associated Press video released after he was taken off treatment:

What's so shocking about this news is just Friday, Killebrew was taken off the treatment he was receiving for his cancer. This is just plain sad and sudden - the cancer was more aggressive than many observers believed, and I can't believe it.

Prayer go out to his family; he has nine children and 23 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Harmon Killebrew hit 573 homeruns, currently eleventh-best all-time. The street on the south side of The Mall of America is reportedly named "Killebrew Drive" in his honor.

The Real Housewives Of New Jersey Brawl And Don Lemon Out

For some reason the news about the latest doings of The Real Housewives Of New Jersey is more interesting to me that Facebook and Twitter friend Don Lemon announcing he's gay.

Don, good for you for coming out. But I gotta be honest: I'm happy because now I know I don't have you to compete with for the attention of single women in Atlanta! Don's an excellent television journalist and a good brotha - let's leave it at that. It's about as important as Ricky Martin coming out, and I didn't think that was a big deal either.

But, that doesn't mean Don's off the hook for giving Kyra Phillips just a rose for Valentine's Day:

Now, regarding The Real Housewives Of New Jersey, the news is about that wonderful action good for headlines: a brawl. And before we get to the "yous" who started it, here's the video, courtesy of Hulu.com:

Apparently, according to New York Magazine, since this blogger doesn't religiously follow The Real Housewives Of New Jersey, the whole deal started at a reception at a place called The Manor, when a totally hammered Joe Gorga tells Teresa, the sister-in-law of Melissa Gorga, mother of Baby Joey who was christened that day, to "just walk away. Go," as she came over only to say congratulations.

Now, my Italian friends would call a guy like Joe a "mamaluke," which is slang for someone who does something stupid. Which he did, because when Teresa didn't go away, he called her "garbage," and then pounds the table with both fists. Well, that's enough for Joe Giudice, Terera's husband, to want to pound Joe Gorga, and, as they say, it's on!

Now, is all of this news? Well, yeah. People are searching for it. Personally, if San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi had a little of the TV producer in him, he'd take all of those videos of San Francisco Police Officers doing bad things, put them all together and call it The Real Streets Of San Francisco.

Just saying.

Stay tuned.

American Jobless: “Red, White and Broke”

American Jobless: “Red, White and Broke” seems to be the new reality for millions of unemployed in this country.

Is Obama listening? Well, according to an article in the James River Journal about a meeting between the President and the CBC (Congressional Black Caucus), Obama just might be. From the article:

The President mentioned he wants to possibly attach the 99ers money to some other big piece of legislation somehow… which piece, how and when is unclear… The Congressional Black Caucus continues to bring the issue of unemployment benefits to the table. In this case the big table in the State Dinning room at the White House. Were it not for the persistence of Rep. Barbara Lee the issue would never be discussed in the White House. Much like so many other issues (high incarceration, programs for the poor, and so on) they focus on — almost no one else in Congress — is doing so.

The unemployed, “are begging for help and I think that the Congressional Black Caucus and the president are both interested in trying to come up with some means of addressing that and doing it rather quickly,” said CBC Chair Emanuel Cleaver.

The bad news for 99ers: The President does not seem deeply motivated to to actively support unemployment benefits in general terms. He understands that getting legislation through Congress without a trick play will be difficult. The White House also seems to bothered by the idea of bringing “unemployment” up while at the same time arguing that “jobs are being added and things are “slowly improving.” As 2012 approaches, the White House would seem more interested in PR and pandering to certain vote blocks than in “doing the right thing.” The “doing the right thing” argument has been brought up as a motivating reason to support H.R. 589 by several CBC members. The issue of stimulating the economy has also been mentioned. Problem is: Obama and his political strategists are assuming the black vote is theirs 24/7 no matter what. With that said, why act on initiatives being pushed by black representatives in Congress? Where is the leverage? White House efforts to placate voting blocks going into 2012 can clearly be seen in the non stop focus over the last month on immigration and The Dream Act — two issues important to the Hispanic community. Just yesterday, the President three Hispanic related events on his schedule. Hispanics gave President Obam a low approval rating in a recent poll and their vote is important in 2012.

When the issue is discussed it happens because it is pushed on him rather than the other way around. Just as a backgrounder on the CBC/Obama meeting in general: The CBC members controlled 94% of the discussion. They, led by Chair Emanuel Cleaver, came up with the policy suggestions and the topics of discussion. The President, in his usual listening posture, made a few suggestions and threw out a few “my staff will followup…” statements here and there.

The thing here is that America’s jobless millions are being beat up at every turn. Check out the following links to get a clearer picture of just what is happening all over the USA to America’s Unemployed millions:

Kicking the Jobless

Going Back on the Deal

Jobless aid in Arizona is in limbo

South Carolina UI Benefits: May Be Next To Slash Jobless Aid

Long-term jobless see reduction in benefits - USATODAY.com

FLORIDA: Unemployment Benefits Denied For Misconduct Outside Office?

Bleaker outlook for New Mexico's unemployed

Held Hostage Over the Debt Ceiling

MOi lawmakers wrangled over dogs, the unemployed and designer license plates

99ers and the Long-term Unemployed Are the Elephants in the Economic Recovery Room

CBC budget proposal includes $16B for HR589

When you look at what is happening in America today, it is easy to see that lawmakers in every state as well as Washington, DC are kicking the jobless to the curb when it was their own greed and incompetence that brought these problems upon the masses. The USA is in such a deep hole today, unless there is swift and effective immediate action to fix the unemployment problem and put Americans back on the job - the USA will permanently lose their long held prestige and prominence of being a world leader. Then again, maybe that is just what it is going to take for Americans to get off their “complacent back-sides” and take to the streets to DEMAND better from Congress and Obama.

[please donate so I can keep on fighting for the 99ers! Thank You!]