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Mendocino County Today: February 7, 2013

HUMBOLDT MAN ARRESTED for Threats in Spy Rock School Lockdown Case


As posted previously ( by Kym Kemp (originally on, a Humboldt County man, Kevin Foster, was wanted for allegedly making threats that resulted in the lockdown of Spy Rock School in Mendocino. Foster, age 45 of Fortuna, was arrested Tuesday, Feb 12. According to Lt. Greg Van Patten of the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department, Foster appears to have turned himself in and has been currently released on a $20,000 bail. Van Patten was also able to give some more details about the original situation. He said that on January 19th, Foster’s dog was shot while allegedly in the act of chasing chickens on the property of the victim of the threats (Tim Henry). Wounded, the dog returned towards home. Mr. Henry followed it and informed the people there what had happened. Foster then took his dog to a vet’s office where it died. According to Van Patten, Foster subsequently made multiple threats to Henry by text and by voicemail. Eventually, on January 23rd, Foster made a call to Spy Rock School that was answered by a student helping out. Mr. Foster is then alleged to have made statements to the student that resulted in the school being locked down until law enforcement determined that Foster was in Humboldt County and not in the vicinity of the school. Van Patten says that the “totality” of the threats were what led to a warrant being issued for Foster’s arrest. (Kym Kemp, Courtesy, Lost Coast Outpost)


THE POSTAL SERVICE says it will stop delivering mail on Saturdays but continue to deliver packages six days a week.

The Saturday mail cutback would begin in August.


RECOMMENDED READING: “Legendary Locals of the Mendonoma Coast” by Tammy Durston. Ms. Durston was raised in Annapolis just south of the Mendocino-Sonoma county line but attended schools in Point Arena where she became interested in the history of the South Coast and the vivid characters who made that history. Every photograph in the book is accompanied by a capsule history of the persons depicted, and those persons are as diverse a line-up as one could imagine, including everyone from Essie Parrish, a famous Pomo elder, to the pioneer hippie communards of Oz at the western end of the Manchester Road. Must reading for anyone interested in local history.

AS IS KATY TAHJA'S Images of Rail-Logging Railroads of Humboldt and Mendocino Counties. A fascinating collection of the improbably ingenious short haul rail lines that once penetrated the seemingly impenetrable forests of Humboldt and Mendocino counties. Included of course are images of the long-haul Northwestern Pacific that once ran two trains a day from Eureka to Sausalito and two daily trains north from Marin to Eureka, a transportation feat we are unlikely to ever see again on the Northcoast. It was once possible to board the Skunk Train in Fort Bragg in the morning, transfer to the southbound Northwestern Pacific at Willits, and be in San Francisco the same night. All these lines, from the longest to the shortest, were engineering marvels, and all of course were built to carry logs and lumber. The Northwestern Pacific, for instance, negotiated the Eel River Canyon which, to me anyway, commences at Willits and ends at South Fork, 95 miles of river canyon and mountains that need 30 tunnels to traverse, one of them, the Island Mountain Tunnel a mile long. Hiking the Canyon, or at least trying to, one marvels at the labor that went into the project, much of it hand labor. Equally marvelous, as Mrs. Tajha's nifty little book tells us, are the innumerable log trestles erected to get the log trains into the woods. Gazing at the old photographs it's striking that in a few short years we've gone from a country of people who could create trains that ran everywhere to a people who can't make trains run at all.


AS REPORTED EARLIER, Chris Brown, the County Air Pollution Control Officer, has been placed on administrative leave by the Board of Supervisors pending an investigation. No one at the County is willing to say on or off the record exactly what is being investigated or by whom or how long it will take. The recent history of the County suggests that the investigation will drag on for many months followed by a quiet resignation and no public explanation. Brown, who projects an air of self-importance, and who is hyper alert for real or perceived affronts to his authority, may prove to be an exception. Last year Brown slapped the County with a $108,000 fine for violation of technical reporting requirements related to a County remodeling job. Brown issued the notice of violation and immediately turned it over to the federal EPA which wound up reducing the fine to nothing provided the County can avoid another violation for two years.

THERE WERE INDICATIONS at the time that Brown was having trouble getting the County General Services Administration (GSA) to comply with routine reporting and notification requirements related to the remodel of the old Mental Health offices. The CEO and the Board of Supervisors (who also sit as the Air Quality District Board of Directors) were rumored to be upset that Brown chose to escalate a petty turf war into a major public black eye for the County instead of giving them a chance to intervene. But by turning in his employer, Brown achieved “whistleblower” status which normally insulates an employee from any threat of termination. Which brings us back to the present situation and the mystery “investigation.” Speculation is that Brown may be the subject of complaints, either from the people he regulates or from his employees.


MEANWHILE, nobody at GSA is willing to clarify the Bob West situation. A source close to one of the employees supervised by West believes that West was on vacation for three weeks, although it may have been suggested that West needed some time off. West is back, but is said to be uncharacteristically subdued, leading to speculation that he has been chastised by upper level management. The employees who work under West (landscaping, maintenance and custodial) are said to have a long list of grievances but are afraid to speak up. Which means nothing gets done to resolve the problems. West is also said to have been at the center of the turf war with Air Quality. The public would like to believe that public employees from different departments would be able to work together in a reasonable way to resolve their differences instead of squander public money on federal EPA investigations of the proverbial “not worth a hill of beans” category.


Jacqueline Audet
Jacqueline Audet

A READER REPORTS from Fort Bragg: “I saw your favorite waif at the Boat Yard shopping center in Fort Bragg this afternoon. She was with four very sketchy older males, one of whom could have been her grandfather. Also present was a large pit bull mastiff the size of a small pony. They were smoking dope in public in front of the Tobacco Store, which I guess was their idea of a good way to fool the cops. “Must be smoking Camels, Five-O; lets drive on.” Anyhow, grandpa and the pit-bull were wearing matching blue bandannas tied about their necks.


Stough, Dearing, Anderson
Stough, Dearing, Anderson

ON FEBRUARY 2, 2013, at approximately 1:03am, Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were patrolling the Noyo Harbor on Basin Street in Fort Bragg. Deputies observed a motor home parked in a permit parking area and, from prior contacts, recognized the motor home as being occupied by Walter Stough, 59, of Fort Bragg and Joni Dearing, 51, of Fort Bragg. Knowing that Dearing is on formal probation, with a search clause, the deputies contacted the occupants of the motor home. Contacted in the motor home were Walter Stough, Joni Dearing, and Jon Anderson, 59, also of Fort Bragg. A search of the motor home revealed items that indicated the occupants had been ingesting controlled substances when the deputies arrived. These items included methamphetamine smoking pipes, syringes, and approximately half a gram of methamphetamine. Jon Anderson was found to be in possession of numerous prescription drugs and items indicating that he was engaged in the illegal sale of those drugs. The drugs were seized and the listed persons were arrested and booked into the Mendocino County Jail, with charges and bail as follows: Stough was booked for possession of methamphetamine, etc.; maintaining a place for selling, giving or using drugs; possession of drug paraphernalia. Bail was set at $15,000.

Dearing was booked for possession of methamphetamine, etc.; possession of drug paraphernalia, and probation violation. Bail was set at $10,000, but was later removed and status was changed to no bail.

Anderson was booked for possession of methamphetamine for sale; possession of methamphetamine, etc.; visiting where illegal durgs are used; and possession of drug paraphernalia. Bail was set at $25,000.



Artery: The study of paintings

Bacteria: Back door to cafeteria

Barium: What doctors do when patients die

Benign: What you be, after you be eight

Caesarean Section: A neighborhood in Rome

Cat scan: Searching for Kitty

Cauterize: Made eye contact with her

Colic: A sheep dog

Coma: A punctuation mark

Dilate: To live long

Enema: Not a friend

Fester: Quicker than someone else

Fibula: A small lie

Impotent: Distinguished, well known

Labor Pain: Getting hurt at work

Medical Staff: A Doctor's cane

Morbid: A higher offer

Nitrates: Rates of Pay for Working at Night, Normally more money than Days

Node: I knew it

Outpatient: A person who has fainted

Pelvis: Second cousin to Elvis

Post Operative: A letter carrier

Recovery Room: Place to do upholstery

Rectum: Nearly killed ‘em

Secretion: Hiding something

Seizure: Roman Emperor

Tablet: A small table

Terminal Illness: Getting sick at the airport

Tumor: One plus one more

Urine: Opposite of you're out



by Will Parrish

As the first tree sit Mendocino County has seen in perhaps 13 years enters its second week, there appears little indication either that the tree sitter — who goes by the moniker The Warbler — will voluntarily relinquish her post any time soon. There is also little sign that the Mendocino County Sheriffs or California Highway Patrol plan to attempt to extract her from her perch any time soon.

Just before this piece went to deadline, The Warbler expressed her sense that the tree sit, and particularly the support it has galvanized in many quarters of the North Coast, has forced CalTrans' planners to regroup, right as they were on verge of finally beginning construction of the new six-mile superhighway through Little Lake Valley they have long coveted.

“I feel confidant CalTrans doesn't know what to do about the tree sit,” The Warbler says. “They've seen the steady support from the local community and the press attention. They seem at a loss.”

She added, “I just want to say to people through town, 'Keep the support coming.' This is how community is built, and that is exactly what CalTrans is afraid of.”

In the piece I wrote for the AVA last week, I mentioned that CalTrans had received written approval from the California Department of Fish and Game to begin “vegetation removal” — i.e., to clear-cut oak, madrone, and pine forest — along the Southern Interchange portion of the Bypass route. CalTrans Resident Engineer had touted in a letter to the California State Water Resources Control Board that he expected “a start date of +/- January 28.”

All that CalTrans still needed before setting loose their chainsaws and excavators upon the lands surrounding the proposed freeway route was a written permission slip, of sorts, from the Army Corps of Engineers. In February 2012, the Army Corps issued the transportation agency a permit to begin construction of the freeway based on a pair of conditions, one of which is that CalTrans provide proof that their proposed plan to “mitigate” damage to sensitive wetlands within the Bypass route will actually be funded. The Army Corps stated that they can accept documentation that ensures a “high level of confidence” that the money for mitigation will be allocated.

In a somewhat surprising turn, however, the Army Corps is now questioning Caltrans’ “assurances” regarding the funding. The California Transportation Commission (CTC, which funds CalTrans) will be asked to vote to fund the mitigation in May ’13. In a vaguely written memorandum, the Army Corps essentially seems to have asked for extra documentation verifying that the funding will come through.

To make CalTrans' bureaucratic entanglements a bit stickier, a major provision of the federal Migratory Bird Act now has kicked in that proscribes cutting of trees with documented bird nests between February 1st and September. Provided they sort out their bureaucratic wrangling with the Army Corps in a timely way, CalTrans will doubtless seek an exemption to this permit via the Department of Fish and Game. Given Fish and Game's long-established pattern of acquiescing to anything that powerful bureaucratic and corporate entities ask of it, it is extremely likely they will provide the exemption.

At the very least, though, the bird protection statute will provide CalTrans an extra headache — and delay the beginning of the project.

In the past week, as The Warbler's observations reflect, CalTrans’ presence on its supply hauling road adjacent to the tree sit has been quite minimal. According to neighbors, whereas the haul road was bustling with CalTrans vehicles in the weeks immediately prior to the tree sit, its activities have virtually ceased since the tree sit began.

Moreover, perhaps at no point in the decades-long history of this project has the level of organized opposition to it been greater than in the eight days (as of this writing) since the tree sit kicked off. The Warbler has helped hatch public education projects, sign-holding along Highway 101, petition gathering, a media publicity project, and a round-the-clock vigil at the tree sit.

One of the primary beneficiaries of CalTrans' Bypass would be the trucking industry, who desire to ship their goods more efficiently by saving the roughly five minutes that it takes for their drivers to make the leisurely trip through Willits. As Sara Grusky of Save Our Little Lake Valley, the coordinating group for opposition to the Bypass, explained in a segment on the February 4th KPFA Evening News, “This is not a project for our little town of Willits. This is a project to get rid of the last stoplight on Highway 101 between San Francisco and Eureka so that trucks can shoot up and down more efficiently.”

But, as Grusky notes, the trucking industry is distinct from the truckers themselves. As anyone who has hung around the tree sit for any length of time has noticed, supportive honks emanate regularly from passersby. A hugely disproportionate number of those supportive honks come from truckers, for whom the trip through Willits is a convenient way to fuel up, rest, and purchase amenities.

Speaking on the same KPFA Evening News, CalTrans spokesperson Phil Frisbie, Jr., defended the Bypass by stating: “Of all the viable options we've considered, this is the least environmentally damaging. This project was modified many times [to account for environmental concerns].”

Actually, the least environmentally damaging option by far is the one put forward in a 2003 document CalTrans helped to fund, called the Baechtel Road-Railroad Avenue Corridor Community Design Study, which would extend thoroughfares through town as a way of rerouting local traffic from Main St. After all, according to the most reliable indications, the vast majority of so-called traffic congestion along Willits' main thoroughfare is caused by local people: in other words, people who will not use the Bypass. For reasons that Frisbie, Jr. has failed to address publicly thus far, CalTrans opted not to consider this study as one of its “viable options.”

Interactions between office and individuals involved in the protest actually began the week before the tree sit, when a group of individuals conducting a sight-seeing tour of the Bypass route to assess the ecological and social harm it would wreak were confronted by the forewoman of CalTrans. She summoned the California Highway Patrol to have the sight-seers removed from the publicly-owned property where they were touring, also snapping pictures of the tour-goers’ license plates.

Following the incident, one of the tour organizers called Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman to complain about the incident. Apparently, Allman indicated that while he may have a different position on the Bypass than the tour goers, he supports their right to conduct public education tours and considered the reaction by CHP and CalTrans to be out of line.

The limited interactions between the avuncular deputy sheriff assigned as a liaison to the tree sit the protesters have been quite friendly thus far. The deputy visited the tree sit shortly after a rally supporting it took place last Monday, telling them he supports their right to be there as long as the activities remain safe. The same deputy visited the site in the early morning on Wednesday to express concern that the tree sit supporters be prepared for rain the following day (which was odd, given that the weather forecast had indicated for several days that the day in question would be the sunniest and warmest of the week.)

At roughly 10pm on Friday, February 1st, a police vehicle visited the tree sit either to conduct surveillance or simply to make its presence known — or both. The cop car flooded the tree sit platform with light from its high beams for several minutes, then departed. Around three hours later, either the same or a different police vehicle visited the site, repeating the high-beam-into-platform exercise. As of press time, we have not been able to verify if these were CHP or Sheriffs vehicles.

CalTrans is on record stating that their lax attitude toward the tree sit will remain only until it becomes a serious impediment.

“We fully support the rights of citizens to peacefully and lawfully assemble,” Frisbie, Jr. told KPFA, completely ignoring the fact that the CalTrans forewoman had tried to sic the cops on a handful of people merely for conducting an educational tour of the Bypass route less than two weeks before. “We understand that she is expressing her opinion on this, and right now it is not impacting safety. However, if it comes to a point where her tree sit is either impacting the safety of our workers or her own safety, we will work with our law enforcement partners and have them take care of that situation.”

The Warbler herself is certainly not naïve about the likelihood that at some point CalTrans will pressure local police to take a more heavy-handed tack with the tree-sit. Last Thursday, a new choral singing group based in Willits called “The Warblers” serenaded her at the tree sit site with variations on old protest songs.

As The Warbler listened to the performance, she scrawled down a poem from a book she had brought with her into the platform. She tore out the page from her journal, folded it into a paper airplane, and tossed it down to the singers. It read:

“I was listening to the voices of life

Chanting in unison

Carry on the struggle

The generations surge together

In resistance

To meet the reality of Power.

-    John Trudell” ¥¥

(For more information on the campaign to stop the CalTrans Bypass, see or e-mail

One Comment

  1. James Marmon February 7, 2013

    Baa Baa Black Sheep, have you any wool.

    “Speculation is that Brown may be the subject of complaints, either from the people he regulates or from his employees.” Mendocino employees know the Mendocino way, loyalty not service is rewarded. I have no doubt that they will find an employee who will swear under oath that Brown showed him or her a picture of himself bare breasted at a “burning man event.” (Or something like that).

    The Mendocino way has some uniqueness to it, it is not just your every day “good ole boy” system, it is something more, it is groupthink. The same type of groupthink that led to nearly a thousand lives lost at Guyana in the 70’s. No one is allowed to ask questions of those in authority or you will be hunted down and disciplined. If you do question authority, you will be ostracized by all.

    I was born in Ukiah in 1954 and I can tell you groupthink existed there before Jim Jones, but because of that well established phenomenon he was able to gain control very quickly. Once he got his inside man in power, Tim Stoen, as County Counsel it was a slam dunk. The sheep of Mendocino County followed him everywhere. We wolves had to cloak ourselves in sheep clothing as so not to be run out of town. I see the same mindlessness now as I did then. Don’t drink the KOOLAID folks, start asking questions

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