- Dry Day
- Boonville Donut
- Project Misinformation
- Hokey Pokey
- Ed Notes
- Sheriff Kendall
- State Street
- Preserve OB
- Coast Healthcare
- County Pickpockets
- Verdict 2020
- Benefit Auction
- Faulder Interview
- Yesterday's Catch
- U.S. Crossroads
- Cat Story
- Peter Politics
- Planning Cancelled
- Sorrows Swimming
- FB Autozone
- Last Chance
- Vote Bern
- War Face
- Mad King
- Common People
- Great Satirists
- Iran Deal
- Homeless Story
- Completely Insane
- Tax Loophole
- Found Object
SHOWERS WILL DISSIPATE across the region this morning, and will be followed by a brief period of dry weather occurring through Friday morning. Thereafter, additional showers will spread across the area Friday afternoon and will persist through the middle of next week. (NWS)
THE BOONVILLE DONUT, a reader's comment:
"Stopped to pee at the Redwood Drive-In and found one of the best bleeping doughnuts I've ever had.
They're homemade, with a thick, crispy outer shell and a remarkably soft, moist interior that crumbles a bit when you bite into them. They're crowned with just the right amount of sweet frosting. Cake doughnuts generally aren't my favorite, but these were so good I almost drove back for more. Hip chains should be shook!
If you find yourself in the area for any reason, stop and get a doughnut here."
ED NOTE: Told ya. Nobody makes a donut like the donut still made right here in the Anderson Valley at the Redwood Drive-In, Boonville. And the Mexican food is excellante! Why just yesterday I was there with a pair of visiting dignitaries, Mr. John Arteaga and Mr. Jeff Blankfort, both of West Hills, Ukiah. These boys have been around, and you can be sure they know a taco from a tulip.
THE DRIVE-IN'S proprietors, Mr. and Mrs. Ricardo Suarez, are also the only business in Boonville to maintain a bathroom open to the public, maintenance of which, given the consequences of incompetent toilet training over the last fifty years, is a full-time job in itself. We need restroom attendants in this country!
MISINFORMATION & MISCHARACTERIZATION in Boonville
Bob Abeles of Boonville:
"…there are some who are opposed to the projects and spread misinformation" — (From yesterday’s CSD water update report)
So, anyone with objections to the project or how it is being carried out is a spreader of misinformation? That sounds like a line straight out of the HBO show Chernobyl.
Gwyn Leeman Smith of Boonville:
There are many legitimate reasons people can be opposed to these projects, LACK of good information chief among them. To lump people who oppose as those who spread misinformation does not work in any of our best interests and is just wrong.
Continuing to provide and disperse correct and thorough information throughout our community will go a long way to combat the misinformation out there now.
Sonny Pettijohn of Boonville:
There is a website that provides correct information for those that are & should be interested. www.avcsd.org/watersewer.php
CSD Board Chair Valerie Hanelt:
I apologize for that phrasing. How about “we often find that opposition to the projects is based on incomplete or misinformation”?
CSD General Manager Joy Andrews:
I see how that comment Valerie wrote could be read that way but I don't think it was intended to generalize all those who oppose the project. Unfortunately we are finding a lot of incorrect information being talked about in the community and we are making it our current focus to educate people even more so they can be able to make an informed decision. Thank you again for attending our most recent meeting and for your questions/concerns. I hope we can get all those answered for you.
I'M ALWAYS ANNOYED by these snooty media blurbs that claim stuff like, "Less than a third of registered American voters are able to correctly point to Iran on an unlabeled world map, a survey has shown." That one-third figure was asserted by Morning Consult (whatever that is) and Politico after the assassination of Qassam Soleimani. In fact, one-third seems pretty darn good, almost good enough to get a guy on Jeopardy.
SAVVY GUY that I am, faced with a blank map of the world, it would take me at least an hour to puzzle it out, maybe longer, and a lot of the names of countries I came up with would probably be either wrong or antiquated, especially the 'stans,' those vague locales on the Eurasian Steppes somewhere around Afghanistan. Way back in my formative grade school years, we memorized the countries of the world, and even had to pass a civics test to get out of the 8th grade. We did a lot of memory work which, looking back, seems to have served this geezer pretty well, but which, I think, was long ago discarded by modern pedagogues as too consternating for little noggins.
THE SMART TRAIN has 148 employees to move an average of 1,125 people a day. That’s one employee for every 7.6 passengers. Those fortunate 148 receive $22,916,000 in salaries and benefits, which works out to $158,000 per employee. The heavily subsidized and obviously failing rail line has an annual budget of roughly $127 million, little of it derived from passengers.
I DON'T KNOW anything more than the next reasonably well-informed captive, er, citizen of our crumbling republic, but Iran's counterattack yesterday was about all they could do given preponderance of might on the Trump end of the crisis. The on-line chatter assumed apocalypse, but the attack itself seemed not only pro-forma but our side obviously got a heads-up so nobody was killed. And Generalissimo Bone Spurs, the toughest guy on the globe, got himself a re-election boost. If the Iranians were really looking for trouble, or the end of their world, they would have closed the Straits of Hormuz, lobbed big missiles into Israel, maybe wiped out the Saudi's oil production capacity. But realism seems to have prevailed among the mullahs, whose government is unpopular with their people to begin with, and they knew they'd be finished if they counter-attacked in any meaningful way.
SHERIFF KENDALL DISCUSSES FIRST DAYS, PLANS & PRIORITIES
For newly appointed Mendocino County Sheriff Matt Kendall, his new role represents the culmination of 30 years working for the Mendocino County sheriff’s department. He was first hired in 1990 around his 21st birthday to work at the county jail and has since worked on the Mendocino Coast and in Covelo as a deputy sheriff, in the investigations department, the narcotics department, as a patrol sergeant and as undersheriff before becoming sheriff.
To the Editor:
Regarding the State Street renovation.
I would like to support the renovation of State Street as presented. I believe the City has explored all the possibilities available given the budget and the requirements of the businesses and general public.
I believe the renovation will draw shoppers to the downtown businesses by making the central portion of State Street more pedestrian friendly. And I support the idea of 3 lanes as a traffic calming solution without snarling existing traffic.
SARA CRYSTAL WRITES:
Don't Close Coast Hospital Ob/Gyn:
I speak from 40+ yr experience as a high risk obstetric nurse, most of that in labor and delivery. if you close this unit, mothers and babies will die. I have been in many urgent deliveries where moments mattered. instead you will have people bleeding during an ambulance ride 1 hr +. if even the child survives, it may have cerebral palsy. dont let money be more important than saving life. it could be your best friend, their daughter, your child. this area cannot survive third world obstetrics. everyone has a right to have a safe delivery for themself or those they love. it is not a business decision. it is a human life decision. and dont count on ambulances and helicopters. they might not be available in the moment needed. the very first delivery I did as a very green o.b. nurse was a complicated breech (butt first wrong way) delivery up in a country hospital. the very week before a similar birth happened in an ambulance transfer and the baby died. dont do it.
MENDOCINO COAST DISTRICT HOSPITAL TO LAUNCH PATIENT & FAMILY ADVISORY COUNCIL (PFAC)
The Mendocino Coast District Hospital invites all interested patients, family members, and caregivers to attend the first PFAC informational meeting on Tuesday, January 14, 2020, at 4:00 PM in the Redwoods Room at the Hospital. If you would like to help enhance the health care experience at MCDH for yourself, your family, and others, becoming a member of PFAC could be the first step.
Patient and Family Advisory Council is a formal group that meets monthly for active collaboration between clinicians, hospital staff, and patients, family, and caregivers to gain a greater understanding of the hospital experience through the eyes of the patient and family members. The ultimate goal is to improve the patient experience, hospital quality, and patient safety. PFAC members provide recommendations and guidance that aim to build a successful partnership and strengthen the collaboration between the Hospital and its patients and families.
We look forward to meeting with you on January 14, 2020, to share this opportunity and to talk about how your involvement can make a difference in our community.
For More Information Contact: Michelle Norvell at 707 961-4663 or firstname.lastname@example.org
BOONVILLE QUIZ TONIGHT! Yes, folks, it’s time to awaken from your holiday slumbers and exercise the old grey matter. 2020’s first General Knowledge and Trivia Quiz will kick-off at 7pm at Lauren’s Restaurant tonight, Thursday, January 9th. You know it makes sense. Hope to see you there, Cheers, Steve Sparks, Quiz Master
Happy new year. Isn't the first rule in the Communist manifesto, there shall be no private property? Well, that's exactly what we have here. If you think you actually own your property, try not paying your rent or taxes, and find out who really owns your property. It doesn't matter if you are a tenant in common, joint tenant, or sole tenant, the keyword is tenant. Towns like Ukiah are like giant chicken coops, only cash is collected, not eggs. And what a lot of cash. If you were a crook or a party member it would be best to be on the receiving end of this monstrous cash flow. Decide how much to stuff in your pockets and use the small part left to keep up appearances. Have you noticed that you can walk around with your wallet hanging out? Even at the county fair it is totally safe. All the pickpockets have moved into government and small local agencies where they can collect $300,000 or more per year risk free. Who pays for these attorney fees and settlements, etc.? I would follow the money and I suggest that what look stupid is actually not stupid but rather well-planned movement of cash from the chicken coop to the pickpockets.
First Criminal Jury Verdict Of 2020.
A Mendocino County Superior Court jury returned from its deliberations Wednesday afternoon in less than an hour with a guilty verdict against the trial defendant.
Defendant Trenton Patrick Allen Lockhart, age 19, of Redwood Valley, was convicted of driving a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol of .08 or greater, a misdemeanor.
The defendant was stopped on August 10th before midnight near the entrance to the fairgrounds for driving after dark without his headlights being illuminated. Later breath tests pegged his blood alcohol at .10.
The law enforcement personnel who investigated this matter were officers of the California Highway Patrol and a forensic scientist from the the Department of Justice laboratory in Eureka.
Not only was this the first criminal jury verdict of 2020, it was also the first jury trial for Deputy District Attorney Kassandra Long. Congratulations, Kassie!
Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Victoria Shanahan presided over the three-day trial.
(District Attorney Presser)
ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY KEITH FAULDER ON THE BROWN ACT & THE JUDGES
(Interviewed by Mark Scaramella in March of 2007)
Faulder: I see the California Open Meetings Law (or “The Brown Act”) primarily as an educational process. I will enforce the Brown Act and Public Records Act when necessary. It’s the DA’s job in this county. There are lots of local boards that have to follow it. Most of those boards are made up of local people who don’t have much experience with it. They usually want to do the right thing and they try to do it, but they may not always know what’s required of them by the Brown Act. I’ve already started trying to educate these boards. I don’t know how good the information they’re getting now is. Some of them have the text of the law and maybe a brochure or two. I’m getting a video from a group down in Marin County which describes what a local entity’s responsibilities are under the Brown Act. We need to let these agencies know the process before they get into difficulty with the Brown Act. They can always give us a call! We’re happy to advise them on it, just like we advise the Grand Jury. I’ve advised the Grand Jury on alleged Brown Act violations in the past. Of course there is a sense of urgency to the Brown Act because there are 30-day and 90-day time limits on complaints. Tim Stoen, our Fort Bragg prosecutor, is very well versed on the Brown Act and I’ve done my own research on it.
Can you clarify the circumstances when an employee can demand a public hearing if he’s being dismissed? Former CEO John Ball demanded a public hearing when the Supervisors fired him. But was denied. Was that a Brown Act violation?
Faulder: I don’t know much about Ball’s situation. You have to be a public employee as defined in the Act to have the right to a public hearing. The board has to give 24 notice of the proposed action so that the employee can respond to complaints. Allegations from others gives the employee the right to have input and a hearing on those allegations. If the Board is considering a management decision such as contract renewal, the employee is not entitled to a public hearing — only if there are accusations of misconduct and the board is deciding the truth or falsity of charges. Otherwise personnel matters can be in closed session. Also, a board is not supposed to announce a personnel decision until the employee has a chance to exhaust all their administrative remedies. I don’t know if that happened with John Ball. Usually they just announce it: here’s our decision, today. But wait a second, the employee has a right to prior notice. So if a board considers allegations, and you can demonstrate there were allegations, then the action would be null and void.
Did you agree with DA Norm Vroman’s blanket disqualifications of Judge Lehan?
I was not involved in the Lehan situation or with the circumstances which led up to Meredith Lintott’s subsequent resignation. But I challenge anyone to find a 170.6 [peremptory] challenge by me in the eight years I’ve been a prosecutor. No, I didn’t favor it. They had to be sworn under penalty of perjury and I never signed one. I never thought I couldn’t get a fair trial in front of Judge Lehan. I had cases in front of Combest when Norm was disqualifying Judge Combest. And Judge Brown also. But I never filed any. I’m not making a big deal of it, but I had to exercise my independent judgment. We have some excellent judges. I think every judge in this county wants to do the right thing. I’ve never found one who didn’t want to do the right thing because of a personal bias or motive. So I think it’s my job to educate the judge on the law and the situation.
Vroman never alleged personal bias or motive; he alleged that Lehan didn’t know the law and was not controlling the courtroom.
Every judge in this county in my opinion is educable on the law and the facts in any case. I never felt I got a bad deal from a judge because they didn’t know the law or the facts. If they didn’t it was my fault, not the judges. It’s the prosecutor’s duty to educate them. I have remedies such as appeals or publicizing decisions. The public has a right to know how judges act, both good and bad. If a judge sentences a guy to 71-to life, the public should know why. If a judge lets somebody who’s violent out without bail or with low bail the public has a right to know that too. That’s part of the DA’s job.
Press releases can help remind judges that they’re answerable to the public just like the District Attorney is. And appeals are good if you need to try to get a specific decision reversed. But when I don’t think a judge really understands the law on a case, I file memorandums of law, and motions to reconsider. I’ve done that in a few cases. And I’ve had some success. In one case one of our prosecutors who was relatively new didn’t file the case correctly and Judge Brown ruled on what was presented. Then I filed a motion to reconsider and he reversed himself because he wanted to do the right thing. You use different strategies for different judges. We had one judge (no longer sitting now) who had a tendency to read the first page and the last page and not much in between. So I structured my presentations with that in mind.
Blanket affidavits just don’t help much. I can’t see myself doing blanket disqualifications. I can’t rule it completely out on the off-chance we got a really rogue judge. But there are too many other alternatives available that benefit the people and the public and improve the justice of the outcome.
CATCH OF THE DAY, January 8, 2020
RODOLFO ALVAREZ-CARRILLO, Ukiah. Vandalism, battery on peace officer.
JAMES BRANSON, Willits. Forgery, contempt of court.
ERIC HOFFMAN, Wilseyville/Ukiah. DUI, excessive speed while DUI.
ZACHARY HOLMAN, DUI-alcohol&drugs.
HEATHER MARSH-HAAS, Willits. Parole violation.
MARC MORRIS, Rimrock, Arizona/Ukiah. Controlled substance while armed, loaded firearm in public, paraphernalia.
JACOB PARMELY, Ukiah. Parole violation.
REBECCA RULKA, Ukiah. Petty theft with priors, controlled substance, under influence, paraphernalia, probation revocation.
ELIAS RUTHERFORD, Fort Bragg. Failure to appear.
CASSIDY SCHMELTER, Fort Bragg. DUI, resisting, probation revocation.
STEPHEN SERR, Ukiah. Burglary.
GREGORY THOMPKINS, Fort Bragg. Disobeying court order, failure to appear.
MILO WOOD, Hopland. Domestic abuse, suspended license (for DUI), failure to appear, probation revocation.
I was 17 when World War II ended — old enough to be aware of all the optimism, hope and expectations we all had. Now, it’s shocking to examine where we are.
There are great similarities between now and pre-war Europe. Unfortunately, the U.S. is starting to resemble Europe in the early 1930s. For instance:
People are looking for a strong man. Donald Trump has an affinity for strong men. He shows little regard for constitutional restraints on his authority, which is why he’s been impeached. People in Europe in the 1930s were looking for strong men.
There’s been a breakdown in respect for those who believe differently. This lack of respect exists on both sides of the political spectrum, with name calling and dehumanization replacing counter arguments.
Economic power is being increasingly consolidated. This has led to frustration and anger among those who’ve been left out. Sure, unemployment is low, but too many people have a lower standard of living. With the onset of the Great Depression, people had similar feelings of falling behind.
There are more similarities, but these three are sufficient to make my point that the U.S. is at a crossroads and that our great experiment in democracy could fail if we don’t change our ways.
by V.S. Naipul
Nadira was living in Bahawalpur, in Pakistan. One day, she saw a cat on the window ledge of her room. It was looking into the room in a disquieting way, and she told the servant to get rid of the cat. He misunderstood and killed the poor creature. Not long after this, in a laundry basket near the window, Nadira found a tiny kitten who was so young that its eyes were still closed. She understood then that the poor creature that had been so casually killed was the mother of the little kitten, who was probably the last of the litter. She thought she should adopt him. The kitten slept in her bed, with Nadira and her two children. He received every attention that Nadira could think of. She knew very little about animals, and almost nothing about cats. She must have made mistakes, but the kitten, later the cat, repaid the devotion with extraordinary love. The cat appeared to know when Nadira was going to come back to the house. It just turned up, and it was an infallible sign that in a day or two Nadira herself would return.
This happy relationship lasted for seven or eight years. Nadira decided then to leave the city and go and live in the desert. She took the cat with her, not knowing that a cat cannot easily change where it lives: all the extraordinary knowledge in its head, of friends and enemies and hiding places, built up over time, has to do with a particular place. A cat in a new setting is half helpless. So it turned out here.
She came back one day to her desert village and found the people agitated. They had a terrible story. A pack of wild desert dogs had dragged away the unfortunate cat into a cane field. Nadira looked, fruitlessly, and was almost glad that she couldn’t find her cat. It would have been an awful sight: the wild dogs of the desert would have torn the cat to pieces. The cat was big, but the desert dogs were bigger, and the cat would have had no chance against a ravening pack. If it had got to know the area better, the cat might have known how to hide and protect itself. The dogs were later shot dead, but that revenge couldn’t bring back the cat whom she had known as the tiniest kitten, motherless, in the laundry basket. Grief for that particular cat, whose ways she knew so well, almost like the ways of a person, never left her.
And it was only when she came to live with me in Wiltshire—a domesticated landscape, the downs seemingly swept every day: no desert here, no wild dogs—that she thought she could risk having another cat, to undo the sorrow connected with the last.
She went to the Battersea rescue home. In one cage she saw a very small black-and-white kitten, of no great beauty. Its nose was bruised and it was crying. It was being bullied by the bigger cats in the cage. It was the runt of its litter and had been found in a rubbish bin, where it had been thrown away. Everything about this kitten appealed to Nadira. And this was the kitten that, after the Battersea formalities, two friends, Nancy Sladek and Farrukh Dhondy, brought to us.
The kitten was absolutely terrified. It had had an up-and-down life for many days and had no idea what was coming next. It tried now to run away, though there was no place for it to run to. It dug its little claws into the screen door and raced up to the ceiling of the utility room. That was as far as it could go, and I reached up and brought him down. Something extraordinary then happened. It was as though, feeling my hand, he felt my benignity. He became calm, then he became content; he was happy to be in my hand (not much bigger than him), so that in a few seconds, guided by a cat’s instinct alone, he moved from terror to trust. He ran up my arm to my shoulder; when I introduced him to some of my lunchtime guests, he sought to do the same with them. I knew nothing about cats. But he was easy to like.
PLANNING? DARN RIGHT WE HAVE PLANNING. LOOK AROUND YOU!
The January 16, 2020 Planning Commission cancellation notice has been posted on the department website at:
“I DRANK because I wanted to drown my sorrows, but now the damned things have learned to swim."— Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo’s box of tricks. Mexico, 1952
DON'T WANT IT
No Auto Zone: Come to FB City Council on Mon. Jan 13
The proposal to place an unwanted formula box store "AUTO ZONE" on the west side of Highway 1 at the south end of Noyo Bridge is back on the agenda for the Fort Bragg City Council on Monday, January 13th at 6:00 pm. The City of Fort Bragg already has two auto parts stores, and doesn't want or need a third. This proposal was roundly and universally condemned by all present at a Planning Commission meeting last summer, but the greedy and heedless promoters of this stupid idea have appealed the decision, and now want the City Council to approve it. If you care about the future direction of the City of Fort Bragg, please show up at Town Hall on Jan. 13 to let your opinion once again be heard. We need to stop this ridiculous idea once and for all. PS - "AUTO ZONE" is a corporate criminal, that just this past summer was fined $11 million dollars for illegally dumping hazardous waste and compromising consumer information.
VOTE FOR BERNIE
To Vote for Bernie,
If you want to vote for Bernie Sanders in the upcoming March 3rd, California primary election, you must either be a registered Democrat or registered as no party preference. If you are currently registered as a Republican or third party, you must change your registration to either Democrat or no party preference to vote in the Democratic presidential primary. I recommend reregistering as a Democrat which will guarantee that you will receive a Democratic ballot with Sanders' name on it. You can register or reregister to vote on the California State website at: sos.ca.gov/elections/voter-registration/ or pick up a voter registration form at your local Post Office. The final day to register is February 17th, 2020.
SALVADOR DALI "THE FACE OF WAR".
TWO AND A HALF YEARS INTO HIS PRESIDENCY, Trump has already staked a claim to a role in history usually reserved for hereditary monarchs at the end of a line of inbreeding. Historians will list him somewhere between Vlad the Impaler and France’s Charles VI, who thought his buttocks were made of glass.
Much of America loves its Mad King, whose works are regularly on display. Russians under Ivan the Terrible used to watch dogs being hurled over the Kremlin walls when the tsar’s mood was bad. Americans have grown used to late-night insults tweeted at nuclear powers from the White House bedroom.
Royal lunacy is traditionally a secret, but in Twitter-age America it’s a shared national experience. We are all somersaulting down and out the sanity chute. The astonishing thing about Trump is that he wasn’t foisted on us by a council of Bourbons, or by succession law. We elected the man, and are poised to do it again.
History will judge us harshly for this, and will look with particular venom at Trump’s political opponents in both parties, who over the years were unable to win popularity contests against a man most people would not leave alone with a decent wristwatch, let alone their children.
Trump’s original destiny was the destruction of the Republicans as a viable entity in modern American politics. Then he ran a general election like he was trying to lose, and won. Now his legacy is the spectacular end of America’s fragile racial consensus….
— Matt Taibbi
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Human brains have not evolved with the foresight of cinema so when the average person sees a famous actor who played a superhero in his or her last role, they respond in a manner that is akin to actually seeing and meeting the superhero who saved the world. This orgiastic adoration bestowed on celebrities coupled with the wealth that they accrue turns them into our society’s royal class. As I explained in an earlier article, it is difficult then, for some celebrities not to succumb to a sense of narcissistic grandiosity: “I am a wealthy actor who is worshiped by millions of fans. Surely, my uninformed opinion on issues that I know next to nothing about is profound. Hey members of the peasant class, let me lecture to you in a patronizing and condescending way about why you are immoral scum. I will guide you about whom to vote for, what to eat, and how to navigate through daily life because I play pretend on a screen.”
Then Ricky Gervais happens. He steps into the room and smashes celebrities’ privileged safe spaces. They are not used to being called out, let alone from one of their “own.” After all, Gervais is a world-famous celebrity in his own right, so he is part of the ecosystem of grand pretenders, and yet he possesses the fortitude to call out their moral hypocrisy, baffling ignorance, stifling herd mentality, and nauseating virtue signaling. He does not suffer fools gladly. Gervais stares at these pampered, narcissistic, and self-indulgent ignoramuses and tells them what millions of people are thinking, and he does it with spicy humor. Throughout history, great satirists have used their rhetorical abilities to challenge the powerful. Gervais is the latest instantiation of this long tradition: Namely, he uses his comedic talent to mock an out-of-touch elite class of professional fakers.
THE STORY OF TONY & BILL
Hello. My name is Tony, and I've been homeless for about 5 years. The reason for this was one of several, just like most of my homeless friends, as well as my older brother, Bill.
Most of us were either flat broke, just out of a job, couldn't find a job, an alcoholic, a drug abuser, a victim of domestic abuse, a veteran down on his luck, or mentally ill, etc.
And I was hardly alone. I used to walk up and down State Street with all of my belongings in a Safeway shopping cart.
People would tell me that it was nothing but junk, but it was all that I had, all of my worldly possessions. And it was mine. My belongings.
I was OK, or so I thought.
My life is different now and a little better. But please let me continue.
I used to get some of my clothing from Kohl's. Everybody got a discount there, and so did I. A five finger discount. I was good. Really good. I had an elastic string running down the sleeve of my large coat with a small alligator clip on the end. I’d walk into the store with the elastic string stretched out, with one end attached to the top of my inner sleeve, and the clip held open between my fingers. Nobody could even see it. I’d walk up to some underwear or jewelry, and clip the alligator clip on it, let go of the clip and,..swoosh, up my sleeve. I learned this trick from my father who was an amateur magician. You’ve heard the phrase, “there's nothing up my sleeve”. Well, in my case, there was. Unfortunately, my dad died when he was 55 of alcoholism, one year after my mom divorced him. I don't really remember much about him.
So, I shopped at Kohl's for a couple of years, until I finally got caught, and spent a little time in jail. Anyway, once I got out of jail, I went back to my old bad habits. I slept in the Post Office or in the woods. My brother had a small tent just off of the unused railroad tracks. There was a good samaritan that would come into the woods with Little Caesar’s pizzas. I felt bad. He meant well, but after he left, we would throw the empty boxes in the woods, where I usually would defecate. What was I to do? When you gotta go, you gotta go.
I’d go to one of my regular haunts that gave us food, and we could take razors, and deodorant and socks for free. I could have cared less about that hygiene stuff, so while everyone else was getting other things, I’d load up a dozen pair of socks. Socks are like gold. I could trade a pair for some cigs, or a couple of swigs of whisky, or fresh needles. Socks were a valuable trading commodity.
And I could do pretty much whatever I wanted. And then came the change. OMG, we all talked about it, and wondered what we were going to do, fully expecting the worst. My life was seriously about to change, and I liked having no responsibilities. I liked doing nothing but drinking in the woods with my friends, and more. We had a good thing going. But it happened. "The change". They decided that it was best for my brother Bill and I to split up. Sure, I was OK, but my brother had PTSD after he came back from Afghanistan, and he was still pretty screwed up. I couldn’t just hang out any more. Maybe I mouthed off too many times to people I didn’t even know. Hey, alcohol can do that to you. So can meth.
But, the first thing that I was provided was a roof over my head. My brother too. I was given a bunk in a shelter. I did not have much privacy, but, I was meeting people that wanted to actually help me. Geez, my own parents could have cared less about me and Bill, but these people did. It wasn’t as bad as I thought. I had real toilet paper, and a real toilet, and a shower with hot water. Let me tell you, that stream is pretty damn cold during the winter months. I was still drinking, but at least I was warm. More and more, after time, my friends started showing up. They had wondered what had happened to me. I didn’t tell them. I was too embarrassed. They would think that I had given up my freedom, which was so important to all of us.
Now, Bill was different. I guess that he needed more help. So, he was allowed to go to a micro-village south of town. I went to visit him, and I was blown away. He had his own little personal shelter, and a place to store his stuff. It wasn’t very big at all, but it was pretty warm and dry when it rained, and I would go over and visit him. Man, I wanted to live here as well. But, there were conditions.
Being a homeless person meant that I could do what I please. But, the conditions were intended to help me, and my brother and what they kept telling me were the “community interests”. Just because I got this, didn’t mean that I liked it. People wanted to come around and check on him. Me too. I thought that they were nuts to try to help my brother Bill because he is a little crazy, but they did anyway. So, we had to start to do different things. I couldn’t just dump my used needles anywhere. I had to make sure that they were capped, and put in a safe needle container. Once I got used to it, it was OK, because it was the only way that I could get fresh ones. And, even when I am high, I know that a dirty needle could kill me.
And, I had to put my trash in designated places, and not in the woods. It took me awhile to get used to this, but they kept using another phrase, “behavioral modification”. To me this meant that if I didn’t bring back my trash, I wouldn’t be able to use my card. Yeah, my card.
My card is actually kind of cool. Man, at first I didn’t want anything to do with any card.
Nobody likes big brother. But the card let me get meals, and clothing, and other essentials. People said that they just wanted to know what I needed, and was using. Sure, I said. What’s the catch? Well the catch was that I had to start to obey some community rules.
If I got caught stealing I was screwed. If I got caught pissing in the river, same deal. If I got caught with a needle that was uncapped, man, were they pissed off. I had to get used to being a little responsible, as opposed to being free. Free, cold, wet, hungry and drunk. This was my life.
But, I did get used to my card, and other friends of mine started to want one to. I just showed it to eat, so that they knew that I was eating. I showed it to get free clean needles. I still got the free needles. It's just that now, I had to bring back my used ones, and others wanted to make sure that I did. I get it. I just didn’t care. Not one bit. But, other people started to care. They cared about how abusive I was. They said that my brother was a danger to himself, and they cared about him. But they also said that they cared about me. My welfare. So, I used my card. Even my brother got used to the card.
The shelter was OK, but I wanted to move. I wanted to leave the shelter, and move in with him at the micro-village. Man, it kind of reminded me of the people in that old movie, Woodstock, and that’s kind of what the micro-village is. It’s actually kind of cool. People just like me, were doing the cooking for the evening meal. One of my friends, Jimmy, was actually security. Man, Jimmy was the biggest thief in town.
But, he liked the perks. So did I. And I saw that when my brother agreed to talk with people about his condition, and took his medication when he was suppose to, over time, he did seem a little better. He said to me, people aren’t just giving me handouts. They seem to care. So, he was sleeping better than I was, because I was always afraid of getting ripped off when I was asleep, and I decided that, as much as I liked my freedom, that things were changing, and I had to do this.
They gave me choices. Either I go with the program, or I was screwed. Jail or sleeping alone in the woods with no friends gets old. Yes, my friends finally figured that if we all went to shelters, then we could all still hang out together. Sure, I’d still sneek out and get a half pint. But, I don’t pee in the river, and leave my trash in the woods, or steal from Kohl’s, and this seems to be enough to keep everyone, including the police, happy. I even ran into one of the cops that had arrested me a couple of times, only this time, I didn’t have to run. The dude actually came up to me and shook my hand for the first time, and told me that he was proud of me. Me? Are you serious? I never got any respect before. I couldn’t even spell self esteem. But, here I am. If you had told me 2 years ago that I would be trying to get back into school, and had a safe place to live, with people that only wanted good things for me, I wouldn't have believed it. It wasn’t really what I wanted, but I didn’t even know what was good or best for me.
I only knew my best friends. My meth, my pot, my whiskey, and my stash of needles.
So, I am trying. I guess that I have to try, because that’s the way things are now.
People said that they had had enough of me. They said that I was a growing problem, and really, I guess that I was. But that has all changed. I have a card. I have a roof over my head, and food in my belly. And really, all that they wanted was for me to behave myself, stay out of trouble, obey a couple of rules, and listen to people that would come by to talk with me about my issues. Because I have issues. But I am working through them. I guess that I am a work in progress. So, to whoever did this change thing, thanks, I guess. I do see that my brother is OK, and people we don’t even know are doing more for us than our own family did.
Maybe soon, I can move over to the micro-village. I’d like to be with my brother Bill. He is really my only family, and it would be cool to be with him. I care about him. I'm starting to care more about myself, as well.
ANOTHER SHOT AT THE PROP 13 LOOPHOLE
People are asking me about a new initiated constitutional amendment that will be on the November 3, 2020, ballot: "The California Tax on Commercial and Industrial Properties for Education and Local Government Funding Initiative (2020)".
I had a constituent who opposed the initiative ask me: "Isn't this initiative the same as rolling back Prop 13?"
And, "Why doesn't the wording of the initiative have the word 'taxes' in it?"
Another constituent asked, "Doesn't California already have the worst climate for business and job creation in the country?"
Another constituent asked me: "Won't a split-roll property tax will just increase pressure on many businesses that are already finding it hard to make ends meet?"
That said, and with all due respect to my opponents, I strongly believe closing the commercial property tax loophole is important to the State of California and to the poor communities of Northern California. It's our opportunity to effect positive change by restoring more than $11 billion a year to our schools and vital community services without raising taxes on homeowners, renters and small businesses.
It's also a way to fund state pensions, where there are unfunded pension liabilities at both CalPERS and CalSTRS.
This initiative is simply asking for companies, like Google, Facebook, Apple, Netflix, and Intel, that make huge amounts of money, to pay property taxes based on fair market value—the same thing that we homeowners have to do.
Isn't that fair?
My brothers and sisters at the ACLU, Mi Familia Vota, the League of Women Voters, the California Federation of Teachers, the California Teachers Association, the Parent Teachers Association of California, SEIU, AFSCME, and many other organizations are all in favor of this initiative
And so is the California Democratic Party.
And so are Former Vice President Joe Biden (D), 2020 presidential candidate; U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), 2020 presidential candidate; U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), 2020 presidential candidate; Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-Indiana), 2020 presidential candidate; U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), 2020 presidential candidate; Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro (D-Texas), candidate for president; and U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-California).
And so am I!
John Sakowicz, Candidate, Mendocino County 1st District Supervisor