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Mendocino County Today: December 21, 2012

SHERIFF TOM ALLMAN said Wednesday that the “internal investigation” he launched in the wake of a multifaceted federal pot raid on property owned by the family of his Under-Sheriff, Randy Johnson, is now complete. Allman said he was reviewing the report and wouldn't be prepared to discuss it until Friday. The Sheriff said preliminarily that it didn't contain any “surprises.”

SKEPTICS point out that Mendocino County has before gone to the friendlies next door when the Mendo Sheriff's Department has felt compelled to appear in need of an objective assessment of in-house functioning. The Department's friends at Sonoma County have invariably reported back that everything in Mendo is as it should be.

ALLMAN has said he went to Sonoma County in the Johnson matter because the feds were “stonewalling” him, not telling Allman what the federal investigation of aspects of Department matters had found. That federal investigation is apparently ongoing and has expanded beyond Johnson with a subpoena demanding all Mendocino County records related to Mendocino County's now abandoned pot licensing program.

THE RAID on the Johnson property, a 16-acre former summer resort converted to rentals off Highway 20 near Potter Valley, was carried out by the DEA, the IRS and the FBI. Under-Sheriff Johnson lives on a non-pot-producing parcel next door. He was also the sign-off guy for the County's zip-ties and collective grows, whereby pot producers bought permissions to grow.

DEPUTY DUENAS, the Sonoma County cop who conducted the Johnson investigation at Allman’s request, was the cop who worked with Detective Roy Gourley (a former Mendocino County deputy) on the “independent investigation” of the murder of Deputy Bob Davis during the high-profile Bear Lincoln Trial back in 1997. During the weeks-long trial (two years after the original incident), Lincoln’s attorney Tony Serra brought out Duenas’s role in altering Deputy Dennis Miller’s testimony (Deputy Miller was the surviving deputy in the incident which ended with the deaths of Lincoln’s friend Leonard Peters and Deputy Bob Davis on the edge of Round Valley on a cloudy night on April 14). Another interesting connection is that Sheriff Allman was the Willits-based Sergeant in charge of Davis and Miller when Davis was shot and killed. Once the fact that Miller had changed his testimony to fit the post-incident evidence came out, the jury found him to be less than credible and Lincoln was ultimately acquitted, largely because the jury didn’t believe Miller’s version of events. According to the Lincoln trial transcript, Tony Serra summed up the April 18, 1995 conversation (and resultant testimony) between Duenas and Miller this way:

 

Second, what I'll call is a big lie, I'm just trying to say, you know, he [the prosecutor] wants to make it credibility. On the 18th is when we have the first version of the second story about Peters. And recall he's [Miller’s] rehabilitating. He's at his ex-wife's house, he's on, I don't know, disability or something, he's not working. And out of the blue he says or he agrees Duenas calls him. He didn't expect a call, he hadn't been told by anybody that Duenas was calling. First thing he says practically, Duenas says, now ‘I remember now there was two (calls). Rather odd way to start a conversation.’ (Serra reads from the trial transcript.)

’How long was the conversation?’

’Well it's all been recording.’

’Yes, I’ve seen the recording. About five minutes?’

‘Yeah, it's about five minutes.’

And Miller is asked ‘Are you sure that you didn't have any pre-knowledge that someone was going to call you? Didn't he call before?’

And he says, ‘No, no, no.’

So way at the end just last week or the week before we found out that that call was his call to Duenas, not the other way around. He [Miller] called Duenas. That's what Duenas testified. That's what the record showed. And that Duenas said that Gourley had called him and talked with him. He wasn't privy to what Gourley told him. And then Miller called Duenas. But worse than that, the call was 15 minutes, , almost 15 minutes. We only had five minutes recorded. And we asked Duenas, ‘Well, what five minutes did you record?’

‘I recorded the middle five.’ … ‘I talked to him for five, recorded five, talked to him for five more.’ This is after Gourley had talked with him.

Use your sophistication, use your logic, use your common sense. Gourley gets him, hey man, the story you told us doesn't work, ballistics come back, he didn't fire his gun. Your story says he fired twice. You're in, you know, deep, whatever.

Oh, says Miller, I'm making this up. ‘Perhaps I saw two persons, it was probably the second one that fired.’

Then comes the lie when he calls Duenas. And they must have warmed up for five minutes, then they record, and then they — who knows what they did the last five minutes?

Second lie. That's a big one. That's fabricating. That is like conspiracy to fabricate. That is like, you know, premeditated fabrication. That isn't wholesome and that's not right. Miller changed his story, did it on purpose, wasn't a spontaneous call by Duenas; it wasn't out of the blue. That's a big lie.

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UKIAH SATIVA MORRISON and Callie Ashe are in court again, this time to get a TRO (temporary restraining order) against a woman who gave them a place to stay. When we last met Mendocino County's First Couple of Pot, they'd sued their Redwood Valley landlord because, get this, they said they didn't have to pay rent because they were growing medical marijuana. Don't get the reasoning here? The Sativas, you see, were doing so much good for the suffering of others by providing the halt and the lame with medicinal marijuana any mere property owner who interfered with their humanitarian mission was evil, doubly evil — once for demanding rent, twice for obstructing the alleviation of human pain. The jury was out about twenty minutes on that one, and Sativa and Mrs. Cannabis were found guilty and told to pay up. Sativa, an insufferably arrogant character who's about half as smart as he thinks he is, defended himself. Of course.

PRIOR to his break-through legal argument that pot growers like him don't have to pay rent, Sativa put the County's NORML office out of business. In that one, as a person close to the event described it, “Sativa Morrison and Callie took major advantage of the kind and unassuming Dane Wilkins. Sativa was sending e-mails and replies out under Dane's name without Dane's knowledge and doing lots of other unacceptable stuff. When Dane told them they'd have to leave, they left, taking with them the entire database.”

THE POOR WOMAN presently on the receiving end of Sativa's wrath, made the mistake of offering the Sativas a winter's place to stay. In return for the helping hand, the Sativas soon not only took major advantage of their host, they tried to get her daughter to smoke weed and otherwise behaved in a criminal and even menacing fashion. The Sheriff's Department was called and the two deadbeats ushered off the property. They are now busy vilifying their former host with a deluge of see-through lies that would only seem reasonable to another lowlife stoner, of which there are lots wandering around Mendocino County, but Morrison has taken deadbeat-ism to a whole new local level.

ANYBODY can get a TRO simply by asking for one, a fact an experienced deadbeat like Sativa knows. But not just anyone can get a full-on restraining order. But Sativa has gotten a TRO from Judge Cindee Mayfield against his latest victim, a fact his victim naturally finds distressing. It is distressing for anyone to have to defend oneself against a crackpot deadbeat. But Sativa will now have to appear in court to make the case that he is the victim, and any judge in this County who would grant this guy a restraining order against anybody but himself is crazier than the Sativas. It won't happen because official Mendo is on to Morrison.

PEOPLE who know the Morrisons well suspect that Mrs. Sativa is a kind of domestic captive and fear that she is physically afraid to leave him. I hope word soon spreads throughout the County that this guy is very bad news, and an even worse advertisement for the miracle drug.

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WAL-MART SAYS it has no intention to stop the sale of “sporting rifles,” the gun industry's euphemism for military weapons designed to kill as many people as possible as fast as possible. Meanwhile, companies like Dick's Sporting Goods Inc. have stopped sales of these kind of weapons, including the Bushmaster AR-15 used in the mass killing of kids in Newtown. Not Wal-Mart. And around the country the Bushmaster is a best seller. Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports, prices for magazines on EBay have doubled, and ammo prices are going up fast. It seems Americans are rushing to join well-regulated militias.

BIG WINDS to the north in Humboldt County have knocked out power to many areas, and high winds and rain have commenced up and down the Northcoast. Ten days of bad weather are predicted with a break on Christmas day.

THE CITY OF POINT ARENA distributed a big “Notice of Reorganization” yesterday in the wake of last month’s election: “Notice is Hereby Given that the City Council of the City of Point Arena reorganized at its Regular Meeting held on the 18th day of December 2012, during which time Caitlin Riehl also took office as Point Arena City Treasurer, having been elected on November 6, 2012 along with Councilmembers Burfoot, Koogle and Sanders.

2012/2014 Point Arena City Council:

Mayor Doug Burkey

Vice Mayor Terry Hughey

Councilmember Phil Burfoot

Councilmember Jim Koogle

Councilmember Trevor Sanders

Please visit our website at cityofpointarena.com for additional information.

THE FOLLOWING exchange about Mendocino Redwood Company’s herbicide use took place on Monday, December 10, 2012. Mr. Mike Kalantarian of Navarro was the only person from the public who spoke up during the discussion.

Kalantarian: I would like to ask the foresters here if there is anything in the plan about herbicide use?

Supervisor John McCowen: Please address it to us and then we can get a response.

Kalantarian: Okay. I was wondering if there is anything in the plan about herbicide use?

McCowen: Okay. Thank you. Do you have any other comments you’d like to make before we go back to them?

Kalantarian: Can I get an answer before I continue?

McCowen: Well, that’s generally not how we do it. So this is your opportunity to comment.

Kalantarian: All right. I’m just really disgusted by the amount of herbicide that this company as been pouring into our environment over their about 13 years of existence. I understand their reasoning for it, basically the hardwoods have taken over the forest from the heavy logging that occurred before them. I would just like to see them use other means to manage their tanoak and madrone primarily, which is what they’re going after. Something besides herbicide use. I think there are many other options. I understand from them that they feel like economically this is their best route. But I think there are some other considerations that are more important than economics sometimes and this would be a case. I applaud their efforts as far as habitat restoration, looking out for the species and so forth. But I think they could go a long way by stopping the herbicide use. I think it would help a lot of plants and animals by stopping that. There are other considerations. I am very concerned about the standing deadwood that is left after — the sense that I get that at the rate of something like 5,000 acres a year are standing deadwood; they are adding to that every year and it takes years for the standing deadwood to die off so there is quite a fire danger out there. It seems like they are really increasing the fire danger by having all this standing deadwood out there in the forest. An interesting fact that I came across in researching this was the Lightning Complex fires that happened in 2008, almost half of the acreage that burned in Mendocino County was on MRC land. Almost half of the fires that burned, the acreage. They own 10% of the acreage in Mendocino County so to me that seems like they were extremely unlucky or are all of this lightning striking was hitting these areas of dead trees and really taking off. Fires were starting and running through all these dead trees.

McCowen: We would appreciate a response to the comments we have just heard.

MRC Forest Operations Manager John Ramaley: Thank you for the comments. We appreciate your input. We have been involved in discussions with —

McCowen: And again please address yourself to the board.

Ramaley: Sorry. We have had discussions with community members over our herbicide program now for 14 years. As far as the long-term plan that we presented to you, the herbicide use is not called a covered activity. It’s not a covered activity under the Habitat Conservation Plan. That means that we are not allowed to incidentally take a species using herbicides. They are analyzed in the PTEIR [Program Timberland Environmental Impact Report] and the EIS [Environmental Impact Report], however they are not part of the HCP. He had a number of questions actually. As far as the Forest Stewardship Council, we can use herbicides, only select herbicides that the FSC allows us to use for restoration purposes only. Once a forest has gone through that treatment there is no allowance to continue to use these. It’s like you might use in an even-age management regime. When the fires in 2008 hit, I managed the timberlands in Navarro, none of the fires I think — the Flynn Fire was not in an area that was treated. The Low Gap and McCarthy fire was not. There was a small fire in Daugherty Creek where half of that had been treated. So if you look at where our property was, then you look at how Campbell timberland also fared during the Lighting Complex, we just got hammered and it hit our South Coast area and went through our Navarro and hit our Rockport stands and it largely left our Big River and Noyo tracks alone. A lot of that was just unlucky circumstances. On the ground, I was involved with four or five fires in my area and only one was with an herbicide treatment. And there was really no difference from our perspective in how the fire reacted. We do know that there is standing dead timber. And there have been studies. UC Berkeley has done studies using our hack and squirt treatment as a surrogate to determine what happens with sudden oak death and how fire history may respond through areas that have large scale sudden oak death. We take strides to notify our neighbors. I realize that from Mr. Kalantarian’s perspective — he was not near our property so we didn’t even know actually that anybody could see that particular property, so it was a shock to them that all of a sudden everything turned brown. That actually looks into the heart of our property along the Masonite Road. But if we are within 300 feet of a neighbor or if we are upstream of a neighbor we do notify them, 1000 feet upstream or within 300 feet of the property boundaries we do notify them that we are going to use herbicides. We have consistently modified how we apply herbicides near adjacent landowners. And we also consistently monitor our water for any herbicide residue. We have not had any detectable amounts since 2004 in any of the tests that we do.

McCowen: Could you repeat that please? You have not had —

Ramaley: We have not had any detectable amounts and we test to the parts per billion. We use a protocol that was developed by the State Water Resources Control Board. It was actually developed intentionally to try to maximize the amounts of detections we could get. That was to go to the first ephemeral stream after a rain that would create any sort of overland flow. We sent out probably five or six people to randomly selected areas just below treated units. We have not had any detectable amounts since 2004 and we test both our hack and squirt areas, our fuel treatments, and our foliar treatment areas. And the amounts that were detected previous to that were far within the safe drinking water standards. However we didn’t want that, we wanted nothing. And we have achieved that in the last eight years.

Hamburg: Thank you, John.

McCowen: To the fire danger issue. It would seem like in general immediately when you look at a hillside and half the trees are now dead, just without having a scientific basis, intuitively it would seem that that would increase deadwood which would increase fire danger at least in the short run. Your response for that?

Ramaley: It probably does. And that’s why we take measures within — we take measures with our adjacent landowners and we have a very active crew. There was a fire in Comptche this year and we opened up all the roads for CalFire and we supplied them with all the water. The fire actually just got to our property and stopped. We have our contractors. Everybody is on-call. We are kind of lucky in that we don’t live in an area that typically gets lightning. The lightning storm in 2008, and we had won in 2003 — those are the only two big storms I can remember on our coast area since I’ve been here in 1993. But yes, but the more dead would you have — that is something that we are trying to work towards, trying to understand a little more because we do realize that we break up our harvest blocks and we have a lot of stream zones. However, it is still a work in progress.

McCowen: I think tanoak, however, decomposes fairly rapidly and it becomes something that helps build the soil?

Ramaley: Yes. A lot of our soil conditions from the— In the early 1900s they used to cut the trees down and they used to burn it to get the brush out and to get a lot of the bark loosened up and then they would log it. A lot of the organic horizon in our forest areas have been denuded. And that is where soil is created. So leaving standing dead material actually feeds the soil. Tanoak is a hardwood, it makes great flooring if you can treat it and set it on the ground. However it decomposes very fast, it turns into a sponge very quickly.

McCowen: Thank you very much for responding to those questions. So that will conclude our presentation on that. We thank chief forester Jani and forest operations manager Ramaley.

IGNORING THE uncalled for first-name chumminess between the Supervisors and the Company representatives, it’s clear that the Board’s “way of doing things” by requiring that the public address questions and comments to the Board and then stand back without further opportunity to follow-up has some major drawbacks. The key part of Kalantarian’s comment was “I think there are many other options” to herbicide use. At no time did MRC address that question. Instead the Supervisors who chose to speak to the herbicide issue seemed more interesting in helping MRC justify what they were doing than exploring non-poison methods of hardwood removal. Why can’t they bring in firewood crews with permits and let people cut down the hardwoods and take some of it away? This would provide jobs, firewood and still leave most of the unpoisoned downed hardwood on the forest floor to rebuild the soil without poisons and without having to worry about water quality or water quality testing.

THE DISCUSSION (or lack thereof) also highlighted how little the area’s “environmentalists” seem to pay attention to the area’s forestry and Timber Company practices these days — a huge change since the days of Earth First! and Timber Wars and shouting matches and disputatious weekly meetings of various opposing groups. No one talked about the adequacy of MRC’s riparian zones. No one questioned whether MRC’s “random” poison monitoring is adequate. No one complained about them not providing technical information to the public beyond this one unwieldy Plan which doesn’t even address herbicide use. No one demanded that they do more to leave old-growth in place (one of Supervisor Hamburg’s pet subjects from the 90s). Nowadays, it seems, very few people seem to care what the local timber companies are doing. MRC does seem to be an improvement over the company they bought out: Louisiana-Pacific. But that should not mean they get a pass on an 80-year long (!) timber management plan.

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FAR OUT & NEARBY Attracting New Doctors (Ukiah Valley Medical Center Press Release)

Dr. Hutchins
Dr. Hutchins

UKIAH, CA — Known for being both far out and nearby, Ukiah is attracting the attention of those looking for solace and alternative lifestyle. Precisely the reason Jessica Rene Hutchins, M.D., obstetrician and gynecologist, is choosing to move from Georgia and take root in Northern California. “I set out to find the idyllic town that welcomed a healthy way of living” declared Dr. Hutchins. Two of Dr. Hutchins children have a gluten allergy. “Our family tries to eat gluten free and organic and live as much as possible in a non-toxic environment, which wasn’t always easy with rich southern food readily available. In fact during our first visit to Ukiah while staying at the Stanford House Inn, the owners had prepared an all gluten free breakfast for my family. I knew this was the place for us!” exclaimed Dr. Hutchins. According to Ukiah Valley Medical Center CEO, Gwen Matthews, Dr. Hutchins nicely rounds out what is becoming a boutique Women’s Health Center which focuses on the complete lifecycle of women’s health. “Dr. Hutchins received her medical degree from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland Ohio. She then completed her residency training in obstetrics and gynecology at the University Hospitals of Cleveland.” In regards to practicing in Ukiah Dr. Hutchins shared, “I enjoy working with expectant mothers and helping to bring new life into our world. I’m also extremely interested in treating women with chronic gynecological diseases such as endometriosis, interstitial cystitis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, dysmenorrhea, infertility, and chronic pelvic pain just to name a few.” In conclusion Dr. Hutchins shared her passion for patient care, “It’s amazing how our bodies can heal themselves if nourished properly—I feel that it’s my job to educate women, and support them through every stage of their lives.” In addition to relocating to Ukiah, Dr. Hutchins will be joined by her husband Michael, and five children; Emily, Joshua, Michael, Victoria, and Gabriel. She will be seeing patients at the Women’s Health Center located at 1050 N. State Street in Ukiah. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Hutchins call 707-462-2945.

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