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Mendocino County Today: May 30, 2012


RICHARD KRUSE of Albion has been sentenced to ten years in state prison. Kruse, 68, had been found guilty of molesting young girls under the auspices of a girls only water ski club. Charges against Mrs. Kruse for allegedly attempting to dissuade a witness were dropped. The Kruses are long-time residents of Albion where Mrs. Kruse continues to live.

RECOMMENDED VIEWING: BERNIE, starring Jack Black and Shirley Maclaine. A very funny movie with absolutely brilliant performances from everyone in a true story about a wacky assistant funeral director and a rich old lady. As I sat chortling throughout, I wondered why I'd never seen any of the supporting cast in other movies. But when the credits rolled I learned that except for three pros everyone in the thing lives in Carthage, Texas, where the events depicted took place. (Needless to say, the film is controversial in Carthage.) The only thing even remotely like Bernie is The Loved One, a comic masterpiece based on Evelyn Waugh's novel about America with an LA funeral business serving as metaphor for a country gone completely batshit. And that movie, with Liberace and Rod Steiger, was made in what, 1962?


RILEY KIESEL, 28, had been permanently 86'd from Dick's Place in Mendocino, so when he showed up Monday morning at Dick's a half hour before closing time, he was peacefully escorted off the premises by bartender Alexander Behounek, 32. Two hours later, about 3:20am, at the intersection of Little Lake and Lansing, Kiesel, apparently waiting for Behounek, to leave work, jumped in front of Behounek's car. Behounek then made the nearly fatal error of getting out of his car to confront Kiesel, at which point Kiesel stabbed Behounek once in the stomach. Deputies were quickly on the scene and located Kiesel nearby. Kiesel readily admitted to stabbing Behounek who was airlifted to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital in apparently serious condition. Kiesel has a record of local arrests going back to 2004, which include charges of carrying concealed weapons, drunk in public and marijuana-related offenses. He is now charged with attempted murder with bail set at $200,000.

ACCORDING TO THE MINUTES of the April 26, 2012 meeting of the Mendocino Local Area Formation Commission (LAFCO), the new Executive Director of LAFCO will be a Mr. Bruce Baracco (no relation to Baracko Bama). Mr. Baracco is currently a planning consultant at a one-person outfit called “Baracco and Associates” in Sutter Creek, a couple dozen dreary strip malls miles east of Sacramento. He was picked to lead LAFCO over the Mendocino County Employers Council Executive Director Tony Shaw. Shaw, who's a bit of a crank, as he would have to be given his association with the Ukiah-based Babbitts who comprise the Employer's Council, regularly complains about County government during public expression at Supervisors meetings. The Employer's Council's tedious political positions insist that Government is too big, too expensive, doesn't often enough consult them, the clear-eyed captains of local free enterprise.


SHAW'S HOSTILITY for local government apparently does not extend to a highly paid government sinecure at LAFCO worth about 90 grand annually for doing, well, basically, nothing. LAFCO sets special district boundaries for services like sewage, water, fire protection, but these little fiefdoms were set up years ago, so all the guy in charge has to do is make sure they're delivering the services they were created to deliver.

BARACCO will replace Frank McMichael, a former Supervisor and former LA cop and a former Navy man, perhaps Mendocino County's champion triple dipper, and maybe quadruple dipper if LAFCO issues him yet one more government retirement check. McMichael, it goes without saying, is a conservative.

BUT UNLIKE his soul bros at the Employer's Council, McMichael is a pretty smart guy. He was a good, if overpaid, bureaucrat in the LAFCO job, and he was the only official in Mendo County with the guts to tell the Board of Supervisors back in 2009 that there wasn’t enough water in the Ukiah Valley to support major development projects. So, here we go with another Tichinin look-alike, this Baracco guy, selected by a committee of libs, hence, perhaps, the affection for a Tichinin-like figure.


THE LAFCO meeting minutes provide more than the usual snippet about the hiring process: “Agenda Item 3 - Interviews For One Or More Persons For The LAFCO Executive Officer Position: After roll call, Chair [Richard] Shoemaker [former Supervisor and now on the County’s retirement board as well, a fact retirees don't find reassuring, explained the process as to how the two interviewee firms had been chosen and explained the expected process for today's interviews. You'd have thought they were selecting the new Pope, although it was clearly a done deal for Baracco given the libs hostility for the Employer's Council.

"LACO and Associates [Mssrs. Shaw and Rouda] Interview At 10:30 a.m. E.O. [Frank] McMichael escorted LACO personnel Randy Rouda [of the Eureka-based company] and Tony Shaw [LACO’s Ukiah Associate] into the Riesling Room for their interview. For approximately an hour the Commission questioned the two regarding their proposal and qualifications to provide Executive Officer services. Baracco and Associates Interview At 11:45, upon direction of the Chair, E.O. McMichael escorted Bruce Baracco and his staff into the Riesling Room for their interview. For approximately an hour the Commission questioned Baracco and Associates regarding their proposal and qualifications to provide Executive Officer services. Subsequent to completion of the interviews, the Commission discussed their responses to the interviewees and their relative ranking. During this discussion, Commissioner  McCowen departed the meeting at 1:00 p.m. for another meeting but before he left he indicated that he supported additional contract discussion with Baracco and Associates. At 1:20 p.m. Commissioner Rodin [Ukiah City Councilperson] also departed for another meeting but before departure indicated that her preference was Baracco and Associates. After additional discussion by the remaining commissioners, Commissioner  Hammerstrom [Fort Bragg city Councilman], seconded by Commissioner [Guiness] McFadden [public citizen], moved that the Executive Committee enter into discussions with Baracco and Associates for a possible contract and that Chair Shoemaker serve as the point person for the contact. The motion was approved on the following roll call vote: McFadden, Hammerstrom, Hamburg, [Michael] Kisslinger [husband of First Five Executive Director Anne Molgard] and Chair Shoemaker."

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “The whole world is hanging by its fingernails, refusing to be dragged into the future. That future is all about contraction. We could navigate our way into it but we don't want to. We want to stay right where we are with all our stuff and no need to make new arrangements and we are trying every last trick to do that. Can you not sense a terrible tidal surge of implacable forces under the headlines' placid surface?” (James Kunstler)

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