Off the Record
by AVA News Service, August 4, 2010
BRUCE SMITH, of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Department, has been identified as the officer who shot and killed Angel Hernandez Farias, 24, shortly before 7am on Tuesday, July 27th in the Mendocino National Forest. Hernandez is said to have leveled a rifle at Smith and his accompanying marijuana raid team when they encountered Hernandez near a large garden. The raid team also included two other Mendocino County deputies, five Forest Service and BLM officers, and a dope dog. Smith fired at Hernandez who turned and ran, only to be dragged to the ground by the dog. Hernandez died at the scene. Another man apparently associated with Hernandez ran from the scene. He has not been apprehended or identified. The shooting occurred in Mendocino County's northeastern tip, four miles west of the Tehama County line, an area long controlled by dope growers. Smith shot and killed a man in a drug-related Laytonville episode in 1989. He has been with the Mendocino department for 25 years mostly specializing in narcotics cases. Sheriff Allman said last week that the District Attorney's Office and the State Department of Justice are assisting with the investigation of the shooting. There were many witnesses to the event so a thorough report on it should soon be forthcoming.
HERNANDEZ was married and the father of a baby girl. He had been arrested before on marijuana charges, once when he was found in possession of dope and some $20,000 in cash. He was a long-time resident of Sonoma and Mendocino counties where he has at least one sister. He is described by a person who knew him fairly well as “a soft-spoken, non-threatening man, not at all like a drug thug.”
EVERY COUPLE of years the Santa Rosa cops send a female cop or two out to Santa Rosa Avenue where the lady cops stroll up and down looking provocative, trolling for the pathetic characters who try to pick up prostitutes on the street. An undercover giraffe in a mini-skirt and lipstick would arouse most guys, such is male sexuality. But in these undercover Santa Rosa stings as soon as the random mopes, overcome by sudden lust on their way home from Borders, Friedman Brothers and Bed and Bath, start to hit on the cop ladies they're arrested and cited for what? Arresting a man for soliciting a perceived prostitute is like arresting a dog for chasing a cat. If the Rose City cops really wanted to cut down on public prostitution they'd arrange with the Press Democrat to publish the mopes' names, pictures and home addresses, and put the information right there on the editorial page where the true whores – Golis, Gullickson, Brooks, Broder and the rest of them – brazenly peddle their corporate buns every day. And in front of the kids, too!
WHILE WE'RE on the subject of degenerates, the e-mail scandal involving Mendo and San Francisco planners scooped up a few porn addicts in both counties, but John Heise, a code enforcement officer with Mendocino County, has resisted his dismissal and will get a civil service hearing. We understand that Heise, like millions of unwitting recipients of this stuff, got the offending material simply because he was in the office when the other yobs were passing it around. He didn't ask for it, and he didn't circulate it. Frank Lynch, who'd worked in Planning and Building for 20 years, was a willing participant. He resigned in May. Lynch and the Frisco boys had been watching pornography on office computers while they were supposed to be working.
WIMP-TWIT of the Week awards go to the boyfriends of these two ladies, both of whom were arrested last week for allegedly attacking their significant others. What is wrong with The Men of Mendoland? We used to be manly men! Calling the cops just because the lady of the house pops you one? And don't lie; you had it coming, too.
ONE OF OUR ARMY subscribers tells us that he was recently summoned to the august offices of the base commander, a colonel, for a three-hour interrogation. The colonel told our young fighting man, “Your hometown newspaper seems to encourage the breakdown of good order and discipline.” The Boonville newspaper has always hoped to undermine good order and discipline, but most weeks we fail in our mission. Still, I've never been so flattered. The West Point ring knocker wondered out loud if his young soldier was “some kind of anarchist or communist,” and wouldn't one expect a West Point grad to be just a little more sophisticated, a little better able to make basic political distinctions? Then I, a former Marine and life-long patriot, got a little miffed. What the hell? Even an Army officer – Marines have always been a lot smarter than the other branches of armed imperialism – ought to understand that he's supposed to be defending my right to say whatever I want to say, which is the difference between US and the gd Taliban, isn't it? Well, isn't it?
A NICE AND WELL-DESERVED front page piece on Laurel Krause's successful effort to establish an archive consisting of first-hand accounts of the infamous Kent State shootings of 1970 appeared in last Saturday's San Francisco Chronicle. From her modest home in Fort Bragg Laurel has breathed new life into the ongoing effort to find out what really happened that terrible day forty years ago when the National Guard opened fire on a student demonstration, killing four young people, one of whom was Laurel's sister Allison, and wounding nine others. Laurel's project is called The Kent State Truth Tribunal.
THE COUNTY’S “management union” has agreed to take a 10% pay cut. County Personnel Director Teresia Haase delivered the news last week. A 10% whack became the negotiating baseline early on when the Board of Supervisors let the Department heads off light by agreeing to only a 10% pay cut. Then, when the Board tried to squeeze more out of the deputies and corrections officers, they were rightly denounced for only cutting the department heads by 10% while trying to stick the deputies for 24%, then 16% and finally 10% when the deputies, and the public, set up a howl of outrage. There are approximately 60 people in the management union. Those 60 people still cost the County $2.925 million a year at an average of about $49k each plus fringes. The County still has to try to negotiate salary reductions with our large posse of public attorneys in the DA's and Public Defender's offices. The lawyers are represented by the Teamsters. The county's approximately 870, line employees are represented by the Service Employees International Union.
A COAST READER WRITES: “Last Wednesday, as my husband and I drove onto Highway 1 near Manchester a young gentleman was standing on the corner. He waved us down and inquired as to the time. It was around 8:15am. He was waiting for the MTA to take him north. We went on our way heading toward Mendocino on Highway 1. I told my husband that we should go back and give him a ride to the Navarro River where he can, at least sit, and wait for the MTA bus there that stops to pick ups passengers heading toward Santa Rosa. Mind you, we almost never pick up hitchhikers but since he was in our backyard, so to speak, we thought he must be staying there with someone we know. So we turned around and picked him up. On the way he informed us that he was from Oregon and was living with a couple of friends in Irish Beach. His aunt also lived in Irish Beach. He was on his way to Santa Rosa to pick up some extra money by collecting scrap metal and taking it to the dump. I inquired as to what he did on a regular basis and he informed me he went back and forth to Santa Rosa for odd jobs. As we approached Navarro River he asked how much the trip to Santa Rosa would cost and we told him we believed it to be around $14 round trip, but it had been some time since we had taken the MTA. When we got to the stop, my wonderful husband reached into his wallet and gave the young man some money in case he would not have enough for the bus fare. Lo and behold upon reading the AVA this week what do I see on page 6? You guessed it: the gentleman that we picked up in Irish Beach was Mr. Nicholas Kindel! First, I have to tell you the house he was living in belongs to Al Fisher who lived on Alta Mesa. Mr. Fisher is deceased now but lived in a million dollar house up on the top of Irish Beach with a million dollar view! How young boys could even afford the rent for the house is truly beyond me. However, what I find even more confusing in the ten years that I have lived in this area I have never seen the sheriff just “driving” through the Irish Beach subdivision, let alone driving up Alta Mesa because it only has three to four houses up there and it is a dead end. They had to have been tipped off by someone. Anyway, I told my husband that Kindel probably had more money in the little black bag he was carrying than my husband had in his whole wallet. However, if the plants hadn't been cultivated yet perhaps he may not have. It may be some time before my husband will again pick up another hitchhiker even if it is someone we know.
ACCORDING to the National Resources Defense Council, Mendocino County “had the highest percent of monitored beaches with no exceedances (88 percent), followed by Sonoma (71 percent), Monterey (50 percent), San Diego (32 percent), Marin (30 percent), Ventura (27 percent), Santa Cruz (24 percent), San Mateo (15 percent), Orange (6 percent), Santa Barbara (5 percent), and Los Angeles (1 percent), ” meaning that our beaches were relatively clean. The NRDC continues to monitor MacKerricher Beach State Park at Mill Creek, Pudding Creek ocean outlet, Big River near Pacific Coast Highway, and Van Damme State Park at the Little River. But “all 4 beaches received an A+ grade for the AB411 time period. The Environmental Health Department, with assistance from the Mendocino County Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, monitored sampling locations.” In 2009, Pudding Creek Beach and Pudding Lagoon in Fort Bragg were second only to Avalon Beach in L.A. in “exceeding the state's daily maximum bacterial standards.”
NEVER BEEN TO COVELO? Here's your chance to not only visit one of the most beautiful areas of our beautiful county but to enjoy the 28th Annual Round Valley Blackberry Festival, a very pleasant event I can tell you from my own visit some years ago to run in the accompanying foot race. August 21st, noon till 7pm, and August 22nd, 10 am till 5 pm downtown Covelo. Admission is free. Hosted by Mickey The Clown, the Festival features arts and craft booths, blackberry delicacies, wine tasting, a climbing wall, children's games and live music. There is a 5k & 10K run/walk, a car show as well as a country breakfast on Sunday. For information please call 707-367-8393 or visit us @ roundvalley.org.
TRAGIC COVELO, an updated addendum from its murderous beginnings as Indian killing fields for Mendocino County's pioneer families to last week's suicide of its just hired school superintendent and yesterday's (Monday) terrible fire that killed some forty dogs and cats at Barbara Thrasher's Bones Pet Rescue. The fire, believed to have been ignited by faulty wiring in the Thrasher home, burned some forty acres on Refuse Road before it was extinguished by CalFire and local volunteers. Many animals housed outside the home were unscathed.
KEVIN JOLLY, 45, had just been hired via the Mendocino County Office of Education to superintend the perennially troubled Covelo schools when he committed suicide by jumping off the Confusion Hill Bridge on 101 near Leggett. Media and police reports describe Jolly's suicide as a “fall,” but one can only “fall” from that bridge by first surmounting a safety barrier that runs the length of the span. The poor guy jumped. Obviously. Jolly was the married father of eight children, and whatever it was that had made him so despairing, dropping 250 feet onto the boulders of the Eel River is not an easy out. We won't know why he jumped because he apparently didn't leave word. Jolly had been fired from his job as superintendent of the Burbank Unified School District prior to coming to Mendocino County, but it wasn't as if the guy had become unemployable with a wife and eight kids to support. He caught on up here right away. And from what we can gather, Jolly had done a pretty good job in Burbank but, because he'd tried to move things for the better, he naturally encountered resistance, then hostility, from the inevitable drones who, just as naturally, pressured the inevitably gutless school board to fire him. Paul Tichinin, Superintendent of the Mendocino County Schools, has announced he will temporarily administer the Covelo schools, an announcement which has not been well received in Covelo where Tichinin is perceived as the root cause of much of the turmoil in the district. The County Office of Education has assumed responsibility for Covelo's schools because they perform poorly on standardized tests, which has resulted in a kind of state conservatorship overseen by Tichinin and the Mendocino County Office of Education. Educationally, this is your basic lateral move. Implicit in conservatorship status is the assumption that Covelo, as a community, is unable to competently run its own system of education, an assumption that is not only false but has placed a consensus incompetent, Tichinin, in charge of that system.
HERE'S A LOL lead sentence from the front page story by Kerry Benefield of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat of Wednesday, July 28th: “Sonoma County educators are expressing anger over revelations that the longtime executive director of the California School Boards Association had charged thousands of dollars of personal expenses on association credit cards – including $11,000 at casinos – all while making more than $540,000 a year.”
THE MENDOCINO COUNTY OFFICE of Education saw its school chiefs similarly indicted twenty years ago and, needless to say, every small school district in Mendocino County, and every one of them run by laughably overpaid people who became nationally infamous recently when they signed a letter saying that the word niggardly is a racist insult, pays upwards of $5,000 dollars a year to belong to this phoniest of associations. The last time I looked, which was during a long argument with the immovable Boonville school apparatus to unburden itself of membership in CSBA, the crook running CSBA operated out of a motel suite near the Frisco airport, probably with his bags packed and a fresh passport. What does the CSBA do for your kid's education? Nothing, but probably twice as much as Tichinin and the County Schools gang out at their lush Talmage quarters. (A visit to Talmage confirms one's worst suspicions – about a hundred nicely dressed people wandering around with their coffee cups, prozac smiles plastered on their blandly uncomprehending pusses.) As I recall, the Boonville School Board was forking over about $7,500 a year to CSBA in return for which Boonville received reams of “policy updates,” which Boonville filed away in “policy manuals,” which went unconsulted for decades at a time, if they ever were consulted. I stopped going to school board meetings when I began to harbor murder fantasies, but I did briefly persuade the Boonville School Board to drop out of CSBA. Of course the instant my selfless civic vigilance ceased they re-joined. Now, with the news that CSBA is even more corrupt than anyone imagined, I expect Boonville will not only re-up their membership but Tichinin will establish a defense fund for CSBA's lead crook. Nothing, not Wes Chesbro, not Congressman Mike Thompson, not incipient geezerhood, not even the lunatic wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, make me despair more for the future than a school board meeting. Nothing.
THE TEACHER gave her fifth grade class an assignment: Get their parents to tell them a story with a moral at the end of it. The next day, the kids came back and, one by one, began to tell their stories. There were all the regular types of stuff: spilled milk and pennies saved, etc. Then the teacher realized, much to her dismay, that only Janie was left. “Janie, do you have a story to share?” “Yes ma'am. My daddy told me a story about my Mommy. She was a Marine pilot in Desert Storm, and her plane got hit. She had to bail out over enemy territory, and all she had was a flask of whiskey, a pistol, and a survival knife. She was scared so she drank the whiskey on the way down, and then her parachute landed her right in the middle of 20 Iraqi troops. She shot 15 of them with the pistol until she ran out of bullets, killed four more with the knife till the blade broke, and then she killed the last Iraqi with her bare hands.” “Good Heavens,” said the horrified teacher. “What did your Daddy tell you was the moral of this horrible story?” “Don't mess with Mommy when she's been drinking.”