Off the Record

by AVA News Service, April 13, 2011

AL WHITE of Husch Vineyards, Philo, was mentioned this way in the Press Democrat of Thursday, April the 7th: “Alfred White, a Ukiah grower who described him-self as an environmentalist, said the move to regulate vineyard water diversions is misdirected. A letter two years ago from the National Marine Fisheries Service — which prompted the state regulatory effort — cited two coho salmon strandings in 2008, a year of low river flows and persistent frost, White said. If damage were done to the coho population at that time, White said the 2011 return of the endangered species of migrating fish should have been reduced. Instead, he referred to news reports that coho were returning now in robust numbers. 'I would encourage us to not use ideology as a substitute for analysis,' White said.

WHITE'S STATMENT is so insane on so many levels it left me reeling when I read it. By this logic, and it's a logic shared by much of NorCal's insatiable wine industry, coho might do even better if there was no water in their spawning grounds. And it's not as if recent coho returns, the product of hatcheries, not stream beds, have been anything resembling “robust.” Last year there were 7 coho counted in the Russian River, something like 150 this year. The wine juggernaut isn't entirely responsible for the decimation of the local fisheries, but in their monarchical assumption that they are somehow entitled to carte blanche access to public streams, it is hoped that nutball statements like White's will speed regulation of these hogs not retard it.

RACHEL BINAH in a duck blind? Incredible as it will seem to everyone in Mendocino County, Fish and Game is being lobbied to permit “waterfowl hunting” in the Big River Estuary. You read that right. Seasonal game bird shooting from the mouth of the river two miles up. A hunter's group is behind the scheme, and between you, me and the lamp post, they gotta be kidding if they think there's even the faintest hope of gunning down game birds within ear shot of and in plain view of Mendocino.

A READER WRITES: “Regarding your Off The Record opinion of Mr. Robert McGraw, I know Robert McGraw quite well. Don’t be deceived by his flabby appearance. He is a big man who hires himself out to do heavy maintenance and yard work. He is strong, extremely nasty, and quite capable of doing what he is accused of. He has had physical confrontations before, has had visits from the Sheriff, but has managed to weasel out of getting arrested. I don’t know the person he is accused of attacking, but I don’t doubt the story. It’s a pleasure to finally see Mr. McGraw in jail.”

MR. McGRAW, 60, is the Willits man accused of knocking down a 30-year-old guy, then menacing the downed man with a live chainsaw. The age discrepancy attracted our morbid attentions, not that a fit 60-year-old is particularly likely to be at the mercy of a burrito-butted 30-something, assuming that was the case here. McGraw's 5'10” 225 for those of you keeping mayhem files.

SUPERVISOR KENDALL SMITH has written Mendocino County a check for $3,087, the amount successive grand juries found that she falsely claimed for travel she hadn't traveled. DA David Eyster is too much the gent to take credit for reining in the chiseling Fort Bragg office-holder, but he clearly gave Smith the option of pay back or prosecution. Smith chose pay back, although her check was dated April 1st.

LE AFFAIR SMITH is additional confirmation that there's something seriously awry with Mendolib, at whose foul bosom fake liberals of the Smith type always seem to find succor. Was there a single public word from any of them demanding that Smith pay up? Nooooooooo. Did Mendolib's audio arm, KZYX, even whisper that the 4th and 5th District supervisors had been found by successive grand juries to be a pair of nickel-nosing tax bandits? Nooooooooo. Did any of the Coast newspapers report that four grand juries had found that Smith and Colfax were stealing? Noooooooo.

IT'S ESTIMATED that the three thou Smith returned isn't even a third of the phony claims she'd been paid for, and she was allowed to pay the money back with no interest or penalties added, which is radically unlike the tardy civil judgments the rest of us would have to make with the usurious add-ons these things normally come with. Still and all, it's just flat-out wonderful that the supervisor was at last held accountable. Too bad her even crookeder colleague, Colfax, had left office before the DA could round him up, too.

KZYX'S VOLCANIC rip and read news guy, Paul “Lotto” Hanson, is now at work for a commercial radio station in Las Vegas. Whenever a job opening occurs in local liberal strongholds of the publicly-funded type, a mandatory national search for excellence commences until someone's buddy the local libs always undertake to replenish their ranks has been duly launched, and Public Radio Mendocino County will soon be asking, “Tell us what a great job you're doing, Senator Chesbro and, say, did anyone ever tell you that as you approach your golden years you look more and more like that old pimp Hugh Hefner?”
GOOD FOR TOM WODETZKI or persuading the Fort Bragg City Council to sign on to a proposed Constitutional Amendment to ban corporate personhood, a long-running swindle in this country that allows conglomerations of huge wealth to claim all the legal protections of an American citizen.

RECOMMENDED VIEWING: Saul Landau's new documentary film on our government's years of violence directed at Cuba. Saturday, April 16th, La Brava Theater, 2781 24th Street, San Francisco. Music by the Cuban Cowboys.

NOT NECESSARILY RECOMMENDED VIEWING: Waiting For Superman, a very depressing film about the present state of public education as desperately poor families struggle to get their kids out of failed schools and into other public edu-programs that at least offer them and their children some hope. Any citizen who's ever visited the Mendocino County Office of Education will not need to watch this film to grasp what's wrong with the system. The film refers to the educational apparatus — a crumb bum alliance of teachers and administrators — as “the blob,” an immovable, un-reformable conglomeration of idiots, malingerers and incompetents who resist all change, and who claim that any attempt to get them to do their jobs with reasonable facility is not only an “attack on unions and the right to organize,” but a frontal assault on “our children.” I don't know about you, but when I was raising children I saved myself a lot of psychological wear and tear by assuming that the schools were in fact a blob, and one to either be avoided, which wasn't an option in my income bracket, or this irritating daily obstacle that one had to somehow work around. The blob hasn't budged in fifty years. Put a very smart person in charge of the worst schools in the country as happened recently in Washington DC and depicted in the film, and watch that person beat her head against the blob as the blob slowly drags her down and out. Look around Mendocino County and see the blob in its rural state where it's called Paul Tichinin, Superintendent of the Mendocino County Schools — the blob incarnate. Sure, there are good teachers. There might even be an intelligent school administrator somewhere. The only one to work in Mendocino County in the last ten years was Matt Murray in Point Arena where the Fog Blob immediately banked up on him and got him fired, but as an educational system The Blob Must Die. If the Mendo Blob disappeared tomorrow, if the entire $36 million (at last count) Tichinin apparat were gone, Mendocino County's individual school districts would share the $36 mil because MCOE does not do a single thing that the individual school districts of this county could not do for themselves better and cheaper. The rest of the blob? Kick it every chance you get.

CITY NOTES. The closer to the field you get, the worse the fans. Up top, near the rim of AT&T where the seats are a lot cheaper, not that there are any truly cheap seats now that all the front runners are coming out to the ball-park after the Giants big season last year, the people tend to be nicer and more knowledgeable. But the whole show at AT&T is so improved over the violent anarchy prevalent at Candlestick, AT&T is like being in a different city. Not that you don't wonder at the pure numbers of grown men with baseball gloves togged out in the jerseys of their favorite players. When I was young, only the wackiest kids, the same ones who sat in the first row at Saturday matinees with their nutty little heads straining almost vertically to see the screen, brought their gloves to the ballpark. Grown men? Sixty years ago the ballpark was a sea of suits and fedoras. The ladies dressed like they were going to church. These days, an ocean of arrested development. Last weekend, thanks to a pair of generous donors, I saw not only opening day but Sunday's game, too. Friday afternoon's was an absolute gem, complete with Tony La Russa's very cool five-man infield in extra-innings, and a game-winning extra-inning shot to the wall by the much vilified Aaron Rowand — “O-And,” as poor Rowand is called by the fanatical young woman who has a nearby season's ticket and whose exuberance has to be occasionally checked by an usher. Sunday's was a blah game. Zito, as usual, was gone by the 6th, the Giants were down the whole way and never even looked like they might rally. In the 8th, DeRosa was announced as a pinch hitter, and suddenly a Cheeto-faced drunk of middle years — way past the age a more or less normal person would even think of doing such a thing — bellers out in a huge voice before DeRosa had taken even one pitch, “Swing the bleeping bat!” I know there's been considerable slippage in this country's public decorum, and as a Mendo guy I'm soooo fully at home with aberrant public behavior that nothing I see in The City is ever likely to throw me, but at the ballpark you get constant reminders of just how far social standards have slipped. That guy. The Giants should have a sniper hidden away out in the centerfield scoreboard whose job it would be to pick off the most obnoxious fan. It would probably take a month or so but even the far-gone people, the people without restraint, might learn to behave, maybe even the young couple in front of me who arrived at the end of the second inning, nuzzled and groped each other during all of the third inning, disappeared from the fourth through the eighth innings, returned drunk and spent the ninth inning dis-cussing the relative merits of cell phones with the two young whacks sitting next to them. I'm not one of these old guys who goes around complaining about young people, but I ask you. And I ask you to answer as objectively as you can: Along with the increase in bad public behavior among the young and the old, hasn't there also been a huge leap in the vapidity quotient? All these gizmos that people, especially the young, are always fiddling with certainly don't enhance their communication skills. “R U My Fren?” No I'm not yr fren, and get that thing away from me or I'll call Greg Krouse. Anyway, I was glad Sunday when the first seagulls appeared over the stadium at the end of the seventh inning, and were swooping in their usual thousands by the time I shuffled off down the Embarcadero with the rest of the silenced multitude, many of them plugged in to the post game show as they simultaneously thumbed their gadgets with the latest flea flickers from their strangled imaginations.

WHENEVER we read of PG&E’s general high-handedness and just as general refusal to comply with even the most basic, most obvious requirements of the California Public Utilities Commission, we are reminded — again — of the late Joe Neilands’ lifelong project to turn California’s utility monopolies into truly public utilities. Almost everyone except PG&E's wildly over-compensated execs and PG&E's captive PUC agreed that a public utility ought to be publicly controlled. Last month, after the Really Big One in Japan, state legislators were making noise about “requiring” PG&E and SoCal Edison to do more seismic safety studies on their nuke plants that are RIGHT ON TOP OF EARTHQUAKE FAULTS! What do you think a PG&E-funded study of nuclear power safety is going to say?

PHIL BALDWIN sent along an old clip of Huey Long delivering a terrific speech on the true state of the union circa 1933, in which The Kingfish spelled it out so clearly and irrefutably in less than three minutes that a year later he was gunned down. What he said was that in a country as rich as this one everyone ought to share the wealth. I defy you to name a single current national officeholder who would dare say that, although millions of Americans would not only agree they'd vote for him.

CRIME OF THE WEEK. On April 4th, Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched to the Gualala Chevron Station regarding a theft of approximately 1000 gallons of gas. On arrival deputies learned that on 4-2-11 at 0430 hrs a U Haul truck and an unknown type of two-door sedan arrived at the Chevron Station. It is believed that through some kind of electronic manipulation the pumps were unlocked and approximately 1000 gallons of gas was taken. The estimated value of the theft is $5500. The Sheriff's Office asks that anyone with information related to this incident please contact the investigating Deputy Mike Gander at (707) 463- 4086. (Sheriff’s Office Press Release)

CHARLES Cresson Wood will give a presentation on Peak Oil and the Transition Town movement on Earth Day, Friday, April 22nd, 3 PM, Saturday Afternoon Clubhouse, 107 S. Oak St., Ukiah. This presentation will discuss the concept of peak oil and the economic and social impacts associated with the resulting restricted oil supplies and higher prices. In an open discussion, we will explore what can be done individually, as a family, and as a larger community in response to peak oil. The Transition Towns community organizing model will be presented, which is focused on creating a new economy that is local, sustainable, and resilient. For information call Debora at 462-9392. — Debora McGillivray

DICK MEISTER WRITES: “Best Large Newspaper? Did you know that the usually very busy ports of San Francisco and Oakland were shut tight on Monday? That hundreds of members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union's Local 10 took the day off to join the thousands of 'We Are One' demonstrations that drew many thousands of union members and supporters out in the Bay Area and nationwide to protest the widespread attacks on unions and workers' rights generally? Well, you wouldn't know it if you relied on the San Francisco Chronicle for your news. That's the paper which actually brags, right there on the front page where all can see, that it was named 'California's Best Large newspaper' by the California Newspaper Publishers Association. As highly unlikely — if not laughable — as that must seem to Chronicle readers, it's true. Honest. Other media outlets covered the obviously important closure of the economically vital San Francisco and Oakland ports, including radio station KPFA in Berkeley and Channel 2 in Oak-land, both of which did an excellent job. But not The Chronicle. The Chronicle also paid little attention to the other local 'We Are One' demonstrations. The paper buried what little it reported as an insert in a New York Times dispatch covering demonstrations elsewhere that it ran deep inside the paper on page 9. You'd think the demonstrations might have merited page one coverage, in place of, say, yet another Barry Bonds piece, such as did appear. But I guess that would have been too much to expect of 'California's Best Large Newspaper.’”

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