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Off the Record (October 11, 2023)

A READER WRITES: In regards to the Assessor Report: This is what happens when an office is combined and all the importance is focused on Elections. Ironically we have only found out about this because Bowtie Ted and his fellow Stupidvisors combined another office and then waged personal attacks on the elected Auditor/Treasurer-Tax Collector. Why? Because they don’t like her, it’s that simple. She held people accountable on their budgets and questioned the egotistical DA. Supervisors don’t like this.

“LET’S TALK about the Assessor’s Office which over 20 years ago was combined and since has been under the direction of Marsha Wharf, Sue Ranochak and now Katrina Bartolomie. Elections are its sole purpose in the minds of these three and they have allowed the Assessor to lose valuable knowledge and walk out the door. Staffing is at an all-time low because Ms. Bartolomie simply doesn’t care about this part of the office. She is only focused on it now because she has been forced to by Bowtie’s ridiculous rants against Ms. Cubbison. Bowtie Ted has praised this office in the past, REALLY! They are 2 years behind in reassessing properties that have sold. In the end Ms. Bartolomie figured out that if you kiss Bowtie’s back end, it keeps you out of the crosshairs.”

“BE AWESOME TODAY,” a handwritten sign on a tree near my house in San Anselmo, a mausoleum-like neighborhood of absolute silence, the only human-type people to be seen are dog walkers who use the elementary school down the street as a dog park, chatting in oblivious knots, uncaring that they're putting their dogs — “fur babies” as the extremely depraved anthromorphs call their animals —ahead of the health of children. Be awesome today. The message annoys me every which way. Awesome how? Like the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon? It has never occurred to me or anybody I know to inspire awesomeness, and what kind of feeb of a busybody thinks random passersby might need a shot of false uplift? What's with this deluge of superlatives anyway? Down with awesome!

BRANDON CRAWFORD was an awesome shortstop, a delight to watch, an artist on the baseball field. Brock Purdy looks like he's going to be an awesome quarterback, and is there any running back now running more awesome than Christian McCaffrey? Any receiver more awesome than Brandon Aiyuk?

I WAS JUST READING our comment line having to do with the alleged crimes of Mendocino County's Children's Protective Services agency, which I tend to think are truthful, off my own experience with that office some years ago. But that long ago experience, covered in all its grisly detail in print in the pre-cyber ava, was a story of the most egregious, most ignorant, least competent, most heartless social workers I've ever dealt with. And that whole dreary mob was backed to the max by the judge. Guess what? The dumbest, least responsible person of that bunch was appointed boss of the whole criminally defective office, none of whom had children of their own or had ever raised children.

THE ONGOING problem with CPS Mendo, and it's probably worse in most urban places, is that there's no oversight. Wealthy parents can hire a lawyer to fight arbitrary custody decisions. 

YOU LOSE YOUR CHILDREN in private. The whole process is secret, in camera, as the legal eagles say to protect themselves from public scrutiny. Occasionally, some outraged schlub will get in touch with us to tell his or her unhappy story of his or her experience with these dubious, tax-paid protectors of children, who will remain dubious so long as custody hearings remain closed to the public. 

OUR CHILD-PROTECTING JUDGE nowadays is Cindi Mayfield. She, as all the custody judges before her, and we're talking a legal context of nine go-along-to-get-along lawyers here in Mendo, automatically takes the social worker's word for whatever the social worker presents as the custody truth. The justice system being class-based, and the working or poor parent being financially unable to defend him or herself, the parent is in a No-Win situation.

AS IT HAPPENS, I just got this message today: “I would like to stay anonymous. I have a story that would peak your interest. CPS is kidnapping my daughters and covering up sexual abuse of both of my daughters who are babies.”

I DUNNO. Allegations of sexual child abuse have become so common in divorce and custody proceedings, I'll need a medical doctor's declaration that the child, or children in this case, have truly been violated. Saying so is inherently not credible.

BABIES BEING MOLESTED? Thanks to the prevalence of pornography and the general psycho-social collapse of what used to be common assumptions of moral behavior, we all know that there are more free range degenerates out there than ever, but I have to assume most people remain committed to the inviolate sanctity of children.

TED WILLIAMS: “Mark [Scaramella]’s job here is to critique the board, and I understand wanting a game-changing plan rolled out at a board meeting. It’s not possible. Changes are happening. Look at the cumulative impact of agenda items, a number sponsored by me, and you have an approved restructuring. … We’ve already dipped into reserves. I’m not against using reserves again, but it must be treated as one-time funds because this is a structural deficit, not an off-year. Revenue is increasing slower than market wages due to the fed printing too much money. Assessment and tax collection are important, but even if it were operating at 100%, we still have diverging trends between revenue and cost of operations.”

MARK SCARAMELLA REPLIES: We have never “wanted a game-changing plan” from Williams and his colleagues — we are not fantasists. We have simply pointed out that the Board is not paying attention to basic tax collection in the wake of their having blown up that office with their ill-advised and unplanned consolidation despite Williams now saying it’s “important.” In recent meetings, Williams goes on and on about what he insists is a “structural deficit” and possibly bankruptcy. But he hasn’t proposed a single specific thing to close the deficit, preferring to speculate about bankruptcy as an alternative and then putting on his hairshirt when his colleagues don’t think bankruptcy is imminent. If “the cumulative impact of agenda items, a number sponsored by me [Williams]” amounts to any significant savings it’s invisible to us. Williams does not list them, or tell us what the savings or restructuring was. 

Canceling a few committees and trying to abandon a few local parks has not and will not save much, if anything.

The CEO claims to have found over $5 million in savings but has not listed them or assessed their impact.

The only significant “restructuring” this Board has done is the aforementioned consolidation of the Auditor and Tax Collector offices which no one else in the County supported and which has done nothing but make the deficit worse.

If Williams puts serious tax collection and assessment status reporting requirements on an agenda, we will reconsider. But so far, there’s no evidence that Williams or his colleagues even appreciate the size or significance of the tax collection problem.

WESTERN CIV, Boonville branch, seems to be winding down. There are somewhere between 8-10 feral cats roaming my property, about half of them kittens. So I called Animal Control, Ukiah. The lady who answered explained that if I trap them, I can get on a list that's two months long to bring them in two at a time, two months from now. Then I get back on the end of the list, and I can bring in two more cats. Meanwhile, the fecund little beasts are reproducing themselves at Darwinian speed. Do the math! At this rate I could be on Mendocino County's feral cat waiting list for years, and every morning when I open my door, I will continue to be bullrushed by starving cats. Without mentioning names, but several friends of mine simply shoot the pesky little critters with their scoped 22's. I could name any number of people I'd prefer to shoot before cats, but the former is, unfortunately, against the law, the latter cruel.

BREAKDOWN NOTES CONTINUED. In Tuesday's mail, a bill for $680 from PG&E. I screamed. Five alarmed cats outside my window scattered. Last year about this time PG&E suddenly cut us off. A frantic call to Bombay or wherever the hell gave me over to a pleasant-sounding woman with the unpleasant task  of dealing with irate customers all day. She patiently explained that we were so far in arrears in our monthly payments that unless we paid up immediately we would remain in the dark. BofA credit card at 16 extortionate percent monthly interest . (Usury was an original sin, but our country runs on it.) The prob, as it turned out, PG&E had been mailing our bill to the wrong address. Their error but we had to pay. PG&E hadn't informed us that from then on we'd be paying some mystery fee a year in advance, hence today's sudden bill for $680. And we're solarized. And we belong to Sonoma Clean Power. Neither of which have saved us a bleeping dime. (Sonoma Clean Power was endorsed by former Supervisor Hamburg. That endorsement alone should have alerted me that I was making irreversible power blunders.)

PG&E, in theory, is a public utility. But long ago it was parceled out as a for-profit, meaning shareholders and wildly overpaid executives are the company's first and only priority, and remains their first priority as they commenced murdering many of their customers in NorCal via un-maintained equipment. PG&E is probably the most unpopular corporate monopoly operating in the state, with AT&T running a close second. If I weren't presiding over a dying newspaper business, I'd cancel both of them. Back to candles and handwritten communications! But, but, but....Wouldn't you be cold in the winter without electric heat? Lonely without the Global Village? Thermal underwear, children, and wood heat. But, but, but… What would you do without the internet and your telephone? If the internet disappeared this afternoon I'd rejoice, and I'd borrow a phone from a passerby in case of an emergency. Back to the 19th century, I say, which is where we're headed anyway. 

RFK JR. has announced he will run a third party campaign after the Democrats, natch have pulled out all the stops to sab him as a Democratic candidate. “Bobby feels that the DNC is changing the rules to exclude his candidacy so an independent run is the only way to go,” a Kennedy campaign staffer said. “How are we going to win against the established Washington interests?” RFK Jr. added. “It’s not through playing the game.” 

KENNEDY has major crackpot tendencies, but in a nation of crackpots crackpot-ism shouldn't count against him. The last straw for the Democrat shot callers seemed to be Kennedy's comment that Covid did not kill Chinese and Ashkenazi Jews, which does not seem to be backed up by the statistical reality. He's also said all over the place he's for even more aid to the apartheid state of Israel.

READER'S COMMENT: Diminuendo” from Michael Nolan of Comptche in the letters section is awfully sweet and soul-felt! He could more or less be talking about me and mine as I face the 40th HS Reunion in a couple of weeks.

THIS SAM BANKMAN-FRIED KID, alleged crypto-currency swindler, is all over the news. Slipping into therapy mode here, and having read a long, interesting article about the lad in The New Yorker, and having watched the 60 Minutes interview with Michael Lewis who has written a whole book about Sam out just this week, my sole credentials, I say Sam is innocent, not having one whit of ability to intentionally defraud anyone. 

CRYPTO, the word, means “seeming” or “hidden,” so you're running out to buy Sam's bitcoin because it seems like money? Tom Brady, Steph Curry, some unfunny comedian, all picked up big checks advertising Sam’s crypto, so beguiled by the boy genius's uniqueness.

BANKMAN-FRIED is a high ability savant, a math wizard who, probably like high ability math savants everywhere, was instantly beguiled by crypto's complicated mechanics. (Unlike you or me, savants can really, really focus. Can you multiply 5678 by 9547 in your head in three seconds? No? You can't play, then.) He, they, are not normal. This guy in particular had one desire — using his rare gift to make a lot of money real fast so he could do good things with it unlike, say, the Koch Brothers or Trump. 

THE BOY literally didn't know what he was doing beyond piling up billions and shifting all those big numbers around various accounts. And crypto being based entirely on faith in its viability, when a competing crypto-magnate said he didn't think Sam's empire was sustainable, all Sam's investors ran, as in a run on a big bank. As Michael Lewis pointed out on 60 Minutes, if Bankman-Fried had turned over management to a capable underling, the kid would still be sailing on towards his dreams of making money work for the common good. 

THE FEDERAL PROSECUTOR says Bankman-Fried's empire was “built on lies.” I don't think so. Bankman-Fried is about as capable of deliberate lies as a three-year-old. He is utterly without guile, a rare innocent adrift in a sea of moral turpitude. Sad story, really. The feds will put him away for a long time, when all that is really required is to ban him from any kind of financial involvement more complicated than his credit card.

THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY let it be known to several of his intimates that he intended to run for the Ten Mile Court judge job presently occupied by Clay Brennan. Judge jobs are your basic sinecure. The people who enjoy them will, of course, fight to hold on to them.

EYSTER, early on in Brennan's Mendo tenure, took an entirely irrational dislike to the harmless, pot smoking newcomer, and here the DA is years later hoping to knock Brennan clear off the bench in a clear case of personal revenge.

THE ELECTION PROBLEM for Eyster seems to have been immediate. He ran his possible candidacy up the Courthouse flagpole and nobody, I mean nobody, saluted, which may have caused Mendo's top law enforcement officer to pause for a re-think of his electoral plans.

COULD HE DEFEAT Brennan? Probably. Judge elections are county-wide, which would give Eyster a big advantage in name recognition since Brennan is known only among the Mendocino Coast's defendant community, few of whom vote. Brennan might also be fairly well known among the Westside Ukiah's royal family where his ex-wife, Mari Rodin, has long presided as Queen Mother. Since her majesty would also take a big fiscal hit, presumably, if her ex were deposed, Rodin can probably be counted on to round up the Westside's aristocracy for her former husband.

EYSTER'S STRENGTHS? Well, he has a smart and charming wife and he's a lawn guy, but how many lawn people are there in a rural county like this one? Hell, half the population came here to escape lawns!

DIANE FEINSTEIN’S finest hour was when she took the lead in publicizing Sy Hersh’s Abu Ghraib expose, which was bold by conventional standards. (But being against torture is hardly a singular virtue.) The short-lived assault weapons ban was ok, albeit hardly a controversial target for anyone but the NRA and its membership. However, as Tim Redmond has pointed out both at the time and recently, Feinstein was a full-throated, full-time flak for SF and California real estate and development interests during her tenure as a Supervisor and as a Senator. She also was instrumental (with Clinton and Garamendi) in maxing out the big Maxxam giveaway to corporate raider and fraudster Charles Hurwitz to save old growth trees that would have been illegal to cut down if they had simply enforced the law. I could go on. (Mark Scaramella)

THE OTHER DAY Trump said one of the big problems with America is the “Marxist liberals,” a basic contradiction, not that Trump cares. The point he's making is that his critics are worse than wrong, they're subversives. They “hate America.” And millions of people believe him.

 I WISH I had a dollar for every time I've been called a communist. I've known a lot of communists but I'm not one. I'm a… Wait for it… I'm a socialist. Viva socialista! 

COMMUNISTS are an extinct species in America, with socialists on the endangered lists, and excuse the broad brush here, communists would promote the violent overthrow of capitalism, which isn't a bad idea, but what comes afterwards, at least in Russia, is the murders of anyone who gets in the way of the new order. Socialists would vote in the collective ownership off all the large-scale resources and businesses. (Cuba was much less bloody than the Russian Revolution, confining executions pretty much to people who had it coming for doing the dirty work for the Batista dictatorship. China was not a tea party, and although still called a communist country it's really more like fascism — state capitalism.

RUSSIAN COMMUNISM, on the basis of my half-assed scholarship, would have been much more humane if Lenin had lived longer and if Trotsky had succeeded him. Lenin wanted Trotsky to succeed him, not Stalin, but like lots of intellectuals Trotsky underestimated people less smart than him, and Stalin, “the man of steel,” took power and millions of people, not just in Russia, died. Stalin stalked Trotsky all the way to Mexico where one of his international assassins finished off Trotsky with an ax to the head. A socialist would have argued with Trotsky, not murdered him.

SOCIALISTS used to be common in America. Many areas of Idaho, today a Maga bastion, saw many socialists elected as mayors and city councilmen. Right here in Mendo there were lots of socialists on the coast from the Scandinavian countries, especially Finland. If they'd been dominant, they'd have logged the forests as a cooperative, not looted them like LP and GP did for short-term profit taking, with the profits going to wealthy people far from Mendocino County. A socialist cooperative would have divided the profits among the people who harvested the trees.

AS A KID, I was naturally, instinctively drawn to the left by reading and by my experience working at the lowest rungs of free enterprise. It was hard to miss the built-in cruelties of a system that ground down the millions of people ill-equipped to make their way in it, nevermind the lethally deliberate exclusion of black and brown people.

BUT COMMUNISM was way too tough for me. I couldn't have taken the Czar's family down into that basement and shot them all, down to the last child and even their servants. Intellectually, I understand why Lenin did it, and from all I know about it the order to shoot the Romanovs — all of them — came from Lenin himself. If they'd been allowed to emigrate, to live, they would have served as a rallying center for the thousands of displaced Russian aristocrats, and the many hostile foreign governments, to rally around as the rightful government of Russia. Lenin figured they had to go and they went. 

HARRY FISHER was a communist, and a friend of mine. He'd fought for the elected left government in Spain as a member of the Lincoln Brigade, leftwing Americans who'd gone to Spain hoping to stop the insurgent fascists under Franco from overthrowing the legitimate Spanish government. Fisher told me a story about how his unit of Americans had captured a fascist officer, “a kid in his early twenties. The kid kept shouting fascist slogans. Some of our guys wanted to execute him on the spot.. So we took a vote. I voted no, but the majority voted to kill him. ‘They'd do it to us.’ was the main argument for shooting him. I've never forgotten it,” Harry said. The point? Socialists would have voted not to shoot the boy. (The best book on the Spanish Civil War is Orwell's ‘Homage to Catalonia.’)

EVER NOTICE the absence in many bookstores, new and used, of true crime books? There are thousands of nonfiction true crime tomes out there, but they're hard to find on bookstore shelves. I've always envied Ann Rule's break-through idea that made her a fortune — simply re-write and jazz up police reports. Why didn’t I think of that? Her most interesting book, for my money, is the one she wrote about a charming young man she worked with on liberal political campaigns, Ted Bundy. Ann had no idea her smart, unfailingly polite workmate was spending his recreational hours raping and murdering young women, 37 of them in all.

WHICH brings me to the AVA's true crime collections, Behind the Green Curtain and Mendo Noir, steady sellers going on 25 years now, and a bunch of Mendo crime stories yet to be collected. The stories hold up pretty well, if I do say so myself, as pictures of Mendocino County at the time.


Mine, too. My purples bloomed only last week.

RECOMMENDED VIEWING, the Hulu documentary called ‘While The Rest Of Us Die.’ A step-by-step filmic explanation of how we've been betrayed by our corporate-bought national government, and how we've arrived where we presently are, on many brinks of multiple disasters.

THERE HAVE BEEN a spate of media stories and videos on yobbos fighting in the stands at football games. Been happening for years, but now with internet videos the cretinous drunks who brawl with opposing fans are recorded on film. Women fighting in the stands might be new, at least new in my limited experience of boorish ballpark misbehavior, but given the general deterioration of public decorum not surprising.


[1] It will be the workers, with their courage, resolution, and self-sacrifice, who will be chiefly responsible for achieving victory. The petty bourgeoisie will hesitate as long as possible and remain fearful, irresolute and inactive; but when victory is certain it will claim it for itself and will call upon the workers to behave in an orderly fashion, and it will exclude the proletariat from the fruits of victory.

[2] Is it too early for Indian Summer? Beautiful day with bright sun, gentle breeze, and temps in the mid 80s. What a day to be alive! After two years I got my old British Army Motorcycle going and rode it down to the donut shop where a guy asked me “Are we being invaded by the British?” I told him not yet but I’d heard the Rolling Stones are making one last tour, the final ‘Farewell Tour’. Mick Jagger has to be in his early 80s; one wonders how he does it. And why Keith Richards is still alive.

[3] Today’s laugh-out-loud moment:

“At the height of his wealth, Sam Bankman-Fried reached out to President Trump’s advisors and asked for a monetary amount that he could pay the GOP leader to refrain from challenging President Joe Biden to a rematch. The amount SBF said he offered, Michael Lewis reported, was $5 billion.

‘Sam’s thinking we could pay Donald Trump not to run for president, like how much would it take?… He did get an answer. There was a number that was kicking around, and the number that was kicking around when I was talking to Sam was $5 billion,’ said Lewis.

“Sam was not sure that number came directly from Trump… The question Sam had was, not just was $5 billion enough to pay Trump not to run, but was it legal?” he added.

Asked why SBF didn’t complete the deal, Lewis said that the tech mogul was in the midst of watching his empire collapse as investors fled the crypto market he created. ‘He didn’t have $5 billion anymore,’ Lewis said.”

[4] Marijuana: Don’t get into the game. Keep your guns, keep your cash and grow your own stash.

Beer is pretty easy to make, too.

Plenty of ways to fight inflation and produce your own libations.

Just plain silly how many folks are spending money and extreme effort to produce product with ever dwindling returns. That train has left the station and it’s not coming back. Scale and corporatism is what keeps vegetable and fruit prices low to maintain a profit margin. Same is already happening for marijuana.

Only reason there’s a false demand for marijuana are the states that haven’t legalized it yet. Once the feds reschedule it…

Game over.

[5] I read a book about death before the 20th century, back when I used to read books.

Back then, what we now call premature death was much more commonplace, and it happened at home much more often than it does now. And the visitation and wake happened at home, also.

Plus, kids died too, a lot. So the survivors grew up knowing that it could happen at any time.

It was common for people, including children, to think about what they wanted their last words to be. I always thought that Oscar Wilde was so clever to say “Either that wallpaper goes or I do,” but it’s possible he had that line all ready to go when he did.

Halloween is another pagan holiday taken over and used by the Catholics when they took over various pagan societies.

It wasn’t really a kid’s holiday back in the day. Just saying…

[6] Nearly everyone I know, friends and relatives, think I’m a doomsday kook because I don’t believe the American suburban lifestyle has a future. They don’t appreciate my warning them and they think my primitive living styles and practices are not a sign of prepping and skepticism but of madness and poor health. Food will always be available in abundance at grocery stores, and gasoline will always be available for their cars no matter what else happens. Asking about how their transportation needs will work out without using automobiles only gets me a blank stare or changing the subject. They aren’t about to answer that question. The wise old owls out there know that God has promised us comfy cornucopian living from here to eternity!

[7] “All that money sent to Ukraine will end up being a waste.”

No. It does not go like that. Rather, it goes like this:

Biden says, “Give Ukraine $24B.”

Congress says, “Done!”

Treasury says to Fed, “Another $24B, please.”

Fed giggles (while maniacally rubbing its hands together).

Fed says, “Done!”

MIC says, “Over here!”

Treasury says, “Done!”

MIC then pockets the $24B and sends its over-priced clear-out old inventory (shipped on yet different tax dollars) to Ukraine.

Bob’s your uncle.

The money is not “gone” or “wasted” or “left the country.” Actually, it never leaves DC the whole time.


(a) I keep hearing rumblings that people are struggling to make ends meet and that our money is failing. I heard today that the average new car payment is $760 per month. Nearly what my mortgage was before I paid it off. For a car! Oddly, it seems the majority of people are driving much newer cars than my 2007 Tacoma. I go to the stores and shopping carts being pushed by fat tattooed ladies who raided their husbands tool box for facial jewelry, are full of soda, candies and sports drinks. Then I drive around and I see elaborate halloween displays of 15 foot tall skeletons and pumpkin head monsters, inflatable jack-o-lantern displays, lights and motion activated witches and goblins. One of those 15 foot tall pumpkin headed monsters costs nearly $200 and they don’t have just one, they have three. The lottery is upwards of $1.2 billion and rising as millions of hopeless Americans pour their hard earned or Government gifted monies into the most immoral tax ever instituted. So my question is, Where in the hell are these people getting all of this money? I live debt free and stay pretty conservative. I have money saved and I still don’t have enough money or desire to buy a new car. Someone please tell me how people are doing this?

(b) Guy up the street just installed a realistic 20-plus foot skeleton. I can’t imagine what that cost. Nightmare stuff for a little kid that can see it out the window. The skeleton fight scene in “Jason and the Argonauts” scared the shit out of me as a six year old.

(c) And a couple jack o’ lanterns carved from pumpkins with candles inside; some potted mums are nice too. I miss simple Halloween decorations. I have mused about how this came to pass; conclusion is Big Corp can monetize anything and convince people to buy everything from cheap plastic crap to high dollar stuff for your outdoor living room complete with a big flatscreen TV. “Aspirational lifestyle” magazines do a good job of creating demand. Walked down the Halloween candy aisle a couple days ago and was stunned at the prices. My street hasn’t gotten trick or treaters in years, so I stopped buying candy. For families living in neighborhoods with lots of children, can’t imagine the tab for candy, and costumes for their kids, let alone the yard crap.


  1. Chuck Dunbar October 11, 2023

    Bruce, I see that you have repeated here your your fact-free rant about Mendocino County CPS (Family and Children’s Services), without including my thoughtful response to you on the same day, based on fact and experience.

    Put bluntly, that’s just chicken shit journalism on your part.

    • Bruce Anderson October 11, 2023

      An oversight, Chuck. It was supposed to be included. I don’t know why it wasn’t. I’ll check with The Major.

      • Chuck Dunbar October 11, 2023

        Thank you Bruce, I apologize then.

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