CORRECTION. Libby Crawford of Ukiah, correctly identified as companion to Dr. Peter Keegan, also of Ukiah, was incorrectly identified here last week as a member of the Crawford Ranch family. Ms. Crawford is not related to those Crawfords.
HMMM. Let's see if we can puzzle this one out. Dr. Keegan is alone with his wife at the Keegan home in South Ukiah. Mrs. Keegan is found dead in her bathroom. The death certificate quickly concludes her death was accidental, the result of a bathroom fall. More than a year later the death certificate is changed to homicide as the cause of Mrs. Keegan's death.
ONE MORE TIME to see if we've got the facts straight: two persons in the house one of whom is murdered, and the dead person is not Doctor Keegan. Is it safe to conclude the doctor murdered Mrs. Keegan?
THE SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT went wayyyyyyy out on a limb last week to describe the doctor as “a person of interest.”
MY THINKING EXACTLY! So, is the next step the arrest of Doctor Keegan? If not, why not? SB 1221 HAS outdoorsmen angry. It would ban the use of dogs to hunt bears and bobcats in California. The anthropomorphs are in support of the bill, outdoors people opposed. The bill has cleared both houses of the legislature and only needs Governor Brown's signature to become law.
MENDOCINO TRANSIT'S board of directors, all Ukiah people, I believe, meets Thursday, 1:30pm, in the Point Arena Library. Think they took the bus?
ARMED ROBBERY IN POINT ARENA. A Magalia (Butte County) man and his son-in-law were booked into the Mendocino County Jail late Thursday afternoon when they were apprehended after they'd robbed, at gunpoint, the Redwood Credit Union of Point Arena of $50,000 cash. Fred Orlando, 55, of Magalia and Raymon Ojeda, 39, of Pico Rivera, were being held on $100,000 bail, but at their arraignment Monday in Ukiah, Orlando's bail was set at $1.125 million, his son-in-law Ojeda's remained at a $100,000.
ORLANDO, it has developed, has robbed banks before, three times before, and he has a conviction for residential burglary. It was he who was carrying the gun and brandishing it during the robbery of the Redwood Credit Union branch in Point Arena. Orlando's son-in-law, Mr. Ojeda, seems to have been a reluctant participant.
CAPTAIN KURT SMALLCOMB of the Sheriff's Department said one of bandits told detectives they'd targeted the credit union because it was located in a small, lightly patrolled town.
THE STICK-UP occurred a little after 1pm on Thursday when the pair entered the office and ordered employees at gunpoint to empty their cash drawers, threatening the office's clerks and several customers that they'd be hurt if they interfered in any way.
WITNESSES, taking note of the Jeep getaway vehicle, jotted down its license plate number.
SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES and CHP officers were quickly on-scene, and just as quickly determined that the robbers were not anywhere on Highway One. An unnamed Sheriff's deputy and CHP officer Terry Solomon, racing up Fish Rock Road, which leads east to Highway 128 and the Anderson Valley at Yorkville, spotted the fleeing Jeep as it stopped and Ojeda climbed out on the road where Solomon took him into custody.
ORLANDO, the older man, continued hurtling eastbound toward Anderson Valley where Sheriff's Deputy Luis Espinoza and Soloman soon stopped him. Orlando at first refused to exit the vehicle, his hand on a loaded .38 “as if contemplating whether to open fire,” as Captain Smallcomb described Orlando's demeanor. Apparently concluding that it was better to surrender than shoot it out, Orlando gave up.
MAYBE it will be revealed when the robbers get into court, but we wondered if the bandidos had cased the credit union before they knocked it off. Did they know there would be that much cash on the premises? Experienced hold up artists plan ahead, especially their getaways. And one of them, Mr. Orlando, had robbed banks before. There are only three ways out of Point Arena — north or south on Highway One, or east on Fish Rock Road. The fact that the bandidos headed east on Fish Rock indicates some basic planning — outsiders don't know about Fish Rock — but the robber's vehicle gave them away. If they'd had a second car they might be back in Chico buying power mowers and lawn ornaments rather than looking at an automatic minimum of ten years in prison for armed robbery. Mr. Orlando, a four-felony veteran of the state pen might be in a walker by the time he sees freedom again.
SOURCES in the Mendocino County Public Attorney's Association (MCPAA) confirm that our legal eagles have reached agreement with the County to scale back their 12.5% wage cut to 10% in return for granting the County the right to adopt a new, and much less generous, retirement tier for new hires. After stonewalling the County for a year during the previous round of contract negotiations, attorneys in the DA and Pubic Defender's offices finally agreed to the 12.5% reduction under threat of imposition of an even more onerous 15-20% cut. Agreeing to the 12.5% cut was a big come down for a group that had successfully unionized, gone out on strike, and had garnered wage increases in the 40% range back in 2007.
AS COUNTY REVENUES COLLAPSED in 2008 and 2009, the other bargaining groups, led by SEIU, agreed to unpaid furlough days, but the attorneys solidified the vulpine reputation of their profession by continuing to collect scheduled raises while contributing nothing to the collective effort to balance the budget. When contract negotiations opened in 2010 the attorneys demanded raises, a position they stuck to even as the other employee groups (except SEIU, the County’s largest union) agreed to 10% cuts.
THE ATTORNEYS were split between the firebrands in the DA's office and more pragmatic types in the Public Defender's office. The DA's negotiators blustered that they would go out on strike and shut the County down. Unlike 2007, when the Board of Supes, (led by the twin disasters of Delbar and Wattenburger on the right, and the equivalently disastrous Smith and Colfax on the pseudo-left), sued to stop the strike and lost. The current Board of Supervisors, or at least three of them, undoubtedly would have kicked the attorneys to the curb.
IN 2007, the attorneys enjoyed at least a measure of public support, but after failing to make any contribution to solving the County's budget woes, and after a year of insisting they deserved a raise while everyone else was taking cuts, support for the attorneys was non-existent among the public and other County workers. With no public support and a 15-20% cut staring them in the face, the attorneys blinked and agreed to a 12.5% cut.
THE ATTORNEY'S WERE FOLLOWED by SEIU (Service Employee's International Union), the County's largest bargaining group who also stonewalled negotiations for a year. The inept SEIU leadership, which could have reached agreement at a 10% cut at any time, maneuvered themselves into an unnecessary 12.5% cut and stayed there for several months until the membership demanded they be allowed to vote on an agreement with a 10% cut and a fresh retirement tier for new hires. That was back in March.
THE EXPECTATION, as soon as SEIU agreed to 10%, was that the County's lawyers would soon follow. But the split between the firebrands and the pragmatists deepened as the warring camps within the DA's and Public Defender's office split into still more factions. Despite assurances to the contrary, some looked at the new downwardly revamped retirement tier as a Trojan horse that would suddenly burst open and a bunch of Tea Party fat guys would jump out and mug Mendo's attorneys for more.
OTHERS SINCERELY thought that reduced retirement benefits would make Mendo a less attractive place to work, resulting in lower qualified applicants, the ancient war cry of Mendocino County's upper echelon employees being: “We are excellent. You need more people like us? You want the dregs?”
THE ANSWER to that one is, “Go forth, my child, into the free enterprise jungle, and see what your abilities command.” Still others were intent on resuming fullblown negotiations in an effort to restore the entire cut. When all was said and done, the attorneys agreed to the new retirement tier in return for getting back 2.5% of the original cut, a deal they could have had back in March.
ONCE THE DEAL with the attorneys is ratified, the County will be able to adopt a new (and lower) retirement tier for new hires. Workers climbing on board the sinking ship SS Mendo after the effective date of the new tier will work more years for less gold for their Golden Year's. (Ed note: Any public worker who has not made alternative plans for his or her dotage is deluded to think retirement funds are likely to be solvent much longer.) The new tier will result, initially, in modest retirement savings for the County, and greater savings as the new hires shuffle off to retirement.
MEANWHILE, BACK IN FEBRUARY, SEIU launched a so far invisible two-year plan to convince their members that they are getting something for their union dues. Unions in general have suffered a nationwide double whammy with the economic collapse followed by opportunistic right-wing politicians in Wisconsin and elsewhere piling on in an effort to eviscerate the collective bargaining power of unions. But right here in Mendoland, and in many other places, the ineffective and indifferent union leadership has no one to blame but themselves for the constant grumbles they get from the membership.
SEVERAL YEARS AGO SEIU switched from having truly local union chapters in favor of corporate style “locals” based in Oakland or Sacramento. Now all the key decisions, including hiring and firing “local” business agents, are made by corporate union headquarters, meaning lib-twits with little to zero actual work experience attempting to represent working people in a time the rich own government. Mendocino County workers pay thousands every month in union dues and get nothing in return.
SEIU'S TWO YEAR PLAN focuses on 1.) “organizing for the fight ahead” by building strength at the worksites and getting tougher at the bargaining table; 2.) winning public support; 3.) fixing the broken economy by taxing the rich and building a pro-worker political program; and 4.) growing stronger by organizing more union workers.
WHEN SKEPTICS dismissed the plan as nothing but “pretty words,” the SEIU leadership, in a phrase that reeks of the weariest political rhetoric, vowed they would implement it by “holding each other accountable.” So far, SEIU has held local, state and national politicians, banksters, corporadoes, union honchos, and other miscellaneous institutionalized gangsters “accountable” with a distinct lack of demonstrable results. But the rhetoric rolls on and the union dues keep rolling in.
THE TWO-YEAR PLAN is a non-starter locally. SEIU has lost strength at the worksite, both in numbers and in influence, as the County has steadily reduced the workforce in response to declining revenue. Meanwhile, many of the remaining workers are unhappy with SEIU to the point of actively considering decertifying the union. SEIU's efforts to “get tough” at the bargaining table resulted in the workers taking a 12.5% cut when the leaders refused to settle for 10%. SEIU also struck out in efforts to win public support by running an unprepared member of their bargaining team for public office, who made it clear that she was running because she was angry about the pay cut. She lost by a 2-1 margin but the rest of the SEIU leadership praised her for holding the incumbent “accountable.” With accountability like that, here comes Romney.
PAUL KAPLAN, the SEIU political “organizer” sent here by SEIU's executive suites to whip Mendo into shape, so far seems to be as politically tone deaf as the bumbling local leadership. A month or so ago on the Sakowicz KZYX show, when asked how to improve County employee morale, Kaplan responded that we need to restore the 10% pay cut (that SEIU had just voted for) “to bring Mendocino County wages back into the 21st century,” which is a hugely stupid thing to say in this context, and ignores the basic reality of Mendocino County being a financially strapped outback jurisdiction with rapidly escalating retirement and healthcare costs and no local economy, except the underground marijuana economy the feds are determined to keep underground, and therefore beyond the reach of the local taxing authorities. Unless and until the economy comes back, and a source of funds can be identified, talk of restoring the pay cuts is more likely to keep employee morale in the dumps. And since the economy seems to be tied to the national Ponzi scheme known as Wall Street, the chances of a continuing economic collapse seem far more likely than a prolonged recovery.
Ms. Julia Maria Barattino of Concord, 5'4” 135 pounds. She apparently laid one on her sig other and he called the Ukiah PD on her. Appearances can be deceptive. Romney and Ryan, for instance. You wouldn't peg them immediately as psychopaths simply of the basis of what they look like. But as soon as they start talking, well, clearly 5150 the both of them. Ms. Barattino? Clearly not guilty.
GARY HUDSON served as undersheriff for Tony Craver and Sheriff Allman. He retired more than a year ago after being out on paid “stress leave” for almost two years. Hudson has now been granted a service-connected disability retirement by the Mendocino County Retirement Board. Which means that Hudson's already gold-plated retirement benefits, far beyond anything you or I can ever dream of, will now be tax free.
COPS AND FIREFIGHTERS stand alone in qualifying for 3% of their pay for each year of service up to a cap of 90% of their highest year’s salary. With accumulated vacation, sick leave and overtime added in, the highest year of pay often “spikes” so that retirement pay dwarfs the highest base salary ever actually received. Hudson, who almost certainly claimed stress as his disability, had lots of stress in his life, but it stemmed mainly from his bouts with alcoholism, domestic violence and depression. But cops soon learn which helping professionals will co-sign their story of job-related stress while discounting incidents of lifestyle related stress. And if the helping professional did not co-sign, word would soon get around and their phones would stop ringing.
SOURCES AT COUNTY HHSA (Health and Human Services Agency) report that two upper echelon administrators, in charge of homeless services, have been out on extended leave for publicly unexplained reasons. One rumor is that they are on paid administrative leave pending results of an investigation into contract administration. Another rumor is that they went out on the ubiquitous “stress” related leave once questions began to be asked. They are both long time helping professionals who are said to be generally well liked and well regarded by their co-workers. The on-going uncertainty is one more factor that undermines staff morale.
AMONG THE ITEMS on this week’s Board of Supervisors consent calendar is a long list of ancient debt write-offs finally declared “uncollectable.” The write-off is quite large — $736,992.20. The single biggest uncollectable debt is owed by former Coast Cable business owner and convicted tweeker, Gerard Hanneman, once of Gualala before veering off into the white powder. Hanneman owed the County $6,400.
SPEAKING OF HANNEMAN, we find the following from the cornfields of Iowa: “Fairfield Man Sentenced After Federal Marijuana Conspiracy Conviction On August 9, 2012, Joseph Keith Haynes II, age 26, from Fairfield, Iowa, was sentenced to 78 months imprisonment, having previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana, announced United States Attorney Nicholas A. Klinefeldt. United States District Judge John A. Jarvey also ordered Haynes to serve four years on supervised release following imprisonment and pay $100 towards the Crime Victims Fund. Two co-defendants were named in the same indictment. Gerhard Hanneman has pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing. The other co-defendant is awaiting trial. From February 2011 to December 2011, Haynes, Hanneman and others conspired to distribute at least 100 kilograms of marijuana. Haynes admitted that he received marijuana from Hanneman in multiple pound quantities. Hanneman transported this marijuana from California to Haynes in Fairfield. During the conspiracy, Haynes received and distributed at least 100 kilograms [over 220 pounds!] of marijuana, including distributions in the Fairfield area....”
HUMBOLDT STATE in Arcata “has ordered the suspension with immediate effect of the 2012-13 season of the men’s soccer team in connection with a hazing investigation and an investigation has been launched of alleged hazing by HSU’s women’s soccer team.”
TUESDAY'S announcement by HSU's president was followed by this elaboration: “Over the last two weeks, HSU has been investigating troubling allegations of hazing and excessive alcohol consumption at a recent party held by many members of our men's soccer team. We have concluded that a hazing incident did indeed occur. Furthermore, this incident placed the lives of two students in real jeopardy. Because of this, I have decided to suspend the team's 2012-13 season effective immediately. The team will not participate in any California Collegiate Athletic Association games or any University-sanctioned games for the entire academic year. We have also begun an investigation of alleged hazing by members of the women's soccer team. That investigation is in its early stages. Given my understanding of what occurred with the men's team, I am immensely relieved that all of the students involved are safe. I hope that the team discipline, along with individual disciplinary actions, send a clear message that this was unacceptable. Hazing is not tolerated at Humboldt State, not in Athletics and not in any other area. It is vital that our student-athletes, and our entire campus community, understand the seriousness of the situation. Hazing is illegal, and it is prohibited by the student and student-athlete codes of conduct. It has no place at our University. Going forward, we will be implementing a series of additional steps to ensure that students learn about the risks involved with hazing. I will insist that every unit on campus participate in this effort as appropriate, and that they do so cooperatively and seriously.”
IT IS NOT yet known what the hazing consisted of beyond the drop-fall drinking common on college campuses.
REGARDING THE HAZING, Peg Blake, HSU's Vice President for Enrollent Management and Student Affairs, got off this blubbery bit of piety: “I was truly taken aback by this incident and the number of students involved. It's just so counter to the culture of caring and social responsibility at HSU…”
THIS LADY has clearly never been to a football team party, or visited a jock dorm in the wee hours where “the culture of caring and social responsibility” is unknown, and if it were known would be waived for the sake of unfettered merriment. Unless young people have changed radically since I was engaged in late night hijinks, cultures of caring and responsibility are confined to a very, very small number of students, the dozen or so you find at all hours in the library.
THE UKIAH WOMAN killed with her young daughter in a triple fatal crash not far south of Squaw Rock on Thursday has been identified as Mireya Ayala. A still unidentified male passenger with Ayala also died when Ayala unaccountably crossed into oncoming traffic on Highway 101 at Comminsky Station Road shortly before noon where she was broadsided by a northbound Chevrolet Tahoe. Ayala's 4-year-old daughter was also injured in the crash but has since been released from the hospital.
THE TAHOE was driven by Cloverdale resident Tennille Reyes.
MRS. REYES' 8-year-old son, John Reyes, was flown to Oakland Children's Hospital with moderate injuries, the CHP said, while Mrs. Reyes and her four-year-old daughter, Silvia, were taken to Ukiah Valley Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries.
THIS THRILLING headline appeared on the front page of Thursday's Ukiah Daily Journal: “Angled parking to be added near Hillside Health Center in Ukiah.” Yes, a story followed but the prose chloroform had already knocked me unconscious before I got to it.
TA DA! The County has announced a “Communication Plan Progress Report Available Online.” Natch, this masterwork is the labor of the inevitable consultants, a couple of local women paid, so far, $8,000, some $3,000 of which was lifted from the general fund. So far, nada progress on the report.
(WE SUGGEST County communications in English with Spanish sub-titles and, of course, a signer for the hearing impaired and perhaps braille communiqués for the legally blind. We also suggest no words over two syllables and, of course, extra-large print.)
DR. DOUG ROSOFF was killed Friday morning when he was struck by a dump truck at the intersection of East Gobbi Street and South Orchard Avenue, Ukiah. Rosoff was on his bicycle when he was hit by the truck at about 8am. He died at the scene. The accident remains under investigation, but preliminary reports indicate that the driver of the truck simply failed to see Rosoff.
ROSOFF had recently resigned his job as the County's psychiatrist to take a position with the Veteran’s Administration. He was perhaps best known as the presiding therapist at the County Jail. And he was a good one, spending countless hours of unpaid time listening to people who tend to be alone in every sense.
THE NORTHCOAST JOURNAL'S Ryan Burns writes: “Five of [Humboldt] County’s seven incorporated cities won’t see any competition on their November ballots: Arcata, Blue Lake, Ferndale, Rio Dell and Trinidad each qualified just enough candidates to fill the seats up for grabs. Eureka and Fortuna, meanwhile, have just three candidates running for two council seats apiece.”
BURNS suggests several reasons for the candidate gap: satisfaction with the status quo, lack of interest from political parties, the absence of status of local elected offices, a dearth of young up-and-comers, incompetent neophyte candidates, too many job demands, lack of ambition… And, “Former councilman and perennial [Arcata City] council candidate Dave Meserve offered an alternate theory: Since the Green Party (his party) lost its council majority in 2006, he said, the city has been taken over by ‘downtown business interests,’ and voters aren’t satisfied so much as complacent.
ASKED WHY HE wasn’t running this time around, Meserve said he’s focusing on Measure I, a novel proposal to tax high electricity use by grow houses. Plus, he said, ‘I don’t like to lose’.”
BURNS does not consider other possibilities for the dearth of candidates. There's also shrinking municipal budgets, meaning the person elected will spend his or her time mostly saying NO. And the mundane things that could be done to improve local government tend to be the unexciting government basics that your average “activist” or wannabe-politician really isn’t interested in.
IN MENDO'S most recent election, candidates, with the exception of DA Eyster, were vague to mute on specifics. The farther down you go on the electoral ladder, the sillier the campaigns. By the time you get to the school board level you find candidates getting up and saying stuff like, “Your children are the best looking, smartest little bastards I've ever seen. Elect me and I'll keep on lying to you.”
THIS SEASON'S SALMON catch is the best in years but, as we see in the attached statistics, woefully short of the great hauls earlier in the decade:
COMMERCIAL CATCH; 2001, 193,086; 2002, 391,655; 2003, 491,894; 2004, 502,110; 2005, 340,862; 2006, 69,728; 2007, 114,141; 2008, closed; 2009, closed; 2010, 15,088*; 2011, 69,783*; 2012, 150,000**; Source: Pacific Fisheries Management Council (*Limited seasons; **Through July 31)
WE FOUND THIS EXCHANGE attached to the latest Mental Health report to the Board of Supervisors:
QUESTION: I always hope effective administration results in reduced and streamlined 'administration' overseeing (more) robust service delivery. At first glance, it looks like half the FTE’s (full-time equivalents) are administrative positions. Is that accurate?
DIRECTOR STACEY CRYER’S REPLY: “The entire Mental Health staff in Behavioral Health and Recovery Services is now at 46 positions from 120 positions two years ago. The positions consist of 30 (65%) direct service staff, which includes clinicians, care managers, and crisis workers, 6 (13%) program support staff, and 10 (22%) administrative/fiscal staff. Administrative positions are essential positions which serve an entire system of service providers throughout the county. The services provided by the Mental Health Plan have been reduced by about 5%. Behavioral Health and Recovery Services administers the Mental Health Plan and is responsible for the services provided by Organizational Providers and contracts for Mental Health Services Act funding. Administrative positions but these are essential positions which serve an entire system of service providers throughout the county.”
BY OUR COUNT there are 34 line workers “delivering services” with about 35 admin and support people not delivering services.
ON FRIDAY, the State Legislature passed a bill which will prevent undocumented immigrants charged with minor crimes from being deported. Authored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano of San Francisco, local police would be prohibited from detaining anyone on an immigration hold if the person is not charged with or has not been convicted of a serious or violent crime. The bill still needs Jerry Brown's signature to become law, and it is uncertain if Brown will.
THE AVA IS BEING SQUEEZED big time by the Post Office. The people who proudly advertise themselves as getting Netflix to you by snow shoe if they have to, have ceased delivering the AVA in a timely manner, and often not delivering it at all to areas of the country outside Mendocino, Humboldt and Sonoma counties. Most weeks, inside the Emerald Triangle, the paper arrives on Thursdays. Outside the Triangle, Mendo's sole source of real news used to reach the San Francisco Bay Area by Thursday and points east all the way to New York City by Saturday. No more. Bay Area deliveries are at least seven days late. Other areas of the country? Like, whenever.
LAST MONTH, a certain Ms. Rutledge of the mammoth Petaluma Distribution Center, called Boonville to say she was on the case. And for one whole week the papers got where they're supposed to get right on time. I was so elated that a real live Post Officer person was untying our delivery knot I sang Ms. Rutledge's praises in our very next issue. Which promptly disappeared, and has disappeared every week since, as has Ms. Rutledge.
NEXT, we heard from a Mr. Johnston. He asked for a picture of the AVA's front page. We sent him one. Maybe the P.O. was going to put the AVA on the milk cartons in its employee lunchrooms. “Have you seen this newspaper?” Since Mr. Johnston's intervention the paper is even slower arriving most places, and readers are beginning to give up in frustration. Our stand sales are also diminishing. There aren't many newsstands left, and there aren't many bookstores left either, and we depend on both for a large part of our monthly income. But anymore, thanks to the Post Office, readers hustling to Bay Area bookstores hoping to find the paper on the Thursdays it's appeared on for many years, instead find editions two and three weeks old and, often, no paper at all.
WE'RE BEING DRIVEN out of business by the government, it's fair to say. We depend on subscribers and stand sales. We're not the kind of paper that advertisers flock to. For a while I thought it was just the AVA being singled out by the same forces who caused Amelia Earhart to go missing, Building 7 to collapse, and that guy on the Grassy Knoll to get away clean after helping Oswald shoot Kennedy.
BUT TALKING with the honchos of the other papers of Mendocino County, I learned that they, too, have been having delivery problems so severe in Gualala that Steve McLaughlin, editor of the Independent Coast Observer, editorialized about how tardy to non-existent deliveries were getting seriously in the way of his business.
THE LOGISTICS are not complicated. Outgoing papers are separated into different bags by zip code. Jan The Mail Lady faithfully delivers them already sorted by zip to Cloverdale. At Cloverdale, a southbound truck picks up the bags with the AVAs in them and drops them at Petaluma. From Petaluma, they go here, there and everywhere. Except when they don't. Which is every week now. Something is happening to them in Petaluma and/or San Francisco. All these Post Office sons and daughters of motherless bleeps have to do is open the bag and hand the paper or the bundle of papers to the right carrier. Is there room for confusion anywhere in this process? No. So que pasa, cabrones?
BY THE WAY, speaking of advertising, I wrote to our supervisors six weeks ago to point out that the County of Mendocino could save quite a bit of annual money by placing their legal ads in the County's independently-owned newspapers rather than in the Ukiah paper which is not only owned by reactionary outside interests, they charge almost two-thirds more than we do. Not a peep out of any of the supervisors, not that we expected any.
IN THE MEAN TIME, we've drafted the following Uriah-Heepish communiqué to our pal Mr. Johnston of the Post Office: “Dear Mr. Johnston: Our delivery problems have become so bad they're costing us money. Unless the papers are delivered in a timely manner, as I'm sure you know and agree, people simply stop buying them. Here are two letters neatly summarizing what is happening to us:
• 'Dear Editor: I'm writing this letter to explain why I'm not renewing my subscription as due on 8-25-2012. The way the P.O. is now it's taking over a week for me to receive the paper, which I love and look forward to very much, especially since I moved to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada to help my elderly mother. For example, I received the 8-8-12 edition on 8-16-12 eight days later. Ridiculous! I know you have no control over when the USPO delivers mail, but I thought you'd want to know why. I'll miss it very much as a long-time (25 years) resident of the Mendocino Coast. It keeps me up on what's going on in the area. Fondly, Suzanne Mayer, Diamond Springs, Ca.'
• 'Dear AVA Subscription Dept: Please check your records to see if we concur that you cashed my $50 check on 7-18-12. I haven't received a copy of my favorite newspaper in weeks and weeks, and I'm jonesing! Bill Brudage Kurtistown, Hawaii.'
WE WILL MISS Ms. Mayer. Mr. Brundage was all paid up and his paper dispatched from Boonville for years every Wednesday, arriving at Brundage's little grass shack in a timely manner without fail. Without fail, I tell you! But for six months now we've been bombarded with complaints like his.
MY NEXT STEP is to complain to the postal inspectors. I will tell them that the Post Office is now deliberately delaying delivery of the Anderson Valley Advertiser. I say 'deliberately' because this is a simple matter of botched logistics by the Post Office and, by any standard, inexcusable. If there's no resolution with the inspectors, I'll have to bring a legal action against the individual postal employees responsible.”
CENERGY POWER, a Modesto and Carlsbad-based solar company, has announced that they want to install a three-megawatt photovoltaic system on 20 acres in the hills west of Cloverdale. The $12 million installation would be the largest solar collector in Sonoma County. The business idea is to sell power to PG&E for distribution on the grid.
RE THE TERRIBLE MURDER of Susan Keegan, a reader writes: “Give yourself some credit, Bruce.” (Thank you, I will, but Susan was fortunate in her friends who continue to exert serious pressure on the DA to bring the case. We now resume your praise for me.) “Without your coverage and the persistent urging to do the right kind of investigation through your newspaper, this change more than likely would never have happened. You gave Susan a face and a story. Had you not kept up the articles Susan Keegan would have been just another obituary in the UDJ. Eyster seems to be a fairly competent county employee. He and Allman appear to be very open and receptive. Can't say the same for us Clear Lakers over here. Lake County shenanigans...never a dull moment when the Sheriff and the DA hate each other. Throw in a sourpuss supervisor to keep things stirred up and away we go!!”
THE STORY in last week's SF Chronicle began, “The man who gave the Black Panther Party some of its first firearms and weapons training — which preceded fatal shootouts with Oakland police in the turbulent 1960s — was an undercover FBI informer, according to a former bureau agent and an FBI report. One of the Bay Area's most prominent radical activists of the era, Richard Masato Aoki was known as a fierce militant who touted his street-fighting abilities. He was a member of several radical groups before joining and arming the Panthers, whose members received international notoriety for brandishing weapons during patrols of the Oakland police and a protest at the state Capitol...”
HO HUM. It was obvious at the time that the FBI had informers in all the revolutionary groups — black, Asian, Hispanic, white. Would anyone have expected anything else? If you announce yourself as engaged in a violent effort to overthrow capitalism's central government you're going to get police attention. (Duh.) And who knows if Aoki, who became a kind of revered figure in Bay Area Asian curricula, and for years was absolutely a totemic figure equivalent to the Virgin Mary at KPFA, was or wasn't an informant. He's dead, and all we've got is the FBI's word for it, and they're about as credible as that old cross dresser, J. Edgar, who founded the agency. But if Aoki was selling guns to the Panthers and he wasn't working for the FBI, it would be interesting to know how he managed it without being arrested.
THE LEFT “leadership” of the time routinely discredited people they didn't like, or saw as rivals, with accusations that their perceived opponents were working for the other side which, in the event, many of them were.
YOU COULD see disaster coming by '67 when a lot of white puff balls began stomping around in black leather jackets, flashing guns and muttering about “offing” this person or that. To me, then and certainly now, it was all a load of posturing bullshit that accomplished exactly nothing except the murders of mostly innocent people and a total discrediting of even the possibility of an American left.
CLOSER TO HOME, here in Amnesia County during the Redwood Summer period, Judi Bari routinely accused one or another harmless doofus of being an FBI agent simply because this or that doofi had either annoyed or challenged the leadership role she had assumed for herself. Which was just as well that she'd grabbed the reins, because Judi was the only person on the scene with the brains, energy and ruthlessness to pull the amorphous mass of fagged out old hippies, mental cases and alienatos who made up Redwood Summer's Ground Corp, all pointed in one direction — the timber corporations. For a few months there it was exciting, a growing resistance to the distant people destroying the timber economy of the Northcoast via cut and run.
AT THE RISK of sounding like a paranoid, I've thought for years that the Mendocino Environment Center functioned as a federal listening post in the Redwood Summer period, much as the FBI set up phony do-good offices in black neighborhoods during the 1960's to sniff out the radicals. I always found the MEC gloomy and depressing. Judi Bari and I shared many a laugh at some of the characters who hung out there, but I only visited if I absolutely had to. You'd be introduced to some nut case just arrived from wherever, and you'd have to say, “Hello, Tree. Nice to meet you. I like your leaves.” No one had a real name, and a lot of them discredited the political message of the effort simply by their goofy presence. Often, the only seemingly normal person at the MEC was Mike Sweeney, whom we now know to be hyper-normal. Sweeney conveniently made his office there, as did Madam Bari. I thought Betty Ball was mentally challenged and a shameless ass kisser, and I thought Gary Ball was an arrogant little prick. If they were even liberals in any known sense they could have fooled me. The Balls had no visible means of support, which is always suspicious but Mendo, as we know, is teeming with trustafarians, generally the only people who can afford full-time “activism.” Everyone else is at work. When Bari died the Balls bounced back to Colorado where, the next I heard of them, they were denouncing the young people who'd burned down a ski resort, an act which seemed to me totally beyond reproach.
EARTH FIRST!, in the early Bari period, advocated industrial sabotage, a federal crime. Advocating federal crimes brings federal attention. (Double Duh.) The FBI famously sowed dissension among left groups by snitch accusations at the same time the FBI worked to set people up by snagging them in the act of committing major felonies, as they famously did in Arizona during their campaign to frame Dave Foreman. In that one, an FBI agent named Fain persuaded a small group of naifs to go out into the desert to take down a major power line. “I'll bring the explosives,” Agent Fain promised. I've forgotten the details, but as I recall three people were duly packed off to the federal pen. I've always suspected that it was the Cherney-Bari creeps who twice destroyed my vehicles by pouring metal filings in the engine oil. That particular tactic was right out of the Earth First! monkey wrench manual. I'd been non-personed by Bari by that time because I'd told her I believed Steve Talbot's version of the attack on her, that her ex-husband, the most interesting man in Mendocino County, had done it. That stance cost me about five grand in new engines, but it was just the kind of thing these creeps were engaged in around the County at the time. The Bari-Cherney claim that they were only engaged in non-violent resistance is simply one more lie still heard on KPFA and other venues where the credulous gather. I think I was probably the only non-logger whose vehicles they sabbed.
I DIDN'T KNOW AOKI, but I'm not taking the FBI's word that he was working for them, although it seems he was. Anybody running guns at that time was getting a pass for sure.