Friday, November 30, 2007

Adults who bully children

I've seen teachers bully students, but that is considered okay by most people, particularly people who have power in schools. It's okay for adults in schools to tell children that they are "losers," "future criminals," etc.

Everyone seems to agree that the adult who tormented Megan Meir went too far.

The cruelty and magnitude of the messages led Megan to hang herself in her bedroom closet on Oct. 16, 2006. Weeks later, her parents learned that Josh was not a real person. He was just an online identity created by a parent of a former friend of Megan's and her mother who lived down the street in their St. Louis suburb.

This post has been moved to here.

CVESD's mistake: equating Silverwing teachers with Castle Park Elementary teachers

A Tale of Two Lawsuits

(Castle Park Elementary 2001-2005) See photo above, with teachers Peggie Myers and Karen Snyder standing together, and the famous Robin Donlan seated

(Silverwing Elementary 2006-2007)

After its bad experience with dishonest teachers who banded together at Castle Park Elementary, Chula Vista Elementary School District's Lowell Billings and Tom Cruz were less open than they should have been to a petition from fourteen honest teachers at Silverwing Elementary.

The teachers union, Chula Vista Educators, had worked closely with the district to make sure that teachers at Castle Park Elementary covered up illegal actions and committed perjury during depositions in the Maura Larkins case. After the union and the district committed these crimes together, there was a close bond between union leaders and CVESD administrators. That bond continues. The core agreement of the bond between CVE and CVESD seems to be "Politics trumps legality every time."

If Danielle Coziahr, whose case against CVESD is in court right now, had spent her time promoting the union instead of making lesson plans and collaborating with other teachers, the union would have fought hard for her job.

The union would have fought as hard as it did for Robin Donlan and current CVE president Peggie Myers, two of the Castle Park Elementary troublemakers. When the district decided it wanted some law and order to return to Castle Park, it transferred Donlan, Myers and three other teachers. The union wouldn't have it. CVE past presidents Gina Boyd and Jim Groth made a huge stink. They were determined that teachers who committed crimes and teachers who covered them up should not suffer the indignity of transfer to another school.

The Danielle Coziahr case was very different. Of course, the district was completely dishonest when it said that instructional techniques were Danielle Coziahr's problem. The problem was that she had one young child, and was expecting another. She had "childcare issues." That's why she was chosen for non-reelection. She was marked for serious consideration on the day that her new principal met her. And her fate was sealed when that principal found out she was pregnant.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Alex Cortes takes the stand

This post has been moved to December 1, 2007 in this blog.

Why isn't Alex Cortes at school today? He has legal issues.

Alex Cortes and Tom Cruz of Chula Vista Elementary School District aren't helping kids today.

They have legal issues.

They've had legal issues ever since they fired a teacher for being pregnant. We all know what pregnancy results in: childcare issues.

And childcare issues are not acceptable at Silverwing Elementary School.




And childcare issues are not acceptable at Silverwing Elementary School.

At least, that's what Alex Cortes thinks, and who is Tom Cruz to argue with him? He's the assistant superintendent for human resources, you say? Well, he apparently got the job by not doing much arguing. Mr. Cruz would have done the kids at Silverwing Elementary School a big favor if he had nixed Cortes' bad idea in the first place. But Cruz seems to be quite buddy-buddy with lawyer Pamela Dempsey. During court breaks, they whisper and laugh. Maybe Cruz wanted to give Dempsey some work.


I think Alex Cortes was doing exactly what Tom Cruz, Lowell Billings and the board wanted him to do. Of course, I also believe that Alex Cortes is pretty heartless. He dehumanized Danielle Coziahr the minute he saw the baby in her arms. He was a good soldier for people who don't give a hoot about the law or the wellbeing of employees of CVESD--unless, of course, they have a political motivation to do so.

Thank you to those who informed me that it's Alex Cortes, not Alex Cortez. I've corrected my earlier mistakes.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Alex Cortes tells his side of the story

I'll go to court on Thursday, November 29, 1007 to listen to Alex Cortes' testimony. I'll report Thursday evening.

My day in court

Remember the joke about the principal who never bothered to observe the teacher in the classroom? Wait--that wasn't a joke, that was my life. It describes most principals I've known.

It seems that Danielle Coziahr's second principal was typical in this respect. What sets him apart is his attitude toward women with babies. He seems to have erected a glass ceiling above Coziahr the first time he met her, when she had her baby in one arm and her other arm extended to shake Alex Cortes' hand. He stepped back and observed her with disdain before finally shaking her extended hand.

As I listened to Danielle's testimony today, I was embarrassed for Assistant Superintendent Tom Cruz, sitting there in the courtroom with his Parham & Rajcic attorney, Pamela Dempsey. I feel that Mr. Cruz is basically a decent guy, with one weakness; he carries water for the wrong people. [NOTE: I WAS FORCED TO REVISE MY OPINION OF MR. CRUZ AS I LISTENED TO LATER TESTIMONY IN THIS CASE. I THINK HE IS A LEADER, NOT JUST A FOLLOWER, REGARDING DISTRICT WRONGDOING. OF COURSE, LEADERS WOULD HAVE NO POWER IF IT WEREN'T FOR ALL THEIR WILLING FOLLOWERS, SO PERHAPS FOLLOWERS ARE JUST AS RESPONSIBLE FOR WRONGDOING AS ARE THOSE WHO GIVE THE ORDERS.]

I hope that CTA is paying Coziahr's lawyers. They certainly ought to.

Tomorrow Alex Cortes tells his side of the story. That should be interesting.

John Carver on board governance

After reading a reference to him by Emily Alpert at Voice of San Diego, I took a peek at the website of John Carver, governance theorist.

I was left with two questions:

1. Since school boards so often "just do what their lawyers tell them," as a Vista Unified School District board member recently put it, why haven't you addressed the problem of how to deal with in-house and insurance company lawyers on your website?

2. Since you're a non-profit organization, who donates the money for your outfit to function?

Here's Alpert's story:

Don't Knock the School Board

Governance theorist John Carver, who chatted with me about the roles of school boards and why they often overstep their bounds, made this interesting remark Tuesday during our interview: "Almost everybody who makes fun of the board (and its dysfunction) ... if you put them on the board, they'd be just as bad."

Carver attributes the problem to a lack of clarity about what boards are supposed to do, not the failures of individuals.

November 28 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Dan Carroll and Laura Farris take on CVESD

Dan Carroll of McCann and Carroll is taking on CVESD in San Diego Superior Court. He is representing Danielle Coziahr, a teacher who is suing for discrimination based on gender and pregnancy.

I wasn't able to go in to court today for opening arguments, since I'm busy writing a motion to compel CVESD's lawyers to produce documents and submit to depositions in their defamation case against me. Why did they bring the case when they know that they have to keep the truth covered up? The answer is that they believe that public entities will continue to protect them, as they protect public entities.

I wonder what the paper trail looks like in the Coziahr case. It was virtually non-existent in my case, except for the documents that were altered or hidden.

Laura Farris is co-counsel in the Coziahr case.

I'll be looking forward to witness testimony tomorrow and Thursday.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Lowell Billings and Jim Groth together again

Lowell Billings, CVESD Superintendent

It's old home week down at the Hall of Justice for me.

Today I started watching a trial that involves lots of folks I know at Chula Vista Elementary School District. I don't know the plaintiff, Danielle Coziahr, nor do I know precisely what the case is about, except that it involves a charge of discrimination based on gender and pregnancy.

But the witness list looks interesting. It includes Lowell Billings, who, according to the district's own testimony, was closely involved in serious wrongdoing committed by CVESD in 2001 and 2002. Then there is Jim Groth, a former teacher and current California Teachers Association director who was deeply involved in those violations of law and contract. Jim seems to get along well with the district when it's violating the rights of politically-powerless teachers.

The district's lawyer is Pamela Dempsey, who helped cover up wrongdoing by refusing to honor public records requests for district documents. She was also covering for Mark Bresee, who used to work for her law firm, Parham & Rajcic, and was the first lawyer involved in violations of the Labor Code and alteration of documents committed by former CVESD administrator Richard Werlin.

Taxpayers, get out your wallets! You have to pay for this show.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

This isn't the way to make the world a better place

The Megan Meir case is a tough one.

Adults who bully children are a big problem.

But instead of trying to punish a woman who really isn't that different from a lot of others, I'd like to see people reach out with kindness to the many troubled teens that are still alive.

Here's an update to the Megan Meir story from The Independent:

A suicide victim and the town that turned on her cyber-bully
By Leonard Doyle in Washington
24 November 2007

For almost a year, the families that live on Waterford Crystal Drive kept quiet about the MySpace tragedy. Not any more.

When Megan Meier's family moved to the neighbourhood, a brand new family-oriented development near St Louis, they hoped that their troubled 13-year-old would make friends.

Like millions of teenagers marooned amid the malls of suburbia, Megan turned to the online networking site MySpace for friendship. When "Josh Evans" started to exchange messages with her, Megan, a 13-year-old suffering from depression and attention deficit disorder, was elated.

Their friendship lasted about a month. Then "Josh" brutally ended it, telling her that he had heard she was a bad person. That night, 16 October 2006, Megan hanged herself in her room.

When the truth about "Josh" emerged six weeks later, her devastated parents suffered another blow. It turned out that an adult neighbour called Lori Drew who had fallen out with her daughter had pretended to be the 16-year-old Josh to gain the trust of Megan.

Megan's parents, Tina and Ron Meier, asked their other neighbours to not to discuss what had happened, while waiting for the police to take action. But nothing happened: there is no law against being cruel and immature. Local papers refused to identify the Drew family, to protect their teenage daughter.

But now, bloggers have taken on Megan's cause, with an outburst of virtual vigilantism. The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that dozens of people have apparently been calling local businesses that work with the Drew family's company, which prints advertising. The Drews' home address, phone numbers, email addresses and photographs have also been posted on blogs such as and And there are reports that people are driving through the once tranquil neighbourhood in the middle of the night, screaming, "Murderer!"

To protect themselves to from vigilantes, the Drews, have placed security cameras on the roof of their house. They have also refused to talk to the media.

Megan's parents want to see the Drews prosecuted, and they want changes to the law to safeguard children on the internet. With cases of cyber-bullying being reported all over the country, their cause has the potential to become a nationwide movement.

Mrs Meier doesn't believe that anyone involved actually intended for her daughter to kill herself. "But when adults are involved and continue to screw with a 13-year-old, with or without mental problems, it is absolutely vile," she said.

Described as a "bubbly, goofy" girl who loved fishing with her dad, Megan struck up a friendship with "Josh" who told her that he was born in Florida and had recently moved to a nearby community called O'Fallon. Then he dropped her, telling her on 15 October last year that he had heard she wasn't nice to her friends.

The following day, Mrs Meier was taking another daughter to the orthodontist, and asked Megan to log off MySpace, where users must be at least 14. Megan called her mother, saying that messages were being posted about her saying: "Megan Meier is a slut. Megan Meier is fat."

After a row, Megan ran upstairs. Her father tried to reassure her that everything would be fine. Twenty minutes later, she was found dead. Mr Meier said he found a message the next day from "Josh", telling her she was a bad person and the world would be better without her.

Now police cars are patrolling Waterford Crystal Drive and prosecutors are trying to reopen the case.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Garry Kasparov is a bigger champion than ever

From Google's AFP news:

Russian opposition leader Kasparov jailed after demo
10 hours ago

MOSCOW (AFP) — Opposition leader and chess legend Garry Kasparov was jailed for five days Saturday after being arrested during a protest against President Vladimir Putin a week before parliamentary elections.

He was sentenced for organising an unsanctioned march and refusing to obey police orders, but told reporters the charges were "unfounded".

"What happened in court today looks like something unthinkable. Procedure was grossly violated, naturally I will appeal, but there can be no talk of justice anymore," he said in comments broadcast by the Moscow Echo radio.

The arrest came during a march in central Moscow by members of The Other Russia coalition, which is led by Kasparov and brings together radical leftwingers, moderates and liberal reformers opposed to Putin's policies.

Kasparov and one of his bodyguards were grabbed by riot police and forced into a police bus which then drove them away from the scene where hundreds of opposition activists were in a tense standoff with security forces.

"Freedom! Freedom!" supporters shouted after the bus, AFP journalists said.

Kasparov was also arrested last April after an opposition march in central Moscow was violently dispersed by riot police.

"We were posing no threat to public order," he told journalists Saturday after interior ministry forces surrounded him and his supporters.

"We wanted to peacefully march to the election commission. The powers that be are simply afraid of people who express their dissent."

Pay the writers! I want "30 Rock" back!

What's wrong with Hollywood fat cats? Why can't they share profits with writers?

I wish they'd settle.

I'm missing the folks on "30 Rock."

Dear Big Brother: You can know more about me if I can know more about you

I can understand why government wants more information about its citizens. What I don't understand is why government is keeping secrets about how it operates.

Government today seems to be turning democracy on its head.

What's the big problem with the federal Freedom of Information Act, and the California Public Records Act?

Why expand government power and secrecy at the same time? If government gets its legitimacy from the public, but doesn't let the public know what it's up to, then it's not legitimate.

When the public asks how much public entities pay their lawyers, there's really no legitimate reason for not telling us.

We must assume that the lawyers paid by us are actually serving a different master.

Who is that master? Elected officials? Public employees? Liability insurance companies? The lawyers themselves?

Or all of the above?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Adults who bully children

I've seen teachers bully students, but that is considered okay by most people, particularly people who have power in schools. It's okay for adults in schools to tell children that they are "losers," "future criminals," etc.

But everyone seems to agree that this adult went too far:

Officials Respond to Young Girl's Suicide
ABC News
Nov. 22, 2007

In Dardenne Prairie, Mo., town officials have passed a measure making online harassment illegal.

It's a different kind of Megan's Law, made in response to the death of 13-year-old Megan Meier. She hanged herself last year after receiving a malicious message from a friend she met online.

Megan became friends with Josh Evans on the social networking site Josh claimed he was 16 years old and being home-schooled in a nearby town.

But one day, Josh sent a message to the young girl, saying she was "a bad person" and "everyone hates you." He said he didn't want to be friends with her any longer because he had heard she was not nice to her friends. Others in the online community joined in on the verbal abuse.

The cruelty and magnitude of the messages led Megan to hang herself in her bedroom closet on Oct. 16, 2006. Weeks later, her parents learned that Josh was not a real person. He was just an online identity created by a parent of a former friend of Megan's and her mother who lived down the street in their St. Louis suburb.

The two teenagers had argued, and the girl's mother wanted to find out whether Megan was saying negative things about her daughter.

"That's the biggest tragedy of the whole thing," Megan's father, Ron Meier, said. "An adult did it."

Her mother, Tina Meier, contends that young Megan's medical condition, well known to her former friends, speaks to the malicious intent behind the messaging. "They knew she had depression. They know she had ADD, and they knew the medication she was on and they've known us for years."

Their awareness of her sickness, Megan's heartbroken father says, made their actions "no different than somebody handing her a loaded gun."

The police, however, never charged the friend's mother with a crime and also kept the mother's identity confidential in order to protect her child.

At least a third of all teenagers say that they have been victims of cyberbullying at some point.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bush misled regarding Plame, says McClellan

From the New York Times:

"The hints of intrigue and betrayal at the trial of I. Lewis Libby Jr. over the leaking of a C.I.A. agent’s identity grew even more intriguing today as a snippet made the rounds from the forthcoming memoir by Scott McClellan, who was President Bush’s chief spokesperson in 2006.

"In the 121 words released by the book’s publisher, PublicAffairs, Mr. McClellan appears to hold President Bush partially responsible for statements to the White House press corps in 2003 that later proved to be inaccurate — that Karl Rove, senior counselor to the president, and Mr. Libby, vice president’s chief of staff, never leaked the identity of the agent, Valerie Plame (emphasis added):
The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So I stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.

"There was one problem. It was not true..."

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Are Antimicrobial Soaps Breeding Tougher Bugs?

Some Experts Say Risks Outweigh Benefits

By Ranit Mishori
Special to The Washington Post
November 13, 2007

If cleanliness is next to godliness, modern America is the land of the faithful -- fighting the good fight against today's so-called superbugs with sparkling countertops and well-washed hands.

Our culture's cleanliness obsession has been fed by a booming business in household products that promise the virtue of sterility. According to estimates by the Environmental Protection Agency, our antimicrobial crusade has us spending almost $1 billion annually on soaps and detergents, toys and cutting boards, bedsheets and toothbrushes, all of them treated with chemical compounds designed to kill the germs that cling to them. At the forefront of this product niche is the antimicrobial hand wash, commonly fortified with the bug-battling chemical triclosan.

It may be a dangerous, germ-filled world out there, but with your little bottle of -- choose one: Dial, Safeguard, Palmolive -- you can stroll worry-free through it.

Or so you may think.

The problem about our obsession with killing germs, some scientists and public health advocates warn, is that it may ultimately do us more harm than good.

Chief among those skeptics is microbiologist Stuart Levy of Tufts University School of Medicine, president of the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics (APUA). Levy's research has led him to question why "antibacterial ingredients, once successfully used to prevent transmission of disease-causing microorganisms among patients, particularly in hospitals . . . are now being added to products used in healthy households . . . even though an added health benefit has not been demonstrated."

That's happening, Levy says, despite several "potential negative consequences" of these products, including weakening the immune system, which could lead to a greater chance of allergies in children, and their possible link to the emergence of antibiotic resistance -- the very problem that is making some diseases, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, so difficult to treat.

Members of the manufacturing industry, meanwhile, including Brian Sansoni, vice president of communications at the Soap and Detergent Association, contend that consumers can use these products "with confidence" because "they reduce or kill germs on the skin that can make us sick."


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thank goodness public entities don't do this sort of thing!

PAUL ELIAS of the Associated says today that Barry Bonds has been indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice. I'm sure glad that I can count on San Diego County Office of Education-JPA and its lawyers and employees not to do that sort of thing.

Oh, wait a minute.

That's exactly what they do, isn't it?

Poor Barry. He got caught, but lawayers like Daniel Shinoff keep going their merry way, intimidating school employees, and turning the justice system on its head.

Here's a quote from the AP story:
"SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds was indicted Thursday for perjury and obstruction of justice, charged with lying when he told a federal grand jury that he did not knowingly use performance-enhancing drugs."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Is school liability insurance a money pit?

Keenan and Associates versus California schools

In, San Francisco Unified School Dist. v. Keenan and Associates, No. A112106, 2007 WL 1417419 (Cal. Ct. App. May 15, 2007), insurance broker Keenan sought to compel the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) to arbitrate breach of fiduciary duty claims based upon alleged kickbacks received by Keenan from insurers issuing policies to SFUSD...

The Court found that Keenan failed to establish that SFUSD was a third party beneficiary under the contracts. Although SFUSD did claim such a relationship in its second complaint, this was not sufficient to defeat the presumption that parties presumably contract for themselves. Moreover, none of SFUSD's amended claims related to its putative third party beneficiary status.
A comprehensive weekly ADR overview from the National Arbitration Forum
Week of June 1, 2007

Monday, November 12, 2007

San Diego Diocese: It's time to settle with the last two victims of Father William Valverde

Response to article "Two reasons why church settlement isn't fair"

Logan Jenkins and Gerry Braun, along with many good reporters, could make the San Diego Union Tribune into a fine paper--if they could somehow get rid of all the unethical editors.

Today Logan Jenkins took up the cause of San Diego priest molestation settlement victims #145 and #146, who were left out of the settlement because of a clerical error.

Clearly, the San Diego diocese isn't interested in doing the right thing in this case, or it would have settled with ALL the victims. It is relying on a clerical error to avoid its responsibility to two people abused by priests.

The Church just doesn't get it, doesn't understand what Jesus was saying. Or maybe it just doesn't care?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Daniel Levin asked to be waterboarded to help him decide if it was torture

Daniel Levin was a seeker of truth, so the Bush administration got rid of him. Levin decided, after experiencing the procedure first hand, that waterboarding is torture except under the most carefully restricted conditions.

Today's editorial on the subject from the Washington Post:

The View From the Waterboard
A former Justice lawyer did his homework -- and raised a red flag.
November 6, 2007

"ATTORNEY GENERAL nominee Michael B. Mukasey may have his doubts about what constitutes waterboarding and whether it is illegal. Daniel Levin has no such questions.

"Mr. Levin was acting head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel in 2004 when he volunteered to be waterboarded, according to a remarkable Nov. 2 report by Jan Crawford Greenburg and Ariane de Vogue of ABC News. In the midst of revising the Justice Department's legal rationale on interrogation methods after the repudiation of the infamous "torture memo," Mr. Levin wanted to experience waterboarding, or simulated drowning, to determine whether it triggered the legal definition of torture. After being subjected to the technique at a Washington area military installation, Mr. Levin concluded that waterboarding could be illegal unless performed under the strictest supervision and in the most limited of ways. Mr. Levin finished drafting the new legal memorandum in December 2004.

"According to the ABC report, Mr. Levin's findings did not sit well with the administration. Then-White House Counsel Alberto R. Gonzales insisted that Mr. Levin add a footnote to the memo that made clear that the revised memo did not make the administration's previous opinions illegal. Mr. Levin was forced out of the Justice Department a few months after Mr. Gonzales was confirmed as attorney general in early 2005..."

Sunday, November 04, 2007

If you don't trust the San Diego Union Tribune, you just don't "get" it

No, Werner Erhard, the 1970's guru of "est" (the new age training that coached thousands of adults who were striving to "get it"), has not returned to San Diego.

Instead, the SDUT's Carol Goodhue is here to tell you that if you don't see it her way, you just don't "get" it.

In the past, some have found undertones of arrogance and condescension in the columns of SDUT Readers Representative, but recently Ms. Goodhue let that attitude come to the surface.

On August 27, 2007, Goodhue wrote:

"Stop me if you've heard this one: The news and opinion departments at this newspaper are separate, and news writers and editors aren't pressured to slant the news to match the editorials.

"Got that? I didn't think so."

Goodhue is correct, of course, that many readers don't "get" what she wants us to "get."

She's wrong in thinking that if she keeps telling us over and over again, she'll change our thinking.

We all know that the Union Tribune keeps stories, or important parts of stories, out of the newspaper, effectively silencing good reporters.

The only question is whether readers appreciate this policy. Some do, some don't. I'm one of the ones who does not.

Goodhue is doing what Karin Winner, William Osborne, and Bob Kittle want her to do: defending the indefensible. Goodhue mentions the infamous Don Sevrens in her article, for some reason that I can not fathom.

The column discussed above may be found at:

The mob moll, the FBI agent and the journalist

A journalist came forward in New York recently to get an FBI agent off the hook for murder. It turned out that he had tapes of a mobster's girlfriend telling a different story than the one she told the court.

I love this story. The cop turns out not to be a murderer, the journalist saves the cop, and the big liar turns out to be the mob moll. There's even a prosecutor who admits he wrongly charged a man. God's in his heaven and all's right with the world.

Murder charges dropped against ex-FBI agent
By Michael Brick and Anahad O'connor
International Herald Tribune
November 1, 2007

Roy Lindley DeVecchio, the retired Federal Bureau of Investigation supervisor charged with murder, walked out of court a free man this morning after prosecutors dropped all charges against him in the wake of new evidence that the government's main witness changed her account and may face perjury charges.

The lead prosecutor, Michael Vecchione, announced the decision to dismiss all charges this morning in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn, where DeVecchio, 67, was charged with helping a Mafia informer commit four murders in the 1980s and early 1990s. The trial, which began last month, was upended this week after a reporter revealed that he had taped interviews showing that the prosecution's main witness, Linda Schiro, a gangster's mistress, had given varying accounts and had damaged her credibility.

"Had we been provided with these tapes much earlier in the process, I dare say we would not have been here," Vecchione said as he stood before Justice Gustin Reichbach this morning. "The interest of justice at this point requires me to stand before you and ask you on behalf of the district attorney to dismiss or accept the dismissal of this indictment."

DeVecchio's lawyer, Douglas Grover, told the judge that he did not object to the prosecutor's request. Justice Reichbach then launched into a long speech in which he blasted the FBI for its handling of the informer, and concluded by dismissing all charges.

And with that, DeVecchio, wearing a slight smile on his face, turned around and strolled out of the courtroom as his supporters and fellow FBI agents gave him a round of applause. One of his supporters patted DeVecchio on the back as he made his way toward the exit and said simply, "I was right again."

The decision to drop the charges was a monumental reversal for the Brooklyn district attorney, Charles Hynes. Last year, when Hynes filed state murder charges despite a federal investigation that had cleared DeVecchio, he described the case as "the most stunning example of official corruption that I have ever seen."

Standing down now brought a sensational ending to a case rife with intrigue, plagued with obstacles and built squarely on the word of Schiro, once a Mafia assassin's mistress, whose shifting accounts have been increasingly evident since the new investigation nearly two years ago. Justice Reichbach warned Schiro in court on Tuesday that she could face perjury charges and appointed a lawyer, Gary Farrell, to represent her.

Tom Robbins, the reporter, who works for The Village Voice, said he had struggled with his decision to come forward.

"I did not know what else to do," Robbins said, adding that he had chosen to disclose the tapes after hearing the testimony this week and its role in the case. He said: "No journalist ever wants to go against a source. It's against our creed."

The trial centers on DeVecchio's relationship with his informer, Gregory Scarpa, a notorious capo in the Colombo crime family. Scarpa, known as the Grim Reaper, died in prison in 1994. In the case on trial, state prosecutors accused DeVecchio of giving Scarpa orders to kill rival informers and tips on pending arrests.

But signs of the case's weakness were evident from the start.

Within months of Scarpa's death, investigators for the Office of Professional Responsibility, the internal affairs arm of the U.S. Department of Justice, interviewed Schiro. Their inquiry failed to produce sufficient evidence to charge or discipline DeVecchio.

In 1995, federal prosecutors admitted during a trial that DeVecchio had given some confidential information to Scarpa. Their disclosure led to acquittals for several members of the crime family, but DeVecchio denied any wrongdoing.

In 1997, a federal judge, Jack Weinstein, wrote: "DeVecchio and Scarpa's relationship reflects, to a degree, the manner in which the FBI and other investigatory agencies conduct business with top echelon informants and the hazards associated with doing so."

As the accusations faded from the headlines, Schiro continued to give interviews to writers proposing books about her life with Scarpa. In 1998, she filed an affidavit in federal court in Brooklyn on behalf of Scarpa's son, Gregory Scarpa Jr., who was facing racketeering charges. But when the time came to testify in that case, on Oct. 15, 1998, a judge warned Schiro that she could face perjury charges because of her prior statements to investigators, transcripts show. Schiro left court and elected not to testify.

Americans want their country to take a new direction

A new poll says most Americans, including half of Republicans, want our next president to steer our country away from George W. Bush's values.

They've learned the hard way that anyone can claim to have a moral agenda, without actually having it.

Here's the story from the Washington Post:

Poll Finds Americans Pessimistic, Want Change

War, Economy, Politics Sour Views of Nation's Direction
By Dan Balz and Jon Cohen
November 4, 2007

One year out from the 2008 election, Americans are deeply pessimistic and eager for a change in direction from the agenda and priorities of President Bush, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Concern about the economy, the war in Iraq and growing dissatisfaction with the political environment in Washington all contribute to the lowest public assessment of the direction of the country in more than a decade. Just 24 percent think the nation is on the right track, and three-quarters said they want the next president to chart a course that is different than that pursued by Bush.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

New Yorkers shake their heads at continuing corruption in San Diego

San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis

Evan McLaughlin writes in Voice of San Diego Internet newspaper that Arthur Levitt agrees with those of us who think that powerful people were completely let off the hook during "investigations" of San Diego's pension mess.

Our own district attorney, Bonnie Dumanis, indicted employees, but not a single official. This is even worse than Enron. The most powerful people at Enron were brought to justice. But San Diego's D.A. protects Republican officials with an unwavering determination, while indicting Democrats for taking two hours off of work. We need a district attorney who isn't a clone of recently-resigned US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, using her office as a Republican campaign headquarters.

Evan McLaughlin reports:
Arthur Levitt, former head of the Securities and Exchange Commission and leader of the Kroll consultants that investigated City Hall, told an audience in New York yesterday that the SEC should've stepped up its enforcement in San Diego.

Levitt told the New York Private Equity Conference he is frustrated the SEC never charged individual officials who were at the center of San Diego's troubles.

"Here was one of the nation’s most beautiful, wealthiest cities with a strong regional economy, and it was on the brink of bankruptcy thanks to a group of political leaders more interested in looking out for themselves in the short term than the fiscal health of their city in the long term.

"And let me add that while the SEC took action against the faceless entity of the city, I am disappointed that they failed to bring a single action -- or hold accountable -- those individuals responsible for the San Diego pension crisis. Individuals were behind this debacle -- and individuals must be held responsible."
Wednesday, October 31 07