The Fishing Report
Sonoma County announced this week that it’s poised to hire Karlene Navarro, a Petaluma defense attorney, to take over as director of the county police accountability office, the Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach. San Francisco attorney Jerry Threet left the post at the end of February.
Navarro is scheduled to appear before the Sonoma County Supervisors on their March 12 meeting for their approval.
It remains to be seen whether they’ll ask her about her husband, a former prosecutor in Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch’s office at the time Ravitch exonerated the SCSO officer whose actions helped give rise to the IOLERO.
Sonoma County Supervisor and board chairman David Rabbitt said of the Navarro hire in the Press Democrat today: “We are confident that Ms. Navarro has the qualifications, background and integrity to carry out the difficult responsibilities of this position which the public rightfully deserves.” Rabbit’s district includes Petaluma. The story did not mention Navarro’s husband.
Christopher Honigsberg, was, until recently, a Sonoma County Assistant District Attorney until he was posted to a Sonoma Superior Court judgeship last February by former Gov. Jerry Brown, according to a Press Democrat report from February of 2018 that identifies Honigsberg as the husband of Karlene Navarro.
Honigsberg was hired by the Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch in 2009, and she sang his praises to the PD upon his 2018 departure: “I think it’s an outstanding appointment. It’s a loss for our office but a real win for the county at large.”
The IOLERO was created in the aftermath of the 2013 shooting of Andy Lopez by a Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office deputy. In 2014, while Honigsberg was on her staff, Ravitch elected to not bring charges against the deputy and released a lengthy report of her investigation that cleared the officer of any criminal charges. Gelhaus remains on the SCSO force.
The county settled a federal civil rights lawsuit with the Lopez family late last year for $3 million even as Rabbitt raised concerns about the budgetary impact of the IOLERO’s annual $500k budget, and about Threet’s work as the office’s first director.
Also late last year, the SCSO pushed the Sonoma County Supervisors to consider eliminating the full time county position and replace it with a contracted auditor, claiming that the IOLERO under Threet was biased against the SCSO and that he was improperly creating police policy in his role.
The SCSO’s attempt to eliminate the IOELRO under Rob Giordano’s leadership is a matter of public record, as its written response to Threet’s annual report from last year amply demonstrates:
“The Sheriff’s Office feels a more productive model to accomplish this is to hire a truly neutral, independent, and unbiased auditor for a specific, limited period of time. If there is no expectation of employment beyond a specific period of time, there is no pressure or inherent need to justify IOLERO. This would greatly reduce the chances of either intentional or unintentional bias developing in the auditor. It would also afford the Sheriff’s Office the opportunity to get input from a variety of perspectives outside of the County. The Sheriff’s Office looks forward to continuing to work with the Board of Supervisors to fine tune the auditor model.”
Rabbitt has echoed those concerns raised in the SCSO report in public remarks, as has supervisor Shirlee Zane.
In January, newly elected Sheriff Mark Essick told the Press Democrat that he was pleased with the county’s choice to replace Threet, which then was under wraps as Navarro underwent a background check.
“I’m excited,” Essick told the local paper of record. “I think this person will bring a different perspective to IOLERO than the current director.”
Cal Fire issued a statement and report today identifying a private power system and not PG being the culprit in the deadly 2017 wildfire. Sen. Bill Dodd released a statement of his own saying that the Cal Fire finding shows that everyone needs to up their fire prevention game in the “new normal.” For PG this is a rare bit of good news; the utility was found to be the culprit in a dozen of the 2017 fires that swept through California and has recently been swept up in bankruptcy talk over its estimated $30 billion insurance exposure associated with the fires ## ## . Here’s the press release from Cal Fire and a link to their investigation:
Sacramento After an extensive and thorough investigation, CAL FIRE has determined the Tubbs Fire, which occurred during the October 2017 Fire Siege, was caused by a private electrical system adjacent to a residential structure. CAL FIRE investigators did not identify any violations of state law, Public Resources Code, related to the cause of this fire.
The Tubbs Fire in Sonoma County started on the evening of October 8th, 2017 and burned a total of 36,807 acres. Destroying 5,636 structures and resulting in 22 civilian fatalities and one firefighter injury.
In total, the October 2017 Fire Siege involved more than 170 fires and burned at least 245,000 acres in Northern California. Approximately 11,000 firefighters from 17 states and Australia helped battle the blazes.
CAL FIRE investigators are dispatched with the initial attack resources to the wildfires in CAL FIRE jurisdiction and immediately begin working to determine their origin and cause.
Californians must remain vigilant and take on the responsibility to be prepared for wildfire at any time throughout the year.
Link to the redacted Tubbs Fire Investigation Report here:Housely was a student at nearby Pepperdine University in Malibu, says Napa State Sen. Bill Dodd in a statement this afternoon. Dodd offered condolences to the Housely family as he also acknowledged the murder of Ventura County sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus. The officer was killed at the Borderline bar by a former Marine who committed suicide in the Western style club.
“I’m thankful to law enforcement for their quick response to their heinous shooting,” says Dodd, “including Sgt. Helus, who was killed while heroically working to save others.”
The young woman was the daughter of Arik and Hannah Housely, reports Dodd. The Housely family owns the Ranch Markets in Yountville and Napa. They have our condolences too.
As Sen. Rep. Jared Huffman called in from the road to express his outrage and disgust at the disturbing week of domestic terrorism. “Several people I know and consider friends” have been targeted, says Huffman, citing Harris and Steyer as he called upon Donald Trump to “basically shut up. He is not a credible messenger when it come to de escalating this political wildfire. He needs to just tone everything down while others try to set another tone.”
Huffman’s not convinced that others in the GOP will stand up and denounce the attacks as he accused members of the Republican Party of playing Trump’s game and deflecting blame to the media. “I wish I was hearing from a whole bunch of Republicans in a candid and fulsome way.” he says, “but unfortunately, too many of them are following Trump’s lead on this and suggesting that the media had a role.”
Yesterday the reality show president tweeted that if it weren’t for the media the enemy of the people, as he’s said before maybe his supporters wouldn’t be so angry that they’d be driven to try and murder public officials that Trump himself has vilified using extremist rhetoric. “A very big part of the Anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News. It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!”