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Off the Record (April 6, 2022)

HIGHMINDED dude that I am, I don't remember ever watching the Academy Awards, but I couldn't miss all the excited media chatter last week about an actor named Will Smith slapping Awards host, comedian Chris Rock. So I hustled on-line to see what the hullabaloo was all about, assuming it was all fake. Seemed real enough to me, and then there was a clip of Smith yelling, not once but twice, “Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.” As the whole world watched, too. But who cares what show biz people do or say? Multiples of millions that’s who, and then I read this statement from Smith, “I was haunted by a sense I am failing the women I love.” He goes on to say that even when he was old enough to interfere he regrets that he silently watched his father beat his mother, and now here was his wife being insulted by Rock. But still…..

AS FOR WILL SMITH and Chris Rock, Lawrence Livermore, the sage of Spyrock, puts it in perfect perspective: “You know what I don't need to hear any more of? Your take on whatshisface slapping whatshisface.” 

I GET a lot of “friend” requests from dead people. Is it common on Facebook that once you're a Facebooker you're a Facebooker forever, or is it the departed reaching out from the other side? To be safe I always friend the dead, although not many were friends while they lived.

JOSEPH TURRI WRITES: “As to our current Board of Supervisors: How many of these folks had jobs that paid better than their current salary as Supervisors prior to being elected? How many of our Supervisors have demonstrated the ability to make sound financial judgments that resulted in the actual production of a usable and self-sustaining (financially) product or service? How many have the education or proven ability to comprehend the issues they are presented with daily as a Supervisor? (A lot of governmental employees have to take exams to prove basic competency.) Just asking.”

I'D SAY NONE AND NONE. Haschak was an elementary Spanish school teacher; Gjerde has never been otherwise employed; Williams was some kind of computer consultant; Mo Mulheren sold some insurance, I think; McGourty was the Ag Extention's wine-grape farm advisor, but not at 80-plus thou I'd suppose. I don't think any of the five should be responsible for a $300 million annual budget, their irresponsibility on public display every time they meet. But given that only a literal handful of people pay any attention to their job performances, the supervisors get away with failing performances. PS. Previous experience has nothing to do with doing an honest job as supervisor.

DENIS ROUSE: I was reading “The Gates of Europe -- A History of the Ukraine” by Serhii Plokhy, a Ukrainian Harvard history prof (so much for objectivity I guess) but interesting to see Russia sold Alaska to the U.S., according to the prof, to finance a railroad in the Crimea. My maternal grandmother was born in a village local to Kiev and I never once heard her refer to herself as anything but Russian. So I guess I'm a little skewed here, but I also keep thinking about what would happen if, say North and South Dakota decided to split and form their own country? Didn't we once have a civil war over an issue like that? Maybe I'm drinking too much to think clearly here.

SPYROCK. To qualify as an authentic Mendo person should visit the county's fascinating outback at least once which, if you happen to veer off onto the wrong dirt road, may also be your last, but most of us know life's a gamble front to back anyhow so… And you might also consider making the long haul east of Covelo on Highway 162 over the Mendo Pass to Willows on I-5, thus re-tracing Mendocino County's Trail of Tears, that forced march of Native Americans from the Sacramento Valley to Round Valley and, for the survivors, more cruelty on the government-sponsored reservation when they arrived. Or you can turn north on Mina Road out of Covelo to take in the wild country all the way to Alderpoint in Southern HumCo, pausing to look west at the clear day visible blue Pacific from the spot where Mendo, HumCo and Trinity counties meet. 

ALICE WALKER, I think, is still an occasional resident of the Anderson Valley where she owns or owned a place on the Holmes Ranch. She wrote her famous novel, The Color Purple, in Boonville when she first touched down in Mendocino County. As a stalwart free speech person whose books are often banned by unlettered school boards, Ms. Walker herself has now been banned from the Bay Area Book Festival, an annual event convened in Oakland. 

WHY? Event organizers claim because of her “endorsement of anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist “David Icke” and “incendiary statements she has made over the years about Jews and Israel.”

FESTIVAL PUBLICIST, Julia Drake explained, “We were aware of the fact that Alice Walker had made some controversial statements in the past, but we weren’t aware of the extent of it. One of the big missions of the festival is we won’t tolerate any hate speech or anti-Semitic statements, so we realized that this was not something that we could do.”

MYSELF, I find Ms. Walker's work unreadable and she herself more than a bit of a crackpot, but I share her views on Israel when she says, “Israel is guilty of apartheid and persecution of the Palestinian people, both inside Israel and also in the Occupied Territories.”

HELL, half the Israelis say the same thing, as do most American lefties. For this she's banned by, of all things, a book festival?

STILL AND ALL, to ban Alice Walker is simply shameful, just as shameful as banning any author from speaking or writing whatever's on his or her mind.

RE MATT LEFEVER'S FINE STORY on a Willits-produced criminal named Troy Driver, presently the sole suspect in the abduction and murder of a young Nevada woman elicited this on-line comment: 

“Drugs, weapons, murder and now a missing 18 girl. I hope beyond all things that she is found safe somewhere. This could be a wake-up call for anyone young doing drugs thinking they are just living the life. Shit goes wrong when your brain doesn’t work right on drugs. You make horrible decisions. Decisions that cost people their lives. Decisions you can never recover from. There is probably someone reading this comment that knows about our missing women here in Humboldt. Maybe you were on drugs, maybe you still are but you can make better decisions by telling the authorities and getting the dangerous people off the streets. Helping to locate our missing women and giving some much needed closure to their families and friends. This article brings to light what a complete waste of these young lives that happened at the expense of being high. Please don’t do drugs! Please be a better person. Please do the right thing. The right thing for all of humanity not just yourself.”

A READER wrote to say the AVA has gone “transphobic.” Please Your Wokeness, spare me. I do tend to think there are two sexes, so shoot me.  I fully understand some men would prefer to be women, some women men, which hardly amounts to a phobia. I think people who say they “identify” as this or that sub-gender are silly. I mean, I identify as a starting pitcher for the Giants but I doubt I'll be taking the mound for them this season. Seriously, you irony-challenged prigs, I don't wish anyone harm and would speak up if I thought that non-binary people were being hurt or threatened. As for joking about sex, yes. All for it. (cf Dave Chappelle)

I UNDERSTAND that sex-obsessed right-wingers are making a lotta noise under the headline, “Don't Say Gay,” but obviously little kids aren't being “gay propagandized” in the schools anygoddamwhere nor is “critical race theory” being taught anygoddamwhere. 

A WOMAN named Vicki Williams called to say she wasn't supervisor Ted Williams. I said I agreed. She went on to identify herself as John Redding's campaign manager before veering off into a riff I was unable to follow about red stamps on American birth certificates. Ms. Williams also said I had vilified her years ago as a DUI. As a person who tries to keep his own hypocrisy to a minimum, I could have been arrested many times for DUI's so I'm in no position to vilify anyone popped for it. (I quit years ago after getting drunk in Cloverdale after a softball game because I had no memory of the drive home to Boonville. Let the record show that the Anderson Valley Advertiser is opposed to drunk driving. Planning departments should allow bars in every neighborhood so drunks could walk home like in Fort Bragg where there's a bar every few blocks.)

AFTER A SOLID YEAR of ignoring Hunter Biden's laptop, all the lib media from the NYT to Wolf Blitzer in his Situation Room are wondering out loud if Hunter was making a lot of money from the pre-Zelensky Ukrainian government and also lots of money China for selling access to his father. Of course he was. If Hunter's surname was Trump the lib media would have been all over the story the instant they became aware of it. There is no country in the world where millions of dollars paid to a top official’s son for doing nothing would not be regarded as corruption.

CONGRESSMAN HUFFMAN takes us through the looking glass about his purely self-alleged accomplishments as our tribune to corporate headquarters in Washington. “The filing window for my seat in Congress just closed and I wanted you to be the first to know that I’m running for reelection. It’s going to be a spirited race with five challengers, so I will be asking for your continued support. But first I want to tell you why I’m running.

“Since reclaiming the majority in Congress, my Democratic colleagues and I have proudly worked to defend our rights, freedoms and democracy through the worst days of the Trump administration. And under President Biden’s leadership, we’ve stood together to pass critical reforms like the American Rescue Plan, which funded the most successful vaccine rollout in history, got urgent economic relief to families and businesses and lifted our economy out of recession.”

REALITY CHECK. Roughly half of Americans are one check away from the streets and the other half knows that the Democrats are taking us over the cliff only a half-step slower than the Republicans will certainly do. Huffman has literal bags full of cash while his challengers are the usual unfunded, ignored, token tilters at political windmills. (A few old timers will remember when the Northcoast was blessed with a genuine progressive in Huffman's seat, the late great Clem Miller. Been downhill ever since.) 

TED WILLIAMS writes on his facebook page: “Democracy is alive in Mendocino County, including a race for Supervisor in District 5. You have options. I will be highlighting policy differences between myself and John Redding. I ask you to keep your comments polite and kind. There is room in America for opposing perspectives.”

“KIND”? The 5th District supervisor called outgoing supervisor McCowen a thief for taking county property with him as he departed. The charge was delivered in open session, and was not true, but CEO Angelo had said McCowen was guilty and Williams, the faithful gofer, repeated the false claim, and isn’t likely to ever apologize. 

IN HER FAREWELL WHINGE, CEO Angelo, quoting supervisor Williams, said “unfounded personal attacks” made it hard to recruit people to county government. The ref would have to be to the ava because we're the only media who pay close attention to county government, and “unfounded personal attacks” — without citing any, of course —translates as criticism of the CEO and Williams and his board colleagues. 

THE NUT of the prob here is an old one in Mendocino County. People get elected to well-paid public positions they aren’t emotionally or intellectually equipped to do. County taxpayers will be picking up the tab for years after CEO Angelo and this sad sack board of unsupervising supervisors.

MICHAEL TURNER: “Scaramella laughing at someone for crying in public. What a juvenile!”

MARK SCARAMELLA REPLIES: “Not laughing. Pointing out the lamentable level of blind devotion to the boss, and the fragility of the personality of the person who has been promoted to run a $300 million-plus government organization.”

CALL ME NAIVE, but aren't the Democrats supposed to be the decent alternative to the Republicans, the high road over the low road? And when the Democrats descend to dirty tricks, aren't they assumed to be a little slicker than the opposition? 

COME ON, fess up. Much as you dislike Trump, didn't you at least suspect that the Steele Dossier was a fake, a crude fake at that, so crude it would be easily traced back to Hillary because we know in our bones that she and Bill are just as capable of evil as the Orange Monster.

SUSPICIONS CONFIRMED. The Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Presidential Campaign have agreed to a settlement in which they will pay a $113,000 fine to the Federal Election Commission. The Democrat's brain trust lied about hiding money being paid to conduct “opposition research” into then-candidate Donald Trump’s alleged Russian ties. That research eventually produced the Steele dossier that included such unforgettable nuggets as the news that the Russians had film of Trump cavorting with prostitutes. The Clinton campaign said the original expenditure was for “legal services.” 

AS GASOLINE PRICES continue to rise, and blamed on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and not the rigged distribution processes that have ripped us off for years, Biden says he'll release a million barrels of oil a day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a move that implies prices will come down at some point. The Department of Energy says it has more than 568 million barrels of oil in reserve. The AVA says “Nationalize the whole system, from the well to the pump.”

Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives is a true crime doc on Netflix that tells the story of a trendo-groove-o veg-o restaurant in Manhattan whose successful proprietor, Sarma Melngailis, manages to somehow delude herself that she, her dog and her hustler boyfriend/husband will live forever if she simply does whatever he tells her to do. Primarily, he tells her to send him money. She isn't stupid, exactly, but both of them wind up in prison for fraud as she diverts nearly two million dollars from her thriving gastro-emporium to lover boy, a fat guy who tells her after they're married that he really isn't obese; he's wearing a “meat suit.” Love has never been blinder as the restaurant staff is stiffed for unpaid wages none of them can afford to lose. It's an odd but riveting saga, and highly recommended by your infallible Boonville film critic.

DRUGS KILLED HER. There had been excited cyber-rumors that Alyssa Sawdey, 22, was one more victim of a Northcoast serial killer, not one more young victim of drugs, which she has turned out to be. The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Coroner's Division has completed its investigation into the January 11th death of Alyssa Sawdey, 22, of Ukiah, determining that Ms. Sawdey's cause of death as being “Acute Methamphetamine Toxicity” with no other significant contributory factors. 

JOHN MCCOWEN: The story about the Murder in Ukiah on Sunday identifies the location as the Wells Fargo bank parking lot, but it's my understanding that the parking lot is in the former Yokayo Shopping Center area owned by the County of Mendocino. A few years ago, I advocated with the County to clean up a large-scale ongoing encampment in front of the County building. The interim HHSA Director was taking a hands-off policy but I convinced the CEO that it was the County's responsibility to clean it up based on the impact to the neighbors, but also to our employees, one of whom had to clean up the mess every morning, including human waste. Sadly, in the last year it looks like the County has reverted to a policy of looking the other way since vehicle and non-vehicle campers alike have been allowed to occupy the same space for several months at a time. Maybe it's time for the Board of Supervisors and City Council to move beyond adopting the Marbut Report recommendations “in concept” and put them into practice. A couple of days ago I shared a story on the clean-up of a homeless encampment and added the following comment: “If we're serious about helping people graduate from homelessness, in addition to providing services, we will adopt a zero tolerance approach to encampments, as recommended by the Marbut Report. Turning a blind eye to homeless encampments is harmful to the environment, the community and the people who live in them.” Today (Monday), one individual experiencing homelessness is dead and another is in jail charged with murder. The suspect (and perhaps the victim, who is yet to be identified) has been living in the Social Services parking lot on and off for months. Allowing chronically homeless individuals to semi-permanently occupy public or private property has many negative impacts. To name just one, people living in encampments have very little incentive to seek other options, including treatment for mental illness or substance abuse, which are often the underlying conditions that prevent them from being housed. Every individual and every situation is different but turning a blind eye to encampments is seldom to anyone's benefit, including the people living in them.

JOHN REDDING: 

1. Are supervisors overpaid given the light demands on them? Yes. I would make the Board a working board.

2. Given that many line county employees also qualify for food stamps, will you introduce pay raises for them and pay freezes for management? Yes. Good leaders eat last.

3. Do you intend to end the pointless beef with the Sheriff? I would to be sure and would  never have started it in the first place.

4. Do you approve spending large amounts of public tax money via the consent calendar? Heaven’s no!

5. What exactly did assistant county health director, Doc Doohan, do for her $100,000 contract? She copied and pasted the directives coming from Sacramento.

6. Why do the Super approve hiring expensive Frisco lawyers to handle routine personnel disputes when the county maintains a staff of 8-10 county-paid attorneys? I think the answer is they have no respect for taxpayer money.

7. Do you support State Senator McGuire’s Great Redwood Trail even though it will cost over $1 billion by their own estimates? No. Wrong priority for this time and place. Another bullet train fiasco?

8. Do you support a new County Courthouse, despite the significant unfunded impact on the affected local departments? No. The County is barely responsive to the public’s needs as it is.

9. Why did incumbent Williams support the CEO’s lie that John McCowen had stolen county property? Good question, but the answer may be that Ted is not the nice guy he appears to be.

10. What specifically has the incumbent done for the 5th District? Another good question as the County is barely functioning. We need economic development and government accountability. My own track record for the health care District is far better. https://www.facebook.com/johnredding4supervisor

JOHN REDDING: How many of our Supervisors have demonstrated the ability to make sound financial judgments that resulted in the actual production of a usable and self-sustaining (financially) product or service? How many have the education or proven ability to comprehend the issues they are presented with daily as a Supervisor?

When I am elected Supervisor the answer will be — one.

I have 40 years of business experience, an MBA, three startups on my resume, and have been Treasurer of the Mendocino Coast District Hospital for going on four years. When I took office, the District was on the verge of bankruptcy with way too much long term debt. In one sentence, this is what I have accomplished: “So, by 2030 — when we will need to have a new facility — the District will have $25M saved away and not a penny of debt!” 

ED NOTE: Incumbent supervisor Williams has not replied to the same set of questions put to Redding. As of today, Redding one, Williams nothing.

ON LINE COMMENTS OF THE WEEK

[1] My grandmother was a hardcore fascist. After all, it was the fascists who took care of her following the loss of her father and several uncles in the Great War that didn’t benefit Italy in any way. She was tall and you can clearly see her in a newsreel carrying a flag at the head of a parade for Mussolini in Venice. 

My grandmother had no problem with the dozen German soldiers that occupied the first floor of her home while her husband was away fighting in Normandy. She kept her chin up with the loss of two brothers. She cared for the people made homeless by the near perpetual bombing of the rail lines that were less than a mile from her home.

She did all of this right up until the very day she could no longer make bread. “Once we could no longer make bread, no one was a fascist anymore,” she told us and that was when Mussolini was snatched from Salo (very near my grandmother’s home) and strung up.

[2] I went to Ukiah yesterday, and sat eating my “In and Out” protein-style double whatsit (wrapped in lettuce, no bun cause I’m losing weight) while guys who look worse off than me were wandering around having violent arguments with….. the sky I guess… Q: How many meth-addicted homeless guys live in Ukiah? A: All of them…

[3] Those tattooed-on permanent makeup eyebrows are the worst thing that ever happened to women. Look at thousands of them online and there’s maybe one that looks legit the rest always look like caterpillars taped on their foreheads. The worst of it is they actually paid for it!!! Then add mite lashes… “Hey, baby, your eyebrows and lashes are the sexiest thing I have ever seen,” said no man ever.

[4] If you haven’t done it yet, it would be wise to plan some kind of vegetable garden this Spring. And joining a CSA, that is, a Community Supported Agriculture association, if they exist in your area. You can buy shares of locally grown food. Also reaching out to small, local meat producers if they exist in your area. For example, I can buy a half of a hog from a fella. Or chicken, or he’d sell me beef, etc.

Learn how to can food. It’s not that difficult. 

Not everybody has the means to buy into their own farm or ranch. However, you can start to plug into locally grown sources of food, meat, etc.

[5] We need to start enforcing drug laws and stop enabling drug users. California homeless crisis is also a drug crisis. We need to stop using the $12,000,000,000 (12 billion) toward housing first programs and shift that state money to drug programs for the unhoused. We have an opportunity to stop two crisis - homelessness and drug addiction - if we use the money that the state has toward drug programs and mental illness facilities. If we keep pursuing the “housing first” method, we will continue to waste money on programs that do not work (California's homeless population has increased despite spending $13 billion in the last two year). Demand that funding for homeless services goes primarily into drug rehab, mental illness and programs for the previously incarcerated. We need to stop “harm reduction” programs that give people needles. Instead, we need harm reduction that collects dirty needles, gives fentanyl strips, and drug counseling. We need to start ticketing for open drug use. We need to make it harder - not easier - to purchase and use drugs. 

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