More Opinion

COMMENTARY: The significance of the figure 2,223 and its relationship to Measure W and the city council

A conspiracy of silence with city officials and the court of justice to generate ill-gained revenue
The figure 2,223 represents the number of traffic stops by the Hollister Police Department in its 2015 report – an almost three-fold or 260 percent increase from 2010 (at 857 stops). In contrast, the violent crime rate as reported by the HPD for the same period (2015) is down, as is the property crime rate, essentially establishing an overall drop in the crime rate of 10 percent in 2014 and 24 percent in 5 years. On the other hand, a population increase in Hollister could conceivably explain the increase in the number of moving violations. However, and statistically speaking, the 260 percent increase in traffic stops cannot be directly attributed to a population growth of approximately 6 percent alone! So what explains the dramatic increase in moving violations and subsequent issuance of tickets? Normally, such an unusually highly number of traffic stops would raise eyebrows and prompt, at the very least, questions to be asked of the HPD by city politicians. Good governance and transparency would mandate an “oversight inquiry” into the unusually high number, not withstanding any conflicts of interest. Instead, the city council chooses to ignore the obvious. Measure W, on the other hand, will allocate 67 percent of sales tax revenue for the next 20 years to public safety, with a disproportionate amount (32 percent) going to police – irrespective of their own official figures showing a meaningful drop in overall crime for the third straight year - “The number of reported crimes in Hollister dropped 10 percent between 2013 and 2014, continuing a half-decade trend that has seen crime drop 24 percent, according to the Hollister Police Department...” The potential revenue generated from the HPD traffic stop policy and subsequent tickets issued (anywhere from $100-$1,000 per ticket), conservatively speaking, $223,000 to well over $2,223,000 annually. Passage of Measure W, coupled with the existing HPD traffic stop revenue-raising policy, will generate $48,920,000 in additional revenue - just on moving violations alone. This does not take into consideration the added court cost (fines, fees, penalties and surcharges) and any legal representation. In Ferguson, Missouri, the Ferguson Police Department unlawfully, dishonestly, and disproportionately targeted its elderly, poor, and black community for traffic stops and ticketing. Similar to Hollister, the city and the municipal court of Ferguson did not act as independent agencies safeguarding the rights of its citizens against the abusive “pattern and practice” of their police department. Moreover, as determined by the U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the FPD’s unlawful enforcement practices, i.e. traffic stop, found Ferguson and the municipal court in out-right conspiracy to raise ill-gotten revenue. More importantly for the upcoming local election, the official HPD figure of 2,223 traffic stops potentially represents a block of voters who would be more inclined to oppose this questionable policy and the long-term effects of Measure W, and the “conspiracy-of-silence” currently taking place with city officials and the court of justice to generate revenue. This self-serving policy to fill the city and HPD coffers on the backs of the most vulnerable of our city: the elderly, poor, homeless, and increasingly Hollister’s unemployed (currently at 9.9 percent) is indefensible. As a whole, this is a major violation of the public trust. This Hollister version of a Ferguson-type revenue-generating scheme is unacceptable; together with anything associated with it! See U.S. Department of Justice Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch's press conference on Ferguson Police and Municipal Court constitutional violations here.
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About:
Luis Burguillo (An Engaged and ...)

As a student of the media and journalism, I am interested in utilizing the medium in order to assure that the residents of the City of Hollister and San Benito County are alerted, informed and educated on the official actions of their elected officials who are sworn to preserve, protect and defend the US constitution and Bill of Rights. More importantly, their engagement in the political process will hold the leaders accountable for their actions/decisions and lead to an improved governance.

Comments

I attended a 'town hall' meeting hosted by Chief Westrick recently at a coffee shop downtown. The Chief is actually a really good resource to consider asking about these issues. The author should consider making an appointment to interview the Chief, review actual data generated by the police including the costs of human resources to staff the police department, equipment, vehicles and training. A review of the Hollister police department budget, accounting for revenue and expenditures, will likely render a different set of facts than is set forth in this commentary. 

I heard directly from the Chief the exact opposite of what the author claims to be factual; Hollister does not currently have a full complement of officers and is seeking to add officers in order to meet the municipal industry standard of officer to citizen ratio, traffic tickets do not generate significant revenue for the department, Measure W will maintain adequate staffing levels and help retain qualified officers rather than lose trained staff to other higher paying police departments.

I support Chief Westrick and applaud his leadership in our community. He and his team continue to earn national recognition and awards for innovative law enforcement solutions and excellent public service. 

In its second year of operation, the San Benito County Police Activities League's Junior Giants program attracted more than 700 kids to participate in the free recreation/literacy/anti-violence/nutrition program for boys and girls between the ages of 5-years to 18-years old. The program expanded into San Juan Bautista and also attracted some Aromas kids. This dedicated execution of recreational programming coupled with relationship-building between youth and police officers provides opportunities for positive role modeling and mentoring of at-risk youth and their families.

As such, Chief Westrick is steadfastly committed to the core principle of community policing. Community policing is a philosophy that promotes organizational strategies that support the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime. (Reference https://ric-zai-inc.com/Publications/cops-p157-pub.pdf)

Ferguson, Missouri and Hollister, California have nothing in common with respect to law enforcement; it is a false equivalency not founded on fact but rather a preternatural fear of law enforcement and then extrapolated into a perverse sense of logic in order to justify the bias of the commentary on a consistent basis in this forum. The predictable result of such paranoia and false logic may lead one to the equation of the inappropriate term "conspiracy of silence"; but that equation is nonsensical and wrong. 

Thank you Hollister Police Department for a job well done in protecting and serving our community. 

I urge other community members to Vote Yes on Measure W for a safer community in Hollister.

https://www.facebook.com/YesonmeasureW/?fref=ts

Something does not compute, the city revenue from "Vehicle Fines" was less than $120,000 for the last FY.  The forecast for next FY is even lower, $100,000.  I cannot tell if this includes the cost of processing the fine that is paid a private firm.  If it doesn't; then the people who are fined actually pay more than that, although that money does not go to the city.

For "Parking Citations" the city received about $29,000 additional for the last FY and project $50,000 for next year (most years they have been getting more than $50,000 in parking tickets and I bet most are downtown where the businesses are already having problems getting customers).  There are other odds and ends, all together they forecast $159,500 of revenue in Fines and Forfeitures, that's hardly millions.

There is about $21,000 more that are charges for services (non-vehicle citation collections and police reports, etc.).  Altogether, including payments for services, it's about $180,000 a year.

On the cost side the Police Department cost is just over $6,000,000 a year, so all the Fines and Forfeitures provide the General Fund with the equivalent to 2.6 percent of the Police Department budget. Vehicle Fines bring in only 1.7 percent of the police operating budget and Parking Citations bring in another half of that, 0.85 percent in round numbers.  The money is not reserved or earmarked for the Police Department. it goes to the General Fund.

No matter what side of the argument you are on, i do not believe that single year crime rates mean anything, I do not give the police credit when they drop and I do not blame them when they go up.  First, I think it takes many years to see a trend and second I think all the changes to the laws have a bigger impact on crime rates than anything else.  IMHO we need to use 5-year averages.

Finally, I would no more equate our Police Department to others on minority relations than I would equate our Hispanic residents to the members of the Columbian drug cartel.  This is an especially bad arena to do guilt by association. The HPD has a record of its own, it should stand or fall on that record.

I do not think thy are perfect, few, if any, organizations are, but their community relations are very good and overall the community trusts the HPD.  They get lots of help from the minority community, you don't  get that for free, you have to earn it.

The trust issue is actually more important than Measure W, although I support it.

Marty Richman

Submitted by Tod DuBois (John Galt) on

You keep banging the drum Luis. Measure W will entrench the tax collection of the single moms living in their cars trying to buy diapers, cleaning wipes, baby clothes, and maybe some laundry soap - ALL taxed by Measure W. At the same time the staff at city hall including the police are pocketing pensions of 90% of pay for life including health care!

Holy fat cat, Batman, I'm not sure this is the path to a healthy community. Maybe if we had some jobs and fewer commuters who just close their garage door and ignore any sense of community - things would be better. The Planners in City Hall keep generating the same copy cat housing projects making sure those commuters feel safe and don't have to see the homeless camps. 

This is less about fire and police costs and more about failed planning - so let's not blame the police and fire - we need those heroes. What we really need is a more competitive political arena and experienced management. We need progressives in office, not conservatives.  

Submitted by (Kristen) on

Do you even live in Hollister? As for the single moms, many of them received county and state funded assistance. Which, (are you ready for this) *gasp* is partially funded by the tax you're condemning!

Submitted by Tod DuBois (John Galt) on

Where will Bernie's generation come in on this? That is the $120,000,000 question. 

Rachelle - you out there? Where are the 400 Block Progressives on Measure W? 

Luis, I highly recommend you connect with the Berners like Rachelle - they have organization, skill and a voice - they can make the difference against the conservatives that want to buy more guns. 

Tod - thanks for checking in all the way from San Luis Obispo...again. Your opinion means so much to all of us who actually live and vote here in San Benito County. Heck, I'm sure you could syndicate the rights for your political opinion commentary and broadcast to the nation about how to think and vote and tax and govern. You could become the next Sean Hannity or maybe closer to the mark: Alex Jones!

We agree on this much - YOU ARE NOT SURE MEASURE W IS THE PATH TO A HEALTHY COMMUNITY.

Glad we got that out of the way. 

And who would know better about failed planning than you and your failed enterprise attempt at...where was it? Oh yes, THE 400 BLOCK. One might even draw the conclusion that your failure leads you to scold, opine and badger community leaders in this forum - ad nauseam forever and ever Amen - because you just can't let go of your own failed planning. Angry. Bitter. Vindictive. Come to think of it, those are some of the endearing qualities of a certain major party candidate I read about all the time. 

Maybe you should run for president of the United States?

 

Using Mr Burguillo's own data, statistically  it says that the more traffic stops made, the lower the crime rate in Hollister. And he is ranting against that? God Bless the Police Department for doing its job!

Unfortunately, his numbers are false. No where can he back up a single revenue number with a factual citation. If he has ever looked at the past, present, or future revenue stream for this city, he cannot find a single digit that supports his failed null hypothesis. Mr Burguillo and his soap box are quickly becoming synonymous with buffoonery.

I question the value of BenitoLink and its editors to allow distorted, falsified Commentary to run without peer review.

--William McCarey
 

Agreed and affirmed. In fact, I recently had a correspondence of this nature with Benito Link management due to my previous criticism of the veracity, editorial supervision and quality of factual data consistently espoused by Mr. Burguillo.

People are absolutely encouraged to express themselves in public forums to discuss their fear of law enforcement or conspiracy theories supporting UFO/alien abductions in our community. 

I'm troubled by the consistent, dark and apocalyptic tone of Hollister/San Benito County being a jurisdiction of law enforcement abuse of power coupled with a corrupted district attorney and superior court system forming a triumvirate authority that preys on the citizens of our community for fiscal gain. 

It's fine to broadcast manure to fertilize agricultural crops, but I take issue with manure being broadcast in a virtual forum in order to ostensibly inform community members about tin foil hat conspiracy theories involving community leaders that are simply not true. 

Bill, I'm sure you know the warning from Statistics 101, "Correlation is not cause and effect."

More importantly - and few laymen are paying attention to this - the changes in the laws and enforcement policies are skewing these statistics more than anything else.  If you drastically change the category of certain crimes form felonies to misdemeanors and from misdemeanors for minor violations, the statistics are likely to change too.  We have done that in California and will continue to do so.

I don't think I'm going out on a limb what I say that good enforcement policies reduce crime (so do other things).

Marty Richman   

 

Hi, Marty. Yep, correlation does not imply causation, nor does it exclude it, Stat 1A.  I was just throwing the author's "data" back at him in a more positive light.

Submitted by Tod DuBois (John Galt) on

LOL Michael, that buffoon former chief tried those same plays almost a decade ago. Time to grasp reality and use the facts. The 400 Block was 100% an RDA project - stop being a DA - I was just recruited to help, it was never my project or under my control.

Back to the facts - I own 3 acres in downtown Hollister, multiple properties in SBC and even a business in Hollister. So suggesting that I'm not tied to Hollister is more DA. I moved away because Hollister is going the route of Salinas. If you want to stay that's fine but doing more of the same politically and planning wise is a conservative, reactionary play - like the hateful types trying for the presidency. You actually may be on the wrong side, best reflect. 

 

 

Submitted by John Noble on

I think the real issue with the "number of stops" is being missed; how could only 857 tickets be issued in an entire year?

A little over 2 tickets a day (2.3), from a 24-hour organization, multiple officers on the road in ten/twelve hour shifts), be issued in an entire year?  That is extraordinarily low.  Doesn't seem to me that virtually everyone was following all the traffic laws back then...

As far as I can tell - and someone should correct me if I'm wrong - all the city incumbents and candidates except Mayoral candidate Mr. Keith Snow, support Measure W.  I'm actually not positive that Mr. Snow opposes Measure W, it just appears so on occasion, but his positions regularly contradict each other, so it's difficult to keep track.

For instance, Mr. Snow wanted to keep the 12 firefighter positions previously funded by the grant, but he did not specify how he would pay them.  If the 1 percent transaction tax were gone we could not even pay for the basic manning, much less any additional personnel.   My Mother used to say, "people in hell want ice water", lol. 

The Business Council recently endorsed Measure W and the Chamber of Commerce also supports it.  I'm not sure how many community business organizations, if any, oppose it.  Surely they have some skin iin the game.

The original issues were whether or not the police are collecting more thn $2 million in "Vehicle Fines" and abusing the minority community as a de facto policy. Neither is correct . The actual number from last year was less than $120,000 and community relations are pretty good.

Everything past that is an opinion and everybody has one (I have thousands).  Some opinions are based on facts, others are not.  To steal and paraphrase a famous quote; you are entitled to your own opinions, but not to your own facts.

Marty Richman

Submitted by Tod DuBois (John Galt) on

Luis - time to read this book: https://www.amazon.com/Stupid-White-Office-Anti-Politics-Boring/dp/19323...

Rachelle should get it as well. 

Time for the ol'fools like those mostly on this blog (including me) to step aside and let the new generation take control. The ridiculous misrepresentation we have in local government is as bad as it was in the South in the 60's. 

Well, Tod played the race card so we're finally out of real arguments for sure.

Ignacio Velazquez, Victor Gomez and  Mickie Solorio Luna will be interested to know that their "misrepresentation... is as bad as it was in the South in the 60's."

I abandon the battlefield, it's gotten far too contaminated for my taste (poison gas, you know).

Marty Richman

Submitted by Tod DuBois (John Galt) on

Marty, three Latino names in two decades and you are satisfied? - shameful. Count up the numbers and let's play cards. Quiltner, Avera, Westrick, "Rich" man, (that's my favorite), and a couple dozen more all wrong for the job. 

When I was growing up in Hollister four decades ago it was 51% Latino. It may have shifted a little because the white man commutes a lot, burns gas, ruins the environment, ruins family, only talk about family values. 

The world is changing it's time that we white fools abandoned the field. 

Submitted by (Andy) on

HPD should not be in the business of revenue generation. It should be about law enforcement. If revenue is made, so be it. Our mayor allowed the hiring of a Community Service Officer whose job is primarily parking enforcement which is supposed to be revenue neutral. As far as I can tell it has been a money loser. Parking enforcement is a downtown only thing. HPD ignores illegal parking all over the city as evidence by the number of blocked sidewalks, double paring, wrong side of the street and abandoned cars all over our neighborhoods. COH made downtown parking 3 hours not and, eliminated timed parking in the lots. Free parking for downtown employees. That should stop. Employees should pay a monthly fee to park all day in the lots. Why does COH subsidize this at taxpayer expense?

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