Off the Record (Sept. 21, 2016)
by AVA News Service, September 21, 2016
WHERE’S WOODHOUSE? No one is offering any substantive explanation, just vague references to a “personal family situation,” but the third district supervisor has not attended the last two meetings, and he hasn’t called in to explain his absences. If he doesn’t show up for tomorrow’s Supe’s meeting in Ukiah, Sheriff Allman better send out the search parties.
TWO WEEKS AGO we neglected to give proper credit to the Ukiah Daily Journal for Carole Brodsky’s extensive report about the difficulty local election observers had with the June count. The Brodsky piece was written for the Journal, not us.
THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS spent almost three hours Tuesday morning in a rambling and ultimately pointless discussion of vote count delays with County Clerk-Recorder-Assessor Susan Ranochak, deftly avoiding vivid and unrefuted complaints about Ranochak’s conduct of the vote count after the recent elections. Four thwarted citizen election observers testified this morning that Ranochak went way out of her way to prevent them from watching the vote count, going so far as to threaten the four women with a call to the Sheriff if they persisted in trying to get a fair view of the tally. It’s an odd issue and, so far as we are aware, one that has never arisen until this past election.
RATHER THAN SIMPLY direct Ranochak to obey the law that allows citizen observers, Supervisors McCowen and Gjerde walked right into Ranochak’s babble-gabble trap with a lot of their own bafflegab.
THE FOUR AGGRIEVED ELECTION OBSERVERS complained about the difficulties they had trying to view the vote counting; their complaints were described earlier this month in Carole Brodsky’s excellent and meticulously documented report for the Ukiah Daily Journal. The thwarted election observers said their ballot processing questions weren’t addressed and that Ms. Ranochak actively obstructed their attempts to observe — as is their right by election law. A Ranochak critic from Sonoma County pointed out that citizens, voters and candidates all have a right to make sure the voting process is transparent and the results are credible. All of the observers insisted, “We will be back in November.”
MS. RANOCHAK didn’t bother to address the complaints about access, addressing only one minor complaint by saying she told the observers that the “counting” was complete, not that the “canvass” was complete, so she couldn’t explain any “confusion” on the part of the observers.
NO BOARD follow-ups were promised. We expect that in the November elections the valid complaints from the June elections will be repeated. Reassuring, isn’t it? The very linchpin of democracies, an honest vote, is made dubious by the refusal of the person in charge of that vote to allow mandated citizen observation of the process.
THE SUPERVISORS constantly advertise unfilled vacancies on a plethora of County oversight boards. It doesn’t seem to occur to any of them that people avoid involvement in County government because the Supervisors and the highly paid people they theoretically supervise are one big happy family, that citizen election observers, as in the Ranochak case, are simply regarded as pests.
WE WONDER how Ranochak selects the part-time help she gets at election time. Surely she wouldn’t hire her same old pals from elections past? But really, why are these publicly funded, part-time positions advertised?
GOVERNMENT CORRUPTION begins in Ranochak-like circumstances where the elected people who are supposed to be responsible for her office are so timid, so fearful of their own employees they don’t dare supervise them.
YES, RANOCHAK is elected, but so are the Supervisors, and they fund her office. She’s certain to face opposition next time she appears on a local ballot because she’s become just a little too autocratic in her job.
“LAST NIGHT I was ‘grossly generalistic,’ and that’s never a good idea. I regret saying ‘half’—that was wrong. But let’s be clear, what’s really ‘deplorable’ is that Donald Trump hired a major advocate for the so-called ‘alt-right’ movement to run his campaign and that David Duke and other white supremacists see him as a champion of their values. It’s deplorable that Trump has built his campaign largely on prejudice and paranoia and given a national platform to hateful views and voices, including by retweeting fringe bigots with a few dozen followers and spreading their message to 11 million people. It’s deplorable that he’s attacked a federal judge for his “Mexican heritage,” bullied a Gold Star family because of their Muslim faith, and promoted the lie that our first black president is not a true American. So I won’t stop calling out bigotry and racist rhetoric in this campaign. I also meant what I said last night about empathy, and the very real challenges we face as a country where so many people have been left out and left behind. As I said, many of Trump’s supporters are hard-working Americans who just don’t feel like the economy or our political system are working for them. I’m determined to bring our country together and make our economy work for everyone, not just those at the top. Because we really are ‘stronger together’.” (Hillary Clinton)
LIKE TRUMP can do anything about some of the people who support him? Like the Klan hasn’t supported Republicans for a hundred years? Like bigotry is unknown among liberals? Like the parents of the Muslim soldier didn’t volunteer to allow Hillary to exploit the death of their son? That wondering aloud about the ability of a Mexican-American to objectively consider a Trump case is unreasonable? That Hillary’s basket doesn’t contain just as many deplorables who despise the white working classes, hence the Trump vote?
HEY! I’m for Jill. But I think Hillary’s contempt for about half the population slipped out here. And her statement that she just wants to bring us all together is pure smoke, unless she wants to bring us together to sign us up for mandatory accounts with her buddies at Goldman Sachs.
THE CLOSELY WATCHED matter of Charles Reynolds, 32, was in Judge David Nelson’s superior court last Wednesday afternoon for what was scheduled as a preliminary hearing. Reynolds is charged with “assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury” in the death of Kenneth Fisher, 29.
THE DEFENSE asked for and received a one-week continuance, so One Punch will be back in court this week.
DEPUTY DA Luke Oakley surprised everyone with the statement that the prosecution possesses a surveillance video, presumably of the fatal episode. If the video shows that Reynolds simply walked up to Fisher and slugged him, Reynolds is in serious trouble.
FISHER grew up in the Laytonville area. Reynolds, 32, is a married man with a wife and three small children in Oklahoma, but apparently spends a lot of time in the Willits area. He has three arrests in Mendocino County. One in 2008 for disorderly conduct and violation of probation; 2010 he was charged with DUI. 2011 he racked up a serious battery charge that then-DA Lintott did not prosecute. Reynolds is said to be a skilled motorcycle mechanic.
AT LAST WEDNESDAY’S HEARING, a large crowd mourning the death of Fisher was passing out commemorative, glow-in-the-dark tee-shirts.
THE BRIEF snatches of KZYX conversation I heard Tuesday morning about the present state of mental health services in the county seemed comprehensive. As far as it went. But I’m going to assume that Dr. Trotter, Aaron ‘Cobb’ Martin and an Adventist mental health woman psychiatrist whose name I didn’t get probably didn’t bring up the issues that most concern me.
AS SOME of us are aware, the County privatized the care part of our mental health services a few years ago, handing somewhere between $10 and $12 million for each of three years to a private mental health contractor based in Yuba City named Ortner. If this guy was building your house, your very large house for this kind of money, but failed to buy so much as a two-by-four, you would have called the cops and he would have been arrested for fraud. Essentially, that’s what happened here; Ortner took the money and came up with almost zero in practical services. As any businessman can tell you, you make a better profit by providing as little as possible, and this Ortner character is strictly a bottom line guy. If you were nuts, do you want a bottom line guy in charge of you, or do you want a genuinely Nice Person in charge of you while you’re out of it?
SO THE COUNTY finally canceled its contract with Ortner after most inland doctors and the Sheriff publicly complained and handed it to another private party, this one based in Ukiah called Redwood Community Services (aka Redwood Quality Management Company. It’s a mom and pop business run by Camille Schraeder and her husband. The contract — which now covers both adults and children’s mental health services — is worth many annual millions.
I DON’T think mental health services should be privatized. I predict that the people who are really off the rails will continue to be sent out of town to Ortner or Ortner-like facilities that cost upwards of $800 a day. Maybe the Schraeders have a lock-up facility with the required staffing to keep the seriously deranged in the county, but I am unaware that they do. Like Ortner, they will cherry pick their funding units and minimize the help for people who can’t bring in money. Count on it.
WHICH IS WHY I support Sheriff Allman’s proposed in-county psych unit. Which is also why I worry that the Sheriff’s proposal will be resisted by the county — the Supes are already whining objections to Allman’s plan; well, they whined then backed off, but Schraeder’s contract is already-in-hand and Sheriff Allman’s initiative hasn’t even been voted on yet. His psych unit will be in direct competition with Schraeder’s operation (unless the County figures out a way to get Schaeder and Company to staff it which will still pose privatized services problems). Schraeder has a big head start, but the Sheriff’s in-county psych unit is what we specifically need here.
NOT TO BE too much of a simpleton about it, but what are we really talking about when we talk about the volatile mentally ill, few of whom get better in the highly expensive hands of the array of credentialed psych people who, for the most part, simply zonk them with incapacitating drugs or drug them just enough to zombo-ize them into a semblance of normal life, normal having become an infinitely elastic term. A lot of crazy people, many of them temporarily insane from street drugs, don’t need much more than a comfortable room, locked from the outside, while the dope wears off. And a sympathetic person who will listen to them even if they have to be confined for a time. And a large, strong person to wrap them up if they go off. And that confinement should occur in comfortable circumstances, defined here as Not A Jail Cell or an austere room like a jail cell — not your dentist’s waiting room, for example.)
THE WHOLE MENTAL HEALTH picture lacks clarity, which always happens when the blah-blah people are put in charge of it. They get paid to blah-blah. And everyone rolls over for the blah-blah people because they’ve been to college and who long ago talked the government into funding them at a very high rate of pay. Excuse me for going completely primitive on you here, but we all know people we’d trust with our affairs if we’re in crisis, few of whom have credentials beyond maybe a high school diploma. Based on my life experience lo these many years, I’ve known very few doctors and zero psychiatric doctors who I’d trust not to kick my dog while I was on thorazine.
BOTTOM LINE: Caring for the mentally ill is a collective social responsibility. The mentally ill should not be made funding units for private businesses. Vote Yes on the Sheriff’s plan.
JONAH RASKIN WRITES: I did not include in my story about Sheriff Allman and mental illness last week my own experiences. I thought it would detract from the information I wanted to provide. But I would like to add here that 12 years ago in a funk and deeply depressed and on medication that did make my situation worse, not better, I went to Langley Porter, the psychiatric hospital in San Francisco because I had heard good things about it. The staff put me on a gurney in the emergency room. I was there from about 8:30 am to 8:30 p.m. and listened to the screams of wounded men and women. When a doctor or nurse or social worker came to talk to me I said repeatedly that I was depressed and wanted to be admitted to Langley Porter. Nothing happened until a therapist whose name I have forgotten approached and said “Jonah, the only way you will be admitted is if you say you are a danger to yourself and to others.” The next time a doctor came around I told him what I had been told to say. I related this story to Sheriff Allman who replied, “You knew the password.” Indeed I did. I was admitted. I spent five days as an in-patient and five days as an out-patient. My health plan would not pay for any more days. In Langley Porter the doctors changed my medication; with Remeron I was able to sleep at night. I had only been getting 3-4 hours each night. I was in one-on-one therapy with psychiatrists. I was in group therapy and I was in workshops. I met many wonderful, supportive people, patients and doctors and health professionals. It was one of the best learning experiences in my life. I am glad I spent that time in Langley Porter. I have had some ups and downs since then, but no depression like the depression I experienced before I went into the hospital. I wrote and published an article about my depression and many people read it and contacted me wanting me to help them, which I could not really do since I am not a doctor or a therapist. I would repeat what Sheriff Allman said to me: “Everyone has a mental illness story” and “mental illness is not a crime.” It helps to get the subject into the open and to share experiences. Thanks for listening and thinking and being a part of the conversation.
THE FIX IS IN. Mike Sweeney’s $5 million project has been in the works for years. A majority of the Fort Bragg City Council is already for it as is the entire Board of Supervisors. But Fort Bragg already has a perfectly serviceable transfer station at Pudding Creek. A new transfer station off Highway 20 would be redundant and environmentally destructive. And today, Monday, the Fort Bragg City Council was 3-2 in approval of the EIR placing the destructive and redundant monstrosity smack in the middle of the Pygmy Forest. All praise Lindy Peters and Mike Cimolino for voting not to approve. The Supervisors, predictably, were unanimous in approval.
THE ETERNAL QUEST. Mendocino County Public Broadcasting is accepting applications for the position of Executive Director/General Manager. Full-time, salary DOE. For details and job description, or to apply, contact Diane Hering at email@example.com or call 707-895-2324. Deadline to apply is October 15th. (This appears as a paid ad on the Coast and in Ukiah. They’ll hire another poor, unsuspecting soul who, as soon as she walks through the door of the grunge-o Philo studio will scream and head for the exit. Or silently scream for a few weeks then head for the exit. The “thinking” at KZYX is to shuffle the same deck of existing stalwarts into different management configurations and presto-magico! everything will just kinda right itself. That’s been the thinking for a quarter century now. Short of a population transplant, this county is not capable, at any level, of self-government.
BECKMAN PRINTING SAYS GOODBYE. When Ricky Jardstrom got fired, he got something extra, a finely rendered, calligraphic denunciation he won’t soon forget. Jardstrom, a man in his early fifties, had worked for Beckman Printing, Fort Bragg, for 15 years. His uncle had owned the thriving little business prior to a youngish couple, Jeremy and Aspen Logan, buying the enterprise in January of 2015.
“I THINK in 15 years I was late for work only one time,” the insulted Jardstrom says. “There was one job I was late getting done because my kid was sick. They always told me, ‘Where else can you work when your kid’s sick?’ But in the end that’s what they used against me.”
MEANING, it seems, the Logans wanted Jardstrom out for whatever reason. Jardstrom says when his uncle owned the shop he could bring his daughter to work. But when the business changed hands this lenient children-on-the job site policy ended. Jardstrom had had trouble finding a reliable babysitter, and for a while could only work a couple of hours a day, and right about there relations between employer and employee soured until they were so rancid they were soon all sitting across from each other in a hearing room.
THE LOGANS and the aggrieved Jardstrom, after a labor hearing, settled on 410 dollars for Jardstrom’s exit and, normally, that would have been the end of it. But not long after Jardstrom was staring at his highly personalized goodbye. Someone on the Beckman end of the dispute couldn’t resist a parting shot, writing on that check: “Good Riddance, You Wretched Cunt.”
WHICH would disturb anyone, and which is a very peculiar, not to say an incriminating, thing to do.
“I AM NOT wretched and I am not a cunt, and to me that’s just bad business and just rude and being a bully,” Jardstrom says in his literalist denial of the vile characterization of his personality.
WHEN I contacted the Beckman’s for their side of things, I got back a cheery e-mail from Aspen Logan: “Hi Bruce, After discussing with our lawyer, we've been advised we're unable discuss matters pertaining to former employees. Aspen.”
A UKIAH READER WRITES: “Yesterday Bill and I passed the Ukiah Trump headquarters on our way to dinner. Out front there were signs and even a huge stand-in cardboard Trump. Over everything was a sign reading “PROUD DEPLORABLES.” This morning, from a friend who had been observing the same Trump Headquarters since it opened, I learned that the coffee shop across the street was the perfect place from which to observe the comings and goings. My friend also mentioned that early that morning she had watched a truck, careful not to obscure the Trump signs, park by the headquarters. From that truck, she said, manure was being sold. Well, I thought, I had to see that for myself. Not finding the manure truck, I watched various groups happily getting their Trump signs, glad handing and chatting. After a bit, a pickup parked so as not to block the signs. The driver emerged, jumped onto the back of the pickup and at eye level, posted a sign sporting the message “BIGOTRY IS NOT A FAMILY VALUE.” The driver then strolled across the street to the coffee shop, taking a spot in front of the window, and got some coffee. After a bit, I told him that I liked his sign. After another couple of minutes, I told him about my friend’s sighting of the manure-laden truck with a “For Sale” sign. He laughed and said that his truck was the same truck, and it didn’t have real manure, only a sign. But he so liked the idea of selling real manure he thought he might ask a horse-owning friend for a truckload. While I was chatting up the sign-sporting truck owner I noticed that no one stopped at the headquarters. They couldn't be getting the message, could they? When it was time to leave I asked a young barista if anyone from the Trump campaign ever came in to get a cup of coffee. He said, “No, they haven’t.”
“Didn't Trump supporters drink coffee?” I asked.
“They drink blood,” was his response.
WE WILL HAVE TWO death penalty propositions on the November ballot. One repeals the death penalty, the other speeds it up. The argument for repeal is the old one: it doesn't deter much of anyone, it's unfair because only poor people get it, and life without is cheaper. The reasons for speeding it up are also familiar, and include these bastards have it coming, it's the law, lawyers drag out appeals to ridiculous lengths.
WE AGREE that these bastards have it coming, but we don't like dispatching them by midnight needles in hospital settings. We also don't like the state being authorized to kill people because in certain circumstances the state would kill us. But we think executions should be public — football stadiums would be perfect venues — with admission charged, television rights sold, and all proceeds to the families of the victims. We would also require that the families would have to do the killing or at least authorize it, and the method should be by firing squad, which is quick, humane and even romantic if the condemned gets a last word and a cigarette. This way, The People, in whose name the execution is carried out get to witness what is being done in their name.
IN THE MEAN TIME, and we live in a very mean time indeed, we recommend a Yes vote On Prop 62, a No vote on 66.
AS THE BOONVILLE NEWSPAPER has always argued, pornography itself should be banned. But now that the ritual humiliation of half the world's population is not only sanctioned but celebrated, and so pervasive it's available to children, and that fact is certainly one more sign that America's slide into the moral abyss will not be arrested any time soon, the degenerates who abase themselves in these films should probably be protected (sic) from themselves by being required to wear condoms. Vote YES, as you watch the daily increase in sex crimes everywhere in the world and wonder why such a relatively trivial issue as this one found its way onto a state ballot when pornography itself is driving sexual mayhem. Is the AVA saying pornography causes sexual violence? Yes. Can you prove it? No. But do the math. Millions of isolated men watching this stuff for hours at a time everywhere in the country is like arming a kindergarten class with loaded guns and telling them to go outside and play cops and robbers. (I don't think the analogy quite works but you get my drift, I assume.)
A READER WRITES: "Pebbles Trippett and the other authors of the letter comparing the Heritage Initiative (Measure AF) and the county sponsored Marijuana Tax (Measure AI) are at least one toke over the line. Pebs claims the Supes put the county Marijuana Tax on the ballot to defeat AF. But the county has been planning to tax marijuana for over a year. Pebs also claims the county marijuana tax will wipe out the Heritage Initiative (AF) in its entirety if it gets more votes. The fact is, if AI passes with more votes it will only invalidate the one small section of AF that includes a tax.
THE PROPONENTS OF AF are calling for a "yes" vote on AI, the county marijuana tax, and AJ the advisory measure that asks if voters want a majority of the proceeds from the tax to be spent on mental health, roads, marijuana eradication and fire and emergency medical services. I hope Pebs can explain why the Yes on AF committee would recommend a yes vote on AI if it knocks out AF. Another nasty surprise for Pebs is that the tax in Measure AF, if it is enacted, will be enforced by the infamous County Uniform Nuisance Abatement Ordinance 8.75 which labels any violation a nuisance, including the tax in AF. And the deadlines and noticing requirements are less stringent in AI because the Supes modified them in response to public comment.
PEBS ALSO MAKES FALSE COMPARISONS by claiming only AF will allow for marijuana appellations or regulation by the Ag Department. These and many more provisions are included in the county cultivation ordinance but are not part of AI which is only a tax on marijuana businesses. Finally, AF locks in the tax for 'medical marijuana' at 2.5% and 'recreational' at 5%. What do you want to bet that the growers will all claim it is medical? Isn't that how we got into the mess we are in now with everyone claiming they are growing medical marijuana as they suck the rivers dry? AI starts out at 2.5% for all marijuana and allows the Supes to increase it over time but only after a public hearing. In short, Pebs needs to step away from the bong until she can get her facts straight.
SWAMI CHAITANYA, another marijuana grower who stands to profit if the Heritage Initiative passes, is the perfect proof of your standard claim that here in Mendocino County you are whoever you say you are and history begins anew everyday. Like Pebs, who was Ms. Tulsa of 1956 in what must seem like another lifetime, Like Pebs, Swami came to Mendocino County and reinvented himself. As the purveyor of the "Swami Select" brand of medical marijuana he no doubt plans to grow an acre of medicine if Measure AF (aka the Heritage Act) passes.
SWAMI DISPUTES the claim that the Heritage Initiative was written by and for marijuana growers but the facts seem pretty clear on this point. Tim Blake, the Laytonville area grower and dispensary owner who is one of the financial backers has been very open in acknowledging, even bragging that they paid a marijuana defense attorney $10,000 to write the Heritage Initiative. Somehow that payment does not show up in there campaign finance statements. The Heritage Initiative is 'grass roots' in the sense that it is being bankrolled by lots of underground cash."