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Reisig Endorsement Raises Concerns About Provenza

As the race for District 4 County Supervisor begins to take shape, we are surprised to see incumbent Jim Provenza advertise that he is “proud to have [Yolo DA] Jeff Reisig's endorsement.”

To us, it doesn't feel that long ago that we were fighting to bring change to the Yolo DA's office, and so naturally we view Supervisor Provenza's embrace of DA Reisig with concern.

Lately (especially since the closer-than-expected 2018 election), DA Reisig has tried to fashion himself as a “progressive prosecutor.” We find this hard to square with his record of fighting progressive reform.

For example, we have read a lot about the Yolo DA's office expunging cannabis-related convictions. However, what often gets left out of the coverage and press releases is that these expungements are required by the passage of Proposition 64, a proposition made law by a majority of the voters, and one which DA Reisig opposed when it was on the ballot.

But to many of us this is not just a matter of public policy. We’ve also seen firsthand the impact that draconian policies and outright misconduct in the DA’s office have had on community members and their families in Yolo County.

Many of us stood with Yolo County Board of Education candidate Maria Grijalva when DA Reisig publicly accused her of “campaign finance violations,” just as absentee ballots were released and as her election was starting, only to see the charges completely “withdrawn” two weeks later after the political damage had been done. It is deeply concerning to us that DA Reisig used his public office to attack a respected community leader and political rival (Maria was Dean Johansson’s top donor) of criminal activity without any evidence. We believe this is a clear abuse of power.

Several of us were also there when Patti Pape spoke out in May 2018 about the tragic death of her son Eric Pape. Eric was accused of injuring a nurse while he himself was in the midst of a mental health crisis after being committed to Sutter Hospital in January 2017. Despite the obvious mitigating circumstances and Eric’s sincere desire to seek mental health treatment, the Yolo DA’s office vigorously pursued felony charges against Eric for over a year. According to Eric’s mother Patti, Eric’s “self-worth [and] his future were being held hostage by the courts, and he saw no hope,” and “the stress of his felony trial contributed to his eventual suicide.”

And for a few of us, this goes back much further, to April 2009 and the death of a young farm worker named Luis Gutierrez. Luis was walking home to meet his mother for lunch when he was stopped by plainclothes officers in the Yolo County Gang Task Force because his appearance was “consistent” with that of “known gang members.” Luis ran away from the plainclothes officers, who proceeded to chase him and eventually shot him in the back. The officers claim that Luis threatened them with a knife sometime after he started running away. The Yolo DA’s office had a legal and moral responsibility to investigate this incident and to ensure that justice was served. Instead they cleared all of the officers of any wrongdoing and released a report that — in the words of retired California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso — “raised more questions than answers.”

Tragically this story repeated itself in February 2017 when Michael Barrera died after being beaten and repeatedly tased by Woodland police officers. According to the DA’s own report, Michael became unresponsive while handcuffed, face down in the mud, with an officer’s knee pressed against his shoulder, and shortly after telling the officers that he couldn’t breath. He never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead less than an hour later. Yet, once again the District Attorney’s office cleared the officers, and Michael’s family is still fighting for justice with a federal civil rights lawsuit.

Endorsements matter. They help establish networks of trust that many voters find useful in making their decisions. So when a candidate asking for our vote advertises an endorsement for or by DA Jeff Reisig, it raises concern that they don’t know or don’t care about the injustices we have witnessed in our local criminal justice system. We urge all candidates seeking to represent residents of Yolo County to be clear about where they stand.

Signed By:

Erica Ballinger

Marissa Barrera

Lee Bartholomew

Susan Bassein

Grace Park Bassett

Katelynn Bishop

Ann Block

Joan Cadden

Robert Canning

Marilu Carter

Nancy Erickson

Marilee Eusebio

Richard Farrell

Janet Foley

Capt. Paul B. Fullerton

Teresa Geimer

Steve Geller

M E Gladis

Dave Griffin

Maria Grijalva

Nina Gordon

Wayne Chris Hawkes

Jen Higley-Chapman

Emily Hill

Roy Kaplan

William Kelly

Elizabeth Lasensky

Victoria Lopez

Nora Oldwin

Patti Pape

Frank Pinto

Desirèe Rojas

Nan Rowan

Seth Sanders

Bapu Vaitla

Luanna Villanueva

Jennifer Watanabe

Matt Williams

Natalie Wormeli

Francesca Wright


Heidy Kellison

Let me get this straight: you disapprove of the D.A., but are using this space to call out a man who has spent his entire 40-year career tending the very issues you purport to support?

Jim helped write the hate crimes law, made stalking illegal, paved the way for domestic violence and sexual assault victims to have rights, was instrumental in establishing our second mental health court opened in Yolo, helped create the Day Reporting & Mental Health Crisis Centers (both are alternatives to incarceration), and on it goes. But you’re stuck on his facebook post regarding the district attorney's endorsement. You forgot to mention that he specifically linked this to the D.A.'s effort to create greater compassion for the homeless (see the link on his fb post).

Your litmus test has very little to do with the truth and everything to do with a smear campaign conveniently orchestrated by his opponent’s supporters. Such activities are exactly why Democrats lost the White House.

Holly Bishop

Jim Provenza's acceptance of Jeff Reisig's endorsement specifically pointed out Reisig's call for compassion for the homeless. I think this is something everyone can agree on.

Eileen Samitz

Wow. So disappointing to see this attempt by a number of Deos supporters to try to discount over 20 years of hard work and dedication to our City and County by Jim. Looks like a desperate attempt by their campaign to try to discourage support for Jim. It is bad enough that these kind of attack tactics are going rampant nationwide, but now to see it starting in a local election is very disappointing.

Jim has had years of accomplishments serving the public which have helped so many, particularly the disadvantaged and oppressed such as saving the Yolo Crisis Nursery, getting funding for First Five for at-risk kids and leading the Yolo County Healthy Aging Alliance just to name a few.

Historically, Jim also worked on legislation to help prevent child and elder abuse and for the protection of women affected by domestic violence and sexual assault.

Hopefully, readers will see though this attempt to inflict damage to Jim’s reputation by some of his opponent’s supporters.

Marie Bockwinkel

I strongly disagree with the premise of this article. Jim has supported our most vulnerable residents over his many years on the Board of Supervisors. I did not vote for Jeff Reisig for DA in the last election. But I am voting for Jim Provenza who has worked to reform the criminal justice system, in part by establishing a day reporting center as an alternative to incarceration. He has also sought to stop the arrest and incarceration of the mentally ill. Jim has advocated to successfully keep the Crisis Nursery open, deliver resources to Pine Tree Gardens and lead First 5 Yolo and the Aging Alliance. By his actions on the Board of Supervisors, Jim has demonstrated his strong commitment to equal justice for all members of our community.

Pam Gunnell

Where is the network of trust that these supporters of Deos and Johannson talk about when they publish a hit piece against a public offical who has been fighting for social justice his entire career?

Bob Milbrodt

The ladies doth protest too much, methinks
Reisig's behavior in office has been absolutely and incontrovertibly reprehensible: prosecuting individuals he knew to be innocent, withholding exculpatory evidence, overcharging to pressure the accused into admission of lesser charges, the list is long. Anyone giving an endorsement to such an individual is guilty of condoning or encouraging these wrongful practices. That shows terrible judgement, which just begs the question.... where else has Jim Provenza used poor judgement?
Stay tuned!

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