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Mendocino County Today: Friday, May 20, 2022

Windy | Fire Watch | Armed Robbery | Willits/Philo | Honeybee Hive | Elk Softball | Tech Help | Forest Fest | Redwood Tour | AV Museum | 1900 Bragg | Comer Case | Boater | CEO Report | County Failures | Unlocked Bikes | B Chron | Logger Cabins | Ed Notes | Yesterday's Catch | Ukraine | Caspar Lumberyard | Complainers | Work Enough | Candidate Statements | Disguise Kit | Bad Blues | King Snake | US Hubris | Supreme Defiance | Coal Train | RR Ties | Ax Grinders | Senseless Truth | CA Reg | Coast Sentinels | Disinfo Queen | Silent Folly

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BREEZY WINDS and milder interior temperatures will continue today. A warming trend will kick off this weekend and continue into next week with no rain expected. (NWS)

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FIRE WATCH

This Friday Lake County will be in a Red Flag Warning. To prepare, a task force of wildland engines will be staged at Station 70 in Clearlake. The task force will be out of Mendocino County, and will be ready to be utilized if a vegetation fire starts in tomorrow's expected conditions. As we prepare for the offense, remember no matter the weather a fire cannot start without an ignition source. We ask our community to do their part to make one less spark.

#FireIsEveryonesFight

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MASKED SUSPECTS FIRE HANDGUNS DURING ARMED ROBBERY IN CLOVERDALE

Scanner traffic beginning at approximately 9:50 p.m. indicated an armed robbery occurred at the Quikstop Gas Station in Cloverdale. The suspects were described as two individuals, both wearing black masks and hoodies, who entered the convenience store and fired handguns while conducting the armed robbery.…

mendofever.com/2022/05/19/masked-suspects-fire-handguns-during-armed-robbery-in-cloverdale/

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GOING FROM WILLITS TO PHILO?

Small mower part in Willits needs to get to Philo. Tanya will help pay for gas. Please phone: 895-2291

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UP AND RUNNING HONEYBEE HIVE

Reserve Now. $75 Deposit

Reservation Required for Pick up in Healdsburg. Sunday, May 22, 2022 (ONLY)

Super successful, up and running hive. Three to five frames or more filled with bees in a medium hive box with their well-bred queen successfully laying eggs. Hive consists of metal telescoping lid, inner cover, medium box with 10 frames and a bottom board. Boardman feeder and jar included for 50/50 C&H sugar water, stirred not boiled. 

Total $475 (please bring balance of $400 cash at pickup).

A second medium box will be needed right away as these bees are booming! + $82.50 (includes tax), if you wish.

AprilLanceBees.com, West Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg, CA 95448, 707 431-1569

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PEPPER MARTIN COMMUNITY SOFTBALL GAME this Sunday, May 22 in Elk

After a two year hiatus we'll have our annual Pepper Martin Community Softball game this Sunday, May 22. The kids' game starts around 1 pm, followed by the adult game around 2 pm. There will be hot dogs (veggie dogs too) and Miranda and Barbara are mixing up some special Margaritas. Beer and Wine as well as coffee and cookies will also be available. For more information call 877-1800.

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AV VILLAGE

Tech Support Event, Monday, May 23, 10:45 to 12:15 PM, AV Senior Center

Bring your smartphones, tablets, iPads, etc. and volunteer AV High School students (vaccinated and masked) will be available to help with tech support. Thank you, Nat Corey-Moran, for the support! Please Note: Our gatherings are open to everyone, but COVID Vaccinations are now REQUIRED (please bring your vaccination card (one time) as proof) and Masks are required inside.

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TOUR THE REDWOOD MULTICOHORT EXPERIMENT WITH PASCAL BERRILL PH-D

How can we regenerate the right number of redwood sprouts to grow up and replace harvested trees, while simultaneously promoting resistance to destructive wildfires?

Join UC Cooperative Extension at Jackson Demonstration State Forest for a walking tour of the Whiskey Springs Redwood Multicohort Experiment with CalPoly Humboldt Professor Pascal Berrill and JDSF Foresters to learn from 52 years of experiments asking this question and others.

Jackson Demonstration State Forest (meeting area TBD), Friday, May 27th, 10:00 am –2:00 pm. Rain or Shine. Bring lunch.

Registration is free, but required: http://ucanr.edu/multicohort

Please plan to observe COVID best practices, wear a mask if sharing a vehicle, and maintain social distancing.

For questions, contact Kyle Farmer, kfarmer@ucanr.edu, (707) 463-4495.

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IT’S A PARTY!

The board will be hosting a festive gathering at the Little Red School House Museum on Sunday, June 5, 1:00 to 4:00 pm. Admission is free! For your enjoyment, the afternoon will include music by Bob Day and Erica Zissa, Brad Wiley telling entertaining Stories of Yesteryear, and complimentary snacks, local beer & wine and lemonade. The party will be outdoors, with all museum buildings open for your wandering pleasure.

We’re combining our get together with this year’s AV Historical Society annual meeting. In years past, the annual meeting has included a presentation of financial statements and a run-down of the previous year. This year, we’re simply making that information available via handouts so we can get right to the festivities. Non-members who would like in on the fun are welcome. So tell your friends that this is their chance to get fed and feted while supporting the AV Historical Society & Museum. Come see your friends and neighbors at the Little Red Schoolhouse Museum. (Jerry Karp)

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4th of July Parade, Fort Bragg, 1900

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ALLEGATIONS OF A COVER-UP AFTER SON OF A MENDOCINO COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE LIEUTENANT FACES CHILD PORN CHARGES—SHERIFF SPEAKS OUT

by Matt LaFever

Trent James is a former Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office deputy and a former officer with the Willits Police Department who left the county and has gone on to create the YouTube channel Confessions of an Ex-Cop. James has released numerous videos that purportedly reveal corruption within the command staff of his former employers.

In December, James claimed that MCSO’s Lieutenant JD Comer was under investigation for possession of child pornography and MCSO was actively covering it up. Two days ago, he refined his accusations in his latest video after Comer’s son Bailey was booked in the Mendocino County Jail for alleged possession of child pornography. 

James claimed MCSO went to great lengths to protect Comer, tamp down the investigation, and minimize public information about the case. As of this writing, the video has almost 11,000 views.

Yesterday, Mendocino County Sheriff Matt Kendall sat down with us to address James’s accusations and discuss the realities he faces of “doing what is right” when investigating one of his own.

Sheriff Kendall said on September 25, 2019, the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC), a national team of cybercrime investigators, determined that a folder on the cloud-sharing service DropBox contained child pornography and was being accessed via an internet connection somewhere in Mendocino County.

ICAC informed the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office of these claims on October 31, 2019–over one month later.

On the same day that the information was received, Sheriff Kendall explained, a deputy was assigned to investigate the case. The deputy filed a search warrant to obtain information about the internet traffic associated with the IP address that ICAC had identified.

On November 4, 2019, MCSO learned from information gained with the search warrant that the IP address was associated with a home in Fort Bragg owned by MCSO Lieutenant JD Comer where multiple people reside. These findings resulted in the beginnings of both a criminal investigation and an internal affairs investigation. 

Regarding the criminal investigation, Kendall said that he reached out to the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office to “find an agency that would work with this” knowing that criminally investigating one of his employees would be a conflict of interest.

MCSO and the DA’s Office requested assistance from the Sacramento Valley High Tech Crimes Task Force (SVHTCTF), a branch of the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, staffed with the appropriate equipment and personnel to conduct the specialized investigations required of cyber crimes.

Sheriff Kendall said MCSO’s most immediate objective was to identify if there was any possibility his employee, Lieutenant Comer, was the one accessing the DropBox file.

Three days later, the SVHTCTF cleared Lieutenant Comer as a suspect. Sheriff Kendall said they were able to cross-reference Comer’s confirmed location against specific dates the Dropbox was accessed from outside of both Mendocino County and the State of California. “He could not have been two places at once,” Sheriff Kendall said.

From early November 2019 to January 2022, the task force conducted their investigation into who had accessed the DropBox folder containing child pornography. Sheriff Kendall said his agency “prodded the task force a number of times” during this period, but could not speak to why it took over two years for the investigation to be completed. “I am not in charge of the task force so I do not know why it took so long,” he told us

Trent James, however, speculated the extended duration of the investigation suggested MCSO was actively covering for their employee rather than investigating them. 

Sheriff Kendall patently rejected this claim that the investigation’s duration was proof of his agency attempting to protect their employee. He suggested law enforcement staffing issues, the closure of police academies across the state due to COVID disruptions, and the complex nature of cyber crimes investigation could all be contributing factors to the drawn-out timeline. 

On November 19, 2021, Trent James released a video on his YouTube channel claiming Lieutenant Comer was under investigation for the possession of child pornography. 

When James made these claims, Sheriff Kendall said his agency’s “hands were tied” because the criminal investigation was still ongoing and at that point, he could not comment on the case. Now, since Comer’s son has been charged, he has the opportunity “to defend Lieutenant Comer and tell the truth.”

On January 17, 2022, MCSO was contacted by the SVHTCTF and informed their investigation had concluded and they would be submitting the case to the Mendocino County District Attorney to be charged. Based on this information, the internal affairs investigation against Lieutenant Comer was officially closed after investigators decided his son Bailey was accessing the child pornography, not the Lieutenant. 

From the time the investigation was handed off to SVHTCTF until the charges were filed by the Mendocino County District Attorney, Sheriff Matt Kendall said, “I had no idea who the suspect was, as designed. I wanted to remove myself from the investigation from the conflict of interest. We took these steps to make sure nothing dirty or underhanded could occur.”

On April 26, 2022, District Attorney David Eyster filed a criminal complaint against Bailey Comer, Lieutenant JD Comer’s son, accusing him of PC 311.1, the unlawful and knowing possession of videos and images depicting persons under 18 years of age engaging or simulating sexual conduct.

On May 15, 2022, Bailey Comer was booked and released in the Mendocino County Jail, as per a directive written by Mendocino County’s District Attorney sent by mail to Comer. James claims the issuance of a book and release notice instead of a warrant indicates MCSO was making things easier for their Lieutenant’s son.

However, Sheriff Kendall responded by saying, “That’s not our call. That’s the District Attorney’s.”

Another detail around Comer’s arrest that James uses to implicate MCSO in a cover-up is the fact there was no press release issued.

To that, Sheriff Kendall replied, “We didn’t investigate the case. The Sacramento Valley High Tech Crimes Task Force investigated it. They’re the ones that possess the information about the investigation.”

If Comer’s case was to go to court, investigators from the High Tech Task Force would take the stand against Comer, not deputies from MCSO, Sheriff Kendall explained.

In his most recent video, James claimed MCSO purposefully “charged down” as reflected in the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Booking Logs where Bailey Comer is listed as being charged with a misdemeanor.

However, as per the criminal complaint filed by the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office, Comer is being charged with a felony, not a misdemeanor.

Sheriff Kendall simply chalked that inconsistency up to a clerical error made either at the hands of the deputy processing Comer or a computer glitch. 

Besides the claims that the Sheriff’s Department attempted to cover up the child pornography allegations, James contends in his video that he has intel that MCSO is conducting a “witch hunt” looking for anyone that could be feeding him information that could defame the department. 

Sheriff Kendall confirmed that MCSO has been conducting an internal affairs investigation on a deputy they believe was releasing information about an active investigation. Sheriff Kendall said, “I could not care less about who talks to Trent James.” 

There is no “witch hunt”, Sheriff Kendall explained, “but divulging information about active investigations can prevent justice. When someone realizes they are a suspect in a case, it can cause the suspect to destroy evidence and form alibis.” With this in mind, Sheriff Kendall asserted, “we cannot have deputy sheriffs handing out this information on active cases because you jeopardize the investigation and justice for the victims.”

James claims in his video that he had contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation approximately two weeks ago. Sheriff Kendall has not heard from the FBI about the case and said that if the FBI were involved, the charges Bailey Comer faces would be appearing in a federal court.

In James’ most recent video, he speaks about a March 2020 incident in which a Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office off-duty deputy overdosed on opioids. This resulted in a press release, composed by Sheriff Matt Kendall, promising transparency and accountability while the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office investigated the incident helping mitigate any potential conflicts of interest. James questioned why MCSO was not equally transparent about the investigation into the DropBox folder of child pornography. 

Addressing writing the press release about the deputy who overdosed, Sheriff Kendall said, “When a deputy breaks the law and steps out of line, we deal with them.” 

He went on to highlight the difference between the overdosing deputy and the Lieutenant Comer situation: “When a deputy is accused of something that he is not guilty of, then we have to stand up and defend him and tell the truth.” He went on to explain, “People can say whatever they want to say. They don’t have to play by the rules. But, I do. They don’t have to tell the truth, but I do.”

One of the charges Trent James leveled against Kendall in his recent video was that the Sheriff was a “bad politician.”

Kendall responded to that by saying, “He’s correct. I’m not a politician. I’m the Sheriff. And, I’m quite proud of that.”

Sheriff Kendall spoke of the dilemma he faced knowing one of his employees was navigating his son being accused of a crime. “You just feel terrible when your friends are going through things. This a traumatic event for their family.”

It must be stated that the charges described against Bailey Comer have not been proven in a court of law. In accordance with the legal principle of the presumption of innocence, any individual described should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

(Courtesy, MendoFever.com)

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A Boater on Big River, 1930

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CEO REPORT NOTES:

by Mark Scaramella

INTERIM CEO Darcie Antle has continued the clever practice of former CEO Carmel Angelo by releasing her CEO report on the day the Supervisors meet. This little trick means that even if anyone on the Board or in the public wanted to comment on anything in it (there’s usually not much, but that too could be worth commenting on), there’s no time to review and comment. By the time the next Board meeting rolls around (on June 7, now), the CEO Report will not only be forgotten, but stale. 

Take this odd item included in the May 17 CEO report:

“Paperless Directive — The Board of Supervisors directed staff on November 12, 2019 to author a specification document outlining document digitalization plan including equipment and personnel needs, tentative schedule, training, file naming convention, public access, redaction, redundant offsite storage and an associated cost analysis.”

That’s it? Apparently. A note of what the staff was “directed” to do more than two years ago without even a remark about what’s taking so long or why the item is even mentioned.

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The failed pot permit program which, as noted recently, has suffered a dramatic drop in pot tax revenues this year and next and… is still working on staffing up — big-time. 

“During the month of April, the Code Enforcement Division conducted interviews to fill five (5!) vacant Code Enforcement Officer I positions. The interview process is now complete, and hiring will take place upon approval. These positions are to support the Enhanced Cannabis Enforcement Plan approved by the Board of Supervisors in May 2021. Code Enforcement will continue to implement the plan as resources are made available.”

So revenues are down, but staffing way up! Mendo says they’re running an “austere” budget this year and can’t even afford a few thousand bucks for the County’s “struggling” ambulance services because pot taxes are down. Maybe they should revisit that “approval” of more than a year ago to see if maybe the downturn in pot permit applications and the overall pot market requires some downward adjustment.

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Behavioral Health reports that they “welcomed a third Mental Health Rehabilitation Specialist in April, and he should be finished orienting and shadowing by May. We hope to expand service areas and possibly hours. His position will be funded in part with CCMU grant funding until that funding ends.”

That’s good, of course. Until you remember that Measure B funded these positions three years ago and it’s taken them years to fill them so they should have plenty of money to continue it without worrying about possible grant funding. 

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“To date, a total of 153 employees have been recognized for one of the following awards since the [awards] program inception in 2019.

Team Player: 57 Employees

Customer Service: 19 Employees

Leadership at All Levels: 14 Employees

Innovation: 11 Employees

Excellence: 52 Employees”

Only 19 employees got “customer service awards” in almost four years?

Also, we wonder what the criteria is for a “Team Player” award…? Facebook postings praising the CEO? Silence during budget cut meetings? 

We couldn’t help noticing that there were almost as many Excellence award winners as Team Players. Does that mean that the Team Players were not also Excellent? 

Nobody in Mendocino County above first line supervisor should get a “Leadership” award.

What about some Participation Awards? Surely the Team Players should get Participation Awards too.

We’d give Participation and Team Player awards to all five Supervisors too. 

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A READER WRITES: The Major left out a few items from his list of Major County Failures and Screw-ups: 

  • Persistent misuse of consent calendar for high dollar contracts, salary raises, retroactive decisions, and not including proper budget info.
  • Lack of leadership in discussing pros and cons of significant issues whether policy or expenditures.
  • Lack of aggressive leadership in dealing with issues like ambulance service and patrol deputy funding.

PS. I bet you have more!

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Mendocino Elementary, 1950

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MEASURE B, THE CHRONOLOGY

Dear Editor:

Mark Twain is credited with apologizing to a friend for sending a long letter because he didn’t have time to write a short one. With that in mind, I would like to apologize to the reader for a long chronology of Measure B, because a short letter would not give justice to the genesis of what Mendocino County possesses. 

In 2009, during the economic downturn, CEO Angelo and I had a public display of emotions where I showed dismay at her for suggesting that I lay off 25 Deputy Sheriff’s to balance the budget. Such a far-fetched suggestion was beyond reasonable and I clearly and publicly denounced such a recommendation. After some board room bantering, the chair of the BOS recommended a 15 minute recess, and directed the CEO and I to privately discuss our differences. This turned into our “Monday Morning Meeting”, every Monday at 8:30. This created a much better relationship between the CEO’s office and the Sheriff’s Office. As we all know, communication makes better relationships. 

I had worked for MCSO since 1985, prior to the demise of the Psychiatric Health Facility (referred to as a PHF, or “Puff”) and I experienced the 1991 dismantling of the County PHF wherein the Mental Health Department tacitly transferred additional duties to law enforcement, after the State of California decided to “realign” mental health services. History has shown that this realignment has increased law enforcements role in emergency mental health crisis and has relieved the very agency which is trained for this, the Department of Behavior Health. No additional funding was transferred to law enforcement, just the transfer of some basic duties which formally were performed by the Dept. Of Mental Health (presently referred to as the Behavioral Health Division of Social Services). 

In 2014, after 8 years of frustration with the expectation that law enforcement deal with the day-to-day mental health crisis’s throughout our county, I sat down with the CEO on a Monday morning and asked a simple question: “ Why don’t we have a PHF?”. I saw this as a reasonable question, with the intent of removing law enforcement from the crisis drivers seat, and allow law enforcement to return to enforcing laws. The CEO’s answer was short, poignant and direct: “Sheriff, we can’t afford to build it and we don’t have the funds”. That was a fair answer, and the answer which drove me to personally collect 3,000 signatures and have other supporters collect over 1,500 signatures to get Measures AG and AH on the ballot. 

This county-wide measure failed by approx. 100 votes. The BOS put Measure B on the ballot for the next election, and I personally collected contributions and campaigned for the passage of Measure B. As you may remember, over 160 signs were put up throughout the county and a letter-writing campaign was started to our newspapers so we could pass “Measure B, for Better Mental Health”. I was joined by a small group of citizens who met weekly with one goal in mind: to improve the mental health of our county and get a PHF facility up and running. 83% of the voters agreed with us, and passed a small sales tax which will build a brick and mortar PHF and will forever add additional funds to the Department of Mental Health to improve Mental Health Services. The CEO’s concern(s) of not having the necessary funds had been eliminated. A bright future was forecast for allowing our hospital emergency departments to have beds freed up and a PHF was forthcoming. 

Now for the reality. Almost 4 years later, we have no clear direction on building a PHF and the Behavior Health Department continues to rely on law enforcement to handle the majority of mental health crisis’s. As I said during the initial campaigns “ You wouldn’t call a plumber when your house is on fire, so why do we call law enforcement when a mental health patient is having a crisis. We need to send a mental health professional”. My words continue to ring true and unfortunately, I will follow up with “I told you so” when a true crisis strikes. 

Sheriff Kendall and UPD Chief Wyatt have implored the Measure B committee to fully institute a street response for mental health professionals, and they have both agreed to have a paid responder to join these professionals. Why hasn’t the county hired the others? Why are law enforcement officers continuing to be asked (demanded) to respond to mental health crisis’s? Many times, there are no laws being violated yet the Behavioral Health Department has no professionals ready to respond, even during the work hours M-F, 8-5. This has to change. Unless the BOS wants to put the Behavior Health Department under the tutelage of the Sheriff’s Office (I’m not encouraging this), I don’t see a vast improvement. Let’s be clear, marijuana is NOT the number 1 problem in our county, the lack of Mental Health services is our number 1 problem. Please read that sentence again.

It is time that all five of our BOS’s put Mental Health services as the first item on every agenda they have. The more we discuss our problem, the closer we are to a solution. We can’t ignore it and then scream at law enforcement for merely doing someone else’s job. While I am concerned about the cost of liability, my primary concern is the improved care of victims of mental illness. I write this as a brother of a mental health victim who chose to take his own life in 2005 (not in Mendocino County). 

As I said at the beginning of this, I’m sorry for the length of this letter. It is time that we start seeing letters from citizens who are supportive of the Behavioral Health Department taking the reins of all behavior health crisis’s in every corner of our county. Simply saying that a change is in the future is no longer believable. Action is what we need, and don’t blame the Measure B committee for this failure. The BOS and the Behavioral Health Department can make a difference. Law enforcement will be there to help, but not to be the sacrificial cow when something goes wrong.

Tom Allman, 

Concerned Citizen

Member of Measure B

Sheriff, Retired

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Logger Cabins

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ED NOTES

A READER WRITES: I asked a friend in AV about who to vote for for Super of Schools. I voted for Michelle [Hutchins] and recommended people do the same, but I thot you should see what I heard back.

THREE OPINIONS OF SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS CANDIDATES from other people:

(1) Lynda McClure was supporting Hutchins when much of AV was ready to run Hutchins out of town on a rail. I like Michelle as a person but I did not like working with her or for her. I was going to work a couple more years part time but decided I preferred to retire earlier rather than work under her. She was not collaborative and she had no interest in what her staff thought — about anything. She also mismanaged finances. She burned through all of the surplus that had been built up under JR in under two years and the school got nothing for it. She spent a lot on additional administrative staff, attending conferences, and bringing in consultants. I guess that doesn't mean she's necessarily a poor superintendent, but my imagination doesn't see how she'd be a good one.

(2) X's opinion is very similar to the above, except I didn't have any info on Glentzer. I, too, retired earlier than I had planned to because working for and with Michelle just made me angry all the time. She was quite impulsive on spending, demeaning to her staff, volatile in her emotions, manipulative in the extreme, and very ambitious. I felt sorry for her sometimes because she didn't understand why people were angry at her; she assumed it was because she was a woman boss, not because she was acting like an asshole. I'd rather she be the county superintendent than a high school principal, because the further from students and teachers the better, but if there's another viable option I would vote for that person.

(3) From the perspective of a parent/grandparent I feel negatively about Michelle Hutchins for some crazy idea she had about getting less expensive pre-prepared institutional food delivered to students instead of having freshly prepared food available at the school sites — maybe someone else remembers the details about that. I am voting for Glentzer.

ED REPLY: There was much local support for Michelle. She was never anywhere near getting "run out of town on a rail," but Linda McClure stood up for her publicly and deserves all due credit for doing it. Michelle succeeded the over-long and, imo, undisciplined regime of JR. Collins, nice guy but a guy who loaded the staff with old pals while the whole lazy, nepotistic show went pretty much unsupervised for years. Michelle Hutchins brought with her much higher standards and found herself immediately disliked by a segment of the elementary staff and its principal (not re-hired when her contract was up), who resented the badly needed changes Ms. Hutchins instituted. Hutchins conceded, btw, that the food program referred to above was a mistake and returned to the old program. And she was supported by the school board and the high school staff. A handful of local women have pursued Ms. H. for purely subjective reasons until this day. When a critic says H. wasn't "collaborative" she/he probably means H. disagreed with them. H. made a lot of changes that were long overdue. No complaints about her as County superintendent, although her opponent has brazenly circulated an ad for herself claiming MCOE employees are backing her. I tried to find out if there indeed is an MCOE employee union, who is its rep, what was the employee vote, when was the vote taken etc. to no response. I think the Ukiah-focused opposition to Hutchins boils down to the resentment the Ukiah Unified feels for how edu-funds are distributed. Under Superintendent Tichinin, Ukiah got lots and lots while the outlying districts were shorted. Odd, isn't it? that the MCOE race has generated this much heat and a whole lot of secret slander aimed at the incumbent. Never have seen anything like it in Mendo.

FROM YESTERDAY'S MCT: “An on-line reader called Wednesday to say that he would prefer that the AVA's daily collection of news, Mendocino County Today, be organized more like a conventional news website with sports, weather, local news, national news, events, etc. because he doesn't like having to scroll through the collection to see what's what on his smallish mobile phone.”

MCT DOES HAVE A LOOSE ORGANIZATION, mostly in the order listed above (with the omission of sports). It looks like this: weather, local news & announcements, ed notes, yesterday's catch, national news, essays and opinion — all interspersed with graphics to help break up the gray. We also provide a clickable table-of-contents at the top, to navigate to a particular item and provide an overall sense of each day's content. We sympathize with the difficulties of viewing all this material on a tiny screen and do our best to accommodate, but there are limits and choices that must be made in this regard. (Mike Kalantarian, webeditor)

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CATCH OF THE DAY, May 19, 2022

Derbigny, Gielow, Gower, Haddon

DEVANTA DERBIGNY, Ukiah. Domestic battery.

CHARLES GIELOW III, Willits. Controlled substance, under influence, saps/similar weapons.

JASON GOWER, Eureka/Willits. Appropriation of lost property, stolen property, access card fraud, paraphernalia, probation revocation.

DERREK HADDON, Redwood Valley. Controlled substance, probation revocation.

Hoaglen Lathrop, Koeppel

CHARMAYNE HOAGLEN, Willits. DUI-alcohol&drugs, hit and run with property damage, suspended license, child endangerment, under influence.

JOSIE LATHROP, Ukiah. Under influence, paraphernalia.

JOSHUA KOEPPEL, Willits. Domestic battery.

Leon, Mansfield, McCoy, Pena

JORGE LEON, Willits. Disobeying court order, failure to apepar.

GEORGE MANSFIELD, Fort Bragg. Parole violation.

JONATHAN MCCOY, Willits. Burglary.

GUILLERMO PENA, Oakland/Ukiah. Fugitive from justice.

Ray, Schnabel, Serr

JAMES RAY, Hopland. Failure to appear.

CHRISTOPHER SCHNABEL, Willits. Domestic battery.

CARL SERR, Ukiah. Controlled substance, paraphernalia.

Titus, Washburn, Williams

JARED TITUS, Ukiah. Failure to appear.

TIFFANY WASHBURN, Ukiah. Controlled substance.

ERIKA WILLIAMS, Hopland. Harboring wanted felon. 

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UKRAINE, MAY 19

As Thursday draws to a close in Kyiv and in Moscow, here are the key developments of the day:

Russia said another 771 Ukrainian fighters surrendered at a bombed-out steel plant in Mariupol in the past day, bringing the total to 1,730. The International Committee of the Red Cross said it has registered hundreds of soldiers emerging from the Azovstal steel plant as prisoners of war. Ukraine's government didn't comment on the latest numbers, but has said its troops were evacuated from the last holdout in Mariupol into Russian-controlled territory and that Ukrainian officials hoped they would come home in a prisoner exchange. 

In Ukraine's first war crimes trial, the accused Russian soldier asked a Ukrainian widow to forgive him for killing her husband. The widow, Kateryna Shelipova, broke down in tears on the witness stand and later confronted the 21-year-old Russian army sergeant, asking him what he felt when he shot her husband, Oleksandr Shelipov. “Fear,” said the soldier, Vadim Shishimarin, who's pleaded guilty and could face life in prison. “I understand you probably won't be able to forgive me. But I ask for your forgiveness.”

Finland and Sweden have the “full, total, complete backing“ of the U.S. for their application to join NATO, President Biden said at the White House after meeting with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson. But Turkey has warned it will veto the two countries' applications. Biden said he was sending paperwork to Congress for U.S. ratification of their bids. The Senate meanwhile approved $40 billion in new aid to Ukraine, bringing U.S. spending on the war to more than $100 million per day, according to defense experts.

McDonald's has found a buyer for its Russian operations as it prepares to exit the country after 32 years. The fast-food chain plans to hand over more than 800 restaurants in Russia to licensee Alexander Govor, who has operated 25 of them in Siberia since 2015. McDonald's wants them to get new branding, logos and menus, but promised that current tens of thousands of staff can keep their jobs for at least two years. 

Ukrainians marked a holiday in honor of their traditional embroidered clothing. In wartime, though, Vyshyvanka Day struck a more somber note for some than the usually festive parades. But officials hoped to raise the national spirit, with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy calling Ukraine's traditional dress “our sacred amulet in this war.” And the prosecutor general tweeted: “The evil will not manage to break the thinnest threads of our national strong plexus of patterns which symbolize kindness, love and memory of kin.”

— NPR

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Caspar Lumberyard

* * *

ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY

Both my parents were the apple of their parents eye. They had every imaginable advantage. They traveled the world. Compared to a hell of a lot of other people, they did pretty much whatever they wanted. My father is in his 80’s (his own father was dead at 62 , his grandfather at 43.) My mother is in her 70’s. Their son died at 47. They live in a very nice neighborhood, and it takes about 30 minutes to walk from one end of their property to the other. But they bitch and moan like they are Somali orphans. And do so at least 345 days a year, as long as I have known them. So, yes, I suppose you could say I am very hard–hearted. To get pretty much any sympathy from me, you better have a really bad story.

* * *

THE BIGGEST DEFEAT in every department of life is to forget, especially, the things that have done you in, and to die without realizing how far people can go in the way of crumminess. When the grave lies open before us, let’s not try to be witty, but record the worst of human viciousness that we've seen without changing one word. When that’s done, we can curl up our toes and sink into the pit. That’s work enough for a lifetime.

— Louis-Ferdinand Celine, 1932; from “Journey to the End of Night”

* * *

WHO ARE ALL THESE CANDIDATES?

Editor: 

Can you imagine trying to hire a well-compensated professional who can’t be bothered to submit a résumé? Fewer than half the candidates for governor and U.S. senator bothered to submit even a brief statement for the ballot pamphlet. The statistics are depressingly similar for most of the other offices on the June 7 ballot. If it’s too much trouble for a candidate to submit a serious, informative statement (including relevant work experience and education), their names shouldn’t appear on the ballot. It’s a waste of money, paper and voters’ time to have to parse through numerous candidates without any meaningful information. Only in government would something so obviously absurd be tolerated.

Nancy Hair

Sebastopol

* * *

Disguise Kit, 1930s

* * *

LOOKS LIKE ANOTHER 'BAD BLUE' JUST BIT THE DUST

by Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon

Three years ago, we helped write a report for RootsAction.org targeting 15 corporate Democrats in Congress who deserved to be “primaried.” We called the report “Bad Blues.” A common reaction back then was that those establishment pols were too strong and entrenched to be defeated.

On Tuesday, yet another “Bad Blue” apparently went down to defeat – with seven-term Congressman Kurt Schrader of Oregon running way behind community activist Jamie McLeod-Skinner in the slowly tallied Democratic primary.

Schrader is not the first “Bad Blue” on our list to face defeat by a progressive challenger. And he’s unlikely to be the last.

The incumbent heavily outspent McLeod-Skinner – thanks to lavish funding from big pharma and other corporate PACs – but Schrader was out-organized on the ground. McLeod-Skinner called him “the Joe Manchin of the House.”

The current vote count indicates that constituents in that Oregon district will no longer be represented by a Democrat who obstructs progressive initiatives on Capitol Hill, such as drug pricing reform and Build Back Better. (Despite his blockage of Democratic measures, Schrader was endorsed in the primary by Joe Biden and Speaker Nancy Pelosi.)

Next Tuesday in South Texas, Henry Cuellar – now the only anti-abortion House Democrat – may be ousted in a Democratic primary runoff by progressive immigrants’ rights lawyer Jessica Cisneros. As we wrote in our 2019 “Bad Blues” report, Cuellar is so corporate that he gets funded by the Republican-allied Koch Industries PAC.

But it’s not just Koch Industries that supports Cuellar against Cisneros. It’s also Pelosi. And that’s the crux of the problem – a blue wall of corruption and incumbency.

Bad Blues in the House rely on support from old-line Democratic leaders like Pelosi and Jim Clyburn, and cash from corporate PACS that fund the leadership of both political parties.

The good news is that Bad Blues are being ousted by progressives who rely on small donors and support from grassroots activists.

Speaker Pelosi reaffirmed her endorsement of Cuellar against Cisneros even after the FBI raided Cuellar’s home and campaign headquarters last January as part of a corruption probe. Then she doubled down on her endorsement of the anti-choice incumbent just days ago, even after the Supreme Court draft to overturn Roe v. Wade was leaked. Meanwhile, as the number-three House Democrat, Clyburn recently campaigned in Texas for Cuellar against Cisneros.

It’s worth remembering – and might be a source of inspiration – that the top of the blue wall of corruption is getting weaker and near retirement. The Democratic House leadership trio of Pelosi, Bad Blue Steny Hoyer and Clyburn are aged 82, 82 and 81 respectively. Well-funded by corporate interests, they serve the status quo. Running on an aggressive change agenda (Green New Deal, Medicare for All, etc.), the grassroots-funded Jessica Cisneros is not yet 30.

Of the 15 Bad Blues we identified in 2019, two have chosen to retire from Congress, and two were primaried and defeated back in 2020. Democrat-in-name-only Dan Lipinski was defeated in the Chicago southwest side and neighboring suburbs by liberal activist Marie Newman. And then in one of the most stunning upsets in recent U.S. politics, 16-term Rep. Eliot Engel from New York – the hawkish chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee – was ousted from Congress by educator Jamaal Bowman, who promptly joined the progressive “squad.”

Bowman, after being recruited as a candidate by Justice Democrats, got into Congress because of a grassroots campaign that involved activists from many groups, including the Working Families Party and Democratic Socialists of America.

On his path to Washington, Bowman owed no favors to big donors or to the status quo Democratic leadership. He arrived in Washington ready to fight for the progressive reforms needed by his working-class constituents in the Bronx and Westchester.

Jamie McLeod-Skinner, as the replacement for Bad Blue Kurt Schrader, would not be beholden to any of the many corporate PACs that supported him.

And if Jessica Cisneros can defeat Cuellar on Tuesday in South Texas, she’ll be ready to fight for the interests of her working-class district.

And the rest of us will gain a congresswoman who can help chip away at a blue wall of corruption.

(Jeff Cohen is co-founder of RootsAction.org, a retired journalism professor at Ithaca College, and author of “Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media.” In 1986, he founded the media watch group FAIR.

Norman Solomon is the national director of RootsAction.org and the author of a dozen books including “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He is the founder and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.)

* * *

BYRON SPOONER: I've lived in California for 35 years and never seen a California King Snake despite having kept at least half an eye out all that time. 

Like everything else, these babies are getting more and more scarce with each passing day. Imagine my excitement when I spotted this guy crossing my friend Richard D Lang's driveway in Forest Knolls. I felt like a kid. I'm guessing 22 inches long. One of the most beautiful things I've ever held. 

* * *

ARISTOTLE’S FOUR CAUSES

by Eli Zaretsky

According to Aristotle, we cannot understand something unless we understand what causes it, but ‘cause’ for Aristotle was a complex, multi-layered concept. In the case of the present war between Ukraine and Russia, Aristotle would have described Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as the efficient cause – the immediate precipitant – but would have argued that a fuller understanding must include the material history of Europe; the form given to that history by the Second World War and its long aftermath, which left the US in effective control of the continent; and the overall or final direction of history at stake in the conflict.

I want to focus here on the form given to the conflict by America’s preponderant role in European politics. I will concentrate on five interrelated questions: America’s overall relation to Europe; European self-governance; the German question; the Russian question; and Eurasia.

The starting point for any understanding of America’s role in Europe must be the Monroe Doctrine of 1823. Provoked by the Latin American revolts against Spain, the doctrine was an attempt to forestall European intervention in the Western hemisphere. But this was balanced with the promise, in President Monroe’s words, ‘not to interfere in the internal concerns of any [European] powers’ – in other words, ‘to consider [any existing European] government de facto as the legitimate government for us.’

The doctrine was modified in the 20th century, beginning with Woodrow Wilson’s rejection of balance-of-power politics and his call for ‘internationalism’, but this shift was always one-sided. The US retained its ‘right’, based on the Monroe Doctrine, to exclude ‘foreign’ interference in the Western hemisphere, but assumed a new right to interfere elsewhere in the world. That opened the way to the current situation: America is not only preponderant in Europe today; this preponderance reflects an enormous global imbalance.

Second, America’s disproportionate power reflects the long-standing difficulties Europe has had in organizing its own relations. In effect, European governments have been infantilized since the Second World War. The most obvious example of this is the fact that NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe has to be an American general. European governments distrust one another, but rather than work out their differences, they rely on the United States. Financially, too, European security is underwritten by American wealth at the cost of European autonomy. The 2008 Bucharest Summit Declaration that ‘NATO welcomes Ukraine’s and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership’ was opposed by France and Germany, but to no avail. This has enormous consequences for the present crisis.

Third, American power in Europe has substituted for a long-term solution to ‘the German question’. By virtue of its size, geographic position and economic power, Germany ought to play a leading role in mediating between East and West, in other words, between Russia and Western Europe, but, in good part because of the catastrophe of Nazism, has been reluctant to do so. This has left a vacuum, which the US has filled in a negative way – by perpetuating the split between Western and Eastern Europe, which began as a form of colonialism after the Second World War. To be sure, America has been pivotal in encouraging Eastern European economic development, but at the cost of empowering the region’s most Russophobic elements, which historically have been on the right. Poland’s role in servicing the CIA’s torture ‘black sites’ is an example of what I mean.

Fourth, the possibilities for peace that the Soviet Union under Gorbachev offered to both Europe and the United States in 1989-90 were of a sort that comes along very rarely, not even once a century. Gorbachev spoke of ‘our common European home’. Under American leadership, however, the West’s response was to expand NATO, an anti-Russian alliance both in its origins and at present, and to impose shock therapy on the Russian economy. Russia, historically, has always contained both democratic and statist elements. America’s outsize role encouraged the statist side of its politics, which was by no means inevitably dominant. No one can really say how post-1989 Russia would have developed if it had not been treated with condescension and hostility, but those are the conditions that produced Putin.

Fifth, American ‘internationalism’, as shown by its disproportionate role in Europe, has global implications, especially for East Asia. In the late 19th and early 20th century, when American foreign policy began to shift from the balance of power implicit in the Monroe Doctrine to its grandiose and vague ‘internationalism’, thinkers such as Halford Mackinder – arguably Theodore Roosevelt’s favorite geographer – began to see the value of keeping the European peninsula divided from Russia. For Mackinder, such a division was preferable to forms of peace and co-operation that would make Eurasia, the world’s ‘heartland’, the center of geopolitics, reducing American sea power to a secondary role. Whether consciously or not, American thinkers were guided by this insight not only in 1989 but in 1917 and 1945. In other words, they have sought to keep Europe and Russia divided. This has implications for America’s present relations not only to Russia but also to China.

To conclude: there is no question that America has contributed to world peace, especially through its part in the defeat of German and Italian fascism and Japanese militarism, and in filling the vacuum left in Europe after the Second World War. But this history has left global politics with a fundamental problem at the center: America’s disproportionate role. This problem is not merely contingent, it is structural. The United States, which has no security problems of its own, regularly launches foreign wars, as in Vietnam or Iraq or Afghanistan, as well as fostering proxy militarizations, as in Eastern Europe and Ukraine, without paying any price, and without learning anything from its mistakes. The result is hubris. This has immediate implications for the Ukraine conflict, in that America’s leadership has an interest in keeping the war going. As Aristotle argued, we cannot understand any event merely in its immediate context, but need to understand long-term causes both in the sense of what brought the event about, and in the sense of the ‘final cause’ that the event serves.

(London Review of Books)

* * *

* * *

EVEN MORE FANCIFUL THAN THE GREAT REDWOOD TRAIL SCAM....

by Andrew Graham

A controversial, long-shot proposal to ship coal by freight rail up the North Coast is not dead yet.

The federal body that oversees the nation’s railroad rights of way indicated this week that it will consider the proposal from a mysterious Wyoming company to reconstruct defunct rail lines and ship coal out of Humboldt Bay to Asia.

The coal export proposal, widely regarded as unrealistic, is facing staunch opposition from local and state lawmakers, the tight margins of a declining coal industry and would need up to $2 billion to restore abandoned sections of track in Mendocino and Humboldt counties, according to previous state estimates.

But the decision by the U.S. Surface Transportation Board could complicate another North Coast venture: the proposed Great Redwood Trail, a 320-mile bicycle and pedestrian recreation route along former railways stretching from Eureka to San Francisco Bay.

The trail project, championed by state Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, and many other elected officials, conservationists and economic development officials, made significant strides in March with the creation of a state agency to spearhead the effort.

The coal shipping proposal surfaced in August 2021, when a newly-formed, Wyoming-based entity called the North Coast Railroad Co. filed documents with the federal rail board suggesting it could raise the funds to restore abandoned rail segments.

The Great Redwood Trail Agency sought to nip that proposal in the bud, asking the rail board to disregard it.

But in a May 17 ruling, the Surface Transportation Board indicated it would consider the coal entity’s proposal. The board will also consider a proposal from the company behind the Skunk Train, a Mendocino County tourism attraction, to rehabilitate a section of the rail line.

In its ruling, the rail board cited a “strong congressional intent to preserve rail service wherever possible.”

In the coming weeks, both companies will have to put forward proposals indicating they have the necessary financing to restore the rail lines. They will also have to indicate they can earn a 7.5% return on their eventual business plans, according to McGuire.

Rail lines running from Willits in Mendocino County to Humboldt Bay have not carried freight rail since at least 1998, when rain-driven landslides buried tunnels and destroyed portions of tracks, including along ecologically sensitive stretches of the Eel River. Further south, freight operations resumed between Napa and Windsor in 2011 only after a state agency spent $68 million to repair 62 miles of track.

McGuire called the rail board’s decision this week a “worst-case scenario” for Great Redwood Trail backers that opens the possibility of shadowy fossil fuel interests derailing the project.

 “We can’t take anything for granted,” he said in a Wednesday phone interview with The Press Democrat, because, “the stakes are too damn high.”

The Surface Transportation Board leans heavily toward preserving freight rail corridors, even as thousands of miles of rail lines have been converted to recreational trails around the country. Four of the five members of the board were appointed by the coal-friendly Trump administration.

Little is known about the company behind the coal-shipping proposal, other than it has been pushed in the Eureka area by a consultant named Justin Wight.

Wyoming is known for loose requirements on business filings and is often used to register corporations with hidden ownership. Documents obtained by the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah indicated there was at least initial interest by Utah state officials and leaders of the Crow Tribe, whose Montana reservation is home to large deposits of Powder River Basin coal. In those records, a Utah official stated that Wight was pursuing a $1 billion loan from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

But after news of the coal proposal broke, organizations and some officials that had appeared to offer at least initial support distanced themselves, including the Utah Port Authority.

Reps. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, and Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, who represent the North Coast and North Bay in Congress, are working to block any federal financing for such a project, McGuire said. In Sacramento, McGuire, the Senate majority leader, is advancing a bill to block any state funding toward restoring rail for shipping coal.

“There’s simply no chance that any freight operation is going to be able to make the investments that are needed (to restore) this line,” McGuire said. “I am confident the Great Redwood Trail Agency and the state can show how impossible it is to run a freight train up the North Coast.”

City councils and county boards of supervisors from Marin to Humboldt counties have passed resolutions expressing opposition to any coal shipping proposal and support for the recreation trail.

Beyond the immense costs and environmental risks of restoring the North Coast rail lines, the specter of coal trains is politically unpopular in a region that leans heavily Democratic and has for years rejected efforts to establish coal export facilities.

The coal train would have to make use of the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit tracks through Marin and Sonoma counties. SMART’s board of directors have stated their opposition to the project and scoffed at the prospect of coal trains, often more than a mile long, passing through cities along SMART’s line.

(Press Democrat)

* * *

Railroad Tie Operation, Melburne/Comptche

* * *

SAKO’S HIGH HORSE

To the Editor:

With regard to MSCO SWAT commander Lieutenant J.D. Comer’s son, Bailey Comer, being booked on May 15 on child pornography charges, several things bother me.

First, why did it take 2.5 years to charge Bailey Comer?

On September 25, 2019, the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC), a national team of cybercrime investigators, determined that a folder on the cloud-sharing service DropBox contained child pornography and was being accessed via an internet connection somewhere in Mendocino County. On October 31, 2019, MCSO began its investigation. On November 4, 2019, MCSO learned from information gained with the search warrant that the IP address was associated with a home in Fort Bragg owned by MCSO Lieutenant JD Comer.

So, I ask again, why did it take 2.5 years to bust Bailey Comer?

Second, why wasn’t Bailey Comer arrested on child pornography charges?

Possession of Matter Depicting Minor Engaged in Sexual Conduct (Pen. Code, § 311.11(a)). This crime is a serious offense. Anyone convicted of such will also be a lifetime member of California’s sex offender registry.

Prior to 2006, the possession of child pornography was a misdemeanor offense. However, after the passage of The Sexual Predator Punishment and Control Act (Proposition 83 in California), the crime was reclassified. Now, it is a "wobbler" and can be prosecuted as either a felony or a misdemeanor. If you are found guilty, you can receive up to 8 years in prison or $100,000 fine.

So, I ask again, why wasn’t Bailey Comer arrested? Why was he simply allowed to be booked and released?

Third, why was Bailey Comer released on his own recognizance? No bail.

Nothing. Possession of Matter Depicting Minor Engaged in Sexual Conduct (Pen. Code, § 311.11(a)) is a serious crime.

So, I ask again, why was Bailey Comer released on his own recognizance?

Fourth, because prosecution by the Mendocino County District Attorney is a conflict of interest, given SWAT Commander’s J.D. Comer’s position, who will prosecute this case? What district attorney in what county?

Also, because a violation of Pen. Code, § 311.11(a) is a “wobbler” will the district attorney give Bailey Comer a free pass and prosecute this case as a misdemeanor? Or will the case be more appropriately prosecuted as a felony?

The breadth demonstrated within these penal codes and the harshness of the penalties highlight the severity with which the people of California view these crimes. This is with good reason. The history of child abuse, exploitation, molestation, and rape is vast and dark. Often, as a society we like to assure ourselves that these are crimes that we are outgrowing as we advance as a society. However, the evidence is all around us that this is not the case. As technology quickens its advance at an ever-rapid pace, laws protecting the most vulnerable among us need to be able to keep pace as well. This explains the good intentions behind the painting of these criminal definitions with such a broad brush. It also allows for the heavy-monitoring and quick-responses of law enforcement to child pornography violations.

So, I ask again, who will prosecute Bailey Comer and will the case be prosecuted as a felony?

I ask the above questions because the U.S. Constitution demands equal treatment under the law. A SWAT commander’s son cannot receive favorable treatment.

Today, in America, in 2022, we need to assert not only that “Black Lives

Matter,” but that “All Civilian Lives Matter”. We need to shout it from the courthouse steps.

We need to police the police. We need to be ever vigilant against the abuses of authority, and I say this as someone who has served in the MCSO.

My badge number was 2526 and only the highest standards of professional conduct should be expected from law enforcement.

We need to protect children. Always. Everywhere. We need to be ever vigilant against child sex abuse, and I say this as a survivor of childhood sex abuse. There is an epidemic of child sex abuse in our schools, churches, youth programs, and youth sports, and also in the foster care system and the juvenile justice system.

The rule of law is the only thing that separates a civilized people from barbarians. And the thing most worth protecting are our children.

John Sakowicz Ukiah


ED REPLY: Jeezus H, Sako. The investigation took time because it was immediately farmed out to Sacramento law enforcement by Mendo to avoid even the hint of conflict of interest. Sacto has a limited staff cyber-unit capable of complicated techno-investigations. Which take time. There was and is no cover-up. I understand of course that you and the rest of the local cop-bashers are eager to lynch the boy's father, but how about at least trying to be fair until all the facts are revealed in court? All anybody knows at this time is that foul images were on the computer, and could have been placed there all kinds of ways. No offense, old boy, but you should fully explain your own tour with the Sheriff's Department and your consequent ax grinding. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you didn't last long at the Jail, then sued the County for, of all things, sexual harassment, claiming that you were gay and suffered homophobia from colleagues and inmates alike. I believe the County Counsel's dependably profligate office paid you the usual five grand to go away, and you went away. Call me cynical, but I believe the sexual harassment claim was pure bullshit, but the jive-o County Counsel's office has always preferred to dole out tax money rather than fight. (Except Losak. He'd occasionally dispute the transparently false claims.) You make a big target, buddy, every time you climb up on your high horse.


SAKO RESPONDS:

Two and a half years is excessive, Bruce. And you know it. It's absurdly excessive. And it's more than enough time to destroy evidence and otherwise obstruct justice.

About my own four years with the MCSO, you are wildly speculating. It's sounds insane. I don't know who your “sources” are, but it's nobody in county government. There was no lawsuit. No threat of a lawsuit. No settlement. If there had been, my settlement would have been put on the consent calendar.

And if I had been subjected to sexual identity discrimination I would have complained directly to the DOJ's Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section. Because the MCSO receives federal funding, any complaint would have been aggressively pursued.

I left the MCSO to return to the financial services industry, where I had worked before moving to Mendocino County. Leaving the MCSO, I started work at UBS.

Later, I got interested in cannabis.

Be nice, Bruce. And be factual. Subterfuge and innuendo are no substitute for truth. The rumors you hear are from the likes of Kathy Wylie, et al, who have their own ax to grind against me and others who dare to be confrontational in a county infamous for being secretive and passive aggressive.

Best,

John Sakowicz

* * *

* * *

THE LAWYERS WHO ATE CALIFORNIA: EPILOGUE by Matt Taibbi

Washington [D.C.] is not a place to live in. The rents are high, the food is bad, the dust is disgusting, and the morals are deplorable. Go West, young man, go West and grow up with the country. — New-York Daily Tribune, July 13, 1865

Horace Greeley’s famous injunction held up for a long time. Across parts of three centuries, people flocked to California by wagon, boat, train, car, even on foot, buzzing with dreams of living in a paradise of plenty, free of the “disgusting” dust and “high” rents of the industrial east.

Through the heydays of Hollywood, the Bay Area shipyards, and Silicon Valley, California symbolized freedom, innovation, and the second chance.

Here the gangster on the run, the actress with a past, and the crackpot preacher, refugee family, and oft-fired inventor were all able to remake themselves, in this unique place where fame and respectability were somehow the same thing. If you could make it here, you could call yourself whatever you wanted. The Great Gatsby could never have been set in California, a state that agreed with Fitzgerald’s doomed hero, whose belief that “of course you can” repeat the past made him a tragic figure back East.

Thanks to its status at the forefront of everything in our culture, California began decades ago to develop problems other states hadn’t yet. Its entrepreneurial tradition began to cross-pollinate with its hyper-progressive politics, and along with building highways and skyscrapers it began to specialize in growing simple well-meaning laws into vast, ungovernable bureaucracies. As of last year the state boasted an astonishing 396,000 regulations, 100,000 more than its closest competitor, New York.

That number is one bigger thanks to Josiah Zayner, the controversial CEO of a small biotech firm called The Odin. Zayner was amazed to watch the state legislature take the time three years ago to pass a law prohibiting the sale of do-it-yourself genetic engineering kits, a rule that could only possibly apply to his firm.

“They specifically targeted my company,” says Zayner, who joined Oracle, Apple, and Tesla in moving to Austin, Texas. “I was also investigated by the California Medical Board, the California Department of Consumer Affairs, and audited by the California Employment Division. We’re glad to be out of there.”

Multiple other business figures cited CEQA, the California Environmental Quality Act, which accomplished good things at its inception in 1970 but has since seen exponential-to-cancerous growth, making home construction massively more expensive and pushing companies to relocate workforces to locales with more available housing. Intended to modernize residential building, CEQA to some has instead become a backdoor subsidy to owners of the state’s stagnant pool of mid-century homes, mandating so many lengthy reviews and conditions that petitioners can NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) neighborhood projects to death and kill even environmentally friendly projects like bike paths and public transport. Even progressives have begun to feel empowered to openly hate on this statute. Democratic State Senator Scott Weiner called it the “the law that swallowed California.”

A common complaint is things in the state take forever. California announced a high-speed train in 1996 and the current plan is for service on the L.A-San Francisco line to begin in 2033. One executive I spoke with described the state’s development as “frozen in aspic.”

Stripe CEO Patrick Collison gave an interview to Noah Smith on Substack that compared the push-pull tension between the state’s penchant for innovation and its cumbersome if well-meaning morass of regulations as mimicking the dizzying dynamic of the Christopher Nolan movie Tenet:

California shifted mid century from being the US's fastest-growing state — 50% population growth between 1950 and 1960 — to a state that is somehow, improbably, shrinking— mostly because of the regulations the state’s inhabitants put in place that block the housing that's required to support California’s economic success. As a result, California has lost the “technology” of being able to affordably house its inhabitants. In these ways and many others, technology is both advancing rapidly and yet often receding in the state. (Tenet is a movie about time moving backwards and forwards simultaneously— as a result of its policies, California is the Tenet of states.)

The recent litigations involving companies like Riot Games, Activision, and Tesla similarly became so weighed down by accusations and counter-accusations, disputes and cross-disputes, involving so many different parties, that over time it’s become difficult to follow who’s fighting whom, and why, and in which direction cases are moving. It’s a wonder there isn’t a higher suicide rate among the state’s civil judges. Parts of the public record read like Wrestlemania for lawyers...

taibbi.substack.com/p/the-lawyers-who-ate-california-epilogue

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(1955)

* * *

"THE TYPHOID MARY OF DISINFORMATION": Nicolle Wallace. Nobody Spreads it More Relentlessly.

From her days as Bush/Cheney propagandist, to her stint on The View, to her role as beloved-by-Democrats MSNBC host, Wallace has perfected the art of sociopathic lying. 

by Glenn Greenwald

The most blatant and shameless liars from the first term of the Bush/Cheney administration have, revealingly, enjoyed great success in media and journalism. That is because serial deceit is not a liability for a thriving career in corporate journalism but rather a vital asset — provided that the lies are in service of ruling class policies. Tawdry propagandists who helped drive post-9/11 America into a bottomless pit of lies and self-destruction have become the most highly-paid and beloved stars of liberal media. They include: 

  • Former Bush White House speechwriter David Frum of The Atlantic and CNN;
  • Bush/Cheney CIA and NSA Director Gen. Michael Hayden of CNN;
  • Ubiquitous amoral neocon warmonger Bill Kristol of MSNBC and various #NeverTrump groups;
  • Al-Qaeda/Saddam conspiracy theorist Jeffrey Goldberg, now editor-in-chief of The Atlantic;
  • The various scumbags, con artists, predator-protectors and fraudsters of the Lincoln Project, drowning in #Resistance cash and frequent MSNBC appearances;
  • Pro-war Florida GOP Congressman Joe Scarborough, now a multi-million host of MSNBC's flagship morning show and anchor of its corporate brand; and,
  • Rep. Liz Cheney, long-time vocal supporter of her father and now a literal "hero” to American media liberals.

But few Bush-era propagandists have thrived more, made more money, and developed a more devoted and swooning liberal fan base than the official Communications Director of the Bush/Cheney White House and 2004 Bush/Cheney-reelection campaign, Nicolle Wallace. Having catapulted from her work as Jeb Bush's Press Secretary to the White House to senior adviser to John McCain's presidential campaign (working for her close friend, Lincoln Project co-founder Steve Schmidt, who recently performed one of the most public and sustained nervous breakdowns in the history of the internet), Wallace was always beloved by the DC press corps. 

In 2005, when she was named Bush White House Communications Director, The New York Times lavished her with praise, claiming that she “comes from a different mold than the small band of Texans who carry out the White House press policy” and admiringly noted that “she was once fired for being too nice to reporters.” She endeared herself further to corporate journalists by repeatedly sabotaging the McCain campaign from which she was collecting a paycheck, leaking negative stories about McCain and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (whose selection as Vice Presidential candidate was driven primarily by liberal icons Bill Kristol and Steve Schmidt). 

As Wallace — seeing the media's love affair with Obama — began shrewdly repositioning herself as a liberal, she claimed in 2010 that she did not even vote for McCain due to her misgivings about Palin (a claim which Schmidt repeated about himself for the first time last week during his multi-day psychological erosion). When Wallace published a self-glorifying novel about the first female chief of staff (modeled after herself) to the first female president in 2011, liberal corporate journalists including MSNBC's Rachel Maddow gushed over it, while The New York Times’ reporter Ashley Parker, now of The Washington Post, heralded her as “the tough, savvy and hard-charging conservative political operator” who enjoys a close friendship with CNN's Dana Bash. 

So beloved was Wallace by the corporate press that she was rewarded in 2014 with a highly lucrative contract to be a co-host on ABC's The View. She then joined NBC News. Quickly adapting to her new role as a Republican who vehemently despised Donald Trump — easily the most lucrative Trump-era archetype —- MSNBC bestowed her with her own afternoon cable show in 2017. She quickly became one of Democratic viewers' most popular hosts — constantly giving a platform to Schmidt and other Lincoln Project sleaze merchants as part of the #NeverTrump gang, a faction so beloved by corporate media employees that they filled cable green rooms and newspaper op-ed pages while having little to no representation among the actual voting populace. Liberals love Wallace so much that she was given a second hour to host in 2020.

But lurking beneath her perky smile, multi-million-dollar media contracts, gushing liberal fan base and a long list of media admirers is something extremely dark and pernicious. In a swamp of professional liars and sleaze merchants, Nicolle Wallace has distinguished herself easily as one of the most seamless and casual liars in the world of Washington politics and media. She thrived in the Bush/Cheney administration precisely because she was so adept at selling the White House's deadly lies to liberal corporate media employees, dressing up those lies in a pleasing-to-liberals packaging that she learned from growing up in an extremely affluent Orange County, California neighborhood and then at Berkeley and Northwestern's School of Journalism. She was the vintage conservative who liberals could love — a smiling sophisticate, someone willing to betray her GOP employers to impress liberal journalists, an amicable young woman touting degrees from the types of schools that impress coastal media elites — and it was virtually inevitable that she would thrive within media corporations that need women who can credibly claim to be conservatives yet appeal to liberal sensibilities and flatter liberal audiences.

Wallace has employed those personality traits in service of the most toxic and insidious of all tasks: a happy, relentless purveyor of official disinformation. When the CIA wants the American public contaminated with its lies and disinformation, Nicolle Wallace's lips begin moving. She delivers the anonymous disinformation campaigns of the U.S. security state with a tone of empathy, compassion, and liberal elegance, all in the language and with the affectations which affluent liberals most admire. 

She has an unsurpassed ability to broadcast to audiences outright lies whispered to her by Deep State operatives — one after the next — without flinching or betraying the slightest sense of a conscience or moral compass. She lies like only a sociopath can: exuding charm and warmth yet utterly vacant on the inside, except for a soul festering in rot. Over the last twenty years — from her perches at the White House, on The View, and now at MSNBC — nobody has made liberals eat up Pentagon and neocon war propaganda more eagerly and uncritically than Nicolle Wallace.

There is literally not a single liberal/CIA disinformation campaign over the last six years that she did not fully and uncritically embrace. Each time the U.S. Security State and Democratic Party fabricated blatant lies and embarked on injecting their poisonous brew into the American bloodstream, Nicolle Wallace was at the forefront. Using the skills she harnessed to help lead Americans into one of its most destructive and immoral wars in U.S. history — the invasion and 15-year destruction of Iraq — the former Bush/Cheney shill, now a DNC and CIA shill, has played a starring role in virtually every lie American liberals have been led to believe.

Because Wallace is primarily a video performer — she rarely writes or speaks extemporaneously, instead clinging loyally to talking points and teleprompter scripts — video is the only medium that can really convey the full extent of her brazen contempt for the truth. After we began compiling many of the examples of Wallace's leading role in spreading official disinformation, we asked Matt Orfalea — who came to prominence as a young videographer for the 2016 Sanders campaign and who has since become a much more heterodox voice on his Rumble page, which he began after repeatedly being censored by YouTube — to produce a video with the goal of viscerally conveying who Nicolle Wallace really is and the dark arts on which she relies for her careerist and ideological project.

Orfalea is an artist: a highly creative and unorthodox videographer. The videos he produced for journalist Matt Taibbi regarding the media's disinformation orgy about the Kyle Rittenhouse trial and its even more deceitful effort to lie to the public about the materials on Hunter Biden's laptop are two of the best political videos I have seen in years. The video he produced for us on Nicolle Wallace — the Typhoid Mary of Disinformation — is, in my view, at least of the same quality. The tone and tenor of this video are obviously quite different from those we typically employ to do our reporting here, but the video so perfectly conveys who Wallace is, and how she spews and disseminates disinformation, that I am very proud to present it and eager for you to watch it.

The free trailer, available to all, is below. The full mini-documentary, for subscribers only, follows after that. Above all else, it demonstrates the key point about this new discourse about “disinformation.” Those who most flamboyantly warn of the dangers of disinformation and seek to censor the internet in the name of fighting it are, (through such tactics as the defunct-for-now Homeland Security Disinformation Board) in fact, the most aggressive and destructive purveyors of disinformation in the world.

greenwald.substack.com/p/the-typhoid-mary-of-disinformation

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1924 Silent Film

9 Comments

  1. Kirk Vodopals May 20, 2022

    King Snakes! We got ’em in Navarro. They appear almost every year on warm summer nights down the road from my house. Beautiful creatures. Hope to see one again soon. And maybe a rubber boa, too!

    • George Hollister May 20, 2022

      Here in Comptche, CKS are uncommon. I have seen many dead in the road going through Sonoma and Napa counties. It is interesting that they are in RN.

  2. chuck dunbar May 20, 2022

    TOM ALLMAN ON MEASURE B

    Tom Allman has a way with words– he writes a clear and straight-forward history of the inaction on Measure B. He is right in asserting that after 4 years of lots of talk but sparse results, “action is what we need.” The people voted, the money is there, the BOS and the County need to get it done.

    • Mark Scaramella May 20, 2022

      I believe that was written a year ago. If former Sheriff Allman really wanted to engage on this subject, presumably a personal priority, he’d denounce the grossly overpriced Whitmore Lane PHF project and remind his followers that the project shouldn’t cost more than $10 million (the Kemper report said less than $6 mil plus inflation, plus demolition for much less than $2 mil) so that some money is left over for the street people that Measure B was intended for. He could also point out that there should be plenty of Measure B money for staff and vehicles for three crisis vans without the need for precarious grants that could be used to cover another shift or two if they come in. But in Mendo wasting $10 million and walking away is considered an accomplishment.

    • Jimmy May 20, 2022

      Thank you for pointing that out. This story is fishy but then again so it a lot of things that MCSO does.

  3. Eric Sunswheat May 20, 2022

    With Sonoma Marin SMART train’s recent upturn in its financial picture, and further implementation of trails along its tracks, abet with side distraction of neighboring landowner suites to prevent portions of trail use, SMART is looking to expand operations north towards its Cloverdale sphere of influence.

    Now there is hope that rail service will be expanded with a coal train to Eureka, to provide China with the energy to mass produce electric cars and solar panels, for a net benefit to the planet.

    While sometimes labeled ‘toxic coal’, the covering mile long coal train compartment with tight fitting tarps is a plan. Railroad ties can be upgraded to benign copper based preservatives, and the creosote ties removed, a net benefit of restoration, along with environmental recovery of the Eel River basin.

    Opening of the Island Mountain gravel quarry may provide a valuable source of rock to refurbish the train tracks corridor, harden the SF Bay AREA from sea level rise, and provide for improvements to the Great Redwood Trail.

    The trail can provide an important keystone, for a program of mental health natural healing recovery, with a clinically accepted program of guided psilocybin therapeutic counseling, not the now known toxic mental poison treatment prescribed by clinicians.

    This strategy could be possibly utilizing Mendocino County’s Measure B mental health funded training center in Redwood Valley, as a welcome center for recovery hiking shelter network from the Ukiah Valley to Eureka, for a physical component to mental health recovery.

    The local and California politicians may be crying fowl over the coal train and the adjacent renewing of railroad service to Fort Bragg, so that prescribed industrial use authorization of the coastline may resume.

    All the while fentanyl ransacks the disenfranchised, because special interests are not fueling the politician electoral coffers, to be smart about it.

    Political windbags may soon learn that rail service is still king in America, on the way to China, to the benefit of Mendocino County and beyond.

  4. chuck dunbar May 21, 2022

    Roger Angell, dead at 101. I’d read anything he wrote about, baseball and otherwise. Even after I’d stopped keeping up with baseball, I’d read his pieces in The New Yorker, even not knowing the players he wrote about. He’d bring it all alive, in his vivid, sharp, incisive writing. In his later years he wrote a touching, poignant piece on aging that I shared with friends. Look it up if you haven’t read it, it’s just marvelous: “This Old Man: Life in the Nineties,” The New Yorker, Feb. 17&24, 2014.

    Roger Angell was a gift to America.

    • chuck dunbar May 21, 2022

      A quote from the New York Times:
      ‘Mr. Angell makes baseball sound like an art form. He demonstrates that writing about it is an art form, too.”

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