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Off The Record

MENDOCINO COUNTY has seen plenty of bad Supervisors, and we mean “bad” in the conventional sense, the sense that they 1. routinely put their personal welfare ahead of the public's, 2. didn’t take the job seriously enough to prepare themselves on the issues, 3. never raised an unpopular issue simply because it was the right thing to do.

APPLYING this elementary criteria we can only think of a few supervisors in modern Mendo memory who would qualify as good public servants: Joe Scaramella, Ernie Banker, Liz Henry, Jim Eddie, Norman de Vall (and he often irritated hell out of us), John Pinches, and John McCowen, often as irritating as de Vall. We think Carre Brown is conscientious but would like to see her become more assertive. The rest of them going all the way back to the 60s have ranged from irrelevant time-servers to people who did real harm to local government.

HOW MANY FORMER SUPERVISORS can YOU name, much less remember? Marilyn Butcher, Nelson Redding, John Cimolino, Tom Lucier, Jim Wattenburger, David Colfax, Richard Shoemaker, Hal Wagenet, Michael Delbar, Charles Peterson, Patti Campbell, and soon Kendall Smith. What did they do to make Mendocino County a better place?

AND WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Of all the former supervisors still alive, only de Vall maintains a presence in local affairs and regularly volunteers in the public interest. And Shoemaker at least has got himself elected or appointed to a couple of Ukiah boards. But the rest of them have totally disappeared. Why did they bother to run for Supervisor? If they'd cared about Mendocino County they’d have stayed engaged after leaving office. But what they did in office is make bad decisions going back to the giveaway of Mendo’s water to Sonoma County, set in motion the fiscally ticking time bomb of the Teeter Plan, overhired, and gave themselves undeserved pay raises and perks. And the list goes on. The incidence of pure nepotism, incompetence and cronyism in Mendocino County is startling.

WE HESITATE to even mention Kendall Smith now that we’re finally rid of her as Supervisor. But one reason so much incompetence and mis and malfeasance in office goes down in Mendocino County is that other Supervisors tolerate it. When Smith departed her botched and often criminally conducted duties on December 18, you'd have thought, especially from Dan Hamburg, that Joan of Arc was retiring.

Pinches: “The largest little woman I’ve known in my life… I know you’re not going to go away, not ride off into the sunset. You’re going to do something to try to benefit the citizens of Mendocino County. Always trying to make things better and always trying to look out for everybody else.”

Hamburg: “I’m really going to miss you, Kendall. … Kept Fort Bragg informed. You're so locked into your community…”

Brown: “Always gave time… always listened… a real pleasure…”

McCowen: “Hard work… dedication… record for most nights in office at 10pm or later…” (Doing what? Forging her travel chits?) “Kept Fort Bragg informed. … Championing of their issues…” (in Piercy) whatever they were.

Smith: Future plans: “Clean my house. … Start slowly. … Stay on the Retirement Board. If there’s another job in the future outside of Mendocino County, I’m not sure. … I look forward to not knowing what you’re going to be doing the next day.”

I'VE MET RESIDENTS of Fort Bragg who didn't even know they had a supervisor. They were aware that there was a city council and a mayor, but to them that's where local government began and ended.

IN FACT, Smith was widely disliked among County staff and her fellow supervisors except for the ethically blind Hamburg. She’d refused to take a pay cut like everyone else employed by Mendocino County, thus undermining the Board’s position in labor negotiations and she got away with chiseling thousands of dollars in undeserved travel reimbursements and would have gotten clean away with it but for the election of DA Eyster who made it clear she either pay the stolen money back or he'd prosecute. Most crooks don't have that choice, but for some reason America is reluctant to send anybody to jail who knows what the word “paradigm” means. Colfax was out of office before Eyster was elected or he'd have gotten the either/or option too. And out of office Colfax is also invisible. Way to go, Mendolib. Six of the last eight supervisors from the Mendocino Coast have been absolute ciphers.

NOBODY LIKES TO BE RUDE in these chumzy-wumzy send off contexts, but it's a hell of a note when a cheap crook like Smith gets a merry farewell as if she'd made a real contribution to local government. In any society that hadn't lost its way, Smith and Colfax would have not only been removed from office, they'd have gone to jail.

IT WASN'T SURPRISING that State Senator Noreen Evans was in Ukiah for Smith's last day. She's Smith on a grander scale, a junketeer feathering her nest at every opportunity. And this is what we have representing us on the Northcoast with the permanent Democratic Party apparatus that has us all in a stranglehold. Look around the room and who do you see? Wes Chesbro, Mike Thompson, Evans, Huffman, Luke Breit, and their ancillaries sitting as superior court judges, a preposterous media that gives them all a free pass. Which is always doubly galling because you get this constant local din from the “liberals” about over the hill and far away issues, as if the national government isn't composed of the same brand of mediocrities and crumb bums.

ON THE UPSIDE, at least locally, with Dan Gjerde replacing Smith as 4th District Supervisor, we think the Mendocino Board of Supervisors will field its strongest starting team ever, five people capable of rational decision-making, although we don't think the recent decision to hire outside counsel to fend off the federal dope subpoena was a rational decision. It's not acceptable to pay a fully-staffed County Counsel's office while going outside for a self-alleged expert fed fighter. There were a bunch of prominent dope lawyers with federal case experience who would have represented Mendo free of charge.

MORE EVIDENCE that the FBI was not only founded by a lunatic it was, and perhaps still is, staffed by people who, shall we say, lack sophistication. Of course if you think Arthur Miller was a communist and Marilyn Monroe a pinko, you probably think of the contemporary FBI as super sleuths. Maybe they are, but in my direct experience, I'd characterize the G-Men (and one very young Asian G-Woman) that I've met in circumstances ranging from unpleasant to guarded as limited-to-crippled in their understanding of great swathes of American experience, and completely at sea when it comes to even the most basic distinctions among left wingers. Everyone to the left of Obama, and probably Obama himself, is viewed as a socialist, and a socialist is the same as a communist, and a small 'c' communist is the same as a member of the Communist Party and an anarchist is an obnoxious street grunge towed by a team of pitbulls and they're all liberals, and liberals are communists and socialists and we're back to where we began.

I BRING YOU these profound observations because I read a story last week about how Hoover's FBI kept Marilyn Monroe under surveillance. Of course the Kennedy Brothers and mafia figures enjoyed her company so I suppose in a peripheral sense Marilyn would have been “a person of interest.” But that's not why the old voyeur had Marilyn in his highly selective sights while he maintained that there was no such thing as organized crime, an insistence some writers think arose out of the mafia being in possession of blackmail photos of Hoover prancing around in a cocktail dress. (Even mentioning this stuff you start to sound like a paranoid.) But Hoover, who hated the Kennedys and shared audiotapes of Martin Luther King's after-hours boffs with other Klan-minded government officials, was mostly interested in Marilyn because he really thought she was a red. Why? Well, she believed in civil rights for black people, a stance Hoover and the political right generally thought was inspired by communists; she publicly denounced McCarthyism; and she often expressed contempt for Hoover himself. In other words, Marilyn Monroe was an intelligent person and a good American.

A CLOSE OBSERVER of municipal lawsuits against the state's Department of Finance summarizes them this way: “We started this project and if you don't let us finish, the City will suffer harm/hardship.” Most of the lawsuits sound similar themes. They always find ways to spend the money on themselves and on pet projects with no public involvement. The various City RDA's, and certainly the City of Ukiah, fall right in line; they believe the RDA money is their money, no matter what state law now says. In point of fact, the RDAs have intercepted beau coup dollars that would otherwise have gone to the County of Mendocino, school districts (Ukiah Unified, MCOE, Mendocino College), and special districts (fire departments, water and sewer, cemeteries, recreation, etc.). Some of the RDA money got spent appropriately by Ukiah, but millions were siphoned off by the City of Ukiah to pay administrative salaries and fund pet projects like the preposterous School Street dining platform and bike corral, an enhancement for a private business favored by Westside yuppies who have three elected reps — Mari Rodin, Benj Thomas and Mary Ann Landes — on the City Council.

BUT THE STATE is saying the gravy train has chugged into the final station, that it's time to wind down the RDAs, liquidate assets and distribute the proceeds and cash on account to the taxing agencies from whom it was taken and is due.

THE THREE INLAND edu-reps on the Ukiah Redevelopment “Successor Agency” (the people who are supposed to wind things down, but who are mostly the same people who were on the agencies that wound them up) are siding with Ukiah officials at every turn, although following the law would result in money going back to the schools and other deserving public agencies. But the educrats see that as a problem. There are a series of “pass through” agreements with the schools that provide that funds be set aside in “capital improvement” accounts for the benefit of those entities, which allows them to spend it on things like the new totally indefensible edu-admin office on South Orchard Ave that is now being built by Ukiah Unified, a school district that seems to exist, as does the notorious boondoggle known as the Mendocino County Office of Education, to serve its over-large administrative cadre.

IF THE PASS THROUGH agreements were ended, the money would have to be spent on things like books and teachers, apparently a terrifying prospect to County School Superintendent Paul Tichinin and the rest of the County's edu-leeches. So the local school districts are siding with Ukiah in trying to get the state to allow Ukiah to spend millions that would otherwise be distributed to the schools in return for a green light to divert millions more from direct educational outlays, instead of having both go directly to the schools.

LEE HOWARD, appointed by the Board of Supervisors as the public's representative to the City of Ukiah's RDA oversight committee is the only one who reliably will speak up to ask the obvious question: “Excuse me, does anyone here happen to care what the state law says about that?” If the Ukiah City Council doesn't begin to pay close attention, they could wind up like Arcata.

WE WERE NOT SURPRISED to see former Assemblyman Dan Hauser’s snout in the Redevelopment trough. According to Arcata Eye Editor Kevin Hoover’s story about Arcata’s apparent Redevelopment misbehavior and the state’s attempt to get their money back from Arcata, Hauser wound up in an executive position for an organization which received millions of questionable redevelopment dollars and which contributed greatly to Arcata’s latest dispute with the State Department of Finance which has demanded its redevelopment millions back.

Speaking on behalf of ROP [“Resident Owned Parks,” a non-profit organization that soaked up millions of redevelopment dollars for 16 homes and 3 apartments in Arcata known as “Sandpiper”), Dan Hauser called the Department of Finance decision “outrageous.” “Some lower-level bureaucrat in the Department of Finance has taken it upon themselves to overturn not only a realistic determination of the law, but the City and the Oversight Board,” Hauser said. He said ROP can’t give back money it has already spent. “Obviously, there’s no way that ROP or any of the other moderate and low-income housing folks could send money back to the City,” he said. “That would bankrupt the organization. I guess we just hand over Sandpiper to the state, unfinished?” Hauser said he’d already been in touch with the offices of Chesbro and Evans. “This is one of those things that we’re going to have to involve our legislators to correct the Department of Finance,” he said, noting that “nothing will happen until after the first of the year.” Hauser decried “a flat-out misinterpretation of the law” and said that “a low-level bureaucrat wielding all this power is something we may have to take up with the governor.” Lamenting “the absurdity of the whole thing,” Hauser added, “All we’re trying to do is provide housing for folks. To be slapped down this way is outrageous.”

YEAH, RIGHT. And all the long-dormant NCRA (which Hauser ran at a nice profit to himself while never shipping anything) was “trying to provide transportation for stuff.”

CHRISTINA AANESTAD WRITES: “Time to pack my bags and get ready for an exciting January 2013. Tomorrow is my last day of training to be KMUD's News Co-Coordinator in Humboldt County. Friday is my first day on the job. It's been years since I've done a daily half hour newscast and I'm a little nervous and very excited to boot! I'll be working with KMUD's Terri Klemetson on coordinating news for the month of January, every other week, and look forward to being back in the saddle again! I've recently accepted a temporary position with KMUD as their evening news co-coordinator in Humboldt County. I'm looking for a place to stay while I'm there, that is also affordable, even a house-sit, preferably in Redway or thereabouts. If you know of anyone or have referrals, please let me know or pass on my info. I also have great references for house sitting. Thanks, Christina Aanestad, Publisher, Mendocino Country Independent, (707) 355-0183,”

THE EMERALD GROWER'S ASSOCIATION (EGA) and CalNORML have “quickly lent the support of their legal advisors and community action teams” to Mendocino County's demand that the feds clarify their subpoenas for Mendocino County's pot records. Those subpoenas were issued on October 23rd and named Auditor-Controller Meredith Ford, Sheriff Tom Allman, Sheriff's Office Financial Manager Norman Thurston, and Under-Sheriff's Randy Johnson; Johnson was in charge of the County's medical marijuana garden inspection program — and is named by the feds as the “custodian of records.” The EGA's Executive Director, Kristin Neveda's press release said, “This action [the federal subpoenas] is yet another example of the egregious misuse of federal funds by US Attorney Melinda Haag. Federal pressure has cost the county hundreds of thousands in lost revenue from the sheriff's zip tie program. In addition, the Board of Supervisors found it necessary to expend funds to hire outside counsel with the kind of expertise needed to handle these issues. The continued waste of taxpayers' money to attempt to prosecute those who are trying to abide by the law is an outrage.” The feds are demanding “any and all records” related to the County's medical marijuana cultivation ordinance from Jan. 1, 2010 to the present, including all communications regarding County Code Section 9.31 with third-party garden inspectors and the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors. The County's recently hired outside attorney has responded to the feds by saying that the US Attorney's Office hasn't made it clear why it wants the information.

PUBLIC EVENT: Zoning & Building Code Changes Supporting Sustainable Development Mendocino Coast Transition Towns will hold a discussion about zoning and building code changes supporting sustainable development in Mendocino County, on Saturday, 19 January 2013 at 2PM at the Community Center of Mendocino. They will discuss code changes needed to make our community more ecologically sustainable, resilient, and local. Examples include chickens, solar systems, and cob building materials. For more information, call Charles Cresson Wood at 707 937 5572.

GARETT MATSON OF FORT BRAGG has been arrested again, this time for grand theft, receiving stolen property and embezzlement. Matson's bail is set at a total of $75,000. He has been in trouble for years, and remains the sole suspect in the highly suspicious death of Katlyn Long.

THE MYSTERY of Katlyn Long's Death

by Tim Stelloh

(From the AVA Archive: June 10, 2009)

The last few months of Katlyn Long’s abbreviated life unfolded much like anyone transitioning between relationships: Unhappy with her long-term, 31-year-old boyfriend, Long broke things off. The 22-year-old Fort Bragg girl had met someone else — someone who, friends say, seemed to make her happy.

She left California with her new boyfriend early last year, but work obligations brought her back home for what was to be a brief visit. That fateful trip back would be her last: In the early morning of May 29, after spending the night with her ex-boyfriend, she was hauled to Mendocino Coast Hospital in an ambulance without a pulse — the victim of a methadone overdose.

Yet it wasn’t until last week that police revealed her cause of death; no charges have been filed.

The way detectives explain it, the one eyewitness in the case has exercised his right to remain silent since Long’s death. That eyewitness, of course, is Long’s ex, Garett Matson, son of Fort Bragg bigwig Jerry Matson, of Matson Building Materials. Police say that over the course of that year they were negotiating with Matson’s attorney, Richard Petersen, in an attempt to get a statement. To maintain the apparently delicate balance of those negotiations, investigators commenced the media chess game: They withheld the results of a toxicology report completed last July that examined Long’s blood and found that she had overdosed. They kept a lid on all but the most public details of the girl’s death — namely, that she had died “suspiciously.” And they told the media the eyewitness was Long’s ex-boyfriend — but they declined to name the ex.

Petersen, of course, tells it differently. He says he’s offered to answer written questions from the police — but he wouldn’t subject Matson to a prosecutorial-style inquiry because he’s “suffering terrible emotional problems.”

“We can't open him up because he feels very threatened and weak right now,” Petersen said, summarizing what he says are a doctor's orders. “What people say about him breaks his heart.” In the unlikely event detectives share the forensic evidence they’ve collected on Matson, Petersen said he’d change his tune.

“I’d turn my client over,” he said.

In the meantime, Petersen sent a seven page statement to the DA’s office last month — a statement he described as a “timed list” of the days leading up to Long’s death. (Neither he nor the Sheriff’s office would share specifics of the statement.) And last week, detectives released an outline of what happened, along with the results of the toxicology report.

Yet it’s still unclear how — or why — that lethal dose of methadone ended up in Long’s blood.

The synthetic opiate, long thought of as a drug for junkies kicking their heroin habit, has taken on a different role in recent years as a cheap, non-narcotic prescription painkiller. As methadone prescriptions have spiked, so has the number of methadone overdoses: The drug can be lethal when combined, say, with alcohol, or when taken in too great a quantity, as its effects are far shorter than the time it stays in the body.

Sheriff’s Lt. Rusty Noe said Long didn’t have a prescription for methadone, nor did detectives find any evidence that she was using it as a painkiller. Friends say she was the last person they would expect to use such drugs recreationally. “She was like apple pie,” said Jeanne Huckins, who shared Long’s affinity for horses and rode with her often. “One time she came to the stable and she was babbling on and on and on, and I said, ‘Katlyn, what are you on?’ and she said ‘Red Bull.’ … She was very sensitive to that kind of stuff.”

Matson, on the other hand, has a history of prior drug charges. A several year old letter from neighbors in Matson’s court file even described his home as a well known crank house that police visited often: “For two years Matson has terrorized the neighborhood with shootings, loud fights and low-life people coming and going at all hours, though mostly in the middle of the night,” the letter said. It went on to describe how he “unleashed” a vicious dog on a neighbor, sending the senior citizen to the hospital twice.

Those cases — which include discharging a firearm while under the influence of a controlled substance — were dismissed when Matson agreed to drug court. (Petersen said a person’s past is only “circumstantial evidence of what the future holds.”)

Huckins described the couple’s relationship as a troubled one – a relationship where Long felt suffocated by her ex and which she ended shortly before she died. She described how, in the months before her overdose, Long had started seeing a new boyfriend — a man named William Housley — who Huckins said had brightened Long’s mood considerably. They traveled together to Washington State to visit Housley’s parents. “She was having a wonderful time,” she said. “I noticed a real shift when she started hanging out with William. She was a happy person — instead of a person who was always crying and blaming herself, who would cut herself.”

Long returned to Fort Bragg last May, Huckins said, because she worked at the stable where she kept her horses and the owners were leaving town. While home, Matson tried to rekindle their relationship. But Long wasn’t interested. The afternoon before she died the two had an argument at Long’s parents house — an argument caused by Matson thinking the two were close to reuniting, Petersen said. Matson allegedly bashed in her car and left, but returned later that afternoon.

By 5am the next morning she was dead.

Sheriff’s deputies, who had been summoned with the ambulance, noticed “suspicious” marks on her neck, so detectives were dispatched to investigate. The marks, Lt. Noe said, turned out to be unrelated to her death. And the rest is history.

Some of Long’s friends and supporters theorize that she was murdered. Petersen disagrees. “If she overdosed, he didn't do it. It was either accidental, or intentional on her part,” he said. “I don't know of any one who would have wanted to kill her — including Garett. But nobody wants to believe she committed suicide either.”

For now, no suspects have been named and the DA kicked the case back to the sheriff’s office, which says it’s an open investigation — though District Attorney Meredith Lintott said her investigators are still involved, as they are with most big murder cases. If the case does go to court, Lintott said, there’s no statute of limitations on murder, nor with manslaughter in most situations. It can be a different story with other, less serious charges, however.

“It’s very tricky. People go to court to litigate statute of limitations,” she said. “The whole case can be thrown out.”

So far, Long’s family has been mum on the matter — Katlyn’s mother, Linda Long, said in an e-mail that she didn’t want to compromise the case — as are several friends. But that hasn’t stopped an online petition,, from being circulated; as of publication, the petition has nearly met its 1,000 signature goal. Once completed, the site says, it will be sent to the DA’s office because “…we want to show them that there are lots of citizens that will not rest until justice is served, and who will be watching this case.” Nor has it stopped thousands of posts from appearing on a forum attached to the Ukiah Daily Journal’s website. Unlike most message boards associated with controversial stories — where participants seem to revel in vulgar anonymity — this one is relatively benign: family and friends post poems; they give updates on the case; they talk about their freshly inked Katlyn tattoos.

Still, the site — like most message boards — has the air of judge, jury and executioner. And it ain’t a pretty verdict for Garett Matson.

MENDOCINO COUNTY'S MOTION to toss the federal subpoenas for the County's pot cultivation program’s records will be heard Friday, January 4th, at 2pm in Courtroom 3 of the Northern District Court in San Francisco. The County filed a motion with the federal court arguing that the subpoenas are “overbroad and burdensome” and represent an “improper intrusion” on the County's and state's ability to make local and state policy. William Osterhoudt, the high-profile San Francisco attorney hired by Mendocino County to fight the federal subpoena, will presumably appear on Mendocino County's behalf. The feds have demanded “any and all records” — including financial records — for the County's medical marijuana cultivation ordinance from Jan. 1, 2010 to the present, including all types of communication regarding 9.31, including those with third-party garden inspectors and the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors.” The SF Federal court is located at 450 Golden Gate Avenue.





Dear Mr. Lowery.

Senate Bill 39 is intended to provide public access to findings and information related to the deaths of children from abuse or neglect — with the goal of determining what, if anything, could have been done differently to prevent such tragedies. With that said, I am requesting that your agency provide me with a copy of the SOC 826 report filed with the California Department of Social Services (DCSS) regarding the child fatality that occurred in Fort Bragg during the first week of December 2012. Please send copy of report to:

James Marmon, MSW, 16163 33rd. Ave., Clearlake, CA. 95422. Thank you — James Marmon MSW.

OUR VERY OWN IED? On Friday the 21st of December, shortly before 5:30pm, “deputies were dispatched to a single shot fired at 10483 Lansing Street in the Township of Mendocino. Upon arrival deputies contacted various people who heard and/or felt what was described as an explosion. Deputies were provided the potential location from where the reported gunshot originated from, which was 10483 Lansing Street [the address of the Goodlife Café and Bakery] #15 and contacted the tenant of that residence, who was believed to be responsible. The tenant was identified as Kendrick Anderson. Anderson informed deputies that he had also heard the reported gunshot and believed an unknown person(s) had ignited and thrown a firework on his doorstep. Deputies searched the surrounding area and located an expended improvised explosive device (IED) on the roof of a neighboring structure. The IED was about 20-feet from and the same elevation to Anderson’s second-story apartment entrance. Deputies ultimately arrested Anderson on the listed charges. (Possession of a destructive device near residential area); possession of a destructive device near public thoroughfare; igniting a destructive device with intent to terrify. [Which it had. Terrified the neighbors, that is.] Deputies then obtained a search warrant for Anderson’s residence. As a result of that search warrant service several materials and items were confiscated that were and/or could be used to manufacture an IED. Anderson, 47, was transported to the Mendocino County Jail where he was booked and lodged with bail set at $75,000.00.”

DAN HAMBURG, writing on the Coast Listserve said Saturday that Caltrans has contacted the Mendocino County Department of Transportation offering to make a presentation to the Board of Supervisors concerning a change to a speed zones on a five mile section of State Highway 1 between Albion and Little River (Mile Post 43.60 to 48.60). The proposal is the result of Caltrans updating speed surveys required for radar enforcement (every 5 years) to the 85th percentile of prevailing speed. “As I understand it,” Hamburg added, “this means that 85% of people are already driving at speeds that are above the posted limit. This speed survey indicates that about 3.5 miles posted 40 mph now needs to change to 45 mph. Another 0.75 miles would go from 30 mph now to 35 mph. My question is: would people like for Caltrans to make such a presentation at a BOS meeting before the new limits go into effect? Caltrans says that this is an information item only.

WE WONDER what Caltrans would do if their studies revealed that 85% of the people were averaging 100mph on that stretch of highway?

SATURDAY MORNING, NPR's dependably irritating news readers chirped out an enthusiastic review of a comic book about junior high school girls, burbling on excitedly over a “book” of no interest to the presumed adults who listen to NPR, and may not even of interest to 13-year-old girls. Anyway, who besides their parents, if the targeted 13-year-olds happen to be among the dwindling number of American children who have identifiable or functioning parents, could possibly care about a keen teen comic book? It just kept getting worse. Next up was an interview with the guy who produces Spider Man. It was like a one-two punch reminder of how far dumbed down the country has become, how infantilized so many people have become, especially if you assume that the NPR demographic is somehow better educated, more sophisticated, somehow smarter than the general population. I don't happen to share that dubious assumption because the most enthusiastic NPR people I know tend to be the same people who are enthusiastic about Obama, the Ukiah City Council, and the profundity of the Press Democrat's editorial page. “Gosh! Did you see what E. J. Dionne said this morning about peanut butter sandwiches?”

BUT NPR veers from the merely fatuous to the borders of evil in Scott Simon. This guy sets the phony bar so high he makes Nixon look positively guileless. I love the way he drops his voice a couple of octaves to show how moved he is about, say, the mass slaughter of first graders. (The BBC guy just reads it out, which is the way bad news should be delivered.) We can tell Scott thinks mass murder is bad because Scott lowers his voice, even makes it sound like he's about to choke up. Then we get a brief interlude of treacly-sad music so we can all mourn mass murder with Scott because Scott is a parent and Scott is nearly in audio tears and it's all so tragic and so inappropriate — how could this have happened in the country that pays me, Scott Simon of National Government Radio, a quarter mil a year to fake it? The treacly-sad tune dies away and Scott moves brightly on to piecrusts or basketball.

THE NPR “BOOK REVIEW” set me off just as I sat down to recommend a few real books that may be of interest to the intelligent, dashingly handsome, perspicacious readers of this fine publication, “a newspaper for the rest of us,” as it's been called. In no particular order, I will read anything by Sherman Alexie and Junot Diaz and Alice Munro, to name the authors of short stories I liked during 2012. I also thought Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn was the best long fiction I've read in a while, and I liked Dave Eggers' Holograph for the King. I think of these people as zeitgeist writers, meaning to me that their sense of reality corresponds with mine. I pretty much stick to non-fiction, agreeing with Philip Roth that reality no longer needs much explaining in fiction form. The non-fiction books I enjoyed most were a biography of the much-neglected writer Jim Tully by Paul Bauer and Mark Dawidziak, and a kind of fictionalized bio of Willie Sutton by J.R. Moehringer. Anybody interested in the recent history of San Francisco will be mesmerized by David Talbot's Season of the Witch. George Orwell Diaries edited by Peter Davidson and Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin by Timothy Snyder give us new understandings of World War Two as experienced in England and suffered by the many millions of people caught between Hitler and Stalin, Berlin and Moscow, an estimated 14 million of whom did not survive the war.

ODD OUTCOME in the armed robbery of Point Arena's Redwood Credit Union back on August 23rd. Ray Ojeda and his uncle, Frank Orlando, both of Butte County, operating on the assumption that PA was lightly policed, burst into the fogbelt credit union in full movie style that fraught afternoon, with Uncle Frank threatening anybody who got in the way with instant death. Uncle Frank did the yelling while Ojeda watched the door, and watched one guy exit without much interfering with his departure. One or both the bandidos wore flip-flops, not the footwear usually preferred by armed robbers, and sure enough either one or the other's flip-flop flipped or flopped as Ojeda and Orlando ran off with $45,000 in cash. They made it about halfway to Anderson Valley via Fish Rock Road before being stopped and taken into custody. Orlando has been robbing banks for a long time. He's obviously a drug addict who robs and steals to buy dope. Ojeda immediately surrendered on Fish Rock Road. Orlando, however, told Sheriff Allman that he'd thought about shooting it out because he knew surrender meant he'd die in prison, so why not go down fighting. But, he said, he decided to give up when he saw the glint of the wedding band on the young deputy from Anderson Valley, Luis Espinoza, telling the Sheriff he didn't want to risk shooting a kid with a young family. Orlando nevertheless got 50 years in state prison for being the main guy in the PA heist while Ojeda was given a mere four years because he was viewed as much less culpable than Uncle Frank, a perspective on the event DA Eyster found outrageous. Eyster argued that Ojeda and Uncle Frank had both been caught on camera robbing another bank a few months earlier.

THE REMAINS of the man found on the Eel River near Piercy remain unidentified. Sheriff Allman said last week a forensic anthropologist was still at work on the excavated corpse.

KYM KEMP interviewed the people who found the corpse at the time: For years a local family has taken kayaks up the Eel River from their home near Piercy. “We have an area near where we live that we kayak to and go mushroom hunting,” explained the woman who prefers to remain anonymous. “For the last three or four years a sneaker was sticking out of the ground in the forest nearby where we go mushroom hunting. We joked that there was a body attached. My daughter who is 8 years old now played by there.” But, they didn’t really believe that the sneaker was anything other than “river trash.”

THE MAN of the Piercy family and his daughter kayaked over two days before Halloween and found not one but two sneakers exposed side by side with their toes sticking up. “[My husband] kind of pulled it out and there was a sock and he dumped it out and there were bones.” Deputies were soon on-scene, the anthropologist summoned, the remains excavated and are now being reassembled and examined at a lab in Chico.

A READER WRITES: “I'm so glad to see your little hit piece on Scott Simon. The smarmiest person in the history of broadcasting. Certainly, people he interviews can't be fooled by his drippy bullshit, can they?”

YES, THEY CAN. And I cite the following person as living confirmation: Wavy Gravy.

ON FRIDAY, December 28, at approximately 5:36pm, deputies were dispatched to a residential burglary at 19251 Dorffi Road in Fort Bragg. Deputies responded to the location and contacted the victims, Pamela Deeter, 25, and Justin Fenstermacher, 28. Deputies learned that Deeter and Fenstermacher arrived home to discover that someone had recently forced entry into their residence and stole multiple items of personal property. Deputies obtained other information from witnesses at the scene that related to suspect and vehicle information and direction of flight. At approximately 6:15pm, deputies located a vehicle that matched the description provided. Deputies initiated an investigative stop of the vehicle at 29700 Highway 20 and identified the five occupants contained therein as Dylan Davis, 41, of Clearlake, Robert Gilbert, 33, of Clearlake, Seth Foster, 27, of Willits, Clint Harbour, 49, of Willits, and William Breen, 24, of Willits. One or more of the occupants matched the earlier descriptions provided and arrangements were made with the victims/witnesses for an in-field showing. As a result of that in-field showing, all occupants were positively identified as suspects to the reported burglary and arrested. All five suspects were ultimately lodged into the Mendocino County Jail and booked on the listed charges with bail set at $50,000.


K.C. Meadows

As we look back on 2032, residents of Mendocino County will remember this year as one of highs and lows.

The county's $552 million budget remains tight and the hiring freeze extended for the 15th year in a row somehow did not keep the county's payroll down. The payroll balloon we saw back in 2015, when California tax revenues increased as the nation's economy took off, has stayed with us ever since. More than 1,000 people were hired here that year, most of them put to work rounding up transients, giving them food, a night's lodging and a check for $25 and then sending them out to be rounded up again the following week.

Those huge new revenues were due in large part to California's booming new service industry: “Hippie Huts” for senior citizen Baby Boomers, many of them with nervous disorders helped only by a mixture of cabernet and marijuana, which sprang up all over the state in special gated communities locked from the outside. Tourists and potential Hut residents actually flocked to the state to see this latest California phenomenon urged on by the advertising campaign of Walnut Creek's X Group which came up with the catchy slogan, “Still Crazy After All These Years.”

Some may remember the X Group for their work in Ukiah trying to undo the damage caused by the city's “Far Out. Nearby” slogan, adopted in 2012. That campaign seemed to be working as tourist visits skyrocketed in 2013. But Ukiahans soon learned that while the town seemed to be full of new people all the time, the hotels were still fairly empty. Turned out the “Far Out” advertisement had been spread wide in the Bay Area and the flocks of “tourists” were actually just Berkeley alumni groups on day trips with potential recruits who were urged to see where they could end up if they did not apply themselves at school.

Anyway, the Ukiah City Council canceled the “Far Out” program in 2018.

The X Group was hired again and tried to help with some new ideas, but even a community slogan-inventing party attracted only a few dozen folk whose best idea was “Ukiah: You Could Do Worse.” X Group returned their stipend and left town.

But that's all in the past. This year, the city finally got the Costco it has been waiting for. The store opened to great fanfare in June, and Ukiah's Mayor Wes Chesbro cut the ribbon reminding the cheering audience that the city had a wonderful new tax revenue source — and only spent $113 million to get it!

Of course there are those who still worry about the effect of a Costco on the downtown, especially after the state decided to build the county's new courthouse in Fort Bragg.

Citing the new Ukiah city ordinance prohibiting Starbucks from locating in the courthouse lobby, the Mendocino County judges — all with third homes either in Mendocino, Elk or Irish Beach — told the state that Fort Bragg would actually be a better location. The city of Fort Bragg gave the state its choice of any five-acre portion of the old ocean-front GP mill site it wanted and the deal was made.

Now the county will actually save some funds moving prisoners to court from the new regional jail built in 2022 in Willits. (Thank you again, Senator Pinches).

The old courthouse block in Ukiah of course still stands empty. The proposed casino continues to be the likeliest solution and longtime City Planning Commission Chairwoman Mari Rodin said just the other day that she has talked with the casino investors and they have promised lots of twinkle lights and a juice bar.

In the meantime Halloween City still uses the building each year for two weeks.

This year will also be remembered for the unbelievable successes of our young people. The Ukiah High School Doobies football team won the state championship this year and the Laytonville High School Mock Emerald Cup went viral for the third year in a row.

Even with those successes the Ukiah Unified School District struggles. The state has been running the Ukiah Valley's schools since 2015 when an audit demanded by a group of students revealed that the money UUSD spent building a new administration building was actually the 2013 payroll and it had to lay off most of its teachers. When class size got to 95, the state stepped in. The state quickly shut down the Mendocino County Office of Education as well, when it was discovered that Superintendent Paul Tichinin had not been to the office in three years.

Despite those struggles, the school children do their best. The state gave up testing students in 2019 and educators throughout the county tout the great strides students are making without the tests, which they say were always just a waste of time and energy. Now colleges in the state test the students when they apply and send most of them to vocational schools of which there are now a number right here in Mendocino County. They have become so popular that students really compete for spots in classes such as:

“Prepping for your first big grow”

“Transient management”

“Finding the homeless”

“Pitfalls in CPS work”

“Water management: How to find and exploit secret sources”

“Graffiti removal”

And with those successful students joining our workforce we certainly have a bright future ahead.

Happy New Year!

K.C. Meadows is the editor of the Ukiah Daily Journal.

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