SPIKE'S FINEST HOUR. Obama's missile blitz of Syria seems to have stalled, with even conservative liberals like our Congressman Huffman falling in behind Barbara Lee of Oakland and John Garamendi of Sacramento County in demanding that the president make his case for aerial war on Syria to Congress, which is the way war is supposed to be authorized.
GARAMENDI: “The prime minister of the United Kingdom went to the elected representatives of that country to ask them their opinion. The president of the United States should have sufficient respect for Congress to do the same. … I also heard the war in Iraq was going to be over in 60 days. And I heard people say there were weapons of mass destruction that were going to be coming at the United States. I am a serious skeptic when people want to go to war, whether it's President Bush or President Obama.”
HUFFMAN, wishy-washy and only partially coherent, is at least troubled by yet another unilateral attack on another country: “I am very troubled by the way the administration is proceeding,” Huffman said. “I think we need to learn from our mistakes in the past. Clearly something should be done, but just because something should be done doesn't mean anything can be accepted.”
IT ISN'T AT ALL CLEAR that “something should be done,” and as the Hope and Change Gang back down from their flat assertions that the Assad government launched a chemical attack on its own people, a move so dramatically against the tactical interests of the Assad regime it would be insane, Congress, for once is gearing up to at least debate the facts as they are known, or partially known since the UN investigation has not yet revealed what it has found.
EVEN MIKE THOMPSON said he thinks Congress should vote on an attack on Syria, adding that he thinks Obama might not have Congressional support for a war on Syria.
EARLY THIS WEEK, a Humboldt County man named Bruce Wayne Turner was arrested for marijuana cultivation and booked into the Humboldt County jail a little after 4pm. Earlier, law enforcement — reportedly from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, the Drug Task Force and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife — raided his place off of Dootyville Road where Turner is suspected of pumping from Mattole Canyon Creek which is crossed by the Dootyville Bridge and feeds the Mattole River. When water is sucked out of low creeks and summer nursery pools, federally protected fish can be endangered. Below is a 2012 image from Google Maps. A pushpin has been stuck in at the approximate place that the pump is believed to have been located this year.
The photo below shows the creek has nearly disappeared. The photo shows the last remaining pool near the Dootyville Bridge.
Observers say that a month ago the creek extended all the way down towards the bridge and had thousands of steelhead parr and several second-year steelhead juveniles. This photo was taken Thursday after the pump and waterline was removed.
Friday, a puddle with a few young steelhead and water striders remains. A strong smell of decaying algae creeps up from the dying creek.
Photos taken just before the pump was removed show the Dootyville Bridge in the background.
HUFFMAN to the rescue! Although the above atrocities occurred in Humboldt County, they occur everywhere on the Northcoast, including Mendocino County.
LATE TUESDAY AFTERNOON, under an agenda item called “legislative updates,” the Supervisors considered a request for a letter of support for a bill co-sponsored by Congressman Huffman.
HUFFMAN'S BILL asks that the state's Sentencing Commission review the penalties for marijuana trespass grows, especially those grows that deploy hazardous materials, divert water, poison wildlife and streams and otherwise deal severe insults to the health and welfare of the natural world.
THE IMPETUS for Huffman's action is the alarming number of Humboldt County grows, trespass and non-trespass, that not only use loads of pesticides, but help themselves to stream water to which they do not have legal access.
NATCH, no mention is made by Huffman of the practices of the wine industry of Mendocino and Sonoma counties, his major funders.
IN MENDOCINO COUNTY industrial wine grape production is massively dependent on chemicals. The marijuana industry probably is, too, and both help themselves to our overdrawn streams and rivers, with the wine industry legally sucking up acres of water they've mostly gotten riparian access to by buying land from old guard non-grape farmers who used very little of the County's finite waters. In Mendo, pot water diversions occur certainly, but the big draw on our streams is by the wine industry, and that draw is unregulated, basically unmonitored.
SINCE 1970, there are several thousand more wine straws in Mendo's streams than there were before 1970. How much water is illegally diverted by Mendo dope grows is not known, but you don't hear the despairing, pot-gro eco-stories prevalent farther north in HumCo.
THE WINE INDUSTRY is not big in Humboldt County, but the dope industry is big and so prevalent in HumCo that its abuses, now that the timber industry has faded into economic insignificance, have become HumCo's primary land use controversy.
AND REGULARLY we read reports like the one Fish and Game, in tandem with the Humboldt County Sheriff's Department, published just this week:
On August 27, 2013, at approximately 10am the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office and Humboldt County Drug Task Force assisted Game Wardens with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife with two search warrants in the Dootyville area of Humboldt County. Fish and Wildlife Wardens had received complaints regarding the dewatering of Mattole Canyon Creek which is a spawning ground for Salmon and Steelhead. A Fish and Wildlife Warden obtained a Humboldt County Superior Court Search Warrant after learning of stream diversion and water pollution occurring near two parcels of property. Officers went to the two different locations and served the warrants at approximately the same time. One of the locations was in the 1800 block of Dootyville Road. When officers arrived they located two people at the residence, Bruce Wayne Turner, 63, and his 56-year old girlfriend. Officers located a pump in Mattole Canyon Creek which was being used to pump water to the marijuana plants the couple was growing. The pump was pulling water from pools where Salmon and Steelhead Smolt were living causing the water level to drop and water temperature to heat up killing the young fish. Officers also saw there were places near the intake pipe where there was live fish. The Wardens also believed the pipe was sucking in and killing the Smolt. The officers located where oil was spilled in the riverbed near the pump and saw where the suspects were storing oil and gas cans in the river bed. Officers located 877 growing marijuana plants located in two greenhouses on the property. The plants ranged in size from approximately 8” to 6’. They also located approximately $198,000 in cash, scales and evidence the marijuana was being sold for profit. Turner was arrested for cultivation and possession for sale of marijuana, allowing a place for drugs to be stored (all felonies) and Fish and Wildlife code violations for altering a streambed without a permit and polluting a streambed (both misdemeanors). He was transported to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility where he was booked and his bail was set at $50,000. Turner’s girlfriend was not arrested due to health issues. Charges are being sought against her through the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office.
At the second location in the 3100 block of Dootyville Road, officer’s located another pump in the Mattole Creek riverbed removing water from the creek to water marijuana plants. That pump was also creating the same environmental issues and damage as the first location. Officers located a 59 year old male and his 56 year old wife living on the parcel in a residence. Officers searched the property and located 172 growing marijuana plants in two greenhouses ranging from 1’ to 6’ in height on the property. They also located approximately 4 lbs of marijuana bud and 25 lbs of processed marijuana along with four handguns, one shotgun and two rifles. Charges are being sought against the couple through the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office for cultivation of marijuana, possession for sale of marijuana, allowing a place for drugs, possession of a loaded firearm in the commission of a felony stream diversion and polluting a stream. They were not arrested at the time due to logistical issues with transporting them to jail. Anyone with information for the Sheriffs Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriffs Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.
THE SUPES FINALLY AGREED, 3-2, with Hamburg and Pinches opposed, to support Huffman's legislation aimed at beating back toxic grows.
HAMBURG TALKS a good game about being opposed to trespass growers that trash the environment, but can't bring himself to ever against them. Pinches said he was opposed to more laws on the dope issue.
ANOTHER NOTEWORTHY occurrence at Tuesday's meeting of the Supervisors was the slapstick appearance of an SEIU rep named Meredith Staples (yep, another new one) during Public Expression who tried to explain where the hidden pots of money are that SEIU says are being withheld by the Supes from the pay packets of County workers.
WE'LL SOON give you, dear readers, a complete transcription of the dope pollution discussion and the SEIU's presentation, but for now what was interesting about the SEIU's presentation by Ms. Staples was how many time Chairman Hamburg had to shut her down, not because of what she was saying but because he kept forgetting both her name and the fact that he'd just seconds before told Ms. Staples her time was up.
MS. STAPLES' FIRST REMARKS ran over time and she had to be closed off then, after she returned to her seat, picked up a speaker's slip, she was again called to the speaker's podium, this time to be ruled out of order. She again went back to her seat and again Hamburg called her name as if hearing it and seeing her for the first time.
Regarding John Arteaga's letter (The AVA, August 30, Online) protesting the Willits Bypass protestors. Arteaga first tells them to “get a life” and then proceeds to roll out some of the same hackneyed, retread arguments that have been used down through the decades against those working for social, environmental, and political change. His points can be summed up as 1. let democracy work, 2. love it or leave it, 3. the ship has sailed, 4. it's a done deal, 5. it's divisive, 6. we need the jobs.
Let me remind the writer that nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience have been a vital part of democracy even before Ghandi, Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez. The underground railroad, women's sufferage, labor movements, liberation movements, anti-nukes, civil rights, farmworkers organizing, anti-war, environmental protection… have all, with varying successes and failures, been a living part of democracies. It's the way democracy works.
Nonviolence asks its practioners to sacrifice their own time and their own bodies to encourage progress rather than blowing up things and killing people… by sitting in trees, jail cells, politicians' offices, and courtrooms; by chaining themselves to equipment; by braving wind, rain and cold; by accepting beatings and shootings; and by suffering harassment by passersby and letter writers. That is how they “get a life.”
In our most recent local past, nonviolent protestors tried to save our forests for long term sustainability, warning that the jobs created by raping the forests would soon be gone, and any chance of living-wage, sustainable, long-term jobs would be lost in the process. They were right. We lost the trees and the jobs. So arguing for short-term jobs building massive cement structures for our rapidly obsolescing, car-centric, nature-killing, climate-changing economy rings hollow.
I am honored to live in a community with neighbors like Will Parrish and Sara Grusky who care enough about our future to go beyond verbal, written, and marching protests and accept being extremely uncomfortable. Yes, it can be divisive, and no, it's not a done deal.
Dave Smith, Redwood Valley
SEAMUS HEANEY 13 APRIL 1939-30 AUGUST 2013
Requiem for the Croppies
The pockets of our greatcoats full of barley...
No kitchens on the run, no striking camp...
We moved quick and sudden in our own country.
The priest lay behind ditches with the tramp.
A people hardly marching... on the hike...
We found new tactics happening each day:
We'd cut through reins and rider with the pike
And stampede cattle into infantry,
Then retreat through hedges where cavalry must be thrown.
Until... on Vinegar Hill... the final conclave.
Terraced thousands died, shaking scythes at cannon.
The hillside blushed, soaked in our broken wave.
They buried us without shroud or coffin
And in August... the barley grew up out of our grave.
THE JURY GOT ROBBED
by Bruce McEwen
The courtroom can be better entertainment than cable TV. Tragedy, comedy, and everything in between plays every day all day at the County Courthouse, sometimes in one guy — one guy like Marc Radcliffe.
Mr. Radcliffe has made something of a career out of home invasion robberies. He was looking at life in prison for his latest caper, which wasn't what you would call well planned. The guy already had two strikes, and this one, because it was semi-violent, would have gotten him a third strike, 25 years to life.
So when the prosecution offered Radcliffe 18 years instead of a jury trial that would find him guilty in about 30 seconds, Radcliffe grabbed 18 years.
Radcliffe, in his latest crime, had let himself in to the apartment of a retired couple on Waugh Lane in Ukiah while both residents, Mr. and Mrs. Dotson, were at home. No one knows how long Radcliffe was in the apartment before he presented himself to the shocked couple, but it was long enough for him to sort through Mrs. Dotson’s underwear drawer and outfit himself in her underwear, stockings, and one of her wrap around skirts. When his ensemble was complete, Radcliffe came up behind the unsuspecting Mrs. Dotson as she sat watching TV and working a crossword puzzle and started rubbing her arms and whispering in her ear.
Mrs. Dotson shot out of her chair and screamed for her husband who came running from the computer room. An altercation ensued and Mr. Dotson tore his wife's dress off Radcliffe who then fled the residence in Mrs. Dotson’s underwear, grabbing Mrs. Dotson’s purse as he exited the premises.
The next day Mrs. Dotson found her driver’s license, social security card and Medicare card scattered along the abandoned railroad tracks behind her apartment. Her cash, about a hundred bucks, was gone. The tracks function as a kind of alternate travel route for inland bums who shuffle to and from central Ukiah on booze and dope runs.
The situation the Dotsons found themselves in with Radcliffe was eerie and bizarre in the extreme, which may explain why Mr. and Mrs. Dotson didn’t agree in all the details of their adventure with the intruder-beast. The prosecution felt that given the inconsistencies, it would be better to get the defendant put away for definite 18 years rather than risk a possible acquittal, and there goes one more free range psycho out onto the streets of Ukiah.
Radcliffe was already on parole before his excursion into grandma's underwear drawer; he was going back inside either way, jury trial or plea deal.
But there was enough evidence presented in the pre-trial hearing that we can give the reader a condensed version of the testimony.
Neither Mr. or Mrs. Dotson had noticed Radcliffe’s tattoos.
The people who decorate themselves with this kind of “art” are inordinately vain about the permanent doodling they've inked into their skin. They seem to think we all notice. We don't. We especially wouldn't be apt to notice the skin art on a guy who suddenly looms up in our face in our own house wearing our underwear.
If a leopard had you cornered, would you check to make sure it wasn't a mountain lion?
But Public Defender Linda Thompson thought she could use Radcliffe's tattoos to make the Dotsons look like doddering old fools who'd imagined the whole thing.
Also, Mrs. Sandra Dotson had described the intruder as heavyset while Mr. Darrel Dotson described him as tall and thin.
Mrs. Dotson is a small, petite woman and all she could really see was Intruder-Beast in her clothes. I-B is over six feet tall. He would have appeared huge to a small woman, especially in a small woman’s clothes.
Public Defender Thompson, a cross-dresser herself, latched on to these body art and sartorial inconsistencies despite Mrs. Dotson's statement that she was “100 percent sure” Radcliffe was the man in her apartment wearing her underwear that February night.
Nobody in the courtroom laughed at any of this weird testimony. The bailiff has to keep a straight face, so it’s understandable that he would be the last one to laugh out loud. But what about the clerks and court reporter? What about the newspaper correspondent? Why are they all looking away, or down at their shoes? Even the judge often had her face averted. Maybe because, in a way, the whole episode was so sordidly unfunny that nobody saw anything amusing in it. And, as any cop will tell you, they deal with the bizarre all the time and, when you get a steady diet of it, it's more tiresome than funny.
Ms. Thompson took off her man’s suit coat and hung it on the back of a chair, apologizing to the judge for not wearing it, blaming the hot August weather for her informality even though the courtroom is air-conditioned and even though male dress protocols have nothing to do with women who dress in men's suits.
Ms. Thompson: “I see you wear glasses; do you wear them all the time?”
Mrs. Dotson: “Yes.”
Thompson: “Are your glasses 20-20?”
Dotson: “I don’t know.”
Thompson: “I notice you have a muscular tick at the corner of your left eye…”
Dotson: “Yes, that’s true.”
Thompson: “Does that affect your vision?”
Dotson: “No, not really.”
Thompson: “When this man leaned over your left shoulder, rubbing your arms and whispering in your ear — do you recall what he said?”
Dotson: “I couldn’t understand what was said.”
Thompson: “Well, did you notice any scars, marks or tattoos?”
Dotson: “No, I just jumped up and screamed for my husband.”
Thompson: “And he came out of the computer room?”
Thompson: “Were you — well, let me ask you this: Were your husband and the intruder ever, at any time, face-to-face?”
Thompson: “How did you know the intruder was wearing your red underpants?”
Dotson: “He had on one of my skirts, the kind that wraps around and ties, and he had it tied wrong, so the underpants were showing; then when I told my husband, That’s my skirt!, He (Mr. Dotson) grabbed it and ripped it off.”
Thompson: “Did you see the intruder take your purse from near the front door as he left?”
Thompson: “You later found a pair of sweat pants in your home?”
Dotson: “Yes. It was two or three days later. I found them in the bathroom.”
Thompson: “And where was your underwear kept?”
Dotson: “In a dresser drawer.”
Thompson, having established exactly nothing beyond the fact that two senior citizens had been terrorized in their own home, said, “That’s all I have.”
The prosecutor was new, like a relief pitcher in a baseball game. Last week’s Mr. Damon Gardner, the starting prosecutor, had been replaced with this week's Ms. Shannon Cox, ace reliever.
Deputy DA Cox called Darrel Dotson, 66, to the stand.
Mr. Dotson said that on the night of the incident he was in the computer room when he heard his wife scream for help. He ran to her and saw “a gentleman” in his house facing his wife.
DDA Cox: “What did you do?”
Mr. Dotson: “I said, 'Hey, who the hell are you? Get the hell out!”
Cox: “Do you recall what he was wearing?”
Dotson: “At the time he had a white skirt on. I didn’t know it was my wife’s until she told me.”
Cox: “What did the defendant do?”
Thompson broke in to say, “I object to the suspect being referred to as my client.”
Cox: “What did the ‘suspect’ do?”
Dotson: “He just looked at me so I repeated what I’d said, Get the hell out!”
Cox: “Was he still wearing the skirt?”
Dotson: “No, I grabbed it and ripped it off when my wife said it was hers.”
Cox: “Can you describe him?”
Dotson: “About six-one, kinda on the slender side.”
Cox: “Any facial hair?”
This happened in February. Radcliffe, on a major tweek binge, was probably fairly slender at the time. Like lots of dopers away from their appetite-suppressing go-fast powder, he'd bulked up in jail.
Dotson: “Seems like I noticed some, but I couldn’t say what color it was.”
Cox: “Did the defendant leave when you told him to get out?”
Dotson: “He headed toward the door.”
Cox: “Did you stay with him?”
Dotson: “Yes. When he got to the door, he reached to get a bag by the door and as I was closing the door, he tried to pick up another bag and I slammed the door on his arm.”
Cox: “Did he drop the second bag?”
Ms. Thompson began her cross-examination.
Thompson: “Do you wear glasses?”
Dotson: “Yes, ma’am.”
Thompson: “All the time?”
Dotson: “Pretty much.”
Thompson: “Were you wearing them at the time of the incident?”
Dotson: “No. When she called me I took ‘em off.”
Thompson: “When you talked to Officer Delapo, you described the shirt the suspect was wearing as yellow…”
Dotson: “Yes, ma’am.”
Thompson: “Are you sure about that?”
Dotson: “Yes, ma’am.”
Thompson: “Did you see his arm when you slammed it in the door?”
Dotson: “I’m not sure.”
Thompson: “But you told the officer you didn’t see any marks, scars or tattoos, didn’t you?”
Dotson: “Yes, ma’am.”
Thompson: “You said the suspect was wearing panties — well, let me put it this way, do you recall telling Officer Delapo he was wearing gray briefs — do you use the word ‘panties’?”
Dotson: “Not anymore I don’t. I say briefs.”
Thompson: “But you recall ‘em being gray?”
Dotson: “Yes, ma’am.”
Thompson: “And your wife, do you know if they were hers?”
Dotson: “She’s got so many clothes, I couldn’t say if they were hers or not.”
Thompson, gratuitously, “Yes, I saw her closet, and she sure does have a lot!”
During the recess, the prosecution offered Radcliffe the 18 years. Sandra Dotson had said the ‘briefs’ were red and the ‘shirt’ was pink when the shirt worn by Intruder-Beast was yellow, the briefs not red. The prosecution seems to have felt there were ID probs. The Public Defender, defending the indefensible, agreed on 18 years.
Radcliffe's two strike priors were serious robberies, but they were not violent, so only one of the strikes would be counted if Radcliffe pled to this one. He would have to serve 85 percent of the 18 years. Eighteen years sounded better to the guy than putting his non-defense in front of a jury and risking 25-to-life. He took the offer.
The feeling was that this agreement spared Sandra Dotson the ordeal of repeating the story in front of a jury, and got Intruder-Beast put away. He’ll do 85 percent of the 18 years.