Off The Record

by AVA News Service, February 22, 2012

NCRA, the little train that couldn't, thought they had assemblymember Wes Chesbro lined up to introduce legislation to allocate $500k a year from state transportation funds. All Chesbro needed was a few letters to show local support for the request. NCRA asked the Mendocino Council of Governments (MCOG), the local transportation funding agency, for support, at which point both Phil Dow, MCOG's Executive Director, and Bruce Richard, the Mendocino Transit Agency's Executive Director, rushed to the funding barricades in opposition. Both Dow and Richard have made careers, and built their agencies, by sucking up as much taxpayer cash as they could lay their grasping hands on, but nothing concerns a state-funded bureaucrat than the thought that some other agency is trying to muscle in on their cash stream. Dow and Richard raised so much fuss about rail money going anywhere but to Richard's ghost buses that Ruth Valenzuela, Chesbro's local rep, told the MCOG board that Chesbro was no longer going to introduce the subsidy legislation requested by NCRA. It gets worse…

MTA WAS JUST AWARDED $2.5 million to buy four brand new 39-seat buses — a bus for every rider! MTA is famous for running big, empty buses all around the County (and little crowded ones on the Ukiah-Boonville-Gualala route) and now he'll have four new buses running around empty. The existing buses don't run on a schedule that could be used by working people (or much of anyone else, for that matter). MTA also runs a cab service, “Dial-a-Ride,” in Ukiah and Fort Bragg, at a taxpayer subsidized cost of $15-$20 per passenger. Because the point of MTA is to secure government funded jobs for people like Richard rather than providing actual service to the public, MTA's Dial-a-Ride customers are often forced to wait an hour or more for a ride. By contrast Hey Taxi!, a private company based in Ukiah, offers rides in the Ukiah area for about $5 a pop, operates nights and weekends, and does so without any government subsidy. If MTA hired Hey Taxi! to provide the Dial-a-Ride services, they could do the job better and cheaper and provide better service to the passengers. MTA could still skim $5 a ride off the top to keep Richard employed doing whatever he does all day long.

GOVERNOR BROWN is rumored to be close to making one or more appointments to Mendocino County's two vacant superior court seats in Mendocino County. The finalists are David Basner, who has functioned as a Court magistrate for many years, hearing low level cases their fully-robed majesties can't be bothered with, David Reimenschneider, a Stanford graduate, former law partner of fellow Stanford grad Judge David Nelson, the latter a big player in the local Democratic Party, and County Counsel Jeannine Nadel. Nelson is said to be lobbying hard for his former law partner, and if Stanford is the criterion, why not Mike Sweeney? It would be hard for even the craftiest crook to get over on him, a man who has pulled off some spectacular felonies without a single arrest. Nadel, of course, has the locally crucial advantage of gender, which to the Mary Ann Villwock wing of the party where the worst woman is still better than the best man, that the Manson Girls would be better judges than Abe Lincoln, means Ms. Nadel is the only qualified candidate. (In real life, Ms. Nadel, unlike much of Mendolib, is very smart and very pleasant, but so was my grandmother.) The real question is why Mendocino County, population 90,000 needs nine judges, especially when Mendo's politically uncomfortable and controversial cases are always handed off to a stable of visiting judges. The answer to that one is that Mendocino County does not need 9 judges, that by a quirk in the enabling legislation a gang of jive hippies who'd gotten themselves elected outback justice court judges back in the early 1980s were elevated to the superior court bench with full Louis the Sun King pay and emoluments. And here we are forty years later with 9 of them doing the work two used to do.

I WATCHED the presidential motorcade last Thursday night from the corner of Divisadero and Broadway. I couldn't get any closer because the San Francisco police and the Secret Service had the entire neighborhood cordoned off two blocks around. I'd been downtown to see what my comrades in opposition were up to. Except for a platoon of screeching blonde harridans representing, their signs said, “The Tea Party,” the 500 or so people on my side, all of them opposed to Obama's policies on everything from medical marijuana to American imperialism, were quite subdued, and far outnumbered by the hordes of happy faces filing obliviously in to a $100 Obama dinner inside the Masonic. One of the Tea Party beasts held a sign that said, “Just Say No To Socialism.” Government assistance to the frail and the defeated represents “socialism” you see, and socialism, whatever it is, is bad because our black president is a socialist, you see, and name another country in the world where you meet the kind of militant ignorance you find in this one. It was cold and windy on Nob Hill. I hadn't been to a demonstration up there since 1967 when Air Marshall Ky, a Vietnamese fascist promoted by our government as a great freedom fighter, was staying at the Fairmont. That one quickly became a giant game of tag with the SFPD's Tactical Squad, big guys with fungo bat-like clubs. A retired SF cop I met at the Boonville Fair a couple of years ago told me he'd been recruited for the Tac Squad. “But I turned them down,” he said. “I didn't want to drive around every night with a bunch of fat guys looking for fights.” The night of the Ky demo, a lot of people, especially women who'd been seated across the street from the hotel in the first rank of demonstrators, got beat up when the fat guys, who I remember as tall and lean and fit, suddenly charged across the street and began clubbing everyone who couldn't get out of the way. The seated women — this was in the days of “chicks up front” — were hit hard, and it was embarrassing to get chased up and down the streets by the badged psychos without fighting back. Someone, probably one of the inevitable provocateurs, had thrown a ballon filled with red paint up against the front entrance of the hotel, and here came the fungo bats. When the Rolling Stones popped up with that song “Street Fighting Man” I knew they were operating from second hand information. The demos of '67 were more like the Running of the Bulls. Two cops would chase a thousand people down the street, which is what happens in Oakland these days when the suburban fantasists come to town to “fight” the police department in lieu of capitalism. Back at Divisadero and Broadway the other night, there were zero signs of political disaffection. There were more cops than there were citizens, and the few citizens who were present looked like the people you might find outside Madonna's hotel hoping to get an autograph. I tried to represent my fellow dissidents I'd left downtown at the Masonic by muttering a few complaints at the officious secret agent who pointlessly ordered me, “Back up on the sidewalk” as I stood a foot from it. I said, “What is this, Honduras?” Calvin Coolidge, unprotected, used to sit on his front porch and chat with passersby, and even Nixon, when he was loaded which, we've learned since, was nightly, walked outside the White House and talked football with demonstrators. The Secret Service guy who told me to get back on the sidewalk was a man of about forty; he'd given me a quick look, dismissing me as what I appeared, I guess, a crazy old guy talking to himself. Two pretty young women from on-camera television news — channels 2 and 7 — shivered in the wind with me for an hour to no purpose that I could see, dispatched by News Central to do what? Get a shot of Obama from two blocks away? Obama never was visible. His limo pulled into a tent erected at the garage entrance to my nephew's house, and from there he walked upstairs to the gym where he met with his host's family and shot a few hoops with my nephew. Now here's the strange thing, or stranger thing, because to me the entire night was beyond surreal given my family associations: for all the cops and Secret Service boys pounding the bushes on Broadway for bombs and eyeballing the traffic, with sharpshooters hunkered down on rooftops with sniper's rifles, when the president's motorcade finally hove into view with the largest phalanx of motorcycle cops I'd ever seen accompanying black window SUVs filled, I assumed, with more armed men, plus a bomb squad truck and local emergency vehicles of all descriptions, if my backpack had been a bomb I could have taken out both the limos with the presidential seals on them simply by hurling myself at them. And two guys with armor piercing ammo could have easily shot up the whole show. Second funny thing: About five minutes before this absurd motorized spectacle appeared, all traffic was stopped from entering the area for a half-mile around, and there was an eerie silence you never get in the city — never. And then the motorcade roared around the corner at Pacific onto Diviz for a block, left on Broadway and that was it. Honduras. I shuffled down the hill to California then west to Happy Garden on Clement for a plate of Mongolian beef and called it a night.

DOUG MOSEL! The Mendocino Environmental Center, KMEC Community Radio and the Mendocino Country Independent Newspaper, and may that fine publication's founder, the One True Green, looking down from his organic eternity, bless and keep it, presents, “The Visionary Speaker Series” featuring Doug Mosel: The Politics of a Local Economy, Friday, 7-10pm, February 24, at the Plowshares Community Room. Doug Mosel is the founder of the Mendocino Grain Project, a local grain co-op which provides organic wheat, garbanzo beans, and wheat flour to its members, “filling a badly needed gap in our local food security.” Tickets are on a sliding scale of $5 to $10.

MOSEL really is a visionary of a sort, but that term has become a kind of lingual kryptonite, unfortunately associated almost exclusively with the Wackos International. The local farm movement is crucial, given the precariousness of our oil-based economy staggering into what may be its last days, and it's too bad Mosel is ghetto-ized into the usual local echo chamber. He should be getting out into associations of more conventional-thinking people — the women's clubs, the chambers of commerce, the schools. Especially the schools. Everyone would be interested in what Mosel has to say, which is considerable about the history of local agriculture, once fairly independent of the outside economy, and his efforts to take local ag back to the future.

JIM HIGHTOWER writes: “In a January interview on CNN, the sanctimonious Santorum offered another startling insight into his moral code. When asked what he'd say to his daughter if she had been raped, was pregnant, and was crying for an abortion, he actually said, “the right approach is to accept this horribly created, in the sense of rape…gift of life and accept what God is giving you.” He added that his daughter — and presumably yours, too — ought to “make the best out of a bad situation.”

SANTORUM is a nut and all-round menace, but Hightower is criticizing him here for the wrong reason. A Catholic, Santorum's position on abortion is the Catholic position, shared by millions of non-Catholics and even quite a few secular humanist types. It's also defensible philosophically if you think life is a miracle, whether or not you think it's a miracle sponsored by God, with the odds against it many zillions to one.

PRESENTING Miss Ashley Tate, who just be the smartest young person in all of Mendocino County, if not the Northcoast. She answered the Daily Journal's Sunday question, If you became the president, what would be your first actions to help the country? Ashley replied, “I'd get rid of capitalism and reinstate real democracy.”

MIKE GENIELLA passes along this old photo of Grace Hudson and her dog Mascot, a St. Bernard. Mike says the picture was taken in 1895, and reminds us that “if you haven't visited the Grace Hudson Museum in Ukiah, you're missing out on a fascinating local adventure."

EYES ONLY, Giants fans: Prediction. Brandon Belt still won't be ready for major league pitching, Brandon Crawford will be. Belt often looked completely overwhelmed at the plate last year, Crawford didn't. Otherwise, the Giants look like a whole bunch of ifs: If Freddie Sanchez and Buster Posey are all the way healthy again, if the new outfielders can get on base, if the pitchers behind Lincecum and Cain do well. But Pablo will be better than ever, especially if people leave him alone about his weight.

DAVE SMITH, owner of Mulligan Books in Ukiah writes, “We need a zillion new family farms and gardens in this country, and we need to fill the Ukiah Valley with them to come through the challenging times ahead. It all starts with seeds? Sadly, one of the dirty little secrets of the organic seed trade, and the seed trade in general, is that many of the organic seeds' now being offered to gardeners are grown by giant transnational corporations in China and India. Mulligan Books & Seeds in Ukiah is partnering with Sustainable Seed Company in Covelo, Laughing Frog Farm in Laytonville, and other seed growers to localize seed breeding, growing, saving, and trading in Mendocino County with seeds adapted to our particular soils and climate, saving you money and providing a more secure local food system. We are recruiting local organic and biodynamic farmers to begin growing a portion of their plants for seed so we can gradually localize the seed trade closer to home. Seeds adapted to our local soils and climate produce more abundantly and cost far less than those being shipped around the world and across the country by who knows who, who knows where. As one of the very few counties in the US that has banned GMO plants, our seeds will be cleaner, safer, and cheaper as we localize their production. Meanwhile, we will be offering seeds in bulk for home gardeners under our own brand, Underground Seeds — weighed and sold over the counter by hand, by the ounce and 1/10th ounce. Get exactly the amount you want no more, no less.”

JOHN DICKERSON, THE CHICKEN LITTLE OF GOVERNMENT FINANCE, and husband of Congressman Wine Guy's local rep Heidi Dickerson, is making another run at creating a job for himself. When Dickerson was head of the taxpayer funded Promotional Alliance, he stonewalled the Grand Jury when they asked for an accounting of how he was spending the public's money. Judge Henderson, a reliable shill for the far right, ruled that it was ok for Dickerson to tell the GJ to stick it. Dickerson also battled with Jim Anderson, the County Administrative Officer at the time, and also managed to alienate the Board of Supervisors, who were in charge of approving funding for the Promotional Alliance. The Promo Alliance Board of Directors, finally realizing that Dickerson was a liability, first banned him from speaking at Board of Supes meetings, then canned him.

THE PUGNACIOUS DICKERSON then formed a partnership to run a local winery which was soon in bankruptcy proceedings. Dickerson next showed up as the Executive Director of the Mendocino County Employer's Council. The EC claims to speak for the business owners in the County, but refuses to disclose its members, and refuses to let them vote for the Board of Directors, or even attend BOD meetings. Kinda makes you wonder what kind of fool would join the thing, doesn't it? The EC is a front for the retro views of a handful of multi-millionaires, including John Mayfield, Dick Selzer and Margie Handley of the inland ruling class, and Barbara and Monte Reed of the coast branch.

DICKERSON, a self-styled “life-long Democrat” (code for: “I vote Republican every chance I get”) was a perfect fit for the anti-government agenda of the Employer's Council. As front man for the EC, Dickerson was able to go on the attack against the County establishment that had done him wrong, as he saw it, when he was head of the Promo Alliance. But Dickerson, who bills himself as a “financial analyst,” was fired by the EC after the lights were shut off because Dickerson was so wrapped up in bashing the City and that County that he couldn't be bothered to pay the utility bill.

DICKERSON'S WORK as a full-time government gadfly may be viscerally satisfying to him, but doesn't do much to pay the bills. A year ago he announced a series of meetings around the county to organize a “Reform Coalition” to hold the County accountable for its poor financial management. He claimed the effort was non-political but said he had nine conservative/libertarian financial experts lined up and needed six progressive/liberal financial experts to complete the membership of the coalition steering committee. We never heard any reports on the series of meetings and Dickerson, who sends monthly newsletters to an email list, never mentioned the “Reform Coalition” again. Until now.

DICKERSON HAS JUST ISSUED AN APPEAL to “financial professionals” to join what he now calls the “Coalition for Government Financial Accountability.” “We've just incorporated the Education Fund. We'll organize the larger Coalition this spring.” The “Education Fund,” controlled by Dickerson and two of his friends, has been set up as a charitable organization so donations (to fund Dickerson) will be tax deductible. Dickerson is again calling again for “3 to 6 financial professionals” to rubber stamp his criticisms and lend them an aura of respectability. The bigger challenge will be finding enough people willing to be paying members of the larger coalition. And of course, the coalition will need an Executive Director. And who would be more qualified than Mr. D.?

DICKERSON WAS ALSO PROMOTING the Californian's for Pension Reform, (CPR) a right wing financed group set up to try and gut public employee pension benefits. CPR recently announced they were dropping their plans for an initiative measure because State Attorney General Kamala Harris had released a misleading ballot title and summary. The criticism was not without foundation (Harris highlighted potential cuts to Nurses, Teachers and Firefighters, the most sympathetic public employee groups), but the overall goal of CPR was to eviscerate public employee bargaining groups. And key elements of the CPR approach were probably unconstitutional. Dickerson was said to be angling for the job of managing the initiative campaign. It is no coincidence that he is renewing his plans to form a local “reform coalition” immediately after the organizers pulled the plug on CPR.

72 YEARS AGO from the February 18, 1940, edition of the Fort Bragg Advocate: “It was announced today by A.N. Cruikshanks, director of the Fort Bragg Community Forum, that a complete spring series of forums will be presented in this city beginning on Friday evening in Cotton Auditorium. The Forum was able to obtain an exceptionally fine group of speakers who were officially endorsed by their various governments. The list included representatives of Japan, China and Nazi Germany.”

HMMM, February of 1940? Kinda late to be inviting the Nazis to redwood country, wasn't it? And one has to wonder what the Chinese had to say to the Japanese in the aftermath of Japan's infamous rape of Nanking in December of 1937. (Iris Chang's excellent book on that terrible event is recommended reading.) The Japanese remain in denial about that one, joining the Turks in their ongoing claim that the Armenians just sort of disappeared, and the Zionist insistence that they alone made the uninhabited desert bloom, and our very own Judge Hastings of Eden Valley and Benicia, in whose name the famous law school is named, who personally initiated the slaughter of Northcoast Indians by persuading the California legislature to hire Jarboe's Rangers to systematically hunt inland Mendocino County's Indians down and murder them. Jarboe himself, incidentally, became Ukiah's very first cop.

LISA HILLEGAS, MANAGING ATTORNEY for the local office of Legal Services of Northern California, has resigned after being out on paid “stress” leave for nearly a year. Part of her stress was being ordered not to talk to one of her subordinates; the subordinate has now been named as the interim replacement for Ms. Hillegas. Legal Services, funded mostly by the federal government, augments its budget by suing the County over its General Plan Housing Element. No housing ever gets built as a result of these lawsuits, but the County is forced to jump through a series of costly bureaucratic hoops. And Legal Services, which claims to be an advocate for low income housing, then extracts a healthy fee for upholding the law.

MENDOCINO COUNTY IS SUING Solid Waste Systems (SWS), the corporate shell that operates the Ukiah Transfer Station. SWS is one of a half dozen or more companies set up by a couple of garbage guys from Nevada when they took over the local garbage operation from North Bay Corporation owned by Jim Ratto. The multiple companies, all under the same ownership, made it easy for the company to snow the libs on the City Council by claiming the transfer station and the garbage franchise were losing money, big time. But the County, which has a separate Site Use Agreement from 2003 that limits the fee increases that can be charged, is not going along. The County is suing to recover overcharges of a quarter of a million dollars for last calendar year, with the amount increasing daily. The County says they are willing to consider increasing fees, but only if the company agrees to an independent audit to prove they are necessary. Solid Waste Systems also tried to get Mike Sweeney off Ukiah's garbage case. Say what you will about Sweeney, he knows garbage contracts.

THE CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING has resurrected Steve Talbot's first documentary for Frontline called, “The Best Campaign Money Can Buy,” just in time for this year's $2 billion presidential race. Watch it online here. As Talbot points out, “Of course, the story we were telling and the big money influence we were exposing at the time is now worse than ever with the Citizens United decision and the Super PACs. But that's no reason to stop shining some light in the dark corners.”

WEIRD EXCHANGE on Piers Morgan's CNN chat show Monday night. Morgan was interviewing famed record producer Narada Michael Walden. Morgan asked Walden where he was when he heard about Whitney Houston's death. Walden replies; “I was in a really, really tiny town in Northern California called GWAlala, very remote, and all we had was a small transistor radio and that's how I heard about Whitney.” Narada seems unaware that Gualala not only enjoys indoor plumbing, hot and cold running water, but also has cable and satellite TV. Internet, even.

MOPES from all over are now appearing in Mendocino County for Home Invasion Season, 2012. Monday, February 13th, four Sacramento-area men were arrested at 930 in the morning on Black Hawk Drive, Willits, as they sat in the driveway of a property involved in the medical marijuana business. “Yo, dude. Like is this the place?” The owner, instantly concluding that the quartet was in Willits to rob him, called the Sheriff's Department who were soon on scene where they noted that three of the four men were tweeked. A search of their vehicle duly revealed methamphetamine as well as the full home invasion kit: several military style backpacks, gloves, stocking caps, bolt cutters, flash lights, saws, saw blades, duct tape, and night vision devices. Oh, and a loaded .380 caliber pistol was found in the brush near the vehicle. Eventually the suspects admitted they had come to Willits intending to steal marijuana. All four were arrested and booked into the Mendocino County Jail on charges of criminal conspiracy, attempted robbery, possession of methamphetamine and possession of burglary tools. They're being held on $150,000.00 bail.

ACCORDING to the people overseeing the removal of poisoned earth at the G-P mill site in Fort Bragg, the chemical purge of the 415-acre property lying between the middle of town and the ocean is “about two thirds remediated and ready for appropriate new uses,” among them, we hope, is a trail linking Noyo Harbor to the Old Haul Road running along the bluffs. It could have been open by now but the chemophobes, concerned about other areas of the site, have prevented it.

A TERRIBLE RUMOR, verified off the record by at least one physician, says that a five-year-old who died in Ukiah last week is also a victim of meningitis. A three-year-old at the Pinoleville Rancheria north of Ukiah is confirmed to have died the week before of the lethal virus.

ANDREA LONGORIA, a Substance Abuse Counselor in the County’s Health and Human Services Department hired in 2006, and a member of the Service Employees International Union negotiating team, will challenge incumbent Supervisor John McCowen for his Second District seat. At a meeting of the Supervisors last fall, irate at the proposed pay and hours cut, Longoria shouted out, “You say nonchalantly that, yes, we all understood that less hours, of course vacation and certain other accruals would be affected. But then you hung us up upside down for every nickel, dime and penny! You’re taking our bereavement! Seriously? I have a daughter who is terminally ill! Are you kidding me?! You are going to fuck with my bereavement?! A 32 hour workweek? I mean, to reduce, to make us permanent part-time employees is just, like, despicable!”

IN A HIGHLY UNUSUAL, nay suspicious, move last month, Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Richard Henderson said that he would reconsider the four-year sentence he'd meted out to Cody Fisher, 30, for a drunk driving death Fisher caused. The judge said he would bring Fisher back into court “in light of sentences recently imposed on other defendants in Mendocino, Lake and Sonoma counties for similar offenses.” Which couldn't be true because these counties routinely mete out even harsher sentences for drunk driving accidents in which one or more persons are killed. In Fisher's case his best friend was killed when Fisher, under the influence, careened off a dirt road in a remote area of the McNab Ranch outside of Hopland. Fisher waited four hours before calling for help. But he subsequently hired a well-connected San Diego attorney who is a bigwig on the judicial committee considering the new County courthouse for Ukiah. Henderson has made it clear he will hand Fisher a much lighter sentence of a year in the Mendocino County Jail when Fisher appears in court last Friday.

IT SEEMS THAT HENDERSON had a major change of mind Friday when Fisher appeared before him for a resentencing on the four years in state prison Henderson had already given Fisher for a DUI accident in which Fisher's best friend was killed. In January, Henderson had notified the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office that he was considering a lighter sentence of up to a year in the County Jail and five years of probation. Re-sentences are rare to non-existent in Mendocino County. Court watchers assumed Henderson had been persuaded by Fisher's influential San Diego attorney, Thomas Warwick, to reconsider because Warwick also sits on the judicial committee that allocates funds for new courthouses, and Mendocino County's over-large judicial delegation is unanimous in their desire for a new courthouse. Henderson's move to re-sentence Fisher caused quite a hullabaloo beyond the DA's opposition to it. Mothers Against Drunk Driving was opposed as were numerous local individuals, all of whom argued that four years is the median sentence for lethal drunk driving, but the Fisher case was even more egregious than that crime normally is. Fisher had gone out drinking on August 28th to celebrate a birthday, and despite having taken a cab to and from where he parked his pickup truck on McNab Ranch Road at Highway 101, he drove his truck back up the winding, unpaved mountain road towards his home. En route, the truck plunged off the dirt road, turning over on to its roof as it careened down an embankment, finally hitting a tree. Matt Pare, also 30, was trapped inside, but Fisher waited almost four hours before calling for help, instead summoning his fiancé to the scene with a pot of coffee. Photographs of the crushed vehicle show Pare “half hanging out of the car,” in the judge's words. “Surely Mr. Fisher saw him, but instead of being stricken with concern for the death he had caused, he was concerned first for himself.” The victim's mother and Fisher's attorney pleaded with the court to consider probation for Fisher, rightly pointing out that state prison is unlikely to benefit the young man, just as it tends not to benefit most of the people consigned to it. But Lynn Darst of Mothers Against Drunk Driving urged Henderson to uphold Fisher's original sentence. “In addition to killing his friend, he put many more people in the public at risk of the same fate on that awful day. The time for the defendant to have expressed concern for the amount of prison time to be served was somewhere between his previous DUI conviction and before putting his key in the ignition of his vehicle while under the influence once again.” Henderson said that Fisher's “severe degree of intoxication” at the time of the crash, and the fact that he and his friends had arranged in advance for a cab to take them from McNab Ranch Road into town and back meant that Fisher may have known he would be driving under the influence. Fisher readily admitted to gross vehicular manslaughter while under the influence of alcohol and a charge that he failed to render aid to his friend after the accident. He originally faced up to 11 years in state prison and received the minimum sentence of four years. Prosecutor Paul Sequeira boldly challenged Henderson's reasoning for bringing the Fisher case back into court “in light of sentences recently imposed on other defendants in Mendocino, Lake and Sonoma counties for similar offenses.” Sequeira pointed out that defendants in similar cases got similar or heavier sentences, and asked Henderson if the judge had specific cases in mind when he decided to consider a re-sentence for Fisher. “Just proceed with your argument,” Henderson stonewalled. Sequeira persisted. “The public has the right to know what was on your mind,” to which Henderson again replied, “Just proceed with your argument,” and proceeded to unconvincingly weasel-lip the proceedings to a close. “I apologize to everyone for having to bring this matter back before the court,” he said. “I did not intend to create the false impression ... that the court would place Mr. Fisher on probation at this time.” Henderson said “seven factors” had gone into his original sentencing, but that he had “failed to consider some of these factors" and “felt I had to recall the case to reconsider it and discuss it on the record.”

SUPERVISOR JOHN PINCHES said last month that the Willits bypass was “a done deal.” Pinches said as soon as the Corps of Engineers signed off on the last mitigation — six acres of wetlands in a valley that was mostly wetlands at one time — all systems would be go. Sure enough, early this week the Corps signed off on the permits. Caltrans is expected to also sign. Then Caltrans will request $158 million in funding from the California Transportation Commission and project bids would be posted in May for the six-mile end around perennially congested Willits. The work would commence in earnest in the winter of 2013.

MONDAY MORNING (20 February), a little before 11, Dane Kraich turned himself in at the County Jail, Ukiah. He is being held on no bail. Late Tuesday night the 14th of February, Kraich, a 49-year-old Point Arena man, shot his young wife, Nicole, 24, and disappeared. Kraich had been sought for nearly a week for attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon, as well as a parole violation warrant out of Idaho on a drug charge. Sgt. Van Patten of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Department said Kraich “has several family members in the Point Arena area and connections outside California.” Van Patten also said that Kraich's friends and family “hadn't heard from him since within a few hours of the incident, when he sent text messages to an ex with whom he had a child and to his boss.” The first message said, “I'm sorry,” and the second said “something to the effect of things went too far.'“ The newly married couple were drinking Tuesday night when they argued, according to Van Patten, and Kraich “attacked his wife with closed fists, leaving her bruised and swollen.” Kraich then drove away from the property and his wife left the home on foot. “This is a pretty rural piece of property,” Van Patten said. “She's got a mile and a half to a mile to go to get back to the main road.” She was apparently walking up the long gravel driveway toward Buckridge Road where Kraich discovered her. He told Nicole that she wasn't leaving, by which Kraich seemed to mean she wasn't leaving ever, and fired at her three times with a handgun. The one round that hit Nicole “went all the way through her back,” Van Patten said. Kraich then bundled his wounded wife into his vehicle, drove her back to their house where he put her inside and drove off again. “She thought she was left for dead,” Van Patten said. The young woman, shoeless, again left the house, again making her way along the long gravel driveway toward the main road. She saw Kraich's car returning and hid in the woods by the road, then made her way to a neighbor's house, where she summoned help just after 1am Wednesday. Kraich had worked as a ranch caretaker in Point Arena for several years and, from what we can gather, was generally well-liked.

DIAZ UPDATE (from Chris Diaz’s parents): “Attorney Rudy Taylor has offered to do Chris’ case pro-bono but would like us to raise as much money as we can in order to travel and board Dr. Courtney and any other expert witnesses to Texas. He has also arranged a small house for Chris and Nona to stay while waiting for his trial date on April 2nd 2012. Rudy is a strong advocate for individual rights, and is known in the community for his stance on the Cannabis issue. He is a breath of fresh air in this town. We have been successful in raising the collateral for the $168,000 bail to get Chris out of the Brown County jail and safe. Attorney Rudy Taylor and Chris’ mom drove to the jail and posted the bond before noon today. Rudy had called down to the jail and arranged everything to get him out ahead of time. When they arrived Rudy was told that Sheriff Grubbs had to approve Chris’ release as per “county policy.” Rudy called Sheriff Bobby Grubbs and he told Rudy “I just can’t let him go this weekend, I think he’ll run” Rudy argued that the Judge Ellis set the bond, that the bond was fulfilled, and that he (Grubbs) didn’t have the authority to deny his release. Grubbs said he would leave it up to the judge to decide (in a hearing), knowing full well that Monday is a holiday and the Judge is on his regular circuit in a different county on Tuesday. He argued of Chris’ health as the primary reason for getting him out, Grubbs still denied. Rudy’s final argument was that Grubbs was taking an inappropriate personal interest in the case that is complicating a man’s poor health. Grubbs reply was “He looks fine to me” and went on to complain that Chris wasn’t taking the medication the emergency room had prescribed him. Rudy had to explain to Grubbs the reason Chris wasn’t taking the drugs was because they were the same drugs that were prescribed to him just three days before his lungs collapsed in 2007. Judge Ellis has a policy in which he will not have ex-parte communication with attorneys. This leaves Rudy to travel to a different county on Tuesday to file an emergency writ with Judge Ellis in order to get Chris out. Today is Saturday. Sheriff Bobby Grubbs has his own policy. He will not allow his deputies to release bonds over a certain amount without his personal approval and signature. Last year Grubbs did the same thing at $40k. In June of 2010, right after they arrested Chris, Grubbs told the newspaper Chris was a flight risk, mandating the full $40,000 bail to be paid before release, we didn’t have it and Chris spent 80 days in the Brownwood jail. Grubbs’ only reason was because Chris was from California. When we finally were able to come with $5k and the $80k property last year and posted the bond, Sheriff Grubbs refused to let Chris out for two days. He waited until Chris’ 21st birthday to let him out. This year, we come again full faith on the outrageous bail, this time Chris has been very sick and again Grubbs has denied his release, outside of the law.”

DIAZ CONTINUED: “Sunday Feb 19, 2012. — This morning Rudy Taylor called Sheriff Grubbs, at home, to question his legal authority for denying Chris’ release and to see if he had changed his mind. Rudy told us Grubbs could not state any legal authority to deny Chris’ release and stated “the judge will have to make me do it.” Which means, in court, on Tuesday. Rudy Taylor said he will be filing an emergency writ in Mills County first thing Tuesday morning to have Judge Ellis order Sheriff Bobby Grubbs to follow the law. Grubbs has taken a personal interest in destroying our family from the onset. He has gone to the newspaper and repeatedly attacked us to discredit Chris, and Medical Cannabis in this small town. He's gone way over the line this time. The judge set ridiculously high bonds at the request of the DA, and they have been met. We have hired a lawyer, and we have successfully paid to get him out. The Sheriff wont let him go. Grubbs said he has “training” on Tuesday and “wont be around.” Implying that he “wont be around” on Tuesday to let Chris go even after the Judge orders it.”

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