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March 31, 2009

OAKLAND: BAGHDAD BY THE BAY & MINE-CANARY

 

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WHY OAKLAND IS THE BAGHDAD BY THE BAY

AND THE MINE-CANARY FOR AMERICA’S INNER CITIES

 

The Oakland crime problem is not just some aberration.  Almost every major metropolitan area in the United States has suffered through governance by the soft-hearted social worker mindset; we all know the type – hand wringing liberals to a fault, who would never be caught dead having a drink with an off duty cop, and don’t support the services of front line police because police don’t “address the root problems of crime”. 

 

A new conservative or blue dog democrat is made every time one of these kind hearted souls is mugged.  Unless your local demographic consists of a mix of LDS families and Buddhists, any substantial reduction in your police services is an invitation to a thug-fest. 

 

The lessons of Oakland are particularly relevant during a downturn when city governments face tough resource allocation choices.  Oakland’s current problems began several years ago, when during a budget crisis, there were police layoffs and the Police Training Academy was shut down as a cost saving measure.  I predicted disaster.  I hate to be right about this kind of thing.

 

Oakland’s hapless mayor, Ron Dellums – the former heavy-hitter Congressman (an archetypical 60’s hate-the-military ideologue in those days), is profoundly disdained by most of OPD’s sworn officers.  The posthumous wishes of slain officers whose funeral took place before a huge audience Friday were honored: Dellums was not a welcome speaker. To his credit the mayor did not speak, enduring a silent public humiliation.

 

Mr. Dellums’ nemesis is a courageous, African American truth-teller, Chip Johnson, whose column for the San Francisco Chronicle has pulled no punches where Oakland’s crime and the failed leadership of its mayor are concerned.  It turns out that the mayor has a son whose story has been kept in the closet, like the proverbial crazy aunt in the attic.  That son is a convicted murderer who, by all accounts, would fit squarely within the violence-prone subset of Oakland parolees if and when he is released.   Reportedly, because Chip Johnson tried to interview mayor Dellums about is relationship with that son a few years ago, Mr. Dellums still refuses to talk to Mr. Johnson.

 

The rank and file members of OPD are acutely aware of Oakland’s parolee problem, the subject of my last posting and several other articles and OP Ed’s over the last several years.  That issue surfaced in today’s column by Chip Johnson.

 

“I want to know why the mayor isn't on CNN or a national news show talking about what happened here," said Sgt. Dom Arotzarena, president of the Oakland Police Officers Association. "What the hell are we going to do about these parolees in our town?”

 

Ad quoted by Chip Johnson in the SF Chronicle-- http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/03/31/BAIS16PMCR.DTL&hw=chip+johnson&sn=002&sc= b 910 .

 

Johnson also announced that a prominent democratic politician, Don Perata, California State Senate leader, will run for Oakland mayor when Dellums term is up in two years.  I know Don Perata. He is tough and pragmatic, a long-time supporter of law enforcement.  It should be an interesting race.

 

JBG

 

 

 

 

 

March 30, 2009

Remembering Fallen Heroes - Getting Serious About Parolees

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LINK: http://jaygaskill.com/OaklandParolee.htm
LET’S GET SERIOUS ABOUT OAKLAND’S PAROLEES

 

Oakland’s violence problems transcend all the other issues facing that formerly promising, now beleaguered city.  And its uniquely out-of-scale concentration of state prison parolees (and their home boys and camp followers) represents the seemingly intractable core of the larger problem. 

 

I strongly believe - based on a professional lifetime of ‘crime’ - that getting serious about Oakland’s parolees will mark a dramatic turning point away from violence and thuggery towards peace and civility.  Surely the cold blooded murders of Mark Dunakin, Ervin Romans, Daniel Sakai and John Hege were not in vain.  Surely their sacrifice can be the political and moral fulcrum for a turnaround.  Instead of a marker of Oakland’s slide into the abyss, the cowardly shooting of these four fine men can mark the beginning: twenty thousand mourners in the coliseum can become  two hundred thousand angry citizens shouting -------- ENOUGH!

 

FOCUS ON THE MAIN OFFENDERS

 

What exactly would “getting serious” about parolees look like? 

 

The problem of controlling Oakland’s parolees can be solved...provided there is a laser focus on the really effective things that can be done with existing resources and with coordinated, no BS leadership persistently engaged in supporting those measures and gathering even more resources.

 

Keeping a tight leash on Oakland’s parolees is not rocket science. Any attempt to ‘target’ the other crime prone individuals in the city might run into serious legal obstacles, but this should not be the case for parolees.

 

When a convicted felon is released from a California state prison on parole, he or she is released into a virtual prison.  [By the way, it’s almost always he.] 

 

State prison parolees are subject to greatly curtailed freedom of movement, reduced privacy and other special restrictions.

 

A SUMMARY OF THE TIGHT LEASH

 

General Parole Conditions Include

 

  • You may not have any firearm or object that might be a simulated firearm.
  • You must submit to premises and body searches on the sole authority of your parole agent.
  • You are subject to travel restrictions and you may not change your address without notification.

 

Special Parole Conditions Include

 

  • You may be required to have drug testing.
  • You may be subject to stay-away orders.
  • You will have other restrictions as appropriate.

 

Any sworn peace officer may be delegated by the (typically overworked) parole agent to apprehend, detain or search any parolee by exercising the same powers afforded the parole agent. 

 

PROTECTING THE INNOCENT

 

Parolees, by definition, are not the ‘innocent’.  We need to keep Oakland safe from its approximately 4,000 parolees, with particular emphasis on their comprehensive disarmament.  Some implementing changes in state law will be helpful, but most of this proposal can be implemented administratively via the adoption of new interagency agreements and protocols.

 

THE PLAN IN OUTLINE

 

(1)  The concerned citizens and sworn officers in Oakland are entitled to access to a parolee database.  Who are they?  Where are they now?  What are the applicable restrictions?  What were their prior crimes, juvenile and adult?  This database needs to be made available on the web, updated hourly.

 

(2) Every sworn officer in Oakland, from sheriff’s deputy to police officer is delegated and empowered by every Oakland parole agent to help enforce all parole conditions applicable to every parolee.  Peace officers are empowered by delegation and agreement to investigate, detain, arrest and search the parolee and his/her immediate surroundings 24/7/365 with the same authority and power enjoyed by the parole agent.

 

(3) A subset of violence-prone parolees is singled out for special attention: Any parolee who has a firearm of assault violation or has committed a crime that is inherently an assault (as in rape, robbery, carjacking).  No violation is ignored because the offender was a juvenile or it was “a long time ago.”  Remember- these are current state prison parolees.  Don’t be surprised if this constitutes a large plurality of the 4,000.  I would add to that subset any parolee who has “skipped”.  The entire subset of parolees is brought in and issued GPS leg bracelets linked to a central computer monitoring system.  Removal of the bracelet results in immediate arrest and a parole violation.

 

(4) We turn loose OPD and other local law enforcement agencies to track, monitor, search and detain individual parolees at their sole discretion, using citizen tips, GPS input, information from parole agents, informants and any other source that an investigating  officer chooses to rely on.

 

(5) As the technology improves, the bracelets can be adapted to issue alerts under certain conditions other than their removal, such as proximity to other targeted parolees and certain weapons.

 

(6) A parolee citizen hot-line system is established, staffed and publicized.

 

(7) Among the implementing legislation:  The sale, delivery or transfer of any firearm or other proscribed weapon to any sate prison or Youth Authority parolee, with knowledge of the parolee’s felony convict status, becomes a serious felony punishable by a mandatory state prison term of not less than 6 years.

 

(8) The punishment for any felony offense committed by a state prison parolee is tripled.

 

(9) Parolees who actively cooperate in turning in violent offenders (who themselves do not participate in the violence) are protected and rewarded.

Staffing Requirements

 

Without a doubt, OPD needs another 400 sworn officers, and the number of parole agents ‘supervising’ Oakland parolee’s needs to be commensurately increased.  But the implementation of these nine measures, when coordinated by state, federal and municipal law enforcement agencies and publicized by a cooperative media and a responsive public, can and will produce dramatic results even without substantial staffing increases.  The key to success is community and administrative buy-in.  The time is ripe.  Where are the Oakland leaders?

 

JBG
I strongly believe - based on a professional lifetime of ‘crime’ - that getting serious about Oakland’s parolees will mark a dramatic turning point away from violence and thuggery towards peace and civility.Surely the cold blooded murders of ,, and were not in vain.Surely their sacrifice can be the political and moral fulcrum for a turnaround.Instead of a marker of Oakland’s slide into the abyss, the cowardly shooting of these four fine men can mark the beginning: -------- ithout a doubt, OPD needs another 400 sworn officers, and the number of parole agents ‘supervising’ Oakland parolee’s needs to be commensurately increased.But the implementation of these nine measures, when coordinated by state, federal and municipal law enforcement agencies and publicized by a cooperative media and a responsive public, can and will produce dramatic results even without substantial staffing increases.The key to success is community and administrative buy-in.

March 28, 2009

Don't Just Weep for Fallen Good Men, Carry On

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funeral

 

 

Oakland Police Officer John Hege, 41, has now died at the hands of a homicidal thug during a traffic stop on Saturday, March 21 at about 1:00 PM.  His father, Dr John S. Hege told the press earlier that his son was attached to a ventilator but “does not have vital brain function to sustain life and will not regain that.”

John Hege was preceded in death by three other fine men. Sergeant Mark Dunakin (40) died on the scene of the Saturday traffic stop at the time Officer Hege was shot.  Mixon shot both officers at close range when they were down, just to make sure.

Two hours after the shooting, a  SWAT team surrounded the thugs hideout.  Sergeants Ervin Romans (43) and Daniel Sakai (35) were SWAT team members who died during the attempt to apprehend the killer of  Hege and Dunakin.  The killer, a typical Oakland thug, was hiding out at his sister’s place in Oakland.  Atypically, he was armed with military firepower, an AK47, firing rounds capable of grievously wounding anyone who was wearing anything short of Iraq combat gear.

 

 

HEADLINE IN THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, FOLLOWING THE MEMORIAL SERVICE IN THE ORACLE COLISEUM FOR THE BRAVE POLICEMEN WHO WERE KILLED LAST SATURDAY BY AN OAKLAND THUG NAMED MIXON:

 

“GET SERIOUS ABOUT GUNS”

 

THE BETTER HEADLINE:

 

GET SERIOUS ABOUT OAKLAND’S PAROLEES

 

I have attended several police funerals, all moving, but this event, attended by about 25,000 people, would stir the heart of the toughest soul.  As the fog of grief clears away, I commend to your thoughtful attention the single most apt quote from that three hour memorial service:

 

“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”
George Orwell

 

The assembled attendees and the million plus other who watched on television and listened – as I did – on the radio also learned that these brave men were kind, stalwart, morally centered men for whom Orwell’s apt aphorism was a calling.  They died so that our children can sleep peaceably in their beds.

 

The presence on the streets of Oakland, California of three to four thousand state prison parolees calls for more police.  Almost everyone in authority now realizes that truth.  And almost no one is prepared to make the necessary sacrifices to bring it about.  Oakland is ready, painfully and deeply ready for new leadership.

 

We all bleed blue.

 

Go to my post, THAT MONSTROUS CRIME IN OAKLAND, at http://www.jaygaskill.com/ThatMonstrousCrimeInOakland.htm .  For my overall take on Oakland’s crime problem follow the links at the bottom of the article.

 

Peace,

 

JBG

 

 

 

March 17, 2009

The Recession-Buster -- The Nuclear Option

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LNK: http://jaygaskill.com/RecessionBusterTheNuclearOption.htm

 

THE RECESSION-BUSTER
THE NUCLEAR OPTION

 

Here’s the clean, little secret: The waste and operational safety problems in the US and European nuclear industries were solved more than fifteen years ago. High level nuclear “waste”, the spent fissile rods that once powered the reactors, are not really waste at all.  They are recyclable. They can be reprocessed or even transmuted (via a breeder reactor) into fresh rods.  This can go on for several thousand years.  Lots and lots of swords and even more plowshares are languishing in the US inventory. Secondary waste, such as contaminated clothing, can be vitrified (embedded in glass such that only low radiation levels are emitted), and safely stored with minimal maintenance for thousands of years.  [I wish we could say the same about some of the worst chemical wastes in ordinary industry!]  Irresponsible environmentalists have blocked the multi-billion dollar Yucca Mountain atomic waste depository and a former president (Carter) has forbidden using breeder reactors to reprocess spent fuel rods.  Ironically, Patrick Moore, the original co-founder of Green Peace now favors developing nuclear power.  (Washington Post, April 16, 2006 page B 01)

 

This is all about security (something the nuclear navy has solved), political will and overcoming irrational fear. 

 

By January 2010, we could commence a total energy makeover. We will eventually do this because we must.  Why not now, when it will contribute to the restoration of the American manufacturing base, mitigate underemployment and help end the recession?

 

We will eventually rebuild the electric power grid just as President Eisenhower rebuilt the highway grid in the 1950’s. Electric powered transportation means huge electric current demands. Our old blackout-prone grids will fail.  So we will build a new grid, capable of carrying unprecedented electric loads; and we will make it more secure and stable. 

 

We can’t expect our car manufacturers to take bold investment risks in electric powered transportation, unless we make the power lines and generating plants needed for their success. We will start early next year on rebuilding America’s power grid.

 

We must build 200 new plants as fast as resources permit. And we simultaneously need to establish a nuclear security and waste recycling and disposal system worthy of a 21st century nuclear-electric economy.

 

The pace of construction will be calibrated to drive unemployment down to its lowest practical limits.

 

And that is to be the measure of our sacrifice. We will sacrifice subsidized idleness, the culture of over consumption and under-employment. We will sacrifice partisan bickering.   American talent is a national security asset. We must not, cannot afford to waste it.

 

We can and will do all of this -- and more -- because now is the time.

 

There is a time for everything in life. The time for lofty speeches is over. It is high time to get America moving again.

 

The irony here is inescapable: The founder of Greenpeace, Patrick Moore, a technically savvy engineer/scientist, is now an advocate of the rapid adoption of a nuclear-electric infrastructure. 

 

In 2006, Moore said:

 

“In the early 1970s when I helped found Greenpeace, I believed that nuclear energy was synonymous with nuclear holocaust, as did most of my compatriots. That’s the conviction that inspired Greenpeace’s first voyage up the spectacular rocky northwest coast to protest the testing of U.S. hydrogen bombs in Alaska's Aleutian Islands. Thirty years on, my views have changed, and the rest of the environmental movement needs to update its views, too, because nuclear energy may just be the energy source that can save our planet from another possible disaster: catastrophic climate change.

 

Then again on April of this year, to a group in Boise, Idaho, Moore added:

 

“The chemistry of the atmosphere is changing, and there is a high-enough risk that ‘true believers’ like Al Gore are right that world economies need to wean themselves off fossil fuels to reduce greenhouse gases.”

 

The only viable solution is to build hundreds of nuclear power plants over the next century, Moore told the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday. There isn't enough potential for wind, solar, hydroelectric, and geothermal or other renewable energy sources…

 

…. [And] “uranium can be found within the United States and also comes in large quantities from Canada and Australia. Nuclear Power reduces the reliance on supplies in dangerous places including the Middle East.”

 

The International Atomic Energy Agency Report

 

At the end of 2006, “There were 435 operating nuclear reactors around the world, and 29 more were under construction. The US had the most with 103 operating units. France was next with 59. Japan followed with 55, plus one more under construction, and Russia had 31 operating, and seven more under construction.”

 

“Of the 30 countries with nuclear power, the percentage of electricity supplied by nuclear ranged widely: from a high of 78 percent in France; to 54 percent in Belgium; 39 percent in Republic of Korea; 37 percent in Switzerland; 30 percent in Japan; 19 percent in the USA; 16 percent in Russia; 4 percent in South Africa; and 2 percent in China.”

 

(IAEA 2007)

 

Moore, again:

 

“… I don't want to underestimate the very real dangers of nuclear technology in the hands of rogue states, we cannot simply ban every technology that is dangerous. That was the all-or-nothing mentality at the height of the Cold War, when …[America saw] ‘The China Syndrome,’ a fictional evocation of nuclear disaster in which a reactor meltdown threatens a city’s survival. Less than two weeks after the blockbuster film opened, a reactor core meltdown at Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island nuclear power plant sent shivers of very real anguish throughout the country.

 

“… Three Mile Island was in fact a success story: The concrete containment structure did just what it was designed to do -- prevent radiation from escaping into the environment. And although the reactor itself was crippled, there was no injury or death among nuclear workers or nearby residents. Three Mile Island was the only serious accident in the history of nuclear energy generation in the United States, but it was enough to scare us away from further developing the technology: There hasn't been a nuclear plant ordered up since then.

 

“And I am not alone among seasoned environmental activists in changing my mind on this subject. … Stewart Brand, founder of the ‘Whole Earth Catalog,’ says the environmental movement must embrace nuclear energy to wean ourselves from fossil fuels. On occasion, such opinions have been met with excommunication from the anti-nuclear priesthood: The late British Bishop Hugh Montefiore, founder and director of Friends of the Earth, was forced to resign from the group’s board after he wrote a pro-nuclear article in a church newsletter.”

 

Political Prisoners of the anti-nuclear Priesthood

 

If General Motors, Toyota and / or their successors are offering to sell plug-in cars, where is the new electricity to come from?  How will the current, blackout prone grid handle the new demand? 

 

The short answer is that we have some heavy lifting to do.

 

In the June 26, 2006 issue of Scientific American, three authors (Paul M. Grant, Chauncey Starr and Thomas J. Overbye) proposed the construction of a “super-grid” to handle the country’s 21st century energy needs. This was followed by an August 21st, 2006 article in Scientific American by two scientists (John M. Deutch and Ernest J. Moniz) proposing a threefold increase in nuclear power plants in the US.

 

In the grid article, the history of blackout was discussed and we were reminded that time is running out:

 

“A more fundamental limitation of the 20th-century grid is that it is poorly suited to handle two 21st-century trends: the relentless growth in demand for electrical energy and the coming transition from fossil-fueled power stations and vehicles to cleaner sources of electricity and transportation fuels. Utilities cannot simply pump more power through existing high-voltage lines by ramping up the voltages and currents. At about one million volts, the electric fields tear insulation off the wires, causing arcs and short circuits. And higher currents will heat the lines, which could then sag dangerously close to trees and structures.”

 

The authors thought that the cost of the super-grid was staggering at 1 trillion dollars over several decades.  One wonders what they would have thought about a 1 trillion dollar credit bailout over several weeks!

 

A friend of mine who is in the position to know tells me that at least 9 trillion dollars in private funds are currently being closely held in cash accounts earning almost no interest because of the economic log jamb.  The next step is to provide leadership, vision, direction, and a rational path to investments in real things that generate real income for real enterprises. 

 

Rarely does politics and history present such a singular opportunity as the energy makeover.

 

JBG

 

 


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