Off The Record

by AVA News Service, August 7, 2013

JOHN CHAMBERLIN'S MEMORIAL PARTY will be Saturday, August 31, at the Greenwood Community Center in Elk, from 3 to 11 pm. Potluck and bring your own drinks. Music by dozens of John's friends, a silent auction and a memorabilia sale. Come celebrate John's life and work and all our years of dancing together!

LABOR NEGOTIATIONS BETWEEN MENDOCINO COUNTY and the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, resumed in April. SEIU represents nearly 600 County employees who pay between $40 and $70 a month to the union for an office in Ukiah in which sits a union rep and a secretary. Let's say SEIU funds the Ukiah office to the tune of approximately $150,000 a year, which is probably a lowball estimate. The rest of the union's enormous annual take in Mendocino County alone goes to… what? Many millions go to Democrats — Obama alone raked in many millions — in an overall American context of less than 20% unionized workers. A hunk more of local dues goes to the union's overpaid bureaucrats and so-called organizers, a forever changing parade of softy-wofty liberals who drive in to Ukiah from Oakland, Sacramento, the union's spa-offices in Santa Rosa.

UNION DRIVES that take on private businesses are much tougher than union drives among clumps of public employees, the diff being that private businesses resist and resist viciously while public employees work for other public employees and elected people who, not to put too fine a point on it, are willing, and often eager to toss public money at public employees, hence the precarious financial position of most American governments and municipalities, including broke-ass Mendocino County. (Disclaimer: The AVA is pro-union but anti-jive union. We've always thought that Mendo's public employees would be wise to affiliate with the Teamsters or to represent themselves.)

SO, THE LAME-O SEIU leadership kicked things off in Ukiah with a high-school pep rally approach, encouraging its members to “Purple Up 4 Purple Power! Every Tuesday till (sic) we have a contract.” Out of the box this is double-dumb; the Board of Supes no longer meets most Tuesdays, having gone over to every other Tuesday and some Mondays for two years now. The leadership is not around to swim in SEIU's purple seas, besides which very few County workers don the purple shirts, the local equivalent of 'Kick Me' signs.

THE SEIU brain trust followed up on the pep rally theme with an appeal to “Decorate your SEIU Bulletin Board and make it the talk of your department!” Prizes were offered for such categories as Most Provocative, Most Imaginative, Most Colorful, Most Eye-Catching, and so forth.

THE SEIU LEADERSHIP prepared for contract negotiations by holding a series of meetings to ask the members what they wanted. Not surprisingly, what employees wanted was more money. Specifically, the employees want an immediate restoration of the 10% pay cut plus other add-ons. So, then, does the County have the money?

CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS for SEIU seem to be led by a man named Jason Klumb. Klumb seems to have replaced the inept and nearly invisible team of Paul Kaplan and Carl Carr, who seldom showed up when budget related items were on the Board of Supes agenda. Carr made a cameo appearance at last year's budget hearings when he urged the Supes not to pass the budget because he claimed it was a meet and confer issue, which it certainly is not, a fact SEIU was apparently unaware of.

KAPLAN WAS LET GO by the SEIU corporate shot-callers in Oakland after failing to convince the membership to strike, followed by his failure to convince County workers to stay at a 12 1/2% cut with no contract, instead of agreeing to a 10% cut with a contract. That's right; the SEIU honchos wanted the members to stay at a 12 1/2% cut to create as much discontent as possible.

THE SUPERVISORS, with an office full of tax paid attorneys at the County Counsel's office just down the hall, has nevertheless engaged the services of a hired gun named Donna Williamson of Liebert, Cassidy and Whitmore, to lead the County negotiating team, thus squandering money the County says it doesn't have.

SPECULATION AMONG COUNTY WATCHERS is that Williamson is being brought in to provide a level of legal expertise that is, shall we say, beyond the reach of former County Counsel Nadel since elevated to the Mendocino County Superior Court. (The proverbial Old Boys Network in Mendocino County is pure a “liberal” enterprise. The libs, clustered in public employment and the seemingly endless non-profits reinforced by the Democratic Party apparat, hire each other, promote each other, faithfully troop to the polls at election time to ensure that they maintain control of every public dollar.) Two years ago it was a toss-up to decide which was more inept - the pathetic SEIU P.R. campaign - or the bumbling County response. The botched negotiations resulted in the County and SEIU filing unfair labor practice charges against each other. There is little reason to think things will end any differently this time around.

SEIU HAS ALREADY HELD MEETINGS, including at outlying job sites, like the County Department Of Transportation yards, talking up a strike if their contract demands are not met. And with an opening demand for restoration of the 10% pay cut; additional 4% Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) raises each of the next two years; and miscellaneous wish list add-ons, an agreement seems unlikely. But that doesn't mean a strike is inevitable, especially in a deteriorating economic context where most employed people feel blessed simply to have a job, any job. Last time around, after the SEIU bargaining team drove the incompetently represented County to impose a 12 1/2% cut when the County would have settled for ten, it was the rank and file employees who forced the leaders to accept a 10% cut instead of striking. The rank and file seems to understand that the County can't agree to a pay raise without having a way to pay for it. They also seem to understand they will bear the brunt of any strike through lost wages and the emotional toll strikes always take on working families.

THE SEIU AND COUNTY NEGOTIATORS seem to have been going through the motions up until Wednesday of last week when the County objected to the presence of SEIU “silent observers” who were not part of the negotiating team. When SEIU refused to exclude the observers, the County negotiators left the room. Gawd. What movie did they learn this fake militancy from?

IN AN EMAIL EXCHANGE, Mr. Klumb, speaking for SEIU, said the County had not objected to the presence of observers earlier and now the County was stuck with them. Ms. Williamson, responding for the County, said the issue of observers had never been discussed, the County was not interested in being part of a show with an audience, and the refusal to meet without observers was unfortunate. Klumb objected to Williamson's objections, and said they were not finished with the County's request for “costing out", (an apparent reference to the cost of the SEIU monetary demands), adding a complaint that the County sent data in the wrong format. Williamson said the union had not objected previously to the data format and reiterated the County's willingness to meet without observers.

IN OTHER WORDS, both sides are already stuck on non-issues.

SEIU STAGED a totally horseshit, photo-shopped picture of their negotiators facing a row of empty chairs and sent it to their membership under the heading “Management walks out, refuses to bargain!” The flyer claims the union has an “action plan” to win a fair contract, which probably means the County can expect more of the same from these clowns.

THE COUNTY RESPONDED with an email to the SEIU employees saying the County was ready to bargain and added the back and forth email exchange between Klumb and Williamson as an attachment. (At this point you might be wondering when the hall monitor is going show up and make the children get back in line.) The County also invited the reader to visit the County's “labor negotiations website” at http://www/co.mendocino.ca.us/hr/laborNegotiations1.htm

ACCORDING TO AN SEIU FLYER, in addition to restoring the 10% pay raise, the union is also asking for an additional cost of living allowance, affordable health care, longevity pay, layoff protections, and job security through limiting contracting out. In a continuation of the carnival theme, the SEIU leadership urged their members to “Storm the Board” on July 30, later claiming they filled the Board chambers “in support of the bargaining team's proposals to reinvest the county's new surplus in services, infrastructure and its workforce, all devastated after years of budget cuts.”

EXCEPT COUNTY REVENUES HAVE flatlined for several years, health care and retirement costs keep going up, and the reserves have been funded mostly with one time savings, which means spending the reserves is not a sustainable way to pay for raises. And without reserves the County and the employees will be even more vulnerable to lay offs when the next economic tremor hits. Which it inevitably will and this time much harder than it did in 2008.

THE BASIC PROB that SEIU refuses to acknowledge is that Mendocino is rural-poor and teetering on the edge of financial ruin. The road to ruin was paved with lots of bad decisions by previous Boards of Supes, aided and abetted by highly placed County officials who should have known better. The current Supes, out of necessity, for the most part, have made smart budget decisions. Which means it is unlikely the Supes will raid their modest reserves to pay for raises, at least not until revenues begin to increase. If they ever increase again.

THE MANAGEMENT BARGAINING UNIT, in contrast to SEIU, reached agreement within a couple of months, according to the above mentioned website, taking another couple of months to finalize the agreement. Except for some minor cleanup language, the contract is status quo, keeping the 10% pay cut in place, but with a “me too” clause in case any other bargaining group gets a better deal. Which is another reason the County is unlikely to restore the 10% pay cut for SEIU.

IF THE COUNTY LABOR WEBSITE is intended to provide useful info of the kind that would allow an outsider to come to an informed opinion, it fails miserably. A typical posting says that on May 14 the County received 34 questions from Meredith Staples, representing SEIU out of Oakland, but doesn't say what the questions were. A subsequent posting says the County responded to the questions, but without giving the answers. On July 10 we learn that the County submitted four counter offers to SEIU and that SEIU then submitted several proposals, some new and some old. WTF are they?

AT THIS POINT, we agree that observers should be present, but they should include media and/or community reps, in addition to hand picked union members who can be expected to take the union side.

WE ALSO THINK SEIU should quit playing games and use a small part of the dues extracted from the membership each month to pay for an independent examination of the County budget. But they don’t, and won’t, because SEIU headquarters in Oakland probably knows that an honest review would confirm that the County budget gives an accurate picture of the County’s bleak financial condition. And that the County is in no position to restore the 10% wage cut, much less consider all the other requested add ons. Without an honest effort by SEIU to understand County finances, we can expect to watch another slo mo train wreck unfold over the coming months. According to SEIU, negotiations are scheduled to resume August 16.

REMEMBER when the Emerald Cup was held in cramped quarters at the foot of Spy Rock Road north of Laytonville? It's apparently outgrown local venues. This year, the dope championships will be held at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds where organizers expect upwards of 7 thousand stoners to select and celebrate the Best Weed and the people who grow it. Some Northcoasters are grumbling that the Cup ought to stay north of Cloverdale where, after all, it grew into world fame.

SUPERVISOR PINCHES was unable to find a second to his motion to invite the present Ohio-based owners of the 79-acre Masonite property north of Ukiah “to request a meeting to discuss revisiting the use of the DDR (Developers Diversified Realty) property as a potential location for a new retail store.”

MASONITE CEASED manufacture in 2001. In 2009, an Ohio-based mall developer, had visions of an 800,000-square-foot shopping and housing complex at the site, a vision County voters overwhelmingly rejected 62-38% when mallification was put on the ballot for an up or down.

LOCAL OFFICIALS want to retain the Masonite site as industrial land, which is assumed to be in short supply in inland Mendocino County. Supervisor Pinches disputes that opinion. “There's over 3,000 acres of industrial land in this county that's zoned for industrial. Most of it's either vacant or underutilized. It's just not acceptable to me to see the county go into a spiraling financial downhill. To drive by there (Masonite) every day, and to see the county's finances spiral, and the company that owns it wanting to do something with it, and the county continuously saying, no, no, we'd rather have crumbled-up concrete and weeds out there — I think that's ridiculous.”

PINCHES HAS A POINT. Lots of people talk industry at the site but, apart from Ukiah businessman Ross Liberty, owner of “Factory Pipe” who is buying ten acres of the Masonite site for a motorcycle parts manufacturing facility, industry north of Ukiah remains mostly non-existent.

FRISCO STRAY? On July 28, 2013 at 8:30pm Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were called to the area of 31000 Highway 20 in Fort Bragg, California for a reported nude male adult walking down the street. Upon arrival the Deputies observed the subject, Brett Dymond, walking naked on Highway 20 and he was not covering his genitalia. Deputies contacted Dymond who was displaying signs of alcohol intoxication. Dymond initially gave a false name because he thought he had warrants from another state. Dymond said that some friends took his clothes from him and so he was walking home. Dymond was arrested for providing false identification to a police officer, indecent exposure and for public intoxication. Dymond was listed as a missing person and had an active warrant out of San Francisco for a failure to appear in court on a traffic related case. Dymond was transported to the Mendocino County Jail where he was booked on charges of indecent exposure and public intoxication on $15,385. (Sheriff’s Press Release)

HANK SIMS, writing for the Lost Coast Outpost: “The North Coast Railroad Authority could be running out of steam. Harbor Commissioner Richard Marks, who represents Humboldt County on the NCRA Board of Directors, told the Lost Coast Outpost that board chair Allan Hemphill brought up the possibility of the authority — a state agency — filing for Chapter Nine bankruptcy yesterday during a meeting of the authority’s finance committee, on which Hemphill and Marks both serve. No action was taken, and the shape of a potential NCRA belly-up were not explored in depth. “Bankruptcy was brought up but not defined,” Marks told us. Still, Marks said, the dire state of the authority’s finances meant that something had to happen soon — probably by next month. The authority is currently projecting a $211,767 deficit in the 2013-2014 fiscal year. Cash reserves are minimal to nonexistent. The fact that the potential of bankruptcy was brought up by Hemphill — the authority’s longest-serving director and one of its most stalwart boosters — means that the its financial crisis must be serious. At least in Humboldt County, the NCRA has suffered not only from its perennially problematic finances but the loss of railroad-booster mindshare. As of late, the boosters’ big dreams have attached to the idea of an east-west route rather than the NCRA’s north-south line — which once actually existed, though it hasn’t reached Humboldt County in the last 15 years.

AVA NOTES: The NCRA’s biggest creditor is its own subcontractor, NWP Co., owned by a man named John Williams, from whom the NCRA has borrowed lots of money for track repairs over the last few years. If the NCRA were to go belly-up, the most likely outcome would be a turnover of the entire system, including the relatively usable portion south of Willits, to Williams.

ORIGINALLY SCHEDULED for August 5th, Will Parrish’s trial is now slated for Monday, September 16th at 9am at the Mendocino County Courthouse. Will is being charged with 12 counts of unlawful entry, two counts of resisting arrest, and two other misdemeanors in connection with his 12-day occupation of the wick drain driver that CalTrans’ contractor, FlatIron, is using to drain and compact the soils of the Little Lake wetlands. Each charge carries a maximum prison sentence of six months. The charges also relate to Will’s arrests on March 21st and April 2nd while taking action in support of The Warbler’s tree sit. Under the charges, Will would also be required to pay financial “restitution” for damages CalTrans and the California Highway Patrol say they've incurred as a result of his wick drain boom occupation and his other two arrests. This harsh and vaguely defined stipulation would set a dangerous precedent for handling of other Bypass protesters’ cases, of which it seems likely there will be more in the future. The trial may take 3-4 days. Supporters are still being asked to write letters to Mendocino County District Attorney C. David Eyster.

EYSTER had originally charged Will with three infractions. However, the requirement to pay an undisclosed amount of restitution was also included with these charges. Will would also have had to stay away from the Willits Bypass construction area for one year under the terms of “conditional probation.” Under an infraction, the defendant’s case is presided over by a judge rather than a jury. Will was unwilling to accept the financial restitution stipulation and was also adamant about his right to receive a jury trial, so his attorney asked that Eyster re-file the charges as misdemeanors. Eyster responded by essentially “throwing the book” at him, filing entirely different charges rather than simply re-filing the original three infractions.

IN OTHER BYPASS resistance news, Kim Bancroft, Maureen Kane, and Steve Keyes were arrested and held for two days after locking down to an excavator that has been removing soil from the hillsides in the proposed Bypass’ southern interchange area. They delayed the excavator’s work for more than five hours. About a dozen supporters came out to support their appearance at the Mendocino County Courthouse.

ONE OF MENDOLAND'S creepier citizens, John Stahl, mega-perv formerly of Leggett, has been arrested in Cambodia. According to the Cambodian Daily, Stahl, who is on the most wanted list of Mendocino County on multiple arrest warrants including one related to “child-sex offenses,” was arrested July 20th in the Preah Sihanouk province. The paper explained that Yi Moden, acting director of Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE), which monitors sexual abuse cases involving minors, said the local NGO’s investigations had found that Mr. Stahl had been living in Cambodia for about four years and was the co-owner of the beachside Cafe Noir in Sihanoukville. Moden said APLE staff had begun monitoring Mr. Stahl about a year ago when another NGO that works with young children said it had suspicions about the American. “So far, no children in Cambodia were reported to be abused by him,” Moden said of the American who was detained at his rented apartment in Buon commune on Saturday morning. Stahl, shown here in a photograph taken from a biography associated with his vanity publishing company, is the author of several books including one entitled “The Laughter of God” which is dedicated to “Children and young people everywhere. You are the future of the human race; take it further.” Stahl was wanted in 2012 in Mendocino County for failing to register as a sex offender. He's also the founder of The Church of the Living Tree. Its motto is “Do no harm."

WE'VE ALWAYS CONSIDERED Scott Simon a “rum character,” as the Brits call bogus personalities. Simon, the smarmy NPR radio stalwart, has taken self-regard and all-round phoniness — “extreme douchebaggery,” as a young person might assess him — to a new low. He's turned the death of his mother into a demonstration of his pious devotion to the old girl, tweeting their joint “emotions” as she passed away last week. Mom, I suppose, has to be excused on the grounds of old age, but I can't imagine another family who would convert deathbed narcissism to national spectacle. Of course Simon's perfect for NPR and the NPR demographic, but even by their solipsistic standards this is too much.

FOR PURE DEA scumbaggery or, as it was described in the outrageous case of Mendocino County's John Dalton, “egregious government misconduct,” it's hard to beat the DEA. (We'll return to the Dalton case.)

IN APRIL of 2012, Daniel Chong, 23, an engineering student at UC San Diego, was at a friend's house when the DEA burst through the door. Chong had nothing to do with the guns and 18,000 ecstasy pills the drug boys proceeded to confiscate. But Chong was there, and if you're there you're going to be detained while the bustees are sorted out.

CHONG WAS TOLD he wouldn't be charged, but he was nevertheless placed in a 5-by-10-foot holding cell where he was found four days later severely dehydrated and covered in his own feces. In all that time, nobody had looked in on him; he had received no food, no water. By day four, assuming he was about to die, Chong used a glass shard, to carve “Sorry Mom” into his arm, but could only manage the “s.” When he was finally freed by the casual sadists who'd tossed him into the cell and forgotten he was there, Chong had to be hospitalized for dehydration, kidney failure, cramps, and a perforated esophagus. He said he drank his own urine to stay alive.

CHONG'S ATTORNEY, Eugene Iredale, said last week that no one from the DEA has been disciplined, let alone fired, for nearly killing Chong who has been awarded $4.1 million in damages. Incredibly, the DEA, post-Chong, has only now instituted a detainee policy that includes daily inspections and cell cameras.

JOHN DALTON, as AVA readers know, remains in the federal prison at Lompoc for a Laytonville marijuana bust nearly 20 years ago. The DEA seduced Dalton's wife, entertaining her with rides in a police helicopter and arranging for her to place a tape recorder beneath the Dalton's marital bed, finally moving the woman, to whom Dalton thought he was still married, to the state of Washington without Dalton's knowledge. This behavior by the DEA was not, according to a San Francisco-based federal judge, “egregious government misconduct.” One has to wonder what the hell is.

GW PHARMACEUTICALS is testing a treatment for Type 2 diabetes derived from marijuana. Known as GWP42004, GW hopes to “improve the pancreas' ability to produce insulin to drop blood-sugar levels.”

RANDOM SHOTS: The only way to get performance enhancing drugs out of sports is a life-time ban for the first offense. Take baseball, and take it from a guy who remained seated every time Barry Bonds jacked a splash home run — it's being ruined by cheaters. And it's one of the few sports left for people of normal size and athletic gifts to compete in, but the new drugs not only make guys unnaturally strong, their vision is improved to where the baseball looks softball size as it crosses the plate. Bonds was a great ballplayer before peds, after he was a joke, seems to me. And now more suspensions, including A-Rod? Time for baseball to get serious. One strike and yer outta there.

LAST WEEK, the San Francisco Bay Guardian ran a statement that began, “Join us for a community forum on the future of San Francisco's venerable alternative weekly…”

WHY? A free, ad-dependent weekly newspaper, especially one produced in the Neener-Neener Land of San Francisco, always has to work around the dead, flabby hand of the Democratic Party apparatus that dominates The City, while simultaneously touting every lunatic occurrence as somehow in the grand Frisco tradition of carefree zaniness. If the paper at least occasionally took out after the board of supervisors and the PC brigades, it would be more credible, and might not have to resort to bogus community input sessions to drum up business. Considering all the free passes that the following get, it's a wonder there's any material at all for a weekly paper: Mayor Lee, the cops, the fire department (the do their Safeway shopping in hook and ladder trucks), Critical Mass, Larry Ellison, the Dog People, street people, the ongoing give away of prime real estate to the One Percent and on and on. But ask San Franciscans what they want, and thousands of them will shout back, “Me! Me! More! More of the same!”

A NEWSPAPER is not a committee. One reason journalism in this country is so awful, so craven, is lawyers and accountants now make editorial decisions, that and editors functioning as co-conspirators. Then you have j-schools emphasizing “objectivity” (code for “don't disturb the rich”) plus term-paper prose and the art of nuzzlebumming. Calling a community meeting to discuss your newspaper is beyond pathetic.

PS. ACCORDING to the Chron's Matier & Ross, old school reporters, The City's Recreation and Parks Dept., which owns Candlestick, “handed out more than $25,000 in tickets to SF politicians, department officials and their friends for Jay Z and Justin Timberlake's ‘Legends of the Summer’ concert…” The supervisors all went!

CALL ME A FOGEY, call me an old fogey, but I went way out of my way to find a kid who could hook me up to Jay Z's latest and a baby-baby tune by Timberlake. Seriously, Jay Z is running some kind of global practical joke. A mob of yowling mental patients would make a more interesting sound than the stuff this guy is making millions from. Timberlake? Well, as Gore Vidal once put it, “Lack of talent is no longer enough.” And the government of a major American city, San Francisco, is drooling with gratitude at the opportunity to watch these characters?

DR. BRIAN MARCEL CABLE, 48, a Ukiah orthopedic surgeon associated with Ukiah Orthopedics, was arrested Wednesday on charges of “possession of controlled prescription narcotics, fraudulently obtaining controlled prescription narcotics, using another person's identity for an unlawful purpose, burglary and conspiracy.” County, state and federal investigators served search warrants at Cable's Redwood Valley home and office with the Ukiah Police Department making the arrest. Odd thing about the arrest is that when Cable was booked into the County Jail, the charge was merely “theft from a motor vehicle.” Cable graduated from the UCLA School of Medicine in 1993 and has practiced medicine since January of 1995.

A SCREAM IN THE NIGHT. A man doing a night time owl survey for the Mendocino Land Trust near the tracks on the Willits end of the Skunk line back on May 31st heard what he described as “incoherent screaming” when he shined a light in an outbuilding. Although the owl surveyor reported the screaming to the Land Trust, and the Land Trust relayed the report to the Skunk Line, and a Skunk crew searched the area, the Sheriff’s Department and the wife of Erik Lamberg, missing since May 28th, didn’t learn of the eerie screeching until late in July. Mrs. Lamberg has since said that in his “most paranoid state,” her mentally ill and missing husband screams out in fear at non-existent threats.

LAMBERG, 51, of Hermosa Beach, was last seen in Laytonville where he spent the night at the Budget Inn. His wife has described him as being “bipolar, off his medication and having drug addiction issues.” She said he left home on May 23 and was driving to Oregon to enroll in a sober-living program. Lamberg, a fit-looking 6’5” 200 pound man, stayed in daily contact with Mrs. Lamberg until May 27. She reported him missing two days later when he didn't respond to her calls, texts, e-mails or Facebook posts.

WEDNESDAY, Lt. Shannon Barney of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office assembled a search team of 40 ground personnel and five tracker dogs for a search of the rugged country along the Skunk track west of Willits. Barney told the Willits News and the Ukiah Daily Journal that his team had found “fir tree boughs laid on the floor and recent signs of a warming fire” at the Clare Mill Station, but could not determine how recently someone had camped there. The Crowley Station area also yielded signs that have encouraged a second search of the woods along the track next week, an area north of where Lamberg’s Honda was found on Sherwood Road.

LAMBERG’S 2004 silver Honda Odyssey was found mired in a ditch on Sherwood Road on June 1st amid signs that the disoriented man had tried unsuccessfully to extract his vehicle before walking west on Sherwood, then, reversing himself, walking east. The Skunk tracks lie north of Sherwood Road in hilly terrain covered with the thick brush that grew up after the L-P and G-P clearcuts of the 1990s.

TRIPLE-MURDER SUSPECT SHANE MILLER could be in Mexico according to federal court documents, the Redding Record Searchlight reported last week. Investigators in the murder of a Shingletown woman and her two young daughters believe the Humboldt County native and lone suspect may have fled to property he bought in Oregon and could now be in Mexico, according to the documents. Miller, 45, who was added to the US Marshals Service's “15 Most Wanted” list on Tuesday, was the subject of a massive manhunt in the Mattole Valley last May. Authorities say he gunned down his wife Sandy and daughters Shelby Miller, 8, and Shasta Miller, 4, in their Shingletown home in Shasta County on May 7 before fleeing 200 miles to Humboldt County, where he abandoned his truck and the family dog at Petrolia. Federal prosecutors have said Miller could be in Mexico. Or Oregon. Or anywhere:

F. SCOTT FITZGERALD'S MUST READS:

Sister Carrie: Theodore Dreiser

The Life of Jesus: Ernest Renan

A Doll’s House: Henrik Ibsen

Winesburg, Ohio: Sherwood Anderson

The Old Wives’ Tale: Arnold Bennett

The Maltese Falcon: Dashiel Hammett

The Red and the Black: Stendahl

The Short Stories of Guy De Maupassant

An Outline of Abnormal Psychology: edited by Gardner Murphy

The Stories of Anton Chekhov

The Best American Humorous Short Stories

Victory: Joseph Conrad

The Revolt of the Angels: Anatole France

The Plays of Oscar Wilde

Sanctuary: William Faulkner

Within a Budding Grove: Marcel Proust

The Guermantes Way: Marcel Proust

Swann’s Way: Marcel Proust

South Wind: Norman Douglas

The Garden Party: Katherine Mansfield

War and Peace: Leo Tolstoy

John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley: Complete Poetical Works

SCOTT SCHNEIDER, the “President and CEO” of Visit Mendocino County, which is subsidized by County taxpayers and a self-assessment on B&Bs, wineries and restaurants, makes about $95,000 per year for an average of 35 hours “work” per week. The Supervisors last week, with zero discussion, voted unanimously to fork another $325,000 over to Schneider and the “Promotional Alliance.” It's these expenditures that prompt SEIU to assume the County is rolling in dough. If the Good Ship Mendo is operating on an austerity assumption, let's go all the way into nickelnose mode.

SPIKE HUFFMAN, Congressman, “Invites You to a Harvest Celebration.” Not you, of course, or me or anybody else unaffiliated with the Northcoast's Democrat Party apparatus, but if you're wealthy or occupy one of the County's better paying public jobs, “Please join Jared along with hosts Deborah Cahn and Ted Bennett for a tasting of Navarro wine with locally made appetizers in the garden at Navarro Vineyards Sunday, August 25, 3-5pm. Thank you to our generous sponsors: Rachel Binah, John Fetzer, Phyllis Curtis, Kit Elliot, Carre Brown and others. Tickets $25.00 per person.”

IF YOU'RE THINKING of becoming a hippie, or you are a hippie but too stoned to find compatible nests, according to Estately, a real estate website, these are the best places for you:

17. Arcata, CA

16. Bloomington, IN

15. San Francisco, CA

14. Manitou Springs, CO

13. Berea, KY

12. Oakland, CA

11. Missoula, MT

10. Bisbee, AZ

9. Austin, TX

8. Berkeley, CA

7. Ithica, NY

6. Burlington, VT

5. Portland, OR

4. Boulder, CO

3. Asheville, NC

2. Olympia, WA

1. Eugene, OR

ESTATELYS CRITERIA? “Availability and legality of marijuana, number of stores selling hemp, local counter-culture icons (human-type, presumably), tie-dye availability, hippie festivals, progressive government (har de har), intensity of Occupy protests…”

HAVING LIVED IN EUGENE, certainly a city home to thousands of the righteous, but also a city that has paved over thousands of acres of wetlands for endless sprawl, and a local government “progressive” only rhetorically, I'd say whatever Eugene's hippie quotient may be they've been paved over, too. As for Frisco, well, only a rich stoner can afford to live there. The icons? Eugene has produced two writers of note: Ken Kesey and Richard Brautigan; Frisco-Oakland can boast Jack London and maybe a couple of the beatniks. Kesey's the only hippie who ever produced anything worth reading. Brautigan was a juicer, and never was a hippie strictly considered, although hippies claimed him.

THE US SUPREME COURT has ruled, the usuals — Thomas, Scalia, and the other clown, Alito dissenting — that the early release of nearly 10,000 California inmates by year's end should go forward. Jerry Brown, as always talking left and acting right, and other state officials claim early release would cause a “safety crisis.”

WE KNOW a dozen inmates presently serving unreasonably lengthy sentences who, if they were released today, would not re-offend. And I know two other guys, sentenced to life without parole at age 19, who are not the same men they were when they committed murder. (Are you the same person you were at 19?) People with direct personal experience of state and federal incarceration will tell anybody who will listen that roughly 20% of the people locked up for long periods of time should be kept locked up. They are irredeemable. But the 80% kept behind bars for periods out of all proportion to their crime, pose no threat to their fellow citizens.

A PANEL of three federal judges had previously ordered the state to cut its prison population by nearly 8% — roughly 110,000 inmates — by December 31st to avoid conditions amounting to cruel and unusual punishment. That panel, responding to decades of lawsuits filed by inmates, repeatedly ordered early releases after finding inmates were needlessly dying and suffering because of inadequate medical and mental health care caused by overcrowding.

COURT-APPOINTED experts found that the prison system had a suicide rate that worsened last year to 24 per 100,000 inmates, far exceeding the national average of 16 suicides per 100,000 inmates in state prisons.

DON SPECTER of the Berkeley-based Prison Law Office said Friday’s Supreme Court ruling underscores what inmates have been arguing for years, but that “conditions are still overcrowded, and the medical and health care remain abysmal."

CALIFORNIA has already transferred thousands of low-level and nonviolent offenders to county jails where local officials — Humboldt County, for instance — have been forced into releasing some inmates early to ease county jail overcrowding. Mendocino County is running right at legal capacity.

RECOMMENDED VIEWING: “The Act of Killing” focuses on two jolly, government-sponsored killers the Indonesian military deployed during the Suharto coup of 1965 to murder alleged communists. Perhaps as many as a million people were slaughtered, many of them ethnic Chinese, unaffiliated with communists. Some of the greatest massacres occurred on Bali, long synonymous among American lotus eaters as the ultimate good vibes destination. The Indonesian government still uses a fascist-type militia to suppress demonstrations.

MORNING CONSULT, a healthcare media company, has commissioned an online poll from Survey Sampling International, Inc. which found a stunning 77% of the 2,000 registered voters polled want to see Obamacare's individual health insurance mandate delayed or tossed entirely. Only 11% agreed with the Obama administration's contention that fully implementing ObamaCare will lower their “total health care costs, such as appointment co-payments, monthly premiums, deductibles and drug co-payments.”

MEMBERS of Congress and their staffs, of course, have made their own deal with the White House to subsidize their enrollment in healthcare exchanges out of taxpayer dollars; Americans of ordinary means will struggle to pay between $300 and $500 a month for mandated health insurance under ObamaCare. If they don’t buy coverage, they’ll be fined via the IRS, although the House of Representatives passed a bill Friday that would deny the IRS any funding to operate or enforce the health care law (!)

AMERICANS are supposed to enroll in the healthcare exchanges beginning October 1. Government employees are also supposed to enroll in the exchanges, which the White House needs to expand by many millions of Americans in order to make ObamaCare's math work.

POLLS INDICATE that more Americans than ever want the ObamaCare law repealed, and a majority disapprove of it. Get this: The ObamaCare call center hired part-time employees — denying them the very healthcare benefits they are promoting. The ObamaCare employer mandate has been delayed until 2015 after the 2014 midterm elections so this massive swindle won’t hurt Democrat electoral chances.

THIS LOOMING FIASCO was caused by Obama and the Democrats who invited the health insurance companies to write the “reform” legislation. Republicans, natch, like the free enterprise aspect of it but claim to dislike the compulsory parts, especially the use of the IRS as collection agent. Meanwhile, single-payer, the only feasible approach to mass healthcare, remains on the No Option table because insurance companies oppose it.

THERE ARE SEVERAL fires burning in the very northern areas of Humboldt and another two in Trinity County, hence some smoke over Mendocino County today. The Butler Fire, located on the Six Rivers National Forest, is located approximately 10 miles east of Somes Bar, California. Northern California Interagency Team 2 is managing the incident. The following closures remain in effect: Highway 93 (Forks of Salmon Road) is closed at the Highway 96 intersection. Nordheimer Campground is closed. The land around the Salmon River is closed 300 feet from the high watermark between the confluence of Wooley Creek and the confluence of Nordheimer Creek.

Firefighters continue to prioritize protection of residences along the Salmon River. Fire reached the area of Morehouse Mine, where structures are threatened. As of Sunday morning, the fire lines were holding around those structures. The fire continues to burn mostly on the south side of the Salmon River in the area east of Butler Flat. Efforts to reach a spot fire on the north side of the river continue to be hampered by poor visibility and steep terrain. The fire was active around the perimeter yesterday and progressed across Lewis Creek (on the southern side) and into Grant Creek drainage (on the northeastern side). The fire is burning in the fire scars of the Hog Fire (1977). Difficult terrain, heavy vegetation, snags and poor access to the fire have continued to limit firefighting strategies. Crews are working today to open and utilize lines from the Somes Fire (2006).

ORLANDO VILLALPANDO, 18, of Fort Bragg, was knocked unconscious during a 30-person brawl on South Street around 3 a.m. Sunday morning. Villalpando was punched in the face and hit his head on the sidewalk when he fell, apparently suffering a severe concussion. He was flown from Coast Hospital to Santa Rosa in serious condition. Another Fort Bragg man, Jonathan Presswood, 24, has been arrested on a charge of “assault with force likely to create serious bodily injury or death.” Sgt. Gilchrest of the Fort Bragg Police Department said the incident remains under investigation and more charges are possible against people involved in the fight.

ALSO ON SUNDAY, Franz Westfel, 46, of Oregon, was killed when the pick-up he was riding in on a private road near Laytonville plunged over the side, ejecting Westfel. The driver, not identified, was not seriously injured. The victim's Oregon hometown has not been identified pending notification of his family.

 

THAT WAS AN ALARMING headline on the front page of last week's ICO, the weekly paper serving Mendocino County's south coast. “Anger fueled by Chronicle spills over,” it read, conjuring visions of Gualala's first-ever street riot. Alongside Lisa Walter's account of local anger spilling over was a photo of the object of all that unleashed wrath, a pleasant looking Asian woman identified as Stephanie Lee. What had Stephanie done to roil the ordinarily placid precincts of the Sea Ranch north to Point Arena? She'd written a Sunday piece for the Chron saying, essentially, that the South Coast was home to a bunch of couch-bound fatso-watsos who got that way because the nearest healthy food was two hours south in Santa Rosa. The rest of Mendocino County was, the writer suggested, equivalently backwards when it came to diet and exercise. Harrumph and Double Harrumph. Fatso-watsos and lean, mean fighting machines alike have rushed into the ICO's print to point out that Ms. Lee's story managed not to see all the healthy food available on the South Coast, not to mention her impaired sight in not noticing the unlimited recreation ops. Golly, Steph, wake up. Myself, I thought Steph's story was a hoot, as many Chron stories are these days as the paper, like all newspapers, fights to stay alive. The real oddity was the story's origins — some foundation provided the funding for Steph's uncomprehending jaunt to Gualala. Oh, and this rather alarming statement by a South Coastie called Mark Bollock: “The poor woman you interviewed will be ostracized in our very small, tight knit town.” Bollocks, Mark! Tightly wrapped might be the phrase we want here. Why should the poor thing be ostracized for, she says, being misquoted? (People always say they've been misquoted when they see what they said in print.) If she wants to shop in the Rose City who could possibly care? And what kind of uptight gink even thinks of ostracizing someone over something this trivial?

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