Mendocino County Today: Sunday, May 22, 2016
by AVA News Service, May 21, 2016
ANDERSON VALLEY FIRE CHIEF Andres Avila told the Community Services District board last Wednesday that he is becoming concerned about an apparent reduction in volunteer response to Anderson Valley emergency calls lately.
"Many things are changing that may have caused this to happen,” wrote Avila, “but it is noticeable enough to report to the Board as an issue. Several things cause low responses with a volunteer fire department such as: calls during work hours, vacation drawdown, repeat false alarms, etc. These are normal conditions that cause low response and are characteristic of a volunteer organization. My theory for this response reduction is based upon the observation of two major changes: the advanced life support (ALS) quick response vehicle (QRV) that has been implemented during the exclusive operating area pilot program and also the year-round presence of CalFire (paid by emergency drought funding). Both the QRV and CalFire are paid response entities that are in quarters at the time of the call which results in them arriving at the scene before our [volunteer] responders do. In one way this is good; it provides a quick response for the public. Most of the time our units are not needed and are canceled. This creates a difficult problem to address when our responders are required to endure hours and hours of training in the hopes that they can use their skills in the field but are not getting any payoff for their efforts. The new trend of not being needed as much at the scene has made it very difficult to inspire volunteers to respond (particularly late at night and on minor incidents). I am concerned that the Anderson Valley Fire Department volunteers inspiration to respond is down and it is making it increasingly difficult situation to press the new [skill] requirements on them. This situation in my perspective is not good for the overall wellness and efficiency of the long-term of the department. I will provide the Board with updates on this as needed, but I felt that it was appropriate to disclose this as an important issue.”
ALSO LAST WEEK, the CSD Board routinely approved its annual Fiscal Year 2016/2017 budgets for public review and the accompanying newspaper notice. At first there seemed to be some interest in enlarging the notice somewhat to include a summary of the annual revenues and expenses of the department along the lines of the South Coast’s annual notice. But Chief Avila objected, saying that a budget summary served no purpose. The board quickly reversed course and voted 3-1 not to provide the budget summary in the newspaper notice that the budgets are available for review. Avila argued that the budget is available at the firehouse and is posted at the fire department’s online website and a summary of the budget would be out of context and perhaps misleading, somehow causing certain Valley residents to think… Well, Avila didn’t say it, but he seems to be afraid that the Department’s relatively positive budget these days with significant reserves built up in recent years primarily from strike team reimbursements, might jeopardize the donations the Department continues to receive either directly or through the Volunteer Firefighters Association. Board member Kathleen McKenna was the only vote in favor of publishing the expanded budget, saying that it's simply a matter of transparency and that it might encourage the public to take more of an interest in the budget and other activities of the Department.
After a motion by board member Kirk Wilder to publish the summary with a second from newly seated board member Paul Soderman, the motion was defeated 3-1 after the chief objected (Wilder abstained.)
The Guest House Museum
MENTAL HEALTH TRANSITION DEADLINE LOOMS
It’s just over a month away and nobody knows how many clients there are nor what kind of paperwork Ortner has.
by Mark Scaramella
Mendocino County’s new mental health director, Janine Miller, told the Supervisors on Tuesday that the County still has a lot of vacancies in her department, most of them unfilled for months.
Miller said there are about 40 employees in her department but 57 authorized positions, leaving 17 vacant. Miller and several senior members of her staff are covering multiple positions to partially make up for the vacancies, but it’s not easy, she said. And since there's no way of corroborating bureaucratic assertions like this I suppose we have to take her word for it.
Third District Supervisor Tom Woodhouse agreed, sort of.
“A good example of a vacant position — it's been vacant for awhile; it's been vacant for whole time I've been here and it has been vacant for at least two years or three years or — is the County Psychiatrist. We are offering I think around $300,000 a year for that position and it needs to be a minimum of $400,000 to attract anyone. We might as well take it off the chart. We are never going to get that person here. And that's where we would be paid back by the feds and the state and it's nonsense to have that position listed here. I'm not saying that to you, I am saying that to myself: Why do I allow that? That's ridiculous. It's pretending you're going to paint the house and you don't have any paint and you are never going to do it. We need that position filled. Without that we can't do a damn thing. So why can't we start with that? I guess I'm asking the CEO in our next budget round to put that position at $400,000 and if somebody files a grievance, let them. Sorry about that.”
CEO Carmel Angelo: “If the full board wants to pay $400,000, I will put it in. No problem.”
Board Chair Dan Gjerde: “But the question is, Is there money to do that? I guess the question I have also is my understanding is that the Sheriff's office also has a position of a psychiatrist and they are also unable to hire them but they have a doctor in the box, like someone doing tele-psychiatry.”
Angelo: “There's no county position for a psychiatrist [at the jail]. That would be contracted. I'm assuming that's contracted to CFMG [the jail medical service].”
Gjerde: “So they are unable to fill the position and they have someone on a monitor coming through a television screen. So why not take the two positions and combine them into one and have a real live body here?”
Angelo: “Certainly we can look at that. One is a contract position and one is a county position. I think we have to look at how we would do that.”
Deputy CEO Alan ‘The Kid’ Flora: “Mental health is not one of those programs that you can direct bill any amount of cost that you want back from the state and the federal agencies. If the salaries are increased for example, my understanding is that generally speaking 60% of that cost has to be paid from our revenue sources that we get, primarily realignment revenue which are based on sales tax receipts at the state level. So that is a limited supply of funds. You can't just increase that at will.”
Woodhouse then launched into an assertive but somewhat self-contradictory declaration:
“We have the tele-psychiatry in Laytonville. We are going to work with the clinic and it will take time to get it together but they are going to do it. I'm going to bring that to the board. But the people in my district are killing themselves. We have to get a psychiatrist here. If you have a tele-psychiatrist, they can look at somebody and prescribe medications and save their life and stabilize them while in crisis. That's the whole purpose of what we are trying to serve here. So I'm not angry, I'm just determined that we are going to do this. Every time I ask the question I always get the response of why we cannot do it. And I agree. It's impossible. We can never do it. Now how can we proceed ahead and do it? I don't care which one of these things we do. But we have to start changing things. Proceeding like we are now is going to lead to failure and I refuse to sit here for two more years and do that. We are going to change this. I'm proud that you are here. I'm excited you are here. I'm glad that you are here. I am asking for help and how to go forward.”
Predictably, none of Woodhouse’s colleagues picked up on any of this, and none of them expressed any interest in putting up $400k for the vacant County psychiatrist position.
* * *
Later in the meeting, during a discussion of how the County was going to use about $500k in Mental Health Housing grant funds that have gone unspent for more than a year, Chair Gjerde asked Rural Communities Housing Development Corp. executive director Tim Pallesen how he was going to proceed to find a location for a mental health housing facility with perhaps 30 or 40 beds in one of the three incorporated cities in Mendocino County.
Pallesen suggested that the county contact the city councils in the three cities and “ask them to confirm or deny that they would support any project that would be in their cities. We would then come back in and report to this board the results of that communication.”
Gjerde: “I think their support or lack of support would definitely have to do with the location. There needs to be some idea of where. They might support it if it was here, but not there. Within their city, or near the city. If it is just a blanket statement, that is not enough information to say whether they support it or not.”
Pallesen: “Would you like a formal statement from the various city councils in the form of resolution?”
Gjerde: “I think they need to have some idea where in the city you are thinking. There needs to be some initial research to identify three or four possible locations and if it was any one of these locations, would you support it and if so which ones?”
Pallesen: “Unfortunately, there is a real estate availability issue that is pretty transitory. So any time a city council would say this is a good spot here, it might take us at least three months before we can even make an offer on it, and then the price might go up and also it might disappear from the market.”
Gjerde: “But I think you're asking too much of someone to say ‘anywhere,’ is it okay? It's not realistic to request that, to ask for a blanket ‘anywhere’ approval.” [Laughs.]
Pallesen: “Okay, yes we certainly would be working with the city in getting that kind of input from them, for sure.”
Gjerde: “Not to criticize anyone here, but it's unfortunate that the county has held this grant for a couple of years now and it's unfortunate that it's taken this much time because we knew it would take more time to do site identification and more time for the cities or the county to identify Community Development Block Grant funding and other funds to provide the match. The chart you have concerning the example from Arcata is very enlightening because it shows they had about $870,000 to match in loans or grants that the city obviously had the time to cobble together. With such a short time frame here at this point to make decisions and accumulate matching funds—”
Pallesen: “I don't think it's there. It would be great if it happened. But I don't think it's reasonable to expect any of the three cities to come up with money.”
Gjerde: “But they could have had a headstart on this process two or three years ago — they could have.”
Pallesen: “That's possible.”
Gjerde: “Anybody can apply for community development block grants every single year. And they probably have, both in Fort Bragg and here in Ukiah — for two or three years now. And now here we are three years later trying to scramble and put something together.”
Pallesen is supposed to begin looking for sites in Willits first (apparently because it’s midway between Fort Bragg and Ukiah), then Fort Bragg and then Ukiah.
* * *
The ambitious Transition Plan which lists the tasks necessary to turn the private Ortner adult mental health clients and services over to the for-profit Redwood Quality Management Service (or in some cases to the County itself) continues to show that most tasks remain conspicuously incomplete. A few more meetings have been held and various agencies and companies "continue" to do various amorphous things, but that's about it.
One recent update reports that “RQMC has developed a general plan for handling application assessment, assigning care managers, documentation and reporting. This includes planning for client centered flex funds to be used for non-Medi-Cal client needs.” But the “plan” is not in writing and it doesn't say anything about anything actually being completed.
Another task involving development of a replacement outpatient provider service shows that the only new development is that “Ford Street has decided not to provide mental health services through Medi-Cal at this time although they will continue with their clients to provide drug alcohol treatment.”
Everything else on the transition plan task list is either “continuing,” holding more meetings, or “in process.”
The County’s high-paid mental health consultant, Lee Kemper, who prepared the report last February documenting all the problems with Ortner and precipitating the challenging transition that Ms. Miller is trying to arrange, told the board that it’s now been over two months, and it wasn't even clear how many clients Ortner had, much less what kind of documentation they have on each one. Kemper said that he’s heard that Ortner had somewhere between 200-500 clients and that the county has still not received any documentation concerning these clients yet.
But Ortner collected millions with almost no accounting for the money.
Mental Health Director Miller said that Ortner had been rhetorically cooperative so far, having agreed to deliver the records, but nothing has been supplied. Apparently Ortner plans to scan in their documentation and put the entire document collection on a flash drive and deliver it to the county in one giant submission sometime in June. But nobody knows what it will look like or how compatible the data will be with the “Avatar” electronic health records patient management system the county hopes to use with their new contractor Redwood Quality Management Company (RQMC).
Given Ortner’s overpriced and poor performance on just about everything else over the prior three years, we suspect their records are a mess and it’s taking them a long time to even collect what little they have, much less put it into a form that can be presented to the County.
Ms. Miller insists that things are moving along as best they can toward the July 1 date when Ortner will go away and Redwood Quality Management is supposed to pick up the pieces. But as Mr. Kemper said, it is unknown what the extent and quality of Ortner’s records will be. Kemper pointed out the obvious: the sooner they can be submitted the better.
Of course, waiting until the last minute like this for the Ortner documentation means that any problems with information — gaps, errors, questions, misidentification, confusion, contradictions, etc. — won’t show up until Ortner is gone and unavailable to answer questions — unless the price is right.
Somehow the County’s understaffed mental health department will have to figure out a way to prioritize the Ortner stuff — and the who-knows-how-many hundreds of mentally ill clients themselves — so that the ones in the most urgent need will get the earliest service.
How all that will be done given the short staffing and the growing list of incomplete, in-process tasks, remains an open question.
SMART DISCUSSION OF MEASURE U
CATCH OF THE DAY, May 21, 2016
(Unavailable again due to Booking Log Server failure.)
BICYCLING TO OBLIVION?
by Louis S. Bedrock
Thursday’s bike ride converted into a series of adventures and misadventures.
During the eventful trip, I fell down two times while getting on or off my Cannondale 400 Hybrid, I rescued a damsel in distress whose bike was disabled, and was nearly killed by a cretin who was driving a car.
Incident #1. During the ride, it became cloudy and the skies darkened. I interrupted the ride, got off the bicycle, and turned on the front and rear flashers. When I tried to get back on the bike, my foot couldn’t get over the bar, and the bicycle and I crashed to the ground. This now happens often because of the loss of flexibility that comes with aging.
One of the gear clusters or a sharp edge of a pedal punctured my lower leg just above the foot and my sock was soaked in blood. I wiped off the wound with an alcohol/aloe towelette and put on an oversized Bandaid. I got on the bike, supported by a nearby tree, and continued the journey.
Incident #2. I stopped to drink some Cytomaxed water from my water bottle and some regular water from a drinking fountain in Echo Lake Park. Across the street from the bench and the water fountain where I stopped, a pretty twenty-something year old woman had her bicycle upside down and was talking on her cell phone.
I put the water bottle into the bike’s bottle holder and rolled over to the other side of the road to see if I could help. As I dismounted to talk to her, my damned foot again caught the cross bar and I fell on my face. The damsel rushed over to rescue her clumsy knight. At least this time I wasn’t punctured.
She told me that her derailleur was jammed. I checked out the derailleur, the clusters, and the chain, and discovered that the chain had slipped off the front innermost cluster and was wedged between the cluster and the bike frame. I managed to get the chain back on the gear wheel and rotated the pedal a few times. I asked her to ride around a bit. She did and told me everything was OK. I wiped the grease off of my hands with another Wet Ones towelette — damned things are essential for any bike rider, said goodbye to the damsel, and continued my journey.
Incident #3. Then I was nearly killed by an imbecile who passed me on the left and made an abrupt right turn right in front of me into the driveway of store. Missed me by a foot.
I pursued him into the lot with fire coming out of my nostrils and would have killed him if he had had the temerity to leave his car. Instead, he rolled up the window, and sat staring at the dashboard. He looked retarded: all he did was stare at his dashboard with an impassive expression bereft of any emotion — remorse, fear, anger, or amusement.
After banging on his side window and threatening to kick it in and strangle him, I came to believe he was retarded, walked away, took a deep breath, and got back on the bike to complete a 32 mile ride.
* * *
Since the day when all of this occurred, I’ve been questioning myself about whether I should continue bicycling on the road. I just turned seventy-one and still have good reflexes, but I am alarmed by the carelessness and ineptitude of many drivers.
While waiting for a light to go green, I notice that in the three cars on my left, all three drivers are texting. People routinely open their car doors in my face or make left turns in front of me with little room to spare. This latest incident is the second time in one year when I have almost been killed by an indifferent or negligent driver in the exact same place.
Two doctors whom I see regularly are bicyclists and have recently suffered serious injuries. Florida, where I often ride the trails, has one of the highest rates of bicycle fatalities in the country.
My favorite activities are writing, translating, reading, working out, and bicycling. These days I often nod out on the couch while reading. This is annoying, but not life threatening. Riding 30 or 40 or 50 miles on my bicycles under a hot sun in a tank top is exhilarating. Being confined to a wheelchair would not be exhilarating. Is it time to confine my cycling to bike trails?
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
I was in NYC in the 90s. Had the choice to see one of two art exhibitions – Rene Magritte, Belgian master of the surreal and light, or this “phenomenon” Basquiat at the Whitney.
Selected the Basquiat as I was intrigued as to what all the hoopla was about — it was pure shit really. The vandal tags/graffiti on subway cars was much better in terms of content, technical merit and style.
I recently had a similar experience at the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum in Madrid. The much vaunted, and highly valued, Marc Rothco was represented by one of his “classics” — blue box with red circle numbers. In the same gallery was the small but pure genius Salvador Dali’s “Dream caused by the Flight of a Bee around a Pomegranate a Second before Wakening up.” One is pure crap the other contact with the cosmic consciousness of the world.
This art stuff today is all about selling shit to the highest paying rube. An offshoot of hypercapitalist Wall Street; those without a lick of aesthetics but shiploads of easy money.
HUNTER THOMPSON & GONZO
by Alexander Cockburn (February 2005)
I guess I can call myself one of the Dylan generation since, at 63, I’m the same age as him but the prose stylists that allured an Anglo-Irish lad hopelessly strapped into the corsets of Latinate gentility were always those of American rough-housers: first, in the mid-fifties Jack Kerouac, then Edward Abbey, then Hunter Thompson.
Thank God I never tried to imitate any of them. Thompson probably spawned more bad prose than anyone since Hemingway, but they all taught me that at its most rapturous, its most outraged, its most exultant, American prose can let go and teach you to let go, to embrace the vastness, the richness, the beauty and the grotesqueries of America in all its thousand landscapes.
I tried to re-read Kerouac’s On The Road a few years ago and put it down soon enough. That’s a book for excited teenagers. Abbey at full stretch remains a great writer and he’ll stay in the pantheon for all time. Lately sitting in motels along the highway I’ve been dipping into his diaries, Confessions of a Barbarian, and laughing every couple of pages. “Writing for the National Geographic,” Abbey grumbled, “is like trying to masturbate in ski mitts.”
Could Thompson have written that? Probably not. When it came to sex and stimulation of the synapses by agents other than drugs or booze or violent imagery Thompson was silent, unlike Abbey who loved women. Thompson wrote for the guys, at a pitch so frenzied, so over-the-top in its hyperbolic momentum that often enough it reminded me of the squeakier variant of the same style developed by his Herald-Trib stable mate and exponent of the “New Journalism,” Tom Wolf. In their respective stylistic uniforms they always seemed hysterically frightened of normalcy, particularly in the shape of girls, so keenly appreciated by Abbey.
Thompson’s best writing was always in the form of flourishes, of pell-mell bluster wrenched of himself for the anxious editors waiting well past deadline at Scanlan’s or Rolling Stone, and in his later years often put together from his jottings by the writers and editors aware that a new “Fear and Loathing” on the masthead was a sure-fire multiplier of newsstand sales. Overall, Thompson’s political perceptions weren’t that interesting except for occasional bitter flashes.
There’s nothing much to the notion of “gonzo” beyond the delighted projections of Thompson’s readers. The introduction of the reporter as roistering first-person narrator? Mark Twain surely did that, albeit sedately. Norman Mailer took it to the level of genius in Advertisements for Myself, with political perceptions acuter and writing sharper by far than anything Thompson ever produced.
“Gonzo” was an act, defined by its beholders, the thought that here was one of Us, fried on drugs, hanging onto the cliff edge of reality only by his fingernails, doing hyperbolic battle with the pomposities and corruptions of Politics as Usual. And no man was ever a more willing captive of the Gonzo myth he created, decked out in its increasingly frayed bunting of “Fear and Loathing…” “The Strange and Terrible…”, decorated with Ralph Stedman’s graphic counterpoints.
Like Evel Knievel, Thompson’s stunts demanded that he arch higher and further with each successive sentence’s outrage to propriety, most memorably in his obit for Richard Nixon: “If the right people had been in charge of Nixon's funeral, his casket would have been launched into one of those open-sewage canals that empty into the ocean just south of Los Angeles. He was a swine of a man and a jabbering dupe of a president. Nixon was so crooked that he needed servants to help him screw his pants on every morning. Even his funeral was illegal. He was queer in the deepest way. His body should have been burned in a trash bin.”
Kerouac ended sadly at 47. As Abbey nastily put it, “Jack Kerouac, like a sick refrigerator, worked too hard at keeping cool and died on his mama's lap from alcohol and infantilism.” Abbey himself passed gloriously at 62, carried from the hospital by his pals to die at his own pace without tubes dripping brief reprieves into his veins, then buried in the desert without the sanction or permission of the state.
How about Thompson? His Boston lawyer George Tobia Jr. told the Globe the 67-year-old author sat in his kitchen Sunday afternoon in his home in Woody Creek, Colorado, stuck a .45-caliber handgun in his mouth, and killed himself while his wife listened on the phone and his son and daughter-in-law were in another room of his house. His wife had no idea what had happened until she returned home later.
Seems creepy to me, same way Gary Webb blowing his brains out a while back with a hand-gun was creepy. Why give the loved ones that as a souvenir? I suppose Thompson’s message was: We were together at the end. Webb was truly alone. He lifted the curtain on one little sideshow of the American Empire, and could never quite fathom that when you do that The Man doesn’t forget or forgive. Thompson engaged The Empire on his own terms and quit the battlefield on his own terms too, which I guess is what Gonzo is all about.
"BLACK PANTHERS MATTER"
Thanks to Tom Gogola of the North Bay Bohemian for this week's Debriefer column on Pg. 14 (the link: http://www.bohemian.com/northbay/oh-whale/Content?oid=2960020 2nd article from the top)
"Black Panthers Matter"
Santa Rosa's Elbert "Big Man" Howard was one of the six founding members of the Black Panther Party and also founded the Santa Rosa Police Accountability and Helpline, as his contribution to ongoing efforts to reform Sonoma County policing. He's been a community activist all the way back to the founding of the BPP 50 years ago and has just published a collection of his writings from over the decades called, "As I See It." As Debriefer sees it, you should buy this book of essays; check out Howard's website, http://www.bigman-bpp.com/ for details. —Tom Gogola
SMILEY may be 6 years old, but he is playful, silly, goofy and sweet. He enjoys the company of other canines and would love a friendly dog pal in his new home. Given his easy-going and friendly nature, he will do well in any loving home. Smiley loves walks and enjoys sniffing and roaming in the yard. Don't let his age fool you, this gorgeous guy has a lifetime of love and loyalty to give to some very, VERY lucky person! Smiley is 48 pounds and mixed breed. Don't forget to check out the shelter's website at www.mendoanimalshelter.com for updated information on all dog and cat guests. To talk to the adoption coordinator, call 707-467-6453.
* * *
HEATHCLIFF is a big orange boy who welcomes all visitors with instant and loud purring. Heathcliff likes being petted, and would make a wonderful companion and lap cat. Heathcliff is FIV+ which means he can't go to a home with other cats and he definitely does NOT like dogs. If you have a loving home with no other pets and a heart full of love please stop by the Ukiah Shelter and meet our staff favorite Heathcliff today! Healthcliff is neutered, so he is ready to make the trip to your house ASAP! Don't forget to check out the shelter's website at www.mendoanimalshelter.com for updated information on all dog and cat guests. To talk to the adoption coordinator, call 707-467-6453.
HOTTER THAN HOT
Temperature for April 2016 was warmest on record
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported April 2016 was the warmest April on record for the globe. The 12th consecutive month the earth has recorded its warmest respective month on record. Both the NASA and JMA also confirmed the new record. The month measured 1.98 F above the 20th century average. The temperature increase around the world is not uniform. Some areas such as Southeast Asia has extreme heat while other areas such as upstate New York had below normal weather. The reason for its cold weather was a jet stream that stayed in a winter-like pattern instead of moving into a summery one. Also, it was partially due to a fluctuation in the Arctic Oscillation. In northwest India the temperature reached 123.8 F. This increase was the hottest ever recorded in India. The record temperature is occurring during a second year of drought which I discussed in a previous letter. It needs to be noted India is a very poor country and the population does have air conditioning and other means to protect from the heat. They now have a health crisis coupled with a severe water shortage. Another year of extreme heat and drought will result in numerous deaths. I should also mention, it appears unlikely the climate changes set by the United Nations can be reached. As commented previously in a letter to the editor we will be at 400 ppm of C0 2 in the near future and do not seem to be able to get control of fossil burning fuel coupled by increased Methane in the atmosphere. It should be noted we have not had a record year since 1911.
In Love and peace,
A Reader Writes: This Spring we've had the most extraordinary, widespread, abundant blooming of wild irises since we moved to Anderson Valley a dozen years ago, including this rare beauty that we've never seen before.
What The Donald Learned from Roy Cohn
by Clancy Sigal
Not even a demented Hollywood casting director high on meth could have dreamed up a lowlife creep beast from 20,000 fathoms like Roy Cohn who was Donald Trump’s long time Rasputin.
Trump was a mere stripling of 27, the son of a racist real estate tycoon, when crooked, always-under-indictment lawyer Cohn got his claws on him. As Donald and his dad Fred faced federal charges of racial discrimination at the Trumps’ New York rental properties, young Trump turned to Roy Cohn, the city’s most notorious fixer, to fix it. Trump’s staff lawyers advised, We’re guilty so settle; Cohn said tell the Justice Dept. to go to hell.
ALWAYS ATTACK, NEVER APOLOGIZE, Cohn drilled into his protégé. Shameless makes money.
As Trump’s legal guru Cohn brokered huge tax abatements, made a matchmaking shidduch with the Mob for concrete work on Trump’s hotel projects, and wrote Donald’s grinch-like prenup with first wife Ivana.
Cohn’s half-insane pugnacity and Donald’s inherited money made for a marriage made in Dante’s Lower Inferno. They loved each other.
So who was this gantser makher, son of an observant Jewish judge, this Prince among movers and shakers who could with a phone call make good things happen to bad people?
In old crime movies Cohn would have played a shyster, squealer or stoolpigeon or all three. He was perfectly aware he looked the part and not only didn’t he care he reveled in his obnoxiousness. He brazenly presented himself as a sleazeball and a certain class of New Yorker loved him for it.
His negative charm was a valuable business asset in the way that mafiosos use their viciousness to intimidate competitors.
(Disclosure: I met Cohn once when I hung with a certain dubious layer of Manhatten’s upper crust. His photographs do him justice.)
Cohn’s papa, a state supreme court justice and a Democratic Party player, gave Sonny entrée to New York’s most powerful legal and business circles. Roy earned his spurs with a double whammy, at age 24, just out of law school, stage managing the corrupt prosecution of “atomic spies” Julius and Ethel Rosenberg sending Ethel to the electric chair even when, or because, he knew from his own key witness that she was not guilty as charged.
Violating the law, Cohn held secret “ex parte” talks with Judge Kaufman to ensure a death penalty for the couple.
Forever after he boasted of his accomplishment in killing the treasonous “kikes,” Cohn’s oft-used name for other Jews. (In the sensational trial by no coincidence the judge and prosecutors were Jews. Fearing anti-Semitic accusations of treason, respectable Jews were eager to “show the flag”.)
Inevitably, Cohn became chief counsel and Lord High Executioner to Sen. Joe McCarthy’s lurid “investigation” of people inside and outside the federal government suspected of spying, Communism and especially homosexuality.
Cohn himself was a barely closeted Jewish queer with a rare talent for destroying gays and fellow Jews.
“Not all Jews are communists,” he insisted, “but all communists are Jews.”
Cohn skillfully seduced the media by making friends with important journalists and gossip columnists, like Walter Winchell and Liz Smith, to whom he could feed juicy lies. CBS’s ’60 Minutes’ ran a laudatory profile of him.
Over several years, a drink-stupified and not very bright Joe McCarthy, getting his signals from the sexually ambiguous FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover and pushed, actually intimidated, by Cohn, destroyed dozens of careers and lives before a Watergate-type televised hearing exposed the Wisconsin wizard of Oz as a lying buffoon.
It was a simple case of over-reach when, again prodded by Cohn, McCarthy accused the US Army of treason (because it drafted one of his boyfriends) and Ike Eisenhower of being a “conscious agent of the communist conspiracy.” Back then the American public had a sense of humor.
But the damage had been done. In the wake of the Rosenberg trial and McCarthy hearings, “national security” and “loyalty” became religious obligations.
No surprise, Roy like Donald, dodged military service, once in WW2 by applying to West Point and deliberately flunking the exam and during the Korean war joining the National Guard.
After road raging through so many public lives, Roy Cohn “retired” to get rich (Rolls Royce, a yacht) in private practice where the only people he could screw were his own clients — all but Donald Trump who listened carefully, and permanently took on board, Cohn’s Iago-like Lessons In Life. Like Dr. Frankenstein, Cohn created the half-formed Trump in his own image.
For the next 30 years Roy Cohn enjoyed being a New York celebrity, back door dealer for Mafiosos like John Gotti, joined the John Birch Society and advised Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. Always under investigation for perjury and witness tampering, he was finally disbarred for stealing clients’ money. Once he entered the hospital room of a dying multimillionaire client and forced a pen to his hand to make himself the will’s beneficiary.
What goes around — sometimes — comes around. Next to the Red Scare the Lavender Scare was high on Cohn’s agenda.
Cohn in 1986, four months before he died
Scores of gay men in federal jobs were fired after he “exposed” them. It rippled outwards until thousands of gay guys, including my friends, were trapped in Cohn-and-McCarthy inspired waves of sexual hysteria.
Wildly promiscuous, Cohn kept denying he was gay and died of AIDS.
Next time you see Trump on TV don’t laugh or jeer or turn away. You’re watching 70 years of the bottom feeding side of American history.
(Clancy Sigal is a screenwriter and novelist. His latest book is Hemingway Lives.)
STUFF THAT WORKS.
"I was walking along the road with two friends. The sun was setting – the sky turned blood-red, and I felt a wave of sadness. I paused, tired to death. Above the blue-black fjord and city, blood and flaming tongues hovered. My friends walked on. I stayed behind, quaking with angst. I felt the great scream in nature. So I challenge the Mona Lisa and Whistler’s Mother!" –Edvard Munch
The recording of last night's (2016-05-20) KNYO and KMEC Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show is available to download for free via http://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com
I didn’t crack the tooth after all (see last week's post) but just bruised the lignin by biting wrong and jamming it into the socket, and that’ll fix itself. Dr. Mattson DDS explained the situation, deftly applied a little whirring tool to a couple of teeth in strategic locations, and voila! Now I can talk as fast as I want to, forget entirely about where my teeth are closing, and just shovel out the words and thoughts, and the esses /only very rarely/ make that fingernails-on-a-blackboard shriek instead of doing it every time I don’t put spare clock ticks into consciously driving the machine. It’s a weird, liberating sensation. You can hear the effect throughout this show, which rockets along through fair and foul material alike, with barely suppressed glee bubbling along the edges. The Human Holiday plays for about 40 minutes, starting at midnight-fifteen (3 hours and 15 minutes in), Elly Cooney called and read a story, and still I read a seven-hour show in six hours.
Really, I feel like Absolute Evil in Terry Gilliam’s /Time Bandits/, where Evil exults about how now HE has the map (“…and the day after tomorrow, the world!”). Actually I’ve always sort of identified with that character. At least he tried; at least he did that.
It’ll wear off, or rather become the new normal. Except– a generous lot of things have been going right for me lately, some of them my own doing, some not. Download the show and I’ll tell you about it.
Guy Clark died, and that’s not good, but everything can’t be good all the time, can it.
And also at http://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com you'll find a wide selection of links to not necessarily radio-useful but nonetheless interesting things to see and do and learn about, such as:
— Marco McClean
STEWART RESNICK IS ADVISOR to Embattled UC Davis Chancellor Katehi
The story that disgraced UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi didn't want you to read: The Katehi/Stewart Resnick Connection
by Dan Bacher
UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi, made infamous throughout the world for her leadership role at the university when students were pepper sprayed by campus police during an Occupy protest in the fall 2011, is under fire again.
Just as students called for her resignation because of the pepper spraying and student repression that occurred under her watch, Assemblyman Kevin McCarthy (D-Sacramento) on Friday, March 4, called for her to resign for accepting questionable paid corporate board seats with for-profit educational organizations. Other legislators have also joined McCarthy in calling for her to resign.
UC Davis students are currently occupying Chancellor Katehi’s office on the fifth floor of Mraka Hall as they demand that she resign or be fired. They are also demanding that “the hiring process is redesigned so that UC Davis students and workers are not only a part of this process, but a major deciding body in the selection and confirmation of a new Chancellor.” For more information, go to: firekatehiblog.wordpress.com
In February, Katehi took a board position with the De-Vry Education Group, a “for profit company under federal scrutiny for allegedly exaggerating job placement and income status,” according to the Sacramento Bee. She resigned from that position on March 1. (http://www.sacbee.com/news/investigations/the-public-eye/article64041327.html)
Then on Thursday, March 3, the Bee reported that “Katehi received a total of $420,000 in income and stock across the 2012 to 2014 fiscal years as a board member of John Wiley & Son’s a publisher of textbooks, college materials and scholarly materials.”
Katehi has apologized for accepting the corporate board positions – and said she will donate the money she received to student scholarships.
Kathehi’s acceptance of the paid board positions and her role in the pepper spray fiasco are just one of the controversies she has become enmeshed in during her career. When she served as provost at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign before assuming the UC Davis position in 2009, the Chicago Tribune revealed that hundreds of under-qualified students were admitted only after the intervention of powerful people. She told the San Francisco Chronicle that she knew nothing about these “improper admissions.” (www.sfgate.com/...)
In addition, Katehi plays a key role in the national security apparatus. In 2010 Katehi was appointed to the National Security Higher Education Advisory Board, “which promotes discussion and outreach between research universities and the FBI,” according to the UC Davis website. (www.ucdavis.edu/...)
“The board was established in 2005 and includes about 20 presidents and chancellors of major research universities,” Dave Jones reported in the “University News” section of the website. “The chair is Graham Spanier, president of Pennsylvania State University. Because of the nature of some of the material they discuss, board members must hold ‘secret’ security clearances.”
In the spring of 2011, internal UC Davis emails revealed surveillance and infiltration tactics employed by campus officials during campus tuition increase protests.
A Public Records Act request by UC Davis student Bryan Sparks resulted in the release of 280 pages of documents that “disclosed a surveillance and infiltration program by university officials to monitor, and shape the protests, and also the narrative reported by the news media, according to a news release from ACLU of Sacramento County. The documents dated from July 1, 2010 through December 6, 2010.
Board of Advisors has deepened corporate influence at UC Davis
Not only has Katehi profited from her positions with private educational and textbook organizations and has presided over a surveillance and infiltration program at the campus, but she has deepened corporate influence over the UC system by choosing Beverly Hills billionaire Stewart Resnick, a promoter of Governor Jerry Brown’s California Water fix to build the Delta Tunnels and many attacks on laws protecting salmon and Delta fisheries, as one of her Board of Advisors at UC Davis. (chancellor.ucdavis.edu/...)
Resnick serves with other corporate leaders such as Riley P. Bechtel, chairman of the board of the Bechtel Corporation, and John S. Watson, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of the Chevron Corporation, on the Board of Advisors. For the complete list of Katehi’s Board of Advisors, go to: chancellor.ucdavis.edu/…
The UC Davis website explains the purpose of Katehi’s Board of Advisors:
“Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi has created a Chancellor’s Board of Advisors to offer independent, expert advice on how the university can continue on its path toward academic excellence and financial strength and stability.
The board provides support, mentoring, guidance and expertise, helping the chancellor and campus leadership chart a course for UC Davis to become one of the nation’s top five public research universities.
The Chancellor’s Board of Advisors is comprised of a diverse group of leaders from business, science, the judiciary and academia. The advisors each bring a deep understanding of and commitment to UC Davis, its mission and its goals, including the recently announced 2020 Initiative and the campus’s Vision of Excellence. “
Resnicks are the “Koch Brothers of California Water”
Resnick, and his wife, Lynda, the co-owners of The Wonderful Company, are the Power Couple of Corporate Agribusiness in California who have become virtual royalty in a state known for its entrenched "pay to play" politics.
The Resnicks have become infamous as the "Koch Brothers of California Water" for the many thousands of dollars they contribute to candidates and propositions in California every election. For example, Stewart Resnick donated $150,000 to Yes on Prop 1, Governor Jerry Brown’s water bond campaign, in 2014. (www.dailykos.com/...)
They have also dumped many hundreds of thousands of dollars into the campaign coffers of Jerry Brown, Senator Dianne Feinstein and many other politicians, both Democrats and Republicans, over the years, along with making contributions to the arts and Stewart Resnick's favorite “environmental” NGO, Conservation International.
The Resnicks’ deep ties to the University of California system, including Stewart Resnick’s “service” on UC Davis and UCLA boards, comes as their foundation has donated millions of dollars to the university.
Resnicks serve on other UCLA and other university panels
Stewart Resnick’s position on the Board of Advisors of Chancellor Linda Katehi is not the only one in the educational system than he holds. According to the UC Davis website, Stewart Resnick is a member of the Executive Board of the UCLA Medical Sciences and a member of the Advisory Board of the Anderson School of Management, at UCLA , his alma mater. Resnick holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Juris Doctorate from UCLA Law School.
It is at UCLA where Resnicks exert their influence the most with the millions of dollars they have donated. On May 24, 2013, the UCLA School of Law announced that it had received a $4 million gift from the Resnick Family Foundation to establish the Resnick Program for Food Law and Policy.
"The gift provides for as much as another $3 million in matching endowment funds,” according to a news release from the UC School of Law. “The new program, the first of its kind at a top tier law school, will explore ways to hasten improvements in the modern food system. In addressing questions of food safety, distribution and access, the Resnick Program will focus on reforming food law and policy for the benefit of the consumer.” (law.ucla.edu/...)
Dean Rachel F. Moran praised the Resnicks for their donations, stating, “Alumnus Stewart Resnick ’62 and his wife Lynda, entrepreneurs and dedicated philanthropists, have long used their charitable donations to promote public health. We are deeply grateful for their generosity and their commitment to advancing sound food law and policy.”
Stewart Resnick explained his vision for the Resnick Program:
“UCLA Law is a globally respected institution of higher education located in the food capital of the world. We grow more food in California than anywhere else, and the emphasis on health and wellness here ideally positions UCLA to take a leadership position. The rise of the global food trade has generated a modern food system that is different than anything the world has ever experienced.
From the farm to the fork, this system has given rise to profound health, social, and cultural consequences. Our goal with this donation is to help consumers better understand exactly what they’re eating. It’s also an opportunity to improve the clarity and accuracy of food labeling and broaden access to healthy food options. I’m very optimistic that this program can save lives.”
Ironically, while Stewart Resnick claims to support broadening “access to healthy food options,” he has become the poster boy for industrialized corporate agribusiness, kept alive by unsustainable water exports. He and his wife have for years fought against laws that protect salmon and other fish, a healthy wild food source, and protect the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas.
UCLA hospital named after the Resnicks
University officials also named a hospital after the Resnicks, the Stewart & Lynda Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA (NPH), in "honor of their support" for UCLA’s medical care programs.
According to the hospital's website, the 74-bed acute psychiatric hospital is "among the leading centers in the world for comprehensive patient care, research and education in the fields of mental health, developmental disabilities and neurology. A key part of UCLA Health System, Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital is the major psychiatry teaching facility of the UCLA Center for the Health Sciences." (www.semel.ucla.edu/...)
The Resnicks contributed $15 million to the construction of the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center that opened in June 2008. In 2002, they received the UCLA Medal, the university’s highest honor, in recognition of their “extraordinary contributions to the campus.” In 2005, the law school bestowed upon Stewart the UCLA School of Law’s Alumni of the Year Award.
Resnick is also a member of the Board of Trustees of Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY; a member of the Board of Trustees of the J. Paul Getty Trust; and trustee of the California Institute of Technology.
The Resnicks have played an instrumental role in promoting campaigns to eviscerate Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for Central Valley Chinook salmon and Delta smelt populations and to build the fish-killing Delta Tunnels.
Marketing public water for profit
Resnick, while he served as an “environmental leader” on the Board of Directors of Conservation International, bought subsidized Delta water and then sold it back to the public for a big profit as Delta fish and Central Valley salmon populations crashed.
“As the West Coast’s largest estuary plunged to the brink of collapse from 2000 to 2007, state water officials pumped unprecedented amounts of water out of the Delta only to effectively buy some of it back at taxpayer expense for a failed environmental protection plan, a MediaNews investigation has found,” according an article by the late Mike Taugher in the Contra Costa Times on May 23, 2009. (www.revivethesanjoaquin.org/...)
Environmentalists have castigated the Resnicks, the largest orchard fruit growers in the world, and other corporate agribusiness interests for planting thousands of acres of new almond trees during the drought while Governor Jerry Brown is mandating that urban families slash water usage by 25 percent. (www.eastbayexpress.com/...)
Besides their influence over the UC system, the Resnicks' have spent millions on arts and charities through the Resnick Family Foundation.
The Resnicks have managed to use their wealth not only to exert enormous influence over water politics in California, but over the educational sphere as well, as we can see.
In addition to serving on UC Davis and UCLA boards and panels, the Resnicks have also extended their influence over California water policy by forming “Astroturf” groups like the Coalition for a Sustainable Delta and the Californians for Water Security to promote the construction of Jerry Brown’s Delta Tunnels and legislative attacks on the Endangered Species Act and other laws protecting Central Valley salmon and steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt and other fish species. (restorethedelta.org/...)
Among the companies the Resnicks own include Paramount Citrus, Paramount Farming and Paramount Farms, “the world’s largest growers, processors and marketers of citrus, almonds and pistachios,” according to UC Davis. Their holdings also include POM Wonderful, grower of pomegranates and maker of the POM Wonderful pomegranate juice; Teleflora, the largest floral wire service in the world; and FIJI Water, the largest imported bottled water in the United States.
The couple also owns Suterra, the “largest biorational pest control company” in the United States, and JUSTIN Vineyards and Winery, a winery based in Paso Robles focusing on Bordeaux-style blends and single varietals.
Westlands Water District also exerts enormous influence
While the Resnicks exert enormous influence over California politics and institutions, another agribusiness giant, the Westlands Water District, rivals them in their ability to manipulate environmental politics in California. An article in the New York Times on December 30, 2015 exposes the huge political power that Westlands wields in state and national politics.
"A water utility on paper, Westlands in practice is a formidable political force, a $100 million-a-year agency with five lobbying firms under contract in Washington and Sacramento, a staff peppered with former federal and congressional powers, a separate political action committee representing farmers and a government-and-public-relations budget that topped $950,000 last year," the Times said. (www.nytimes.com/...)
Linda Katehi’s drawing of income from corporate boards, the presence of Stewart Resnick on the boards of UC Davis and UCLA, and the formidable political force that Westlands Water District represents are just three examples of the growing collaboration between corporations, billionaires and government in California and across the nation that has led to the capture of the regulatory apparatus by Big Money interests.