Off The Record

by AVA News Service, September 19, 2013

IS PATRICIA DARLAND making a run for Fifth District Supervisor? Ms. Darland, a former nurse, has been on the Coast Hospital Board since the early 2000s. According to a note Ms. Darland posted in the newsletter of the Mendocino County Women’s Political Caucus: “As you may know, my term on the hospital board ends in December of 2014 as does Dr. Graham’s. I will most likely not run for re-election and Dr. Graham is most likely retiring as well. That means in December 2014, there will be two vacancies. It is my hope that two or more women choose to run. Any woman who plans to run for the Hospital board should consider starting the process January 2014, declare as soon as they are able for the November 2014 elections... There is a man on Finance, Kirk O’Day, who is planning to run and hopefully he will not win. Not because he is man but because he is painfully unqualified. Either way, I could help a candidate run against him. Meanwhile, to let you know, I will most likely run for Fifth District Supervisor, either against Dan Hamburg, if he chooses re-election or anyone else who plans to run. If I decide to run, I will decide in January of 2014 and make a public commitment. My term ends, November 2014 and the Supervisorial Term will begin January 2015. Finally, an update: I have divested my Nursing/Elder Care Business, it was suffering due to the inordinate amount of time I was spending at the hospital during this critical time. I am closing my Fort Bragg store for a variety of reasons. I still have a store in Cloverdale, which I most likely will sell that business at the end of the year. I still provide Independent Nurse Consulting but will have additional free time after the first of the year to participate with MWPC, Democratic Central Committee, Soroptimist and others. — Patti.”

BETTER HUNKER DOWN, PATTI. The NWPC, an extension of the local Democratic Party, will have its knives out for you, as will the Demo's Central Committee. They are lip-locked to Hamburg even though Hamburg is registered as a Green, and even though the Greens, as a Mendo presence, are only a paper front for the conservative liberals Democrats who dominate the 5th District. Val Muchowski, Joe Wildman and Lee Edmundson et al did a job on Wendy Roberts last time around, even going so far as to have the phony local branch of the NWPC declare for Hamburg over Roberts, although the point of the organization is to support female candidates.

TESTOSTERONE TANTRUMS AT TESTA VINEYARDS. According to the Sheriff's Department, a little after midnight Saturday, “subjects were riding golf carts on the roadway between Testa Vineyards (6400 North State Street) and the downtown Calpella area. The first responding deputy arrived where he was told by a citizen that the golf carts were coming from the Testa Vineyards parking lot.” The deputy couldn't help but note that numerous individuals “appeared to have been drinking, one of whom indicated he had been giving people rides from the Testa Vineyard parking lot to an off-site parking lot in downtown Calpella.” Which just happens to serve the Club Calpella.

“THE DEPUTY was then confronted by Clyde ‘Rusty’ Martinson, 48, of Redwood Valley, co-owner of Testa Vineyards, who was belligerent, intoxicated, and demanded the deputy leave the location. As the deputy was dealing with the crowd another golf cart being driven by an unidentified person approached the scene and crashed into an object in the parking lot. As the deputy approached that cart to determine if anyone was injured, Martinson threw a beer can (a craft brew we presume) at the deputy and then shoved the deputy, again demanding he leave the location.”

RIGHT ABOUT here, after consulting the historical record, we're pretty sure we had the makings of the first yuppie riot in the history of Mendocino County, and certainly the first time massed wine drinkers have become uncorked, so to speak.

THE MENACED DEPUTY, surrounded by a “hostile crowd,” called for back-up. Martinson was “eventually wrestled to the ground by some members of the crowd and restrained,” as “additional deputies, members of the Ukiah Police Department, California Highway Patrol, and Coyote Valley Tribal Police all responded to assist with the hostile crowd.”

IT WAS THEN learned that “some unknown person had stolen an ignition key from one of the deputy's patrol vehicles.” (The key was later returned to the deputy.) “At one point, James Thompson, 49, also of Redwood Valley, approached officers in an agitated and belligerent manner. Thompson was obviously intoxicated and was subsequently arrested for public intoxication and placed into the rear of a patrol unit.”

MARTINSON was taken into custody for battery on a peace officer and public intoxication but, going all the way off, “Martinson physically resisted during the arrest and was also charged with resisting arrest.” Meanwhile, someone from the pinot posse snuck up on the patrol wagon holding the handcuffed Thompson and opened the door for the prisoner, who quickly wobbled off into the dark still handcuffed. “Deputies searched for Thompson but were unable to find him.”

AT AROUND 10:45am that Sunday morning, Thompson appeared at the Sheriff's Office in Ukiah and surrendered himself to deputies. “He had several injuries to his wrists where it appeared the handcuffs had been cut off after his escape. He was then booked into the County Jail.

AN ANONYMOUS TIP identified Charlene Testa, 59, of Ukiah as the person responsible for releasing Thompson from the patrol vehicle. [Ed note: Charlene Testa is Martinson's sister in law.] Ms. Testa “was contacted and interviewed where she admitted she was responsible for Thompson's release. A case was submitted to the District Attorney's office for review of a charge of lynching against Testa.” [Ed note: Charlene Testa, certainly one of our livelier public servants, is also listed as Mendocino County Transportation Department employee and member of the County’s Employee Wellness Advisory Committee.]

“THE CASE was submitted to the District Attorney's Office for review of charges and to the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control for review of possible sanctions against the holder of the liquor license of Testa Vineyards. The investigation is continuing. [Ed note: Testa Vineyards’ website shows their third annual “Barn, Blending, BBQ” event was scheduled to end Saturday night at 10pm. “Lynching” is an antiquated term that still applies to the unlawful removal of a prisoner from police custody.

A READER WRITES: “I am interested to know if the District Attorney has or is willing to look into the possibly corrupt privatization process of the County's Mental Health Services? In particular: A) The conflict of interest with the Behavioral Health and Recovery Services Director, Tom Pinizzotto, regarding his financial ties with the Ortner Management Group who won the contract to replace the Department of Mental Health's adult services and Mental Health crisis; B) Mr. Pinizzotto's dismantling of Crisis Services before and during the contract bidding in order to sell the need to outsource to the public and Board of Supervisors while endangering the citizens of Mendocino who needed emergency mental health hospitalization; C) The conflict of interest regarding James Shaw as the Mental Health Board Chair and his wife, Anna Shaw, the Executive Director of Fort Bragg's Hospitality House who both financially gain from the privatization with Anna receiving money directly from Ortner Management Group to provide Adult Mental Health Services and Crisis services.”

KSHAMA SAWANT is a socialist candidate for the Seattle City Council. She received 35% of the primary vote and will face a Democrat in November for the seat. Here's why she's running: “The Democratic Party has run this city for decades. The mayor and all the city council members are Democrats and are representing only a tiny spectrum of political opinion and the interests of the people of Seattle, namely Paul Allen and the richest 1%, along with Amazon, Starbucks, big property developers, and downtown business interests. … While the Democratic Party pays lip service to working people, in reality both the Democrats and Republicans serve the interests of a tiny financial aristocracy. The Sawant campaign is an opportunity to break out from the prison of corporate politics.”

DITTO FOR THE DEMOCRATS of Mendocino County and every other area of the country where they're dominant. Republicans in Mendocino County are non-political factors. They seem quite happy with the conservative liberals of the type dominant here.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “The rich have a sort of pilot fish who goes ahead of them, sometimes a little deaf, sometimes a little blind, but always smelling affable and hesitant ahead of them. The pilot fish talks like this: 'Well I don't know. No of course not really. But I like them. I like them both. Yes, by God, Hem; I do like them. I see what you mean but I do like them truly and there's something damned fine about her.' (He gives her name and pronounces it lovingly.) 'No, Hem, don't be silly and don't be difficult. I like them truly. Both of them I swear it. You'll like him (using his baby-talk nickname) when you know him. I like them both, truly.' Then you have the rich and nothing is ever as it was again. The pilot fish leaves of course. He is always going somewhere, or coming from somewhere, and he is never around for very long. He enters and leaves politics or the theater in the same way he enters and leaves countries and people's lives in his early days. He is never caught and he is not caught by the rich. Nothing ever catches him and it is only those who trust him who are caught and killed. He has the irreplaceable early training of the bastard and a latent and long denied love of money. He ends up rich himself, having moved one dollar's width to the right with every dollar that he made. Under the charm of these rich I was as trusting and as stupid as a bird dog who wants to go out with any man with a gun, or a trained pig in a circus who has finally found someone who loves and appreciates him for himself alone. That every day should be a fiesta seemed to me a marvelous discovery. I even read aloud the part of the novel that I had rewritten, which is about as low as a writer can get and much more dangerous for him as a writer than glacier skiing unroped before the full winter snowfall has set over the crevices. When they said, 'It's great, Ernest. Truly it's great. You cannot know the thing it has,' I wagged my tail in pleasure and plunged into the fiesta concept of life to see if I could not bring some fine attractive stick back, instead of thinking, 'If these bastards like it what is wrong with it?' That was what I would think if I had been functioning as a professional although, if I had been functioning as a professional, I would never have read it to them.” — Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

POST OFFICE BLUES. Jeff Costello writes: The USPS is up to its usual declining function. Deliveries to Denver started on Mondays, then Tuesdays, then Wednesdays, a week after publication. Now it looks like Thursday. Maybe.

JEFF COSTELLO AGAIN: “Okay, the Sept. 4 paper arrived in Denver today, Thursday the 12th. Eight days after publication. The flight from San Francisco to Denver takes less than four hours. So what happens to a bundle of newspapers in the rest of the time? This is a fine example of American Exceptionalism, a Sarah Palin-esque cliché that even Obama — normally articulate in his lies — has sunk to using. Putin correctly warned against this exceptionalism business. John McCain called that ‘an insult to intelligence of the American people.’ Huh? The only thing left is to recall Mencken: ‘Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public’.”

SAUL LANDAU, long-time friend and occasional contributor to the AVA died September 9, 2013 at his home in Alameda. AP accurately and, given that Saul was a radical, respectfully, wrote: “A prolific, award-winning documentary filmmaker who traveled the world profiling political leaders like Cuba's Fidel Castro and Chile's Salvador Allende and used his camera to draw attention to war, poverty and racism, has died. He was 77. Landau, who had been battling bladder cancer for two years, died Monday night at home in Alameda, Calif., with his children and grandchildren, said colleague John Cavanagh, director of the Institute for Policy Studies. The director, producer and writer of more than 40 documentaries had continued to work almost until his death. He regularly submitted essays to the Huffington Post and elsewhere, sometimes writing from his hospital bed, according to his son, Greg. He was also working on a documentary on homophobia in Cuba. Landau authored of 14 books. While most covered issues like radical politics, consumer culture and globalization, one of them, My Dad Was Not Hamlet, was a collection of poetry. His documentaries tackled a variety of issues, but each contained one underlying theme: reporting on a subject that was otherwise going largely unnoticed at the time, whether it was American ghetto life, the destruction of an indigenous Mexican culture or the inner workings of the CIA. “We tried to take on themes that nobody else was taking on and that were important,” Landau told the Associated Press in July. His most acclaimed documentary was likely 1979's Paul Jacobs and the Nuclear Gang, which examined the effects of radiation exposure to people living downwind from Nevada's above-ground nuclear bomb tests in the 1950s. The film received a George Polk Award for investigative reporting and other honors. It took its name from Landau's friend Paul Jacobs, who contracted cancer that he believed was caused by radiation exposure. He died before the film was completed. Landau told the AP one of the documentaries he was most proud of was The Sixth Sun: Mayan Uprising in Chiapas, which looked at the 1994 rebellion by the impoverished indigenous people of southern Mexico. Landau traveled to Chiapas to interview, among others, the masked revolutionary leader known as Subcommandante Marcos. His 1968 documentary Fidel gave U.S. audiences one of their earliest close-ups of the revolutionary leader who installed communism in Cuba. It came about after a brief meeting with Castro, who told Landau he had seen a news report he had done on Cuba the year before. 'He said he liked the film very much and asked me what my next film was going to be,' Landau recalled. 'I said, 'I'd like to do one on you.' In 1971, Landau and fellow filmmaker Haskell Wexler traveled to Chile for a rare U.S. interview with Allende, who had just been elected his country's president and who would die two years later in a military coup. Although he made more than three dozen films, Landau said he never set out to be a filmmaker. 'I didn't set out to be anything,' he said in July. 'I just fell into it.' Landau graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and after moving to San Francisco he was at various times a film distributor, author, playwright and member of the San Francisco Mime Troupe. Two of his earliest books, The New Radicals and To Serve The Devil (both co-written with Jacobs), led to his being approached by a San Francisco public television station that wanted a report on ghetto conditions in Oakland. The result was his first documentary, 1966's Losing Just The Same. A frequent commentator on radio and television in later years, Landau was also a professor emeritus at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, where he taught history and digital media.

FRED GARDNER WRITES: Remembering Saul Landau — Saul could tell a joke and make you laugh. I can't remember them, usually, but I remember this one (although I can’t tell it as well as he did the last time I saw him): There's three Texans in a private jet — two big men in Stetsons and a little Jewish guy. One of the Stetsons says “Y'all see that spread down there with the river running through it? That's my ranch — 40 square miles. We mainly raise American Angus but now I've got some fancy French Charolaises, we'll see how they work out. We've got about 10,000 acres in wheat. We call it the Lazy Q.” A little further on the second one says “Look down there — as far as you can see, that's my place. Takes up pretty much the whole county. We specialize in Jerseys and Morgan horses. We've got 30,000 acres in cotton and we call it the Big J.” After a while the Stetsons turn to the Jewish guy and one asks, “How bout you pardner — got any land?” The little Jewish guy says, “Off to the right, sixty acres.” Suppressing a smirk, a Stetson asks “And what do you call it?” The little Jewish guy says “Downtown Dallas.” Saul's father had a pharmacy in the Bronx. He told me his father had sold Cannabis tinctures prior to 1937, and considered the prohibition “much ado about nothing.” My brother-in-law, a worldly merchant marine who didn’t smoke the herb, once used the exact same phrase. And that’s it, the whole “issue” — much ado about nothing! Growing up in New York in the 1940s and '50s, Saul did not have to overcome any prejudices with regard to marijuana. He was so hip he could take it or leave it. The movie Saul made in 2006 about Syria ("Between Iraq and a Hard place") could not be more timely. I hope he got word, as he was leaving us, that the power of the people had staved off an air attack by the U.S., at least for a while. The pundits are saying that the American people are now “war weary.” They're trying to define and contain the deep wave of disaffection sweeping over the country. But we're more than war weary. People are finally looking critically at the rich/poor system. As Saul might put it, “U.S. imperialism has lost its working-class buy-in.” It took four generations from the end of world war two. I couldn't tell Saul (except in my head) a historical tidbit I came across last week in an essay by David Musto, MD. A century ago, an advocate of adding Cannabis to the list of drugs about to be banned under the Harrison Narcotic Act was Dr. William Jay Schieffelin of New York. He was, according to Musto, “prominent in the nation's social and political life as well as in his profession as the president of a wholesale drug house... Schieffelin believed cannabis was 'used only to a slight extent in this country,' but he heard that there was a demand for it in the 'Syrian colony in New York' where he thought it was smoked like prepared opium. He concluded, 'The evil is minute but it ought to be included in the bill.'“ The Institute of Policy studies website ran a beautiful picture of Saul, Harry and Shari Belafonte, and Fidel. BeyondTHC.com just posted the review of “Savages” that Saul wrote for O'Shaughnessy's. We’d decided to hold it for the next issue because he didn't think a review should give away the ending while the movie was still in the theaters, and I didn't think Oliver Stone's cop-out could be described without reference to the ending(s).

MENDO SUPES take on the Federal Reserve (and lose). At the August 27th meeting of the Supervisors, Jayson Schmitt, Senior Vice President and Mendocino Investment Portfolio Manager, Chandler Asset Management told our solons, “The Federal Reserve has talked about a target area in which it may reduce monetary accommodation at 6.5% so we are getting closer to that target. The Federal Reserve has now started to take maybe some measures, actually in their September meeting, of reducing some of this monetary accommodation. And what this is called is the taper. I’m sure that all of you have heard this on the news and things like that.”

THE SUPES promptly went into full Big Think mode.

SUPERVISOR DAN HAMBURG: “Monetary accommodation, that’s a very interesting term of art, sir.”

SCHMITT: [Laughs]

HAMBURG: “It really means running the printing presses.”

SUPERVISOR JOHN PINCHES: “They also call it quantitative easing.”

HAMBURG: “Quantitative easing.”

SCHMITT: [Laughs, nods.] “Quantitative easing.”

PINCHES: “But right here in Mendocino County we call it counterfeiting.”

SCHMITT: [Laughs.] “Some may have some different words for that. So I’m just using the vernacular. What we have going on today is basically a zero interest rate policy that has gone on now for three or four years. So all of you have probably earned basically zero on your savings account recently.”

HAMBURG: “If you get a loan it’s not zero.”

SCHMITT: “That’s true.”

HAMBURG: “I’d have to be a bank.”

SCHMITT: “This is true.”

HAMBURG: “If I were a bank I’d get 0%.”

SCHMITT: [Nods.] “This is true.”

HAMBURG: “But I’m not a bank, I’m a human.”

SCHMITT: “But what we have had actually is very low historical rates for consumers when you look at mortgage loans and things like that. The other thing that’s happening is quantitative easing. One of the things you pointed out was the printing press. I see now that the Federal Reserve now continues to buy $85 billion worth of securities.”

PINCHES: “A month.”

HAMBURG: “A month.”

SCHMITT: “A month. Correct. So what you have now is that they are buying about $40-$45 billion of US Treasuries and then $40-$45 million of US mortgage securities. What they are talking about doing now is reducing the amount of purchases that are going to happen. So what they are talking about doing is reducing those purchases, i.e., the monetary accommodation, but they are not talking about raising rates, i.e., the federal funds rate. So what we have seen is a reaction in the market and what that has been is a steepening of the yield curve so what you see is that at the very front end basically interest rates haven’t moved, as you go out further interest rates are definitely moving up, you can see that in mortgage securities today. Have you gone out and looked at mortgages recently? That’s only about 100 basis points higher, 1% higher, maybe even a little bit more. So we continue to see that so this is part of what the Federal Reserve is doing is they are starting to reduce that monetary accommodation and when they do that, that will start to push interest rates up, especially those longer term rates will happen first.” And it will all come apart, the entire global Ponzi.

IN 1863, Indians from throughout the upper Sacramento Valley were rounded up and force-marched west by soldiers, over the mountains to Covelo where the newly created reservation called Nome Cult, run by crooked federal appointees, awaited them. Of course many Indians died, especially women, children and the elderly who were force-marched as the soldiers rode horses and were well supplied. The 15th annual 100-mile Nome Cult Trail walk, a re-creation of the atrocity, began this week. Descendants of American Indians who took part in the original relocation and other supporters will walk from Chico to Covelo to commemorate the 147th anniversary of the trail, camping each night. Participants will descend into Round Valley on Wednesday, September 18th for an event sponsored by the Round Valley Indian Tribes at the Round Valley Reservation in Covelo. The theme for the walk and gatherings is “Honor Their Memory — A Path Not Forgotten.” For event information, contact Sandra Knight of Chico Mechoopda Tribe, 899-8922 ext. 213 or Alberta Azbill of Round Valley Indian Tribes, 707-983-6126 ext. 11.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Baseball is just about the best thing this country has going for it. We're all old ballplayers, aren't we? Who doesn't play baseball? How many girls play football? Is there anything better in the world than the World Series? — Pete Rose

RECOMMENDED READING: “Cool Gray City of Love — 49 Views of San Francisco” by Gary Kamiya. The title is famously from one of many bad poems written about The City, this one in 1920 by a poet pal of Jack London and Ambrose Bierce named George Sterling. But it's a perfect fit for this wonderful book, the best I've read on the place I consider my hometown, having arrived in 1941 among a convoy of Hawaii evacuees following Pearl Harbor. I've lived in SF off and on ever since. The City is cool and it's often gray, especially west of Masonic where it can go a thousand grays in the course of a few hours, and sometimes not gray at all at Baker Beach at the ocean's edge when it's socked-in gray clear down to the ball park. That gray is synonymous with the town, lending it the cool and, to my mind, much of its beauty in the way it filters the sunlight. I was out in it just today in the same area that beguiles me and the author in much the same way as we, and probably most people, stare for hours at the kaleidoscopic vistas presented by Lands End, the few square miles running west and north of Park Presidio, where California and San Francisco began. Kamiya manages, in his 49 views, to tell the story of this most beguiling of cities, from prehistoric times to the frenetic time we having going now.

AS KAMIYA emphasizes, San Francisco, unlike most cities, contains everything from some of the densest neighborhoods in the country to some startlingly wild places, most of them bordered by the old Sutro Baths to the west, the Presidio to the east. I often stop at the overlook above Baker Beach for one of a hundred exhilarating vistas limned by the Golden Gate Bridge to the east and, today, the Farallones in the deep west, the Marin Headlands to the north. Down the stairs and along the new trails above Marshall Beach, just east of Baker, seaside scene of nude parades, mostly male, and today, in the rip tides on the Honolulu side of the Bridge, a lone wind surfer, first one I've ever seen outside the Golden Gate. On ambitious walks I trek the sand stairs leading up and out of Baker Beach, but lately I prefer the trail on the bluffs east of Baker where, last week, a naked guy in running shoes burst out of the bushes about three feet in front of me and ran off downhill toward Marshall Beach. Startled as hell, I assumed a belated defensive position and, with no more nude projectiles imminent, walked on, out to the Bridge itself, then up through the Presidio and on home, noting as I went a whole new perspective on what I was seeing, all of it gained from this wonderful book.

IN ANOTHER ORPHIC announcement wafting out of the Mendocino County Superior Court this week, The Nine Robes inform us that their budget for fiscal year 2013-14 is a mere $7 million, give or take a few thou, to run its “countywide operations.”

THOSE “COUNTYWIDE OPERATIONS” consist of the County Courthouse in Ukiah and its unwanted stepchild, Ten Mile Court in Fort Bragg, a kind of judicial Siberia where The Robes sequester their corrupt (Lehan) and incompetent (Brennan) judges.

LAST NOVEMBER, The Robes claimed they lacked the funding for jury trials, felony hearings, hearings involving in-custody defendants or juvenile matters at Ten Mile. When the Coast rose up in mass complaint, The Robes suddenly found the money to fully operate Ten Mile, and we learn this week that the Court's 2013-14 budget contains a $1.2 million “carryover” from this fiscal year, indicating they had the money, and then some, for Ten Mile all along.

THE PRESS RELEASE concludes with this characteristically arrogant and utterly false paragraph: “Public comments on the budget are invited, but to be considered, they must be submitted by 4pm Tuesday (Sept. 17). Comments can be e-mailed to proposedbudget@mendocino.courts.ca.gov, or sent by mail to Superior Court of California, County of Mendocino, Attention: Court Administration, 100 N. State St., Ukiah, CA 95482.”

IN OTHER WORDS, you've got a week to get your comments in, assuming you even hear that comment is being solicited, and the odds of The Court paying the slightest attention to your remarks, let alone responding to them, are nil.

WE SENT IN THESE SUGGESTIONS: “For the first time in this century follow up with threats of legal action those Grand Jury reports that confirm mis and malfeasance in office; do not build a new courthouse for yourselves, especially one that serves only you but contains no space for other court-related functions; do not build a new courthouse at all but spend the $200-plus millions on a revamp of the Palace Hotel as additional court space, thus preserving, at least in outer contours, the sole remaining structure of any size in the Ukiah Valley that represents even a semblance of architectural grace; cut your salaries in half by donating the other half to a County Farm for habitual drunks and the many other chronic dependents you cynically continue to run through the legal system; re-assess your own numbers to find that we really need, at most, four full-time superior court judges while the rest of you hit the road for the even more lucrative job of ‘visiting judge,’ as some 30 of your cynical colleagues presently do.”

ANTONIA LAMB, the Mendocino Coast songwriter and astrologist, has died. Her best known song was a lament for the village of Mendocino, “Goodbye Mendocino,” as the town went over from a sleepy artist's colony to the turbo-charged industrial tourism it's known for today.

ON SEPTEMBER 13, 2013 at 7:47am the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Correctional Staff assigned to work Building One of the Mendocino County Adult Detention Facility entered the cell of an unresponsive male inmate. Deputies found 65-year-old Scott Joseph Smith unconscious and not breathing. Jail medical staff arrived a short time later and determined that Smith was deceased. Smith was housed with three other occupants of the cell. He had been housed at the facility since February 14, 2013 and was facing the charges of failure to appear and assault on a peace officer. The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office and the District Attorney's Office will conduct a thorough death investigation pursuant to standard policy and procedure. (Sheriff's Department press release)

STATEMENT OF THE DAY: An American friend who knows Washington well told us recently that “everybody” there knows that, as far as the drive to war with Syria is concerned, it is Israel that directs US policy. Why then, we replied, don’t opponents of war say it out loud, since, if the American public knew that, support for the war would collapse? Of course, we knew the answer to that question. They are afraid to say all they know, because if you blame the pro-Israel lobby, you are branded an anti-Semite in the media and your career is destroyed. One who had that experience is James Abourezk, former Senator from South Dakota, who has testified: “I can tell you from personal experience that, at least in the Congress, the support Israel has in that body is based completely on political fear — fear of defeat by anyone who does not do what Israel wants done. I can also tell you that very few members of Congress — at least when I served there — have any affection for Israel or for its lobby. What they have is contempt, but it is silenced by fear of being found out exactly how they feel. I’ve heard too many cloakroom conversations in which members of the Senate will voice their bitter feelings about how they’re pushed around by the lobby to think otherwise. In private one hears the dislike of Israel and the tactics of the lobby, but not one of them is willing to risk the lobby’s animosity by making their feelings public.” Abourezk added: “The only exceptions to that rule are the feelings of Jewish members, who, I believe, are sincere in their efforts to keep US money flowing to Israel. But that minority does not a US imperial policy make.” — Jean Bricmont / Diana Johnstone, “The People Against the 800 Pound Gorilla” (CounterPunch)

A READER WRITES: “Will Parish happens to be a great writer and a fairly tireless researcher, but seemingly incapable of objectivity when it comes to analyzing the material he has gathered, particularly if it does not line up with the story he wants to write. No doubt the Willits Bypass is a huge boondoggle, in the way that all big government mega projects are. Seriously, though, aren't you getting just a little tired of the patented (and thoroughly futile) “look at me first” style of opposition to the Willits bypass? The only noticeable effect is to squander additional public funds and further divide the community. If Bob Whitney and the Drells give a bleep about the environment, why aren't they looking into the sewer plant that is leaking a million gallons or so of wastewater into the environment? The sewer ponds leak like a sieve. Right into the high water table of Little Lake Valley.

“IT LOOKS LIKE the County did issue the permit for the old mill site in error, but what is the effect of the “victory” won by the Willits Environmental Center and Keep The Code? Instead of bringing the dirt from about a mile away, it is being brought from the south end of the project, adding way more truck miles, way more wear and tear on city streets, way more trucking expense, etcetera. But wait — it gets better. Because there is doubt about the ability to get approval for the mill site in time for next construction season, the contractor will be forced to clear cut seven acres of Oil Well Hill, even without knowing they will need it. So either the seven acres will get clear cut and the extraction not take place, or we will get both the clear cut and the extraction, and more truck miles traveled and more green house gases, etcetera. A few more victories for the environment like that and we will be in really great shape.”

THE UKIAH VALLEY SANITATION DISTRICT has filed a formal claim against the City of Ukiah for $16 million going back to the 1960s. According to the claim, filed last Friday (September 6), the City of Ukiah has been knowingly miscalculating the number of sewer connections in the City vs. the number of sewer connections outside the City (aka the District) which determines the percentage of sewer system costs allocated to the Sanitation District since late December 1966. According to the claim, the miscalculation is primarily caused by skewed “projections” showing an inflated number of future sewer connections in the District which were never recalculated and corrected to reflect the actual (lower) number of connections as called for in the agreement between the District and the City. According to the agreement between the Sanitation District and the City, not only does the City of Ukiah operate the Ukiah Valley sewer system and the treatment plant, but Ukiah also does the books for the system, including the Sanitation District’s books. This in turn would have increased the costs for the Sanitation District which, although not stated directly in the claim, caused increased sewage service costs to ratepayers outside the City of Ukiah.

WHY DID THE PROBLEM FESTER for so long? According to the claim, prior to 2008 the Sanitation District Board was made up of three appointees, two from the Board of Supervisors and one from the Ukiah City Council who, presumably, didn’t take an interest in the annual allocations — projected or actual — of sewer connections which increasingly favored the city over time. Then in 2008, the Sanitation District was reorganized into a five-member elected board and that “independent” board began looking into the sewer connection allocations only to be stonewalled by the City of Ukiah which, the claim alleges, which refused to provide the Independent Board and staff with access to the sewer system books — “even though numerous requests have been made.” The Claim says that Ukiah told the District that the records were “lost or otherwise destroyed,” even though the City had a fiduciary duty to maintain them.

THE CLAIM alleges that the annual reviews and re-allocations as called for the in City-District agreement which would have corrected the projected number of non-City (District) connections to the actual number of non-City (District) connections were never conducted, and therefore the ratio of City-to-District hook-ups was skewed in favor of Ukiah, costing the Sanitation District millions of dollars over the years, most of it accrued since the 90s.

THE CLAIM ALSO ALLEGES that the City has overbilled the Sanitation District for the District’s share of the big $75 million sewer system/treatment plant expansion project in the mid-90s, based on a similarly skewed calculation of sewer hookups.

A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO, former conservative County Supervisor (and former LA cop) Frank McMichael resigned his job as Executive Director of the Local Area Formation Commission (LAFCo) and was re-hired as manager of the Sanitation District. The timing of the Sanitation District’s claim against Ukiah strongly implies that the no-nonsense Mr. McMichael may be the engine driving the claim, a claim which may well become a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the city if or when the claim is denied by the City.

IF THE CLAIM/LAWSUIT ever goes to trial (which we doubt — a more likely outcome is a long-drawn-out partial settlement) the public may be treated to a dirty laundry list of minor Ukiah officials and senior staff trying to explain that whatever sewer mess may have been created, it’s somebody else’s fault — somebody who’s conveniently long gone.

IF THE CLAIM turns out to be true, it means that Ukiah has been using the Sanitation District and its ratepayers as a slush fund to backfill the City's budget deficits for years (whether intentional or not remains to be proven), in a manner similar to the way they used redevelopment money, but which stopped when the State of California put an end to redevelopment a couple of years ago.

IN FRANK HARTZELL'S fine story on Little River's famous Heritage House inn and restaurant in last week's Advocate-Beacon, Hartzell quotes the new manager that the Heritage House — 37 carefully maintained rhododendron gardens overlooking the Pacific — will be at least partially re-opened this fall. Which is now. “We want to bring the Heritage House back so that it will once again be a draw for this spectacular area,” said Denis G. Ferguson, Heritage House Resort and Spa general manager.

WE HOPE Ferguson is right, but we've received calls from people working on the inn complaining that their checks are bouncing. A purported Florida billionaire, Jeff Greene, has gone through several managers since he bought the property in March 2012. But according to Hartzell, “This April, Greene hired the Love Hotel Management Group of St. Louis to manage the property. Ferguson works for Love, which is headed up by banker and international financier Laurence Schiffer.” Ferguson says the rejuvenated inn will offer 30 rooms from $175 and up and will employ 60 people.

GREENE paid $8 million for the place in March of 2012. He occasionally flies in and out of Little River Airport in a private jet to check on his enterprise. He apparently made lots of money in LA real estate development and credit default swaps, one of several new financial devices that led to the economic crash of 2008. Natch, Greene is a liberal of sorts. He ran unsuccessfully in a primary for the US Senate out of Florida.

HERITAGE'S closing in 2008 coincided with the crash of 2008. The Dennen family had successfully operated the inn for many years when they sold their business in 1998 to the mayor of San Diego and her sister, Mavoureen O’Connor, for about $10 million. Then a pair of funny money boys, David Wilk and Duane Werb, organized as a partnership called Lantana LLC paid $26.5 million for the enterprise with a German bank eventually loaning these broke guys $30 million on a business that hardly generates the kind of dough that could ever pay off $50 mil. The bank, not surprisingly, went broke and had to be bailed out by the German government, i.e., the German people. Where the money actually went is anybody's guess. Even slumbering Mendo roused itself at the sight and sound of all the funny money flying around the inn and moved to indict Wilk when an “unnamed octogenarian” stepped up to pay his Mendo taxes.

MAUREEN O'CONNOR was once mayor of San Diego. She married R.O. Peterson, founder of Jack In The Box. In the early 1980s, O'Connor and her husband bought several properties on the Mendocino Coast, including the Mendocino Hotel and, as mentioned, the Heritage House. Peterson set up a large charitable foundation valued at a cool billion before he died a decade ago. His widow hit the bottle and the on-line gambling sites, diverting many millions from her late husband's charity to pay her losses. She was indicted in San Diego for these swindles but not prosecuted when she made a deal to pay the money back.

‘CHILI BILL’ EICHINGER has died. A very good writer whose work we were always pleased to publish, Bill was well known in San Francisco and beyond — famous as a bartender at Finnegan's Wake, famous as a raconteur, famous as the guy whose goal it was to eat at every Chinese restaurant in San Francisco. (He got to 415 of them.) Bill headed west in '67, the Summer of Love, and never looked back, arriving in the city with no money, one of thousands of lively, adventurous people to land here that pivotal year. He made a good life for himself in his new hometown, and certainly enlivened those of everyone he met here. We're re-running a few of his stories as a kind of commemoration in honor of a person we admired.

ANDY CAFFREY, the Garberville-based enviro and marijuana activist, has announced he will again run for Congress in the 2014 elections. Caffrey drew national attention when he appeared on several national television shows during his 2012 run as one of two pot candidates. Jared Huffman went on to Congress while progressive Democrat Norman Solomon was knocked out of the general election in the primary election by the combined vote of other mainstream Democrat candidates, the two pot candidacies of Caffrey and Courtney, and the vanity candidacy of John Lewallen. Huffman went on to face a sacrificial Marin Republican whom Huffman trounced in the general election. Solomon, if he had succeeded in forcing Huffman into a runoff, both the conservative liberals of the Northcoast and the Clintonian national Democrats would have been forced into a showdown over party principles, as in, Are Democrats going to continue as Republican Lites or return to making life better for the overwhelming majority of Americans.

PERSONNEL DEPARTMENT: Tim Stoen, closing in on retirement age, is the DA's prosecutor at Ten Mile Court, Fort Bragg. He's closing in on retirement age, hence the looming appointment of Kevin Davenport as Stoen’s Number 2 man at Ten Mile. Davenport worked for the late Norm Vroman before moving to Portland.

A COURTLY FELLOW well into his golden years, Stoen famously once served as attorney for Jim Jones, simultaneously functioning as Mendocino County Counsel. Jones himself was foreman of the County's grand jury one year. Stoen's pre-school son was essentially kidnapped by Jones and taken to Guyana when the Temple departed San Francisco for the Guyanese jungle. The child was among the murdered in the infamous Jonestown massacre.

STOEN'S degree of involvement with the People's Temple has always been the subject of much speculation, most recently in the best selling “Season of the Witch” by David Talbot where Talbot writes about Stoen's work for both the People's Temple and the San Francisco DA, strongly suggesting that Stoen, from inside the SF DA's office, sabbed a voter fraud investigation after George Moscone was narrowly elected mayor over the much more conservative John Barbagelata. Peoples Temple, by then synonymous with the Democratic Party in SF and at the national level, had worked to turnout the vote for Moscone.

WE'VE ALWAYS REGARDED Stoen as a tragic figure. He'd left the Temple when it had become obvious that Jones was crazy. He lost his family to Jones when his wife, Grace, left him, and then both he and Grace lost their son to Jones in that terrible hour of mass murder. One has to admire the man's resilience, his courage, in not only returning to Mendocino County where Jones, with a big assist from local officials, grew too big for Mendo and had set out to conquer Frisco, which he soon did. We hope the man has achieved a measure of peace.

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