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Off the Record (July 11, 2018)

CORRECTION: In our issue of 20 June under Court Notes by Bruce McEwen, the following sentence appears: “Out in the hall I encountered another form of misery, Andrew’s father, who tried to provoke me about, “Did you get anything good?” meaning juicy for the press; little did he know I very nearly shot my own ex and still sometimes wonder if it wouldn’t have been for the best if I had…”

The person referred to as ‘Andrew’s father’ was not John Crowningshield but an anonymous person the writer encountered outside the courtroom. We regret the error and apologize for it to John Crowningshield and his family.

CHRIS SKYHAWK, candidate for 5th District supervisor suffered a nearly fatal stroke on Tuesday, June 26th and was flown out of Fort Bragg to Stanford where he remains hospitalized but improved enough to soon be moved to a rehab facility. Cards and letters can be sent to him at P.O. Box 127, Albion 95410. 

COUNTY COUNSEL KATHARINE ‘KIT’ ELLIOTT is up for a big pay raise, a $15k a year bump from $131k per year to $146k per year. Of course the raise is on the consent calendar, meaning it will sail on by with no discussion of whether or not it’s deserved. Ms. E was hired at $120k a year in March of 2016, bumped up to $131k per year in August of 2017, which is nice pay for farming out a bunch of work to high priced outside law firms and supervising the in-house attorneys who mostly specialize in child custody cases and the County’s entirely overcomplicated pot permit regs. Given the County’s very tight budget with very little Sheriff’s budget overtime, an arguable “soft hiring freeze,” a dubious Probation/Juvenile Hall budget, etc a 12% raise after less than a year?

KEEPING TIME: Recently our wall clock stopped moving. A dead battery. I replaced the battery, set it to the correct time, only to see the minute and hour hands sprint forward thirteen hours; instead of 6:11 p.m. it became 7:41. I set the correct time again, and again the clock sped forward as if chased by the hell hounds of Chronos, this time to 11:12, not 11:11 but close enough to make me wonder. (Of course, I have no idea of the significance of 11:11, but it seems like it should be important.) I repeated this absurd resetting two-step several times, dancing to the music of random time, and even replaced the new battery with a second new battery. Undeterred, the clock continued to march to its own rebel cadence, disdainful of my curses and protestations. Suspecting the traitorous machine was defective, I put it on the counter and glared at it: the insolent appliance jumped a few more random hours. I wanted to walk away but it was too late. Instead of summoning the high-minded Athos, whose aloof chivalry and pretensions to holy violence captivated my boyhood reveries, the clock had provoked my basest, most D’Artagnan-like furies; and once the offended Gascon’s saber is unsheathed, its only succor can be in the sweet bite of villainous flesh, in defense of Maiden, Crown or Honor, as you please. And thus I retreated to the one true modern lord, the internet, for instructions and a battle plan. The clock was a LaCrosse, and on the company website it said, in blunt terms bordering on rudeness, that after replacing a spent battery, put the clock in a window facing the new mecca of Fort Collins, Colorado; within two or three days (1) the clock would reset itself to atomic time. Thirty-six hours later, the clock was back in lockstep with Time. The whole affair nonetheless left me slightly unsettled. If Fort Collins controls Time, then who or what controls Space? Navarro gets my vote, which explains why they call it the Deep End. (ZA)

CALLING MRS. HASCHAK! Will you please ask your husband to up his game? When asked by The Willits News what the most important issue in the runoff campaign is, hubbykins replied, “The most important thing is getting out there and listening to the people and seeing what issues are important to them.” He also said, “I’m going to keep working hard.” 

HASCHAK has been plodding the campaign trail for several months now, presumably “working hard” to get the people’s political pulse. Hasn’t he been listening already? Hasn’t he heard a single specific issue by now that he might be willing to at least raise, or — gasp! — propose to the Board of Supervisors? (We know he mentioned that he’s kinda-sorta against the creation of a Cultural Services Agency, but his recent comments on that were underwhelmingly mild.) The kind of rhetorical chloroform in the typical Hashack public statement is very much like former Third District Supervisor Tom Woodhouse’s complete lack of specifics in his platform when he ran. Woodhouse “worked hard” at not saying anything specific and look what happened to that poor guy.

CORRESPONDENT KATY TAHJA on the Kate Wolf Music Festival: “AKA “Geezer Fest”…one of the performers looked over the crowd and said “This is a few teenagers short of an Elderhostel gathering…” but did we ever have fun. How about a sing-along with Joan Osborne of Bob Dylan’s greatest song with a few thousand folks in the Music Meadow that know every word to every song? Or watching Martha Reeves (age 77) and the Vandellas singing “Dancing in the Streets” while old folks danced up a dust cloud in the twilight. Old favorites like Tom Paxton, John McCutcheon and Dave Bromberg played with Wavy Gravy and his wife of 50 years seated in the shade on the corner of the stage enjoying the music. Nina Gerber was back playing in the background after doing two sets of her own and Joe Craven kept popping up. New discoveries to me that were crowd pleasers were the Infamous Stringbusters and the Ulali Project (First Nations music). Praise goes out to the Myers Flat VFD who were the firefighting team on site. A grass fire started Friday a half mile south of the festival on Highway 101 on the east side of the road. They were on top of it and stopped the spread before formal firefighting strike teams could arrive, much too everyone’s relief. It was hotter than hell and I spent more money on strawberry lemonade (no sugar) than any other food, but without a straw…because a whole carton of their cornstarch based straws melted into a huge glob in the heat…the joys of summer festivals…this was the 15th consecutive year I’ve gone and I would recommend it to anyone who can stand a little heat.” 

RECOMMENDED VIEWING: "Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story." (Netflix) The great movie star of the 40s and 50s possessed such great beauty that her considerable brains were overlooked, nay, dismissed. Among her many gifts, Ms. Lamarr was an inventor of genius. One of her break-through ideas confirmed by her notebooks and several unbiased male colleagues was "frequency hopping," in use everywhere today in everything electronic and valued at about $30 billion, not a penny of which ever accrued to Ms. Lamarr who died broke. A Jewish immigrant from Austria with double incentive to defeat the Nazis, Ms. Lamarr was still young when her invention was adopted by the military to great WWII effect in accurately steering torpedoes to their enemy target, but no credit to her. She led a sad personal life of many marriages and a speed addiction courtesy of Dr. Feelgood, the infamous 60s quack who shot up the rich and the famous, including JFK, with Vitamin B and methamphetamine. Hedy Lamarr died virtually a recluse and penniless.


Our homeless problem has been out of hand for a long time. It predates the fires. If there has been an increase of homeless people in SoCo post-fires, it is probably due to them wanting to come to our area to further exploit resources and take advantage of lawlessness. Go talk to some homeless people, NIMBY’s and liberals. These homeless people aren’t from the area.

I have some good news for Sonoma County. I have two flawless solutions to solve this problem for good.

1). All liberals should voluntarily take one homeless person to live in their house. I will volunteer to deliver a homeless person to any lib willing to open up their as long as they give me their address. I will voluntarily use my own money to pay for the gas to ensure that every last homeless person gets a dignified home (in a liberal’s home). There are 9,000 of them in the county. There are probably 250,000 libs. less than 2.5% of libs need to participate.

2). Now that we have found homes for these homeless people, we can use that positive to solve our illegal immigration problem and put our homeless friends to work. We are all on the same page that illegals do jobs that Americans won’t do. It is 100% because we pay so many Americans to stay at home and not do anything all day, but I just ate a few paint chips, so I am going to think like a liberal and ignore that fact. We can deport all of the illegals picking grapes and put the homeless people to work as grape pickers. I will also volunteer my time and money to drive the illegals back to whichever part of Mexico they came from (including Guatemala and El Salvador)

Dignified homes, dignified jobs. The ball is in your court, liberals.

What is the next problem that you would like for me to solve?

ED NOTE: Versions of this comment are routine among the blowhard sectors of the population, as if homelessness is somehow a liberal project, that libs are enjoying the rising tide of hopelessness all around them. Homelessness has specific causes, none of them "liberal" in origin. (Reagan's dismantling of the state hospital system, for one, was and is a huge factor in putting people unable or unwilling to care for themselves on the street.) But liberals and most conservatives are for getting people housed. The nut of the prob, or at least a big part of the prob, as the mighty ava sees it, is the non-profit mafia that has grown up around homelessness, feeds off it, resists doing anything about it that threatens them, the helping professionals. Right here in Mendocino County we have a midget version of San Francisco where the non-profit axis is so large and influential that "liberal" officeholders are afraid to take them on and, of course, the non-profit czars and czarinas, like the liberal officeholders, are all liberals of the active Democrat type, hence the rightwing windbags pinning the prob on generic liberals although only a sliver of libs, or pseudo-libs are responsible. (Get between a non-profit honcho and a fat homeless grant and you'll find out how "liberal" the non-profit liberals are.) Right here in Mendocino County, as we meet here today, the non-profit axis, supported by the supervisors, are actively avoiding putting into practice the irrefutably sensible homeless recommendations of the expensive consultant the County hired to make those recommendations. And on and on it goes.

MITCH CLOGG WRITES: “I can talk about buying a hotdog for 20 cents and a burger for a quarter, and I'm another old duffer showing off his wrinkles ("Back in MY day..."), so let's try this: President Eisenhower's chief of staff was a worthy man named Sherman Adams. Adams accepted a gift of a vicuña coat from a businessman. (A vicuña is an Andean antelope. Its coat makes very warm and soft fur.) The news got ahold of this info. The businessman was at the time in trouble with the feds. Adams resigned. Ike whined, "But I NEED Sherman Adams!" It was a pitiful moment. Eisenhower was a soldier, not a politician. He was never comfortable as president, but he had an over-developed sense of obligation to country. Adams has been included by historians in the pantheon of "shadow presidents"--men who did much of the governing for the presidents they served. Ike was more interested in golf than the presidency, but that was fine; we didn't need an activist president at that time. It was 1958. The people liked Ike, credited (extravagantly) with winning WW2. A joke ran around D.C. at the time: Two Democrats are talking. The first says "Wouldn't it be terrible if Ike died and we got [then V.P.] Nixon for president?" The other answered, "Wouldn't it be terrible if Sherman Adams died and we got Ike for president?" So they got Ike, and we got the one great thing he gave us as president: the warning from a brilliant soldier, about runaway military expenditures, stoked by the powerful arms makers and the ever hungry congress--the top of the One Percent Pyramid, our invincible Military-Industrial Complex. I was pushing twenty at the time. So that's the whole story. Compare that moment in American governance to this. Sixty little years (and LIFE used to be a dime when it started).”

FROM HUMCO'S KIEM TV: "A group of volunteers are creating partnerships to develop a tiny house village for the homeless. The group is called affordable homeless housing alternatives. Their mission? To bring people in the community a safe, warm, dry, and legal place to rest their heads and improve their lives."

GOOD FOR THEM. In lieu of government action to get people housed, private initiative is probably the only way it will ever happen. Tiny houses were discussed by Mendo's supervisors and promptly forgotten, and of course all the candidates are all for low cost housing, but no supervisor and only one candidate, Pinches, has suggested a practical, doable idea for getting the houseless housed: per Pinches, three trailer parks on three parcels of vacant public land. Do I hear any objections? A chorus of County bureaucrats screams back, "Nope, no can do."

MARK MERTLE, a member of the Measure B Advisory Committee from Fort Bragg, said at the recent meeting of the Measure B Committee, that he'd been convinced that being housed is the most direct path to mental health. Yup, he's right, and wouldn't a portion of the County's $26 million annual mental health budget diverted from wherever it's privatized millions are presently being pissed away on and invested in tiny houses or FEMA trailers be something our supervisors could accomplish? 

CALIBRE, a Scottish made and acted thriller on NetFlix about a couple of city boys who go hunting in the Highlands and.... well, I doubt Scotland's Tourist Board approved this one but it's very well done and plausibly realistic throughout. Recommended Viewing for sure.

IT WAS NICE to see the Press Democrat acknowledge Kym Kemp of the SoHum blog, Redheaded Blackbelt, as the origin of the now widespread story about the rogue Rohnert Park cop "interdicting" dope and dope cash on Mendocino County's stretch of Highway 101. A lot of that interdicted cash and dope is unaccounted for, and the cop primarily involved, Brendon "Jacey" Tatum, is whining about how unfair the accusations against him are: "For 15 years I put my life on the line. I was involved with two shootings and it’s stressful. I have kids and a wife and I just want to focus on my family and be a good dad.” Dude, you volunteered, and you've been handsomely compensated, on and off the books.

ROHNERT PARK seems to have been horning in on Mendocino County's dependably lucrative "interdiction" racket, and how it came to be that this Tatum character felt free to bust people on 101 near Hopland, well on the Mendo side of the county line, remains unknown, but it's doubtful he did it without a wink and a nod from his boss. Tatum was apparently turning in at least part of his booty to the town. Rohnert Park would seem to have a major prob with its command structure, confirming the old cliche about police departments being as honest as the person in charge of them. (Fleshing the cliche out a little it usually explains that if the chief is dirty his best cops will continue clean regardless, as will most of the cops in the department. But the crooked cops and the psycho cops will run wild.)


From where I’m sitting it looks like poverty is wide-spread and increasing. People have to consolidate households to make ends meet. Everybody does seem to be working, but few have full-time jobs and the work available doesn’t pay the bills, so two jobs each has become the norm, with many people working 60 plus hours a week for peanuts. Basically, we seem to be slipping back to the social norms for the working class of 10 hour days, 6 days a week, reminiscent of the 19th century in this country. Roads aren’t being cared for, properties are falling into decay and dissolution, shopping is disappearing. The local mall is turning into a place of nail salons and tattoo parlors and no longer attract a classy clientèle. They’ll manage to hold on for a while, but pretty soon it will close down because those kinds of businesses can’t pay the rent the mall needs to stay in business, and the big department stores are dying. Every time I shop the groceries are more expensive, and taxes haven’t decreased, state and local cities and counties are always crying poor mouth and raising the sales tax, the income tax, the vehicle tax, the gas tax, the tax on everything, Buddy, it’s hard times. You guys can go on and party like it’s 1999, but it wouldn’t take much to light the tinder around here, and then, perhaps the torches and scythes and ropes come out and the peasants are pounding on your door in the middle of the night with demands you can’t meet.

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