Off the Record (Oct. 31, 2018)

SHERIFF ALLMAN called last week. He said he was standing on a street corner in our nation's capitol flying Mendo's colors — in uniform, that is. "I hope no one asks me for directions," the Sheriff joked, “because I won’t know.” He said his delegation got a White House tour that included an appearance by President Trump, who addressed the rural contingent's concerns. The Sheriff said Trump spoke off the cuff "as he does but only took a few shots at California officials." Allman said he had a next day meeting with the chief of the Forest Service to talk about fire management and law enforcement concerns related to the drug projects plaguing Mendocino County's million acres of public land. The Sheriff said he was pleased that federal officials "have actually returned my phone calls," and said he had arranged four appointments with agency directors to discuss specific local concerns with federal implications. Allman pointed out that the Measure B meeting scheduled for that week was postponed for a week "so everyone can be there." He said more than thirty mentally ill persons "in the first week of October alone" have caused much tumult in the County's emergency rooms, suggesting that an in-County psych unit is more urgently needed than ever, not that he necessarily expected unanimity of opinion among the Measure B advisory committee but hoped for Committee consensus on how to proceed.

WE'VE ALWAYS AGREED with the Sheriff that the Willits site for a psych unit is not only the most viable — it's there for starters, and would be less expensive to revise to state specs, although we’ll concede that earthquake standards and the age of the building might be insurmountable. Howard's opponents do not have rational reasons to oppose it, apparently convincing Willits city officials that the unit would present a hazard to the neighborhood. For years there was a far more problematical emergency room at the old Howard Hospital where the unconfined deranged were a daily presence. A dozen sedated mental cases hardly represent a neighborhood menace. And conversion of the abandoned hospital would also be an economic boost to perennially strapped Willits. Building a new facility somewhere else, presumably Ukiah, also a community of neighborhoods, would see this project spinning its wheels indefinitely.

I'VE BEEN DENOUNCED as a "liar" three times this week, not that I'm unaccustomed to insult, especially that one, but I often wish dueling hadn't been outlawed to take it up directly with the perp. In each of these three instances the "lie" was a difference of opinion, not a deliberate distortion of the facts by yours truly. Over the long years, I've never hesitated to correct an error, and I can't honestly remember pushing a straight-up lie on you, dear readers. I used to get "liar!" by the basketful from the Bari Cult when it became belatedly obvious to me that the party line on the Bari saga was that she'd been the victim of — pick your villain — loggers, the FBI, religious cranks, men. (Don’t tell anyone, but the famous bombing was a fancy case of domestic violence.) My end of the argument was a constant revision as new info arrived, but each mistaken fact or errant deduction based on what I thought I knew, was denounced as a "lie” by her cash and carry supporters. The times have been over-heated for years now to where it's almost impossible to simply disagree without someone getting all het up and denouncing mere differences of opinion as deliberate lying.  (cf last week’s national events)

SUSPECTED ARSONIST Randall Lee Gensaw entered two pleas Wednesday in Judge Cindee Mayfield’s court:

As to Count One, a violation of Penal Code 451c., starting a fire on the property of North Coast Rail Road: No contest.

Count Two, 11550, under the influence of a controlled substance (meth), was dismissed with a Harvey waiver, meaning the tweaker’s tweak may be considered at sentencing.

Gensaw

The plea was negotiated by our new Public Defender, Jeffery Aaron, his first case, and it came in a somewhat timely fashion, this arson deal, as the Office of the Public Defender just yesterday was the scene of a fire emergency, when the office filled with what was described as a white smoke, and had to be evacuated. Some people would call this “ironic” – others would prefer the more pedestrian term “coincidence” and yet even more folks (locally, at least) would go for the far-out Jungian coinage, “synchronicity.”

Public Defender Aaron said that it was only a heating/AC system that was smoking; no fire, none at all, and that the Fire Captain advised the old building had only two smoke detectors. Aaron hastened to add that County Maintenance personnel readily installed more smoke detectors, and made some facetious quips about the new PD only being on the job a month and “already burning the place up.”

The deal the Public Defender crafted with District Attorney David Eyster means Mr. Gensaw, who was discovered on October 9th by neighbors in the act of piling up combustibles including an oil can which he then set the fire, just about a year after the beginning of the most horrific fire season on record, and in the aftermath of this year’s huge fires. So the neighbors called 911 -- the Ukiah Valley Fire Department, and the Ukiah Police Department responded. Gensaw was subsequently taken into custody after being charged for tweaking and arson with the Special Allegation that he used an accelerant.

There will be no prison at the outset, and Gensaw will go on felony probation (he was already on two separate grants of misdemeanor probation) and serve 150 days in jail.

Mr. Gensaw kept on interrupting the proceeding to say he “didn’t light no fire” and “I was just cleaning up trash – why don’t you get some of these guys from the jail to go down there and clean that shit up?”

The deal included registering as an arsonist, and Gensaw didn’t much like that. “Does that mean I can’t go camping and light a campfire?”

Judge Mayfield replied that camping  wouldn’t be advisable, considering the circumstances.

Judgment and Sentencing was set for the morning of November 29th at nine o’clock. (Bruce McEwen)

 A FRIEND describes Haschak vs. Pinches in the 3rd District Supe's race this way: "Haschak's running hard, and he's got a lot of the newbie dope growers convinced his 12-point pot program is more sensible than Pinches "back of a bar napkin."

THE MIGHTY AVA has always supported Pinches although we disagree with him on some things, especially the pay raises for the Supervisors and the County's top brass. Although Haschak is an earnest, capable-seeming person we're dismayed to see him line up with the entrenched Northcoast Democrat organization — Huffman, Wood, McGuire, the local middle-of-the-road extremists, that whole gang a mirror of the retro-Demos we suffer at the national level — and we're always dubious of candidates from the public ed morass, where clarity and independence are as rare as a high school graduate who can write an error-free sentence. Haschak only got interested in County politics this election, while Pinches has always been devoted to, as he says, "Mendacina County." He won us forever years ago when, during a discussion of a very expensive computer communication system proposed for the exclusive use of County bureaucrats, he said, "If they want to talk to each other they can walk down the hall to say whatever they have to say." And Pinches is the first Supervisor since the late Joe Scaramella to publicly raise the outrageously unfair Mendo-SoCo water arrangement that jobs Mendo out of annual millions. As Pinches pointed out, with zero support from his colleagues to even agendize the discussion, Sonoma makes annual millions from the diverted Eel water stored at Lake Mendocino which, according to the agreement made in the middle 1950s, Sonoma County owns most of. That original deal, opposed by the farsighted Scaramella, ought to be re-negotiated. But Pinches couldn't even get a second from his contemporary Mendo colleagues. If Haschak is elected, I hope he isn't another auto-yes vote for whatever the CEO plunks down in front of the Supes every two weeks. As it stands, McCowen is the only Supervisor who will say, "Wait a minute. I don't think we should do this." He, too, is typically out-voted, 4-1. We live in hope.

FROM A READER, a t-shirt seen in Cabo San Lucas: "Be happy. You're on the fun side of The Wall."

AT LEAST TWO local celebrations of Orson Welles' great hoax "War of the Worlds" were presented in Mendocino County, one of them by Mendocino College on KZYX, the other out on the Coast somewhere. Can anyone even imagine a comparable prank today? (No.) Is the incidence of pure credulity any less today? ( Double No.)

ON THE SUBJECT of delusions and hoaxes, the anti-vaxxer mental disorder, not quite prevalent in Mendo but spreading like polio pre-Salk, has now infected several prominent Republicans. Once confined to fringe idiots descended from the dumber dumb ass hippies, three Republicans running strong for governor in Oklahoma, Oregon, and Connecticut—are mooshy on requiring vaccinations for young children. “We shouldn’t be dumping a lot of drugs into kids for no reason,” one guy said. Another, "I believe the best practice is to vaccinate your children, but the government shouldn't be able to legally force you to do so.” The Oregon candidate, a medical doctor, too, announced, "Parents should have the right to opt out of vaccinations for personal beliefs, for religious beliefs or even if they have strong alternative medical beliefs.”

CUI BONO SWEEPSTAKES. Trumpians benefit from the hysteria about the march of Central Americans to the Mex-America border, while Democrats benefit from the pipe bombs mailed to their herd bulls. I pronounce it a wash.

DAVID THOMAS, a senior official at the VA in Washington, has removed the portrait of Nathan Bedford Forrest after staff started a petition demanding he take it down. Thomas said he had no idea who Forrest was. He should have called Boonville. I know who Forrest was. I got in an argument with an Aryan Brotherhood guy confined to Pelican Bay about Forrest. The AB apparently thought, and probably still thinks, that Forrest was their kinda guy which, for most of his life he was. Widely credited with founding the Klan, Forrest was a Civil War general and slave trader who died a liberal, lamenting the racist crimes of his youth. He should be celebrated as an example of how some people can grow and change. George Wallace’s life trajectory was similar to Forrest’s, but he’s also casually referred to by the MSM as a racist.

"No Surrender" by Don Stivers

BILLIONAIRE Salesforce's Marc Benioff has pledged $2 million in support of Proposition C, San Francisco's ballot measure that would tax the biggest businesses in San Francisco for roughly an annual $300 million for homeless programs. But The City's liberal mayor and the Chamber of Commerce say millions of dollars suddenly plunged into The City's existing homeless programs would attract more homeless people to The City, but the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness insists their community-based organizations claim the money would clear the streets of the thousands of wandering wounded.

THE ONLY THING that will get the houseless off the streets is a crash federal program to shelter NorCal’s (and the nation’s) thousands of utterly lost free range drunks and dope casualties while simultaneously re-opening hospital programs for the equivalent number of the hopelessly deranged. Simply shoveling money into the present-day Industrial Homeless Complex will not get a single doomed soul off the streets.

DITTO for Mendocino County where a consultant, Mr. Marbut, was handsomely paid by our Supervisors to draft a plan to reduce the number of people living out of doors here. Basically, Marbut advised charity for our homegrown cripples while providing a meal or two for professional mooches prior to sending them down the road. Mendo's helping pros, fearing a loss of control over their funding units, quickly organized a mass Ukiah meeting to denounce Marbut’s entirely sensible strategies, and here we are with no changes in homeless policy and none specifically planned.

SETTLER CASE SENTENCING

The first of those responsible for the marijuana robbery and the killing of Jeffery Quinn Settler in November 2016 in the hills northwest of Laytonville was sentenced Friday morning in the Mendocino County Superior Court.

Michael Andrew Kane, age 27, of Pleasantville, New York, was sentenced to 14 years in state prison. Kane was convicted by guilty plea of voluntary manslaughter by use of a hatchet, a felony, and robbery of an inhabited dwelling while acting in concert with others, also a felony.

The sentence imposed on this defendant today was the maximum allowed by law given the crimes for which he was convicted.

Because the two crimes are deemed violent under California law, any good or work time credits the defendant may attempt to earn in state prison in an effort, if any, to decrease his prison stay shall not exceed 15% of the overall sentence.

Kane

Grieving family members -- the victim's father, mother, sister, and brother -- traveled to Ukiah from Texas to watch and participate in the proceedings held this morning before Mendocino County Superior Court Judge John Behnke. The father, sister, and brother each addressed Judge Behnke individually and on behalf of the extended Settler family, and all delivered moving victim impact statements.

District Attorney David Eyster is the prosecutor handling this matter and who appeared this morning to represent the interests of the People of the State of California. While many law enforcement agencies -- both in California and across the country -- provided assistance to the successful prosecution of this defendant, the primary investigating agency was the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.

The other six co-defendants will be brought to the Ukiah courthouse next Friday, November 2nd, at 9 o'clock in the morning for their respective sentencing hearings. These additional six defendants are all going to each receive a state prison sentence.

(District Attorney Press Release)

AN AMIABLE DUDE named James Wilbanks administers Mendocino County's Retirement Board. Wilbanks, who mostly telecommutes from his home in Oklahoma, supervises  four employees. He was hired part-time at $120k a year. The Supervisors are poised, via their consent calendar, to approve a pay boost for Wilbanks, proposed by his chummy Retirement Board, that would pay Wilbanks $157,000 a year with automatic 3 percent salary increases each of the next 3 years, plus  $500 a month housing allowance for his visits to Ukiah, and a performance bonus of $15,000 every year of his employment if he's rated as meeting expectations. And he surely will. On the off chance he's fired, which is about as likely as a tornado in Ukiah, Wilbank gets his choice of 6 months notice or 6 months salary. By all accounts the guy does a good job overseeing a broke fund that might be fully solvent in 18 years if…  But the salaries paid Mendo's brass are excessive, we think, especially given the givens of a struggling county employee population, not to mention a struggling population of Mendocino County's people.

CESAR SAYOC'S cv isn't nearly as impressive as America's mad bombers of yesteryear. Sayoc’s a steroids dealer whose grandmother had to get a restraining order against him when he twice attacked her.  Sayoc is a huge come down from George Metesky, the original Mad Bomber who terrorized New York City for 16 years in the 1940s and 1950's before he was finally arrested. George was driven by a personal beef, a workplace injury that he felt was not adequately compensated. Theodore Kaczynski's bombs, encased in beautifully finished wooden boxes, would win best of show at the Boonville Fair, at least for their containers. Ted was aimed at taking down industrial civ a bomb at a time. Sayoc, while also thinking big and wrong, is just a dumb guy driven totally nuts by Fox News. The synagogue shooter? Your basic lone nut but, if you stretch “conspiracy” to include the millions of lone nuts talking to each other on the internet, certainly a soldier in the conspiracy of fools.

I WON'T BOTHER reciting that hoary definition of insanity, but local Democrats, the active ones anyway, make the following objectively insane claim: "The Coast Democratic Club is located on the Mendocino Coast of Northern California. Most members hail from the coast between Westport and Elk.  The club supports the progressive democratic values and a positive vision for the future and meets regularly to discuss important issues and welcome guest speakers including Congressman Jared Huffman, State Assemblymember Jim Wood, and State Senator Mike McGuire."

APPLYING A CLASS analysis to these Democrats, we find a comfortably well off group of mostly college educated white professionals with whom empty non-specifics like "progressive democratic values" and "a positive vision for the future" seem to resonate. Why not go all out and stand up for unicorns and puppies?

THE ELECTION PICS by our favorite local political sages also endorse the corporate Demo agenda, replete with its vacuities like "progressive democratic values." Our three reps — Huffman, Wood, McGuire — are well to the political right of, say, Bernie Sanders, the lukewarm socialist (cf Eugene Debs for the real American thing) whose thinking is way to the right of FDR's New Deal. Bernie's hardly a Bolshevik but he at least pumped for Single Payer, and he was supported by a clear majority of Northcoast Democrats for President. Which should mean that Huff, Wood and Mikey are out of political step with a majority of Northcoast progs.

BUT Huffman, Wood, McGuire — taking their cringing cue from Demo Central — went for the rigged DNC and more of the Wall Street same with Hillary blithely ignoring the millions of Americans who live with the wolf of the door. And many of these wolf-haunted millions don't vote because, economically considered, there's no difference between the organized Democrats like those of Mendocino County and the Trump Gang.

JEEZ, Mendolib, if you can't even go beyond conservative Democrats, including Bernie, a New Deal type of guy, how are we going to get rid of Trump? A specific program of the type Bernie supports is sorta progressive but there's nothing at all progressive about social policy right here in Mendo, and even less at the national level. The three amigos — Huffman, Wood and McGuire — are barely liberals on their most lucid days. And the DNC is not progressive in the least.

HOW ABOUT a specific program? In no special order:  Single payer, a federal jobs and low cost housing program; re-regulation of the financial markets; hospitalization for the insane, the drug dependent, and the drunk; free college tuition for anybody who wants to enroll. The full Norwegian monte! How to pay for it? A fair system of taxation like we had in 1950.

PREDICTION: The Demos will put up Biden while Huffman, Wood, McGuire, Muchowski, Joe Wildman, Rachel Binah, KZYX, and the County's Democrat Clubs go all out for Biden. And Trump wins a second term.

DOG STORY. This guy I know in Marin, where dogs are fetish-ized as never before, who spotted  a woman’s off-leash pet in the act of dropping a load in the middle of his concrete drive-way. "It happens almost everyday with different people walking their dogs, but this is the second time I've caught this same lady. I come home from work every day and I have to hose it off first thing." So, the guy’s standing at his kitchen window on a recent Saturday morning "and here comes this same woman up the street with her dog, a white, fluffy job. The dog makes a bee line for my driveway and… I run outside and say to her, 'How would you like it if I come over to your house every day and take a dump in your front yard? The least you can do is clean up after it.' She just stared at me, and finally says, 'I hope you don't poop for a month!' And walked righteously off!”

WE ALWAYS ENJOY Tommy Wayne Kramer’s Ukiah Daily Journal columns including last Sunday’s column about the preposterous outcome of the lawsuit filed by the Ukiah Valley Sanitation District. Overall, TWK is right: rates will go up and only lawyers will benefit. But some of his particulars were incorrect. TWK says the terms of the settlement were not disclosed. Oh yes they were — their press release boldly showed that Duncan James, who filed the initial lawsuit under the then-direction of then-Sanitation District Manager Frank McMichael (who based his suit on an original Grand Jury report who did the original work exposing Ukiah’s bookkeeping tricks) got around $6 mil and the Sanitation District got around $10 mil. TWK was right that the settlement talks (conducted by the $6 mil attorneys) were held in secret and we don’t know why Ukiah dragged the case out for years before finally settling for the amount that the Sanitation District originally sued for — minus the attorney’s $6 mil. The main culprit was (and is) the City of Ukiah, which used a convenient error in sewer hook-up accounting as a slush fund for decades, then stonewalled the District’s and the Grand Jury’s requests for correcting it — thus the lawsuit. But the other culprit was the local superior court who should have appointed a special court official to evaluate the case and recommended an immediate settlement (based on the Grand Jury report), thus saving the $6 mil in attorney fees. If that had happened, the city would still have had to pay what they owed to the Sanitation District but the city’s ratepayers would not have had to absorb the $6 mil that the lawyers got. If local judges had an ounce of concern for local ratepayers they’d put maximum pressure on local governments to settle their disputes outside of court, with court oversight if necessary. But that kind of civic-mindedness never even occurs to the local black robes. (Mark Scaramella)

ON LINE COMMENTS OF THE WEEK

[1] I guess I am a complete asshole, but I laugh out loud every time a honey oil lab blows up. Not because someone is hurt, but because I can just perfectly visualize the situation as the flaming guy comes running out of the flaming mess he just created while the Benny Hill song plays.

 [2] Here they come! Yes, by the time they get here… maybe tomorrow since they are being personally chauffeured to the border by George Soros… by tomorrow there will be millions of them, maybe over one billion. All seven billion people on Earth want to come to the USA. Remember that. Be afraid, very afraid, of these short poor brown women. They are probably just the vanguard mob and even bigger mobs will follow if Trump doesn’t stop them cold at the border. Setting up machine guns seems inefficient. Just nuke ’em all right there at the border. No, wait, that would leave a big hole in the wall for succeeding waves of lawless mobs to come swarming over the border like cockroaches… I don’t know if I will be able to sleep tonight just knowing how the mobs are growing by the minute, all the while being fed and transported in luxury by Soros.

 [3] What is happening? It has been happening for years. We have been an oligarchy for at least 30 years, and right-wing talk radio blowhards have convinced a sizable percentage of Americans that fascism is a good thing, that Hair Furor is actually good for the country, and that liberals and the press are the enemies of "patriotic Americans". And whiny Democrats who stayed home rather than voting, are the reason we have this wannabe tinpot fascist dictator in the White House.

One Response to "Off the Record (Oct. 31, 2018)"

  1. Ted Stephens   October 31, 2018 at 3:04 pm

    On MCERA’s James Wilbanks administrator’s contract. For me, from studying the retirement association for many years, and trying my best to help fix it as a trustee for 6 years, the most salient issue with the pension administrator is his telecommuting from Oklahoma. If you had a department that totally wiped out the net worth of the entity from 1850s(the pension debt wiped out the equity in our county) wouldn’t you demand a hands on manager? Especially if the department was managing a total liability of about $680MM. This isn’t small potatoes! Even if the department hadn’t already wiped out the net worth of the county, wouldn’t you want a manager that was onsite to manage the day to day operations and help prevent additional mistakes and fraud? I know government is supposedly different, but I can’t imagine any private board I have ever served on allowing this arrangement.

    Reply

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