In a moment of post-retirement candor earlier this year, former judge Robert Weir compared it to a “jihad.” The animosity among some of the high-profile players in the Del Norte legal community certainly isn’t abating in the spirit of the holiday season.
I won’t go into a blow-by-blow account of the professional and personal battles involving various local lawyers over the past few years, including the current district attorney and his predecessor as well as some former deputy prosecutors. But since the latest missile was launched in the form of a letter to the editor, I will address that.
Its author, attorney Karen Olson, questioned why the Triplicate publishes occasional Coastal Voices written by DA Jon Alexander. She called them “drivel” and “boring twaddle, spewed from a charlatan.”
Several people have asked me if the letter violated the newspaper’s prohibition on “personal attacks on private citizens.” It didn’t, because Alexander is not a private citizen. In fact, he’s about as public a figure as Del Norte has to offer short of a day when Cody Hoffman is catching five touchdown passes for Brigham Young University.
If local folks want to sign their names to attacks on public figures we generally print anything that stops short of libelous or profane. Consider the letters that fly back and forth every election season.
Then there’s Olson’s contention that Alexander’s writings are self-serving and not deserving of the space they are given on the Triplicate opinion page. Let’s take a look at some of the topics he’s addressed:
• Last month he submitted the text of a speech he delivered at the annual Meth Summit and we printed excerpts in which he contended that the damage from even a super-storm pales in comparison to that inflicted by meth.
• In September he eulogized well-loved bailiff Harold Esparza.
• In July he submitted the text of his speech at a town hall on proposed hospital “regionalization” in which he detailed the legal community’s particular concerns regarding possible downsizing of Sutter Coast. Again, excerpts were printed.
• In May he lamented the state Bar’s looming charges against him and contended they were being pressed even though he had already adequately responded to them.
• In April he wrote one of his catch-all narratives about a day in Del Norte, among other things paying tribute to the late Eric Epperson.
And so forth. Over the years, the attorney-turned-scribe has lamented the scourges of cancer and terrorism. He’s waxed poetic about the spirit of Del Norte’s people, liberally sprinkling in song lyrics. He’s detailed a controversial decision not to refile assault charges after a long trial produced a hung jury. In celebrating his own journey from meth addict to his election as district attorney, he’s evoked the Grateful Dead line about “what a long strange trip it’s been.”
Looking back, they constitute quite a body of work. Self-serving? Maybe. Occasionally melodramatic? Definitely. Boring? Absolutely not.
Sometimes Alexander writes to explain and defend himself. More often he presumes to celebrate what he perceives as the inner goodness of the place he lives. In a way, his writings mirror his appearances around Del Norte. From Chamber of Commerce mixers to fundraisers big and small, the guy is everywhere, the most public of our public officials.
Dismissing him as a politician working the crowd could be construed as eyes-wide-open analysis or ice-cold cynicism.
I’ll leave that to others to decide, but the opinion page will stay open to all comers, including the district attorney.