Off the Record 9/2/2009

by AVA News Service, September 2, 2009

THE CROOKS and incompetents who've combined to loot The Redwood Coast Senior Center have persuaded its endlessly pliable board of directors to contest the grand jury's recent findings that they are in fact a gang of crooks and incompetents. The Center's two least capable members, the two persons most responsible for over-paying former director Joe “Joe The Smarm” Curren to the point of sending Joe The Smarm to law school on the Coast Center's dime, refuse to resign. Board president Don Sheffel, M.D., and Barbara Durigan, the board's vice president, have been petitioned by more than a hundred affected seniors to get out and get out fast. But Dr. Sheffel and Durigan claim they “serve” at the pleasure of the rest of the board, and that remainder seems pleased as heck with the two of them..

A CALLER demanded, “Who the hell do you think you are? I read that article you wrote about Smith, the Willits teacher accused of molesting a student where you said one of the therapists has a goatee. You made that up, right? Then I read where you say that school teacher killed herself in the car fire out at Calpella. How do you know that, and why mention it even if it is true? Why not let the family grieve in peace?”

FIRST OFF, I'm me and I've got bills to prove I'm me. Second, if the three therapists hired by Smith had stood on their heads and sung their testimony Judge Brennan might have been even more eager than he was to let Smith slide. The single most salient fact of the Smith molest case is that it would still be going on if another kid at the school hadn't gone to the school's inattentive administration about the 38-year-old Smith and his 15-year-old student-girl friend. About the bearded therapist, call me old school but I think any person appearing in court as an expert witness might want to consider the visual he or she presents. Even in the daffy courtrooms of Mendoland, women with beards or, for that matter, prosecutors in tinkerbell slippers, might prompt a less flexible judge than Brennan to discount their testimony.

THE APPARENT SELF-IMMOLATION of Mrs. Aikman of Ukiah will eventually be verified as a suicide, not an accidental death. Like it or not, the circumstances of Mrs. Aikman's death are a public matter about which the public has a right to know because the public method she chose to die could easily have caused the death or deaths of other persons. In fact, Sheriff Allman sustained serious burns to his hands trying to pull Mrs. Aikman from her flame-engulfed Geo. Something awful had happened to the poor woman, some terrible news, something that compelled her to splash gasoline all over the interior of her Geo-Jeep as she filled a fuel container before she drove away from the Calpella filling station so precipitously she left the fuel hose on the pavement. Her clearly distraught behavior at the service station was captured on the station's security camera. Minutes later, Mrs. Aikman pulled off to the side of Highway 101 and ignited herself. An ongoing investigation into her death is being conducted under the auspices of the Yolo County Coroner's office because Mrs. Aikman died the next day in a hospital burn unit at U.C. Davis. She was a teacher at Calpella Elementary School and the mother of two pre-teen children.

“I’M A CAREER PROSECUTOR,” Chief Deputy DA Jill Ravitch told the Willits News last week, explaining that she planned to run for Sonoma County DA while also working her day job as Mendoland's top prosecutor. “There were obviously no opportunities for me in Sonoma County,” said Ravitch as she bluntly assessed her survival odds under the man she lost the election to, current SoCo DA Steve Passalacqua, making it clear that working under her foe would not have been an upwardly mobile career path. “[Prosecuting in Mendo] was (sic) a wonderful opportunity to keep up my trial skills, as well as develop management experience,” said Ravitch in a past tense reference to her present job as she prepares to take on Passalacqua again. Mendocino County, it seems, is a good place to keep one's prosecutorial hand in before moving on to an area where there are even more crooks to put away. “I’m still here full time working for the people of Mendocino County,” Ravitch insisted, adding that she intends to go on working here until she has to campaign full-time there.

IN A TIME of huge budget deficits and an even bigger state debt, it's important that California cut waste in government. Accordingly, Governor Schwarzenegger has established a “Waste Watcher” website where citizens can suggest ways to save money by cutting waste.

ACCORDING to the Gov's Waste Watcher website, 86 citizens have suggested that the state both sell off vehicles that are underused and reduce the number of vehicles employees can take home. Done! For a savings already of $24 million. One CHP office decided to “reduce” the number of sergeants taking patrol cars home for a savings of $8400, begging the question as to why taxpayers were subsidizing the commutes of these folks in the first place, and also begging the question as to why this particular savings wasn't made without prompting. Not printing the $9200 slick health care services report for 150 people? Presto! $9200 saved! The Mental Health Department sold a “radiological device” they (obviously) didn't need to a private hospital that Mental Health had paid $111,400 for. How much the thing was sold for was not revealed. State Parks left a senior administrator slot vacant, “saving” $103k. An unidentified State General Services employee admitted he didn't need a flat screen TV for his work and gave the State $500 for it. How much the State paid for the set was not divulged. The CHP says they are now saving $3,000 a year by no longer paying professional detailers to clean their cars “except when it is deemed essential for safety reasons or in some cases to preserve the resale value.” Waste Watchers also reminds us that turning off lights when no one is in the room “can [sic] save approximately $214k per year,” but unmentioned is the possible state savings from rigging stray dogs to a central treadmill to recharge tax-funded flashlight batteries. If you still can't detect the cold, dead hand of miserly thrift on the public purse, you are excused.

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