Pubdate: Thu, 23 Aug 2001
Source: Auburn Journal (CA)
Copyright: 2001 Auburn Journal
Author: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer


One of Placer County's most conservative voices - the League of Placer 
County Taxpayers - has decided to publicly chastise the Placer County Board 
of Supervisors and Sheriff's Department for their role in a series of 
mostly out-of-county marijuana raids.

Raids in 1998 and 1999 enmeshed Placer County in a series of lawsuits 
alleging that Sheriff's Department members overstepped their legal 
authority. Five suits have been filed in federal court, with three of the 
cases scheduled to be heard in 2003.

"It has all become a sticky mess with at least two conclusions of what went 
terribly wrong - the Sheriff's Department's insufficient oversight of these 
SWAT-team-like activities, and supervisors not looking at the possible 
ramifications of approving such out-of-county activities and their 
methods," League President Wally Reemelin said.

The Placer County Counsel's Office is arguing that the raids were conducted 
legally. The county has already rejected financial claims connected with 
the suits and the deputy county counsel handling the case said Wednesday 
that all the facts will come out during court proceedings.

Deputy County Counsel David Huskey said there is no question that Placer 
sheriff's officers could enforce the law in Sacramento County. All the 
cases in that county involved proper police procedure and officers 
upholding the law, he added.

"I don't see one liability case," Huskey said. "People can claim whatever 
they claim. When the cases go to trial, all the facts will go to the jury."

The Taxpayers League, with about 1,200 members, has successfully led a 
fight to limit supervisorial salaries to $30,000 a year and a recall that 
turned out members of the Auburn Recreation District board who supported an 
unpopular special tax assessment.

But it stood on the sidelines during an aborted recall drive earlier this 
year targeting District Attorney Brad Fenocchio over Prop. 215 enforcement 

That attempt was supported by Steve Kubby, a former Libertarian Party 
gubernatorial candidate who was charged with marijuana possession for sale 
after a 1998 raid on his Olympic Valley home netted 265 pot plants. Kubby 
successfully fought the marijuana charge, saying he and his wife grew the 
plants for medicinal use. But he is now facing a jail term in Placer County 
on magic mushroom and peyote possession convictions. Scheduled to go to 
jail earlier this month, he is now living in Canada and fears he will die 
if incarcerated because Placer County Jail won't allow marijuana use.

Reemelin, president of the 23-year-old local government watchdog group, 
said the League is concerned with the way county funds were spent and the 
risks the sheriff's activities exposed the county to in court. Proposition 
215 changed the rules for marijuana possession when it was approved by 
voters in 1996 and the county was slow to respond, he said.

"We're a conservative group but once the county and the state went for 
Prop. 215, we said, OK, they shouldn't press the issue," Reemelin said.

Reemelin said he would guess that a very small number of Taxpayers League 
members would be pot smokers.

"We're pretty much against the idea n but we don't want tax money spent on 
nit-picky stuff and increasing the county's exposure to lawsuits," he said.

Reemelin said that state and federal grant money for marijuana policing was 
made available to the county but that wasn't enough of a reason to "jump 
into a program that is not fully thought through and carefully monitored 
and supervised." He said supervisors were informed of what the League 
considers quasi-legal activities and that they fully supported them.

Reemelin added that in all the raids, no pot "factory" was found or the 
growing of marijuana for sale and profit was uncovered.

Huskey said assumptions on funding sources are being made without knowing 
all the facts. Some of the cases involve ongoing criminal prosecutions, he 

"People have decided what is right or wrong without all the evidence," he 
said. "We try our cases in court."
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