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.
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.
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.
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.
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: https://actonline.saccounty.net/CitizenAccess/Default.aspx
And here's the one for Sonoma: http://sonomacounty.ca.gov/PRMD/Permits-Online/
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?
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.
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.
ON LINE COMMENTS OF THE WEEK
 I live without hope,
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!
 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.