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Mendocino County Today: January 1, 2013

Sheriff Allman with Bassler Security Photo
Sheriff Allman with Bassler Security Photo

THE AVA's Steve Sparks and Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman have been working together for the last year on a book providing a detailed account of the Aaron Bassler double murders of the fall of 2011 and the aftermath. The result is “Out there in the Woods,” to be published through on January 10 and available at the County's many bookstores after that. Steve and the Sheriff also plan to attend book signings and Question and Answer sessions at a number of local venues, including Boonville's Laughing Dog Books. We will have a full review of the book in next week's paper, along with a schedule of these special events. After costs have been paid, proceeds from book sales, both print and e-book versions, will go to the three non-profit organizations chosen by the families of the three people whose lives were lost in the tragic series of events described in the book.

MENDOCINO COUNTY has seen plenty of bad Supervisors, and we mean “bad” in the conventional sense, the sense that they 1. routinely put their personal welfare ahead of the public's, 2. didn’t take the job seriously enough to prepare themselves on the issues 3. never raised an unpopular issue simply because it was the right thing to do.

APPLYING this elementary criteria we can only think of a few supervisors in modern Mendo memory who would qualify as good public servants: Joe Scaramella, Ernie Banker, Liz Henry, Jim Eddie, Norman de Vall (and he often irritated the hell out of us), John Pinches, and John McCowen (often as irritating as deVall). We think Carre Brown is conscientious but would like to see her become more assertive. The rest of them going all the way back to the 60s have ranged from irrelevant time-servers to people who did real harm to local government.

HOW MANY FORMER SUPERVISORS can YOU name, much less remember? Marilyn Butcher, Nelson Redding, John Cimolino, Tom Lucier, Jim Wattenburger, David Colfax, Richard Shoemaker, Hal Wagenet, Michael Delbar, Charles Peterson, Patti Campbell, and soon Kendall Smith. Where are they now? What did they do to make Mendocino County a better place?

AND WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Of all the former supervisors still alive, only de Vall maintains a presence in local affairs and regularly volunteers in the public interest. Shoemaker at least has got himself elected or appointed to a couple of Ukiah boards. But the rest of them have totally disappeared. Why did they bother to run for Supervisor? If they cared about Mendocino County they’d have stayed engaged after leaving office. But what they did in office is make bad decisions going back to the give away of Mendo’s water to Sonoma County, the fiscally ticking time bomb of the Teeter Plan, numerous overhiring and undeserved pay raises and perks to themselves and other executives, frequently friends and family…

WE HESITATE to even mention Kendall Smith now that we’re finally rid of her as Supervisor. But one reason so much incompetence and mis and malfeasance in office goes down in Mendocino County is because other Supervisors tolerate it. When Smith departed her botched and often criminally conducted duties on December 18, you'd have thought, especially from Dan Hamburg, that Joan of Arc was retiring.

Pinches: “The largest little woman I’ve known in my life. … I know you’re not going to go away, not ride off into the sunset. You’re going to do something to try to benefit the citizens of Mendocino County. … Always trying to make things better and always trying to look out for everybody else.

Hamburg: I’m really going to miss you, Kendall. …Orientation. … Get me up to speed. … Keeping Fort Bragg informed. … So locked into her community. … A compatriot. She knew the people, the places, the issues. … Service on Redwood Forest Foundation Board and obtaining conservation easements. … Effective in getting those easements.

Brown: Always gave time, always listened, a real pleasure…

McCowen: Hard work, dedication, record for most nights in office at 10pm or later. [Doing what?] Kept Fort Bragg informed. … Championed of their issues, in Piercy… [whatever they were, unmentioned].

Smith: Future plans: Clean my house … Start slowly… Stay on RFF Board. … If there’s another job in the future outside of Mendocino County, I’m not sure. … I look forward to not knowing what you’re going to be doing the next day…

IN FACT, Smith was widely disliked among County staff and her fellow supervisors except for the ethically impaired Hamburg. She’d refused to take a pay cut like everyone else, undermining the Board’s position in labor negoations, and she got away with chiseling thousands of dollars in undeserved travel reimbursements for yeaers and, like Colfax, would have gotten clean away with it but for the election of DA Eyster who made it clear she either paid the stolen money back or he'd prosecute. (Colfax was out of office before Eyster was elected or he'd have gotten the either/or option.)

IN THESE SITUATIONS, nobody likes to be rude, but it's a hell of a note when an incompetent and cheap crook like Smith gets a merry send-off as if she'd made a real contribution to local government.

MORE EVIDENCE that the FBI was not only founded by a lunatic it was, and perhaps still is, staffed by people who, shall we say, lack sophistication. Of course if you think Arthur Miller was a communist and Marilyn Monroe a pinko, you probably think of the contemporary FBI as super sleuths. Maybe they are, but in my direct experience, I'd characterize the G-Men (and one very young Asian woman) I've met as very limited in their understanding of great swathes of American experience, and completely at sea when it comes to even the most basic distinctions among left-wingers. Everyone to the left of Obama, and probably Obama himself, is a socialist, and a socialist is the same as a communist, and a small 'c' communist is the same as a member of the Communist Party and an anarchist is an obnoxious street grunge towed by a team of pitbulls and they're all liberals, and liberals are communists. Ditto for the many flavors of Islam, although the feds multitude of so-called security agencies seem to have gotten up to speed on the Mohammedans because the tiny minority of Taliban types have not been able to pull off a repeat on the scale of 911. Like most cops, FBI agents seem to be selected for the job on the basis of their perceived normality, and wouldn't you like to get a full look at any American responsible for defining “normal” these days? But a young person who'd rather stay home and read a book than trundle out to Candlestick for a 49er parking lot meat-eat and ball game is unlikely to pass law enforcement muster at any level of government.

MarilynMonroeI BRING YOU these profound observations because I read a story last week about how the FBI kept Marilyn Monroe under surveillance. Of course the Kennedy Brothers and mafia figures enjoyed her company so I suppose in a peripheral sense Marilyn would have been “a person of interest.” But that's not why the old voyeur had Marilyn in his highly selective sights while he maintained that there was no such thing as organized crime, an insistence some writers think arose out of the mafia in possession of blackmail photos of Hoover prancing around in a cocktail dress. (Even mentioning this stuff you start to sound like a paranoid.) But Hoover, who hated the Kennedys and shared audio tapes of Martin Luther King's after-hours boffs with other Klan-minded government officials, he was mostly interested in Marilyn because he really thought she was a red. Why? Well, she believed in civil rights for black people, a stance Hoover and the political right generally thought was inspired by communists; she publicly denounced McCarthyism; and she often expressed contempt for Hoover himself. In other words, Marilyn Monroe was an intelligent person and a good American.

ON FRIDAY, December 28, at approximately 5:36pm, deputies were dispatched to a residential burglary at 19251 Dorffi Road in Fort Bragg. Deputies responded to the location and contacted the victims, Pamela Deeter, 25, and Justin Fenstermacher, 28. Deputies learned that Deeter and Fenstermacher arrived home to discover that someone had recently forced entry into their residence and stole multiple items of personal property. Deputies obtained other information from witnesses at the scene that related to suspect and vehicle information and direction of flight. At approximately 6:15pm, deputies located a vehicle that matched the description provided. Deputies initiated an investigative stop of the vehicle at 29700 Highway 20 and identified the five occupants contained therein as Dylan Davis, 41, of Clearlake, Robert Gilbert, 33, of Clearlake, Seth Foster, 27, of Willits, Clint Harbour, 49, of Willits, and William Breen, 24, of Willits. One or more of the occupants matched the earlier descriptions provided and arrangements were made with the victims/witnesses for an in-field showing. As a result of that in-field showing, all occupants were positively identified as suspects to the reported burglary and arrested. All five suspects were ultimately lodged into the Mendocino County Jail and booked on the listed charges with bail set at $50,000. SOUNDANCING at the Royce, San Francisco. Saturday, Jan 19, 8pm, $25. Benefit evening of hot tap dancing and musical MIDI madness. With Shoehorn, E. Dr. Smith, Rosie Radiator, Rock’n Rolleen, SF Tap Team and more. Special to AVA fans only: $5 discount. Proceeds support our NorCal environmental work. Reservations required. Go to for ticket info.

OccupyPosterTHE HORROR, THE HORROR! Greetings, to ring in the new year and celebrate the swearing in of Congressman Jared Huffman and the transition from Supervisor Kendall Smith to Supervisor Dan Gjerde we are having an open house at our offices this Friday, January 4 from 5:00-8:00 pm in the Old Fort Building, 430 North Franklin St, Fort Bragg. Hope you will drop by, share some cheer and conversation. We look forward to continuing to serve you. Heidi & Christine, Dan Gjerde and Kendall Smith — Heidi Cusick Dickerson, Redwood Valley

ON SATURDAY, January 12th at 7 p.m and Sunday, January 13 at 2 p.m., the 21st annual Professional Pianist Concert will be held at the Mendocino College Center Theatre. Featured performers are Spencer Brewer, Elena Casanova, Tom Ganoung, Elizabeth MacDougall, Chris James and Ed Reinhart. Tickets are on sale at Mendocino Book Co. in Ukiah, Mazahar in Willits and Watershed Books in Lakeport. Tickets are the same they have been for 15 years, $10/students and seniors; $15 general and $25 "I ‘Wanna’ See the Hands" limited seating. For more information call (707) 468-8910. This concert features all six pianists on stage in a living room environment throughout the concert trading stories and songs with two pianos on stage to accommodate impromptu collaborations. This popular event is an annual sellout because of the diversity and quality of all the diverse music and humor that takes place throughout the evening. The musical selections can range from classical to jazz, boogie woogie to Cuban and.....who knows till that evening! The Ukiah concert benefits the Ukiah Educational Foundation and the Allegro Scholarship Program. Sponsors are Sparetime Supply in Willits, Savings Bank of Mendocino, Ukiah Valley Medical Center, Ukiah Civic Light Opera, Willits Furniture Center, Waterman Plants, K-WINE/MAX, KOZT-The Coast and KZYX/Z. There will be autographed CD's by the artists for sale in lobby. Refreshments will be provided by Ukiah Civic Light Opera.

LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS Launch Website: An information-rich resource for keeping Mendocino County healthy is now live. Community volunteers on the Mendocino County Health and Human Services Agency Advisory Board (HHSAAB) have just completed a year-long project to provide accurate, timely, health-related data about Mendocino County via a new website, The site allows organizations that provide health and other services to local people to have a “one-stop shop” for data and information pertaining to health and wellness in Mendocino County. A launch party will be held January 15 from 4 to 6 pm at Ukiah Valley Conference Center (Cabernet Room) to share this new resource with the public. The event will include a live demonstration, hands-on experience navigating the site (bring your laptop or tablet), and recognition of funding partners. Hospitals, health clinics, community organizations, and government agencies involved in public health, health care, and social services have traditionally spent hours trying to find the most recent health data about Mendocino County so they could make good decisions about how to invest limited resources. HHSAAB members learned about the Healthy Communities Institute (HCI) –– and invited the organization’s leader to present the HCI model to local leaders. As a result of that demo and the efforts of many supporters, 20 local organizations came together in a coalition to fund the project. “This resource can help us make more informed decisions to improve our personal and community health. We’ll have access to comprehensive data for priority-setting and planning, and can share best practices with other communities,” said Susan Baird, Steering Committee Chair. “Our tagline is ‘Connecting people and information for better health.’” The website is user-friendly and features a dashboard with 90 indicators of local health and its influences. The site also includes monitoring and comparison tools, a database of promising community health practices, local reports and feature stories, a community calendar, and links to local resources and tools for managing personal health. Potential users include service providers and planners in health care, public health, and social service organizations as well as individuals interested in better health for themselves and their community. Steering Committee members invite the public to join them for snacks and beverages at the launch party on January 15 to learn more. For details, email — Roberta Werdinger

One Comment

  1. Peter Warner January 1, 2013

    I have one question for our “new” North Coast congressional representative, which perhaps Heidi Dickerson or another Democratic Party glad-hander can pass along to Mr. Huffman:

    Do you intend to support the treasonous, illegal, imperial, terroristic, and constitutionally destructive policies of the Obama Administration, vis-a-vis the continuing denial of the writ of habeas corpus, the implementation of the National Defense Authorization Act, the continuing deployment of drones against civilians, the continuing surveillance of American citizens and their communications, the disastrous effects of global American militarism — indeed fitting the very definition of terrorism — the failed and deliberately deceitful subterfuge of sovereign governments through the CIA, NSA, US AID, WHINSEC, et al., the continuation of the complete insanity of nuclear weapons development and deployment, etc., ad nauseum (to say nothing of empty rhetoric on true energy independence, that is government subsidization of corporate environmental pillage for the profit of the very few), or will you uphold your oath of office to defend the U. S. Constitution and introduce articles of impeachment against the war criminal and constitutional traitor now ruling this nation on behalf of the treasonous corporate oligarchy class?

    I’ll add, Mr. Huffman, that you either represent the best interests — and I mean what works for the average citizen, day to day, year to year, not what’s determined by Wall St., the Fed, or the myriad corporate plunderers and envoys who pollute this nation — for your district, or you will immediately place yourself firmly in the camp of collaborators against the common good. It’s your choice, and welcome to the House.

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