Off the Record (Dec. 21, 2016)

by AVA News Service, December 21, 2016

SIZABLE front pager in Monday’s Wall St Journal ("The Hidden Hurt of Life on the Beat") spotlights PTSD etc on cops caught up in hellish situations and having to cope with the aftermath. A big portion and the largest photo (inside) is on FB’s ex-chief, Scott Mayberry following the killing of Ricky Del Fiorentino by a rampaging Oregon tweaker.

OAKY JOE MUNSON is getting his case dismissed and his money returned to him. The one hold-up is the penalty the Sonoma County DA does want to levy: to wit, 200 hours of community service. Joe says, "Sure, if it can be me growing weed for AIDS patients." SoCo is mulling it over — but it sounds like Joe's serious about not doing any time. And then what? The worst they can do to him is hit him with a civil penalty of a $500 fine and six months in county jail. No forfeiture of his cash seized during last spring’s raid on Joe's property in the West County where Joe, as always, had his paperwork in irrefutable legal order. The guy's busted practically on an annual basis — never been convicted.

GLAD to see Lindy Peters sworn in as Fort Bragg's new mayor, with freshly elected Will Lee installed as vice-mayor. A new day seems a'dawnin' in Mendocino County's jewel on the Pacific. City Manager Ruffing may be retiring as that new sun rises.

MENDO COLLEGE'S board of trustees have begun closed session talks that will almost certainly result in an end to the school's football program. Odd occurrence at last week's meeting of the board when school president Reyes denied football had been discussed in closed session. Ukiah attorney Barry Vogel immediately popped up to apparently throw board member Ed Haynes under the college's closed session bus when Vogel said that it was Haynes who had told him about the closed session football deliberations.

MOST OF THE COLLEGE'S gridders are from out of state, way out of state, with Florida providing most of them. This past season, a winning one incidentally, a good part of the team had been housed in a decayed Ukiah property on Hortense Street owned by Dr. Gitlin of Redwood Valley. It still isn't known who was paying Gitlin the nine thousand a month rent on the place. But when the Redwood Valley healer closed his grim premises, previously home to twenty imported football players, a number of the athletes were housed either at a grungy hot sheet motel on North State Street or at an Assembly of God church. The church evicted the remaining footballers this week.

LANDLORD GITLIN, becoming ubiquitous as a kind of free range Mendo humanitarian, popped up in the news again this week when it was revealed he owns a structure on South State Street that has been expensively re-modeled via public money and private donations as a cold weather shelter.

FURTHER INVESTIGATION into the funding of Ukiah's cold weather shelter reveals that the County put up $50,000; the City of Ukiah is in for $30,000; Adventist Hospital $10.000; the Community Foundation $10,000. The group running it, the HSAG (Homeless Services Action Group) needs to fundraise about $50,000 more if they want to keep the doors open for the authorized four months.

TURNS OUT that Dr. Gitlin, contacted the HSAG to offer his building when he heard they were having trouble finding a location, offered the decayed structure at a rent of $3,300 a month. And landlord Gitlin has since magnanimously allowed the group to clean up and haul away several truckloads of trash, sheetrock a wall to meet the fire codes and repair the plumbing and wiring, happy improvements to Gitlin's private property via mostly public funds.

EVEN WITH ALL the fix-ups, HSAG still had to rent a portable shower unit and portapotties to make the space fully habitable. To repeat, Gitlin is the same guy who was sticking the football players and/or the college $9,000 a month for a run down fire trap on Hortense where, when the hot water heater went out, Gitlin didn't bother replacing it.

WELCOME TO MENDOLIB, Mr. O'Donnell. O'Donnell is a new reporter for the Ukiah Daily Journal, and a very good one, I would say based on his work so far.

O'DONNELL'S STORY on Ukiah's cold weather shelter contained these two emblematic paragraphs:

"Peter Barrett, who has coordinated the intake process, has repeatedly declined to speak to The Journal. Vincent-dePaule instructed the newspaper’s photographer Friday not to photograph certain parts of the shelter, both inside and outside. Bekkie Emery, the county’s deputy director of Adult and Aging Services, would answer questions only by email, declining to speak over the phone.

"HSAG board Chairman David Taxis told The Daily Journal Friday that the board’s tight press policy came about after ‘a number of inaccuracies’ reported in a previous article. He declined to say what article he was referring to or to specify what had been reported inaccurately, and nobody has ever alerted The Daily Journal to any such inaccuracies.”

MEANWHILE, you can be drunk or loaded for the cold weather shelter in Fort Bragg but not to stay at Hospitality House, which runs the cold weather shelter. Homeless women are housed at HH, men at whatever church is volunteering for the week. This week it is the Presbyterian Church. If there are too many women for the Hospitality House they get a motel room.

FOR YOUR CANDY ASS FILES. A subscription renewal from San Francisco's main public library comes with a notation "scent free issues only." We'll be spraying Frisco's weekly copy with El Flooze-O to see if anyone down there notices. (What a nutty request. As if we’re Vanity Fair?…)

BEST THING about Trump we've heard who’s about to close a deal with the great Andrea Bocelli to sing at his inauguration. We'd assumed the inauguration would be a version of the Super Bowl half-time show, with the usual batch of untalented “singers” doing their synchronized pelvic thrusts to boff lyrics. Bocelli can really sing, our fave, he is.

SPEAKING of the inauguration, it’s shaping up as a real riot, and I don’t mean laff riot. Whole lotta kamikazi-style libs are planning on being there to disrupt it, with probably an equivalent number of deplorables planning to make sure the libs don’t.

IN THE DECEMBER 7 edition (and Mendocino County Today for December 5) we confused the Rohrbaughs of Covelo with the Rorabaughs of Hopland. The rec center at the south end of Ukiah is named after the Hopland Rorabaughs. The Rohrbaughs of Covelo descend from George White, the infamous cattle king of Round Valley.

THE CORRECTED paragraph now reads:

I'LL PUT IN A WORD HERE for Covelo. It probably doesn't but should boast some of the oldest trees — giant elms and oaks — in the County, and the ghostly old hotel, site of the shooting of Wylacki John, hit man for the nationally infamous "King of Round Valley," George White. Covelo's history is the most colorful, the richest of any place in Mendocino County. The Rohrbaughs of Covelo got the bulk of White's considerable fortune in return for its founding patriarch lying for White when White was charged with attempting to murder his wife. Rohrbaugh testified that the woman was a floozie. Which was untrue, but White was acquitted. The slandered woman's uncle, I believe it was, shot and killed Wylacki John in the bar of the Covelo Hotel in 1888 for continuing to libel his niece. Balzac's famous observation that behind every great fortune is a great crime has been lived out in the Rohrbaughs of Round Valley.

AS RESIDENTS of the deep Potter Valley outback, Polly Franklin and her son, Daniel, like most Mendo outback residents, worry about fire. And like most outback people they prepare for that fearsome eventuality as best they can, hoping it never happens. Polly doesn't actually live in Potter Valley unless she is fighting absurdities like the one that has befallen her and her son.

ON THE ADVICE of a licensed forester, based on fuel loads on their parcel and the ongoing drought, the Franklins installed a large water bladder to get maximum wet weather water storage for dry weather fires. The surplus bladder was the least expensive storage device they could find.

THE FRANKLINS installed the bladder, and it filled just fine in the rainy months. But in April of 2013, the bladder ruptured, possibly up to 50,000 gallons of pure spring water into a small, ephemeral crease in the land normally free of water even in storms. The crease runs down a mild slope and eventually into the Eel River. There was minor damage which quickly became invisible with re-growth.

RESPONSIBLE citizens that they are, the Franklins called Fish and Wildlife to report what had happened. Fish and Wildlife alerted the State Water Board, and three years later the Franklins, people of austere means, are drowning in fines totaling a preposterous $381,000.

THE IRONY here, as irony veers into ruin for the Franklins, is that the Franklins did everything right in installing the bladder, and when the spill occurred, immediately reported the spill to get advice and assistance on what to do about repairing the damage done, which was no more severe than the occasional mid-winter flooding that occurs naturally.

BUT THE STATE FORCES of wildlife protection noted a nearby but inactive pot garden during their inspection of the spill, and the Water Board decided to make an example of the Franklins, seeking preposterously large fines based on exaggerated estimates of damage.

THERE WAS NO active gro at the time of the spill, although Daniel Franklin had seven registered patients for the Franklin property, meaning even where there was a gro it was fully permitted personal growing for Daniel and his seven registered patients, who shared crops only among themselves.)

THE AFFECTED run-off channel has fully recovered, as verified by licensed forester Estelle Clifton who reported in November of this year, after a storm, that "the channel "was stabilized, no fresh erosion noted, water in the stream flows clear."

SPILLS like this happen all the time in one form or another. Erosion from grape growing and overgrazing are common. And you certainly don’t find vineyard owners or outlaw pot growers reporting their spills, cooperating with authorities or paying for repairs and restoration unprompted.

BUT THE BELEAGUERED Franklins fully expect the Water Board, convening in Santa Rosa this Thursday (15 December), to rubber stamp the imposition of the wildly unfair fine on the Potter Valley family.

THE HEARING before the Water Board was last Thursday the 15th of December. The case documents are on the agency's website: The Franklin matter is the 5th item on their list with the Franklin rebuttal to the giant pile of bureaucratic exaggerations as the last item in the list of exhibits:

http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/northcoast/board_decisions/tentative_orders/

WE NOTE that several of the Water Board exhibits, and probably half of the pages in the Franklin case, are all about the purported sales price of cannabis and the amount a person can harvest per plant in the years since 2013. But there’s no evidence of marijuana sales from the small cooperative pot garden, no record of law enforcement interest in the garden or the spill. The State's pot asides have nothing to do with the Franklin case, and they certainly have nothing to do with justice or fairness or even consistent fines.

NOTE: IN THE YEARS 2012-2014 the Region 1 Water Board (for the entire Northcoast) fined three people a total of $120,000. but from the Franklins they want $381,949.

THE NORTH COAST Regional Water Quality Control Board is located at 5550 Skylane Blvd. Suite A, Santa Rosa 95403-1072. Take the Sonoma County Airport exit.

PETER REIMULLER of Point Arena has a better guess about why Bosco and his NorthWest Pacific (NWP) railroad are sitting on a bunch of hazardous Liquid Propane Gas (LPG) Tanker cars on a spur line near Vallejo than we had: “I read your article about propane storage down in the Vallejo area. The only reason that Bosco would have to store propane down there is that it is dirt cheap right now. So they’re trying to hedge the market by holding on the cheap stuff until the price goes up. For the last few months LPG has been around 50¢ a gallon, wholesale. They’re almost giving it away. So I think it’s a cash-promoting scheme, not just a storage scheme.”

FORT BRAGG'S THE RESTAURANT CLOSES (Sorry to see it go. Never had a bad meal there.) “Facebook friends around the world: As you know The Restaurant and the building have been for sale for a couple of months. I have received and accepted an offer and things are moving forward to complete the sale within 90 days. The buyer is Silver Canul, a local restaurateur, who plans to move his restaurant, Mayan Fusion, into The Restaurant space, serving lunch and dinner, and offering beer, wine AND spirits.

Silver has been looking for a new location for over a year hoping for a larger location in the downtown area. He plans to expand his menu but also will retain the Mayan flavor.

This is bittersweet for me - I've had 17 fantastic years here - 15 of them as Jim's partner, and the last two and a half on my own. The Restaurant has been well-loved by thousands of loyal patrons, and hundreds of employees over the past 43.5 years. It's one-of-a-kind, and part of a dying breed of small, family-owned fine dining restaurants. Until our last day you can expect the same high quality food, service and ambience.

If you are holding a gift certificate, we suggest that you use it in the next three months.

Oh, don't forget or wait until the last minute to make your reservation for New Year's Eve, as we expect to be fully booked that night - call us: 707 964-9800. We'll be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas day but then we will be open every day (including Tues and Wed) until January 3rd, then back to our regular schedule, closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. We're decorated for the holidays, and added some permanent lights to our awning which brighten up the block. Come see us soon!

The Restaurant Management

CHARLES REYNOLDS, the tough guy who sucker punched Ken Fisher and killed him outside Boomer’s Bar in Laytonville three months ago, appeared at his pretrial conference Wednesday morning and confirmed, as did prosecutor Luke Oakley, that the trial would go forward as planned for January 23rd. He faces charges of assault with great bodily injury (i.e., death), not manslaughter and not second degree murder — charges that Fisher’s family and others say are insufficient for the killing of Fisher. Judge David Nelson voiced some annoyance that there had been no negotiations in the case, and Mr. Reynolds’ lawyer, Macci Baldock reported that there had been no offers. Mr. Deputy DA Oakley confirmed that this was the deal: “plead to the sheet,” as the lawyers say: “You have two choices. 1: Take it. 2: Leave it. (Apparently the DA thinks that the charges are not subject to further reduction.) Ms. Baldock, after a consultation with Linda Thompson in the foyer of the courtroom, conveyed her professional opinion and the offer to her client, and he rejected it. Ms. Baldock, however, indicated there might be some wiggle-room by asking for another pretrial conference, January 10th 9:00 am, pretrial motions on the 19th, jury trial on Monday, the 23rd.

(— Bruce McEwen)

Basurto

THE FETCHING MS. JOSEPHA BASURTO, she who sprayed the game warden with the fire extinguisher, practically slept through her arraignment this morning. First she slumped down (it’s darned hard to get comfortable in shackles and chains), then leaned over and napped on another prisoner’s shoulder. After a while, the corrections officer took her out for a restroom call, and on the way Eugene “Bear” Lincoln (seated by the door, awaiting his hearing) said he would send her some money — for her commissary or lawyer fees wasn’t clear because the C.O. told Mr. Lincoln, “Don’t talk to her — it’s against the law, a misdemeanor.”

Mr. Lincoln was there for his prelim, but his wife fell ill and had to be taken to the hospital, so it was postponed again, until January 10th 10:00 am. The marijuana cultivation felony charges will be pursued, after all, contrary to my earlier report that it was all dismissed except the felon with a firearm allegation.

It seems this same Game Warden has pictures of a creek next to the Lincoln homestead that has been diverted into a pond for the pot patch, and the chemical fertilizer runoff, is replacing the natural stream flow. Prop. 64 can’t touch this kind of deal, we are given to understand by the DA, so the felony cultivation charges will resume.

We hope Mrs. Sonia Lincoln is well, as this couple are long-time pillars of the community, as they say, and revered countywide for good works like the offer to help Ms. Basurto, even at legal risk to themselves.

TALK ABOUT IDLE THREATS…

A Fort Bragg man was arrested after allegedly threatening to get a gun when denied medication, the Fort Bragg Police Department reported.

According to the FBPD, officers responded to the CVS on South Main Street Dec. 7 when staff there reported that a customer was threatening violence.

The suspect, identified as Alan Graham [aka “Captain Fathom”], 77, of Fort Bragg, reportedly began causing a disturbance in the store when he was denied the medication he requested.

Graham reportedly told staff members he would come back with a gun and rob the business in order to get the medication, the name of which was not disclosed.

Graham was arrested on suspicion of making criminal threats and attempted robbery and booked into Mendocino County jail.

ED NOTE: The Captain is off his meds. Again. But the 5150 Suite at the County Jail, in the winter months, is undoubtedly much more comfortable than Fathom's woodstove shack on the Albion Ridge, especially considering the guy is 77 and has to hump his own firewood. The DA is hardly likely to prosecute this one.

HACKSAW RIDGE, a movie note: How can you forget the Medal of Honor, the Blue Max, going to a C.O. conscientious objecting wee lad who wouldn’t carry a rifle, bless him. Just came in from the movie at the Ukiah Theater, and while it was a splendid tear-jerker and heart-thumper, I couldn’t recognize any of the landscape– and in the early 1970s I drove all over that island [Okinawa] every day, to work — Truck Company, HQ Battalion, 3rd Force Service Regiment. From the Naval port in Naha City (best breakfast on my route) to Camp Schawb in the “communist” North Sector, w/ chaser duty at the Judge Advocate General’s Office — and off duty, drove a ’57 Chevy Bel Aire all over the rest! from the Perfume River, to the Seabees’ Camp on White Beach, I drove a lot of that really small island, and I have a hard time relating to a lot of the, uhmm, scenes in this flick, it kinda looks like a Bollywood mock-up of Nagagusku Castle. (— Bruce McEwen)

Myers

HELD TO ANSWER. Robert Nelson Myers of Fort Bragg was held to answer by his namesake, Judge David Nelson, Wednesday, after a lengthy preliminary hearing that included a video of Mr. Myers sucker punching a United States Postal Service worker as this civil servant went about his postal rounds on October 9, 2016. Defense attorney Al Kubanis offered only the faintest confidence in the case he was assigned, but this screwball (Myers, not Kubanis), like all of us, gets his day in court. Full details to follow in the print edition! (Bruce McEwen)

(Ed note: Robert Myers was sent to state prison in 2011 for assault with a deadly weapon with great bodily injury with a gang enhancement. Supposedly for about five years. So it looks like he slugged the postal worker not long after being released from prison. He was on parole at the time of his brave attack on the mailman.)

RECOMMENDED READING: Living in Mendocino County, most of us can't help but know that all around us people are operating outside the law, way outside the law in many cases, and large sums of money are changing hands, much of the cash moving into the County as our major ag product moves out. "Mule, a Novel of Moving Weight" by Tony D'Souza, is the best thing, by far, I've read on the dope trade, so good that for me anyway it was a real page-turner. (I don't mean to patronize the writer. He's really good. Best fiction I've read since Tom McGuane's last story in The New Yorker.) The story is about a young married guy — infant daughter, another kid in the oven — who, circa the crash of 2008 — can't find work to support his family. When he gets an offer to drive marijuana from Siskiyou County to points east, mostly Florida, for $32,000 for three days on the road with a felony amount of weed, he can't refuse. (As we know, NorCal dope is highly prized out there in Stoner Land, but I had no idea you could make thirty grand for delivering it.) For this kind of money the mule can't resist the big risks. Few people could, but not everyone is cut out for muling because, of course, the cops are the least of the hazards out there among the ruthless folks you're in business with. The author has clearly moved weight himself or has taken down every word from people who have. The novel is part instructional manual, partly the story of the mule and his hair raising adventures. I thought I knew a lot about the intricacies of the trade — how can you not know something about them living in Mendo — until I read this one. Anybody out there need an old guy to drive a load of dope to Omaha?

OTHER BOOKS you dinosaur bibliophiles — we're going fast — might enjoy include Antony Beavor's "Ardennes 1944 — The Battle of the Bulge.” Beavor is a British historian who, unlike a lot of historians, writes a readable prose. My late friend, Emil Rossi, fought in the Battle of the Bulge, emerging from the experience with a Bronze Star and frostbitten feet, and a strict refusal to ever talk about it or watch a war movie ever again. After this book I understand why. I also understand how close the Germans got to turning their losing war around but for some memorably heroic resistance by American soldiers, many of them plunged into combat with crack German soldiers. Many of our boys were unprepared for and inexperienced with combat. The situation was quite dire. In the words of General Patton, "We could still lose this goddam thing." It was that close, as the Germans, fighting defensively to defend the motherland against the Allies on the Western Front as the Russians closed in on them from the East, made a last lunge to break out into Belgium and retake France. And they almost did it, but for the American Army, hence the bulge in an otherwise unyielding Allied perimeter. The fighting was often up close and all of it occurred in the dead of winter. Beavor's account is absolutely gripping.

WHILE WE'RE DISCUSSING English writers, if you've never read any Evelyn Waugh you've led an impoverished intellectual life, and you've missed the funniest writer ever. I've read all his fiction but just now have read "When The Going Was Good," Waugh's travels through the Middle East and Central America in the 1920's and 30's. Great stuff, and fascinating accounts of those places before, well, before The Great Beast was up and upon us.

AND get yourself a copy of Terry Southern’s wonderful comic novel, The Magic Christian, if you’re puzzled by the Trump phenomena.

MORE CULTURE NOTES: Enjoyed the Netflicks production of "The Crown," as did everyone else, apparently. The BBC is always good, although the history of this series is seriously off, not that I’m any kind of authority of Brit history. I do know an awful lot of them think the royal family should have been de-funded about a thousand years before Henry the VIII, and here's one Yank who thinks the modern history of empire-less England is a lot more interesting than the petty dramas of Queen Elizabeth and her boring family. But the writers of "The Crown" and, of course, the actors, make this series interesting without touching on why Churchill was a great war time leader, a reactionary peace time one who devoted much time and energy to crushing the British left, which "liberals" like Tony Blair have faithfully continued. Tiny example of the probs with "The Crown's" version of history: The young Queen Elizabeth, chief propagandist and ceremonialist for empire, which was her job, visits Kenya on a world tour of the colonies just as the Kenyans are rising up in the Mau Mau movement to throw out the British, but you'd never know those tensions existed because the story of the young queen's visit focuses on a big game hunt and domestic dramas between the queen and her husband, Phil. The installment about the queen’s Africa visit ends as the royal entourage's plane lifts off, a small boy wistfully watching it go as if life for Kenyans would be a lot rosier if bwana would stay. The whole show focuses almost entirely on the royal family's domestic tensions, but it's so well done even the historically well-informed like savvy, cool-o me, got caught up in it.

WE'RE ALSO ENJOYING the Hulu production called "Chance," starring the great Hugh Laurie who plays a psychiatrist with a very dangerous client list. This thing, filmed in San Francisco, is totally improbable and, natch, extremely violent, and I say 'natch' because us Americanos are now synonymous with ultra-vi. But the acting is wonderful and the writing is often funny as hell.

LOUIS BEDROCK WRITES:

—Who’s paying for drinks?

—Bedrock —McEwen growled—. He’s rich.

Why me? —Bedrock asked.

Because we say so! —muttered Kalantarian.

Well —Bedrock responded—, I guess I’m paying for drinks.

* * *

MARK SCARAMELLA RESPONDS:

Decades ago at about 5pm on a Friday afternoon, as squadron commander of Field Maintenance at Keesler AFB in Biloxi, Mississippi, I semi-presided over a monthly “squadron party” which featured very good fresh shrimp gumbo made by our paint shop foreman in a giant cooking vat, with cheap beer provided by me. There were about 200 people on hand, military and civilian maintenance people, not all of whom drank the beer (but Sid’s gumbo was irresistible; he was a civilian supervisor who had his own shrimp boat business on the side). About 7pm or so as the “party” was winding down, Chief Master Sergeant Ralph Johns, Field Maintenance Superintendent, 29 solid years in Aircraft Maintenance, who technically worked for me, asked me if I wanted to go have a few more beers at a local beer joint. On him. Except he didn’t have any money in his pocket, he said. (Beer at the joint was about 50¢ a glass at the time.) According to my somewhat hazy recollection the next day, he asked to borrow $20 bucks from me for the tab. According to his recollection later, I had offered to cover the tab. But remember, it was his idea to go for a few beers. Sucker that I was (am?), I proceeded to pay the tab assuming that he’d reimburse me later. That’s when he concocted the story that it was my idea and I offered to pay. (After all I had paid for the cheap beer for the party — which he interpreted as my willingness to pay for beer; I took it to mean he was offering to cover the cost at the joint because I had paid enough.) Of course, Sergeant Johns never reimbursed the $20 based on his “you offered” argument. It was my word against his. I took it as a lesson learned for only $20. Johns was always keen to teach a lesson to a gullible young officer. It would have been a better lesson, though, if I could remember what he told me while we were drinking that beer at the dive.

Welch

EDGAR MADDISON WELCH, the 28-year-old from North Carolina who drove down to a Washington D.C. pizza restaurant and fired an assault rifle inside while investigating a conspiracy about a child sex ring inside orchestrated by Hillary Clinton, plead not guilty in federal court on Friday. Welch faces charges for transporting a firearm and ammunition across state lines and D.C. charges of assault with a dangerous weapon as well as possession of a firearm during a commission of violence. He faces a maximum of 35 years in prison for the incident, after which Welch admitted that he did not find evidence of the alleged sex ring. "My intel was bad," Welch said.

A PERFECT FIT. Former Mendo superintendent of schools, Paul Tichinin, is chairman of Mendocino County's First Five, funded by Mendo's share of a boost in the cigarette tax. About a million bucks a year comes home to fund a kind of jobs program for connected Ukiah liberals who claim to be doing good things for the poor with the money.

TICHININ popped up in the ICO this week with an announcement that First Five has dispatched a book each to 3,364 County children, ages "0-5" (sic). Tichinin's math, predictably, is off, considering that he's apparently sending books to the unborn, and farther off if the 3,364 figure is correct, but "500 children enrolled on the North Coast, and 132 on the South Coast." Presumably, the other 2,732 readers, including those who may or may not still be in the oven, are found in the rest of the County.

NOT TO BE tooooooooo negative about children's books, but I think, generally speaking, they're awful every which way — illustrations and content. Physically, they're half-way between a comic book and a binder. Taken as a whole, the modern children's book seems designed to stifle the child's imagination. I doubt many kids pick them up out of natural curiosity because there is nothing in the least intriguing about so many of them. They're like stepping into contemporary children's television, which is also awful but mesmerizes the small ones to no purpose at all, much like the deadening effect adult tv has on adults.

AS MY OWN little experiment with my two guinea pigs, grandchildren ages 5 and 4, who were demanding to watch five idiot adults (the men struck me as definitely unsavory, the women simply cretinous), singing nonsense songs and dancing around and mugging out at the millions of captive children watching them.

THE GRANDKIDS didn't see me unplug the tv, as I said, "Uh, oh, looks like the power is off." The five-year-old came immediately back with, "Check the plug." But by that time I'd convinced both of them to look at a series of old Donald Duck cartoons on YouTube. Which they loved, and whose graphics are nicely done, the story line funny, the dialogue funnier. The two of them laughed at the right times. They got it.

FROM THE DONALD DUCKS we moved on to Road Runner, which they also liked. And, a couple of days later, The Three Stooges. Which they really liked. I'm going to try them out on the Little Rascals next, and I plan to read to them from Grimm's and Andersen's Fairy Tales which, I understand, a lot of young parents, especially the gluten-free types, say is "too heavy" for little kids. (I had an uncle who used to read me and my brother those stories by the fascinating hour.)

THE SUPPOSEDLY "age appropriate" books piled up like a toxic spill around my grandchildren mostly interest them not at all. There are a few science books they like about sea creatures and of course, dinosaurs, but most of them are thrown together by big book biz to sell to, well, people like First Five. They're dumb even to the children they're supposed to be "appropriate" for. Dollars to donuts the books Tichinin and First Five are laying on the unsuspecting tots of Mendocino County are, by any real standard, totally inappropriate.

MENTAL HEALTH NEEDS STILL HIGH ON THE LIST

The heart-breakingly slim loss of Measure AG on the November ballot should leave no one in doubt that the citizens of Mendocino County know there’s still a serious mental health problem in this county. We have confidence that the new regime in charge of county mental health services is capable and caring and that they will do a decent job of making the most of county funding for mental health services. But what this county desperately needs - and the Kemper report on mental health services here agrees - is a locked facility for the mentally ill who are acting out. Just the other day in Ukiah a man was oddly caressing an axe while staring in at people in a local business. Scary. The police came and took him to the emergency room until mental health workers could arrive. Again, the emergency room becomes the default place for people needing to be restrained or locked up until they are evaluated. And, a Ukiah police officer no doubt had to sit in that emergency room with that man until the county could arrive. And while we don’t know what happened to that man, if he needed to be taken into care somebody had to drive him to another county for expensive daily residency costing our county hundreds of dollars a day. To get two-thirds of the voters to agree to raise their own taxes is a difficult task. Sheriff Allman almost did it with Measure AG. We applaud his effort and hope that the county will see the vote as a mandate from the county’s residents to find a way to create a locked facility here at home that will save us money in the long run, but more important, get people who are dangerous to themselves or others, off our streets.

K.C. Meadows. (Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)

A READER asks the right question: “Observing with jaundiced eyeball. ‘False news’? In earlier simpler times, did we not call this simply ‘Lies’? Why the bogus nice-nice?” — Cynicuss

A RANDOM COMMENT floated in out of cyber-space about the rise of anti-Semitism with Trump’s election. I thought anti-Semitism was pretty much dead, thanks to the public schools. I mean you need to be able to read well enough to understand the seminal crank lit, but after recent encounters with young locals flying the confederate flag, and quizzing them on where they’re getting their information, I know now that they’re on the ‘net more or less absorbing all kinds of dangerous misinformation. But all the goblins seem to be up and running since the election, including anti-Semitism.

AS A LITTLE KID on the school playground one day, another kid called a pal of mine "a fuckin' yid," mystifying both of us. I trotted on home to ask my mother what a yid was, of course leaving out the fuckin' preface. In those days the f-bomb really was a bomb, or at least the verbal equivalent. If your parents even heard a rumor that you'd deployed it you were in big trouble, very big trouble. Mom said, "Don't ever say that word. For Jews, it's like calling a colored person a nigger." My follow-up question asked her to define what a Jew was, which is where Mum's explanation broke down because I have only a vague memory of her rattling off several names, all of them of people who were "nicer" than most of the other adults children encountered in those helmet-free, unsupervised times, when kids could run loose. Most adults, in my memory were, "Get outtahere, you little bastard. Next time your goddam ball comes over here I'm keepin' it." But in the early 1950s, racial epithets, at least among the aspiring middle class, even among the aspiring middle class that secretly shared the motivating sentiments, the vulgar ethnic terms were considered bad form, class indicators that meant you and your family still weren't even within hailing distance of respectability, let alone gentility. Years later, as a militant lib, I thought back to my deformative years and that episode, which I still remember 70 years later, concluding, perhaps incorrectly, that yid was then routine among Catholics, of which there were many in my elementary school, so many about half my class disappeared after lunch every Friday for catechism lessons at the big church down the street, and inedible fish was served in the school cafeteria. 1950 Catholic kids, I'll bet, were still being taught that Jews killed Christ.

A FRIEND COMMENTS: I grew up in an apartment building owned by my grandfather, all Jewish occupants. The rest of the neighborhood was mostly Irish Catholic, and most of the kids went to St. Nicholas of Tolentine's school. And I would be routinely ridiculed as I walked home.

“HAPPY CHA-NU-KAH, Jew!” That was belched forth in my face as I meekly walked down the LONG street to my house. And the Catholic kids were big on yelling that I killed Christ. I had zero understanding of what they were saying as nothing religious was spoken in my home. I was awed and frightened of a little larger than life size crucifixion scene outside the church I mentioned. We drove by it once in a while. Ditto the Christ head in a bed of thorny straw that hung above the bed of my friend Bernadette. I had not a clue, but both sculptures scared me, but I could not look away. My little grade school brain knew something was very odd. I didn’t get it, really, because my parents never said a negative word about other people — black white grey catholic jewish protestant. It was never brought up to me, except to not stare at people who were different. Since my father was a pragmatic atheist, we had no religious education or ceremony in my home. The best thing to come from being Jewish was getting two four day weekends in the early autumn because of Jewish holy days.

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