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Mendocino County Today: Sunday, Feb 7, 2016

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OVER ONE MILLION DOLLARS, two-thirds from a tourism tax plus one-third which the County is obligated to pony up as a match no matter how much “tourism” is “promoted,” will be handed over to what used to be called “Visit Mendocino County,” now called “Mendocino County Tourism Commission,” this year, along with more than $400,000 (plus a few thousand more in private donations) in General Fund dollars (supposedly a portion of the Bed Tax).

The resultant $1.4 or so million, after a few administrative rake offs, is then used to “promote” Mendocino County. The County’s share comes out of tourism tax revenues which in 2014/2015 (July 2014-June 2015) amounted to: $4.2 million of bed tax money, plus $750k more in “Business Improvement District” taxes.

According to the most recent (2001) Grand Jury report of this program (then called the “promotional alliance”):

“Alliance administration publicizes their contention that they are entitled to a portion of the Transient Occupancy Tax collected by the County. The Grand Jury finds nothing to support this contention. In fact, pursuant to County Code, section 5.17.060, Transient Occupancy Taxes collected by the County ‘shall be used to fund general governmental functions of the County’.”

Response (Board of Supervisors): “The Board neither agrees nor disagrees with first two statements. Historically, other organizations have publicized or debated with the County that they are entitled to a portion of the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) collected by the County. The Alliance has made reference to the operations of convention and visitors bureaus that receive contributions or percentages of Transient Occupancy Tax to fund those bureaus’ operations. However, the County is not aware of any direct statement from the Alliance administration contending that the Alliance is ‘entitled to a portion of the Transient Occupancy Tax collected by the County.’

“The Board partially disagrees with third sentence. The County presumes that the Grand Jury is referencing County Code Chapter 5.20. Tax Imposed on Transients. Of that Chapter, Section 5.20.031(B) states, ‘The revenue raised by this tax shall be used to fund the general governmental services and operations of the County of Mendocino.’ The Tax Imposed on Transients or, as commonly recognized, ‘Transient Occupancy Tax’ (TOT) is general revenue. Collected TOT has the same unencumbered utility as other general revenue, such as sales and property taxes. General revenue is considered as ‘discretionary funds’ meaning that the Board of Supervisors has discretion to divide and spend these funds as approved by a majority vote of the Board.”

TRANSLATION: Whatever the promoters say they do to “promote” Mendocino County will be heavily subsidized with County tax money that should go to “general government services” (roads, cops, jail for “transients” who drive drunk, etc.) that instead should be subsidized by tourism, not the other way around. The theory is that if the County spends hundreds of thousands of dollars of tourism taxes on promotion then the money will be returned via increased tourism.

TROUBLE IS, there’s no evidence (besides their own) that the promoters actually have any effect on tourism. Based on bed tax revenues over the last few years, the usual fluctuations are a direct reflection of the surrounding economy and bear no relation to the amount spent on “promotion.” And in fact the promoters and the County’s refusal to include a realistic performance measure is a sure sign that there is no connection with promotion spending and bed tax revenue.

Grand Jury: “Any promotional contract [should] have measures for return on investment as defined by the California Travel and Tourism Commission’s Study of 1999 and an exact line item accounting method quarterly.”

Response (Board of Supervisors): “This recommendation would undermine purposeful public policy established by the Board. The contractual relationship between the County and the Alliance recognizes that ongoing development of monitoring practices are key to evaluate performance of marketing and promotion strategies to ensure proper investment and stewardship of public dollars. … It is unclear if a return on investment formula can be developed that accurately reflects the economic return of the investment of the County’s investment. Given the need to track and evaluate such an extensive number of local, state and nationwide economic variables, development of an accurate methodology to produce a precise evaluation or demonstrate a valid outcome of investment may not be achievable.”

TRANSLATION: If we measure it, it would show that there is no relationship between promotional spending and revenues and therefore it would certainly “undermine” the promotional tax giveaway. And for the next 15 years Boards of Supervisors have scrupulously avoided asking about effectiveness or return on investment, choosing instead to unquestioningly hand over the million-plus to their well-heeled “promotion” pals while deputies go underpaid, children’s services go understaffed, roads continue to deteriorate, line staffers are denied salary restoration…

Nowadays, the County “contracts” with MCTC (there are so many defunct and current acronyms associated with “promotion” that one can only conclude that they are going to great lengths to hide their finances (as the 2000 Grand Jury concluded, but nothing changed, and no follow up occurred).

A glance at the County’s “contract” with MCTC shows some very suspicious details listed as part of the “services” — sign maintenance, annual audit, prepare work plan, conduct meetings, prepare expenditure requests, prepare annual report (“report shall include any information regarding the board activities of contractor that were deemed by its members to be positive or negative [our emphasis because they never report anything remotely “negative”) outcomes of actions taken by those boards in the preceding year”), fee collection support, Brown Act compliance, bookkeeping, etc. In conspicuous contrast, there is one giant lump of undefined goo simply called “lodging promotion” which is ill-defined, unmeasured and, in direct defiance of the 2000 Grand Jury Report, no measures of effectiveness or returns on investment are required.

The closest thing to a definition of “lodging promotion” in the contract is this collection of gibberish: “Contractor shall cooperate with the Mendocino County Lodging Association, Mendocino County Promotional Alliance, Chambers of Commerce, the Arts Council of Mendocino County, Mendocino Winegrowers, Inc., restaurants and other promotional organizations within the County to provide the services, activities and programs to promote tourism and the marketing of the County and related products, including scenic, recreational, cultural, viticulture and other attractions.”

And if you’re impressed by that “description of services,” you probably think the County’s mental health contracts with Ortner and Redwood Quality Management are models of effectiveness.

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Michael (Bone Daddy) & Mary (photo by Cristalen)

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Mendocino TV will broadcast live (given accessible bandwidth) the Mendocino County Marijuana Ad Hoc Committee Town Hall Meeting on Saturday February 6 at 3:00 PM in Willits. Supervisors McCowen and Woodhouse will give an update and share their proposed recommendations on revisions to Mendocino County’s 9.31 Marijuana Cultivation Ordinance. The newly enacted state legislation designed to oversee the medical marijuana industry has necessitated Mendocino County to act quickly and may result in a launch a pilot program in the spring. These issues are very complex, so Mendocino TV has uploaded the October meeting, where the new laws and implications were explained with comments from the public and the decision to proceed occurred, for you to view prior to this Town Hall Meeting. To view these meetings and other pertinent shows, go to

PS. There is not enough broadband at the Mendocino County Marijuana Ad Hoc Committee Town Hall Meeting in Willits to bring this event to you live. It is being recorded and will be uploaded later Saturday evening on We are sorry; it is often difficult to produce live meetings in Mendocino County, given the bandwidth issues we all struggle with here. Thanks, Mendocino TV

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Bottom half of unused ticket for first Super Bowl (photo by: Tony Tomsic/Getty Images).
Bottom half of unused ticket (photo by: Tony Tomsic/Getty Images).


Chiefs running back Mike Garrett (21) tries to elude Jim Grabowski (33) (photo by Art Rogers / Los Angeles Times).
Chiefs running back Mike Garrett (21) tries to elude Jim Grabowski (photo by Art Rogers / Los Angeles Times).


Packers receiver Max McGee (85) tackles Chiefs Willie Mitchell after an interception (photo by Ben Olender / Los Angeles Times).
Packers receiver Max McGee (85) tackles Chiefs Willie Mitchell after an interception (photo by Ben Olender / Los Angeles Times).


Packers coach Vince Lombardi (L) yelling from sideline (photo by Art Rogers / Los Angeles Times).
Packers coach Vince Lombardi (L) yelling from sideline (photo by Art Rogers / Los Angeles Times).


Packers halfback Donny Anderson (44) running against the Chiefs (photo by Ben Olender / Los Angeles Times).
Packers halfback Donny Anderson (44) running against the Chiefs (photo by Ben Olender / Los Angeles Times).



THE EDITOR GOT A HUGE JOLT from the above photo.

His name is Reg Carolan. I played football and basketball against him when I was in high school. He died at the age of 47 in 1983 when he drowned in a lake here in Marin. He was a great athlete, obviously, since he made it all the way into pro football and the Super Bowl. Reg was an epileptic. He is believed to have suffered a seizure while jogging, passed out, tumbled into the lake and died.

Chiefs tight end Reggie Carolan in the locker room (photo by Bill Ray—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images).
Chiefs tight end Reggie Carolan in the locker room at halftime (photo by Bill Ray—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images).


Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson in the locker room at halftime (photo by Bill Ray—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images).
Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson enjoying the halftime break (photo by Bill Ray—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images).

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by Katy Tahja

It’s always nice as a journalist to know people are reading my feature stories in the Anderson Valley Advertiser. Sometimes readers approach me with story ideas they want to know about. AVA subscriber Alice Chouteau came up to me at Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino where I work and said “Katy, I want you to write a story about the county poor farm. I always wanted to know more about it…” So this piece of writing is dedicated to Alice and I hope she enjoys it.

Needless to say, county poor farms or almshouses were not the most publicized of institutions. Thanks to the Held-Poage Library of the Mendocino County Historical Society and their newspaper clippings files I found fleeting references to the programs in our county.

In 1904 California state government provided a framework in law ordering Boards of Supervisors to construct, officer (administer), and maintain hospitals and almshouses to provide for indigent, sick and dependent poor and for such purpose they could levy tax. If the county found the so-called indigent person actually had access to income the county could take that person to court to recover the cost of their care.

Who was liable for the support of a poor relative before the county took them in as indigent? If you had a kindred husband, wife, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, brother or sister THEY were liable to support you and you could not claim to be an indigent. One year of residence in the county was also required.

So county by county variations on the theme of a poor farm and hospital appeared. They would have dormitories, kitchen & dining hall, croplands, dairy, orchard, poultry yard, hog pens, woodsheds, hospital, a “pest house” and a cemetery. “Pest houses” were separate facilities on the property for people with incurable diseases like tuberculous. Their families lived with them since they had all been exposed to the same illness. Physicians were the judges of who would be assigned to the poor farm.

In 1882 Ukiah’s Dispatch Democrat announced the county paid $4,000 for the Tom Gibson 155 acre ranch at Low Gap Road and Bush streets. Today everything including the Board of Supervisors chambers and the county jail complexes cover the land that was once the county poor farm. Twenty acres was deemed first class garden land and the rest good rangeland. The county directed that suitable buildings of sufficient capacity be erected and that inmates who could do such work as their health permits would contribute activities towards their own support. One dollar in taxes of every male resident over the age of 21 yearly would support the poor farm and hospital.

The same newspaper in 1910 reported the county provided for the aged & infirm in a manner that reflected the generosity & unselfishness of the taxpayers throughout the area. A number of nice cottages had been erected and fitted up comfortably where indigent sick are attended to & those whose misfortunes have deprived them of support are provided for. There were 60 inmates, also called patients, with a steward to oversee operations and a medical superintendent. It was stated that no similar institution in the state was kept in better condition.

Dr. E.W. Mankins was an early medical director followed by Dr. John Hogshead & Dr. Judson Lift-Child. In 1908 more cottages were built though it was noted that other buildings needed a coat of paint. In 1910 a new cookhouse 40’ by 80’ with a modern range weighing 1,600 pounds was built with floors polished and oiled. It was noted the new building made the lives of the unfortunate ones much pleasanter. The old cook house became a female ward and plans were made for a tubercular ward, that proverbial “pest house.”

Melissa Kandrick, a native of Anderson Valley, whose oral history interview was featured in “Mendocino County Remembered” said her step-father George Lambert was once a steward at the county poor farm. There were 50 inmates in old wooden building, a piggery, nice gardens and her mom was caretaker of the woman inhabitants. She lived there 10 years starting in 1908.

In 1924 the county planned to build a detention home for 20 to 30 juvenile delinquents and women so as not to incarcerate them in the county jail. This home would have a matron in charge earning $100 a month, a cook, a nurse and a housekeeper. Expected to cost $30,000 it was completed in 1937 and county poor farm property.

So what went on in a county poor farm? Everyone worked to the best of their abilities. If you were healthy enough to plow behind a horse or make firewood you did so. If that was too exhausting you could slop hogs or pick fruit in the orchard. Women & men both could work in the dairy or gardens. Women inmates did housekeeping, cooking, laundry and mending. Old folks did babysitting and collected eggs. People brought in firewood and tended flower gardens amidst the cottages, scrubbed floors and helped preserve fruit & vegetables .The poor farm and hospital were largely self-supporting well into the 20th century.

Hospitals in Ukiah were private institutions but medical services were provided for inmates and the poor at the hospital ward on the poor farm. By 1951 the county decided to build a General Hospital and support it. The remaining building of that facility is on the corner of Bush and Low Gap roads in Ukiah today, now county offices. The county also undertook construction of a new Juvenile Hall and Tuberculous ward at that time. These things take time but by 1957 there was a 54 bed hospital and 13 more beds in the TB ward. Some patients remained in the TB ward 20 years.

With the arrival of social welfare programs during the Depression the need to maintain poor farms diminished. I could find no newspaper dates that said when the last poor farm inmate left but the General Hospital could not compete with private hospitals and it too closed. The old county poor farm and its hospitals became an interesting tidbit of history for this researcher to investigate 65 years later.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, Feb 6, 2016

Ball, Boyles, Davis
Ball, Boyles, Davis

STEPHANIE BALL, Ukiah. Under influence, paraphernalia, criminal threats.

JEREMY BOYLES, Fort Bragg. Fugitive from justice. (Mr. Boyles was booked as “Vietnamese,” but weighing in at a very un-Vietnamese 250 pounds and 6-1.)

ERAINA DAVIS, Covelo. Vehicle theft.

Fryman, LaForge, McNeill, Schmidt
Fryman, LaForge, McNeill, Schmidt

JOHN FRYMAN, Willits. Probation revocation.

ASHLEY LAFORGE, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Probation revocation.

ANTHONY MCNEILL, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.

JACOB SCHMIDT, San Francisco/Ukiah. Petty theft, honey oil sale, false ID.

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video by Scott Peterson

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In a birther exchange, Senator Ted Cruz pointed out that Trump's mother was born in Scotland. Cruz and Trump had a drawn out confrontation over whether Cruz is eligible to be president. Cruz made the legal case for his eligibility but then tried to turn the argument against Trump — whose mother was born in Scotland.

"I would note that the birther theories that Donald has been relying on, some of the more extreme ones insist that you must not only be born on US soil, but have two parents born on US soil. Under that theory, not only would I be disqualified, Marco Rubio would be disqualified, Bobby Jindal would be disqualified, and interestingly enough, Donald J. Trump would be disqualified. Because Donald's mother was born in Scotland. She was naturalized."

"Donald, I'm not going to use your mother's birth against you," Cruz promised to Trump, of the revelation about his mother. "Good," Trump responded. "Because it wouldn’t work."

In launching the birther attack on Cruz, Trump predicted a disaster scenario for the GOP: Trump wins the nomination, picks Cruz as his running mate, and then Democrats file a lawsuit over Cruz’s eligibility that ruins the campaign.

"I already know the Democrats are going to be bringing a suit. You have a big lawsuit over your head while you're running. And if you become the nominee, who the hell knows if you can even serve in office?" Trump warned. "So you should go out, get a declaratory judgment, let the courts decide."

"Why are you saying this now right now?" moderator Neil Cavuto asked Trump.

"Because now he's doing a little bit better," Trump responded. "Hey look, he never had a chance. Now, he's doing better. He's got probably a 4 or 5 percent chance."

— Patrick Caldwell

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OOPS! The above comment was from the Thursday, January 14 Republican “debate.” Oh well. Never mind. No real difference. Nobody’s paying much attention to these “debates” besides the candidates themselves.

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by Todd Martens

DanHicksBay Area folk-pop-jazz singer and bandleader Dan Hicks, known for his acoustic eclectism, sense of humor and popular songs such as "“I Scare Myself," died Saturday in Mill Valley, according to his wife. Hicks was 74.

Hicks had revealed in 2015 that he was battling liver cancer, this shortly after he went public with a bout with throat cancer.

In 1965, Hicks took over the drum chair in the Charlatans, one of the first bands on the soon-to-boom San Francisco rock scene.

Hicks started the Hot Licks in 1968 and won a national following with albums that offered a heady, usually lighthearted blend of Bob Wills-inspired Western swing, jug-band music and jumping jazz. In his early days, Hicks developed a reputation for sometimes combative repartee with his audiences.

"I played a lot of bars, and people would yell stuff at me," Hicks told the Times in 1995. "They'd get a little unruly, and that's how it all got started. I would just try to get them first. I definitely toned that all down."

In late 2015, he had announced tour dates with the Hot Licks, but his wife of almost 20 years, Clare Wasserman, said the liver cancer had worsened in recent weeks. He died in bed at home early Saturday with his beloved dog Coco by his side, Wasserman said.

Hicks was born in Little Rock, Ark., and his family moved to Northern California when he was about 5. He grew up listening to country music and, as a teenager living in Santa Rosa, fell in love with the sounds of Benny Goodman and other swing-era jazz greats.

Eventually his tastes broadened to include folk, bluegrass, jug band and the blues. While in Santa Rosa, Hicks took to big-band swing and became a drummer in dance bands. But his style was varied and often indefinable.

"He wanted to play rooms where he could see everybody and feel them," said Wasserman, who also served as his business manager, via phone Saturday afternoon.

"He was a jazz musician, I think, in a lot of ways," she added. "He revered that life and that world, and his heroes were those musicians. They weren't the rockers, put it that way. He came up in a time in San Francisco where all there was, was the psychedelic stuff. Out of all this, comes this sound."

Hicks' songs had an easy-going, comfortable feel. Songs such as "Hell, I'd Go!," "13-D," and "Presently in the Past," were filled with unexpected turns -- a scat vocal here, or a squiggly string section there, or a playful call-and-response over there.

They had a wide and diverse following, as evidenced by his 2000 album with the Hot Licks, "Beatin' The Heat," which featured guests such as Tom Waits, Elvis Costello and Bette Midler. Still, as Wasserman noted on Saturday, Hicks would bristle at playing large rooms.

"I don't think my music is especially commercial; it's not even attempting to be," Hicks said in a 1998 interview with The Times. "We're just a little ol' four-piece [band]. We're certainly not your loud, corporate type of band that you'll find in arenas or on MTV."

Hicks is survived by his wife and his stepdaughter, Sarah.

(Courtesy, the Los Angeles Times)

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"There's no one else who sounds like Dan Hicks, who writes like him, who has that dry sense of humor, or has that manner on stage. He's really one of a kind."

— SF Weekly

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Even now, it seems there’s plenty of excess swag floating around the US economy. How else can you explain the new NFL stadium going up in LA, price tag $10 billion? How could such a place be built if there wasn’t available credit, and lots of it? Not a week goes by that I don’t hear about this centerfielder signing a $110 million contract, a point guard signing for $75 million, a running back for $90 mil. That money is coming from somewhere. Even in the train wreck that is Detroit the pro teams pay out enormous salaries. Colleges, too, pay their coaches and ADs huge sums. You’d think if the economy was in real trouble these superfluous activities would be the first to go under, but they’re richer than ever. Not having enough resources is General George Washington melting down silver from his house in Virginia to pay the troops at Valley Forge. I don’t see anything like that happening here. Of course Im not an economist and don’t have the spread sheets here in front of me, showing things headed south, and fast!

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by Ted Dace

"I hope you're writing some of this down," she said, gathering her books and hopefully her wits before I swept her off to class. On the way to campus we stopped in a long column of cars in front of what turned out to be a perpetual red light. At the corner a pretty young woman with a pink backpack held a sign requesting money and referencing a passage from John.

"There's that crazy bitch." A gleam in her eye, a little tug at her lips, Mona enjoyed the fleeting satisfaction of pinning the dreaded label on someone else. Of course! It was Sara, the first Sara, flying a sign for meth money. She'd flamed out after a screaming fit complete with threats to burn the place down because her boyfriend, the first Danny, wouldn't accompany her when she wanted to go. The second Sara didn't fare much better. Sure, she lasted a couple months, and even paid Mona a little rent she raised off the streets. She'd sworn off meth since, after all, she was pregnant. But when the cops busted her for flying a sign — after she'd told them where to find Bo on the understanding that they'd leave her alone — Mona found syringes in her room.

Unlike the others, Bo and Stacy were junkies. Trying to kick smack isn't easy, but they looked to be on their way until six cops showed up one day — thanks to the second Sara — and he was clearly strung out while being interrogated for the 50 computer tablets he'd apparently stolen.

How did I get into this mess? Definitely not what I signed up for when Mona, darkly beautiful Nebraska sweetheart, asked me to live with her in Kansas City while she got her MFA in creative writing. After she'd published a book of poetry, UMKC offered her a full ride plus a stipend. Since her husband Nick was stuck teaching sculpture in a western Kansas cow town, he'd encouraged her to go for it. If he couldn't bust them out, maybe she could.

It was an opportunity to be part of a family, to look after the two youngest — nine year old Violet and seven year old Vega — while helping Mona with her schoolwork.

With the last-minute addition of her oldest, Will, the five of us moved into the second and third floors of an old stone house near Westport Road. As soon as I moved into the top floor, things began breaking, like when I set down a suitcase and heard a crash from within when it fell over because the floor was slanted in that spot or when I dropped a jar of water in the dark because I thought a table was underneath my hand when I let go.

But the first real sign of trouble came my first night back from a West Coast road trip to celebrate the publication of my book. I was doing yoga when Mona came upstairs, took a seat and started chatting. She told me she'd had a crush on me back in the day, then pointed out that Will, who'd taken the girls to Manhattan — the college town where Nick and I grew up and Mona went to school — wouldn't be back till late the next day. We could spend the night together, all night long. "We could have sex," she said, matter-of-factly.

Ever since the Halloween night Nick introduced us, Mona and I had been close. But it was brother-sister close, never a hint of anything more. This coupled with the fact that I was standing on my head when she let slip the magic words caught me off guard.

I dropped from the ceiling and told her we couldn't do that because it would be irresponsible. Later I pretended the exchange never happened. All the flirting and provocations that followed I chalked up to her loneliness without Nick.

Sure, she was lonely without him, but for years she'd been lonely with him. A childbirth addict with her fertile days behind her, nothing remained to distract her from loveless matrimony. Now, out of Nick's presence, she could let the truth could sink in. She started crying, just a little at first and then every night in torrential bursts. I was there not just to help with the girls and the papers and the poetry-making but to listen and sympathize while her illusions of the perfect family drained from her soul by way of her tear ducts.

I could forgive her for thinking I might play an even bigger role, helping catalyze the breakup and supporting her not just emotionally (and financially) but sexually, catching her in my arms as she plummeted from marital grace.

The more I saw Nick through her eyes, the more alien he became. One night when she had to write a report due the following morning, she got hung up on something and had to text Nick about it. Instead of resolving whatever was at hand and getting her mind back on her work, he ensnared her in an escalating text war. Later when he drove out to take her to Iowa so she could present a paper at a conference, he kept the attention on himself while she grew visibly frustrated trying to get her thoughts in order.

Not so long ago Mona supported Nick through art school, earning money at daycare and securing gigs for him at galleries and otherwise getting the word out, all the while caring for three kids at home with another on the way. But when it was Mona's turn — after a chance meeting at a Lawrence coffeehouse led to her book publication — Nick got the bright idea that he should be a writer too, his output taking the form of erotic fiction he lovingly bestowed upon his adoring wife.

One night when I was half asleep, I thought I heard Will counting down to zero in the kitchen. Soon after, Mona yelled to come quick. Will had gone on a rampage, shattering several personal items including the cheap landline phone I kept in the living room and a clay sculpture of a phone on a nearby shelf.

The next day I asked him what the hell happened. He said he'd awakened in his room to the terrifying vision of Mona castigating him while holding my phone threateningly over his head. So he grabbed it and broke it in two and bolted out to the living room where he saw the phone sculpture and figured he'd really show her by smashing that too.

Nick happened to visit that evening, and I passed along Will's version of the previous night's events. "Do you think it's true?" I asked. But instead of answering, he launched into a two hour epic narrative of Mona the Merciless. He called her histrionic and said she alternated between threatening his life and her own. Through it all he presented himself as a cool-headed, wholly dispassionate observer, a victim of this crazy woman he'd mistakenly married and sired six kids with.

The next morning I got Mona's take. Will, she said, "had an upset" when he couldn't find one of his shoes and announced that if it didn't turn up by the time he counted down from seven, he was going to "wreck the place." When he got to zero, he stormed into the living room and destroyed the first thing he noticed — the phone sculpture — and followed that up by annihilating the landline. The giveaway was the countdown, which I'd heard myself, so I knew she was telling the truth.

Nick didn't care if his son's self-serving confabulation was true or not, so long as it gave him an opening to denounce his wife. One night when Will lectured her like she was his daughter, I knew where it came from. For years Nick had treated her like a child in need of daddy's loving wisdom.

Meanwhile Violet was tormenting her sister. She'd snatch a book out of Vega's hand or turn off the Xbox while Vega was playing a game or "accidentally" elbow her, routinely putting her down and bossing her around. Yet whenever Vega fought back, Mona just told them both to behave themselves, as if the blame went around equally. Every time Violet had a fit — always over something bizarrely inconsequential — Mona bought into it, taking at face value her attention-seeking tantrums.

One day in charge of the kids, I turned my back on them for one minute, and suddenly Vega was struggling to explain through tears — real tears — that Violet had yanked her from her seat and banged her head on the floor because she'd sat on a piece of fabric Violet had left on a pillow. Apparently it was some kind of special fabric. When I told Violet she could never under any circumstance hit her sister, she replied, "Why are you always interfering?"

When Mona got home, she took Violet's side and called me an asshole. I told her I'd responded to Violet the way any responsible adult would. Why did she want me looking after the kids if I couldn't point out misbehavior? She said Violet was just like she'd been as a little girl, and she felt like I was attacking her.

Not long after, Will's dog Lucy fell about ten feet from the balcony onto the patio in front of the house. Violet was beside herself with grief, as usual playing it for all it was worth. The handyman happened to be out front, and he said Lucy was prancing about as usual, no sign of injury. So I came back upstairs and passed on the news that Lucy was okay. "One of the things I hate about you," said Mona, "is how you make these authoritative pronouncements." I stewed over that for awhile — there was a grain of truth to it — and then confronted her on my way out the door. "One of the things I hate about you is how you keep picking away at me like I'm one of your toenails."

When I returned, Violet swore her mom never said "one of the things I hate about you," though Mona knew perfectly well she had. Later as we discussed the incident in the kitchen, Violet showed up to forbid us from speaking of it anymore. Perhaps she was embarrassed that Lucy was indeed fine and Mona had apologized for the hurtful phrase. I explained to Violet — again calmly but firmly — that she didn't have the right to decide what we could or could not discuss. Mona chimed in that I didn't know how to talk to a child, and I responded that I was doing what she, as a parent, should have been doing all along.

"See?" said Violet. "He's attacking you now." So I laid the palm of my hand on Mona's arm and assured her I meant no harm, that my comment was not an attack. "Don't touch me," she snarled.

I began to wonder if Mona was nuts. Could it be a personality disorder, as Nick had hinted when he called her histrionic? So I consulted the diagnostic manual of the American Psychiatric Association, but it just didn't add up. Then I noticed a summary box listing the symptoms of another condition, borderline personality disorder, and there it was: the alternating extremes in relationships, the unstable sense of self, the reckless impulsivity, the tongue-lashings Nick had told me about, the rapidly shifting mood and threats of suicide.

That's when I made a questionable decision. I sat her down on the couch and showed her the description of her illness, in essence holding up a mirror to her soul, letting her see what she'd been hiding from herself her whole life.

She took it well — or seemed to at first. Then she found a new friend. With the girls back in cow town for the summer, she started bringing someone over she'd met on the street. John was a sweet guy with a terrible addiction. 27 years old and sporting a beard and dreadlocks, he seemed very distant when she introduced us, but that was only the meth. Once he agreed to stop shooting up in exchange for a place to sleep on the balcony, he really opened up.

Will didn't care for John sleeping on a balcony attached to Mona's room. When he cited a provision in the lease prohibiting guests from staying longer than a week, they went "camping," spending the night in a midtown park where John knew they wouldn't be hassled. When Nick happened to call the landline, I told him they'd already left for the park, having wrongly assumed she'd cleared it with him beforehand. So he called Will early the next morning and told him to see if she was back yet. She was back alright and in the arms of John on the balcony. Will returned with his cellphone and snapped a picture of John reaching up her shirt. He informed them he would be emailing it to Nick.

With that task completed, Will got in his pickup and drove to a gun store. But, as luck would have it, it was Sunday, and you can't buy a gun in Missouri on Sunday. When he got back, John and Mona watched from the balcony as he very deliberately put on a pair of black gloves, grabbed an ax, and headed for the front door.

So they scurried off the balcony onto a limb, climbed down the tree and fled the scene barefoot and penniless. Will got to work destroying glasses and dishes, furniture, lamps, sculptures, my replacement phone and Mona's tablet and printer, topping it off by soaking Mona's bed and John's backpack in motor oil. By the time I got out of the shower — having heard none of the mayhem — he was sitting on a chair, the ax in one hand and a bottle of vodka in the other.

I asked Nick to take the five hour drive to KC, but he refused. He didn't think it was necessary. Will moved out and Mona returned from the crack house where John had taken her for safekeeping. She assured me they had not slept together; she had not cheated on Nick. But she needed Nick to show he cared, to knock a few bricks from the vertical pavement surrounding his heart. Since Nick wouldn't come out to see her, I wound up doing the same drive in the other direction in a last ditch effort to save their marriage.

No more pinning all the crazy on Mona, I told him. He'd done his part too. Aside from my own observations, she'd let me in on his rigid and condescending style, how he never kissed her anymore and never seemed to smile — except, that is, when he ripped into his students and other "pathetic" people. If he didn't wake up, he'd lose her.

Later on he told Mona he didn't believe a word I said because he knew all along I was just trying to steal his woman.

Mona needed help, but she'd never heal as long as her emotionally retarded husband mistook possession and control for love. When she'd rage at him over seemingly nothing — as borderlines are wont to do — instead of responding with calmly reasoned compassion, he'd just fan the flames. As far as he was concerned, the crazier the better. So long as she was off her rocker, he was in charge.

She finally got up the nerve to tell him she wanted out. He'd always said whoever files first wins, so it was no surprise he beat her to the punch. His petition for divorce characterized her as unstable and no longer an appropriate role model for their kids. Naturally he should keep the kids and the house, cutting her out completely. It was just a ploy of course to get her back, to let her know she was nothing without him. I told her to fight.

Meanwhile Mona moved John into her bedroom and offered one of his buddies Will's old room. Unlike John, Rosy cultivated an air of menace, like he was doing you a favor by holding back his vast reservoir of rage. He'd named himself after his dearly departed mom and liked to cut apart tin cans with a whittling knife and fold them into sharp edged roses.

Many more of John's street friends arrived to share in his good fortune: Critter, Red, Bo and Stacy, Danny and Sara. Angela was the squeeze Rosy came in with but soon got traded in for the second Sara, who found syringes in his room after he bolted to Marlborough, land of the "trap house," in a car inexplicably purchased by Mona under his name. In the end only John, his acquaintance Scott and the second Danny passed the test and stayed on. Danny and Scott even got work — hard work — in the daily labor pool, while John kept himself busy angling for crazy checks and fabricating art, often at the end of a torch, from the plentiful debris left in the wake of Will's rampage.

Somehow it worked, Mona: queen in a palace of broken glass.

And then she left. Like the street urchins who couldn't seize a golden opportunity if it required staying off the needle, Mona caved before the lure of her own drug of necessity, thrice weekly injections of Nick.

I like my new roommates. We have a good time. There's a lot of wisdom in people who survive houseless and penniless with practically no possessions for years on end, many starting in their early teens and ranging widely across the country. Lots of stories and insights to share.

It's nice. I just miss my little sister.

* * *


Knife & tool sharpening

I will be returning to The Garden Shop in Mendocino ob Friday the 12th, 10am-1pm, weather permitting. Please see my post on Mendocino Coast Small Business and Community Networking Facebook page. Decent edges can be honed, bad edges need grinding. Rates for honing/grinding:

  • Blades — 3" $1.50/$3.00
  • Blades 3-6" $3/$5
  • Blades 6-10" $5/$8
  • Bench chisels $1.50/2.50
  • Plane irons $2.50/4.50
  • Planer/jointer knives $0.30/0.40 per inch

Other items:

  • Bypass clippers/loppers, $3 with no disassembly, $8 with disassembly.
  • Scissors <4" blades $3/set, 4-6" $5/set, 6"+ $7.50
  • Garden tools (shovels, hoes, axes, hedge clippers) $4.00 (done on grinding wheel).

Not equipped to do saws or sawblades.

Would also consider a trip to Comptche if I can locate a space and there is enough volume.

Thank you for reading.


* * *



An Open Letter to the Board of Supervisors

Just a bit of clarification… The animal shelter outsourcing proponents have been attempting to create an image of the shelter along the battlefield lines dreamed up by nathan winograd, author of "Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Revolution in America." Animal rights folks want to change shelters that are OPEN ADMISSION or in the delightful winograd speak — KILL SHELTERS. Open admission means a shelter that takes in ALL animals, such as ours, in Ukiah. No kill shelters are never government run, they are private and therefore can pick and choose the animals in their care.

Our shelter has changed from an open admission shelter, where dogs were kept for only several days before being euthanized, to a shelter which has, for all intents and purposed, the same concepts as no kill — dogs and cats are all taken in, some, unfortunately are too sick to care for further. Our shelter does not operate with the luxury of picking and choosing the sweetest and cutest dogs. But any dog who passes a temperament test is a candidate for adoption.

The aggravating thing about this current campaign against the shelter is the constant reference to the agency as a kill operation, when in fact, it is not.

Using inflammatory speech is the hallmark of negative campaigning. And as we know, the low road works. The outsourcing folks would have you believe the bulk of the animals in the shelter's care are mistreated and then killed. But in fact, animals are given every chance, care, and aid possible. These folks are hooked into obsessing over the very few dogs and cats euthanized, to the exclusion of the thousands who left the shelter alive and well. Forgotten also are the thousand of happy adopters.

Because the facts stand for the themselves, and because these anti-shelter individuals keep up their verbal assaults, I can only conclude that there is more to their wasteful, hurtful campaign than the empty no kill rhetoric.

I am hoping that the Board will be able to see through the smear tactics being foisted by a small group of individuals, and grasp that our shelter is in no way a "kill" institution. The absurdity of this line of offensive propaganda is more than apparent for the majority of our community, and the thousands of dog and cat owners who have visited our shelter and left with their beloved new pets.

Can we improve? Absolutely. But not if the agency is continually under the threat of being dissolved. Not if employees are asked to put their lives on hold for months...or a year, in this case. Not if volunteers feel uncomfortable just being at the shelter.

Those of us who are TRYING to maintain our adult composures ask that, with no conclusion to the rfp process after a year, which has, in effect, created the current ridiculous atmosphere swirling around a fine shelter, you vote to end this process as soon as is possible, and let all of us...shelter staff and volunteers, go back to work.


Kathy Shearn, Ukiah

* * *


County of Humboldt Press Release

Beginning in April, local passengers will have more flights and more destinations available to them when they decide to fly Humboldt. Peninsula Airline, Inc. (PenAir) announced today that it will begin servicing the California Redwood Coast – Humboldt County Airport with flights to Portland International Airport, the largest airport in Oregon.


The agreement means Humboldt County will have two airlines and two destinations serving our regional airport for the first time in nearly five years. The first flights are scheduled to depart on April 21.

Proposed flight schedule:

Monday thru Sunday – daily midday service

Starting April 21, 2016

  • Arcata/Eureka – Portland
. Departs 5:50 AM
. Arrives 7:20 AM
  • Portland – Arcata/Eureka. 
Departs 9:20 AM
. Arrives 10:50 AM
  • Arcata/Eureka – Portland
. Departs 11:20 AM
. Arrives 12:50 PM
  • Portland – Arcata/Eureka
. Departs 6:30 PM. 
Arrives 8:00 PM.

“We are thrilled to have PenAir coming to Humboldt County,” said Public Works Director Tom Mattson. “Our community has made it clear that they want more flights to more destinations, and I’m confident that PenAir will do a great job offering quality air service to the people of our area. There are so many positive aspects to this news. I’m excited to see our community reap the benefits.”

* * *


Upcoming Open House: Foster Parent Information Night

There is an acute shortage of Foster Homes on the Mendocino Coast. About 30% of our children in Foster Care are sent out-of-county due to this shortage. These children, already subjected to significant trauma, are then further distressed by being sent to unknown places where they are subject to new schools and communities. Family reunification becomes more difficult.

If you have ever considered being a Foster Parent there is an upcoming informational meeting on Feb. 11 at CV Starr in Fort Bragg. I am forwarding this information on behalf of TLC Child and Family Services. Please contact them if you have any questions.

You’re Invited!

What: TLC Child & Family Services Is Having An Open House For All Families Who Are Interested In Hearing More About Becoming A Shelter, Foster, Or Adoptive Family

Where: C.V. Starr Community Center, Located At 300 South Linclon Street In Fort Bragg

When: Thursday, February 11, Any Time Between 4:00 And 8:00 P.M.

Did you know that there is a foster care crisis in Mendocino County? Right now there are approximately 250 children from our county who are unable to live with their families due to allegations of abuse or neglect. As these children have entered the foster care system, nearly a third of them have been placed outside of our county because there are not enough local families available to care for them. There is a significant need for loving families to step forward to provide shelter, foster care, and adoption, for these children.

Emergency shelter care is provided by specially trained and supported family homes.

Shelter care can last up to 30 days while the longer-term plan for the child is developed.

Foster parents include the child in the foster family’s daily life, caring for their day-to-day needs, getting them to school, helping them with their homework, and supporting a normal life of childhood activities and friends. Foster care can last anywhere from a month to a couple of years.

Adoptive parents make a lifelong commitment to a child. When a child in foster care cannot return to their biological parent or relatives, adoption gives them a forever family.

Did you know that there is a foster care crisis in Mendocino County?

TLC Child and Family Services is a nationally accredited agency that has been working with young people since 1975. TLC opened its Ukiah office in 1994 to serve Mendocino and Lake Counties. TLC has been a licensed adoption agency since 1998.

TLC’s office in Ukiah is located at 237 East Gobbi Street. Contact TLC Child and Family Services at 707-463-1100 or at

* * *


Dear Members of the Friends of Coast Community Library:

Our Librarian, Julia Larke, is in charge of this fun crafts class. Hope you can join her at the library.


* * *

RON CHESTNA, 89 years of age, was stopped by the police around 2am and was asked where he was going at that time of night.

Ron replied, "I'm on my way to a lecture about alcohol abuse and the effects it has on the human body, as well as smoking and staying out late."

The officer asked, "Really? Who's giving that lecture at this time of night?"

Ron replied, "That would be my wife."

* * *


(Photo by Susie de Castro)



  1. Jim Updegraff February 7, 2016

    Hey, what happen to the comments I just made?

  2. Jeff McMullin February 7, 2016

    I got to see Dan Hicks in action at CR Eureka in 1971 I believe. Some drunk in the back kept yelling “boogie” during and between scat-jazzy tunes –not what this guy was wanting to hear from the former Charlatans rocker. Dan had enough and right in the middle of a song stopped playing and screamed OK MF I’ll show you how to boogie and headed into the audience to seek justice. The guy must have run out the door, not a peep after that.
    I was impressed.

  3. Alice Chouteau February 7, 2016

    Thanks Katy! It aounds like a pleasant place. It would be interesting to know what the in,ates thought about it. I once lived in a little valley in Connecticutt called Poverty Hollow, and the old colonial house next door had been the local Poorhouse, but never got the detail.


  4. Harvey Reading February 7, 2016

    I’ve got a real super bowl. It’s stainless steel, holds about a gallon, and will fit inside my pressure cooker, keeping the juices of whatever’s being cooked from splashing onto the interior of the cooker. And, it does its job, quietly, with no brainless hype.

    The football super bowl always puzzled me, as did the moronic game of football. What reason do I have for giving a damn which crowd of brain-damaged idiots beats the other crowd of brain-damaged idiots in a corporation-funded (with lots of subsidies from common folks’ tax dollars) stadium filled with brain-dead commoners, in the commoners’ seats who oooh and aaah over the militarism?

  5. james marmon February 7, 2016

    RE: Foster Care

    Dear Jeff and Jeff, or what ever you’re calling yourself now, there is no foster care crisis in Mendocino County. There is a CPS crisis and too many children are being removed and/or being kept from their parents unnecessarily by unqualified CPS staff. I’ve known you two yahoo’s since our days together at the Youth Project in 1993, knock off your bullshit.

    James Marmon MSW

  6. james marmon February 7, 2016

    If Mendocino County would have embraced the State’s (CDSS) Child Welfare redesign and implemented “differential response” and bolstered their “family maintenance” unit, we would have about half the children in foster care than we do now.

    I watched this whole foster care movement develop in Mendocino County, and I watched many Youth Project workers leave an agency where we actually helped families and instead chose to join the foster care and adoption industry where families are the enemy.

    You all joined forces with the “Trinity Gang” Schraeder, Lowery, Wilson, Lovett, and Mockel….. in a grand scheme that has created pain beyond belief.

    I don’t respect any of you.

    James Marmon MSW

  7. BB Grace February 7, 2016

    Sunday Night Youtube freebie movie HEATWAVE (1974)
    Water shortage?! Power shortage!? Phone out? It’s Mendocino 2016!

    • Harvey Reading February 7, 2016

      What’s that woman doing with her left hand?

      • BB Grace February 7, 2016

        Obviously she’s fly fishing.

  8. Harvey Reading February 7, 2016

    A scary question: what if Sanders got the nod as the democraps’ candidate this year, chose the she-monster as his running mate, got elected, and then the old bastard keeled over shortly after being sworn in? Could happen. At the moment, I believe I’ll stick to writing in Jill Stein, much as I despise Greens, who simply do as the ‘craps command, all talk, no action.

    • BB Grace February 7, 2016

      Read Tommy Wayne Krammer’s “Assignment” Ukiah column in Ukiah Daily Journal:

      “I am not a forward-thinking fellow but even so I don’t quite get the attraction of Bernie Sanders, who is also not a forward-thinking fellow.

      “My political views tend toward the old-fashioned, the traditional, the things that have (more or less) proven to have worked for a couple hundred years. Bernie’s political views tend toward stale old 1930s or 1960s socialist nonsense that comes ‘round every few decades, mostly on college campuses, and then dries up and blows away. Again.

      “But my liberal friends (I live in Northern California, so all my friends are liberal) are gushing and squirming and wetting themselves over Bernie. The paradox is this:

      • BB Grace February 7, 2016

        The line up so far is canny:

        Hillaryous Cruz Bern Trump

        Trump Hillaryous Cruz Bern

        Bern Hillaryous Trump Cruz

  9. Bruce McEwen February 7, 2016

    Heavy reading, Harvey; really deep, profound writing, too. You have the wisdom of “someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing,” a species of cynicism captured in a Reading Gaol cell. Sir, you sound so much like Oscar Wild, I can’t contain my curiosity about whether you look like the wicked old wit; or resemble him in any other particulars, besides physiology; for instance, do you perhaps resemble him in deportment, mannerisms, facial ticks, or addictive vices? What about pure psychological/physical resemblances? Do me a favor and google Max Beerbohm’s picture of Oscar Wild, and tell me if it looks anything like you, at all…

    • Harvey Reading February 8, 2016

      Why, thank you so much, Mr. McEwen. Coming from a wise and famous writer like yourself, I feel very honored.

  10. Jim Updegraff February 7, 2016

    Jesse Unruh who was speaker of the State Assembly said “If you can’t eat their food, drink their booze, screw their women, take their money and then vote against them then you’ve got no reason in coming up here”. Big Daddy got it right. Hilary takes their money and votes the way the donors want.

  11. Jim Updegraff February 7, 2016

    Went to the grocery store while the Stupid Bowl was on TV. The store was virtually empty.

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