Top Northern California Democrats Out of Touch with People and Party (Corrected Version)

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By Bennett Pollack-Reeber

By Bennett Pollack-Reeber

State Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry and State Senator Bill Dodd’s failure to endorse Dean Johansson, the Democrat in the Yolo County District Attorney Race, is angering community members and local groups across Northern California

Johansson, a current Yolo County public defender and former civil rights attorney, has received the endorsement of many notable humanitarian figures and national groups, including Democracy for America, and Former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso, Mariko Yamada, Delaine Eastin, and the Yolo County Democratic Party.

However, local Democratic leaders who represent constituents in Yolo County, including Yolo County Supervisors Jim Provenza and Don Saylor, as well as local Democratic City Council Members in Davis, Woodland, and West Sacramento, have failed to endorse the progressive candidate for District Attorney.

The incumbent DA has driven mass incarceration in the county through the excessive criminalization of non-violent people. Incarcerating someone in a California prison comes with the price tag of $75,000 per inmate per year, a sum that is more than an entire four year degree at UC Davis.

Additionally, the incumbent DA has faced public scrutiny after the infamous Picnic Day 5 event, as well as the shooting deaths by police officers of multiple unarmed civilians in the county.

The incumbent DA has faced criticism about his financial ties to the bail bonds industry, who have donated monies to his campaigns and whose industry directly profits from propagating mass incarceration in the criminal justice system.

Local Northern California community leaders are calling their elected officials’ local offices to demand the public endorsement of Dean Johansson for District Attorney.

Yolo County deserves a DA who will be mindful and fiscally responsible about incarceration, who  promises to be tough on those who are dangers to society; but also one who is fair and just to all with humane and bold leadership. He is fair to those who have fallen through the cracks to not leave them behind forever in a justice system that puts profits over people.

Yolo County deserves a DA that will fund rehabilitation centers and mental health facilities instead of prisons and who chooses education funding over prison funding. We deserve a DA who is aware of the high cost of incarceration and will end the school to prison pipeline and address the racial disparities in our justice system. We deserve a DA that is transparent, accountable, and fair; someone that truly works for the people and has ourselves and our children’s best interest at heart. We deserve Dean and demand that our Democratic leaders in Yolo be unafraid to change the status quo and wholeheartedly endorse him.


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41 thoughts on “Top Northern California Democrats Out of Touch with People and Party (Corrected Version)”

  1. Tia Will

    Yolo County deserves a DA who will be mindful and fiscally responsible about incarceration, who  promises to be tough on those who are dangers to society,”

    I have read a number of endorsements of DA Reisig that tout his being “tough on crime” and in favor of “law and order”.  Frankly I find this ridiculous. Do you believe anyone is pro crime and chaos ? Of course not. We all want to live in safe communities. We just have differing ideas of how to get there.

    First, there are groups of people who are not currently equally protected by the police and whose neighborhoods are targeted often on the basis of color of clothing, style choices and what their relatives may or may not have done. This is not leftist spin or campaign rhetoric. It was fully admitted by the current DA in the Citizens Academy.

    Secondly,the issue should always be community safety first. Eight years for a “third strike” bag of cheese theft equals $ 600,000 + all court costs which is not available for keeping our community safe from truly dangerous individuals, and yet this is what the current DA made his priority.

    The current DA has demonstrated time and again that his views are not in alignment with the majority of our county. He has remained in office because he has been unopposed. We now have an opportunity to elect a qualified individuals whose positions are aligned with what the majority say they want. We now have a chance to demonstrate that with our votes.

    For both social equity and financial responsibility in wise use of resources to protect our communities, I strongly recommend electing Dean Johansson.

     

    1. David Greenwald

      I think you raise a critical point that gets lost in these discussions – different visions. At the same time, I do think there are people who believe that the only way to fight crime is through hard/ long punishments. And that’s where the tough on crime/ law and order perspective comes from.

      1. Tia Will

        that’s where the tough on crime/ law and order perspective comes from”

        I agree that is where it comes from. I also believe that our extremely long, expensive incarcerations with high recidivism rate and the highest rate of incarceration of any comparable country suggests that this is not the best approach. Perhaps we might consider trying something different.

    2. Jeff M

      “Do you believe anyone is pro crime and chaos ?”

      Wrong question.

      There are people that vote with their heart and not their head… and thus end up creating crime and chaos problems that would otherwise be prevented using more thinking and less feeling.

      Johansson is the feeling voter’s candidate.  Reisig is the thinking voter’s candidate.

      1. David Greenwald

        I think you need to stop this motif – it’s frankly insulting. Tia articulated it far better than you – there are competing values. Criminal justice doesn’t work well. Simply throwing people in prison without giving them resources is throwing lives and money away.

        1. Jeff M

          “Simply throwing people in prison without giving them resources is throwing lives and money away.”

          This is too one-sided to be considered logical.  It is an emotional argument.  That was my point.

          What about the human harm caused by these people “thrown in prison without giving them resources” that resulted in them being thrown in prison?   And if your issue is the lack of resources for these prisoners, that is not a DA’s responsibility so why apply it to the job of the DA?

          I think maybe you have close relationships with people that have committed crimes and have had to suffer the legal consequences which then have led to them being worse off that before they committed the crimes.  I assume you are frustrated with a system that is so binary and lacks care to help reform these people that commit crimes… often when they are young.

          But backing off on our law enforcement and criminal prosecution isn’t a solution for what I assume you see as the problem.  And it will cause much more human harm of victims of crime.  We have already seen this from the results of the boneheaded Prop 57 changes.

          Law enforcement and criminal prosecution both provides a disincentive for people to victimized other people, and it gets them off the street when they demonstrate a propensity to victimize other people.  You seem to support an increase of more people being victimized by criminals for the sake of making life easier for the criminals.

          That is not a rational position.

        2. David Greenwald

          You’re making a lot of assumptions based on very little information that I provided.

          The first problem with over-incarcerating is that you end up incarcerating people past the point at which they would commit crimes or be a threat to society.

          As people age, the cost to incarcerate ends up going up higher while their risk to society decreases.  There are always exceptions which is why it’s better to treat on a case by case basis, but in general, there are good reasons not to over incarcerate and they are not emotional issues.

          If interested I can provide you some of the research on this.

        3. Jeff M

          “The first problem with over-incarcerating is that you end up incarcerating people past the point at which they would commit crimes or be a threat to society.”

          First, there is no facts that you can provide that proves that our DA is “over-incarcerating”.  That is a subjective (aka “emotional”) assessment.  When there is more crime and the DA is effective at his job, there will be more cases and more incarceration.  That is good as it keeps the law-abiding public safe from harm.

          Correct me if I am wrong, but a doesn’t a judge decide sentencing?  And isn’t the judge’s decision on sentencing directly tied to criminal law?  How can a DA be held responsible for the judge’s decision based on the current book of law?

          Again, I don’t see the logic dots connected.  And when I don’t see the logic dots connected it is a pretty quick indication that we are seeing an emotional opinion.

          1. David Greenwald

            “That is a subjective (aka “emotional”) assessment. ”

            Subjective simply means that there is a judgment call to be made, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is emotional. In fact, I would argue as I think an did, that you’re reasoning is heavily emotional. If you consider that there are two specific needs for incarceration – one is deterrence and the other is to prevent the criminal from committing crimes. So if you lock a guy beyond the point in time they are likely to commit crimes and you have research that shows that longer sentences do not have greater deterrent effects than shorter ones and the much greater deterrent effect is certainty – then what is the rationale for extending a sentence beyond simply the need to deter and prevent?

            “Correct me if I am wrong, but a doesn’t a judge decide sentencing?”

            A judge is limited to the sentencing guidelines for a specific crime.

        4. Jeff M

          what is the rationale for extending a sentence beyond simply the need to deter and prevent?

          Would you support giving a license back to a doctor that has been decertified over sex crimes committed with patients where the doctor served time for it?

          How do you know that a criminal released will not commit another crime.  The evidence is that as a criminal gets older there is a lower probability… but that does not mean there is zero probability.

          And last… you do the crime you do the time.  Prison and jail time in also punishment for the harm done the victims.   You do understand punishment don’t you?  I am sure you are fine with the maximum punishment being given to Dylan Roof.  So who gets to decide who gets maximum sentencing and who gets minimal sentencing?  The answer is THE JUDGE!   And there is probation.   If not life without probation, there is the opportunity to demonstrate good behavior and be released.

          The challenge you have with this line is that you conveniently leave out the crime part.  If there is more crime, there is more incarceration (unless we elect a weak DA like Johannson.)  If there are more serious crimes (aka gang-related crimes) then there will be longer sentences.

          I think you have not thought this through well enough and projecting irrational expectations on the DA.

        5. David Greenwald

          “Ok, so please explain to me what you expect a DA to do for addressing your concern that criminals are over-incarcerated?”

          What I see a lot in Yolo County is (A) the DA over-charging cases and (B) the DA is the one that charges the cases – they have complete discretion over what charges are to be filed.

        6. David Greenwald

          “Would you support giving a license back to a doctor that has been decertified over sex crimes committed with patients where the doctor served time for it?”

          Probably not. But it would depend on the specifics.

        7. David Greenwald

          “How do you know that a criminal released will not commit another crime.  The evidence is that as a criminal gets older there is a lower probability… but that does not mean there is zero probability.”

          That’s true.  There’s also not a zero probability that I’m not going to commit a crime either.  I think we have to assess risk and act accordingly.  If the risk is reasonably low, then we should err on the side of freedom.  But that determination should be made on a case by case basis rather than in the abstract.

        8. Jeff M

          What I see a lot in Yolo County is (A) the DA over-charging cases and (B) the DA is the one that charges the cases – they have complete discretion over what charges are to be filed.

          Do you have any specific examples to share?  My problem with this is that we have a democratic process to select lawmakers that make laws and police, DAs and judges are supposed to enforce those laws.  You seem to be advocating for a DA that would ignore the laws… pick and chose which cases to prosecute based on some criteria outside of the law and apply tougher or weaker charges based on other criteria outside of the law.  My doctor sex crime point was an example of this… you have your line for certain types of crimes/criminals and would pick leniency on other types of crimes/criminals.

          Discretion over what charges to be filed would be a reasonable target of criticism if the DA was not consistent.  Jeff Riesig is completely consistent.

      2. Tia Will

        Jeff

        Wrong question.”

        How completely surprising that we could not disagree more. If our “tough on crime” approach is so effective please comment on these observations”

        1. Trial of and incarceration of the third strike cheese thief would have cost upwards of $ 600,000 dollars for the eight year stay the current DA pushed for. Money well spent? A thoughtful use of taxpayer money?

        2. Or the delay in charging a known meth dealer in order to get his testimony, but also allowing him to go on selling meth and fathering yet another meth addicted baby? Community well served and protected?

        3. Or having the highest rate of trials coupled with the highest rate of acquittals. A thinking man’s optimal use of taxpayer money?

        Please note I did not make one “emotional” appeal.

         

        1. Jeff M

          I am fine spending money on law enforcement and criminal prosecution and would prefer we save money in other ways like maybe reducing the number of six-figure government employees that retire in their 50s with a million-dollar pension and healthcare benefit annuity.

          You cannot be both fair and effective in dealing with crime and punishment applying a “cost of doing business” filter to it.   If you don’t like the law then work at the law-maker level to get it changed.  Don’t attack the person that is charged with enforcing and upholding the law.  That is not rational.

      3. Bennett Reeber

        I would argue the opposite quite frankly. $75,000 is a huge sum of money. Shouldn’t we be trying to educate people which is much cheaper and leads to better life outcomes? #thinkingaboutdean

      4. Ann Block

        Actually those of us that have and are working in the criminal justice system see it just the opposite — Reisig is the “emotional” candidate as people that vote for him will be doing it out of fear, not reason, research or statistics.  Johannson is the thinking voter’s candidate — his plans and policies will decrease crime in our communities — targeting violent and dangerous criminals for jail, and rehabilitating, monitoring and diverting to education and work programs those for whom jail is not appropriate.  Doesn’t mean they won’t suffer punishment and have to take responsibility for their offenses — but it DOES mean it will be less likely they will reoffend and more likely to become community contributers, rather than chronic community criminals.  Look it up!

      5. Ann Block

        Just the opposite, Jeff — as I commented below — Reisig is the emotional “fear” candidate.  He even several weeks ago made headlines saying Woodland is under siege from gangs, and basically only he could save the city.  When numerous people, including conservatives, in Woodland, called him out on that very inaccurate characterization, he backed down.  At the candidate’s debate he did a 180 and said the “gang problem” has “improved.”

        Reisig is the candidate of emotion and fear.  Johannson, on the other hand, is the thinking person’s candidate, the rational person’s candidate — based on research and statistics.  His plans and policies will decrease crime in our communities, as similar policies have done in other communities, by targeting violent and dangerous criminals for jail, and developing programs to rehabilitate other offenders — monitoring and diverting them to work and education programs.   They will still suffer restrictions, punishments and have to take responsibility for their offenses — BUT they will also be less likely to reoffend and more likely to become community contributors rather than habitual community criminals.

         

        1. Jeff M

          You need to take your ideology to the family of Ronald Antonio and ask them what they think.

          The job of the DA:  The DA is intimately involved in the prosecution of each criminal case in his jurisdiction. Their job is to rectify wrongdoings committed against the public.

          It sounds to me like you would prefer to have a social justice activist in the job instead of someone that will do the real job.

    1. Tia Will

      Matt

      Or you could acknowledge that there is a genuine difference of opinion on how best to protect our communities from dangerous criminal activity.

        1. Tia Will

          Yes, I could.

          My opinion is that there should be a hierarchy of concerns. Most of our funding should be dedicated to the prevention of, apprehension of, and appropriate separation from the community of those who are physically dangerous. Next on that hierarchy would be those who are a danger to significant property of value ( monetary since as Jeff has pointed out on many occasions we cannot quantify that which is valued but not measurably so) with bags of cheese and their equivalent not included. Next on my level of priorities would be items of lesser value and nuisance value crimes. Finally, I would eliminate both persecution and prosecution of those whose only “crime” is association with those who are believed to be engaging in gang activity. The DA has admitted to doing this as part of his strategy for dealing with gangs. I did not make this up.

          Unfortunately our current DA has a history of not respecting this hierarchy of concerns having been more interested in an appearance of being “tough on crime” than actually addressing serious crime. This is witnessed by his over charging as reflected in high rate of dismissals of cases or jury findings for the defense. It is witnessed by his allowing equally culpable and far more dangerous individuals to walk free in order to secure a desired conviction.(Frank Rees)

    2. Bennett Reeber

      Hey Matt,

      Lets talk about the facts here. The facts are crime is down and has been decreasing yet incarceration is up and much higher than any country in the nation. It also costs $75,000 to incarcerate one vs $7k at a state institution. Which should we be pushing?? I’ll wait to hear your facts.

      1. Howard P

        It also costs $75,000 to incarcerate one vs $7k at a state institution. Which should we be pushing?? I’ll wait to hear your facts.

        Unclear what you mean… are not prisons “state institutions”?  I truly don’t understand your point… clarification would be helpful…

  2. Emily Nichols Montgomery

    I would just like to clarify that, while Reisig has indeed received contributions from bail bond companies, that figure is not five digits.

  3. Ann Block

    This article is well intentioned, but leaves out some very key information regarding endorsements.. and has two glaring errors. First, Bill Dodd was a Republican before he switched to Democrat in order to win his election to state assembly (after Dan Wolk unfortunately decided to run after Joe Krovoza already announced, and split the Davis vote, and so Bill Dodd won — also helped by a lot of Napa business support). It is not that surprising that a “Democrat” only very recently actually Republican, would endorse Reisig. (2) Both Dodd and Aguiar-Curry endorsed Reisig when he was running without challengers, before either Eichle (who withdrew after significant intimidation from within his own office) or Johannson, had entered the race. (3) Don Saylor has NOT endorsed Reisig. Period. (4) NO Davis City Council members are endorsing Reisig.  Period.  Council member Brett Lee, Mayor Pro Tem of Davis, previously endorsed Reisig, but after Johannson announced, switched to supporting/endorsing Johannson, and now Tom Arnold has also endorsed Johannson as well.  (5) Former mayors Bill Kopper, Ken Wagstaffe and Joe Krovoza endorse Johannson.  (6) Justice Cruz Reynoso has endorsed Dean Johannson as have many members of the legal community. Doesn’t it mean much more that a former Calif. Supreme Court justice, who actually has personal knowledge, experience and a view from the top, of how D.A.s state-wide prosecute cases, what goes wrong and what is done right, mean much more than a few legislators that really have no clue what goes on with DA’s policies on charging, trying and convicting the people of California? In addition, Dean has received some HUGE endorsements from many organizations — and not just the Yolo Democratic Party —  for example Democracy For America (national), Davis College Democrats, West Yolo Democrats, Sierra Club (local), Planned Parenthood (local), labor organizations, and many others as well. Yes Dodd and Cecilia-Aguiar are out of touch — but this article did not do a good job of explaining the fact that Dean hit the ground very late, endorsements had already been obtained by a candidate (Reisig) with no opponents, and it is very hard for a politician to switch horses mid-stream even if they would very much like to do so.  It also does not acknowledge that endorsements are being to stream in, as Dean Johannson’s campaign keeps gaining momentum.

    1. Howard P

      It is not that surprising that a “Democrat” only very recently actually Republican, would endorse Reisig. 

      From the article alone, does not appear that either Dodd or Aguiar-Curry have endorsed anyone… I actually respect them for that!

      This article points out why I belong to neither of the ‘dominant’ parties (independents, in CA are very close to surpassing Republicans in registratation… and the Democrat %’s are down, as well)… this concept of hegemony is not selling in CA…

       

  4. Tia Will

    Jeff

    You need to take your ideology to the family of Ronald Antonio and ask them what they think.”

    I am sure that what any family members think is heavily impacted by emotion. It seems that in your world view, some emotions are valid on which to base opinions and decisions, while others are not.

    You seem to favor fear as a valid emotion. Examples: You favor laws based on a fear that you or your family will be harmed. Not only that you have been harmed, but fear of potentially being harmed. You favor laws that allow officers to kill  even unarmed people if they are “in fear for their lives”. Not factually being threatened in any way…just in fear. You favor policies that restrict immigration because of fear that immigrants will use services and or take away opportunities from citizens. Not because it is demonstrated that they do, but because of fear that they have or will. So why is acting on the emotion of fear any more logical than acting on the emotion of compassion?

    Yet if I use facts ( such as disproportionate use of taxpayer money for non violent offenses) you do not accept that as a logical choice but merely state your preference for savings in other areas. Why not save in both areas? Your preference for only using one source of savings is simply not logical.

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