Off the Record (Sep. 20, 2017)

by AVA News Service, September 20, 2017

ALLISON GLASSEY has resigned as director of the County Museum in Willits. A former County administrator, Glassey’s sinecure was arranged at the Museum by the Supervisors as a reward for her years of, ah, ethical flexibility. (In an ava suit against the County some years ago, Glassey’s lies were transparent.) We understand that she was forced out at the Museum or face prosecution for “financial improprieties.” For reasons known only to her, although the County had authorized the hire of a professional curator three years ago, one was never hired. An unqualified couple, Russ and Sylvia Bartley of Fort Bragg, were hired by Glassey to do whatever it is they do at the Museum.

AS WE REPORTED LAST Month, Mendo’s Chief Probation Officer (CPO), Pamela Markham, was definitely out. Or is she? Markham was put on paid administrative leave last February amid allegations of favoritism and having an affair with a subordinate, apparently consummated during work hours.

FOR REASONS buried deep in California’s judicial bureaucracy, the CPO is selected by the Superior Court judges but is a county employees. Which means the local taxpayers have been on the hook for full pay and benefits — at around $10K per month — for month after month while multiple investigations into Ms. Markham’s conduct drag along. The decision to pay Markham to stay home was announced in an undated email from Presiding Judge David Reimenschneider. A Probation department employee sent the email with accompanying background to the AVA, which we ran back in April of 2017. The on-line version of the story has since generated an unprecedented 92 comments, many from people signing their own names and with close ties to the case.

MARKHAM’S APPOINTMENT — she formerly worked as a Probation Officer in Lake County — which took effect in July 2016, was announced in a glowing press release issued May 23, 2016, by Judge Reimenschneider and County CEO Carmel Angelo who was quoted saying, “We are very excited to have Ms. Markham join our executive leadership team. Her experience and leadership skills will be an asset to the county and bring new energy to the probation department.” Reimenschneider added that he looked forward to “many years” with Ms. Markham as CPO. Markham added that she looked forward to “continuing to implement evidence-based practices to promote public safety by reducing recidivism.”

MS. MARKHAM QUICKLY DELIVERED on the “new energy” front. According to the on-line comments for Scandal of the Week, Markham was openly flirtatious in ways that were seen as inappropriate for a professional work environment. She reportedly spent hours at a time behind closed doors with one of her subordinates. But instead of “many years” as Mendo’s Chief Probation Officer, Markham lasted less than eight months before being put on admin leave. Which means she has spent more time on paid leave than she did “on the job.”

IN TYPICAL MENDO FASHION, highly placed officials suspected of misbehavior are quietly placed on leave and just as quietly asked to resign months later, often with a lump-sum payment for going away quietly. The conduct which lead to the forced resignation and the amount of the pay-off are routinely hidden behind the cloaks of “personnel matter” and “employee confidentiality.”

IN CONTRAST to the fanfare which greeted Ms. Markham’s appointment, the Superior Court and the County have been silent on her removal as CPO. As far as we know the decision (or lack thereof) has not been announced to the Probation Department employees. We understand that the County’s initial investigation quickly confirmed the charges of favoritism, but no action was taken because the judges referred the case to attorneys at the state level. And the state attorneys insisted on additional investigations and re-investigations.

MANY THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS LATER, the results of the initial investigation were confirmed, and after additional pointless delays Ms. Markham was relieved her duties as CPO, which would seem to terminate her employment with the County. Except that the judges then told the County “She’s your employee, not ours.” And there the matter rests. Ms. Markham, who has been removed from the only position she ever held with the County, continues on in a sort of only-in-Mendo employment limbo. And she continues to collect her estimated $10k per months in full pay and benefits at taxpayer expense.

THE HOT POTATO named Pamela Markham is not likely to be picked up soon, either, because Ms. Markham, whose husband is a Lake County attorney, has retained her own attorney, who has the judges and the County tied up in prolonged legal exchanges with no end in sight.

LAST WEEK, BOONVILLE’S flagship newspaper asked if this house was the old one anchored for years way up Big River?

ERIC WILCOX CLARIFIED: “That’s Dory Dan’s house up the Albion, been up there since the day Captain Fathom became sane.”

YEARS AGO, there was a house boat structure hidden in a side channel that resembled a Chinese junk. I was told the guy who lived in it worked as a dishwasher some place in Mendocino. Anybody share my vague recall?

AN ALBION READER responds: "Eric is the name of the person who had a houseboat on Big River. He worked/works in Mendocino. He is very conscious of the Eco system. He drew pictures of birds and whatever he saw on the river. He still lives in the area."

FORMER SUPERVISOR NORMAN DE VALL took the podium at the Board of Supervisors Chamber on Tuesday to tell the Board that vacation home rentals need to be reined in and the Board needs to step up to the plate to help house local, non-wealthy Mendocino residents, especially on the Coast:

DE VALL: This is the same housing challenge that my board faced in the early 80s. As a resident of the Mendocino Coast for 55 years this is an ever growing issue that has not yet been resolved. Vacation home rentals in residential areas are basically businesses. These buildings are not occupied by residents who know how to conserve water, drive slowly, be careful and considerate and be respectful of their neighbors because they do not know the neighbors. We have a housing issue that is your responsibility, required by the MAP Act and required by the general plan and it is certainly embodied in your zoning codes to consider housing to be at least as important as recreational facilities. We are approaching an issue like you do in movie theaters and airplanes — there is an occupancy issue: how many people fit on the Mendocino Coast? How many vacation home rentals are converted sheds and converted studios that somehow are allowed in the code as second residential units that are sized and fit to each general plan parcel? How many vacation home rentals have building permits? How many have smoke alarms? How many have approved septic systems? These are the kinds of issues — are you creating more of a problem? Granted there are an endless number of people who want to come and stay on the Mendocino Coast. I spoke to two innkeepers this last week and I asked them, Why aren't you speaking to the supervisors to tell them what you provide with smoke alarms and proper safety provisions and building code compliance? If you are going to allow vacation home rentals please look to see if they are allowed in the general plan areas. You know that in the coastal zone they are not allowed. I talked to Chuck Bush at the Fort Bragg Senior Center and he says he has between six and 11 people every night living in their cars if they have a car or living on the street. We cannot house the people who live here and have lived here because this is the only place for them to go. They don't have another place to sleep. This is their home. They don't have a place to lie down and sleep because so many of these places have been turned into vacation home rentals. I hear from plenty of property owners who want that vacation home rental because our renters can be a tough crowd to work with and live with on the same property. People want their property to be able to use for family vacations and other things. So you have a major challenge in front of you. I just ask you to keep this question in front of you. Only you are responsible for providing housing. Only you have the authority to address it.

A READER WHO WAS WATCHING the meeting writes as de Vall was speaking writes: “Your Supervisor, Dan Hamburg, the champion of the underdog, upheld the right of well off property owners to do what they want with their property, no matter how many poor people are turned out onto the street. Former Supe de Vall told the Board that Chuck Bush from the Ft. Bragg Senior Center says they have up to 11 or 12 of their seniors sleeping in their cars (if they had one) every night. Hamburg was absorbed in his SmartPhone while de Vall was speaking.”

RETIRED SUPERIOR COURT JUDGE, David Nelson, a fanatic supporter of the eventual judge's only County Courthouse presently in the very beginnings of construction, called to say our figure of $240 million was over a hundred mil off. His Honor says that including the Perkins Street site, the new County Courthouse that nobody wants and most Mendo people don't know is in the works, will cost exactly $94.455 million. This fiscal precision, applied to any government project, is laughable. A ground-up project of this size will cost at least a third more, although we'll concede our figure for this boondoggle may be inflated.

ANOTHER READER wanted to know, "Why is County CEO Angelo pushing track and trace?" Short answer: She apparently believes that Mendo Mellow, grown according to Mendo's still-not-adopted and impossibly complicated rules, will be welcomed with a big sigh of relief by the crooks, er, proprietors, of medical marijuana "clinics" outside the County, even as they, as always, buy and sell lots and lots of product in and out their back doors.

JUST WHEN WE THOUGHT that the pot rules couldn’t possibly get any more complicated and bogged down in painful minutia, we noticed the following item in County CEO Carmel Angelo’s latest CEO report:

THE COUNTY just keeps piling on disencentives for small-time pot growers to get locally legal. On August 30, 2017, the Executive Office hosted the first phone call for the Cannabis Working Groups. The call included 30 participants including key County staff members. During this call, participants discussed the proposed working groups as well as additional topics to consider. The call resulted in the formation of eight working groups.

TALK ABOUT A RECIPE FOR FAILURE! Did they miss anyone? When are the pot brigades — or more specifically those trying to get legit — going to say enough is enough?!

DOWN WITH AIR B’N’B! A Reader Writes:

Years ago, Mendocino County allowed “granny units” allowed to be on single residence parcels. The idea was this would provide for low-cost housing for elders or young couples who also need housing so they can stay in the community. BUT then the local realtors started out by grabbing any home they could get on rental lists in their offices (and places like Craigslist) for rentals and then turned granny units into vacation houses. Now, the REALTORS also show even properties upfront as AirBnBs as the way newcomers can afford the REALTORS' inflated house prices, but many of those units sit empty, except on the weekends. Again, only a few are really “winning” in this game — the Realtors! How nice they toss out a few crumbs to the illegal maids. Shall all Mendocinans become waitresses and maids, because our County has turned it into DisneyLand? Check out all of South Caspar, Little Lake Road, Little River Road, Albion Road, Middle Ridge Road, 409 Road and many of the homes in Fort Bragg city limits. The list goes on. Just scan the current AirBnb vacation houses. These houses all used to be places where families lived, woodworkers, fishermen, artists, musicians, craftworkers, writers. Now, they are families who are living in their cars, even in the Mendocino School District! All the old “neighborhoods” are like ghosts — all so “visitors” can play a fantasy of what life would be like if they were like “the locals” (i.e. “roughing it in the redwoods, where the air is still clear”) without realizing that the people who have spent their entire lives, not making big paychecks, but living humble lives in our rural county and conserving the ocean and the forests for future generations. The very qualities that now are so rare, and so coveted by the greedy! “We LOVE it! We’ll TAKE it!” they say with glee.) And local elders and young families? They cannot even afford the few rentals still available.

INCLUDE the AVA’s former headquarters in Boonville in the short term rental plague. The main house goes for 450 a night! And it’s a standard issue tract job with smelly water about ten feet from noisy neighbors. Apparently the saps renting it on weekends think it’s simply boffo, assuming the city people who now own the place are writing fake reviews. Of course it should be housing a family, as it did for so many years.

TONE DOGG, the feedback, via a caller: "Pops, Tone Dogg's father, has a long criminal history including sexual offenses. Mom and Pops both were drug addicts, Anthony, or Tone Dogg as he calls himself, should be locked up permanently because he's dangerous. If it were up to me I'd put a bullet in his head. I'm surprised he can put a whole sentence together, and I admit I laughed a few times, but he's bad news. And I just heard he's out of jail again! I'd like to know who made that decision."

FACTOID we only recently heard: The reason there was little opposition to single-payer style Medicare from the insurance industry back in the 60s when it passed as part of LBJ’s Great Society program was that the insurance industry cynically calculated that people 65 or older cost a lot more to care for. They were happy to see the government take responsibility for older, sicker people so they could make more money insuring younger, healthier people. But when you start talking about single-payer/medicare for all  people under-65 you’re dipping right into big biz pockets. At the same time you would also strengthen Medicare by including younger people in the single-payer insurance pool — just one more of the many, many benefits that single-payer for all has that the insurance industry will resist with every last breath. PS. Single payer would also make most US companies and the government more profitable because healthcare costs would be taken out of their budgets. As General Motors vice president Bob Lutz famously said: "Sometimes it feels like we're a health-care company that tries to sell enough cars to pay the bills." In 2006, health benefits for unionized autoworkers under Canada’s single payer program cost $120 per car. In the same year, health benefits for Big Three autoworkers cost $1,500, and they're still rising. — ms

ODD DISCLAIMER the other morning on a KZYX jazz show: "This music does not necessarily reflect the musical sensitivities of management and staff…" I think he meant sensibilities, and it may even have been humorously intended, seeing as how the music the guy was playing was strictly Elevator.

DA EYSTER deserves high praise for pursuing the indictment of Dr. Peter Keegan for the murder of his wife, Susan, especially considering that his predecessor, Meredith Lintott, had no interest in it, a depressing stance for a DA to take re a major crime. Of course DA Susan Massini didn't prosecute the Fort Bragg Fires of '87, which may also have included the murder of one of the arsonists shortly before he was to testify before a federal grand jury in San Francisco.

WE ASSUME the likely murder of the young Fort Bragg woman, Katlyn Long, hasn't been relegated to the freezer department of the DA's Cold Case File. A now-retired detective told me that "we know that bastard did it,” that the one and only suspect in Miss Long's highly suspicious death indeed "was responsible." The problem was there wasn't quite enough evidence to nail Mr. Garrett Matson for it. Here's hoping someone is still looking hard at the known facts of Miss Long’s death.

ADD to the endless list of contemporary annoyances, the Superior Court's answering machine message: "The Superior Court is proud to serve the people of Mendocino County." Hooray for you, but how about just doing your job in a smart and timely manner and we'll be proud of you, too — doubly proud if you don't build your preposterous temple for yourselves in the form of a new County Courthouse at the congestion end of West Perkins. (BTW, both the Ukiah City Council and the Supervisors have silently signed off on this Mother of all Mendo Boondoggles.)

PREDICTABLE HEADLINE on last week's Mendocino Beacon: "Critics line up with praise for MCHS alumnus' debut novel." [“My Absolute Darling”] Please pray for American literature.

AND just below the fold, Albion Gothic, a full color photo of Bill Heil and Linda Perkins, long time Mendo environmentalists. Mary Rose Kaczorowski, aka Redwood Mary, seems to have written and produced the Beacon, which I thought had folded into the Advocate, permanently, years ago.

STOP, STEVE, YOU'RE KILLING ME! The Independent Coast Observer's long-time publisher, Steve McLaughlin, startled me out of my mid-afternoon Sunday torpor with a full-page ad declaring, and declaring in two inch bold black type, "NO FAKE NEWS HERE." I was hugely reassured, but Steve's assurance arrived on page 25, by which time I'd been duped at least twice. But now that I know I'm getting the straight skinny my skepticism is forever on hold when reading the ICO.

FROM MENDOCINO COLLEGE: "At Mendocino College our board and staff stand in solidarity with our exceptional students, especially our undocumented students, who may be experiencing fear, anxiety, or doubts about their status and their future."

YEAH, YEAH, but what will you do when the feds show up and demand your files? DACA kids are going to find out who their friends are, probably the hard way.

YEARS AGO, a guy in a mortician's black suit strolled up to my Boonville office eating an ice cream cone. He said he was Special Agent Daley. I thought for a minute he was going to ask me to hold the cone while he produced his ID, and resisted asking him what was special about him. It wasn't my first experience with FBI agents. I knew enough to be very careful with them. If they catch you in a lie you can find yourself fending off a felony or two because it's against federal law to lie to a federal agent. Martha Stewart lied to the FBI and, in a neat terrorist message to the rest of us, the feds put her in the pen for a couple of years. That's right, if "they" can do it to Martha, they sure as hell can do it to you and me. Daley asked if he could have a look at my letter's file. I said no. He laughed. Then he asked who I thought bombed Judi Bari, specifically naming Mike Koepf. I said I had no idea who did it, but it wasn't Koepf. This was soon after the bombing in 1990, way before it was clear that Bari was a victim of an especially creative episode of domestic violence. Daley then said something like, "Well, Mr. Anderson, you know Earth First! is a terrorist organization." You mean like the PLO? I said, going on to argue that Earth First! was more like a show biz troupe, what with painting cracks on the Grand Coulee Dam and so forth. The FBI subsequently denied characterizing Earth First! as a terrorist organization, and also denied they had had Bari and idiot child Cherney under surveillance prior to the bombing. Until Steve Talbot's brave and irrefutable documentary called ‘Who Bombed Judi Bari?’ that I realized how badly I'd been lied to by Bari, how desperate she and her cult-like followers, naturally aided and abetted by the fake left at places like KPFA and KZYX, had been to direct attention away from her ex-husband, Mike Sweeney, a man who just happened to have a history of cult-left violence all the way back to the late 1960s. And simultaneously it occurred to me that the FBI wasn't conducting a real investigation of the Bari bombing at all, that they knew who did the bombing, and implied as much to Talbot, but for reasons rather grim to contemplate, at least for those predisposed to paranoia, chose not to pursue the perp.

WHICH is a long way of pointing out that when the FBI asked to look at the Press Democrat's and the Ukiah Daily Journal's letters and files, both papers promptly said, No problemo. It was only us and Jim Shields of the Mendocino County Observer who said No. Get a warrant, J. Edgar. The point being, if the feds show up tomorrow at Mendocino College asking for a look at student citizenship status, odds are they're going to get what they came for.

IT WAS EASY for me to turn down the ice cream cone G-Man, because we didn't keep originals of letters anyway. Pre-computer, and way before the feds were able to spy on all of us, there were too many, and they piled right up, and out they went on recycle day. Shields, though, told the FBI they had no Constitutional right to his correspondence, which is correct, and the FBI went away. Later, Bari blithely told the outside media that "all" the Mendocino County papers had cooperated with the feds and, natch, when the truth was pointed out to her didn't bother making the correction.

MARCO McCLEAN WRITES:

Re: Scott Peterson’s DEATH AND TAXES, about one facet of the financial shenanigans at KZYX. Scott’s piece appeared also on the kzyx-talk listserv. Former county supervisor Norman de Vall replied to Peterson via Marco as follows:

“Scott, Good Morning. Just a point of clarification: Our ISP does not host kzyxtalk if host means paying the monthly fee. I founded kzyxtalk back in the day when the station would not allow any talk about the station. As a strong supporter of Free Speech I thought, if you can’t talk about the station on the station, let’s use the written word. And kzyxtalk was born. John Coate was twisted into knots. I’ve never made public the hateful e-mails he sent me, and the last words from Mary Aigner were, “You’ll never use a microphone at KZYX again.” Norman de Vall, Host: kzyxtalk

THE EDITOR SPEAKING: I probably don't listen often enough to plausibly generalize, but I do listen to the government's version of events called KZYX News three or four mornings a week as I haul my bone bag out for some aerobic stimulation. Sooooooo it seems to me the local reporting, mostly non-existent over the years, is getting better. The people presenting it seem to be at least trying to tell us what's happening in the county in intelligent context, which translates to me that the new station manager, Mr. Parker, is gradually getting a grip on the half-assed operation. Historically, the problem with KZYX has been the dominance of a kind of freemasonry of fools at the power levers. John Coate, besides being terminally chickenshit, was also incompetent. And maybe even certifiably 5150. Of course he hired fearful, half-bright clones of himself, hence the station's endless enemies' list, financial chicanery, tedious non-verbal talk programming, zomboid boards of directors, bullying of the few independent people associated with the place, and so on. If Coate and his capon-ized pal, Campbell, are still involved at KZYX any real progress at the station would certainly depend on getting them clear outta there. But the nut of the prob is the station's structure, with its eternal "programmers" supporting management no matter how nasty and incompetent it is. And, of course, NPR is comfortable talk for comfortable people, and comfortable Mendo people make up the bulk of station enthusiasts. Real change in the direction of real public radio may not be possible in the prevailing Mendo socio-psycho context.

IT'S ON JER'S DESK: A bill that would make the state a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants by limiting local law enforcement’s cooperation with immigration authorities only needs the Gov's signature. The measure, approved by California’s legislature during its last session of the year Friday, will take effect Jan. 1 if Brown signs it. Brown expressed support for the measure after it underwent several rounds of amendments that align the legislation with the state’s Trust Act, an anti-deportation law. The law pits California authorities against the Trump administration, which continues to push for a crackdown on undocumented immigrants; Trump has threatened to withhold federal funding for any cities or states employing “sanctuary” policies. But a federal judge has issued a nationwide temporary injunction blocking the administration from withholding funding to sanctuary cities.

GOOD NEWS FOR MOM AND POP GROWERS? A recent headline out of Frisco: “California's polluted farms prove unfit for legal weed." A reader interpreted the story that followed: “To get a "clean" cannabis crop after problems with contamination with suspected pesticide drift from a neighboring broccoli farm in the Salinas Valley, Harborside Farm (200,000 square feet) had to "install massive ventilation systems to push filtered air through its greenhouses and keep pesticides from drifting in - much like how a wind tunnel keeps an indoor skydiver from hitting the ground." There’s also a pesticide for powdery mildew that is allegedly safe to eat, but turns into cyanide gas when burned. So regulators are thinking about setting standards for cannabis for this pesticide that are 500 times higher than for other crops. As the story posits, “rampant pesticide use across California’s farmlands, combined with the state’s de facto organic standards for legal cannabis could mean the best place for pot farmers is the wildlands where they started.”

ON LINE COMMENT OF THE WEEK

With the issue of immigration as with so many others, it’s a question of who’s getting gored. Deplorables have got a legitimate beef with millions of people being let into the country at the same time as millions of jobs are being sent overseas. But, to their enormous discredit, the Democrats paint Deplorables objecting to their own pauperization as cretins and racists. And then they feign astonishment that these same subnormals won’t vote Democrat. No doubt everyone now knows about the fubared terror attack on a London tube train. Again, with this issue also, both in the US and Europe and elsewhere, it’s a question of who’s getting hurt. If the multitude of terror attacks had been directed at American and European politicians and billionaires, if 9/11 had killed thousands of them instead of thousands of corporate drones, as sure as we sit here the borders would have been closed to Muslims and the deportations would have been well underway if not complete. The rationale? It’s simple. They’d say, geez, we really regret having to do this but we have no choice, we can’t separate the good apples from the bad and we have no way of telling which good apple might turn rotten. So we have no alternative. And the high and mighty wouldn’t even blink and they’d entertain no counter argument. It would be portrayed as self-evident that it’s a question of national security. The oh-so-enlightened judiciary that saw fit to stymie the Trump travel ban would no doubt dismiss lawsuits challenging the deportations and the immigration bans as frivolous. And any consideration of such action being unconstitutional or unlawful would be deemed too far-fetched to waste the valuable time of the courts. In other words, people of the same social class would close ranks to protect their own. But, because it’s the Joe Shmoes getting killed and maimed, the high and mighty mount the pulpits and deliver thundering denunciations of Islamophobia and counsel tolerance. Let’s see how tolerant they’d be if the dead were hundreds or thousands of Congressmen and Members of Parliament and the Davos goers. They’re not expendable. But people like us surely are. Big Ag and Big Biz want cheap labor and one way to do it is open the immigration floodgates. But if those millions flooding in from Mexico were teachers and lawyers instead of semi-literate laborers you can bet your bottom dollar that the southern wall would be miles high by now.

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