Rogues’ gallery

Add Richard Pan’s name to the list of legislative scofflaws

Our state senator, Jim Nielsen, isn’t the only elected official accused of not living in his district. Add state Assemblyman Richard Pan to the list, which also includes Los Angeles-area state Sen. Rod Wright and L.A. Councilman Richard Alarcón.

Credit Sacramento Bee reporter Jim Sanders with busting Pan. For several nights Sanders hung out in front of the Pocket-area condo Pan had sworn he lived in, under penalty of perjury, so he could run in the 9th Assembly District. Sanders saw no signs of occupancy there. When he camped in front of Pan’s Natomas home, outside the district, he saw Pan and his family there every night. Oops.

The result was the biggest front-page story in the Wednesday, March 13, issue of the Bee. It was headlined, in inch-high type, “Lawmaker seldom at ‘home.’”

Sanders’ piece also called attention to the cases of Wright and Alarcón, both of whom are facing criminal charges. He made no mention, however, of Nielsen.

Two days later, the Bee’s editorial board jumped into action, calling on Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully to launch an investigation. “The available information suggests that Pan is, at the very least, skirting the law by keeping his real residence in Natomas,” the editorial reads.

I hope the Bee has better luck than we’ve had. On several occasions the CN&R has called on Tehama County DA Gregg Cohen to look into Nielsen’s claim that he lives in a doublewide mobile home in Gerber cow country, rather than the expensive house in Woodland, outside his district, that he actually resides in.

After all, Nielsen is the biggest rogue in this particular gallery. The others have fibbed about their residences only once, but he’s done it twice—and, apparently, gotten away with it both times.

Funny story: Jerry Olenyn did a nifty piece for Redding’s KRCR-TV news about my impending retirement, announced here last week. But when my wife went online to watch it and typed my name in the search box, the story that came up, from about a year ago, was headlined “Sex Offender Arrested for Urinating in Front of Civic Auditorium.”

It seems that 45-year-old Robert Speer, who is from Ceres, in the San Joaquin Valley, was really drunk when police officers found him. They arrested him on an outstanding warrant, failing to register as a sex offender, urinating in public and public intoxication. It wasn’t clear whether he’d attended the auditorium show by the rock band Five Finger Death Punch.

For whatever reason, KRCR posted that story but not Jerry’s profile of me. I’m enjoying the dose of humility.

Mind opener of the week: If you have a stereotyped notion of mentally ill homeless people, this week’s cover story will challenge it. Author Don Regis-Bilar is mentally ill, and he’s homeless as a result, but he’s also a smart man—and a heck of a writer—who defies anyone’s stereotype. His story offers valuable insight into the world the homeless inhabit as seen by someone who’s been there. We’re pleased and proud to present it.

Robert Speer is editor of the CN&R.