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Off the Record (Jan. 15, 2003)

COURT ORDERS, if not strictly enforced by the judge who issues them, can be more dangerous to the parties involved than no court order. In Mendocino County, restraining orders and custody orders are often violated because they're not enforced by the judges who issue them. For instance, a young father I know has faithfully appeared right at the court ordered time at the court ordered site to pick up his children for court ordered visits. Both he and his spouse agreed to the visitation schedule, the judge gave the arrangement his signature. Mom and Dad both had copies of the court order spelling out the conditions of Dad's visits with the kids. Violation of the judge's ukase by either side could result in serious sanctions against the violator.

BUT DAD COMPLAINS "The court order says I’m supposed to get my kids at certain times at certain places, but five times now I’ve showed up when and where I'm supposed to show up but my ex hasn't, and she has full-time custody of the kids. The only way I can prove that I’ve been where I'm supposed to have been at the time I was supposed to be there is if the police will give me a kind of receipt documenting that I upheld my end of the order. The Sheriff’s Department is very good about it. They've given me a printout that says I was in the right place at the right time, but my ex failed to deliver the kids. I have two or three printouts from the Sheriff’s Department, but the Willits Police Department, when the pick-up place has been Willits, wouldn't provide me with a document proving I was there."

THIS YOUNG FATHER has been denied at least five visits with his children because five times his ex has said the children had to be somewhere else and were unable to visit. Or she would unilaterally declare that the kids could only visit dad for part of the weekend because they had something else they had to do. "A lot of people don't realize that dads go to a lot of trouble to get ready for visits with their kids. I sure do; but all the preparations are out the window if I don't get them on time or, worse, I don't get them at all. She's hasn't got the kids to me five times now although the court order spells it all out."

DAD SAYS the cops are sympathetic but are unable or unwilling to intervene because the DA says he can't prosecute minor civil matters because his office is barely treading water keeping up with prosecutions of violent crimes. Which is the grim fact of the matter. The DA has got to prioritize the complaints he acts on because the volume of complaints is so great. An angry woman who deliberately makes it difficult for the father of her children to see them, and does it in flagrant violation of the court order she's agreed to, is not the kind of dispute the DA has the time and the resources to haul into court.

BUT THE JUDGE issuing the custody order and the terms of dad's visits can easily instruct local law enforcement that if it's clear one party to a custody order is flouting it, that person should be cited and forced back into the judge's court to explain why he or she shouldn't do a weekend in the County Jail for contempt of court. But our judges seldom crack down. Some of them never crack down of violations of court orders; the net result is that lots of people simply ignore the restraining orders and custody orders they're theoretically subject to.

THIS PARTICULAR young father has been to court several times to complain that his ex is basically denying him the visits with his children that the Mendocino County Superior Court ordered him to get, and he'll probably have to go to court several more times before it becomes obvious to the judge that the guy is being jacked around by his ex, and that he's got proof in the form of computer printouts from the Sheriff's Department that he's being jacked around by his wife. If court orders aren't zealously enforced by the judges who write them people can wind up dead, as has happened in the very recent past in Ukiah.

LUNCH WITH GLENDA AND MIKE. I hadn't been in Ukiah for months, but there we were, my wife and I, at the terrific little restaurant on South State called Local Flavor about 10:30 last Thursday morning, a full hour and a half before the lawyers and other Courthouse undesirables pack the place for lunch. I hadn't visited Local Flavor for months; Ukiah either, not having had any reason to go over the hill all that time. The last time I stopped by my favorite inland eating place my presence had ignited a psychotic break in Glenda Anderson of the Ukiah Daily Journal who was sitting nearby. "All lies! Lies!" Glenda had screeched in a non-specific walk-by of my table. If I weren't a liberal, and she were a man, I would have pelted her with organic scones.

THAT WAS MONTHS ago. But darned if no sooner than my missus and I walk through the door do we see Glenda again. And she's sitting at the same table with two of the same people! "This is getting creepy," I commented to my wife. "I'm hungry," she said. Glenda or no Glenda we were going eat breakfast. Besides, Glenda was sitting with my old foot racing pal, Vic Crosetti and, I believe, Mrs. Crosetti. The Crosettis enjoy robust mental health. Come to think of it, they may be mental health professionals given Glenda's presence at the same place, same table, same hour, same people. If Glenda went off again, if her meds weren't holding, surely Vic would restrain her. But Glenda was restrained, exiting the restaurant with nothing more than a martyred sigh or two.

ONE OF GLENDA ANDERSON'S functions at the Ukiah Daily Journal is to see to it that no felonious mention of her murderous boy friend, or husband, or whatever Mike Sweeney is to her, ever appears in the pages of any of the four Colorado-based, Media Group newspapers dear Glenda labors for here in Mendocino County. She also ensures that no skeptical mention of the Bari Bombing case appears in the pages of any of the Media Group papers. The same ban applies at the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. I understand that Pete Golis is the PD's chief censor. At KZYX, Mendocino County's bogus public radio station, Bruce Haldane and Annie Esposito watchdog the Bari case while they present crooks like Darryl Cherney, Tanya Brannan, Sweeney as recycler, and Karen Pickett as "news." At KMUD in Garberville/Redway, Estelle Fennell is lead censor for the rolling Bari scam, and at KPFA Berkeley, Dennis Bernstein totes the Bari-ite load. (Bruce Haldane also serves as foreman of the Mendocino County Grand Jury. Haldane, a former captain in the Marine Corps, is assumed to be the first member of a Mendocino County Grand Jury to visit Cuba about which he has reported enthusiastically. Haldane is a good example of the "progressive" as authoritarian, although he has lots of company in Mendocino County.)

THE ENCOUNTER with poor Glenda, prisoner or love, is hardly worth mentioning, and wouldn't be worth mentioning if, only minutes later, just around the corner on West Church, I didn't encounter the bomber himself — Mike Sweeney. This encounter is worth mentioning, I think, although I'll concede that I'm probably one of maybe five people who do.

THE MISSUS had left to run some errands. I was completing an errand in the County Courthouse and had just turned the corner on foot onto Church when, looking up the street, nearly two blocks away, I saw someone heading my way who looked, from a distance, very much like the Northcoast's very own terrorist, the old Maoist demolitions man, Mendocino County's recycled revolutionary, Mr. Mendocino County Solid Waste Management Authority! I had been about to cross the street when I spotted this particular unindicted felon, but how could I pass up the opportunity to get a close-up look at him, a reach out and grab a handful of DNA look? I couldn't, so, slowing my usual cross-country pace to a sort of window shopper's amble, I walked towards the guy in the hope of a meaningful encounter.

SWEENEY DREW CLOSER. He carried a sandwich bag and a take out drink. I wondered if DNA science had destroyed Sweeney's ability to enjoy sit-down restaurant meals for fear someone will buy his DNA-laden dinner plate like Darryl Cherney bought Irv Sutley's dinner fork from the ptomaine diner in Garberville a couple of years ago. Sweeney doesn't seem to know that we've got four DNA samples from him, two of which are with the Oakland Police Department, two of which await testing. (If anyone can provide Meredyth Rinehard's DNA, we sure would like to have it. Ms. Rinehard is a helping professional with the Mendocino County Department of Health. I understand she works out of the Bush Street, Ukiah, office. She was Sweeney's love interest between his explosive marriage to Judi Bari and his long-term liaison with Glenda Anderson. Prior to Bari, Sweeney was married to another former Stanford Maoist, Cynthia Denenholtz. Ms. Denenholtz is a family magistrate with the Sonoma County courts. )

AND THEN my meeting with Mike got very weird, so weird that a young woman on the other side of the street laughed and raised her hands in a kind of mimed interrogatory: "What was that all about?"

THE CLOSER SWEENEY got, the more robotic his gait became. He walked and looked like the most menacing street person imaginable because he was now moving unnaturally fast but his legs were stiff and kicking straight out in a kind of modified goose step. He stared straight ahead, and his face — usually a pasty, unhealthy looking, grayish white — was as blood dark as a Kansas summer storm cloud. If this man, looking like he looked, had been walking towards a bus in Jerusalem, security forces would have opened fire on him! Suicide bombers don't look this nuts!

I WORE my best smile, my welcoming smile, as Robot Man quick-time marched past me. He was so close I could have reached out and grabbed two whole handfuls of DNA! Sweeney's dead eyes stared straight ahead, his robot legs kicked out in a half-Kim Il Sung, his arms swung in cadence with the rest of his oddly moving parts. No exaggeration, and I don't have a mystic bone in my body, and I've known lots of tough guys, guys who have killed people, but this Sweeney person was death itself. I mentally kicked myself for messing with him without a plan, and had to restrain myself from calling out after him, "Mister! I think you need an anger management class!"

LEANING UP against a lamp pole, I watched Mendocino County's recycler march rigidly the rest of the way down West Church. Not once did he look anywhere but straight ahead, and he never did resume a normal gait. Sweeney marched to a spot on the sidewalk opposite the entrance to the building where he maintains an office overlooking State Street whereupon he did a sharp military oblique to the door and disappeared inside. The young woman across the street had stopped in anticipation of whatever peculiar was up between the two men across the street. She gave me the que pasa gesture, then a smile and a shrug, and walked on west.

OF COURSE the sight of my plump jolly face understandably upsets certain people, and of course I understand Mike and Glenda's hostility for me, but it's not as if I'm the only person who thinks Mike's a killer, that Glenda's a love dupe, that Cherney's a crook, that Redwood Summer Justice Project is a rolling fraud, that the federal lawsuit is a front-to-back scam. But if I hated someone so bad that at the sight of him turned my face stroke-black and I was instantly transformed into a drill team zombie, I think I'd do an about face to Bush Street for an appointment with a helping professional, one of whom knows all about the symptoms.

INCIDENTALLY, SWEENEY'S office is in the Lee Harvey Oswald Building at the foot of West Church. One enters on West Church, much of the structure overlooks South State. It offers clear fields of fire to the east, surveillance options in all directions, a couple of fast-exit doors where one wouldn't ordinarily expect them.

A READER WRITES: "I've been reading your paper for a while now;, and generally speaking it's been a pleasure. There's so little out there with an independent perspective that you are sadly almost without competition — the couple other locals are indeed “rags” — but even if there was some competition I suspect you'd still come out on top. Cockbum, von Hoffman, Solomon and your ever- entertaining selection of quotes back up the local news with style.
On the poetry front, the AVA is a mixed bag. Some of the local writings are good and interesting, but others are almost embarrassing to read and truly seem to be filler. I've definitely liked your inclusion lately of well-known poets: Auden, Sandburg, and more recently Elisabeth Bishop, etc.
One poet you might like is an old man now, living somewhere up in Vermont I believe, by the name of Hayden Carruth. His most recent book of poems is Scrambled Eggs & Whiskey, which I think won the National Book Award, for what that's worth. Many of his poems are short enough that they'd do well in your paper's format......"

I LIKE POETRY, always have, especially since figuring out long ago I had no gift for writing it. Believe it or not, I know the diff between good and bad verse. I also know that I've invented a new literary genre — charity poetry, which accounts for the, ahem, uneven quality of that which appears on the pages of this fine publication. I've also recast some pretty good poetry as prose and run it as fillers just to see if anybody noticed; if they did, nobody troubled to complain.

HAVING ESTABLISHED my credentials to the satisfaction of local standards, of which there are none that I know of, I'll say there are very few big shot poets I really like. You can have Hass, Pinsky, most of Milosz, most of Merrill. Of the ones I do like there's Sharon Olds and some of your man Carruth. (Of course he lives in Vermont. Where else?) I like Taslima Nasreen best of all the contemporary poets I've read over the past ten years, but she seems to have disappeared under a blizzard of fatwas. (She's so strong she's even strong in translation.) I like an academic poet named Hirsch, and I like Ferlinghetti very much and am always irritated when he's patronized and dismissed as a "beatnik poet." I've always liked W.C. Williams. Of the furriners, I like Lawrence and a lot of Robert Graves. Mostly though, I go back to our old folks when I need poetry — Whitman, Dickinson, and to the later American poets like Hart Crane and Robert Frost. Unpopular as he is with lefties, I think Tom Wolfe is right about the nugatory effect Seminar Land has had on American lit, prose and poetry, not that Wolfe's novels approach Balzac as he suggested in his famous essay complaining that modern novels weren't about anything but their authors' interior lives. The only novelists I rush to read are Richard Price and Robert Stone. I also buy Nasreen's poetry and Hirsch's poetry, which isn't to say I don't often see random stories and poems I like very much. I think American lit peaked around 1950, but I hear you on this paper's poetry.

RIC DAVIDGE, the Alaska water bag guy, has given up on plans to haul Albion River and Gualala river water to thirsty Southern California. Davidge planned to pipe winter flow from the two Mendo streams into giant rubber bladders out at sea then tug-chug them down the case to parched but cash-flush community water districts. No sooner had Davidge, organized as Aqueous Corporation, said he'd given up on Mendocino County's rivers, he announced he planned to buy water once used by the Simpson Paper Co. pulp mill and by the Samoa Pacific Corp, both of which take (or took) water from a surface well on the Mad River
Samoa Pacific has gone to a new water-saving pulp process, and Simpson closed in the early 1990s. Between them, the two mills used 45 million to 50 million gallons of water per day, but since Samoa Pacific switched its process and Simpson closed, the water intake from their shared Mad River well on the Samoa Peninsula is now between 10 million and 12 million gallons per day. The Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District still must consider Davidge's proposal to tap one of the connections to fill 30 million gallon bags, haul them by sea to the water-short southern areas of the state where he apparently is confident he can sell the water at a profit. Davidge's HumCo proposal has to go through a public process certain to be as hostile to the scheme as the Mendocino County public was when Davidge appeared at community meetings to outline his plans to ship Gualala and Albion river water outtahere.

WHO'S AL KUBANIS trying to kid besides the Ukiah Daily Journal where even the astute K.C. Meadows bought his transparently bogus story? According to the Ukiah attorney and his stenographers at the UDJ, Al, behind the wheel of a red Porsche, was stopped by CHP officer NAME on West Perkins at Hospital Drive Saturday afternoon, January 4th at 3:41pm. Kubanis was pulled over because he wasn't wearing a seat belt and he was speeding. In the Kubanis-UDJ version no sooner had the perennial candidate for DA exited the Porsche to venture so much as a que pasa, the cop told Al to get back in the car or he'd be arrested. Al admits he said, "This is bullshit" out of frustration with what he said was the officer's refusal to explain the reason for the stop. Kubanis also claims that this one tired expletive was the extent of his unruliness.

BUT DARNED if the cop didn't then handcuff Kubanis place him in the back of the arresting officer's vehicle. The Porsche was impounded even though another lawyer who was present offered to take the car for his detained colleague. Kubanis said it cost him $200 to get the Porsche back. Kubanis said he was eventually told that he'd been speeding and that he hadn't been wearing his seat belt. Kubanis says he was driving 5 miles per hour faster than the posted speed limit. He apparently concedes he wasn't wearing his seat belt. But because he didn't get back in his car when the cop told him to, he has also been cited for "delaying, obstructing or resisting" arrest.

ALL OF WHICH Kubanis clearly did. Book him, Dano, and pile on the charges! According to the CHP, and unless their cop is a complete nut case his version of events makes a lot more sense than Al's, Kubanis was belligerent and abusive and had to be directed more than once to get back in his car. The expletive "bullshit" was accompanied by at least one F-word wielded as an adverb. (Mendocino County attorneys do tend to be verbally dysfunctional, which isn't at all odd considering that Mendocino County also supports a non-verbal public radio station complete with non-verbal talk shows.)

KUBANIS also told the Journal he didn't know cops had the authority to order people back into their vehicles! Please, Al, spare us. Kubanis is either adverbing with us or he's even dumber than has previously been assumed. Of course a cop has the authority to order you back into your car, and to resist a lawful order by a peace officer is to suffer the consequences, as any experienced arrestee, including this one, can tell you. But a man who's worked as a defense attorney, an officer of the court, a man sworn to uphold the law of the land, a gentleman of the Mendocino County Bar, a bar renowned for its unimpeachable public and private conduct? A member of that bar who demonstrates such an extravagant public contempt for officers of the law, that man should be maxed out! DA Vroman? Sic him!

WHERE'S MIKE GENIELLA? Back in his office at the Press Democrat's two-person Mendo bureau on North State as of Wednesday. The long-time PD reporter has been on a paid four month leave, resting up for another journalo-tour at the perennially fraught northern front. I'd even say I like the guy if I didn't think it would get him in trouble down at the head office in Santa Rosa where this reporter and this newspaper are regarded as......well, the feeling's mutual. May they spend eternity with nothing to read but their own newspaper!

THE WILLITS NEWS continues to lead the county in breaking news stories. TWN somehow always gets there first! For instance, on the front page of the Wednesday, January 8th edition of the paper, and three full days after the event, we learn that the "49ers win 39-38." Hmmm. That's how I thought that game I'd watched the previous Sunday came out. Suspicions confirmed. But seriously, I wonder if it has occurred to anybody at TWN that nobody, repeat, nobody, depends on the Willits News for the results of professional football games.

THE CUMMINGS SCANDAL, an update: On New Years Eve, attorneys for Jim Cummings Jr., filed a complaint charging that Robert Petersen and Steven Schulz have failed to honestly respond to Cummings' court-sanctioned request for answers to the questions raised by Cummings' still unresolved suit against the two Cummings Trust trustees. That suit alleges that Petersen and Schulz are "blatantly mismanaging the significant assets" they are supposedly managing for Jim Jr., Jim's sister, and the larger hunk of money left by Jim Sr. for the benefit of the people of Fort Bragg. The latest filings in the case make it clear that Cummings is not only convinced that he's being ripped off, his request for specific information mean he knows exactly how he's being ripped off.

BECAUSE PETERSEN AND SCHULZ are stonewalling the requests for specific answers to questions so incriminating it appears they may find themselves facing criminal charges, it seems that their strategy is to attempt to retroactively put part of the Cummings trust in good enough order to fuzzy some of the more egregious trust expenditures on themselves, their relatives, their pals, and even a big free lunch for their elected gofer, 4th District supervisor, Patti Campbell. In the mean time, Cummings and his attorneys continue to seek confirmation of what they are convinced is the basic fact — the Cummings Trust trustees are untrustworthy.

THE LATEST FILING in the case, then, is another attempt by Cummings to get answers about where many thousands of his, his sister's and the money his father left Fort Bragg, has gone. Cummings "also requests sanctions in the amount of $9,285 against the Trustees for their misuse of the discovery process, to be paid within one week of the hearing date and not to be paid out of Trust funds." In other words, because Petersen and Co. have been cynically non-responsive to legitimate inquiries, and because they've become so accustomed to dipping into trust money for this, that, and every unauthorized thing, Jim Jr. rightly fears that Peterson and Schulz might also pay court-imposed fines out of trust money!

AS THE CASE STAGGERS more or less forward, out at ground zero in Fort Bragg, Petersen's brother Allen is no longer listed as sale agent for Cummings Trust property. (The only trust property that wasn't put up for sale by Allen Petersen was the very valuable building overlooking Noyo from Noyo's west bluffs; that building houses Bob Petersen's harbor view offices.) The redundant trust office down in Noyo Harbor has been closed and its manager gone off to a psychiatrist to get Workman's Comp benefits for "stress." As the fallout just keeps on falling, and it will fall like a monsoon rain when the case is finally heard, a slug of culpable Fort Bragg folks are pointing fingers at each other, hoping against hope it will all just kinda go away, like major scandals have always gone away in Mendocino County when the lawyer is wired directly to the Superior Court bench.

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