Off the Record

by AVA News Service, January 13, 2011

JERRY BROWN will do what he's always done. He'll squeeze services for middle and lower income people, claim he's going for increased taxes to make up the budget deficit but set his phony taxes up in a way that they're certain to be rejected by the people who vote these days, those people being the comfortable classes who will say, "Good ol' Jer Agonistes. See how it pains him to squeeze those people like that." But Brown is doing what Democrats always do anymore and what he's always done — pound the people who can't fight back, the unrepresented people while he claims these are his only options. He joins the Republicans in claiming that gosh darn there just isn't any money to pay for vital help to the people who need it. In fact, there's lots of money, but don't look for Democrats, who move around in the same charter jets — Nancy Pelosi commuted in a 747! — and big black limos that the Republicans move around in; don't look for any of these people to put a serious tax bite on the big incomes. Both parties are the enemy. It's past time to oil up the pitch forks.

RIGHTWING HATE SPEECH. Sure it probably helped set the Tucson nut off last weekend, and a lot of these corporate-funded fascists who dominate talk radio these days are way, way out of line but, as American history teaches us, trash talking the weak and the undefended is hardly unique in our collective experience. It's been going on since the founding oligarchs set things up so nobody but people like them — aristocrats — could vote. Why are there so many of these audio and visual screwballs, the Savages and the O'Reillys? Because they reflect the views of their funders, people like the Koch brothers, that's why. Not that long ago we had the racist and anti-Semite Father Coughlin raving coast-to-coast, and before him Civil War-era newspapers routinely called for the assassination of Abe Lincoln. But the problem now is the pure numbers of unhinged roaming the land — lonely, isolated people estranged from their families, or without families or circles of family-like friends who might keep them from opening fire on liberals. I must say, though, that even I was shocked by a recording a friend sent me of Michael Savage going off on Mexicans in a diatribe about a savage rape of a young teenager in the East Bay. Savage said "This is what these people do." What? Blood libel right there. This guy makes a million bucks a year talking like this. You might hear some random idiot in a bar saying something as unhinged, but on a federally licensed commercial radio station? What's really surprising in this country is that there's not more violence than there is. It really comes with citizenship, and it's going to get worse.

THE TUCSON PSYCHO, and please say a prayer for his poor parents, apparently had previously confronted Congressman Giffords with this question: "What is government if words have no meaning?" And, as Alexander Cockburn points out this week, the cops found contradictory reading material at his home — Mein Kampf to Ken Kesey. If you own four books and they're Mein Kampf, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, The Communist Manifesto, and 1984 well, that's a negative mental health indicator right there. But long before he went on his rampage, everyone, including his parents, were at a loss as to what to do with him. And thanks to the two-party servants of the rich, there is scant help for the mentally ill. Forty years ago this guy would have been in the bin. Now, there are armies of them out there roaming around, angry and alone.

MEXICAN DREAMS. Last Friday night at 11:45 PM, deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office and officers from the the California Highway Patrol, responded to a report of an armed robbery on Registered Guest Road in Laytonville. The caller said "several Hispanic males armed with automatic weapons had entered his home for the purpose of stealing his marijuana." While law enforcement was speeding to the rescue, dispatch reported she could hear the sounds of gunfire over the open phone line, the gunshots and the alleged victim's voice as if he were talking to himself. As the deputies approached the house, the dispatcher directed the man, later identified as 22 year-old Justin Lee Vandergriend, to put down his shotgun and walk out to meet the rescue team. To the cops, "Vandergriend exhibited symptoms of being under the influence of a hallucinogenic drug." Vandergriend " was detained in handcuffs while his home and property were searched." No other persons were found on the property. and no evidence of any crime as reported by Vandergriend was corroborated. A loaded shotgun and approximately 83 pounds of dried marijuana were located in Vandergriend's residence, which also may have contained The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Vandergriend was arrested for possession of marijuana for sale and transported to the county jail without further Mexicans, er, incident.

IN-COUNTY murders, in terms of sophistication, seem to have taken a downward turn. Two weeks ago, a certain Mr. Campos, 46, and his 41-year-old girl friend, Josephine Navarro, 41, were sitting in "a 40-foot camping trailer about seven mile north of Willits on property known for marijuana cultivation."

(Oh, that narrows it down. Is there a property "north of Willits" not known for marijuana cultivation?) Anyway, it is alleged that Campos, drunk, had broken the leg of the family dog while "playing" with the animal. Ms. Navarro was protectively sheltering the injured pet in her lap when Campos tried to shoot it. He missed the dog the first time, fired again and again missed the dog but hit Ms. Navarro, killing her. Apart from its broken leg, the dog suffered minor injuries to its nose and jaw. He will recover.

MAN BEATER of the week honors go to Lucianna I. Borrego of Ukiah who was arrested and charged last week on suspicion of inflicting corporal injury to a spouse and assault with a deadly weapon when her significant other called the Ukiah Police to complain that Lucianna had hit him in the head with her iPhone.

The significant other said he "was experiencing dizziness and blurred vision, and had sustained a minor injury." We don't know what set Ms. Borrego off, but most of us boys would agree out front the guy probably had it coming.

A COUPLE of weeks ago, the cops and a platoon of related rescuers were called out to look for a 50-year-old Willits man who'd managed to get lost in Jackson State Forest. The guy was out overnight. Not to be too harsh about it, but anybody, local or not, who manages to get lost in Jackson State, should not be allowed to go anywhere unattended. It's not possible drunk to get lost in Jackson State because you're never more than a mile from a road, or the sight or sound of your fellow human-type beings. Another person managed to become completely befuddled last weekend in the vicinity of "1.25 Ten Mile Road." Yo! Lost people! The moss always grows on the north side of the tree, which would be to your left. No, no. Your other left.

AMONG the big-ticket time wasters by the newly constituted Board of Supervisors last week was who would be vice chairman this year. After about half an hour of pointless back and forth, John McCowen was named Vice Chair, somewhat out of sequence since if Colfax had stayed on the Board he’d be vice chair. Supervisors Pinches, Brown and McCowen voted for McCowen; Smith and Hamburg voted for Hamburg.

SHERIFF ALLMAN took another stab at convincing the Board to postpone the pending layoffs of five deputies (down from seven because two deputies decided to take resident positions in Covelo, the toughest area to police in the County). Response from the Board? Supervisor McCowen asked CEO Angelo what she thought. Predictably, Ms. Angelo said, No way. “At this point we are looking at an $818,000 shortfall in the county budget,” Ms. Angelo said. “If you delay the layoffs, you would be adding another $100,000 to $150,000 to the County's deficit. I would not recommend delaying this layoff.” And that was it. The Board treats Sheriff Allman rather like he was some guy who wandered in off the street to annoy them. Not one question went to Allman from the supervisors; no discussion of the end of deputies on patrol; no nothing. The layoffs will proceed and then, in the not too distant future, yet another round of layoffs will be forced on Allman since there’s nothing significant on the horizon that will suddenly replenish either the Sheriff’s or the  County's treasury. “We do this for public safety, to protect and serve,” insisted Sheriff’s Captain Kurt Smallcomb. “To lose 10% [of our uniformed staff] means now we have to worry about the safety of our own officers.” Since patrol deputies have been put on on-call status, response times are growing longer throughout the County. The five positions slated for layoff are made up of two corrections officers and three (presumably coastal) patrol deputies.

HAMBURG told the Ukiah Daily Journal last week that he wants to “restore some kind of fiscal integrity to the County,” which he said would be “hugely challenging because the state budget is so far out of whack.” It’s also difficult when one of your fellow supervisors, Supervisor Smith, is a self-admitted travel funds cheat and the supervisor you just replaced, Supervisor Colfax, never explained why he claimed that most of his social visits to the Bay Area amounted to “official business” for which he was paid by the County of Mendocino. Hamburg has gone out of his way to praise these two crooks as “hard working” and having made “incredible contributions.”

HAMBURG went on to propose that Colfax continue as the County’s rep on the North Coast Railroad Authority Board , a massive boondoggle operated by the Northcoast Democrats. Colfax has sat of the Rail board since 2007 as a sitting Supervisor. “He knows the players. He knows the issues,” said Hamburg. “I think this is a critical time for the NCRA, and I don't think we have the luxury now of putting someone on the board who would have to take time to get up to speed.”

FORTUNATELY, nobody agreed with Hamburg that Colfax should continue. In his place, the supervisors appointed  John McCowen who claims to have been following the NCRA for years and had some (unspecified) “creative ideas” about how the unused right-of-way in Mendocino County could be used. “I am up to speed,” McCowen insisted. He probably is, too. Whatever else you might say about the guy, he does do his homework. The board, including Hamburg, then appointed McCowen on a 5-0 vote.

A READER WRITES: "I have been asked to make sure the AVA knows about the ridiculously expensive remodel that is going on at Low Gap (Does a clerk really need two 20+inch monitors?!?!?).

WE DO KNOW about the remodel. The way it has been explained to us is that it makes access to the supervisor's offices easier, and it combines the Clerk of the Board's office with CEO Carmel Angelo's bunker. We agree, however, with the critics: it's the kind of thing that in an ever tighter fiscal context the remodel should have been put on indefinite hold.

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