Mendocino County Today: Friday, March 24, 2017
by AVA News Service, March 24, 2017
ANOTHER OVERFLOW CROWD Tuesday at the Supes for… You guessed it: marijuana. The Supervisors finally got the Medical Marijuana Cultivation Regulation done, i.e., defining precisely where outside the incorporated areas of the county the miracle drug can be grown. During the back and forth over the regs, every possible nit was picked and, without unpicking them all for you, resolution was finally achieved. Details are available at the County Administration Building or your supervisor. The thing comes back for a final vote on its adoption as an ordinance on April 4th.
FORT BRAGG NOTES
I attended the open air walk and discussion out on the Georgia Pacific Mill site to hear Fort Bragg’s Development Director Marie Jones discourse on the project of "daylighting" the creeks. It was a brisk California foggy day, with a light wind and light rain falling.
The land out there is tumbled from its industrial convulsion. Huge chunks of concrete and rumpled hills are filled between with water. It is toxic water laced with carcinogenic dioxin, about to be cleaned up, we are told.
Daylighting creeks is like apple pie. As an issue, there is not much room for discussion. Who would be against daylighting creeks? The Underground Water Appreciation Coalition?
A few observations occurred to me.
The daylighting proposal is not occurring in a vacuum. A little over a month ago we were bombed with a surprise presentation by the State’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC). They told the city and the council there was no end in sight for a complete cleanup and suggested an improbable compromise. Then, within the last month, the City Manager and her Development Director, Marie Jones, launched a radical alteration in the complex process of rezoning on which city hall has labored intermittently for fifteen years.
This was new, we were told. Currently the GP mill site is zoned timber-industrial. Any use of the land other than for a timber mill requires rezoning and approval of the change by the Coastal Commission. The city is precipitously moving to rezone in a way never discussed before and contrary to all the stated criteria in our existing coastal plan.
At the last two City Council meetings everyone was amazed to learn that as many as five clients may be in contract with GP awaiting our zoning decisions.
One certainly is.
Now, even more surprises. Suddenly daylighting the creeks is on the agenda. The development director made little posters about the creeks and then took locals in groups out on the site and let them smell the sea air and watch the deer waddle around in the dioxins. In a rambling disjointed talk to fifteen, slightly damp, deeply credulous locals, Ms. Jones provided fragmentary information and gracefully (more or less) obscured the important facts.
At one point, for example, and quite casually as we strolled along, Marie pointed out that the land that we were walking on belonged to Georgia Pacific, and that there would be no daylighting if they did not agree to sell the land across which which runeth ancient creeks we propose to daylight.
One could not help but wonder, Was the city that certain of GP approval?
We know that GP is in contract with up to five prospective purchasers. We know that GP wants a deal with them. We know that deal requires a rezoning which only the city can do. And we know that daylighting requires the sale of the land from GP to the city.
There is nothing wrong with a deal if made openly and publicly. In point of fact there have been a lot of deals done between the city and the Koch brothers through their GP clones over the years. Property changes hands out there fast and silently. No one up to now has been reporting on those semi-incestuous land deals. It is our tradition in Fort Bragg that we just trust our development director.
But it is hard not to notice that moving forward on daylighting the creeks at the astronomical cost of giving the GP folks the right to cut the property up and sell it off piecemeal might work for GP. It would probably work for George Reinhardt who has lowered his ambitions in scale during the decades he has been working on the mill site non-project. If he could just get those damn creeks daylighted, a piecemeal division of the site and a resulting industrial park is perhaps not asking too much.
Best of all, this is an arrangement that has enough angles to work for city hall. The only people who lose are those many souls who once understood that the site is a unique resource and an irreplaceable treasure, who therefore went forth and voted and talked together and dreamed and waited for fifteen years.
MICHAEL LAWRENCE SHAPIRO, 1942 - 2017
Michael Lawrence Shapiro was born July 7, 1942 to Irving and Ceil Shapiro in Buffalo, NY. In 1968 he met the love of his life, Sharon Shapiro and in 1972 moved to Boonville, CA and built a home on his treasured piece of property in a community that he loved. He is survived by his 3 sons, Ben, David and Gabe who he was extremely proud of. As well as, their wives Sarah, Amy, Lyell and his six grandchildren that he adored, Liliah, Abby, Noah, Levi, Skyler and Micah. He also is survived by his sister Judy Morse and his precious extended family. Michael was a real estate broker and developer throughout Mendocino County and a very proud community member of what he termed "paradise". He loved splitting firewood, fishing in his pond, gardening, watching wildlife, attending his boys sporting events and creatively solving problems. There will be a celebration of his life at the Mendocino Fairgrounds Apple Hall at 12:30pm this Friday, March 24th. Arrangements are under the direction of the Eversole Mortuary.
WROTE TO Supervisor Dan Gjerde and Fort Bragg City Manager Linda Ruffing for a clarification of Fort Bragg plans for the old mill site. Their keyboards are stilled.
YOUTUBE VIDEO of the McCarthy-Gressett Hare Creek Grocery Outlet debate in case you missed it. (Thanks to Susie de Castro for suggesting the link):
FOUR TIMES I asked the Sheriff's Department for the report on this one. I'll ask every coupla months, I guess, until I chip enough of the stone wall away so Captain Van Patten hears my plaintive call for, sob, closure:
* * *
AVA, October 12, 2016
MAYOR TURNER'S SUMMER ADVENTURE. Back in August, Dave Turner, Fort Bragg's lightning rod mayor, placed a frantic late night 911 call from deep in the Noyo woods. Turner and family had been enjoying a tranquil stay in and among the old, but still serviceable cabins once available to Union Lumber families, then Georgia-Pacific families. Before the collapse of one of the tunnels on the Skunk Line, local people could ride the train back and forth to the idyllic site, which hasn't been regularly in use for some years now, especially since the tunnel collapse. To get out there today requires a meandering journey through several locked gates that begins on the A&W logging road out of South Fort Bragg near the police station. That route is, in itself, a ride back through time, passing through what was a bustling little community called Finn Town or Soinala. The mayor being the mayor, Turner had the gate combos and, of course, he could enjoy the camp. But the times being either “unsettled” or "way outta control," depending on the degree of your alarm at what seems to be social collapse, the camp is often visited, and perhaps even enjoyed by "transients" and/or tweekers, of whom Fort Bragg has more than its share. Long story short: There's no story, or not much of one, and one wonders why the cops and the mayor himself don't just tell us what the heck happened. Which was, two tweekers, home grown Fort Bragg boys, well- known to law enforcement, showed up at the Turner camp. Frightened at their appearance, Turner called for help. The tweekers tweeked off, and that was it. End of story. We're still waiting for the Sheriff's Department to release their "findings," which may or may not include the names of the tweeks.
COLD CASE FILES.
Television crime shows are often built around unsolved murders. Detectives re-visit old case files and talk to witnesses and likely perps again and again until they're successful. Of course they don't make shows about the unsuccessful cases, of which, nationally, there are thousands upon thousands.
BUT THREE CASES here in Mendocino County can and should be pursued but aren't being pursued:
(1) Katlyn Long
Katlyn Long’s Suspicious Death
by Tim Stelloh
(AVA, April 19, 2010)
The last few months of Katlyn Long’s abbreviated life unfolded much like anyone transitioning between relationships: Unhappy with her long-term, 31-year-old boyfriend, Long broke things off. The 22-year-old Fort Bragg girl had met someone else—someone who, friends say, seemed to make her happy.
She left California with her new boyfriend early last year, but work obligations brought her back home for what was to be a brief visit. That fateful trip back would be her last: In the early morning of May 29, after spending the night with her ex-boyfriend, she was hauled to Mendocino Coast Hospital in an ambulance without a pulse—the victim of a methadone overdose.
Yet it wasn’t until last week that police revealed her cause of death. No charges have been filed.
The way detectives explain it, the one eyewitness in the case has exercised his right to remain silent since Long’s death. That eyewitness, of course, is Long’s ex, Garett Matson, son of ex-Fort Bragg planning commissioner and businessman Jerry Matson. Police say that over the course of that year they were negotiating with Matson’s attorney, Richard Petersen, in an attempt to get a statement. To maintain the apparently delicate balance of those negotiations, investigators commenced the media chess game: They withheld the results of a toxicology report completed last July that examined Long’s blood and found that she had overdosed. They kept a lid on all but the most public details of the girl’s death--namely, that she had died “suspiciously.” And they told the media the eyewitness was Long’s ex-boyfriend--but they declined to name the ex.
Petersen, of course, tells it differently. He says he’s offered to answer written questions from the police--but he wouldn’t subject Matson to a prosecutorial-style inquiry because he’s “suffering terrible emotional problems.”
“We can't open him up because he feels very threatened and weak right now,” Petersen said, summarizing what he says are a doctor's orders. “What people say about him breaks his heart.” In the unlikely event detectives share the forensic evidence they’ve collected on Matson, Petersen said he’d change his tune.
“I’d turn my client over,” he said.
In the meantime, Petersen sent a seven page statement to the DA’s office last month--a statement he described as a “timed list” of the days leading up to Long’s death. (Neither he nor the Sheriff’s office would share specifics of the statement.) And last week, detectives released an outline of what happened, along with the results of the toxicology report.
Yet it’s still unclear how--or why--that lethal dose of methadone ended up in Long’s blood.
The synthetic opiate, long thought of as a drug for junkies kicking their heroin habit, has taken on a different role in recent years as a cheap, non-narcotic prescription pain killer. As methadone prescriptions have spiked, so has the number of methadone overdoses: The drug can be lethal when combined, say, with alcohol, or when taken in too great a quantity, as its effects are far shorter than the time it stays in the body.
Sheriff’s Lt. Rusty Noe said Long didn’t have a prescription for methadone, nor did detectives find any evidence that she was using it as a pain killer. Friends say she was the last person they would expect to use such drugs recreationally. “She was like apple pie,” said Jeanne Huckins, who shared Long’s affinity for horses and rode with her often. “One time she came to the stable and she was babbling on and on and on, and I said, ‘Katlyn, what are you on?’ and she said ‘Red Bull.’ … She was very sensitive to that kind of stuff.”
Matson, on the other hand, has a history of prior drug charges. A several year old letter from neighbors in Matson’s court file even described his home as a well known crank house that police visited often: “For two years Matson has terrorized the neighborhood with shootings, loud fights and low-life people coming and going at all hours, though mostly in the middle of the night,” the letter said. It went on to describe how he “unleashed” a vicious dog on a neighbor, sending the senior citizen to the hospital twice.
Those cases--which include discharging a firearm while under the influence of a controlled substance--were dismissed when Matson agreed to drug court. (Petersen said a person’s past is only “circumstantial evidence of what the future holds.”)
Huckins described the couple’s relationship as a troubled one—a relationship where Long felt suffocated by her ex and which she ended shortly before she died. She described how, in the months before her overdose, Long had started seeing a new boyfriend--a man named William Housley--who Huckins said had brightened Long’s mood considerably. They traveled together to Washington State to visit Housley’s parents. “She was having a wonderful time,” she said. “I noticed a real shift when she started hanging out with William. She was a happy person—instead of a person who was always crying and blaming herself, who would cut herself.”
Long returned to Fort Bragg last May, Huckins said, because she worked at the stable where she kept her horses and the owners were leaving town. While home, Matson tried to rekindle their relationship. But Long wasn’t interested. The afternoon before she died the two had an argument at Long’s parents house--an argument caused by Matson thinking the two were close to reuniting, Petersen said. Matson allegedly bashed in her car and left, but returned later that afternoon.
By 5 am the next morning she was dead.
Sheriff’s deputies, who had been summoned with the ambulance, noticed “suspicious” marks on her neck, so detectives were dispatched to investigate. The marks turned out to be unrelated to the cause of her death, and the rest is history.
Some of Long’s friends and supporters theorize that she was murdered. Petersen disagrees. “If she overdosed, he didn't do it. It was either accidental, or intentional on her part,” he said. “I don't know of any one who would have wanted to kill her--including Garett. But nobody wants to believe she committed suicide either.”
For now, no suspects have been named and the DA kicked the case back to the sheriff’s office, which says it’s an open investigation--though District Attorney Meredith Lintott said her investigators are still involved, as they are with most big murder cases. If the case does go to court, Lintott said, there’s no statute of limitations on murder, nor with manslaughter in most situations. It can be a different story with other, less serious charges, however.
“It’s very tricky. People go to court to litigate statute of limitations,” she said. “The whole case can be thrown out.”
So far, Long’s family has been mum on the matter--Katlyn’s mother, Linda Long, said in an e-mail that she didn’t want to compromise the case--as are several friends.
But that hasn’t stopped an online petition, justiceforkatlyn.org, from being circulated; as of publication, the petition has nearly met its 1,000 signature goal. Once completed, the site says, it will be sent to the DA’s office because “…we want to show them that there are lots of citizens that will not rest until justice is served, and who will be watching this case.” Nor has it stopped thousands of posts from appearing on a forum attached to the Ukiah Daily Journal’s website. Unlike most message boards associated with controversial stories--where participants seem to revel in vulgar anonymity--this one is relatively benign: family and friends post poems; they give updates on the case; they talk about their freshly inked Katlyn tattoos.
Still, the site—like most message boards—has the aire of judge, jury and executioner. And it ain’t a pretty verdict for Garett Matson.
* * *
KATLYN'S DEATH INVESTIGATION went no farther than this final press release from the Sheriff's Department in 2009:
Suspicious circumstances/ death investigation
Synopsis: On 05-29-2008 at 0647 hours Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to the Mendocino Coast District Hospital in Fort Bragg, California.
Upon arrival, deputies were notified Katlyn Long had been found at her parent's Fort Bragg area residence at approximately 0500 hours absent breathing and a pulse.
An ambulance was summoned to the residence where thereafter Katlyn Long was transported to the hospital where life-saving techniques were unsuccessful.
The initial responding deputies learned Katlyn Long had no known health problems and had been in the company of her ex-boyfriend, Garett Matson, at the time she was found to have no breathing or pulse.
Upon a visual inspection of Katlyn Long's body the responding deputies noticed suspicious marks on her neck, which prompted response from the Sheriff's Office Detective Unit.
Detectives contacted Garett Matson in an attempt to obtain information surrounding the circumstances of Katlyn Long's death but he refused to be questioned.
Detectives obtained search warrants for the parent's residence and Garett Matson's residence/vehicle. The search warrants were subsequently served and items of potential importance were identified/collected.
Detectives conducted several investigations as of this date and have learned the following information.
In the beginning of May 2008 Katlyn Long terminated her approximately 5-year relationship with Garett Matson. Immediately after the termination of this relationship, Katlyn Long started a new romantic relationship with a male whom was residing out of state.
On 05-23-2008 Katlyn Long returned to Fort Bragg after having visited her new boyfriend for a short time. Katlyn Long planned on returning to stay with her new boyfriend and was to return to his home on 06-01-2008.
Upon Katlyn Long's return to Fort Bragg, she had contacts with Garett Matson on a variety of occasions over a 6-day period. The majority of the contacts [were] made by text messaging and telephone calls.
It appeared during the 6-day period Garett Matson made attempts to reconcile with Katlyn Long to no avail. Instead it appeared Katlyn Long and Garett Matson engaged in friendship types of activities.
It appears on 05-28-2008 during the early afternoon hours some form of argument ensued between Katlyn Long and Garett Matson at the residence of Long's parents. It has been alleged that Garett Matson vandalized Katlyn Long's truck during this argument.
It appears on 05-28-2008 at approximately 1810 hours Garett Matson returned to the Long family residence. Garett Matson stayed overnight with Katlyn Long in her basement style bedroom.
During this time Katlyn Long and Garett Matson were contacted by Long's parents with the last contact being during the late evening hours.
On 05-29-2008 at 0500 hours Garett Matson contacted Katlyn Long's parents and advised them of her unresponsive state. An ambulance was shortly thereafter summoned for medical assistance.
On 05-30-2008 a forensic autopsy was performed on Katlyn Long at the Napa County Sheriff's Office. The preliminary results of the autopsy showed no obvious cause of death and a toxicology analysis of Katlyn Long's blood was requested.
On 07-30-2008 the toxicology exam results were disclosed to the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office. The results showed Katlyn Long had a lethal amount of Methadone in her blood stream.
Detectives noted no obvious signs of narcotics inside of Katlyn Long's bedroom after her death. Detectives also determined that Katlyn Long was not a prescription Methadone user or known recreational user of the drug.
Since the time of Katlyn Long's death, detectives have tried several different times to interview Garett Matson as an eyewitness but he has refused.
On 05-18-2009 the Mendocino County Chief Deputy Coroner determined Katlyn Long's cause of death to be the result of a methadone overdose with the classification of her death as being undetermined.
As a result of the investigations conducted into Katlyn Long's death, investigative reports were forwarded to the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office for review.
On or about 05-19-2009 the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office received a written statement from the law office of Richard Petersen on behalf of Garett Matson. The statement provided information surrounding the death of Katlyn Long, which is currently being investigated by detectives.
The case has been classified as a undetermined cause of death and the investigation remains open at this time. No suspect has been charged. Based on the investigation to date the case will continue to be investigated by the Sheriff's Detective Division.
Anyone with information about this case is urged to call 463-4083.
* * *
(2) Susan Keegan.
Crime show aficionados know that people are being prosecuted for murder all the time on a lot less evidence than exists in the Keegan case. (Available by googling Susan Keegan.) Mrs. Keegan was, quite probably, bludgeoned to death by her husband, Dr. Peter Keegan. We know that Tim Stoen of the DA's Fort Bragg office, and once consiglieri to Jim Jones, who's pushing 80 and has experienced serious medical problems, was assigned to the Keegan case, an assignment that would certainly draw even more outside attention to it than is inherent in a homicide case where the defendant is a medical doctor. Keegan should have been prosecuted years ago, Mrs. Keegan having breathed her last in November of 2010. DA Eyster is out of excuses on this one, although to be fair to Eyster, the Sheriff's Department badly screwed up the initial investigation and then, under the helter-skelter DA's regime of Meredith Lintott, there was no ongoing investigation. Eyster picked up the ball and is occasionally still seen stumbling downfield with it.
* * *
(3) James Denoyer.
Denoyer is assumed to have disappeared his uncle and another old guy. While the two old guys disappeared, a drop-fall drunk named Baumeister was working at Denoyer's starving horse ranch near Westport. Baumeister just got arrested again the other day for drunk in public, as he often does. Has any badged anyone ever bothered to talk to Baumeister about Denoyer while he's in jail?
Cavanaugh, Niely, Denoyer at home, Denoyer booked
IT'S A TIRED cliche in lib circles that you get the justice you pay for. If you can't afford a private attorney, bring your toothbrush to court with you because you are mos def going to jail. In the above matters, all three suspects lawyered right up — Matson with the formidable criminal defense attorney, the late Richard Petersen out of Fort Bragg; Denoyer was privately represented for the fumbled case brought against him, not for murder, but for neglect of his horses. (The animal battalions were of course much more concerned with the horses than they were with the two old guys who suddenly weren't in Westport anymore.) And Keegan quickly went out and hired himself ace criminal defense man, Keith Faulder, an odd expense for an innocent healing professional. Faulder has since been elevated to the Superior Court while Keegan has retained the equivalently capable, and probably more expensive, Chris Andrian of Sonoma County.
A BOONVILLE CITIZEN ASKS,
"If a car is stranded with a flat tire, 3 miles south of Boonville, with occupants inside, and the Sheriff passes by, does he have a responsibility to stop and check if he can be of assistance? Question asked because this happened to my family on Wednesday, March 22 at approximately 4:50 pm."
–P. Thomasson, Boonville
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “So they stick these two plastic things in my favorite tree and say, 'Look, Little Dog, the blue birds of happiness. Enjoy!' ”
ANOTHER ONE FOR THE MEXICO EXPRESS
On March 21, 2017 at approximately 11:20 P.M., Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to a reported domestic violence incident at a residence in the 24000 block of East Lane in Covelo. Upon their arrival, Deputies contacted Teodoro Rosales, 44, of Covelo, inside a vehicle parked in front of the residence. Rosales appeared to be under the influence of an alcoholic beverage and was asleep in the vehicle. Deputies contacted a 35-year old adult female and learned she was in a dating relationship with Rosales. Deputies also learned the couple lived together with their juvenile child. Deputies learned the couple were involved in an argument at their residence and the adult female was holding their juvenile child. Rosales punched the adult female multiple times during the argument, causing injuries to her head and arm. Rosales then left in his vehicle and parked in front of the residence, which is where he was contacted by Deputies. It was also determined that Rosales was on summary probation from a prior domestic violence case. Based on this investigation, Deputies placed Rosales under arrest for Felony Domestic Violence Battery, Child Endangerment, Violation of Summary Probation. Rosales was subsequently booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in lieu of $25,000 bail.
* * *
PIA CHENG? CHINESE TWEAKER?
On 03-16-2017 at approximately 11:00 P.M., a Deputy from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office was on uniformed patrol in a marked patrol vehicle near Laytonville, California. The Deputy observed a vehicle commit a traffic violation and attempted to initiate a traffic enforcement stop on Highway 101 near Branscomb Road in Laytonville. The vehicle continued driving northbound at approximately 35-40 miles per hour. The Deputy had the emergency lights and siren activated on the patrol vehicle. The vehicle continued traveling northbound on Highway 101 north of Laytonville for approximately 1 mile at slow speeds before stopping. Deputies ordered the driver and passenger out of the vehicle. The driver was identified as Pia Cheng, 31, of Eureka, and the passenger was identified as Alexandria Lozano, 23, of Eureka, both being from Eureka, California. The Deputies were notified by MCSO dispatch that Cheng had an active felony warrant (11378 H&S) for his arrest from Humboldt County. The warrant was confirmed and Cheng was placed under arrest for the warrant. During this investigation, it was determined that Cheng failed to yield to the emergency lights and siren of the marked patrol vehicle and was driving on a suspended driver's license. Deputies located a tool commonly used to commit burglaries in Cheng's pocket during his arrest. Cheng was also placed under arrest for Evading a Peace Officer, Possession of a Burglary Tool, and Driving on a Suspended License. Deputies contacted Lozano and she was exhibiting symptoms of recently using a controlled substance. After multiple tests, the Deputies determined that Lozano was under the influence of a controlled substance and placed her under arrest for being Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance. Cheng was subsequently booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held on a no-bail status due to his felony warrant from Humboldt County. Lozano was subsequently booked into the Mendocino County Jail where she was held in lieu of $5,000 bail.
SUPES TO HOLD ANOTHER SPECIAL POT MEETING
On Tuesday, March 28, 2017
To Address Prop 64 legalization
To: Board Of Supervisors
From: Matthew Kiedrowski, Deputy County Counsel; Brina Blanton, Deputy County Counsel
March 28, 2017
Board Direction Regarding the Drafting of An Ordinance In Response to the Passage of Proposition 64 and Corresponding Amendments to Mendocino County Code Chapter 9.31
On February 14, 2017, this Board gave direction to staff to draft an ordinance regulating the cultivation of marijuana allowed by California Proposition 64 (“adult use marijuana”), and to draft corresponding changes to Mendocino County Code Chapter 9.31. In the drafting process, questions have arisen for which further Board direction is needed.
On February 14th, staff proposed to the Board the creation of a new Chapter 9.30 regulating personal cultivation of adult use marijuana as allowed pursuant to Proposition 64. This new Chapter 9.30 was proposed to be based on the County’s Chapter 9.31, with possible changes to Chapter 9.31 to reflect an overall cap of 25 plants, 6 of which could be for adult use marijuana.
After beginning to prepare drafts of Chapter 9.30 and amendments to Chapter 9.31, staff believes that additional amendments to Chapter 9.31 are appropriate in order to create consistency across the County’s current and proposed marijuana cultivation ordinances. Proposed new Chapter 10A.17 contains certain requirements for cultivation of medical cannabis which may have had their genesis in Chapter 9.31, but have been revised. Staff believes it is important for clarity and ease of enforcement that to the extent possible or practical, rules regarding cultivation be consistent between all of the County’s cannabis ordinances.
As a review, the County has had first reading of an ordinance creating Chapters 20.242 and 10A.17, which only affect the inland zoning areas of the County. Chapter 9.31 will still be controlling in areas of the County not covered by Chapters 10A.17 and 20.242. Chapter 9.30 will be the County’s only regulation on cultivation of adult use marijuana until a broader ordinance regarding adult use marijuana cultivation on a commercial scale is either drafted or folded into Chapter 10A.17, and corresponding changes to the zoning code are made.
- Reasonableness Concerns
As discussed with the Board on February 14, 2017, Proposition 64 (specifically, as codified in Health and Safety Code section 11362.2), allows the County to “enact and enforce reasonable regulations to reasonably regulate.” The same section provides that the County may not “completely prohibit” certain actions inside a private residence or an accessory structure to a private residence. Reading these provisions together, the County would appear able to reasonably regulate cultivation activities, even inside a residence, but it is unknown what the reasonableness standard for such regulations would be.
Staff has compiled the following list of discussion points on which staff is seeking direction or additional discussion from the Board.
- Ten acre parcel size requirement for outdoor cultivation. Staff received direction that adult use marijuana could only be grown indoors if on a parcel less than 10 acres in size. However, as drafted, Chapter 20.242 allows cultivation up to 5,000 square feet of medical cannabis on 5-acre sites with a zoning clearance. Chapter 10A.17 does not place such a size limitation on exempted personal cultivation. We would like to clarify whether the Board desires such a gap between personal cultivation of adult use marijuana and medical cannabis.
- 100 Contiguous square feet for indoor cultivation. Proposition 64 allows for six plants, but does not speak to square footage for indoor cultivation. It is unknown if limiting the number of square feet, and requiring the plants to be contiguous, would be reasonable.
- Indoor Cultivation and Youth Setbacks. A complete ban of indoor cultivation within the 1000 foot setback requirement is unlikely to be considered a reasonable limitation. However, allowing indoor cultivation under Proposition 64 within this setback area would create a lesser restriction for adult use marijuana than Chapter 10A.17, as drafted, would allow for medical cannabis cultivation.
- Restriction on cultivating in a habitable space. Chapter 10A.17 provides that permitted cultivation sites may not use any habitable space, but does not apply this to qualified patient or personal caregiver cultivation. Under Proposition 64, the County may not completely prohibit indoor cultivation, but certain restrictions may be reasonable. Prohibiting cultivation in all habitable space (kitchen, bedrooms, bathrooms, living room, and hallways) may not be reasonable, but limiting to cultivating in a certain amount of square footage of habitable space may be. If crime is a concern, it may be reasonable to prohibit cultivation in spaces fronting a right-of-way, or to ensure that any cultivation in a garage is reasonably shielded when the garage door is open. Staff seeks discussion on what restrictions might be reasonable for cultivation in a personal residence.
- Cultivation under both Chapter 10A.17 and Proposition 64. The Board generally asked staff to review the letter of the Ukiah Area Rural Residential Concerned Neighbors and also asked staff to review the possible interplay between medical cannabis and adult use marijuana.
It is not clear how cultivation exempt from a permit under both proposed Chapter 10A.17 and Proposition 64 would interact. The County’s proposed Chapter 10A.17 allows for cultivation of medical cannabis by a primary caregiver for up to 200 square feet for 2 separate patients. It is not clear that the primary caregiver could then reasonably be restricted from cultivating up to 6 plants for the caregiver’s personal, recreational use. This situation hypothetically would see 200 square feet plus six plants of cannabis cultivation without the issuance of a permit.
Some of the above topics and existing regulations may serve to place some curbs on these cumulatively exempt cultivation operations. Setbacks on outdoor cultivation already create limits as to the amount of cannabis that can be grown outside on many parcels. The County may be able to limit the amount of habitable space used for cultivation within a residence and require the rest to be done outdoors or within an accessory structure, consistent with all setback requirements.
To the extent that members of the public or the Board have additional questions or concerns, staff welcomes the opportunity to discuss these issues. The goal of staff is to be able to prepare an ordinance for first reading after today’s meeting.
TWO MORNINGS this week KZYX announced that the station was in "emergency" mode. I called hoping the emergency would be defined. The station manager asked me to "hold off" writing anything about it. He said an explanation would be forthcoming. It never forthcame. We heard from other sources, plural, that someone's house had burned. We called area fire departments. They had no record of recent house fires. Life went on.
IT'S PAST TIME
To the Editor:
The purpose of this letter is to strongly endorse John Arteaga’s recommendation (John’s Corner, March 10, 2017) that the City Council proceed as soon as possible to stop the waste of money on a receivership and further studies of the Palace Hotel and get on with its inevitable demolition.
The basic reason for John’s conclusion is that the hotel can never be renovated and that all the money that has been and will be spent pursuing this option is wasted. John is a smart, honest, knowledgeable guy respecting these matters, has the city’s best interests at heart and has no economic interest that would influence his view. About twenty years of uneconomic use of this property verify his conclusions.
I don’t claim expertise that others should rely upon, but I own and have owned several old commercial or industrial buildings; and I’ve represented building owners for about 40 years. I have some confidence in my assessment of the economic and business prospects of buildings like the Place Hotel. My guess is that there is at least $1 million dollars to be lost before that site can be cleared and put to use. That is, it will cost at least $1 million dollars more to clear the site and sell it than it will sell for even if demolition starts tomorrow. The city will probably bear this loss because the owner is an LLC with no assets. Maybe the eventual loss will be more, maybe it will be less. The critical point is that there will be a huge loss and all of the costs of a receivership and more studies will probably only add to the city’s loss.
I say “probably” because there is a legal theory that sometimes allows entities, such as the city in this situation, to look through, or past, the insolvent legal entity that owes them money; such as the LLC that owns the Palace, to reach the owners of the legal entity. It’s called “piercing the corporate (or LLC here) veil,” and is available when investors in a high risk project undertake that project by creating a limited liability entity, such as a corporation of LLC, but do not capitalize the entity adequately to cover the foreseeable and expected costs and risks entailed. If it hasn’t been done, the city should consider whether the theory has any application here to reach through the LLC and reach Mrs. Laines and the other owners, and whether those folks have enough assets to repay the effort if it is successful. (It makes no sense to spend money for a judgment against a person who can’t pay it.)
If, as is probably the case, the city can’t recover this loss, it should get on with bringing about the demolition and sale of the Palace as soon as possible and, as John Arteaga suggests, stop wasting time and money.
Jared G. Carter, Ukiah
CATCH OF THE DAY, March 23, 2017.
Adams, Blanton, Crouch
LAURA ADAMS, Ukiah. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, court ordered disobeyed, failure to appear.
JESSE BLANTON, Ukiah. Community supervision violation.
ERIC CROUCH, Ukiah. Battery-punishment.
Gallagher, Higgins, Luna
DOUGLAS GALLAHGER, Albion. DUI.
MICHAEL HIGGINS, Ukiah. Domestic battery.
SERGIO LUNA, Ukiah. DUI-drugs & alcohol.
SHAWN HORN, Willits. Pot possession for sale, obtaining credit using someone else’s ID.
CARLOS MAGANA, Ukiah. Metal Knuckles.
Madson, Moroni, Siddons
TATE MADSON, Willits. Drunk in public, probation revocation.
KENNETH MORONI, Ukiah. DUI-drugs.
MARIA SIDDONS, Willits. Under influence.
ANXIOUS S.F. ARTIST, PAUL MADONNA, MOVES ON
by Jonah Raskin
Artists are the “antennae” of the human race, someone once said. They’re the mind readers and the prophets who scope out the future. And sometimes they’re also complex recording instruments that gage the seismic shifts in society. That last description would probably fit Paul Madonna, a native of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, who lives and works on Brazil Street in the Excelsior District in San Francisco. He and his wife recently moved there. They had no choice. High rents booted them out of the Mission, as they have booted out many others. Madonna tells that story in his new book, On to the Next Dream ($17.95), just put in print by City Lights, his favorite publisher.
If Madonna has moved on, he also feels that he has moved back in time. “The Excelsior is what the Mission, my old neighborhood, was ten years ago,” he told me. Paul and his wife have a whole building to themselves, though it’s only a one-story building, and there isn’t a room with a view, a hardship for an artist accustomed to views. When he first arrived in the City in the early 1990s, Madonna couldn’t sell his art. So he gave it away. Now, he’s famous all over the San Francisco Bay Area for his comic strips and his books, one of them an illustrated novel, Close Enough for the Angels. The title seems apt for an artist who isn’t angelic himself but whose editors at City Lights and The San Francisco Chronicle have behaved like angels and kept him working like a devil.
These days, Madonna and his wife pay twice as much for their Excelsior home as they paid for their third-floor flat in the Mission. They both work, they both make money and they both save it. If they didn’t they probably wouldn’t be living in San Francisco. The old apartment in the Mission had windows that looked out on the world. Then, their landlord sent them an eviction notice and Madonna nearly lost his mind. At times, he says, he wanted to go to the roof of his building and just scream. Then he got hold of himself. He funneled his rage into his art and connected his own personal hell to the shared experiences of others, like himself, who face evictions and are forced to find new places to live almost everyday in a topsy-turvy city where money calls the tune.
Madonna’s new book, On To the Next Dream, tells his traumatic tale and the traumatic tale of a whole city in hard-hitting words and heart-wrenching images. Madonna started the book in June 2015. He finished it six months later, in December. While he knew from the beginning how the narrative would end, he didn’t know how he would get there.
“I had to figure out the voice and the tone,” he said. “I had to ramp up the sense of the surreal.” In a way, he had to hit readers over the head if they were to get what he wanted to them to get, which was a sense of the absurd.
On To the Next Dream marks a departure for the 44-year old Madonna. Indeed, he’s moved on from his popular cartoon strip, All Over Coffee that ran in The Chronicle and absorbed much of his creativity for more than a decade. In 2007, City Lights published the first three years of the strip in book form. A second collection of the strip, Everything is its own reward, appeared in 2011.
A creature of habit, Madonna walks almost every day from his new home to cafes in his old neighborhood, where he drinks coffee, meets friends and makes art.
“All Over Coffee gave me my career,” Madonna said. “It propelled me into being a professional and it connected me to a big audience in San Francisco that helped me become aware of the environment all around me. But after twelve years, I also knew that I had to move on and leave that strip behind me.”
Madonna doesn’t make moral judgments about the transformation of San Francisco. He doesn’t like and doesn’t use words like “gentrification.” He likes cafés and he likes coffee; he’d rather not live in a slum, a ghetto or the suburbs, either. An urban artist, he needs gritty streets to inspire him. He needs a place that he loves, though it has broken his heart. The old San Francisco that Madonna knew when he first arrived in the City, twenty-three years ago, mostly exists today as a series of landscapes for tourists — “a kind of urban Disneyland,” he calls it.
And, while he also sees urban blight in neighborhoods poised for commercial development, he also sees beauty almost everywhere he looks.
“Part of my job is to locate beautiful things, places and people where they’re least expected,” he said. “In my new book, On to the Next Dream, I wanted readers to see beauty even in ugly surrounding.” I also wanted them to empathize with my plight—the plight of the artist, ironically, caught up in the story that he tells.”
More creative now perhaps than ever before, Madonna is working on two new projects: a book called Follow Yourself that will be produced and published by San Francisco’s de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park; and his first solo show at the Legion of Honor also in San Francisco. Both are slated for 2018. They both suggest that the City does care about its artists and writers. Not surprisingly, the book, Follow Yourself, and the show focus on the creative process. Madonna is making the drawings right now, and mining his experiences.
“When I first arrived in San Francisco I had a lot to learn,” he said. “I know now how to take anxiety and fear and turn it into art. Moving On to the Next Dream helped me crystalize my role as a creative person.”
San Francisco gave birth to Madonna. In words and images, he has memorialized the City that now exists, if it exists at all, in museums, in memory and in dreams. And in old neighborhoods like the Excelsior.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Union Pacific has big yellow diesel locomotives with American flag and “BUILDING AMERICA” emblazoned on the sides of the engines…
Unfortunate sidebar of the Union Pacific business plan is deliberate removal of trackside warehouses and old stations not in their modus operandi for Port to-Port movement of containers….
Right now Colfax, California has a 19,000 square foot warehouse structure, an insulated warehouse named “COLFAX FRUIT GROWERS ASSOCIATION 1931” This was receiving warehouse for fruit and vegetables brought in by the Nevada County Narrow Gauge for storage and move across to other side to load aboard Southern Pacific Lines “Pacific Fruit Express” and “Fruit Growers Express” refrigerator cars, stocked with ice at Roseville and destined for far places.
Union Pacific Real Estate Department minions are bound by habit or policy to find excuse to remove such vestiges of the past wherever the remain. The City of Colfax has expressed interest in working with the Giant Yellow monster living on parallel bars to make the warehouse safe from asbestos and work out a lease for a long term use as commercial floor space. The roof needs repair and other code issues need attention, but asbestos removal has condemned the building.
James Kunstler often mentions loss of small-town railway connection as significant component of “Hollowing Out” of America’s bone and sinew. Well, here is textbook, real-time example! Union Pacific claims no place for a structure not tuned to long-haul containers. It is a disappointing thing to see very large amounts of pears and apples not going to market or being used in beverages due to loss of high volume shipping capability offered when this Fruit Growers Building was in routine use. Truth is, Union Pacific is now moving growing numbers of white “ARM” “American Refrigerated Merchandise” boxcars. So far, not enough of these new generation reefers exist to fit in the smaller load sites like Colfax.
Sacramento area had multiple food processing and even can and box manufacturing to fill thousands of rail carloads a year. This loss of food shipment by rail should concern strategic planners because woe be to us when natural/manmade disaster or sabotage stifles motor & airborne food distribution. This demolition, one loadsite at a time is cumulative, stealthy sabotage still taking place.
Railway in mid-20th Century had a strategic moniker: “Second Dimension Surface Transport Logistics Platform”. This definition gains meaning again after we are laid low by any number of very determined Asian and Middle East bad boys biding their time, brazenly and openly promising harm to America.
The Colfax warehouse is only one, but seems like a good place to draw the line. Anybody near Colfax CA got some bitcoin to put into a tangible asset not susceptible to Electromagnetic pulse vaporizing? Repair the roof and be a landlord while the fruit and vegetable boxcars catch up! Part of American Food Security.
ANOTHER BEAT POET PASSES ON
Joanne Kyger, trailblazing Beat poet, dies at 82
by John McMurtrie
Joanne Kyger, a leading poet of the San Francisco Renaissance and a rare female voice of the male-dominated Beat generation, has died.
Ms. Kyger, who lived in Bolinas, died Wednesday, Bay Area poet and collaborator Michael Rothenberg wrote on Facebook. She was 82. No cause of death was given.
“Joanne Kyger was a trailblazer, fearless and full of insight,” said City Lights publisher Elaine Katzenberger. “Her poetry has influenced generations of younger poets, and there are many in the Bay Area and beyond who will be missing her fierce humor and generous mentorship.”
Ms. Kyger wrote more than 20 collections of poetry, beginning with “The Tapestry and the Web” (1965). “On Time: Poems 2005-2014,” published by City Lights Publishers, showcased themes informed by her longtime practice of Zen Buddhism and her concern for the environment. Her prose collections included “Strange Big Moon: Japan and India Journals 1960-1964” (1981).
Ms. Kyger had been working on a new book, “There You Are: Interviews, Journals, and Ephemera” — the first in a new interview series by Wave Books — that will be published in September.
In addition to her writing, Ms. Kyger taught at Mills College, the New College of California and Naropa University in Boulder, Colo.
Born in Vallejo in 1934, Ms. Kyger moved to San Francisco in 1957 after attending UC Santa Barbara. In San Francisco, she joined a community of poets, living in the communal East West House, where she studied Zen Buddhism.
“Every night I would go out in North Beach,” Ms. Kyger told The Chronicle in 2003, describing her excursions in heady 1950s San Francisco. “I’d go to The Place, where they had Blabbermouth Night. It was all very exciting. I had this pair of red Capezios, and I’d run up and down the street. I had to have them re-heeled every week, I was on the go so much.”
It was during the Beat era that Ms. Kyger was given the nickname “Miss Kids” — because she called people “Kids,” she said.
Although most poets of the postwar San Francisco Renaissance movement were men, Ms. Kyger said, “I never noticed I was in ‘male-dominated’ groups.’” In a 2015 Poetry Foundation interview, she said, “There were always women I was friends with associated with these groups. But few were interested in poetry and writing to the degree I was.”
Among those in Ms. Kyger’s circle were the poets Jack Spicer and Robert Duncan and the man who would be her husband, from 1960 to 1964: Gary Snyder. The couple lived in Japan and traveled throughout India with the poets (and partners) Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky. She returned to California in 1964.
In his 2002 Chronicle review of “As Ever: Selected Poems,” John Freeman wrote that Ms. Kyger’s best poetry, her “short, imagistic observations of daily life,” drew its inspiration from her Marin County surroundings. Her work, he added, “uses a reader’s breath (these poems are best read silently, then aloud) to turn poetry into a kind of prayer.”
These lines from the poem “Saturday February 4” convey as much:
White sheen on open Bolinas ridge top
Powdered white sugar
the whole long ridge
is covered with light dusting of snow
this has never happened
before in my memory
Ms. Kyger stayed true to her Buddhist beliefs, long after living in Japan.
“When you die,” she wrote in the poem “Night Palace,” “you wake up from the dream.”
No memorial services have been announced.
(The San Francisco Chronicle.)
THE CHIEF CHARACTERISTIC OF SMALL TOWN AMERICA these days is a lack of visible decorum.
The White Swan Hotel, 1961. If you look at that shot one photo back, the hotel was located just beyond the traffic light, where the drive in bank is now. The hotel had a bar, a restaurant, and a movie theater in it, and was literally the heart of town. It was never a great building, but it was good enough, and the exterior could have been detailed and decorated better, the ground floor in particular. Demolished a few years after this photo was taken. Weep for yourself, America, and for the bad choices we have made.
— James Kunstler
CALIFORNIA STATE PARKS: SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
In advance of our up-coming Earth Day Restoration Cleanup event on Saturday, April 22, California State Parks is reaching out to the media in areas where one of our 41 Earth Day events are taking place.
This year, we are hosting events in Humboldt County at Trinidad State Beach and at Sinkyone Wilderness State Park in Mendocino which may be of interest to your listeners.
After a winter season of epic, drought-busting rains, Trinidad State Beach is bursting with blooms and Sinkyone’s waterfalls are all running full tilt. All that rain has its downside as well: significant erosion forced the closure of the road from Four Corners to the Needle Rock Visitor Center as well as other road closures at Sinkyone.
This is where Earth Day volunteers come in. Projects at Trinidad and Sinkyone are slated to help repair roads and campsites and remove human-caused and natural debris. We need as many hands as we can get to power through these important repair projects and help the parks get ready for the busy summer season.
To drive further interest in these events, I would be delighted to discuss wildlife, stream life, our Access for All program, or other content ideas that would be appropriate for your audience.
Your help was invaluable to help get the word out last year. We would love to work on a feature story with you to reignite your listeners’ awareness in supporting their community. This one day, springtime event is the perfect chance to re-engage with neighbors and rediscover parks.
On Behalf of the California State Parks Foundation
UKE FEST! UKIAH!
The Ukiah Uke Tones ukulele club will be hosting their first Ukiah Uke Fest Friday April 21 from 6PM - 9PM and all day Saturday April 22 from 9AM - 5PM at Holy Trinity Church, 640 South Orchard in Ukiah. This will be a gathering of ukulele enthusiasts for workshops and play. Players of all levels are welcome from absolute beginner to seasoned players for a fun day of shared music and song! Ukulele teachers Janet Lenore from Hayward and Amy Friedricks from Larkspur will be presenting workshops for beginner to advanced players. Friday April 21 from 6PM - 9PM will be a no charge Welcome jam and teacher introductions. Saturday April 22 from 9AM - 5PM will be an all day series of workshops and jams. $30.00 Tickets are available at Mendocino Book Company or Dig!Music or online at Brown Paper Tickets under Ukiah Uke Fest.
email@example.com wrote: Hi list, Any local rock people know if chert can be found in the area, and where one might go looking for it? Thanks, Trilby
* * *
Marco McClean replied: I know a pet crimson rosella -- a small parrot -- named Melody who also would like to know about that. It comes up in conversation. I say, "Would somebody like a noodle?" Melody says, "Chert?" I give her a noodle stick and she enthusiastically shreds it and is satisfied for the moment, but it's an issue. She has also expressed curiosity about Pete, or peat. Probably Pete. "Pete? Pete?" or "Pete-Pete-Pete-Pete-Pete?" And, when frustrated, "ROCK!" In other news, this is a week when I'll be in Fort Bragg for my KNYO (and, later at night, KMEC) radio show tomorrow (Friday) night. 325 N. Franklin, next to the Tip Top bar. Any time after 9pm just walk in and head for the lighted room at the back. There's only one guest mic for you, but it's been working pretty well for one person singing with an instrument or several people sitting around and/or you, maybe, talking about your project or event or struggle. Struggle is interesting. 9pm to about 4am every Friday night, 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg, including midnight to 3am 105.1fm KMEC-LP Ukiah, as I'm assured by Sid Cooperider that the problem of someone coming in and inadvertently or perhaps vertently sabotaging the KMEC end of the deal has been solved. As Roseanne Roseannadanna said, "It's always something."
SHOWDOWN AT DELTA STEWARDSHIP COUNCIL OVER JERRY BROWN'S TWIN TUNNELS THURSDAY
by Dan Bacher
The Delta Stewardship Council (DSC) on Thursday, March 23 will consider a controversial motion to amend the Delta Plan to automatically accept new conveyance (the Delta Tunnels) into their master plan for the Delta, “without proper public vetting,” according to a news release from Restore the Delta (RTD).
The meeting will take place at the Brentwood Community Center, 708 3rd Street, Brentwood, CA 94513. The meeting will begin at 9 a.m. and the public comment session will begin at 10 a.m.
The motion will be agenda item 11. “Delta advocates will attend the DSC meeting to show their opposition to this motion,” said RTD.
Delta advocates will make the following points before the Council:
- Do not make the Delta Tunnels (dual conveyance) a promoted option or preferred alternative at this time.
- Do the comprehensive review and analysis required by the Delta Reform Act and a benefit-cost analysis before declaring the Tunnels or anything else to be the promoted option and preferred alternative.
- There is no need to rush an approval for the Delta Tunnels without Federal permits, and without a financial plan.
- Think first, Act later.
On March 20, a coalition of ten organizations sent a letter to the Delta Stewardship Council, written by Bob Wright of Friends of the River, outlining their opposition to the motion being considered at the meeting and informing the DSC of their need to comply with Delta Reform Act and California Environmental Quality Act.
Signatories include AquAlliance, California Water Impact Network, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Justice Coalition for Water, Environmental Water Caucus, Friends of the River, Planning and Conservation League, Restore the Delta, and Sierra Club California.
The letter concludes: “There is no legitimate basis at this time to make new conveyance, dual conveyance, the Water Fix Tunnels, the promoted option and/or preferred alternative going forward. We have governments of laws not rulers. It is time to comply with the DRA and CEQA by doing the hard work first, before jumping to conclusions. It is time to perform the comprehensive review and analysis, and also benefit-cost analysis before making any decision preliminary or otherwise to promote dual-conveyance or make that the preferred alternative.
The DSC Members need to keep open minds that after all is said and done through-Delta conveyance coupled with reducing exports thereby reducing reliance on the Delta, may be the best conveyance alternative. Though we know that is the case, whether we are correct is not the issue now. The issue is simply that the DSC not put the cart before the horse by prematurely favoring dual conveyance.”
The motion is being considered at a time when Delta Tunnels proponents are struggling to justify their enormously expensive and environmentally destructive project. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) recently released a draft biological opinion documenting the harm the tunnels would cause to salmon, steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt, other fish and wildlife species, and water quality.
An independent peer review panel found the NMFS findings are backed by “comprehensive analyses, new data, and modeling,” according to a statement from the Golden Gate Salmon Association (GGSA). The panel further found NMFS used the “best available science” and produced evidence of “significant adverse impacts” to species and critical habitat, including unacceptable harm to salmon.
The draft biological opinion is available at http://www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/central_valley/WaterFix/WaterFixPeerReview2BMaterials.html
CERAMICS WORKSHOP AT MENDOCINO COLLEGE--MARCH 29-30
The Ceramics Club of Mendocino College presents the Artstream Nomadic Gallery and Workshop Tour, March 29 and 30 at the Lowery Center and Little Theatre at Mendocino College. Ceramic artists Julia Galloway, Ben Carter and Doug Browe will lead a workshop each day at the Little Theatre, with demonstrations and lectures from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a lunch break at noon. The Artstream Nomadic Gallery will be open, parked in front of the Lowery Student Center, showing an exciting collection of functional ceramics from 26 artists from across the country. The workshop fee is $30 for one day and $50 for both and includes lunches provided by Chef Petti's Culinary Program. For more details call 468-3087.
THE EXECUTION OF CARYL CHESSMAN
by Kenneth Rexroth
Once in a while it may do us good to look back at a catastrophe or crisis from the perspective of a few days of past time.
While I was traveling around the country observing the growth of new unity and purpose in other communities, California was marching, step by step, towards an act of social disintegration of such folly and waste that hardly an informed person believed that it would ever really happen. The victim is dead and his agony, however horrible, was a matter of brief time. Men die far worse deaths every minute. His executioners are ruined and demoralized men. The society which produced this act is now in permanent bitter conflict with itself, a conflict which shall not be resolved until the possibility of at least this form of mass psychosis is done away with forever.
Someone once said that the English Puritans objected to bear-baiting, not because of the pain it caused to the bear, but because of the pleasure it gave to spectators. He was under the impression he had scored a witty point against the Puritans. I am about as far from being a Puritan as can be imagined, but I think this principle is one of the foundations of all social ethics. Vindictiveness, terror, persecution, cruelty often ennoble their victims; they always degrade the society in which they are permitted to flourish. The society which institutionalizes them eventually perishes. They are like voluntary cancers, these institutions, and the day of reckoning is certain, and usually soon. War-crazed Assyria, Revolutionary France of the Terror, Stalin’s Russia, Hitler’s Germany — how quickly the day of retribution comes! Vindictive false justice gets its own vindication from history.
I am not what is usually called a religious man, but any discussion of capital punishment demands a more or less religious approach, because it is itself a religious rite. It is the ancient rite of the scapegoat, one of the oldest ways in which society atoned for its own sins and assuaged its own guilt. Today we are no longer men of the Late Stone Age, and however much it may once have served the purpose of social hygiene, today it has turned into its opposite. It intensifies all the guilts rampant in society, it identifies every man in the community, not with acts of social good, not with penance and amendment of life, but with a deliberate act of positive evil. This is why, in the historic cases of Dreyfus, Sacco and Vanzetti, the Scottsboro Boys, the Reichstag Fire Trial, the Moscow Trials, the public cry for blood has mounted, not diminished, as the conviction of the victims’ innocence spread through society. The catechism speaks of a sacrament as an outward visible sign of an inward spiritual reality. The shocking ceremoniousness of capital punishment is the outward visible sign of a kind of anti-sacrament, a real Black Mass, which drives men apart, each to his own guilty vengeance, and which is always there, gnawing at the sources of communion amongst men like a rat, like a cancer.
“It doesn’t hurt, it will be over in a minute,” the warden and the chaplains say. What has this got to do with it? Stalin, crazy with blood, at least killed his victims shamefully, in secret cork-lined cellars. The issue is not the death of a man or a few minutes of agony. We have used science to ensure the ceremoniousness of this rite.
The beginning of the Machine Age gave us the guillotine, electricity gave us Sacco and Vanzetti, biochemistry gave us Caryl Chessman, as physics gave us Hiroshima. Go back and read the eyewitness stories of the 2nd of May. What is shocking is not the gruesome death, far from painless, far from quick, far from silent, but the demonic liturgy, the ritual performance, which involves society directly in responsibility — you and me, personally, in vengeance and the absolute rejection of charity — without which, as was once observed, we are only empty vessels of sounding brass — robots, automatons.
What about our proxies, the men who took our responsibility? As happened once in the Sanhedrin, they have chosen expediency and it has ruined them. There is one man who will never be President or vice president, there is another who will never be governor, there is another who has thrown away the confidence of his race. How easy, we think, it would have been to have acted nobly. How easy to choose the greater ultimate good than the lesser immediate good. Do we? You and I, individually? Which is more important, water rights, elections, conventions, or the power to rise and become, in the words of Anatole France, “a moment in the conscience of mankind”? Over that weekend many people held before the eyes of the Governor the great example of Governor Altgeld, who destroyed himself politically by an act of moral courage and so became one of the few heroes who have ever held public office. Does this present man, now that the great opportunity has passed, turn over and over in his mind a parody of Vachel Lindsay’s greatest lines, “Sleep softly, partridge forgotten, under the red tape”?
What about the living man, the man who committed the act, who was our unbloodied hand? Let us not forget that society does not kill the criminal, some single actual man does it — not for an abstract society, but for you and me separately and severally.
And us, you and me, finally, who choose the easy way out when the way of responsibility and love is too difficult? We are the ones who suffer permanently in gas chambers and on gallows as long as they endure. The victims are soon dead. The most heart-rending words in the chanting of the Passion in the Catholic Church in Holy Week are not “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” but three terrible syllables, in answer to the question, “Shall I let this just man go, or shall I give you the robber Barrabas?” and the people answered, you and I answered, “Barrabas.”
Vengeance is sweeter than justice, and easier to come by, but it is deadly and certain poison.
(Kenneth Rexroth, May 15, 1960)
My latest article is about disability hate crime. It speaks of those who commit it, those who stand for it and those who don't. Not only with Donald Trump on the campaign trail last year, but also with the fine, upstanding people at Mendocino County's only high power public radio station today — KZYX: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bxf2TM2uxGxFVUlzS19wTDRSeDQ/view?usp=sharing
Scott M. Peterson, Mendocino