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February 27, 2009

Pugnacious prosecutor grandstanding? Or will the CoCo District Attorney’s really stop going after drunk drivers and other misdemeanor criminals?

Claycord.com alerted us to this report from ABC7New.com that $4.1 million in budget cuts to the Contra Costa District Attorneys’ office means that head prosecutor Bob Kochly will have to cut the jobs of 33 attorneys. And, apparently those attorneys mainly prosecute misdemeanors, which includes drunk drivers, petty thieves, minor drug crimimals, flashers...

So that means, if you follow the logic presented by this TV report, these crimes won’t be prosecuted in Contra Costa County.

Hmm.

Will Bob Kochly really allow his office to slide on charging drunken drivers? Even in the face of $4 million in budget cuts?

Just throwing out the question…

In any event, that’s the story—and it makes good headlines—certainly judging by the attention received by this rather heated, and, I must say, typically TV news chest-heaving report from ABC7.com:

“They’re calling it a ‘perfect storm’ in Contra Costa County. Their budget problems are so severe, crooks could go free. “

Crooks could go free!

So says KGO-TV’s anchors Dan Ashley and Carolyn Johnson and reporter Amy Hollyfield.

Okay, sure, there are probably elements to this story that are true and truly worrisome with regard to public safety. But, in my wicked, skeptical heart, I’m seriously trying to limit my eye-rolling as I read it...

The story goes on to quote Barry Grove, the president of the Deputy District Attorney Association: “I think it's horrible. I think it's absolutely horrible, and I can't imagine that government, whose highest purpose is the security of their citizens, would allow this to happen.”

Of course, there is a backdrop to all this: the Contra Costa County Supervisor’s are meeting over the next couple weeks to consider some big, difficult decisions about county spending. Not only are prosecutors’ jobs at risk, so are those of some 75 Sheriff’s deputies. Other agencies also face serious cuts--too numerous to list--but they include the employees and human services office, and the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District.

Kochly and his deputy DAs certainly have a political leg-up in this budget battle. They can play the “we’re-gonna-stop-prosecuting-drunk-drivers” card.

Okay, accuse me of being anti-law-and-order, anti-anything-having-to-do-with-going-after-drunk-drivers-public-masturbators-and-anyone-caught-with-a-misememeanor-level-drug-possession-charge.

Sorry, I just detect a whiff of you-know-what. As I said, I have no doubt that our local prosecutor’s office is facing tough times.

But, so is everyone in county government. So is everyone in the entire population!

I find it extremely hard to believe that Bob Kochly’s District Attorney’s office, made up of a bunch of lawyers—the most politically expedient animals on our planet—would not be playing this issue for all its worth. I've seen some of Kochly's prosecutors in action in courtrooms, and they sure know how to shape an argument and move dramatic tension to their advantage--however worthy their argument might be.

My prediction? There will be cuts to the District Attorney’s Office, as there will be to all county services. But the infernal fires of eternal damnation will freeze over before Bob Kochly—or his staff—political animals that they are—will allow drunk drivers and other misdemeanor perps to escape the consequences of their actions. If Kochly could, he would order his star homicide and gang prosecutors to slip in a few drunk driving cases before he'd allow such cases to slide.

C’mon: Kochly and/0r his politically aspiring minions have future elections to worry about!

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Anyone who knows Bob Kochly will tell you that he is one of the most "unpolitical" elected officials in our county. To say that his and his staff are only concerned about elections is a bit of a stretch if you know anything about the department. Kochly and his hard working staff always put the best interests of the public they serve as their top priority so it is doubtful that crime will go unpunished in their jurisdiction as long as there is enough in the budget to prosecute.

Chest thumping by the DA's office? Probably a bit, but they and the Sherrif's office never have enough funding in normal years to have as much staff as they would like to carry out their duties.

Don't be so cynical unless you have personal knowledge of those you critisize. Mass condemination of elected officials is very popular but believe it or not, there really are some very dedicated, honest and hard working politicians out there and Bob Kochly is one of them.

Anonymous said...

This is a scare tactic by Kochly. What does it mean not prosecuting DUI? Most DUI isn't prosecuted as in a trial. The DA files charges,so, yeah that prosecuting. But if you've ever been in courtroom when these cases are heard, the deputy DA just sits there, and the judge pretty much takes care of it. Giving you the huge fine and mandatory sentencing. They are not going to stop prosecuting criminals. This and the threat from the sheriffs office are a typical government union style scare tactics because no government office wants to admit they can do with less. They only want more. Sure, there are plenty of ridiculous social programs where cuts could be made.

Anonymous said...

The DA's office, and the sheriff's office, (and police and fire), have outlandishly generous salaries/benefits/retirements; and have largely been unwilling to compromise or sacrifice in tough budget times -- when others are. They play the "tough guys" backed by genuinely tough and extremely threatening unions. These jobs deserve fair compensation. Unions need to stand up for workers. But sadly, very sadly, what's happened today is macho strong-arming, to the demise of numerous programs and positions that help all kinds of people. Ironically, unions are doing more to hurt workers these days, than to help them. So hell bent on winning for their specifc members, they refuse to take the big or long view on behalf of ALL WORKERS. Sames goes for the DA's office. We all need to sacrifice a little to save the whole, the ship. Or we'll all go down.

Soccer Mom said...

Just some interesting tidbits,
from the SF Chronicle's Data Center of Contra Costa County employees earning more than $100,000 in 2008.

Bob Kochly is ranked no. 42 in county employee earnings, bringing in $224,555. Actually, he comes in behind Public Defender David Coleman (No. 24), who earned $236,286.

Among the top 10 earners are eight doctors with the county's Health Services department, and William Walker (No. 5), director of Health Services, and County Administrator John Cullen (No. 6).

No. 12 is a captain with Contra Costa Fire who earned $158,000 in overtime pay, bringing home a total $265,000.

Top earners in the DA's office, behind Kochly are Brian Baker, chief assistant ($205,144); Paul Sequeira ($194,0340); David Brown ($182,434); Mark Peterson (182,043); Dara Cashman ($176,774); Jose Marin ($167,113); Harold Jewett ($166,772); Jon Yamaguchi ($166,072); Daniel Cabral (166,058).

Gotta run, but we can post salaries for the Public Defender and Sheriff's Office if you want.

Anonymous said...

In these tough times, when EVERYONE is face job cuts, and all companies and public agencies are having to make drastic trims, including the schools, it doesn't sit well to hear the district attorney pulling this kind of move. Like Soccer Mom, I don't believe for in instant that he'll stop prosecuting DUIs. It's a time for all of us in the private (and public sectors) to be working together, pulling together. It's not time for one agency or company to be pulling this mine, mine, mine business.

Anonymous said...

And to Anon 9:32 p.m., Kochly is political. I've seen him in action on TV and news conferences.

Anonymous said...

Kochly and Rupf make well over $400,000 per year because they legaly double dip, meaning they receive their fully vested pension in addition to their salaries. Check out the 11/08/08 article about it in the Oakland Tribune and CCTimes.

Anonymous said...

Soccer Mom,
My husband is in the healthcare field and he doesn't even make $100K these days. With overhead and regulations, its not like it was 20 years ago. State and county will always make the big bucks. Private practice is tough out there.

Anonymous said...

Soccer Mom,

This is not grandstanding. This is the hard truth. Would you rather have DA's handling the DUI's or the rapes and murders? There will not be enough to go around and handle it all anymore.

These DA's are already one of the lowest paid group of prosecutors in the State. They have been doing status quo with less for years. Mr. Kochly is stating the truth about what he will need to do if the budget is cut as proposed.

You can criticize all you want, but until yo walk a mile in his shoes.....