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Off the Record (May 6, 2015)

EXPECT a recall petition to be filed against Fort Bragg mayor Dave Turner. There is huge anger at the present 3-2 domination of the Fort Bragg City Council by Turner, Doug Hammerstrom and Scott Dietz, auto-yes votes for whatever city manager Linda Ruffing proposes. Their vote to approve conversion of the Old Coast Hotel to a nebulously therapeutic rehab center operated by the private Ortner Management Group has outraged a clear majority of Fort Bragg citizens. (Imagine, proportionately, the huge outcry if San Francisco's Palace Hotel was turned into a mental health halfway house.) A recall of Turner will pass easily, assuming the recallers come up with a plausible replacement for him. And the talk is the popular former police chief Scott Mayberry just might be that candidate.

FROM THE DOCS we've seen, it's obvious that the deal to convert Old Coast to a privatized halfway house was made by Fort Bragg City staff, specifically City Manager Linda Ruffing and her assistant town managers, who brought it off completely outside anything resembling a transparent democratic process. Ruffing and Co. are unelected. They did the deal with Carine, the owner of Old Coast, then got Turner, who seems to assume the votes of Dietz and the impaired Hammerstrom, to sign off on it.

THE DIFFERENCE between the Old Coast swindle and the second looming swindle of an unneeded trash transfer station is that the engineer of the transfer station deal, Mike Sweeney, the most interesting man in Mendocino County, is that Sweeney has the support, eight years back, of his board of directors, a supine quintet of already elected officials drawn from local elected government. Old Coast is entirely the work of unelected people.

Jeremy Freeman
Jeremy Freeman

JEREMY JASON FREEMAN, 22, of Lakeport, has pled guilty to the May 25, 2014 murder in Covelo of Rosalena “Belle” Rodriguez, 21. Freeman admitted that he had fired the gun that killed Ms. Rodriguez. Formal sentencing is scheduled for May 22 when, the DA said, "If this defendant is ever deemed suitable for release from prison after having first served 19 years, he will be under parole supervision for life." Deputy District Attorney Kevin Davenport was Freeman's prosecutor. Detectives from the Sheriff's Department investigated the case.

BERNIE SANDERS has announced for President. Good luck, Bernie in a process already rigged for Hillary, that faithful servant of the One Percent and an enthusiastic advocate for war forever. Your chances range from none to none. The last time the Democrats went for a candidate who promised to at least try to represent the true interests of most Americans, that candidate, George McGovern, was ridiculed by mass media and Richard Nixon went on to his catastrophic reign, finally flaming out in a narco-haze of prescription drugs and clinical paranoia. Sanders has his drawbacks, but he's the only candidate, besides Warren, who we could vote for without a post-election impulse to suicide.

WHO DECIDES who gets the Demo nomination? Draw yourself a mental composite of the amalgamated public liberals of Mendocino County — KXYX's board of directors; the 3-2 majority at the Fort Bragg City Council; Supervisors Hamburg and Woodhouse; the MTA board; the entire non-profit apparat of the County, all our public bureaucrats, and you understand not only the Billery mentality but you also understand why the Democrats are actively hostile to your interests, Mr. and Ms. Joe Blow. (All of the above are enthusiastic Democrats, although Hamburg, when it's to the Democrat's advantage, will pretend to be a Green. He's what is called a rally killer in baseball, the automatic out with the bases loaded. The slightest political energy to the left of Obama-Clinton, here comes Hamburg, Joe Louis Wildman, Lynda McClure, John Lewallen, etc. to kill it.) The difference between the two political parties is that the Republicans are at least honest enough to kick you to the curb while laughing in your broke, no hope face. The Democrats kick you to the curb while they tell you they're doing it for your own good, and how much they love you. Both parties represent the comfortable and the very comfortable. A majority of Americans are no longer comfortable.

THE POLITICAL LEFT on the Northcoast is about 8% of the vote, roughly the percentage Solomon, a Sanders-like Democrat, got in the Congressional race that elected the volleyball player, Huffman.

THE LOCAL ANGLE: In 1972, my Boonville house functioned as McGovern headquarters for much of Mendocino County. We worked the phones hard for George, got out signs to the few people who would even accept one let alone post one on their property, and talked up the guy to whoever would listen. Which meant we mostly talked to ourselves. Which, come to think of it, is what the local libs are still doing forty years later. (cf any talk show/echo chamber program on KZYX   broken only by great slabs of Dr. Richard Miller-type bullshit.) And Nixon took Mendo with well over 80 percent of the vote. Hillary will take Mendo 60-40 with more than half of our eligible voters not bothering to vote, most of them realizing that the choice is between bad and worse.

TIM DEL FIORENTINO was sworn in Monday as a deputy with the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office 13 months after his father, Mendocino County sheriff’s Deputy Ricky Del Fiorentino, was killed in the line of duty in Fort Bragg. Deputy Del Fiorentino will be assigned to the County Jail to begin.

RECOMMENDED READING: “Trollope Trending” by Adam Gopnik in the current edition of The New Yorker. Gopnik is consistently good on literary subjects — Oscar Wilde, Beckett etc., the big guns of world lit. I've always preferred Trollope over Dickens, who was more or less Trollope's contemporary, but Dickens is the much more celebrated of the two, maybe because he's funnier. Listen to me here! The sage of Boonville says Trollope is not quite up to Dickens in comic touch but if you read, say, Trollope's “The Way We Live Now” you'll come away saying to yourself, “Hey, this is the Way We Live Now.” That book travels! And nobody has even come close to Trollope's chilling novel about jealously, “He Knew He Was Right.”

MENDO, AS ALWAYS, on the cutting edge of the last century: The ACLU announces that Mendocino County is one of eight Superior Courts in the state that compels people to pay their traffic tickets in full before they can get in front of a judge to dispute the charges. The ACLU says Mendocino, Del Norte, Fresno, Tuolumne, Mariposa, Tulare, Madera and Shasta counties are in violation of Constitutionally-guaranteed due process by requiring traffic fines prior to hearings. A typical traffic ticket in California is nearly $500, which consists of a base fine of $100, with the additional fees generated for anything from court construction, for instance, as fines are doing right now for the new County Courthouse in Ukiah that nobody but our nine judges want.

IN MENDOCINO COUNTY, these extortionate and ever higher fees, are called “bail,” which the ACLU points out should not be a condition of release because the violation alleged hasn't gone to court. Every year, hundreds of County residents are arrested for not paying traffic fines, which grow very large via nebulous add-ons that put the fines beyond the ability of the ordinary person to pay.

THE OFFENDING COUNTIES have until May 28th to respond to the charges, or get sued if they don't put the fine cart back behind the hearing horse. Maybe get sued, that should read. The ACLU tends to be long on threats, short on action.

SUPERVISOR WOODHOUSE — pause here for heaving sighs, despairing moans — rightly wants to prohibit pesticide and herbicide use by Caltrans on the Willits Bypass project, but couldn’t bring himself to squeak out a yes vote for an advisory request that MRC not similarly poison vast swathes of their forests, thus creating a huge fire hazard to their neighboring communities. The cliche is that consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, but it's more often the hobgoblin of no mind, which might be the case here given Woody's public remarks.

FORT BRAGG CHARTER CITY/MENDOCINO CHARTER COUNTY — Tuesday, May 12th, 6PM Town Hall, Fort Bragg. This is a group of folks outside city limits who feel disenfranchised. John Fremont arranged meeting time/space for people who live outside FB voting boundaries to discuss County and City charters. Everyone is invited. The County Charter folks have worked three years on their project. They know a lot. Please come.

SODDEN THOUGHT DEPARTMENT: All due respect to the KZYX critics, who are absolutely, irrefutably correct in their criticisms of station management, but if the critics took power tomorrow nothing much, if anything, would change. They would have programs, their enemies, real and perceived, wouldn't. The issue in Mendocino County almost always has more to do with personalities than it does substance.

THE NUT of the prob is not the nuts dominant at the place — outpatients are omni-present in Mendocino County's public life; the prob is the way the station is structured, with its built-in programmer's vote for whomever happens to be managing the place. And programmers vote as a bloc for whomever happens to be functioning as management because, so long as they have their programs and management doesn't mess with them, well, vote yes for the snarling incompetence we see at the power levers today. And management selects programmers. Does anybody really believe that management, in the Mendo context, would cold bloodedly allow a real dissident on the air? Especially one critical of THEM?

AND THE PROGRAMMER vote is large enough to ensure that no matter how incompetent management is, management stays in place, because most of the rest of the membership is happy with the tunes and the political soma piped in daily by NPR.

MOST OF THE KZYZ MEMBERSHIP, that part of the membership that bothers to vote, doesn't give a hoot how the institution is managed. Trustee seats are won with what? 300 votes? Hell, you've got almost that many programmers. And they do vote.

KZYX ought to be disbanded and reorganized as a true community radio station as per KMUD. And programmers, and anybody who wants a program, ought to throw their names in a hat for an annual drawing.

WELL, MR. NEGATIVE, you're a KZYX member. What else do you want?

I WANT the station moved to Ukiah and present management frog-marched off the Mendocino bluffs into a strong, outgoing tide. I doubt if the membership would vote my way on that one, but short of the bullwhip and the bulldozer I'd be happy with an hour a day of unfettered call-ins presided over by a smart, articulate person (not presently widely available in Mendocino County other than KC Meadows of the Ukiah Daily Journal who, natch, is among the legion of smart people already banned or only tune in to see how crazy the Women's Voices show has become) and a reasonably competent LOCAL news show. Even Coate and Aig, backed unanimously by the usual Mendo Stooge board of directors, ought to be able to manage a reasonable amount of local news and talk.

BETH BOSK had written on the Coast listserve: "Just what Mike Jani wants. Talk and Squirt. No moratorium. 5000 more acres of dead trees intentionally left standing surrounding Comptche, Navarro, Elk, the upper reaches of the Albion, possibly Spring Creek this year. And in a few years, crews hauling out the remainder redwood, marketed as 'sustainably harvested decking' at Home Depot. Dead limbs and treetops falling into the exhaust manifolds of the skidders, the bulldozers, starting fires the loggers are left to suppress. This is not a timed item. No indication even whether it will be heard in the morning or afternoon. Can you give us some clarification here, Dan Hamburg?” (Hey, Beth, pretty good statement of the reality out there. Stay focused, old girl.)

HAMBURG, the lonely warrior of advisory measures replied: “No member of the Board other than me seems to want to pressure MRC to do the right thing. Even the very gentle pressure of a voluntary moratorium that I suggested on 4/21 failed to get a Board majority. MRC, despite the threat of an initiative and the potential jeopardy to their much-prized Forest Stewardship Council certification, isn't moving. They will offer firebreaks, water tanks, perhaps move H&S back from residences and residential neighborhoods, but that's it. I find it impossible to participate in a public process to address the issue of catastrophic fire when one of the participants keeps (literally) adding fuel to the fire. — Dan”

IN '94, the Supervisors voted 5-0 against corporate forest poisonings. The prob with the current board is they won't take MRC on, and Hamburg, as usual, makes himself the Hamlet on the issue by blaming MRC in advance for failed negotiations.

WATCHING THE FORT BRAGG CITY COUNCIL in action the other night, and praising Mendocino TV the whole way for making it possible for a Boonville audience of one to watch the proceedings live on-line, I was happy to see Fort Bragg High School commended for its new facade, a radical aesthetic upgrade over the institutional slab that greeted us all for many years prior. Reluctantly giving the town's inept Council majority its due, it's heartening that they encourage property upgrades. The town looks good! Ukiah and Willits were irreversibly sprawled years ago, and although you'll hear an occasional squeak from the twin inland hells about beautification projects, those upgrades are invisible in the general, unplanned, unattended squalor.

WE AGREE with Susan Rush of Manchester about ignored violations of the Brown Act, which mandates that the public's business be done in public. If the DA would just prosecute a single local school board for doing the public's business out of the sight and hearing of the public, it would have a salubrious political effect benefitting all of us. School boards are the most egregious offenders because no one pays any attention to them, but lots of local boards operate out of utter contempt for basic democratic processes. And have been getting away with it for years. Mrs. Rush's complaint about the Point Arena School Board was and is well-documented and irrefutable. DA Eyster ought to pursue it.

WATER TROUGH IS BACK IN THE SADDLE — Driving through the south end of town a week or so ago I noticed the neon sign at the venerable Water Trough bar was lighted, and the front door was open. I did what you or anyone else would do: Slammed on the brakes and did a four-wheel drifting skid into the dusty parking lot, and was heading up the front step while Trophy the wife was still recovering from the blown-up airbag. Inside, friendly and cheerful. Head on over. Joints like the Trough are on the endangered species list. — Tommy Wayne Kramer, Ukiah

ON LINE gardening tip: After years of gardening and having tried a variety of methods (beer, salt, copper strips are just a few) to rid my garden of slugs and snails, I finally resorted to hand picking them in the early morning hours. I would squish the slugs underfoot, pop the snails between my fingers or fling them as far away as I could throw them. And still they came to feast on the tender shoots. I never had a moment's regret about my slayings and almost even ceased to recognize them as living creatures. But, it was a tedious, unpleasant operation. Then a friend gave me a can of Sluggo and everything changed. I researched the stuff before I sprinkled it around my garden to be sure that it would not harm my cat, the birds, humans or any animals and that it was truly organic and benign. It checked out. I now bait just twice in the growing season. I still find a live, lone snail or two, now and then. It seems that there are far less of them this year, probably due to our drought conditions.


A swarm of four earthquakes — the strongest measuring at magnitude 4.0 — centered just south of Concord rattled the Bay Area Sunday afternoon. The U.S. Geological Survey reported the quake occurred about 3:13 p.m., with an epicenter half a mile south of Concord. The quake was about 9 miles deep and occurred on the Concord-Green Valley Fault, the USGS said. In San Francisco, the initial quake felt like a quick jolt. Concord police said there were no reports of damage or injuries, but said people called in to ask about the quake. The swarm started with a magnitude 2.5 quake in the same area about 3:01 p.m. A 2.7 quake occurred about a minute after the strongest shaker, while a 2.4 quake shook the area about 3:28pm.

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