Thursday, November 16, 2006

Jonestown at the Minor?

The movie Tom, Kathleen and Les Kinsolving were talking about (see post below) is scheduled to come to Arcata, according to the producer's website.
Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple
Opens November 17th
Minor Theater


  1. A little something on Tim Stoen:

    Instant replay - December 17, 1978
    "Followers Say Jim Jones Directed Voting Frauds"

    Caption: Joseph Freitas, the San Francisco District Attorney, was among candidates supported by the Rev. Jim Jones. Wanda Johnson, a former People's Temple member, has alleged that followers of Mr. Jones engaged in fraudulent voting practices to help elect some of the candidates he supported.

    December 17, 1978
    New York Times - John M. Crewdson
    San Francisco, Dec. 16--Determined to help elect politicians friendly toward his People's Temple, the Rev. Jim Jones ordered what former temple members say was an organized campaign of fraudulent voting practices that included importing busloads of illegal voters to cast their ballots in this city's 1975 municipal elections.

    Among those named by some of Mr. Jones's former followers as recipients of his political support were Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, both of whom were shot and killed in their City Hall offices, three weeks ago, allegedly by an enraged former city official. The police have said that the shooting was unrelated to the People's Temple.

    The former followers said that Mr. Jones had also ardently supported Joseph Freitas, the San Francisco District Attorney; Mervyn Dymally, the Lieutenant Governor of California; State Senator Milton Marks and Willie Brown Jr., the city's State Assemblyman. There is no indication that any of these candidates were aware of the alleged illegal assistance from Mr. Jones.

    The alleged voting fraud is now under investigation by Mr. Freitas. False voter registration in California is perjury, a felony punishable by up to four years in prison.

    Busloads of Voters

    One former temple member, Neva Sly, recalled in an interview that her husband, Don, had driven busloads of temple members here to vote from Redwood Valley, Mr. Jones's settlement in northern California, and also from the temple's branch in Los Angeles.

    The out-of-town voters, Mrs. Sly said, were previously registered at the addresses of temple members living in San Francisco.

    Don Sly, the man identified as having held a knife to the throat of Representative Leo J. Ryan in the trouble at the temple's Guyana outpost a month ago, is among those unaccounted for in the aftermath of Mr. Ryan's murder and the murders and suicides of Mr. Jones and more than 900 of his followers.

    Wanda Johnson, who resigned from the temple in 1976, described Mr. Sly as the "head bus driver" and said that in addition to those he transported "hundreds" of other members living secretly "at the San Francisco temple" in violation of health and welfare laws had also been registered at addresses scattered around the city.

    (Editor's note: These violations, reported by city workers, were ignored by city officials.)

    Registered Nonresidents

    Kay Henderson, who belonged to the temple from 1971 until 1975, recalled that several members who had never resided at her San Francisco home had been registered to vote at that address without her knowledge.

    She did not become aware of that, she said, until their voter registration packets began arriving with her mail. Mrs. Henderson said she concluded that there was at least "the possibility of voter fraud" but that, like other former temple members, she had kept her silence out of fear of retaliation from Mr. Jones.

    Anyone registering to vote here in 1975 was required to sign an affidavit affirming that his residence was in San Francisco, but no effort was made to check on the accuracy of the declarations.

    "When Jones wanted someone elected, he got them elected," Mrs. Johnson said, and, although her remark contains some overstatement, since some of the candidates Mr. Jones backed were defeated, there is little doubt that he controlled the votes of several thousand of his followers, enough to make the difference in a close election.

    Slim Moscone Margin

    In the runoff election for the Mayor's office in 1975, for example, Mr. Moscone was elected by just 4,000 votes, and Mr. Freitas won by fewer than 10,000.

    "Jones swayed elections," said Jeannie Mills, who with her husband, Al, defected from the temple in the fall of 1975. "He told us how to vote."

    Shortly before an election, Mrs. Mills said, temple members were given sample ballots marked with Mr. Jones's choices to take with them to the polls.

    Following an election, Mrs. Johnson added, members were required to produce ballot stubs showing that they had indeed voted. Nonvoters, she said, were "pushed around, roughed up, physically abused."

    Asked how Mr. Jones could insure that members actually voted for his chosen candidates, Mrs. Mills gave a little laugh. "You don't understand," she said, "we wanted to do what he told us to."

    Voting Bloc of 5,000

    Judging from various estimates, Mr. Jones's adherents probably numbered about 5,000--a sizable bloc in a city where the average voter turnout runs close to 200,000.

    In the months that followed the 1975 election, Mr. Freitas, the new District Attorney, began an inquiry into reports that large numbers of people had voted illegally in San Francisco while residing in neighboring cities.

    When reports first became public that Mr. Freitas was pursuing such an investigation, Mrs. Johnson said, Mr. Jones grew concerned, and, on one occasion, said as much before a meeting of the temple's governing body, known as the Planning Commission.

    In charge of the vote fraud investigation, Mr. Freitas placed Timothy O. Stoen, a newly hired deputy district attorney who was also a longtime member of the temple and chief legal adviser to Mr. Jones.

    Although about 50 people were subsequently indicted, most of them for having voted in San Francisco while living outside the city, none were members of the People's Temple.

    Allegation Not Recalled

    In an interview two weeks ago, Mr. Stoen said that no one had ever made the allegation to him that temple members had voted illegally in San Francisco.

    Asked whether, given his position in the temple, it could have happened without his knowledge, Mr. Stoen replied, "It certainly could have. Jim Jones kept a lot of things from me."

    Mr. Freitas, the District Attorney, said that the investigation begun three weeks ago into possible voting irregularities involving temple members had so far established that no such allegations had been brought to the attention of his office during Mr. Stoen's tenure there.

    In August 1977, the District Attorney's office began an investigation of the People's Temple, prompted by an article in New West magazine the previous month alleging that some temple members had been subjected to physical brutality and coerced into deeding their personal property over to Mr. Jones.

    Author's Version Differs

    Although neither the article nor the subsequent investigation touched on possible voter fraud, Phil Tracy, one of the article's co-authors, said in a telephone interview yesterday that he had heard allegations of such fraud and had passed them on to Mr. Freitas in person.

    Mr. Freitas said that he had no recollection of any such conversation with Mr. Tracy.


    "In February 1978 the DA's office (Freitas) told the registrar it was no longer necessary to retain 1975 election files. They were subsequently destroyed."
    Source: "People's Temple and the DA's Office" - San Francisco Exaniner 1-21-79


    Although former temple members recalled that Mr. Jones and his followers worked for the election of Mr. Freitas to the District Attorney's seat, Mr. Freitas said that he had been unaware not only of their support but also of the temple's existence until after his election.

    After he assumed office, however, Mr. Freitas was among those who attended a testimonial dinner in Mr. Jones's honor and last year the People's Temple sent a check for $400, drawn on its own account, to an organization calling itself the Friends of Freitas.

    The temple is a nonprofit California corporation that over the years has claimed an exemption from payment of Federal taxes on religious grounds, and as such it would be prohibited from making contributions to political candidates.

    But aides to Mr. Freitas said that the money had not been earmarked for a future campaign but had been meant to be used by the District Attorney to defray expenses related to his job for which he was not reimbursed by the city.

    An Election Day Trip

    Former temple members have also said that other members living in the San Francisco area had been illegally registered to vote in Ukiah, the site of the Redwood Valley settlement, and then driven there by Mr. Sly and others on election day.

    Wanda Johnson, who took a job in Ukiah as a registrar of voters, said that she had signed up about 20 of the San Francisco residents herself.

    Sometime in 1977, according to Mr. Freitas, the San Francisco district attorney's office learned of alleged voting irregularities involving temple members in Ukiah and passed the information on to authorities there.

    But Duncan James, the Mendocino County District Attorney, said that his office had never received such information from any source.

    Before he moved to San Francisco with Mr. Jones and the majority of the temple's members, Timothy Stoen had worked as an assistant district attorney in Ukiah under Mr. James.


    Freitas, supes challeged in vote scandal
    San Francisco, July 25, 1976

    Now Temple charged with voter fraud
    AP, December 17, 1978

    State Attorney General Tells of Probe in S.F. Vote
    The San Francisco Chronicle, December 22, 1978
    ". . .(a) federal investigation has developed information that (assistant district attorney) Stoen misused his position to obstruct pending investigations that might have adversely impacted on the Peoples Temple of which he was then a member." - California State Attorney General Evelle Younger in a letter to San Francisco District Attorney Joseph Freitas informing him that his office was under investigation.


  2. Yep, pretty incredible.

  3. You'll appreciate this letter to the North Coast Journal, mresquan. I contains details I didn't see in any of hte books on Jonestown. This letter and Stoen's rebuttal/reply is posted here

    Stoen's past:

    I'm sure Tim Stoen would like to bury the past. ("Standing in the Shadows of Jonestown", Sept. 25) He lost his son to Jim Jones' madness. It's hard to imagine a worse punishment for being a fool, and I pity him.

    That he would later seek political office, however tells me he has not honestly faced his past, for he was party to one of the most blatant election frauds in San Francisco history. Consider this sentence in your report:

    "When George Moscone, whom the Temple had supported, was elected mayor of San Francisco, he repaid Jones with a seat on the city's Housing Authority."
    That appointment was no small deal. It would be the equivalent, on the national stage, of nabbing the job of Ambassador to Paris. In other words, Jones did not merely endorse Moscone, he delivered the margin of victory. I know; I was then administrative aide to Supervisor John Barbageleta, the man Moscone beat in the run-off election.

    How Stoen and Jones did this was simplicity itself. The run-off election meant the city needed a new batch of poll-watchers, and the People's temple supplied them, one or two for each precinct.

    At the time, voters signed in sequentially. After the election, which Moscone narrowly won, we examined those sign-in sheets. On each, the last 10 or 12 signatures were in the same hand, with the same pen or pencil. In other words, after everyone voted, the poll-watchers cast ballots on behalf of the no-shows.
    We protested, but the court ruled that even if there had been fraud, there was no way to prove for whom, these fraudulent votes had been cast. Cook County could not have done it more neatly.

    As Stoen himself is quoted in your report, "I went along with Jones' end-justifies-the-means' philosophy."


    Lee Wakefield, Arcata
    North Coast Journal, Thursday, Oct. 2, 2003

  4. So whatever happened with Yunger's investigation of Freitas?

    And was Freitas still in office for the Dan White trial?

  5. Eric,
    Yes, Freitas was in office during Dan White's trial. In fact, the verdict in that trial is what many people, including himself, believe
    all but wrecked his political career. Of course, you know about White's so-called "Twinkie defense" & that he was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter instead of the 1st degree murder charges S.F. DA Freitas' office was seeking. That verdict also set off what became known as the "White Night Riots" in S.F.
    Nothing came of Evelle Younger's investigation of Freitas. Nothing!
    You still haven't read "Raven", have you?


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