Off the Record (Sep. 25, 2019)

A COUPLE OF NEW NAMES (to us, anyway) appear on the current list of people who have filed candidacy papers for Mendo County Supervisor. We knew that First District Supervisor Carre Brown was retiring so it’s not surprising that three people have filed to replace her: John Sakowicz, James Green and Jon Kennedy, all three of whom list their residence as Ukiah. In the Second District seat that John McCowen currently holds we find Ukiah City Councilwoman Maureen Mulheren (insurance agent) and realtor Joel Soinila, but not — so far — incumbent John McCowen. (The filing deadline is December 6, but it’s interesting that McCowen hasn’t already filed.) And in the Fourth District we have incumbent Dan Gjerde opposed by Fort Bragg City Councilman Lindy Peters and MendocinoTV’s Terrance Vaughn.

THE DEMOCRATS were passing out postcards at the Boonville Fair titled "A Penny For Your Thoughts" with a penny taped to it. The card read, "You get these improvements in your life because Democrats worked hard for you." On the off chance someone eats these claims whole, Boonville's beloved weekly has, as another of our unending public services, listed them along with a clearer, truer assessment of political responsibility:

AFFORDABLE CARE ACT: A spine-free "accomplishment" to avoid taking on the insurance combines and fighting for single-payer. Requires people, under penalty, to select from private insurers only slightly less expensive than regular carriers. A success in that more uninsurable people can get insurance but woefully short of major reform.

SOCIAL SECURITY: True, the great FDR got it passed into law. But there hasn't been a Democrat like him since, with the possible exception of LBJ, at least on domestic policy but was undone by the pointless bi-partisan War On Vietnam.

HEALTH CARE REFORM: There hasn't been any really unless you consider ObamaCare major reform.

FOOD SAFETY: Bi-partisan agreement. Even Republicans eat.

WOMEN'S RIGHT TO VOTE: It was agitation mostly by Republican women all the way back to Ulysses S. Grant. Bi-partisan accomplishment. Even Republicans have wives, mothers and daughters.

VOTING RIGHTS ACT: Bi-partisan support and passage, but mostly Democrats.

EQUAL PAY FOR WOMEN: True. Mostly Democrat agitation in '63 with JFK but still a work in progress.

BANKING AND WALL STREET REGS: Har de har. Roosevelt-initiated but unraveled by Clinton, 2008 crash caused by Democrat de-reg,  Obama bails out Wall Street without re-regulation in the crash of 2008 and Wall Street continues unregulated with bi-partisan support of Democrats and Republicans.

SECURITY AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION: See above.

WOMEN'S RIGHT TO CHOOSE: The Supreme Court did that.

MEDICARE: LBJ, a Democrat. (But even here this was a subsidy to the insurance industry by having the government pick up the tab for the elderly, with their increased illnesses and injuries.)

EIGHT HOUR WORK DAY: Even Rockefeller was in support. General consensus on desirability of.

PROTECTION OF THE ENVIRONMENT: Nixon, a Republican, got it done.

ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT: Nixon.

VETERAN'S BENEFITS; Both parties outdo each other in support for vets.

INCREASED FUEL ECONOMY: Not really. Democrats, like Republicans, move around in limos, town cars and huge SUV'S.

NATO. NATO? Jesus H! You brag about that boondoggle?

FEDERAL LOAN PROGRAM: Unclear. Which one? Surely not student loans.

HEADSTART: LBJ did it and it went extinct fifty years ago.

NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: The audio wing of the Democrat wing of government and dependent on bi-partisan support for funding. Only rightwing "liberals" of the Mendo type think they're getting the straight scoop.

TAKEN AS A WHOLE, this list of improvements is pathetic, so pathetic Republicans can plausibly challenge most of them simply by saying, "Gosh, we helped." As most people by now are at least dimly aware, both parties are funded by very wealthy people who pursue their private interests via the elected officeholders they fund.. We haven't lived in a democracy since..... oh, since Kennedy, if then.

DAN GJERDE VS. LINDY PETERS in the 4th District, a reader writes: "I think Gjerde is in over his head. He has zero life experience to refer to when making decisions that affect entire communities. It seems to me he believes his District consists only of Fort Bragg and even at that what has he done to improve anything? I believe since Ted Williams has been on the BOS the 4th District has been better served by Mr. Williams speaking out about issues while Gjerde sits idly by. Why are grants handed over to non profits without first taking a look at their budgets? Shouldn't Gjerde be asking to see the budgets before smiling broadly and voting to approve grants that do little if anything? Why is Fort Bragg becoming the homeless hub of the coast? Lindy Peters asks questions and demands answers. He has been out in the working community and has earned his living by holding down a job as well as serving on the Fort Bragg City Council as a council member and Mayor. Peters is an experienced politician who I believe can get things done for the entire 4th District without placing a burden on any one place. Lindy Peters brought transparency to City Government. He pledged to get Channel PEG up again to air the Council meetings on TV. They had been on internet only by Mendocino TV. He is responsible for ALL committee meetings being televised, despite some resistance from staff. He had Monday Morning Meetings with the Mayor. No other City Council person or elected official had ever done anything like it before or since. I believe he will do it again as a Supervisor if elected to keep the entire District involved. County government is operating under a cloak of mystery. That is what I hope will change. Lindy Peters has worked with six different City Managers and I believe all of them will speak highly of him even though there were times of differences of opinion. He is beholden to no groups or individuals. I believe his decisions are based on community input and personal judgement. I believe he will hold true to his commitments and not say one thing to one group and something else to another. He is not afraid to make tough decisions. He is not afraid of confrontation. When voting he always takes time to explain his reasons for voting a certain way. I believe Lindy Peters is a bridge builder— sorely needed in this era of divisive politics."

KNOWN BOTH DUDES for many years, Gjerde all the way back to when he was at Fort Bragg High School. He's been a disappointment as a Supervisor, but Gjerde has had the misfortune, until the election of Williams and maybe Haschak, to be surrounded by weak unto certifiably insane colleagues. But even with the recent new energy on the board Gjerde has been quiescent. No one yet has any idea where Lindy stands on County affairs, but we'll be quizzing all the candidates before March's election with its possible run-off election in June.

TERRY VAUGHAN of Mendocino Television has also taken out papers to run for Fourth District Supervisor. Irony here is that candidate Lindy Peters announces Fort Bragg High School football games for Vaughan's television service, although in lightly populated Mendocino County we do tend to know one another in one capacity or another. 

I’VE ALWAYS wished that Michelle White had run for the big job over the hill, or at least continued on the FB City Council. Honest, smart (very smart), modest, always with her eye on the ball, qualities mostly absent these days in our officeholders.

SO FAR in the 1st District (Potter and Redwood valleys mostly), we have political newcomer James Green and John Sakowicz, the latter an intelligent, articulate guy but a guy whose accompanying baggage will need at least twenty mule teams to tote to candidate's nights. But Sako certainly gets high marks for resilience. No matter how much deserved abuse is heaped on the guy he just keeps on keeping on, and he's got the big advantage of operating here in Amnesia County, where every day history starts all over and you are whatever you say you are.

A YOUNG BOONVILLE GUY posted a facebook plea saying he needed to sell $130 tickets to a Berkeley concert featuring bands called Social Distortion and Flogging Molly. As a guy who tuned permanently out at Sinatra, and a certified geezer besides, occasionally I hear snatches of contemporary music recognizable as music, but my overall impression is that there’s only one song anymore, and it’s called “Baby Baby Baby,” sung by half-naked young women called “Baby Baby Baby” with lyrics set to sexual rhythms consisting entirely of “Baby Baby Baby.”

EXCUSE the statement of the obvious but I can't resist: Only a low grade moron could think blackface "comedy" is funny, so what gives with that Canadian twit of a prime minister slapping on blackface wayyyyyyy past its pull date? Trudeau has always seemed one of a piece with W. Bush and Tony Blair, a rum trio for an historical fact.

AS THE SKIES darken with disaster-bearing chickens on the wing everywhere in the world, one of their harbingers got very little attention last week when the Federal Reserve fired up its presses to dump $53 billion into the poised-to-collapse money markets, and announced that they'd dumped in $75 billion more the next day.. The freshly printed emergency money dump is the first of its kind since the 2008 global financial crisis. As Bloomberg News put it, “The underlying problem is that there isn’t enough liquidity in the system to satisfy the demand and the job of the central bank is to provide such liquidity." In other words, The Giant Ponzi is wobbling. 

WHICH isn't to mention the Iran Crisis. Odd to think of Trump as the voice of moderation here, but even he seems to understand that an immoderate retaliatory attack on Iran in retaliation for its assault on the Saudi oil refineries could lead to even more disaster in the Middle East. (Fuel is already up 30 cents a gallon in Mendo, as of last Wednesday.) Trump said the United States has “many options” including some “dastardly things” to respond to the attack on Saudi oil facilities. No need to woof, Don, we know, we know that when it comes to dastardly we’ve got the full monte.

CEO Angelo is at the helm of a rudderless SS Mendo, the result being an accumulating, unaddressed raft of problems likely to become even more costly (and painful for the public) without intelligent, decisive attention. We agree with the Grand Jury's assessment of the CEO's functioning and think it's past time that Angelo begins enjoying the lush retirement her captive Supervisors have gifted her. But in Angelo’s defense, she’s been cursed by confused, incompetent successive boards, leaving her to run things without direction from the people supposed to provide it.

IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER the probs with the CEO as we see them: County department heads live in fear of Angelo, with several having been disappeared for no explained reason. The Supervisors, wuss-tending in the most benign circumstances, tread lightly around the CEO, four of them so lightly they seem reluctant to even ask her a public question. Fear may work for dictators, but it's not an effective way to govern mellow Mendo. The County's ambulance services are unfairly under-funded and the recent attempt to improve their finances fell flat, largely due to the CEO’s inattention; staff vacancies are being used to balance the budget without regard to the impact those vacancies have on workload, backlog, or services; mental health services are an unaccountable mess, especially the privatized section of them under Mr. and Mrs. Schraeder, owners of most of those services; mental health services need clarification and, hopefully, accountability; low cost housing is stalled, although Mr. Schultz of Planning and Building says three sets of pre-approved small house plans are free for the asking while the Lovers Lane project, whatever its alleged merits, has been stalled for a couple of years now; the juvenile hall is running at a huge deficit because the Supes caved to interest group pressure to keep a dozen or so delinquents in local lock-up — but the CEO let it go unmanaged for years until Lake County withdrew its delinquent funding units, making the Mendo juvenile hall an ongoing sink hole of cost overruns. Perpetual staff turnover among all County employees, including the cops, cripples services offered; insider hiring and the elevation of their own pay and perks has resulted in diminished public confidence in all of the County’s command structure; a weak, ineffective County Counsel habitually farms out work that should be done here.  And as the Major points out all the time, CEO Angelo steadfastly refuses to provide the Supervisors with the most basic monthly budget updates and staffing reports. 

PG&E POURS ON THE INSULTS with a postcard to all the monopoly's Mendo customers that reads, in caps, "Prepare Now For Public Safety Shutoffs." And goes on to list allegedly helpful websites. If PG&E put its dependent customers ahead of its private shareholders PG&E would long ago have put safety ahead of profits and, natch, egregiously large salaries for its executives. I can just see thousands of people fumbling in the dark for their stored gasoline to fuel their generators as walls of hellish flame rise over Mendocino County's tinder-dry ridges.

Stehr

I HAVE no idea how Craig Stehr became affixed to the ava, but he has been affixed for some time. Maybe he'll tell us. I have a vague memory of meeting Craig, I think, at one of the anarchist book fairs in San Francisco, where I also remember being struck by how conventional he appeared, so neatly dressed, so comprehensively un-crazy — especially in that crowd — that he stood out. I'm beginning to worry about the guy after years of regarding him as something of a comic figure, an eco-Quixote with a strong overlay of Hindu mysticism, and I regret now having treated him as a figure of fun. I'm worried about ol’ Hari-Hari. His typically merry wacky-grams posted on our website have taken a more worried, plaintive turn, as well they might as Craig turns 70, with a total income of less than $300 a month, and only an estranged brother remaining of his family. Craig has been couch-surfing up and down 101, and, for the moment, is temporarily couched in Garberville. There are certainly less welcoming communities than Garberville-Redway where Craig has been able to temporarily berth with long-time resident, the simpatico Andy Caffrey. I have no idea what kind of roommate or tenant Craig is, but if he could manage to keep his Vishnus and Hari-Haris to himself I doubt he'd be any more tiresome than the next frazzled, garrulous old boy we find in our neighborhood coffee shops. America is not a happy place for an untethered senior citizen with almost no money and no home. Maybe someone out there has a permanent place for the old guy, a place he wouldn't have to keep on moving from. 

SUNDAY MORNING'S Chuckle Buddy television shows rotated between Trump's and Biden's adventures in the Ukraine, and the Democratic Party candidates descending on Iowa, the latter news consisting of frenetic film clips looking like some kind of home movie about people you'd rather not know.

JOE BIDEN'S troubled son has always made his way by simply announcing himself as a Biden, sinecures that include appointment to a Ukrainian power company's board of directors. Trump, it seems clear, has threatened the Ukrainian comedian recently elected president of that battered country, with cancellation of a lot of US dollars if he doesn't "investigate" the Bidens' involvement in a place far, far from home. The July 1st edition of The New Yorker contains an excellent piece on Hunter Biden, a screw-up of positively Lake County dimensions. 

THE LATEST manufactured outrage at Trump from Democrats is what they do in-lieu of real politics, formerly aimed at improving the lives of everyday Americans. Poor old Bernie, the only true Democrat running for The Big Job is getting age-baited, as is Biden, but Biden really does seem to have lost it, not that he ever had it to begin with. It's clear that the Big Money is getting behind Warren, a much more flexible person — in the eyes of all the wrong people — than Bernie, although Bernie, if he were a Swede, say, would rightly be considered a mainstream social democrat, not the Bolshevik the oligarchy paints him as. Always vote for the candidate the rich oppose. 

TRUMP isn't wrong about everything, not that he's in any position to raise the issue of shady dealing with neo-czars far away in Eastern Europe. Of course Biden's son's placement in a highly compensated do-nothing position in the Ukraine is suspicious.

AND TRUMP certainly isn't wrong about the woeful spectacle of West Coast urban streets, a lamentation shared by most people. All last week the news out of the Bay Area focused on sad stories of small businesses being destroyed by the street pathology outside their doors. And inside their doors. One store owner showed the tv cameras the bruises he'd sustained fighting off berserk street people as they helped themselves to his goods.

AND TRUMP got my attention when he said that federal intervention might be needed to get the walking wounded up and off the sidewalks. Only federal funding could manage the re-introduction of mandatory hospitalization and the hospitals that would go with it to treat the many thousands of people whose public psychosis is destroying public and private space. But it's unlikely Republicans, holed up in their rural fastnesses and gated urban compounds, would fund such an enormous rehab, and on the great unraveling will go until… Well, major unpleasantness. At a minimum. 

"…AND NOW ANOTHER San Francisco business joins that list [of closed businesses.] Mr. Smith’s, a Mid-Market nightclub and cocktail lounge, quietly closed its doors after 15 years. Last month, Max Young, owner of Mr. Smith’s, wrote an email to Mayor London Breed and District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney to express his frustration over widespread drug use and dealings just outside his business. The lack of action taken on this issue and other stressors ultimately led to the closure, according to Young. 'As of today I closed my business, Mr. Smith’s,' Young wrote in the email dated Aug. 31, according to the Examiner. 'Rampant open-air drug dealing and drug use has completely taken over my block. My employees quit, my customers disappeared, no one wants to be on my block, including me. As a native San Franciscan it makes me sick to say that’."

RECOMMENDED VIEWING: Oliver Stone's "Untold History of the United States," in which Stone makes the point that American history, post-FDR, probably would have been much more just, less imperialistic if Henry Wallace had been Roosevelt's fourth term running mate instead of Truman, father of the national security state. The only quibble I have with the production is that it moves at such a fast pace people only vaguely informed as to US history will have a difficult time keeping up.

ALSO RECOMMENDED is Ken Burns history of country music, a definite learning experience for people (like me) who know little about it. I like Burns' emphasis on the history of the music without too much of the music itself, and the history is consistently fascinating. There are, by the way, some excellent self-taught, non-pro country musicians here in Boonville who were part of the Southern exodus of the post-War period, people who grew up learning the old time music and how to play it from their families in Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana. They've mostly passed on, and the canned culture has subsumed them, but back in the day the Fullbrights, to name one talented family, would play for their friends and neighbors. I can still hear the wonderful voice of Karen Thomas at the funerals of local people.

RECOMMENDED READING: "You Can't Win" by Jack Black, the pseudonym of an old time hobo, cat burglar, safe cracker, and a veteran of some very tough jails. Black, addicted to opium, went straight in later years and became the rehab project of Fremont Older, a big name in Bay Area newspapering who encouraged Black to write his memoir. Incidentally, when he was fresh out of jail, Black recuperated at Stanford, an unlikely berth these days for a man with his CV.

AN AVA READER tells us that Arylis Peters, now 70, is out of prison, but has not returned to Mendocino County. It was Arylis Peters whose shooting death of Gene Britton in April of 1995 in the parking lot of Covelo High School put in motion a series of shootings leading to the deaths of Peters' brother Leonard ‘Acorn' Peters and Mendocino County Sheriff's deputy Robert 'Bob' Davis. 

FOLLOWING the shooting of Gene Britton, a large-scale police manhunt began for the shooter, Arylis Peters. Two deputies, Davis (a former Navy Seal) and Dennis Miller, were posted on a ridge overlooking the home of Bear Lincoln, his mother Lucille, and several other Lincolns. 

BEAR LINCOLN & ARYLIS PETERS’ brother Leonard, unaware the two deputies were posted above them, and as they walked up the road from the Lincoln home about five hours after the Britton shooting, exchanged fire with the two deputies on the ridge. Leonard Peters was shot dead. Bear Lincoln retreated back down the road to the area of his home, but apparently made his way back up the hill to exchange fire with the two deputies. In this second round of gunfire Davis was hit and killed. Lincoln fled Round Valley and, four months later, at the San Francisco offices of attorney Tony Serra, turned himself in. 

ARYLIS PETERS had turned himself into Sheriff’s deputies in Covelo two days after the shooting of Gene Britton.

BEAR LINCOLN was tried for the murder of Deputy Davis but found not guilty. Lincoln was defended by Serra in a trial that drew much national attention. 

THE ETIOLOGY of the bitter feud between the Peters and Britton families began a month before the grisly events of April, 14th 1995 when Byron Peters, 17, was assaulted by Neil Britton and some of his friends and badly beaten. Britton was 23 years old at the time. 

BYRON’S FATHER, Leonard Peters, insisted his son go to the police rather than the family seek private revenge. Three times the elder Peters set up appointments with Sheriffs deputies to file a complaint and three times the Peters were stood up. And Byron continued to be harassed by the older men until he foolishly tried to intimidate his tormenters by shooting into the side of a Britton truck while it was parked at a Covelo filling station. Police arrested Byron within hours. The non-response by the Sheriff’s Department to the Peters’ complaint, and the almost immediate arrest of Byron for his crime of shooting the Britton vehicle, seemed to embolden Neil Britton, who then started harassing Byron's father, Leonard. The feud festered. 

THE FEUD FESTERED until Arylis Peters, Leonard’s brother, confronted Neil's father, Gene Britton, in the parking lot of the Covelo high school. Both men were armed, but Peters proved faster on the draw, and shot the elder Britton as Britton reached for his gun. 

THIS EVENT led to a manhunt for Arylis Peters, which in turn led to the deaths of Leonard Peters and Deputy Bob Davis. 

ARYLIS PETERS did not participate in his own defense. In a modern day record for Mendocino County, Peters was sentenced to 25 to life a mere seven weeks after being charged. His lawyer, Public Defender Ron Brown, later appointed to the Mendocino County Superior Court, didn't present much of a defense, never raising self-defense even though it was known that Gene Britton also had a gun the afternoon he was shot and killed. 

AS IF THIS SAD series of murderous events is not complicated enough, in the shooter’s car that day was Kathleen Lincoln, who was driving, and her husband, Les Lincoln, who was in the back seat. Neil Britton testified that Les Lincoln handed Arylis the rifle he used to shoot Gene Britton. Les had the charges against him dropped for lack of evidence, but his wife Kathleen received three years in prison for being an accessory after the fact to murder. Neil Britton was also one of only two civilian witnesses called to testify in front of the Grand Jury against Bear Lincoln (while Lincoln was on the run), the other being a mystery witness by the name of Robert Steitler. 

ON LINE COMMENTS OF THE WEEK

Was making my morning coffee reflecting on the beans’ packaging: various plastics for self-sealing and venting, and some combination of foil over plastic-coated paper, I assume. I was struck by the transitory “convenience” of all this material that will one way or the other re-enter the biosphere someday. It’s all from earth, so far as I can tell. There was a time (prior to The Graduate) when we packaged everyday stuff in paper. We might transfer our paper-bound pound of coffee beans into a ceramic jar with a rubber gasket to keep it fresh. Not as convenient as the Trader Joe’s (owned by Aldi so I am told) re-sealable vented soon-to-be-in-waste-stream bag — after all one has to take the time to pour the beans into the ceramic jar and then handle the relatively heavy thing each morning. OMG!

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