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Mendocino County Today: April 29, 2012

ALTHOUGH MENDOCINO COUNTY law enforcement, from the Sheriff’s Department to the DA’s Office, seems unanimous in their conviction that Dr. Peter Keegan murdered his wife of 30 years, Susan Keegan, the case against the Ukiah family practitioner and marijuana advocate appears to be stalled, if not case closed. Why? Incompetence, in a word. Investigators did not initially consider Keegan a suspect in his wife’s death. Because murder scene protocols were waived, the opportunity to recover crucial evidence in the immediate aftermath of Mrs. Keegan’s implausible death was lost.

THE DA has nevertheless placed the capable and dogged Kevin Bailey in charge of a renewed investigative effort into the unlikely death of Mrs. Keegan whose many friends still mourn her loss and lament the lack of progress into the circumstances of her death.

MRS. KEEGAN was found dead in a bathroom of her Whitmore Lane, Ukiah, home on the morning of November 11th, 2010. She suffered at least two fatal wounds to her head in what her husband claims was her drunken, late-night fall in her bathroom. An active woman with a full daily schedule, persons close to Mrs. Keegan are prepared to testify that there is no evidence she was dependent on either drugs or alcohol. (The full Keegan story can be found on our website at

AS ATTORNEYS from the Public Defender's office chant “Free Sergio” as they pass Sergio Fuentes in the Courthouse halls, the popular young prosecutor has been placed on paid administrative leave by DA David Eyster. A felony quantity of marijuana plants was found by the drug task force at the Fuentes home two weeks ago. The task force had visited the Fuentes several years ago on a marijuana raid, but it was clear then, and will probably be clear again, that the plants were an in-home enterprise of Fuentes’ mother. If Fuentes can establish he didn’t know the plants were on the family homestead, he may keep his job. And even if he did know Mom was in the pot business, how can a dutiful son turn in his mother? The bi-lingual Fuentes, who grew up in the Ukiah Valley and still resides at his family home, was originally designated for hire by Chief Deputy DA Jill Ravitch.

CONGRESSMAN MIKE THOMPSON has introduced a bill to protect 1,132 acres near Point Arena belonging to the Stornetta family. If HR 4969 becomes law, and these little gifts to political supporters often do, the Bureau of Land Management would oversee the land on behalf of the California Coastal National Monument while the Stornettas continue to farm it and pasture cows on it. The Stornettas would also be relieved of their tax obligation.

ACCORDING TO CONGRESSMAN Corktop’s triumphant press release, the Coastal Monument “is comprised of more than 20,000 small islands, rocks, exposed reefs and pinnacles along 1,100 miles of coast between Mexico and Oregon.” Much of the Stornetta property runs along the Mendocino Coast just north of Point Arena.

THE AMERICAN LUNG ASSOCIATION has given Mendocino and surrounding counties high grades for air quality. In a report released last Thursday, Mendocino County, Humboldt, Lake, and Sonoma all got “A” grades for safe levels of ozone and particulate. Fresno, by way of contrast, got Fs in both categories.

MORE INTERESTING were the statistics on the number of people in the targeted counties suffering from lung ailments. Converting the Lung Association’s raw numbers to percentages, we find that Mendo, Lake, Sonoma and Humboldt counties have comparable rates of asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. However, compared with Fresno, one of the worst air quality counties in the state, the Northcoast’s famously scrupulous eaters and breathers are unhealthier than Fresno’s shuffling asthmatics. But Mendocino County does have a somewhat higher percentage of people over the age of 65 than Fresno has, which seems to partially explain Mendo’s higher rate of lung problems.

BUT THE OTHER major factor determining poor health is, of course, poverty, and measured by the poverty standard Mendocino County is a little more prosperous than Fresno County; our 20% poverty rate is better than Fresno’s 27%, though neither are anything to brag about.

THE STATE’S Department of Public Health just released its County Health Status Profiles for 2012, which compare the death rates in California’s 58 counties. In that report Mendo comes in as mid-range in most death rate categories, but not as bad as Humboldt County, which comes out near the bottom (i.e., bad) in many death rate categories. The only categories that Mendo’s death categories appear downright alarming is in “deaths due to female breast cancer” and “death by suicide.”

THE FORT BRAGG City Council has passed a resolution agreeing to “discuss options to minimize foreclosures in our community.” Of which there are many. The resolution, agitated for by Occupy Mendocino, may be the first step towards effective federal legislation requiring banks to fork-over the billions they got in taxpayer-funded bailout to keeping people in their homes.

164 ACRES adjacent to the Sinkyone Wilderness Area has been turned over to the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council by the Save The Redwoods League. The battered parcel, for years in private hands, is located at Four Corners where the tunnel-like Usal Road, which runs north-south off Highway One at Rockport, meets the Briceland-Whitethorn Road.

IF COPS don’t fully document the scene

There’ll be some clues that go ungleaned.

Take the doctor at his word —

the facts will surely be quite blurred

You’d think by now they’d know that cases against the privileged class are never routine.

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