Off The Record

by AVA News Service, June 20, 2013

IN THE GRAND TRADITION of imperial fraud, American style, Obama will provide weapons to the Syrian rebels, many of whom are Taliban-oriented fanatics. Within our lifetimes, we've had the Gulf of Tonkin pretext to kick off the failed war on Vietnam; conjured weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that destroyed that society and helped bankrupt US, leaving Iraq in a permanent state of civil war; a war on Afghanistan that will return that country to the Taliban and warlords the instant we withdraw; and now we have the bogus pretext of chemical warfare to obligate US for years to people who hate US. Meanwhile, here at home, social chaos and an onrushing, full-on economic depression.

SHERIFF’S PRESS RELEASE: On Tuesday June 11, the Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force arrived at property located in the 20000 block of Tomki Road, Willits, to bust a large-scale marijuana grow. The Mendon Task Force was reinforced by the County of Mendocino Marijuana Eradication Team, California Department of Fish & Wildlife, California Highway Patrol Aviation Division, and the Mendocino County Probation Department.”

THAT A SMALL ARMY had descended on the enterprise suggests that the forces of law and order felt they were dealing with some dangerous hombres. “Upon arrival a Mendocino County Deputy Sheriff, a California Department of Fish & Wildlife Warden and a Mendocino County Probation Officer, encountered a suspect, described as an Hispanic adult male dressed in camouflage clothing. The suspect fled on foot into the property’s heavily wooded terrain and failed to comply with verbal commands to surrender. The three listed law enforcement personnel began a search for the suspect who appeared to be unarmed. During the search the suspect emerged from an area of bush approximately 30-40 yards from the Deputy Sheriff. He was armed with a handgun and immediately shot at the Deputy Sheriff, possibly multiple times. The Deputy Sheriff shot back at the suspect who then fled off into the heavily wooded terrain. After several hours of searching the suspect was not located and the search was suspended due to safety concerns.”

COUPLA THINGS HERE: The press release also said, “The Deputy Sheriff has been placed on paid administrative at this time.” Why? He didn't shoot anybody and he wasn't shot. We pay cops to go home for a couple of weeks because someone takes a shot at them? These guys don't know it's a dangerous job when they sign on?

AND, “POSSIBLY MULTIPLE TIMES"? Did the camo-Mex shoot at the deputy more than once or didn't he?

THREE: Did the raid team find any dope?

THE SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT is investigating another love drug homicide off deep Spyrock Road north of Laytonville. MCSO spokesman Capt. Greg Van Patten said Monday he could give no further details, but he was certain that the person was not Erik S. Lambert, a Southern California man reported missing last month and whose car was found abandoned west of Willits on Sherwood Road. Van Patten's certainty that the Spy Rock corpse was not the missing Lamberg has been confirmed with the news that the Spy Rock shooting victim is an “adult Hispanic male.” (Attention Sheriff's Department: It's ok to say adult Mexican male. Mexicans are the only Hispanics in the county.) The Spy Rock Mexican had been shot to death. He was found in a field of partially harvested marijuana with a couple of greenhouse grows nearby.

THE WILLITS POLICE have determined that the razor-in-the-burger was indeed a razor in the burger, but had fallen there accidentally. Two inch blades are used to clean the grill, and substitute blades are stored above it. The razor-burger's purchaser was not injured. Mendocino County's hard-hitting Health Department has advised the franchise to store the blades away from the grill.

HANK SIMS on Razor Burgers: To many Humboldtians Willits is predominantly a place where a brief, internal “taco or burger” debate is waged as part of a trip down the 101 to catch a more dependable flight. Well, perhaps you should watch the following impressively thorough news report courtesy of Nick Monacelli of Sacramento’s ABC News 10 — a rising star if ever there was one. It may influence your future decisions. It seems, sometimes, Willits’ fast food restaurants let razorblades slip into their hamburgers. Specifically, between the cheese and the meat. Read this story by Nick Monacelli of KXTV out of Sacramento about 46-year-old Yolanda Orozco’s chilling tale and then ask yourself this question: If we don’t build that Willits Bypass, am I next?

* * *

Willits, California — A local woman bit into her Burger King hamburger and found a razor blade.

On June 2, relatives of 46-year-old Yolanda Orozco went to the Burger King in Willits and ordered a few hamburgers.

“I bit off of it, I checked for onions and then I saw a razor blade in there,” said Orozco.

Fortunately, she didn't take a big bite.

“I was in shock. I was just looking at it. Somebody at Burger King was careless,” she said.

Officer Mark McNelley with the Willits Police Department took the call.

“To be honest with you, I thought it was going to be a hoax,” he said.

The razor blade was the kind that can be bought at almost any hardware store. It had a single edge and “009-RD” etched into the side.

Orozco said the blade was hidden between the burger meat and the cheese.

McNelley and his partner spent six hours investigating, trying to determine who was malicious enough to intentionally place the razor on the burger.

However, they soon discovered there was no criminal wrongdoing, that no one intentionally did this. Rather, the officers determined it was an accident that could have easily been prevented.

That night, Burger King employees took the officers on a tour of the restaurant.

“And that's when we saw the disconcerting sign of three other razor blades in close proximity to food,” McNelley said.

In such close proximity, one blade apparently fell onto Orozco's burger.

According to the police report, employees told officers they use the razor blades for cleaning purposes. McNelley found them above the condiment area, on the counter in front of and even above the burger warming trays.

“I was definitely surprised. I didn't expect to see that,” McNelley said.

Because no one broke any laws, the Willits Police Department has closed its investigation, but the Mendocino County Department of Environmental Health has stepped in.

Inspectors are mandating better training and a better system to track and store the blades.

Orozco said management from the restaurant has contacted her.

“They've called me and offered to see what I need. But right now, I'm just really paranoid,” Orozco said.

The Burger King Corporation issued a statement, reading:

Food safety is a top priority for BURGER KING® restaurants globally. Burger King Corp. has strict food handling and guest policies and procedures in place that all crew members are required to follow. Franchisees are responsible for implementing these policies and emphasize the proper food safety procedures to all crew members. The franchisee, who independently owns and operates this restaurant, is fully cooperating with the Willits Police Department.

Burger King's media relations department did not respond when asked if using razor blades to clean was an accepted practice at its restaurants.

CONGRESSMAN HUFFMAN’S LATEST STUNT: Your Congressman Will Limit Himself to $4.50 Per Day For Food — for a Week.

Atta, Huff! Press release from the office of Jared Huffman:

Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) will take the SNAP Challenge next week, limiting himself to $4.50 per day for food, the average daily benefit for a recipient of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as “food stamps.” This coincides with consideration of the House Farm Bill, authored by Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) which cuts $20 billion from SNAP. This bill will eliminate food assistance to nearly two million low-income Americans, and shuts 210,000 children out of free or reduced-cost school meals. Huffman will participate in the SNAP challenge for five days, starting Monday, June 17 and will keep a record on Twitter and Facebook. SNAP is a lifeline for millions of Americans families who cannot afford to eat without this modest assistance. That’s why the proposal by House Republican Leadership to slash funding for SNAP is so unconscionable,” Congressman Huffman said. “We need Congress to understand what these cruel austerity measures mean on a personal level rather than a generic statistical sample, which is why I’m taking the SNAP Challenge next week and learning what it means to live off of the average SNAP recipient’s $4.50 a day.” 47 million, or one in seven Americans, receives SNAP benefits. Nearly 75% of SNAP recipients are families with children, and more than a quarter of SNAP recipients are households with seniors or people with disabilities. Under the House Farm Bill, 850,000 households would lose an average of $90—nearly a full week’s worth of groceries—per month. A provision in the bill would cause many working households to lose all their SNAP benefits merely because they own a car. For many families on the North Coast, a car isn’t a luxury—it’s a necessity for families who commute to work. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, nearly 95 percent of federal SNAP spending goes directly to families to buy food. The remaining funding goes toward administrative costs, including reviews to determine that applicants are eligible, monitoring of retailers that accept SNAP, and anti-fraud activities. — Andrew Goff , LostCoastOutpost.com)

THIRTY-EIGHT POETS, with other friends of the lively word, participated in the 38th Anniversary marathon Mendocino Spring Poetry Celebration at the Hill House — the ninth annual revival of this event, commemorating earlier readings in Mendocino town, as well as early activity in the ongoing poetry communities of Point Arena, Ukiah, Willits, and elsewhere in the north counties. Heard were Dan Essman, Zo Abell, Theresa Whitehill, Oasis, Jay Frankston, Dan Roberts, Roberta Wertinger, Louisa Arenow, David Cesario, Steve Hellman, Jeanine Pfeiffer, Janferie Stone, Jewels Marcus, Janice Blue, Marylin Motherbear Scott, Maureen Eppstein, Scott Croghan, Joe Smith, Bill Bradd, Gordon Black, Tara Sufiana, Jacquelin Hewett, Cheri Ause, Janet DeBar, ruth weiss, Sharon Doubiago, Robert Yoder, Zida Borsich, Craig Chaffin, Michael Riedell, Linda Noel, Laura West, Ethel Mays, Mitchell Holman, Rob Haughwout, Virginia Sharkey, Debra Pollen, Sam Edwards. Bassist Richard Cooper provided music. Choice comestibles were served. The readings were held in two sessions — -one beginning at noon, the other at 6:00 PM, each with a break. Between the two sessions, participants enjoyed the town and the coastal headlands. Dan Roberts conducted the readings and recorded poems to be broadcast in coming weeks on KZYX&Z, 90.7 FM in Philo, Public Broadcasting for Mendocino County. Dan's radio show, RhythmRunningRiver, admirably combines music and poetry. It is heard from 2:00 to 4:00 PM, West Coast time, on alternate Sundays, and streams at kzyx.org. The event was produced by Gordon Black. Keep reading, keep writing!

JOHN CHAMBERLIN has died. A well-known artist and musician on the Mendocino Coast for more than forty years, Chamberlin's ingenious graphics were often featured on event posters, and he was just as well-known for his gifts as a musician.

WHAT WITH A RECENT increase in crime plus festivals, miscellaneous events, and the constant deluge of 911 calls, the three new deputies recently hired by the Sheriff's Department may help the Department cope. The new hires will likely go to the Mendocino Coast and to the always busy wilderness of the North Sector, that vast outlaw sanctuary beginning at Willits and ranging from Covelo to the east, Rockport to the west, Spy Rock and Bell Springs to the north.

TIM REDMOND has been ousted from his long-time position as the main guy at the San Francisco Bay Guardian. This isn't good news for what's left of independent journalism in San Francisco. Redmond has been an unwavering voice for The City's beleaguered working people, its renters and all the ordinary people who make The City go, a city long under the sway of big money Democrats. He's also been a strong voice for what's left of progressive political opinion generally.

THE GUARDIAN, the SF Weekly and the SF Examiner are owned by a newspaper chain whose idea of newspapering is life style fluff. As free papers they depend on advertising and legal ads. The latest in food and tattoos brings in the newspaper industry's do re mi via The City's thousands of highly paid gizmo industry trendo-groove-o's.

NEWSPAPERS in print form are on the way out anyway, pushed aside by millions of bloggers and the Gizmo-dependent young who don't read anything longer than a tweet. San Francisco is now a one-paper town, the fast-fading Chronicle, editorially captive of the forces Redmond has always resisted.

ACCORDING TO fogcityjournal.com, a guy named Todd Vogt who co-owns the San Francisco Newspaper Company which owns the Bay Guardian, “axed Redmond for refusing to cut three of six newsroom staff, according to a reliable source who did not want to be cited by name because of fear of retribution. Vogt is claiming to others within the organization that Redmond resigned, ‘which is a lie,’ the source said. Reached by phone, Redmond told FCJ, “At midnight last night I got a letter from Todd saying ‘your resignation is accepted.’ But I never submitted a resignation.” Asked why he was fired, Redmond said, “Todd and I had a significant disagreement over personnel.”

A BIG ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP is rumored to have offered $300k to the Skunk Line to repair and restore the collapsed tunnel in return for a conservation easement on the railroad right of way (or the part that's not already in conservation easement, such as the old-growth redwoods on the Willits side at the switchbacks). It’s not official yet, but apparently an offer has been made and it’s hard to imagine the railroad line would turn it down. If the deal is done, it’ll be announced soon. If it pans out it’ll be a win-win in the honest sense of the term.

A LOCAL READER advises that phone customers should be wary of switching to Verizon phone service to get the cheaper promotional rate for a relative’s or friend’s cellphone. After seven months of poor Verizon service, the local man tried to cancel and switch back to AT&T, but the fees and other added charges for switching were more than the amount saved for the cheaper cellphone/service (although the cellphone service itself was ok). “The NSA should have a field day with this,” the reader said. “I’ll bet a lot of the calls their picking up are people who are only calling because of Verizon’s lousy service.”

EXHIBIT B OF THE CONTRACTS with the Ortner Management Group and Redwood Management Company, the two companies which will provide adult mental health services for Mendocino County under the new privatization regime, describes the payments that Ortner and Redwood will get for their services. You might think that lawyers are well-paid for their “billable hours,” and you’d be right. But Ortner and Redwood take that one step further with a schedule for “billable minutes.”

ORTNER AND REDWOOD will get $2.61 per minute for “assessment/plan development/case conferencing therapy (individual, group and family)/ collateral services rehabilitation services (individual & group)”; and for “therapeutic behavioral services.” They’ll get $2.02 per minute for “case management linkage.” $3.88 per minute for “crisis intervention.” And $4.82 per minute for “medication management and support.” (Note: $2.02 per minute is about $121 per hour. $2.61 per minute is about $157 per hour. $3.88 per minute is about $233 per hour. And $4.82 per minute is about $290 per hour.)

THIS WILL BRING a whole new meaning to the phrase, “The meter is running.” At least with a taxi driver you have a decent chance of getting where you want to go, or at least knowing you’re not moving.

PS. At an average of, say, $3.00 per minute with a contract value estimated to be $6.7 million… The taxpayers would be paying Ortner for the equivalent about 18 people charging by the minute for one year. Redwood’s contract value is about $8.8 million which translates to the equivalent of almost 24 people charging by the minute.

THE CONTRACTS also call for the County to provide technical assistance training to these contract staffers, most of which is to teach the contract staff how to fill out and file their bills. You’d think that for hundreds of dollars an hour they’d be able to handle that themselves, but… There’s no indication of whether the staffers who are paid by the minute are also paid while they’re in training, but…

THE TRICKY PART OF THIS, beyond the obvious rip-off of course, is how the remainder of the County mental health staff will feel knowing their conversations with the contractor’s helping professionals who are now doing their jobs are being paid much more than they got as government employees — by the minute, much less the process leading to authorizing mentally ill people into privatized treatment programs knowing that having a helping professional talk to a mildly crazy person is going to cost hundreds of dollars for each hour of allegedly helpful conversation.

SINCE many of Mendo’s mentally ill are so-called “dual diagnosis” patients (i.e., their mental illness is intermingled with their addiction to drugs both legal and illegal), there’s a bottomless pit of clients to generate billable minutes with, whether it’s talking to the client, writing things down about the client or going to court to get the client institutionalized. Or detailing their bill down to the minute.

BILLABLE MINUTES. That may be the single biggest reason not to privatize mental health services. Reducing mental health services, some of which we’ll concede may help the client or his/her family at times, to how many billable minutes are involved in dealing with them is about as impersonal and inhumane as you can get.

ONE OF THE INTERESTING THINGS about the County’s proposed budget for next year (starting July 1, 2013) is how the $53 million of “discretionary revenue” spending breaks down. (The rest of the county’s total budget of well over $200 million is driven by specific state and federal programs and grants over which the County has essentially no control.) Of the $53 million, the Sheriff, Jail, District Attorney, Public Defender, Alternate Public Defender, “Conflict Defender,” Juvenile Hall, and Probation, aka the criminal justice system (not counting the courts) get almost $31 million, or almost 60%. The rest is spread amongst some 40 other departments including the Executive Office, Clerk of the Board and the Board of Supervisors which together cost $2 million off the top. The other departments which cost more than $1 million are: Assessor, Buildings and Grounds, Information Services, Planning and Building, Social Services Administration, CalWorks/Foster Care, and In Home Supportive Services. The County spends almost $600k on “General Relief/Assistance,” but a good chunk of that is for the staff who provide it so the actual “relief/assistance” is only a fraction of the $600k.

ASSET FORFEITURE is a subject that was frequently brought up under former District Attorney Meredith Lintott’s tenure when asset forfeiture values seemed disproportionately high. It has pretty much dropped off the public’s radar screen since DA David Eyster took office. But the program, mostly stemming from drug related arrests, continues to generate huge amounts of money for Mendocino County. In 2009 Mendo took in about $2.6 million and distributed about $2.1 million. In 2010, Mendo took in about $1.8 million and distributed about $1.9 million. In 2011, Mendo took in about $1.6 million and distributed almost $2.4 million. In 2012 Mendo took in over $2.3 million and distributed almost $1.6 million. And so far in 2013 Mendo is on pace to end up with about $2.1 million in seized cash and assets for the year. (The numbers don’t add up because apparently money is carried over from year to year and some of it is returned after criminal cases are concluded.)

STOP THE PRESSES! In a hard hitting lead story by Brett Wilkerson in Saturday's Santa Rosa Press Democrat called Wineries Court Gay Customers, Wilkerson begins, “Los Angeles couple Brian Chield and Bryan Hollingshead sat around a patio table Saturday sipping Rosso di Sonoma, a red blend from their host Petroni Vineyards, perched high over Sonoma Valley. For a warm weekend in Wine Country, the scene was hardly groundbreaking. But the pair of tasters and the half-dozen other same-sex couples with them were part of a new brand of gathering in the gay and lesbian community built around wine.”

GUESS WHAT, BRETT? This isn't news, and I defy you and your craven editors to find a single reader who it's of interest to. The Press Democrat's desperate pandering to the booze industry has managed to turn into a parody of itself.

TODD WALTON'S great novel, Inside Moves, has been re-issued by Pharos Editions, “dedicated to bringing to light out-of-print, lost, or rare books of distinction.” Inside Moves is certainly a rare book of distinction, and Pharos didn't have to beg another writer of distinction, Sherman Alexie, to write the introduction:

“THE FIRST DRAFT of this introduction was 33 pages. The second draft was 21 pages. You are reading the ninth draft. Why did I struggle to finish this intro and deliver it late to my publisher? Because I caught an elbow in the mouth playing pickup basketball, lost a front tooth, and cracked my upper mandible. Less than 12 hours after the accident I was in a dentist chair, stoned on laughing gas, as I received a human and pig bone combo graft in my face. Yes, I am part-pig now. So when I eat bacon does that make me a cannibal? After a few weeks of recovery, I began the early drafts of this intro. I wrote and wrote and wrote. The intro became a short memoir about my basketball life. It detailed my journey from clumsy grade schooler into farm town high school star to community college recruit who declined those offers and accepted academic scholarships to attend Gonzaga University where I played basketball with other hoops rodents and sometimes ran with the college team. Yes, I'm proud to say that I was able to run with a Division I college team and not completely embarrass myself. I used to be good. Not great. But good enough to play with almost anybody. But I am in decline now. Oh, I still play with former college and professional players, but I have become the old guy who hits a few shots, sets good picks, and will still hit the floor for loose balls. I'm the old guy who gets his face busted by elbows. But I'm also the old guy who ordered a field hockey goalie mask from New Zealand so I can protect my whole face as I returned to my weekly run. Yes, I'm playing ball with a still healing bone graft. I have to play. I would get so depressed without hoops that I'd feel a thousand little deaths. Todd Walton's Inside Moves is about that same kind of crazy passion for basketball. It's about that same kind of crazy passion for life. For physical and spiritual survival. I can't begin to tell you exactly how much Inside Moves means to me. It is the best novel about basketball ever written. And I'm sure you just thought, “Wait, how many novels about basketball are there?” There aren't enough, that's for sure. Most of the great sports novels are about baseball. But I think inside moves ranks with the very best sports novels ever written. To give the most basic comparison, inside moves is the Bull Durham of basketball, except with war injuries, amputees, prostitutes, radical surgery, and the lonesome, lonesome wails of hungry souls. After you read it, you'll want to play hoops with a broken jaw.” — Sherman Alexie

RECOMMENDED READING: Highly recommended. If you only read a book every few years, read this one, the clearest explanation you will get of what the hell happened to US. “The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America” by George Packer. This isn't one of those massive, foot-noted jobs; it's told along the lines of Dos Passos' epic USA Trilogy with implicating headlines and quotes from the increasingly decadent political-financial-celeb elites who've profited from the destruction of millions of Americans and the places they live. The book reads like a novel, a very good novel. There's great stuff in it, from the inside, on the looting of the system by Geithner-Paulson types and their enablers at the national level of government — mega-swine like Chris Dodd, the Clintons, dupes like Colin Powell, and major enemies of the people like Newt Gingrich and Dianne Feinstein. The mysteriously remote Obama government has, as we know, deferred to all of the above, leaving millions of us exiles in our own country, a country now overtly in the hands of the very wealthy assisted by a permanent elected class, gutted regulatory agencies, a corrupted legal system, and a sock-puppet media. The only people who come off looking pretty good are Alice Waters, Elizabeth Warren and a tiny minority of lonely souls who try to fight back. How will it end? Not well, and Not Well is accelerating in ways headed straight for major disorder and huge suffering. Packer's book confirms your worst suspicions, but it should be required reading as an accurate assessment of where we are.

COMMENT OF THE DAY: “At the heart of the matter is this. Industrialism is an entropic project. It accelerates and intensifies entropy, which is to say the drive toward disorder and death. Tradition in human societies is the great moderator of entropy. Of course nothing stays the same forever, but some of us would like to see the human project continue, and to get to place where it can feel comfortable with itself for a while, perhaps even something resembling a new (and completely unfamiliar) golden age, when the people not asleep can be trusted.” (Jim Kunstler)

RAILHEADS SEEK STILLMAN’S OUSTER FROM NCRA BOARD by Hank Sims (Courtesy, LostCoastOutpost.com)

A couple of months ago we had some fun with the news that Arcata City Councilmember Alex Stillman had managed to get herself appointed to the board of directors of the North Coast Railroad Authority, a body that has heretofore been more or less dominated by True Believers in Humboldt’s imminent return to the glory days of striped suspenders and choo-choo caps. In our write-up we channeled the voice of those who fervently dream of the train’s glorious arrival on the shores of Humboldt Bay after a decade and a half of absence, showering the land with riches untold. Hopefully we had a few yuks in the process.

Well, who’s laughing now?

At its regular meeting tomorrow night, the Eureka City Council will take up the matter of Mayor Frank Jager’s apostasy in voting for Stillman over full-bore railhead Doug Strehl, mayor of Fortuna. And someday next month, the Mayor’s City Selection Committee — a body that comprises the mayors of Humboldt County’s seven incorporated cities — will come together to decide whether or not to rescind their appointment of Stillman, and if so, who to appoint in her place.

The pressure seems to have come from attorney Bill Bertain of Eureka, who wrote an ominous letter to the Mayor’s City Selection Committee shortly after Stillman was appointed, back in May. In his letter Bertain makes the case that the selection of Stillman to occupy the NCRA board seat set aside for representatives of the incorporated cities along the old railroad line violated City Selection Committee internal procedure. Bertain charges that the committee’s governing rules and procedures require candidates for such appointments to submit their materials to staff three weeks in advance of a meeting. Neither Strehl nor Stillman did this. Therefore, Bertain says, the appointment is defunct. Unless the committee rectifies this, he hints, the committee is about to be on the nasty end of a lawsuit.

Bertain also declares Stillman ideologically unfit for the office. “By her public statements for quite some time now, Alexandra Stillman has disqualified herself from serving on the NCRA Board of Directors,” Bertain writes. “Although I understand that Alexandra Stillman has recently declared her support for passenger rail service between Eureka and Arcata, I believe she has consistently and vocally opposed to the return of freight service to Humboldt County.”

The threat was apparently enough to prompt the committee to review the matter with its lawyer and revisit the topic at a future meeting. But Marcella Clem, the executive director of the Humboldt County Association of Governments, under whose aegis meetings of the committee are held, says that her agency is completely confident that Bertain has no legal case. The three-week requirement, she told the Outpost, is not an application deadline; it says only that if candidates for a position wish to have their materials distributed to other members of the committee, then they have to get those materials to staff three weeks in advance. In fact, Clem said, any elected official could have shown up on the day of the meeting itself, back in May, and thrown their name into the hat then and there, with no advance notice at all.

So when the committee reconvenes, there will be two items on the agenda. 1). Should the committee reconsider its appointment to the NCRA? If so, and only if so: 2). Who should it appoint?

So is Stillman out? Maybe not! Back at the original meeting, Eureka Mayor Frank Jager initially supported Stehl but switched his vote to Stillman in order to break a deadlock. Only six of the seven mayors were present — Ferndale Mayor Stuart Titus was absent, for reasons unknown. Jager’s vote-switch has prompted the Eureka City Council to take up the matter at its meeting tomorrow night. The council will, in all likelihood, strongly recommend that Jager support Strehl in place of Stillman. In spite of his strong support for trails and rail skepticism —

“It just boggles my mind that people would want to tie up [a trail] section between Bracut and Eureka waiting for something to happen,” Jager told the Outpost — he indicated that he would follow the council’s pleasure.

But that would only take us back to the original 3-3 deadlock, with Arcata, Blue Lake and Trinidad voting for Stillman and Rio Dell, Fortuna and Eureka holding up the Strehl banner. The whole question then hinges on Ferndale Mayor Stuart Titus — a reasonable person in a sometimes less than reasonable town.

IN SUNDAY'S UKIAH DAILY JOURNAL, Tommy Wayne Kramer conflates hippies and “the left.” He said the hippies have stopped lots of cool progress like rural bypasses erected by those prodigies of engineering, Caltrans. A discernible left hasn't existed in this country since around 1970, and the occasional retro-hippie we sometimes see today is usually a grunge or rasta music person rather than a disoriented, long-haired beast wondering where Jerry Garcia went. I agree, and have often said, the hippie overlay discourages wider participation in resistance to this, that or the other thing. But the people leading these things around here, with the exception of the late Madam Bari, have always tended to put their jive “spirituality,” their costumes, their dope, their drum circles, their overweening piety, their totality of pure bullshit, ahead of the objective. A serious movement would move these people out of the way as the first order of business. But whatever else you might say about Judi Bari she didn't lack clarity. She got the whole amorphous mass of hippies, nut cases, left over lefties, and a whole buncha conventional people rounded up and headed in the same correct direction.

KRAMER WRITES: “Then we had Redwood Summer a bit closer to home, and yes indeed, you could go right down the checklist: Trees were climbed, plus all the usual chanting, sign-waving, yelling and singing. And, presto, the logging stopped, the lumber companies folded, thousands of jobs were lost and the joyful protesters went back home. Tremendous success!”

IN LIVING FACT, the outside timber corporations cut all the trees down real fast in the interest of short-term profit-taking, leaving the Northcoast stripped of thousands of jobs that used to enable working people to make reasonably comfortable lives for themselves. Hippies did not destroy the timber industry. L-P and G-P and Charles Hurwitz managed that, and laughed all the way to many millions of dollars.

THE REDWOOD SUMMER protests led by Bari were most successful in drawing national attention to the crimes committed against the working people and the forests of this area, but the protests didn't even slow the corporate onslaught. You could make a strong argument that the hippie factor gave the timber corporations perfect foils. The corporations could plausibly say, which they did, “Look at these dope heads. They don't even get out of bed until noon. You want them or do you want us?” That's what Big Timber put out there and it resonated with much of the public.

WHEN BARI was car bombed by her ex-husband before Redwood Summer even got going, Bari herself became the object of “the movement,” the only movement in the history of movements to move steadily backwards. Loggers were caught between people who didn't have to work, aka Bari and the hippie brigades, as Tommy Wayne would have it, and the timber corporations. The loggers lost. They had no viable allies.

I DON'T THINK the hippie factor discouraged mass turnout for the Willits protests. It never helps, of course, but I think most Willits-area people still haven't grasped how dumb and expensive the Bypass is. No off and on ramps at Highway 20? Duh. When construction really gets going they'll belatedly get it, but it will be too late. Unfortunately, the “hippies” were tardy getting into the trees on this one. But they're right, just as the hippies of 1990 were right about the timber corporations.

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