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Mendocino County Today: September 7, 2012

FOR THE SECOND DAY running, the North Pass Fire, northeast of Covelo, has remained at 42,000 acres. Containment was holding at 68% Thursday morning, according to CalFire. Lightning started the fire on August 18th some ten miles northeast of Covelo near Williams Valley. The blaze has since burned north and east, spreading into the Yolla Bolly Middle Eel Wilderness, sometimes gaining as many as 4,000 acres per day. But, for the past two days, the fire lines have held.

EVERY FALL for the last few years, an outside chain company called Halloween City has set up shop in Ukiah to sell Halloween gear at discounted prices. These fly-by-nights are opposed by many of the town's struggling small businesses, especially the long-time Ukiah business called Incognito, which sells a lot of the same stuff. Tracy Oswald, the owner of Incognito, a store in competition with Halloween City, is represented by the law firm of Carter, Momsen and Knight.

JARED CARTER, representing Ms. Oswald, told the Ukiah City Council at an appeal hearing Wednesday night that allowing the temporary use permit for a visiting vampire business that annually swoops in to undercut locals, was inconsistent with Ukiah's General Plan and zoning laws. In addition, Carter said the “full impacts, both environmental and economic, of such destructive short-term, 'hit-and-run' operations” had not been adequately studied in the staff report.

CARTER, echoed by other small business owners, said if Incognito was forced to close because of unfair competition, Ukiah's decaying downtown would suffer further decay.

AFTER THE HEARING, the City Council voted 4-1 to approve Halloween City’s permit. Councilmembers Landis, Baldwin, Rodin and Crane voting yes; Councilman Thomas voting no. The permit approvers were quoted saying that they didn’t want to interfere with competition.

NO ONE has yet seriously quarreled with the DA's finding that the shooting of Aaron Bassler was justified given Bassler's demonstrated commitment to homicide. Sonya Nesch and Jim Bassler, however, continue to maintain that if Laura's Law had been in effect the murders committed by Bassler, and his own dispatch by a Sacramento swat team, could have been avoided. But Bassler did not meet the criteria for Laura's Law which, in any case, was not in effect in here in Mendoland at the time of the murders.

ROBIN BANKS, writing for the Mendocino Country Independent, formerly published by the late Richard Johnson, aka the One True Green aka OTG, and now published by former KZYX newsman Christina Annestad, accuses DA Eyster of “an ugly distortion” and a “nasty cover-up on behalf of the county's broken mental health care system.” Banks claims Eyster composed “an adamant and ludicrous sanity diagnosis on a dead guy.” Second, Banks says Eyster “stretches the truth even further to make the county's dysfunctional mental health system sound fantastic.”

EYSTER'S MOTIVE for the alleged cover-up? According to Banks it is “almost certainly to score points with county bosses,” concluding that “an elected DA doing the dirty work for an unelected and already much too powerful county CEO should deeply worry all the sane people out there. By Eyster's standards, that is everybody who says so,” a reference to the fact that Bassler, like most crazy people, didn't think he was crazy.

BANKS' SAYS “Eyster's completely goofy statements about a comprehensive and effective jail mental health system are so far from any reality we have ever seen that one must wonder about his accounts of the shooting, which otherwise seem impartial, reasoned and sensible.”

AS IS BANKS' GOOFY statement that Eyster said any such thing. Eyster merely footnotes Bassler behavior while in custody, which gave no indication he was mentally ill. Crazy people do not turn it off just because they're in jail. Crazy means they can't turn it off.

BANK'S UNINFORMED tirade stands in sharp contrast to Eyster's methodical report with its matter of fact re-telling of the verified facts. There's little indication that Banks even read Eyster's report. If he did his reading comprehension skills are deficient.

EYSTER ALSO NOTES that Bassler's mother described her son as having fits of anger and being “paranoid,” behavior she attributed to her son “taking acid.” Lots of people have failed to return, or return fully from their acid journeys, but Bassler was not the babbling psychotic we associate with acid casualites. Eyster also notes the senior Bassler's opinion that his son was a paranoid schizophrenic and quotes a friend describing Bassler junior “becoming more radical about being able to survive any type of armed encounter with the federal government,” and how he talked about building bunkers and considered himself a survivalist. Several million apocalyptic-oriented Americans say the same kinds of things but don't meet the legal definition of crazy.

AARON BASSLER did lethally crazy things, but until he began his homicidal rampage he wasn't any crazier than, say, militia types, survivalists, religious fundies, Building 7 obsessives, birthers, the typical denizen of the Mendocino Environment Center, and other more or less functional delusionals roaming our wacky land.

AARON BASSLER was rational enough to know when he had to straighten up to avoid having a mental illness jacket hung on him when he was briefly sequestered by the feds after he'd hurled crazy-grams over the fence of the Chinese consulate in San Francisco. He could pull himself together just fine when he was in custody.

THE CHINESE CONSULATE case was resolved by the feds ordering Bassler to get counseling, but according to Bassler's mother after nine months of visits with a therapist based in Santa Rosa, no signs of serious mental illness were noted.

BANKS manages to conclude that Eyster is also a pot-basher. The late OTG, as those of us who had the bracing pleasure of his mortal company will recall, made marijuana the primary cause of his befuddled life. An alarmed Banks somehow concludes that because Bassler was known to have smoked pot, Eyster is a reefer madness guy who believed pot caused Bassler to murder!

ACCORDING to the toxicology report, Bassler had smoked marijuana maybe five hours prior to his own death. Eyster simply reported that fact from the coroner's report, in the same way that he reports that Jere Melo had caffeine and derivatives of tea or cocoa in his system. The sacred herb is not made the scapegoat for any of this.

WHAT EYSTER DOES NOT mention, are the letters that the Bassler family claims to have written to “the judge,” the County psychiatrist, and the Public Defender. Supervisor Hamburg said during the Laura's Law discussion that there was no record of those letters being received by the people to which they were addressed. But assuming the letters were written, (and no doubt they were), and assuming they were received and read by the responsible parties, (and this is an unknown), it is still an open question if the letters would have changed anything. These pleas for help with Aaron Bassler may represent a missed opportunity, but our guess is that friends and family members write similar letters all the time which are routinely discounted because the people writing them don't have fancy degrees. And also because lots of times the letters are as crazy as the alleged crazy person, and nobody in the system has the time to sort through every individual case to try to puzzle out which one of hundreds or thousands of unconfined maniacs is the next Aaron Bassler.

THIS BANKS GUY is also upset that Eyster factually reports that if either Mr. or Mrs. B. had reported their suspicions about their son's likely involvement in Matt Coleman's murder prior to Jere Melo's murder, that Jere Melo would not have been shot to death. Why is Eyster so sure? Because Melo reported to the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office that he was going to look at a grow site run by someone named Aaron who had previously crashed his truck into the Fort Bragg tennis courts then fought with the police. The Sheriff's Office emailed Melo back and identified the suspect as Aaron Bassler. So, if either Mom or Dad had gone to the SO with their suspicions about Matt Coleman's death a month before Bassler shot Melo, the Sheriff's Office would have warned Melo to stay away.

INSTEAD OF TRYING to scapegoat a mental health system that everyone knows is seriously defective, Sonya Nesch and Jim Bassler, and the rest of the Only If Choir need to accept the sad fact that only Aaron Bassler is responsible for the deaths of Matt Coleman and Jere Melo. Bassler made the decision to shoot them both in cold blood and tried to shoot the young guy with Melo. He also tried to shoot the Alameda County Sheriff's deputies that he encountered the day before he, himself, was shot. In that confrontation, Bassler circled back for another shot at the Alameda County cops.

WAS AARON BASSLER crazy, paranoid, and delusional? Crazy like a fox, it seems, and certainly higher functioning in an every day sense than any certifiably crazy person one might name. He consistently denied he had any mental health issues. He successfully avoided diagnosis. He was compliant and not crazy whenever he was in custody or in court. And he eluded a massive man hunt for 30 plus days, crisscrossing the woods that he knew like the back of his hand. And he ignored repeated efforts to get him to lay down his rifle without further loss of life. In the end, Aaron Bassler dictated the terms of engagement and went out in the only way he left open to himself.


MARLON CRYER, 40, of Willits, was booked into the Mendocino County Jail on September 5, 2012 for misdemeanor driving under the influence of alcohol and driving with blood alcohol level greater than 0.08. Mr. Cryer is married to Stacy Cryer, head of Mendocino County's Health and Human Services Agency which includes the Count’s drug and alcohol programs. Maybe she's amused by her husband’s shirt.

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NOTED AUTHOR and radio personality David Barsamian will speak three times in Mendocino County about his newest book, Occupy the Economy: Challenging Capitalism, co-authored with Richard Wolff. David Barsamian is the award-winning founder and director of Alternative Radio, the independent weekly radio series heard for years on KZYX. He has also authored numerous books with Noam Chomsky and many others. He has won the Media Education Award, the ACLU's Upton Sinclair Award for independent journalism, and the Cultural Freedom Fellowship from the Lannan Foundation. In the new Barsamian-Wolff book, Occupy the Economy, the authors show that the causes of the current recession date from the 1970s when the capitalist system shifted from the century-old pattern of rising wages for U.S. workers to one of economic stagnation or decline for most citizens while the top 1% becomes ever richer. Economic injustice has become chronic and politics further corrupted. The Occupy movement, by articulating deep indignation with the whole system, mobilizes huge numbers who seek basic change. Occupy the Economy not only clarifies and analyzes the crisis in U.S. capitalism today, it also points toward solutions that can shape a far better future for all. David Barsamian will speak in Ukiah Sunday, Sept. 16th, at 4 pm at Mendocino College, 1000 Hensley Creek Road, Rm. 740. North Coast folks can hear him Monday, Sept. 17th, at 7 pm at the Caspar Community Center and Barsamian will address South Coast residents Tuesday, Sept 18th, at 7 pm at the Community Library in Point Arena. Barsamian's three talks are benefits for KZYX, Mendocino County’s public radio station, and the Move To Amend Coalition of Mendocino County, which has placed on this November's county ballot a proposition that lets voters clarify that constitutional rights are intended only for human beings, not corporations, and that money is not "free speech" and can be regulated by law. For more information contact Tom Wodetzki , 937-1113,


Good Morning,

Following this morning's River Center Staff meeting at the Mendocino County Office of Education (MCOE), a ribbon cutting ceremony was held to celebrate the opening of the beautiful new bathrooms located on the east side of the Dogwood Building at River Center! Director of Maintenance and Operations, Steve Turner, acknowledged his staff, John Havemann, Dave Cram and Matt Goines for their talents and teamwork in the accomplishment of the project. Superintendent Paul Tichinin presented special awards to Steve, John, Dave and Matt in honor of the occasion. Following the ceremonial ribbon cutting by Vicki and Paul, staff toured the new facilities. — Victoria Gulick Confidential Administrative Assistant Mendocino County Office of Education 2240 Old River Road Ukiah CA 95482 707-467-5001 707-462-0379 (fax)

A SANTA ROSA READER COMMENTS: “Why we are screwed, Chapter 217: Check any bank rates lately? On the local scene, Luther Burbank Savings will give you .7 percent on a two year cd of over $100k! Exchange Bank, not to be outdone by this withering number, offers .2 percent (yes, two tenths of a percent) on the same amount for one year, and a gracious .3 on two years. That means EB will be happy to use your $100k for a year and give you a couple hundred bucks. That's about six bags of groceries on a good day, for using your hundred grand for a year. Hello??? This is simple to figure out. The banks already know what many people suspect already; the money is all but worthless. Stuff like this makes me thankful I'm old. But I'm a very healthy old and that's problematic. PS. Recent read suggested by a guitarist friend; Old Gods Almost Dead — the 40 year history of the Rolling Stones. Christ, what a sorry lot of drug addled fools. Years ago when I read the book on John Belushi (Wired) I felt like taking a shower after I finished the book. With this Stones history, you feel like taking a shower after every chapter. These guys were very lucky to survive their loco lifestyle. They left one hell of a lot of bodies along the trail.”

IF YOU'RE HUNGRY for an event almost as ghastly as the Darryl Cherney “Roast,” try: “The Mendocino County Lodging Association will be hosting their annual meeting next week at Rivino Winery in Ukiah. The event brings together Mendocino County lodging property owners, key travel leaders and decision makers from throughout the state, as well as a host of other VIPs, all in a collaborative effort to share tourism highlights pertaining to Mendocino County and beyond. A main draw at this year’s event is that both US Congressional candidates — State Assemblymember Jared Huffman (Dem.) and Dan Roberts (Rep.) — will be in attendance and will serve as keynote speakers, which means a blizzard of pure bullshit. Other presenters include representatives from Visit California, San Francisco Travel and more. Updates on the BID, the Mendocino County Executive Office and VMC will also be provided. Lunch will be served to all attendees, and the day will conclude with a wine reception and vineyard tour. Date: Thursday, September 13, 2012 ~ 11am - 3pm (Lunch provided) Location: Rivino Winery, 4101 Cox-Schrader Road, Ukiah, CA Cost (includes catered lunch): Lodging Members: $0 pre registration and $20 at the door, Non-lodging Members: $10 pre registration and $20 at the door. For further information, or to register for the event, please visit or call 707-964-9010. MEDIA CONTACT: Heather Noll | HypeHouse, Inc. | 415-359-9755 |


  1. humbilly September 7, 2012

    Wow! Those public rest rooms are exceptional! Well done to all! In Europe they employ an attendant to ensure proper use and no abuse, good way to keep deep unemployed on the job…can this be done? Hate to see it trashed by one or two ill people…Good work this is where we should be, not in a B&B staring into a pile of excremento….

  2. chewsome September 9, 2012

    “The late OTG, as those of us who had the bracing pleasure of his mortal company will recall, made marijuana the primary cause of his befuddled life.”

    This above statement isn’t quite correct. RJ was an organizer, abet compromised, and newspaperman among other talents. He was not drenched in marijuana, but picked up support from readers and activists, for his dogged reporting and research documentation skills for holding government accountable on varied matters.

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