Running

Three lawyers want to be in charge of punishing people who’ve been arrested for violating a Butte County statute, so they’re running for Butte County District Attorney. I think that’s how it goes.

Mike Ramsey has been the Butte County DA since 1987—it’s time for a one-term limit—and of course he’s running for reelection. Ramsey’s prosecution of corporate polluters apparently so enraged some local capitalists that they imported Lance Daniel all the way from Sacramento to run against him. Then there’s Dale Rasmussen, a local man who ran against Ramsey in 2002. Rasmussen’s not accepting contributions or running a traditional campaign, although he does have a Facebook page, a blog, and a sense of humor.

I don’t know any of the candidates, and I’m perfectly willing to make broad judgments about them anyway, which is integral to our democracy.

I first noticed Mike Ramsey’s name in connection with Gregory Wright, a 17-year-old boy who shot a pistol into the ceiling at school and got 22 years in prison, thanks to Ramsey. Ramsey has inflicted misery on thousands of people and wants to keep on doing it, maybe because he’s unlikely to find another socially acceptable way to hurt as many people as he can hurt as DA.

I recently went to a Lance Daniel gathering in Oroville. As a friend and I walked over, Daniel was complaining about biased coverage in the Chico Entreprise-Record. He’s new here. Daniel reminded me of Norm Coleman, a former mayor of Saint Paul who recently lost his Senate seat to Al Franken, thank goodness. When I ran across Coleman some years ago, although it was a warm, cloudless day, as he got closer the air grew cold and I faintly heard screechy violins and the wailing of lost souls. At the Daniel barbeque in Oroville, a helper asked me if I wanted butter on my roasted corn. The ear I’d already eaten had been so delectable that the only way to improve it was by the addition of animal fat, so I said “Yes.” After rummaging around in a cooler, what she handed me was “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” in a plastic spray bottle. Enough said.

Any well-dressed sadist might do for most people, but for me the Butte County District Attorney’s race involves one issue—Gregory Wright’s freedom. It’d be interesting to have a non-lawyer in the office, someone who’s more compassionate and open-minded than most lawyers seem to be, but that’s not happening this year. Of the three, Rasmussen seems the most realistically human, at least online, and human—or even life-like—is a good start.

Posted Thursday, May 20th, 2010 under compassion, government, judgment, Uncategorized.

13 comments

  1. Laurel Avalon says:

    Yes.

    Gregory Wright sits in prison learning to survive by all means possible for the next couple of decades. If that means you gotta go with the white supremacists . . . then a prisoner’s gotta do what a prisoner’s gotta do. . . .

    Education, counseling, supportive services for kids are a smarter investment in fighting crime than all the cops and prosecutors that money can buy.

  2. Jim Brobeck says:

    Ramsey has decades of history as DA yet you bring up a single incident to illustrate his lack of humanity. Did Wright refuse a plea bargain that would have carried a much lighter term? Does any DA make enemies as he completes his duties? Has Ramsey”s office been involved in any innovative law enforcement strategies such as drug court, or other programs to divert away from incarceration? Do term limits eliminate public servants who actually know how to run government programs and processes?
    What is the main issue of this particular race? I think it is Ramsey v. Daniel . . . environmental regulation v polluters at the helm.

    • I’ll respond Thursday. Meanwhile, I think the main issue in this race depends on who’s commenting. My favorite simplification is the Wright case as a sign of government’s slide into sadism.

  3. Boy, Jim really doesn’t know anything about either of the candidates he mentions, except what he hears on the TV ads. Poor, poor Jim. I guess it’s a good thing that he or his family has never had any contact with Ramsey or the DA’s office in any capacity. Unfortunately, I have.

    A family member of mine owns a business. An employee of that business embezzled tens of thousands of dollars from the business, stole property from customers of the business and stole my family member’s identity to procure credit. Even with file after file of this employee’s criminal activity clearly documented Ramsey refused to prosecute. Why? Nobody knows for sure. The best guess is that this now former employee gave the DA’s office evidence to prosecute other criminals—drug dealers, most likely.

    I could give a dozen more examples of the dirty dealings of the DA’s office, but I won’t waste our time. Just know that there are reasons so many people in this county hate Ramsey, and he has earned every bit of their ire.

    I’d really like to see Rasmussen win this election, too. When Ramsey was up for election the last time, unchallenged, I wrote in “Anyone but Ramsey” on my ballot. I realize that’s meaningless, but I absolutely could *not* vote for him.

    Incidentally, I tried to find Rasmussen at Facebook, but failed to do so. I did read his blog entries for this month and couldn’t agree more with everything he said. This Daniel candidate really smells of carpetbagger to me, but I could care less if his office is over a tattoo parlor or in a big, fancy, marble-lined high-rise. The point being that he’s not from Butte County.

  4. David Winglifter says:

    I think the motives, intentions, actions and behaviors of ANY person who draws a paycheck from the criminal sysytem of justice (directly or indirectly) must be critically, thoroughly examined by an honest,
    concerned citizenry, frequently. Unfortunately, the opposite seems to be the usual circumstance.

  5. David Winglifter says:

    Perhaps every law needs a sunset provision? Looks to me like the criminal system of justice is a fear driven growth industry, especially during a depression. (Great current example being Arizona’s current efforts – gonna lock themselves into a reservation for “whiteys”?) I’m not just talking about elected officials . . . What if all these people now paid by this industry could redirect their energy into positive, productive work?
    Yes, “And then what??? . . .” How about some way to require/mandate the damage caused by a perpetrator to be directly repaired/redressed to/for the victim(s) of a crime? Our country already locks up a larger percentage of its population than just about any other, and most of the system’s efforts are designed to turn people into a permanent
    fuel source to expand the system. And (like so much else) that drains energy from positive efforts to educate, heal, grow, and nuture.

  6. Nathaniel Perry says:

    “Of the three, Rasmussen seems the most realistically human”

    Sadly, I’m not sure it can be argued that the “tough on crime” rhetoric that seems to be de rigueur for a DA or anyone seeking to hold that job is anything but human, albeit not the most attractive aspect of such.

    In Heinlein’s “Stranger in a Strange Land,” a human raised by Martians finally understands humanity when he sees a peanut tossed to a monkey in a zoo. Predictably, a bigger monkey comes along, beats up that monkey and takes the peanut. The empty-handed monkey finds an even smaller monkey and for no particular reason, beats that monkey up.

    Very few of us are the biggest monkeys. It seems to be instinctual for all of us medium-sized monkeys to want to make sure the smaller monkeys, (or, translating the metaphor back into reality, the less-deserving people, i.e. “criminals”) are suffering more than we are.

  7. Yes.

    Gregory Wright sits in prison learning to survive by all means possible for the next couple of decades. If that means you gotta go with the white supremacists . . . then a prisoner’s gotta do what a prisoner’s gotta do. . . .

    Education, counseling, supportive services for kids are a smarter investment in fighting crime than all the cops and prosecutors that money can buy.

  8. Anthony, I think Mr B was wrong. Butte County did not innovate the lenient first-offender drug diversion, it was mandated by the state and is in effect everywhere in California in some form (to reduce prison population could well be at least one of the real state motives).

  9. I think the motives, intentions, actions and behaviors of ANY person who draws a paycheck from the criminal sysytem of justice (directly or indirectly) must be critically, thoroughly examined by an honest, concerned citizenry, frequently. Unfortunately, the opposite seems to be the usual circumstance.

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