Off The Record
by AVA News Service, March 31, 2011
IN THE EARLY 1960's, the Reverend Jim Jones read an article in Esquire magazine that said Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and Mendocino County, America, were the two best places to be during a nuclear holocaust. Jones, who took the possibility of plutonium poisoning and Esquire more seriously than anyone else in the world, soon set up a church in Belo Horizonte but soon returned to his home base in Indianapolis when, apparently, the Hoosier mother church nearly collapsed without his charismatic presence. Jones returned from Brazil and, in 1965, moved his small congregation and a Brazilian monkey to Redwood Valley where both were soon on exhibit. Jones was so broke when he arrived in 1965 that he had to take a job as a teacher in Boonville. He got the job through a fellow transplanted Hoosier who was then Boonville's superintendent of schools and, like Jones, a Christian. Of sorts. But very soon, roughly three years, via a series of welfare scams and the importation of mostly black parishioners from the San Francisco Bay Area whose property Jones appropriated for himself and whose persons he used as funding units for his church, Jones was a very big shot in Mendocino County. He was foreman of the Grand Jury and a go-to guy for outback politicos. By the early 1970's Jones left Redwood Valley for San Francisco where the Democratic Party apparatus did a lot more to advance him than any single individual did and the rest, as they say, is history. It's clear (to me anyway) that given the porousness of today's local, state and federal institutions — total strangers, often reinventions of themselves, are routinely elected to office, often here in Mendocino County where, from your local public radio station to your local school board, implausible persons are making decisions that affect your life, and seldom for the better. Jones is as likely in Mendocino County today as he was then.
NOT THAT THE OLD BOY was much for life's little jokes, but I wonder if even the Rev might find it ironic that Mendocino County, in the spring of 2011, is apparently directly in the drift of an open-ended series of poisonous clouds setting off from distant Japan for sister cities in Fort Bragg and Point Arena?
THINKING ABOUT JONES coincides with the mostly bogus news last week from the SF Chronicle and the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, and of course uncritically circulated by the faith-based news outlets of the Pacifica Network, about how Darryl Cherney and Dennis Cunningham had gotten a federal court order to retrieve bomb frags from the FBI from the device that blew up Judi Bari and Cherney in downtown Oakland back in 1990. Cunningham is one of the Bari lawyers who, along with the FBI's tax paid attorneys from the Justice Department, successfully co-edited the federal libel lawsuit that won a little more than four mil for Cherney and Bari's two daughters. I say co-edited because the lucrative libel suit was drafted to exclude all mention of what actually happened and who might have been involved. (In a special hearing that yours truly was not invited to attend, and didn't even know about until it was a done deal, I and four other skeptics were put on a special Do Not Call As Witnesses List. Cunningham and the FBI's attorney had conveniently sat down together to agree to exclude us and, yes, we're talking co-dependence here.)
SINCE AT LEAST THE 1950s there's been a built-in audience of reading disabled "leftists" to whom all you have to say, "The FBI did it" and they immediately sit down and write checks. For a period of years here in Credulity County, Alicia Little Tree Bales, Annie Esposito and an unregistered sex offender based in Little River called Nick Wilson (hide your girl children, mommies!), were the designated censors at KZYX and other slo-mo local venues on matters related to the "mystery" car bomb that murdered Bari over seven long, painful years. Estelle Fennell, otherwise an honest reporter, fulfilled the censor function at KMUD, and that self-alleged investigative reporter at KPFA, Dennis Bernstein, still runs interference for the scam in the Bay Area. The corporate media never was much interested in who done it, and count that as one more reason this thing is still a "mystery." Mike Geniella at the PD could have wrapped the thing up in a couple of weeks if his editors had given him the green light. But when media have been de-balled and dumbed down to what you see these days, well, you can steal billions and get away with it, can't you?
AS I READ THE STORIES last week in the Chron and the Press Democrat about how Cherney and Cunningham, now that they have some bomb parts, will be able to go to a lab they "trust" to get the frags honestly analyzed, I thought I heard Judi Bari laughing from the Great Tree Sit Beyond. Cherney and Cunningham, you see, are looking for fingerprints, maybe even dna, and if they have these frags fresh from twenty years federal custody, they just might get the evidentiary goods on the person or persons who did it.
ANYBODY WHO BELIEVES that is an absolute, irredeemable moron hence, one might say, its prevalence in certain NorCal circles. In living fact, Cherney, Cunningham et al have a vested interest — $4 million's worth — in not finding the bomber. Cherney long ago bought himself a pot farm near Garberville with his share of the money he won not finding the bomber. Judi Bari's already wealthy daughters, now apparently adults of the non-skeptical type, long ago banked their share of the big federal bo-nanz-a-rini derived from not finding the bomber. Cunningham already had more than enough operating capital before not finding the bomber to buy all the Geritol and prostate meds he's going to need before he finally shuffles off to PC Heaven.
THE TRUTH IS, if the bomber, who happens to be Bari's ex-husband, walked up and introduced himself to Cherney and Cunningham and said, "Hi, I'm Mike Sweeney and I made the bomb that blew up my second former wife," Cherney and Cunningham would run the other way. So would their co-dependents at the FBI.
A OLD POT GROWER writes: "That thing you ran last week about that grower who said it costs him a thousand dollars to grow eight hundred dollars of bud. He's either incompetent or he's lying. I've grown since 1969, and still grow some for personal use but well within the Sheriff's guidelines. I haven't gotten a card because who in their right mind would go to the cops for something like this? In reality to grow good marijuana is simply a matter of good seeds in good soil. Nutrients and so on are available free, as is manure from anybody who owns a horse or who can walk out to the beach for some seaweed. Nothing you need to buy. People whine about how hard they work and then you see them, or used to see them until last year, buying cars and trucks for cash and pay their $6,000 power bills for a month in hundreds and fifties. Cash. I believe in medical marijuana but I get tired of all the whining. Whether pot 6% or 22%, who cares? But this guy saying that it costs him a thousand bucks to produce one pound of pot is a moron and a liar. There is something in this plant that really makes a diff in our normal life. Call me hippie dippie or whatever. Putting high tech chemicals on this blessed substance is incorrect. It's a weed. Give it good soil it does well. Who the hell wants a six pound plant? Most of the dope out there is bad dope. "Knocks you down"? What's the point of that? Maybe he's paying so many people that it runs up his costs, but the whole price structure of this stuff is ludicrous."
THIS JUST IN from Craig Stehr: “Warm spiritual greetings, I am fully ready to relocate to the Washington D.C. area to be on the frontlines of radical environmentalism and peace and justice. As ever, I encourage everyone who is serious about destroying materialism in all of its guises, to be centered within themselves and then act directly. If my message is appreciated by you, then please respond to my request for a place to sleep and use a bathroom. I can get to where you are. Love, Craig Louis Stehr." (Have you tried Obama's house, Craig? Lots of extra bedrooms, 24-hour kitchen.)
RICHARD PETERSEN is representing Keith M. Jakovac of Westport. Mr. Jakovac is facing trial for what sounds like an over-aggressive defense of his garden, and we're probably not talking dahlia garden here. It is alleged that on September 10th of 2010, Tui Wright, a deputy sheriff from Los Angeles, was deer hunting on a friend's 200 acre ranch near Wages Creek Road and Highway One. The day prior, the 9th of September 2010, Mr. Jakovac had apparently confronted Wright and a 12-year-old boy with the LA deputy, threatening to shoot both of them dead if they didn't immediately leave the area. The next day, however, September 10th, September being that time of year when a large sector of agricultural Mendocino County is on 24-hour red alert, deputy Wright returned to his friend's ranch where he shot and killed a buck that he and the 12-year-old labored mightily to drag to their ATV. Just as Wright and the kid finally got their trophy buck to the ATV, Mr. Jakovac roared up in white pickup, braking so late that deputy Wright briefly feared that his ATV was sure to be smashed by Mr. Jakovac's truck, a fear instantly replaced by the greater fear of Mr. Jakovac jumping out of his truck with a gun in his hand, threatening to kill deputy Wright and the kid. Again. This was the second time in two consecutive days that Jakovac had promised to murder deputy Wright and the kid with him. Judge Brennan held Jakovac to answer as charged. The judge also added armed robbery to the list of charges because Jakovac forced deputy Wright at gunpoint to leave the site without his deer. Mr. Jakovac was charged with two acts of felony criminal threats, two acts of assault likely to produce great bodily injury or death, and the robbery. He'll be arraigned on April 5.
IN ANOTHER interesting case at Ten Mile, a fellow called Jisang Youn was supposed to provide proof of attending AA meetings but Mr. Youn said AA was out for him because of the organization's commitment to belief in a Higher Being. Judge Brennan gave Youn 90 days to find a deity-free rehab program.
MAN BEATER of the week! Ladies and Germs the Anderson Valley Advertiser, in conjunction with the Sheriff's Department of Mendocino County, present Ms. Maria Angelina Zangrilli, 31, 5'7 and 125 pounds, a young Potter Valley woman with the face of an angel! A young woman directly descended from the unfailing easels of Botticelli! Most men would be delighted that Ms. Z cared enough to cuff them one, but the "man" who called the law on her, well, that's what he did.
NO SOONER had former SF Chron business reporter Tom Abate been hired to replace the irreplaceable Hank Sims as editor of the Eureka-based North Coast Journal, the NCJ announced that Abate was gone, and that staff writer Ryan Burns would be “acting editor.” Regarding Abate's abrupt departure, NCJ Publisher Judy Hodgson posted this minimalist announcement on the NCJ’s website last Thursday: “Tom Abate, who served as editor for the past six weeks, is no longer with the company. His last day was Tuesday.” Hodgson told the Eureka Times-Standard that the entire affair was a personnel matter, and she wouldn’t say if Abate was pushed or he jumped.
WE THOUGHT CHRISTINA AANESTAD might have had a good shot at getting her old reporting job back at KZYX, what with Lotto Hanson departing for what he says is another job in another state. We'll certainly miss ol' Lotto. Twice as crazy as the proverbial loon, and just when he was getting interesting, just when we were really beginning to enjoy his off-air flip-outs, and just as we were looking forward to hearing Hanson go off on-air, he takes his show on the road, "out of state."
BUT KZYX, whose idea of a news presentation is recitations of government press releases sprinkled with fawning interviews with droning bureaucrats and witless officeholders of the Wes Chesbro type, is a no go for Ms. Aanestad, probably because she actually tried to do a reputable news show when she held the job. We will recall that Ms. A was fired without warning one Monday morning when she arrived for work, fired for the vaguest of non-reasons. But she'd become a pretty good reporter who at least tried to do honest work in the cringing context of the castrati who dominate the place, a radio station that's always been committed to putting the nambo in the pambo.
MS. A REPORTED on her facebook page last week that she was quickly rejected for the now vacant KZYX News Director position. She's presently manager of KMEC low-power radio out of the Mendocino Environmental Center in Ukiah from where she does a lot of stringing for big time outside media. “They're ‘not interested’ in the kind of reporting I've done-that's supposedly ‘biased’ and with an ‘agenda’,” she said of her rejection by K-FEEB, Philo. Apparently KZYX General Manager John Coate told Aanestad that he didn’t like the story Aanested did a couple of months ago — a print version of which ran in the AVA at the time (“Thompson Drives By Ukiah,” AVA, January 19, 2011) — about Congressman Thompson’s early morning drive-by in Ukiah. “The GM said because I asked Thompson about the war in Iraq, the story was as much about me as it was about Thompson,” continued Aanestad. “That's only because what passes as news is regurgitation and a pat on the head, not information with analysis and context. If more journalists were fearless I wouldn't stand out. KMUD used the story as an example of quality journalism for one of their community journalism classes.” "Fearless" applied to oneself may be a little, uh, hubrisy, but the kid's got a point.
A SERIOUS DISPUTE has erupted in Willits over how their bond-funded facilities upgrade will be conducted. The bonds are worth a little more than $15 million according to a Willits News piece by reporter Mike A’Dair. The Willits dispute centers on a controversial decision the Willits school board has made to buy “modular” units rather than erect “stick-built” buildings. (Stick-built is an unfortunate description implying Brazilian favelas, not school rooms, but 'stick built' seems all the rage in this particular discussion.) Of course stick-builts employ many more local contractors and workers than modulars, which are pre-built things simply hauled on site like trailers. In fact, the only difference between modulars and trailers is that some trailers are called modulars and some modulars are called trailers. The bond measure was sold in Willits on the basis that the ensuing construction would employ lots of local. But a majority of the Willits School Board decided modulars would allow the district to get more construction and rehab mileage out of the bond money.
WILLITS, by the way, is one of the only in-County school districts to maintain its gracefully attractive old columns and arches, a pleasing facade from the days when it was assumed that schools were so central to American society that it was crucial to make their buildings look like something important went on inside them. Those days are long gone, of course, and in today's Willits architectural beauty is mostly unavailable beyond the high school grounds, although it remains, if the light is right, in a few ghostly, decaying Victorians arrayed near what used to be the town's center, remnants from a forgotten time when Americans still cared what their towns looked like. These days Willits is a seemingly endless, unplanned six miles of fast food dumps and cranker motels apparently inspired by the visual splendors of Ukiah's equivalently hideous main drag. And does it even need saying that modular buildings are soul destroying excrescences composed of cancer causing toxics that even the least conscientious parent would be reluctant to assign the family dog never mind their little heir or heiress?
BUT NO SOONER had the WUSD board gone modular than cries of treachery erupted and one trustee, Annette Pinon, stormed out of the meeting in disgust, then resigned the next day, and bless her all her days for her spirit and independence.
BROOKTRAILS RESIDENT Jessyca Hoagland, bless her all her days, soon noted that the Willits School District had included too many low-priority upgrades in their plans, forcing the district to consider modulars. Ms. Hoagland cited a sentence in the bond issue the voters approved which read, “[the bond issue] makes financial sense. It will … require every penny be spent in Willits, creating local jobs and improving local schools.” She also complained that Willits’s Bond Oversight Committee was “not structured to accomplish the intent of the measure.” Ms. Hoagland declared that she was going to circulate a recall petition for all the Board members who voted for modulars.
EVEN WILLITS SCHOOL STAFFERS, previously not known for their aesthetic sensitivities, had said they preferred stick-built construction with very limited use of modulars, and that the bond measure the voters approved had promised that as much money would be spent locally as possible. Several Willits residents have also complained that they voted for the bond project specifically because they were told that if the bond passed it would involve the maximum amount of local companies and workers, and that the WUSD board’s decision to farm out not only the work but the management of the project to out of County firms is a betrayal of the voters.
FOR NOW, the Willits School Board is scheduled to "review" the proposed construction plans at a special board meeting on the evening of Tuesday, March 29. A suspicious Willits is watching.
THE POTENTIAL for comparably inflammatory "reviews" certainly exists here at Anderson Valley Unified where an identically flush $15.2 mil bond was passed by sentimental voters. Our facilities bond project remains only vaguely defined and largely in the hands of people one wouldn't trust with a children's cancer collection jar, let alone $15.2 million dollars.
I THINK I SAW this question, which has always bedeviled me in a recent Chron: "How do seagulls know when a baseball game is almost over? It seems like they show up in the seventh inning of every home game!" In my experience at AT&T, the first gulls begin to appear about the 7th inning but the whole mob doesn't arrive until most human-type people have left the ballpark. Then they swoop down on the garlic fries and hot dog buns to commence feasting. Marian Dawkins of the Department of Zoology at Oxford claims "that the 7th inning stretch is what cues the gulls to prepare for a feast. The commotion of 40,000 people simultaneously standing and singing is the tip off. Gulls are very good at recognizing predictors for when food is going to become available. They have learned that the 7th inning stretch means that people will soon be clearing out of the stadium, leaving behind a plethora of half eaten, (and luckily in our ballpark) gourmet food. Dawkins suggests that the field itself becomes a buffet — the players cleats have spent the past few hours churning up the soil, exposing delectable insects. I’m sure we are all happy to leave that particular delicacy to the gulls. We will stick with the Cha-Cha bowls and Crazy Crab sandwiches."
MYSELF, I think it's more a simple matter of birds knowing that where the people are the food is, and where there's lots of people there's lots of food. I get to the ballpark early and stay late, long after Tony Bennett has sung about leaving his heart in San Francisco on the cable car that climbs halfway to the stars, which Tony sings only if the Giants win, and which never sounds better than when you hear it at the ballpark because every other place from dentist's waiting rooms to primitive piano bars it's merely one more of modern life's myriad annoyances. No sooner has Tony left his heart high on the hill commences the eerie sight of thousands of attacking gulls descending on the empty stadium, diving into the seats to carry off the negative food value remnants, veering around the mysterious young men collecting the giant plastic drink containers for, I guess, re-sale in some obscure market. Twenty minutes after the last pitch, the place is pretty much empty, just me and the grounds crew fussing with the pitcher's mound. I'd like to stay long enough to watch the clean-up process, but the one-time I hung around for a full hour after the game hoping to see how it was done, an age-appropriate usher, another old guy, walked up to me and said, "You gotta go now, sir, we're closing up." But I wanna see how they clean this place. "Nah. They don't do that for another couple of hours, at least. Sorry."
SAVE THE REDWOODS announced last week that it will pay $7.5 million for 426 acres of untouched forest at the headwaters of the Noyo River. The land, bisected by the Skunk rail line, had been owned by a couple of Willits-based speculators named Baldo and Burton.
SUPERVISORS KENDALL SMITH and John McCowen now comprise an ad hoc committee to work with the Sheriff and the CEO to decide if an outside consultant can help identify cost savings in the Sheriff's Office budget or operations, and if so, who should the consultant be and how shall they be paid. County Counsel Jeanine Nadel disclosed that she did not believe paying a consultant was a permitted use of asset forfeiture funds. Both the Sheriff and CEO say they want an independent study, but neither has been willing to pay for it.
THE SUPES have unanimously approved a pilot program involving the departments of Planning and Building, Transportation and Environmental Health to implement Mendocino County's version of the “Sunnyvale Model,” which is designed to fast track permit approval without compromising environmental protections. Building permits are infinitely easier in Sunnyvale, a fully built out urban city with no environment to protect. tIn Mendocino County, where it's all environment, there are lots people perpetually on the alert to oppose any projects except their own. Differences aside, the advantages of the “Sunnyvale Model” is a change of attitude that treats the applicant as a customer rather than an irritant. The new system is supposed to adopt performance standards and also track how long it takes to approve permits. People might be more willing to apply for permits if they thought the person on the other side of the counter was focused on providing accurate and helpful service in a timely way.
AS EXPECTED, the Supes have voted to close the County Family Planning program which had been providing local family planning services for forty years. Dan Hamburg, admitting his was probably a symbolic nay, cast the lone dissenting vote, saying he would prefer to lay off a Sheriff's sergeant rather than end these valuable services. The County says it will save $200,000. in “realignment” money from the state. Realignment money is shrinking as the Governor realigns previously state-funded services back to the counties without the money to pay for them. Meanwhile, the County's community-based clinics are providing the bulk of family planning services. Planned Parenthood, however, has also announced it will resume services in the County beginning July 1. Planned Parenthood was run out of the County years ago by anti-abortion fanatics who picketed the office, harassed and even threatened the women working there.
HANK SIMS WRITES: A giant photo of Rep. Mike Thompson graces the front page of Politico today, leading off a story on the large amounts unregulated and undisclosed cash both parties are raising in advance of anticipated legal fights over this year’s congressional redistricting. Thompson has been tasked with heading fundraising for something called the National Democratic Redistricting Trust, which will fund his parties legal challenges against redistricting decisions that go against Team Blue. His counterpart across the aisle is Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia. Both sides are coming under fire from clean-government types who protest a recent Federal Elections Commission decision that allow contributors to such funds to remain anonymous. The FEC’s decision “opens the door to the return to the corruption of the soft-money era that Congress slammed shut with the 2002 McCain-Feingold” law, said Paul Ryan, FEC program director and associate legal counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, a watchdog group. Soft-money fundraising was banned for the national party committees by the McCain-Feingold bill, although in this case, the FEC ruled 5-1 that donations to the National Democratic Redistricting Trust “will not fund attempts to influence elections.” (Courtesy, LostCoastOutpost.com.)
EVERYONE seems to be in such a hurry to scream “racism” these days. So, the customer asked, “In what aisle could I find the Polish sausage?” The clerk looked at him and said, “Are you Polish?” The guy (clearly offended) said, “Well, yes I am. But let me ask you something. If I had asked for Italian sausage, would you ask me if I was Italian? Or if I had asked for German Bratwurst, would you ask me if I was German? Or if I asked for a kosher hot dog would you ask me if I was Jewish? Or if I had asked for a Taco, would you ask if I was Mexican? If I asked for some Irish whiskey, would you ask if I was Irish?” The clerk replied, “Well, no, I probably wouldn't!” With deep self-righteous indignation, the guy said, “Well then, why did you ask me if I'm Polish because I asked for Polish sausage?” The clerk replied, “Because you're in Home Depot.”
OBAMA went on a State visit to Israel. While he was on a tour of Jerusalem, he had a fatal heart attack. The undertaker told the US diplomats: “You can have him shipped home for $1 million or you can bury him here in the Holy Land for $100.” The US diplomats went into a huddle and came back to the undertaker and told him they still wanted Obama flown home. The undertaker was puzzled and asked: “Why would you spend $1 million to get him home when it would be wonderful to be buried here in this religious country and you would only spend $100?” One young diplomat replied: “More than 2000 years ago a man died here, was buried here, and just three days later he rose from the dead. We simply can't take that risk.”