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Off The Record

NORTHCOAST PROGRESSIVE Norman Solomon graciously conceded defeat last week, thus removing whatever interest there might have been in the November election for Congress in the newly gerrymandered California Second District. Solomon came up 172 votes shy of eking out a second place margin over Republican Dan Roberts. (25,624 to 25,451, or 0.7%) If the trio of potheads had stayed out of the race, Solomon would have easily finished second, but the pot candidates' vanity propelled them forward, meaning instead of a national discussion about real Democrats against the Corporate ones like Huffman we'll have two corporate guys blabbing clichés at each other.

SOLOMON issued this deluded concession statement: “The ideals that have propelled this campaign will continue to energize (ten percent of the vote doesn't represent a hell of a lot of energizing) people across our congressional district in the years ahead. To overcome a status quo of perpetual war, extreme Wall Street power, chronic inequities and environmental degradation, we will keep working for peace, social justice, a healthy planet — and genuine democracy. I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has made our grassroots campaign possible. Staff members and many others have worked long hours with great dedication, skill and creativity. More than 7,000 different individuals have made donations.” And etc.

JARED HUFFMAN has put out the following blanket mailer. Huffman could completely disappear, including being officially declared missing and presumed dead, and still win in November. But here he is trying to convince people that he faces a serious challenge in November: “The lengthy post-election process of counting provisional and late absentee ballots is now over and I wanted to share the official results. While some of the margins changed, the final outcome did not: we finished in first place with 38% of the vote, and we will be running off against Republican Dan Roberts in November. Roberts finished second with 15% of the vote, just ahead of Norman Solomon. I want to once again thank you for helping make this first-round victory possible. It wouldn't have happened without the incredible community of support we've built over the past 18 months. Now it's time to turn our focus to the November election. And it's time for Democrats, after a long and spirited primary campaign, to come together and work to advance our common goals and values. We have a history of great Democratic representation in the North Bay and North Coast, and I intend to continue that legacy — which starts with working hard to win the general election this fall! Make no mistake, Republican Dan Roberts is a serious opponent. He proved the political pundits wrong by besting 10 other candidates to make the runoff. He is an articulate, savvy and successful businessman, a decorated veteran, and he will definitely have the resources to fund a strong campaign. We're going to have to work hard, but I'm confident that our campaign can meet this final challenge. And I'm looking forward to a robust, respectful, issue-based contest with Dan this fall.”

“DAN.” Love that. They're already cuddling up. This election is already tiresome. All that we can hope is that “Dan” is a Fox News-type frother so we can have some laughs between now and the ratification of the One Percent's political reps.

MAN BEATER OF THE WEEK: Ms. Cindy Louise Brown of Ukiah, bail set at $10,000, which means the cops could barely see a little red spot of an “injury” on the alleged victim's face. Felony-quality assault — immolation, defenestration etc. — would put bail up around $25,000. Ten thou translates merely as the man enjoying the sight of his true love hauled off to jail in handcuffs. The irony of being arrested for barely smacking the guy is faintly visible in Ms. Brown's booking photo expression; she knows and the cops know it's ridiculous. Bottom line, ladies: If you think the man in your life is going to call the cops on you for smacking him, blast him good.

A FRIEND WROTE to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat: “How does management justify their 'forums'? It appears you have a core group of losers who within four or five comments on any string bring it down to very obscene name-calling. Nothing is truly discussed or debated. It always comes down to insults....” Friend goes on to cite a particularly vile denunciation of Obama by some anonymous white race warrior.

THE UKIAH DAILY JOURNAL was forced by pseudo-anonymous slobs plaguing its comment line to simply cancel it. The Press Democrat will have to do the same, and SF Gate, the Chronicle's comment line, might as well cancel theirs, although they do edit out the racist remarks and the obscenities. But what remains is really, really stupid and enough to make a sensible reader despair for the human race, not to mention whatever residual hope he or she may have for anything resembling political democracy.

THE AVA'S COMMENT LINE? We censor the hell out of it. If you want to do racism, for instance, go ahead, but we're going to have to have your name, phone number and street address. This is the only way to keep the cowards and the nuts from destroying public discussion.

SUSPICIONS CONFIRMED. The grand jury reports that Ukiah's garbage contract constituted a “saga” and “apparently careless city procurement practices,” “weak City Council oversight,” “less-than-adequate city staff work,” “apparently out-classed city negotiators” and “allegedly hidden business transactions.”

SPECIFICALLY, the Grand Jury says the contract was uncompetitive and set up unfair business practices that could force a local composting company (Cold Creek Compost) out of business; that the contract is based on unaudited financial statements from the contractor; that the collection contract overlooks a 2.56 percent increase that was intended to be reversed in 2013; that the contractor has wholly owned subsidiaries, which are engaging in related business transactions, resulting in higher pass through costs to the ratepayers; that the grant of exclusive rights to recyclables violates the city's own ordinances; that In researching the complaints, the grand jury reviewed contracts, city code sections and interviewed city employees, contractors, community members and both current and former members of the Ukiah City Council.”

THE GRAND JURY says “C&SWS (the winner of the 15-year deal with the City of Ukiah) “is a group of at least 13 related companies that engage in related business transactions, that they “do business among themselves while passing on costs to the city's ratepayers.”

THE REPORT also claims that the City of Ukiah ignored “evidence of noncompliance,” and that the city “based its approval of the contract with C&SWS on financial statements ... that were not audited.”

THE GRAND JURY says it “found evidence that C&SWS may be using the contract to eliminate competition, and if true this is a potential breach of the city's garbage contract, giving the city probable cause to terminate the contract.”

“ALL OF THESE ACTIONS or inactions have translated into higher costs for the residents of the city and the city ratepayers,” with the city's “food waste is not being composted at all, it is being dumped in a landfill at full expense,” as Cold Creek Compost in Potter Valley sits a few miles north “fully permitted to receive all of Ukiah's food waste ╔ and the grand jury wonders how much longer it is going to take the city to assess its options. Its current option ╤ and the best it is ever likely to find ╤ sits underused in front of its face.”

THE GRAND JURY recommends that Ukiah: investigate the related business transactions among the companies related to C&SWS as these transactions relate to costs passed on to the city; investigate any possible violations of the contract by C&SWS; determine if other companies would have responded to a Request for Proposals had the city requested bids for its trash collection and hauling contracts; determine whether the city's contract with C&SWS can be voided, or any other legal action taken, after any investigations are completed and fully evaluated.

UKIAH'S FECKLESS leadership must respond to the report within two to three months. (As I recall only Councilman Phil “Red Phil” Baldwin raised objections to the deal.) Elected officials have 60 days to respond, the others named as co-incompetents, 90 days.

IT TOOK TWO Press Democrat reporters, Julie Johnson and Glenda Anderson, to grind out the following press release re-write: “About 15 acres of grasslands burned Wednesday in a wildland fire east of Ukiah, Cal Fire officials said. The blaze started at 6pm in the Cow Mountain Recreation Area about five miles east of Talmage, fire officials said. Fire crews contained the fire by about 7:30pm, Fire Capt. Jesse Torres said. No structures were threatened. Six engines and five aircraft battled the blaze. The cause of the fire was under investigation.”

ON JUNE 26, an African-American voter, Elise Brown, of Victorville, California, filed a federal lawsuit, charging that top-two, as applied, violates the Voting Rights Act and also violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The claim is based on voting rights. Brown charges that her November 2012 ballot, in the 8th US House district, leaves her with only two Republicans, both of whom she alleges are hostile to her interests. The complaint charges that because there is no write-in space, and because she cannot in good conscience vote for either candidate who is listed on the ballot, the top-two system deprives her of a vote in November. The case is Brown v Bowen, central district, Riverside, cv12-05547. Brown is a member of the San Bernardino County Democratic Central Committee, and an officer of the Adelanto-Victorville Democratic Club. The two candidates who placed first and second in the 8th district are Assemblyman Paul Cook, a conservative Republican, and Greg Imus, another conservative Republican. The 8th district covers the bulk of the more rural parts of San Bernardino County, plus other counties on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This is the first lawsuit against California's top-two open primary that is filed by anyone associated with either the Democratic or the Republican Party. The other three lawsuits that have been filed by California’s Proposition 14 have all been filed by independent candidates or minor political parties and their members.

ON JUNE 25, according to a press release from the DA's office, the Honorable Clay Brennan remanded Robert Stanley Sherman, 50, a resident of Point Arena, to the custody of the Mendocino County Sheriff to begin a two-year prison sentence. The sentence was based on Sherman's conviction of two felonies involving a 5,000 gallon water tank stolen from the Elk Fire Department on Feb. 28, 2009. A jury found Sherman guilty of possessing and selling the water tank knowing it was stolen. The jury also found Sherman guilty of forging a false water tank receipt from Friedman's Brothers in Ukiah to cover up the crime. Although the probation department recommended probation, the district attorney, at the time of sentencing, argued for denial of probation based on the seriousness of stealing a water tank paid for by community donations, and bought to protect the community from fire. Judge Brennan stated even though the value of the water tank was only $2,500 the total circumstances required that probation be denied. In addition, Judge Brennan stated he himself “did not find the defense at trial to be a credible one.” Despite the verdicts, the probation department reported that Sherman “adamantly denies responsibility for these offenses.” In response, Deputy DA Tim Stoen, who prosecuted the jury trial, argued that despite the defendant having no prior felony record, the purpose of probation is rehabilitation, and that lack of remorse totally undermines rehabilitation. Although the Court sentenced Sherman to prison, there are new sentencing rules in California that require nonviolent state prison offenses to be served in county jail. Sherman will have to serve at least half of his two years in custody. “I wish to thank Judge Brennan,” said Tim Stoen, “for rendering a just sentence in this case,” and for telling Sherman he was sending a very clear signal that you can't get away with it.

JUDGE BRENNAN “did not find the defense to be a credible one.” Either the judge is a master at understatement or he a master of the obvious. Here’s what happened in court which probably resulted in the judge’s keen opinion of the “defense” as reported by the AVA's Bruce McEwen in June of last year:

INVESTIGATING OFFICER Sgt. Greg Stefani was called to the stand and Deputy DA Tim Stoen began his direct examination. Stefani is a patrol sergeant with the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office [who has since been promoted to Lieutenant for the Coastal Sector]. He has been an officer of the law for 22 years. He interviewed Al Sjolund at S&B Market [in Manchester] during his investigation of the water tank theft in March 2009. Sjolund gave Stefani the serial number of the stolen tank, #0810473352, and on April 2nd 2009 Stefani checked it against the three tanks on Probert Ranch in Annapolis with assisting officer Charlie Carpenter. “And did any of them match?” asked Stoen. “Yes.” They questioned the caretaker and Nancy Probert. They asked Probert where the stolen tank had come from. “And did she say as to from whom she had gotten it?” Stoen asked Stefani. “She said she had bought the water tank from Bob Sherman,” said Stefani. But Sherman did not tell Probert where the tank came from. She paid Sherman $2,000 for the tank with two checks; one for $1,500, one for $500. Probert said Sherman delivered the tank to her ranch by himself in a flatbed trailer. She agreed to buy a new tank from S&B Market for the fire department to replace the stolen one. On September 10, of 2009 Stefani spoke with Robert Sherman who was in custody at the time on another matter. Deputy DA Stoen asked Stefani if he had any contact with Sherman prior to that date. “I've had various contacts with him over the past 12 years.” Sherman told Stefani that on August 26th of 2009 he sent two men that work for him, Craig Higgins and Robert Enos, to Yardbirds in Ukiah to buy the water tank to resell to Nancy Probert. Stefani told Sherman he was investigating his involvement in the stolen water tank case. Sherman said he had a receipt for the tank from Yardbirds in Ukiah, but a receipt did not materialize until a couple months later. On October 13th 2009 Stefani was pumping gas into his car at the Union 76 station in Gualala when he received a phone call from Sherman. Sherman told him he had the Yardbirds receipt. Stefani got the receipt from Sherman. It was submitted to the court as people's exhibit 4. But the receipt wasn't from Yardbirds in Ukiah. It was from Friedman's Home Improvement in Ukiah. The Friedman's logo is at the top of the receipt; the transaction date is February 28th, 2009. It is for a 6,250-gallon vertical tank. It was paid by cash, $2,295. The stock-keeping, invoice number is “32972174.” With receipt in hand Stefani called Friedman's in Ukiah and spoke with manager Jennifer Carson. She told Stefani they did not sell water tanks that large, not even close. “What did she say as to whether Friedman's could have sold such a water tank to Robert Sherman?” asked Stoen. “She said there was no possible way because they don't sell that size tank.” “And what did she say with respect to what the stock-keeping unit number was as indicated on that recite?” “The stock-keeping unit on this receipt is for a 20-once bottle of Aquafina-brand drinking water.” The bottle of Aquafina cost $1.33 and according to the invoice number it was purchased in August of 09, not February 28th of 09 as the receipt says. In an interview that took place in Sergeant Stefani's patrol car and recorded through the vehicle recording system, Sherman told Stefani he personally delivered the water tank to Nancy Probert. He had been working with a metal recycler at Probert Ranch. He said Nancy Probert had recently had a fire and told him she needed more water tanks.

FOR YOUR NARCISSISM FILES: Mary Ann Landis, mayor of Ukiah, nicely demonstrates her priorities in a time of rip-off garbage contracts, pay-cuts and layoffs: “Here's a little more than you asked for related to Ukiah's budget vote on Tuesday. Sorry for the delay, I needed some balancing time to hike, complete a tooth implant and preserve some stone fruit.”

THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT is a huge present to the privately-owned insurance industry, and a huge fraud on the public. NPR's jubilant reporting Thursday morning made it seem as if there were no downsides. But it's almost all downside, beginning with the grotesque fact that private insurance combines will establish how much it will cost. A presently uninsured-because-they-can't-afford-it family making ╤ if they're lucky ╤ $50,000 to $70,000 a year ╤ will now be required to pay a minimum of $500 to $700 a month for the basics, money they don't have. The indigent will be herded into MedicAid, for which the money to pay for new millions of them will come from some magic place yet to be named. If you're presently uninsured, like millions of Americans are uninsured, and don't join up, the IRS will fine you at tax time. You're in whether or not you can afford it, and you're in whether or not you want to be in.

DEMOCRATIC PARTY BIG WIGS like Nancy Pelosi, a fully insured multi-millionaire, said the Affordable Care Act was a great day for America. NPR said she was wearing her “purple good luck shoes,” as NPR's idiot “political analysts” celebrated the great gift to the health insurance companies along with her. Congressman Mike “Corktop” Thompson (D-Napa Valley), a mere millionaire, but also fully insured of course, released the following lockstep party statement today, ghost written for him by party headquarters because it's identical to party statements issued simultaneously everywhere in the land:

“TODAY'S RULING by the Supreme Court is a victory for all Americans. The historic health care reform legislation passed by Democrats in Congress is saving money and saving lives. Seniors are paying less at the pharmacy counter; insurance companies can no longer discriminate against people with preexisting conditions or women who become pregnant; millions of Americans can rest assured that if they get sick, they won't have their health coverage dropped. By 2014, virtually all of the law will go into effect, making even more improvements to our health care system. More than 32 million people who are currently uninsured will gain access to affordable coverage. It will put an end to the hidden taxes that all insured individuals currently pay for emergency room visits by people without insurance. Women will no longer be charged substantially higher premiums than men for the same coverage, and being a woman can no longer be treated as a pre-existing condition' by insurance companies. “Reforming our health care system is an ongoing process that began with the passage of this bill. It is an important first step towards making quality, affordable health care a reality for all Americans. In the months and years ahead, we need to put politics aside, focus on the facts and work together to further improve our nation's health care system. By building on the reforms made in the Affordable Care Act, we can make sure every American can afford to go to the doctor.”

JOHN STAUBER put the alleged reform in true perspective: “It was a brilliant move by far Right (but oh so likable) Chief Justice Roberts to side with the Dem-appointed Justices and uphold ObamaCare. After all, this is a massive victory for corporate power, forcing citizens to buy an expensive insurance product that won’t serve our needs very well but will profit industry, in lieu of receiving real healthcare. Obamacare and its corporate mandate were born on the Right (as in Heritage Foundation) as a way to destroy the political prospects of any single payer system that would cover all Americans with a tax-funded system of guaranteed medical care. This is the way all other industrial societies protect the right to health care, by taking it out of the hands of the giant insurance industry. The right to healthcare is like the right to not be enslaved — there are no half measures, and the insurance industry is the slave master. Roberts may have brilliantly scored a “4-fer” victory: 1.) He now has an interesting historic legacy. 2.) He and his Dem-appointed colleagues have given huge new powers to corporations, and further reduced the rights of citizens. 3.) Any real reform — call it single payer, or Medicare for all — is doomed in bipartisan fashion. The “pragmatists” who are for Obamacare are duped if they think it is going to be expanded to single payer. From this point on, it will only be picked over and further reinvented to empower the insurance and drug industries. 4.) Roberts siding with Dems has probably bounced Obama right out of office. The public overwhelmingly hates Obamacare, and this pours gas on the electoral fire. No wonder Roberts delivered the goods! What a great Right Wing Justice he is.”

KZYX NEWS went off the air Friday night. Newsman Dave Brooksher has been laid off. For now, the station's stumbling management consisting of John Coate and Mary Aigner, says KZYX will offer a morning news roundup, ala KOZT.

PUBLIC RADIO Mendocino County is slowly being strangled by incompetent management kept in place by an equivalently incompetent board of directors. The underlying problem is structural. The tax-exempt, partially publicly-funded apparatus is organized to ensure insider control, meaning much of the public that funds it is excluded from participation.

DESIGNED by station founder Sean Donovan to keep control of KZYX in the hands of a small group of fagged out old hippies and miscellaneous Mendo thumbsuckers, Donovan then billed the station some $30,000 for selflessly bringing public radio to Mendocino County. Most of the 2000-plus people who currently pay memberships are presumably happy with the station's programming. But they've already been milked for all they're going to pay, and new people are not joining as management, paranoid and inept as always, circles the wagons in ever smaller, ever downward spirals.

A READER nicely sums up the state of things at KZYX: “KZYX is like an old horse ready to be put out of its misery. Community is just a fundraising word/tool to them. Their website is a total backwoods joke. The station has had more dead air time than any responsible community station should reasonably have. Programming is lame at best, and rarely compelling, likely due to the fact that they can’t fathom anything staff personally dislike being on the station, including news items and reporters. The programs are stale and the same old shows and DJs remain year after year after year. New shows and fresh programs, particularly music related, rarely appear and rarely last if they do (no new genres are represented and no rap or hip hop at all). The same set of crazy folks call in to all the talk shows over and over and keep calling every time they ask for call-ins or responses. Boring! Better to listen and give your money to KMUD, a true community based station which actually does serve Mendo County as part of their great work.”

AS PART of its “Chasing Rainbows” television series, the National Geographic Channel conducted a poll to gauge how many Americans believed in the paranormal, finding that 11% of US citizens said they'd seen a UFO and another large slice of the population “believed” in them. The figures seem low, especially if you factor in the rest of US devoted to fanciful thinking and crackpot worldviews — Scientologists, Randians, Mormons, Building 7 people, Birthers, and the millions who think Obama is a socialist although they have no idea what a socialist is. I'd also include among the fantasists those of US who believe there is an essential difference between the corporate-owned Obama and the corporate-owned Romney, but that may be a little overbroad as a measure of mass delusion. The only difference between the two candidates that I can see, is that Romney's legions are dumber and meaner than Obama's people; politically, they're pretty much identical. Summed up, it isn't much of an exaggeration to say that a large swathe of the American population is, by any objective standard, 5150 to varying degrees.

ACCORDING TO ANOTHER POLL on the Post Office, this one conducted by the New York Times and CBS News, has allegedly found that 7 in 10 Americans would like to see the PO change the way it deals with its debt, but these polls apparently didn't mention that the rightwing has legislated the way the PO is funded in such a way as to bankrupt it. Also revealed was the ominous statistic that only 3 in 10 people under the age of 45 said they used the Post Office regularly, what with tweet, twits and twerps being their primary communication methods.

HUMBOLDT COUNTY'S Dell'Arte Theater Company is presenting “Mary Jane: The Musical,” a lively, ingenious play based on HumCo's estimated $400 million annual pot business. Sample lyrics: “Why is whiskey legal/ and pot is not? / There's a whole lot of/ folks who like to / smoke it a lot. / You can chug a jug 'o/ liquor till your liver is/ shot, / but don't let 'em catch / you smokin' that pot.”

AND: “I hide in your/ neighborhood, hide/ behind closed doors, / Hear the lamps buzz as/ mold spreads on the/ floors. / Jacked-up housing / prices, skewed / economy. / I am The Industry, it's/ all about me!”

COMMENT OF THE WEEK: “It isn't surprising that Obamacare — crafted as it was with the close oversight of the insurance industry and other 'interested parties' — is ridden with loopholes and escape hatches that favor the capitalist class. If Obama weren't such a go-along-to-get-along stooge of the ruling class, he would have fought for single-payer and “settled” for the public option. Instead, he took single-payer off the table from the outset and conceded the public option with barely a fight, leaving the Republicans with little to oppose but the individual mandate, which, in addition to being a policy they had previously supported, has always been roundly unpopular. This whole saga underlines the fact that the Democrats╒ chief function in America's sham democracy circa 2012 is as a foil. The Democrats adopt initiatives originally proposed by Republicans at the behest of the corporations that own them, and when they do, the Republicans adopt a more extreme right-wing position, which makes the formerly right-wing policy proposal, now trumpeted by liberals as a great advance for mankind, seem moderate. And when this “moderate” legislation is signed into law, Democratic partisans and dupes act like they've not only scored a victory for the “American people” but have defeated “right-wing extremism.” The capitalist class, which owns the economy and the political system, goes along with the liberals as they jump up and down and proclaim that the Democrats are the party of the people. The ruling rich do this by acting really aggrieved and upset that shit they endorsed 15 years ago has been become law. Capitalist democracy is a sham.” — Anon, SF Gate

NOAH SHINN has been sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter for his role in the events described below by Bruce McEwen in June of 2011 when the preliminary hearing took place before Superior Court Judge David Nelson:

UKIAH'S DEPENDENCE on what must have looked like free state redevelopment money to the town's leadership was a bad idea, according to the Mendocino County Grand Jury and dissolution of the state's redevelopment agencies is a “real nightmare” for the “Successor Agency,” aka the Ukiah City Council and such Swiss watch-functioning organizations at the Ukiah School District and various other County entities whose management practices inspire zero confidence. Midway into its investigation of the transition from the state to a Ukiah-led Mendo apparatus, the state de-funded redevelopment agencies, leaving Ukiah to figure out how to continue to fund its share of such major boondoggles as site prep for a Costco, the proposed County Courthouse, the Orchard Avenue Bridge, and the Rorabaugh Gym. Millions of dollars in bonds with Ukiah’s name on them totaling some $177 million are outstanding ╤ comparable, perhaps, in dollar amount to the value of State Street from one end to the other. The grand jury recommends that:

“CITY STAFF should present the Oversight Board with a written timeline of milestones and deadlines.

“CITY STAFF should immediately invite the County auditor to participate in all future meetings of the board.

“CITY STAFF should explain their presentation to the board, so that all members can fully understand aspects of the dissolution process about which they are uncertain.

“CITY STAFF should present the board with a work plan for economic development projects they intend to continue.”

THE GRAND JURY concludes by stating that it is “acutely aware that the dissolution of the URA [Ukiah Redevelopment Agency] will hurt us — the goal of the URA was much-needed job creation, environmentally sustainable growth, affordable housing and the elimination of blight and economic disparity.

"THE DISSOLUTION OF RDAs is a real nightmare — it is a rush job,” the grand jury continues. “There is no blueprint for dissolution. Billions of dollars are at stake during a recession. With dissolution, many good projects go down the drain.

“THE END RESULT of the conflicting instructions from the state, along with the problems of understanding the provisions of the Supreme Court case, are making the dissolution process for Ukiah very difficult and problematic,” the report states. “We cannot end this report on a more somber note.”

DIRT GATE clods on and on. It appears likely that the phantom manager at Mendocino Transit Authority, Bruce Richard, has stuck his agency with a very large clean-up bill.

IF YOU CAME IN LATE, MTA is building itself a lavish new combined bus barn and admin office at its South State Street headquarters. Nevermind that few people ride the MTA's heavily subsidized buses, and nevermind that MTA doesn't need a fancy bus barn and office. The buses run empty because they don't run at convenient times to places convenient to working people. But Richard has been in place for years at the usual grotesquely inflated salary that Mendocino County's non-profit poobahs pay themselves.

DURING CONSTRUCTION of MTA's indefensible Taj Mahal of a bus barn and swank office for Richard, several tons of contaminated dirt were mysteriously trucked out to the Ukiah Fairgrounds where it was used to reinforce the turns on the race track; it was also placed perilously near a children's playground. The dirt then had to be hauled out of the Fairgrounds to distant landfills authorized to safely handle it. Richard, then, will pay twice to move dirt that shouldn't have been moved once. Unfortunately for taxpayers, he won't be paying for his blunder out of his own pocket. MTA's insurer or MTA's ghost bus budget will be tapped for the money.

A GOOD EXAMPLE of how MTA does business is the experience of one of the little guy haulers who helped move 5000 yards of MTA's poisoned to Vacaville. This guy had to go in person to San Rafael to get paid after he'd waited almost three months for his check. If he hadn't gone in person he'd still be waiting.

DELAYED REACTION: “I just talked with our front desk person who read your April 11, 2012 “OFF THE RECORD.” I wanted to let you know we do have a dressing room in our Thrift Store, we just changed its location. As far as theft goes … It has always been and will always be a problem in retail stores. We are simply trying to slow it down by remodeling and visually opening up the store. Hopefully that will make it less convenient for those who choose to steal instead of support our senior population. It really isn’t necessary. We are the least expensive Thrift Store in town! Allyn Nonneman.”

MS. NONNEMAN refers to this item from the April 11th edition: “How bad is the economy? A reader writes: 'The workers at the Willits Senior Center Thrift Store have been trained to spot shoplifters, and the try-on booth has been closed due to layering.'“

LAYERING is a reference to the concealing of stolen clothes beneath one's own garments, and times are indeed tough for lots of Willits' residents.

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