Mendocino County Today: January 22, 2013
by AVA News Service, January 21, 2013
A READER WRITES: “That was an interesting press release from the City of Willits announcing the departure of City Manager Paul Cayler. After praising Cayler's accomplishments and attributes the release cryptically says the City Council has chosen to pursue ‘a different direction’ with the City Manager position. So if they don't like the direction Cayler was taking them, does that mean the City Council is no longer interested in a balanced budget, focused leadership, competency and skill and the highest ethical standards and honesty? Cayler was too closely identified with the previous good old boy conservative council majority of Bruce Burton, Victor Hanson and Larry Stransky. With Madge Strong replacing Hanson, Cayler's days were numbered.”
WILLITS CITY CLERK Adrienne Moore is rumored to have the inside track to replace Cayler, at least on an interim basis. Moore previously worked in the Mendocino County Board of Supervisor's office as a deputy clerk of the board, taking the City Clerk position a couple of years ago. Moore is well liked and gets high marks for her work as City Clerk. Cayler also previously worked in the County CEO's office. County Museum Director Allison Glassey has also been mentioned as another candidate to replace Cayler. Before Cayler was hired, it was announced that Glassey (who also worked in the CEO's office at the time) would get the job, but she turned it down when the news was leaked that she had been offered the job on a 3-2 vote. Glassey's position at the museum seems secure, so the smart money says she is no longer interested in serving at the whim of a sharply divided City Council.
THE KENDALL SMITH job search continues in high gear. Smith has told friends that she can't live on her retirement as a County Supervisor. Smith also loves to travel, but only on someone else's dime. Before deciding to step down, Smith initially announced on Norman DeVall's Access show on KZYX radio that she was running for a third term. When Dan Gjerde announced he was also running, Smith met with Gjerde to pressure him not to run. Smith has a tactic of cornering people and applying a sort of verbal rope-a-dope until her target caves in and gives her what she wants just so the abuse will stop. Smith argued that it would really be better for the Fourth District to keep her on the job because of her vast knowledge and insider contacts (Smith once worked for Congressman Wine Guy). Smith also wanted to know from Gjerde just what he thought he could do as supervisor that she could not do better. (For starters, it's unlikely that Gjerde will steal public funds. Second, he speaks linear English.) We don't know what Gjerde said in reply to Smith's pleas that he not run against her, but Smith, unable to move him, quickly decided not to run for a third term. She knew Gjerde would have smoked her.
AFTER GJERDE refused to bow out, the politically tone deaf Smith still thought she could bluster her way to another term by counting on traditional local Dem Party constituencies like SEIU and the local branch of the National Women's Political Caucus. But the rank and file SEIU workers were acutely aware that Smith insisted on drawing her full pay even as she voted to cut theirs. And even the politically correct ladies of the NWPC realized that Smith was a liability. Faced with a steady erosion of support from her previous supporters, Smith finally realized Gjerde would win in a landslide if she stayed in the race. As soon as Smith announced that she would “retire” her job search began in earnest. Smith seems to think, based on her experience and knowledge of issues, her insider contacts and her skill as an advocate, that government agencies and non-profits should be beating a path to her door to sign her up as an analyst or a lobbyist.
SMITH'S RESUME will show that she first went to work for Mendocino County Social Services. Not surprisingly, Smith made it a habit to break the rules and go behind her supervisors' back to get her way. The County tried to fire Smith at least once (maybe two or three times, we are told) but Smith managed to hold onto her job. At Smith's last meeting, former County CAO and retirement system Administrator Jim Andersen was among those who fawningly offered praise for Smith. When Smith took the floor she singled out Andersen for praise, citing as a mark of his integrity that when he served on the County Civil Service Commission he cast the swing vote to prevent Smith from being fired. Smith next worked as a staffer for Mike Thompson, both when he was State Senator and then when he became the exclusive representative in Congress of the local wine interests.
DURING SMITH'S first run for Supervisor, she was challenged by Steve Cardullo, a County Department of Transportation employee. Natch, all the regional and local Dem Party insiders, like Wine Guy, Patty Berg, Chesbro, Rachel Binah, Joe Wildman, and Val Muchowski — major enemies of hope and progress — lined up behind Smith who won easily. Cardullo had real life experience and practical ideas on how to make the County function more efficiently, but without funding or the backing of the local political honchos, he was never able to get his message out to the voters and the election of Smith took on an air of inevitability.
FOUR YEARS AGO, Smith was challenged by County Planner (in the Fort Bragg office) Paula Deeter who also owns the Herban Legend medical marijuana dispensary. The joke going around the fourth district was whether people should vote for travel cheat Smith or dope dealer Deeter. Those who voted for Smith now know they made a mistake. Deeter, who has always operated her dispensary in full compliance with state and local laws is no dope dealer and is a very good planner, but Smith, with the backing of the above-named enemies of hope and change, got herself re-elected over the far more capable Deeter.
A FULL ACCOUNTING of Smith's record in office would show that she is the only Supervisor in County history to be the subject of three successive Grand Jury investigations, all dealing with her attempts to fraudulently claim reimbursement for travel she did not travel and her willful refusal to pay any of the money back. Smith was claiming mileage reimbursement for driving back and forth to Fort Bragg every day but she was really driving a few blocks to a friend's house in Ukiah where she stayed for free. When the Grand Jury blew the whistle, Smith claimed she was following the accepted practice (!) and refused to pay the money back. Smith said her predecessor, Patty Campbell, had done the same thing, but Campbell assured the Grand Jury that she only filed claims for travel she actually took. The Grand Jury sent Smith a bill and told her to pay up. The Auditor/Controller reduced the Grand Jury's amount of about $3,600 to $3,000 and change, a fraction of what Smith really got away with. (Her fellow supervisor, David Colfax, was also described as a reimbursement cheat by the County Grand Jury, but they had trouble pinning down how much.) Smith even told the Grand Jury at one point that she would reimburse the County but refused to actually cough up. Following a thorough investigation, newly elected DA David Eyster told Smith's lawyer that Smith could either pay the County back or turn herself into the jail for booking. Finally Smith wrote the check, but not before putting the County to a hundred grand or so in high dollar staff time to deal with her petty chicanery.
SMITH ALSO DISTINGUISHED HERSELF by being the only County employee (along with her devoted sidekick David Colfax) not to take at least a 10% pay cut during the last several years of budget cuts at the County. The rest of her colleagues realized that if they were asking the worker bees to take a pay cut then they should take one themselves — first. Smith's refusal to take the same pay cut that she eagerly imposed on everyone else, and her willingness to argue that she really deserved a raise, put the County in a bad light, to say the least. Gjerde's election to the Board of Supes leaves a vacancy on the Fort Bragg City Council. Don't hold your breath, but Kendall Smith, who lives in Fort Bragg, could test her popularity among her former constituents by running for the open seat.
MARTIN LUTHER KING'S Vehement Condemnations of US Militarism. By Glenn Greenwald
The civil right achievements of Martin Luther King are quite justly the focus of the annual birthday commemoration of his legacy. But it is remarkable, as I've noted before on this holiday, how completely his vehement anti-war advocacy is ignored when commemorating his life (just as his economic views are). By King's own description, his work against US violence and militarism, not only in Vietnam but generally, was central — indispensable — to his worldview and activism, yet it has been almost completely erased from how he is remembered. King argued for the centrality of his anti-militarism advocacy most eloquently on April 4, 1967, at Riverside Church in New York City — exactly one year before the day he was murdered.
That extraordinary speech was devoted to answering his critics who had been complaining that his anti-war activism was distracting from his civil rights work ("Peace and civil rights don't mix, they say. Aren't you hurting the cause of your people, they ask?"). King, citing seven independent reasons, was adamant that ending US militarism and imperialism was not merely a moral imperative in its own right, but a prerequisite to achieving any meaningful reforms in American domestic life. In that speech, King called the US government "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today", as well as the leading exponent of "the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long" (is there any surprise this has been whitewashed from his legacy?). He emphasized that his condemnations extended far beyond the conflict in Southeast Asia: "the war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit."
He insisted that no significant social problem — wealth inequality, gun violence, racial strife — could be resolved while the US remains "a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift" — a recipe, he said, for certain "spiritual death". For that reason, he argued, "it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war." That's because: "If America's soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read Vietnam. It can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world over." Working against US imperialism was, he said, "the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation's self-defined goals and positions."
For King, opposing US violence in the world was not optional but obligatory: "We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy…" The entire speech is indescribably compelling and its applicability to contemporary US behavior obvious. I urge everyone who hasn't already done so to take the time to read it. Barack Obama's grand inaugural ceremony will take place today on the holiday memorializing King's birthday. Obama will always be linked in history to King because his election (and re-election) as America's first African American president is, standing alone, an inspiring by-product of King's work on racial justice. But this symbolic link has another, less inspiring symbolic meaning: Obama's policies are a manifestation of exactly the militaristic mindset which King so eloquently denounced. (Courtesy, the London Guardian)
COMMENT OF THE DAY: This happens to be the day when the articulator-in-chief gets his official new lease in office. Genial figure that he is, I don't think President Obama has a clue where all this is heading. I suppose he'll argue for stricter gun laws today, but that horse is already so far out of the barn it's in the next county. We don't seem to realize that America is now fully armed. There are more guns in America than there are people. Additional firearms are just superfluous at this point. And to some degree the people armed themselves in direct consequence as their government tinkered with due process, and sent drone aircraft into the American skies, and commenced computer hacking operations over every business transaction in the system, and voided the rule-of-law against criminal uber-bankers who creamed off the nation's wealth while holding the economy hostage. Since the armed public is not ready to mount an insurrection against this impudence, the dangerous tension is expressed in morbid and tragic episodes of mass shootings by maniacs against the innocent. What I want to know: where is the lone swindled rancher who waits to bushwhack Jon Corzine of MF Global in the parking lots of Easthampton, since the law won't touch him? — Jim Kunstler
Authors Steve Sparks & Sheriff Tom Allman
AUTHOR! AUTHOR! Sheriff Allman and Steve Sparks have scheduled four book signings around the County in upcoming weeks for their new book “Out There In The Woods,” the comprehensive account of the hunt for murderer Aaron Bassler and the aftermath.
Friday, Jan 25, Ukiah at Mendocino Book Company, 6-8pm
Friday, Feb 1, Willits at The Book Juggler, 6-8pm
Saturday, Feb 9, Mendocino at Gallery Books, 6.30-8.30pm
Saturday, Feb 16, Boonville at Lauren's, presented by Laughing Dog Books, 4-6pm
A SENSE OF PLACE, January 25—April 18, 2013
A group of artists from the coast to the inland valley of Mendocino County. Each brings their unique sense of place. Together, as appreciators and stewards of our environment, they share their images of landscape and the lifestyles that connect us. A reception for the Artists will be held on Saturday, January 26, 2013. Scharffenberger Cellars Tasting Room.5:30-7:30pm.
MENDOCINO COUNTY SPARS With Feds Over Conflicting Marijuana Laws. By Joe Mozingo.
Mendocino County is fighting efforts by federal prosecutors to get records on medical marijuana growers who signed up for a program intended to sanction their businesses under state law.
The county's resistance creates a rare legal clash between local and federal authorities over conflicting marijuana laws. The US Justice Department has been targeting growers and purveyors of medical cannabis, and threatening local or state officials who try to regulate the trade, saying all marijuana use is illegal under federal law.
Last March, Mendocino County officials bowed to such threats and stopped issuing permits to grow up to 99 plants. Now county attorneys are urging a federal judge in San Francisco to quash a federal subpoena issued in October demanding a wide range of information about the cultivation program, including applications of growers seeking permits.
Two marijuana advocacy groups seeking clearer laws in California filed briefs arguing that compliance with the subpoena would reveal confidential medical information and bank records and "undermine the county's considered and thoughtful attempts to regulate marijuana pursuant to state law."
"The message this sends to people across the state trying to comply in good faith with medical marijuana regulations is that they should operate below ground," said Adam Wolf, a San Francisco attorney representing the two groups, the Emerald Growers Assn. and Americans for Safe Access. "That's the last thing the government should do."
A spokesman for Melinda Haag, the U.S. attorney for Northern California, declined to comment on the case. The subpoena does not make clear what or who is being investigated. A hearing is set for Jan. 29.
Mendocino County instituted County Code 9.31 in 2010 to try to control a surge of marijuana cultivation. Robberies jumped as newcomers flooded in. And with no regulation, many growers illegally graded, logged and diverted creeks to produce huge, multimillion-dollar crops.
Some local growers wanted to "reintegrate into the county and not feel like outlaws," said county Supervisor John McCowen. Those who registered with the sheriff had to install security fencing and cameras, pay permitting fees up to $6,450 a year and undergo inspections four times a year. Every plant was given a zip-tie with a sheriff's serial number on it.
Eighteen growers signed up the first year. Medical marijuana advocates hailed the zip-tie program as the first to create a clear, legal means for growers to supply the medical market.
George Unsworth, 60, was among those who participated. He loves to show photos from the day deputies first came to inspect his pot. "To be in a garden with them in a Mendocino forest, and not be in handcuffs facedown in the dirt, but to be shaking hands, it was beautiful," he said. "I take my hat off to Mendocino County."
The U.S. attorney was quick to show its disapproval. Drug Enforcement Administration agents raided the farm of the first person to register, Joy Greenfield. Still, 91 growers signed up the next year.
Agents then targeted Matt Cohen, the grower most vocal in advocating for the program and getting it set up.
Despite the raids, county officials planned to continue the program. It had paid for itself — generating an estimated $600,000 — over two years and allowed the sheriff to focus on growers causing more problems.
"The program drew a clear line between those who were doing everything to be compliant with local and state laws and people who were outlaws," McCowen said. "The marijuana industry was completely out of control, and the permit program was an effort to bring order out of chaos, and it was working."
But county officials stopped the permitting and inspections in March after the U.S. attorney threatened them with legal action. The federal subpoena landed in October, demanding records of inspections, applications, internal county emails, notes, memos and bank account numbers.
McCowen said he can't understand why prosecutors are focusing on the county's registered growers. "When you've eliminated all those outlaw, trespass growers, then come talk to us about our legally compliant 99-plant growers."
Lawyers for the county and the marijuana groups argue that the subpoena should be quashed because it seeks privileged information and would gut attempts to regulate medical marijuana. They say similar attempts by the federal government to undermine state and local marijuana laws were rejected in court.
Kristin Nevedal, chairwoman of the Emerald Growers Assn., said her members are very concerned about the subpoena. "All these folks who got involved in the zip-tie program really felt they were doing the right thing following state law."
Unsworth, who signed up for the program the first year, said he knew the demands by federal authorities were coming. An Air Force veteran with multiple sclerosis, he didn't care. He said he wanted to put his face on the medical marijuana movement and hopes the case goes to the Supreme Court.
"Until we change the federal law, we're breaking the law. Period. We're lawbreakers." (Courtesy, the Los Angeles Times)