Off the Record
by AVA News Service, July 8, 2010
FREEDOM DAY WEEKEND having come and gone, comment on the people most responsible for ensuring America's doom, our judges, is in order. Who writes the opinions justifying the big time crimes, the ones that harm millions of us? Take a bow, Your Honor. Local cases in point:
THE UKIAH TEACHER'S ASSOCIATION has finally obtained five year's worth of Ukiah Unified's preposterously lengthy roster of professional consultants and their equivalently preposterous fees, most of those many thousands of dollars coming straight out of money that should go to classrooms. Among those consultants we find Frank Zotter, former legal eagle with the Mendocino County Counsel's office. Zotter is now “senior associate general counsel” for “School and College Legal Services of California,” a raft of legal pettifoggers who enjoy exclusive and endlessly lucrative contracts with the individual school districts of Mendocino and Sonoma counties to provide those districts with legal advice, most of it of the terminally chickenshit variety. A school board drone from, say, Point Arena calls them up to ask how to shaft a young administrator like Matt Murray who's lifted one of the fogbelt schools from educational receivership and, for $250 an hour, Zotter and another incompetent named Margaret Merchat, reinforced by a dozen other tiny legal hatchets, tells Point Arena how to go about it. (PA, predictably, is back in receivership.) It was these Santa Rosa-based legal geniuses who recently advised one of Ukiah Unified's dim administrators that the word “niggardly” constituted racist abuse. Thirty years ago, the Mendocino County Counsel's office, another over-large cluster of otherwise unemployable attorneys, dished out free bad advice to school districts. That was before a lawyer named Bob Henry realized that school administrators and their captive school boards sat on big pots of edu-bucks just there for the taking. Henry soon set up “joint power authority” agreements with school districts giving him, Merchat, Zotter and the rest of the lawyers who quickly joined him exclusive legal franchises with as many school entities as Henry and Co. could gull into joining up – which turned out to be all of them. When the Ukiah teacher's union demanded to know how much their bosses were paying Zotter and the rest of the Santa Rosa parasites to shaft them, Zotter was handsomely paid out of school funding to deny the Ukiah teachers what amounts to public information!
FROM THE Fort Bragg Advocate Court report for Monday, June 28th: “Dr. Brett W. Stine, chiropractor, came within ‘a hair's width’ of being sent to state prison for not revealing to the court that he had a prior DUI. He was being sentenced for a first-offense DUI but when the Probation report came back, it was learned that Stine had committed another DUI in Lake County. Judge Lehan read from the transcript of the plea where he mentioned to Stine that the present DUI was a first but that if he were to get another, the penalty would go up. At that time, Stine had an opportunity to admit the first DUI but did not. Upon learning that, Lehan used the ‘hair's width’ metaphor. The case came down to the victim whose life was seriously changed by the crash caused by Stine. The victim said that he did not want his words to lead a judge to send anyone to state prison. Lehan's decision seemed to hinge on that testimony. Most everyone in the courtroom was either shedding tears or trying not to. Stine hugged his victim, who forgave him. Stine was sentenced to two years in state prison (execution of sentence suspended), placed on a 60-month probation, sentenced to 365 days in MCJ (two days CTS), banned from using alcohol, subject to search and seizure, is barred from owning a firearm, had his license revoked for three years, and must pay fees/fines totaling $2,525.60.”
IF I'D BEEN the judge in this one I would have sent Stine and his “victim” to the state pen, and put everyone who'd cried and hugged on summary felony probation for being and maudlin and misguided in public.
THE OTHER DAY I got into an argument with a family member who works as a public defender. He freelances as a defender of the system, which also employs him, all the while deluding himself that he's an enemy of capitalism and driving around with a Obama bumpersticker on his hybrid. I said judges make way too much money, that $180,000 a year plus every perk known to Western Man is excessive. The public defender cited another family member who happens to be a judge. “Do you think she's paid too much? You don't think she's a good person?” I said good person-ism isn't the question. I said I was sure Her Honor doesn't kick her dogs or force-feed her kids Big Macs, but so what? The public defender came back with, ” She earns every nickel. You know what she has to do first thing every morning? She's got to sign foreclosures on people, put people out on the street?” Which, I said, is exactly my point. Judges are paid $180,000 to do stuff like that. They'd toss their mothers for that kind of money, and every single one of them acts as enforcer for a justice system that is more unjust by the day. We never did agree on much of anything.
SUPERIOR COURT JUDGE Leonard LaCasse has tossed the niggardly suit. The judge said that Ukiah Unified's public denunciation of teacher's rep Dennis Boaz as a racist for deploying the word niggardly to describe Ukiah Unified's response to teacher demands, was not harmful to Boaz because 'racist' is exhausted as a term of abuse. In 2009, during teacher negotiations with Ukiah Unified, Boaz had written, “The tenor of the negotiation tactics have become increasingly negative and niggardly.” If you don't know that niggardly means parsimonious and that parsimonious means chintzy, you qualify for work as a school administrator in Mendocino County and, sure enough, Ukiah Unified's Bryan Barrett responded with a letter to the teacher's union accusing Boaz of being racist. A second letter signed by the rest of Mendocino County's scholarly school bosses led by the famously cretinous County School's chief, Paul Tichinin, also said that Boaz was a racist, as did a number of the morons functioning as the teachers Boaz was trying to represent. Perhaps even more shocking in this sad chronicle of mass edu-idiocy, lawyers, nicely compensated to represent the Mendocino County's school administrators, approved the libel of Boaz before it was made public. Boaz, since retired, was a history teacher at the time these fools caused his reputation to take a tumble; this county's educators didn't know the meaning of a word most of us have mastered by the fifth grade although Barrett later claimed he knew what the word meant, meaning he's doubly malicious. Boaz rightly claimed that he'd been damaged by the allegation. But Judge La Casse ruled that “racist” has gotten such a workout over the years that it's like being called any old thing. I wonder if the judge, having correctly pronounced “judiciously” as “jew-dish-ess-lee” in the presence of Barrett and Tichinin was then, in writing, denounced by them as an anti-semite and a nazi sympathizer, would still say sticks and stones? Boaz, who has behaved with more restraint than most of his could muster in the circumstances, said of LeCasse's decision, “I think the judge's perspective on actionable libel from a progressive perspective is niggardly.” Judge La Casse did say, “The court also is distressed that there appears to be a need for adult supervision at the district offices.”
REMEMBER the new Mendocino County Courthouse plan hatched by the State Administrative Office of the Court last year? The new courthouse planned for East Perkins two blocks from the perfectly serviceable existing County Courthouse at Perkins and State, was presented as costing $120 million. With construction not started the building has nearly doubled in project cost to $212 million. The Black Robes also assured us rubes that locals would get first dibbsies on all the jobs its construction would bring. Har de har. Last week, we learned that the very first work would go to “the architecture firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP, with offices in San Francisco, New York, London and Hong Kong. So, what is it likely to look like? Envision a three-story WalMart with gun turrets and you've got a pretty good idea of what we can expect this thing to look like. We already have the now abandoned Willits Justice Center, arguably the ugliest building in the country as harbinger of what we can expect for Ukiah. “The court is thrilled that SOM has accepted the challenge of creating a beautiful, functional and environmentally sound courthouse that will enhance the community and serve the citizens of Mendocino County,” trilled Cindee Mayfield, presiding judge of the Superior Court of Mendocino County, making it seem as if funding for the judge's new bunker fell out of the sky. The judges claim the thing won't be built out of tax money, but in fact the money comes from taxes known as fines and fees on the army of California shlebs processed in and out of the court system. It certainly doesn't come out of judge pay and emoluments. This major eyesore will appear on a lot currently occupied by the abandoned but recently rehabbed Ukiah Train Depot, meaning another huge slug of tax money will disappear down black hole known as the North Coast Railroad Authority. The NCRA, you may not know, is about to open rail service on a deserted stretch of track between Windsor and Cloverdale, a project years behind schedule and, of course, grossly over budget.
CALTRANS last week released the following description of the Willits Bypass: “Most of the roadway will be constructed on imported fill, with a total of 2.5 million cubic yards needed for both phases. Phase one will require 1.4 million cubic yards. CalTrans has already obtained authorization from the State Geology and Mining Board to supply the fill from its property at Oil Well Hill located less than one mile north of the intersection of Reynolds Highway and Highway 101. From south to north for a total of 5.9 miles, the physical scope of phase one includes six bridges and two retaining walls at the southern Haehl Creek interchange; a third retaining wall on the west side of the new lanes just south of Center Valley Road; bridges will cross East Hill Road and Haehl Creek (south of Shell Lane); a 6,000 foot floodway viaduct supported by columns from 4.5 to 7 feet in diameter; two bridges over the North Western Pacific Railroad tracks; a bridge across the new connector road at Quail Meadows; two bridges at Upp Creek (north of Quail Meadows interchange); a southbound off ramp; and a roundabout. The roadbed is anticipated to be about four feet above the valley floor at its low point near Shell Lane and more than 30 foot above it at the northern crossing over the railroad. Phase two would add eight more bridges and another floodway aqueduct.”
GOT THAT? The entire six-mile bypass will be “above the valley floor” on imported fill which itself will be on the most geologically unstable valley basin in the state of California. And the fill will come from a nearby quarry. Assuming a typical dump truck holds two cubic yards, that’s 2.5 million cubic yards divided by 2 = 1,250,000 dump truck loads moving back and forth through/around downtown Willits during construction. Also assuming the proverbial best case scenario that the fill is in place before California goes all the way broke, that’ll mean that Willits will endure 1.25 million dump truck trips – to and from – spread out over roughly-speaking two years at the rate of 210 trucks per day!
AS NIKITA KRUSCHEV said to the United States in the 1950s, Caltrans is saying to Willits, “We will bury you.”
CRITICS are raving about a movie called 'Winter's Bone.' It's about a 17-year-old girl who finds herself responsible for her younger brother and sister when her father is murdered by crank dealers and her mother goes off her rocker and stays there. The girl who plays the girl is very good. The movie itself I found insulting and totally implausible. I'd like you to see it, too, to check my opinion of it. The thing's set in the hills of Missouri. Artistic liberties are taken with impoverished white people that middle-class filmmakers wouldn't dare take with impoverished black or brown people. The white people this girl lives with are, it seems, supposed to be latter day hillbillies, the last people in America you can safely caricature without risking the wrath of NPR's listening audience. It's all toothless crones and fat boy psychos, not a single depiction of which resembles violence as it occurs in real life. Willie Brown ignited the NPR brigades when he described the movie as “depressing” in his Sunday column, going on to comment “It takes place somewhere in the Kentucky hills. (sic) Very poor Southern trash. Now I know why I've never wanted to be white.” Trash? And it takes an unlikely movie to remind this guy that he's happy to be his own self?
WHILE WE'RE TALKING race, I think that the fairest verdict in the infamous Mehserle case would be voluntary manslaughter. I don't see how the guy could have confused an 8-pound handgun with a 2-pound taser, although both come with pistol grips. And Oscar Grant was already on his face with two large cops standing over him, one of them on him. But Mehserle did shoot Grant when he had no visible reason to shoot him. Mehserle's lawyer says the shooting was a “tragic mistake.” Which it seems to have been, but it's still inexplicable and logically indefensible. No matter who you are you've got to pay for “mistakes” that get the other guy killed. Unless Mehserle is some kind of secret pyscho, and he seems merely young and dumb, it's hard to believe he shot Grant deliberately.
NO VERDICT short of instant death for Mehserle will appease the professional rioters and the many “liberals” who, from their excited internet speculations, secretly yearn from the bottoms of their tiny little hearts to see Oakland go up in flames. Ditto for the Bay Area's cretinous television stations. They've been hyping catastrophe for a year now. The most sensible remarks on what should not happen to Oakland when the verdict comes in appeared in Chip Johnson's always pertinent Chronicle column, Tuesday edition. Johnson quoted Kevin Grant, Violence Prevention Network Coordinator for Oakland: “Don't get pimped,” Grant cautioned Oakland's would-be rioters, warning that the nutballs coming in from outside want to see the town wrecked. Grant said of them, “If you're so down with the cause, let's kick it off in your neighborhood, not in mine.”
THE COUNTY has extended its building amnesty program to the end of the year “due to the success thus far.” Illegal structures can still become officially legit. The Planning Department estimates that there are still several hundred residential structures strewn over Mendocino County's vast outback that remain off the books. Prior to the amnesty program buildings found without permits were subject to an “investigative fee” which doubled the total cost of becoming legal. That fee has been temporarily suspended, as have fees associated with the environmental health department permits. All you gotta do to qualify, you structural anarchist, is come on in and make yourselves and your habitat known. The Planning Department says that in some cases property owners could save thousands of dollars for a single family residence simply by signing up. If the unpermitted structure has plumbing and/or septic and/or well issues, then permits from environmental health are required prior to building permits. When calling make sure that you tell the Environmental Health staff that you are applying for the amnesty program. Building permit applications must be submitted to the Planning Department by the end of this year to qualify. For more information about the amnesty program and the building code or environmental health requirements call the County Planning and Building Services Department, Ukiah, at 463-4281 or the Environmental Health Division at 463-4466. Fort Bragg branch offices are at 964-5379 or 961-2714.
A READER reminds us that Aspartame, the Monsanto-produced artificial sweetener used in the “energy drink” known as “Red Bull” and many other central nervous system stimulating drinks is “the most dangerous substance on the market that is added to foods.” A report by Dr. William Campbell Douglass, who describes himself as “medicine's most popular mythbuster,” insists that “Aspartame accounts for over 75% of the adverse reactions to food additives reported to the FDA – many of which are very serious, including seizures and death.” Google Dr. Douglass for a range of harrowing dietary info.