Slush funds debate in Merced county

Daron McDaniel being sworn in

Discretionary funds, a $40,000 annual allocation of taxpayer dollars that each supervisor can spend on projects of their choice, have been a hot topic in Merced County for years. But it wasn’t until District 3 Supervisor Daron McDaniel was elected in January that the issue was put back on the front burner.

One supervisor uses the funds for a personal assistant who was caught driving a county vehicle, Unlicensed, and while under the influence of alcohol.

Other use it for any reason they see fit which comes down to special interests to garner votes. Which is not supposed to be done with tax payer money.

In the meantime much needed and valuable programs are being cut like the seniors lunch program. Read more here:

McDaniel, who has voted against most of his fellow board members’ funding requests, believes the discretionary dollars should be spent on bricks-and-mortar projects, repairing public buildings and public safety, because those expenditures benefit everyone. Other board members have requested using their district funds for nonprofit organizations, local sports teams and other specialized groups.

In keeping with his campaign promises, McDaniel has voted against those items since January. He also held a workshop to help residents learn how to find and apply for grants.

The Atwater supervisor had his first discretionary funding request on the agenda – using $4,000 to replace an aging wall at the county’s fire station at Castle Commerce Center. Isnt that what taxpayer money is used for?

Other supervisors of course started mouthing off about his use of the funds like they are a bunch whiney brats.

“I do recollect during the campaign that there was a desire not to use funds on special projects – and I respect that,” said District 5 Supervisor Jerry O’Banion. “I also think he (McDaniel) needs to respect the other board members with regard to what they desire to do with their special district funds.”

Basically O’Banion is saying “leave my toys alone you BITCH!”

District 4 Supervisor Deidre Kelsey made the suggestion to schedule a formal discussion on the use of discretionary funding. The other supervisors agreed.

Now remember Supervisor Kelsey stated in the past that they were not entitled to an automatic pay raise that is for some reason linked up to the state superior court judges pay. When they increase, the supervisors pay increases. In December of 2013 supervisor Kelsey feigned surprise and said she had no control over her pay, And said they did not deserve it because it was a time where major cutbacks were being done due to the economy.

A couple of supervisors declined the raise in the interest of the best for all but Kelsey did not and obviously was grandstanding for the media.

The five districts had a combined balance of $406,429.53 in discretionary funds as of this month, according to Assistant County Executive Officer Scott De Moss.

District 2 Supervisor Hub Walsh had the most discretionary funds with $201,682.61; O’Banion had the second most with $127,371.50. District 1 Supervisor John Pedrozo had the least with $11,146.48. McDaniel had $45,929.68 and Kelsey had $20,299.26.

Pedrozo, who uses the majority of his district funding on a personal assistant, told the public Tuesday that the money goes back into benefiting the county. He “reluctantly” supported McDaniel’s request.

“Reluctantly, I am going to support this because I support anything that has to do with public safety,” Pedrozo said. “But this is taxpayer dollars going back into the county.”

Look at the difference in amounts and it just makes you wonder is that money being used back in the community?

Personal assistants who drive county vehicles unlicensed and drunk, A supervisors daughter suing the county to get a payday, A supervisor who wants to play out all their business in the media to make someone look bad, instead of manning up and talking to him.

I personally have a great distaste for career politicians and the deep pockets it creates, Special interest with money can play into it to easily. We are way to much a money grabbing government these days and the are constantly wanting to pick out pockets while they have a slush fund that is easily dispersed for personal agendas.

Maybe Daron McDaniel is the type people we need in these positions to start doing for the community and not just talk about it.

Tribute to my friend: Kathy Butler

Those who work in the Stockton courthouse are mourning the death of a beloved veteran bailiff.

Kathie Butler, known for her no-nonsense ways and compassion for even the most notorious of defendants, was found dead in her home Monday after suffering a heart attack. She was 57.

Work went on and cases were heard as normal this week at the Stockton branch of the Superior Court, but Department 24 was missing a trusted and familiar face. Judge Richard Mallett specifically had picked Butler for his courtroom in 1987 because they worked well together.

“She was just a real sweet person, but she had a real serious side to her,” Mallett said. “Kathie just set ’em straight. These guys minded her.

“It was a real shock to find out she passed away.”

Vittoria Bossi, a local criminal defense attorney, had tears in her eyes as she spoke of Butler on Wednesday.

Bossi always felt safe in Butler’s courtroom, because the San Joaquin County sheriff’s deputy was in control. She was tough, Bossi said. All she had to do was look at a trouble-maker.

“She had a way of getting them to straighten up,” Bossi said.

Deputy District Attorney Stephen Taylor remembers her the same way. She kept defendants who were in custody in line and looking straight at the judge. “None of that turning around,” Taylor said.

Mallett said Butler was on leave after injuring her shoulder subduing an inmate. She’s been injured a couple of times on the job.

“But she’d always fought her way back,” Mallet said. It’s been a somber week for Mallett, whose former court clerk, Jeanne Gaea, also died Wednesday morning from complications of multiple sclerosis. He said he will miss them both greatly. 

Butler treated people with dignity and respect, no matter the charge that placed them in the defendant’s chair, Bossi said. Butler sometimes would pray with defendants.

“She talked to them about getting right with God,” Bossi said.

Her faith and kindness were a qualities that stood out. “I don’t think she had a mean bone in her body,” said Capt. Michael Padilla of the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office.

God took center stage in her life.

Butler, who held a doctoral degree in theology, was a pastor at Mount Hermon Missionary Church of Lake Tyler in Tyler, Texas. Butler helped found the church and continued ministering there remotely through teleconferences.

A native of Tyler, Texas, Butler was never married, nor did she have children. “But she loved children and she helped raise a whole bunch of children,” said Elaine Johnson, Butler’s best friend.

She was a charitable person who would feed the homeless, say family and friends.

It is believed she died about a week prior to her body being discovered. Butler was on leave for a shoulder injury and didn’t report to work Monday. The Sheriff’s Office went to check on Butler at her Stockton home, but no one answered and she was not picking up her phone. Her mail had piled up and her trash was never taken to the curb, Padilla said.

No one else had heard from her, either. Padilla had Stockton police conduct another check and it was determined police needed to enter her property. That’s when officers found Butler’s body.

The sudden loss has been difficult for Deputy Keith Sales, a longtime friend and colleague.

“It’s a struggle, because we were close,” Sales said. “She was just a good person.”

Butler and Sales go back to 1977, when they both started working for the Stockton Police Department. At that time, Butler was an evidence technician. She completed a police academy in the 1980s and became a deputy marshal and then a sheriff’s deputy when the Marshal’s Office was absorbed by the Sheriff’s Office. Butler was nearing 25 years of law enforcement service, Padilla said.

Over the years, Butler earned a bachelor’s degree in forensic psychology, a master’s in marriage and family counseling and a doctorate in theology. She was ordained as a Christian minister and as a Jewish Rabbi.

She attended San Joaquin Delta College, University of the Pacific, University of Phoenix and East Bay Theological Seminary.

Butler’s hobbies included cooking, traveling and writing.

Butler is survived by her brothers George Earl Butler Sr. and A.B. Butler Jr.; nephews Bertram Herron, Dectrick Herron, Jamane Redwine, Larry Butler and George Butler Jr.; and nieces Latash White, Sennta Butler, Andrea Redwine, Shanta Butler and Brittney Butler.

There will be a celebration of life for Butler from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Unity Church, 48 W. Poplar St., Stockton.

Kathy was a friend of mine, but I have not seen her in years. I worked with her as a Baliff in the courthouse for several years and was a guest in her home on many occasions. I even did some handyman work around her house during that time.

She was one of the really good guys in Law Enforcement and a credit to her profession, And someone you could depend on.

Always cooking me, And others, a meal even when I was getting paid for my work around the house. And they were always excellent, nutritious, And filling. And always served with a big smile on her face.

I am saddened by her passing, especially her  condition when found.

But I have many fond memories of her that will be sustaining to me to make up for the thought of her demise.

RIP Kathy

Marty-Dawgs Blog

Why Baltimore police just listed Freddie Gray’s death as a homicide

Baltimore Police added Freddie Gray’s death to their list of city homicides Thursday, nearly two weeks after city State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby filed charges.

Cases normally are added to the list after prosecutors provide police with autopsy results from the state medical examiner. It’s a routine step in all cases authorities investigate together.

But in Gray’s case, police have not received autopsy information beyond details shared by Mosby when she announced the charges against the officers at a news conference on May 1.

Marilyn Mosby

Mosby said “the manner of death deemed a homicide by the State Medical Examiner is believed to be the result of a fatal injury that occurred while Mr. Gray was unrestrained by a seatbelt in the custody of the Baltimore Police Department wagon.”

A spokesman for the medical examiner’s office said state law requires only that the office to deliver autopsy information to prosecutors.

“As a matter of courtesy, it used to be provided to the police as well,” spokesman Bruce Goldfarb said. But the practice stopped in recent years, he said, out of concern that autopsy information was being circulated too widely.

The medical examiner now provides two copies of an autopsy to the State’s Attorney’s Office, one with a letter that says prosecutors “may provide this to law enforcement at your discretion when you feel it’s appropriate,” Goldfarb said.

Police spokesman Capt. Eric Kowalczyk said police have not received the autopsy findings on the manner of Gray’s death. But after receiving inquires from The Baltimore Sun, they added the case based on the criminal charges, saying it was clear it met the criteria.

The circumstances underscore divide between the agencies on the high-profile case. Police initially announced a May 1 deadline to finish their investigation of the case, with prosecutors noting that they had no such timetable for a decision on possible charges.

But when police wrapped their investigation a day early, they were stunned the next day to find out prosecutors were filing charges. Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts told CNN he found out 10 minutes before the announcement.

The Sun has reported that police never locked onto an explanation for Gray’s spinal injury, and planned to continue investigating. The parallel investigation being conducted by Mosby’s office, in conjuction with the Baltimore City Sheriff’s Office, concluded the case merited serious criminal charges – including second-degree murder and manslaughter – and cited the medical examiner’s finding of homicide as the cause of death.

Those investigators have seen the autopsy – police have not.

Dipshit of the day (and then some)

A Florida landscaper has been charged with animal cruelty after authorities say he ran over a mother duck and her 11 ducklings with his riding lawnmower.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel reports that police arrested 24-year-old Jason Falbo of Royal Palm Beach on Wednesday. He’s charged with nine counts of animal cruelty. Authorities say he mowed down the ducks May 2 at the home of a family caring for them in Wellington. The family says the ducklings were a few days old.

Boyd Jentzsch says his family, including his 7-year-old son, watched from inside their home, screaming as the ducks were run over.

Police say nine ducklings died. The mother and two ducklings survived.

Falbo is being held at the Palm Beach County Jail on $27,000 bail.


Does your company watch you 24/7?

Some employers may be making it impossible to get away from the job.

That’s what one California worker is alleging in a lawsuit, claiming that her former employer, a money transfer service called Intermex, installed an app that ran constantly on her company-issued iPhone and tracked her 24/7. After voicing her objections and disabling the app, she claims she was fired from the company, according to the lawsuit, which was obtained by Ars Technica.

The lawsuit highlights how corporations are increasingly using technology to track and monitor employees, which is raising concerns about worker privacy. Given that employees often work at home in the evenings or weekends — checking email or finishing projects — the line between work and home life can easily become blurred.

“Employees have reasonable expectations of privacy outside the workplace, and they should feel free to assert themselves,” Gail Glick, an attorney who is representing Myrna Arias, told CBS MoneyWatch. “She was fired because she was vocal about her complaints.”

The boundaries between the workplace and individual privacy are “being lost for a lot of Americans, and it’s devastating to those of us who believe in individual rights,” Glick added. She noted that a company has “no legitimate interest in knowing where your employee is off the clock, even during lunch.”

Meanwhile, tracking employees is itself an emerging business, with more than 20 companies now selling software tools for analyzing and monitoring employee behavior, according to Bloomberg News.

Intermex was allegedly tracking employees in order to monitor whether it needed to buy company cars, Glick said. According to the lawsuit, the company asked the plaintiff, Arias, and other workers to download an app from a company called Xora to their smartphones. Xora uses a GPS system that tracks workers via their phones, prompting Arias to ask Intermex if it planned to monitor employees outside of work hours.

Her boss allegedly “admitted that employees would be monitored while off duty and bragged that he knew how fast she was driving at specific moments ever since she had installed the app on her phone,” the lawsuit states. “Plaintiff expressed that she had no problem with the app’s GPS function during work hours, but she objected to the monitoring of her location during non-work hours.”

According to the complaint, Arias told her boss it was an invasion of privacy and compared it to “a prisoner’s ankle bracelet.” Her boss allegedly “replied that she should tolerate the illegal intrusion because Intermex was paying” her more than her former employer, and that she was required to keep the phone on 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in order to take client calls.

The lawsuit alleges her boss “scolded” her when she took the app off her phone in April 2014 because of privacy concerns. The complaint claims she was fired from her $7,250-per-month job the following month.

Intermex didn’t immediately return a request for comment. ClickSoftware Technologies, which owns Xora, declined comment.

Many software products that track employees are designed to catch hackers and corporate spies. Technology has made such behavior easier, given that an employee can email confidential information to rivals simply by pressing “send.”

Some software programs used to monitor workers search their computers for sensitive words that could signal an employee is in financial distress, and more likely to present a risk, such as references to “medical bills” or “late rent,” according to Bloomberg. Another company called Securonix uses algorithms to create profiles of normal behavior for each employee, such as when he or she logs in and out, which then alerts bosses when behavior deviates from the norm.

“What we’re trying to do is get this situational awareness,” Igor Baikalov, chief scientist at Securonix, told Bloomberg. “The next step is predictive analytics: How can we detect the small changes and stop the bad thing from happening?”

While companies may simply be trying to protect themselves from hackers and bad apples, tracking workers during off-work hours could be violating some state laws. Several states, including California and Texas, have laws that bar the use of mobile tracking devices to track other individuals, according to the National Law Review.

When you represent a company you are responsible to that image. Does that mean they can track you 24/7 like a criminal?

I pledge allegiance to the, UM, What was that again?

In Peyton Robinson’s eyes, the American flag should be displayed. But at his South Carolina high school, the senior ran into a problem, CBS affiliate WBTV reports.

“Just proud to be an American citizen,” the 18-year-old told WBTV. Robinson said a York Comprehensive High School administrator told him remove the American flag and the POW-MIA flag, which he has in the back of his truck.

“He said, ‘We’re having some issues. Some people were complaining about the flags in your truck, possibly offend them.’ He asked me to take it down,” Robinson said.

The high school senior, who has several family members who served in the armed forces, is upset because he doesn’t see the problem.

“I’d understand if it was a Confederate flag or something that might offend somebody,” Robinson said. “I wouldn’t do that. But an American flag – that’s our country’s flag. I have every right to do it.”

School district officials told WBTV that students were told they couldn’t have any physical flags on their cars because of safety. Administrators said it was a pre-existing policy that was announced again Wednesday.

Robinson said, “I don’t see a safety issue. I mean I understand it’s a big flag – it’s 4 by 6 – but nobody’s complained about it being in their way or anything.”

According to Robinson, a school administrator told him to remove the flags when he got home and not come back to school with them. But the 18-year-old said before the school day was over on Wednesday a school official went to Robinson’s parked truck, removed the bolts that secured the flags to the truck, took the flags down, and “laid my flags down in the middle of my truck when I wasn’t even there.”

Robinson was angry.

“I was pretty mad,” he said. “I don’t see how it’s a problem. Nobody has ever complained about it before.”

The senior took to social media and posted about the incident on his Facebook page. Fellow students vowed to stand with Robinson and fly flags on their cars when they arrived at school Thursday morning.

Despite being told he’s not to come to school again with flags flying on his pick-up, Robinson said he planned to do what he’s done for the past month – display his flags.

“I will ask to see where it’s written you can’t fly the American flag,” he said. “I want them to know we have every right to fly the American flag on on our truck.”

Blues legend B.B. King dead at age 89

B.B. King, whose scorching guitar licks and heartfelt vocals made him the idol of generations of musicians and fans while earning him the nickname King of the Blues, died late Thursday at home in Las Vegas. He as 89.

His attorney, Brent Bryson, told The Associated Press that King died peacefully in his sleep at 9:40 p.m. PDT.

Bryson said funeral arrangements were being made.

Although he had continued to perform well into his 80s, the 15-time Grammy winner suffered from diabetes and had been in declining health during the past year. He collapsed during a concert in Chicago last October, later blaming dehydration and exhaustion. He had been in hospice care at his Las Vegas home.

For most of a career spanning nearly 70 years, Riley B. King was not only the undisputed king of the blues but a mentor to scores of guitarists, who included Eric Clapton, Otis Rush, Buddy Guy, Jimi Hendrix, John Mayall and Keith Richards. He recorded more than 50 albums and toured the world well into his 80s, often performing 250 or more concerts a year.

King played a Gibson guitar he affectionately called Lucille with a style that included beautifully crafted single-string runs punctuated by loud chords, subtle vibratos and bent notes.

The result could bring chills to an audience, no more so than when King used it to full effect on his signature song, “The Thrill is Gone.” He would make his guitar shout and cry in anguish as he told the tale of forsaken love, then end with a guttural shouting of the final lines: “Now that it’s all over, all I can do is wish you well.”

His style was unusual. King didn’t like to sing and play at the same time, so he developed a call-and-response between him and Lucille.

“Sometimes I just think that there are more things to be said, to make the audience understand what I’m trying to do more,” King told The Associated Press in 2006. “When I’m singing, I don’t want you to just hear the melody. I want you to relive the story, because most of the songs have pretty good storytelling.”

A preacher uncle taught him to play, and he honed his technique in abject poverty in the Mississippi Delta, the birthplace of the blues.

“I’ve always tried to defend the idea that the blues doesn’t have to be sung by a person who comes from Mississippi, as I did,” he said in the 1988 book “Off the Record: An Oral History of Popular Music.”

“People all over the world have problems,” he said. “And as long as people have problems, the blues can never die.”

Fellow travelers who took King up on that theory included Clapton, the British-born blues-rocker who collaborated with him on “Riding With the King,” a best-seller that won a Grammy in 2000 for best traditional blues album.

Still, the Delta’s influence was undeniable. King began picking cotton on tenant farms around Indianola, Mississippi, before he was a teenager, being paid as little as 35 cents for every 100 pounds, and was still working off sharecropping debts after he got out of the Army during World War Two.

“He goes back far enough to remember the sound of field hollersand the cornerstone blues figures, like Charley Patton and Robert Johnson,” ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons once told Rolling Stone magazine.

King got his start in radio with a gospel quartet in Mississippi, but soon moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where a job as a disc jockey at WDIA gave him access to a wide range of recordings. He studied the great blues and jazz guitarists, including Django Reinhardt and T-Bone Walker, and played live music a few minutes each day as the “Beale Street Blues Boy,” later shortened to B.B.

Through his broadcasts and live performances, he quickly built up a following in the black community, and recorded his first R&B hit, “Three O’Clock Blues,” in 1951.

He began to break through to white audiences, particularly young rock fans, in the 1960s with albums like “Live at the Regal,” which would later be declared a historic sound recording worthy of preservation by the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry.

He further expanded his audience with a 1968 appearance at the Newport Folk Festival and when he opened shows for the Rolling Stones in 1969.

King was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 1984, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and received the Songwriters Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush, gave a guitar to Pope John Paul II and had President Barack Obama sing along to his “Sweet Home Chicago.”

Other Grammys included best male rhythm `n’ blues performance in 1971 for “The Thrill Is Gone,” best ethnic or traditional recording in 1982 for “There Must Be a Better World Somewhere” and best traditional blues recording or album several times. His final Grammy came in 2009 for best blues album for “One Kind Favor.”

Through it all, King modestly insisted he was simply maintaining a tradition.

“I’m just one who carried the baton because it was started long before me,” he told the AP in 2008.

Born Riley B. King on Sept. 16, 1925, on a tenant farm near Itta Bena, Mississippi, King was raised by his grandmother after his parents separated and his mother died. He worked as a sharecropper for five years in Kilmichael, an even smaller town, until his father found him and took him back to Indianola.

“I was a regular hand when I was 7. I picked cotton. I drove tractors. Children grew up not thinking that this is what they must do. We thought this was the thing to do to help your family,” he said.

When the weather was bad and he couldn’t work in the cotton fields, he walked 10 miles to a one-room school before dropping out in the 10th grade.

After he broke through as a musician, it appeared King might never stop performing. When he wasn’t recording, he toured the world relentlessly, playing 342 one-nighters in 1956. In 1989, he spent 300 days on the road. After he turned 80, he vowed he would cut back, and he did, somewhat, to about 100 shows a year.

He had 15 biological and adopted children. Family members say 11 survive.

Retro of te day: Jeannie C. Riley

Harper Valley PTA” is a country song written by Tom T. Hall that was a major international hit single for country singer Jeannie C. Riley in 1968. Riley’s record sold over six million copies as a single. The song made Riley the first woman to top both Billboard’s Hot 100 and the U.S. Hot Country Singles charts with the same song, a feat that would go unrepeated until Dolly Parton‘s “9 to 5 ” in 1981.