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Mendocino County Today: September 2, 2012


DEPUTY COUNTY COUNSEL DOUG LOSAK entered no contest pleas Friday morning to illegally carrying a concealed firearm in a motor vehicle, and an infraction violation of illegal possession of marijuana while driving. Previous media reports that the handgun was in a locked transportation box, which would have made the weapon legal, were untrue. The gun was unsecured in the glove box. Losak, through his criminal defense attorney, entered no contest pleas, and Judge Anne Moorman adopted the District Attorney's recommended informal probation with the following terms and conditions: 25 hours community service through Mendo-Lake Alternative Service; forfeiture of the marijuana (previously seized); forfeiture of the .380 caliber handgun (previously seized); forfeiture of the ammunition (previously seized); 4th Amendment waiver (also known as a search clause) for the entire term of probation. Plus standard fines and fees, and obey all laws.


HUMBOLDT COUNTY GROWERS call Highway 101 from Laytonville to Willits “The Gauntlet” because so much dope is interdicted on that stretch of road. The latest bust, according to the Mendocino County Sheriff's Department, went down like this: “Last Wednesday (August 29), at approximately 10pm, Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputies conducted a traffic enforcement stop on Highway 101 near Laytonville. Upon contacting the occupants of the vehicle, it was learned that the driver had no California driver’s license and that his driving status in the State of Wisconsin was suspended. During this contact the deputies were able to detect a very strong odor of marijuana coming from within the vehicle. When the occupants were questioned regarding the smell of marijuana they admitted to having less than 1 ounce of marijuana and no large quantities of cash in the vehicle. During a subsequent search of the vehicle, deputies located three one-pound bricks of processed marijuana, wrapping materials and approximately $9000 in US currency. Suspect Kyle Gundrum, of Trinidad, Humboldt County, was placed under arrest and booked into the Mendocino County jail for possession of marijuana for sale, the sale, transport and furnishing of marijuana and operating a motor vehicle with a suspended driver’s license. He is currently being held on $15,000 bail. In addition, the cash located in the vehicle was seized as assets obtained by illegal activities.

MOODY'S has downgraded the City of Ukiah's sewer district bond rating from A2 to BAA1 and its bond outlook from positive to negative. $71.9 million of outstanding debt having been amassed by this particular small town's waste disposal system is repaid through sewer fees. Which are not only finite — Ukiah's pretty much built out, having reached max water supply — but inadequate to keep abreast of the bond payments. Which, we understand, are now being made out of Ukiah's rainy day sewage district reserves.

Sheriff Downey

FROM HUMBOLDT COUNTY SHERIFF MIKE DOWNEY on his request for federal assistance with marijuana eradication: “We’ve got enough large scale industrial grows in Humboldt County to keep me busy for years. I know there are still a lot of mom and pops out there making a little bit of money to pay their taxes and maybe go on vacation — I’m not going to get to those people. It’s just not within the realm of possibility considering what we are seeing out there in the field. I’ve never seen marijuana cultivation to the extent we’ve seen it now.” Downey said a recent bust in the Panther Gap area of HumCo netted a gang of Bulgarians. (Bulgos have also been active in the Covelo area. Mendocino County's legendary lawman Peter Hoyle busted a nest of them two years ago.) Sheriff Downey said a huge Hoopa grow where more than 26,500 plants were pulled up seemed to be the work of a Mexican cartel. “I believe there is a moderate influx of organized crime coming in to Humboldt County because they see the opportunity to make money and make it quick, so that is why I’ve asked the feds to help.”

RECENT STATE TEST scores reveal that Mendocino County's young scholars are 2.5% better at wielding the English language while 47% are judged to be proficient or advanced. In math, Mendo's students are one percent better at it than they were last year while some 39% proficient or advanced. “We aren't setting the world on fire, but we are continuing to improve,” Mendocino County Superintendent Paul Tichinin, told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, although it is unlikely that the County's “lead educator” is capable of passing grades himself.

THE MAJOR tried to examine the stats but came up empty: “The numbers are poorly presented and nearly meaningless — percentages of 'proficient' or better, whatever that means, by school, by grade. Generally, Anderson Valley seems more or less average compared to the state numbers. The percentages of proficient or better are up a little from last year in most classes and categories, which would seem to indicate the teachers are getting better at teaching the test. (To me, anyway.) Unsurprisingly, English language skills improve with age. Given AV’s relatively high number of English language learners and ‘economically disadvantaged’ students, I guess you could say they’re doing ok, considering, comparatively. But any real assessment of actual education using these numbers is useless because the standards seem arbitrary, the sample sizes are very small and inherently vary from class-year to class-year, and saying that percentages of students meeting an arbitrary 'proficiency' standard as a measurement device don’t tell you anything at all. I suppose some irrelevant comparisons could be made with other schools but the data is so chopped up into little bits that it’s way too tedious for all but the most edu-masochistic to delve into. And for what purpose?

AV High, Class of 2013

“FOR EXAMPLE, 44% of AV 11th graders are judged ‘proficient’ or ‘advanced’ in chemistry. But nowhere can you find what actual grades or scores they got on the chemistry tests which are pretty hard. A typical STAR test chemistry question from the on-line samples is: ‘Why are enormous amounts of energy required to separate a nucleus into its component protons and neutrons even though the protons in the nucleus repel each other?’

“POSSIBLE ANSWERS: ‘A. The force of the protons repelling each other is small compared to the attraction of the neutrons to each other. B. The electrostatic forces acting between other atoms lowers the force of repulsion of the protons. C. The interactions between neutrons and electrons neutralize the repulsive forces between the protons. D. The forces holding the nucleus together are much stronger than the repulsion between the protons.’ (The answer, of course, is D, but that begs the question of why the forces holding the nucleus together are so strong. The answer to which would show real ‘education.’)

“SO, DO ALMOST HALF of AV 11th graders know the correct answer to that or similar questions, and can they explain why the correct answer is correct? Not likely.”

Judge Brown

RETIRED Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Ronald Brown has died of cancer. Judge Brown was elected in 1996 and assigned to the Ukiah courthouse, where he at first presided over family law and juvenile cases. He was re-elected for two subsequent, six-year terms, when he presided over criminal matters and helped his colleagues with civil and traffic cases. Brown graduated from Sonoma State University, received his law degree from Empire School of Law and began his legal career in 1977 as a research attorney with the Sonoma County District Attorney's Office. He served as a Mendocino County deputy district attorney from 1979 to 1989, and as a county public defender for the next eight years. Brown has been married to his wife, Carolyn, for more than 30 years and has four adult daughters: Tiffani, Michelle, Megan and Kelsey.

THE BUYER of Ukiah's old post office building, according to the Ukiah Daily Journal, “is a woman who plans to turn the building into an eating establishment. She reportedly has hired a chef from another downtown restaurant. The buyer is listed on county records only as Steam Studio, LLC. Its representative, Fort Bragg attorney Sean Hogan, declined to divulge his client’s name.” (Sean Hogan is also a trustee of the Mendocino Coast District Hospital.)

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