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Mendocino County Today: August 6, 2013


Dear AVA,

A few months ago, I read Allman and Spark's hastily written how-to on catching a mentally ill killer, who also happened to be an excellent tracker and survivalist outwitting inner-city swat teams and police brigades by the hundreds in the Mendocino woods.

When I got to the part where Allman had just received news of the killing of Bassler and headed out Hwy 20 to the site, passing by, but not stopping to inform Bassler's mother of his death, my heart ached with disappointment. Are the family of high profile killings by cop no longer informed by law enforcement when law enforcement has to act defensively in a mortal way in regards to a relative outside the law?

In this case such consideration was not given. Bassler's family heard of his killing through the grapevine — not law enforcement. Natch Mom, conflicted and oblivious as she was, was not always forthcoming with information about knowledge of her son's activities.

Instead Allman's rendition sounded and felt like no victor vanquishing crime, but childishly hateful in intentionally NOT stopping to inform Bassler's mother of her son's killing. As though Allman had chosen in a very ugly way then, stooping to no better than her level, by matching her actions in choosing to not inform — like she did when dropping Bassler off with rifle in the location of Matt's killing. Somehow, law enforcement is still supposed to be expected to take the higher moral ground, and failed at that last chance.

Many folks whom I've asked if they read the book, won't even read it, and find it distasteful and opportunistic of Allman's re-election bid, even if the money is donated to mental health blah, blah, blah.

Also in the book, why no mention of the extraneously unidentified burner/disposable cell phone call (the “hit” call) reporting Melo had been hit and was on the ground. A lot of folks hated Melo and the work that he did. It was creepy and weird then, that his body was left there overnight by law enforcement. That's the strangest part of the whole story. Was it an assassination of Melo?

Law and lumber concerns about homeless vagrant campers numbering a small community (who also provided law enforcement with helpful witness information regarding meeting Bassler in those woods) were expensively rectified by the woodland sifting and dollars dedicated to Bassler's highly expensive end.

Aaron Bassler kept trying to return to his mother's home. Why didn't law enforcement let him? Why could they not let Mom feed him one last time with laced food? Start with any one of several highly effective and expedient knock out drugs added to his mom's food and let her feed him one last time.

Allman comes up for re-election. He's starting to collect money for his campaign NOW. Can't we get Tony Craver back? Recently Allman was asking for donations because the Sheriff's Dept. is broke. After Allman's been on whose side of how many pot confiscations — especially for those in his unsuccessful zip tie program? Pick another badge-man Mendocino!

Name Withheld, Fort Bragg

ED REPLY: I know for a fact that both Basslers were kept fully informed throughout that awful series of events, and that Allman and Captain Smallcomb did everything they could to bring Bassler in alive. It was an unprecedented occurrence, and given that Bassler had committed two murders and seemed likely to commit more, law enforcement's first priority had to be the safety of the wider community. Expecting the Sheriff to stop by the former Mrs. Bassler's home to bring her the news of her son's death seems wildly unreasonable to me in the circumstances. Melo was shot down doing his job managing a timber property, ordinarily not a capital offense. Drug people, many of them forever stalled in Blue Meanie mode, forget that at least half the population of this county do not assume the libertarian position on the drug issue. Allman is Sheriff of everyone while going to extraordinary and extraordinarily creative lengths to accommodate the pot brigades only to be overridden by federal authority, which is where the unreason on the entire drug question resides. He's been a good Sheriff in a difficult time, and I think the book is an honest account of the Bassler affair, and a must read for anyone interested in local history.



ORLANDO VILLALPANDO, 18, of Fort Bragg, was knocked unconscious during a 30-person brawl on South Street around 3 a.m. Sunday morning. Villalpando was punched in the face and hit his head on the sidewalk when he fell, apparently suffering a severe concussion. He was flown from Coast Hospital to Santa Rosa in serious condition. Another Fort Bragg man, Jonathan Presswood, 24, has been arrested on a charge of "assault with force likely to create serious bodily injury or death." Sgt. Gilchrest of the Fort Bragg Police Department said the incident remains under investigation and more charges are possible against people involved in the fight.


ALSO ON SUNDAY, Franz Westfel, 46, of Oregon, was killed when the pick-up he was riding in on a private road near Laytonville plunged over the side, ejecting Westfel. The driver, not identified, was not seriously injured. The victim's Oregon hometown has not been identified pending notification of his family.


THAT WAS AN ALARMING headline on the front page of last week's ICO, the weekly paper serving Mendocino County's south coast. "Anger fueled by Chronicle spills over," it read, conjuring visions of Gualala's first-ever street riot. Alongside Lisa Walter's account of local anger spilling over was a photo of the object of all that unleashed wrath, a pleasant looking Asian woman identified as Stephanie Lee. What had Stephanie done to roil the ordinarily placid precincts of the Sea Ranch north to Point Arena? She'd written a Sunday piece for the Chron saying, essentially, that the South Coast was home to a bunch of couch-bound fatso-watsos who got that way because the nearest healthy food was two hours south in Santa Rosa. The rest of Mendocino County was, the writer suggested, equivalently backwards when it came to diet and exercise. Harrumph and Double Harrumph. Fatso-watsos and lean, mean fighting machines alike have rushed into the ICO's print to point out that Ms. Lee's story managed not to see all the healthy food available on the South Coast, not to mention her impaired sight in not noticing the unlimited recreation ops. Golly, Steph, wake up. Myself, I thought Steph's story was a hoot, as many Chron stories are these days as the paper, like all newspapers, fights to stay alive. The real oddity was the story's origins — some foundation provided the funding for Steph's uncomprehending jaunt to Gualala. Oh, and this rather alarming statement by a South Coastie called Mark Bollock: "The poor woman you interviewed will be ostracized in our very small, tight knit town." Bollocks, Mark! Tightly wrapped might be the phrase we want here. Why should the poor thing be ostracized for, she says, being misquoted? (People always say they've been misquoted when they see what they said in print.) If she wants to shop in the Rose City who could possibly care? And what kind of uptight gink even thinks of ostracizing someone over something this trivial?


THE MENDOCINO COUNTY MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES ACT (MHSA) FORUM for Children and Families & Transitional Age Youth (TAY) will be August 13, 2013 from noon to 1pm in Point Arena.

The Mendocino County Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) Forum for Adults and Older Adults will be August 13, 2013 from 1-2pm at the same location.

The meetings will occur at the Point Arena Library at 225 Main Street, Point Arena. Members of the public are encouraged to attend the meetings to provide suggestions, ideas and feedback on the MHSA programs. Meeting agendas are published at: .

To attend either of these meetings by phone,

Call-In Number: (888) 296-6828

When prompted for the Participant Pin, Dial: 756853 followed by the pound # sign.



By David Little, Chico Enterprise-Record

The old existential question of whether a tree falling in the forest makes a sound has been reformulated in Mendocino County.

The modern-day questions: If people are protesting a highway project, but the government ensures that no news photographers are allowed to take pictures, does the protest exist? And if a photographer is arrested in Willits, does it make a sound?

We're getting those answers, and two misguided state agencies don't like them. The ham-handed actions of the California Highway Patrol and Caltrans don't put them in a flattering spotlight.

Willits isn't the middle of nowhere, but it's in the same area code. (I know this because my grandfather used to run the newspaper there.) Though it's a small town, it has inexplicably long backups on Highway 101. They've talked about a highway bypass around town for decades, and it's finally getting built.

Well-organized protesters are disrupting the construction, however, and have been since winter. The protests — people chaining themselves to construction equipment, living in trees that are being bulldozed, and so forth — don't get much attention outside of Willits.

Willits has a twice-weekly newspaper, and there's a daily newspaper a half-hour down the road in Ukiah, but the area is too far out of reach for big Bay Area newspapers, the Associated Press and any TV station.

The Willits News, which is owned by the same company that owns the Enterprise-Record, has been covering the protests, though. A Willits News freelance photographer, a retiree named Steve Eberhard, has taken some very interesting photos of the protests. And lately it seems the CHP and Caltrans have been more fixated on the only journalist there than the protesters.

Eberhard was arrested while shooting a protest early on a Tuesday morning, July 23. He was the first person arrested that day, just after sunrise.

Eberhard was supposed to have a Caltrans escort, as the agency has requested. When he tried to call that Caltrans liaison early that morning, he got no response. News doesn't always happen during business hours, so he didn't wait for the escort. He never even took a photo that day. He was arrested quickly.

Though no other journalists were there, one protester took film of the arrest that was quickly posted to YouTube. The video doesn't make the CHP look good. The conversation between Eberhard and an officer looked cordial, till another officer showed up and arrested him.

So that question about whether anybody would know if a news photographer was arrested in Willits? It was answered when newspapers from Humboldt County to San Bernardino County ran editorials chastising the CHP for stomping on constitutional rights.

The CHP and Caltrans responded with a letter, printed today, that dances around the truth. It doesn't mention that Eberhard called for an escort and got no response. It says he refused an order to leave. Eberhard said he asked an officer to read him the dispersal order, and instead the officer handcuffed him.

It ignores the fact Eberhard was not interfering with the property owner's (the government's) property rights, but rather was engaged in newsgathering activities protected by the First Amendment.

It also says journalists have been treated with “respect and professional courtesy.” But Eberhard was once shoved from behind by an officer while being escorted, and another time, the CHP threatened to arrest protesters, starting with the media.

The letter's statement that the press has been treated with nothing but “respect and professional courtesy” is a fabrication by two bureaucrats who are either trying to cover up the mistakes of lower-level employees, or asking those employees to act as henchmen toward those annoying reporters.

Why? Because they hope nobody is paying attention.

(David Little is editor of the Enterprise-Record and Oroville Mercury-Register. His column appears each Sunday. He can be reached at or 896-7793. Courtesy, the Chico-Enterprise Record.)



LOW GAP BOOGIE. On July 30, 2013 at approximately 11pm, a deputy from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office observed a vehicle traveling northbound on North Highway 101 with multiple traffic violations. The deputy conducted a traffic stop in the area of the Irvine Lodge Rest Area, near Laytonville. The vehicle was occupied by several individuals who stated that they were travelling to the Reggae on the River music festival. One female passenger, Cesia Estrada, 20, of Los Angeles, was wanted for an outstanding drug related arrest warrant from Iowa. The deputy searched Estrada's belongings and located over 20 grams of a flat reddish substance that was determined to be MDMA, commonly known as “Ecstasy.” Estrada was arrested for the outstanding warrant and possession of a controlled substance for sale. All other passengers were released at the scene. Estrada was transported to the county jail where she was booked on the outstanding warrant and possession for sale of a controlled substance. Bail was set at $20,000 for the Iowa warrant and $25,000 for the drug violation. (Sheriff’s Press Release)



Presented By The Mendocino County Woody Biomass Working Group (WBWG) & The Coastal Biomass Collaborative

You are invited to attend a community education and discussion session regarding the ecological impact of biomass removal in Mendocino County Forests. Three events will be held throughout the County: Ft Bragg- Aug. 20th 5-7:30pm County Library in Ft. Bragg, Community Room Covelo- Aug. 21st 5-7:30 pm Tribal Administration Building, Buffalo Room Ukiah- Aug. 22nd 5-7:30pm Grace Hudson Museum, Public Meeting Room Background: These meetings are a follow-up to a series of community events in 2009-10 hosted by the Mendocino County Woody Biomass Group (WBWG), where we solicited community concerns about biomass removal. The August 2013 meetings are in direct response to the primary concern of the community- overharvesting of biomass causing ecological harm to our forests. Meeting Topics: Ecological Assessment of Biomass Thinning in Coastal Forests-A Literature Review, By Greg Giusti of the U.C. Cooperative Extension; Guidelines for Talking with Your Forester, a tool to help forest landowners ensure ecological sustainability when removing biomass from their land- presented by Greg Giusti of U.C. Cooperative Extension; Current Initiatives- Small Scale Biomass Utilization, a review of the projects that are being pursued in the County and how they are ecologically sustainable; Biochar Demonstration Project; 3MW Electricity Facilities; Community Discussion, about the Literature Review and Projects in the County Who Should Attend? We are encouraging landowners, foresters, elected officials, county regulators, non-profit and conservation organizations, and representatives of environmental groups to attend.

Please RSVP to<> to sign up for one of the events and to receive a copy of Ecological Assessment of Biomass Thinning in Coastal Forests-A Literature Review to read before the event.


ROBBERY IN COVELO. On August 3, 2013 at about 9pm deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office were detailed to investigate the burglary of a cabin off of Highway 162 near Covelo. Deputies learned a vacation cabin had been broken into and items were taken. The reporting party advised he had walked to a neighboring cabin and had seen through the window items of his property inside this residence. He contacted the neighboring property owner and learned no one was supposed to be at this cabin. On August 4 deputies met with the reporting party for further investigation of the crime. Deputies also spoke with the owner of the second cabin where the stolen property had been seen and learned no one was supposed to be at the location. Deputies walked to the residence where they encountered a subject outside of the residence. Deputies attempted to contact the subject who picked up a firearm and began to run away from the cabin. Deputies ordered the subject to drop the firearm several times, and the subject complied throwing the firearm to the ground, while continuing to run away. The subject fled the location and ran down the Eel River canyon towards Dos Rios. The residence was cleared and no additional suspects were located. Deputies located the firearm which had been dropped by the suspect and found it was a crudely fashioned shotgun which had been constructed of plumbing materials and was loaded with a 12 gauge shotgun round. Also located at the residence were items of stolen property which belonged to the reporting party. These items were recovered and returned to the owner. Further investigation revealed this second residence had also been entered through a window and it appeared the suspect was a transient who had taken up residence in the cabin. The suspect is described as a Caucasian male adult in his mid 40s to early 50s. 5’ 09” to 6’0” with brown hair, and a gray beard. The suspect was last seen wearing blue jeans and a tan beanie type cap. Anyone with information regarding this subject is urged to contact Sergeant Matt Kendall, Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, at (707) 463-4086. (Sheriff’s Press Release.)




Hello everyone, I understand that by now this must appear to be insane, but for reasons known only to the inner cabal, the Washington D.C. IMC removed for the umpteenth time my message re: D.C. Beltway Protest Caravan Action. Let's get something straight, alright? I am certain that an action of dissent circumambulating the D.C. beltway is very spiritually intelligent, and is the only effective large scale possibility to counteract the bogus energy inside of the beltway. I am also certain that a combination of ritual performance, chanting mantrams, perhaps your band on the back of a flat bed truck?, and other creative, imaginative participation, would in fact function as a neutralizing agent to the abominable, stupid decision-making, which is utterly devoid of any spiritual intelligence, and is the hopeless condition of the United States government, particularly inside of the D.C. beltway. Three of us, formerly of the D.C. Occupy kitchen working group, are guesting at a house near Pittsburgh; I recently returned from California; and we want others to cooperate with us to 1.get us situated closer to Washington D.C., and 2.create with us an effective D.C. beltway protest caravan.

Craig Louis Stehr, August 5, 2013





Animal Care Services welcomes public insight and input at the Animal Care Stakeholder Meeting taking place on August 28, 2013 from 10am to Noon. The public is highly encouraged to bring ideas on how Animal Care Services can better serve the community. New Shelter Manager Sage Mountainfire will introduce newly hired Katherine Houghtby as Adoption Coordinator, explaining the roles of both. The shelter’s successes and challenges in the past year will open discussion on future improvements. This annual meeting will be held at the Ukiah Animal Shelter located at 298 Plant Road. Snacks will be provided. For those unable to attend, please submit your ideas, question or concerns to Ms. Mountainfire via email at or call 707-463-4654.


UKIAH COUNCILPERSON MARI RODIN responded to critic John Sakowicz who, a few days ago, had sarcastically complained, ““Just because 50/50 sounds fair, it is not necessarily fair,” said soon-to-be-retired Ukiah Finance Director Gordon Elton. ‘The 50/50 formula had the county ending up with 122 percent of the sales tax the city does.’ Gordon Elton, in speaking about the County of Mendocino and City of Ukiah tax-sharing sharing agreement, from The Ukiah Daily Journal, July 31, 2013. How does 50 become 122? Where did this guy get his accounting degree? No wonder Ukiah can't balance its books.”

MS. RODIN REPLIED: “It is because of the proposed ‘make whole’ component of the agreement. You can look that up in the draft. Basically, if the county went below its ‘base’ of sales tax revenue in any particular year, the City would have to pay whatever amount brings the county up to its base and THEN share 50/50 the remaining sales tax revenue. With such a provision, it isn't hard to see that we'd be giving the county more than we ourselves get and we'd be providing (and paying for) all of the services to support the development. Depending on the figures in any given year (I think Gordon was using figures from Jane's hypothetical scenario), the split on revenue could be what Gordon said. You should apologize for blaming Gordon.”



My Dear Elizabeth Swenson ––

I want to thank you for keeping Channel 3 on the air for a while, because the ARTS Showcase at least temporally gives me the illusion that my world is not going to hell in a hand basket!

I owe you an apology –– not that I’ve ever been actively related to the Footlighters or MCTV, other than being interviewed for Senior Perspectives and in news clips and having attended Footlighters’ performances. I apologize for the naivety exposed on October 8, 2009 in The Advocate Community Forum, in which in part I said:

“For half a century Footlighters Theater brought the coastal community a touch of down to earth family fun and in doing so earned our sincere thanks. So it was with confusion and sadness that I learned that in the name of Footlighters a lawsuit is pending against MCTV, our public access television station.”

Apparently there was some dispute among the members of Footlighters as to the gift offer of the Footlighters’ somewhat dilapidated building to the TV public access outlet. But as I wrote in 2009 :

“In my view, the Footlighters at the time took proper and responsible action. The reputation of the Footlighters was safeguarded, their deteriorating property brought back into use, while the quality of life for the entire community was enhanced by the strengthening of MCTV. After transfer of ownership, MCTV substantially repaired the property, expending over $100,000 to do so.”

During the two years MCTV spent making structural repairs, Footlighters said nothing. Then a lawsuit –– against MCTV ! not vs Footlighters’ erstwhile President! Apparently absent any mutual discussions, in this action one could discern opportunism, even greed. I remarked then:

“It is difficult to see how destroying MCTV furthers the interests of the people dedicated to the Footlighters. We should focus our energies and creativity rather than let them be consumed by the destruction this lawsuit represents.”

As to my apology: When we chatted in 2009 I was mistakenly assuming good will and community respect would govern the matter of whether or not a law suit. I was in error and am sorry I was not more forthright in urging action.

In light of the current behavior of the remnants of Footlighters, the conflicts of interest shadowing the case, the persistence of misstatements of facts and misdirection by leaders of the Footlighters and their attorney, I should have been more direct in urging public and legal action. Now, I am puzzled why no appeal has been filed. To my mind, the very basis of the law suit was fragile, if non-existent.

The overwhelming reality is that we residents-citizens have been deprived of a vital community communication resource –– an important vehicle for helping to make government processes more visible, accountable, and accessible to our widespread residents.

Yes, we have newspapers and radio, and some of us have broadband computers –– but the loss of MCTV is seminal. For citizens to be able to see and recognize public officials –– and to realize they can speak up to them –– is a precious value. Access, participation and communication are critical to the very existence of our community and our democracy.

In my time I’ve seen many instances of incompetence and unfounded and arrogant assertions –– the McCarthy fiasco, for instance –– but this home-grown one is startling in its viciousness and absence of concern and respect for community needs and values.

Honestly, my personal inclination now in light of this revelation of ethical lapses and absence of community values is to remove myself from this environment. It’s only that being in my 97th year do I refrain from moving. Certainly today I’d not recommend anyone taking up residence or business on the Mendocino coast.

My dear Elizabeth, please remember that in shaping MCTV you achieved a marvelous turn-around against substantial odds. I honor and thank you! Yes, I know you feel it was a team effort, that you had support –– enthusiastic often –– and the MCET-MCTV history will shine on, of that I am certain.

I must say, however, that I am acutely disappointed by the silence and invisibility of our community leadership who, by and large, have not stirred or expressed themselves. I am reminded of Edmund Burke’s comment:

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men [ and women –– HE ] to do nothing.” With warm personal regards, I am

Howard Ennes, Fort Bragg

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