Last week’s bad news

Jeff vonKaenel

For a wannabe believer in American exceptionalism, last week was tough. It seemed that every day we had another story of America stepping in dog poop, instead of being the City on a Hill. And to make it worse, we did our part, right here in River City, to make America crappier.

At the national level, we have AT&T officials admitting that they have been funneling money to Donald Trump’s attorney, Michael Cohen—not for lawyerly services, but rather for his “insight.” Given that AT&T management is trying to get federal approval for a controversial $85 billion merger with Time Warner, they admittedly need a lot of insight.

AT&T also likes to party with people who are approving mergers. The company was one of the largest donors to the orange-haired commander-in-chief’s inaugural shindig, ponying up a whopping $2 million. Where other presidential inaugurations have given considerable money to charities, Trump paid $57 million to four party organizers, while only donating $5 million to charity. One of these organizers was a friend of Melania Trump’s; that woman was paid $26 million dollars, despite the fact that her company was formed only two weeks before the inauguration. An official with a government watchdog group called these payments “fiscal mismanagement at its worst.”

Also last week, we heard Donald Trump vowing to “bring soaring drug prices back down to Earth.” After hearing the details of Trump’s non-plan, including his broken campaign promise to have the government directly negotiate drug prices, and his broken campaign promise to allow prescription drugs to be imported from overseas, Wall Street got the message. Big Pharma’s stock prices soared. After Trump’s speech, one thing is clear. The Republican / Drug Company War on Americans will continue.

Here in Sacramento, we have District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, who has a well-deserved reputation for selective law enforcement. One set of rules for cops, who never get prosecuted, no matter what they do. And one set of rules for poor criminals. Let’s throw the book at them.

Schubert has yet another set of rules for white-collar crimes. Those white-collar cases are difficult and time-consuming. And white collar criminals often have well-paid attorneys, who may win. So there is little focus on those crimes.

Schubert did find the time to use the power of her office to charge her opponent, Noah Phillips, with prosecutorial misconduct. Right before the election. At a hearing last week, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Curtis Fiorini was clearly skeptical of Schubert’s claims. It should be noted that the other person who Schubert has charged with prosecutorial misconduct was her previous opponent in the district attorney’s race, Maggie Krell.

And finally, here in Sacramento we have a neighborhood association representing Alkali and Mansion Flats fighting a plan to build a hospice shelter for homeless people who face imminent death. While our zoning laws may allow them to do this, if there is an afterlife and a judgmental God, the members of the neighborhood association should be concerned.

Not a good week for our city and country. Maybe next week will be better.

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About the Author

Jeff vonKaenel
Jeff vonKaenel is the president, CEO and majority owner of the News & Review newspapers in Sacramento, Chico and Reno.