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Off the Record (September 6, 2023)

IT COULD HAPPEN HERE: The restaurant owner whose battle with a Kansas newspaper led to a viral raid has broken her silence to reveal the hate mail she's received blaming her for the death of the publication's 98-year-old owner. Kari Newell, 46, cried as she recalled how her intervention at a Marion City Council meeting on August 7 led to the raid that some have blamed for the death of Marion County Record co-owner Joan Meyer. Speaking to The Kansas City Star, Ms. Newell shared her belief that Phyllis Zorn, a reporter for the paper, had illegally accessed information about her DUI charge from 2018 that showed she had been driving without a valid driver's license for 15 years. Police reports are public record. But Marion City's 5-man police force raided the newspaper and home of the elderly co-owner of the paper, probably hastening her death.

PROSTITUTION was once secure in the affections of Mendocino County’s male population, many of whom passed happy hours in palaces of joy wherever there were enough customers for a madam and her consignment of relief workers to light a red lamp in the window. There’s even a fond plaque on a Ukiah street memorializing a maison de societe presided over by a famous woman known as “Madge.” In Boontling, Anderson Valley’s clever little lingo devised in the early part of this century by isolated rustics to both amuse themselves and talk in code about outsiders, a “madge house” is a brothel. A lonely man heading off on horseback for Ukiah from Boonville on a Saturday was assumed to be “madgin’ to uke” — going to Ukiah to spend an evening at Madge’s. In the days of true common sense, America understood that brothels served a crucial social function in preserving otherwise frigid marriages and in eliminating most sex crime because there were quasi-legal pleasure palaces where the great beast of male sexuality could be slaked.

BUT THE FORCES of law and order tell me that commercial sex is readily available to local males via cyber-advertising, and out-of-the-area pimps regularly check in to Ukiah motels with their drug dependent captives for sordid assignations with locals.

ARRESTS for hetero prostitution are rare in Mendocino County these days, but occasionally the soliciting statutes are brought down on a hapless male same-sexer, as has happened at Lake Mendocino where a gay trysting site has thrived for years. Occasionally, a same-sexer will proposition a hetero, as in the case of a samer disturbing a kid fishing off a nearby rock. 

ON TOP OF EVERYTHING ELSE WRONG WITH THEM, THEY'RE RUDE. As you are probably aware, there’s great public interest in last week’s BOS meeting owing to the MAC dissolvement issue, and there are people who took time off from work to attend the meeting and make comment to the Board. After completing just one action item, the Short-Term Rental (STR) issue, the Board adjourned at 11:50am to go into closed session. Chair McGourty announced the soonest they would return from closed session and re-open on action items would be 1:30pm. A woman who was present for the MAC issue told the Supes before they left the chamber, “The public has been waiting here all morning to make comment, some of us have jobs, and we’ve been politely quiet while waiting for this meeting to come to speak, and I think you are wasting the public’s time. This is a very important topic, it’s about the MACs.”

McGourty responded, “I understand and I apologize but this is how things are done at the Board, it takes time.”

The woman then said, “I would suggest re-organizing the agenda when there a lot of the public to make comments who have jobs.”

Supes then exited stage left.

Just as a courtesy to the public, unless there is some dire need to rush off to closed session, the public should be accommodated by addressing action items prior to closed session. I’ve chaired meetings all of my professional life, first in the labor movement and now in local government at both the water district and the Laytonville MAC. It’s really just a common courtesy to the public. You can do closed sessions either prior to commencement of open session or following adjournment of open session. It doesn’t cost you anything to organize the agenda so citizens are not inconvenienced. —Jim Shields

WE GOT A KICK out of the Supervisors’ pointless discussion on Tuesday about whether various (mostly “defunct”) commissions and committees should continue. (We agree that the Municipal Advisory Committees should stay, but they didn’t need to stir up that hornet’s nest in the first place by listing them. If there are problems with the MACs, deal with them directly.) The agenda item said that the purpose of the discussion was to save some money. Yet most of the expenses they cited that are so ripe for savings are for the cost of “staff time.” Now that they’ve deleted a number of the Commissions and Committees which were on the chopping block, many of which were long-overdue for a cut anyway and were described as “defunct,” including the “Climate Action Advisory Board” and the “Public Safety Advisory Board” that this Board so gleefully and expensively put into County Code in 2021 with some very ill-defined and toothless areas of responsibility), will we see any accompanying staff cuts (primarily in the County Counsel’s office) so that these committee deletions will translate into actual budget savings? Funny, that never came up. (Mark Scaramella)

A READER notes: Election season is starting, and the Democrats need to get their players in a better place. This is how I think they do it. Dianne Feinstein resigns. She is replaced by Kamala Harris (that gets her out of the way). Gavin Newsom is named VP. Joe Biden resigns, Newsom becomes President. The Democrats have a much stronger, younger candidate. The Biden scandals become old news.

Jack Ma

LOTTA TALK among Maga hysterics, who love Putin, about the Chinese as all-purpose global menace, but the richest man in China, Jack Ma, employs a whole lotta Mendo Maga rustics in Laytonville where he owns the 8,000-acre Shamrock Ranch that stretches darn near to Covelo. 

Ma seems to spend a lot of time at his north country estate, entertaining an international array of One Percenters who arrive by helicopter, often with fancy women not their wives. Ma has a pending Planning and Building permit application for a shooting range.


The driver of the vehicle pictured above has been arrested in some excellent track-down work by the cops. He's a Bay Area guy. The woman with the gun is his sig-other. Seems they regularly go out hunting in the urban jungles.

AND IN ANOTHER BAY AREA ATROCITY, the man pictured above was beaten to death in his San Francisco store by the young man pictured in the red shorts. The shopkeeper tried to stop the punk from robbing him, but… I bring it up because I read about it, picture and all, in the New York tabloid, The New York Post. A version of the same story in the SF Chron appeared without photos because the Chron, as a matter of unstated policy, never pictures alleged perps, or even booked perps, and seldom does follow-ups on in-City violence.

NEW YORK POST: “Far-left presidential hopeful Cornel West slammed the Democratic Party on Tuesday as being ‘beyond redemption’ due to its inability to meet the ‘needs of poor people and working people’.”

FAR LEFT of what? Who? Bernie? Bernie the alleged socialist and Maga-defined far leftist, has endorsed Biden for re-election, as has “far left” AOC, but Bernie's routinely described as “far left” in mainstream media. Bernie said Biden is the only candidate who can “preserve American democracy” vs. Trump or any other Republican.

CORNEL WEST has my vote, a vote pristine in not having been cast for a Democrat since George McGovern. West is running under the auspices of the Green Party candidate. Re Bernie, West said, “I think that Brother Bernie’s being consistent. You know, he said that all along and I can understand the argument. I think it’s a plausible argument. I just don’t think it’s a persuasive one. I think that the argument he’s making means that there’s never any possibility for breaking the corporate duopoly, that there’s never any possibility of trying to speak to the needs of the poor working people.”

WHITE HOUSE spokesperson, Karine Jean-Pierre, was asked if natural born men who “identify” as women should be competing in women's sports. She replied that there were “a wide range of views” on athletes who are born as males but compete in women's sports. Asked for President Biden's view on the matter, she again said the subject was “complicated” but avoided stating the president's opinion, as if he, international symbol of elder abuse, has one on trans athletes or any other subject at this point in his fading life. 

THE AVA'S STANCE? Whatever you're born as, with or without, you compete as per your birth equipment. Perhaps as a consequence of old age, we admit that we're at a loss to understand why this is an issue, although it has become one, esp with the sex-obsessed Magas.

A CLIP on a recent evening news collection of rolling catastrophes, included a shot of a “Proud Boy” crying because he just got 17 years for “seditious conspiracy” for cheering on the Jan 6th riot at the national capitol. First off, even for a pretend tough guy, pleading in tears for the judge to grant a reduced sentence is a bad look for guys who claim to be taking on the national government.

BUT 17 YEARS is way too much time for a minor role in a riot, albeit an unprecedented riot inside that particular venue. I'm beginning to wonder if these fools weren't set up, that the feds, worried at the growth of Maga militias around the country, didn't urge them on so the feds could ultimately make an example of groups like the Proud Boys.

I'LL BET there were plenty of FBI agents involved in Jan 6 milling around with the Magas. Back in the day, in my experience as a subversive, the guy advocating violence or “direct action” that came with felony consequences, was invariably an FBI agent. “Hey! I'll bring the dynamite, and we'll go out and take down a major power line.”


“This is good news:

State Controller Malia M. Cohen Authorizes Audit of Mendocino County

SACRAMENTO — Today, State Controller Malia M. Cohen authorized an audit of Mendocino County after conversations with county officials who expressed concerns as to whether the annual financial reports required to be prepared and delivered to the state are correct and complete.

Controller Cohen acknowledged receipt of the request for an audit from the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors, who voted unanimously to request the State Controller’s Office’s assistance to resolve what some officials have referred to as a ‘fiscal crisis’ within the county. ‘As California’s chief fiscal officer, the financial health of all 58 counties is of paramount importance to the overall fiscal wellbeing of the state,’ said Controller Cohen. Controller Cohen’s action also follows a recent warning issued that the county’s rating may be placed under review for possible withdrawal of credit rating unless the county completes its now-delinquent annual financial statements.

In response to the county officials’ statements concerning the fiscal uncertainty and instability of the county, Controller Cohen said: ‘My office will review the county’s internal controls. The failure to deliver timely financial reports as mandated by law could place the county at a competitive disadvantage and may drive up the interest rate beyond what the county would typically pay for such issuance.’

The audit has commenced and is underway.”


Which “county officials”?

What “concerns”? 

Which “delinquent annual financial statements”?

Why do the “concerns” include whether the statements are “correct and complete” if they are “delinquent”?

A review of “internal controls”? The County pays a professional outside audit firm to review internal controls (and other bookkeeping processes) every year. Are the “county officials” saying the outside auditor didn’t have what they needed to perform their audit? Yet the County paid for it anyway? If they were unable to perform their audit, what did they specifically say was missing?

Auditor-Controller-Treasurer-Tax Collector Cubbison has repeated asked for and the Board has acknowledged that the Budget Ad Hoc Committee of Williams and McGourty agreed to provide a list of the specific documents they want. Yet so far, no such list or samples have been forthcoming.

You would think that if this problem is as serious as Williams et al claim, they would have formally listed the specific “concerns,” asked the Auditor for a response, and then written a board-approved letter to the State Auditor saying what they don’t like about the response. Instead, all we get is a cyber-post from one “county official” who is obviously giddy about this obviously half-assed pro-forma exercise and an uninformative press release from the state auditor. The “audit” they plan to conduct won’t do anything to solve their alleged “structural deficit.” At best it will address “internal controls” and credit ratings.

Did the “county officials” provide a list of the “delinquent annual financial statements” besides a generic gripe about a “balance sheet” to the State Auditor? Did they ask for a response from Ms. Cubbison before having their “conversations” with the State Auditor? Or is this just another “Get Cubbison” exercise masquerading as a financial review?

Did the State Auditor bother to ask the “County officials” for documentation of their “concerns”? Did the State Auditor ask for a response from Ms. Cubbison before “commencing” her audit?

Can you imagine a dumber way to approach this problem?

COUNTY HIGHWAY is a new, national, 6-issues a year, full-size newspaper founded by Walter Kirn and David Samuels, both of whom are familiar names to quality magazine readers. Kirn partners weekly with Matt Taibbi on-line and often appears in Harper's. Samuels is a long-form literary journalism guy. As a print dino, I've subscribed, and hope they make it at a time people under the age of 60 live in their all-purpose telephones, and paper-paper readers are few and fading.

THE COMPETITION for media attention is fierce, what with the cyber-deluge, podcasts, blogs, television, and radio. I'm continually surprised at the ava's survival which, more and more, depends on in-Mendo readers on-line while print readers in the Great Outside hold steady in a pincer-like context of ever-rising print and post office costs. And we're an entirely geriatric operation — three geezers yelling “Huh? What?” at each other all day every Thursday as our trembling, liver-spotted hands dispatch the beast from our Boonville headquarters.

COUNTY HIGHWAY bills itself as “America’s only newspaper.” Just a minute there, Bud. The Boonville weekly claims to be America's last newspaper, and is the last one of the no holds genre in a County where there are weekly papers outta Laytonville, Ukiah, Gualala, and sorta outta Fort Bragg. The Santa Rosa Press Democrat is no longer the dominant media on the Northcoast and becomes more amateurish every day.

NEITHER here nor there, but up until a couple of years ago I subscribed to the paper edition of the Chronicle, which I began reading at about age ten, and then only the sports page. But the tangible edition of the Chron got to be unreasonably expensive and I had to quit, having been a daily reader since 1948, with a few schizo, Chron-free years in the Marines and then the Peace Corps. I still read it on-line, and the Chron still has a great sports page led by Ann Killion. 

THE AVA, I think, is now the only paper-paper available in the Anderson Valley, although a few locals get the NYT and WSJ in the mail in print form. 

COUNTY HIGHWAY: “A magazine about America in the form of a 19th century newspaper.” Cover price: $8.50

Subscriptions: $50 a year for six 20-page issues. The sub price is a bargain for really good writers like its principals. (Expensive cover prices are required by national distributors for getting the mag in the vanishing venues where papers and magazines are still sold.)

THE NEW PAPER is a broadsheet laid out in a style much like the AVA, but with narrower columns. Their first edition was dated July-August 2023 and featured a lede by Samuels entitled “King of the Con” about America’s fondness for con men and their suckers, and another lede entitled “The Miracle of America,” about a junkyard in Montana. 

THE NEW YORKER'S cover price for a weekly edition is $8.99 and subscriptions are around $150 these days. There's more readable stuff in one edition of the AVA than there is in three-four editions of The New Yorker, says the AVA's resolutely provincial editor. The New York Times, going away, is the most boring publication in the English language, which is why I subscribe to it on-line wondering every morning why I do. It is redeemed only by Maureen Dowd and Russell Baker, the latter not appearing for some time probably because he's old, very old. 

OF ITSELF, County Highway says it "is a 20-page broadsheet produced by actual human beings, containing the best new writing you will encounter about America. It features reports on the political and spiritual crises that are gripping our country and their deeper cultural and historical sources; regular columns about agriculture, civil liberties, animals, herbal medicine, and living off the grid, mentally and physically; essays about literature and art, and an entire section devoted to music. 

“OUR NEWSPAPER comes out six times a year and will be delivered to your home in a transparent envelope. Once the paper is removed, you can hold it in your hands, fold it into quarters, and read it on your porch on a sunny afternoon accompanied by your favorite cup of coffee, cigarette, or can of beer.”

A READER WRITES: Nice to see Fred Gardner mentioning Soros- The Orange One’s opposite number- “Snuffing Out Medical Marijuana,” AVA Aug 30. Also giving the skinny on Dr. Jeffery Hergenrather of Sebastopol. Take it from this long- time activist: The Early-Adopter Cannabis MDs are worth their weight in gold, and THEN some! — Namaste from slippery San Francisco

NOTICE OUT OF COVELO says that Judge Ron Combest has died. Judge Combest was a long-time Superior Court judge whose home was in Covelo.

LOTS OF PEOPLE say they don’t vote because the system is so corrupt that voting only validates the rottenness. Do the math! At the state and national level, in the present context, your vote, in too many cases, does indeed reaffirm the two party oobleck. But a properly-aimed ballot at the purely local level can do some good, but even at ground floor Mendo, unless dissidents manage to put a slate of the like-minded together for a run at, say, the Board of Supervisors, a worthy single individual just gets swallowed up by the unworthy. 

OVER THE YEARS, I think the more conservative supervisors occupying a Supe’s seat on the supposedly non-partisan board, have been the most conscientious, the most fiscally responsible. I can't imagine Johnny Pinches or Jim Eddie allowing $385,000 in public money to be spent on that preposterous “safety” apparatus in the Supe's chamber separating their majesties from the rabble.

PINCHES not only read the county budget, he annotated it, underlining every dubious expenditure. The old cowboy lugged that sucker around with him. Ask him a spending question and, like Mr. Wizard, he'd straight away flip open the budget and come up with the answer. 

IT'S A HOARY CLICHE, but it used to prevail: Elected people were assumed to spend public money as carefully as they spent their own. 

SPOTTED in Mendocino, this bumpersticker: “MultiDimensional And Loving It.” 

THE BUMPER messages that annoy me most are the pious ones that say, “There’s no excuse for domestic violence.” Lots of cop cars used to display them, as did the vehicles of many of the county’s “helping professionals.” In fact, there are lots of excuses for domestic violence, as least as many as there are provocations, but that’s no justification for actually committing it, of course. 

THIS HEADLINE was everywhere this Saturday morning: “DeSantis won't meet Biden when he visits Florida to see Idalia damage.” Giving mean man DeSantis, conqueror of Mickey Mouse, the benefit of the doubt, the governor may have been too busy coordinating the clean-up to meet with Biden for the usual disaster stroll photo-op. Then again, it's more likely that DeSantis, an apparently doomed candidate for president as the big fascist money moves away from him and back to Maga Man, like all the Republicans these days, doesn't want any association with Democrats, even in the context of bipartisan hurricanes, especially no photo ops with Biden, whose cynical handlers keep shoving him out there as if he were wholly functioning.

SURELY BIDEN'S HANDLERS could have rigged up a studio with palm trees and wind machines right there in the White House to give the illusion that the old grifter was in the very eye of the storm. The lib media would pretend not to notice, just as they manage not to notice the president's obvious senility.

SATURDAY IN FRISCO, a reader's impressions:

The Zombie Apocalypse And San Francisco Saturday Noon

I nearly long for the Zombie Apocalypse; it would be preferable to the #38 Bus: Miscreants, the distraught, the addled and ravaged. Addle and Ravage! Aren’t they a downtown law firm? When the sun burns thru the haze even a bit, brightening the sky, a wave of sapping humidity raises.

DUNCAN JAMES COMMENTS on Reno Bartolomie’s mini-memoir:

“From a person who worked with him during the last seven he served as Sheriff I can say without a doubt he was a great person and Sheriff. Through the arrests of Charles Manson in Leggett on July14, 1967 and many members of the Manson family in late 1968 in Philo, including Susan Adkins; the Hells Angels; Jim Jones, and many others, his main concern was protecting the people in this county. To me he was a very special guy who taught me many things during a portion of the time I served as District Attorney. He is always in my mind and heart. — Duncan James, Mendocino County District Attorney, 1969 through 1979


[1] Election season is starting, and the Democrats need to get their players in a better place. This is how I think they do it. Dianne Feinstein resigns. She is replaced by Kamala Harris (that gets her out of the way). Gavin Newsom is named VP. Joe Biden resigns, Newsom becomes President. The Democrats have a much stronger, younger candidate. The Biden scandals become old news.

[2] The debate, and I’m not original in saying they aren’t debates, they’re terrible. I don’t know what they are. They’re not speeches, they’re not shuffled speeches. They’re certainly not debates or arguments. They feel like beauty pageants in which people compete to say boring things in a perky way. And it was hard to watch, to be honest. I mean, the debate, besides being tedious, it just kind of gave me a stomach ache because they were falling back on rhetoric and formulas that I thought we were past as Americans. It was like a bad time travel thing. 

(Walter Kirn)

[3] Do you remember George Carlin’s joke about the prison bureaucrat executioner who would swab the prisoner’s arm with alcohol so that he wouldn’t get an infection just before administering the lethal injection?

This is exactly what the US is like now.

People are so obtuse that they’ll just line up for it, or we’ll just waltz into nuclear war?

[4] Do you remember George Carlin’s joke about the prison bureaucrat executioner who would swab the prisoner’s arm with alcohol so that he wouldn’t get an infection just before administering the lethal injection?

This is exactly what the US is like now.

People are so obtuse that they’ll just line up for it, or we’ll just waltz into nuclear war?

[5] I don‘t know about souls. Has anyone ever seen, heard, smelled, tasted, or touched one? I refuse to rule anything out, but I find it difficult to accept the existence of a soul until it can be measured in a way anyone else can duplicate. I guess that makes me a materialistic, cynical bastard, huh.

[6] I have come to the unfortunate realization that this Country isn’t worth saving anymore.

$31 trillion in public debt.

$36 – $72 trillion in private debt.

Women who think they are men.

Men who think they are women.

Children being preyed upon by sexual deviants.

Pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry.

Religion is dead or dying as churches are useless.

Fathers are gone having been destroyed by the feminists.

Women have gone absolutely nutso.

Tattoos abound everywhere on everyone.


Established law is ignored while implied law is enforced.

Spanish is becoming the primary language.

English is being warped to mean things it never has meant before.

Everyone lies about their lives.

Nobody owns their land and never will own their land.

The nuclear family is dead.

Is this garbage, rot, decay, filth and depravity worth saving? I don’t know. Perhaps it is time to scrap it all, cull the herd significantly and start from a clean slate.

[7] It’s not the illegals that’ll getcha, it’s the rich legals who hide in plain sight, who’s evil doings are shrouded in secrecy and financial chicanery. The illegals? They’re just poor schlubs like the rest of us trying to get by. The working poor – formerly the “middle class” – will always be their own worst enemy.

[8]‘PLAYA GODS, PLEASE STOP': My very muddy day at Burning Man

by Ashley Harrell

When it starts raining at Burning Man, don’t be on your bike near the man. I learned this the hard way about 4 p.m. Friday, when the sky opened above Black Rock Desert, transforming its dirt into thick mud. Just minutes before, a fellow Burner and I had, for some reason, decided we needed photos of the man — which was scheduled to burn Saturday night in a cathartic destruction ritual — and wheeled toward the towering figure.

As soon as we got out to the man, it began to drizzle, and that’s really all it took. Our bicycle tires started to accumulate mud. It also caked onto our shoes, making it challenging to walk. We were stranded near the man along with a few dozen other Burners, some of whom wore rain jackets and secured plastic bags over their boots. One guy ran by barefoot, wearing only blue angel wings and a Speedo. Another announced over a megaphone, “Playa gods, please stop, we want to go home.” We asked for a ride from a ranger in his truck, but we were told there is currently no driving allowed on the playa.

After about an hour of carrying and dragging our bikes and nearly hyperventilating, we reached Center Camp, and found it mostly deserted. We left our bikes there and set out on foot, but our camp was nearly a mile away. We still haven’t made it back. Instead, the lovely people at a camp called Ebb & Glow took us in, and fed us hot chocolate and ramen. Soon, we might try to slide back to our camp through the mud and rain. But the dance party next door is currently looking like the better option.


* * *

BURNING MAN '23. More than 70,000 Burning Man attendees in the Nevada desert are now stuck with nobody allowed to leave or enter the site following torrential rainstorms, more of which were expected on Sunday. The storms have transformed the event grounds into a muddy quagmire bringing the final weekend of the high-energy festival to an abrupt halt as freezing overnight temperatures began at nightfall. 

* * *

BURNING MAN '23: Think of it tho. Here you are, a neo hippie stuck in a miserable remote desert with no way out, up to your knees in mud, more rain predicted, stoned out of your gourd on Oaxacan Red … You were seeking a Woodstock experience, but what you got is an Altamont experience.

“What a bummer,” as they used to say.

A diamondback rattler is slithering toward your tent, a scorpion has crawled inside your sleeping bag. Suddenly ‘Gaia’ doesn’t look so much like the nurturing ‘Earth Mother.’ Instead, it’s a hostile entity out to kill you.

Paranoia sets in.

One Comment

  1. Ralph Witherell September 6, 2023

    Since nobody else said it. Your photo of Bonnie yesterday knocked my socks off. Damn!

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