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Mendocino County Today: March 11, 2013

IT COULD HAPPEN HERE. According to a story in the on-line newspaper Lake Tahoe News, 14 members of that County’s Grand Jury resigned en masse last month and then the presiding judge disbanded the Grand Jury out of existence as an entity because replacements could not be found and they could no longer conduct business. El Dorado officials are not saying what exactly the problem was that caused the mass resignation, but it probably had something to do with…

ACCORDING to a Lake Tahoe News item by reporter Kathryn Reed, “Sources close to the situation told Lake Tahoe News one member of the grand jury was regularly meeting with former El Dorado County Supervisor Jack Sweeney to tell him what the grand jury was doing. This violates state Penal Code. That individual essentially became a poison pill within the group, creating distrust and disharmony, and prevented others from doing the job they were tasked with. Sweeney is good friends with Supervisor Ron Briggs. On Dec. 18, 2012, John Briggs, father of the supervisor, was before the Board of Supervisors representing the Briggs Family Trust. On a 4-0 vote, with Supervisor Briggs recusing himself, the others agreed to purchase 5.2 acres from the trust on which a future courthouse is likely to be built. Judge Bailey is the brother-in-law of the supervisor and son-in-law to the elder Briggs. And it is Bailey who watches over the grand jury, which looks into county matters, which his in-laws are intricately involved in.”

NO ONE IS SAYING, however, what the Grand Jury was investigating that the suspect juror was informing the Supervisor about. Nor is there any mention of charges being considered against the Grand Juror who spoke out of school. Only that there will be no Grand Jury report in El Dorado County this year.



Okay, Mr. Sunshine

By Jeff Costello

In the mid-late 60s, we didn’t quite have the term “environmentalism” yet. But the issue was gaining some attention, using the word “ecology.” So a friend of mine, not particularly an activist but nonetheless concerned, wandered about Kenmore Square in Boston with a pad and pencil, and asked random people on street this question:

“What do you think about the problem of ecology?”

A middle-aged, middle-class woman answered:

“I think all those student troublemakers should be arrested.”

The greater Boston area, full of colleges and universities, was having its share of anti-war demonstrations in those days. Aside from her ignorance of the word “ecology,” she had demonstrated her solution to problems of behavior outside the accepted norm: punishment.

I’ve mentioned here previously, going into a country diner with long hair and having an obese woman declare for all to hear, “People who are different should be put in jail.”

Osama bin Laden was punished with a death sentence for allegedly engineering the 9/11 event. What percentage of US citizens cheered this, waved the flag and so on? And was that about justice being done or about revelling in a perceived bad person’s ultimate punishment?

People go to executions in prisons, for entertainment.

In the 50s, on a newscast of civil rights upheaval in the south, I saw and heard a man with a deep Alabama accent say, “I think all the niggers should all go back to Africa.” Punished.

What makes us, as a nation, so eager to punish?

I knew a man in Willits who did six years hard time for two marijuana plants. When he got out, he became a real estate agent. Which is worse?

What are we doing with drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan? Punishing people for what? Being muslims? Or for just plain not being Americans? What is the mechanism that drives American Exceptionalism? Is it really jingoistic pride, or a deep identity crisis?

If one reads or studies Eastern philosophy and religions, which generally say that we are “all one” and little more than mirror images of each other (perish the thought!), what could be driving the national urge to punish, if not a profound self-loathing? If I am really you and you are really me, what else would make us want to kill each other?



March 6, 2013 — Dear Mendocino County EMS Stakeholders: The County of Mendocino is exploring the option of establishing an Exclusive Operating Area (EOA) for the sustainable provision of emergency ambulance service within the county. County service providers and emergency services administrators have had to manage the provision of these critical services on a “patchwork” basis with inadequate resources. We are pleased to invite you as key community partners, to join us in exploring innovative solutions that will lead to a sustainable and robust service delivery system. The County is partnering with Fitch & Associates, LLC, to assist us in determining the feasibility of an exclusive operating area (EOA) related to countywide emergency medical services (EMS), in addition to other potential strategies to improve EMS services within Mendocino County’s large and unique geographic area and isolated population centers. You may recall that Fitch & Associates previously partnered with the County producing the 2011 Mendocino County EMS Assessment (the report is available online at the below listed address). If, during the course of the feasibility assessment, it is determined that a countywide EOA is not feasible, Fitch & Associates will assess long-term implications and make specific recommendations for other strategies to improve the current system regarding critical issue areas. Your insight and input is essential to collaboratively address the needs of our emergency medical care service community in designing a system that will provide a high level of care for our residents. To learn more about Fitch & Associates, please visit their website at: To learn more about the project, opportunities for engagement, and upcoming community and stakeholder meetings, please visit the project informational website at: We invite you to be a part of this collaborative process. Now, more than ever, we have an opportunity and an obligation, to design a responsive and effective EMS system that will sustain our provider network far into the future. Please watch for more information about upcoming community meetings. Questions about this project may be directed to the County Executive Office or to Fitch & Associates at:

Carmel J. Angelo, Chief Executive Officer

Richard A. Keller, Partner County of Mendocino Fitch & Associates, LLC



By Jim Gibbons

(I heard the old Janis Ian song ‘Seventeen’ and thought, she needs another hit — maybe when she turns 70? So I wrote this song for her. I see Maggie doing it or Joe Tate, with Jeff Costello of course on lead guitar. Please feel free to add your own verses.)

I learned the truth at seventy

That Medicare was made for me

A simple single-payer plan

That helps us old folks in this land…at 70

But many meds thay say we need

Have side-effects hard to believe

From trouble breathing when you sleep

To hard-ons that you keep and keep…at 70

At seventy I learned the truth

That I am old and long in tooth

I use to run but now I jog

I used to write but now I blog…at 70

I learned the truth at seventy

That marijuana's good for me

It lowers pressure in my eye

And did I mention I get high…at 70?

I learned that priests like little boys

They use their penises for toys

And if they're caught they move away

To PREY again another day…at 70

I learned that global warming's real

That man must help the earth to heal

But since the end is looming near

We might as well have one more beer…at 70


A VACANT ALBION house was destroyed by fire early Saturday night. The structure, which rests on a 20-acre parcel and is owned by out-of-county residents, was fully engulfed in flames when the Albion Volunteers arrived.


TaiYickTradingCoTHE COOLEST STORE in all of San Francisco is… the Tai Yick Trading Company on the northeast corner of Broadway and Stockton, a fascinating collection of ceramics, jars, wild permutations of the Buddha and, oddest of all, Maoist tableaus so conceptually peculiar I've been mulling over the political implications of them ever since I first saw them. (The store's been there for years.) For instance, and I noticed it had been sold the next time I visited Tai Yick, on a glazed platter there appears a clothespin-size miniature couple, man and wife presumably, both in Red Guard uniforms complete with red star caps. The man is seated while the woman cleans his teeth. The seated man was not The Great Helmsman to whom that kind of devotion might be considered by a ceramics artist of the Red Guard period worthy of artistic rendering.

MaoPingPongThe Great Helmsman himself, complete with prosperous paunch, appears in mini-statues throughout the store. I bought a ten-incher for thirty bucks that has the old boy holding a ping-pong paddle, his lips painted a bright red. There's another, larger ceramic with Mao, Chou En Lai and, I think, Lin Piao, laughing in a careening jeep. The artist has tilted the jeep to one side to simulate motion. Most of the store is given over to jars and decorative items, heavy on lions, samurai-like warriors, fish (many of them smiling), and the Buddha forever merry. I suppose the jars are knockoffs of antiquities, but they're all intricately and beautifully done, and every square inch of the store up to the ceiling is covered with everything, it seems, in varying sizes. The most beautiful thing in the store is a four-foot sign featuring ceramic Chinese characters on a length of old wood, or facsimile thereof. I asked the proprietor, who could pass for a Buddha himself, what it said: “Welcome to my home, good wishes and so on,” he replied.


NOT-SO-SIMPLE LIVING FAIR 2013 will be taking place at the Mendocino County Fairgrounds in Boonville July 26,27,28. Check in with our website to see a video from last year. Check back periodically to see our progress with planning for this year. If you would like to volunteer, let us know.

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