Thursday, April 24, 2014

NAME THAT PARTY: Dirty politics, beating lands two in jail



Port Isabel City Commissioner Place 2 Maria de Jesus or “MJ” Garza is seeking re-election but Robin Sagnes Ochoa also wants the seat - and apparently friendly competition in this case, may have gone too far.
Cameron County Sheriff Deputies arrested Ochoa's husband, Orlando Ochoa Sr., and his son Orlando Ochoa, Jr. for assaulting a man they allegedly first hired for dirty politics.
"He was hired by Orlando Ochoa to illegally remove political adds in the City of Port Isabel…under the condition that he would pay him $5 per sign that he took down," Cameron County Chief Deputy Gus Reyna said.
According to Reyna, witnesses reported the man taking down Garza's signs, to Port Isabel Police.
Officers arrested  Duvillo Grava and charged him with theft. That's when he told officers that Ochoa hired him.
Police records state, that same day, the Ochoa's took matters into their own hands.
"Grava was assaulted by Orlando Ochoa and Orlando Ochoa, Jr., for telling Port Isabel P.D. that Orlando Ochoa paid him to take off the political signs,” Reyna said.
Documents state Ochoa Sr. yelled obscenities and repeatedly punched the man on the head and body, while threatening to kill him if he didn't obey him Later Ochoa Jr. kicked Grava, records state, while he begged him to stop.
Commissioner Garza declined to comment on camera, but did confirm that more than five signs valued, at about $15 each, were stolen from homes or businesses.
She said the ordeal is surprising because Ochoa Sr., is her own cousin.
Right now, Ochoa Sr. is charged for retaliation, assault, terroristic threat and tampering with witnesses for a bond of over $125,000.
Ochoa, Jr. is charged with retaliation and assault for a $100,000 bond.
"It can be a bicycle- it doesn't make a difference what it is- the thing is that you're committing a crime by taking something that doesn't belong to you," Reyna said.
Early Voting is from April 28 to May 6; Election Day is May 10.



Community organizer and gun control activist Vincent DeMarco spoke at UNC Charlotte recently to kick off National Public Health Week. The attorney activist and President of Health Care for All has spent 30 years lobbying against tobacco, alcohol and gun rights associations under the guise of working on public health issues.

While addressing the group of 40 to 50 at the Student Union, the Maryland based “advocate” [DeMarco’s self-description] schooled attendees in the art of “Transforming Public Will into Political Power.”
DeMarco has devised a foolproof method of pressuring lawmakers into voting for policy that his groups create. He uses to his advantage election seasons when candidates are most vulnerable to public opinion. In addition, DeMarco’s six-step process to guarantee a win for his causes depends heavily on building coalitions, with faith leaders as the most critical members.
As national coordinator of Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence, DeMarco calls on legislators in election years to support gun laws that require background checks, fingerprint licensing, and the sale of guns with no more than 10 rounds of magazine capacity.
DeMarco believes “very strongly…that assault rifles, like the ones used in Newtown, Aurora and by the DC sniper need to be banned.”
Moreover, FUPGV asserts: “We have a moral obligation to keep guns out of the hands of people who may harm themselves or others.” 
But gun rights advocates have a big problem with restricting gun rights on law-abiding citizens. 
A North Carolina concealed carry owner told this author he disagrees with fingerprint licensing because the state assumes he is a criminal before he even possesses a firearm.
Don Pomeroy, Secretary/Treasurer of Grass Roots NC and a member of the audience, weighed in with his take on DeMarco and his activism.
I was appalled that UNCC provided a forum for such a naked, biased agenda during its Public Health Week with no counterpoint whatsoever.  To see a taxpayer-funded university sponsor an event advocating the manipulation and control of taxpayers and their government representatives to further an agenda of control over the taxpayers dripped with irony and hypocrisy.  The sad icing on the cake was the apparent utter naïveté and ignorance of the UNCC public health studies department chair as to the essence of the DeMarco message.  Speaking to the department chair after the event was a true disappointment and demonstration of why our public education institutions are failing the taxpayers that support them.
…DeMarco’s scurrilous methods and in particular his gun-grabber agenda and penchant for legislatively stripping Second Amendment rights and natural liberties while trampling the Constitution.
In one of the six steps, DeMarco taught the audience how to use “The Rule of the Third” and how this plays into every decision you make in promoting your cause. The public is divided into thirds: the rabid supporters, those 100% against you, and the middle that may agree with you, but have some concerns. With respect to gun issues, he said: 
Your goal is to come up with a plan that motivates your base without turning off people in the middle. When you go to gun issues, before the Supreme Court decision that you can’t ban all guns, which I think is a great decision, before that there were people that wanted to ban all guns. Well, that may motivate the third of the rabid base, but it turns off people in the middle; you’re never going to get it done.
Fingerprint licensing of handgun purchasers – that is strong enough to motivate your base without turning off the people in the middle.
So, the community organizer is willing to trade an all-out ban [most likely what he eventually wants] for an incremental approach to gain the trust of “the middle.”
Will the “DeMarco factor” chip away at gun rights until we can no longer bear arms?

Colorado 4th Graders Busted for Selling Pot at School


It’s Legal to Sell Pot in Colorado, But Not If You’re in 4th Grade

DENVER  – Two Colorado fourth graders were busted for selling marijuana at their elementary school, prompting officials today to urge adults to keep their weed locked away from kids.
School officials said a 10-year-old fourth grade boy brought a small quantity of leafy marijuana to Monfort Elementary School in Greeley, Colorado, on Monday.
“He sold it to three other fourth graders on the school playground, which resulted in a profit to the young man of $11,” John Gates, director of safety and security for the Greeley-Evans School District, told ABC News.
The next day, Gates said one of the three young buyers brought a marijuana edible to school and gave it to the boy who sold the pot on Monday. That boy took a bite, but did not suffer any ill effects, Gates said.
Both boys apparently got the weed from relatives, according to Gates.
“Both of these kids took the marijuana without the consent of their grandparents,” said Gates.
Gates said the four students involved will be suspended for a “significant” number of days, but declined to say exactly how long the punishment would be. Initially police were called, but officials have determined the incident will not he handled as a criminal matter, he said.
“We hope to send a good message here without ruining anybody’s lives. The message we really want to get out here to the adults is, ‘for crying out loud, secure it,’” Gates said.
Adults 21 and older have been able to buy recreational marijuana legally in Colorado since Jan. 1.
In a letter sent home to parents, Monfort Elementary School Principal Jennifer Sheldon said no student was injured.
“We know that many adults have greater access to marijuana since the change in the drug’s legal status in Colorado,” Sheldon wrote. “We urge all parents, grandparents and anyone who cares for children to treat marijuana as you would prescription drugs, alcohol or even firearms. This drug is potentially lethal to children, and should always be kept under lock and key, away from young people.”
The side effects of edible marijuana – which can be far more potent than smoking a joint – have been raising new concerns after two recent deaths in Colorado. In one, a 19-year old college student died when he jumped off a hotel balcony after eating a marijuana-laced cookie. In the second, Richard Kirk, 47, was charged with shooting and killing his wife while she called 9-1-1, telling police her husband had consumed pot-infused candy.
Colorado’s legislature is currently considering new safety regulations for marijuana edibles, including bills requiring stronger warning labels and lowering the amount of THC permitted in food.

Maine seeks whistleblower’s health files in document-shredding case


A judge limits the request. Her lawyer says it’s likely an attempt to portray the Maine CDC employee as unstable.

Lawyers for the state tried to obtain more than five years of medical records and the names of doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists who saw a former state employee who has filed a whistleblower lawsuit over the shredding of public records by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
click image to enlarge
Former Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention employee Sharon Leahy-Lind has filed a lawsuit claiming that her former superiors ordered her to shred documents related to grant awards, and that she was bullied and harassed when she refused. A judge Wednesday denied the state’s request for some of her medical records, saying they were irrelevant to the case. Leahy-Lind’s lawyer said the state is trying to make her client appear to be unstable.
Eric Russell/staff writer


The attorney for Sharon Leahy-Lind said Wednesday that the Department of Health and Human Services’ request was overly broad and intrusive, and likely foreshadows attempts to portray her client as unstable.
Leahy-Lind, former director of the CDC’s Division of Local Public Health, is the plaintiff in a lawsuit that’s in preliminary proceedings in U.S. District Court in Portland. She has alleged in court documents, and in sworn testimony before a legislative committee, that supervisors including CDC Director Sheila Pinette bullied and harassed her, and caused her emotional distress when she refused orders to destroy documents that were used to justify $4.7 million in public health grants.
In March, the court-appointed attorneys for the DHHS requested, through a discovery motion, documents related to Leahy-Lind’s health history. The request included the name of every physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker and health care provider that Leahy-Lind had seen since 2008.
The attorneys also asked for all health-related expenses that Leahy-Lind had incurred since 2012, the year she made her allegations public but before she filed the federal lawsuit on Oct. 21, 2013.
The DHHS attorneys also requested all documents related to physical or emotional impairment that Leahy-Lind has claimed since 2008.
On Tuesday, John H. Rich III, a federal magistrate judge, denied many of the requests, including Leahy-Lind’s health expenses since 2012 and her insurance or benefit applications since 2008. Rich ruled both irrelevant to the case.
He ordered Leahy-Lind to comply with a narrower request to show any physical or emotional ailments since 2011, and to provide corresponding medical and mental health records. He also ordered her to disclose the names of physicians, psychiatrists and psychologists she has seen since 2011.
Rich wrote that the records are appropriate because Leahy-Lind claims emotional distress in her complaint against her former CDC supervisors.
Cynthia Dill, the attorney for Leahy-Lind, said the ruling was fair and struck an appropriate balance between protecting her client’s confidential medical records and satisfying the discovery request for the defendants.
Dill said the initial request was overly broad because Leahy-Lind isn’t seeking extraordinary damages or alleging permanent emotional distress. She said the request signals an attempt to “poke holes” in Leahy-Lind’s credibility.
“I expect that they are going to claim that my client is unstable,” Dill said. “I believe they’re going to argue that these problems – the unlawful order to destroy public documents and the harassment that my client suffered – was not something that they did, but somehow the fault of my client.
“Unfortunately, this is nothing new in cases in which individuals, especially women, come forward with harassment claims against their employers,” Dill said.
She said Leahy-Lind has not seen a psychiatrist or a psychologist.
“My client has nothing to hide,” Dill said. “We believe that the court order is a reasonable request that protects her confidential medical records.”
Attorneys for Fisher and Phillips of Portland, the court-appointed law firm that’s defending the DHHS, did not respond to a request for comment. Fisher and Phillips specializes in labor and employment law and has offices in several states.
The DHHS, which oversees the CDC, hired Fisher and Phillips after two lawyers in the Maine Attorney General’s Office who were defending the CDC asked to withdraw from the case, citing an unexpected development.
The specific reason for the withdrawal is confidential, but it has raised questions about whether criminal charges are forthcoming or whether there was a breach in the firewall between state attorneys defending the CDC and attorneys considering prosecution.
In court documents, the Fisher and Phillips attorneys argued that the request for Leahy-Lind’s medical history and other documents was relevant to the defense against allegations that Lisa Sockabasin, director of the CDC’s Office of Health Equity, had described Leahy-Lind as “crazy” to a public health official who was evaluating cultural issues in the CDC.
In Leahy-Lind’s initial complaint, Dill alleged that the comment was “part of a larger plan to undermine Sharon’s credibility in the public health community and push her out of the CDC” because she had refused to do something illegal.
The discovery request by the DHHS is the latest development in a controversy that has reached the Legislature.
In March, the Government Oversight Committee heard sworn testimony from Pinette, Sockabasin and three other CDC officials. Each had been subpoenaed by the committee after a legislative watchdog agency found strong evidence that CDC officials including Christine Zukas, the deputy director, had ordered the destruction of documents used to determine the grants in the Maine Healthy Partnerships Program, and that the selection process had been manipulated when supervisors were unhappy with the original results.
The records destruction coincided with a request for information by the Sun Journal of Lewiston under the Maine Freedom of Access Act. It’s not clear from testimony whether the request precipitated the CDC’s actions.
Zukas, who admitted to destroying grant documents, implicated Pinette in the decision to manipulate the grant awards.
The legislative testimony may become part of the lawsuit, in which Pinette, Zukas and Sockabasin are defendants. Attorneys for Pinette and Sockabasin have filed motions to dismiss their clients as defendants. The court has not ruled on dismissals, but Dill said she expects a decision soon. She said that even if the court removes Sockabasin and Pinette as individual defendants, it will have no effect on the lawsuit against the DHHS.
The Government Oversight Committee will meet again on May 14, when it may get an update from its watchdog agency.

Liberal Mentality Exposed: 6 fired for closing Arizona child abuse reports


PHOENIX (AP) — Five senior Arizona child welfare employees were fired for orchestrating a plan that led to more than 6,500 Arizona child abuse and neglect cases being closed without investigations, officials said.
The firings were the first major personnel action since the cases were discovered in November.
Charles Flanagan, who heads a new state child welfare agency created in the wake of discovery of the closed cases, said an additional senior administrator at the state agency that formerly oversaw Child Protective Services was also fired Wednesday.
Flanagan briefed reporters after state police completed an investigation into what led to reports phoned into a state child abuse and neglect hotline not being investigated starting in late 2009. The discovery of the cases led Gov. Jan Brewer to pull CPS from its parent agency and create a new cabinet level post led by Flanagan to oversee child welfare cases statewide.
Flanagan said the five upper-level managers and administrators he fired were responsible for creating and overseeing the case closings against policy and in violation of state laws. He said they not only knew that what they were doing was against policy but took steps to keep their actions secret.
"There was a lack of policy, a lack of procedure, lack in systems, people made decisions that they actually documented that they knew were wrong and did them anyway," Flanagan said. "They made decisions and failed to communicate those appropriately."
All six were at-will employees, meaning that they could be fired without cause.
The lawyer for the five fired CPS workers, Terry Woods, said they acted on the orders of the fired deputy director of the Department of Economic security, the former parent agency of CPS.
"Our position is that it was unfair to terminate them for planning an operation at the request and direction of their superiors and executing it with the knowledge and direction of their superiors,' Woods said. "The person they know knew everything was Sharon, and of course she lost her job too."
Sharon is Sharon Sergent, the DES Deputy Director for Programs.
Woods said he is reviewing whether a wrongful termination lawsuit is possible.
"In Arizona, at will employees can be fired for no reason, or for a good reason, but not for a bad reason — or a reason that violates public policy," he said.
The state police report, delivered to Flanagan last Friday, was also released Wednesday. Flanagan said it contained no revelations that had not been revealed in a previous report he oversaw that was released in January that found troubling problems in CPS.
The five senior workers fired Wednesday had been on administrative leave since early December. They created a system to screen hotline reports and prevent them from being sent to field workers as a way to reduce a crushing workload on the field workers. The group had become what Flanagan called "the de facto leadership of CPS under the Division of Child Safety and Family Services."
"And they made a determination that with the increase in calls and cases that it was a crushing workload, they couldn't do the workload," he said. "And so they made the decision, a very bad decision, a dysfunctional decision, to remove cases from the field."
A team led by Flanagan is reviewing all of the nearly 6,600 cases that were not investigated between late 2009 and last November. So far, 550 children have been removed from their homes, and one in six of the cases had supplemental investigations.
Brewer pulled CPS from the Department of Economic Security in January and appointed Flanagan to lead a new agency called the Division of Child Safety & Family Services. DES is a massive state agency that also oversees unemployment benefits, Medicaid, welfare and many other social programs.
DES Director Clarence Carter remains in his job, and Flanagan said he saw no evidence that he knew of the actions of his employees. Carter's staff released a letter he sent to staff Wednesday saying he had appointed an interim Director of Programs after taking "appropriate and necessary personnel action."
"The Department of Public Safety issued its administrative review of the 'Not Investigated' CPS cases," Carter wrote. "The review paints a very troubling picture of poor policy, practice, communication and decision-making that ultimately put many vulnerable Arizona Children in harm's way."
Flanagan echoed that conclusion.
"These people that made these decisions at a managerial level and at an administrative level should have known better that this is not an appropriate way to do business," Flanagan said.
Woods said the five fired workers were asked by Sergent to come up with ways to reduce the backlog of cases.
"They come back with a plan, and the boss says, 'Yeah, I like that plan, let's go,'" Woods said.