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Mendocino County Today: January 19, 2013

REEL SHORT MOVIE REVIEW. Zero Dark Thirty. The Chron's ineffable movie reviewer, Mick LaSalle, says it's “one of the best films of 2012.” I'd say it's one of the worst but, in its way, revelatory in its unintentional depiction of our government as depraved and stupid, a fact of American life many of us adjusted to years ago. Zero supposedly tells the story of the CIA agent who locates Osama Bin Laden so the militarized version of the Stanford football team can finish him off. The CIA agent is a beautiful woman, natch, because this is a movie, and the movie's sub-theme is contempo-feminist, i.e., women can be as cruelly brutal as men, another fact of life unlikely to surprise anyone over the age of 12.

Jessica Chastain & Jason Clarke as CIA Agents in Zero Dark Thirty
Jessica Chastain & Jason Clarke as CIA Agents in Zero Dark Thirty

Bin Laden and lots of other fanatics, as we know, have been “neutralized” because the beautiful redhead and the Ivy League grad students who comprise the CIA torture the information out of their affiliates and gofers at secret torture centers in places like Poland and Egypt, not to mention Afghanistan. The movie's torture scenes are advertised as depictions of the real deal and, as some reviewers have described them, “excruciating.” The real deal, we can be sure, does not resemble the Frisco sex dungeons we get here. The Ivy League CIA man doing the torturing is supposed to be cool in the hip way he talks to the Arabs strung up by ropes and pulleys. He throws out a lot of “dudes” and “bros” while the beautiful redhead looks on and occasionally winces. (She's a girl, you see, and it takes girls a little longer to adjust to psychos torturing other psychos to win the jive War On Terror, just expanded this week to include Mali and Algeria.) There are lots of explosions and Bruce Willis-type special effects — in fact that moron's latest movie was prominent among the talent-free previews before Zero Dark Thirty began. I expect this fascist epic will get a lot of Academy Awards, and looked at objectively, it really is terrifying.

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FOSTER FATHER Due In Court Today In Baby's Death; Details Released. By Tiffany Revelle

While authorities still aren't saying much about the violent death of a 5-month-old baby girl in Fort Bragg, details have come to light about the events that led up to the December tragedy.

Wilson L. Tubbs III, 38, the baby's foster father, was arrested last month and booked under $500,000 bail at the Mendocino County Jail on suspicion of child abuse resulting in death, a charge the District Attorney's Office says carries the same weight as murder.

Fort Bragg police responded to the Mendocino Coast District Hospital Dec. 2, where the 5-month-old girl had arrived “not breathing and blue,” and with bruises on her face and skull, according to a “suspected child abuse report” filed Dec. 3 with the Mendocino County Health and Human Services Agency. The baby had “acute or chronic brain injury, including subdural hematoma and hemorrhages,” according to the report.

Subdural hematoma is the accumulation of blood on the brain's surface, and is most often caused by serious head injury, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

The baby was flown to Oakland Children's Hospital by REACH helicopter, and an examination revealed she had two skull fractures, the Fort Bragg Police Department reported previously. The child abuse specialist who examined her told police that the injuries could not possibly have been caused by the fall Tubbs initially said the infant took in his home.

Tubbs allegedly admitted to authorities that he slapped and violently shook the baby, after he initially claimed she fell from a changing bench onto a hardwood floor when the family dog walked by and bumped it, according to the FBPD.

Tubbs was due in Mendocino County Superior Court Friday at 1:30pm to confirm the date of his preliminary hearing.

The Daily Journal requested information about the case under the Public Records Act, and the Mendocino County Counsel's Office and the Health and Human Services Agency on Tuesday released documents pursuant to that request.

The names, birth dates, addresses and other information for all involved parties are blacked out on the 182 pages of documents the county released. The documents include reports and evaluation sheets from social workers, police reports and Child Protective Service reports for the baby's birth mother going back to 1999.

The mother, whose name is redacted in the released county records, has had three children taken from her care since then. According to county CPS records, she had been referred seven times to CPS and had three cases between July 2005 and June 18, 2012, the day she gave birth to the baby girl, for general neglect and one incident of physical abuse.

The Mendocino County HHSA's Chuck Dunbar wrote a letter to the Mendocino Coast District Hospital's obstetrics unit on May 22, 2012, asking the unit to make a CPS referral when the mother went into labor, stating the mother “is a (Redwood Coast) Regional Center client with significant intellectual deficits” and “some drug history.”

A report was made to CPS the day she gave birth stating that the mother had used methamphetamine in the past and had tested positive for marijuana three weeks before the day she gave birth, but didn't have any drugs in her system when she was admitted.

The baby's father was in jail at the time, and the mother was living with friends, according to the report, which also notes that the mother was “very cooperative.”

Social Worker John Melnicoe notes in a June 21 safety assessment report on the mother that she had used methamphetamine and had mental health issues more than a year ago, and that she had “a lot of CPS history as to older children,” citing “anger issues in past, etc.” Melnicoe also notes the mother is “willing to work with CPS, looks a lot better - but still warrants a case.”

In a “notice of referral disposition” on the same date, Melnicoe writes, “I am opening up a voluntary case, all looks quite good actually, even after consulting with this mother's Reg. Center SW and MH person - many people are involved with her now, she is clearly motivated, and appears to have grown emotionally. I will follow this one for awhile - at least several months.”

On June 28, the county's records show, the mother's roommate called CPS and law enforcement to report she was “very worried about this child's safety” as the mother hadn't been sleeping and had become “increasingly upset and frustrated.”

The roommate reported the baby's father had called collect from the jail that day, and that the roommate had asked the mother not to accept collect calls to keep the phone bill down.

The mother became upset, the roommate reported, saying the mother held the baby with one arm and that the baby's head was “basically being flung around due to a lack of proper support” while the mother gathered her belongings with her other hand.

Police found the mother at another location the same day and confronted her, but the mother reportedly claimed she had cradled the baby and supported its head.

Officer Stephen Gray of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office describes in his report about the June 28 incident how the roommate reported the mother had, “as with any newborn and corresponding sleep deprivation ... slept little,” and wouldn't let anyone else in the house hold the baby.

The mother complained about her small living area in the home, the roommate told Gray, comparing her attitude to that of a drug addict. The mother told social workers later that day that the roommate had taken the phone from her, and that she resented the roommate telling her what to do, among other things.

Authorities ultimately decided it was “at least plausible in all the excitement” that the infant's head wasn't supported, and that, combined with her history, guided the county's decision to take the baby from her custody.

In his July 2, 2012 risk assessment report on the mother, Melnicoe writes in his comments: “Sad situation. This mother is low functioning, is a Regional Center client since 1998, main issues however revolve around anger management/MH issues, not on meds for years though. Mom had angry outburst - child in arms - detained child due to prior lost/adopted out sibs/anger issues remain.”

The baby's Dec. 2, 2012 admittance to the coast hospital is the next CPS report in the county's records.

“Child is in very critical condition and now has been transferred to Oakland Children's Hospital for surgery,” according to the report. “Foster father reports that child fell off bench in the kitchen area of foster home on the evening of 12-1-12.”

Also included in the released documents is a report stating that the baby died at the Oakland Children's Hospital Dec. 4 after she was “injured very seriously by relative caregiver.” Her cause of death is “confirmed abuse,” according to the county demographics page.

Marie and Wilson L. Tubbs III (also known as Josh Tubbs), relatives of the mother, were approved as the baby's foster parents in late October. The most recent CPS report notes that the foster mother was away on a trip at the time of the alleged abuse, according to county records.

They were screened using checklists for standards of approval and health and safety standards for foster homes, and passed Live Scan testing for criminal history.

Tiffany Revelle can be reached at udjtr@ukiahdj.com, on Twitter @TiffanyRevelle or at 468-3523. (Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)

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ON JANUARY 18, at about 10:30am the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received multiple 911 calls regarding a man with a gun, described as a rifle walking on Walnut Drive towards the Cutten Elementary School. Initial reports were the man was wearing a Camo colored backpack. Deputies were immediately dispatched to the area and arrived within three minutes. Deputies located the man who at that point had walked past the front of the elementary school. The man was holding a 12 gauge Remington 870 shotgun above his head as deputies arrived. The man was wearing a camouflaged tactical vest loaded with sixteen rounds of 12 gauge buckshot and slugs. The shotgun was unloaded. The deputies immediately detained the man and asked him what he was doing. The 18 year old male told the deputies, “I am on the way to the courthouse to make a point that law enforcement can not protect kids and I am going to protect the kids.” The 18 year old male was taken into custody for a mental health evaluation and his weapon was seized. (Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office)

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ON JANUARY 17, 2013 at approximately 10:30pm a Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputy observed suspect Michael Dean Calas, 28, of Clearlake engaged in an exhibition of speed violation while driving a vehicle at the intersection of North State Street and Empire Drive in Ukiah. A traffic stop was conducted in the 900 block of North State Street and Calas was contacted. The Deputy obtained permission to search the vehicle and located a backpack which contained numerous prescription pharmaceuticals. The Deputy discovered some of the pharmaceuticals were controlled substances. Calas did not have a prescription for any of the pharmaceuticals and was subsequently arrested for the listed violations. Calas was transported and incarcerated at the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in lieu of $10,000 bail. (Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office)

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SO, DID HE JUMP OR WAS HE PUSHED?

Willits City Council Announces Departure of City Manager Paul Cayler

Willits, CA – The Willits City Council announces the departure of Paul Cayler, city manager since 2008. Mr. Cayler joined the City of Willits at a challenging time in its history. The “Great Recession” was approaching its peak. City revenues and expenditures were out of balance. Additionally, the City was in the midst of a number of significant capital improvement projects that required renewed focus and leadership. Throughout this period, Mr. Cayler was able to handle a multitude of complex matters with competency and skill while demonstrating the highest ethical standards and honesty. The Willits City Council has chosen to pursue a different direction with regard to the City Manager position. Enacting the separation agreement outlined in the City Manager's contract, the Council will appoint an interim City Manager to facilitate the transition of leadership. Paul Cayler can be proud of his accomplishments at the City of Willits and the Council thanks him for his service to this community. For further information, contact Mayor Holly Madrigal at holly@willitscity.com or (707) 459-0447 (Willits City Council Press Release)

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THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE says we should beware sneaker waves this weekend. Big surf is expected.

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JIM LEVINE has died at age 73. The highly regarded South Coast resident was well-known in Mendocino County for his years of work with various County non-profits. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, February 2nd in Point Arena. Unlike many of his colleagues affiliated with Mendocino County's non-profit-government-school complex, Jim was a genuinely good person, bringing an altruism that never left him to helping groups otherwise notorious for their focus on the money for themselves but inattentive to the persons they're allegedly helping. He was also a book guy, which also set him apart from the non-profit-government-school complex, even going so far as to open his own book store in Point Arena, which prospered until books went extinct in 2000. Sorry to see this guy go. He was a good one.

Jim Levine
Jim Levine

THE LEGACY of Our Friend Jim Levine'

Jim Levine, Mendocino County Youth project's tireless friend and advocate for children, youth and families, passed away January 1, 2013. Jim began his nearly 40 year relationship with Mendocino County Youth Project (MCYP) in 1974, providing joy, creativity, gentle persuasion, and brilliant insight throughout his many different roles. He held the position of executive director three times, first as the permanent staff leader, and then after he “retired,” coming back twice to serve as interim director, among other positions he held. Through his constancy, his own “fingerprints” are throughout the agency, and his legacies include the development of a 501c3 branch of the organization, the Mendocino Family and Youth Services, Inc. (for which he served on the board until his passing), the art show and sale for young county artists, and the agency's Transitional Living Program for transitional age youth. MYCP Staff over multiple generations recall his consistent adherence to his belief in the goodness of people, his joy in working with others, his generosity of spirit, and his unrelenting passion for the mission of MCYP. Stories abound about his unique approaches to developing staff spirit in the early years of the organization, including “philosophy days,” “scavenger hunts” and deciding agency direction and raises by consensus voting. When the opportunities to apply for federal grants to support programs for rural youth and families became available, Jim quickly stepped in to lend his strong writing and editing skills, building sustainability and new opportunities. Staff still admire his “never say never” attitude and the lengths he would go to in order to get MCYP's grant proposals into funders by deadlines. During one of their first federal grant applications, the deadline to post the packet at FedEx was missed. Jim was not deterred, he believed in the application and what it would do for youth in the community. While the team finished packaging up the copies, another staff member went on-line to find a cheap ticket, staff went into the agency “clothes closet” and found a clean shirt, a baseball cap, a personal-hygiene care-kit, and others pulled together food from the staff refrigerator to sustain him for the journey. Jim took off in his car to the Sacramento Airport, caught a red-eye to Washington DC, and had a taxi driver take him to the federal offices, turning the grant in a few hours before the “deadline.” The grant was the Basic Center project, for which the agency still receives federal support. To preserve his memory and the spirit he brought to his decades of making a profound difference in the lives of thousands of youth, and in those of everyone who knew, loved and worked with him, MCYP has created the annual Jim Levine Legacy Scholarship Awards, for four graduating high school seniors in Mendocino County High Schools. The first set of these awards will be presented at the MCYP's Mendocino Family and Youth Services 2013 May is Mental Health Month Breakfast. From all of us, thank you, Jim. (Mendocino County Youth Project)

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SHERIFF ALLMAN’s long-serving budget manager, Norm Thurston, has left to take a position at the County’s Probation Department. No reason or explanation has been provided for Thurston’s transfer. Thurston capably steered the Sheriff’s financial ship over the several years of very troubled waters and his departure not only means the loss of a good bit of capability and experience, but will make the Sheriff’s always precarious budget situation that much more difficult to handle. The slot is open and we have not heard of any plans to fill it in the short term.

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FUNDING THE BOONVILLE FAIR

Date: January 10, 2013

To: The Honorable Board of Supervisors

From: Heidi Dunham, Deputy CEO

Subject: Agenda Item: Approval of Mendocino County Fair and Apple Show 2013 Budget

INTRODUCTION: Before the Board today [Tuesday, January 22] is a request to approve the Mendocino County Fair and Apple Show 2013 Budget. The Operating Budget is submitted annually to the Board for review and approval.

BACKGROUND: Each year, through calendar year 2011, the Fair received an allocation from the State Department of Food and Agriculture Division of Fairs and Expositions. This funding is used to supplement revenue generated each year by the Fair to cover all operating expenses. The allocation amounts were often more than needed and the Fair was able to build a reserve over the years which they estimate will be $1,530,595 after all 2012 revenue and expenses are included. The 2013 Fair budget is the first that will significantly reduce the reserve. The estimated cost above revenue generated at the Fair in 2013 is $200,300. Should the Fair continue to utilize the reserve at that rate, it would be depleted in six years. The Fair Director, James Brown, is well aware of the situation. A plan is in place to increase Fair revenues. This plan includes grant writing and development of a marketing plan. The intent of the marketing plan will be to increase use of the grounds, and acquire donations and sponsorships. Marketing activity has already begun in the Anderson Valley area and will be expanded in 2013. In the event marketing activities and fair income fail to bring in the necessary revenue to break even in 2014, actions may include salary reductions and/or layoffs.

SUMMARY: Although the Fair is operating at a deficit, there is a plan in place to generate additional revenue. Executive Office staff will continue to monitor the budget and communicate with the Fair Director. An update will be provided to the Board with the agenda item for the 2014 Mendocino County Fair and Apple Show Operating Budget.

RECOMMENDED BOARD ACTION/MOTION: Approve the Mendocino County Fair and Apple Show 2013 Operating Budget. (End of Board of Supervisors Agenda item)

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NOTE: The Fair Budget attached to the agenda item shows a loss of $179k from State funding (which was down from $199k two years earlier) bringing operating revenue down to about $356k for Calendar Year 2013. Operating expenses are expected to be about $503k. The difference is budgeted to be made up by a reduction of about $200k from reserves from about $1.53 million down to about $1.33 million.

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