The Coastal Post - November 1999

News


Buck's New CEO Supported By Animal Rights Group

As the controversial Buck Center for Research in Aging prepared for its official opening this week, one long-time opponent of the project, In Defense of Animals (IDA), is extending an olive branch to the Center by praising the accomplishments of the Center's new CEO, Dr. Dale Bredesen. According to IDA, Dr. Bredesen's research, which is funded by the National Institute of Health, is based on in vitro, non-animal technologies.

"We fought the Buck Center tooth and nail for more than a decade," said Elliot Katz, DVM, In Defense of Animals' president. "We are heartened to see that the Buck Center chose a leader whose research reflects a commitment to developing and refining non-animal models of inquiry into the diseases of aging."

Katz said that in the 12 years the opposition was able to hold off the Center's construction, medical technology has progressed to the point where non-animal research technologies are safer and more effective than many outmoded forms of animal research. Dr. Bredesen's professional reputation rests, in part, on his creation of non-animal models for Alzheimer's, Lou Gehrig's disease and other major neurological diseases.

"Dr. Bredesen's research befits Marin County's reputation as a visionary, progressive and humane community," Katz continued. "His scientific pursuits bode well for the future of research at the Buck Center."

"The Buck Center is in its infancy and has a choice about which way to go in terms of its research," noted Katz. "We urge the Center to actively recruit scientists involved in non-animal studies, rather than bringing in those researchers whose work involves the harming and killing of animals."

"If Dr. Bredesen can meet the challenge of creating a Buck Center that will be a model for successful, cutting-edge, non-animal research, then he will reduce significantly the conflict and community strife that have plagued this project since its inception," Katz concluded.

IDA, a national animal advocacy group with 75,000 members, has been a key player in the opposition to the Buck Center. In 1995, a coalition of environmental, animal rights and taxpayer advocates conducted a successful referendum drive to overturn county approval of the Buck Center. IDA contributed logistical and financial support to the coalition organized under the umbrella of the Committee to Save Mt. Burdell.

Suit Against Sheriff's Department

Unlawful and discriminatory fingerprinting of African-American juveniles by the Marin County Sheriff's Department in Marin City, an unincorporated and largely African-American community, has been alleged in a lawsuit filed in Marin County Superior Court.

The lawsuit is being brought on behalf of Isaiah M., a juvenile taken into temporary custody by the Sheriff's Department for petty theft and fingerprinted before being released to his parents. The suit names Sheriff Robert Doyle, Deputy Erin Inskip, the Sheriff's Department, and the County of Marin as defendants. The suit alleges that juveniles from other parts of Marin who are not African-American are not routinely fingerprinted upon being taken into temporary custody. The complaint alleges that it is the practice of the Sheriff's Department to obtain fingerprints only from those minors of Marin City, and that the Sheriff's Department does not routinely fingerprint minors detained in other parts of the County nor of those minors who are not African-American.

The County's objection to the juvenile's complaint was rejected by Superior Court Judge Lynn Duryee on September 21. Judge Duryee's order stated that the County had not established that it was required to fingerprint the plaintiff.

The suit was filed on the minor plaintiff's behalf by Oakland attorney John Burris, San Francisco attorney Matthew Kumin, and Sausalito attorney Arthur R. George. Burris and Kumin frequently litigate civil rights matters. George is a civil and criminal defense attorney.

"The law simply doesn't permit the fingerprinting of minors, at booking upon intake into the system or at any other time," attorney Arthur R. George explained. "Even if fingerprinting was permitted, which it is not, it's an outrage that it be used in Marin County against minority youths and not Caucasian youths in such a discriminatory manner."

The juvenile's complaint states that the California Legislature has created the Welfare and Institutions Code to deal with minors differently than adults, and to afford greater protection to minors who become involved in the juvenile justice system. The complaint states that the Welfare and Institutions Code enumerates the limited actions which law enforcement officers may perform upon taking a minor into custody. The complaint states that there is no provision in the code for taking a minor's fingerprints.

The suit alleges that the acts of the defendants violated state statues, constituted an invasion of privacy, and violated the juvenile's right to equal protection under the law. The suit seeks return and destruction of the juvenile's fingerprint records from wherever they may have been distributed, injunctive relief against the Sheriff's Department and Marin County from fingerprinting all juveniles and from making distinctions based upon race in its treatment of juvenile detainees, and declaratory relief in the form of a judicial determination that fingerprinting of minors in California is forbidden without express legislative authority.

A motion in Juvenile Court for a protective order also seeking return and destruction of the juvenile's fingerprint records was denied last year by Marin County Superior Court Michael Dufficy. That case is on appeal to the California First District Court of appeal. The matter also has been referred to members of the Marin County Juvenile Justice/Delinquency Prevention Commission for an investigation of the Sheriff's Department's practice against youth in Marin County.

Community Thanksgiving Dinner

The 15th annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner will be held at The Depot, formerly the Red Barn, on Mesa Road in Pt. Reyes Station.

The traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner with all the trimmings will be served free of charge. All are welcome. This dinner is a festive and friendly occasion for friends, visiting relatives, neighbors and newcomers alike. All ages are welcome. Homebound folks may request a take-out dinner, but it is much more fun to attend. Rides are available for those who need them.

This annual event is sponsored and supported by the West Marin community. Many people make this event possible, including chefs, bakers, local businesses and organizations, and of course, hard-working volunteers. There are many volunteer opportunities available before, during and after the meal. Some of these include: cooking a turkey, food preparation, turkey carvers, drivers, food servers and clean-up crew.

At this time we would like to extend heartfelt gratitude to Jerry Lunsford, the Community Thanksgiving Dinner's volunteer head chef, for his 11 years of volunteering, for his generosity of spirit and dedication, and for sharing his culinary talent with us. As this will be Jerry's last year as head chef, we are looking for a volunteer to shadow him in his position this Thanksgiving in preparation for assuming the position Thanksgiving, 2000. The continuation of this wonderful community event hinges upon another generous and dedicated volunteer stepping forward to fill Jerry's shoes.

To make dinner reservations, sign up to volunteer, to work with Jerry, or for further information, please call the Community Resource Center, 663-8361. We request that you make dinner reservations by Monday, November 22, so the cooks will know how many turkeys to stuff.

Foster And Adoptive Parents Needed

Learn about becoming a foster or adoptive parent at one of two Information Meetings offered by the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services.

A social worker and a foster or adoptive parent will be on hand to answer your questions and to discuss the opportunities, support and financial subsidies available to interested Marin County residents on Thursday, October 28, or on Thursday, December 2. These meetings will be held 7:00-9:00 p.m. at the Division of Social Services, 10 North San Pedro Rd., San Rafael (across from the Civic Center), in Room 1018 at the north end of the building.

Marin County individuals and families of all ages, ethnicities, backgrounds and compositions are urgently needed: singles, couples (married or not), male or female, renters or homeowners.

Approximately 200 children living in Marin each year wait for loving homes. You can make a real difference in the life of a child.

For more information, please call 499-7118 and ask for Adoption and Foster Care Licensing.

Notice Of Property Tax Billing

Marin County's 1999-2000 property tax bills were mailed on October 12 & 13. Property owners, especially those who have recently purchased real estate, who have not received a tax bill should call the Marin County Tax Collector's Office.

92,162 tax bills have been mailed. The 1999-2000 tax charge totals $348,672,306 compared to last year's charge of $321,502,619. The increase is 8.45 percent.

Annually property tax bills are mailed during October and are payable in two installments. The first installment is due November 1st and must be paid on or before December 10, 1999, to avoid penalty. The second installment must be paid by the following April 10th. Both installments may be paid with the first installment.

Property owners are encouraged to pay early to avoid penalties. In accordance with State Law, the 1999-2000 first installment property taxes must be postmarked on or before December 10, 1999, or delivered to the Tax Collector's office by 5:00 p.m., December 10, 1999, to avoid a 10 percent penalty.

The Tax Collector's Office hours are 9:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday and the hours will be extended to 5:00 p.m. on December 10, 1999. The Tax Collector's Office is located in Room 202 in the Marin County Civic Center, 499-6133.

MICHAEL J. SMITH
Marin County Tax Collector

Save Marin Town & Country Club Endorses Caldararo & Tremaine

Save Marin Town & Country Club is a citizens' group formed in 1998 to preserve the current zoning of the Marin Town & Country Club in Fairfax, and which opposed Measure C, a proposal to rezone the property and permit development of 79 homes on 9.5 acres of property. SMTCC led the opposition to Measure C, and in June, 1998, 78 percent of the voters joined them in opposing a zoning change and development.

Save Marin Town & Country Club endorses Niccolo Caldararo and Lew Tremaine for the Fairfax Town Council. SMTCC has reviewed the statements and positions of all five candidates for the two open Council seats and have concluded that only Caldararo and Tremaine can be counted upon to protect the current commercial recreational zoning and to oppose development on the site. Both Caldararo and Tremaine have stated their preference for a public park on the site. Both were members of the Save Marin Town & Country Club steering committee and contributed significant efforts in the campaign to defeat Measure C.

The future of the Marin Town & Country Club will remain the major issue facing Fairfax, and the positions of the council members will be a critical factor in deciding that future.

Save Marin Town & Country Club believes that of the five candidates, only Niccolo Caldararo and Lew Tremaine will protect the current zoning, the environment and the small town quality of life in Fairfax.

Save Marin Town & Country Club strongly urges Fairfax voters to elect Niccolo Caldararo and Lew Tremaine to the Fairfax Town Council.

For additional information, contact Steve Shaiken, Chair, Save Marin Town & Country Club, 459-4762 (home), 248-1012 (work), 248-0019 (fax). email: [email protected]

Non-Resident Vehicle Fee Unconstitutional State required to refund estimated $250 million to taxpayers who file claims

The California Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District, declared unconstitutional the $300 Non-Resident Vehicle Smog Impact Fee imposed by the State of California on persons registering used vehicles in California that were previously registered outside the state.

The Smog Impact Fee is paid almost exclusively by people moving into California and registering the vehicles they bring with them. If everyone entitled to a refund filed a claim, the state would be required to refund approximately $250 million.

The Court of Appeal agreed with the trial court that the Smog Impact Fee violated both the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution and Article 19 of the California Constitution. According to the Court, "the discrimination between interstate and local commerce is plain.... [The] violation of the commerce clause is patent."

Unless the Court's ruling is modified by the California Supreme Court or United States Supreme Court, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will be required to stop charging the $300 fee, which it still is collecting. It also must refund the fee, plus interest, to all persons who paid the fee and who file a timely refund claim. However, in the light of other parts of the Court of Appeal's rulings, the DMV will not voluntarily notify taxpayers of the need to promptly file refund claims nor will it automatically file claims in their behalf.

Leonard B. Simon, one of the lead lawyers for the plaintiffs, referred to evidence that the California Legislative Counsel had advised the Legislature that the $300 fee was unconstitutional both before and after its approval in July, 1990. He stated, that "the Court's ruling on the remedy is very unfortunate. It means that California can pass an obviously invalid fee, collect hundreds of millions of dollars, and then keep virtually all of the money collected by making the claims process very difficult." Mr. Simon further stated that, "Such a system gives government a perverse incentive to impose unlawful taxes, knowing they will get to keep most of the money. The remedy for this violation should be modified by the California Supreme Court or by the Legislature."

In the interim, however, Mr. Simon strongly urged those who are eligible for refunds to file claims as soon as possible in order to preserve their rights. "People who paid the Smog Impact Fee may lose their right to a refund if they do not file a refund claim," he stated.

Information about the procedures for filing a refund claim can be obtained by calling toll-free (877) SMOG-FEE on Monday or later, or by visiting www.wyca.com on the Internet. Downloadable claim forms are available from the website.

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