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Mendocino County Today: January 27, 2013

THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA'S Environmental Protection Agency is poised to list the compound, bisphenol A, a common component of plastics, as harmful to fetuses and infants. Manufacturers would have to include warning labels on products with hazardous amounts of BPA.

COMMENT OF THE DAY: There has been a series of revelations about the hazards of chemical components of plastics that build up in our bodies from food and drink that has been in contact with plastic materials in original packaging or storage containers. Some of these hazards, like BPA, are better known than others, but the list of plastics that are considered safe for contact with food and beverages is getting shorter and shorter. It's quite plausible that revelations of hazards will be forthcoming for more plastics, including those currently considered safe. Given all of this, it seems reasonable to take a guilty-until-proven-innocent perspective with respect to plastics in contact with food and drink. This is part of the larger highly disturbing reality that, for the first time in human history, our bodies carry a wide range of chemical contaminants. In addition to chemicals from plastics, this includes pesticides, flame retardants, ingredients from beauty products, gasoline additives, components of non-stick cookware and others. Over 200 different chemicals have been found to reside in our bodies. The consequences are unknown. I don't remember signing up to be a guinea pig. Do you? (Anon)

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SHERIFF TOM ALLMAN belongs to an outback police organization called the Constitutional Sheriffs and Police Officers Association. Its membership consists of conservative rural cops, of which there are no other kind. The Southern Poverty Law Center is housed in a huge new building sitting on a huge endowment derived from scared people who fear the Klan will ride again. Which it might given the terror inspired in dumb white guys (white women are more, ah, centered) by the abrupt changes in the American demographic, what with blacks, browns, same-sexers, and gun-grabbing liberals not only having “taken over the country,” they got one of their own damn selves elected President! And when Obama’s over, these people are gonna shove Hillary down our throats! Hell, we can’t all move to Redding or Idaho.

ANYWAY, the Southern Poverty Law Center says the Constitutional Sheriffs and Police Officers Association is an “anti-government, patriot group,” which is vague unto meaninglessness, and applies just as well to everyone to the left of Obama, not only the camo mobs of slo-mo white boys waving American flags.

AllmanTestifiesSHERIFF ALLMAN grew up in Southern Humboldt County as HumCo was being transformed by hippie back-to-the-landers. The hippies brought the marijuana industry to the Northcoast when the hippies without trust funds realized they had to have some kind of income if they hoped to make full moon boogies a way of life. The Sheriff probably grew up with guns, but he also grew up with the first wave hippies who had a liberalizing effect up and down the Coast until Crescent City, where liberalization stopped at the city limits. Like most Americans, Allman is liberal on some issues — he’s positively avant garde on pot — conservative on others. He’s also a cop, and cops, almost without exception, believe deep in their bones that there’s them and then there’s the scumbags, i.e, everyone who isn’t a cop. Cops believe in guns, especially for them.

THE WAHOO organization of rural cops the Sheriff belongs to says it will not enforce any new laws that attempt gun control. That’s a radical stance any way you cut it since cops swear an oath to uphold the laws of the land. It’s also a stance that’s not reality based. I mean really, do these guys really think they might be ordered to confiscate certain guns? Or any guns at all from law-abiding citizens? The gun horse is so far out of the barn it’s clear over the Canadian border. Cops might be directed to arrest gun dealers who are selling automatic weapons and military ammo clips, but even that’s a long shot, a very long shot. Military-style weapons probably won’t even be banned at the federal level given the influence of the gun lobby and the cowardice of our officeholders, but any cop who thinks it’s a good idea that these guns go unregulated is a cop who doesn’t work in an urban area.

ALLMAN told the Press Democrat, “Just because I'm a member of an organization doesn't mean I believe everything they say.” He also said he didn’t think the federal government should “micro-manage what we do.” Allman told the paper he would not seize guns if he were ordered to, an eventuality unlikely to ever occur, and if it were to occur it would be carried out by federal marshals or some other militarized arm of the federal government, at which time we would be in full civil war.

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT’S wacky “What If” story on the Sheriff did contain an interesting statistic. “Last year, Mendocino County gun stores sold 4,249 pistols, shotguns and rifles. As of December, more than 1,200 residents had permits to carry concealed weapons. By comparison, Sonoma County gun stores sold 9,965 firearms. Residents had just 77 permits.” (Sonoma County population is about 488,000; Mendo is about 90,000. Sonoma County has about five times the population but sold about twice as many guns, and about 6% of the concealed carry permits.)

SAN FRANCISCO issued exactly one concealed weapon permit last year. The Sonoma County and Frisco gun stats mean that the closer you get to the city the more sensible law enforcement is about gun control. Urban cops say the fewer guns in circulation the better because they often get shot at.

ALLMAN’S MOST SENSIBLE statement on the gun issue was to point out that in far-flung Mendocino County many people live far from police help. Lots of rural residents keep guns out of the realistic fear that their safety might well depend on their ability to defend themselves while they wait for the cops to appear.

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Graves
Graves

MATTHEW GRAVES of Laytonville was in the Mendocino County Courthouse Friday morning facing charges that he had violated his probation by having a marijuana grow on his Bell Springs property. Mr. Graves has been on probation since his sensational marijuana trial two years ago when a jury acquitted him of all the charges but one, a felon in possession of ammunition. Since that near-acquittal, no marijuana cultivation cases have gone to trial in Mendocino County. His grow was the biggest on record at the time, and the feeling at the DA's Office seems to be that Mendocino juries are no longer inclined to convict marijuana growers in Mendocino County. The federal prosecutors, however, are going to pursue the case against Matt Graves and he has a court date set for March 5th in Federal Court in San Francisco.

MENDOCINO COUNTY DA David Eyster told Judge Leonard LaCasse that he, Eyster, would wait and see what the federal court decided before taking any action against Graves. Defense attorney Keith Faulder, who won the original case against Mr. Graves, said that Graves had leased the property to a third party whose medical marijuana was legal in every respect, but that he, Faulder, did not represent Graves at the Federal level. “My suits are from the Men's Warehouse,” Faulder joked. “And you have to have Brooks Brothers suits to work in a federal courthouse.” But, seriously, he added, “The rules are much different; and the penalties much harsher in federal court. Mr. Graves will be represented by attorney Elizabeth Falk of San Francisco in the federal case.

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Osborne
Osborne

ALSO IN COURT Friday morning was Charles Merritt Osborne, who has retained defense attorney Justin Petersen. Mr. Osborne was supposed to set a trial date, but he needed a few more days to come up with the amount of money Mr. Petersen requires for a retainer. Judge LaCasse was reluctant to grant the continuance to Tuesday, January 29th because the trial has been postponed so many times already, and Osborne has gone through so many lawyers. “It's time to either fish or cut bait,” LaCasse said irritably. The judge retired two years ago to devote more time to flyfishing, but he gets called in when other judges are absent, as was the case this week with Judge John Behnke, who has been on sick leave this week.

AT MR. OSBORNE'S PRELIMINARY HEARING it was revealed that Osborne had tried to buy a large quantity of marijuana with counterfeit money on a side road just outside of Piercy (in northern Mendocino County near the Humboldt County Line) the night of June 17, 2011. One of the growers held a $100 bill up to the headlights and saw that it was counterfeit; guns were drawn, shots were fired and Osborne fled with the marijuana in a brown Range Rover. Mr. Petersen contends that this is all rumor started by an anonymous phone call, but what is known is that a high-speed chase ensued down Highway 101 with speeds topping 100 mph in places. A rookie CHP Officer (Talbot) had tried to throw a spike strip in front of the Range Rover, but hit the wrong car by mistake. A seasoned Willits PD officer threw a spike strip further along — down by the Weighing Station north Willits — and after his vehicle was disabled, Osborne fled on foot. When Officer Talbot arrived he parked his patrol car and went after the fugitive who was thought to have gone into a field nearby. “I noticed that the cows in that field were not spooked and from my experience on farms, I figured the subject was hiding in some blackberry brambles by the fence. I drew my weapon and ordered him to come out, and sure enough, he did.”

JUDGE LaCASSE was incredulous that Osborne would have money on Tuesday that he did not have on Friday. The judge said, “I find it hard to believe — unless you are expecting some large dividend check from General Motors or something like that — that you can't afford a lawyer today, but that you can next Tuesday.” Mr. Petersen explained that his client's finances were complex, but that the money would be there on Tuesday.  It was also revealed at the prelim that Mr. Osborne had a rapsheet containing some questionable financial dealings in Los Angeles County, where he lives. Judge LaCasse ordered Osborne to see if he qualified for the public defender before he left the courthouse, so that he would not have the excuse of not having counsel when he returned on Tuesday to set a trial date.

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MEMBERS of the Mendocino Defense Bar, mostly public defenders, are demonstrating their angst at the looming dismissal of Deputy DA Rayburn Killion, who is being “let go” for performance reasons. The defense lawyers, however, contend that Mr. Killion is not a zealous enough believer in what they perceive as DA David Eyster's holy conviction rate. But if the defense lawyers are saddened and disgruntled by Mr. Killion's pending departure, the many women who work at the courthouse are absolutely devastated. Ray Killion, a superbly fit and trim gent of about six-three and slightly under 200 pounds of lean meat, is known as The Courthouse Hunk by this group and there has been much figurative dumping of ashes on heads and metaphorical tearing of hair at the prospect of his absence.

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Ms. Bruce has changed her look several times during her multiple bookings over the last few years
Ms. Bruce has changed her look several times during her multiple bookings over the last few years

JESSICA BRUCE was sentenced last week to a total of four years in state prison for the transportation of cocaine, and seriously injuring someone, her co-defendant, while attempting to evade a police officer last November. Ms. Bruce apparently made a high-speed getaway attempt, rolled her vehicle and her passenger severely injured his shoulder in the crash. This was a plea bargain and as such, the details of the case did not emerge in open court. Talking to the defendants or prosecution is useless in these cases, because the latter tend to exaggerate the nature of the crime and the former will always minimize their guilt or culpability. The truth can only be guessed at, and so the parties “stipulate to a factual basis.”

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BLISS FISHER, the Mendocino County Director of Animal Care, has resigned. She has been out on administrative leave for the past several months. Ms. Fisher succeeded the inanimate Greg Foss who had been roundly criticized by animal rights activists as quick to implement the final solution for stray animals. Ms. Fisher succeeded in winning the confidence of the disparate animal rights groups but apparently offended the tender sensibilities of the people she supervised. The final straw seems to have been Ms. Fisher sharing candid shots with a subordinate of her topless self at Burning Man. (Burning Man began as a celebration of the creative arts by genuinely creative artists but has since become a mob scene dominated by untalented artists and as many sexual exhibitionists, the whole show convened annually in the environmentally sensitive Nevada desert.) There is no allegation that Ms. Fisher suggested or attempted anything untoward, and it is hard to believe that another adult female would be all that distressed at her supervisor's breasts. But the photo of the topless Bliss became the catalyst for a series of complaints and an investigation ensued that documented other princess and the pea type transgressions allegedly committed by Ms. Fisher. County higher-ups are said to have wanted Ms. Fisher to stay based on her success in quieting the animal rights activists, but a majority of her subordinates were said to be adamantly opposed to her continued supervision of their work.

THE FATE of Ms. Fisher aside, the whole episode seems to reinforce an unhealthy pattern at the Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) of which animal care is a small part. Subordinates and rivals have learned that they can off their supervisors and/or rivals by filing complaints and getting enough co-workers to sign on to the complaints. HHSA dutifully investigates the complaints, often putting the target out on administrative leave, where they are paid to do nothing pending the outcome of the investigation. But once the investigation is complete no decision is made. Two well regarded members of the social services upper echelon were put on admin leave last year based on allegations from a member of the fiscal team that they'd mismanaged a couple of grants. The County shelled out big bucks for an investigator from San Diego, of all places, there apparently being no one else between San Diego and Seattle who could perform the task. Once the investigation was complete the County sat on the results, which have still not been disclosed. After several months of limbo (and collecting high dollar salaries for doing nothing) both of the higher-ups took jobs elsewhere. So the County spent a bunch of money on admin leave and the investigation, two highly regarded employees left under a cloud, and there was no resolution of the beef. We are told that some highly qualified HHSA employees refuse to apply for administrative job openings that they qualify for because they don't want to risk being hung out to dry like so many before them.

AS WE REPORTED last week, Bliss Fisher, director of Mendocino County's Animal Care Services, has now officially resigned. She's been on administrative leave since September.

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ArmenianPotGrowersADD ARMENIANS to Mendocino County's international roster of marijuana entrepreneurs. These two guys join ethnic Russians, Bulgarians, Chinese, Spaniards, Italians, Irish, Jewish, and English nationals arrested over the past five years for variations on the pot theme.

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3 Comments

  1. Jennifer Poole January 27, 2013

    amen to comment of the week. and it’s not just “our” bodies, here’s a UK Guardian 1/24/13 piece regarding new study finds 1/3 of fish caught in English Channel have tiny “microbeads” of plastic in their digestive systems

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/jan/24/fish-channel-plastic-contamination

    and here’s a 1/26/13 piece from the Anchorage Daily News (with evocative photo), entitled: “Is plastic a part of declining salmon returns?”

    http://www.adn.com/2013/01/26/2766940/hometown-u-is-plastic-a-part-of.html#storylink=cpy

  2. John Sakowicz January 27, 2013

    Dear Editors:

    Thank you for today’s post about bisphenol A, a common component of plastics, which the State of California is now declaring “harmful to fetuses and infants.”

    Add bisphenol A to a long list of compounds found in plastics that are toxic, many of which find their way into the human food chain via the degradation of marine plastic debris.

    As I posted to the 22 January “Mendocino Today” blog, the prevention and clean up of marine plastic debris is an issue near and dear to my family’s heart. My sons, Ryan and Austin, have both sailed with Project Kaisei, whose mission is to research the reclamation and remediation of the Plastic Vortex.

    In fact, both sons were recognized by proclamations by the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors for this work.

    The Plastic Vortex is a gyre of marine litter in the central North Pacific Ocean located roughly between 135°W to 155°W and 35°N and 42°N. It extends over an indeterminate area, with estimates ranging very widely depending on the degree of plastic concentration used to define the affected area.

    My sons tell me the Plastic Vortex is characterized by exceptionally high concentrations of pelagic plastics, chemical sludge, and other debris that have been trapped by the currents of the North Pacific Gyre.

    Despite its size and density, the Plastic Vortex is not visible from satellite photography, since it consists primarily of suspended particulates in the upper water column. Since plastics break down to even smaller polymers, concentrations of submerged particles are not visible from space, nor do they appear as a continuous debris field. Instead, the Plastic Vortex is defined as an area in which the mass of plastic debris in the upper water column is significantly higher than average.

    Not being visible makes the Plastic Vortex especially dangerous, because it is not generally perceived as a public health threat. However, plastic marine debris degrades and breaks down into tiny confetti-sized pieces.

    Unlike organic debris, which biodegrades, the photodegraded plastic disintegrates into ever smaller pieces while remaining a polymer. This process continues down to the molecular level.

    Yup, you read right. The molecular level. Where it poisons fish in our food chain.
    As the plastic flotsam photodegrades into smaller and smaller pieces, it concentrates in the upper water column. As it disintegrates, the plastic ultimately becomes small enough to be ingested by aquatic organisms that reside near the ocean’s surface. In this way, plastic may become concentrated in neuston, thereby entering the food chain.

    Some plastics decompose within a year of entering the water, leaching potentially toxic chemicals such as bisphenol A, PCBs, and derivatives of polystyrene…all nasty, nasty stuff.

    I chose to focus on Kendall’s work in this area.

    An estimated 80% of the plastic garbage that gets broken down comes from land-based sources and 20% from ships. Throw a plastic gallon milk jug off the Golden Gate Bridge, and it eventually finds its way to the Plastic Vortex.
    Meanwhile, ship-generated pollution is also a source of concern, since a typical 3,000-passenger cruise ship produces over eight tons of solid waste weekly, a major amount of which ends up in the Plastic Vortex.

    Plastic garbage ranges in size from abandoned fishing nets to micro-pellets used in abrasive cleaners. Currents carry debris from the west coast of North America to the gyre in about six years, and debris from the east coast of Asia in a year or less.

    An international research project led by Dr. Hideshige Takada of Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology studying plastic pellets, or nurdles, from beaches around the world may provide further clues about the origins of plastic garbage (also called “pelagic plastic” by researchers).

    We can prevent this problem. We can fix this problem.

    Knowing that former Mendocino County Supervisor, Kendall Smith, got a resolution passed at the National Association of Counties that commits all the states on the West Coast to strong environmental measures makes me happy.

    As a member of the Environment, Energy and Land Use Committee, Kendall Smith introduced the item to the full Committee.

    This was a collaborative proposal involving the states of Washington, Oregon, Hawaii, and California. These Western states were pleased that after introduction and discussion, the Committee vote to support this timely resolution was unanimous. The resolution was then approved as official NACo policy by the full voting membership at the Annual Business Meeting.

    The resolution gives national policy support to local jurisdictions, states, and federal agencies to advocate for enhanced resources for marine debris cleanup, including tsunami debris, and support for passage of local bans on single-use plastic bags.

    Again, the resolution may be found on the NACo website. Additionally, recent press coverage on the growing tsunami debris problem is included. Interested persons will find this information useful especially as it relates to pending or future legislation and as an advocacy tool to assist in funding strategies for marine protection efforts.

    Interested persons may also contact NACo directly for additional information. You may contact also contact Kendall Smith directly.

    Readers of the AVA should be thankful to NACo for its historical and future support for marine habitat protection efforts, including the acknowledgment to the significant challenges marine debris presents to local government.

    See the following link for the NACo resolution : http://www.naco.org/newsroom/countynews/Current%20Issue/8-6-12/Pages/ResolutionssetNACopolicyagendaforcomingyear.asp

    Also see Project Kaisei for more information about cleaning up our oceans: http://www.projectkaisei.org/index.aspx

    Thank you.

    John Sakowicz
    Ukiah,CA

  3. John January 28, 2013

    ” It’s also a stance that’s not reality based. I mean really, do these guys really think they might be ordered to confiscate certain guns? Or any guns at all from law-abiding citizens? ”

    You sound like Baghdad Bob.

    “the Americans were thrown back into the sea by the great Iraqi army led by our great leader Hussein”

    What will you say when d’won(o’communist) really orders confiscation?
    You were one of the fools telling people that d’won would never attack the 2nd amendment.
    We were told before this last (s)election,, by the likes of you, that the idea that the messiah would defecate upon our inalienable 2nd amendment rights was only a construct of the right wingers trying to scare us. D’won loves this country, and wants us all to get along.

    Don’t ask a gun owner to help you when it is finally revealed to you that which will be brought forth by this tyrannical federal embarrassment. F you!!!!

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