Off the Record (August 28, 2019)

CALUM HUNNCUTT UPDATE (From Special Correspondent, Andrew Scully): Mendocino August 20th — In a phone interview today, Officer Marin of the Ukiah CHP provided the following update on the death of Calum Hunnicutt at the intersection of California Highway 1 and Little Lake Road last month. "This is an active and ongoing investigation, and we are pursuing every lead thoroughly. Beyond that we have no announcement to make it this time."

THE OUTSIDE MEDIA and the Press Democrat will never give her the credit, but it was HumCo's intrepid Kym Kemp of Redheaded Blackbelt who not only broke the story about Rohnert Part's rogue cops, but kept after it until the story couldn't be ignored by RP’s suspiciously unaware civic apparatus. Operating under their own fake auspices as "interdiction" officers, two of Rohnert Park's finest lurked around the Mendo-SoCo county line where they pulled over southbound marijuana transporters to rob them of dope and, in some cases, large amounts of cash money. And they carried out these highway robberies while driving clearly marked Rohnert Park police cars. How the two beyond brazen bandidos managed these crimes without Mendo authorities being aware of their presence is not yet known. Also not known? How did they know who to interdict? Were they tipped off by a HumCo source that dope and cash were headed south on 101? Surely they weren’t stopping people at random….

OUR PRESIDENT has had a big week and it was only Wednesday: Before noon he'd denounced Denmark for refusing to sell Greenland, said that the Israelis "love me like the second coming of God" and, casting his eyes heavenward declared, "I am the chosen one to take on China." (This last was clearly a joke but, and here’s where Trump has a case, the mass media took his joke literally even knowing, presumably, he was joking. I say ‘presumably’ because some of these bubbleheads bringing us the news……)

THE TRUMP ADMIN is becoming downright thrilling, so thrilling, and you read it here first, an intervention may soon drag Trump off stage. When you seriously mess with the International Order of Money, as Trump is doing, your days are numbered.

AND THE MONEY BOYS are nervous. Trump's impulsiveness, best exhibited in his tariff war with the Chinese, whacked the stock market last Friday 650 points. Trump joked about it, apparently oblivious that the big boys of high finance aren't laughing, that the last thing they want in an already precarious global ponzi is a guy running America with the impulse control of a child, a very young child.

IN A BLIZZARD of tweets blasting the Federal Reserve and China, Trump wondered, “Who is our bigger enemy, Jay Powell or Chairman Xi?” Powell was appointed chair of the Federal Reserve — a collection of private banks in whose interests our economy is organized. Powell was appointed by Trump in February 2018 on the apparent assumption that Powell would do his bidding. 

ON HIS PART, speaking from Big Capital's annual rendezvous at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Powell said that "uncertain trade environments" have created a “new challenge” for policymakers and vowed to “act as appropriate to sustain the expansion” in the US economy — meaning more stuff for more people forever.

TRUMP came back with an unsupported claim that, “Our Country has lost, stupidly, trillions of dollars with China over many years,” and that the Federal Reserve failed to act. “As usual, the Fed did NOTHING! It is incredible that they can ‘speak’ without knowing or asking what I am doing, which will be announced shortly,” Trump tweeted in another neat statement of his megalomania. How could Powell and his banker employers act or not act without checking in with Big Mac? 

THEN Trump leaped clear over the top. "American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing... your companies HOME and make your products in the USA.” He then slapped more tariffs on the tariffs he'd already slapped on China.

SURELY you've noticed the deterioration in public speaking by people who do a lot of public speaking. "Incidences" for incidents; "sort of" and "kind of" preceding declarative sentences; "proactive" for initiative. And veritable deluges of unintelligible babble from the chuckle buddies of television and radio as they talk over each other and laugh hysterically at unamusing remarks. I always get the feeling that the chuck buds on, say, Good Morning America and the many shows like it will, one morning, begin a round of unprovoked laughter that ends in pure hysteria and mutual death grips.

KIT ELLIOT, Mendo County Counsel, has taken a position as Nevada County’s County Counsel. “The Board is excited to announce Ms. Elliott as our next County Counsel,” said Board of Supervisors Chair and District V Supervisor Richard Anderson. “We had a successful interview process during our closed meeting earlier this month and believe she will be a great fit for the organization.”

“MSP was made aware by a viewer today is Deputy District Attorney Tim Stoen's last day serving Mendocino County. He may be the longest/oldest practicing Deputy DA in the state - 81 years old. If you happened to have had lunch at Noyo Harbor Inn Thursday from noon-1pm, you'd have witnessed a fond farewell to an incredible, humble and golden-hearted man. The consensus on the coast, and elsewhere, is Tim Stoen is a good person who has a deep commitment to trying to make the world a better place. He also is an author with a harrowing experience with the People's Temple — he lost a son in the mass suicide in Guyana." (MendocinoSportsPlus)

HELLO, HISTORY? GET ME RE-WRITE: Nothing personal against Tim Stoen. Always liked the guy myself. But contrary to the rosy send-off above, much of Stoen’s adult professional life was spent as consiglieri to pure evil. It's true that Stoen's son died at Jonestown, but the Stoens turned the boy over to the man they called "the greatest human being…" in the first place. Stoen stayed with the People’s Temple way too long, long after many other, far more rational members of Jones' deluded flock had fled. Give Stoen high marks for courage, though. He returned to the Mendo scene of the crime, the place Jones amassed his initial fortune by bilking the local, state and federal care systems and, with stolen money in the bank, moved on to San Francisco and greater things. (Mendo's always been a handy site to mount complicated crimes — cf the Bari Bombing.) Having settled in San Francisco where he quickly seduced Big Lib by helping them, among other things, rig a pivotal election, and where Jones lent his most fetching females to debauched political big shots before relocating to the equator. Guess who was not only employed by the Frisco DA but, when that election fraud was challenged, spent many nights sleeping in the DA's office the better to “edit,” shall we say, the case files? (An excellent book detailing Jones-Stoen's adventures in SF election fraud is called “Season of the Witch” by David Talbot.) Then, after the carnage in Guyana, Stoen returned to Mendo to work for the Mendocino County DA's office, again establishing that in Mendocino County you are whatever you say you are, and history starts all over again every day. And Stoen's role as prosecutor in the Kenny Roger's case was, shall we say, not what anybody looking in might call ethically clean, that travesty getting a big boost from an idiot local judge since deceased. Nor does Stoen's wholly dishonest book tell any of the truth about the Temple which, as an inside man, he knew. Well, what the hell. Nobody's perfect. I wish good things for the guy in the years he has left. Most anybody else with his experience would either have committed suicide or gone off to smoke opium in the Celebes. 

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

RECOMMENDED VIEWING: Most people in the U.S. don’t realize how violent and tumultuous the year 1994 was for Mexico. And most people, including this people, don’t know much at all about the big country on our south border. But the excellent Netflix documentary called 1994 after that pivotal year for Mexico, is an important crash course that helps us understand why and how Mexico has lurched into near chaos. In ’94, the leading party’s candidate for president, Colossio, was assassinated in Tijuana, NAFTA was being protested by rebels in Chiapas, and the entire political system that had run the country for decades was thrown into crisis. Fascinating stuff.

WHY DO THE POT PEOPLE keep rolling over for whatever the County imposes on them? Why don’t they take Mendo to court for unfair over-regulation compared to the wine industry? The wine people sued back in 2012 when the state Water Board simply asked them to develop their own procedures to prevent total dewatering of the Russian River. Could Supervisors McCowen and Gjerde be right that some pot farmers are simply outlaws and rather than arguing about over-regulation they’re just selling on the black market? (Duh and double duh.) Why do the pot people put so much faith in Supervisor Williams carrying their water for them? At meeting after meeting the pot people who are trying to go legit whine about the over-regulation only to be ignored. It’s hard to have any sympathy for people who can’t seem to organize themselves at least to the degree the wine industry does to either circulate a new pot permit measure or refuse to participate en masse. Or take the County to court. 

SURE MENDO has completely screwed up the pot permit program. But why are the main targets of this colossal mess just sitting back and taking it? A few years ago the County of Mendo put forth its own pot permit regulation Measure as an alternative to the one the pot people put up. It was accompanied by an advisory companion measure that said the revenues derived from the pot permit program should go to roads, mental health, permit regulation and emergency services. 

TROUBLE IS, there are no revenues. Never will be. The pot permit program is a giant money pit into which County money flows but very little pot money flows in after it. (Mark Scaramella)

THREE applicants for Mendo’s Climate Change Committee boondoggle, these from the Third District: Ellen Drell of the erstwhile Willits Environment Center; Javier Silva, Raider’s fan and a guy “who has worked for my Tribe in environmental issues and effects of climate change"; and Walter Smith of Willits, a retired logger.

JOHN SAKOWICZ WRITES:

Mendocino County Today reports, 'BOS Chair Brown continued trying her best to swat down the radical idea of monthly departmental reporting.'

What is the county hiding? It’s clear the county is hiding something. Both Chair Brown and County CEO Angelo fight like hell in opposing the idea of monthly departmental reporting.

Any theories?

My theory is that the county is already in a deficit mode. Only a high job vacancy rate, privatizing mental health services, shifting pension liabilities to MCERA, and other accounting maneuvers, make it appear that the county has a balanced budget.

MARK SCARAMELLA REPLIES:

Occam’s razor applies here: Monthly reporting would lead to pesky questions from the Supes and the horrific possibility that something would have to be done about budget and staffing problems before they arise — like every organization outside of Mendo does, as McCowen noted. The CEO wants to carefully control what the Board sees and does not want the Board to have any information which might require her to do anything she does not already want to do. It’s common for senior staff to run organizations and keep elected officials in the dark, despite the supposedly oversight positions that their elected officials may have, especially when the elected officials are unpaid such as most smaller local organizations. But when the elected officials are as well paid as our Supes now are, they should be expected to demand and get management reports and take an active role in managing the organization and seeing that systems are in place to ensure that policies and directives are carried out. The high vacancy rate might help balance the budget in the general fund departments, but shouldn’t be much of a factor in the state and federally funded departments. Therefore vacancy rates should be tracked along with workload, backlog and output especially in general fund departments. Once the reporting is in place and ongoing the departments will run better simply by the fact that they know they have to produce reports that management (and the public) will be looking at.

JEREMY HONTOU WINS BIG RIVER MARATHON IN 3:37:37.

Congrats, Jer, but that's a pretty slow winning time. Hell, even I did a 3:40 in the Frisco marathon many years ago. Lucky for you Jim Gibbons and Jerry Drew, Mendo's best-ever distance runners are on the inactive roster. Stan Miklose of Down Home Foods, in his prime, woulda done that race in about three hours. Ditto for Amber Trotter out of Ukiah High School. That kid could run and run. 

Trotter

MYTH? When a magnitude 5 quake hit the Southern California desert one day last week it reminded me, as all reports of quakes remind me, of something I read years ago that said the globe's fault lines, big and small, are all connected, however tenuously, that the earth is like a giant cracked egged with all its fractures connected.

THE SQUEEZE IS ON, a reader writes: "It's my birthday on Sunday and it's got me flustered. Yay, I am old(er) and it's getting harder to live in the woods like an Old Hippie. I live very ruff and tuff. "Rustic" does not describe it. Can't move. too poor. stuck here. My homeowner’s insurance went up so high that I am priced out of having any, a tragedy akin in these dangerous fire times. More of the war on the poor. We (all of us!) should have low cost homeowner’s (and also earthquake) insurance! Why not? Why do only The Rich get to save their homes? I am freaking out to not have Fire Insurance. Scary! Very. I will be homeless. Just what we need: More Homeless People."

A FEW NOBLE SOULS have been agitating for truly publicly-owned power for years, some of them even sitting on the Public Utilities Commission, but PG&E continues as a profit-driven private business whose first loyalty is to its shareholders. Personal note, which I’ll keep at less than Sunswheatian length: Just the other day I got a call from a lawyer in Cleveland who said I owed PG&E $1300 for my previous Boonville address. I thought the call, and an e-mail, were scams and ignored them. Turns out the Cleveland collection shyster was correct, at least in representing PG&E’s claim that I owe the money. I thought PG&E simply shut down power or denied it the next time a captive customer applied for new service, which I did three years ago when I moved three-quarters of a mile down the street. But PG&E signed me right up at my new address, no problemo. Then, suddenly, this bill for 1300. As one of millions of Americans who don’t have $1300 bucks for emergencies, and I consider paying PG&E such a low priority emergency I will only pay them in increments of ten bucks or so a month, if I pay them at all, which I will probably have to do because my Missus…. well, she’s a much more….. well, she tends to take corporate thieves at their word. A second consideration here is PG&E’s recent policy of murdering whole neighborhoods of their customers, all of whom presumably not in arrears, and then there’s PG%E's even more recent policy of cutting off power to whole areas of neighborhoods to avoid, the mammoth monopoly claims, the murders of even more of their customers. I guess I’d better pay up.

ON LINE COMMENT OF THE WEEK

Ten years ago, the internet salesmen sold us that the future of data storage was going to be the cloud, that we were going to go paperless and cashless. Just use your cards.

The reality is if you put something on line or work it on your PC, you better figure that it is open to the public. If you put it in the cloud, figure it is public knowledge eventually.

Confidential information will need to go back to paper. The Hi tech snobs will fight it, but a few lawsuits over confidential materials will stop it.

There is no cure for cyber insecurity, someone will eventually hack into it. Maybe when Target gets hacked enough, they will stop putting customer information on their data base, or Capital One. Yes, the facilitators will be clobbered by their users.

Seriously, I wonder with all the cyber problems if the computer has actually saved us any money in the workplace.

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