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Off The Record

THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS is holding a “special meeting” today (Tuesday) with two agenda items. The first is to declare the flooding from a broken pipe at the Dora Street Public/Mental Health building (the old County Hospital) to be an emergency. The second item is a closed session item titled “Pursuant to Government Code Section 54957 - Public Employee Performance Evaluation - Air Pollution Control Officer.” Chris Brown who runs the County's Air Quality Management District is the Air Pollution Control Officer. Brown is known to be out of favor with the Board ever since he slapped them with a $108k fine last year for a minor technical notification oversight during some remodeling/construction at a County building. The fine was referred to the EPA where it was reduced to nothing since the public was never at risk. But the County was out several thousand dollars in unnecessary legal fees it cost the County to appeal Brown's wacky imposition of sanctions over nothing at all. Will the Supes give Brown more than a bad performance review?

COMMENT OF THE DAY: This NFL season was one of the greatest ever, which makes it all the sadder that it feels like the end of an era. The league has never been more popular, generating $9 billion annually. But the speculation over the impending courtroom battle about what NFL collisions do to players' brains made us all realize that change is definitely coming. Twenty years from now, videos of kids playing high school football are going to look like scenes from old movies of people smoking on airplanes. But it's like global warming: Until the day when your dog catches fires, do you really care? (Matt Taibbi)

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!”

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 because 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.

WHEN MS. AMBRECHT died suddenly three weeks ago in Lake County — an acquaintance said “her heart exploded at her dealer's house” — family members 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.

WE'RE TOLD that unattached young women floating through marijuana country on the lookout for successful pharmas are called 'potstitutes.'

TRYING to get information out of government offices is never easy, especially here in Mendocino County where a cult-like secrecy is the norm and pure fear is the prevalent emotion among county workers, so when we tried to find out why Bob West of General Services had been fired or laid off or sent to the timeout room — whatever happened to him — we really had to dig. And? Apparently the guy had become so unpopular with the people he supervised that they were threatening to wildcat strike. Or worse. It's allegedly being sorted out, and we'll report back. Maybe. Some day.

ACCORDING TO THE CHP, a hazmat team was called to Jensen's Truck Stop in Ukiah early last Saturday morning after a car drove into the fuel tank on a stationary semi. The driver of the truck had just filled its two 100-gallon saddle fuel tanks when the careening vehicle struck. The car's driver and two passengers fled the scene, and fled again a few blocks away when a CHP unit stopped the car and the men inside ran. One of the passengers was grabbed and held for interrogation.

LINCOLN, THE MOVIE, is long, confused, boring, and hagiographic to such an extreme that if you didn't know it was about Lincoln it could have been a Jesus promo. The Kabuki Theater in SF is showing the thing in its smallest theater, and there were only 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 certainly very good as Mary Todd Lincoln and Daniel Day-Lewis is very good as a guy in a stovepipe 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 head of the political parade these days. A director of genius might pull off a plausible Lincoln but ol' Shlockberg is not a director of genius. 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 because it's the doggedly uplifting kind of movie that the real dumb liberals dominant in Hollywood like to think reflect historical realities.

SHERIFF ALLMAN will be appearing on the radio twice this week to discuss both his book 'Out There in the Woods,' co-authored by Steve Sparks, that gives a detailed account of the Aaron Bassler double murder investigation, and also the related topics of Mental Health care in the County, gun control, and marijuana. He will be on KZYX & Z with host Norman de Vall at 9am on Thursday, Feb 7 and then KGO 810AM on the Pat Thurston Show that airs at 6.05pm on Sunday, Feb 10...

MAN BEATER OF THE WEEK. There are ladies who really should be suppressed, and Ms. Gabrela Ahumada would seem to be one of them. Ms. Ahumada was arrested in Fort Bragg on January 31, 2013 for “misdemeanor battery against a person the defendant had dating, engagement, marriage or domestic relationship with, and booked into the Mendocino County Jail on bail of $10,000. Ms. Ahumada's boy friend had a tree fall on him, breaking his leg in several places. Confined to his bed as he healed, Ms. Ahumada arrived for a visit during which she informed the young man that he was not the father of their child. In the ensuing exchange of harsh words, Ms. Ahumada, apparently out of verbal ammo, dumped the young man's urine bottle in his face and tried to strike the young man's broken leg with his crutch. So, there he was,stripped of his paternity, his hair reeking from the urine shampoo, Ms. Ahumada still coming at him with the crutch, the young man was left with no option but a 911 call.

SUPER BOWL NOTES: Great game, weird play calling by the Niners on their final possession, with Crabtree absolutely mugged on the very last Niner play of the game, but no call by the refs. Why the Niners didn't run the ball for the touchdown will mystify us Niner fans forever. Kaep played beyond even the superlatives routinely but rightly now applied to him, but his and the Niner's superhuman comeback effort went for naught. The power outage after the endless and endlessly tiresome half-time show delayed the game more than an hour, and could well have been a celestial protest at Beyonce’s arhythmic pelvic thrusts, Beyonce and the power outage nicely serving as a metaphor for the present state of things in our doomed country. As of Monday morning, still no explanation of why the lights failed. The vaunted Super Bowl ads, including one depicting young people destroying a library, ranged from cretinous to infantile, and CBS's previews of their comedy shows proved that not all the morons work at Fox. Except for the game, which I watched with the sound off, the visuals confirmed that it's now just a matter of time... Final score: Baltimore Ravens 34, SF 49ers 31.

HUMBOLDT STATE UNIVERSITY is gearing up to grab the lion's share of consultant money that will be doled out as part of the fraudulent North Coast Marine Protected Areas process. Something called the “MPA Monitoring Enterprise” is expected to issue an RFP for “baseline monitoring” of the MPAs early this year. HSU, which plans on submitting a number of monitoring proposals, held a “Mendocino Stakeholders Open Forum” at the Caspar Community Center on January 26 to discuss their Baseline Monitoring Proposals for the North Coast MPAs. The stated purpose of the meeting was to 1) become more familiar with the concerns and priorities of Mendocino residents; 2) identify additional potential Mendocino collaborators, participants, and resources for HSU monitoring efforts; and 3) develop the strongest possible proposals, involving local expertise and addressing community priorities.

HSU HAS LINED UP 14 of their own employees and 11 palsy-walsys (including three organizations) to work on the monitoring proposals. Out of 25 total participants, 21 are from Eureka, with one each from Oregon, Sacramento, Sonoma, and Santa Cruz. Of the 22 individuals, 14 are PhDs. HSU dispatched a contingent of ten, including 7 PhDs, to the meeting in Caspar to wow the rubes. Although one of the stated purposes of the meeting was to identify “additional” Mendocino collaborators, none are on board now. It seems obvious that HSU thinks they have the monitoring contracts sewed up, but for the sake of appearances needs Mendocino window dressing for insurance. The large delegation from HSU feigned interest in local concerns and priorities and also sent a message that any locals thinking of submitting proposals might as well forget it. The likely outcome will be that people with no local knowledge will profit handsomely from all this while a few locals get paid crumbs for doing the grunt work of the actual monitoring. Which means the monitoring will be just like the process that developed the MPAs themselves.

NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES and the US Fish and Wildlife Service have extended the comment period for the Mendocino Redwood Company (MRC) Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) to 5pm, April 22, 2013. The original 90-day comment period would have ended February 21. The HCP, including an associated Timber Management Plan, and other entitlements, would be approved for an 80-year period with future pubic comments limited to whether or not individual Timber Harvest Plans are in compliance with the approved 80-year HCP. It is unlikely that the extended comment period will have any impact on the process since MRC has been working closely with the regulatory agencies and has incorporated their suggestions into the HCP. In other words, after ten years of the agencies helping MRC put the plan together, there is almost zero chance that any significant changes will be made. And by the close of public comment on April 22, the local enviros will still be wondering what the HCP is and what it does.

THE UKIAH CITY COUNCIL, as reported by Justine Frederiksen in the Ukiah Daily Journal, is using a “Process Enneagram” to discuss its goals.

CITY MANAGER Jane Chambers said she learned the process during a six-month course taught by consultant Steve Zuiebeck. Chambers then drew a triangle which she said represented Identity, Relationships and Information. Then two more triangles with the first one representing Intentions, Principles, and Tensions, and the last one standing for Strategic Approach, The Work, and Deep Learning. Chambers explained that Intentions lead to Principles and Tensions represent challenges. The Strategic Approach resolves Tensions, The Work is putting plans into place, which leads to Deep Learning. By now, the sane people in the room were aware that Ukiah government was fully in the hands of crackpots in dire need of a Process Enema to dislodge the “Enneagram.”

COUNCILMEMBER ‘Red Phil’ Baldwin was alone in questioning Chambers' wacky presentation, pointing out that the process “doesn't help us get any closer to solving a single city issue.” Of course Little Benj Thomas, Mari Rodin and Mary Anne Landis thought it was simply boffo.

THE CITY OF UKIAH, has real financial problems, but the City, clearly dominated by loons, paid out $21,000 to an outside consultant to come up with a City slogan (“Far Out – Nearby”), spent $47,000 to landscape the new electrical substation on Gobbi, botched the Anton Stadium rebuilding process, and proposes to put State Street on a “road diet” to reduce it to two lanes in the most congested part of downtown. And of course the Council tapped their own redevelopment agency for over $25,000 to take away three parking spaces to build a dining platform on public property that benefits only one business — Patrona — which just happens to be the favorite after hours venue of three of the council members.

CHAMBERS NEXT REVIEWED the City's four Strategic Goals, which were developed by the Council several years ago. No one has ever done anything to implement these goals, but the crisp phrase “strategic goals” at least makes it sound like Ukiah's woeful leadership is headed somewhere other than the rocks. “Strategic goals” now joins “Mission Statement” in Ukiah's Big Book of Pointlessness.

DURING THE DISCUSSION of goal number 4 — “Council and staff work together to create a more responsive and effective workplace environment” — Councilmember Rodin said tensions between the council and staff were improved to the point where that goal had been achieved, but councilman Little Benj Thomas, solemnly intoned, “We take that down at our peril.”

RODIN'S ROSY VIEW of Council-Staff relations confirm that she only talks to City Manager Chambers and other administration insiders, but is clueless when it comes to what line staff are thinking, and what line staff is thinking can be summarized as a shocked exclamation, “My job is in the hands of these nuts!”

DURING UKIAH'S LAST BUDGET CYCLE, Chambers proposed to balance the budget by laying off cops, firefighters, parks workers, and by eliminating the Grace Hudson Museum staff, but no cuts to the bloated administrative structure of the City. The City had perfected the art of milking the Redevelopment Agency (RDA) cash cow to subsidize administrative salaries and benefits, thereby providing a prime example of the kinds of abuses that led to the state's repeal of RDA. At the end of RDA, the City was diverting $1 million in RDA funds to pay the City Manager, the Assistant City Manager and others. These salaries were being subsidized by tax revenue that otherwise would have gone to Special Districts, the schools and the County. In the face of public outcry, the Council backed off from the proposed staff cuts, made no cuts to admin, and balanced the budget with another $1 million drawn from their rapidly shrinking reserves.

RDA WAS INTENDED to reduce blight, spur economic development and build low income housing. But in Ukiah it was being used to pay admin salaries which were in effect being funded by property tax revenue that otherwise would have gone to the Special Districts, the local schools and the County. Ukiah offers a case study of the kinds of abuses that led to the repeal of RDA. With a City Manager, an Assistant City Manager and several assistants to the assistant, when the State pulled the RDA plug, you might have thought that a couple of highly paid positions would be on the chopping block. But admin cutbacks are never discussed, a fact that is not lost on line staff. In year five of the recession the City continues to burn through its reserves. And despite all the talk of strategic plans and deep learning there is apparently no plan to do anything differently. Chambers, despite her lack of leadership, was recently rewarded with a two year contract extension with no discussion by the Council, which apparently thinks she is doing a fine job.

THE CITY COUNCIL added Economic Development as a goal without describing what they thought it was. The irony is that RDA, which the Council and City Manager used as a sort of personal slush fund, was originally intended to be an economic development tool. Having not used the RDA funds for their intended purpose, and now that the funds are gone, the City adds economic development as a goal. This is an example of the Strategic Approach which will put The Work in place which will lead to Deep Learning.

THE COUNCIL, which almost never calls on the public until they have finished discussing and deciding the matter before them, finally gave the public a chance to speak. Linda Sanders wanted to know why the planning meetings were always held at the Conference Center, where public attendance is sparse to non-existent and the meetings are not televised. Councilmember Crane struggled to respond, equating the meetings to a retreat where frank and open discussion could take place, something Crane apparently doesn't think desirable in the Council Chambers where the pesky public might be watching.

FINALLY, the Council jotted down ideas on what they would like to see accomplished for each goal. Little Benj, a warm, wonderful human being of the uniquely Mendo type, said he would like to see a “pastor/ombudsman/ethicist on City staff” so that balancing the budget would not become a struggle between “values and the bottom line,” which ignores the obvious — adding one more feel-good/do-nothing position to admin staff will make it that much harder to balance the budget and more likely that one of the people actually doing the work will be hit with a pink slip. And the laid off person will feel bad, Little Benj, real bad.

ANOTHER EXAMPLE of RDA abuses comes from the City of Willits which “loaned” its RDA $37,500 in “seed money” back in 1983 at an interest rate of 12%. (!) The Willits City Council, which also acted as the RDA Board of Directors, never paid a dime of principle or interest on the so-called loan, which continued to compound at a 12% interest rate even as the nation plunged into a deep recession that saw municipal interest returns fall to less than half a percentage point. But because the Willits City administration (unlike Ukiah) complied with all the deadlines for winding down RDA, the City of Willits is being allowed to repay itself $874,000 in RDA funds that otherwise would have gone to local schools, Special Districts and the County. And, in an indication of how badly the new City Council majority wanted to get rid of the guy, Willits can use the first $50,000 or so to pay off recently fired City Manager Paul Cayler whose employment agreement contained a clause requiring a severance payment of six months salary if he was let go by the City.

THE UKIAH UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT’S new administration building, another RDA boondoggle, is going up on South Orchard Avenue in Ukiah. The Superintendant and other top administrators will have plush second floor offices with a view which, given its location, will not include the funding units, er, students. The old administrative offices worked just fine, but Ukiah Unified had to find someplace to spend RDA funds designated for capital improvements. The money comes from an RDA “pass through” agreement that was put in place when the Ukiah RDA was first formed. Ukiah Unified, Mendocino College and MCOE all agreed to drop their legal challenges in return for a percentage of RDA money being set aside for capital improvements identified by them. The local educrats have joined Ukiah in advocating for a continuation of the pass through agreements to prevent property tax money from being distributed as if RDA did not exist. The difference is that without the pass-through agreements the educrats would have to spend the money on teacher salaries and instructional materials instead of new admin headquarters and other monuments to themselves.

(BOONVILLE aside here: Years ago the Boonville School Board hired a fellow we called Wobbling Eagle whose first act was to move his office as far from the sight and sound of young people as he could find and still be on the school grounds. Our nation's future, then and now, is a construct honored rhetorically, less frequently in deed. While I'm rambling irrelevantly on here, there was an unintentionally humorous story in the Press Democrat the other day about a group of Chinese middle school students plunked down at a Santa Rosa middle school. American middle schoolers test out around a fourth grade level by Chinese standards, and one commentator speculated that the Chinese students probably thought they were in a special school for the retarded or a lunatic asylum.)

JEFF COSTELLO COMMENTS: “Regarding Mike Mitchell's comments about bad-behaving sports fans and speculation that they are children of wolves or hippies, hippies as such have never been sports fans and their children for the most part were not raised to think pro sports are important or worth getting worked up about. Rabid sports fans exist in a separate world of their own and tend to breed more sports fans, often easily spotted by the clothes they tend to wear, advertising various teams and players. This is a culture unrelated to anything 'hippie.' Bad behavior in sports nuts comes from fierce loyalty to an abstraction. I wonder how a Scottish soccer thug would react if you called his parents hippies. If Mitchell doesn't like hippies he could just say so.”

##YESTERDAY I was at my local Wal-Mart buying a large bag of Purina dog chow for my loyal pet, Jake, the Wonder Dog. I was in the check-out line when a woman behind me asked if I had a dog. What did she think I had an elephant? So because I'm retired and have little to do, on impulse I told her that no, I didn't have a dog, I was starting the Purina Diet again. I added that I probably shouldn't, because I ended up in the hospital last time, but that I'd lost 50 pounds before I awakened in an intensive care ward with tubes coming out of most of my orifices and IVs in both arms. I told her that it was essentially a Perfect Diet — you just load your pants pockets with Purina Nuggets and simply eat one or two every time you feel hungry. The food is nutritionally complete so it works well. So I was going to try it again. (I have to mention here that practically everyone in line was now enthralled with my story.) Horrified, the woman asked if I ended up in intensive care because the dogfood poisoned me. I told her no, I stopped to pee on a Fire Hydrant and a car hit me. I thought the guy behind her was going to have a heart attack he was laughing so hard. Anyway, Wal-Mart won't let me shop there anymore. Better watch what you ask retired people. They have all the time in the world to think of crazy things to say.

FOR YOUR BEYOND DUMB FILE: Marin County, according to the Press Democrat, the Northcoast's official repository of dumb, spent almost $30 million in 2009 but soon scrapped their “new computerized accounting system which failed to work properly.” Then, after spending $5 million to sue the system supplier, they settled for $3.9 million for a net loss of $1.1 million more.

IN THE PD account of all this, pegged to Sonoma County’s plans to spend “up to $22.4 million” over the next four years to replace their “aging accounting and budgeting system,” we found this totally oxymoronic statement: “Sonoma County officials acknowledged the risk [of repeating the Marin County fiasco] but said they structured their contracts in a different way and sought outside legal help to minimize potential pitfalls for the project.”

HUH? The new system “failed to work” in Marin County, so Sonoma County is hiring attorneys to “minimize potential pitfalls”?

WHY NOT JUST HIRE some high school kids with computer smarts and tell them you’ll pay them for every bug they can find before the system is paid for? But, seriously, why not just find some other more up-to-date accounting and budgeting system from another county and copy it? A proven, working system. Just some new hardware, a software license, some training and minor tweaking, and voila! No risk! And a lot less money. Is Sonoma County (or Marin for that matter) so special that they need to spend $22.4 million to do standard accounting and budgeting basically the same way all California counties do it? And why does the PD pass this “outside legal help” baloney along as “news” instead of addressing the fiasco-waiting-to-happen that it obviously is?

OF COURSE you know that four of Mendocino County's newspapers are owned by an outside media chain. The interchangeable Fort Bragg Advocate and Mendocino Beacon; the Ukiah Daily Journal and the Willits News are the lucrative properties of an outfit called Media Group based, based, based way far away. But rumors drifting out of the north say a group of Willits business people are poised to start a paper aimed straight at competing with the long established Willits News. Still in the talking stage, but Willits could soon be enjoying an old-fashioned newspaper war.

A UKIAH MAN was arrested after 19 guns and a bomb were discovered in his home. Wesley Shultz, 43, was arraigned last Friday before Judge Henderson on an array of charges ranging from being under the influence of a controlled substance to being armed with a concealed weapon. Shultz, undoubtedly a member of a well-regulated militia, pled not guilty to everything he was charged with. According to the Ukiah Police Department, officers were serving an arrest warrant in the 200 block of Cherry Street shortly before 8pm on January 15 when they were contacted by another tweeker who said the cops better have a look at Shultzie. The Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force and UPD detectives responded to assist with the investigation and subsequent search of Shultz's home, where officers reportedly found 19 firearms, an improvised explosive device and homemade gun silencers. Shultz was booked into Mendocino County Jail under $50,000 bail, which he soon posted.

THE CALIFORNIA Department of Justice says 19,784 registered gun owners are listed in its “armed prohibited persons system,” meaning that these people have committed felony-quality crimes that should prevent them from possessing guns. These “armed prohibited persons” own 39,000 handguns and more than 1,600 assault weapons. Assault weapons are banned in California, but people who purchased them before they were banned can legally own them. California knows who these crooks are but does not have the manpower to keep up with the rapidly expanding roster of them, which grows by about 3,000 people per year.

BUT REPUBLICANS and the NRA’s LaPierre, interchangeable entities, recently stated: “We have no national database of these lunatics.” In fact, the NRA has opposed the creation of a national gun sales database for many years. The NRA and the gun industry got their Republican gofers to pass a law that makes it illegal for the ATF to create such a database. So, what's the point of keeping track of people with mental illnesses if you can't know that they own a gun or 100 guns? A reader points out: “James Holmes, who committed the mass murder in the Aurora theater, had been in therapy. His interactions with his therapist had set off major red flags and she had reported her concerns to her superiors, but nobody knew about his guns. So even if they'd forwarded her report to ‘government authorities,’ and even if Holmes had been added to such a database, it wouldn't have done any good because his therapists didn't know, and ‘the authorities’ couldn't have known, about the firearms he'd already purchased, or that he'd recently purchased 6,000 rounds of ammunition online. It's wildly hypocritical for the NRA and the GOP to pretend that they care about public safety when they willfully obstruct the creation of the most useful tool law enforcement authorities could have in identifying criminals and crazies who illegally purchase/possess guns: a national gun sales database. It's not about the Second Amendment. It's about the profits of the gun mongers, same as it ever was. But now two-thirds of the American public support the creation of the registry. Let's see how the NRA and the GOP try to weasel their way out of it this time around.”

OCTOBER 2012 Statistics On Airport Screening

From The Department Of Homeland Security:

Terrorists Discovered: 0

Transvestites: 133

Hernias: 1,485

Hemorrhoid Cases: 3,172

Enlarged Prostates: 8,249

Breast Implants: 59,350

Natural Blondes: 3

It was also discovered that 535 members of Congress had no balls.

MOSS HENRY of Santa Rosa writes: “John Kiriakou, former CIA officer and whistle-blower, has been sentenced to 30 months in prison. In 2007, he confirmed the use of waterboarding and described it as torture. He joins Daniel Ellsberg, Bradley Manning and many others pursued by the government in an effort to intimidate those with access to ‘secrets’ from releasing them. When President Obama was campaigning, he indicated he would support whistleblowers. Now, in power, he doesn't, though whistleblowers are supposedly protected by the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989. Hypocrisy is an equal-opportunity pastime. And no one involved with torturing detainees has been sent to prison. What a surprise. For a democracy to function, citizens need to know what's really happening. And we don't.”

THE MENDOCINO COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT announced Wednesday that a woman smoking a cigarette outside her home in Gualala suffered a severe eye injury when she was struck by shotgun pellets fired in her direction. A description of the car from which the shotgun was fired led Sonoma County deputies to the Kashia reservation at Stewarts Point where they arrested Lamont Salgado, 18, and Christopher Ochoa, 21, and took a .20-gauge shotgun from them. The 39-year-old victim was flown to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital; she has not been identified. She'd been standing outside the home a little after 10pm when a white car passed by and someone fired four to five shotgun rounds in her direction. Salgado and Ochoa were arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and conspiracy and booked into the Mendocino County Jail.

ON THE ABOVE REPORT, the Press Democrat's comment line lit up:

“• Sean Gee, Waterboarding & Interrogation Instructor at Norcal Crime Labs INC: It wasn't attempted murder. The investigation (so far) has shown that the suspects fired at the parked car, of which they thought there were no occupants (there weren't). The victim was hit as a result of the scattering nature of the shotgun shells used. I do agree though, throw (any possible) book at these kids.

• Jackie Barthew: What a couple of idiots. Someone whistled at them and now they must take out their revenge by doing a drive-by on someone's car. They need a good long time in jail and some community service.

• Gustavo Barragan: Point Arena High School. They need to go to prison for a long and these stupid kids were drunk, worthless.

• Kenneth Aaron: The Mendonoma Coast and its' denizens certainly have their share of Drama.

• Eric David Lotter, Special Education Teacher at Anova: I worked with Lamont at Point Arena High School for a while. Nice kid but getting involved in gangs and not showing up to school. Yes, he is from the reservation. The gangs, I believe are an outside influence, not centered in the reservation.”

YOU'VE NOTED long ago how much more informative (and how much livelier) newspaper on-line comment is than the turgid prose that inspires it. And, so far, the new Press Democrat under the Bosco Group is indistinguishable from the old Press Democrat under the Florida Group.

JEFF COSTELLO COMMENTS: “It is worth noting that the NRA consistently uses the somewhat quaint Hollywood movie terms 'good guys and bad guys' in their ongoing appeal for a paranoid armed-to-the-teeth society. And since Wayne La Pierre looks for all the world like the sadistic Ronald Lacey nazi character in 'Raiders of the Lost Ark,' a classic movie villain or Bad Guy if there ever was one, we would do well to think about who's kidding who here, or better yet, who really is who.”

SAD NEWS: Debra De Graw of the Mendocino Coast Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center writes: “Dear Chamber Members, it is with heartfelt sadness that I write to you about the passing of one of our members. I was contacted yesterday by Colleen Murphy’s sister in Minnesota and asked to let the membership know that her sister was positively identified as the person found recently, two miles east of Fort Bragg. Many of you had been patrons of Chapter and Moon restaurant and knew the owner, Colleen Murphy. Some of you know how much she missed Gary who passed last year. Colleen was a quiet and private person. It is sad that she is gone, but as one member said to me, “She is at peace now.” I know she is right and choose to imagine that she and Gary are together again, maybe having a glass of their favorite beverage. With that said, perhaps this is a little reminder to give an extra hug to someone you care about today. To be grateful for the ones we love and have in our lives. As a friend once said to me, “Go out and spread sunshine, you never know who might really need it.” (Ed note: Ms. Murphy’s remains were discovered by a hiker on Saturday, January 13, 2013 near the Skunk Train railroad tracks about two miles east of Fort Bragg. At the time the Sheriff’s Office said they had “reason to believe the remains are of a missing person who appeared to have disappeared voluntarily within the last few months from the Fort Bragg area.”)


1. CalTrans — an agency synonymous with No Accountability. Neighbors of the bypass right of way are already complaining that whenever they ask Caltrans to make minor, no-cost adjustments the Caltrans response is: “That’s not our problem.”

2. It’s not a bypass — Without a Highway 20 interchange (removed because it was “too expensive”), less than half of traffic will be diverted around Willits — at best. And trucks going to or coming from Fort Bragg will actually spend more time in Willits with the Bypass than without it. The thing is only two lanes, one north, one south, a major accident waiting to happen.

3. Caltrans’s traffic studies are obsolete; they are based on the days when there was a logging boom and log trucks ran up and down the 101 in great numbers. Tractor Trailer traffic is way down. The 50s vintage bypass idea is not necessary. It might have been in 1950 when the idea was conceived, but it’s not 1950 anymore.

4. Local pols like Mike Thompson helped ram funding through for the Bypass although more than a hundred Willits businesses signed a petition opposing the Bypass.

5. The Bypass will sink into Little Lake Valley — In an unsuccessful attempt to allow water to flow under part of the Bypass, Caltrans will elevate almost two miles of it on pylons that are anchored in sand, gravel and silt (as documented by their own core samples). If it doesn't sink into this ooze on its own, the Big One will surely topple it.

6. Bad route — If a bypass is needed at all, it should be on the abandoned railroad right of way.

7. Too expensive — Too much money has been spent on paperwork and bad planning which has produced a project that will cost way too much and won’t do what it’s supposed to do.

8. Won’t be finished on time, and may not ever be finished given the precarious state of the economy. Because of its defective design, its extravagant cost and the limited resources available to state governments these days, there’s a very good chance that the project will stall mid-project (due to construction problems or budgetary overruns or both), leaving the traffic situation worse than it was with nothing to show for about $250 million taxpayer dollars.

9. Leaves the expense of maintaining Highway 101 through Willits to Willits. Caltrans is abandoning Willits’s “Main Street” (Highway 101) and leaving its maintenance to the struggling City of Willits. Since a lot of the traffic will still go through Willits (see item 2 above), Willits will be stuck with a maintenance load and cost that is way beyond its means.

10. Very little money for local workers and contractors. Caltrans has hired a Utah-based company to do the work. Their employees will give Willits something of an economic boost, but —

11. It’s bad for local businesses, especially during construction. During the six years or more that the construction lasts, people will avoid Downtown Willits. And if the Bypass is ever completed, surviving businesses will have to reconfigure themselves to the new traffic patterns.

12. Can’t compare to Cloverdale & Ukiah. Those bypasses were simple paving projects on flat stable ground presenting none of the unique problems presented by Little Lake Valley.

13. In spite of all of Caltrans’s expensive “mitigations,” birds and fish — both endangered and not endangered — will die off due to loss of habitat and heavy construction activity. What Caltrans calls “wetlands mitigation” is a few hundred random acres of taxpayer-purchased farmland which is not wetlands and will not become wetlands.

14. It will be unsafe. Getting to accidents on the two-lane raised viaduct will be a major problem for emergency responders.

15. Construction Hell. Dump trucks, pile drivers, and other noisy, noxious heavy equipment will fill Willits roads, sidestreets, and parking areas all over town for who knows how many years, wrecking roadbeds, snarling traffic and creating road repair problems for the City of Willits.

16. Loss of ag land. As the Farm Bureau has argued in court, a huge amount of productive farmland will be taken out of production as (ineffective) wetlands mitigation.

17. Flooding and drainage problems will be created. There’s been no independent analysis of drainage or flood patterns during or after the construction.

18. The local transportation money which could have been spent on real, focused traffic and safety improvements in Little Lake Valley has been spent on the Bypass that isn't a Bypass, and because of that those existing traffic and safety problems are and will remain unsolved.

19. There are better smaller, safer local alternatives which would produce much more tangible traffic improvements sooner for a lot less money and give a real boost to local contractors and businesses.

HUMCO LOGGER WRITES: “Green Diamond, California Redwood Company, Simpson, they are all the same. Truth is using Redwood around ones home is a bad idea. The new Growth stuff isn't strong by any means, and rots pretty darn fast. They market it for Decks, The old growth at least didn't rot and kept the bugs at bay. To make matters worse the Korbel plant pushes trees through so fast that a good bit of it is waste. They also use the waste to carry off hydraulic spills, instead of disposing of it as the law requires. So while I am against the Government telling a Company they can't make (or harvest) a product, I'll be glad when CRC loses so much money that they can't make a profit. The right way for the Redwood industry to have treated itself would have been to let the trees grow as they did for thousands of years, by letting them take 500 years to mature (instead of the 20-60 years they take now. Then we would have had a long lasting, bug free wood that would have lasted hundreds of years (if taken care of) and looked better (old growth, with the fine grains, look so much better) instead of the 3-5 that most of this new growth crap lasts. Go into the headquarters of CRC and look at the fine example they have set up in the lobby (bet they take it down if they read this) of the old growth tree, beside the new growth tree. Same size (circumference) with large rings on the new growth. This is a prime example of how CRC/ GreenDiamond/ Simpson just doesn't get “it.” They actually brag about how fast they can grow trees now. Put it out front. While not realizing that to an educated consumer that they are showing the fatal flaw in their decisions. Is it any surprise that many of the CRC higher ups are executives from other places that left those places in shambles? As a society we should look at this and realize companies should not hide behind many names. That alone is fishy. We should look at the products we buy and talk to our neighbors, friends, and professionals when making purchases. We should think about who made them, the process used, and the quality we'll get out. It all comes down to realizing we only have so many resources (oil will eventually run out) and when we by cheap products, or poorly made (or harvested) ones we are taking from that “pool” of resources, and we might never be able to give it back. If all of that had been done Korbel, as is, would have never existed. That mill alone could harvest more Redwood than this area could ever provide if Simpson, or the consumer, respected Redwood and only used it when its value was worth taking (old growth, and allowing the new growth to grow like the old growth did, with lots of time). Respect is the one word that really nails it all down. Consumers need to respect the resources/value that make our products (which would eliminate cheap china made crap). Workers need to respect the $$$s companies pay them and the $$$ consumers spend to buy their products (which means they would work an honest day’s work, for an honest day’s wage). Companies need to respect the resources, employees, and consumer (which means they pay an honest days wage, for an honest days work while making a good product using sound environmental practices). The Government should only make sure companies play by those values with as little impact or influence as possible (that means it has to figure out how people can use their greed for the greater cause). We all do our part, and it all comes together. Simpson/ GreenDiamond/ CRC gets an “F” on all counts.”

THE WILLITS POETRY SERIES presents the poetry of WJ Ray on Sunday, March 10, 7 PM, at The Muse, 30 East San Francisco Av. in Willits. WJ Ray's poetry has been praised by Gary Snyder, Robert Bly, Miriam Patchen, and Sharon Doubiago. He has said his work is the natural result of living on the land that he and his wife homesteaded in the early Seventies east of Willits. He is also a recognized Shakespeare scholar and lecturer. A selection of his poetry and prose is on the website, Ray produced the first poetry series in Mendocino County in 1985-6 with poets Mary Norbert Korte, Linda Noel, Ann Samson, Sharon Doubiago, Robin Rule, Daniel Marlin, Dan Hibshman, Barry Eisenberg, and Gary Snyder. He was featured on KZYX's Wild Sage Poetry Hour several times and gave a two-hour reading on Speaking of the New Age. His poems have been published in regional media and in the Humboldt State publication Toyon, which included a CD of several to music. During three decades, Ray sub-contracted as a Rural Carrier with the USPS, traveling the alluvial Willits valley from Ridgewood to Reynolds Highway, four miles north of Willits. His nature poetry began there, and he feels the future peace of the entire watershed depends upon defending the six-mile long Little Lake Valley from industrial mutilation in the form of a Utopian highway. The reading constitutes a prayer for the Willits Valley.

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