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Off The Record (Apr 16, 2014)

ANOTHER MENDO COUNTY FIRST, this line from an obituary in Tuesday's Ukiah Daily Journal: "David enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren, listening to music and smoking doobies."

CORRECTION: In Off The Record of March 19 we incorrectly stated that County Clerk-Recorder Susan Ranochak “served as treasurer for the Move to Amend Coalition of Mendocino County.” We meant to say that Ms. Ranochak’s opponent for election as County Clerk, Robin Sunbeam, served as treasurer for the Move to Amend Coalition of Mendocino County and was a co-founder of that group. We regret the error.

THE OFFICE of National Marine Sanctuaries is proposing to double the size of two sanctuaries off the Sonoma-Marin coast, extending their northern boundary from Bodega Bay to Point Arena for a total protected area of 2,771 square miles. Expanding the sanctuaries “would connect key geographic components of the Point Arena upwelling system,” the draft environmental impact statement said. The upwelling system provide essential nutrients to sea life. The expansion is also a giant step towards any possible offshore oil development. Public hearings on the proposed rule and the environmental document are scheduled for Point Arena on June 16, Gualala on June 17 and Bodega Bay on June 18.

THE PALACE HOTEL saga just got dumber and more expensive for Ukiah taxpayers. Unhappy with the tortoise-like progress on the aged structure's rehab by owner Eladia Laines of San Rafael, Ukiah will petition the County's dependably compliant Superior Court to place the property in receivership, meaning another person will "take control of the property and undertake its rehabilitation." But Ms. Laines will remain the owner.

RECEIVERSHIP is kind of like removing authority from an incompetent family member. According to Ukiah City Attorney Rapport, who's driving the receivership bus, Laines could wind up with a rehabbed building that makes her money. And that would happen the same day pigs take flight. So the City plans to hire a receivership guy for $20,000 up front who makes economic magic happens. He, in theory, has access to the big money needed to bring the old hotel back to life, probably not as a hotel but as something that makes money in a gutted town whose economic life is now centered in big box stores and motels strung out along Highway 101 a mile east of downtown.

GOOD DECISION by the Supervisors to put off CEO Angelo's proposal to cut the County Museum's vacant curator position until budget hearings later this year. We hope the Supes will not knock out that long-vacant job when it comes up again. The two ancillary jobs could probably be whacked without negative affect on the Museum, whose collections are as scant as visitors. A fully qualified curator and an assistant could probably handle the work. But there is an existing historical trove at the Museum to be managed, and even here in Amnesia County where history starts all over again every day at dawn, and you are whoever you say you are, a number of County residents, most of them old timers, have in good faith donated their family archives on the assumption that history, even local history, matters. And it does. It seems from here that given the huge space the Willits-based Museum has, that it might be a good idea to house the County's entire archive in it, including Held-Poage (the only comprehensive repository of County history that we have), whatever the County Library has preserved, the archives of the County's newspapers, and the ancient legal records a-moulderin' in the County Courthouse basement. A professional curator might put it all together, or at least make the general public aware that we have a history in Mendocino County, and a right lively one it is, too.

ON-LINE COMMENT re the homeless: "One third are homeless for sad/bad reasons, such as loss of job, financial problems, sick child, etc. These folks work to NOT be homeless. They would flip burgers at any fast food place to dig out of their woes. One third of the homeless, he said, are truly mentally ill; closing the state hospitals was done by Reagan as governor without planning or programs for them to be in a community. And, he grinned, one third of them WANT to be homeless. The latter make it ugly to be homeless. They wouldn't take a job if it was offered. They know how to get free food, free clothes, free blankets, free sleeping bags… they don't care if free means occasional thefts. They have a lifestyle that is simple and choose to throw out material items because they neither worked nor paid for free stuff. So there. The duck pond and gardens off of old F ward at Napa State Hospital was a truly "less restrictive" environment than being cold, hungry and persecuted by personal demons, robbed, beaten, killed. Every patient had a clean bed, warm room, activities, nutritional meals and medicines that took away the devils in their heads. We won't spend money to help the mentally ill homeless."

WELL, SHUT MY MOUTH. I'd spotted the headline in this morning's Press Democrat, “Marijuana's thirst depleting North Coast watersheds,” a story by Glenda Anderson, and had just commented to The Major, “I'll bet Glenda doesn't mention the wine industry's illegal water diversions,” when darned if Glenda didn't mention a $33,800 fine to a Russian River Watershed grape grower last year, leaving out the name of the offender, which was Milovina, but a mention that pot growers aren't the only people drying up local streams. The rest of the story was also quite good and fact-based into the bargain. Among those facts, 24 North Coast salmon-bearing streams are assumed to have gone dry because of pot grower diversions and the number of plants being cultivated in our area is up every year. Based just on the number of plants uprooted by the cops, millions of gallons of water are sucked up annually by marijuana farmers; each mature plant requires between six and fifteen gallons a day.

THE ANNUAL POT RAIDS by multi-agency police teams seem to keep prices high enough to attract ever more producers, although we understand prices have dropped well below a thousand a pound and at least some producers are sitting on last year's bud for lack of buyers.


ALSO in the Sunday Press Democrat, an obituary for Hal Ling, whose daughter, Nancy Ling Perry, became infamous as a member of the murderous, crank-left guerrilla group, the Symbionese Liberation Army, kidnappers of Patty Hearst. Ling-Perry died in the group's nationally televised incineration by the LAPD. Ling's Furniture was a fixture on Santa Rosa's 4th Street for many years, and one can only imagine the heartache Mr. and Mrs. Ling suffered at their daughter's conversion to political pathology.

LOOKS LIKE the South Coast has voted to approve an increased parcel tax to keep Gualala's mini-hospital, the Coast Clinic, open on weekends. A two-thirds majority had to vote yes, and by golly with only a few votes not yet counted better than 69% did indeed say yes. Officially called the Coast Life Support District, the district runs from Irish Beach in Mendocino County to Fort Ross in Sonoma County. (I think we had the Mendo boundary at Elk, but stand corrected.)

I SAW a bad thing at the ballpark yesterday, the Saturday afternoon game between the Giants and the Rockies. Troy Tulowitzki, the great slugging shortstop, struck out swinging at a low fastball, but the Giant's catcher, Hector Sanchez, couldn't trap the pitch and it rolled, fairly slowly, all the way to the backstop as Sanchez hustled after it. Sanchez picked up the ball and looked to first base where he assumed he'd have to throw out Tulowitzki. But Tulowitzki hadn't moved off the plate. He'd simply stood there until the surprised-looking Sanchez walked up to him and tagged him out. Tulowitzki then took a long time removing his batting glove, and finally ambled on out to his shortstop job, which pays him $10 million this year. Even the most regal of stars on a swinging third strike lope off in a leisurely jog in the direction of first base. The real ballplayers, those who play the game right, guys like Hunter Pence, run down the line as fast as they can because they know anything can happen — a wild throw to first, an error on the throw by the first baseman, the catcher tripping over a bat… In this game, Denver only led by the run that they eventually won the game with, 1-0. Tulowitzki's little Me First show could, conceivably, have cost Denver the game. I almost said Tulo's egotism set a bad example, but children see so much bad behavior just walking to the ballpark, only the ones really into the game were likely to cry out, “Hey, Pop. I thought you were supposed to run to first on a passed ball third strike.” To us big kids Tulowitzki's little show means he makes so much money he's untouchable, the rules don't apply to him, that Denver's new manager, the former major leaguer Walt Weiss (who never dogged it) can't say anything to him, can't fine him, can't discipline him in any way. But Tulowitzki is a perfect metaphor for the times. People in the One Percent income bracket, whether in sports or the suites, are above the rules, above the game even.

Willis, Alvarez
Willis, Alvarez

THE KING AND QUEEN OF FREQUENT FLIERS. On March 27th at about 8:40am a Ukiah Police officer observed Scotty Willis and Kelisha Alvarez, both transients, walking on N. Orchard Ave. The officer was aware that each had warrants for their arrest due to violation of probation. Both were arrested without incident. They're always on probation for something. Usually, their majesties are arrested for fighting with each other, although there was an episode a couple of years ago where they went off in the waiting room of the Ukiah hospital's emergency room and wound up in hand-to-hand combat with staff. Scotty and Kelisha liked to watch tv at the hospital like it was their livingroom, and became very upset when they were finally disinvited. And a couple of times they've been carted off by ambulance when, to avoid arrest, they shouted, "I'm seizing!" as if they were in the throes, or about to be, of an epileptic attack. "I'm seizing!" has become a kind of "Shazaam!" the craftier street people have learned to invoke "Seizure!" to spare themselves arrest, or at least postpone it. At the mere mention of "Seizure!" the law says emergency services has to put everything aside and rush out of provide aid. Homeless and often drunk, fifty years ago, Scotty and Kelisha would have been pretty much confined to a state hospital. But now? A perpetual management prob for the cops and the ambulance people.


ANOTHER ONE. A couple of weeks ago, a Ukiah Police sergeant couldn't help but hear 54-year-old Michael Kevin Arnold, of Eugene, Oregon, yelling in the lobby of the police station. Arnold claimed that he had just been robbed while in front of the Forest Club Bar by 4 Hispanic males. He also said that he was a blood relative of the next king of England, Wyatt Earp, the current chief of police for the San Rafael Police Department, adding that he was also a veteran of both World Wars, and a member of the Hells Angels. Impressive as his pedigree is, he'd been banned from the Water Trough, which isn't easy and his story about being robbed was untrue. Arnold was booked into the County Jail for drunk in public. He's another guy who belongs in a hospital program.

THIS JUST IN: The real estate website called Estately has ranked the 50 largest cities in America from most “country” to least “country.” Confirming data comes from Facebook interest in 10 topics: country music, fishing, hunting, NASCAR, firearms, barbecue, cowboy boots, pickup trucks, rodeos, and sweet tea. Fort Worth came in as the most “country” city in America with San Antonio, Tulsa, and Oklahoma City not far behind. San Francisco, to its credit, was rated dead last.

A READER WRITES: "Just when I think I've seen it all here in The Wacky Wacky World of Mendocino County, now comes a meeting of the “postmenopausal women's lyme group.” I just saw this on the MCN announcement listserv for April 9: “Tonight is the meeting of the postmenopausal women's lyme group at 45180 Main St in Mendocino. 6 pm.” Really? Old biddies with Lyme Disease have their own group? Is there a difference between postmenopausal women with Lyme Disease and other people with Lyme Disease? What's next? Friends with Fibromyalgia? Lesbians with Lupus? Republicans with Rheumatoid Arthritis? Sissy Boys with Sjögren's Syndrome? God, I love Mendocino County!”

AREN'T A NUMBER of things obvious about the Ukraine situation? Such as: the Russians have a greater interest in preventing chaos there than the US has in any provisional disposition of the Ukrainian border and the composition of its government. Such as: for most of the 20th century Ukraine was essentially a Russian province, and at various times before that the ward of several other eastern European kingdoms. Such as: Russia has a huge investment in gas pipeline infrastructure in Ukraine upon which depends a substantial portion of its national income, not to mention the winter-time comfort of most of the countries in western Europe. Hence my plea: will parties in the USA (including Obama camp “progressives”) stop cheerleading for a showdown over this hapless doormat of a faraway nation whose destiny is not entwined with the people of Ohio, Nebraska, Rhode Island, or any of the other fifty states? We have enough to do in our own country to adjust to the new realities of the unraveling turbo-industrial global economy — and, by the way, we are not doing a damn thing to address any of it. Our domestic political conversation at all levels is juvenile and idiotic. I’d rather see US troops shut down WalMart, which has been way more destructive to the US economy (and the livelihoods of our people) than the bandits in any central Asian rat-hole. I’d rather see the US spend its dwindling capital restoring our passenger railroads than paying off the debts of strangers half a world away. —James Kunstler


JUDGE BEHNKE refused last Thursday to move the murder trial of Kenneth Wilkinson, 24, out of Mendocino County. The judge rightly pointed out that there hadn't been much pre-trial publicity other than recitations of the horrifying known facts. Wilkinson, of Willits, and obviously of diminished capacity further diminished by drugs and alcohol, was briefly left in charge of his grandfather. Gramps, 84, was later found dead at the foot of an embankment where Wilkinson had apparently dragged the old guy behind his pick-up and threw him over the side. Jury selection began Monday. Paul Sequiera is the prosecutor, Linda Thompson is Wilkinson's public defender.  (Thompson doesn't talk to our reporter but, sniffle-snuff, we soldier on.) She will try to convince the jury that Wilkinson thought grandpa was already dead which, of course, begs all kinds of obvious questions, beginning with, “If you thought he was dead, why drag him anywhere, let alone six miles up into the hills before you threw him away?” This thing shouldn't be going to a jury. The defendant obviously doesn't have even half his marbles.

AND IT DIDN'T go to a jury. Wilkinson, 24, has admitted killing his 84-year-old grandfather, Richard “Mel” Wilkinson, in March of 2012 by dragging the old man behind a pickup truck for approximately six miles along a winding mountain road before dumping the body off a hill into a ravine. Assistant District Attorney Paul Sequeira dropped the special circumstance of torture charged in the case. Had the special circumstance been found true by a jury, along with a guilty verdict for murder in the first degree, Wilkinson would have received a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Public Defender Linda Thompson had contended that Wilkinson believed his grandfather was already dead when he tied him to the back of the truck so the torture circumstance could not be proven.

SEQUIERA said the last-minute plea change was unexpected. “There is nothing new here from the prosecution perspective. The DA’s office has taken the same position for more than a year. We believed this was a case of premeditation and deliberation so we wanted a plea to first degree murder.  We were prepared to present the evidence to a jury and let a jury decide absent a first degree murder guilty plea." Sequeira said he had no doubt a jury would have returned a first degree murder conviction, but he said he was less certain about the torture allegation. “That may have been difficult for a jury because of the intent and wording special to that enhancement,” said Sequeira. As it is, Sequeira said, prosecutors succeeded in getting the first degree murder conviction that they had always sought and had discussed with the victim’s family. Public Defender Thompson until now had resisted the first degree plea, contending that Wilkinson was impaired by drugs and suffered mental issues at the time of the grandfather’s killing.

WILKINSON'S formal sentencing by Judge Behnke is scheduled for May 9. Although the matter has now been referred to the Adult Probation Department for a report and recommendation, the only sentencing choice will be a state prison commitment of 25 years to life.

COLIN KAEPERNICK. SIGH. Not to be tooooooo judgmental, but you put a bunch of pro football players, or any other young men, in a hotel room with dope, booze and high end floozies, something bad isn't necessarily going to happen but chances are pretty good at some point law enforcement will be at the door. In this episode, one of the ladies with Kaep and the boys says she woke up in the hospital with the last thing she remembered being a boff with Kaep, then two other mopes throwing lascivious eyeballs at her. If it's a typical off-season NFL episode, there'll be a gun somewhere. Kaep immediately denounced media coverage of whatever it was as unfounded.

I'M STILL WAITING for the definitive word on who called that last play against the Seahawks. Two years in a row the Niner season has ended with play calling that defies reason.

KAEPERNICK doesn't seem to be the smartest guy in the world, but then this whole dumbass gangsta style is way beyond this kid's understanding. You just hope young guys are strong enough to resist it, and here's hoping 49er management demands that Kaep take it up a wholesome notch or two.

ACCORDING TO A MIAMI POLICE INCIDENT REPORT, the woman said that at about 9pm on April 1 she visited Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Ricardo Lockette, 27, at an apartment within the Viceroy, a luxury hotel that has guest rooms, suites and residences in downtown Miami. She said Kaepernick and 49ers wide receiver Quinton Patton, 23, were also there, and that she had been in a “sexual relationship with Mr. Kaepernick in the past,” the report states. The woman, according to the report, mixed some drinks for the men and gave them shots. The woman “advised that they told her that in order to drink the shots she had to 'hit' the bong which contained marijuana,” the report states. The group then sat down to watch a basketball game, but the woman reported that she felt “light-headed,” went to a bedroom to lie down and took off her jacket and jewelry. The woman told police that Kaepernick came into the bedroom, kissing her and undressing her before leaving, telling her he would be right back. The woman “advised that she was in bed naked and Mr. Patton and Mr. Lockette opened the door and 'peeked' inside,” the report states. “She told them, 'What are you doing? Where is Colin? Get out!' They closed the door and left. She cannot remember anything after that." The police report says the woman woke up in a hospital bed in the middle of the night and “doesn't remember how she got there or who transported her to the hospital.”

THIS STATEMENT from the quarterback: “The charges made in the TMZ story and other stories I’ve seen are completely wrong,” Kaepernick said. “They make things up about me that never happened. I take great pride in who I am and what I do, but I guess sometimes you have to deal with someone who makes things up. I want to thank all of the people who have shared their encouraging sentiments. I assure you that your faith is not misplaced.”

THE LAST TWO SENTENCES are obviously the work of some Niner-related public relations firm. "Encouraging sentiments?" And "I assure you that your faith is not misplaced." Sounds more like Jane Austen than a pro football player.

ANOTHER NINER DISASTER: Niners linebacker Aldon Smith was arrested Sunday at Los Angeles International Airport after claiming he had a bomb during a security screening, airport police said. Smith, 24, made the threat after he was randomly selected for a second screening at about 2pm as he went through the Transportation Security Agency checkpoint for Terminal 1. “The suspect then became belligerent and uncooperative with the process and with the TSA agent, making a comment indicating that he was in possession of a bomb before proceeding toward the gate area,” Sgt. Karla Ortiz said. Smith was then booked for felony false report of a bomb threat. The arrest was the latest in a string of arrests for Smith, including the most recent on September 20th on a charge of driving under the influence. He was also arrested for drunk driving in January 2012.

BACK IN FEBRUARY, a Lake County crime occurred that was so low it got national media attention. A pair of tweakers burglarized the home of a retired Lower Lake teacher, Naomi Richmond, as she followed an ambulance carrying her dying husband to the hospital. The two buzzards had apparently been perched nearby when the late Mr. Richmond was hauled off.

Mullen, Hopper
Mullen, Hopper

PATRICK WILLIAM MULLEN, 50, and Randy Hopper, 26, both of Lower Lake, have since been charged with the crime. Mrs. Richmond's affecting FaceBook message at the time of the robbery had drawn national attention: " … Thank you to whomever it was that was so thoughtful that they found it necessary to kick in my front door and rob my house when I left to follow the ambulance to the hospital when my husband David died last night. You have saved me from having to come home and look at David’s laptop and his guns, his prescriptions, all my jewelry, which included the ring that David’s mom gave me right before she died. But, most of all thank you so very, very much for taking David’s pillowcase off of his pillow. I know you needed it to carry the drawers from my jewelry box so you wouldn’t drop them and damage them. With that single act of kindness displayed by you, you saved me from ever having to lie in our bed and be able to still smell David’s scent while I slept. So, thank you so much for thinking of me and removing the things from my house that you knew would remind me of him in my period of grief. Sincerely, Mrs. David Richmond (Naomi)." Mrs. Richmond followed up with this when she learned of the arrest of the two ghouls: "It saddens me to realize how very desperate you must have been to commit such a despicable act,” she wrote. “I thought I’d let you know that I have forgiven you. I’m afraid though, that your fellow inmates won’t be as accepting of your behavior as I have been. I wish you luck in your future career as prison inmates. I fear you may need it.”

HIGH PROFILE and as lowdown as this one was, these guys are unlikely to get state prison time, and even if they did they'd be lost in the deluge of similar offenders. This kind of crime typically results in County time even for habitual thieves because the state is under federal court order to reduce the state prison population.

ALL OF THE ABOVE result in stories like the recent Chron one called, "New push in state to carry guns openly." The basic perception of the gun people is that things have veered so far out of control that the whole country's gotta go Wild West in self-defense. Gangs of diabetics striding around with guns on their jello hips isn't likely to add much to public safety, but the idea of it does seem to reassure lots of fraidy cats.

COUNTY CEO CARMEL ANGELO'S recent "performance evaluation" by the Supervisors prompted a fast round of rumor mongering that she is about to be sacked. Not true. The Supes are happy with her, and happy that they have someone in the job who at least appears to know what she's doing. Given that the County is broke, Angelo and the Supervisors have adopted a simple fiscal strategy — don't fill vacant positions, freeze wages. You really don't need a CEO to do that, and the policy breaks down whenever the Supervisors pay top dollar to some consultant to do work the County Counsel's office ought to be able to do.

TO COOL OUT the rumors, Board Chair Pinches issued a press release that concluded, "I am mystified how a normal performance review can be twisted into an unsubstantiated rumor. Carmel Angelo has a strong record of accomplishment for Mendocino County over the last four years and I hope she will continue in her present position for years to come."


Here in this spring, stars float along the void;

Here in this ornamental winter

Down pelts the naked weather;

This summer buries a spring bird.

Symbols are selected from the years'

Slow rounding of four seasons' coasts,

In autumn teach three seasons' fires

And four birds' notes.

I should tell summer from the trees, the worms

Tell, if at all, the winter's storms

Or the funeral of the sun;

I should learn spring by the cuckooing,

And the slug should teach me destruction.

A worm tells summer better than the clock,

The slug's a living calendar of days;

What shall it tell me if a timeless insect

Says the world wears away?

—Dylan Thomas

CONTRADICTORY HEADLINE in this week's Fort Bragg Advocate: “No formal charges have been filed by the Mendocino County District Attorney's office against members of the Love In It medical marijuana cooperative that was raided March 4.”

THAT'S BECAUSE THE DA hasn't yet filed charges. A major Mendo dope op is unlikely to get away without, at a minimum, a major fine. The local cops already have more than $60,000 in cash they confiscated in that raid plus a military assault rifle, the latter an indication that Love-In-It isn't above a little ultra-vi if their cash or product is threatened.

SHERRY GLASER, Love-In-It’s den mother, is a committed exhibitionist best known for baring her breasts at little to no provocation to make unsupported (sic) political points. Ukiah can expect lots of frontal nudity on the steps of the County Courthouse as this one clamors into court. Ms. Glaser, natch, claims she is the victim.

WEDNESDAY afternoon, at about 4:15, I stumbled into a fast and furious production of Wild Kingdom with me as Marlin Perkins. Suddenly, all around me, three large animals were fighting. Two coyotes were seriously attacking a dog. Since it had instantly become a flurry with me at its center, catching me even more unawares than I usually am, I instinctively went into Marine Corps pugil-stick mode, brandishing my handcrafted (from Navarro madrone) Kustom Kalantarian Kudgel and inanely shouting, “Hey! Hey! Hey!” As I waved my walking stick at the mêlée, I had a crazy thought that I soon regretted. “I wondered if Ricky Owens' Boonville pit bull could handle these two coyotes?” And, more worrying, was I spiritually descended from the Gold Rush barbarians who paid to watch grizzly bears fight mountain lions?

THE TWO COYOTES were a little bit larger than the dog, and a lot quicker. They seemed to simultaneously keep an eye on me as they dove at the brown and white dog and kept up their coordinated assault on the dog. The two coyotes seemed a lot larger, although the experts say coyotes don't get much over 50 pounds. If I didn't know better, I'd have thought they were wolves.

THE DOG fought a purely defensive fight as he skittered away up the hill towards his owner, a crone-like woman of advanced age. She looked on, spectator-like, with her leash in hand. She was about 40 yards from the fight that would have consumed her pet if he'd hadn't gotten away as quickly as he did.

THE COYOTES did not pursue the dog as it ran uphill to its owner, but instead lay down and took up a watchful position on the golf course side of the service road that begins at the north end of Mountain Lake. I could see them from the top of the hill where the crone and I stood chatting. “I don't think I'll come back this way,” the crone said, snapping her leash back on her dog. I saw her the very next afternoon in the same general area. Her dog was leashed, as it and all the rest of the coyote's decadent canine descendants are supposed to be leashed in San Francisco's public parks.

FRISCO coyotes fear no man. They're better adapted to the urban milieu than most of us are. Of necessity, we move through the fraught city environment with our senses on full alert. Coyotes attack only when they or their young are in danger. Us humans, as America goes medieval, are subject to round-the-clock peril.

I OFTEN SEE coyotes in my city neighborhood on the edge of the park-like Presidio where there's plenty of convenient cover for these beguiling creatures, and I, for one, am happy they're there. But I wonder how quickly they'll multiply and graduate into full menace status, a menace to dog owners anyway. The Dog People are San Francisco's largest and most militant political bloc. No officeholder messes with them. And lots of them are already demanding that the coyotes be killed.

THE TWO COYOTES I distracted Wednesday with my silly flailings of my walking stick, were large and healthy, and since coyotes mate for life, I assume they were husband and wife with a den of little ones nearby. That dog must have strayed too close to the family home.

THERE are now coyotes all over San Francisco. Accounts of them, along with worried letters-to-the-editor about their potential danger to people and pets, are regularly featured in the San Francisco Chronicle. I often see coyotes as I walk through the Presidio where the Presidio meets the Pacific not far from the Frisco end of the Golden Gate Bridge. I usually see them in the early morning hours but lately also in the afternoons. A couple of weeks ago I saw one nonchalantly trotting across the back nine of the Presidio golf course maybe 30 yards from a party of duffers. The golfers barely glanced at the magnificent wild creature nearby because, I'm sure, they too see coyotes on or near the course all the time.

I'VE LIVED in Mendocino County for 45 years. In all those years and many hundreds of foot miles in the hills, I've seen maybe four coyotes, three of them for nothing more than glimpses. One, however, once engaged me in a thrilling stare-down from one end of a big drainpipe on the north side of the Boonville cemetery. I was at the other end of the pipe. That went on for minutes until I finally walked off into the wilderness of Anderson Creek. (Mendocino County can be dramatically wild just off the pavement.) That coyote, I was sure, was laughing at me, as well he might, but he was definitely messing with me, and I came away from that experience with a fresh understanding of the ancient reverence Indians hold for the coyote, which can seem like a fully sentient being and perhaps is.

THE HEADLINE ASKS: “Are Americans having small dogs instead of babies?” Evidently. No confirmation from the obstetrics units but, anecdotally, I see an awful lot of people with dogs of all sizes. The ones I enjoy most are those driven young people who present the whole contempo-package — babies, dogs, strollers, headphones, and handheld gizmos they consult as they jog!

THE OBAMAS have paid $98,169 in taxes on their $481,098 income for the 2013 fiscal year. The rightwing doesn't think it's enough. I don't either, but it's a pretty good whack, and a much larger percentage than lots of big income earners pay as they take phony deductions and, wrapping themselves in the flag, hide their money overseas.


Nothing is so beautiful as spring —

When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;

Thrush's eggs look little low heavens, and thrush

Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring

The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;

The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush

The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush

With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.
What is all this juice and all this joy?

A strain of the earth's sweet being in the beginning

In Eden garden. — Have, get, before it cloy,

Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,

Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,

Most, O maid's child, thy choice

and worthy the winning.

— Gerald Manley Hopkins

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