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Mendocino County Today: October 29, 2012

Buster Posey homers early, followed by Ryan Theriot and Marco Scutaro getting clutch hits in extra innings against the Detroit Tigers fine reliever Phil Coke to lead the San Francisco Giants to a 4-0 sweep of the Detroit Tigers and the 2012 World Series Championship.

NORBURY MURDER TRIAL UPDATE: Lawyers, Judge Discuss Evidence. By Tiffany Revelle

A phone call Billy M. Norbury made to a relative from jail, transcripts from his divorce proceedings and further questioning of a juror who wanted to be excused from Norbury's ongoing murder trial were discussed in court Friday. Mendocino County Superior Court Judge John Behnke met with District Attorney David Eyster and Norbury's defense attorney, Al Kubanis, without the jury to discuss how the evidence would be presented. The jury on Monday convicted Norbury, 34, of first-degree murder and a special allegation that he used a 30-30 Winchester rifle to shoot and kill his Redwood Valley neighbor, Jamal Andrews, 30, on the night of Jan. 24. Norbury in July changed his not-guilty plea to one of not guilty by reason of insanity (commonly called an NGI plea). Kubanis has been calling witnesses to the stand since Tuesday in an effort to convince the jury it was more likely than not that Norbury was legally insane when he shot Andrews. Eyster plans to bring before the jury a recording of a phone call where Norbury reportedly tells a family member not to talk to police, and transcripts of a custody hearing where Norbury's family and friends testify that he has made a turn for the better and is a capable parent. A juror asked to be excused from the trial Thursday for financial reasons and because he found some of the questions asked of witnesses offensive. Behnke did not excuse the juror, but said Friday that he plans to question the juror further when the trial resumes Monday. Kubanis told Behnke he also may call back to the witness stand psychologist Dr. John Podboy, who testified for the defense that he had diagnosed Norbury as a paranoid schizophrenic. Saying Podboy was “incensed” at the “timbre” of some of Eyster's questions during his cross-examination of the psychologist, Kubanis said he hadn't yet decided whether to question Podboy regarding times when Eyster had employed the psychologist when Eyster was a defense attorney before being elected DA. Eyster had said previously that if that were to happen, he would step down as the prosecutor in this case, have Chief Deputy District Attorney Paul Sequeira take over as prosecutor and take the witness stand to testify regarding those previous occasions. In that event, Eyster had said, his testimony would “not (be) favorable for Dr. Podboy.” (Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)

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COMMENT OF THE DAY from the AVA on-line: “First Five, founded by the now disgraced ‘MeatHead’ dude from Archie Bunker ranks as the slickest liberal phony baloney ‘children’s’ scam ever devised. In Humboldt they wine and dine and plead for funds while absolutely nothing goes to the neediest. Solution: disband the endless county Commissioners (unelected) and give 100% of the cigarette tax to the children and families needing childcare to work, healthcare premiums and stipends to play sports and attend camps… This is a solid gold plum for a very few lucky appointed commissioners in all 58 counties and the State level.”

Orlando

FREDERICK ORLANDO, 55, of Magalia, Butte County, California, has pleaded guilty to the August robbery of Redwood Credit Union in Point Arena. According to Mendo District Attorney David Eyster, Orlando traveled from Magalia (about 20 miles east of Chico) to Point Arena, entered the Credit Union with his son-in-law, brandished a handgun at bank tellers and customers, demanded money from the cash drawers, and then herded all the people to a back room.

THE TWO ROBBERS, one of whom shed flip-flops as they ran for their getaway vehicle at the Point Arena Theater, attempted to make their escape east on Fish Rock Road with the stolen money, about $50,000. However, the getaway car was boxed in on that rural, dirt road by sheriff's deputy Luis Espinoza coming in from the east and California Highway Patrol officer Terry Solomon pursuing from the west.

SHERIFF TOM ALLMAN told us that Orlando, a lifer and terminally ill, chose not to shoot it out with Espinoza when he saw the young deputy's wedding band glint in the sun. “Orlando said he didn't want to take a chance on harming a young guy with little kids at home,” Allman said. Espinoza lives in the Anderson Valley with his young wife and children.

ORLANDO has been held since August in the Mendocino County Jail with bail set at more than $1 million. His jury trial had been scheduled to begin on Nov. 26 but, instead, a sentencing hearing is now scheduled for Nov. 21. Eyster noted the sentencing of Orlando will only be a formality because Orlando, through Public Defender Linda Thompson, Mendocino County's Life Without Expediter, agreed to receive a stipulated state prison sentence of 45 years to life.

EYSTER prosecuted Orlando under California's Three Strikes laws because the defendant previously served time in a federal penitentiary for four separate bank robberies in Southern California. Orlando also served state prison time for a residential burglary conviction in the 1980s. “While Orlando targeted Point Arena because he believed it to be a sleepy, coastal town with few people around and even fewer law enforcement officers to interfere,” Eyster said, “he didn't appreciate the great cooperation and communication that exists on our South Coast between the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office, the California Highway Patrol, Fish and Game wardens, and Sonoma County's Sheriff's Office.” According to investigators, Orlando remains a suspect in other bank robberies, including at least one that involves a Forestville bank. It has also been reported that Orlando has confessed while in the Mendocino County Jail to being responsible for a 30-year-old unsolved murder in Southern California.

PUBLIC DEFENDER Linda Thompson appeared for Orlando, meaning he was triply doomed; first by his legal history; second by his Point Arena stick-up; third by Thompson, attorney of record for Mendo defendants on their way to prison for the rest of their lives. The prosecution of Orlando has been handled by Eyster and Assistant District Attorney Paul Sequeira.

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POINT ARENA High School juniors (Class of 2014) will have to retake the math portion of their (early) exit exams after enough allegations of cheating convinced administration at the fog-eater campus that “there may have been cheating and/or disallowed activity during the testing period,” according to a letter High School Principal Warren Galletti and Superintendent Colleen Cross sent to parents last week. According to last Thursday’s Independent Coast Observer story by reporter Chris McManus, quoting from the letter, “March 2012 scores on the Math portion have been invalidated and they will retest in early November.” Reportedly, the retest will be conducted with students further apart from each other, implying that the cheating may have been student to student, without teacher involvement. But given the pathetically low standardized test math scores at Point Arena High School — only 12% of the class in question were scored at proficient or better at math in the latest available numbers compared to 52% statewide — it’s not exactly surprising that somebody over there would be tempted to cheat on the math exam so that the graduation rates in 2014 are not a total embarrassment to the school.

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ATTENTION: Jason Meyer, CA Department of Transportation, North Region Environmental, Unit E1, PO Box 3700. Eureka, CA 95502-3700. October 25, 2012

RE: Comments to Caltrans for Recirculated Draft EIR/EA for STAA truck access on Hwy 199/197

I am writing to express my many concerns over the Caltrans Smith River SR 199/197 project. After reading the EIR and the re-circulated Environmental Impact Report, I am urging you to choose the no-build alternative so that no harm will come to the old growth redwood and other trees, the habitat, the endangered species and plants, and so no further harm will come to the Wild and Scenic Smith River.

Even the re-circulated EIR shows this project will be destructive in so many ways, it should not be allowed to proceed or it will cause harm beyond measure. The public does not realize the amount of irreversible damage this project will cause in harm to the environment, increase heavy truck damage to roads, harm to the marbled Murrelet’s in their nesting patterns, harm to the already endangered Northern Spotted Owls (to name just a few) and it will take away from the peaceful experience of traveling this amazing Scenic Smith River route to Oregon, which I travel frequently.

The Lily farmers with their pesticides need to stop polluting the Smith River, and this project needs not to start. The protected riparian vegetation and aesthetics along the Wild and Scenic Smith River are second to none, and they need to be protected, not removed with the promise of buying up some other private land somewhere. Nothing can replace this passage. The old growth trees hold the mountain together. Further logging will cause more instability, and further environmental damage, as even the EIR admits. Any further damage is unacceptable.

Just keeping Highway 101 and SR 199 and 197 open during the storms, will take a lot of money and keep Caltrans busy from now until doomsday, unless they are allowed to hurry doomsday along by ruining our treasures for the material gain of a few already wealthy business people. There will be no trickle down or gain to the people, and only loss to the people who know this place is sacred.

Have you consulted the Native American people with the full disclosure, giving them time to understand? They will tell you of their sacred places. I have seen one sacred place, where waterfalls flow off the mountainsides, and the boulders so large and water so clean and deep to dive into. I have seen where the Native American peoples have lived in the summer months. The old campfires are still there. You have to dig down but they are still there. These are sacred grounds you are intending to mess with, and these are places that can’t be replaced, ever.

The Wild and Scenic Smith River, is the only untapped river in California that is not completely degraded, and I feel shocked this plan has gone this far without the public really knowing. Caltrans is very good and strategic about issuing the EIR’s all at once, keeping things out of the news, or issuing the Draft EIRS and Final EIRS when people are involved, notices in mid-week papers; it feels calculated to the point of feeling like corruption to me. This is a very narrow, winding canyon road in a very rural area with breath-taking beauty. The people come from all over the world to see the magnificent beauty of this little piece of paradise, still pristine, and unlike any other place on earth. I will not sit by and do nothing. Anyone knowing the truth and having a love for this area like I do, would not allow this project to continue.

To log all the old growth listed in the EIR, and numerous other old growth trees, and all the other trees (all depending on each other through their root structures) will cause harm beyond measure. This project will cause native plants to be killed. Cutting into the steep and narrow passage ways will cause more run off into the Wild and Scenic Smith River, already threatened by the Lily Farmers.

This is a Scenic State Route and not meant for more and more of these larger and larger trucks to pass. STAA heavy truck traffic will increase when the STAA trucks choose Highway 101 to 199 when it is snowing on the Siskiyou Summit on I-5. Increase in spills will also be a tragic result.

The communities all along this SR 199 have not been engaged in what will result if this project is allowed to go ahead. Geologically this is very unstable territory. It is very discouraging that Caltrans continues to ignore our attempts for the EIR to address the cumulative impacts, and the public is still not being properly informed. To only re- issue part of the Environmental Impact Report, is yet another way of keeping the truth from people and another way to confuse people who are trying to understand how it all fits.

Let’s get moving with the short sea shipping on barges, you have Highway 299 to destroy as you wish. Hey, why not build a railroad to the east and ruin all those old growth redwoods there. Either way, landslides are going to happen as a result. However, you already have Highway 299, and you can’t stop with that?

I am not trying to stop commerce, but let’s get smart about transportation. Times are changing, and we need to change with the times and get the trucks off the roads utilizing the short sea shipping and keep the CA Legal Trucks and the jobs. Aren’t those jobs important? For every STAA, you take away jobs from local trucking firms.

Nothing short of an EIS is acceptable, due to the irreparable harm this project promises to create. If it is working, don’t fix it. Under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and EIS must be prepared when a project “may” have a significant impact on the environment. Your document clearly states there will be significant impacts on the environment.

Please just keep the existing road up and running in the storms that promise to throw boulders off the cliffs in the Smith River Canyon narrow stretches. Just the current truck traffic is damaging, and more and larger trucks will only cause more safety issues and more damage.

Thank you for considering my opinion, — Trisha Lotus, Eureka

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BID FOR THE BISCUIT! November 15. Have you heard the good news? Seabiscuit Heritage Foundation is pleased to announce Seabiscuit's restored stud barn is to be nominated to the National Register of Historic Places. Would you like to help? To support this and other ongoing historic preservation efforts at Ridgewood Ranch, the home and final resting place of the legendary Seabiscuit, we created this fun new way for you to participate. Check out our collection of fantastic prizes, from Seabiscuit-related memorabilia to unique experiences, lodging, and Seabiscuit-related works of art. Browse and bid from anywhere. Find bargains while supporting our mission to preserve and protect the cultural legacy of Ridgewood Ranch, a 5,000 acre ranch nestled in the oak and old growth Redwood-studded woodlands of Northern California. Thank you for your support! Seabiscuit Heritage Foundation www.seabiscuitheritage.org Bidding opens Thursday, November 15 at noon Pacific, and closes Sunday, November 25 at 9 PM Pacific. Register now as a bidder, and we'll send you a heads-up when the auction's about to open.

MENDOCINO COAST FURNITUREMAKERS is hosting their fifth annual sale of custom-made gifts. The show is inspired by the Christmas bazaars held in Northern Europe. Families come in from the cold, have something good to eat and warm to drink, and purchase beautiful handmade gifts. Finely made things are a source of delight for adults and children, and the events offer children an introduction to traditional objects, made by a woodworker’s skillful hands, and to the people who craft them. The show includes sculpture and wood carvings, turned vessels, boxes of various kinds, toys big and small, practical household items and photography. Exhibiting this year are Michael Burns, Michael Carroll, Graham Gilbertson, Kerry Marshall, Paul Reiber, Les Cizek, Greg Smith, Judy Tarbell and Taimi Barty. Dates: November 27-December 30, 2012, Time: Daily, from 10am to 5pm Opening Reception: December 8, 2012, 5-8 pm Where: Mendocino Art Center, Nichols Gallery 45200 Little Lake Street, Mendocino, CA 95460 (707) 937-5818 Founded in 1997, the Mendocino Coast FurnitureMakers are dedicated to the preservation and evolution of the fine art of furniture making. They specialize in custom-designed, one of a kind pieces in both traditional and contemporary styles. Using the finest materials and proven hand techniques, they provide customers with furniture to enhance their home interiors. Contact information for individual craftspersons at: Mendocino Coast FurnitureMakers P.O. Box 2536 Mendocino, CA 95460 www.mendocinofurniture.com

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