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Off the Record (August 3, 2022)

A WOMAN called the other day to say, “I know who's setting all these fires lately.” I asked her if she'd called the Sheriff, not bothering to argue about the actual number of recent arson fires in the county. “Not yet,” she said, “but that's a good idea.” She said she had “a stack” of photographs of the arsonist in the act that she wanted to show me. “He's been doing it for years.” I suggested, again, that she call the Sheriff. “I'm going to, “ she said. I asked her for the torch's name. She gave me his name. “How do you know him?” I asked. “He's my ex-husband,” she said. 

READING FROM HER CEO report Tuesday morning, Mendo CEO Darcie Antle announced, “There are a few things I'd like to highlight for you this morning, that July is Black, Indigent, and People of Colors Minority Mental Health Month.” 

THE SUPERVISORS stared back, “Save us from the sin of false piety!” Well, hell, as the late great George Carlin liked to point out, “Take the bullshit out of this country and the whole show collapses like a failed souffle.” But rhetorical falsity is a mandatory stop these days on the busy lib station of the cross, so…

ANYHOW, MS. ANTLE, “INDIGENT” is certainly more inclusive, seeing as how this county's 5150s are mostly white, as are the indigent, with Mexicans coming on fast. But as you probably know, mental health “services” in Mendocino County are pretty much a cash and carry business. If the 31 agencies comprising the “continuum of care” can get paid for their dubious interventions, the 5150 gets care, probably a continuum of care if he's ”reimbursable.” If not, “Here's your Safeway shopping cart, sir. Good luck.”

CHINESE WORKERS BUILT THE RAILROADS and levees in the Sacramento Delta. The dirt they moved was said to be more dirt than it took to carve out the Panama Canal, so a certain debt was owed to them. At first they were allowed to buy houses but not the dirt the houses sat on. Finally, in 1977, the heirs of George Locke sold the town and its 14 acres to Chinese investors from Hong Kong. On a late afternoon in 2016 it appeared all but abandoned, one more sleepy historic place on the national registry until the saloon doors on Al The Wop's Tavern swung open and revealed travelers on a break from the scenic route drinking gin and eating steaks with garlic fries as the bartender recounted how the last fire in a century of fires sparked on easy tinder and swept through town. There are no Chinese to be found in the city of Locke now, only the busts of Confucius and Sun Yat-sen, father of the Republic of China whose Kuomintang Party once had a chapter there. —Mark Arax, 'The Dreamt Land'

FROM THE CURRY COUNTY COASTAL PILOT newspaper in Oregon, Friday, July 22, 2022:

Milliman steps in as Brookings city manager, by Breeana Laughlin

Retired Brookings city manager Gary Milliman is stepping back into his former position while current city manager Janell Howard is on paid administrative leave. Howard was appointed to the city manager position when Milliman retired in 2018 according to Brookings Mayor Ron Hedenskog. Mayor Hedenskog said that city officials were on order not to comment on the circumstances related to Howard's leave. “Janell Howard is a high-level employee of the city who is entitled to utmost confidentiality in her personal life,” he added. Milliman said he agreed to serve in the temporary position after being contacted by Mayor Hedenskog. His term as city manager is on a to be determined basis according to city officials. The duration of the leave is uncertain which is why Milliman was asked to serve as pro tem. Milliman reports he has about 45 years of experience in city management in Oregon and California. After his retirement, Milliman became Brookings Municipal Court Judge. He is carrying out the duties of both city manager and municipal judge at this time, Hedenskog said.

Hedenskog said he was confident Milliman would do a good job for the city of Brookings during his temporary assignment. “I was a city councilor when we hired Gary to be the city manager in 2008,” Hedenskog said. After his retirement, Milliman was appointed to emeritus status. This title basically means he is an ambassador for the city of Brookings.

Gary Milliman

MILLIMAN, aka ‘Middleman,’ was the Fort Bragg city manager for 17 years during the controversial days in the 1980s and early 90s and then after that was manager of the Skunk Train before moving to greener pastures in Oregon. As we reported in our special series on the Fort Bragg Fires:

“Dominic Affinito has benefited mightily from public-private business deals orchestrated for him by former City Manager Gary Milliman and a pliant Fort Bragg City Council. Affinito's business has become Fort Bragg's business in many ways. Affinito claims to be retired, but says, ‘Where other men play golf when they retire, I work.’ He became locally infamous for sweeping condemnations of wide swathes of the Fort Bragg population, publicly dismissing an entire City Council audience as ‘parasites, professional protesters and mental cases’ on one memorable occasion.”

FOR YOUR “DUH” FILE from the Press Democrat's Dan Taylor: “Is Dave Chappelle, the overwhelmingly popular and continuously controversial comedian, a comic genius or a cultural loose cannon?”

CHAPPELLE is very funny, certainly, but like all the great comics all the way back to W.C. Fields — the only old time comedian who makes me laugh — the cultural commissars will be offended and, as always, we've got plenty of cultural commissars these days, especially among “liberals.” It's never enough for the commissars to simply ignore opinion they don't like, they want to stop everyone else from hearing it. 

SEVERAL of the NorCal neo-gender-bender groups tried to get Chappelle's sold out recent show in Santa Rosa shut down, which had the feebs at the PD quite nervous, hence Taylor's equivocating, “Gosh, a bunch of people have signed a petition against this guy, but a lot more people have bought up all the tickets to see him. How do we ‘on the one hand, but on the other’ this one?”

EVER HEAR of Quentin Crisp? He was way ahead of the trans curve, going about his daily rounds in pre-War London in women's get-up, which took some raw courage, certainly, but as an excellent and very witty writer, Crisp became a popular figure and best-selling author, beating back his critics like he was swatting flies. 

GAWD. I rubbed my eyes, slapped myself, groaned, read it again. “Sonoma County Administrator Appoints Communications Manager Paul Gullixson, award-winning local journalist, to lead County communications team and serve as public information officer.

“Santa Rosa,CA | May 21, 2020… As Communications Manager, Mr. Gullixson will oversee a centralized communications team engaged in public information and communication activities within the County Administrator’s Office. Mr. Gullixson will serve as the official channel of communication between the County and the public. A primary area of responsibility will be ensuring information about the County's initiatives and programs reach Sonoma County's diverse communities. Mr. Gullixson’s starting annual salary will be $157,536.”

AWARD WINNING WHAT? $157,536? This guy? (SoCo taxpayers please note.) Gullixson weaseled-wrote his way from the Press Democrat's dull-normal editorial office into this bogus sinecure. At the PD, he wrote thundering statements of the obvious in a cringing, narcoleptic prose that could sub for chloroform in a primitive operating room. I had a couple of encounters with him, a big softy with an anxious “Don't beat me, daddy” face. 

AT SOME silly long ago Santa Rosa panel organized by the PD on, of all things, journalism, where Gullixson was ringmaster, he spotted me striding confidently into the hall and hustled over to caution me, “Now, Bruce, let's keep it positive, ok?” I don't remember the earnest hacks on the panel, but they seemed offended at my remarks on our ”profession,” which were few because Gullixson deftly steered the conversation around me whenever he could. But I got a few shots in, and drove back to Boonville happy.

A FEW YEARS LATER, noting that the Press Democrat was looking for civic-minded persons to sit on their volunteer editorial board, I shot off my bona fides to Gullixson to see if I could get a rise out of him.

“DEAR MR. GULLIXSON: Please consider me for the vacant position on the Press Democrat's editorial oversight board. As a 50-year resident of the Northcoast, veteran, journalist, married father of three, senior citizen, Giants-Niners-Warriors fan, former Little League coach, garage saler, huge admirer of former congressman and owner of your fine publication, Doug Bosco, lunch buddy of Mike Geniella, dazzled devotee of Pete Golis's Sunday think pieces, and long-time confidant of Gaye LeBaron, I feel I am uniquely qualified for the position. Whatever consideration, etc… Very best, Bruce Anderson, Boonville.”

GULLIXSON promptly replied: “Thank you for your information and your interest in this position. I'll pass your nomination on to the other Editorial Board members. We expect to make a decision shortly. Hope all is well with you, Best, Paul.”

A NATIONWIDE BANKRATE POLL of 1,025 adults found 51% of Americans said they had little to no savings or emergency funds. And while less than half have savings lined up, a LendingTree survey of 1,008 consumers in July found that 43% of Americans will take on additional debt in the next six months in order to make ends meet, with more than half of that number represented by parents with young children. It comes as the country saw inflation hit its highest mark in 41 years last month with prices for goods and services soaring. 

FROM A PD REPORT on a SoCo Judge’s ruling that Sonoma County can’t clear a homeless camp on their version of the Great Redwood Trail, the Joe Rodota Trail, in Santa Rosa:

“…Around 1 p.m. Monday, just 55 minutes before Judge Gilliam granted the order, employees from the county and one of its homeless service contractors, DEMA, were offering campus residents temporary housing. A month's stay at the DEMA-managed trailers by the Sonoma County Fairgrounds or at the Hampton Inn in Rohnert Park were one option. Sam Jones, the congregate living shelter unpopular with many unhoused residents, was another. Others in the encampment have said they feared their belongings would be damaged, lost or discarded if they went into a shelter. Some had concerns about the noise and security in congregant housing, while others complained that the rules in congregant housing were too restrictive.”

THE JOE RODOTA TRAIL in Sonoma County is a forerunner of what’s likely to happen on the “Great Redwood Trail” in Ukiah. 

WHEN Mao Tse Tung's red revolutionaries took over China in 1949, every criminal in China fled to the island of Taiwan, overwhelming the indigenous population. The U.S., having backed the owning classes grouped around the corrupt Kuomintang regime of Chiang Kai Shek in the Chinese civil war, continued to back the Kuomintang on Taiwan. If the present Chinese regime is serious about its threats to invade Taiwan if Nancy Pelosi visits, Pelosi just might kick off a war between China and the doddering, incompetent Biden government she's a crucial part of. Because the mainland Chinese government usually doesn't jive around with a lot of idle threats, we could soon be involved in two wars, the surrogate one in Ukraine, another in Taiwan.

MEANWHILE, here at home with inflation eating the economy, and as a general social and ecological chaos grows, Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, reacting to the lowdown cruelty of Texas and Arizona governors, is calling on the National Guard to help deal with the migration crisis in the nation's capitol as Texas and Arizona continues sending asylum-seekers there. “The pace of arriving buses and the volume of arrivals have reached tipping points,” Bowser wrote in a letter to the Biden administration. “Our collective response and service efforts have now become overwhelmed. Tragically, many families arrive in Washington, DC with nowhere to go, or they remain in limbo seeking onward destinations across the United States.”

HALF of America's oldest people can't afford essential expenses due to rising inflation and cost of living, report claims… Over 50% of older American women living alone are classed as poor under federal poverty standards, according to the University of Massachusetts-Boston's Elder Index.

GOPHERS, MOLES AND VOLES… (Coast Chatline)

(1) Any remedies for eradicating invasive gophers, etc. would be appreciated.

(2) I totally understand your frustration with gophers. May I gently suggest that the idea of “eradicating” any native species can also be approached as “management” or “learning to live together”? After killing gophers for ten years in traps and seeing them mangled and dying or thirst , or learning that people use gopher poisons that kill all sorts of animals in addition to gophers. I found that that building a gopher proof box, gardening in containers, getting a cat, or growing native plants that are resistant to gophers were all way easier. Also just letting them be sometimes! I don’t know about those electronics thingys. They make an annoying sound that repels me so maybe they work on gophers too.

(3) I use those noisy devices, and they do have some impact, but I have also found that planting daffodils - or any alliums, for that matter - have a greater effect. Gophers, moles and voles HATE every part of allium plants, roots to flowers, and combined with the noisemakers has dramatically reduced the numbers here. I also do use molemax, which doesn't kill them but drives them off due to the by-product as the granules break down - they HATE that smell, and then run to the neighbors (so sorry).

FORT BRAGG MAYOR BERNIE NORVELL WRITES:

Below is an amazing example of how the Crisis Response Team is using their funds to provide services accompanied by care and compassion. This individual has resulted in nearly fifty calls for service in the last six months. This is the same individual that the Crisis Response Team spent nearly three hours on the phone with Florida to obtain his first replacement ID in 5 years. (Last name changed for confidentiality.) 

Log from 07/26/2022:

“Field visit with Zachariah Smith. Transported Zachariah to FBPD to complete homeward bound paperwork. FBPD purchased bus tickets to Billings, Montana through homeward bound program to reconnect Zachariah with family. Transported Zachariah to Taco Bell for a meal. Crisis Response Unit bought Zachariah a set of new clothes for his travels from the local thrift store (2 sets of shirts a pair of pants a pair of underwear and a wallet). E-mail sent to department staff seeking replacement jacket due to unavailability at thrift store. Crisis Response Unit coordinating with Zachariah to shower at Hospitality House before traveling and setting up sack lunch meals for travels. Zachariah is set to depart Friday at 11out of Willits. Crisis Response Unit will transport Zachariah to bus stop in Willits, help him check in on the bus, and return replacement ID upon departure. Follow-up to be conducted with family to ensure arrival.”

GEORGE DORNER COMMENTS on the Willits Courthouse: “The tale behind the Willits Courthouse is interesting. It was built to take advantage of a federal block grant, which otherwise “might have gone to waste”. (Does this sound familiar?) The excuse given was that the two jail cells within the justice center would serve as holding cells so prisoners didn’t have to be immediately transported to Ukiah. The courthouse was built to mimic the City Hall next door. The jail cells remained unused, the prisoners taken down over the hill to Ukiah, and the court followed suit.”

A NEW WRINKLE in non-events — drive to a remote corner of Mendocino County and then up a ridge to a dusty, scraggly “park” featuring a slimed over toxic pond to stand in line for a slice of watermelon and a chemically-loaded hotdog as ear-splitting ”music” convinces the elderly throng that they're still with it until the three amigos arrive from Sea Ranch to deliver interchangeable platitudes so lame even the assembled Biden voters look bored, but the “party” is over in two of the longest hours you will spend at any Mendocino County event except a meeting of the Board of Supervisors.

A RECENT SEGMENT ON KQED (Television) featured Kamau Bell, a black comedian, and a fashionably accoutered white woman named Kate Schatz, the latter commenting that she's married to another woman with whom she is raising three children. Bell and Schatz have co-authored a “workbook” on how not to be a racist. Together, they reminded me of a comment I once overheard wherein a guy referred un-ironically to friends of his as “highly fuckin' evolved.” 

THE TWO OF THEM struck me as insufferably smug, as I wondered what exactly made them assume that they're in a position to lecture anyone about anything, the same question I ask anybody who's passing out how-to-think advice of the personal variety. Are the lecturers really, really, really good and un-oppressive themselves? 

THEIR BOOK includes a list of questions that you, white oppressor, can ask yourself to determine how much rehab you need to beat back your racism. If you flunk the self-exam you can continue reading their twenty-five dollar book to self-correct.

ONE OF THE QUESTIONS was to the effect, “Are you uncritical of law enforcement?” As in do you look favorably on the cops? The sensible answer, it seems to me, would be, “Depends on the cop.” The correct answer, though, according to Bell and Schatz, is if you're inclined to approve of the police generally you've got some 'splain'n to do because the cops generally treat black people unfairly. Which I don't think is generally true anymore, but it's obvious there are police departments and individual police people who are biased against black people. And I've known cops who assume everyone, without regard to race, color or creed, is either an active scumbag or a scumbag in training. Police work, I would think, would confirm the blanket scumbag opinion in the, ah, unsophisticated, inexperienced individual cop who, in these fraught times, is trained not to think that way even if it's his predisposition.

TWO EPISODES in the past coupla days may or may not illustrate my point that cops, in these times, deserve the benefit of the doubt.

EAST of Healdsburg, Sonoma County deputies shot and killed a man, not yet identified, who had “thrown a rock into the window of a home in the 5200 block of Tre Monte Lane,” stole a truck, drove through several cattle gates and “fled after being confronted by residents,” one of whom he asked to shoot him.

AN HOUR LATER, deputies found the man and ordered him to drop his weapon. He refused and, at one point, appeared to charge the deputies and was shot to death in what appears to be suicide by cop, and a helluva terrible thing to do to the cop or cops who had to shoot him.

THE SECOND EPISODE occurred east of Willits on Sunday, the 26th of July. A drunk named Trevor Williams, who looks to be pushing 60, was “discharging a firearm in a negligent manner” on a ranch he is said to own in the 10000 block of Hearst Willits Road. 

Trevor Williams

It's a big ranch at 7,700 acres, and already this is an odd incident in that, typically, Mendo property owners of that magnitude don't get drunk before noon and start firing random gunshots, although they may indeed be drunk before noon. 

ARRIVING DEPUTIES were informed that Williams was prohibited from owning guns and there was a worried, menaced under age person in the Williams home when he went off, so to speak. Williams met the deputies at his gate, told them to go away, and drove on his ATV back up to his house where deputies saw him arm up with several handguns, a scoped rifle, and a bottle of whiskey, all of which he packed onto his ATV. 

WILLIAMS, 56, then took off on his ATV into the vastness of his thousands of acres, but was soon “spotted low crawling through a creek bed in an attempt to flank the Sheriff’s Office personnel on scene.” Deputies saw that he had three handguns and “a scoped high powered rifle,” which, hiding behind “a piece of heavy machinery,” Williams then pointed in the direction of the deputies, but soon put the rifle down and put his hands up, at first walking towards deputies as if to surrender, then turning around and walking away. 

AND THEN AGAIN Williams turned to the deputies with his hands raised in surrender and walked, three handguns still in his belt, to the deputies where, incredibly, the drunken fool was soon wrestling with an as yet unidentified sergeant for the sergeant's gun, simultaneously trying to pull one of his own handguns still in his belt. Williams was soon subdued and, unharmed, booked into the County Jail on half a mil bond.

THE Mendo Sheriff's Department deserves high marks for the courage and restraint it took to corral this guy without anybody getting hurt.

LATE 2013, a little over a year after our dear Alexander Cockburn had left us, the business office was in the early stages of saving CounterPunch and moving into a new era for our tiny ship. I was working early on a weekend morning when the phone rang and on the other end was a raspy, almost incomprehensible voice blaring at me as soon as I put the receiver to my ear. I nearly hung up, because I first thought that the person wasn’t speaking English and after 15 years at CounterPunch, I no longer put up with screaming callers. My SOP was to hang up unflustered, because it happened all the time in those days. Alex always told me to tell them to fuck off before hanging up. Luckily, I was feeling patient that morning and realized that I could understand a few words and the more carefully I listened the more I could make out, soon comprehending that the enraged person speaking in the thickest Irish accent I’d ever heard was telling me I was speaking with Sinead O’Connor. I didn’t believe it for a minute, but it was intriguing, so I heard them out. After a call from Jeff Bridges office, another with Ben Affleck, and also Mark Ruffalo, my most enjoyable being with Margot Kidder on several occasions, so I was prepared to speak to random celebrity callers. I understood that an article posted on CounterPunch had flamed the fire under Sinead. I opened the homepage of CounterPunch and saw the new article in the lineup about Miley Cyrus, in which the author was throwing daggers at Sinead. I could see why she was pissed off. After about twenty minutes, the voice calmed significantly and I told her she could speak directly to the editor, so I gave her Jeffrey’s number and while I was only beginning to believe it was Sinead on the line, I contacted Jeffrey to let him know she’d be in touch. Jeffrey confirmed after a long conversation with her, indeed, it was Sinead and she’d be sending her rebuttal forthwith. — Becky Grant, CounterPunch.org

ON LINE COMMENTS OF THE WEEK

[1] The Middle Class was doomed to oblivion once the great American industrial base was leveled and destroyed. It was not foreign bombers who came in under the dark of night and bombed and obliterated the thousands of grand factories that provided steady income and decent pay and a way for men and women to build families and lives. No, the devastation was done in corporate offices by men in fancy suits and inflated titles and oversize authority who chose sickening self-interest and personal benefit over Country and the lives of millions of Americans and millions more yet unborn. And with every factory that they shuttered and off-shored, this was like a dagger to the heart of real flesh-and-blood human beings. In a way, the first shots of the Grand Culling strategy that is in full swing right now.

 [2] A good comprehensive vocational education provides more than enough abstract and critical thinking skills. Those are then easily transferred to other areas of interest.

Ever had to troubleshoot a computerized electronic control system? Yes, it’s black box replacement most of the time, but even that takes some mental horsepower to be done right in a competitive environment. And the few times it’s not simple it gets very interesting indeed!

The military has that part right, or at least they used to. Take a raw recruit, train them hard and right, hand them some responsibility, and say “OK hotshot, go out there and prove yourself now.” The good ones do and they become new people in the process.

[3] OK. Upon reflection, I do have another agenda: Free Speech.

During my lifetime, I have witnessed men and women as they have been for eons as we kicked butt together to the very top of the food chain. Then the introduction of the phrase “Male chauvinist pig!” Then the social engineering whereby one could not share truth lest they be accused of being a “Male chauvinist pig!” Then the switch to calling such men with such thoughts “Misogynists.” Then the almost criminal implications of uttering a “misogynist” thought.

We still have free speech and we still do not (yet) have thought crime. I can say, “A woman’s place is in the kitchen” all that I want in America!

I loved Matt Gaetz’s recent quote when asked what if people are offended by his comments. “Be offended” he advised.

It amazes me how many people think that they are all for Free Speech when, really, they are all for social-engineering censorship and believe that they have some weird right to not be offended by someone else’s free speech.

Good women bake tasty fruit pies and I enjoy them a la mode – and I don’t care who knows it.

[4] George Carlin: “There’s a reason education sucks and it’s the same reason that it will never, ever, ever be fixed. . . because the owners of this country don’t want that. The real owners, the big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions — forget the politicians. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land, they own and control the corporations; they’ve long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the State houses, the City Halls; they’ve got the judges in their back pockets. And they own all the big media companies, so that they control just about all of the news and information you hear. I'll tell you what they don't want. They don't want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. They want obedient workers, people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork but just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, reduced benefits, the end of overtime and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it. And, now, they're coming for your Social Security and they'll get it sooner or later, because they own this fucking place. It's one big club, and you ain't in it."

[5] I saw a piece on the news last night about the largest growth in homelessness was the baby boomer generation. They interviewed a woman who is living in her car with her daughter & grandchild. She said her apartment rent went up 30% and she was evicted. A sane country was what we used to be — sort of. At the very least, people could live on minimum wage in the 1970s and provide the basics for themselves and have a roof over their heads. You could see a GP and pay a reasonable fee without health insurance. A university education meant you could pass freshman English and write a research paper.

[6] Try saying any of these sentences out loud with a straight face:

“There is no recession and the economy is booming.”

“The USA is the greatest country in the world.”

“The 2020 election was the most fair and honest election ever run.”

“Hunter Biden’s laptop files are nothing more than Russian psy-ops.”

“Any evidence of inflation is a direct result of Putin.”

[7] If one graduates from University (say a real one), does one forget all that one learned in high school (say a real one) – or is that earlier learning maintained and fulfilled in the higher? 

Does one accept every little thought and feeling that arises because “It’s human” or even better, because “It’s yours”? As Nietzsche said, “Human, all too human.” Needless to say, many thoughts and feelings are unworthy and untrue – even if they are yours. 

This life is a school. Linger not. Don’t be the big kid (say a girl like Britney Griner) sitting at the back with a dunce cap on. The point is to graduate not glorify your ignorance or even the school itself.

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