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Off the Record (Aug. 7, 2019)


Subject: Harinder Grewal

"In the June 26, 2019 edition of your paper, on page 6, you stated you were trying to confirm if Mr. Grewal had been placed on administrative leave from his job as Mendocino County Agriculture Director. Consider this confirmation. In fact, the County fired Mr. Grewal on July 10, 2019 without offering him a hearing of any type, despite the fact that according to Food & Ag code section 2122 '[t]he term of office of the commissioner shall be four years from and after his appointment and until his successor is appointed.' A claim was filed with the County yesterday. In addition, a complaint was filed with California Fair Employment & Housing Agency."

ON JULY 18, 2019, the Fort Bragg CHP was called to investigate a hit & run collision on Highway 1 at Little Lake Road that tragically resulted in the death of Calum Hunnicutt. Our investigation has been ongoing since the crash happened and the diligent investigation work by our officers has led to a person and vehicle of interest. [a well known Fort Bragg name, ed] The vehicle was impounded for evidence on 07/19/2019. Due to the fact that the individual name has not been released at this time, we are unable to release any information regarding their identity (per government code 6254(f)). If an arrest occurs we will provide additional information at that time. We would like to thank the Coast community for their continued support of us during our investigation. We are very grateful for the tips and information that has been provided to help us piece together this investigation. We would also like to express our sincerest condolences to the Hunnicutt family during this incredibly difficult time in their life. We will continue to work diligently in our quest to bring the person/people responsible for Calum's death to justice. Anyone with known information pertaining to this incident is asked to call the California Highway Patrol Ukiah are office at (707) 467-4420. CHP Press Release, 8/1/19

THE PRIVATIZED DEBATE last week among Democrat presidential candidates was sponsored by several mega-corporations, including a health insurance corp, who paid CNN $300,000 for the dubious privilege. The event kicked off with the usual frenetic but chuckling discussion by a panel of people consisting of attractive blonde women with big, white teeth, one black guy, and several lumpy white boys, the babble orchestrated by the ubiquitous Anderson Cooper. This panel talked about what the candidates would have to say to distinguish themselves one from another, and what it would take to beat Trump. 

THE MOSTLY WHITE AUDIENCE in mostly black Detroit paid upwards of $500 bucks to watch. Outside in crumbling America, roughly 15 million citizens of our 340 million tuned in. The preliminary talking heads referred constantly to the party's "left" while earlier in the day mainstream economist Paul Krugman pointed out that Bernie and Liz are social democrats, not "left" in any traditional sense of the term. Trying hard to be objective, I thought Bernie and Liz stole the show but Mayor Pete was also good. The rest of the candidates were unimpressive. Mayor Pete's overview opening was the best statement of the overall situation — looming planetary death, hopelessness among a large swathe of citizens, endless wars, etc. He was also more lucid on immigration. Liz hammered the obvious that the system was corrupt and rigged. Bernie, as always, was on message that the rich aren’t paying their fair share. On the subject of gun violence, several of the lesser candidates descended into pure mawk with fake anecdotes about 13-year-olds worrying about getting gunned down at school, but no one stating the obvious which is more of an existential obvious, in that millions of Americans have guns and millions of them are murderously unhappy. Bernie or Liz would make people less unhappy but as Rap Brown said years ago, "Violence is as American as apple pie." (or was it cherry?) Anyway, ultra-vi comes with citizenship and even the practical strategies like background checks and a ban on military assault rifles are futile in the present psycho-social-political context. Jake Tapper, of the three "moderators," was the most annoying. The event went on for three hours. Can any of these people beat the Orange Beast?

THE MAJOR'S PICK for best line of the Tuesday night Demo candidates’ debate was Elizabeth Warren's comeback to Congressman and corporate bagman Delaney who said Warren's ideas are impractical and "fairy tale economics." To which Warren replied, "I don't know why anyone would go to all the trouble of running for president just to tell us what we can't do."

WEDNESDAY NIGHT'S debate among another batch of Democratic candidates saw the same moderators, same format, but was disrupted twice by hecklers, one group chanting "I can't breathe" aimed at candidate DeBlasio, mayor of New York where Eric Garner was choked to death by a former high-school linebacker with big-guy muscles cop, another small group of hecklers demanding an end to deportations. And again less than five percent of the pummeled American people tuned in to watch. The commercials cost $300,000, about a third of Superbowl ad slots.

LIKE TELEVISION AUDIENCES for game shows, this live audience clapped and cheered on cue as the event began with a senior color guard clomping on and off before a nice rendition of the national anthem by a black woman wearing neon eye glasses. The candidates each were introduced like guests on a talk show followed by "a short break" featuring ads for a moronic movie about a dog, another ad for big pharma, another ad about some product that caused people in doc smocks to hug each other, an ad for an ancestry business, and finally a voice intoned something about "visionaries creating the future" that turned out to be an ad for the Postal Service!

JIVE-O moderator Jake Tapper came back after the commercials to recite the debate's rules, and De Blasio kicked off with, "I bring a message of hope" and a prolonged self-congratulation about the great job he's doing as mayor of New York, before ripping Biden and Kamala Harris. Candidate Michael Bennet, a shockingly obnoxious panderer who apparently functions as governor of Colorado, began, "I love America" and castigates Trump in all the cliched ways now rote among millions of Americanos, and concludes by saying he'll end "the three ring circus in Washington."

THE CLICHED RHETORIC had already reached blizzard conditions. 

INSLEE, Governor of Washington state said, "Democrats are the last best hope for humanity," translating to many of us as, “Then we're totally, hopelessly screwed." Said his priority is global warming and clean energy. Inslee's a big, earnest-looking guy reminiscent of the Crumb cartoon Whiteman.

GILLIBRAND, a nasal whinny-ing blonde who is heiress to Hil's New York senate seat, said her mom was her inspiration, said she stood up to the Pentagon over don't ask, don't tell, and concluded by saying she doesn't know the meaning of impossible. (I do, and you're it, Ms. G.)

TULSI GABBARD: "I love this country. I'm a patriot, Trump isn't." Strings out a series of ancient turnips about fighting for freedom, justice and equality and promises, "I'll bring a unifying spirit to America."

THIS VIEWER was already feeling slightly punchy from the predictability of the rhetoric as candidate Julian Castro yelled, "Public service is about you and your family! I'm for you!" He thundered on about being raised by a single mom and other verbal back rubs, stopping short of a vow to guarantee eternal life for all of us.

I THOUGHT Andrew Yang was the pick of this particular lib-litter, but he was ignored in all the after-debate babble. But Yang was articulate, didn't pander much and made a strong case for his impossible dream — guaranteed income for everyone pegged at a thou a month and how he would pay for it — taxes on the rich. "Unlike Trump, I'm an Asian man who likes math."

CORY BOOKER was interrupted by anti-police hecklers, the claim being that he hired "Giuliani's guy" to institute stop and frisk in Newark, a reference to Giuliani’s practice when he was mayor of New York, which probably lost on most of the tv viewers who have trouble remembering yesterday, let alone localized policies of twenty years ago. Booker's another guy heavy on uplift rhetoric. "Who are we as a people? We have deep wounds, deep challenges" and "We need to heal as a nation." Etc.

KAMALA HARRIS took a beating all night. She's got to tighten her arguments because she too often gets lost in the weeds of her plans, losing the audience as she rattles on. And, like most of the candidates, she's way too heavy on the bullshit. "We've got to look in the mirror and ask who we are. We gotta fight for the best of who we are," and so on.

BIDEN, did well all night, for Biden, and if you accept him as a plausible human-type being and candidate to preside over the accumulating wreckage of late capitalism. The old hack, his perfect teeth flashing neon white, has previously said the rich won't have anything to worry about with him in the White House. And they won't. He's definitely a back-to-the-future guy. “I will restore the soul of this country!" Which in Biden's case is unfortunately true. "Trump is destructive but we're too good for him to get away with it....." And, "We love it and we're not leaving it and certainly not leaving it to you, Donald Trump." 

ON IT WENT with few variations on their opening themes, through unimpressive and endless promises to reform health care, the justice system, military adventurism, global warming, immigration (pure mawk from all of them on the last).

BIDEN AND HARRIS got big blocs of time because CNN set it all up that way, but all-in-all the event held my interest throughout as the first debate with the other ten candidates had not. And there was much unintentional humor. DeBlasio thundered that "Americans know they're being scammed!" Uh, if Americans fully grasped the extent of The Swindle there would be blood in the streets.

DEBLASIO SAID that any immigrant with a Phd should get a green card for 7 years right away. The ponderous Inslee called Trump a white nationalist, Booker became the first person, I believe, to say "shithole" on national television when he castigated Trump's reference to the "shithole countries" of the world. Gillibrand says first thing she'll do is clorox the oval office. Everything promised over the three hours would require dictatorial powers to accomplish. We're probably headed for a dictatorship of some kind, but it won't be an altruistic one. 

I WAS GLAD to hear DeBlasio yell, "We have to tax the hell out of the rich." 

WHEN candidate Marianne Williamson said, "We need a politics of love," you could almost hear a soft sigh of assent go up from Albion Ridge, the Westside of Ukiah, many Mendo hill muffins, and the purple-oriented generally, "At last we have a candidate." Good vibes Marianne was asked by a little kid post-debate if she had a cat. "No," she said, "my cat died." 

ABOUT 4 PERCENT of us Americanos watched Tuesday's debate, which isn't a big number in a country that says it wants to remain a democracy. Of sorts. I didn't see anybody on the stage likely to defeat The Sun Lamp. Our ruling class, broadly defined as roughly 10 percent of our plump, uncomprehending people, own damn near everything and, as Elizabeth Warren pointed out, have rigged the system to protect themselves. (She's by far the smartest, clearest candidate. When some oaf laughed at her story of the young family man who died because he couldn't afford his insulin, Liz snapped, "It isn't funny." Smart and tough, and just what we need.) Getting back to the RC, it counts on the great mass of us not understanding how our country works, and depends on us faithfully voting against our true interests.

A CONSERVATIVE DEMOCRAT FRIEND, asked who won the debate, replied: "No one. I think this crazy far left agenda is going to kill the election for the Democrats. It’s not the right time. I liked the fact that the few more conservative democrats took on the crazies. They made some very relevant points. Elizabeth Warren seems the most solid. Bernie yells too much and seems like an old curmudgeon with an attitude. We already have an old guy with a big attitude about himself. Too much like Trump….seems extremist. I think the majority of the people in this country want a break from a 24/7 political maelstrom and hope we elect someone to come in who will bring us back to balance. Trump has exhausted everyone with treating his job like he’s running a reality TV show and can just do or say whatever he wants in any moment because he’s the BOSS and who’s going to stop him. And it’s pretty damn clear, no one can stop him. He truly is running the White House Above The Law. It’s frightening actually. The whole Republican Party is acting like a Mob, with McConnell and Barr doing the Boss’s dirty work. It’s all about money and power…the hell with anything else. If anyone thinks it’s anything else, they are listening too much to the lamebrains on the networks. Just follow the money trail. Look at foreign policy….Trump’s quiet little deals with the Saudi’s. It’s all about the money. Everyone I know is sick of the whole thing and wants it to go away….all the focus on the President every minute of every day and his cockamamie BS. So I don’t know. People tell me they have stopped watching and stopped caring. The racism and division strikes at the heart of everyone and yet we all look the other way and sigh. I thought that guy Ryan….he was the most balanced. Mayor Pete sounds too vanilla. My own predilection seems to moving toward Kamala Harris, which is surprising because for a while I really did not like her much. Now I think she has “the stuff”. And my gut tells me Biden and Harris would be a winning combination. All that matters is getting Trump out. We need less drama and no massive changes in the next 4 years so this country can calm down and recover from the intensity of his malefic rhetoric, calamitous decisions about almost everything (getting rid of Food Stamps??? geez and rolling back every single environment protection on earth) and his dirty old man screaming red face." 

MILLIONS of more or less liberal people say the same. The nut of the prob for the Democrats is that they've become synonymous with everything gone wrong in the country, which Trump exploits to the max, although it's been a bi-partisan effort to screw things up all the way. Maybe you know an optimist, but I don't. Given the magnitude of the problems, and the quality of the leadership, I'd say we're doomed as a species. 

WHEN I produced a recycled table napkin to mop my worried brow the other day, this guy says to me, "You know, Bruce, that's a gay signal flag." No, I replied, I didn't know that. "Droop it from your back pocket, big boy, and see what happens." Uh, at age 80, I believe I'm safely past the age of sexual assault. Of course if the assailant is blind and/or has some kind of geriatric fetish....

MSP ASKS 4th District supervisor, Dan Gjerde, “Your $85,000 per year Mendo supervisors voted themselves a pay increase in late 2017 - going from $61,200 to $85,500. All the administration & department heads have received pay increases - yet the rank & file are still laboring for 22% less than they should be making.”

GJERDE REPLIED: “Hi Paul, yes, we now know that County employees are, on average, roughly 22% behind the market. That's why this year's budget set aside a record $5 million in local tax dollars plus another roughly $4 million in State and Federal dollars to move all salaries as close as possible to market. We are in negotiations to work out the details. ...For the record, I am one of the few people you have ever met who has voluntarily declined part of his salary. In solidarity and in fairness with my co-workers, my salary is $15,000 below the approved amount.”

THE FIRST APPLICATIONS for the County’s “Climate Action Committee: 

Michael Potts, Caspar: Memo: “Climate change, whether anthropogenic or naturally cyclical, has been a deep concern of mine for more than 30 years. As a Board Member at Real Goods, and its Chief Technical Officer, I was asked to write a book, The New Independent Home, about "living under our own power," in other words, with a very small carbon footprint. Denis Hayes, founder of Earth Day, describes me as "a visionary with dirt under his fingernails" and an expert on self-reliance. As a founding member of Caspar Community’s Board, I learned the importance of consensus, the best means to generate it, and the ability of small communities like mine to develop resilience. Resilience in the face of inevitable and possibly catastrophic change – the incidence of large firestorms is an example – requires a level of awareness and readiness that is at the center of my work. I am eager to help my County integrate this awareness, readiness, and resilience into its everyday life. 

AND MARIE JONES, Fort Bragg: “I am the Community Development Director for the City of Fort Bragg. I have prepared a greenhouse gas inventory and a Climate Action Plan for the City of Fort Bragg. I am also very knowledgeable about climate adaptation strategies and the impact of climate change on natural communities, sea level rise, sea acidification, agriculture, water availability, etc. I welcome the opportunity to serve on this board.” 

WHEN WE SAW the photo of Richard Cauckwell accompanying Bruce McEwen's story on Mr. Cauckwell's jury trial, we thought the DA was wasting time and money prosecuting a hopelessly incompetent street guy. Cauckwell, a veteran of at least 9 local arrests, among them a parole violation, meaning he's also a veteran of the state prison system, had been arrested in Ukiah and tried for arson. His jury deadlocked 11-1 for conviction, but as everyone in the courtroom stomped around slapping their heads in disbelief that Cauckwell was going to get off, the veteran jail bird pled out, meaning he'll be out of circulation for a while. Which is a good thing for Ukiah. Not only has the guy been arrested many times for being a drunken nuisance, he's a major pain in the civic buttocks, one of these mean, lowdown street drunks who will run up to passersby and shout obscenities in their nonplussed faces. Not quite as crazed and as pickled as he might appear, Cauckwell, as is his right as an American, demanded and got a jury trial for his latest bust, convincing one starry eyed juror that he really hadn't knowingly ignited a presto log on the wooden floor of the building he'd broken into. This guy's a walking argument for permanent sequestration in a state hospital program we no longer have for the thousands of people just like him.


IF I COULD still be shocked by anything, I'd certainly be staggered by Connie Bruck's piece in the August 5th&12th issue of The New Yorker called "Devil's Advocate: Alan Dershowitz's long, controversial career — and the accusations against him." If the annals of scumbaggery are ever compiled, Dershowitz just might be the number one all-timer. Not only has he driven his first wife to suicide, he's now been named as prominent among the perps on Jeffrey Epstein's "Lolita Express," along with Clinton (natch) and Prince Andrew, among other high flying cho mo’s. Dershowitz (natch) is functioning as Epstein's lawyer. Epstein's cho mo vic is, predictably, being denounced by Dershowitz as "a serial liar, a prostitute, a bad mother" who could not be believed "against somebody with an unscathed reputation like me." The girl was 14 when the cho-mo’s captured her. All of which isn't the half of it. See the other half by going to this link for the late Alexander Cockburn’s and Norman Finklestein’s assessment of the man.

JAMES GREEN announces for 1st District supervisor: “About James Green — James Green is running for first district supervisor in Mendocino County because he cares deeply about ensuring that Mendocino County continues to be a healthy, safe, and supportive community we are all proud to call home. As a member of South Ukiah Rotary, the Greater Ukiah Chamber of Commerce, the Mendocino County Farm Bureau, and the Mendocino County Firesafe Council, he stays informed and engaged in community affairs.” John Sakowicz has also announced that he, too, is a candidate for the mostly Potter Valley, Redwood Valley and parts of Ukiah seat.

TWO MASS SHOOTINGS on two successive weekends, the first at Gilroy's Garlic Festival, the second at an El Paso WalMart sent me to CNN where I expected to find Wolf Blitzer spinning in his big chair in the Situation Room. But Wolf was stationary, and even seemed on the verge of tears as he reported that Beto O'Rourke was in tears. 

WOLF AND CNN were still showing the same jerky, indiscernible cell phone footage when a friend called to point me to the web where the shooter 's identity, photo and gun, plus his "manifesto," were posted within an hour of the massacre. Like the Gilroy shooter last weekend, this lone nut is a young guy. His statement says he’s fighting a Mexican "invasion.” The Gilroy shooter said he was unhappy. And no motive yet for the mass shooting in Dayton.

NOW WE'LL get the rote handwringing by talking heads, but not one philosopher to point out the obvious: Our society is organized in a way that promotes isolation and the mental illness that comes from isolation, that there are thousands, maybe several million, armed and angry psychos out there just waiting to go off, and what's most depressing about the true state of the union is that we all know, given all the givens, nothing will change for the better. 

MESSAGE FROM a Ukiah woman. "I volunteer at the Historical Society/Held Poage House and am writing a brief bio of Judge Held. In 1895, Held was studying law while employed as a court reporter. He also, apparently, was a newspaper reporter and I’ve discovered some articles he wrote in 1895 and 1896 about the Round Valley murders. What I haven’t found is any book or summary of the wild and crazy events surrounding this crime and the evil Mr. White. Yet, I seem to remember something appearing in the AVA and, maybe, in a book published by the AVA. Can you help?"

I TRIED writing back but my correspondent's email address was invalid, as was my response, I'm afraid. However, we're looking for stuff that may be pertinent to your quest, ma'am. 1895 was well after the Indian slaughters of the 1850s, but may have involved White's ("The King of Round Valley") slanders and attempted murder of his young wife. White employed a gunsel named Wylackie John to kill people for him. About 1895, the father (or uncle?), I believe, of the insulted wife shot and killed Wylackie John in a famous honor killing in a Covelo bar. White had instructed WJ to circulate rumors besmirching the young woman's reputation for chastity. 

THE KING OF ROUND VALLEY, Mr. White, was among the first white men to arrive in Round Valley, where his opening act was to gun down the Indians who'd assembled to greet him. He was saved from a murder conviction for killing another wife when a nephew of his lied for him in a famous trial in Weaverville. That nephew, Rohrbaugh, inherited White's vast holdings, and Rohrbaughs to this day benefit from the patriarch's founding crimes. (Not to be confused with the Rorabaugh of the Ukiah rec center on South State in Ukiah.)

TOO BAD more isn't known about Wylackie John who was said to have been raised by Indians and was fluent in many dialects. White employed him and, just as interestingly, also a black cowboy-thug, to knock off anybody who got in White's way. (Covelo had something of a black community following the Gold Rush.)

UNTIL early in the twentieth century, much Round Valley commerce and all legal matters were heard in Weaverville. Persons thought to be hostile to White were bushwhacked by Wylackie John on the long trail linking Covelo with the Trinity County settlement.

RECOMMENDED VIEWING: "The Cuba Libre Story" available on NetFlix. As a life-long pinko, I thought I knew a lot about Cuba, but this film taught me I didn't know much. It comes with a lot of old footage, all the way back to Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders (they attacked the wrong hill) and even photographs and the family histories of the Castro boys' parents. Sad, that after years of dangerous relations with Cuba, and after Obama normalized the relationship, here comes President Windbag along to renew hostilities. Among other things I didn't know included the details of the near nuclear miss of 1962 when the Rooskies installed missiles in Cuba and came very close to firing them at US, and US at them, until Kennedy and Kruschev came to their senses. Castro, incidentally, was all for not backing down.


 [1] Public education is not free. A majority of public school students could just as well not show up and they would be just as “educated”. In fact, students might find themselves more inclined towards self-education if not burned out in those ghettos of learning. I have seen it first hand as a teacher and previously as a student. Our institutions are fraudulent and need to be reconsidered on a mass scale to the demands of our time. Our industrial base is decimated and it follows that a public school system based on the industrial factory model is falling short. The property taxes folks are forced to pay more and more towards would be better served to secure those folks' own well being. Step into a classroom for a year or two and see yourself how respectful students are for their “free” education at the expense of the folks footing the bill. Classic case of stealing from Paul to give to Peter. The worst students run the classrooms. They know there are no consequences and when inclined those students can turn the entire classroom into a zoo at the drop of a hat.

Can’t hit ’em and they can’t be kicked out. Public schooling is a total shit show.

[2] The real problem with the Democratic Party is that it’s the party of urban coastal “top twenty-percenters” of the professional and managerial classes. The past thirty years have a been a s’mores and grape soda party for them, and they expect people who weren’t invited to that little party to be enthusiastic about keeping them in s’mores and grape soda indefinitely. All that other stuff is just a chiffon-thin veneer designed to conceal the party’s abject abandonment of the working class. I don’t expect any of this to end well at all, which is why I don’t get hot and bothered anymore about whatever flavor of Kool-Aid people on the Internet choose to drink these days.

One Comment

  1. Rick Weddle August 10, 2019

    re: ‘…nothing will change for the better…’ I say you’ll find that where things DO change for the better, it’s where someone, or some group INSISTED, and MADE it so. Career LOOTERS seldom, if ever, change ‘on their own.’

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