Off the Record (June 24, 2020)

AN MCN COMMENT deserves a reply, and by golly I'm at the ready: “According to Ted and Johnny’s excellent and clear questions and answers, it appears that there is no oversight authority for the sheriff’s office, other than elections. Can this be correct? Who then deals with complaints (use of force, overzealous plant-pulling, etc)? If there is no oversight, then the Board of Supes’ budgeting authority would be the only regulatory mechanism at our disposal. In this instance, the Sheriff’s stated refusal to deal with noncompliance with public health measures. There’s a big national debate going on about defunding the police. This actually refers to the idea of re-directing funds from police/sheriffs departments to social services, mental health, education, daycare, food support, elder support, the list goes on — leaving law enforcement to deal with the much narrower subset of actual crime. Thoughts?”

WHY, YES, and thank you for throwing the subject out there to any old body. In fact, as you suggest, the Supervisors control the Sheriff's budget, a major control one would think. Second, the Sheriff is elected and can be un-elected, although that hasn't happened recently. And there's the Grand Jury made up of your friends and neighbors. All the police chiefs, including the black police chief of Willits, encourage questions and are readily available to the public. Finally, there's, ahem, the ava, friend of the friendless. I'd say there's plenty of existing oversight for Mendo’s police departments without another oversight committee. But if you blue meanie nostalgics insist, how about combining the climate change committee with, say, the equivalently infallible KZYX board of directors, sprinkle lightly with the County School Board and the Fort Bragg Name-Changers and….. Voila!

SHERIFF KENDALL ON THE PROPOSED OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE “I did see this on social media and was quite shocked Supervisor Williams and Haschak thought there was a problem however it wasn’t a big enough problem to speak with me about. I learned about this through a Facebook post. One would think if there was a problem with the sheriff’s office someone would speak with the sheriff, both of these supervisors have my cell and home phone numbers. I had been on the telephone with supervisor Williams Wednesday night just prior to learning of this however he didn’t feel it a priority to discuss this with me. That leads me to believe he doesn’t believe there is a problem however wants to address some political issue over problems elsewhere. Currently the state of Arizona is having several kidnap for ransom cases. This is extremely concerning to me however it isn’t concerning me to the point I would pull detectives off of homicide cases or the Khadijah Britton investigation to send them out looking for kidnap victims that we don’t have. We aren’t experiencing those problems however someday we could. Until that happens I would be spending money and resources we can’t afford. However when politics get involved the money starts pouring out. Sadly it will be the citizens and our deputies that suffer when political pandering begins.” 

A GLANCE at the Agenda package for next Tuesday’s Supervisors meeting shows eight or ten letters in support of the Haschack/Williams Police Review Commission proposal and no letters in opposition. Three or four of the pro-commission letters, however, are form letters indicating that the “support” is robotic. Neither the Haschak/Williams Axis nor the letter writers offer anything remotely like an explanation for why such a commission is necessary in Mendocino County. 

WHEN HE WAS RUNNING for office, Supervisor Williams declared that he “supported data-driven decision making.” Yet here’s this off-the-wall proposal without a bit of data, much less any evidence of preparation or analysis or rationale. How much would this commission cost? What information would they review and who would provide it to them and at what cost? What are the legal implications? Is a lawyer required on the commission and at what cost? What would be the timing and deadlines of such “oversight”? What potential good could come from it — besides the purely symbolic existence of the committee? What have other similar counties done? What is the documented benefit in those counties? Mendo has the benefit of three home-grown, highly accessible top cops and, in Willits, a black police chief. Is there a problem with, cough, “systemic racism” in Mendocino County? If so, describe it. 

WE MIGHT BE OPEN to the idea of a police review or oversight commission in the abstract, especially in areas of the country where police departments are drawn almost exclusively from high school football teams, but the local proposers of the idea, including the supervisors who put it on the agenda in an obvious pandering-to-current-public-opinion manner, seem to have cart way before the horse; in fact we don’t even see the horse. 

IF WILLIAMS/HASCHAK are so enamored of the idea of (unnecessary and cumbersome and ineffectual) law enforcement oversight, why not apply the same blunderbuss to Mental Health? Oh wait — Supervisor Williams and the rest of the Board have been asking for useful reporting about Mental Health for literally years now and have yet to get a single response. Are mental health services — especially emergency mental health services where cops are called — being provided in a color-blind manner? We doubt it, but nobody has proposed an oversight board of them. And even if they did, it’s guaranteed to end up looking like the Measure B Committee or the Climate Change Committee — and we all know how well those operations are working.

FORMER SHERIFF TOM ALLMAN: "Re: Police Oversight/Review Commission. It is certainly time to discuss this, but it was extremely disappointing to know that neither Supervisor Williams or Chair Haschak gave Sheriff Kendall a chance (respect) to discuss it prior to posting it on social media. The two supervisors are right to be engaged in such a necessary topic, but it is obvious that their desire is to politicize it instead of being productive. Shame on them both. Let’s talk about it and let’s see what we can do to improve things. Let’s not politicize it and make the conversation even more difficult than it already is. "

WE TEND TO FOCUS on the negative when it comes to County government. So it’s only fair to offer some genuine praise when we have a positive encounter. On Monday, while checking the status of a Legal Notice with the County Clerk’s office, the woman who answered not only was the right person to talk to but she knew exactly how to answer our question in a personable, efficient way. We didn’t catch her name, but she was the very model of competence and professionalism. Thanks, whoever you are. (Mark Scaramella)

COVELO'S been a troubled community since the late 1960s when dope kicked in. For a long time now too many tough guys in one small population, tough guys defined here as people in and out of jail and apparently loving the experience since they keep going back. One day a stunned Bay Area man called up. “I just bought a place in Covelo, pretty much sight unseen, in an area called Chicken Ridge. Maybe I'm the chicken because here's what happened: Last weekend I drove up there with the wife and kids to camp for a couple of days. Everything was fine until the sun went down. We're in our sleeping bags looking at the stars when suddenly there's a lot of gunfire coming from the property behind us up the hill. I walk up there and here's this wild-looking hippie character who says if I don't leave he'll shoot me! I got my family and drove into town to call 911. A deputy showed up pretty fast considering we're out in the middle of nowhere. Nice guy. [The late Bob Davis] The deputy said he'd talk to my neighbor but, the deputy said, and I'll never forget this, ‘You should probably get yourself a gun.’ The caller concluded, “Where the hell am I?”

MUST SAY I'M kinda proud of my fellow Mendolanders for faithfully masking up and socially distancing, at least that's my impression walking around Boonville and Ukiah. But COVID-19 infections have surged in the last week in many other areas of the country, as record numbers of new cases and hospitalizations continue to sweep through Florida, Texas and Alabama. Several states, mostly in the South, have seen an increase in new cases since Memorial Day when a lot of unsheathed yobbos hit the beaches and gathered in big piles of pink flesh for their primitive mating and drinking rituals. Dr. Fauci warns that reopening prematurely is likely to swell the numbers of infected. Alabama, for instance, has reported a record number of new cases for the fourth day in a row. Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, North Carolina, Oklahoma and South Carolina all had record numbers of new cases in the past three days. In Louisiana, which had been one of the earlier virus hot spots, new cases were again on the rise with over 1,200 — the most there since May 21.

DEPT. OF UNINTENTIONAL IRONY: Headline on the front page of the June 12th Independent Coast Observer: “Police back off nationwide as peaceful protests push reforms; Gualala calm.” (Whew!)

JIM LUTHER OF MENDOCINO WRITES: Mickey Chapman gave me my key to the courthouse. Literally. It was in the early 1970s and I was a brand new attorney in private practice, often between cases. Mickey knew I needed to use the county law library a lot. The library was inside the courthouse which was locked on weekends. All criminal cases I had were on the defense side; Mickey was the DA’s investigator, on the other side. He didn’t have to help me. But he did. He said, I’ll get you a key to the courthouse so you can get into the law library on weekends. And he did. The key was to the big old heavy metal door on the School Street side. I think I still have it. He was a good kind man.

PREDICTION: Assuming Fort Bragg will put the name change to a vote, it will lose about 3-1. Yeah, I'm taking bets.

AFTER LAST WEEK’S SUPERVISOR'S MEETING, Supervisor Williams brandished a tweet from Governor Newsom saying about the proposed Fort Bragg re-name, “This is the right move.” Coming from the guy who slept with his best friend's wife to destroy both Best Friend and Best Friend's wife, Newsom isn't exactly the turn-to guy to recommend “the right thing to do.” But, and sorry for repeating myself, this is what the Democrats do — virtue signal in lieu of action on behalf of struggling people who, at this point, are well over half the American population.

IN LAST WEDNESDAY MORNING'S PRESS DEMOCRAT story on Coast Lib's summer offensive to change Fort Bragg's name (above), the only citizen quoted besides mayor Will Lee is Bob The Inevitable Bushansky, always a sure sign that idiocy is in the house. There's a pseudo-liberal core of middle-of-the-road extremists comprising the Mendo branch of the Democratic Party who, like the national Democratic Party, ensure nothing good can or ever will happen for the working people of Mendocino County. Natch, Bushansky is tight with Congressman Press Release and the twin Healdsburg ciphers, Wood and McGuire. Double natch that Bushansky would be all for a purely symbolic argument over a purely symbolic name change because it's what phony liberals do best — empty gestures. Of course this guy sits on the Coast's Park and Rec board and the KZYX board, on whose station he also hosts a talk show where he interviews other virtue-signalers called, Politics, a Love Story. (!)

THE NIGHT they pulled old Johan down in Sacramento, another mighty blow was struck for historical amnesia. Sutter's Fort, at least what remained of it near our state capital, used to be almost a mandatory field trip for NorCal students. But now that California's history is being re-written to exclude its early bad boys — there were no bad girls! — expunging Sutter means a fascinating period of the golden state's beginnings will go untaught. 

JOHN SUTTER was an enterprising Swiss who managed to get himself Mexican citizenship in the brief Mexican interregnum between Spanish and Mexican California, and also got himself title to much of Northern California into the bargain. Sutter's famous fort was built from lumber he hauled from the defunct Russian outpost at Bodega Bay. (Imagine that job!) But Sutter died broke, having lost everything when Gold Rushers overran his extensive holdings, but he was also a notorious deadbeat whose multitudes of enemies delighted in his misfortune. Sutter had promised to pay the Russians a hefty salvage fee for all that hand-milled wood he built his fort with but never gave them so much as a coyote pelt, although the Russians dunned him for years. Sutter also bought the military uniforms the Russians discarded when they abandoned their NorCal trading post. Sutter dressed his Indian soldiers in these uniforms as they served both as his praetorian guard and as an inland Indian pacification force. Sutter recruited the biggest Indians he could find — none under 6'4” — togged them out in the Russian uniforms and, witnesses would testify, Sutter's little army became a glorious sight galloping up and down the Sacramento Valley, but less glorious, I'm sure, to the recalcitrant tribes they pacified on behalf of Sutter's many business interests.

WAS SUTTER a bad man, so bad that he should be erased from state history? No, by the ad hoc standards of the time, he was a model of frontier entrepreneurialism, no worse than his neighbor Bidwell, Chico's founding father. The best book on Sutter, and one of only two books (the other being Dana’s Two Years Before the Mast) I've read on pre-Gold Rush California that gives the reader a real feel for what that period was like, is “Gold,” by Blaise Cendars. Highly recommended. 

CAUGHT A FEW MINUTES of an author I hadn't heard of called Robin DiAngelo. She was talking about her book, a best seller titled, “White Fragility — Why it's so hard for white people to talk about racism.” The professor didn't say anything I disagreed with, and I cheered when she said it's white liberals who are the worst offenders of… “I would urge white people to remove the phrase 'I'm not racist' from their vocabularies. Every explicitly racist act that we can identify and recognize was perpetrated by people who say 'I'm not racist.' That phrase is functionally meaningless, and when we say it we are not convincing black people of its truth. What we are conveying when we claim not to be racist as we live in a society in which racism is the foundation, we are saying that we have no critical understanding whatsoever of this issue. That we have no skills in navigating this conversation. That we are clueless and oblivious and that black people are not safe to talk to us. As long as we define racism as individual acts of intentional meanness we will not understand it and we will only protect it. That definition is the root of virtually all white defensiveness and denial. And if that's how I defined racism I would agree that it's offensive to say that white people are racist. That is not racism.”

I WONDERED when the fascisti would start shooting. A man is in critical condition in Albuquerque, New Mexico, after a Monday night protest demanding the removal of a statue of a conquistador erupted into gunfire and fist fights initiated by an armed vigilante group called the New Mexico Civil Guard. The fighting started when demonstrators started to ax the statue of Juan de Oñate—New Mexico’s 16th-century colonial governor. After the unidentified man was shot, police arrested several members of the militia who were carrying rifles. Witnesses said the gunman was a white man in a blue shirt, The New York Times reported. Chief Michael Geier said state and federal authorities were investigating reports that vigilante groups had instigated the violence. “If this is true... [we] will be holding them accountable to the fullest extent of the law, including federal hate group designation and prosecution.” The victim is in critical but stable condition, police said. Hours later, Mayor Tim Keller announced that the Oñate statue would be removed until “the appropriate civic institutions” could determine how to move forward.

FIDDLEHEADS is a small Café in Mendocino Village that sells “Burgers and Breakfast.” On May 31 a Yelp reviewer said that Fiddleheads was “absolutely not following covid 19 guidelines. People are jammed inside eating without social distancing or mask wearing. Opened the door to see and turned around and walked out.” Another on-line reviewer said Fiddleheads had a sign in front that said they don’t practice social distancing and invited potential customers to not come in if they desired to respect social distancing. Several other yelp reviewers complained in a similar if not more colorful manner. Apparently they even insulted and threw out an older lady who complained about their flouting the rules. On Tuesday, the Supes voted unanimously in closed session to pursue litigation “in the event other remedies are unsuccessful or insufficient” to get Chris Castleman (a Coast volunteer firefighter and distance runner) doing business as Fiddleheads to observe the public health orders. “It seems like his intent is to not comply with the public health order,” said Board Chair John Haschak. This might get interesting.

IN THEORY, I get the arguments of Fiddleheads Cafe owner Chris Castleman, the guy the County is woofing at (to the tune of 10 thou in fines) for not complying with County covid-fighting standards. Castleman told the Press Democrat, “I’m not going to tell my employees to do anything. That’s between them and the county. In general, the stance I have on all this is it’s about personal responsibility and personal choice. It’s not about me being a police officer.” 

YEAH, CHRIS, up to a point, but where personal choice not to mask up and socially distance endangers the rest of the herd your druthers are, like, waived — not applicable. Of course the County wouldn't dare crack down on Rite Aid or unmasked, undistanced demonstrators, but what's that old one about hobgoblins and consistency?

OVERALL, though, I sympathize with the guy, owner of a hole-in-the-wall, but highly popular, Mendocino Village cafe, an archetypal small business. This is a dark time for small businesses, especially of the food and beverage type who work on small margins in the best of times. The ten thousand dollar fine the County is threatening this guy with is hugely disproportionate to his offense, especially considering that our health officer is taking off 300 grand for “working” out of her San Diego home. 

WILL THE GUY on the Cream of Wheat box be next? (He was next, much to the chagrin of his family.) The Aunt Jemima brand of syrup and pancake mix will get a name and image change, according to Quaker Oats, whose pr firm felt it necessary to explain, as her family also chagrined the change,  “The character is based on a racial stereotype.” For many years a caricature of a Black woman called Aunt Jemima illustrated the box, although Quaker Oats, always lagging behind the zeitgeist, removed the kerchief and presented the old girl as a more contemporary woman. The company, in a cash mea culpa, also said it will pony up at least $5 million over the next five years “to create meaningful, ongoing support and engagement in the Black community.”

LEAH GOLD, now the former mayor of Healdsburg, succumbed to a torrent of undeserved abuse of the familiar Aza genre (As a former intersectional binary…): “Just being a person of color and hearing what our mayor, Leah Gold, had to say — or not say — about the situation was completely distressing to me, …To just use your white privilege to look (past) the situation is disgusting to me. …(You) showed no willingness to learn, be curious or to understand my lived-in experience as a queer, Latinx community leader and business owner here on the Healdsburg Plaza.” Another dwarf bully chipped in with, “I will also remind you all that the public perception of our community right now is not good, and it is bad for business.” Ms. Gold, a person of liberal opinion presiding over the most pleasantly placid town in Sonoma County, resigned rather than endure endless abuse of this one-way type, and who can blame her?

ALL THIS has got me thinking about my white skin privilege, which has always seemed radically undervalued by my fellow pale faces but, of course, in the ethnic hierarchy of our doomed land I know I get a free pass where darker citizens don't. Looking back at my formative years through a BLM lens, my overwhelmed parents — five kids, not enough money — didn't relay much in the way of political opinions on any subject. The only comment I can remember on race was my mother saying something like, “Nice people don't use the n-word.” To her, bad language of any kind was a class-indicator. Respectable people were never vulgar. My parents voted, though, and I think my father was registered Republican, my mother Democrat, only one small difference in the chasm of their relationship, she being a literal coal miner's daughter, he the son of a Hawaiian mini-mogul. I remember one argument between them over Nixon. “I just don't like his jowls,” my mother insisted. “Now Ruth,” my father argued, “jowls have nothing to do with it.” I think me and my sibs, though, got the correct idea early that the ethnic divisions we grew up in were cruel beyond toleration of them.

As a child, the neighborhood librarian, Miss Hall, went out of her way to direct me to books she thought I might like, among them those of John R. Tunis. They were sports novels aimed at young boys that always came with a moral line, that racism was bad, the young should respect those older, that kindness should be part of every adult’s psycho-makeup. Over the years I’ve run into many men of my vintage who were influenced by Tunis, and I’ll always be indebted to Miss Hall for pointing me in his direction. By my early-early twenties I began to put theory into practice, as did my youngest brother, prepping ourselves via what my father described as “crank pamphlets,” aka the gamut of left-lib opinion as found in The Nation, The New Republic (way before it went right), I.F. Stone's Newsletter. M.S. Arnoni's The Minority of One, The Realist (my fave). And books, lots of books. I think now that background is what makes so much of contemporary rhetoric so annoying — the trite repetition, the utter lack of humor (I know, it isn't funny), the tediousness of so much of it. If anybody had gotten up in the early sixties and introduced him or herself at a civil rights or Vietnam protest in the early sixties as a “binary victim of sexual oppression” or a “queer Latinx community leader” there would have been a stunned silence followed by laughter.

SUPERVISOR WILLIAMS WRITES: “We have a meeting next Tuesday to approve the proposed Mendocino County budget for 2020-21. I believe public safety is one of the most important functions of local government. At the June 9 meeting, I asked staff why the budget included $0 for Sheriff's overtime and $14k for jail overtime compared to $1.6M and $667k respectively spent in the previous year. As a fiscal conservative, I expect all anticipated expenses be included in the budget. At all stages, the county budget must be balanced, meaning financing uses must not exceed funding sources. Since the meeting, I've been studying the budget for places to cut. No matter where we cut, I expect public consternation. Therefore, I'd like to ask for your input. How would you like me to advocate for balancing the budget on Tuesday? Would you be willing to submit your thoughts to bos@mendocinocounty.org? This will allow the full board to consider in advance of the Tuesday meeting.

MARK SCARAMELLA NOTES: I doubt there would be much “public consternation” if the combined Supervisors and Executive office of $1 million cut their budgets back to 2008 levels (or less). I doubt there would be much “public consternation” if the top two tiers of County officials (department heads and their immediate subordinates) took cuts back to 2008 levels. PS. We were told that the new courthouse in the County Jail was going to reduce overtime by a large amount. 

LOTS OF DACA youngsters and not-so-youngsters in Mendocino County were relieved by last week’s Supreme Court decision directly affecting their lives. Informally known as “Dreamers”' they entered the United States illegally as children. At least 700,000 persons are affected, but that's probably an under-estimate. The Supreme Court upheld lower court rulings that found that Trump's 2017 move to unilaterally rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, created in 2012 by Obama, was unlawful. The ruling was 5-4 with Roberts joined by justices Ginsburg, Kagan, Breyer and Sotomayor. The ruling came two days after the administration tried to declare that gay and transgender people do not have federal civil rights protection from being fired. The DACA ruling doesn't mean the Dreamers are automatic citizens, but it does mean they can process on in like any other person who wants to board our sinking ship. Orange Man, natch, said he’ll resist.

SPEAKING of the plague, nobody will confirm, but there are five covid cases in the Anderson Valley, all five confined to one family who, presumably, are self-quarantining. 

THIS ON-LINE comment nicely sums up the responsible stance: “There are many, many restrictions we live with for the Common Good. It is not legal to drive drunk, it is not legal to go around discharging firearms in public places, it is not legal to start fires just to watch them burn, it is not legal to smoke in most public places any longer… All of these restrictions are based on the premise that we need to be concerned and responsible for the Common Good — NOT just for our own individual “freedom.” While one could create a lively and interesting debate about exactly where the line should be drawn between these two philosophical positions, the FACT is that our legal tradition has for a LONG time taken the position that our rights do NOT extend to the right to do something that will have a significant risk of physically injuring another, or of subjugating the rights of others. It is not legal to knowingly or recklessly expose someone to HIV for example. So Covid-19 logically should be treated the same way. Reckless disregard for the safety of others will also potentially open up this cafe owner to civil liability to anyone who contracts the disease from visiting his establishment. In that case the $10,000 fine will be the least of his worries. If he wants to change the regulations and rules in effect he should run for office and seek political solutions. In the meantime he must follow the existing regulations or face the legal consequences.”

SUPERVISOR TED WILLIAMS: Mental Health Treatment Act Citizens Oversight Committee meets next Wednesday. Ross Liberty, the tax was to provide services, in part to reduce the burden on law enforcement. Years after passage, Measure B is sitting on millions of dollars, no application of services to date. The committee is comprised of hard working volunteers who care deeply about improving mental health treatment, but the effort is beyond stuck. I'd like to nominate you to represent a growing public sentiment: When can we see services begin? Can we address ACEs in some way? Can we put services to a vote and get moving now?

Wednesday, June 24, 2020 at 1:00 P.M.

Teleconferencing to be hosted from 1120 S. Dora St. in Ukiah, California Zoom Video Conferencing - ​https://mendocinocounty.zoom.us/j/92834815478 ID: 928 3481 5478, Call-In:​ 1( 669) 900-9128 or 1 (253) 215-8782

https://www.mendocinocounty.org/home/showdocument?id=36226

MARK SCARAMELLA: Dear Supervisor Williams: Mr. Liberty is a personal friend of your CEO, Carmel Angelo. He will not do anything without taking a cue from the CEO who works for you/The Board. You would be well-advised to task your CEO with this request (along with your associates, of course), not Mr. Liberty, your supposed Measure B District 5 rep. PS. Why not ask about the crisis van proposal that Ukiah PD chief Justin Wyatt suggested and which was agreed to by all members of the Measure B committee?

DEPARTMENT OF UNINTENTIONAL IRONY. This morning on the KZYX News, there was a departure from the usual audio massages contained in an interesting and informative segment presented by Carol Brodsky, and so amusing I'm tempted to renew my membership.

MS. B interviewed a Bay Area woman who described how she and her husband were “deep in the process” of buying a house on Ukiah's Westside when they discovered a racial covenant buried in the transaction that forbade non-white people from joining the neighborhood. Excluding covenants have of course been rolled back everywhere, but not all that long ago, so it would be startling, especially to a Nice Person, to see one on their sales contract. 

ETHNIC COVENANTS were finally banned in Marin County, for instance, in the late 1960s where, prior to Marin's belated awareness that the prosperous county and its many flush individuals could get sued right out of their hot tubs, most of humanity could not buy a house. But Ukiah and Mendocino County, where officials have always had trouble decoding large-size print, nevermind the small print of item number 11 on a property sales contract, the illegal covenants remain a standard item but are simply crossed out on the rare occasions they're noticed.

THE WOMAN interviewed by Carol Brodsky said she was so shocked at the sight of an excluding covenant on her contract that she had second thoughts about moving to Ukiah. “What kind of place was this?” she wondered. And right there is where the giggles commenced. If there's a more righteous neighborhood in the county than the Westside of Ukiah, a population so thoroughly basted in the good and the true that even the thought that a racial covenant existed, or even once existed, would be enough to require mass resuscitation well… Fortunately, for both this lady’s real estate deal and peace of mind,  she said she had walked the streets of her proposed  Westside neighborhood, discovering therein a veritable sea of correct opinion via inclusionary signage and comment. Reassured that she and hubbykins were not in Klan country, that the Westside was NPR-certified, that their new neighborhood was as serenely vanilla as the 'burb they'd come from, “Bob, we've got a sale!”

APOCALYPSE TOMORROW? Saturday, as the whole world knows, President Trump rallied, or attempted to rally, his faithful to Tulsa, Oklahoma. (Home town of Mendo's very own Pebbles Trippet, beauty queen, Trotskyite, beatnik, hippie, marijuana pioneer.) Tulsa's mayor had declared a weekend curfew, but rescinded it after mass protests from the Trumpers, several thousand of whom are already camped out in front of the rally site. The media of course played it all with delighted anticipation that foresaw every lunatic in the Southwest heading for town to shoot it out.

MEANWHILE, Trump was either deliberately stirring up ultra-vi or he has at last gone around his final mental bend, with a string of tweets over the past week that indicate he's either 5150 or consciously pushing tensions to the max. He ran afoul of Twitter again on Thursday when he posted a doctored CNN clip showing a black toddler running away from a “racist white baby who is probably a Trump voter.” In the original the toddlers are running towards each other to hug. Trump altered the clip to read, “CNN BREAKING NEWS” followed by the headline: “Terrified toddler runs from racist baby,” then the clip. Trump has more than 82 million Twitter followers. 

IN AN INTERVIEW with his cretinous son Don Jr., Trump speculated about flying saucers and revealed a new campaign ad claiming that Biden has been “'endorsed by Osama bin Laden,” dead since 2011. Trump said he was sad that the “Chinese plague” had arrived in the US to slow the economic progress that had previously arrived with his election, but claimed his handling of the corona-crisis was ending it. He also said that if Democrats were elected in November there would be “bedlam.”

FIRING UP himself and his special ed base on Friday, Trump declared that “Any protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters or lowlifes who are going to Oklahoma please understand, you will not be treated like you have been in New York, Seattle, or Minneapolis. It will be a much different scene!” He also said that if he loses re-election “the whole country will be Minneapolis.“ (Ed note: Aren't lowlifes, except for Bill Clinton, pretty much apolitical?”

I'M HARDLY the only person in our crumbling land having a hard time keeping up with events, the headliner today being the Trump rally in Tulsa where a Trumper dressed in a Wall suit, as in Build The Wall, is standing next to a guy who, with a straight face says to the tv reporter, “I'm proud to have a stable genius as my president,” adding, “look what he's accomplished.” Maybe these two guys were a comedy team infiltrating the grand comedy that's a Trump rally, but nobody around them was laughing.

SPEAKING of laff riots, try this proposal from Mendocino County's Climate Change Committee, a subcommittee thereof: List of proposed actions: “Identify and resolve other regulatory barriers to local climate-positive action, for example, the County could allow two parking spaces to be turned into one EV charging station even if it results in the loss of one code required parking space. Explore the zoning code for other similar limitations.”

MENDO'S ELECTION PECULIARITIES present candidates for supervisor almost a full year before they take office, and in that long interim? Silence on Mendo-specific current issues from the candidates, Mo Mulheren and Mari Rodin of the 2nd District (mostly Ukiah) and Jon Kennedy and Glenn McGourty of the 1st District (mostly greater Ukiah, Redwood Valley and Potter Valley). Of course they all have issue-vague, facebook pages but we'd like to hear from them on what the supervisors are doing in real time and whether or not they agree with the supes on this or that issue. Police oversight board? The proposed budget? Opinions on how the county is handling the covid crisis? The proposed county courthouse? How to house the shelter-challenged?

JEEZ, this thrilling blunder from a math professor at Laney College to his Vietnamese student: “Your name in English sounds like Fuck. If I lived in Vietnam and my name in your language sounded like Eat a Dick, I would change it to avoid embarrassment both on my part and on the part of the people who had to say it. I understand you are offended, but you need to understand your name is an offensive sound in my language. I repeat my request.”

THE ENSUING SWOON at the pure incorrectness of this statement from everywhere in the Bay Area and, by now, the United States, could be heard all the way up to Boonville. The nutty prof has been put on leave. (Hell, in the current context he could be killed if he said something like this in the wrong place.)

I UNDERSTAND standards have slipped (plummeted) but an old man talking like this to a young female student? Natch, there soon followed this whining statement of the obvious from the school's tongue-tied administration: “On the surface this incident is obviously disturbing and comes after decades of discussing and working to combat structural racism, xenophobia, and violence in both the Black and Asian Pacific Islander community. While our mission has been bold and unrelenting, we also recognize that our college and its community is a reflection of broader society and we must actively fight ignorance with education. We do not tolerate racism, discrimination or oppression of any kind.”

MANY YEARS AGO, in a place where time had stood still, I was teaching a class of Malay students out of a strict and very tough Brit-drafted colonial curriculum when the lesson got around to the founding of Pakistan and mention of the then-prime minister of that country, Bhutto, which means “penis” in Malay. General hilarity was rare in the grim cramming that was the run-up to rigorous examinations, and didn't permit much in the way of funnsies, because passing those exams determined who went on for more school and probably a cush government job and who went to work on the sago plantations. But Prime Minister Penis brought down the house. (BTW, the only discipline “problem” in that outback school on the South China Sea? As exams approached students would try to stay up to study after lights out!)

IF I WERE Ms. Phuc's instructor I'd work around the pronunciation dilemma presented by her surname by pronouncing it 'Fook.' Or maybe 'Huck,' slurring the pronunciation into a mild throat-clearing, glottal stop-like aspiration ’Hook' might do the trick while at the same time passing yourself off as a native speaker.

SO THE GIZMO kids sabbed Trump's big night in Tulsa. Apparently fans of Korean pop music registered hundreds of thousands of tickets for Trump’s rally as a prank. When TeamTrump tweeted asking supporters to register for free tickets using their phones, gizmo thumbs flew, encouraging their global comrades to register for the rally but, of course, not show up. It worked. Lots of empty seats.

VANDALS have pulled down the Golden Gate Park statues of Ulysses Grant and Miguel Cervantes. A howling pack of morons also knocked Junipero Serra off his long-time plinth at SF's Legion of Honor. Cervantes is generally considered the greatest writer in the Spanish language, and Grant? Ordinarily considered a great American hero by even the idiot standards of these times, apparently Grant's sin being his marriage to a daughter of a slaveholder, but without Grant it would have taken a lot longer for the Union armies to subdue the traitors of the Confederacy. The war was stalled until Lincoln appointed Grant to get the Union troops moving, which he did. It's also an historical consensus that if Grant had succeeded Lincoln as president rather than the retro-cracker Johnson, Grant would have crushed the neo-Confederacy terrorizing freed black people in the wake of the Civil War and, as Grant had promised, if he had been in position to follow through with his famous plan of forty acres and a mule to former slaves, The Reconstruction might have been a true reconstruction, not the fine tuning of servitude it quickly became. Junipero Serra, in the PC catechism, is a huge villain as the father of the California mission system, and now one more victim of the great re-write of American history, as if expunging certain figures will erase their perceived crimes. Yeah, yeah, pulling down statues isn't erasing them, and statues honoring them, the censors promise us, doesn't remove them from the history books, but the history books are next, you can bet on that. And then certain novels, and then… Of course if you think history should be determined by mobs of illiterates you've got lots of company.

SPEAKING of illiterate mobs, right here in Mendocino County, the Nice People, Ukiah branch, are surreptitiously circulating a petition demanding that the Ukiah Daily Journal remove columnist Tommy Wayne Kramer from its pages. This isn't the first time the book burners have pursued TWK, although the poor old Ukiah paper, owned by a Denver-based hedge fund, is already on the ropes without being beset by purple fascists, and TWK's invigorating Sunday columns are a lot more popular than the Nice People can imagine, not that they ever step outside their echo chamber or are endowed with much in the way of imagination. Well, all I can say is wait until the free speech soldiers at the MEC, at KZYX, at Dan Hamburg's house in Oregon, at the grave of the One True Green, Richard Johnson, just you wait until our free speech warriors get wind of this latest round of Mendo censorship. They will go to the wall, the wall, I tell you, to defend Tommy Wayne's right to publicly say what's on his mind! 

ON LINE COMMENTS OF THE WEEK

[1] If you don’t like the Democratic Party, what is your alternative? The Republican Party (and its backers) are promoters of all of these:

• gutting Social Security

• gutting Medicare and Medicaid

• gutting the Affordable Care Act

• gutting the Voting Rights Act

• voter suppression on an industrial scale

• gerrymandering on an industrial scale

• allowing PACs to run amok

• stacking the Supreme Court with stooges

• stacking the various Federal Courts with ideologues

• kowtowing to the Federalist Society on judicial appointments

• sacking Inspectors General if they speak out

• attacking Roe v Wade (how many Republican women really support this?)

• attacking family planning on an industrial scale

• attacking LGBTQ rights in all sorts of ways

• attacking worker rights and conditions of employment

• winding back industrial relations reforms

• winding back environment protection reforms

• giving huge tax breaks to billionaires to major corporations

• giving huge handouts to corporations rather than small business

Why would any working class or middle class person support any of this stuff? Trump hasn’t “drained the swamp” – he’s done the reverse … he’s filled every position with someone on the inside, who is totally conflicted. Foxes are running the chicken coop on every level.

Any MAGA hat-wearing working-class white out there would be nuts to support any of this stuff.

[2] I've Got the Name!

I think I have the ultimate solution for our [Fort Bragg’s] proposed name change. Going north toward Cleone, there's a street called Nameless Street....I've always loved it and admired the person who proposed it! In order to make everybody happy, we could just change our name from Fort Bragg to Nameless or Nameless

Bay or some such. Nameless California USA. Has a nice ring to it, right. And should offend nobody! Like say, uh, oh, I don't know, maybe BO California or Armpit! Or if we really wanted to capture a mood, we could simply rename it, Ashamed.

[3] Regarding the police, perhaps there is another way of looking at what’s happening. With so many out of work and so much of the economy limping along or outright demolished, tax revenues will be sure to drop dramatically. Will there be sufficient funds to even employ the police at the current level? In a parallel way, look what’s happened in the healthcare business. Although seemingly counter-intuitive, many healthcare workers are being laid off! There is insufficient revenue to pay them. I often wonder if this “let’s defund the police gambit” is just a great cover story for the truth, which is that the money just won’t be there. And that will apply to many other areas of the economy, both private and public.

[4] I think everyone who has ever seriously worked has experienced a hostile work environment; either from the customers or the staff or the boss…or all three! Unfriendliness is a common feature working with the general public and that is why work (and the commutes even more so) are STRESSFUL. If everything was great and our jobs were not threatened by a few complaints from this or that person then what is to worry about because we know we are doing good work? Our lives are no longer about REAL work but some sort of delusional future utopia of a life based on personalities (to be liked) and cartoons (wishing upon a star) and incessant flight responses (happy motoring) to the STRESS of everyday life in the USA by getting in your personal vehicle and leaving the scene. Everyone’s stress is building up because they cannot leave behind the converging disasters of our very unfriendly way of life. They cannot un-see what has been seen. The brutality of life. The dehumanizing aspects of life. It is wherever you go…even at home where people cannot agree on anything anymore. Divorce is commonplace. Broken families are common to all races. So, where are you going to work and live without hostility? Tell me, I want to work there.

One Response to "Off the Record (June 24, 2020)"

  1. John Sakowicz   June 24, 2020 at 7:46 pm

    “Well, all I can say is wait until the free speech soldiers at the MEC, at KZYX, at Dan Hamburg’s house in Oregon, at the grave of the One True Green, Richard Johnson, just you wait until our free speech warriors get wind of this latest round of Mendo censorship. They will go to the wall, the wall, I tell you, to defend Tommy Wayne’s right to publicly say what’s on his mind!”

    …Not!

    I have never met a more oppressive group of PC Thought Police than those at the MEC and KZYX. Alicia Bales and Naomi Wagner lead the pack, of course, followed by Annie Esposito, Susan Sher, Jeff Blankfort, et al.

    Richard Johnson? Years ago, I went to say good bye as he lying dying in a Ukiah nursing home. We weren’t friends exactly. But I knew him from Talmage. And I respected him. And to prove it to Richard, I gave him a joint that he smoked in the courtyard of the nursing home in a wheelchair.

    Richard was an angry old drunk, but he was a righteous angry old drunk. And he was a lot smarter and a lot more independent that the aforementioned at the MEC and KZYX. For them, it’s all about tribal politics. Tribal this. Tribal that. Tribal everything, really.

    It’s what’s wrong with American politics today.

    Reply

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