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Off The Record

THE HAMBURG BURIAL SAGA CONTINUES. If you came in late, the Hamburg family buried the late Carrie Hamburg on the family's 46 acre home site southwest of Ukiah. Mendocino County's Department of Health did not, and could not under California law, issue a burial certificate because home burials are prohibited under California law. Supervisor Hamburg's attorney, Barry Vogel of Ukiah, filed suit in Superior Court Monday, citing, among other things, the state's health and safety code, which says: "If the certificate of death is properly executed and complete, the local registrar of births and deaths shall issue a permit for disposition, that in all cases, shall specify any one of the following: (1) The name of the cemetery where the remains shall be interred; (2) Burial at sea (3) The address or description of the place where remains shall be buried or scattered (4) The address of the location where the cremated remains will be kept."

SECTION 3 seems to suggest home burial can be permitted with proper registration and, as attorney Vogel's suit filed today points out, there is indeed at least one strong precedent case in recent Mendocino County history, that of Jay Baker, a prominent South Coast man who is buried in a corner of Baker Town, his shopping complex in Gualala. Judge Vince Lechowick, then functioning as a Superior Court judge out of Point Arena, signed off on Baker's last wish in 2001. Judge Eric Labowitz of Anderson Valley also signed off on the home burial of an infant some twenty years ago.

THE GIST of the suit Vogel filed for Hamburg, as stated in his introduction, is .... "The facts and legal issues herein concern the right of an individual to be buried on privately owned real property where the public is not invited, welcome or expected. No public health or safety interest is at risk and no member of the public is harmed. No compelling governmental interest exists to abridge these rights and all legitimate governmental record keeping interests are protected."

GIVEN THE BAKER PRECEDENT, and Vogel's fundamental argument as stated above,  Hamburg would seem to have a pretty strong case.

SUPERVISOR HAMBURG has also filed a damages claim against the County of Mendocino. The Supervisor and his attorney aren't talking, and County Counsel Tom Parker, as of Monday, would only confirm that the claim has been filed, but wouldn't reveal its particulars. Since it's clearly public domain, the public has a right to know what the claim is for. We think it's probably to get the County to pay Hamburg's legal bills. By the time this thing is settled, the supervisor's lawyer fees could be considerable.

COUNTY COUNSEL PARKER MUST KNOW that the law is very clear on what he can sequester and what he can't. "Claims against public entities under the Tort Claims Act (Gov’t Code Section 910 et. al.) have long been considered non-exempt public records under the Public Records Act. (See Poway Unified School District v. Superior Court, 62 Cal. App. 4th 1496 (1998) (rejecting agencies denial of access to unsolved claims and holding that claims are public records not exempt from the mandatory disclosure provisions of the Public Records Act).  The County Counsel’s Office may not control the timing of the release of a claim once it has been filed."

NEXT STEP? The claim goes to the Supervisors where presumably, it will be denied.

MRS. HAMBURG had instructed her family to bury her first and sort out whatever legal objections there might be later. “No state interest or public health reason prohibits the burial of my body on my family's land, which is a 46 acre parcel in a rural and mountainous section of Mendocino County, other than recording a memorandum notice advising future owners that a unique condition exists on my property.” The family did as she’d asked and duly filed an application for approval of home burial, anticipating that it would not be approved, could not be approved, because home burials are allowed in California only after a costly and lengthy administrative process.

BUT. BUT IF MENDOCINO COUNTY can break new ground, so to speak, on marijuana, taking on the federal government, one would think the County might also take on state government to permit home burials on suitable properties so long as the gravesite is registered with the County. 46 rural acres is certainly plenty of room for human remains, and who among us doubts that there are bodies planted all over the hidden vastnesses of fair Mendoland? I know of a lady who simply propped her true love against a tree looking out at his favorite vista completely outside any kind of sanctioned process other than ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

OF COURSE the Hamburg burial has already broken down along lib-yobbo lines simply because Hamburg is who he is,  Mendolib's herd bull, If, say, Jared Carter had buried Barbara Bush without a permit on Carter’s ranch south of Ukiah the libs would be demanding immediate excavation.

IN OTHER HAMBURG NEWS, the supervisor was on the short end of the Supervisor’s 4-1 vote assuring the Pinoleville Pomo Nation that the County of Mendocino will roll with whatever impacts installation of a casino and hotel just off 101 north of Ukiah might have. Hamburg said that the County’s existing casinos are so many that they are already “cannibalizing” each other, hastening to shore up the politically correct end of that statement with the qualifier, “This is no criticism whatsoever of Native Americans ... but it's really a sad commentary that this is what we call economic development in Mendocino County, is more and more and more casinos.”

HAMBURG at least raised the issue lots of us wonder about. Where do all the gamblers come from? Well, from all over. I know people who are regulars at the local casinos, and have been regulars since the day they opened. On my brief excursions to the jolly gambling halls at Hopland and Shodakai, it seemed to me both places were more like immigrant Mexican social clubs, with actual gamblers the minority. But both were busy. Do these places turn a profit? They seem to, and they do employ people, native and palefaced alike. And people seem to enjoy themselves at casinos, which is always likely to annoy the gray and the grim.

ANYWAY, MENDOCINO COUNTY is already America’s intoxicant capitol via wine grapes and marijuana farms. Toss in a few County-sanctioned brothels to go with the gambling and the dope, and there’d be northbound traffic jams all the way from Monterrey to Leggett.

THE PINOLEVILLE CASINO, if it ever gets built, and that remains a big if, will go up in two phases on 8.8 acres of reservation land at 2150 N. State Street just north of Ukiah. It would include about 80,000 square feet of gaming space, up to 749 slot machines, 20 table games and, along with restaurants, possibly a four-story, 25-room hotel and event center and a high-rise parking lot.

RECOMMENDED VIEWING: "We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks." This fine documentary film told me more than I needed to know about the personal lives of these two great heroes of global transparency, Manning and Assange, the two men who have brought down governments simply by revealing the crimes of these governments against their own people. And nothing they revealed about the murderous imperialism of our own government and our allies came as any surprise to most of us lib-labs, and most of us certainly loath the subsequent persecution of both men, especially that of Manning who was held for nearly a year incommunicado in a Marine Corps brig and whose trial for treason began this week. He'll never get out, and might even be executed if the psychos in our government have their way. Assange, the film tells us, has had major fallings out with several of his closest associates, by whom he feels betrayed, but whose betrayals Assange is unable to articulate. Those associates complain that he's become impossibly secretive, thus negating his entire life's purpose, which has been No Secrets. For me, the most interesting moments of the film, which seemed to me to dwell a little too much on Manning's sexual confusion, were the interviews with the two women who have famously accused Assange of sexually violating them. They have been universally reviled as everything from prostitutes to CIA lures, and their lives have been repeatedly threatened. But they aren't undercover doxies. Or even doxies. They are everyday liberal women who admired Assange and his work and genuinely liked him. But Assange apparently  forced one into unprotected sex and with the other he seems to have deliberately torn the prophylactic. The film says he has four children stashed around the world, implying that Assange may have some weird compulsion to reproduce beyond the usual bourgie 2.2 children. Neither woman felt much like pursuing the guy but word got out, the Swedish police  demanded statements from them, the media went crazy and, of course, the Building 7 brigades screamed "Frame-up" while the Fox News yobbos  had already been demanding straight-up assassination of both Manning and Assange. The lives of the two women were destroyed as the tabloids printed their photos and even their home addresses. The film is by Alex Gibney who made the great "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room." He's done an honest job in "We Steal Secrets" but, of course, he's already being reviled from every political direction and the film has only been out for a week. The audience I saw it with last Saturday at the Embarcadero Theater in San Francisco seemed more nonplussed than anything. I'm sure we'd all arrived with preconceived ideas about Manning and Assange, and the venue being Frisco those ideas would be overwhelmingly favorable. Nothing I learned at all diminished my admiration for them as political martyrs, but Assange comes across as pretty creepy.

MELANIE HARGIS, 30, of Dos Rios, was arrested last week for cultivation along with a fellow called Jedidiah Jones, 33. Ms. Hargis is easily the most glamorous marijuana cultivator ever arrested in Mendocino County, and perhaps the most glamorous woman to appear in Dos Rios in our time. Black and white newsprint doesn't do her justice. But her technicolor booking photo of bright red lipstick and red dress fairly jumps off the page. Jerry Burns comments: “Jed’s mullet is a work of art! Hargis isn’t bad for Dos Rios. She reminds me of certain waitresses I’ve encountered in roadside cafes, anywhere America.

As Knopfler sang in “Wild West End” … She was a honey /

Pink toenails and hands all / dirty with the money

/ Greasy easy Greasy hair, easy smile

. / Made me feel nineteen for a while…”

SAVE OUR LITTLE LAKE VALLEY is conducting tours along the Highway 101 bypass around Willits. The tours are from 1 to 4pm, Sundays on June 9, 16 and 30 and will be partly on foot partly by vehicle along stretches of the bypass. Reservations are suggested and the group meets initially at the Little Lake Grange to begin the tours. For reservations call (707) 216-5549 or visit

THIS RUMOR is making the rounds on the Mendocino Coast: The Heritage House, recently purchased by a certain Mr. Green out of Florida who flies in and out of Albion in a private jet, is a front man for the Koch Brothers who plan to use the place as a kind of junior varsity Bohemian Grove, the Bohos being too liberal for the Kochs. Could be. The Kochs already own the invaluable Fort Bragg Mill property just up the road.

ALL THAT GUCK dredged at Noyo Harbor is piled up behind Affinito’s motel just south of the Noyo Bridge. It’s become a kind of open air drug mart for Coast area tweekers, much to the despair of locals who like to enjoy the little beach at the mouth of the river.

TOM ALLMAN is already running for a third term as Sheriff. Writing on his Facebook page (Yes, the County Sheriff has a facebook page) Sheriff Allman writes: “Hey Hey Hey! Don't forget to block off Saturday, July 13th, 2013 for a great party in Willits. It is the kick off to my re-election. The band is booked, the food is taken care of, and now we are just waiting for the day to get here! Send me a private post with your address if you have not received an invitation. It will be at the Willits Community Center. Waylon and the Wildcats will be rockin' the place and we would love to see you there. If you have not had a chance to hear Waylon and The Wildcats, you will not be disappointed. They are great! Tri-tip dinner, a great live band and a bunch of friendly folks will be there. $49.00 per person and a local motel has offered a great rate for out of towners. Hope you can make it! —Tom”

FIREWOOD PERMIT SALES RESUME on Jackson Demonstration State Forest Fort Bragg– California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) Mendocino Unit is pleased to announce the resumption of firewood permit sales on Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF). Due to the limited accessibility of timber sale areas containing downed timber, permits will be limited to two cords ($20.00) per household. Firewood areas will be open May 30, through September 30, 2013, until wood supply is gone, or the first significant rain which ever occurs first. Permits and information on how to safely engage in collecting firewood are available at the CAL FIRE Fort Bragg office located at, 802 North Main Street, Fort Bragg, CA (707) 964-5674.

CHRISTOPHER LASCH could have used Mendocino County as the focus population for his pivotal “Culture of Narcissism” where narcissists comprise the majority of our population. In another of his books, I forget which, probably “The Revolt of the Elites,” I wrote down the following: “The ‘radicalism’ of the helping professions have transformed the state into the engine of therapy because the no longer surprising fact is that therapy and bureaucracy have considerable affinity; each seeks rationalization, each is hierarchical and, above all, each is authoritarian.”

BY GUMBO if that isn’t official Mendo to a bloody T, and at least partially explains local public education, the entire Mendocino County bureaucracy, the courts, public radio, the entire “Let’s pull our chairs in a circle and introduce ourselves” passo-aggresso m.o. that prevails here, as if the smiley faces wouldn’t hesitate to do an Abu Ghraib on whatever dissent gets between them and their privileges. When fascism comes to America it will be these people who staff it.

THE SPECIALLY-TRAINED mussel-sniffing dog brought in by the Sonoma County Water Agency to ferret out an invasive, destructive variety of pesky clam, said that the dog was unable to find any of them in Lake Mendocino. The creatures, once established, gum up the valve works. (If you’re wondering why the Sonoma County Water Agency concerns itself with Lake Mendocino it’s because Sonoma County owns almost all the water stored there.)

“FRICTION.” A structural engineer visiting Philo on Wednesday to discuss the replacement of the Philo-Greenwood Bridge remarked that he assumed "friction" would keep the Willits Bypass viaduct upright. I’d buttonholed the guy to ask him how he thought the Willits Bypass’s elevated viaduct could remain upright in the ancient lakebed of Little Lake Valley. I said I couldn’t tell from the construction drawings how far down the piles holding up the viaduct’s support piers were going to be driven, but from the core samples at the site it might be hundreds of feet before you’d hit any kind of bedrock. The engineer said that  clay, especially, can make quite a tough base depending on the thickness of it. He also said that the footings for the Bay Bridge are in what he called “thick bay mud” and are not anchored on bedrock, but are still stable in conjunction with the rest of the bridge. The engineer added that in some ways the “friction” approach to pier support will help the superstructure remain flexible in an earthquake where rigidity can spell disaster. The engineer agreed that there might well be uneven settling and other unknown construction difficulties associated with unstable ground which “can probably be solved with enough money.” If the usual overruns occur, other non-construction parts of the project might have to be sacrificed for cost reasons, and if the overruns are even bigger, the job could stall out part way through. (—ms)

THE GRAND JURY has taken a close look at the food at the County Jail and Juvenile Hall, which inspires the following fond reminisce: In 1996 I spent a couple of weeks in jail on a contempt charge conjured by DA Massini and her judicial gofer, Judge Luther. At that time I wrote that “the food is quite good and much improved from when I was here in 1988. We had a wonderful spaghetti the other night, nearly the equal of my wife's, and some delicious barbecued chicken the next night. The lunch soups, made from leftovers, are excellent, as good as any restaurant soup you’ll find. There’s always a vegetable and often an apple or orange included in the daily fare. Breakfast is at 5am. Lunch seems to be around 10:30am. I say ‘seems to be’ because in isolation one loses track of time. Dinner about four. Meals are delivered on trays pushed through a mail slot-like opening in the door. I read, do push-ups, read, do push-ups, sleep.”

I WAS CONFINED to an iso cell with no contact with anybody except the CO’s, as correctional officers, or jailers, are called, one of whom did me a huge kindness I won’t forget. They'd let me bring in The Chomsky Reader, which I don’t mention out of pretentiousness but because out of jail every time I tried to read it I’d doze off. The professor packs a lot of info into every sentence; it’s hard going. In jail, with nothing else to read, I thought I could at last understand the guy. But after I’d polished off Chomsky in a couple of days I had nothing to read. I mentioned it to the CO when he took me out to shower, and darned if he didn’t take me to the mattress room where there were a bunch of mauled paperbacks thrown into a murky corner where he let me go through them. I fished out a couple of John O’Hara collections, and some other readable stuff, and by the time I got through them I was released. I’ll always be grateful to that jailer. He must have sensed my panic and, as a sympathetic human being in an unsympathetic situation, he got me through five or six days when it wasn’t at all clear how long Judge Passo Aggresso planned to keep me inside. With books, jail was like an austere vacation; without books it would have been real punishment.

THIS YEAR’S GRAND JURY, edited below, takes a look at current conditions at the local jail and juvenile hall: “The Grand Jury received a complaint and reviewed several letters to the editor in the Ukiah Daily Journal complaining of food served at the jail and at Juvenile Hall. During a visit to the jail and the hall, the GJ found both kitchens prepared meals that met the state guidelines and served quality meals at a low cost per meal.”

WHICH IS NOT SURPRISING. Lots of guys complain about the food because they’re used to more sumptuous-seeming junk food on the outside, but the total jail package is often quite good for inmates, at least in the physical sense. If they’re in for awhile they can get the drugs out of their systems, catch up on their sleep and get some basic nutrition into themselves before setting forth for another round of the, ah, strenuous life. Jail is jail, not the Betty Ford Clinic.

“BAKING BREAD at the jail has reduced costs and is providing good training for inmates. The GJ observed that only male inmates work in the garden and recommends that female inmates have the same opportunity. The County contracted dietitian supervises several jail kitchens in other counties. The dietitian praised both the jail and JH Kitchens for the quality of the meals prepared with a minimum amount of equipment. It was explained that condiments are not served at the jail to save money and to lower the amount of salt and sugar in the diet. Preparing low fat, low salt diets are the stated goals for increasing inmate health. The GJ recommends providing a computer for the JH kitchen staff.”

THE SHERIFF brought us a loaf of his 951 Bread one day, and I’m here to tell you it was very, very good. As times grow more austere, even if the Sheriff is forced to feed inmates bread and water, 951 Bread is, nutritionally considered, enough to survive on.

“THE GJ determined the food complaints were unwarranted. If inmates ate all the food served at the jail, their diet may be healthier than what would be consumed at home.

“AVERAGE DAILY Nutritional Requirements: Varies with age and activity. Average men’s needs for sedentary occupation is 2400-2500, women 1900-2000 calories; add 500-800 for moderate activity 700-1100 for hard physical work. Calories: The energy stored in food is measured in terms of calories. Disciplinary meatloaf: Also known as Nutraloaf, prison loaf, disciplinary loaf, food loaf, confinement loaf, or special management meal, is a food served in United States prisons to inmates who have demonstrated significant behavioral issues. It is similar to meatloaf in texture, but has a wider variety of ingredients. Prisoners may be served nutraloaf if they have assaulted prison guards or fellow prisoners. Nutraloaf is usually bland, perhaps even unpleasant, but prison wardens argue that nutraloaf provides enough nutrition to keep prisoners healthy without requiring utensils be issued.”

I LOVED the two phrases: “Nutraloaf is usually bland, perhaps even unpleasant….” The only way you could un-bland and un-unpleasant this uniquely unappetizing glop is to kick it down the road a hundred yards, get your dog to whiz on it, dip it in used motor oil, and leave it out in the sun for a couple of years. The Donner Party would have thrown this stuff back out into the snow. But then at the ball game the other day I watched four women old enough to know better eat those big, dry ball park pretzels dipped in mustard. Given the choice I’d go for Nutraloaf.

“DURING THE GJ’S visit to the jail, the GJ toured the kitchen facilities and ate the same lunch as the inmates. The GJ also had lunch with the youth at Juvenile Hall. In addition, the GJ interviewed the County contracted dietitian, head nurse of the medical services provider to the jail, cooks, and staff of both facilities. The GJ reviewed the menus, California’s nutritional guidelines and reviewed provisions of Title XV.

“INITIALLY, the GJ found the times of meal service at the jail unusual: 5:30am breakfast, 11:30am lunch, and 4:30pm dinner. Staff explained the meal schedule is based on staffing and court scheduling requirements. State regulations require no inmate exceed 14 hours between meals. Food must be consumed when received and cannot be saved for later. The food budget for prisons in California has recently been raised from $2.30 per day to $2.45 per day. The dietitian stated the average budgeted food cost in the County jail is $1 per meal. Condiments such as margarine, jam, catsup and mustard have been discontinued to save costs and reduce the amount of salt and sugar consumed by inmates. The dietitian stated “every effort is being made to provide a heart healthy diet to incarcerated people. However, snacks purchased at the commissary, rich in fat and sugar, wreck a healthy diet.

“THE JAIL KITCHEN provides approximately 250 meals three times each day using bare bones kitchen equipment. The kitchen equipment at the jail is basic, no steam kettles or food processors. The dietitian praised the cooks at both facilities for the quality of meals they produce.

“THE NEW BREAD making equipment at the jail is providing professional training to inmate workers and saving the jail and JH substantial amounts of money. The current cost is $.30 a loaf. Inmates working in the kitchen receive sufficient training to receive food handling certification preparing them for future employment.

“THE JH KITCHEN is small but efficient. At the time of the GJ visit, the cook was preparing 26 meals three times a day. The cook does not have a computer to utilize nutritional information and caloric value of menu items or to send required reports to proper authorities.

“SPECIAL DIETS are available at both locations. Meals meeting religious preferences are also provided at the jail; these are pre-prepackaged and expensive. Pregnant women receive a fourth meal consisting of fruit and additional milk. Medical staff reported to the GJ that many inmates upon admission are overweight and undernourished. The dietitian stated the diet in the jail and Juvenile Hall for some is superior to what they consume on the outside. The Inmate Nutrition disciplinary nutraloaf served to inmates who show extreme behaviors meets the dietary requirements.”

SO DOES HUMAN FLESH, but Nutraloaf, I guess, is the next best thing.

“JUVENILE HALL nutrition requirements are more than those for schools and include one cup of fruit at lunch and a recent increase in the amount of legumes served. Many of the young people at Juvenile Hall were found to be malnourished on arrival.

“STATE DIETARY requirements are as follows: Juvenile hall receives 2817 calories, required 2732 calories. Inmates at the jail receive 2549 calories, required 2518-2700 calories. The menus at the jail are changed annually. The dietitian visits both facilities quarterly.

“THE GJ observed no women working in the jail garden. The garden is an important supplement of fresh produce and healthy outdoor work. The GJ questioned their absence and was told that a male supervisor may not have female inmates working under his supervision. The addition of a female supervisor would allow women to work in the garden.”

A SPECIAL INGRATE TROPHY should go to Marc Joseph Corson, 36, of Fort Bragg, who was found unconscious last week on his living room floor from a drug overdose. When police and paramedics revived the guy, perhaps having saved his life, and attempted to load him into the ambulance, Corson had to be restrained and hauled to the hospital by police. Corson went off again in the emergency room and, in the struggle to subdue him, Sgt. Charles Gilchrist suffered minor injuries when his hand and arm were slammed against the floor. Corson was eventually wrestled to the ground and brought under control enough for a medical evaluation clearing him for arrest. He was charged with suspicion of battery on a police officer causing injury, resisting arrest and making death threats to a police officer.

THE GOVERNOR’S REALIGNMENT program means people who’d ordinarily be packed off to the state pen are doing their time in county jails. So far, Mendocino County hasn’t had to face the overcrowding lots of county jails are experiencing, including the Humboldt County Jail where drug-addicted people who repeatedly commit non-violent crimes are being booked and immediately released. HumCo is almost literally up in arms, especially in the Eureka area where burglaries and other property crimes seem epidemic but where there is no room in jail except for the most egregious offenders.

COMMENT OF THE WEEK: "In 1990, Alex Cockburn was invited to speak by a gang of puritanical Trots at Reed College in Portland, a city almost paralyzed by the conventions of political correctness. In spite of this laborious self-consciousness about its place as a hipster utopia, Portland hosts more strip clubs than any other city its size and lissome Earth First!ers are often glimpsed pole-dancing at Mary’s Club during the winter months to fund their high-wire activism in defense of ancient forests when the snows melt and the chainsaws fire up. For them, stripping is a much less humiliating experience than applying for a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts." — Jeffrey St. Clair

MANBEATER OF THE WEEK: Michelle Patient, 35, and a man identified only as "her boyfriend of 8 months," were having difficulties with their relationship last Saturday, apparently having become violently impatient with lover man.  A Fort Bragg 911 call said "a woman in a long trench coat was throwing pieces of wood at a man." When the Fort Bragg Police arrived, Ms. Patient and her boyfriend said everything between them was absolutely harmonious. But a witness told police that Ms. Patient had smacked her love interest several times, pushed him over a guardrail, and had pelted him with pieces of wood. Officers determined that Ms. Patient was the primary aggressor and took her into custody.

DEPARTMENT OF UNINTENTIONAL HUMOR (then again, maybe it wasn’t unintentional) in Tiffany Revelle’s lead story in last Wednesday’s Ukiah Daily Journal “At issue: Did Mendocino County Public Defender Linda Thompson make a mistake?”

I’D SAY THE ODDS that Thompson made a mistake are about 99-1 she did, but if she did in this one it seems big-time moot anyway. It boils down to the length of a knife blade. Will Timothy Slade Elliott of Hopland, convicted in 2010 of second-degree murder for the 2008 stabbing death of Samuel Billy, 29, also of Hopland, get a new trial? Was the short-blade knife he is alleged to have used on Billy long enough to have killed Billy?

SHOULD THOMPSON have asked for “a hearing outside the jury's presence to exclude the 1.65-inch knife a doctor testified could have been used to inflict the fatal, 6-inch stab wound in Billy's abdomen.”

MS. REVELLE’S STORY has it this way: “‘At trial, I was asked for my opinion of fellow pathologist Dr. Terri Haddix's conclusion that the knife in evidence could not, when fully inserted, inflict a six-inch deep wound,’ according to an April 7, 2012 declaration from Dr. Jason Trent, the pathologist who performed the autopsy on Billy. "I testified to my belief that her conclusion was incorrect. My opinion was based, as I stated at trial, on the knife blade measuring between three to four inches long. Based on this information, I am not absolutely able to conclude whether this knife could have caused a six-inch deep wound. If I was told at trial that the knife blade was 1.65 inches long, I probably would have testified that this knife could not cause a six-inch deep wound. However, keep in mind that the victim is dressed, is overweight and the blade strikes no object other than soft tissue.”

THAT GRIM EPISODE occurred late at night on the Hopland rez, with the only eyewitness being a 7-year-old boy whose long distance view of the stabbing Thompson was unable to shake. A jury had no difficulty convicting Elliott whatever the length of the blade he used or didn’t use.

IN JUNE OF 2011 “Coke” Elliott was back in court, this time with a new attorney, Jan Cole-Wilson of Ukiah, who argued that Elliott should get a new trial because his public defender, Ms. Thompson, had not represented Mr. Elliot adequately.

JUDGE HENDERSON SUBSEQUENTLY denied the new trial application and the Elliott case went into the appeal process which prompted the recent coverage by Ms. Revelle which began, “At issue: Did Mendocino County Public Defender Linda Thompson make a mistake?” She sure did, and it's hardly the first time she's screwed up a murder defense.

STOCKTON’S MATTHEW DAVIES — an entrepreneur and father of two in his 30s — has agreed to a plea bargain that will allow him to serve five years in federal prison for operating medical marijuana facilities.

LIKE A LOT of Californians, Davies, 34, expected that when Barack Obama was elected in 2008, the new administration would not prosecute medical marijuana dispensaries operating under a law passed by California voters in 1996. After all, as a candidate, Obama contended that he saw federal enforcement against medical marijuana as a waste of resources.

ON OCTOBER 19TH, 2009, Deputy Attorney General David Ogden released a memo that instructed the Department of Justice not to focus federal resources “on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.” Davies took that memo as a green light to join the “green rush” and use his MBA expertise to run a taxpaying enterprise to distribute what he refers to as “medicine” to sick people.

NOW THAT HE FACES a minimum sentence of seven years in prison if he pleads guilty, the father of two understands that he should have read the memo more carefully. In fact, the Ogden memo clearly stated that Obama’s Department of Justice would consider “prosecution of significant traffickers of illegal drugs, including marijuana” to be a “core priority.”

DAVIES says his grandfather died a painful death from stomach cancer. He wanted to help others avoid excruciating pain. But he also had seen people run dispensaries the wrong way – for example, not paying their fair share of taxes – and he thought his experience running a bistro and property-management firm would enable him to show how medical marijuana dispensing could be done right. It clicked. “It was that whole Silicon Valley culture,” he recalled. His workers felt they were “part of something.”

UNSYMPATHETIC READERS are free to point out that Davies flouted federal law and he only has himself to blame. OK. Still, Davies started businesses that complied with California law, he paid taxes, he hired people and now he’s going to prison for five years. He’s going to prison for five years — that’s five years of existence subsidized by taxpayers, five years when he won’t see his wife and daughters, five years when he won’t be hiring workers and five years when he won’t be paying taxes. Everyone loses. (Deborah J. Saunders. Courtesy, the San Francisco Chronicle)

RABIES VACCINE CLINIC AND ONE DAY DOG LICENSE AMNESTY — On Saturday June 15 Mendocino County Animal Care Services, a program under Health and Human Services Agency, will hold a one-day Dog License Amnesty Program in conjunction with a low-cost rabies vaccine clinic at the Ukiah Shelter at 298 Plant Road. This “one-stop shopping” opportunity will allow County residents to bring their dog license up to date and, if necessary, have their dog vaccinated against the rabies virus. All dogs over 4 months of age are required by Mendocino County law to have a current rabies vaccine and have a dog license. All penalties for expired licenses will be waived if the animal is registered on June 15. Unfortunately, dog owners who have received a citation from Animal Control for failure to have a current license will not be eligible to participate in the Amnesty Program. License fees are $25 for altered dogs and $55 for un-altered dogs. Cats are not required to have licenses but a rabies vaccine is strongly recommended. Cats must come to the vaccine clinic in a secure cat carrier and dogs must be on leash. The low-cost rabies vaccine will be offered for dogs or cats on Saturday, June 15, from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. The cost of the rabies vaccine will be $6.00. Low-cost micro-chipping will also be available during this time for just $10. This service, which includes registration of the chip, can be a vital tool in helping a lost pet get home. For questions please call the Ukiah Shelter at 463-4427.

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT announced Saturday that they'd "won a dozen awards, including five first-place plaques, in an annual journalism contest held Saturday in Foster City by the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club."

THE NARCOLEPTIC DAILY reported in April they'd won ten awards, one of them for "general excellence," from the California Newspaper Publisher's Association.

THAT'S TWO MONTHS in a row their Santa Rosa excellencies have returned to the Rose City with a trunkload of journalo trophies. Over the years, the paper has amassed thousands of plaques and recycled golf trophies re-inscribed “Press Democrat.” Where do they put them all?

LUHE ‘OTTER’ VILLAGOMEZ, 19, of Ukiah and Windsor, famously survived a 2011 leap off the Golden Gate Bridge with minor injuries. Now a student at Santa Rosa JC, last week Villagomez was interview by college classmates: “I was on a field trip with my class. We were going to walk across the bridge as a kind of end of year thing. When we got to the beginning of the bridge it was like, you know what, that would be cool to jump off the bridge. I used to jump off bridges every day of the summer when I lived in Folsom. At the little rest stop I talked to my friend. I think I’m going to jump off the bridge. I’m like, alright, here. Hold my stuff. Climbing on the rail they’re like freaking out, grabbing me but not really. I climb down onto this I-beam, standing there holding onto the cable, looking back and it’s like, ‘Just go for it.’ Once I started going over the railing, it was like, ‘Alright, yeah, I’ve got this.’ It definitely (felt) like forever, even though it was like 6 or 7 seconds. You jump and are just floating there for a second looking at the horizon. Halfway down you just start going way faster. It wasn’t painful, like getting hit by a truck, but it didn’t hurt.”

FRED LE COUTURIUER, 55, to the rescue. He was surfing under the Bridge when he saw Villagomez jump.

VILLAGOMEZ: “The dude pulled up cussing at me. ‘Why the hell did you do that?’ ‘Just for kicks,’ (I said), trying to like keep afloat.”

Interviewer: “Would you have made it if the surfer wasn’t there?”

Villagomez: “No, probably not. They say the surfer saved me, but really I was like, on there. He told me to climb up, and I’ve always wanted to surf so I was like trying to catch the wave. I don’t know what I was thinking. He’s like, ‘What are you doing?’ Then he starts taking off my shoes and lets them float away. ‘Alright, get off, swim to the left,’ he said. I get tired, don’t think I can make it. ‘Swim to the left,’ he says, so I go to my backstroke. Then I’m being lifted up into the ambulance. I got a broken tailbone. They say I got a punctured lung, but I didn’t really feel that. It cleared up in like two days.”

Interviewer: “Did you have high medical bills? What were the consequences through the school?”

Villagomez: “Definitely lots of zeros, and just a five-day suspension. I don’t think they even have anything in the books for that, except disobeying, not being with the group.”

Interviewer: “What would you say to others?”

Villagomez: “Naw, Don’t even try it. If they asked me and then they got hurt, I would feel like I was responsible.”

VILLAGOMEZ MAY HAVE BEEN SAVED by a series of coincidences that weakened his impact, according to physics professor James Kakalios of the Univ. of Minnesota. Professor Kakalios calculated that the teenager would have been travelling at 80mph when he hit the water. However, air resistance could have cut that to 40 or 50mph. The boy was described by the surfer who rescued him a being “built like a wrester,” which would help increase air resistance, Professor Kakalios added, especially if he had managed to twist his body in the air. “Instead of falling feet first, you rotate your body by 90 degrees so you’re prone to the water,” he said. “Then, at the last minute, you want to rotate yourself back up so you slice the water, lessening its resistance.” Reports of strong winds and San Francisco’s famous fog could also have slowed his descent by creating more resistance. And the presence of a surfer suggests that the water was choppy and so less solid, another lucky factor.

MENDOCINO SPRING POETRY CELEBRATION "Whitman said, "To have great poetry, there must be great audiences." All friends of the lively word are invited to the Mendocino Spring Poetry Celebration at the Hill House in Mendocino, Sunday, June 9. There will be two open readings. Sign up at noon for the reading at 1:00 PM. Sign up at 6:00 for the reading at 7:00 PM. Prepare four minutes for each round — of your own work, or of others. Refreshments and fellowship, open book displays. Contributions requested. Music: Richard Cooper, bass. This will be the 38th Anniversary celebration of Spring marathon readings here, and the eight consecutive revival. The event attracts the best work from the north counties and beyond, typically with forty and more poets and writers. It's also an encouraging opportunity for new voices. All poems read at the Spring celebration will be considered by Dan Roberts for broadcast on KZYX. For information contact Gordon Black at (707) 937-4107 or

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