Simitian aide arrested for drunkenness, vandalism

State senator counsels staff member to take responsibility for actions

A senior field representative to California Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) was arrested for public drunkenness and vandalism on Nov. 13, after two police officers witnessed him lift a city-owned concrete cigarette receptacle and smash it on the sidewalk, according to Palo Alto police.

Police were monitoring activities at Lytton Plaza on University Avenue and Emerson Street after a crowd of Stanford University football fans had gathered. Tyler Haskell, 30, and a friend were observed walking in the plaza at 1:15 a.m. when he bumped into the heavy, freestanding receptacle and knocked it over, Agent Rich Bullerjahn said.

"Instead of picking it upright, he picked it up and threw it in the air and shattered it on the sidewalk," Bullerjahn said Wednesday (Nov. 16).

Police approached Haskell and observed that he was "so intoxicated he couldn't take care of himself," Bullerjahn said. He was arrested on one count of public drunkenness and one count of misdemeanor vandalism and booked into the San Jose Main Jail. He was released on bail.

Haskell joined Simitian's district office in Palo Alto in September 2008, according to the state senator's website. He previously worked as a legislative assistant at a national trade association and was a U.S. Senate Budget Committee staff assistant for two years.

His work with Simitian includes community outreach, constituent assistance, health and human services, labor, gay and transgendered communities, seniors and the "There Oughta Be a Law" contest. He is the Santa Clara County liaison, according to the website.

Simitian on Wednesday praised Haskell's work for his office but also said that he expects accountability from his employee.

"Tyler has done first-rate work in my office for the past three years," Simitian said. "The only thing I said to him was that whatever did or didn't happen, he needs to accept responsibility for his actions."

Haskell declined to comment.

Cindy Hendrickson, supervising deputy district attorney, said she did not yet know if Haskell would be charged. Misdemeanor cases in which the person is released usually take awhile before arraignment, she said.

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