Off The Record

by AVA News Service, September 21, 2011

FORT BRAGG City Councilman Dan Gjerde made it official last week that he is running for 4th District supervisor. Present supervisor Kendall Smith announced the previous week she would not run for a third term, recognition that she's made herself unelectable. “It's official," Gjerde said, "I have decided to run for Fourth District Supervisor. You can be among the first to check out my Facebook Page and Website, just launched tonight,” Gjerde said. One approving commenter on Gjerde’s facebook paged added tersely, “Talk about having small shoes to fill…”

“I KNOW we can move our county forward,” writes Gjerde. “I’m excited. I hope you are. In 1998, at the age of 28, when I was first elected to the City Council, Fort Bragg faced several challenges. We worked through those issues, including an inherited deficit, and today the City of Fort Bragg has fiscally prudent reserves, and is a dynamic, resourceful organization. If we work together, I have great optimism for Mendocino County. My campaign for supervisor is one step in that journey. But this campaign depends completely upon your support. It is fueled entirely by ideas, small contributions, and your individual effort to tell your friends about my candidacy. … I don’t know if a campaign like this would succeed in a much bigger community; I wish it would. But I believe it will here. In a few months, we will all find out. Sincerely, Dan Gjerde.”

SUSAN ADAMS, candidate for the newly drawn Congressional District 2 covering the Northcoast from Marin County to the Oregon border, after reading Darwin Bond-Graham’s run down of the politics behind the newly created seat, wrote last week: “I’m one of the Candidates for the newly created Congressional District 2. I actually have roots in Humboldt and Mendocino Counties. I’m fourth-generation of the Hanes family in Anderson Valley and I have a brother who lives in Fortuna. So I visit Mendocino and Humboldt counties fairly often as it is, more so now that I’m running for Congress! In fact, this week I’m in Humboldt County 9/15-16 and at the Mendocino County Fair on Sunday Sept. 18. I encourage anyone interested in the race to check out my credentials at http://www.susanadamsforcongress.com/  I look forward to meeting all of you!”

SHERIFF’S SERGEANT Greg Van Patten told the LA Times last week in a story about the ongoing search for double-homicide suspect Aaron Bassler, “The case does not fit with those typical cases of cultivation violence. There was no marijuana. There's no evidence he was around any of those grows. Whether he wanted to protect his poppies or not, I would think that probably doesn't play in.”

ALSO LAST WEEK, the Sheriff announced that he had posted a $30k reward for information leading to the capture and arrest of Bassler. We’re not the only ones who interpreted this to mean that the Sheriff has dug in for what's shaping up as a very long haul. The SWAT teams insist they have leads and are intensifying the search, narrowing down the area Bassler is assumed to be hunkered down in, and that some pretty fancy technology and technicians to apply it are on-scene from the Department of Justice and the FBI.

ON THURSDAY, September 29, local journalist/AVA contributor Will Parrish will leads a panel discussion on water woes in Mendocino County and the greater California North Coast, from the wine industry's depletion of creeks, streams, and groundwater to the politics of the Eel River dams to the "peripheral canal" water export scheme that will soon be before California voters. Who controls our water, who has access to it -- and what are we going to do about it? Join them for dinner at 5:30pm. The meal will be created entirely from organic ingredients sourced from Mendocino County farms. Will's presentation begins at 6:30pm. The event takes place at The Spring House, 304 N. Spring St., Ukiah. Please RSVP for dinner to springhouseukiah@gmail.com  or by calling 707.621.5304 by September 28. Sliding scale donation of $5 to $15 for dinner.

FLYNN WASHBURNE, the wacky felon arrested and charged with robbing the Bank of America in Ukiah and Cheshire Books in Fort Bragg pleaded guilty and was sentenced to eight years in state prison for the two robberies on top of his 15 prior felonies. Washburne got 40 days credit for time served in the Mendocino County Jail and restitution was imposed on him in the amount of $3,874.50. His robbery of Cheshire Books is believed to be the first armed robbery of a book store ever.

PHILIP FRASE, 63, of Laytonville, the man charged with killing one of his pot trimmers, Steven Schmidt, in January of 2010 by hitting Schmidt several times in the head with a hammer, plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter last week, according to a comprehensive report by the always excellent Willits News reporter Linda Williams. According to Williams, Deputy DA Scott McMenomy characterized the case as one of “imperfect self defense.” The conviction-plea comes with a minimum stipulated term of three years in state prison and will also count as a strike under California’s three strikes law. “District Attorney David Eyster said the forensic evidence made obtaining a second-degree murder conviction a gamble at trial,” reported Williams. “He felt it was important to obtain a ‘strike’ conviction, particularly since Frase is in line to be tried in Siskiyou County for the 2005 kidnapping and murder of 56-year-old Fort Jones resident Patricia Katherine Joseph.”

MS. WILLIAMS concludes: “At the preliminary hearing, Mendocino County Sheriff's Detective Clint Byrnes said Frase told him he had tied the body to the tree so animals couldn't drag it off, but had hoped animals would eat the body. Frase admitted to investigators he killed Schmidt during an argument over a pound of marijuana. Frase claimed Schmidt started the fight by demanding the pound of pot from him. Frase told investigators Schmidt had knocked him down with a flashlight and ‘he would not take this from Schmidt, so when Schmidt leaned over to do something, he “cracked him” with a pipe.’ Frase told the detective he became angry and struck Schmidt several times in the head with the pipe and said, ‘You bastard.’ Then the Frase stated, ‘I did it, I killed him.’ Byrnes testified Frase said he struck Schmidt a total of four times with the pipe. Detectives recovered a 28-inch long 1.5-inch diameter chrome pipe believed to be the weapon used to kill Schmidt from where Frase said he had thrown it. Detectives also recovered several pounds of marijuana stored in turkey bags from Frase's residence, including the pound believed to have started the argument. They also found about $3,200 in cash in books and a safe behind it, as well as $1,400 from under a mattress. Detectives said Frase was particularly interested in the $1,400 found in the mattress because he had believed Schmidt stole that amount from him. It seems unlikely anyone would have come looking for Schmidt had not Cody Sanderson become suspicious. Sanderson testified at the preliminary hearing that he worked for Frase for two years putting up drywall and trimming marijuana. In January 2010, Frase told him he ‘took Steven Schmidt out; finished him.’ He then advised Sanderson, ‘I like you, Cody. Quit asking questions.’ Two days after this conversation Sanderson helped Frase move Schmidt's recreational vehicle. Sanderson was concerned because Frase wore rubber gloves while driving Schmidt's vehicle. After this, Sanderson contacted the sheriff's office.”

TRIVIAL DEE DEE checks in: “What do former Willits lawyer Montana Povda and Jared Carter have in common? Both were law clerks to William O. Douglas. What do Jared Carter and Norma McCorvey have in common? (Dee Dee doesn't tell us.) AVA: Don't be the kiss of death! Stay the hell out of the 2nd District congressional election.” Too late. We're in both feet for Norm Solomon.

THE FORMER MANAGER of McNab’s Men's Wear in Ukiah, Jerry McNab, was among the injured at the disastrous Reno Air Show. Poor guy lost an eye but one of his companions was killed and another lost both his hands.

One Response to Off The Record

  1. subscriber2@theava.com Reply

    September 25, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    I couldn’t confirm Jerry McNab’s injury and haven’t read about it elsewhere.
    Additional info would be welcome including if his friends were also local ?

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