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Off the Record (Sept. 14, 2022)

NOTHING MUCH TO DISAGREE WITH in Trent James recent video about the Kevin Murray case. 

But it was interesting that he chose to highlight this comment that was posted on mendofever by Jim Brown. 

“Jim O Brown, August 31, 2022 At 2:37 pm — I applaud Judge Moorman’s sentencing on disgraced ex cop Murray. Two years supervised probation with all the terms and conditions attached will be much tougher than jail. One year of sex offender treatment, search and seizure clause, chemical testing and regular check ins is no cake walk. I am confident Probation will stay on top of this offender. There are a lot of criminal offenders who would have taken the six remaining months in jail and walked. Hopefully the treatment and accountability will have a greater impact than three hots and a cot. Remember jail time still hanging on successful completion of probation.”

RESPONSE on Mendofever from “Poe”: Shame on you Mayor Jim O Brown for commending this mockery of a sentence that proves to the public how inept the justice system is. Shame on you Mayor Jim O Brown for dismissing the victims and praising a judge who had close ties to the rapist Murray’s attorneys. Shame on you Mayor Jim O Brown for allowing the disgraceful UPD to continue to cost the taxpayer of Ukiah millions of dollars in payout to victims who suffered at the hands of the officers at UPD. Shame on you Mayor Jim O Brown for your ignorant statements about this sentence. You are so removed from the game you have no idea what this sentence does to every victim of sexual violence. Shame on you Mayor Jim O Brown for continuously supporting abusers and sexual predators, supporting promotions of these scum who have proven themselves to be worthless good ol boys. Shame on you Mayor Jim O Brown for not holding anyone within your sphere accountable including your fellow council member. The sheer ineptitude to keep an agency functioning to ‘Protect and Serve’. Instead, promotions, retirements, and quiet payouts are all at the cost of the people who you charm at your local hangout spilling lies and ‘misunderstandings’. Isn’t enough, enough? When do you face yourself in the mirror and realize you are the problem? Do not be fooled people, the way probation is today, which will likely be moved to his county of residence, will be nothing in comparison to the jail sentence. Shame on you Mayor Jim O Brown, this is not leadership this is the problem. I hope the people in the community wake up and vote you, your council members, the District Attorney, and his liege as well as the Bench who has lost all sense of justice out at their next opportunity. Shame on you Mayor Jim O Brown, you knew what was happening and you held no one accountable.

Was it you or your predecessor that knew one of your officers was being assaulted by a cop and did nothing to show support, instead you dismissed her claims and supported her abuser? Nice narrative.

Shame on every cop that supports this sentence or Mayor Jim O Brown. This behavior shows people that there is no accountability even if the victim is one of your own in your agency or another. There are amazing law enforcement officers in this county, and those of you that are, you deserve better and should demand better.

Shame to you Mayor Jim O Brown, you are a disgrace.”

TRENT JAMES then says that Mr. Brown “obviously doesn’t know anything about probation,” because, as James notes, very few people actually go to prison for violating probation these days. James also says he suspects that Mr. Brown is a fake/made-up name by an insider on the case rather than a rather transparent attempt to justify what is obviously a sweetheart deal for Murray.

Surprisingly, former deputy and former probation officer James wasn’t aware that Jim Brown is a retired Chief Probation Officer for Mendocino County who currently sits on the Ukiah City Council. So James missed a chance to compound his complaints by observing that a sitting Ukiah City Councilman who ought to know about probation defends the Murray deal — a deal that the Ukiah City Council on which he sits undermined by approving a $250k payout to one of Murray’s victims before charges were even filed. 

LT. GEN XAVIER BRUNSON said Tuesday that young people are too fat, weak or criminally disposed to qualify for the Army. Recruitment numbers are way down as only 23 percent meet basic cannon fodder standards. The general revealed that the 2022 recruit goal of 485,000 was short by 20,000.

BACK to the National Affairs desk. The Brits new Conservative Party prime minister, Liz Truss, says she models herself on Margaret Thatcher, and that her first order of business is to lower taxes, this in a country where ordinary citizens are facing an 80 percent increase in their energy bills. In fairness to Daughter of Thatcher, she said she is contemplating a price freeze, while millions of Europeans contemplate simply freezing as Putin puts the literal screws to their winter fuel. 

INDEPENDENT COAST OBSERVER EDITOR, Chris McManus bemoaned the nearly 30 years the town of Gualala has been working on a simple downtown “streetscape” project in last Thursday’s ICO editorial. The latest delay is an August 2022 decision by the Coastal Commission denying approval of an amendment to the Gualala Town Plan. In the past, the loss of some on-street parking was a sticking point for some downtown businesses. 

NARROWLY SPEAKING, this ridiculously long process is of interest primarily to the South Coast. But looking to the north coast and the former G-P mill site, we wonder: If a simple streetscape project on the South Coast can’t get approved in almost 30 years, how long will it take for anything to be done at the G-P mill site? The Gualala project is fairly simple with seemingly minor issues. But the abandoned mill site now involves a prickly bunch of wealthy railroad/tourist attraction owners, some equally prickly local critics, the unbending city council, the coastal commission, the public utilities commission, the courts, the state toxic substances control bureaucracy, several lawyers and others including the opinionated public at large in the area. Let’s just say that we don’t expect anything to happen at the mill site in the lifetimes of anyone now living.

(Mark Scaramella)

JUDY VALADAO : “Fort Bragg is the hub for most services on the coast from Gualala to Rockport. How is it possible to supply services/grocery shopping/medical without growth? Next time the power is out or there is an emergency such as fires take a look around at the empty shelves in the grocery stores, the long lines (that actually are blocks long) no rooms available at motels and Parks are filled up. Add on top of that a little person slithering around trying to shut down one of very attractions that bring income into our businesses. Ukiah has grown over the years in order to serve all those depending on services from the outlying areas. Fort Bragg will have to do the same in order to serve everyone. Without growth Fort Bragg will continue on a downhill slide. New businesses, jobs and housing are badly needed in Fort Bragg and if the Mill property/Train can supply that. More power to them.”

DON CRUSER downsized his umbrage at TWK'S broad-brush swipe at County employees, of which TWK was once one: 

“I admit that I did over react and felt a little bad about it. On the other hand, even if he is trying to be funny when he is putting down county employees during a labor action he is taking sides and that is an opinion. You might have noticed that he failed to make any jokes about Carmel and her $360,000/yr salary. I have had many interactions with county employees and have always found them to be capable and conscientious about doing their job and meeting my needs. One thing that is happening in the county is in order to save money they are not filling vacant positions which means the employees left have to do more for less. My brother-in-law has just retired from the County Road Crew. He has been in charge of the Point Arena area and hasn’t had a full crew for years. Right now the point Arena yard is being shut down and the Boonville yard will cover the south coast. More for less. For what it is worth my brother-in-law was nearly killed on the job on two occasions. Once when he was called out in the middle of the night to monitor the roads during one of those big windy storms. A big cypress tree blew over, clipping the back of his truck. A half a second difference in position and the truck would have been crushed. Another time he was flagging for road work here on my own Little River Airport Road. While standing behind his truck with its flashing light and holding a stop sign some old guy comes up the road about 40 mph, sees nothing, and smashes into the back of the truck. My brother-in-law dove to get out of the way and his foot was clipped by the oncoming vehicle. The closeness of getting crushed between the two vehicles haunted him for several months. These county workers deserve a living wage and don’t need some crackpot from Cleveland making fun of them when they ask for it. Thanks for allowing me to expand on the situation.

I'VE ENJOYED the lists of memorable books submitted by AVA readers who, as we will all agree, are highly literate and muy sophistico. From the submissions, it's clear us Americanos are pretty much on the same page, although there were quite a few authors and books I hadn't heard of, and a couple I regret leaving off my list — Norman Mailer's Executioner's Song and John Updike's Rabbit books, listed by Matt LaFever as among his faves. Mine, too. Mailer's The Armies of the Night and Oswald's Tale are especially memorable, as are his essays like The White Negro which, in these fervidly censorious times would be certain to be condemned by the illiberal liberals. (cf BIPOC, Fort Bragg branch) 

AND I WAS SURPRISED and delighted at reader Nathan Duffy's inclusion of the book by the great prison reformer and long-time warden at San Quentin, Clinton Duffy. As a native of Marin, I remember when Duffy was warden and remember two neighbors, Joe Weiss, who worked at the prison and eventually rose in the state's prison bureaucracy, and another neighbor, a man named Barker, a rather frightening, angry figure, who was a guard at Alcatraz. In the late forties and early fifties, when a prisoner was missing, San Quentin emitted a blood-curdling siren that could be heard for miles, and when there was an execution — Duffy was opposed to capital punishment — puffs of the smoke from the presumed lethal chemicals used to kill the condemned — could be seen rising from the prison's building where the gas chamber was located.

MY SECOND SURPRISE was the omission of anything by Phillip Roth, my fave being American Pastoral, and all you Hunter Thompson fans who haven't read his Rum Diaries you're missing his best book. One more recommendation, the truly great Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (which was on The Major’s list).

ELEANOR COONEY suggested a list of books we hated. I once read all the way through Ayn Rand's Fountainhead on the recommendation of a guy named Jim Perkins, brother of the actress Millie Perkins in an odd coincidence, who said it was not only a must read but the greatest book ever written. He was so excited about it, and so insistent every time I saw him, I read it all the way through, mentally kicking myself the whole way, “Why the hell am I reading this stupid, crude, fascist tract disguised in the see-through worst prose since Harold Robbins.” I still kick myself for that one. 

THE GOOD NEWS: Little Mike McGuire, believed to be a state senator representing this area — I've never seen anybody in his alleged office in the eerie, subterranean gloom of the Ukiah Convention Center — has introduced a bill to bury power lines. Atta boy, Mike. 

IF PG&E hadn't owned the state legislature since its inception, power lines throughout the state would have been buried years ago. Boonville, btw, has been on the powerline burial list for years while, uh, less deserving communities like Ackerville (Elk), Hopland and, of all places, Gualala, have had their power lines safely buried and outta sight for years.

SAM KIRCHER: A few years back, I was laid up in a hospital in Uruapan, Michoacán, for what turned out to be a kidney stone. This was a private, for profit hospital, not the Cruz Verde, ISSSTE, IMSS, nor any other single-payer centro de salud.

Their prices were posted at the reception area. I spent a night in decent, if dated accommodations, replete with fluids, food, labs, ultrasound, radiology, and medication. Out the door the next morning for $600. Everyone from the doctor to the shower scrubber made their daily bread.

Back home, my “Cadillac” health plan ($1700 per month for a family of four) shares cryptic “explanations of benefits” where they would lead me to believe that my wife’s routine outpatient procedure was whittled down from $40,000 to $12,000 by the saving grace of the insurer.

It’s a racket for sure, and the patient is relegated to doesn’t need to know status. Some fraudulent price gouging sausage is surely being made when providers and insurers stain the sheets together. Even if we saw it up front, the sticker price would only serve to have us kneel at the altar of Blue Cross/Shield and be grateful to take our medicine.

TOTALLY AT A LOSS, San Francisco has been reduced to asking for suggestions on what to do about the homeless and the perhaps even more numerous free range drug people, the latter now a common sight shooting up and stumbling around on city streets. 

OPINIONS on what to do range from flame throwers to mass arrests to bus tickets to Portland to humane but vague strategies heavy on wishful thinking for creating housing and drug treatment. 

LONDON BREED, SF's feckless mayor, is running neck and neck with Oakland's Libby Schaff for the Bay Area's least effective leader trophy. 

BREED has conceded that Frisco's failed, tax-funded open-air drugs market will close — not now but at the end of the year while she simultaneously announced the identical “San Francisco Recovers” plan, featuring “supervised consumption sites where drug users can safely use substances under medical supervision to prevent accidental overdose deaths.”

THE MODIFIED OPEN AIR DRUG PLAN will include “electronically-tagging users and having police officers track them down and confiscate their drugs if they wander into known drug-dealing areas.” 

SF's Breed-cloned supervisors want “job placement and training instead of imprisonment for those who agree to stop drug dealing, and “right to recovery” zones near treatment centers, with “zero tolerance for possession or dealing,” plus “supervised drug consumption sites.” 

SUPERVISOR DORSEY, who represents some of the worst drug-infested and homeless-heavy areas of the central city, declared, “This is a way that nobody's going to jail but we're doing an effective job of interrupting the drug market and drug scenes.” And he wasn't joking.

I THINK of the pointless, expensive, public-hostile "safety" remodel of the Supervisor's chambers as The James Marmon Project because I'm pretty sure former CEO Angelo had Marmon in mind when she unilaterally approved the expenditure of some $430,000, not including staff time, for the alleged security re-do. 

ANGELO was the major benefactress of Camille Schraeder, boss of an array of the County's privatized social services; Schraeder, who also has a court order restraining the Clearlaker biker from allegedly menacing her. Marmon is a former County social worker fired for doing a conscientious job as a CPS worker, and given that he's large, bearded and rhetorically belligerent, and given that Angelo doesn't seem to care much for males as a human species, having created a kind of gyno-centric administrative apparatus to rule the rudderless County of Mendo… Well, Marmon served her, and still serves Schraeder, as a catch-all boogeyman.

THE “SAFETY” GLASS and metal detectors in the Supe's chambers remind me of former Supervisor Jim Wattenburger who was revealed as carrying a handgun to Supe's meetings because “hippies” were threatening him. These are difficult times for the paranoids, menace everywhere.

A GROUP calling itself “Marin Freedom Rising” is sponsoring several candidates on the November 2022 ballot, hoping to gain seats on several public school boards and town councils. They're a Trump front group which thinks vaccines and the science around deadly viruses is some kind of conspiracy to kill Americans. They say they aim to graft themselves onto every school board and town council in Marin. So far, there's no Mendo Freedom Rising, but they're out there, fer shure, fer shure.

ANDREW SCULLY (in response to a Coast Chat Line comment): 

Now as far as the phone service and AT&T and such:

You raised an interesting point about the fragility of our phone infrastructure, particularly the cell system in rural areas. You state that in many rural areas landlines are the only means of communication, especially in an emergency.

You're right. What many people may not realize is that your comment is equally valid and true in urban areas.

Rural, urban, exurban, or in outer space, a landline is more reliable and solid than cell. Cellular phone service is usually overwhelmed and swamped first thing out of the box in any emergency event. It doesn't matter where you are. In fact a person in a "far-flung" area may have cell service longer in an emergency event then a person in a heavily populated urban area.

Here's a news flash for everybody:

The cell phone infrastructure is vulnerable everywhere. Not just in rural areas, but equally if not more so in urban areas. Ask anybody that's been in any large area with a lot of people in any "event".

If more than about 2% of those people pick up the phone at any one time that whole system goes down right now.

Landlines are the only solid means and best line of communication in an emergency. Not perfect. Not 100%. But better than cell service.

Rural, urban or non-binary.

BEST FOOTBALL POEM EVER

Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio

by James Wright

In the Shreve High football stadium,

I think of Polacks nursing long beers in Tiltonsville,

And gray faces of Negroes in the blast furnace at Benwood,

And the ruptured night watchman of Wheeling Steel,

Dreaming of heroes.

All the proud fathers are ashamed to go home.

Their women cluck like starved pullets,

Dying for love.

Therefore,

Their sons grow suicidally beautiful

At the beginning of October,

And gallop terribly against each other's bodies.

A BART STORY. On the Pittsburgh/Bay Point BART this morning, I notice a man crouching down and trying to grab something off the floor. I look closer and see that he is trying to catch a moth that has somehow gotten onto the train. At West Oakland Station, he shoos the moth out the door. I walk over and tell him how nice of him it was to do that. He shrugs and says, “It’s probably the most important thing I'll do all day.”

—Mona Irwin

ON LINE COMMENTS OF THE WEEK

[1] We had this kid in HS, quit school when he was 16, got a job, bought a Plymouth Duster. He souped it up, once told me the car was pushing 400 bhp. I believe it because he could burn rubber for about two hundred feet.

It was a sweet car, dark green, dual exhausts, 4 on the floor, stock bucket seats out of the showroom.

He was always laying down rubber in front of the High School. I said to him “You’re at school now more than when you were a student here.”

[2] THE POT MARKET, an on-line comment: 

Both markets are and have been broken for a while now.. legal farms were hoping for a life without fear of the raids for their kids sake. That doesn’t matter to the hypocrisy that is our government. They over regulate and over tax and over permit until the implosion happens, then seek new revenue by going after what’s left of the industry. They cry these raid/inspections are over water when there’s no one left in the hills. Between big ag and global warming our rivers are never coming back… if any legal farms are back footing flower it’s out of necessity to feed their families at this point and neither market is paying shit. The cannabis haters can hate as they always have but the reality is that real good people and families are being hurt badly right now. The state agencies are power drunk and the ego trip is going to get a class action lawsuit as they continue to break laws and push boundaries. This is a legal industry , with people who give back far more than any one gives them credit for .. just wait for the lack of trickle down taxes hit this year . Government at all levels has a financial awakening coming as well. Good luck to all on both sides of the market

[3] Have you ever noticed that whenever someone dies at home (or in a castle) they are said to have “died peacefully in their sleep?” Nobody ever dies in great pain and scared shitless of the state of non-existence that comes next?

[4] I feel so stinkin’ sorry for the police. Even if you hate 'em, they have to be around people that make most people gag . I’m not talking about dirty or smelly, I’m not talking about angry, violent dirt bags, I’m talking about creeps that make creeps cringe.

I used to work with parole and probation, and what those people have to deal with, made my caseload look like the glee club. That’s why police don’t like talking about work after work, because it kills their very soul seeing the pinnacle of human's lack of dignity, morals, etc.

That’s why police have a sick sense of humor because seeing shit, getting no respect, and seeing the same dirtbags day in and out. 

Anyway, I’m glad I ain’t no officer, even gladder, is I back the badge, not some of the dumb laws they need to enforce. But the people behind the badge, even if I don’t like the cop, it’s the badge I show respect to.

So, be nice to an officer, I try and wave at 1 at least every 10th patrol car I see. Not for them, cause most hate my criminal arse, but for me. 

Waving is a means to remind myself, I’m getting older, life is sacred, those poor bastards see the shit so I can sleep like a baby.

So although it fun to say fuck the police, in reality it’s praise these men because their job is a calling that sucks

[5] I watched a Frontline documentary on what led up to the 9/11 attack. It was interesting because Frontline is lauded to be a most respected reporting news program awarded notability for their accuracy in the researching of truths with evidence to back up all of their reporting. Bottom-line is (we) our Government has always had a hand in encouraging attacks on our Country. Part of the report started with why the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, how we got into the Korean Conflict and of course Vietnam, which was a part of my military experience and has been with me ever since and a number of worldwide conflicts since. When I go to the SFVAMC for medical help and I see the young men (I’m sure there are many women although I don’t see as many) in wheel chairs without arms and legs, missing eyes and carrying burns struggling to exist I am harkened back to the Frontline reporting and I wonder how much of ALL of this did we brought on ourselves. And now I see a war I never thought I would see. The war amongst ourselves. As I enter my twilight years I am ever so saddened to live day to day in a country that has been reduced to lives chasing the almighty dollar and the ME generation. Is it too late to turn this around?

(6) Something that could conceivably return after things have settled down (if ever) is the family getting together around the piano or whatever instrument someone could play. It was a feature of every Christmas and family event as a child, and these are some of my fondest memories. Children alive now will, for the most part, remember staring into their iPhones as the predominant feature of their childhoods. I don’t think it will give them any comfort.

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