Off The Record

by AVA News Service, August 21, 2013

SUPERVISOR PINCHES said Monday that he won't run again for 3rd District supervisor. "I never considered myself a politician, nevermind a career politician. I've been in the job 12 years and that's enough," the popular Laytonville rancher explained. He also intimated that poor health, "heart problems" as he described it, has persuaded him to retire, as have the difficulties of trying to manage his Eel River Canyon ranch from a temporary home in Willits while traveling to Ukiah almost every day to carry out his supervisor's responsibilities. Pinches said his one big fear is that the County will resume "spending money we don't have."

WE'VE ALWAYS THOUGHT Pinches was the best kind of supervisor, in that he consistently questioned dubious expenditures and raised issues that otherwise would not get a public airing. When the County was on the brink of buying an expensive communications system for department heads, Pinches said, "Since most of these people work in the same building, why don't they just walk down the hall if they have something to say to the other guy. There are also telephones." Pinches always brought a commonsense clarity to the often foggy proceedings of local government. Conservative-to-libertarian on most issues,  Pinches enjoyed a solid bipartisan support, much of it attributed to his generous personality. He was never mean-spirited, never refused to talk to people who disagreed with him or didn't support him. We hope Cowboy John will decide to run again.

AN EXAMPLE of why Pinches will be missed was last week's Supe's meeting in Fort Bragg. He was the only supervisor to point out that a new trash transfer station on Highway 20 is not needed "for two trucks of garbage a day." The upper Coast's transfer station is presently located at the inconvenient end of Road 409, East Caspar, meaning neighbors of the site, and all the people living along 409, would like to see an end to it rather than an upgrade of it. So, Pinches wondered, why not have Waste Management expand their existing Pudding Creek facility? Or simply make the two-trucks-a-day trash transfers at a wide spot in the road?

NOPE. PINCHES' obvious alternatives to a multi-million dollar new facility were ignored, although they're alternatives that would spare rate payers the inevitable trash fee rate increases to recover (partially) the cost of a new transfer station.

BAD NEWS from the County seat. Tommy Wayne Kramer won't be writing his popular Sunday column for the Ukiah Daily Journal, which also means inland charlatans of the Nice People type won't have anyone busting their pretentious bubbles, and doing it in a way that makes us laugh. The prigs and the pompous hate him, of course, and have regularly threatened the Journal with the withdrawal of subscription money if Kramer is kept on. You can always count on the libs to be the first to reach for the censor's cudgel. Maybe Dr. Trotter, the Ukiah polymath and one of many inland prigs to demand that the paper dump Kramer, maybe Trotter can replace Kramer with weekly paeans to himself and his tedious social circle, or tell us how bad the drunks smell that he treats in the emergency room. How about a column called, Westside Personality of the Week? The Journal would sell out in minutes. Public opinion in this county is already blanded down to an oppressive lock-step sameness, and without Kramer blasting the smugly righteous every Sunday one more interesting County voice goes silent. When I asked him about his leaving the Journal, Kramer replied, "Well yeah, I reckon so.  I was hoping to prod the Journal into giving me some token amount of payment (a free lunch twice a year at the bowling alley, something like that) after donating columns since the summer of '07 but I guess not. So I'm on strike.  Join me. Picket outside the paper.  Soak Bruce McEwen in gasoline and set him on fire in front of the courthouse.  Have the MEC and KZYX stage a big benefit."

COUNTY TRASH CZAR Mike Sweeney did a good job lobbying the supervisors and the Fort Bragg City Council to buy into a new transfer station for the Fort Bragg area, a scheme Sweeney attempted some ten years ago when he teamed up with then-supervisor Richard Shoemaker to place a transfer station in the Forks neighborhood of North State Street, Ukiah. One of its Sweeney-alleged selling points was proximity to  the non-existent but, Sweeney claimed, imminent rail line on which Mendo's trash would be hauled outtahere. North Ukiah rose up and that was the end of that. Highway 20, Fort Bragg, doesn't seem to be aware yet that they just might be getting a garbage plant in their neighborhood, a transfer station Mendocino County does not need but all of Mendocino County will be on the hook for.

THE SUPES and the Fort Bragg City Council, after considerable hemming and hawing, voted to support an environmental review for a new transfer station on Highway 20. Lindy Peters, representing Empire Waste Management said that Waste Management was willing to host a new transfer station built at their yard on Pudding Creek, but most of the decision makers didn't like the idea of all the garbage going through town twice, consistent with the overall wish to get it out-a-here as quickly as possible. A new transfer station on 20 will cost about $5 million.

THE SMALL GROUP of Democratic Party insiders who decide which of them will represent the Northcoast at all levels of local government, has picked an Arcata man to succeed  state senator Noreen Evans. Evans has decided not to run for re-election.

ARCATA'S CHRIS LEHMAN is the man selected to replace  Evans. He's been working as an aide in Sacramento and is heralded by Wes Chesbro as, well, Wes-like, a sure sign that Lehman is not for you and me, brothers and sisters. Patty Berg is also on board as are elected Democrats up and down the Northcoast.

CHESBRO SEZ: “I’m endorsing Chris Lehman because I know firsthand that he will be a powerful voice for the people of this community and an unwavering defender of our region’s magnificent natural resources and environmental beauty.” Just like Wes hasn't been.

THAT THESE TIME SERVERS and career officeholders can force feed us our candidates totally outside so much as a semblance of a democratic process is insulting enough, but for people like Chesbro and Berg to hold themselves up as the public service standard is, is, is...... one more sign that the End Times are upon us.

THE COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVSORS met in Fort Bragg last Tuesday to hear an appeal of a State Parks proposal to remove the remnants of the old haul road between Ward Avenue and the Ten Mile River. A century ago the haul road was constructed by the Union Pacific Lumber Company as a railroad to facilitate liquidating the virgin old growth redwood stands in the Ten Mile River watershed and hauling the logs to the mill on the Fort Bragg Headlands. Right around the end of World War II the railroad was converted to a truck road to continue mopping up the last of the old growth and to go after the second growth that was reaching market size. The liquidation logging ramped up once Union Lumber was taken over by Georgia Pacific. By 1983, when a half mile segment of the haul road was washed away by wave action during a winter storm, the redwoods in Ten Mile were pretty much gone. A few years later the company sold the right of way to State Parks.

THE PACIFIC OCEAN continues to wash away the haul road north of Ward Avenue, to the point where there is a gap of a mile before reaching a relatively intact 2.5 mile section of the haul road south of the Ten Mile River. From the north, the remnant of the haul road is reached by parking in the small lot south of the Ten Mile bridge and hiking through the dunes across private property. The project would remove the remnants of the haul road; remove invasive European beach grass; and replant with native species.  State Parks says this will improve habitat for endangered plant species and the snowy plover, which nests on the near shore sand.

THE PROJECT WAS APPEALED by the Westport Municipal Advisory Council (WMAC) which contends the haul road should be rebuilt as a segment of the California Coastal Trail. Lots of people are stirred up at the thought that a functional segment of what should be the Coastal Trail is being removed. State Parks says building a trail, any trail, through the sensitive coastal dunes, which are officially designated as a "nature preserve," is infeasible because of the cost, impacts to archeological sites, and impacts to the endangered species. The Sierra Club, Audubon Society, California Native Plant Society and even Linda Perkins and Bill Heil are lined up in support of State Parks, but most community members willing to publicly voice an opinion are opposed.

FOLLOWING A LONG BREAK (to deal with a joint meeting of the Supes and the Fort Bragg City Council to consider the siting of a future transfer station in the Fort Bragg area) on a 3-2 vote the haul road appeal was continued to a special meeting to be held in Ukiah on August 26. But before the break, Supervisor Gjerde made it clear that he didn't believe State Parks when they said a trail could be built through the dunes and that the Supes should line up with the project opponents to pressure State Parks to rebuild the trail. Supervisor McCowen, after saying he would not support removing an intact park, made the point that the remnants of the haul road are not readily accessable at either end (despite the impression created by some that there is a perfectly good, intact, ADA accessible trail that Parks wants to rip out for no good reason) came out in support of the State Parks project. The other Supes kept their own counsel until August 26 when the issue will be replaid at the Supes chambers in Ukiah.

DAN HAMBURG formally announced Monday he is running for a second term as 5th District supervisor. We hope he is not re-installed unopposed. He's been a poor supervisor — the weakest, least responsible of the five presently sitting and, we would say, a guy who could only have been elected in the wacky 5th where Hamburg enjoys a cult-like following. Hamburg's manufactured controversy over the burial of his wife should, all by itself, unseat him. In that one, knowing full well the County could not legally issue a burial permit, Hamburg threatened to sue the county he allegedly represents simply because the County wouldn't roll over for him. Hamburg finally got his burial permit from a judge, an option he could have exercised months earlier.

HAMBURG BACKED without demur or apology former supervisor Kendall Smith in Smith's lengthy efforts to swindle the County out of thousands of dollars in falsified travel reimbursements. Smith only partially paid the money back when DA Eyster threatened to arrest her.

HAMBURG seems to have used the County Counsel's office and Mental Health administrators to get his troubled son out of the County Jail and into a private facility that costs County taxpayers $825 a day. I say 'probably' because all I have is the end result as reported in two odd court proceedings by Bruce McEwen that make it clear there was an extra-legal intervention by County officials who wouldn't even consider such an intervention for anybody else.

WHEREVER you stand on the marijuana issue, Hamburg, a proponent and, from the dazed, inattentive persona he often presents at public meetings, a regular user, was compelled to settle a claim by a Ukiah man that Hamburg had shorted him for his work on the pot garden on the Hamburg property south of Ukiah. Probably half of his constituents are opposed to marijuana, especially its easy availibilty among young people. The supervisor, however, in apparent tandem with his daughter, tried to open a pot dispensary in downtown Boonville.

HAMBURG claims the now meaningless mantle of "progressive," but whether he happens to be registered  Green — in Mendocino County the Greens are simply a front for Democrats and are otherwise non-existent as a functioning party — or as a Democrat, you will find him at the big shot table with local Democratic officeholders.

AS A SUPERVISOR, Hamburg has accomplished exactly zero for the 5th District, even rudely chastizing Boonville critics who complained about road closures for a movie company filming a moronic epic featuring car chases. Hamburg claimed the film would bring lots of money to the County, which it didn't. The movie company even brought its own food, spending very little for County amenities, and the filming was given permission to begin before public hearings were held. What the car chase movie brought was a lot of inconvenience to the residents of Anderson Valley and the Mendocino Coast

AS MALCOLM MACDONALD pointed out in a recent edition of the ava, Hamburg's political concerns are far, far from Mendocino County. He's a big think guy, a guy who really isn't interested in the everyday concerns of his constituents.

HAMBURG'S involvement with the sinister Adi Da cult alone should get him the boot. That group, especially when Adi Da was alive and Hamburg was an active member, was and remains a sort of Manson Family for trust funders led by a rapist and all-purpose psychopath. Hamburg says he learned big things from this nut.

HAMBURG voted to eliminate funding for Anderson Valley's popular deputy, Craig Walker, and maintains a childish hostility for local law enforcement, any law enforcement, which probably stems from the pot raid on his own property several years ago.

WHEN THE STATE pointed out there were irregularities in Hamburg's campaign finances — he hadn't reported some $9,000 in contributions — Hamburg blamed it on his treasurer.

HAMBURG promised that as supervisor he would ensure that the County purchased more from local vendors. Never happened.

HAMBURG approved an expensive study of County ambulance services that told us nothing we didn't already know.

HAMBURG still thinks the Sheriff mishandled the Bassler matter, that Bassler could have been brought in alive, that the inapplicable Laura's Law, if it had been in place in Mendocino County might have averted Bassler's murderous rampage and Bassler's own death. Laura's Law only works if the person it's applied to cooperates. Bassler was obviously non-cooperative.

MIGUEL TEJADA, the great shortstop, has been suspended for 105 games. His crime? He got caught with an amphetamine-like drug, Adderall, in his blood test sample. I don't understand how speed would give you an edge in playing baseball. It might help you get over a hangover real quick, help you stay awake on a long, hot day, but it's not going to enhance your performance, is it? (Any tweeker ballplayers out there? We need an expert opinion here.) The usual major league baseball drug suspensions are for substances that improve your strength and your vision. Super human strength and radically enhanced vision (cf Barry Bonds) definitely help a baseball player, but he gets these temporary advantages in exchange for his hair, scrotum, complexion, and liver. Any drug that helps a hitter see the ball better gives the guy taking that drug a big advantage, the difference between a pea and a volleyball coming at you.

A READER COMMENTS: “Recommended reading:  Ball Four by Jim Bouton. Low-dosage pharmaceutical amphetamines have a long, nearly respectable history in pro sports. Bouton talks about 'greenies' -  five mg dexedrine tablets like grandma used to take. Five milligrams doesn't even register on today's meth freak scale. This predates the redneck meth lab and 'tweaker' phenomenon by several decades.”

IT'S BEEN a long time since I've read Ball Four, but I remember the greenie talk in the book not as performance enhancers but as simple energy boosts to get through a hot weather doubleheader, especially the ones the boys played with hangovers. Which was a lot of them. Another reader challenges us to cite our sources on Performance Enhancing Drugs. Well, Men's Health, I believe, is one mag that has run several articles on PEDs, as has Outdoors. I remember a piece by a fit man in his late fifties who said after a couple of months on the stuff Bonds was accused of taking he didn't need his prescription glasses. He was also a lot stronger as measured by the number of push-ups and pull-ups he could do, and he could run long distances without becoming exhausted. Ballplayers don't take this stuff for no reason, and vision improvement is a big incentive to do it. Melky Cabrera last year was suspended for PEDs when he was hitting about .360, and came back next season with Toronto at just over half that.

JOAN RAINVILLE, 53, the Ukiah woman who, drunk, drove her mother's car through a neighbors' fence and into their backyard party, will indeed face jury trial on a felony charge of assault with a deadly weapon, Judge Ann Moorman ruled Tuesday.

MS. RAINVILLE, previously best known as the friendly presence at Ukiah's Mendocino Book Company, has drunk driving priors. This episode on May 26th was her second drink-propelled crash this year. The argument was whether a drunk  behind the wheel of an automobile can be considered a weapon. The judge said yes.

INTERESTING STORY by Phil Barber in last Wednesday’s Press Democrat on Phil Jordan, the first and only Northcoast guy to play in the NBA. Jordan, 6’10”, was born in Lakeport to a white mother and a Wylackie father, played for Willits High School, went on to college, then to the NBA where he went up against the likes of Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain between the years 1956 to 1963. Jordan was unable to play the night Chamberlain scored a hundred points against Jordan’s sub, Darrell Imhoff, and Jordan, the usual starter, probably could have held Wilt within reason. Still a young man when he left basketball, Jordan died prematurely in a drowning accident in the state of Washington.

ODD that not much more is known about Jordan or his family, but then there are huge gaps in Mendocino County’s history, and much of what is known seems equal parts myth and re-writes. Jordan’s brother, by the way, pops up in Hunter Thompson’s famous book on the Hells Angels as a stabbing victim in a Willits brawl with the Angels. The brother survived but then disappears into the mists of yesteryear.

LAKE MENDOCINO looks and is exhausted. Boat ramps are closed and the lake’s water is down to less than 43% of capacity. Mid-summer levels haven’t been this low since the 1970s, according to data from the California Department of Water Resources.

AND WHAT WATER there is is mostly owned by the Sonoma County Water Agency, which sells some of it on downstream to Marin County. Sonoma County is presently urging water customers to cut way back on consumption. Willits is on a watch yer water alert as many more outback Mendolanders, dependent on well and springs, look anxiously skyward for early rains.

A STUDY SPONSORED by the Save the Redwoods League has found that over the past decade redwoods are growing faster in the sense of apparent growth spurts. Why the accelerated growth has occurred is a matter of speculation, but the majestic trees that pull so much carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere do not seem negatively affected by global warming. But given that redwoods can live for upwards of 2000 years, a ten-year study of their recent well-being really can’t be considered anything more than encouraging.

ALTHOUGH IT’S BEEN under-reported, the City of Richmond has done quite a remarkable thing in essentially nationalizing or, if you prefer, city-izing, hundreds of that battered town’s foreclosed homes, seizing many of them by eminent domain because title to them is difficult to find or prove, the mortgages having been bundled by swindlers and repeatedly sold off to distant suckers, the whole of the scamming resulting in the banking crisis of 2008. Richmond hopes to revive hard-hit neighborhoods by selling the properties to people who will live in them, including their victimized former owners.

COMMENT OF THE DAY “The Edge...There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over. The others — the living — are those who pushed their control as far as they felt they could handle it, and then pulled back, or slowed down, or did whatever they had to when it came time to choose between Now and Later. But the edge is still Out There.” ― Hunter S. Thompson, Hell's Angels

IN HIS FIRST interview since he identified himself as the source of leaked NSA documents, Edward Snowden said the media has given the government a free pass to grow unchecked power ever since the attacks of September 11. “[It] ended up costing the public dearly,” the 30-year-old newly minted Russia resident told the New York Times in a Q&A published Tuesday. Snowden’s interview focused on journalists and the media, which he said need to wake up to the realities of surveillance. “Any unencrypted message sent over the Internet is being delivered to every intelligence service in the world,” he said. Snowden’s Q&A was, of course, done through encrypted emails. Snowden, in describing his methods for choosing a reporter to work with while searching for a way to tell the world what he knew, said that basically all emails are possible targets for government surveillance. Those from news organizations, he suggested, are all the more likely to be read.

“THE MOST important news outlets in America abdicated their role as a check to power,” Snowden told the paper of record, “for fear of being seen as unpatriotic and punished in the market during a period of heightened nationalism. From a business perspective, this was the obvious strategy, but what benefited the institutions ended up costing the public dearly.”

MANSON, by Jeff Guinn, is a freshly published biography of America’s favorite boogeyman. The author has discovered much that was previously unknown of Manson’s family origins, and lots about his needy, mostly pathetic followers. Manson has always claimed he was a life long victim, that his mother was a teen prostitute, his family cruel to him. Nope. Guinn makes a convincing case, to this reader anyway, that Charlie, although raised by struggling people in the teeth of the Depression, was simply a bad guy from the time he could walk and talk. His family, including his mother, were decent people who did the best they could with him, but always, given the choice between doing the right thing and the wrong, Charlie went for the wrong.

SPENDING MUCH of his youth in institutions and then prisons, Manson, in his early thirties, emerged into the free world early in 1967 just as the world seemed to be coming apart with masses of suddenly estranged young people, bitter anti-war demos, drugs, riots, and assassinations. Mr. Helter Skelter was in his element. Soon, he was competing for cult-brained followers in the Haight-Ashbury with other sociopaths preying on the hordes of teen runaways and other young people looking for someone to tell them what to do and what to think, looking for family, as Manson quickly discerned. So he started a family with himself as patriarch.

THE AUTHOR’S DESCRIPTIONS of Manson’s apocalyptic brew of Hobbit-derived mysticism, secret messages implanted in Beatles music, sex, violence, and hallucinogens, attracted quite a crowd from which he winnowed people, especially women, certain to accept as truth whatever Manson told them. He had a real gift for selecting only those followers who could be depended on to accept him as the authority on all things.

MANSON TOLD his “family” that there was a big hole somewhere out in the Mojave which, if the family could locate its entrance, they could slide down it to live safe underground while a national race war launched by black people finished off Whitey. But black people, Manson explained to his cretinous recruits, will need someone to run things properly, and that’s where we come in.

MANSON was a musician. He wanted to be famous for his music. It was repeated snubs by music industry bigwigs that seemed to propel him to the murders he got some of his followers to commit.

ANYONE WHO’S lived in Mendocino County for any length of time, especially anyone who goes back to the late 1960s and early 1970s, will have had at least peripheral experience with charlatans of the counterculture type, men whose basic pitch was “You give me all your money and you can hang out with me in the hills while I tell you what’s what.” Versions of that, usually with a religio-mumbo jumbo overlay, and maybe an excited tale about a subterranean cave system linking Lake County to Mendocino, were prevalent in the County at the time. I heard the cave system tale for the first time back around ’75, and several times since. That period provided a kind of mass feed lot for vultures, and delusion was even more prevalent than pot.

“SINCE the Family was staying together forever, Charlie informed his followers, they needed a permanent home. He assigned Susan Atkins, in mid-pregnancy, to lead some of the others back to Mendocino County and look around for some suitable site….”

THE AUTHOR places 'the suitable site' in Philo. In fact, the Family found a house on Gschwend Road, Navarro.

LOCALS say the Manson Family brought the first LSD into The Valley and routinely sold our proto hippies marijuana. The Family was soon raided and several of the women, among them two killers, were arrested.

FOR A WHILE THERE, though, we had the big boys of bludgeon, not that we knew it when they were “doing their thing,” as psychopathology was described at the time. Criminal behavior was often viewed simply as eccentricity, and anybody who thought Tree Frog Johnson seemed to have an unwholesome interest in small boys well, that person was too “uptight” and probably a racist. Mr. Frog was black, you see, so he couldn’t possibly be a creep and predator perv.

LOTS of bad things happened during the hippie heyday, and lots of bad things went unreported, unrecorded. The Man was the enemy, you see, and The Man was broadly defined as anyone who disapproved of sloth and chaos as a way of life. The hippies had mostly cleaned up by ’75 and immediately proceeded to take over Mendocino County’s public bureaucracies, from the schools to the courts, which is why today the old boy’s network prevalent most places is, in Mendocino County, a liberal one.

THIS MANSON BIO brings it all back. The author is very good at evoking just how crazy that period was. There are two Mendo references, one of them about Manson being upstaged by a Mendocino guy, not named, and this:

JUDGE CINDEE MAYFIELD has signed off on the home burial of Carrie Hamburg. Mrs. Hamburg, wife of 5th District supervisor Dan Hamburg, died March 8th of this year and, as per her last wishes, was interred at the family’s 62-acre homestead south of Ukiah.

HOME BURIALS are permitted in California only with a judge’s sign-off. The Hamburgs hadn’t sought that permission until the County noted that the Hamburgs hadn’t filed the required notice as to what they had done with Mrs. Hamburg’s remains. What ensued was a lot of cynical huffing and puffing of the legal type even though the family had intended to bury Mrs. Hamburg at home well prior to her death in early March. Which is what they did.

THE COUNTY was forced into the position of threatening to disinter Mrs. Hamburg, at which point the supervisor filed a lawsuit asserting a constitutional right to home burial and sued the County for legal fees. Why Hamburg waited so long to seek the judicial approval he has now obtained is not known, but he’s dropped his suit and is no longer seeking reimbursement for legal fees.

ABSENT THE ORDER of a judge, there is no legal authority for the County to issue a death certificate and a burial permit. Hamburg simply filed a petition with the court, albeit months late, and Judge Mayfield signed it. Case closed. Hamburg could have filed the same petition months ago, and at that time the judge would have made the simple, non-controversial ruling which she did Friday.

THE SKUNK TRAIN is again running from Fort Bragg to North Spur, which is about half way to Willits. You can also ride the Skunk to North Spur from the Willits end. The tunnel just east of Fort Bragg caved in earlier in the year, probably from old age. It is now repaired. Save the Redwood League has paid $300,000 for a conservation easement along the Skunk’s forty miles of track, thus providing the venerable tourist line with the money to restore the collapsed section of tunnel.

THE SEGMENT of ‘This American Life’ which features Mendocino County Tom Allman and other recognizable Mendolanders (Northstone Organics’s Mitch Cohen, Supervisor John McCowen, et al) involved in the now defunct Mendocino Medical Marijuana Cultivation Program (aka the “9.31 cultivation program” is now up and available for listening at:

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/503/i-was-just-trying-to-help

It’s a little under 18 minutes, a decent recap of how a reasonable attempt to bring order to the smaller, legitimate end of the medical marijuana business got taken down by an overzealous US attorney and the Federal anti-marijuana brigades.

 

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