Failed Gallegos lawsuit one more obstacle for community to overcome
On April 24, the California Supreme Court put an end to District Attorney Gallegos’ lawsuit against the Pacific Lumber Company. This, after five years of litigation including: 1) having the suit thrown out by the trial court for failure to meet minimum standards to be allowed to go to trial; and 2) a unanimous decision by the appeals court explaining at length why the suit could have no merit as filed. It was a political prosecution and citizens should look at the nature and cost of this exercise.
Gallegos touted himself as courageous in this fight — but no, this quality was lacking as seen in his decision to duck charging the Arkley/Glass matter, sending it to the attorney general instead. The fight was also billed as one against corruption, but the courts resoundingly disagreed.
The most obvious cost is the scores of thousands of dollars in salaries and other expenses paid for by taxpayers. More subtle is the opportunity cost of having these prosecutorial resources not spent on other things — for instance, sexual, child or elder abuse cases, innovative programs to fight drug abuse, or consumer fraud. These forms of corruption are more insidious, and strike at everyone.
The greatest cost, however, was the reckless shredding of the fabric of the Humboldt County community. The greater the power, the greater the need for humility and restraint in its exercise. With PALCO now prostrate in bankruptcy, the lingering bitterness engendered by the Gallegos lawsuit will be one more obstacle for our community to overcome.