Friday hearing for Cal Trans crew

I was in court yesterday for part of the hearing. Bail remains set at $1,000,000 each. Preliminary hearing remains set for Friday, May 18th at 10:00 in Judge Pamela Butler’s court room, although a challenge under Penal Code 170.6 seems likely to be filed by one of the five attorneys in the matter.

One evening anchor man from a local Monterey station was present, and asked to speak to Tom Worthington, Juliet Peck, or myself, but we were all too upset with the court’s refusal to consider anything the defense had to say about a bail reduction, to respond to the press.

Given the nature of these judicial proceedings, from the overbearing nature of the initial assault on the south coast, to allegations made by the DA in open court, to the court’s refusal to consider anything on behalf of the defendants, as a member of this community I feel stifled in what I can and cannot share on this or any other public forum. I just urge every one to keep an open mind until this case is concluded.

No Willow Springs Maintenance Crew means this section of the highway is no longer safe. Driving home from the North Coast today, Saturday, there was a minor slide south of Limekiln. There were quite a few rocks in the north bound lane, and a few in the south bound lane. There is no one for me to call or stop and see to let them know. This could a harbinger of things to come, not necessarily, but it could be a warning from Mother Nature.

Remember, there are many layers to most cases, this one in particular. Also, as an aside, Cal Trans is suing the estate of the dead bus driver and the tour company who employed him, for damage to a bridge out near Soledad, when the driver crashed into it, killing four French tourists, per a report in yesterday’s Pine Cone. Cal-Trans is suing for one million dollars. I have never heard of such a thing. Nice, huh?

Big Sur’s compassionate citizens

I am glad so many people here are supporting our South Coast crew, willing to recognize that there is more to this story than we have heard. So many of you are keeping an open mind, willing to prevent the presumption of innocence (yes, I know how to spell it) from being a meaningless series of words just strung together. We are doing what we are so known for, supporting each other in difficult times.

Truth has many sides, not just one or two. I often used to tell juries, as does a jury instruction, that two people witnessing the same event, will have two different versions. They may be similar, and they may differ little or a lot, but if they are the same, it is because the two parties got together and decided jointly which version they would present. Ask any cop, or defense attorney. We know this is the way of perception.

This Cal Trans story likely will have many layers, and many parts. We may never know what is true, particularly if we cannot depend on the local media. It will come to light in bits and pieces over the next few days, weeks, and perhaps months.

On a related note, i am concerned that I have yet again been removed from Jack’s WildBigSur email list, after posting a version of my Innocence post there. I never saw it, and I wouldn’t have seen the 5-6 responses I received, if it hadn’t been forwarded to me by a friend. Why does he do this? I know of at least one other very knowledgable, very responsible blogger about things Big Sur, who has also been banned. Given my experience, and this other person’s, I do not believe it is an accident. I would love to be wrong. I haven’t gotten ANY Pelican Network emails for a couple years now, unless they are forwarded, and I just was re-added to WildBigSur a couple months ago, and once again, I have been removed – because I spoke out about an injustice? Why is that? Inquiring minds want to know.

Current and former Cal-Trans workers arrested

At 5 am this morning, per a non-employee woman who was staying at the Cal-Trans yard at Willow Springs maintenance Yard, she woke to find 5 police officers in her room. She was not arrested.

At about 9 am this morning, I got a call from Rock Knocker informing me that there were a huge number of MCSO and CHP officers at “the yard” and Gorda, and four additional officers parked at Radio Point. I left about an hour and a half later, and noted a lot of officers at the yard, but none at Gorda, and saw at least one at Radio Point. (I did not pull in and look behind the rock, like RK did.)I couldn’t stop and investigate, as I had a brief due today, which meant it had to posted by priority mail today from Cambria.

After lunch with RK, sharing information, making and receiving several phone calls, including one from RK (who left early to find out what was going on) I had enough information to know that something very unusual was going down, but I was still trying to piece it together.

RK told me that his landlord, a former Cal Trans employee had been arrested, and that all his tenants had been given 30 days to move, due to code violations. I made more phone calls. I had more information.

On the way home, I noted 3 CHP cars and their drivers in the Cal Trans yard and the gate open. This was 6:30 pm. I turned around, and when I got back, the gate was closed. My mail box is there, so I stopped anyway. The gate was not locked, and was swinging open, so I walked in. CHP Officer N. Ashby immediately approached me, so I introduced myself, and showed him my press credentials and started asking him questions. He confirmed that arrests were made. I asked for the names, and he went back to the other officers, and as I started to approach, he motioned for me to stay where I was. I did. After a few minutes, he came back with 6 8×10 computer print out of photos of 6 people – 5 current Cal Trans employees, and one former employee. Each had a name at the top of the photo, which he read to me as I read over his shoulder. He gave me the name and number of the PIO for the CHP to call, with the caveat that the PIO might have already left.

I rushed to a local land line, and he had gone home, but the woman who answered the phone suggested I call the MCSO, which I did. I finally tracked down someone who confirmed the 6 arrests, but could not confirm the charges, as at 7 pm, they were “being interrogated.” I made numerous other calls, spoke to a number of locals, and eventually got home around 8:30 pm. I had groceries to carry in, dogs to take care of, more phone calls to make, and eventually got a copy of the joint press release from Cal Trans and the CHP. (Thanks to Bert.) The press release indicates 4 current and 1 former employee were arrested, but the information both the CHP and the jail provided, listed six total names. There are only 6 current employees at the yard, so only the very newest hire was not arrested.

The charges listed on the press release, as to all individuals, are grand theft, conspiracy, and theft of public monies. It further indicates that the workers were falsifying documents to increase their over-time salaries, as well as stealing Cal Trans property.

If you get KSBY or KION, there will be much more later tonight, and given the potential for notoriety, I suspect there will be more coverage in the days to come.

ED COMMENT: For us down on the South Coast who know all these people, who have helped and been helped by these workers, it is a very sad day. It will affect our entire community for months to come, not to mention the eviction of a number of residents from their homes. As a criminal defense attorney for too many years, I would just ask everyone to remember that these individuals are innocent, until the state proves beyond a reasonable doubt otherwise. So, please, do not judge until you have heard the whole story.