A VERY CRAZY MAN, a literal tin foil hat guy, named Anthony James Pelfrey, has been sentenced to 13 years in state prison for attempted murder. Pelfrey was chattering to imagined presences at the defendant's table last week just before Judge Ron Brown packed him off to 13 years in the state pen. Pelfrey is fairly well known in Mendocino County. He occasionally appeared in Philo to complain about the strange messages he was picking up from certain KZYX transmissions. Because he couldn't allow himself to make left turns, his travel time from Ukiah to the Anderson Valley was longer than it might be, and he thought that nazis had a remote machine that was making his head bigger. Mostly though Pelfrey's torment was confined to his own seething mind, and why Judge Brown didn't commit the bedeviled Ukiah man to the state hospital amounts to one more instance of the judicial cruelty we often see here in “liberal” Mendocino County. Pelfrey was 30 in July of 2007 when he slipped into overt paranoia and attacked two men with a knife, but he has since been found sane by Judge Brown even though psychiatrists testified that Pelfrey was the most obviously insane person they'd ever seen. But Judge Brown, in the insanity phase of Pelfrey's trials, and with the piety of the true judicial idiot, said words to the effect that much as he felt for Pelfrey the law compelled the judge to torture him further at San Quentin rather than send the man to the hospital where Pelfrey belongs.
THE THOMAS PEAR SHEDS and the Alex R. Thomas Company of Ukiah has gone out of business. The impecunious descendants of the thrifty founding father owe $4.9 million to the Savings Bank of Mendocino County $4.9 million, and the Savings Bank is only lead creditor. Founded in 1919, the Thomas orchards and related businesses have been a crucial part of inland commerce since the old man planted his first orchards.
SHERIFF ALLMAN'S heroic but ultimately failed rescue of Jennifer Aikman on the afternoon of August 11th occurred when Allman, on his way home from his office in Ukiah, saw Ms. Aikman's literal fireball of a Geo-brand Jeep on 101 near Calpella. As other persons fought ineffectually to free Ms. Aikman from behind the wheel of her fully engulfed vehicle, Allman, with no hesitation, plunged forward and pulled Ms. Aikman free of the inferno through her driver's side window and then, seemingly in one motion, wrapped the doomed woman in a blanket that extinguished the flames that killed her the next day at the U.C. Burn Center in Davis. Allman suffered painful burns to his hands, but has since returned to work. Although no formal report has been issued, Ms. Aikman's death was a suicide. The poor woman had soaked herself in gasoline and set herself ablaze. She was 36 and had taught the first grade at Calpella School.
“LINDA WILLIAMS' front page article on the sentencing of Clint Smith is a travesty of journalism.” Thus begins a thousand word travesty of confused thinking and old fashioned disinformation from Lanny Cotler of Willits in Ms. Williams' own paper, The Willits News. In fact, Ms. Williams' piece on the Smith case simply reported the facts, the less salacious facts, as anyone who has read the police report knows, of Smith's month's long affair with his 15-year-old student. Cotler, among his many other unfounded assertions, says the reporter's duty, “in a small town like ours,” is “to explain, clarify and heal.” Explain and clarify maybe, but heal the heel who did it? Cotler goes on to say that since Ms. Williams wasn't present at the sentencing, “she missed over four hours of often extremely nuanced testimony.” That nuanced testimony came from Cotler's own wacky circle of friends, a fact Cotler might have added for the clarification he says the reporter failed to seek. To read Cotler's essay on missed nuances, one might have thought Proust had been on trial for serving up stale madeleines and day old tea, not a predatory 38-year-old rural perv who dispatched videos of himself masturbating to a 15-year-old and her 12-year-old sister, and repeatedly had sex with the 15-year-old at his home and in the backseat of his, what else, Subaru, in the romantic noontime parking lot of a Willits bank. The therapists Smith had hired to explain all this away as the one-time aberration of an otherwise swell guy may have convinced Cotler and the Willits branch of Mendofeeb mobilized for Smith's sentencing, but what exactly is Cotler complaining about? Smith, thanks to Judge Brennan, got off. There are men *buried* in the state pen for much less. But Smith will do maybe three months in the County Jail and does *not* have to register as a sex offender, meaning he'll be free to scout the local schools for fresh prospects and, perhaps most gratifying of all to Cotler and the North County Nuancers, Smith will be regarded evermore as the victim of non-healing journalism.
RUSSIAN JOKE: Why are American men always present at the birth of their children? Because they weren't present at their conception.
THE BOARD of Supervisors is making a big deal out of its decision to meet in Fort Bragg this week. “With increasing challenges to county government, it is imperative that we understand the critical needs of our citizens in outlying regions of the county,” said Fourth District (Fort Bragg) Supervisor Kendall Smith. This particular imperative seems just to have occurred to the supervisor, as one wonders how many more years will the Fort Bragg area tolerate zero representation at the County level. Patti Campbell faithfully ran errands for Fort Bragg developers both as a Fort Bragg City councilman, and just as faithfully ran those errands as a supervisor. Other than those few beneficiaries, Patti's effectiveness was zero. Kendall Smith makes Patti look like a virtual whirlwind of accomplishment.
BUT EVEN on its own terms, this “outlying regions” bunk is self-canceling. Although the Board has met a time or two in Point Arena – spending the entire time discussing South Coast matters over which the Board has absolutely no jurisdiction whatsoever – they’ve never met in Covelo, never met in Anderson Valley, never met in Laytonville although there are good restaurants and indifferent constituents in all three places. If the supervisors were serious about hearing from the public they'd hold meetings at night when the public could attend.
THE FORT BRAGG Advocate News runs a regular, and regularly uninformative, feature called “Court Report” in which readers are cryptically informed, for instance, that on August 10th: “The attorney for Rebecca Green brought a motion that if it was accepted by the court, the case would have been basically over. Judge Lehan did just that, ruling that Green was not responsible for all actions taken by a backhoe driver who dredged a bit of the river bottom. In a telephone interview, Tim Stoen, the deputy DA who was trying the case for the People, said he might appeal Lehan's ruling.” What was wrong with the “actions” of the backhoe driver? How was Ms. Green connected to the backhoe driver’s actions? What was the harm, if any? Why would Mr. Stoen want to appeal? The public wants to know, has the right to know, and isn't it past time for the Advocate-Beacon to take the bull by the tail and look the facts full in the face?
THIS FINE PUBLICATION also runs a regularly uninformative Sheriff's Log, but we try to follow up on the more intriguing communiqués from the Sheriff's Department, sparse as they are. Court filings, however, and the police reports accompanying them, are public information. They can easily be intelligibly fleshed out.
WONDERING what the County of Mendocino has submitted to the feds as its Wish List for stimulus funding? Wonder no more! The County has posted its applications on its website. Unfortunately, there’s no explanation why these particular projects were applied for nor which projects, if any, got CEO Tom Mitchell’s axe. 1. $610k worth of “Veterans facilities renovations.” 2. $3 million for Noyo Harbor dredging. According to the application “the heavy rains of late December 2005 and early January 2006 caused heavy silt deposits in the harbor's channel, making it impassable during low tides. Of utmost concern to the county is the impact on the Coast Guard's search and rescue operations unit that could be unable to respond in shallow waters at low tides.” 3. $3.3 million for a telemedicine project. (Nobody at the County asked for stimulus money to assist local health clinics which are in serious financial crisis.) 4. $1.5 million for Simpson Lane, Fort Bragg, interchange improvements. 5. $500k for a microwave system upgrade. (Never mind that the County paid $4.2 million for the system just last year but now needs another $500k to “upgrade” it.) 6. $700k for a “strategic biomass initiative.” This imaginary facility (if that's what it is) would “create and support jobs while augmenting the local renewable energy portfolio. The facility would provide a local market for hog fuel that is currently trucked long distances and create market incentives for the responsible removal of forest fuel and logging byproducts.” Never happen. 7. $300k for Mendo’s perennial favorite: “Coyote Valley Dam feasibility study.” 8. And last and clearly least, $250k for a “digital bookmobile.” (Never mind that the analog bookmobile is hanging on by a fiscal thread as is. Apparently this goofy idea involves replacing the current bookmobile with a roving internet terminal.)
NOT ONE PRACTICAL PROPOSAL on the list. Child care facilities? Not mentioned. An industrial park at the Masonite site? Not even a fantasy. A jail-substation on the Coast to reduce the Sheriff’s transportation costs? Not there. Clinic support? Nope. The new consolidated criminal justice facility that the Supes say they want in Ukiah? Nope. There have been no public hearings on what might be included on the Wish List, and no public invitations for applications. No attempts at ranking the proposals either.
AT LAST WEEK’s second meeting of the County’s Health and Human Services Committee meeting (according to some highly truncated video postings on the UkiahValley.tv website), Supervisor McCowen clashed rather testily with med-pot advocates Beth Bosk, Pebbles Trippet and Sheila Dawn-Tracy. Because the on-line videos were incomplete, it’s hard to tell exactly what Bosk/Trippet/Dawn were arguing with McCowen about, but in a communiqué from Pebbles Trippet reaching us Tuesday, Pebs says “only MMMAB members, represented by Tom Davenport and myself, plus Sheila Dawn and Beth Bosk, resisted the process of keeping people in the dark until the last minute and grafting the question of collectives and cooperatives inappropriately onto the nuisance ordinance.” Translation: McCowen wants legit pot business included in an expanded nuisance ordinance. McCowen presents certain obstacles, once you get past his drop-fall hypocrisy. He's a neo-pot fighter and a man who is never wrong about anything. He'll tell you why he's correct on all things until you've clasped your ears and fallen to the ground pleading with him to escape the sound of his interminable, dentist drill of a voice. Formerly pot friendly, the weapons-grade Ukiah bore subsequently parlayed the pot issue into a seat for himself on the Board of Supervisors. He can now stupefy the whole county where before, as merely one more logorrheaic Ukiah City Councilman, McCowen's tedium was confined to the county seat. McCowen is joined on the Supervisor's health and human services sub-committee by Kendall Smith, meaning, well, these are the End Times.
BUT SHERIFF Tom Allman offered some interesting remarks. Trying to point out to a quartet of persons not known for their receptivity to information contrary to their pre-existing biases, Allman declared, “We're treading water where no one has treaded before.” Hmmm. Standing pat or stomping new paths on the figurative waves of human inhalants?
ALLMAN also told the Committee that the County’s new rule that pot gardens be surrounded by a six-foot fence is being “flouted.” “People are putting up fabric fences and a lockable gate,” said Allman, perhaps anticipating a new med-pot rule spelling out what the pot fences must be made of. Here in Boonville we call those ubiquitous six-foot pine jobs, “dope fences,” as in, “Guess what's on the other side of this thing?” Hemp fences anyone?