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Dispute erupts over contract attorney by lox59860

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									Dispute erupts over contract attorney - Chico Enterprise Record                                                            6/1/09 1:18 PM




   Dispute erupts over contract attorney                          to the scrap yard.

                                                                  Melvin Morris, of Morris Farms in the Oroville area,
   By ROGER H. AYLWORTH - Staff Writer                            charged that he too had been persecuted more than
                                                                  prosecuted by Thomas, over charges related to a
   Posted: 05/20/2009 12:02:23 AM PDT                             business where Morris collected peach and other
   OROVILLE — An agenda item that looked like a                   stone fruit pits that were dried and ultimately used
   simple contract alteration turned out to be anything           as fuel in a co-generation power plant.
   but simple and routine.
                                                                  Morris was hit with a range of misdemeanor
   On Tuesday, the Butte County Board of Supervisors              charges related to releasing pollutants off his
   was asked to approve an $8,165 increase in                     operation.
   "incidental business expenses" for Harold Thomas,
   an attorney for the California Department of Fish and          Other individuals also stood to challenge the
   Game (DFG), who is assigned to work in the county              propriety of these prosecutions.
   District Attorney's office.
                                                                  Ramsey said the people involved had confessed.
   District Attorney Mike Ramsey later explained that
   Thomas, who prosecutes environmental cases for                 He said Morris' operation was responsible for
   the district attorney, is paid by the DFG, but the             releasing 374 tons of waste from the peach pits, and
   contract with the county requires that the county              the waste ultimately reaches the Feather River.
   cover the man's gas and other expenses incurred in
   his commute from Sacramento.                                   The district attorney also said cyanide comes from
                                                                  these pits.
   The item was on the board's consent agenda, which
   is usually for non-controversial matters.                      Oroville Supervisor Bill Connelly, board chairman,
                                                                  said he had received calls from constituents who
   Kim Scott of Chico asked to have the item pulled               were afraid to come forward in a public forum but
   from the consent agenda. Then she and others                   who alleged Thomas engaged in a "gotcha" effort.
   charged that Thomas pursued heavy-handed
   prosecutions that attack business operations.                  "I don't know why all these diverse and different
                                                                  people come to me with the same story," said
   She said her father, George Scott, owner of Chico              Connelly.
   Scrap Metal, had been unreasonably prosecuted by
   Thomas and that her father is currently filing a               "What is 'gotcha'?" Ramsey asked Connelly.
   motion in Butte County Superior Court to attempt to
   have the case revisited.                                       "I can't win against a lawyer. He's too smart for me,"
                                                                  responded the supervisor.
   Kim Scott said it is "shameful that an honest
   businessman" with 40 years in business "is                     "No, you can't win against the facts," retorted
   criminalized" in this matter.                                  Ramsey.
   Scott was charged with pollution violations related




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http://www.chicoer.com/advertise/ci_12409028                                                                                   Page 1 of 2
Dispute erupts over contract attorney - Chico Enterprise Record   6/1/09 1:18 PM




   Chico Supervisor Jane Dolan said courts have
   already ruled that the supervisors can't tell an
   elected district attorney what to do in his office.

   Supervisor Steve Lambert, who lives on a ranch west
   of Oroville and represents the 4th District, said he is
   uncomfortable with prosecutions related to the use
   of agricultural waste.

   Ramsey said Thomas has worked for him for eight
   years and is an expert in environmental law.

   Because the request involved a transfer of funds,
   the measure would have required a 4-1 vote in favor
   to pass.

   Dolan made the motion to approve the transfer and
   fellow Chico Supervisor Maureen Kirk seconded the
   motion. Connelly, Lambert and Paradise Supervisor
   Kim Yamaguchi voted no.

   Earlier, Ramsey said if the measure was turned
   down, he would find a way to cover the money from
   his funds.

   After the vote, Ramsey charged that the three
   supervisors voted no strictly because they received
   campaign contributions from people involved in
   cases.

   All three conceded they had received contributions
   from individuals involved.

   Both Connelly and Yamaguchi, when asked, simply
   rejected the allegation.

   Lambert said, "It would take a lot more money to
   buy me."

   Staff writer Roger H. Aylworth can be reached at
   896-7762 or raylworth@chicoer.com.




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