The Coastal Post - November 1999

News Briefs By Submission

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.

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

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.

Women Helping All People's Solution By Royce McLemore

Marin City Academy is a private school for children in Marin City whose parents want an alternative from the Sausalito School District.

This past summer, Women Helping All People had a six-week Academy for children from kindergarten through eighth grades. There were 38 children enrolled in this program. It was exciting to see children actively learning in a quiet environment. Discipline and behavior problems did not exist, because the parents, children and staff believed that each child could succeed if given the opportunity.

In addition, this summer I had the opportunity to tour the Burgess Estate that is located on five acres in Marin City-an ideal location for an Academy. Women Helping All People is a tax-exempt, non-profit organization asking the Marin County community to assist us in raising five million dollars to purchase the Burgess Estate. You can mail your tax-exempt contribution to: Women Helping All People, 79 Cole Drive, #5, Marin City, CA 94965.

The Academic Problems of Marin City

African-American students from Marin city have the lowest school achievement rates in the county. The last year of statewide standardized testing revealed that children in the Sausalito School District, predominantly Marin City children, lag behind their peers in the county from the earliest grades.

The students in the elementary and middle schools (Bayside/Martin Luther King and North Bay schools), display a lack of family structure, which leads to depression, anger, apathy, sadness and a deep sense of loss in the children. It is understandable that children in these circumstances will act out their rage and develop behavioral problems both in and out of school. Educators are seeing more violence and more violence-prone children than ever. This can be shown through quantitative data as well: the suspension reports from the elementary and high school attended by most Marin City youth show a high rate of suspensions for fighting in elementary school. At the elementary school level, 99 out of a total enrollment of 256 were suspended in the 1998-1999 school year. Of these, almost half (45) were for fights, 22 were for disrupting activities, 12 were for insubordination, and 12 were for assault of either a student or staff member. At the high school, there were 46% more suspensions in 1997-1998 than four years previously (203 compared to 139).

Reports of domestic abuse, ranging from verbal threats to attacks with a deadly weapon happen approximately once a week. "The parents don't discipline their kids," said a resident. "They don't have a clue how to begin. Or they don't care. Parents need to learn how to parent. Both parents and children need to be prepared to face the world outside Marin City. They're completely lacking in social skills, and they are less likely to succeed in school or in the workplace."

The educational system of the Sausalito School District is flawed in its design, and we as a community do not have the years to wait for them to continue to try to fix their system.

Scholarship Applications Available

The San Rafael Elks Lodge #1108, in connection with the Elks' National Foundation, announce that they are accepting scholarship applications from students graduating in the class of 1999-2000. Awards are made from the Elks' national office as well as regionally. Awards ranging from $1,000 to $7,500 are given to 500 students nationally, and 400 awards ranging from $800 to $3,500 are directed to students from California and Hawaii.

Applications are available at all Marin high schools or they can be downloaded at http://www.elks.org. Students must reside in the region in which they apply and be citizens of the United States.

Resolution to Lift The Sanctions Against Iraq

At its November 17 meeting, the Marin Democratic Club passed the following resolution in opposition to the sanctions against Iraq.

Whereas, the UN, led by the U.S., has enforced sanctions and an embargo on Iraq for the last nine years, the most severe ever imposed on any country, resulting in the deaths of half a million children under age five and imperiling the future of an entire generation through the effects of malnutrition and disease, and

Whereas, the continuation of these sanctions, originally imposed to force Iraq out of Kuwait, accomplished in 1991, as articulated by the U.S., is to eliminate Iraq weapons of mass destruction and force a change in leadership, but has instead strengthened Saddam Hussein's dictatorship and ended weapons inspections, which are unlikely to resume while sanctions are in place, and

Whereas, the vast amounts of money spent on our present policy toward Iraq, including military actions continuing to this moment, impact domestic programs at federal, state and local levels here at home, and are in clear violation of the Geneva Conventions, UN General Assembly Resolutions, the Constitution of the World Health Organization, the Convention on the Prevention of the Crime of Genocide, and the UN Declaration of Human Rights,

Therefore, Be It Resolved that the Marin Democratic Club urges the lifting of sanctions and the rebuilding of Iraq's infrastructure and the free flow of humanitarian aid to Iraq without threat of prosecution, joining with churches, universities, human rights groups and individuals across the globe and here in Marin, and 43 members of Congress, including Lynn Woolsey, who call for a rethinking and termination of these sanctions.

Novato Library Open House

The Friends of the Novato Library invite you to the Novato Library Holiday Open House from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 4. Please come by and meet our five special guest Bay Area mystery authors: Joanne Pence, Rhys Bowen, Shelley Singer, Cara Black, and Jacqueline Girdner. Autographed books make perfect holidays gifts.

Buck Center Researchers Speak About Aging

Scientists from the Buck Center will present their plans for research at the 12th Annual Meeting from 10:30 a.m. to noon, Friday, December 10 at the new facility in Novato. This free event is open to the public.

President and CEO Dale E. Bredesen, M.D. will present, "How do we plan to delay aging-associated diseases?" and Professor and Vice President of Special Research Programs, David Greenberg, M.D., Ph.D. will present, "Novel prospects for the treatment of stroke."

Seating is limited, so please call to pre-register: 209-2263.

Hospice Support Groups

Hospice of Marin is offering weekly support groups for family or friends of anyone undergoing treatment for a life-threatening illness.

Facing the Possibility of Loss will be held each Monday evening from 6 to 7:30 at Hospice headquarters, 150 Nellen Avenue in Corte Madera. Participants need to call each week by Monday noon to reserve a space: 927-2273. (No group meeting on December 6.) The groups are free, but donations are accepted.

Muir Beach Quilters Fair

The Muir Beach Quilters will hold their 27th annual holiday arts fair from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, December 4, and Sunday, December 5 at the Muir Beach Community Center, 19 Seascape, Muir Beach. Admission is free. Shuttle service provided from Muir Beach parking lot. 383-8356.

Valley Art Show

Two Bird Cafe at the Valley Inn, 625 San Geronimo Drive off Sir Francis Drake Blvd. in San Geronimo, presents art work by 15 West Marin artists from November 10 to January 9, Wednesdays through Sundays, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5:30 to 9 p.m. Reservations: 488-0105. Curator Susan Wilson Rodgers: 488-0528.

Homestead Valley Crafts Fair

The Homestead Holiday Crafts Fair will take place on Saturday and Sunday, December 11 and 12, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Homestead Community Center, 315 Montford Avenue in Mill Valley. Becky: 388-9916.

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