- Mental Health Review
- J Not Gay
- Ticket Amnesty Program
- County Retirement Fund
- DA News
- Mushroom ID
- We're Screwed
- Darwin Awards
- Too Sweet?
- Catch of the Day
- Bloody Vines
- Memo of the Air
MENTAL HEALTH MERRY-GO-ROUND
by Mark Scaramella
Last Tuesday the Board of Supervisors heard a short presentation from consultant Lee Kemper about the mental health system audit CEO Carmel Angeo has hired him to do.
Angelo: “There has been interest and obvious concern regarding our ongoing mental health services, particularly the changes that have been made over the last couple of years. With that interest the executive office has moved to hire Kemper Consulting to do a review of the mental health system. We have made such a substantial change in our service delivery and we are two years into that change so it is a really is a good time to ask for expertise to come in and do a review and give us some recommendations on our system as a whole. … During the budget hearings in September we talked about mental health services and the actions of staff in the Department moving forward. We said then that we would be coming forward in January to ask the board to form an ad hoc committee to work with staff and the Department to review the contracts, essentially the statements of work for the administrative service organizations, with the possibility of moving the renewal date for those contracts up and doing another RFP process. We think it was premature on the part of staff go ahead and make that statement publicly. What we would like to do is do the review and have the review brought to the board and then staff will ask for direction from the board at that time.”
Lee Kemper (with consulting associate Lee Featherstone, former Alcohol & Other Drug Programs Director in Napa County): “We will conduct an organizational review of Mendocino County's mental health system and identify areas that are working well and areas where system improvements are needed. This is not a program or financial audit. We are not looking back to see if what happened in the past was right or wrong. We are looking at the system as it is and how it has come to be in today's realm. We will be looking at barriers and constraints to service delivery and oversight and policies. We expect to deliver the review at your last meeting in December. The review will involve looking at reports, data and participants in the system [whom Kemper referred to as "informants."] They expect to speak to staff, contractors, law enforcement, hospitals, etc. We want to see what services were billed for and paid, both before the contracting out and now.”
(Significantly, in his list of “informants” he intended to interview, Mr. Kemper did not include any mention of clients, patients or family members of clients or patients.)
Supervisor Dan Gjerde: “The broad areas of concern that members of the public have raised with me and which I share would be: Conflicts of interest, excess administrative expenses, and a lack of an ombudsman role — someone a parent or guardian could go to if things are not working for them, and who do they go to. An independent person. And the thing that seems to me to be a conflict of interest is at least with the Ortner contract, a doctor would see a patient and potentially make a decision to send a patient to an out-of-County facility, a long-term care facility and the Ortner company has financial ties with that long-term facility. It seems there should be a firewall there between the doctor that's making the recommendation of sending someone to a long-term facility and the financial relationship with that long-term care facility. That seems like a conflict. I think in most areas of government you would not have that kind of a conflict in existence, but it seems to me that it does exist. Examples of excess administration which I brought up previously, are the Ortner contract has an excess of 18% for admin expenses [for adult mental health services] which is more than double the expense charged by RCMS [for services to people under 25 years of age]. That seems excessive. When we voted with a leap of faith to go with contracting out we were told as board members by county staff that there would be 13 county employees still in mental health after contracting out. Over a year later I learned that there are still 43 positions. The only explanation I have been given was that there were 10 county employees working in the KD-8 program [?] which the County did not envision keeping in-house. But that only explains an increase from 13 to 23. What are those other 20 people doing? Why was the estimate so far off the mark? Why was it a week before we were voting on it we were going to have 13 county employees and now we have 43 authorized positions? [And why is Supervisor Gjerde only bringing these questions up now for the consultant? Why didn’t he simply ask staff these questions months ago? Could it be he doesn’t trust them for an honest answer?] I'm not saying they are all filled, but 43 authorized positions. Something seems amiss there. I have heard reports of parents with an adult child who are not satisfied with the service they are getting. I'm not saying who's right or who's wrong. There's a lot of stress involved in a family situation. But who does a parent go to if they can't get the service they think they need for their adult child? Right now they go to one of the contractors, but if they are not satisfied with what they are being told or the assistance they are getting, maybe there needs to be a little less money spent on administration and one or two positions countywide established that are independent of the contractors and employed directly by the county.”
Mr. Kemper agreed that "those matters" would be investigated.
Supervisor Tom Woodhouse: "My thoughts are not very organized today. Mental health has been keeping me awake worrying at night so I am taking it more and more seriously. I've reached the point of becoming angry about it and that's never helpful, that's not my nature, so I'm sure I can deal with that. There is a lot of hope out there that what you are doing will make a big difference. We have been building up to this and allowing poor behavior for a number of years now. It's time to make a change. I can't stress enough to you how much I request that you spend whatever time you can speaking to the employees. That's really the only place where I have gotten my knowledge. [Knowledge Supervisor Woodhouse has yet to mention in public so far.] We are very fortunate to have so many quality employees that are courageously working in very uncomfortable positions. They are afraid to speak out. If we can just solve that one problem we would have a rich source of information. We have the makings of a great mental health group but we are not applying it correctly. At this point a lot of money is being wasted and we are in denial that a lot of what we are doing now is incurring bills that we will be paying three or four or five years from now. It's alarming to hear the stories from the people and very emotional. I'm looking forward to getting your report. People are holding their breath and hoping that this is a change we've all been looking for. This is a rare time for Mendocino County to make a crack in this problem and if the board stands up with the community we can make a tremendous difference. I know we can do much better. It's not out of our reach."
Supervisor Dan Hamburg: “I'm glad you're here. It's a great time to be doing this. It's time to take a good hard look. There's a lot of interest, a lot of money. We could spend a lot more. We spend about $20 million. I'm very concerned about how the money is distributed between the two ASOs. Perhaps OMG is taking too big a bite out of the administrative cost apple and it's costing our other services. I do think though, and this may be contrary to what my two colleagues have just said, that all things considered we are delivering more and better and more cost-effective mental-health services today than we were before we went to the ASOs. Having watched this evolve for the last two years I would not favor the board jumping from one extreme to another extreme. I would not like to take the mental health services and all that it implies back under a County system. I think that would be a real mistake. I don't think there are unlimited choices out there where you go to contract with an administrative service organization. I think OMG has a lot to offer. I'm not sure about the conflict of interest that my colleague spoke to. I'm not sure that situation is a conflict of interest. But it's definitely out there in the community. Mental health service delivery is a very emotional subject. Not only is there a lot of money involved but there is a lot of pain, a lot of family distress so there are a lot of— scores if not hundreds of stories that circulate out there, many of which end up in the press. So it's a very controversial area and a very emotion laden area. It will be very helpful to have a somewhat dispassionate look at where we are with mental health services two years into these contracts and still looking at the part that the county has retained under its own control.”
Supervisor John McCowen: "I agree that it's appropriate to have an objective look at where we really are. Do we have the appropriate systems in place? Do we have a way to measure whether they are operating appropriately? Mental health has been a controversial issue for the last 30 years in Mendocino County that I'm aware of. There has never been a time when significant numbers of people have not had serious questions about the ability of the mental health system to deliver the service to the people who need it. Nothing has changed there. What is ironic is once the county took a fairly dramatic step in an effort to, we hope, improve the system it seems to really unleash the floodgates of criticism. No matter what we do and I agree with my colleague that although many people have questions and certainly in some areas we are delivering more service and better service today than we did previously. For whatever reason when the county was in the mental-health services delivery business — and I think we've always had a lot of dedicated conscientious people working for us — but now there seems to be a disconnect in actually getting the system to deliver services to the people who need it and the county getting appropriately reimbursed for the work that it was doing. I am also concerned that we have not really solved that issue. We recently had notice of significant audit exceptions from previous years prior to the contracting out. I'm concerned that a year or two from now we will get the next round of exceptions including for the time we have been contracting out. One of the main focuses should be to assess how well the county is doing its job of holding our contractors accountable. I know there are people who are ready to end the contracts and go out for new RFP. I don't think we're anywhere near close to having the necessary information to know if that's a wise decision or not. Part of the challenge is to make sure the county is doing what it needs to do to hold our contractors accountable. It would be inappropriate to make an announcement that we are going out for a new RFP or end the contracts. Those decisions will be made by this board. No decision has been made to terminate any contracts or issue an RFP. If that happens it will happen in the future based on information we get and recommendations made and board deliberation and a public meeting. We also may appoint an ad hoc committee to do further review and make recommendations to the board.”
Curiously, Supervisor Brown was silent on the entire obvioiusly important subject. Then she opened up the meeting for public comment.
There was no public comment. Nada.
McCowen: “I guess it's not as controversial as I thought!”
* * *
Ms. Angelo and the Board then announced that Health and Human Services Director Stacey Cryer would be the new "interim" mental health director. Former Director Tom Pinizzotto was mysteriously "promoted" to "Assistant Mental Health Director" without explanation. Supervisor Hamburg read a written note from Mental Health Advisory Board chair John Wetzler citing government code (Welfare and Institutions Code 5604.2(6): “Each County’s Mental Health Advisory Board shall… Review and make recommendations on applicants for the appointment of a local director of mental health services. The board shall be included in the selection process prior to the vote of the governing body.” So the law requires the County to consult with the Advisory Board before such appointments are made.
Hamburg then commented, "It is not the intent of the Board of Supervisors to marginalize the mental health board in making these decisions. This is not an appointment that is being made for a permanent position. [The Government Code does not distinguish between permanent or non-permanent appointments.] As the CEO made clear, this is an interim position. We have to have someone in that position just to meet our legal obligations. Mr. Pinizzotto has taken a different position within the agency and Ms. Cryer who as everyone knows already wears many many hats is for a short period of time being asked to wear one additional hat and that is as the interim mental health director. So that is where this item comes from."
“Mr. Pinizzotto has taken a different position.” What? He gets to pick and choose the “positions” he “takes.”
Mental Health Board member Nancy Sutherland remarked: "There is a concern that this was done without any — we didn't know about it until we read about it on the agenda. We think as members of the mental health board we are concerned about who the director is. We serve at the pleasure of the board but we also serve the department. So there was some concern about that. What is Stacey's capacity to handle this position? What are her qualifications? You used the word ‘temporary’ which — and I am happy to see that the job was posted because it was just posted yesterday — so another question was how long was this appointment going to last — the mental health board wants some information about that. We want to know about the chain of command and the responsibility. Who is staff reporting to? Is it to Stacey? Is it to Tom? What is the recruitment plan? We are just concerned about the continuity of leadership in the department as a whole. That's our biggest concern. There's been a lot of turnover in directors in the last five or six years. As a board we would like to be advised about changes like this in advance. We didn't know Tom was going to leave. We didn't know he was going to come in. It's a request from the mental health advisory board that we be consulted according to the Government code which says we are supposed to be part of the process."
Nobody answered Ms. Sutherland’s question about who reports to who.
Gjerde: "How will the permanent position be filled? Will the mental health board be involved in some fashion in the selection process?"
Angelo: "The mental health board will be involved. I am leaving that up to Ms. Cryer and the Department. In the past the mental health board was involved. Honestly, I have had to ask Ms. Cryer to take this position. I don't think anybody is jumping up and down wanting this position right now. It's a difficult position. Everybody in this room knows that. I have the utmost confidence in Ms. Cryer even with her busy schedule. She is taking it. There is no increase in salary or benefits. We hope to do the recruitment process not only involving the mental health board but whoever else Ms. Cryer has on the interview panel. Usually for a position like this we do bring in community people as well. I would like to hire a headhunter to find a person to come in to Mendocino County for this position. That's the plan right now. I believe Ms. Cryer will be sharing that information as we move forward. The recruitment is out. It went out this morning. We certainly could give the board an update on November 3rd as to how many candidates we have for the position, and what is happening with the headhunter for this position.
Woodhouse: "I think I baffle Ms. Cryer because I am so supportive of her and yet I am very critical of the programs in mental health. I think she's doing her very best to continue and will continue to do that. I have been talking to other counties about mental health and gathering information and there are at least six other mental health directors that are in the process of being hired this year just replacing retirees. It's very hard to find a mental health director. We will be competing with a lot of other placements. I wish everybody good luck on that."
McCowen: "I think it would go a long way toward building confidence in the general community as well as with the mental health board if the mental health board itself were given an opportunity to directly interview the applicants rather than simply having the Chair be on an interview panel. I think we could have an interview panel as a separate item. We could have a separate interview before the mental health board because how else are they to review and make recommendations on the applicants according to the Government code? There could be no question then that they are being included in the process. I would like staff to review the possibility of taking that approach. It's been a challenge sometimes for people serving on the mental health board — and maybe all of our advisory boards at times — to feel like they are really being included in the process and being given the full opportunity to fulfill their role. I would like to underline this point. I think it would serve us well. If the mental health director does not have the confidence of a strong majority of the mental health board that would indicate a problem right from the beginning. This is an opportunity to build that relationship from the ground floor.”
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NOTE TO MR. KEMPER:
Why, Hello! We couldn't help but notice that you're NOT a double dipping gray-haired retiree with no interest in career advancement. Did you know you’re auditioning for a high paid position with Mendocino County? I'm sure you did. How long do you think you'll stick around? Maybe no one told you that Tom Pinizzotto was a consultant before he was quietly hired as Mental Health Director a couple of years ago, just about the time his former employer, Ortner Management Group, got the contract that you'll be "reviewing." Let's hope that after you (or you're consulting associate Mr. Featherstone from Napa County) punch your career ticket by taking a director job in Mendo, that you'll stick around at least long enough to make sure all the ruffled feathers are smoothed and the current uproar dies down. Then (maybe; see below) you can go back to Sacramento (or Napa County in Mr. Featherstone's case) with the satisfaction of a job well done. By then enough time will have passed for Mr. P. to re-assume his “oversight” responsibilities for his former bosses at Ortner Managment Group, and you and/or Mr. Featherstone can go away confident (and nicely paid) that the Ortner Management Group is doing a great job (according to Dan Hamburg) and Mendocino County mental health business will go on as usual, i.e., privatized mental health services undelivered, Ortner pulling maximum profits out of an essential public government service.
PS. To CEO Angelo: You really have to orchestrate these moves a little more carefully and discretely. The timing’s a bit off. If you’d staged the Kemper “audit” a little sooner, Mr. Kemper could have moved right in behind Mr. Pinizzotto to implement his deck chair rearrangements on the good ship Mendo himself and poor overburdened Ms. Cryer wouldn’t have had to bother with Mental Health and Ortner for a few months. Now, the Board will have to waste their time rubberstamping Kemper's bureaucratic proposals in some time-consuming ad hoc committee, instead of issuing proclamations about how great everybody is. And Supervisor Gjerde might even gripe about the proposals not going far enough. This way, however, a few of us rubes will see what you’re up to and Supervisor Hamburg will be unhappy that it “ended up in the press.” Then the Mental Health Board might even notice, and worse, they might even remind the board about some other pesky government code they’re casually violating. Remember, Tom P. didn’t have to actually prepare a report for the Board about Mental Health before he took over; he just slid right in with Ortner on his coattails, smoothly moving from Ortner Exec to consultant to Mental Health Director — no annoying Mental Health Board interviews or anything. Good job postponing the RFP indefinitely though.
J NOT GAY
I read with great interest Bruce McEwen’s 10/21/15 front page article “Bedlam on Low Gap” regarding the training program at the jail for defendants found not competent to stand trial due to a mental disorder. Since I created and continue to be involved with this little program under contract with Mental Health (not OMG) I would like to comment.
The article provided some useful information, although some of it inaccurate, including the fact that my first name is not “Gay”. Close, but no cigar.
The article focuses on Judge Moorman’s understandable dissatisfaction with problems of delays between court orders for competency training and the subsequent authorization for the training to begin. However, it’s important to note that once our program itself receives Mental Health’s authorization to begin services, it is tremendously effective and efficient.
Even with some delays, in its first year this innovative program saved taxpayers an estimated $800,000 and saved mentally ill defendants over 2200 days of locked confinement in jail and state hospitals. The average wait time for training services was reduced from months to days, with a much higher rate of successful outcomes than under the previous system at state hospitals. The reduction in human suffering has beenincalculable.
Also, I’m not sure where Mr. McEwen got his figures, but the actual cost of our program is a small fraction of the amount incorrectly reported in the article.
The referral delay problems that Judge Moorman is addressing with Mental Health are being remedied, as was the translator delay problem in Mr. Mora’s case. In the meantime, the training program we contract to do will continue to provide low-cost highly effective competency training services to mentally ill defendants willing and able to participate in the program.
These positive facts may do little to “fan the flames of discontent” which the AVA declares as its mission on its masthead. Nevertheless, I would hope the public may be pleased to know the facts and figures of this important program.
J. (not “Gay”) Holden, PhD Ukiah
FOURTH DISTRICT SUPERVISOR DAN GJERDE with some good news:
“In a rural county like ours, where people often need to drive some distance to work sites, California's new traffic court amnesty program could do more than erase old tickets and court fees, it could also allow people to earn more income. Since the program's launch on October 1, already 36 Mendocino County residents have seen $64,000 in fees waived, and 14 of them now have their licenses restored, reports the Daily Journal. If someone you know should see if they are eligible, they can look at this website, then call: 234-6849
WHAT'S UP WITH THE COUNTY RETIREMENT FUND?
by Retirement Board member Ted Stephens
To my Farm Bureau friends:
I am forwarding you this email from the chair of the MCERA board, Shari Schapmire [also Mendocino County Treasurer-Tax Collector], as it is indicative of the MCERA culture and the complete lack of accountability. This may be business as usual for a county position, but I could never imagine it in the private sector.
* * *
Good Morning Ted,
I checked in at the Retirement Office this morning, James is out of the office, so I spoke with Judy; apparently, James left Wednesday afternoon to head home and will not return until November 2. According to Judy, this was already scheduled prior to the Retirement Board meeting being canceled. As James typically works on the weekends, he amasses a substantial amount of CTO [compensatory time off], which is the time he uses to travel home. Although, I am usually informed when James travels home, I was unaware of this trip; however, he did leave me a telephone message mid-week that I had neglected to return.
As far as the closed session Brown Act item, I think it may be best for you, me, James, Jeff, and maybe Randy (as he will more than likely be incoming-Chair), to discuss this item in a conference call or in-person meeting prior to it coming to the full Board. I will work with James and Judy to get something scheduled.
Have a nice weekend! Shari
Shari L. Schapmire
County of Mendocino
* * *
James Wilbanks is our new retirement administrator. He has a doctorate in economics and was fired from the Oklahoma Teachers Retirement system; he has been here for about six months or so. As you will see below he adapted to MCERA's non-accountability MO quite readily. Initially his family was going to move out here, but now they have decided to stay in Oklahoma. Our scheduled monthly board meeting, which would have been last Wednesday, was cancelled. I found out about this the Friday before when asking the staff secretary how long the meeting would probably be so I could set-up a client meeting afterwords. She (Judy, office secretary) came back with a memo letting me, and the rest of the board, know the scheduled board meeting was cancelled. Again, this was the Friday before the scheduled board meeting on Wednesday. These meetings are on calendar a year in advance and it is unprecedented to cancel a meeting. When I inquired to the chair (Shari) as to why, she said it was because the administrator, James Wilbanks, said there were too few items to discuss for the meeting. I will assure you that I have about 20 items that could and should be discussed (and have tried, to no avail, to get "excess earnings" policy alone on the agenda for five years!).
When I heard the meeting was cancelled I inquired to the chair if the administrator was in the office or if he had flown the coop. It took me a few times to get the answer, but you can see it in the email. The upshot is the Administrator cancelled the meeting "for lack of discussion items" then left the day of the meeting for Oklahoma until November 2. This does not surprise me, that is why I asked Shari the question. I now expect this sort of thing. What is surprising is what a short time it took this administrator to totally adapt to the ingrained culture of no accountability. As unprecedented as it is to abruptly cancel a scheduled board meeting, I believe it is unprecedented, at least in the private sector, to leave your position coincidentally the same day without letting those you report to know the "rest of the story." I am not sure if the association is more or less at risk when he is gone. I do know the department head is gone and no one above him knew about it.
As you know I have been on this board about five years now. Under my tenure we have experienced a remarkable market recovery. During this time our stability has not gotten better, it has gotten worse. It seems like every meeting I vote against another $50K to $100K of un-budgeted spending that the public will not directly see, it will just add to the ever increasing unfunded liability (there are always a majority of those that vote for any and all spending; why wouldn't they, this is by design a true "moral hazard" and it is just human nature coming through). The board is long on using formal titles as "madam chair" and talking the “full disclosure” talk, but they have no idea how messed up the finances are and vote to not disclose in closed sessions when it is walking time. Look no further than the county payment of about 50 cents load per payroll dollar on the pension alone (not including the additional expense of social security, the deferred compensation match, etc.) to see how out of whack with the real world this system is. This system is a total disaster. About all I can say is expect the expense to continue to go up over time and don't be surprised if benefits are at risk.
My best from this side of the hills!
Ted Stephens (Yorkville resident)
Santa Rosa, CA 95404 (Office location)
DISTRICT ATTORNEY NEWS
Ukiah, Friday, Oct. 23. — Felony Sentencing. An emotional sentencing hearing -- with two of four victims injured by a drunk driver directly addressing the Court and the defendant openly apologizing to them for his crime -- was held this morning in Judge Ann Moorman's courtroom.
When all was said and done, Eric James Rider, age 46, of San Carlos, was sentenced to a suspended 13-year state prison sentence, and ordered to serve 365 days in the county jail as part of his 60-month term of supervised probation. Before Rider was handcuffed and taken away, he was warned that he will be walking a very thin line for the next five years - any violation of probation found to be true will result in the suspended prison commitment being imposed.
As background, in May 2015, Rider was drinking in Cloverdale when he made a fateful decision to go for a drive (without insurance) on Highway 128.
Driving too fast to maintain control, he slammed into a car with four people aboard. District Attorney David Eyster noted during his sentencing argument that the defendant's blood alcohol at the time of the crash was 0.17.
The most serious of those injured was a young college-aged woman in the backseat, who was airlifted from the crash scene to a trauma center. She required multiple surgeries and is still working on recovery.
Her mother, also injured, explained that the family’s medical bills and other expenses have exceeded $500,000, and continue to mount.
DA Eyster argued for immediate state prison to send an important message to those who would continue to drink and drive, a request seconded by the mother and daughter. Judge Moorman, however, noted that the defendant's prior record was just one theft offense almost 20 years ago and that she wanted to give Rider an opportunity to live up to his promise to make the family financially whole.
Most importantly, all parties, the victims, and the Court accepted as genuine the remorse expressed by Rider during his apology statement."
* * *
Ukiah, Friday, Oct. 23. -- Felony Sentencing. A defendant who now stands convicted of felony child endangerment was sentenced to state prison this afternoon in Judge John Behnke's courtroom. David Charles Peters, age 35, formerly of Covelo, was sentenced to 56 months in state prison for felony child endangerment, willfully failing to appear in court, a felony, and driving under the influence of alcohol with two prior convictions within 10 years, a misdemeanor.
As background, on July 21, 2015, while felony warrants were outstanding for his arrest on a domestic violence case, Peters was seen driving 93 mph in a 55 mph zone in Covelo. As the CHP officer gave chase, a child was observed standing in the backseat of the defendant's vehicle watching the pursuing CHP vehicle. Once stopped, it was determined that Peters' driver’s license was suspended for prior DUI convictions, that he had been ordered to abstain from alcohol by a Sonoma County judge, and that the child standing in the backseat was Peters' three-and-a-half year old daughter. A breath test was obtained and Peters blew a 0.20.
In 2013 Peters was stopped by CHP in Sonoma County for driving 90 mph on Highway 101 at 3 o'clock in the morning. A breath test was obtained back then and he blew a 0.18. The previously mentioned daughter was also present at that stop; she was discovered sleeping in the back seat of the defendant's vehicle. In that 2013 case, the Sonoma County DA exercised her discretion to only pursue a misdemeanor child endangerment charge.
Agreeing with the old saw that "enough is enough," the Mendocino County DA upped the ante and charged and convicted Peters of child endangerment as a felony. At Friday’s sentencing hearing, Deputy DA Beth Norman argued that Peter's record (19 misdemeanor convictions and 1 prior prison commitment), along with the fact that he continued to place his daughter at risk, mandated that prison be imposed to protect the daughter and the community. The defendant, through his attorney, requested probation and another shot at an alcohol treatment program. Judge Behnke, noting the extreme danger in which the defendant has repeatedly placed his daughter, as well as the continued danger posed to the community, denied the defendant's application for probation and imposed the state prison commitment. Under the Realignment laws, the defendant will now serve 28 of the 56 months imposed.
* * *
Ukiah, Thurs., Oct. 22. -- Jury Trial Result: A Superior Court jury returned from its deliberations Wednesday with a guilty verdict against Shannon Louis Barden, age 34, of Willits. Barden was convicted by jury of resisting an executive officer by means of force, a felony. Prior to this week's trial, Barden had also admitted being under the influence of methamphetamine and driving on a suspended license, both misdemeanors. The admissions were strategically entered by the defendant so that a jury would not have to decide the two misdemeanors. Nevertheless, it took this week's jury just 30 minutes to decide that Barden was guilty of the felony charge. It should also be noted that this was a retrial. Another jury in July had been unable to reach a unanimous decision, splitting evenly 6 to 6.
The investigating law enforcement agency was the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office. The prosecutor who presented the People's evidence to the jury was Deputy District Attorney Beth Norman. The judge who presided over the three day trial was the Hon. Ann Moorman.
* * *
Ukiah, Thurs., Oct. 22. -- Jury Trial Result: A Superior Court jury returned from its deliberations Tuesday to acquit John Wayne Zerangue, age 44, of Ukiah. Zerangue had been accused of stabbing a homeless man for having moved his bike. Given the testimony, the jury was obviously concerned with the credibility of the homeless victim, who denied or minimized aspects of the evidence, though he did identify Zerangue in court as the man who stabbed him. That said, a judge, having heard the same evidence at an earlier hearing, had already determined that Zerangue had violated terms of probation by failing to obey all laws. Sentencing on that probation violation is trailing yet another misdemeanor case still pending against Zerangue. Zerangue is also being sought by Placer County for violations of his felony probation over in that county.
As background, Zerangue was serving a prison term in 2014 for multiple theft-related offenses, all felonies, when Proposition 47 passed. Because of Prop 47, Zerangue was released from prison and his felonies were all reduced to misdemeanors.
The investigating law enforcement agency in the most recent trial case was Ukiah Police Department. The prosecutor who presented the People's evidence to the jury was Deputy District Attorney Josh Rosenfeld. The judge who presided over the two day trial was the Hon. Richard Henderson.
Mushroom ID for Beginners - Events - MCBG Inc. 2015
Fort Bragg, California
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Bernie Sanders would be my candidate of choice, but there’s no way he can get the delegates. Hillary is too much establishment to effect any real change. If Trump somehow gets elected (highly doubtful, but George W. Bush stole two elections, so all bets are off) there will be a reversal of border crashings, as Americans attempt to flee to our neighbors north and south.
There is plenty of criticism to go around as to the slate of Presidential candidates from both parties, but really, does it matter, given the current political system? Congress is in perpetual deadlock, and politicians are beholden to their corporate masters. All manmade systems on this planet, from political, social to environmental, are pretty much broken, and I don’t see anyone riding in on their white horse to save us from ourselves. Basically, we’re screwed.
DARWIN AWARDS 2015
One. Pool Party, 2014. Darwin Award Nominee. Confirmed True by Darwin
(17 July 2014, Poland) In the small town of Karczówka (160 residents) tragedy struck as seven people accidentally drowned in a cesspool, one after another. The first death was that of a driver whose job was to empty the septic tank into a slurry tank attached to a tractor; he succumbed to highly toxic hydrogen sulfide fumes and lost consciousness, falling into the pool. Following him were six people, each going to the rescue of those who had gone before, and each in turn falling unconscious into the muck and drowning. Fully 5% of the population of Karczówka was lost in this serial misadventure. An eighth person found in the muck did survive, thanks to the assistance of emergency workers. The incident occurred on a hog farm and probably involved large amounts sewage from the pigs, although details are not clear in news reports.
Gather ye rosebuds while you may,
Old Time is still a-flying,
And this same flower that smiles today,
Tomorrow will be dying.
— Robert Herrick
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Two. Selfie With Elephant. 2014 Darwin Award Nominee. Confirmed True by Darwin
(24 April 2014, Kenya) Double Darwin Award: Two men in Kenya were capturing selfies with a wild elephant when they were trampled to death by the irate pachyderm who proceeded to bury the corpses with brush. The two men were actually touching the elephant's face while taking the photos. Charles Darwin cautions, “When taking sensational selfies, remember the Photoshop option.” The men were Leornad Tonui and Michael Shikuku,
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Three. La Petite Mort. 2014 Darwin Award Nominee
Double Darwin Award (twofer!) for Natural Birth Control as Practiced on a Balcony Railing.
(10 June 2014, London, England) Humans who aspire to high levels of desire may join the "mile-high club" yet our dreams of sex in high places also have couples eyeing more accessible heights such as rooftops and romantic balconies. Balcony balls are a common sight for neighbors across from Knights Tower, an apartment high-rise on the bank of the Thames River in South London. The city lights sparkling on the surface of the waters are irresistible to lovers, and neighbors have seen people on the balcony doing all sorts of things. On a warm Tuesday night in the summertime, a hot couple was observed kissing and frolicking as they engaged in sex on a sixth-floor balcony. Some neighbors closed their drapes while others enjoyed the entertainment, each according to his inclination. It was the usual reality programming for the neighborhood. A party was going on inside the flat. When people came out onto the balcony the couple would stop their game, only to resume playing the moment they were alone on the balcony. "The last thing I expected was to see them falling down five floors," said one observer, but "the guy was lifting the girl and putting her on the bannister, he kept on doing it, they were going back and forth," and suddenly the amorous hotties were balls up and over the railing. Natural birth control — the couple did not survive the fall.
JOHN LENNON LYRICS - Imagine
From: "Susie de Castro" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Ed reply: Yes.
CATCH OF THE DAY, October 24, 2015
KEVIN DAHLUND, Ukiah. Vehicle theft, parole violation.
RICHARD EDWARDS, Ukiah. Paraphernalia, resisting, probation revocation.
TAMMY HENDERSON, Boonville. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
ANDREW HOLM, Ukiah. Domestic assault, probation revocation.
ALEJANDRO JARA, Fort Bragg. Possession of meth for sale, possession of hashish.
JASON JOHNSON, Ukiah. Parole violation.
NICHOLAS LANZIT, Ukiah. Domestic assault, probation revocation.
LUKE PARKER, Elk. DUI.
MICHAEL PEARSON, Ukiah. DUI.
EDGAR PEREZ-APPLEYARD, Talmage. DUI.
JEREMY ROSECRANS, Leggett. DUI.
FRANCIS SEYMOUR, Willits. Sale of meth, possession of meth for sale and controlled substance, and paraphernalia and honey oil.
FROM SERRA TO SYRAH: THE BLOODY ROOTS OF CALIFORNIA'S VINEYARDS
by Frances Dinkelspiel
When Pope Francis made Father Junipero Serra a saint at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. on September 23, it cast light on the brutal history and treatment of Native Americans during the Mission period.
But Californians shouldn’t sit back smugly and think that violence against Indians was just a problem of the Franciscans. Serra, a citizen of Spain, may have started the trend of forcing Indians to work against their will, but the Mexicans and Americans who assumed control over California at different points in the 19th Century were worse in many ways.
I have been working in recent years on a book about California wine. The most disturbing part of my research has been the realization that Native Americans paid the highest personal price for the development of the wine business. California wine may now earn international accolades and generate $24.6 billion a year, but the industry was founded on a philosophy of greed and violence.
It was Junipero Serra who brought the first wine grapes to California. Native grapes weren’t suitable for making wine and the delivery of barrels of sacramental wine from Baja to Alta California was slow and erratic. Serra asked the viceroy of Mexico in 1777 to ship grapevine cuttings, which arrived the next year. Neophytes, the Indians who had converted to Christianity, carefully carried the cuttings from the ship, San Antonio, and planted them at Mission San Juan Capistrano in what today is Orange County. Many historians believe the first harvest was in 1782.
As California’s first vintner, however, Serra also began a tradition in which the delicious and subtle flavors of California grapes were mixed — metaphorically but sometimes literally — with blood, sweat, and tears.
Nineteenth Century travelogues and newspaper articles are filled with descriptions of Indians stomping grapes, clad only in loincloths, the sweat from their labor trickling into the fresh juice. Winemaking was primitive, so the natives crushed grapes in cowhides suspended from four poles stuck in the ground.
The Indians performed virtually all the work to make wine, from planting vines, harvesting them, and overseeing the fermentation. Yet mission rules governing their lives were so onerous Native Americans weren’t even allowed to wander the vineyards they tended without supervision. They were also forbidden to leave the missions, marry without permission, were segregated into often-squalid same-sex barracks, denied the right to raise their children and were forced to answer to a system of bells that told them when to rise, eat, pray, work, and rest. They were whipped for transgressions small and large, from stealing to wearing a dirty blanket into church.
“They are kept in great fear, and for the least offense they are corrected,” one visitor to the San Gabriel Mission noted in 1826. “They are … complete slaves in every sense of the word.”
This is the reason so many Californian Native Americans protested making Father Junipero Serra a saint. They see him as the mastermind of a system that decimated a civilization that was thousands of years old.
But prejudice and violence against Native Americans, particularly in the fields and vineyards, continued and even intensified long after mission system was dismantled by Mexico in 1833.
As bad as the missions were, they provided a closed system that housed, fed, and cared for the natives. When the missions were broken up, the Indians were left to fend for themselves. The new elites of the state, the dons who had acquired enormous ranchos from the Mexico government, were eager to exploit their labor. The natives found themselves in a system remarkably like that of the missions, but with fewer protections. They were paid pennies a day, often in scrip or in high-alcohol aguardiente. One visitor to Rancho Cucamonga in San Bernardino County remarked in 1846 that the Native Americans living there “were evidently very poor, and lived in rude log huts … and who, in their scanty clothing, appeared the picture of misery. They stand much in the position of serfs.”
John Sutter, who owned the 48,000-acre rancho where gold was discovered in 1848, was so brutal to his Indian employees that the historian Richard Steven Street dubbed his enterprise a “feudal barony.” Sutter forced the members of the Miwok and Nisean tribes he employed to live in barracks without bedding or toilets. He locked them in at night. The unsanitary conditions bred disease and death. When natives attempted to run away, Sutter chased them and jailed them. In the summer of 1845, he even executed a rebellious worker, according to Street, and stuck his severed head over the fort gateway, leaving it to rot in the sun and serve as a warning to others.
Americans took the indenture of Native Americans a step further. They legalized it. The first law passed by the fledging California Legislature on April 19, 1850 was nicknamed the “Indian Indenture Act.” It stripped Native Americans of most of their rights and permitted vineyardists and farmers to force Native Americans to work against their will. All the would-be employers had to do was identify an Indian as a vagrant or drunk, and the sheriff would arrest him and then put him to work for as long as four months to the highest bidder. If the worker was mistreated, he couldn’t do anything, because the law prohibited Native Americans from testifying against whites in court.
Los Angeles adopted its own, stricter version of this law on Aug. 16, 1850. It was common to see the sheriff rounding up inebriated Indians on a Sunday night, sequestering them in a horse corral until morning and then auctioning off their services for $3 a week.
“Los Angeles has a slave mart as well as New Orleans and Constantinople — only the slave at Los Angeles was sold fifty-two times a year as long as he lived, which generally did not exceed one, two, or three years under the new dispensation,” Horace Bell, a lawyer, newspaper publisher and Los Angeles Ranger wrote about Los Angeles in the 1850s. “Those thousands of honest useful people were absolutely destroyed in this way.”
All this free labor helped transform Los Angeles and southern California into the center of winemaking in California. By 1859, the land along the Los Angeles River was so verdant that the city was known as the “City of Vines.” Winemaking moved north to Napa and Sonoma counties after Pierce’s Disease, a malady spread by insects, decimated most of the vineyards around Los Angeles and Anaheim.
The American laws allowed a culture of kidnapping to thrive, too. Thousands of young Native American children were forcibly taken from their parents and sold to work. Children as young as three commanded three dollars, while older, experienced boys were sold for $80 or more. Female virgins were the most desired and could fetch $200, according to Street. Officials did little to intervene.
The brutalization of Native Americans in the fields of California eventually faded away, in large part because the native population died off. The number of Indians in California dropped precipitously, with some historians believing that there were only 30,000 in 1870, down from about 100,000 in 1850. They were killed by disease — smallpox was particularly brutal — and many succumbed to alcohol abuse.
Some Californians eventually regretted the mistreatment of Native Americans. Four months after Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, on April 27, 1862, the California Legislature repealed the Indian Indenture Act. It was a case of too little, too late. Many farmers ignored the repeal, and kidnappings and exploitation continued. By the late 1860s, the era of the Native American worker gave way to the era of the Chinese worker, a trend that accelerated after the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869 left thousands of Chinese unemployed.
The canonization of Junipero Serra has opened up a much-needed dialogue about the treatment of Native Americans under Spanish rule. It should also force modern-day Californians to examine how brutal treatment of natives formed the underpinnings of today’s vibrant agricultural economy, particularly that of wine. A glass of California Cabernet should never taste the same again.
Frances Dinkelspiel is the author of Tangled Vines: Greed, Murder, Obsession and an Arsonist in the Vineyards of California(St. Martin's Press, 2015).
HARD OUT HERE FOR A PIMP
"I explained 'gluten allergy' to my grandma and she sighed and told me they ate leather belts during WWII to keep from starving." — Paige
At http://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com you'll find the recording of last night’s (Friday 2015-10-23) KNYO Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show ready to download and keep or just play with one click.
This is my 917th weekly Memo of the Air show, all told, my 148th for KNYO Fort Bragg, and just my second for KMEC Ukiah and Redwood Valley. The show starts at 9pm as usual on KNYO, then at midnight KMEC grabs it in progress and it’s on both stations from then till 3am, and then KMEC lets go and anything after that is only on KNYO again. And then, next week, and the week after that, and so on.
I read several stories from the electronic version of the Anderson Valley Advertiser ($25 a year, worth every penny), including the one by Flynn Washburne about his employment and incarceration history. Two fine poems by Mark Winkler of Ukiah. You’re given — given — an opportunity to acquire for yourself a goodly share of AzizOmar97’s temporarily inaccessible “$48.9MillionUSD and 280 Bars of Gold.”
John Sakowicz remembers guitar legend Michael Hedges.
Alex Balk advises on how to manage anxiety (by imagining yourself dead and not having to deal with whatever the problem is) (but more than just that).
Potemkin-village-style cotton-gluing time in Uzbekistan (and locally, metaphorically, also cotton-gluing time at KZYX).
The religious-nonsense-free world KA would like to live in.
Oswaldo Aquilar’s picks for the biggest lies of still-taught history.
A defective-flag recall.
And– ah-ha: just glancing through the show file I grasp now what I bobbled to cause about a fourth of the material to be unavailable. It isn’t only the end, it’s a good chunk of the middle, including a couple of entertaining true-life horror stories. I’ll bring that stuff next week. Anyway, it resulted in an exactly six-hour show, to the second, and that’s what I should be shooting for, now that I’m old and staying up all day and all night just makes me cranky and barky, not like when I was a kid and could eat anything I wanted and had that great straight-6 Chevy Biscayne that never burned a drop of oil.
Just kidding. I can still eat anything I want. Gluten, GMO cheese, glyphosate, boiled belts. It rolls right off me.
Further, at http://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com there are many worthwhile but not necessarily radio-useful items that I found while putting the show together. Here are just a few:
Seven hours on the source of all life compressed into a few seconds. A chaotic electromagnetic thermal surface event hundreds of thousands of miles wide, involving enough energy to power today’s U.S. until the sun's supply of hydrogen runs out and it expands to swallow all the planets out to Jupiter. Allow this to put your various little quibbles and your neighbor's garage band into perspective.
Germany’s new directions in power. (This is the sort of video pamphlet you won’t be seeing produced anymore now that Fox so-called News perpetrator Roger Ailes has acquired National Geographic, lock, stock, barrel, magazine and radio and teevee channels.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3ml_3ZfZk8
If a robbery report was treated like a rape report: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0L4V5BWITM
And swing dancers vs. street dancers. A thrilling display of kinetic balance and popping and locking skills.