Off the Record

by AVA News Service, December 16, 2010

THE ARE NO Sheriff's deputies on duty anywhere in Mendocino County between the hours of 4 and 8am. If something bad happens between these hours, well, you're on your own. Two very bad things have already happened. A suicidal woman shot herself on Orr Springs Road a couple of weeks ago. Emergency responders couldn't enter her home without it first being secured by a cop. For forty-five minutes there was no cop, and when one finally arrived, the woman was dead. The cop who did show up had had to choose between the shooting and a rape call. Sheriff's Department funding has been pared to where these terrible choice in the deep hours of the day will become common if the Sheriff is unable to provide 24-hour coverage to all areas of far-flung Mendocino County.

ANOTHER HARROWING episode occurred in South Ukiah last week on Wednesday, the 8th of December. A mother and her 19-year-old daughter were asleep in their Briggs Lane home at about 4am when Romen H. Deleon, 30, drunk, came barging through the rear patio door, apparently intent on forcing himself on the younger woman with whom Deleon had been employed at Branches restaurant in Ukiah.

Deleon had worked at Branches as a bartender but was freshly laid off. The terrified women barricaded them-selves in the girl's bedroom and called 911. And called 911 again. And again. Three times they called for help, and help didn't come. No deputies were on the job. There are no longer enough of them to cover the 4am-8am period. As the women huddled in the bedroom waiting for rescue from the rampaging intruder, Deleon was trying to kick the bedroom door in. In desperation the mother called a nearby friend, David Simpson, 52. Simpson noted the time, 4:18am, and ran across the rainy street where Deleon immediately attacked him, gouging Simpson's eyes with his thumbs and beating Simpson in the face with his fists. Deleon also tried to bite one of Simpson's thumbs off. The heroic Simpson had unhesitatingly intervened without knowing whether or not the rampaging Deleon was armed. Simpson was still struggling to subdue Deleon as Deleon continued to dig at Simpson's eyes and batter the Samaritan in the face when two CHP units pulled up. Deleon ran off. More minutes passed when Sheriff's Department Captain Smallcomb, roused from his home east of Ukiah, arrived. Simpson was taken to the emergency room at Ukiah Valley Medical where he was treated for injuries to his face and eyes and his thumb. His vision is now impaired. Instead of the medal he deserves, Simpson, a rare man indeed, has a pile of doctor's bills. Romen H. Deleon turned himself into the Sheriff's Department on Monday night where he was charged with "battery with serious injury." Deleon is also being held on an outstanding warrant for domestic violence out of Yolo County and a drunk driving charge out of San Luis Obispo County.

SAD NEWS from Ukiah where Superior Court Judge Ron Brown has a cancer so severe and fast-moving that he is no longer able to work.

RICHARD F. KRUSE of Albion, along with his attorney, William Conwell, appeared before Judge Richard Henderson on Monday where Kruse entered a plea of not guilty to charges of lewd and lascivious acts with a child. The alleged victim was a member of the girls water ski team Kruse founded and coached until he was arrested last month. Kruse had been under investigation for molesting the vulnerable girls among his water nymphs for several years prior to his arrest. Specifically, Kruse is charged with committing lewd or lascivious acts on a child using force, violence, duress, menace or fear of injury. If he's convicted, Kruse, 67, will spend the rest of his life in prison. The victim in both felony counts is a girl who was younger than 10 at the time of the incidents in 2007 and 2008, according to prosecutor Heidi Larson of the District Attorney's Office. Kruse remains in custody at the Mendocino County Jail under $500,000 bail, and will appear next in court for his preliminary hearing on Feb. 9 at 1:30 p.m.

THE ROYCROFT REPORT. Doug Roycroft of Albion piled his car into a tree near Philo two weeks ago breaking his ribs and smashing his pelvis. Doug underwent restorative surgery last week at Santa Rosa's Memorial Hospital where he'd been confined to intensive care since his accident. The surgery went well and, Doug says, "I'm improving daily, and recovering nicely." Doug said Tuesday he looks forward to his looming transfer to Coast Hospital in Fort Bragg where he will complete his recuperation.

KMEC COMMUNITY RADIO, Ukiah, in conjunction with EarthCycles Media will broadcast the Navy's public meeting in Fort Bragg Thursday night, 5-7pm. The Navy intends to hold maneuvers in the far seas off the Humboldt-Mendo coasts. Naturally, lots of people object. These people will undoubtedly appear at Thursday's session with the alternately amused and appalled Navy brass who enjoyed a similar hearing in Ukiah last year.

LAUREL KRAUSE of Fort Bragg has almost single-handedly kept the effort to finally get the truth about the Kent State shootings that took the life of her sister, Allison, on May 4th 1970. That infamous event saw the Ohio National Guard open fire on a student demonstration. Allison Krause was one of four young people shot dead. Ever since, Laurel has agitated for a full inquiry. In just the past year, that inquiry picked up new energy with conferences that included new eyewitnesses and fresh auditory evidence, and just last week Laurel was honored when Dennis Kucinich read Laurel's commemorative poem about Ohio's shameful day into the Congressional Record.

A READER sends along a Wall Street Journal article about widespread travel expense fraud in Corporate America, noting, “They all do it. [Supervisor] Kendall [Smith] is just trying to be one of the boys."

THE DIFFERENCE is that even though her travel expense chiseling was discovered more than four years ago (along with Supervisor Colfax's comparably brazen nickelnosing), no one in authority has ever seemed to care. A big biz chiseler would, at a minimum, get a negative mention stuck in his personnel file. But in Mendocino County the petty thief not only skates, if he or she is perceived as a liberal, as Smith and Colfax are magically regarded, they not only get to steal they get praised as "dedicated" and "has served with distinction."

SORRY TO READ last week that Dandy Don Meredith had died. Meredith, a great player himself in his day, and a fixture on Monday Night Football in the Cosell era, always managed to be amusingly self-effacing, and the subtle shots he took at the pompous Cosell were dependably hilarious. Today, it's all big ex-jocks yelling at each other, "They've got to throw the football down field," and nobody ever says anything even remotely amusing or off-beat. Meredith gave up football telecasts when, he said, he'd realized, "You know, I've seen this game before." And that was it. He never appeared in public again in a time you've got virtual corpses shoving themselves in front of the cameras. I happened to be watching the night Meredith said, as the camera fixed on a scantily clad Cowboys cheerleader, "And now for those of you who'd like a little sex with your violence....." I watch football with the sound off myself.

WE'D HEARD that Supervisor McCowen had helped park cars at the big dope fest in Laytonville last weekend, the Emerald Cup. And we wondered how he and his fellow supervisors could justify its redundant garbage agency when it was running at a $50,000 deficit. McCowen responded: "1. I did not help with parking in the sense of parking or directing cars. I was in a group conversation with the Area 101 folks telling them they needed to listen to the guy they hired to do the parking, who was telling them they had a potential disaster depending on how many people might show up. I also moved some rocks and placed a couple of hay bales to reduce tripping hazards near the check-in table. I would help you too, if you needed to move a table or something. 2. MSWMA (the garbage agency) provides cost effective and largely non-duplicated services with its hazmat collection and illegal trash pickup. Recycling education helps reinforce the message. He (McCowen's old pal Mike Sweeney) saved $15,000 annually on-going by doing a recycling audit of the County trash collection. 3. Your real issue is his contract with the County to be our Solid Waste Director. In that capacity, his contract administration services resulted in $60,000 in refunds as part of the garbage privatization. But at $100,000 for contract administration it ought to be looked at. 4. Meanwhile, although the Caspar transfer station makes tons of money, a real goldmine, Fort Bragg has now determined that they would lose $100,000 if they ran it at the current gate fee. They solicited proposals from Solid Waste of Willits and Empire Waste. Solid Waste was the best deal by far, so the FB Council directed another round. Solid Waste is still the best. So tonight the FB Council will make a final decision on their preference and then ship the issue to the County. Key to Empire's proposal is an extension of the franchise contract for County franchise area #2: the large, irregular shaped donuts around Fort Bragg and Ukiah. The FB Council, at their 11/22 meeting, signaled that they really preferred Empire, the largest garbage conglomerate in the world, because they are the 'local' hauler, in contrast to the evil corporado, Jerry Ward. Empire does local pickup in FB so I guess that makes them local. And don't forget Lindy Peters, former FB Councilmember and Empire local honcho, who segued a career in radio to FB Council to local garbage front man. The supreme irony is that Fort Bragg is poised to sign off on the 'privatization' of the last remnants of publicly managed garbage in the County. The final act in the 'selling off of the Commons,' as Charlie Acker of Elk phrased it. Will this proposal be greeted with the same outrage as this summer's agreement for the five smaller and even less economical transfer stations? Will the coastal supervisors don their super hero capes and ride to the rescue? To be fair, the proposals from Empire and Solid Waste both call for lowering the gate fee, a benefit of competition, something we did not have earlier because only Solid Waste of Willits was willing to submit a proposal. Also, where FB has consistently drug their feet on this issue, now that they understand that even Caspar is a money-losing drag on their budget, they are in a big hurry to get the deal wrapped up, but are in the position of coming to us, setting up a possible reversal from this summer's debacle, where we tailored the deal to meet their concerns, only to have them renege at the end. The difference is, other than a couple of pro forma meetings of the JCC, no one has asked the County what we want."

I WOULDN'T particularly recommend it to you because I like you, but every few years I walk across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito, then ferry back to The City from that baubled little town, thinking about what it all looked like before the fall. Unparalleled vistas aside, the bridge part of the walk is unpleasantly noisy from the vehicles streaming incessantly past only a few feet away and, in its way, the bridge walk has become hazardous because of the two-wheeled lunatics weaving in and out of the foot traffic on their five thousand dollar bicycles. Got to be doctors and lawyers, I thought to myself, as one of these hurtling man-boys startled a little old lady almost over the side mid-span as he brushed past her at about 30 miles an hour, his emaciated form in shrink-wrapped black lycra, the whole of him covered with advertisements for imported this and imported thats. It's a relief to get off the bridge and commence the trash-strewn mile or so walk into Sausalito's two miles of bad art, cappuccinos and pizza slices. But like I said, the magnificence of the vistas redeem the close-ups. The first water borne trip of the morning back to the city, a bargain at six bucks, landed me at Fisherman's Wharf from where I trudged up Columbus and over to Grant to meet my friend Nadya Williams for coffee and communism at the Cafe Trieste. Well, better not put it that starkly. Nadya's an old friend, a long-time lefty who also splits time between the Mendocino Coast where she used to live, and where her children still live, and San Francisco. I hadn't been in the Trieste in years. I tried to get in years ago when I happened to spot Steve Schwartz haranguing a table of old beatniks. I wanted to get close enough to Schwartz to inspire one of his inimitable denunciations of me and my newspaper that he used to write to me in Boonville. With his buzz saw voice and the passion he brings to it, there's nothing like getting it from the man himself, but the place was stuffed that night, and I couldn't get close enough to Schwartz to set him off. Once a commie himself when I first encountered him attempting to disrupt a Trotskyist's presentation at the CP's old headquarters on Market Street, Schwartz has since moved to the East Coast, become a Muslim and now calls himself Ali bin Babble or something like that. I almost fell backwards out of my chair one night when he appeared on CNN as an expert on Wahabi Islam! The Trieste last week was not only uncrowded at 11am, the only person there besides the staff was Jack Hirschman, one of the best poets around, right up there with San Francisco's August Kleinzhaler. Hirschman's one of these artists more appreciated in other countries than here, but then that's an old, old story with American artists, isn't it? There are still lots of good writers around the Bay Area, but North Beach is kind of wan anymore, more like Sausalito, unfortunately, than it is the stimulating bohemia it once was. Argument is most places regarded as bad form, and anyway most of the people you find in bohemian joints like Trieste are conversing with their gizmos not each other. Nadya appeared and the three of us enjoyed an hour's gossip before I headed for the Ferry Building thinking to pick up a loaf at the Acme Bread Company, the only business in the building that offers the real deal at a reasonable price, and one of the only places in all the city where you can find good bread but not quite as good as they make right here in Boonville at the Boonville General Store. As a kid I thought bread was Wonder Bread. Then I read Henry Miller's liberating eponymous essay on the subject and I haven't downed a slice of Wonder since. Outside, at the north end of the Ferry Building, and enjoying the smell of the fresh wheat loaf coming from my back pack as I contemplated the passing parade, a middle-aged couple, tourists from Michigan, they said, pointed at Coit Tower. "What's that?" the man asked. I promptly explained that a wealthy spinster named Lily Coit had always loved firemen. She hung around the station with the boys who sometimes even let her go out on runs with them. But Miss Coit's corseted times being what they were, and Freudian interpretations of human behavior and symbols not much known, the repressed Miss Coit, her longing for her heroes unconsummated, had left this unconsciously phallic memorial to, well, the persistent upthrusts of her restless imagination, you could say. Most historians will tell you that the tower is merely her tribute to the firemen of her time, but San Franciscans know better. "Interesting," the man said as his skeptical wife, who hadn't bothered to look away when she rolled her eyeballs at my explanation, pulled him away. I watched a street guy go through a trash can, throwing its contents badger-like into the air when a clean shaven young man in a black leather jacket walked toward me with that telltale white guy's bouncing jailhouse gait. He brandished a stack of computer disks. "Sir, me and my sister, sir, are selling our music, sir, and for a small donation you can have it, sir." White guys who've had overly many encounters with law enforcement tend to overdo their "sirs." I gave him the four singles I had. In black magic marker my disk was inscribed, "The Fontenheads." So, a lot of musicians can't spell. At least the kid was trying to make a buck. Anyway, for a mere four skins I just might have in hand the next Sonny and Cher. I might be helping birth a star! There were also two 916 area code telephone numbers magic markered on to the disk. I watched him sell three more to passersby. When I got back to Boonville, I put the thing into my computer. There was nothing on it. I laughed. The kid was selling blank disks. For the hell of it, and just to be sure I'd been scammed, I called the 916 numbers he'd written on his blanks to further legitimize them for average suckers like me. At the first 916 number, an old guy answered. He didn't know anybody selling anything in San Francisco. I laughed. The other 916 number had been disconnected. Ha-ha. I got to laugh again. I'd been had, but I can't remember having had that much fun for four dollars.

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