Off the Record
by AVA News Service, May 26, 2010
YOU WON'T want to miss this one. On Friday, June 11th, Department G in the County Courthouse, Mr. Dennis Boaz takes on Paul Tichinin and four other Mendocino County school superintendents who accused Mr. Boaz of racism. Mr. Boaz, you may recall, was denounced as a racist by our county's school administrators when Boaz, a teacher's union rep, in a letter to Ukiah school authorities, described the Ukiah district's negotiating stance as “negative and niggardly.” Ukiah's school chief is black. She was not offended, probably because she's literate and knows what niggardly means. But Tichinin, who is not literate and happens to function as Mendocino County's lead educator at $120,000 a year, quickly and publicly denounced Boaz's use of the N-Word. Which Boaz had not deployed. Several other intellectuals serving as local school superintendents signed Tichinin's letter. Mr. Boaz has rightly sued the five oafs for libel in small claims court, and you can see the whole hilarious show for yourself on Friday, June 11th.
WE'VE RUN out of room for election letters, and never did have room for the denunciations of Sgt. Greg Van Patten coming in from all over the country in the wake of the 20-20 television show last week on the Vargas case. Van Patten told the national viewing audience that Aaron Vargas's dispatch of Darryl McNeill in 2008 may have been the result of a “lover's quarrel.” It seems like half the country is now on Van Patten's case. Vargas says he shot McNeill because McNeill had molested him when he was a child. In the shooting's aftermath, several Fort Bragg men came forward to say that McNeill had also molested them. Persons related to some of these men claim they reported McNeill to the police but the police failed to act. It is not clear if the alleged complaints were lodged with the Fort Bragg Police or the Mendocino County Sheriff's Department, both it seems. It has also become known that Vargas, as an adult, continued his relationship with McNeill. Who knows the confusion that lurks in the human heart, eh compadres?
IT'S NOT CREDIBLE that the police would not move on a molest complaint. Quick case in point: Years ago, when my daughter was about 9, she came home from her friend's house down the street here in Boonville. I was reading and not paying a lot of attention to her, but I could tell something was bothering her. Suddenly she said, “Do you think Mr. So and So should be walking around naked when I'm at So and So's house?” I went on red alert. “No, he should not be walking around naked and you're not going over there ever again.” I called deputy Squires about it. Squires said the cops knew Mr. Walk Around Naked In Front of Little Kids and, worse, they knew he was molesting his daughters but, neither the perv's wife nor the kids would testify against him. No testimony no arrest no case. I'll bet something like that happened with McNeill's victims. I'll also bet Van Patten knows a lot more about the case than he can talk about, and I'll bet he regrets talking to the tv cameras at all. Who knows what kind of sound bite edit job they did on him?
20-20 HAD called me, of all people. They wanted me to drive to Fort Bragg to comment on the case. I said No Bloody Way. That's all Fort Bragg needs is me on national television spouting off about a case I know very little about. I did talk with the producer for quite a while after I nominated Vern Piver to talk about Fort Bragg on the show. Vern would be great, I said. He can talk and he knows everybody and everything about the place. I told the producer that I, and my hard-hitting writers, had done lots of Fort Bragg stories over the years but I live an hour away, and anyway I didn't have anything special to offer. To me, I said, Fort Bragg, much as I love the place, is kind of like that old tv show, Twin Peaks, always odd and faintly menacing, with a strong under-current of violence. “Oh!” the producer gasped, “That's perfect! Won't you reconsider?”
GOING UNMENTIONED during the County’s sludgelike “consideration” of privatizing its solid waste disposal services is the historical animosity between the County’s new Garbage Czar, Mike Sweeney, and the only real option for privatization: Jerry Ward, president of Solid Wastes of Willits. (Last year the Board of Supervisors decided to eliminate the Solid Waste Division of the Transportation Department and turn it all over to Sweeney.) Negotiations between the County and Mr. Ward being so far unrevealed, there’s a very good chance that “issues” imposed by the self-interested Sweeney will continue to dog the privatization process. If privatization is in fact the goal here. If it is, the capable Ward is much more likely to move County trash much more expeditiously and inexpensively than Sweeney. In the late 90s, we will recall, Supervisor Pinches, in his first term, uncovered a series of memos from Mike Sweeney to then-Supervisor Richard Shoemaker, outlining schemes to make Ward look bad. Sweeney and Shoemaker wanted to develop a tax-funded transfer station near the railroad tracks at the “Forks” north of Ukiah, a location that would have worked to the private financial advantage of S&S. It’s hard to imagine that Ward and Sweeney have put this all behind them, especially given Sweeney's psychotic, Queeg-like personality and his personal history of violence all the way back to his days as a Stanford cult communist with Venceremos.
FOR THE PRESENT, Supervisor John McCowen, a long time Sweeney front man, and John Pinches, have been appointed to a special “ad-hoc committee” which is supposed to “resolve the outstanding issues” with the contract and bring it back to the board. McCowen suggested the ad-hoc committee, saying, “It's clear we're not going to resolve the issue today.”
COMPLICATING MATTERS is the County’s employees’ union reps who are understandably skeptical of garbage privatization, even though Ward has promised to hire all the County employees at the same level of salary and benefits. Now that the contract — and here is where we detect the obsessively detailed hand of Mike Sweeney, similar to (the hundreds of pages of pot dispensary regulations jointly (sic) drafted by Sweeney and McCowen — is up to 270 pages, the Union wants more time to review the particulars especially since it would have a 15 year duration. And Ward says that he needs to invest in (i.e., borrow) various upgrades in the trash handling infrastructure which would require a long-term contract to be able to guarantee loan repayment.
LOOKS LIKE we were wrong about the permit amnesty program. We thought there would be zero residential applications. But Planning Director Nash Gonzalez told Board of Supervisors last week that he had received 34 permit amnesty applications and seven of them were for single family residences! Not only that but in the last few weeks there’s been “more and more activity”!
FROM MONDAY'S (24 May) SF CHRON: “Porn talk: Just when you thought it couldn't get any stranger, the weirdness intensifies over at the San Francisco Planning Department, where an investigation involving the exchange of joke-filled X-rated images and videos has already cost four higher-ups their jobs. City officials continue to interview each of the 30 or so staffers whose office computers were found to contain the offending material. Meanwhile, officials in Mendocino and Marin counties and in the city of Willits (Mendocino County) are investigating whether porn was being swapped among their planning staffers as well. Two senior Mendocino County planners have been fired so far. In San Francisco, three of the four top targets — including veteran Zoning Administrator Larry Badiner — have cleared out their desks and are gone. (Badiner has denied circulating the material himself and is fighting to get reinstated.) Planning deputy Craig Nikitas — who insiders say has accepted responsibility for his role in circulating the X-rated material — opted to resign, effective June 30. So why did Planning Director John Rahaim announce to just about everyone's amazement that Nikitas had been temporarily named acting zoning administrator? “To be clear, it's not a promotion,” Rahaim said. He told us that Nikitas has been the stand-in for years whenever the zoning administrator wasn't available. In any case, he says, it's just until this week, when a new acting administrator takes over. Nikitas did not return our calls seeking comment.”
DESCRIBING the porn-related emails that County Code Enforcement Officer John Heise is alleged to have sent to co-workers and was unceremoniously fired for, County Employees Union rep Jackie Carvallo, calling Porn Gate an “unfortunate incident,” declared, “Mr. Heise only sent three emails in three years. If you're setting the precedent that that rises to the level of termination, that's a concern for me because you'd practically have to fire everybody in the county. I really think it's excessive for the actual offense. John volunteered for what he thought was a reasonable suspension. No questions asked. He admitted his culpability in the matter and we think a suspension is more fair, so that's what we're going to fight for for him.”
CARVALLO also described the County employee morale these days as “the lowest I've ever seen it.”
THE WILLITS ANGLE? A usually reliable source tells us that the stuff was sent to City computers in the hopes of luring a well-known staffer there to participate in the on-line voyeurism. He declined. Willits is not involved.
SENIOR DA INVESTIGATOR Kevin Bailey has confirmed to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat what we'd reported the week before, that the County is asking Mendo law enforcement to take a 24% pay cut. We’ve heard numbers like 20% or 30%, not that any cut has been given the slightest consideration by the cops. “I don't know anyone in the association who can take a 24% pay cut and keep their homes,” said Bailey, adding that it looks to him like county negotiators are asking law enforcement to take more than their fair share of cuts. Sheriff Allman says he’s already done a lot to reduce expenditures, but revenues are declining faster than his economies. The police association has unanimously rejected appeals that it take pay cuts, Bailey said. Bailey said it appears that county negotiators are asking for a big cut in hopes they’ll get half of big. Bailey added, somewhat ominously, that County officials have declared an impasse, meaning the County can simply impose the salary cuts without the association's approval. And since cops are emergency responders and legally can’t strike, Bailey said if the County imposed cuts we'd see a mass exodus of cops outtahere. “I can tell you I would leave,” Bailey said.
A READER self-identified as “Comptche Catholics” writes: “Are you kidding, Bruce? Not only does Comptche still put on a passion play, they leave their crucifixes up for over a month. Well, if they are still up Friday night, I invite everyone to a good old-fashioned Catholic crucifixion vampire party. Bring your own blood — midnight out there on Crucifix Hill. Kegger provided. See you all there.”
A SUNDAY CALLER URGED, “Quick! Turn on KZYX. Annie Esposito and Dennis Bernstein are talking about the Bari case.” I was listening to the Giant's game and writing a story, two-step multi-tasking, I guess you could call it, working to the very max of my limited abilities. “Thanks for the heads-up,” I said to the caller “but I'm sticking with the Giants.” Other calls and e-mails said KPFA was also playing three hours of Bari tributes orchestrated by that station's “investigative reporter,” Dennis Bernstein. I didn't have to listen. I knew it was the usual Kim Il Sung-like affair that “free speech” radio does these days.
NOT THAT The Diva of Dissent didn't have her virtues. She did briefly mobilize improbable platoons of fagged-out old hippies, free-range radicals, numerous rural lunatics, and even a few respectable environmentalists, shoving this amorphous mob in the direction of the timber corporations then looting the Northcoast. For about three months in 1990 it looked like something might be happening, and it was definitely Judi Bari making it happen. Then the bomb — undoubtedly the work of Judi Bari's former husband — exploded in her car and, from 1990 until her slow-motion death in 1997 from the lingering effects of the blast, her cause was herself. The timber corporations? They mopped up and were outtahere, replaced by the wine industry whose environmental crimes exceed the worst clearcut L-P ever got away with. There's zero environmental opposition to the booze business, and I think that fact can be attributed to social class, in that enviros and the wine mobs are cut from the same social mold.
THERE'S NEVER BEEN much intelligent life at KZYX, but skepticism used to be prevalent at KPFA where, these days, it's all received opinion — that and daily recitations of a pseudo-left catechism heavy on identity politics. And hagiography. Audio water-boarding by wall-to-wall nutballs. The Bari tributes were typical of contemporary KPFA. Of course, given the givens of today's Pacifica Network, the Bari phenomenon will not, can not, mention who she really was and who might have bombed her.
RIGHT ABOUT NOW, if not at the first kryptonite-like mention of the dread surname Bari in the opening para, you're saying, “Here he goes again. Time to scroll down to other matters.” I can't blame you, but on the off chance you're offended by the most recent deluge of pure bullshit from the Bari Cult, here's a few facts you'll never hear from the Pacifica Network's great speakers-of-truth-to-power: Judi Bari was a rich kid who grew up in Silver Springs, Maryland. Her origins were not blue collar. Her mother was a mathematician at John Hopkins University, her father a highly skilled diamond cutter. The senior Baris had been communists, as Judi became, as her husband Mike Sweeney also became. A red diaper baby, Bari learned early the organizing tactics of Uncle Joe and never had any trouble manipulating the feeble thought processes of her adult acolytes, whom she routinely described as “idiots.”
FACT TWO: Very soon after the bombing, Bari's attorney, the late Susan Jordan of Ukiah, went to the FBI to apply for limited immunity from prosecution for Bari. The FBI said No because Bari was a suspect in the crime. Jordan was subsequently removed as Bari's attorney for asking the obvious one too many times, “How about the ex-husband here?” That ex-husband was Mike Sweeney, presently authorized to carry a concealed weapon as he functions as Mendocino County's lead garbage bureaucrat. Sweeney has a history of violence all the way back to his Stanford undergraduate days when he belonged to a group of pipe bomb lunatics inspired by a lion of the English Department called H. Bruce Franklin. The always malleable and preciously PC Dennis Cunningham became Bari's attorney. Cunningham could be depended on to do what he was told. He did, and picked up some nice dough doing it. (America is the only place in the world where you can be weally, weally wadical and get rich too.)
FACT THREE: A libel case against the FBI and the Oakland Police Department was mounted by Bari and the egregious Darryl Cherney. Bari and Cherney said they'd been libeled. The Bari Cult raised more than a million totally unaccounted for dollars from the coast-to-coast saps to prosecute the case which, of course, was carefully co-edited by the co-dependent Government and Bari's legal team to exclude all mention of who did it and why. Bari and Cherney said if they won the suit they'd put up a reward for the bomber. They won, no reward was posted. The money, $4.4 million, went to lawyers and Bari's already wealthy daughters and Darryl Cherney. (Cherney then bought himself a pot farm outside Garberville.) In the old days on KPFA all of this would get a thorough airing. These days all you get is non-profit hustlers like Dennis Bernstein promoting for-profit scams.
THE BAY AREA Independent Publishers Association has rightly recognized Todd Walton's “Under The Table Books: A Novel of Stories” as Best Fiction of the Year. Todd also racked up a well-deserved Best Short Stories award for “Buddha in a Teacup: Tales of Enlightenment.”
JEFF LUSTIG's latest book, “Remaking California: Reclaiming the Public Good” with the views of Barry Keene; Kevin Starr, Dan Walters among others, kicks around The State Collapse, and kicks it around in eminently readable form.
THE MENDOCINO COUNTY chapter of the National Women's Political Caucus (NWPC) is really Val Muchowski and Joe Louis Wildman. Wildman is the NWPC guy in the dress. The NWPC says it “is dedicated to increasing women’s participation in the political process and creating a women's political power base to achieve equality for all women. The NWPC recruits, trains, and supports women candidates for elected office at all levels of government regardless of party affiliation.”
HAR DE HAR. In living fact, the NWPC is yet another front for Northcoast Democrats, Thompson-Chesbro Franchise. And the NWPC is not friendly to women that Val and Joe view as hostile to Clinton-Obama corporatism or, if you prefer, Flab Glab Lib Lab-ism. Promises from the two-person bi-gender NWPC that they're non-partisan are as false as an Obama press release promising to get out of Afghanistan. Val and Joe would never endorse a female Republican. They won't even endorse female Democrats if they view that female as not one of them — a middle of the road extremist. It's no surprise then that Wendy Roberts, a Democrat, and a member of the local NWPC, and a candidate for supervisor did not get Val and Joe's phony baloney NWPC endorsement. Val and Joe didn't endorse anyone in the 5th, although they're supporting Jim Mastin, a loyal Democrat . They would have supported Dan Hamburg if he hadn't gone over to the Greens, and they would have supported Norman deVall if Norm was quicker to love Wes and Mike and Nancy and Dianne and Hillary and the rest of the entrenched apparat that has brought America to where it is — its knees. Val and Joe did, however, endorse Holly Madrigal over Tony Orth and John Pinches in the 4th District.
IN SLACK MOMENTS I like to see if I can get a rise out of the spammers. I replied to a particularly offensive one Monday from Tom Mueller, Press Officer, British Petroleum America. Mueller was speaking for the people who have just destroyed the entire Gulf Coast, His e-mail began, “BP pledges $500 million for independent research into impact of spill on marine environment.” I immediately hit reply: “The honorable thing for you people to do at this point is ritual suicide on international television.” And darned if this guy didn't have the nerve to instantly come back with, “Who do you write for, Bruce?” I again smashed my reply key: I'm the Boonville correspondent for the New York Times. If you promise to use it on yourself, Tom, I'll lend you my gun.” I guess that was it. British Petroleum surrendered.