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Mendocino County Today: Monday, Mar 16, 2015

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ONCE IN A WHILE Mendocino County moves in the right direction. On Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors agenda there's an innocuous seeming item on the consent calendar called, “Approval of the Purchase of a Vehicle to Support Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS) Community Outreach Activities and Approve the Appropriation Transfer of Funds, Increasing Funds and Revenue in Budget Unit 4050; Line-item 4050- 864370 and Revenue Line-item 4050-825342 in the Amount of $13,000 and Authorize the Addition of the Vehicle to the County Approved List of Fixed Assets.”

THE ITEM is obscured by a follow-up paragraph of pure bureaucratic jibberish: “The California Health Facilities Financing Authority approved a final allocation to the County of Mendocino under the Investment in Mental Health Wellness Revenue Grant Program at its April 24, 2014 meeting. The approved grant amount is $40,713.18 per year for three years for a total amount of $122,139.54.”

THEN IT FINALLY BEGINS to get clear. “The County of Mendocino will fund a Mental Health Rehabilitation Specialist/Outreach Worker who will respond to mental health crisis calls with a deputy "in order to assist with the de-escalation of crisis, outreach, engagement and referral to community based programs. The Mendocino County Sheriff’s office and BHRS [i.e., the Mental Health Department] have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding in the interest of public safety by providing essential mental health outreach. Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office and Mendocino County BHRS agree to work together cooperatively to provide community outreach, inreach [sic] into the County jail, and engagement in the community in order to reduce recidivism and to decrease jail days.”

THE CONCLUDING GIBBERISH: “The Mendocino County Sheriff’s office will assist BHRS in the purchase of a vehicle for the Mental Health Rehabilitation Specialist/Outreach Worker’s use in providing these services by transferring $12,000 from State Asset Forfeiture (760201) to BHRS once the Mendocino County Sheriff’s office receives a copy of the vehicle purchasing invoice. The approved appropriation transfer of $13,000 will be allocated via BHRS realignment funds for a collaborative amount of $25,000 for the purchase of a used vehicle.”

WE HAD TO CALL SHERIFF ALLMAN to get a plain English description of what's intended. The Sheriff said that the plan is to staff an unmarked van with one senior Mental Health person along with a non-uniformed “public safety technician” (i.e., driver/helper) to respond to non-criminal, non-violent calls involving freakouts, suicide threats, etc. Besides dealing with the disturbed already confined to the jail, the two-year pilot program will focus primarily on Round Valley and the South Coast where law enforcement response times are very long and tend to take deputies out of public safety duty for hours at a time. A crisis team would probably be able to cool out a lot of 5150 episodes without necessarily involving law enforcement, thus making deputies more available for their normal patrol duties. Once the program is up and running (which should be soon) people will be able to call Mental Health directly or 911 to request a dispatch out of Ukiah. The initial service will only be available during normal business hours, so off-hours responses will still have to be covered by cops. (About 3pm to midnight would make more sense because those are the typical blast-off hours.) But it’s definitely a step toward the long-overdue Crisis Van (such as the ones in Sonoma and Alameda Counties) which, after completion of the pilot program, could be upgraded to full crisis van status. Both people involved will be county employees, not Ortner staffers. The Mental Health person is an existing, funded position, the Public Safety technician will be a new position to be covered by the Sheriff’s budget.

CREDIT SHERIFF ALLMAN for his push in getting Mental Health to do anything of practical assistance to disturbed persons. Allman's bread-baking program at the jail is a big success which actually leads to a few jobs for guys leaving jail. He's also got a garden going at the jail, and perhaps a bigger one out on the north end of Ukiah. Another big plus that not only occupies people while in custody but helps people learn marketable skills. And the Sheriff just mentioned in passing recently that he's got a deal going with the Skunk Train whereby a few jail inmates work every day keeping the line up and running.

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MAYBE TWENTY YEARS AGO, Roanne Withers, then working for the County's Mental Health Department, got Mental Health to erect a big tent located, as I vaguely recall off a visit there one morning, in a vacant lot off South Franklin. Roanne was in charge. A large, forceful woman who'd previously made her way as a bartender in some tough venues, Roanne ran The Big Tent like she ran her own home — orderly, clean, no aberrant behavior tolerated. You couldn't spend the night in The Big Tent if you were drunk, whacked out on dope, or noisily nuts. Quiet nuts were welcome. Obvious street people were in the minority, though. A clear majority of the people housed overnight in The Big Tent were functioning persons — young people studying at Fort Bragg's famous woodworking school; other young people from other countries who were backpacking and hitchhiking around America; people avoiding high motel rates by spending a night or two on the cheap; transients genuinely in search of work; and a few street guys of the type everyone complains about who needed to get out of bad weather. The Big Tent was Roanne's inexpensive idea for housing the indigent in the winter months. It was a good idea that worked right up until the night The Big Tent blew down in a winter wind. Nobody was hurt. Most of The Big Tent's population probably assumed the blow over was simply one more disaster of the minor type in lifetimes of disasters. Rather than re-erect The Big Tent the County, probably out of the usual fear of lawyers, kept it down.

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TARDY RECOMMENDED VIEWING, although lots of you have probably already seen it, “Imitation Game.” It's very good and perfectly acted as only the Brits seem able to pull off perfectly acted stories for the few adults left in the world. Based on the life of Alan Turing, the great English mathematician, the movie seems faithful to the basic facts of his life, and what amazing facts those were. The man invented the computer via which he broke Nazi codes and abbreviated World War Two, the historians tell us, by at least two years, thus saving millions of lives. Turing was gay which, the times being what they are, both then and now, gets a huge emphasis in the film, making Turing seem much more pathetically tragic than he seemed to be in real life. Did he commit suicide because he was gay? Lots of people who've investigated his death think he died accidentally while experimenting with cyanide, which he was known to do. The only things in the movie that seemed way outta whack to me were a couple of interludes where Turing is seen in track shorts running what looked like wind sprints. There was no context, no explanation for these bursts of frenetic exercise. When I looked up his bio, it turns out that among his many gifts Turing was also a world class distance runner, good enough to have qualified in the marathon for the British Olympic team if he'd wanted to.

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RECOMMENDED READING: "Where The Bodies Are Buried" by Patrick Radden Keefe in the current New Yorker. I'm happy to count among my friends, Pol Brennan, an IRA man who used to write clarifying articles for the AVA on the politics of Northern Ireland before he was deported, by himself, in shackles, in an American military transport plane guarded by an armed phalanx of US Marshals. Someone seemed to think Pol was dangerous, or maybe someone just wanted to get a free trip to Ireland for himself and his friends. The story of Northern Ireland is a complicated one, and the story Keefe tells here is beyond unhappy, but for those of you interested and know something about "the troubles," Keefe's article will be fascinating.

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MORE RECOMMENDED READING: On the advice of one of our contributors, the erudite Mr. Louis Bedrock, I've re-subscribed to Harper's. I'm pleased that I did, although a lot of their stuff seems to me too high flying, too abstract for the subject matter, much of which isn't interesting in the first place to this particular lowbrow. Example: “Going It Alone — The dignity and challenge of solitude” — the lead piece in the April issue. It takes several thousand words to tell us that lots of people live alone, that our nutball society estranges people from each other, that some people are good at solitude, some aren't. Thank you. Next. There is, though, lots of interesting articles in the mag, and I read it cover to cover except the feature essay on solitude, and was especially pleased with an argument by Rebecca Solnit called “Abolish High School.” (When you feel like going deep, you won't go wrong with Rebecca, one of the few writers I know who holds my attention at a high level of abstraction.) Abolishing high school has been a good idea for a long time, and Ms. Solnit counts every reason from the prevalence of bullying among young people of high school age to the pure irrelevance of much or all of the course of study. I'd recommend it to the Mendocino County Office of Education if I thought they could decode it, but…

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Jim's truck was recovered by the San Rafael PD. :o)
 Thank you so much in helping to spread the word and help in the search! 
Kathe & Jim Murphy

(Previously: WHO'S GOT MURPH'S TRUCK? Stolen Truck — Mountain View Rd, Manchester - Tues 3/3/15 @ 2:30-3:00 AM. Gold 1995 Chevy 4WD (K1500) work PU. Decal "TD" on upper passenger door window. Rear bumper sticker "Living to Pull" (arm wrestling). CA license plate 5A22228. If anyone sees it please call the CHP or Sheriff immediately. Thank you.)

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by Linda Williams

The only significant prosecution of a marijuana grower in Mendocino County by the Northern California US Attorney since Melinda Haag took office in 2010 has resulted in Laytonville marijuana grower Matthew Graves being sentenced to 66 months in federal prison followed by 5 years supervised release.

Graves pleaded guilty in September 2014 and was sentenced in February on one count of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana, three counts of marijuana cultivation and four counts of money laundering.

This is Graves’ second stint in federal prison on pot charges. He spent 51 months in federal prison for a 1995 marijuana cultivation and money laundering conviction.

The current federal prosecution came after a Mendocino County jury failed to find Graves guilty of state marijuana charges in March 2011.

While Graves’ was acquitted of all the pot related charges, the jury found him guilty of being a felon in possession of ammunition. He was placed on probation following the conviction.

A probation search was conducted on Nov. 8, 2012 by federal agents along with Mendocino County sheriff’s deputies and probation officers on four properties owned by Graves (now given up through asset forfeiture) in the Bell Springs Road area.

At one site agents found indoor grow areas with 635 plants. Graves youngest son was “tending marijuana plants” when he was detained by agents. The older son arrived at the grow area shortly after agents arrived at the scene. Inside Graves’ residence, agents found 6 pounds of bud and shake; racks loaded with drying marijuana in the kitchen, storage areas and bathroom; and a “well used” Twister marijuana trimming machine powered by a diesel generator on the back porch of an outside shed.

Terms of Graves’ probation prohibited such operations.

In December 2012, Graves was charged in Federal Court with conspiracy and intent to distribute marijuana and money laundering.

After Graves pleaded guilty, federal prosecutors agreed to dismiss new charges arising from a Sept. 4, 2014 raid on Graves’ property which found ongoing marijuana cultivation and operations.

In his pre-sentencing memorandum, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin J. Barr stated, “Defendant has grown marijuana because it is lucrative, not because some people use it as medicine.

“If coca plants or opium poppies were as suited to the soil of Mendocino County as marijuana is, he would have produced cocaine or heroin instead. This is amply demonstrated in his history.

“In 1995, Defendant was convicted in this district for possession of marijuana with intent to sell and conspiracy to launder over $1.7 million in drug proceeds.

“He has continued to engage in identical conduct ever since, and on a scale to reap significant profit.

“Defendant did not cultivate marijuana to make medicine; he cultivated it to make money. At the conclusion of her presentence investigation, the Probation Officer reached this same conclusion: ‘The defendant has voiced his opinions as to the benefits of marijuana, especially for sufferers of cancer; however, the probation officer has received no information to suggest that the defendant’s large-scale and longstanding marijuana operation had anything to do with assisting medical marijuana patients. Rather, the defendant’s operation appears to have had the sole purpose of making a profit.’

“In this case, Defendant has been charged with conduct that involves over 6,000 marijuana plants. This figure is taken from Defendant’s own summary of the discovery in this case, in a chart he provided as part of a motion to suppress.

“That chart … summarizes the seizure of marijuana plants from Defendant’s parcels and from parcels that were connected to his by ATV trails and water lines.”

The possible sentence on the conspiracy and marijuana charges was a minimum of five years up to a maximum of 40 years in prison. In the end the judge sentenced to Graves to the minimum five years with adjustments based on Graves’ role in the case. The “mandatory minimum” sentence is determined by a complex series of potentially offsetting factors which provide credits for some behaviors and penalties for others. Cooperating with authorities is the main way defendants can shave time off the “mandatory minimum” sentence.

In Graves’ case the mandatory minimum sentence was calculated to be 66 months.

In the final analysis Graves, pleaded guilty in federal court to charges similar to those a Mendocino County jury acquitted him of in March 2011. In 2014, Graves admitted to federal money laundering charges for processing four specific payments totaling $65,000 through his contractors business account. The prosecutor stated in the pre-sentence memorandum this was only a fraction of the suspected money involved.

Local prosecutors were unable to convince a jury that it was Graves’ marijuana operation which provided the cash needed to pay more than $80,000 per year for college tuition for two kids, to purchase new vehicles for each of his four children or even to pay $13,000 in cash for kite boarding lessons in South Carolina for one son.

The Mendocino County jury apparently believed in 2011 Graves’ assertion on the stand that this cash flow was the result of his construction business alone.

The Mendocino County jury apparently also believed Graves’ assertion that all of the marijuana on his property and that he had purchased was either not his or it was medicinal in nature.

(Courtesy, the Willits News)

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TED DALTON, John's brother, wrote last week to tell us that Andrea Dalton, John's only daughter, had died Christmas morning at Coast Hospital in Fort Bragg. Andrea suffered from Crohn's disease. She was only 32 and very close to her father, as close as she could be to a dad whose life and family had been destroyed by our government for growing marijuana.

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by Alexander Cockburn

(First published in June 1999, and reprinted here as the worst example of egregious government misconduct we know of, John Dalton, we understand, is finally about to be paroled to a halfway house. So far as we know, Dalton has been held longer on marijuana-related charges than any other Mendocino County resident. He's been in prison now for 17 years, and was already in custody during the hearing Cockburn describes here for The Nation magazine.)

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All those present in a federal courtroom in San Francisco in mid-May were edified by the sight of a federal prosecutor getting off to a faltering start by having to admit that the government's prime witness and lead investigator — Drug Enforcement Agency special agent Mark Nelson — had committed perjury.

The object of special agent Nelson's probe has been John Dalton, brought to the courtroom from the federal detention center in Dublin, to hear his lawyer, Tony Serra, argue before federal district Judge Susan Illston that the DEA's case against Dalton be dismissed for “outrageous government conduct.” Among such outrageous conduct must undoubtedly be included the fact that special agent Nelson's perjury stemmed from his efforts to conceal the precise date on which he commenced an amorous relationship with Dalton's wife, Victoria Horstman.

Here, in other words, is a saga that gives us the government's war on drugs at its ripest malevolence, for which I'm indebted to Mark Heimann, who compiled the incredible tale from court documents for a series in the Anderson Valley Advertiser, the weekly newspaper in Mendocino County, Northern California.

Let's return to 1985. Dalton is living with his first wife on an 80-acre parcel in Mendocino County, some four hours' drive up 101 from San Francisco. This is pot-growing country. About 4:00 in the afternoon, bullets start raining down on the cabin, and Dalton sneaks out to the ridge where the shots are coming from. At this point, he's bushwacked by five men in camouflage who beat him senseless.

He comes to, face in the dirt, to find his assailants are from the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting, better known as CAMP. These are teams of federal, state and local cops. They ask him if he's a marijuana grower. Dalton says no and that he will sue. Sheriff's Deputy Charlie Bone, who's dislocated his finger in the encounter, tells Dalton that they know he's a pot grower and that his troubles are only beginning.

Within eight hours of the arrest, the charges against Dalton are dropped, and though an attorney tells him he could collect big time, Dalton reckons the safe course is to do nothing.

In 1992, Dalton, a brilliant mechanic favored by the hot-rod set, embarks on a relationship with Victoria (Tori) Horstman. They are married a year later in Las Vegas.

The Dalton-Horstman menage is not tranquil. Dalton calls the police from time to time to restore order, and though Horstman claims her husband is a brute, her own 19-year-old son has testified, most recently in Judge Illston's courtroom, that John was “a very mellow man” and a good dad, and that his mother was a mean drunk.

Horstman is a wanna-be cop, consorts with cops and by 1994 was passing bank deposit slips from her husband's machine shop to DEA special agent Mark Nelson, who forthwith signs her up as a DEA source, SR3-94-0054. Horstman has also become romantically involved with agent Nelson, initial overtures having been made in a DEA safe house, where, according to a sworn statement by Horstman, “Agent Nelson gave me a beer, and later, we kissed and fondled each other. I do want to make it clear agent Nelson considered me at all times his personal possession and got angry if I ever talked with other DEA agents.” Among Nelson's other possessions are three children and a pregnant wife.

Nelson successfully presses Horstman to spy on her husband. On at least two occasions, she allows Nelson to search the house while Dalton is at work. Whenever she demurs, the DEA agent threatens to charge her with money laundering on Dalton's behalf.

The most vivid episode in this sequence comes in September 1994, during a big fed/state/local enforcement drive against marijuana gardens in the area of Mendocino County. Nelson and a colleague seek out Horstman with the request that she place a “special FBI tape recorder” behind the headboard of her marital bed. Dalton duly returns home and describes the raids to wife and tape recorder, with the latter instrument soon returned by Horstman to Nelson.

Despite the surveillance, the DEA never gets a shred of evidence linking Dalton to marijuana growing. Thus balked, they turn to the drug war's favored tool, a snitch. Two, in fact. Using the statements of these snitches — one with prior convictions for perjury and fraud — they seize all Dalton's property for forfeiture, on the grounds that such property is the fruit of illegal labor. After the raid, Nelson oversees Horstman's separation from Dalton; he and five feds load up a U-Haul with Horstman's stuff while Dalton is out. When Dalton finds out Horstman is in Blaine, Wash., and goes north to patch up their marriage, Horstman informs Nelson, who himself hurries north with eavesdropping equipment. Horstman rejects Dalton's overtures and ultimately divorces him at the urging of Nelson, who even drives her to the lawyer's office to sign the final papers.

On Sept. 27, 1996, the Feds arrest Dalton, on the basis of a secret federal grand jury indictment, charging him with marijuana cultivation and witness tampering. Among the witnesses against him is the operator of a speed lab facing a life term but rewarded for his testimony with a 10-year sentence. Denied bail, Dalton has been in prison for nearly two years, awaiting trial. He's suing the feds for $44.8 million for outrageous conduct. The feds' last desperate throw in the dismissal suit was rich with effrontery, seeking to paint Dalton as an abusive husband. At time of writing, Judge Illston is considering whether to dismiss the case.

What this has to do with marijuana cultivation is unclear. Even if Illston doesn't dismiss, it's hard to imagine a jury failing to agree with Serra that in its war on drugs the government is running amok.

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Judge Denies Dalton's Motion No Outrageous Conduct

by Eric Brazil

Federal agents went too far in persuading the wife of a suspected marijuana grower to install a tape recorder in their marriage bed to gather evidence against him, a judge said in ruling that the government can't use the tapes as evidence. Nevertheless, US District Judge Susan Illston found that the conduct of the Drug Enforcement Administration wasn't outrageous enough to compel dismissal of the charges against Mendocino County machinist John Dalton. "Outrageous government conduct requires more than negligence or poor judgment," Illston said. Dalton, 44, was indicted in October 1996, on 12 felony counts involving a conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana for sale. He goes on trial Aug. 16. In seeking dismissal of the charges against Dalton, his attorney, J. Tony Serra, argued DEA agent Mark Nelson, 37, is a perjurer who seduced Dalton's then-wife Victoria Horstman, 40, and manipulated her to obtain evidence against Dalton. Nelson and the DEA went so far over the line that the entire case against Dalton, who has no criminal record, is irreparably tainted, Serra argued. Nelson admitted inappropriate behavior in violating his agency's regulations by meeting with Horstman alone and falsifying documents relating to that meeting at a DEA safe house, where he and Horstman drank beer and kissed. He also testified that the DEA paid her $4,800 in expenses when she moved to Washington. But both he and Horstman denied a sexual relationship. The judge rejected defense contentions that Horstman, an admitted alcoholic, was coerced into cooperating with the DEA and that Nelson and Horstman had a sexual relationship. Providing Horstman with a tape recorder and persuading her to install it in the bed she shared with Dalton was highly inappropriate conduct by the DEA that goes beyond poor judgment, Illston said. Consequently, she ruled that the "bedroom tape" cannot be used as evidence at Dalton's trial. Serra has made alleged outrageous conduct by the DEA and Nelson the centerpiece of his defense of Dalton, and Illston erected a formidable barrier to that defense in her ruling. Unless Nelson and Horstman testify at Dalton's trial, she said, their relationship and its effect on the investigation is irrelevant, and evidence about it won't be admitted.

(Courtesy, San Francisco Examiner)

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(September 1999, by Bruce Anderson)

WILLIAM ‘JOHN’ DALTON, 44, of Redwood Valley, has been found guilty by a federal jury in San Francisco of growing pot in Mendocino County. Dalton is looking at life in prison when he's sentenced in December. For running what the government says was a "continuing criminal enterprise" that allegedly took in millions off a pot patch in Branscomb, the snitch-built case seems to have cost at least that many tax dollars to construct. Teams of dope cops followed Dalton around for five years without nailing him for anything until they stole his wife from him. The depressing and dramatically un-American facts of the Dalton case were exhaustively explored in the AVA back in July. Those facts ought to give all democratically-oriented people pause. They include a married DEA agent named Nelson sleeping with, then persuading Mrs. Dalton to place a tape recorder in the Dalton bedroom to secretly record her husband's alleged activities in the drug biz; the same DEA agent, backed up by some apparently under-utilized FBI agents, packing Mrs. Dalton up and moving her to the state of Washington; The DEA agent arranging for Mrs. Dalton to see a divorce attorney to shed Mr. Dalton; the same DEA agent taking Mrs. Dalton for a joy ride in a cop helicopter; the same DEA agent getting drunk with Mrs. Dalton and boffing her in a tax paid so-called "safe house"; the same DEA agent giving Mrs. Dalton $4,800 in tax money to move to the state of Washington; and the government of the United States placing Dalton in federal prison for two years without bail, confiscating all his property and holding him without charges until he finally got into court. A no-spine U.S. District Court judge based in San Francisco by the name of Susan Ilston had earlier ruled that the government's police state behavior in pursuit of Dalton did not amount to "outrageous government conduct." If agent Nelson's and the DEA's behavior in pursuit of Dalton doesn't amount to "outrageous government conduct," what does? Tony Serra is working on challenges to the Dalton verdict but as of right now the government, in the form of the always out-of-control DEA, can do whatever it wants to do outside the rules if it thinks you've made money in the pot business.

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(December 1999 by Bruce Anderson)

FEDERAL JUDGE SUSAN ILLSTON, the judge responsible for sorting out the Remco pollution case vexing Willits, doesn't seem to have much of a sense of justice herself. Illston just gave Redwood Valley's John Dalton 27 years in the federal pen for growing and selling pot he grew at Branscomb near Laytonville. Dalton was the object of an intense, and intensely illegal, pursuit by the Drug Enforcement Agency whose agents, primarily a badged scofflaw named Mark Nelson, consistently ignored the laws federal judges are supposed to have some regard for. Not Illston. She said that it was alright with her if Agent Nelson boffed Mrs. Dalton while she was still Mrs. Dalton, moved Mrs. Dalton and the kids from Redwood Valley to the state of Washington at taxpayer expense and without so much as a phone call from the missus to the mister to tell him she and the kids were gone, swore Mrs. Dalton in as a DEA agent in private ceremonies celebrated by another rounds of government-funded, work-time boffs, got Mrs. Dalton to place a tape recorder beneath the Daltons' marital bower the better to hear Mr. Dalton's dope schemes, took Mrs. Dalton for joy rides in the fed's helicopter, and got Mrs. Dalton drunk and boffed her in the DEA's "safe house" near the Ukiah Airport. When Dalton's attorney, Tony Serra, asked Judge Illston to dismiss the case against Dalton on the grounds of "egregious government misconduct," Illston declared that Agent Nelson's conduct was cool with her although she did disallow the bedroom tapes Mrs. Dalton turned over to Agent Nelson.

DALTON, by the way, was held without bail for more than two years at the federal pen at Dublin before he got into court, his right to a speedy trial casually waived by the Nor Cal federal courts. The feds claim his pot operation was "the largest in North Coast history," a wildly inflated claim typical of the self-aggrandizing DEA and belied by the easy availability of Mendo Mellow everywhere in the land.

AS IF 27 years in prison for a 45-year-old pot grower isn't a life sentence for what a majority of California voters regard as a non-crime, Judge Illston tacked on five years "supervised probation" if Dalton ever does get out while he's more or less alive. To make sure Dalton's days as a free citizen at an advanced age are lived out in absolute poverty, Judge Illston tacked on a $165,000 fine on the apparent assumption Dalton's still got some money. If he does, its discovery has eluded a decade-long, full-time detection effort by every local, state and federal narc assigned to Mendocino County, and how many of these armed, Agent Nelson-style love bunnies are out there, anyway?

JUDGE ILLSTON'S judicial sadism is an ominous sanction for gross police misconduct, and Agent Nelson is the most ominous kind of federally-sanctioned thug. Just last month the guy called K-WINE Radio in Ukiah to demand the names of the people who paid for the pro-pot Yes On G ads the station ran during the recent elections. Agent Love Nuts wasted no time cashing the free pass Judge Illston gave him in the Dalton case.

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(AVA August 2013)

JOHN DALTON, as AVA readers know, remains in the federal prison at Lompoc for a Laytonville marijuana bust nearly 20 years ago. The DEA seduced Dalton's wife, entertaining her with rides in a police helicopter and arranging for her to place a tape recorder beneath the Daltons' marital bed, finally moving the woman, to whom Dalton thought he was still married, to the state of Washington without Dalton's knowledge. This behavior by the DEA was not, according to San Francisco-based federal judge Susan Ilston, “egregious government misconduct.” One has to wonder what is.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, March 15, 2015

Bennett, Blackwell, Chapman
Bennett, Blackwell, Chapman

KENNETH BENNETT, Willits. Domestic assault, probation revocation.

ERIN BLACKWELL, Ukiah. Drunk in public, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)

JONA CHAPMAN, Point Arena. DUI, suspended license, probation revocation.

Creamer, Gonzales, Keys, Killilea
Creamer, Gonzales, Keys, Killilea

DARRELL CREAMER, Fort Bragg. Under influence of controlled substance, probation revocation.

DARREN GONZALES, Sea Ranch/Gualala. Drunk in public.

JOSHUA KEYS, Ukiah. Shoplifting, petty theft, conspiracy, probation revocation.

JASON KILLILEA, Ukiah. Resisting arrest.

Marsh, McCutcheon, Mitchell
Marsh, McCutcheon, Mitchell

JASON MARSH, Petaluma/Ukiah. Possession of more than an ounce of pot.

BRIAN MCCUTCHEON, Fort Bragg. Domestic assault, court order violation.

SUNEE MITCHELL, Talmage. Drunk in public, resisting arrest, probation revocation.

Rodriguez, Seelye, Zimmerman
Rodriguez, Seelye, Zimmerman

JAIME RODRIGUEZ Jr., Ukiah. DUI, no license, resisting arrest.

MARTHA SEELYE, Ukiah. Possession of more than an ounce of pot.

MICHAEL ZIMMERMAN, American Canyon/Ukiah. DUI.

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That’s the thing with event horizons, you can’t tell that you just stepped across one. You only realize it later on. I mean, how could you tell that you just crossed the line?

When credit cards started coming into wide circulation over fifty years ago, simultaneously, the something-for-nothing mentality started growing roots. Was the latter a consequence of the former? At this point, does it matter?

Pulling out plastic at the store was hip, it was cool, it made every bozo feel like a somebody. You got what you wanted, you got it NOW.

And, most importantly, because people are herd animals, everybody was getting one. So how could you go without?

Did we see the seeds of disaster being sown? Did it feel like an event horizon in 1965? Maybe it wasn’t. Maybe in 1965 there was still time to reverse course.

No matter, wherever we draw the line, one step at a time, we made our way towards the point of no return.

Some people could see through the growing cloud of dust and gas of an imploding economy. Sadly, most people couldn’t. Do you know why? The PHD maroons making policy and Nobel Prize baffoons were all telling us, no worries, see, all that mayhem is just a phase, creative destruction, everything will get better. They had studies, statistics, all of them proved it.

By now it should be obvious, they were all trying to convince us of nonsense. You remember, shareholder value, free markets, get government out of the way, free trade, all that shit…

So, the inevitable question, liars lying in service of what interest? Shouldn’t be hard to see. Ask yourself: cui bonoed?

And now? Now we’re past the point of no return. That’s what it means to cross an event horizon. The black hole economy is sucking everything towards that naked singularity of inevitability at the center of it. That should be obvious too. TARP and QE1 and QE2 they say, then ZIRP and NIRP … these are the swirling shards.

The consolation? All those maroons and baffoons and those black-guards who paid them, are all going with us. We get shredded but so will they. They think they’ll come out the other side. But, as history shows, that’s a highly dubious proposition.

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Well, he never got too lonely

And he never got too sad

But he never got too happy

And that's what's just too bad


He never reached much further

Than his lonely arms would go

He wore a seatbelt around his heart

And they called him Safety Joe


Safety Joe, Safety Joe

What do you say? What do you know?

If you don't loosen up the buckle

On your heart and start to chuckle

You're gonna die of boredom, Safety Joe


Now, Joe he lived in Baltimore

'Cause New York was too darn fast

He sometimes went down to Washington

Just to view our nation's past


He never ate his vegetables

'Cause they were just too darn chewy

And he never climbed much higher

Than the arch in old St. Louie


Joe gradually grew meaner

By not changin' his demeanor

But he never did nothin'

Too much for too long


Therefore his life never got much richer

Than the day they took that picture

In his birthday suit

On the day that he was born

— John Prine

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Letter to the Editor

Jeanne King’s letter of March 12th needs correcting. She started her letter with “I guess only herbicide applied by Caltrans contractors causes harm to the environment.” She then went on to list the discussion topics of the recent SOLLV forum at the Willits Grange on Caltrans proposed herbicide use in Little Lake valley. Mrs. King then recited those same topics as evidence that our local environmentalists have been mum with reference to unregulated Marijuana growers using herbicides in our County.

Yes, Mrs. King, this is guesswork and you were not even present at this forum.

Here are the facts and the true story of how our environmentalists are working to stop illegal pot growers’ use of herbicides. On March 30th 2012 the Willits Environmental Center was part of the Jere Melo Foundations’ Forum – Take Back Our Forests - along with US Representative Mike Thompson, Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman and Program Director Chris Kelly of the Conservation Fund.

As reported in the Press Democrat on July 29th 2012, the WEC members joined Tom Allmans’ Full Court Press operation to remove 23 tons of pot grow trash including 57 pounds of toxic pesticides.

The Ukiah Daily Journal and The Willits News reported on July 3rd. 2012, that the WEC joined the Forest Service, the California Department of Fish and Game, the High Sierra Volunteer Trail Crew, the Conservation Corps North Bay, the Mendocino County Sheriff and the Mendocino County Public Safety Foundation to clean up acres of pot-trashed forest in the Covelo Ranger district. During this operation 5 miles of irrigation tubing and 350 pounds of fertilizer and various toxic pesticides were removed.

These are just a few examples of the exemplary work that our environmentalists do to counter toxic herbicide use in our County and beyond.

This is not hypocrisy but consistent voluntary service taken on behalf of our County. Keeping our precious environment healthy is a sacred trust and preserving it for our children is our civic duty.

Unlike Caltrans and its contractors, our environmentalists and the Willits Environmental Center work tirelessly for free. They don’t damage our wetlands, trash Native sites or endanger our valley with so-called ‘state of California approved’ herbicides that include poisons like Roundup.

Please do your research and listen to valley ranchers like John and Charlene Ford. They know what they are talking about. Do you?

Brian Weller, Willits

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Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center (MCHC) wishes to acquire the property at 101 N. Franklin Street to provide the following services, all of which are permitted uses at this address:

  1. Case management and support for people who have mental health problems. Co-located with us will be the staff of Integrated Care Management Solutions (ICMS) who run the Mental Health Access Center and provide clinical assessments and crisis services.
  2. Wellness Center activities and programming include pre-employment training, Tai Chi, meditation, self-recovery-management.
  3. Case management and support for people who are or have been homeless in an effort to get them housed.
  4. All MCHC administration and offices will be located here as well as 24-hour staffing.
  5. Five units of Transitional Housing (up to ten beds) to begin to close the gap on the thirty-five transitional beds that our community lost about four years ago.

Current Situation.

Right now MCHC’s essential services are located in two small units in the strip mall by DMV, with clients entering through the alley, and waiting in that same alley. Our current facilities are cramped and inappropriate.

The City of Fort Bragg has successfully applied for a Community Development Block Grant of $1.2M, to acquire a location for all the services above.

The owners of 101 N. Franklin St (previously the Old Coast Hotel) have matched this grant with a large donation enabling MCHC to acquire the property at 101 N. Franklin St, Fort Bragg.

MCHC and others has been searching for a location for many years, and over the last few months has been searching for a location which could meet all the demands and constraints of our operation and the community. The analysis was based on a comprehensive matrix of more than twenty properties. 700 N. Main Street (the “Atrium”); 825 S. Franklin Street (previously social services) and 250 S. Main St (“Ebb Tide Lodge”) were eliminated within this process for multiple reasons.

What Won’t Be Happening?

The new site will not be a homeless shelter or a soup kitchen.

MCHC is not increasing operations with the extra square footage, but will be able to house all its programs under “one roof” with all its staff on-site to work one-on-one with our clients.

Why Is This Property A Good Fit?

There is a fully enclosed courtyard which will mean that clients can wait in privacy for appointments, with no appearance of loitering or other street based issues.

The high quality of the accommodation is a great fit with our other well-maintained properties in Fort Bragg.

The configuration of space and residential units will enable us to provide our essential social services and care.

Will Arrests, Loitering And Behavior Problems Increase?

The Fort Bragg Police Department statistics show no arrests at the current location of the Hospitality Center in three years so there is no reason to be concerned about arrests at the new location. At the Public Hearing the Police Department expressed support for the new location.

There will not be any loitering around the new project because the courtyard enables people to wait out of sight.

Hospitality Center staff will undertake outreach in the area.

Hospitality Center’s Clean Up Crew will clean up trash weekly in the neighborhood.

Our Board members and Council members have started Downtown Watch in partnership with local businesses.

A police substation on site at the New Hospitality Center has been suggested by the Fort Bragg Police Department, which would enable more foot patrols to take place in the downtown area.


Call: Anna Shaw, Executive Director (707 961 0172)



Please see Wellness Center staff for any additional information. Wellness Center is located at 474 S. Franklin St, Fort Bragg.

* * *


(Ed note: It looks like the Fort Bragg general plan and the zoning codes clearly prohibit transitional housing in the central business district. City council and staff are ignoring this. Rod Jones is the lawyer representing the clear majority of Fort Bragg people who are challenging the City's conversion of the Old Coast Hotel to a halfway house.)

* * *

Failing to get the City Council to reconsider its January 12, 2015 resolution approving $1.2 million federal and state funds to be handed to the Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center for purchase of the Old Coast Hotel, a frustrated group called Concerned Citizens of Fort Bragg filed suit in the local superior court today.

According to CCFB spokesperson Carolyn Petersen, the suit claims that the City began a rushed or “fast track” approval process late last year when a different site was pulled by the owner and the public was not provided sufficient notice and time for public comment. The City’s posted agenda listed the wrong address and the matter was not corrected until four days before the January 12 hearing. “People were really upset,” she said, “as they wanted to be heard and have their Council take thoughtful and deliberative action afterward.” “Instead,” continued Petersen, “it was as if they had their minds made up and put all their energy into blocking further conversation. And this was after many of us gathered over 1,200 signatures on a petition saying exactly this and delivered it to the Council at its January 26th meeting. Something is wrong here. Why this haste? Where is our opportunity for robust discussion and complete information?” She went on to point out that an anonymous realtor assisted MCHC but that person’s identity and information about the supposed 20 alternative sites that MCHC found “unacceptable,” has never been disclosed.

The suit alleges defective notice of the initial hearing, a failure to conduct an environmental initial analysis, coupled with a prospective violation of the City’s zoning law, an abuse of discretion by the City in not completely studying the situation, looking for alternatives, and complying with federal “block grant” guidelines when making the award. It seeks to stop the City from its final step of approving disbursement of the money at its April 13 meeting.

Anne Marie Cesario pointed out that numerous mental health professionals have also written the Council expressing serious doubts about the propriety of the OCH location, situated, as it is, on a very busy corner with only two off-site parking spaces and creating a kind of “fishbowl” for clients entering and leaving the facility. “Nobody wants to inhibit the City in fulfilling the need for adequate emergency and transitional housing facilities and the provision of mental health services,” said Cesario, “but this needs to be accomplished thoughtfully and in a way that provides the biggest bang for taxpayer dollars. Spending $1.2 for a building with thin walls and then erecting simple moveable walls inside of it does not provide for confidentiality or security.”

The matter will be heard in the local Ten Mile Branch Court on Wednesday, March 18 at 1:15 p.m.  Court date is being rescheduled.

Carolyn Petersen or Anne Marie Cesario,

* * *


* * *


A fascinating baseball life came to an end Saturday with the passing of Al Rosen at 91. Best remembered for winning the American League’s Most Valuable Player award in 1953 as Cleveland’s third baseman, Rosen shined brightly but only briefly as a player and would later reach similar levels of accomplishment as a general manager, becoming the only former MVP to also earn the Executive of the Year award.

For all of his achievements, there was a fair amount of frustration and tragedy in Rosen’s long life. His father, described by his mother as a “ne’er do well” abandoned his family when Rosen was an infant. He suffered from asthma in his earliest years, and after his mother moved the family from South Carolina to Miami’s Little Havana in an effort to find a more agreeable climate for her ailing son, Rosen spent the rest of his youth battling anti-Semitism as one of the few Jews in his new neighborhood. As a result, Rosen grew up tough. An amateur boxer while at the University of Florida, his professional baseball career was halted almost as soon as it started by World War II. Rosen enlisted in the Navy in 1942, saw action in the South Pacific and rose to the position of lieutenant before returning to baseball in 1946 at the age of 22.

AlRosenRosen debuted in the majors in 1947, and while he immediately revealed himself to be a tremendous hitter, he wasn’t well regarded as a third baseman and remained blocked in the Indians' lineup by slick-fielding veteran Ken Keltner for several seasons. He played just 35 games in his first three campaigns before finally getting his chance in 1950. From that year through '54, Rosen hit .298/.396/.528 (151 OPS+) for Cleveland while averaging 31 home runs and 114 RBIs per season, leading the American League twice in home runs, twice in RBIs and twice in total bases. His best season was 1953, when he hit .336/.422/.613 (180 OPS+) with 43 home runs, 145 RBIs, 115 runs scored and 367 total bases, leading the majors in RBIs and OPS+ and the AL in runs, home runs, slugging, OPS and total bases. His 10.1 wins above replacement that season (using’s formula) were also a major-league-leading total and stand as the most ever in a single season by a third baseman.

Rosen was the unanimous choice as AL MVP that season, the first since his idol Hank Greenberg in 1935, but even the '53 campaign came with its own disappointment. Needing a hit in his final at-bat of the season to win the batting title and the triple crown, Rosen appeared to beat out a grounder to third, but missed stepping on first base. He wound up finishing one point behind the .337 average posted by Washington's Mickey Vernon. Had he been safe, Rosen would have won the batting title by one-tenth of a point, but Rosen wouldn’t let his manager, Hall of Famer Al Lopez, argue the call. “I was out, Al,” he said. “I missed the bag.”

Rosen got off to a blazing start in 1954 but was briefly moved to first base early in the year and broke a finger playing the position in early June. That injury cost him 11 games and slowed his production thereafter. Despite that, he started his third straight All-Star game that summer, hitting two home runs before the hometown crowd at Cleveland Stadium. With Rosen hitting .300/.404/.506 and adding 24 home runs and 102 RBIs, the Indians went on to win a then-AL-record 111 games to prevent the Yankees from winning the pennant for the first time since 1948. However, Rosen managed just three singles and a walk against the Giants in the World Series as Cleveland lost in four straight.

That off-season, Rosen’s car was rear-ended, leaving him with whiplash and chronic back pain. He was never the same player, though he did make one more All-Star team and hit another 21 home runs in 1955. After a second disappointing season in '56, Greenberg, then the Indians' general manager, tried to cut Rosen’s pay for a second consecutive season. Disgusted, Rosen retired at 32.

After returning to college, Rosen found success in a second career as a stock broker and casino executive. Shortly after his first wife fell to her death in 1971, he attempted to return to baseball, submitting a bid to buy the Indians with Cleveland native and fellow businessman George Steinbrenner in 1972. When their bid failed, Steinbrenner bought the Yankees, with Rosen among the minority investors, in 1973. Five years later, Steinbrenner hired Rosen as his team president and chief operating officer. Caught in the crossfire between Steinbrenner and manager Billy Martin in New York, Rosen quit midway through the 1979 season, but not before hiring former teammate Bob Lemon to replace Billy Martin in July of 1978 and negotiating the 10-player trade that brought pitching prospect Dave Righetti over from the Rangers.

After his resignation, Rosen was hired by Bally’s Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City. He, in turn, hired Willie Mays as a “goodwill amabassador” for Bally’s, leading to commissioner Bowie Kuhn’s controversial decision to ban Mays from the game, a ban lifted by Kuhn’s successor, Peter Ueberroth, in 1985.

In October 1980, Rosen was hired by the Astros as their general manager. He replaced the popular Tal Smith, who had been ousted by owner John McMullen following a season in which Houston had made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Nonetheless, the Astros had winning records in three of Rosen’s five years as GM, and he became well-regarded enough that the Giants hired him away in September 1985. The next year, Houston won the NL West, thanks in large part to MVP and Cy Young award winner Mike Scott, whom Rosen had stolen from the Mets in December 1982, and slugging first baseman Glenn Davis, whom Rosen had drafted in 1981.

Rosen’s greatest success as a general manager came in San Francisco, where he helped build the team that would win the National League West in 1987 and '89. Rosen won the Executive of the Year award for the first of those division titles, which snapped a 15-year postseason drought for the Giants. In 1989, San Francisco won its first pennant in 27 years while Kevin Mitchell, whom Rosen acquired from the Padres midway through the '87 season, won the NL MVP. Once again, however, Rosen's greatest success was laced with tragedy and disappointment, as the World Series was interrupted by the Loma Prieta earthquake, around which the Giants were swept in four games by the A’s.

Rosen resigned from his post in November 1992. It was effectively a retirement, though he would occasionally consult for teams and did return to Steinbrenner’s fold as a special assistant to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman in 2001 and '02. Rosen’s playing career was too short to merit serious Hall of Fame consideration, or even eligibility. Having played just seven full seasons in the majors, he never appeared on a ballot, though he was part of the Golden Era Committee that elected fellow third-baseman Ron Santo in 2011.

Nonetheless, Rosen will be remembered fondly by those within baseball and by fans of the game as one of the most respected individuals to pass through the sport in the second half of the 20th century. He is survived by his second wife, three sons, two step-children, four grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.

(Cliff Corcoran. Courtesy, Sports Illustrated)

* * *


(from Return to Sender by Ralph Nader, a collection of 115 unanswered letters sent to George W. Bush and Barack Obama between 2000 and 2015, out this month from Seven Stories Press.)

Dear President Obama,

In previous correspondence I've taken note of the remarkably consistent practice by the White House of neither responding (whether by you or your staff) to substantive letters on pending or proposed public policies nor even providing the courtesy of acknowledging receipt. In 2009 I had a telephone conversation with Mr. Mike Kelleher, who was in charge of handling letters to the President. He recognized that you did not have any policy about when and if you or White House staff would respond or even acknowledge the receipt of substantive letters. He said that he would get back to me were such a policy established. He never did.

The official discourtesy by the White House was not always the case. President Carter and his staff were often responsive. But as the years wore on, presidents became less and less responsive, until George W. Bush and you closed the door. I know of no person sending you a policy letter, either critical or suggestive, who has received either a response or an acknowledgment.

By contrast, I am enclosing two letters sent to me by A. Opalick and M. Bourque, the executive correspondence officers of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. My letters raised factual concerns about the Prime Minister's urging of Verizon to enter the Canadian telecommunications market. Note both the acknowledgement and the referral to the proper minister. Isn't this something you can emulate — making citizens at least know that their substantive letters were received and were sent to the proper government department after possibly being read by White House staff?

I look forward to your response or that of your staff.

Sincerely yours, Ralph Nader

* * *


La Voce del Vento Chamber Players present the last in a series of Chamber Music concerts on Sunday, April 12, at 3:00 pm at the Soper Reese Theatre. The program features harpsichord and woodwind selections, both ancient and modern. Lake County pianist, Tom Aiken, will play the harpsichord.   Reserved seat tickets are $20 and $15, and are available online at; at the theatre Box Office, 275 S. Main St., Lakeport from 10:30 am to 5:30 pm on Fridays; or at The Travel Center, 1265 S. Main St., Lakeport, from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. For more information call 707-263-0577.


  1. Lazarus March 16, 2015

    In regard to Mr. Weller’s comment on Ms. King of Willits. One should know she is a vibrant supporter of anything CalTrans or CHP, belongs to the local hater group that is blindly in support of the Willits Bypass Project, and ridicules anyone or any entity that dares to disagree, no matter what… ring a ding dong…
    She has said in public that Marijuana is the Devil’s weed and supports anything that would ban it from the planet forever… Wowee Zowee…!
    On the other hand Mr. Weller’s arguments are basically dated to 2012. It about what have you done for me lately dude. . Mr. Weller is right about talking to Mr. and Mrs. Ford, they know the drill.

  2. Jim Updegraff March 16, 2015

    I feel sorry for Ralph Nader – no one seems to take him serious. But then Mr. Nader takes 500 hundred words to say what most people would say in 125 words.

  3. Randy Burke March 16, 2015

    I had a dream the other night, and lo and behold in the dream I opened my post office box and there sat 12 pages of Odd Bodkins within the Anderson Valley Advertiser weekly. I need a Bodkins fix.

    • Bruce Anderson March 16, 2015

      Mr. Bodkins, we regret to inform you, is presently unwell.

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