Blogging Bayport Alameda

March 7, 2014

What he said

Filed under: Alameda, City Council — Lauren Do @ 6:07 am

Just wanted to post a link to this op-ed from the Alameda Sun, since someone on my Facebook page asked if any attention would be given to piece.    It was an eloquent defense of Stewart Chen  which said exactly what I wanted to write  (except for the part about voting for him and being interested in voting for him again) albeit with a lot more gravitas and conviction.

This part is especially quote worthy:

Something that happened 20 minutes ago may be relevant and probative. Something that happened 20 years ago may be relevant, but it is certainly not probative of anything at this time. Time, in fact, does make a difference. The very foundation of the procedure in California to expunge a conviction from one’s record is the belief that one can be rehabilitated and, therefore, should be given a second chance, free and clear of that conviction.

And further:

Expunging (a conviction from a record) is not automatic; it has to be earned. Did Chen earn a second chance? By fact of your own reporting, the answer is a resounding “yes.” Since (his conviction in) 1993, Chen has neither been further disciplined by the California Board of Chiropractic Examiners; nor has he suffered any further arrests or convictions. He has demonstrated rehabilitation by staying clear of the board and the criminal justice system.

Which is kinda what I said, but, again, much much less eloquently.

There’s some legal reasoning in the op-ed about why the plea deal was the best bet for Stewart Chen which is worth a glance as well.

Surprisingly though, in the comments section of the Alameda Sun, no one decided to question the Judge’s fitness as a parent after his penning of that vigorous defense of Stewart Chen.  Imagine that.

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26 Comments »

  1. How would you respond to these hypotheticals?

    A fireman applies to AFD 20 years after an arson conviction, which he fails to mention. Do you let it slide because he hasn’t been convicted of torching anything recently?

    A convicted child molester applies to work at a day care service, failing to note prior conviction. Does he get a pass because he hasn’t been convicted of abuse recently?

    A convicted embezzler applies to work as a bank teller 20 years after, and fails to disclose. You comfortable with that?

    Chen was convicted of HEATLHCARE fraud, and ran for a seat on the HOSPITAL board. Do you not find that relevant information? You could decide he’s changed his ways and vote for him despite the past, but you’d have to know that past first in order to decide, right?

    Comment by dave — March 7, 2014 @ 7:20 am

  2. Actually he pled guilty to two counts of insurance fraud.

    Hypotheticals are unnecessary because they are not relevant to this case. What is relevant is this: Stewart Chen pled guilty to two counts of insurance fraud 20 years ago. Those plea agreements did not preclude him from running for an elected position on the Hospital Board. Had that information been disclosed ahead of time, it STILL would not have made him ineligible to run for the position on the Hospital Board. Would the disclosure of such information have tanked his election for Hospital Board? I’m going to go with: meh.

    Having followed Hospital Board elections and seen the voting breakdown it’s clear that few people even do any basic reviews of what incumbents have accomplished or what their record is. Unless the title next to his name on the ballot said “Convicted of fraud 20 years ago” it wouldn’t have made a bit of difference because the Hospital Board gets covered even less than softball and soccer games in this town.

    If people want to judge Stewart Chen for this singular 20 year old issue. Feel free. It sort of flies in the face of judging a person as a whole and the idea that people can be rehabilitated and that it’s not always a case of “once a criminal, always a criminal,” but whatever floats your boat. But when I vote against Stewart Chen, I’ll be doing it not because he was an idiot 20 years ago, but because his holistic record as a Hospital Board member and a City Council member is not up to par. I don’t feel the need to sharpen my pitchforks and light my torches over a 20 year old incident.

    Comment by Lauren Do — March 7, 2014 @ 7:40 am

  3. Also, who is to be the judge of which skeletons in our closets are necessary to disclose? I know that you have said that things like cheating on a spouse or drug use isn’t disclosure worthy for you personally, but I’m guessing that other people may feel as though that information IS disclosure worthy. We have clear rules about what precludes people from holding office, but not what must be disclosed that some people could find distasteful or relevant when they cast their votes. So, who decides? Who decides what personal failings are more valuable that others and therefore should be disclosed prior to running for an elected seat?

    Comment by Lauren Do — March 7, 2014 @ 7:49 am

  4. Your question about which skeletons must be disclosed is a valid one, and one that is hard to answer definitively. There are very grey areas and many different interpretations, as you say. But financial malfeasance related to healthcare is a most appropriate disclosure for someone running for a seat on a healthcare board. As for the hypotheticals, they have to do with past behavior directly related to a job that is sought. Most would say those examples are relevant. If they are, so is Chen’s.

    Comment by dave — March 7, 2014 @ 8:01 am

  5. Unless it’s codified somewhere that information must be disclosed prior to running for a seat on the Hospital Board then it would be a voluntary and not a mandatory disclosure. The difference between your hypotheticals is that arson for firefighter, embezzlement for a bank teller, and sex offenses for a day care worker are, more likely than not, mandatory disclosures. If you are suggesting that “financial malfeasance related to healthcare” should be a mandatory disclosure codified somewhere, I won’t disagree with you.

    Comment by Lauren Do — March 7, 2014 @ 8:21 am

  6. Yes it it not mandatory. It is, however, material and significant, and his behavior is cause to never trust him again.

    Comment by dave — March 7, 2014 @ 8:34 am

  7. Lauren, you mentioned in your post, expunging a conviction is not automatic but has to be earned, just a question as I’m not on one side or the other on this issue. Did Mr. Chen get his record expunged.?

    Comment by John P. — March 7, 2014 @ 9:11 am

  8. Good question, the Judge brought that up and I can’t say I know the definitive answer because the court records were unsealed, so it would seem that Stewart Chen may not have undertaken the steps to get his record formally expunged.

    Comment by Lauren Do — March 7, 2014 @ 9:21 am

  9. I guess we’ll find out whether a hidden twenty year old conviction is relevant or not come next election.

    Comment by Jack R — March 7, 2014 @ 9:34 am

  10. MAY I LAUGH ! BECAUSE IT IS SOP PATHETIC IT IS LAUGHABLE !

    Mr Chen plead guilty , it was his only venue to avoid 10 to 20 years in jail and rightfully deserved as He directly contributed to a ring that defrauded every single tax payer in California , something for which we all pay every day by out of control insurance cost .

    Blaming His Attorney is as sleazy as the charges which brought him to court in the first place , charges brought out by a multi task agencies , no a simple traffic violation .

    Then He run for City Council and make decision on hundreds of millions dollars of our taxes dollars , something is wrong with this picture .

    As a comp , anyone with such back ground record would never be able to get a State , Federal and most likely City Job , forget Target , wall mart , Lowe’s , Safeway , The Home Depot , Office Depot among thousands of Employers which will take a very hard look and most likely deny Employment to convicted felon , a guilty plea is just that , Guilty .

    Did He pay his due to society ? well he did the penalty imposed by the court , this does prove that He became snow white after sweeping all the City’s cheminey , since it did involve money , why He does not ask the IRS to audit his tax return for the last 10 or so years , keeping in mind for every dollar declared 50 are paid in cash under the table , something deeply carved in the Chinese culture .

    And yes I have to laugh when He insulted the owner of MC Gee by calling Him a bad business man , talk about toilet having bad reflux .

    It is time for Alameda to require that our elected Official be subject to the same laws as everyone else , or we might as well hire pedophile as preschool teachers , bank robbers as police officer and arsonist as firemen ….
    Time to vote Him out of office .

    Comment by does not belong in public office — March 7, 2014 @ 9:38 am

  11. Speaking of crime and punishment. A mere 2 years ago- David Howard of Action Alameda was arrested for domestic violence incident http://alameda.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections/p/alameda-activist-arrested-on-domestic-violence-charge

    Did he also get his record expunged?

    Comment by benice — March 7, 2014 @ 9:59 am

  12. I fully support a person’s right to pay his dues to society, re-enter a changed person, and be given a clean slate going forward. But after pleading guilty to fraud as a chiropractor, in my book he waives any right to hold fiduciary duties as a public officer – particularly on the board of a HOSPITAL – for the rest of his life. I suppose if we keep arguing we will eventually get to the root disagreement, which is “can people change?”. Lauren would say “Yes”, and I would say “Not enough to ever be trusted as a public officer with fiduciary duties.”

    Comment by Big Johnson — March 7, 2014 @ 10:01 am

  13. #11 – It might be a teeny, tiny, itsy-bitsy legal nuance, but “arrest” is not the same thing as “conviction”. I know, the whole “innocent until proven guilty” thing… such as nuisance!

    Comment by Big Johnson — March 7, 2014 @ 10:05 am

  14. @2: Well, if you discount hypotheticals, here’s a real California case, from this week’s LA Times:
    http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-former-oc-election-fraud-figure-20140305,0,5828065.story#axzz2vIdlGWXg [by Jill Cowan]:

    An Orange County official, who pled guilty to, & was convicted of election fraud IN 1996, had been given authority over the department tasked with running elections. It was a misdemeanor fraud charge, and it had since been expunged from the former county parks director’s record. After his conviction, he resigned his post, was sentenced to 3 years probation & a fine.

    But then he was hired as Orange County Parks director, & worked his way up to C.O.O. of Orange County Registrar of Voters. After his previous conviction was exposed by the OC Register, labor leaders expressed outrage that he holds his current post.

    Oh, and actually what Chen did was Falsify Medical Records, & he still works as a doctor.

    Comment by vigi — March 7, 2014 @ 10:52 am

  15. There are a lot of problems with Bartalini’s “eloquent defense”. For starters, the judge seems to be talking about an entirely different lawyer; certainly not Lincoln Mintz! What Bartalini wrote does not match what the State Bar of California has posted on the permanent record page for Lincoln Mintz. If Mintz was so disabled by his son’s suicide, why isn’t it listed as a mitigating factor in his disbarment? [Yes, the State Bar does mention such things if they are relevant] Why did he continue to take cases-& mis-manage them-if he “couldn’t even write a check”?

    His misconduct spanned decades. Perhaps the judge has him confused with a different lawyer. But then when has blogmistress ever bothered to check her facts before judging something “eloquent”?

    Comment by vigi — March 7, 2014 @ 12:12 pm

  16. I had 2 DUI’s a long time ago…I actually wasn’t driving in either…one time I was depressed and sitting in front of the grocery store, the other time I pulled over because I realize I shouldn’t be driving and both times I had keys in the car. So with that confession would you give me some beer and drive your kids to school. I went to rehab…and some times go to AA meetings…I did wrong…but don’t give me a beer and let me drive. If he plead guilty fine…but don’t give him an opportunity to do it again. He may be changed now but I carry around my mistakes and I have to be accountable for what I did. And airing my secrets I didn’t really wanted to do this on this sight…but I have a problem with drinking…and will probably always will. Forgive yes…forget not….don’t give me a beer.

    Comment by Joe — March 7, 2014 @ 4:49 pm

  17. Jesus told his listeners to “Judge not, lest ye be judged,” and that the man without sin should cast the first stone at the adulterous woman to kill her.

    Judging from the public comments, it would appear that we have a lot of guilt-free and sinless people in Alameda who are “qualified” to cast stones at Dr. Chen.

    I voted for my friend Stewart Chen and would do so again. The fact that he was not forthcoming during his campaign about his past bothers me, but he has also clearly made amends and has turned his life around: the evidence is clear.

    I would hope that every one of his critics can make the same claim to have repented and redeemed him/herself.

    (I am always trying to make amends and make up for my imperfections, so I will not be picking up any stones of the moment.)

    Comment by Jon Spangler — March 9, 2014 @ 9:07 am

  18. This took about five seconds of stone throwing..

    “I suspect that Mr. Howard published the photos – illegally and unethically – in order to “prove” that there is an improper relationship between the public safety unions and the City Council.”
    Comment by Jon Spangler — April 19, 2011 @ 9:35 am

    Comment by Jack R — March 9, 2014 @ 10:10 am

  19. Spangler,

    I have bookmarked that sermon for future posts. I suspect there will be many opportunities to refer you back to your own words.

    Looking forward to the fun.

    Comment by dave — March 9, 2014 @ 1:17 pm

  20. I’m an atheist, so I made up this little phrase all by my self. Its one to live by ” do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” at least I think I made it up. Maybe not.

    Comment by John P. — March 9, 2014 @ 1:29 pm

  21. 21. how about people who live in glass houses should buy a lot of duct tape.

    Comment by MI — March 9, 2014 @ 2:32 pm

  22. @18= However, Jesus had no problem judging Public Officials: From the New International Version, Matthew 23:27

    “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.”

    And, “Admonish the Sinner” is one of the Spiritual Works of Mercy. You have to read the whole Bible, Jon. You know the Devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.

    A Fraud conviction is always significant in the background of any public official. But now that it’s out in the open, he’ll probably be scrupulous about his future conduct. So, I see no reason to hold this against him…

    Spangler; shame on you. There is nothing illegal or unethical about publishing photos of public officials taken in a public place. Are you sure you’re not Canadian?

    Comment by vigi — March 9, 2014 @ 4:02 pm

  23. In a representative democracy, responsible citizens not only can judge but should judge the people they elect to represent them. The judgment in this case is not about whether Chen will go to Heaven. It is about whether we want him to represent us. Reasonable people disagree about whether he should represent us, but the idea put forth in comment 18 that it is wrong for us to dare to judge an elected representative is dangerous, offensive and, yes, un-American.

    Comment by Democracy Not Theocracy — March 9, 2014 @ 4:24 pm

  24. What Jon really means in 18 is that it’s wrong to judge a politician that he likes.

    Comment by dave — March 9, 2014 @ 4:55 pm

  25. Chen was thirty, knew what he was doing and I do not trust him nor respect him as my leader. That judge sounds like one of the reasons our legal system is so screwed up here in California and the rest of the country. I think Chen’s license should have been revoked permanently. Shameful for him not to disclose this information. Just look the other way! Mean trans

    Comment by T — March 9, 2014 @ 7:23 pm


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