- Surpassing February
- County Budget
- Pet Bailey
- Hospital Tent
- Empty Jets
- Explosive Johnson
- LR Airport
- Secret Treasure
- Wendling Mill
- Gloriana Fundraiser
- Shakedown Award
- Gucci Dreams
- Healthy Brains
- Yesterday's Catch
- Black Swanning
- Voting Fiasco
- Five Stages
- Excluding Tulsi
- Just Once
- The Sage
- Legitimation Crisis
- Pandemic Coping
- Pricey T-Shirt
- Unsteady Joe
- Orwellian Masterpiece
- White Rabbit
- Healthcare Analysis
- Ray Trial
- Christian Mythology
- Found Object
ISOLATED LIGHT SHOWERS will remain possible across the higher terrain of interior northwest California through Monday. After that, warmer, drier and sunnier conditions are expected through the end of the week. The next chance of rain will arrive during the weekend. (NWS)
MOISTURE NOTE: yesterday morning Boonville received .05" of drizzle, surpassing February's rain total by .01".
COUNTY BUDGET NOTES
by Mark Scaramella
THE SUPERVISORS will get a “mid-year budget presentation” (including a preview of next fiscal year, July 2020 to June 2021) on Tuesday, March 10. The CEO's razzle-dazzle Powerpoint slides start off with the dates for some upcoming “budget workshops” on May 5, and June 9, and power on through “goals and mission,” with a discussion of Supervisor Williams’ “zero based budgeting” proposal as against the CEO’s preferred “Accountability-based budgeting,” an even sillier term apparently made up by the CEO and her staff to offer to the Board as an alternative to Williams’ idea. There’s also a discussion of “Phase 1 Strategic Plan,” “Goals and Priorities,” and some other equivalently vague financio-ese.
BUT THEN CHART #8 … After forecasting “Economy stable but no growth,” we see “LOOMING RECESSION..”
HEADS UP BOARD: A “looming” economic downturn will turn Mendo’s budget into a sort of ever-contracting Rubik’s cube, making all the other budget mumbo-jumbo irrelevant. We assume that the CEO and her staff are referring to the CoronoVirus which is expected to create a national recession all the way down to Mendo's budget squeeze, mainly from decreased tourism. If the 08/09 recession is any guide, this means local layoffs, delays of capital expenditures, contract reductions, and other large cutbacks.
BUT NOT FOR MANAGEMENT. Another item on the CEO’s agenda is under “Discussion and Possible Action Regarding Salary Disparity Issues within the Health & Human Services Agency (HHSA) Due to 2017 and 2018 Salary Adjustments, Including Adoption of Resolution Authorizing Salary Adjustments.”
TRANSLATION? The “disparity” means that in the name of “fairness” taxpayers have to give more money to their overlapping, highly redundant sub-directors in HHSA so that they achieve “parity” with the Supes and CEO, the Supes and the CEO having given themselves raises in recent years (those “2017 and 2018 salary adjustments”). See how that works? We give ourselves raises because we are so important that we deserve it with minimal discussion or reason (other than “parity with other counties”). Then, top staff below us have to get comparable raises because, golly, we can’t exclude them from the raise party we held for ourselves! That would be unfair!
ACCORDING to the CEO’s accompanying chart, twelve top HHSA officials — Chief Operations Officer, Assistant Directors for Social Services, Public Health, Administration, Behavioral Health, Children’s Social Services, five “Senior Program Mangers,” and the Deputy Director of Public Health Nursing” — need a total of $135k in raises to bring their total collective cost (salary and benefits) to almost $2.7 million — for just twelve (12!) HHSA bureaucrats! That’s about $225k per needless bureaucrat. (Maybe a few Mendolanders remember back in the early 2000s when the three separate HHSA departments — Mental Health, Social Services, and Public Health — were “consolidated” to reduce redundant top-staff costs, only to produce more of it.)
SO, IN THE FACE of the "looming recession" we have the CEO laying it right out there that because of a “disparity” they themselves created they have to pay 12 more top people $2.7 million so that those twelve people can sit on top of a few hundred helping professionals so that Mendo’s tens of thousands of poor people can keep getting their monthly pittances in Medi-Cal and food stamps, plus the huge unaccountable mental health services contract and the occasional short-term motel voucher.
AND IF THAT’S NOT ENOUGH the CEO has now created a budget unit called “Measure B staff unit” within the CEO’s office which means, as we predicted recently, that the 2.25-person unit now in place will soon be four people (and counting), all by themselves soaking up at least $300k per year for the totally unaccountable, vague “management” of Measure B funds which should be going to services and facilities. If this sucker is going down, we're gonna get ours first! If you’re wondering why the “Measure B staff unit” is necessary, simply refer back to former Sheriff Tom Allman’s remark at the last Measure B meeting:
“The project manager and the other [additional] employees are going to be able to adequately present it [“it” being undefined] to the committee and the public so we understand where we’re going. We don’t need a road map. We have a road map. But the specific projects that need to be accomplished, there’s not government staff to say, Go do that. And if we don’t have the right people, in 50 years from now we can look in the rearview mirror if we’re still alive and say we squandered a whole bunch of money. So we are trying to spend it appropriately, but we have to get the right people into the right jobs to answer to you and answer to us that we are doing the right thing.”
PS. And then there’s this little budget intro note: “At Mid-Year FY 2019-20 the Budget team notes, while most departments are doing well and are managing their 2000 series (operational expenses), several smaller departments are in need of additional funds.”
And how much are those “smaller departments” over budget and how much will they “need’?
FROM THE MID-YEAR BUDGET PRESENTATION:
Summary of General Fund Departments Projections by Budget Unit (This summary provides information on General Fund budget unit projections for end of year (EOY) of FY 2019-20 and only includes those departments that are projected to come in over their NCC assignment.)
County Counsel anticipates being over budget by $91,893. Due to legal representation in the CPUC proceedings.
Facilities. At the end of the 2nd Quarter, the division had unbudgeted expenses for the PSPS rental generators and parks needs assessment [a complete waste of money because none of the “needs” will ever be attended to — ed], as well as under realized departmental reimbursement that attributed to increase in expense. The division was unable to absorb the 6% reduction to their 2000 series. The total projected over budget for this department is $116,955.
Public Defender. At the end of the 2nd Quarter, the department has expended just under 50% of their 1000 series budget. However, with a new labor agreement coupled with increases to salaries, the department is projecting to be over budget by $107,777 in the 1000 series at the end of the fiscal year.
Conflict Defender. The Conflict Defender is projecting to be $114,600 over budget due to legal fees for representation of defendants that are in conflict with the Public and Alternate Defender’s office.
Sheriff-Coroner. At mid-year, the Sheriff’s Office now projects their budget will be $792,375 dollars over budget.
County Jail. At mid-year, the County Jail now projects their budget will be $677,422 over budget.
Juvenile Hall is projecting to be over budget by $128,620 due to the increase in staff salaries, as well as the 6% reduction to the 2000 series that was implemented at FY 2019-20 Budget Adoption. [Ed note: Juvenile hall averages 10-15 delinquents and costs over $2 mil a year.)
The Probation Department is projecting to be over budget by $166,485, due to the staff salaries increase. The department is also projecting a 10% reduction in revenue that will be offset by the reduction of reimbursable expenses. [Ed note: we have no idea what this means.]
Animal Care is projecting to be over budget by $230,767. This projection is due to a decrease in revenue, from pending contracts with local cities, Ukiah, Willits and Fort Bragg for services provided potential revenues of $300,000. [Ed note: we have no idea what this means.]
Total over budget in the “smaller departments”: Approximately $2.5 million.
PS. The Executive Office is not listed in this over-run list but it is made up of the CEO and nine or so others, and costs about $900k a year including the CEO who alone makes about $200k a year plus about $115k per year in benefits. Four years ago that same budget unit cost about the same, but they had more staffers than now.
PPS. The Board of Supervisors itself now costs about $800k per year in salary and benefits (plus generous non-salary perks like travel and training, etc.). Four years ago that same budget unit cost about $500k per year in salaries and benefits.
Together, the salaries and benefits of the CEO’s office and the Supervisors is more than the total amount of money expected to come in from Measure D, the highly touted measure that was supposed to show us that Official Mendo is so supportive of fire and emergency services that they put a measure on the ballot that wouldn’t even cover themselves, but might go to the fire services — if these two grotesquely overpaid offices choose to follow the “advice” of Measure E after they cover the looming recession and a $2.7 million overrun in a few “smaller departments.”
UKIAH SHELTER PET OF THE WEEK
Bailey is a very social, sweet, happy dog. She interacts and connects well with people, and leans in for pets and attention. Bailey has clearly been a Mom, but those days are over, and she’s looking forward to her new life, sans puppies. Ms. B was curious to meet another dog, but not playful. Bailey is a mellow dog in general, so a laid back canine friend might be a good match for her in her new digs; she might be overwhelmed by an energetic or very playful dog. Bailey is 4 years old and weighs a svelte 54 pounds.
The Ukiah Animal Shelter is located at 298 Plant Road in Ukiah. Adoption hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Visit our website for information about our canine and feline guests and all of our services, programs and events: mendoanimalshelter.com For more information about adoptions please call 707-467-6453.
FORT BRAGG HARBOR
CLOSER TO MENDO — A commenter writes:
At Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital, a large white tent was erected Thursday outside the emergency department in preparation for a potential surge in patients. The tent, visible from Highway 101, is the clearest sign of ramped up efforts to address the local health emergency.
“It can also provide a space to triage patients with respiratory illnesses away from the general population to minimize spread of illness,” said Angeline Sheets, a Sutter spokeswoman.
On Friday, some hospital staff expressed concern over potential exposure to patients being treated for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. One Sutter nurse, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, said some staff have been exposed to potential coronavirus patients. The nurse said a number of staff have been sent home on self quarantines, including physicians.
AIRLINES ARE BURNING THOUSANDS OF GALLONS of fuel flying empty “ghost” planes so they can keep their flight slots during the coronavirus outbreak
Ukiah Police Department Lieutenant Cedric Crook was told that a citizen saw “the devices” near a dumpster behind Rod’s Shoes in an area between the Pear Tree Shopping Center and Home Depot on North Orchard Avenue, Ukiah. The citizen then walked to UPD headquarters on Seminary Avenue to report what he found around 5:30 a.m. Monday, March 2, 2020. After UPD officers responded to confirm his report, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office bomb squad was dispatched to inspect and contain the devices, described as “a pipe bomb and two homemade IEDs (improvised explosive devices).” Officers then reviewed footage from nearby surveillance cameras and were able to identify a person of interest, Shawn M. Johnson, 49, of Ukiah, who was located the following day, Tuesday, March 3, at the scene of a report of domestic violence.
Johnson was arrested on suspicion of possession of an explosive device and domestic battery, and booked into Mendocino County Jail under $50,000 bail. Crook said Johnson claimed to have been attempting to discard the devices, although the devices were found outside, not inside, the Dumpster. No other reasons or explanations were offered.
(Ukiah Police Presser)
MARCH 10, 1943 — The Mendocino Coast, with 100 miles of shoreline bordering the Pacific Ocean and open to air or submarine attack if and when Japan or the other Axis powers should deem it worth the effort and risk to make such attempt, has at last been recognized as requiring a proper airport. Today, none exists on the coast between San Francisco and Eureka. The Navy Department has requested the establishment of such an airport, the Civil Aeronautics Administration has recommended it and the Airport Approval Board, on such request and recommendation, has allocated $650,000 for the construction of a class four airport at Little River.
(Mendocino Beacon archives)
BOONVILLE, CALIFORNIA, the most discovered small town in America!
THE MILL AT WENDLING (NAVARRO) 1912
A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC
Join Gloriana Musical Theatre for A Little Night Music, our signature fundraising event. Your gala ticket grants you entry to both the sit-down dinner show and the get-up-and-dance after party.
Enjoy an elegant four-course dinner by Sugar Coated Catering and wine from Navarro Vineyards, while getting a sneak peek of our 2020 season.
After dinner, kick up your heels to the Bob Ayres’ Swingin’ Boonville Big Band and your favorite dance hits spun by DJ Taylor at our amazing after party.
This year’s theme is vintage glam, so dust off your dancing shoes and dress to impress!
Can’t join us for the gala dinner? Get your ticket for just the after party and come dance with us.
Party Sponsors--Navarro Vineyards, Frey Vineyards, Greenwood Construction, Mendocino Community Network. Please visit them all and say thanks!
Buy your tickets here: gloriana.org/fundraising-events
ED DENSON IS ON THE CASE!
I have sent the California State Association of Counties this email. I have forwarded copies to [Humboldt County] Supervisor Estelle Fennell and Supervisor Mike Wilson asking that they reject the award. If you have an opinion about it you might do the same. The award is scheduled for March 10 at the Board meeting at 9:30 if you would like to express an opinion in person. The official press release sounds like it was written by Planning and not CSAC, and contains several misstatements of fact, of course.
I am a lawyer in Humboldt County. I just read a press release stating that you are giving the county an award for its cannabis abatement program. Have you lost your minds? This program involved misusing satellite imagery to determine if unpermitted cannabis was being grown. The imagery was primarily that of greenhouses, not cannabis cultivation, but the Code Enforcement Unit blithely proceeded on the assumption that every greenhouse had cannabis in it, and threatened about 1000 individuals and families in the county with enormous penalties, often up to $30,000 per day, for unpermitted cannabis cultivation. No on the ground verification was used, and a good number of false positives occurred. People who went to the County Code Enforcement Unit about these notices without legal representation were subjected to high pressure bullying and threats of penalties amounting to seizure of their homes, causing some to agree to thousands of dollars in fines as they were so frightened. Well over 1 million dollars was extorted from the already embattled small landowners of the county with a lack of reasonable suspicion or due process. Those who refused the extortion and appealed ended up in kangaroo administrative hearings run by the county with penalties of hundreds of thousands of dollars requested. Cases challenging the results of some of these hearings have been taken to the Humboldt County Superior Court, and may well go further. At the least, you should not make awards until the legality of the program is adjudicated.
The program has been a civil rights disaster, and a taste of what life under Big Brother can become. If you need to take any notice of this program your proper response would be to suspend Humboldt County from membership in your organization until the program was dismantled and restitution made to the innocents who were victimized by it.
Would you like a presentation to your selection committee for this award by some of the victims of the program you believe is praiseworthy? I believe I could arrange it for you.
I suggest you do your due diligence on this program before judging it. Giving this award will be a blot on the integrity and purpose your your organization, and in years to come when the truth comes out, you will be issuing statements of regret and apology.
Eugene Denson, CSB 202415.
THE END OF MENTAL ILLNESS
Letter to Editor
The End of Mental Illness: How Neuroscience is Transforming Psychiatry and Helping Prevent or Reverse, Mood and Anxiety Disorders, by Daniel Amen MD, 2020, is about what you can do to create a healthy brain. One of the 12 Guiding Principles is about meeting your brain’s needs in order to work at optimal efficiency. The needs are: physical and mental exercise, new learning, food as fuel, adequate sleep, meaning and purpose in your life, being socially connected to others, proper hydration, a strong immune system, efficient waste management system, and healthy blood flow to deliver oxygen, vitamins, and essential minerals to the brain.
Redwood Community Services in Fort Bragg provides Healing Center classes where students receive this practical information to enhance brain and all health. This is an education and support group for people wanting to develop a healthy lifestyle with gradual and profound life changes. Each person integrates what resonates with them, into their daily life and then shares their experiences with the rest of us. We learn from each other and from the wise teachers we study together. We all need this.
Students are going back to college, appreciating support around sobriety, eating healthier, sleeping better, choosing healthy connections with others and leaving behind the unhealthy ones, managing the inevitable stresses, resolving old issues, moving forward with their lives, and helping others along the way. People are expanding their artistic and writing creations, brainstorming ideas to solve the housing crisis, and discovering that by becoming quiet and stilling those head voices, they are in touch with their inner wisdom.
Sonya Nesch, Healing Center Teacher, Comptche
CATCH OF THE DAY, March 7, 2020
JOEL ALVAREZ-LOPEZ, Ukiah. Under influence, controlled substance without prescription, disobeying court order, probation revocation.
SPENCER ASHER, Covelo. Probation revocation.
CHANDLER BOWERS-PIERCE, Willits. Domesic abuse, child neglect/abandonment, false imprisonment.
MELANIE EISMANN, Little River. DUI.
SYNNEA GILES, Fort Bragg. Domestic battery.
RODOLFO GONZALEZ-ALVAREZ, Ukiah. Suspended license (for DUI), probation revocation.
ELIANA GUTIERREZ, Ukiah. Under influence, probation revocation.
MICHAEL HILTON, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Failure to appear.
SUSAN HOLMES, Ukiah. Communicating with prisoner withouit consent, disobeying court order.
SHEILA LEWIS, Laytonville. Battery.
JIMMIE MOONEYHAM, Fort Bragg. Suspended license, failure to appear.
KENNETH PARTRIDGE, Ukiah. Under influence.
IVORY PINOLA, Mendocino. Suspended license (for DUI), probation revocation.
JEREMIAH SKINNER, Laytonville. More than an ounce of pot, paraphernalia, violation of restraining order by purchase or receipt of firearm.
RYAN SUNDSTROM, Gualala. DUI.
JOSE VILLA-GOMEZ, Guernville/Ukiah. DUI, suspended license, probation revocation.
KELLY WINCHESTER, Petaluma/Ukiah. Failure to appear.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
The C-Virus situation is converging on the life of my family in several ways simultaneously:
Son Thom and his squeeze (they’ve been living together more than 10 years but not married…thus ‘squeeze,’ not wife) have an 8 day slot of time available for a vacation and what with a full time job and school courses it’s the last open time slot he expects to have for the next 2 years. And so they booked a trip to Paris from Mar 1st thru Mar 8th. With great concern I dropped them off at Newark Aprt for the trip over. I will pick them up Mon when they return assuming the flight doesn’t get canceled which looks unlikely as of now since France/Paris has only been slightly impacted by the virus.
They no sooner arrived in Paris than the Louvre was shut down…groan, one of their reasons for going. A day or two passed and the Louvre suddenly reopened. From the pictures texted to us it seemed Thom and his squeeze and only a few others got the word of the reopening. Thom is seen standing in gallery after gallery as the sole visitor.
And then there is my daughter, Maggie. She and her husband live in Manhattan. She works in retail and has to commute via subway which is always packed. Sometimes she can sit and other times she has to stand…all those seats and hand rails. All stocks of hand sanitizers, masks and rubber/surgical gloves are sold out. I checked for her in Jersey but, ditto. The shelves are empty. Her job is not one that can be worked from home. No work, no pay. Fortunately, her husband CAN work from home. He’s with a big Canadian bank.
Months ago Maggie laid out significant money for tickets to take my wife to see The Lion King. This happens this Sunday. The show is always sold out. My wife will take a train into the City and then they will sit for hours in a crowded theater. There is no way my wife would consider missing this show. She would rather get the virus. Maggie already has respiratory issues…had a deviated septum operated on several months ago.
Last Sept my wife and I booked a Viking river cruise that starts in Prague and ends in Berlin. The boat holds 190 paid passengers + crew. At least its not one of those ships that holds thousands. The trip runs from May 9 to May 19. No telling what may happen between now and then. Cancellation of the flights to/from Europe or the cruise itself are a distinct possibility unless this whole virus thing somehow blows over. At the time of booking I paid extra for cancellation insurance. I just read the insurance document. Odds are that we would get a voucher for a future cruise sometime in the next 2 years. To get a cash refund requires meeting one of a dozen or so criteria, none of which are likely to apply to me. I’m not interested in a future rebook. I’m old enough already that I could be dead by then. Hey, wait a minute. Maybe that’s the answer. If either my wife or I die before the trip the booking can be canceled with a cash refund.
This CoronaVirus thing is the very definition of a Black Swan.
CALIFORNIA STEALS ITS OWN ELECTION
Voting reforms create an electoral mess and deny Sanders a bigger win.
Bernie Sanders supporters who complain that the Democratic primary contest is rigged may have an ironic point. Look how he was denied what might have been a bigger victory in California on Super Tuesday that would have countered Joe Biden’s Eastern U.S. rout narrative. Blame incompetent progressive government.
California’s tally at our deadline Friday had Mr. Sanders with 33.6% of the statewide vote to Mr. Biden’s 25.3%. But about three million mail-in and provisional ballots still have to be counted, and the state has until April 10 to certify results. So we won’t know how many of California’s 415 delegates Mr. Sanders won for another month or so.
Experts predict Mr. Sanders will win most of the uncounted ballots since young people often vote late. But the delayed results will dampen the benefit he might have gained from his California victory on Super Tuesday’s election night. Not that his friends on the left in Sacramento care. “In the state with the largest electorate in the nation, the vote count does not end on Election Night—and that’s a good thing,” declared Secretary of State Alex Padilla on Tuesday.
Mr. Padilla is trying to put a positive spin on California’s voting fiasco. Lawmakers recently overhauled election procedures in the name of making it easier for young people and Hispanics to vote. Yet the result was the opposite, and Mr. Sanders is the victim.
Start with the state’s 2016 Voter’s Choice Act, which allowed counties this year to reduce polling places and instead send absentee ballots to all voters. The law also expanded in-person voting and let voters cast ballots at any polling place in their county. Voters may also register, or change their party identification or address, on Election Day.
As a result, polling places were swamped with new voters and independents who didn’t realize they had to formally request mail-in Democratic ballots. Fifteen counties experienced problems trying to connect to online voter databases. After waiting in line for hours, many voters had to cast provisional ballots.
The Legislature gave Los Angeles County an exemption from the 2016 law after local officials complained it was too expensive to mail ballots to each of its 5.5 million voters following a $300 million voting system upgrade. Called Voting Solutions for All People, the upgrade made Iowa’s caucuses look competent.
Poll workers were supposed to use computer tablets to look up voter registrations, but the devices stalled as more tried to connect with the county online database. Then voters couldn’t figure out the high-tech voting contraptions, which required selecting choices on a touch screen, printing out a physical ballot, re-inserting the ballot into the machine and clicking a final button.
Many voters left without completing all steps or realizing they didn’t vote. Because machines repeatedly broke down, many voters had to complete write-in forms, some of which were in languages they didn’t speak. All these dysfunctions resulted in hours-long lines, which one voter compared to being stuck in traffic on LA’s 405 freeway.
Only two companies bid for LA’s new voting system because one condition was that it be publicly owned—i.e., socialized. One was U.K.-based company Smartmatic, which got its start developing a new system for Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela in 2004. The other had developed ObamaCare’s Healthcare.gov website, which famously crashed on its launch date. Smartmatic won. Voters lost.
Even considering uncounted votes, turnout is running lower than in the June 2016 primary. So to recap: California Democrats moved up the state’s primary to make it more relevant and reduced voting obstacles to boost liberal turnout. In the end they disenfranchised many Democratic voters, and denied Mr. Sanders the flush of his primary victory. This would be darkly amusing if it didn’t undermine trust in the legitimacy of election results.
(Wall Street Journal)
The Democratic National Committee has ratcheted up the threshold to qualify for its next presidential debate, requiring candidates to have picked up at least 20% of convention delegates allocated in state primary contests.
The new rules announced Friday for the March 15 debate in Arizona will allow former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders to participate but will likely exclude Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.
Gabbard has struggled to attract support in the contest and has picked up only two delegates — from the U.S. territory of American Samoa, where she was born. By comparison, Biden has more than 660 delegates, while Sanders has over 570.
On Twitter late Friday, Gabbard urged Biden and Sanders to let her join the debate. “I’m sure you would agree that our Democratic nominee should be a person who will stand up for what is right,” she tweeted. “So I ask that you have the courage to do that now in the face of the DNC's effort to keep me from participating in the debates.”
A two-person debate would be the party's smallest yet. Ten previous debates had at least six candidates, but many candidates have dropped out since then. Only Biden, Sanders and Gabbard remain in the Democratic race.
The DNC's new rules require a candidate to meet the delegate threshold by March 15 and pick up more delegates in elections to be held Tuesday in a handful of states, including delegate-rich Michigan.
The party said it will calculate the delegates awarded by adding together those allocated in counts by The Associated Press or CNN to all candidates, including those who were awarded delegates in earlier states but have since dropped out of the race.
DAO DE JING CHAPTER 2
The Sage is occupied with the unspoken and acts without effort. Teaching without verbosity, producing without possessing, creating without regard to result, claiming nothing, the Sage has nothing to lose.
Craig Stehr firstname.lastname@example.org
ED NOTE: And is boring as hell.
WELCOME TO THE NEW LEGITIMATION CRISIS: BERNIE SANDERS VS. THE PLUTOCRATS
In these dangerous times, we might be pardoned for finding comic relief in the spectacles that are constantly playing out, as our uncomprehending ruling class stages displays of its own rank incompetence, its unfitness to govern. We might be excused for mocking the emperor's new clothes.
A LAYMAN'S GUIDE TO SURVIVING THE COVID-19 VIRUS
Please let me start by saying that I am not a doctor. I try to solve problems using logic and common sense. We are being given too much conflicting information around this coronavirus or Covid-19. Please allow me to try to break some of this confusion down. We are being told things by our President and Vice-President that are simply wrong. Dangerously wrong. You know it, and I know it. There won't be a miracle and it will just go away. It is certainly not in containment. And the government isn't totally on top of it.
Next, we are told to stay away from crowds, and we are being told this from who? From people and reporters all standing around in crowds or crowded rooms. We are all still attending large gatherings and events. These are transmission opportunities. One sneeze or cough from someone infected that is standing close, and many people will get sick, and some will die. Yes, we will be certainly missing some of the regular events that we all love to attend, and it will be quite costly for many of these events to be cancelled. But, cancel them anyway! How much is one life worth?
We personally are not attending ANY gatherings of people. None. Not at a party, on a bus, or an airplane, an airport or a cruise ship. None! Then, we are told about the importance of social distancing. Do not come in close proximity to others within 6 feet. (basically how far a sneeze travels). Yet, the fist bump is being recommended instead of a handshake. Well, in order to be close enough to fist bump, then you are within 6 feet, so which way is it?
Next, we are told to sneeze into our elbows. Brilliant, simply brilliant. Not! If you do this, then, the droplets of virus sit for 2 days on your clothing. If they tell you not to touch the front of a face mask because that’s where the germs are, then the same applies to your shoulder or elbow. Cough or sneeze into a tissue, and then dispose of the tissue securely in a sealed trash container. Anywhere else that you sneeze, then those germs live there. If you fist bump, then one part of your hand still comes into contact with someone else's hand. Sure, wash your hands, but wash your clothes more as well. Shower more, with soap. This virus can linger on any surface. No more hand or body contact when greeting someone. It is simply time for all of us to start to do the same as the Japanese, the Namaste Bow. You know what this is. And what it is, is smart and prudent.
Now, on to masks. You may hear that masks are not needed for healthy people, and that they do not work very well, yet, the next comment you may hear is about not stockpiling masks, because they are in short supply and they are needed by those in the medical field. So, should we be using them or not?
Let me quickly explain masks. First, there is the standard surgical mask. This does one thing only. If you are wearing one, and you sneeze or cough, then the mask captures the germs. These do not stop germs from getting into your nose, eyes or mouth. The whole idea here is that "everyone" should be wearing surgical masks to prevent the transfer of germs from a sneezing or coughing host. If everyone wore masks, then the germs would not be spreading as much. But, I ask others here in Ukiah. How many people do you see wearing masks?…and the response is generally always the same. “Well, you’re the first one that I have seen”.
Next, we have the N95 mask. Even this mask is not really a true respirator, which is what paint sprayers use. This mask does stop germs from being breathed in, but only 95%, hence the name N95. I do not go out any longer without wearing one of these masks. Now, here is the problem. 2 months ago, they were cheap, like just over $10 for 20. 3 weeks ago, they jumped to $50. 2 weeks ago, they jumped to $100, and some now are asking $150-$300 for 20 masks, if you can find them. Amazon has a very limited supply from vendors because vendors were price gouging, and being removed from the Amazon site. So, you can still find N95 price gouged masks on eBay, but you will pay an awful lot for them. Now, you may not see anyone around Ukiah wearing them, but if you go on an airplane, probably half of the people will be wearing masks. The smarter half. And if you are going to use a mask, please, know how to put it on and take it off correctly. Please know how it is supposed to fit on your face. Do not touch the front of the mask, and make sure that you dispose of it properly.
Why has the transmission of this virus slowed down in China, but is exploding in other countries? Well, for one, their authoritarian rule can dictate that they will be in forced isolation. We here in America value our freedom, and do not want government to impose things upon us. Well, the phrase Live Free or Die, might become Live Free, and you might Die. Also, everyone in China is wearing masks. This means that if someone coughs or sneezes, it gets caught in the mask. Everyone here would need to be wearing surgical masks, and we are simply unwilling to do this. At least at this point.
Now, you hear this said,..”Don’t panic”. Well, panic does provoke a fight or flight response, and this is not necessarily bad. If it makes you want to be overly prepared for your safety, and you are buying extra food, water, medications, masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, etc., then this is good. But, there has been a run by people stocking up on even more and more ammo and guns, and this is not necessarily a good thing. And, if you are driven to be stocking up on supplies, then this can also help you in ANY TYPE of emergency. This is good. But, if you wait until the last moment, and then decide to panic, then you will be standing in large long lines with crowds of potentially infected people all fighting over empty shelves. There have already been fights in stores in Italy, and lines a mile long at Costco’s in Hawaii. Go google this for yourself. It’s right there on youtube. Watch it. Is this the way that you should prepare, or are you already prepared?
It is abundantly clear that the government is botching this. There are not enough testing kits, or people being tested, and some of the kits have been found to be defective. And, we are not being given the truth by our government officials, just like the Chinese government lied to the world and withheld information about this virus in the beginning. So, please, do not listen to what you hear on TV from politicians. They are not doctors. Listen to people in the medical field. Go to responsible websites where you can find accurate data.
Please listen now. I will give you just a few recommendations. One is to use your common sense. Do what YOU believe you should and what the medical community advises to protect yourself and your families. And another is to be vigilant. Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands frequently, like they are telling you. Don’t touch your face with your hands. Wear gloves. Use a hand sanitizer. Wear a mask when going out. Self isolate. And be honest with others. Tell them that you are wearing a mask to avoid getting a virus that can potentially kill you. Because, it might.
And here is another idea. Use your credit card for payment, and do not use cash. Paper money or coins can carry the virus. Also, try to avoid handing the card to another person. Either put it in the card reader, or hold it while someone scans it or looks at it.
If you are 60-99 years old, you will need to take extraordinary measures to protect yourself. People in this age group are the most likely to die from this virus along with people with compromised immune systems or underlying medical conditions. If you are over 60, isolate yourself from others as much as possible. I am over 60, and I practice what I preach.
Pay close attention to common areas where many people touch, and clean it with a disinfecting wipe or spray. Doorknobs. Elevator buttons. Toilet handles. Shopping cart handles. Restaurant menus. Computer keyboards. Steering wheels. ATM keypads. Gas pump handles. Etc. Think about all of the things that one single kid at school touches every day. This virus can be anywhere. Limit your exposure. Avoid touching, kissing and hugging. Keep your distance from others. 6 ft.
“You avoid catching this virus by avoiding other people”. Stay informed.
Don’t believe everything that you hear from Politicians. They want to be re-elected. They are telling you that this is contained. It isn’t.
Don’t believe everything that you hear on TV. They want you to watch, and then buy stuff from their advertisers. Go to online reputable sources. The CDC. The W.H.O. Worldometers.info.
You are going to be inconvenienced. Schools closed. Churches closed. Events cancelled. This virus will show up in Mendocino County at some point, as it already is in Napa, Sonoma, and Humboldt Counties. And California has the second highest amount of people that have the virus. Washington is number one. Have a plan if your kids cannot attend school for 2 weeks. Have a plan if you cannot leave your house for 2 weeks.
In closing, I will use the word that is being kept from you. Pandemic. This is a Pandemic. By any definition, that is what this Covid-19 virus is. Know the truth and act appropriately and accordingly.
And stay alive!!
TRUMP'S CAMPAIGN ALREADY RUNNING ANTI-BIDEN ADS
Get ready for this 24/7 if he's the nominee!
NO EASTER BERNIE
by Paul Street
‘A Witch Out of Dickens’
Former MSNBC (MSDNC) talk show host Chris Matthews’ execution by the Bernie Sanders campaign today was quick and painless. A guillotine was set up near Central Park’s Pond & Gapstow Bridge. A crowd of 15,000 applauded politely after Matthews’ head was held up and placed inside a model Cold War era television. Ticket fees (ranging from $27 to $200) were dedicated to the Sanders campaign. Sanders addressed the crowd, calmly explaining why Matthews had been condemned. Sanders asked attendees to go to berniesanders.com to contribute further to his campaign and to nominate other broadcast journalists for execution in Central Park “or in any other major metropolitan park across our great country.”
That story is obviously made-up, though richly deserved given Matthews’ career-ending (finally!) comments trying to link Sanders to “Castro and the Reds” and “executions in Central Park.”
This is not made up: last Tuesday morning, as Super Tuesday voting was just underway, MSDNC’s self-caricaturing and Bernie Sanders’-hating morning host Stephanie Class-Ruhle had on (I am not joking) daytime television’s vicious small-claims court Judge Judy to denounce Sanders and promote Mike Bloomberg. I remember watching Judge Judy while home with the flu years ago. She is a loathsome bourgeois witch, a miserable shaming villain straight out of Charles Dickens. She hands down mean-spirited judgments against poor people of color, coupling her verdicts with noxious lectures on their personal and cultural responsibility for their positions at the bottom of the nation’s deep wells of social injustice.
Stephanie Class Ruhle is a global derivatives trader who calls Wall Street her “favorite place” and lives in luxury in East Central Park. She smiled so hard her cheekbones seemed at risk while Judge Judy proclaimed that “This is the greatest country in the world. Nobody wants to leave it. It could use some tweaking, some incremental change.” Judge Judy said that “Bernie’s revolution is a joke” because “it is fiscally irresponsible” and it’s been tried and failed “in Venezuela.” Judge Judy said that people might want “a revolution” in their youth but then “young people grow up.” Judge Judy said that Sanders’ call for “revolution” is “unfair” and “unjust.”
Bloomberg, Judge Judy said, “is the reason I am out from behind the cloak.”
Wall Street Steph said it “was an honor and a privilege” to give Judge Judy a platform for her vile views.
You can’t make shit like this up.
As would never cross Steph and Judy’s bourgeois minds, Sanders is advocating for incremental change. Single Payer, an increase in the minimum wage, free public college, and green jobs programs are not the nationalization of the means of production and the dismantlement of the American Empire. They are reforms under capitalism. I know plenty of people, including lots of middle-aged and senior folks, who would love to see an actual democratic people’s and socialist revolution in the United States. I also know many who would like to leave this country. They are sick of in a nation so pathetically corporate-dominated and reactionary that something as simple, decent, and cost-saving as taking corporate profit out of health insurance and making health care a human right – Medicare for All – is considered unaffordable and dangerously “radical.”
Next up in Central Park: Stephanie Ruhle and the virulent center-right pretend liberal Joy Reid, who has been inserted into the now “retired” Matthews’ old 7 pm MSDNC slot to knife Sanders and his backers in a far more sophisticated and identity-correct fashion.
A Sick Society
Speaking of corporate health insurance and sick societies, here was an interesting news item from the day after Ms. Class-Ruhle and her fellow fake-progressive talking heads at MSDNC and CNN helped Sanders lose to the right-wing buffoon Joe Biden:
“UnitedHealth’s Stock Soars After Biden’s Strong Showing…Shares of UnitedHealth Group Inc. UNH, -2.93% soared 10.4% in premarket trading Wednesday, as Joe Biden’s strong showing on Super Tuesday assuaged fears over the potential negative impact from “Medicare for All” being proposed by Senator Bernie Sanders. The stock’s implied price gain would add about 185 points to the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s DJIA, -3.73% price, while Dow futures YMH20, -3.11% surged 643 points. Among others in the managed care business, shares of Anthem Inc. ANTM, -4.51% hiked up 9.6% ahead of the open, Humana Inc. HUM, +0.24% jumped 7.8%, Centene Corp. CNC, -3.54% ran up 8.3% and Cigna Corp. C, -5.34% surged 10.9%.”
Do we live in an evil country or what? A presidential candidate whose dream is to make health care a human right got beat up and a leading mafia outfit’s share price went up 180 points! I am reminded of something two exiled German communists wrote in 1848:
“The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his ‘natural superiors,’ and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous ‘cash payment.’ It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom — Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.”
‘An Orwellian Masterpiece’
Speaking of CNN, MSDNC, and Biden’s big bourgeois Super Tuesday adventure, I hope I am not the only one who noticed that both of the cable networks’ expert panels were chock full of former Obama staffers and current Obama pals like Van Jones, Robert Gibbs, David Ploufe, and David Axelrod. It is, as Terry Thomas says, “an Orwellian masterpiece” for the corporate media to pretend to dispassionately report and comment on the very same political history that it is itself endeavoring to make. The capitalist print and broadcast media, with MSDNC in the vanguard, has been leading a full-frontal ideological offensive on “radical” Sanders, replete with neo-McCarthyite fearmongering, red-baiting, and serial fabrication and distortion. CNN even allowed one of its more subhuman chattering skulls (the reactionary cretin Michael Smerconish) to liken Sanders and his supporters to the coronavirus. (Historically astute readers may be aware that the Nazis described Jews and socialists as viral infections.)
Speaking of the bourgeois darling Obama – himself a noted Wall Street agent and Single Payer-killer who has been reaping the financial rewards of dedicated service to the nation’s corporate oligarchy ever since handing the White House to Trump: who you do think made he calls that commanded Alfred E. Wine Cave (Buttigieg) and Amy Klobuchar to shut down their campaigns and endorse the dollar-drenched dotard from Delaware, soon to be the next squealing centrist seal to be devoured by the Great Orange Shark? (It was amusing to watch Obama’s former campaign chief and top political advisor Axelrod report that Obama may have reached out to Buttigieg and Klobuchar when Axelrod might well have been in on the calls himself.)
Turn[ab]out Fear is Fair Play
Turnabout, the old saying goes, is fair play. One of the key tools the corporate media and the “moderate” (right-wing) Democratic presidential candidates have used against Sanders is fear – fear of the supposed socialist Bernie menace (absurd since Bernie’s a social democrat at leftmost, not a socialist)and real socialism is the best thing that could happen to us) and fear of Sanders’ alleged un-electability. Are progressives not supposed to reply by warning people about the real menace of the billionaire-backed Biden’s right-wing corporatism and his intimately related un-electability?
The gaffe machine Biden’s brains have been coming out of his ears for years and it’s only going to get worse in coming weeks, months, and years. His lack of impulse control is a telling sign of his dementia. His body men struggle to prevent him from rubbing women’s’ backs and sniffing their hair. He told a Warren supporter in Iowa that he was “too old to vote,” calling the gentleman “fat” along the way. He called a young woman a “lying dog-faced pony-soldier.’ He accused the centrist Joy Reid of wanting a leftist “physical revolution.”
He loses his train of thought in mid-sentence. He forgets what state he’s in and what day it is. He idiotically defends his past alliance with a racial-terrorist segregationist senator by saying that “he never called me boy.” He boasts that he would have beaten up Trump behind the gym in high school. He tells outlandish stories about past swimming pool confrontations with angry young Black men named “Corn Pop.” He babbles idiotically about young Black children who like to watch the hair curl up his legs. He calls for the use of “record players” as a solution to inner-city poverty. He has to rescind a preposterous claim to have gotten arrested trying to visit Nelson Mandela in apartheid South Africa.
Seriously? Joe Biden? The man is way past his bedtime. And he was a terrible lying candidate and a serial plagiarist long before his mind stared fading. (Besides being morally and ideologically offensive, the promotion of Biden speaks to our abject ignorance about mental health in the USA: if people can’t see that Biden is suffering from dementia and it’s only going to get worse and worse, it’s hard to know what to say. Imagine the 2020 debates between Trump and Biden. In one corner a full-on level-one malignant narcissist who is practically illiterate and innumerate, besides being an at least instinctual fascist: Trump. In the other corner, a right-wing Dem corporatist who doesn’t know what state he’s in or how to tie his shoelaces: Biden.)
On top of which, Biden’s corporate-funded record stands well to the right of the majority-progressive values of the Democratic base on issue after issue: public health insurance, the protection of Social Security, bankruptcy law, credit card interest rates, racist mass incarceration, the arch-criminal invasion of Iraq, student debt, tuition, the minimum wage, climate, and more.
Evil Trump will squash “Sleepy Joe” like a bug. Be afraid, very afraid, of a Joe Biden nomination. As Conor Lynch notes, “Joe Biden Be Trump’s Dream Opponent.” Understand that millions and millions of Democratic voters who were inspired by Sanders’ progressive populism will simply not turnout to vote for Joe Biden no matter how much Bernie will (sadly) plead for them to do so. Michael Tracy (asking “What Could Divide the Democrats More Than Conspiring to Stop Sanders?”) is dead-on here:
“The moderate 11th-hour dropouts [Buttigieg and Klobuchar] are craven, not courageous…The logic set forth by Klobuchar in her endorsement speech, which is no doubt shared across vast stretches of the Democratic professional/media class, is that Bernie would ‘divide the party’ and therefore hand Trump an easy win in November [same for Buttigieg’s nauseating endorsement oration, which absurdly hailed Biden as a progressive – P.S.]. Oddly, it doesn’t seem to occur to them that this coordinated establishment intervention done for the purposes of blocking Bernie will also inevitably ‘divide the party’, and probably more gravely so. Bernie’s most ardent backers are already absolutely incensed. They will not fall in line behind…Joe Biden. They just won’t…. If you enrage and alienate them by appearing to rig the process against their candidate (for the second time) then you are inescapably ‘dividing the party’ and in all likelihood assuring a Trump victory.” (emphasis added)
A Biden nomination will amount to the Corporate-Neoliberal Inauthentic Opposition Party of Fake Resistance mounting a Campaign to Re-Elect “the Most Dangerous Criminal in Human History” (Noam Chomsky’s accurate and recent description of Trump).
They Don’t Care
And here’s something to reflect on: The Democratic establishment won’t care. They don’t care. Please let that sink in, dear progressives: THEY DO NOT CARE. Put this on your record player: the Dem establishment will gladly enable a second fascistic and ecocidal Trump term before it will get behind a progressive Dem/Sanders nomination. They would rather to lose to the rightmost party, even an ever-more fascistic and apocalyptic GOP, than to the moderately social-democratic left wing of their own party.
Never forget that Trump has been very, very good for ratings and commercial revenues at MSDNC and CNN. Steph, Joy, Anderson Cooper, Don Lemon, Chris Cuomo. Rachel Maddow, Joe Scarborough, Nicolle Wallace, Lawrence O’Donnell, and the rest (and here I need to sadly add the clever Catholic comedian Stephen Colbert) and their corporate cable employers have some very good reasons to look forward to four (how about eight or nine or more?) more years of “the most dangerous criminal in human history” in the world’s most powerful (and dangerous) office.
The Party’s Over: Sanders “Fighting on two Fronts”
The party’s over, folks. Sorry. This right-wing Joe Corn Pop-a-bin Biden, champion of the Vinyl New Deal, is the “opposition” candidate. Biden is going to the Democratic National Convention with a plurality of delegates and will of course have all or nearly all the openly authoritarian corporate-Democratic super-delegates if he needs them on the convention’s second ballot. Biden also has the corporate media, which is reporting history it helped make, “an Orwellian masterpiece.” (Biden got Maine and Massachusetts without even opening offices there — that’s the power of name recognition and corporate media. Process that.)
“Sanders,” Takashi Shimura writes from Iowa City, “the most popular candidate in the race, is fighting on two fronts, on the one hand his own party, and on the other the party’s corporate media. There are so many attacks on Sanders, more than even in 2016, that voters have to be diligent in finding real news and be belligerent against the noise of negativity. I’m seeing stuff in the corporate media that I have never seen before” [like likening a major party presidential candidate to a deadly virus? – P.S.]
“[MSDNC talking head] Nicole Wallace,” Ted Sirota writes from Chicago, “said ‘the establishment didn’t have anything to do with Biden’s comeback. It was African-American voters, and Jim Clyburn.’ And nobody said that ‘Jim Clyburn IS the Democratic establishment.’ Just nodded.” (Wallace is a former top George W. Bush campaign staffer, for what that’s worth).
Bracing for the Best
“Your call for revolution seems to be becoming the only way,” a friend wrote me from Ohio two nights ago, adding this: “We will lose with Joe just like we lost with Hillary just like we lost with John Kerry.” Well, yes: The institutions are captive to the ruling class. It’s not complicated. Nothing new here. Please read my book They Rule: The1% v. Democracy. It’s a decent historical analysis of how the ruling class rules. Which is a good thing to study if and when we ever decide to take it on in a serious way – in the streets, on the shop-floors, in the offices, on the runways, in the pipeline construction sites, around the Pentagon, at the corporate headquarters, in the face of repression. Voting for Bernie isn’t really taking it on all that much I’m afraid.
“I’m bracing for the worst,” a friend from Madison, Wisconsin (an old research and drinking haunt of mine) writes. Not me: the big bourgeois Biden counterattack could have revolutionary implications. It could help us finally knock left politics and activism off the vicious death circle of the endless major party candidate-centered election cycle. One by one the total un- and anti-democratic inadequacy of the reigning bourgeois institutions and processes are being exposed as social and political democracy fails as the insane Trump administration pushes the deadly authority and stupidity envelope ever closer to true disaster:
- The 2016 electoral process, rigged against Sanders and then even against horrible Hillary.
- “Adults in the room” in the Cabinet and executive branch agencies.
- The Justice Department’s and corporate media’s absurd and diversionary three-year Russia Gate investigation.
- The federal courts.
- The centrist House Dems’ impeachment, which avoided and diverted from Trump’s worst crimes and had no chance of leading to removal in the Senate.
- The deeply conservative U.S. Constitution itself.
- The 2020 presidential candidate selection process.
The “normal” constitutional and electoral paths of “resistance” are a complete fail. The system is a ruling class-imposed travesty, delivering us to tragedy on a mass scale.
Actual leftists need to take advantage of this. This is what we have been saying. The major party ballot box is the coffin of class consciousness. The Sanders thing and indeed social democratic politics in the U.S. are over: trade in your ballot for a yellow vest.
The bourgeoisie will not be unseated – as it needs to be for humanity to survive – through the existing constitutional and electoral channels. It just won’t. The U.S. party and elections system broadly understood (to include the media, among other things) is owned and managed by and for the capitalist elite — and that elite doesn’t want anything to do with even mild social democracy or environmental sanity, even if both are required for human survival.
We will not get rid of that elite at the ballot box. I wish we could, but we can’t, and we won’t. Sorry. There’s no electoral politics Santa Claus, not even an Easter Bunny/Bernie.
How much longer are we going to let them rule? As Istvan Meszaros wrote nineteen years ago, in an age of clear capitalogenic Ecocide, “it’s socialism or barbarism if we’re lucky.”
(Paul Street’s latest book is They Rule: The 1% v. Democracy (Paradigm, 2014). Courtesy, CounterPunch.org)
BERNIE SANDERS' MEDICARE FOR ALL POLICY WOULD LIKELY INCREASE WAGES AND CREATE JOBS, NEW ECONOMIC ANALYSIS SHOWS
A new analysis of the economic impact of a Medicare for All health care reform, like the signature policy proposal of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, suggests that such a plan would not only increase wages for workers but also create additional jobs.
ONE OF MENDO'S MORE HORRIBLE MURDER CASES
(Courthouse bake sale a great success, though)
Prosecution Case Closes In Ray Trial
by Astrid Eddington
Napa Register, January 22, 1966
While the life and death murder trial of Claude Ray Jr. of Napa is in process on the third floor of the Mendocino County Courthouse, a Ukiah women’s organization serves coffee, sandwiches and homemade cake just inside the front doors of the courthouse as a a fundraising project. (Register photo.)
Ukiah — The prosecution in the case of the people versus Claude Ray Jr. of Napa for the murder of his seven-year-old daughter Renay, concluded its case yesterday with testimony by five members of the Westwood school staff as to Ray’s actions on the afternoon of October 4 — the date Renay and her nine-year-old sister Jeanette disappeared from Napa. Public defender Bev Broaddus told the Napa Register yesterday that he thought he would complete the defense case by Tuesday. Defense testimony will begin Monday.
In prosecution testimony yesterday, Mrs. Virginia Hein, kindergarten teacher told of an encounter with Ray in the school corridor just outside the office about 3:40 PM that day.
She testified she saw a bright blue "noisy" car apparently with its muffler or tail pipe in need of repair, swing around fast in the parking area of the school and bump the curb as it stopped.
Ray "half ran" toward the school at a "little trot," she said. And suddenly he was standing beside her in the doorway of the office.
Ray asked her, "Are Jeanette and Renay here?"
She replied, "Jeanette and Renay who?"
Ray answered, "Jeanette and Renay Ray." Mrs. Hein said the names didn't mean anything to her and she turned toward some teachers, asked if they knew the sisters, and was told they were in the second and third grade.
"Those grades get out at 2:30," Mrs. Hein told Ray. "Why don't you drive home and see if the little girls are there, or drive the route they walk and see if you pass them on the way?"
She said Ray just walked away.
At the request of Assistant District Attorney David Luce, Mrs. Hein marked an aerial photo of the Westwood school area indicating where the girls classrooms were, the route normally traveled by the children when entering the playground areas, the location of her classroom, and the stations of the junior traffic control.
Public Defender Broaddus asked Mrs. Hein what Ray was wearing and she replied he had on a white sport shirt without a jacket or tie and dark work pants.
Mrs. Alma Moorecraft, school secretary, verified the school's actions regarding the Ray girls on October 4 and said she had called and notified Mrs. R.J. Holland with whom the Ray girls and their mother Mrs. Marian Ray lived during September that the girls were not at school.
Ray came into the office about 3:40 PM on October 4 after he had talked to Mrs. Hein, Mrs. Moorecraft testified, and said Ray was "extra excited," so she called the teacher in charge, Donald Lee.
Mrs. Moorecraft said Ray returned to the school about 4:50 PM that day and told her he was looking for his children. Ray said, "Lady, I am really crazy trying to find my children."
Mrs. Moorecraft asked if he had called police and Ray told her he had and the police were looking for them.
Then Ray asked her about the children's absences and she said, "Mr. Ray, all I can do is tell you that the children were absent today."
"How do you know?" he asked her, and then demanded to talk to their teachers.
Mrs. Moorecraft told him she had already contacted their teachers and she had the attendance records on her desk. Ray asked her if she was the only one who took care of the attendance records and Mrs. Moorecraft told him she was.
After he demanded to see the teachers again, Mrs. Moorecraft told him they already had gone home.
Broaddus asked Mrs. Moorecraft Ray was more excited the second time he came in to the school then the first time.
"No," Mrs. Moorecraft replied emphatically, "he was more excited the first time."
Lee confirmed his conversation with Ray about 3:40 PM on October 4. He said Ray was quite excited and talked rapidly.
Mrs. Isabel Maxwell who was a second grade teacher at the time the girls disappeared and Mrs. Evelyn Wheeler Jeanette’s third grade teacher, made brief appearances on the stand to testify that the girl did not attend classes October 4.
Renay's body was found on the beach at Schooner’s Gulch near Point Arena on October 10. No trace of Jeanette has ever been found.
Three other witnesses were called before the prosecution wound up its case.
C. Costa, personnel director of a Berkeley canning company, testified that Ray had a job waiting for him at Costa’s plant on October 4 when Ray made the trip of the North Coast area "looking for work."
A sheriff's investigator documented a trip taken in Ray's car over the route Ray took through the north coast area on October 4 and said the trip had been made in one hour less than it took Ray.
Sheriff Reno Bartolomie testified about the current, tides and winds along the rugged Mendocino Coast line and said a body could float about 10 miles a day with the currents.
Judge Wayne Burke noted yesterday that the reason the prosecution's case has moved so rapidly was that Broaddus only questioned about half the witnesses and when he did cross-examine, he rarely asked more than one question.
Background (from the appeal in 1967)
[Crim. No. 5672. First Dist., Div. One. July 27, 1967.]
The People, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Claude Ray, JR., Defendant and Appellant. Counsel
Barbara Ashley Phillips, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, and James M. Weinberg for Defendant and Appellant.
Thomas C. Lynch, Attorney General, Albert W. Harris, Jr., Assistant Attorney General, Robert R. Granucci and Jerome C. Utz, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.
Defendant has appealed from a judgment sentencing him to life imprisonment following jury verdicts which found him guilty of murder in the first degree in connection with the charged infanticide of his seven-year-old daughter, and thereafter fixed the penalty at life imprisonment.
Defendant asserts that the trial court erred in proceedings for the selection of the jury, [because] the court [failed] to prevent the jurors from observing him handcuffed, and in instructions given and refused. He also urges that the prosecutor was guilty of prejudicial misconduct in his argument to the jury. An examination of the record, upon which his contentions are necessarily based, in the light of established principles of law, reveals no prejudicial error, and the judgment must be affirmed.
Statement of Facts
The defendant's seven-year-old daughter Renay, and her nine-year-old sister Jeanette, disappeared on Monday, October 4, 1965. On Sunday, October 10, 1965, defendant was arrested, following the discovery of Renay's body.
The body was found at Schooner Gulch, which is located about three and one-half miles south of Point Arena on the Mendocino County coast. It was found accidentally by a family looking for seaweed. The body was at the bottom of a 90-foot cliff, among some rocks, where the tide washes in and out. It could not be positively stated that the body had always been in this position. However, since there was little evidence of destruction of tissue by marine life, the autopsy surgeon concluded the body had not been in the water for a prolonged period. The point where the body was found is difficult to reach, and is not noticeable from the highway. There are several areas near Schooner Gulch, including a turnout directly over where the body was found, where a body could have been dropped directly into the water, and where one could drive a vehicle and not be observed from the road.
The autopsy indicated that the victim had been dead between five to seven days. The cause of death was asphyxiation, probably by smothering. There were bruises on the body that had occurred before death. The autopsy surgeon felt that it was unlikely that the child had fallen from the cliffs to the spot where she was found since there was no evidence of broken bones. There was no evidence that the little girl had been sexually molested immediately prior to her death, but there was evidence of a manual entry of her vaginal tract either some considerable time prior to death or shortly thereafter.
The arrest of defendant and his conviction were based on circumstantial evidence. He was supposed to have taken the children to school in Napa on that Monday morning. The children were absent from school. Defendant before and after the discovery of the body consistently maintained that he had delivered the girls to school and that, to think things over and look for work, he had taken a ride from Napa out to the coast and north (past Schooner Gulch), inland to Cloverdale, and then returned.
Defendant and his wife, Marlene, were married in 1950. They had five children: Audrey, Thomas, Jeanette, Renay and John. The family had, for the most part, lived in Napa between 1950 and 1965. The marriage was troubled. Defendant was considered a failure. Although it was not brought out until the penalty trial, defendant in 1956 had committed himself to an institution after unconsciously trying to choke one of the children, he had attempted suicide twice, and he had had episodic periods of disorientation. In addition, defendant and his wife had many arguments about their eldest child, Audrey.
As a result of the arguments about Audrey, defendant had, as early as 1959, threatened to kill his wife and children. The family, however, remained together until 1965. In January of that year, Mrs. Ray instituted divorce proceedings and the couple separated. Some two weeks later, defendant told his wife that if she did not return to him he would blow Audrey's head off, and would put them all "six foot under." Audrey was placed in a foster home and defendant returned to his family. In June of 1965, defendant again threatened his family. In August 1965 Mrs. Ray took the children to Salt Lake City, but she returned in about a week and resumed living with defendant.
Sometime in August the Ray family was out driving when they passed Mrs. Ray's mother, her brother, and Audrey driving in the opposite direction. Both cars stopped and Mrs. Ray got out of the car. Defendant told Mrs. Ray to get back in, that she was not to see Audrey anymore. There was an argument, and defendant attempted to drive away and prevent the meeting. However, Mrs. Ray and the children ran from the car. At this point, defendant again threatened the lives of his family.
Mrs. Ray and the children did not return to the family's apartment, and eventually made their home with a Mr. and Mrs. Holland. During a visit to his family at the Holland's, defendant indicated to Mr. Holland that he would rather see his family dead than beggars or bums.
Defendant also indicated to Mrs. Ray's father that he had purchased a gun, and that he was going to do some killing. Mrs. Ray's sister, brother-in-law, and a neighbor heard defendant either threaten to kill his family or threaten to "kill them all."
Defendant left in September for a visit to Kentucky, his native state, but first stopped at Tuolumne, at Mrs. Ray's mother's house, and asked where his family was. After his mother-in-law refused to tell him, defendant declared: "Well, I will get the girls first and then the boys and then I will get you."
In late September, Mrs. Ray received a call from defendant. He told her he was returning from Kentucky, and asked her to contact a tannery in Berkeley where he had previously worked.
On Sunday, October 3, 1965, the day before the childrens' disappearance, defendant returned to Napa. During that day Mrs. Ray had been in the process of moving from the Holland's to an apartment. Mrs. Ray saw defendant during the day and arranged to meet him at the home of Velva Prince, where Mrs. Ray's father was then living.
Defendant and his wife had another argument at the Prince's, overheard by Mrs. Prince. During the argument, over who was to have the children, defendant told his wife he wanted to see her look at four walls, he wanted her to see how well her mind would stand up to looking at four walls "without any kids." Defendant declared he was going to have the children at least half the time, and, if he could not, he was going to see that his wife did not. Mrs. Ray then agreed that she would leave the children at Mrs. Prince's home for a few days so that defendant could have a chance to be with them.
At the new apartment, with defendant present, Mrs. Ray prepared the childrens' lunches, and clothing for the following day, and gave the defendant one dollar for milk. It was arranged that defendant would take the children to school the next morning, and that if she did not call or go out to the Prince's residence he could pick up the children after school. Defendant, in the company of his son Tom, then returned to the Prince's with the childrens' provisions for the next day. At about 9 p.m. defendant returned to his wife's apartment. Mrs. Ray testified that there was a long conversation in which she told defendant she was going to divorce him, and had no intention of reconciling. Defendant indicated he would get a job and take care of his family, except for Audrey. His wife stated that he declared that no man was going to raise his children or have her. Defendant testified that he and his wife did not argue that night, and he just wanted to stay together with his family. He did not want his family on welfare. He testified that he and his wife had sexual intercourse. Defendant and his wife agreed that he left the apartment at 4 a.m. Defendant again returned to the Prince's residence, and went to bed.
Defendant was extremely difficult to awake the next morning. He finally got up at 7:45 a.m., took Tom to school, and returned to pick up the girls. Mrs. Prince placed breakfast before the children. She was unsure whether or not Renay had taken any food, but thought that Renay did not eat very much, if at all. Defendant and the girls then left for school.
Two members of the safety patrol at the school thought they saw the Ray Chevrolet pass the school on Monday morning. fn. 1 They did not see the car stop or anyone get out of it. Another crossing guard, who did not see the car, thought she saw two little girls, of Renay and Jeanette's ages, walking away from the school toward a shopping center, on that Monday. She did not know the Ray children, and testified she would not know the two Ray girls again if she saw them. The two little girls did not appear in their classes that morning, and never were seen alive again.
Defendant testified that he set out on a long drive, after dropping the two children at school. The drive took him through Petaluma, to the coast, up to Point Arena, back through Boonville and Cloverdale and to Napa. He was driving around to think things over, and to look for a job.
A former coworker of the defendant thought he saw the defendant, and possibly another occupant, in the car around 11 a.m. in Bodega Bay. This witness' testimony at the trial conflicted with two earlier stories he told about the same event.
A little before noon fn. 2 defendant stopped in Gualala and purchased $1.00 worth of gas. The service station operator did not notice anyone else in defendant's car. The car had entered the station heading south. Defendant declared he had in fact been heading north, had passed the station, and then came back to get gas. Gualala is south of Schooner Gulch.
Defendant was next seen in Point Arena about 12:40 p.m. A deputy sheriff noticed a car which matched the description of defendant's Chevrolet pass the school where he was on duty. The officer observed the vheicle as it drove north up a hill through the town.
A truck driver saw defendant on the road between Boonville and Manchester, between 1:15 or 1:30 p.m. The two vehicles almost collided. The truck driver declared he had been going about 12 miles per hour and that defendant had been driving "too fast for the road conditions." Defendant inquired about jobs in the county, and about the nearest gas station. The truck driver told defendant that the road was all downhill to Boonville, and his quarter tank of gas should be sufficient to make it. Although the truck driver did not recognize defendant at the trial, their testimony as to the events and the conversation coincided.
Defendant was next seen at a Cloverdale gas station, where he borrowed a nickel to make a collect call to Napa. While in Cloverdale, defendant visited a brake factory where he had previously applied for a job. Defendant did not recall this visit, but a foreman of the factory did remember it.
Mr. Holland, at whose home the Ray family had lived in September, testified that on October 4th, at 2:25 p.m., he received a phone call from defendant who stated he was calling from Cloverdale. Defendant asked him to pick up his oldest son at school, and to tell Mrs. Ray to pick up the other children and take them home.
Mrs. Holland had been notified that the children were absent from school. At 1 p.m., Mrs. Ray was told by her sister of the childrens' absence. She notified Sergeant Randol of the Napa police that the children were missing.
Defendant testified that he finished his trip at 3:40 p.m. He then drove directly to the girls' school. He approached one of the teachers and asked: "Are Renay and Jeanette here?" The teacher asked for the childrens' last name, and then told him that the girls got out of school at 2:30 p.m. She suggested that defendant drive along the route the children normally took home. Defendant was "extremely excited," and seemed "quite nervous."
At about 4 p.m. defendant visited Mrs. Ray's sister's house, and asked where his wife was. His sister-in-law asked him where the girls were, and defendant insisted he had dropped them off at school. Defendant then drove to Mrs. Prince's house, where he and the children had spent the previous evening. He told Mrs. Prince that his sister-in-law had asked him what he had done with the girls. He indicated he could not find them, and wanted Mrs. Prince to help search for them.
Defendant then returned to school and talked with the school clerk. He appeared excited and said to the clerk: "Lady, I am nearly crazy. I can't find my children." This visit occurred at about 4:45 p.m.
Police Officer Randol had his first conversation with defendant and his wife around 4 p.m. on October 4th. At this conversation, as hereinafter appears, the police officer informed defendant of his Dorado rights.
Randol had his second conversation with defendant at 5:30 p.m. at the police department. The defendant told Randol that he had dropped the girls off at school at 8:45 a.m., and that he had taken the trip described above. At about 9 p.m., Randol saw defendant asleep in his automobile, on a country road, some three miles from Napa. He awakened defendant, and asked him, "Why aren't you out looking for your children?" Defendant indicated he was tired and trying to get some rest. At this point the officer left. At 12 midnight, that same evening, Randol returned to the same spot, awakened defendant, asked again about the girls, and told him that Mrs. Ray wanted to see him. Randol drove to Mrs. Ray's apartment and waited outside. At 2 or 3 a.m., Mrs. Ray left the apartment.
At about 8:30 a.m. the next morning, Tuesday, Randol saw defendant talking with the crossing guards at the school. Randol then instructed him to refrain from talking to the children, and let the police conduct the interviews. It was on this occasion that defendant made the tape recording narrating his trip along the Mendocino coast, a transcript of which, defendant now asserts, was improperly received in evidence.
On Tuesday night, Randol kept Mrs. Ray's apartment under surveillance. He tried knocking at the door of the apartment. When defendant did not answer, he contacted Mrs. Ray. Mrs. Ray visited the apartment and observed defendant. Then Randol sent a patrol officer into the apartment. The officer stayed for some 30 to 45 minutes, and left. Some 30 minutes later, Randol himself knocked on the apartment door and awakened defendant. Randol was invited into the apartment, and he had a conversation with defendant about people who might know something concerning the girls' disappearance.
On Wednesday, defendant and Randol drove over the route that defendant had taken on Monday, October 4th. On Friday, October 8th, Randol had another conversation with defendant. Defendant indicated he had received some money, and would now be able to do some searching on his own. On this occasion, Randol directed defendant not to leave the area. That evening defendant left Napa on a drive that took him to Reno, Virginia City, Carson City, and back to Napa on the following evening.
On the next occasion of their meeting, after Renay's body was found, Randol arrested defendant.
During the period between October 4th and 10th, defendant had several conversations with his wife and others, that revealed his state of mind. At a midnight conversation, on October 4th, Mrs. Ray told defendant she would do anything he wanted, if he would return the girls. Defendant indicated he did not have the children, and she should start preparing for the worst. During this conversation defendant told his wife about his trip along the coast, and in response to her questions, he declared he did not want to be bothered about stopping to get his back pay in Petaluma. In other conversations during that period defendant told his wife: "I want you to realize when they find them they will be dead." On October 9, 1965, defendant called his wife from Carson City, and indicated he did not want to be around when the girls were found.
On Saturday, October 9th, a friend of the Ray family, Hazel Crosson, had a conversation with the Rays while they were at the police station. Mrs. Crosson testified that the defendant said to her that he had been running from himself, that his conscience was bothering him. She also testified that later in the evening, at Mrs. Ray's apartment, when Mrs. Ray began crying, defendant told Mrs. Crosson to leave his wife alone, that she needed to be punished. She also testified that defendant said to his wife, "Mom, if or when they find those girls they will not be in this county and they will be dead."
Defendant testified on his own behalf. He denied he had threatened to kill his family. He maintained that his threats had always been directed against his mother-in-law and her son. He denied he had said the children would not be found in Napa County. He indicated that any statements he did make were an attempt to get the police to search a broader area. Defendant narrated his trip along the coast. He did not see anyone at Bodega Bay, nor did he remember applying for a job at Cloverdale.
WHEN I AM TOLD that a woman, called the Virgin Mary, said, or gave out, that she was with child without any cohabitation with a man, and that her betrothed husband, Joseph, said that an angel told him so, I have a right to believe them or not: such a circumstance requires a much stronger evidence than their bare word for it: but we have not even this; for neither Joseph nor Mary wrote any such matter themselves. It is only reported by others that they said so. It is hearsay upon hearsay, and I do not chose to rest my belief upon such evidence.
It is, however, not difficult to account for the credit that was given to the story of Jesus Christ being the Son of God. He was born when the heathen mythology had still some fashion and repute in the world, and that mythology had prepared the people for the belief of such a story. Almost all the extraordinary men that lived under the heathen mythology were reputed to be the sons of some of their gods. It was not a new thing at that time to believe a man to have been celestially begotten; the intercourse of gods with women was then a matter of familiar opinion. Their Jupiter, according to their accounts, had cohabited with hundreds; the story therefore had nothing in it either new, wonderful, or obscene; it was conformable to the opinions that then prevailed among the people called Gentiles, or mythologists, and it was those people only that believed it. The Jews, who had kept strictly to the belief of one God, and no more, and who had always rejected the heathen mythology, never credited the story.
It is curious to observe how the theory of what is called the Christian Church, sprung out of the tail of the heathen mythology. A direct incorporation took place in the first instance, by making the reputed founder to be celestially begotten. The trinity of gods that then followed was no other than a reduction of the former plurality, which was about twenty or thirty thousand. The statue of Mary succeeded the statue of Diana of Ephesus. The deification of heroes changed into the canonization of saints. The Mythologists had gods for everything; the Christian Mythologists had saints for everything. The church became as crowded with the one, as the pantheon had been with the other; and Rome was the place of both. The Christian theory is little else than the idolatry of the ancient mythologists, accommodated to the purposes of power and revenue; and it yet remains to reason and philosophy to abolish this amphibious fraud.
— Tom Paine, ‘The Age of Reason’