- Eddie Whipple
- Farm Report
- College Improvements
- Jailhouse Edits
- Officer Quilt
- Boonville Water
- Ambulance Merger
- Firefighting Equipment
- Salmon BBQ
- Poetry Marathon
- PD Wins
- Little Dog
- Mendo Warning
- Yesterday's Catch
- Everyday Life
- Former Model
- Unhealthy Americans
- FB Fires
- Dorothea Dix
- Himalayan Fair
- KMEC Interview
EDDIE WHIPPLE HAS DIED
Legendary Covelo Coach Eddie Whipple Passed
MendocinoSportsPlus has met many opposing coaches over the years, but it's pretty hard to find a more respected (or more successful) one than Coach Eddie Whipple from Round Valley High School in Covelo. MSP was informed by a Covelo viewer that Coach Whipple passed early Saturday morning — and we're heartbroken.
Although primarily known for his success with the girls basketball team - he also took the reins of many other sports at the high school - including football.
But it is girls basketball that we particularly remember him. His teams DOMINATED the NCL III - and he orchestrated a 16-game winning streak over the Mendocino Lady Cardinals from January 8, 2010 to January 15th, 2016.
And it was his team that inflicted the ONLY regular season loss on the Lady Cardinals last season - although the Cards got a measure of revenge in the Division 6 playoffs by beating the Mustangs in overtime 46-40.
From what we can gather, he led the Lady Mustangs to a respectable 105-39 league record and numerous post-season games.
He will be dearly missed - and our sincere condolences go out to his family, friends and players. MSP will post more information on Coach Whipple when we receive it.
FROM PETIT TETON, Boonville's thriving family farm:
We've finally planted our 200 tomatoes and 150 cucumbers and will do the 200+ peppers this week. The tomatoes look good but the cukes are being hit with some major heat this week and look a bit fried. We'll see. Bed prep has been slow going since the fields have been wet and weed choked. Lots of hard work weeding. Last week the string and bush beans were direct seeded, but the bed for the winter squash needs to dry down a bit before they go in about 3 weeks late.
The farm looks, well, exquisite - bursting with life, no dust, shiny leaves and vigorous growth - all due to abundant water. The oaks, redwoods and incense cedars we've planted all over are a foot or so taller and fuller. The curly willow by the creek has doubled its size. And our first strawberry harvest yielded 53lbs. Since the rhubarb, a cool wet loving plant, has also been abundant we made several runs of strawberry rhubarb jam. Yummy.
The mulberries on one tree are turning red so we bird netted it. Two others are later to fruit. Plums look pretty sparse this season. Their early bloom in wind and rain made it difficult for the bees to do their work. Speaking of bees...N was tractor mowing on the big field at 501 and must have jostled a cedar containing a swarm. W climbed into his bee suit and captured it so we now have two hives. Maybe there's honey in our future. Sweets are always appreciated.
Have a sweet fruitful spring.
Nikki Auschnitt and Steve Krieg
COLLEGE SHAKE-UP LOOKS GOOD TO US
Last week, early in the week, we started getting calls from staffers at Mendocino College that the administration was getting ready to ruin the library, carve out a presidential suite there and generally make a mockery of the public funding of the facility for students. Since then we took a look around in the library and frankly, we’re thinking that staff would have been better off staying out of it. The new campus library (which is indisputably gold plated to begin with) is a nearly empty shell hovered over by a few library employees like vultures.
We’re still seeing posters on campus about the how the president plans to have “his own elevator, his own bathroom and two receptionists.” Poppycock. The elevator has always been there and clearly never gets used. The bathroom is there anyway too. And as for staffing, the library itself has a circulation desk behind the circulation desk plus a circulation office and part-time student workers helping too. All these “luxuries,” as the staffers now want to call them, are already part of the gold plating installed at the behest of some previous library staff “helping” to design this place. The librarian’s space also has its own “bridge” that goes directly from the librarian’s office area to the “library classroom” a huge under-used space that stands empty most of the time. This bridge is four feet away, over a crevasse to the main floor but it allows the librarian to enter the classroom without having to go out into the public library space. Ludicrous. The librarian’s space also comes with a 30-foot long outdoor terrace populated with tables and chairs for the sole use of library staff.
Let’s look at what is really happening. The college has taken a look around at all the spaces on campus to see which are overcrowded and which are under-utilized. The college has some new programs being created and needs space. The administration formed a team to look at all the college spaces and see where things could be made more efficient, or more logical. From what we have seen, they did a good job. What they did not do, nor should they have to, is ask permission from staff to do such a study.
Now that the ideas have been put on the table, some staff, many of them long term and used to the status quo, are resisting.
But we believe the plan makes sense. For one thing, it consolidates departments that all deal with entering students into a one-stop welcome center. Instead of being pointed here to registration, then down the hall to financial aid, then over there to counseling, and other services, a student would go to one desk and be served by all of those departments. Those spaces will all have to be rearranged.
But it is at the library over which the loudest complaints are coming. First of all, the office the president would have in the library building is not as big as the one he has now, does not have any of the spectacular views that can be had from the library and is far less convenient to the rest of the campus. It is not a “suite” and it is not lush.
What it is, is situated right among the few library staffers trying to protect their own quite unique and private world. Looking around the cavernous library you see maybe a couple dozen students using computers. Also there are no less than 15 private “study group” rooms, many of them overlooking the Ukiah hills and we’d guess less than half ever used. From the cobwebs and other evidence, it is clear a lot of the library space never gets used. The web of back rooms where the tiny library staff congregate are indeed under-utilized. Putting the president’s office back there would not alter any student services or resources. Plus the empty library classroom would make a fine college board of trustees meeting space, far more welcoming to the public, and that’s in the plan too.
When President Arturo Reyes got the job at Mendocino College he immediately started making changes. And we started getting calls and complaints from long time staff. We met with Reyes back then, we liked his attitude and still do. He gets that a community college should serve the whole community. We understand why he would give up his private office area to 100 Hispanic students coming into a new program needing a space where they would be welcome. The whole project will cost about $100,000 total to remodel the former president’s office to meet student program needs, remodel the front of McMillan Hall to create the welcome center and remodel the librarian’s office to accommodate more people. All is this is being done with either grant remodeling money or capital improvement funds, not student services funding, as complainers claim.
We think the college has done a thoughtful job assessing needs and solutions and ought to forge ahead with this logical and student-centered plan.
(K.C. Meadows, Editor, the Ukiah Daily Journal. Courtesy, The Ukiah Daily Journal)
How are you doing today sir? My name is Daniel Montalvo. I am currently in the Mendocino County Jail. I am writing you because I enjoy reading your newspaper. I love how you don't leave anything out. You state the facts and tell it like it is so that people in our county know the facts on stuff that goes on in our county and in our courts. But I miss out on some of the stuff you put in the paper because some people here in the jail rip out the stuff about themselves because they are ashamed of their crimes, or they hoard the paper and I don't get a chance to see it all the time. So I want to ask you if you can send me a subscription to your newspaper so that while I’m doing my time so I can stay up to date with what’s going on in the county.
County Jail, Ukiah
I am writing about a tribal cop “big wig” wannabe here in Covelo who goes by the name of Quilt. I was in the tribal cop building finishing an important letter which I intended receptionist Laura Betts to document for me.
I have an ongoing file there. Whenever I feel it is necessary to write a letter Laura documents it for me.
So here comes Mr. Quilt in the front door of the building. He spotted me sitting at the table writing. He asked me if I made it to court? I said no, why do you ask?
Get this: This “Big Wig” wannabe said he cited me for panhandling! What the hell? Maybe he thinks if he hands out a few more of those kinds of citations he’ll be eligible for vacation or something.
Returning to my letterwriting, I uttered to myself, "What an Okie." Mr. Quilt’s ultrasensitive radar trained ears instantly picked up on that. So he flipped me a bitch. I said, "I'm going to cite you for that too!" Ha Ha! Like, give me a mother-bleeping break! Obviously this Quilt dude had a bad time being picked on in school as a kid.
But god damn it. I was not the bully! So now that Quilt is all grown up and maybe more mature, instead of toting around his school books and his lunch money, he now totes a badge and a gun. So it seems in his childhood mentality of being picked on, it’s now his turn to be the bully.
This is some serious mind game BS he is dealing with. Especially when a badge and a gun is involved — his.
Retaliation from past childhood problems? This Quilt dude is supposed to be in position of so-called "authority"! Shit! Who let the dogs out?
Unfortunately Mr. Blanket, oops, I mean Mr. Quilt isn't the only cop with this childhood payback mentality. Individuals like this believe that just because they carry a badge and a gun they can get away with murder.
Also it is totally screwed up when the justice system finds these obviously intentional murders justifiable. They are just protecting their own.
They make it seem like it's us against them and we are the bad ones. If these certain troubled cops didn't have their badges or their guns to enforce their over-abused authority, these guys would be on our own level.
That being said, some of the screwed up cops are in all reality no better than you or I.
So in conclusion I hope things will change for the better. That is a tall order to fill, so we will see. But then again…
AT THE LAST “Boonville Planners” meeting a week ago Monday, the planning engineers from Sonoma County made some preliminary observations about what the Boonville Water District might look like — if it goes ahead.
They expect distributed sources, i.e., multiple wells all feeding into and pressurizing an integrated plumbing system. There will not be a separate pipe up to the storage tanks (tentatively to be cited on the hills above the Bradford Ranch south of town). Instead the pressurized system will pump water up the hill automatically depending on water levels, usage and time of day. The tanks themselves are reserved for surge capacity or firefighting.
Questions about the boundaries of the district remain, particularly whether or not a pipe should extend down Anderson Valley Way to the elementary school. The engineers said the cost of extending the pipe to the elementary school could be upwards of $2 million which the school would have to finance.
The residences along AV Way on either side of the pipe to the elementary school which are not in the currently envisioned Boonville water district, according to water system engineer Jack Locey,: “…the residential parcels would not be allowed to hook up unless they agreed to be annexed into the water system service area and paid associated annexation and connection fees (adopted by the District Board of Directors). The fees would represent the costs associated of the annexation process and an appropriate share in the cost of developing the water system. Under the assumption that the school district was responsible for the cost of the main pipe along AV Way, it is likely that that some portion of the connection fee would pass through the District to the school district (according to terms in a reimbursement agreement) due to their contribution to the system.”
If the extended Elementary School line goes in, there will be hydrants every 1000 feet whether the residents hook up or not.
There's also some question about whether or not all property owners in the water district would be required to sign up or if they could opt out.
Community Services District Director Kirk Wilder said the he is a member of the Airport Estates Water District but he does not use their water, preferring to use his own wells, implying that there might be a third option where you have to hook up, but you wouldn’t have to use or pay for the District’s water if you have your own source.
Planning and engineering continues. Estimates of the cost and financing of any prospective system are still months away and will depend not only on the development and construction cost, but on how much the State will subsidize and what kinds of loans and grants are available. The CSD’s website (avcsd.org/watersewer.php) is being updated with relevant documents as they are released over the next year and a half or so for both the water system, and the sewer system planning that is expected to follow closely after. Details about the water system planning so far are at: http://www.avcsd.org/docs/BP170515.pdf
THE UPCOMING AV AMBULANCE MERGER with the Community Services District is moving along as planned. There is some chance that the merger could be effective as early as July 1, but it could also be delayed some number of months depending on how the transition plays out. There are a few straggling issues such as the fire department needing a "provider number" so they can receive Medi-Cal and Medicare reimbursements, piddling as they are. This administrative process could take several months. Meanwhile, the existing Ambulance Service operation will continue in a reduced form to keep the reimbursements flowing as they transition to an fundraising foundation structure after the merger.
THE FIRE DEPARTMENT is in the process of procuring a brand new customized water tender for downtown Boonville which is expected to cost upwards of $200K. They money will come from money that was previously allocated to a new fire engine after they found a used one from the State’s Office of Emergency Services for substantially less money. That saved money will be supplemented by strike-team reimbursements from recent years and donations from the Volunteer Firefighters Association.
CELEBRATE 46 YEARS OF SAVING—AND EATING SALMON on July 1, 2017
The World’s Largest Salmon Barbecue in Fort Bragg’s Noyo Harbor on Saturday, July 1 is more than just a day of free live music, a plate of salmon and trimmings and great microbrews and local wines.
The Salmon Restoration Association presents the 46th annual events to raise funds to do everything possible to save the Coho salmon population and related species in our coastal streams and waterways. Stream restoration projects, biological surveys, and support for key environmental educational programs, are all projects funded by your dinner ticket money.
It is the biggest and best event of the summer on the coast. Your $30 ticket buys a giant plate of salmon, salad, corn on the cob and garlic bread. The wild caught salmon is prepared with a special, “secret” marinade and barbecued to perfection. You can enjoy a selection of award-winning microbrews from North Coast Brewing, Fair Trade coffee from Thanksgiving Coffee and Barefoot wines. Local Cowlicks ice cream can top off your meal.
Your afternoon will be filled with great live music from Earl Oliver, the Coastal Rangers, Highway One, and Steven Bates and Friends. Dance with your family and friends, and maybe with some you have never met.
After dark there will be fireworks over the Noyo River Bay.
There will be lots to do all weekend, including the world-famous and often wacky Mendocino Village parade at noon on July 4.
Hundreds of volunteers make the barbecue possible each year with dozens provided by each service club, including the Fort Bragg Rotary Club, the Fort Bragg Soroptimist Club and the Fort Bragg Knights of Columbus. Businesses like Harvest Market, State Farm Insurance, Fort Bragg Feed and Pet, North Coast Brewing, Thanksgiving Coffee and many others contribute.
Most of the 3000 plus people who attend the World’s Largest Salmon Barbecue each year make a special trip to do so, most from the North Bay and Sacramento Valley areas. We have repeat visitors every year from Gridley, Colusa and many more small towns. There are some families who have come to every single SRA Barbecue and have the commemorative T-shirt collection to prove it!
The event was started in 1971 by commercial fishermen, hoping to find ways to restore declining salmon populations and has been a fixture in Fort Bragg ever since. At that time, all the salmon for the BBQ was caught and donated by local fishermen and the commercial party-boats. The past few years the salmon is purchased from a local Noyo Harbor business, Caito Fisheries, which obtains the fish from northern providers where salmon is still plentiful.
SRA is working hard with regional environmental and government agencies to try to restore the local stream habitats to a condition optimal for the spawning salmon to return to lay their eggs, and the young to hatch and grow before returning to the ocean to feed and grow to maturity. In addition to actual in-stream habitat restoration, important biological surveys of a variety of species are done.
During the early years of logging on the Mendocino coast, most of the local streams and rivers were scoured smooth and the erosion from the clear-cut hillsides filled the streams with silt and decaying debris. These conditions made reproduction extremely difficult for the Coho “tribes” of the Mendocino coast. As a result, the salmon runs of 20,000 – 30,000 fish per season per stream are now down to under 1,000 fish each, and some years none.
If the spawning streams can be restored to something like the original condition with deep pools, clear gravel beds and shallow rapids, the Coho population has a chance to increase greatly. Restoring habitat will also improve conditions for all the other plants and animals which depend on the stream habitat as well. And the fishermen of the coast will once again be able to work in our local waters, and someday, the diners at ”World’s Largest Salmon Barbeque” can, once again eat local salmon!
SRA also supports the School of Natural Resources program at Mendocino High school which has inspired and prepared many young women and men for careers in the environmental sciences. And we hope to support a similar program at Fort Bragg High School in the future.
Learn more about the past and current projects SRA supports, and lots more information at our website www.salmonrestoration.org.
Tickets are $30 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under.
Advance adult tickets are $25 and can be purchased before 5 PM on June 30 at Harvest Market in Fort Bragg and through our Website www.salmonrestoration.org.
Free parking and shuttle service are provided from the Mendocino College parking lot to South Noyo Harbor from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
42 POETS IN MENDOCINO
Lively numbers! The 42nd Anniversary Mendocino Spring Poetry Celebration, in its 12th annual revival, hosted 42 poets on Sunday, May 14, at The Hill House in Mendocino.
It was 42 years ago that Sharon Doubiago organized a seminal three-day marathon of poetry in Mendocino town, and some of those participants continue writing here. Morover, the annual revival has attracted a diversity of poets from the north counties and beyond.
Poets reading were Charles Moton, Bill Churchill, Joe Smith, Sondra Sula, Jay Frankston, Priscilla Comen, Marylin Motherbear Scott, Bill Bradd, Roberta Werdinger, Oasis, Kirk Lumpkin, Ricardo Stocker, Zia Cattalini, Mary Rose Kaczorowski, Gordon Black, Jacquelin Cisper, Lauren Sinnott, Dan Roberts, Gregory Sims, Mark McGovern, Maureen Eppstein, John Fletcher, Tara Sufiana, Janet DeBar, ruth weiss, Bill Baker, Scott Croghan, Larry Fuente, Janferie Stone, Michael Reidell, Austin Rowlader, Irene Malone, Jamie Armstrong, Crawdad Nelson, Debra Starke, Dan Hess, Mary Clare Sukki, Sam Edwards, Zida, Virginia Sharkey, Sherry Bell, and David Partch.
The annual marathon moved in four-minute presentations, once in the afternoon, with a break for town and headlands, and once again in the evening. Past and present Poets Laureate of Ukiah attending were Jabez Churchill and Michael Riedell. Reading from his newly published Continent of Ghosts, from Wild Ocean Press, was Bill Bradd. Free monthly poetry writing classes on First Wednesdays at the Fort Bragg Library were announced by librarian and poet Dan Hess. David Partch set the celebratory mood with guitar and vocals.
The event producer was Gordon Black. The poems were recorded by Dan Roberts for broadcast on KZYX&Z through coming weeks on Dan's program of music and poetry, Rhythm Running River, heard from 2:00 to 4:00 PM on alternate Sundays, and sung to the world on the Web from kzyx.org.
We hope to see and hear you next year at the 13th Annual Revival of the Mendocino Spring Poetry Celebration!
(— Gordon Black)
ACCORDING TO ITSELF, "Press Democrat wins 15 awards in state newspaper contest"
- Most puff pieces on wine industry
- Most quarter-page photos of "cute" dogs
- Most photos of "cute" children
- Most front page photos of cute children running through sprinklers
- Most photos of wine bottles
- Most photos of vulgar, florid-faced rich people drinking wine
- Most columns by editors about their pets
- Most photos of kittens
- Most editorial statements of the obvious
- Most delusional assumptions per "news" story (Sonoma County is rural)
- Most space devoted to food
- Most celebrations of florid-faced rich people eating food
- Most wine stories with no mention of labor
- Most stories about "celebrities"
- Most press releases disguised as news
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “I asked these guys to take a picture of me running through a sprinkler so I can get on the front page of the Press Democrat. I can see it now: "Breaking News just in from Boonville. Little Dog cools off on a hot Sunday!"
MENDO IN THE MOVIES
Philip Marlowe to addict/perp in ‘Smart Aleck Kill’:
“You keep takin’ that stuff and they’ll throw you into Mendocino for the cure - cold turkey!” [Worse, they’ll ship you to Lake County and no one will ever hear from you again (it’s a really BIG lake)!]
CATCH OF THE DAY, May 21, 2017
JULIAN ARMAS JR., Ukiah. Unspecified offense.
BRET BENGSTON, Ukiah. Parole violation, burglary tools, controlled substance, paraphernalia. (Frequent flyer.)
RACHEL BUSELLI, Beverly Hills/Ukiah. Drunk in public.
CLAYTON CHADWICK, Hopland/Ukiah. DUI.
JIMMIE CLARK, Penngrove/Fort Bragg. Battery.
MATTHEW DOYLE, Oakland/Ukiah. Drunk in public.
CHARLES FERRANTO, Hopland. Drunk in public.
SAMANTHA FRANK-GROSSMAN, Willits. Failure to appear.
MICHAEL KING, Fort Bragg. Failure to appear.
JEREMIAH LUNA, Ukiah. Petty theft, battery on peace officer, probation revocation.
ANTHONY MCCOY, Ukiah. DUI.
MICHAEL MENDEZ, Ukiah. Drunk in public, protective order violation.
MICHAEL OLVERA-CAMPOS, Ukiah. Drunk in public, smoking-injecting device, probation revocation.
ANTHONY ROJAS, Ukiah. Domestic battery, probation revocation.
“THE STRUCTURES OF EVERYDAY LIFE” as a Book I Can’t Live Without
Fernand Braudel’s illuminating history of quotidian objects and practices, from coffee drinking to slacks.
by Paul Theroux
Have you ever wondered where coffee came from and when people in Europe began to drink it—or tea, or chocolate? Or when men began to wear trousers rather than a robe? Or why the Arabs plundered Africa for slaves and honey and ivory? Or why women’s fashion, changing from year to year, is so attractive and necessary to our aesthetic sense? Or how early Polynesians navigated the Pacific? And by the way, when did people in Europe stop eating with their hands (which Montaigne says he did most of the time) and begin using an amazing implement called a fork (hint: it was not that long ago). Why was the New World so important to European cuisine—specifically, when did maize, potatoes, chocolate enter their diet, and when did tomatoes appear in Italian sauce?
I used to wonder out loud, and then one of my sons suggested I read Fernand Braudel’s The Structures of Everyday Life. He had come across it while studying for a history exam in England. I bought it, I could not put it down, I read it for pleasure, I keep it close to verify the realities of the world.
Don’t be frightened by the fact that this is the first long volume of a three-volume work entitled Civilization and Capitalism from the 15th to 18th Century, or that Braudel’s other masterpiece is the two-volume The Mediterranean in the Age of Philip the Second (which he wrote in a German prison camp). The titles are daunting, the books themselves are wonderful—brilliant in their insights and research, written with intelligence and wit, and providing the education you mistakenly believed you had.
The Structures of Everyday Life provides answers to all those questions about the world that demonstrate the ingenuity, the opportunism, the bravery, the imagination, and the salesmanship of people throughout the world in the centuries under discussion; the great shifts in civilizations, the changes in tastes and ideas, the innovations and fatuities.
Besides answering all those questions above, Braudel deals with energy, fuel, transportation, printing, and warfare—the whys, the hows. And he discusses the formation of villages and towns, the creation of cities—cities are a fairly recent phenomenon in the world. Braudel sees cities as generators of ideals and inventions, but also problematical.
Looking closely at the past is a way of discerning the future. This book is essential, but it also felicitous in style and well-informed. It is a particular satisfaction to me that much of it is based on the first-hand observations of travelers plodding along in the wider world.
(Paul Theroux’s latest book is the novel Mother Land.)
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
A couple of months ago I was walking through a large crowd toward the art museum when an elderly woman bumped into me and started making conversation. Since she seemed so intent on talking I asked her if she would like to pop into the cafe across the street and that I would pay (she also looked to be a bit down on her luck as a result of a fixed income in an area of rising rents.)
Anyway, as we began to talk she told me she used to model at the Art Student’s League about ten years ago and I suddenly realized that I had painted her at one point. We began to discuss some of the instructors and student’s names and boldly enough, she brazenly told me how she would position and reveal herself to the painters she considered attractive. Based on that comment I tried to recall if she ever gave me a full frontal view but I could not recall. Since she was talking brave and bold, I came out and asked if at her age she still had a desire for sex. She told that indeed she did and furthermore confessed that it was a problem that clouded her judgement. I don’t know why but at this point, for right or wrong, that familiar siren and strange radar went off in my head: Stalker.
I supposed I have learned via hard experience that sometimes ‘you just have to let them pass on by’.
What started off as sort of serendipitously sensuous turned rather cool. And yet I still felt sorry for this old woman of 74, living on a fixed income and in what I was told was a rougher section of town. And to compound my sympathy, I could very clearly tell that her memory was failing.
As our gathering was coming to a close, I realized that I had painted this woman’s portrait at some point and that I was sure I still had it. Before leaving I asked her if I could give her some money just because I felt like it. I could tell that she was crying and she accepted my offer so I gave her thirty bucks.
I also asked, since she was obviously lonely and socially isolated, if she would like to visit the museum the next Sunday at the same time. She seemed very eager and kept repeating the time to herself so as not to forget–she didn’t have any hi-tech gadgets or even a pen and paper. She assured me that she would remember and I said, “good, I also have something I want to give to you.”
Well next Sunday came and after a full week of processing this strange meeting I really wasn’t that excited about going but the thought of standing up this lonely woman was just too cruel to ponder and live with and so I went.
I must have waited for a good hour for her to show but she never did. I wrote it off to her memory or perhaps she just decided she would rather not. I sort of laughed and felt a bit sad all at the same time. Her portrait was going home with me, forever turned to the wall and never to be seen again.
GLOBAL STUDY SHOWS AMERICANS DYING FROM PREVENTABLE CAUSES AT SHOCKING RATES
FORT BRAGG FIRES, Part 3
Vincent J. Sisco: Willy Loman as Arsonist
by Mark Heimann & Bruce Anderson
If the fire roars there will be a quarrel in the family.
* * *
Vince Sisco began his working life in Stockton where he and other members of his family ran bars and restaurants, most famously in the old Stockton Hotel. He enjoyed a certain success in the business early on and, by 1970 when he arrived in Mendocino County, Sisco was in his early 40's. He soon earned a reputation for deals whose wheels came off.
"The guy never quite had enough money to do what he wanted to do," one of many former business associates recalls. "He wanted to be successful in the restaurant business but he could never quite pull it off."
Sisco had worked hard all his life; his worst enemies concede that. But by the time the lean, chain-smoking, "hyper" businessman with the ill-fitting hair piece arrived in Mendocino County he was already in his forties and still using other people's money in pursuit of his dream to become the Toots Shor of the North Coast. A Ukiah man who remembers Sisco from the time described him as "Fredo, in the Godfather movie."
Always good at borrowing money, and even better at obtaining insurance, Sisco bought a house in Redwood Valley and opened up a trio of restaurants --The Pomo Inn, Del Vecchio's and The Lido.
It was at the Pomo Inn, the historic Victorian-like hotel in Hopland, now known as The Thatcher Inn, that Sisco was able to make the business connections which would serve him so well for the next two decades.
In the '70's the Pomo Inn was not the lovingly restored showcase hotel it is today; it was badly in need of a major makeover. Still, the old place had the gracious elegance of a bygone era, and through a combination of astute management and a quick face lift for the structure's facade, Sisco was able to turn the Pomo Inn's mahogany bar and comfortable ground floor into the place to be for Mendoland's movers and shakers. The gregarious Sisco recognized the advantage his well-healed clientele might offer him, and, to make sure he stayed close to their ample pocketbooks, Sisco founded the Cannibal Club, a men's social society whose members Sisco would tap over the years to keep his various Mendocino County restaurants afloat. The Pomo Inn is where the Cannibals gathered.
All Sisco's restaurants did well. He knew the food and drink business. In 1970, Sisco bought into Ukiah's famous Palace Hotel, parlaying his fresh successes with Del Vecchio's and the Lido, and the contacts he'd made through the Cannibal Club, into an attractive-enough credit reference to buy the Palace from a pair of East Indian immigrants named S.G. and Deviven Bhatka, although the crumbling Ukiah landmark was primarily the property of a respectable old Ukiah family by the name of Sandelin.
Sisco's purchase of the Palace occurred in September of 1970, but a month before he bought in he managed to borrow $15,000 from the D.O. Razi Investment Company using the Palace as collateral. Several times over the next few years, Sisco was able to borrow money on property he didn't own.
Sisco quickly resuscitated the Palace Hotel using the same formula which worked so well at the Pomo Inn, bringing the bar and restaurant back to life, complete with many of the bar's original fixtures, including a magnificent painting of Black Bart which had hung over the bar for a hundred years. (That painting and the more valuable fixtures disappeared two owners later. A man by the name of Ed Karsch absconded with everything of value from the Palace, including the hand-crafted stairway bannisters. In one go, Karsch robbed Ukiah of many of the artifacts of its history.)
There was an "accidental" fire at the Palace on November 26th, 1974. The cause was attributed to a spark from a cutting torch which was being used to remove the hotel's boiler after it had been red-tagged by Ukiah's building inspector. The spark managed to find its way from the boiler room to some cardboard boxes stored in the back of Empire Office Supply (later King's Office Supply) which was also housed on the hotel's ground floor. Sisco came out ahead on the insurance settlement, but was then sued by Empire Office Supply for the fire damage done to their store.
Downtown Ukiah in 1970 was desperate for a comfortable place to have a drink and enjoy a lunch or dinner; Sisco's rejuvenation of the Palace was widely applauded. The nearby County Courthouse supplied a lucrative customer base for the revived bar and restaurant. From the day Sisco opened its long-closed doors the Palace became a virtual Courthouse annex.
The busy bar and restaurant must have looked like a magic purse to the local money people who also ate and drank there. Sisco wasted no time loading the business with $280,000 of debt in three separate loans he magically negotiated in a mere 45 days. The man's ability to talk otherwise cautious bankers and investors out of money was truly remarkable.
There was another fire upstairs in the Palace Hotel on the 21st of September, 1978. The Ukiah Fire Department did a miraculous job in confining the blaze to one floor. The hotel part of the old building had become a sort of welfare shelter in a sweetheart public/private arrangement Sisco had arranged with the county's Department of Social Services.
A mentally disturbed man named Arnold J. Stein had piled up newspapers in the corner of room 75 and lit them. Sisco was not the legal owner of the Palace by then. Peter Wells, who still owns the successful Albion River Inn, was owner of record. But Sisco was owed mortgage money by Wells, and the Palace was failing. An effective fire would bail everyone out but, unfortunately for all concerned, the arsonist, if that's what he was, was incompetent. Stein was soon judged to be officially crazy, but there were rumors -- inevitable perhaps given Sisco's unique proximity to timely fires -- that Stein wasn't that crazy.
Sisco would have done very well indeed if the entire Palace Hotel structure -- nearly a square block of central Ukiah -- had gone up because, like many of the fires in his arson-punctuated business career, the ancient hotel, badly in need of expensive structural rehab, was worth more in ashes than it was up and running as a flea bag with a nice restaurant and bar on its ground floor, and a couple of paying businesses on its School Street side.
Sisco would seem to be perennially unlucky in his selection of Mendocino County arsonists. Unable to destroy the Palace at a profit large enough to fund his vision of himself as Mendocino County's Mr. Night Life, in 1977 Sisco sold the Palace Hotel to Peter Wells, an enterprising British immigrant, for some $400,000. Wells was the owner of record for only 90 days before he sold the Palace to Pat Colletto, now famous as the owner of the Star's restaurant chain and other upscale eateries; a louche figure named Fred Baker also had an interest in the place. Baker, at the time of his fleeting Palace venture was described by an acquaintance as a drug dealer and pimp.
Wells was briefly partners with Colletto and Baker but didn't make money on the Palace Hotel. Wells thought his partners' plans too ambitious for Ukiah and bailed out. Colletto and Baker managed to secure low interest Historic Preservation loans for the Palace, but rather than doing the structural repair work necessary to make the building's unreinforced masonry earthquake-safe, the SF entrepreneurs did a purely cosmetic make-over and pocketed most of the government-backed loan money, which they then used to fund more promising projects.
After World War II, the Palace Hotel turned a "profit" mainly through insurance and loan scams, and, in the case of Ed Karsch, the theft of the historic structure's contents for cash re-sale as antiques.
The ghostly old wreck of a hotel has been empty for more than ten years now, posing a serious danger to the downtown area in the event of a major earthquake. Wells emerged from the wreckage of the Palace with enough money to parlay it into a federal low-interest Community Development loan with which he scooped up the Albion River Inn, expanding it to where it is now among the most prosperous tourist stops on the Mendocino Coast. The decrepit old Palace lived on as a cash cow.
But with Vince Sisco, there was never quite enough money. Sisco tapped everyone he could for more and even installed a state-of-the-art hydroponic marijuana garden in his Redwood Valley home to boost his working capital. Still not enough.
How did Sisco, who'd only been in Mendocino County for a couple of years, manage to keep so many fiscal balls in the air? By kiting loans and real estate, it appears. Borrow on what you've got, or appear to have, to pay off, or make a payment or two, on the previously obtained loan or mortgage. Keep the payments on the more pressing debts somewhat current to give the appearance of solvency.
Sisco was able to get money from the Savings Bank, and other unwitting lenders, because prominent individuals--many of them members of Sisco's low-rent Rotary, the old boy's Cannibal Club--vouched for him. Moreover, the Ukiah establishment was eager to see the Palace up and running again because downtown Ukiah was dying.
The younger Ukiah entrepreneurs included young lawyers and bankers who became quite friendly with Sisco, as Mendocino County, by the middle 1970s, was awash in the white powder which made the young lions even more energetic if not more sensible. Sisco always had plenty of cocaine, and it was cocaine that brought low many promising young men and women up and down the Northcoast.
In 1976, Sisco, by then in a tense, mutually suspicious partnership in Ukiah's bunker-like Lido Restaurant with Ukiah attorney and former Ukiah High School football star, Patrick Finnegan, decided to branch out.
Sisco and Finnegan leased the lucrative Wharf restaurant in Fort Bragg's Noyo Harbor from the legendary Jim Cummings, a man who had seldom lost money in his multitude of enterprises and real estate holdings he ran out of his nondescript combination home and office down in the harbor. By the early 1970's, Cummings was into the bar and restaurant business himself, most notably a lively place called the Anchor Inn and, more successfully, a larger, tourist-oriented restaurant in the Noyo basin called The Wharf. Cummings leased the Anchor to a series of managers but was omnipresent at The Wharf. Cummings did a lot of cash business -- an awful lot.
The Anchor was known locally as "the roundhouse" because of its distinctive curved design. One of its more popular bartenders kept a big jar of pep pills behind the bar for her preferred customers, and the place did a big bar business -- live music weekends, lots of young people, lots of alcohol, and lots of chemicals to prolong the fun. The Anchor burned to the ground in 1975, well before the famous fires more than a decade later, and it wasn't until Sisco got Agostinos going up on the north cliff above the Noyo's mouth that the young and the restless had a night spot as lively as the Anchor. The eccentric Cummings didn't have insurance on the Anchor property and never got around to replacing the structure, although for years stacks of materials lay scattered around the charred site as if the much missed sin center down in the harbor would one day reappear for another round of good times.
The new boys in town, boys like Sisco and friends, couldn't help but see the odd business practices of many of Fort Bragg's old timers. Uninsured buildings? Cash transactions? A pliable city council? An eager city manager in the puppy-like Gary Milliman? To the sharpies from Stockton and Sacramento, Fort Bragg seemed like Sutter's Mill the day before gold was discovered.
Sisco's Ukiah partner, the tragic Finnegan, would crash and burn on white powder a few years later, but before he did he and Sisco agreed to pay Cummings 10% of the Wharf's annual gross for the business, which was a pretty large sum of money considering the place did a strong year-round business even before the tourist hordes began arriving year-round a few years later. What the two boys from over the hill in Ukiah paid for the Wharf -- Cummings owned the building housing the restaurant and bar -- or where they got the money for it isn't known, but both of them had that uncanny ability to come up with hunks of cash just when they needed them most. And then as now, there's only one Mendocino County business that deals in large amounts of cash money -- the dope business, and dope money was all over Mendocino County by 1976.
Jim Cummings had run The Wharf himself for several years. He knew how much Sisco and Finnegan were making at the restaurant and it was far less than the amount they told Cummings they were making. Cummings knew Sisco was cheating him. Finnegan also soon suspected Sisco was cheating him too.
Cummings and Finnegan were right; both of them were being robbed on a daily basis because Sisco was at the Wharf's cash register while Cummings was busy in a multiplicity of his own hard currency enterprises down the street. And Finnegan was still practicing law over the hill in Ukiah.
Down in Noyo Harbor, Sisco's and Finnegan's Italian-Irish alliance was soon on the ecumenical rocks. Ruth Johnston, a bookkeeper and all-round Sisco gofer who filled in wherever Sisco told her she was needed, and whose devotion to Sisco would cost her her life savings, told Sisco that Finnegan had withdrawn $35,000 from the Wharf's checking account. Apparently Finnegan had decided to get paid one way or another so he just took what he figured Sisco owed him. The old quarterback was running up big white powder bills while he supported an array of investments far beyond his capacity to earn money to support them. But Sisco and Finnegan, like an exhausted couple a week into a dance marathon, stumbled on together, each going deeper and deeper into debt.
Sisco liked Fort Bragg even if Fort Bragg was wary of him. What he seemed to like most about the town was what he accurately perceived as an ample population of ethically flexible persons at the power levers, all of them existing in a county whose dominant institutions seemed just as flexible.
On September 9th 1978, Sisco's new home at 2220 Burrows Ranch Road, just north of Fort Bragg, went up in flames. Records from the Palace Hotel and The Wharf were said to be stored in the house, although Sisco had not yet moved in. It was an arson fire — rags and gasoline. Authorities knew almost at a glance that Sisco's new home had been deliberately torched. The house was heavily insured, of course, and Sisco was said to have come out ahead because he still owed the contractor for the construction of the place.
After the fire, a Fort Bragg man named Dan Brotherton told the Mendocino County Sheriff's Department that Sisco had recruited him to burn The Wharf's financial records because Jim Cummings wanted to see them. Nobody ever cheated Cummings for very long, and Sisco knew Cummings would quickly figure out that Sisco had been under-reporting The Wharf's proceeds on which Sisco's rent to Cummings was based. But Brotherton turned the records -- a half-dozen boxes of them -- over to the Sheriff's Department where they still languish. The disabled Brotherton, is a familiar sight around Fort Bragg, scooting about downtown in a motorized wheel chair. He's also a registered sex offender, his reputation as a multifaceted community menace now solidified by Megan's Law, the statewide public roster of child molesters.
A month after Sisco's new house north of Fort Bragg went up in flames, Patrick Finnegan bought Sisco out of The Wharf, selling Sisco's share of the business to Tom Wisdom, an honest Fort Bragg businessman who still operates The Wharf. (When the first competing restaurants in and above the harbor began to burn in 1986 and '87, Wisdom often spent uneasy nights trying to sleep in his new Wharf business, guarding it against the arsonists who were said to have a list of places to burn with The Wharf a priority target.
Wisdom's integrity seemed to irritate Bill Dunham, the Savings Bank's Fort Bragg manager who would arrange the impossible mortgages which ultimately worked to the advantage of Dominic and Mario Affinito, the next wave of new guys in town. Wisdom was not into drugs, didn't drink, didn't cheat on his wife, didn't tap the till -- the bad guys couldn't get anything on him, and they couldn't get The Wharf away from him. With Wisdom making money at the ever-popular Wharf Restaurant down in the harbor, the restaurants up on the bluffs that Dunham and the Savings Bank of Mendocino had financed, could not make their mortgage payments.
By the time Jim Cummings and his lawyer, Bob Petersen, could get Sisco to agree to let them have a look at The Wharf's receipts, Sisco told them his business records had unfortunately gone up in flames in what Sisco described as the "tragic" Burrows Ranch Road fire. It could never be proved, but at least one neighbor remembers seeing "antiques" being removed from Sisco's new home a few days before the fire.
After Finnegan bought out Sisco's share of The Wharf down in Noyo Harbor, Sisco set up shop with the Del Mar West in downtown Fort Bragg, just up Oak Street from the popular Piedmont Hotel. The Piedmont had been a Fort Bragg landmark since 1914. It featured a beautiful old bar, a restaurant justly famous for fine, multi-course meals at reasonable prices, and was the place in Fort Bragg to take the family out for a meal in wholesome, comfortable surroundings.
The Del Mar West up the street was a bar whose regulars tended to be a little rough. Sisco, a man who yearned for respectability, envied the Piedmont. Other newcomers to the town's restaurant and bar business who were a lot savvier and far more lushly capitalized than Sisco, also envied the success and solid reputation enjoyed by the Piedmont.
The Del Mar West, since become the Ship's Wheel, was popular with young people, especially young people who walked on the wild side, and there were lots of young people walking on the wild side by 1980, and these young people were mostly unaware that the fun-loving older guys from out of town who were running the Coast's fun spots were very dangerous people.
Among the Del Mar's regulars was a loosely organized Fort Bragg motorcycle club who called themselves the Gladiators. They were local tough guys who liked to drink beer, toot cocaine, fight, and roar around town on their bikes. They hung out at the bar and would become the pool from which Sisco fished for recruits for felony-level crimes, including arson, drug dealing, the fencing of stolen goods, and odd-job thuggery.
No one could ever figure out why she was with a man old enough to be her father, but Sisco's girl friend at the time was an attractive young woman named Cecilia "Ceil" Larkin. The personable Ceil was popular with many of the bar's regulars who'd known her since childhood. She was also a hard worker who often seemed to be running the place by herself. These days, long past whatever it was that impelled her to depart the straight and narrow, Ceil won't talk about life with Vince.
Sisco had that effect on people; folks would just as soon forget they ever knew him. Even his daughter, Sandra Tonstad, wants to obliterate the memory of her larcenous father. "I don't know if he's dead or alive, and I don't care," she says.
It was a wild time those two decades beginning in 1970 or so. There were lots of bars on the Mendocino Coast where the regulars and the staff stayed on after last call to snort the bracing powders distilled from Colombian cocoa leaves laid out in white lines on the bar. After hours coke parties were a staple of the Coast's night life from 1970 through the middle 1980s.
But hard drugs had been oddly ubiquitous in Fort Bragg clear back to the late 1950s. Drug use wasn't new to the area, but there were lots of new drug users in the area with the arrival of several thousand hippies beginning in 1967 or so.
Why were drugs so prevalent in Fort Bragg? Some people say big shipments of dope of all kinds have been brought in through Noyo for many years. Other people say Noyo as a dope entrepot is silly because "there are so many busy bodies down there the cops would know right away if people were bringing dope in by boat." However they got to town, drugs have been easy to find in Fort Bragg for a very long time.
"Why bring drugs into a small place like Noyo when you've got the whole San Francisco Bay clear up into the Sacramento Delta to do it?" is how another indignant Fort Bragg resident puts it when Noyo is described as an aquatic sin city.
Whatever the reason for a half-century of hard drug availability, Fort Bragg has had a thriving population of junkies out of all proportion to its population for many years. Life magazine was so struck by the incongruity of widespread drug use in a small town remote from urban areas that the magazine ran a puzzled cover piece on Fort Bragg in 1959.
Where there are hard drugs, there are harder men selling them. And there are some very hard men on the Mendocino Coast these days.
Although he and Finnegan had parted ways in their Noyo enterprise, The Wharf, on May 18th, 1981, they went into business together in the Lido restaurant in Ukiah, paying Irving and Juanita Styer $326,081.11 for the business and the building housing it. Sisco seems to have used the Del Mar West in Fort Bragg as at least partial collateral to raise the money to buy the Lido, but from 1980 on both his and Finnegan's sources of capital are impossible to trace. Together, the two of them on paper weren't generating sufficient income to buy three hundred thousand dollar businesses, but they now owned the Lido.
Well, they owned the Lido together for a while anyway.
Five months after they bought the Perkins Street restaurant, October 16th, 1981, Sisco signed the place over to Finnegan
Finnegan, deep into cocaine, lasted a couple of years at the Lido, but by January of 1984 the place was on the trustee auction block.
In August of 1981 Sollini's restaurant, where Dominic Affinito's disputed North Cliff Motel now stands, was badly damaged by fire. The Sollini's decided not to rebuild. But Sisco, who'd sold an agreement to Tom Wisdom not to compete in the restaurant business within ten miles of Noyo Harbor where Wisdom had taken over The Wharf restaurant, managed to persuade his daughter, Sandra Tonstad, to front a new restaurant for him on the north end of the Noyo Bridge at the site of the old Sollini place.
The Sollinis didn't like Sisco; they'd already refused to sell their place to him. They were shocked when they sat down in the Fort Bragg office of attorney Tom Lonergan to sign over their restaurant to Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Tonstad, and there was Vince Sisco sitting there like he owned the place which, of course, he did.
Mrs. Tonstad denies that her father was present at the signing. Mrs. Sollini says Sisco was there. In any case, Mrs. Sandra Tonstad-Sisco now owned Sollini's on the north cliff overlooking the mouth of the Noyo River.
In April of 1982 Mrs. Tonstad-Sisco obtained a building permit to rehab Sollini's, which she and her father would soon rechristen and operate as Agostinos until Agostinos was closed by a timely arson fire in 1986. The Tonstads and Sisco quickly rebuilt and reopened for business as The Waterfront Bar and Grill with party boy Dunham of the Savings Bank providing the loan money.
Repairs to the fire-damaged old Sollini's restaurant, when Sandra and Bernard Tonstad, fronting for dad, Vince Sisco, first bought the place in 1981, were estimated at a modest $20,000. Sisco, ever the miracle man when it comes to borrowing money and obtaining insurance worth more than the premises and the businesses operating on the premises, hustled up a series of loans from the Savings Bank's Dunham. At the same time Sisco was talking the Savings Bank into loaning him that $140,000 and agreeing to repay it "on demand or by 90 days" at an interest rate of 18.5%, he tapped his bookkeeper, Ruth Johnston, for $5,000 which he deposited with the Savings Bank in the "Palace Hotel Building account." Mrs. Johnston, who never got a penny back of the $50,000 she would loan Sisco -- her life savings -- charitably charged her boss an interest rate of only 10% on the five thousand.
Sisco borrowed the money to buy Sollini's under his own name, but Sandra and Bernard Tonstad were listed as owners.
Bernard and Sandra Tonstad-Sisco agreed to pay the Sollinis $460,000 for their property. Bernard, Sandra and dear old dad then opened for business as Agostinos in the summer of 1982. The deal was $50,000 down, another $25,000 at close of escrow and a 15-year note for monthly payments of $4,871.29 per month at 13% interest. Which is a lot of meals to sell to meet the incurred obligations. If the Sollinis had ever gotten the full amount owed them spread over the agreed upon 15 years of payments, they'd have been paid a total of $876,832.22. But like Sisco's duped bookkeeper, Ruth Johnston, they didn't get anywhere near their $460,000 sales price from Vince Sisco, which probably didn't surprise them since they'd pegged Sisco for a crook the first time they'd laid eyes on him.
Vince Sisco's magic purse was getting a real work out, but he had managed to come up with seed money to buy the Sollinis' place and persuade Tom Wisdom down below in the harbor at The Wharf to accept a promissory note for $75,000 to buy back Sisco's agreement not to compete with restaurants in the Noyo. When Patrick Finnegan discovered that Sisco was trying to sneak back into the restaurant business up on the north cliff using his daughter as camouflage, he confronted Sisco. Sisco told Finnegan he was only the manager of the new place, Agostinos. His daughter, Sandra Tonstad, owned the business, Sisco said. Finnegan, by now long accustomed to his partner's machinations, soon got Sisco to confess that he indeed owned Agostinos. His daughter and her husband were only fronting the place for him.
Sandra Tonstad-Sisco and her husband Bernard, the latter said to be aware that his father-in-law was not exactly the kind of guy he had in mind when he married dear Sandra, guaranteed the promise to pay Wisdom the $75,000 Sisco was paying to buy back the No Compete Contract. The Tonstads put up their house in Sunnyvale as collateral for Sisco's buy-back deal with Wisdom.
At the fiery end of Vince Sisco's serially frantic Fort Bragg maneuverings in the summer of 1987, the Tonstads were totally, bitterly estranged from Dad. They had invested several years of their lives in Agostinos only to see it burn in 1986, rebuilt it and reopened on the same north cliff site as The Waterfront Bar and Grill and suffer another loss when pop's arson crew tried to burn the place again. Mr. and Mrs. Tonstad lost almost all of the money they had when dad, his Fort Bragg businesses collapsed and in ashes, hit the road for parts unknown.
The Tonstads are believed to have also had the bejeezus scared right out of them. "It was a shame, too," said a waitress who'd worked with the Tonstads at Agostinos. "Sandra worked very, very hard. She was there from early in the morning until late at night. I really don't think she and Bernard understood what was going on until it was too late. It was a very scary time."
What was going on is that Sisco was ripping her off too, his own daughter, stuffing cash into his pockets while his daughter slaved away doing the work of the place. No wonder Sandra doesn't care whether her father is alive or dead.
By 1983, the Affinitos were up and running at the Tradewinds on Main Street a couple of blocks from the prospering Piedmont Hotel. The Affinitos had picked up The Tradewinds for $2 million cash. They were also buying up properties all over Fort Bragg, including a two-legged property named Andre Schade, a Fort Bragg City councilman. And they had a pivotal buddy at the Savings Bank, Bill Dunham, himself engaged in a strenuous night life of the type the Affinitos put to good use.
As Dunham and the Affinitos schemed to drive James West out of the Cliffhouse on the south cliff of the Noyo, they cast covetous eyes across the river at Agostinos, which had become The Waterfront Bar and Grill after Agostinos mysteriously burned, and where Vince Sisco was frantically trying to keep the Sollinis, the Savings Bank, his daughter and son-in-law, and goodness knows who, all paid up, with plenty of cash for himself, of course, which is why Sisco always made sure he was either at the cash register or nearby.
The Dunham-Affinito alliance soon drove West into bankruptcy. West, after investing in his state-of-the-art kitchen, and having created a very nice place with an ocean view, couldn't make his mortgage, which Dominic Affinito then picked up for the proverbial song from his buddy at the bank, Bill Dunham. The Affinitos bought the Cliff House for $300,000 after West had completed significant structural work and expensive interior remodeling worth at least that much.
Across the Noyo from Affinito's latest acquisition, Sisco was being buried in debt. By December of 1983, even the Savings Bank had figured out that Vince Sisco owned Agostinos, not his daughter, but it took the bank two more years to get around to suing him.
By early 1985, Sisco was on the ropes. Everyone else in the restaurant business around him was making money while Sisco's old partner, Patrick Finnegan, the Ukiah lawyer and restaurant entrepreneur, who had sunk a small fortune in Sisco-inspired businesses, was veering completely out of control. Finnegan's law practice, newly ensconced in a meticulously restored Victorian at Mill and South State Streets in Ukiah, suffered from Finnegan's increasingly erratic behavior. On January 24th of 1985, a drunken Finnegan careened head-on into a car carrying three Fort Bragg residents heading home on highway 20. Finnegan would later be arrested at the Mexican border near San Diego on a variety of charges ranging from possession of drugs, to flight to avoid prosecution.
Back in Fort Bragg, Vince Sisco also wanted to fly away, but he didn't have money for wings. He was going seriously broke at an age lots of men are thinking about enjoying their retirement.
In 1986, Fort Bragg's restaurants began to burn more often. Vince Sisco and a former employee of the San Mateo County's Coroner's Office, hired the young men who lit the fires, one of those young men may have been murdered, and Dominic Affinito benefitted each step of the way.
Next: Introducing Mr. Peter Durrigan and the other five men who burned Fort Bragg in 1987.
ADVANCEMENTS IN MENTAL HEALTH
by the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), Mendocino
The recognition of mentally ill people as human beings who feel physical and emotional pain can be attributed to one woman in the mid-1800s by the name of Dorothea Lynde Dix. Born April 4, 1802, in Hampden, Maine, she began her life with an abusive, alcoholic, religious fanatic, Methodist minister father. Her alcoholic mother failed to protect her from the abuse causing Dix to escape to her wealthy grandmother’s house in Boston at age 12. Dix is described as an American teacher who began teaching at age 14. In 1821, she opened a school for children of the wealthy, but in her free time she taught the poor, neglected children from her home. Dix is also known as an author of tracts about prisoners, lunatic asylums and memorials to legislative bodies on behalf of the insane.
Prior to Dix, the mentally ill were subjected to inhuman treatment and unimaginable cruelties. Common thought during this dark age was that those who suffered from mental illness were not human, therefore treatment was of little importance to people in the United States and Europe.
Dix had to convince people that these jailed individuals were human beings and their medical condition caused unusual behavior not accepted as normal. The major problem was ignorance and the unwillingness to change long-held ideas and accept the illness as a physical condition, like appendicitis or a broken bone. This lack of education resulted in unwillingness to spend money for care and treatment on the “radical presumption” that it was possible to treat the mentally ill.
It is possible that Dix suffered from depression but was referred to as having a “break down”. Shortly after her second breakdown, upon her doctor’s advice, she went to Europe to rest, and was introduced to what was referred to as lunacy reform.
Dix began to socialize with a group of men and women who discussed and concluded that government needed to be active in social welfare and care for the mentally ill. She met Samuel Tuke, founder of the “York Retreat” for the mentally ill, in England. Dix embraced the ideas her new European friends shared with her, thus began her passion to create change.
After returning to the United States in 1837, her beloved grandmother died leaving her an inheritance which allowed her to devote all her time to charitable work and much needed reforms.
In 1841 Dix volunteered to teach Sunday school classes at the East Cambridge Jail to female convicts. These visits to the jail exposed her to conditions of suffering, horrendous physical abuse, and degradation that women during this time were supposed to be protected from. Dix witnessed the extreme suffering of prisoners being naked and chained to the walls, neglected and forgotten creatures, 0ften not given food or water, left to die in extreme agony, battling the unexplained voices that ravaged their mind. Their screams of pain echoed off prison walls, deafened by ignorance. Most died shortly and if any complained about the conditions, they were insane and without credences. Dix was shocked to see how these human beings were being treated, but more appalling was the absence of their voice to complain. This exposure created a drastic turning point in her life. Driven by anger she spent the remainder of her life attempting to change human conditions and being the voice for the mentally ill.
Her quest began by visiting every prison and house of corrections in the state of Massachusetts. Documenting everything she saw of the severe suffering in a lengthy, detailed report. Because she was a woman and not allowed to be heard in the State house, she had a fellow reformer introduce her report to the legislature. Her report described a woman who tore the skin from her entire body, leaving her grotesquely disfigured with no attempt from anyone to stop her, another prisoner jailed for homelessness and insanity was chained alone in an out building in a room next to where corpses were kept, others being chained in sheds with no heat or beds for so long that they resembled animals. In response the accused denied that she had visited their facility, she had given a false impression or exaggerated the facts. One of the biggest objections from the legislature was lack of funds. She campaigned for endowments from federal land grants which also failed.
Dix did not give up, but continued to educate and change the thoughts and beliefs held due to ignorance. Dix wrote and released to the public reports of her observations and educational papers. She used many tactics to make people see the need for treatment, going as far as to shame publicly those who disagreed. Eventually people began to listen and support her.
One of Dix’s achievements was congress granting more than 12 million acres of land as a public endowment to benefit the blind, deaf and mentally ill, approved by both houses in 1848, only to be vetoed by President Franklin Pierce in 1854.
Thirteen hospitals existed in the U.S. and Europe when Dix recognized the need for change. By 1880 there were 123 hospitals, Dix being solely responsible for 32. Her vigorous lobbying and relentless pursuit of congress is reason for Dix to be credited with the first American mental asylums. How would Dorothea Dix view the absence of progressive thought, 150+ years after she worked so hard lighting the darkness with only a candle. In following the progress of mental health from the time Dix began her fight, until the present, it appears we have regressed back into the darkness when it was common practice to jail a mentally ill, homeless person rather than providing treatment.
Without her there would be no recognition of mental illness, therefore no treatment, or hospitals, or doctors. She has not been recognized or given enough credit for her many important achievements.
Dix lived to be 85 years old, spending every minute consumed with her passion. Her life ended with her residing in one of the back rooms of one of the state hospitals she helped found thirty-five years earlier.
(NAMI Mendocino, P.O. Box 1945, Ukiah, CA 95482, www.namimendocino.org)
BETTER THAN DRINKING BEER
Excellent Green Tara Recitation at KDK this Morning...which I finally arrived at, following a much delayed bus service on account of the Bay 2 Breakers costumed lunacy morning beer pong and occasionally naked spectacle. The Green Tara recitation is performed every Sunday beginning at 10 A.M. for roughly ninety minutes at KDK located at Fell & Clayton in the Panhandle. The Tibetan prayer flags outside mark the spot. Second item: Am now headed to Berkeley for day two of the Himalayan Fair at Live Oak Park. If you wish to interact with me, I will be there for most of the afternoon, probably dancing near the stage. (This is an enlightened alternative to drinking beer, sinking into the depths of despair, and watching sports screens blankly). Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha!! ;-)
Craig Louis Stehr
TRUMP’S THREAT TO LIBERTY, ENABLED BY BUSH AND OBAMA
On Monday, May 22, 2017, at 1 pm, Pacific Time, John Sakowicz and Sid Cooperrider interview Peter Van Buren at the Mendocino Environmental Center on KMEC Radio. Listen at 105.1 FM in Ukiah, CA. You can also listen to the webstream at www.kmecradio.org
Our shows may be distributed to NPR affiliates through the Public Radio Exchange and to Pacific affiliates through Radio4All. Our shows are archived and available for podcasts. Our Youtube channel has been seen by tens of thousands of viewers.
Peter Van Buren is a 24-year veteran of the State Department and author of We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People. He just wrote the piece “What Trump Could Do With Executive Power” for The American Conservative.