Mendocino County Today: Friday, Feb. 3, 2017
by AVA News Service, February 3, 2017
STORM ARRIVES. A series of heavy rain squalls began pelting Boonville late Thursday night and are expected to continue all day Friday with a partial let-up Saturday, followed by more rain for the rest of next week. Tuesday is predicted to be the heaviest rain day for the upcoming week. Windy conditions at 10-20 mph most of the time with higher gusts. 45-60 degree temps night/day. Rainfall totals by next Friday may reach six inches or more.
by Bruce McEwen
I wrote last week (AVA, 1/25/2017) in 'Murders On Hold' that Ms. Linda Thompson, Mendo Public Defender, is also handling the case of Mario Godinez-Gonzalez, in another marijuana murder near Yorkville involving co-defendants Isidro Bernal-Lopez and a third man named Edgar Contreras who has decided to testify against the other two: It was Contreras who called 911. He’d been gutshot by one of his partners in crime and left to die, after the three men had traveled from Cloverdale to rip off a dope patch and had ambushed and killed a guerilla grower, Marcos Bautista, of Cloverdale, back in the fall of 2015.
* * *
Last week’s report on pending homicides contained a mistake concerning Edgar Contreras: to wit, I reported that he’d hoped to plead out on a promise to testify against his co-defendants. I'd been told that by one of the other lawyers, Alternate Public Defender Douglas Rhoades, specifically. This was a mistake. Either Mr. Rhoades misled me or I misunderstood him, and I readily own the latter.
In fact, Edgar Contreras had no intention of taking the stand against the others — even though it strongly appears his associates had shot him and left him to die by himself out in the woods, after ambushing and killing one Malcovio Bautista on September 20th of 2015 in the golden hills above Yorkville.
My deepest apologies to Mr. Contreras for any inconvenience my mistake may have caused him. But perhaps he would like to learn that if those vatos, his road dogs, los perros del calle, if they had done that to me, I certainly would have turned State’s evidence on them — in a heartbeat! And hey, Edgar, if those vatos are still out to get you, don’t feel too lonely — I can tell by their malevolent looks at me when they come in the courthouse, they want my blood, too.
After a severe tongue-lashing to this reporter for rash stupidity, administered by Contreras’s lawyer, Jona Saxby, Contreras accepted the District Attorney’s offer to end his suspenseful ordeal and sign off on Murder in the Second Degree with a consecutive kicker that he admit joining in the firefight when they ambushed and killed the guerilla grower, the late Mr. Bautista. So for Mr. Contreras, it would amount to 15 years for the Second Degree Murder, with 10 years consecutive for “willfully and intentionally discharging a firearm that resulted in great bodily injury and death…” There would be a restitution hearing to satisfy the expense to the victim’s family, a much-reduced fine of $3,000, parole for life and, “if you are not a citizen of this country you could be deported and barred from reentry.”
Earlier in the day, as Contreras was still mulling over his situation, Judge Moorman, with each duly translated for Contreras, Ms. Saxby was afraid potential jurors might jump to the conclusion that her client was an undocumented visitor.
It would have taken five days to send out the jury questionnaires and expect even a smattering of responses. God knows if it were me, I’d be all about stalling, too.
THE FOLLOWING is our original account of what happened, or what apparently happened from the AVA of March 9, 2016:
* * *
Treasure Of The Pinche Madres
by Bruce McEwen
They finally found the gut-shot 911-caller at a guerrilla grow near Yorkville. It was 7:30 the morning of September 27th. The gut-shot man was unarmed, except for his iPhone. It turned out to be better than a gun. If he hadn't been able to call out, he would have bled to death. The paramedics evacuated the gut-shot man to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital where he eventually recovered enough to get himself arrested.
Further along the trail, the rescue party came across another body. This one wasn’t as lucky as gut-shot man. He was dead, and would be identified as 43-year-old Marcos Bautista from Cloverdale. The dead man's pistol was still holstered, and the homicide detective, Luis Espinoza, who doubles as Boonville high school's basketball coach, drew the Smith & Wesson out of the holster and checked the chamber. It was charged, locked and loaded, as they say, but the dead man had never got off a shot at his killers, by the looks of things. (The state’s Department of Justice hasn’t finished with the ballistic reports.)*
The lucky gut-shot guy, Del Diablo (Bad Boy), said he’d been plugged by one of his partners, Blackie (El Negro), and that his other partner, Shorty (Chipparo), had taken his gun (pistola) away. Then, he said, those pinche madres left him to bleed out in the thirsty dust of Cooper Ranch Road off Highway 128.
Edgar 'Bad Boy/Del Diablo' Contreras; Isidro 'Blackie/El Negro' Lopez-Bernal; Mario 'Shorty/Chipparo' Godinez-Gonzalez
Bad Boy’s real name was Edgar Contreras. He said La Cholita —translated as Little Gangbanger — Blanca Rodriquez, drove the three (or four) bandidos out Highway 128 in the early hours from their Cloverdale headquarters, dropped them off at a spot where they armed up with stashed weapons and, as La Cholita drove back to Cloverdale, Chipparo, Del Diablo and El Negro headed into the woods for the grow site, arriving at first light.
Instead of bringing some sensible tool, like pruning shears, they were reduced to snapping off the trunks of the plundered marijuana plants by hand, and then twisting and wrestling with them to worry the fibers loose. They make rope from this stuff for a reason, Vato.
The thieves later admitted they’d been toiling in this manner for over an hour when an angry voice interrupted to them to stop.
That’s when the shooting started.
Each of the defendants denied shooting first. Edgar “Bad Boy” Contreras said he only fired once — into the air. Isidro “Blackie” Lopez-Bernal said he only fired twice — in the air. And Mario “Shorty” Godinez-Gonzalez said he fired three maybe four times — all in the air.
Somehow all these air shots came back to earth where two guys got shot, one of them fatally.
But each of the widely separated bundles of marijuana had several spent shell casings in and around them, which had been ejected and fallen into the bundles or nearby.
True, the victim, Mr. Gut-Shot Bautista, was only hit three times, but the brush and tree limbs around him had been shot up pretty good, and the detectives had pictures to show the hail of gunfire through the shattered branches. Medical marijuana may be good for lots of ailments but no one has used it to stop bullets.
So they were bad shots. The autopsy reports suggested that the third and final shot on the dead man came from close range, fired downward, after the guys who said they were shooting in the air had obviously run the wounded man to ground and finished him off.
One man dead, one man left for dead.
The thieves seem to have concluded that their easy money plan to rip off a trespass grow — major crooks ripping off minor crooks — had failed. Seems that the robbers panicked and abandoned the bundles of marijuana plants, with their ragged and frayed stems they'd worked so hard to break loose and bundle up.
As part of the evidence against the Cloverdale gang, Deputy DA Paul Sequiera put on a DVD walk-thru of the crime scene.
It began as a leisurely stroll through an oak woodland with its buck-brush, manzanita, French broom, dry and dusty, deadfall here and there under the oak trees. The trail ambled through a camp with a tarp strung up over a hammock, a scatter of canned goods, plastic food packaging, items of clothing left to rot — not a Boy Scout camp, by any stretch of the standards of tidiness. The trail crossed a hillside, descended and ascended again. The guy carrying the video camera was huffing and puffing when us courtroom viewers arrived at the spot where the dead man was found. Then the trail dropped down to the guerrilla grow. Some small plants were still in the ground, and the places where the larger ones had been ripped off were obviously the scene of a struggle with the stubborn plant’s fibrous stalks.
The abandoned bundles of pot, had been tied with cheap quarter-inch nylon rope. Not very professional, to put it kindly, and again, nobody among the three bandidos had thought to carry a pocket knife to cut the rope whose ends trailed in a tangle behind the bundles. A knife had been found, bloodied and abandoned it seemed, after it proved inadequate to the job of hacking through the stems of marijuana plants. A machete would have come in handy, but a knife was good for nothing but cutting the rope. After dulling the blade on a few plants, it was probably useless even for that.
Speaking of inadequate equipment, the computer playing the DVD in the courtroom broke down before we could finish the walk-thru. It kept stalling, making the narrative unintelligible. So the walk in the woods had to be canceled before it had ended in real time. That’s a great pity, because it’s too dangerous to go for a walk in the woods anywhere in Northern California any more — and for all we know that’s all the victim of this crime had been doing.
The first witness to take the stand was Deputy Sergio Chora who was dispatched not to where Gut-Shot Man lay but to cell tower on Geyser Road. Gut-Shot Man didn't know where he was. By using exigency pings from the cellphone, the cops finally got in the general area, and Deputy Chora, walking on Cooper Ranch Road, found Mr. Contreras “supine in the middle of the road.”
Sequiera: “How did you find him?”
Chora: “We parked at the end of Cooper Ranch Road and started walking around, yelling his name.”
Sequiera: “Was he responsive?”
Sequiera: “What did you do?”
Chora: “I notified dispatch that I had located him and requested medical personnel.”
Sequiera: “Did you ask him what happened?”
Chora: “Yes. He said he’d been shot by someone he didn’t know.”
Sequiera: “Did he tell you why he was there?”
Chora: “He said he was there trimming marijuana. I tried to question him further but he was uncooperative. His cellphone was lying there and I asked if I could look at it. He said yes, so I did.”
Sequiera: “What did you find?”
Chora: “A text message.”
Sequiera: “What did it say?”
Chora: “It was in Spanish, addressed to someone called Chipparo, and it said I’m going to steal these plants.”
Sequiera: “Was the text message incoming or outgoing?”
Chora: “I believe it was outgoing.”
Looked at from outside, I would say four guys from Cloverdale went out to steal dope and wound up in a gun battle with the garden's proprietor who was shot and killed. Gut-Shot might have been shot by one of his fellow thieves because the dead man's gun had not been fired.
I'm just speculating here. The facts are, as they say, in dispute.
It took about two hours from the first call from Gut-Shot Contreras, at 7:20am until he was found at 9:30am and by then he was weak from loss of blood and in considerable pain. But by 10:00 the paramedics had stabilized him and he was hauled off to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.
On cross-examination, Deputy Chora was asked to check his report as to whether the text message on the cell phone was incoming or outgoing — it was, in fact, incoming. So, was Edgar actually Chipparo? Not by the looks of him. When they marched the three prisoners in, it was easy to see that Godinez-Gonzalez had drawn the moniker “Shorty.” Unless it was intended ironically, which would mean the guy was unusually tall. No-no, Edgar Contreras and Isidro Lopez-Bernal were average height, Mario Godinez-Gonzalez was the short one.
Next up was Cholita, aka Ms. Rodriquez, but first she had to be assigned a lawyer to make sure she didn’t incriminate herself. Al Kubanis was across the street at Schat’s Bakery eating donuts and practicing his free-throw shots with balled-up napkins when he was recruited to represent the charming Cholita. After lengthy consultations — Mr. Kubanis said he had yet to read what the lawyers call “the murder book,” the case file in legal parlance — so Cholita's testimony was put on hold after she'd already made it clear she was a co-conspirator.
In the meantime Detective Wyant testified. He and Espinoza had taken over from Deputy Chora, and we’ll get back to that. Let’s skip ahead to keep the action in chronological order, rather than the makeshift schedule of the court.
When Blanca 'Cholita' Rodriquez took the stand she said she was hoping to borrow Mario’s (Godinez-Gonzalez) truck so she could take her recyclables in, and also she wanted to shop for some furnishings. She had her eye on a carpet and needed a truck to haul it home.
Sequiera: “What time did Mario call you?
Cholita: “It must have been soon after 1:00 in the morning. I was asleep, but if I wanted to use the truck I had to go with him then and drop him off.”
Sequiera: “Was anyone with him when he came to pick you up?”
Cholita: “Yes, it was somebody I’d seen at the fair, but didn’t know. Mario called him Del Diablo.” (Literally, ‘of the devil’ but, as one interpreter explained it, the idiom is less ecclesiastical than that, and more readily understood as a charmingly unrepentant fellow, what Californians fondly call a Bad Boy.)
It was Edgar Contraras, and the witness pointed him out, sitting with his lawyer, Jona Saxby.
Sequiera: “Where did you go?”
Cholita: “First to the Quick Stop, then back to Mario’s place to pick up another guy, somebody they called El Negro [in Spanish it means black.
It was Isidro Bernal-Lopez, seated next to his lawyer, Walter Rubenstein.
This gang of crooks each got a state-paid lawyer.
Sequiera: “And just for the record, can you point out Mario for me, Blanca?”
Cholita pointed to Mr. Godinez-Gonzalez who was seated with his lawyer — The Dumptruck herself, Public Defender Linda Thompson.
Adios Godinez-Gonzalez. You might as well drive yourself to state prison. You'll get there faster.
Prosecutor Sequiera: “Where did you go from the Quick Stop?”
Cholita: “Out to Highway 128. Mario was driving really fast. There was a white truck in front of us and I had to close my eyes when he decided to pass it.”
Sequiera: “So you were kinda nervous. Did you know where they were going and what they were up to — did anybody say anything to you about it?”
Cholita: “No, nothing. They were playing the music really loud, and driving like crazy.”
Sequiera: “Where did you go?”
Cholita: “It was dark, I couldn’t tell where, but Mario pulled off on a dirt road and him and Diablo got out, to pee, they said. Then they got back in and we went back the other way and pulled over again. This time they all got out, and I got in the driver’s seat.”
Sequiera: “Did you see where the men went?”
Cholita: “I was busy adjusting the seat and the mirror, then Mario slapped the fender and said, Go home!”
Sequiera: “How long did it take you to drive home?”
Cholita: “I don’t really know. I was going so slow and still I had to brake for a big pig once, then for a deer. I don’t know…”
Sequiera: “When did you next hear from them?”
Cholita: “Mario’s brother — his sister-in-law, I mean — she called me and asked where he was. His brother Juan had told her two people were missing and one was injured. Then I got a call from Isidro to go and pick him up at Cherry Creek in Cloverdale.”
Sequiera: “Where did you take Mr. Lopez-Bernal?”
Cholita: “To some trailers by the freeway.”
Sequiera: “You picked up Mario as well?”
Cholita: “Yes, later, at the Hamburger Ranch on Highway 128. I was scared, but he let me use his truck, so I picked him up and took him home.”
Sequiera: “Did you ever get to use the truck for yourself?”
Sequiera: “Nothing further.”
* * *
Mario Godinez-Gonzalez was in his bed with his girlfriend when the detectives came through his open bedroom window, weapons drawn, and dragged him out buck naked to cuff him and place him under arrest for murder one. They found Mario, then Isidro, using the exigency pings off their smart phones. The cops had the three bandidos, assuming Gut-Shot wasn't the fourth, wrapped up before noon.
Detectives Wyant and Espinoza took the stand to deliver the evolving testimonies of the three desperados. Each thief pointed the Finger of Guilt at each other. Edgar said it was Isidro who gut-shot him because he dropped his bundle of weed, and threw his rifle away, and ran after firing one shot in the air. Funny thing, though. It was a rifle bullet that went through the vic’s thigh, and the other two gunslingers had pistols. In another version, Edgar said Mario took his pistol away and gave him the rifle.
One of these hombres made the kill shot, and when the state DOJ sends back the ballistics we’ll know who was the cold-blooded one. But under California law, it doesn’t really matter. As Capt. Gus McCall said in Lonesome Dove — and Assistant DA Paul Sequiera is fond of paraphrasing — “if you ride with a killer, you hang with a killer.”
They were all held to answer on Murder One in the commission of a robbery.
LOCATIONS FOR BEES WANTED TO RENT:
Cash + swag 40 to eighty hives per location optional: willing to bend to prevailing political lilt.
(ED NOTE: We know Mr. Kalfsbeek. And we can say positively that when he says “swag,” he means some serious first class organic produce — and other excellent goodies.)
THE NIGHT THE REF TOOK OVER
Mendo hoop challenged by AV coach - what say you ? (McCarthy)
Many people have sent me the writings by Coach Espinoza. Some from the AVA, some from MSP. I don’t read the AVA online, or Facebook, and many including Paul have asked me to respond.
Seeing both of you take such pride in accuracy, I thought I’d clarify:
A game should never be ended by an official with any time left on the clock. I suggested that to AV Athletic Director Pinoli and Coach E. after the game. Pinoli told me he would speak to the refs about it.
As far as the rest of Coach E’s coverage, I agree with most of it and add the following:
Not just AV players but both teams, in my opinion, played well, played hard, and were good sports.
In any one-point decided game, it is easy to say a foul should or shouldn’t have been called or the clock should have run out sooner.
Many foul shots and layups were missed and made by both teams. It always seems like more when you lose by 1.
In the end, or to be accurate after 59 mins. and 59.8 seconds, Mendocino was ahead by one point. As close to a tie as you can get. The Mendocino crowd was as Coach E. suggested 'jubilantly' expressing their team’s win. I have seen many AV crowds doing just the same over the years after a close victory, and never took it as a bad thing. The crowds, I believe, were equally loud which is rare when a team is on the road. When I looked around the gym I saw as many Mendo as AV people. (Paul McCarthy may have pictures.) That was rare in that gym.
Lastly, the suggestion (challenge) by Coach E. to play the game over seemed silly to me. We play them twice a year in league and sometimes in tournaments. Over the last 3 years since Coach E. has been there, we have played them 8 times. They have won four and we have won four. This year we have played them twice. Mendo won the first by 13 points, and the second by one point. Many of the games have been very close over the 3 years. If we played all the close ones over, it would never end.
It’s fun and it will continue.
He writes in his article: “Let's do it again and see what happens. What do you have to lose?” The only thing I would have to lose is another basketball game. If that bothered me I would have quit the sport 51 years ago when I was 12. We will play AV again next year (maybe in playoffs this year). I look forward to playing against Coach E. and the AV boys next year. It has been fun for me the last 3 years with Coach E, just as it has been with the 4 coaches (maybe 5) I have I’ve had the honor to play against at AV before him.
GYPSY JAZZ SWING PARTY AT LAUREN’S!
The Hot Club of Comptche — with Tom Brown on Violin/Cello, Ashley Harvie Vocals, Boonville’s own Pilar Duran on lead guitar, Navarro’s Kirk Vodopals on rhythm guitar and Nick Schwartz on bass — will perform at Lauren’s Restaurant in Boonville on Saturday, February 11, 2017 at a “pre-Valentine Full Moon Dance” starting at 9pm.
DID MENDOCINO VOTERS FAIL TO PASS CANNABIS TAX REGULATIONS?
The Most Recent Draft Of The Complaint.
by Lawrence Rosen
3001 King Ranch Rd., Ukiah, CA 95482
Complaint for Declaratory Relief
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “That poor old guy at the Shelter looking for a new home? I hope someone takes him in. The Shelter is no place for a senior.”
INDIANS VS. CALTRANS: Caltrans. has been trying to get a suit tossed that was brought by Mendo tribes alleging that Big Orange surreptitiously and deliberately destroyed archeological Native American heritage sites at the north end of the Willits Bypass.
COYOTE VALLEY'S tribal chair, Michael Hunter's press release spells out the tribe's beef with CalTrans: “As our complaint alleges, on September 12, 2013, in the dead of night, Caltrans’s bulldozers destroyed one of our sacred sites in Little Lake Valley without tribal monitors notified or present. The National Advisory Council on Historic Preservation referenced the destruction of this ancient village as a ‘major violation of federal law’.”
CALTRANS has tried to get the tribes' suit thrown out, but this week, Justice White of the US District Court in Oakland, in a complicated decision, has allowed parts of the tribes' claim to proceed. It's in federal court again in two weeks.
FORT BRAGG READER COMMENTS:
There are three kinds of homeless, those that lost their jobs or had an event outside of their control, there's the "lifestyle" homeless, and then there's everyone else (drug addicts, mental issues, etc...). If it were up to me, the only group that'd get anything in government assistance is group 1. That group deserves all the help they can get to get back on their feet. The other two groups, put them on a ship, send it 100 miles off the coast and sink it. This region has had enough of this crap both figuratively and literally. It's time to stand up to the homeless industrial complex.
Ellen Rosser wrote:
“Dear Peri, You mean you don't have any potassium iodide tablets to take if the Fukishima radiation hits us hard? I've had mine for a long time. Potassium iodide helps protect the thyroid from radiation and thus helps prevent cancer of the thyroid. Google it to find out more. Peace and blessings, Ellen"
* * *
Marco McClean Replies:
Secondary radiation from cosmic rays are a massively greater health danger to you than the wrecked reactor at Fukushima. Medical supply companies sell lead-lined vests and other products you can re-purpose to protect yourself from the pain of space, though they can't do much about the atomic radiation that comes naturally from your own skeleton. Potassium iodide pills don't cut it in either regard. Also, radioactive potassium isotopes (and plain stable iodine) in pill quantities is infinitely more toxic that mercury in mercury-free vaccine quantities and glyphosate in a lifetime of breakfast, lunch and dinner quantities. But -- I just looked up lead clothing to find a shopping link for you, and the first search result tells that there's already toxic lead in your clothing*. And there's vegan clothing for sale, too. How far down the rabbit hole do you want to go, Ellen?
To paraphrase Dorothy Parker, you might as well live.
STREET CRIME COMES TO WESTSIDE UKIAH
(City of Ukiah Police Department Press Release)
Two late reported assaults / property stolen
Ukiah Police Department case # 17-0278 and 17-0280
On January 28th at about 8:12 am, a UPD officer was dispatched to Ukiah Valley Medical Center, for an assault victim. Upon arrival the officer contacted the adult female victim in the emergency room, who was being treated for minor injuries. The victim reported that the day prior on January 27th at about 9:30 pm, she was walking in the area of McPeak and Jones Street, when she heard yelling behind her. The victim looked back and noticed three White male adults walking towards her at a fast pace. The victim began to walk faster, when she was grabbed by the hair and thrown to the ground. Once on the ground she was physically assaulted, while the suspects yelled slurs at her. The victim fought back and was able to pull one of the male suspects to the ground. The victim got up and ran to her residence, located several blocks away. During the assault, the victim said the one of the suspects took her wallet and a hat that she had been wearing. The victim was able to provide a limited description of the suspects, but said the three were all White male adults in the early 20’s. One male was blonde, wearing a black hoodie with a “Nor Cal” imprint and wearing blue jeans. The second male adult had blonde hair, wearing a green shirt and blue jeans. The third suspect was wearing a long sleeve grey shirt and blue jeans. She had also noticed one of the suspects was wearing a pair of black and white “Vans” brand shoes. 17-0278
On January 28th at about 12:00 pm, a UPD officer responded to the lobby of the Police Station, to contact an adult male, who wished to report an assault. The male victim reported that on January 27th at about 7 pm, he was standing on the sidewalk near the Pomolita soccer field, in the 500 block of Cypress Avenue. While waiting for a friend to arrive the victim was looking at his phone, when he was punched from behind in the back of the head. The victim said that 3 male suspects began attacking him, punching and kicking him. The victim fought back and as he did, one of the suspects brandished a black semiautomatic handgun, while making statements about a gang. A passerby or possible neighbor in the area yelled at them to stop or he would call the police. The 3 suspects all fled the area on foot, taking a bag belonging to the victim. The victim was able to provide a limited description of the suspect, but said all three were possibly “Younger” aged males. One suspect was possibly Hispanic and was wearing a black hooded Nike sweatshirt. Another subject was possibly African American, wearing a lime colored hooded sweatshirt. The victim received minor injuries from the assault. 17-0280
UPD Detectives were notified and have been working the two cases. If anyone has information on either of these cases please contact Detective Sergeant Crook at the Ukiah Police Department, 707-463-6262.
CATCH OF THE DAY, February 2, 2017
Banks, Bradford, Giumelli, Hire
LEVI BANKS, Lakeport/Ukiah. Petty theft.
JOSHUA BRADFORD, Ukiah. Drunk in public.
ERICK GIUMELLI, Redwood Valley. Battery with serious injury, probation revocation.
JAY HIRE, Ukiah. Domestic battery.
Magana, Passmore, Powell, Secondi
CARLOS MAGANA, Ukiah. Petty theft, vehicle tampering, loitering, contributing to delinquency of minor.
WILLIAM PASSMORE, Ukiah. Stun gun, ex-felon with firearm, large capacity magazine.
LACEY POWELL, Redwood Valley. Failure to appear.
RYAN SECONDI, Rupert, Idaho/Ukiah. Billy club (or similar), concealed weapon.
A READER RECOMMENDS:
"The God of Small Things" is a novel by Arundhati Roy. It was written in 1997 but I just got around to reading it last week. I am very glad I did. Her writing style, and subject matter, greatly reminded me of William Faulkner's early masterpieces "The Sound and the Fury" and "As I Lay Dying." If you liked either of those novels, I recommend you give Roy's book a try.
What we are experiencing right now is a GOP blitzkrieg, concocted by Jim DeMint's Heritage Foundation and Paul Ryan and fronted by Trump. That all the cuts and executive orders are coming fast, intense and extreme is not a surprise. It is smart strategy on the GOP's part.
It seems impossible to counter all this stuff, while trying to tank Trump's nominations as well as engaging in perhaps-not-so-wise-right-now-as-it-can-wait campaigns like investigating Trump's taxes and foolhardy-pie-in-the-sky things like impeachment.
You aren't imagining anything: It is impossible to stop all of it. There are going to be losses, we knew that. Now they are coming. Hang in there.
Step back and look at what they are going after. Cutting the budgets of the NEA and NEH, muzzling the EPA, USDA, and Park Service, etc. are all relatively minor attacks. These attacks are aimed at our hearts. Trump and GOP don't care about these agencies. They want to demoralize us. They want us to feel defeat after defeat as soon as possible. They want us to get fatigued and give up. If you care about this country, if you are in for the long haul, you absolutely must let these defeats go. Yes, you can care. Yes, you can get angry. But don't rest on the anger. Try to use it for energy, for motivation, but that is all. Make a note of it - we will rebuild - and let it go.
There are much bigger things on the GOP's agenda - getting rid of Medicare, Social Security, stripping down government to everything but defense and police functions, and selling off whatever is public. They also want to put as much in the way between us and our rights, including voting rights, as possible. These are the things to watch and fight. While we were fretting about cabinet appointments before inauguration, Congress devalued public lands. That is the first step to selling them off and allowing mining in National Parks. Selling off what is public to corporations and the mega-wealthy is what really matters to them.
Please note that I am not saying that the NEA and NEH or muzzling public agencies does not matter. It does and we must make noise about it, but we also must look at what the GOP's fundamental goals are, realize the motives behind what they are doing, act on what we have the power to change, and be mindful of how we act and react. These people are not acting willy-nilly. As flaky and screwed-up as Trump is/seems, the people behind him are not. They are rational,.... professional.... tacticians.
They know how to kill our spirit. They are trying to destroy our resistance by creating frustration and despair, and letting that do the job. Know that. Drill that into your brain. Come back to this when you are feeling defeated. This insight in one of the most important things to know.
Cut and paste. Feel free to share.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
As someone who has gone through the US immigration system to the point of permanent residency, I feel qualified to remark on this topic.
When you discuss last week’s executive order and mix into the discussion the overall question of immigration policy, it’s easy to miss the mark and to create false equivalencies.
For starters, I agree that the US should enforce its immigration laws. If the situation on the ground is broken, then measures should be taken to fix the laws. In the past, Republicans were in favor of this until their boogie man Obama took power. Now, there is no hope for sensible immigration reform.
This has little to do with the current crisis. The US issued refugee status to people after extreme vetting, and this includes many who worked with our intelligence and military services abroad. Revoking their entry rights, removes an important tool from our arsenal and gives our enemies sustenance. Nobody will want to work with us if we can’t keep our promises.
Trump is a dangerous and reckless buffoon who should be impeached and removed from office. This should be done only through a legal and democratic process. This won’t happen soon, because the Republican leadership lacks backbone. But it’ll eventually happen, after a lot of damage is done to our economy, national security and standing abroad.
YIANNOPOULOS DEMO JUSTIFIED
University of California, Berkeley Statement on Free Speech was violated by the University of California 2/1/17
UC Berkeley granted Milo Yiannopoulos the right to speak at MLK Student Union at 5pm on February 1, 2017.
Milo is an editor for Breitbart which is an anti-Semitic, racist, white supremacist website. Milo has voiced disdain for human rights. He has supported vicious nationalism, xenophobia and misogyny.
His invitation was a direct violation of UC Berkeley Statement of Free Speech, Code of Conduct 102.09: Sexual, Racial and other forms of Harassment.
The students were correct to demonstrate and we must support them.
Dr. Nayvin Gordon
LOOMING PUBLIC PENSION CRISIS
"The economic consequences of immigration and globalization seem be to what animated voters last November, especially in the Midwest. But the cost of bailing out the country’s pension mess, created by a decades’ old alliance between Democratic politicians and public-union bosses, may soon impact every voter without a government job."
RESISTANCE AT SUPERBOWL LI
by Dave Zirin
The New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons are heading to Houston this Sunday for Super Bowl LI, which is shaping up to be a remarkable collision of politics and play.
Over the last week Houston has been transformed by protests against Trump. In addition to its barbecue and the Space Center, Houston is known globally for being a sanctuary for refugees from all over the world. No city in the United States is more welcoming, more open, and more willing to take in those fleeing war and famine. This is a city that earns its nickname, “The Big Heart,” every day. As the Houston Chronicle wrote, “Harris County alone welcomes about 30 of every 1,000 refugees that the UN resettles anywhere in the world — more than any other American city, and more than most other nations. If Houston were a country, it would rank fourth in the world for refugee resettlement.”
This explains why the protests against Trump’s #NoMuslimBan have been so fierce in H-Town, with hundreds of people packing George Bush Intercontinental Airport last Sunday. So many came to Terminal E to demonstrate that police had to shut the doors to non–ticket holders, who chanted and rallied outside. Earlier that day at Discovery Green, site of the nine-day Super Bowl Festival in downtown Houston, more than 1,000 people turned out to protest. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen the city as galvanized as this,” Houston resident Bev Caplan said to the Chronicle. This city of immigrants — 20 percent of Houston was born outside the United States — will use the Super Bowl spotlight to stand up to Trump, with protests set to continue throughout the weekend.
The Nation spoke with Houston Stands With Standing Rock organizer Carlos Martinez who said, “We have two main events. On Saturday is our Houston Stands vs. Trump March from Houston City Hall to NFL Experience at Discovery Green and Sunday we will be at the gates making our presence felt and heard while we fly a banner in the air over the city and stadium…. We are here to stop Trumpism and show that Houston stands with Standing Rock, immigrants, women, black lives, Mexicans, Muslims, and the planet during Super Bowl LI.”
The city is also galvanized by the fact that a 16-year-old who attends Katy High School, just 30 minutes from Houston, has been detained all week, upon returning home from visiting his family in Jordan. Mohammad Abu Khadra was sent from Houston’s airport to a detention center in Chicago, with no access to his cell phone. His brother Rami said, “He was very afraid. Before I saw him, he was on a flight for 15 or 16 hours, then was at the airport for 72 hours. He was very tired and frustrated. When he took the flight to Chicago, he called me, but he doesn’t know anything. He doesn’t know what’s going on.”
While the city of Houston attempts to protect their own, the Super Bowl includes a New England Patriots team whose owner, Bob Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick, and quarterback Tom Brady all have close ties to Trump. Brady, who is coy about his friendship with Trump — while Trump brags about it constantly — was asked on Super Bowl Media Day about “all that was happening in the world.” He replied, “I haven’t paid much attention to what’s going on. I’m just a positive person. I just want the best for everybody.”
Not everyone on the Patriots is so sanguine about Trump. Tight End Martellus Bennett, one of the NFL players raising their fists during the national anthem this year, was asked if he would visit the White House if the Patriots won, and responded, “Most likely not, because I don’t support the person in it.” Bennett has also tweeted against the Muslim ban. A Patriots White House visit might end up just being Kraft, Belichick, Brady, and Trump playing a foursome of croquet on the White House lawn, just being positive people together.
Then there’s the Atlanta Falcons. In addition to fielding one of the most prominent Muslim athletes in the NFL — wide receiver Mohamed Sanu — they are a team whose victory parade would pass through the district of Congressman John Lewis, whose district was maligned by Trump in an unhinged tweet storm after the civil-rights veteran said that he believed Trump’s presidency to be “illegitimate.” Trump tweeted, “Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results.” None of these descriptions of Lewis’s district are accurate, but Trump must have put “black Congressman” and “Atlanta” together in his brain and came up with “crime infested” because, well, he’s Donald Trump.
Lastly, this Super Bowl will feature a halftime show with the never shy, often controversial Lady Gaga. There are already prop bets in Vegas of how political Gaga is going to get. Entertainment Weekly quoted “an insider” who said Gaga is “not even interested” in commenting on President Trump during her performance. If Gaga is silent, that would be more surprising than a Falcons blowout victory. One wonders if this “insider” is named Sean Spicer.
Whether or not Atlanta wins — and the odds are certainly stacked against them — this will be a Super Bowl with political action outside the stadium and political symbolism all over the field. But all around the Super Bowl “green zone” of security, there will be the city of Houston: H-Town, Clutch City, The Big Heart. This is a city that will fight to make sure we remember those who just because of their religion or country of origin, find themselves in a detention center, with no access to an attorney, let alone the big game.
(Thank you to Navin Kumar and The Nation’s Brandon Jordan for their assistance with this piece. Dave Zirin can be reached at email@example.com.)
POVERTY STINKS, STOP-GAPS OR NOT
I was a maintenance supervisor as part of a low income property management team. And I can tell you from experience that low income housing has become a de facto psychiatric ward, rehab center, retirement home and hospice all rolled into one. I was raised to judge a society based on how they treat the least among them, and Palms Inn — http://www.bohemian.com/northbay/off-the-streets/Content?oid=3091697 — serves as further evidence of barbarism. It simply bridges the gap between official policy and grim reality. Pover does indeed have an odor: it smells like sulfur and putrescine.
SUNDAY AFTERNOON WITH SANDRA KEARNEY
Kelley House Museum
February 12, 2017
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
$5.00 Members; $7 Public
Sandra Kearney will discuss the Noyo Women's Rowing Crew and what contemporary women on the Mendocino Coast do for fun and recreation. This talk is in conjunction with the Kelley House Museum's new exhibit, "Fun and Games: Mendocino at Play," running now through March 27.
45007 Albion Street, Mendocino, 937-5791 or firstname.lastname@example.org
DAN FRANKLIN DOES UKIAH
On Friday, February 10th, Ukiah native turned Los Angeles entertainer Dan Franklin will be performing a benefit concert with his world class band to support the vocal music department at Ukiah. The music department is in dire need of funding to create opportunities the students would never have otherwise. In Dan’s words, “The performing arts at Ukiah High School found me at a very uncertain time in my life when things could have gone a lot of bad directions. Music and performance gave me something to strive for that has opened doors I never would have dreamed of and helped me to share that light with people I’ve never encountered. To know that same music department is in financial hardship which could potentially be stealing these opportunities from other students like me is just unacceptable.” Please join Dan, his band, and the High School Choirs for an evening a wonderful music and solidarity for arts in our schools.
Performance will be at the Ukiah High School Cafetorium. Doors open at 6:30pm. Tickets are on-sale at the Mendocino Book Company, DIG Music, and the UHS Box Office and are Students: $5, General: $10 and Preferred Seating: $15.
Dan Franklin is a Ukiah native burning up the Los Angeles music scene. As a multi-instrumental singer songwriter, he's played every stage from Disneyland to Nashville's Grand Ole Opry. He’s performed with Slash, Leann Rimes and produced dozens records, both his own and for other artists including Pretty Little Liars star Sasha Pieterse. After recording his 2015 album 'The Best Ride of Your Life' at London's world famous Abbey Road studio, he's also filmed a documentary about songwriting and released three music videos.
Dan's world class touring band consists of keyboard player Patrick Copeland (Snoop Dogg/Garth Brooks), drummer Keynon McBurney (Phil Wickham/Corrin Campbell), and bass player Mike Hill (Tom Cochrane/James Burton) who all played together as part of Disneyland's Mad T Party Band.
CA CONTROLLER SLAMS WEST SIDE WATER DISTRICT FOR 'SHOCKING' SPENDING PRACTICES
by Dan Bacher
An irrigation district on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley possibly broke state and federal laws by providing its employees with interest-free loans, free housing, the use of vehicles to commute to and from work, and credit cards used to buy tickets for professional sports games and concerts, according to the State Controller’s Office.
Credit card purchases by employees included season tickets to the Oakland A’s and Oakland Raiders, Katy Perry concert tickets, and retail goods from Ralph Lauren, Nike, and Sunglass Hut.
On January 31, State Controller Betty T. Yee announced that her team’s detailed review of the Panoche Water District’s administrative and accounting controls found “prevalent and severe deficiencies, with 76 percent of internal control elements deemed inadequate.”
“The district’s egregious lack of spending oversight is shocking,” said Controller Yee, the state’s chief fiscal officer, in a news release. “It is especially troubling in a region where effective water governance is so vital for the agricultural community. I am looking into what options are available to ensure small entities like Panoche Water District are kept accountable.”
Yee’s Office is referring the report to state Attorney General’s Office to consider further action, including whether or not to file criminal charges. Yee is also considering referring the report to the IRS and Franchise Tax Board, for possible tax law violations, according to Taryn Kinney, Controller’s Office spokesperson.
Controller Yee announced in June 2016 that her team would review the water district’s finances over two fiscal years (FY 2013-14 and FY 2014-15).
The Panoche Water District, spanning 38,000 acres in the Central Valley, delivers water to western Merced and Fresno counties. The District receives exported Delta water from the federal Central Valley Project via the Delta Mendota Canal and the San Luis Canal. Crops found in the District include almonds, pistachios, tomatoes, cotton, wheat, asparagus and alfalfa.
The district is overseen by a five-member board of directors composed of landowners. “Though funded by a customer water service charge and not state or county taxes, the district has received state loan and grant money,” Yee’s Office noted.
Among the State Controller’s most significant findings, as outlined in the news release:
“Without legal authority, the district gave more than $86,000 in interest-free loans to employees. “One employee received a $30,143 loan for personal bills and set up a payment plan of $50 per biweekly pay period, which would take more than 23 years to pay back. In some cases, the district increased employees’ salaries to match loan payments, did not timely collect loan payments, and processed loans through payroll as compensation. Based on piecemeal district records, it is unclear if these personal loans were reported to the IRS as taxable income.”
As part of the “fringe benefits” package, the district provided free housing for six employees with no documentation justifying the need for it. “The General Manager had authorized himself to live in district-furnished housing since 1992. The district did not consider the free housing compensation and therefore did not subject the value to payroll taxes.”
Without policies and procedures for use, the district provided approximately 50 vehicles that employees, including administrative staff, drove to commute from home on a daily basis.
In addition to wages, the district provided an average of $57,600 per year to employees in rent checks without supporting documentation. One employee lived in a district-provided home while also receiving additional utility payments.
District management permitted employees to use district credit cards for personal use, paying for more than $37,000 in personal spending from FY 2013-14 to FY 2014-15. Employee purchases included season tickets to the Oakland A’s and Oakland Raiders, Katy Perry concert tickets, and retail goods from Ralph Lauren, Nike, and Sunglass Hut. Reimbursement collection procedures were so lax that one employee did not repay personal expenses for nearly three years. Due to woefully inadequate controls, it is highly likely that personal charges were paid for with district funds.
In total, 59 of 78 internal control elements were inadequate. The district lacked written policies, ignored administrative procedures, and potentially violated state law.”
The district documented corrective actions it has taken or plans to take in response to the Controller’s review, available here. The district is slated to give a progress report to the Controller’s Office on March 1 to update the actions they have take so far, said Kinney.
Delta advocates are appalled, but not surprised, by the State Controller’s report on Panoche’s lack of spending oversight.
“The Panoche District is part of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta (RTD). “Consequently, the findings of this report are not surprising. These water districts use taxpayer water and infrastructure for personal gain. So now the Delta is not only being sacrificed for almonds, but for Katy Perry tickets also.”
On March 10, 2016, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged the Westlands Water District, California’s largest agricultural water district and another member of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, with “misleading investors about its financial condition as it issued a $77 million bond offering.”
In addition to charging the district, the SEC also charged its general manager Thomas Birmingham and former assistant general manager Louie David Ciapponi with misleading investors about its financial condition.
“Birmingham jokingly referred to these transactions as ‘a little Enron accounting’ when describing them to the board of directors, which is comprised of Westlands customers,” the SEC reported.
The Water Authority and Westlands are well-known for their attacks on state and federal laws protecting fish and the environment. Westlands sued the federal government during recent summers in unsuccessful attempts to stop supplemental releases from Trinity Reservoir to prevent a massive fish kill on the lower Klamath River, prompting protests by members of the Hoopa Valley, Yurok, Karuk, Winnemen Wintu and other Tribes in 2013 and 2014 against Westlands’ litigation.
Several audits and reviews since Controller Yee took office have shown a lack of internal controls especially in smaller cities and government entities. Controller Yee and her audit team have identified more than $3 billion in misuse, waste, and fraud involving public funds since January 2015. The State Controller’s audits and reviews of local governments can be accessed here.
WE'RE TAKING OVER
Sitting in my rented room in San Francisco, surrounded by warrior images of Shiva, Sri Vinayagar (Ganesh), and of course the Goddess, I am struck most strangely by the news stories coming out of Washington D.C. in regard to the Donald Trump presidential fantasy. Aside from the fact that it is impossible to return to the 19th century to "Make America Great Again", the placement of a thick veneer of alt. right ideology on to the Federal Government will only make progress in the direction of environmental balance and social harmony that much more unnecessarily difficult. Whatever happened to self-realization, being sane, and sharing? The tantric way, and its deities whose images fill my room, is all about no-compromise. Believe me, the Indian based Sanatana Dharma does not even comprehend compromise. It's all about vanquishing demons and victory. Reread the Mahabharata if you haven't recently, or the Ramayana epic. The idea of compromise doesn't appear, because it would be ridiculous. And it is no less ridiculous in the contemporary battle for the planet earth, and for a spiritual civilization. Participants in what is nowadays identified as "radical environmentalism" and "peace and justice" need to realize this: THERE CAN BE NO COMPROMISE WITH THE MATERIALISTICALLY INSANE! For now, just chillin' in the city of mirrors, not interfering with the body-mind complex being utilized for a higher purpose, and enjoying the tradition of Shaivite tantrism. What's up, y'all?