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Mendocino County Today: September 17, 2012

FALSE ARREST by Bruce Anderson

Juan Orr, 26, maybe of Chico, has libeled two Albion men every which way. Not only libeled them, got them arrested and, briefly, charged with major felonies.

It all started when Orr appeared at the Redwood Drive-In in Boonville a week ago Saturday, which would have been the afternoon of September 8th.

Orr said he'd been beaten and robbed by “two Americans” who had picked him up while he was hitchhiking south on Highway 128, but instead of continuing south, the “two Americans” had instead driven him up Mountain View Road, west of Boonville, where they beat him until Orr gave them $800 in cash, his backpack and his cellphone.

There he was in the Redwood Drive-In, this weepy victim of a violent crime, sobbing and looking kind of red and puffy in the face like someone really had smacked him a couple of times. Cellphones were produced, 911 called.

The muggers, Orr said, were probably still headed west on Mountain View towards the Mendocino Coast. Maybe if you hurry you can get them where the road comes out at Manchester.

Boonville people were outraged. They were walking around the Redwood Drive-In saying things like, “What the hell? I hope they get those bastards. Who would do such a thing?”

Coast deputies were alerted to be on the lookout for two robbers headed their way, and very soon, Deputy Paoli had the alleged bad guys in custody. They were identified as Timothy Donald Gitchel and Thomas Joseph Valdez, both of Albion.

If Gitchel and Valdez seemed disbelieving that they were under arrest, there was no seemed about it. They were mystified because, as it turns out, they hadn't done anything to get themselves arrested.

Meanwhile, back in Boonville, the Anderson Valley Ambulance had been called to the Redwood Drive-In, and Juan Orr, self-alleged victim of an assault and robbery, was hauled over the hill to the Ukiah Valley Medical Center where he was treated for no injuries and released.

Orr had put on such a convincing show about being a victim of a violent crime that the Boonville ambulance people, experienced at sorting out the real from the unreal, believed him.

But.

But Orr hadn't been hitchhiking.

Orr hadn't been beaten.

Orr hadn't been robbed.

Juan Orr, aka John Orr, had been hanging around Albion for a while, panhandling in front of Albion Store and pestering a young girl in the neighborhood to the point where she and her family characterized Orr's unwanted attentions as “stalking.”

Orr had been reported to the Sheriff's Office several times for basically making a major nuisance of himself at Albion, and Albion people wanted him gone.

That Saturday, Orr had shown up at the home of Betty and John Shandel of Albion. Shandels have been on the Mendocino Coast going way back. Mrs. Shandel is a registered nurse. She worked for years in the emergency room at Coast Hospital. RN's can speed read people, and if Mrs. Shandel says these two characters creeped her out, then you can be sure they were objectively creeps.

Orr, doing all the talking and talking rapidly like he was on the go-fast drug, told Mrs. Shandel that he and his brother were orphans, that their mother had died from the methamphetamine Orr himself seemed to be on.

Emergency room nurses and doctors are always getting hustled by drug people trying to get more. They've heard every hype story there is.

Mrs. Shandel was not fooled.

So, when Tim Gitchel and his friend Thomas Valdez unexpectedly appeared at the Shandels, Mrs. Shandel managed to make it clear she'd be big time relieved if Gitchel and Valdez would drive her two visitors somewhere else, preferably somewhere far enough away to prevent them from coming back.

Gitchel and Valdez quickly informed Mrs. Shandel that Orr was a stalker of this girl in the neighborhood, that the two were not brothers, that their mother did not die of a methamphetamine overdose, that Orr was really a kind of free floating nutcase. And if the guy with him was voluntarily associated with Orr he was undoubtedly also not the kind of guy you want sitting down at the dinner table with you.

Orr and his “brother” were told they had to leave. Gitchel said they could either walk or he and Valdez would give them a ride, and as it happened, since Orr and his “brother” were no longer welcome anywhere in Albion, and Gitchel was going to Boonville…

Orr and “his brother” were not forced or otherwise coerced into getting into Gitchel's vehicle. They asked for a lift and they got one. And Boonville was as good a destination as any other.

Tim Gitchel is not a thug. He leads the marine rescue section of the Albion Fire Department and is a volunteer fireman. He's a gifted athlete and a highly regarded member of the Albion community who goes out of his way to mentor young people who need to be steered in a healthy direction.

Thomas Valdez's bona fides are similarly impressive. From all accounts he's a good guy who works on a tuna boat out of Fort Bragg.

Valdez and Gitchel are not driving around mugging hitchhikers.

And here they were two Saturdays ago under arrest and in the County Jail charged with a major crime.

Now it was Albion's turn to be disbelieving.

The Gitchel-Valdez support networks kicked in.

Tim Gitchel was released on Tuesday, Thomas Valdez on Wednesday.

All charges were dropped.

No one knows where Orr is.

 * * *

MISSING PERSONS Kathy LaMadrid and David Neily will be featured next Friday afternoon (21st September) 1pm in Fort Bragg on the national road tour, called “On the Road to Remember,” an awareness campaign that primarily focuses on missing person cases that have gone cold or have not received appropriate media coverage on the local level — much less the national level. The tour, which travels through many states annually, provides that attention. The media plays a significant role in getting the word out on the behalf of the missing person and should be recognized as a vital resource to any investigation. Interest in many of the cases we have featured in previous tours has been renewed. It is the belief of the CUE Center for Missing Persons that all investigators, the public, volunteers and the media, should work in collaboration on cases involving missing children and adults; until this happens, there will continue to be cases of the missing labeled “cold,” “inactive” or unsolved. Where the event will lead and what it can produce remains to be revealed, but interested persons can call Monica Caison: 910-232-1687 for information.

ANA MAHONEY — On September 11, 2012 the indomitable spirit of Ann R. Mahoney (Ana) suddenly left this worldly plane. Ana was 68 years young and, even though her illness was swift, she was at peace with herself when she left this life. Ana would frequently say the last five years were the best years of her life. She found her dream job, her soul mate and she was the happiest she had ever been. Ana loved people and used her many skills and her gift of infectious optimism to better the lives of many in this county. Before Ana's passing, she served as the Executive Director of Plowshares Peace and Justice Center. After a long and varied career in health and human services, she served on the Boards of North Coast Opportunities (NCO), the Community Foundation of Mendocino County and the Community Development Commission (CDC). She was also a member of the South Ukiah Rotary, a service group that she was very proud to be a part of. Ana started this life as Ann Ruth Boyce, born in San Mateo, CA on February 28, 1944. Ana graduated from San Jose State University in 1966 with a BA in Experimental Psychology. Ana was a Peace Corps volunteer in Yap, Micronesia and later became a consultant in Saipan. From 1970 through 1975, she was with MITRE Research Corporation as an Engineering Analyst and Division Administrator. Ana was married to Francis B. Mahoney of Berkeley, CA at Saipan, Marianas Islands from 1967 to 1979. Ana held administrative positions with the city of Berkeley, the County of Mendocino and the Center for Education and Manpower Resources. She had her own consulting firm, A.R. Mahoney & Associates. One of Ana's most rewarding positions was Hospital Administrator for Mendocino Community Hospital from 1987 until closing. Ana loved helping people and found operating a hospital a most rewarding service. One of Ana's final public service positions was as the Interim Health and Human Services (Agency) Director in 2005-06. Ana wanted to help the staff and clients with the transition to the Agency and worked hard to develop a respectful environment of trust and competence. Ana left behind the love of her life, Carmel Angelo of Ukiah, CA and Carmel's two children, Gina Goodman of Rohnert Park and Zak Goodman of San Diego. Ana is survived by her twin brother, Phil Boyce, her niece, Sharon Boyce Bender, Sharon's husband, The Reverend Rick Bender and Rick and Sharon's twins, Ava and James, all of Saratoga, CA. Ana's life was filled with love from their three dogs, Habebe, Fefe and Rosie. Along with Ana's family, she has been blessed with many friends and colleagues who loved her dearly. The family would like to express their gratitude and thanks to the staff of Saint Helena Hospital, including Dr. Ethan Schram of the Martin-O'Neil Cancer Center, Dr. Leis of St. Helena and Ana's friends, Kathleen Dolan and Debbie Santos, who guided Ana's family through the last two days of Ana's life. Ana's family and friends have organized a community celebration of Ana's life to be held at Plowshares Peace and Justice Center on Saturday, September 29, 2012, at 11am. Plowshares is located at 1346 South State Street, Ukiah CA. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Plowshares, PO Box 475 Ukiah, CA 95482-0475.

EASTWOOD  says his convention appearance was “mission accomplished” — by Paul Miller

After a week as topic No. 1 in American politics, former Carmel Mayor Clint Eastwood said the outpouring of criticism from left-wing reporters and liberal politicians after his appearance at the Republican National Convention last Thursday night, followed by an avalanche of support on Twitter and in the blogosphere, is all the proof anybody needs that his 12-minute discourse achieved exactly what he intended it to.

“President Obama is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,” Eastwood told The Pine Cone this week. “Romney and Ryan would do a much better job running the country, and that’s what everybody needs to know. I may have irritated a lot of the lefties, but I was aiming for people in the middle.”

For five days after he thrilled or horrified the nation by talking to an empty chair representing Obama on the night Mitt Romney accepted the Republican nomination for president, Eastwood remained silent while pundits and critics debated whether his remarks, and the rambling way he made them, had helped or hurt Romney’s chances of winning in November.

But in a wide-ranging interview with The Pine Cone Tuesday from his home in Pebble Beach, he said he had conveyed the messages he wanted to convey, and that the spontaneous nature of his presentation was intentional, too.

“I had three points I wanted to make,” Eastwood said. “That not everybody in Hollywood is on the left, that Obama has broken a lot of the promises he made when he took office, and that the people should feel free to get rid of any politician who’s not doing a good job. But I didn’t make up my mind exactly what I was going to say until I said it.”

Eastwood’s appearance at the convention came after a personal request from Romney in August, soon after Eastwood endorsed the former Massachusetts governor at a fundraiser in Sun Valley, Idaho. But it was finalized only in the last week before the convention, along with an agreement to build suspense by keeping it secret until the last moment.

Meanwhile, Romney’s campaign aides asked for details about what Eastwood would say to the convention.

“They vet most of the people, but I told them, ‘You can’t do that with me, because I don’t know what I’m going to say’,” Eastwood recalled.

And while the Hollywood superstar has plenty of experience being adored by crowds, he said he hasn’t given a lot of speeches and admitted that, “I really don’t know how to.” He also hates using a teleprompter, so it was settled in his mind that when he spoke to the 10,000 people in the convention hall, and the millions more watching on television, he would do it extemporaneously.

 “It was supposed to be a contrast with all the scripted speeches, because I’m Joe Citizen,” Eastwood said. “I’m a movie maker, but I have the same feelings as the average guy out there.”

Eastwood is a liberal on social issues such as gay marriage and abortion, but he has strongly conservative opinions about the colossal national debt that has accumulated while Obama has been president, his failure to get unemployment below 6 percent, and a host of other economic issues.

“Even people on the liberal side are starting to worry about going off a fiscal cliff,” Eastwood said.

But what — exactly — would he say to the Republican delegates about the $16 trillion national debt and 8.3% unemployment rate?

Friends and associates weren’t as much help as he had hoped.

“Everybody had advice for me, except the janitor,” Eastwood said.

Early Thursday morning, when Eastwood left San Jose Airport on a private jet headed for Florida, he was still making up his mind. And even with his appearance just a few hours away, all Eastwood could tell Romney’s campaign manager, Matt Rhoades, and his aides, was “to reassure them that everything I would say would be nice about Mitt Romney.”

It was only after a quick nap in his hotel room a few blocks from the convention site, Eastwood said, that he mapped out his remarks — starting with his observation about politics in Hollywood, then challenging the president about the failure of his economic policies, and wrapping up by telling the public “they don’t have to worship politicians, like they were royalty or something.”

But even then, with just an hour before he appeared on stage, it still hadn’t occurred to Eastwood to use an empty chair as a stand-in for the president.

“I got to the convention site just 15 or 20 minutes before I was scheduled to go on,” he said. “That was fine, because everything was very well organized.”

After a quick trip through airport-style security, he was taken to a Green Room, where Archbishop Dolan of New York sought him out to say hello. Then he was taken backstage to wait for his cue. And that was when inspiration struck.

“There was a stool there, and some fella kept asking me if I wanted to sit down,” Eastwood said. “When I saw the stool sitting there, it gave me the idea. I’ll just put the stool out there and I’ll talk to Mr. Obama and ask him why he didn’t keep all of the promises he made to everybody.”

He asked a stagehand to take it out to the lectern while he was being announced.

“The guy said, ‘You mean you want it at the podium?’ and I said, ‘No, just put it right there next to it.’”

Then, with the theme song from “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” as a musical introduction, and a huge picture of him as Josey Wales as the backdrop, Eastwood walked out to tremendous applause.

“The audience was super enthusiastic, and it’s always great when they’re with you instead of against you,” he said.

Speaking without any notes, Eastwood recalled the good feelings the whole nation had when Obama was elected, but said they had been dashed as the economy stayed in the doldrums despite massive stimulus spending. He decried the “stupid idea” of closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay and putting terrorists on trial in New York City, joked about Vice President Joe Biden’s intellect and quizzed empty-chair Obama about what he says to people about his failed economic policies. He pretended Obama told Romney to do something “physically impossible” to himself, said it’s time to elect a “stellar businessman” as president instead of a lawyer, and, as a final point, told the people, “You own this country.”

When an elected official doesn’t “do the job, we’ve got to let ‘em go,” he said, and the crowd ate it up.

“They really seemed to be enjoying themselves,” Eastwood said.

Originally, he was told he could speak for six or seven minutes, and right before he went on, he was asked to keep it to five, but he said, “When people are applauding so much, it takes you 10 minutes to say five minutes’ worth.”

Also, there were no signals or cues of any kind, so “when you’re out there, it’s kind of hard to tell how much time is going by.”

He also said he was aware he hesitated and stumbled a bit, but said “that’s what happens when you don’t have a written-out speech.”

As he wrapped up his remarks, he was aware his presentation was “very unorthodox,” but that was his intent from the beginning, even if some people weren’t on board.

“They’ve got this crazy actor who’s 82 years old up there in a suit,” he said. “I was a mayor, and they’re probably thinking I know how to give a speech, but even when I was mayor I never gave speeches. I gave talks.”

Backstage, it was all congratulations and glad-handing, he said. And then he returned to the Green Room, where he listened to speeches by Marco Rubio and Mitt Romney. It wasn’t possible for him to watch the media coverage of his presentation.

But the country was listening as the television reporters and commentators covering his speech reacted to it. And they hated it.

“I have to say, as a fan, a movie fan, this was exceedingly strange. It just seemed like a very strange, unscripted moment,” said a shocked Andrea Mitchell on NBC.

“That was the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen at a political convention in my entire life,” said Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, barely concealing the condescension in her voice.

Bob Schieffer of CBS said it was “a big mistake to put Clint Eastwood on before Mitt Romney.”

 On the Washington Post website, reporter Chris Cillizza wrote that “‘awkward’ may be the kindest term we can think of” to describe Eastwood’s speech.

“He hemmed. He hawed. He mumbled. He rambled,” Cillizza wrote.

And on CNN, Piers Morgan said Eastwood was “going bonkers” on the stage and said his presentation “looked like complete chaos.” He pressured his guests with questions like, “Weren’t you in pain while he was up there?”

But Eastwood wasn’t aware of any of it, and after the speeches were over, Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, came backstage to thank him.

“They were very enthusiastic, and we were all laughing,” Eastwood said.

When he went outside to his car, a large crowd cheered and chanted lines from his speech.

Back at his hotel, Eastwood had a room service dinner and went to bed. The next morning, he got up early and went straight to the airport, still unaware that his appearance was the No. 1 political topic in the nation.

“I read the Tampa newspaper, and every article said something negative about the convention, but there wasn’t much about me,” Eastwood said.

He had no idea that overnight, a rebellion had erupted online against the media’s condemnation of him, with thousands of bloggers, Twitterers and commentators calling him, “a genius,” “1,000 times more brilliant than the media,” and saying he’s “only gotten better with age.”

They also started posting their own versions of Eastwood’s empty chair in droves (“eastwooding”), and, on YouTube, replays of his remarks at the convention were being viewed millions of times.

Even into his 80s, Eastwood has an unprecedented record of success in Hollywood, and is still making two movies a year. He’s currently starring in “Trouble with the Curve,” and is about to direct a remake of “A Star is Born” — things he obviously couldn’t do if he were a befuddled senior citizen. To locals who know him, the idea that he is uninformed or senile is laughable.

Nevertheless, the bitter criticism has continued.

On Tuesday, Democratic Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa called Eastwood “the perfect icon of the Republican tea party: an angry old white man spewing incoherent nonsense.”

Eastwood said people, including reporters, who were shocked by his remarks “are obviously on the left,” and he maintained that, while many Americans didn’t like the way he handled his convention appearance, millions more have something else on their minds.

“A lot of people are realizing they had the wool pulled over their eyes by Obama,” Eastwood said.

(Courtesy, the Carmel Pine Cone.)

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