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Off The Record

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? In a word, incompetence. In two words, pure incompetence. Investigators did not initially consider Dr. 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 old-theavacom.dream.press)

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.

THAT WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENTS' DINNER the other night nicely sums up the true state of the nation. We had the president functioning as co-master of ceremonies with a comedian as unamusing as he was, along with a bi-partisan collection of mediocre professional officeholders of the Panetta-Gingrich type supplemented by female “celebrities” with large breasts and the lapdog White House journalists themselves, one of whom got an award for bravery for not asking a single inconvenient question all year. The whole show was beyond vulgar, worse in its squalidly decadent way than the same dinner in the Bush years when Bush joked about finding no WMDs in Iraq as thousands of Iraqis and hundreds of Americans were dying for his lie.

THE IRS descended on two Ukiah restaurants last Wednesday, both on North State Street. Walters' Cafe and Ruen Tong Thai Cuisine got hit by federal auditors. The IRS, natch, isn't talking and neither are the raided restaurants.

THE FEDS have also taken over an Emerald Triangle pot killing. In March, US Attorney Melinda Haag filed federal murder and conspiracy drug charges against Mikal Xylon Wilde of Kneeland, Humboldt County, for the 2010 shooting that left Mario Roberto Juarez-Madrid dead and Fernando Lopez badly wounded. A third man who fled the scene probably remains quite worried. Juarez-Madrid and Lopez are from Guatamala. They'd probably done much of the heavy lifting for Wilde's Kneeland pot op. Before his arrest, Wilde, 28 at the time of the shooting, had been one of our busier entrepreneurs, with Wilde Motors in Ukiah and a medical marijuana business in Citrus Heights called Compassionate Patients Center. Clearly not in compassion mode when he shot his laborers, Wilde is believed to have opened fire on the Guatemalans to avoid profit-sharing, murder being a time-tested shortcut to capital accumulation. HumCo DA Paul Gallegos had dropped cultivation and sales charges against Wilde to simplify the murder case against him. It is assumed that the feds, more and more interested in the Northcoast's pot business, have taken charge of the Wilde case so they can also reinstate the marijuana part of the matter.

ASSEMBLYCIPHER Wes Chesbro, desperate to exploit the widespread outrage at Mendocino County's burgeoning trespass marijuana grows, is furiously introducing bills that make it seem like he's doing something about the problem, about which nothing much can be done given the size of Mendocino County, the huge number of grows and our 200 total cops. One of Chesbro's bogus bills would crack down on outback dudes tooling down remote dirt roads with truck loads of fertilizers and black plastic irrigation pipe and would of course be impossible to enforce often enough to make any difference whatsoever. But Chesbro's bill to reimburse Mendocino County, which would have helped replenish depleted County coffers, failed to win approval. Mendo could have used the money, and you have wonder why a career officeholder of Chesbro's unending longevity couldn't get a few bucks out of his colleagues for a deserving constituent, but..... But the bill, worth a mere $40,000 failed, tabled indefinitely.

AS LABOR-MANAGEMENT negotiations stall at Fort Bragg's Coast District Hospital, labor has gone to wall posters to make their case. Copies of letters from union representatives as well as copies of letters from hospital CEO Ray Hino festoon the hallways of Mendocino County's only publicly-owned medical center. The wall letters give us a glimpse of the problems facing both sides of the increasingly intransigent dispute.

ONE LETTER from a union official decries Hino's shots at the union. He “accuses, both directly and indirectly, your union of being the cause of their instability and of refusing to work with the hospital to resolve these problems. Nothing can be further from the truth. … hospital administration has chosen to blame your union for the hospital's current financial condition, meanwhile ignoring their other debtors who should also be expected to share in any needed relief.”

HINO says management has taken a 5% cut while, in fact, his own pay has risen to upwards of $150,000 annually. Hospital employees respond that even if management has tapped itself for a painless 5% it's an “empty sacrifice” because management gave themselves a 5% raise a year ago.

THE UNION has a three-year contract signed only a year ago. They say that Hospital Administration wants to break the deal to achieve a variety of givebacks and reductions, including major reductions in employer pension contributions and health insurance coverage. The union says that what they're asking is that the hospital negotiate in accordance with labor law.

THE ODDEST CHARGE in the back and forth between the union and hospital administration, so odd at first we thought it was a joke, is an unsigned memo which appeared on the hospital's cafeteria door late last month. It claimed that the cafeteria “loses hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.”

IT'S HARD to imagine how the hospital's tiny cafeteria could lose that much money, but administration has closed it, and is in the process of incrementally privatizing employee food service by inviting local food vendors to offer packaged foods and stock the vending machines more frequently. If closing the hospital cafeteria could save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, there wouldn't be any need to renegotiate the union contract.

HINO arrived in Fort Bragg in November of 2006. From all accounts his leadership in his first three years as boss retrieved Coast Hospital from the brink of bankruptcy caused by a profligate previous management and, of course, the usual admin-hostage board of directors. Hino's own pay has steadily risen. He now wants the union to take a 5% pay cut across the board, matching the above-mentioned 5% reduction that management supposedly has taken. He also wants to repeal the wage increase that was to take effect in July, and he wants to take back the 6% employer contribution to the employee retirement plan. All this plus the elimination of health insurance for dependents.

AND HINO SAYS he “plans to have medical staff contractors (doctors, mostly) share in the 5% reduction as well.” But these reductions can only be negotiated as the doctors' contracts individually come up for renewal. Hino says since management has already done its part to keep Coast Hospital solvent with the 5% pay cut, a reduction in management staff, a “profitability improvement plan” to farm out home health care, and a “labor productivity program” which is yet to be defined. And he wants the hospital to do more to make sure their 25 beds are occupied, reducing the “leakage” to other hospitals in the area.

UNION OFFICIALS continue to insist that they are open to further negotiations and that they expect such negotiations to occur before the impasse goes to mediation or, worse, walkouts or lockouts. The union also believes that Hino's occasional reference to filing for bankruptcy under Chapter 9 of the bankruptcy code is a veiled (and unethical) threat to the force the union into renegotiating the union contract.

THE GERMAN SHEPHERD found abandoned and half-dead in Point Arena’s mostly vacated and wholly abated Sea Shell Inn, is doing quite well at the County’s Animal Shelter in Ukiah. The County’s animal lady, Bliss Fisher, has reassured alarmed callers that the dog is fine. When word got out that police had found the animal without water and food and paw-deep in his own feces, large concern for his welfare prompted many alarmed calls to Ms. Fisher. Michael Shamhart, 52, of Point Arena, was soon arrested for cruelty to animals and animal abuse. Odd thing about this case is that Shamhart was located in Point Arena not far from the Sea Shell. Why he hadn’t returned to care for or retrieve his dog remains unknown.

STACY LAWSON is the wealthy Marin County lady who moved from San Francisco to run for Congress in the newly created 2nd Congressional District. She has been endorsed by the Sonoma Farm Bureau and former Congressman Doug Bosco. Lawson was honored guest last weekend at a reception hosted for her by the Republican mayor of Willits, Bruce Burton. Other locals supporting Lawson include Art Harwood and Hal Wagenet.

WHILE THE WILLITS BOYS rally around their gal, some anonymous one is flooding 2nd District e-mail in-boxes with anti-Lawson messages documenting her failure to vote regularly, and even going so far as to speculate about the candidate's mental health, citing her “spiritual” meanderings in blogs for the Huffington Post as evidence that Lawson just might be nuts. The e-mail hitman cites this wacky passage from a rambling piece Lawson wrote for the Huffington Post called “We Are All Terrorists”: “We are all terrorists. Before you dismiss this out of hand, please take a closer look. The terrorist inside you wages acts of aggression on those you believe to oppress you. The dictator inside you declares martial law when it suits you. The suicide bomber martyrs you and wounds others in your attempts to be heard and to be right…”

THIS KIND of unmoored Big-Think is so common in the reconfigured 2nd District, which runs in a narrow strip up the Northcoast from Marin to the Oregon border, that it might actually enhance Lawson’s chances. The mere mention of spiritually of the Me Me Me! variety, and narcissists from Marin to Mendocino come running.

FROM THE ALWAYS SENSIBLE KC Meadows at the Ukiah Daily Journal: “I have been hearing a number of comments from people who can’t quite figure out what the heck Ukiah City Councilwoman Mari Rodin was talking about at the budget workshop last week at city hall. After reading our city reporter Justine Frederiksen’s story about Rodin’s ramblings I went on line and looked at the video for myself.

“ ‘THE CITY OF UKIAH is like … a grownup … our parents… have kept us stuck in too small shoes… we can’t run, we can’t grow and be the flourishing city we oughtta be,’ Rodin exclaimed. What’s the cause? Well, according to Rodin might it be ‘cultural reasons? Newspaper editor reasons? I don’t know.’

“SHE GOES ON to worry about the ‘perception we can’t take care of ourselves’ and that the city’s contraction (in the sense of getting smaller, downsizing) will be too damaging. She wants to ‘send a message to the community: please see us, let us grow up, let us run…’ She ends by telling her colleagues that the city has done so much with so little over the years that people take them for granted.

“MAYOR MARY ANN LANDIS immediately agrees with everything Rodin just said (perhaps she can explain it to the rest of us). City Manager Jane Chambers adds that the problem is the size of the staff (duh) and that the $1 million in redevelopment agency funds spent on salaries every year ‘benefited the entire area’ and she points to the Costco project and the courthouse project. Alas that redevelopment salary money is going bye-bye, so the city now has to figure out where to cut those people.

“BUT BACK to Ms. Rodin’s ramble. First of all, Mari, I don’t think you have a newspaper editor problem. This newspaper has generally supported the city over time. The problem for people like you is that you have such a thin skin that ANY criticism (or even accurate reporting) is seen as unfair and a betrayal. How can you sit around congratulating yourselves, bemoaning all the things you do for us that we just don’t appreciate when the city has been resting on laurels built around redevelopment for two decades? The city has been paying a lot of people very high salaries for a long time. It has been moving forward with things that I don’t believe the city’s residents — and certainly not its businesses — really want. How many dollars has the city spent on a variety of zoning and other plans to make Ukiah into Healdsburg or some other Sonoma County model?

“WE ARE CERTAIN that the city’s leadership doesn’t know what city residents really want and doesn’t believe the citizens themselves do either. So into that vacuum comes the personal opinions and visions of people like you, Mari.

“YES IN THE GOOD TIMES when tax dollars were flowing and housing was sky high and businesses were doing well, cities could ‘run.’ They had bucketsful of redevelopment tax money they were allowed to skim off the top and do whatever they wanted with. If you’re feeling underappreciated Mari, ask yourself what someone who works a minimum wage job, who has to find housing in a city where the rents start at about $700 per month, thinks about whether there will be an ice cream store downtown or whether a coffee shop is good or bad for their health or if they are tickled to see a patio at Patrona’s. Ask them if it makes sense to require a heavy equipment rental store to have a bicycle rack.

“THIS CITY IS VERY LUCKY to have some actual legacy resources: small neighborhood parks, a city pool, Todd Grove, a municipal golf course, softball fields, an aging but well-run electric system, great police and fire services. These are the things the people of Ukiah care about, is what I think. These are things that were built by previous generations that should be the city’s first priority for preserving and utilizing to the fullest. The city did well to get grants to help with fixing the pool, and trying to build a new park on Gobbi, got the community organized to rebuild Anton Stadium (and then screwed up by not paying enough attention to the process). After 20 years of redevelopment, it seems the primary thing the city has to show for it is a big expensive staff. Would the state have worked to find a good downtown location without redevelopment money? I think so. Would Costco come to town anyway? Probably, but maybe not within the city limits. Do people care? Most don’t. They see the broken down Palace Hotel year after year after year and a highly paid city staff which says it’s powerless to do anything about it, while it boasts of efforts to create a thriving downtown through forcing all new businesses to fit into its specially formulated “good looking, pedestrian, bicycle friendly city” molds.

“THE CITY’S ‘PARENTS’ did a lot of good things. They did not keep the city ‘stuck in too small shoes’ but built a city that was the right size for its time and place. The city hasn’t grown. The city complains that it provides services to the valley and gets no appreciation for it. What has the city done to help that along? Tax sharing? No. Annexation? No. Combining essential services? No. All these things are coming home to roost now despite the city’s years-long efforts to maintain a closed circle around itself.

“I DON’T KNOW where you want Ukiah running off to in better fitting shoes, Mari, because I think it’s time for the city to slow down, look around at what it has and be happy that most of its citizens are still willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.”

UKIAH'S FUZZY WARMS are now bombarding Meadows with letters of support for Rodin as if Meadows' was at fault for commenting on Rodin's whining which, of course, occurred in open session at a public meeting. The Me Me Me People always think everything is about them.

THE GOLDIE REPORT: Sighted again this week in both Mendocino and Fort Bragg, Ms. Locks was accompanied by a large pit bull — “When it stands up stretched full length it's bigger than she is” — as a Coast resident described our favorite gamin's guard dog. And if ever a hard drinking homeless maiden needed a pit bull it's this kid who, incidentally, says she'll do an interview with us but so far hasn't told us how we can reach her. Miss Audet does seem to know that she's become quite well known on the Mendocino Coast, that lots of people are both curious about her and concerned for her welfare.

AS OF THIS WEEK, California no longer qualifies for the federal program that provides up to 20 weeks of jobless benefits to the long-term unemployed in high-unemployment states. Mendocino County is a high-unemployment state and a high unemployment county. But starting in mid-May, no one in California can begin or continue receiving this final round of federal benefits, known as Fed-Ed in California and Extended Benefits elsewhere. About 90,000 Californians are receiving Fed-Ed. Their benefits will end abruptly even if they still have weeks remaining in their Fed-Ed claim.

PAUL RYAN chairman of the House committee that writes the actual budget we must live or die with, said this week that safety-net programs are “a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and complacency.” It's always been the Republican view that people will live in grinding poverty on the government dole rather than do a day's work, no matter that there aren't enough jobs for everybody since Republicans, with the usual bi-partisan support, crashed the economy.

THE FACT IS that other than unemployment benefits (and those are only available to people who have had a job) the overwhelming bulk of federal assistance goes to people who are working, and often two or three jobs. The minimum wage is so low that one full-time job won't pay family health insurance premiums. Companies like Walmart are heavily subsidized by the government providing Medicaid and food stamps to their workers. The Sam Walton heirs as a group have more billions than any one individual billionaire on the planet. Paying decent wages is for suckers, suckers like the hundreds of thousands if not millions of small businesses the Waltons destroyed.

WALMART SPOKESPERSON Delia Garcia announced Tuesday that “We have decided not to appeal the Ukiah Planning Commission's decision to deny the site plan application for expansion of our Ukiah Walmart store. We would like to thank the thousands of people who have supported the proposed expansion, advocating tirelessly throughout the past several years. We also greatly appreciate the City of Ukiah's planning staff and look forward to working with them again in the future.”

BACK ON April 11, the Ukiah Planning Commission voted 4 to 1 to deny a 47,621-square-foot expansion of the store. Ukiah’s present Walmart would have become a 151,615-square-foot mega-monster containing a 24-hour supermarket and a 5,036-square-foot garden center.

BACK ON, APRIL 10th, Ralph Nader announced his support for the presidential candidacy of Rocky Anderson, former Democrat, former mayor of Salt Lake City, and the only progressive alternative to Obama. The libs of course are trotting out the same arguments for Obama that they’ve trotted out for the last 50 years — “We’ve got to go with the corporate Democrat because the other guy is worse.” Romney, an empty suit whose only principle is himself, would certainly be more irritating than Obama, but worse? Obama’s policies, everywhere you look, have been worse than Bush’s, and who thought any president could be worse than that murderous imbecile? But Obama has managed to be worse. As president, Romney would only accelerate the deterioration that got a big oomph from Clinton, continued through the Bush years and has been intensified by the Obama Gang. Down With Lesser Evil-ism! Go with The Rock!

GOOD NEWS for Mendocino County. The new County Courthouse planned for Ukiah, preliminarily described as nine courtrooms for $119 million, is one of 13 court projects under review for major downsizing or elimination. It will be reviewed to see if nine courtrooms and all their ancillary support space are necessary of a county of 90,000 people. While they’re at it, the judges making the decision might also decide if 8 judges and a magistrate are necessary in a county with only 90,000 people in it. The temple of justice proposed for Mendocino County just might not make the cut. “If we can't build the courthouses economically, we should cancel them,” a judge on the to build or not to build committee has said.

EXCUSE ME, YER HONOR, of course you can’t build them economically. No one can build anything economically anymore, let alone a bunch of lawyers. Anyway, it seems that the state legislature beat the judges to the money. Wes Chesbro and Co. have lifted $750 million in court construction funds to balance this year's state budget!

DEPUTY DA Sergio Fuentes has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of a marijuana cultivation investigation. A search warrant was served on Monday the 23rd on the home in the Ukiah Valley the young attorney shares with his mother. Some 150 marijuana plants, in various states of growth were found, all of them rumored to be Mom’s. Fuentes is one of 13 attorneys laboring in the DA’s criminal division. A graduate of Ukiah High School, Fuentes was hired by DA Meredith Lintott.

AS ATTORNEYS from the Public Defender's office chant “Free Sergio” as they pass Fuentes in the Courthouse halls, the popular young prosecutor has been placed on paid administrative leave by DA David Eyster. The task force had visited the Fuentes home several years ago on a, uh, er, marijuana inquiry, 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 own mother?

DENISE FROM FORTUNA and Rush Limbaugh Talk Humboldt Culture, Hairy Armpits, Militant Feminists. (By Hank Sims. Courtesy Lost Coast Outpost: “One of Humboldt County’s finest gave Rush Limbaugh a call this morning. Hilarity ensued. Somewhat surprising to see such a chivalrous gentleman take the positions Rush takes below. Surely this will occasion a rethink of his political philosophy. Transcript follows:

RUSH: Fortuna, California. Hi, Denise. Tell me your last name is not Ilitch!

CALLER: (laughing) No, it’s not.

RUSH: (laughing)

CALLER: It’s not. (laughing) You want to know my last name? I don’t think you do.

RUSH: No, no, no, no, no. You don’t want to give it.

CALLER: It’s not Ilitch.

RUSH: I would love to know your last name but for your own privacy, safety, security…

CALLER: For my own protection, no. We’re in Humboldt County, which I know is a liberal bastion and all that. But we’re in a little enclave here that’s very, very conservative.

RUSH: Let me tell you something, Denise. I have been to Humboldt County.

CALLER: (laughing)

RUSH: I have made two speeches in Humboldt County — two Rush to Excellence appearances in Humboldt County — one at Humboldt State.

CALLER: Oh! Where they had hairy armpits?

RUSH: (chuckling) Well, yeah, in the airport there was a woman ....

CALLER: (laughing) Oh yes! You can always tell if they go to Humboldt State.

RUSH: — with her German shepherd guarding her that had hairy armpits. You’re exactly right.

CALLER: The girls have hairy armpits. The closer you get to us, the more southern you get, the more conservative they are — and in Fortuna, we don’t allow that.

RUSH: What do you mean the more southern you get? What do you mean southern in Humboldt County? What did I miss?

CALLER: Well, Fortuna is about 50 miles from the (garbled) and then the farther north you get —

RUSH: Oh! Oh! Oh! The more southern you get, oh. I thought you meant the more southern you get in attitude. I’m sorry. More southern part of the county.

CALLER: The more southern part of the county.

RUSH: Yeah, yeah.

CALLER: No telling about the real southern part of the county.

RUSH: No, I’m not kidding you. When I was in the airport at Humboldt County, when I was leaving there was an obviously militant feminist. She had this German Sheppard. You could spot this a mile away. I knew what was going on the moment I walked into the waiting room, hairy armpits and all. You’re exactly right.

CALLER: Yeah, see? Oh, yeah. It’s just wonderful. But in Fortuna, the sun shines.

RUSH: This woman was waiting to be attacked, and there was no chance.

CALLER: What?

RUSH: Never mind.

CALLER: Oh, okay.”

YEARS AGO, I received a cassette tape carefully wrapped in antiquated brown paper of the type you used to get in hardware stores. The neat little package was hand-addressed to the AVA and postmarked Fortuna. In an eerie, echoing, practiced voice of an experienced (and gifted) preacher, the recording was a rant about how the white race was being mongrelized and otherwise debilitated by inter-marriage, the whole of it, I thought at the time, delivered with the convinced passion of a true killer. I took it as a threat since the nut who’d made it had taken pains to get it specifically to my newspaper. It still creeps me out, as does Fortuna. And tidy bowl Ferndale, too. I always get a menacing vibe in both towns that doesn’t quit until I get over the west hills to groove-ville, Petrolia. Eureka and McKinleyville are muy cool, Arcata just manages to overcome the twin curses of Wes Chesbro and Dan Hauser. In Southern Humboldt, driving the outlaw’s alternate route to 101, you can get a feeling for the old days from Alderpoint on up into the Coast Range to Xenia and on down to Covelo. I’m not surprised that Limbaugh, “the dirigible of drivel,” in Alexander Cockburn’s apt description, has listeners in the Fortuna area. What’s always struck me odd about Limbaugh’s sway with the stupid and the mean of our doomed land, is how unfunny he is on his own terms. Reactionary humor can be a hoot, but Limbaugh isn’t even as amusing as the random fat fool you’d run into at Ukiah Rotary telling lesbian jokes from 1955. Hairy armpits? What kind of weird obsession is that, even for a misogynist?

AS IF THE TINFOIL HAT brigades didn’t have enough to worry about, it is now confirmed by PG&E’s very own lapdog Public Utilities Commission yet, that a PG&E executive, William Devereaux, was spying on the brigaders! The crafty Devereaux resigned in November 2010 after admitting he used the name “Ralph” to infiltrate a Sebastopol-based online group of consumers opposed to PG&E's digital meters. How cunning of Mr. D! A fake name to slither into an on-line activist chat group!

WHEN ITS PATHETIC infiltration ruse was revealed, PG&E disowned Devereaux. They said he was a “rogue employee” who’d acted on his own. In fact Devereaux was the senior director of PG&E's SmartMeter program from October 2009 through early November 2010, colluding all the while with other of the utility’s management wizards to sabotage opposition to smart meters.

THE PUC’s reluctant investigation into the matter has concluded that, “PG&E senior management knew of Mr. Devereaux's deceit before it was reported in the press and failed to prevent and stop his inappropriate behavior. By lying to and infiltrating anti-smart meter consumer groups, Mr. Devereaux, acting on behalf of PG&E, violated PG&E's obligation to provide just and reasonable service to its customers.”

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 certainly 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.”

One Comment

  1. Karyn Feiden May 3, 2012

    I was surprised at your comment that the inquiry into the death of Susan Keegan “appears stalled, if not case closed.” To the contrary, I have been told by the DA’s office that it remains very much “an active investigation.”

    Many of us who loved both Susan (my first cousin) and her husband, Dr. Peter Keegan (who I also considered a cousin), believe there are troubling questions about the circumstances of her death that only he can answer.

    I should think Dr. Keegan would be eager to answer them. Has he been invited into the DA’s office to talk? Has he done so? If not, why not?

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