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Mendocino County Today: Wednesday, Apr 9, 2014

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THIS IS A STORY of a 67-year-old Sacramento woman who left the Spy Rock (Laytonville) home she was visiting Saturday to take a look at the neighborhood. She said she was particularly interested in examining the local flora.

SPY ROCK. STRANGER. FLORA. Strikes one, two and three.

SPY ROCK is not a neighborhood you wander around in. The prevalent flora is marijuana. Even people who live there have gone up Spy Rock Road never to be seen again. A 67-year-old woman would not necessarily get a pass if she wandered into someone's medicine patch.

KATHY JO MORGAN, however, survived her Spy Rock sojourn, but just barely. She wasn't harmed by anyone other than herself when she managed to tumble down into a 300-foot ravine she couldn't climb out of. She'd walked out to look around a little before 2pm Saturday afternoon. When she hadn't returned by 1 a.m. Sunday, her friends finally called her in as missing.

SEARCH AND RESCUE teams from Lake and Mendocino counties, reinforced by a CHP helicopter, began to look for Kathy Jo, finally locating her at 10:30 Sunday morning. She was dehydrated, very cold, had sustained minor cuts and bruises, said her back hurt and she thought maybe she'd cracked a rib or two, but she was alive. And quite lively, too, remarking that she really enjoyed being hoisted outtathere by helicopter.

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AT THE SUPE'S meeting of March 25th, Mendocino County Superior Court Presiding Judge David Nelson told the Board of Supervisors that he knew the construction of a new judges-only courthouse would create lots of problems — "disruptive," as the judge euphemized the chaos sure to ensue.

'DISRUPTIVE' hardly begins to describe the desire of nine judges to enhance their own comfort and convenience at the expense of everyone else's convenience. It means all the ancillary court services now housed under one roof in the old courthouse will either stay where they are while the judges ensconce themselves two blocks away or, as Judge Nelson suggests, Mendocino County can find the money to buy a neighboring parcel on which to build a new office building at County expense!

EVEN BY THE MONARCHICAL STANDARDS of our superior court Nelson's blithe suggestion that the taxpayers not only erect a new courthouse for their majesties, but should also now fund land and buildings for the relocation of the DA and other offices, is positively Henry the VIII. (Maybe the judges themselves should invest in the surrounding properties; they're certainly a lot more solvent than the county is.)

THE SUPERVISORS were silent, whether dumbstruck by the preposterousness of Nelson's suggestion or out of deference to his honor, but dumb they were and seemingly deaf, too.

THERE'S NOTHING WRONG with the existing courthouse that diversion of several million dollars from the projected cost a new judges-only courthouse wouldn't solve, but Judge Nelson and his eight pampered colleagues have their acquisitive little hearts set on lavish new quarters for themselves two long blocks to the east, a brand new courthouse all by itself that would require all related services like district attorneys and public defenders to come to them. And wreck what's left of central Ukiah.

AFTER JUDGE NELSON departed, County CEO Carmel Angelo suggested that the county "explore" the idea of having the county consider Nelson's notion that the taxpayers should buy property next door to the new courthouse on which to relocate related court services.

SUPERVISOR PINCHES, as always cutting to the core of the issue, pointed out that maybe the judges and their state sponsors should do something about the housing problem they will have created as they say, "We'll just lift the judges out and everyone else can make do." And everyone else includes what's left of central Ukiah, many of whose businesses depend heavily on the business generated by the existing courthouse.

SUPERVISORS Dan Gjerde and Carre Brown expressed mild concern about where the money would come from to buy property adjacent to the new courthouse. As they pointed out, given the County’s existing debt load (millions more in obligations to retirees than the County can possibly pay) and the fact that the state didn’t seem to be including the County in the discussion of where the County staff would be located after the new courthouse was built, well, gee and golly.

SUPERVISOR HAMBURG then made a motion to authorize staff to explore property acquisition. (Supervisor McCowen was not in the room when the courthouse discussion took place.) And everybody said go ahead: Find out how much the judges are going to cost us and, essentially, "Let them do whatever they want."

IT SHOULD BE NOTED that Judge Nelson has always been close to Hamburg. Nelson served as Hamburg's chief of staff during Hamburg's term as congressman. One would think that Hamburg would exclude himself from this discussion; his pal Nelson is the chief proponent of a massive county investment if a new courthouse becomes a reality. And a new courthouse is indeed inexorably moving ahead outside all local authority, and now we have this new Nelson initiative to buy land to relocate the DA and other services to accommodate a judges-only courthouse that Mendocino County does not need.

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PETER RICHARDSON, SLOW LEARNER. Just last week, Richardson beat his second DUI in six months by hanging the jury. He walks out of the County Courthouse at noon and is back in custody on his third DUI an hour later, so drunk he ran into the side of the Water Trough Bar on South State, Ukiah. Then he ran from the CHP. When the cops finally grabbed him he put up a little drunken resistance.

THIS TIME, Richardson’s charges include:

F(elony) 2800.4 Recklessly evading a police officer by driving on the wrong side of the road

M(isdemeanor) 23152(a) Driving under the influence with two prior convictions

M 23152(b) Driving with .08 or greater with two prior convictions

M 148  Resisting arrest

M 166(4) Contempt of court [defendant was ordered not to drive except to his doctor; not to drive with a measurable amount of alcohol; and to abstain from alcohol, all as part of his O.R. release on the earlier case]

LAST YEAR, Richardson was also popped for growing felony amounts of marijuana that he said he was juicing to beat back his prostate cancer. That was bargained down to a fine and a misdemeanor.

NOT THAT MANY YEARS AGO, Richardson's Rainbow Construction was awarded major Ukiah-area contracts to build schools and government buildings. His illness and his repeat falls since are sad.

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COMMENT OF THE DAY: "But it gets tiring being a Republican. It's the motivation that's the hard part, finding a reason to get up in the morning. Even the Nazis had an exciting Big Idea. They wanted to take over the world. But rank-and-file Republicans don't want the world. They want the world to go away and leave them alone. If it must stay, let it speak English and not call during Survivor. That's a hell of a thing to hope for, especially since it's never going to happen. No wonder they're so angry. Even Hitler had a chance." (Matt Taibbi)

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WE'VE GOT FOUR 'Blood Moons,' as lunar eclipses are called, coming up over the next two years, the first of which will occur the evening of April 14.

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THE FIRE that nearly destroyed Wilbur Hot Springs last weekend? Owner Richard Miller, 75, of Mendocino (and host of a new agey KZYX show), didn't have insurance on the place, and losses are estimated at $2 million. And the fire occurred as Miller was present to celebrate his birthday. "Things, stuff, it all goes. Back to ashes. But fire can't destroy the spirit of this place," Miller told the Chronicle. "The No. 1 thing is that no one was injured. We've spent our lives helping people, and we plan to keep doing it. That's not going to change." Miller also said he expected to reopen the venerable Colusa County spa soon for camping and "limited" lodging. He said he hoped to rebuild with donations and volunteers.

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ON SATURDAY, April 19, from 5 to 7 pm, the Mendocino County Museum will host a special literary and historical book reception featuring Kim Bancroft, Willits resident and editor of "Literary Industries: Chasing A Vanishing West," just published by Heyday. This version of "Literary Industries" is abridged from the 850-page autobiography written by Kim's great-great-grandfather, who amassed an enormous collection of documents on Western history and ecology that formed the basis for the renowned Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley. The event is free and will be accompanied by a slide show on H.H. Bancroft's life and legacy beginning at 5:30. Kim Bancroft will speak on the culture and history of California's first inhabitants, with help from Vicki Patterson, expert on native peoples of Mendocino County. California food and wines will be served.

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MORE RANDOM COMMENT: "If there’s ‘revolution in the air’ then I’m afraid that’s where it’s going to stay. We haven’t enough of a discernable center to revolt against. No easily identifiable entity or enemy: no Louis XVI, Nicholas II or George III. The culture is fractured into numerous irreconcilable factions. The lower classes are kept stupefied on drugs and handouts, and our middle class has no stomach to bring the resources and ideological clarity necessary to fire a revolutionary cause. Even that reliable fomenter of rebellion, the academe, is tied to the purse strings of various governmental institutions, and, in turn, those institutions function at the indulgence of the nameless, nebulous corporate behemoth that seems to rule all. Mayhem and disentegration, perhaps. Revolution? I don’t think so. Ever since Reagan, government research grants have been mainly of two kinds: for government directly, or for business directly (with matching government funding). Government funding has been corrupted by ideology and religion, while business funding always has been for narrow, immediate, short term goals. Those goals do not include rocking the boat. A good example is the research on flax seeds. A researcher found what she referred to as (IIRC), 'the most promising anti-cancer drug' she had ever seen (fresh ground flax seed), but could get no money to research it fully, because no-one could make a buck from flax seeds. So no private investment, so no matching funds from government, so no great new anti-cancer drug, for want of few hundred thousand. If that is not systemically corrupt, I do not understand the definition. I conclude that academe is cowed, bought, and paid for, and will provide a wet blanket rather than a spark. Then there are the drones and the surveillance, provided by the other smart folks who don’t want to be victims of the coming global resource collapse. I therefore agree with you when you say, “Revolution”? I don’t think so.”

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by Tom Cahill

A review of "Comedy of Terror" by John Fremont (2014)

An offer from Hollywood for the film rights to "Comedy of Terror" MUST be in the mail to John Fremont for his first novel. How could a satire fail at the box office when it contains ALL the cows most sacred to society (and to moi)--religion, politics, violence, auto mechanics, child psychology, romance and even (Oh, my Goddess! ) s-e-x.

"Joe Benton was more comfortable around numbers than around politicians or priests," writes Fremont. This is because the author's protagonist is a numbers' cruncher for Rep. Zack Powers (D-NY). Technically Joe is "a demographer, a statistician" who helps the Congressman decide which way the wind is blowing in order to hop off the fence for (What else is more sacred to a pol?) v-o-t-e-s.

Unhappily married to a child psychologist and with an "unruly" son and a dead end job, Joe is given a teeny-tiny piece of his boss' largesse (that's polite French for "bribes"), a Caribbean cruise, during which Joe falls in love with a hippie chick while a mysterious plague kills a few passengers and sickens many more, motivating high officials of the administration of POTUS Potts to hop off the fence for some sacred votes by exploiting-to-the-max the T-word (terrorism) on board the "Queen of the Seas." Arriving home early from the cruise, Joe discovers his Congressman naked in a hot tub with Mrs. Benton and half enraged and fifty percent relieved to be free at last, Joe recruits his car mechanic friend, Wally, to help him find his new true love somewhere in northern California, coincidentally where the author lives among hippies whose lives (I have it on good authority) are never as dull as Joe Benton's before his vacation.

Being a grease monkey who plays cello and is an authority on cults, Wally the mechanic is the perfect Dr. Watson to Joe's Sherlock Holmes in searching for the elusive object of the former demographer's heart. Here Fremont reveals his extensive knowledge and cynicism of religion in general, cults in particular, cutting me personally to the quick of my horribly-deformed toe nails. Before I won a little lottery and moved to France a year ago, I lived in Northern California for more than forty years as an unreconstructed hippie AND in 1984 together with a famous and outspoken San Francisco "sex therapist" even founded our own "religion" we named the "Church of the Holy Pariahs." (My partner has since claimed memory loss so alone in 2012, I canonized Doris Haddock to be known henceforth as Saint Granny D of the Long Walk whose feast day is forevermore March 18, incidentally the day after that of St. Patrick of the Snakes and Guinness.)

Not only has Fremont offended me personally with his satire, but also our pal, Bruce Anderson, has maligned me as well. Years ago, the big lug even maliciously attacked my teddy bear, in print with a photo no less. Whooaaaa! Anderson is publisher and editor of the "Anderson Valley Advertiser," a left-radical weekly renowned internationally for it's pithy and pitiless political punditry as well as local high school ball-game scores, car wrecks and lost cats.

In reviewing "Comedy of Terror" in his April 4 edition, Anderson exhibited his disdain for my spirituality when he quoted Fremont describing a "plump Psychic to the Stars" channeling a former First Lady who was asked who was a better lover, Jack or Ari, and responded with "her left arm raised as if to shield her eyes from the sun, her right hand swept behind as if fanning a fart."

I've done a bit of channeling myself. In 2003, upon leaving the Oval Office after witnessing Pres. Bush (yes, the very same George W.) sign into law the Prison Rape Elimination Act, I simply meant to say, "Thank you, Mr. President, for signing the bill." But what came out of my mouth was, "Mr. President, I bet I'm the first hippie in the White House." Bush smiled and mumbled something I couldn't understand and I was out the door in a flash totally chagrinned. Instantly I knew I had channeled Stephen Donaldson, a Navy vet and the lead activist most responsible for this legislation who died in 1996 of AIDs contracted by sexual assault while in prison for PTSD. I was relieved not long afterward when I read that close to the top of W's shit list are . . . hippies.

I'd take the red eye from Paris to SFO just to sock Anderson's schnoz but he "buys ink by the barrel" to "fan the flames of discontent" as he warns in the masthead of his paper. And he's an ex-gyrene who's been jailed at least once--for punching-out an official at a public meeting. Besides, I need to have my Peugeot inspected sometime soon.

Another left-wing, radical, Sixties icon who also won't be getting a Christmas card from me ever again, Paul Krassner, also liked Fremont's book, praising "Comedy of Terror" as "well-written, timely, witty, skillfully structured, and a pleasure to read." Krassner, himself a satirist, is author of "Confessions of a Raving, Unconfined Nut: Misadventures in the Counterculture." He started out life as a child prodigy, playing violin at Carneigie Hall at age 6 in 1939. But later he embraced the life of a career troublemaker, helping found the Yippies as well as "The Realist" magazine. He was also a member of (OMG!) Ken Kesey's "Merry Pranksters."

In 1967, Krassner so outraged many especially in government that he was denounced from the floor of Congress for publishing in "The Realist" a spoof about Jackie Kennedy having discovered on "Air For One" returning from Dallas "LBJ copulating with the neck wound in JFK's body." So what if today twenty percent of the eighty percent of Americans who disagree with the Warren Commission, believe LBJ was one of the masterminds of The Assassination. Well, the Golden Rule is who has the gold, rules. Right?

Hey, with praise from these two of Church 'n' State's biggest pains-in-the-ass, how could "Comedy of Terror" not break a leg since it's done in the very best tradition of "The Pentagon Wars" (1998), "Wag the Dog" (1997), "King of Hearts" (1966), and my all time favorite, "The Mouse That Roared" (1959) that motivated me in 1968 to give up my U.S citizenship emotionally and spiritually and become a member of the unarmed forces of the Duchy of Grand Fenwick waging peace with the world.

I just wish I had some spare change to invest in Fremont's film.

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Dear Editor:

Maybe we should thank Tom Hine, aka TWK, for encouraging in Sunday's (4/6) UDJ community interest in Ukiah’s sign law, set for City Council discussion on April 16.  On the other hand, surely it’s time to respond to his ongoing op-ed ridicule directed against local pub­lic agencies.  Let’s acknowledge this interminable TWK invective so often peppered with inaccuracies and out­right lies.

Mr. Hine, who hypocritically gets his kicks deriding local government and public school staffs while he’s been on the public payroll for the last twenty years or so, absurdly claims that enforcement of our sign ordinance is “targeting local churches.”  He knows this is a lie and yet, tellingly, Tom Hine could not care less that it’s a lie.

Mr. TWK should know the sad and dubious church sign is likely protected given the ex post facto phrase in our Constitution. Isn’t it one thing to be burdened with a mean spirit ever full of venom and another to spew falsehoods which would win accolades at Orwell’s Min­istry of Truth?

Ukiah’s existing sign ordinance already prohibits “flashing, rotating, animated, blinking and moving signs” along with changeable message boards.  The existing rules prohibit any “illuminated sign which exhibits changing light or color effect by blinking or any other such means so as to provide a nonconsistent illu­mination.”  I am encouraging our Council on April 16 to make this prohibition more explicit and so easier for staff to enforce, given modern technology. (Please check out subject sign style on North State Street near freeway, on Orchard Avenue just south of Perkins, and on 101 free­way in Rohnert Park and Petaluma.)

Yes Ukiah, the more we read Mr. Hine, the more we conclude he appreciates increasing license for assaults on our privacy, safety, and tranquility.  And while we run into plenty who’d tell Hine: “do your *&^%*#% home­work for a change,” TWK fans celebrate his hatred of government and law.

Let’s encourage Tom Hine, champion for invasive noise making toys, noncompliance, and distracting, gar­ish, Las Vegas style signage in Ukiah, to attend and speak his mind at our April 16 Council session.  (Note - we haven’t seen Hine attend any Council meetings or volunteer for City service during the last fifteen years.)

Phil Baldwin, Ukiah

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by Suza Lambert Bowser

Author's note: Greetings to you from Decatur Prison in Illinois!

You may remember me and my writing from a few years ago when you published some of my creative nonfic­tion under the name Suzanna Bowser. To round out your memory you may or may not recall that I was so­cially acquainted with fellow Petrolian Alex Cockburn and that I worked as a lecturer at Humboldt State Univer­sity.

To clarify the dramatic opening of this letter, I'm cur­rently incarcerated in Decatur, Illinois, having run afoul of the law by transporting Humboldt County pot through that fair state which, ironically, just legalized medical marijuana!

No longer the mild-mannered schoolteacher/college lecturer, I'm now a hardened class X felon, a classifica­tion that equates my crime with the actions of embez­zlers, extortionists, armed robbers, and murderers. According to my lawyers I got off easy because I could have received up to 30 years if I had fought the case or if the judge had been hung over (the latter, a strong possi­bility from what I knew of the judge).

Through all of this, I have managed to continue writ­ing although it's a challenge in here where the ambience is often like that of a carnival. Nonetheless, I have writ­ten some pieces and I hope you'll consider publishing some of my work. To that end, I've enclosed this small piece entitled, "Prison Tornadoes."

PS. Marijuana smuggling was not my main career choice. Please Google my name for more information.

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We can't see the city of Decatur from inside this prison, but at 9:30pm, we hear the city's sirens wailing in the distance, alarms that signal the worst disasters: floods, fires, plagues of locusts, nuclear attacks, and, of course, tornadoes.

It's June 5th, and the TV visuals of the “F-4” that just wiped out Moore, Oklahoma are still fresh in our minds when the C.O. stops by to check on our 14' x 11' cell. He sticks his head through the door and says, “It's a code 7, ladies. Get under your mattresses.” With that uneasy admonition, he disappears, and we don't see him again for the rest of the night.

I'm from California – a stranger in this strange Mid­western land – but no stranger to home turf catastrophes like tsunamis and earthquakes. Still, for a newcomer to Illinois weather patterns, the idea of a tornado brings a couple of thoughts to mind besides the obvious images of devastation.

One is the old joke about the similarity between an Oklahoma tornado and a divorce where the punch line is: “Somebody's gonna lose a trailer.” The other associa­tions involve the old familiar yellow brick road adven­ture. Tonight, with sirens screaming, I'm not sure I actu­ally want to meet the man behind the curtain. The series of intense thunderstorms, high winds, and multiple tor­nadoes headed our way make me nervous about funnel clouds, witches on bikes, and having conversations with the great and powerful Oz.

After the C.O. directs us to make like ostriches, Desiree says, “Fuck that! We need to go into the bath­room.” Our resident “OCD” roommate adds, “ Yeah, lets hide in the bathroom. I ain't messin' up my bed for this shit!”

And so, we wedge ourselves into the 3' x 4' cubicle, our state-issue pillows made of weird 1970's-style cracked naugahyde positioned over our heads. Desiree sits backwards and side-saddle on the throne, her ample bottom precisely six inches from my face. I tell her I'm extremely grateful she hasn’t ingested some explosive chow (a condition said to result from our heavy soy diet). Elnora is jammed on the other side of the pot; Crystal sits to my left, folded up like a pretzel.

I can reach the doorknob from my spot behind Desiree's butt, so I crack the door to glance at Elnora's TV on the top bunk. Disturbingly, I see large yellow let­ters and exclamation points on the screen: “TORNADO WARNING!!! TAKE COVER IN AN INTERIOR ROOM AND STAY THERE!!” I shut the door on the TV and squirm back into my dubious shelter below Desiree’s butt.

We hide out in the bathroom for two hours, emerging later and surviving the night with no damage to Decatur Prison, although there’s news of flooding, a collapsed house, and a gym that had a wall ripped off. Two torna­does touched down nearby but nothing worse than downed trees litter the byways.

In the morning, we resume our regular prison activi­ties only to find a storm has moved inside our razor wire fences. “A” Wing is on lockdown. Apparently, an anonymous inmate wrote a threatening letter to the War­den expressing anger at the supposed sexual frenzy rag­ing on the unit. A shakedown ensues lasting four days. According to, the IA finds scalding love let­ters, kites, contraband, and sculpted jolly rancher dildos made by some mysterious alchemical methods using a hot pot.

All hell breaks loose. Just like the Salem Witch Trials or the Red Scare, an accusing finger is more than enough to send someone to the dreaded segregation unit. Fear grips everyone, and, although I have done nothing wrong, the potential for getting caught in the crossfire is frightening. This is prison after all, where storms can cause serious injury. It's scary, and I can't escape this danger in the bathroom.

The prison walls are still intact as I dress for my day. I pull on my dark blue trousers and my state-issued white smock. My cheap knock-off Reeboks are clean and tidy. But as I lace my shoes, I find myself desperately trying to remember where I lost my ruby slippers.

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Warmest spiritual greetings, I wish you to know that I have faithfully assisted Jamie "Bork" Loughner, the injured-by-police iconic anarchist housing rights organizer in New Orleans for the past four months. It is time for me to move on to my next highest good. I have not received anything significant in terms of solidarity to go anywhere else and be active in regard to radical environmental/peace & justice activism/organizing/"writing down the bones" to be published opportunities. The participants in Washington D.C. continue to urge me to show up with sufficient money to maintain myself, and therefore I would be welcome to protest anything that I like.  Meanwhile, my California food stamps benefit was not extended for another year, possibly because the renewal forms that I sent in from NOLA did not arrive in time. I will need to contact the Humboldt County Social Services office in Eureka soon. Obviously, Bork and I need to continue eating food.  I am low on money. If any one could afford to get me back to California, that would be appreciated. And beyond this, I need a place to go to indoors, or a safe place out of doors. I have received one invitation to squat on a hillside in the Berkeley hills, and take rest in a trench. Is this what "a room with a view" means? Go ahead and telephone Bork and I at (504) 302-9951.  Lastly, I don't give a darn at all about the Silicon Valley high-tech digital economic factor, in regard to quality of life in the San Francisco bay area. As always, if I need to make a telephone call, I go to a coin operated pay telephone and put in two quarters and make my telephone call successfully. I do not own any digital equipment whatsoever, and do not plan on buying any. I wear a $22 Casio watch which keeps perfect time, which is the only digital gear that I really need.  Hey everybody, what's the problem? For those who identify with the Immortal Self (i.e. your true nature), please give me some solidarity soon! For everybody else, so what are you going to do to free yourselves from the quagmire of samsara that you live in, with all of your high-tech digital overpriced crap? OM Shanthi, Craig Louis Stehr

Craig Louis Stehr
Telephone messages: (504) 302-9951
Snail mail: 333 Socrates Street, New Orleans, LA 70114
Blog (maintained by Earth First!er Ron Huber):

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