Cooling Trend | 51 New Cases | Ballot Count | BOLO Covelo | Delivering Water | Fair HQ | Hopkins Fire | Apple Display | Chief's Report | Bull Rider | Darcy Art | Sheep Dogging | Westport Homicide | Arson Plea | Llama Lady | Beyond Desperate | Mother's Meth | Fighting Words | Ed Notes | Other Place | Probation Visit | Pilgram Popped | Yesterday's Catch | Adventurous | Battling Pandemics | Covidmandering | Feckless Congress | Young Customers | Bad Cops | Morning Glories | Moderate Sellout
A GRADUAL COOLING trend will continue into the weekend. Beneficial rain is expected to spread across the area Saturday into Sunday, with the heaviest rains expected along the North Coast. (NWS)
51 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.
ON THE LAST TWO COVID DEATHS (reported yesterday):
A 94 year old Ukiah woman has been confirmed as Mendocino County's 70th death.... The individual in question was vaccinated.
A 68 year old Ukiah man has been confirmed as Mendocino County's 71st death.... The individual in question was not vaccinated.
LATE NIGHT SHOOTING AT A COVELO BAR LEAVES ONE DEAD and Authorities Searching for Two ‘Armed and Dangerous’ Suspects
by Matt LaFever
In an early morning Facebook post, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s assistance in locating two armed and dangerous suspects associated with last night’s shooting outside Covelo’s Buckhorn Bar that left one person dead.
MCSO described the two suspects associated with the homicide:
- Dino Michael Blackbear (AKA Lincoln), 34-year-old, 6′, 220 pounds, black hair, and brown eyes
- Carina Amanda Carrillo, 32-years-old, 5′ 6”, 120 pounds, black hair and brown eyes
The Facebook post by MCSO describes the incident occurring near the intersection of Greeley and Highway 162 in Covelo at approximately 11:30 p.m. Blackbear and Carrillo were last seen traveling on foot near the area of Tabor Lane at 12:30 a.m.
Scanner traffic from last night’s homicide placed the incident at the Buckhorn Bar and portrayed a dramatic scene. The dispatcher worked hard to coach the reporting party through CPR while the reporting party initially was screaming through the telephone. The victim was reportedly transported via ambulance but succumbed to their injuries.
MCSO warned the suspects should be considered “armed and dangerous with a small caliber firearm” and urged members of the public to “not approach and contact 9-1-1.”
MCSO asks that any member of the public, “with information regarding their possible whereabouts is urged to contact the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office at 707-463-4086. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Office Tip-Line at 707-234-2100.”
UPDATE: COMMUNITY WATER SUPPLY REPLACEMENT IN RESPONSE TO DROUGHT
by Howard Dashiell, Director, Mendocino County Department of Transportation
(Monday, September 13, 2021) — Pursuant to direction from the Board of Supervisors (BOS) at their special meeting on August 24, 2021, for Drought Response – the County Recovery Division has applied for grant funding and authorized staff to advertise and award contracts to accomplish Community Water Supply Replacement. Furthermore, at the BOS special meeting on August 24, 2021, the BOS did authorize up to $1.5 million in “limited bid, informal contracting” to transfer potable water between the City of Ukiah and the City of Fort Bragg to meet needs in the unincorporated areas of the Central Coast before the awarding of grants.
Presently, we have contracted for approximately 10,000 gallons per day hauling to Fort Bragg using one truck with hopes of adding a second soon. Additional trucks are under consideration and the County would be interested in as many as four semi-tank trucks with a capacity of 5,000 gallons to 6,500 gallons per load. The projected minimum target need is approximately 950,000 gallons per month; we would like to have the trucking capacity to haul 45,000 to 49,000 gallons per business day. Specific quotes vary, but water transported from Ukiah to Fort Bragg is costing between 19 cents per gallon to 27 cents per gallon.
(Ed note: Or from $950 to $1750 per load.)
Pursuant to BOS direction residential customers will not pay any part of County acquisition or transport cost and commercial customers will share in only 20% of transport costs, which is estimated to be a minimum of 4 cents per gallon based on current hauling quotes.
Tankers must be properly licensed Potable Water Haulers Pursuant to California Department of Public Health, Food and Drug Branch for this program.
* * *
On Tuesday at the Board meeting Mr. Dashiell added that another water truck had been hired and two more were expected soon. “If we get these trucks we will get to near 45,000 gallons per day,” said Dashiell. Dashiell noted that bookkeeping for the arrangement is getting complicated and that the cost per gallon with the new trucks will be up to 5 cents per gallon for delivered water. One of the trucks Dashiell hopes to be on contract soon has applied for a State water board waiver because it is being refitted from hauling wine grape juice to hauling drinking water. Asked how the program is being received on the Coast, Supervisor Ted Williams said they were working on a backlog of demand and it will take some time to catch up. But overall the water is, of course, appreciated by the coast people and businesses who are buying it from the two licensed haulers on the Coast. Although the original expectation was to deliver at least 70,000 gallons per day it appears that the reduction to around 45,000 gallons per day may have to do with the capacity of the two retail delivery haulers who are picking up the water from Fort Bragg and delivering it to their coast customers. (Mark Scaramella)
HOPKINS FIRE: 30 HOMES DESTROYED, 95% CONTAINED; INVESTIGATION TURNS TO MOTIVE
by Matt Para
A damage assessment has found that 30 homes and 16 other structures have been destroyed by the arson-caused Hopkins fire, which was started this past weekend in the Mendocino County town of Calpella, just north of Ukiah.
That final tally is significantly higher than earlier estimates provided by Cal Fire officials that indicated the 257-acre fire destroyed at least 10 structures and damaged five others.
A Cal Fire incident report Wednesday also declared that the fire is 95% contained, with full containment expected by Saturday.
All evacuation orders were lifted Wednesday, though an evacuation warning was still in place, according to the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office.
Authorities continue to seek a motive behind the alleged actions of a 20-year-old Devin Lamar Johnson, of Ukiah, who is suspected of intentionally starting the wildfire that ripped through Calpella and forced some 200 people to flee.
“I don’t know what the reason would be, other than just to wreak havoc on the community,” said Mendocino County Sheriff’s Capt. Greg Van Patten in a phone interview Wednesday.
He said authorities have not found evidence of a possible motive and an investigation is ongoing.
“What’s an arsonist’s motive?” he asked. “To me, they’ve got something sick about their personality.”
Johnson was arrested Tuesday afternoon is being held at the Mendocino County Jail, without bail.
He has been charged with aggravated arson, arson of an inhabited structure and arson during a state of emergency, in addition to violating probation.
Van Patten said authorities identified Johnson after he was captured on surveillance footage from a trucking business on Hopkins Street, at the time the fire started. Van Patten could not describe how Johnson may have ignited the blaze.
“It’s indisputable based on the evidence we’ve collected that he started it, but the actual mechanisms for starting the fire is still being investigated,” Van Patten said.
Johnson was described as a Ukiah resident in jail records, but Van Patten said he was living with family on North State Street, near downtown Calpella, for “at least the last couple of months” leading up to the fire.
His residence was about a mile from where the blaze originated, according to Van Patten.
The fire was reported just after 2 p.m on Sunday and firefighters stopped its spread within several hours.
The fire started at the end of Hopkins Street near a gravel bed where the Russian River flowed before it shriveled amid a historic drought, according Van Patten.
From there, the fire marched north and east, up a 1,000-foot ridge and down to the western shore of Lake Mendocino, burning in dried-up sections of the reservoir.
An evacuation order was lifted Wednesday morning for about 15 residents on East Side Calpella Road. They were the first evacuees who would, in some cases, return to find their homes reduced to ashes, Van Patten said.
FROM AV FIRE CHIEF ANDRES AVILA’S CHIEF’S REPORT to the Communty Services District Board, September 15, 2021:
AMBULANCE BAY DOORS
We had a major failure of the ambulance bay door. The right-side lifting spring completely severed and we could no longer could use the door. After getting a technician out to fix it, it failed again to the point of hanging off the track on one side with the ambulance stuck inside. They came back out and fixed it (under warranty) and it is now in good working order. AVFD’s back up ambulance again became a major asset when it then became the first out ambulance until the repairs were completed. As preventative maintenance I will be having a service technician provide safety checks along with a lube, oil and filter service for as many station doors as we can fit into the budget.
The County has provided AVFD 40 rapid tests for first responders. I am told that they are not to be used as routine screening but rather for weekly testing of our unvaccinated members. Since that number is down to only one inactive member, I will be sparingly using them for any exposed AVFD members to protect their family members and the possibility of unknowingly passing the COVID along to others. In addition, I have been told that first responders will be provided the opportunity to get their Covid booster in late September.
Coincidently, as a precautionary measure I took a rapid COVID test prior to returning to the district after my deployment on the River Complex. The rapid test came back positive and was reinforced by the following PCR test confirming the results of the rapid test. I am now self-quarantining and following our local Public Health guide lines while working remotely. AVFD officers are covering duty shifts until my release.
PHILO-GREENWOOD RD FUELBREAK GRANT
Last week, Elk CSD notified me that their Elk Evacuation Grant through CALFIRE had been approved. This grant will provide roadside fuels reduction for 140 acres along Philo-Greenwood Rd. and possibly Signal Ridge Rd. AVCSD/FD supports this grant application because it not only is beneficial to our neighbors in Elk but it will also increase egress safety to many Anderson Valley residents in that area as well. Clarification is still needed on whether or not Signal Ridge Road is also included in the approved grant. I will advise the Board when I know more the Signal Ridge portion of the grant.
JOHN DARCY ART RETROSPECTIVE
L’Art Dans Ma Vie: A Life in Pictures — Art exhibition by John Darcy
A posthumous art retrospective to honour the life's work of our dear friend, including a silent action to supplement the cost of end of life services.
Opening reception - Friday, September 24th, 5-8. Silent auction through Saturday 25th. Art pickup Saturday 25th, 6-8.
Company Store - 400 S Main St, Fort Bragg. Please wear a mask.
For more info: email@example.com, Naomi 707.813.4130
MURDER IN WESTPORT: THE REST OF THE STORY....
On Sunday, September 12, 2021 at about 11:15 PM, Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Deputies were requested to conduct a welfare check in the 37000 block of North Highway 1 in Westport concerning a threatening text message sent by Mark Schwinghammer, 39, of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, to family members in the Westport area.
It was also reported that a second person, later determined to be Timothy Sweet, 30, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, was reported as having wandered away from the residence.
Based on the initial call for service, Mendocino County Mental Health was contacted but it was determined to not be a mental health related issue.
At about 11:55 PM, Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were contacted by Schwinghammer who was claiming his half-brother (Timothy Sweet) was missing after reportedly traveling to the beach to collect "mussels".
Upon arrival, two Deputies began to search the area along the beach near Wages Creek.
Approximately one quarter mile south (west of Mile Post Marker 78 on Highway 1) and south of the Westport Cemetery, Sweet's deceased body was located at the base of a rocky cliff and partially submerged in water.
Due to the changing tide conditions one Deputy needed to tread through deep water to a safe point along the beach while the remaining Deputy stood by with Sweet's body.
As the tide continued to rise, resources from Westport Fire Department and the Fort Bragg Fire Department were requested for a cliff rescue to assist in extricating Sweet's body and the remaining Deputy.
At about 3:45 AM, the recovery was completed and during a scene exam of Sweet's body it was discovered he appeared to have died as a result of a homicide.
An autopsy was performed on Sweet's body on 09-15-2021 and initial findings showed he died as a result of a physical assault.
Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Detectives were dispatched to the scene and took over the investigation.
A search warrant was requested from a Mendocino County Superior Court Judge and served at about 7:00 AM on 09-13-2021.
Schwinghammer was contacted at the residence during the search warrant and at the end of the contact he was arrested for the murder based upon probable cause.
Schwinghammer was booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in lieu of $500,000 bail.
Anyone with information or contacts with Mark Schwinghammer or Timothy Sweet in the vicinity of the Westport Beach RV Park north of Westport on 09-12-2021 is asked to contact the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office at 707-463-4086 or the Sheriff's Office Tip-Line at 707-234-2100.
Schwinghammer is believed to have been in contact with campers within the park earlier that day.
NATHANIEL CHIM ADMITS STARTING DUMPSTER FIRE
A Mendocino County man accused of a felony charge of recklessly causing an Ukiah fire this summer entered a no contest plea on Wednesday in Superior Court.
Nathaniel Scott Chim, 27, admitted his role in the July 14 fire. Chim set fire to a dumpster behind the Fairfield Inn about 9:30 p.m. and then fled the scene as the fire grew.
As part of the plea agreement, Chim stipulated to a three-year state prison term, the maximum sentence allowed for the felony charge under current California law.
Judge Carly Dolan will sentence Chinn on Oct. 13.
Deputy District Attorney Heidi Larson prosecuted the Chim case, based on an investigation by the Ukiah Police Department. The Ukiah Valley Fire Department officially determined the cause of the fire. Management of the Fairfield Inn turned over security camera footage used by investigators to identify Chim.
ILLEGAL WATER PUMPING
We have had legal marujuana cultivation in Mendocino County for several years. As a resident of Covelo, I have watched hoop houses and gardens sprout all over town. As a teacher at the school, I have watched the students start the year full of enthusiasm only to drop off in their attendance and motivation in October when the crops ripened, filling the air around the school with skunky odor, and filling the bodies of the students with disinterest in anything but being stoned.
Legalizing this plant was inevitable, but it only increased the illegal and dangerous climate in our hometowns, because frankly, regulations strangled legitimate growers, and enforcement of the law is barely existent. If the State of California was going to be afraid to enforce regulations concerning Cannabis growth, they had no business legalizing it. Now we have a situation where the money from this product goes to a few who take it out of the county, while our town and way of life crumbles to crime and dysfunction.
We run cows on various properties. Adjacent to many of these properties are illegal grows, too many plants, illegal generators, greenhouses that are brightly lit all night, poorly constructed illegal roads that badly erode hillsides, and pesticides.
Now, they, since many are growing on rangeland that has no water source, are pumping water out of the valley and hauling it up the mountain to the tune of hundreds of thousands of gallons a day or more. The trucks are illegal and the people selling water have no licenses to do so. The Cartels along with many large corporate growers think the law is a big joke.
Our wells are going dry, but their plants and crime is flourishing. Our legitimate businesses are struggling, but illegal growers, most of them residing outside the county, are sailing around, destroying our roads and endangering other drivers with their speed and heavy trucks. The lights from the grow houses are brighter than the regular lights from the town when viewed from the mountain where some of our cows live. Now, individuals are sucking our water out of the ground as fast as they can, endangering the rest of the population’s ability to create defensible spaces around their homes and have water for fighting fire, not to mention destroying our ability to live here. This is all while legitimate businesses in town were destroyed by arsonists, but cannot be built back because new permits require fire-suppression water systems that are unwieldy and extremely expensive. With well water, we can’t just put in fire hydrants.
This is an emergency situation that needs to be addressed. Mendocino County’s Board of Supervisors is responsible not for the Cartels’ well-being, but for the well-being of those of us who are legitimately paying taxes on our products. We did not elect them to preen before the small population of legitimate farmers, but to look out for the well-being of all their constituents. If there is not enough money available to shut down the illegal water pumping and thus protect the rest of our residents, then they had better find the money.
Please help us! We are, at this point, beyond desperate!!!
Ann Marie Bauer
LOCAL MOTHER CONVICTED OF KILLING NEWBORN VIA METHAMPHETAMINE IN MOTHER'S BREAST MILK
Defendant Heather Allison Marsh-Haas, age 31, generally of the Willits and Potter Valley areas, was convicted by plea today of killing her newborn daughter in December 2020.
Marsh-Haas entered a guilty plea Tuesday afternoon to Voluntary Manslaughter, a felony. To resolve her case, the defendant was also required to stipulate to the presumptive state prison sentence of 72 months.
A form of unlawful homicide, voluntary manslaughter requires the same lethal intent as murder. However, the culpability of the offender is deemed reduced or “mitigated” under the law by other negating factors.
Pursuant to the California Penal Code, voluntary manslaughter is also one of only twenty-two felonies characterized as violent in California so any work or good time credits the defendant may attempt to earn towards her early release from state prison to parole supervision shall be limited to no more than 15% of the total sentence to be imposed.
This conviction also constitutes a future Strike under California's voter-modified Three Strikes law.
As background, Mendocino County Sheriff’s deputies were called to the emergency department at Adventist Health Ukiah Valley last December following unsuccessful attempts by medical staff to resuscitate a 30-day old newborn who had been brought to the hospital.
As part of their efforts to try and save the child, hospital medical staff obtained a blood sample from the child’s mother to analyze to look for clues. Subsequent toxicology tests of that sample revealed the presence of methamphetamine in the defendant's drawn blood.
The deceased was later forensically examined by the county’s pathologist, Dr. Bennet Omalu, in an effort to attempt to determine a cause of death. With the help of toxicology tests, Dr. Omalu conclusively determined that the little girl died as a result of methamphetamine toxicity.
The joint law enforcement and medical investigations determined that the lethal source of the child’s methamphetamine was from the mother having recently ingested drugs that she then passed through to the child in her breast milk.
The local law enforcement agency that developed the evidence to convict defendant Marsh-Haas was the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office.
The attorney who worked with the investigators, charged the defendant, and will continue to handle this case through formal sentencing is Assistant District Attorney Dale P. Trigg.
Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Carly Dolan accepted the defendant’s guilty plea Tuesday afternoon and will impose the stipulated prison sentence at a sentencing hearing that has been set for October 8, 2021 at 9 o’clock in the morning in Department H in the Ukiah courthouse.
Any person interested in this defendant or this case is welcome to attend the October 8th sentencing hearing. Come prepared - masks are still required in and about the courthouse.
ED NOTE: Can there be a sadder case? I think 72 months is wayyyyy too much time given the circumstances, not that I know them, but surmising here nevertheless, a young woman with no resources, no functioning family, father long gone....so she reaches for that fatal pick-me-up and, as a graduate from a high school where only the "smart kids" took elementary biology, she has no knowledge of how her body — any body — functions. She's surprised as the doctors when her infant daughter dies from methamphetamine poisoning. Judging from her booking photo, the young woman is in shock, still is, from the loss she'll suffer over and over and over again all her days.
IT'S IMPOSSIBLE to unseat Democrats in most areas of California except north and east of I-5. Of course Newsom overwhelmed the wackos. Ditto for Ravitch in SoCo. Mendo, as the rest of the Northcoast, is a forever lock for middle-of-the-road extremists of the Huffman, McGuire, Wood, Pelosi type. Both the first and second congressional districts were gerrymandered for Democrats years ago when Willie Brown ran the California party, not that the area needed much juggling since it was already lib-heavy. But, given the recent Bernie vote on the Northcoast, a left Democrat could, conceivably, some glorious day, unseat a Democrat of the degraded type presently rooted in elected office from San Jose to Crescent City. Anyway, given the bitter chasm between Americanos these days, the Northcoast is already a kind of sanctuary for Nice People of the lib-lab type, and will seem even more of a sanctuary in the days to come as It gets rougher and rougher out there unto, if present trends continue, our Second Civil War when I'll be too old to function as anything more useful than a sandbag on the barricades.
OF THE COUNTY'S DEPARTMENTS, the least vaccinated seem to be the cops. Que pasa? Because most cops view us libs as sponsors of the aberrant behavior cops deal with everyday. In cop-think, since libs are vaxxed, there's probably something fishy about vaccination. The one cop I ran my theory by laughed and said, “I think you're on to something there.”
IF THE GENERALS mooted the Orange Monster to the point of calling up the Chinese to assure them that America would not attack them well… either the generals committed treason or Trump was a lot crazier than anybody thought. Trump is ignorant and as impulsive as a child, but likely to nuke the Chinese on his way out the door? No. Trump lead a Maga coup? Too dumb and lazy. Figurehead for Magas who aren't dumb and lazy? There he is.
GENERAL MILLEY, to me, is reminiscent of General Buck Turgidson from Dr. Strangelove. He seems a little out there, but certainly not as wacky as Trump. But like Trump, he isn't particularly competent, as demonstrated by recent events in Afghanistan.
AND WHAT'S with Milley and the rest of the Joint Chiefs with their chests full of medals, including good conduct medals? Jeez, even I got that one, as did my colleague Major Scaramella, USAF ret. The Major also got a medal for his clean-up work after Hurricane Camille, and several Air Force Commendations, two with oak leaf clusters for whatever. You'd never catch the real generals of yesteryear looking like the old Russian nobility. Can you even imagine U.S. Grant looking like that? Omar Bradley? Ike?
POOR OLD JOE was shuffled out yesterday for a photo op with General Milley, after the medal-bedecked military man admitted on Wednesday that he did speak to Chinese officials before the 2020 election and again in January. Milley was responding to a startling report that he phoned his Chinese counterpart without Trump's knowledge to assuage Chinese fears that Trump would take rogue action to stay in office. Not trusting Poor Old Joe to speak for himself, his glib frontperson, Jen Psaki, announced, “The president knows General Milley. They have worked side by side through a range of international events. The president has complete confidence in his leadership, his patriotism and his fidelity to our Constitution.” Psaki then got out the Demo Party line re Trump: “The outgoing president of the United States, during this time, fomented unrest, leading to an insurrection and an attack on our nation's Capitol on January 6th, one of the darkest days in our nation's history.” Milley himself said his calls to the Chinese were “vital to avoiding unintended consequences,” but he seemed to dispute that the calls were done in secret.
COVELO DRESS CODE
On Friday, September 10, 2021 Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies conducted a probation search at a residence located in the 23000 block of Howard Street in Covelo.
Present at the location was Jovan Campos, 20, of Covelo, who was on formal probation in Mendocino County.
During the search of the residence, Deputies located cocaine, several rounds of firearm ammunition and drug paraphernalia.
Deputies also found Bryan Sanchez, 19, of Covelo, hiding in the bathroom of the residence. Sanchez had an outstanding felony arrest warrant for burglary (459 PC).
Campos is a convicted felon and prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition.
Sanchez was arrested on the arrest warrant and Campos was arrested for the possession of a controlled substance, possession of ammunition and drug paraphernalia.
Both individuals were booked into the Mendocino County Jail.
Sanchez was to be held without bail due to the No Bail felony arrest warrant and Campos was to be held without bail due to violating his felony probation terms.
ROUNDING UP GUALALA'S ONE SUSPECT
On Tuesday, September 14, 2021 at approximately 11:45 AM, Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched to a burglary of a residence that was reported by the homeowner in the 45000 block of Pacific Woods Road in Gualala.
Deputies arrived, contacted the homeowner and began an investigation.
Deputies learned that the suspect had forced his way into this residence, while a 96 year-old female was inside. While Deputies were investigating at this location, a second homeowner in the same general area reported another residential burglary, with the suspect being captured on a home surveillance system a short time prior to the first burglary being reported.
Deputies, with the assistance of a Sonoma County Sheriff's Resident Deputy and his K9 partner, responded to the second reported burglary and found an open door. The residence was checked and no persons were located at this location.
Deputies observed an empty firearm case and later confirmed with the homeowner that a loaded handgun was missing.
Deputies obtained the surveillance video from this victim and were able to identify this suspect as Michah Ray Pilgram, 24, of Gualala, who is currently on Mendocino County formal adult probation for a prior burglary conviction, where he was convicted of burglarizing the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Point Arena Substation in March of 2021.
As Deputies were checking the area for Pilgram, he was located at 2:40 PM walking in the area of Ocean Ridge Road and Old Stage Road.
Pilgram was quickly detained and searched, per his probation terms. Deputies recovered the stolen loaded handgun that was concealed in his pocket and Pilgram was arrested for the following charges:
First Degree Residential Burglary
Possession of Stolen Property
Possession of Firearm by Convicted Felon
Possession of Concealed Firearm by Convicted Felon
Felony Probation Violation
Deputies will be seeking charging enhancements through the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office for the following:
Armed During the Commission of a Felony
Burglary of an Occupied Residence
A Mendocino County Superior Court Judge was contacted and briefed on this investigation. The Judge ordered that Pilgram be held on a "NO BAIL" status.
Pilgram was booked into the Mendocino County Jail, where he is being held on a "NO BAIL" status.
The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office would like to thank our partners at the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office for their assistance with this investigation.
CATCH OF THE DAY, September 15, 2021
ALEXANDRA ANDRADE, Ukiah. Domestic abuse.
ROCKY DUMAN, Ukiah. Grand theft, controlled substance, getting credit using another’s ID, suspended license, bad check or equivalent. (Frequent Flyer)
SANJAY MOHAN, Willits. Protective order violation.
PATRICK REDMILL, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, parole violation.
MARK SCHWINGHAMMER, Brooklyn Park, Minnesota/Westport. Murder.
ALEC WHYBURN, Ukiah. Domestic battery, protective order violation, damaging communications device, failure to appear.
THE 1918 PRECEDENT
Look up the 1918 flu pandemic and you may find that the means used to suppress that deadly virus were no different from what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging us to do now to combat COVID-19.
In 1918 and 1919, washing hands, wearing masks and avoiding large gatherings were encouraged just as they are today. After two years the disease disappeared. When the virus reached the point where it was unable to find enough hosts for it to be transmitted, it simply died out. It’s called herd immunity. For COVID to die out, we need about 70% of the populace to become immunized.
In 1919, people didn’t have a vaccine. Back then it wasn’t a political issue. It was a matter of people looking after one another and complying with scientific recommendations to do what they could to end a pernicious disease that took the lives of 675,000 Americans.
Today, more than 90% of children receive vaccines to protect them from diseases like polio, measles, diphtheria and hepatitis. Most anti-vaxers received these vaccines too. Still they find issue with the COVID vaccine. Strange.
The research is clear. Vaccines save lives. Masks help prevent the spread of the disease. Who is doing their part to protect lives and make COVID-19 a bad memory?
CONGRESS — COLLECTIVELY LESS THAN AN INKBLOT
by Ralph Nader
Bruce Fein, constitutional law specialist who has testified before Congress approximately 200 times, calls Congress “an inkblot.” Let’s see if he is exaggerating.
1. Congress has abdicated its duties and constitutional authorities to the president regardless of party affiliation. Presidents start wars, spend unauthorized money recklessly, defy congressional subpoenas, snoop unlawfully on their citizens, and lazily enforce the laws against corporate outlaws flouting the status of an indifferent Congress.
2. Since 1992, Congress has let the Pentagon violate a federal law requiring all federal departments to provide auditable data for its annual budget. By far the DOD has the largest operational budget in Washington and it is ridden with waste and is unauditable, thanks to a weak-willed Congress.
3. To evade its responsibility under the Constitution’s Declare War Clause, Congress resorts to Overseas Contingency Operations, a slush fund for the Pentagon to fight undeclared wars with tens of billions of dollars in discretionary funds. This is abdication big time!
4. Congress doesn’t conduct hearings or broadly investigate “forever” White House wars to determine changes in policies or to stop such wars as it finally did with the Vietnam War. Then, Congress simply cut off the money.
5. Congress is less accessible to citizens’ calls, letters, and emails on policy matters than ever. Yet many members of Congress and Hill staffers become closer to corporate lobbyists who write drafts of legislation before taking members for a wine and dine with campaign cash flowing before and after.
6. Congress starves the IRS budget leaving one trillion dollars a year in uncollected taxes according to IRS chief Charles Rettig. If collected, this money could be used to rebuild our infrastructure needs. The super-rich and giant corporate CEOs laugh all the way to the bank. Tax escapees are feeding at the trough like never before, as Congress aids and abets tax evasion.
7. Members of Congress have allowed, subsidized, and personally benefited from ravaging energy, healthcare, and financial industries. Trillions are wasted annually, with large preventable losses of life and property.
8. Congress has frozen the federal minimum wage at $7.25 per hour, allowed corporations to loot worker pensions, and perpetuated the most anti-labor laws in the western world (e.g., the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947).
9. Congress, repeatedly informed and warned for decades, allows the climate crisis and disruptions to get worse yearly. They’ve long known the future has to be an energy efficient and solarized society. Yet Capitol Hill remains stubbornly fossilized.
10. Perhaps the worst abdication is Congress actively enabling the vast expansion of corporate power over the constitutional sovereignty of the people. Unprecedented immunities and unaccountable harms pose the gravest peril to our posterity. No public hearings, no update of the feeble federal corporate crime laws, and restraining the few federal cops on the corporate crime beat means Congress is overwhelmingly soft on corporate crime.
11. Smug and operating in mostly safe-district silos, members of Congress will not reform our First Branch of government. The debilitating Newt Gingrich changes in 1995 cut committee staff, abolished the critical Office of Technology Assessment, and concentrated power in the hands of the four House and Senate leaders with paralytic effects that were maintained when the Democrats took over and remain in effect to this day.
We used to count on open-minded House and Senate committee chairs to conduct hearings and lay the basis for the enactment of environmental, labor, and consumer laws as well as Freedom of Information and whistleblower rights. No more, committee chairs now have to get permission from the top congressional leaders. The invisible costs to the public need exposure by a large Congressional press corps too occupied with official source journalism.
12. No political institution has gamed public trust into public apathy more skillfully. There are 535 senators and representatives whose names are known. They embody the most powerful legislature in the world and can remedy, diminish, or prevent scores of injustices by lawmaking and oversight of the executive and judicial branches. Yet Congress has so lowered the public’s expectations, by fueling cynicism and always blaming others, that people do not realize how easy it can be to turn Congress around and improve our society. Less than one percent of voters, backed by public opinion can organize such decisive power for change. (See, Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think).
People can start with protecting voting rights by organizing small Congress Watchdog groups (call it a hobby) and demand Congress work more than three days a week between long recesses and midweek fundraising.
Of course, I’m referring to Congress collectively. There are some good legislators who are honest and knowledgeable, but they are nowhere near as assertive and networked as they need to be, given the super-serious urgencies of our country and the tormented world around it.
Without adding to this list, it is permissible to charge Attorney Bruce Fein with exaggeration. Congress is less than an inkblot. It’s a streaming vacuum of usurpation that ignores our nation’s basic necessities and jeopardizes our future generations.
CALIFORNIA FINALLY CRACKS DOWN ON BAD COPS
by Dan Walters
Whatever else the California Legislature did or didn’t do this year, it finally — and very belatedly — took a long-needed step toward ridding the state of bad cops who victimize people they are supposed to be serving and taint their honorable profession.
Last week, after years of unsuccessful efforts to punish errant officers, the Legislature approved a bill creating a process for lifting the certifications — in essence, their licenses — that allowed them to continue wearing badges.
It made no sense that officers fired from one department for bad conduct could keep their certifications and find jobs elsewhere. But while the state has for many years de-licensed doctors, lawyers and other professionals proven of misconduct, it lacked authority to move against cops — one of only four states with that obvious regulatory gap.
The lack of a decertification process testified to the immense political clout that law enforcement unions have wielded in the Capitol.
For decades, the unions and politicians of both parties have maintained a mutually beneficial charade. Governors and legislators would provide what the cops wanted, such as high pension benefits and special protections from oversight and discipline, and in return the unions would trumpet politicians as supporters of law and order.
Recently, however, a surge of very questionable police killings, particularly those of Black men, fueled demands for reform, including punishment of cops who are needlessly violent.
In 2018, only a couple of miles from California’s Capitol, Stephon Clark, who was suspected of vandalizing cars, died in a fusillade of bullets fired by two Sacramento officers who erroneously thought they saw a gun in his hand.
Clark’s death touched off massive protests in Sacramento and demands for reform after the local district attorney declared that the shooting was justified under state law.
The Clark incident generated enough backlash that San Diego Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (now California’s secretary of state) persuaded her fellow legislators and Gov. Gavin Newsom to change the law governing police use of deadly force, limiting it to protecting officers or others from death or serious injury.
The political heat was turned up even more after last year’s infamous death of George Floyd with Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin’s knee on his neck. It triggered a nationwide reaction and eventually resulted in Chauvin’s murder conviction and imprisonment.
The furor over the Floyd case gave state Sen. Steven Bradford some additional momentum for his drive to decertify bad cops. Bradford, a San Pedro Democrat, couldn’t get legislation passed in 2020, thanks to opposition from police unions and other law enforcement groups, but he succeeded this year after softening some provisions of his measure, Senate Bill 2, just before final votes.
Under the revised bill, California’s Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) would be empowered to strip an officer’s certification, but only on a two-thirds vote and after an advisory board recommended the action.
Bradford hailed SB 2 as “the first of its kind in California.” However, the law enforcement groups remain opposed and advocates of reform are concerned that it requires too many hoops to be as effective as they want.
The state’s other licensing agencies are often criticized for being too cozy with those they regulate and too lenient. Given the concessions that Bradford had to make to get SB 2 passed, that could happen with POST as well. But at least it’s a start on something that should have happened decades ago.
DEMOCRATS SUFFER BLOW ON DRUG PRICING AS 3 MODERATES BUCK PARTY
Democrats' signature legislation to lower drug prices was defeated in a House committee on Wednesday as three moderate Democrats voted against their party. Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), Scott Peters (D-Calif.), and Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) voted against the measure to allow the secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower drug prices, a long-held goal of Democrats.