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Off the Record (Nov 19, 2014)

MARK BISHOP, former County Psychiatric Nurse, writes: “The Mental Health Board is set to meet this week and my guess is Ortner Management Group will send their 'trick ponies' to the show in an attempt to deflect, dodge or otherwise de-value the truth. A suggestion for the Board would be to get the information from the horses while they are present and ask any OMG attendee some very basic and forthright questions regarding delivery of care in Mendocino County: 1) How many clients was OMG given from the COUNTY when the transfer was initiated? Of those clients turned over to OMG, how many are currently being served by OMG or ICMS and how? What happened to the remaining clients? 2) What is the OMG process of placing a 5150 (involuntary psychiatric hold)? During my time as the ICMS Director, we were emphatically told by Ortner’s Todd Harris that NO placement would be made by the ICMS unless a call or fax went to OMG Corporate Placement Officer, Jessica Riley. It was further explained to me that she had “no capacity” to influence the Crisis staff decisions on placement, BUT ALL completed 5150 hospitalization packets were sent to her no matter the time of day. Without fail, Mrs. John Riley would receive the packet and instruct us to do nothing more regarding placement of the client. The very first consideration given to ANY 5150 client by RN Riley was to be sent to NORTH VALLEY BEHAVIORAL HEALTH (Ortner’s operation in Yuba City). It seemed as though consideration and placement in other facilities was only given if Jessica Riley was unable to get the client placed at North Valley. So, the next question could be to ask what affiliation does OMG and namely the Rileys have to North Valley Behavioral Health Psychiatric Facility? Why are no other facilities entertained until North Valley is? Do OMG or the Rileys profit in any way from placement in that facility? Finally, the word on the street is that OMG has consumed the CONTRACT money and made an emergent appeal for special monies last week that was granted. If that is true, Tom Pinizzotto, Tom Ortner and the OMG cast of clowns need to be shown legal ropes. It is time to hide in the BRIGHT LIGHT, OMG!”

THE FISHER FAMILY, clothing moguls, own a big hunk of Mendocino County (and a big chunk of Humboldt County, too) via the Mendocino Redwood Company and the Humboldt Redwood Company. The Fishers are also funding the artificial turf presently being installed at the west end of Golden Gate Park where presently there's several hundred yards of gopher holes and clumps of grass on which young people attempt to play soccer. Critics of artificial turf say you can get cancer if you spend a lot of time on it, and a bunch of chemo-phobes are opposed to Fisher's gift.

I'D SAY a kid can get cancer a lot faster from sitting among the visuals of school architecture and the chemical stews of his classroom than he might get playing soccer several times a week on astro-turf, much improved over the years with a lot more cush than it used to have. Turf toe is the big risk from artificial turf, not cancer.

ANOTHER GROUP of critics say the west end of the park should remain more or less in its natural state, although the central areas of the park are given over every year to mob scene music concerts that don't belong in parks which, some of us may recall, were designed as respites from the surrounding urban melee.

GOLDEN GATE PARK'S west end playing fields, as they are, are unplayable but will be quite busy with a reliable artificial surface. I went out there a couple of times to watch my niece play in a girl's league. Little kids will play anywhere, of course, but that day a little kid twisted her ankle when she stepped in a gopher hole, and that place is all gopher holes. It was the worst surface I've seen in the city. Yup, I'm for artificial turf no matter who pays for it.

CROCKER-AMAZON PARK is a vast expanse out in the “southeast quadrant” (as the cops say) of the city. For years it was a desert populated only by lurks and dopeheads. Nobody played anything there except Stay Away. Frisco's oligarchs paid for artificial turf and today Crocker-Amazon is a paradise of all-age sport.

MAINTAINING a natural playing field costs a lot of money and manpower. Here in Boonville, the Fairgrounds hosts football games on a field also used for rodeos and other hard-on-the-turf events. At a recent high school football game, the referees were compelled to call a time-out while a particularly deep and hazardous hole was filled. Lots of us wish the Fishers would fund artificial turf for the Boonville Fairgrounds. In its present state, the playing surface represents a guaranteed trip to the ER and subsequent lives of knee pain for survivors.

YES, MY FELLOW SERFS, basic public amenities are now dependent on the generosity of the oligarchs who own US. Instead of taxing the One Percenters to tote their fair share of the social load we now go to them hat in hand to beg for a little giveback.

THE SUPERVISORS unanimously voted Tuesday to fund a one-year, $160,000 Laura's Law pilot program. Under a 2003 mental health stipulation, the courts can require outpatient treatment, including medication, for the volatile mentally ill.

DEPARTMENT OF NO SHAME: Back in mid-September we complained that lame duck Mendo County schools chief Paul Tichinin planned to spend edu-funds on a couple of pointless jaunts to distant conferences. We'd hoped the County School Board would not approve the trips. They did approve the trips.

HERE'S the history: County Schools chief, Paul Tichinin, does not need to make two lame duck jaunts on the public's dime, and that the overall County Schools travel budget is a travesty, County Schools responded to criticism from the Ukiah Daily Journal's KC Meadows this way: “KC, The total Travel and Conferences budget for MCOE for 14-15 is $228,421. See page 25 of the MCOE Budget book, which is posted on our website. General Admin’s portion of that total is $81,328 for 14-15. General Admin includes the Board of Education, and 40+ employees of the following departments: Human Resources, Superintendent, IT — Computer, Business Services, Maintenance and Operations, Psychs and Nurses. See page 51 of the MCOE budget book for detail. If you have further questions please don’t hesitate to call. Victoria Gulick Confidential Administrative Assistant Mendocino County Office of Education…”

MCOE claims that all of the County's “educators” are free to draw on an annual $147,093 while Tichinin and his Talmage heavy hitters draw a mere $81,328.

I WROTE to the put-upon Ms. Gulick, Tichinin's secretary (she has to front for these thieves) to ask her if I could get a breakdown, by name, of the people other than Tichinin traveling on the edu-dime. I assume Tichinin apportions most of it with some going to his pals at the individual school districts of Mendocino County. But unless we know who spent how much going where, these overall budget numbers remain opaque. The real point is, these people are taking money that should go to classrooms.

MS. G REPLIED: “The travel budget is not broken down by employee, but by department. MCOE's budget is on our website at the link below, for your information: (Ed note: Caution, this is a very large 69 megabyte file)

“We have some countywide and Region 1 grants that pay travel for individuals who are not MCOE employees. Whether or not an AVUSD employee used MCOE travel funds, without an employee name, it would be difficult to determine, since funds are tracked by MCOE department. MCOE will often reimburse districts directly. For example, if a district employee attends a conference that MCOE agrees to pay for, the employee's travel claim is paid by the district and then the district bills MCOE. Please let me know if you have other questions. Victoria Gulick, Confidential Administrative Assistant, Mendocino County Office of Education, 2240 Old River Road, Ukiah, CA 95482, (707) 467-5001,“

IN OTHER WORDS, my boss gets to go wherever he wants and all this makes perfect sense to me and him both.

PREVALENT inland rumor says that Paul Joens-Poulton — Tichinin's candidate — dropped out of the race for Superintendent of Schools after making a deal with winning candidate Galletti, the deal being that J-P would drop his candidacy if Galletti, who was cruising to an easy win anyway, agreed not to fire J-P once Galletti was in office.

BRUCE McEWEN'S fine story last week on the travails of Peter Richardson, reminds us that Richardson may have been sent spinning off the rails when he was totally screwed as contractor for a big Ukiah School District construction project (Grace Hudson Elementary, south Ukiah). A slimy edu-crat called Jack Daniels — a walking insult to the bold whisky by the same name — blamed, via tax-paid free lawyers provided by the school district, that construction delays associated with flawed architectural plans and constant changes in those plans were Richardson's fault. Richardson went seriously broke trying to make the constant plan changes the architect kept coming up with without getting paid for them. Later, Pete sued for reimbursement of at least some his overbudget costs but couldn't afford to keep on litigating with the school district's free lawyers.

I WONDER if I'm the only Mendo person who always feels like some mysteriously destructive force has reached into my skull and removed his cognitive apparatus after any interface (as the edu-people describe human communication) with a professional “educator”? America, of course, is the only country in the world that puts stupid people in charge of the education of the young, and dealing with these stupid people at any level of the vast edu-empire they dominate can be crazy-making.

FOR YEARS I DRAGGED MYSELF to school board meetings around the County — hundreds in Boonville, a couple in Fort Bragg, a bunch in Mendocino. And I attended lots of County School Board meetings where I became so unwelcome MCOE tried to get a court order banning me from attending.

SCHOOL BOARD MEETINGS and school boards, and we won't even get into a deconstruction of school administrators, are universally depressing to anyone aware that the typical end product of 12 years of "education" in this country can barely read and can't write at all. Neither can most school administrators, an old fact recently confirmed by the November elections. But from all the smiley faces and chirping about how wonderfully effective the "program" is at school board meetings is so far from the reality you look around the room and wonder, "Jesu Cristo! Are these people this stupid or are they nuts?" Both, with a lot of natural born nuzzlebum thrown into the mental mix.

TO ATTEND ANY KIND of school meeting is kinda like walking into Woody Woodpecker's family reunion. Everyone is  semi-hysterical at unfunny remarks, and every one in the room is so obviously capable of great crimes if they so much as suspect there's a threat to their sinecures, their on-board, Nice People status, they'll come up shooting.

LOTS OF FORT BRAGGERS think the Main Street realignment project is a likely fiasco, and if you agree that this project is another city council fiasco, please sign and pass it along to your email lists.


IN UNHAPPY NEWS from Willits, as first reported by the Willits Weekly, John's Place, the legendary Willits bar, has been destroyed by an apparent arson. We understand that the troubled upstairs tenant that John’s Place had been trying to evict, Ms. Lacey Ross, set her apartment on fire and then engaged the Willits Police Department in an armed standoff as she held the gun to her head, thus preventing the firefighters from getting at the blaze.

THE McDOWELL SUBDIVISION? ViTo (VillageTowns) wants to build an entire town to look like an old European village on the present site of McDowell Vineyards just east of Hopland. These idea people find a place with lots of undeveloped land in places ready to pop for growth. What they usually don't have is the money to do it. They get local areas to buy in and then they go find money.


CONGRESSMAN Huffman has added his tinny tin-tin voice to the almost-certainly futile resistance against the Keystone XL Pipeline, a controversial project aimed at channeling oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast. Huff said the project “a very early Christmas present from the United States Congress to one specific Canadian company” and, wittily extending the metaphor, “a huge lump of coal for our global climate.”

A ROAD TAX? Mendo’s Transportation Czar, Director Howard Deshield, told the Board of Supervisor last Tuesday, (Nov. 4), that the state’s road rating number for Mendocino County “is not good. The board is aware of that.” Deshield suggested that the Board set up an informational meeting between the Board, Mendocino Council of Governments (the County’s transportation planning organization) Director Phil Dow to “maybe talk a little more about the rating system and maybe have a discussion about a sales tax.” Supervisor Dan Gjerde said they could make it part of the Board’s upcoming “Goal Setting Workshop.” And outgoing Supervisor John Pinches suggested they set it up in January, after the new Board is seated, presumably with Supervisor-elect Tom Woodhouse on board.


A WILLITS MAN was sentenced Friday to 25 years to life in prison for dragging his 84-year-old grandfather behind a truck for six miles then dumping what remained of his body down a ravine. Mendocino County Judge John Behnke during the sentencing hearing described the March 2012 killing as “heinous, inexplicable and terrible.” Several family members attended the sentencing hearing for Kenneth Wilkinson, 25. They wept during and after the proceedings. “We lost two people,” said Lori Tharp, Kenneth Wilkinson’s aunt and the victim’s daughter.

RICHARD 'MEL' WILKINSON had lived with his daughter before his horrific death. She and her husband had left her father in Kenneth Wilkinson’s care for a short time while they went out. The younger Wilkinson and several cousins also lived on the rural property outside Willits. They, too, were away from the property when their grandfather was killed. Mel Wilkinson, a retired lumber mill worker suffering from dementia, had six children and 29 grandchildren.

WILKINSON has never provided a reasonable or consistent explanation for his actions, Mendocino County Assistant District Attorney Paul Sequeira said during the hearing. He warned the defendant that parole will elude him unless he explains himself. “He will never get out of prison until he comes clean,” Sequeira said.

JAN COLE-WILSON, Wilkinson's attorney, disagreed. She said the crux of Wilkinson’s story has been consistent. Wilkinson told authorities he was intoxicated at the time and that he had gotten into an argument with his grandfather, who called him a "junkie drug addict", according to court documents. Wilkinson reportedly was trying to stay free of drugs, but blood tests taken several hours into the death investigation indicated he had small amounts of methamphetamine, marijuana and alcohol in his system. Deputies said he appeared intoxicated and smelled of alcohol when they arrived at the scene, Cole-Wilson said.

DEFENDANT WILKINSON said he struck his grandfather in the head with an ax during the argument, according to court records. He said Mel Wilkinson appeared to have a seizure, then die, Cole-Wilson said. Wilkinson dragged his grandfather behind the truck to dispose of what he thought was a dead body only because he was unable to lift the victim into the truck, she said. “I don’t think he intentionally killed his grandfather” or intentionally tortured him, she said.

WILKINSON has been incarcerated since 2012; he will be eligible for his first parole hearing in 23 years.

I GET a picture of an old guy who worked hard all his life, and mill work is hard work, when mill work paid well enough to not only sustain families but with enough to buy a little property.  In 1967, the drug culture takes hold but doesn't take hold of gramp's generation. Twenty years after the old guy retires to the property a working person used to be able to afford, here come a bunch of unemployed and likely unemployable descendants with no place to stay other than grandpa's house. Gramps spends his golden years guarding his social security checks and pretending not to see what's going on around him until one night a grandson hooks him up to a pick-up truck, drags him alive into the hills and throws him over the side.


ON SATURDAY, November 15, 2014 at 4:53 PM deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to reports of an armed individual threatening people in the 2800 block of Road D and Webb Ranch Road in Redwood Valley. Upon arriving in the area deputies spoke with witnesses who identified Timothy Abshire, 35, of Ukiah, as having brandished a rifle and having fired that rifle in their direction. Abshire, as they say, "is known to law enforcement." Deputies responded to Abshire's residence located in the 2800 block of Webb Ranch Road and were able to call him out of the residence briefly before he returned inside. Sometime thereafter Deputies saw Abshire flee from the back of the residence carrying a rifle. Deputies, reinforced by CHP officers, began a search for Abshire in the wooded terrain surrounding his residence. At 7:14pm a CHP Officer encountered Abshire who apparently turned toward the officer with a rifle in his hands. The CHP officer, armed with his service handgun, fired at Abshire, who sustained multiple gunshot wounds and was soon on his way to an out of county hospital. He is expected to survive his injuries.

ON SUNDAY, November 16, at 7:46 AM deputies were dispatched to the Howard Memorial Hospital in Willits to interview a man suffering from a gunshot wound. Deputies learned a home invasion robbery had occurred several hours previously at a location on Highway 162 in the Willits area. During the incident the wounded man said he had been shot and two other persons in the home physically assaulted when two men entered the residence, one armed, and demanded money from the victims. The suspects, having shot one man and assaulted two others, fled with cash, "precious metals" and processed marijuana.

DR. BILL COURTNEY is off to Ganja Central. Courtney, who lives in Comptche, has joined Timeless Herbal Care (THC), a Jamaican company, to assist in research and development.

VETERAN'S DAY. Two veterans do much of this fine publication's heavy lifting — Major Mark Scaramella, USAF (ret) and Bruce Anderson, Private, USMC. The Major went into the Air Force out of college, I went into the Marines out of high school, one minute, it seemed, your basic keen teen, the next getting yelled at and slapped around at the San Diego Airport, wondering, “What the hell have I done?” Marine Corps boot camp, in those days, and we're talking 1957 when John Wayne represented the ideal America male, was 15 weeks of constant humiliation and random beatings, and I mean beatings. I got my share, and these included a couple of choke outs where the DI (drill instructor) twisted my collar around my windpipe until I passed out from lack of oxygen. Another time, I was repeatedly whomped with a metal folding chair. That one cracked my ribs. And lots of guys got it a lot more regularly than I did because they screwed up more often. I remember wondering, “If these bastards are on my side, how bad can the Russians be?” Worse, apparently, judging from accounts of their boot training. I'd been a high school jock so the physical part of the training was not all that hard. I could run a long way and do the required number of push-ups and pull-ups and so on. The guys who weren't athletically inclined suffered mightily, and got held back in their training, meaning they'd do 20 or more weeks in boot camp just getting strong enough to pass the minimal physical requirements. The real terror occurred at night when the DI's would make the tough guys, and there were certainly lots of them, fight each other bare knucks as they bet on the outcome. And so on. Post-boot camp the physical abuse ceased. It was interesting learning to fire various weapons and otherwise preparing to kill people. I almost stayed in to make it a career since I didn't have any interest in college and no plans beyond the next day. But I was always getting into disciplinary trouble, and every time I made PFC very soon I was back down to private. I knew I'd always be a private because I couldn't handle being ordered around by dumb guys. I managed an honorable discharge, though, just in time to avoid the war on Vietnam. A lot of people I knew died there. Like many vets, we deplore American foreign policy but sympathize with the men and women dispatched to enforce it.


A READER WRITES: “Note the ‘not business’ on the ‘For Sale’ sign – I suspect rumors are flying nonetheless. More news from inside Mendo media: The new editor at Advocate News and Mendo Beacon, a woman named Suzette Cook, just got her Masters at U. of Florida, but apparently has some local connection as per Facebook page post about her being a former Ukiah student. The interchangeable papers' websites still show Kate Lee as editor, but Suzette’s Facebook page (I looked it up) calls herself “editor-in-chief” at both newspapers. Sniff: editor-in-chief indeed: there are no other editors at all! I know Kate Lee had tried to retire a couple years ago, so she’s probably well out of it, by her own decision. The Record-Bee building in Lakeport has been sold. No word as to whether Record-Bee has to move – that of course being a big deal, due to all the local papers getting printed over there…”

One Comment

  1. debrakeipp November 19, 2014

    Remember the old rodeo performer who rode the missile to the ground in Dr. Strangelove? It wasn’t Chills Wills……. it was…. Slim Pickens! You once printed an old quote in the AVA about him saying that without a doubt, the toughest rodeo in the USA was in Boonville California. The reason? The grass ring! Slippy Slidey. And, I had always assumed he was talking about the old Bucket of Blood Saloon. Nope, I’m told by the locals at the Fair Grounds, it’s because of the grass. Buckin’ broncs on astroturf? Turf hoof?

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