Off The Record

by AVA News Service, November 30, 2011

PLANNING AND BUILDING'S DIRECTOR IGNACIO GONZALEZ is outta here. Gonzalez will be the new Planning Director for Santa Clara County, where, like Mendocino County, there is no visible evidence of planning. Gonzales will take in$170,000. a year at Santa Clara. Tony Linegar, Mendo Ag Commissioner, recently announced he was leaving to take the Ag Commissioner job in Sonoma County. Gonzalez and Linegar did a couple of years in their positions here, having taken over for their long entrenched predecessors, Ray Hall at Planning and Dave Bengston at Ag. Both Linegar and Gonzalez will be making about $50,000. more a year in their new positions than they were paid in Mendocino County.

FROM C.W. NEVIUS'S column in Tuesday's SF Chronicle. “…District Five is a far-left-leaning district.” I wonder how far to the left you have to lean before you're politically horizontal? As a kid, I lived in a SRO at 5th at Brannan. The whole building leaned to the left. We used to lean to the left when we met each other on the street, our very own insider secret society of lonely old guys and a handful of aspiring beatniks.

SF, LIKE MENDOCINO COUNTY, is teeming with self-identified “progressives,” a Rorschach-like term that seems to mostly translate as a spiffier kind of liberal, but a liberal who can be depended on at election time to vote for conservative Democrats. Myself, I don't see a whit of evidence that San Francisco is any more progressive in public policy than retro Mendocino County is. In Frisco, even the communists call themselves progressives (as they always have), but these days it's a place where “progressives” erect high rises for zillionaires while defending the rights of suicidal drunks and dopers to die on the streets rather than compel treatment. What we really have in SF is not a politically progressive population but a concentration of funzy-wunzies whose true priorities are food, fashion and arse tattoos.

BLACK FRIDAY was a representative Frisco event, funny as all heck in a sort of dancing-to the-apocalypse way. At Union Square, a couple hundred Occupy people were marching against mindless consumption as thousands of mindless consumers poured in and out of the high end gew-gaw emporiums. And here come the Women In Black scaring the little kids — “Mommy, are they dead?” — while a delegation of animal people, one of whom seemed to be draped in a pile of mutilated coyotes, protested fur coats. Do they still sell fur coats? I haven't seen one on a live person since 1950. Back at the Occupy camp at the foot of Market Street, well, I think it's time to quietly fold the tents and take the struggle in new directions. It's pretty much a psycho scene at Justin Herman Plaza the last couple of weeks. Two days running I couldn't find a single on-message camper, but there were plenty of people off their meds, or on the wrong meds, and they were everywhere.

TWO WEDNESDAYS AGO, I was driving south on Highway One in Fort Bragg on my way to the Fort Bragg Steak House (highly recommended) to meet a person who can be counted on to tell me more than I want to know about that intriguing little town. It was a just before 11am. In front of me a female FB cop was pulling over a small, camper-shelled pick-up truck. I stopped to watch. Soon, three officers were on-scene, and just as soon all three were trying to pull a large, belligerent woman out of the vehicle, her sovereign vehicle as it would develop, as her dog, maybe a forty-pounder, bounced around in the cab yipping and biting at the three cops, two large-ish men and the woman who'd made the initial stop. The way the belligerent woman had gone right off and continued to go off, I assumed she was drunk. She had a death grip on her steering wheel and was bellowing, “You have no right to do this,” with a lot of profanity where the exclamation points go. I lingered because I thought for sure the cops would have to taze or pepper spray her to get her out of her truck. I wanted to see how they managed it. But darned if Fort Bragg's Finest didn't soon have their frothing, red haired, two hundred pound antagonist up and out with what seemed to me remarkable restraint and a minimum of force. And off she went in handcuffs. And, because he'd bitten one of the officers, off went the belligerent's Loyal Dog to Ukiah Animal Control for a period of quarantine to see if he was rabid. Punctuality being my sole remaining virtue, and the show apparently over, I hurried on to the Steak House for my eleven o'clock appointment. A week later I read in the Ukiah paper about how a woman named Jessica Rachelle Armstrong and an “unidentified male companion” had done a pretext raid on Animal Control to free Loyal Dog from custody. The couple had distracted Animal Control's Bliss Fisher with a question about the County's spay and neuter program. While Bliss hustled off to get the information, the unidentified male companion snuck into the dog impound and grabbed Loyal Dog. All three of the absconders were running out the door when Bliss returned with the spay and neuter info. Sheriff's deputies soon contacted Armstrong by phone. She said she was “home quarantining” Loyal Dog at an undisclosed location in Lake County and had no intention of bringing either him or herself back to Mendocino County. Ms. Armstrong, who has since identified herself as Jurrassica Raptorsaurette Armstrong, and her place of work as Amazon Warrior Goddess of Valhalla, was originally stopped in Fort Bragg because she was not wearing her seat belt. She said she didn't have to. Show me where the Constitution says I have to wear a seatbelt or possess a driver's license. And so on. To one on-line critic Jessica Jurrassica replied, “Are you a Communist? I live in a free country where you don't have to show the nazis your pay-pahz (papers) and you don't have to beg your slave masters permission to travel.” Jessica Jurrassica writes in capital letters, managing to sound like she's yelling even in print. To another critic she explained, “I was not charged with any crime. There has been no warrant issued for my arrest. Therefore, I will not be going to court. And I have been sitting at home since last Thursday. I believe I told you all this twice now. Please pay attention.” Jurrassica claims she was indeed wearing a seat belt when the female officer pulled her over. “Maybe if the Fort Bragg cops would refrain from stealing people's dogs, they wouldn't get bit,” she said, adding, “The Fort Bragg cops beat me up and stole everything I had.” The Lake County dino was back behind the wheel of her camper truck in a couple of hours, and she certainly had not been beaten. The cops took the beating in that one.

THE AWESOME FILES, Jeff Costello writes: “When Jim Gibbons' son Eli was about 13, he was whacking away on the Mac Plus, the very same machine I used to write my first letter to the AVA, which puts us in 1988 or '9. I commented on the kid's rapid-fire attack on the keyboard and he said, 'I'm an awesome typist.' The abuse of the word goes back a way. I told Eli that 'awesome' was more aptly applied to things like volcano eruptions or supernovae, but the admonition fell on deaf ears. The language is changing, like it or not. And I don't, but that's where it's at. By far, the current most awesomely overused word, at the end of the day, is 'iconic.' If you will.”

THE LIBERTARIAN and Peace and Freedom parties have sued over the state's new open primary system, arguing that the change will deny voters the right to support third-party candidates in general elections. Under Proposition 14, approved by voters in 2010, all statewide and presidential candidates will run in a single primary that is open to all registered voters regardless of their political party. The top two vote-getters will then move on to the general election. Prop. 14 proponents believe the change will result in more moderate, less partisan representatives and ultimately a more effective government. But third-party supporters say the new system will disenfranchise voters because it will result in only Democrats and Republicans competing in general election contests. “This is really a lawsuit about keeping the field of political debate open,” said attorney Michael Siegel. “Proposition 14 narrows the political debate by saying only two candidates can participate in general elections, and we think that's unconstitutional because many Supreme Court cases have said you can't have a barrier to small parties competing in the general election.” Siegel said California Secretary of State Debra Bowen was served with the lawsuit Tuesday and has 30 days to respond. The plaintiffs will then ask the court to issue a preliminary injunction in hopes of preventing the new system from being used during next year's presidential contest. The lawsuit, which was filed in Alameda County Superior Court, says that Prop. 14 violates the First and 14th amendments to the U.S. Constitution. It says the law allows the secretary of state to deny ballot access to candidates who receive as much as 33 percent of the vote, essentially violating the rights of the Green Party of Alameda and the Libertarian and Peace and Freedom parties of California. “We're fighting for rights of voters, parties and candidates,” Siegel said. Other groups opposing Prop. 14 have filed two other, more narrowly focused lawsuits challenging the ballot measure. Both have been rejected by lower courts and are now on appeal.

SIGNS OF THE TIMES: Our Hopland correspondent reports: “I was in the pet food aisle of a local retail outlet where I started a conversation with a woman who said she was 65 and grew marijuana so she can afford pet food. She teared up and said, 'I never thought it would come to this.' Who would have thought an old lady would have to grow weed to feed her cats?”

THREE CANDIDATES are finalists for two vacant Superior Court seats: David Basner; David Reimenschnieder and Jeanne Nadel.

SUNDAY'S Ukiah Daily Journal was, as always, brightened by the Journal's Question Man column. This week's inquiry of random passersby was “What can be done to change the world in a positive way?” The answers ranged from “Abolish capitalism as a world system” to “For people to use their turn signals.” One young woman said acupuncture would do the trick.

ON THE DOWN SIDE, we staggered through a totally wrongheaded column by Mark Rohloff, who startled inland liberals a couple of years when he began appearing around Ukiah lugging an outsized Bible and had begun writing apocalyptic letters-to-the-editor of his hometown paper. For many years, Rohloff had been the main guy at Ford Street, an umbrella do-gooder organization widely assumed to be a bastion of liberal non-believers. All those years he'd spent in on-the-clock circles with public agency liberals Rohloff seems to have been seething. “I'll get these godless bastards!” So he now shares regular Sunday column space at the Journal with two other Ukiah gentlemen of errantly ignorant political views of the Fox News type, dumber than Fox News to be completely accurate about it. As a fundamentalist, Rohloff is frantically pro-Israeli because Israel, formerly Palestine, is the home of Jesus, Himself a socialist and anti-imperialist, a fact apparently not known to most Christians except the Catholic Workers. Modern Israel is a racist state created not out of the mythical 1948 wilderness claimed by the armed fanatics who forcibly expelled the people already living there, but an Anglo-American sponsored creation installed to keep the nearby oil flowing westward. The people expelled by the original Zionists are known as Palestinians who, as some of us may have noted in the daily deluge of Israeli-skewed news, continue to be murdered and persecuted by the newcomers.

ROHLOFF begins his Sunday column with this quote from George Orwell, a socialist and anti-imperialist all his days: “To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle.” Rohloff, blind to what is in front of his view-blocking proboscis then writes, “The Israel that sits in front of my nose is in deep trouble. It is less supported by a United States administration than at any time since its creation as a state, and its citizens know it.” Which is a demonstrably untrue statement. Fact is, Israel is wholeheartedly supported by Obama and our craven Congress with only an occasional timid squeak of protest as fanatic Israeli colonialists, many of them American born, settle themselves on what's left of Palestinian territory. And it's probably news to Rohloff and kindred Ukiah scholars that about half the Israeli population opposes their government's ongoing crimes against Palestinians.

THE GAZA STRIP, for instance, in which the Israelis have sequestered some 1.6 million people, is almost exactly the same size of the Anderson Valley, year-round home to roughly 2,500 people. Gaza, like Anderson Valley, is 25 miles long and between 4 to 7 miles wide or 140 square miles. Like the Anderson Valley, the Gaza Strip has one road running its brief length. What the Anderson Valley doesn't have is 1,600,000 people jammed onto its 90,000 acres.

MOVE OVER, AWESOME. From the lit picks column of Sunday's Chron: “Pulphead adds up to a terrifyingly versatile book.” Safety precautions required?

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