Off The Record

by AVA News Service, July 24, 2013

WILL PARRISH is being charged with 16 misdemeanors. His maximum jail sentence is eight years. Get guidance on writing to DA Eyster in support of this most admirable young man by clicking on the link below. Local attorney Omar Figueroa is representing Will pro-bono. DA Eyster had charged Will with three identical infractions, meaning Will would be ineligible for a jury trial where he could argue his case to other members of the public. Supporters suspect this move was aimed to exclude such a trial. Will intends to take the case to jury and, for that reason, was looking for the charges to be elevated to misdemeanors. The judge stated that he wasn’t aware of any statutes allowing this to occur, but defense attorney Omar Figueroa was ready with case law supporting Will’s right to a jury trial. Eyster, who seems to be taking a personal interest in the case, said that he had already found charges that would be mutually agreeable. Then Eyster said that he would be filing different charges now that they need to be misdemeanors. More than simply re-filing the case charging Will with misdemeanors, Eyster decided to throw the book at the locally well-known journalist and activist —16 misdemeanors, which include a separate charge of “Unlawful Entry” for every day he was on the wick drain derrick, meaning a potential maximum sentence of eight years. Will opted to maintain his right to a speedy trial, meaning as of now there will be a quick turnaround in the case. Will’s Court Schedule: July 24th, Pre-trial conference; Aug 1st, “Motion in limine”; Aug 5th, Jury trial begins at 9am. (The trial date, we understand has been put over until September.) Stay tuned.

THE FRIENDS AND FAMILY of Ukiah resident Susan Keegan, whose death has been declared a homicide, will launch a website on July 23, 2013, honoring what should have been Susan's 58th birthday. On the morning of November 11, 2010, Susan Keegan was reported dead in her Ukiah, California home by her husband, Peter Keegan, MD. Dr. Keegan – Harvard undergraduate, UC San Francisco medical school – claimed Susan abused drugs and alcohol and speculated that her death was either an accident or a suicide. Dozens of friends and family members told the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department something very different – that Susan was a healthy and vigorous writer, artist, and community activist and a pillar of the Ukiah community in the midst of an acrimonious divorce. The day before Susan’s death, Dr. Keegan was reported to have “gone ballistic” in the office of their divorce mediator. The Sheriff’s office mishandled the early investigation and autopsy and released the body to Dr. Keegan, who immediately had his estranged wife cremated. Newly elected District Attorney David Eyster stepped in soon after and reopened the inquiry. Two search warrants have been executed on the Keegan home and in August 2012, Mendocino County officials amended the death certificate, citing “homicide” as the cause of Susan’s death. Law enforcement authorities say “there is a person of interest” in the case, but there has been no arrest and no prosecution. With the third anniversary of Susan Keegan’s death only a few months away, the Justice4Susan Committee wants answers. The web site provides details about the Keegan homicide, links to media stories, and offers opportunities for people to Stand up for Susan. About the Justice4Susan Committee: We are personal friends and family members who knew both Susan Keegan and Dr. Peter Keegan well, and loved them both. Immediately after Susan’s death, each of us independently contacted the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office to share our suspicions about the nature of her death. In time, we found one another and agreed that we had an obligation to Susan to seek the truth from the Mendocino County law enforcement community. Justice is our only goal.

Contact the Justice4Susan Committee: Justice4SusanKeegan@gmail.com

ON THE MORNING of November 11, 2010, Susan Keegan, age 55, was reported dead in her Ukiah, California home by her husband, Peter Keegan, MD. Her death certificate identifies cause of death as HOMICIDE. There is one suspect in the case, but no one has been prosecuted. Family, friends and the taxpayers of Mendocino County are waiting for justice.

How long will the wait continue? Susan’s friends and family began pleading with the law enforcement community of Mendocino County to investigate her death from the moment it was announced. Those pleas continue to this day.

Her husband’s claim that this vibrant, healthy woman could have been sufficiently intoxicated to fall and hit her head seemed far-fetched. In the weeks before she died, some in the Ukiah community had received odd phone calls and unannounced visits from Dr. Keegan claiming Susan had become an addict. They knew it was untrue.

The law enforcement authorities eventually agreed. In August 2012, almost two years after her death, they amended her death certificate to call the death a homicide.

THOSE CLOSE to Susan told the authorities:

• “In all the years I knew Susan, I never saw her stumble or lose control. She was a sure-footed, strong and confident woman. She did not rush or act irrationally. She was intelligent, capable and careful…. I urge you to press for an investigation into this matter.”

• “Moderation was part of Susan’s character. She was clear-headed, rational, organized and very responsible… I am hoping that sufficient care, time and resources will be put into determining the cause of Susan’s death… It is easiest to deal with the truth, whatever it turns out to be.”

• “I feel that I know her well and that she was an exceptionally grounded, principled, and clear-headed person….”

• Susan and I were in especially close touch during this difficult period … I have firsthand knowledge of how she was spending her time, and what her emotional state of mind was. She was sad, but very forward-looking, and most certainly in full intellectual and emotional control. “

• “Nothing will bring Susan back. But painstaking investigation and vigorous prosecution are not only the duties of your office; they will also be a fitting tribute to our late friend.”

(For a complete summary of the case and related documents go to http://justice4susan.com/)

THIS JUST IN. The Mateel Community Center, Garberville-Redway, has decided not to use ammonium sulfate to green up the grass at their Eel River venue for the forthcoming Reggae on the River. An alert AVA guy spotted a whole load of it addressed to the Mateel at Friedman Bros, Ukiah. He told us, we posted the news on our website and presto! magico! the Mateel sent the poison back to Ukiah.

AN EXTREMLY WACKY story in Sunday's Chron that there's a high incidence of obesity in Mendocino County because we don't have access to healthy food. The human focus of the piece was a couple of sedentary pudges who live in Gualala. In living fact, it's harder to eat bad in Mendocino County than lots of places in this fine, fat land of ours. But Gualala people are especially annoyed that the story somehow managed to overlook the town's two supermarkets, one more upscale than the other, but both offering a wide variety of healthy and organic foods. There's also a weekly Farmer's Market, an organic health food store in Anchor Bay, two Food Banks, one in Gualala and one in Point Arena, and several healthy eating places and grocery outlets in Point Arena. Not a fast food restaurant anywhere on the Mendo coast until you get all the way to Fort Bragg where there's a McDonald's, and the only reason it's there is for the people who drive up from Modesto to get out of the summer heat. A few years ago "Men's Health" magazine named Gualala the healthiest place in the country. No exaggeration: You've got to search out bad food in Mendocino County.

THERE ARE PEOPLE who say our Man Beater feature is "sexist," which is one more reason for doing it, not that we approve of sexism however it's defined. Anytime you can annoy the purveyors of smelly little orthodoxies, as the poet described for all time the commissar mentality. Sexism, racism, ageism and on and on is defined so broadly the terms have lost much of their meaning. Anyhoo, as previously stated, we do it because we think a lot of these arrests are ridiculous and, locally, a kind of scam because the women arrested are then court-ordered into "anger management" classes whose simpleminded lessons the women (and men) ordered to attend them have to pay for. And manage to get to them even though they have to travel long distances to get to them. The problem of men beating women is a much larger problem, as we know. If it were up to me, every guy arrested for hitting a woman (or a child) would be court-ordered as a live tackling dummy for the Mendo College football team. Finally, we'd bet that in most of these cases the woman was sorely provoked, not that verbal provocation is an excuse for smacking Sir Galahad one.

MANBEATER OFF THE WEEK: Ms. Jessica Pokriots, 25, of Ukiah. I guess you'd have to call this one a tweener. Ms. Pokriots, this flower of the Peloponnese, is accused of biting "her boy friend on the cheek." She apparently did it in a way that could not be described as affectionate, and off she went to the County Jail.

We won't know what Lover Man said or did to launch Ms. P into attack mode, but dollars to donuts he started it.

ANOTHER REASON not to shop at Walgreens. The Starbucks of drug stores is refusing to sell the current edition of Rolling Stone because it has a picture of crazy-boy Boston bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, on the mag's cover. A range of demagogues from Boston's mayor to rolodex faculty “experts” claim the Rolling Stone photo of Tsarnaev flatters him and insults his victims. But the photo of the killer happens to be him, what he looks like, and the article inside certainly cannot be described as flattering.

THE MAGAZINE has issued this entirely reasonable statement: “The fact that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is young, and in the same age group as many of our readers, makes it all the more important for us to examine the complexities of this issue and gain a more complete understanding of how a tragedy like this happens."

TRANSLATION: This guy is so much like the many young people who read Rolling Stone, that we wanted to try to understand how a kid who smokes dope and listens to bad music all day could go out and kill large numbers of random people.

FOR THIS Walgreen's bans the magazine?

A COUPLE of weeks ago, Susan Ilston, a Frisco-based federal judge, told the FBI it couldn't withhold information the agency had “gathered” on NorCal's Occupy movement. The G-Men claimed “privacy, security, law enforcement concerns, and that the "national security” forbade them from revealing the documents to the suing party, the ACLU.

ONE OF THE SPY DOCUMENTS, the FBI claimed, “would threaten serious damage to the national security” because it would reveal “penetration of a specific target."

THE JUDGE pointed out that the FBI hadn't explained how the national security might be damaged by these revelations.

I’LL BET THE FBI will come back with one of their black-out specials, a seemingly random pile of paper with every other word blacked out, and the judge will say, “Thank you, boys. Keep up the great work keeping US safe."

I MAKE these cynical remarks from first hand experience observing the SF federal courts in drug cases involving Mendo people and the case of my friend, Pol Brennan, an Irish nationalist. (And random other high profile events and personalities over the years.) The judges were… well, let me put it this way: if these equivocating, politically appointed yuppos are all that stand between US and a straight-up police state, get ready for a police state.

BACK A WAYS, I sent off for my own federal file. Among other laughable inaccuracies in between whole paragraphs of blacked-out misinformation, the FBI placed me on a continent where I did not happen to reside at the time. Conclusion? Not only does the FBI and, presumably, the umpty-many other tax-funded spy agencies allegedly keeping US from “harm's way,” a phrase I was tired of the second time I heard it, routinely violate what are supposed to be our guaranteed protections against this stuff, they're so incompetent that much of the information they collect is wrong.

SORRY for grabbing you by the shirt collar and shrieking at you like this, but, as most of our readers know, all of this is occurring in a context of summary global execution. The killing of alleged terrorists via drones is creating more terrorists faster than we can kill the real ones, and not only the real ones (maybe) but their wives, their children, and whoever else is unlucky to be with them when some dull-normal sitting in a recliner at an Air Force base in Omaha murders them from six thousand miles away.

RECOMMENDED READING: “A Colossal Wreck: A Road Trip Through Political Scandal, Corruption and American Culture” by Alexander Cockburn. Cockburn, a frequent visitor to Boonville, was the last of the political writers who was also a very good writer, much better than Christopher Hitchens to whom he was often compared and, unlike Hitchens, a true enemy of empire to the end. There aren't many political writers I go out of my way to read. (None, at the moment.) Today, it's all term-paper prose. Cockburn often complained to me about what bad writers many of his CounterPunch contributors were, and how much time he had to spend doing basic editing of their stuff. Cockburn was always a writer I'd read the instant I got it, a writer I always looked forward to. His prose was alive. He was alive, what used to be called an “all-outer.” He was robbed of another decade or so, but in the seven he lived he probably packed in more than ten people. He uniquely combined information with a lively and even elegant prose. And not just on politics; he was lively and interesting on a whole range of subjects. What you won't read in all the reviews of his last book is how Cockburn, the final ten years or so of his life, was non-personed by much of the left, especially the lock-step sectors at places like the Pacifica Network, the sanctified Amy Goodman and Democracy Now. The Nation cut his word count way back as it went all the way over to a spine-free Clinton-Obama-ism. They wanted him to take it easy on Democrats because, boiled down, Democrats are better than Republicans! And so on, as left media disappeared faster than the left itself. He was often scathing about the personalities of the talk show left, the people who've become rich “speaking truth to power,” in the fatuous phrase of the self-aggrandizing, and why the publisher chose to apply that turgid quote from Greg Palast to Cockburn on the book's back cover means Cockburn didn't get a look at it before he died. No way he'd have approved it. Cockburn was the real thing, a lion of opposition all his days. The would-be little Lenins hated him of course, and he mopped the floor with mainstream media figures on those occasions he was permitted to go head-to-head with one of them. He was intransigent, never gave one inch all his days, and this book conveys him perfectly.

“THE DREARIEST place on any campus is the J-school, and whenever any young person comes to me to write a testimonial for them to get into journalism school I rail bitterly at their decision, though I concede that these days a diploma from one of these feedlots for mediocrity is pretty much mandatory for anyone who wants to get into mainstream journalism.” Cockburn said that, that and many other right-on assessments of contemporary reality, never hesitating to criticize his allies. He'd call me up when I'd written some faulty something to let me know about it, which means he called me a lot, and that's what I think I admired most about him, that he never let anyone slide. Every minute with that guy was an adventure.

AN EIGHT-YEAR-OLD GIRL WAS KILLED last week when a gunman shot up a home in the Dimond area of Oakland, a neighborhood usually spared the mayhem prevalent in Oakland. Two other children, 4 and 7, and the children's grandmother suffered minor injuries. The Chron's comment line instantly filled with sarcastic remarks from white (undoubtedly) wahoos along the lines described here by a sane commenter: “We can all make the 'where are the protests now?' comments, but the sad truth is that this will not become a national news story, will not be picked up by cable channels, and will fade away with the next big atrocity. In places like Chicago, New Orleans, Camden, and yes Oakland, 'communicide' is barely newsworthy, and it's always somebody else's fault anyway. You used to be able to run to the suburbs, but they're no better these days…”

FRIENDS OF THE EEL RIVER and Californians for Alternatives to Toxics have filed an appeal challenging a Marin judge's dismissal of the groups' lawsuit against the North Coast Rail Authority. In May, a Marin County judge dismissed a two-year lawsuit aimed at stopping the North Coast Rail Authority from expanding rail operations from Napa County to Willits. The original lawsuit was filed a July 2011 when the two groups contended the NCRA should be forced to conduct an in-depth environmental review along the entire length of rail line from Napa County to Arcata before expanding rail operations along any corridor. It typically takes between 18 months and two years to resolve an appeal of this type. Freight railroad operations were restored to Windsor in 2011. Restoring rail service north of Windsor remains a matter of financing, says NCRA Executive Director Mitch Stogner. The total cost to fix the tracks to Redwood Valley was estimated at $12 million in 2012. A short term goal for the railroad is to restore the 23 miles rail between Windsor and Cloverdale. The cost for this stretch was estimated at about $5 million in 2012. The restoration would likely occur in even smaller increments. Restoring the 5.3 miles of track from Windsor to Healdsburg is estimated at $1.3 million. The 8.9 miles from Healdsburg and Geyserville, including about 90 feet of major repairs at Foss Creek, is estimated to cost $2.2 million. The 8.5 miles from Geyserville to Cloverdale is estimated at $1.5 million. Other than the area at Foss Creek the work is primarily to make track, signal and bridge repairs necessary. Typical track repairs include replacing ties, rails and leveling the track. The NCRA is seeking federal grants to help fund track restoration efforts, says Stogner.

A SONOMA COUNTY reader writes: “Come on. Doesn't anyone understand what was happening when Supervisor Efren Carrillo was caught ‘prowling’ with ‘sexual intent’ or planning some kind of burglary? Let's put on our thinking caps. Why on earth would someone be wandering around a lawn outside an apartment complex late at night? Hmmm. The answer of course is that he just left another woman's bedroom in a hurry when her husband came home. So when she heard the husband’s keys in the lock she immediately sent Carrillo out the window and kicked his shoes and pants under the bed and welcomed hubby home with open arms. Then, since Carrillo also probably knew the woman in the neighboring apartment, he knocked on her window so he could ask her to call a taxi for him. Hey! What would you do if you had left an apartment in a hurry with no shoes or pants and needed some help — discreetly. You'd probably knock on somebody's door or window hoping that they would be understanding and not ask too many questions. Clearly, that plan didn't work out and the supervisor was caught with his pants down. Of course none of that is a crime. I think they are postponing any serious hearing for at least a month while they wait for the husband to forget about when he came home and thinking, ‘Ohhhh — THAT explains why the bed was warm when I got home.’ The case would have gone ‘cold’ by then. The husband wouldn't realize what had probably happened. I assume that when Efren bailed out of jail the woman he was with called him on her cellphone and told him she had thrown his pants and shoes in a dumpster. This kind of problem is not unusual for American politicians. It goes all the way back to George Washington and Ben Franklin. For example, there is a story about how George Washington caught pneumonia when he left a woman's house without adequate clothing one time. I'm sure that somehow Supervisor Carrillo will escape this mess with the assistance of Doug Bosco, his patron, and Bosco’s newspaper, the Press Democrat, which Bosco owns a large share of. I don't know if the PD would carry an ad offering a reward for the supervisor's pants and shoes — no questions asked. But I expect that the case will be orchestrated by Bosco and high profile Sonoma County defense attorney Chris Andrian. In a way I feel sorry for Supervisor Carrillo. He was just looking for help in an awkward situation and he got arrested for stalking and attempted burglary. Sheesh!”

THE CASPAR Children’s Garden (CCG) preschool board of directors has been working since early spring on an agreement to move their program to the farmhouse located at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens (MCBG). This past week the board was unexpectedly informed that the Botanical Garden was no longer interested in renting to them. CCG has already spent over $8000 (almost half their savings) applying for a County use permit (in conjunction with the MCBG and their landlord, the Mendocino Coast Recreation & Park District) and were willing to make improvements at their own expense. With this disappointing news, the program is now in need of a new home. The preschool has 25+ years experience running a successful business serving hundreds of families; a team of experienced teachers; a large group of parents waiting to enroll their children this fall; and a storage unit packed to capacity with all the materials and furniture that belong in an early childhood program. If you know of a possible location or can contribute in any way to this urgent request for assistance, please contact the CCG director, Sandra Mix, at cg@mcn.org or 707-367-9763.

SEEMS FROM HERE the kind of dispute that can be resolved. The beef seems to center on who should do what to make the premises safe — lawsuit-safe — for the children.

COMMENT from Lost Coast Outpost that could just as well apply to whole areas of Mendocino County. Reacting to a stream diversion bust of two out-of-state growers at Willow Creek, a reader wrote: "Okay. Has anybody checked out Willow Creek lately? It's crazy. Fountain Ranch Rd all the way into town, both sides of the river down through Kimtu and more. Wide open flat fields full of weed. I correct myself- the sheriff could spend every day out there busting. This train has run away, jumped the tracks and gone over the edge...we are careening through space…and we are approaching the bottom. Expect a hard jolt of reality soon. We are about to see the over-saturated market. I'm calling $600/pound by January…foreclosures and massive property crime to follow. Hope that was fun!"

COMMUNITY ACCESS Television on the Mendocino Coast seems doomed, its end summarized this way by Howard Ennes of Fort Bragg: "This is a situation where an internecine playground squabble between factions of Footlighters, a local theatrical club, was allowed to turn into a situation where MCTV was the scapegoat. It appears that the judge was incompetent (if not biased) and very possibly had a conflict of interest. The Footlighters' lawyer is, obviously, corrupt and primarily interested in his portion of the take. Lawsuits have forced the dissolution of the 501(c3) MCTV facility. That's why I signed a petition to Fort Bragg City Council and Mendocino County Board of Supervisors. Will you sign this petition?

If so, http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/we-need-community-access?source=s.icn.em.mt&r_by=1639481"

ELIZABETH SWENSON, director of Coast TV, put it this way: “Yes, MCTV is defunct, though the dissolution will take some time and it is possible in theory that the Footlighters [who won the lawsuit] and their lawyer would drop the $44,000 judgment and agree to not press for that money. But right now MCTV has no money to pay Footlighters or to pay staff. At this point, any money we raised would go to the Footlighters. If they and their lawyer dropped the judgment, MCTV, with a lot of financial help (probably less than $50,000 to start up again), could move and set up someplace and MCTV could survive. While in theory this is possible, there is no indication that this is going to happen. If for some reason this happened, it would be a miracle I think. I believe the petition [mentioned in yesterday’s Mendocino County Today] is worth signing and it serves to see if there is support for community access and also to let local governments know Community Access (public, government, education Access) is important to this community and essentially ask them to step up and help financially to get a new non-profit to run community access. Neither I or the MCTV board are behind the petition. While I knew about it before it went up I had nothing to do with starting it.”

DEPRESSING STAT UNO: One in every four women is a victim of domestic physical violence at some point in her life, and the Justice Department estimates that three women and one man are killed by their partners every day. Between 2000 and 2006, thirty-two hundred American soldiers were killed; during that period, domestic homicide in the United States claimed ten thousand six hundred lives..... (From, A Raised Hand, by Rachel Louise Snyder)

DEPRESSING STAT DOS: In California's community college system, 85 percent of entering freshmen need remedial English, 73 percent remedial math. Only about a third of these students end up transferring to a four-year school or graduating with a community college associate's degree.

SKIP TAUBE, board president of the Caspar Children’s Garden, a successful, long-standing, and much-need daycare center for pre-schoolers, is rightly disturbed that the very existence of the center is imperiled by a uniquely highhanded, and unexpected move by the Botanical Gardens and the Mendo Coast Rec and Park District not to rent space to the pre-school. Mr. Taube explains: “The Caspar Children’s Garden (CCG) preschool board of directors has

been working since early spring on an agreement to move their program

to the farmhouse located at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens

(MCBG). This past week the board was unexpectedly informed that the

Botanical Garden was no longer interested in renting to them. CCG has

already spent over $8,000 (almost half their savings) applying for a

County use permit (in conjunction with the MCBG and their landlord, the

Mendocino Coast Recreation & Park District) and were willing to make

improvements at their own expense. With this disappointing news, the

program is now in need of a new home. The preschool has 25+ years

of experience running a successful business serving hundreds of families;

a team of experienced teachers; a large group of parents waiting to

enroll their children this fall; and a storage unit packed to capacity

with all the materials and furniture that belong in an early childhood

program. If you know of a possible location or can contribute in any

way to this urgent request for assistance, please contact the CCG

director, Sandra Mix, at cg@mcn.org or 707-367-9763.”

 

 

##DEAR SIR, My name is Geoff Cooper. Since 1998 I have been attempting to

get our Government to investigate what takes place in the Masonite

facility which stands on the River Shannon below Drumsna Village in Ireland. The

factory killed all the fish in the river in 1998. It also pours out into

the atmosphere grey muck on a daily basis. The incidence of cancer in

the area has risen by over 38% in the last ten years. Our fisheries

board, the EPA and anyone in authority deny we have a problem here.

Some years ago I took water samples and had them analyzed at the best

laboratory in Ireland. The results were quite frightening. The water

carried several thousand times the permitted amount of Formaldehyde plus

a de-foaming agent. Even when I presented the facts to the EPA they

still denied there was a problem. The factory here is self-monitoring. I

was told by informants in the factory that the man from the EPA visited

once every month, sat in the manager’s office and then was taken to

Carrick for lunch. When he arrived back at the Masonite facility he just

got in his car and left. Longford Town which is downstream of the place

extracts water for the town’s consumption. Many folk have had serious

stomach problems. A pet shop in the town had to stop keeping fish as

when the owner topped up his tanks with tap water all the fish died.

Four weeks ago there was another massive fish kill on the river. The

fisheries board blamed anglers for keeping fish in nets too long. There

aren't any anglers as the river is not worth fishing. For the record I

am a freelance journalist. I write on a regular basis for two Irish

magazines. I also present films for TV and am currently working on a

series of six for a British TV company. My website is fishingforall.com.

PS. I have a

meeting next week with members of our Government. At last they are

listening a little. Maybe it is a forlorn hope but any information will

be well and truly appreciated. The factory in Ukiah was the sister

factory to what we have here. Years ago I spoke to one of your rangers

who told me they had killed all the fish in the Russian River and had to

be monitored by his team twice daily. When I told him our government had

allowed them (Masonite) to self-monitor his reply was, “Are your

government [bleep]ing crazy?” My regards and thanks once again. — Geoff Cooper

MOVE OVER Mendocino National Forest. The Monterey County Sheriff's Office says it uprooted more than 10,000 marijuana plants last week from the Los Padres National Forest. The raid teams also confiscated 960 pounds of processed dope and removed more than 3,000 pounds of trash from the gro sites.

A READER WRITES: Caltrans, Caltrans, Caltrans… Damn near disaster Friday on 101. (Remember the Rosewarne Concretions? Well, we never found out what they are because Caltrans doesn't have the bucks to do the study. Their priority is "safety"; they'd need to get a grant or something to do science for science's sake.) The Highway 101 freeway is four lanes going past my residence. There is no turn lane for folks heading north and needing to turn into our driveway. One diamond caution sign, set before you are in sight of the turn, is the only warning as one zips around the big bend in the road at Hole in the Wall between Laytonville and Leggett. Accidents have happened here before. Caltrans said we need to provide them with five dead bodies before they'll put in a turn lane. On Friday, July 19, they almost got their wish, and then some. It started, for me, with a loud car crash of type “BAM!” “Too close! Too close!" — was my first thought as I got up and opened the door to look out and see what had happened. Three cars were stopped out front: two whites and a red. The red one was dead in the middle of the two northbound lanes. The other two seemed to be parked neatly on the southbound side; one was one of my neighbor’s, the other the mail carrier’s. I grabbed my cellphone and started scurrying across the field toward the scene. My thoughts were in the “Holy Shit!” zone. If I don't go to the right, where I can flag down oncoming traffic as it comes flying around a blind curve at at least 65 mph straight for the dead red car, something really bad will happen really soon. But, the accident and the people, who might need help, are to the left. I am momentarily torn, split the difference and just go straight. Coming into range, I yell at my neighbor, “ARE YOU ALL RIGHT?” She responds, “Yes!” Relieved, I commit to going to the right, across the field, across the highway, take up my post and start frantically flapping my arms at oncoming traffic. A few cars have already just missed hitting the red car. After a while, a Caltrans pickup truck with a very nice lady driver happened by and stopped to help. She didn't know where to go either: stay to help flag or go on to the site to check for victims. I told her I knew my friend was ok, and I had seen someone get out of the red car. Having already called the accident in, she chose to turn on the truck's blinking orange bar lights, put on her official bright Caltrans vest, and use her official “SLOW” hand sign to flag the oncoming traffic. (Which was really great because until then, the only obstacle to disaster was a toothless old lady with a bad haircut in baggy paint stained shorts, a baggy paint stained t-shirt and dusty cowboy boots with desperately flailing arms —wtf.) At least five semis and 50 cars passed before the road was cleared of the red car. My worst moment came when two semis in the slow lane and three cars passing them in the fast lane were coming full tilt around the bend. My thought, “No way they're all gonna be able stop — so very little time to react.” I held my breath and flapped for all I was worth — behind me the red car in the middle of the road, all the cars and people that had pulled over to help: sitting ducks. So little time for the oncoming drivers to take it all in and react. Flap flap flap flap flap. “We could have ourselves an LA style pile-up: right here, right in the middle of nowhere, right now.” Flush with bad thoughts, I was afraid to turn my head and watch. Somehow, with miraculously perfect timing of the gaps in the southbound flow of traffic, the whole cluster made it around and through everything and each other. Disaster averted. After a very looooong 15 minutes, the red car got its ass off the road, imminent catastrophe was off the table. The Caltrans lady and I took a breath. I thanked her for stopping. She got back in her truck and took off. Turns out that the inattentive lady in the red car, at first, though not injured, had just not gotten out of her car. People on the curb screamed and screamed at her, finally got through and she got herself out — only to take up a post in front of the front of her car (!!!), guarding it or something (????), screaming back at the sideline folks. (!!!) Eventually, to the relief of everybody, she detached from her car and walked herself off the damn freeway. Another neighbor arrived on the scene and courageously volunteered to risk his life to help push the car off the highway. Everybody was stunned when the lady responded that she could drive it off (!!!!) which she then did. The red car had clipped the left turning white car just like the take-out move cop cars use against bad guys' cars. The force of the impact drove the white car straight toward Mail Carrier Lady (who was innocently putting mail into our mailboxes at the time). Mail Carrier Lady barely had time to throw up her arms and scream, “STOP!” at the white car as it threw itself at her life. Fortunately, it missed. It took around 20 minutes for CHP to arrive on scene. Caltrans needs five bodies? They could have had 20. BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM. Just like that. — Still shaking it off. — LB, Leggett

DEPT. OF FRIVOLOUS lawsuits: A Mississippi-based federal judge threw out a case that claimed Woody Allen's film, Midnight in Paris, stole a line from William Faulkner. The line? “The past is never dead. It's not even past.” The alleged theft read: “The past is not dead. Actually, it's not even past. You know who said that? Faulkner. And he was right. I met him too. I ran into him at a dinner party.” Faulkner's literary estate brought the phony case.

BUT FAULKNER WAS WRONG. Here in Mendocino County, for instance, history starts out all over again, retooling personalities as it goes.

COMMENT OF THE DAY: “For relative newcomers to SF, perhaps a bit of background would help. The Tenderloin district (as well as the 6th Street area) has for umpteen decades been the festering unhealed sore on the body politic. Endless fleabag hotels are still called home by thousands of prostitutes, heroin and crack addicts, cons on parole, murderers, rapists, porn ‘stars’ and their pimps, and the most desperate of the homeless. A certain landlord owns most of these bedbug ridden rejects from Scorcese's ‘Gangs of New York.’ These palaces of human flotsam are tolerated by a so-called ‘liberal’ city too afraid and politically correct to tackle the job of obliterating these slums of crime that poison an otherwise decent place — a top destination for tourists from around the globe. Scrap the pawnshops and the liquor stores, the $5 j.o. theatres and the brisk business in illegal handgun sales and there might be hope. People get killed in that un-neighborly neighborhood constantly. Of course, in SF, some artistic types will swear that it's all really just a normal, albeit run down, sentimental slice of San Francisciana, a historical district ‘worth preserving.’ Hahahaha. It's always been this way in the Tenderloin. The City has been torn between its image as the land of The Summer of Love and its rep as the sleaze capital of Cali for quite some time.” (SF Chron online comment)

WELL, KIND OF. The cops do seem to allow visible criminal activity throughout the 'loin, but lots of respectable people live there, too, including large numbers of children. From the Tenderloin through the Financial District, there's tenement housing where struggling people are jammed in many to a room at exorbitant rents. San Francisco's reputation as a liberal city has always been mostly hype as its Democrat power structure continues to run interference for the monsters who own these vertical slums.

TODAY'S SCRIPTURE: “Wherever there is great property there is great inequality. For one very rich man there must be at least five hundred poor, and the affluence of the few supposes the indigence of the many. The affluence of the rich excites the indignation of the poor, who are often both driven by want, and prompted by envy, to invade his possessions. It is only under the shelter of the civil magistrate that the owner of that valuable property, which is acquired by the labor of many years, or perhaps of many successive generations, can sleep a single night in security. He is at all times surrounded by unknown enemies, whom, though he never provoked, he can never appease, and from whose injustice he can be protected only by the powerful arm of the civil magistrate continually held up to chastise it. The acquisition of valuable and extensive property, therefore, necessarily requires the establishment of civil government. Where there is no property, or at least none that exceeds the value of two or three days’ labor, civil government is not so necessary.” —Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, Book V, Chapter 1.

A READER WRITES: "The m.o. of Jack Silver, a regulatory brigand, is well known. He and his phony River Watch have extorted a pretty penny from local jurisdictions over the years. I am not aware of any environmental benefit ever resulting from his law suits and the reason for that is simple - his minions simply cull the files at the State Water Quality Control Board to discover active cases that are already being investigated and resolved, often after the public agency has self-reported the violation. Silver and his minions simply cut and paste a few names and dates and places into a 'new' lawsuit and then hold out their hands for a quick $50,000 or $100,000. The only time they ever do any work is if someone stands up to them, as Willits once did, and the only thing that taking a stand does is run up the legal fees for the municipality or the individual business owner who does stand up to him. The existing law allows this scam-a-rama to go un-checked. Mike Thompson has known about the problem for years but refuses to even try to do anything about it based on a fear that it will open up the Clean Water Act to right wing attacks. But I would think even the right wing would be willing to correct an obvious abuse that costs millions of taxpayer dollars and does nothing to help the environment. It would be easy enough to exempt from private suit those jurisdictions that are already in the clutches of the regulators. If a settlement is not reached, then send in the Silver Vultures."

RANDOM OPINIONS. I like railroads as much as the next guy, and I see no reason other than the usual pettifogging gangs of career officeholders and time-serving public bureaucrats that a high-speed train can’t run between San Rafael and Willits. It won’t though. Ever.

THE TRACKS and rights-of-way are already in place, and two slow-speed trains, up through World War Two, ran on them every day between Tiburon (linked by ferry with San Francisco) and Eureka. Hard to believe that 60 years ago you could board a train in Fort Bragg, make a southbound connection at Willits, and enjoy a drink at the Top of the Mark by sundown the same day.

SINCE THEN, of course, America has lost its way. We no longer have the kind of leadership that gets big things done, apart from wars, that is, or apart from their primary latter-day function, which is to shovel as much money to the One Percent as fast as they can, starving public amenities and social programs as they go.

APROPOS the One Percenters, on my recent trip to Scotland, I asked the foreman of the farm where we stayed, “Any toffs around here? I've never seen a toff except in Brit movies. I'd like to see one.” His reply, “Why would anyone want to see one of those bastards?” And that just perfectly summed up the difference in class consciousness between US and the old country.)

TWO MILES of Mendo's coastline has been added to what's called the California Coastal National Monument. Specifically, the coast stretch of the Stornetta Ranch just north of Point Arena off Highway One. Ratification of the House bill on the deal, steered by Mike Thompson and Spike Huffman, awaits final approval by the Senate. 1,132 acres of the Stornetta place and 123 acres of the adjacent Cypress Abbey Ranch are already managed by the Bureau of Land Management. It's a good deal for both the public and the two ranch owners. The public gets access to the shoreline, the ranch families get big tax breaks.

A FIVE CAR collision Sunday morning on the perennially hazardous stretch of Highway 20 near the Potter Valley Road turnoff, took the life of Robert Garrison of Newcastle. Garrison, 55, was driving five Boy Scouts, three of whom, including his son, were badly injured in the Sunday morning collisions. Garrison and the Scouts had been headed to the Boy Scout camp near Willits when a pick-up truck and trailer, driven by Sheriff's Department captain Randy Johnson, was rear-ended, thus setting in motion a series of collisions involving five vehicles. Johnson had stopped to wait for a break in the traffic so he could turn off Highway 20 to the Johnson family property when he was rear-ended. In the ensuing series of crashes involving the Garrison fatality, five vehicles wound up careening into each other. The accident occurred at 11:10am, closing busy Highway 20 for three hours.

THE NORTHCOAST’S Democrat Party apparatus is one of many hogs in the railroad restoration stream, not that Republicans wouldn’t do the same. The Democrats use rail funding as a jobs program for their most faithful old boys, people like Dan Hauser and Mitch Stogner, who the Demos insert into key rail positions despite their zero railroad experience.

IT WOULD TAKE an estimated $600 million to get a train running again through the Eel River Canyon to Eureka. That money is unlikely to be forthcoming short of revolution or as a public works project under an FDR-like president. Latter day “dreams” of a Eureka-Marin railroad are pure fantasy — cynicism if it’s Democrats doing the dreaming. The Hauser-Stogner-Democrat Axis insists it’s doable. It isn't, but their jobs depend on saying that.

EVEN WITH THEM in the way, there’s no reason a train couldn’t again run regularly between Marin and Willits, a prospect as unlikely as a train running farther north through the collapsed stretch of track in the Eel River Canyon but not undoable. Marin to Willits should be easy. No sign it ever will happen.

HAUSER CLONES at the Humboldt Bay Harbor Authority, or whatever it’s called, have spent $250,000 public dollars on another rail fantasy — an east-west line linking Humboldt County to I-5. This chimercal line would run between Samoa and Redding. That rail line, the study says, would cost a billion dollars in money that our bi-partisan masters spend their days diverting upwards to the One Percent. So, like the north-south line from Marin to Willits, it also won’t happen. Anyway, it’s highly unlikely, even if a rail line presently linked Humboldt Bay and Redding, that anyone would ship stuff on it because shippers can get in and out of the ports of Oakland and San Pedro just fine, and there’s no lumber out of HumCo anymore. What's HumCo going to ship? Marijuana? Tweekers?

WHAT seems odd to me about the ongoing rail fantasies, at least those linking any part of Humboldt County with the SF Bay Area, is that nobody except the Democrats putting the fantasies out there believe them, and they don’t really believe them other than as a funding source for a few of them and their friends.

AND WHO'S CHUGGING up the tracks with the latest on rail matters but Daniel Mintz… Dan, come on in! (See inside, this week's AVA.)

ASTONISHING SIGHT on 19th Avenue last Saturday morning (20 July) a little after 11. A late model Honda with a Mike Thompson bumpersticker on its rear fender. I guess there are people enthusiastic about the guy — Mrs. Thompson. Maybe. — But this is the first person I've seen go public about it.

THE SAN JOSE Mercury News has reported that Giants officials are fed up with the seagulls. The gulls are showing up in increasing numbers, especially in the last innings of night games when hundreds of them sometimes land in the outfield during play. They also bomb fans and make clean-up after the thousands of human slobs have departed the ballpark even more difficult. It's uncanny how the gulls know when a game is winding down, circling the ballpark in such numbers its kind of eerie, like a scene out of the famous Hitchcock movie, Birds, filmed at Bodega Bay. But there are more and more of them, and they're showing up earlier and earlier. Maybe the Giants should give away pellet guns along with the bobbleheads on bobblehead days.

“PEOPLE THOUGHT Candlestick and I were soul mates. We were both big and ugly. We were both windy. And they could never figure out how to get rid of either one of us.” — Lon Simmons

HELEN THOMAS, the great White House reporter, has died. For years, as the big boys of corporate journalism crawled up to the throne to lob softball queries at presidents and their spokesmen, Thomas spoke right up, putting the rest of the pack to shame. Unfortunately for her, when she said in an unguarded moment that she wished the Israelis would get out of Palestine altogether, Thomas was driven into retirement. Even the most tentative support of Palestinians finishes you off in American media or political life, such is the lock the Israel Lobby has on public opinion. Most reasonable people, however, who are also routinely denounced as anti-Semites by the Israel Lobby, simply for opposing Israel’s unconscionable and ongoing persecution of the Palestinians — Alice Walker just got a deluge of abuse for sticking up for the Palestinians — would settle for a return to the pre-’67 War borders. Maybe the old girl was a closet anti-Semite; that was a crazy thing for her to have said, but all the bully boys from every which way pounced on her, and Helen was done.

PUBLIC EXPRESSION (sic), BOARD OF SUPERVISORS CHAMBERS, UKIAH, JULY 16, 2013.

John Sakowicz: I am speaking as a private citizen only. This Wednesday the Ukiah City Finance Director Gordon Elton is retiring. The city is doing a proclamation. With the help of the Anderson Valley Advertiser who did an article earlier this week, I would like to cite some of Mr. Elton's dubious achievements: Hijacked redevelopment funds, of upwards of $1 million annually, for up to 10 years to pay for —

(Mumbling from Board Chair Dan Hamburg.)

Sakowicz: This is a non-agenda item. …to pay for this…

Hamburg: I realize that. I just don't know where you are going with this, John.

Sakowicz: To pay for — well, he bankrupted the city.

McCowen: Excuse me, Mr. Chair. It's not something that's within our purview and public comment is for items not on the agenda but within our purview. I believe County Counsel could confirm that.

County Counsel Tom Parker: Yes sir.

McCowen: It's not necessarily an open forum.

Sakowicz: This is for information purposes.

McCowen: It’s not an open forum.

Sakowicz: Okay. All right. Well, I will be publishing this and I will be reading it at the Ukiah city Council meeting on Wednesday.

Hamburg: Thank you. Thank you, John. Okay, others who would like to address the board?

Supervisor John Pinches: Mr. Chairman.

Hamburg: Yes.

Pinches: This is the first time — I have sat here for over 10 years, going on 11 years. This is the first time that I have ever seen public expression restricted in any way at this forum.

Hamburg: Well, um. (Clears throat). Ok.

Pinches: I don't understand. I mean, three minutes of public expression should be three minutes of public expression. Period.

Hamburg: Well, thank you for that. Umm, Supervisor McCowen did ask for County Counsel's opinion and he did concur.

Pinches: I disagree with that opinion.

Hamburg: Well, yeah. I hear you. I understand what you're saying. And uh, Mr. County Counsel would you like to offer further consideration?

Parker: Yes. The, the public expression is for items that are not agendized as has been stated and is well-known. The — but my legal analysis is that the county has no jurisdiction over the city. Mr. Elton is not a county employee. The county could – the county would have no, no jurisdiction to agendize honoring Mr. Elton's services to the public in general or the, to the city of Ukiah in particular. So it — that was the basis for my conclusion, there really is —

Hamburg: Yes, well. You know. I — I’ll let Supervisor Pinches speak but I do also have some concerns because now, you know, every time somebody speaks we are going to have to analyze whether it's something we have purview over and that's going to be a tough standard to meet, you know, fairly often.

Pinches: First of all, City of Ukiah taxpayers are also County of Mendocino taxpayers. They are the same group of people. If we are going to start selecting who can say anything and who can say what, I guess my first question would be, who's going to be in charge of that?

Hamburg: Well, ostensibly, it would be the Chair with the advice of County Counsel. And you will be Chair quite soon.

McCowen: I am willing to leave it to the prerogative of the Chair, but, as a matter of law and Brown Act compliance, public expression is for matters under our purview but not on the agenda and the concern is not so much that the speaker rose to honor the city employee but his intent from his opening comments was actually the opposite. I do not think that is appropriate because that city employee really would have no equivalent forum in which to respond.

Hamburg: Yeah.

McCowen: So just kind of as a matter of decorum I did not think it was appropriate. But again, at the discretion of the chair.

Hamburg: Well, I agree. It's a slippery slope. And it may be something we should talk about a little bit more after this meeting. But, I have to say, Supervisor McCowen, that I share your, your chagrin at somebody getting up to criticize someone who's not a county employee. And again as you said, in a forum where that person has no — you know, I was thinking how someone once got up, and it's not really that infrequent, somebody will get up and blast a supervisor or criticize some ill treatment they received in a county department from a particular individual working for the county and that never elicits a complaint from a Board member even if you happen to be the Board member who is getting wailed on, that comes with the territory. But to get up and wail on an employee who doesn't even work for the county, I just don't — I have a little bit of a problem with that. So I am going to rule that that comment was out of order and I will discuss it further with County Counsel and the CEO sometime in the future."

SO, HAMBURG cut Sako off because Sako was about to say something slanderous about Gordon Elton, Ukiah's former finance director, and Mari Rodin, a Ukiah City Councilperson? The truth is the first defense against an accusation alleging slander, and the truth is that these two have not made prudent spending decisions for Ukiah. Hamburg later added that he'd also silenced Sako because Elton and Rodin don't have anything to do with County business, that they and Ukiah are an island apart. But Sako also pointed out that the City of Ukiah and the County of Mendocino are fiscally linked in many ways, and if Ukiah goes belly up, the County would be left holding the bag. For saying this the guy gets the gag?

HAMBURG is presently chairman of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors. He’s also herd bull to a large number of the County’s liberals, defining liberals here as Obama voters generally in lock-step with Democrat Party platitudes as expressed, say, by Rachel Maddow or NPR. He's also an Adi Da cult guy, a Building 7 conspiracy guy, an Alex Jones guy, and generally a guy with major crackpot tendencies. The 5th District of Mendocino County USA is the only place in the known universe where a guy with these credentials could possibly be elected to office.

WHEN HAMBURG shut down John Sakowicz’s remarks last week during the three minutes the public is supposed to be allowed to talk about any old thing, Hamburg undermined a long-standing local tradition. You’d have to go back to John Cimolino, the supervisor from Georgia-Pacific and Fort Bragg (in that order, too) to find a supervisor who even gave a hoot what the great unwashed said during the three minutes allotted to them at the beginning of each meeting. “Do we have to listen to these nuts?” an anguished Cimolino would exclaim as the late One True Green, Richard Johnson, approached the podium. Well, yes, Johnny, we do. It’s called democracy. But even the conservative boards of yesteryear let people have their say.

BUT LEAVE IT to the libs to shut it down when someone is about to say something “inappropriate,” i.e., something the libs don’t approve of and, invariably, something interesting which, by extension, is why every venue they dominate in Mendocino County is so tediously pious, so predictable. As little kids they were the people who took names for the teacher when she was out of the room, the milk monitors. As adults, they turn every thing they touch into pure ca-ca.

SAKO was going to denounce a ritual attaboy proclamation for a retiring bureaucrat and a wacky Ukiah City councilperson, and more power to him. Sako’s just about the only person in the County to follow the money, and follow it in ways we can all understand. Public officials who’ve helped undermine County finances through incompetence or simply to go along to get along with, in this instance, the captive Ukiah City Council and its disastrous city manager, shouldn’t get a merry send-off. They deserve to be put in perspective. Which Sako was about to do when, backed by Supervisor McCowen, Hamburg cut Sako off and told him to sit down. Hamburg is apparently also clairvoyant; he knows in advance what you're going to say.

TO WHICH SAKO has since written: "I have just reviewed the verbatim exchange that led to the unprecedented incident of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors censoring me, a member of the public, during the time set aside for non-agenda public comment. This incident occurred at the very beginning of the Board meeting on Tuesday, July 16. Since Tuesday’s meeting, the County CEO has apologized to me in private. Two Supervisors have also expressed that had they been Board Chair they would let me speak and would not silenced me by ruling me “out of order” as Chair Dan Hamburg did with County Counsel Tom Parker’s agreement. These Supervisors would have let me continue, as was my absolute right. As of today, I have not received a formal apology from the Board for what was for me a public humiliation. Nor has the Board’s policy on non-agenda public comment been corrected, clarified, and made public, so that this violation of free speech does not happen again. I was silenced presumably for not speaking on an issue related to County business. County Counsel Parker pontificated and obliquely referred to California Government Code: 54954.3, which states as follows: '(a) Every agenda for regular meetings shall provide an opportunity for members of the public to directly address the legislative body on any item of interest to the public, before or during the legislative body’s consideration of the item, that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body, provided that no action shall be taken on any item not appearing on the agenda unless the action is otherwise authorized by subdivision.' But there’s a problem with Parker's opinion — two problems, actually. One, Hamburg held me to a double standard. Two, I was indeed about to speak on issues related to County business.

SAKO CONTINUES: "Let’s first take the problem of a double standard. Readers must know that in the past non-agenda public comment has seen members of the public speaking on all manner of issues unrelated to Mendocino County Board of Supervisors’ business. This has included comments on issues as disparate and unrelated to Board business as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, genetically modified food, global warming, the decriminalization of marijuana, gun control, the economy, healthcare, immigration, etc. Clearly, the Board held me to a different standard. That said, my comments were not unrelated to County business as Hamburg suggested. And he knew this. I’ll explain.

"PRESENTLY, the City of Ukiah has filed two lawsuits against the County of Mendocino. Both lawsuits are concerned with money. Ukiah City Finance Director, Gordon Elton, about whom I wanted to speak on Tuesday, is directly linked to both lawsuits. The City of Ukiah, along with the Cities of Willits and Fort Bragg, are suing the County of Mendocino and Auditor-Controller Meredith Ford for hundreds of thousands of dollars they claim she overcharged them in fees for administering the cities’ property taxes. Ford’s office is responsible for distributing each city’s share of the property taxes collected in the county, for which it charges an annual Property Tax Administration Fee. The amounts purportedly overcharged by the County Auditor in administration fees on county-city transactions known as the 'Triple Flip' and the 'VLF Swap' add up to $339,630 for Ukiah, Willits, and Fort Bragg from fiscal year 2006-07 to 2011-12. However, Gordon Elton should have known in his capacity as Ukiah City Finance Director that the State of California set up this arrangement, not the County of Mendocino.

"ALTHOUGH the California Supreme Court ruled on Nov. 19, 2012, that counties could not charge cities for the additional cost of administering the allocation of property taxes resulting from the Legislature’s enactment of the Triple Flip and VLF Swap, the Court’s ruling only applied to the problem in the 2012-13 fiscal year, and it was not intended to correct past fees. It was not retroactive.

"CONSEQUENTLY, Gordon Elton could have — and should have — saved both the City of Ukiah and the County of Mendocino the time and money of a specious lawsuit. He should have advised the Ukiah City Council before it acted. Gordon Elton, as City Finance Director, also failed miserably on a second issue involving the City of Ukiah and the County of Mendocino: the sales tax revenue sharing agreement. Like the City’s lawsuit against the County Auditor on property tax levies, the lack of a sales tax revenue sharing agreement between the City and the County falls right into the lap of the city finance director.

"THE CITY and the County have been in “discussions” for years. Why so long? Because the City heavily depends on sales taxes to fund its general government services. And the City has been running a $1 million budget deficit for two years as it refused to cut payroll despite losing $1 million in RDA funds. In closing, it is a statement of fact that Hamburg held me to a double standard on non-agenda public comment. But Hamburg also censored what I was about to say about the ways in which I believe Gordon Elton has not only failed his employer, the City of Ukiah, but has also failed the County of Mendocino. Gordon Elton did not deserve a glowing official proclamation from the City of Ukiah on the occasion of his retirement. It was absurd.

"BUT AS ABSURD as the proclamation was, it was no surprise. In fact, it was politics as usual. Elected officials cover up for staff as payback for those many occasions when staff covers up for elected officials. As I said. Politics as usual. Whether you're talking about Washington DC, Sacramento, the County of Mendocino, or the City of Ukiah. Government is an insider’s game, my friends. The losers? You guessed it. You. Me. We, the People. We’re the outsiders. And now, we’re censored during public expression during the non-agenda part of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisor meetings. It was our one opportunity to be heard.

"TO UKIAH Mayor Doug Crane’s credit, he did not censor me during public comment after the proclamation reading at Wednesday’s City Council meeting. I cited Gordon Elton’s failings — as best I could in three minutes — including the City’s two pending cases against the County and Elton’s role by association in those cases. I should not have been silenced at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting. Respectfully submitted, John Sakowicz, Ukiah

STATEMENT OF THE WEEK: "It’s fitting that Detroit is the first great American city to officially bite the dust, because it produced the means of America’s suicidal destruction: the automobile. Of course you could argue that the motorcar was an inevitable product of the industrial era — and I would not bother to enlist a mob of post-doc philosophy professors to debate that — but the choices we made about what to do with the automobile is another matter. What we chose was to let our great cities go to hell and move outside them in a car-dependent utopia tricked out as a simulacrum of 'country living.' The entire experiment of suburbia can, of course, be construed as historically inevitable, too, but is also destined to be abandoned — and sooner than most Americans realize. Finally, what we’ll be left with is a tremendous continental-sized vista of waste and desolation, the end product of this technological thrill ride called Modernity. It’s hard to find redemption in this story, unless it’s a world made by hand, with all its implications for a return to human-ness." (James Kunstler)

3 Responses to Off The Record

  1. chewsome Reply

    July 24, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Hello! Breaking news that the sleuths at the AVA may have missed.

    The recent accident involving Mendocino Sheriff Dept’s Captain Commander Randall (Randy) Johnson operating a none law enforcement vehicle, which was stopped in fast lane with left blinker on, did occur within the interchange of Highway 20 and Potter Valley Road, because the front page July 23, 2013 Ukiah Daily Journal aerial photo of accident scene shows two double yellow line center stripes which define a traffic island.

    Inadvertently precipitated were a series of vehicle crashes, loss of life, and critical injuries with further uncertain outcome.

    Not only is Caltrans not yet building a round about at Hwy.20/Potter Valley Rd., but they can’t even keep fixed an off road pothole where exiting left turning traffic overshoots the turn heading north on to Potter Valley Road, when the current improvements were improperly designed and built out a few years ago in a multiple mile culvert improvement project above Lake Mendocino on the highway.

    Past cajoling about the improperly designed Hwy 20/Potter Valley exit, as an end game road improvement project boundary of the ten plus million dollar culvert replacement project which showcases different styles of roadside curb and barrier vegetation design (!), made to the Caltrans District One Director in Board of Supervisors directed letters and to a KZYX call in show with Norman DeVall a few years ago with District Director in attendance at the radio station, produced only hot air and zero response despite friendly chirps on air.

    With a few more statistical deaths, perhaps Potter Valley will get the Round About on Hwy. 20 it so justly deserves, and not just the run around. Rest in peace, all victims of Caltrans!

    – Ukiah Daily Journal of July 23, 2013 on page 12 –

    “According to the CHP, Eugene E. Galletti, 73, of Redwood Valley, was driving a 2008 Ford F-250 east in the fast lane of Highway 20 at about 11:10 a.m. July 21, and failed to realize that Joan D. Schmidt, 67, of Potter Valley, was almost completely stopped ahead of him in her Toyota Sequoia.
    Schmidt was stopping for Randall K. Johnson, 51, of Ukiah, who was stopped directly in front of her in the fast lane with his blinker on preparing to turn left into a private driveway on the north side of the highway, according to the CHP.”

  2. dsmith Reply

    July 28, 2013 at 1:24 am

    Chewsome has made the case against CalTrans and that stretch of road not getting a roundabout. He seems to be neutral about a driver (who is a sheriff’s Capt.) and perhaps a neighbor in a fast land, with a trailer,standing stock still, blinker indicating his intention to do something that sounds illegal-maybe not if you are Captain Randy!. . . Chewsome does not hazard any guess at what speed the 73 year old man was traveling when he did not realize traffic was not moving. and hit two vehicles and a trailer hard enough to catapult him into the oncoming lane.Does he have a depth perception problem? Is he a daydreamer? Is he the Galletti that is President of a Logging Company?, if so, I guess local logger and a lawman will trump a 55 year old Scout Leader – crassly referred to above as a “statistical death” that might get you that roundabout you need. – – making it more convenient for Captain Randy to get into his driveway.

    A Family with no husband and no father mourns today because Eugene Galletti is an inattentive driver and Capt. Randy was stopped in a fast line of a highway –
    Rank has its privileges, doesn’t it.

    The killled and injured in this are not victims of Cal Trans. Johnson and Galletti were not first time drivers on that highway, It was their duty to driver responsibly on the road they had to drive on.If Galletti was in the fast lane, it wasn’t because he was driving slow. If he can’t see stopped cars, he needs to have his vision checked for depth perception. He might have panicked and slammed his foot on the gas instead of break – that happens with a lot of old folks.

    As for Johnson, I would not even hazard a guess about a presumably sane person that would stop dead in a fast lane to make a left turn

    Galletti has minor injuries, The Garrison son has a fractured femur and has lost his dad. The other seriously injured child has two fractured femurs.

    I long for the day every car has a black box.It will really cut down on weasel words of those to blame. Airplanes have them – so why not?

  3. Eric Sunswheat Reply

    August 1, 2013 at 9:29 pm

    Captain Randy Johnson was driving legally and had the right to turn left, as the double set of double median center lines has a break on his side, allowing traffic heading east to turn left or north, into the driveway. See for yourself, the spray painted traffic incident number markings in various colors are in the roadbed and not wearing away. As usual for the Hwy 20/ Potter Valley Rd interface design, blame CalTrans.

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