Jan. 22, 2004
FOR PAUL: SThe latest salvo in
the battle against the recall of District Attorney Paul Gallegos
is a CD with two "hit singles" by a group of local
musicians calling themselves "Tammy Faye and the Fictitious
Mountain Boys." The lyrics to the bluegrass-style songs,
which have been getting airplay on area radio stations, were
written by Arcata watercolor artist Alan Sanborn. Rewritten,
actually, as the songs themselves are old stand-bys: The famous
ballad, "The Wreck of the Old 97," became "He
Won't Be Recalled"; and Woody Guthrie's "Pretty Boy
Floyd" is "Paul the DA." "He rewrote the
lyrics the way Weird Al Yankovic might do it," said Tim
Gray, an engineer at the recording session. This is not the first
effort by musicians on behalf of the pro-Gallegos campaign. "Democracy
Rocks!," a benefit concert in southern Humboldt last August,
was followed by a double-disc set by the same name and an associated
concert in Bayside last November. Still to come, a Friends of
Paul Gallegos rock concert at the Mateel Community Center Feb.
6 with young SoHum rockers N.P.K and Eureka-based Spudgun.
by EMILY GURNON
Catholic officials are refusing to name four additional priests involved in sexual misconduct with children in the Santa Rosa Diocese, which stretches from Petaluma to the Oregon border and includes Humboldt County.
The diocese published a report in its November-December newsletter, sent to all church members, which described the molestation scandal as being wider than previously reported.
In response to a national survey by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at City University of New York, the local diocese tallied its statistics on "misconduct" by priests: Since 1962, out of 410 priests who have worked in the diocese, 16 were "involved in misconduct" -- four more than had previously been reported. The cases involved 59 known victims, and the diocese paid $8.6 million from insurance and its own funds to settle claims brought by victims.
Deirdre Frontczak, spokeswoman for the diocese, said this week that Bishop Daniel Walsh, who authored the newsletter report, was not releasing the names of the four additional priests.
"None of them are serving, they haven't been serving for many years, and the bishop doesn't see what the point would be," Frontczak said. She added that one of the priests had died, one was cleared of charges by a civil investigation and the other two have left the priesthood.
Frontczak said she did not know whether any of the four had worked in Humboldt County.
There are also an additional 12 pending cases from the past not included in the diocese's count but added because of a state law, authored by Sen. John Burton, that gave sex-abuse victims a one-year window to file civil suits in cases that were too old for criminal charges. The one-year period ended Dec. 31.
Meanwhile, a former Humboldt County priest previously convicted in cases involving sex with young boys was named in a new lawsuit by a 37-year-old San Francisco man, filed as a result of the Burton law. Joseph Canada alleged that Father Gary Timmons molested him at a youth retreat, on a camping trip at Camp St. Michael in Leggett, and at a church rectory in Rohnert Park.
Timmons, 63, worked at the Newman Center in Arcata, at St. Bernard's Catholic Parish in Eureka, and at St. Joseph Parish in Fortuna, and faced criminal and civil charges for molesting as many as 18 children. He was convicted on two counts of sexual molestation in 1996, served four years in state prison, and was released in 2000. He is now a registered sex offender; his current location was unavailable at press time.
Among the charges detailed in Canada's suit was an incident at Camp St. Michael, which Timmons had founded in 1963. Canada alleges that he attended the camp with Timmons in 1977, when he was 11. He said Timmons told him to sleep next to him and that the priest fondled him during the night. Canada said he felt "horrified and embarrassed," but thought he would be punished for reporting the molestation. Instead, he kept silent for many years.
Canada's lawsuit was filed in Sonoma County Superior Court in late November by Walnut Creek attorney Michael Meadows, who called Timmons "a classic predatory child molester."
"I don't have one doubt that he founded this camp so that he could have a place to have easy access to these boys while they were away from their families," Meadows said. "He would pick the most vulnerable children."
In a separate lawsuit filed in July, an unnamed 43-year-old Eureka man alleged that when he was between the ages of 9 and 14 he was molested by Timmons .
by HANK SIMS
Humboldt County educators turned out in force at a meeting of the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, arguing that a proposed medical marijuana ordinance based on the guidelines set by District Attorney Paul Gallegos was not restrictive enough.
Their protestations evidently had an impact, as the board chose not to vote on the ordinance, put forward by Supervisor Roger Rodoni, and instead appointed a task force to study the matter further. As a result, a potentially potent political issue -- the board's judgement on Gallegos' pot guidelines -- is unlikely to be resolved prior to the March 2 recall election.
With the board's chambers filled nearly to capacity, the educators, supported by law enforcement representatives, engaged in a sometimes raucous debate with proponents of the ordinance.
"The thing that disturbs me is the permissive message we are sending to the community," said Kent Bradshaw, a member of the Fortuna Police Department. "I would encourage [the board] not to be swayed by the discussion I'm hearing here."
Rodoni, for his part, emphasized pot's medicinal value. "This is not a hill that most politicians want to die on," he said. "But, as we've heard, it involves people that are, in fact, dying."
Late last year, the state Legislature passed Senate Bill 420, which set a statewide minimum for the amount of marijuana registered patients are allowed to have at any time -- eight ounces and 12 plants. The law allows cities and counties to set more generous limits.
Under the Rodoni proposal, Humboldt County would allow up to 99 plants, a maximum 100 square feet of growing area and 3 pounds of dried marijuana per patient. The limits are identical to guidelines set forth by Gallegos earlier this year.
Educators raised several concerns about the proposed limits, saying they would send "the wrong message" to children and would allow for cultivation and use of marijuana in homes near schools. They also questioned the need for liberal regulations when SB 420 allows doctors to prescribe amounts that exceed local guidelines if specific patients require it.
"I'd recommend standing firm on the state's guidelines," said Kenny Richards, superintendent of the Northern Humboldt Unified High School District.
Medical marijuana advocate Chris Conrad said that while underage drug abuse was a concern, it did not directly pertain to the medicinal use of marijuana.
"I'm sure that they are worried about kids getting into marijuana -- we're not talking about that today," he said. Other advocates said that shifting the onus of increased limits to doctors would mean that those doctors would more likely draw the attention of federal law enforcement.
When the public finished speaking, Rodoni spoke not just of medical marijuana patients, but of other casualties in the drug war. He brought up the case of Sean Akselsen, the Southern Humboldt teenager killed in a drug deal gone bad, and said that most older people he knew favored the complete decriminalization of marijuana.
"They remember prohibition," he said. "They remember prohibition brought us Al Capone."
The proposal to appoint a task force was made by Jon Sapper, assistant superintendent of the Humboldt County Office of Education. The task force, to be led by Rodoni and Supervisor John Woolley, will be composed of representatives of education, law enforcement, doctors and patients.
The board is expected to formally approve appointees to the task force at its next meeting, with the goal of formulating a county medical marijuana policy within the next 90 days.
A county troubled by a recent
spate of gang violence. Criminal prosecution hobbled by budget
cuts. A district attorney under fire for being soft on crime.
The DA, of course, was Terry Farmer. The controversy he was enmeshed in -- it was an election year -- had nothing to do with a lawsuit against a timber company; it was about his alleged fondness for plea bargains, notably a deal he cut with one of the teenagers involved in the execution-style slaying of 14-year-old Amber Slaughter.
Local attorney David Prendergast, who would lose his bid to take Farmer's job, said Farmer's plea bargains, particularly for violent crimes and child abuse and molestation cases, made him "sick."
"The No. 1 problem here
is a lack of public confidence," Prendergast told the Journal.
As for the larger charge that he was a weak crime fighter, the DA said: "I'm not just a blind advocate for punishment. We convict the guilty. But justice must also be tempered with mercy."
Paul Gallegos couldn't have
said it better.
© Copyright 2004, North Coast Journal, Inc.