- Active Weather
- Another Fire
- Santa's Helper
- Kudos Elkjer
- Kandinsky Birthday
- Generations Meet
- Hendy Day
- Candidate Green
- Kendall Appointed
- Impeachment Rallies
- V Punt
- Yesterday's Catch
- Attic Thrift
- True Capitalists
- Smuggling Game
- Dem Collaborators
- Ugly Genie
- Corporate People
- Homeless Youth
- Mental Health Audits
- Tax Scam
- Found Object
AN ACTIVE WEATHER PATTERN is expected through the weekend. Snow above 2500 feet will be possible today in Trinity county. A warm front will generate rain and gusty winds tonight through Thursday, primarily for Del Norte and northern Humboldt counties. Gusty winds are expected on Friday before widespread rain arrives on Saturday. Showers and lower snow levels are expected by Sunday behind the front. (National Weather Service)
A STRUCTURE FIRE broke out around 10am Tuesday morning in downtown Boonville in an area behind Lauren’s Restaurant and the Live Oak building. First responders quickly hooked up fire hoses to the hydrants at the Fairgrounds across the street as smoke billowed up behind the two prominent retail establishments. It is believed the fire started in the rear of a small home in an area roughly 50 yards from Highway 128. Boonville native Eddie Carsey owns the site of the blaze and several nearby structures.
The Tuesday morning structure fire in Boonville behind Lauren’s Restaurant was out by 1pm, having effectively destroyed a small house with small (and permitted, legal) daycare operation in the back. No one was hurt. Highway 128 was closed in both directions for about 30 minutes.
AV Fire Chief Andres Avila said Tuesday’s fire was the sixth in a string of structure fires in Anderson Valley since Thanksgiving, three of them in downtown Boonville.
“This was not an arson,” a nearby resident declared. Apparently, neighbors of the Tuesday fire heard some kind of explosion and when they looked in that direction, a fire was breaking out in the small house-structure and they immediately called it in.
The small house is nestled in a grove of trees which did NOT catch fire, mainly because of the quick response of local firefighters, most of them volunteers.
The front part of the house is still intact on the outside, but the interior suffered so much water and fire damage that it seems doubtful that it could be economically repaired. Several firefighters said that the fire was hard to attack because there appeared to be three or four old layers of roof on fire.
KUDOS FROM A PRO
Kudos to Thom Elkjer
Just read Thom Elkjer’s article about the fire in downtown Boonville. Very good job. Thorough and comprehensive. Well written too. Actually I was not an English teacher so I should not comment on the quality of his writing. I was a professional firefighter/captain for 35 years. So I feel qualified to comment on the content of Thom’s article. Well done.
Kirk Van Patten
Retired CAL FIRE Air Attack Captain
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO RUSSIAN PAINTER WASSILY KANDINSKY born on 12/16 (1866-1944).
GRADE SCHOOLS & SENIORS
by Renee Lee
For the past several weeks, local teacher, Charlotte Triplett, has brought a group of students to senior lunches on Thursdays as a living history project. Not only do these students break bread with the seniors but conduct mini interviews to find out what it was like to grow up in a different generation while getting to know our local elders better. It has been a rewarding learning experience for both junior and senior citizens of our Valley and we hope to continue this program.
AV Girl Scouts for helping bring the holiday spirit to the Senior Center. The Girl Scout came in and helped brighten up the center by decorating our Christmas tree and lended their beautiful handpainted teapots as centerpieces for the dining tables. The Girl Scouts teamed up with the Brownies last week to serenade the seniors as they ate their supper with delightful Christmas carols. It was truly enjoyed by all.
Deborah Pichler’s 4th grade class. The class presented the AV Senior Center with a donation check in the amount of $252! The 4th graders earned over $500 in a penny drive and split their proceeds between the Senior Center and another local charity. We appreciate every penny!
Many thanks to these fine young people and their amazing leaders!
WALK OFF THAT HANGOVER
"Our Gift to you this New Years Day - free day use for Hendy Woods State Park for All Mendocino County residents - covered by the Hendy Woods Community - Know your zip code. There will be an interpreter led walk through Big Hendy Grove - starting at 11 am in the Day Use Area.
Enjoy and Happy New Year!"
Hendy Woods Community
JAMES GREEN DISCUSSES CANDIDACY FOR FIRST DISTRICT SUPERVISOR
AFTER BEING TOLD that they couldn’t legally call a special election to replace retiring long-serving Sheriff Tom Allman, the Board unanimously thanked Allman for his service and appointed Undersheriff Matt Kendall Tuesday morning.
Kendall: “I’d like to thank the board for this vote of confidence in me. I truly appreciate it. It’s been good working with you guys. In 1990 I began working here when I was a very young man. It was a little before my 21st birthday when I started with the County. I’ve been here all this time and I don’t look like I did when I was 21. But I’m still the same person on the inside. My goals have not changed at all. Public service and the exact same goals as the Board and the CEO. We will get through this and it will be a really, really good run.”
Kendall paused and then, remembering Allman’s anecdote about his first contact with Kendall at the age of 16 when Allman made Kendall and a friend pour out some beer being underage for booze.
Kendall: “Our little run-in all those years ago could have turned out differently. He was a different guy and so was I. Thank goodness it wasn’t all that good of beer, trust me. You don’t get much when you’re 16.”
DUMP TRUMP RALLY IN UKIAH
RICK WEDDLE WRITES:
I enclose a pic of the early part of the turnout for 'Impeach/Remove Twinky-boy' demonstration in Waimea, the Big Island (Hawai'i), HI, this afternoon. The pic is from the start-off time at 4:p, and shows near 40 People, who just instantly materialized, out of nowhere. By the time we left, 15 minutes later, there were close to 50, and more arriving from every direction. There was a brisk, cool tradewind, promising some rain, coming from the customary NNW, the traffic was pretty thick and steady, and almost EVERYBODY honked and waved in approval/support. The initiating outfit, 'stand up america,' I think, says at this time some 200,000 nationally have stood up and said 'get rid of 'im.'
Also, I found this lovely quote from T. Roosevelt, again, and thought it 100% pertinent: After accepting "...embarrassing..." amounts of contributions from 'robber-barons,' T.R. had the cojones to say, "...Corporate cunning has developed faster than the laws of nation and state...Sooner or later, unless there is a readjustment, there will come a riotous, wicked, murderous day of atonement."
And just in case the PUBLIC message has not been made clear enough to the Nightmare at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., here's the deal, Mr. Coprolite-in-Thief: TIME'S UP!
ON MONDAY the Supes predictably punted on the question of enforcement of the voter-approved measure declaring standing dead trees to be a public nuisance — in spite of County Counsel’s clear declaration that MRC was most definitely NOT exempt from the measure, Measure V, which passed back in 2016 and is just now coming up for possible enforcement.
BUT NOT BEFORE coast enviro Beth Bosk broke her own record of ejections from the Board meeting when Board Chair Carre Brown angrily told her to leave after her second interruption of the Board’s discussion.
IN THE END, the Board voted 4-1 to turn the enforcement question over to an ad hoc committee of John Haschak and Ted Williams — after Williams amended his ad-hoc committee motion to include a requirement that the County’s Code Enforcment staff look into a pending complaint about MRC’s tree-poisoning practice and report back in around 30 days (depending on the Board’s 2020 meeting schedule).
FOR THEIR PART, MRC rep John Anderson said they stood by their three-year old position that they are exempt, implying that they’d go to court should Mendo try to enforce the Measure. Anderson added that MRC is already doing the best they can — whatever that means — to avoid poisoning where possible.
WHAT THE BOARD SHOULD HAVE DONE was to demand that MRC “voluntarily” offer a plan to mitigate the nuisance and then the County could evaluate it and perhaps negotiate further improvements before deciding to go to court.
THAT OPTION remains, theoretically. But MRC clearly won this round because they successfully avoided having to do anything at all by simply postponing enforcement indefinitely using a version of the timber industry’s tried and true old method of “talk and cut” which could now be called “talk and squirt.”
ALONG THE WAY to the 4-1 vote, Supervisor Dan Gjerde took an entirely uncalled for shot at Supervisors Williams and Haschak, accusing them of “grandstanding,” adding, “Why are the two new supervisors determined to be in the minority? They are just looking for an opportunity to be outvoted. Supervisor Williams refused to support this before, and now he’s looking for an opportunity to be in minority again.”
Supervisor Williams replied, “I would prefer to be in majority. We have only asked that Code Enforcment follow up on the pending complaint. We need it to work on this. The ad hoc is still necessary.”
Gjerde backed off: “Good. That [the inclusion of the ad hoc committee] was not part of first motion.”
HAVING DELIVERED his personal insult — perhaps in reaction to Williams having taken the lead on several important actions recently, including a few in Gjerde’s district — Gjerde voted for Williams’s motion as it passed 4-1 with Supervisor McCowen being the only Supervisor willing to go on record as having no problem with MRC’s tree-poisoning practices.
CATCH OF THE DAY, December 17, 2019
MARK ANASTASIOU, Fort Bragg. Failure to appear.
KATLYNN ANDERSON, Redwood Valley. Under influence, disobeying court order.
MAURILIO CASAREZ, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.
HOGUIER HERNANDEZ, Nice. Contempt of court.
JODI HODGES, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
DAYNICE SHILLINGS, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
JENNA WILSON, Fort Bragg. Burglary, grand theft, petty theft, failure to appear.
THE ATTIC THRIFT STORE has many great Christmas gifts. The store just received a big selection of New Books. $2.00 each, lots of new looking clothes just arrived and much more. Come down to the Redwood Coast Senior Center, store opens at 10am. Today's lunch is Chicken Stir Fry. Lunch served at 11:30-12:30. Come join us.
Thrift Store Manager
Dining Room Manager
490 N Harold St, Fort Bragg, CA 95437
PART 3 OF A SERIES: GEORGE AND JOHN
by Del Potter
Greñas expected as much support as he could demand from his new gringo cultivation partners. Over the next several weeks, we began to ship seeds and clones to Mexico, but Greñas wanted more assistance with his entire smuggling operation. One of the biggest problems he had was concealing odor. Another was protection of the product from mold. I found a company in San Rafael that manufactured industrial vacuum bagging machines with thirty inch sealing bars for extremely large bags. Combined with odor reducing barrier bags, these machines would seal and inject nitrogen into the packaging for large bales, making them both odor and mold resistant. At $20,000 a piece, Greñas wanted a dozen to start.
I flew to El Paso with the packaging machines and Brian arranged to have them shipped to Greñas’ warehouse in Chihuahua. He sequestered two of the machines that would be used for demonstration purposes, and these were shipped to one of Greñas’ homes in Juarez. Greñas would arrange to have his packing and security crew there and I would show them how to operate the new machines.
Before we drove to the demonstration location, we received an urgent message to meet with Greñas’ head of security, Paco, in his apartment in downtown Juarez. Paco met us on the street as we drove up. As we got out, he gestured to two of his lieutenants who got into Brian’s car to park it securely.
I was always apprehensive in Juarez. It seemed like we were always one step away from the authorities’ attention or danger from rival aspiring cartel groups. Paco was serious about security. A tall man at six foot five, he was muscular and from the look of his prison tattoos, he had done time in Mexico.
We couldn’t understand what could be so urgent that we were diverted from demonstrating the packaging machines. We accompanied Paco inside his apartment and he carefully locked the door that was equipped with three dead bolts and two large chains. When we were settled on the couch, Paco explained that Greñas wanted to ensure our security while we worked in Mexico. He said that through Greñas’ contacts in the Federal Judiciary, he had prepared documents and identification that indicated we were Mexican Narcotics Judicial Police, certainly the most powerful police agency in Mexico. The Narcotics Judicial Police were renowned both for their authority and their corruption. When Paco handed us the leather encased, gold badges and paperwork, I was surprised to see my picture was already part of the identification. I couldn’t remember when Greñas or his men might have taken it, but there it was.
“Just pull this out in any situation, and you will be the police commander in charge. You will have authority over everyone present,” Paco told us.
“Does it matter if my Spanish has an accent?” I asked him. “What about my light complexion, blonde hair and blue eyes?” I asked. “Nothing matters when you present this badge. It wouldn’t matter if you spoke Spanish at all,” he replied. “Keep it safe and don’t let the police en el otra lado ever see it.”
There was a knock at the door. Paco jumped to attention. He pulled out an AK-47 that had been unnoticed behind the window curtain next to the door. He went into a military crouch, flipping the safety off, aiming the gun and slowly opening the panoply of locks. Who was this guy expecting, I wondered? He opened the door and drew down on the individual who knocked. Fortunately, it was one of his security staff and we all relaxed.
I had to admire Greñas commitment to improving the quality of his product I thought as I slowly drove with Brian to an average looking neighborhood and residential home in Juarez. The house, with a manicured lawn and well-kept shrubbery, could have been in any residential neighborhood in the US I thought as I pulled up. Greñas’ security and crew met us outside in the driveway and opened the garage to reveal the packing machines. I had told Greñas to be prepared with sample bales of alfalfa to practice sealing them. We pulled the machines into the driveway, hooked them to power and compressed air and got started.
At first we had difficulty fitting the alfalfa bales into the barrier bags, but, soon, with practice, we were turning out several bales of properly sealed alfalfa. I looked around and examined the neighborhood reaction. We were somewhat noisy. I couldn’t imagine what they thought as the bales of bagged alfalfa piled up, but everything remained quiet. I just hoped the local authorities didn’t cruise by.
I slowly backed up away from the machines and let Greñas’ crew take over. As I backed up into the side yard, obscured by shrubbery, I felt a chain link fence against my back. Suddenly, maybe a foot behind me, I heard the loud and unexpected but unmistakable roar of a large feline carnivore. As I felt its breath on my neck, I turned around. All that was separating me from one of the largest Bengal tigers I had ever imagined seeing was a flimsy chain link fence. I had stumbled onto Greñas’ private zoo. Also in the enclosure with the pacing tiger was a small white Chihuahua that looked like he didn’t belong there either, and a giant multi-colored African python. Next to these animals was another enclosure that housed a baby giraffe, a baby elephant and some goats.
I jumped away from the fence with my heart pounding. When Greñas team stopped laughing, they explained that the tiger, the Chihuahua, and the African python were all “friends”. They not only tolerated one another’s presence, they seemed to enjoy the diverse company. No wonder the neighborhood was quiet. The neighbors risked becoming part of the tiger’s daily meal.
Greñas requested that we acquire a receiving warehouse in El Paso from which we could also stage commercial transport to New York and California. He offered to send Cannabis from Quintero’s fields in Michoacan so we could set up our logistics and distribution prior to the large shipments of our higher quality product that would come later. This warehouse would need to be purchased carefully and operated so we would not raise suspicion. It would have to have a privately enclosed loading dock, a secure receiving area for semi-trucks. The warehouse manager himself could not provoke misgivings from neighbors or law enforcement. We would also have to have the capability for weighing and packaging large quantities. The location had to be cleaned spotlessly after each transaction.
The warehouse manager was the critical part of our project. Who would be perfect to manage this warehouse operation? I thought immediately of George.
George was about five foot six, bald, with a white beard that made him resemble a Leprechaun version of Santa Claus. Once he found a pair of shoes or an outfit he liked at a bargain price, he would buy twenty identical pairs just in case. His classic attire was a long sleeved thrift store plaid shirt, brown khakis cuffed too high, string tie and Beatle boots. The thick coke bottle glasses with heavy black frames were also likely a bargain purchase.
At the end of World War Two, George was stationed as an infantry cook with the First Army. He fought his way across the Seigfried Line and through the Battle of the Bulge. When he finally arrived in Berlin, he was allowed enough leave time to meet and fall in love with a German fraulein. George joined many of his fellow infantrymen and made his girlfriend a German war bride. At that point, the massive First Army supplies and ancillary infrastructure moved by train. George resolved to use his position to smuggle his new wife to the United States, across several borders, including that between West and East Berlin, hidden in his large cooking pots. He narrowly avoided exposure on several occasions moving her from train car to train car. He recalled one incident in which the general staff came in to inspect his food. Fortunately George charmed them and was able to move her from pot to pot while they were temporarily distracted.
George packed his new wife into those same pots, loaded them onto an ocean liner when he left Germany and shipped her to Brooklyn. George got to New York first, and rescued her from drowning in a row boat while she was floating at the mouth of the East River when she jumped overboard. With George smuggling was a practiced art since World War Two.
George was a cocaine smuggler. The first time I met him at Thai Stick Jerry’s remote ranch in Annapolis in Sonoma County, he ran out of one of the barns naked except for his lab coat gowning when I was just driving up. He had been unpacking his latest shipment and I guess he thought was a warm day. George was always smugly unconcerned about his own eccentricity and other people’s impression of him.
George’s smuggling prowess could be considered simultaneously a carefully prepared study in detail, a courageous and ballsy undertaking and one of the most poorly conceived, seat of his pants operations imaginable. He loathed the idea of using the same method twice. The only common thread was his absolute certainty of success no matter the odds. One time he dressed as a priest and packed his cocaine into a stack of hollowed out bibles that he tied together with string. Father George flew directly from Bogota, Colombia to Los Angeles, unconcerned with the attention direct flights from Bogota were starting to acquire. When a couple of Customs agents were examining his luggage, he noticed that his tied parcel of bibles on the counter was leaking cocaine powder. He blithely brushed the powder off, made some casual adjustments, said some “Hail Marys” and successfully made it through. That was George.
When I had pure culture specimens of psilocybin mushrooms from fieldwork in Chiapas with the Mazatec that I wanted to smuggle into the United States, George was happy to assist. George suggested placing the tubes inside of his coffee thermos when he removed the inner sleeve. That way one could pour coffee from it, while the tubes remained hidden. He regularly crossed the border at Nogales and sailed right through with my culture tubes.
There was only one problem with using George as warehouse manager: He was on the run from his escape from the federal penitentiary at Terminal Island in Washington. He was doing five years for falsifying his passport and other identification when George began to notice flaws in the prison security. He constructed a plan, very reminiscent of Andy Dufresne in Shawshank Redemption, tunneled through thick concrete walls, made a key from metal stock, opened an unattended side door, climbed over razor wire and slid down a drain pipe to freedom. He even arranged his prison bedding to resemble a sleeping body. He remains the one individual who has ever escaped from Terminal Island.
George arrived in El Paso with John, his longtime partner in many of his criminal enterprises. John ran a New Mexican turquoise store in the Haight. He had a thick New Jersey accent that he never lost in California and had done unspeakable things in Cambodia as a black ops Marine. John had a rather well conceived cocaine smuggling project of his own. At the time, international letters, if they were under the requisite half ounce limit in weight, were not examined by Customs. This loophole afforded John and his crew the opportunity to send virtually hundreds of letters to various post office boxes up and down California. One week they would check all the boxes on a route that meandered through San Francisco and the North Bay and another time it would be dozens of boxes in Carmel and Monterrey. Every letter added another half-ounce of thinly pressed cocaine to their total.
George and John had shared a cell in Chino Men’s Prison and were just down the hall from an organic chemist. The chemist offered George and John a master class in old school methamphetamine production. They left prison, or as they called it, “college”, with a new sought after trade. George and John began to scale up their meth production until they reached the Walter White level. I made the mistake of connecting them to my laboratory glass manufacturers who supplied all the UC Berkeley student and research labs, an older German gentleman and his partner. Through these glass suppliers, George and John had massive glass reactors, reflux condensers and industrial glass vessels manufactured. However, the next time I went to order glassware from them, they acted nervous when they saw me. They said that they had a new “partner” to whom they wanted to introduce me. From the back of the store, where they did glass blowing, a fit younger man with a military bearing walked out. He started by asking more questions than my German suppliers had ever asked. I sensed trouble and immediately altered my order to reflect a much smaller project. I invented an excuse to leave, ran from their office and never went back. The “partner” was clearly from the DEA or a police agency. With their industrial scale, George and John had turned my glass guys into a DEA sting.
George and John made meth the old fashioned way, from scratch, the P2P method depicted in “Breaking Bad”. Phenyl Acetic Acid was refluxed to create Phenyl-2-Propanone, and P2P was refluxed in an endothermic reaction with aluminum, methylamine, and mercuric chloride. This method was known to yield the higher quality dl-methamphetamine, the large brilliant blue crystals if crystallization was conducted slowly with dilute hydrochloric acid. Unfortunately, that was where George and John’s education had fallen short. They used a contrived rapid crystallization method: a glass showerhead through which they bubbled hydrogen chloride gas, essentially hydrochloric acid in a gas form. Although this dangerous method did produce crystals, they were a dull, lackluster powder. The aesthetic aspect of organic chemistry was an art that was lost on George and John.
When I met George, he had just returned from Colombia with his latest shipment of cocaine. At the time I had a well-equipped underground laboratory with UC Berkeley connections for reagents and pharmaceutical chemicals. I was acquainted with several smuggling organizations and it wasn’t long before I had a thriving part time business making pharmaceutical cocaine from the poorly made product smuggled from Latin America. George had smuggled 120 kilos of some of the most poorly manufactured product I had seen. Frequently, the strategy in coca producing countries to extract cocaine active principle from coca leaves uses easily available gasoline as a solvent. Workers wearing rubber boots would then wade into plastic lined troughs with weed whackers to shred and mix the solution. In George’s case, his product bore the legacy of this crude process and retained a bright pink color with a gasoline odor. By extracting the base alkaloid and recrystallizing it with pharmaceutical grade reagents, I was able to turn George’s unmarketable product into one that was USP pharmaceutical grade, the quality available to Freud.
It didn’t take long after George arrived in El Paso for him to locate a perfectly secure warehouse. It was probably bigger than we needed but it had all the necessary privacy. I was told the owner had some vague suspicions that were disarmed upon meeting with George, who told him that he ran an import business for Mexican antiques and artifacts. I put George in touch with some of the Mayan groups with whom I was familiar and we were able to stock the warehouse with furniture, reliquaries, paintings, and native cultural items. George made it clear to the owner that we would be putting in a number of security measures that would prevent the break ins that were not uncommon. The owner never realized we had cartel protection and there was no way anyone would attempt a robbery.
We were ready to receive our first cross border consignment. There was no telling when conditions would be perfect for Greñas’ crossers, who monitored radio traffic, law enforcement movements on the border and intelligence gleaned from the cartel’s numerous spies and connected cops. There were literally hundreds of possible routes used by smugglers but they were all monitored by the DEA’s imposing presence on the border, EPIC, the El Paso Interdiction Center. This complex of buildings represented the US government’s best effort at stopping the flood of drugs entering the country from the southern border. It bristled with antennas, microwave dishes and communication towers. A fleet of Black Hawk helicopters were always in the parking lot. The DEA and the Justice Department had hundreds of agents working on cases. It would seem that there were no possible strategies for crossing this highly technologically scrutinized border.
There was only one tiny flaw in the DEA’s approach and it was a time honored one. Across the street from the EPIC complex was Prince Machiavelli’s, El Paso’s largest, most elegant topless bar. It’s architectural theme promised medieval excess with a touch of edgy bondage. From the outside, it resembled a sprawling castle with turrets and parapets. Inside were innumerable dimly lit rooms, dark passages and four different stages in different wings of the castle. Every night the DEA agents from EPIC would hold court in one of those wings. Every night they would carouse without knowing that the entire female staff was in Greñas’ employ. The women excelled at getting their clients drunk, plying them for all of their operational information and recording all of it for Greñas. The strategy was enormously successful. The DEA performed like trained seals for the strippers and Greñas was apprised of all of it.
Our warehouse was ready. George was ready. We waited for our first shipment of Quintero’s high grade Cannabis.
To Be Continued...
AFTER IMPEACHMENT AND ACQUITTAL, EXPECT A VICIOUS REPUBLICAN COUNTERATTACK
by Heather Digby Parton
In the past, despite their differences, our political leaders were in agreement that to at least preserve the ideals behind our democratic system it was important to pay lip service to the spirit of the law. For instance, during the Iraq war, the Bush administration committed war crimes. But officials didn’t come right out and say, “Yes, we torture people. What are you going to do about it?” There were consequences to openly defying the law, which they knew could get quite serious down the road. They understood that to openly endorse war crimes was to let an ugly, dangerous genie out of the bottle. So they claimed it wasn’t actually torture and pretended that they believed torture was wrong, insisting they would never do such a thing.
The old-fashioned trope that describes this is, “Hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue.” It’s certainly not an ideal way for leaders to behave. They should follow the law and the Constitution, and if they don’t they should be held accountable. But declaring war on virtue altogether and embracing vice as your organizing principle is what mobsters and tyrants do. That’s what’s happening under President Trump.
During the 2016 campaign, he proudly declared that he meant to torture, kill civilians and “take the spoils” of war if he wanted to. Today, he’s pardoning war criminals and bringing them up on stage at political events. While he does lie profusely and conspires with his henchmen, much of his alleged criminal behavior in the White House has been done right out in the open. He admitted he fired former FBI Director James Comey because Comey was investigating him. He dangled pardons and intimidated witnesses in public statements. Most recently he released a transcript of a phone call in which he tried to coerce a foreign leader to smear his political rival, calling it “perfect.”
Now Republican leaders are following his lead. They don’t bother to pretend that they are following rules anymore, or make arguments based on a common understanding of what the Constitution requires. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has announced he has no plans to even feign seriousness with the Senate impeachment trial of Trump. He has said right out in the open that he planned to follow the president’s lead and do whatever Trump wants him to do.
But it’s Trump’s most ardent sycophant, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who is really letting it all hang out:
Graham was in Qatar this past weekend for that nation’s annual international forum, looking for every camera he could find to flagrantly defy the oath he will take before he sits as a juror in the Senate trial. He told CNN, “This thing will come to the Senate, and it will die quickly, and I will do everything I can to make it die quickly.” When asked if he thought that was an appropriate thing to say under the circumstances, he replied, “Well, I must think so because I’m doing it. I am trying to give a pretty clear signal I have made up my mind. I’m not trying to pretend to be a fair juror here. What I see coming, happening today, is just partisan nonsense.”
That’s not how it’s supposed to work. Graham, of all people, knows this. He is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and was a House manager during Bill Clinton’s impeachment. There are dozens of YouTube clips floating around that show Graham arguing for open-minded fairness in that trial. Let’s just say that if Graham’s a hypocrite, which he is, it’s not in service of any virtue. It’s in service to Donald Trump, the Republican Party and himself.
Graham does seem to have a strategy with all this loose talk. The argument between the White House and the senators who want to put this behind them as quickly as possible continues to rage over whether or not to hold a full trial with witnesses called by both sides or a pro forma process that takes the reports offered by the House Judiciary Committee and simply votes up or down on whether to convict. The president signaled on Friday that he was open to either approach but reports keep surfacing that he wants to put on a big show and leading Senate Republicans are having a hard time talking him out of it.
I suspect that Graham and McConnell have cooked up a deal with Trump for the perfunctory proceeding and a quick acquittal, with the promise that they will pursue the Ukraine charges against Joe Biden and the Democratic Party in the Senate after the trial is over. Graham has been promising investigations ever since he took the gavel in January, but hasn’t managed to get any of it done yet.
Trump may hold him to his latest promise. He might agree to a short trial, but he wants his pound of flesh. So does his lawyer Rudy Giuliani, the former hero of 9/11 who is now staring down the barrel of a federal indictment.
Giuliani just returned from Ukraine where he’s been “gathering evidence” on a couple of brand new scandals allegedly involving Adam Schiff, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. He’s been tweeting about some of it and it all sounds absolutely bonkers.
Giuliani has met with the president to tell him all about this stuff and you can be sure that, acquittal or not, Trump will not let it go.
Graham told Margaret Brennan on “Face the Nation” on Sunday, “Rudy, if you want to come and tell us what you found, I’ll be glad to talk to you. We can look at what Rudy’s got on Joe Biden, Hunter Biden and anything else you want to look at after impeachment. But if Rudy wants to come to the Judiciary Committee and testify about what he found, he’s welcome to do so.”
After that we’ll have Bill Barr’s extravaganza starring his hand-picked special counsel, John Durham next summer, just in time for the conventions. And who knows what Trump’s foreign friends have on tap?
It’s clear that impeachment is just a bump in the road for Trump and the Republicans. Once it’s over, they plan to continue with the lies and smears and betrayals without even taking a breath. The main lesson they have learned from his leadership is that it’s a waste of time to even pretend to care about the rule of law or the Constitution unless it serves their partisan political needs. That ugly genie is out of the bottle now, and I don’t know what it will take to put it back in.
MCOE SUPPORTS HOMELESS YOUTH DURING THE HOLIDAYS
Employees and friends of the Mendocino County Office of Education (MCOE) supported more than 250 homeless youth in Mendocino County during their holiday gift drive this year. MCOE Superintendent Michelle Hutchins said, “We are especially grateful to the heroic efforts of Tracy and Brent Schultz who organized and sponsored 40 kids this year.”
Year-round, MCOE coordinates educational resources for the hundreds of foster youth and homeless youth in the county, and each winter, MCOE employees host a gift drive so these children can have a little something special during the holidays, according to MCOE Foster/Homeless Youth Services Manager Blythe Post. This year, MCOE received corporate support from Realty World Selzer Realty and Redwood Title Company.
Post said, “People become homeless for many different reasons—the loss of a job, a catastrophic illness, mental health problems—and the children suffer as a result.”
Homeless youth struggle for many reasons. They have inadequate housing that does not meet their physical and psychological needs. They lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, which can mean living on the street, living out of a car, living with several families in one small apartment or residence, living in structures without electricity or running water (camping), or living in emergency or transitional shelters. Some homeless youth live with their parents; others are “couch surfers,” Post explained.
This lack of consistent housing can require some homeless students to move several times during the course of a single school year, making it hard for them to create lasting relationships. According to Post, these children often feel invisible at school and struggle academically because of social and emotional stressors, as well as inconsistent school attendance.
At MCOE, the Foster/Homeless Youth Services connects schools, social services, community agencies, and resources from the faith community so these children do not fall through the cracks. Post helps educate school counselors, teachers, family liaisons, social workers, and others about how best to meet the needs of these underserved youth, from practical advice on reducing bureaucratic barriers to school enrollment to training people about the effects of trauma on the developing brain.
The holidays can be a particularly tough time for at-risk youth. Post explained that homeless students often become more aware of what they are lacking and when friends at school share holiday plans that involve gifts and family gatherings for holiday meals. This was the inspiration for the MCOE gift giving.
Superintendent Hutchins said, “If we can make the holidays a little brighter for these children, we’ve done a good thing.”
MENTAL HEALTH AUDITS
To the Editor:
Regarding Audits Of Redwood Quality Management Company (RQMC)
RQMC apologist, J. Holden, writes: “Mr. Sakowicz, you 'demand' an already existing audit, having no idea that they [RQMC] already submits monthly financial, quality assurance, and compliance documents, in addition to four full audits a year on the services they provide. I suggest that you review those audits before further advocating to waste our taxpayer money on your quixotic reinvention of the wheel.”
Mental health advocate James Marmon responds: "Mr. Holden, those so called audits you talk about are Medi-Cal billing audits. At Mendocino County Behavioral Health Services (BHS) and at RQMC, there has never been a complete and independent financial audit, as suggested by Kemper, regarding the overall spending by BHS and RQMC. And what they spend is significant. Over $30 million and counting. Keep in mind, RQMC is a for-profit organization, and that says it all."
James Marmon continues: "Meanwhile, BHS is being run by the incompetent Dr. Jenine Miller, who puts her boss, County CEO Carmel Angelo, and Angelo's best interests, over those interests of the county's mental health clients and the tax paying public. The single Administrative Services Organization (ASO) model is a complete failure, but no one wants to admit it. Angelo runs around the state bragging about her privatized mental health system. She says it’s her claim to fame But it's a disgrace. And now, within chronically mentally ill and seriously alcoholic homeless people dying in our streets, it's a public scandal."
James Marmon adds; "Furthermore, Substance Use Disorders Treatment (SUDT) services are basically non-existent in Mendocino County, according to both Kemper and Marbut, independent consultants hired by the county. A lot of money is being spent on services that would otherwise be Medi-Cal billable, if programs, like Day Treatment and SUDT, were certified. Kemper pointed that out in his needs assessment.
Marmon continues, "Kemper was seriously concerned about the SUDT void, and suggested that Measure B money be used to help poor souls like Charles Hensley, who died neglected on the streets of Ukiah, and who, in my opinion, should have been placed in a Conservatorship and housed in a secure treatment facility. Mr. Hensley was what we in the mental health and rehab field call “Gravely Disabled” due to his chronic alcoholism, and he should not been left on the streets to die."
James Marmon makes a final point: "Kemper recommended an 'Independent Financial Audit'. Screw those RQMC in-house audits. They cover up the problem. Meanwhile, homeless people are dying in our streets."
John Sakowicz, Candidate, 1st District Supervisor
P.S. National Homeless Persons' Memorial Day will be observed on December 21. Please join in solidarity with local friends and neighbors to honor and remember those who have experienced homelessness in our community and who lost their lives in 2019. Many churches and service organizations across the country will have memorial services. Candlelight vigils are also being planned in many cities.
J.HOLDEN REPLIES: Stay tuned for a list of the various county, state, and federal audits that RQMC already undergoes. Once again, please review the existing audits and reports before casting out accusations of fraud and malfeasance. Before reinventing the wheel with yet another costly audit, after you review existing audits take any remaining issues to the Behavioral Health Advisory Board public meetings, where you can obtain open responses to your allegations from all the parties you are making your sensational accusations against and from the Supervisor who sits on that Board. The Board's response to your “demand" of an additional audit would be helpful for you if you intend to make your “demand" to the full Board of Supervisors.
NEW REPORT DETAILS How Trump Tax Scam 'Delivered Big Benefits to the Rich and Corporations But Nearly None for Working Families'
As predicted, the Republican plan signed into law in December of 2017 "only caters to the super-wealthy, historically white, corporate class."