Tomorrow, the Orange County Bar Association will hold its yearly Judges' Night & Annual Meeting at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach. There, the group will install one Michael L. Baroni as their new president. And, if all goes according to plan, more than a few lawyers will walk out to protest what a huge ass Baroni is.
Who's Baroni? He's an East Coast guy, a graduate of Boston College and Hofstra University, and his LinkedIn page says he's legal counsel for Palace Entertainment (the company that runs Raging Waters and Castle Park in Riverside) and sits on the board of directors for the California Attractions and Parks Association, the official lobbying arm of the Golden State's tourist-park industry. "Michael is very proud of his career track record of instilling ethics and professionalism, setting standards of civility, and fostering kind and supportive team-oriented behavior," writes one David S. Cohen in this month's cover story for Orange County Lawyer, the official publication of the OCBA. "He does it by clearly setting and communicating the standards of behavior, and encouraging these standards (through training, one-on-one coaching, and—where warranted—appropriate discipline). Michael does not get on his high horse when doing so. Rather, his mantra is, 'Always treat people with respect, kindness, and in a manner that allows them to keep their dignity.'"
Seems fine enough, no? But you start getting a sense that Baroni ain't exactly an SJW later in Cohen's profile, when Baroni states, "I want to integrate District Attorneys and law enforcement. We need to promote the reverse narrative that has been in the media, that most cops are racist and trigger-happy.”
You know, the same DA under federal investigation in the ongoing jailhouse snitch scandal, in a county where cops and sheriff's deputies have made killing unarmed men and women of all races a sport for decades.
To get a better sense of Baroni's ideals, you have to be a paying member of the OCBA—or, better yet, know your way around Google—to read his first president's letter in this month's Orange County Lawyer. Titled "United We Stand: Defending the American Dream," Baroni's missive reads like a blog post written by a YAFer, with purple lines like "Stars lit up in his eyes, for America's might, heroism, and promise" and "tyrannical kings."
It gets better. How did Baroni feel about the previous presidential administration and the press?
"Orange County is a shining jewel of America’s potential. But sadly, America—and Orange County—have been battered in recent decades. Our constitutional gifts of 'inalienable' rights and protections have been shredded by the seemingly insatiable claws of a monstrously burgeoning, and invasive, government. Never before have we had so many political leaders, Supreme Court Justices, activists, academics and media, lobby against our Constitution as an outdated, out-of-touch document."
How about immigrants?
"America’s treasured, founding values and ideals, and the “American Dream” itself, are under an unprecedented attack from those who should appreciate it the most—immigrants. Never before has our country opened itself to so many people who openly express contempt for it, or who are blankly dispassionate for it—as opposed to thankfully embracing this country with every cell of their being (as my father, and past waves of immigrants, did). Many refugees have and continue to relocate into our towns and cities, not to assimilate into American culture and ideals, but to remake [emphasis his] this land into the very kind of oppressive and volatile nation that they escaped from in the first place."
(Someone take Baroni to a Little Italy Mob hangout to see how Italians remade NYC into Mafialand).
And Baroni just gets stupider and stupider from there. He cites a "recent social media movement" of people "proudly urinating" on the American flag and "stuffing the 'stars and stripes' between their naked buttocks." (Funny: I follow WorldStarHipHop, 4chan, Crying Jordan AND Evil Kermit and have never seen either of those "trends" rise. And various Google searches turn up nothing remotely constituting a "movement). He claims that "in major cities, groups unabashedly chant 'DEATH TO AMERICA!'" offering as evidence, "I have personally witnessed [it] in my travels." Counsel doesn't even bother offering proof to support his whine that "many college graduates...can't even tell you who fought in the Civil War...or how long America has been around." For chrissakes, he name-drops Susan Kang Schroeder as one of OC's "potently passionate, patriotic leaders in the legal and political arenas." Susan's only a leader of her closet, bruh.
Besides, facts seem like playthings to Baroni. One of his platforms for 2017 is "Honoring Law Enforcement," because in his view:
"Police forces across the nation are under a sweeping, propagandist-style attack, based on utterly false factual premises and narratives. This politically orchestrated, villainous attack has stirred up racial hatred, and literally threatens to undermine our civil security and stability."
As proof of the War on Cops, he writes that "murders [emphasis his] of police officers have increased by a horrifying 80% in 2016 compared to 2015." He tellingly offers no source, because stats by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF)—not exactly the most cop-hating group out there, and a group that tracks the numbers of law enforcement personnel killed in the line of duty going back to 1791— show only a 10 percent increase in officer fatalities from 2015. That's why Baroni emphasizes the nebulous word "murder," which, as we know in Orange County, the DA sics on anyone they feel caused an officer's death, even if they never encountered an officer.
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Even using NLEOMF's stats, Baroni's claim wilts. 64 officers were killed by gunfire in 2016, a 56 percent rise from 2015—but that's not 80 percent. NLEOMF's figures do show 52 officers in 2015 were killed "feloniously." Although the organization didn't make such distinction in officer deaths in its final report last year, they listed 76 felonious deaths for officers through the third quarter—a 42 percent rise. Given NLEOMF stats show just two officers died as a result of gunshots in the fourth quarter of 2016, it's highly unlikely that Baroni's 80% figure was reached for 2016. More telling, Officer Down Memorial Page (ODMP) Director of Research Steven Weiss talked to Breitbart Texas—another organization that isn't exactly anti-cop—about a "53 percent overall increase in officers murdered in the performance of duty" from 2015 to 2016"—his words, not Breitbart's or mine.
How dumb is Baroni? Just yesterday, the OCBA board of directors executive committee had to print an apology for Baroni's first letter. The conclusion:
"And while the discussion of controversial legal issues may be appropriate, we do not believe the Orange County Lawyer magazine is the proper forum to debate national political issues or to express polarizing political opinions. We want to make it clear that neither the OCBA as an organization nor the Executive Committee or the Board of Directors necessarily endorses the views expressed by Mr. Baroni in his President’s Page; they are solely the opinions of Mr. Baroni. And, to the extent those opinions appearing in an OCBA publication offended any of our members, we sincerely apologize."
It's going to be a fun Annual Meeting tomorrow! See you there!