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Mendocino County Today: August 10, 2013

LIKE MANY LOCALS, I’ve enjoyed the Haul Road north of Fort Bragg for years, an amenity we enjoy courtesy of the padrones of yesterday’s timber industry, and an amenity enjoyed by few other towns between San Diego and the Canadian border. For you readers unfamiliar with Fort Bragg, the Haul Road began as a logging railroad cut straight down the Mendocino Coast from a rich source of old growth redwood ten miles north of town. The rail line, installed around the turn of the 20th century, was eventually paved for post-War logging trucks and, I believe, in the early 1970s, was taken over by State Parks and opened to the public for walking and direct access to the Pacific.

HaulRoadBECAUSE most of the Haul Road abuts the ocean, much of it has fallen into the sea, especially the lengths of road north of MacKerricher State Park. State Parks has a $750,000 grant to take out the pavement and related debris in the area of Ward Avenue. Lots of people want Parks to somehow revamp the collapsed sections to a walking path, which seems impossible-to-futile to this Boonville walker, but doable to many others. What to do about that portion of the Haul Road — 2.7 miles of macadam chunks, will, along with the Mike Sweeney Memorial Transfer Station, be discussed at the Supe’s meeting this Tuesday at Town Hall Fort Bragg, beginning at 10am.


WHY A NEW ONE? Why not leave the trash transfer station at Caspar? According to a thorough account on a proposed new transfer station off Highway 20 by the excellent Frank Hartzell of the Fort Bragg Advocate News, Tuesday’s (Aug. 13) joint meeting of the Fort Bragg City Council and County Board of Supervisors at Fort Bragg’s Town Hall “may determine the future location of a waste transfer station for the coast.”

MIKE SWEENEY, manager of the Mendocino Solid Waste Management Authority, reveals that Fort Bragg and the County “have been working to develop a site where collection trucks and residents can drop off waste and recyclables to be sorted and packaged for transport.” According to Sweeney via Hartzell, a new trash op on Highway 20 three miles east of Fort Bragg would “reduce long-term costs of waste disposal, increase flexibility for long-haul transfer and reduce truck and traffic emissions.” (The full report is online at

ACCORDING to Sweeney's report, retooling Caspar would cost $3.86 million, while ground-up site development and construction at Highway 20 is estimated at $4.79 million.

FOURTH DISTRICT SUPERVISOR Dan Gjerde apparently is for the Highway 20 site. As quoted by Hartzell, Gjerde has said that “…the Highway 20 site, with its central location, would require shorter local truck trips for the garbage hauler, and so it is expected to impose even lower operational costs on coast garbage rates, especially the long-term rates.” In fact, it’s less central for Mendocino and Albion-area residents and not particularly relevant to Fort Bragg, whose trash is mostly handled by a commercial hauler.

THIS ONE SEEMS to be a done deal. It also seems to us a deal that is not justified by the presumed long-term savings, if any, and we’re not opposed simply because we consider Sweeney, the sole suspect in the 1990 car bombing of his ex-wife, a criminal sociopath. This country is run by criminal sociopaths, as a glance at Wall Street confirms. No one has ever accused Sweeney of not being capable; heck, he pulled off this major unresolved felony that enriched his two daughters and Darryl Cherney while managing to reinvent himself as Mendo’s lead trash bureaucrat, transitioning seamlessly from Maoist maniac to glib-guy acronym-spouter, a self-reinvention possible only in the unique amnesio-psycho-cannabis ambiance of Mendocino County, where everyone is whatever they say they are and history starts all over again every day.


IRONIES AND CRIMES everywhere one looks in Mendocino County. Every time I see or hear mention of “Town Hall” Fort Bragg, I remember the Fort Bragg fires of 1987 when, in one spectacular night of arsons, well-connected criminals burned down the old Fort Bragg Library, the adjoining Ten Mile Courthouse and the venerable Piedmont Hotel. Today’s Town Hall arose from the ashes of the old library and courthouse. Most places in America criminals who torched a town’s civic center would be arrested and prosecuted. Not here. Never happened, and here we are, floating beneath an officially sanctioned umbrella of major crimes, unpunished, largely forgotten.


THE BOONVILLE CONNECTION: According to Friday’s SF Chronicle, Randy Alana, 56, a registered sex offender and convicted killer, is being questioned about the disappearance of an Oakland woman who worked as an investigator for the federal public defender’s office. The remains of a woman fitting the missing woman’s description have been found near Vallejo, and Alana is under arrest for failing to register as a sex offender.


I ONCE FUNCTIONED as Alana’s foster father, as I also once functioned as David Mason’s foster father. They both lived with my family at the same time when we all arrived together in the bucolic Anderson Valley. Mason was subsequently executed at San Quentin for the ice pick murders of old ladies in the East Bay and for knocking off a cellmate. Alana was convicted of murder, rape and also killed a guy in jail.

BEFORE YOU GO all judgmental on me with accusations that I helped create the spectacular adult psycho-sexual maladjustment of the two lads, let me say that when I knew them as 14-year-olds it was well after they’d been deformed by their formative years. The short of it is with these guys, and millions of others on the receiving end of the American class system, intervention comes way too late — take a kid out of a pathological home when he’s 12, and he’s already damaged beyond repair, already has learned to get what he wants by force and violence. He’s unlikely to change until he gets too old and tired for crime. Of course just as many damaged children who spend their youths in bad homes and bouncing around the foster care system don’t grow up to become killers, but none of them, psycho or not, have an easy time of it, especially in the mass pathological psycho-social context we have going in this country.

ALANA spent about a year in Boonville. As a kid, he had a pronounced aptitude for, and interest in, automobile mechanics. If he’d been left in Boonville instead of “reunified” with his family, a bedraggled punching bag of an immigrant German mother and an alcoholic black father, the boy might have regained some of the fellow feeling that had been beaten out of him as a much younger child. Ditto for David Mason.

THE LAST TIME I picked up a morning paper to be startled by this guy, he was described as an “enforcer” for the prison version of the Black Guerilla Family, I think his affiliation was called. Alana, 6’6” and 260 was awaiting trial on charges that he’d murdered someone in prison when he and another guy stabbed another inmate to death.

HOW DID A GUY like this ever get out? If he’s responsible for the disappearance of Ms. Coke, a former love interest, that question is going to be asked a lot. Alana racked up his murder and rape charges in the early 1980s when he was still young, only a few years out of Boonville. He must have done well enough inside prison, apart from a cellblock murder here and there, to convince a parole board that he would no longer be a roving menace on the outside. But I must say, if he appeared at my front door today to reminisce about the old days in Boonville, he’d have to do it at gunpoint. He was dangerous as a kid, as was the aforementioned Mr. Mason, and both of them got a lot more dangerous as they grew into adulthood.

IN BOONVILLE, circa 1971, I suffered my first interface with the County’s educational establishment, at least its Boonville branch. I’d gone to see the Boonville school superintendent about enrolling Alana in the school’s automotive repair classes. Alana sported a big afro, as was the style among young black people at the time. The school chief said, “Sure, but he’s got to get a haircut.” I was nonplussed. The hair issue had already been to the Supreme Court where the ruling had been, “Like, it’s a matter for parents to decide, not school administrators.” But the superintendent, an edu-intellectual of the type still prevalent in the County, explained, “I’ve seen those people hide razor blades up there.” It went to the Boonville School Board. They also said no haircut, no automotive repair class. As I tried to explain hair law at the inevitable special school board meeting called to discuss hair length, the mob assembled for the meeting muttered threats and advised me to sit down and shut up. I concluded it wasn’t safe at Boonville High School for the kid so I didn’t pursue his enrollment; he was not a kid to suffer fools and bad things could have happened if, as was likely, the superintendent tried to cut his hair. Soon thereafter, with “family reunification” being the social work theory in vogue in the early 1970s, as was the cockamamie notion that hyper-aggressive delinquents invariably possessed a tell tale “simian crease” on the palms of their hands that made them prone to ultra-vi, the boy went home to Oakland and on into a life of mayhem and incarceration.

(A WOMAN'S BODY, presumed to be that of Ms. Coke, was found Friday about 1pm off Cherry Glen Road, across Interstate 80 from Lagoon Valley Park in Vacaville.)


ON-LINE STATEMENT OF THE DAY: “After 35 years in education, I find that children who are ‘English only’ often are the least fluent in my classroom. Why? The average child gets eight hours a day of ‘screentime’ — video games, computer TV, Baby Einstein, etc. That means eight hours a day they do not have interactive language with anyone — how can you learn your native language (English or otherwise) if no one talks to you? Watch a parent in the grocery store. Chances are they are on their cellphone, not interacting with their child. Some parents talk to their children in the grocery store — ‘Look, they have bananas! We need some yellow bananas, so let's count…’) The child learns the cadence of the language, the sentence structure and grows up with a profound vocabulary, ready for literacy when they enter school.” … And books? The Rotary Club in Santa Rosa gives each third grader a children's dictionary every year. I cannot tell you how many children cry because it is the first book they have ever been given in their lives! Then they take the dictionary home and read it. How can you expect the complex skill of literacy when many children come from homes without books?”



NOREEN EVANS, state senator out of Santa Rosa, will announce next week that she will not seek re-election in 2014. She was elected in 2010. Insiders say she's interested in a SoCo supervisor position. She's always been interested in money and has been dogged by questions about tax funded jaunts here and there while also drawing a salary from the law firm she worked for prior to her stay in the state senate.


DISCOVERY DAY for youngsters. Date: Saturday, August 17, 2013. Time: 1-4pm. Free Admission for Kids 12 and Younger. Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, 18220 North Highway One Fort Bragg— Plant a special flower pot, See how a seed sprouts, Play with art in the garden, Make a bag of herbs and a fairy wand, Take home a cup of succulents to plant…. Fun projects with the Master Gardeners and Fort Bragg Garden Club! For Information Call: 964-4352 x10.

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