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Off The Record

A COUPLE OF MILD SURPRISES in Tuesday's election: Norm Solomon only pulled 10% of the vote as the Republican candidate, Dan Roberts, came in at about 11%, just enough to move Roberts into a November runoff with the blandly conservative Democrat, Jared Huffman. We thought Solomon had a good shot at the runoff. Huffman, then, is a shoo-in to become our Congressman. He's political twin to our former Congressman, Mike Thompson. Thompson, incidentally, garnered 72% of the vote in his new district to the east of us. (Thompson's appeal remains a complete mystery to us until we remind ourselves that we are citizens of the country that twice elected George W. Bush el presidente, and we remember that less than half our citizens bother to vote.) Us pwoggies have no one in the November Congressional race. Ummm. We may not have anyone in any election, come to think about it.

ROBERTS, we should say, is not one of these Fox News Republicans, defined here as that national mob of mean, stupid bastards fired up by Fox's neo-fascist cheerleaders. He's more of a traditional Repug who wants less government spending, more thrift generally. A widower with three grown children, Roberts fought in Vietnam, mustered out of the Marine Corps as a captain, runs his own business, lives in Tiburon, and he's a practicing Catholic. In other words, here in dope and tofu land the guy's got an uphill electoral battle ahead of him.

IF THE MARIJUANA candidates for California’s Second Congressional District — Andy Caffrey, Bill Courtney and John Lewallen — hadn't been in the Northcoast race for Congress, Norman Solomon would have had five percent more of the vote, putting Solomon in the November runoff with Huffman. A Solomon-Huffman election might have been the most interesting race in the country because it would have been a showdown between what the Democrats should be (Solomon) and what the Democrats are (Huffman). We'll get Huffman, meaning we get a Thompson clone and another automatic vote for Israeli (and our) racism and imperialism, no voice for single payer, ongoing bailouts for the thieves running the economy, no breaks at all for young people, and on and on. Maybe Solomon should consider running as a write-in (although there’s still a mathematical chance that late/absentee voters will bump him into the runoff).

(PERSONAL NOTE: When I was a kid, Tiburon, believe it or not, was still a working-class town. The mega-rich were clustered next door in Belvedere; they hadn't moved on Tiburon yet. Much of the little town's population was employed by the Northwestern Pacific Railroad at its southern Tiburon terminus and round house where the railroad's repair shops were located. I played a summer of semi-pro baseball for the Tiburon Pelicans when baseball was the biggest weekly event in the town every summer Sunday afternoon, just as it was everywhere then in Northern California and here in Mendocino County where Fort Bragg was the powerhouse nine, every little town with its town team. Needless to say, Tiburon is unrecognizable today, its old ball field with its tule swamp in deep center field now buried in condos. The Marin County Assessor, George Hall, announced the games through the late 1940s and 1950s, pausing often for a beer as he smacked his lips and sighed contentedly into the loudspeakers, "Good old Lucky Lager." And every time a local personality, usually drunk, tottered past the announcer's shack, Hall would say over the mike something like, "I see the lovely Mrs. Jones is with us today, and a very good afternoon to you, my dear. And here's Mr. Jones. Haven't seen him in the upright position lately but there he is, and a splendid sight it is." And without fail, Hall, a portly fellow with a cigar stuck in his mouth and dressed in a battered suit, tie and fedora, would say hello to "Sam up on the hill," and sure enough an old guy way the hell up on the ridge would stand and wave his baseball hat. The fifth inning, and this went on for years, Hall told the same joke about it being the bottom of the fifth "and every old bag here today is loaded." Always got a big laugh. Before the game, Pelican manager Eddie Vigno would be pacing up and down muttering to himself about this or that guy not showing up. "That goddam bum. You never know if he's gonna play or not. It's enough to drive me fruit." Vigno was perpetually on The Road To Fruit which, at the time, didn't strike me as a homophobic slur because I was probably unaware it was one until years later. Pretty good baseball, it was, too. Can you even imagine a contemporary bureaucrat calling a local ball game and enjoying a public beer? I was way too young to drink, but my most of my teammates and the Marin County Assessor would get absolutely and publicly bombed after the game down at Hooper's on Tiburon's one street of bars and restaurants, each of them with a deck on the bay. Old friends tell me when Hall died Marin County's property taxes were heavily skewed to the dramatic advantage of Hall's personal friends, and he had lots of friends. The old man had style, though, and give me the George Halls of 1955 over these bloodless government drones who jerk us around these days.)

AS EXPECTED, John McCowen was handily returned as Mendocino County's 2nd District supervisor over Andrea Longoria, a County worker supported by SEIU and casino money. Dan Gjerde, unopposed except for an eccentric write-in candidate called Rex ‘Slugger’ Gressett, was hugely supported for 4th District supervisor.

SLUGGER GRESSETT does not respond to inquiries, but we've heard he's related to 'Ice Pick' Gressett of the Contra Costa DA's Office. Ice Pick Gressett was involved in a widely reported sex scandal over the alleged rape of a colleague, later determined to be unfounded, but which, while it lasted, was reportedly dependent on an ice pick, a gun, ice cubes and, of course, the requisite sodomy. Maybe one of the more experienced pervs among our readers can tell us what an ice pick, ice cubes and a gun have to do with the act of love.

GJERDE is the first capable person to represent the 4th District (Fort Bragg, mostly) since Liz Henry. He will replace the disastrous Kendall Smith. With Gjerde's election we think Mendocino County will enjoy its strongest board of supervisors in modern history — five people who conscientiously go about their work in an honest, thoughtful manner. Over the years, we've been lucky to have two out of five who knew what they were doing.

TERM LIMITS passed easily and, our second surprise, the smoke tax failed by a narrow margin.

MOST ENCOURAGING, was Tom Lynch of Guerneville making it into a runoff against Wes ‘The Eternal’ Chesbro, a career officeholder of zero accomplishment and equivalent distinction. Chesbro, however, somehow raked in 64% of the vote against Lynch's 23.2%, meaning Lynch is unlikely to free us from Chesbro in November, but it sure is nice to know that several thousand people want The Curse lifted.

THIS IS ALL preliminary. A week later here in Mendo they're still counting the votes. We still don't yet know any of the grisly specifics, like how many of the eligible turned out to vote and where the various candidates and the two initiatives were strongest. Solomon did very well in Mendo where he had a strong and focused cadre of supporters.

DID HE? The Chron headline Thursday morning read, “25-to-life upheld for hiring hit man.” The story went on to describe how Westport's Kenny Rogers has lost his appeal to overturn his conviction for allegedly hiring an ex-con named Richard Peacock to kill another Westport man named Alan Simon. Simon and Rogers had clashed over management of the Westport water system. In 2004, Simon engineered Rogers' recall from Rogers position as chairman of the Water Board and Simon became chairman. In June of 2005, Peacock shot up the front door of Simon's Westport home. Simon said he was grazed by one of the 9 shots fired. The night of the shooting, Peacock, post-shooting, and hurtling eastbound along the lightly traveled Branscomb Road, tossed the gun he'd used to shoot up Simon's door just as a westbound CHP officer drove past hustling to Westport at the “shots fired” call. The gun was eventually (and nebulously) linked to Rogers. The Prosecution claimed that Rogers had paid Peacock, an employee of Rogers' auto detailing business in Sacramento, several pounds of marijuana to knock off Simon. Peacock was convicted in 2006 of attempting to kill Simon and was sentenced to 71 years in prison.

DA LINOTT and prosecutor Tim Stoen, first offered Rogers a deal that would have permitted Rogers to plead out to being an accessory to the shooting of Simon's front door, but Judge Ron Brown rejected the plea offer because Brown said he'd been informed by Rogers' probation officer that Rogers had agreed to the lesser plea simply to get the matter behind him. That offer, which would have meant a few months in the County Jail plus probation, indicated that the DA felt there wasn't a strong case against Rogers, but Judge Brown propelled the matter forward as an attempted murder.

AN ATTEMPTED murder would have occurred if Peacock had knocked on Simon's door and shot Simon when he opened it. How shooting the front door of a home can be construed as an attempted murder beats me. If anything, it sounds like the idea was to scare Simon out of town, not kill him.

MENDO COUNTY Probation also claimed that lots of Westport residents, unnamed, were afraid of Rogers as if someone making the claim, or even ten people making the claim, meant that they had reason to fear him. The appellate court found that Brown's decision to have the attempted murder case against Rogers go forward was “within his authority,” the implication being that it may have been within Brown's authority but that's as rational as it got. The appeals court also found that Rogers had been competently represented, which he clearly had not been.

WHEN THE ROGERS matter tottered into court — and here we go purely subjective — the jury heard horror stories about Rogers alleged bigotry, his alleged unpopularity in town and, of course the jury got to see Peacock, a menacing figure who undoubtedly put the fear into them. I think the jury found Rogers guilty simply on the basis of his association with Peacock and Peacock's equally menacing brother, Michael, and found Rogers guilty based on Rogers’ alleged ethnic hostilities. There was no hard evidence linking Rogers to the crime, and Richard Peacock, an old fashioned tough guy, went off to prison for the rest of his life without implicating Rogers.

SORRY TO SEE Huffman endorsed by outgoing Lynn Woolsey but not surprised. She was good on some issues but in the crunch tended to vote for the bad, and now reveals herself as a hack Democrat. But alongside Mike Thompson and Chesbro, not to get into the Santa Rosa-based opportunists who dominate Northcoast politics, she always looked pretty good.

“I, PAUL ANDERSEN, am the mastermind…” begins a widely distributed letter from the mastermind himself. This guy was once a Ukiah City Councilman where he was widely considered to be a man with an insanely high regard for himself unshared by anyone outside his invincibly smug self. Of course a man would have to be at least half-cracked to refer to himself un-ironically as a “mastermind” then brag to Northcoast media that he was the brains (?) behind the ho-hum news that Stacey Lawson was (1) a carpetbagger (2) rich (3) vacuous (4) hadn't voted much (5) got her millions out of a failing company while the getting was good.

SO? MORE THAN HALF of eligible Americans don't vote, and it's not as if the dreary line-ups of corporate bag men and their even drearier clichés inspire us to the polls. Of course one would expect a candidate for Congress to have taken at least a superficial interest in the electoral process, but Lawson was never a factor in this election, a fact obvious to us non-masterminds from the day she announced. Also, getting her money out of Silicon Valley before the collapse indicates that the kid is not the total feeb she appears to be.

JUST IN FROM FRISCO: The Board of Directors of the San Francisco Mime Troupe was invited to a rehearsal this week but Mime Troupe founder and board member R.G Davis was banned from the event. Even though other Board Members have said Michael G. Sullivan, resident playwright, is not a good writer, and another noted the scenario doesn’t follow and is not complete, Davis, who hasn’t said anything about this year's play, has been banned from rehearsals. Maybe they sensed that Davis has "thought" the plays for the last twelve years of Sullivan’s authorship, directing and starring, are superficial. The plays have had provocative titles but are followed by peripheral issues. The performances are at the level of TV politics and caricature, all within the clichés of melodrama and musical good guys and bad guys. Pandering or panhandling? Join "thought control week" at the SFMT. Anyone who had a critical thought, but has not expressed it publicly should demand to be banned. “ Didn’t I think some of these things also? Ban me!” Send it to Michael Sullivan c/o  Walter Hass of the Rec. & Park Commission in the 60s tried to ban Davis from the parks, now Michael Sullivan has initiated another effort to ban Davis. Times have reversed roles; the so-called good guys are now thought police.

A READER RECOMMENDS: “Last weekend I was fortunate to see 'Brothers on the Line' at the Mendocino Film Festival; fortunate because it was only shown once and it was sold out, but I managed to get a ticket and fortunate also because I got to see one of the most thought provoking movies I have been too in a long time. Here is a summary about the film taken from several articles I read about it: Brothers On The Line, a documentary feature by Sasha Reuther, explores the legacy of the Reuther brothers, pioneering labor organizers whose leadership of the United Auto Workers (UAW) transformed the social, economic, and political landscape of a nation. The film takes an in-depth look at a controversial time in our history. It not only weaves a striking personal narrative of one family's commitment, but provides timely commentary on issues that resonate far beyond their era (pensions, health care, worker rights) the rise and fall of the Big 3 automakers, and much more..."

SAM SMITH POINTS OUT: “The right spent about $23 a vote to win in Wisconsin. Transferred to the fall election, that would mean — thanks to the despicable Citizens United ruling — any of the following could buy the election and still have from 83% to 98% of their wealth left: Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, either of the Koch brothers, George Soros, any of four Waltons, Michael Bloomberg or Mark Zuckerberg.”

THE CENTERS for Disease Control and Prevention reported last week that 23% of high school students said they recently smoked marijuana, while 18% said they had puffed cigarettes. The survey asked teens about a variety of risky behaviors. For decades, the number of teens who smoke has been on the decline. Marijuana use has fluctuated, and recently rose. At times, pot and cigarette smoking were about the same level, but last year marked the first time marijuana use was clearly greater. An earlier survey by the University of Michigan also found that pot smoking was higher. A Michigan expert said teens today apparently see marijuana as less dangerous than cigarettes. But it is. A kid who gets into dope early and heavy risks adult schizophrenia, not to mention brain delays and adverb-itis, "Like I like said like to the like dude...."

THE CALIFORNIA AG DEPARTMENT has announced that the Mendocino Winegrape and Wine Commission has voted to disband, and will cease operations at the end of the month. The group is made up of growers and winemakers. A majority of vintners, 68%, voted to continue the commission, but only 45% of growers wanted the commission to continue, while 55% voted to wind it down, according to the CDFA, which tallied the vote.

THE COMMISSION was created by the California Legislature in 2006, and represents 91 wineries and 343 grape growers, according to its website. It is funded solely through member fees.

IRV SUTLEY WRITES: "Many of you have probably now heard of the recent death of author, Ray Bradbury. What fewer may not know is that Ray was an initial Peace and Freedom Party registrant in 1967 and was active in getting the party on the ballot." Bradbury was also hostile to computers and refused to allow his books to appear on Kindle.

ALEXANDER COCKBURN from a speech delivered in Olympia, Washington last month: “We're no longer allowed to have debates, let alone acrimonious disputes. That was all kind of too noisy with people throwing furniture around. Suddenly it's a ‘conversation.’ Join the national ‘conversation.’ You get this image of people sitting around in a circle, like Peace Corps people did in the 60s — sitting on the ground with their legs crossed. And everybody is having this very civilized conversation… ‘Don't you think that the really rich people should have all the money?’ And somebody else says, ‘I'd like to contribute to this conversation.’ They can't scream. And they say very quietly and conversationally, ‘I think that's not a very good idea’.”

AMEN TO THAT, BRO. Look around Mendo and try to remember when you last heard a good argument in anything resembling a formal setting. Vigorous discussion is considered such bad form around here it simply is not allowed. It's also politically dangerous because the vested interest people — a scurvy mix of professional Democrats, New Age ninnies and Speakers of Truth to Power, all of them terrified for their jobs and the leg up they think they have. They're also committed to shutting down any criticism of them and any political energy to their left. Lots of them think they are the left, and they just might be and that's why Solomon couldn't made the run-off and it's why public radio is so constipated and its why the MEC is a wacko gathering point. The "liberals" of course are the most oppressive. Their idea of a debate is five Nice People sitting in a circle agreeing with each other. Worse, its five Nice People talking to a captive audience of high school or college kids. Here in Boonville, a couple of rasta-looking debauchees are paid 8 grand to annually present something called 'Challenge Day' where high school boys are forced to wear high heels to understand the oppression of women and everyone weeps at the end of the day at just how insensitive The Man is. The libs think these events are simply swell, transporting even. A learning experience might actually occur if someone, and I hereby announce my availability at no charge, were invited to also point out that these are only kids and why should they be burdened with a lot of specious opinion about how evil they're likely to become from adult neurotics? And even if a dissenter was allowed to participate, the libs wouldn't dare call it a debate because they'd be afraid there might be disagreement. So, what we get around here is monologues KZYX style with no call-ins, or monologues with a few crazy people calling in to swap crazy talk with the crazy host or hostess. The Mendocino Environment Center and its KMEC? KPFA? Candidate Nights? Stalin lives! Part of the prob is that the dominant "personalities" at these cringing institutions are simply unequipped for adult argument because they're stone dumb, terminally chickenbleep (despite a lot of rah-rah about 'speaking truth to power'), humorless (natch), and incapable of anything but clichés and stumbling, inarticulate rehashes of received opinion.


SAN FRANCISCO'S Planning Commission and the SF Police Department say that medical marijuana dispensaries are not the crime magnets the feds claim they are. But dispensary-related crime, and instances of this crime near children, are exactly why local United States Attorney Melinda Haag has closed some ten state-legal Bay Area cannabis dispensaries since October of 2011. Haag has presented no data along with her claims, and a recent study conducted by UCLA researchers won't help her either. Based on crime trends in Sacramento in 2009, the study found “no observed … associations between the density of medical marijuana dispensaries and either violent or property crime rates,” and further found that dispensary security measures like door guards and security cameras may be crime deterrents. Crime predictions are often based on the “routine activity theory,” the study says. According to this theory, crime will occur when several conditions are met: “The presence of a motivated offender; a suitable target defined by its value, visibility, access, and/or likelihood of low resistance to crime; and the absence of guardians against crime.” Researchers Nancy Kepple and Bridget Freisthler looked at other crime-causing variables including employment, young men, and vacant housing. They crunched the numbers and found no discernible link.

ANYONE SEEN PIXIE? Last sighting of Ms. Audet was nearly a month ago when she was seen panhandling in Garberville. We suspect she may have moved on because she felt she was getting too much attention in Fort Bragg, and best to her if she has, but she was safer here, we think, where lots of people can keep an eye out for her. The Fort Bragg PD went wayyyyy out of its way to help her out, too, and Ms. Audet will be lucky if she lands in a place as solicitous of her well-being.

US ATTORNEY GENERAL, ERIC HOLDER, said Thursday that the federal crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries is justified because the dispensers “took advantage” of the state laws allowing them. The Obama Administration had promised to leave the dispensaries alone but, Holder claimed, large-scale grows and affiliated dispensaries have “come up with ways in which they are taking advantage of these state laws and going beyond that which the states have authorized.” (We've often heard rumors that Mendo dispensaries were selling a lot of dope, er, medicine, out their back doors but have never had confirmation.) The federal crackdown, of course, means prices for pot, presently hovering around $600 a pound, will rise as the government, cracking down on dispensaries, resumes its crucial and traditional role as inadvertent price support, enforcement arm.

MAN BEATER? No way a refined-looking woman of 57 like Ms. Campbell of Potter Valley would resort to fast-slapping her sig other. Bail was set at a mere $10,000 meaning even the cops knew the charge was dubious. No gentleman would have called the cops.

ANITA JACKSON, 26, of Laytonville died Friday morning shortly before 11 in a single-car crash on Highway 101 a few miles south of Laytonville. The CHP said Ms. Jackson was southbound when her Ford Ranger pickup left the road and struck an embankment. Her daughter, Tara Slichter, 2, suffered minor injuries. Both mother and daughter had been wearing restraints. The little girl was airlifted to UC Davis Medical Center where she is listed as in good condition.

A DUDE who worked in a casino in Vegas told me about this hippie. The hippie came in out of the desert night, crept into the casino all scraggly in his huarache sandals and tie-dyed shirt and Hindu balloon pants, and went straight to the roulette table and reached into his little pouch tied to his belt and came up with one US quarter. He laid the quarter on black. The little ball came down on 22 black. He let it ride, doubled again, switched to red, doubled his dollar, took two dollars to the blackjack table and won ten in a row, doubling every time. Ten in a row. True story. $2048 in winnings. He pulled his chips and headed for the craps and started betting with the shooter, doubling whatever the shooter bet. Inside of two hours the house was clocking his action and he'd been comped with free meals. He was drunk on free booze, and still at the craps, with a crowd around him, betting a couple hundred a throw. By three a.m. he’d stacked up over six grand off an initial investment of 25¢. Suddenly, in four or five big bets, all gone — he busted out. He stood there thinking a minute. Folks around were him watching. He stood there. Everybody was shouting, “One more quarter! One more quarter!” The old hippie shook his head and staggered back out into the desert after one hell of a night in a Vegas casino, a night they're still talking about. Total cost was 25¢. A night he'll never forget. (Denis Johnson)

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