THE SAN FRANCISCO ATTORNEY hired to represent Mendocino County in the County's effort to defend itself against the federal subpoena for County marijuana records is paid $300 an hour plus $225 an hour for his “associate attorneys.” So far Mr. Osterhoudt (and staff) has racked up $12,427 in fees, after assuring Mendo he'd try to keep the entire bill under $12,000. Since the matter has been twice put over, he hasn't even appeared in court yet, so look for even larger paydays for Osterhoudt to come. So, you're wondering, why isn't our County Counsel's office — the lawyers we already pay to represent Mendocino County — handling this thing? Good question.
A READER WRITES: “Well, here we go again. There is a small ‘herd’ of miniature horses in Willits that are being neglected. They have long overgrown hooves and most have an upper respiratory infection. We have been told there is a “boneyard” in a ravine on the ranch. SAFER (Sonoma Action For Equine Rescue) has put the pressure on Animal Control and supposedly they are going out to check on them Tuesday. If by Wednesday nothing has happened and there is no plan in place to rescue them (a mini horse rescue outfit is in place!), then all hell is going to break loose and we will give you access to a lot of correspondence. It will be in the papers, PETA has already been called, etc. SAFER is tired of dealing with the ineptness of Mendocino County’s animal control officers and policies. No other County in California ignores the suffering of animals like we do!”
WOLVES & HIPPIES: Mike Mitchell of San Francisco writes: “As a lifelong sports fan, I am looking forward to the big game. But, in the last few years I have been wondering who pays for all the damage done by today's fans. Whether it's a college basketball championship, like last year, or a big-league title, we have come to expect the crowds that burn people's cars and destroy storefronts. For most people, a car is the second largest investment they will make. So, are the victims expected to just accept their fate, just because a team either wins or loses (doesn't seem to matter which)? After last year's Kentucky basketball riots and our own World Series riots, I was wondering if the schools, the teams or the cities step in and help those who lose a car or business. After all, they are the ones with a stake in these games. I also wonder how much force citizens are allowed to use to protect their property. The police make a minimal effort to stop the rioters or to catch them, unless they burn a city bus. The rioters are not out of control fans; they have a flawed character. It's what happens when you are raised by wolves or hippies.”
THE MENDOCINO COUNTY REPUBLICAN Central Committee will meet Saturday, February 16, 2013, 10:00 AM – 12:00 Noon at the Little Lake Grange, 291 School Street, Willits, CA 95490. For further information contact: Stan Anderson, 707-321-2592.
BRIDGETT AMBRECHT has died. She was the Bridgett central to a series of events that put Billy Mayfield in prison for better than two decades, events exhaustively reported by the AVA. Bridgett was still Mrs. Billy Mayfield when Mayfield discovered her in bed with a 29-year-old Willits man named Mark Snyder. Snyder had a gun on his nightstand as if in anticipation of Mayfield's arrival, but when Mayfield did arrive he shot Snyder before Snyder could get to his gun. Bridgett was uninjured.
MAYFIELD was packed off to state prison where he managed to achieve a university degree from UC Davis and was otherwise an exemplary inmate. He has finally been paroled after being held years beyond his adjudicated release date, as a succession of governors postured as “tough on crime.” It almost goes without saying that upon his release, a condition of which is banishment from his home county of Mendocino is central, Mayfield immediately found employment and has resumed life as a law-abiding citizen.
MS. AMBRECHT, post-Mayfield, continued to lead what Victorians would have described as a “lewd and dissolute life.” She was deep into men and methamphetamine. When she died suddenly three weeks ago in Lake County — an acquaintance said “her heart exploded at her dealer's house” — her most recent and final husband's family found “nine life insurance policies on her latest husband” and a “two inch stack of credit cards in his name” that her husband “had been unaware of.” The husband was certainly aware that one morning as he drove to work a wheel unaccountably blew off his truck and he was nearly killed.
ACCORDING TO THE CHP, a hazmat team was called to Jensen's Truck Stop in Ukiah early Saturday morning after a car drove into the fuel tank on a stationary semi. The incident occurred at 12:30am Saturday morning (just after midnight). The driver of the truck had just filled its two, 100-gallon saddle fuel tanks. The car's driver and two passengers fled the scene, and fled again a few blocks away when a CHP unit spotted the fleeing vehicle. One of the passengers was held for interrogation.
LINCOLN, THE MOVIE, is long, confused, corny, boring, and hagiographic to such an extreme it's laughable. The Kabuki is showing the thing in its smallest theater. There were seven of us at the 12:10pm showing Saturday afternoon, which seems to mean moviegoers have spread the word it isn't very good. But Sally Fields is very good as Mary Todd Lincoln and Daniel Day-Lewis is very good as a guy in a tall hat, but not convincing as Honest Abe, the man Tolstoy said was the finest human being ever. Lincoln's certainly our premier person, especially put aside the devolved characters at the political parade these days. It would be interesting to see what Quentin Tarantino might do with the same material. Django is the only really good movie of 2012 but watch Lincoln get all the trophies at the Academy Awards.
HOMOPHOBIA ROCKS SUPER BOWL
By Dave Zirin
When Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo said he hoped this year’s Super Bowl would be a platform to discuss LGBT rights, I don't think this is exactly what he had in mind. First on media day, San Francisco 49er Chris Culliver was asked by Howard Stern acolyte and living symbol of American declinism Artie Lange if he’d ever accept a Gay teammate. Culliver said, “No, we don’t got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do. Can’t be with that sweet stuff. Nah…can’t be…in the locker room man. Nah.” In rapid-response fashion, Culliver then issued the finest, most heartfelt apology a 49er public relations intern ever had to write.
Then two 49ers, Ahmad Brooks and Isaac Sopoaga, denied ever appearing in the team’s much praised anti-LGBT bullying “It Gets Better” Public Service Announcement, despite video evidence to the contrary. Sopoaga said, “I never went, and now someone is using my name.” This pushed “It Gets Better” founder Dan Savage to actually remove the video from their website. After tweeting that the 49er PSA was being taken down, Savage used three hashtags: #homophobia #NFL #horseshit.
As if this weren't enough vitriol for one week, on Sunday the league will be holding their 24th annual Super Bowl Gospel Celebration, and for reasons they have refused to comment upon, it is stacked with an all-star cast of anti-gay bloviators. We are talking about religious singers and preachers who have said things that would make Rick Santorum blush.
This is the point where I’m sure people might ask why any of this matters. Well, it matters for a multitude of reasons.
First, whether we like it or not, athletes are role models. Complaining about this fact of American life is like complaining that the sky is blue or John Boehner is orange. Therefore, it makes a difference if they are modeling inclusion and respect for our LGBT friends and family. As Hudson Taylor, founder of the organization Athlete Ally said in a statement, “Chris Culliver’s comments are disrespectful, discriminatory and dangerous, particularly for the young people who look up to him.”
It also matters because as long as there has been football, from its inception when Teddy Roosevelt would lash out at “sissies” who refused to play, it has been one of the ways manhood has been defined in the United States. Being a “real man” means playing through pain, harming others, and limping away when the game is done. To be gay means, as Culliver said in a modern incarnation of Teddy Roosevelt, you are bringing “that sweet stuff in the locker room.” When NFL players like Ayanbadejo, Chris Kluwe, and Scott Fujita speak out for gay rights, they are also implicitly speaking out against these rigid, crushing, social constructions that are long overdue to be thrown in the dustbin of history.
If the 49ers don’t want to do this for some abstract notion of “society” maybe they can think of their former teammate 30-year-old Kwame Harris. It was announced this week that Harris is in trouble with the law after allegedly assaulting his ex-boyfriend last year. For many of his teammates, it came as a shock that their friend and colleague was gay. Even though Harris is dealing with his own legal troubles, he still found time to bravely address Chris Culliver’s comments saying, “It’s surprising that in 2013 Chris Culliver would use his 15 minutes to spread vitriol and hate. I recognize that these are comments that he may come to regret and that he may come to see that gay people are not so different than straight people.”
The San Francisco 49ers might want to take a lesson from one of the players they’re opposing this Sunday on the Ravens. Perhaps it’s too much to ask them to emulate Ayanbadejo, a courageous activist for LGBT equality. But maybe they can take a baby step to being more like Terrell Suggs. When asked if he would object to having a gay teammate, Suggs said, “Absolutely not…whatever a person’s choice is, it’s their choice. On this team, with so many different personalities, we just accept people for who they are and we don’t really care too much about a player’s sexuality. To each their own. You know who you are, and we accept you for it.”
This week perhaps hasn’t gone as Ayanbadejo dreamed. But it’s also been very instructive. We’ve seen the truth about whether there is an LGBT-friendly culture in the NFL and the truth is that we have a ways to go. The truth is also that, whether the league or some of its players like it or not, it is in fact getting better. But if an active player is ever going to feel confident enough to come out of the closet, it's going to have to get one whole hell of a lot better than it is now.
SERIOUS NEWS Is In Low Supply From Mainstream Media
by RALPH NADER
On January 30, 2013, an unusual front-page story appeared prominently in The Washington Post about a small DC charity called Martha’s Table that serves meals to 1,100 people a day, has early-childhood and after-school programs, and provides other community-enriching programs. Among its distinctions is a giant volunteer corps of, according to the Post, “10,000 school kids, poor people and the occasional president who chops vegetables and builds sandwiches.” Fascinating!
The only reason for the Post writing and front-paging the article is that the new, full-time, volunteer president is Patty Stonesifer, ex-Microsoft megamillionaire, ex-chief executive of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and ex-chairperson of the Smithsonian Institution’s Board of Regents. Amazing!
The Post’s million readers also got to see Ms. Stonesifer say, “I was amazed at how there is a city within a city here… This idea that the District [of Columbia] has so much child hunger, it’s mind-boggling.”
The Post, the local television stations and cable shows often do not showcase the District’s big dirty secret. That, among its glittering affluent class (mostly shorn of noblesse oblige), half-dozen major universities and governmental departments, there is widespread, deep poverty, unhealthy and afflicted children, and higher rates of cancer and diabetes, for example, than most states.
What is important to the Post and other local media are local professional sports, local entertainment, visiting celebrities, and endless gossip or other permutations of such page- and time-fillers. The Post obviously believes that the injured knee of rookie sensation, Robert Griffin III and its impact on the Redskins’ organization are too big for its sport pages, and required multiple front-page stories since RGIII injured himself during playoffs in January.
The Post has been cutting back — ending its separate daily business section and its separate Sunday Book Review section. But its (spectator) sports section remains large with numerous reporters, columnists, feature writers, editors and gossip-mongers frantically scurrying around.
A Post front page last week featured an article by sports columnist Sally Jenkins, but not one by their recently retired, superb business columnist Steve Pearlstein, who tells readers how and why their living standards are being mauled by big business. I doubt that readers would be upset were Ms. Jenkins to have written that column back in the sports pages instead.
When one of America’s leading newspapers decides to lighten up or stupefy — take your pick — its content at a time of grave developments and degradations in our society — local, regional, national and international, “We the People” need to be part of the conversation. It is not sufficient to be told vaguely about the illusive “surveys” of reader opinion that do not convey the availability of real choices.
Space and time for serious matters are also increasingly limited in other news outlets. Over 90% of commercial radio is music and advertisements. Commercial TV entertainment and ads are not far behind. There are fewer examples of serious, compelling programming by the national afternoon entertainment shows than there were in the Phil Donahue, Mike Douglas and Merv Griffin shows. These shows found some time to inform readers about auto safety, unsafe medicines and other consumer and environmental subjects. Now, it is nonstop sadomasochism, reality show family drama or other similar kinds of cheating and betrayals in relationships. Forget about local television shows — most are long gone, having been displaced by these syndicated shows.
Bear in mind, much of this modern Sodom and Gomorrah is conducted on our public airwaves used by broadcasters for free. When I called Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, the leading bloviated soliloquists on radio, “corporate welfare kings,” they were nonplussed as if profitably using our public airwaves without payment is their birthright.
This week, the media buildup is for the Superbowl. Endless articles, features and gossip, with huge photographs, swarm superficially over the pages and airwaves and cable networks. There is simply no such restraint. Enough is enough! Soon, the buildup will be for Hollywood’s Oscars on February 24, and all the “players” will be profiled and psycho-analyzed.
In the meantime, valiant Americans are striving to reduce or prevent the pain, anguish and costs of preventable tragedies — poverty, repression, marginalization, exclusion and the chronic indifference to posterity in favor of vested pressures for instant gratification. The press releases, reports, accomplishments and testimonies of those striving for justice receive very little coverage from the mass media.
Groups with compelling causes come from around the country to the National Press building for well-prepared news conferences only to find no one there from the press, except an occasional indie reporter. NPR and PBS do not come close to wanting to fill some of this void.
Without media coverage, the civic community cannot, even if it demonstrates in the streets and squares, expand its audience of concern. Citizen morale struggles to persist in the face of powerful opposition. Gone is the wisdom of famed newspaper publisher, Joseph Pulitzer who advised his reporters “to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”
People in the colony of the District of Columbia march, protest, and host important news conferences to press for statehood so that they can have a voting representative and senator(s) in Congress. They regularly get shut out of the local media. After all, it’s only electoral democracy they’re working to install.
Maybe a blend is necessary. How about Robert Griffin III becoming the full-time chair of the DC statehood association, in the off-season? Or would that give the editors of the Post too much cognitive dissonance?
(Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition.)