WILLITS POLICE are investigating the death of Danny Lawrason, 77, found dead in his home on East San Francisco Avenue on Sunday June 16th. A press release from the police was ambiguous. It said that Lawrason suffered “gunshot wounds” — plural — but his death “is being investigated to determine whether foul play was involved.” Foul play as speculation means the old man was either murdered or he shot himself. Forensics are expected to reveal which.
SO, a maybe homicide of an old man in Willits, a definite homicide on Spy Rock of a young Mexican immigrant found dead at a pot op, an LA kid missing out of Southern Humboldt who said he was going to work on “Murder Mountain,” which sounds like Spy Rock but could be any ridgetop between Spy Rock and Arcata, the likely homicide of Fort Bragg's Katlyn Long, and the unprosecuted homicide of Ukiah's Susan Keegan.
NOT THAT DRUG murders are less serious than the bludgeoning of Mrs. Keegan by Doctor Keegan, and not that the shooting death of an old man in his home is easy to unravel, but we don't know who committed these crimes. But how about prosecuting the crimes where we do know who did it? If Doctor Keegan and Mrs. Keegan are the only people on the premises and the death certificate says that Mrs. Keegan was murdered, where is the prosecution, Mr. DA? It's past time to get the doctor on the stand. Of course if the professional classes of Mendocino County get free passes to bludgeon their mates to death maybe the DA should update its policy manual to indicate the new reality, which is really only a continuation of the old reality under DA Eyster's predecessor. We expect more of Eyster who, we will recall, successfully agitated the County for an experienced major crimes prosecutor in Paul Sequiera. But this far into the Eyster-Sequiera regime, all we've seen is the usual fish being shot in the same old tiny barrel.
WORSE, IN ITS WAY, is the death of young Katlyn Long of Fort Bragg. She spends her last night with her estranged boy friend at his request. The boyfriend, Garrett Matson, scion of Fort Bragg's prominent Matson family, wakes up the next morning; Katlyn doesn't. She dead from a drug overdose, but she's not a drug person. Matson hires ace criminal defense attorney Richard Petersen. Petersen tells the cops, in this case the Mendocino County Sheriff's Department, that if they'll submit the questions they want to ask Matson to Petersen, the cops would be welcome to interrogate his “client.”
FIRST OFF, a dead girl with one other person in the room obviously constitutes probable cause that the alive person is responsible for the dead girl. Why wasn't Matson arrested on the spot? His lawyer can sit in on any subsequent questioning, of course, but that questioning should have occurred at the County Jail. But it never took place at all, either in or out of jail.
ANY OTHER PLACE than this bumbling jurisdiction, Matson would have been run through the system. As it stands, we've got two male killers running around loose because law enforcement, all the way up to the DA, haven't done their jobs.
BUT DOCTOR KEEGAN is the more egregious of the two perps. He was married to Susan Keegan for thirty years, but wasted no time hooking up with a new girl friend only weeks after his wife died at his hands. He, too, was the only person on the premises when his wife turned up dead. And Mrs. Keegan's death certificate was subsequently changed to “homicide.” Again, two persons in the house, one of them is murdered, and it wasn't the doctor. Why hasn't he been arrested and charged?
THE MENDOCINO COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE has formally identified the victim of a shooting near a Spy Rock Road pot garden as Upper Lake resident Hugo Olea-Lopez, 23. Olea-Lopez was found dead of a single gunshot wound to the torso on Monday, June 17. The Sheriff’s department believes he had been camping and tending about 300 budding pot plants in two temporary greenhouses. It remains unclear why or by whom he was killed, although an anonymous someone connected to the incident called a family member to report the slaying, leading to the discovery of his death. The pot plants in the vicinity appeared to have been cut prior to the arrival of investigators.
KC MEADOWS, of the Ukiah Daily Journal, nicely sums up Supervisor Hamburg's terminally cynical strategy to bury his wife at the Hamburg home southwest of Ukiah outside the permit process. Meadows editorial appeared in the Sunday edition of the paper. “I hesitate to get into the middle of what should be a personal family problem. But when an elected official flouts the law and then sues the taxpayers for it, we feel it's time to weigh in. Supervisor Dan Hamburg's wife, Carrie, was, by all accounts, much admired. Her last wishes, made known as she was facing death from a long bout with cancer, were certainly worth doing one's utmost to fulfill. She wanted to be buried on the property she and her husband had shared for many years. The problem was, it is illegal in California to be buried on your own - or any - private property without special permission. Mr. Hamburg ignored that law and simply buried his wife at home without asking anyone's permission. The county rightly refused to release a death certificate for Mrs. Hamburg without the proper paperwork showing he had permission to do so. Then someone alerted the Sheriff that the burial had taken place unlawfully and the Sheriff was forced to take action. He could not ignore a patently illegal act - especially one carried out by an elected official. Once the Sheriff got involved, the burial became public knowledge and, in the end, to prevent the Sheriff from doing his duty - exhuming Mrs. Hamburg - Mr. Hamburg went to court and filed a lawsuit. Not only does Mr. Hamburg want the court to forgive his transgression after the fact, he wants the taxpayers to foot the bill. Mr. Hamburg has many devoted followers in this county. They have rushed to his defense, decrying the unfair treatment of the man and insisting that anyone should be able to bury someone on their private property no questions asked. We disagree. We think there are good reasons burying a loved one at home should be generally prohibited. For one thing, when human bones are found buried somewhere other than a cemetery they spark necessary investigations that can be lengthy and expensive. We also need to have specific rules about where and how a human body is buried to protect the environment. Having said that, however, we get to the most important point of Mr. Hamburg's situation. Did he have to go through this or put his family and supporters (or any of us) through it? No. All he had to do was ask a judge to approve the burial before hand. Mr. Hamburg's wife did not die suddenly. There was no need to secretly grant her wishes. As Mr. Hamburg's own suit points out, local judges have approved these requests twice in recent years. Why did he not simply do as others have done as ask permission? Is that so hard to do? We hope whatever judge ends up with this case will grant Mr. Hamburg's request to leave his wife buried where she is - with the stipulation that county health officials are allowed to visit the site and make sure environmental rules were followed. But we hope the judges will require Mr. Hamburg to pay his own legal bills. The taxpayers should not have to pick up the tab for his legal activism.”
HUMBOLDT: Life on America’s Marijuana Frontier, a book review by Kym Kemp.
For those who have replaced copy after copy of Ray Raphael’s Cash Crop because volumes borrowed by friends never seem to be returned, you had better buy a few copies of Emily Brady’s new book, Humboldt: Life on America’s Marijuana Frontier. The book is destined to be a local classic—a book that you will ‘lend out’ knowing that you’ll rarely see it returned. Nonetheless, you’ll give it out with the same passion that Gideonite’s pass out Bibles—this book gets Humboldt pot culture—particularly Southern Humboldt pot culture.
That means, of course, that both people who love the culture and hate it are going to read parts—different parts, of course–and nod their head knowingly while saying, “She really nailed that.” And, both are also going to exclaim in shock–about different things, of course—”Wait, that’s not the real face of pot growing. That’s just a rare exception.”
Brady (pictured above) weaves the lives of four people into an almost story-like exploration of the marijuana culture. Each has a separate tale that reveals an important part of what this community is like. Brady introduces a seventy-year-old woman known as Mare. This woman is the smallest of growers and pats only a half dozen young plants into the ground each spring. Crockett, his pseudonym fitting the wilder aspect of Humboldt growing, is part of a million dollar operation—if he can wrangle the weed to harvest and get it sold. Brady doesn’t forget law enforcement’s role. There is Deputy Bob Hamilton who after working in the county comes to believe the War on Drugs is totally lost. And, there’s the child of the marijuana culture, Emma Worldpeace, whose stepbrother Mikal is currently awaiting trial for murder and yet, she is getting a master’s degree in social work.
Brady’s interview on KQED and her attempt to find a venue to host her book signing in Humboldt reflect the controversy this book is arousing and is likely to continue to arouse. In the San Francisco based radio interview, callers repeated castigated Brady for whitewashing growers (She doesn’t. She just doesn’t hide the good aspects) and yet in Southern Humboldt, she is accused of painting too dark of a picture of the very unique world.
Cash Crop intimately describes marijuana growing as it takes off in Emerald Triangle. Humboldt: Life on America’s Marijuana Frontier is its sequel in the best sense of the word—expanding this county’s story into current times.
Thursday, June 27 at 5 P.M., Emily Brady will be at the King Range Books in Garberville to sign and read from her book.
Friday, June 28 at 7 P.M., Emily Brady will be at the Northtown Books in Arcata to sign and read from her book.
SPEAKING OF BOOKS, Sunday's Chron has this to say about Todd Walton's truly great “Inside Moves”: “We love the new Pharos Editions, reviving lost classics like this brilliant, moving, still-timely novel about basketball and war injuries, selected and introduced by Sherman Alexie.”
ON-LINE COMMENTS RE SPY ROCK, northeast Mendocino County's outlaw country: “I used to live in Spy Rock 20 years ago for about 15 years. It was a lovely place with lots of nice community. There is still some good stuff about the place. The school is wonderful. But the last 10 years were really horrible. Greedy people moved in who care nothing for the land or the community. I have friends who have been run out of their own land due to Mexican mafia moving next door. Not just them are bad — bikers, Los Angeles Gangsters, New York gangsters, on and on These tough guys like to walk around with machine guns — for real. Really sad. It’s very hard core and screwed up and the nature is being ruined. A few nice people still hold out trying to make the place a community but they are losing. The place has wonderful land, fabulous views and wild nature. I miss it, but it’s just too scary. When I go see my friends up there just driving nowadays I am freaked out. I always make sure I make no eye contact with people I don't know so they don’t notice me. It’s very dangerous, just like many dirt roads around Humboldt and Mendo. The community needs to take the power back and somehow take these greedy land rapists out of here without getting killed. Tough, but the second hand info that got the cops up to find this dead person is a start. Someone spoke up and that’s good. But it’s not pot, it’s greedy people who care nothing for our community. Shit, these days there are too many scary people in our community. What the hell can we do to reclaim the land?”
“I REMEMBER SPY ROCK in the early 80s. It was very rough, some would say scary. It had a regional rep for stuff like this — murders and disappearances. What happened between then and the 90s nice time you speak of? CAMP hammered on that place. There were many days when three helicopters were all up on Spy Rock, Registered Guest, Iron Peak, etc. Then things got nice for the nice people for awhile. I don't want to glorify CAMP because I didn't like them, I fought them, followed them with cameras to document their abuses and resented having to grow in shade on north slopes. But — People! You can't have it both ways. You can't have unpoliced wide-open growing and not expect the real criminals to show up and take over. Either you take control of your neighborhood, let the cops do it, or expect the real criminals to do so. I'd say right now we have allowed the real criminals to run wild while providing cover for them under the “it's all medical” and “weed is all good” and “growers are great people” arguments.”
AS EXPECTED, SAVE THE REDWOODS LEAGUE has announced it will bail out the ailing Skunk Railroad of Fort Bragg by paying $300,000 for a conservation easement, which will both protect old redwoods along the line and assure public access to the trees. The Skunk has been stymied by a lack of funds to repair a tunnel cave-in at the Fort Bragg end of the popular tourist attraction. Robert Pinoli Jr., majority owner of the railroad, had been considering selling the now preserved trees to raise repair capital.
TWO YEARS AGO, Save the Redwoods bought 426 acres in the Noyo Canyon in the same area traversed by train track. That acreage was the last old growth redwood stand still privately owned in that vicinity. Save the Redwoods subsequently sold the preserved acreage to the Mendocino Land Trust.
PHIL ROSSETTI of San Francisco writes: “Wasn't it lovely to see Dick Cheney on TV mumbling about how 9/11 would not have happened if we had all of the privacy intrusions in place then as we have now? Funny as how we had 16 security agencies in place then with tens of thousands of employees and billions of dollars in budgets, and yet they somehow missed 9/11. 'Somehow' as in Cheney deciding not to pay attention to the warnings those agencies were making. So how many more incompetent employees does Cheney recommend we hire this time around, and how many more civil liberties would he like to trample?”
A PROTESTER CALLING HIMSELF “Red Tail Hawk,” the nom de guerre of Will Parrish, climbed a huge construction crane on Wednesday to hang a banner saying “NO BYPASS.” The crane is the primary piece of equipment which is installing the incomprehensible 55,000 “wick drains” up to 150 feet deep which are supposed to somehow keep the earth under the bypass by soaking up moisture and evaporating it. The process is experimental and hazardous to the general flow of water in Little Lake Valley. Hawk’s crane occupation was part of a larger protest to block the wick-drain equipment comprising some 50 people, five of whom were arrested for trespassing. Among those arrested Wednesday was Naomi Wagner, a catch and release protester back to Redwood Summer days.
ON THURSDAY, Hawk climbed more than halfway up the 100-foot metal scaffolding of one the “stitchers” or wick-drain installer, a machine resembling a smaller version of a pile driver. The Hawk locked himself to the machine with a cable and pipe device, stopping the work for the day.
THE HAWK also spent Friday locked to the contraption called the “wick drain stitcher,” perched about half-way up the crane on which the stitching mechanism is hung. At one point, operators moved the stitcher several feet, letting the crane come to rest on a steel plate. This maneuver made way for second stitcher, which was in operation all day. Contractors notified Hawk in advance of the move. The night was illuminated by generator-driven floodlights, and the toplights and floods of the CHP cars surrounding Hawk’s perch. Amplified noise from the police cars and sustained honking from them in the early hours of the morning were evidently the CHP’s version of the strategy used by U.S. troops surrounding the Vatican Embassy in Panama when Manuel Noriega took refuge there. In that instance, blaring rock ‘n roll at deafening levels was employed to persuade Vatican personnel to dis-invite Noriega. Low-grade torture evidently has its advocates even among the CHP, who are apparently determined to wait out the Hawk’s machine-sit, while making his stay as uncomfortable as possible. There was no attempt Friday, in fact, to dislodge Hawk, who spent the day adjusting his platform and using occasions of relative quiet to exchange words with supporters on the ground. Supporters coming in met no opposition, as the private security guards hired by NCRA to harass protesters were nowhere in evidence today, their claims to enforcing a bogus ban on “trespassing” having been challenged by at least one walker on Thursday.
ON HAWK’S THIRD DAY IN THE STITCHER, Saturday evening, some 45 supporters of his occupation of the “stitching machine,” converged on the site of what was precious wetlands in the path of CalTrans’ freeway project. Supporters walked onto the site unopposed until they reached CHP squad cars where two officers emerged and tried to call a halt to the march. Supporters from Willits, Ukiah and beyond proceeded to the base of Hawk's perch. When he lowered a re-supply rope, supporters tried to attach bundles of food and water. CHP officers repelled the attempt three times, cutting the rope in the process. With some local media looking on, protestors quietly sat and reasoned with the officers to allow resupply to Hawk, who has no food and very little water left. The officers refused, and refused as well to reveal whether they were under orders to starve him until he descends. When CHP reinforcements arrived, Sgt A. Mesa ordered protesters to leave the site and immediately grabbed Sara Grusky as she was complying with the order. Her daughter Thea Grusky-Foley and Naomi Wagner allowed themselves to be arrested in solidarity. Matt Caldwell was also arrested.
PHIL FRISBIE, Caltrans spokesman, tells Glenda Anderson of the Press Democrat that the Willits Bypass protests “have cost taxpayers about $1.2 million since April.” Faithfully regurgitating Frisbie's unsupported statements, Gullible Glenda writes that “the protests have cost the state $100,000 for paying workers sidelined by the protests, $160,000 for building a temporary access road to remove tree sitters and about $935,000 for law enforcement to remove tree sitters.”
ON THE OFF CHANCE that the ineffable Frisbie's figures are more or less accurate, and although the handful of protesters prompted the police response, are so many cops really necessary to deal with a small number of demonstrators?
SAME OLD HAL. Hal Titen once rode high as a program director at the Mendocino Office of Education. In his off hours, which then and now is most of the time at MCOE for its laughably overlarge cadre of administrators, Titen ran a bar on North State Street, Ukiah. He was arrested when an underage girl revealed that Titen was using MCOE video equipment to make pornographic films featuring her in the back room of his bar. The video equipment had been purchased by MCOE for instructional use and for public television broadcasting for inland Mendocino County, which was also run by Titen. MCOE had glommed on to public tv and, as we now know, Titen, whose idea of dynamic viewing was NASA weather photos, killed public tv at its inception.
TITEN was subsequently packed off to the State Pen on a chomo conviction, a condition of which is mandatory registration as a sex offender. A month ago, Titen was arrested and booked into the County Jail for failing to register. And here he is again in and out of jail for failing to register. It will be interesting to see if the judge lets him slide. Again.
MCOE has been a sleazy operation for many years, having veered from the path of righteousness in the early 1970s under the late Lou Delsol. Delsol hired Titen, another crook named Jack Ward, and present superintendent, Paul Tichinin, who worked under Titen. These people, of course, hire people like themselves, and their net effect on the Mendo educational effort has been baleful, as versions of Tichinin occupy the high-pay edu-slots everywhere in the County. You don't have to look farther than Mendoland to understand why California's public schools are among the worst in the nation.
ALLOW ME to break this particular record one more time: The Mendocino County Office of Education doesn't do a single thing that the individual school districts of Mendocino County could not do better and cheaper. MCOE is a relic of the 19th century when it served as a hiring hall for vast Mendocino's one-room schoolhouses. The Superintendent's office, until the later years of Delsol's long reign ending with his retirement in the early 1980s, consisted only of the Superintendent and the usual pair of intelligent women doing the real work of the office. But when all kinds of nebulously aimed (and unsupervised) state and federal dollars began rolling in to MCOE headquarters, now relocated from a modest office on Low Gap Road to lavish quarters at the old state hospital at Talmage, MCOE metastasized to the massive scam we see out there today.
MEANWHILE IN SACRAMENTO, from the governor through all the state's officeholders, will get 5% pay raises beginning in December, putting most of them at an average take of $95,000 a year. They also get $141 per diem which some selfless souls choose not to take. And nice health insurance policies covering them and their families. State legislators, however, don't get retirement.
DEBBIE L. HOLMER, archivist of the Fort Bragg Advocate, remembers that 102 years ago, June 20th, 1911, “Jack London, the celebrated novelist, accompanied by his wife and a Japanese servant, drove into town behind four little ponies. The North Bay Counties Association has engaged this prominent writer to write an article for Sunset Magazine, boosting the resources of the seven counties. After a short visit, Mr. London left for Eureka Tuesday afternoon and intends to make a complete tour of the seven counties collecting data for his articles. This makes Jack's second visit to Fort Bragg. He passed through here on horseback for the first time shortly after the great earthquake and states that he is surprised to see the rapid strides of improvement our little city has made in the last few years.”
ASSOCIATED PRESS REPORTS: A panel of federal judges on Thursday rejected Gov. Jerry Brown's attempt to circumvent its long-standing order for reducing California's prison population, the latest step in an ongoing legal drama over how to improve inmates' medical and mental health care inmates. Brown quickly announced that he will ask the courts to stay what he called an “unprecedented order to release almost 10,000 inmates by the end of this year.” The governor already filed notice that he intends to appeal the latest order to the U.S. Supreme Court.
THE STATE has reduced its prison population by more than 46,000 inmates since 2006, with more than half the decrease due to a 2-year-old state law that is sentencing lower-level criminals to county jails instead of state prisons. But the population remains about 9,400 inmates over the level required by the courts.
MENDOCINO COUNTY'S Department of Public Health is warning that anyone “who may have consumed berry smoothies from A Frame Espresso in Fort Bragg, which, until a June 4 recall, had been making blended drinks with a berry mix linked to an outbreak of hepatitis A,” that they may be in danger. A fruit-blend sold by Costco has been identified as contaminated. A Frame Espresso had bought the recalled Organic Antioxidant Blend frozen berry mix produced by Townsend Farms and sold at Costco stores around the west. A Frame had immediately stopped using the blend when its recall was announced. Hepatitis A has a long incubation period. Anyone who bought an A Frame smoothie between March 4 and June 8 of this year, County Health warns, “should watch for jaundiced, or yellowing, skin or eyes, fatigue, abdominal pain, abnormal liver tests, dark urine and pale stool.”
STATE LAW PRESENTLY says that requests for public records must be responded to within 10 days, and the requestor must get a response if the government agency needs more time or is rejecting the request. AB76 would make compliance optional.
WHICH MEANS to us media people, especially those of us regarded by government as enemy aliens, that local government agencies would simply either ignore our requests or reject them without explanation.
THERE'S BEEN A HUGE hullabaloo rightly raised by media that the present access regs are not to be tampered with. Assembly Speaker John Perez said last Wednesday he will see to it that this sneak attack on public access would not succeed. “To be clear,” Perez said, “this means that the California Public Records Act will remain intact without any changes…”
PERVS ALWAYS FIND A WAY. A Fort Bragg man was arrested Tuesday for allegedly touching a woman “inappropriately” during a pedicure, the Fort Bragg Police Department reported. According to the FBPD, a 23-year-old Fort Bragg woman said she'd been groped by a man giving her a pedicure at the “My Beautiful Nails” salon on East Redwood Avenue. The woman told responding officers the suspect, identified as Anhtuan Nguyen, 24, of Fort Bragg, had slid his hand under her pants and rubbed the inside of her thigh during her pedicure. She reported the incident to the owner of the business, then called the police. When officers spoke with Nguyen, he reportedly admitted touching the woman in a sexual manner. He was arrested on suspicion of sexual battery and later cited and released.
THE COUNTY’S RETIREMENT BOARD continues to refuse to lower their highly optimistic expected rate of return on their investments. On Wednesday Board member and investment maverick Ted Stephens suggested lowering the currently projected 7.75% to a more realistic 7.5% or lower. (Show us an investment anywhere in the world paying this kind of juice.) The problem with lowering the expected rate of return is that the County and the pensioners would have to pony up more in the short run to make up whatever difference might result from the lower return assumptions.
THE CURRENT retirement board is mostly made up of representatives of the County and County pensioners disinclined to bump up their contributions in the wake of a lower revenue projection. The green-eyeshaders point out that not lowering the revenue projections will just postpone the inevitable as the “unfunded pension liability” grows larger and larger. But the County and the pensioners all say they need the money now and can’t afford to put more into the pension fund via lowering the projected revenues.
STUDIES HAVE SHOWN that most county pensions are modest and reasonable considering the job time most pensioners put in. But a small percentage of higher paid pensioners (and some current employees in the same high pay range) have skewed their own pension levels artificially high by not only engineering high pay raises for themselves while on the government payroll, but also by various well-documented salary and benefit tricks to bump up their own pensions at the end of their careers. It’s not fair to harp simply on interest rates and make everybody pay more now simply because a few high paid pensioners have gamed the system to their advantage. But since the high pensions were obtained legally, the only solution, if a solution is even possible, may be to take more money from County coffers and current employees at all pay grades. It’s an upside-down formula favoring high paid insiders that seems to dominate almost all financial problems these days.
THE NEW YORK TIMES published a story Friday on the environmental damage caused by marijuana growers. In it, Gary Graham Hughes of EPIC says, “There is an identity crisis going on right now…The people who are really involved with [the marijuana] industry are trying to understand what their responsibilities are.” The article looks into many marijuana growing issues that have been covered locally — rodenticide, erosion, and water diversion. Interestingly though the piece leans heavily on the problems associated with marijuana growing, it does end with the idea that the industry has “begun to police itself.” The conclusion notes the Best Management Practices manual and the program that works with people to install water storage. According to the Times, law enforcement hasn’t been very effective against the worst offenders. The article states, “Federal environmental agents, including Mr. Roy and Mr. Job, have brought two cases to the United States Attorney’s office in San Francisco. The office declined to prosecute a case last year, they said. A new one is under review. But, they said, manpower for enforcement is limited.” With articles like this happening more frequently, will the increasing notice the wider world is taking of the environmental impacts of growing marijuana cause the government to take more notice also? (— Kym Kemp, Courtesy LostCoastOutpost.com)
COMMENT OF THE WEEK regarding the ongoing heat wave in Alaska, “The melt in Greenland and the high temperatures in Alaska may be more signs—like we needed more—of the reality of climate change. Even scarier is the fact that the climate models used before didn’t predict this sort of thing. The climate is very complex, and it’s hard to model it accurately. This is well-known and is why it’s so hard to make long-term predictions. But before the deniers crow that climatologists don’t know what they’re doing, note this well: The predictions made using these models almost always seem to underestimate the effects of climate change. That’s true in this case, too. So it’s not that the models are wrong and therefore climate change doesn’t exist. It’s that the models aren’t perfect, and it’s looking like things are worse than we thought.” (Slate, on-line magazine)
WHO SAYS we don't benefit from the casinos? The Indian Gaming Special Distribution Fund, with a committee comprised of local elected officials looking on, has awarded $140,772.33 to all eight Mendocino County agencies that applied. Fire districts usually get the money, but this year the wages of sin are spread around more.
THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE and the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office each received $39,637.06; the Hopland Fire Protection District received $13,795.69; the Long Valley Fire Protection District and the Redwood Valley-Calpella Fire Department each received $12,395.68; the Mendocino County Health and Human Services Agency received $3,500; and the Little Lake Fire Protection District $2,800.
FOR YEARS the soporific PBS NewsHour was often perked up with some fine reporting on NorCal from Spencer Michaels, an excellent reporter with 30 years at PBS and KQED-TV. But PBS has announced the end of its San Francisco-based bureau and Michaels is outtathere. We all hope he'll continue to report from this area somehow, someway.
CONTROVERSIAL LAKE COUNTY Sheriff Frank Rivero didn't like the way the Lake County News was reporting on his high profile hijinks so he stopped talking to them, even refusing to include Lake County News among his press release recipients. Lake County News sued, and now Lake County's taxpayers are on the hook for $110,990 in attorney’s fees for the on-line newspaper. Visiting judge J. Michael Byrne, ruling for Lake County News, stated the obvious: “It’s a reporter’s right to report the news without retaliation.”
THE AVA lost a similar suit some years ago when the “liberals,” who've since promoted themselves to “progressives,” on the Mendo Board of Supervisors retaliated against us for rightly pointing out their many deficiencies. They retaliated by withholding legal advertising placed with all the other County papers but us. We won a local jury trial, with the jury finding in less than an hour that we'd been the victims of lib thuggery, and leave it to the libs to use public cover and public money to do their dirty work for them. But we lost on appeal, which I believe was due to, well, it's over, we got screwed, and that was that. If you've never experienced California's appellate courts I'm here to tell you that there's no sign of intelligent life there. The decisions in cases directly involving me could have been written by chimpanzees.
PEOPLE WITH PILES OF MONEY that they don’t know what to do with because ordinary bank interest rates are essentially zero these days, mainly think that loaning it to someone at as high an interest rate as they can is the easiest way to make more money. And there are lots of middlemen and middlewomen out there who are always looking at creative, not to say complicated and risky, ways of lending it out. At the same time, these monied people don’t want to take any risk; they know that the already fragile economy could (and will) tank at any time and borrowers, who are only now starting to recover from the 2008 crash, could resume defaulting in droves.
LOCALLY, there are several piles of money looking for people to loan it to. “Public banking” has become a popular idea among the remnant of the local “occupiers.” Others occasionally suggest that Mendo should do some local lending out of the County’s “local agency investment fund.” And on June 11, the Board of Supervisors considered implementing a “PACE” (Property Assessed Clean Energy) program. A PACE program involves a homeowner borrowing money from a bank or other lending institution for energy or water conservation or solar energy upgrades and then paying it back through a special tax administrated by a specialty PACE contractor overseen by the County. In theory, the PACE program has lots of obvious benefits: It would create jobs for energy saving and solar companies, it would save some energy and money for homeowners, and it would reduce risks of loan defaults by enforcing the loan repayment with tax laws.
THE STICKLER in all of these programs is that Mendocino County would be burdened with administering something that is much more complicated than is apparent. And if they’re such a great idea — local jobs, energy saving, money saving, low risk — why does the County have to be involved at all? Mendo already has more than it can handle with its outdated and obsolete parcel tax computer program; the PACE program would add a whole new layer of complication to it, even if the PACE contractor handles the tax assessments for the individual property owners who might apply.
THE PACE program would have to carefully navigate the extremely complicated tax and bank loan system that’s in place because most home and business owners already have outstanding loans from whoever for whatever while local property-parcel taxes are imposed under a layer of overlapping fire, school, water, cemetery, hospital, and other special districts that have built up over the years. Keeping track of who owes what to whom for what would be impossible.
THE UPSHOT? Mendo shouldn’t try to get into the banking business or the PACE program until and unless the program can be simplified and properly and fairly administered by an independent board and competent staff. Since that’s not likely to happen, we think Mendo should stay out of the money/banking/loan business, and instead put pressure on the local banks and credit unions to come up with ways to do what they already should do: make decent low interest loans to promising startups or small-business expansions.
HERE'S A STATEMENT OF REALITY we'll never hear from any elected person in this country. Clare Daly, member of the Irish Parliament who represents Dublin North as an Independent, asked Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny this question last week. Bear in mind that President Obama was visiting Ireland for the G-8 conference at the time:
“I think it's important to take this opportunity to bring a bit of balance into the discussion surrounding the business of the US president and his wife here in Ireland, given the almost unprecedented slobbering over them that the nation has been exposed to over the last number of days. It's very hard to know which is worse, whether it's the outpouring of the Obamists themselves or the sycophantic falling over them by sections of the media and the political establishment. We've had separate and special news bulletins by the state broadcasting agency telling us what Michelle Obama and her daughters had for lunch in Dublin, but very little questioning of the fact that she was having lunch with Mr. Tax Exile himself. We had very little challenging of the fact that she's glad to be home, calling a country that she'd been in for less than a week “home” and that her husband has very tenuous links to. And of course the biggest irony of all, the protestations of Obama himself in his speech to children in Northern Ireland about peace. He said, “Those who choose the path of peace, I promise you that the United States of America will support you every step of the way. We will be the wind at your back.” Now I ask you, is this person going for the Hypocrite of the Century Award? Because we have to call things by their right names. The reality is that by any serious examination this man is a war criminal. He has just announced his decision to supply arms to the Syrian opposition including the jihadists fueling the destabilization of that region and continuing to undermine secularism and better conditions for women. This is the man who is in essence stalling the Geneva peace talks by trying to broker enhanced leverage for the Syrian opposition by giving them arms and to hell with the thousands more who daily lose their lives or the tens of thousands more who are being displaced as this war goes on. This is the man who has facilitated a 200% increase in the use of drones which have killed thousands of people including hundreds of children. And you Taoiseach [Irish Prime Minister] are the one who has turned a blind eye on these activities. You have talked about the G-8 being an opportunity to showcase Ireland. But is it not a reality that you have showcased us as a nation of pimps, prostituting ourselves in return for a pat on the head? To be honest with you, we don't need you speculating this morning on whether you were going to deck the cabinet out in leprechaun hats decorated with a bit of styrofoam stars and stripes to really demonstrate our abject humiliation here. My question to you, Taoiseach, is as follows: What steps are you going to take to follow in the correct statements and the correct decisions of your colleagues who voted against the lifting of the arms embargo in relation to Syria? What steps are you going to take to ensure that no weapons for Syria are going to go through Shannon Airport in breach of our international laws of neutrality? What steps are you going to take to showcase this country not as a lap dog of US imperialism, but as an independent nation with an independent foreign policy which takes a lead in international diplomacy to outlaw the use of drones, the favorite method of extermination of your friend, Mr. Obama?”
THE IRISH PRIME MINISTER responded by saying, “I think your comments are disgraceful. I think they do down the pride of Irish people all over the world who are more than happy to see this island being host to the G8.”
DALY REPLIED: “And of course, I said nothing about the Northern Ireland peace process which Mr. Obama mentioned, a process which everybody supports but which is not one which gives you a license to do whatever you like anywhere else around the globe. There isn't much peace in Iraq where 26 people lost their lives yesterday. There isn't much peace in Afghanistan. There isn't much peace in Pakistan. And there certainly isn't much peace in Syria. The side I am on in Syria and the one I agree with is a statement by Oxfam. Oxfam said: 'Sending arms to the Syrian opposition will not create a level playing field. Instead, it further risks fueling an arms free for all where the victims are the civilians of Syria. Our experience tells us that the crisis will only drag on far longer and longer if arms are poured in.' And that in essence is what the Americans have done here. I can only take from your non-answer to the question that you were asked, that you will take no steps to ensure that those arms will not be sent through Shannon in breach of our neutrality. You said here last week that no arms ever came through Shannon. How do you know that? No investigation has taken place. The reality is that in 2012 548 US planes landed in Shannon. How do you know what was on them if you have not examined them? Your Minister for Transport revealed in a parliamentary question that 239 civilian planes landed in Shannon where they sought permission because they were carrying munitions of war or dangerous goods on a civilian aircraft. What steps are you going to take to intervene in this situation? And the last point I will make is that people in this country are very fond of our American brothers and sisters. I think we stand far more shoulder to shoulder with them by making valid criticisms of their president who has broken his election promises, rather than just pimping this nation as a tax haven for their corporations. I'm sure the Americans would far prefer that their multinational corporations pay their taxes at home rather than offshore here so that they could develop their health care and so they would not be wasting money on arms being sent to slaughter people in other countries."
COMMENT OF THE WEEK TWO: Two dangerous runaway processes have taken root in the last decade, with fatal consequences for democracy. Government secrecy has been expanding on a terrific scale. Simultaneously, human privacy has been secretly eradicated. The US government is spying on each and every one of us, but it is Edward Snowden who is charged with espionage for tipping us off. Let's be very careful about who we call “traitor.” Edward Snowden is one of us. — Julian Assange
BOOK REVIEW: Southern League: A True Story of Baseball, Civil Rights, and the Deep South’s Most Compelling Pennant Race. By Larry Colton. 1964 was a pivotal year in the Civil Rights movement, and in Birmingham, Alabama — perhaps the epicenter of American racial conflict — a remarkable grand experiment was about to take place: Alabama’s first-ever integrated team, the Barons of baseball’s Southern League. Johnny “Blue Moon” Odom, a talented pitcher and Tommie Reynolds, an outfielder — both young black ballplayers with dreams of playing someday in the big leagues, along with Bert Campaneris, an escapee from Cuba, all found themselves in this simmering cauldron of a minor league town, all playing for manager Haywood Sullivan, a white former major leaguer who had grown up surrounded by the ways of Jim Crow just down the road in Dothan, Alabama. Critically-acclaimed and best-selling author Larry Colton — himself a former professional pitcher who played in the Southern League — traces the entire 1964 season, writing about the extraordinary relationships among the Barons players and their charismatic manager Sullivan. Colton captures the heat of Birmingham and its citizens during this tumultuous year. The infamous Bull Connor, for example, who ordered the notorious Birmingham police to pummel civil rights marchers with blasts from powerful water hoses, was a fervent follower of the Barons. (He had leveraged his fame as a long-time broadcaster of Baron games to launch his political career.) Famed Alabama head football coach Bear Bryant was a regular at the Barons’ games. And the flamboyant Charlie Finley, who hailed from Birmingham, was the owner of the Kansas City (and later the Oakland) Athletics, the major league team that controlled the Barons’ players and the team’s fate. More than a story about baseball, this is a true accounting of a pivotal moment in the transformation of American society. Colton takes us on the road with the players as they stay in separate but unequal hotels; he introduces their girlfriends and young wives; he follows a desperate pennant race down to the wire; he takes us inside the culture of our great American sport in an era when players worked off-season jobs in warehouses for a buck-fifty an hour; and he gets us to root for a courageous team owner regularly facing threats from the KKK. Seventeen years after Jackie Robinson had broken the color line in the major leagues, official Birmingham was resisting the end of segregation with bombs and terror. But Birmingham’s citizens, black and white, were finally going to go to the ballpark to watch their very first integrated sports team. Around the Southern League, the racial jeers and taunts that rained down upon these Birmingham players echoed the abuse Jackie Robinson had faced, but these young athletes were forged into a team capable of winning in spite of the hostility. Their story is told here for the first time.
FROM THE LEAGUE RULES of Conduct for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, established in 1943: “Always appear in feminine attire when not actively engaged in practice or playing ball. This regulation continues through the playoffs for all, even though your team is not participating. At no time may a player appear in the stands in her uniform or wear slacks or shorts in public.
Boyish bobs are not permissible, and in general your hair should be well groomed at all times with longer hair preferable to short haircuts. Lipstick should always be on.
Smoking or drinking is not permissible in public places. Liquor drinking will not be permissible under any circumstances. Other intoxicating drinks in limited portions with after-game meal only will be allowed. Obscene language will not be allowed at any time.
All social engagements must be approved by chaperone. Legitimate requests for dates can be allowed by chaperones.
Jewelry must not be worn during game or practice, regardless of type.
Due to shortage of equipment, baseballs must not be given as souvenirs without permission from the management.
Baseball-uniform skirts shall not be shorter than six inches above the kneecap.
In order to sustain the complete spirit of rivalry between clubs, the members of different clubs must not fraternize at any time during the season. After the opening day of the season, fraternizing will be subject to heavy penalties. This means, in particular, room parties, auto trips to out-of-the-way eating places, etc. However, friendly discussions in lobbies with opposing players are permissible.
Fines of five dollars for first offense, ten dollars for second, and suspension for third, will automatically be imposed for breaking any of the above rules.”
THE CHRON POSES the question, “Are techies good for The City?” An anon on-line response speaks for lots of us: “The gays and hippies (as mentioned in another comment) did not come to SF to make money. And they did not displace tens of thousands of people by unleashing a wave of legal and illegal evictions. And they enhanced the culture, created culture, made the city a more interesting place. I hate to generalize, but I meet tech people every day on my job and there are certain commonalities. The average ones seem to have been here for two months, have ADD, have no curiosity about the culture of their adoptive city, are completely humorless, dismissive of others not of their kind, have their face buried in a device, are poorly read, and demonstrate no political awareness other than a knee-jerk libertarianism bestowed upon them by their corporation. The ‘hipster’ tag is just silly. There's nothing hip about a corporate gig or rabid money-seeking. Recently, a Zynga employee talked my ear off about the ‘artistry’ of the ‘creatives’ at her firm. These were mass-produced computer games she was referring to. Puh-leeze! And buying high-priced tickets to Burning Man so you can go wild once a year does not make you hip, it makes you look like a sucker.”
DAVID GURNEY COMMENTS on Harold Moore vs. State Parks: “State Parks has a long history of abuse on the North Coast. At one point in 2005, local residents started a petition at the Albion Grocery, complaining of misconduct by State Parks rangers. The petition garnered some 400 signatures, and copies were mailed to State Parks headquarters in Sacramento, and turned over personally by residents to the local Mendocino District headquarters. A year or so later, I was assaulted in my car by a subject of the petition, a ranger named Christopher Glenn. I was subsequently charged with several felonies. As the case progressed through the legal system, a Pitchess Motion was filed requesting this ranger’s record. It was denied in a back room deal with the California Attorney General’s lawyer at Ten Mile court. When we later continued to pressure State Parks to produce the petition, they at first lied, denying they had ever received it, then a few months later changed their story to claim they had received the petition, but had thrown it away since it was not filed with an “official” complaint form. Good luck to Harold Moore if he tries to get justice with State Parks. Last year’s revelations of $54 million in tax dollars being hidden and filched by the department, all while they cried broke and started closing our parks, should give some idea of the level of corruption you are dealing with. Although the director of Parks resigned over the scandal, no one was ever charged. These folks do not play fair, and are flat out liars. The state parks system is a culture of corruption, and we are left with the end result – renegade “cops” who have no business throwing their weight around as law enforcement officers. If you try to fight them, you are facing a hive of high-paid lawyers from the State of California’s Attorney General’s office. Good luck.”
Heathrow Connection. In the shrouded mists of its long-ago youth London’s Heathrow Airport had two terminals: Europa and Oceana, titles worthy of Lancelot and the Lady of the Lake. What romantic names to inspire visions of pith-helmeted explorers mapping the unsteady earth in the name of Queen, country and commerce. Now the mega-airport has grown to five terminals, but with the swelling has come modernism’s usual handmaiden: numbing mediocrity. Europa and Oceania are now named #2 and #3, making them easier to distinguish from their three new sibling terminals, but woefully less interesting. Yes, it makes it easier to navigate, but so do freeways and bulldozers. And every their ugly proof that architecture and civic responsibility are cost-conscious Orwellian utilities, like a three-hole punch to keep our thickening surveillance folders in easily accessible fighting trim. Whatever the terminals are called, and however many CCTV cameras recorded each sleep-deprived step, I land in Heathrow with my cousin and brother, bound for Edinburgh. We stumble through the post-Arthurian haze and embark on a sinister if banal dance to our connecting flight. After being herded off the plane and down a wheeled staircase onto the tarmac, we worm our way onto a shuttle bus that crawls like a meandering snail across acres of exhaust-streaked asphalt until stopping at the next checkpoint. Once papers and ID are approved we pass through grey double doors and, like slabs of meat on a slaughterhouse conveyor belt, up a tall escalator. A jog to the left (or maybe right) puts us into the belly of a beast-like shopping emporium. Perfume girls offer samples of Lurid by Calvin Klein, Sniff! by Casa de Escobar, and Dead Honey Bee by Monsanto. Newspaper vendors sell risqué tabloid gossip alongside dire warnings that fascism is patiently stomping the last vagabond sperm cells from the twin testicles of freedom and justice, to achieve the corporate state’s aim of leaving the planet genderless, hopeless and lost. After fighting through the clouds of toxic sweet we slog through boutiques kitted out with Milan’s disposable latest, pharmacies selling ear plugs and codeine, and numerous outposts of the British coffee chain, Nero. One imagines the Roman Emperor-God himself on a 23-hour Heathrow layover, soaking in the many hotel rooms for hire, cash vendors every 50 yards, and legions of nervous plebeians waiting for the Vandal hordes to put the torch to the empire. Amused and consoled by the cafés bearing his name, one imagines Nero grabbing a handful of this strange new money from his own coffers, or (more likely) a quick Caesarean swipe across cashier’s tempting doubloons. Beyond the screaming ghosts of tyrants and commercial jingles we take a grain elevator down to a subway platform. A gleaming train arrives, disgorges its human cargo, and we step into a clean, well-ventilated car that goes nowhere. Either robots or the invisible operator says, “Stand away from the doors” or some such kindly edict from Big Brother/Sister/Undecided. A mocking minute passes. We cattle begin to shift in our pen. Finally, just as the collective conscious begins to panic, an identical train arrives on the opposite site of the platform, causing several harried passengers to dash to the new chariot sent by Claudius or Cicero. Finally our train’s doors shut, and we’re whisked down the bright tracks for 180 seconds and WHISH out again onto another identical platform and another steep escalator – make that two escalators stretching side by side towards Mt. Olympus! Double the capacity, half the time! The motorized staircase has a magic effect on my psyche. To be mechanically transported at a leisurely pace is a sign that somewhere in the overwhelming cosmic dark flickers a kind and nurturing force. It’s a fairy tale I repeat to myself, enjoying the slight tingles of vertigo. For if we are traveling, then maybe someday we actually arrive. (—Z)