Off the Record (Apr 27, 2016)
by AVA News Service, April 27, 2016
THAT WAS AWFUL NEWS from Mendocino last week that described how an 11-year-old boy and his father, a Lake County deputy sheriff, were pulled from the ocean after they'd both been swept off the rocks at Mendocino Point near Mendocino Village. A Mendocino County sheriff’s deputy was among the first rescuers to arrive. The deputy threw an inflatable device — called a throw stick — to the clear-thinking boy, who swam to the device and used it to stay afloat until the fire department’s water rescue team could reach him on a Jet Ski. His father, however, was found unconscious and floating face down and has since died.
THESE OCEAN TRAGEDIES just keep on happening. We wrote of two early in 2009:
WHEN THAT YOUNG mother and her daughter were pulled into the ocean and drowned at Montara last week, it was one more terrible instance of people not being able to tell the difference between the beach and the surf line. Here in Mendocino County you see toddlers playing in the surf all the time at dangerous places like the little beach at Mackerricher, to name one particularly perilous ocean venue. And we all remember the sleeper wave that reached out to pull the visiting Italian scholar off the rocks at the Mendocino bluffs, his frantic wife and two weeping sons watching as the doomed man drifted farther and farther out to sea until he finally disappeared. At Ocean Beach in San Francisco I've seen the cops compelling people out of the water for their own safety during high surfs, and we read regularly of the unwary being carried off from Sonoma County beaches. Without making a total agoraphobe out of your kid, at a minimum he ought to know that life hangs by a thread, and that the thread often looks benign, like a sunny day at the seaside.
DATELINE FORT BRAGG. In the daily deluge of unsettling events, some are more unsettling than others. The murder of Dennis Boardman in his Fort Bragg home unsettled the heck out of many of us from Boonville to Westport. We knew Dennis well. We admired his resolve to stop drinking and sticking to his internal vow to himself to put it down for good. He had a good ten years of sobriety. Dennis had restored himself. And then he's beaten to death by a young man he'd known all his life.
JUST THE OTHER DAY, an unhinged woman named Robin Carpenter moved herself in with a 91-year-old Fort Bragg woman and then refused to leave. Neighbors heard screams. Quickly sussing out the situation, the neighbors offered Ms. Carpenter cash money to go away. Ms. Carpenter refused and the police were called to eject her. Ms. Carpenter, at some point in this depressing drama, fell and broke her nose. She says the police did it but, unfortunately for her, apparently other people saw her tumble on her own.
WE FOUND a 'Robin Carpenter' on Facebook where she's described as a writer and photographer who seems to come from the Bay Area. If the Fort Bragg Robin Carpenter is the Facebook Robin Carpenter it means that Robin Carpenter has run seriously off the rails, so seriously we're informed that she was turned away by Hospitality House, the catch-all Fort Bragg homeless assistance center. The picture that emerges here is of a deranged woman, probably made even more deranged by the omni-available methamphetamine, wandering around Fort Bragg until she encounters a vulnerable person living alone. This one could have turned out a lot worse, but Fort Bragg is still enough of a true community that people generally still look after each other. But nobody was looking when the young man moved in on a weakened Dennis Boardman and beat him to death.
SPEAKING OF FORT BRAGG, and we often do because it's our fave Mendo County town, I have a few observations about Malcolm Macdonald's thorough report on FB's Measure U discussion. Measure U would require that the town's central business area not be given over to homeless services. I happen to agree.
I THINK the furtive, hurry-up manner that official Fort Bragg went about the Old Coast Hotel purchase was plenty aggravating by itself without speculating about FB's blue-collar frustration. Before Fort Bragg knew what had happened, Dr. Carine, an apparently vengeful native son unable to privately sell his hotel for double what he sold it for to Hospitality House, had pocketed nearly a million public dollars for his historic building in the middle of town. (He also got a nice tax break.)
FORT BRAGG is already home to Hospitality House's mother ship, a way station for transients. It's located on the edge of the town center. The City of Fort Bragg entered into an agreement with the opaque management of HH to expand its operations into the Old Coast Hotel when other, less provocative Fort Bragg locations for expansion were available.
ALL OF THIS has occurred in the context of a piously false rhetoric that claims Hospitality House serves the "homeless." If one burns down one's own house, is one to be pitied as "homeless"? Very few of Mendocino County's homeless population have lost their homes out of a combination of bad luck and increasingly tight housing market conditions. The people out there "homeless" are mostly drunks, drug addicts, petty criminals, with a sprinkling of the mentally ill whose mental illness is made worse by street drugs and alcohol.
SIMPLY DRAWING the above distinction earns the person making it a mass auto-denunciation from the self-interested (the people who run and work in these failed helping programs) as "cruel, heartless" and so on.
IF MEASURE U passes, and I hope it does, who gets sued? The City, i.e., the people who caused this totally unnecessary controversy in the first place. Fort Bragg's arrogant leadership, which ignored public sentiment when they made their secret deal with HH and private party Carine, has demonstrated it'll spend even more public money on their San Francisco lawyer ($170,000 a year) to maintain HH's tai chi rehab program at Old Coast.
AS FOR BLUE COLLAR FRUSTRATION as the inspiration for Measure U, Fort Bragg's working people have every reason to be angry when they see a top heavy city government pulling down all these fancy salaries — city manager Ruffing makes about $200,000 "managing" a city of about 8,000 — but shafting the town's old timers and working people like some kind of yuppie occupying army by surrendering their town center to the "homeless."
I HOPE PEOPLE will support Sheriff Allman's plan for a County-owned and operated psychiatric center, probably in Willits. I further hope that facility, if established, will expand to include the peripatetic drunks and dopers who presently make up the bulk of the County's "homeless." The Allman Center would negate any Fort Bragg need for a rehab center in the middle of town.
AS OF 2014, presenting Fort Bragg government (GP never paid this good):
- City Attorney Zutler: $170k (2016)
- City Manager Ruffing: $146k (about $200k with bennies)
- Community Development Director Jones: $105k
- Treasurer Cimolino: $98k
- Assistant Manager Feth-Michel: $96k
- Housing & Economic Development Coordinator Owen: $58k
AT THAT FORT BRAGG Measure U meeting at the FB Senior Center last week, a guy named Scott Menzies, opposed to U, went on at suspicious length about "sodomites." He was apparently linking a Yes vote on U to an imaginary measure, existing only in his fevered head, that might also dare to remove sodomites from downtown Fort Bragg. Menzies' sodomy musings seemed to have been provoked by a disabled woman's remarks in favor of U. One member of the audience said she half expected Menzies to leap from his chair shouting, "Give me sodomy or get this old lady outta my ear!" Menzies, natch, is signed on to give the the homeless tai chi lessons at Old Coast.
THE COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION hosted "a job fair last Saturday at its lush compound at Talmage. "Want a job that empowers youth with the skills and opportunities they need to build careers that create a better future for themselves, their communities, and the world? If you share a vision of educational success for all students...." And so on.
IF YOUTH are to have any kind of chance at "empowerment," a word only Government Donut Eaters dare but which no one else uses other than ironically, you should encourage them to form revolutionary cells because, objectively, persons under the age of 40 are screwed forever six ways to Sunday unless.... Unless they mount a serious counterattack against the present economic-social organization of the mother country. Those of milder temperament should be taught how to be poor but still have a good time. These are the options, young people.
THE REST OF MCOE's empowering and envisioning press release, which probably took them a hundred days of meetings and in-services to compose, contains exactly two intriguing facts, the first one probably untrue. MCOE claims to have "80 current job vacancies" throughout the County. The second, which probably is true, is the public schools employ 3,500 people.
THIS IS NO DOUBT UNFAIR, but my overall impression of those noble 3,500 is of a cringing, intellectually impaired-to-disinterested cadre of time servers whose overall impact on the young is to shut them down forever to learning. MCOE bears the same relation to education as Taco Bell to chop suey. On second thought, I'd exempt elementary and middle school teachers. The former because their task is to simply pound the basics into the little savages, the latter because the schools couldn't pay most of us enough to ride herd on sugar-fueled, television-raised pubescents.
TRAVEL ADVISORY: The crypt-like Ukiah Conference Center on School Street is almost completely empty save for the seemingly vacant offices of Assemblyman Wood and State Senator McGuire which, it's not unfair to say, are also vacant when the two Healdsburg solons are present. It's a creepy kind of building with little natural light and dark corridors leading to dark, vacant rooms labeled after grapes. The sole amenity offered by the bunker-like structure are the perfectly antiseptic restrooms, handy to the transient public. The building is open most of the day but, beware! Ukiah commands no smoking within 20 feet of the back door! The idea years ago was that if our county seat offered an under-sized auditorium, conventioneering merry makers would flock to town. Didn't happen, won't happen, can't happen because, well, Ukiah isn't a desirable destination for the reasons often enumerated here.
TURNS OUT, Judge Faulder is more receptive to new information about the new courthouse project than his abrupt phone system lead us to believe last week. On Thursday, after handing us a package of printouts about the new courthouse project and insisting that his opinions were based on that, not on a discussion with Judge Dave Nelson, Faulder agreed that if the state judicial admin office causes fiscal impact on the County and the City of Ukiah by forcing a new county courthouse onto the railroad depot site, the state should at least pick up the cost of that impact. And it's nearly shocking that they haven't done much to deal with it so far.
FAULDER SAID HE HADN'T FULLY APPRECIATED all the impacts the new courthouse would have on ancillary offices like the District Attorney, the Public Defender and Probation and would "make sure that's brought up in any future discussion" of the project. Faulder said that the County should be bringing the various other judicial system departments affected by the new courthouse in now and put them to work defining what the new courthouse impact will be and what it might cost.
FAULDER ARGUED that one of the problems the judges have with the current courthouse is all the delays and confusion associated with secure prisoner transport to and from the County Jail to the Courthouse. We agreed that's a problem, but that it'll only be worse in the new courthouse when lawyers, witnesses, cops, experts etc. — and defendants — have to find their way to the new courthouse several blocks from downtown where the other offices are on time since they will no longer be in the same building —and there are lots of other people who don’t like to wait, not just their robed majesties.
THE NEW COURTHOUSE MAY BE UNSTOPPABLE at this point, but the County and the City of Ukiah have to do a lot more to make sure they’re not stuck with a multi-million dollar bill when they belatedly realize — probably years after the fact — that a new courthouse is much more disruption than upgrade.
ONE GOOD IDEA Faulder said he'd implement if elected is a juvenile arraignment court at juvenile hall to reduce the juvenile defendant transportation to and from the Courthouse. He also agreed that an arraignment court once or twice a week at the Jail would put a dent in the prisoner transport problems too.
SO WE'RE GLAD TO HEAR that the Candidate was not personally in favor of the "You're now being transferred to listen only mode" declaration we got after last week's phone-in campaign meeting.
"LISTEN ONLY MODE." We like that phrase. Public meetings in Mendocino are often hamstrung by the nuts and chronophages who seemingly lay in wait for them. If the Blather Battalion could all somehow be rendered non-verbal after a minute or so, and it only takes a minute before the rest of us realize they are incapable of coherent speech, well, I imagine a claw-like hand suddenly reaching down out of the ceiling to clamp the speaker's jaw shut as a disembodied but authoritative voice shouts, "Next!"
JUDGE CANDIDATE FAULDER told us Thursday that pot growers who apply for licenses under California’s new pot law should be careful about what they write in their applications. Apparently, it’s possible that the federal government could use the pot growing application as tacit admission that the applicant is committing a federal felony — cultivation of a controlled substance.
FAULDER said that at present the feds do not seem to be pushing this angle, but that no one knows where the feds might go in the future. A hard-line administration could use the application to bring a federal case against a grower.
WILLITS BYPASS 2017? According to Linda Williams, Willits News Editor, the “opening celebration” for the Willits Bypass is scheduled for September of 2016, but the contractors have until November 8th to finish work. The “remediation” of the land around the northern interchange will take much longer.
KITTY NEVIN'S MUST READ: "After 19 years, I finally finished my book, Newport & Kibesillah — A Tale of Two Mendocino County Coastal Logging Towns in Northern California.” In 1996, Will Jackson asked me to write a 'pamphlet' about Newport and Kibesillah, the two towns north of Fort Bragg where he planned to build a bed-and-breakfast inn. My 'pamphlet' is now a 208-page book, with 474 footnotes and a 12-page index of the families — the pioneers — who lived in this fascinating part of the Mendocino Coast between 1867 and the early 1900s. For now, my website will focus on the lives of the “hardy pioneers” who lived in the logging towns of Newport and Kibesillah in the late 1800s. It’s been a fascinating journey into the late 19th Century, after the Civil War but before the first telephone, when transportation was via horse and buggy or stagecoach; when sailing ships were giving way to steam schooners; and the supply of North Coast redwood — for building, railroad ties and even for firewood — seemed infinite."
OXYMORON OF THE WEEK: “I don’t believe it is a business that needs a business license.” — Point Arena City Councilman Jim Koogle, responding to a question from Independent Coast Observer editor J. Steven McLaughlin about the Grand Jury’s recent finding that Koogle’s “partnership” in a Point Arena biodiesel “club” that bought biodiesel fuel in bulk and sold it to club members. Koogle claimed that the operation had been looked at by a County code enforcement officer six years ago and “found no violation.” But there’s no documentation of Koogle's claim.
THE GRAND JURY had found that Point Arena’s catch as catch can “code enforcement” was unevenly applied, imposing city regs on some fogeaters, but ignoring those of City Council members, most notably Koogle, who “operated a bio-diesel fueling business without having applied for or received a business license.”
THE GRAND JURY also pointed out that (former) City Councilmember Deborah Heatherstone “was residing in an unpermitted structure in the City lacking sewer hookups, and that the Councilmember residing there was disposing of human and other wastes on-site illegally. Specifically, human waste was being disposed of using composting and dishwashing/laundry wastes by means of a ‘gray water’ method that does not meet the definition of acceptable gray water found in the State Health and Safety Code. Furthermore, these activities were occurring in close proximity to Point Arena Creek.”
THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY finally filed misdemeanor public nuisance charges against Heatherstone in December, which she plead guilty to under a “deferred entry of judgment,” which means the charges will be dropped if she stops her illegal sewage dumping. Heatherstone told the ICO that she plead guilty “partly” because she was “not eligible for a public defender and had to defend herself in court.” (Obviously, she’s better off with the deal she got with the DA. If she’d been defended by Public Defender Linda Thompson she’d be behind bars already.)
HEATHERSTONE’S CO-VIOLATOR, Koogle, said that the City “dropped the ball” on Heatherstone’s case because her violation “was during a period of transition last year when the city had an interim city manager,” adding, without any indication he was being ironic, “I disagree with the allegations of cronyism.”
HEATHERSTONE submitted her resignation from the City Council in the wake of the Grand Jury report leaving only three people on the Council, only one of whom was elected; the other two were appointed to fill earlier resignation-created vacancies.
CITY MANAGER RICHARD SHOEMAKER, among Mendocino's masters of the art of cronyism, and currently paid $50,000 annually to "manage" Point Arena's roughly 500 citizens, said the City would be filing formal responses to the Grand Jury report in the required 60-90 days.
AS WE LIKE to point out, Mendocino County makes a lot of money from dope by growing and exporting it while our cops make a lot of money "interdicting" those exports and busting growers. Mendo is number two out of 58 California counties in getting money via the state's asset forfeiture laws. LA is number one. During 2014, statewide asset forfeiture figures from the California Attorney General's Office tell us that Mendocino County raked in about $3.5 million from drug related criminal activities, about 9% of all California seizures. Los Angeles County was ahead of Mendocino County with nearly $4.7 million in seizures. Sonoma County took in more than $2 mil, Humboldt County $1.25 mil and Lake County got nearly $320,000.
A READER WRITES: "I am happy to say I never heard a single sound produced by the late lamented music/musical phenomenon named “Prince” (nor — unless in passing through some grocery store aisle — Michael Jackson, et al), and nearly swoon in the outpouring of sorrow, although not as much as seeing the paparazzi chasing the “Princess” through the channel at breakneck speeds, which of course did. That. Ah, AVA, every day I awaken to imbibe thy charms, thy elixers, thy very being — verily, it fires up my psyche and keeps me good and cranky!"
NOTE: Me too. Prince. I'd heard the name, just as I've heard “Madonna” in the non-reverent context of today's "music." But I had to YouTube Purple Rain to get some kinda handle on the hullabaloo over Prince's departure. I liked it, thought it was affecting, but wayyyyyy short of, say, the great Bocelli's "Time To Say Goodbye," an Italian pop song rendered by a truly great singer. Truth to tell, I tuned out at Sinatra, circa 1965. I couldn't tell you the diff between the Grateful Dead and a bunch of yowling hippies beating on garbage cans.
HEADLINE SUNDAY MORNING: “Multi-billionaire GOP kingmaker Charles Koch says ‘it’s possible’ Hillary might be a better president than anyone in the Republican field.”
OF COURSE she is, Chuck, but don't tell the libs. They think Hil is "progressive." Hillary won't bother you boys in the least. Neither did Bill. Billery's with you all the way.
WILL PARRISH WRITES: "Some readers of the AVA online edition deduced that my story of last week, "Who Funds Mendo Politics?" was part of a conspiracy that I undertook, as a known or suspected member of the North County's liberal fifth column, to undermine Third District Supervisor Tom Woodhouse for the benefit of Holly Madrigal who ran against Woodhouse a couple of years ago for the Third District Supervisorial seat vacated by John Pinches. From what I can gather, the readers made their determination after I mentioned that Supervisor Woodhouse's issues-devoid 2014 campaign got “minor sums” from a few people who benefited from positions he’s taken as a supervisor, including Brian Hurt of Grist Creek Aggregates asphalt plant fame. On the other hand, I failed to mention that Madrigal's largest 2014 campaign donor, a woman named April Twedell, is actually Madrigal's mother, as readers like "halnoevil" boldly alerted me under the auspice of issuing a "Boner Alert!!" These folks should know that, while I personally favored the AVA's endorsement of Madrigal in 2014, I'm a South County guy, and the last time I used the word "liberal" as an intended compliment was probably when I was 19 years old. The piece had nothing to do with supporting Madrigal. I do have one substantive correction from that piece: the Madrigal campaign's second biggest 2014 donor was not Gabriel Madrigal but rather the California Federation of Teachers, which gave $2,500."