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Off The Record

MISS JACQUELINE AUDET, aka Goldilocks, writes: “Dear AVA, My name is Jacqueline Audet, not Goldilocks! Three times in a row now you have put my picture along with what seems like concern and slander against my acquaintances. I'm wondering why did you decide to target me, compared to many, many more serious cases and things that are happening in your own community? Yes, I enjoy drinking alcohol and sometimes I do drink too much. The purpose of this reply is that if you want to show your genuine concern, please talk to me instead of placing my personal business to the public without my consent. I am not a young, helpless lost kid. I do do other things than drink and I would appreciate your discontinuing putting me in  your paper. Thank you. — Jacqueline Audet, Mendocino County Jail, Ukiah”

WE DO WANT to talk with you, Miss Audet, but we don't know how to reach you. And we want to talk with you because you've become of interest to a large number of Coast residents worried about your well being, mostly because in the Fort Bragg company you keep you look like Fay Wray in the clutches of King Kong. I just talked to the Fort Bragg Police Department about you. You have them worried, too. When they arrested you two weeks ago for ripping off a bag of potato chips at Safeway, someone at Safeway had called to say there's a young girl in here who's so drunk she can hardly stand up. That was you. The caller thought you were a young teenager. A large, untreated gash to your leg was noted. The cops sorted all this out, taking you to ER to get your leg attended to, and they even dried your clothes for you and made sure your dogs were cared for. They all know you, and they all say you invariably mouth off to them when they have to deal with you, evidence that drinking doesn't make you happy. They think you probably camp out near the Boatyard Shopping Center where you're often seen either under the influence or you're panhandling so you can get under the influence. You're a lot younger than most street drunks. That fact alone alarms everyone who encounters you. We want to know where you're from, how you came to be in Fort Bragg, who your people are, what happened to you to make you want to stay loaded. Of course none of this is any of our business but you've become a default public figure and, as I said, an object of widespread curiosity. We have heard you may be related to Mr. Wittenkeller, Fort Bragg's all-time drunk in public champ, presently incarcerated and looking at serious assault charges. Is he your Pops? Uncle? We hope you can get a grip on yourself before you get hurt. What you're doing to yourself is not good. There are people who get paid to help you. All you have to do is ask. We all hope you ask. And soon.

THIS JUST IN, Tuesday, 10:55am. “We spotted Goldilocks this morning, and we thought you'd be happy to know that she is apparently gainfully employed by the City of Fort Bragg as part of the new beautification project. When we saw her and two of her coworkers she was pushing a heaping shopping cart with a rather impressive load of debris and cans and bottles. Good work Goldie!”

EARLY SUNDAY MORNING about 7, a pair of Oakland thugs busted through the front door of a Fort Bragg home at  32590 Boice Lane where they proceeded to attack Daniel Alonso, 29, with a crowbar and a knife. Alonso said he'd been asleep when the assault began. A neighbor heard the commotion and called 911. Alonso has arrests for cultivation and false imprisonment, and reportedly knew his assailants from prior, crowbar-free, transactions. Home invaders typically head south after doing their thing in Mendocino County, and on the assumption that Mr. Crowbar and Mr. Knife would be bombing down 128 toward 101 at Cloverdale, or east on 20 to 101 at Willits, deputies staked out both intersections. Sure enough, here came the getaway car, a red “Hey! Look at me!” SUV, which was stopped on 128 at Cloverdale at 9:30am where William Taylor, 24, and Jelani Kelly, 27, and Robert Miller, 41, all of Oakland, were taken into custody. The alleged bandidos  are being held in the County Jail on big bail. Police speculated that  “The victim believed the suspects were trying to remove his marijuana from the residence; the victim had approximately 51 small plants inside the residence.” Well, it's unlikely the suspects were in Fort Bragg for multi-cultural church services, and it's also unlikely they were after the starts. Home invaders don't take young plants home to grow them in their backyards. They look for packaged bud and/or cash. Alonso, a little guy at 5'4” and 140 pounds, is lucky to have survived. He had to be airlifted outtahere for treatment of the severe injuries he suffered in the attack.

A READER COMMENTS: “Stupid is as stupid does and as stupid gets hurt! Not condoning what the perps did, but if anyone is surprised that the victim knew his assailants, then you just don't understand the mj culture. If growers simply did most everything themselves, they would not open their life up to these situations, unless it is the DEA or ATF or something...which presents a different set of circumstances and reasons. Trimmers are informants - maybe not for government per se, but for thieves and criminally minded perps too.”

THE SEA SHELL INN, Point Arena, is closed expect for one tenant who insists she has no place to go. As police carried out  evictions of the motel's residual residents, they were shocked by the filthy condition of many of the rooms, and utterly disgusted by the discovery of a starved dog abandoned to die with no food or water in an excrement fouled room. On Friday, April 20, Michael Shamhart  of Point Arena was arrested for felony animal cruelty and an outstanding arrest warrant for use of a controlled substance. (The Sea Shell had become a nest of tweakers, local residents say.) The premises are assumed to be so heavily damaged that they may have to be destroyed.

THE LOCAL FOOD MOVEMENT will certainly profit from Tracie McMillan’s new book, “The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table” — an inside look at our country's food systems and their systemic problems, tracing our grub all the way from farm to table, with a look at alternative food distribution systems beginning to appear. McMillan, former managing editor of New York-based “City Limits” magazine, signed on as a farm worker in California’s garlic fields, worked in Applebee’s kitchens and as a produce stacker at a Walmart supermarket. Interviewed on C-SPAN this weekend, McMillan made the always useful point that most Americans are well aware of how bad their food is, but that they simply are in no practical position to change it, either for economic reasons (“You get more calories for less at fast food joints,” McMillan notes), or because they're unable to cook for themselves (“One thing we could do is bring back Home Ec classes,” McMillan suggests.) When a caller suggested that people vote with their pocketbook and read labels and find the best food, McMillan replied, “I’m very weary of this idea that we can somehow change corporate practices or improve ourselves by shopping better. Most working people don’t have the time to run around and look for the best deal, only to find out that most of the choices are pretty much the same anyway.”

WRITING in the Ukiah Daily Journal’s editorial section last Sunday, Ukiah attorney Dennis O’Brien described in detail an  incident in front of Raley’s Supermarket where he was confronted by a Mendo Sheriff’s detective who told O’Brien that he and the signature gatherer O'Brien was trying to sign a petition for had to leave the premises because of a complaint from a Raley’s manager. According to O’Brien, he explained that the Supreme Court had ruled that signature gathering in front of shopping centers was free speech as long as it didn’t interfere with business. “When this issue came up a few years ago at the Ukiah Walmart, the court upheld the right of people to engage in political speech in front of a store in a shopping center. ‘Accommodating free speech is one of the costs of doing business’ in a politically active community, the court announced.”

UNDER the California Constitution individuals may peacefully exercise their right to free speech in parts of private shopping centers regularly held open to the public. O’Brien said he believed that Raley’s, Ukiah, was using the cops to enforce the  store's uninformed bias against signature gatherers, and that  Sheriff Allman should remind his deputies of the law.

THERE'S LOCAL PRECEDENT. The late Norman Vroman as DA at the time declined to press charges when a Ukiah Walmart manager  made a citizen’s arrest of Richard Johnson, the One True Green, may his eternal doobie be forever lit, for circulating a marijuana-related petition. But for now, signature gatherers might do well to carry a copy of Supervisor Dan Hamburg’s April 2000 article on the “Walmart 9” case available on

THIRD DISTRICT SUPERVISOR John Pinches was reported to have suffered a significant heart attack last weekend and was said to be recovering in Howard Memorial Hospital in Willits as of last Tuesday afternoon. The Supervisor did not appear at the Supes meeting this Tuesday, April 24th.

A READER CLARIFIES: “According to a couple people I talked to just now — people who should know — it’s not true. John was, I’m told, finally convinced to have some issues checked out, he’d been having trouble breathing, and he has been in the hospital, where they did do a procedure putting a stent in his artery — no real surgery, no heart attack — and he is doing much better and apparently is expecting to be released today, maybe, and he is expecting to be attending Monday’s board meeting.” But Pinches was absent at yesterday’s (Tuesday) Board meeting.

POT DOC MILAN HOPKINS of Upper Lake is in trouble with the California Medical Board. Accused of “gross negligence” for writing medical marijuana prescriptions, it's the third time around for Hopkins, 67; in 1979 he was charged with feel good prescription practices that resulted in Hopkins being placed on probation for 10 years “for overprescribing controlled substances.” Hopkins, responding to his latest go-round with the forces of law and order, said in a prepared statement last week, “I am confident that the eventual outcome of this case will affirm that my procedures conform to the standard of medical care.” The Medical Board wants Hopkins' license revoked, or at least suspended. The basic complaint is that the doctor, in return for an average fee of $250, will give any old one who asks, a pot scrip. A person who asked for one recently turned out to be an undercover cop who allegedly told Hopkins she needed legal pot so she could “chill out on the weekends,” symptoms which could be considered “anxiety attacks.” Certainly among the grooviest of Northcoast medicos, Hopkins is also the lead singer with a band called the “Freak Clinic.”

WES CHESBRO'S proposed trespass grow bill does have one useful component, not that The Chez is the first person to focus on gardening supply convoys as a way of reducing trespass grows — Supervisor John Pinches brought it up years ago, but Chesbro’s the first state legislator to formally address the problem in a practical way. The bill would give CHP officers and sheriff’s deputies “increased authority” to stop vehicles  transporting “agricultural irrigation supplies” in state forests, national forests or on private timberland. The ag irrigation supply referred to is black plastic pipe, but young men observed  in remote areas hauling gro bags, pesticides, fertilizers, and enhanced soil can be intercepted and their garden supplies confiscated. Emerald Triangle can expect that they and their garden supply houses are likely to be monitored.

HOTTEST RUMOR from Ukiah today has the Savings Bank of Mendocino as the entity presently in escrow to buy the old Ukiah Post Office. Second hottest talk is about the abandoned hulk of the Palace Hotel whose Marin County owner, Eladia Laines, now says she may not be the owner, although Ms. Laines also says she’s begun rehab and debris removal work on the structure. The Ukiah City Council has given her a month to make serious headway at ameliorating what everyone sees as a huge civic liability in the center of town.

A YOUNG TEXAN grew up wanting to be a lawman. He grew up big, 6' 2'', and strong as a longhorn. He could shoot a bottle cap tossed in the air at 40 paces. When he finally became of age he applied to where he had only dreamed of working: the West Texas Sheriff’s Department. After a big mess of tests and interviews, the Chief Deputy finally called him into his office for the young man's last interview. The Chief Deputy said: “You're a big strong kid and you can really shoot. So far your qualifications all look good. But we have what we call an 'attitude suitability test' that you must take before you can be accepted. We just don't let anyone carry our badge, son.” Then, sliding a service pistol and a box of ammo across the desk, the Chief said: “Take this pistol and go out and shoot six illegal aliens, six lawyers, six meth dealers, six Muslim extremists, and a rabbit.” “Why the rabbit?” asked the young man. “Great attitude!” said the Chief Deputy. “When can you start?”

THE MENDOCINO COUNTY Board of Retirement announced today that it has replaced outgoing administrator Jim Andersen with an auslander named Richard White: “At its meeting on April 18, 2012, the Board for the Mendocino County Employees’ Retirement Association (MCERA) appointed Richard White as their new Retirement Administrator. Mr. White will succeed retiring administrator Jim Andersen. Mr. White has spent nearly 50 years in public service, most recently as a sheriff’s sergeant for the County of Orange where he provides administrative oversight of the County’s contract to provide law enforcement services for cities within the county. For the past nine years he has also served as the elected safety member of the Board of Retirement for the Orange County Employees’ Retirement System (OCERS)....” In other words, the required specific experience in a much larger context.  The job pays about$120k per year plus some sweeteners to get Mr. White up here and the usual full package of benefits.

HO HUM ELECTION shaping up. Except for the interest in the Congressional race generated by the stark choice between the genuine progressive Norman Solomon and a field of More-Of-The-Same-Democrats leavened only by a few Northcoast cranks, not much of interest on the ballot, although the alienato will of course vote for Tom Lynch over Wes Chesbro.

INCUMBENT SUPERVISOR John McCowen, Ukiah, is being challenged by Andrea Longoria, a Ukiah-based County worker probably put up by SEIU, these days more an extension of the flab wing of the Democrat Party more than a labor union. Fastened at the throats of County employees who pay thousands every month in union dues for representation they don’t get and would be better off providing themselves, SEIU is backing Longoria who is otherwise unknown.

McCOWEN was not supported by the AVA for election, but we think he’s turned out to be a very good Supervisor, unafraid to address, and address intelligently, controversial issues, including the across-the-board pay cut for County workers that set SEIU off. The vote to cut worker pay was unanimous at the Supes level, but SEIU singled out McCowen as the arch-villain. But it seems evident to everyone but SEIU, the choice was pay cuts or layoffs. Rather than settle immediately on the ten percent cut, both sides proceeded to string out a bitter back and forth until finally settling on the original ten percent.

MS. LONGORIA is a working mother of six children and a Native American. With six kids at home, Longoria certainly deserves high marks for domestic fortitude, but there’s no reason to vote for her over McCowen.

THE FIRST CAMPAIGN filings reveal that Longoria has raised $1362, all but fifty bucks of it from the Pinoleville Pomo Nation of Ukiah, yet another Northcoast tribe with casino dreams, although there’s an existing casino just up the road at Redwood Valley, then another in Willits, then another in Laytonville, and to the south, one at Hopland, one at Geyserville, one planned for Cloverdale, and a monster in the works for Rohnert Park. There is also a teensy gaming hall in Covelo and, on the Mendocino Coast, a casino at Point Arena.

McCOWEN has not yet filed a campaign finance statements because he doesn’t have to as an elected official. He has said he plans to run an open campaign and to again have a campaign account, but hasn’t yet revealed the details.

FORT BRAGG CITY Councilman Dan Gjerde is the only person running for the 4th District supervisor seat. Kendall Smith, who currently misrepresents that district in the grand misrepresentation tradition of Patti Campbell, announced last year that she wouldn't run for re-election after serving two consecutive terms distinguished only by her dogged pursuit of travel reimbursements she was not entitled to. Only when Smith was threatened with prosecution by DA Eyster did she return some of the money she’d stolen from the taxpayers.

GJERDE has so far collected $1,836 in contributions, $1,536 of which is listed as cash. The remaining $300 is an in-kind contribution for professional web services and campaign literature from his brother Tom Gjerde of Sacramento.

A COUPLE of weeks ago, I wrote this blast at the grasping and reliably hypocritical Noreen Evans: “State Senator Noreen Evans, who routinely complains about her low pay, which is $95,291, not including generous retirement, per diem, car allowance and other benefits that the 99% only dream of, has admitted to taking tens of thousands of dollars annually for doing legal work on the side for two Santa Rosa law firms. Evans says she has maintained a part time law practice since 1982, but since being elected to office she has only reported her outside income for the last two years. The Fair Political Practices Commission recently notified Evans that she needed to refile her 2010 and 2011 disclosure forms to accurately report that the income she received was from a law firm that she owns, and not one where she was merely an employee. Evans will also be required to report more detailed financial information than if she were merely an employee, including how much the business is worth and how much income she received from it, as well as each individual source of income worth more than $10,000. Evans had previously reported her law practice income as a range of from $20,000 to $200,000, the better to conceal the actual details.”

EVANS’ ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT called up to complain. I told her to put it in writing; I didn’t want to waste my time listening to a long whine about how I’d maligned the hard-hitting solon who, incidentally, I last wrote about when she took a corporate-paid junket to Maui, which she tried to pass off as having to do with the people’s business. Evans is again in the news as leading a state posse against a very funny television ad for the State Lottery that has a spiffy-looking babe slapping a doofus dude to wake him up to the long shot rewards of gambling. The ad, you see, encourages violence.

“MR. ANDERSON, Likewise, we'd prefer a call (or a written request) to get the facts before publishing a hit piece. (Evans’ complaint about being underpaid is implicit in her defense of outside legal work.)

“1. When has Sen. Evans objected to her salary or ‘low pay’? The only objections made have been the overstepping of constitutional authority by the Controller and rejection of state cars, which costs taxpayers more and decrease her offices' ability to meet with the 928,077 constituents in her 11,958.85 square mile district — the 4th largest in the state. [She objects every time she’s caught grasping an outside nickel for herself, as is the case here. Typically, she blames the State Controller.] 2. The article is off-base to say Sen. Evans ‘admitted to taking tens of thousands.’ She earned it, and she reported it. [Belatedly, and only because she was asked why she was doing it.] 3. In fact, she OVER reported her earnings. [If Noreen will send me the diff I promise to do good with it.] 4. FPPC forms require a box check for range in income: $0-$499, $500-$1k, $1,001-$10k, $10,001-$100k, and so on. Her additional income for 2011 was in the $10,001-$100k, not $20k-$200k. [Oops. How does the poor thing get by!?] 5. NOTHING was concealed. [Only all the prior years.] 6. As a lawmaker and chair of the Senate Judiciary, she believes it's important that she maintain the skills and knowledge needed to make and apply the law. It's her area of expertise. [I can tell.] 7. Many elected officials maintain their professions while serving the public. Done appropriately, it's beneficial for taxpayers to have elected officials with many applicable skills and knowledge basis — who wants a career politician representing them?” [Serving the public? I think we’re the ones getting served here, and Noreen clearly will be in office for years to come, a career actually.]

THE CLAP STATS! The Mendocino County Department of Public Health reports that January through March of 2012 Mendocino County residents were treated for 84 cases of Chlamydia and 5 cases of gonorrhea. Herpes, or Human Papilloma Virus (HPV, aka venereal warts), are also being treated but don’t have to be tallied. There were no reported cases of syphilis.

OH MY. The day before she’s scheduled to be in court to answer to pot charges, Angela Pinches gets popped again for tweeking and child neglect. According to the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department, “The unexplained, early morning appearance of a 2-year-old girl outside the home of a Mendocino County couple led to the arrest of Ms. Pinches for suspected child endangerment and being under the influence of drugs.” The 2-year-old was standing naked at 6:30 Thursday morning outside a neighboring Redwood Valley home. An hour later, Angela Pinches appeared and said she’d left the girl with her 9-year-old brother for a short time. “The oven door was open to help keep them warm.” But the child tottered out the door and down the street more than a hundred yards to the Vineyard Oaks Drive home where she was found. Ms. Pinches was booked into the Mendocino County Jail and her children confiscated by Children’s Protective Services.

WHEN BADGED POT RAIDERS descended on the Stornetta Ranch near Point Arena on March 7, they not only found commercial quantities of marijuana but a frozen cache of illegally taken wild salmon and ducks. The Mendo District Attorney's office is pondering charges against Kyle Edward Stornetta, 31, of Manchester, on both the dope and the wild game. The raiders found 18 wild steelhead — 17 of them spawning females — and 56 ducks, all stored in freezers. Fish and Game spokesman Harry Morse said the legal possession limit on waterfowl is 14. As for the fish, “the adipose fins of the fish — the fin just in front of the tail fins — had been removed in an attempt to make them look like hatchery-raised steelhead.”

THE GARCIA RIVER runs through the Stornetta property who property is noted as a stop on migratory bird routes. Fish and Game pointed out that more than $20 million has been spent rehabilitating the Garcia River fish habitat but poaching remains widespread in the Point Arena-Manchester area, so widespread it could undo the restoration of the Garcia. “Those 17 females could have produced about 70,000 eggs to help restock the river,” said Fish and Game biologist Doug Albin.

PLANS BY THE CLOVERDALE Rancheria of Pomo Indians to build a casino and resort on 65 acres of tribal land at the southern edge of Cloverdale have been approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The Cloverdale tribe, 540 persons strong, of whom fewer than 20 live on rez property, is proposing 2,000 slot machines, 45 card tables, a hotel, convention center, and entertainment center, the whole show larger than the casino complex next door in Geyserville. The Cloverdale City Council is unanimously opposed.

THAT HUGE POLICE presence Friday in Fort Bragg was a multi-agency crackdown on Fort Bragg’s persistent gang problem, brown and white. Mexican gangs have rooted themselves in the community as have gangs comprised of both Hispanics and estranged white youths. (cf Fort Bragg’s “dominant female.”) With planning and leadership provided by the Fort Bragg Police Department, officers from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department, the Willits and Ukiah police departments, CHP, the Probation and Welfare departments of Mendocino County, and even State Parks, the task force went productively to work, wrapping up some of the worst gang bangers plaguing the town, one of whom was caught with a gun a mere three days after he'd been released from the state pen.

THE COORDINATED raids consisted of probation and parole searches of 16 targeted locations, said the Fort Bragg PD's Lt. Naulty on Monday, “We did the compliance check because gang assault were starting to pick up. Two weeks ago we had a gang member assaulted pretty severely cut up in the head with a screw driver.” Lt. Naulty said the screwdriver attack coincided with the recent release from prison of three gang guys, one of whom had been specifically prohibited from returning to Fort Bragg. At the end of the night, a night that included the retrieval of one mope from a bedroom guarded by a pit bull, eight adults had been arrested, two more persons for DUI warrants, and two juveniles arrested for violations of the conditions of their probations.

UKIAH is running a budget deficit of some $1.8 million, mostly because the City must now pay the employees previously hired and paid out of redevelopment funds, which no longer exist. To temporarily make up the diff, the City Council has been dipping into its reserve fund. The City has pursued temporary cost cutting measures rather than the ultimately necessary permanent cuts, and health care and retirement costs just keep on accumulating, making Ukiah's overall fiscal situation precarious.

FRISCO NOTES: The venerable Chinatown restaurant, Sam Wo, has temporarily closed as the owners of the ramshackle but historically revered eatery figure out a way to rehab the building and re-open the place. The food has always been cheap and good, but lots of old timers remember it mostly for the wacky waiter, Edsel Ford Fong, who served up insults and slapstick comedy with the food, whose orders he was prone to changing whether you liked it or not. A dissenting note here: I always thought Fong was a disincentive for eating at Sam Wo's. As I remember him and Sam Wo, it was one of the only places to eat in the North Beach area of the city open after 2am, and you’d go in there half-drunk yourself and ready to eat and here comes The Fong Show, prolonging the wait for noodles an hour or so. I always suspected that red flush in his face meant he was also drunk, and I know I wasn’t the only one irritated by him. I liked the funk of the place though, entering from the street through the kitchen to three floors of an upstairs maize of tables. There wasn’t any other place like it in the city, with or without Fong, who passed away some time ago.

ON TUESDAY, before we knew the upshot, the Board of Supervisors will consider a pilot program to rebate a fraction of permit fees if the permit yields jobs. Acting Planning Chief Roger Mobley found that no other California county waives permit fees for enterprises likely to create jobs. Not that there have been many commercial permits processed lately in Mendocino County, and those that have cost between $6k and $23k, with the $23k permit not counting because it was for the MTA’s lavish new bus barn and even more lavish admin offices, which will not create new jobs but will torque upwards phantom manager Bruce Richard's comfort level, for years the true goal of the agency.

THE LARGEST LOCAL commercial permit fee was $22.6k for a supermarket remodel. It’s hard to imagine how a $5k-$10k permit fee rebate would be much of a job creation stimulus in Mendocino County. Nevertheless, Mobley recommends “a tiered job creation criteria” where a business could get between 20%-100% fee rebate for one to five or more permanent jobs being demonstrated to have been created for at least five years.” Mobley notes that the program would put a dent in the Planning and Building Department’s budget and therefore require a one-time allocation of $50k to backfill the budget hit. Then, theoretically, the general fund would recover from the additional business the new jobs would create.

PROPONENTS of the permit rebate program mean well, but we’re not convinced this is the best way to do it. The rebate amounts are not enough to be much of an incentive for a business to factor them into their five-year investment plans. We’d prefer that the County re-visit and improve their buy-local program to encourage more local spending by the County by requiring all non-local contracts be pre-approved by the Board.

THE SF BAY GUARDIAN is about to be sold to the SF Examiner for a little less than a mil. The Guardian is a free weekly, the Examiner is a freebie daily, and the blanding down of the Frisco media continues, closer yet to extinction. The Guardian's best work has been keeping track of PG&E's crime spree, now in its fifth decade and, of course, a crime spree sponsored by the PG&E-dominated Public Utilities Commission. The reason PG&E has so far got away with blowing up a block of San Bruno and otherwise neglecting its aging infrastructure, not to mention imposing so-called smart meters on its trapped customers, is that it isn't a public utility in any known sense. PG&E has been fought for years by the Guardian and dogged individual heroes like the late Joe Nielands, but has nevertheless created a for-profit fiefdom of overpaid executives who squeeze ratepayers on behalf of the power monopoly's major private shareholders. The Chron has been on PG&E's case lately, but the Guardian carried the ball for years. But with the Guardian absorbed by the berserkers wing of conservatism in the form of a Denver-based character named Phillip Anschutz, owner of a chain of terrible newspapers whose content quality is roughly similar to that of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, PG&E will now have one less foe nipping at its crooked heels.

COAST HOSPITAL'S latest financial difficulties has CEO Ray Hino talking about the possibility of Chapter 9 bankruptcy, and the Hospital's union local complaining that they’re being asked to take more than their share of pay and fringe cuts to make up Coast Hospital's growing deficit. The union people also resent being lumped into a larger group of “creditors.” “We’re employees, the people who keep the Hospital going,” said one irritated employee over the weekend, adding that employees are not like suppliers or banks making financial demands on the Hospital’s treasury — “we are the Hospital.” And Coast Hospital is the only publicly-owned medical center in Mendocino County.

CEO HINO is angling for mediation while he also talks up bankruptcy if the union doesn't give. Bankruptcy, which should be the very last option, might seem attractive to Hospital administration because it would give admin an out on the three-year union contract the hospital agreed to only last year. But the union is still looking for good faith negotiations and doesn’t think it has reached the point of mediation, let alone bankruptcy. Coast Hospital's ratio of debt to income has alarmed state oversight agencies, but all hospitals, public and private, are suffering from the same fiscal illness — they treat more and more people who can't afford to pay and/or are uninsured.

NEW ABALONE REGS require that each diver maintain separate possession of his abalone prior to tagging. The intent of the amendment is to prevent a group of poachers from pooling their contraband.

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