Looks like we're still playing the "Is he or isn't he an illegal alien?" game when it comes to Carlo Alberto Fuentes Flores, 42, accused of raping and murdering Paso Robles resident Nancy Woodrum, 62. You'd be forgiven for asking, "Who gives a shit? Is he guilty or not? Isn't that what really matters?"
Normally the answers would be, "No one should," "That's for a judge and jury to decide," and "Yes, that's all that matters." The problem is we live in U.S. President Donald J. Trump's America where legal status has turned into a political cudgel.
Could a tweet from Trump bias a jury pool on the other side of the country? I'm sure he'd like to think so! It certainly appears that defense attorneys for Flores believe a presidential tweet has the power to impede their ability to offer effective counsel to Flores, who did some painting work at Woodrum's home and was able to lead investigators to her buried body. Seems like those facts would have more bearing on his potential guilt than his legal status.
In any case, Flores' attorneys have requested a gag order because "there is a reasonable risk that the inflammatory nature of the facts in this case combined with the potential for extensive press coverage and poisonous social media commentary necessitate these protective orders."
The legal filing states, "The present political climate has become toxic for Mexican nationals," and goes on to quote Trump calling Mexicans "rapists and murderers." Another filing by the defense attorneys' expert witness, Bryan Edelman, "co-founder of Trial Innovations Inc., a national full-service jury research firm," goes into even more detail about Trump's past anti-Mexican sentiments, and Edelman even quotes a full paragraph from yours truly (The Shredder, "Vexed and Loving It," Jan. 31), followed by a page or so of social media comments from the community.
I don't know about those local social media commenters, but I feel an overwhelming flood of power going straight to my head! I can taint a potential jury pool? Who knew? I've got the power!!!
Look, what's basically happening is Flores' defense team is trying to keep the press from covering this trial, and neither they nor SLO County District Attorney Dan Dow is willing to actually reveal Flores' legal status. Why? Because if he's here illegally, it plays right into Trump's narrative. If it's true, though, don't we—the public p
aying for the trial—have the right to know?
Of course, the real tragedy here is that Flores' unknown status has turned the entire conversation away from the fact that a sweet, innocent, lovely woman with family, friends, and a business has been murdered. Thanks to politics, the victim seems to be of little concern, and that's sickening. Thanks, Trump!
Speaking of sickening, politics, and hypocrisy, both 1st District Supervisor John Peschong and 5th District Supervisor Debbie Arnold seem to have forgotten they're small government conservatives!
In Peschong's case, neighbors of a planned outdoor and greenhouse medical cannabis farm on York Mountain Road are worried about the 3-acre project, located about 400 feet from their houses, which—by the way—is within the county's setback rules for pot grows. Neighbors appealed the approved project, citing odor, water use, and security concerns. Now Peschong—who happily supports oil extraction and massive wine grape operations—is suddenly an environmentalist.
"There are impacts—visibility, water, neighborhood, air quality, compatibility, road impacts," Peschong said. "There are too many questions here tonight to move forward ... I think both sides here are good people. I believe it needs greater environmental analysis."
Ha, ha, ha! Yeah, OK Mr. Environmentalist. I wonder if 3 acres of grapes—or oil rigs—would have drawn the same concern?
In Arnold's case, she requested that county staff look into making water well drilling more onerous because she too wants to appease this vocal North County contingent. Aside from the regulated Paso Robles Groundwater Basin area, rural county residents have been free to drill water wells on their property, which seems like a very small government, freedom-first policy. But now she's ready for staff to draw up cumbersome rules that will affect all county residents! Hypocrisy much?
Personally, a few more rules on willy-nilly well drilling might be a fine idea, but that's a liberal stance. Arnold has her eye on her third term, but moves like this might set up the feared "third-term curse" in District 5! Voters don't like flip-flopping pols who'll do and say anything to win another chance to wield power.
And the Irony of the Week Award goes to eco-warriors from the Sierra Club and Center for Biological Diversity who turned up to protest the Plains All American Pipeline scoping hearings in Santa Barbara and Arroyo Grande at the end of February with signs saying, "No pipelines! No trucks!" and "Plains Pipeline go home!" They also had a giant whale made of ... wait for it ... plastic!
Um, I love your environmental stance and all, but without oil extraction, your inflatable pool toy prop wouldn't exist. Δ
The Shredder puts the "hip" into hypocrisy. Send ideas and comments to email@example.com.