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Some things are just so ridiculous that you couldn't possibly make them up.

Seven years ago an Oakland police officer forced two men he had stopped to pull down their pants in front of spectators. After a lawsuit was brought and the City refused to settle, last year's verdict resulted in losses to Oakland's taxpayers of more than $1,000,000. You might have thought that at this point the City would have said no mas.

But you would be wrong. You have no concept to what depths of ass-kissing the people of Oakland's representatives will go when there are police involved. (And quite frankly, even I was surprised at the giant sucking sounds emerging from City Hall last evening...)

The Oakland City Council voted Tuesday to pay $40,000 in punitive damages that a judge had ordered a former Oakland police officer to pay for making two men pull down their pants in public.

The city had no legal obligation to make ((officer)) Mayer's payment, but the council voted 5-3 to do it anyway.

((City Council member)) Brooks said the police union had recently asked council members to indemnify Mayer.


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A police officer costs the City of Oakland more than $1,000,000 for being a complete and utter asshole, and what happens?  Five of eight City Council members step up to kiss his and every other member of the police union's buttocks by paying the $40,000 that Meyer would have otherwise been on the hook for.

And the policeman himself? He

... retired on disability after serving 11 years on the force...
having been cleared by an internal police review...
Mayer's attorney, John Verber, wrote in a memo to the city that his client had been cleared of any wrongdoing by police internal affairs. "The punitive damage award issued by the court is particularly upsetting for Mr. Mayer because he knows he did nothing wrong," Verber wrote.
I'm sure Mr. Mayer is "particularly upset." It's expensive to pay for so many tiny violins playing all at once. But is this shocking? (Not!). The police cleared one of their own after
Mayer testified that he had stopped the car for a traffic violation but could not provide a reason for having done so...
This is yet one more aspect of what a police state looks like (and here, and here and believe me I could keep going far beyond the margin).

When the police can so thoroughly dominate the politics of a city that they can demand -- and obtain -- the City's politicians' votes to indemify a policeman who was ordered to pay punitive damages after costing its taxpayers more then a million dollars,, can there be any doubt what kind of state exists within Oakland's city limits?

Originally posted to jpmassar on Wed Jun 20, 2012 at 07:25 PM PDT.

Also republished by Occupy Wall Street, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, SFKossacks, and California politics.

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Comment Preferences

  •  but arent police states (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jpmassar, koNko

    suppose to be at least safe? Whats Oakland's excuse, police run amok, and still a crime ridden shithole.

    Bad is never good until worse happens

    by dark daze on Wed Jun 20, 2012 at 07:46:32 PM PDT

    •  police states are safe for those at the top (6+ / 0-)

      they're deadly perilous for the people at the bottom.

      •  A police state is a criminal enterprise (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jpmassar, AoT

        under cover of law.  The people at the top are not secure because their henchmen can turn on them at any time.  Also, all the participants in a criminal enterprise are held together by guilt.  Some criminal acts are committed for the sole purpose of having something with which to "hang" the perpetrator, should he appear to be stepping out of line.
        Oakland City Council persons are, apparently, subject to intimidation because they have something to hide. It's a conspiracy of guilt.

        On the other hand, holding public officials, especially law enforcers accustomed to "qualified immunity," individually responsible for their performance/negligence in office is a really touchy subject. Until the passage of the Federal Tort Claims Act in 1947 and subsequent state variants, all public officials had enjoyed "sovereign immunity" from liability for all actions undertaken in conjunction with their official position. Under sovereign immunity, no person could get satisfaction for any injury caused by the negligence or malfeasance of a public official. Now they can and public officials get sued all the time and are defended at public expense, unless it is proven that they were acting contrary to the policies and procedures of the public corporation. (Don't forget that corporations are organized to protect the individual participants from personal risk).
        In this case, it would seem that, since the OPD reviewed the actions of the officer and did not find them wanting or offensive to good order, the corporation (the city of Oakland) is responsible for the fine. And, if the City Council does nothing to change the culture of the OPD, then the Council needs to be dismissed by the citizens.
        All over the country, law enforcement has been turned into a protection racket.  That's because, instead of promoting justice, the law is being used to enforce compliance from a subject populace.  The law is like any other tool; it can be misused. In Oakland it obviously is. But, Oakland is not alone.

        "In the name of the nation, and of the dollar and of the rule of law, you and your children shall sacrifice for the good of all." Rmoney's prayer

        by hannah on Thu Jun 21, 2012 at 03:17:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Your (our) tax dollars at work... nt (3+ / 0-)

    Kick apart the structures - Seth

    by ceebee7 on Wed Jun 20, 2012 at 07:50:21 PM PDT

  •  I am aware of a few cases (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jpmassar, blueoasis, happymisanthropy

    where a court ruled that an employer could not pay an employee's fines or punitive damages.  

    IIRC, NASCAR and the NFL have rules about a team owner paying a player or driver's fine for them. If somebody knows something different, I would be interesting in hearing it.  

    The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

    by Otteray Scribe on Wed Jun 20, 2012 at 07:53:04 PM PDT

    •  From SF Chron article (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Otteray Scribe, happymisanthropy
      Verber and Parker cited a state government code section that allows a city to pay punitive damages awarded against one of its employees.
      •  "Allow" doesn't mean "Require" (3+ / 0-)

        But I guess that if Oakland Dems want taxpayers to question how their tax dollars are being spent, they did the right thing.

        Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. www.hamiltonproject.org

        by PatriciaVa on Wed Jun 20, 2012 at 08:05:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Based on the language (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jpmassar

        of the Code, it appears the judge could have ordered the City not to pay, in which case the officers would have been on the hook. As I alluded to before, this only happens rarely as far as I know, but is not unheard of.  That the city is allowed to pay, did not mean they were required to pay.  Just guessing, but I suspect their attorneys told them if the officers had sued the city, such a lawsuit would have cost more than $40K to defend.  

        The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

        by Otteray Scribe on Wed Jun 20, 2012 at 08:24:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Judge (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Otteray Scribe, PatriciaVa, jayden
          Patel found no legal rationale for the 2005 search
          I don't see how the officer could sue the city with any hope of it not being frivolous given this finding of fact.  But what do I know?
          •  Sometimes I begin to believe that major... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jpmassar, FG

            ...cities were more than obsequiously accommodating when it came to the wrongdoings of civil servants.  And for a long time, taxpayers didn't care, not with (i) median income growing significantly in the 90s, then (ii) the equity extraction from homes up until 2006.

            Things are different today.

            Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. www.hamiltonproject.org

            by PatriciaVa on Wed Jun 20, 2012 at 08:48:47 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Not so terribly long ago, civil servants (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              jpmassar, AoT

              could do no wrong. Public corporations are organized to carry out very specific functions, nothing more or less.  Public officials are then hired to perform those functions, nothing more or less.  To insure that the individuals know what's expected of them, they undergo a probationary period during which they are trained to perform specific tasks, nothing more or less.  If they don't learn in a given amount of time, they are dismissed when the probation us up.  If they do learn and perform as expected, they are hired permanently.  After that, only gross malfeasance can lead to their dismissal.  Either that or the termination of the office. The latter has become a common strategy for people who object to a permanent bureaucracy which the whim of elected officials can't affect.
              In any event, given the presumption that only assigned tasks will be carried out as previously specified, it makes sense that dismissal is the only option when they're not. Additional punishment is not in order.
              Where we have gone wrong, especially with private corporations, is in not being sufficiently specific about their duties and obligations and in not determining ahead of time the conditions that will prompt their dissolution.  When people are under orders, they are entitled to know the consequences of failing to perform. Since we hire and pay them to do what's desired, if they don't perform, they need to be fired. That holds for the officers of private and public corporations.
              Public corporations, btw, are not supposed to be dissolved.  But, as we have seen in Michigan, since municipalities are chartered by states, the state legislature can order their dissolution.  The same should be true of private corporations which do not meet a public purpose (why they are set up), but, here too, we the people have fallen down on the job.  Letting Delaware charter all kinds of corporations they don't supervise, many of which don't even have operations in the state, is an egregious example of exercising power without responsibility.  It's a common failing among legislators.  Many seem to be confused or ignorant of the difference between manipulating people and managing our public assets and resources.  Or, they assume that the latter happens automatically (the magic of the market?) when they do the former.  That is, they dole out our natural resources to their friends and supporters and leave it to the market to provide for the general welfare -- another false attribution of agency that serves to disguise irresponsibility.

              When legislators aim to manipulate their constituents with punitive regulations, they are being irresponsible -- i.e. not looking after the public resources and assets they were hired to manage.  But then, "the best defense is ... offense."  Being offensive towards women, for example, has the additional advantage of sending the message to the male electorate that they can be glad they're not being targeted.  That punishment is not part of the legislative charge to begin with gets overlooked.

              "In the name of the nation, and of the dollar and of the rule of law, you and your children shall sacrifice for the good of all." Rmoney's prayer

              by hannah on Thu Jun 21, 2012 at 03:47:03 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Anybody with a filing fee can sue. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jpmassar

            Literally.  If you have the filing fee, which is about $50 in most jurisdictions, you can file a lawsuit against somebody.  

            If you have a lawsuit filed against you, even a frivolous one, you are obligated to defend it. If you blow it off and do not file a legally correct reply to the lawsuit, or fail to show in court with your attorney, you will be subject to a default judgement. Again, no matter how frivolous the lawsuit.  In order to defend against a lawsuit, no matter the lack of merit, is expensive.  

            I was once sued by an adjudicated child molester.   The guy filed a 1.2 million dollar lawsuit against me and my colleague because he was not allowed unsupervised visitation with his pre-school age daughter whom he had abused.  In his twisted logic, we were the bad guys for helping convict him and keeping him from his daughter without a DCS supervisor watching his every move.  That lawsuit dragged on for several years before being dismissed with prejudice, but in the meantime legal fees kept piling up.  

            Any malpractice attorney will tell you it is often cheaper to settle a frivolous claim than to litigate it.

            The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

            by Otteray Scribe on Wed Jun 20, 2012 at 08:51:52 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  But expenses to the defendant can be awarded (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Otteray Scribe

              by the court for the plaintiff to pay if the suit is deemed frivolous, no?

              •  They can be taxed to the plaintiff (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                jpmassar, FG

                and often are.  In many cases when that happens, the plaintiff simply files bankruptcy and you are still left holding the bag.  The guy who sued our office did not have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of, so even if the judge had awarded costs, he could not have paid.   Our insurance company ate the thousands of dollars in expenses.  The plaintiff in that case (I am told) had only paid his lawyer a small fee, just a couple of thousand, which was all he could muster.  Had our lawyer not managed to talk the judge into dismissing the case with prejudice, it would have cost a lot more.  One of my attorney friends told me the average case that goes to trial costs an average of $35,000/day.  So, it is not hard to see why the city felt it was more economical to give the plaintiffs some money to get them to go away.

                The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

                by Otteray Scribe on Wed Jun 20, 2012 at 09:20:48 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  The City decided to pay? (5+ / 0-)

    You mean the City decided to the let the people pay.  

    The two couldn't be more distinguishable.

    “I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.” - Harriet Tubman

    by Publius2008 on Wed Jun 20, 2012 at 08:06:54 PM PDT

    •  Hey, it wasn't my quote... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis

      Amazing how easy it is to vote to give away your constituents' money, eh?

      •  Money is a measure of value, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jpmassar

        as worthless in itself as an inch, a measure of distance.
        The only reason this measure is limited is because some people have found it advantageous to artificially restrict the available quantity of currency to coerce behavior and/or concessions to which they are not entitled.

        The argument that "because I have the money, you have to work for me," can only be sustained by the mutual consent of society -- consent that's expressed by restricting access to the necessities of life to those who can pay for them.

        Some people have the skills necessarily to transform the materials provided by nature to sustain them.  We call those people workers.  Other people have no manual talents and have to rely on their gift of gab to exact the surplus produced by other people's work. Those people are called by various names, all of which serve to disguise that they are practically incompetent and need to be sustained by someone else. Where the insult occurs is in the assertion that the workers upon whom the transformation of matter depends, even if the physical energy they expend is supplemented by generated electricity, are deserving of a lesser social status or, as the slaves of old, even contempt. Letting incompetent exploiters claim a higher social status and impose their moral judgments on others is despicable.  Which may well be why we ignore it.  The face of evil is not pleasant to look upon.
        But, humans exploiting their own kind is evil, and not just when the victims are innocent youth.

        "In the name of the nation, and of the dollar and of the rule of law, you and your children shall sacrifice for the good of all." Rmoney's prayer

        by hannah on Thu Jun 21, 2012 at 04:08:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  perhaps if the city council had to personally pay (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jpmassar, jayden, AoT

    fines the city incurs for breaking the law, they might see the light. taxing the people you beat and humiliate to pay the fines of the cops that beat and humiliate them is some kind of racket.

  •  So the city was ordered to pay plaintiff's lawyers (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jpmassar

    $800,000. I wonder why. Was the case so open and shut that the judge that the city shouldn't have contested it even?

    •  Presumably the judge found the policeman's (0+ / 0-)

      actions so egregious that yes, she figured that the City should not have contested the issue.

      But I don't know much about the legal issues around the conditions under which attorneys' fees are rewarded to the opposite side.

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