Off the Record

by AVA News Service, June 25, 2010

OUR MISSING NEWSPAPERS suddenly appeared exactly seven days after all 34 bags went missing. The Post Office from Cloverdale to Petaluma says it's mystified, but obviously someone somewhere found them and someone somewhere should be held accountable for losing them in the first place. I've written a whining letter of complaint to the Postal Inspector's Office in San Francisco, and I've begun to fill out the stack of claim forms in what will be a vain attempt to get my money back for the extra print run we had to pay for when it seemed that issue might be lost forever. I could probably hold up the Boonville Post Office around closing time when they might have my $500, but I know I'd be recognized and I'm too old to go to jail — it's too noisy and I'd miss the rest of baseball season although the company is lively. Most of you, by now, are all caught up, and that's it. I'll let you know what the Post Office does with my claim. I expect them to send me a laugh track tape. “Dear Mr. Anderson: Har de har, har har.....”

ONE OF THE MOST OFFENSIVE press releases I've seen lately wafted in out of cyber-space Monday morning. It was from Sonoma County Democrats, professional officeholders like Noreen Evans and professional ocean savers like Richard Charter. I seem to be the only one still around who remembers when the Democrats co-opted ocean saving, doing an end around the local people then agitating for permanent ocean sanctuary. The Democrats quickly came out for year-to-year ocean protection from, especially, offshore oil exploration. Charter got himself a lucrative career annually saving the waters off the Northcoast, and the Democrats annually got their greenie tickets punched while, of course, continuing to take millions from the oil combines to keep their jive selves in national office.

THIRTY YEARS LATER, with Obama and the Democrats issuing weasel-lipped statements about how terrible the Gulf catastrophe is, our Democrats, the career hacks and hacketts “representing” the Northcoast, want us to gather at Bodega Bay where at noon we'll “join hands and form a line along the beach in solidarity with people around the world opposed to offshore oil drilling.” At 11:30, the press release tells us, a half hour before the mass hand-hold, “special speakers, including Assemblywoman Noreen Evans, and Richard Charter, Senior Policy Advisor for Marine Programs for Defenders of Wildlife plus other surprise guests” will stumble through a few paragraphs of tedious clichés about how committed they are to defense of the seas. So long as they get paid. The surprise guests are likely to be our mealy-mouthed congressman, Mike Thompson, and maybe even State Senator Wes Chesbro, a man never known to have missed a photo op.

ORDINARILY, I'm opposed to terrorism, but in Bodega Bay on Saturday, June 26th, with all these phonies in one place holding hands, and clear fields of fire from the bluffs, some alienated someone could do the world a heckuva a lot of good by......well, you know. But here's Thompson in a recent letter to the Chron, and last week we heard the same evasive, spine-free nonsense from the President:

“…I'M A STRONG SUPPORTER of renewable energy production and want our country to move as quickly as possible toward an economy based on renewable energy production and consumption. We need to be doubling down on our efforts to develop renewable energy technology, put these new innovations into operation and get as far away from oil as we can. My mention of the difficulty of raising the gas tax or any tax, for that matter, is just an honest dose of reality.”

AS IF BY GRASPING each other's pink, soft, acquisitive little hands, and thinking good thoughts and a massing of Somewhere Over The Rainbow we'll go from fossil fuels to renewables without taking on the oil companies and without new taxes to get US fromH here to renewable there. Obama and the Democrats haven't done one thing to get US off fossil fuel, and they're unlikely to do anything more than fatuous events like this Feeb-A-Thon in Bodega Bay.

THE DAMAGE CONTROL started the day after the news broke that Undersheriff Gary Hudson had been arrested for domestic violence by Ukiah Police last week. The Ukiah Police determined that Undersheriff Hudson was the “primary aggressor” in the incident, and that the woman was able to get a no-contact restraining order against Hudson, although “primary aggressor” suggests she and Gar went toe-to-toe. But after those basic facts, it was all mitigation. Nobody was quoted saying “We take domestic violence very seriously,” or how bad it looks to have the County’s Undersheriff charged with domestic violence, a guy who, to the swoons of Ukiah libs, once took the stage with a feather boa to recite his very own “vagina monologue.”

INSTEAD we got “Hudson came forward to Ukiah Police and volunteered information” and that the incident was just a “a verbal argument with a 49-year-old woman [which] became physical, resulting in a pushing/pulling match,” and “the woman, with whom he has a domestic relationship, had a scalp injury” [apparently because Hudson pulled some hair out] which “did not require medical treatment,” and that “Hudson has been an advocate for women and children,” and “He also has ‘an unblemished record,’ according to Sheriff Tom Allman,” “I was quite frankly shocked,” said former Supervisor candidate and former Ukiah mayor Jim Mastin. Ukiah Playhouse Theater co-founder Kate Magruder was quoted saying, “I've known him as an incredibly sensitive and generous and intelligent, thoughtful person. There obviously are things going on in his life that are overwhelming.”

GAWD. You'd have thought Hudson killed someone. You really have to wonder about the mental health of people who (1) get in violent arguments with their significant other and (2) get the police involved in episodes no more serious than a couple of scratches. If you videotaped these beefs you'd see that almost all the people involved are (1) morons and (2) they're arguing about stuff that a sober third grader would laugh at as ridiculous. Personal confession: I've had large women honking in my face a couple of times. If they'd been men I wouldn't have hesitated to blast them one right in their 400 pound snoots. Certain bullying females know they can get away with verbal assault, but even then you still have to walk away and stay away. You can't hit them. It isn't right. Lately, I see here in Mendocino County that more and more men are calling in their wives and girl friends for domestic violence even when El Wimpo hasn't been in any way injured. Because the lady throws a flashlight at you you call the cops? If she does a baseball bat on your head while you're asleep you've got a beef, but this petty stuff such as the altercation between Hudson and his “domestic partner” well, spare us all and keep it in the living room.

UNDERSHERIFF HUDSON was already on paid leave for health reasons. He had a heart attack last year and was off-duty for several months. After the arrest, Allman put Hudson on somewhat redundant “administrative leave.”

SHERIFF ALLMAN told the Independent Coast Observer that he was handling “the lion’s share” of Hudson’s duties while Hudson was on leave. Translation: Hudson doesn’t do anything anyway and his absence, if it was unpaid, would save enough money to retain two real deputies.

READERS may recall Hudson’s self-serving and gratuitous statement to the Board of Supervisors a few weeks ago in defense of himself and his fellow Mendo managers. “When you talk about cutting from the top down instead of the bottom up, please be careful because you do have job classifications and specifications that were created over a number of years … It sounds good in theory to leave line staff in place and cut middle managers or cut supervisors, but in practice it's very very difficult. The real charge for those of us responsible for making the organization wobble around is to find that appropriate mix. If we have to downsize, to find the appropriate configuration of line staff, first level supervision, management and upper management so that we can still provide the best quality services to the citizens of the County and yet also carry out our responsibilities to effectively manage the resources of our organization so that we can provide good information to you, to the Board, to our department heads, to the CEO and to the public. Please consider that rather than thinking in terms of just leaving line staff alone, finding the best way to meet as many needs as possible.”

IMAGINE, if you will, what would happen if a non-upper management staffer, uninsulated by PC credentials of the Project Sanctuary type, was charged with being the “primary aggressor” in a domestic abuse case. Let’s just say that the Sheriff probably would not roll out with comments about the person’s “unblemished record” even if he had one.

WHEN LAME-DUCK Supervisor David Colfax challenged Supervisor John McCowen to “put up or shut up” when McCowen said there were other cuts that could be made without whacking the Sheriff's Department, all McCowen could come up with was “departmental consolidation,” an examination of supervisor-to-staff ratios, and “we could make further cuts, severe cuts to travel budgets and other expense allowances.”

INSTEAD OF CITING the County Water Agency by name, McCowen mentioned “prior discussion of cutting a department head job to save about $120,000.” The County’s Water Agency might have been justifiable in well-funded years, but it is a luxury these days and wasn’t even created until 2000 anyway. After recent layoffs, $120k/year Water Agency Director Roland Sanford now only supervises two people, and they may have to be laid off soon if grant funding doesn’t come through. Sanford might be drawing his $120k while supervising only himself.

McCOWEN didn’t mention cutting a couple of attorneys in the County Counsel’s bloated six-person bad advice office. Nor did McCowen mention laying off any of the County’s high-paid senior staff. So, for now, it looks like Sheriff Allman will have to dig even deeper to fund his already reduced department at anywhere near current levels. “We're still going to see what we can do,” Allman told the Board. “I'm not out of ideas.”

THE GRAND JURY, meanwhile, blithely calls for the Sheriff and the County to spend more money on additional deputies, the jail, the Fort Bragg holding cell, the Sheriff’s stuffed-to-the-gills (with moldy marijuana) evidence room, and the Sheriff’s K-9 program, as if money is just sitting around for the taking. It might be possible to spend some asset forfeiture money on facility repairs, but so far the law is very explicit in prohibiting asset forfeiture money from being spent on law enforcement operations. And even if — a big IF — asset forfeiture money was spent on facility repairs, the general public wouldn’t see any benefit. Besides, lots of law enforcement people already have their hands in the asset forfeiture cookie jar, and they won’t easily let go of what they’re already getting.

WE WERE AMUSED to read a CHP press release last week about the CHP’s new “cellphone traffic update” app. Thanks to the CHP’s “app,” drivers can now use their cellphones to check on traffic conditions in areas they’re en route to. But — OOPS! — don’t use your cellphone while you’re driving! CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow cautioned that “state law prohibits motorists from reading, writing or sending text messages, or operating mobile computer devices while at the wheel of a moving car,” and, “Drivers should use the new service only when parked.”

THE ALCOHOL STING in Santa Rosa two weeks ago asked 22 random people to buy alcohol for an underage decoy. Nobody bit. All that entrapment effort for nothing. So they did it again last week. They got one (1) bite. The unidentified perp was described as an “unlicensed driver” whose car was towed and impounded. Translation: the only person the sting could snag was a recent Mexican immigrant who didn’t know any better.

FORT BRAGG ADVOCATE reporter Frank Hartzell has been looking into charges of Brown Act violations by the people running the Marine Life Protection Act. Hartzell reported last week that he asked the State Attorney General’s office how many times they have investigated or enforced a Brown Act or Open Meetings Act violation. Under state law, the Attorney General is responsible for enforcement for state agencies. County District Attorneys are responsible for County agencies. Hartzell got the following reply from Christine Gasparac, press secretary for Attorney General Jerry Brown: “On May 11, you inquired as to whether the Attorney General investigates violations or alleged violations of the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act and the Ralph M. Brown Act. After consulting our record indexes and knowledgeable persons within the office, we have been unable to locate any records concerning a civil or criminal enforcement action brought by this office to enforce either the Bagley-Keene Act or the Brown Act during the past 20 years.”

MENDOCINO COUNTY is not quite that bad, but still very bad. We are aware of two (2) such investigations by the Mendocino County District Attorney's office in the last 20 years. In one case in the 90s, DA Susan Massini looked into allegations that three supervisors drove together in the same car to Sacramento for a Department of Forestry meeting, thus constituting a public meeting quorum albeit a rolling one without much space for the interested public to observe from. Massini concluded that there had been no “intent to violate” the Open Meetings Act and no further action was taken. In a more recent case, then-Interim DA Beth Norman, in 2005, asked then-Assistant DA Keith Faulder to investigate a Brown Act violation by the Point Arena Unified School District involving the District’s underhanded dismissal of Point Arena Elementary Principal Matt Murray. Faulder’s investigation resulted in a mild “correct and cure” order to the fog belt school district which, via their high priced Santa Rosa attorney, they contested, as another large hunk of education money otherwise destined for the instruction of the young vanished into the private pockets of professional obfuscators. But that case was dropped the month following current DA Meredith Lintott’s election, and a few weeks after Lintott fired Faulder for running against her.

SOME PUBLIC AGENCIES do take the state’s open meetings requirements seriously and try to comply with Brown Act requirements, cumbersome as they can sometimes be. But not only is enforcement nearly non-existent, but closed session is routinely abused — especially by school boards — to hide their palsy walsy personnel practices from public view. Other “exceptions” to the Brown Act (not to mention court rulings that allow public agencies to declare controversial matters to be “privileged communications”) routinely abused are “pending litigation,” property negotiations, and labor negotiations. Lots of stuff can be slid into closed session under these vague categories if a board or agency really wants to deliberate in secret.

AL NEUMAN WRITES: “Well Jesus H. Christ! So we’ve got a (hopefully) forensic audit of the County Retirement System coming up, the never-ending merry-go-round with the pot “industry” and regulations, a proposed $23 million Grand Palace for our sadly ineffective MTA, and a majority of our Supervisors apparently guilty of petty theft. Throw in the bizarrely conceived Willits 101 bypass, and it’s almost enough to get your head spinning. Can’t wait for the next revelation.”

PEBBLES TRIPPET forwarded a Coast Listserve comment about the Vargas case, among it remarks by the Deepend Dreadnaught. The Major promptly informed Pebbles, “I don't do Anna Taylor,” which promptly inspired Pebbles to write:

i don't do anna taylor

the local coast wailer

she posts on the listserves each day

she's a crank and a pest

she shits in my nest

she simply will not go away

i don't do anna taylor

the local coast flailer

so yea! i walk away

THE MAJOR came right back with:

There once was a gal from Navarro

Who only brought sadness and sorrow

Ms's retort

Is cuz life is too short

To bother with more than tomorrow.

I hope that you're only joking

And that it's only fun that you're poking

Because if you think

That that poison I'll drink

Then I don't know what you are smoking.

AND PEBBLES poem-ed back:

Yes, I was joking.

It was prolly what I was toking.

Subjecting you to the negative — no way!

It is bright skies everyday.

THE MAJOR signed off with:

The smoke from the Rastafest just gone bye

Was wafting all over the sky.

When our reporter came back

He said with a quack:

“I've got a bad contact high.”

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