Off the Record
by AVA News Service, November 18, 2010
YES, THE AVA was delayed again last week. Our Boonville Postmistress called the mammoth Petaluma distribution center late Friday afternoon to find out why they hadn't arrived anywhere. "Oh, yes, the Boonville papers are still sitting on the loading dock," the Boonville Postmistress was casually informed. Well, get them off the loading dock you lazy bastards and get them where they're supposed to be going! Of course if you say that the papers will be sabbed every week instead of once a month as they are now. I wrote to PO Central in Washington D.C. to complain. As I anticipated, silence from the Great White Father.
MORE THAN A FEW residents of Elk are disturbed to the point of distraught at State Parks ongoing removal of Elk's Monterey cypress, many of which seem to qualify as ancient if not native. Many other residents are pleased that the trees are coming down. Rene Pasquinelli of State Parks said Monday that the removal of the trees is simply part of an ongoing Parks program to remove invasive species and not, as it has been alleged, a scheme masterminded by Norman deVall to improve the viewsheds of favored Elkians. "These trees seed prolifically," Ms. Pasquinelli explained. "Among the old ones are many young trees. We're also removing eucalyptus, Monterey pine and cypress at Point Cabrillo and eucalyptus at Caspar." She said that the work at Elk had been scheduled for some time. With a plaintive sigh, Ms. Pasquinelli added that the long-term goal is to re-introduce native pine. "I'm disappointed it's become so controversial," she said. "We thought we were doing good things. We didn't anticipate the objections."
BEAR KAMOROFF WRITES: "The 18th Annual Willits Toy Run will be held on Sunday, November 28, 2010 (Thanksgiving Weekend). The Toy Run is a benefit for the Willits Rotary Club Children's Christmas Program and the Willits Food Bank. The Run starts at noon at the Evergreen Shopping Center (Ray's Food Place), Highway 101 south end of Willits. The party is at the Little Lake Grange, 291 School Street, 12:30-4:00 pm. Public invited, rain or shine. Live rock and roll with Ray & the Reveleers; Santa and Mrs. Claus; full course dinner; No-host bar; Big $1-a-ticket raffle; MC will be the famous Les Tarr of KMFB Radio. Admission: one unwrapped toy or canned food. More information: Our website is www.willitstoyrun.com, or contact Bear Kamoroff 459-1532 or Rich Venturi at Harley-Davidson of Ukiah, 462-1672."
THE COUNTY Board of Supervisors has approved the layoffs of 22 Mental Health staffers. The Sheriff, whose deputies and jailers are already responsible for the County’s more volatile mentally ill, was not consulted about the cuts which, as line workers are phased out, means even more work of the most onerous kind for his department. The mentally ill shouldn't be in jail. Jails aren't equipped of staffed to deal with the mentally ill who tend to get crazier in jail. But in Mendocino County jail has become the mental health alternative.
THE BOARD also voted unanimously to direct CEO Angelo and Sheriff Allman to specify 14 positions in the Sheriff's Office for layoffs. Theoretically, not all 14 will be patrol deputies, but a lot of them will be because most patrol deputies have less seniority. "If you want to cut 14 people,” said an irritated Sheriff Allman, “they'll be deputy sheriffs. They will be. We will not be able to do that Forest Service operation next year, and resident deputies will be part of Mendocino County history that we'll talk about for years.”
IN RESPONSE, Supervisor John McCowen repeated the Board’s simpleminded mantra, “We're in a situation where we have no money.” McCowen said the fiscal shortfall has become even more urgent because of the voters' resounding rejection of Measure C, the Supervisors proposed half-cent sales tax hike. But the overwhelming defeat of C, which lost by a whopping 70%, was clearly a no-confidence vote on the performance of the Supervisors as the County's managers, not a vote to lay off patrol deputies. If Measure C had been aimed specifically at raising money to keep and fairly reward deputies it would have passed easily.
THE CONFUSION surrounding how much the Sheriff’s budget was improved by the Deputy Sheriffs Association 10% wage cut agreement remains unresolved. Supposedly, that 10% wage concession represents about $1.2 million of savings, which may or may not have gone back into the Sheriff's budget in September. CEO Angelo told the Board that the current $1.8 million overrun projected in the Sheriff’s budget was completely unexpected. “This was quite surprising to all of us; we assumed that, particularly with the wage concessions being credited back to the Sheriff's department, the Sheriff and I both thought that we would be looking at the Sheriff's Office coming in on budget." No explanation was given as to why both Angelo and the Sheriff were “surprised.”
FROM THE LISTSERVES: Fifth District Supervisor Elect Dan Hamburg writing Thursday evening: “Let me put it this way... Kendall Smith is an exemplary supervisor and, all things considered, well worth her salary (whether it's $68K or $60K). David (Colfax) also served the district with wisdom and distinction for a dozen years.”
HAMBURG’S OPPONENT, Wendy Roberts replied: “Only someone who has rarely attended (and then slept through) board meetings over the past couple of years could claim that David Colfax has been serving ‘with distinction.’ He's become infamous for his irrational decisions and frequent rants and he joined Kendall in submitting falsified travel claims that cost the taxpayers thousands of dollars. Kendall, in fact, does work hard. The fact that she has many positive qualities makes it all the sadder that she is prone to vindictiveness and lacks any sense of what it means to be a public servant.”
HAMBURG REPLIED: “I will repeat what I said before: in my opinion, David has been a good representative of the fifth district as Kendall has been in the fourth. Both David and Kendall received 62% of the vote when they last ran for re-election. Obviously, the voters of those districts have supported their service in office.” Hamburg soon added, “Mea culpa! When David Colfax ran for a third term in 2006, he received 52% of the vote not 62%. However, it should be remembered that he won the election in the primary, fending off three challengers.”
OBJECTIVELY, both Colfax and Smith have been utter disasters whose net achievement has been to further erode confidence in both the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors and local government generally. We defy anyone to name a single accomplishment of either one other than pushing through a huge pay raise for themselves. The other three supervisors — Brown, Pinches and McCowen — have at least tried to act in the public interest. Colfax and Smith, apart from their grotesque chiseling on their travel reimbursements and their refusal to cut their pay while everyone else cuts theirs, have merely added to the confusion with their incoherent ramblings during meetings. Effusive comments like Hamburg's that only stand reality on its head, serve to confirm prevalent suspicions that Mendolib has one standard for it, another standard for everyone else. Hamburg could have said something plausible like, "They served at a difficult time," but by describing Colfax and Smith as exemplary and wise, well, those superlatives applied to those two are simply absurd. PS. Can you imagine the lib hullabaloo if, say, Pinches had been caught stealing County travel money?
THE SUDDEN move by Superintendent of County Schools Paul Tichinin to eliminate two of his board's seven trustees as a cost-saver rings as hollow as the Superintendent's empty head. Well, almost empty head. The old boy seems to have room for the cynicism this transparently phony move demonstrates.
TICHININ has worked at MCOE for four decades, and he's been boss for nearly two. He's just now figuring out that a 7-person board of trustees is extravagant?
THE ENTIRE $46 million annual MCOE enterprise is unnecessary. A central office of education in the 19th century made sense for Mendoland. Teachers were hired out of Ukiah by a two-person office consisting of a superintendent and his secretary. The teachers then trotted off on horseback to Mendocino County's far-flung network of one-room schoolhouses. The Superintendent sent them their pay by mail. By the 21st century MCOE had grown into the hydra-headed, multiple employee boondoggle we see today. Its mostly nebulous functions should either be eliminated or returned to the individual school districts of Mendocino County where MCOE's sole crucial function — payroll — could be done a lot cheaper. As is, Tichinin makes more than a hundred thou annually plus an array of free benefits that include complete health insurance for himself and his family, a life insurance policy and an edu-funded vehicle and fuel for his commute to Talmage from his home in Fort Bragg. He's one of these guys who, if you put a video camera on him during his work hours you'd see that he does absolutely nothing.
TWO WEEKS AGO, the Muller Boys of Piercy, Kevin, 47, and Steve, 46, got hit by the drug raiders for 9 guns, a buncha dope and $71,000 in cash. Last week, the drug raiders went back to Muller Farms and got them for $200,000 more in cash and 14 more guns buried on their unusually fertile land. The guns, wrapped in plastic, had been buried. "The cash," according to the police press release on these events "was in mason jars covered with trash and buried inside pickle barrels." The cops say they hadn't been aware of the Muller Boys because "of the property's remote location." The money and guns will go into asset forfeiture status, meaning the Mendocino County DA and the police will divvy it up. Of course if the Muller Boys can prove it was all left to them by their grandmother they might get it back.
CURIOUS ABOUT the Mr. Kruse pictured here, I asked my ace Albion correspondent, Mr. Roycroft if he knew him. Mr. Roycroft responded, "Sorry, I don't. What am I saying? I'm not sorry to say I don't know this baby raper. Strange beasts roam in the jungles of love...." Of course Mr. Kruse may be innocent of the charges which, according to the Sheriff's Department, "include allegations of sexually abusing multiple children over the course of several years. Such allegations of sexual misconduct were alleged to have occurred three years, ten years and thirty years ago." It has also developed that Kruse, who's lived for some time in the neighborhood of Spring Grove on Albion Ridge near where Captain Fathom makes his occasional home, has also functioned as coach of an all-female water skiing club consisting of little girls, and one marvels
at any parent who would turn over a child to this guy, that works out at Lake Mendocino. Long time Albion resident Beth Bosk says she has a vague memory of Kruse taking in abandoned hippie kids some years ago, and the Mendocino County Sheriff's Department reports that they've had inquiries of the suspicious type about Kruse going back to 2000. Kruse was not a registered sex offender.
JOE DON MOONEY sent us a copy of a film called "Gold," which Mooney himself accurately assesses in this week's paper at the foot of the letter from one of its actresses, Dorothea Dorman. As to the movie, I was shocked! Shocked! I tell you to discern in one of the big naked piles around which the narrative spins, none other than Dorothea herself which, contrary to Dorothea's rambling fig leaf of a letter-to-the-editor about the film's deeper meanings, is really about big naked piles, nude women, random boffs, and more naked women. A documentary, in other words, about the generic hippie, now grandparents to the Gizmo Generation. At first glance, I'd thought Dorothea's naked pile was merely one more piece of photo-documentation of Mendolib's founding convention, Albion, circa 1970. But closer scrutiny of the buttocked jumble revealed, of all people, Orville Schell, noted author and China scholar and the famous musicians Dan Hicks and Rambling Jack Elliot! There were all kinds of celebs before they were celebs cavorting with a seductive cast of attractive women, among them Dorothea Dorman nee Schmidt who, in the full fetch of her unadorned self, and in a more pious film, might have been cast as Eve herself! In a recent conversation about the movie with the Greenfield Ranch actress, Ms. Dorman referred affectionately to Schell as "Orvie" and described the naked piles as "nude water ballets." Orvie may be Orvie, but darned if these naked piles seemed, well, orchestrated. And where else but Mendocino County would this particular circle be unbroken?
THE INTREPID JIM HOULE called a demonstration last Friday afternoon to protest Bush's ghost written book justifying Bush's eight years of lie-based catastrophes. Jim's demo would begin in front of the County Courthouse and march a block west to the Mendocino Book Company where Bush's book was on sale. Jim describes what happened: "We had exactly two participants. One was yours truly (extinct term from the days of Radio-land) the other was Joan Vivaldo, my 'wife' and suffering companion. My Email elicited many responses, everyone had their own idea of what we should do, from moving the books to the crime section, to 'aux barricades'. None wanted to join in nor did I really care all that much. One friend and worthy Lib Labber said he would join but 'Gee Wiz, Anne was a friend'. Got a response from Carre Brown saying she hadn't seen me at Low Gap House lately and was happy to know I was OK. We stood around out front on School Street for half an hour and got a lot of comments and support from pedestrians. Dave Smith of Mulligan Books had corresponded and assured me he was not carrying the book and had moved a few older books about Bush and Cheney into the Crime section. Dave was only concerned that we not interfere with the booksellers right to sell books. Anne the proprietor came out immediately with a broom and swept leaves from under our feet (thoughtful?) and said 'It's not the book stores fault that he has a book of lies'. 'You needn't sell pornography,' I replied. Two people talked to me, went in, bought the $39 work of fiction. One of them told me she only bought it because of my sign. The other one said that my sign made him curious. 'Thirty nine dollars curious?' I asked. He shrugged. Three other members of Anne's grouchy staff came out and looked us over. A few said they were interested in what Bush said but could not possibly buy the book. That's about the whole story. It will take a mighty explosion to arouse us to march aux barricades, I'm afraid. The warm gruel ladled out to us each evening by the media still does its job well. (I've been standing out at the Court House most Friday nights since 2002. Sometimes there are one, sometimes 20 others. I found that it no longer mattered how many to me. Two is better so if someone starts a fight I have a witness. I enjoy the exercise. I do it for myself.)
IN OTHER NEWS from the media front, Barry Vogel has been suspended by KZYX. Vogel, an attorney and long time programmer at the station, was apparently informed by station manager John Coate that he'd been "outrageously biased" against supervisor candidate Wendy Roberts when Roberts was recently interviewed by Vogel for his popular show, Radio Curious. Ms. Roberts is not exactly a shrinking violet who, in the one show I heard of her with Norman deVall, got much the better of her detractors. I very much doubt that Vogel was terribly unfair to her. Besides which, so bloody what? A good argument clears the air, and if any place ever needed the air cleared more than Free Speech Public Radio, Philo, name it. Vogel's suspension is reminiscent of many previous bannings by the candy-arsed, tightly held, cult-like public radio enterprise, and it's as resolutely stupid of the station as its nutty suspension of KC Meadows a few years ago for, gasp! expressing her opinion on the pot question while hosting an otherwise nambo-pambo discussion of the issue. Meadows rightly told them to stick the suspension and never came back. Meadows, like Vogel, is very good at radio and both have always been a relief from the stumblingly inarticulate, humorless deliveries of most station regulars. Meadows is presently volunteering at fledgling KMEC operated out of the Mendocino Environment Center, Ukiah, now overseen by another knifed-in-the-back former KZYX-er, Christina Aanestad. Coate seems to be trying to play the gallant re Wendy Roberts by suspending Vogel, but he offed Miss Aanestad in the coldest, most oafish way possible, telling her to go away when she came in to work one Monday morning unaware she was about to be unemployed. Of course Coate is merely the latest in a long line of incompetent station managers — smarmy and about half as smart as he seems to think he is, but a perfect match for his Prufrockian board of directors. It would be good for Mendocino County public radio if KZYX went to an all-NPR and music format, which is what the wine gentry who put up most of the money for the station really want anyway because local controversy upsets their pastoral fantasies of singing Mexicans bringing in the grapes, comic hippies, the sun, the hills, the unprosecuted murders, the tweek, the fish-free rivers — the magic of Mendocino County. KMEC, if it can get a little money, is hoping to boost its signal beyond the floor of the Ukiah Valley. If it does, KZYX will at last have some badly needed competition.