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Probe: Jan. 24, 2002

January 24, 2002

RUBEN'S CHIVAS — Five years ago I sold my friend Ruben a little piece of ground near Niland. He never missed a payment.

Ruben and his wife, Jackie, scratched out a meager living raising brush fire goats. It wasn't much but Jackie and Ruben didn't have much going for them.

Last summer, when Jackie and Ruben had some marital discord, Jackie went to San Diego for a few weeks. Ruben hired a man to feed his livestock and went to New Mexico to look at a piece of property. Apparently, the caretaker left.

The couple owned 80 goats, two horses, a llama and a flock of chickens and geese.

When there was a complaint that Ruben's animals were being neglected, the county animal control officer investigated.

When Ruben came home, his animals had been moved to his neighbor's place. When he went down to retrieve them, his neighbor claimed county animal control "gave" him Ruben's livestock.


After the resulting dispute, Ruben was arrested for trespassing and his animals were declared "abandoned."

Now Ruben is in Patton State Hospital and his wife is alone, trying to rebuild the goat herd.

Ruben and Jackie were deprived of their property without "due process" guaranteed under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

According to the log entry at the county Sheriff's Office, the Niland Fire Department reported Ruben's animals to be abandoned when Ruben obviously wanted them. Why? — Ruben's Concerned Friend

Niland Fire Chief Mike Aleksick said the Fire Department did not file a neglect or abandonment complaint. It simply responded with water at the request of county animal control.

The livestock was apparently "given" to the neighbor before Ruben was arrested and before it was officially declared abandoned. So much for due process.

MORE ON WORK BOOT FIGHT — When the work boot issue came up, Dan DeVoy in the county personnel office said the matter would be negotiated.

In the beginning, the employees voted for the boots but they thought they would get $150 to buy safety footware. It didn't happen.

The county had Keiko's measure the guys' feet and order the boots. Nobody had a chance to try on the boots before getting them. The guys claim their new boots pinch and hurt.

When this came up before, DeVoy said he had heard nothing about "monitoring" boot use. When the boots came in, the county laid down the rules. Anybody violating the rules will be "written up."

The boots must be worn every day. They must be cleaned, oiled and polished. The owner of Keiko's will decide when the boots must be replaced or may be repaired. If that's not monitoring, what is it? — Booted, Holtville

It's paying close attention to details. You have to believe in Santa Claus to think the county would pay for boots without laying down the rules for use.

FUND RAISER FOR TOT — Employees of Holly Sugar are having a barbecue for Marya Silva, the toddler with leukemia. When you mentioned this in PROBE, you got the date wrong. The barbecue is Feb. 23. — Cindy, Brawley

You didn't send us a phone number so about all we can do is include your e-mail address. If you want to know more, e-mail:

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