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Off the Record (Mar 4, 2015)

A READER WRITES of the newly elected 3rd District supervisor, "Mr. Woodhouse was advertised as a solid citizen who could be relied on to take a practical and common sense approach to governance, making tough decisions when called on to do so, but nothing so far supports that idea. So far, everyone he meets is clearly above average with selfless dedication and a shining vision of the future that is only surpassed by the next individual or group that he panders to. As he picks up a bit more jargon and starts peppering his blather with "delineated", "sustainable", and "programmatic" he will certainly be a match for former 4th District supervisor, Kendall Smith."


Boulder, Colo. (AP) — In his most extensive comments on the JonBenet Ramsey case, the former Colorado police chief who led the investigation into the high-profile 1996 slaying of the 6-year-old beauty queen acknowledged online that officers botched the initial handling of the crime scene.

WHICH IS WHAT HAPPENED here with the murder of Susan Keegan, 55, of Ukiah, a prominent and popular member of the community murdered November 11th, 2010. Her killer is unlikely to be prosecuted although her death certificate under cause of death reads, "Homicide." Why no prosecution? There's no other theory about what happened, no late night mystery intruder alleged, no enemies other than the one she was married to....

THE KEEGAN CRIME SCENE was botched. Er, check that. “Botched” isn't the word we want; the site of Mrs. Keegan's clearly suspicious — her own home — was not treated as a crime scene. The Keegan home wasn't sealed off, the home wasn't searched for a weapon, a statement wasn't taken from Dr. Peter Keegan, the only other person in the home at the time of his wife's death from at least two blows to the top of her head. The doctor simply told the two cops from the Sheriff's Department, one a rookie the other with no investigative experience, that his wife had died from a drunken fall in her bathroom, a final slander of the doctor's wife of thirty years.

THE REACTION IN UKIAH? Most prevalent were versions of, “But, but, but... Gee, Peter Keegan was my family doctor. I know him. It's impossible that he killed Susan.” Gosh, Nice People, especially Mendo Nice People, don't kill their wives by bludgeoning them to death or, as in another uninvestigated case with its origins here in Amnesia County, don't blow up their ex-wives with car bombs. Why? Because we know them.

THE OBVIOUS PERP in the Keegan murder was only belatedly regarded as a poss-perp when the newly-elected DA  took a close look at the case. But by then a certifiably incompetent coroner had written that the wounds to Mrs. Keegan's head could have been caused by a fall. A personal friend of the incompetent coroner soon declared that his Ukiah buddy's autopsy had been capably carried out. Subsequently, a third coroner, hired by DA Eyster, said Susan Keegan had clearly been murdered.

DR. KEEGAN, soon after his wife's death, hired ace criminal defense attorney, Keith Faulder of Ukiah, an odd hire by a man whose wife has suddenly died innocently in a bathroom fall. The doctor's second act was to advertise for a girlfriend on Facebook.

COMPETING CORONERS isn't the only problem DA Eyster faces in trying the doctor for murder, defense attorney Faulder will make mincemeat of the Sheriff's Department's non-investigation. However, in the opinion of the writer, who is not a detective, given everything else known about the circumstances of Mrs. Keegan's death, there is plenty to convince a jury that the doctor murdered his wife. The DA ought to at least take his case to a criminal grand jury. Let them decide if Dr. Keegan should be indicted and prosecuted.

INCIDENTALLY, anyone who's been falling down drunk in a bathroom — count me among those many millions — knows that it's virtually impossible to fall and die from a wound to the top of your head. I suppose the deceased could have climbed up on her bathroom sink and hurled herself spear-like head first against the floor, but most of us drunks simply swoon in a heap somewhere in the vicinity of the toilet bowl. Drunks fall soft, not hard.

THE DA has put a lot of time and effort into the Keegan investigation, and the reason he has is because he and his staff know that the poor woman was murdered. But the DA just doesn't think there's enough in the way of solid evidence to convince a jury. And he won't know unless he tries.

A GUY at Healdsburg Printing told me the best thing I've heard yet about our hard-hitting Congressman, Jared Huffman: The Huff has been leaning on the Post Office to get Nothcoast newspapers to their readers in a timely manner, which hasn't happened in at least a decade. There are lots of small circulation papers and other periodicals on the Northcoast, and every single one of them laments loud and long that the P.O. is not getting their publications to their readers with anything like reasonable timeliness. And we all pay second-class rates, which is supposed to expedite delivery, not delay it. Go, Huff!

SCANNING THE HEALDSBURG paper, I read a letter to the editor decrying both the large new structure where the old post office used to be and the meat business it will soon house. The letter prompted me to do a fast reality check on my normally infallible aesthetic sense. (You just rushed past a joke, literalists.) I think the new building is beautiful, a kind of neo-Mediterranean job you might call it, and very nicely accomplished for a building its size.

Healdsburg Meat Company
Healdsburg Meat Company

The meat biz? Why should that bother anybody? O, excuse me. I seemed to have strayed from the catechism. Cows cause global warming, meat is bad for you, and so on. I say, if cows are good enough for a billion Hindus and former supervisor Johnny Pinches, by Shiva they're good enough for me! Anyway, I'm told the building will not only house a century old local meat biz but an upscale restaurant and four or five fancy suites upstairs for the high end gastro-maniacs who now make Healdsburg their destinations. The only reason I might have for ever stepping foot in the place is to buy some beef jerky, but whatever it houses Healdsburg has itself a very nice new building. Nice new building. Will the new and completely unnecessary County Courthouse be a nice new building of the large type? No, it will be huge eyesore squatting at the foot of North Perkins, Ukiah, for the next hundred years, a visual testament to the utter aesthetic bankruptcy and naked self-interest of the Mendocino County Superior Court.

IF ISIS can recruit wannabe fanatics from around the world, why can't America's toughest talkers form a kind of idiot's Lincoln Brigade, a volunteer force to fight Isis? We could call it the Fox News Brigade with O'Reilly and Hannitty as its frontline commanders.

ACCORDING to a recent summary of Mendocino County Contracts on the General Services website, Ms. Victoria ‘Vicki’ Mizel was first hired by the County in 2012 for “insurance review” services. The versatile Ms. Mizel was hired again in 2012/ 2013 and paid $25k for consultations related to the consolidation of the County's perennially chaotic Health and Human Services Administration. That consolidation, by the way, was supposed to have been carried out and completed a decade prior.

MS. MIZEL was then hired to consult on unspecified Library management affairs as a “Systems Optimization Consultant.” (According to the minutes of a Round Valley Library Friends meeting, although we can't find mention of the Library-related contract on the County website.)

WE UNDERSTAND that Ms. Mizel has lately been hired again for about $50k worth of services, but we can't find any record of this one on the County’s website either.


MS. MIZEL'S “Linked-In” profile says she is a San Diego-based employee of Mendocino County. She describes herself as “Health Policy Consultant/Professional Development/Coach & Mentor." Under “previous employment” she lists: “Independent contractor for Mendocino County.”

COUNTY CEO, Carmel Angelo, when we contacted her by e-mail, says, “If you read prior library reports...” we'd know what Ms. Mizel helped the County respond to the County's attempt to discredit the Grand Jury's complaint on the County’s Library funding of the Library Director. Again, though, there's no mention of Ms. Mizel on line or on the County's website in regard to the library/grand jury dispute. So it's not likely that we would have “read prior library reports.”

THE UPSHOT? Ms. Mizel is a long-time personal friend of County CEO, Carmel Angelo. Ms. Angelo enjoys discretionary spending of up to $50,000 annually.

ONE OF THE ITEMS in the 1994 $100k Management Audit of the Sheriff’s Department (back when Jim Tuso was Sheriff) by San Francisco based Harvey Rose Consulting, was Item 6: “Too much time and money is spent on prisoner transportation — use video arraignment at the jail.”

THAT WAS 20 YEARS AGO. Sheriff Tuso somehow considered the audit an affront to his department and refused to consider any of the audit’s proposals. Mr. Rose admitted as much in the introduction to his report: “The Sheriff did not welcome this management audit. Throughout the study, the Sheriff limited our access to records and staff. At the conclusion of the study, the Sheriff chose to respond to the Board of Supervisors regarding the draft report, instead of directly responding to the audit team, as is the normal professional practice. These actions, and comments made by the Sheriff at the exit conference and in his written response, illustrate his adversarial posture during the study.”

GOOD OLD MENDO. We do things our way up here, prevailing standards in the outside world notwithstanding.

TUSO subsequently met with an ad hoc committee of then-supervisors Frank McMichael (a former LA Cop) and then-5th District supervisor, Charles Peterson. They issued their own report saying that Sheriff Tuso had no plans to implement any of Mr. Rose’s recommendations, even the sensible ones like video arraignments which would significantly reduce the costly and inefficient shuttling of prisoners from the jail to the courthouse and back every court day. Their majesties of the Superior Court also resisted jailhouse arraignments, which they undoubtedly viewed as inconvenient to themselves.

SO IT WAS WITH INTEREST that we noticed the following item on next Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors Consent Calendar marking "the Installation of Data and Power Lines with Conduit for Video Conferencing in the Mendocino County Jail. The Sheriff’s Office has two proposed video projects that will achieve operational efficiencies: Expansion of the court video arraignment and creation of inmate video visitation system. Both require modification to the Jail facility by installing conduit, electrical and data lines (Cat6E). The video project for the Courts will lessen the number of inmates transported. This will reduce staff hours, wear and tear on vehicles and increase public safety. Whereas, the inmate video visitation will greatly reduce staff time moving inmates to and from the visiting area. The funding of these projects will have no impact on the General Fund. The funding for the Court video project will be requested through the Community Corrections Partnership. Funding for the video visiting project will be a partnership between the Inmate Welfare Fund and the Sheriff’s Office telephone contractor Legacy Inmate Communications.

IT ONLY TOOK 20 YEARS! Pretty good, by Mendo standards. In 20 more years we might get a residential County Farm!

WHAT WILL HAPPEN to the old Howard Memorial Hospital in Willits? (Update (from County CEO Carmel Angelo’s report for the March 3, 2015 Board of Supervisors meeting): “With the move of Howard Memorial Hospital into their brand new facility quickly becoming a reality, there has been much speculation regarding what the vacated space might be used for. For approximately two years now, Health and Human Services Director, Stacey Cryer and I have been engaged in conversations with Margie Handley, President of the Howard Memorial Hospital's Foundation Board. The Foundation owns the building and is interested in the possibility of a sale or lease, under the right circumstances. The Foundation hopes to find a potential buyer or lessee who will utilize the building to serve a community need. The conversation naturally shifted to mental health and the community desire to have some type of local inpatient services available. The facility may have some potential for this use. There are many factors that would need to be taken into consideration to implement this type of project. The intention would not be for the County to either directly provide the services or be the purchaser of the facility. Conversations continue and have revolved around what we see as prospective ideas for the use of this property and to facilitate additional discussions with prospective providers of mental health services through 24 hour care facilities.”

“THE INTENTION would not be for the County to either directly provide the services or be the purchaser of the facility…”

HMMM. Do we smell another big Ortner Management Group Mental Health contract upgrade? Ortner's guy in Mendo, Mental Health Director Tom Pinizzotto, is conveniently well-placed to add Willits to Ortner's lucrative Mendo empire.

FROM the weekly crime report of San Francisco's Richmond District Station: "Undercover officers saw a suspect who was on probation for burglary. As a condition of his probation, the suspect is required to submit to warrantless search by police officers. The officers searched him and found 7.6 grams of methamphetamine, two scales (both with methamphetamine residue on them) and 22 small empty baggies (typically used to package individual amounts for sale). He was booked at County Jail.

CAPTAIN’S NOTE: Although recently passed Proposition 47 made possession of methamphetamine for personal use a misdemeanor, possession with the intent to sell is still a felony. In this case, the intent to sell was established by the quantity of drugs, the presence of packaging materials, the presence of scales and the absence of paraphernalia used to smoke or inject the methamphetamine." 

A VISITING WRITER asked me if I thought the Santa Rosa Press Democrat was “in bed with the wine industry.” In fact, the paper's editors are on 24-hour speed dial to perform whatever sex acts the industry demands at whatever hour of the day or night. Yes, of course the paper's in bed with the wine industry, as any reader of the Rose City daily knows.

AND THE REASON you won't read anything about Mendocino County in the Press Democrat contrary to the interests of Mike Sweeney and his friends, especially his friend Richard Shoemaker, a former supervisor who represented the Westside of Ukiah a few years ago is because Sweeney girl friend, Glenda Anderson, is the Press Democrat's Mendocino County reporter.

SWEENEY is Mendocino County's top trash bureaucrat and, like the guy in the Dos Equis commercial, he's by far the County's “most interesting man.” A former Stanford cult communist whose group of left fascists killed people, including a cop, during the 60s, Sweeney, in 1980, and married to Judi Bari of later Earth First! fame, blew up a hangar at the old Naval air field west of Santa Rosa, nearly killing a young man asleep on the premises. Ten years later he blew up Bari in downtown Oakland via a car bomb. Sweeney's explosive adventures are best described in a documentary film called Who Bombed Judi Bari? by Steve Talbot, a producer for public television. Bari, before she died in 1997, told Talbot she was convinced that Sweeney blew her up with a car bomb that detonated in downtown Oakland in 1990.

GLENDA ANDERSON, the PD's one-person “Ukiah Bureau,” has run journalo-interference for Sweeney for years, all the way back to her days at the Ukiah Daily Journal where she got Sweeney's press releases printed as “news” and generally kept the interests of Sweeney and his friends, friends like Richard Shoemaker, boyfriend of the current Fort Bragg City Manager, Ms. Ruffing, from any kind of critical public attention, which she has also done via her subsequent employer, the Press Democrat.

WHICH IS WHY you won't read anything in the PD about the Old Coast Hotel controversy, and you certainly won't read about Coast opposition to a $5 million trash transfer station Sweeney is attempting to foist off on the Mendocino Coast and for which, preliminarily, Sweeney has commissioned an utterly corrupt 870-page EIR, the mother of all EIR's, for a project this size, that raises more questions than it answers to justify the transfer station, although there's a perfectly adequate existing transfer station at Pudding Creek.

GINNY SETH-MICHEL of the Fort Bragg City Manager's office responded to our curiosity about the Coast transfer station EIR: “I checked with MSWMA as they are the coordinating entity for this project. Mike Sweeney, who is coordinating this joint City and County project, responded as follows:  ‘The EIR contract is for $199,250.  It is funded entirely by users of the Caspar Transfer Station through a portion of their gate fees’.”

WE WONDER if customers at the Caspar Dump know they're being dunned for, in our opinion, a project that's going to cost them a lot more, a transfer station they don't need.

THESE DAYS, SHOEMAKER describes himself as “Principal at RMS [Richard M. Shoemaker, get it?] Consulting & Project Management.” Which boils down to a handsomly-paid gig as boss at the Alex Rorabaugh Gymnasium & Recreation Center, “an inclusive place which welcomes and serves all members of our community. Youth are the future of our community and deserve a safe and secure environment to develop mind and body,” says ARC board president Dr. Marvin Trotter. (A normally sentient person would not be able to speak those sentences without gagging.) The Nice People are omni-present to get big pay to do good. The oleaginous Trotter, incidentally, some of us may recall, paid a large wrongful-death civil judgment in the death of a Ukiah youth who died from the prescription narcotic drug patches Trotter had left unsecured in his home. Trotter's drug-addicted son passed them on to a high school friend who died from an overdose. The doctor should have done some jail time for that one, but the Nice People don't do jail because, well, they don't. (cf the class system in America)

WHILE WE'RE PASSING out the bouquets to our favorite local public figures as we put them in proper historical context, the Rorabaugh family, after whom the rec center is named, got their money when a 19th century Rorabaugh, a nephew of George White, “King of Round Valley,” inherited White's vast ranch as the childless White's thank-you for lying for the murderous old man when White was charged with trying to kill his wife. A national figure for all the wrong reasons, White either owned or controlled everything north and south of Covelo, from Hull Mountain almost to Weaverville in the north. He killed anyone who got in his way, including at least one wife. Natch, Ukiah names a youth center after this most dubious family. There's a contemporary Rorabaugh who writes Fox News-like letters to the Ukiah paper, another one of these guys born on third base who thinks he hit a triple.

BUT SO IT GOES in Mendocino County where every day history starts all over again and you are whatever you say you are.

SPEAKING of The Nice People, the Fort Bragg branch is "very excited" about SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats), so excited it's the subject of a forthcoming "retreat" of the Fort Bragg City Council. A reader assesses SWOT less kindly: “I hope you can publish this BS.”

(Ed note: No, neither our print or web format accommodates the odd chart layout. But we can certainly link to it.)

PS. Our personal favorites: Under “Threats” — “Negative Community — 2. A group emerged that were [sic] close to the Chief piled on the issue to say the city has screwed up again, but that got started at the top, small but vocal group. People that are being negative.” Under Weaknesses: “The council has made decisions based on the mob coming in and yelling at us — not good decisions. Continued grandstanding and fueling of the unrest.” … “The audience is so bitter and hateful; it is offensive (the old Coast Hotel is an example). … There are smart people running the city (Names!) but the community doesn’t always see that. It’s hard on employees.”

PPS. The attachments are interesting. They show how panicked Mayor Turner is, and how he’s trying to rein in Councilmen Mike Cimolino and Lindy Peters, too.

DEBRA KEIPP reports from Point Arena: "The seals ate it! The fishermen in PA are saying that's all they see are sick starving seals everywhere this year. They're coming from all over to get into colder waters, but PA which usually sits at 52-56 degrees, has gone up to an unheard of 64 degrees! There is no kelp to speak of. The ribbon-like tops have all been eaten off and all that's left are the big kelp trunks washed ashore. Not the usual piles of kelp seen on shore this time of year. The beaches are CLEAR of them mostly. To top it off — out of 34 crab traps set, one of our best fishermen got a total of TWO crabs. Count 'em on one hand. So the fishermen are going broke, too. Not enough take to pay for their lunch sandwich, let alone fuel. That's so so sad. Some say seals don't eat crab, but if they're hungry enough, I'd say they are, and that's the reason for no crab in the pots this month... errr... aaaa.. season!

OUR FORT BRAGG correspondents report that the “for sale” sign has been removed from the Old Coast Hotel, meaning the conversion of the central Fort Bragg into a rehab center is on the way. One wonders what other County landmarks might be put to dubious purpose — Grace Hudson's graceful old home in central Ukiah as a teen center? Hendy Woods is obviously a great place for a rural needle exchange. Etc.

JUST IN FROM MCN's listserve: “You are invited to a meeting at the Fort Bragg Public Library on Saturday, March 14, 5-6pm to discuss decisions concerning the Hare Creek shopping mall, the Old Coast Hotel, and the proposed garbage transfer station on Highway 20, the site of a 100,000 year old Pygmy forest. The city's tourist trade, water supply and air quality are threatened. For more information, call Charla Thorbecke at 964-3321 or John Fremont at 961-0543. Thanks.”

One Comment

  1. Lazarus March 4, 2015

    One has to wonder if there’s anyone of note in the county you actually revere…

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