Off the Record (Jan. 3, 2018)

THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS this Tuesday (2 January) will solidify the huge pay raises they voted to give themselves for their unimpressive, part-time "work" as elected officials. They'll begin the new year at $85.5k, up from $61.2k. It will be interesting to see what kind of commentary they get during public expression. We predict none, such is demoralization of citizens long accustomed to being ripped off by government. Torches and pitchforks are called for, and that's where this kind of gross exploitation at all levels of government is headed, but for now the Pathetic Five will make more than twice what the everyday Mendo employee makes. They are led around by their insensate noses by County CEO Carmel Angelo, who of course jacked up her own compensation as she commended the Supes' "courage" for granting the latest round of raises. The irony here is that Angelo and her five captives have screwed up almost everything they've touched, and no more deserve increased compensation than Trump does.

SO FAR, although the media and internet comment lines are unanimously opposed, no one has gone on record in a Board meeting with any opposition to the proposal, while the Board, the Sheriff, and possible Supes candidate Ross Liberty are on record agreeing with Board Chair John McCowen that the $24.3k raise (plus unspecified pension and benefit increases) are “easy to justify.”

THREE SUPERVISORS managed to heap insult on the pay raise injury done to the people of Mendocino County. Hamburg, Brown and Croskey are leaving. Hamburg and Brown to retirement, Croskey, an appointee in the first place, is leaving the state. Why she voted on policies that will negatively affect Mendocino County when she's long gone is, and not to be too moralistic about it, a measure of her ethical sense. Hamburg and Brown have merely sweetened their retirement packages.

THE BLAND TEXT of the pay increase proposal: "Discussion and Possible Action including Introduction and Waive Reading of an Ordinance Amending Section 3.04-071 of the Mendocino County Code Chapter 3.04 - Personnel and Salary, Setting the Board of Supervisors Compensation for Services Yearly Base Salary of $85,500 Sponsor: Executive Office.”

THE SUPES, as they rake in their totally undeserved, self-approved raises, will magnanimously allow porta-potties for “certain operations engaged in the seasonal commercial cultivation or processing of plants,” aka pot growers The County's pot rules are preposterously complicated, so complicated and expensive for smaller growers that only the largest outside, heavily capitalized pot businesses can afford them. Pot growers have long justifiably complained about the requirement for disabled access and septic systems for their greenhouses. As for the rest of the ridiculous over-regulation of pot growers, our $84.5k per year Supes have no other pot-related proposals on the agenda.

ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD, a reel short movie review. It's half-good, I'd say, thus sparing you the rest of this opinion if you wisely choose the option of moving quickly on … Based on the 1973 kidnapping of a 16-year-old Getty heir, the movie makes the skinflint founding father look pretty reasonable. He makes all the money only to see it squandered by his profligate descendants, thus reasoning if he pays ransom for one the rest will soon be kidnapped, too. I was prompted to pay my $7.50 (geezer rate) to see it when I read somewhere that egregious perv Kevin Spacey, who was supposed to play old man Getty, was brought down by the neo-Blue Nose Movement and had to be replaced by Brit actor, Christopher Plummer. I'd say Plummer for Spacey was a very good trade, although the goofy script saddles the actor with a stock Lear-like scene that detracts from his wonderful performance overall. The kid who plays the kidnapped vic is also very good, Mom is very good, but Mark Wahlberg was apparently stuck into the film to attract people who think he's interesting to watch. Maybe a good actor would have made sense as the tough guy assigned by the tycoon to get his grandson back, instead we get Wahlberg who seems to barely know what movie he's in. The Italian gangsters are cartoon-like, the media are depicted as they are — pack-hunting hyenas. As an added but unintended bonus for my $7.50 I had to sit through preview clips of "The Post," the latest Spielberg epic that falsely portrays Katherine Graham as a giant of journalism. If you write in to tell me both these things were good watching, we will cancel your subscription.

PEOPLE used to say that on deep Fort Bragg fog nights, Georgia-Pacific used to burn all kinds of stuff, including truck tires, in its big burner that fueled the mill’s on-site power generator. I've always wondered about that claim, but to this day no former worker or anybody else in a position to know could or would confirm that it happened. Anyway, what's to stop the company in a company town from doing whatever it wants?

ALICE CHOUTEAU COMMENTS: "The GP mill here began at some point to accept industrial wood, aka pressure-treated wood, trucked in from counties with better environmental laws, and received an unknown fee for this. The fly ash produced from burning this wood, plus paper plastic, etc. contains a high level of dioxins, arsenic, and chlorine. One of the dumping sites was the grazing lands on the McGuire Ranch, Bald Hill, and GP was paid handsomely for taking it. I worked with North Coast Action, a dedicated group of environmentalists, to force GP to haul the big piles of fly ash out of county to a secure toxic dump. Though supposedly for use as a soil amendment, it was simply left in big heaps, leaching toxins into Virgin Creek, hence into the ocean, while the cattle grazed knee deep in them. The fly ash also left a high arsenic level in the soil, supposedly a ‘safe’ level of this poison. The DTSC rep for this project was Tom Lamphar or Lanphar. When asked to test the silt along the creek that originated from the ranch and washed downstream, he just picked up a handful and said it looked fine!

The toxins from burning contaminated wood were windblown over the town, deposited everywhere, and eventually washed away by rain back toward the mill site, so GP is clearly responsible for the contamination, though the City government turned on a blind eye on the hazards to mill workers and residents.”

GENTLEMAN GEORGE HOLLISTER, the Comptche tree farmer: "On burning tires at GP. I have heard there were tires burned, but it was from people who did not work there, and had an axe to grind. I know quite a few former GP employees, and have never heard of burning tires from them. I imagine it is entirely possible, though. For many years, and to some extent today, tires have been used to enhance the burning of slash or brush piles. The practice used to be really common, all over rural America. That includes Mendocino County. This was a good way to get a fire burning, and get rid of old tires at the same time. If tires are burned, there should be residual steel belting in the ash. Has anyone mentioned seeing tire shaped coils of wire in the piles of ash from the GP mill? The timing of when the alleged tire burning took place is important. Remember the ubiquitous incinerator? They were all over. Apartment complexes, schools, and colleges used them. Any entity that produced a lot of burnable waste. All these units released dioxins into the air, and did the same in their ash. Where did that ash end up? The dump, or used as soil amendment. Whatever was going on at GP, there was likely nothing sinister about it. No one thought they were getting away with anything. What was being done was progressive at the time. For some, it is considered progressive today. There are still incinerator facilities in the US that burn municipal waste, not hog fuel, and these facilities produce electricity."

SHALL THE CIRCLE be unbroken! Back in another life I played baseball with a guy named Bill Buffalo. His dad was a Frisco longshoreman who told me he could get me into the union, which got me all fired up because the pay was good and that union in particular was the best union going. So, who should pop up on the YouTube video of the recent Ukiah Valley Sanitation District Board meeting? (The excitement never ends at the ava!) Daniel Buffalo, CPA, the City of Ukiah's Finance Director. Gotta be the son or grandson of my old teammate. Also speaking at the meeting, and compensated at the rate of $300 an hour, was Doug ‘The Midnight Rambler’ Losak, presently affiliated with Duncan James' Ukiah law firm. Losak used to work in the Mendo County Counsel's Office where, in an office of indistinguishable gray mumblers who spend their days manufacturing flawed legal opinions, Losak was positively thrilling. At least after dark. One night, the County’s counselor got himself late-night popped carrying a gun and a bag of dope, an escapade that didn't go unnoted by the DA and the Sheriff, both of whom made unprecedented appearances at a Supervisor's meeting to oppose a raise for Losak. The Supes settled for a partial raise. (No one goes away empty-handed from the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors except, of course, their own line workers.) BTW, Julie Bawcom, recently elected to Sanitation Board, is an absolute beacon of clarity in a situation that badly needs it.

RECEIVED what seemed like a pound of offensive material from the Sierra Club in last week’s mail, complete with a shiny nickel, which used to buy a pack of Double Bubble Gum but today might buy three minutes on a Ukiah parking meter. "Renew today!” the pitch from the Club began. “It costs less than a nickel a day to renew your Sierra Club membership and help protect America's wildlife and wildlands!" I don't recall ever being a member, but may have joined one year some time ago to vote for an insurgent candidate slate that promised distance between the Club and the Democrats. But the sales pitch for membership is awfully offensive, complete with a pathetic copy of a bended knee supplication to "Minority Leader Schumer." If Schumer is all that stands between the forests and coast-to-coast clearcuts, the forests are gone.

A BAD CHRISTMAS for this Joseph and Mary. Mrs. Mary Mantynen was found dead of a gunshot wound to the head in the bathroom of the Sunrise Motel, Ukiah, on the evening of Thursday, December 21st. Her husband, Joseph, was arrested uninjured. The couple is charged with a residential burglary the day before in the town of Sonoma. At least one Sonoma County detective trailed the Mantynens to the Ukiah motel where, about 8pm last Thursday, the couple refused to exit their motel room. Mantynen is alleged to have pointed a .22 rifle at Deputy Elmore during the ensuing, hour-long standoff at which point one or more officers commenced fire. How exactly Mrs. Mantynen died is not yet known. Joseph Charles Mantynen  has been charged with murder in the death of his wife, Mary Elizabeth Mantynen, also known as Mary Elizabeth Windham and Mary Elizabeth Valentine. Mantynen is also charged with assault with a firearm on a peace officer, Deputy James Elmore. The back story of this particular tragedy implies money on her side of the family while his side suggests a steady life as a blue collar worker before he descended into drugs, then meeting her as she also took the chemical path to perdition. They leave three young children between them.

Joseph & Mary Mantynen

RE TREE FROG & LEONARD LAKE & CHARLES NG— A reader writes:

"My point, however, was that they were never busted here [Mendo] for their perversions, even tho, several had i.d.'d them for such. You, yourself, can describe what you didn't like about them, but did you ever do anything about it? Along with everyone else in the Valley who felt the same? What's the opposite of friendly? Hostile? If everyone who had i.d.'d the pervs as pervs back then, they sure didn't act hostile toward them, either. The general acceptance of weirdoes has long been accepted in Mendocino!"

THE WORLD CLASS WEIRDOS of the Anderson Valley, specifically the ones you cite, were simply assumed to be auxiliary weirdos affiliated with area hippies of the time. I used to see these particular pervs here and there in The Valley but didn't socialize in their circles so did not get to view them in their natural habitat, in full perv, so to speak. But I did help get Lake's enabling wife Cricket fired from her job at the junior high when she tried to lure junior high female students down to Philo so lovely Leonard could photograph them in the hot tub. My daughter was one of the girls recruited. I would see Lake and Ng walking up and down 128 in full camo and assumed they were merely terminal cases of arrested development. Lake, however, functioned as a volunteer Valley firefighter and as the organization's recording secretary where he was lauded for his “beautiful handwriting.” No one could have had any idea he was also a serial rapist and a homicidal maniac. Frog I'd see around with his little catamite riding pillion on an undersized motorbike, but I thought they were just more weirdos of the transient type common in Mendocino County at the time. Turned out the little guy had been turned over to Frog by his mother on the grounds that Frog was the coolest man she knew, so who better to raise her son while she did her own thing? Frog and the kid lived at Colfaxes west of town. When I got to know Colfax, before he became supervisor, he claimed he had no idea Frog was a chomo, which is unlikely but that's what he said. A lot of dumbass hippies knew about Frog and said nothing. Go to The Man? The Blue Meanies? Never! Us "straights" learned only after he was finally arrested in San Francisco that Frog had violated children up and down the Mendocino Coast for many years, finally being reined in when he and the little catamite, by then an adolescent, kidnapped a girl child from the East Bay. Detectives from SF subsequently visited the Anderson Valley with a photo album of local molest vics they'd confiscated from Frog's van. The police were trying to identify all of them, and there were lots from here and the Mendocino Coast. There were creeps coming in the windows in those days. But, I read somewhere that Frog’s little catamite, after a long stretch in prison, managed to make a reasonably successful life for himself in the SF Bay Area.

THE BIG COLOR PHOTO accompanying TJ Nelson's obituary was up for weeks on the Press Democrat's website, so long that if he were family to me I'd think the paper was making fun of the poor guy, gloating over his passing. Careless obituaries in all the local papers are too often a serious embarrassment to surviving families, and why papers, especially the PD where obits cost a small fortune, don’t take extra trouble over the feelings of the departed’s family and friends is, I suppose, simply one more sign of the callous times.

LIKED THIS PARA from the Chron's talented sports writer, Ann Killion: "All of the 49ers’ fans — starved for competence and excitement — are on the Garoppolo bandwagon. At La Rocca’s Corner in North Beach, a clever bit of marketing on the marquee this week: 'Jimmy Garoppolo here tonight, looking for a date’. For you non-sports fans, Garoppolo is what the tabloids call “movie star handsome.”

A STANDING ROOM CROWD at a recent meeting of the Willits City Council was there for a discussion of rent control for mobile home parks. Three Willits-area parks were bought by outside investors last summer. Arcata and Fremont have passed mobile home rent control ordinances. Mendocino County? The Supes have passed on a rent control ordinance. So far. With the numbers of local people on fixed incomes living in trailer parks, many of them elderly, it's past time to protect them from the sharks.

AN ANON COMMENTER on the ava's website: "The Karl Witt story…. REALLY? Do you research anything before print? Is there a fact-checker in the house? Apparently NOT. Prop 64 DOES NOT supersede 215. Under 215, 18 years and older can be both patient and caregiver. For shame. This is NOT journalism, it’s like a tabloid trash rag. The story here is about Criminals with Clout. Cops on a last dash cash grab."

OUR STORY came from the DA's press release, so fact check him, dude. Maybe before these pot entrepreneurs foray out to the frontiers of free enterprise they should check their vehicles to see that they're street legal. I'm sure Witt is a swell guy.

Witt

THERE WAS A DESERT WIND BLOWING that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge. —Raymond Chandler, on The Science of Diablo Winds Fanning California Wine Country Fires

LOOKING BACK over some quotable quotes from last year we found this one from Supervisor John McCowen on the County’s new pot permitting process, a candidate for several less-than complimentary year-end awards: “I completely understand the frustration level that people [pot growers with pending permit applications] are experiencing, and they’re not alone. It’s been, I think, a very frustrating experience for staff and for the Board of Supervisors." What award should that get? False Sympathy? Best Reason Not To Give Yourself A Big Pay Raise? Stewing In Your Own Juice?

RECOMMENDED VIEWING: Gray State, NetFlicks documentary overseen by Werner Herzog about a young Army veteran who hopes to cash in on his film about, uh, kinda, how the Alt Right repels an invader, which seems to be the massed forces of secret government, aka the deep state. The problem the young would-be filmmaker has is he doesn't have a film to sell, only a trailer, but a trailer that becomes a YouTube hit, especially among the tinfoil hatters. That fleeting success interests the Hollywood investment vultures and, the kid, David Crowley, hopes to parlay that trailer into $30 mil for himself as someone else makes the actual film. He almost brings it off but....It's painful watching and, as a film, often disjointed, but fascinating.

FRED GARDNER WRITES: "I thought it was very big of Bruce Margolin to apologize to Pebbles Trippet in his recent comment on the AVA site. Margolin is sort of the Tony Serra of Los Angeles (widely viewed as the dean of the aging pot lawyers). And Trippet, responding, stayed right in character.

As for the white cat episode, my song said 'take who takes you.' Like what somebody yells when you’re walking the ball up at the start of a pick-up basketball game. You’ve only heard it said a million times… I think I’m in cognitive decline, too. But I’m not complaining. I feel like I’m playing with house money."

ON LINE COMMENT OF THE WEEK

The annihilation of several layers of the middle and working class and the creation of an impoverished under-class could have dire consequences that the Davos plutocracy and their perfumed bi-coastal clerisy are too arrogant and self-assured to see. FDR saw what was going on with the Bolshies and Mussolini and Hitler. And I think it was FDR that told immensely wealthy Americans in the 1930s that they had a choice ahead of them, they could enact reforms that would take away some of their wealth for the general good of the country, or they could risk upheaval and lose it all. The people that are nowadays so fact and evidence based seemingly can’t see the facts and evidence laid out before them, not only stuff directly underfoot, but that provided by history, a lot of which is within living memory and a lot of which is just outside of it.  The Russian and Chinese revolutions and the rise of fascism and Nazi-ism didn’t come out of nowhere. There were multiple factors behind these massive bloodlettings but without dire living and economic conditions I think that none of them would have come to pass. Hence FDR’s warning. What happens on this side of the pond may have some surface similarities to what happened overseas. So while guys like Hedges prattle on and on about incipient fascism (I mean, what effrontery to tar people who have justified and legitimate grievances) I doubt that what takes shape here will be anything much like fascism though it could be nasty and may have guys doing straight armed salutes. But fascism was imperialistic and genocidal. I don’t see imperialism but rather its opposite on this side of the oceans, a national contraction and fragmentation. Neither is the massive Stalinist butchery nor anything like what happened to European Jewry in the cards. That’s not to say that a lot of heretofore smug people won’t find themselves hanging from lamp-posts. Too much in-your-face flouting of the law (Wall Street and the Clintons), too many farcical miscarriages of justice (the Comey debacles, Holder-ist too-big-to jail-ism) and that’s what could happen.

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