A Century of Fire Suppression Is Why California Is in Flames

https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2017/12/a-century-of-fire-suppression-is-why-california-is-in-flames/

A Century of Fire Suppression Is Why California Is in Flames

“The wake-up call has already happened.”

December 12, 2017

The acrid smell of charred wood still permeates the air as Sasha Berleman, a fire ecologist, and I walk along a dirt path up through the middle of a canyon in the Bouverie nature preserve in Sonoma Valley. On the left side, the earth is black as tar, and scorch marks as tall as a person scar the trunks of the mature oak trees scattered throughout the field. But on the right side, the ground is tan and brown, and you have to look hard at the still-green oaks to see any evidence of the fire that raged through here just a few weeks before. It’s no mystery to Berleman why the fire behaved so differently on the two sides of the trail at Audubon Canyon Ranch’s Bouverie Preserve. When flames hit the field on the left of the path, they met a dense wall of thigh-high grass that hadn’t been mowed, grazed or burned for 20 years. The flames must have been 5 or 6 feet tall. On the right side, however, Berleman had set a prescribed burn just this spring. So when the October wildfire hit, patches of fire blazed, but with so little fuel, the flames remained only inches high.

For more than a century, people have been snuffing out fire across the West. As a result, forests, grasslands and shrub lands like those in the Bouverie reserve are overgrown. That means that, when fire escapes suppression, it’s more destructive. It kills more trees, torches more homes and sends far more carbon into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change.

The devastating fires that hit Bouverie and a large swath of Northern California’s wine country in October killed 42 people and destroyed nearly 7,000 buildings. In California’s Sierra Nevada in recent years, megafires have burned at much greater severity than those forests ever saw in the past, killing trees across large landscapes and unleashing enormous quantities of carbon. The remedy, Berleman and many other scientists say, is to reintroduce fire to the landscape by allowing more natural fires to burn and setting controlled burns when weather conditions minimize the risk of a catastrophic blaze.

“We have 100 years of fire suppression that has led to this huge accumulation of fuel loads, just dead and downed debris from trees and plant material in our forests, and in our woodlands,” says Berleman. “As a result of that, our forests and woodlands are not healthy, and we’re getting more catastrophic fire behavior than we would otherwise.”

Addressing the problem will require a revolution in land management and in people’s relationship with fire — and there are signs both may be beginning.

As a child in Southern California, Berleman was deeply afraid of wildfire. But at community college, she learned that Native Americans used fire for thousands of years to manage forests and grasslands and protect their villages. Tribes regularly burned California’s oak woodlands, for instance, to remove underbrush and fight pests. It helped them spot prey more easily, keep weevils out of the acorns they gathered for food, and safeguard their homes from wildfire. In 2009, Berleman transferred to the University of California, Berkeley to study fire ecology. There, she worked on her first prescribed burn. “I instantly fell in love with the ability to use fire in a positive way to accomplish objectives,” she says. She trained as a firefighter so she could put fire to use as a land-management tool.

Two years ago, while she was finishing her doctoral dissertation, she began working part-time at Bouverie. Last fall, she presented her boss with suggestions for using fire to restore overgrown landscapes, both at Bouverie and across the North Bay Area region. He approved, and Berleman, 28, started as a full-time fire ecologist in January, set her first burn in May and began organizing a taskforce to conduct burns and train local crews.

She knew how fire-prone the region is. Still, the big blazes in October caught her by surprise. “I thought I had more time to get work done,” she says.

High winds played a big role in spreading the California wine country’s deadly fires. But Berleman and other fire ecologists believe overgrown grasslands, forests and woodlands contributed as well. “I’m more certain than ever that there’s a lot we can do between now and the next time this happens to make it so that the negative consequences to people are nowhere near as dramatic.”

When fire hits overgrown wildlands, it burns hotter and is much more likely to kill stands of trees and threaten property and people’s lives.

But it also unleashes the carbon held by trees, other plants and soil. Forests store enormous amounts of carbon—more than double the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere—and continuously soak up more, blunting the impact of all the greenhouse gases released by burning fossil fuels in power plants and cars. In recent decades, the size of fires, their intensity and the length of the fire season have all grown dramatically. The more destructive a fire, the more carbon it releases. In fact, largely because of fires, California’s forests emitted more carbon than they soaked up between 2001 and 2010, according to a 2015 analysis by National Park Service and UC Berkeley scientists. “After 100-plus years of fire suppression in forests, we’re seeing a lot more tree-killing wildfire,” says Matthew Hurteau, University of New Mexico fire ecologist and associate professor. “That has substantial implications for the carbon put back into the atmosphere.”

Further complicating the picture is climate change—the major factor behind the longer fire seasons and bigger fires. This creates a feedback loop, where megafires exacerbate climate change, which then encourages even bigger wildfires. One study found that from 1984 to 2015, climate change doubled the area burned by wildfires across the West, compared to what would have burned without climate change. As the globe keeps warming, scientists expect forests to continue getting warmer, drier and more flammable. Unless people reduce greenhouse gas emissions, climate change will significantly increase the frequency of wildfires. One study projected that if fossil fuels remain the dominant source of global energy and greenhouse gas emissions keep rising, by 2085 the acreage burned by fire in California will increase one-third to three-fourths. Elsewhere in the West, the size and frequency of fire is expected to increase even more dramatically. Until recently, intense fires were rare in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. But one study predicted that with climate change, fire likely would become so common and widespread there that by the middle of this century, the region’s forests as we know them will vanish, replaced by other types of vegetation that may store far less carbon.

In California’s Sierra Nevada, the combustible combination of climate change and overgrown forests already is transforming landscapes and unleashing massive amounts of carbon.

A four-hour drive east of wine country, gray trunks of dead incense cedar and white fir cover the steep slopes of the Eldorado National Forest. Deep into a canyon and up to a ridge in the distance, the trees are so close together that their branches touch. UC Berkeley fire ecologist Brandon Collins brought me here to show me the consequence of decades of fire suppression combined with climate change. This forest would usually burn nine times over the course of 100 years, but no fire had blazed here since at least 1908. “Without fire, you’re going to have these dense stands no matter what,” Collins says.

In 2014, the King Fire hit this unnaturally overgrown forest, leaping into the canopy and racing across a vast landscape. Limited patches of high-intensity fire would be natural in these forests. But in 47 percent of the 97,717 acres burned in the King Fire, the blaze was so hot that it killed nearly all of the trees. This included 14 areas where rare California spotted owls were known to nest. Before people started suppressing fires, this kind of all-consuming blaze did not happen in this type of forest, according to tree-ring studies. “We have seen no evidence you could ever have gotten a mortality patch this big,” Collins says.

The amount of carbon sent to the atmosphere from such an enormous fire is staggering. “It’s ugly,” says Collins. “It’s not only a huge initial loss just from the direct emissions, but it’s slow emission over time as these trees break and then fall to the ground and the decomposition process really gets underway. We’re looking at 30 years or 40 years of pure emissions coming from this area with very little on the uptake side,” Collins says.

Just the initial blaze released 5.2 million metric tons, roughly as much greenhouse gas emissions as 1.1 million passenger cars emit in a year, according to an estimate by Forest Service ecologist Leland Tarnay. It’s too soon to analyze the fire’s total carbon footprint.

It could take a long time for this landscape to start packing on carbon again. Though some trees’ cones require fire to reseed, these particular types of conifers won’t grow back because the fire burned their seeds. The silver lining is the native oaks, which are fire resilient and can resprout from roots or stumps, even after a trunk is killed by fire. Already, their seedlings are emerging from the sea of dead trunks.

Nearby, some strips of trees are still green. Their trunks are also more broadly spaced. In these areas, the Forest Service had set prescribed burns or thinned the forests by logging some trees. Forest Service surveys show the King Fire burned much less intensely in these areas. Flames were lower, staying on the forest floor rather than surging into the canopy of the trees. Firefighters used these areas to slow and stop the fire. More trees survived.

Just a few minutes’ drive from where the King Fire raged, Collins shows me where he and other scientists have been studying how people can help restore forests to more natural conditions. Thanks to firefighters’ efforts, UC Berkeley’s Blodgett Research Forest narrowly escaped the King Fire. Blodgett was clear-cut in the early 1900s, before the university took it over. After 100 years, it’s grown into a lush forest of incense cedar, ponderosa pine, white fir and oak trees.

The first patch of forest Collins shows me is the control forest, from which fire has long been banned. The understory is so thick with small trees and shrubs that it’s difficult to walk; we have to step over tangles of dead trees and branches. If a fire were to strike this area, it would easily climb from the ground to the lower branches and up into the canopy. “And then it can really spread,” Collins adds.

In the next patch of forest we visit, loggers cut down and sold some of the medium-sized trees in 2002. Then they shredded the small trees and underbrush using a big machine called a masticator, and spread the remnants on the forest floor. Now, the trees are widely spaced; sunlight shines through the canopy. The High Sierras are visible in the distance. If a fire were to come through here, Collins says, it likely would stay on the ground, and wouldn’t harm the trees or emit much carbon.

In another plot, crews set prescribed burns in 2002 and 2009. Scorch marks blacken the thick bark of some trees, but they’re still healthy. The forest is open, but more variable than the thinned forest. In one patch of tall ponderosa pines, the fire blazed hotter than in the rest of the forest. Several big trees were killed, leaving the kind of snags that woodpeckers love. This plot would also be likely to do well in a fire, Collins says.

A fourth plot shows some of the pitfalls of combining thinning and burning. Crews cut down some trees, shredded the noncommercial wood and scattered it on the forest floor. Shortly afterwards, they burned the forest. The fire burned so hot from all the wood on the ground that the remaining trees were injured. They haven’t grown or soaked up much carbon since.

Overall, the experiments at Blodgett suggest that prescribed burns and thinning can have long-term carbon benefits. But in the short term, carbon emissions will increase. Neither the burned nor the thinned plot has caught up with the carbon stored in the forest that was left alone. But with less competition, the trees are growing faster in the thinned and burned plots, and Collins predicts that eventually they will store more carbon than the denser stand.

Scientists have seen a similar pattern in another experimental forest in the Sierra Nevada—Teakettle, an old-growth forest with giant sugar pines. As in Blodgett, the forests initially stored less carbon after being burned or thinned. But the forests at Teakettle recovered their carbon stocks more quickly than Blodgett did, in about seven years. “If you restore forests, you do knock down the total amount of carbon, but you prevent very large tree-killing fires. Over time, the carbon stored in the forest is much more stable because you’ve taken steps to prevent big hot fires from occurring,” says Hurteau.

The old-growth trees in Teakettle soaked up carbon faster than Blodgett’s younger trees. But in both types of forests, carbon should accumulate faster in fewer big trees. And the thinned and fire-opened stands make big trees healthier by reducing competition for water and nutrients. That improves their odds in both fire and drought. Big trees are generally more fire resistant, meaning they’re more likely to survive a fire and continue to soak up carbon afterward. “If we want to maintain this ecosystem service of removing carbon from the atmosphere that trees provide, we need to make investments in doing what we can to protect the big trees, because they’re doing a disproportionate amount of the work,” says Hurteau.

A single tree that is 6 feet in diameter, like one of the big sugar pines in Teakettle, holds as much carbon as 60 small trees, 8 to 10 inches in diameter, says Malcolm North, a leading Forest Service fire ecologist and Hurteau’s colleague and former teacher. That’s a much more reliable way to store carbon. “The carbon in the big trees is a secure investment like gold,” North said, whereas the carbon stored in overgrown forests is more like “junk bonds.”

Despite the science, however, forest managers continue to snuff out most fires. For the decade ending 2008, the most recent data collected, only 0.4 percent of ignitions were allowed to burn as managed wildfires, North, Collins and other fire ecologists wrote in 2015 in the journal Science. “Changing climate and decades of fuel accumulation make efforts to suppress every fire dangerous, expensive, and ill-advised,” they wrote.

North was reprimanded for the article and forbidden to talk with the media for a year. But he’s speaking out again, because the dire consequences of overgrown forests are becoming so clear.

North says thinning is not a solution for much of the Sierra Nevada. Only 28 percent of the landscape can be mechanically thinned, he calculated; the rest is too steep or remote. “You cannot think your way out of the problem,” he says. “You’ve got to use fire.”

Official Forest Service policy has acknowledged this. The 2014 interagency National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy calls for expanding the use of prescribed burns and letting more wildfires burn. “It’s just not being followed; that’s the real problem,” North says. “Everyone knows what we’ve got to do. But it’s not being done.”

Sasha Berlemen encountered that stubborn resistance to letting fires burn this summer, when she was on a Forest Service hotshot crew. She fought fires in Plumas, Six Rivers, Modoc and Klamath national forests. Fire managers were aggressive, often sending her crew to the fire’s edge to try to prevent it from spreading. That contradicted what she learned in her fire ecology classes about letting wildfires burn larger areas. “There’s this disconnect that I didn’t know about until summer — between what everyone is saying in academia and what’s actually happening on the ground,” she says.

Some forest managers have begun to accept more fire, however, as have national parks. The 2013 Rim Fire, the biggest fire in Sierra Nevada history, burned at lower intensity in parts of Yosemite and Sequoia national parks than it did in national forests, killing fewer trees and producing less air pollution. The parks had previously allowed wildfires to burn when weather conditions, such as light winds, minimized risks.

The Forest Service has been more reluctant to let natural fires burn, in part because of checkerboard land ownership and because houses have been built in many forests on private property inholdings. “Ecological benefits don’t have a huge voice,” Collin says. “No one will sue for not letting fire burn. If you let a fire burn and something bad happens, someone will sue you.”

Air-quality regulations play a role, too. Both North and Collins tried for weeks to schedule burns this fall. Air quality concerns and a lack of available personnel — the wine country fires were still raging — delayed their burns. Both finally were able to burn at the end of October. “The Forest Service is cursed with lands with houses in middle of them, wildland-urban interface where people don’t want to breathe smoke,” North says. “Almost everything works against trying to work with fire. The only way it’s going to change is to get public support.”

Craig Thomas, conservation director of Sierra Forest Legacy, has been calling for more natural and prescribed fire in the Sierra for two decades. He believes that after the Rim, Rough and King fires, the public and policymakers better understand the threat of unnaturally overgrown forests. “They jarred California society in a big way,” Thomas says. “This disaster is a human creation; climate change is making it even tougher.”

In 2015, the Sierra Forest Legacy, the Forest Service, CAL FIRE, the state fire agency, and other agencies and groups signed an agreement to use more fire in wildlands management and increase training for fire managers and crews. Since then, the Forest Service has increased the total acreage where it has allowed natural fires to burn from an annual average of about 10,000 acres to 247,000 in 2016 and 130,000 this year. “That was a big jump,” says Rob Griffith, assistant director of the Forest Service Pacific Southwest region’s fire and aviation program.

Prescribed burns are up, too, from 20,000 acres on average before the agreement to about double that in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Some 96,000 acres of prescribed burns are scheduled for the next fiscal year, Griffith adds.

California’s commitment to tackling climate change is giving extra oomph to efforts to bring back fire. For instance, funding for the research at Teakettle and Blodgett comes from revenue from the state’s cap-and-trade program. The state auctions allowances, which big polluters buy to receive the right to pollute. California doesn’t want the progress it’s making from switching to electric vehicles and renewable energy to be nullified by giant pulses of carbon released by wildfires.

Still, Berleman thinks it will take a revolution to get people to overcome their primal fear of fire. She knows how hard it is. She grew up in Temecula, an inland city between Los Angeles and San Diego, in a valley surrounded by chaparral-covered hills that burned nearly every year. When she was 4, she stood in her yard and caught ash in her hand and watched ash cover her lawn like snow. “I was afraid of fire,” she says. “I remember having night terrors that I’d have to try to save my family from wildfire.”

But her view has changed since then, and she hopes others can change their minds, too. She thinks the October fires will be a catalyst for policymakers and the public to accept that fire is the best protection against megafires and all the carbon they emit. They already have emboldened her to move quickly than she had planned to introduce fire to parts of the North Bay Area that escaped the October fires.

“Now that this has happened, we’ve decided the wake-up call has already happened,” she says. “We need to scale up if we’re going to get though this; it’s going to take all hands and all lands.”

She now plans to apply fire in five counties instead of just two. And instead of burning just grasslands, which produce far less smoke, she’ll burn forests and woodlands as well. If people push back, she knows what she’ll say: “By being afraid, we’re making our problem worse. There’s another option. That fear can actually inform a positive movement; you can take a fear of fire and decide, ‘OK, we don’t want megafires; we’re afraid of them.’ Let’s take action instead. Fire could be our favorite tool on our landscape, and we could have more beautiful and healthy landscapes. And people wouldn’t have to live in as much fear.”

October 31, 2019. Tags: , , , , . Environmentalism. 1 comment.

A California bank robber could get extra time in prison because social justice warriors said his mask was offensive

In Santa Monica, California, a bank robber could get extra time in prison because social justice warriors said his mask was offensive.

Here’s a still from the security footage which shows the mask in question: (Source)

I support the maximum prison time for anyone who robs a bank.

But I don’t think anyone should ever go to prison for doing something that some people consider to be offensive.

In this case, the proposed extra time for the robber is because the mask that he wore was a form of “cultural appropriation” which “violated the rights of indigenous peoples.”

The voters and politicians of California are insane.

September 17, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Political correctness, Racism, Social justice warriors. 2 comments.

California lawmakers want to ban those little shampoo bottles you get in hotels

https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/14/us/california-hotel-plastic-bottles/index.html

California lawmakers want to ban those little shampoo bottles you get in hotels

April 14, 2019

Those little shampoo bottles offered in hotel bathrooms, used once or twice and then usually tossed in the trash, could soon be a thing of the past in California.

State lawmakers are considering a bill that would ban hotels from providing guests with small plastic bottles for soap, shampoo and conditioner. The proposed law, which would go into effect in 2023, would instead encourage hotels to provide the products in bulk dispensers to reduce plastic waste.
Assembly Member Ash Kalra of San Jose co-authored the bill, known as AB 1162, which would apply to all lodging establishments. Kalra said that small plastic bottles under 12 ounces represent a sizable amount of waste and that his bill would reduce the problem.

“By not offering small bottles of personal care products, hotels, motels, and other lodging establishments can promote a more sustainable business and potentially reduce operating costs,” he said as part of an analysis on the bill. “AB 1162 will take meaningful action to curb single-use plastic consumption in the lodging industry and increase consumer awareness.”

The bill was introduced in February and is working its way through committees. Santa Cruz County passed a similar law that banned small toiletry bottles in hotels last year, CNN affiliate KSBW reported.

The legislation comes amid a growing push to phase out single-use plastics like straws and bags. Critics say these items take decades or more to decompose and end up polluting landfills and bodies of water.

California has been at the forefront of bans on single-use plastics and became the first state to ban plastic bags in 2014. New York state also moved to do the same last month.

Even before this legislation, hotels have begun to make the shift toward bulk dispensers, which they say are less wasteful and cheaper.

Marriott International announced last April that it would replace the individual soap, shampoo and conditioner bottles with bulk dispensers in its showers. The program is expected to save an average of 250 pounds of plastic per year for a 140-room hotel — about 23,000 plastic bottles, Marriott told Lodging Magazine.

“This is a win-win from a sustainability perspective, operational perspective, and financial perspective,” Denise Naguib, vice president of sustainability for Marriott, told the magazine.

April 28, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , . Environmentalism. Leave a comment.

California Women’s March cancels upcoming event for being “overwhelmingly white”

The California chapter of the Women’s March has canceled an event that had been scheduled for next month, because it would have been “overwhelmingly white.”

The group’s official statement on the cancellation says (the bolding is mine):

“The local organizers are continuing to meet and discuss how to broaden representation in the organizing committee to create an event that represents and supports peoples who live here in Humboldt. Up to this point, the participants have been overwhelmingly white, lacking representation from several perspectives in our community… Instead of pushing forward with crucial voices absent, the organizing team will take time for more outreach. Our goal is that planning will continue and we will be successful in creating an event that will build power and community engagement through connection between women that seek to improve the lives of all in our community.”

 

December 28, 2018. Tags: , , , , , , . Racism, Sexism. 2 comments.

In California, bottle recycling is mandatory, except when it’s illegal

California requires people to recycle their empty bottles.

However, this recent news article from the Merced Sun-Star says that three people have been charged with “recycling fraud” in California, because the bottles they recycled were “smuggled” into California from Arizona. The bottles from both states are physically identical to each other, but the price paid for the bottles is higher in California than in Arizona.

In the private sector, this kind of behavior is completely legal, and it’s called “arbitrage.” This is what wikipedia says about it:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arbitrage

Arbitrage

In economics and finance, arbitrage is the practice of taking advantage of a price difference between two or more markets: striking a combination of matching deals that capitalize upon the imbalance, the profit being the difference between the market prices.

This video shows an example of legal arbitrage. In the video, a guy goes to a bunch of Wal-Marts, buys up every copy of Monopoly for Millennials for $19.82 each, and sells them online for three times that price:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FknkqT5tHK8

What that guy in the video did is 100% legal.

But for some strange reason, the people who sold bottles from Arizona in California were breaking the law.

Even though the bottles that they sold were real bottles, they were charged with “fraud.”

And even though the bottles from Arizona were physically identical to the bottles from California, they were charged with “smuggling.”

It’s completely ridiculous that this is illegal.

The people who bought Monopoly for Millennials from that guy in the video don’t care where it came from. As long they get what they paid for, they are happy.

But for some weird reason, politicians seem to think that there is some inherent difference between bottles from California and bottles from Arizona.

In the real world, the only difference is the price. There is no physical difference between the bottles.

If recycling bottles was truly a good idea, then California would be happy to recycle bottles from Arizona, just like the customers who bought Monopoly for Millennials from that guy in the video were happy to buy what they bought. If the item in question is truly valuable, then the buyer won’t care where it came from.

Therefore, for California to mandate bottle recycling in some cases, while outlawing it in other cases –  even though the bottles involved in both cases are physically identical to each other – is absurd.

Here’s a clip from “The Bottle Deposit” from season 7 of Seinfeld, where Kramer and Newman try to make money by recycling bottles from New York in Michigan:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGJZcHgqX1g

December 5, 2018. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Economics, Environmentalism. 1 comment.

Democratic fascist Ian Calderon wants to give six months in jail to any California restaurant employee who gives a straw to a customer without being asked

Ian Calderon, the Democratic majority leader in California’s lower house, has introduced a bill that would give six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 to any California restaurant employee who gives a straw to a customer without being asked.

After being contacted by the media, a spokesperson for Calderon said they intend to remove the fine (although, apparently, they have not done so as of the time of publication of this article). Also, apparently, the six month jail term will remain.

 

http://reason.com/blog/2018/01/25/california-bill-would-criminalize-restau

January 25, 2018

Ian Calderon wants restaurateurs to think long and hard before giving you a straw.

Calderon, the Democratic majority leader in California’s lower house, has introduced a bill to stop sit-down restaurants from offering customers straws with their beverages unless they specifically request one. Under Calderon’s law, a waiter who serves a drink with an unrequested straw in it would face up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Update: Reason spoke with Voleck Taing, a senior assistant to Assemblyman Calderon, who said they intend to amend the bill to remove the fines.

January 28, 2018. Tags: , , , . Environmentalism, Police state. Leave a comment.

Knowingly exposing others to HIV will no longer be a felony in California

http://www.latimes.com/politics/essential/la-pol-ca-essential-politics-updates-gov-brown-downgrades-from-felony-to-1507331544-htmlstory.html

Knowingly exposing others to HIV will no longer be a felony in California

October 6, 2017

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Friday that lowers from a felony to a misdemeanor the crime of knowingly exposing a sexual partner to HIV without disclosing the infection.
(more…)

October 7, 2017. Tags: , , , , . Politics. Leave a comment.

San Francisco forces taxpayers to give $190,000 to drunk driving, illegal alien, because the city reported him to immigration officials

http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2017/06/28/san-francisco-pay-undocumented-immigrant-sanctuary-policy/

San Francisco To Pay Undocumented Immigrant $190K For Violating Sanctuary Policy

June 28, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — San Francisco taxpayers could soon pay $190,000 in a lawsuit settlement with an undocumented immigrant who claimed he was reported to federal immigration authorities in violation of the city’s sanctuary city ordinance, the City Attorney’s office confirms to KPIX5.

The settlement is expected to be confirmed by San Francisco supervisors in future hearings.

Pedro Figueroa-Zarceno walked into the police station on December 2, 2015 to recover his stolen car.

When he left the station, he was immediately taken into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

A document from federal immigration authorities released by his attorneys indicates that a San Francisco police officer directly contacted ICE and told them where to find Figueroa-Zarceno, the man’s attorneys and representatives said Wednesday.

The apparent incident, which led to the two-month detention of Figueroa-Zarceno, could be a violation of Sanctuary City policies placing limits on local law enforcement’s ability to cooperate with immigration officials, according to his attorneys.

Figueroa-Zarceno, a native of El Salvador with a fiancee who is a U.S. citizen and an eight-year-old daughter, was released Wednesday.

Speaking through an interpreter, Figueroa-Zarceno said that once he was at the station he was detained and handcuffed, and told that police needed to ask him questions. No questions were asked, but after a few minutes he was released out a side door, where an ICE agent was waiting outside to detain him.

“I could hear my daughter screaming outside the van, Dad! Dad!” he said. “I could hear her telling them not to take her dad.”

The city approved a Sanctuary City policy in 1989 prohibiting city officials from enforcing immigration laws in most cases as a way to encourage immigrant communities to trust and cooperate with police.

A second 2013 ordinance, Due Process for All, prohibits San Francisco law enforcement from detaining people on behalf of immigration authorities for deportation unless they are wanted for a serious crime.

Figueroa-Zarceno’s attorneys said the ICE document released Friday indicates that the sheriff’s department contacted ICE on Dec. 2 stating that a “final order fugitive” had been contacted by San Francisco police.

At the same time, the document states, a San Francisco police officer contacted the ICE duty officer directly and told him Figueroa-Zarceno was at the police station. He was taken into custody by ICE around half an hour later.

ICE officials confirmed the detention but would not comment on the documents released Friday.

Zachary Nightingale, Figueroa-Zarceno’s attorney, said the document shows that while he served two days for a DUI in 2012, there were no criminal warrants for Figueroa-Zarceno in the system, only a civil deportation order dating back to 2005.

A judge has since reopened Figueroa-Zarceno’s immigration case after finding that the initial order was given without proper notification, and a new hearing is now scheduled for 2019, Nightingale said.

Eileen Hirst, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s department, said a warrant for Figueroa-Zarceno was found in a national criminal database when police ran his name through the system, and the sheriff’s department called ICE to confirm that warrant, as is routinely done with all warrants.

The department did not provide his location to immigration authorities during that call, she said.

Police Sgt. Michael Andraychak said in a statement Friday that then-Police Chief Greg Suhr had informed Mayor Ed Lee that Figueroa-Zarceno “never should have been taken into custody by ICE agents after being released from Southern Police Station.”

“It is the policy of the San Francisco Police Department to foster trust and cooperation with all people of the City and to encourage them to communicate with SFPD officers without fear of inquiry regarding their immigration status,” the statement said.

The department is investigating and if any violations of policies and procedures are found, “there will be serious consequences,” the statement said.

John Coté, a spokesman for the Office of San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said, “San Francisco has strong policies in place to encourage victims and witnesses to report crimes without fear of being deported, which include our sanctuary ordinance. These policies are designed to foster respect and trust between law enforcement and residents to ensure our communities are safe. The City, including the Police Department, remain committed to them.”

Coté said, “This proposed settlement is a fair resolution for all of the parties involved.”

Mayor Lee said he’d spoken with officials at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security about the case last week, and is “pleased” that Figueroa-Zarceno has been released.

Supervisor John Avalos said the incident was an illustration of how collaboration with immigration authorities can erode the trust between the community and local law enforcement.

It also highlighted the increased “politicization” of immigration during the election season, as seen in the national response last year to the fatal shooting of Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco, allegedly by an undocumented immigrant who had been released from custody a short time earlier.

June 29, 2017. Tags: , , , , , , . Government waste, Immigration. Leave a comment.

Why are California Democrats against letting union members see how their mandatory union dues are being spent?

In California, the government uses taxpayers’ money to pay a crossing guard to work in an area where pedestrians never actually cross the street, because there is an underground tunnel for them to cross. This job is a concession to unions.

One union member wanted to see how her mandatory union dues were being spent. There was a vote, strictly across party lines, against opening up the union’s books for people to see.

What is in those book that the Democrats are so afraid of letting people see?

 

May 5, 2016. Tags: , , , , , . Government waste, Politics, Unions. 1 comment.

Why does the liberal, tolerant, and enlightened city of San Francisco arrest black women at 13 times the rate of women of other races?

Fusion.net reports:

Black women in San Francisco arrested way more often than white women, report shows

May 27, 2015

Black women represent 5.8% of the city’s female population, but accounted for 45.5% of all female arrests in 2013… For arrests related to weapons and narcotics—both felonies—black women made up 77% and 68% of all female arrests, respectively.

Black women were arrested “at a per capita rate 13.4 times higher than women of other races,” says the report.

Considering that San Francisco is said to be one of the most liberal, tolerant, and enlightened cities in the U.S., I wonder how this happened.

May 29, 2015. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , . Politics, Racism, War on drugs. 20 comments.

Even in 2015, the New York Times is still pretending that desalination does not exist

(more…)

April 6, 2015. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Environmentalism, Media bias, Overpopulation, Politics, Technology. 5 comments.

Obama voters in San Francsico area complain that Obamacare does not actually give them access to a doctor

Mountain View, California, is part of the San Francisco area, where Obama won both elections by a huge percentage. Obama voters in this area are complaining that Obamacare does not actually give them access to a doctor. KPIX, the CBS affiliate of San Francsco, reports:

Some Covered California Patients Say They Can’t See A Doctor

MOUNTAIN VIEW (KPIX 5) – While open enrollment for coverage under the Affordable Care Act is closed, many of the newly insured are finding they can’t find doctors, landing them into a state described as “medical homelessness.”

Rotacare, a free clinic for the uninsured in Mountain View, is dealing with the problem firsthand.

Mirella Nguyen works at the clinic said staffers dutifully helped uninsured clients sign up for Obamacare so they would no longer need the free clinic.

But months later, the clinic’s former patients are coming back to the clinic begging for help. “They’re coming back to us now and saying I can’t find a doctor, “said Nguyen.

Thinn Ong was thrilled to qualify for a subsidy on the health care exchange. She is paying $200 a month in premiums. But the single mother of two is asking, what for?

“Yeah, I sign it. I got it. But where’s my doctor? Who’s my doctor? I don’t know,” said a frustrated Ong.

Nguyen said the newly insured patients checked the physicians’ lists they were provided and were told they weren’t accepting new patients or they did not participate in the plan.

And Nguyen says – while the free clinic isn’t technically supposed to be treating former patents they signed up for insurance, they can’t in good faith turn them away.

Dr. Kevin Grumbach of UCSF called the phenomenon “medical homelessness,” where patients are caught adrift in a system woefully short of primary care doctors.

Those who can’t find a doctor are supposed to lodge a complaint with state regulators, who have been denying the existence of a doctor shortage for months.

Meanwhile, the sick and insured can’t get appointments.

“What good is coverage if you can’t use it?” Nguyen said.

 

April 20, 2014. Tags: , , , , , . Health care, Politics. 2 comments.

Why has California chosen water shortages over desalination?

Israel has made the choice to turn its water shortages into surpluses by building lots of desalination plants. Desalination costs less than 40 cents per cubic meter, which is less than 1/6 penny per gallon. It’s so cheap that in addition to using desalinized water for residential uses, Israel also uses it for agriculture.

Meanwhile, California has chosen to have water shortages instead of building enough desalination plants.

Why did California make this choice?

February 1, 2014. Tags: , , , , , . Technology. 4 comments.