In the latest column, read news about a new documentary that reevaluates the recall of Aaron Persky from the Santa Clara County Superior Court bench, an event that brought current and former female mayors together on International Women's Day and Santa Clara County granting funds for safe and legal Fourth of July fireworks events.
REEXAMINATION ... Nearly five years since Aaron Persky was recalled from his judgeship at the Santa Clara County Superior Court, a 20-minute documentary debuting at 7 p.m. on Sunday on MSNBC aims to dive deeper into the story.
"The Recall: Reframed" focuses on the 2018 decision to remove Persky from the court following his controversial sentencing in the case of ex-Stanford swimmer Brock Turner, who was ordered to serve six months in county jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious and intoxicated woman in 2015. Recall campaign organizers claimed that Persky had a history of showing bias against women and defendants of color in multiple sex-crime cases. The campaign to unseat Persky resulted in a ballot initiative supported by 61.6% of voters.
"The film offers competing perspectives and asks the difficult question: Who actually bears the burden when we demand harsher punishment for a priviliged white defendant?" Directed by Rebecca Richman Cohen, the film includes interviews with retired county Superior Court Judge LaDoris Cordell and current District Attorney Jeff Rosen. "When a fire is started, a lot of things are gonna get burned," Rosen says in the film's trailer.
PLENTY TO CELEBRATE ... A new Chinese restaurant in downtown Palo Alto, HE&C Tea+Pot, marked its opening with a launch party on International Women's Day.
Female leaders from around Palo Alto attended the March 8 event, including Mayor Lydia Kou and former Palo Alto mayors Liz Kniss and Nancy Shepherd, as well as Saratoga Vice Mayor Yan Zhao. Sarah Burgess, president of Neighbors Abroad, a nonprofit that facilitates Palo Alto's sister-city relationships, was also present.
Kniss, now president of the local League of Women Voters, said around 30 people attended the event. The event also celebrated five years since Palo Alto and Yangpu, a district in Shanghai, became sister cities. Kniss traveled to Shanghai in 2018 during her third term as mayor, when Palo Alto was establishing its sister-city relationship with Yangpu. She said she's enthusiastic about Palo Alto's numerous sister cities around the world. "It's a terrific way to get to know another culture, another language, another whole set of mores from a different part of the world," she said.
"The event was a wonderful way to honor the community and culture of China through food," Burgess said. "It was great to be able to join so many civic leaders and others to welcome this restaurant to the Palo Alto community."
BACK WITH A BOOM ... After a pandemic break, Santa Clara County has brought back its fireworks grant program. It provides grants to government agencies and nonprofits to put on safe and legal July Fourth fireworks events in the county.
"If you want to celebrate the Fourth of July with fireworks, it's best to leave it to the professionals," county Chief Operating Officer Greta Hansen said in a statement. "We're happy to be able to bring back this grant opportunity to help fund public displays for the community, so we can all see fireworks light up the sky in the safest way possible this year."
Since 2016, The program has allocated $25,000 annually to sponsor up to two fireworks events in each of the five county districts, or $5,000 per district. To receive funding, the event must be open to all county residents, be family-friendly and consider fire safety educational elements, the statement said. Applications will be reviewed by a panel of representatives from the Santa Clara County Fire District, the Sheriff's Office, County Executive's Office and Parks and Recreation Department. The Board of Supervisors will review the panel's recommendations in May before selecting grantees.
Organizations interested in applying must email an application to [email protected] by 5 p.m. on March 31. View the application at countyexec.sccgov.org.
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 17, 2023 at 1:27 pm
on Mar 17, 2023 at 1:27 pm
Would have been nice had Palo Alto Mayor Lydia Kou been interviewed/acknowledged for the item about opening of HE&C Tea+Pot on International Woman’s Day given her role in our City.
on Mar 17, 2023 at 5:40 pm
on Mar 17, 2023 at 5:40 pm
Regarding the short documentary discussing the Persky Recall, it is told entirely from the perspective of the recall opponents, and merely rehashes their arguments made at the time -- arguments that were rightly rejected by 62% of Santa Clara County voters.
The 2018 election out was about the treatment of victims of gender-based violence in Aaron Persky's courtroom. In accordance with the California Constitution, voters in Santa Clara County were the decision-makers. They reviewed his record and overwhelmingly decided that Persky should not continue as a judge, because of his poor record in the case of Brock Turner and others. They were right.
As for any supposed negative consequences of the recall, there is no credible evidence that the recall election produced longer sentences. That's because, contrary to the arguments of recall critics, most judges are trying to follow the law and act with integrity rather than following election results. On the other hand, the recall had the positive consequence of making a strong statement against rape culture in the legal system.
This film fails to address the extensive and disturbing victim blaming engaged in by the leaders of Judge Persky's campaign, who repeatedly pointed to the fact that Turner's victim was intoxicated as an excuse for Turner's light sentence. Nor does the documentary disclose that Persky's campaign strategist was Donald Trumps' Arizona State Director, while our campaign against him was endorsed by dozens of leading women's rights organizations and progressive Democratic elected officials across Santa Clara County, California and indeed nationally.
Aaron Persky has never taken responsibility nor apologized for the many shameful victim-blaming comments made by leaders of his campaign. That merely serves to underscore that we were right to vote him out. I continue to be glad that no rape victim will walk into a courtroom to find that her case will be presided over by Aaron Persky.