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Mendocino County Today: November 2, 2012

THE GOOD NEWS. The Press Democrat has been sold. The bad news — Doug Bosco bought it. The former Congressman and lawyer represents bad people and worse projects from his Santa Rosa office. And now they have a daily newspaper to promote the private interests of themselves and their friends.

Doug Bosco, Darius Anderson

BOSCO AND FRIENDS are organized as Sonoma Media Investments, a limited liability corporation. One of the other major investors is also a political fixer and Sonoma County investor named Darius Anderson who interned for Bosco back in the 1980s. Anderson went on to become a top aide to Ron Burkle, a billionaire supermarket mogul and major Democratic campaign donor who frequently golfed with President Clinton. When Gray Davis ran for California governor in 1998, Anderson joined the campaign as his chief fund-raiser. After that Anderson, who lives in Sonoma, started his own high-powered/high-priced Sacramento-based lobbying company, Platinum Advisors.

CAN IT GET worse than these two characters? Yes.

OTHER INVESTORS include Stephen Falk, once of the San Francisco Chronicle and now chief executive of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and Bill Hooper, president of Anderson's development firm, Kenwood Investments, and a former executive with Clear Channel Outdoor, the billboard advertising company.

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT and two other SoCo weeklies had been bought from the New York Times by a Florida-based chain. The Times and the Florida people used the PD as a cash cow, steadily dumbing the paper down to its present day condition as a kind of instant prose chloroform. The paper has been irrelevant to the Northcoast since it was sold to the Times in 1985 by the Person and Finley families of Santa Rosa.

Bosco, mid-80s

BOSCO functioned as Northcoast congressman from 1982 until 1990 when, out of disgust at his general political spinelessness and specifically his errands for Big Timber as BT looted the Northcoast of trees and jobs, Bosco was unseated by a Peace and Freedom Party candidate, Darlene Commingore, who took a large progressive vote from Bosco, unseating him for a Bosco-like Republican of zero distinction called Frank Riggs, who was then defeated by now-Mendocino Supervisor Dan Hamburg, but Riggs was re-elected defeating Hamburg who served only one two-year term. Then Riggs was soon unseated by the Bosco clone Mike Thompson in 1999.

BOSCO is married to Gayle Guynup, a Sonoma County Superior Court judge at the time of their nuptials. She is the daughter of the late Victor Guynup, a Humboldt County timber magnate and log exporter. Bosco and friends have a 100-year lease on the old Northwest Pacific Railroad which they bought for exactly nothing. Bosco's former Congressional aide, Mitch Stogner, with lots of help from the Northcoast's entrenched Democrat officeholders — Chesbro naturally, and Thompson of course, manage the tracks along which no train has appeared on a regular basis since 1968.

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Peter & Susan Keegan

SUSAN KEEGAN was murdered two years ago November 11th. The popular Ukiah woman's death was first ruled an accident, then homicide. Since her husband “found” Susan's body in the bathroom of her home he has slandered her memory to everyone who will listen as a pill-popping drunk, but Doctor Keegan himself has since become “a person of interest” in her murder — the ONLY person of interest in his wife's death by means of lethal blows, plural, to her head. Mrs. Keegan was not a drunk or a closet drug person, but a person actively engaged in her community in everything from theater to book clubs. She got up every day and did things. Drunks and drug people do not get up every day and do things. They get up, if they get up, and get loaded. Mrs. Keegan's many friends have steadily lobbied DA David Eyster to arrest and prosecute the obvious perp, and they're getting impatient after two full years of what is beginning to look like a lot of dithering.

Michael Brown & G.W. Bush

REMEMBER BROWNIE? Heckuva Job Brownie? Former FEMA director Michael Brown rolled out with a criticism of Obama for reacting too quickly to the East Coast hurricane-catastrophe: “One thing he’s gonna be asked is, why did he jump on [the hurricane] so quickly and go back to DC so quickly when in…Benghazi, he went to Las Vegas? Why was this so quick?… At some point, somebody’s going to ask that question…. This is like the inverse of Benghazi.”

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INSANITY DEFENSE REJECTED; Norbury found sane at time of killing. By Tiffany Revelle

After less than two hours of deliberation Wednesday, a jury decided Billy Norbury was legally sane when he shot and killed his Redwood Valley neighbor, Jamal Andrews.

The same jury last week convicted Norbury, 34, of first-degree murder and a special allegation that he used a 30-30 Winchester rifle to shoot and kill Andrews, 30, on the night of Jan. 24.

Because Norbury in July changed his not-guilty plea to one of not guilty by reason of insanity (commonly called an NGI plea), his Ukiah defense attorney, Al Kubanis, was tasked with convincing the jury that it was more likely than not that Norbury was legally insane when he shot Andrews.

Insanity is a legal term under state law meaning that because of a mental defect or disorder, the defendant didn't understand the nature or quality of the act, or was incapable of distinguishing between right and wrong.

The jury had stacks of evidence to consider, including recorded phone conversations, surveillance video from the five hours before the shooting and testimony from nearly 40 witnesses from throughout the three-week trial, including the initial phase that concerned only the question of Norbury's guilt.

During the sanity phase of the trial, a psychologist testified for the defense that he had diagnosed Norbury with paranoid schizophrenia, and a psychiatrist testified for the prosecution that Norbury had a paranoid, persecutory delusionary disorder that didn't rise to the level of legal insanity.

Norbury faces 50 years to life in prison for the killing. Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster said previously that if Norbury had been found not guilty by reason of insanity, he could have instead served his sentence at a mental health facility, where he could at some point have qualified for an outpatient program and lived in the community.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled Nov. 30.

JAMAL ANDREWS' MOTHER 'RELIEVED' at verdict in Norbury murder trial

Mendocino County Superior Court Judge John Behnke read the jury its instructions for the sanity phase of the trial just after 2 p.m. and received its verdict just after 4 p.m.

Gasps and crying were heard from among Andrews' friends and family in the courtroom gallery when the court clerk read the verdict rejecting the insanity defense.

“I'm really relieved at the verdict because I think Billy is a dangerous person,” said Andrews' mother, Lucy Andrews, outside the courtroom, adding that she had been worried for the safety of her son's girlfriend, Miranda Mills, and the couple's baby, Kaiden.

“But I feel so sorry for Billy's family;” she said. “It's been very difficult for them, and they seem like such a close, loving family. I really hope Billy gets help. I wish he had gotten help a long time ago. Our mental health system is broken.”

The group of about 20 people gathered to support Jamal Andrews' family exchanged hugs and wiped tears outside the courtroom, and later heard from District Attorney David Eyster, who prosecuted the case, that the defense could still file an appeal.

Courtesy, The Ukiah Daily Journal

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WILLITS BYPASS INJUNCTION LAWSUIT DENIED

CALTRANS PRESS RELEASE: On Thursday, a Federal judge in San Francisco denied a request from a group of five environmental and farming groups to delay the beginning of construction for the Willits Bypass project on Route 101 in Mendocino County. This project will relieve congestion, improve air quality, reduce delays, and improve safety for traffic and pedestrians along U.S. Route 101 through Willits in Mendocino County. This $210 million highway improvement project is funded by $136 million in Proposition 1B funds, the 2006 voter-approved transportation bond.

“We are pleased with today’s ruling denying the requested injunction,” said Charlie Fielder, Caltrans District 1 Director. “Our extensive mitigation plans not only preserve native species and improve the quality of the watershed in the Little Lake Valley, they will also greatly increase the overall quality of fisheries in these headwaters of the Eel River.” The mitigation plans include removing culverts on Haehl and Upp Creeks to open up the headwater sections of these creeks to spawning fish. Installation of natural bottom culverts on Ryan Creek will allow summering juvenile Southern Oregon-Northern California Coasts Coho salmon, a species designated as threatened, to seek summer rearing habitat and greatly increase the species long-term survival outlook. Along all creeks within the mitigation properties, invasive non-native plants will be removed and replaced with native plants. Fencing will also be installed along all of the creeks within the mitigation properties keeping cattle out of the creeks and riparian zones, increasing water quality and fisheries habitat.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION & INFORMATION CENTER Press Release: A federal judge today refused to halt imminent environmental destruction by the California Department of Transportation in preparation for construction of the Willits Bypass, a proposed four-lane freeway to be built around the community of Willits in Mendocino County. Caltrans has awarded a construction contract that could result in cutting of mature oak forests and clearing of riparian vegetation along critical salmon streams as early as this month. “We’re disappointed Caltrans may be able to start cutting trees and destroying streamside habitat in the headwaters of the Eel River right as salmon are beginning to migrate into spawning rivers,” said Jeff Miller of the Center for Biological Diversity. “It will be a shame if irreparable harm is done to salmon habitat before we get our day in court, since we have a strong case that environmental review for the project is weak.” “A $200 million project to bulldoze a six-mile freeway through major wetlands and endangered species habitats while we are facing unprecedented climate disruption is 1950s-style planning — is this the best we can do?” said Gary Hughes with the Environmental Protection Information Center. “We intend to redouble our efforts in this lawsuit to force Caltrans to consider alternatives which will not harm wetlands, salmon streams, endangered plants, and productive farmland and rangeland.” “We will press forward with our lawsuit against this ill-conceived highway project,” said Ellen Drell with the Willits Environmental Center. “We cannot allow Caltrans and the Army Corps of Engineers to use taxpayer money for such extensive damage to our environment just because one intersection in Willits backs up for a few hours a day.” The court denied a motion for a preliminary injunction requested by the Center for Biological Diversity, Willits Environmental Center, Redwood Chapter of the Sierra Club and the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC), despite a pending lawsuit challenging the permits and approvals for the controversial project, which will not be heard until December at the earliest. Although the court agreed there is a risk of irreparable environmental harm in allowing the cutting of legacy oaks and riparian vegetation to go forward before the trial, its ruling could allow Caltrans to initiate tree-cutting and degrade salmon-bearing streams. The court’s ruling is limited, and Caltrans has indicated it will only proceed with “topping” trees and clearing vegetation in the near future. As far as filling wetlands and excavating the roadway, Caltrans claims these activities will not occur until 2013. In the meantime, the court will hear the merits of the entire case.

Background — Caltrans and the Federal Highway Administration are pursuing a bypass on Highway 101 around Willits, supposedly to ease traffic congestion. The agencies insist on a four-lane freeway and have refused to consider or analyze equally effective two-lane alternatives or in-town solutions. The project would construct a six-mile, four-lane bypass including several bridges over creeks and roads, a mile-long viaduct spanning the floodplain, and two interchanges. This would hurt wildlife habitat and biological resources in Little Lake Valley, including nearly 100 acres of wetlands, and require the largest wetlands fill permit in Northern California in the past 50 years. It would damage stream and riparian habitat for chinook and coho salmon and steelhead trout in three streams converging into Outlet Creek, harm the rare plant Baker’s meadowfoam, and destroy increasingly scarce oak woodlands. Conservation groups sued Caltrans and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in May 2012 for violations of the National Environmental Policy Act and Clean Water Act. The California Farm Bureau Federation has since intervened on behalf of the plaintiffs due to its concerns about threats to productive agricultural lands. The plaintiffs contend that Caltrans refused to consider two-lane alternatives and failed to prepare a supplemental “environmental impact statement” for substantial design changes and new information about lower traffic volumes and more severe environmental impacts. The Army Corps improperly issued a wetlands fill permit in February 2012. Although Caltrans documents show that traffic projected to use the bypass is not enough to warrant a four-lane freeway, the agency unilaterally discarded all nonfreeway or two-lane alternatives. New information shows that traffic volumes are below what Caltrans projected when it determined a four-lane freeway was needed.

One Comment

  1. subscriber2@theava.com November 2, 2012

    The decline in quality at the PD over the past year has been matched only by the increase in cost.
    I was thinking about asking for a refund, now I am kind of looking forward to what can only be improvements.

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