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Mendocino County Today: August 8, 2012

BILLY MAYFIELD, formerly of Willits, will be out of prison by Friday. Sentenced in 1985 to 17-to-life for the murder of Mark Snyder, also of Willits, Mayfield was held nearly ten years past his release date although he'd amassed a literally perfect record as an inmate. Successive governors had refused to release Mayfield out of fear they'd be seen as “soft on crime.” Mayfield is now 54. He went to prison when he was 28. The late Mendocino County District Attorney, Norm Vroman, described Billy “as a Departmentof Corrections poster child for what a prisoner can do.” Mayfield has completed his college degree through UC Davis, and he's compiled the nearly miraculous prison record of not a single disciplinary write-up in all the years he's been confined.

A READER COMMENTS: “Watching the news on Channel 5 last night (Monday) there was a Chevron ad boasting of their competence and safety-consciousness amidst the reports of the fire… This morning (Tuesday) on Channel 2 news a restaurant fire in SF (common as mud, happens at least once a month) is getting more play than the DISASTER in Richmond. It's obvious that Chevron is in charge of the coverage... Here in Alameda the air was discolored and smelled like car exhaust.”

TRISH BEVERLY describes what was billed as a “School Board Self-Evaluation” occurring Monday at the meeting room at the Elementary School in Boonville:

”THE AVUSD Board Self-evaluation Meeting was facilitated by Paul Tichinin, Mendo County Superintendent of Schools. Generously interspersed with backyard gossip and denigration of other Mendocino school district behaviors, self-congratulatory schmoozing and amusing short films depicting the public, employees and students as so many cattle to be herded through the chutes, for nearly an hour and a half Tichinin reviewed Brown Act restrictions on public participation and the powers of the Board of Trustees, through the CEO, to set policies and make decisions. Dismissing the original document (Brown Act) as “lengthy, boring and dense,” we were treated to a description of going through the channels to achieve coherent communication. The word “Debate” was mentioned as Board responsibility only once.

“IN TICHININ'S VIEW, ‘The Public is not allowed to debate; they are permitted to attend meetings. No exchanges with Board during meetings.’ No reference was made to BP#9220 Recruiting new Board Members, Ed Code cf 9270 responsibility to vote, or Ed Code 35145.5 The right of the Public to place matters on agenda… Given the lack of attention to business at hand, much less debate or discussion, typical of our deliberative body, it is hard to see any action at all. Although our Board members are studiously avoiding planning or discussing policy outside their meetings, they certainly are not discussing it in session. Votes are prompted with ‘I so move,’ voice votes without a roll call, no repetition of motions. Grunt if you approve.

“TICHININ passionately denounced the LA and Alameda school districts for allowing the public to participate in school board meetings and place items on the agenda, asserting that any notion that the electorate has a say in educational policy or school board proceedings was not just wrong but subversive and, tellingly, called the notion ‘the 900 pound gorilla’ lurking right here in Boonville and throughout Mendocino County.

“THE Meeting closed at 4:25, after a 7 minute discussion of the mechanics, not content, of setting a few annual goals, reporting back at intervals throughout the school year. Apparently no Trustees present knew they already had such goals in Board Policy Manual.

”As difficult as it is with such arrogant and presumptuous people in power, keep the faith. — Patricia Beverley, Boonville”

THE MERE FACT that a boob like Tichinin is superintendent of ALL the schools of Mendocino County is a sad, nay tragic, comment on the pathetic state of our public education system. It's no surprise that Tichinin, regionally famous as the school boss who thought the word “niggardly” was a racist slur, doesn't understand that the Brown Act is rooted in the simple assumption that in a political democracy public business should be conducted in public.

TICHININ rose through the criminal ranks of the County Office of Education as two of his colleagues were packed off to jail for crimes that he and sacrosanct figures like Vicky Todd had to have been aware of. People like them thrive in secrecy, hence Tichinin's lesson Monday about how to avoid honoring the Brown Act. One of Tichinin's pals — Jack Ward — was simply helping himself to public property, the other guy — Hal Titen, Tichinin's boss — had removed educational video equipment to the back room of his bar on North State Street where he made pornographic films featuring underage girls. DA Susan Massini let Ward slide with some County time but she was stirred to pack Titen off to the state pen for a couple of years. Ward, last heard of, was still roaming I-5, swooping down on unsuspecting school districts with his administrator's credential. Titen seems to have disappeared.

TICHININ IS THE HIGHEST paid bureaucrat in Mendocino County excepting the Superior Court apparatus. He makes upwards of $120,000 a year and drives to and from Talmage to his home in Fort Bragg in an expensive car paid for out of edu-dollars. He and his family also enjoys a panoply of fringe benefits not enjoyed by most Americans.

AND THIS CHARACTER comes to Boonville to tell the Boonville School Board how to keep the public out of the public's business!

THUMBING THROUGH TICHININ'S mini-mound of misinformation replete, of course, with grammatical and punctuation errors, that the superintendent laid on our school board Monday, we find pages of staggering advice that reads like a bad translation from the Albanian-to-English and back again, many of these clunkers illustrated with wacky photos and cartoons unrelated to the subject matter: “Have robust and respectful dialog at Board Meetings. Agree or disagree as you like, but make good decisions.” And “People are entitled to civility (it's respect you earn). Don't air dirty laundry in public.” Then we get into MCOE's “Vision, Mission and Values” where we learn that Tichinin and Company “act with honesty. We do not compromise the truth and we employ the highest ethical standards.” Anyone who's watched these sleazebags in action would know that there have been only brief interludes over the past 40 years where this agency has been reputably managed.

THE ANNUAL appearance of naked ladies in the sere summer heat always catches us by surprise. You're driving along and suddenly there's a chorus line of them in a most improbable place, as fresh as if they'd been brought forth by an early spring rain. The naked ladies mean that the Gravensteins will soon be in, and that hint of chill at an August dawn is a harbinger of fall. Our seasons are subtle, but we have all four of them.

UPDATED INFORMATION NOTICE from the Sheriff's Department: “On 8-6-2012 The Mendocino County Sheriffs Office sent out an original press release which stated the vehicle traffic monitoring device boxes installed within the Ukiah and Lansing Street area belonged to Cal-trans. The devices were actually installed by the Mendocino County Department of Transportation, in order to evaluate traffic issues in the specified area, at the request of Mendocino Residents and business owners.”

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