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Off The Record

RAY WHITTAKER is a good ref and a good guy. Anybody who's attended a local ball game over three generations of Mendocino County high school kids can attest to his steady, competent fairness. He has belonged to the Redwood Empire Officials Association (REOA) for more than 34 years — football, baseball, softball, volleyball and basketball — and has never failed to show up and do a good job when he got there, wherever it was from Covelo to Leggett to Point Arena. As it stands, Whittaker can't do what he loves to do and what he is good at — refereeing high school sports.

THE WAY it works for the County's refs and the umps is the school pays the Association and the Association pays the refs. Lots of us remember Paul Jack who functioned as Commissioner from 1970 until 2003. PJ often reffed football games himself, joking with the defensive backs between plays. Today's Commission assigns officials to eleven County high schools. When PJ retired, Kirk Mason and Wayne Ouellette became Commissioners. Ouellette was subsequently replaced by Jim Franklin. Beginning in 2003, Whittaker says, he has had numerous problems getting paid. He complained and got fired. No more refereeing, no more umpiring.

WHITTAKER took his beefs to small claims court where he won one out of eight claims even though “I had a paper trail proving everything. I even subpoenaed a document and REOA/Kirk didn't provide it. Judge David Nelson let him get away with it and Kirk lied over and over.” Whittaker says he and Pokie Dunlap umped a makeup softball game between Mendocino vs. Covelo that the Association says did not happen, although Debbie Oliver, AD at Covelo, an assistant Covelo coach, and 35 fans said it did. For taking Whittaker's part in the dispute, Pokie Dunlap was also fired. Whittaker speculates that because Kirk Mason is a Mendocino Deputy Sheriff and was a former head of the Mendocino County Deputy Sheriff's Association, “he has an arrogance of power when he will not admit or correct many, many of his mistakes.”

INFLAMMATORY headline from the June 1st edition of the Willits News: “Mayfield and Meinecke quietly granted parole.” TWN's Linda Williams begins, “Two men, William Blaine Mayfield, 55, of Willits, and James Edward Meinecke, 61, of Leggett, sentenced to possible life terms for second-degree murders committed in the 1980s, have quietly been granted parole with minimal public notice. TWN only became aware the parole hearings were held after being contacted by a family friend of Mayfield's victim. In past years, the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office would notify the public of pending parole hearings. This was not done in either case in 2012.”

THE ISSUE HERE is simple enough: Are judges and juries going to do the sentencing or do we get out the rope in the form of uninformed public opinion whipped up by demagogues? Both these guys have served out their lawfully imposed sentences. Mayfield had been held almost a decade beyond his release date because a succession of governors wanted to show the voters how tough they are on crime. Governors are not judges or juries. Neither are district attorneys. Prior to Eyster's election, the DA would issue inflammatory and inaccurate press releases urging that this guy or that guy be kept in prison and, sure enough, random hysterics would dutifully write to the governor or the parole board to keep the guy locked up.

WE CAN ALL understand that the victims' families would oppose parole. If this were frontier America the families could simply lynch the man who'd killed their loved one. But this isn't frontier America. We allegedly enjoy a dispassionate system of adjudication consisting of trained people not connected to the crime. They mete out a proportionate punishment in the form of specific sentences.

I HAPPEN TO KNOW both these guys, and I know they aren't criminals other than the single fatal acts they committed. Billy Mayfield shot a man named Mark Snyder who was in bed with Mayfield's wife. Snyder had a gun on his nightstand and was in bed with Mayfield's wife in Mayfield's brother's house. Did that set of facts warrant Mark Snyder's summary execution? Civilization says No. Everyday people say, “Well…" At which point Civilization steps in and says we'll sort this out fairly. These things happen, and we think this one should cost the shooter 17 years for his crime of passion, events Americans used to understand.

WHAT ISN'T FAIR is keeping the guy in prison years past his release date, especially a guy with a perfect record inside, a genuinely remorseful guy. It isn't fair to ask the professional tough-on-crime lobby whether or not he should be released. A show of hands outside a courtroom is not justice.

MR. MEINECKE of Leggett was driving drunk when he plowed into a car driven by two kids who were counselors at a YMCA camp. He killed a young girl and permanently maimed her companion. Meinecke was a logger with a lethal drunk driving jones. He's a criminal for driving drunk, but he's not any other kind of criminal. He's a good person who did a fatally stupid thing. He got 15 years for killing the girl and permanently wrecking the kid with her. If he so much as looks at a drink when he goes home to Leggett, Meinecke should go back to prison for a long time, but I'll bet he never touches another drop. But again, who decides when the guy gets out? The victims? Or an independent judge and jury?

THE DELINQUENT PROPERTY TAX notices are out. As always, printed at excessive cost to County taxpayers in the outside-owned corporate chain paper, the Ukiah Daily Journal, we learn that Elk's Bobby Beacon could almost balance the County's budget on the money he owes in back property taxes. Beacon, whose holdings run from Greenwood Ridge above Philo to Elk, is about $70,000 in arrears, owing more than any other single individual or entity in the County. A Ms. Paulette Wood of Potter Valley comes in a distant second with about $25,000 owed the County's tax collector. Both Beacon and Wood own multiple parcels, all of them apparently delinquent.

“EDITOR: Would you please print the Meeting Notice below in the your newspaper published during the week of June 4, 2012? Many thanks, Stan Anderson Chair, Mendocino County Republican Central Committee.”

AT YOUR SERVICE, STAN. “The Mendocino County Republican Central Committee will meet Saturday, June 16, 2012, 10:00 AM – 12:00 Noon at the Moura Senior Housing, 400 South Street, Fort Bragg. We will discuss the follow proposition: 'Is it intellectually and/or emotionally possible for us to support a transparent sociopath like Romney for President?' For further information contact: Stan Anderson, 707-321-2592.”

SAN FRANCISCO (AP/CSN) — The Santa Cruz County sheriff's office said Monday it hopes to complete the bulk of an investigation into sexual assault allegations involving Giants slugger Pablo Sandoval by the end of this week, then determine whether to seek charges. Deputy Sheriff April Skalland said detectives are interviewing witnesses and gathering evidence this week, though analysis of some forensic evidence could take longer than a week. Skalland said the accuser is a 21-year-old woman who lives in Santa Cruz County. The woman filed a sexual assault complaint around 4:25am Pacific Friday, Skalland said. A statement from the sheriff's office Monday said the woman met a small group of people in downtown Santa Cruz on Thursday night and then went to Seascape Beach Resort in nearby Aptos, where the alleged incident happened. Sandoval was contacted at the resort by detectives and cooperated in the investigation, authorities said. “Pablo and his attorney remain cooperative,” Skalland said in a phone interview Monday. “Detectives are still interviewing people and the investigation is ongoing. They are collecting evidence and most of the investigation should be wrapped up this week.” The 25-year-old Sandoval and lawyer Eric Geffon met with authorities Friday. Geffon called the sexual encounter “consensual.” The Santa Cruz Sentinel spoke with Isaac Cook, the manager of Santa Cruz bar Motiv, who said that Sandoval was at the bar for over two hours Thursday night. Cook told The Sentinel that Sandoval was joined by two men, who he believed to be Sandoval's brother and agent, and they all left around 1:15am. Cook did not see a woman leave with Sandoval.

”Women and men were coming up to him all night, taking pictures and talking to him,” Cook told The Sentinel. “He was very lucid and friendly. We didn't have any problems.” (The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

IN JULY OF 2010 A CALLER ASKED: “Are you guys going to be doing anything on the fire that wiped out Thanksgiving Coffee?” Yup, we said, we've got a crack reporter, Mr. Doug Roycroft, going at it as we meet here today. We were sorry to hear about it, having known Paul Katzeff for many years and having enjoyed a rather tumultuous but, I hope, relatively civil relationship with the guy. The blaze did not, from what we can gather from preliminary reports, wipe the business out. Essential equipment was spared as were large fresh consignments of coffee beans. Of course we marveled at how fast Paul had arrived on scene from his home on Road 409, Caspar, just in time to direct the firefighters to concentrate their efforts to the rear of the building where essential equipment and the large consignment of coffee beans were stored. The fire, like the fires of 1987, was quickly declared an arson but remains to this day “under investigation,” as does the obvious Fort Bragg murder of Katlyn Long and the equally obvious murder of Ukiah's Susan Keegan. If you're well-connected and want to commit a major felony and get away with it, Mendocino County is the county for you. Anyway, good for Paul, who dedicated his new Thanksgiving Coffee in Noyo Harbor last week with gold shovels and grateful speeches.

THE LOCAL ANGLE: A Contra Costa County prosecutor named Gressett may or may not be related to the Fort Bragg Gressett who's running for supervisor against Dan Gjerde as a write-in candidate. The Contra Costa Gressett had rape charges against him dismissed last year. He has now sued the state, the county (of Contra Costa) and the city of Martinez, claiming he was the victim of a politically motivated prosecution that has destroyed his career and reputation.

GRESSETT, 55, had been indicted on charges that he used a gun, an ice pick and handcuffs to sexually assault a junior colleague during a lunch break in 2008. It could never happen in our County Courthouse because nobody over there is that romantic.

THE RAPE CASE against Gressett was dismissed; the judge agreed with defense attorneys that the prosecution had failed to turn over to the grand jury evidence that could have cleared Gressett. Gressett remains on paid leave. He says he probably cannot return to his job “because of the irreparable damage to his reputation.” (Dude! Even by perv standards ice picks and guns are kinda out there. This guy's an officer of the court?)

GRESSETT'S SUIT, filed in Contra Costa County Superior Court, seeks unspecified damages. The defendants have not responded. Gressett had faced 13 criminal counts including rape and sodomy in the alleged ice cube nooner, which occurred or didn't occur at his Martinez home on May 8, 2008. Gressett's junior colleague, Holly Harpham, then 33, and inevitably but briefly a prosecutor at Ten Mile Court, Fort Bragg, told investigators she'd lusted after Gressett but was not expecting what ensued with the gun, the ice pick, the handcuffs, the sodomy. Gressett told police the sex was kinky but the adventure was consensual.

IN DISMISSING the ice pick case against Gressett filed by state Attorney General Kamala Harris, a judge ruled that the grand jury should have heard evidence that Gressett's accuser had at one point told a colleague that she had been raped — not by Gressett, but by a knife-wielding stranger in a van. The judge also said the grand jury should have been told the woman was, at the time of her testimony, in the process of securing a $450,000 settlement from Contra Costa County over the alleged attack.

GRESSETT'S lawsuit does not name Ms. Harpham as a defendant. His attorney, J. Gary Gwilliam, has said he considers her a witness and a “pawn in this matter.” Huh? It was her complaint that set the bizarre show in motion.  Anyway, Gressett was fired before being indicted, somewhere along the line getting into a fist fight with Paul Sequiera, then also a Contra Costa County and presently a prosecutor with the Mendocino County DA's office.

AFTER CHARGES were dropped against lover boy Gressett, an arbitrator ordered Contra Costa County to reinstate him at his $150,000 salary. With back pay. The arbitrator agreed with Gressett's contention that his supervisors had been out to get him because he ran unsuccessfully three times for district attorney and supported Mark Peterson for the job in 2010. Then-District Attorney Robert Kochly and his top deputies — including Paul Sequeira, presently Mendocino County's top prosecutor, who led the initial Gressett probe, were in political support of a former Contra Costa County prosecutor and judge, Dan O'Malley. Peterson defeated O'Malley in November 2010.

FROM THE ARCHIVE (July 1997): Bill Evans, Laytonville, did an amazing thing at the Supes meeting last week, so amazing that when I told a couple of Frisco lawyer friends about it over the weekend they didn’t believe me. Evans, brandishing a felony bag of pot which he placed on a table next to him, proceeded to deliver his anti-War on Drugs speech. Seated at pot the table were Sheriff Tuso and Lt. Ron Caudillo, Tuso’s commander of the County’s pot eradication effort. Seated in the audience was DA Susan Massini. None of the crime fighters so much as opened the bag to have a sniff. Was it Mendo Mello? Was Bill bold enough to flaunt a big bag of dope right in front of the averted eyes of the County’s legal apparat?

THE NEXT DAY, Wednesday July 9th (1997), Evans faxed this note to Sheriff Tuso: “I understand that concern has been raised about the prop bag of marijuana I showed at the beginning of my comments to the board of supervisors yesterday. Rest assured that this was a simulation, the same as I’ve used before when you and I spoke together in Willits a few years ago about the issues of drugs. You can confirm this if you are suspicious of my personal integrity by calling Jennifer Poole of the Ukiah Daily Journal who came up to me afterwards for a look. I apologize if this is giving you cause for concern or embarrassment. Obtaining real dope, as you can well imagine, would not have been difficult here in Laytonville, but since I work for a living, it would have been difficult, perhaps impossible, to afford on my wages.” Whatever happened to Bold Bill Evans?

CRIME OF THE WEEK (May 31, 2012): Mervin Wilson, 47, of Laytonville, was arrested Monday for burglarizing an empty trailer on the Laytonville rez. Observed as he crawled into a storage area of the vacant doublewide, CHP and Tribal Police simply waited for Wilson to crawl back out, then took him into custody. Predictably, Wilson was also in possession of go-fast powder.

PIXIE'S on the run. Miss Jacqueline Audet has failed to appear in Ten Mile Court. A bench warrant has been issued in the amount of $2,500 for her arrest, which may account for her last being seen a week ago in Garberville, apparently headed north.

ON A VOTE 74-0 Assembly vote Wednesday, Assemblyman Huffman's bill to create new funding sources for state parks now moves to the State Senate. It would also require State Parks to upgrade and expand its fee collection to allow people to donate to parks by buying special license plates or checking a donation box on their tax returns. Huffman's bill, AB 1589, is one of several wending their way through the Legislature, all of them aimed at sparing most of the 70 parks slated for closure as an alleged state cost-saving measure. Huffman's bill also requires the traditionally secretive State Parks Department to publicly explain its rationale for closing parks.

ASSEMBLYMAN TOM AMMIANO’S AB2312 has squeezed through the Assembly on a narrow vote. It would for the first time require marijuana dispensaries, growers, delivery services and manufacturers of pot products to register with the state and be overseen by an appointed nine-member board. It also would compel cities and counties to authorize one dispensary for every 50,000 residents unless local officials or voters approve a ban on pot shops. “Today's vote was significant because it represents a considerable shift that the Legislature is now willing to take responsibility for the effective regulation of medical cannabis in California,” Ammiano, a San Francisco Democrat, said. “With the continuing federal crackdown, we simply cannot afford to continue keeping our heads in the sand and pretend that everything is fine.”

GRAN? IS THAT YOU? San Anselmo police are trying to figure out why an elderly woman drove up to two 13-year-old boys and told them, “You’re guilty. You’re delusional. Get in the car,” before speeding off. The boys were walking away from a downtown restaurant on Greenfield Avenue around 6:30pm Wednesday when a woman in a dark, four-door sedan drove up on Lincoln Park and confronted them, police said. The boys said they had never seen the woman. They ran home and told their parents, who called police, said Sgt. Julie Gorwood. The woman was white, in her 70s, had gray hair and wore glasses, Gorwood said. She had a large plant in the back seat. Anyone with information is asked to call police at (415) 258-4610.

THE FEATURED FILM at this weekend's Mendocino Film Festival was — ta dah! — Who Bombed You Know Who, featuring Darryl Cherney who will be present “for what promises to be a lively discussion.” Sunday night, Crown Hall. A narcissistic monologue is what the saps who pay their way in will get, as Cherney and the handful of cult brains who've lived off the “mystery” for more than two decades now continue to pretend that everyone except Judi Bari's ex-husband did it. Besides which, when's the last time Mendo did lively?

THIS JUST IN from a guy who paid ten bucks to watch the North Korean-inspired film production of the ongoing scam-a-rama: "As to the film itself, it's not well done and is merely a compilation of news footage, old interviews, and shots of newspaper clippings from the Bari era. Dying Judi's hospital bed deposition by her attorney is used in an attempt to bind it altogether, but it comes off as rather weak paste. The answer to the film's central question is this: the FBI in collusion with corporate America set out to kill Judi Bari. That's it. The film conveniently zips past the LA letter as quickly as possible as the essential key to solving the case as the film drags on (two plus hours!) towards the conclusion with Bonnie Raitt singing "make me an angle to fly from Montgomery" at Judi's memorial event. Cherney took the stage before the film swinging his six-week newborn about ala a Michael Jackson on the balcony moment until the child's mother stepped up to the dear child's rescue. There was some footage of one of the jurors from the Bari-Cherney civil suit trial: a woman, a total new age ninny. Bruce, if one ever has to face an American jury, all I can say is flee! It's worth seeing the film just for her. I believe she was from Berkeley."

PORTRAIT OF GEORGE is causing a stir in The City. The brilliant sculpture of assassinated mayor George Moscone by Robert Arneson was denounced at the time of its unveiling as, you guessed it, inappropriate by then-mayor Dianne Feinstein. Mommy thought it a little too much for public display at the time, not reverent enough — that, and Moscone's widow and kids were also offended by it. But the thing is brilliant in depicting a modern pol in all his superficial complexity, and Moscone, an archetypal liberal pol with, as we learn in David Talbot's excellent Season of the Witch, an unquenchable desire for black women which he serially satisfied, was complex in a Kennedy-ish way, with the wife and the kids for show, the other life of young babes and cocaine the more real of his competing selves. It always seemed to me that Moscone's political gift was his recognition that San Francisco was not the city of his youth, that the demographic had changed, that the Saint Ignatius-Sacred Heart-St Rita's mafia that had run The City either had to accommodate the newcomers — a wild mix of gays, the pathetic beasts spawned by the beatniks known as hippies, Hispanics and Asians, with black people already by bulldozed out of the Fillmore for Geary Boulevard and the splendors of Japan Town — or lose power altogether. Dan White was the old Catholic mafia's button man, but White couldn't stem the tide simply by murdering the new demographic's point men, and Frisco soon became what it is now — a serene playground for the well-to-do with the only interesting piece of local art generated here since Diego Rivera's murals being Arneson's Portrait of George.

THE ASSEMBLY has approved AB1993 which, if it passes, would prevent unlicensed drivers from losing their vehicles. As most of us know, immigrant Mexicans can have their cars impounded at routine traffic stops where the cops find an unlicensed person behind the wheel. This bill would permit local law enforcement to decide to impound or not impound, which is the ongoing policy here in Mendo anyway, with the unlicensed driver allowed to call someone with a valid license to pick the car up if AB1993 passes into law. Naturally, the Mex haters are opposed.

IT ESCAPED OUR ATTENTION at the time, but President Obama very nearly selected Congressman Mike Thompson as Secretary of the Interior in 2009. At the last minute, Obama picked Colorado Democrat Senator Ken Salazar – apparently because Thompson was from California, a traditional no-go-zone for that position because Republicans might not approve. Obama wanted somebody the Republicans would like, not just approve, and Salazar, a dependable resource looter on behalf of the extractive corporations, got the nod.

THE POINT? Congressman Winebottle was endorsed for the Interior appointment by none other than the Sierra Club, proving yet again that the Club is nothing more than an extension of the most reactionary elements of the Democratic Party. Thompson has promoted himself as an “outdoorsman” by posing in a hunting jacket now and then. Thompson’s primary allegiance, of course, is to Big Wine. His top five contributors for 2011-2012 were “The Blue Dog PAC” (an organization of Republican Congressmen who happen to live in Congressional Districts with a majority of Democrat voters), Gallo Wines, the National Association of Convenience Stores, Unite Here (a tourism workers union, not known to exist in Thompson’s district), and Investment Co. Institute, a mutual fund lobbying group.

RESPONDING to Thompson's initial Interior appointment consideration back in 2008 before the Sierra Club’s endorsement, Victoria Brandon, chair of the Sierra Club Lake Group, said, “As far as I know the Sierra Club has not taken a position on this possible appointment, and I personally am of two minds: Thompson would undoubtedly be a superb Secretary of the Interior, but the thought of losing him as our Congressman is dismaying to say the least.” We'll pause here to confirm this latest piece of evidence that these are indeed, The Last Days. How does the Jesus Prayer go? “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us all.” (Except for the Sierra Club and Thompson.)

ACCORDING to Saturday's SF Chronicle, the city's coyote population has grown to 13. How the cunning little beasts got established in the city was a mystery until DNA testing, and then a photo, revealed that the SF coyotes are originally from Marin County. Golden Gate Bridge cameras have confirmed a lone pioneer coyote jogging purposefully across the Bridge late one night, leaving us to wonder what propelled him to leave sunny Marin for foggy Frisco. A Mrs. Coyote soon joined her Mr. and coyotes have now been in The City for a couple of decades now.

OPINION on the appropriateness of a growing coyote presence in The City is, to say the least, divided. Dog and cat people generally are opposed because coyotes can, if they get real hungry, prey on the smaller dogs. Even more often they chow down on cats, especially feral cats of which the city has a large population. But dogs are seldom, if ever, attacked by coyotes because in the city context dogs are constantly attended, and coyotes do not attack large dogs because of the size discrepancy, although the coyotes will roar out of their dens to defend their young.

THE MORE HYSTERICAL city opinion worries that coyotes might dash out of the Presidio or Golden Gate brush to snag a toddler, as the Aussie dingo is famously alleged to have done. The less hysterical opinion says that a roaming pack of smallish predators like coyotes don't belong in a park, not that two-footed predators aren't already installed in large numbers from Haight and Stanyan to Hippie Hill. And there are funny speculations about how coyotes will do up against the mammoth, well-fed raccoons in neighborhoods bordering urban coyote habitat. I'd bet on the raccoon up against a coyote, but it's highly unlikely we'll ever see a coyote deliberately take on a raccoon or vice versa. A pit bull owner has claimed her dogs were menaced by a coyote in Golden Gate Park. (There's a den of them near the buffalo pens.) I don't believe that. The coyote might have snarled at the dogs if they got near her young, but why would pit bulls be deterred by a mere snarl? If the owner claims her dogs are completely under her control she's fibbin' us. After all, the best trained police dog will take off after a cat.

SOME OF MENDO’S line workers are worried that Official Mendo is returning to its profligate pre-financial crisis ways. Requests to fill vacant positions that wouldn’t have been submitted last year are starting to appear. Travel and mileage restrictions are being relaxed. Contracts are being processed that were on hold. No new revenues, but spending is starting to creep up again. And if the County doesn’t maintain an austere budget, then the remaining employees may be expected to make more sacrifices to balance the next budget.

MENDOCINO COAST DISTRICT HOSPITAL is still facing serious budget problems. Revenues, while fluctuating month to month, continue to be below expectations. Management is working on various savings and efficiencies, but they’re not expected to close the gap much. Negotiations with the Hospital’s employee union reps have stalled and are moving, albeit slowly, in the direct of formal mediation. Some members of the Hospital board are saying on the record that they “hope to avoid employee givebacks,” but usually when management says they hope to avoid shafting workers, they're already applying the Crisco.

THE WILLITS NEWS reported last week that Willits Unified is soliciting on-line information about what the Willits community would like to see in the new superintendent of schools. The four-page survey was put together, with suggestions from school board members, by Leadership Associates, the search firm hired to recruit a pool of candidates for the school board to consider. Predictably, the questions are silly. “What should the next superintendent know about your community and neighborhood schools?” and “What are some of the outstanding qualities of the Willits Unified School District?”

“THE DISTRICT’S WEBSITE”? If it's anything like Boonville's District Website they’ll be lucky to get a dozen hits a month, and those from total shut-ins. They pay consultants big (edu)bucks for this nonsense?

THE MENDO WINE GANG'S lawsuit against the recently introduced frost protection rules has been delayed until June 28th. The State Water Resources Control Board adopted the regulations last year because “the high, instantaneous demand for water for frost protection by numerous vineyardists and other water users may contribute to a rapid decrease in stream stage that results in the mortality of salmonids.” In other words, when it frosts and all these people pump from the river at once the fish die. The new regs would limit the amount of water grape growers can divert from the Russian River for frost protection by simply requiring them to come up with a plan of their own to prevent overdrafts. But in February Judge Ann Moorman, granted “a stay of the enforcement of the regulation” after Redwood Valley grape growers Rudolph and Linda Light filed suit claiming the regs were unfair to the wine gentry although the gentry gets to write their own individual pumping schemes. Natch, Jared Carter's law firm, is representing the wine people with the silly claim that SWRCB “does not have the legal authority to take what is beneficial, frost protection and turn it into an unreasonable use and try and regulate it.” Killing baby salmon is, in the Carter worldview, reasonable if the water saves a few grapevines.

CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE Jared Huffman doesn’t think the grape growers’ lawsuit has much merit. When he visited Boonville last November we specifically asked Huffman (who was a well-known environmental attorney before being elected to the state assembly), what he thought about the Wine Gang’s suit. Huffman said he was very familiar with the issue and replied that he didn’t “think it [the regulations] is as bad as some of the growers think it is,” and “it will probably be upheld in court.” At that same campaign stop Huffman claimed credit for streamlining the “small stockpond” permitting process so that vineyard owners could reduce their dependence on pumping frost protection water. Huffman added that he hoped the vineyards would pursue “non-water-based frost protection strategies.”

BILLBOARD MESSAGE of the day: “Tobacco Killed My Parents. Vote Yes On 29.” That should probably read: Tobacco, Me, a fifth of Old Crow a week, bad food, no exercise, and cigarettes killed my parents. Crimenently, I realize the truth doesn't often reduce to a bumpersticker, but Tobacco Killed My Parents? (For you non-voters, 29's the proposed buck-a-pack hike on cigs.)

A READER sends along this comment with some unkind assessments of the mental acuity of AVA staff: “Every time someone tells me how ‘logical’ and ‘rational’ males are relative to females, I merely point to the nearest tax-subsidized sports stadiums where middle class moron males are swilling beer that costs $8 a cup after paying $100 for a ticket… and working themselves into cardiac arrest over the outcome of some game between two corporate teams of overpaid retard prima donna players. Listen, these men take this crap SERIOUSLY. I mean, a guy's fave corporate team losing is enough to make the guy moody and depressed for days afterwards. However, the reasons society does this is to emasculate and weaken and distract these otherwise dangerous males with all this sports clutter.”

AS IT HAPPENS, this moron attended Saturday's 4 o'clock Giants-Cubs game where I bought a lemonade for, I think, $6.75. The ticket was worth $62 but it was a gift. On my own, I buy a $20 seat up in the View section at the top of the ballpark, but those $6.75 lemonades leave me amazed at my own profligacy. But then I remember when air for tires and water for radiators were free at the corner gas station! You may be pleased to learn that “the overpaid 'tards” played well and, by the time Tony sang about losing his heart on the cable car halfway to the stars, I'd had a great time, and couldn't help having noted that about half the 41,000 people present were women. Yes, ma'am, the Giants were 2-1 victorious, and there was indeedy a spring in my step as I footed it out onto the Embarcadero and west up and over the hills in the early summer fog howling in off the Pacific.

THEN THERE'S THE PABLO SANDOVAL situation, and how can you not like a game that makes a millionaire out of a Venezuelan slum kid? The stories I've seen so far on Pablo's alleged rape are completely fact free, but the deluge of comment nicely illustrates how thousands of people feel about their own sex, gender, race, and celebrity obsessions. (Ditto for the Ross Mirkarimi case. Talk about piling on! SF's vengeful DA has even prohibited Mirkarimi from talking by long distance telephone to his three-year-old son!)

DEPARTMENT OF UNINTENTIONAL HILARITY: “The appointment of Nadel and Riemenschneider comes as a great relief to the other judges and staff, as we have been working for more than a year with two vacancies,” Judge Richard Henderson of the Mendocino County Superior Court told the Ukiah Daily Journal last week. “We have had great assistance from assigned (visiting) judges, but we miss the expertise and consistency of full-time, local judges.”

EXCUSE ME, YOUR HONOR, but are you kidding? Eight judges and a magistrate for a population of 90,000 people? Without going into how this expensive judicial overkill happened, suffice it to say that Mendocino County does not need eight judges at $178,000 a year plus perks to do the work two judges used to get done for roughly the same population and much less money.

THE GOOD NEWS on the judicial front comes from, of all people, a panel of judges appointed by State Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye. In a report that appeared over the Memorial Day weekend, the panel's 298-pages recommends whacking the state judicial system's governing bureaucracy, noting that the Judicial Council has gone from 430 employees in 2002 to 1,100 in 2011. And these unmonitored, unaccountable people enjoy “a slew of six-figure salaries” and “seemingly unlimited funding for what turned out to be a $1.9 billion white elephant — a computerized statewide case management system.” And on and on. The good news is that Governor Brown will have even less incentive to allow these people to authorize the millions for the proposed and unneeded Mendocino County Courthouse in Ukiah.

THERE'S ORGANIZED OPPOSITION in Sonoma County to PG&E's new tree trimming policy, a very simple policy that sees PG&E clearcutting the areas in and around power poles. No trees, no limbs to bring the lines down. Of course the lines could be buried, but……

LUMA NICHOL writes in response to a Chronicle editorial of May 30 celebrating  Independence Day: “Your editorial is misinformed. First, you never mention the minor parties that are running candidates for president. For example, voters registered with the Peace and Freedom Party can choose among four contenders, including Stephen Durham of the Freedom Socialist Party. Given the high rate of people who do not vote, knowing that there are alternatives to the twin parties of Big Business might encourage some to go to the voting booth. Secondly, your message is that the ‘top two’ primary will somehow give independent voters more choice. Far from it. The new system is guaranteed to eliminate all but Democrat and Republican candidates from the general election. Third parties, which struggle against restrictive and discriminatory ballot access laws, might disappear. This is not a cause for celebration.”

AND RICHARD KIRSCHMAN of Point Reyes wonders why San Francisco needs to spend so much money training police and fire personnel: “Mayor Ed Lee is requesting six police academy classes at about $5 million to $6 million each and two fire academy classes at about $800,000 each. Why, I wonder, are these expensive city-run academies necessary at all? If you want to work for the city as an attorney, you are expected to have your law training in hand before you apply for the job. The same is true for physicians, welders and typists. Lots of community colleges offer 1- to 2-year prep courses for police and fire work. And I'd wager that there are already trained experienced police officers and firefighters around the country who would love to move to California for a well-paying, highly respected job in wonderful San Francisco.”

SUPERVISOR HAMBURG apologizes for inflicting Mike Thompson on us (from a recent listserve discussion regarding Solomon's silly attack ad aimed at the even sillier Congressional candidate, Ms. Lawson): Hamburg: “Ever heard of Doug Bosco?…a self-proclaimed liberal who lost to Riggs in '90. The ‘liberal North Bay district’ was not so liberal in the 90s with the addition of Napa and Solano, heavily military areas (Mare Island, Travis AFB). I supported gays in the military and major cuts to military spending (though not to veterans), positions that hurt me in the southern counties. I thought the ‘Peace Dividend’ (remember the fall of the USSR in 1991?) would be a welcome reality — my mistake! Also the old 1st had the highest rate of gun ownership of any district in the state; voting for the Brady Bill didn't help me with the gun nuts. Democratic Party turnout in '94 was under 40% (result of NAFTA, HillaryCare, etc.) compared with 60+ in 1992 when the Ds swept. Nonetheless, I should have won and not subjected the district to four years of Riggs and then a dozen more of a Blue Dog Democrat. Sorry about that!” … “I didn't say Solomon's negative mailer was okay. I said it's mild by comparison with the Gingrich-inspired Riggs onslaught of '94 and a thousand other campaigns' negative ads.”

GARETT MATSON, 35, was arrested Sunday in Fort Bragg for a probation search. Officers discovered that Matson was carrying “a 12-inch fixed blade knife,” a violation of the terms of his probation. Matson remains the sole suspect in suspicious death of Fort Bragg's Katlyn Long who died in Matson's company from an overdose of methadone. Miss Long, 22, was not a drug user. Matson, 35, has been arrested several times since for drug violations and related crimes. Listed as a transient, Matson is the son of Jerry Matson, a former Fort Bragg planning commissioner and the owner of Matson Construction and Building Supplies. Garett Matson was again in the news recently when his vehicle overturned on Highway 20 east of Fort Bragg. He was discovered on the side of the road while the woman with him remained trapped in the vehicle. She was freed by emergency services. We are expecting a CHP report on that incident next week.

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