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Reporter's Notebook published Oct. 27, 2012

About 21 percent of DN ballots already in

Ten days left until the general election and 2,571 Del Norters have already cast ballots by mail, according to County Clerk Alissia Northrup.

That’s out of 12,176 voters who had registered as of Oct. 15.

Meanwhile, more volunteer poll workers are needed for the finale Nov. 6. 

Anyone who’s a Del Norte County resident, U.S. citizen and registered voter is eligible. The pay is slight (about $75 including time for training) and the day is long: polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

A training class will be held Saturday, Nov. 3.

“Being a poll worker is a great way to serve your community, take an active roll in democracy, and become part of the dedicated team working to make the election process easy and accessible to everyone,” Northrup said by email. 

To volunteer or get more info, contact Susan Mealue in the Elections office at 707-465-0383.

 — Emily Jo Cureton

Watch that testimony

Figurativeness got real during District Attorney Jon Alexander’s testimony at his State Bar trial in San Francisco earlier this week.

State Bar Prosecutor Donald Steedman was questioning Alexander about his statement that he felt like a “deer in headlights” when he said a woman barged into his office to speak about a case he was prosecuting.

In an account given later, Alexander said Steedman proceeded to ask him about the last time he was driving at night and encountered a deer in front of him.

Alexander said he tried explaining, “It’s kind of a cliche characterization.”

According to the DA, that didn’t suffice, because Steedman then asked him how many seconds a deer is transfixed after being hit with headlights.

“You’re asking me how many seconds a deer is immobilized?” Alexander said he answered. “I’m not an expert in deer physiology.”

Steedman quipped back, saying Alexander seemed to profess he was, the DA recounted.

Let that be a lesson: Stick to literal statements when on trial at the State Bar.

Semantics.

— Anthony Skeens

Grandma’s little helper

Spending dozens of hours over the past two years in the Sheriff’s Office lobby poring over calls made to dispatch, one frequently overhears conversations of visitors who are often waiting to see inmates: Who owes who money. Who’s got a beef with each other. How crazy someone’s night was. A tear-filled exchange with a significant other and child before the father turns himself into custody. 

Then there’s this:

A grandmother walked into the lobby with her granddaugher to schedule a visit with an inmate. While waiting for a correctional officer to help her, she looked down at the child, who was maybe 3½ feet tall.

“I hope I don’t smell like pot,” the grandmother said.

“I don’t have perfume,” the child replied.

Just another day in the lobby.

— Anthony Skeens

Mascot saga continues

Within the next two weeks, Del Norte High School students will be asked to choose one of four options for a mascot icon.

Student senators will send out a survey asking the student body to chose among icons depicting a Trojan/Spartan, a knight, a Viking or a spear, according to student body vice president Eileen Rivera. 

She told the School Board members Thursday that student senators voted to support keeping the Warrior name and the school colors of blue and gold. The senators also voted against pursuing an animal mascot, Rivera said.

While students make their icon wishes known, Principal Coleen Parker will put together a similar survey for the community, according to district Superintendent Don Olson. 

The school has been without a icon since June 1998, when officials decided to keep the Warrior name but drop the Indian head icon that depicted a chief with full headdress.

The mascot issue returned to the spotlight over the summer when a parent complained about equipment bags Del Norte Youth Football issued to its players. The bags depicted an Indian brave icon in blue and gold contrast. 

Del Norte Youth Football officials reclaimed the bags following the complaint. A private citizen then purchased the bags and gave them back to the players.

— Jessica Cejnar

Our sheriff on 3 strikes

During a Del Norte Tea Party forum on propositions this week,  Sheriff Dean Wilson guided the crowd through the local chapter’s decision to oppose Proposition 36, which would change California’s three strikes law.

Passage would mean that “Some criminal offenders with two prior serious or violent felony convictions who commit certain nonserious, non-violent felonies would be sentenced to shorter terms in state prison,” according to the nonpartisan state Legislative Analyst’s Office.

This means that the anecdotal examples of life sentences for a stolen piece of pizza or pair of socks would no longer be applicable.

“If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it in my opinion,” Wilson said, adding that out of the 138,000 inmates in California prisons, 9,000 are there for three strikes. “That’s it,” he said.  

Wilson said the law is used sparingly, and “the horror stories of someone going off with three strikes for committing a minor offense is not the rule.”

But it would affect 3,000 convicted felons, who would be given the opportunity to petition for a new, reduced sentence if their third strike was for a non-violent crime.

The measure is expected to save $70 million a year and reduce prison overcrowding if it passes, according to the Analyst’s Office.

— Adam Spencer


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