Off The Record

by AVA News Service, March 2, 2011

THE MEMORIAL GATHERING last Sunday for John Ross was, like the man, memorable, complete with a perfectly timed presentation of spoken recollections from close friends and musical interludes, including one where the old Mime Troupe Band belted out the Internationale. I've never been with people who meant it more, and there were so many people on the second floor of the gracious old United Mission Presbyterian Church it was standing room only. For a cantankerous old guy John managed to keep a lot of friends. I don't know if I was one or not, but I think he was at least kindly disposed, although when he called he'd start off the one-way conversation by peppering me with insults before, finally, getting to whatever it was he'd called for. But the insults were always punctuated with a chuckle. He once called me a "bleeping Menshevik" and I had to say, "Well, gee, John, you're lucky to be writing for an editor who knows what a menshevik is." That got a laugh out of him, and if he could read this he'd double denounce me for bleeping him. Which is why I did it. There were a lot of people who looked at least vaguely familiar until it occurred to me that they were only vaguely familiar because I hadn't seen them in fifty years, and here they were, like me, suddenly old. But not tired, not defeated, and still lively and talk talk talk. Afterwards, led by the band, we all walked back up Shotwell, across Mission, south on Valencia to Boheme on 24th near Mission, John's old hangout. En route the young trendies looked out of their zinc coffee bars, wondering where all the old beatniks had come from.

THE NORTHCOAST JOURNAL already misses Hank Sims. When you ease out a talented writer with real roots in a place, trade that guy for some out-of-town person, as Sims was recently moved aside for a business reporter from the SF Chronicle named Abate, the publication will suffer. Sims knows and hugely loves Humboldt County, as was evident from his work. Even if Abate someday makes up the Sims deficit, and off his first efforts I'd say Abate is going backwards, the new guy will never be half as good as Sims was. We were alerted to a radio interview with Abate, K-SLG I think, during which Abate came off as wacky, if not all the way unhinged. Replacing the irreplaceable Sims with this guy was an odd move by the otherwise sensible Judy Hodgson, co-owner of the paper. Hank's working as a freelancer with the Eureka Times-Standard, doing some radio work, and is about to launch a column, which we're pleased to say we'll be running here, the newsprint home for good writers without a home.

CONSENT CALENDAR ITEM 5: Every year the Supervisors accept a pro forma report from the Mendocino County Office of Education about local schools that don't meet state mandated testing levels. These reports from MCOE to the Supervisors are required by the “Williams Settlement,” the result of a lawsuit filed by the ACLU alleging that the state's poorest children were being denied equal educational opportunity due to a lack of sufficient educational materials, safe school facilities and qualified teachers.

MCOE'S Williams Site Review Team was formed when the lawsuit was settled in 2004 to make sure that Paul Tichinin's hardhitting staff would make sure that Mendocino County's schools were not only fully habitable but contained sufficient books, pencils and paper.

AND EVERY YEAR County Superintendent of Schools Tichinin, who pulls in $120,000 for no visible work product, reports, as he has again this year, “Each of the site visitations were a positive and professional experience, characterized by a collaborative focus on improving student achievement to insure equal educational opportunities for all children in Mendocino County,” concluding this blather- platter of pure bullshit with, “There were over 2400 students directly affected by the school site visits and I am proud to state that they are all receiving a quality education by caring and dedicated staff in safe and appropriate facilities.”

IN LIVING FACT, 12 Mendocino County schools, six of them in Ukiah, did not meet Williams Settlement standards. These schools just happen to serve the County's poorest students.

MORE BAD NEWS from Mendocino Village: The Little League ballpark is getting squeezed by a new dog park, a new community garden, an exercise circuit (whatever that is), and a Petanque court which, I'm told, is a game for wheezes kinda like bocce ball. In other words, more stuff for adults, and all of it extraneous to the point of, well, pointlessness.

A COAST READER WRITES: "Esplanade had been having connection problems for over two months and now is just G-O-N-E. Marshall is saying he can’t fix equipment? Thought only intellectual property had been hacked here? Teri Saya has hijacked the dns and registrar info? Okay Marshall call them up and tell them she doesn’t have permission. Send them a copy of the restraining order and get it together. What? That isn’t really the problem? Funny, I went to esplanade.us and read all the emails and replies. The web address actually changed to terisayaenterprises. So if Teri hijacked the site and Marshall can’t access any of it, who is answering the emails? Nothing but wailing and finger pointing seems to be going on. And can’t refund our yearly fees that were just paid? More and more suspicious. Time to call the credit card company and claim fraud on part of Esplanade. More here than meets the eye."

FAMILY AND FRIENDS of Eric Christopher Grant have begun a reward for information on the missing man. Grant, 30, was a biologist with the Mendocino Redwood Company. He was single and lived alone in Fort Bragg. No known enemies, not a drug guy or otherwise impaired. Grant's MRC truck was found on October 27th in the parking space called Navarro Headlands Vista Point near the junction of Navarro Ridge Road and Highway One. He was last seen at about noon in the King's Ridge area off Navarro Ridge Road's east end. His truck was found about 6 p.m. that day at the vista point lot where Grant was known to take lunch breaks. Anyone with information is urged to call the Sheriff's Office Fort Bragg substation at 964-6308.

QIONG WANG, 31, the persistent ab poacher busted two weeks in a row in Mendocino County, and in Petaluma the week before his first arrest here, did not act alone. It took another guy to help  Wang get arrested a total of three times for ab theft in the brief month of February. Twice Wang was arrested with a fellow named David Trevors, once, Boonville, Wang managed to get arrested all by himself. Wang's saga went regional then international last week as it was retailed in the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Jose Mercury News and several on-line publications — including Hong-Kong based Sina.

THE COUNTY OF MENDOCINO is still hiring, especially at its top end. There's an Assistant CEO position available to the right (female) person, County admin being pretty much a matriarchy anymore, and You Got A Problem With That, Mr. Man? (Not me. I was fond of my mom.) The Assistant CEO job is really the Budget Manager position left vacant when Jennifer Wyatt left in May. The work, which consists of watching money disappear, pays about $80,000.

WILL THE SUPES drop the Vet's Office? No. The vote to spare it might even be unanimous. Supervisor Hamburg said Monday that while he might be anti-War, he certainly isn't anti-Vet. Supervisors McCowen and Pinches are adamantly for retention of the office, and Carre Brown's husband is a veteran, which should translate as a Yes vote from Supervisor Brown. Which leaves Supervisor Smith. If she thinks she can get free vaccinations for her dogs, she'll probably vote for the vets, too. This three-person office costs the County about $134,000 net, but brings in several annual millions in benefits and services to veterans. Why and how the Vet's office got on the CEO Angelo's hit list borders on the weird.

FORT BRAGG'S new police chief is Scott Mayberry. Scott, born and bred in FB, was a pretty good basketball player at Fort Bragg High School back in the early 1980s while his dad, Joe Mayberry, served as FB's police chief. Scott has lately been working with the Redding Police Department. The infamous and eminently solvable Fort Bragg Fires of 1987 occurred while Joe Mayberry was Fort Bragg's chief of police. In one gala night of brazen arsons, Fort Bragg's Ten Mile Justice Court, the adjacent town library and the Piedmont Hotel all were destroyed. The court and the library were torched as a diversion, the Piedmont being the target. Mayberry's tiny department quickly identified the young men who'd set the fires and also had figured out who'd coordinated the big event for its sponsors. I've always assumed old Joe also knew who the shot callers were, information he undoubtedly passed along. He did a very good job on the biggest crime ever committed in Fort Bragg, a better job than the delegation of FBI and ATF agents who soon appeared on scene. The net investigative work product bounced back and forth between the feds and local DA Susan Massini and, finally came to rest in Massini's office where the statute of limitations ran, and the crooks who burned the historical heart out of Fort Bragg got clean away with it. The big event still scares certain peripherally involved people to this day, scares them so thoroughly they still won't talk about it. Why? The guy responsible would just as soon knock you off as look at you, and may indeed have murdered one of the torches the day before that kid was scheduled to testify before a federal grand jury in San Francisco. His death was ruled a "probable suicide." (We tell the story of the fires in exhaustive but hopefully not exhausting detail in Mendocino Noir, available at your neighborhood bookstore or through TheAVA.com).

FEDERAL BANK REGULATORS are leaning on Northcoast banks for more information about certain depositors. Translation: The feds want to know more about people in the dope business. But the banks say the added paperwork is too much and are simply closing the accounts of medical marijuana clinics. Of course lots of people in the biz don't use banks anyway unless they have some kind of plausible front business.

SHIELA DAWN TRACY of The Green Party of Mendocino County writes: "The Green Party would like to acknowledge & honor the many contributions of Richard Johnson, one of its' founding members. Johnson has held a seat on the Green Party's County Council since its inception in 1996 & is an instrumental force in building a viable third party. Among his many accomplishments, Richard Johnson is one of the authors of Measure G, the first countywide initiative to be passed regarding recreational marijuana use. A vigilant & prolific journalist, he is the publisher of four local newspapers, among them, Mendocino Country and El Sol, the first published newspaper to serve the Latino community. A tireless ocean protection advocate, Johnson has authored many articles in the past regarding federal offshore lease sales for oil exploration. Recently, he has penned & circulated numerous petitions against the U.S. Navy’s war training exercises in the Pacific Ocean. Johnson originated the use of a database of progressive voters known as the Voters Union to support progressive candidates & causes in local elections. He also has made steadfast use of the judicial system in the protection of civil liberties. In appreciation of his vision, dedication & perseverance in the realm of citizen activism, the members of the Green Party of Mendocino County extend their heartfelt gratitude."

THE SUBJECT WAS WATER. The venue was KQED's Forum of Friday, February 18th. A wacky Republican (Is there any other kind?) named Devin Nunes, an errand boy for corporate ag, recently inserted amendments into the Continuing Resolution Bill to defund restoration efforts for Sacramento and San Joaquin River salmon. The House of Representatives passed the bill with Nunes' amendments on February 19th. Nunes had denounced the core opposition of mostly fishermen as "environmental wackos." Host Dave Iverson asked Congressman Mike Thompson for comment on Nunes' probably lethal shot at what was once a lush annual salmon run.

THOMPSON VERBATIM: "Well, I listened to part of the interview and I, I, I, I, was a little stunned. Um, this has been something that, uh, uh, the, the, the court ordered a settlement on this that, uh, that, uh, had been, uh, tied up in, uh, almost 20 years of, of litigation, uh, this is something that has been assessed and, and reassessed, uh, over the years and the, uh, the solution, the, uh, uh, the, uh, the efforts that, uh, uh, that, uh, Devin are, uh, is trying to unwind, uh, came about, uh, through, uh, some pretty extensive work, on, behart…, on behalf of people on of the, of the proverbial, uh, partisan divide, and, uh, I think that, uh, that the, uh, the… what I heard, uhhhh, uh, you just can’t make those sort of things up. Uh, I don’t think it’s a wacko, left-wing conspiracy, to, uh, do whatever it was he was talking about and we’re talking about, uh, uh, restoring, uh, an area, uh, that is important to not only the ecosystem of, of, of California, but, uh, the heart and soul of, uh, the fishing industry and fishing communities in California and, uh, it’s something that has been, uh, uh, that uh, it, it, it’s something that was destroyed and uh and uh, now, this solution puts it back together. Is it the solution that… Is it the perfect solution? I suspect that… We know that Mr. Nunes doesn’t think it is. You know, I don’t think that, uh, that, uh, folks who, in the fishing communities think it is, but, uh, it’s, it’s the best solution that can be, uh, that could be found, it … And the idea that, um, to unwind it, literally, by amendment, uh, in the eleventh hour uh, is pretty absurd.... Well, I think it’s, I think it’s greater than that. I think the elimination of the biological opinion component, uh, would not only, um, harm the, the fisheries, but I think that has the potential of stopping the, uh, the water transfers throughout the, uh, the south of the Delta area. So I think Mr. Nunes, uh, uh, am… amendment, although I know what he’s trying to do, he’s trying to, uh, suck more water south of the Delta for, uh, his agricultural interest, uh, in his area, uh, at the, uh, at the expense of, uh, the fishing community in Northern California, uh, a community that as you know has been shut down, uh, for, uh, a number of past seasons, we’ve seen, uh, jobs and businesses, uh, hit real hard because of illegal water transfers and he’s trying to legitimize those illegal water transfers uh, by this effort, but I think that by the way he’s doing it may in fact hurt water, uh, existing water transfers, uh, south of the Delta, uh, to Southern California agricultural interests, and, and, and communities, it’s one of the problems when you try and, uh, try and, uh, slap something together, and, uh, in some sort of political charade as we’re seeing unfold as we’re seeing on the, on the floor right now."

IF THE HEALTH of the Delta and the survival of the fish depend on this guy, say goodbye to both.

ANTON KLOIBER, 34, is in trouble. He's looking at a charge of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and has already pleaded guilty to two felony counts of negligent discharge of a firearm during two exciting in-home episodes over the Christmas holidays. Kloiber's recent rampages also include charges of inflicting corporal injury on a spouse, assault with a firearm, child endangerment, damaging a phone line and making threats.

All these charges stemmed from his holiday season flip-outs, during one of which Kloiber fired a shotgun into an inside wall of his Piercy home during a dispute with his wife as debris from the blast hit the couple's 10-year-old son in the back. Kloiber also ripped a phone out of the wall, pointed the shotgun at his wife, hit her in the forehead with it, and threatened to kill her when she tried to take the gun away. DA Eyster, who seems to have had his tongue all the way into his cheek, commented, “I believe this case has a mental health component.”

FRIENDS OF THE GUALALA RIVER sponsors a special public presentation on Thursday, March 3, 7:00 p.m., at the Gualala Arts Center by hard-hitting, investigative reporter Will Parrish on the ecological toll of California's wine industry. His recent series for the Anderson Valley Advertiser documents consequences of the wine industry's environmentally destructive and political march across northern California's coastal counties. Will's presentation will emphasize the rapacious vineyard development planned for the Gualala River watershed. For more information about this free event, go to www.GualalaRiver.org That’s Thursday, March 3, 7:00 p.m., at the Gualala Arts Center.

THE LONG DELAYED hearing on the County's Medical Marijuana Cultivation Ordinance was finally argued last Friday by Edie Lerman and J. David Nick. The ace attorneys asserted that because Proposition 215 says medical marijuana patients may possess, cultivate and use marijuana they can then grow as much as they need, and grow it where it is convenient to them, which is kinda like saying if you eat steak you can have a feed lot in your back yard. A decision is expected from Mendo Superior Court Judge Behnke in 90 days.

MARK WUERFUL, the San Francisco attorney and thrice busted Laytonville pot farmer sought to intervene as a “friend of the court.” Wuerful managed to offend the judge by announcing that he had clerked for an appellate judge and “knew what judges want.” Wuerful also complained that County Counsel Jeanine Nadel and her deputy had refused to meet with him to work out his legal problems, although criminal cases like his are handled by the DA.

WUERFUL WILL WALK on his three criminal cases because of the woeful incompetence that was the hallmark of the previous DA where it grew so old that to bring it now amounts to elder abuse. New DA Eyster is establishing clear pot prosecution guidelines with a focus on trespass grows and large-scale gun guy grows.

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