Off the Record (May 31, 2017)

by AVA News Service, May 31, 2017

BILL ZIMMERMAN is to me what Mike Sweeney is to the editor of the AVA.

Zimmerman is quoted in an op-ed in today's New York Times by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick plugging their upcoming PBS documentary on the War in Vietnam.

As the antiwar activist Bill Zimmerman told us, “People who supported the war were fond of saying ‘My country, right or wrong,’ ” but the war’s critics didn’t “want to live in a country that we’re going to support whether it’s right or wrong. So we began an era where two groups of Americans, both thinking that they were acting patriotically, went to war with each other.”

Zimmerman is the Santa Monica p.r. man funded by George Soros and other enlightened billionaires in 1996  to replace Dennis Peron as manager of the Proposition 215 campaign. But Peron became the focus of the campaign when his San Francisco Cannabis Buyers' Club was raided and closed on August 4 by Attorney General Dan Lungren's Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement. A week of Doonesbury strips defended the SFCBC, Lungren held a press conference to attack Peron and Doonesbury, Garry Trudeau weighed in with another week of SFCBC strips in October, and Prop 215 won 55-45 over the opposition of everybody in government except Terence Hallinan.

After 215 passed, legalizing marijuana for medical use, Zimmerman had kind words for Attorney General Lungren's "narrow interpretation" of the new law. You can look it up in the Sacramento Bee, December 4, 1996.

So I read his quote in today's NYT most critically.

I never ever heard anyone say "My country right or wrong." It sounds like a line from a whole 'nother era.  But I think he's right that patriotism was a factor for antiwar activists who gained consciousness as World War Two was ending. (I can remember the day FDR died.) In the '50s we assumed that the colonies fighting for independence were righteous and that the US military-industrial complex should not be maintaining or imposing Empire anywhere in the world. We saw the fight of Vietnamese nationalists against the French as an extension of their/our WWII fight against the Japanese. We sensed that the effort to impose Empire would destroy the US economically and as a republic. Our dismay was not unpatriotic.

I've learned a lot from Ken Burns documentaries over the years and the upcoming 10-parter on the Vietnam war by him and Novick is must-see TV. But today's op-ed is misleading, projecting an image of conflict between duty-bound GIs and a civilian peace movement. Here's the context of the Zimmerman quote:

"If we are to begin the process of healing, we must first honor the courage, heroism and sacrifice of those who served and those who died, not just as we do today, on Memorial Day, but every day.

As filmmakers, we have tried to do so by listening to their stories. “It’s almost going to make me cry,” another Army veteran, Vincent Okamoto, told us, remembering the infantry company he led in Vietnam in 1968.  “Nineteen-year-old high school dropouts from the lowest socioeconomic rung of American society,” he remembered. “They weren’t going be rewarded for their service in Vietnam. And yet, their infinite patience, their loyalty to each other, their courage under fire, was just phenomenal. And you would ask yourself: How does America produce young men like this?”

While Mr. Okamoto and hundreds of thousands of other soldiers were fighting and dying overseas, hundreds of thousands of other Americans were taking to the streets to protest a war they believed was not only not in our country’s best interest, but immoral and unjust. As the antiwar activist Bill Zimmerman told us, “People who supported the war were fond of saying ‘My country, right or wrong,’ ” but the war’s critics didn’t “want to live in a country that we’re going to support whether it’s right or wrong. So we began an era where two groups of Americans, both thinking that they were acting patriotically, went to war with each other.”

Sometimes I think there is a Great Playwright in the sky who has a farcical sense of humor. Why else would he name the slickest spinmeister and the bravest truth-teller of our time 'B. Zimmerman' and plunk them both down in Santa Monica?

(— Fred Gardner)

Bob Zimmerman, Bill Zimmerman

AS FOR PEOPLE who have bought protection from pot raids via the Mendo pot licensing process, we find Mr. Stuart Bewley at his 14,000-acre Adanac Ranch northeast of Laytonville, granted gro permits he did not qualify for last year when he lied about previous gros he did not grow. And this year the wine cooler magnate, having fully paid thousands for another round of permits, is busily bulldozing his ranch to install a virtual hoop house village. How this guy is getting over should be seriously investigated, but this is Mendocino County, and you tell me the last time a wealthy person found himself sitting at the defense table in the Mendocino County Courthouse.

A YOUNG FAMILY MAN named Blake Vande Bunte has been hired as principal at Point Arena High School. According to the Gualala-based Independent Coast Observer, "Vande Bunte plans to make another short two-day trip to Point Arena soon to look for a house with his wife and newborn. 'I've got three little kids,' he said. 'That's kind of been on the forefront (sic) right now.'"

TURN BACK, young man before it’s too late! Matt Murray and his young family were lured to Point Arena a few years ago, and Murray not only retrieved PA elementary from the very pits of academic failure in a mere year on the job but, as reward for his miracle-working, Murray was then fired because the core group of his lazy staff complained to PA's weak and treacherous superintendent about Murray's unreasonable demand of them that they do a honest day's work. Mark Iacuanicello, then the district's superintendent, had assured Murray he was happy with his work, had his back and so on and then, supported by PA's eternally incompetent, cowardly and bone dumb trustees, sacked Murray, who'd already bought a home in the fog belt and had settled in.

THE ICO quotes one of the stumbling district's eternal trustees, Jim DeWilder, that the new guy isn't "walking into a bed of roses."

WE WROTE of the Murray debacle at the time: Murray was hired as Point Arena Elementary School principal based on a stellar record in Long Beach. He had successfully lifted the historically troubled Point Arena from state probation. The Superintendent told Murray that Murray would have his full support for whatever was necessary to improve PA's educational results.

Then he was fired.

Behind closed doors.

With no fair hearing, no due process, no nothing. Even though Murray asked that his entire situation be handled by the Superintendent and the Board in public.

Except.

Except Superintendent Mark Iacuaniello's demand of his captive school board, in writing no less, that either Matt Murray went or he went.

The Point Arena School Board chose Iacuaniello over the welfare of their Elementary students after the teachers union went directly to the Superintendent complaining that he was making them work too hard and they didn’t like his style.

Murray’s contract with the coastal school district was terminated at a fall 2006 school board meeting during which Point Arena's School Board announced Murray’s dismissal before taking public comment and without considering a petition by more than 300 voters, many of them parents of Murray’s students, who wanted Murray to remain principal.

Murray sued but he had to prove actual malice on the part of Iacuaniello. After several weeks of trial in Mendocino County Superior Court, which exposed PA's trustees and the oleaginous Iacuaniello as the back-stabbing cowards they were, Murray couldn't quite prove all the legal elements of his allegations and lost his case.

Murray's reputation was ruined in Mendocino County and he left for a better position in Idaho, after being forced to sell the house at a big loss that he'd bought because he thought he had a long-term position.

EXHIBIT A: WHY MENDO IS BROKE

Top Mendo Pensioners (Over $70k per year)

  1. Meredith J Ford, 2014, $138,021.81
  2. Anthony J Craver, 2005, $133,223.88
  3. Hans Peter Klein, 2005, $121,845.45
  4. David A Bengston, 2009, $118,385.58
  5. Ronald E Welch, 2010, $114,613.62
  6. Donald L Miller, 2007, $111,573.33
  7. Phillip L Pintane, 2008, $107,852.76
  8. Susana J Wilson, 2010, $106,650.30
  9. Steven B Satterwhite, $2007, $104,985.69
  10. Robert G Mcalister, 2005, $102,120.72
  11. Dennis Huey, 2007, $101,779.02
  12. Timothy M Kiely, $2014, $98,366.64
  13. Steven J Prochter, 2008,$98, 232.24
  14. Kevin J Broin, 2012, $98,151.00
  15. James R Noe, 2011, $98,140.26
  16. C F Campbell, 1997, $97,152.84
  17. James O Brown, 2013, $92,681.37
  18. Barry R Little, 2010, $89,262.30
  19. Sharon M Hunt, 2013, $86,890.53
  20. Donald J Miller, 2007, $84,926.79
  21. Timothy J Knudsen, 2007, $82,697.88
  22. Timothy J Marsh, 2015, $82,367.29
  23. Carol L Whittingslow, 2008, $81,269.52
  24. Sandra L Brown, 2011, $80,539.02
  25. Peter W Halstad, 2006, $78,440.97
  26. William R Leach, 2011, $77,740.74
  27. John D Bushnell, 2012, $77,620.41
  28. Frank H Rakes, 2005, $76,586.46
  29. Raymond W Hall, 2008, $75,379.83
  30. Marsha Wharff, 2008, $75,367.17
  31. Dennis G Lucido, 2008, $75,206.88
  32. Duane K Wells, 1991, $73,593.90
  33. Gene Degeyter, 2001, $73,496.10
  34. Michael T Melvin, 2006, $73,131.39
  35. David Basner, 2010, $73,130.31
  36. Laurence L McCarthy, 2005, $72,896.43
  37. James M Andersen, 2012, $72,841.92
  38. Keith S Squires, 2015, $72,841.20
  39. Mack E Ford, 2003, $72,643.56
  40. Linda B Nagel, 2012, $71,505.75
  41. Gregory W Sager, 2009, $71,298.81
  42. David A Koppel, 2008, $70,742.79
  43. Myra Drury, 2012, $70,137.63

FROM AN AP story on pot last week, “…In Mendocino County, where pot farming is big business and violent crimes are often tied to the crop, District Attorney C. David Eyster said he fights any case not eligible for a reduction, such as applicants with a major felony in their past, a sex offense or two previous convictions for the same crime. He said he would also fight a reduction if someone is caught cultivating weed while committing an environmental crime, such as stealing or polluting water. Otherwise — in a quirk that has some in law enforcement baffled — someone caught with two plants or 2,000 would both face a misdemeanor. “This is one of those areas where size doesn’t matter,” Eyster said.

VETS FOR PEACE restored a 1950 Quaker sailing boat that famously challenged nuke testing in the Pacific. She's called The Golden Rule and she's coming to Noyo next month where dinner at The Wharf with the crew on Thursday, June 13 @ 6:00 PM - 8:30 PM is available to one and all.

“Join the Golden Rule crew and shore support for dinner and drinks at 6 pm followed by presentations at 7 pm. We’ll share the history of the Golden Rule Peace Boat and discuss nuclear issues today, including Fukushima and the United Nations Nuclear Weapons Ban negotiations. We are very grateful to Silver’s at The Wharf for their generous contribution of a dock, hotel room and event space in the restaurant. The Golden Rule will be moored right at The Wharf.”

THE SUPERVISORS LAST WEEK:

Sheriff Allman: I would like to welcome the newest supervisor [Speaking to newly seated Third District Supervisor Georgeanne Croskey]. Thank you for your public service. And for coming to work for the county at a salary that is not something that people would be busting down the door to get. But it's appreciated that you are ready to give energy to the citizens, and intelligence to the citizens, be fair with the citizens, and make sure the citizens understand your answers whether they agree with it or not. Just tell them the answer. That's what taxpayers want. And that's what I hope we will continue to see from your peers which they are very good at doing. I had to make an out-of-town trip this afternoon regarding item 5.b. So I would like to merely make a comment. With marijuana the Sheriff's office is the number one complaint driven agency whether it’s agriculture doing the permit process, it's our dispatchers, our deputy sheriffs, or it's me who receive the comments from the citizens. As you are talking about zoning and as you are talking about how marijuana and cannabis impact our community, I would like to remind you that backyard grows create crime. Backyard grows create vulnerable situations for innocent people. I can certainly go down the list of innocent people who have not had marijuana on their property but the bad guys have mistakenly believed they did and it has stricken our county. Instead of allowing emotions of potential growers to drive the conversation, I would like to remind you that the vast majority of Mendocino County citizens support clear zoning laws, clear and decisive and clear to understand ordinances that the Sheriff's office can interpret because while we are the ones who receive the complaints, we are also the ones who give advice on how not to create a nuisance in the community, whether it's a town meeting and so forth. I'll be out of town, I wish I was here for the day, but please keep in mind the Sheriff's office perspective on this. No ambiguity in marijuana. That's where we lead down a path of confusion, anger and distrust of government.

NOTE TO SHERIFF: Supervisor pay and emoluments is more than twice that of the average Mendo working person.

Supervisor Croskey’s first statement as a supervisor was a question addressed to the Health & Human Services bosses. The H&H ladies were talking about their employee survey showing that the County’s helpers are relatively inexperienced because of high turnover and brief stays in county employment.  Croskey asked, “Are you doing or planning to do surveys for the people who have decided not to come to the county to work or the people who are leaving the job as far as the reason why they are? I didn't see anything in there as to why people are leaving the jobs.”

HHSA Director Tammy Moss Chandler and Assistant Director Anne Molgaard said they were doing exit interview reviews now but, Chandler said, “We have had a harder time trying to figure out why people didn't accept a job. We’ve heard anecdotally that some people have said that the process takes too long and they've taken another job in the meantime. But that is just anecdotal. We have been doing exit interviews as to why people are leaving. But we don't have a consolidated report yet summarizing all the reasons why. But I believe they are similar to some of the reasons you're seeing in the survey.”

MOLGAARD: added, “There are two reasons, salary and stress. And then there are 50 other reasons that are individual to that employee — life changes and other things. The exit interviews are voluntary. They don't have to tell us. So far it's been stress and salary and a bunch of other things.”

SUPERVISOR CROSKEY asked about the draft of the pot regs which were then discussed at tedious length with the three or four staffers developing the regs. No decisions were made, staff was supposed to somehow boil the muddled discussion down to a few minor tweaks to the draft and come back again.  Typical of the pot business license discussion was the head of a pin discussion as to whether extracting concentrate pot from pot plants with alcohol instead of butane was considered "volatile." No one seemed to know.

TIM BLAKE came to public attention several years ago when he organized the first Emerald Cup at the dusty foot of Spy Rock Road north of Laytonville known as Area 101. Blake has since gone on to become Mr. Emerald Triangle, a ubiquitous (and wealthy) pot festival organizer whose cannabis contests soon outgrew the grungy premises of Area 101 for the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. Blake will convene yet another stoner festival in July at Wavy Gravy's Black Oak Ranch. Gravy, a varsity hippie who parlayed a revoltingly smarmy flower child act into a kind of national fame, is also a ground-floor Mendo pot guy who recycled his drug fortune into a sixty acre "collective" near Laytonville, now the site of music festivals and Blake's latest production.

"THE FOCUS of the three-day festival and cannabis market is to create ‘a unified community of organic cannabis farmers and wellness enthusiasts, combining industry education with a variety of experiences for the “cannabis tribe’, according to organizers, which will include Emerald Cup founder Tim Blake, with the help of high-powered music management and event production company, Red Light Management…"

O HELL YEAH. It's all about “community” and “wellness,” two words that always translate as Money. Gotta hand it to Blake, though, instead of moving dope he's made a much safer fortune just talking about it.

ASSUMING the meeting will lead to the preservation of the fine murals at the Ukiah Fairgrounds, the fair's board of directors is having second thoughts about painting them over. Mendocino County's cultural legacy being as skimpy as it is, the artifacts we do have should be treasured, not blithely destroyed by temporary officeholders who can't appreciate them. A Ukiah man, William French, has led the charge to save the murals, and all praise to him.

A COUPLE of weeks ago, my old friend, Tom Hine, aka Tommy Wayne Kramer, got off a bilious and uninformed column for the Ukiah Daily Journal called, "Jim Jones’s Socialist Utopia: All equal, impoverished or dead."

TWK and I go back to fast pitch softball in Cloverdale, circa 1972 . I want to state clearly and for the record that there were no communists and only one socialist in that league at that time. There were prodigious beer drinkers and pot smokers, and never a political word was heard.

I WAS and am the softball socialist, which, I add with a haughty huff, I feel no need to explain or defend other than to say the term is synonymous with misunderstanding, deliberate misunderstanding in TWK's case because he isn't a dummy.

IF IT weren't for socialists children would still be working in coal mines and TWK would not be cashing his social security checks and Medicare wouldn't be paying for his doctor's visits. Anybody out there want to give it up? Thank FDR and his socialist New Deal advisors back when there was still a Democratic Party.

TWK was ignited by reading “The Road to Jonestown” by Jeff Guinn. I read the same book. TWK came away taking the lunatic's self-description that the worst thing about Jones was his "socialism." I came away from the same book with the same opinion of Jones that I had before I read the book — that Jones was a drugged out criminal lunatic who called himself a socialist because, in his amphetamine-driven head, it aggrandized him as a great opponent of capitalism and champion of the poor. Which, in fact, he was before the speed got him. And, given the times — the late sixties into the middle 70s — it was fashionable to be in opposition to everything. All kinds of demagogues were stomping around in leather jackets calling themselves revolutionary socialists, as just as many more people were weekend hippies. It was all costume show, all cool, all part of the zeitgeist.

ONE MORE TIME: Socialism is not the same thing as communism, especially communism of the Lenin type. Bernie Sanders is not Pol Pot or Fidel Castro or Mao Tse Tung. Mendocino County's pioneer tweaker, Jones, was simply a nut with the gift of gab who called his robbery of dependent persons and exploitation of credulous lawyers like Tim Stoen "socialism" because, to the fashion-driven sectors of the population in those days, that made Jones much cooler, more sophisticated than the acquisitive faith healer he in fact was.

AS AMERICA CAREENS politically rightward with catastrophic results for everyday citizens — cf. Trump's proposed budget — the opposition will be called socialists on the safe assumption that to millions of people socialism is what TWK says it is — versions of Jim Jones.

WHAT IT IS, and what it has been in this country is Medicare and social security and, hopefully, single payer health insurance. Socialist ideas have a long and honorable tradition in America and characterize all the governments of Western Europe.

IF YOU WORK for wages and you aren't a socialist you are politically in opposition to yourself.

"TWK fears that ‘Bernie Sanders-type Socialist candidates will start sweeping onto ballots in the next few years.’ If so, Tom Hine asks what America will look like by 2040."

IT'LL LOOK a lot better than it does now, that's for sure.

SHEILA DAWN NOTES: “The Green Party of Mendocino County re-formed last Sunday. About 16 people attended including David Cobb from Humboldt Co. to help us reorganize. As our first action (after getting five volunteers to be on the Council) we are sending two delegates to the Green Party State Assembly which will be in Sacramento the weekend of June 16th thru the18th.”

THE MEAN STREETS of San Anselmo on a Saturday. I spent the day mostly readin’ and writin’, with time out for a movie, "Lovers," with my wife. She wanted to see it, I was apprehensive, and more apprehensive to see that the audience was mostly women. Not to be too big a Mr. Man, enemy of all things good and true, but the title and the gender composition of the audience foretold a painful two hours. But the movie was good, very good, and I recommend you see it. Earlier in the day, I picked up a free chair off the street. A lady walking her dog smiled and asked if she could help me load it, by which time macho senior elder already had the unreasonably heavy livingroom anchor up and in the bed of my truck. Marin people are always nice in a kind of "Sooooooo nice to see you" way. I told the dog lady that the chair would live happily ever after in Mendocino County where she was welcome to visit it if she ever came through Boonville, that we have a big fire pit out back rimmed with easy chairs off the street where we… She laughed, nervously, and walked on. Always wise to stick to the superficialities these days; anything beyond and people get scared, and here I was rattling on like a street nut.

ON LINE COMMENTS OF THE WEEK

(1) I recently watched some YouTube videos featuring some rather attractive young Cambodian farm women fishing – one totes two five gallon buckets and an adze. She uses the adze to damn up both ends of about 12 feet of paddy dike, then bails the water out until she can pick up the fish, eels, frogs, and snails revealed, and toss them in the other bucket. Meanwhile her sons are out hunting paddy rats with home-made spears. Back home, it all goes into the pot, along with rice and some greens. I suspect all the world’s bankers could be sent to Uranus, and their lifestyle wouldn’t change a whit. Well, maybe they wouldn’t have to worry about the cops kidnapping the women to force them to work in Nike garment factories.

(2) I think it’s only possible to see the future in general terms. For example, you only know you are in a drought, two or three years after it has started. Then is when you can point back and say yes, that’s when it began. Even then, you don’t know when it will end. Life is slippery that way, and it defies our attempts at predictions. All I can say is that for myself, considering what I have learned in my life, things do not look good for humanity in general. I also understand that the only things I can do to affect my life are the things that I do personally. If I lived at the foot of a dam, and I began to see cracks in the wall, I would probably move to higher ground, or at least buy some life preservers (joke). It’s up to each person to consider what’s going on, and to make whatever decisions they consider to be a reasonable response to what they think will happen. Some will make the right decisions, and some will have guessed wrong, and some will be completely unprepared. Life is a motherfucker, and it comes at you full speed. Bless us all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *