The Best & The Worst Of Mendocino County, 2013
by AVA News Service, January 1, 2014
ABSENTEE OF THE YEAR: Winter. Where did it go? 2013 was the driest year in Mendocino County ever.
MIA OF THE YEAR. Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster for his failure to prosecute Dr. Peter Keegan for the murder of his wife, Susan Keegan. Mrs. Keegan was found bludgeoned to death in her Ukiah home more than three years ago. The only other person present when she died was her husband of 30 years. The death certificate reads "Homicide."
PARTY GIRL OF THE YEAR: Miss Tracy Cox of Ukiah, along for the ride in two high speed chases in as many years, the second involving gun play, as she and fun loving rover boys, Walter Miller and Chris Skaggs, twice fled the police.
PARTY GUYS OF THE YEAR: Having downed all the wine at a Testa Winery (Calpella) event, the party moved drunkenly by golf carts between the winery and nearby Club Calpella. The upshot? A mini-riot involving drunk yuppies, loads of cops, the freeing of one drunk from police custody and numerous charges piled on Rusty Martinson and James Thompson by the cops. Because these boys are well-heeled and well-connected, prosecution has remained since September, "under consideration."
BEST CALENDAR OF 2013: Oaky Joe & The Grape Ape Girls.
A SPECIAL MISS MANNERS AWARD for Public Defender Linda Thompson. Ms. Thompson failed to attend services or otherwise acknowledge the deaths of long time public defenders Tom Croak and Bert Schlosser. The late Mr. Croak worked for Ms. Thompson, Schlosser for many years worked out the Alternate Public Defender's Office. (Keep it classy, Linda!)
CRACKPOT OF THE YEAR AWARD to Supervisor Dan Hamburg for the craziest statement made by an elected public official ever for this October 29th statement Hamburg delivered to his fellow nutballs on the MCN ListServe:
"I’m on record re 9/11. ‘The New Pearl Harbor' by Massimo Mazzucco, merely provides further confirmation that 9/11 was a shameless and unspeakably evil hoax perpetrated on the American people and the world. Perhaps most interesting in the Mazzucco documentary is the technical information that explains why the two hijacked planes couldn't have been flown into the WTC buildings at the speed they were traveling. Turns out that when a plane is flying near the ground it must drastically reduce speed or it starts to come apart because of increased air resistance. The planes that hit those buildings were replacements. Quotes from aeronautical engineers at Boeing seal the deal here. Part of the horror of this scam is that they offloaded passengers and forced them to “call home” on their cell phones and read prepared statements. That's how we got the fiction behind ‘Let's roll.’ (Latest ‘Loose Change’ [an earlier conspiracy film] reports that Cleveland Airport was evacuated that morning due to ‘terrorist threats’ and that the news media reported that Flight 93 landed there and offloaded passengers to a cleared building.) At the end of one of the recorded cellphone calls (which, you recall, could not have been made from the hijacked plane's reported altitude), a flight attendant whispers ‘it's a frame.’ The cabal didn't notice this. The financial report is devastating. Turns out part of the motive was 220 billion in bogus Russian bonds. Web savvy people have written several articles about YouTube suddenly zeroing out viewing statistics on controversial 911 videos. And the one on ‘911 & Operation Northwoods’ has just plain old disappeared. Dan."
WITTIEST CREATIVE WRITING of the year: Holly Tannen for this parody of MCN ListServe conversations:
"For those of you who were unable to read every post on the 2013 Repercussion-list, here is a recap of the major conversations.
POSTER #1. Blah blah blah blah government blah blah blah blah assholes.
POSTER #2. R U CRAZY?! U don't know what ur talking about.
POSTER #1. Blah blah blah Obama blah blah Bush blah blah.
POSTER #2. Go back to Rhode Island, ur an idiot.
POSTER #3. Your conversation doesn't belong on this list.
POSTER #2. Mind ur own business, troll face.
POSTER #4. Anyone got any good seaweed recipes?
POSTER #5. Blah blah blah blah Julian blah.
POSTER #6. All the seaweed is radioactive from Baja to the San Juans!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
POSTER #3. WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE?
POSTER #6. STOP SCREAMING!!!
POSTER #1. Blah blah blah blah government blah blah them blah Cheney blah blah.
POSTER #6. Can't we just love each other? We're all One in the sight of God.
POSTER #2. I'm not.
POSTER #3. SOMEONE DO SOMETHING ABOUT THESE F*CKING TROLLS!
POSTER #7. Macerated seal brains?
POSTER #6. The Universe is perfect and everything is evolving towards the Greater Good.
POSTER #2. I'm going to puke. (Pukes)
POSTER #4. Blah blah blah blah blah Fukishima blah blah tunafish.
POSTER #2. I'm posting a video of what u did to those parakeets.
POSTER #1. Blah blah Constitution blah blah blah patriot blah deluded.
POSTER #6. Hummingbirds! Migrating whales! All One!"
MOST PROMISING POLITICAL ROOKIE of the year: Steve Scalmanini appointed to the Ukiah City Council.
OUTDOORSMEN OF THE YEAR: Larry Whetman, 39, of Willits. Lar told his fiance he was going out back to feed the horses but kept on walking west on the Skunk tracks 25 miles to Fort Bragg, showing up in a FB church the next day where he told police he was preparing to walk back to Willits same way he'd come. And Gene Penaflor, 72, one tough senior citizen, who spent 18 days lost in the Mendocino National Forest, surviving on bugs and lizards, finally emerging tired but otherwise unharmed.
UNINDICTED FELONS OF THE YEAR: Mendocino County Children's Protective Services and the Mendocino County Superior Court for placing an infant in the tweeker home of Fort Bragg's Josh Tubbs where Tubbs beat the child to death.
MENDOCINO COUNTY'S best booze: Perennial winners Germain Robin, Ukiah, and Boonville Beer, Boonville.
I TOLD YA SO AWARD OF THE YEAR: Supervisor Johnny Pinches for warning inland Mendo that water policy was seriously deficient, especially Mendo's skewed deal with Sonoma County that gives SoCo almost all Mendo's water for nothing despite a contractual agreement to pay for it.
DUMBEST ATTORNEYS, perennial winners. A toss-up between the Mendocino County Counsel's office and the Santa Rosa-based School and College Legal Services. The latter advise most, if not all, Mendocino County's school districts, charging exorbitant retainers and fees for their unfailingly errant advice. The former does nothing at all, contracting out routine matters like labor negotiations to private attorneys. Except for Terry Gross, a rare mix of brains and charm, especially in that office, especially in Mendocino County. Why she isn't County Counsel remains a mystery.
MENDOCINO COUNTY'S female officeholders of the year: Madge Strong of the Willits City Council and Erica Lemons of the Anderson Valley School Board. The articulate Ms. Strong takes consistently intelligent public stands while Ms. Lemons, in the face of a mass whine-in by Boonville teachers desperate to continue working half-time for full-time pay, was the third and deciding vote for long overdue serious reform.
BEST MALE OFFICEHOLDERS: Supervisors Pinches, Gjerde and McCowen. Gjerde despite his support for a $5 million dollar Fort Bragg trash transfer station on Highway 20 when trash could be transferred out of the existing station at Pudding Creek.
WORST MALE OFFICEHOLDERS: Wes Chesbro (of course), Congressman Huffman.
BEST NEW NEWSPAPER: The Willits Weekly organized by Jennifer Poole to directly compete with the 100-year-old but chain-owned, The Willits News.
MENDOCINO COUNTY'S silliest public body: The Ukiah City Council going away for seriously considering the expenditure of public money on Steve Zuieback's wacky "problem solving" strategy called the Enneagram; the Council's discussion about hiring a therapist for itself.
LARGEST GIFT OF PUBLIC FUNDS in Mendocino County history: The highly questionable transfer of Mendocino County's mental health services to a private firm based in Yuba City called Ortner Management Group. The privatization is worth $6.7 million annually. OMG [sic] allegedly provides stabilizing short-term care for disturbed adults. A phony non-profit called Redwood Children's Services was awarded $8.8 annual millions to sequester underclass children.
SCAM OF THE YEAR: Northcoast Railroad Authority. Annual millions of public dollars to maintain tracks that haven't seen a train since 1968 and is unlikely to see one ever again. This boondoggle, incidentally, is managed by former Congressman Bosco and a cagy fellow named John Williams, with big assists from the Democratic Party of the Northcoast.
CORPORATE GIFT of the year: The 80 year Timber Harvest Plan to the Mendocino Redwoods Timber Corp by the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors.
INCOMPETENTS OF THE YEAR: CalTrans for the ongoing Willits Bypass swindle; CalTrans again for the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, described recently in the Sacramento Bee as structurally unsound in several respects after a billion dollar re-do.
VINDICTIVE PROSECUTION OF THE YEAR: The Mendocino County DA vs. Bypass protester Will Parrish. The DA is demanding a half-million in fines from Parrish plus jail time.
MOST ENCOURAGING MENDO MOVEMENT: The Eat Local Food Movement; Runner-up the Not So Simple Living Fair, all of it emphasizing small-scale farming.
LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER of the year: Deputy Craig Walker. In the tradition of the legendary Deputy Squires, Deputy Walker, reinforced by Deputy Luis Espinoza, has kept the Anderson Valley virtually crime-free in 2013.
US FIRST AWARD, perennial, to the overlarge Superior Court of Mendocino County — 9 judges for a population of 90,000 people — and special ME ME ME recognition to the judges for proceeding outside local processes with a new County Courthouse that will serve only the 9 of them.
LEAST PROMISING STREET PERSON: Travis "The Hump" Humphrey. Only 23, The Hump has been arrested numerous times in Ukiah, his most memorable bust occurring when, after trying on a pair of boots in a Ukiah shoe store, The Hump urinated on the floor and sauntered on out the door. Homeless victim or natural born bum?
MOST MISSED STREET PERSON: Jacqueline ‘Pixie’ Audet, mostly of Fort Bragg where she is less intensely missed by the Fort Bragg Police. "Goldilocks," as she came to be known, said she was leaving the area with her road dog, Robert Jordan, and by golly she seems to have left.
Audet & Jordan
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO:
• Julio Rangel-Ceja, arrested in Mexico and extradited to Ukiah for the rape of a Philo girl. Last we heard he was still at the Mendocino County Jail.
• Placed on "administrative leave" after a midnight shooting in Sacramento, Mendo Deputy DA Damon Gardner apparently remains on administrative leave. Gardner, armed and accompanied that night by another Mendo Assistant DA, Miss Alexandra Khoury, known around the County Courthouse as "The Persian Goddess," shot another man in a scuffle outside the hotel where he had been entertaining Miss Khoury.
WORST MOVIE FILMED IN MENDO, maybe ever, and some real bad ones have been filmed here: The Need for Speed
BEST LOCAL BOOK OF 2013: Spy Rock Memories by Lawrence Livermore.
MOST EFFECTIVE MENDO PROSECUTOR OF 2013: Public Defender Linda Thompson.
ABALONE CHAMP OF THE YEAR. Rick Adams of Boonville.
BEST PUBLIC DESIGN: The New Greenwood Bridge by Quincy Engineering of Sacramento.
BEST INTERN of 2013, Mayte Guerrero of Anderson Valley High School and the AVA.
MOST GLAMOROUS POT GROWER OF THE YEAR: Melanie Hargis of Dos Rios.
Hargis 2011, 2012, 2013
BEST LOOKING eco-activists of the year: Amanda ‘Warbler’ Senseman and Will Parrish.
VICTIM OF THE YEAR. Mr. Harold Moore, 78, of Cleone pummeled to the ground by State Parks ranger Paul Borg, then hauled, handcuffed, to the County Jail in Ukiah where the old guy, a vigorous old guy it should be said, but still too old to be muscled around by uniformed cyborgs, was held overnight and released, uncharged, the next morning, at the personal intervention of DA David Eyster.
DINNER GUEST OF THE YEAR: Jarred Fernandez was extradited from Mexico to face first-degree murder charges in Ukiah for the August, 2000 death of Michael Edward Williams who Fernandez beat to death with an aluminum baseball bat for not inviting Fernandez over for a barbecue.
SILLIEST public presentation of the year: Public Health's Meredith Rinehard informing the Supervisors that Mendo has too many booze outlets which, in reality, are something like 80% fewer today than there were in 1945.
DUMBEST SCHOOL BOARD move of the year: Point Arena School Board for not releasing a draft study of computer usage on the Southcoast. Like that ho hum info should be a big secret?
MOST PROMISING new public defender: Christine Brady who got her stoner dude client off on charges that he was driving under the influence of marijuana. Which he was.
MENDOCINO COUNTY'S least desirable immigrant: Ivan Sanchez of Fort Bragg. This oft-arrested psychopath's latest crime saw him beat and stab his girl friend over a period of hours before stabbing her publicly at a downtown Fort Bragg intersection where he was finally subdued. She, of course, stands by her man.
2013's MOST PROMISING 647f: Assemblyman Wes Chesbro, career Northcoast officeholder. Drunk, the guy actually looks like he's finally having a good time after faking statesman-like poses for 35 years.
FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT of the year: Captain Rainbow of Boonville, whose dispatches from Myanmar (Burma) are more informative and better written than anything produced by a host of corporate reporters.
SCAMMER OF THE YEAR: Amica Wetzler who collected $2700 from another walk-in customer at the Mendocino Coast Water Works by pretending she was an employee. "Certainly, sir. I'll take care of that for you."
MYTH OF THE YEAR: That nuisance complaints are keeping manufacturers from doing business in Mendocino County. Runner-up: KZYX is a public radio station. Third runner-up: Mendocino County is politically progressive.
BEST NEW IDEA: Incorporation of the Anderson Valley. If Point Arena's 447 fagged out old hippies can be a city why can't 2,000 of the smartest, best-looking people ever to settle in one valley be a city?
LEAST EFFECTIVE CEO: Ukiah City Manager Jane Chambers who bragged this year that the City's budget deficit was the lowest ever in her five years at the helm. Chambers, who's total compensation tops out at $250,000 also qualifies as Most Overpaid Public Official - In addition to her base salary, car allowance, health insurance and retirement, Chambers was raking in big bucks for "executive pay" and "merit pay." (Executive pay? Wasn’t she hired as an executive?… Merit Pay? For running a budget deficit for five consecutive years?) Chambers' lunch pals on the City Council rewrote the contract, claiming it represented a 10% cut, but most of the benefits continued under different names and within two months she was given a 5% raise with a promise of more anytime her Council pals decide she should have more.
MOST TOP HEAVY ADMINISTRATION: Three way tie between Ukiah Unified School District, Mendocino County Office of Education and the City of Ukiah. Every administrator at Ukiah Unified and MCOE could be fired without any detriment whatsoever to the students, but educrats will always layoff teachers before they make any cuts to their admin staff. The City of Ukiah was raiding its Redevelopment Fund to the tune of $1 million a year to pay salaries to its bloated admin staff. When the state terminated redevelopment (because of the abuses in places like Ukiah) the City Manager and the Council protected their admin buddies as they laid off firefighters, cops and public works and parks employees.
LEAST EFFECTIVE LABOR UNION: Harry Bridges would spin in his grave at these clowns, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 1021, based in Oakland, who also won the title of least effective labor union last year by blundering their way to a 12.5% pay cut when the County would have settled for 10%. This year, the SEIU brain trust turned down a proposal from the County that would have rescinded the 3% health care premium increase (which SEIU chose as their cause celebre). More importantly, the deal would have paid every SEIU employee a one time lump sum payment of $500-$1,000 just in time for Christmas. Instead of taking the deal and claiming victory for stopping the health plan increase and delivering a tidy Xmas bonus, SEIU chose to keep the fight going and take nothing for its members. SEIU also refused to put the deal to a vote of its membership.
LEAST EFFECTIVE Labor Union Reps: The local "leadership team" which has no clearly identified objective (other than trashing the CEO and Board of Supes) and no strategy to get there (other than trashing the CEO and Board of Supes).
BIGGEST UNION SAPS: Mendocino County's public employees who are chronically mis-represented by SEIU, have no say in the outcome, can't even hire their local business agent, and shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars annually for next to nothing in the way of representation.
HERE'S YOUR HAT, WHAT'S YOUR HURRY: Ukiah City Councilwoman Mari Rodin who timed her resignation (to take a job with Monterey LAFCO) to make sure there was no gap in her taxpayer funded health insurance, resulting in several months delay and the need to call a special election to find her replacement. (But only one candidate stepped forward, so the City, no thanks to Rodin, was able to save the projected $30,000 cost of a special election."
HERE'S YOUR HAT, WHAT'S YOUR HURRY, II: County Air Pollution Control Officer Chris Brown who previously wore out his welcome with his imperious attitude and for slapping the County with a $108,00 fine for a technical oversight during a remodeling job. Brown, known for his overbearing, even threatening attitude, quietly resigned instead of facing a public reprimand for treating his employees the same way he treated the public.
MOST INEPT PUBLIC PRESENTATION: County Counsel Tom Parker, who recently introduced an item to appoint an ad hoc committee to try and get back some of Mendocino County's water which is sold as far south as Marin County. Following a narcoleptic presentation, Parker was heading to the finish line when he was unable to find the recommended motion. After some uncomfortable hemming and hawing, Supervisor John Pinches asked, "Is this what you're looking for?" Parker proceeded to read the motion.
MOST IMPROVED BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: The current lineup of Carre Brown, John McCowen, John Pinches, Dan Gjerde and Dan Hamburg is a dramatic improvement over their predecessors and is arguably the best Board of Supes in decades. All but Hamburg have roots in the County that go back four or five generations, and all seem sincerely interested in serving for the right reasons, with the possible exception of the imperious Hamburg.
BEST BEHAVED SUPE: Carre Brown sets an ethical and professional standard that puts to shame her mean-spirited and small-minded predecessor Mike Delbar. Supe Brown is also a genuinely kind and decent person.
HARDEST WORKING SUPE: John McCowen is known for his attention to detail, long hours, and late night emails and somehow finds time to paint out graffiti and clean up homeless encampments along the creeks and river around Ukiah. He replaced the genial but lazy Jim Wattenburger who took his voting cues from Delbar.
MOST PRACTICAL SUPE: John Pinches, who scrutinizes the budget and who can be counted on to inject a dose of down home reality into the discussion. Pinches originally replaced Willits area mortician Tom Lucier, another auto-vote for Delbarism, and after sitting out a term, replaced the undistinguished Hal Wagenet who was best known for being the lead guitarist on the 60s anthem “White Bird.”
LEAST KNOWN SUPE: Dan Gjerde, an earnest young man who served 15 years on the Fort Bragg City Council and who is completing his first year on the Board. He replaced the corrupt and self-serving Kendall Smith who cheated on her travel claims and refused to take the pay cut she was enforcing on county employees.