Editor's note: Here are excerpts from the speech by Del Norte County District Attorney Jon Alexander after he took the oath of office Monday.
To steal one from Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead, "What a long strange trip it's been."
One thing you learn along the way and that's you don't get to this point, or even through each day without a little help from other folks. I look around this room, and have to say there are not enough words or time to honor every person in this room and the kindnesses you have given me since my arrival here six years ago to be with my mother in her last years ...
I - we - have much work before us. I'd like to say just a brief word
about the direction of my administration and its priorities. There is a
concept in law that is precious and central to our constitutional system
of government and it is called "due process." Simply, what that means
is, "Notice and an opportunity to be heard." The opportunity to be
fairly and timely heard exists within these halls of justice and
emanates from the bench behind me. Notice exists simply in the knowledge
of the manner folks are expected to conduct themselves, treat each
other and the consequences of their failure to do so.
And some of the things that I serve notice of, here and now, are
andbull; We hold our senior citizens and elders as our most cherished
treasures. They got this country through the Depression and World War
II. They gave their sons and daughters to Viet Nam and Korea. Mr.
Brokaw was correct when he called them "The Greatest Generation." If you
harm or injure, swindle or steal from them, you may expect harshness in
andbull; Immigration is a heated issue on our national landscape this day. I
believe the majority of undocumented persons in this country, like the
men and women who pick your lilly bulbs, scrape your plates and clean
your homes, are hard working, they pay taxes and they are law abiding
I will not use your tax money for "sweeps," but if you are
undocumented and you do break the law, I will turn you over to the
immigration authorities. Living in America is a blessing, if you
disrespect that gift, you forfeit it.
andbull; The homeless: It is not a sin to be poor and no one should be
punished for it. Along with the many other concerned citizens, I will do
everything in my power to help see a much needed shelter be built and
services provided. But that said, the harassment of persons outside our
businesses will not be tolerated. The simple economics of business in
2011 small town America will not allow it and neither will I.
andbull; Pelican Bay: Recent years have seen a drastic decrease in the
prosecution of cases arising out of Pelican Bay. Under my
administration, that trend, especially as it regards assaults upon
staff, will be reversed. Day and night, the men and women at Pelican Bay
protect you and I from California's "worst of the worst." Further,
given the immeasurable contributions they bring to the quality of this
county's collective life, especially for our youth programs, those brave
officers deserve no less protection. From gassings to armed attacks
upon staff, these will be dealt with severely, either by incarceration
or if you're a lifer with the misconception that you have nothing to
lose - my new Pelican Bay deputy, Lisa Specchio - is going after your
commissary and trust funds.
Those are but a few of the issues we will be addressing in the
criminal justice arena. But I want to conclude with notice to the people
involved in the biggest continuing threat to the safety and quality of
life in Del Norte County ...
There is a darkness that has descended upon this town ... I've seen
it in the dead eyes of too many of our citizens, our teenagers and worst
of all, infants born contaminated because their mothers could not
resist it's horrendous seduction. It is a weapon of mass destruction,
the likes of which our enemies overseas in their wildest dreams could
not create. It is a darkness and an evil whose malignancy has infected
our town and spread it poison upon our streets, our businesses, our
homes, our school yards, our reservations and our maternity wards. And
its name is methamphetamine.
As a public defender and dependency attorney, for the past three
years, I can tell you that fully 80 percent of the felonies committed in
this county and three-fourths of the children removed from homes
involve crystal meth. From the cities to the small towns, the oceans to
the plains, it is a national epidemic and it's cancer has descended upon
Del Norte County.
I spoke with my colleague, Chief of Probation Tom Crowell, two nights
ago and we agreed that one of the biggest threats was the sheer
prevalence of this poison in our midst has created an acceptance,
bordering on apathy. Most of you know my story. I've seen the slow death
of methamphetamine. I know the devastation and destruction of the heart
and soul it brings. And because it was personal to me, I refuse to let
it become personal to you and your families. At least not without a
And so, my notice - if you are beset by the chains of addiction, you
will find no more sympathetic or understanding hand than the one my
office extends to you. That hand comes not just from compassion, but
from the knowledge that if you are in recovery, you are not harming this
community, clogging our courts and decimating our tax dollars.
But also know this, if you steal or do damage to your family, your
neighbors or our businesses, we will come for you and you'll do hard
time in addition to the program we offer.
If you do violence to us and disturb our peace, we will come for you.
If you harm your children or contaminate them with your poison, you
can count on seeing more than a CPS worker, because we will come for
And if you sell your poison on the streets of our neighborhoods, our
reservations or, God forbid, our schoolyards, know this and know it
well, we will come for you and we will grab you up and we will show you
what harm is.
Ernest Hemingway once said that anything good is worth fighting for.
My dying mother brought me to this place where good and decent people
gave me a new life and this moment today. On behalf of my deputies, my
staff and me, we have tolerated you for the last time and tomorrow the
battle is joined and that fight begins. And no matter what the cost or
duration, your time in this county is numbered and we will prevail.
Know this, we will prevail.