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Mendocino County Today: Saturday, August 23, 2014

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by Mark Scaramella

According to the semi-authoritative Wikipedia: “A conflict of interest is a situation [our emphasis] occurring when an individual or organization is involved in multiple interests, one of which could possibly corrupt the motivation. The presence of a conflict of interest is independent of the occurrence of impropriety. Therefore, a conflict of interest can be discovered and voluntarily defused before any corruption occurs. A widely used definition is: ‘A conflict of interest is a set of circumstances that creates a risk that professional judgment or actions regarding a primary interest will be unduly influenced by a secondary interest.’ ‘Primary interest’ refers to the principal goals of the profession or activity, such as the protection of clients, the health of patients, the integrity of research, and the duties of public office. ‘Secondary interest’ includes not only financial gain but also such motives as the desire for professional advancement and the wish to do favors for family and friends, but conflict of interest rules usually focus on financial relationships because they are relatively more objective, fungible, and quantifiable. The secondary interests are not treated as wrong in themselves, but become objectionable when they are believed to have greater weight than the primary interests. The conflict [emphasis in original] in a conflict of interest exists whether or not a particular individual is actually influenced by the secondary interest. It exists if the circumstances are reasonably believed (on the basis of past experience and objective evidence) to create a risk [our emphasis] that decisions may be [our emphasis] unduly influenced by secondary interests. There often is confusion over these two situations. Someone accused of a conflict of interest may deny that a conflict exists because he/she did not act improperly. In fact, a conflict of interest can exist even if there are no improper acts [our emphasis] as a result of it.”

There are other definitions of “Conflict of Interest” and the looser term “appearance of a conflict of interest,” although it’s really a distinction without a difference:

• “The appearance of a conflict of interest is present if there is a potential for the personal interests of an individual to clash with fiduciary duties."

• The US Office of Government Ethics: ( says, “An appearance of a conflict is present if a reasonable member of the public would believe [our emphasis] that the employee benefitted from access to official information or otherwise from his official position.”

• A conflict of interest is “a situation that has the potential [our emphasis] to undermine the impartiality of a person because of the possibility of a clash between the person's self-interest and professional interest or public interest.”

• “n. a situation [our emphasis] in which a person has a duty to more than one person or organization, but cannot do justice to the actual or potentially adverse interests of both parties.”

• “A conflict of interest may be defined as an interest that might affect, or might reasonably appear likely to affect [our emphasis], the judgment or conduct of an individual associated with the organization.”

• “A conflict of interest exists when two or more contradictory interests relate to an activity by an individual or an institution. The conflict lies in the situation [our emphasis], not in any behavior or lack of behavior of the individual. That means that a conflict of interest is not intrinsically a bad thing.”

• A conflict of interest is “a real or apparent conflict between one's professional or official duties and one's private interests.”

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On June 9, 2014 the Mendocino County Grand Jury issued a report titled “An Appearance Of A Conflict Of Interest In The Adoption Of The Mental Health Privatization Contract.”

In the Grand Jury’s Summary the Grand Jury concluded, “The complainants alleged that Ortner Management Group was given unfair advantage by the active presence of the consultant and the Mental Health Director during the preparation and scoring of the Request for Proposal. The complainants also alleged that the release of the Request for Proposal was delayed until Ortner Management Group had completed drafting its response.

"There is an appearance of impropriety in the process of bidding and awarding the contract to Ortner Management Group because of the previous relationship of the Mental Health Director with Ortner Management Group. There is no evidence that impropriety occurred.

“The Director of H&HS [Stacy Cryer] contracted an employee of Ortner Management Group (Ortner) [Tom Pinizzotto] as a consultant in February 2011. The consultant [Pinizzotto] monitored patient records for quality assurance and compliance with State requirements. The consultant [Pinizzotto] worked approximately 27 hours between Dec 2011 and March 2012.

“Complainants stated concerns about the presence of an Ortner employee [Pinizzotto] as a consultant and a former Ortner employee [Pinizzotto] in a management position at H&HS. These concerns are:

• “This resulted in the postponement of the privatization bid offering.

• “The perception Ortner had an unfair advantage in the bid process. North Valley Behavioral Health, LLC, (NVBH) is a wholly owned and operated subsidiary of Ortner and/or its officers and management, providing psychiatric facilities and associated services. Two individuals, one employed by Ortner, one acting as an administrator of a NVBH facility [Pinizzotto], specifically North Valley Behavioral Health-Fairfield (NVBH-Fairfield), were hired separately as consultants to H&HS between 2010 through 2012. This was the time period for the writing of the RFP requesting bids for mental health services. The administrator for the NVBH-Fairfield facilities [Pinizzotto] later became the Director of Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS).

The Grand Jury concluded, “There is an appearance of impropriety in the process of bidding and awarding the contract to Ortner Management Group because of the previous relationship of the Mental Health Director with Ortner Management Group. There is no evidence that impropriety occurred.”

The Grand Jury also made a series of “findings” (itemized below).

On Friday the County posted a draft response to the Grand Jury report prepared by Interim County Counsel Doug Losak. The most interesting aspect of Losak’s draft response is how he carefully avoids the Grand Jury’s summary and their conclusion that there was “an appearance of impropriety,” choosing instead to narrowly parse the Grand Jury’s wording in the individual findings — effectively avoiding the core complaint that Tom Pinizzotto had an obvious conflict of interest stemming from his former employment at the company that ended up with the contract, because, as the federal Health and Human Services Agency — after which the County’s Health and Human Services Agency is loosely modeled — says, “the conflict lies in the situation, not in any behavior or lack of behavior of the individual.”

Since the conflict is obvious to any ordinary person looking at the “situation,” Losak simply avoided the question by answering the individual findings:

Grand Jury: “F1. NVBH and Ortner are clearly linked in both business and professional matters.”

Losak: “The Board of Supervisors disagrees in part with this finding with clarification. Ortner Management Group (OMG) is the Administrative Services Organization for Mendocino County for Mental Health Services. North Valley Behavioral Health Services (NVBH) is a subcontractor of OMG.”

Grand Jury: “F2. As administrator of NVBH-Fairfield, the BHRS Director [Pinizzotto] had a business and financial relationship with Ortner through NVBH-Fairfield immediately prior to coming to work for the County.

Losak: “The Board of Supervisors disagrees in part with this finding with clarification. The Behavioral Health and Recovery Services director worked for OMG between 2008 and 2010. In September 2010 he was hired by Mendocino County as a consultant for Mental Health Services on an independent contractor basis. He was hired as the BHRS Director on April 16, 2012.”

Grand Jury: “F3. The Grand Jury perceived a possible conflict of interest in the selection of Ortner for the privatization contract for adult mental health services.”

Losak: “The Board of Supervisors disagrees wholly with his finding. The Grand Jury's 'perception' is not a finding. If this finding was meant to assert that there was a conflict of interest in the selection of OMG to provide mental health services for the county, the Board of Supervisors wholly disagrees. There has been no evidence brought forward that establishes that there was any conflict of interest by anyone involved in awarding the contract to OMG.”

Grand Jury: “F4. There was a lack of transparency to the public regarding the timelines and the changing work relationships between the consultants and the management of H&HS.”

Losak: “The Board of Supervisors disagrees wholly with this finding. To begin with, it is unclear what the Grand Jury means by ‘regarding the timelines and the changing work relationships between the consultants and management of H&HS.’ However, whether the comment refers to the employment history of the current BHRS Director, his relationship with H&HS management, or the process for obtaining and awarding proposals for mental health services, in every instance, contracts were awarded and relationships established based on an open process available for anybody to review.”

Grand Jury: “F5. There was a lack of transparency to the public as to the legal relationship and responsibilities of the concerned parties during the changing work relationships.”

Losak: “The Board of Supervisors disagrees wholly with this finding. It is unclear what the Grand Jury means ‘as to the legal relationship and responsibilities of the concerned parties during the changing work relationships.’ However, whether the comment refers to the relationships and responsibilities of the current BHRS Director, H&HS management, or the contractor for adult mental health services, the specific duties and responsibilities are a matter of public record with substantial information available online including the contract for adult mental health services.”

Grand Jury: “F6. The Grand Jury noted that when timelines and contractual relationships were reviewed, there did not appear to be any illegal activities by the individuals involved in the selection of Ortner.”

Losak: (No response)

Grand Jury: “F7. Given the response published by the County in the Request for Proposal Addendum No. 1, the Grand Jury finds the County guidelines are insufficient to address perceptions of undue influence.”

Losak: “The Board of Supervisors disagrees wholly with this finding. Addendum No 1, referenced above, simply requires county employees to disclose their names if they were part of an organization/group meeting on the contract in question. The guidelines are clear that county employees must fully disclose their employment with the county when bidding on a contract.”

Grand Jury: “F8. It is not entirely clear to the Grand Jury whether or not there was undue influence in the selection process.”

Losak: "The Board of Supervisors wholly disagrees with his finding. To begin with, the lack of clarity on the part of the Grand Jury is not a finding. In addition, the Board of Supervisors believes there was no undue influence in the process for awarding the mental health contract in question. The County took all reasonable measures to ensure the selection process was transparent and void of undue influences. The Grand Jury has provided no documentation to the contrary."

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Was there “an appearance of a conflict of interest” as the Grand Jury title says? Of course. The Grand Jury makes a slam-dunk case that there was. And Losak makes no attempt to deny it. Was there an actual conflict of interest? Yes, according to the very reasonable definition of the federal HHS that the situation is what created the conflict. Was there “an appearance of impropriety in the process of bidding and awarding the contract to Ortner Management Group”? Again, of course there was an appearance, and again, Losak makes no attempt to deny it.

The Grand Jury was unable to uncover a smoking gun document that proved Pinizzotto overtly steered the contract to his former employer. Even Pinizzotto’s most vocal critics have never accused him of being dumb enough to leave a paper trail showing that he was doing a favor for his old boss or that he profited by it in some way. But Pinizzotto’s connections to Ortner are not disputed and Ortner ended up with the lucrative contract. Would a reasonable person conclude that Ortner’s award was pure coincidence?

If the Board of Supervisors accepts Mr. Losak’s evasive draft response as their own on Tuesday, they’ll be officially sanctioning conflicts of interest in Mendocino County contracting.

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IN OTHER GRAND JURY NEWS, Mendocino County School Superintendent Paul Tichinin recently responded to the Grand Jury’s complaint that he and his Talmage organization are not going a very good job.

Here’s the Grand Jury’s report from June 2, 2014:

And here’s Tichinin’s response:

READ FOR YOURSELF, but Tichinin, Mendocino County's superintendent of schools, basically says funding cuts and “misperceptions” by the Grand Jury account for the GJ's criticism of his agency. One notes that funding cuts never prompted the superintendent to cut his own lavish pay.

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FERGUSON REAL, Ferguson as metaphor represents everything wrong and hopeless about our country, much of which could at least be partially rectified by a real attack on social injustice. Just for openers a federal jobs program financed by a big tax on the big fortunes, but does anyone out there even expect a whisper about that as the Demo-Publicans gear up for their anointment ceremonies?

MENDOCINO COUNTY is a good example of the entropy infecting the country. We have a bunch of securely middleclass people drawing nice salaries who won't even discuss getting a hundred drunks and crazy people safely off the streets. And in the scheme of things — rolling ecological catastrophes and a ponzi-perfect national economy — a handful of sick people living on the streets of an outback county would logically seem solvable.

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OUTSIDE AGITATORS. Been years since I heard that phrase which, in the 1960s, became a kind of running joke among outside agitators because it assumed that if it weren't for the damned outsiders there wouldn't be any demonstrations for whatever the legitimate grievance was. The outside agitators in the Bay Area were all homegrown and the grievances didn't need anybody from outside to point them out.

BUT IT SEEMS Ferguson, Mo. actually has seen a few outside agitators, young guys from distant cities, including Oakland, who get going after midnight when the good people have packed up their justified anger and gone home. In this country, if you have a mostly white police force policing a mostly black community there's going to be lots of trouble. Factor in the American oligarchy raking in more and more of the country's wealth and an unraveling social safety net, and it's surprising that there aren't more shootings and general mayhem.

MY DEMO DAYS were confined to Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco. They began with civil rights protests and segued into events mostly related to stopping the war on Vietnam. They were peaceful except for a few people who showed up to fight the cops who, in those days, didn't even bother to fake restraint. The cops that is. They charged the crowd and whacked whomever they could, regardless of race, gender or relative decrepitude. If they bothered to arrest you after beating the lib-lab out of you, you got punched around again at some point in the arrest process. The all-time police riot was in Chicago, 1968. Police violence always seemed to surprise a lot of demo-people not fully aware of how their native land worked at the street level.

THEN, AS NOW IN FERGUSON, the protests, led by earnest, non-violent persons who had no intention of doing anything illegal, would be confronted by a two or three-deep skirmish line of armored cops. The cops have their game suits on, as padded and helmeted as a football team. At some point someone, from deep among the demonstrators, throws a bottle, the cops, on the pretext of arresting the bottle thrower, run into the crowd and the mêlée that most people don't want is on because the cops beat people at random and some people fight back. In the late 60s early 70s, one or two cops would chase a thousand demonstrators down the street, and on it would go, cat and mouse, until everyone got tired and went home. I hauled ignominious ass a bunch in those days.

LATTER DAY demos in Oakland and now in Ferguson, draw a number of young guys, almost all white, who show up to fight the police, break windows, maybe burn a cop car. Some of them say they are Black Bloc anarchists who, like the anarchists of yesteryear, say they're aimed at bringing down capitalism as the basis for economic-social organization. But unlike the old anarchists who went after front-line capitalists directly by shooting them or trying to blow them up, the neo-anarchists don't accomplish anything other than pissing off almost everyone, especially the people whose neighborhoods and small-time businesses they wreck. As a violent, gun-owning American myself — it comes with citizenship — I'm here to say that violent protests don't work anymore as a political tactic. The forces arrayed against us are too many and too great. If we ever get real change in this country it will be gotten by millions of people simply refusing to cooperate.

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UP HERE IN AMNESIA COUNTY where history starts all over every day and everyone is whatever he or she says he or she is, the only time police have turned out in force at a demonstration was in 1990 for the Redwood Summer event in Fort Bragg, and the cops were out for that one to hold back a small mob of tweekers, drunks and random unemployables from attacking the demonstrators. I remember being called a “hippie motherfucker” by a young guy I'd coached in Little League. I yelled back, “Hey, it's me, Coachie-Woachie from Boonville, you fucking ingrate.” Already deep in ultra-vi, mob action, psycho-mode, the guy went on screaming.

THAT DEMO was particularly memorable because a Fort Bragg logger and locally famed bar fighter got up on the platform truck and told the howlers that the demonstrators were correct, that the outside timber corporations were mopping up a decade of cut and run clearcuts and the trees and the jobs that went with the trees were gone. That one presentation by Duane Potter shut the mob up, and a quarter-century later the Koch Bros own 400 oceanview acres in central Fort Bragg, right where the big mill and all those good-paying jobs used to be.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, Augut 22, 2014

Bettencourt, Corcoran, Dillon, Facey, Heid, Lovelady
Bettencourt, Corcoran, Dillon, Facey, Heid, Lovelady

CURTIS BETTENCOURT, Ukiah. Drunk in public, possession of drug paraphernalia, failure to appear.

THEO CORCORAN, Talmage. Receiving stolen property, under the influence of a controlled substance.

AMBER DILLON, Ukiah. Burglary, check forgery, use of someone’s ID without permission, probation revocation.

KIRK FACEY, Fort Bragg. Possession of meth, resisting arrest. (Frequent flyer.)

KAREN HEID, Albion. Petty theft with prior/other/retail; embezzlement.

JAMES LOVELADY, Yuba City (in Fort Bragg). Burglary of store.

Powell, Price, Reynaga, Ryken, Shank, Taylor, Treppa
Powell, Price, Reynaga, Ryken, Shank, Taylor, Treppa

RONALD POWELL, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

JOEL PRICE, Ukiah, DUI-Bicycle, misdemeanor hit & run, resisting arrest, assaulting a police officer.

PEDRO REYNAGA, Ukiah. Drunk in public, probation revocation.

WILLIAM RYKEN JR., Clearlake Oaks. Probation revocation.

JOSHUA SHANK, Ukiah. Domestic battery.

JAMIE TAYLOR, Ukiah. Possession of meth/paraphernalia, under influence of controlled substance, probation revocation.

LANCE TREPPA, Ukiah. Failure to register, false ID, probation revocation.

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THE FOLLOWING HUMCO PRESS RELEASE, posted at Lost Coast on Friday, is a perfect illustration of why these comprehensively destructive guerrilla grows are so prevalent. Given the total negative impact, in a drought year no less, of this operation, the perp's bail is set at a mere $25,000. The four guys who were not arrested, you can be sure, are Mexican workers driven to the site from Sonoma County. And the Sheriff's claim that they could be arrested “later” is silly. They won't be. Mr. Big is probably already back at his grow, growing.

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Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office press release:

On 08-21-2014, at approximately 9:00 a.m., the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, with the assistance of the Humboldt County Drug Task Force, Cal-Fire Law Enforcement and a California Fish and Wildlife Biologist and Game Warden served Humboldt County Superior Court search warrants in the 40000 block of Mattole Road, Honeydew, California.

When the deputies arrived at the first search warrant location they located 24 greenhouses on an approximate one acre flat area containing 4,935 growing marijuana plants that ranged in size from 6” to 4’ tall, along with a barn and a residence. In the barn deputies located a dormant indoor marijuana growing operation and approximately one pound of marijuana bud. In the residence the deputies located a cash counter and packaging materials for marijuana.


They located five men on the property when they arrived to serve the search warrant. Four were determined to have arrived in the last five days and the fifth was identified as Jason Dewayne Fleming, 42 years old, from Sebastopol, California. The deputies learned from the four men they had been hired by Fleming to work on the marijuana grow for $20 per hour.

Deputies searched a truck on the property that belonged to Fleming and located approximately $23,000 in cash.

Deputies, Cal-Fire Law Enforcement and California Fish and Wildlife Biologist and Game Warden also witness significant environmental damage to the property, including Douglas Fir Trees and Tan Oak up to two feet in diameter being harvested. Fleming was interviewed and told the Cal-Fire Officer he did not possess any permits for timberland conversion or water drafting from the nearby creek. The Cal-Fire Officer, Deputies and Fish and Wildlife Biologist saw where Fleming had illegally constructed roads that were in poor condition and had placed a pump in a stream to draft water for the marijuana plants. The water pump was in Sanders Creek, which is known to harbor state and federally listed Salmon and Steelhead. The four workers told the deputies the pump runs twenty four hours a day to water the marijuana plants and the stream was dry below the pump. There was a fine dust powder of over 6 feet deep on the road led to the pump, which will wash into the fish bearing creeks and water courses that Salmon and Steelhead utilize when winter rains arrive.

Deputies arrested Fleming for cultivation and possession for sale of marijuana, California Fish and Wildlife Code Violations for altering a streambed, public resource code violations of illegal timber harvesting, misuse of timberlands and conducting a timber operation without a permit. He was transported to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility and booked; his bail was set at $25,000. The other four men were identified and released at the scene. Charges could be filed against them at a later date.

The deputies, Humboldt County Drug Task Force Agents and California Fish and Wildlife Game Warden and Biologist then drove to a second search warrant location in the 42000 block of Mattole Road, Honeydew. At that location two suspects fled the scene on foot into the woods when officers approached; two adults remained at the scene and were detained.


Deputies searched the property and residence. They located an outdoor marijuana grow with 556 growing marijuana plants. The plants were 3’ to 9’ tall and weighed from 25 to 35 pounds. Deputies estimated the plants could easily yield one pound to three pounds of marijuana bud each. Deputies located a AK-47 assault weapon, two semi-automatic handguns and a pistol in the residence. The two suspects who were detained told the deputies they owned a hotel in Hawaii, and property in San Diego where they also live. They told the deputies they thought it was legal to grow 99 marijuana plants each.

When deputies, the California Fish and Wildlife Biologist and Game Warden located the water source for the marijuana, they saw it was two water pumps in Wood Creek. The pumps were drafting water into one inch water lines. Wood Creek is known as an important Salmon and Steelhead stream and critical cold water source for the Mattole River. The biologist told deputies this was adversely affecting the Mattole and the creek, which are currently at a low flow due to severe drought conditions.

The biologist, deputies and game Warden also located a large trash pile. The trash pile was right next to wood creek and contained discarded hazardous materials, including discarded oil containers, batteries, chemicals and household garbage.

The two detained suspects were identified and released. The two suspects that fled the scene were also identified. Deputies and California Fish and Wildlife will be seeking criminal charges of cultivation and possession for sale of marijuana, armed in the commission of a felony, possession of an assault weapon, California Fish and Wildlife Code Violations for water diversion and alteration, (6 counts), water pollution, (8 counts), trash near a waterway (2 counts).

Besides criminal penalties, each count of water diversion and alteration carries civil penalty of $10,000 per violation, each count of water pollution carries a civil penalty $40,000 per violation, and each count of trash near a waterway carries a civil penalty of $40,000 per violation.

The case is also being forwarded to Humboldt County Environmental Health for possible additional criminal and civil charges.

Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.

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WANNA KNOW what’s on the agenda for the next Point Arena City Council meeting?

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THE APPLE PRESS will be up and running again this Saturday at the Boonville Farmers' Market. If you have apples to press into juice, bring them to the market at the Boonville Hotel, 10-12:30. You'll also need jars for the juice and buckets for the waste, unless you would like someone else to take it. There is usually someone there who would want it for compost or pigs. There are also people to help with the pressing, if you feel you can't do it yourself.

AV FOODSHED is looking for more people with Rural Living Skills to share. We are planning for our second annual Rural Living Skills Demonstrations at the County Fair in Boonville September 12-14. For more info, call Cindy at 895-2949, Jim at 496-9725, or Valerie at 367-2143.

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NEVER, IN THE LONG HISTORY OF FORT BRAGG, will so much wrongheadedness be found under one roof.

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Republican Candidates in Fort Bragg — In an historic “first” for Mendocino County all of the statewide Republican candidates for office in the November election will be visiting Fort Bragg on Sunday, September 7th. A reception will be held at the Cliff House Restaurant, 1011 S. Main Street, Fort Bragg from Noon to 2:00 PM. Among the candidates attending will be: Neel Kashkari for Governor, Ron Nehring for Lt. Governor, Pete Peterson for Secretary of State, Ashley Swearengin for Controller, Greg Conlon for Treasurer, Ronald Gold for Attorney General, Ted Gaines for Insurance Commissioner, Dale Mensing for Congress, Lawrence Wiesner for State Senate, Matt Heath for State Assembly and James Theis for Board of Equalization. The reception is sponsored by the Mendocino County Republican Central Committee and the Republican Women Federated of Fort Bragg and Ukiah. Admission to the event will be $20.00 per person. Mail checks payable to: Mendocino County Republican Party, 1184 N. Main Street #26, Fort Bragg, CA 95437 or purchase online at For further information contact Stan Anderson, 707-321-2592. Don't miss this opportunity to meet the Republican nominees all at one event!

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ON AUGUST 21, 2014, at 6am Deputies and Detectives with the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office responded to a residence in the 9100 block of Colony Drive in Redwood Valley for a report of a home invasion robbery. Upon their arrival, Detectives learned that at least two men had entered into the residence through an unlocked bedroom door, at approximately 5:20am. The suspects were dressed in all dark clothing and had their faces concealed. The suspects located the 60 year old female victim inside the bedroom and struck her on the head with a pistol multiple times, causing an injury. The suspects then bound the female victim's hands and legs while demanding money and marijuana. The female victim struggled and screamed, which got the attention of the male victim who was sleeping in another room. The 62-year old male victim made his way towards the bedroom where he encountered the two male suspects. One suspect ordered the male victim to the floor at gunpoint and demanded money and marijuana. The suspects bound the male victim's hands and legs and left him facedown in a closet. The two suspects ransacked the residence, taking US currency, a shotgun, and an oval opal ring with 3 small diamonds, which was forcibly removed from the female victim's finger during the incident. Additional property was stolen from the residence, but later recovered along a roadway in the Redwood Valley area. After the two suspects left the residence, the female victim was able to call 9-1-1 for law enforcement assistance. The female victim was transported to a local hospital where she received treatment for a minor head injury. Mendocino County Sheriff's Detectives did not locate anything at the scene that would indicate the victims were involved in a large scale marijuana growing operation. Anyone who observed a suspicious vehicle or person(s) in the Redwood Valley area on August 21, 2014 between 3am-6pm or anyone who observed a vehicle traveling in the Redwood Valley area throwing items from a moving vehicle between 6:00 AM and 6:30 AM are urged to call the Sheriff's Office tip line at 707-234-2100. Sheriff’s Detectives are continuing investigations into the incident.

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WASHINGTON—Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) released the following statement after the US Bureau of Reclamation announced that it will release water to protect Trinity River salmon:

“I applaud the Bureau’s decision to finally release water to salmon struggling in the Klamath and Trinity rivers. While it is abundantly clear that the Bureau’s water management plans have been consistently shortsighted and that the irresponsible excessive diversion of water to the Sacramento River forced us into this difficult situation, the decision announced today indicates that the Bureau at least kept listening to the growing evidence of a looming disaster for salmon and is now doing the right thing.

“I appreciate the Bureau’s and the U.S. Interior Secretary’s willingness to listen to the Yurok, Hoopa and Karuk tribes and to demands from my office, and to change course from their original decision which would have needlessly imperiled vital salmon stocks in one of the driest years on record. I especially appreciate the tribes’ tenacity in demanding protection for these important public resources, and to the other deeply committed stakeholders who have spoken up on this issue.

“There is still a lot of work to do to get the Bureau on track to making responsible long-term plans for using one of our critical resources in a way that protects salmon and the people that depend on them while appropriately balancing the need for food production. I will apply consistent pressure on the agency to move in that direction, and I will stand with federal agencies when they do the right thing – because we know that litigious and powerful San Joaquin Valley interests will at every turn file legal challenges against salmon protection as they seek to divert more of our north coast water.”

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Mendocino County Verifies Signatures

Ordinance seeks to reassert our inalienable rights to protect water with a Fracking Ban on November Ballot The Community Rights Network of Mendocino County has placed an ordinance on the November ballot that asserts Mendocino County has the right to protect its water from fracking. The Community Rights Network gathered almost double the signatures needed to qualify for the ballot in just 35 days so voters can make the final decision in November. The Board of Supervisors voted to approve the measure for the ballot. Measure S will establish a Community Bill of Rights for the people and natural environment of Mendocino County — new civil, political, and environmental rights which are all built on the right of local, community self-government. These include the right to live in a healthy and safe ecosystem and the right to protect local water from danger. In order to uphold and protect those rights, the initiative bans all fracking related activities within the County including the transportation of fracking fluids, and the use of local water for fracking. Measure S states that Mendocino County citizens have the right to safeguard the county's water both on and beneath the Earth's surface by banning fracking in Mendocino County. It says that Mendocino County citizens have the duty to ensure that local water is safeguarded by decisions made by local people. Measure S elevates the rights of the people of Mendocino back where they belong, above the claimed “rights” of corporations and state agencies that enable fracking corporations to profit from the destruction of local ecosystems and to harm residents and communities. California and Mendocino County are both in emergency drought status and Measure S will protect our water from being used and polluted by the highly controversial natural gas and oil extraction process known as fracking. Fracking places a toxic mix of largely unknown chemicals into the earth that has leaked into the water supply of many communities on the East Coast, Colorado and Texas. If Measure S passes, Mendocino County will join 170 other communities in the U.S. that have passed community rights ordinances against corporate harm to their ecosystems. — Ed Oberweiser, Fort Bragg

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If you are lucky in this life,

you will get to help your enemy

the way I got to help my mother

when she was weakened past the point of saying no.

Into the big enamel tub 
half-filled with water

which I had made just right,

I lowered the childish skeleton

she had become.

Her eyelids fluttered as I soaped and rinsed

her belly and her chest,

the sorry ruin of her flanks

and the frayed gray cloud

between her legs.

Some nights, sitting by her bed

book open in my lap

while I listened to the air

move thickly in and out of her dark lungs,

my mind filled up with praise

as lush as music,

amazed at the symmetry and luck

that would offer me the chance to pay

my heavy debt of punishment and love

with love and punishment.

And once I held her dripping wet

in the uncomfortable air

between the wheelchair and the tub,

until she begged me like a child

 to stop,

an act of cruelty which we both understood

was the ancient irresistible rejoicing

of power over weakness.

If you are lucky in this life,

you will get to raise the spoon

of pristine, frosty ice cream

to the trusting creature mouth

of your old enemy

because the tastebuds at least are not broken

because there is a bond between you

and sweet is sweet in any language.

— Tony Hoagland

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by Jeff Costello

Cluelessness - Your attention, please! There does exist a thing called ADD, Attention Deficit Disorder, and they do have pills for that. But they don't do anything for the condition, any more than a drug could cure the condition of being “an asshole,” or illiteracy. The idea of paying attention to something is the province of people who are willing to stop, look and listen. They may be, heaven forbid, interested in learning something, and for its own sake, rather than economic advancement. My observations suggest that fewer of us are interested in paying attention than concerned with getting some. When I was a kid, the human population was two billion. The current figure is seven billion. So many are looking for their Andy Warhol 15 minutes. It seems like the more people there are, the more desperate many are to be noticed. This could explain a lot of things, from mass shootings to an overabundance of bad music and writing.

Speaking of bad writing, here are a just a few of many words or phrases that are beyond beaten to death and are not substitutes for having something to say (there isn't a pill for that).

Truth be Told (suggests that you're normally lying)

Iconic (Please - there's almost nothing left that isn't)

But I digress... (so don't)

If you will (I won't)

Lust for gold - “Greed is good,” says actor Michael Douglas in the movie “Wall St.” Well now, it's almost thirty years since the movie and we see how that philosophy has played out. Before that, there was Treasure of the Sierra Madre, but the allegory went by the average person, as have the many such fables and metaphors with the same theme. “It's just a story.” Multi-million dollar scammers get caught at about the same rate as corrupt politicians: negligible. The urge to put one over on our fellow humans? No pill for that.

Bullshitters - a folksy term for chronic liars. Some, many, can believe their own prevarications. “Constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves” as the AA “Big Book” puts it. This enables the liar to be hurt and indignant if you don't believe what he says. I guess the term for this is sociopath. No pill to fix it.

In our brave new world, children with “disorders” like ADD, ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder), are prescribed Adderall, which if anyone has bothered to check, is methamphetamine hydrochloride. Meth. The same chemical regarded as a national scourge, only instead of low-grade stuff made in clandestine labs, the kids are getting the really good, pure pharmaceutical stuff. One might think there's a conflict of interest there, which might lead to questioning of psychiatric/medical wisdom and authority, which in turn might be diagnosed as oppositional and defiant. And there's a pill for that.

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“AND NOW this week’s HITCHED song selection. Walk down the aisle to it. Dance to it. We care not.” — Andrew Goff (Courtesy,

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