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Mendocino County Today: March 6, 2012

A BILL passed Monday in the US House of Representatives and Thursday in the Senate would make it a felony to participate in many forms of protest associated with the Occupy Wall Street protests. Several commentators have dubbed it the “anti-Occupy” law, but its implications are far broader. The bill — HR 347, or the “Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011” — was passed by unanimous consent in the Senate, while only Ron Paul and two other Republicans voted against it in the House of Representatives where it passed 388-3. (Congressman Corktop of course voted for it.) Not a single Democratic politician voted against the bill, Democrats and Republicans being united with the corporate and financial oligarchy now terrified that the Occupy demonstrations will revive big time just in time for the jive conventions this summer. Under HR 347 it would be a criminal offense to “enter or remain in” an area designated as “restricted.” Even more sinister is the provision regarding events of “national significance.” What circumstances constitute events of “national significance” is left to the discretion of the great freedom lovers at the Department of Homeland Security. The occasion for virtually any large protest could be designated by the Department of Homeland Security as an event of “national significance,” making any demonstrations in the vicinity illegal. For certain, included among such events would be the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, which have been classified as National Special Security Events (NSSE), a category created under the Clinton administration. Also criminalized by the bill is conduct “that impedes or disrupts the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions” and “obstructs or impedes ingress or egress to or from any restricted building or grounds.” These provisions, even more than the provisions creating “restricted areas,” threaten to criminalize a broad range of protest activities that were previously perfectly legal.

THE CITY OF UKIAH has obtained a $3 million dollar grant to convert Carpenter-Hudson Park adjacent to the Sun House and Grace Hudson Museum into a garden of native plants crucial to the people who once lived in harmony with the natural world prior to the advent of the unnatural people, circa 1850. A key feature of the plan is to enclose the park, the Sun House and the Museum with a six foot high wrought iron fence to discourage the, uh, undesirables presently hanging out in Mrs. Hudson's garden where they shoot up drugs, pound down 40s and using the grounds as an open air latrine. The grant will install a garden of native plants linked to museum exhibits, probably complete with those awful audio descriptions of what you're looking at.

Grace Hudson Museum, Ukiah

THE SUPREME IRONY is that if the City gets its way, the grandmother oak that is the current centerpiece of the park, and the only identifiable example of a native plant on the premises, will be cut down. The tree apparently dropped a limb sometime last year and a large part of the park is currently cordoned off with yellow caution tape. The City looks at the oak as a liability and wants to cut it down. It might fall on a drunk, you see. The other supreme irony in play here is that several of the current park denizens that Grace Hudson wants outtathere are descendents of the very natives she chronicled in her paintings.

PLANS ARE ALSO UNDERWAY for a “Rails with Trails” project along the abandoned rail line in Ukiah and another stretch of track in Willits. The Ukiah trail is projected to run from Gobbi Street on the south to Clara Avenue on the north. There will be a meeting at the Ukiah Vet's Hall on March 13 starting at 5:30 to take the inevitable “input” from the public. The grants to enclose and “interpret” the Sun House and grounds, and to formalize the already well-worn trail along the railroad tracks, are both at least partly aimed at keeping Ukiah's large floating population of drug and drink people out of public view. They hang out at the park and shuffle along the tracks on dope and booze runs at all hours. Fencing the undesirables out of the park won't work and a bike path along the tracks will only increase their travel options.

AT THE FEBRUARY 28 MEETING of the Supervisors, Dan Hamburg asked that a seemingly innocuous item on the consent calendar be brought up for full discussion and a separate vote. Hamburg seemed alarmed that the County might co-sponsor a forthcoming event called, “Take Back Our Forests,” presented by the Jere Melo Foundation.

Melo was shot to death by Aaron Bassler late last fall on a parcel of timberland that Melo managed just north of Fort Bragg. Bassler, who was a mentally ill but high functioning, was growing, or attempting to grow, opium poppies on the parcel. Trespass grows by armed men or syndicates of armed men, are an ongoing problem for Mendocino County land owners.

The proposed event is advertised this way: “The Jere Melo Foundation will present a public forum, Take Back Our Forests on Friday, March 30th, 2012 at 6pm at Cotton Auditorium in Fort Bragg. The forum will educate the public on the dark realities caused by trespass marijuana grows that exist in our forests and open spaces within Mendocino County. The Foundation is requesting that the County of Mendocino be a listed sponsor. Presenters for the forum include US Representative Mike Thompson, Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman, Program Director Chris Kelly of the Conservation Fund and the Willits Environmental Center. There is no charge to attend the forum. More information on the forum is available at”

In other words, a group of people getting together to lament the marijuana industry's annual occupation of large swathes of Mendocino County forest, public and private.

“This is not something I really relish doing,” explained Hamburg, “to not agree with County sponsorship of this event, this forum, excuse me. I think I have made clear in the past that the idea that we can take back our forests to me is not one that makes a lot of fiscal sense or makes a lot of practical sense. The theme of this event, taking back our forests, is predicated on what I see in the lead-in to the program. Mr. Mike Thompson is going to be the keynote speaker. He testified recently that illegal grows constitute a national emergency. Whether it truly is a national emergency, I don't know if that's true. I don't know if people in North Dakota and Kansas and Texas consider this a national emergency. I do realize that there are parts of Mendocino County that have been very negatively affected by marijuana growing. I've said before and I will say again that I think a solution to illegal grows is legalization. And I think if we put our energy into changing the law we would get a lot closer to the outcome we want which is to stop illegal growing and stop the environmental damage and so on. I see the purpose of this forum as being basically to get the message out that there is a crisis on private and public forestlands and to leverage that into more state and federal participation in getting rid of illegal pot grows. I think Mike Thompson, Congressman Thompson, has made it clear that he wants to put more federal assets, including federal intelligence assets, into this purpose. I know from talking to assemblyman Chesbro that he is writing a bill that to put more state assets into this area. I told both Congressman Thompson and Assemblyman Chesbro that I do not think this is a wise use of public funds. I think again if we put the energy into legalizing marijuana that we’re putting in to trying to stop these grows that we would get a lot further. We have been at the war on marijuana now for three decades. Billions have been spent. Thousands of people are in our jails. Kids have their lives ruined, both by too much use of marijuana, but also by the sanctions that the government applies against people who are found using marijuana or with small amounts of marijuana. The other thing about this and it prompts me to vote no is, I think that what happened last fall beginning with the shooting and the death of Matt Coleman and then to the death of Jere Melo was not about illegal marijuana grows. It was about the inability of our mental health system, the county's mental health system, the overall mental health system that's available to people in the county, both from Mendocino County and from other sources, to respond to a family that did everything that they could to identify the fact that they had a son who was in very bad trouble. I'm not trying to point a finger and blame any specific person for that. But I think making these tragedies of last summer and fall about marijuana grows is really a misplacement of what happened here. If this was the Jere Melo-Matt Coleman foundation to try to enhance services to the mentally ill people in our society, I'd be the first one to line up and say Right on. But again, to make this about continuing to pursue a policy that I think is not, has not worked, is not working, will not work, at a time when governments at all levels are stretched to do what the people are looking for them to do is just not a direction that I as one supervisor can support. I realize, and particularly I want to say this to Supervisor Smith and Brown who sponsored this item, I respect what you are doing, I understand your feelings about this, but I also think I have to be honest about my feelings and although I think the Jere Melo foundation as a 501(c)3 is free to sponsor any educational forums that it wants to now and in the future, I as one supervisor am not going to offer my vote as a sponsor.”

Hamburg's brave and logical stand would not carry the day, and what kind of forum to discuss this issue would not include his perspective?

THE US SUPREME COURT announced Monday that California game wardens can stop and question motorists on the way out of hunting or fishing grounds to check on what they've bagged. The justices denied review of a California Supreme Court ruling in June that upheld the vehicle stops without requiring a warrant or evidence of lawbreaking. The National Rifle Association had joined a defense lawyer in asking the high court for a hearing. The case comes from San Diego, where a warden patrolling a fishing pier through a telescope in August 2007 saw fisherman Bouhn Maikhio reeling in either a lobster or a fish and putting it in a black bag. The warden stopped Makhio's car and found a live California spiny lobster in the bag. Charged with the misdemeanor of catching a lobster out of season, Maikhio challenged the vehicle stop and search. Lower courts ruled in his favor, but the state's high court ruled unanimously that the warden had acted legally. The need to protect wildlife for future generations outweighs the minor intrusion of a vehicle stop, said state Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye in June. She said a warden would be acting for the purpose of conservation and not criminal law enforcement, which would require a search warrant or probable cause of wrongdoing. Someone who has “chosen to engage in the heavily regulated activity” of hunting or fishing has a “diminished reasonable expectation of privacy,” Cantil-Sakauye said. The case is Maikhio vs. California, 11-527.

THREE MILLION to upgrade the park

To keep undesirables out in the dark

With self-guided tours

Recorded by boors

What a choice: zombie or narc.


One Comment

  1. March 6, 2012

    “Congress shall make no law respecting…the right of the people peaceably to assemble…”
    What did I miss?
    Jim Armstrong

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