Off The Record

by AVA News Service, January 22, 2013

DA EYSTER probably already knows that lots of people want him to prosecute crimes against animals, which he has not yet done, but he may not know the extent of the anger at major instances of neglected horses that have gone un-sanctioned, one in Redwood Valley, the other In Laytonville.

CORRECTION: in our edition of November 14th, I somehow failed to credit Jennifer Poole as the author of the truly excellent report in the Willits News on the Willits School Bond fiasco. I think Jennifer was rightly awarded special recognition for that report from the Digital First Media Group.

IT WAS MUNI'S 100TH anniversary the morning I set out for the Ho Chi Minh Trail where I was meeting a guy for lunch at the Bodega Bistro, 607 Larkin. (Bo is beef; de is lamb; ga is chicken. Bo de ga. Nothing to do with burritos.) The food is wonderful and wonderfully cheap, but I never could detect anything bistro-like in the place.) Lower Larkin is home to a string of Vietnamese restaurants, hence the reference to Uncle Ho, a reference unlikely to be viewed as friendly by Bay Area Vietnamese, most of whom fought on the other side in the Vietnam war. San Francisco markets itself as cutely diverse, but it's a city grown so rich that what diversity remains is pretty much confined to a few blocks downtown where there's enough diversity in the Tenderloin to short out even the purplest multi-culturist, a neighborhood of free range grotesques whose jarring visuals are interwoven with the Asian and Hispanic families who live there. San Francisco's crime and homeless politics seem simple enough: restrict capitalism's most deformed victims to these few blocks where they can do whatever they want short of assaulting tourists, the city's paying customers. If the damned and the doomed stray north of Geary, west of Kearny or east of VanNess, book 'em Dano, but they can roam south all the way to Candlestick — except on game days. (You won't see a homeless person even shuffling through Pacific Heights. Ever. And the Park Police pounce immediately if they catch one lingering anywhere in the Presidio. Ditto for all the city's upscale neighborhoods.) Waiting for my friend to show up at Larkin and Eddy, I watched a half-dozen drug deals, the usual platoon of shambling wrecks talking to themselves as they pushed their worldly goods along in shopping carts, and there were plenty of freshly paroled tough guys, and prostitutes, and botched gender re-assignments, and innumerable drunks. Against this multi-hued canvas of equal parts menace and despair, children ran in and out as if they were playing in a redwood grove while their wholly focused parents labored in the Asian restaurants reclaiming the area. Considering it was 11:30am, the full American monte was on display. No different at 11:30pm, but wear your running shoes and carry a heavy walking stick after nightfall. The Bodega Cafe, San Francisco, Eddy and Larkin, an AVA-recommended place to eat.

AUTHOR! AUTHOR! Sheriff Allman and Steve Sparks made their first foray into book-flogging the other night, stopping at the Skunk Train Depot in Fort Bragg to talk about their splendid account of the Bassler affair, Out There In The Woods. The Sheriff was late arriving, and was thus spared the unpleasant encounter Sparks was forced to endure alone when a man ran up into Sparks' face and yelled, “I'm the dead guy!”

ON PAGE 80 of the first run of books, Mr. Dead Man was confused with his father, who really is dead. The few books still containing the incorrect paragraph also contain a correction notice, and all the books printed since don't contain it.

A SENSIBLE PERSON, of whom there are at least four hundred in Fort Bragg judging by the weekly sales of this fine publication, would have approached Sparks and said with a chuckle, “How do you do, Mr. Sparks? I'm the dead guy on page 80 of your book.” Instead, this guy runs up on Sparks like he wants to fight and pays no attention to Sparks' apologies and explanations that he and the Sheriff have gone to extravagant lengths to remedy the error. Double Duh of the week for Mr. Dead Guy.

SPARKS' INTERFACE with this clown reminded me of the much less intense encounters I had in Fort Bragg twenty years ago or so when we published a series on the Fort Bragg Fires of 1987. We'd gone to multiple printings of those papers because they sold out the instant they reached Fort Bragg, and the reason they'd repeatedly sold out was because Fort Bragg people had never known any of the details of that outrageous (and unpunished) series of felony events. (Bad things happen when the media don't do their jobs, a fact confirmed daily by events everywhere in this country and abroad, and too often here in Mendocino County.)

CO-AUTHORS ROANNE WITHERS and Mark Heimann and I had been invited to Fort Bragg's Town Hall to discuss the fire stories. Then-DA Norm Vroman advised me, “I'd take a gun, if I were you,” which seemed to me rather hysterical considered as advice, and I went without a gun, but I did have a tough guy friend of mine in the audience just in case it got rough. Except for an unhinged couple of shrieking denials from Barbara Durigan, the overflow crowd was more sedate than many I've encountered, and we all enjoyed a learning experience.

MS. DURIGAN, Mendocino Woman of the Year as celebrated (natch) on KZYX, and later investigated herself for financial improprieties with non-profit funds, was the ex-wife of Pete Durigan, a convicted corpse robber out of San Mateo who'd relocated to Fort Bragg where he set himself up as a late night janitorial service. In 1987, Durigan functioned as logistics man for the big boys orchestrating the infamous fires. Durigan delivered cocaine, cash and cans of gasoline to the young guys who set the fires for the big boys. The big boys were cocaine distributors and insurance scam arsonists, not to mention the bribes one of them paid the Fort Bragg City Council in return for carte blanche development giveaways. There are Coast people now in their 50s and 60s who are still afraid of those characters, but to me, the biggest crime was committed by the DA of this county, Susan Massini, who refused to prosecute the '87 Fires case. The Durigan interlude was one of many before and since confirming my theory that Mendocino County is largely inhabited by amnesiacs in a unique makeover sanctuary where you are whatever you say you are, no questions asked, and history starts all over again every day.

AS A LETTER WRITER reminded us last week, in any round-up of unsolved Mendocino County murders, those of Charles ‘Buzzy’ Mitchell, 66, and his son Nolan Mitchell, 34, must be included. Mitchell Sr. was bludgeoned to death outside his home on Orr Springs Road (Ukiah). Mitchell had been a candidate for a seat on the Coyote Valley Tribal Council. There was talk at the time that his 2004 murder was related to the intense tribal political infighting prevalent at the time. Nolan Mitchel was apparently unaware that his father was being beaten to death only a few yards from where Nolan was subsequently shot to death as he slept inside the home he shared with his father.

ALSO UNSOLVED is the case of Jergun Knemeyer, 57, of Willits. Knemeyer was found beaten to death in his home on Aug. 8, 1999. Miller said police believe Knemeyer, whose remains were not found until several days after he was killed, had been growing marijuana. The Sheriff's Department has assumed his death was related to his enterprise, as the following from the Sheriff's website makes clear:

“ON AUGUST 14, 1999 at 12:30pm a deputy from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office was dispatched to Jergun Knemyer's Willits home on Hill Top Road on a welfare check. A neighbor had reported seeing the back door to Jergun Knemeyer's home open with the interior lights being on since 3am. Upon entering the residence, the Deputy located Jergun Knemeyer deceased from injuries obviously associated with a homicide. During investigations detectives learned a family member had last spoken with Jergun Knemeyer on August 12, 1999 at 9:30pm. At this time it is unclear the motive for the homicide but growing marijuana was located at Jergun Knemeyer's home during the processing of the crime scene. “

COMMENT OF THE DAY “The Fed, the US Government, and the less-completely-fucked Wall Street powers like Goldman and Barclays and Citigroup absolutely did conspire to seize AIG and then use a monstrous mixture of AIG's assets and public money to keep themselves alive. In essence, AIG was the helpless fat guy in the lifeboat who got eaten when the rest of the survivors ran out of food.” — Matt Taibbi

ON JANUARY 11, 2013 at 1735 hours a Mendocino County Deputy Sheriff was dispatched to the Mendocino Coast District Hospital to investigate a potential domestic violence incident. Upon arrival the Deputy contacted the potential victim and witness to the incident that reportedly happened approximately two hours earlier at a residence located on Nameless Lane in Fort Bragg. During the interviews the Deputy learned suspect Lemuel Lee Verner and the victim were involved in a romantic dating relationship. The Deputy learned the victim had sustained substantial injuries during the incident that required medical treatment. Based upon the information collected the deputy established probable cause to believe Verner had caused the victim's injuries. Deputies responded to the couple's residence in an attempt to locate Verner and arrest him for domestic violence battery and for inflicting serious injury upon the victim. When the deputies arrived at the residence they were unable to locate Verner and a Stop & Arrest BOLO (Be On the Look Out) was issued as a result. On January 12, 2013 at approximately 8am deputies returned to the residence again in an attempt to locate Verner to no avail. On January 12, 2013 at 12:05pm deputies received information that Verner was at the residence and the deputies began to respond with the assistance of officers from the California Highway Patrol (CHP). Upon the deputies’ arrival it was discovered Verner had left the residence in a white 2012 Ford Focus. The Deputies and CHP officers began a search of the area and located Verner driving on Ward Avenue. A Deputy attempted a traffic stop of the vehicle but Verner sped northbound onto North Highway 1 in an attempt to elude the deputy. Deputies and CHP officers pursued Verner, who at times reached speeds between 80-100mph, while driving recklessly. At approximately Mile Post Marker 85 on North Highway 1 the pursuit was relinquished solely to the control of the CHP officers. During the pursuit CHP officers were able to deploy a spike strip, which ultimately disabled Verner's vehicle near Mile Post Marker 101.5 near the town of Leggett. Once the vehicle was disabled Verner fled on foot and CHP officers gave chase. Shortly thereafter the CHP Officers captured Verner and turned him over to deputies who arrested him on charges of domestic violence, battery and evading a police officer. Verner was transported to the Mendocino County Jail where he was booked and held in lieu of $750,000 bail.

ON TUESDAY ABOUT 9AM, Fort Bragg Police learned a young black bear was wandering around the neighborhood near Coast Hospital, not far from the Noyo River and the forests beyond. The bear climbed a tree, climbed down the tree, looked around and casually walked east into the woods and disappeared.

DURAND EVAN knows the bear: “Reported this morning by visitor to River Garden Apartments. Yesterday morning a Black Bear was observed. The hungry bear being near the Emergency Room of the Mendocino Coast Hospital. The bear continues to be hungry and remains in the River Garden Apartments area and is active in the Noyo River Drainage Complex Indigenous Territorial area. Not long ago 'Black Tail,' the local mountain lion, was observed near the garbage containers of River Garden Apartments complex. Persons should be made aware that bears may be scavenging so extra care is warranted. It is advised when taking garbage out to local trash containers humans should be on alert. Residents at River Garden Apartments should be made aware that children are now in high risk if they take trash out at night when bears and other predators are active in the area. Homeless persons and wild mushroom collectors are in serious competitive survival jeopardy. Hungry territorially displaced bears will attack and will kill.”

ON THE ROAD WITH CRAIG STEHR: “Good morning AVAistas! Awoke at 5:30am in the Berkeley men's shelter, ate breakfast/did a chore/went to Trinity Methodist church's dining room to assist at the Berkeley Catholic Worker free breakfast where I'm an 'alternate,' after rotating out of the group following 22 years of involvement. After serving, I went to Berkeley Primary Care for my acupuncture treatment (quit smoking recently, am now receiving acupuncture treatment for general health-well being), then walked to the Berkeley Public Library to check email messages. Later on, will go to the Graduate Theological Union Library and read spiritual writings of fully enlightened/Self realized jnana bhakti yogis such as Ramana Maharshi, Swami Krishnananda, Nisargadatta Maharaj, and so on. At 5pm I go to Eudemonia (computer games/internet) to recheck email. I might drop by a couple of bookstores to browse, and then it's back to the men's shelter before 6:30pm, hot shower, dinner at 7pm,wakeup at 5:30am. I have deleted Facebook, closed my Yahoo and two other email accounts, and made it clear to everybody whom I know worldwide that I am basically available, since I am doing nothing socio-politically at this time, and furthermore, tell all that I am no longer identifying with the body-mind complex, since I am in fact the immortal Atman. Please feel free to keep our relationship aflame, Craig Louis Stehr 11:37AM, Wednesday January 16th, 2013 Anno Domini, Berkeley, California USA”

SPEAKING at a grand photo op featuring rehearsed children who said things like, “I don't want to be machine-gunned,” President Obama announced Wednesday a series of gun-control measures that include background checks on all gun buyers, a renewed ban on “military-style” assault weapons and a 10-round limit on ammunition magazines. Obama's announcement came as the National Rifle Association was meeting in Las Vegas to fondle guns and announce to the media they were gearing up for the “fight of the century” to keep gun laws unchanged. Obama said he expected his proposals would be stoutly resisted by the gun lobby and their representatives in Congress. The President's proposals include:

• Require criminal background checks for all gun sales. (aka, closing the “gun show loophole.”)

• Reinstate and strengthen the assault weapons ban.

• Restore the 10 round limit on ammunition magazines.

• Protect police by finishing the job of getting rid of armor piercing bullets.

• Give law enforcement additional tools to prevent and prosecute gun crime.

• End the freeze on gun violence research.

• Make our schools safer with more school resource officers and school counselors, safer climates, and better emergency response plans.

• Help ensure that young people get the mental health treatment they need.

• Ensure health insurance plans cover mental health benefits.

GUN AND AMMO sales immediately went up everywhere in the country, including sales up and down the Northcoast. A gun guy tells me that sales of on-line ammo is backed-up 4-6 weeks, banana clips longer.

THE HEADLINE on the front page of Thursday's Ukiah Daily Journal announced (again) that Bruce Richard, Mendocino Transit Authority boss, has retired after 31 years of “service.” Which should read, “service to himself.” Richard was paid about a hundred grand a year for better than three decades to run a few heavily subsidized buses around Mendocino County. Mastin and his captive board of directors stoutly opposed the private individuals who occasionally tried to start up their own intra-county transportation businesses. Just before his “service” ended, which was described by MTA trustee Jim Mastin in a string of superlatives that would have embarrassed Mussolini, Richard stuck MTA with a huge bill for moving a bunch of contaminated earth around. That fiasco is still being sorted out.

IN A PRESS RELEASE written by the interchangeable Mastin/Richard, Richard puckers up to say, “No one would stay 31 years on a job without a progressive, intelligent board of directors and 60 other employees who are professional and care about our passengers and the work we do here.”

TRANSLATION: “If I hadn't stuffed my phony board of directors with nuzzlebums like Mastin and Shoemaker, I never would have gotten over on you saps for thirty years. Now that I'm gone, look for them to hire me as a consultant.” Richard's final tribute to himself also claimed that some 77,000 people rode MTA buses last year. Maybe they did, but for each rider it took about $10 in grants (aka tax money) to get them where they were going at, of course, inconvenient hours.

MEANWHILE, at the even grander scam known as the Mendocino County Office of Education, Mendocino County's lead educator, Paul Tichinin, said he was going to have to lay off some low level people, not mentioning that he was giving his fave administrators, raises.

TIME FOR OUR semi-annual assessment of the Mendocino County of Office of Education. Ready? Go! MCOE does not do one thing that the individual school districts of Mendocino County could not do as well and a lot cheaper.

CARLOS RABANO, 41, tribal police chief in Covelo, was booked into the Mendocino County Jail late last week on charges of inflicting corporal injury on a spouse. He spent the night in jail before posting $50,000 bail. An anonymous tip to the Sheriff's Department had reported that Rabano and his wife were involved in a dispute at their Covelo home on January 9th, during which allegedly Rabano kicked his wife in the shin several times and grabbed her by the hair when she tried to leave with the couple's 10-year-old son. Rabano is then alleged to have followed his wife in Ukiah with an apparent intent to persuade her not to pursue a complaint against him.

REEL SHORT MOVIE REVIEW. Zero Dark Thirty. The Chron's ineffable movie reviewer, Mick LaSalle, says it's “one of the best films of 2012.” I'd say it's one of the worst but, in its way, revelatory, in its unintentional depiction of our government as depraved and stupid, a fact of American life many of us adjusted to years ago. Zero supposedly tells the story of the CIA agent who locates Osama Bin Laden so the militarized version of the Stanford football team can finish him off. The CIA agent is a beautiful woman, natch, because this is a movie, and the movie's sub-theme is contempo-feminist, i.e., women can be as cruelly brutal as men, another fact of life unlikely to surprise anyone over the age of 12. Bin Laden and lots of other fanatics have been “neutralized” because the beautiful redhead and the Ivy League grad students who comprise the CIA have tortured their whereabouts out of their gofers at secret torture centers in places like Poland and Egypt, not to mention Afghanistan. The movie's torture scenes are advertised as depictions of the real deal and, as some reviewers have described them, “excruciating.” The real deal, we can be sure, does not resemble the Frisco sex dungeons we get here. The Ivy League CIA man doing the torturing throws out a lot of “dudes” and “bros” as he hoists his captive with ropes and pulleys while the beautiful redhead looks on and occasionally winces. (She's a girl, you see, and it takes girls a little longer to adjust to psychos torturing other psychos to win the jive War On Terror, just expanded this week to include Mali and Algeria.) There are lots of explosions and Bruce Willis-type special effects — in fact that moron's latest movie was prominent among the talent-free previews before Zero Dark Thirty began. I expect this fascist epic will get a lot of Academy Awards, and looked at objectively, it really is terrifying.

IS ARGO A GOOD MOVIE? No. Is it watchable? Kind of, but that's setting the bar pretty low. Mick LaSalle at the Chron loved it, and he's a reliable guide to bad movies. If LaSalle likes it it's probably bad but it's also probably watchable, entertaining enough without you storming out of the theater to demand your money back. Which is still a low standard. All these movies come with an imperial assumption, which is that our imperialism, unlike British, French, Chinese, and other imperialisms, is somehow good imperialism, benign imperialism, so benign it isn't even imperialism, it's helping others. If you think taking the natural resources of other countries by force has been good for America you probably are predisposed to enjoy movies like Argo and Zero Dark Thirty. You would have believed that we weren't in Iran and the Middle East for their oil, we're there to liberate the poor bastards from the burkah-brains.

I KNOW AN IRANIAN car mechanic in San Francisco, an older man, who I asked once where he was from. I suspected he was from either there or Iraq from his accent. “Persia,” he said. I asked him if he'd been a Mossedegh man. He wouldn't say, so I assumed he'd left Iran with the fall of the Shah. He did say, “The problem with Iran is too many stupid people.” I said his adopted country had the same problem, and we laughed and left it there. Mossedegh, some of you will know, was a democratically elected secular nationalist who nationalized Iran's oil and was duly overthrown by the CIA acting in concert with the British who replaced him with the representative of the ancient Kingdom of the True Aryans or some bullshit like that who set up a murderous police state which was eventually overthrown by the ayatollahs. The forces of the Anti-Modern took American hostages in the 1979 — the Carter interim — when a mob successfully stormed our embassy. This all happened in the Carter years. Argo's the story of a successful joint CIA-Canadian operation to smuggle six embassy people out of Iran. I haven't spoiled the movie for you because most people know the story. Check that: Most people used to know the story. You really can't assume what people know anymore, and there are no honest move critics writing in the English language.

ONCE UPON A TIME there was serious movie criticism. There was Pauline Kael. There was Dwight Macdonald. There was even Andrew Sarris if you were a highbrow clear up on top of your head.

A READER WRITES: “Mick LaSalle has been reviewing movies in the Chronicle forever and clearly knows which side his bread is buttered on. Do you think there is 'objective' film criticism? LaSalle surely knows Jessica Chastain is a Mill Valley girl and would not fail to root for the home team. I've heard there's a TV series called Homeland, which glorifies the post-9/11 military-industrial state every week. The entertainment industry also knows where its bread is buttered.

SO, DID HE JUMP OR WAS HE PUSHED? (He was pushed.) The following passo-aggresso press release, a minor masterpiece of the genre, came from the Willits City Council: “The Willits City Council announces the departure of Paul Cayler, city manager since 2008. Mr. Cayler joined the City of Willits at a challenging time in its history. The 'Great Recession' was approaching its peak. City revenues and expenditures were out of balance. Additionally, the City was in the midst of a number of significant capital improvement projects that required renewed focus and leadership. Throughout this period, Mr. Cayler was able to handle a multitude of complex matters with competency and skill while demonstrating the highest ethical standards and honesty. The Willits City Council has chosen to pursue a different direction with regard to the City Manager position. Enacting the separation agreement outlined in the City Manager's contract, the Council will appoint an interim City Manager to facilitate the transition of leadership. Paul Cayler can be proud of his accomplishments at the City of Willits and the Council thanks him for his service to this community. For further information, contact Mayor Holly Madrigal at or (707) 459-0447 .

MS. MADRIGAL subsequently confirmed that Cayler was fired. The Nice People can never just say they've fired someone because that wouldn't be nice, so they come up with phony praise for a guy they're getting rid of for no reason they can articulate. But the Nice People are smart enough to know that if they did try to articulate the reasons we'd all see how purely Not Nice they really are.

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.”

SHERIFF ALLMAN’s long-serving budget manager, Norm Thurston, has left to take a position at the County’s Probation Department. No reason or explanation has been provided for Thurston’s transfer. Thurston capably steered the Sheriff’s financial ship through troubled waters and his departure not only means the loss of a good bit of capability and experience, but will make the Sheriff’s always precarious budget that much more difficult to navigate for both insiders and outsiders. Thurston's position remains open and we have not heard of any plans to fill it in the short term.

INTERESTING PIECE on Tule elk by Linda Williams in a recent issue of the Willits News. Hunted to the very brink of extinction, and only saved from total extinction by a Los Banos rancher who harbored mating pairs in the late 19th century, the impressively large beasts are thriving in the Sherwood Valley west of Willits, and are also doing well in Potter Valley, Covelo, and Laytonville. There's also a herd in the Sinkyone, as I discovered the last time I hiked through there with my late friend Alexander Cockburn. We had to pause on the trail for nearly an hour before an irritable bull elk moved out of the way. If I'm not mistaken, wild turkeys were introduced, or re-introduced, in the early 1970s. They're everywhere now, but as large as Mendocino County is there aren't many areas large enough to contain too many more Tule elk, but long may they thrive.

THE MENDOCINO COUNTY Republican Central Committee will meet Saturday, January 26, 2013, 10am-Noon at the Henny Penny Restaurant, 697 S. Orchard Ave (corner of Gobbi), Ukiah. For further information contact: Stan Anderson, 707-321-2592. (Note that ol' Stan and the three or so active Republicans in Mendocino County advertise their meetings, the Democrats don't.)

AS I FAITHFULLY typed in Stan's notice with the comment that at least the Republicans advertise their meetings. The Major commented, “Well, that's because the Democrats want to drink their white wine without being pestered by crazy people; the Republicans advertise their meetings because no one will show up anyway.”

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.) 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.

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