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Off The Record (July 8, 2015)

THE RECALL of Fort Bragg mayor, Dave Turner, has stalled. Papers suspiciously not filed on time, too many “strong” personalities dominating recall meetings, alienating people unhappy with Turner's arrogant, heedless tenure, during which staffers have been allowed to make crucial Fort Bragg decisions. Are the recallers discouraged? Not really. They're re-grouping.

A READER WRITES: "So here comes the Mendocino 4th of July parade. I’m standing across the street from the judge’s flat bed truck. An announcer from KOZT is on the mike announcing the passing spectacle. Up front: leading the parade are two guys in a convertible who are sharing “grand marshall’s duties” for this year’s festivities. At first, I thought it was some sort of gay marriage tribute, but, as it turns out, they were just two local do gooders parading their goodness. "Buzz Graham and Steve Antler,” the MC announces to curious applause. However, strolling by himself behind the convertible is an odd, almost ghostly lone man with a tiny chihuahua on a leash. The man is dressed in a faded denim outfit—pants and jeans with some kind of macho man meets dope muffin boots. The announcer looks towards the man with curiosity as if some stoner or drunk had wandered into the front of the parade. “Who’s that man,” he questions gruffly on his speaker. Nobody in the crowd seems to know, until finally a lone female voice calls out weakly: “Dan Hamburg.” The DJ recovers. “Yes folks, that’s Dan Hamburg. Your fifth district Supervisor. Hey, Dan.” The lone man turns with a modest wave. Nobody responds; nobody claps… Nothing. The lone man and the little dog walk on as obscure as they appeared. On the other hand. Sheriff Allman and district attorney Eyster were also a duo in a jeep. Ever the glad hands playing both sides of any crowd, the jeep stops in front of the judge’s stand and Allman hops out with something in his hand, which he offers to all the judges. Cookies, honorary, deputy sheriff badges, get out jail cards, old zip ties for dope plants? Who knows? I think it was supposed to be meant as a gag, but the crowd didn’t seem get it.

LADIES AND GERMS, the Second Quarter 2015 Non-medicinal Marijuana Prosecution Stats: Sixty-seven (67) individuals charged with a marijuana-related primary offense had their cases resolved during the 2nd quarter of the 2015 calendar year. The conviction rate for the quarter was 85%. Of these 67, ten individuals had all charges dismissed against them. Two individuals were convicted at the infraction level. Forty individuals were convicted at the misdemeanor level. Fifteen individuals were convicted at the felony level. Three of the 15 convicted at the felony level received local prison sentences. Seven of the 15 felons were specifically convicted of trying to personally profit from possessing marijuana for sale. The 40 misdemeanants and 12 of the 15 felons are now on either supervised or court (summary) probation. All 52 are subject to warrantless search on demand of a peace officer, as well as other terms and conditions of probation. As just one term of their probation, 41 of the probationers must perform a collective 6,625 hours of community service, with monitoring of their enrollment and the completion of hours by the staff of Mendo-Lake Alternative Service, Inc.

THERE'S A STEADY level of street violence these days, even in the generally sedate precincts of bucolic Mendocino County — a murder last week in Covelo, the recent menacing of Supervisor McCowen by a known-to-be-violent street guy, several repeat fighting drunks out of Fort Bragg, and the usual low-intensity mayhem whose perps show up daily in the Sheriff's Log. But last week's random shooting murder at Pier 14 near the Ferry Building in San Francisco has inspired horror in everyone, everywhere. The only good thing to come out of the recent street horrors is a belated, reality-based focus on effective strategies for dealing with the homeless.

BECAUSE LOCAL JAILS are perennially overcrowded, and now more overcrowded than ever thanks to Governor Brown's “realignment” program, there is a harder element on the street than there was at this time last year. Realignment, if you came in late, sends supposedly low-level offenders from state prisons to county jails where, after a brief stop, they are released to the streets under supervision that exists more in theory than in practice.

THERE'S NO LEADERSHIP on the homeless issue at any level of government. Romantics in local government seem to think the term is synonymous with movie vagabonds, bearded Gene Kellys dancing down America's streets looking for work while Grace Kelly puts dinner on.

IF, HOWEVER, you argue that a lot of the homeless are beyond help outside lock-up facilities that don't presently exist except for the jails the homeless are confined to for a few days at a time on a rotating basis, you're denounced as heartless. Or a Republican. That's where the discussion is stuck — between the rock of lib-lab delusion and the hard place of a growing population of volatile street people, most of them deranged on dope and alcohol. Or simply deranged, like the pathetic character arrested an hour after he shot the young Pleasanton woman as she strolled on Pier 14 with her father.

PERSONNEL: SALLY SWAN, business manager of the Mendocino Unified School District Swan for 14 years, has been appointed to a 3-year contract at an annual salary of $175,000 with the Tamalpais Unified School District, Marin County.

UKIAH HAS FINALLY started seeking receivership for the abandoned Palace Hotel. Ukiah has argued about what to do with the Palace for a quarter century of promises by the present owner that she was determined to rehab the faded structure. Now the City of Ukiah will have to figure out what to do with it.

RECEIVERSHIP can be a very good deal for the owner, a Marin County realtor named Laines. Ukiah could fix the decrepit three-story landmark up at public expense and be required to give it back to Ms. Laines. Given the condition of the old hotel, however, Ukiah is more likely to wind up bulldozing it, saddling downtown Ukiah with much more of an eyesore than is now presented by the brick and ivy wreckage of the Palace they've assumed responsibility for.

KATE WOLF, A REVIEW. Report From The Front. I thought I might send a short note about how the 20th Annual Kate Wolf Festival went. Again it was another wonderful music venue, though a touch hot with most days at 100 plus degrees. For their 20th year things are slipping, though. Thursday was a fiasco, gates opened at 12:30 PM. Reminded me of an old Le Mans Race start. At that time our camper was about a mile from the entry gates in standstill traffic. Hwy 101 north of Laytonville was at a standstill! It took over an hour and a half sitting in 104 degree heat on Hwy 101 before we could enter the Black Oak Ranch grounds. Next step was to stand in line to exchange our PC Printed tickets for an armband and a camping pass. We were directed to stand in line out in a field amongst 500 other patrons as the staff of only four ticket takers handled Pre-sales, Will Call and ticket sales. It was abusive to treat us dedicated followers of the Kate Wolf Festival in such a way, 20th Annual!!! Our group of six was ready for the heat, but not the line in and the line of 500 to watch four folks do a very simple task with today's barcode technology. I proposed to Cumulus Presents, Inc. that they open the gates every day at 8 AM. I also proposed that they use bar code technology better and have at least 12 or more handling tickets in the ticket booth to start, if not out in the field as folks drive in and while in their vehicles. My plan is to send off a letter, mentioning my issues and suggestions, to Cumulus Presents, Inc and asked them to address my concerns before I decide to attend my 7th Kate Wolf Festival with my group of music lovers. I hope some of your readers / Kate Wolf Festers might send a memo to Cumulus Presents with similar demands as well. We might just head over to your beloved Sierra Nevada Music Festival instead. Festival Attendee. PS. In the ticket line, the person in front of me was asking questions about pricing for a 2, 3 or 4 day ticket and starting info. Could you imagine someone jumping through the same lines and heat and not really sure they want to attend? All the info is easily accessible in the comfort of your home or even a coffee shop. I also observed several patrons suffering from heat stroke and some being attended to by staff.

EUPHEMISM of the week sent out to telecom customers: "We are escalating aggressively to get this issue resolved."

CITY OF FORT BRAGG tried to raise $5,500 on gofundme for the annual Fort Bragg fireworks display. Ten people donated a total of $225.

MAYBE IF FORT BRAGG wasn't paying out so much bread for management and outside lawyers, it might have a few bucks for the circuses its citizens enjoy.

PREVALENT RUMOR in the drug “community,” says legendary Mendo lawman, Peter Hoyle, was arrested in connection with misconduct during last week's Island Mountain pot raids. File this one under Wishful Thinking. Hoyle rides on, omni-present in the collective toker imagination.

DISSUADING FURTHER PURSUIT. Great line from the Sheriff's Department's press release of June 29th describing an alleged murderer fleeing the scene: ".... It was further reported that a witness had pursued John Ross from the scene and Ross had shot at him. The shot missed the victim and dissuaded further pursuit...."

FRANCISCO J. ZAMORA was on probation for brandishing a weapon, a knife, when he committed another 417 (exhibiting a weapon in a threatening manner), this time threatening to hit County Supervisor John McCowen with a walking stick. The episode happened on June 17, McCowen called the Sheriff's Department. When the deputies arrived, Mr. Zamora brandished the walking stick at them as well. This case was set to go to trial, but the witnesses for the defense — several unnamed transients — could not be found. During a pre-trial conference on June 30th defense attorney Lindsay Peak asked that Zamora be released on his own recognizance so he could go find his witnesses. (Our emphasis.) Judge John Behnke said no and asked Deputy DA Jessa Lee Mills if there were any offers in the case. Ms. Mills said that if Zamora would plead to the first count, the 417 on the County Supervisor, she would drop the other charges, and 30 days in jail would take care of it. Mr. Zamora has until July 9th to think it over. If he turns down the deal, and the witnesses are not found the trial will go forward without them, and the additional charges (brandishing at the cops) will be included. As we've mentioned a number of times, the 2nd District supervisor spends much of his free time cleaning up homeless camps, especially those bordering the battered Russian River. McCowen knows many of the chronics personally. (Bruce McEwen)

RECOMMENDED READING: “A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, Essays and Arguments” by David Foster Wallace. It was a big loss to American lit when Wallace committed suicide in 2008 at age 46. He was one of the few young writers I could read without shorting out my bullshit detector. Wallace wrote with real passion, and passion, not to mention real experience, seems to have been bled out of the young 'uns sitting around listening to bad advice from the hacks who staff all these writer's workshops and creative lit programs young writers come from these days. We have more writers and less readable prose than ever, which I guess you could also say about every other area of American cultural life — music, theater and so on. The stuff collected in this volume is really good, and I don't know of anybody who had more range than this guy. The essays go from literary theory (the only essay I skipped, but Wallace was reassuringly sardonic in the paras I did read) to tennis.

WALLACE: "And make no mistake: irony tyrannizes us. The reason our pervasive cultural irony is at once so powerful and so unsatisfying is that an ironist is impossible to pin down. All US irony is based on an implicit ‘I don't really mean what I'm saying.’ So what does irony as a cultural norm mean to say? That it's impossible to mean what you say? That maybe it's too bad it's impossible, but wake up and smell the coffee already? Most likely, I think, today's irony ends up saying: ‘How totally banal of you to ask what I really mean.’ Anyone with the heretical gall to ask an ironist what he actually stands for ends up looking like an hysteric or a prig. And herein lies the oppressiveness of institutionalized irony, the too-successful rebel: the ability to interdict the question without attending to its subject is, when exercised, tyranny. It is the new junta, using the very tool that exposed its enemy to insulate itself.”

BRUNO RUHLAND WRITES: “Please keep your esteemed rag coming. I can't wait for subscriptions to The New Yorker — ass kiss central to fame, wealth and power — and Harper's — never as good as it ought to be — to end. It's down to the AVA, London Review of Books and The Nation (got a soft spot), and, well, of course, the accursed Internet."

ME, TOO, except when The Nation went Clintonian I gave it up completely, and I'd been a subscriber for years. The London Review always has a few things I read all the way through. The New Yorker's fiction is generally awful, the poetry mostly bad, but about every three issues there's something good. Harper’s, as you say, is never as good as it ought to be. The lit mags and other allegedly highbrow stuff clogging up the mag rack at Green Apple are beyond awful, maybe because they're all dependent on foundations and universities, but they'd probably be awful anyway. Culturally, it's pretty bleak out there. As Gore Vidal famously put it, “Lack of talent is no longer enough.”

NATE COLLINS WRITES: "Watching the Copa America alongside the women's World Cup play especially, as I watched the Chile versus Uruguay play the other day, I realized the inferiority of the men's game. The men are invariably egomaniacal, melodramatic candy asses. On the other hand, watching the women strive, struggle and achieve is a joy to the human soul. When they flop it just reminds me of the men's game and why they should stop imitating it. Go USA Women’s Soccer versus Germany this afternoon!"

A FRIEND WRITES: "I’m still trying to combat stupidity. Wrote a letter to the Monthly (Berkeley) about their cover story on that nut Dana Ullman and homeopathy, two letters to KPFA about their promotion of vaccine nonsense (did you know that the polio virus doesn’t cause polio and Roosevelt suffered from toxins he absorbed swimming in the ocean near a tannery outlet? Dr. Suzanne Humphries) Sigh….And a fellow swimmer got annoyed with me last week because I don’t believe in astrology! It never ends."

HEADLINE on the front page of Saturday's Ukiah Daily Journal read, Woman Allegedly Bites Nurse at Ukiah Valley Medical Center. No allegedly about it, as several hundred people instantly knew, without reading further, that Kelisha Alvarez, 26, a street person originally from Willits, had struck again. "According to the UPD, officers responded to the emergency room around 1:30am June 28 when it was reported that Kelisha S. Alvarez, 26, was spitting and demanding medical care, though she is prohibited from being at the facility. At one point, Alvarez reportedly bit one of the nurses on the torso, and resisted officers when they tried to restrain her. She was placed under citizen’s arrest for battery on medical staff, and charged with resisting arrest and violating her probation. While being transported to Mendocino County Jail, she reportedly continued spitting, kicking and “yelling for the officer to die.” She was booked under $35,000 bail for three felony violations of her probation.”


THREE FELONY VIOLATIONS? Watch the felonies disappear. Watch the Superior Court of Mendocino County warn Kelisha to behave herself as it sends her back out onto the streets, the streets east of State Street, that is; street people, when they stray north of State Street into the sedate precincts of Ukiah's ruling circles on the Westside, aren't allowed to linger. They're acceptable as funding units for the large apparatus of helping professionals who live on the Westside, and the Kelishas of the county keep the County Courthouse humming, but, heh-heh, keep 'em far to the east, down around WalMart.

KELISHA will soon reappear on the streets after a few days in the County Jail and her usual pro forma court appearance. If she feels like it she will again appear in the emergency room of the Ukiah hospital where she's attacked staff at least twice before, and from where she is banned, not that the ban is enforceable.

SOON KELISHA will be arrested again. Our privatized mental health system runs from Kelisha (and all the other tough nuts (sic) out there). A very strong and mobile 300+ pounder, Kelisha is a load even for the younger cops who have to restrain her every three months. Still on the sunny side of 30, Kelisha's good for another quarter century of arrests, court appearances, disappearing felonies, psychotic episodes, and, of course homelessness — one more roving, unconfined, untreated menace to community welfare.

FROM WHAT I can gather, Kelisha, like her boyfriend Scotty Willis, is mildly mentally retarded. Given their behavior, both Kelisha and Scotty are also basically incompetent, although they don't seem to exacerbate their personality deficits via self-medication. They're unacceptably free-range. They are perfect candidates for the mandatory County Farm we don't have or are ever likely to have given the hog-in-the-stream presence of Mendocino County's entrenched, partially privatized, $15 million mental health apparatus.

ANOTHER ONE is Travis ‘The Hump’ Humphrey. From the Ukiah Police Log of a few days ago: “At about 3:45 PM Ukiah Police responded to the WalMart parking lot, at 1155 Airport Park Boulevard, for a vandalism to a vehicle. Officers learned 25 year old Travis Humphrey had been told by store employees to leave the area as Humphrey is known to cause many problems and has been arrested numerous times there. Humphrey was walking through the lot and jumped onto the hood of a security patrol vehicle while the security guard was seated in the vehicle, causing over $1,000 in damage to the vehicle’s hood. Humphrey was arrested for felony vandalism.”


IN A PREVIOUS episode, The Hump walked into a shoe store, urinated on the floor, then strolled out the door in a new pair of boots he hadn't paid for. He does this kind of stuff when he's drunk, and he's drunk all the time. Been caught and released many, many times.

WE'VE COME to a sad pass in this country when the mentally disabled are allowed, nay even encouraged, to live on the streets, menacing the vulnerable, destroying public space for everyone.


I'VE BEEN STUDYING this David Muir guy on ABC News. Frankly, I'm worried about his soul. Well, not really. Whatever soul he began with is long gone. How does a young guy become that fraudulent? Lessons from Charlie Rose or Scott Simon? In between over-excited recitations of the day's catastrophes, we get happy-happy ads that have ABC's entire Fun Gang jumping up and down and laughing at nothing at all. What's the point supposed to be for us millions out there watching all this fakery? How does a young person get so phony so fast? Yeah, they get paid a lot, but at what point does a self-respecting person say, “I don't care how much money you give me, I'm not doing this”?

I GO BACK A WAYS, back to “the most trusted man in America,” Walter Cronkite. And I have vague memories of Ed Murrow. Never trusted Walt myself, I should say, but he did read the news without that transparently bogus false feeling we get from today's department store mannequins. Murrow was even better. He just laid the day's catastrophes out there on the adult assumption that life, fundamentally, is a series of disasters, personal and public. And he did it chain smoking and loaded on gluten!

THESE DAYS, you watch these prime time vapidos like this Muir character on ABC, with all of their overly emphatic urgency over nothing at all, and all us old people sit there and wonder, "What the hell happened? Who are these people? Will their hair break if they drop it? What's the mawk-drenched portraits at the end of each telecast? Why do all the weather women have large breasts? Who writes all the silly stuff the vapidos read on camera? Are our fellow Americans so far removed from all known reality that David Muir is plausible?

MOST INTRIGUING LEDE of the week: “A San Rafael massage parlor found to have a milk carton in its refrigerator filled with over 100 used condoms has been fined $1,625 and is set to close its doors at the end of the month, said a city enforcement officer.” — San Rafael Independent Journal, July 4th.

ANOTHER STATISTIC, and more evidence that these are indeed The Last Days: San Francisco's homeless budget is $167 million. There are, according to The City's hard-hitting administrators, 6,355 people living on the streets of Baghdad By The Bay, which works out to $26,278 per street person. Hmmmm. Mean to say for that kind of money nothing can be done to, at a minimum, provide public urinals?

ELEVEN TIMES in the last year, fiber-optic lines have been deliberately snapped. Investigators are scrambling to figure out who’s behind the attacks. Someone (or some crew) has been skulking around northern California, possibly dressed as cable technicians, and snipping the fiber-optic lines that provide internet, cable, and phone service. Motives are unknown. But the FBI has counted 11 such incidents in the past year and is appealing for the public to help catch the cable-cutters. There have been cable-cuttings in Humboldt County and a weird shooting attack on a Fort Bragg transformer. The Fort Bragg shooter was described as a scraggly blonde man who rode off on a bicycle.

A RECENT UKIAH DAILY JOURNAL Q&A with Ukiah's $262k/year city manager Sage Sangiacomo was called “Sangiacomo explains his goals, priorities.” In it we learn that one of Sangiacomo's ideas for “promoting improvement of the downtown/School Street area” is: “…the city has worked diligently to ensure the state's development of a new courthouse is in the downtown with well-planned public infrastructure to support accessibility with neighboring commercial and business areas.”

FIRST OFF, the proposed County Courthouse is not in what most people consider Ukiah's downtown, and certainly not near School Street. The new Courthouse will be located near the foot of West Perkins, a long three blocks from the present County Courthouse across the tracks where essential court-related services, including the DA, will remain. It has also been pulled off completely outside any local processes.

SECOND, this thing is supposed to be a County Courthouse. The County has not been consulted, of course, and if it were put to a County vote the result would be a resounding NO to a new Courthouse because the old one is perfectly — well, ok, imperfectly serviceable. But for the money spent on a new structure housing only the County's nine judges, the present courthouse could be made really, really nice.

THIRD, one might ordinarily assume a city manager would work to strengthen what's left of Ukiah's blitzed downtown, not help administer its coup de grace.

FOURTH, You'd think that for $262k a year from Sangiacomo we'd at least get an honest assessment of the proposed new courthouse, which is NOT downtown and has no "public infrastructure to support accessibility with neighboring commercial and business areas." And there's nothing in the public record about anything remotely describable as "well-planned" in downtown Ukiah, much less a new courthouse several blocks away from the city center. Nor is there any mention of what will happen to the old courthouse, which is County property, not city property.

WHY THE UKIAH CITY COUNCIL is paying this guy so much money is, I suppose, a matter for Ukiah voters to mull over, but fiscal and planning imprudence could be had for a lot less.

OUR NINE JUDGES? More judges per capita than any county in the state? We need 9 of them as much as we need a new courthouse to house them.

WHERE'S LISA? Lisa Walters, long-time reporter for the ICO, Gualala. We've tried to discover Lisa's whereabouts and, if Lisa's whereabouts can be determined, her welfare. The newspaper said they weren't “at liberty” to tell me, although they know that Lisa and I have been friends for many years. We're appealing here, therefore, for Lisa to call us, or for someone out there in the fog belt who knows Lisa to let us know how she is doing.

A FRIEND OF MINE describes his Freedom Day adventure: "I was on my way to the Marin County Fair yesterday afternoon and I was pulled over in downtown San Anselmo for failing to come to a complete stop at two stop signs. The officer asked me if I'd had any alcohol and I told her I'd had two seven ounce beers in the previous two hours. She proceeded to give me a full DUI test, physical tests, etc., as well as ask me a slew of questions like was I on medication, under medical care, even if I went to college. The test included a breathalyzer. I passed. I was puzzled because two seven ounce beers is not nearly enough to make a 250 pound man impaired. So I was wondering what it was about me that was making the officer so suspicious of me being drunk. My only guess is that maybe she didn't believe me that I'd only had two seven ounce beers, or that because of the July 4th holiday she was on the lookout for drunk drivers."

YEAH, YEAH. Bernie Sanders doesn't have a chance to get the Democratic nomination, but he should be supported in the mean time. And it's a very mean time, politically speaking, given that Hillary and Bush are assumed to be locks as The Choice. The only question we have about ol' Bern is the same one lots of people have — will he go third party or will he be up there for the rigged convention's mega photo-op with the rest of the Unspeakables, all of them grinning for Hil.

WE'RE ASSUMING that Bernie will cave, that he'll stay with the Unspeakables, that he'll not only get behind Hillary, he'll stump for her on the hoary basis that she'll make better Supreme Court nominations than Bush will, although outside The Bubble where all our officeholders presently live, the country's deterioration will accelerate at the prospect of yet another choice between Awful and Unthinkable.

WE VOTED for the Green Party's Jill Stein last time around, and before her we twice voted for Nader. She's pretty much the same as Bernie on the issues — much better on Israel than Bernie, who's the usual blank check for the Israeli fascisti — and she won't be up on the big Demo stage grinning for Hillary because, as a Green, she's already outside the Democrat's sclerotic embrace. Stein will still be a great candidate for the millions of us presently beating the drums for Bernie Sanders when Bernie sells out.

THE HITS on Sanders have begun, with a snide piece in the July 4th edition of the NYT where Sanders is described as bringing an “unapologetic leftist message.” Anybody to the left of Clinton Democrats should apologize? The newspaper of record explores the youthful Sanders' political positions, all of which were shared by millions of young people at the time, few of whom were apologetic then or now.

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