Off the Record (Jun 1, 2016)
by AVA News Service, June 1, 2016
GOTTA HAND IT TO MENDOLIB. They're always hustling — not to make the County (or the country) work a little better, hustling to get people like themselves into the high paying public jobs in all of the County's public bureaucracies. Who are they? Lots of trust funders, lots of people who already hold cush jobs in city and County government, non-profit grifters, the people who think the Democratic Party is the way forward, comfortable people who'd garrote grandma for an inch of advantage, people who think it's simply wonderful that Jared Huffman is our congressman, and a pair of Healdsburg nerf balls represent nobody but themselves at the state level.
EXCUSE the sweeper here, but this Mendolib apparatus, like some kind of insatiable succubus, is fastened to the necks of about 70 percent of us, and whatever and whoever they support you can be sure represents more of the same times ten.
THE VOTERS of Mendocino County might be about to anoint Fort Bragg attorney Patrick Pekin as our next Superior Court Judge. How can a virtual unknown come out of nowhere and beat a better qualified and experienced attorney like Keith Faulder? The short answer is Fort Bragg attorney Steve Antler. Antler runs a cottage industry hiring himself out as a campaign manager. Antler's strategy depends on networking Democratic Party insiders to form a solid base of coast lib and inland lib. Antler and Pekin spent a lot of time over the last year touring around the county with Antler making the introductions and getting paid for his time. Pekin's job was to mouth the usual platitudes about treating everyone fairly, while avoiding saying anything of real substance, then earnestly asking for an endorsement.
WE BELIEVE the voters have a choice between one candidate with superior qualifications over the other with sparse experience. We also believe that probably half the people who endorsed Pekin did so without really knowing anything much about the guy or even whether anyone else was running for the seat vacated by Judge David Nelson. Their decision to endorse Pekin, in effect, was made in a vacuum. As it turned out, Ukiah defense attorney, and former interim District Attorney, Keith Faulder, had decided to run for judge but gallantly waited until Nelson announced his retirement before starting his campaign. By then Antler and Pekin had already circled the Mendo block several times and Pekin had a who's who of libs already in the bag.
COAST LIBS for Pekin include Antler, the inevitable Rachel Binah, Lee Edmundson, Margaret Mary O'Rourke, former Fort Bragg City Councilmember and current KZYX Board of Directors Chair Meg Courtney, Fort Bragg City Manager Linda Ruffing, disgraced former Supervisor Kendall Smith, and Jeff Tyrell, the former district rep for State Senator Noreen Evans. Inland lib is represented by Ukiah Mayor Steve Scalmanini, former Ukiah Mayor Jim Mastin, charter county proponent Robin Sunbeam, Lynda McClure, Ginger Poulson, Joe Louis Wildman and Willits City Council members Madge Strong and Jolly Holly Madrigal. (In addition to Sunbeam, Pekin is also endorsed by at least half the candidates for the Charter Commission, almost all of whom are card-carrying members of coast or inland lib.)
ODDLY ENOUGH, Pekin also rounded up conservative Fort Bragg realtor Paul Clark and the equally conservative Madeleine Melo, widow of Fort Bragg forester and City Council member Jere Melo, who was murdered by Aaron Bassler. Melo was investigating reports of a trespass marijuana grow which turned out instead to be an opium poppy garden. Mrs. Melo has dedicated her life to warning others of the dangers that trespass marijuana gardens pose to woods workers and those who just enjoy going for a hike, as well as the environmental destruction of trespass marijuana grows. Why she would endorse an unknown against a man endorsed top to bottom by law enforcement, is a mystery. Pekin also gained the endorsement of Martha Barra, wife of Employer's Council stalwart Charlie Barra, and conservative Mayor Bruce Burton of Willits. We think it goes back to Pekin making the rounds before anyone knew there was another candidate in the race. Pekin himself is a blandly acceptable character with chameleon tendencies who allow others to see him as one of them.
PEKIN lost no time getting introduced to the marijuana advocacy groups. He and Faulder were both on a panel at a cannabis confab held in Willits a few months back. But Pekin got the endorsement of marijuana movement lawyers Omar Figueroa and E.D. Lehrman, both of whom were also at the Willits event. Neither is a resident of the county but Pekin and Antler no doubt think the endorsements send the right signal to the stoner community. Faulder is well known as a successful defense attorney who handles a lot of marijuana cases, but he was also known as a tough prosecutor, including marijuana cases. He's been effective on both sides of the street. The pot growers have no reason to think Pekin will cut them slack, but they know Faulder won't. Faulder's current status as attorney of choice for marijuana defendants is testimony to his courtroom skill, but ironically may have cost him the support of anti-weed warriors like Bruce Burton and Madeleine Melo.
PEKIN has also made much of his status as a volunteer firefighter, although we question how many calls he has really been on. Where are the photos of Pekin rushing into the burning building? Comforting the accident victim? They may exist but if they did we would probably have seen or heard about them by now. What with full time campaigning for judge for the last year, and a three year old and a pair of one year old twins at home, we doubt candidate Pekin has much time to answer the fire alarm bell. But it has been enough to get him the endorsement of about ten of the local fire chiefs, including Anderson Valley Chief Andres Avila.
PEKIN'S other claim to fame is that he has coached high school students in mock trial competitions, which is admirable but hardly the deciding factor in the race for Superior Court Judge. Faulder, a married man with grown daughters, has also coached mock trial competitions and serves on the Board of Directors of Project Sanctuary which provides shelter and services to victims of domestic violence. Both candidates are willing to take the time to volunteer in our community and we are willing to believe they are both Nice People, and maybe even nice people, who enjoy the devotion of their wives and children. But who will make a better judge?
PEKIN'S endorsement list, in addition to being top heavy with coast and inland lib, a who's who of public job holders, also has some real deal killers. We have already mentioned Kendall Smith who brazenly defrauded the County out of thousands of dollars of travel reimbursement for travel she did not take. After three Grand Jury investigations found against her she still refused to pay. It took the threat of arrest and prosecution from current District Attorney David Eyster to force Smith to pay up a small fraction of what she actually stole. Pekin is also endorsed by former Mendocino County Superintendent of Schools Paul Tichinin whose only accomplishment in twenty years in office was raising his own pay and taking taxpayer funded jaunts around the country. Tichinin even had the gall to ask for a retroactive pay raise after he left office. Talk about negative endorsements!
FINALLY, Pekin is endorsed by former judges Jonathan Lehan and Kirk Gustafson. Credible reports say Lehan was fortunate to escape public charges regarding his, ahem, less than professional conduct in the workplace. Gustafson, unable to hack the rigors of a 10 in the morning until 2 in the afternoon workload, retired very young on stress disability saying, it was just too much for a sensitive guy like me, but thanks for the free money for the rest of my life. Lehan and Gustafson on their best days in the black robes were marginally competent so it is not clear why Pekin values their endorsements. Probably because he's like the guy walking cold into the bar at Star Wars. When his eyes are full adjusted to the barroom gloom he'll quickly make for the exit.
MARGINAL JUDICIAL COMPETENCE brings us back to the Honorable Clayton L. Brennan, who presides over the Ten Mile Court in Fort Bragg. Brennan, married to former Ukiah Mayor Mari Rodin at the time, was a circuit riding defense attorney, specializing in drunk driving cases. Brennan made it a point to show up in court in seven different counties to troll up enough cases to make a living. Most courts in modern day America are run on a sort of factory system with defendants serving as the raw material that gets ground into a type of sausage that sustains the defense and prosecution attorneys, investigators, expert witnesses, bailiffs, and judges. The average drunk driving defendant shows up for arraignment without an attorney and without any idea what is happening to him or her. Attorneys like Clay Brennan, with no reputation or ability to attract clients on their own, are always on hand, hoping to be appointed to represent the unfortunate defendants. Mommy Brennan was or is a federal judge. Mom's help was significant in getting Brennan his sinecure at Ten Mile.
AWARE that one of the sitting judges planned to retire, Brennan got with Steve Antler to make the introductions to coast lib and line up endorsements. Antler, as promised, and as he was paid to do, delivered coast lib for Brennan. Inland lib was no problem as Brennan was married to Ukiah Mayor Mari Rodin who easily enlisted inland lib, perennially oblivious to wider realities and, ah, ethically flexible, who were eager to take up the cry that Clay needs a job. Mari had long grown tired of the extra childcare duties that fell to her while hubbykins made the rounds of seven counties piecing together a marginal living as a lawyer. Brennan, with the help of Antler, was an easy winner at the polls. But it quickly became apparent that Brennan was a decided underachiever when it came to understanding the law or applying it. After a series of embarrassing gaffes, Brennan was exiled to Fort Bragg where his marginal abilities generally go unnoticed.
PEKIN AND BRENNAN share a number of other similarities besides paying Steve Antler to hard wire them with coast and inland lib. Like Brennan, who was a full blown circuit rider trolling the courts, Pekin also sought clients from among a captive audience as he was assigned to represent state prison inmates. Pekin says he was selected because of his legal expertise. The fact is, he put his name on a list because he needed clients just like Brennan needed clients. Also like Brennan, Pekin seems to have plenty of time to campaign. If Pekin was the hot shot lawyer his ads say he is, he would not have time to campaign virtually full time for a solid year. Faulder, on the other hand, has to balance his time on the campaign trail with his duty to represent a full stable of clients.
FAULDER has more experience as an attorney, and his experience is broader and more varied, having been both a prosecutor and a defense attorney. Faulder's full caseload alone proves his skill. We also give the edge to Faulder based on his many more years of working and living in Mendocino County. We think it is important that our local judges fully understand the on the ground experience of life in Mendocino County. Faulder is smart, capable, accomplished and has the legal and life experience that best qualify him to serve as judge.
EQUAL OPPORTUNITY MUD SLING. We've got Monterey County Court Docket #MS217018A dated 8/11/03 when 2016 Mendo County judicial candidate, Patrick Pekin, was stopped by the CHP for a suspected DUI. Pekin refused all tests and was subsequently convicted of a misdemeanor.
A NON-COOPERATIVE officer of the court with black robe aspirations? The indication here is that we've got a candidate who thinks the law is there to be manipulated for one's own benefit, which isn't the guy we want judging us. What we want are honest drunks of the type we used to have in this gloriously corrupt county, the guys who were driven home by the cops after the annual lawyer's debauch at Lake Mendocino.
SO WE HAVE PEKIN'S FLIER featuring the candidate flanked by the former Ten Mile judge who flashed his female staffers. When staffer complained, she got moved to Willits, Judge Flasher was shuffled off to Ukiah by then-presiding judge Ron Brown until all was forgiven but not forgotten.
THE OTHER JUDGE in Pekin's errant mailer is James Luther who, in our experience with him, was a total power lackey, the kind of passive-aggressive who seemed to enjoy maxing-out the doomed souls who appeared before him, doomed souls making up about 90 percent of the people appearing as defendants in courts everywhere in our class-based legal land. (Luther put me in jail a couple of times as part of a DA Massini's scheme to get a defendant's lawyer, not that I was innocent, but I was the fall guy in the deal, which Luther had to have known. Then again, dim as he is, it's hard to say what he knows or doesn't know.)
THEN THE GUY we think (and hope) should be judge, Keith Faulder, shows up in a flier featuring, of all people, Judge Vincent Lechowick. Lechowick also put me in jail, but again, I was not entirely innocent, although Lechowick gave me 60 days for disturbing the peace, more time on that particular charge than anybody in the history of the county. Lechowick presided, Queeg-like, over a raucous trial in Point Arena. The prosecutor was our present DA David Eyster. (As the world turns!) We assumed during that trial that the judge was nuts and, like Luther, not the smartest guy out there in the fog belt.
WHEN LECHOWICK presided over the old Point Arena Court in PA's bowling alley, which was in the day when justice came to the communities it allegedly served rather than us to them in Ukiah where most of them live, Lechowick kicked off a major controversy when he falsely accused his court clerk, Cathy Scaramella, of stealing court cash. She later received a $20,000 payout from the County years after Lechowick had dragged her through the mud with no evidence that the charges against her were true.
BTW, the more or less Covelo-based judge, Ron Combest, had the nerve to publicly complain about having to drive to PA from his home in Round Valley to hear a case! This closet monarchist is probably out there somewhere in Justice Land fumbling with his steel balls and talking to himself. Their honors have long since moved everything to Ukiah and are now about to build a brand new County Courthouse which, of course, will consist entirely of their lavish courtrooms and a few offices for ancillary staff. ("Debbie! How many times do I have to tell you? Two sugars, not one!") Everyone else, including the DA and the Public Defender, will have to come to them.
WE SUCCESSFULLY SUED to get Lechowick's divorce file unsealed as the former Mrs. Lechowick checked briefly into Project Sanctuary. As public record, the Lechowick domestic saga should not have been sealed in the first place. Yours, brothers and sisters, are available for anybody who cares to look. You think doctors protect each other? Try judges. And lawyers. Lechowick was trying to hide his failure to pay child support. Lechowick, assisted by his ethically challenged judicial colleagues, brought in a visiting judge who re-sealed his divorce file piece by piece. Everyone else's domestic tragedies are, of course, public record.
IN THE LATE 1990s, Lechowick ran over a street guy on Highway 101. The judge said the guy stumbled out in front of his car. The circumstances were murky and we only have his honor's dubious word for what happened.
JUDGE LECHOWICK went on to seduce the pretty young wife of a Ukiah-based UPS driver by buying her cars and jewelry. The UPS driver told us all about it and always came over to buy extra AVAs whenever Lechowick's name was in the paper. We hope he recovered.
ALL OF THIS substantiates our oft-repeated claim that in Mendocino County you are whatever you say you are, and history starts all over again every day.
A READER WRITES: "Faulder is obviously the best qualified candidate for judge, but Pekin has been running full time for a year or more. And he has managed to convince several niche groups, like the firefighters and charter county proponents, that he is their guy. Also, don't discount the anti-Ukiah bias that plays well on the coast and north county. That is always worth a few percentage points. And because Pekin does not have a viable law practice he has the time to go door to door in Ukiah and Willits which he has been doing. All things being equal, there is a strong tendency to vote for the candidate that knocked on your door and asked for your vote. People interpret it to mean the candidate cares about them. When, in fact, he cares more about securing a lifetime sinecure for himself. And you'll never see him again unless you murder your mate.
CANDIDATE PEKIN is the proverbial pig in a poke — no one really knows anything about the guy or where he came from. And there is something fundamentally dishonest about the Pekin campaign. He says he has "tried" hundreds of cases, including homicide and gang cases, implying that he is a tough on hard crime kind of guy. The fact is, he never "tried" a single homicide or gang case — instead, he defended state prison inmates charged with crimes that they committed while already locked up. Like your previous article pointed out, he got those cases by putting himself on a list because he couldn't find enough clients to represent on his own. The fact he would try to fool people into thinking he was a tough on crime prosecutor is proof of bad character. Do we really want this guy sitting in judgment of us?"
A UKIAH WOMAN called recently to clear up a billing problem having to do with her name change notice. (It was our mistake and our customer relations desk quickly resolved the matter.) She added that she had paid over $600 in total for her name change including over $460 in court fees. We explained that most of that money goes to finance the new courthouse.
"What new courthouse?"
"The one the judges are building for themselves in Ukiah that we don’t need. They get new courthouses for themselves by overcharging you to have your name changed."
"No reason at all, really. They say it has something to do with earthquakes and disabled people and security and juveniles. But obviously it does not take a new courthouse to fix those problems. So the next time you're in there, ask them why they're wasting your money on a new courthouse."
THE LATEST TURMOIL AT KZYX: “Cur Mudgeon” wrote on the Coast chatline about Stuart Campbell: “But if this guy really is as Stalin-esque as you say - and I'm not arguing with your assessment of him, because I don't know him - how could the entire board and members not realize it ? Wouldn't any clear-thinking member recognize this and get rid of him somehow ? It is a listener - supported organization, after all; not everyone could be fooled. Could they?” (In Amnesia County? Are you kidding?)
MARCO MACLEAN REPLIED: "First of all, not quite Stalinesque but rather Nixonian. And not everybody has to be fooled but only enough people. Make a list in your mind of historical figures who were voted into office, and had close friends, and loved puppies and bunnies, and were terrible people who did terrible things and nonetheless had their cadres of fatuous and staunch supporters (such as Tim Bray) who all pointed out that they were voted into office, sometimes many times in a row, and people complaining about beheadings and gassings and fingers in the till should shut up and get with the program. Get this: Stuart Campbell was not voted into his current position on the board by the general membership. We were not permitted to vote either for or against him. The root of this is the subject of pending legal proceedings that rightly threaten the nonprofit status of MCPB, the corporation that controls KZYX. If they lose NP status, they lose their annual six-figure CPB grant, and they'll have to learn to operate like other radio stations that somehow survive without a tax money derived bailout every year, and they won't be able to do it. Without that annual shot in the arm, which amounts to not only a shot, nor an arm, but a whole replacement body from the arms down, MCPB would have failed every year of its existence, going all the way back to the 1980s, and the boardmembers aren't equipped to answer that. They're having secret sweaty consultations with their legal advisors right now. They've asked Dennis O'Brien for a few more weeks to think about how to respond, and I don't know why he said, sure, fine, take a few more weeks, but he did. Maybe he did because he knows that losing their nonprofit status would also cost them their license to keep feeding a total of $20 a day in electricity to their three transmitters that together cover the county. Maybe he wants to give them a chance to finally grow up, to improve. Anyway, those weeks are running out. You don't know anything about that, either, because of the lack of transparency characteristic of everything about KZYX, the same lack of transparency behind your not knowing anything about Stuart Campbell and how he operates. Sakowicz is right on this score.
Other radio stations that pay their managers and office people well also manage to pay their airpeople, who are the ones doing what any community radio station is there for in the first place. Stuart Campbell, currently on the board as the so-called representative of the airpeople, has never spoken up for the airpeople in any way, much less to get them paid even a pittance for their work, and he's been a power in the station for years and years. When he was board chairman, he refused to insert in the public inspection file anything sent in by the public or membership that he wanted kept secret. He refused to accept into the public record anything written to the board. He personally intercepted email to the board and spoke for the board in replying. He appointed the members of the manager search committee, then applied to the same committee to be manager at $60,000/yr. And right now he's the chairman of the so-called programming committee and the finance committee. The idea of such a creature sitting with the levers of power arrayed around him is appalling. The list of his sleazy perfidy is as long as your arm, speaking of arms. And, to be fair, it isn't just Stuart Campbell. MCPB has been a rat king since the beginning. Look up/rat king. Tails, not arms. It'll be interesting to read Raoul's take on his experience at KZYX. He writes that he'll provide it soon. He has to decompress a little, and anybody can understand that. (Marco McClean, Mendocino)
WE'RE SORRY to see KZYX’s recently hired program director, Raoul van Hall leave after such a brief time in place. We enjoyed cordial relations with him and found him to be pleasant and smart.
HE EXPLAINS why he left with more explaining to come: "Ultimately, there were several factors that made me decide to leave. For the record, it wasn't the volunteers, the staff, the board or the self-appointed 'community radio police' that drove me away. It was internal politics. It was also something else… I basically retired a couple years ago. After the passing of my girlfriend, I decided to leave Portland and work at one last radio station for the final chapter of my career. What I'd hoped for was a gathering of artisans and intellectuals within a group of volunteers and staff working towards common goals. And a radio station that was at the hub of a beautiful and peaceful place. What I found instead at KZYX was a microcosm of what's wrong with society in general: nastiness and a lack of civil discourse. And also a level of cronyism that was going to prevent me from being effective at my job— or being happy. While I certainly met some great people at KZYX and in the community, the growing list of negatives finally made the decision easy. Since I don't really need to work full-time anymore, it wasn't worth it. I'll be quite content working from my home studio again. Thank you for being an open and welcoming person with me while I was there. I wish you great health and success. And happiness." — Raoul van Hall
ALLOW US TO SPECULATE a bit on what Mr. van Hall is saying: He tried to make a couple of simple but obviously needed improvements by proposing the replacement of one or two of the old-line (music) programmers, but the push back was strident and angry because (insert name here) would only give up his/her program if you pried it from his/her cold, dead hands. And if you wonder why the same long over-the-hill on-air people (mostly music programmers, decidedly not “artisans and intellectuals”) have been in place doing the same boring schtick for going on three decades now…
WE THINK KZYX should be disbanded and restructured to ensure community control. KMUD in nearby Garberville provides an excellent organizational model independent of federal grants. KMUD arose out of community meetings. KZYX arose out of the private enterprise of a single individual, a Limbaugh Republican named Sean Donovan who managed to get himself paid about $30,000 for his organizational work. The decision to pay him was made by the management group Donovan had appointed to run the station in his stead.
DONOVAN POISONED KZYZ in its crib by organizing it as forever self-appointed and self-succeeding. And it was headquartered in the Anderson Valley, thus ensuring domination by non-linear stoners with liberal-ish pretensions. Whatever other virtues the core group may have possessed it was always short on discipline, long on petty feuding and even pettier jealousies.
ONE OF DONOVAN'S first acts, even before ensuring his 30 grand, was to fire talented radio people like Mitch Clogg and Marco McClean. From there on it the station was dominated by a parade of marginally competent, fearful people who have kept the place broke and in turmoil ever since.
THE PRIMARY WAY KZYX is fundamentally screwed-up is its bloc of programmers, enough of them to vote as a bloc for that management least likely to interfere with them. There is a core of programmers at the station whose corpses will be found slumped over the station's ancient turntable. They can't be removed, they'll never leave. A new manager, let alone a new program manager, who threatens the life tenure of this death-grip claque of bores and their scheming allies on the station's inert board of trustees, is fought full-time and, ultimately, undermined. It will be a minor miracle if the newly appointed station manager, a pleasant and capable woman named Lorraine Dechter, can survive the machinating aspirations of a jv academic called Stuart Campbell who appeared out of nowhere to easily win over the station's dominant mediocrities, but, miraculously, didn't get the boss job over Dechter. The infighting, back-biting, and internal sabotage that goes on at KZYX is astounding given the small stakes involved, but the net effect of the unending turmoil has cost the station what little community support it had. Ms. Dechter, and the now departed Raoul van Hall, have represented the long needed fresh air, but these new faces have been immediately subjected to the age-old sabotage from the station's entrenched chronophages, collectively in person and on air, a kind of instant audio chloroform.
STATION TRUSTEES are also largely self-selecting. When they leave, if they ever leave, they tap their soul bros and sis's to succeed them. The pure idiots on the board — there are at least three— led by the ubiquitous Campbell, are enough to finish off any non-profit, but it's unlikely the sane trustees will move against them. It wouldn't be "appropriate," as the fascist wing of Mendolib characterize people and opinions they disapprove of. And the entire board doesn't do what a non-profit board is supposed to do — raise money and keep the enterprise solvent. KMUD doesn't need federal grants to keep afloat. Neither does KPFA. KZYX should regroup as a true community radio station wholly dependent on the community it serves. In its present state it could not do that. It has alienated too many people in a population of only 90,000 to begin with.
A READER DISAGREES: "Sean Donovan was long gone from the station when he asked for, and was ultimately paid, the $30,000 you refer to (I remembered it as $25,000, but you may be right on that one. The justification? He needed money and his friends at the station were in a position to give it to him. So the board voted approval. But Donovan had already departed Mendocino County months earlier. Also, Stuart Campbell is no idiot as I understand the word. But who are the other two on the board that you believe fall into that category?" [Ed note: Months. That's right. He was gone months before the station's trustees, their own purses welded shut, forked over membership money to the guy. There are all kinds of idiocy, much of it benign, but not in his case.]
WAITING FOR RAOUL. Raoul van Hall, recently resigned Program Director at KZYX promises, "I will be writing a letter detailing my reasons for leaving KZYX. We expect the usual sad litany of a capable person disillusioned by his Mendo experience, having arrived assuming the institution was run and staffed by regular people with normal standards of behavior. But it doesn't take long to realize you've walked into an audio horror show whose closets can't contain its overflowing skeletons, and bad people stalk the halls, daggers at the ready.
MOVE OVER BOTANICAL GARDENS! Fort Bragg's Hospitality House has $187,049.00 "Giving Garden" grant is good for three years. So, like, where's the garden, and, like, how come it costs so much?
SIGN OF THE TIMES, Fort Bragg: On Wednesday, May 25, 2016, at about 9:00 AM, Kay Graves, an elderly woman living alone, was in her kitchen when she was confronted by a strange man suddenly standing beside her. The man was wearing fabric tied around the lower portion of his face to conceal his identity. He demanded that Ms. Graves give him money. Ms. Graves told the intruder that she did not have any money but he persisted, and continued to demand that Ms. Graves give him what she had. The intrepid Ms. Graves insisted that she did not have money to give him and, when the shameless bandido turned to leave, Ms. Graves saw that he was holding a large black handgun at his side. The man walked out of Ms. Graves’ house and then ran east into the woods. Ms. Graves called 911. Mendocino County Sheriff's deputies soon arrived and quickly identified nearby resident Matthew Rantala, one of a fluid gang of tweekers occupying a nearby house, as the one and only suspect. Rantala was arrested and the disguise that he wore during his bold hold-up of the old woman was recovered, as was the handgun. The handgun was found to be a replica firearm. Rantala was subsequently lodged in the Mendocino County Jail on charges of armed robbery, residential burglary, and personal use of a deadly weapon, with bail set at $200,000.
A READER CALLING HIMSELF MR. WENDEL commented on our recent post about the slow moving mental health transition from the nebulous-to-invisible services offered by a private business from Yuba City presided over by a slippery individual called Ortner, to a private Ukiah business called Redwood Quality Management Company. He started out by quoting from our story, “Waiting for Ortner” by Mark Scaramella: "A few more meetings have been held and various agencies and companies ‘continue’ to do various amorphous things, but that's about it."
MR. WENDEL’S COMMENT: It's all amorphous and will continue to be amorphous until the supervisors ask for details and a specific transition plan. Supervisor Gjerde is beginning to go deep, but the reply he invariably gets is versions of questions from the County employees he's asked for information. Then they say that if he really wants the information he's asked for they will get it for him, as if Gjerde hadn't asked for it in the first place. Assuming the County's donut munchers even have the information, or can find it, which are dually shaky assumptions, there's this odd reluctance to share it. And just try getting financials out of Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center, to name the most egregious fiscal case going. Their billings to Ortner ought to be a real hoot after seeing their Giving Garden invoices.
THE OLD KAFKA SHUFFLE. That male Ukiah High School teacher accused of making an "inappropriate comment" to a female student has resigned, choosing not to contest the claim although the DA’s office could find no evidence that he'd said or done anything "inappropriate." Or inappropriate enough to bring perv charges against him.
ENTER MR. KAFKA: The unnamed teacher had been suspended when the unnamed student said he'd tossed an unspecified "sexual innuendo" her way. Neither the alleged lech nor the offended student is named, and goodness knows we, the great inappropriate mass of citizens, can't be told what exactly constituted the "sexual innuendo" that has ruined this man's life.
THE ASSUMPTION by the cringing school authorities (and never has authority been so poorly invested than in these cringing feebs) is that the girl was telling the truth, that she must be protected from inappropriateness because she's too young to defend herself, and he remains unnamed because no action was taken to permanently remove him from his probationary position. It seems the school simply waited the guy out until he quit after being quizzed by the Ukiah cops who took their findings to the DA. The DA couldn't find anything to prosecute.
THE UNNAMED MUSIC TEACHER'S putative teaching career is, of course, ruined. Any place he applies the Ukiah school officials, cringing ass coverers that they are, will say, "Well, he was investigated for making an inappropriate sexual remark to one of our presumptively virginal students who has managed to reach her teen years in our sex-drenched society without experiencing the vulgarity this unprofessional, priapic beast subjected her to."
ON THE OTHER HAND, it seems the accused teacher would rather shuffle off into Prevalent Porno Land without defending himself against the accusation. Why? Maybe he did it. Maybe he scared the girl. Maybe he thought better of spending long years with television-raised gadget-heads. But maybe the girl was lying, or inflating what the guy said. Maybe she comes from one of the new micro-aggression homes where the simplest, most innocent comment from a man is viewed as the first step in an all-out sexual assault.
DA SPOKESMAN Mike Geniella summed it up this way, “We had not found compelling evidence to substantiate the claim of inappropriate conduct, and since he has resigned, the case seemed moot."
WARRIORS SHOOTING GUARD Klay Thompson told the media in Oklahoma after Saturday’s tension filled win to even the playoff series against the Oklahoma City Thunder that if the Warriors stay close and don’t fall far behind they don’t lose confidence because "We got a team with great spurtability." “Great Spurtability” thus goes into the AVA’s lexicon of recent coinages with “Dozergrow,” the heedless scraping of the landscape to make a quick buck growing pot or grapes, joining “hill muffins,” “Mendolib, Coastlib and Inlandlib,” “strange bongfellows,” ‘Quickdraw’ Wattenburger," Tom ‘I’m looking into it’ Mitchell, “hipneck,” and Doug ‘Oil Can’ Bosco.