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Off the Record (May 15, 2019)

IN SPITE of an impassioned and reasonable plea by defense lawyer Justin Petersen for leniency, Jantz Sterling Clinkscale was sentenced Tuesday morning (May 7th) to seven years in the state prison for transporting a kilo of methamphetamine into Mendocino County from Los Angeles, a violation of Health & Safety Code 11379. Noting Mr. Clinkscale’s mild nature and lack of violent crimes, Judge Cindee Mayfield imposed the mid-term of three years, rather than the aggravated term that Probation Officer Sandra Plaza was asking for. However, an additional one year was added because Clinkscale had three prison priors; and the mid-term of three years was doubled due to a strike prior. 


It was this strike prior that Mr. Petersen was asking the court to strike – Petersen explained that Clinkscale had pled to an assault with a deadly weapon – a car – as part of a reduced plea deal in the past, and that it wasn’t really a ADW (assault with a deadly weapon) because all Clinkscale had done was scratch the bumper of a Dodge pickup with his VW Jetta while trying to get away from another unmarked police car, that no one was hurt and the damage was insignificant. 

Deputy DA Joe Guzman said that the damage and injuries were irrelevant, the conviction must stick as a strike prior, and Judge Mayfield (somewhat reluctantly it seemed) agreed. These kinds of deals are common in the courts and it often happens that a strike prior for scratching a bumper on a big truck – something the legislature never had in mind when crafting the Three Strikes law, Petersen said – and other similarly minor incidents cause these harsh sentences to be imposed where reason and compassion makes them seem wholly out of proportion to the crime. 

(Bruce McEwen)

MUCH EXCITEMENT last week on Spy Rock Road, northeast of Laytonville. According to the Sheriff, an apparent pot deal gone terribly awry involved “three black males,” a puppy shot dead purely as a statement of serious intent, followed by two car jacks and one attempted carjack, with the final vehicle successfully jacked from two dixie chicks driving a vehicle ornamented with confederate flags. The robbery involved a hundred pounds of stolen bud, a Mexican and his girlfriend now in custody, the three black males last seen near the foot of Spy Rock in the confederate-festooned vehicle, with two previous escape vehicles wrecked and abandoned on Spy Rock. The three robbers are described as Jamaicans, assuming they weren’t faking their accents. The victims of the evening’s events include an adult male and his two guests, one of them the owner of the murdered puppy, all in their 30s, all residents of Laytonville. Two adult females, assumed to be the dixie chicks and owners of the vehicular tribute to The Lost Cause, are also listed as “victims of carjacking.” Additionally, “one female and two males” fought off an attempted carjacking as they successfully eluded the desperados.  The two suspects in custody are identified as Rigoberto Santos Landa and Katherina Andrea Speer, both of Ukiah.

Landa, Speer

MUCH UNHAPPINESS in the Mendo Ag Department where unhappiness has reigned for three years now. Joe Moreo lasted five days as department head, and Diane Curry, previously the interim ag commissioner, was summarily marched out department offices the instant her resignation reached CEO Angelo, but not before Curry had delivered some harsh truths to the Supervisors about the County's hopelessly failed pot licensing program. (Smart, capable people have always seemed to threaten Angelo. She’s summarily dismissed three that we know of.) The current unhappiness seems to be focused on the new boss, Harinder Grewal. One employee has filed a grievance against him, at least two other women are trying to transfer out. The department has been under-staffed and overworked ever since the introduction of the County's cockamamie marijuana licensing effort.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED READING, and a definite collector's item, can be yours for a flat $10 care of Jonah Raskin, Petaluma Hill Road, Santa Rosa, Ca 95404. The reading I'm recommending? "Oaky Joe Munson's Marijuana Adventures & Misadventures, as told to Jonah Raskin, with an introduction by the inimitable Emily Hobelmann who's no stranger to outlaws herself. The collected tales of the vivid Mr. Munson are attractively presented in booklet form, complete with color photographs of the legendary Oaky Joe with friends and in his garden. 

THREE KENNEDYS have teamed up to write a piece for Politico critical of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. for his anti-vaxx “misinformation campaign that’s having heartbreaking—and deadly—consequences.” RFK Jr. is one of the country’s most prominent anti-vaccine hysterics who has called inoculations “a holocaust” and accused drug makers, the government, and the press of being in cahoots to hide danger from the public. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Joseph P. Kennedy II, and Maeve Kennedy McKean write: “We love Bobby. He is one of the great champions of the environment ... However, on vaccines he is wrong. [RFK Jr.] is part of this campaign to attack the institutions committed to reducing the tragedy of preventable infectious diseases. He has helped to spread dangerous misinformation over social media and is complicit in sowing distrust of the science behind vaccines.”

INVESTIGATORS from the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office are asking the public for assistance in an ongoing investigation involving Daniel Alonso. 


DA investigators have interviewed several witnesses and victims from separate cases and have reason to believe there may be more victims. If you have any information on suspicious conduct with Daniel Alonso, please contact DA Investigator Scott Mayberry at (707) 961-2652 or DA Investigator Bryan Arrington at (707) 463-5414.

VISIBLY TREMBLING, COUNTY AUDITOR Lloyd Weer somewhat nervously but usefully explained on Tuesday that the suspiciously low sales tax revenues of about $4 million which he labeled as “Actual thru 3/31/2019” in his May 7 third quarter budget report are actually “two months in arrears,” and therefore Weer’s end of year sales tax revenue projection of at least $6.4 million is reasonable. (Mr. Weer has been reporting more current sales tax revenue data to the Measure B Committee in prior months, not pointing out that his numbers are at least two months old, but whatever…) Weer also said that because of the two-month delay in sales tax receipts he won’t know the final sales tax revenue number until September of 2019. But we’re happy to accept his rosy projection and hope the money comes in — in spite of what many see as a drop in overall economic activity in Mendocino County in recent months.

Auditor Weer

WEER ALSO noted that property tax revenues which were reported as about $21 million “actual thru 3/31/2019,” do not include the second (April) tax bill receipts, but only the 55% or so allocation from the November bills. Therefore, Weer still hopes that property tax revenues will be near the nearly $37 million projection. (Never mind that in April the April distribution to the AV Community Services District was right on schedule and brought the amount up to a little over the projected amount — but that might be related to the Teeter Plan payment process for local districts.)

THAT SAID, the County’s budget picture remains precarious and muddled as CEO Carmel Angelo noted several times on Tuesday that “we just don’t have the money” to cover all the departmental overruns and new projects that were reviewed in budget chart after budget chart. (Sheriff’s overtime, keeping the juvenile hall open, upgrading the county’s computer(s), roof repairs, etc. etc.)

THE BOARD made some preliminary partial allocations to — not to say threw some imaginary money at —this year’s demands on the County’s General Fund. Some of this year’s overruns are expected to be covered by last year’s surplus of several million dollars. And the County’s vacancy rate continues to save money — albeit at with some undefined reduction in service. Supervisor John McCowen declared that whatever the actual numbers are he was still confident that County would end the year with some residual surplus, however small. But since nobody knows how it’s all going to work out, the “budget” process still has more to do with guesswork and shortfalls, than with an orderly allocation of available funds. 

UNDERSHERIFF Matt Kendall told the Board at Tuesday’s budget presentation that he needs one or two (new/unbudgeted) staffers just to respond to a flood of new public records act requests under SB 1421, the new law that requires (some) personal records for law enforcement to be made public. Kendall said each record must be individually reviewed to see what needs to be redacted under the law. But we have since heard that the flood of requests is by a statewide news coalition (“The California Reporting Project”) including the LA Times, Sacramento Bee, ACLU, UC Berkeley, Public Radio outfits, and others who have apparently sent out blanket requests to every police organization in the state. This approach seems unreasonable. Targeted requests for specific cases, or specific departments, fine. Ask away. But burdening already overburdened admin staffs in local sheriff’s offices for broadscale personnel data for no other reason that there’s a new law, including retroactive/prior records? Overkill. The Sheriff should at least send a bill to news agencies that make such broadscale requests.

(Mark Scaramella)

EARLIER THIS WEEK, we posted the following item from Gary Levenson-Palmer who originally posted it on the Fifth District Facebook page overseen by Kathy Wylie.

WELCOME TO MENDO, GARY “I can't find where a simple building permit is issued online? We need a new electrical box installed and will be using a licensed contractor. Even the process of getting a permit is not clear on the Building Department's County website. Seems I have to drive 45 minutes to Ft Bragg or 1 1/2 hours to Ukiah. And if I lived in Gualala - add another half hour to that. My contractor would charge us a half day (or more) so we were going to pick it up ourselves to save some money and time. I looked up most counties and they have a simple online system. Here's the one for Sacramento:

And here's the one for Sonoma:

If the County is worried about climate change, why have people in Gualala drive between two and four hours round trip for a simple building permit?

(Gary Levenson-Palmer)

THE NEXT DAY, Mr. Wendal from the Coast commented:

“Welcome, indeed. County services in Mendocino aren’t designed in a manner to serve residents efficiently. They are designed for the convenience of department heads with no regard to those they are entrusted to serve. The department you’re attempting to work with is but one example.

“The Mendocino County website is a rude joke for anyone needing a building permit, or in search of any other information, for that matter. The “How Do I…” tab at the top of the home page brings up “Apply for a Building Permit” as an option. Click on that and the “Forms and Handouts” page pops up. There is a “Building Application” in the list of forms. That form doesn’t give information about what to do with your completed forms. Nor does any other page in that department. The “Frequently Asked Questions” brochure that you can print out doesn’t share how or where to submit your permit. It seems like that would be a frequently asked question. And the “Frequently Asked Questions” web page for Planning and Building Services is completely blank! 

“Before getting in your car, give them a call. Some of the pages that show office locations include fax numbers; maybe you can fax your application if you have access to a fax machine. Good luck in your dealings with our county government.”

AB 1437 amends the California murder rule that says if you're present with a killer when he murders someone you are just as guilty as he is. In many cases, as in the local Tai Abreu matter, there is no evidence that Abreu was involved in the murder part of what began as a robbery. Abreu had just turned 19. He received legal representation maybe a stutter step this side of lynch law — one day trial, no witnesses called on his behalf, no evidence he committed the murder. Abreu's been in prison for nearly 20 years where he's amassed a perfect behavior record.

THE STATE LEGISLATURE, recognizing the obvious that goes unrecognized by the justice system, passed 1437 into law, meaning a sliver of people convicted of murder under the old one size fits all felony murder rule, can get their convictions re-considered.

MENDO DA EYSTER, taking his cue from the state's DA's Association, and unable to argue the facts of the Abreu case because there's no evidence Abreu committed murder, is arguing the constitutionality of AB 1437, claiming AB 1437 cancels the murder law voted into law. Most judges, so far, disagree, correctly reasoning that since the legislature is elected to legislate the legislature has the right, nay, duty, to legislate, not to mention a fiscal responsibility to reduce prison costs. 

LAST WEEK, the Supervisors pulled a McCowen-sponsored item aimed at creating a climate change committee with people from the torpid Mendocino Environment Center. The MEC people want to insert Alicia Little Tree Bales as boss at $94,000 a year. John Sakowicz spoke against it as a committee requiring a lavishly paid director position, suggesting instead a volunteer climate change committee. 

SUPERVISOR McCOWEN should have excused himself from the discussion given his associations with the MEC and Miss Tree. But there he was, conflict of personal interest and all, with a weasel-lipped statement about how serious an issue climate change is and how "we" should all do our part to combat it. 

IT'S INSULTING ENOUGH that Supervisor McCowen is using climate change to get his close personal friend, and tenant, Alicia Littletree Bales, a cush $94,000/year position, he doesn't bother to excuse himself from the board discussion. He just goes sonorously on as if he doesn't have a flagrant conflict of interest. 

TIED SECURELY TO Carmel Angelo's apron strings, as are Supervisors Dan Gjerde and Carre Brown, McCowen blithely placed the climate change committee job on the consent calendar. Doubt the obvious ethical prob presented by McCowen's gross palsy-walsy-ism would have bothered anybody in the CEO's office, but two of McCowen's colleagues got the scam pulled from automatic approval and, in the open discussion, strained to steer themselves around creation of both a bogus advisory committee on climate change and a highly paid job for Ms. Bales.

McCOWEN presented himself as if he were disinterested in the job for his pal, Supervisor Brown seemed to think it was a good idea, Gjerde was incoherent, and it was left to Williams and Haschack to say, essentially, Whoa. Let's bring this back another day for discussion. Nobody was about to challenge McCowen, I guess, out of some misguided notion of collegiality. (Gjerde has been disappointing as a supervisor. We expected him to be a version of Williams, but at the moment he's doing a Hamburg sans comfort dog. He shows up, says virtually nothing, introduces nothing, picks up his fat check, heads back to the Coast. The Fort Bragg solon seems to have peaked as a Fort Bragg city councilman, where he almost singlehandedly put an end to the most flagrant civic corruption in County history. But with much less perilous corruption right in front of his supervisorial puss, Gjerde is silent.)

CLIMATE CHANGE, as a formal matter of discussion by our supervisors, hadn't arisen before the ambidextrous "activists" from the otherwise somnolent Mendocino Environment Center, housed at 106 West Standley in a building owned by Supervisor McCowen, group-appeared before the supervisors to present themselves as the very cutting edge of the issue.

THING IS, most people in Mendocino County, and the country, are not only aware that the weather has become dramatically more violent and unpredictable, most people conscientiously comply with laws aimed at beating back environmental damage or at least reducing it. You could grab the next twenty people off State Street who would be as knowledgeable as anybody affiliated with the Mendocino Environment Center, historically a kind of drop-in center for dimwits and random unemployables.

BUT WHERE THERE'S public cash available for sitting around donut-chatting about doing good without actually doing anything good or bad, here come the cash and carry libs, the grant gobblers and, in this case, Supervisor McCowen's pal.

CAAC SHOULD GO ON A BACK BURNER, an editorial by KC Meadows of the Ukiah Daily Journal: We agree with the many, many people out there in the community who are skeptical about the idea of a Mendocino County Climate Action Advisory Committee. We are astounded that the supervisors tried to sneak this through on the consent calendar last week and are glad that it got pulled and delayed.

Sure, we believe climate change is real. And yes, we believe it is largely a man-made phenomenon that needs to be addressed with new policies around energy and pollution. What we don’t believe is that this county needs to launch a brand new county entity, led by an additional highly paid employee, to come up with policies that will save the planet right here from our county. 


Are there things this county can do in planning and building, in agriculture, in road building and resource conservation that would be more environmentally friendly? Of course. And we largely already know what they are. We could start using permeable pavement, we could switch away from traditional asphalt to light colored road surfaces, we could do more to encourage alternative home building, we could do more to encourage tree planting and shade building, we could do more to be fire safe and prevent the weeks of smoke pouring into the atmosphere. We see no reason why all our highly paid county department heads can’t come up with lists of things their departments can do to improve environmental outcomes among the activities of their departments. If they can’t, they should not be department heads. There’s plenty of information out there about things local governments can do to improve environmental outcomes. There are numerous state and national environmental organizations out there with an almost endless menu of options and suggestions for just that. Ask any one of them to come up with a summary of things this county can do and we’d bet they’d be on it immediately and come up with a county plan in a matter of weeks.

Instead, we are considering putting together a huge committee of people, all with their own agendas to begin yet another adventure in ‘consenus’ building over a difficult issue. Good luck. We envision a coming manifesto full of new policies dictating all kinds of activities without any input from the general public which supervisors will hold up as a wonderful forward thinking new vision and which will be ignored by county staff and reviled by the public.

And to hire someone at more than $100,000 in salary and benefits to herd those cats is nonsense. We see a major boondoggle coming and we urge the county supervisors to rethink this whole idea. Why not start with getting climate ideas from the people you are already paying to be leaders in your organization and see where the low hanging fruit already exists.

Building a whole new bureaucracy around an issue the county has limited, but relatively simple, control over makes no sense.

(K.C. Meadows, Editor, Ukiah Daily Journal. Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal.)

SUPERVISOR GJERDE, apparently stung by criticism of his catatonic performance lately, wrote on the MCN chatline: 

To whom it may concern:

As a matter of fact, no expenditure was on the consent calendar, or anywhere else on this Tuesday's agenda. The agenda only contained a consent calendar item that described the composition of community volunteers who would serve on the committee, but no money.  

Most people don't make a habit of commenting on things that are not on a meeting's agenda. That would explain why none of the supervisors, including myself, spoke about a possible future expenditure, as it was nowhere on Tuesday's agenda.  

When a budget action item appears on a future agenda, that would be the time to talk about it. We will see if any supervisor proposes to allocate funds to the Mendocino Environmental Center. It won't come from me.  

I hope that helps.   

Dan Gjerde

A Fourth District supervisor who finds practical solutions and

long-lasting improvements for our communities

ED NOTE: Not really, and you should have been aware something foul was up when, on April 15, McCowen introduced the subject, complete with a parade of his MEC tenants going on about global warming, about which they have no more knowledge than any other reasonably informed Mendo person. Then, at the May 7th meeting, the idea of a special committee to discuss global warming was pulled from the consent calendar for discussion by Haschack and Williams because they seemed to sense the committee notion was going to involve the creation of an expensive position to preside over whatever the MEC came up with. The dollar number for the lucky person selected for a lush salary for overseeing the proposed climate change group was front and center during the May 14th meeting during the budget discussion. Of course, Gjerde doesn’t read the only paper that covers the supervisors, which would seem an added dereliction of his duties. Fortunately, many of his constituents do read our coverage of the Supes and at least some of them hope Gjerde is soon aroused from prolonged stupor.

JOHN SAKOWICZ WRITES: " .... Judi Bari and her protégé, Alicia Bales are interchangeable. Entitled. Bullies. Narcissists. Self-righteous. Bales’ Board of Directors drink the grape kool aid, or they are thrown off the Board. Mike Sweeney, Bari’s husband and co-conspirator — and self-proclaimed Maoist — was another very dangerous person. The car bomb that almost killed Bari was almost certainly planted by Sweeney. Thank God Sweeney moved far away. He now lives in New Zealand. Guess where the founders of the MEC, Judy Ball, and her late-husband, Gary Ball, moved when they left Ukiah. You guessed it — Colorado…"

I THINK it's fair to regard Judi Bari as a truly tragic figure. I believe she had to steer attention away from the truth of the terrible event that abbreviated her life out of devotion to her daughters, who were then small children. If she'd told the truth about the bombing she and Sweeney, by then her ex-husband, would have been packed off to the federal pen and, of course, have lost custody of their two daughters. Bari-Sweeney had felony info on each other, and I think it is clear they also both knew the true origins of the MEC, which I think were federal. 

ALL ANYBODY really has to know about the "mystery" of the bombing is that no one from the Bari-Sweeney families has ever said a public word about the event, never once demanded to know the truth of it, and that family includes The New York Times star science writer and Judi Bari's sister, Gina Kolata. Second, the bombing was never seriously investigated by the feds, who claimed they had to declare it cold "because no one would talk to us." 

THAT THE FEDS deliberately took a pass on solving the "mystery," in my opinion, is even more obvious because they subsequently teamed up with Bari's lawyers prior to the phony libel suit brought by Bari and Cherney to co-write the case to exclude any reference to Who Done It? The federal attorneys and the Bari-Cherney attorneys mutually agreed in a closed hearing not to call any person skeptical of the Bari-Cherney-FBI version of the event. (I was excluded by name.)

I ONLY KNOW Alicia Littletree from two occasions, one in Willits, the other in Arcata-Eureka, where she arrived in force with a gang of apparent street people to disrupt my presentations. Bari never needed back-up; she was very smart, a good writer, articulate and so on, a huge cut above the present MEC mob who, of course, she dominated out of her superior gifts. Bari and I were good friends until she denounced Steve Talbot for daring to name Sweeney as the primary suspect in his documentary on the bombing for KQED. Talbot's excellent film was falsely challenged by Bari as a "lie," but it was Bari who was revealed as the liar because she had steered Talbot to Sweeney as responsible for the attack on her, if that's what it was. 

THIS FAR down the line from the 1990 car bomb we are unlikely to ever know the truth, but Talbot has come closest to revealing it. It was Talbot, thanks to Bari, who discovered that Sweeney had been involved in violent events all the way back to his days as a Stanford student in the late 1960s.

OF COURSE here in Amnesia County where history starts all over again every day and you are whatever you say are, Sweeney's past with a "Maoist" group that committed at least one murder didn't prevent him from parlaying a couple of lush recycling grants, steered to him via the Democratic Party (in the form of Wes Chesbro), into an even lusher job he created for himself with the oblivious County of Mendo, as the County's trash czar. 

THE GIRL he left behind. Leaving the country for New Zealand, Sweeney has abandoned his girlfriend, Glenda Anderson, formerly a reporter for the Ukiah Daily Journal and the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. All the years Glenda dutifully functioned as Sweeney's media bodyguard, even getting his recycling press releases published as news stories, seems to have earned her desertion when she was no longer of any use to the devious little criminal. 

GARY AND BETTY BALL fronted the MEC until Judi Bari's death in 1997 when they departed for their apparent original home in Colorado. I understand Betty Ball is still with us, her husband isn't.


 [1] I live without hope,

We’re finished.

Decades of hyper conformity and the accompanying hyper consumerism, has pushed the last train out of the station.

As a young man, why even try anymore?

Looking around me, as I walk down the street, most people’s faces (young and old) are filled with the looks of horror, desperation and fury.

I don’t want to become one of them as I get older, but I feel myself becoming one despite my desperate efforts not to. There feels like no way out of this hellish world!

I hope it all collapses, so that “history” is possible to restart, so that there is some possibility and future other than clinging to an increasingly impoverished, narrow institutionalized life.

But with climate change why even hope for that?

Looking forward to a life of Misery and Hopelessness!

-A Millenial

[2] There certainly is a crisis, all right. Largely a financial crisis, I believe. All this political theater is just a smoke screen to cover the fact that we are rapidly approaching the bitter-end consequences of financialization. What I fear is that war will be the answer to this pickle of a problem. That’s usually the way it goes – certainly has been in the past. Only this time, with all the new mega-weapons, all bets are off whether anyone gets out alive. We are fast approaching the “kick over the chessboard” solution, I fear. We should all hope my fear is unfounded. I sure hope so.


  1. Michael Koepf May 15, 2019

    Gosh, Judi, Judi, Judi; here we go again: Judi the innocent martyr and victim of her Maoist, Baader Meinhof husband. I think I’ll call my pal, Joe Kenda (a TV cop) and run it by him.
    “Joe, this guy Sweeney is supposed to have car-bombed his wife.”
    “He was a far-left terrorist masquerading as a humble, environmentalist garbage-guy by day. His wife was a sweet, innocent tree hugger that everybody loved. He was jealous.”
    “How did he do it.”
    “Well, it’s complicated. First, he planted a bomb at a lumber company accompanied by a note stating that the company was screwing workers and destroying the forest. That bomb didn’t work. Then he put a bomb inside her car. That worked. Then he wrote a fake letter in the voice of a Christian anti-abortionist, who claimed to hate Judi because she was linked to the devil and militantly pro-abortion. The letter included details on how both bombs were made. The details were spot on according to the FBI. Somehow, he (the husband letter writer pretending to be an evil Christian) coerced either a woman from the middle East or China to lick the stamp on the envelope in which he letter was sent.”
    “So, you’re telling me this husband set up this Christian guy as both a bomb making, environmental radical while at the same time he’s a pro-life, bomb making extremist? My, my, my, I’ve solved over 400 murder cases, but I haven’t heard that one before: a husband setting a fall guy up as a suspect, a suspect who is out to save the trees and out to save babies at the same time. Mike, that makes no sense. Somebody is pulling your leg.”

  2. Bruce Anderson May 16, 2019

    I understand why this guy is a tv cop.

    • Michael Koepf May 16, 2019

      He was actually a real cop; and a very good one.

  3. John Sakowicz May 16, 2019

    Bari, herself, told Stephen Talbot that Sweeney was the chief suspect in the bombing, but Talbot felt constrained by journalistic ethics not to report Bari as a source of that suspicion, as she had told him in confidence. Talbot kept his mouth shut for years. In 2002, at the conclusion of the Bari/Cherney Civil Rights trial, Talbot went public reporting Bari’s suspicion that Sweeney planted the car bomb and knowledge of Sweeney’s 1980 firebombing of the Santa Rosa airport, in an article in

    Bari’s public narrative was that the timber industry or the FBI were behind the bombing. At first, this won widespread support from Bari’s buddies at Earth First! and the MEC. But it occurred to some that the lady doth protest too much. Bari’s attempts to dictate what was acceptable to say about the bombing alienated supporters and raised suspicions that she was hiding something.

    What was she hiding? Who was she protecting? And why?

    Facsimiles of the death threat three letters sent to Bari and their envelopes, along with exemplars of text written by various suspects, were sent to Don Foster, an English professor at Vassar College and an expert in attributional analysis of documents. Foster’s analysis was unequivocal: the three letters were from the same writer, and, among all the suspects, they matched best with the exemplars from Sweeney.

    Also, there were rumors of a murder-for-hire solicitation by Bari against Sweeney.

    Why this animus between Bari and Sweeney?

    Well, it wasn’t the garden variety animus that usually follows a divorce. No, I think Bruce Anderson is right. Bari had a Mutually Assured Destruction Pact with Sweeney. Bari and Sweeney had sufficient guilty knowledge of each other to implicate the other in numerous felonies.

    Firebombing is the obvious felony. Bombmaking is another felony. Marijuana possession and sales may have been a third class of felonies.

    The partially-intact Cloverdale mill bomb — among other forensic evidence — was never fully investigated by the FBI. But why? My theory is Bari and Sweeney were in bed with the F.B.I.’s counter-terrorism unit in San Francisco and with COINTELPRO.

    After a verdict was reached in Bari/Cherney Civil Rights trial in 2002, jurors were quoted saying things like, “Investigators were lying so much it was insulting … I’m surprised that they [the FBI] seriously expected anyone would believe them … They were evasive. They were arrogant. They were defensive.”

    Clearly, the FBI was hiding something. A $4.4 million price tag for having the case restricted to “malicious investigative malpractice” on the part of the FBI was a small price for the feds to pay. The FBI was busted. They were illegally spying on U.S. citizens.

    • Michael Koepf May 17, 2019

      Got it! “Bari and Sweeney were in bed with the FBI’s counter terrorism unit in San Francisco with CONINTELPRO.”

      In other words, detective Sakowicz, they were both junior FBI agents involved in a violent, domestic spat, who built bombs (failed and functional) sabotaged logging machinery, and tried to destroy an airport while acting clandestinely on behalf of the United States Government in an attempt to ferret out domestic terrorists. That makes perfect sense. Case closed. Joe Kenda, you’re no longer needed here.

  4. John Sakowicz May 17, 2019

    To the Editor:

    Here in Mendocino County, nothing is as it seems. Even National Book Award-winning novelist Thomas Pynchon picked up on this when he wrote Vineland.

    Back in the 1970s and 1980s, Not all of Mendo’s redneck hippies were not about “sweetness and light”. Not all of Mendo’s redneck hippies were not about “peace and love”. Some of our hippies of the 1970s and 1980s operated more like a loose confederation of criminal gangs. Drug money was too big. And eco-terrorism was a way of life.

    Bari and Sweeney led the way.

    At some point, the nonviolent activities of blockades of job sites at logging sites, tree sitting, and tree spiking shifted to bombmaking. Nonviolence wasn’t enough. Our local activists were learning a thing or two from the likes of Ted Kaczynski and others. Remember, too, Sweeney already had a history of violence going back to his student days at Sandford. His personal history as a Maoist was real.

    Believe me, eco-terrorism is real. Do not doubt it.

    According to the FBI in June 2008, eco-terrorists and extreme animal rights activists represent “one of the most serious domestic terrorism threats in the U.S. today”. They committed over 2,000 crimes and caused over $110 million in damages since 1979, against targets including lumber companies, animal testing facilities and genetic research firms.

    Check it out:

    Continuing with Earth First!’s history of violence, on April 22, 1990, a group called Earth Night Action Group sabotaged power poles in southern Santa Cruz County, causing power outages. Upon hearing of that incident, Bari’s responses included “Desperate times call for desperate measures,” and “So what if some ice cream melted?”

    Those statements were interpreted as approval of sabotage suggesting that Earth First! might be involved in sabotage.

    Further credence was lent to the theory that Earth First! was involved when a restricted-distribution flyer authored by Darryl Cherney calling for “Earth Night” actions, featuring renditions of a monkey wrench, an earth mover, and figures representing saboteurs in the night, was made public

    My take on local history?

    Our first wave of redneck hippies here in Mendo included some very bizarre and violent types.

    I also strongly believe the MEC was an FBI front. Earth First! was morphing into a violent group.

    I also strongly believe Sweeney was co-opted at some point. I believe that Sweeney probably became a confidential witness for the FBI, if not an informant.

    Bari and Sweeney cannot be viewed as one entity. Early on, differences between the two emerged over their diverging life and political paths, and over reconciling nonviolent political action with violent action. Sweeney was the violent one.

    On May 9, 1990, a failed incendiary pipe bomb was discovered in the Louisiana Pacific sawmill in Cloverdale. A hand-lettered sign saying “L-P screws millworkers” was placed outside the mill. The bomb had “signature” features in common with two explosive/incendiary bombs used to ignite a wooden hangar at a west Santa Rosa airstrip in October 1980 — one of which was also a dud — and the bomb that exploded in Bari’s car on May 24, 1990.

    I strongly believe Sweeney made all these bombs.

    Bari’s new boyfriend after her divorce from Sweeney, Darryl Cherney, was violent, too. His reputation for advocating sabotage and propensity for hostile outbursts towards timber workers was well known.

    Bari liked bad boys. That was her “tragic flaw”, as we would say in lit class.

    I also strongly believe that Earth First! was a lot less effective than we are led to believe. Their effectiveness is a myth.

    A lie.

    In 1990, even the Sierra Club withdrew its support.

    — John Sakowicz, Ukiah

    • James Marmon May 17, 2019

      That sick bunch with their “monkey wenching” just about destroyed my father John Woolley, sabotaged his equipment twice by putting sand in the oil. He dealt with the blockades and rock throwing in his attempt to get his harvest to the mill. I have nothing good to say about that group of terrorists and their supporters.

      James Marmon (aka Jim Woolley)

    • Michael Koepf May 17, 2019

      He that nibbles at the facts may eventually feast on truth.

      Do girls who love “bad boys” turn into bad girls, or could it be the other way ‘round? And, say… where was Judi going, when her car went boom, boom, boom, after the Earth Night Action Group turned off the lights in Santa Cruz?

  5. John Sakowicz May 17, 2019

    …”Where was Judi going, when her car went boom, boom, boom, after the Earth Night Action Group turned off the lights in Santa Cruz?”

    On May 23, Bari and Cherney stayed overnight at a house near MacArthur Boulevard and Park Boulevard in Oakland. They departed the house on May 24. Bari was driving. Cherney was her passenger. A pipe bomb exploded in her car shortly after they started driving.

    Bari and Cherney were on their way to Santa Cruz to organize for Redwood Summer and musical events in Santa Cruz.

    The pipe bomb was a near-replica of the other pipe bombs Sweeney had built.

    Both Bari and Cherney would have been killed if the bomb had exploded as designed.

    The rapid presence of FBI bomb investigators at the scene, virtually simultaneously with first responders from the Oakland Police Department, raised suspicion that the FBI knew about the bomb beforehand and might even have been responsible for the bomb. In Bari’s words, it was as if the investigators were “waiting around the corner with their fingers in their ears.”

    Indeed, the FBI had known about the bomb.

    How did the FBI know?

    It was later revealed that there had been a tip to law enforcement, suspected to be from the person responsible for the bomb — probably Sweeney — that “some heavies” were carrying a bomb south for sabotage in the Santa Cruz area.

    If Sweeney couldn’t kill his ex-wife, he could set her up.

    The rapid response of the FBI to the bombing and their immediate focus on Bari as a suspect rather than a victim are consistent with surveillance of Bari after receiving a tip about a bomb.

    The FBI took jurisdiction of the case away from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, alleging it was an eco-terrorism case. The reputation of Earth First! for sabotage made the media open to the police version of events.

    Judi Bari herself, a little more than two years later, on May 24th 1993, is captured on videotape by Kay Rudin, matter-of-factly stating before hundreds of witnesses at the San Francisco Federal Building that her ex-husband made an exact replica of the bomb — it was so precisely constructed it fit perfectly beneath the driver’s seat of the Subaru model she was driving when the real bomb exploded.

    An exact replica — duct tape covered pipe, nails used for shrapnel effect, pocket watch, 9-volt battery, safety switch, motion switch, wires and other elements made it a replica.

    So one question remains.

    Why would Sweeney want to kill his ex-wife?

    Lots of reasons.

    Sweeney had a history of violence with a Maoist/Communist group at Stanford that was responsible for at least one murder. Sweeney and Bari were embroiled in contested property settlement. Sweeney and Bari were embroiled in contested custody fight for their children.

    It was also rumored that Bari was about to accuse Sweeney of spousal abuse.

    Women are killed by intimate partners—husbands, lovers, ex-husbands, or ex-lovers— more often than by any other category of killer.

    Bari was so afraid of Sweeney that she talked about hiring a guy named Irv Sutley to kill Sweeney before he killed her.

    There’s your history lesson for the day, Michael Koepf. Go back to writing your fiction. The Fisherman’s Son was quaint.

    Here in Mendo, life is stranger than fiction.

    Welcome to Mendo!

  6. Michael Koepf May 18, 2019

    Johnny, when it comes to fiction writing, I concede: your fictional abilities are far superior to mine. Let’s review your chapters of “The Murderous Garbage Czar.”

    In chapter one, we learned that the Czar and his wife, Judi, are undercover agents for the FBI bent on infiltrating an eco-terrorist cabal. Discord and divorce follow. For a host of unsubstituted reasons, the Czar seeks revenge, and in a cunning, complicated scheme he plants a bomb at a timber company office, which fails, then plants a bomb in his ex-wife’s car, then writes a letter in the voice of a Christian anti-abortionist confessing that he made both bombs, which means he was, simultaneously, an anti-abortion activist and a violent tree-hugger. Hmm. Puzzling; complicated, but I’m certain that with your superior fictional abilities, your explanation will soon unfold. Also, in chapter one we meet, Don Foster, a world renown attributional analyst, who attributes—with absolute certainty—that the Czar authored three death threat letters sent to his wife. Johnny, sadly, did you know that Don Foster has been defrocked as a fraud, havening attributed an elegy to Shakespeare that Shakespeare didn’t write; made a fool of himself in the JonBenet Ramsey case, and was sued (along with his university, and the publisher of Vanity Fair) for accusing an innocent man in the Anthrax case? Don Foster currently hides out at Vassar under his deck and makes no further peep concerning attributional analysis. But, Johnny, lets read on.

    Chapter Two. We learn that Judi likes “bad boys.” She hooks up with bad boy, Darryl Cherney, a “violent” man weighing in at 99 pounds, with curly hair and skinny arms, known for his “hostile outbursts” towards burley loggers without getting his lights punched out. Fast on his feet? Judi and her new bad boy set out for Santa Cruz where eco-terrorists have recently cut down a power pole that turned the lights out in a hospital and deprived electricity to an ice cream making machine. They’re transporting a guitar and violin and who knows what to advance their cause: a musical entitled Redwood Summer designed to put timber workers in unemployment lines.

    Chapter Three. Suddenly, a bomb explodes in Judi’s and the bad boy’s car. “The FBI knew about the bomb beforehand.” The pipe bomb was a near replica of the “other bombs” the Czar built. How many? Two or three? Scores? One thing’s for certain as this tale plods on: The Czar and the FBI have been in cahoots for a very long time. Was the Czar on top of the grassy knoll? Attention husbands. If you want to get rid of your wives, take your beef to the FBI. The plot thickens with complications when we discover that Judi tried to hire a hit man to knock off the Czar. Chapter three concludes with a shocking revelation: while still a student in college, the Czar “was responsible for at least one murder,” while part of a Maoist terrorist group. Johnny, is this fiction or is this fact? If it’s a fact, take your evidence immediately to the Sheriff or District Attorney. There’s no statute of limitations for murder…or making bombs for the FBI. Wow, what a story! So true to life. So simple to understand. Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, your readers beg for more.

    However, a timeless note of caution from a humbled, subordinate writer. I just want to help you out. Johnny, think about this: “It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.” Mark Twain.

  7. Eric Sunswheat May 18, 2019

    RE: Michael Koepf. May 17, 2019 at 6:43 am
    Got it! “Bari and Sweeney were in bed with the FBI’s counter terrorism unit in San Francisco with CONINTELPRO.”
    In other words, detective Sakowicz…

    ——->. Sacowicz was a Correctional Officer (jailer) and eligible to draw a County pension via the Mendocino Sheriff Department, so he may have deep throat back channel information, that is not at liberty to discuss verification thereof, so all the cards may not be on the table.

    We are not talking Tarot cards, but maybe high security need to know eyes only. Judi Bari did publicly renounce Earth First bad actor tree spiking, which was never part of her platform, after a logger was badly injured in a North Coast freshly spiked forest slated for removal.

    • James Marmon May 18, 2019

      She may have renounced the tree spiking in the aftermath of the north coast tragedy but she never renounced all the other shit that eco-terrorist group inflicted on local folks who were just trying to make a living.


      • Eric Sunswheat May 18, 2019

        Sorry for loss of just trying to make a living.

        Judi Bari was trying to keep jobs for local loggers by limiting removal to sustainable harvest rotation levels, while protecting heritage trees and forests.

        Instead, most of the old growth was cut down on a short rotation liquidation scheme, working cutters out of a job.

        Some of the out of work loggers went to Idaho to skid out logs on frozen winter trails, to make ends meet.

        It’s significant to note that Earth First non violent non blockade meetup actions occurred in Mendocino County before arrival of Judi Bari, despite romanticized myths to the contrary.

        • George Hollister May 18, 2019

          The problem with Judi Bari, and company, they knew nothing about anything they either were against, or were for. The only people who took them seriously were, for the most part, unknowing themselves. So when the thin shining veneer is scraped off, there is no substance there. Just an image of something that existed in a bunch of people’s imaginations.

          BTW, it was not a logger, but a mill worker in Cloverdale who was injured by a saw hitting a spiked log. And EF had nothing to do with it.

  8. Eric Sunswheat May 18, 2019

    ‘Ninja bomb’ is a bladed anvil that shreds terrorists with no risk of collateral damage, Pentagon says.

    Collateral damage of indirect fire missions conducted against enemy targets in heavily populated urban centers has long been a criticism levied against U.S. forces.

    Never before has the role of fire support specialists ensuring artillery, air, mortar and even naval gunfire strikes hit precisely while minimizing the potential of civilian casualties.

    But over a dozen current and former U.S. officials told the Wall Street Journal last week that the possibility of collateral damage has been significantly reduced due to the secretive development of a missile capable of eliminating targets sans any explosion.

    The weapon has been in use for some time, while its existence has been kept under wraps by the Central Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon, according to the Wall Street Journal.

    Spawned from the widely-used Hellfire missile, the R9X — also known as “the flying Ginsu” or “ninja bomb” — is equipped with a non-explosive warhead capable of pummeling its target with over 100 pounds of screaming metal.

    The precision ninja bomb is also kitted out with six internal blades that can cut through buildings or cars with ease. These long blades deploy in the shape of a halo around the missile moments before it pulverizes its target like a heaven-sent anvil cheese grater, officials told the WSJ.

  9. Michael Koepf May 19, 2019

    This coming week will mark twenty-nine years since a device exploded in Judi Bari’s car. Speculation continues concerning the origin of that bomb; most exclusively in the pages of this paper, which consistently purports that Michael Sweeney, Judi Bari’s former husband, was the originator of that bomb. Unlike Pakistan, mainland China, Saudi Arabia, Hollywood, New York and progressive academia, innocent until proven guilty (ei incombit qui dicit, non qui negat) has been the mainstay in the American mindset and legal system. Newspapers are not strictly bound to this principal. Liberties are often taken, especially when it comes to “public figures,” but for the most part, readership—the America public (especially those with an IQ above 100) expect some semblance of “innocent until proven guilty” to be the foundation of journalism.

    I’ve never met Michael Sweeney, and have little knowledge of what he has or has not done in his life, or whether it was good or bad. To date, so far as I know, there is not one single piece of evidence that ties him to the crime of bombing the mother of his daughters. Speculation and opinion do not count in a court of law. Speculation and opinion occur frequently in newspapers and the blabbering faces on TV, but it’s up to the audience to decide whether it’s true or false or just noise to fill a room. Group think, moronic or otherwise, certainly comes in play. Repeated often enough, even parrots believe they’re right.

    One of the most important pieces of evidence in the Judi Bari bombing case was (and is) the infamous Lord’s Avenger Letter. Judi Bari didn’t write it. She was in a hospital bed. The letter was a fraud. The Christian man at which the letter was aimed was completely alibied. If the letter proved anything at all, it proved that a conspiracy was involved to get Judi, and probably others, off the hook. If Sweeney was the alleged author and alleged bomber, why would he write a letter like that? In the cockamamie theory that he was out to harm his wife, why provide her with an alibi? A rookie cop could answer that.

    There’s yet a record of DNA—forensic evidence—from the stamp and envelope in which the Lord’s Avenger Letter was mailed. When the bomb went off in Judi’s car, DNA evidence in criminal cases was little known nor seldom used. The idiots involved with writing the Lord’s Avenger Letter may not even have heard of the use of DNA when it came to solving crime. The DNA on the letter indicates that it was mailed by a female. Michael Sweeney is not a female. And, I’m not a forensic cop, nor an expert in DNA, but when the female DNA from the flap and stamp was examined at a population affinity site, it was found to relate to non-Caucasian groups, notably either a female with ancestry from China or the Middle East. Find the lady who licked the stamp. The Golden State Killer was found using a company that traces identification from ever expanding genealogy sites. Currently, the tracing company can only be used by law enforcement. It costs from five to seven thousand bucks. Work or not, it’s worth it to try and end the endless finger pointing since Judi got into her car.

  10. ed gehrman May 24, 2019

    There are two pieces of evidence that can solve the Bari bombing: the Argus letter and the “you won’t get a second warning” letter. The Argus letter contains information that was know by only a few people including Mike Sweeney. Investigators were able to find and analyze a sample of DNA from that letter. The “You won’t get a second warning letter” was sent to Judi a few weeks before the bombing and was tested for DNA; a sample was also found. These two DNA samples matched one another so they were both deposited by the same person. That person is Mike Sweeney. His DNA will match the DNA found on the two letters. Of course, he could prove me wrong by giving a DNA sample that didn’t match. Why hasn’t he?

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