Captured nutria granted clemency

"Thanks for the ride, guys."

If, like me, you worry officials are moving too slowly on the nutria eradication — that super-destructive nutria are going to take over the Delta – this will not reassure you.

It’s from a Department of Fish and Wildlife briefing (see bottom paragraph).

“Nutria captured by Lathrop Animal Services on 4/9/18 (reported to CDFW on 4/20/18), was netted under a vehicle in a residential neighborhood 0.5 mi off the San Joaquin River. Animal Services did not identify the animal but photographed it, and released it back to the San Joaquin River on 4/9/18. The sex and approximate age of this animal is unknown.”

Not only did Lathrop Animal Services fail to identify the nutria, they gave it a ride a half-mile back to the river!

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Dewey defeats Truman

Intrepid journalist Motecuzoma Sanchez posted this on his 209 Times Facebook page last night:

Minor problem: The board unanimously approved Deasy’s hire.

The post was taken down and replaced by an accurate one — with no correction, of course.

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More doubts about Kids Club

District Attorney investigators served a search warrant to the Kids Club in March of 2017 and carried out boxes of evidence. CALIXTRO ROMIAS/THE RECORD

Robert Burnside writes:

“Re today’s column (“The Case of the Possibly Purloined Clubhouse”), the corporate status of Stockton Kids Club, Inc. has been suspended by the Franchise Tax Board.

“See this link.”

Then why is the Kids Club still doing business?

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Local guy’s scoop on Tesla problems

The L.A. Times reported yesterday“Tesla’s service centers are dealing with Model 3 quality problems that result partly from the ill-conceived automation effort.”

So I contacted Richard Harty, the Stockton Tesla owner who gave me a memorable ride in his Model 3 and asked if all was well.

Harty and his Tesla: some glitches but no mechanical problems.

“I’m doing well and really enjoying driving my Model 3.

“I have had a chance to drive it in the mountains and it handles much more like a sports car. It is very fun to drive and it the best car I have owned.

“Mechanically, I have had no problems at all and all the fuss about the panel gaps doesn’t appear to be a problem with mine. It looks nice to me.

Software-wise, I have had some issues that have been corrected through software updates.

“When I first got the car I had to turn off bluetooth off on my phone and back on, to get it to reconnect to unlock the car with my phone. Sometimes I would have to use the credit card key instead. This has been corrected after several software updates to the car and one update to the app. It works very well now and will open the car even if the app isn’t running on the phone.

“I have had the back up camera go dark a couple times, the mirrors wouldn’t retract or extend fully when turning the car off and the screen would go “fuzzy.” The car was still drivable and would correct with a software reset. With the last software update, this seems to be taken care of.

“Initially when I got the car I knew I had heated front seats. I got a nice surprise with a software update a few weeks ago that gave me control over rear heated seats letting me know the hardware had been there all along.

“The last update improved the user interface allowing more often used controls placed closer to me on the screen and allowing me to set the adaptive cruise control speed and follow distance from a scroll wheel on the steering wheel, instead of having to find the controls on the screen.

“As of now the car has been very consistent and free of problems with the last software update.

“A lot of focus on “bad” news has been generated by investors who are shorting the stock hoping for it to go down. Right now it is one of the most shorted stocks on the market.”


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Finding syringes on his walk

Robert J. Perasso writes:

“During the last ten years I have almost daily walked from my home, north on Quail Lakes Drive, taking a left behind El Torito, and walked to the In Shape Health Club for my workout. Within the last few years I have been physically threatened by an individual, witnessed people urinating amongst the fast food outlets on March Lane, and encountered many individuals begging for money.

“Only within the last year have I witnessed a continued appearance of spent hypodermic needles. I decided to bring this not so surprising fact to your attention as you have recently written about the growing homeless and drug problem that is increasing its presence in  our City.

Last Friday as I walked my route to InShape I noticed a man performing what I assumed to be his bathroom business behind the green electrical box on QLD. This afternoon as I was again walking to InShape I was curious to note if he deposited that business behind that utility box. The attached picture is what I found.”

“This is approximately the sixth syringe that I have observed within the past year on QLD.

“This note is not to berate the homeless, or the drug user, nor to complain about this tragedy invading what used to be considered the more privileged part of town. My wish would be the government, city, state, and federal would focus attention on this ever increasing threat to our community. Unstainable and unfunded pensions to our city and county workers, bullet trains, tunnels to Southern California, and symbolic border walls that will not solve illegal immigration and divert dollars which could considerably fix this situation.

“Billions are being spent by our various governments on these projects while the homeless and the drug addicted are intentionally ignored, probably because they do not vote. I just hope that at some point attention be given by our governments,{ especially local} to this already out of control situation, and that you continue to address these issues in ” Fitz’s Stockton”. I also hope that I do not inadvertently step on a syringe walking in my neighborhood.

“P.S. Keep up the good work. Your commentary’s are the best and most relevant part of the Record.”

Perasso’s experience is emblematic of Stockton’s growing homelesness problem and the squalor that accompanies it. The county’s year of deliberation and policy creation culminated in the to the recent appointment of a homeless czar. What I cannot report yet is any reduction in homelesness.

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What got lost in the Coroner controversy

Bennet Omalu

Reacting to the high-profile resignations of two county pathologists, and their startling allegations that Sheriff Steve Moore interfered with their work, County Supes voted unanimously this week to sever the Coroner’s Office from the Sheriff and put it under the supervision of an independent, medically qualified Medical Examiner.

Well and good.

What got lost in the story is how poorly the San Joaquin County Coroner’s Office is run. The resignations and allegations sucked up so much oxygen the public may have overlooked the raft of inefficiencies RAM Consulting found.

• The Corner’s Office is under-budgeted.

• Officials don’t communicate well with each other or meet enough.

• The Coroner’s Office is not accredited by any of the national accrediting bodies. “Accreditation provides uniform measures of performance and outcomes. Accreditation also establishes objective standards and agreed upon best practices …”

• “Deaths that occur at a medical facility (i.e. under the care of medical professionals) do not require a scene visit,” but deputies make them anyway, wasting staff resources.

• Deputies are understaffed and poorly trained for death scene investigations. “The average education attainment of the deputies is a high school diploma,” the report says.  Deputies undergo an 80-hour training in Basic Death Investigation, but … “There is minimal continuing education training …”

• At the morgue, medical technicians are poorly trained. “The staff reports not having sufficient direct guidance by management.”

And much more. You can read the report yourself in this county agenda packet. The report starts on page 619.

Restructuring the Coroner’s Office is only half the solution. The other half involves far better budgeting, training, policies and procedures. If the consultant is right, the department is an under-performing mess.

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Figting skeeters in Guatemala

Stocktonian Rick Ware.

From time to time, the U.S. Navy sends a blurb about a Stocktonian serving in the Navy. Here’s the latest.

“PUERTO BARRIOS, Guatemala – Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Rick Ware, from Stockton, California, assigned to the Preventive Medicine team, displays a mosquito breeder containing mosquito larvae collected at the Izabal Sports Complex medical site in Puerto Barrios, Guatemala during Continuing Promise 2018.”

The Navy didn’t say what diseases South American mosquitoes carry, but Google did:  “Chagas disease, chikungunya , dengue fever , leishmaniasis , malaria , onchocerciasis (river blindness), West Nile virus, and Zika virus.”

Adds the Navy, “U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet has deployed a force to execute Continuing Promise to conduct civil-military operations including humanitarian assistance, training engagements, and medical, dental, and veterinary support in an effort to show U.S. support and commitment to Central and South America. (U.S. Navy photo).”

I wonder if Ware had any idea when he joined the Navy that he’d end up fighting mosquitoes in Guatemala. Good humanitarian work, though.

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From ValuJet to Allegiant

In this May 9, 2013, file photo, two Allegiant Air jets taxi at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. Shares of Allegiant Air's parent company are tumbling following a "60 Minutes"€ investigation that expressed serious safety concerns about the airline. (AP Photo/David Becker, File)

A caller says:

“You didn’t mention in here that Maury Gallagher, the guy who is the founder of Allegiant, was the founder of ValuJet … ValuJet had the aircraft—and I believe it was an MD-80 (no, it was a used DC9–MF) that loaded active oxygen making machines … in the cargo hold, and the airplane crashed shortly after takeoff, killing everyone on board. So Maury Gallagher has a history of unsafe practices.”

Gallagher was a co-founder, not sole founder, of ValuJet.

Wikipedia says Valujet was, “was notorious for its sometimes dangerous cost-cutting measures. All of the airline’s planes were purchased used from other airlines, very little training was provided to workers, and contractors were used for maintenance and other services. The company quickly developed a reputation for its lax safety. In 1995, the military refused ValuJet’s bid to fly military personnel over safety worries, and officials at the FAA wanted the airline to be grounded.”

After Valujet went under, “Gallagher … gained control of (Allegiant) airline as a result of the bankruptcy and later became CEO and Chairman. Under his leadership, the airline changed headquarters to Las Vegas and eventually evolved a unique business model of flying older large commercial aircraft from small cities around the US to large leisure destinations.”

Wikipedia adds, “In May 2016, the FAA confirmed that Allegiant was under investigation for possible safety violations, drawing comparisons to the ValuJet crash twenty years earlier.”

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Consultant: Coroner’s Office must change

Sheriff Steve Moore

A consultant hired after the high-profile resignations of San Joaquin County Dr. Bennet Omalu and a colleague, who alleged interference form Sheriff Steve Moore — including on cases of officer-involved deaths — recommends making the Coroner’s Office independent and letting medical professionals run the show.

Money graf:

“The San Joaquin County Coroner’s Office must adapt a new structure to properly serve the citizens of San Joaquin County. The organizational structure must ensure that the individuals with the most knowledge and experience in conducting medicolegal death investigations provide the ultimate management and leadership for the office. The office must be and appear to be independent of law enforcement particularly when investigating deaths in the custody of law enforcement or while in jail/prison. This requires a complete shift towards a Medical Examiner System.”

Thus the resignation of Omalu and his colleague appears to be leading to a new system.


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From homeless czar to rock guitar

Today’s column about new chief of county homeless initiatives, Adam Chesire, mentions that he’s in a rock band, Code Blues.

Here they are.

From left: Adam Cheshire, Guitar and Vocals, James Koponen, Percussion, Jim Cheshire, Bass and Vocals. Photo courtesy Jim Cheshire

“About the band,” writes Jim Cheshire, Adam Cheshire’s dad, “10 years ago I got together with two of my fellow RN’s working in the ICU at Kaiser in South Sac to play a couple of ICU parties.  Soon, one of the guys dropped out and Adam stepped in. After I retired in 2015, we started playing a few gigs a year at the BrickHouse in Elk Grove to raise money for the Homeless Shelter.

“I know that there are probably multiple bands with a variation on that name, but I didn’t know about the Sac band called Code Blue.  But I’ll bet that there are not very many of them who have actually participated in real code blues like I have.”

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    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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