Mendocino County Today: September 25, 2013

by AVA News Service, September 24, 2013

JUST IN: Judge Ann Moorman today (Tuesday) denied DA David Eyster’s motion to have Will Parrish jailed for allegedly violating the conditions of his bail on pending charges. The new charge of trespass occurred last Wednesday when Parrish was arrested across 101, far from a tree sit extraction conducted by CHP officers. Parrish was present in his capacity as AVA reporter. The judge said Parrish will not have to serve any jail time or post bail again before his trial, but emphasized that he is not permitted to come within 100 yards of any fence that is designated as part of the Willits Bypass construction; he had been required to remain 100 yards from any area where construction is underway. Moorman said she considered this requirement of Parrish was the intent of the original stay-away order. Parrish's trial has been set for November 12th in Courtroom B.

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SEIU “LOCAL” 1021, based in Oakland, but representing the largest group of Mendocino County employees, staged a one day strike Tuesday with hundreds of employees in Social Services, the Department of Transportation and a number of other SEIU work sites participating in the strike. Some offices were relatively unaffected, with others operating with skeleton crews. Still others closed for the day, including some of the libraries. Most of the attorneys in the DA and Public Defender’s office, represented by the Teamsters, are reported to have also walked off the job in sympathy if not solidarity. Some of the offices that were forced to close posted signs saying “Office closed due to SEIU strike” just in case  anyone was unsure about who to blame. For their part, SEIU is blaming County CEO Carmel Angelo, portrayed by union reps as the Darth Vader of labor relations, and the Board of Supervisors, who they blame for “failing to provide leadership” by order Angelo to restore the 10% wage cut imposed a couple of years ago.

THE SEIU SCRIPT WRITERS are so out of touch they are alleging Angelo “consolidated power in 2010 by changing the model from the more democratic Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) to the CEO model.” The merits of a CAO vs. a CEO aside, that change was made about eight years ago, long before 2010 and long before Angelo came to Mendocino County. But those are the kind of dumb mistakes (like showing up to protest the County budget the day after adoption) that are inevitable when SEIU central in Oakland is calling all the shots and assigning the reps. Where is Joe Louis Wildman when you need him? At least Wildman knew the County offices and managers and was involved in grievances. Even Mother Linda McClure (now retired to the outskirts of Boonville) provided better representation than the faceless parade of labor rep wannabes who are shuffled in and outtahere before anyone can learn their name. For a cool half million or so in union dues per year, you would think the locals would at least get a say in who to hire for their local rep. Add a day’s lost wages ($100-$200 typically) for the one day strike and you might wonder just exactly what it is the members are getting in return for their dues.

THE ONE DAY STRIKE aside, labor negotiations are unfolding in the inevitable slo-mo train wreck predicted months ago in these pages. In a replay from two years ago, both sides are charging bad faith and accusing one another of refusing to bargain. SEIU seems to be sticking with the same script from two years ago of demonizing the CEO and the Supes, failing to acknowledge the County’s still-precarious finances, and appealing without success to get the public to take their side. When the County cut wages 10% a couple of years ago to balance the budget, the Supes were faced with declining revenue and sharply increased retirement and healthcare costs, which is still more or less true. The alternative to the 10% pay cut, then and now, would mean laying off another 10% of the workforce, a workforce already depleted by previous budget cuts, many of them forced when state and federal grant funding went away. The County has something over 1,000 employees and would need to lay off over 100 people to get the same savings as the 10% wage cut. But any layoffs would result in decreased service to the public and increased stress for the remaining employees. But SEIU says the County has unspecified “hidden pots of gold” at the end of the County's budget rainbow, and is demanding restoration of the 10% pay cut.

SEIU ISSUED A FLYER headlined “One Union — One Strike” that called on its members from Santa Rosa and points south to “Sign Up for the Mendo STRIKE Bus!” The bus left Oakland with stops in Fairfield and Santa Rosa before arriving in Mendo around 11am. SEIU was calling on its local members to show up for the picket line at 6am, presumably in an effort to force earlybirds to cross a picket line if they chose to go to work. The fact that the SEIU honchos in Oakland felt compelled to bus in strikers from all over the Bay Area displays some uncertainty on their part about the resolve and breadth of the local members to follow their lead. The strike flyer also touted “Mend Mendocino,” the so-called “coalition of residents, community and business leaders formed by SEIU to address real economic recovery and to advocate for affordable food, healthcare and housing for all residents.” Except there is no community coalition since Mend Mendocino was created out of whole cloth by the SEIU shot callers in Oakland.

THE MEND MENDOCINO/SEIU plan for economic recovery for Mendocino County is simple: Mendocino County, as the largest local employer, should increase wages 10%, thereby pumping money into the local economy, thereby stimulating local economic recovery, thereby replenishing the County's coffers. Except Mendocino County does not have the luxury of going millions in debt to fund a local version of quantitative easing. Back of the envelope numbers: the County payroll is in the ballpark of $100 million (a number we have heard bandied about), so a 10% pay raise across the board would cost the County $10 million. Assuming the entire increase is spent on taxable sales and even if all the dollars circulate through the county seven times, and every dollar gets spent on taxable goods every time, that still only equals a 7% return to the county. Which means only $700,000 of the original $10 million “investment” would be returned to the County. A recovery plan like that would wipe out the relatively meager reserve built up in the last couple of years (meager compared to the $100 million-plus unfunded retirement obligation still facing the County).

AS PREVIOUSLY REPORTED, the County has declared that labor negotiations are at an “impasse” and called for an outside mediator to help the squabbling parties reach an agreement. Predictably, SEIU claimed they weren't done bargaining yet and that the declaration of impasse was illegally premature. Except the two sides are so far apart and lacking in common sense that agreement between the two parties is highly unlikely. Unlike two years ago when SEIU was faced with cuts, stalling now will only delay implementing whatever increase in wages or benefits the County might be able to offer if negotiations were resumed.

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A FEW WEEKS AGO, we ran an item about Mendocino County's first and only NBA basketball player and, so far as I'm aware, the only Native American to make it into the ranks of the best in the world.

PhilJordanPhil Jordan, of Wylackie descent, was born in Lakeport but played his high school ball at Willits High School, then at Whitworth College in Washington. Phil at 6'10” and quite agile, starting at Willits High School in the early 1950s? The jump shot was probably still unknown in the County at that time; I'd suppose Phil was a fairly dominating court presence in Mendo, circa '52. He went on to play for several NBA teams over a seven-year career, and died prematurely in a boating accident at age 31. A local sports guy saw the item about Jordan and told us that the dominant female hoopster at Ukiah High a few years ago, Lisa Jordan, is related to Phil Jordan, and that there are Jordans in Talmage and Covelo who are also related to Mendocino County's most illustrious basketball player.

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BELLIGERENT NOTE from a reader demands: “What is the best Chinese restaurant in Mendocino County? If you don't know, ask your readers.” And “What is the real reason Republicans are so opposed to Obamacare? The media are too chickenshit to tell us.”

HMMM. As a dual citizen of Anderson Valley and San Francisco, I eat Chinese food in San Francisco, not Mendocino County. As for Republicans and ObamaCare, let me guess: I'd say it's partly the ongoing outrage among Republicans that a black man is functioning as president, and partly the old fear among the wealthy, as now represented by Republicans and Democrats, who are also now interchangeable on the big issues, that ObamaCare gives Americans a semi-government sponsored benefit they might get used to. Republicans were shocked to their silks by FDR's New Deal that established Social Security and other basic civilized amenities like Medicare. They called it socialism, like they call everything socialism that take the bumps out of life. Unlimited money for the military is not socialism because, well, because it kills our enemies, who are everyone in the world not like Republicans. Take away Social Security and Medicare and Americans would riot from sea to shining sea. I think ObamaCare won't work because most people won't be able to afford it, and what's with a mandatory government program that forces people to buy private insurance with big deductibles and all kinds of other fine print swindles? Which is what happens when insurance companies get to write health care law. This isn't ObamaCare, it's BlueCrossCare. We need single payer health insurance for everyone in the country, which we could get right now by simply expanding MediCare to include everyone. Of course we aren't about to get universal health care because both political parties are owned by the insurance combines. I've done my best here to answer your questions. I hope you won't think I'm chickenshit if I answered wrong.

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SPORTS NOTES: Functional strength. Watching the Giants play decently on their last road trip of the year (a seven day trip to the Big Apple) two things were obvious: San Francisco needs to re-sign Hunter Pence as their everyday right fielder. Pence runs like a Rube Goldberg device: all elbows and knees and fissures and gasps. But he’s deceptively fast and can motor. He throws like a girl (pardon the sexism), but makes strong, accurate throws. What’s the secret for a guy who led the league in nailing cheeky baseruners as a Houston Astro in 2009? According to Pence, it’s lower-body and core-strengthening exercises like back squats, seated rows, and single leg Romanian deadlifts with medicine ball. (The AVA training staff prefers single leg Bulgarian deadlifts with bowling balls.) A workout and nutrition freak, Pence says the secret to his cannon-like arm strength is his ability to initiate force from the ground, transfer it through his trunk and apply it to throwing the baseball. Add Pence’s “win one for the Gipper” speech when the Giants were two games down to the Reds in last year’s improbably divine march to a second world championship (not counting rest of the world), and you have a keeper.

THE NOT NECESSARILY-SECOND GUY we need to sign is Tim Lincecum. Barry Bonds’ gonzo shattering of every home run record on earth may have planted the seed of SF’s downtown stadium, but it was The Freak’s 98-mile an hour tailing fastballs, sphincter-exploding curves, counter culture long hair, and commitment to the medicinal marijuana movement that makes him our version of the Elgin Marbles. True, he’s lost some giddy-up on his hummer, no longer dominates batters, and has struggled as he adjusts his pitching style to (as John Kerry might say with a straight face) “new global realities.” But he rewarded our love with a no hitter, and looked sharp against the Yankees. Keep Lincecum and the club keeps its heart, soul and hoodie. That said, look for overrated GM Brian Sabean to let The Freak go to the Dodgers or Red Sox while using the money “saved” on a 33 year old utility infielder who hit 11 home runs in an injury plagued year for the Twins. Sabean will mumble something about “flexibility” and “dependability” and all those kindred marketspeak vomit globules that are ruining sports just as they’ve ruined the less fun part of America. Oakland would be Lincecum’s only destination that wouldn’t break me (though given the 49ers’ recent struggles, there’s not much left of me to destroy).

SPEAKING of the profane, what was up with a mediocre Colts defense slapping around the once stout SF run defense? Has Harbaugh lost the team? When will all-pro defensive end, sack master and habitual car-crasher Aldon Smith come back from rehab? It better not be longer than three weeks, or this season will go south faster than a Mexican thug out on bail. At this point, the Niners should move poets of chaos* and ex-SF greats Charles Haley and Fred Dean in with Aldon to keep the youngster in line, i.e., getting drunk on smashing QBs on Sundays instead of Purple Drank, calling a cab when blitzed, and charging at least $10 bucks to come to their parties (red plastic keg cup included, but bring your own knives and guns). Still, with all the hand-wringing from local fans and journalists, you’d have thought Smith used sarin gas on Girl Scouts and/or AIPAC. He got drunk. He ran into a tree. On his way to practice. In other words, just another Tuesday night in Willits. Get well, Aldon. You might get some snaps at wide receiver when you come back. Also, you need to play in the league at least five years before you can go Cruisin’ with the Tooz. — ZA

*As was Kenny Stabler’s habit, I turn to poetry in times of trouble.

Here’s Vera Pavlova on conversing with greats.

To converse with the greats

by trying their blindfolds on;

to correspond with books

by rewriting them;

to edit holy edicts,

and at the midnight hour

to talk with the clock by tapping a wall

in the solitary confinement of the universe.

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ON SEPTEMBER 18 and 19, 2013 Deputies from the County of Mendocino Marijuana Eradication Team (COMMET) assisted by Cannabis Eradication Reclamation Team (CERT), Wardens from California Department of Fish and Wildlife and officers from the Mendocino County Probation Department conducted a series of marijuana related raids in the Branscomb Road/Wilderness Lodge Road area of Branscomb. Two search warrants were served on rural parcels of property in the Branscomb area. At one of the search warrant locations, Brian Cole was encountered. Located at this location were 201 large marijuana plants and approximately 60 pounds of processed marijuana. Cole was arrested and booked into the Mendocino County jail were he was subsequently released after posting $25,000 bail. Located at the second search warrant location were 785 marijuana plants that were being grown in greenhouses. No suspects were located at the second search warrant location and the case is currently under investigation by COMMET. At a third location an illegal water diversion was discovered. The water was being taken off of private timberlands and being diverted to a private parcel that was using the water to grow 153 marijuana plants. This incident is currently under investigation by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for prosecution. An additional 1,531 marijuana plants and 150 pounds of processed marijuana were located and eradicated from open field locations in the area. These marijuana grows are currently under investigation by COMMET. (Sheriff’s Press Release)

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ON SEPTEMBER 19, 2013 at approximately 12:25am, Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies initiated a traffic enforcement stop on a vehicle for a registration violation at the intersection of North Highway 1 and Little Lake Road in Mendocino. Upon initial contact with the two occupants of the vehicle, Deputies observed a large trash bag in the rear seat containing marijuana. Deputies also smelled an overwhelming odor of marijuana emitting from within the vehicle.

Coronado, Tisdale

Coronado, Tisdale

The driver Jesus Coronado, 35, of Ukiah, and passenger Martha Tisdale, 22, also of Ukiah, were directed to exit the vehicle and Deputies conducted a search of the vehicle for marijuana. Deputies located four separate trash bags, all of which contained marijuana bud. Deputies arrested Coronado and Tisdale and seized the marijuana found in their possession which had a total combined field gross weight of 65-pounds. Coronado and Tisdale were transported to the Mendocino County Jail where they were booked on marijuana for sale and transportation of marijuana charges. Both were to be held in lieu of $50,000 bail. (Sheriff’s Press Release)

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ON SEPTEMBER 21, 2013 at approximately 1:15am, Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies executed a search warrant for stolen property at a residence located in the 14000 block of Prairie Way in Mendocino. During that search a vehicle was located and confirmed to be reported stolen out of the city of Willits.

Eder

Eder

Bo Eder, 33, of Fort Bragg, was present at the location during the execution of the search warrant and was found in possession of a modified “bump” style key and a concealed fixed bladed knife. Deputies were able to determine that the “bump” style key easily worked the ignition switch to the stolen vehicle. Several individuals present at the search warrant scene were interviewed and their statements showed Eder had been in possession of the stolen vehicle for almost two months. Eder was arrested for Theft of Vehicle, Possession of Stolen Property, Possession of Burglary Tools, and Possession of Dirk or Dagger and transported to the Mendocino County Jail where he was booked and held in lieu of $15,000 bail. (Sheriff’s Press Release)

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OBAMA’S JUSTICE DEPARTMENT’S BRAZEN DISREGARD FOR THE FIRST AMENDMENT

Trumpeting a New Victory in War on Freedom of the Press

by Norman Solomon

There’s something profoundly despicable about a Justice Department that would brazenly violate the First and Fourth Amendments while spying on journalists, then claim to be reassessing such policies after an avalanche of criticism — and then proceed, as it did this week, to gloat that those policies made possible a long prison sentence for a journalistic source.

Welcome to the Obama Justice Department.

While mouthing platitudes about respecting press freedom, the president has overseen methodical actions to undermine it. We should retire understated phrases like “chilling effect.” With the announcement from Obama’s Justice Department on Monday, the thermometer has dropped below freezing.

You could almost hear the slushy flow of public information turning to ice in the triumphant words of the U.S. attorney who led the investigation after being handpicked by Attorney General Eric Holder: “This prosecution demonstrates our deep resolve to hold accountable anyone who would violate their solemn duty to protect our nation’s secrets and to prevent future, potentially devastating leaks by those who would wantonly ignore their obligations to safeguard classified information.”

Translation: This prosecution shows the depth of our contempt for civil liberties. Let this be a lesson to journalists and would-be leakers alike.

Audibly on the chopping block are provisions in the Bill of Rights such as “freedom … of the press” and “no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

The Obama administration’s pernicious goal is to normalize circumstances where journalists can’t credibly promise confidentiality, and potential leakers don’t believe they can have it. The broader purpose is to destroy independent journalism — which is to say, actual journalism — which is to say, freedom of the press.

Impacts are crystal clear to just about any journalist who has done reporting that’s much more than stenographic services for official government and corporate sources. When unofficial sources are choked off, not much is left other than the Official Story.

The Official Story is routinely somewhere between very selective and mendacious. A case in point, ironically enough, is the Justice Department’s righteous announcement that the prison term for the leaker of information to The Associated Press reflected the Department’s “deep resolve to hold accountable anyone who would violate their solemn duty to protect our nation’s secrets.”

“Hold accountable anyone”? (Laugh, scream or cry; take your pick.)

Like others before it, the Obama administration has made a frequent practice of leaking classified “secrets” to media outlets — when its calculus is that revealing those secrets will make the administration look good. Of course in those cases the Justice Department doesn’t bother to track down the leakers.

Such extreme hypocrisy in high places has become so normalized that major media outlets often seem completely inured to it.

Hours after the Justice Department’s announcement on Monday that its surveillance of AP phone records had resulted in a lengthy prison sentence, the PBS “NewsHour” did not devote a word to it. Perhaps the program could not find a few seconds to shave off the lengthy beach-ball interview that Judy Woodruff conducted with former President Clinton.

To the top echelons of quasi-journalistic enterprises that are bankrolled by corporate advertisers and underwriters, the disappearance of confidentiality — along with routine violations of the First and Fourth Amendments — might hardly matter. Official sources flood the media zone.

But the New York Times coverage should have given attentive readers indigestion over breakfast Tuesday: “A former F.B.I. agent has agreed to plead guilty to leaking classified information to The Associated Press about a foiled bomb plot in Yemen last year … Federal investigators said they were able to identify the man, Donald Sachtleben, a former bomb technician, as a suspect in the leak case only after secretly obtaining AP reporters’ phone logs, a move that set off an uproar among journalists and members of Congress of both parties when it was disclosed in May.”

The Times added: “Sachtleben … has agreed to serve 43 months in prison for the leak, the Justice Department said. His case is the eighth leak-related prosecution under the Obama administration. Only three such cases were prosecuted under all previous presidents.”

How did the Justice Department catch Sachtleben in the first place? By seizing records of calls on more than 20 phone lines used by Associated Press reporters over a two-month period.

This is more than a chilling effect on the First Amendment; it’s an icy wind, threatening to put real freedom of the press into a deep freeze. Journalists — and the rest of us — should respond with outraged opposition.

(Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” Information about the documentary based on the book is at www.WarMadeEasyTheMovie.org.)

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