THE NEW COUNTY COURTHOUSE is proceeding whether the rest of us want it or not, and few people apart from our cossetted cadre of judges, do want it. A new County Courthouse is not needed. The present Courthouse is old but serviceable. Worse, the new Courthouse will not include the many ancillary offices the old Courthouse now houses, which means the new Courthouse will contain only the judges, which further means huge inconvenience for everyone else. And the new Courthouse will be a major eyesore for Ukiah, a town already struggling with visual squalor in most of its public areas. The public, as usual, is barely aware that this abomination is underway. The Ukiah City Council, predictably, signed off on a cleanup of the area adjacent to the old train depot on Perkins where the Courthouse will rise, a hideous counterpoint to the prison-like complex across the street at the Ukiah Medical Center. Our eight Superior Court judges are shoving this project forward as a few well-placed lawyers and Ukiah developers buy up adjoining parcels on which they will erect office space to lease back to the County at the usual inflated rents.
MENDOCINO COUNTY will house up to 10 inmates from the Shasta County Jail in a memorandum of understanding approved last week by Board of Supervisors, a kind of footnote to the state's strategy to ease state prison overcrowding by sentencing certain categories of felons to county jails. The Mendocino County Jail has a maximum capacity of 304 beds and currently houses 256 inmates, according to Sheriff Tom Allman.
PRESS RELEASE OF THE WEEK. "The San Francisco Bulls Professional Hockey Team, strong supporters of the Mayan calendar, are hosting the 'It’s the End of the World as We Know It' game this Friday, December 21 at 7:15pm at the Cow Palace, when the Ontario Reign come to town for one last hurrah. Believers or not are invited to attend what could be the final game in the Bulls’ brief history of existence. 'There is a lot of pressure to win the game on Friday because it could be the last,' said President and Head Coach Pat Curcio. 'No matter what happens, we will finish the game. I don’t care if locusts invade or fireballs rain down on the Cow Palace. I have faith this old barn will withstand anything......'"
A READER WRITES: “Nice piece on the parole board in last week's paper, which I finally read this morning. A suggestion to Sprinkle — in one of his past letters to the editor he disparaged the victims in his case. Bad idea. If the board ever got a copy of that he would really be screwed. You can do that — Sprinkle can't. As for not taking any responsibility for what went on that day in that car, good luck with that one. He's got to work all that out for himself in his own head. I'm not saying the guy isn't getting screwed, he is. But he has to bring something to the table other than "I didn't do it, now let me out.”
SHERIFF TOM ALLMAN said Wednesday that the “internal investigation” he launched in the wake of a multifaceted federal pot raid on property owned by the family of his Under-Sheriff, Randy Johnson, is now complete. The Sheriff said it didn't contain any “surprises.”
SKEPTICS point out that Mendocino County has before gone to the friendlies next door when the Mendo Sheriff's Department has felt compelled to appear in need of a soothing assessment of in-house functioning. The Department's friends at Sonoma County have invariably reported back that everything in Mendo is as it should be.
ALLMAN has said he went to Sonoma County in the Johnson matter because the feds were “stonewalling” him, not telling Allman what the federal investigation of the raid on the Johnson's Potter Valley property had found. That federal investigation is apparently ongoing and has expanded beyond Johnson with a subpoena demanding all Mendocino County records related to Mendocino County's pot licensing (zip tie) program.
THE FEDERAL RAID on the Johnson property, a 16-acre former summer resort converted to rentals off Highway 20 near Potter Valley, was carried out by the DEA, the IRS and the FBI. Under-Sheriff Johnson lives on a non-pot-producing parcel next door. He was also the sign-off guy for the County's zip-ties and collective grows, whereby pot producers bought permissions to grow from the Sheriff's Department acting as agent for Mendocino County. The program, to say the least, was unique,
DEPUTY DUENAS, the Sonoma County cop who conducted the Johnson investigation at Allman’s request, was the cop who worked with Detective Roy Gourley (a former Mendocino County deputy) on the “independent investigation” of the shooting death of Deputy Bob Davis during the high-profile Bear Lincoln Trial back in 1997. During the weeks-long trial (two years after the original incident), Lincoln’s attorney Tony Serra brought out Duenas’s role in altering Deputy Dennis Miller’s testimony (Deputy Miller was the surviving deputy in the incident which saw the shooting deaths of Lincoln’s friend Leonard Peters and Deputy Bob Davis on the edge of Round Valley in April of 1995.) Another interesting connection is that Sheriff Allman was the Willits-based Sergeant in charge of Davis and Miller when Davis was shot and killed. When it was revealed that Miller had changed his testimony to fit the post-incident evidence, the jury found him to be less than credible and Lincoln was ultimately acquitted, largely because the jury didn’t believe Miller’s version of events.
UKIAH SATIVA MORRISON and Callie Ashe are in court again, this time to get a TRO (temporary restraining order) against a Hopland woman who made the mistake of feeling sorry for them and gave them a place to stay. When we last met Mendocino County's First Couple of Pot, they'd sued their Redwood Valley landlord because, get this, they said they didn't have to pay rent because they were growing medical marijuana. Don't get the reasoning here? The Sativas, you see, were doing so much good for the suffering of others by providing the halt and the lame with medicinal marijuana any mere property owner who interfered with their humanitarian mission was evil, doubly evil — once for demanding rent, twice for obstructing the alleviation of human pain. The jury was out about twenty minutes on that one, and Sativa and Mrs. Cannabis were found guilty and told to pay up. Sativa, an insufferably arrogant character who's about half as smart as he thinks he is, defended himself into one of the fastest guilty verdicts in the history of Mendocino County courts.
PRIOR to his break-through legal argument that pot growers like him don't have to pay rent, Sativa put the County's NORML office out of business. In that one, as a person close to the event described it, “Sativa Morrison and Callie took major advantage of the kind and unassuming Dane Wilkins. Sativa was sending e-mails and replies out under Dane's name without Dane's knowledge and doing lots of other unacceptable stuff. When Dane told them they'd have to leave, they left, taking with them the entire database.”
THE POOR WOMAN presently on the receiving end of Sativa's wrath, made the mistake of offering the Sativas a winter's place to stay. In return for the helping hand, the Sativas soon tried to get her young daughter to smoke weed and otherwise behaved in a criminal and even menacing fashion. The Sheriff's Department was called and the two deadbeats ushered off the property. They are now busy vilifying their former host with a deluge of see-through lies that would only seem reasonable to another lowlife stoner, of which there's a small army wandering Mendocino County.
ANYBODY can get a TRO simply by asking for one, a fact an experienced deadbeat like Sativa knows. But not just anyone can get a full-on restraining order. But Sativa has gotten the preliminary temporary restraining order from Judge Cindee Mayfield against his latest victim, a fact his victim naturally finds distressing because she and her family will now have to formally defend themselves against a particularly nasty nut case. Sativa will present himself as the victim, but any judge in this County who would grant this guy a restraining order against anybody but himself is crazier than the Sativas.
PEOPLE who know the Morrisons suspect that Mrs. Sativa may be a kind of domestic captive, that she is physically afraid to leave him.
WAL-MART SAYS it has no intention to stop the sale of “sporting rifles,” the gun industry's euphemism for military weapons designed to kill as many people as possible as fast as possible. Meanwhile, companies like Dick's Sporting Goods Inc. have stopped sales of these kind of weapons, including the Bushmaster AR-15 used in the mass killing of kids in Newtown. Not Wal-Mart. Around the country the Bushmaster is a best seller. Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports, prices for magazines on EBay have doubled, and ammo prices are going up fast. It seems Americans are rushing to join well-regulated militias.
THE CITY OF POINT ARENA distributed this “Notice of Reorganization” yesterday in the wake of last month’s election: “Notice is Hereby Given that the City Council of the City of Point Arena reorganized at its Regular Meeting held on the 18th day of December 2012, during which time Caitlin Riehl also took office as Point Arena City Treasurer, having been elected on November 6, 2012 along with Councilmembers Burfoot, Koogle and Sanders." Ms. Riehl is believed to be the first write-in candidate in the history of the County to be elected.
LATE FRIDAY AFTERNOON Mendocino County Counsel Tom Parker issued this succinct press release: “The County of Mendocino filed a motion to quash the federal grand jury subpoenas issued by the United States Attorney for the Northern District of California in federal court on December 21, 2012 through its attorneys of record. The motion is based on the grounds that the scope of the subpoenas is overbroad and burdensome, oppressive and constitutes an improper intrusion into the ability of state and local government to administer programs for the health and welfare of their residents. No court date has been scheduled as of the date of filing. Please contact Mendocino County Counsel Tom Parker at (707) 234-6885 if you have any questions regarding this matter.”
BOLIVIA'S PRESIDENT, EVO MORALES: “I would like to say that according to the Mayan Calendar the 21st of December marks the end of the time and the beginning of no-time. It is the end of the Macha and the beginning of the Pacha. It is the end of selfishness and the beginning of brotherhood. It is the end of individualism and the beginning of collectivism... the 21st of December this year. The scientists know very well that this marks the end of an anthropocentric life and the beginning of a biocentric life. It is the end of hatred and the beginning of love. The end of lies and the beginning of truth. It is the end of sadness and the beginning of joy. It is the end of division and the beginning of unity.” — Evo Morales, President of Bolivia speaking last week to the UN General Assembly. Morales didn't name “the scientists” he was referring to.
CALIFORNIA'S Lt. Gov Gavin Newsom told the New York Times today (Friday): “It’s shocking, from my perspective, the number of people that we all know who are recreational marijuana users. These are incredibly upstanding citizens: Leaders in our community, and exceptional people. Increasingly, people are willing to share how they use it and not be ashamed of it.”
NEWSOME, also the state's emptiest suit, did not name names, but it's a good bet his idea of an upstanding citizen is unlikely to be widely shared.
SIGNS OF NERVOUS TIMES: From the Fortuna (HumCo) Police Department: “On December 20, 2012, the Fortuna Police Department received information that a student was planning on bringing a weapon to the Fortuna Union High School campus to possibly engage in acts of violence. Upon receiving this information, the department met with high school and district administration and began working together to ensure the safety of students and staff. To ensure student safety, Fortuna High School administration and Fortuna Police Department determined that canceling class at the high school today was the safest option....." From now on, any kid who wants to get out of school for the day will know how to do it.
ACCORDING to the Mendocino County Sheriff's Department, a slideout about 25 feet across and 20 feet deep on the Covelo Road (Highway 162) closed the road about 1.75 miles east of Highway 101 last week. Travelers either trying to get to Covelo or flee it were advised to take the Dos Rios Road to the west or the Mendocino Pass Road to the east. The Mendocino Pass Road is likely snowbound and anyway comes out at Willows on 1-5, a heckuva way to get in or out of Covelo while the Dos Rios Road can be accessed at Laytonville off 101 and at Dos Rios west of Covelo. In any case, a hurry-up job on the road has since re-opened it.
OBAMACARE NEWS. Asked if fly-by-night and junk health insurance outfits which sell misleading health insurance with ambiguous fine print that allows health insurance companies (many of which are now owned by big Wall Street banks) to disallow major parts of hospital bills to California’s government run “health exchange” (created under Obamacare), California Department of Insurance spokesman Byron Tucker replied: “We can't speculate on that. We don't yet know what companies will sell insurance there and we don't know how they'll be regulated and which ones will be eligible.”
A READER told us last Thursday that Ms. Audet was seen on Tuesday outside of the Fort Bragg drugstore with her distinctive large white/brindel dog and appeared to be accompanied by a middle-aged woman.
AND ANOTHER READER WROTE of Ms. Audet, Mendocino County's best-known street person, " “She is very nice, and would go out of her way to help you, she is always there for you if you need her, she has a good heart and good morals, and just wants to have a little fun. I knew her years ago back where she come from (; She is very aware of her current situation and is the only person capable of handling what she has been through, enjoy her presence because she won’t be there long. yo jackie if ya read this, hope you alright, and (= love ya ol girl)”
SOMEWHERE, ALEXANDER COCKBURN IS GROANING: We were disappointed to see alternative health crackpot Gary Null on CounterPunch.org, formerly edited by Alexander Cockburn. The tag line at the end of the article he apparently co-authored reads: “...Dr. Gary Null is the host of the nation’s longest running public radio program on nutrition and natural health and a multi-award-winning director of progressive documentary films, including Vaccine Nation and Autism: Made in the USA.”
WE LOOKED UP Null's own description of his “documentary” — “In his documentary film Vaccine Nation, award-winning investigative film director Dr. Gary Null challenges the basic health claims by government health agencies and pharmaceutical firms that vaccines are perfectly safe. This is one of the most critical questions facing today’s children and future generations to come. If inoculation with a large regimen of vaccines is safe, what can account for the rapid increase in autism and other mental disabilities that are now at epidemic proportions? And why isn’t the sudden onset of neurological illnesses in children being treated as an urgent crisis by our government and medical industries? Weaving together interviews with many of the nations most expert medical researchers, private physicians specializing in autism, parents of children victimized by immunization, congressmen, vaccination activists, legal authorities and more, Vaccine Nation will awaken viewers to one of the continual perils to the health and future of children.”
THE SCREWBALL NOTION that children should not be vaccinated because the vaccines may not be safe, represents a clear and present danger to the children of the wackos who take Null seriously. Someone at CounterPunch is asleep at the controls.
SHERIFF ALLMAN may want to take the standard advice his deputies give to suspects — “you have the right to remain silent.” In the wake of his “internal investigation” into allegations that his Undersheriff/Captain Randy Johnson is being looked at by the feds, Allman told the Press Democrat — clearly not a news organization — friendly to the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department — that his own investigation has “cleared” Captain Johnson “of any potential wrongdoing related to a federal marijuana raid on property owned by the captain’s family.” Allman said the 80-page investigation (conducted by a Sonoma County deputy with prior connections to Mendocino County) couldn’t be released because it was “a personnel matter.” But that he (Allman) “was given permission” [by who? County Counsel? That would be surprising] to “discuss the findings.” “I feel very comfortable in stating that Capt. Johnson was not involved in illegal activity,” Allman insisted. “But if anyone can provide additional information the investigation will be re-opened.” PD reporter Derek Moore asked Allman “how anyone could have missed 500 marijuana plants being grown on the property. Allman told the PD that he doesn’t know whether that number is accurate or whether the pot in question was being grown indoors or outside. “Five-hundred plants doesn’t mean that it looks like a vineyard,” Allman said. “It could mean that the plants were inside. The DEA has not told me that Capt. Johnson is a suspect in this.” (The DEA hasn’t said anything to anyone about the investigation which is still pending.) According to the PD Allman added that Johnson “contacted state [not federal] Department of Justice officials in 2010 and 2011 to report that he smelled marijuana at the property and he asked them to investigate. No action was taken.” (Meaning…? What? That the grow was legal?) The PD piece ends with “Allman said he’s known Johnson for 28 years and that ‘his record is unblemished’.”
NOTHING WRONG with standing up for your friends, among whom Captain Johnson obviously ranks very high in Allman’s Sheriff’s Department. But Allman should know that all of these public remarks are subject to more investigation and challenge by the federales. And if any of it is disputed by, say, the State Department of Justice, neighbors, other records, witnesses, etc. it will mean Allman will have more questions to answer. Given that Mendocino County has decided to file a motion to quash the federal subpoena regarding the County’s innovative 9.31 pot program — in essence invoking the County’s Fifth Amendment right of non-self-incrimination — Allman would probably be better off keeping his own counsel for a while, not providing fodder to the Press Democrat or, indirectly, the feds.
ON-LINE COMMENT re Mendocino County's dope policies: “So let me see if I got this right: 1) A bunch of people grew and sold lots of weed ‘legally’ because they bought zip-ties and said it was ‘medical.’ 2) The County got a bunch of money selling these zip-ties and agreeing to leave those growers alone. 3) Now the feds want the records because we all knew it was illegal federally the whole time. 4) The County, to cover its own ass is now stonewalling the feds by hiring outside counsel. 5) The regular taxpayers of Mendo are footing the bill for the outside counsel although they got zero benefit from this charade. 6) The weed people congratulate themselves on being ‘freedom fighters’ and ‘progressive and caring.’ They count their money and plan their next year.”
A READER WRITES: “Seems that the post office is trying to be nice as we approach Christmas (or whatever you want to call this time of the year. Is Santa a Jew or Muslim?) Anyway, you mailed my AVA on Wednesday and it arrived here in Alameda, CA on Thursday. Thursday, that's the next day not eight days later. Guess I must have been nice, not naughty. Happy New Year to all you AVA readers although I think '13 will be a bitch. — Carl Flach, Alameda”
AVAST, MATEY! Captain Fathom to the foredeck! Cap'n. Harry Blythe writes: “Hi, Alan, long time, no see. Have you heard from Dobie? Miss the good times in Albion, the Hamms, Bill and Emil. Say hi to Judy. I'm in Portland. Drop me a line: Harry Blythe, 3115 SW Hamilton Street, Portland, OR 97239. Or email@example.com” Harry Blythe was editor of the pivotal Mendocino Commentary back when print publications were pivotal, especially in always fervid Mendocino County.
MARINE SANCTUARIES would set aside 2093 nautical square miles off the coasts of Sonoma and Mendocino counties for a total of 3,458 miles of protected ocean extending about 30 miles out to sea. The set asides would spare this portion of the Pacific from oil and gas exploitation and mineral extractions. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will hold two hearings in Mendocino County, one on February 12th at 6pm at Point Arena High School, the other at the Gualala Community Center in Gualala on February 13th at 6pm.
"MY FAVORITE PART about football is you get to do a criminal act without being a criminal. America loves a bad guy, and in football, you can assault somebody without going to jail. Hit people all you want and you get praised for it. If you worked at Walmart, you can't give a customer you don't like a forearm shiver to the face… I'm still young and have a lot of testosterone. I like to express myself." — Philip Wheeler, Raiders linebacker
SHILOH FERNANDEZ is a young actor from Redwood Valley who is negotiating to buy the film rights to Robert Mailer Anderson's novel, Boonville. Mr. Fernandez grew up in Mendocino County and graduated from Ukiah High School. He has since been featured is several big budget movies.
ACCORDING TO State Controller Data for 2011 Mendocino County had 108 employees whose individual total compensation (base pay, benefits and overtime) exceeded $90k per year. The total cost of these 108 top paid people was just over $12 million. 76 of the 108 top paid people were in the Sheriff’s Department (admin, patrol and jail), representing about two-thirds of the $12 million. According to the State Controller’s database, however, this information was based on Mendocino County’s staffing when it totaled almost 1300 employees which has been substantially reduced since then for budget reasons. We assume that a major contributor to the total individual compensation for these top earners in the Sheriff's department was due to overtime stemming from short staffing. We have never seen an overtime report on any department provided to the Board of Supervisors or the CEO. Presumably the Sheriff is meeting his budget targets. But clearly this situation needs a close budgetary examination because it should be cheaper to provide the bulk of these hours with straight-time staff, and, historically, high levels of overtime lead to reduced performance, lower safety levels, and burnout.