Kevin Hoover: We Need A Real District Attorney – October 30, 2010

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Paul Gallegos’ listless DA Office leadership is defined mostly by constant explaining and excuse-making, a supposed law-and-order DA with an uncanny knack for letting bad actors off on technicalities.

The other salient feature of the Gallegosphere is strenuously projecting progressive-hipsterism while running a very traditional, fairly brutal politics-as-usual machine.

Any one of the infamous criminal cases which ended with wrist-tap outcomes might have a quasi-feasible rationale, but Gallegos’ record has never added up to more than typical rural mediocrity. Very, very hip though, and certainly we’re all thankful for that.

Gallegos’s DNA is that of an extremely adequate defense attorney. He’s reliably malleable and dominated by the much-stronger personalities who manage him as a figurehead, including Master Ethicist Richard Salzman and Christina Allbright. These folks provide, in turn, political brains and ideological cover for their enterprise.

That’s good for Paul, because the man can’t speak for himself. Not even intending to, John Matthews of KSLG tripped him up just by asking his stance on Prop 19.

Gallegos is voting for Prop 19, you see, but he doesn’t endorse it. All John wanted to know was why you’d vote for something you don’t endorse.

Listen to the audio clip and be mortified as you hear our county’s top courtroom talent hem and haw, squirm and weasel as he tries to address this obvious contradiction while having it both ways, and fails.

Can any of the passionate Gallegos supporters please translate what their candidate is trying to say? It’s easier to understand dolphins than Gallegos-speak. “How many more people have to be killed?” the DA rightly wonders, alluding to that the strife the current nonsensical cannabis laws cause. But he won’t endorse Prop 19 “for a multitude of reasons,” none of which he will name.

The elephant in the room is that Gallegos isn’t allowed to endorse Prop 19. Cannabis legalization would undermine the business interests of his major supporters, who are fully invested in the broken status quo. But like any industry-approved politician, he can’t say that, so gasping and tense silences have to do. Does it really matter that the controlling industry is Big Cannabis and not pig ranches or a chemical factory, as in other places? It’s no surprise that Humboldt’s defense attorneys are just thrilled with Paul Gallegos. He’s always been and always will be one of them.

Rap artist Tone Loc appeared at a Gallegos campaign benefit in May, resulting in this Arcata Eye cartoon by artist Dave Held ( Gallegos liked it so much he had it autographed.

The cannabis industry-friendliness and vacuous environmental and social justice talk are why, when you call Gallegos HQ, a young, no doubt idealistic volunteer will probably answer the phone. These folks evidently think they’re helping advance social progress or environmental ideals in some way. But what has Gallegos really accomplished over the years on any of these scores other than mouthing words? The campaign volunteers could better spend their time helping at the Food Bank, or planting trees along a creek in Arcata some weekend.

For all its well-polished Hipster Moderne image-building, Gallegos is the figurehead for a hopelessly old school political machine. It’s one which fires dissenters, hires sycophants and verbally shreds enemies. In the latest example, the campaign manager’s Eye column attempts to conflate the Gallegos brand with Progressivism itself while concern-trolling accomplished environmental prosecutor Paul Hagen as some sort of witless tool of the Right.

Inevitably, Biblical scripture is invoked to cement this point. There’s nothing cynical or manipulative about this, mind you. After all, the question just has to be posed: Does Paul Hagen challenge the Bible?

It’s funny how only soulless monsters ever speak out against such a pleasant fellow as Paul Gallegos. Remember when dapper gentleman Worth Dikeman turned out to be a cop-lover and a racist? Now Allison Jackson is a drunken rageclown and enemy of civil rights. “We have to defeat the fascist,” said one frightened Gallegos supporter. Another one spoke with conviction that Paul Hagen is a “spy,” because he is seen at some of the same public events that person attended. So many enemies.

Given this progression, and with the Gallegos campaign’s newfound affinity for the Bible in mind, one can scarcely imagine what kind of morally bereft Spawn of Satan his next opponent would inevitably turn out to be four years hence. Happens every time.

It’s hard to envision Paul Gallegos masterminding the systematic discrediting of all opponents that marks his campaigns (or masterminding much of anything else, for that matter). For this kind of wet work, he has people.

The Gallegos campaign projects idealism and progressive values while funneling cash in the four figures to the likes of Richard Salzman. Political dialogue these days is toxic enough without this character going around throwing gasoline on it. But, as only a lying political hack can do, he’s managed to con a number of local politicians into thinking that he’s somehow essential to their political survival. “I am completely happy with the people that I work so closely with and I trust their integrity,” says Gallegos campaign manager Natalynne DeLapp.

At this point, many of us are weary to the bone of the enduringly mediocre performance of the Humboldt County DA’s Office, and even more fatigued with the frenzied flim-flamming and fakery that strives to mask it. These features, plus the scorched-earth attacks on any who question Gallegos, are the true hallmarks of his tenure in office.

Allison Jackson will run a streamlined, no-excuses DA’s Office. If you’re innocent, resources won’t be misspent on futile prosecutions. But if you beat your wife, kill a kid, steal a purse, torture an animal, dump toxic waste, wreck a neighborhood or spew diesel into a creek with a dope factory, you’re going to jail, dude! Have a nice day.

With a real district attorney, law enforcement will have confidence that their work in putting together solid cases won’t sit around getting stale as statutes of limitation expire. I’ve had police ask me to phone the DA’s Office for them about cases, hoping the press would merit the returned call that they don’t. It’s widely known, if not accepted, that politics, not prosecutions, is the currency of the Gallegos DA’s Office.

If Jackson turns out to be just another phony politico like Gallegos, if she impinges on civil rights in any way or if she simply doesn’t live up to the campaign pledges she’s making, she had better know that people like me will be all over her. Probably with redoubled, disappointment-driven commitment, since she’s the one selling a message of relief and straight-up performance. Read this and know, Ms. Jackson: we’re looking to hire a serious attorney here, one who will work on behalf of the long-suffering citizens of Humboldt County, one who will protect the innocent, convict the guilty and protect the rights of everyone without fear or favor.

The Gallegos/Salzman franchise is the establishment – the sick, unresponsive machine whose main function is self-preservation. It has become the problem. Allison Jackson is a strong woman and compassionate attorney. She can talk. We’re so ready for that, for a positive change.

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