Off the Record
by AVA News Service, May 19, 2010
THE HEADLINE in Monday's Ukiah paper read: “Grand Jury: Juvenile Hall Repeaters A Problem.” Of course kids who start getting arrested when they're twelve or so tend to go on getting arrested until they're fifty and get too tired to do crime. Young criminals grow into adult criminals. Nobody, except communists, knows what to do about juvenile crime, which of course is caused by economic arrangements which cause millions of young people to grow up in psychotic circumstances. (The people who just looted the country and got away with it were not raised in poverty, again making it clear that the most successful crooks in America are the sanctioned ones. The non-sanctioned ones go to jail.) But even given the growing incidence of poverty, only a small percentage of young people engage in criminal conduct. Repeat adult offenders are much more of a problem, as Sheriff Allman can tell you with each week's adult haul at the Mendocino County Jail heavy on frequent fliers. The frequent fliers are drug and alcohol dependent persons who live on the street. By our count there are about a hundred of them, mostly men, a few women. They're constantly in and out of the system at great cost to taxpayers. Up until the early 1950s, the County operated a farm in the area of Low Gap Road where the County Jail is now. The drunks and incompetents were fast-tracked directly there. The jail was on top of the County Courthouse. Space, as proportionately limited then as it is now, was needed for people who'd done bad things, and were like to psycho-assault others if they weren't confined. Jail space couldn't be spared for people simply unable to function in modern society. They went out to the farm on Low Gap. I suggest the County supervisors revive the County Farm, and I suggest it be located at the still vacant Point Arena Air Force Station, an abandoned village high on the ridge above the fog belt, alpine-peaceful but remote from the temptations. The frequent fliers could garden and raise a few cows up there as they tamed their demons.
DANIEL KEVIN PIERCE and Trenton Ramos, both 18, were arrested a week ago Tuesday for the rape of a 16-year-old Ukiah girl. Pierce had been in lots of trouble as a juvenile, and in and out of juvenile hall. If you knew his whole history as a child you'd undoubtedly find a history of abuse and neglect going back to his infancy. As a kid, I'll bet society — a well paid Mendo-apparat of KZYX subscribers generally collected as “helping professionals” — took in well over a million tax dollars rehabbing Daniel Kevin Pierce, and here he is, their work product, a rapist. If Pierce is lucky he's got a grandmother who will come to see him in jail where he will spend much of his youth. The victim, also a delinquent, had snuck out of her house to meet Pierce and Ramos, meaning her parents or parent were at least trying to protect her from herself. As the three were “socializing,” the chaste term the cops and newspapers use to describe drop-fall drinking and promiscuous drug-taking, the girl said Pierce and Ramos assaulted her.
MENDOCINO COUNTY'S Chief Planner, Frank Lynch and Code Enforcement Officer John Heise, have both been fired for circulating pornography on their work computers. Lynch had worked for the County for 21 years, Heise, 7. They've been tentatively linked to four senior staffers in San Francisco's Planning and Building Department with whom they allegedly exchanged work-time image of the joyless salaciousness that seems to beguile so many millions of our fellow male citizens. Also fired for “inappropriate use of an office computer” during Mendocino County's porn purge two weeks ago was long-time deputy DA Dan McConnell.
ON FRIDAY, May 4th, the Board of Supervisors officially declared May 2010 as National Drug Court Month In Mendocino County. The fact free declaration might sound good to a shut-in or a person who has never seen the drug and drink ravaged portraits comprising the Sheriff's booking log photos. “Drug courts provide the focus and leadership for community-wide, anti-drug systems, bringing together criminal justice, treatment, child welfare, education, tribal affiliations, and other community partners in the fight against drug abuse, child abuse, and criminality.” They “combine intensive judicial supervision, mandatory substance abuse treatment, drug testing, escalating sanctions, and incentives to break the cycle of drug addiction that causes criminal behavior and has negative impacts on individuals, families, and communities.”
ALMOST TOTAL BULLSHIT as all abuse categories flow ever upward, but the proclamation's final claim defies all known reality: “Through their hard work and commitment, the judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, treatment and rehabilitation professionals, law enforcement and corrections personnel, child welfare professionals, researchers and educators, national leaders, community leaders, tribal leaders, and others in Mendocino County dedicated to this initiative have had a profound and positive impact on the lives of the individual participants, their families, and the general community.”
NAMES! I defy anyone to cite a single local, state or national figure who has had “a profound and positive impact” on the lives of the dope heads and juicers.
THE SUPE'S PRESENTATION of the windy proclamation was attended by the three attorneys paid to work in the program and two government-paid therapists, all of whom showed up to swap rehab fantasies. They said the program is absolutely boffo. When Supervisor McCowen asked one of the attorneys what their success rate was, the woman attorney replied that they didn’t have any data, adding, “Anecdotally, though, it's quite successful!” The two local therapists also sang unconvincing supper songs.
THAT’S NOT to say there haven’t been people helped by Drug Court. But the whole show has the slightly rancid smell of the “self-esteem” movement — glopping loads of Moonie-like superlatives and group huggsies among people doing what they're paid to do. The Supervisors, of course, can be depended on to heap praise on well-paid people simply going about their business. It's almost as if the whole country has become a giant Little League Banquet with trophies and proclamations for all.
SUPERVISOR Pinches added a little levity to the otherwise mundane County Lodging Association’s “report” for 2009. The Lodging Association reported not-as-bad as expected tourism/occupancy rates which, as they've said before, “not so bad” is the new “up.” After the 5-0 vote (yes, there was a formal vote to accept the innocuous report), Pinches, whose Third District doesn't get much in the way of upscale “lodging” business, declared, “I'm still lookin' for a motel in Laytonville. I'm gettin' impatient.” (Pssst! Johnny! They all moved to Willits.)
COUNTY CEO Carmel Angelo’s remarks about the next round of layoffs didn't get much attention. Supervisor Pinches asked when the new bad news was going to get to the Board, noting, as if it needed noting, “We're beyond not buying water and paper clips.” Angelo replied that her plan was to present a list of proposed cuts to the Board by department or program before bringing in the final-final layoff list. “We were hoping for more success in other cost cutting measures [i.e., salary and benefit cuts]. So layoffs are all that's left to us.”
COUNTY EMPLOYEES must be tired of taking pay cuts and demotions and workweek reductions and have told management that they might as well go ahead and do the layoffs even if it means that they or some of their fellow workers will be fired. Management’s position seems to be that line employees should sacrifice their pay and benefits for the greater good while management sails on, untouched. Supervisors Colfax and Smith become almost hysterical whenever it's suggested they whack their bloated salaries.
SUPERVISOR PINCHES told the Board that the Mendocino Transit Authority (MTA) was about to start a pilot program where they’d issue travel vouchers to people needing transportation. Qualified drivers could use their private vehicles to get their marooned friends and neighbors to stores and medical appointments under the authority of the MTA. Pinches sees it as a win-win situation for areas where there are not many MTA bus riders. “You wouldn’t need a bus,” explained Pinches. “Drivers would get an MTA voucher for giving people a ride. And two or three riders would be even better. It would avoid the need for expensive buses when there are only two or three people. The MTA will be starting the pilot program right away.” Pinches first brought up the voucher program back in 2008, but it’s only now getting to the “pilot program” stage.
IT WAS A PROLONGED process, but we finally got the complete roster of County residents who have concealed weapon's permits. 1,386 people — one out of every 50 Mendolanders. Permit holders include at least one dead man and an unconfined car bomber, Mike Sweeney, former cult communist, former husband of the late Judi Bari whose life he abbreviated with a pipe bomb. These days, Sweeney functions as Mendocino County's lead garbage bureaucrat, and is undoubtedly the only garbage bureaucrat on the Northcoast who feels the need to carry a gun. Armed and dangerous, for a fact.
REEL SHORT movie reviews, three of them: Harry Brown, a British film starring the always flawless Michael Caine, is being heavily criticized for the vigilantism it celebrates. At the Frisco matinee I attended, Harry Brown had a couple of hat-backwards dudes jumping gleefully out of their chairs as Caine, seeking vengeance for the murder of his chess partner and fellow geezer at the hands of a feral pack of droopy-drawered thugs, methodically hunts down the killers. The aesthetic prob with the thing is the thugs. They're so over-the-top-evil that Gandhi himself would want to personally finish them off. Ignorant of social conditions in England, I'd always assumed our thugs were the most repulsive in the world, but apparently the mother country's criminal element, inspired of course by ours as celebrated in internationally distributed song and screen, can also inspire a generally well-received movie whose hero goes outside of the law to get 'em done. An Australian movie called The Square is another highly praised ultra-vi job that's well-acted but only a few minutes in I was sitting there hoping that everyone in it, including the purported good guy, would kill each other so I could go home. The Australian mokes looked like our mokes who look like English mokes. Slob has apparently gone global. Coming Home is A nice movie filmed in Marin, a true story (lost in the narrative) about twin brothers, baseball players, whose lives are complicated by their alcoholic father. The brothers, one of whom played some professional baseball, are photogenic and smart enough to portray themselves. Ed Harris, is really, really good as Juicer Dad and worth the price of admission all by himself. The brothers, who wrote and raised the money for their movie, and dogged Harris until he agreed to star in it, look and move like athletes. Lots of sports movies are rendered totally implausible by featuring what jocks used to call “motor morons,” uncoordinated people who move like robots in their futile efforts to mimic athletes. There's a very good baseball movie out called Sugar about Latin ballplayers in the US whose star, a supposed pitcher, throws like a girl. Oops. Check that: Girls have learned to throw over the past twenty years. They now throw correctly. Like men. Oops again. Wait, Geraldine! Don't walk off in a sexist huff! Let me clarify. Dialogue with me here. Thanks to the women's movement and the accompanying growth of women's sports, young women, many thousands of them, now throw smoothly, efficiently, the way throws are supposed to be thrown. Only a few men throw like girls, and lots of them wind up in baseball movies. It's a constant irritant in a sports movie to have the star throwing the ball like he's in traction. And it's a constant irritant, and criminally condescending, in any movie to have an actor playing a retarded guy, and even worse when the script has the retarded guy saying stuff that's supposed to be charming but is sooooo calculated that it induces a kind of low-intensity nausea in the viewer. Coming Home is heavy on the “charming” retarded guy, but I liked it overall, and Ed Harris is wonderful as the lost soul of a father.
FROM THE “Never happen in Mendocino County” files: The National Marine Fisheries Services has fined a Healdsburg grape grower $115k for killing endangered salmon by drawing too much water from Felta Creek in Sonoma County over the 2008/2009 frost period. With his wife, Ruth, Eric Stadnick runs Green Pastures Valley Vineyard. Stadnick insisted last week that “We're very green people” and denied that his pumping was the cause of the fish-kill. (Stadnick is a “business instructor” at Santa Rosa Junior College.) The Stadnicks say they’ve drawn water legally from Felta Creek for frost protection of their 14-acre vineyard since the 1970s using “a small seasonal flashboard dam.” The feds at the National Marine Fisheries Service say they warned Stadnick that he was killing fish but he continued pumping anyway. The Stadnicks claim that the feds are ignoring the bigger growers who are doing most of the damage. The Stadnicks fish kill was discovered when downstream neighbors saw hundreds of fish flopping around in a nearly dry section of stream. By the time the feds got hold of the complaint they determined that the Stadnicks had heedlessly diverted a “substantial” amount of water which ended up killing some of the few remaining coho salmon in the Russian River watershed.
FIFTH DISTRICT Supervisor candidate Dan Hamburg came up with a novel, if brief, way to get marijuana into the commercial mainstream at the pot forum in Willits last week. “Marijuana should be a dietary supplement,” suggested Hamburg.
HAMBURG also put his finger on one of the key problems in enforcing John McCowen’s 25 plants per legal parcel limit. (The California Supreme Court recently muddied the pot cultivation legal waters by declaring quantity limits on medical marijuana unconstitutional. But McCowen convinced the two of his fellow Mendo County Supervisors to make growing more than 25 plants per parcel a de facto criminal “nuisance” which Sheriff Allman continues to cite as the only quantitative legal threshold.) But, as Hamburg pointed out, “once you've harvested it, it seems like law enforcement waits until after the harvest to arrest people who they think have too much.”
SUPERVISOR PINCHES ADDED, “Right now, if you cut it down and put all of that in your house you could be arrested,” because there are no rules about how much processed marijuana you can legally possess. “The idea of regulating marijuana on a per parcel basis is a bad idea,” said Pinches. “Transportation and possession limits are not clear.”
ANYONE who thinks there’s any fairness or consistency in any of this should try to get a permit for pot growing under Mendo’s new “cooperatives and collectives” rules. Supposedly, that law will become effective in June — it will be very interesting to see who actually applies for a collective/cooperative license and whether they actually get one.
WAVES & TUNES: Sister Yazzle-Dazzle will be “Groovin' On A Saturday Afternoon, May 29, 2010, from 1-5pm with Pizzas & Cream, presumably not one dish, on Port Road at the Point Arena Pier. “Enjoy,” Yazzle says, “sun, fun, good friends, community and delicious food and drink!” And a couple of hours of “delightful music from all styles DJ’d up for your listening pleasure.” For more information call the pier people 882-1900 or Yaz herself at 884-4703.
DA MEREDITH LINTOTT made an interesting claim at last week’s medical marijuana forum: “Often the medical marijuana defense doesn't come to light until the case is at prelim,” said Lintott. “Defense attorneys delay telling us that the defense is medical or a cooperative. So we don't know until they present it.”
DAVID EYSTER, Lintott’s opponent in the DA’s race replied, “That's why the system is broken. That [determining that there’s a medical defense] has to be done ahead of time. If a defense attorney doesn't present that, it's a problem. But if you have to convince the DA that a guy with an oxygen tank is not faking it, that's a problem too. Cases have to be checked out in advance. Ask Keith Faulder and Mark Kalina [both former prosecutors who now take marijuana defense cases because there’s plenty of them].”
DA LINTOTT said (again) that Eyster is “running as defense attorney who represents pot growers. I can't force defense attorneys to give it [the medical claims, to our office] earlier.”
AND EYSTER replied, “I’m proud to defend people’s individual rights. I have defended a lot of folks who were not guilty.”
BUT THAT begs the question of why it takes so long (if it does) for people to claim that their pot is medical.
DA LINTOTT also claimed at last week’s medical marijuana forum (and DA debate) that she has established a process for asset forfeiture money to be made available to local non-profits engaged in drug and drug crime prevention. But Lintott’s opponent for DA, Dave Eyster, said that transfer process, if there is one, it's pretty much invisible. We've made a few calls to local non-profits and a few have heard about it, one or two actually got some money, but nobody knows much about it or how anyone applies for it. Anderson Valley's local Community Action Coalition staffers knew that it existed but didn't know what was involved to apply. So, in a way, both Lintott and Eyster are correct. But obviously the process should be opened up and clear criteria for awarding it should be publicized so that an entity that meets the “law enforcement purpose” criteria can apply and be fairly evaluated.
LINTOTT SAYS that using asset forfeiture money to pay for the DA’s forfeiture prosecutor, Deputy DA Brian Newman, is technically legal according to court rulings. But Eyster says it’s very bad for anyone in the asset forfeiture business to have their job reliant on asset forfeiture funds because it's a built-in incentive to do as many of them as feasible.
SCENES from the city: The bus was jammed, so jammed the driver, a jolly black guy who'd amused us sardines by singing out the stops from Powell to Larkin, was no longer opening his front door to let on more passengers. At Hyde a nicely dressed woman who looked like a manager of something, a woman unaccustomed to being denied, pounded on the bus door. “Open it, goddammit!” she yelled. The driver shouted back that he couldn't. “I'm full,” he explained. “The rules say no more.” “Don't give me that rules shit,” the woman shouted back. “I know the rules.” The driver said, “I know the rules better than you and you're not getting on.” He drove off. A bunch of us applauded. “I wouldn't let her on an empty bus,” the driver laughed, and more people applauded.