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Off the Record (December 25, 2019)

AFTER BEING TOLD that they couldn’t legally call a special election to replace retiring long-serving Sheriff Tom Allman, the Supervisors unanimously thanked Allman for his service and appointed Undersheriff Matt Kendall in Allman’s place: 

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.”

Matt Kendall

ON MONDAY the Supes predictably punted on the Measure V 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 which passed back in 2016 and is just now being considered for possible enforcement.

BUT NOT BEFORE coast enviro Beth Bosk broke her own record for most ejections from County meetings, obtaining her 111th heave-ho when Board Chair Carre Brown angrily told Bosk she was outta here following Bosk’s second shouting interruption of the Board’s discussion.

IN THE END, the Supervisors 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 Enforcement 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 from Measure V’s injunction against acres of poisoned, inflammable trees left in the upright position, implying that MRC would go to court should Mendo try to enforce the Measure. Anderson added that MRC is already doing “the best we can” —whatever that means — to avoid poisoning as a junk tree removal strategy 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 Enforcement 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 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. (Mark Scaramella)

AT THE RECENT Emerald Cup, Mendo, traditional home of excellante zonk weed, produced only one winner in one category, Solventless, whatever that is, where Brett Byrd of Mendo got himself a golden bong for "Personal Use: Ice Cream Cake." Used to be Mendo took home most of the golden bongs….

RECOMMENDED READING, " Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy" by Max Hastings, a Brit historian who, as a young journalist, worked off and on as a correspondent in Vietnam where his first-hand experience, some of it in combat, surely helped him grasp the true nature of the conflict as he recounts in this fascinating book events as seen from both sides. I also recommend Hastings' histories of the Korean War and "Armageddon: The Battle for Germany." But in this Vietnam book Hastings has outdone himself with, as he says, much help from latter day archives released by all parties to the “tragedy,” as he rightly summarizes the entire event. "Tragedy" is not a propaganda. The utter ruthlessness of the NVA and Viet Cong, romantically viewed as atrocity-free idealists by young commies like me and the circles I traveled in, are viewed much more as they really were by Hastings as he, of course, concedes that as nationalists fighting in and for their own country they had the advantage over the American forces piled in-country in ever increasing numbers to prop up a succession of unpopular and corrupt South Vietnamese puppet governments. Americans were, like the French before them, inevitably and properly viewed as invaders. This book was a major learning experience for this reader who thought he knew a lot about the subject. For instance, I didn't know that the French and the British employed Japanese POW's to help fend off Ho Chi Minh's popular forces in 1945-46 in an attempt to reinstate Vietnam as a French colony. There's so much interesting stuff in this book you'll send me five bucks (cash only) in gratitude for my recommendation. 

THURSDAY NIGHT'S DEMO DEBATE was "won" by Bernie, Liz and Yang, with Bernie getting off the best line of the night: “Joe, you’ve got 43 billionaires donating to your campaign. Pete, you have 39. Pete, you’re an energetic, competitive guy — maybe you can catch up.”

THE COUNTY JAIL add-on under construction will mostly house mental patients. Prisons and police are doing much of the mental health back-stopping these days in lieu of a federal hospital system and an ever rising tide of the mentally ill, many of them getting that way from drugs. When the incarcerated mentally ill are separated from the mainline tough guys, as they are most places, they may not get sane but at least they're not preyed upon like they are on the streets, and even if there was a national effort to house and treat the mentally ill they would be housed in lock-up facilities, as the severe cases used to be at Mendo's very own state hospital at Talmage, now a Buddhist learning center.

DURING one of my incarcerations at the Mendo County Jail, I was housed next door to what I recall as "A Unit," the section of the Jail housing the crazy guys. The violently assaultive crazy guys were housed in isolation cells awaiting transfer to the hard-to-get-into state hospital at Napa. But A Unit was probably the happiest room in Mendocino County! All day the inmates laughed, whistled, sang, played dominoes — all of it a cacophony of pure joy! Outside, this crew is lost, unable to competently (or legally) function. Inside, they have structure and companionship. 

A STORY on NPR this week lamented that fostered youth are bounced from home-to-home and then, at the magic age of 18, thrown out of the system to fend for themselves, many of them soon landing in jails and prisons, double victims of absent families and ineffective education. Along the way, an apparatus more numerous than them lives well off their dependence. This situation, and the seemingly annual discussion it inspires, is now at least sixty years old, beginning in the middle 1960's as the old orphanage system collapsed under the weight of more and more dependent, now monetized, children, many of them damaged and too difficult for ordinary foster families to take on. For years, people who studied the foster system recommended the obvious, or what should have been obvious — that in many cases if the money spent on foster homes were paid to the fragged family to care for their own child, the kid, however inadequate his parent or parents (short of overt psychosis), would be better off. America, in theory, doesn't have social classes, but foster children come from one class — the very poor. If wealthy children were snatched into government's clutches… Well…

TRUMP'S denunciation of corporate liberals like Nancy Pelosi as "radical leftists" who, in his next breath he denounced as "radical leftists and progressives" echoes Pelosi, Biden, Mayor Pete, and Klobuchar who, at last night's debate, outdid themselves as they tried to out-moderate each other. "I'm more moderate than you, Pete!" These middle-of-the-road extremists, and their wealthy sponsors, are terrified that Liz-Bernie are polling wayyyyyy ahead of them and their funders. It's going to be interesting to watch how the DNC eludes Liz-Bernie in 2020, thus smoothing the way for four more years of Trump.

I WONDER how effective the deliberate conflation of communism, socialism, far left, anarchist, liberal, leftist, onanist, is with that stalwart American minority who vote? Do these words scare the many victims of our educational system who can’t make distinctions? We’ll see. Americans have been voting against themselves for years now. Liz-Bernie's medicare for all is the contemporary equivalent of what social security was for FDR's New Deal, and denounced then as “socialism” etc. The great malefactors of wealth claimed that social security was downright Bolshevism, and did it in the same language they're using now to denounce medicare for all. Don't be fooled my fellow Mendolanders. Medicare for all, like social security, will be good for you and good for America.

PHIL BALDWIN was taking no chances when he wrote his own obituary. That way, Phil outflanked the critics he attracted when he was alive, telling his life story as he wanted it told. Good for him. If your send-off is left in the dubious hands of the mortician's secretary, or still grieving relatives, well, like most of you I daresay, you've noticed the superficial, error-packed obits common in local newspapers. 

ACCORDING TO Jonah Raskin’s piece on the recent Emerald Cup in Ukiah, Supervisor John McCowen is even more delusional about his pot program than even we thought: “McCowen noted that while car dealerships had benefited from the Green Rush, not everyone had grown rich. Property values had declined with regulation, he said. But McCowen predicted that Mendocino would become well known for high quality cannabis and for pot tourism, too, and that the cannabis market would become an integral part of the economy of the whole county, and not remain an underground stream.”

GIVEN the many obstacles and costs to go legal, and the continuing strength of the black market, does anyone agree with that prediction? In his most honest moments, even McCowen agrees that the pot legalization program is a failure by any measure, although McCowen prefers to blame the pot growers and the state for the problems, not Mendo’s own rules and fees.

JONAH RASKIN AND GREG SARRIS on “A Sense of Place” at Rohnert Park-Cotati Library January 29, 2020

Jonah Raskin, longtime contributor to the AVA, will be in conversation with SSU professor Greg Sarris, the Tribal Leader of the Graton Rancheria. The topic of conversation is “A Sense of Place.” Sarris and Raskin have both written extensively about Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley and Sonoma Mountain. Sarris’s award-winning book is titled How a Mountain was Made. His collection of short stories, Grand Avenue, was made into a movie for TV directed by Daniel Sackheim. As the tribal leader of the Graton Rancheria Sarris played a major role in bringing The Graton Resort and Casino to Rohnert Park and making it a major destination for tourists in the North Bay. Raskin is the editor of The Radical Jack London: Writings on War and Revolution, and the author of Field Days: A Year of Farming, Eating and Drinking Wine in California. Autographed copies of Sarris’s Grand Avenue and How a Mountain Was Made will be given out gratis as long as supplies last. The event is free and open to the public. There will be time for questions and an opportunity to meet and talk one-on-one with Sarris and Raskin. The event takes place January 29, 2020 and starts at 6 p.m. 

WHO WAS BILLY EATON? Ace researcher Deborah Silva discovered:

Billy was the homeless man found dead under a bridge in Ukiah recently. The article in MCT says he did not have any relatives. You know I can't leave things like this alone! Billy has a daughter who apparently lives in Arizona. She probably hasn't seen nor heard from him in many years, who knows? In 1976 Billy married a woman named Sonia Perez, in 1977 Victoria Ann Eaton was born and in 1982 Sonia and Billy divorced. Billy had an arrest for attempted rape dating back to 1979. I do not know the outcome of that arrest. I've attached a bunch of stuff, maybe you could pass it on to the appropriate people. Both Sonia and Victoria have the previous last name of Eaton on their background reports. 

THE OAKLEY ATTACK is described kind of by this press release from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office: “On December 20, 2019 at approximately 6:30 p.m., Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputies received a call for service regarding a physical altercation in progress at a residence in the 5000 block of Albion Little River Road in Little River. 

After Deputies arrived on scene the involved parties were separated and an investigation was initiated. During that investigation, Deputies learned the altercation resulted from a civil dispute over property. 

A 32 year-old adult male arrived at the location in order to return property to the resident, Anthony Oakley.

Deputies reviewed video footage of the incident and observed a verbal confrontation quickly ensued between Anthony and the adult male after he arrived at the location. 

The confrontation escalated when Anthony’s father, John Oakley, and the adult male became entangled in a physical struggle that led to the adult male being taken to the ground. 

While John pinned the adult male to the ground, the adult male was struck repeatedly in the head by Anthony with several strikes being delivered by both hand and foot.

The adult male was transported from the scene to the Mendocino Coast District Hospital by ambulance due to injuries sustained from the assault. 

In addition to several minor injuries to the adult male's face, Deputies determined he sustained a severe laceration to the right side of his head that would require suturing.

Deputies arrested Anthony and John Oakley as principals to the listed charges as the battery resulted in serious bodily injury and the adult male was kicked in the head several times.

Both Anthony and John Oakley were booked into the Mendocino County Jail where they each were to be held in lieu of $30,000 bail.

A READER sends the following pictures and this comment about the Oakley arrests: "These pictures were taken last night. Father and son jumped this man. Father was on top, holding the victim's head up with his hair, while the son, hit and kicked him in the face. These two men are dangerous!"

JASMINE WILSON ADDS: “Last night Chris and I were over at Anthony’s picking up my belongings he’s held from me for a year after a court order was established and John jumped out of the bushes across the street and attacked Chris and held Chris on the ground while Anthony repeatedly kicked and punched him in the face. Chris did not swing once and was not the aggressor. John and Anthony both had knives on them, and Chris had nothing. I tried to tell Anthony to stop and he turned around and threatened to hurt me if I didn’t back off. All the while, Ashlynn was inside the house watching from the window. If you see these two around town and they give you some made up story trying to make them sound like they were doing what was deserved, it is not true. This is fucked up and people should know the truth about these two. They are facing two felonies one being assault with a deadly weapon. They got out on bail, so please watch out for these men. They are not safe to be around.”

ANOTHER READER sent along this note: “Mr. Oakley is an x-EMT for the Albion-Little River Fire Department. Also on that department list was recently convicted murderer Andrew Crowningshield. And the Chief of that Department was Ted Williams."

John, Anthony Oakley

COUPLA COMMENTS would seem to be in order: Supervisor Williams, in his capacity as volunteer firefighter can't be responsible for the off-duty behavior of his fellow volunteers. Oakley senior must have been a valuable volunteer given that he was or is second in command of the Albion department. Young Crowningshield shot and killed his ex-wife in a domestic tragedy having nothing to do with his work elsewhere. All of this said, I was surprised to see the Oakleys bail set at a mere $30,000. You hit someone in the head with a blunt object hard enough to injure him as bad as this guy was injured, you're either trying to kill him or you don't care if you do. I'm looking forward to the rest of the story.

THE UDJ REPORTS "lines out the door" at the just opened Panda Express among Ukiah's big box stores strewn out along 101. Panda Express in a town with four or five good-to-very good existing Chinese restaurants? 

MENDOCINO COUNTY is organized with the Supervisors delegating much authority to a CEO, meaning an un-elected person makes a lot of decisions about the public's business. We used to have a CAO system, the diff being the Supes tell the CAO what to do and he or she does it. Either way things fall apart when you have a board of supervisors whose five elected members consist of, as recently happened here, two crazy persons and an incompetent. The presiding CEO, Ms. Angelo, stepped into the breech, and opinions differ wildly as to the quality of her work. A fully competent board of supervisors would ideally arrive with consensus opinions on what needs to be done and tell a CAO to make sure it happens. Seems from here a CAO is preferable assuming a competent set of Supes, which we may get for the first time in years in the March election.

CHRISTMAS never fails to bring out the atheists, the legions of people who seem to look forward to eternal nothingness, which may or may not be man's fate. True, no one's ever reported back from the other side so none of us knows for sure what comes next — oblivion or, in my case, an eternal day at the ballpark. But for the millions of people who believe, religion is the only comfort, the only explanation they have for what is happening to them, that their temporal misery has an upside in the world to come. Marx explained it better: "Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo."

I SEE Ukiah has won a national pee wee football championship. That news reminds me (and lots of us) of the late, great Brad Shear, a once ubiquitous and memorably vivid Mendo County sports figure who, as I recall, was a better-than-average baseball player in his youth, which would have been in the forties and fifties when baseball was the reigning national sport. When I first knew him he ran the little guys football team in Ukiah, a state powerhouse under Shear. And I knew him through men's league basketball when he always seemed to come up with 6'8" forwards no one around here had ever seen before. These mystery men did reverse slams on the local boys and were never seen again. But the very next season, Shear would have two more dominant big guys. To say the least, the guy was highly competitive. And a gifted story teller. I tried to get interviews with him before he passed, but Shear seemed, in his way, and away from sports, a shy man who didn't think he was worthy of formal attention. Too bad. In sports circles, everyone knew him and, in his way, he was an important figure in the County's human tapestry of his time.

I WAS HEARTENED to see Dr. J. Holden bring up conservatorships as a means to protect the walking wounded from themselves. The late Charles Hensley, though, resisted sustained efforts by the court and other people familiar with him to cooperate with the process and finally drowned himself in the bottle. Absent compulsion, there will always be lots of troubled and troublesome people out there in the fields of play.


[1] This discussion reminds me of a story I heard when I was very young.

A tramp is trudging through an icy suburb one Christmas Eve. He’s attracted to a brightly lit window and wanders over to see what’s what.

He finds a happy family decorating their tree, laughing & eating, singing…the general picture of happiness.

He thinks to himself “All I ever wanted was a dry warm place to sleep and a decent meal occasionally. Perhaps I set my sights too high?”

[2] I believe we are witnessing the unraveling of the US Government. The collapse of it is on the horizon. Party politics have degraded to outright gang warfare. One party controls the House. The other controls the Senate. Each plays an important role in the Impeachment and potential Conviction process. The gang that controls the Senate accuses the gang that controls the House of rigging the hearings. Then the gang that controls the House will accuse the Senate controlling gang of rigging the trial. This will keep going throughout 2020 and it will infect the elections. I think that we’ll be seeing lawfare tactics employed to fight in the courts whatever the outcome will be. We’re headed to a constitutional crisis of epic proportions. I don’t pretend to know what happens then, but I just know it will not be pleasant.


  1. Debra Keipp December 25, 2019

    Any idea who the new troll is, living under the bridge on the street bordering the Boonville Hotel? He’s even rigged up a fireplace w chimney under the bridge. Leaves his bike chained to the bridge platform above when present.

    • Debra Keipp December 25, 2019

      Yah, Lambert Lane…

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