- Mendocino County
- Anderson Valley
by AVA News Service, July 27, 2016
“BASED ON THE ANALYSIS provided by Mendocino County HHSA, the projected annual cost for staffing and operating a 16-bed psychiatric facility in Mendocino County would be $6,703,095…”
SO BEGINS the fiscal analysis done by County CEO Carmel Angelo’s chief budget staffer Alan ‘The Kid’ Flora who was asked to do the analysis in preparation for a 500-word ballot statement to accompany Sheriff Tom Allman’s Mental Health Facilities measure which will be on the November ballot. Flora did a fairly detailed analysis of revenues and estimated expenditures and concluded that the facility would cost almost $5 million more than current revenues would cover. This conclusion prompted a lengthy but fundamentally misplaced follow-up discussion which saw Sheriff Allman describe Flora’s analysis as “a good 50% analysis,” and as a “worst case scenario.”
ALLMAN was probably referring to the revenue side (50%) of Flora’s analysis, which correctly summed up the County’s existing revenue streams aimed at mental health services.
BUT FLORA AND ANGELO’S expense side of the analysis, the other 50% that Allman was presumably talking about, was in a word, preposterous:
“As described in the methodology section above, this projection is based upon the following: 1) required staffing for such facilities (type of personnel and number) under state regulation; use of county personnel; average statewide cost of such personnel in California; and, the standard Mendocino County overhead rate. Because the facility is a 24-hour facility, the projection must include staffing for a 24-hour period. This calls for a total of 33 required staff to operate the facility, which includes one (1) Physician/Psychiatrist, and one (1) on-call Psychiatrist; one (1) Psychologist; one (1) Clinical Social Worker; ten (10) Registered Nurses; ten (10) Mental Health Clinicians; ten (10) Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVN); and, three administrative staff. For comparison, the Humboldt County Department of Health Services reported estimated actual operating costs for Humboldt County’s 16-bed acute inpatient psychiatric facility, Sempervirons, were $6.2 million in FY 2015-16.”
SHERIFF ALLMAN tried to explain that there was no reason to project that the facility would have 16 beds and multi-million dollar deficits for staffing the facility. He said the Supes might instead ask: How could we spend the $27 million the County now spends on mental health with this new facility in the mix? “This measure will not cause a deficit,” insisted Allman, “the commission [the one proposed to oversee the project if approved by ballot] will figure this out. We will tailor the project to the existing funds.”
TAMMY MOSS-CHANDLER, the County’s newly hired HHSA director, cagily avoided taking a position on the issue but did point out that the $27 million includes almost $10 million of children’s mental health services expended separately from Allman’s initiative and means that the correct annual mental health budget at issue is more like $17 million (and a lot of that is spent on administration).
ALLMAN PUT THE BOARD on the defensive by adding that it seemed to him that “The purpose of this presentation is to generate a negative perception of project like this.”
BUT IN FACT it was more about assuming staffing levels that will simply never happen. Where is the County going to find ten Registered Nurses; ten Mental Health Clinicians; and ten Licensed Vocational Nurses?
ALLMAN told the Board that the County had made three big mistakes in the last few decades: Giving away most of the Lake Mendocino water to Sonoma County (Major Scaramella’s Uncle Joe Scaramella was the only Supervisor at the time to vote against that short-sighed decision); the selling of the Talmage State Hospital to the Buddhists for around $250k (another one that Joe Scaramella adamantly opposed, although at the time he was a retired Supervisor), and the closing of the Psychiatric Hospital Facility (PHF/”Puff”) unit in 1999. “We can’t correct #1 or #2,” said Allman, “but we can fix the PHF error.”
ALLMAN also said it was unfair to assume that the staff would all be county employees with all their perks, noting that local hospitals and non-profits don’t do it like that. And, Allman noted, the “analysis” didn’t factor in how many beds could be rented out to neighboring counties like Lake County.
ALLMAN insisted that the Flora/CEO analysis was deeply flawed because it didn’t make any attempt to figure out a way to staff the facility with existing funds. “The assumptions made are not true,” said Allman. “I’ve been working with the CEO on this, but our disagreements are based on some board members who have philosophical differences with this. We cannot be comfortable with what we have. None of you have a better solution, but you say this is wrong. You better rethink this. People want this, but three Supervisors have supported [don't] this” — a reference to Supervisors Hamburg, McCowen and Gjerde who refused to sign the petition that Allman and his group circulated to get the measure on the ballot, citing their worry about how much it would cost the County’s general fund.
THE BOARD and the CEO conceded that there may be “alternative models” which might be less expensive but, conveniently, those “alternative models” were not described, much less costed out. So the Board and the CEO stood behind their totally unrealistic gold-plated staffing model which makes the Sheriff’s initiative look like a budget buster. Then they charged staff with coming up with a way to say it was a budget buster in 500 words that could be put on the ballot.
REMEMBER, the Sheriff’s initiative says nothing about how many beds or staffing — the County’s assumptions of size and staffing levels and skill requirements are not achievable under any “alternate model” and the reference to the cost of the $6.2 million Humboldt County 16-bed facility does not say how the Humboldt facility is staffed nor if Mendocino County even needs a 16 bed facility staffed 24 hours a day with 36 expensive professional County employee staffers.
ANOTHER MYSTERY is why the two Supervisors who did sign Allman’s petition — Tom Woodhouse and Carre Brown — didn’t defend Allman’s initiative to point out the impracticality of the County’s analysis.
A RELIABLE SOURCE comments on our item about the $50,000 pay out to Assistant District Attorney Paul Sequeira: "You have it about right. The whole thing was a comedy of errors with the county doing everything they could to pay Sequeira as much as they could, even coming up with a bullshit interpretation that he was hired as “extra help” instead of for a regular permanent position. I don't know what went down between he and Eyster, but when Sequeira decided to bail he blindsided the county claiming he was owed an extra $20,000 a year retroactive to when he started. As an attorney, he should know there are strict limits on paying out public money retroactively. The county agreed to pay the $50,000, not because Mr. Jerko had a strong case, but because it would have cost that much or more to defend it, especially with the DA siding with Sequeira. The blowback between the DA, County Counsel and the CEO is interesting, with everyone pointing the finger at someone else. Meanwhile, the taxpayer is getting the finger and is stuck paying the bill."
DA SPOKESMAN MIKE GENIELLA came roaring out in response: "This 'reliable source' version of events is laughable. 'Blindsided' the county? C'mon, the squabble over his pay, clearly set out in the contract that was never formalized, dragged on for four-plus years. No surprises. The salary agreement was always in place. Never officially acted upon, and that was the issue. In the final year, before his acceptance of the Solano County job, Sequeira warned county administrators that he would file a claim for back pay if they didn't finally act. They didn't, and when he decided to leave, the claim was then filed. Sequeira is not 'Mr. Jerko' in this. If he's guilty of anything, it is not pressing the issue forcefully during his tenure. He was reluctant to create a flap over pay during his old friend Eyster's first term in office. His successor, without a blink, is being paid the original agreed upon annual salary, and a benefits package that Sequeira had waived because of his retirement from Contra Costa County after 28 years. The county has lost one of the best prosecutors in the state because in part it did not honor the original agreement. 'Mr. Jerko' is not the bad guy in this scenario, which 'reliable source,' if reliable, ought to know.
ODD SIGHT this morning in front of the Toyota agency on deep North State Street, Ukiah. From a distance, I thought it was a homeless camp on the move, but drawing near I saw it was a gray band of aged demonstrators holding up signs critical of Mendocino Redwood Company's hack and squirt policies. But why there? I think MRC has an office somewhere in the area (a couple of miles north, if memory serves) but passersby must have been absolutely mystified because the haggle scraggled ancient ones were smack in front of Toyota, far from any logical demo venue like, for instance, the County Courthouse in the middle of town. Update: I was so overwhelmed with nostalgia at the spectacle of my ancient comrades I failed to notice the MRC log deck across the street.
THE ANCIENT ONES have since issued an intention to pursue MRC's owners in their San Francisco fastnesses — at the homes of the Fisher Family, at their art exhibits, in their high whorehouse spas, in their limos. The haute bourgeoisie can run but they can't hide in the society pages. Unfortunately for us, as I believe the tycoon J.P. Morgan once put it, "I can hire half the working-class to kill the other half."
I DON'T THINK we have the quality novelists anymore who could do justice to the Republican National Convention. Among contemporary journalists, the only one I can think of who might be capable of capturing this batshit crazy event whole is Matt Taibbi. The late Hunter Thompson could do it, and there's probably others out there unknown to me. The event reminded me of Nathaniel West's great novel, Day of the Locust, but our times, and this lunatic affair, would test even West's abilities. And the Democrats as they kicked off Monday? They make the Republicans look positively wholesome. I haven't seen so many florid, utterly debauched-looking people in one place since Pinot Fest right here in Boonville.
SHERIFF ALLMAN'S anarchy reference last week as he lamented the recent shootings of police officers in Baton Rouge doesn't seem inflated to me. I think we're pretty much there, that it's all coming apart much faster than even us doomers could have predicted.
DR. PABLO CORTINA, 61, long time ob-gyn physician in Ukiah, has had his license to practice revoked by the California Medical Board. The Medical Board noted his 14 years on probation for one thing or another and finally two cases where other doctors testified that they thought his practices were grossly negligent and incompetent. The full 27 page single-spaced Medical Board report and decision has been scanned and posted on the Ukiah Daily Journal’s facebook page for those interested.
THE NEUROTH CASE: A third amended complaint was filed last month in the case of a former Mendocino County Jail inmate, whose brother claims died as a result of physical abuse at the hands of local law enforcement. Steven Neuroth was arrested the night of June 10, 2014, by officers of the Willits Police Department on suspicion of being under the influence of a controlled substance before being booked into the county jail. He was pronounced dead from cardiac arrest just after midnight on June 11, 2014 at the Ukiah Valley Medical Center.
JAMES NEUROTH said his brother had no injuries prior to being booked into the county jail, but said the autopsy report lists blunt force injuries, fractures, organ injuries and other serious physical injuries, as those allegedly caused by jail staff when Steven Neuroth was uncooperative.
THE COMPLAINT notes officer reports of Steven Neuroth being “extremely paranoid” at the time of his arrest when officers believed he was deep into a psychotic break. He complained of snakes being on the floor of the patrol car once he was inside…
THE NEUROTH CASE is a tragedy for the Neuroth family but illustrates why Mendocino County needs its own psychiatric facility, why Sheriff Allman's initiative to create that facility should not be deliberately undermined by the Board of Supervisors as they've already attempted to do with an unfounded argument against it based on unrealistic financial and staffing projections.
THE COUNTY'S biased argument against an in-County facility will appear on the November ballot along with the Sheriff's irrefutable argument for an in-County psychiatric capability.
AND SO LONG as methamphetamine is so easily available everywhere in the County (and the country) chemically-induced psychosis will be just as prevalent.
THE LATE Mr. Neuroth exhibited the textbook symptoms, right down to imagined snakes swarming him.
THE WILLITS POLICE OFFICER who arrested Neuroth had two options: Take him to the hospital emergency room where he would have to restrain him and wait for an extended period of time with the hallucinating, wildly thrashing Neuroth while hospital staff was also put at risk in trying to calm the patient. Or the officer could take Neuroth directly to the County Jail where Neuroth would have gone anyway after his stay in the emergency room. If the officer has to wait in the emergency room, where doctors and nurses are invariably trying to sort out more urgent emergencies, that means Willits is short a cop during the cop's prolonged absence from patrol duties.
I DON'T SEE how either the Willits cop or Jail staff can be held responsible for Neuroth's death, especially considering that it was Neuroth's own choice to go on the prolonged speed binge that would kill him.
IF WE HAD an in-County psych unit as we used to have, and as the Sheriff wants to re-establish, Neuroth, and all the Neuroths to come, would have been taken directly there where he could be confined and medicated back to normal.
ODD, ISN'T IT, that the Supervisors wouldn't support the Sheriff's highly popular initiative given the obvious need, but here three of them are in inarticulate or mute opposition (Hamburg, Gjerde, McCowen), simply falling in behind their CEO's laughably flawed analysis.
WITTY CHRON HEADLINE over the story of the Giants loss to the Red Sox last night: "Boston tee-off party is no fun." Here at the exhausted AVA, we try to come up with witty heds but only occasionally manage it. The New York Post is best at it among the daily American papers. Locally, the Press Democrat leads in witlessness.
MICHAEL MOORE, a softy-wofty lefty, says he thinks a Trump presidency is a real possibility. "I think Trump is going to win. I'm sorry," he said. "People are in denial of this, but the chance of him winning is really, really good." Moore said such is the disgust with Hillary that Trump will ride his denunciations of her and the Democrats right on in to the White House because working (white) people especially are sick of the pseudo-liberal piety and general political correctness the Democrats roll out as they roll jobs overseas and roll wages down here at home, not to mention their continuation of Bush's disastrous wars. Moore didn't mention the alienation of the millions of people who turned out for Bernie, many of whom will now either vote for Jill Stein or Trump — or not vote for anyone for President.
WE'RE GOING FOR STEIN, although we have very little enthusiasm for the Green Party. On the Northcoast, as in many areas of the country, the Greens are merely an adjunct of the Democratic Party, historically not challenging Democrats in states where they might harm the Democrat's presidential candidate. And, locally, the Greens, now non-existent, were pretty much a collection of wakes whose hippie rituals at their unadvertised, secret society-like meetings turned off conventional people. When Mendocino County's One True Green, Richard Johnson, shuffled off to his reward (perhaps an eternal Green Party "stack") in 2011, the Mendocino Greens, down to a half-dozen crackpots, died with him. There is no Green Party presence anywhere on the Northcoast. Corporate Democrats rule.
THERE ARE LOTS of people so disgusted with Democrats generally, and Hillary in particular, they'll go for Trump simply to blow up the Democrats. (Count us among the demolitionists, but Trump, like Hillary, is unthinkable although he at least provides great entertainment.) We'll probably go for Jill, but if she and the national Greens announce their usual "safe states" strategy, we'll write in Richard Johnson.
SHERIFF ALLMAN AND DA EYSTER are already denouncing Prop 57, which will appear on the November ballot, placed there by Governor Brown. Brown who just keeps on keeping on, coming up with humanely disguised measures whose true purpose is to reduce state prison populations. Prop 57 says inmates could "earn credit toward their sentences by working on rehabilitation in education, vocational training, and treatment," meaning prison staff would sign off on people for release who've been enrolled in these classes. The measure would also leave it up to judges to decide if young offenders should be tried as adults. DAs presently make that decision.
57'S OPPONENTS SAY in reality that although 57 promises the early release of only non-violent offenders, loopholes will permit release of lots of very bad people, many of whom will soon re-appear in county jails.
TWO PREVIOUS STATE-MANDATED measures have filled county jails to overflowing, including our County jail here in bucolic Mendocino County, which has already compelled the County into triage mode, forced to release people who really ought to be sequestered for much longer periods and playing catch and release with others who deserve more time.
HERE'S A FEW of the “non-violent crimes” for which early release would be possible if this measure is passed: rape by intoxication, rape of an unconscious person, human trafficking involving sex acts with minors, drive-by shooting, assault with a deadly weapon, taking a hostage, domestic violence involving trauma, possession of a bomb or weapon of mass destruction, hate crime causing physical injury, arson causing great bodily injury, discharging a firearm on school grounds, corporal injury to a child, and false imprisonment of an elderly person. (As an elderly person, I often feel falsely imprisoned, especially at public meetings.)
DA EYSTER ON PROP 57: Let's assume for the sake of discussion that Prop 57, the so-called Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016, had become the law of the land in January 2011. Using that as a hypothetical, we have been wondering how many inmates sent to state prison from Mendocino County since January 2011 would have been or will be eligible for bureaucratic sentence reductions (unilateral after-the-fact changes by a prison clerk to a sentence imposed by a judge) with accelerated release eligibility to get back to Mendoland.
APPROXIMATELY 689 men and women have been committed to state prison by Mendocino County judges from January 2011 through July 20, 2016. Of that sum, at least 82% of these state prison inmates -- yes, at least 82% -- would have been or will be eligible for Prop 57 relief. What is meant by Prop 57 relief? We mean the inmate is not required to serve the actual sentence that the judge imposed; rather, as re-calculated by prison record clerks, he or she need only serve a fraction of the punishment originally ordered by the judge in order to make the inmate eligible for accelerated release on parole. (As an aside, has anyone considered that the statewide parole offices had their parole officer staffing cut after the Realignment laws were passed in October 2011? As a result, there are not enough parole agents currently employed to adequately supervise number of parolees currently needing supervision, yet Prop 57's goal is to significantly multiply the number of parolees roaming the streets?)
PROP 57's deceptive and slippery definition of "violent" is one of the keys, as well as the proposed constitutional mandate that inmates who have been convicted and sentenced on multiples crimes and cases will have their cumulative sentence recalculated by Prop 57 in a way that treats all inmates as "first-timers, one-offense only" defendants. Let's say that a different way ... the career criminals and those who have gone on serious crime sprees — defendants who pose a much greater on-going risk to the community if not incarcerated — will receive the greatest reductions and benefits from Prop 57.
The Mendo DA is busy compiling background information on current state prison inmates housed from Mendo to share as fact-specific examples of what Prop 57 outcomes will look like should this bad social experiment not be defeated. Stay tuned and be ready to hold on to your chair. Some old-timers will understand what we mean when we equate what is being proposed as an "E-ticket ride" but without the fun.
FORT BRAGG does not need a shopping mall on Hare Creek. We went to press Monday as the FB City Council discussed the potential development. Succinct argument against it is best put by Curt Babcock:
"We oppose this project for several reasons, but the water issue seems most important at a time when tonight's agenda includes extending the never-ending emergency drought conditions on the residents of Fort Bragg. It simply makes no sense that the council can consider a project that will need 2,000,000 gallons of water annually, with some meager reclamation. The MND of 2015 fails to address current or future drought conditions, quantify potential consequences of the drought on the water supply, or disclose potential impact of increased water diversion on the streams comprising the source of that supply."
By continuing to take 50% of Noyo River stream flow, and endangering State and Federally listed species, the City will be vulnerable to environmental lawsuits from the people of California, and from the United States, as these species are held in trust for everyone, and for future generations. The City has thus far FAILED to develop a new source of municipal water, yet intends to approve this project. PRETENDING to care about the local environment, with the World's Biggest Salmon BBQ, and becoming listed as a BEE Friendly City, demonstrates the cynical hypocrisy of the Mayor and councilmen who vote to support the Hare Creek Mall project."
FOUR DAYS concluding last Thursday saw an all-out, multi-agency blitz of North County marijuana gardens. Thousands of plants uprooted, a few arrests, citations for eco-violations. Prices for your Mendo Mellow will rise a little, but with roughly half Mendocino County's population of 90,000 people engaged in farming, not much.
THE SONOMA COUNTY SUPERVISORS voted last week to put a measure on their November ballot to raise their bed tax from 9% to 12%. By policy, 75% of SoCo’s bed tax revenue goes to “promotion” and the rest into the General Fund. The 3% increase is expected to generate almost $5 million in “unanticipated” revenue for Sonoma County. Unlike Mendo, where there’s near unanimity to give all the bed tax money to the promoters who promote mostly themselves, several SoCo residents told the SoCo Supes that more of the Bed Tax money needs to go to the County services that are impacted by increased tourism, which was the original purpose of the Bed Tax: deteriorated roads, increased fire and emergency responses, and even the lack of affordable housing for the low-wage “service industry” workers. A consultant to the SoCo Board told them that their research shows that a small majority of SoCo residents support the increase (after all it mostly hits tourists) but that the November vote could be close. (The measure needs only a simple majority of 50%+1 to pass.)
MENDO’S BED TAX is 10% where it’s been for years, and there’s no County policy on how much should go where. (The last number we saw, Mendo spent about $1.6 mil promoting itself, bed tax money handed to the promoters by the Supes, and fattened by 2% more from the Business Improvement District to the tune of about $400,000.
MENDO TAKES IN about $4.5 million in Bed Tax each year. If the tax were upped to 12% we'd get $900k of much needed money for the general fund — especially if the entire additional $900k went to roads and emergency services (which the Supes say they support). The arguments that 1. Promotion makes any difference to tourism or bed tax revenues is not supported by available bed tax revenue records and 2. that minor increases in the bed tax would discourage Mendo tourism is refuted for the same reason.
MCN COMMENT RE LIVE MUSIC FOR MENDO:
In the spirit of supporting live music on the coast, I went to the Hill House last night (the music was good), and questioned the bar tender about why the owners want to eliminate this essential and important part of local culture. He believes that the ownership (a distant corporation) is not into the restaurant-bar aspect of the business as much as the hotel. In other words, they don't care how well the bar does, it's not how they make their money. Yet, live music pulls significant business into the bar. (they don't pay the musicians, they get the door). Long story short, I asked him what concerned people could do to sway the owners not to eliminate music, and he said suggested that I write to them. The name of the corporation is Kamla, don't know what it stands for but apparently www.kamla.com is their website. I encourage everybody who loves to dance and listen to live, local music to try to preserve this singular cultural resource. And thanks, Pattie Dematteo for all these years of great music.
PETER LIT WRITES: Having some experience with the economics of dance music, I do not believe the Hill House enjoys an economic benefit from dance music. Often the noise drives away hotel business, both during and after the shows. One or two lost room rentals are not balanced by the income from the music. The more rocking and longer the music, the more negative to the business. If the HH wants to be a dining establishment, an early music start disturbs the diners; a later start, the hotel guests. When David Jones had the Seagull, he supported local everything, but eventually the complaints, as the town filled with B&Bs, became too much and he presented "acoustic" music only. This might work for the HH since they, unlike David, do virtually nothing to support the music. Unless the venue is geared for dance music, there is little chance of a commercial success. Local bands used to rent the local halls, provide their own publicity, sound, personnel etc. That's a hard road and usually not monetarily rewarding. Another issue has to do with alcohol and other drugs; when the police, in Ft Bragg for example, target alcohol establishments forgetting they are there to "protect and serve," one questions the wisdom of going out to dance and having a "couple of drinks." If the establishment cannot sell its customers a couple of drinks, there is little reason, outside of community service, to have dance music.
(For many years, Mr. Lit operated the highly popular live music venue at the Caspar Inn. He makes his usual good sense here.)
FROM THE MATTHEW IN THE MIDDLE COLUMN in the LCO:
"James Decker, the angry anarchist, begins his public comment with “FUCK THE POLICE!” Check out his Twitter handle “radmul” for the real James Decker. Regardless of our political leanings, we should be able to have a civil discourse without yelling and cursing. It’s people like Mr. Decker who keep the average citizen away from public meetings. While yes, you have a constitutional right to free speech; no, we don’t have to put up with your abusive speech. I’d recommend the Mayor shut off the mic if Mr. Decker wants to go off on a profane laced public outburst. Submit a profane tirade to the Times-Standard and see if your “free speech” gets printed. Oh yeah, he also closed his public comment with another “FUCK THE POLICE!” Such a nice man."
HERE IN MENDOCINO COUNTY, we used to have a couple of lunatics who would show up to berate the Supervisors, but they were so obviously unhinged they almost always got cut off in mid-harangue. And I don't recall them launching f-bombs like the so-called anarchist described above. I do recall the late Supervisor, John Cimolino's (Fort Bragg) famous rhetorical question, "Do we really have to listen to these nuts?" Yes, so long as they remain relatively civil, but why the Eureka City Council endures this guy is beyond me.
THE ANARCHISTS of the 19th and early 20th century were serious radicals and, in their private lives, conventional to the point of suits and ties for Sunday picnics and formal photographs. How all-out war on capitalism conducted by honest working people devolved into suburban vandals breaking windows in Oakland is, I suppose, just one more chapter in the general devolution.
SUPPORTERS of the LGBTQ community gathered on the corner of Scott and State Streets for the 3rd Annual Ukiah Pride March. At 11am the group marched south on State Street towards the Alex Thomas Plaza where they gathered for an afternoon filled with food, music, and community activities.
SERIOUSLY, I'm starting to get lost in what seems like a deluge of subsets. Lesbian. (check) Gay (check, although redundant) Bisexual (check, although when the bars close who goes home with who puts you in one box or the other) Transgender (check, but spare us the surgical details — my scrotum tightens at the mere mention). Q. (Queer? All of the above?)
RUMOR out of Fort Bragg says City Councilmen Deitz and Hammerstrom, who have announced they won't run for re-election, have instead decided to run again. Dependable Yes votes for a city management that has seriously estranged a solid half of the FB population, that city management knows the opposition to it is planning a vigorous campaign to re-capture the City Council and install a less arbitrary, less expensive, less, well, less Hospitality House-dependent management.
MOST OF US of a certain age can remember when police hiring was merely the selection of the biggest, meanest, more or less sanest men available for the job. The assumption was that when push came to shove the cop could push and shove harder. When I was a kid — Wait! Don't run! I promise to be brief! … One day when I was a kid of 11 or 12, I was walking down the street with my jaunty childhood chum, Al Boland. A cop car containing a very large policeman named Sylvester Nolan, a former boxer who was so fierce and, truth to tell, volatile, that all he had to do to end a bar fight was walk through the door. So my friend Al flips him off. Nolan's patrol car stops in the middle of the street, he climbs out and walks over to us, me paralyzed with fear, Boland smiling. Without a word, Nolan open hand slaps Boland — then me. "But Mr. Nolan, I didn't do anything," I whinnied. "You're with him," Nolan explained as he got back into his car and drove off. When I complained to my parents, my father said, "Tough," and my mother said, "Nolan is right. I told you to stay away from the Boland boy."
CONGRATULATIONS, MR. AND MRS. BILLY MAYFIELD