DAN HAMBURG, chairman of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors, says he’s suing Mendocino County over the Sheriff’s stated intention to both file misdemeanor charges and disinter the late Mrs. Hamburg who is buried on the Hamburg property southwest of Ukiah. Hamburg said local officials, specifically the Mendocino Department of Health, knew that the family had buried Mrs. Hamburg at home as per her last wishes because, Hamburg said, he’d informed the department that Mrs. Hamburg had indeed been buried at the family’s 46-acre site.
APPARENTLY, though, Mrs. Hamburg had instructed her family to bury her first and sort out whatever legal objections there might be later. The family did as she’d asked and duly filed an application for approval of home burial, anticipating that it would not be approved, could not be approved, because home burials are allowed in California only after a costly and lengthy administrative process.
ACCORDING TO HAMBURG and his Ukiah-based attorney, Barry Vogel, their suit will seek to compel the County of Mendocino to issue a death certificate so Mrs. Hamburg can remain where she is buried, citing Mrs. Hamburg’s own words in her will: “No state interest or public health reason prohibits the burial of my body on my family's land, which is a 46 acre parcel in a rural and mountainous section of Mendocino County, other than recording a memorandum notice advising future owners that a unique condition exists on my property.”
THIS THING is going grisly, big time. The law’s very clear about home burials. You can’t do it in California unless you pay lots of money and file a lot of paper. I don’t see the Sheriff or the courts making an exception for the Hamburgs. I do see the Sheriff off-loading a back-hoe and…
BUT. BUT IF MENDOCINO COUNTY can break new ground, so to speak, on marijuana, one would think the County might also permit home burials on suitable properties so long as the gravesite is registered with the County. 46 rural acres is certainly plenty of room for human remains, and who among us doubts that there are bodies planted all over the hidden vastness of fair Mendoland? I know of a lady who simply propped her true love against a tree looking out at his favorite vista completely outside any kind of sanctioned process other than ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
OF COURSE the Hamburg burial has already broken down along lib-yobbo lines simply because Hamburg is who he is. If, say, Jared Carter had buried Barbara Bush without a permit on Carter’s ranch south of Ukiah the libs would be demanding immediate excavation.
IN OTHER HAMBURG NEWS, the supervisor was on the short end of the Supervisor’s 4-1 vote assuring the Pinoleville Pomo Nation that the County of Mendocino will roll with whatever impacts installation of a casino and hotel just off 101 north of Ukiah might have. Hamburg said that the County’s existing casinos are so many that they are already “cannibalizing” each other, hastening to shore up the politically correct end of that statement with the qualifier, “This is no criticism whatsoever of Native Americans ... but it's really a sad commentary that this is what we call economic development in Mendocino County, is more and more and more casinos.”
HAMBURG at least raised the issue lots of us wonder about. Where do all the gamblers come from? Well, from all over. I know people who are regulars at the local casinos, and have been regulars since the day they opened. On my brief excursions to the jolly gambling halls at Hopland and Shodakai, it seemed to me both places were more like immigrant Mexican social clubs, with actual gamblers the minority. Do these places turn a profit? They seem to, and they do employ people, native and palefaced alike. And people seem to enjoy themselves, which is always likely to annoy the gray and the grim.
ANYWAY, MENDOCINO COUNTY is already America’s intoxicant capitol via wine grapes and marijuana farms. Toss in a few County-sanctioned brothels to go with the casinos, and there’d be northbound traffic jams all the way from Monterrey to Leggett.
THE PINOLEVILLE CASINO, if it ever gets built, and that remains a big if, will go up in two phases on 8.8 acres of reservation land at 2150 N. State Street in Ukiah. It would include about 80,000 square feet of gaming space, up to 749 slot machines, 20 table games and, along with restaurants, possibly a four-story, 25-room hotel and event center and a high-rise parking lot.
DEPARTMENT OF UNINTENTIONAL HUMOR (then again, maybe it wasn’t unintentional) in Tiffany Revelle’s lead story in Wednesday’s Ukiah Daily Journal “At issue: Did Mendocino County Public Defender Linda Thompson make a mistake?”
I’D SAY THE ODDS that Thompson made a mistake are about 99-1 she did, but if she did in this one it seems big-time moot anyway. It boils down to the length of a knife blade. Will Timothy Slade Elliott of Hopland, convicted in 2010 of second-degree murder for the 2008 stabbing death of Samuel Billy, 29, also of Hopland, get a new trial?
SHOULD THOMPSON have asked for “a hearing outside the jury's presence to exclude the 1.65-inch knife a doctor testified could have been used to inflict the fatal, 6-inch stab wound in Billy's abdomen.” The dispute is about the length of the knife blade; was the one Elliott allegedly used on Billy long enough to penetrate deep enough to kill Billy?
MS. REVELLE’S STORY has it this way: “‘At trial, I was asked for my opinion of fellow pathologist Dr. Terri Haddix's conclusion that the knife in evidence could not, when fully inserted, inflict a six-inch deep wound,’ according to an April 7, 2012 declaration from Dr. Jason Trent, the pathologist who performed the autopsy on Billy. I testified to my belief that her conclusion was incorrect. My opinion was based, as I stated at trial, on the knife blade measuring between three to four inches long. Based on this information, I am not absolutely able to conclude whether this knife could have caused a six-inch deep wound. If I was told at trial that the knife blade was 1.65 inches long, I probably would have testified that this knife could not cause a six-inch deep wound. However, keep in mind that the victim is dressed, is overweight and the blade strikes no object other than soft tissue.”
THAT GRIM EPISODE occurred late at night on the Hopland rez, with the only eyewitness being a 9-year-old boy whose long distance view of the stabbing Thompson was unable to shake. A jury had no difficulty convicting Elliott whatever the length of the blade he used or didn’t use.
SAVE OUR LITTLE LAKE VALLEY is conducting tours along the Highway 101 bypass around Willits. The tours are from 1 to 4pm, Sundays on June 2, 9, 16 and 30 and will be partly on foot partly by vehicle along stretches of the bypass. Reservations are suggested and the group meets initially at the Little Lake Grange to begin the tours. For reservations call (707) 216-5549 or visit www.savelittlelakevalley.org.
THE BOONVILLE HOTEL is celebrating its 25th anniversary under the successful management of Johnny Schmitt. The beneficiary of many remodels and cosmetic enhancements under both Schmitt and his predecessors, the stately 19th century institution offers reasonably priced rooms with an absolutely first-class dining room. Frank James, Jesse James’ brother, once stayed at the Boonville Hotel and, late on a foggy night in the middle of a wintry week the old place fairly sings what it has seen over its 150 years, and it’s seen a lot.
THIS RUMOR is making the rounds on the Mendocino Coast: The Heritage House, recently purchased by a certain Mr. Green out of Florida who flies in and out of Albion in a private jet, is a front man for the Koch Brothers who plan to use the place as a kind of junior varsity Bohemian Grove, the Bohos being too liberal for the Kochs. Could be. The Kochs already own the invaluable Fort Bragg Mill property just up the road.
ALL THAT GUCK dredged at Noyo Harbor is piled up behind Affinito’s motel just south of the Noyo Bridge. It’s become a kind of open air drug mart for Coast area tweekers, much to the despair of locals who like to enjoy the little beach at the mouth of the river.
TOM ALLMAN is already running for a third term as Sheriff. Writing on his Facebook page (Yes, the County Sheriff has a facebook page) Sheriff Allman writes: “Hey Hey Hey! Don't forget to block off Saturday, July 13th, 2013 for a great party in Willits. It is the kick off to my re-election. The band is booked, the food is taken care of, and now we are just waiting for the day to get here! Send me a private post with your address if you have not received an invitation. It will be at the Willits Community Center. Waylon and the Wildcats will be rockin' the place and we would love to see you there. If you have not had a chance to hear Waylon and The Wildcats, you will not be disappointed. They are great! Tri-tip dinner, a great live band and a bunch of friendly folks will be there. $49.00 per person and a local motel has offered a great rate for out of towners. Hope you can make it! —Tom”
DEAD MAN WALKING
by Bruce McEwen
(Dominiak, White, Joaquin, Cook)
Four thieves went to prison last week. The first thief, Fernando Joaquin, got two years and eight months; the second thief, Dustin Cook, got four years; the next thief, Alfred Dominiak, got eight years and eight months; and the fourth thief, Robert White, got 98 years. Three of the robberies involved force and violence or the threat of it.
All four robbers blamed drugs or alcohol.
Mr. Joaquin had gotten himself drunk and, in league with his little sister, a juvenile, committed “a theft from a person, assault with a deadly weapon and preventing the report of a crime.”
In other words, “Give me your stuff or I'll hit you with this baseball bat. If you tell anyone me and Sis will be back.”
Mr. Cook, who looks like a teenager, as does Joaquin who is a teenager, said if he hadn’t been so intoxicated his crime of first-degree robbery resulting in grave injuries to his victim would never have happened. Mr. Dominiak blamed his theft of a crate of industrial-strength shelving from Big Lots on his drug habit. Shelving? Maybe he thought he was jobbing a crate of $100 bills.
And Mr. White, who is visibly deranged, said he would never have attempted to rob two little old ladies at knifepoint if he hadn’t gone off his psych meds.
It never occurs to any of these guys that their problems could all be attributed to larger forces — the absence of jobs, bad wages for the jobs that do exist, and the overall pitiful state of the economy. Of course some people do bad things no matter what the big picture looks like, but a little perspective, a little class-consciousness might at least give a guy a clue as to why he is the way he is.
Young Mr. Joaquin just turned 18. He was raised in a trailer in Covelo with no windows and no heat, which is to say he was not a son of privilege. Factor in the new pathologies at work in impoverished American households and the kid is probably lucky he made it to 18.
But judges, willfully oblivious Obama Democrats who've not lived a minute with the wolf at the door, are well paid to pretend that there's nothing wrong with the system. Their job is to process its victims in and out of jail and to maintain the social order as it is. Now that there are more and more victims, we'll get more and more judges more and more cops and more and more jails. More justice is not even a possibility in the present context.
Judge Ann Moorman had already sentenced Mr. Joaquin’s sister, but Sis is a juvenile so we can’t get into that. But Joaquin been getting into trouble for a long time, and now that he's in the adult system, Joaquin has gotten himself into adult trouble.
Joaquin’s juvenile record was not allowed to influence his sentencing as a newly minted adult, even though Deputy DA Matt Hubley tried to count it as a strike prior.
Carly Dolan of the Public Defender’s office launched a penal code barrage of objection. “If I may interrupt, your honor, that count was stricken from the record, when he admitted the 136.2, which would double the term of confinement for the 487(c) to 32 months, or as we say, two years and eight months. So he’s essentially being punished for conduct while he was a child. And because of his young age and small stature, sending him to state prison will result in his being victimized, and he will return to the community a damaged individual. A more stable, less predatory environment like the county jail would be a good alternative in this case.”
DDA Hubley said he didn't think “there’s any alternative to state prison in this case.”
Judge Moorman, conceding that the state's prisons are at least as dangerous as Covelo, said, “Juvenile adjudications are not convictions. His sister was the aggressor in the theft case and housing him in the state prison would not only be against the interests of the community, it would also be against Mr. Joaquin’s interests, especially because of his age and size. And as the jails have been designated as prisons under 1175(h) I do see it as an alternative and I’m going to sentence him to local time.”
Which is no picnic, but the Mendocino County Jail, where violence is indeed on the rise is still not San Quentin. (“Realignment” is the state plan underway that sends certain categories of local crooks to county jails rather than the state pens. The state pens are under federal order to reduce their populations, meaning lots of people who'd ordinarily get sent to them will now stay at home.)
As for Dustin Cook, his father was in court for moral support, but just as his son was being sentenced, someone rushed in to tell Dad that his truck was rolling away down the street, and Cook Sr. rushed out to look after his transportation.
His old man didn't see his son sentenced to the four years for first degree robbery. The judge commented that Cook the Younger's challenge would be staying sober when he got out. And here it might be noted that Cook might also have trouble staying sober while in prison, because Mr. Arnold Gahm had been sentenced just moments before for being in possession of drugs while in jail. Gahm got two more years inside.
Cook wanted to address the court. The kid said, “This is all my fault, your honor. I take full responsibility. Mr. Esquivel [the co-defendant] had nothing to do with it.”
Deputy DA Scott McMenomey replied, “I didn’t hear a word of remorse for what he did to the victim. This was a senseless 211 [robbery] that didn’t need to happen.” Cook could have got the stuff without hurting his victim.
Judge Moorman said, “Based on the nature of the offense, the violence and gravity of the injuries to the victim, I’m going to impose the aggravated term of four years.”
Mr. Alfred Dominiak, 54, was not violent in his theft, Big Lots got their shelving back in good condition, and as a result, Mr. Dominiak would get his eight years and eight months suspended — if, that is, he could successfully complete the County’s drug court program successfully, that and sin no more.
“I’m happy to go along with the suspension,” Deputy DA McMenomey said, “if he gets into the program. But he needs to remember that he’s on a really short leash.”
Cathy Livingstone of the Public Defender’s office said her client was going to the Lytton Springs rehab program. Lytton Springs is housed in that stately old orphanage you see on the west side of 101 between Cloverdale and Geyserville.
“I’m not ordering the program,” Judge Moorman said. “I’m ordering the drug court. And I’ll repeat what Mr. McMenomey said. You are on a very short leash, Mr. Dominiak, with a very big sentence hanging over your head. The aggravated term for the second degree burglary is appropriate for all of the reasons named in the probation report, the four prison priors and the fact that he has not been able to remain out of prison for five years at a time without violating his parole, and then there is the increasing seriousness of his crimes. So I am going to impose the aggravated term and suspend execution of it. And you are to have no contact with Cody Barnes, Mr. Dominiak.” The judge then addressed the jailers: “He’s to be taken to drug court this afternoon at three.”
Dominiak got off easy considering his history.
Mr. Robert White was sentenced over in Judge John Behnke’s court, across the hall. This guy is nuts, a diminished capacity case who, in a more reputable time (and place), would be packed off to a state hospital.
White's lawyer, Dan Haehl of the Public Defender’s office, after chatting briefly with his client said, “Mr. White would like to address the court.”
Judge Behnke said, “Go ahead.”
“I’ve been trying to get a different lawyer,” White said. “The only reason I did any of this is because I went off my meds. I wanted a psychological evaluation done, but I couldn’t get it with this lawyer. Everything I wanted never got done.”
Of course it didn't, Mr. White, but if you'd had competent counsel in a time and a place where there were humane options you wouldn't be buried alive.
Judge Behnke was not moved by White's lamentations. His Honor was contemplating the huge sentence the DA was asking for — 98 years to life in prison. The knife enhancements — brandished at both the women White tried to rob and the husband of one woman who followed White across the parking lot of the Pear Tree Shopping Center and called 911 — were going to add about 25 years onto a very long sentence as it was. And then there were the prison priors.
“I think the court could impose and stay some of the prison priors”—
“I don’t think so,” DA David Eyster interjected.
“Not that I would,” Behnke continued. “The crimes merit the imposition of the priors. Or I could run them concurrent”—
“No, judge!” Eyster gasped, scrambling to his feet. “You can’t do that!”
“But I don’t think I would, even though I could,” Behnke resumed, eying Eyster evenly. “We have three separate victims fearing for their lives with the use of the deadly weapon, the knife, and even if he were eligible for probation, I don’t think I would grant it.”
There were seven special allegations, which added up to 23 years. Then the additional counts, each strike offenses, required 25 years each. Total: 98 years.
Behnke said, “I also find that Mr. White is not eligible under 1175(h) for local time and I am remanding him into the custody of the Sheriff for delivery to the state prison.”
Court Clerk Bonnie Miller said, “Is that with or without the possibility of parole?”
“It’s with the possibility of parole,” Behnke said with a sunny smile and without so much as a hint of irony in his voice.
I went out on the sidewalk to watch White being taken away. I'd have thought he was dead if he hadn't been walking. ¥¥
FIREWOOD PERMIT SALES RESUME on Jackson Demonstration State Forest
Fort Bragg– California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) Mendocino Unit is pleased to announce the resumption of firewood permit sales on Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF). Due to the limited accessibility of timber sale areas containing downed timber, permits will be limited to two cords ($20.00) per household. Firewood areas will be open May 30, through September 30, 2013, until wood supply is gone, or the first significant rain which ever occurs first. Permits and information on how to safely engage in collecting firewood are available at the CAL FIRE Fort Bragg office located at, 802 North Main Street, Fort Bragg, CA (707) 964-5674. Office hours are 8-12 & 1-5 Monday through Friday. Campgrounds are now open and JDSF would like to remind the public that camping fees have been implemented for all JDSF campgrounds. The base fee for camping is $15.00 per night. Multiple uses of JDSF for a wide variety of activities that benefit the public, the economy and natural resources are what our demonstration forests are all about. — Craig Pedersen, CalFire Forester II, Fort Bragg
THE LEGGETT VALLEY SCHOOL BOOSTER club is once again hosting a food booth at the 2013 Redwood Run on June 7-9. We are the longest running fundraising organization at LVS with over 20 years raising money for the youths that attend Leggett Schools. We are originally were focused on athletics but as the budget situation has been so dire for the past several years we have incorporated the arts and classroom supplies into our list of activities we fund at the site. This year we hosted the *Missoula Children’s Theater*, an in house *Magic Show*, purchased new soccer uniforms for all teams from Leggett, paid sponsorship fees for the *Southern Humboldt Youth Basketball League *and *Little League* for families that could not afford it, and we are giving out our annual scholarship to local graduates. We have also awarded funds to the Cooking class, the Ski/Snowboard club and purchased items requested by teachers to enhance their abilities to teach through audio and visual aids. It is with much pride that we able to dos much for the children of our schools. It is with this in mind that we want to make the profit from this year’s food booth at the Redwood as substantial as we possibly can. Therefore we are asking for pledges towards the items we purchase to use in our booth, we are not asking for the goods themselves, we took the rounded cost of the goods from last year’s run and broke them down so that you, our potential donor can see where the money goes and pledge and amount that is affordable to you, for specified items. We will provide letters of donation receipt for tax purposes for those of you who require it. All pledges regardless of amount are greatly appreciated.