My View: DA Reisig Cannot Let This One Go, Doubles Down on Attack on Public Defender

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You would think Yolo County DA Jeff Reisig would have learned and simply let this go.  He was roundly criticized for making personal a comment on the news by Yolo County Public Defender Tracie Olson when it wasn’t.  His initial piece caused 87 community members last Sunday to sign a response.  But instead of letting it go, for a second time, he has doubled down with his attack.

This time in a press release on Friday he states, “District Attorney calls for public hearing and evidence from Public Defender after she stands by her televised allegations of racist judges and corrupt local law enforcement officers.”

Of course her initial comment suggested nothing of the kind.

Tracie Olson, in response to a question on disparities, stated, “Honestly we see Black people go to prison for crimes that white people don’t go to prison for…On April 20, I looked at the jail population. We had about a little under 200 people in the jail, 49 of whom were Black. So that’s 25% of our Yolo County jail population is Black. Yolo County’s demographic population is 3% Black. So we have over an 800% over-representation of Black men and women in our local jail. So it is a local problem.”

But the words have now been twisted and manipulated by Reisig beyond any recognition.

He alleges Public Defender Monica Brushia “alluded to two instances of local police corruption, implying that peace officers stole money and drugs from your clients.”

Writes Reisig, “Allegations of judicial racism and police corruption can never be ignored. They cannot go uninvestigated. They cannot be allowed to simply fade away into the chaotic media cycle or dishonest blogosphere.”

While Jeff Reisig complained, the core of the statement by Tracie Olson was accurate.  We looked at the April 20 jail population and 49 of the 194 people in jail that day were Black.  As we pointed out before, at no point did Jeff Reisig acknowledge the racial discrepancies.  At no point in time did he vow to attempt to reduce them.  At no point in time did he simply acknowledge what two-thirds of the nation seem to be calling for—reform and an honest evaluation of racism in our criminal justice system.

Instead, he has taken generic comments to be specific criticism at him and the system and he has appointed himself, for whatever reason, as guardian of the system.

The community does not want this.  In the letter signed by 87 Yolo County residents published in the Vanguard and Enterprise on Sunday, the community wants Reisig, instead of focusing on Tracie Olson and Monica Brushia, to address this point: “With the turmoil gripping this nation over racial inequities in policing and justice, it is beyond time for us to look at these numbers closely and discern where we have been and where we are going in terms of the racial disparities that run throughout our legal system.”

The community adds, “We clearly have a long way to go and this moment has shown us just how far…”

Instead, Jeff Reisig demands that “the ethical and legal obligation is on you to appear in public session before your employers, the Yolo County Board of Supervisors, and demonstrate the truth of your televised allegations of racism and corruption against judges and law enforcement from two weeks ago with facts and evidence. On issues as important as these, at a time as critical as now, silence or fact-dodging is not acceptable.”

A few years ago, in defending his boss against criticism, Jonathan Raven, the number two in the DA’s office, took exception to comparisons between Jeff Reisig and Donald Trump.  “Jeff didn’t vote for Trump and doesn’t like Trump,” he said at the time.

But the reality is that these type of attacks are Trumpian—a tactic right out of Trump’s book.  If he had a book.

The initial comment by Tracie Olson was accurate.  Mr. Reisig responded that she took the numbers out of context and that a large percentage of the Black jail population is from out of county.  But if that matters—and it is not clear to me that it should—that simply adds nuance and context to the data.  It does not make her use of the data inaccurate or irresponsible.

This could have been handled with a phone call and a conversation.  Moreover, she did not direct the attack at him personally.  No one was mentioned.  The discussion was generic.

This is thin skin.  The second response piece is 2700 words long.  As we said in our previous column, he doth protest too much.  Double that now.

Public defenders across the state criticized him.  Community members criticized him.  He had his say.  He could have let it go.  He did not.

He doubles down on the attack in the second press release.

“Last week, I issued a public statement demanding that you appear before the Yolo County Board of Supervisors and produce the evidence supporting your allegations,” he writes.

“Demanding.”

He has no authority to demand.  He is not her boss or superior.  This is a bullying tactic.  He is attempting to silence her.  And he has uneven power because, while he is safely elected and accountable only to the voters with an election two years away, Tracie Olson is appointed by the Board of Supervisors.

He makes this point clear, “I am calling upon you, as the appointed Public Defender in Yolo County, who serves entirely at the pleasure of the Yolo County Board of Supervisors, to present your evidence in public session to that body in a full and transparent manner.”

That is every bit the threat, as Santa Clara DA Jeff Rosen exhibited when he filed a whistleblower complaint against Sajid Khan.  The difference is that Rosen backed down when he got called out, while Jeff Reisig doubles down.

There are two things telling about the response.

First, of the 2700 words, 1800 of them (two-thirds of them) are defending his own record.  While Jeff Reisig attempts to defend his record, never has he really acknowledged that he has opposed every single reform to the criminal justice system handed down by the state legislature or the voters.

In fact, it is rather telling that, while Yolo County supported measures like Prop. 47, Prop. 57, and Prop. 64 by at least 60 percent of the vote, he vocally opposed all three.

Second, at no point does he discuss how he intends to address racial disparities in the system.

He finally, toward the end, states, “Let me be clear, my condemnation of your irresponsible use of incomplete data does not mean that I am unaware or tone deaf to the real issues that have historically affected people of color in a disparate manner. Without question, people of color, especially black people, have been victims of historical discrimination in many of our laws and parts of the country and are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system in almost every community in America.”

But instead of discussing what he can do, he flips this onto San Francisco, stating that they have “one of the worst, the most recent reported disparities on the arrest rate of black people as a share of the population are astoundingly high.”

If you look at the numbers, however, Yolo County has about 28 percent of their incarcerated population as Black, with a three percent Black population.  San Francisco is 6 percent Black and 55 percent of their incarcerated population is Black.  The ratio is pretty similar.  And while Reisig defends Yolo County based on out-of-county incarceration, the same can be said for San Francisco.  In the end, no one has explained why that point changes anything.

This could have become a jumping point for a discussion and policy initiatives.  Instead it has become a destructive attack on public officials.  And, frankly, given that Tracie Olson’s comment never mentioned Reisig or pointed the finger at anyone, that is all on Reisig.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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29 thoughts on “My View: DA Reisig Cannot Let This One Go, Doubles Down on Attack on Public Defender”

    1. Bill Marshall

      Ah, but is it truly “global”?  Can one be ‘proud’ of being a white, male, NPP, heterosexual?

      I’m neither ashamed of, nor ‘proud’ of who I am… I don’t expect anyone to “celebrate” me…

      Are we expected to “celebrate” others, who differ by race, gender, politics, sexual identity?

      Honest questions…

      I (try to) respect all, even with ‘differences’… but do not celebrate others’ differences…

        1. Bill Marshall

          My bad, Alan… meant to be inclusive… mea culpa…

          But ‘celebration’ is another matter… I expect no one to celebrate me… there are very, very few, I’d celebrate… more for their actions/behaviors, not their “identity”

          And there are some things/briefs/etc. that are even “intolerable”, yes?

          And yes, I have ‘strong’ prejudices… not among them are race, color, creed… betting a farthing most could not guess them (except the obvious one, that I’m intolerant of intolerant folk… my ‘bad’, again)… not “proud” of my prejudices, but recognize they exist, and do everything I can to suppress them in public…

      1. Jeff Boone

        I think per the weaponized codes of social justice righteousness, you need to accept that there is a good and bad side of the ledger, and you can only celebrate those on the good side.

        What is interesting though… when two identities on the good side end up in conflict.  Then it becomes a rock-paper-scissors game for which will get to keeps its good side, and the other will get temporarily sent to the bad identity jail.   For example, when Harvey Weinstein was on the good side because he virtue signaled for left politics… giving to Democrat causes, etc.  But then he runs into conflict with the #MeToo feminists and gets sent to the bad side jail.   However, Joe Biden ran into the same conflict, but the #MeToo feminists got sent to the bad side jail in this case (they actually volunteered to lock themselves up which is telling).

        And you can see it at and individual level too.  Clarence Thomas and Ben Carson for example should be on the good side of the identity ledger… but alas they are dreaded evil Republicans.  Carly Fiorina was on the bad side, but she recently said she would vote for Biden so she is on the good side.

        Cops had been on the good side because their unions spent millions on Democrats… but then the Democrats got painted into the political corner with decades of liberal policies failing the black community.  So cops get sent to the bad side trash heap.

        The good side is safe from mob attack… until there is a rock-paper-scissors attack.  There is always that risk.

        We have a lot of businesses boycotting Facebook to virtue signal their support for Facebook to censor any thought or idea outside of the good side leftist cult dogma speech code rules.  If Facebook does not, they will be put on the bad side.  But if Facebook does they become a publisher and not a platform, and hence we can all give trial attorneys more work to sue Facebook.

        Personally, I am boycotting all idiot leftist virtue signaling business until the get truly woke.

        It does feel so good to be on the current projected “good” side even it isn’t really good.  1930s Germany has some history to explain that.  People crave being thought of as good people by the current broadcast social justice standards.  They are so addicted to signaling their virtue that they miss the self-awareness of their plastic hypocrisy on full display… and worse, miss their break with common decency and real righteous morality.

        Meanwhile the silent majority just focuses on individual character and not the superficial identity junk injected into the heads of our modern campus dwellers who then become clone warriors to help Nancy Pelosi get wealthy beyond her wildest expectations as a professional looter who goes on TV to say that Republicans are trying to get away with murdering George Kirby.

        1. Bill Marshall

          Just weird… heat, no light.

          To the extent you are correct (not just “Right”) you are darn hard to defend…

          Not that you want/need that…

      2. Tia Will

        Bill

        I have a different perspective on the “celebration of differences”. My spirits were lifted by seeing “Hamilton”, a quintessentially American play. They have been equally lifted by Taiko drumming, Portuguese Fado singing, by ballet, and traditional dances from many countries. I read authors from many nations, from all races, and gender identifications & preferences. Seeing the rainbow illuminated WH made me very happy, as does the polyglot influx of students every year. Robert & I sometimes play the game of how many different languages can we identify on our cental Davis/campus walks. So yes, I not only celebrate diversity, I cherish it in my daily life.

        ,

         

    2. John Hobbs

      “Insecure white male is as insecure white male does.”

      Happy Small Business Day

      (That’s guaranteed not to trigger anyone’s chromophobia) lol.

  1. Jeff Boone

    While Jeff Reisig complained, the core of the statement by Tracie Olson was accurate.

    It was not at all accurate for what it was implying.  It was at least intellectually dishonest and deserved to be corrected.

    As we pointed out before, at no point did Jeff Reisig acknowledge the racial discrepancies.

    Yes he did.  He explained that many if not most of these are people from outside the area and that explains the data.  Do you care about the data or just the politics?

    At no point in time did he vow to attempt to reduce them.

    Nonsensical hogwash.  How does a DA reduce the numbers of people prosecuted, convicted and jailed for committing crimes?  Turn the other cheek and ignore the crimes because of the race of the accused?  That would be racist.  Aren’t you against racism?

    At no point in time did he simply acknowledge what two-thirds of the nation seem to be calling for—reform and an honest evaluation of racism in our criminal justice system.

    Cites for your 2/3 number and what they are demanding to reform.  Popular opinion has no validity to law enforcement and judicial as those are state and local issues.  Liberals are free to make all of their communities like San Francisco, but Texas is Texas.  But we are talking about Yolo County are we not?  Isn’t this a local blog?  Isn’t the admonition from you and the moderator to stop taking the issues to a national level when they are supposed to be local?  How does 2/3 of the national population even register as being applicable to Yolo County which is anchored by Lilly white-guilt liberal Davis that blocks affordable housing so it ends up surrounded by poor minorities that come to visit for a bit of free property that can be lifted.

    1. Bill Marshall

      reform and an honest evaluation of racism in our criminal justice system.

      Impartial, unbiased, truthful = “honest”?   If so, I agree, big time…

    2. Matt Williams

      It was not at all accurate for what it was implying.  It was at least intellectually dishonest and deserved to be corrected.

      Jeff, two questions regarding your statement above, (1) Was Tracie Olsen’s original comment implying, or was Jeff Reisig inferring? and (2) Did the comment need to be corrected … or discussed?

      Yes he did.  He explained that many if not most of these are people from outside the area and that explains the data.  Do you care about the data or just the politics?

      Reisig’s reply is disingenuous.  Where the people “are from” is much less meaningful than where the people committed the crime they are incarcerated from.  As a Davis business owner, if your business is robbed and the alleged robber is apprehended, does it make any difference to you if the alleged robber is a Davis resident or a Sacramento resident?

      Nonsensical hogwash.  How does a DA reduce the numbers of people prosecuted, convicted and jailed for committing crimes?  Turn the other cheek and ignore the crimes because of the race of the accused?  That would be racist.  Aren’t you against racism?

      You are using a “lowest common denominator” argument. You don’t have to reduce the aggressiveness of the prosecution of the non-white criminals downward.  Another alternative is to prosecute the white criminals just as aggressively as the non-white criminals.

       

      1. Jeff Boone

        The implication by the public defender is that Resisig is a racist DA.  Frankly, given the social implication of that claim, implied or explicit, people making the claim need to be held to a VERY high standard.  If that standard is breached then the claimer risks being charged with hate speech.  I think that is where we need to go because the left has succeeded in justifying mob persecution of people based on these claims.  They made the bed they should be forced to sleep in.

        Reisig’s reply is disingenuous.  Where the people “are from” is much less meaningful than where the people committed the crime they are incarcerated from.

        Does that mean that in the places where there were peaceful protests where rioters and looters from out of town came in that the people from the town are still responsible?  That makes no sense.  The only way to make this data based claim honestly and accurately is to note where the people in jail came from and compare that to the jail population in their neighborhood.   It is well known that Davis, and Yolo County in general, attracts crime from the surrounding areas because, especially Davis, is soft on crime and has fewer cops per capita than all communities its size.   Reseig does not make the laws, he only enforces them.

        Another alternative is to prosecute the white criminals just as aggressively as the non-white criminals.

        You have no proof that it isn’t already the case.

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          “The implication by the public defender is that Resisig is a racist DA.”

          Actually I don’t believe that was her intent. I believe she was talking about the system and using the jail situation as an example. He certainly was not mentioned in her comments, nor did he bother to reach out to her to ask her what she meant.

  2. Tia Will

    This is thin skin.”

    I think this runs much deeper than thin skin. I believe Reisig has a fundamental & common misunderstanding of ‘strength”, which he seems to see not as a stalwart attempt to achieve equal justice for all, even if it means working with those having different perspectives, but rather distortions and intimidation as tactics in support of his preferred solutions. This seems to me the epitome of bluster, insecurity, and weakness.

  3. Ron Oertel

    Tracie Olson, in response to a question on disparities, stated, “Honestly we see Black people go to prison for crimes that white people don’t go to prison for…

    Maybe so, but it doesn’t (necessarily) explain the following, or the degree to which it might:

    On April 20, I looked at the jail population. We had about a little under 200 people in the jail, 49 of whom were Black. So that’s 25% of our Yolo County jail population is Black. Yolo County’s demographic population is 3% Black. So we have over an 800% over-representation of Black men and women in our local jail. So it is a local problem.”

      At no point in time did he vow to attempt to reduce them. 

    I’d like to hear (from others) what should be done, assuming that one cannot conclude that the discrepancy is entirely due to selective/discriminatory law enforcement and prosecution. (Or, do some believe that this is the entire cause of the discrepancy?)

      1. Ron Oertel

        I’m referring to the issue that the public defender brought up, as well as the implication (which criticizes the DA – based upon that implication).

        I quoted the public defender (from your own article above), not the DA.

  4. Doby Fleeman

    David,
    Based on your commentary, it appears that DA Reisig is simply doing his job – defending his office and the local judicial system from harmful and spurious implications of racism and illegal practices.

    Innuendo and implications – presented as evidence of blatant systemic racism is both offensive and a challenge to civil discourse.   Such tactics may be viewed as effective “messaging points” from certain political perspectives but is unhealthy if left unchallenged – for they diminish our collective respect for such institutions.

    I know of no one who disputes the existence of racism and serious societal problems associated with poverty, unemployment, ineffective educational outcomes, declining family structure, lack of local, civic leadership, diminished access to medical and social services and growth of gang culture – to name but a few.  Locally, nationally, and globally the disparities in outcomes for individuals living in such communities are profound.   When you aggregate all the problems together – such communities are typically referred to as slums – and they exist in every nation on the planet.  No doubt discrimination plays a significant role in such outcomes – but such discrimination does not solely follow along “racial” lines.

    We can have this discussion in Davis, Yolo County, California,  but if the goal – as it should be – is to seek effective reforms to address the underlying causes of such societal failings, it really seems the conversations need to begin with representation from within the local communities where the suffering is most profound.

    Whether it’s our jails in San Francisco or Yolo County, your article seems to confirm that the most troubled communities lie outside these local jurisdictions.  Don’t know if that’s accurate, but seems worthy of discussion and confirmation.  What is going on in these communities that results in these outcomes?   Is it really just about racial profiling and systemic discrimination?  Somehow, that conclusion seems a little too simplistic.

    If your first concerns are with social justice and accompanying reforms, perhaps your next article could begin with a deeper exploration and shining a brighter light on the local challenges facing those communities.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      Would argue his job is to prosecute lawbreakers in the county, not opposing council. I think discretion is generally the better part of valor.

      1. Doby Fleeman

        Convenient answer, but in the current climate, who else is defending of our existing systems and institutions?

        Based on your commentary, it appears that DA Reisig is simply doing his job – defending his office and the local judicial system from harmful and spurious implications of racism and illegal practices.

        Sometimes it requires political courage and bold leadership – even to state the obvious – particularly when one holds elective office.

         

        1. Tia Will

          Doby

          For me the question is not s much who is defending our existing systems and institutions, but rather which of our existing systems & institutions are worthy of defending, and which protect an injustice system and should be changed to better serve all.

        2. Jeff Boone

          For me the question is not s much who is defending our existing systems and institutions, but rather which of our existing systems & institutions are worthy of defending

          Certainly this sentiment is echoed within the Democrat party today.  It is just breathtaking to see it written.  But as I have said before, I really appreciate that about you.  You just say what you believe.

          But wow.

  5. Tia Will

    “Nat Turner a hero to you?”

    “Hero” is for me a very overused & overvalued word. It belongs in action movies where morality is black & white. I am a pacifist and will never choose violence as a first resort. But in Turner’s time, it was not a first, or second, or even third resort. He was fighting for the same freedoms whites took for granted. Would you not fight for your freedom if someone tried to keep us enslaved today? Would you commit atrocities as we did in WWII or Viet Nam? I don’t think these can be reduced to simplistic questions.

     

  6. Ron Oertel

    Regardless of what one thinks of Reisig, an alternative title for this article might be:

    “My View: I (David Greenwald) Cannot Let This One Go, Doubles Down on Attack on District Attorney”

    🙂

    I’ve got to wonder if he ever met the guy, or tried to interview him directly.

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