Sunday, November 17, 2013

Iggy Pop: Michigan Legislature “Shameful” to Allow Wolf Hunt

As you’ve seen via almost every Michigan media outlet, Iggy Pop is lending his name to an effort to repeal a bill that permits limited wolf hunting in Michigan.
In a letter dated Nov. 12, Iggy asks Michigan Gov, Rick Snyder to halt the hunt that began last week and put the issue to a vote “allowing the people’s voices to be heard.”
 “As a Michigan native and someone who has cared about animals, both wild and domestic, for as long as I can remember, I was dismayed…that a bill you signed last May (S.B. 288/P.A. 21) gave Michigan’s Natural Resources Commission the authority to decide which animals can be hunted…which resulted in the first authorized wolf hunt since wolves underwent state protection in 1965,” Iggy writes.
“It is shameful the lengths the legislature and the executive branch will go to hunt this iconic creature while as the same time opening the door for other species to be hunted, like the Sandhill Crane. The legislature’s actions are nothing more than an attempt to shield their actions and take away the voters’ rights.”
There’s much more to the bill to hunt wolves than just an action to help a small segment of Michigan’s cattle farmers, primarily in a limited region of the Upper Peninsula.
First comes the revelation that many of the complaints about wolves have come from one loud farmer, who has done little on his own to mitigate.
Then there is the travesty of public records reporting. There are few states that rival Michigan for government secrecy in order to keep the public in the dark.
From a story in MLive about the public response to the wolf hunt:  The Natural Resources Commission received more than 10,000 emails after seeking public comment, but there is no tally of how many were pro or con. The NRC chairman deleted several thousand, many of them identical, from all over the world. Most of the rest went unopened, a department spokesman said. They said anti-hunt groups launched an email blast so extensive the agency was overwhelmed.
I’m not sure who would believe that dog-ate-my-homework excuse, but certainly no one with any common sense.
Gov. Snyder is appeasing powerful Republican state Sen.  Tom Casperson, who serves a wide swath of the UP, where GOP votes have been traditionally hard to get.
Casperson is now chair of the Transportation Committee and the Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes Committee. His campaign coffers, like so many, are amassed with cash from special interests.
Perhaps more important in the case of the wolf hunt, he has received $10,500 over the years from the Michigan Farm Bureau political action committee, one of the prime movers of the bill that allowed the hunt.
Most farmers donate to the PAC, and more are members of the bureau.  That’s a big voting block.
Casperson posted a press release in October citing wolf attacks on the livestock and pets of some of his constituents in October while berating the U.S. Humane Society.  Then Casperson cited a poll by a Republican polling group that claimed 67 percent of Michiganders supported a wolf hunt in targeted areas of the state, which includes his district.
Casperson is the same lawmaker who pushed through a bill allowing petting zoo patrons to touch captive bear cubs, explicitly and unashamedly citing Oswald’s Bear Ranch in Newberry, Michigan in a press release as enjoying the benefits of this measure.
Casperson is certainly for sale. Dean and Jewel Oswald, operators of the bear ranch, donated $1,000 each to his campaign fund in August, 2012.
Casperson introduced the bill regarding bear cub petting five months later, in January of this year. The Oswalds had also donated $500 to Casperson in 2010. The price goes up, apparently, according to what you seek. Senate bills must cost more.
As you can see, the wolf hunt is all about the cash and Republican Party fealty.
Iggy’s letter in support of the wolves is a terrific gesture, truly something he didn’t need to do. That speaks volumes. He writes the letter like a man who has read White Fang more than once.

Iggy could make a big difference down the line by funding and supporting candidates to take out such pay-to-play lackeys like Snyder and Casperson. Yes, they’ll be replaced by the same, but the revolving door at least has a small effect on honesty.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Pursuit of the Tex Watson Tapes. Charles Manson Still on the Hook.

I covet the Tex Watson tapes that the Los Angeles Police Department obtained.  Yes, I’ve read the Watson prison book, Will You Die For Me? and his numerous mea cuplas. I’m sure he has a nice room in Hell waiting for him when he’s done with this life but maybe that’s just a view jaundiced by viewing the murder scene photos at Cielo Drive. 
Watson was a knife-wielding maniac that night in August 1969, and the carnage was mostly of his making. He was also the first of those charged to declare his conversion to religion.
A couple years ago, it was revealed that there are about eight hours of audio tapes from 1969 of Watson talking with Bill Boyd, a defense attorney in McKinney, Texas, about 40 miles north of Dallas. The tapes were made shortly after Watson was arrested in connection with the murders at Cielo and in Los Feliz of Rosemary and Leno La Bianca.  Here’s a good story laying it all out.
I knew Bill Boyd when I was a reporter at the McKinney Courier-Gazette in the early 90s. He was a tough guy who was still cruising on that legend of Watson, but he was also a great criminal defense guy who pissed off endless assistant prosecutors.
In September, I filed an open records request with the department for the Watson tapes.  The LAPD, taking its time, denied my request, which I could see coming.  Watson has asserted that “there are no unsolved murder committed by the Manson family,” but the LAPD appears to be looking into something related to the tapes. Or at least that’s what it is asserting in its denial. 
Last year,  LAPD Commander Andrew Smith said the tapes could hold the key to a dozen unsolved murders. It would seem that in a year, there would be some progress, which the LAPD would be happy to share. 
But t
hese tapes need to be public if there is no imminent investigation. Below is the email I sent this week in a mild appeal. This is the first salvo. It's never good to quit in these efforts and hopefully it will lead to something in the end.
If anyone is interested in seeing this through, legal eagles in particular, let me know. Maybe we can keep the LAPD honest.

November 6, 2013

Caydene Monk
Los Angeles Police Department
Discovery Section
 201 N. Los Angeles St., Space 301,
Los Angeles, Calif.  90012

RE: Public Records Act Request, Tex Watson tapes

Ms Monk

I am in receipt of your letter dated October 29, 2013 (attached) regarding my open records request of September 20, 2013 (attached).

In your response, you cite Government Code Section 6254 (f), which contends that the material I seek is exempt under the provision of investigation.

Media reports, which have not been corrected by the LAPD, have said these tapes were obtained “because authorities believe the tapes might provide new clues about unsolved killings involving followers of Manson.” (CNN 6/13/12) This source sites court documents.

However, the exemption for law enforcement investigatory files arises “only when the prospect of enforcement proceedings becomes concrete and definite… Under section 6254, subdivision (f), the police agency is directed to make public certain categories of specified information unless disclosure of a particular item of information would endanger the integrity of an investigation, or the safety of a person involved in the investigation or of a related investigation,   (Williams v. Superior Court, 5 Cal. 4th 337, 356 (1993)

I would add that this same decision notes that “the labels of…"internal investigation" are captivatingly expansive, and present an elasticity menacing to the principle of public scrutiny of government."

I ask that you please reconsider your decision. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions as to what I am seeking or the information I am trying to extract.

Steve Miller