Friday, March 18, 2016

Submitting to Sci Phi Journal

HyperGraphia has no known cure, thankfully.
I suffer from a strange condition called HyperGraphia, a constant compulsion to write, take notes, and otherwise put pen to paper. I hope they never find a cure.

My long-term goal is to write screenplays and see them turned into film. Alas, I have more ideas for stories than there is reasonable time to polish them into 90-page scripts. A very wise man I know, filmmaker Harris Done (Cinematographer for Trekkies among many others) told me that two of his screenwriter friends wrote a book, got it published, then got a screenplay deal to adapt their book.

I have decided to emulate their success, by writing short stories. In researching my article about Jack London's sci-fi works, I learned he imposed upon himself a 1000-word-per-day quota, which he maintained 6 days a week until he died (Sadly, he only published one book afterward).

"Write your way out of THIS, Joan Wilder!"
My good friend Joe Pitkin pointed me to Sci Phi Journal, interested in publishing on the philosophical edge of sci-fi. That sounds like just the thing for a Sci-Fi Historian like your friend and humble narrator.

If that sounds like the thing for you, too, you might be interested in checking out their submission guidelines:

Like my grandfather often told me, "You are never given a Dream without also being given the power to make it come true. However, you may have to work for it..."

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

article: Philip K Dick in Sonoma County

(originally published in North Bay Bohemian September 20, 2015)

Total Recall

How Philip K. Dick's North Bay experiences influenced his work

Philip K. Dick is the van Gogh of science fiction writers, striding the hazy line between genius and insanity. PKD, as his fans call him, never lived to see his writing transformed into such blockbuster films as Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report, The Adjustment Bureau and A Scanner Darkly. North Bay fans of his stories should know that he lived in the area, and his time here shows up in his work.

feature-1-d58ad8b9ec8ae943.jpgWhen Dick died in 1982 at age 53, his New York Times obituary described him as a "prolific, sometimes visionary science-fiction writer, whose multilayered stories probed the discrepancies between illusion and reality." While bureaucratic absurdities are Kafkaesque and governmental overreach is Orwellian, in the world Dick created, reality itself conspires against you.

Dick never lived to see the amazing and lasting legacy his labors gave birth to, but it's intriguing to follow his path through the North Bay to see how it influenced his skewed literary visions. Philip K. Dick was born in Chicago and grew up in Berkeley. He began visiting Sonoma County as a child and lived in Sonoma at 550 Chase St. with Joan Simpson in the summer of 1977.

A character with Simpson's name appears in Dick's short story "The Day Mr. Computer Fell Out of Its Tree." The two were introduced by Dick's childhood friend Ray Nelson, who co-authored The Ganymede Takeover with him. Nelson also wrote the short story "Eight O'clock in the Morning," which was the basis for the cult sci-fi film They Live.

Anthony Peake wrote in A Life of Philip K. Dick: The Man Who Remembered the Future that Dick attended the Cazadero Music Camp when he was 11. While there, he nearly drowned in the Russian River, and developed a lifelong fear of water.

During the late 1950s and early 1960s, Dick lived in Point Reyes Station with his third wife, Anne. It was there that he wrote The Man in the High Castle, his Hugo Award–winning masterpiece recently adapted into a TV series by Amazon Studios.

In a 2010 New York Times article on Dick's time in West Marin, the writer Jonathan Lethem said in an interview it was Dick's most productive time. Lethem included five novels from Dick's time in Point Reyes Station in the Library of America anthologies that he edited.

"The river of his literary ambitions—his interest in 'respectable' literature—joins the river of his guilty, disreputable, explosively imaginative pulp writing," Lethem told the Times. "It's the most important passage of his career—more masterpieces in a shorter period of time."

Anne Dick says in an email that Dick was a fan of Jack London. He visited Jack London State Park in Glen Ellen, and had read his works. London's 1908 dystopian novel, The Iron Heel, inspired 1984, according to Orwell biographer Michael Shelden, and probably struck a chord with Dick.
Sonoma County features in several of his short stories. "Exhibit Piece" mentions a camping trip to the Russian River, and a character in The Man Whose Teeth Were All Exactly Alike lived in Fountain Grove, now part of Santa Rosa. In "What'll We Do with Ragland Park?" a character owns Sonoma Valley vineyards.

Dick even mentions Luther Burbank, the plant (and marketing) wizard of Santa Rosa, in the short story "A Terran Odyssey":
   Scratching his nose, Hardy murmured, "What did you have in mind?"
   "Maybe I could find a mutant potato that would feed everybody in the world."
   "Just one potato?"
   "I mean a type of potato. Maybe I could become a plant breeder, like Luther Burbank. There must be millions of freak plants growing around out in the country, like there's all these freak animals and funny people here in the city."
   Hardy said, "Maybe you could locate an intelligent bean."
   "I'm not joking about this," Stuart said quietly.

The story later became the 1965 book Dr. Bloodmoney, a post-apocalyptic novel that features a self-governing community in West Marin menaced by Hoppy Harrington, a Thalidomide baby missing all of his limbs who gets around with servo-powered prosthetics and aggressive powers of psychokinesis.

The town of Sonoma is headquarters for the Rhipodian Society in Dick's semi-autobiographical novel VALIS ("Vast Active Living Intelligence System"). VALIS is based on a series of mystical visions that Dick had between February and March 1974 while living in Santa Ana, which he called the "2-3-74" or "Pink Light" experience. Robert Crumb, of Zap Comix fame, illustrated a version of the event that he titled "The Religious Experience of Philip K. Dick" in Weirdo issue 17. Dick continued writing about this experience for the rest of his life, trying to interpret and explain it to himself. His voluminous notes were stored in a home in Glen Ellen and published posthumously as his 944-page Exegesis.

The Pink Light experience begins with Dick in great pain after having his wisdom teeth removed. When the pharmacy delivered his medication, he opened the door and light reflected off the young delivery woman's fish medallion. Mesmerized, he asked what it was, and she explained it was a symbol of the early Christians.

Dick said he then entered a time-slip and felt himself co-existing in ancient Rome just after the crucifixion. Another personality from that era took him over for about a year. In his shorthand notes, he called our world the Black Iron Prison and wrote repeatedly, "The [Roman] Empire never ended."

Later, he said a pink light flashed in his eyes and beamed information into his brain, telling him his son had a congenital hernia and needed immediate surgery. Dick was right. After taking his son to the hospital, he was told by a doctor that his child could have died at any time.
Information kept flooding into Dick's brain, which he thought came from an ancient alien satellite orbiting our planet. The Pink Light experience formed the basis of VALIS and The Divine Invasion, and the film Radio Free Albemuth directed by John Alan Simon.

In 1978, Dick attended the Octocon II convention in Santa Rosa. The guest of honor was Dune author Frank Herbert, who wrote and took photos for the Press Democrat from 1949 to 1953. While it is unclear whether Dick connected with Herbert at that convention, he definitely met Robert Anton Wilson, author of The Illuminatus! Trilogy.

Wilson had had his own mystical experience, which he thought came from the star Sirius, around the same time as Dick had his visions. The two discussed their common experiences at the Octocon convention.

In his foreword to the first book in the Cosmic Trigger trilogy, Wilson describes their conversation: "My impression was that he was worried his experience was a temporary insanity, and was trying to figure out if I was nutty, too. . . . The parallels to my own experience are numerous, but so are the differences. If the same source was beaming ideas to both Phil and me, the messages got our individual flavors mixed into them as we decoded the signals." One of Dick's characters in VALIS even mentions having read Cosmic Trigger.

The world that Dick knew has slowly transformed into a Phildickian story. Paranoid PKD never imagined the voluntary popularity of data mines like Facebook. Smartphones spying on their owners is predictably Orwellian; the twist is now they are must-have status symbols.
Dick would probably be pleasantly surprised to see solar-powered homes sprouting like mushrooms across the county, but the near-monopolistic Pacific Gas & Electric's effort to cut compensation for residential solar power generators and increase fees for solar customers has a faintly Phildickian feel.

Maybe he wasn't so paranoid after all.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

article: Frank Herbert ("Dune") in Santa Rosa

(Originally published in North Bay Bohemian Feb. 4, 2015)

Sci-Fi Pioneer
'Dune' author Frank Herbert's early career in Santa Rosa

Santa Rosa is world-famous for its plant wizards and beer alchemists, but few people know its place in science fiction history.
Photo courtesy of Jack Vance estate

Long before Frank Herbert published his masterpiece Dune in 1965 he lived in Santa Rosa when his first sci-fi short story got printed in 1952. Traces of Santa Rosa can be found throughout his later books, including Dune.

Herbert moved to Santa Rosa in April 1949 with his wife, Beverly, and two-year-old son, Brian. They were soon joined by Bruce, born two years later. Herbert worked for the Press Democrat for four years as a photojournalist, writing a wide variety of features, columns and news articles—including one about the very first Doyle Scholarship Fund check presented to Santa Rosa Junior College. The Herbert family moved to Lake Chapala, Mexico, with sci-fi writer Jack Vance in September 1953 to start a writer's colony.

My search for this lost archive of Frank Herbert articles started when SRJC journalism instructor Anne Belden took our news-gathering class on a field trip to the Press Democrat last year. I asked the editors if they had an index of the articles Herbert wrote while working there.

"We haven't digitized issues going that far back," editor Jim Sweeney said. "But I, for one, would be interested in seeing that. Maybe we'll have an intern do that some day."

"OK, you talked me into it," I quipped.

At the time, I was just joking, but later I started taking the idea seriously. My research began last summer when Sweeney let me access the paper's news clip and microfilm archives, but that fall I took a break for two more semesters to write for SRJC's Oak Leaf News.

My assignment: covering the trial of the campus cop caught pilfering a quarter-million dollars from SRJC parking meters. I attended each of Jeffrey Holzworth's courtroom appearances for three semesters, up to his May 29 sentencing. Though I never got paid, I earned a total of three news writing awards.

With Holzworth behind bars, I headed to the Sonoma County History and Genealogy Library to finish scrolling through rolls and rolls of microfilm. In total, my research uncovered 138 articles and more than 200 photographs by Herbert during the four years he lived and worked in Santa Rosa.

The Press Democrat's first Herbert byline appeared April 25, 1949: "14-Year-Old Bride Misses Death by Hair's Breadth!" His first photo-feature appeared May 22 of that year with the epic title, "The Things You Find in the Garbage . . . Old Automobiles, a Human Skull, Money, Silverware, All in Day's Work at the Dump."

Herbert wrote articles with spicy titles like "Location of Freeway Signs Confuses Many Motorists" and "Judge Greene Dislikes Courtroom." Several of his articles highlight local features of Sonoma County: the Gravenstein apple crop, the drop in egg prices, the county spelling bee and a series of articles about the telephone company's plans to upgrade to dial-phone technology. There is even a photograph of Santa Claus sitting on Herbert's lap.

SRJC is featured in five of Frank Herbert's photos and articles. He photographed a Day Under the Oaks fashion show and a visit to the Bear Cubs football team by Frankie Albert, 49ers quarterback and later head coach.

The craft-beer movement in Santa Rosa is older than people think, and Herbert documented it himself. His photos of Courthouse Square show the old Grace Brothers Brewing sign, proudly boasting, "A Sonoma County Product." Herbert's photo of a harvester is captioned, "Truckload of hop vines is swung into automatic stripper at W. G. Dutton Ranch on West College Ave."

Herbert explored a "surrealist extension into the fourth dimension" in his Aug. 25, 1950, article, "To One Part Verne, Add Galley of Zomb, Drop in Heathcliffe and expect Occidental." Herbert's twist on a drive in the country could be considered his very first sci-fi story, years before his "Looking for Something" got published in the April 1952 issue of Startling Stories magazine.

Santa Rosa's influence on Herbert shows in his later works. Before Dune became a bestselling series, he published The Santaroga Barrier in 1968, about a small town in Northern California with an oddly familiar name.

There are hints of elements or characters in Dune in Herbert's early Press Democrat articles: a family of model-train enthusiasts voice-controlled their train set in December 1949 with a "weird device"—like the Bene Gesserit controlling people with "the Voice." That same month he wrote about decorating and lighting the Cedar of Lebanon tree at Luther Burbank's Home & Gardens, where the "plant wizard" is buried by his greenhouse—like Dune planetologist Liet-Kynes, buried in the same sands he tried to transform.

Inspiration for Baron Harkonnen's anti-gravity belt.
Herbert rode in an Air Force jet May 1950 and said the distance from Santa Rosa to the airbase that took 45 minutes for him to drive only took four minutes by jet. "I am still trying to accustom my mind to a new conception of time and distance"—like Dune's Guild Navigators folding space.

Most prescient of all these lost archives is Herbert's July 1952 photo of 685-pound "Tiny" Atkins, bedridden after a car accident, loaded bed-and-all by five men into a moving van. Watching their efforts, the budding sci-fi writer must have imagined some sort of gadget to help lift the man—just like Baron Harkonnen's anti-gravity suspensor belts.

I could write a book about all the fascinating Herbert articles I discovered. In fact, I am; I'm calling it Frank Herbert's Lost Archives, Vol.1: The Santa Rosa Press Democrat 1949–53. It's dedicated to my brother Robert the Magician, who died this summer after surviving AIDS for 18 years.

The sands of time forget many things, but now people will remember that Herbert's spice flowed from Santa Rosa

Returning after my brother's death

My brother Robert the Magician died last summer after surviving AIDS for 18 years. I had been trying to publish my Frank Herbert book before he died, which I worked on at his bedside, but he faded away too quickly at the end. He was a great human being with a great heart, and I miss him every day.

My brother Robert the Magician, right before his death.
I got a new a night job and am working on a couple screenplays. I am setting up a series of How-To videos, which combines several of my talents and interests. Subjects will range from airbrush techniques and homemade synthesizers to building robots with Arduino microcontroller boards. More news to follow.

There is even talk of starting the Sonoma Synthesizer Society, and hosting a homemade instrument festival this summer. There will be a how-to video about that, too.

So, I took a break after my brother's death, but now I'm back and swinging for the fences.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Frank Herbert's photo of Brian Herbert

Sci-fi writer Brian Herbert as a child
My grandfather used to say, "I found it in the next-to-the-last place I looked!"

I finished my microfilm research last month, compiling all the newspaper articles written by Frank Herbert between 1949 and 1953, while working for The Santa Rosa Press Democrat. I had to go back and re-shoot a few pages, since they were too blurry on the edges to read. I finished that, too, but figured since I was already at the Genealogical and Historical Annex, I should look around to see what else was available.

I found another drawer of microfilm for The Evening Press, the evening version of The Press Democrat. They put out two newspapers in the same day; sometimes the exact same article would appear in both, but sometimes an article or photo would appear in one and not the other.

So earlier today I found a previously-undiscovered photo that Frank Herbert took of his son Brain, long before either of them became famous as sci-fi writers. If you stand at the right angle, and squint your eyes just right, you can see the future in this photograph.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

IndieGogo: Frank Herbert's Lost Archives, vol.1

I'm starting my IndieGogoproject to publish 1,000 copies of "Frank Herbert's Lost Archives, vol. 1."

I have completed the "research" phase of this compilation,and discovered 135 new articles written "by Frank Herbert." There were over 200 photographs taken "by Frank Herbert," with about half uncredited articles (but probably written by him). About half are photos for articles by other writers, or are "stand-alone" photos.

I have finished organizing and categorizing them all, and am in the process of "keying-in" these articles, as Frank Herbert's personal scribe. I'm over halfway done with that phase, and starting on the layout. I expect this book to be in stockings by Christmas.

More details to follow.

On a related note, there is an effort to name a Tacoma park after Frank Herbert. Now I know where to go for my next documentary.

Monday, June 30, 2014

article: Holzworth quartered in San Quentin

[originally published in Oak Leaf News June 30, 2014]

Campus cop and parking meter pilferer Jeffrey Scott Holzworth received four years in prison at his May 29 sentencing for embezzling over $285,000 from Santa Rosa Junior College. As part of a plea deal, Holzworth pleaded guilty to one enhanced felony charge of grand theft and eleven felony charges of receiving stolen property. Deputies led a handcuffed Holzworth from  the courtroom to begin serving his prison term at San Quentin.

Holzworth led out of the courtroom to San Quantin prison.
The former 28-year veteran SRJC District Police officer held sole unsupervised responsibility for collecting cash from campus parking lots in Santa Rosa, Petaluma and Windsor. SRJC's parking revenue nearly doubled after Holzworth's arrest, increasing from $215,805 in 2012 to $428,554 in 2013.

Holzworth's wife Karen still faces trial for one felony charge and one misdemeanor charge of receving stolen property and one charge of acting as an accessory.

Coworkers brought Holzworth's crimes to the attention of new SRJC District Police chief Matthew McCaffrey, less than a month after his appointment. The new chief met Nov. 1, 2012 with Santa Rosa Police detectives who investigated and then arrested Holzworth after his shift at SRJC District Police headquarters Nov. 28.

McCaffrey spoke on behalf of the college at Holzworth's May 29 sentencing and compared his situation to a doctor who discovers and removes a patient's cancer before it can spread. The patient is healthier than before, but with scars. "Trust is hard to earn, but easy to lose," McCaffrey said. "When Jeff Holzworth chose to steal money, while on duty and in uniform, he not only disgraced the badge and betrayed the oath he swore to when he was hired as a police officer, he severely damaged the reputation of the police department."

SRJC received about $286,000 in reimbursement from its insurance carrier. "However," McCaffrey said, "This amount only accounts for the cash that laundered through the banks Jeff used and that there is a record of. Not only did Jeff steal thousands of dollars from the college, he stole that trust with the community we have worked so hard to build."

Snide comments about taking money from permit machines continue to plague SRJC field officers, McCaffrey said. "Jeff betrayed his coworkers, many of whom considered him a friend, and caused some of them the stress and awkwardness of having to testify against him."

"I hope the court subscribes to the philosophy that peace officers must be held to a higher standard than the communities they serve," McCaffrey said. "This was not an accident. This was not someone trying to do the right thing who made a mistake. This was a cold, calculated, premeditated crime that Jeff had turned into a profession."

Assistant District Attorney Amy Ariyoshi said no unusual circumstances exist to grant Holzworth probation instead of prison time. "It was just greed, to maintain a certain lifestyle," Ariyoshi said. "No sickly, dying family members to take care of; just going to Vegas two or three times a year, maintaining his home and lifestyle - at the cost of SRJC."

"If anybody worked for a prison sentence, it's Holzworth," Ariyoshi said. "To wake up every day and recommit to do this takes thought and planning."

Holzworth's defense attorney Joe Passalacqua argued for probation so Holzworth could give back to the community he took from. Holzworth "accepted responsibility from day one," Passalacqua said, and Holzworth has no prior criminal history other than a DUI at 21 years old. Passalacqua urged consideration of 20 letters supporting Holzworth's character. "Did he fool all those people, or did he just stray off the path?" Passalacqua said.

"What is the proper punishment?" Passalacqua said; Holzworth took full responsibility for his actions and expressed his remorse. He will have a hard time after prison repaying his financial debt with the stigma as a "dirty cop" and convicted felon. "No one wants to hire him," Passalacqua said.

When SRPD detectives asked Holzworth the motivation behind his crimes, Passalacqua said his client answered, "Honestly, greed." Holzworth wanted money in his pocket, to take his family out to dinners and to spoil his daughters. Passalacqua said an appropriate punishment was a short, local jail term followed by "numerous hours" of restorative punishment. "The community benefits by ordering him to give back, with a seven-year prison term held over his head," Passalacqua said.

Holzworth stood up for a brief statement to the court. Holzworth apologized for his actions, asked the court for a second chance and said he was "truly sorry."

Judge Jamie Thistlethwaite said she normally believes in rehabilitation, "Unfortunately, your actions have gone far beyond the pale." Thistlethwaite's sentence denied probation, imposed a four-year prison term and ordered repayment of SRJC's documented loss. "I was very much considering a seven-year maximum," Thistlethwaite said. Two female deputies handcuffed Holzworth, the judge finished explaining the details of the sentencing, then deputies led Holzworth out of the courtroom for transportation to San Quentin prison.

Holzworth received two years in prison for grand theft, plus two consecutive years for the "white collar crime" enhancement of embezzling an amount over $100,000. Eleven charges of receiving stolen property each earned two years, to be served concurrently with the grand theft charge.

Holzworth's sentence requires repayment of $285,453.49 to Zurich Recovery Service. SRJC President Dr. Frank Chong said by email, "Through the initiative and leadership of Doug Roberts, VP of Finance and Business Services, SRJC had fraud insurance and we were able to receive a check from our insurance company for the documented loss."

Ariyoshi described the judge's sentence as well-deserved and well-earned. "Yes. He earned it," Ariyoshi said.

Outside the courtroom Passalacqua said, "He got treated just like any other citizen, and he has to pay for his crimes. He took responsibility for his actions and the judge punished him for them."

McCaffrey said outside the courtroom what bothered the Santa Rosa Police detectives most during their investigation wasn't just that Holzworth stole money while on duty and in uniform; it was all he seemed to do, McCaffrey was told.

McCaffrey said insurance money will buy new computerized permit machines with software to account for "every cent going in and out." Collecting money from campus parking lots now involves the "buddy system," always with a second person present. While the new collection method protects SRJC parking funds, "It's also protecting our employees from allegations," McCaffrey said.

SRJC Student Trustee Robert Edmonds said the Board of Trustees plan to buy 33 more computerized parking permit machines from VenTek International of Petaluma, the manufacturers of the permit machines Holzworth exploited. In 2003 VenTek Senior Engineer Layton Eastridge was convicted of stealing from over 100 tickets machines CalTrain hired him to maintain, circumventing the same internal security measures he helped design.

VenTek International repeatedly declined to answer whether VenTek warned their customers to update cash collection procedures after Eastridge's embezzlement exposed an exploitable vulnerablity.

"If there's a known security flaw in a cash system you're selling to people, and you know about the flaw, you have a responsibility to tell your customers about it," Edmonds said. "If it could've been avoided with some software or hardware fix, the District should pursue some remedy for the financial loss."

Holzworth will collect his police pension from SRJC. He retired a month after his arrest, just a couple days before a new law took effect which denies pensions to public employees convicted of on-the-job felonies. By retiring before the new law's enactment, none of his prior criminal activity counts against his retirement fund. "It's morally reprehensible that he would receive his pension, and the District should seek some legal remedy to avoid paying," Edmonds said.

Chong said, "We have learned from this experience and have put safeguards into place to prevent this from occurring again. I am hoping we can put this terrible episode at the college behind us."

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Frank Herbert and Santa Claus

Now that Finals are over, and the Holzworth trial, I have more time to research my  Frank Herbert project, "Behind the Santaroga Barrier." I have been scanning the microfilm at the local genealogical library for newspaper articles written before he became a best-selling sci-fi writer. From 1949 to 1953 he lived in northern California Santa Rosa and wrote for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. His first sci-fi short story got published in April 1953, so these journalistic articles are the practice swings, so to speak, of the future home run king.

I have found lots of interesting things while scanning the rolls of microfilm, to be included in my book, but I found something amazing I had to include. Finding it was more than just an Easter egg - it was an early Christmas present. The front page December 24, 1949 featured a photo of Santa Claus sitting on a beardless Frank Herbert's lap.

"What Santa Wants In HIS Stocking" by Frank Herbert. What an encouraging treasure to discover so early in my research...

For the last three semesters at SRJC I have covered the trial of the 28-year veteran campus cop who got caught pilfering $286,000 from campus parking machines. He held sole responsibility without oversight of collecting money from machines at all campuses in the county. Jeffrey Holzworth pleaded guilty to eleven misdemeanor charges of possession of stolen property and one felony charge of theft by embezzlement, enhanced for an amount over $100,000. He sentenced to four years in prison right after finals, and the great spiral has brought me back again to my Frank Herbert project.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

article: Sentencing set for parking meter pilferer

[originally published in Oak Leaf News May 1, 2014]

Former campus cop Jeffrey Holzworth faces sentencing May 29 for stealing $286,000 from parking meters at Santa Rosa Junior College.
The 28-year veteran SRJC District Police officer accepted a plea deal at his April 2 preliminary hearing; in exchange for a possible maximum four years in prison, Holzworth pleaded guilty to 11 charges of receiving stolen property and one charge of grand theft embezzlement, enhanced for an amount over $150,000.
Holzworth held sole unsupervised responsibility to collect to money from campus parking machines.
Holzworth’s wife Karen continues to trial facing two counts of receiving stolen property and one count of acting as an accessory.
Bank records show both Holzworths regularly made deposit-withdrawals of large amounts of quarters and $1 and $5 bills in exchange for larger bills. Holzworth told bank employees he owned a vending machine company to explain his frequent exchanges of large amounts of small bills.
Money collected from SRJC parking machines increased from $215,805 the year before Holzworth’s arrest up to $428,554 the following year. “Almost exactly double,” said Student Trustee Robert Edmonds. “Almost like he was taking 50 percent and leaving 50 percent. As far as I know, enrollment hasn’t changed significantly in that time, not by a margin of two-to-one.”
SRJC will pay Holzworth’s pension since he retired one day before a law took effect to punish public employees convicted of on-the-job felonies. “It is morally reprehensible that he would receive his pension,” Edmonds said. “The District should seek some legal remedy to avoid paying. The District is considering raising parking fees for students and the fact Holzworth was allowed to steal student funds for so many years should be considered in any decision to raise parking fees for students.”
Holzworth graduated from SRJC’s police academy and spent two years as a student cadet before joining SRJC’s brand-new police force in 1984.
SRJC District Police Chief Matthew McCaffrey said he will attend Holzworth’s sentencing hearing. McCaffrey called Santa Rosa Police detectives Nov. 1, 2012, less than a month after assuming command, after Holzworth’s coworkers found stacks of cash in his duffle bag and his truck’s center console. SRPD detectives found $13,759.67 in quarters and $1 and $5 bills in Holzworth’s house, vehicles and work locker.
Holzworth’s sentencing hearing at 9 a.m. May 29 in courtroom 2 at Sonoma County Superior Court is open to the public.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

article: 420 reasons to Legalize

[originally published in Oak Leaf News April 14, 2014]
by Erik Jorgensen, Oak Leaf News Cannabis Correspondent

2013 Emerald Cup display at Sonoma County Fairgrounds
Writing about marijuana in a college newspaper is too passé to be cliché. Here in northern California it’s not news to write about medical marijuana dispensaries; Oak Leaf’s advertisers say it all.
Then a couple weeks ago State Senator Leland Yee got arrested on corruption charges for influencing marijuana legislation, among other things, which opened a can of worms. I’m not just pro-Legalization of cannabis; I’m anti- prohibitionist politician-parodies and privately-prison profiteers.
Yee took bribes to pass a reeferendum requiring a token on-site doctor at medical marijuana dispensaries, weeding out competition from smaller mom-and-pot shops. FBI narcs approached Yee posing as budding ganjapreneurs from Arizona with high hopes of growing into “the ‘Anheuser-Busch’ of medical marijuana” in California. Yee accepted about $20,00 into his Secretary of State campaign fund, telling undercover agents he could help with ballot initiatives in that role.
Now the smoke has cleared, Yee’s prohibitionism smells as dubious as a bag of catnip. When Yee legislated against firearms but got caught brokering a $2.5 million arms deal between FBI agents and terrorist groups, he profiteered from the same black market he legislated to maintain. Yee’s both-guns-blazing buzzkill against violent videogames would’ve created a demand for pirated videogames, but he has undermined his own motives.
If you have ever listened to an herbophile talk, eventually you’ll hear their paranoid delusion of a corporate conspiracy against cannabis by big businesses. Cannabis is the Latin name for plants like hemp, higher in useful fiber, and marijuana, with higher levels of active ingredient THC. Marijuana, they’ll say, is collateral damage in the War on Hemp waged by lobbyists for petroleum companies, pharmaceuticals, alcohol, tobacco, cotton, the private prison industry and I forget what else. You might wonder what they’ve been smoking until Yee disproved their paranoia by providing proof of a plot.
Even worse, his “reverse-Robin Hood” sold out boot-strappy Californians for such a small contribution into his campaign fund. Not only is Yee corrupt, he doesn’t understand the value of a buck. I’m not sure which is worse.
2013 Emerald Cup entree #222.
Alcohol Prohibition did little but organize crime and corrupt police and politicians. The 21st Amendment generated tax revenue and created jobs. Last year Sonoma County’s wineries makers corked $1.2 billion while craft breweries bottled up another $123 million. Local marijuana growers trim their money trees by the sackful – but the federal government won’t let them pay taxes on it.
Marijuana is classified by the Food and Drug Administration as a Schedule 1 substance with zero medical value. The FDA only approves research intended to prove marijuana’s harmfulness. Cherry-picked scientific “methodology” is worse than worthless; it is misleading government propaganda.
The White House is eager to move America forward into the 18th century, when George Washington and our founding fathers grew hemp. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said at an April 4, 2013 congressional budget hearing. “We’d be more than glad to work with Congress if there is a desire to look at and reexamine how the drug is scheduled,”
2013 Emerald Cup entrees.
Colorado and Washington both puff-puff passed full legalization of recreational marijuana this year. Just last week Maryland decriminalized marijuana possession of 10 grams or less – barely enough for a joint, but a clear sign of marijuana’s increasingly lower legal priority among courts, police and the general public.
Twenty-one states now allow medical marijuana. Utah became the newest by passing “Charlee’s Law” March 13, 2014, named after the 6-year-old girl who died two days later. The new law allows concentrated CBD oil to be imported from Colorado to relieve severe epileptic seizures in children. While it doesn’t allow local cultivation, it’s a baby step in the right direction. Next thing you know, Utah will legalize dancing.
Mormon president Brigham Young had Utah pioneers growing hemp around Salt Lake City by 1853. The High Priest wrote in his Journal of Discourses that Utah was perfect for growing hemp, “It is better for each of us to raise about ten acres of wheat, and then devote the rest of our time to flax and hemp.” I guess that makes him the Johnny Appleseed of cannabis in Utah.

While I don’t usually agree with Mormon doctrine, Genesis 1:29 tells us, “God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed which is upon the face of all the earth.” If a Creator intelligently designed cannabis, what does that reveal about Prohibitionists like Yee?

article: GUILTY: Holzworth accept plea deal

[originally published in Oak Leaf News April 14, 2014]
by Erik Jorgensen, Courtroom Correspondent

Jeffrey and Karen Holzworth's  Feb. 20, 2013 arraignment.
Former campus cop Jeffrey Holzworth pleaded guilty to all charges of stealing $286,000 from Santa Rosa Junior College parking funds before his April 2, 2014 preliminary hearing. Holzworth accepted a plea deal for all 11 charges of receiving stolen property and one charge of grand theft by embezzlement, in exchange for a maximum four years in prison.
Judge Jamie Thistlethwaite accepted Holzworth’s plea deal, then continued the preliminary hearing for Holzworth’s wife Karen, facing charges of receiving stolen property and acting as an accessory.
The former 28-year veteran SRJC District Police held sole responsibility, without oversight, of collecting money from parking permit machines at all SRJC campuses. Prosecutors had bank records going back to 2005 of Holzworth’s suspicious cash deposit.
SRJC president Dr. Frank Chong said, “We have learned from this experience and have put safeguards in place to prevent this from occurring again.” Chong said Doug Roberts VP of finance and business services, obtained fraud insurance and SRJC has been reimbursed for the documented loss.
Co-worker Sgt. Stephen Potter observed bundled bills in the center console of Holzworth’s private vehicle and told his superiors. New SRJC District Police Chief Matthew McCaffrey contacted to Santa Rosa Police detective Mark Azzouni, who obtained two search warrants issued to Azzouni on Nov. 13, 2012 to place GPS trackers on Holzworth’s vehicles and check his credit report. Azzouni wrote in his affidavit, “It is my belief that Holzworth was removing monies from the parking permit machines and erasing the machines’ memory with [his] laptop computer,”
Before Holzworth’s April 2 preliminary hearing began, prosecution and defense attorneys conferred in Thistlethwaite’s chambers. At 10:36 a.m. Holzworth pleaded guilty to all felony charges, in exchange for a possible maximum sentence of four years in prison.
Passalacqua said outside the courtroom he will argue for probation. Holzworth has no prior criminal history, took full responsibility for a non-violent offense and “a contributing member to society and SRJC for some 28 years, until this last unfortunate financial situation came up.”
The preliminary hearing against Karen Holzworth continued without a break after Holzworth’s plea deal. Azzouni testified detectives found cash stashed “in all parts of the house;” in the kitchen, bedroom, garage, attic and crawlspace.
Records from two banks going back to 2005 showed both Holzworths regularly made deposit-withdrawals of large amounts of small bills exchanged for larger bills.
After a two-hour recess, Azzouni testified about 22 recorded jailhouse phone calls between the Holzworths and played. In one recording, “You told me to stop doing it, I didn’t listen. It’s all on me,” Holzworth said.
“Yes, but I knew about it so doesn’t that make it on me, too?” Karen said.
Boisseau said the recorded calls only showed Karen knew Holzworth stole from his job. “The prosecution’s case is built on a house of sand. They need more [proof] than just knowledge and participation.” Boisseau said the spouses had not been getting along for years except for living in the same house, and Holzworth had affairs with co-workers and went “to hookers.”
Thistlethwaite ruled Karen deposited cash with knowledge Holzworth “stole hand over fist from SRJC.” Karen continues to trial for one count of acting as an accessory, but Thistlethwaite dropped one of Karen’s three felony charges of receiving stolen property and reduced one to a misdemeanor.
The next step in Karen’s trial is a filing of information hearing 9 a.m. April 14.
Holzworth’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. May 29 in courtroom 2.

“I’m hoping we can put this terrible episode at the college behind us,” Chong said.