AS OF TUESDAY MORNING, the Boonville newspaper of last week had still not reached San Francisco. The week before, it got to New Jersey before it got to Frisco. The various layers of the Post Office bureaucracy no longer bother to respond to my complaints which, at this point, consist of weekly bleatings that I'm paying mightily for second glass service which is merely steerage, if that good. Apologies to our more distant readers, but there it is.
THERE ARE NOW TWO big federal matters on slow boil in Mendo's always burbling caldron; we've got the Mendocino-Kansas dope case that involves several well-known Coasties, and now we've got a demand from a federal grand jury that the feds want our Auditor-Controller to hand over all the records of funds paid to the County under the County's aborted medical marijuana ordinance.
WE'D HEARD that something “big” was up, and “big” appears to be that the feds are seriously in pursuit of the Board of Supervisors and probably the Sheriff, none of whom are talking. If the feds want the money from Mendocino County's dope licenses — several hundred thousand dollars — it's not there. If the feds can't get the money, will they want flesh?
AS WE KNOW, the Sheriff briefly issued permits under local ordinance 9.31 for 'collectives' that “permitted” these 'collectives' to grow up to 99 whoop de doo plants; the County had already allowed 25 plants. All this was a reasonable effort by Mendocino County to garner a few bucks off a wildly profitable, untaxed form of federally prohibited agriculture that happens to be prevalent here.
BUT THE FEDS soon sent a robot-lawyer up from the US Attorney's Office in San Francisco to warn the Supervisors that they could be personally liable if they continued to sell zip ties or otherwise attempted to gain revenue from the production of devil weed. The County's program ceased. And now the feds want to see the records of how much money Mendo gathered from pot permits. The figure we hear is an estimated $500,000 which seems high (sic) to us.
CAN THE AUDITOR produce the receipts? If the feds demand a half mil can the County produce the money? This is going to be interesting.
MENDOCINO COUNTY'S first-ever “Real Thanks, Real Giving” festival brings together Native and non-Native inhabitants of this region to build friendship and solidarity. Harvest feast, speakers, ceremony, and musicians -- including Tchiya Amet, Motherland Family Band, and Pale Robin. Food includes venison stew, vegan options. All proceeds are for a lawsuit supporting American Indians who have recently been disenrolled from their tribes in California. The event is taking place in solidarity with Clayton Duncan, traditional Pomo leader who was recently banished from Robinson Rancheria, despite his family's instrumental role in establishing the rancheria. For more information, see the Anderson Valley Advertiser's August 27th story “The Disenrollment of Clayton Duncan.”
LUIS NOLASCO, Northcoast Motorist of the Month: According to the CHP, On November 21, 2012 a Garberville-area CHP officer observed a green 2004 Jeep Laredo traveling southbound on US-101 at a high rate of speed through Richardson Grove, resulting in an enforcement stop north of the Mendocino County line. The Jeep’s driver was identified by his California Drivers License as Luis Alonso Nolasco (DOB: 12/21/1972) from Paramount, California. While speaking with Mr. Nolasco, the Officer recognized the strong odor of marijuana emitting from inside the Jeep. Mr. Nolasco also related that there was marijuana inside the vehicle. During a subsequent investigation, approximately 111 pounds of processed and packaged marijuana was located inside the Jeep. The marijuana was processed and packaged in clear plastic bags, each weighing nearly a pound. Mr. Nolasco was placed under arrest on suspicion of marijuana cultivation, possession and transportation for sales. The Humboldt County Drug Task Force (HCDTF) responded to the scene and assisted Garberville Area CHP with this incident.”
DEPARTMENT OF UNINTENTIONAL HILARITY. Or your pathos files, depending. Dipping into the depleted coffers of bed tax revenues, the City of Ukiah paid a Walnut Creek outfit called Z Group Communications $21,000 to come up with a logo and slogan to attract visitors to that Paris of inland Mendocino County known as Ukiah. John Arend of Z Group duly managed to come up with a blandly corporate logo but inadvertently hilarious slogan that he says captures the “essence of Ukiah.”
BRACE YOURSELVES — “Ukiah: Far out. Nearby.” Arend told the City Council that he'd surveyed some 100 “well-connected” Ukiahans from whom he'd deduced, “You guys are edgy — you're cool.” (For another $21 thou I'm sure Arend would have said that Willits is like a week in the luxury suite at the Fairmont.) Arend went on to say that Ukiah “evokes an image of fun and intrigue.”
INTRIGUE? FUN? Stop a random citizen of any far-flung County community and ask, “I'm going to Ukiah today. Want to come along?” Incredulous stares, despairing groans. If locals dread a trip to Ukiah, you'll need more than a catchy slogan and a CalTrans-like logo.
A FEW SPOILSPORTS immediately complained that one of the proposed logos (not yet widely available for public review) put too much emphasis on wine, while others kvetched that “far out” evoked the long gone days of full-tilt Hippie, and golly, we certainly don't want to celebrate that ancient horror, although scratch a County official, a well-paid public employee, a superior court judge, and there he is — The Great Shaggy Beast of yesteryear and his Topless Tootsie.
HMMM. Now that I think about it, maybe Ukiah could cash in on the outlaw pasts of its leading citizens. Maybe, just maybe, Ukiah really could be marketed as “intriguing,” perhaps in a slogan along the lines of, “Ukiah: It's Not What It Seems.” Or, “Ukiah: Land of the Instant Makeover.” Or, “Ukiah: Where History Starts All Over Again Every Morning.”
UKIAH'S own native genius, Tommy Wayne Kramer, could surely come up with something far more evocative of the Ukiah vibe, and he'd do it for a six-pack of Pabsts.
ALL THIS IS GREAT FUNZIES, but sad, too, because the $21,000 and the thinking behind it assumes that if the cool people who now spend crowded wine weekends in Napa only knew that Ukiah was “edgy and cool,” our County seat would soon be teeming with awe-struck visitors, the Winnebagos stacked up on 101. But…
BUT MENDOCINO COUNTY, for visitors, is the Mendocino Coast. Period. And it already draws lots of visitors. Inland Mendocino County has the great beauty of unvisited Covelo and the Mendocino National Forest, and there are innumerable beauty spots in the hills above even Mendocino County's dreariest towns, specifically Ukiah and Willits, but they're all on private property. Covelo is not for everyone, but it does boast one of America's most exciting bars, and you can (or could) hike the Mendocino National Forest for days without encountering another person, although lately armed gavachos have converted large tracks of the Forest to industrial marijuana farms.
GETTING BACK to Haiku Backwards, the town has a half-dozen restaurants that serve edible food, and it has the Grace Hudson Museum, delusional as that institution is if you consider it as history, with the talented old girl's depictions of the happy papooses she rendered in the wake of a war of extermination against the papoose's grandparents. There are three truly excellent bookstores that might attract the passing print dinosaur, and there's the Held-Poage historical archive, which is Mendo-centric and hardly a tourist draw. That's it. No tourist will ever make Ukiah an intentional destination because Ukiah, once a pretty, graceful little town has, like thousands of once pretty and graceful little American towns, is now an unplanned hell of fast food pits and big box stores, it's attractive and well-maintained neighborhoods engulfed by the squalor of its commercial structures.
AS A LONG-TIME resident of Groovy County, if I were thinking of spending some time here as a tourist, I'd head for either Fort Bragg or Covelo. Fort Bragg is more for the sedentary, Covelo more for people who like to get out and walk around. Most tourists seem to be sedentary types, but in Fort Bragg you've got sedentary pleasures and you've got miles of trail, much of it right on the Pacific. FB's a coherent, attractive little town — easily the most beguiling between Santa Cruz and Port Townsend in the state of Washington, but it rains in Port Townsend all the time and Santa Cruz is crowded. The entire coast of Oregon, except for Astoria, is like seaside versions of Ukiah and Willits, it's beachfront towns dirty and comprehensively squalid. Fort Bragg, by way of contrast, has nice weather year-round, some very good little restaurants and comes with huge amenities which include the Cannery Row-like Noyo Harbor, an old logging road that runs for several miles along the Pacific, acres of hidden little beaches, a first-rate botanical garden, and several live entertainment venues. And, as you travel north to Fort Bragg, you've got a majorly seductive pit stop in the Anderson Valley, replete with good food, free tasting room booze, virgin redwood groves and, for the truly discriminating, America's last newspaper. Gualala, Point Arena and even Elk (if you're inclined to purple-think, which you can avoid by simply not talking to anyone who lives there), all have their attractions. Ukiah, sad to say, really has nothing going for it.
WHAT HAPPENED to Ukiah happened everywhere in the land, and what happened was that the town's money people withdrew from what small town money people used to regard as their 'civic duty,' meaning, primarily, what the place looked like. Civic pride still exists in Fort Bragg, and in places like Ashland, Oregon. And even somewhat still exists in Ukiah, at least in theory, as a few elected people and Judy Pruden try to make the place presentable. But it otherwise disappeared in Ukiah and everywhere else. Used to be that the money people sent their children off to Europe to get an idea of what the aesthetic standards were. So, for instance, a small town monied savage like, say, Charlie Mannon of the Mendocino Savings Bank, would be packed off to Yurp by Grandpa Mannon and come home saying, “You know, them Frogs are a bunch of snooty bastards but they sure have purty streets. I think we do that here.” And they did, and America was beautiful. But caring about what their towns looked like ceased among outback Babbitts after World War Two, following which it was make as much as fast as you can and go live in a gated community somewhere else. Or stay home and count your money. But whatever you do don't put up an attractive building with it. (Even Babbitt complained that Zenith was going visually to hell.)
A READER WRITES: “I just saw in the UDJ the feds asking for the zip-tie records (and maybe the names and addresses of all the people in the County program.) This is turning into a helluva big story. Exciting times. It is ALL everyone is talking about. And today's Beacon alludes to more warrants and more arrests coming and says the Mendo folks will have their trials in Kansas so they are really tied into the Kansas bunch and all those counts. Their California attorneys will have to have reciprocity with Kansas to represent them there or they will have to hire even more lawyers. I am sure they all have their cash deposited in what I call the Redwood Bank, in other words buried. Pot money has a very earthy odor.”
THE FOLLOWING is a press release from Fort Bragg City Manager, Linda Ruffing: “The City of Fort Bragg has been pulled into a complicated lawsuit that was initiated in June when Georgia-Pacific LLC (“G-P”) filed a complaint in US District Court against OfficeMax Incorporated and Boise Cascade, LLC seeking recovery of response costs that G-P has incurred and will continue to incur relating to the ongoing clean-up of G-P's 415-acre former timber mill site (“Mill Site”) in Fort Bragg. Operations on the mill site were established by the Union Lumber Company in 1885. In 1968, the Union Lumber Company merged with Boise Cascade Corporation who then sold the mill site to G-P in 1973. Boise Cascade Corporation changed its name to OfficeMax in 2004, at which time Boise Cascade LLC acquired the forest products and paper assets of OfficeMax. As former owners and operators of the site, OfficeMax and Boise Cascade LLC may be liable for a portion of the site cleanup pursuant to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Contamination and Liability Act (“CERCLA”). The court filing indicates that, as of Dec. 31, 2011, G-P had expended approximately $31,400,000 in site investigation and clean-up costs at the mill site, and significant future costs are anticipated. In late summer, the City received a Claim for Damages from OfficeMax and Boise Cascade LLC alleging that the City's current and historical stormwater system conveys significant quantities of toxic substances onto the G-P mill site. The complaint asserts that the City is liable to contribute to and reimburse OfficeMax and Boise Cascade LLC for damages and costs. The City rejected the claim and on Nov. 8, the court granted a motion by OfficeMax and Boise Cascade LLC to bring both the City and Louisiana-Pacific Corporation into the G-P v. OfficeMax litigation as third-party defendants. According to Fort Bragg Mayor Dave Turner, ‘The City is prepared to mount the strongest possible defense to save taxpayers from footing any part of the bill for clean-up of the mill site property. After more than a century of industrial operations on the property, it is disappointing that the former property owners have pulled the City into what is likely to be a time-consuming and costly legal battle.’ Inquiries with regard to this press release should be directed to City Manager Linda Ruffing at LRuffing@fortbragg.com or 961-2823, ext. 118.”
DA DAVID EYSTER has announced that career bank robber Frederick Joseph Orlando, 55, formerly of Magalia in Butte County, was sentenced last Wednesday morning to 45 years to life in state prison. He was also fined $5,000. On Aug. 23, Orlando and his son-in-law traveled to the Mendocino County coast to rob the Redwood Credit Union in Point Arena. Orlando had previously researched banks in rural settings where he believed there would be little or no law enforcement and few customers to interfere with a robbery, and he believed Point Arena fit that description. Dressed all in black, Orlando burst into the bank, threatened tellers and credit union customers with a loaded handgun, herded the people into a back room, and then with stolen money in hand attempted a getaway in a car over unimproved Fish Rock Road. Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputy Luis Espinoza, responding from the east, and California Highway Patrol officer Terry Solomon, pursuing from the west, blocked Orlando's escape, took him into custody and recovered the stolen money. According to District Attorney David Eyster, who prosecuted the case, Orlando had previously served over 11 years in a federal penitentiary after being convicted in 1990 of four bank robberies in Southern California. He has also served three prior state prison commitments, one for residential burglary and two for drug possession. Orlando was charged and prosecuted under California's Three Strikes laws because, according to Eyster, “this guy poses an extreme threat to public safety.” In addressing the court during the sentencing hearing, Orlando apologized to the customers and employees of the credit union, and to his family for the embarrassment he has caused, especially to his grandchildren, and to the people of Mendocino County for the resources spent on prosecuting him. But Orlando also noted that he did what he did because he felt wronged by prior financial dealings with unnamed banks. After sentencing Orlando, Judge Behnke directly addressed the defendant and told him that no matter what Orlando's feelings were toward banks in general, the judge said he was absolutely certain that the people, customers and credit union employees in Point Arena had never done Orlando wrong and to victimize them in this manner could never by justified, an admonishment which Orlando agreed with. The co-defendant, Raymon Jesus Ojeda, 40, of Pico Rivera, also pleaded guilty to bank robbery and a gun allegation Monday. Eyster had alleged that Ojeda acted as a lookout at the front door of the credit union and tried unsuccessfully to stop one customer from fleeing when that customer realized he was caught in the middle of an armed robbery. Ojeda will appear for his sentencing on Dec. 28, and can receive a sentence of up to six years in state prison, according to Eyster.
FACTOID ONE: Walmart employees receive $2.66 billion in government help every year, or about $420,000 per store because WalMart, with $13 billion in profits last year, doesn't pay a living wage to many of its workers.
FACTOID TWO: Each San Francisco Giant received $377,003 for his share of playoff and World Series money.
TRA, a Lost Coast Outpost commenter, on the federal demand for Mendocino County's attempt to regulate and tax the pot industry: “Disgusting. Mendocino tries to protect the environment and reduce the negative social impacts of an underground industry, and here come the Feds to bust the responsible growers who volunteered to take part, and to threaten the county officials who had the audacity to actually try to do something constructive amidst the wreckage of Prohibition. Nope, can't have that. Instead, the Feds continue their scorched-earth policy, aggressively targeting a county that threatened to succeed in managing cannabis growing in a rational fashion, which would obviously be a huge embarrassment to the eradication/incarceration model that has failed so spectacularly, for so many years. In the meantime, it's going to continue to be an ugly, messy fight, with plenty of direct casualties and even more ‘collateral damage.’ Understandably, most growers, sellers, and consumers will just try to keep their heads down and continue the most basic form of resistance — simple noncompliance. And most elected officials and law enforcers will also keep their heads down, attempting to clean up at least some of the endless messes caused by the War on Pot, but not directly challenging the Pot Warriors. But more and more people, including millions of everyday people, some public officials, and now even some growers and some law enforcers, are directly and publicly challenging the wisdom and the legitimacy of the War on Pot. Whether I agree with all the particulars of a given model for legalization, I'm glad to see the overall movement gaining momentum, and I appreciate those who are willing to put their ideas out there into the crossfire of criticism that inevitably comes from both those who complain that their model for legalization goes too far, and from those who complain that their model doesn't go far enough — including some on both sides of that argument who stand to gain plenty from the continuation of the status quo. It's going to take a lot of waves of pressure, and there will be just as many waves of backlash, before the failed enterprise of Pot Prohibition is finally abandoned. But it's a struggle we can't afford to shy away from — after all, if we can't stop our government from waging an unjust war on it's own populace, how can we hope to stop it from waging war unjust wars abroad? This is where the differences between the Colorado and Washington state laws may quickly become apparent. While both states enacted regulations and permitting regimes that can be attacked by the Feds in the same way that the Feds have gone after the Mendocino zip-tie program, threatened Eureka and Arcata with prosecution of their public officials, etc., the Colorado law also includes a grow-your-own provision where anyone can grow 6 plants of their own, with no permit from the state. Growing those 6 plants would still be illegal according to federal law, but as a practical matter, the Feds simply do not have and will never have the resources to go after tens of thousands of individual Colorado residents each growing 6 plants. And current precedent resulting from court cases that arose out of Prop 215 in California have already established that the Feds can't force state law enforcement agencies to enforce federal laws for them. Whatever happens with the regulations and permitting regimes for commercial growing, distribution, sales and taxation, I think the grow-your-own provision and the end to state-level prohibition of simple possession (of small amounts) will have a significant positive effect in Colorado. If the Feds succeed in blocking Colorado from implementing it's ‘regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol’ model for commercial-scale growing and selling — while at the same time, anyone can grow 6 plants entirely free of state interference, and (as a practical matter) almost entirely free of federal interference — I wouldn't be surprised if the result is that a huge number Mom and Pop growers end up filling that void. Most Humboldt growers might laugh at the prospect of growing just 6 plants (though that wasn't so true just a few years ago), but I'll bet there are plenty of Colorado residents who won't.”
THE MUCH DISCUSSED drug arrests of well-known Mendocino people focus more on James and Sarah Soderling than any of their alleged Mendocino confederates. The Soderlings apparently split time between their county of origin, Mendo, and Kansas. The feds are describing the Soderlings as the link between the Kansas headquarters of the alleged conspiracy and the five prominent residents of Mendocino, all of them either presently functioning as volunteers with the Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department or past fire department volunteers. Two of the Coast bustees, John McMillan and his wife, Erin Keller, have returned to duty with the Volunteers. Jeff Wall functions as contractor on the Mendocino Coast and Hank McCusker as a property manager. Rick Smith has coached football at Mendocino High School. All seven have entered not guilty pleas and are represented by renowned drug defense attorneys, who include Tony Serra. The federal indictment says that James Soderling “is a known high grade marijuana distributor” and pot “broker” whose wife, Sarah, was equally complicit in Soderling's alleged Mendo-Kansas import-export business. The feds claim that the Soderlings arranged for Mendo bud to be shipped to Kansas, Kansas shipped the cash back to Mendo from a Kansas “motor sports shop” to a Soderling business based in Hayward called “California Connection.” (“California Connection” wouldn't seem to be the wisest name for a pot op, but that's the allegation.) Mrs. Soderling, at home in Fort Bragg, has been ordered by the federal court not to have any contact with her Kansas-based husband. The feds, among their many claims, say they intercepted a Soderling-inspired FedEx package containing $84,700 sent from Kansas to their business in Hayward.
I THINK I HAVE AN IDEA how to help with Fort Bragg's request “for the public's help in identifying potential illegal or unsafe marijuana-growing operations in the city.” Get search warrants for half the town's structures. If the dope's not there get warrants for the other half.
THE FBPD and the city's code enforcement staff have, over the recent past, found a number of outlaw grows within the city limits characterized by “shoddy and overloaded electrical wiring which has resulted in structure fires which damaged property and put occupants, neighbors and public safety workers at risk.”
FORT BRAGG, in 2009, attempted its own guidelines for weed production. You can grow devil weed but.... “It is illegal in Fort Bragg to grow marijuana for sale or for recreational use; outdoor cultivation is prohibited and indoor cultivation is strictly limited; medical marijuana cannot be grown in a rental unit unless the tenant has the property owner's written permission; there must be no evidence of marijuana cultivation visible from the street; no more than 50-square-feet of floor area may be used for cultivation; cultivation is not permitted in the kitchen, bathroom or primary bedrooms of a residence (hence several busts that found grows in the kids' bedrooms; grow-lights cannot exceed 1200 watts total and all electrical wiring must be installed and permitted in accordance with applicable building codes.” Fort Bragg's regs don't appear to have been widely adhered to.
REACH Medical Holdings, the Santa Rosa-based air ambulance service with operations in three western states, has been sold to Bain Capital. Next time you're airlifted out of some deep outback locale, know that you're in good hands with Mitt.
REACH was founded in 1987 by Santa Rosa Dr. John McDonald who realized lots of people were living in the boondocks, and if every muffin living on every hill between The Rose City and Laytonville bought a membership well, there was money to be made, lots of it.
LARRY HAGMAN, RIP. (from Jan Tucker). To understand the mostly private political viewpoint of Larry Hagman, a longtime member of the California Peace & Freedom Party, you first have to look at the context of his mother’s career. Mary Martin won Tony Awards for her Broadway appearances in South Pacific and Sound of Music. Look at the times and the themes: an attack on racism where she risked getting blacklisted and an explicitly anti-fascist movie. The play was based upon James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific. Michener was a principled liberal and later served as Bucks County Pennsylvania Chairman of John Kennedy’s presidential campaign in 1960. When Kennedy won the state, Michener was Secretary to the Pennsylvania College of Electors convention. When Mary Martin starred in the role of Nellie Forbush in 1949, it was not exactly without controversy, as explained in the Wikipedia Article: “The musical explores the theme of racial prejudice in several ways. Nellie struggles to accept Emile’s mixed-race children. Another American serviceman, Lieutenant Cable, struggles with the prejudice that he would face if he were to marry an Asian woman. His song about this, ‘You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught,’ was criticized as too controversial for the musical stage and called indecent and pro-communist. While the show was on a tour of the Southern United States, lawmakers in Georgia introduced a bill outlawing any entertainment containing ‘an underlying philosophy inspired by Moscow.’ One legislator said that ‘a song justifying interracial marriage was implicitly a threat to the American way of life.’ Rodgers and Hammerstein defended their work strongly. James Michener recalled, ‘The authors replied stubbornly that this number represented why they had wanted to do this play, and that even if it meant the failure of the production, it was going to stay in.’ Now, here’s the song Wikipedia references, “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught–”You’ve got to be taught
/ To hate and fear,
/ You’ve got to be taught /
From year to year,
/ It’s got to be drummed
/ In your dear little ear
/ You’ve got to be carefully taught. You’ve got to be taught to be afraid /
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
/ And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
/ You’ve got to be carefully taught. You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
/ Before you are six or seven or eight,
/ To hate all the people your relatives hate,
/ You’ve got to be carefully taught!
LARRY HAGMAN joined many literary and entertainment industry members in joining the Peace & Freedom Party when it qualified for the ballot in 1967 in California. Amongst others, California PFP members included: Ray Bradbury, Jan Michael Vincent, John Saxon, Wally Cox, James Coburn, Berton Schneider (Producer of Hearts & Minds), George Clayton Johnson (Screenwriter of the second most “Twilight Zone” series after Rod Serling), Barbara Eden (used to throw Black Panther fundraisers with Larry at her pad), Biff Rose (Comedian), Al Lewis (Grandpa Munster, later Green Party gubernatorial candidate in New York), Jorma Ludwik Kaukonen Jr. (Guitarist of Jefferson Airplane fame), Calypso Joe (former Vaudevillian turned Anti-Vietnam War activist “General Hershey Bar”)Apparently afraid that he could risk blacklisting like his mother while portraying J.R. Ewing in the original Dallas series and basking in the popularity of the role that spawned “J.R. For President” bumper stickers throughout America, Hagman re-registered for a time as a Republican. Later he re-joined the Peace & Freedom Party with his fame and fortune established to a point where he didn’t have to worry. Anyway, with his death on Friday, the real Larry Hagman, the lifelong radical, will be missed by me, while others will be missing the J.R. Ewing that he really wasn’t.”
A HUSBAND AND WIFE are dead, and their 16-year-old son is still missing, after all three were swept out to sea Saturday afternoon in a tragically failed attempt to rescue their family dog. The three fatalities occurred between noon and 1pm at Big Lagoon some 32 miles north of Eureka about 12:40pm. The family has been identified as Mary Scott and Howard Kuljian and their son Gregory “Geddie” Kuljian of Freshwater, Humboldt County. The dog survived. The Kuljians are survived by their daughter, Olivia, 18, She was on the beach looking on as her family was taken.
CALTRANS has announced it's giving MTA (Mendocino Transit Authority) $174,708 to help “continue the Ukiah Valley Evening Bus Service,” which Caltrans describes as “a highly successful route which runs on 30-minute headways until 6pm weekdays. We want to make it easier for people to get to work,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “People who rely on transit will have more opportunities, and that's the point of a good transit system.”
IF THE IDEA is customer service, then why give MTA$174,708? MTA is already subsidized to the tune of about $12 per passenger to provide a “service” of almost zero utility to the people of Mendocino County because it runs at inconvenient times to anyone who has to get somewhere on time, like a job. Can you commute to Ukiah from anywhere in Mendocino County outside of Ukiah? No. Has the agency's director, Bruce Richard, resolved Dirt Gate, the fiasco that saw tons of contaminated soil moved from MTA's headquarters on South State to the Ukiah Fairgrounds on North State only to be pronounced hazardous and moved again, at even greater expense, to distant landfills? All this earth moving cost MTA a lot of bus fares and remains unresolved.
WHAT MENDOCINO COUNTY really needs in the way of public transportation is a fleet of small buses or vans that depart every area of the County about 6:30am for Ukiah and returns from Ukiah at 5:30pm for the return trip to the vast Mendo outback.
ALL THE MTA EARTH MOVING, incidentally, began when Richard and his palsy-walsy board of directors — the usual Mendo good government menaces like Richard Shoemaker and Jim Mastin, etc. — decided to build themselves a new MTA complex, including bus barns and, naturally, a suite of offices for the agency's hard hitting leadership. Richard has been in place for years, all the way back to the inception of the MTA boondoggle.
SODDEN THOUGHT DEPARTMENT. America would work better if every Monday morning everyone's job performance was critiqued as thoroughly as the previous week's football games. What do you suppose video replays of, say, Bruce Richard at MTA, Paul Tichinin at the Mendocino County Office of Education, State Senator Wes Chesbro, the editors at the Press Democrat etc, would show? Absolutely nothing! Nothing, I tell you!
EVIDENCE of their job performances? Their work product. I rest my case.
COMMENT OF THE DAY: “The reason I gave up cannabis in my early 20s is pretty much precisely this. I went from the point of really enjoying a joint in my teens to the point where it was my solace when I was down (which seemed to be more and more), to the point where smoking one would make me anxious, confused, extremely depressed; and with irrational feelings of dread and insecurity that were beginning to border on clinical paranoia. I spent some time trying to find different ‘brands’ but in the end I had an epiphany and stopped altogether.” (anon, on-line comment)
A READER WRITES: “Just read the latest on the coastal dope bust. Sounds like they were primarily brokers. I wonder if they'll roll on their suppliers? Nine years in the Kansas pen might give a rich ganja guy (or girl) pause. Of course, if they can get a change of venue to Mendocino, they'll all walk after two weeks in rehab.”
BIG CASES COMING UP In Mendocino County Court. By Tiffany Revelle — Court dates are scheduled in the next two weeks for nine defendants facing murder and attempted murder charges in six separate cases that are proceeding through the Mendocino County Superior Court.
RICHARD M. PERVIER & JOSHUA R. STREDWICK, both of Ukiah, were arrested in connection with a September stabbing at Denny's in Ukiah that left three Willits residents injured. The Ukiah Police Department on Sept. 1 arrested Stredwick, 32, on suspicion of attempted murder in the incident, and Pervier, also 32, remained at large until last week. Pervier is due in court at 1:30pm Tuesday to confirm or reschedule a 1:30pm preliminary hearing set for Dec. 4. The preliminary hearing is the district attorney's chance to make a case to the judge that there is enough evidence to try the defendants for the crimes. Stredwick is due in court at 8:30am Friday for arraignment -- where he will be informed of the charges against him -- and for a status conference. The charges stem from a Sept. 1 incident, when it was reported at 4:13am that three people had been stabbed at Denny's on Pomeroy Avenue. Officers responded and learned that two men, later identified as Stredwick and Pervier, entered the restaurant and walked up to a seated customer in the back, where one of the men reportedly began punching the man in the face repeatedly without provocation, the Ukiah Police Department stated previously. When the seated man's companions came to his aid, the second man allegedly pulled out a knife and repeatedly stabbed two of the victims. Stredwick and Pervier reportedly ran from the restaurant, and the three Willits residents were treated for their injuries at Ukiah Valley Medical Center, according to the UPD.
ALSO ON FRIDAY, WILLIAM H. CROCKER, an accused co-conspirator in a fatal shooting last summer at the Bushay Campground at Lake Mendocino, is due in court at 8:30am for a motion hearing. Crocker and Arone Schnebly, one of four men accused in the shooting, allegedly held guns on the group of people at a campsite in the July 20, 2011 incident when they got out of a car driven by Marvin D. Johnson, intending to rob the group of marijuana and cash, witnesses testified previously. According to witnesses, Crocker twice fired the pistol he wielded, killing Joseph E. Litteral, 40, of Willits, and injuring Brandon Haggett, 21, also of Willits. Johnson testified in June that Haggett came at Crocker when he and Schnebly held guns on the group, and that the fourth man, Simon Thornton, backed Crocker on Schnebly's orders. According to Johnson's testimony, Thornton swung his bat first on the back of Haggett's head and then on Litteral's arm, breaking it, when Litteral came to Haggett's aid. Johnson said he heard Crocker fire the pistol twice, and that Schnebly never fired the shotgun. Litteral and Haggett were both hit in the chest. A jury in June convicted Johnson and Thornton of first-degree murder and attempted murder on the premise that they aided and abetted in the crimes. The charges included a special allegation that the key perpetrators in the shooting were armed with guns. Johnson was sentenced to spend 25 years to life in prison; Thornton was sentenced to 34 years to life in prison.
JAIME A. ZAMBRANO, MARCOS VASQUEZ & JORGE ALVARADO, accused in the September stabbing of a Ukiah teen, are due in court at 9 a.m. Friday for a preliminary hearing. The UPD stated previously that the Sept. 20 incident, which left the 16-year-old boy severely injured, was gang-related. The incident reportedly started around 5:50pm, when several callers from the Vinewood Park area reported seeing a large fight and finding the teen stabbed in the 1600 block of Lockwood Drive, according to the UPD. The 16-year-old victim was air-lifted to a hospital out of the area, where he was reportedly in the hospital's intensive care unit for nearly a week before stabilizing. Witnesses reported seeing people chasing each other at the scene, some carrying weapons, and seeing a vehicle hit a curb as the driver tried to run a man down, according to the UPD. The teen victim was also reportedly seen trying to run into a house before he was overtaken by a group of people who allegedly threw him to the ground and attacked him. Another car picked up several people involved and drove away, and the teen was found lying in the entryway of the house he was trying to enter, stabbed and pleading for help, according to the UPD.
BILLY MORIAH NORBURY, 34, is due in court at 1:30pm Friday for sentencing after a jury in October convicted him of shooting and killing his Redwood Valley neighbor, Jamal Andrews, 30. The jury found him guilty of first-degree murder and a special allegation that he used a 30-30 Winchester rifle to kill Andrews on the night of Jan. 24. The same jury a week later found that Norbury was legally sane when he pulled the trigger, despite his attorney's entering a not-guilty-by-reason-of-insanity plea on his behalf. Andrews' live-in girlfriend, Amanda Mills, testified during the three-week trial that Norbury had twice visited the couple's home unannounced and after dark before the night of the shooting, the first time demanding that Andrews come outside, and apologizing the second time. Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster argued in court that Norbury killed Andrews because he mistakenly believed his estranged wife was having an affair with Andrews. During the sanity phase of the trial, psychologist Dr. John Podboy testified for the defense that he had diagnosed Norbury with paranoid schizophrenia, and psychiatrist Dr. Donald Apostle testified for the prosecution that Norbury's mental disorder was a “paranoid, persecutory delusionary system” that didn't rise to the level of legal insanity. Norbury's friends and family testified in court for the defense that they had witnessed the defendant's delusions and hallucinations in the months before the shooting. Eyster reminded the jury in his closing arguments to focus on the defendant's state of mind the day of the shooting and immediately afterward. Norbury faces 50 years to life in prison for the killing. 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.
CHRISTOPHER A. SHINN, the son of ringleader Noah Shinn, is due in court Dec. 3 to be sentenced for his part in fatal 2010 attempted marijuana robbery. The elder Shinn was sentenced in June to spend 20 years in state prison after he pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter. Noah Shinn was charged in connection with the shooting of a young Sacramento man during the home invasion robbery at a rural Laytonville residence. Deputy District Attorney Ray Killion successfully argued during a 2011 preliminary hearing that even though the homeowner fired the fatal shot in self-defense that killed masked robber Timothy Burger, Noah Shinn was legally responsible for Burger's death. Noah Shinn was accused of planning the marijuana robbery, and organizing two young men, along with Shinn's son, to act in unison to perpetrate the actual robbery. The senior Shinn remained outside while the trio forced their way into the Laytonville home. Christopher Shinn and Tyrone Bell allegedly entered the house with Burger, two of them carrying handguns. According to prior testimony from Christopher Shinn, his father planned the attempted heist, driving them to the home next door and making them wait in a shed for hours until he came back with gloves, guns and pepper spray. He said his father's plan was for Christopher Shinn to go in first and spray the home's occupants. Burger was to “wave the gun” and tell people to get facedown on the floor, and Bell was to ensure compliance with the pellet gun, Bell testified previously. Once the homeowners were subdued, the plan was for someone to get Noah Shinn and to take marijuana from the house and a shed out back, according to Christopher Shinn's testimony. Shinn's son Christopher and Tyrone Bell are the surviving accomplices in the home invasion. Christopher Shinn, his father, and Bell were charged with murder under the Provocative Act Doctrine, but the two younger men accepted plea bargains in May 2011 to lesser crimes in exchange for their testimony for the prosecution's case. Christopher Shinn admitted to attempted first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary with a firearm and using tear gas. He faces a maximum sentence of nine years and eight months. Bell has pleaded guilty to first-degree burglary with a special allegation that he was armed. He faces a maximum sentence of seven years.
KENNETH L. WIL-KINSON, 22, stands accused of torturing and killing his 84-year-old grandfather in March, and is due in court at 9am Dec. 7 for a pretrial conference. Wilkinson could face life in prison without parole if he is convicted of killing his 84-year-old grandfather, Richard Mel Wilkinson, and a special circumstance that he tortured the elder Wilkinson by dragging him behind a pickup truck for nearly six miles on the night of March 17, according to the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office. Wilkinson would be automatically eligible for the life-without-parole sentence if the special circumstance of torture is found true, the District Attorney's Office stated previously. Wilkinson's attorney, Mendocino County Deputy Public Defender Farris C. Purviance III, said the case required extensive preparation and asked the court in June for a February trial. The trial was set for Nov. 5, with a provision that Mendocino County Superior Court Judge John Behnke may grant a continuance if Purviance showed good cause. Purviance didn't elaborate in court on why he wanted the continuance, but had said previously that the question of how and when the elder Wilkinson died would be an issue in court. Early results from a March autopsy show that the 84-year-old man died of “multiple blunt force trauma,” pending toxicology analysis, according to the Mendocino County Sheriff/Coroner's Office. Authorities were called just after 11 p.m. the night of the incident to an East Hill Road home after family members reported that some kind of assault had taken place and that the elder Wilkinson was missing. Deputies searched the area and found the elder Wilkinson dead, apparently dumped down a steep, brushy hillside off of the winding, dirt-and-rock Mariposa Creek Road. (Courtesy, The Ukiah Daily Journal)
HENRY COCKBURN was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2002 at the age of 20. Before that he was a heavy cannabis user. His father, Patrick Cockburn, The Independent's (England) award-winning foreign correspondent, has long wondered whether the two were linked and spent months speaking to the world's leading experts in the field. In a four-part series to run in the Independent prompted by his son's condition, he will examine the medical evidence linking sustained cannabis use with schizophrenia, before going on to look at the way the mentally ill have been let down by the health service and stigmatized by public opinion, and concluding on Thursday with his manifesto for a more humane and effective system – accompanied each day by Henry's account of his journey from psychosis to a normal life.
FROM COCKBURN'S INTRO: “For cannabis it is the “tobacco moment.” The long-suspected link between consuming cannabis and developing schizophrenia has been repeatedly confirmed by recent studies. Observers say that for cannabis the present moment is similar to that half a century ago when scientific proof of a connection between smoking tobacco and cancer became so strong that no serious doctor or scientist could deny it…”
INTERNET COMMENT re the above: “If anyone reading this is contemplating suicide, remember this: DEPRESSION LIES. It lies to you. It tells you that you are alone: you are not. It tells you that your life won't change: it will. It tells you that this is the only option: it isn't. DEPRESSION LIES. Don't believe it for a second.”
BACK IN BOONVILLE, I can say from my experience that I've seen quite a depressing number of prematurely heavy young pot smokers from the Anderson Valley come to a bad end, and I'd further say that I agree with Cockburn that there's a direct correlation between early pot smoking and adult mental illness, an opinion confirmed daily by a simple glance at Mendocino County's population.
THE TRUE STATE OF THE NATION as summarized by Jim Dodge: “I think that we're screwed. Just pick your poison: Rampant obesity and the rapidly declining health of Americans; Peak oil; Peak phosphate/rare earths/etc. Medicare collapse (when every obese Boomer hits 65); Social Security collapse; Weather-related disasters; Fed printing money like no tomorrow; Global food shortage (starting in a few months); Impending Mideast wars (already started); 50% high school dropout rates in cities (social time bomb); Students going deep in debt for worthless degrees; Eurozone collapse; Corrupt and stupid federal government; Little Debbie taking over Hostess. I mean, we are really screwed.”
A READER WRITES: “Hoping Ms. Audet finds a better path with a future. It was quite a surprise to see her. Thanksgiving afternoon we were at the Harvest Market in Fort Bragg. The moment offered an actual celebrity spotting when we saw the infamous Ms Audet, red faced and wearing well-worn clothes, walk by with a dog that looked vastly more healthy then she did. The pooch was a stout and well fed Pit-bull and maybe Mastiff mix. Nothing to mess with as far as dogs go. Later that evening she was observed walking towards the homeless encampment below the south end of the Noyo Bridge. We wish her well as she makes her way through life, in self-destruct mode or just a happy girl living the good life as the party continues.”
HUSBAND takes the wife to a disco. There's a guy on the dance floor giving it large — break-dancing, moon-walking, back flips, the works. The wife turns to her husband and says: “See that guy? 25 years ago he proposed to me and I turned him down.” Husband says: “Looks like he's still celebrating!!!
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT is like reading the daily diaries of amnesiacs. Chris Smith's column on the Bari “mystery” in last Wednesday’s paper is typical of how the Rose City daily operates. It's as if the subject is brand new, that there's no history of the big event in the PD's own pages, not to mention a thousand other places. But here's Smith swallowing whole Cherney's nonsense that he's doggedly in pursuit of truth and justice, this time with a movie, hoping against hope to get to the bottom of what really happened to the old girl. The breathtaking Bari Bombing scam is, of course, swallowed whole by Amy Goodman, the Pacifica Network and the droolingly credulous among Mendocino County's political nut fringe.
CHRIS SMITH of the PD has it all completely wrong, so comprehensively wrong I wonder about the guy's mental capacity. In living fact, Cherney's out there with a bogus film mostly about his tedious self, still trying to cash in on the biggest event of his life, an event he's lied about and lived off since the day it happened 22 years ago.
SO I ZIPPED off an e-mail to the Press Democrat columnist: “Dear Chris: Your piece on the Bari movie assumes the alleged mystery is somehow beyond solving and that Cherney wants to solve it. You might ask Bleys Rose and Mike Geniella what they think of the “mystery.” They'll probably tell you that all the evidence points straight at Judi Bari's former husband, Mike Sweeney, currently the love interest of the PD's Glenda Anderson. Moreover, in 1990, as you should recall, an honest documentary film by Steve Talbot, later of PBS and Frontline, and also called Who Bombed Judi Bari, pointed straight at Sweeney, a 60s radical who belonged to a violent, cult-like group responsible for bombings in the Bay Area. Talbot also stated on Belva Davis's “This Week In Northern California” program that Bari had told him she was certain Sweeney had bombed her. You might profit from a look at the Bari archive at the AVA's website, which can be found at www.theava.com As Talbot, Geniella, and any number of other persons who have seriously looked at the case, will tell you, the case can be solved by DNA. I'll spare you that explanation but it's also on our website. What we really have here is an ongoing scam orchestrated by Cherney who, of course, puts himself up front in this hagiographic epic. He literally can't afford to find out Who Bombed Judi Bari. He'd have to give all the money back. Best, Bruce Anderson, AVA
CHRIS SMITH REPLIED: “Thanks for this. I'm aware of the suspicions about Sweeney but don't believe it’s defensible to name him. I won't quote you, but why would do you think Cherney would not implicate or pursue Sweeney and instead insinuates that the FBI had a hand in it?”
I RESPOND TO SMITH'S REPLY: “Sweeney has been named as the likely bomber by Talbot and many lesser figures down to myself. Sweeney threatened to sue KQED, the LA Times and, as I recall, even The Nation where Cockburn wrote about the case. He never sues. He's told people he doesn't sue me because my rich nephew pays my legal bills. (Har de har.) He doesn't sue because whomever he might drag into court would have rights of discovery and that would sink him. Talbot, incidentally, also pinned Sweeney as the guy who bombed the old airfield west of Santa Rosa in 1980. I think if the case unraveled, and a DA who subpoenas DNA from a handful of likelies to compare against the known DNA from the famous Lord's Avenger Letter sent to Geniella, will solve the matter. On that glorious day, Cherney would be in deep trouble for everything from obstruction of justice to defrauding the government in his and Bari's phony but winning federal suit, an action carefully edited by both sides to NOT broach the subject of who did it. And Cherney would have to give the money back, which is nearly a mil in his case. The Cherney group — him and several ghoulish female friends of Bari's — the very day of the bombing ran immediately to PC Central, the Pacifica Network and KPFA, to implicate the Blue Meanies, especially the FBI. In those circles the FBI is quite marketable as all-purpose villain. Cash flew in from everywhere in the country, a whole lot of it to Boonville where I forwarded it to Bari, none of which was ever accounted for. Just as immediately, attention was magically diverted from the ex-husband Sweeney, although the prime suspect in a violent crime against a woman is the man in the female victim's life. I knew Judi Bari quite well. We were allies throughout the Redwood Summer period. She wrote for my paper. I can tell you she was terrified of Sweeney. I can also tell you that Sweeney had reason to be terrified of her because Bari twice tried to solicit Irv Sutley, via Pam Davis (Davis, like Sweeney, also a public garbage bureaucrat), to murder Sweeney. Confronted about the solicitation on public radio KZYX, Bari said, on the air, it was a “joke.” I've got the tape recording of Bari admitting to the solicitation and saying she was just foolin'. Who the joke was supposed to amuse was not mentioned. To me, at this point, the even larger mystery than who did it is the mystery of why Susan Faludi suddenly abandoned her book on Bari after getting a very large publisher's advance to write it. And why has Judi Bari's famous sister, Gina Kolata, never written about her sister's sad fate? And why has Bari's family never publicly demanded the case be solved? It's a great story, Chris, and I hope to see it end before I turn up my toes.”
THE GREAT Speakers of Truth to Power have bought this thing whole, even the Monthly Review, a mag I read faithfully for many years on the apparently mistaken assumption its editors retained ordinary powers of discrimination. MR just printed a whole lot of the usual hagiographic nonsense on the Bari case by young woman based in San Francisco named Margot Pepper. I'd like to talk to her, but there's never any way of directly reaching these fearless “progressives.” They never have a phone number or even a direct e-mail. It's always passwords and sign-up sheets and no return arguments if you do manage an unbounced e-mail. And to think, this is the country that produced Big Bill Haywood, Joe Hill, Rosa Parks and so on through the pantheon until we hit the wall in 2012 at Dennis Bernstein and the jive Pacifica Network. Where did all these furtive little creeps come from all of a sudden?