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Stranger Mendo Things

Strange doings down in the County Seat recently.

Let me amend that lead.

Stranger doings than usual down in the County Seat recently.

While we could look at any number of issues, I’ll confine our review to just a couple that occurred at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Feb. 23.

• Emerging from a closed session meeting, County Counsel Christian Curtis reported, “The board met in closed session to consider possible legal remedies to return County property in possession of retired supervisor John McCowen. Per usual custom and practice, the county requested the return of the items at the time that Mr. McCowen left office. Despite repeated requests however, the property, including a laptop computer tablet, cell phone, printer, and building keys, was never returned and Mr. McCowen has ceased communicating with the County. Pursuant to existing authority and practices, County risk management has already initiated a small claims proceeding. The total damages to the county including the cost of rekeying the building is estimated to be between $3,000 and $4,000. At this time the Board of Supervisors unanimously indicated its support for the pending small claims matter, but decided that investing additional resources in a superior court proceeding would be premature.”

McCowen has uttered nary a word since the February hush-hush conclave revelation that he’s in possession of government goods. Reportedly, McCowen has indicated that he’ll be saying something soon about the subject.

McCowen’s a smart dude so I doubt he’s going to allow this to proceed to any sort of adjudication, although I think it would be entertaining to hear his explanation justifying his firm grip on County property.

• At the Boards’ first meeting of the year on January 5, despite an excellent presentation by Sheriff Matt Kendall buttressing his request for about $4 million over 3 years for 10 additional deputies to address organized crime and illegal marijuana grows in Mendocino County, with the bull’s eye on a Covelo under criminal siege. The Supes unanimously rejected the proposal opting instead to form an ad hoc committee to develop a “more comprehensive presentation for Board approval.” To date, the ad hoc committee has not delivered anything for Board consideration. Evidently, gangsters riding roughshod over Round Valley is not a high priority in the County Seat.

Kendall also applied for a separate $1 million grant from the state for the same purposes. The AVA’s Mark Scaramella picks up the story:

“An obscure grant application became a veiled source of controversy on Feb. 23 when Sheriff Matt Kendall took to ‘public expression’ at the beginning of the Supes meeting to complain that ‘one hand didn’t know what the other hand was doing.’

“Sheriff Kendall’s staff had spent months preparing a grant application for consideration by an obscure state agency that administers part of Prop 64, the 2019 proposition that legalized (allegedly/sort of) cannabis in California. Kendall’s grant application was for about $1 million which would have funded some sorely needed cannabis enforcement in the Covelo area (along with a lesser amount that would have focused on educating teens on the dangers of pot smoking).”

“Unbeknownst to Kendall, the Probation Department was preparing their own grant application to the same state agency for the same $1 million most of which would go to Camille ‘The Inevitable’ Schrader’s privately owned Redwood Community Services Ukiah conglomerate, with some funding to the Probation Department for a bogus ‘teen peer court’ that somehow would address cannabis use by teen-agers. (Teens, you see, frown on other teens smoking pot, thus, logically of course, leading to less pot smoking by teens. Get it?)”

“When the state’s Board of State Community Corrections saw that they had two separate applications from Mendocino County they called CEO Carmel Angelo and gave her an ultimatum.”

According to Angelo, the state agency was pressing her for a pick-one-or-the-other decision, and she had to make that decision by noon on February 23 when the BOS meeting was occurring.

She chose, as Scaramella correctly labels it, the “bogus teen peer court” proposal over the obviously higher priority law enforcement grant request by the Sheriff.

What she should have done was allow the Supes to make that decision by invoking the Brown Act’s “urgency” provision. Instead, she bypassed the Supes, thereby deep-sixing the Sheriff’s attempts to beef up law enforcement in beleaguered Covelo.

Surprisingly, not a single Supervisor objected to the CEO’s unilateral actions.

Kendall and I had a fairly long talk this past week, where we covered a number of different subjects, including this one. He’s as perplexed as many of us are over the apparent lack of support from County officials on his efforts to rid Covelo of the truly bad characters there who act as if they own the town and surrounding areas. They’re violent criminals and they’ve burned down about a third of that town. People shouldn’t have to be afraid of going outside their homes at night, not to mention during broad daylight.

I know that John Haschak is aware of the dire situation of his Round Valley constituents because we’ve talked about it. He knows Covelo has to be cleaned out and cleaned up, notwithstanding that other Supervisors don’t view Covelo with the same sense of urgency as most of us in the 3rd District do.

Now is not the time to be forming ad hoc committees to study crime rates in Covelo, and looking sideways while the CEO plays games with the Sheriff’s grant request.

Now is the time for all five Supervisors to fully support the only person in this County who has a plan to solve the Covelo problem.

Sheriff Kendall’s January 5th proposal to hire 10 additional deputies at a cost of around $4 million can be easily funded with the approximate $20 million-plus PG&E disaster settlement funds.

It’s time for the Supervisors to do their job, do the right thing and approve the Sheriff’s proposal so he can do his job.

(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher,, and is also the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live:

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