Off the Record
by AVA News Service, November 11, 2010
THE FOCUS TODAY, dear reader, is on the local election results in the broader context of the great outside political world. We view last week's state and national elections as meaning an accelerated deterioration perhaps leavened by some comic relief from the cretins shoved into office by the Tea Party Movement. We think it's obvious that both political parties are slaves of the oligarchy that runs the whole show, the only difference between the two being that the slaves magically perceived as liberals — Jerry Brown, Barbara Boxer, Pelosi, and Obama, all the way down to the liberal apparat of the Northcoast Democratic Party that brings us Mike Thompson and Wes Chesbro — occasionally bestir themselves to purely rhetorical defenses of everyday Americans. Rhetoric is as far as that defense ever goes, of course, but it's enough to gull a large majority of Emerald Triangle voters to keep pseudo-liberal imposters like Thompson and Chesbro in public office all their free lunch days while contributing to the prevalent national liberal delusion represented by Obama, Pelosi and the rest of them that by voting for Nice People like them things will get better. On the big issues of war, the economy, the environment, the electoral libs join the overt forces of darkness clustered around the Republican Party to vote an emphatic yes for the criminal looting of the American economy begun by Reagan, accelerated by Bill Clinton, solidified by Bush the Second, and now presided over by Obama under whom the final collapse has begun.
THE UPWARD FLOW of the money resulting from the bipartisan-sanctioned national thievery means less and less in public services here in Mendocino County. The daily reports of increased joblessness, foreclosures and evictions, starved educational budgets, roads going unrepaired and people saying things like, "Well, golly, money's tight," as if we're talking Act of God and not specific individuals committing specific financial crimes. Money's tight for a reason. We've been robbed, and our government has appointed the robbers to run the system. We are screwed unto the umpteenth generation.
SO, HOW LONG does it take five clerks to count to 12,358? That's how many Mendocino County ballots remain uncounted a week after the November 2 election. Most observers, however, expect the outcome to be unchanged from the preliminary announcements of November 3rd. Mendo’s voter turnout rate was an impressive 67%, but there were no surprises other than the margin of the defeat of Measure C, a half-cent sales tax increase proposal devised by the Board of Supervisors.
DAVID EYSTER seems to have handily defeated incumbent DA Meredith Lintott. So far, Eyster has 9,439 votes (52%) to Lintott with 8,796 votes (48%). There’s an outside chance the results could change, but for that to happen, Lintott would need about 53% of the remaining ballots.
EYSTER said he won because people were impressed with his experience and background and the “high road” he took during the campaign. Doubt it. Looking at the comments on Eyster’s Facebook page, we noticed a number of law enforcement related names who supported him — Caudillo, Niemeyer, Welch, Rakes, Tobin, Higinbotham, Van Patten, Bryant, Paoli. And another (smaller) group of names of people who were charged with pot crimes but had them dismissed thanks to Eyster's sagacious legal work. Also conspicuous on Eyster’s page was heart-felt congratulations from Mindy Galliani, high-profile sister of Aaron Vargas who, a few months ago, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter of the man who'd molested him for years. Eyster's support from law enforcement and several persons involved on the victim end of high profile criminal cases, plus the support of the marijuana brigades hoping for a more rational approach to pot prosecutions, combined to get Eyster elected. Lintott, an active Democrat, enjoyed, if that's the word, the backing of the local Flat Earth Society, aka the Democrat Party, her office staff, and the large population of wymin who believe the worst woman is still better than the best man. If the Manson Girls were running against Abe Lincoln, the Manson Girls would get about 25% of the Mendocino County vote.
DA LINTOTT had hammered Eyster for accepting contributions from persons with matters pending in the courts. But, as Eyster pointed out while accusing Lintott of running an illegal on-line fundraising lottery and lending herself money rather than paying off her declared bankruptcy creditors, to know which of his contributors had cases pending he'd have to spend much of his work day at the Courthouse pawing through the filings. It became clear that the big donors to his campaign were more unhappy with Lintott than they were enthusiastic about Eyster. ""We keep close track of donations," Eyster said. "If I take office and find there's a pending case involving a contributor to my campaign, that case will be handled as a conflict of interest and prosecuted by another county or the state. If someone has contributed thinking he's going to get a break from me he's a fool and he's made a poor investment."
OF THE INFAMOUS, unresolved murder of Fort Bragg's Katlyn Long, Eyster promised "to personally review it. I'm not afraid of the big cases. If there's evidence there that can move it forward, I will move it forward. If there isn't, I want the folks affected to know that it's been thoroughly reviewed by a person who can handle a cold case. I told the family I was going to do that. I think people will trust me when I say I've reviewed it. It was brought it up at a Fort Bragg forum where I said it needs a second look. Meredith chastized me for saying that because it caused the family fresh pain. Meanwhile, these families were sitting right there. A man yelled 'Bullshit!' when Meredith said that and walked out. She doesn't even know who these people are and I do."
EYSTER has promised to do all the charging himself for the first six months of his tenure and to review all pending cases. He also has to deal with office management in a time of increasingly tight budgets. Because the public attorneys are now unionized and come under civil service protections, he won’t be able to simply fire those he may not like. He’ll probably appoint his own pick as Assistant DA (and Keith Faulder looks like he's first in line) and he’ll get a Chief Trial Deputy DA now that Jill Ravitch has been elected DA in Sonoma County. This means current Assistant DA Beth Norman will probably get a new assignment. We doubt there will be many other big changes in the District Attorney’s office any time soon.
ANOTHER distinct possibility is that outgoing DA Lintott will end up being employed by Ravitch in Sonoma County. After all, Lintott arranged a very nice job for Ravitch as Ravitch campaigned for DA in Sonoma County, a deal complete with the big salary and even a County car for Ravitch to commute in back and forth to Mendo from her home in West Sonoma County. Ravitch owes Lintott big time.
DAN HAMBURG defeated Wendy Roberts for Fifth District Supervisor. The preliminary vote count has Hamburg solidly in the lead with 2,474 votes (55%) to 1,984 (44%). Although there are 2,707 votes left to count in the Fifth District, Roberts would need to get 59% of them to win. Not likely, but not impossible either.
CANDIDATE Roberts was magnanimous in defeat. “Congratulations to Dan and to John Pinches,” Roberts said last week. “My best wishes to them and their board colleagues as they tackle the challenges ahead.” Mrs. Roberts told us last week she and her husband were headed out of town for a brief respite from Mendo's political hothouse. She took a beating in the chat rooms and comment lines where local loons get away with saying any old thing, often anonymously. Hamburg, of course, gets a regular pummeling by the lunatics of the right, the diff being that Wendy seemed to take it all more personally than Dan does. A reporter friend calls the comment lines "dumpster diving," which seems right to us.
INCUMBENT THIRD DISTRICT Supervisor John Pinches beat back a challenge from Willits City Councilman Holly Madrigal, with Pinches racking up a preliminary 2,200 votes (54%) to Madrigal's 1,845 (45%). It’s unlikely that Ms. Madrigal will get 57% of the remaining 2,462 uncounted votes, but stranger things have happened in electoral America.
MADRIGAL'S CAMPAIGN MANAGER, Jennifer Poole, assessed Holly's defeat this way: "Post-mortem? Well, the election is not 'dead' yet with 38% of the vote still to count in the 3rd District. Holly Madrigal's numbers went up two percentage points after the 1,642 ballots cast at the polls were added to the 2,533 ballots initially reported (mail-in ballots received through Monday). So with another 2,464 ballots still to count in the 3rd District, I expect her numbers to go up some more. Enough to win? Well, not likely, those 2,464 ballots would have to be even more pro-Holly than they're likely to be. But I've been saying ever since we started having 40% of the vote dropped off at the polls on Election Day (after Marsha Wharf forced a bunch of people who don't want to vote by mail into mail-in-only precincts), that one day, the final results were going to change who came out on top. And won't there be a fuss then? My realistic prediction for final results? Somewhere near 52-48%. I'm certainly encouraging Holly to run again in four years. We'll still have traffic problems in Willits, Caltrans will still be leading our leaders around by the nose making promises they'll never fulfill, and spending more millions on anything except solving local traffic problems, $38 million altogether so far on the mythical bypass. And we won't have improved emergency egress for Brooktrails because there's no leadership to make a realistic plan happen and no money for the grandiose second access road plan the Brooktrails board favors and which Pinches insisted be kept on the county's lobbing priority list 'out of respect for me.' Willits won't have a dam at Scout Lake (I mean, look, we already knew no progress in negotiations had been made, but now we know after last week's BOS meeting that the Boy Scouts haven't ever even called the county back, despite Pinches' assertions starting in January that a final agreement was days away from being announced.) We certainly won't be pumping water out of the Eel River, after wasting who knows how much county money on that boondoggle (and apparently on the Poonkinney Road project, too). People who shouldn't be busted for small grows will still be getting busted, and people who should be getting busted for large grows will still not be getting busted. Doubtful we'll see significant cuts to salaries at the top, including rolling back the 43% raise for the BOS in 2007 that Pinches supported. Apparently we won't have much of a Mental Health Department at all, according to today's UDJ headlines, let alone get anywhere with Pinches' and Margie Handley's big headlines about turning the Howard Hospital into a mental health crisis center. (We'll be lucky to make any progress on the Willits Action Group's quiet work to set up a volunteer-heavy mental health crisis apartment, which Holly supports). The museum? Already over first-quarter budget, says today's UDJ. Along with 12 other departments. Quite the 'balanced budget,' eh? I hate to bet against the Willits Library or the County Museum, but let's just say I don't think Pinches' campaign claims that he 'saved' those institutions will stand up (not to mention the fact it was Holly who called the Willits City Council members to alert them that the Library and Museum were on the chopping block, not Pinches). We ran a great campaign, with support from hundreds of local donors and volunteers; we all worked hard, and we're all glad we didn't see the kind of ugliness in this campaign that we saw in the 5th District. And again, I'm hoping Holly runs again in four years, and if she does run again, I think she'll win."
ODD, WASN'T IT? Supervisors Colfax and Smith — the former the lamest lame duck in local political history, the latter merely lame until her anticipated announcement that she won't run for a third four-year term — were invisible during the election, nearly as invisible as they are as supervisors. Nobody wanted their endorsements, but thousands of voters surely had them in mind when they voted NO on Measure C, the proposed half-cent raise in the sales tax. Colfax and Smith have refused to take the pay cuts everyone else employed by the County has either volunteered to take or has had imposed on them. And both the supervisors had previously been revealed by successive County grand juries as having cheated on their travel reimbursements, a base form of cheap chiseling about which Mendolib has been silent. Colfax and Smith not only claim to be liberals but progressives, a kind of super lib status often claimed by people who are barely Obama liberals. (We'll be filing a small claims action against Smith either this week or next to get the three thousand-plus she stole from the taxpayers. Colfax was, and probably still is, stealing, but his thefts were concealed behind such a vague accounting that even the grand jury threw up its hands.)
COLFAX AND SMITH almost by themselves sank Measure C, the Board of Supervisors' half-cent sales tax proposal. We were certain C was going to lose but we were surprised it lost in a deluge of emphatic NO votes, 70% NO. Supervisor John Pinches said last Wednesday that the reason Measure C went down to the large defeat was that “people are maxed out on taxes.” Some people said that Measure C was howled down by voters who didn’t like the way the County was dealing with retirement system debt. In their campaign ads, the opponents of Measure C claimed that voting for Measure C was “throwing good money after bad,” i.e., too much would go to paying retirement debt that the Supes had irresponsibly allowed to unsustainably increase. Others said that Measure C might have had a chance of winning if it had been targeted to specific services such as roads and law enforcement. The Supervisors themselves referred to the proposed sales tax increase as a way to “maintain vital services.” Are we to assume then that the 70% vote against Measure C was a vote against “vital services”?
EVERY OTHER sales tax measure put on the ballot in Northern California in 2010, both in June and in November, passed. And most school bonds (taxes) passed as well. So Supervisor Pinches’ claim that “people are maxed out on taxes” seems to have gone up in the same funny smoke that Proposition 19 went up in.
WITH THE FAILURE of Measure C, Supervisors Pinches and McCowen are already on record saying that more cuts are on the way for Mendocino County employees, especially those funded out of the General Fund. They already plan to lay off almost 30 more people from Mental Health this week or next, and McCowen has said it looks like the County may have to eliminate the “prevention” staff in Public Health. McCowen also said that Mendo might do what Sonoma County has done and put some kind of moratorium on road maintenance, almost all of it paid for out of the General Fund. The Library and Museum are also on life-support and may see further cuts. And the Sheriff already predicts he’s going to overrun his budget for this year and nobody knows, or dares say, how that’s going to be dealt with.
DAN HAMBURG said that one of the main reasons he defeated Roberts was that he offered Fifth District voters “a clear-headed direction for the County.” For a guy synonymous with the pot industry, "clear-headed" might not be the most convincing description of his leadership gifts, and Hamburg offered very little in the way of specifics about what he’d do if elected. Hamburg was simply the “liberal” in the race against the (somewhat) “conservative” Roberts. And Roberts did better than expected by getting 44% of the vote in a District that, in the past has gone about 60% in favor of the “liberal,” any liberal and we haven't had one yet in any traditional sense of the term. But in Hamburg's defense, it seems to us that the fear he arouses in the rightwing stems from his first go-round as a supervisor when he was quite effective. He’s smart, articulate and personable, which translate as the major political ability to frame issues in a way that brings people along with him. Not many people have that ability. I think we're going to see a lot of 4-1 votes on this Board of Supervisors with Smith (Colfax, too) who often seems inarticulate to the point of ga-ga, being the one vote.
PROP 19, so-called marijuana legalization, was defeated for lots of reasons, among them U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's statement a couple of weeks before the election that the feds would prosecute regardless of how the vote went. Prohibition didn't end until the Feds returned to the individual states the authority to regulate booze. Until the glorious day that the feds stop driving the dope bus, they will continue to function here as a kind of pot price support unit, taking off enough dope annually to keep prices lucrative enough to support a flourishing home industry. Anyway, Prop 19 ran into a great big NO in Mendo by 53 to 47 percent, a big defeat considering the drug's prominence in Mendocino County's economy. But here at the Emerald Triangle's ground zero we see the downside of the marijuana business — the violence, the wholesale grows on public land, the home invasions, the mass speech defects: "Like this dude like said like to me like...." Thousands of Mendo people, some of whom actually read the proposition, said this thing was a bad idea every which way. Incidentally, CAMP, Campaign Against Marijuana Planting, claims to have seized 4.3 million plants this season. Mendocino County led the way with 572,680 confiscations, more than a hundred thousand more than second place Tuolumne County. Note: It doesn't seem to have been widely advertised, but a state law that takes effect on January 1st, says possession of less than an ounce of pot will be an infraction punishable by a hundred dollar fine. Until January 1st, possession is a misdemeanor punishable by the hundred dollar fine.
WE THOUGHT PROP 21, the Parks initiative, would pass even though it, too, was flawed. Its requirement that people pay $18 per vehicle registration to fund Park upkeep was viewed by the millions of multiple-vehicle owners as too much. Prop 21's failure is bad news for Mendocino County, where state parks draw many thousands of annual visitors and maintenance, if not done promptly, means a rapid deterioration in the quality of the facilities.
MAN BEATER of the week is Miss Jeanette Long of Ukiah, a mere child at age 18 but already romantically involved with the low rent kind of cad who calls the cops on her when Jeanette gathers her 114 pounds and five feet one inch for a purely feminine slap to his slack-jawed puss. Sheriff! Unhand this woman!
ELEVEN people were arrested in the Piercy area of Northern Mendocino County last week as part of what was described as “a large marijuana growing operation that had been going on for 20 years.” Almost 300 plants and more than 800 pounds of drying and packaged marijuana were seized along with guns and about $71k in cash. Most of the people arrested were trimmers, according to Special Agent Richard Russell of the California Department of Justice. Many of the trimmers were from out of the area and overseas, according to Russell. Russell told reporters that Kevin Charles Muller, 47, Gayle Dennison Muller, 44, and Stephen Jeff Muller, 46, inherited the land from their Norwegian father and their citizenship is uncertain, but it isn't under investigation. The Mullers were arrested on suspicion of cultivating and possessing marijuana for sale and on gun possession charges. The alleged trimmers arrested on suspicion of cultivating and possessing marijuana for sale include Lorin Marie Hill, 49, of Springfield, Oregon; Alejandra Martinez Portero, 29, of Piercy; Samuel Ortega-Aguilera, 30, of Piercy; Martin Moreno-Perez, 31, of Malaga, Spain; Sergio Garcia-Moreno, 30, of Malaga, Spain; and Alberto Molina Megias, 33, of Malaga, Spain. All six were booked under $25,000 bail each. Eric Matthew Burgess, 26, of Windsor, also an alleged trimmer, was arrested on suspicion of cultivating marijuana and booked at the county jail under $10,000 bail. Ten of the defendants were released after posting bail and are due in court later this month and in early December. Megias remained in custody Friday. Russell called the alleged trimmers in this case “typical,” saying that he frequently sees trimmers like these. “They're from all over the world,” said Russell. “They look on the Internet to find out who needs work and where. They're usually young people traveling the world. They have no real career path, and they're living off the marijuana trade.”