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Mendocino County Today: May 19, 2012

LAST WEDNESDAY NIGHT County an unknown number of County employees received the following email from Jasmin Ward, of the Service Employees International Union. “ELECTION UPDATE — Dear Union Members, This update is to alert all voting members that the June 5th Primary Election is rapidly approaching. Mail-in ballots have gone out and it is crucial we talk to and identify as many voters as possible to ensure change on the Board of Supervisors. We will be precinct walking Monday-Thursday from 5:30p-7:30p as well as Saturdays beginning at 9:30 AM for SEIU endorsed candidate Andrea Longoria’s 2nd District Supervisor campaign. We also encourage members to come to the union office to phone bank any time every day until June 5th. Please feel free to contact the union office with any questions. Thank you, Jasmin”

MS. LONGORIA is a member of SEIU who is running against incumbent John McCowen of Ukiah for Second District Supervisor.

THE NEXT DAY (Thursday) County Counsel Jeanine Nadel sent out an all-employees memo: “Good Afternoon, Yesterday an email was sent to many of you from a representative of SEIU regarding upcoming election activities.  This is a reminder that any use of county buildings, equipment or resources for election purposes is in violation of state and county laws and ordinances. We therefore request that you disregard the email. Thank you for your cooperation in this regard. — County Counsel JEANINE B. NADEL, County Counsel, Mendocino County Counsel Office, Administration Center. 501 Low Gap Rd., Rm. 1030, Ukiah, CA 95482. Direct line: (707) 463-4449, Main Office Line: (707) 463-4446, Fax: (707) 463-4592. Email: nadelj@co.mendocino.ca.us

GOVERNOR BROWN has appointed Jeanine B. Nadel, 57, and David Riemenschneider, 63, to the Mendocino County Superior Court. The pair replaces Ron Brown and long-time Ten Mile Court judge, Jonathan Lehan. The job pays $178,789 a year, plus an array of fringes. These two seats, in theory, will be up for election in 2014 although our eight Superior Court sinecures are rarely contested. Lehan, himself appointed, was opposed several years ago but easily won countywide re-election. Thanks to Judge Brown, who was presiding judge at the time, Lehan survived a scandal that should have gotten him removed from the bench when a female court clerk formally complained that he wouldn’t stop exposing himself to her. The clerk’s reward for complaining was retaliation from the superior court; she was transferred to a job in Willits, a long commute from her home in Fort Bragg.

NADEL has been functioning as Mendocino County Counsel. Riemenschneider is a private, Ukiah-based attorney. Mendocino County has eight superior court judges and a magistrate “serving” roughly 90,000 County residents, half of them children.

THE JUST RELEASED Grand Jury report reveals that in 2010, the last year statistics were available, the Drug Task Force had seized cash, vehicles, and property valued at $1,184,718.

AND THE GJ SAYS, “At the time of this report, 23.4% of inmates booked into the jail have a history of mental health issues. Psychiatric care for all of the inmates was reduced from 20 hours to 8 hours each week.”

COASTIES ARE PLEASED to see work crews at the Heritage House just south of Mendocino preparing the famous inn for a grand re-opening this summer. A morass of bankruptcies and fraud proceedings had caused the inn to close, and the grounds and buildings soon deteriorated to where only someone or a group of someone’s with large amounts of investment capital could afford to revive the business. The new owners still haven’t been revealed.

DAN GJERDE, assumed to be unopposed for 4th District supervisor, will face some opposition after all. Rex Gressett has announced he will be a write-in candidate for the seat vacated by incumbent Kendall Smith who will not run for re-election after two terms representing the Fort Bragg area. Smith was blasted by successive grand juries for chiseling on her County-paid travel reimbursements and, finally, threatened with prosecution by DA David Eyster if she didn’t pay the money back. She paid, but not before a prolonged and entirely unconvincing campaign saying that she was entitled to the money alienated most voters. GJERDE is a long-time Fort Bragg City councilman who enjoys a reputation for painstaking research of the issues and conscientious decision-making. His write-in opponent, Gressett, has been an advocate for the homeless. In our issue of May 27th of 2009, Bruce McEwen wrote: “Rex Gressett was in court Tuesday morning. Judge Lehan greeted him like an old friend. Gressett pled guilty before he even heard the charge: assault and battery. He explained that he'd put his affairs in order and was ‘fully prepared’ to take the consequences of his offense. Lehan calmed him down enough to read his rights and advisements, and asked Deputy DA Stoen what happened. Stoen said, ‘He slugged the victim in the mouth with his closed fist.’ Lehan asked Gressett what happened. Gressett said he punched the guy petitioning for the clean-up of the old Fort Bragg mill site. Gressett said he had signed the petition and later regretted it, and he’d gone to a lot of trouble to get his name removed, unsuccessfully, he added. He soon encountered the petition circulator at Harvest Market ‘being very aggressive’ with some ‘ladies.’ Gressett gallantly confronted the man on behalf of the allegedly beleagured women and ‘cold-bloodedly’ punched the man in the mouth. Lehan asked Stoen about reserving restitution. Stoen said ‘that under the circumstances, we would move to reduce the charge to fighting in public,’ although the ‘fight’ was a one-way, one-punch assault on another person. Gressett got six months probation, the mandatory $100 assessment to victims of violent crimes (!), $20 security fee and $30 construction fee. The moral? In Mendocino County it costs you $150 to punch someone in the mouth.”

6 Comments

  1. Sue Sponte June 3, 2012

    No Bruce, the Commission on Judicial Performance’s ruling on Lehan is available for all to see and that allegation is not present among all the charges found true and not true.

    • Bruce Anderson June 3, 2012

      As I remember it, the Commission simply said he hadn’t done anything that warranted unseating him. If you can enlighten us all as to exactly what happened, we might all be grateful. Brown brought Lehan to Ukiah then, when things settled down, sent Lehan back to Fort Bragg. The vic, as I recall, was retaliated against by a transfer to distant work. Natch, none of this went unmentioned anywhere but the AVA until just recently when KC Meadows at the Journal recalled the events much as I had.

      • Bruce Anderson June 4, 2012

        PS. Lehan wasn’t even identified by name in the Commission’s report.

  2. Sue Sponte May 24, 2012

    As to Judge Lehan, the court clerk, actually a court reporter, did complain that he was being overly familiar with her, asking her out for a drink and offering rides. At no point did she or anyone else accuse him of exposing himself. Then again, this type of exaggeration is part of the tabloid stock in trade of the AVA

    • Bruce Anderson May 25, 2012

      We go with the information we have, and on this one hard info was impossible because the Black Robes refused to release any, as usual covering up for one of their own. Of course we could play lots of things like the Press Democrat and the Advocate=Beacon — simply pretend they never happened. If it weren’t for the AVA this thing, which should have gotten Lehan removed, would never have come to light.

  3. John Sakowicz May 19, 2012

    County Counsel, Jeanine Nadel, mentioned in the above blog, was named on Friday by Governor Brown to fill one of two vacancies on the Mendocino County Superior Court.

    I’ve worked with Jeanine on a few matters. She is wonderful. Governor Brown got this one right.

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