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Off the Record (May 1, 2019)


Whitman says, “Great poetry requires great audiences.” The public is welcome to celebrate the lively word on Sunday May 12, at the Hill House Inn of Mendocino, for the 15th consecutive revival of the Mendocino Spring Poetry Celebration. This event draws 30-40 of the best poets and work from the north counties and beyond. 

There will be two open readings. Sign up at noon for the reading at 1:00 pm; sign up at 5:00 for the reading at 6:00 pm. Prepare four minutes for each session. 

All poems will be considered for broadcast by Dan Roberts on KZYX&Z.

Choice comestibles and fellowship, open book displays. No charge, contributions welcome. 

For info: Gordon Black at or (707) 937-4107.


This guy calls last week. "Meet me in Ukiah. I have the evidence."

Evidence of what?

"Allman drunk driving."

Bring it to Boonville.

"No, too risky."

I laugh.

"It's all on a thumb drive."

Mail it.

"That's a good idea."

The thumb drive arrives a few days later. I can feel its heat through the padded envelope. I turn to my colleague, The Major. Lock the doors and raise your right hand. 


Got some top secret stuff here. Our eyes only.

I plug in the thumb drive.

There's a photo of a pick-up truck parked on a rainy Fort Bragg street. It may or not belong to the Sheriff, although the license plate is visible, and the parked truck presumably belongs to the Sheriff. There is a brief, fuzzy film of the taillights of a truck rumbling sedately along 101 in nighttime Willits. The truck is not weaving or otherwise moving erratically. The truck may or may not belong to Sheriff Allman. The rest of the material includes cryptic communiques to the CHP, partially redacted printouts and copies of unexplained copies of copies. The whole of it proves nothing except that the informant doesn't like the Sheriff.

Dude! If you've got a video of the Sheriff staggering out of the Tip Top Club, firing his service weapon into the air, then careening off down the street in his truck, we'll put the news on the front page. In the mean, and as the young people say, Get yerself a life.


With potential jurors gathering in the basement of the Ukiah courthouse in response to jury summons, upstairs on the top floor of the building a trial defendant waived his right to the jury trial that was to begin Monday morning and withdrew his not guilty pleas and denials. In their stead, the defendant entered guilty pleas and an admission of wrongdoing. 

Defendant Benjamin Hanna Meyer, age 67, of Potter Valley, plead guilty Monday morning to two separate counts of unlawfully and maliciously killing one of his neighbor's dogs, and unlawfully and maliciously maiming another, both counts as felonies. The defendant also admitted that he personally used a firearm in the commission of the attack.


The dogs were shot just outside the neighbor's residence while both dogs were confined in their separate doghouses inside locked pens. While nobody witnessed it and there was no physical evidence of any involvement by the dogs, the defendant thought it possible that the dogs had somehow contributed to the death of his horse found earlier trapped in a cattle guard on the neighbor's property. 

The defendant was ordered to return to court for formal sentencing on June 12th at 9 o'clock in the morning in Department H of the Ukiah courthouse.

The prosecutor who has been handling this matter and prepared the case for trial is Assistant District Attorney Dale P. Trigg. The investigating law enforcement agencies were the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office and the District Attorney's own investigators. 

Mendocino County Superior Court Judge John Behnke accepted the defendant's guilty pleas and the firearm use admission Monday morning. Judge Behnke will be the sentencing judge on the 12th.


Two men are in custody in Ukiah, suspected of a December fast food restaurant robbery with a BB gun that left one of them seriously wounded after being shot by a customer, an as yet to be named fire fighter. Ukiah police have arrested Dorian Michael Coon, 20, and Alexander Romero, 19, both of Willits, as the two suspects in the December 12th robbery at the Subway on North Orchard Avenue, Ukiah.

Coon, armed with a realistic-looking BB gun, entered the restaurant where an employee handed him a bag of about $200 in coins, police said. As Coon was leaving, a customer pulled out a handgun and fired three times, hitting Coon twice in the back, police said. Coon dropped the bag, ran to a nearby store where he collapsed.

The shooter had a legal gun permit and told officers he’d feared for his safety and the safety of others. Coon initially wasn’t arrested due to his critical injuries — law enforcement agencies arresting an injured suspect are responsible to guard the person at the hospital. Coon was hospitalized for weeks at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital and then left against medical advice, but still needed medical treatment and continued returning for outpatient services, Ukiah Police Lt. Cedric Crook said.

An investigation led detectives to Romero, whom they say assisted Coon just before the robbery. 

Detectives this month got arrest warrants for both men. They picked up Romero on April 13 and Coon four days later. 

Both men were booked into Mendocino County Jail on suspicion of five felonies, including kidnap for robbery, false imprisonment and seconddegree robbery. Bail for each was set at $450,000.

RECOMMENDED READING: If anybody is better qualified than Jonah Raskin to capture the NorCal zeitgeist, I can't think of him or her. From his youth as a left radical to the most prolific writer on life in Northern California from its vineyards to its marijuana gardens, Raskin's remarkably diverse oeuvre reflects his remarkably diverse experience. Assuming someone will be writing a history of this unique place in this uniquely tumultuous time, it will all be right there in Raskin's many books from "Field Days: A Year of Farming, Eating and Drinking Wine in California" to a wonderful biography of Jack London to the best book I know of about the grass roots experience of growing marijuana prior to quasi-legalization. In between, the prolific professor has produced a steady stream of journalism on everything from Healdsburg bread to the vivid adventures of Oaky Joe Munson, a legendary pot grower, Raskin has now managed to produce "Dark Day, Dark Night, A Marijuana Murder Mystery" that grabbed me from its opening line: "Two helicopters, salvaged Black Hawks, came out of the sky, hovered over the field and landed together, the wind from the propellers bending but not breaking the bright green marijuana plants…" to its last, which I won't relay here for obvious reasons of genre. Along the way, the finely attuned author gives us a kind of wild side tour of wine country. A fun read that tells it like it is, from the hilarious to the mayhem synonymous with the love drug.

ADD to the long list of annoying verbal tics — "going forward" from political people fully committed to rearward march. 

THE EARNESTNESS of last Tuesday's parade of pot people vainly appealing for commonsense from our supervisors was, as always, poignant. At the moment, Supervisor Williams is the only county solon who seems to fully "get" what a laughable mess the permit "program" is, and when Williams offers a commonsense modification of the mess, Board chair, Carre Brown, seemingly in a panic, breaks in to say, "Oh no. That would take a three-person majority vote." Citizens might as well go out to their backyards and appeal to their plum trees as to this board of supervisors.

BUT KUDOS to Supervisors Haschak and Williams for voting against county fee increases. Of course their sensible arguments against the increase failed to sway the other three CEO-dependent Supes. If ever there was a clearer case of the tail wagging the dog…

GOT A LAUGH out of the Fort Bragg item that said the FB City Council was going to "evaluate" its city attorney. The guy lives in Arizona. I hope they skype him rather than fly him in on the usual tax-funded all expenses magic carpet.

UNDERSHERIFF MATT KENDALL, looking like he’s contemplating a run for Sheriff at some point, gave an example at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday of how his corrections officer staff saved a man's life recently:

"About 30 days ago I received an email from a woman to thank us for our good, hard work. Her son had been clean and sober for several years. He relapsed and wound up in county jail. The young man had swallowed some drugs in no small amount. He was beginning to have a medical issue. Our staff, including Captain Pearce, our jail commander, were making their rounds that morning when they noticed that this young man was appearing not to be in super good health. After a quick interview with him they got him to the hospital. They do this kind of business on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. But this woman contacted us to let us know that she was appreciative of the hard work our people do. She was glad she did not have to attend a funeral for her son. This is the type of work these guys do on a constant basis with good professional attitudes, and good public service in mind. We realize that the people in our jail — we've got some good people who made some poor choices. I think everyone of us knows a neighbor or friend or coworker who wound up in jail. These folks are taking responsibility and leading the charge making sure that we are taking good care of our people in Mendocino County.”

JAMES MARMON reminds me of myself in the obsession department. Mine is the unresolved Bari Bombing case, Marmon’s the dysfunctional mental health apparatus, especially the privatized part of the apparatus. Whenever I mention the Bari matter DA Eyster waves me away like I'm some kind of giant mosquito. "Hah! Are you kidding?" he says. No, I'm not. If I were a cop I'd be deeply interested in it if for no other reason than professional curiosity. And almost all the site prep has been done on the case, which is solvable via DNA. Note to all you high end crooks out there: If you're going to commit a complicated crime like car bombing your ex-wife, do it here and you not only won't be caught, nobody will be interested. (Even the vaunted FBI managed not to see the obvious in this one. Of course they couldn't see the obvious because.... Well, I see I've cleared the room again, but interested persons are directed to the Bari file on the ava website for the particulars.) 

MARMON undoubtedly knows more welfare law than anybody running Mendo's Helping Pro bureaucracies, not that we're ever talking Rhodes Scholar material when we're talking Mendo. But it's his obsessiveness that puts people off. Except me because I understand, James, I do. If you pay attention to Marmon he's mostly correct. For instance, among today's communiques the big guy says, "Last fiscal year only 18 out of 2081 mental health crisis assessments were conducted in the jail, which resulted in overwhelming the local hospital ERs. The handful of Laura's Law and mental health court participants are only a fraction of those needing services... Allman [Sheriff Allman] claims that up to 80% of inmates incarcerated are prescribed psychotropic medications. By law, services in jails have to be at the same level given in the community. A bunch of Department Heads sitting around ‘ain't gettin er done.’ Had the same bunch actually talked solutions, people would be doing a lot better. Listen to your Behavioral Health Advisory Board (BHAB)."

I EDITED out the personal attacks, amusing as they are, and I don't think Allman put the figure of mentally ill inmates at 80 percent. The figure is lower than that but still high enough that we should all be troubled by it because all these people sooner or later get out and live among us. (80 percent probably have drug probs, but aren't 5150 sober.) If Marmon would take it down a couple of notches and tone down the abuse, the donut drones (hah!) would still ignore him, but the more responsible Supervisors might begin to pay attention. One of his basic points is irrefutable: Our privatized mental health system, which we pay over $20 million (million!) a year for (over $20 million a year!) is not only NOT getting the job done, but Mr. and Mrs. Schrader, the private owners of the system, are unaccountable to anyone, least of all the enabling County CEO Carmel Angelo and, so far, the Supervisors. 

MYSTERY BANNER spotted in Ukiah: "Big Picture Ukiah." It's near city hall, so.... And your virtue signal of the day, posted on the window of the preferred transportation of the virtuous, a Subaru, "I hope something good happens to you today." If I knew you I might wish you the same….

JIM DUNBAR has died at age 89. Not all that long ago Dunbar was NorCal's premier radio talk show man. Dunbar and Ted Weigand moved the daily morning chat briskly along, combining informed discussion with real wit. Compared to the screamers these days — with the exception of the wonderful and always listenable Pat Thurston — AM radio went radically downhill post-Dunbar.

(HISTORICAL ASIDE, re Ms. Thurston: When she was at KSRO out of Sonoma County, hers was the area's most listened to show north of Frisco, but when she dared host the beast of Boonville a few times to discuss, among other things, the Bari Bombing case, she was fired. The presumed bomber's father, a Santa Barbara oil man name of Sweeney, who'd also worked in the Nixon administration — the apple didn't fall far from that tree — was a close friend of KSRO's owner, and Pat was history. But not for long. KGO, recognizing talent when they heard it, signed her up and she's been lighting up their airwaves ever since. I've always felt bad about Ms. Thurston's unfortunate KSRO interlude because it was my presence on her show that got her sacked. With only a few audio exceptions, the Bari case could not be discussed any place dominated by the Bari Cult, and the great speakers of truth dominated KMUD, KZYX (of course) and KPFA, except for the latter station's true free speech stalwart, Larry Bensky. My experience, lo these many years, has been that the true danger to open expression has always come from the pseudo-left, not the political right, at least in NorCal. The political right media dominate around here because what passes for a left only rolls for their speech, and their speech is more mantra-like when it's true and seldom interesting even when it is true. Trump is president because of the lib-left, not in spite of it.)

INLAND MENDO’S show biz-left appeared at last week's meeting of the Supervisors to lobby the board for a full-time job for one of them, probably Alicia Little Tree. Miss Tree and her dreary posse, you see, are going to save us from Global Warming! And get paid to do it, thanks to their sponsor, John McCowen, who also gives them free rent at their 106 Standley Street headquarters. If this bold scam gets more than McCowen's vote, even by Mendo's subterranean standards, the county will have achieved a new low. The fact that it's even being considered while the county's line workers continue without their promised raises is disgraceful.

OF COURSE you've noted that the mainstream media and the lib-lab talking heads are virtually orgasmic that the "moderate" Biden has stepped forward to save the Republic from Bernie and Ocasio-Cortez. Some of you old, old timers may recall that Red Skelton bit where the comedian took off on politicians of the Biden type. "My friends, and you are my friends…"

I'M CONSISTENTLY SURPRISED at how many otherwise seemingly intelligent people consider Biden a plausible character. Biden's so transparently phony, so obviously wears the face of a man capable of anything that… Well, again, look who's president.

COLVIG BACK ON THE JOB, a weasel-lipped presser from Colvig’s boss, Superintendent Westerburg of the Willits School District, annotated by us as a clarifying service:

“I am very pleased  (why?) to announce there has been a resolution on the court case involving Principal Colvig. Based on his cooperation, character (?), and evidence provided (unearthed by DA investigator Andy Alvarado, not you, Westerburg) the district attorney has offered Mr. Colvig a deferred judgement. This means essentially that during the next two years that Principal Colvig needs to not have an issue (another failure to report that one of his son’s sexually mauled a classmate) of this nature and provide support to local districts on how to handle difficult situation like he was faced with. (How to keep your job even though you’ve committed a serious offense.) I appreciate (Why? You also failed to do your job) Mr. Colvig’s willingness (he got a great deal, of course) to accept this offer and put this situation behind us (Us?) without a court case which would involve staff and students and create a great deal of media hype. (The facts are hype?)

This is one of the most complex issues that I have deal with in my long career. (As a featherbedding time server) I look forward to Mr. Colvig being back to work as our principal. WUSD was very careful to not take sides (there was only one side on this one) and waited for the court system to work through the process. (Bullshit. You tried to cover it up until you were caught) During this process the district completed an investigation and am completely confident with my decision to get him back in the office and leading WHS. Mark Westerburg, Superintendent, Willits Unified School District

FROM THE ARCHIVE: MICHAEL COLVIG is the principal at Willits High School, one of a bunch of Colvigs clustered at the Gateway to the Redwood Empire. Michael Colvig's father sits on the Willits School Board, a school board like any other, meaning fully capable, and sometimes blithely willing, to commit their own crimes and misdemeanors. So when little Colvig, Colvig the Third we might call him, sexually assaulted a classmate at an off-campus party, the senior Colvigs, pillars of the Willits educational effort, had themselves a dilemma. Should little Colvig's crude and apparently drunken attempt on his classmate be reported to the Willits Police as the law requires? Colvig the principal decided to handle the matter in-house, his own house, not report it as he's supposed to. 

AND HERE HE IS, Michael Colvig, the first school official in Mendocino County's history booked into the County Jail for failure to protect a student. Judging from his mug shot he doesn't look especially anguished, but then a lot of these school people look kinda unevolved, kinda… In the meantime, the sexual criminal Colvig, Colvig the Third, has left school early to join the Air Force. We hope the already forgotten victim in this case is pursuing a claim against Willits Unified and the fatheads who run it.

WATCHED an interesting documentary on the Mumbai Railway, amazed that all those trains, with their many thousands of daily passengers, coordinated out of a single headquarters in that teeming city, ran all those trains on time. Contrast Mumbai, an "emerging nation" that never quite emerges, with NorCal, where the SMART train often doesn't run at all, and when it does runs nowhere much of where anyone wants or needs to go. And, to top the fiasco off, is dependent on massive annual public subsidies. As is Mumbai's rail system, but it works. 

THE BIG BERNIE MEETING at the Harbor Lite in Fort Bragg on Saturday was one of 2274 nationwide. The Berners have hit the ground running this time but, of course, all the major media are talking up Biden as the antidote to "extremism," which is awfully rich applied to a liberal like Bernie. The sub-argument from the middle of the roaders is that Biden is the only Democrat who can beat the orange beast. As the male version of Hillary, Biden is just about the only Democrat who could lose to monster man, assuming people pay, or allowed to pay by mass media, even the slightest attention to Biden's shameful record. The super delegated Demos are busily figuring out ways to shove Biden down our throats on the Lesser Evil argument they've hit us with for fifty years now. I could live with Tulsi or Liz or even Kamala, but Biden? Never.

MAYBE SOME of you also heard a KQED Radio program last Friday on whether or not the Napa Valley has, or is in the process of, being murdered by the wine industry. To geezers like me who remember what Napa and Sonoma were like before the wine deluge, the discussion is fifty years too late. Anderson Valley is going fast to wine and its related tourism and, it's fair to say whether or not it is fair to say, but I say it from personal observation, the industry has killed the Navarro River as a fish stream and disappeared all the Anderson Valley frogs born anywhere in the vicinity of vineyards. And still they come! The vineyards, that is.

THE RADIO DEBATE was between a bullethead from the Farm Bureau and an ill-equipped elderly woman unable to make the case for the social-environmental damage the wine industry has done to the Napa Valley. The elderly woman got a rise out of the Farm Bureau bullethead when she said a majority of the Napa supervisors are "bought off." Probably not literally, but certainly amply supported by the forces of destruction. A measure to spare Napa any more wine development lost the first time around. Another measure is in the works.

ONE OF THE SPEAKERS mentioned the interesting statistic that the average age of a wine drinker is 59, a pot smoker 27. The implication seemed to be that either the stoners switch to wine in their dotage or the wine industry will succumb to the dopers.


[1] Should we call this time the days of unhappy motoring? The wheels may be falling off the nation, but they remain on the automobile.

It is the age of Autosaurus Destructus:

The beasts began to multiply, and soon there were more of them than the buffalo and the horses, and they spread far and wide. They were faster than the deer and the mountain lion, and people recklessly used them to kill others.

People enjoyed riding the docile creatures and went to many distant places in great comfort with hardly a complaint from the beast. Often they would race the beasts for their own pleasure and profit.

In great numbers, they cut many well-worn paths across continents with their endless roaming and herd instinct. At times, people became their slaves, and at other times They were corralled into camps and sold as beasts of burden themselves.

But they didn’t mind much since the people dug the ground and they were always fed. And sometimes the people went about their own business in the belly of the beast, under its tough outer skin.

Then one day the food ran out, and the people stampeded in chaos and confusion, unable to feed the beasts and the beasts began to starve. Some could no longer fly. The beasts were abandoned and the people could not move about and would soon die. Some people chose death inside the beast, their skeletons now encaged, partners ’till the bitter end.

It was a fabulous, fleeting, foolish age, a wonderful, woe begetting, wanton age.

But it wasn’t really an age, it was more like a moment. It was the Moment that Dinocars Ruined the Earth.

[2] Let’s cut right to the chase on the healthcare “issue.” By “issue” I mean the untenable costs. For starters, you should be doing all you can to stay healthy. That means giving up behaviors that are unhealthy. Examples? Eating unsafe foods, engaging in unsafe practices, going to unsafe places, etc, etc, etc. But let’s just start with eating unsafe foods. Reputable medical experts estimate that 80% of health problems are avoidable through lifestyle choices, mainly what you eat. So for starters, don’t eat bacon, hotdogs and lunch meats. The IARC/WHO classified processed meat as a Group 1 carcinogen, the same category as tobacco smoking and asbestos. So here’s my advice, cut your probability of health problems by 80% by making intelligent lifestyle choices. Then, realize that the other 20% are the subject to the luck of the draw. Sooner or later, something will kill you. Nobody gets out alive. Accept that fact. If you don’t, then you be held hostage by the fear of dying which will ruin the value of whatever time the Almighty has granted you. And be assured that there are people who will look to help you subjugate yourself to that fear and capitalize on it.

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