Our decision to block the web surfing abilities of the city of Palo Alto to our site did not come easy and as our director of IT stated, “there one of our biggest customers”.
From there site visits alone, we were able to analyze through data mining, popular pages, entry pages, exit pages, came from, keyword analysis, recent keyword analysis, recent came from, exit links, exit links activity and downloads a gold mine of behind the scenes activity a watershed of information.
At the same time we realized city government employees were surfing the web on our taxpayer monies. That’s extortion in my eyes, stealing monies off the backs of taxpayer while they should be working for us!
And they have the audacity for wanting to negotiate an increase in salaries and benefits when they should be looking at ways to save money.
Stop surfing the web on our dime!
Why would the city want to surf our site anyway? In the eyes of city attorney Donald Larkin former TOP city attorney for the city of Palo Alto stated were not considered a news reporting agency, were not “bona fide” reporters and he has directed city staff not to speak to us or grant us interviews [blacklisting] and yet they were, were one of our biggest customers. Go figure!
The actual lose in non-productivity in surfing the web can be staggering. One such white paper study by ** GFI – Internet monitoring: not ‘Big Brother’ but ‘Wise Management’ was quite revealing.
“According to IDC Research, 30% to 40% of Internet use in the workplace is not related to business.”
“The cost of employees surfing the web from their office PCs is estimated to cost US companies more than $1 billion dollars a year”
Our data revealed that the Palo Alto police department was the largest abuser of non-productivity time . Hundreds of hours spent surfing our site when in fact they should have been out policing our streets a job well compensated for.
This is just one other area which we believe is out-of-control under police Chief Dennis Burns’s leadership with no accountability and or transparency in sight by anyone!! Here’s a brief snapshot and calculation of the city of Palo Alto’s employees attempts to access our site since imposing our ban.
Note our chart of their activities for all departments.
Time spent surfing Paloaltofrees.com by the City of Palo Alto and its employees.
Less than 5 secs
From 5 secs to 30 secs
From 30 secs to 5 mins
From 5 mins to 20 mins
From 20 mins to an hour
Longer than an hour
City of Palo Alto Employee Surfing Stats
First Time Visitors
1-5 Returning Visits
6-10 Returning Visits
10+ Returning Visits
Now, for the actual non-productive time spent as waist in terms of dollars lost to the taxpayers of the City of Palo Alto?
We beleive accountability and transparency for this task should come from the cities finance department.
It should be their responsibility to calculate this lost time in productivity and to hold all those responsible for potential fraud and extortion of taxpayers monies.
However, for those of you who are math wiz’s and based on our analysis, we have provider 2009 Gross Salaries for the city of Palo Alto in excel format for the purposes of your own analysis and the actual losses may taser you to your senses that our current city leadership is simply not doing the job to which they were elected for.
**About GFI, GFI Software provides web and mail security, archiving, backup and fax, networking and security software and hosted IT solutions for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) via an extensive global partner community.
GFI products are available either as on-premise solutions, in the cloud or as a hybrid of both delivery models. With award-winning technology, a competitive pricing strategy, and a strong focus on the unique requirements of SMEs, GFI satisfies the IT needs of organizations on a global scale.
The company has offices in the United States (North Carolina, California and Florida), UK (London and Dundee), Austria, Australia, Malta, Hong Kong, Philippines and Romania, which together support hundreds of thousands of installations worldwide.
GFI is a channel-focused company with thousands of partners throughout the world and is also a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner. More information about GFI can be found at http://www.gfi.com.
Up-dated: July 1, 2011. One PAPD alleged internet abuser identified as Sergeant Scott Savage.
United States Federal Judge Lucy H. Koh will not permit me to present evidence to the jury, the evidence I have provided to her. Judge Koh concluded that NO tampering of evidence occurred.
This is your opportunity to be the judge and decide if the Palo Alto Police Falsified the MAV (Mobil Audio Visual), recorders, the Taser cameras and the taser gun Data Ports. For complete details go to www.freewillbill.com I have included some videos as well
Welcome to the Palo Alto Human Relations Commission Now Go Home!
Perhaps thousands of emails sent to firstname.lastname@example.org have gone unanswered. And no one in the community has been informed of this change. So it would appear the community has been left in the dark.
So if you have been sending your heart felt email concerns to the Human Relations Committee no one is listening.
We at Palo Alto Free Press have been striving to get at the truth for months now and no one at city hall seems to be concerned.
In fact, the non-responsiveness by the Human Relation Committee has been raised on multiple occasions even being brought before city council and like the HRC; it’s fallen on deaf ears.
** On news media inquires: “Dear Mark: I’ve changed my mind. Don’t want to play gotcha. Ray”
HRC Mission: To address human relations issues, including promotion of awareness, understanding and resolution of actual or potential conflicts, discrimination, or injustice while encouraging community building and civic engagement.
Practicing the Art of Deception – Were well past the date on answers to our California Public Records Request digging, probing, reporting on the answers as to why the email address HR@cityofpaloalto.org was turned off.
None of the committee members are willing and refuse to engage us in any meaningful discussions contrary to their mission statement.
Council Liaison: Gail Price
Staff Liaison: Minka van der Zwaag – 650-463-4953
The HRC decision to turn-off perhaps one of the most important features and channels of communications with the community is mind boggling. Equally mind boggling is the fact that no one, no one cares to step-up to the plate and address this ‘human relations issue’.
They have torched their own bridge to community building and civic engagement. We have been deceived!! What we did learn through persistent probing was that the email address was turned off.
The Human Relations Commission email had been non-functioning, but that has now been remedied. You may send in all further inquiries to the Human Relations Commission to email@example.com.
Minka van der Zwaag
Staff liaison to the HRC
What we didn’t learn were ALL the reasons surrounding why the decision was made to turn-off the email address and most importunately why no public announcement in the first place.
Nor did they answer any of the questions posed by our California Public Records Request and it would appear the entire HRC is indeed masters in the art of community deception and so we leave them and the community with the following quote:
“Deception is a cruel act…It often has many players on different stages that corrode the soul.”
Donna A. Favor – Member of the Board of Directors of the Montgomery Institute, 1955
What does the San Francisco Anti-Circumcision Proposition, ARC – ATTORNEY’S for the Rights of Children, Larry Schofield – an unemployed activist, Sharia Law, and Female Genital Mutilation all have in common ?
Everyone laughs at San Francisco – the world’s largest outdoor insane asylum. But as California goes, so goes the nation. And where are we going now?
You may have first heard that there was a nutty movement in SF to stop the circumcision of young boys, and then to even fund the reconstruction of circumcised adults with City Tax money. Everyone laughed. The joke was…. all so that gay men would have a ‘little more to play around with…’
Let them do whatever they want, it doesn’t bother anybody. Oh really. Who put up the money and organized the protests to put this proposition on the ballot ?
The SF media reports that that there are gay activists and several Muslim-Jewish ‘front’ groups supposedly allied, claiming to support the SF Proposition prohibiting the Circumcision of boys. In addition, there have been several newspaper articles that published surveys, polls and goals of anti-religious tradition groups seeking more freedom and rights for men and young boys.
It turns out most of this noise has been effective in writing a law and now getting it on the ballot for a vote by the people of San Francisco. The big question is why? And who? Who is really behind this fiasco?
A group of attorneys in Berkeley, also working in San Francisco and calling themselves the ‘Attorneys for the Rights of Children-ARC,’ has funded an unemployed activist named Larry Schofield to stage small demonstrations and protests in favor of the ACL – Anti-Circumcision Law.
Why? Because these attorneys plan to expand the area of potential lawsuits and punitive monetary awards by enabling young men to sue their parents, if the men were circumcised as children. Think this can’t happen ? Remember, these are lawyers. Lawyers only get paid, when you get sued. Think of all the Gen X’rs, Generation Y’s, with pitiful job prospects, envying mom and dad’s house, savings, investments.
You had your child circumcised 25 years ago and now you get sued for $100,000 because your unemployed gay son has a good lawyer who will bet One Third of that $ 100,000 as a Contingency for services rendered.
But why would Muslim groups be against Circumcision and in support of a Gay ‘right’ when Islam is sternly against anything homosexual ? Here the plot thickens. There are sexual equivalency laws in the good ole US of A. Men and Women are to be treated equally, the same, all the time. We have female Cops, female Firemen, even Female grunts fighting in Afghanistan.
If this Proposition is rejected by the voters and thus the Circumcision of young boys continues, then Women (young girls) will be ‘entitled to’ the same treatment as young boys and young girls can then be circumcised according to Sharia Law (Muslim Law), in the U.S.
Does that sound too far out?
Sharia Law is already making inroads in the United States. This ‘Circumcision Proposition’ may be a legal maneuver to enable the Muslim custom of Circumcising young girls right here, in the USA.
Are there any precedents for this sort of thing?
There have been several ‘honor murder’ cases in the US in which judges have been lenient to dismissive because of the ‘Cultural Customs’ of the perpetrators, think (Muslims).
Muslim neighborhoods of Detroit and some smaller communities have already granted jurisdiction in certain civil cases to Sharia Law.
The ‘Call to Prayer’ is broadcast 5 times a day in some small towns in Michigan.
You can buy Sharia based Mutual Funds in the USA.
And soon, the mutilation of young girls may be mandatory in the USA, once all these legal tricks play out.
In summary, ‘everybody’ get something out of the San Francisco Anti-Circumcision Proposition. Lawyers gain a whole new field of lawsuits and income, (Child/Parental Lawsuits).
Homosexuals gain more publicity, more ‘rights,’ more influence in the control and care of children, (such as homosexual ‘gender’ studies in public schools) and now even child genital styling. Gay Jewish men get to play with more Dingus. And finally, Sharia law gains by using the power of the US legal system to enforce the mutilation of young girls in the US according to Sharia Law.
Sounds too crazy to be true. But this is San Francisco, California. Only eternal vigilance of the Good can prevent the reign of Evil.
In a sting of stunning reversals of Palo Alto’s city attorney Donald Larkin who has made it a long time practice of “blocking”and “filtering” email messages sent to government employees without the benefit of “Due Process” of law, newly appointed chief legal attorney Molly Stumps has quietly instructed the city’s IT Department to undue city attorney Donald Larkin’s unconstitutional doing’s.
In fact Mr. Larkin teamed up with current police chief Dennis Burns and attorney Michael Genanco, Independent Police Auditor contracted with the city of Palo Alto in ordering and approving the blocking of ALL critical email addresses.
One such email directive was intercepted from Chief Burns last year where he requested the IT department to block the email addresses of Palo Alto police critic and attorney Aram B. James and the current editor of Palo Alto Free Press.
Can you block the email addresses listed below from reaching the City email address of Sandra Brown, Bob Beacom, Mark Venable, Patty Lum and Bob Bonilla? The comments have become inappropriate and the employees should not have to be submitted to this nonsense.
Thanks, Dennis [Palo Alto Police Chief]
In response to Chief Burns and city attorney Donald Larkin’s actions, attorney and former public defender Aram B. James wrote the following:
I had nothing to do with the e-mails sent by Mark Petersen Perez to the below parties and am requesting that you immediately rescind your request to Glenn Loo that my e-mails (should I decide to send one) to Sandra Brown, Bob Beacom, Mark Venable, Patty Lum and Bob Bonilla be blocked.
I have sent no e-mails in the last few days ( or longer) to any of the above parties. If you have a specific e-mail in mind that I have sent, to the above parties, that you contend is some how not consistent with my First Amendment right to communicate with my local public officials and or is some how in violation of some other legal principal –please copy me with that e-mail and I will be happy to discuss the particular e-mail with you and the city attorney’s office.
I did send out a long e-mail re Sandra Brown several days ago (see below, titled: Has Lt. Sandra Brown mislead the people of Palo Alto? You be the judge!) but I believe nothing in that e-mail is in any way beyond the scope of appropriate and protected First Amendment criticism of a member of your department. In fact the letter in question was in direct response to comments Lt. Brown made to the press (Palo Alto Daily Post) back on February 16, 2010.
Okay, Dennis I look forward to your response. I will copy Gary Baum and Don Larkin in on this e-mail.
Attorney Aram B. James stinging critical email which may have caused the indiscriminate blocking of all critical emails.
Re: Has Lt. Sandra Brown misled the people of Palo Alto? You be the judge!
Why would any police department be proud of a DUI convicted officer? And why would that same department allow someone like Lt. Sandra Brown to—(apparently acting in the capacity as the department’s spokesperson-spin-mister) –try to get over on the public by stretching credibility to the breaking point?
As I will argue below: Lt. Brown’s suggestion that when an officer of the PAPD is arrested or convicted of a DUI —that they should be held to a different standard then the rest of us, by being allowed to keep information re their arrest private, is simply untenable on its face.
The truth is, once arrested, any of us, cop, or non-cop– the information and fact of the arrest becomes public record under the California Public Records Act. See: California Government Code & 6254 (f) (1).
Law enforcement agencies must make available to the public the following information about individuals the agency has arrested. In addition to other information mandated to be released– pursuant to the public records act– the following must be released:
• The full name and occupation of every individual arrested by the agency.
As such –this officer’s name (the convicted PAPD officer) has no doubt already been published (made public) in the local police blotter and or newspaper –in the town and county where he/she was arrested.
By failing to provide this information the PAPD is simply engaged in a delay tactic–hoping that the press, and or some other entity— is simply unwilling or unable to track down the information that has already been made public.
In other words, the PAPD is playing cat and mouse with the public trust–hoping that the controversy will simple go away–without anyone tracking down the information that has in fact already been made public.
In the Daily Post of February 16, 2010, in an article titled, When a cop gets a DUI, Lt. Sandra Brown made the false and misleading claim that for the PAPD to release the name of the officer would be an unwarranted invasion of his privacy. In fact she is quoted in the piece as follows:
“We all have our right to privacy, we are all human and we all make mistakes, no matter who writes our paycheck,” said Brown.
Lt. Sandra Brown knows this is not the truth. When a member of the PAPD makes an arrest such information becomes public, by way of the department’s police log (police blotter). The information is subsequently reported in the press.
Lt. Brown’s comments, suggest, misleadingly, that somehow police officers are above the law and are entitled to more privacy then other individuals arrested. The truth is quite different –police are entitled to the same level of privacy as any other individual arrested, no more and no less.
Lt. Sandra Brown, yet again, attempts to turn both common sense and the truth on its head with the following comments— attributed to her in the same post article:
Palo Alto Police would not have to attend mandatory alcohol counseling for a drunken driving conviction, and an officer who had been convicted of drunken driving would still be allowed to make drunken driving arrests, as a matter of public safety, said Brown. (Note: in the same article—comments attributed to Lt. Sandra Brown suggest that the DUI convicted officer would not be subject to random checks for alcohol).
So think about the implications of the above comments: we are led to believe by Lt. Brown that it is a matter of public safety that a convicted DUI officer should still be allowed to make drunk driving arrests, while at the same time not being subjected to random drinking tests himself ,or mandatory DUI classes for his conviction. Does this absurd suggestion/proposition by Lt. Brown make you feel safer?
Common sense suggests that absent disclosure of the officer’s name, absent a clean bill of health re this officer having completed mandatory DUI classes, and absent random testing to ensure that the officer is not drinking on the job—it is the officer and the department— that allows him to continue on the job under these conditions– that constitutes the public safety threat—not the other way around.
Lt. Sandra Brown’s suggestion that not allowing this officer to conduct DUI arrests— until he has been subject to all of the above programs and testing –would some how implicate public safety is disingenuous at best—and ,more simply, a blatant attempt to deceive the public Lt. Brown has sworn to serve and protect.
One final bit of irony—this is the same Lt. Sandra Brown who now apparently supervises internal affairs, and oversees citizen complaints filed against fellow members of the PAPD.
Given Lt. Brown’s obvious contempt for both the public trust and the truth –it does not inspire a sense of confidence that citizen complaints will be taken seriously by this department. Its time that the PAPD release the name of the convicted DUI officer, now! Justice, fair play and public safety demand such a result.
In a follow-up email from famed civil rights attorney Michael Gennaco and head of the Office of Independent Review (OIR) based in Los Angeles protesting their joint collaboration, Gennaco issues the following email response:
I acknowledge receipt of your complaint. On its face, your complaint does not indicate a violation of Palo Alto Police Departmental policy. Accordingly, we intend to take no action with regard to your complaint. Feel free to pursue whatever recourse you believe is available to you with the US Department of Justice.
Apparently, the First Amendment is not recognized in any police manuals maintained by the PAPD and therefore no violation has been committed.
In any event, were extremely pleased with newly appointed Molly Stump’s decision to undo city attorney Donald Larkin’s unconstitutional blocking of email addresses critical of city government.
However, a lingering question remains. Will she open the closed secret door meetings being privately help by police chief Dennis Burns? Will she continue too promote transparency and open government. That question remains to be seen.
July 6th, 2011 – Up-Date: City attorney Donald Larkin’s sinister email document reveals PAPD Chief Dennis Burns directive to “Block” critics emails.
From: Larkin, Donald Sent: Monday, March 08, 2010 5:33 PM To: ‘firstname.lastname@example.org‘ Subject: RE: Update re order by Chief Dennis Burns blocking my e-mail access to city employees
While I am not prepared to discuss the specifics of the e-mail messages you have previously sent, I have tried to respond to your questions regarding the request by the Police Chief to limit your ability to directly e-mail several City employees.My responses to your questions are as follows:
1. You are now able to e-mail the City Council and higher level (upper management and City Attorneys’ Office) employees.
2. We do not track whether your e-mail or others are included in “spam” filters or other means of blocking e-mail at the client level. The Chief has asked that your e-mail to some individuals be blocked, but I do not have any way of knowing whether there are others who are not receiving your e-mail. Please note that unsolicited e-mail sent indiscriminately to a large group of recipients is frequently identified as spam, and is often caught in the City’s filters.
3. There is no specific protocol. Limits on a person’s ability to e-mail individual employees are made at the discretion of the department director and/or other management employees. While there is no written policy regarding when a department director can limit e-mail access, some of the relevant factors that may be considered are:
a. Receipt of e-mail from the sender is not necessary for the employee to complete his or her assigned responsibilities.
b. The sender has sent messages or has forwarded messages by others that violate the City’s anti-harassment policy. As you know, pursuant to Government Code section 12940(j), the City is required to make reasonable efforts to protect its employees from unlawful harassment by members of the public. Cutting off e-mail access to specific employees would be considered a reasonable effort to protect an employee from harassment.
c. The volume of e-mail and attachments received from a single sender, or a group of senders who copy City employees on an e-mail conversation causes the employee to exceed his or her maximum e-mail storage space.
d. The receipt of e-mail messages from a specific outside sender is disruptive, and hinders the employee from performing his or her assigned tasks.
Please note, except for attorneys (who are required to maintain e-mail by the State Bar), there is no obligation for City employees to maintain direct outside e-mail addresses. City policy is for departments to provide a single e-mail address for members of the community to send e-mail queries and communications. For the Police Department that address is email@example.com. This e-mail address is monitored daily, and messages are distributed to the appropriate department contact.
While you have a right to criticize public officials in any medium you wish, the First Amendment does not guarantee you direct access to every City employee. In fact, as you are no doubt aware (and was just reiterated within the last couple weeks in the case of Hamer v. El Dorado County (2010 WL 670780)) the “First Amendment does not impose any affirmative obligation on the government to respond to the petitions raised by individual citizens, does not guarantee that citizens’ speech will be heard, and does not require that every petition for redress of grievances be successful.”
As the Supreme Court has noted:
However wise or practicable various levels of public participation in various kinds of policy decisions may be, this Court has never held, and nothing in the Constitution suggests it should hold, that government must provide for such participation. In Bi-Metallic the Court rejected due process as a source of an obligation to listen. Nothing in the First Amendment or in this Court’s case law interpreting it suggests that the rights to speak, associate, and petition require government policymakers to listen or respond to individuals’ communications on public issues. Minnesota State Bd. for Community Colleges v. Knight 465 U.S. 271, 104 S.Ct. 1058.
This e-mail may contain confidential and/or attorney-client privileged material. If you have received this message in error, please immediately notify the sender and delete this e-mail message from your computer.
A compromised crime lab might be more endemic than an exception, and according to defense attorney Aram James, points to a larger flaw in the mechanics of the criminal justice system.
Recent revelations of a compromised crime lab in San Francisco has brought scrutiny and criticism to the San Francisco Police Department and District Attorney’s office. Investigations by oversight agencies as well as the media have shown that the lab had mixed up DNA sample, concealed criticisms from the American Society of Crime Lab Directors, and had insufficient security – with doors to the facility being left open, leaving DNA potentially exposed to contamination, opening up challenges to the evidentiary chain of custody and a variety of other attacks on its scientific reliability.
But while all attention might be focused on the inadequacies of one crime lab, the problems found at the San Francisco lab should be prompting counties and cities across the country to examine their own crime labs, and challenge a more fundamental flaw in our system – the acceptance of prosecutors’ “science” as truth.
As a former public defender of 25 years, and having observed criminal cases across the country, I strongly suspect that crimes labs all over this state and country are equally as bad, if not worse, than the San Francisco Crime Lab, as depicted in the recent San Francisco Weekly’s cover story entitled “Missing Links.”
The exposé should be a call to action by the community at large impacted by the criminal justice system to become more aware about how the state/prosecution routinely attempts to get over on our communities with junk science — from phony gang experts, to pseudo drug experts, to drugs that haven’t been tested or adequately challenged by the defense, to bad DNA results.
What the public often does not see is the process leading up to the presentation of evidence before it hits the courtroom, and the surprising non-existent standards required. A rookie cop, just out of the police academy, instantly becomes the expert of choice, on the cheap, for the convenience of the District Attorney and courts on issues as wide-ranging as what constitutes possession for sale, to what constitutes usable quantity, to who is a gang member versus someone who simply wears the youth fashions of the day.
It’s not just the prosecution and police that have gotten over on us. I put equal blame and responsibility for this mess of a criminal justice system on the often impotent, by choice, defense bar for frequently and systemically failing to take on this bad/junk/fraudulent science and/or for failing to call defense experts to rebut the steady stream of junk science put on by the prosecution in this county, state, and country.
We should never have our community members stipulate (agree to) to drug results and or any other forms of so-called scientific evidence. A community that cares in the proper defense of a defendant, and the attorneys that represent them, need to force the prosecution to prove every link in the chain of the evidence (including the reliability and integrity of their so-called infallible science), if they want to convict our clients.
Too often (in fact almost without exception), I have seen defense attorneys stipulate that the substance the police have seized from our clients’ person, cars, homes, etc., is the drug or contraband the police claim it is — without putting the prosecution and their labs through their hoops and forcing the state to prove — through good science — that the contraband is what they claim it is.
Part of the mentality I have observed — up close and personal in the courtroom as a public defender — is defense attorneys stipulating away their clients’ rights for their (the attorney’s) convenience. Or they simply do not want to be perceived as rocking the boat in the courtroom — all to the extreme detriment of the client and their families.
The public defender administrators who allow their line attorneys to commit this crime against our communities basic due process rights must be called to account.
You can be sure if it were the loved ones of these attorneys/administrators facing the same criminal injustice system there would be no stipulations to the state’s tests/evidence. And you can be sure that no expense would be spared to fight off the prosecution’s case/evidence and routine practice of overcharging our clients in hopes of extracting a forced plea bargain.
Our communities will accept nothing less than the same measure of due process and equal protection that the lawyers would demand if it were their life and liberty on the line.
Going forward, communities and advocates interested in bringing integrity to the criminal justice system must insist on touring our crime labs with our public servants/district attorneys so we can become conversant with the language of their legitimate scientific evidence. But we must be equally aware of where the system/crime labs have failed us, and as a result, imprisoned us unjustly. Knowledge is power, and now it is incumbent on us to obtain that knowledge.
As the court system collapses under its own weight, exacerbated by a lack of resources, we need to put the pressure on by forcing the prosecution to prove their cases, no matter how expensive and system draining the tests/labs and trials are to the state.
If the community demands the tests (and demands that our attorneys demand the tests), the experts, and all the other rights that our clients are rightfully entitled to, we will start to see that the system will grudgingly give our clients the justice they deserve. Not because the system wants to, but because once we know our rights, they literally can no longer afford to prosecute our clients for the charges and prison sentences we have for too long assumed and taken for granted that we could not challenge.
Now that the rabbit is out of the hat, it’s time we take back our criminal justice system.
Aram James is a retired Santa Clara County Public Defender, and co-founder of Silicon Valley De-Bug’s Albert Cobarrubias Justice Project. Image from Silicon Valley De-Bug.
The story which follows was original published back in September of last year and since then not much has changed following Dennis Burns appointment as our new police chief in Palo Alto.
It would seem the pervasive sickness and psychosis of racial profiling among the rank and file of the PAPD, it’s police chief Dennis Burns and city council leadership continues to linger unabated.
What prompted this latest story was my encounter with a young African-American whom I met on the street by chance.
I’ve been working on a number of racial profiling stories since the untimely departure of former police chief Lynne Johnson who resigned in disgrace after ordering her officers to stop ALL African-Americans wearing a “Do-Rag”.
In this most recent case, I asked this young man the litmus paper test on weather or not things have changed since Lynne Johnson’s fall from grace. I was startled by his candor and forth-rightfulness.
This man recently moved to Palo Alto and in the short time he has lived here [five months] he’s been stopped five times by the PAPD.
In each and every case, they have asked for his driver’s license registration and proof of insurance. BTW, these questions are not unique of African-Americans or for that matter with any other race.
But, what followed were questions unique it seems, questions which appear to be only presented to the African-American and Latino population which occur at an alarmingly rate disproportionally nationally.
1. Are you on probation?
2. Have you ever been arrested?
On one stop he related that he was the passenger in a car being driven by a white female. In this stop, the officer came around to the passenger side of the window and asked these very same questions. This left me speechless.
My god, “Living In Palo Alto While Black” has become status-quo….What is even more troubling is the fact that this man works as the director of youth services for a well known national organization San Francisco.
Prior to Dennis Burns unanimous promotion to Palo Alto Police Chief, Mr. Burns was second in command and right hand-man to then acting police chief Lynne Johnson.
Surprisingly, this same person remained silent throughout the tumultuous scandal which ultimately lead to Lynne Johnson’s disgraceful resignation.
We beleive, chief Dennis Burns continues to promote, foster, sanction and encourages his officers to engage in unconstitutional racial profiling questions with the intent of terrorizing the African-American and Latino Palo Alto citizens and outlining communities.
Like his predecessor Lynne Johnson, chief Dennis Burns must resign. See related stories below:
Living In Palo Alto While Black September 12, 2010
Racism is nothing new even to me as a Latino. I do recall on one occasion being called a “Wet Back” an inference to all Mexican Americans, and all Non-Whites having crossed the Rio Grande river to enter the land of the brave and home of the not so free.
Racism runs deep in America and one knows this greater than the native American Indians. I recall a very close friend Selo (Sylvester) Black Crow.
His great, great grandfather took part in many of the peace treaties between the Oglala Lakota Sioux Nation and Washington later to be broken time and time again.
He was in fact and still is despite his passing to greater peaceful pastures where the true White Buffalo roam, the legendary Chieftain of the Pine Ridge Indian reservation.
His stories were endless including the brutality meted out by the police.
As he related, he was simply made the target of their personal hatred of Native American Indians and from my interviews with many African Americans who are Living In Palo Alto While Black that seems to be the case as well.
In fact, the beating he received from the police was so severe he suffered hearing loss. This was my first hand account on a personal level concerning police brutality and it would not be the last.
Like most all of us, everyone seems to think in terms of Africa Americans being the only ones who have suffered racism. This is simply not true. It’s pandemic very perverse and unfortunately, impacts all races and ethnicity.
If we take a closer look at the demographics here in Palo Alto, by and large, the dominant race appears to be white.
And if we look even closer at the arrest records occurring in Palo Alto we find that its disproportionally black’s and Latino’s stopped and arrested causing much friction and heated debates in some circles. (see IPA audit reports)
Foot note: PAPD has stated tail light stops are an effective tool in catching known or unknown felons. (IPO officer Dan Ryan)
This debate reached critical mass when former Police Chief Lynne Johnson resigned in disgrace for ordering officers to stop all black males with a doo-rag in response to a rash of robberies alleged to have been committed by a black male.
It later turned out to be the case. But for that matter, it could have been any race.
Current Police Chief Dennis Burns continues to repair the damage done by his predecessor holding secret behind closed door meetings with a select group of handpicked citizens from the community.
The general public is disallowed and news reporters are prevented from attending – We call this – police democracy in action. I would say, transparency and open government is non existent in Palo Alto.
Racial profiling by the PAPD is their dirty little secret best kept under wraps by Chief Burns and far from, far from the public’s eye.
Of all the African Americans I have interview in Palo Alto thus far, all have related a disturbing sorted tale of racism by the hands of the PAPD.
Watch out and *inspect your tail lights before entering Palo Alto from East Palo Alto. Its a sure way to get stopped especially if your driving while “Black” let alone Living In Palo Alto While Black.
*From the archives – East Palo Alto Residents Ask: “Am I a Suspect?”
“A pattern of racial traffic stops in Palo Alto is statistically clear. At a *Rally Against Racial Profiling* on November 9 Goro Mitchell, East Palo Alto activist and Planning Commission member, said that 56 percent of all traffic stops for “vehicular failure”, such as tail or brake lights not working, are for cars driven by African Americans or Latinos.
Two young men, one Latino and one African American, have created a T-shirt to draw attention to this injustice.”
The story “Black Like Me” the book featured, is about a white man who decides to alter his skin color chemically and live the life as a black male.
There is something to be said about living, understanding and walking in the same shoes as a black person through the segregated south as a white man. But, in reality it could be anywhere USA or for that matter the world.
It just so happens living in Palo Alto while black, is a little dirty secret Chief Dennis Burns and city council would much rather not have you be aware of. This compelling story – “Black Like Me” is sure to become an all time American classic.
So the question is. Will racism ever be eliminated from the hearts and minds of humanity? Well, I believe it’s happening right here in our community now!! And it’s no secret…..
Commuters and visitors traveling on Hwy 280 and Hwy 92 near the Crystal Springs and San Andreas reservoirs may notice bright yellow booms floating in the water in the coming weeks.
These booms are deployed as part of construction of the $4.6 billion Water System Improvement Program to repair, replace and seismically upgrade the Hetch Hetchy Regional Water System.
The booms are silt curtains which block biological species (animals and plants) from entering the work zones and protect water quality by containing disturbed sediment.
This summer, divers will begin underwater work on the outlet structures and pipelines that move water from the reservoirs into the drinking water system. These seismic upgrades will take place at depths of over 100 feet. All watercraft and materials entering the reservoirs are carefully screened to prevent non-native species and contaminants from entering the water.
The work is part of the Crystal Springs/San Andreas Transmission System Upgrade Project and is expected to be complete in 2013.
The Crystal Springs Reservoir System serves as the emergency water supply for over one million people in San Mateo and San Francisco counties.
To receive construction updates and important information for recreational users of the Peninsula Watershed, subscribe to the website: www.sfwater.org/SCT or follow us: Twitter@SawyerCampTrail.
The undersigned residents of Palo Alto do not want to pay any increase for Water and Sewer related Utilities.
The increase for 2011 is 17 %,
2012 is 17 % again.
2013 it’s 16 % more again.
This is too much. Unnecessary. A rip off for the following reasons.
1. For years we have paid Utility Bills for Water improvement and that money would be available today if the City had not secretly taken Millions of Dollars ($16 Million in 2010) from the Utility Department and used that money in the General Fund to pay retiree’s pensions, lifetime healthcare and pet projects of council members. The City has wasted the money and deserves no more.
2. The Hetch Hetchy water system may need an upgrade but the public needs to see the plan before a Billion Dollar Boondoggle is unleashed.
3. “Water Rates must go up because residents are using less.” People conserved and now the City needs more money to do less. Ridiculous.
4. “The City needs a 100 % Service Charge increase.” Nonsense! The Utility already receives $12.3 Million for checking meters, fixing old pipes, billing and answering the phone. Do we have to pay the City twice to do their job? No!
5. The City is wasteful and sneaky. It will only accept written letters to stop this rip off now. (No phone calls, no emails, no vote, only written letters). No money.
Mail in your letters to city manager Jim [James] Keene. City must receive it by June 13th, 2011
City of Palo Alto 250 Hamiltion Ave PA 94301 Re: Water Rate Protest