Off the Record (Aug 3, 2016)

by AVA News Service, August 3, 2016

RICHARD SHOEMAKER, former supervisor from the Ukiah area and career holder of upper echelon public jobs, is Point Arena's "part-time" manager at $50,000 a year. (His girlfriend is Fort Bragg City Manager Linda Ruffing, who makes three times that.) Point Arena’s 450 or so citizens, many of them not registered voters, have managed to rack up disproportionate debt. Shoemaker may be trying to balance the tiny town’s books by imposing unpopular fees on this, that and the other thing, although his own bottom line has always been his primary concern. He slapped a ten dollar fee on the town’s annual 4th of July fireworks display, and now he’s really stirred up the fogeaters by suggesting a 3 percent local tax on medical marijuana. (There are proportionately more bad backs in Point Arena than any other place in the world.) The prob the stoners, er, patients, have with Shoemaker’s pot tax is that it would be added on to an already hefty 8.125% tax on the miracle drug at PA’s thriving little pharmacy. Maybe Shoemaker could halve his preposterous part-time salary to help lift PA out of its deficit doldrums, but that probably isn’t up for negotiation.

HAPPENS ROUTINELY at public meetings. The boors in the elected seats up front, knowing the room has filled for a single item on the agenda, make everybody wait while an hour or two of routine business is conducted. One never knows whether this civic sadism is bad manners or simple disregard for the time and feelings of other people. Probably both.

DAVID GURNEY puts it this way: “At the last [Fort Bragg] City Council meeting on July 11, four people, including three elderly women and myself, respectfully asked for an item to be removed from the Consent Calendar during the early public comment period. Instead of giving any kind of an answer, this Council forced all four people to wait for about three hours, until finally declaring that the item would be removed anyway due to a conflict of interest. When I had asked earlier for a motion to move the item off the Consent Calendar, a Council member shouted me down. This is unacceptable, and beyond being inconsiderate and disrespectful it creates a public safety issue when you force three elderly women to go home at around 10:00 pm at night, instead of resolving the matter at 7:00 and letting them get home in daylight.

“AS A RESULT of this incident, I did a survey of some twenty Northern California cities the same size or larger than Fort Bragg and found that not one puts the Consent Calendar at the end of council meetings, as is done here. Every single city schedules the Calendar at or near the beginning, before other items, so that issues can be legitimately reviewed and if need be discussed, without undue hardship or inconvenience to the public. Items pulled from the calendar can thus be placed on the agenda for discussion later on during that same meeting. This prevents non-transparent late night approval of questionable items as has now become the norm in Fort Bragg. It should also be noted that in many cities including Sebastopol, Cloverdale, and Santa Rosa, council members are required to declare conflicts of interest near the beginning of the meeting, not if and when they feel like it, as seems to have occurred on July 11.

“SO WHY DOES the Fort Bragg City Council continue to put the Consent Calendar at the end of meetings? Most people go home after their Agenda item of concern has been dealt with, so that by the end of the evening there is effectively no one from the public left in the room to scrutinize actions taken under consent. This Council has gotten used to the practice of playing late night political poker by wrongly placing the Consent Calendar at the end of meetings instead of the beginning.

“I AM PREPARING to file a formal complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission and the Attorney General regarding this latest instance of disrespect towards the public, including the tardy declaration of conflicts of interest, and the corrupt scheduling of the Consent Calendar at the end of City Council meetings, which defies the practice of democracy in nearly every other city of this state. I am asking for the City of Fort Bragg to quit being a rogue agency, and to stop playing games with the public on important issues by stacking the Agenda against the people of this city. Please come into compliance with the rest of the State, and put the Consent Calendar at the beginning of City Council meetings, not at the end. Thank you.

BEAR LINCOLN has been arrested at a large grow — 9,000 plants — on and around his property in Covelo. The big trouble for Bear may be the two loaded weapons also found there. Of course finding weapons and assigning ownership of them are two different things. But Bear is a convicted felon, and you can be sure the cops will try to pin the guns on the guy they've been after ever since the famous shoot out that led to the deaths of Deputy Bob Davis and Bear's cousin, Leonard Peters. Lincoln was acquitted after a trial that attracted national attention.

ACCORDING to the Sheriff’s presser on the Lincoln raid, “On Tuesday, a 9,000-plant grow was discovered in Covelo along with 12 loaded guns. “Prior to our guys going to this, I met with several members of the Round Valley Indian tribe and have had their support of the operation,” Allman said. Allman said Eugene A. Lincoln, 61 (the same man who has been known as “Bear” Lincoln and was acquitted in 1997 of the 1995 shooting MCSO Deputy Bob Davis), was allegedly operating the marijuana cultivation site in the 21000 block of Henderson Road, which was found to be staffed with illegal Mexican workers. Mexican workers told law enforcement they were working under Lincoln for $200 a day, a piece of the overall profits, and were told to tend the garden and not talk to each other, according to Allman. A nearby stream was also found to have been dammed up for water theft. Each person working at the property was in possession of a gun or had one where they were living. No gunfire was exchanged between law enforcement and the suspects. Besides Lincoln, five other arrests were made. Martin Hernandez-Cruz, 55, of Covelo; Jose A. Avendano-Sarmiento, 33, of Santa Rosa; Herminio Dela Cruz-Castenada, 45, of Covelo; Bruno Fernandez-Sagrero, 65, of Ukiah; and Juan A. Rivera-Lucio, 26, of Covelo, were arrested on suspicion of participating in the marijuana cultivation operation, and were booked into the county jail where they have since been released, according to jail records.

TWO HUNDRED A DAY, and profit sharing? Bear sounds like a great employer.

LINCOLN was assumed by local law enforcement to be guilty of shooting Deputy Davis to death. In one of the many ironies in the case, Davis, a former Navy Seal, was also a Native American and was regarded among Covelo’s NA’s as fair and honest. (Much of what we wrote on the case, quickly lifted by outside media, is posted on our website.) Then-DA Massini ducked the Lincoln matter. She assigned a young attorney to prosecute Lincoln. The young guy was totally over-matched by Tony Serra’s team. But looking back, neither side presented a clear narrative of what happened. Or may have happened. Deputy Miller changed his story, rendering his testimony not credible to the jury. Bear told a simple story of a police ambush. The jury believed him. The People had said that Lincoln, after an initial exchange of gunfire with two deputies, Miller and Davis, made his way back up the hill and opened fire on them again. The defense suggested that Deputy Davis died from friendly fire at the hands of Deputy Miller. Maybe, maybe not for both versions. Until Bear writes his memoir we won’t know. We’ve been told by people who claim to know that Bear fled the area on horseback, riding northeast to a hippie cabin deep in the hills where he remained hidden until he reappeared with Serra in San Francisco to give himself up. The police from multiple agencies were definitely trying to kill Lincoln the night of the event, and would have if they’d caught him. Local law enforcement conducts itself much more professionally these days, but that was an edgy time for an historical fact. Nothing we wrote about it has ever been challenged.

A STORY in the Ukiah Daily Journal by the excellent new-to-Mendo writer, Sara Reith, begins, "There’s an old saw about how a contractor’s house is never done. Three years ago, Peter Richardson, a retired contractor, went to Singing Tree Recovery Center, just south of Garberville. “I never really did drugs,” he said..."

ALWAYS liked the guy and still resent, on roguish Pete's behalf, how the Ukiah School District and the County of Mendocino absolutely screwed him on their public building contracts with him. When Pete says he "never really did drugs…" well, here's a guy who has known the depths and risen from them. He's earned some leeway.

JEFFREY ST. CLAIR is our designated convention-watcher. Thank the goddess we have one. The clips I've seen are simply nauseating — strings of clichés from people who've marched this country steadily backwards. I couldn't watch. It's all so over-the-top awful I went straight to the ball games.

I DID WATCH BERNIE'S monumental sell-out. What the hell, Bern, if you're going over to the other side, might as well go all the way. Maybe he's crazy. Bernie’s certainly no socialist. We’ve had some great socialists in this country. Can anyone imagine Eugene Debs endorsing Woodrow Wilson?

BERN’S "socialism" has always been tepid, opportunistic, well to the right of FDR's New Deal, and FDR was hardly a socialist. But Bernie's capitulation wasn't hard to predict. He told us from the outset he wouldn't leave the Democratic Party, although it left him and the rest of us years ago, and he resigned the day after his fanciful endorsement of the glass ceiling breaker. Still, though, his clearly heartfelt embrace of the She Dragon was so extreme it calls his mental functioning into question. Debs went to jail, Bernie goes back to the U.S. Senate.

NPR'S convention coverage has been beyond craven, but then it's a Billery operation, and always has been.

I LISTEN during early morning workouts, but this morning (last Wednesday) it was so unendurably awful in its "excitement" and "how moved we were at last night's speeches,” I opted for silence. Any more or less sentient being who could have been “moved” by anything presented at the DNC was born without a bullshit detector.

CHALLENGE: Has anyone ever learned anything from NPR's "national political consultant," Don Gonyea? If you didn't know that these people think of themselves as a professional news operation, you'd think their "work" was some kind of weird parody of a news show. Gonyea's inane female echo, Renee Montagne, is just as fatuous as her idiot sidekick. Then you have speed-rapping David Greene, who's clearly taken ass-kissing lessons from the master, NPR's weekend guy, Scott Simon. And to think these people are tax funded! It's, it's, it's… Well, most of us, at this point, are either inured to insult or heavily medicated, self or prescribed.

ALL OF THE ABOVE makes me think even darker thoughts, violent fantasies about getting close enough to the NPR news staff to throw an unexplained punch. I can hear a puzzled Greene or Gonyea: "We'd just arrived at KZYX in Philo to show the rubes how to do professional news when suddenly this big hippie runs in yelling insults and starts throwing blows at us. Poor Renee is still distraught. Why would he have done that?"

ANDERSON, interviewed by his estranged sister, Glenda Anderson of the Press Democrat, explained, "I did it on behalf of that shrinking minority of Americans who are not totally desensitized by the daily deluge of lies and unalleviated cowardice these people put out and applaud every morning." As a grateful nation rose to salute my public service, I slipped my dentures back into my mouth, took a swig of Geritol and tottered off to afternoon mahjong.

SPEAKING of National Government Radio, KZYX division, what's with these creepy uplift messages in between the chuckle buddy chatter every morning? These things begin with a funereal few seconds of dirge followed by a female undertaker voice who says something like, "Be good to each other today." I mutter back, "Will you please just…”

SPEAKING of tax-funded propaganda, KZYX division, and not to be too churlish about it, but the Supervisor's commendation issued recently to Mary Aigner for her years of public radio service again turns Mendo reality on its head. Another year of the Aig regime and the station would have been dead. Supervisors Woodhouse (of course) and Gjerde (ordinarily reality-based) signed for the Supes. The new administration of Lorraine Dechter has lifted Public Radio Mendocino County off life support. (Yes, I'm a member and was on off and on through the dark years.)

JIM MASTIN, former mayor of Ukiah, was a Bernie delegate to last week’s DNC: “Planes, buses and automobiles. And so the odyssey to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia begins. I'm excited to be a Sanders delegate and look forward to posting periodic reports and pics. What looked a few days ago like an uneasy truce accord has been disrupted by, and abandoned for, a tale of smarmy political power turned into fratricide. Thanks to WikiLeaks, Wasserman Schultz and her staff have now been revealed as the fascistic cabal that we only suspected them of being over the past year. Their undemocratic, behind the scenes manipulation of the Democratic Party and our primary process is unworthy of Clinton, but her silence to date is thunderous. Bernie Sanders won the hearts and minds of the American people with his populist and game changing agenda, but it’s Clinton and her vassal Wasserman Schultz who currently have their fingers on the brass ring. A lot can happen over the next few days and the carousel has not yet stopped.”

BUT A PUFFEROO distributed to the County's chain-owned papers touts Coast Democratic Party super-delegate Rachel Binah as she "mentors” a pair of unsuspecting Fort Bragg girls. The two young ‘uns are described as partial to Bernie, but by golly Rachel will have converted them to middle-of-the-road extremism by the time they get home.

IN THE SAME breathless piece, we read, "The longtime party loyalist [Binah] was joined this year by first-time delegate Jim Mastin, well-known in Ukiah as the former elected mayor and former chairman of the Democratic Central Committee. Mastin ran for the position of delegate pledged to Senator Bernie Sanders."

AND IMMEDIATELY went over to Hillary, weasel-lipping to the reporter, Tim Riley, about how Bernie's principles will continue to resonate inside the party.

MASTIN, who seems to have emerged from years of political stupor, fired right back: “Contrary to Tim Riley’s statement I have not gone over to Hillary. Below is the not yet published letter I sent to KC Meadows before I even left Philadelphia which elicited an apology from Mr. Riley.

Dear Editor,

Reporter Tim Riley (UDJ 7/29/2016) states that “…Jim Mastin is now supporting Clinton…” I never said that and after the horrific speech by General Allen Thursday night I’m not sure I’ll ever get there. I was dumbstruck by the vehemence with which Allen made his case for murder in the name of the American people. I’m not naïve, war will always be with us, but if Clinton is trying to woo us with images of her as a mother and grandmother and then follows it with full-throated death & destruction it’s not working.

Jim Mastin, Ukiah

ANTI-EYSTER MOVE? A push-poll apparently originating in Redwood Valley seems to be implying that DA David Eyster may be hiding something that makes him politically vulnerable. We received got a computerized poll originating from a 485 prefix that asked us what we thought of Eyster and whether we favored a ballot initiative that would prohibit prosecutors who are under investigation for misconduct from prosecuting cases. The poll also asked several gun-rights questions, which may indicate that the originator of the poll has a gripe about Eyster’s prosecution of a gun owner or owners. We replied that we have no objection to the Second Amendment but we also supported the California assault weapons restrictions. We answered “Yes” to a question that asked if we have a favorable view of DA Eyster.

DA EYSTER COMMENTS: “I received a call from a constituent who asked the same questions. She thought it was a local poll and wanted to know what if anything was behind it. No idea on this end. First I've heard of it was this afternoon. Haven't done anything wrong and we follow the law so not worried about ‘anonymous’ stirring a non-existent pot, no pun intended).

SOOO, ANYONE MISSING A FINGER? Chandelier Drive Through Tree in Leggett found one. Or at least the tip of one. According to Lee Ann Maidrand who has worked at the attraction for 14 years, the fingertip “was tucked inside of a log you can climb inside.”

A child found the fingertip and she and her mother brought Maidrand over to look at it. “[T]hey were hopeful it was a mushroom,” she explained.

The fingertip “was stuffed in a hole in the log that’s on its side,” explained Maidrand. “It was probably about two inches tucked inside the log…There was no blood anywhere. It looks like someone just placed it there.”

Maidrand took photos and we’ve posted them below. (Please don’t look unless you are prepared for graphic images.) However, she described the fingertip as looking “smashed.” She considered that it might be a toe. “It was bigger than my thumb,” she said. “It was filed…. No nail polish.”

Maidrand said the fingertip appeared to have been recently attached to a human, “I poked it with a stick; it was still soft.”

Although chainsaw art is made on the premises occasionally, none has been made there recently. And, Maidrand said, “No one has reported an accident recently either. I was there the night before…. nothing. No one reported to any of the employees that anything happened… I can’t imagine someone chopping their finger off and leaving it behind.”

Maidrand contacted the Mendocino Sheriff’s Office and a deputy came to pick up the piece. Although we have requested information from the Sheriff’s Office on whether the office thinks a crime might have occurred or if this might be an accident, as of publishing time they have not recontacted us.

Meanwhile, Maidrand has hopes they might be able to identify the person the fingertip belongs to. “There is a good fingerprint,” she said. “I hope they fingerprint that.”

Before you go further, please remember that the photos below are quite graphic and may disturb some people.

Finger

(Courtesy, KymKemp.com)

THE CLOVERDALE City Council will ask its citizens to approve a tax on cannabis operations; the up or down measure will appear on the November ballot. If the voters approve, Cloverdale's city fathers expect, it seems, a kind of green rush of taxable grows and dispensaries, now prohibited, although up the road, just over the Mendo County line, there's a dispensary in Hopland.

A READER WRITES: “I was a third party voter for years, registered Green Party voters in Oakland to get the Green Party on the ballot, because we thought, if they were on the ballot, maybe people would vote for them! That didn’t work. And up here, OMG… the Green Party people who came to the meetings in the 1990s here! Guaranteed to ensure the Green Party would make absolutely zero political progress — people who were crazy, unpleasant, misanthropic, smelly, distracted, totally out of touch with reality, hated regular people, and were absolutely unwilling to do any work whatsoever. That’s what I found. You know it’s true. I won’t forget the woman who’d bring her big white shedding dog, both were very big, and she’d let it lie on the Willits Environmental Center couch beside her. I remember being asked by one of the WEC people — where on earth does all that white hair come from after the Green Party meetings? I don’t see any of that batch anymore. Maybe they never come down from the hills. So, whatever, I was pleased to learn that Jill Stein has actually had two terms of experience on her local Lexington board, better than the usual run of the mill “I haven’t served as an elected official anywhere but I want you to elect me governor of California” type Green Party candidates, who aren’t really even Greens. Not that I think there’s anything wrong with being a socialist, of course, but I wouldn’t interpret the 10 Key Values as endorsing a strong central gov’t. So “voting my conscience” means something different to me now than it used to. I had a “Bush and Gore make me want to Ralph” bumper sticker, of course I did, but looking back from where we are now, I do not believe Al Gore would’ve invaded Iraq after 9/11 — setting off the worst of our own current trouble, and turning that country (where women used to be fairly free) into a hellish nightmare without end for all the people there. Honestly, I don’t believe we would’ve had a 9/11 at all. But we all have our own consciences, and I say “vote your conscience” is exactly what people should do. I wish more people would.

MENDO’S HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES AGENCY is poised to tell the Board of Supervisors that the transition of mental health services from private businessman Ortner of Yuba City, to Mendocino County and private operator Redwood Quality Management Company of Ukiah, is going pretty well with only a few things left to do. We’re willing to take their word for it, although there’s no evidence to substantiate the claim in the Board’s packet.

IT DOES SEEM that the transition is proceeding more smoothly than we expected. (Never mind that all of this could have been avoided five years ago if the County had not hired Tom Pinizzotto and allowed him to wire privatization of mental health services for his pals and former employer, Ortner.)

CANNABIS TAX ORDINANCE SUMMARY by Mendocino County Council Katherine Elliot: “This [proposed] ordinance adds Chapter 6.32 to the Mendocino County Code to impose a County general tax on commercial cannabis businesses in the unincorporated area of Mendocino County as of January 1, 2017. The ordinance establishes a tax rate for the cultivation of commercial cannabis of 2.5% of the gross receipts per fiscal year….”

AND BLAH, BLAH, BLAH — unworkable and never happen anyway because only a deluded (or stoned) minority of growers are going to voluntarily register with local government while their meds remain illegal at the federal level.

REMEMBER MEASURE V? Here we go again, this time with Hack-n-Squirt. Measure V declared that “Intentionally Killed And Left Standing Trees A Public Nuisance” and, after describing the nature of the nuisance and the obvious hazard it presents, V continues, “The citizens of Mendocino County, by their authority to adopt ordinances by initiative add a new chapter to Title 8 of the Mendocino County Code to read as follows: Trees greater in height than 5 meters, intentionally killed and left standing for more than 90 days (except those created for the benefit of wildlife habitat) are a public nuisance and the party responsible shall be liable for any resulting damage when the tree is:

(1) within 1,000 meters of one or more critical infrastructures:

(a) roads including public roads, private roads and driveways, fire lanes

(b) telecommunication infrastructure including poles, wire, fiber, terminals, towers

(c) electrical infrastructure including poles, wire, substations, transformers

(d) significant water sources, including rivers, creeks, ponds, lakes

(2) within 1,000 meters of a structure

(3) within CAL FIRE State Responsibility Area

The County shall not enter residential property to verify compliance.”

MEASURE V PASSED by almost a two to one margin. So now what?

ACE Willits Weekly reporter Mike A’Dair attempted to find the answer only to find variations on the theme of fortune cookie messages.

COUNTY COUNSEL Kit Elliott said the Supes have to order her to put V in the County code.

MENDOCINO REDWOOD COMPANY said they won’t take a position on the measure until it is in the County code.

SUPERVISOR WOODHOUSE said he plans to talk to Ms. Elliott about it.

AND SUPERVISOR McCOWEN said it’s already in County code by virtue of the initiative’s assurance that it adds a new chapter to Title 8 of the County code.

THEN WE HAVE the initiative’s odd last sentence: “The County shall not enter residential property to verify compliance.”

WHICH IMPLIES 1) that V’s writers actually gave some thought to verification of compliance and, 2) that the County would verify compliance but they can’t “enter residential property” to do it.

SUPERVISOR MCCOWEN told A’Dair that the only way to “enforce” the new law would be for someone who is "affected" by the “nuisance” — i.e., their property is burned — to sue the nuisance’s creator, i.e., MRC. In other words, if a chemically enhanced fire takes out your house, you can sue MRC for damages, and good luck proving MRC’s “nuisance” was culpable.

McCOWEN noted the obvious: that Measure V has no enforcement mechanism and “in the absence of an enforcement mechanism, enforcement of Measure V would fall to the county's uniform nuisance abatement code section.”

BUT UNDER the uniform nuisance abatement code section of the County code, McCowen added, the County would need an enforcement officer who would enforce the abatement of the nuisance. But there is no such person and there are no plans to hire such a person (even though the County’s Planning Department has a “code enforcement” staff).

"SO,” McCOWEN says, “Measure V in reality becomes a philosophical statement against the practice of intentionally killing trees and letting them stand in the forest. And in my opinion, the real issue here is herbicide use. The real enforcement mechanism is a lawsuit against the responsible party should someone be damaged by those practices which Measure V seeks to curtail which is what they could do before Measure V was passed."

THIS CIRCULAR MEASURE V dialog reminded The Major of his failed attempt to enforce the nuisance code against vineyard wind machines in the Anderson Valley. When The Major sued the County and his grape growing neighbors, the County made it clear they had no intention of even trying to enforce the noise/nuisance ordinance even though there was obviously "someone who was damaged by those practices" — i.e., The Major, his dying brother, and thousands of other residents of Anderson Valley. “So, if your house burns down because of MRC’s dangerous hack-n-squirt practices you get to spend thousands of dollars to ‘enforce’ the nuisance code in Judge Henderson’s court like I did where, among other things, you’ll be asked to prove that your house burned down via months of legal folderol and thousands of dollars worth of interrogatories and discovery and proof of the dollar value of your damage,” grumbled the Major. “And then, the Major went on, “if you get past all that, file an insurance claim that you should have filed in the first place and let the insurance company lawyers shoot the wounded. Oh, you have nowhere to live meanwhile? Apply for ‘health and human services’ benefits.”

EVEN THOUGH the proponents of Measure V said in their ballot statement that “This Measure is a well-reasoned approach to public safety and corporate responsibility,” the Well Reasoners did not specify an enforcement mechanism for verifying compliance. So again Mendocino is left with another meaningless measure that the County (and MRC) can choose to ignore with impunity.

CONVENIENTLY FOR MRC and the wine industry, these empty measures amount to a free pass for anyone with large piles of cash. They give citizens the illusion that something meaningful in the way of regs has occurred when it hasn’t.

CHECK off the measures we or the Supes have voted YES for over the years: The noise ordinance, the anti-GMO ordinance, the advisory personal use of marijuana initiative, the Precautionary Principle, the General Plan, the “requirement” to prove water availability for large development proposals which accepts unsubstantiated “will serve” letters as proof, the "grading ordinance" that applies only to new residences, not the thousands of acres of steep slopes with newly planted vineyards, and the many individual permit mitigation requirements that are imposed but have never been systematically followed up on.

THE FOLLOWING press release was issued by the Fort Bragg Police Department Friday: "On Monday, July 25, officers of the Fort Bragg Police Department responded to Fort Bragg Middle School and Redwood Elementary School, for reports of vandalism. Officers responded to the Middle School and spoke with the reporting party. Officers obtained video surveillance of three juveniles who had climbed up onto the roof and proceeded to cause $20,000 in damage to the school…”

AND SO ON. Not that we’ll ever know the disposition of this one, but schools are vandalized, even burned to the ground, all the time by young boys to whom school is a painfully unhappy place for them to be.

One Response to Off the Record (Aug 3, 2016)

  1. Gary Durheim Reply

    August 8, 2016 at 8:24 pm

    RE: NPR’s craven convention coverage is just as described. . . coverage. Coverage in layers and layers slathered on thick! What is needed desperately is UN-coverage by a hostile and skeptical media. Anything less has been a snooze.

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