Off the Record (Nov. 21, 2018)

ACCORDING to reliable sources, plural, 5th District supervisor Dan Hamburg has suffered a nervous breakdown, hence his absence at two successive meetings of the supervisors.

ACCORDING to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association about a million Americans are permanently on the road, living full time in their RV's. Having just paid my property taxes, and after watching our Supervisors today, I feel like selling my manufactured Boonville home and hitting the road myself. If property taxes were calibrated to performance none of the present Supervisors would be paid, and certainly not paid as lavishly as they are now — $85 thou a year plus a fringe package and retirement most Americans can only dream of. Would any of these people make this kind of pay package in the wilds of non-government free enterprise? Doubt it.

PEOPLE COMPLAIN about the enormous sums paid professional ballplayers but, unlike our Supervisors and the other upper echelons of government at all levels, the pro athlete performs for all the world, and what he does or does not do is right there on film. He or she either does it or is jobless. Put the Supes on work-hour video and few of us would be willing to pay any of them $85 grand a year. And they're rude as hell into the bargain, as Mrs. Escobar discovered during her appearance last week to rightly complain that she and other Mendo fire victims are getting gouged by our Planning and Building Department. The Supervisors, faced with direct criticism, go full zombo — cryonic-like stare backs.

WAYWARD YOUTH? That quaint, Victorian descriptive was invoked by a guy who appeared before the Supes to claim our Juvenile Hall is an incarceration model of its kind for future adult criminals, er, wayward youth. Of course he works at the Hall, or has some other self-interested function "serving" wayward youth.

KEEP IT CLASSY, PRESS DEMOCRAT. The PD charged a local person $1,100 for an obituary, a common final extortion of the deceased by the large circulation newspapers.

SOMEHOW I'M ON the mailing list of a sanguinary "Christian" outfit called the Liberty Counsel. A recent blast from them reads, "Anti-Semites Elected to Congress. Democrat Rashida Tlaib wrapped herself in the Palestinian flag at a victory party. Tlaib is an anti-Semite and supports the destruction of the Jewish state of Israel and its replacement of a unitary Palestinian state. Tlaib said, ’A lot of my strength comes from being Palestinian.’ After she won her primary race in August, she published several anti-Israel tweets and re-tweeted a fan who declared that Tlaib's ‘first fight was for Palestine, always Palestine’."

CONFLATING the Israeli government's ongoing persecution of Palestinians with anti-Semitism is almost as common among "liberals" as among the crypto-fascist Israeli government, but criticism of Israeli policy is not anti-Semitism. An anti-Semite wants to see the wholesale destruction of the Jewish people as a people. Most critics of Israel simply want a decent accommodation with Palestinians, as does roughly half the Israeli population, including at least five retired heads of the Mossad. (1.6 million of the Palestinians are confined under prison-like conditions, to an area the size of the Anderson Valley.)

THE OTHER NIGHT, the Channel 7 Chuckle Buddies cited a government report that recommended two and a half hours of exercise a week as being the minimum to beat back early death from one or another of the diseases plaguing fatso-watsos. (I prefer “burly” for male fatso-watsos and “voluptuous” for plus-size women.) Two and a half hours a week is delusional. Not nearly enough. Speaking as a burly, I require an hour a day of vigorous exercise to keep my weight at a svelte 225 pounds spread over a crumbling 6'4" infrastructure. I'd weigh somewhere north of 240 without an hour's brisk walk every morning I used to run every day until my knees gave out and if I didn't do upwards of three hundred push-ups at night (in sets of fifty). During the day, on breaks from my computer, I do the Chinese Thinker, which is suspending oneself horizontally on one’s elbows and toes. I wouldn't bother with the push-ups but I like to maintain significant upper body strength to repel the occasional frontal attack. It always sounds trite, but if the mentally ill worked out every day they would probably be only half-cracked, and more or less normal functioning. And if the morbidly obese, as the whoppers are called, walked for an hour every day they would still be fat, given their gluttonous calorie intake, but they'd not only feel better they'd be free of a lot of the ailments suffered by the fat and the sedentary.

UKIAH HAS SEEN nearly two weeks of frigid temperatures, but only last week did the doers of good get the winter shelter open. And even with it open persons seeking that shelter have to pass muster at Plowshares prior to getting a ticket to enter, meaning the people who really need to be out of the cold — the drunk, the drugged and the crazy- won’t pass muster.

AS REPORTED by Justine Frederickson of the Ukiah Daily Journal, "For those given a bed, shelter staff advises them to be in it by 8 p.m. in order to keep it. If they want to stay in the bed another night, they need to alert staff the next morning. The shelter at 1045 S. State Street is focusing on serving adults only, and families with children will be directed to the Ford Street Project. Since the day center RCS (Redwood Community Services) plans to operate on the same property as the shelter is not open yet (it is expected to open in February of 2019) shelter guests are asked to leave the area by 9 a.m., and that “guests who loiter in the neighborhood risk losing their bed.”

TRANSLATION: Those most in danger of dying from hypothermia — the drop-fall drunks, the drug disoriented, the insane — must be deemed acceptable by the helping pros before they can get in out of the cold.

HOMELESSNESS, A COMMENT: “Churches do try to help the homeless. But shelters require supervision, and at my little church, the little ol’ ladies just are not quite up to the task. We have also run into problems with liability cost increases with our insurance company, an inability to safely handle some of the mentally ill folks, and damage done to the premises by people who are either high or just don’t care. What does seem to be effective is supporting – physically, monetarily, emotionally – those who are in a better position to provide services. Pooling our resources as a community is a good part of the solution.”

HOMELESSNESS, ANOTHER COMMENT: "Basically, we need more trailer parks. Cheapest low income housing that could ever be built IF people would get off their high horses over their real estate values and allow them. Tiny houses cost way more to build and are usually not as well designed- that I can see. The parks we have now were mostly built in the 1950’s. No new ones. In the 1930’s and 40’s trailers were advertised as, you guessed it, “Tiny Houses”!!! Big selling point back then. And trailer parks advertised as tiny house communities. There is no real difference despite the fact some have paid 90K for 350 SqFt on wheels- with no earthly place to put it. The Low Income Housing we build right now is NOT a bargain. And we do end up paying for it. Your real estate values are going to go down whether there is a park near you OR people are camping and shitting in your bushes. Or camping all over the downtown of the town you live in. We have to make a practical choice. This has nothing to do with false morality. Your real estate values are going to go down anyway with pot legalization.  If you only own the house you live in it does NOT matter what your house is worth, in fact you are better off if it’s worth less- less taxes. If you sell your home to buy another home and prices are low- that home’s price will be low as well. It’s about percentages. The exception to all this are real estate investors. Investors, BTW, made up the largest percentage of foreclosed homes after 2007- NOT home owners. Do most of us care if RE investors make less money? Mom and Pops- sure, but in general- not really. We’d rather have a secure roof over our heads. And less shit in our neighborhoods and downtown.

At some point the ever rising housing costs are going to lead to a boiling point. Costs of housing have risen faster than slow boiling frogs at this point. Resentment can become dangerous. In fact I think it already is.”

MENDO SUPERVISORS won't give fire victims a break on rebuild fees but, as Marilyn Davin has found "in Napa the Supes looked at potential conflict with state standards and, finding none, reduced building fees by an average of 30%. Lots of good quotes from the building director on supporting the community and keeping folks in the community. Trinity County gives a big discount. Somebody must have made the determination that Mendo can't reduce the fees - which is clearly a crock."

SAN FRANCISCO will retroactively apply California’s marijuana-legalization laws to past criminal cases, SF District Attorney George Gascón said this week, expunging or reducing misdemeanor and felony convictions going back decades. The unprecedented move will affect thousands of people whose marijuana convictions brand them with criminal histories that can hurt chances of finding jobs and obtaining some government benefits. Here in Mendo, the DA, according to spokesman Mike Geniella, "doesn't have the manpower" to do a Frisco mass expunge, "but we routinely process applications" [to expunge].

THE ONLY PRESSER I can recall turning down was from a nurse, a registered nurse at that, meaning she had been trained to understand that vaccination was necessary to prevent the reoccurrence of deadly diseases. The nurse was giving a talk out on the Mendocino Coast, a hotbed of anti-vaxx opinion and, it seems, a concomitant inability to decode our common tongue, let alone medical history and basic principles of science. The Nurse had called to ask if I'd gotten her presser, and when I said I wouldn't run her announcement because I thought the anti-vaxx movement was a dangerous delusion and didn't want to encourage it, she said, "Well, I can see you're not an open kind of person" and hung up. In other words, agree with me or you're… pick an insult. The anti-vaxxers, the Building 7 nuts (911 was an inside job, you see), the contrails paranoids, and the rest of the many millions unhinged by our unsettled times are able, thanks to the internet, talk exclusively and unchallenged with other lunatics, which is how the anti-vaxx movement has spread among young parents, and now we see the re-emergence of life-threatening diseases like, for instance, measles that were extinct.

AS A MAJOR MEDIA CONSUMER, I don't read much firefighting credit going to inmate crews. These guys are young, fit and do a lot of the really hot, heavy work on the fire front lines. And given their incarceration they're volunteers, but there they are in the toughest terrain getting it done, and often risking injury and death.

NOT THAT it matters much, but it's gratifying that Tony Thurmond seems to be overtaking Tuck for State Superintendent of Schools as the vote count dribbles in. Tuck's tv ads damning Thurmond were not so subtly race-based. Anyway, moving the massive state edu-blob in the general direction of effective instruction for our nation's future, at this chaotic point, would be beyond Socrates himself. No surprise that neither candidate mentioned the biased distribution of school funding — wealthy communities with rich tax bases getting more school money than less fortunate areas.

NEWBIE SUPERVISORS Williams and Haschak will be encouraged to attend an all expenses paid (natch) a week-long seminar on How To Be A Supervisor, a kind of soft version of a Chinese re-education camp, the assumption being that all California counties are models of civic functioning and you, Mr. Elected Official, it's up to you to at least pretend it is.

A READER WRITES: “Not sure, but we may be seeing a huge increase in Planning and Building fees (probably to help offset their budget problem). I was processing a building permit and the fee doubled from last week to this week. Again, not sure if this will apply to all permit applications, but if it does, it might be something for you to report. Might have to investigate some more.”

ED NOTE: Off our recent experience with P&B, and anecdotal evidence gathered from many locals, no one looks forward with anything except extreme trepidation to dealing with Planning and Building, Mendocino County. Why? Because it's going to be an arbitrary, contradictory, expensive, and infuriating experience. And the Supervisors, oblivious of the true functioning of the bureaucracies they allegedly supervise, claim they're actively supporting strategies to create housing. Nope.

A SENSIBLE COMMENT out of Ukiah: "“As far as the homeless problem, it’s nothing we’re going to cure here. There’s been studies done, and for some reason the county and the city … will pay money for good advice, but then they won’t take it. So there has to be a situation where the city has to actually admit to themselves that there are actually people that need the help, and there are people that don’t want the help and make it a lifestyle choice to be living on the streets and urinating on our streets. Hopefully that gets addressed soon, because the last two projects (before us) we’ve heard that they’ve changed their plans to accommodate for the homeless and transient population that has now populated Ukiah. I’m concerned about how we are enabling people to do things when basically we should be deterring them, and I’m sure there are ways that can be done.” — Ukiah Planning Commissioner Chair Mike Whetzel

THE TERRIBLE PALL blanketing NorCal seems consistent with the magnitude of the Butte County tragedy. The late afternoon television news scrolls the names of the missing on the bottom of the screen. It's striking how many couples there are among the unaccounted for, presumably the elderly who either didn't get the warning to leave or who couldn't leave before the fire was on them. We've got to hope that the authorities at all levels are learning how to react faster and more efficiently from this catastrophe. The hundreds of clearly disoriented fire victims camped out in a WalMart parking lot and an adjacent field telling the television reporters, "I don't know where to go. I don't know what I'll do" are the tip of a huge resettlement project.

I WATCHED a poignant report about the Santa Clara County School's decision not to close, the stated reason being that a large percentage of children would not only be left unattended by working parents, a large number depended on school breakfast and lunch programs for adequate daily nutrition.

A BAY AREA doctor says the air quality is like smoking 11 cigarettes. I think he meant over the course of the day spent outside. Friends of mine have seen guys standing out in front of bars enjoying a cigarette with their smoke masks pushed back up on their heads.

SIGN OF THE TIMES, this headline from Saturday's Ukiah Daily Journal: "New drug dog at Ukiah High can also sniff out weapons." If drugs and weapons are an ongoing concern at a place of learning it might be time to re-think the enterprise.

ACCORDING TO THE FED, household debt among Americans has reached $13.5 trillion. One has to wonder how much longer the Fed can simply make up currency value before the average American needs a wheelbarrow full of twenties to buy a loaf of bread and a carton of milk. Credit card juice is an extortionate 15 percent, cash loan store interest about the two for one charged by organized crime, assuming you don't view banks as organized crime.

RECOMMENDED VIEWING via NetFlicks: "The Break," a French thriller set in Belgium. Lots of interesting cross-cultural stuff in this one, especially for an untraveled person like me, including beautiful Belgian villages and vistas, European teen mating habits, soccer's minor leagues, African immigrants, left over Belgian Nazis — the Germans smashed their way to France twice through Belgium in the twentieth century — small town policing and government. Belgian small town government seems interchangeable with the Ukiah City Council, the police, ah, rather more out of control than ours, but then this is a 10-part movie and I’m only on Part 5. All this and an interesting Who Dunnit, too.

SEVERAL VICTIMS of the catastrophic Butte County Fire, aka the Camp Fire, have already sued PG&E, blaming the power monopoly for the deaths of 56 people (and counting) and property losses. The suit accuses PG&E of failing to properly maintain its equipment and power lines. Two days before the fire started, PG&E told customers in nine counties that it might shut off their power on November 8 because of extreme fire danger but didn't follow through with the shut off, claiming the weather didn't warrant it and, presumably, because bonuses are tied to customer complaints. The fewer complaints, the bigger the bonuses.

AT LEAST one Bay Area congressman, Jerry Hill, is woof-woofing that the shareholder business model PG&E operates as makes tragedies inevitable because shareholder profits are PG&E's first priority — not safe, efficient delivery of power. Hill says PG&E is too big and should be broken up into smaller, regional services. I seriously doubt that our present corporate-dependent political apparatus would have the courage to go after PG&E to force the monster to re-organize as a true public utility, but it's beyond obvious the monster must be slain.

SUNDAY was the 40th anniversary of the Jonestown mass murders. Mendocino County — specifically Redwood Valley — was Jones's capital accumulation site where he milked a series of barebones care homes, staffed by free labor from his church, to get the money to move to San Francisco and bigger things. Jones and his tiny congregation of Indianans were so broke when they got to Mendocino County, Jones himself took a teaching job at the Anderson Valley Elementary School for two years. Then, lickety-split, he was foreman of the Mendocino County Grand Jury (good luck finding a copy of that year's report, '75, I think) and ingratiating himself and his followers with everyone from the local libs to the John Birch Society.

I HAVE A CLEAR MEMORY of driving back from Sacramento the very day of Jonestown. My missus and I had gone to Sacto for a half-marathon foot race. (I raced while she bored.) On the way back to Boonville a radio bulletin said a woman named Sharon Linda Amos and several of her children had been found dead in a People's Temple clearinghouse in Georgetown, Guyana. The news bulletin said authorities feared a much larger tragedy at Jonestown in the wild Guyana interior was likely. I knew Amos and regarded her as a minor crackpot affiliated with some church in Redwood Valley that she was always going on about. A sad sack utterly without the slightest sense of irony who always wore an overcoat even in the summer months, Amos was responsible for a foster kid placed with me. The kid rightly ran up a tree whenever he saw her coming. I didn't have that option. She once told me about being invited to "Come on in" while the boy's father was in bed with a blow-up sex doll. I laughed. She looked askance.

Jonestown 1978, Sharon Amos with a guest (FBI photo)

KNOWING MS. AMOS a little I wasn't surprised that she killed herself. I was definitely surprised when I learned that she'd cut all her children's throats and then her own. No wonder the maniacal Jones put her in charge of screening visitors to his jungle paradise.  He could count on her to be as deranged as he was. Meanwhile, back in Mendo, everyone who'd been duped by the amphetamine-fueled pastor ran for cover. The city libs went silent. Jones' Mendo dupes at least had the excuse of rural bumpkin-ism. Jones had the Mendo Welfare Department riddled with his zomboids, which is how he got his congregation on various forms of public aid, and our very own Tim Stoen, Jones's consiglieri, was County Counsel.

Jim Jones stands next to Tim Stoen with Grace Stoen and an unknown man holding John Victor Stoen, whom Jones claimed was his own son.

BUT JONES, in San Francisco, seduced far more sophisticated personages than he ever encountered in the Mendocino County Courthouse, including Herb Caen where Jones's good works were regularly cited in Caen’s columns and where Jones was described as "soft-spoken, modest, publicity shy." George Moscone and Harvey Milk attended Temple services. Governor Jerry Brown called to apologize for not showing up in person and praised the good work Peoples Temple was doing. Willie Brown was a Jones partisan, as was Rosalind Carter. Name a Big Lib and there they were in the front pew.

IT'S EASY, cheap really, to doom the libs for getting sucked in by the glib psychopath. After all, Jones talked a (soft) socialist game of the non-threatening type, unlike the fire breathing rads loose in the Bay Area at the time, and he always turned out his big church to get Big Lib elected. (My late friend Warren Hinckle told me it was common knowledge among City cops that Jones was sub-letting his more attractive parishioners to City big shots.)

ALL THROUGH the 1970s lesser psychos roamed Mendocino County. It was that kind of place, that kind of unsettled time, for sure, and aberrant behavior prevailed among Mendo people you wouldn't now suspect as once having been all the way off the rails.

VISIBILITY Sunday morning on 101 from San Rafael to Petaluma was only about three car lengths from a combination of fog and smoke. Everyone was wayyyyy slowed down. Reminded me of an encounter years ago on the Ukiah Road where, returning from Ukiah about 11pm in a thick fog I drove around a bend in the road and there was a woman on foot walking in front of a car as guide dog for the man driving.

HED from Sunday's Ukiah Daily Journal: "Ukiah Planning Commission OKs Panda Express." Ukiah seems only a couple of franchises away from the full fast food monte — Dunkin' Donuts and Carl's Jr and we're there!

MARBUT REDUX: The Santa Rosa City Council, according to the PD, is poised to fire Bob Aaronson, the City's police auditor. Aaronson's sin? He reported that the City’s homeless strategies have failed. Substitute Ukiah (and Mendocino County) for Santa Rosa and the same report could be applied here. Aaronson's “core observation,” was that “what we have done thus far to address the challenge of homelessness has not made an appreciable dent in the problem.” The Rose City's city council launched into full denial mode, and now Aaronson's job is imperiled.

SOME OF YOU will recall that our Mendo supervisors paid a fellow named Marbut $60,000 to suggest ways to address Mendo's homelessness. Which Marbut did, and a viable plan it was, too, but ever since ignored by the five bots who commissioned it. The Supes claim they already offer a "continuum of care" provided by in-house helping pros, meaning the undiminished numbers of lost souls we see shuffling up and down State Street are merely figments of our imaginations.

MENDO JUSTIFIES ignoring the Marbut Report because, as the helping pros explain it, “The Marbut Consulting Report is focused on the ‘street level’ homeless community while the Continuum of Care focuses on all aspects of homeless prevention and intervention.” The true reason Marbut has been shelved? To keep ALL the public money designated for the walking wounded flowing to the people who profit from the present state of visible misery, the people who are doing nothing to get people off the streets who are unwilling or unable to care for themselves.

AT LAST, A DEMOCRAT: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted Sunday, "Amazon is a billion-dollar company. The idea that it will receive hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks at a time when our subway is crumbling and our communities need MORE investment, not less, is extremely concerning to residents here."

RICK WEDDLE WRITES: “Hope all is well with America's Last Newspaper and her ever-vigilant, courageous, incisive, loyal, and ingenious crew. I'll mail a check for the Two Bits tomorrow, Monday, gladly for the on-line sub. And what a deal. Thanks, again, AVA, for the decades of faithful community service and participation, under some of Humans' History's most bizarre circumstances. We're so grateful to still be able to take Readers' parts, and benefit from the info and humor in the little Newspaper that Can, and Does. America's alleged Founding Fathers — however horrific their personal Elitism — began our Supreme Law with the three little words, "We, the People...," about as all-inclusive as it gets, so far, in the Self-Evident Rights Department. The Constitution goes on, after stating the Sole Lawful Authority of People in those first three words, to anticipate some of the means and mechanisms to secure those Rights and meet those Rights' self-evident Obligations… like the little 9th Amendment. And like freely outspoken newspapers with a full set of facts and American Revolutionary teeth, and not at all bashful about using 'em. Where pens like yours hold forth is where the swords fail; maybe not every time, but whenever Piracy in High Places — or asleep behind the door in the Mayor's Office — is thwarted, there's always a little cadre of deliberate Journalists right in there, down in the gravel, the whole time. What's the main reason ANYONE in North America can still successfully Read Between the Lies? Unlikely little miracles here and there, like you guys. Cheers!”

ON LINE COMMENTS OF THE WEEK

 [1] Let’s assume for argument’s sake that the fictional “wealth” conjured by the Fed through its counterfeiting operation is actually real, with a solid footing in the real world. Let’s then consider California, one of those blue states that really shove it in people’s faces, standing tall and smirky and superior every day and every way. Well, maybe they ought to put some of this money where their mouth is, because after all, they’ve got Silicon Valley with its uncountable trillions, they’ve got Hollywood and its bursting bags of loot, they’ve got the inordinately wealthy in mansions (some of which are burning fiercely as we speak, but no big deal, they’ll get re-built) along the Pacific. And they’ve got the Kardashians. And with all that money, they still have Blacks and Hispanics among them in a seriously degraded state, there’s homeless crapping everywhere and addicts leaving diseased syringes all over. How can it be this way in a state that tells us that they’ll have sanctuary cities for the world’s woebegone? What about all these people right there already that they aren’t helping? Where I’m going with this is that Democrats and progressives in general are all talk. They couldn’t give a shit, least of all for those already living in dire straits right underfoot. So, what comes of it? It’s like Herb Stein said, if something can’t go on it won’t. It stops. And when it stops, what comes of it are new ways of doing things. It might start with eccentric long-beards who start saying hokay, enough of this, this is hopeless, so we’re headin’ out into them thar hills. And so they pack up the hound and the missus and the ankle-biters and they make the trek out. It’s not as if it would be the first time we’ve seen this, it’s happened before in history when civilizations collapse, the folk in no longer tenable towns and cities move into the hinterlands, settling around water sources or defensible hill-tops.  Can you picture it? Family-groups abandoning messed up coastal places like LA and San Fran and heading out and forming go-it-alone communities in the boonies, maybe leaving the state altogether?

 [2] California is quickly approaching something like Brazil, with a few hundred thousand super rich, English speaking whites in Silicon Valley and Hollywood, living in fortified compounds ringed with high walls, razor wire, cameras and armed security, and who travel in convoys (like whites in South Africa), surrounded by 100 million envious, grasping and poverty stricken, Spanish speaking Mexicans and Central Americans, always probing for soft spots in the fortifications, trying to get in and grab a piece of the good life whitey is hogging all for himself. As for the hemmed in whites on the inside with sh-t eating smiles on their nervous faces and wondering what good their Mercedes Benzes, big bank accounts and 300 foot yachts are now, well he’s still jabbering about diversity, egalitarianism, advocating even then for open borders and the Brotherhood of Man, all men, even the Low Rider Mexicanos on the other side of the fence who would like to kill them all.

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