LAST MAY we wrote about an often-arrested 28-year-old Albion man named Riley Kiesel. He'd been permanently 86'd from Dick's Place in Mendocino, but was charged with attempted murder when he showed up at Dick's a half-hour before closing time. Kiesel had been escorted off the premises by bartender Alexander Behounek, 32. Two hours later, about 3:20am, at the intersection of Little Lake and Lansing, Kiesel, apparently waiting for Behounek to leave work, jumped in front of Behounek's car. Behounek made the nearly fatal error of getting out of his car to confront Kiesel, at which point Kiesel stabbed Behounek in the stomach. Deputies were quickly on the scene and located Kiesel nearby. Kiesel readily admitted to the stabbing and Behounek was airlifted to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital with a serious stab wound. He has since recovered. Kiesel had a record of local arrests going back to 2004, including charges of carrying concealed weapons, drunk in public and marijuana-related offenses. For his attack on Behounek, Kiesel was charged with attempted murder on bail of $200,000.
A MONTH LATER, Kiesel appeared in Ten Mile Court before visiting Judge Galen Hathway to plead not guilty to a reduced charge of assault with a deadly weapon causing great bodily injury. A jury trial was set for August 22. The judge noted that Kiesel “also has two [prior] violations of probation.”
KIESEL WAS BACK in Ten Mile Court in September, this time before Judge Clayton Brennan where he was sentenced to a year in the County Jail for nearly stabbing Behounek to death. As part of the deal, Kiesel was to complete a six-month residential treatment program of his choice (one without a religious component). He was also court-ordered to attend four AA meetings per week for the full term of his probation and restitution was reserved for his victim plus $700 restitution to the court.”
ON NOVEMBER 8th, “Riley G. Kiesel, in custody, agreed to pay his victim, Al Sanders, restitution totaling $7,341.”
SOMEHOW Kiesel’s victim, the aforementioned bartender Alexander Behounek, had morphed into a guy named Al (“Big Al”) Sanders. In any case, Kiesel was still in custody on November 8 when he agreed to pay the guy he tried to kill, Sanders/Behounek, $7,341.
KIESEL WAS AGAIN in the news on Tuesday, February 12 as commemorated by the Arcata Police Department: “During the late evening hours of Feb. 12, 2013, Arcata Police officers on foot patrol in the downtown area detained a male subject, later identified as Riley Gordon Kiesel, age 29, of Mendocino, CA. Kiesel was detained on suspicion of possession and use of a controlled substance. During the course of their investigation, Kiesel fled from the officers through a downtown alley. He was captured after a brief foot pursuit and arrested for resisting arrest. In a search pursuant to his arrest, Kiesel was found to be in possession of a loaded .38 caliber Smith and Wesson handgun. Kiesel was arrested and booked at the Humboldt County Jail without further incident and the following charges have been submitted to the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office: Carrying a concealed firearm upon a person; Carrying a loaded firearm in public; Resisting arrest; Violation of terms of probation/not to possess firearm; Possession of firearm by subject of a restraining order; Violation of probation.
THERE ARE CROOKS and then there's Jack Silver of the bogus environmental non-profit called River Watch out of Occidental, West Sonoma County, home of the otherwise good and righteous. River Watch consists of Silver, a second ethically-challenged attorney, an answering machine, and a bogus board of directors which, some ten years ago, consisted of Silver's mother, his brother, erstwhile communist and Earth First! activist Pam Davis, and several other individuals who probably did not exist.
RIVER WATCH ferrets out technical violations of environmental regs, especially those committed by deep-pocketed public entities — Ferndale, Fortuna, Willits to name several towns Silver has already fleeced. Silver zips off a letter to the civic offender informing them that they either pay him now or he will sue them for even more money. The targeted civic typically winds up settling with Silver rather than spend public money fighting him in court. None of these entities are guilty of willfully violating the law. Typically, the “guilty party” is getting into compliance when Silver swoops down on them or the matter is inconsequential.
ESSENTIALLY, River Watch is a shakedown operation, a fact solidified by Silver's candid website where we learn that last year his phony non-profit racked up $1.7 million in litigation fees, almost all it from out of court settlements, while paying himself $1.4 million in legal fees. Silver always promises to do environmental good with the money he wins but, as we see from his own figures, Silver himself is the best environmental good he can think of. Lately, and as always, he's busy threatening public bodies but he's also branched off into suing private businesses, especially boat repair companies, of which there are many strewn around the vast San Francisco Bay. We often receive angry phone calls from people representing towns or small businesses ripped off by Silver. All we can do is commiserate and refer them to our website where we try to track one of the most flagrant scammers going.
A DISCARDED BOOK from the Larkspur Library had this message from a time unlike ours written in longhand in the back inside cover:
Steal not this book for fear of shame,
For in it stands the owner’s name,
For the Lord will say on that Great Day,
Where is the book you stole away,
And if you say you do not know,
He’ll cast you down below,
You’ll go up the ladder and down the rope,
And there you hang until you choke.
It is signed by Colette Anderson
IN A PRESS RELEASE ON TUESDAY, February 12, 2013, Coast Hospital “announced that it has cut its workforce by twenty positions with annualized savings of $1.5 million in wages and benefits. The cuts were effective February 12. The reduction in force is based upon seniority according to our collective bargaining agreement and affects eleven departments within the hospital. The affected individuals will receive severance pay in accordance with the hospital’s compensation policies. “This action is a significant step toward reducing expenses and aligning them with reduced inpatient volumes,” explained CEO/CFO Wayne Allen. “The reductions will not compromise patient quality and/or safety. I do not expect additional cuts in the foreseeable future.” The action follows losses for the first six months of the fiscal year of nearly $1.9 million. “As I promised the Board at our last meeting, the poor financial performance is not sustainable and action steps would be taken to reduce our losses for the year,” said Allen.
HOW TO TELL the dead from the living: “Premature burial used to be a real-life worry for me when I worked as a forensic investigator. In 1978 I took a job as an investigator for a medical examiner in the US. I would be called to the scene of a death to pronounce the person dead and investigate the circumstances. It's not as easy as you might think, especially in a wreck off the highway at night with just a small flashlight. A stethoscope is of little use. If you can get to the carotid and femoral arteries, observe the abdomen and chest and tap on the cornea, you're good to go after three or four minutes. I'm not looking to see if they're alive: I'm making sure they're dead. That's a big difference. I know of two cases where a person was pronounced dead and was later found alive. In the first case, my partner and I happened to be in the emergency room when the deceased came in; death had been pronounced 20 minutes earlier, but my partner took a look and saw that the person was still alive. In neither case did the patient ever regain consciousness: they died again about a day later of the diseases of old age that caused their first deaths.” (Jack Sturiano)
“AMONG OTHER MEASURES employed in the past to ascertain death there was enemas of tobacco smoke. Can this kindly practice be the origin of the mystifying (to me) phrase used by contemporary North Americans for flattery, 'blowing smoke up your ass'?” (Paul Brightwell)
CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVE LYNN WOOLSEY and Senator Barbara Boxer have long been champions of expanding the Cordell Banks and Gulf of the Farallones Marine Sanctuaries as a way to protect the coast from oil and gas drilling. They have introduced bills in Congress every year since 2003 with that aim, but the bills have never been able to pass both houses of congress. And with the current Republican stranglehold there is no chance that the House of Representatives will pass ocean protection legislation. But marine sanctuaries can also be expanded by administrative action that does not require congressional approval. In 2008, during a review of the management plans for the two northern California marine sanctuaries, NOAA was encouraged to conduct a public process to ensure that the sanctuary boundaries were inclusive of the surrounding area's natural resources and ecological qualities. But no action was taken until last December when the proposed expansion was suddenly announced. Speculation is that the current initiative is a retirement gift for Representative Woolsey.
PUBLIC MEETINGS were held last week in Point Arena and Gualala to take input on the proposed northern expansion of the Cordell Banks and Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries. The expansions would protect the entire Sonoma County coast from offshore oil and gas drilling, but would only extend to Alder Creek, just north of Point Arena in Mendocino County. Recently retired Representative Woolsey was present at both the Point Arena and Gualala meetings, as was Rachel Binah and Richard Charter. Binah, as irritating as she can be at times, has a true passion for ocean protection. Charter is co-chair of the National Outer Continental Shelf Coalition; has received the Ocean Hero Award from the Defenders of Wildlife; and is recognized as an Ocean Hero by The Ocean Foundation. He's also made a very nice living off the ocean protection movement for the last quarter century. Supervisors Dan Gjerde and John McCowen also attended the Point Arena meeting and Fort Bragg City Councilmember Doug Hammerstrom was seen in Gualala. Heidi Dickerson was also present representing freshman Congressional Rep Jared Huffman.
NOAA was well represented at both meetings, with about ten staffers on hand, including the superintendents of both the Cordell Banks and Gulf of the Farallones Marine Sanctuaries. The meetings opened with an overview of the process and remarks by Representative Woolsey. Following general questions about the process, the meetings were broken up into smaller groups with two NOAA reps at each table, one to act as a facilitator and one to record comments. The facilitators and recorders asked questions for clarification and the recorders often read comments back to make sure they were accurately capturing the comments. If NOAA believes an expansion is justified (and that seems to be a foregone conclusion) an Environmental Impact Statement will be prepared through a public process in adherence to the National Environmental Protection Act (another piece of Nixon era environmental regulation, along with the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts). The EIS will be subject to public comment and public hearings following which an administrative decision can be made by NOAA. A final decision could be made by July, 2014.
THE NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARIES fall under the purview of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) which is part of the Department of Commerce. NOAA also oversees the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) which has the power, (which it has wielded in recent years), to shut down the fishing industry by abbreviating or closing fishing seasons altogether. For this reason, the local fisherfolk are more than a little suspicious that the parent agency of NMFS might be given broad new regulatory authority. Recent experience with the Marine Life Protected Areas process, where the concerns of locals were given short shrift, especially in the Point Arena area, have left locals with little tolerance for additional government-imposed regulation. Concern was also expressed that local traditions, like the 4th of July fireworks in Point Arena, need to be protected.
NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARY STATUS, according to NOAA, would not impose any new restrictions on sport or commercial fisheries within the proposed expansions as they are currently written. Based largely on the prohibition of oil and gas drilling, a number of people at both meetings advocated that the entire Mendocino County coast should be included in the expanded sanctuaries and some advocated for an extension all the way to the Oregon border, if not all the way to Ketchikan, Alaska. Part of the justification for the expansion to just north of Point Arena is an offshore “upwelling” which brings an abundance of nutrient rich food sources to the ocean surface, attracting large numbers of avian and marine species to the area. The upwelling extends far north of Point Arena and adds credibility to the argument in favor of a further northward expansion. Public comment will be accepted through March 1.
LAST THURSDAY MORNING'S PRESS DEMOCRAT contained a minor masterpiece of grammatical Stalinism. Discussing the hiring of former Willits City Manager Paul Cayler to be Cloverdale's interim manager, Cloverdale's mayor, Joe Palla, said Cayler had not been fired by Willits. “Fired is not a correct verbiage,” Palla told the PD. “It was more that he was released from his contract, based on the fact they wanted to move in a different direction. It's very common with city managers and in some cases, police chiefs.” The Willits City Council, however, had been forced to concede that Cayler had indeed been “fired” in the aftermath of their weasel-lipped press release that said Willits had “chosen to pursue a different direction with regard to the City Manager position.” Councilperson Holly Madrigal told the Press Democrat she couldn't say what that new direction Willits was headed in without Cayler at the controls because “it's a personnel matter.” Which it isn't. A new direction, strictly speaking, is geography, and applied as a metaphor still isn't a person or “personnel matter.” But people who can talk and write like this can be counted on to take us all to very bad places in every conceivable direction.
THREE PEOPLE have filed for election to fill the single open seat on the Fort Bragg City Council left vacant by Dan Gjerde, now serving as Fourth District Supervisor. Madeleine Melo, Heidi Kraut and Derek Hoyle are the candidates, with Mrs. Melo expected to easily triumph. The special election, by mail, concludes May 7. Mrs. Melo, of course, is the widow of Jere Melo, a long-time member of the Fort Bragg City Council and former mayor who was murdered two years ago during the now-famous Aaron Bassler interlude. Ms. Kraut manages Coast Hospital's thrift store and is a notary public. Derek Hoyle served as an interim director at the now defunct Coast branch of Big Brothers and Sisters. He is a Fort Bragg Planning Commissioner and hosts a music show on KZYX.
MICHAEL TOMS of New Dimensions Radio has died from diabetes at age 72. Toms cashed in on the national narcissism known as the “consciousness movement,” who did cash and carry interviews with “spiritual” people, many of them celebrities, most of them dingbats, who talked about how finally attuned they are to the planetary influences that make them just so doggone nice and so fascinatingly “highly evolved” they just have to spread the good news. Toms, a rotund fellow who definitely did not make his spiritual home within the double cheeseburger contours of his temporal form, would murmur assent and throw out his own woo-woo affirmations, and a rollickingly galactic good time was had by all. Toms hustled these conversations to non-profit radio stations whose comfortable demographic is prone to prolonged examination of its own fine feelings. The profits from the tapes he pedaled on air without paying for advertising went to Toms and his wife, Justine who, for years, lived in the Ukiah area, Mendocino County being a kind of rural redoubt for New Age charlatans of all types.
A READER WRITES: “That would be horrendous if the AVA was only on-line! Surely people who bought the paper in Yorkville will now buy it in Boonville or Philo? And is there no where else to sell them in Hopland? Real Goods? We would be happy to pay $1.50 per paper- would raising the price help? (it's easy to find an extra $1.50 a week, harder to come up with the “bulk” sum once a year...and, we prefer buying the paper once a week at Lemons rather than waiting for the PO to get it to us in a timely way...) oh please, not only on-line!! (as I sit here at the computer in Ukiah, at the LIBRARY! been without a computer 2 months now! new one is coming, but jeez, I sure wouldn't want to have to use it for the paper- I hate reading on-line! no electronic reading “gizmos” for me!!) take care.”
NO DANGER of us moving solely into cyber-space any time soon, although we're being shoved in that direction by the larger forces we've discussed before. Hopland-area readers can now buy the paper at the Hopland Ale House, a perfect venue where you can enjoy a quality beer or two as you linger over our lively columns of marching gray.
FROM THE SACRAMENTO BEE’s recent story on the just-completed Governor-ordered audit of State Parks after the 2012 “discovery” of $20 million in hidden unused funds: “As a result of these findings, the auditor concluded that the department was ‘premature’ in deciding which 70 parks to close – given that it could not demonstrate that the closures would actually save the required money. In addition, it found that the cost estimates officials did rely on were as much as a decade old.”
STATE SENATOR NOREEN EVANS issued the following statement Thursday in response to the State Auditor's Report on Parks 2012: “The auditor's report confirms my ongoing criticisms and concerns that parks failed to use the criteria developed by the legislature in 2011 which led to the premature proposal to close 70 state parks. Further, the Department of Finance transferred money between funds which should have triggered notification to the legislature and the public. To have reaffirmed today that these false reports go back at least 21 years is disturbing and was entirely avoidable had appropriate oversight been in place. The votes I — and every other member of the legislature — cast in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 budgets were based on flagrant overstatements that were never disclosed to the public, nor the legislature. I reaffirm my commitment to protect and preserve every California state park. With this information and the anticipation of the second half of the auditor's report due later this year, I will continue my efforts through legislation this year to again mandate satisfactory oversight within the parks department. In the meantime, I will eagerly await the responses from parks and the Department of Finance following the auditor's recommendations. Lastly, I renew my offer to work directly with the governor and his newly appointed director of parks to ensure the legacy we leave for our state parks is worthy of the beauty, opportunity and grandeur befitting of this Golden State.”
MENDOCINO COUNTY was scheduled to be in federal court on Tuesday, February 19th, for a hearing on its motion to quash the federal subpoena for County marijuana records. The hearing has been put over yet again, this time until March 19th when it is set for 2:30 in Courtroom 3 of the Northern District Court in San Francisco.
THE FEDERAL SUBPOENAS have demanded “any and all records” pertaining to the County's medical marijuana cultivation ordinance, which had been amended to allow medical marijuana collectives to buy permits to grow up to 99 plants from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office. Originally, 9.31 allowed 25 plants per parcel.
THE 99 PLANT program began in June 2010 and ended in March 2012 when the U.S. Attorney's Office threatened legal action against the permitting program.
THE FEDERAL SUBPOENAS want all County communications regarding 9.31, including communications regarding third-party medical marijuana garden inspectors and pertinent records held by the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors.
THE MEDICAL MARIJUANA INDUSTRY of course has urged the County to fight the federal demand for information on the County’s attempt to make a few public bucks off its most prevalent agricultural export crop.
THE COUNTY announced back on December 11th that it had hired San Francisco attorney William Osterhoudt to represent the County; Mr. O subsequently filed the motion to quash the federal subpoenas on the grounds that they are “overbroad and burdensome,” and an “improper intrusion” on the County's and the State's autonomous authority. The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors maintains that its 9.31 records are confidential.
SHANE BARRETT, 41, of Willits, was arrested early Friday morning near Lincoln, Nebraska on suspicion of transporting more than 80 pounds of marijuana. Barrett was arrested after a check of his driver’s license showed that he was wanted on a warrant alleging drug possession in Sonoma County. Officers found a bottle of hydrocodone tablets and 40 packages of pot in the truck. Barrett is being held in the Lancaster County (Nebraska) Jail.
THERE’S ALWAYS THE LOCAL ANGLE. Or at least it often seems so. Remember Maureen O'Connor, the first female mayor of San Diego, and her husband, Jack in the Box mogul Robert O. Peterson? With other members of the family, including Maureen’s sister, Mavoureen, the O’Connor sisters and their wealthy husbands invested heavily in Mendocino Coast real estate, buying up the Mendocino Hotel and the Heritage House. Maureen, out of office now for nearly a decade, is in the news for allegedly dropping an estimated $1 billion dollars to video-poker machines, that vast loss coming partly from a charity established by her late husband.
PREPOSTEROUS STATEMENTS from the preposterous CalTrans spokesman, Phil Frisbie, in Friday's Press Democrat:
• “Work on the bypass, which would eliminate a long-standing traffic chokepoint on the North Coast's major north-south route, is to begin at the end of the month, said Phil Frisbie, a Mendocino County Caltrans official.”
WRONG. Whatever numbers you use, Caltrans' or the numbers of the critics of this massive boondoggle, the Caltrans bypass — will not “eliminate a long-standing choke point.”
• “FRISBIE, however, said Caltrans had looked into the Railroad Avenue corridor and found it wanting, primarily because it would require the removal of homes and would interfere with planned operation of the rail line.”
HAR DE HAR, PHIL. A few homes never stopped Caltrans in other highway projects, and it’s hardly a reason to rule out an otherwise viable option like the railroad tracks, an existing bypass if it were to become one. And 2. The only people who “plan” to operate the rail line are the Democratic Party hacks at the North Coast Railroad Authority the Party sends to die there. The rail corridor would have been a viable route, it would have been a lot less expensive.
• “The project is really a result of Caltrans being overly sensitive,” City Councilman Bruce Burton said. “This project clearly reflects the input of those (environmental) agencies more than the engineering and usefulness of the design.”
WOW! Burton only occasionally comes into contact with the reality most of us know, but saying that Caltrans has been “overly sensitive” is bizarre even seen through his Fox News lens. Caltrans has indeed spent a lot of money trying to “mitigate” environmental problems. But their “mitigations” are mainly to substitute non-wetlands farmland for wetlands that would be destroyed if the Bypass is ever built.
ADDRESSING the “input” of “(environmental) agencies” does not show any “sensitivity” nor does it represent any kind of actual environmental benefit — it’s purely a paperwork exercise among bureaucrats who wouldn’t know Little Lake Valley if they sunk into it.
JONATAN SASTRE-CORDOVA, 35, of Fort Bragg, driving drunk, managed to knock out power to most of Fort Bragg late Friday when a series of crashes he caused sheared off a main PG&E pole critical to Fort Bragg’s electrical grid. Some 5,200 households lost power at 11:22pm. Fort Bragg police found Sastre-Cordova at Madrone and Whipple streets attempting to drive away from a tangle of wires and another badly damaged vehicle in his 2008 Chevrolet Suburban. Police Sgt. Brandon Lee said Sastre-Cordova’s careening SUV caused a five-block radius of power lines to come down. “It's a big mess from one guy driving under the influence of alcohol,” he said. After police and fire personnel secured the area, PG&E crews arrived at the scene at about 2am to begin repairs. As of Saturday morning, power had been fully restored.
FRIDAY NIGHT, at 7:45pm, and only hours after a meteor exploded over Russia and injured more than 1,000 people, and an asteroid had passed relatively close to Earth, many NorCal residents in California, including the AVA, saw a meteorstreak downward to the West. Astronomers say smaller meteorites hit earth five to ten times a year, but chances of a large meteor passing, such as the one that streaked over Chelyabinsk, Russia, are much rarer. Another meteor landed in the Bay Area in October and caused a loud sonic boom. Bay Area media outlets reported Friday evening's fireball was reported from Gilroy, about 80 miles south of San Francisco, to Sacramento, about 90 miles to the northeast.
MENDOCINO REAL ESTATE AGENTS who ignore history are doomed to Robichaud it. Back in 2002, a high flying Coast realtor, Jim Robichaud, was packed off to state prison for embezzling an estimated $293,000 from his clients and Mendocino County. The clients were shorn of their rents, the County of its bed tax on those rents. Related charges included writing bad checks and tax evasion. Robichaud did his time, came back to Mendocino to marry another real estate lady and moved to Eureka where, presumably, he lives happily ever after.
ROBICHAUD, ironically, was prosecuted by Tim Stoen, the same Tim Stoen who has ignored a Robichaud-like case presently making a whole lot of Coast people very, very angry. Robichaud’s main move was to stick the money from rentals he was managing into his own pocket. Rent a place for a weekend, keep the $400 for yourself and both the owner of the rental and the County get robbed, the owner for his rental fee, the County for bed tax. Or rent it for a week and tell the owner it was only rented for the weekend. While you're at it, stiff the ladies who clean up after the guests, charge the owner for household supplies and firewood that go to your house instead of into the rental. So why isn’t the DA moving on the guy who folded Shoreline Vacation Rentals even though some 30 rental owners are saying he Robichaud them? He's still out there in Fort Bragg selling real estate.
PENNILESS & OPTIMISTIC (AVA, November 2002)
To the people of Mendocino:
I would like to thank the local media for giving me this opportunity to accept full responsibility for violating the laws regulating trust accounts, to express my remorse for what’s happened, and to thank those who have helped.
I also want to express my appreciation to the many friends and past customers who have supported me through their personal letters to the Court.
I would like to take some time to explain how I ended up penniless and owing $300,000.
The Village of Mendocino in the 70s and 80s was an impoverished community. I arrived in 1973 in the hopes of marrying and raising a family. It was a natural progression from window cleaner to janitorial company owner to vacation rentals.
After a pitifully short time in the vacation rental business I was fool enough to guarantee homeowners a net monthly rent while the company sub-rented by the night.
The expenses of operating these guaranteed homes outpaced their income by staggering amounts (the DRE [Department of Real Estate] auditor estimated a loss of $10,000 per month). After a few years finding and correcting the problem I was looking at an overall debt of more than $300,000.
When I learned of the changes to the Trust account regulations in 1990, I didn't want to research the issue any further than necessary. It seemed to me at the time that the most important priority was to repay the debts by maximizing the nightly rents.
I want the Court to know, and I want the people of Mendocino to know that had I realized then what I know now, I would never have gone down that path.
It's not easy for me to discuss private failures in a public forum, but I do so because I want to be honest and to earn your trust and respect. I have spent this entire time on a strict regimen of repayment and hard work. I now apologize and ask for your forgiveness, I am truly sorry for permitting myself to be other than totally honest. This has been an excruciating and painful lesson, which is not yet over.
Now it is time for a healing and a “clearing of the board” in this whole matter. All parties want the same thing — a fair and final resolution where everyone can be made whole again. I am certain that I have the skills, the talent, and the integrity to repay the innocent parties that I have harmed.
Through wiser eyes, I look forward to a new beginning.
Jim Robichaud, Mendocino/San Quentin. PS. Pay your taxes!
OFFICERS were summoned at 1:19am on Wednesday (February 13) to an apartment in the 400 block of South Harold Street in Fort Bragg where a pre-Valentine's Day argument had been raging. The male victim was outside his home in an alley waiting for the police to arrive, apparently fearful of the rampaging young woman inside the house. The young man told officers that Rebecca G. Thomas-Deal, 24, was upset with him because she thought he wasn't listening to her, which he probably wasn't, being young and unaware that experienced men feign attention, occasionally nodding assent or throwing out a periodic “That's right, sweetie,” rather than tune out entirely. “Selective hearing” is another accusation men are accustomed to, but ignoring your sig other altogether can be risky, as Ms. Thomas-Deal apparently proved the other night out in the fog belt. She was so frustrated by her boyfriend's inattention she allegedly started “throwing household items” at her love interest, “pushing him and hitting his face and chest.” Officers reportedly found several scratches on “the victim's face and chest.” Based on the evidence presented by household disarray and visible injuries to El Wimpo, officers arrested Thomas-Deal on suspicion of domestic violence. She was booked at the Fort Bragg Police Department and hauled over the hill to the Mendocino County Jail where her bail was set at $25,000.
HUMBOLDT COUNTY POLICE recently found what they described as “a small cave filled with more than 100 firearms, 117 pounds of marijuana, stolen vehicles and $12,000 in cash.” The diverse cache was unearthed on the 55-acre property of 30-year old Ryan Floyd, a second generation HumCo crook. Elsewhere on the property, cops found stolen jewelry, methamphetamine, body armor, heroin, thousands of rounds of ammunition, drug scales, a stolen tractor, and some 40 other vehicles. It's safe to say that Floyd was dealing drugs and guns. At the time of his arrest, following a high speed chase that saw Floyd pile his pick-up into a tree and dash off on foot before being caught, Floyd was wanted on an outstanding warrant for possession of illegal narcotics while armed.
OF COURSE one can only speculate as to the actual numbers, but many of us who live here — especially hill muffins dwelling deep in the forests — can tell stories of people who keep piles of guns and are engaged in the different, but often overlapping, branches of the drug trade. If Obama were to deliver a true state of the nation address he would have to say, “My fellow citizens, there's some heavy alienation in this paved-over, nervous land of ours. Citizen Floyd is merely the tip of a national iceberg.”
A STORY in Sunday's SF Chronicle described how a handgun, obtained by a person without a criminal history for a person with a criminal history, made its way to Laytonville where an 18-year-old boy, distraught over the death of his mother, used it to kill himself. That gun, originally sold in Colorado, had apparently gotten to Laytonville as part of a drug transaction.
FORMER MENDOCINO COUNTY SUPERVISOR JIM EDDIE has been appointed president of the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District Board. Eddie, a Potter Valley rancher, represented Mendocino County's 3rd District for 20 years, followed by the past 18 years as Mendo's rep on the Bridge board. The Bridge, by the way, is in the last stages of a $700 million earthquake retrofit and just last week began all-electronic toll collections. It also remains a major draw for suicides, with the most recent being two weeks ago. The local media don't report Bridge suicides, but they average out to one every 9 weeks.
THE FOREST STEWARDSHIP COUNCIL (FSC) was ostensibly founded to encourage sustainable timber production via certified “green” practices. With the recent certification of Green Diamond Resource Co., FSC has fully morphed into a green-washing tool for corporate interests. Green Diamond, as required by FSC, held a public meeting at the Bayside Grange, Humboldt County, last Wednesday (February 13) where company honchos explained their forestry practices to a full house. Some people seemed satisfied by the pro- forma assurances of environmental stewardship they heard, but others challenged the process and the crumbs that were being offered to the community.
DISCUSSION FOCUSED on the 7,600 acre McKay tract south of Eureka and Strawberry Rock near Trinidad. John Berstein of the Trust for Public Land said they were working with Green Diamond to preserve 1,200 acres of the McKay Tract and acquire a conservation easement on several hundred additional acres, although the rest would be open to logging. The company said they were also looking at creating conservation easements for the trail to Strawberry Rock, the rock itself, and the forest right next to the trail, a deal that would protect about 27 acres while leaving another 100 in the immediate area open to logging. So the company gives up its right to log a few hundred high profile acres that it might not be able to log anyway, and in return gets a green light (and green certification) to continue its destructive clear cutting and herbicide practices on the remainder of its extensive holdings. And FSC collects big piles of corporate cash for the initial certification and ongoing monitoring.
FSC HAD ALREADY COME UNDER INCREASING CRITICISM for its certification of Mendocino and Humboldt Redwood Companies who still rely on clear cutting and heavy herbicide use. But Green Diamond, along with Red Emerson's Sierra Pacific Industries, has distinguished itself as being completely indifferent to the concerns of local communities or the health of the environment. But urban consumers want to feel good about the lumber they buy. FSC certification allows the urban consumer to feel righteous about their purchase of wood products without having to do the research to know what the impacts really are. Except the consumer can no longer rely on FSC certification.
SEIU AND SONOMA COUNTY have reached a tentative contract agreement following eleven months of increasingly bitter negotiations. SEIU represents about half of Sonoma County's 3,500 employees. The agreement was reached after a 17-hour negotiating session last week and came on the eve of a threatened strike by SEIU that was called for February 28. SEIU said the threatened strike was in response to “unfair labor practices” by Sonoma County which is what SEIU always says when they are not getting their way at the bargaining table. For its part, the county threatened to discipline workers who took part in what they said was an illegal strike.
SONOMA COUNTY OFFICIALS were tight-lipped on the details, but SEIU published what they said was a summary of the agreement on their website. Both Sonoma County and SEIU tried to spin the agreement as a victory for their respective sides, but a quick glance at the details makes it seem obvious that Sonoma County rolled over, probably because of the addition of SEIU-backed Susan Gorin who replaced Valerie Brown on the SoCo Board of Supervisors last month. Just a couple of months ago the SEIU membership overwhelmingly rejected a 3% wage cut that had been negotiated with the county. It seems likely that the SEIU leadership encouraged their members to vote that agreement down, knowing that Gorin would soon be taking over for Brown. Most people in the private sector would be thrilled if they only had to take a 3% cut from what they were making before the recession hit. But most public employees have continued to receive regular increases according to an established salary schedule. And now they will get even more increases, at least in Sonoma County.
AS RECENTLY AS LAST TUESDAY, assistant Sonoma County administrator Chris Thomas said there was no room for a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) because of continuing weak economic projections. But following the marathon negotiating session last Wednesday, the union emerged with a 2.5-year contract that provides for a 3% COLA, increased county contributions to healthcare, and one time payments that total between $1,910 and $2,772 to each employee. And although SEIU always makes it a point to say that they represent the lowest paid employees, SEIU insisted on higher payments for those who are higher paid. So much for the old idea of “all for one and one for all.” The agreement also converts 17 hours of “floating” holiday pay (previously targeted by the county for elimination) into an equal amount of additional vacation. In exchange for the COLA increase, the cash payments, and the increased contribution to healthcare, the union gave up pension related items that they were already required to give up as part of the statewide pension reform that took effect January 1. In short, Sonoma County caved on every front and now can look forward to similar demands from its other bargaining units.
CLOSER TO HOME, the Ukiah Unified School District and the Ukiah Teachers Association have reached agreement on a three year contract that will give teachers roughly a nine percent raise. Beginning pay will go from about $36,000 to $40,000 and will top out at $77,432, up from $71,000. The agreement also includes cash payments for retirement incentives. Anyone who agrees to retire by March 8 will be paid $20,000 on top of their retirement benefits. Anyone who announces their retirement by January 1, 2014 will be paid an extra $10,000. Somehow, these retirements are supposed to make the wage increases more affordable for the district. One actual reform included in the agreement was the elimination of a program — and why was this ever part of a collective bargaining agreement in the first place? — that set aside $300,000 a year for paid “consultancies” to retired teachers, which enabled them to work for the district as consultants while drawing full retirement benefits. The so-called consultancies were a thinly veiled gift of public funds. Ukiah Unified plans to pay for the increases by drawing down its reserves, an option identified by Anne Molgaard, Megan Van Sant and Gail Monpere when they first ran for the school board with the backing of the Ukiah teacher's association. Molgaard, Van Sant and Monpere have drawn public sector paychecks their entire working lives.
MENDOCINO COUNTY also appears to have begun contract negotiations with its bargaining units, based on closed session notations on the Board of Supes agendas. County employees all took a 10% cut in the last round of negotiations and are rumored to be interested in restoring some or all of the cuts. News of the agreement between SEIU and Sonoma County and Ukiah Unified and the teachers will likely stiffen the resolve of County employees to push the envelope. But there is just one problem. Mendocino County, as detailed recently in the mid-year budget report, is still waiting to see any kind of economic rebound. County revenue remains stagnant and is expected to stay that way for the next several years. Healthcare and retirement costs are expected to continue ratcheting up every year at double-digit rates. But the geniuses who are running SEIU are already telling their members that they intend to restore the wage cuts.
DAVE EBERLY, president of the local chapter of SEIU, showed up at the mid-year budget review to read a letter into the record. Jackie Carvallo, or even her ineffective predecessor, Lynda McClure, were at least able to come to the microphone and make a series of points without a letter or notes. And the point of the letter was to show how much money the County has, which is shaping up as a replay of the previous contract negotiations where SEIU kept acting like the County was rolling in dough. Which it is not — as a basic review of the balance sheet makes clear. But it looks like SEIU is poised to continue the same confrontational tactics that wound up getting them an initial 12% pay cut last year when the county only wanted 10%. No wonder Eberly, a decent guy in a tough position, seems uncomfortable while reading his letters to the board.
SANDY MADRIGAL, who was not present at the mid-year budget review, was previously announced as the new business agent for the local SEIU chapter. Only it turns out that corporate SEIU in Oakland, which calls the shots, has only installed Madrigal as an “interim.” Since the position is at will and can be let go at any time, it is not clear what the significance is. However, keeping Madrigal on a short string makes it clear that she is answerable to the union honchos in Oakland, not the local members.
SOURCES WITHIN SEIU say the union is suing the county over the Mental Health Request for Proposals (RFP). The County is seeking to contract out or “privatize” adult mental health services. SEIU says the county can't do that and to do so would be a waste of public funds. The Mental Health RFP has been in the works for two years or more so it is curious that SEIU is just now raising the issue. It is also not clear what SEIU bases these assertions on since public agencies contract out for numerous services. In fact, the County currently contracts with Redwood Children's Services (RCS) and other non-profits, both local and outtahere, to provide a wide range of mental health related services. RCS is widely believed to have submitted a proposal in response to the current RFP.
HOLD THE PRESSES! The Fort Bragg Advocate News has come out swinging against theft. The paper's bold stand was triggered by the circulation director catching a woman who was taking more newspapers from a newsstand than she had paid for, a not infrequent occurrence which the Advocate says costs it 5,000 newspapers a year. The editorial then details the petty pilfering of jellybeans, cashews and so forth from the bulk food bins at local markets, making the point most of us absorbed in kindergarten that theft is theft except when banks do it. Of course deadbeats have grazed for years at local markets, with mom and pops taking a beating in losses. The editorial then does some ritual handwringing about the poor example that these crooked individuals are setting for the children. If it's ok for daddy to steal a handful of nuts from the bulk food bin, how can dad object when little Bobby rips off a bicycle? The paper then prattles on about teaching the children right from wrong, expressing a concern that too many tykes are getting the right message on who owns what. All this from a paper which maintained a stoic silence while Fort Bragg homie, former Supervisor Kendall Smith, lied on her claim forms for travel reimbursement and stonewalled three successive Grand Juries when they told her to pay the money back. Smith had to be threatened with jail by DA Eyster before she finally paid the money back to the county.
COLLEGE OF THE REDWOODS (CR) has been notified by the Accrediting Commission for State & Junior colleges that it has been upgraded from “show cause” status (as in show us why we should not revoke your accreditation right now) to probation. Probation indicates that CR still deviates significantly from accepted practice. The college was given until October to correct the remaining deficiencies, including creating a “professional development plan” and a hiring plan to increase “equity and diversity among employees.” Which might be a challenge since CR has gone through a round of layoffs to try and get expenses in line with revenue. To retain accreditation CR must also show improvement in three areas dealing with fiscal stability, a task that college president Kathryn Smith acknowledged will be challenging. If CR loses accreditation it will also lose access to state and federal funds. Smith was known as Kathy Lehner before she got married and took the job at CR.
SMITH RECENTLY VISITED the CR Mendocino Coast Campus where the bookstore has been shuttered and most of the college staff laid off. Smith met with a couple of dozen students and staff to fulfill a recent promise that CR administrators would make the drive from Eureka to Fort Bragg more often, a promise that isn't likely to be kept for long. The local dean is being laid off at the end of the current school year. Paid faculty may be next as Smith bluntly said that the Coast Campus is in jeopardy of closing and that more online classes might be a way forward. Smith said that when she was president of Mendocino College she had been approached about taking over the Coast Campus but didn't think it penciled out since she was told that it ran $500,000 in the red. A big part of that red ink is the charges that Eureka assesses for all the services that it supposedly provides. The coasties, who were determined not to be second fiddle to the Ukiah based Mendocino College, are finding out that it is not so great to be a colony of the even more distant CR edu-bureaucracy.
POINT CABRILLO Light Station State Historic Park offers a variety of volunteer opportunities: in the 1909 Light House, with Whale Festival (March 2-3 and 16-17, 2013), lead tours of the 300 acre State Historic Park, interpret Marine Science, help in the office with data entry and volunteer record keeping, or show off and interpret the history of the First Assistant Light Keeper’s Home: Whale Docent, Training and Refresher — Saturday February 23rd, 10am to 2pm. The Whales are coming and volunteers are needed to point them out to visitors. If you want to be the person with all the answers or just learn more about whales, then come to the Whale Docent Training. It will highlight the biology, physiology and current conservation issues surrounding the California Gray Whale as well as interpretive techniques for outdoor naturalists. Docents and naturalists from other groups are welcome to attend. Meet at The First Assistant Light Keeper’s House Museum (East House). Bring a sack lunch. Contact: Tanya Smart, 964-4235 or firstname.lastname@example.org
FREE FOSTER CARE INFORMATION Session — Redwood Children’s Services, Inc. invites the public to a short presentation on foster care and how you may be able to help children in our community. There are many children throughout Lake and Mendocino Counties in need of a caring home for short and long term care. With various parenting options we feel we can find a way to help our children and fit your lifestyle. (Huh? Make a few bucks off the kid without adjusting your life?) Please join us Monday, February 25th 5:30PM-7:00PM at Redwood Children’s Services 780 South Dora Street, Ukiah and find out how you can become part of our team. For more information please call Willow Anderson at 467-2010 and visit us on the web at www.rcs4kids.org and facebook.
REDWOOD CHILDREN’S SERVICES is the privatized foster care adopted by Mendocino County by which a layer of “non-profits” are paid to find foster homes for the children of the poor, those children having provided lucrative livings for Mendocino County's Nice People all the way back to Jim Jones and his People's Temple.