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Off the Record (Aug 27, 2014)

LAST WEEK in the aftermath of Fort Bragg Police Chief Scott Mayberry’s resignation it was widely known in Fort Bragg that the City Council had already planned to conduct a performance review of City Manager Linda Ruffing. (Ruffing seemed to have been the main reason Mayberry resigned based on audience comments at the big meeting last Monday when he announced his retirement, but she's been in place for some time without community complaint, soooo… controversy is a departure for her.

THE FB COUNCIL conducted a special closed session review meeting Tuesday night (August 19) and conspicuously invited former Chief Mayberry into the closed session where the apparently aggrieved Mayberry discussed his beefs for over an hour. As we went to press Tuesday night, there had been no announcement out of closed session. But several Fort Bragg citizens were left to wonder why the City Council waited until after the popular Mayberry resigned before taking the time to listen to whatever complaints he had about Ruffing.

FORT BRAGG MAYOR DAVE TURNER issued the following statement late Tuesday night: “August 19, 2014, the City Council held a closed session to evaluate the City Manager's performance. In the course of that closed session, the City Council met separately with Chief Scott Mayberry and City Manager Linda Ruffing. In response to Chief Mayberry's concerns, the City Council has formed an ad hoc committee to recommend policies to improve departmental and human resource interactions. We are deeply saddened that Chief Mayberry has decided to retire and wish him the best in his next endeavor. We ask that the community continue the work that Chief Mayberry achieved, stay involved with your neighborhood groups, and reach out to our officers. Fort Bragg is a safe place to live, and with your help it will continue to be so. We commend our management team, police force, and the entire City staff for their hard work and commitment to the City, and the many accomplishments they achieve on a regular basis.”

TURNER'S DISINGENUOUS BAFFLEGAB ASIDE, it's clear that Mayberry was pushed out by the Fort Bragg City Council and Linda Ruffing, city manager. The accusation from Mayberry and his supporters seems to be Ruffing's alleged micro-management of the police department coupled to the city's failure to pay cops well enough to keep them. The Fort Bragg police are the lowest paid in Mendocino County, and they are perennially understaffed in a context of ever more crime, including gang-related crime.

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT'S website featured this lead story one day last week: “Police: Sebastopol DUI suspect caught with beer — A Santa Rosa man pulled over for running a stop sign was spotted with a beer between his legs, police say…” Like, this is news?

THERE'S A SERVICE STATION in Ukiah with a head shop attached. A Ukiah guy told us he watched a kid put a few bucks of gas in his beater truck then emerge from the head shop with a bag of whippets, the mini-canisters of nitrous oxide, aka laughing gas, designed to recharge whipping cream containers. Ukiah Guy watched as the kid wasted no time huffing one and then another one as he weaved off down State Street, definitely under the influence and clearly a motorized menace.

THEN THERE'S the inland guy with a thriving, Mendo-legal pot garden who came home to a Sheriff's note on his gate telling him he's got one week to get his plants outta there or deputies will remove them. He calls the number on the cop note and learns that his plants are within a thousand yards of a public park and gotta go. No marijuana cultivation is allowed within a thousand yards of schools and parks. So they guy rents a fork lift and a U-Haul and moves his plants to a location where they will soon yield what he hopes is enough money to live on for a year.

HOW TO TELL you live in the sticks, this clue from the Lost Coast Outpost: “The Comedian Performing at Humbrews Tonight Was in a Scorsese Movie.” Which reminds me of the time I thought I saw Robin Williams on the Larkspur ferry. Another time I'd just left a restaurant when Joe Montana came in.

RECURRENT rumors from Humboldt County claim black-clad commandos are rappelling out of helicopters into pot gardens. I believe these boys are merely the annual, DEA-funded Pot Price Support Unit, mostly local cops from several police forces supplemented by a couple of DEA fantasists who enjoy acting out video game-like commando scenarios. (As any woman will tell you, American men never quite grow ALL the way up.) They descend on the more remote gardens, chop down the plants and disappear into the sky. “Pot Price Support Unit”? O yea. Take off enough dope every year and prices stay high enough to attract even more people to the industry, not that pot prices are the object of the raids. The stated aim of the raids is, well, what? Water depredations, and pot grown on BLM land and grows too large to be covered by 215 exemptions.

SAME RUMORS have arisen from in the Woodman Canyon area of Laytonville. RECURRENT RUMORS of privately sponsored pot raids in the Woodman Creek area of Laytonville seem to be untrue, and probably absolutely untrue. The Willits News' ace new reporter, Adrian Baumann — the best journalist to appear in Mendocino County since Bruce McEwen came in from the cold five years ago — tracked down the rumors best he could, concluding that they lacked, as they say, the required specificity that would substantiate them. (Baumann's report appeared in The Willits News the week of August 15th)

BAUMANN got both the Sheriff's spokesman Captain Van Patten, and Paul Trouette of Lear, a private security company that patrols private parcels of outback land for their absentee owners, and some parcels with the owners present but anxious to keep their property free of trespass grows. Trouette said his outfit wasn't in the area.

BUT GREG VAN PATTEN, of the Sheriff's Department confirmed that the County's task force and County Probation, on July 23rd, “conducted open field eradications with a private helicopter company in the area of Woodman Creek after having received complaints of the creek being drained by illegal marijuana grows in the area…” The cops copped “2,630 plants” from 15 sites “out of compliance with 9.31…”

THE CONFUSION seems to have arisen over who exactly was in the helicopter. Lear people apparently were not; the Sheriff's Department people were directing the private pilot at the controls of a rented helicopter. There wasn't a gang of airborne vigilantes in Woodman Canyon that day.

PAUL TROUETTE of the Black Tailed Deer Association (who famously also works with the Sheriff’s Department to clean up toxic pot gardens in the northern part of the County) is a member of the County’s Fish and Game Commission. When asked by Supervisor Pinches what the Fish and Game Commission was doing to improve the deer herds in Mendocino County, Trouette replied, “A lot of things are being done for deer in Mendocino County. The Mendocino Fish and Came commission partially funded the Covelo deer herd study which is finished now. That is some science that's coming out. The number one reason we have no fawn recruitment in the national forest is the bear population. That was clear. All of the fawns that we captured in the forest and tagged — unofficially — were the result of bear predation. That's something we need to look at. This was a very interesting study. We had to find out where the deer population is going in the national forest. The forest is not being managed for fire or ecology. The vegetation management plan that is supposed to be implemented by the Forest Service is not happening. So we have 100 year old brush and timber that is a based on a decadent preservationist model. That is not going to grow critters out in the forest because if you don't feed those animals it's much like ranching, they don't grow. So their numbers are continually declining. When you have a high concentration of bears, that's a limiting factor. It's not the entire factor. We believe that habitat is critical to fawn survival. Nutrition is critical for wildlife in the forest. Bears can eat trash, they can eat anything out there. They strip trees and do a lot of stuff. So they grow exponentially under a bad management plan in the forest. The only way we will get the deer herds back in the forest is to change our management plan. I have been working on that tirelessly. We have a grant that was awarded to us in 2009. The Forest Service has still not given us our project which is the Clifton Ridge prescribed burn project in the Black Butte drainage. There have been many attempts to go to the Forest Service land managers on my behalf and on behalf of the Fish and Game Commission and the Black Tailed Deer Association to get these guys to understand that we need to manage our public lands in order to facilitate growth of all of the wildlife species out there. So we are working on deer — tirelessly. It may not be in the form of the money and grants, but it's kind of difficult when you get a $5000 grant in 2009 and it has not been implemented yet because of the land management by the US Forest Service. So I don't want to go after another grant until we get those grants done. … We have multiple discussions going on with the Forest Service. It's not an easy thing to get fire introduced in that ecology as you well know. We have had the big fire in Laytonville going on. But the habitat is the number one reason for the deer decline. That's a very big deal. How you get that habitat changed — whether it's through logging practices or something else, I don't know. I'm very supportive of the bio-char and the bioplant project. The 15-year plan the Forest Service has says that they are supposed to be burning 108,000 acres of brush every year. That has ceased. The Fish and Wildlife Department and the Forest Service do not have a relationship at all right now. It's been that way for 20 years. So getting these different agencies to work together is difficult. One manages game and the other manages the land. The game people tell the Forest Service what they need to bring that deer herd back up, but the Forest Service continues to lag in implementing those projects and those plans. That would facilitate the growth and healthy rejuvenation of that forest and bring those herds back. On top of that we have the bear population. In our study in the last three years we have seen that mountain lions eat deer and if the deer herds are shrinking, guess what else is shrinking? The lion population. In our study we found that the mountain lions in the national forest model — you have to consider this: Brooktrails has supplemental feeding programs and it also has refugia which is natural refuge from predators. You have dogs in the neighborhoods, you have people there. So the lions are less apt to come into those neighborhoods to get deer. So you have supplemental feeding of roses and ceanothus bushes and other bushes that people plant in Brooktrails which feed the deer. And people feed the deer. So you have a protected area there and that's why you see a lot of deer in Brooktrails. In different ecosystems you will find things like that happening. Wherever deer are protected and fed and have better habitat you'll see more of the deer herd. For instance in John Pinches’ territory that's Oak woodlands savanna habitat and that is the number one habitat for black tailed deer. But in the National Forest you have 70% of the ground is timber and old decadent brush. If that's the model they’re going to follow in that forest that's going to result in no deer. It's very critical to understand how deer live and what they need. The deer that are there now are shrinking because of that preservationist model in the National Forest, the late successional forest model. You need early successional forest for deer habitat. Early successional habitat. Then the deer birth rates and weights go up and the nutrition levels go up. Because of the lack of nutrition in the forest for the deer now, they are not as healthy when they are born and they are much more susceptible to predation. With the high bear population — over 15 or 20 bears per square mile now — you have groups of young adult and juvenile bears combing through the fawning areas during May and June. They have very sensitive olfactory organs and they can smell the placenta and other areas where deer are born and they literally devour the fawns right now.”

MENDOCINO COUNTY SHERIFF, Tom Allman, will be the 8th and final guest speaker in the Long Valley Garden Club's 2014 Cannabis Renaissance speaker series on Sunday, August 31st, from 4:00 to 6:00 pm at the Long Valley Garden Club, 375 Harwood Road in Laytonville. Sheriff Allman will be addressing issues related to local law enforcement of cannabis regulations as they now exist in Mendocino County. This event is free and the public is invited to bring your questions. Call 984-6587 for info. We're sure that the Sheriff will be thoroughly questioned about the recent Woodman Canyon pot raids.

REDWOOD GUY, writing to Lost Coast, comments: “In a lot of ways Humboldt County's large scale pot farmers (who are now a very solid majority of the overall number of pot farmers) are a microcosm of the situation in the USA as a whole. Sort of like our version of defense contractors or Wall Street banksters. They privatize the profits and socialize the costs. They get cash, and the majority of Humboldt is left with a sad legacy of environmental devastation, crime, and inflated prices for land. Also everyone is affected by our low quality local businesses that don't offer innovation and employment, in part because of easy money from marijuana trafficking. Has anyone here ever tried to run/even expand a small business that competes against some pot farmer who uses a business as a money laundering front and doesn't have to care about costs or profit? It's impossible. I've been there. Many of them have money buried, property in other countries. They and their greenrusher allies will talk all sorts of highfalutin baloney about organic this or that and peace/love, but its all smoke and mirrors and they only care about themselves and squeezing as much as possible out of the land as quickly as possible. People are waking up to this.”

ACCORDING to the Ukiah Police Department, the DEA “was assisted by the Ukiah Police Department on the execution of a search warrant at a large residential property in the 300 block of South Highland Avenue. During the execution of the warrant, officers seized approximately 74 mature outdoor growing marijuana plants spread-out in various gardens along the hillside within Ukiah city limits, 47 growing indoor marijuana plants, processed marijuana that had been harvested, concentrated cannabis, cocaine and other suspected controlled substances along with an Audi A8 vehicle valued at $60,000. UPD reports that “this is an ongoing investigation that will likely result in criminal charges. The names of the suspects are being withheld at this time while the investigation is being conducted.”

GUALALA REDWOODS INC. is being put up for sale. GRI's timberlands consist of 30,000 coastal zone acres in southern Mendo and northern Sonoma County.

IN OTHER NEWS from the fog belt, a Bay Area-based non-profit called the De Novo Group “develops and deploys novel wireless network technologies in Northern California, bringing broadband internet to rural communities.” DeNovo has just begun serving a trial area running from Elk to Point Arena, meaning that participating people and businesses can get reliable high-speed net service. Google put up $2 mil in seed money.

COMMENT OF THE WEEK: Even if Robin Williams’s well-known depression, which long-predated his Parkinson’s diagnosis, was involved in his decision to end his life, the liberal notion that we can and ought to rely on mental health professionals to guide us to health and sanity is more than a little suspect. There is no evidence that this group suffers lower rates of depression than the rest of the population, nor any that any kind of therapy has a cure for it. In fact, the evidence suggests that the mental health profession plays a crucial role in perpetuating a status quo within which depression is said to be growing by leaps and bounds. Psychoanalyst Joel Kovel demonstrated in the early 1980s that psychotherapy and counseling had become indispensable parts of the capitalist economy, especially in the United States, where turning socially induced misery into false questions of self-improvement long ago reached the status of a quasi-religious movement. Subsequent to Kovel’s published insights came the “diseasing” and drugging of hyper-active American schoolchildren due to what eventually came to be known as “ADHD.” In more recent years, we have seen how “happiness psychology,” particularly the work of conservative academic and writer Martin Seligman, a former chairman of the American Psychological Association and adviser to the US military, informed the Bush Administration’s torture program at Guantanamo Bay. All of this should make us quite skeptical about claims that therapy and counseling have the answer to our mental woes. — Michael K. Smith

AVA REPORTER WILL PARRISH has just launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise $5,500 for a series of 15-20 in-depth articles he is writing taking on California's destructive water politics in the context of the state's epic drought. He will serialize these pieces weekly in the AVA and also freelance some of them to regional and national publications. Supporting Will in this project will allow him to focus on journalism full-time as he focuses his considerable talent on these pressing issues. For more about this project, including how to donate, check out this link:

WILLITS-BASED ENVIROS were in court Tuesday seeking a court order restraining Caltrans from removing 900,000 cubic yards of fill dirt from an old mill site and log deck north of Willits for the bypass project. That site, formerly owned by Louisiana-Pacific, is now owned by Mendocino Forest Products. The enviros say the parties involved, including the County of Mendocino, did not properly evaluate the environmental impact of what amounts to a major dirt haul.

THE LATEST EFFORT to get CalTrans to play by the rules at the Willits Bypass via a restraining order against a lunatic dirt-moving plan, seems more aimed toward putting more pressure on Caltrans to give up on the planned 4-lane northern interchange than dirt-moving per se. That 4-lane interchange is being built to accommodate a future 4-lane highway that nobody believes will ever happen.

EVEN CONGRESSMAN HUFFMAN, confronted by the anti bypassers at a constituent Q&A in Ukiah last Monday, said: “I'm willing to agree with you; Phase 2 sounds like something very distant, and most likely never needed… if we ever get to this point where somebody wants to proceed with Phase 2, let's put our heads together and talk about whether it’s really needed. I find it hard to imagine that it would be.”

THE ARROGANCE OF CALTRANS (trampling Native American archeological sites and ignoring laws and commitments for environmental protection and mitigation) seems to have infected the County and Mendocino Forest Products (MFP, aka Mendocino Redwoods), the owner of the mill site. The County previously issued an illegal permit for the same work and hastily withdrew it when challenged. This time, after the Board of Supes voted to give themselves “original jurisdiction” to, ahem, bypass the Planning Commission, the County went through the motions of properly approving the project, but still seems to have come up short in complying with all the CEQA mandated steps for addressing environmental impacts.

ODDLY, THE TRO allows for clearcutting seven acres of timber at the old mill site, something the Willits Environmental Center and Keep the Code said would lead to irreparable harm to the environment. But the alternative to taking the fill dirt from the old mill site, now stripped of trees, will be for Caltrans (which cuts trees and bulldozes hillsides for a living) to clearcut Oil Well Hill and take the trees from there. Only this time they will be forced to do so by an “environmental” lawsuit.

CORRECTION: In Bruce McEwen's report on the Joan Rainville saga, Ms. Rainville, we now learn, was not taken into custody until early June when she was found guilty of felony assault. She had not been in custody prior. Ms. Rainville is being credited with 85 days served, with the exact sentence due to be clarified on September 9th. As for DA spokesman Mike Geniella's “reserved seating,” Geniella simply showed up early and took a seat. He does not enjoy special courtroom privileges.

DIGITAL FIRST has gone public with sales of their buildings, and yes such sale did include the San Jose Mercury News (already sold) and does include the Ukiah Daily Journal, Fort Bragg Advocate-Beacon, Lakeport, Eureka, Chico, Paradise and more…

DIGITAL FIRST? It's the conglomerate that owns the papers in Ukiah, Willits, and the Fort Bragg-Mendo mongrel weekly. And the name Digital First tells you that the whole journalo-show is moving into cyber-space. Print papers are on the way to museums.

AS OF MONDAY at 5pm, the Lodge Complex Wilderness Fire was fully extinguished, having burned through about 13,000 acres of forest between Laytonville and Leggett.

DAVID GURNEY has come up with a novel strategy to derail the County's plans to log a small county-owned parcel adjacent to the Little River Airport. “Mr. Sternberg [Roger Sternberg, the County’s forester on the Little River Airport logging project], You have knowingly submitted the attached documents, on the record, at an open meeting of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors, that includes a letter dated June 8, 2014 from a convicted felon, due to be incarcerated in Federal prison the following month. Mr. LeValley conducted the mentioned surveys during the same time period he was engaged in criminal activities in Humboldt County. As a Registered Professional Forester, you should know that such practice is not only unethical, but the information in the report should be deemed highly unreliable and untrustworthy. We are asking that a new wildlife/habitat survey be conducted by someone who can be trusted.”

PART OF THE PROBLEM with Mr. Gurney’s argument is the following statement made by Bill Heil, long-time forestry advocate on the Coast who also opposed the logging and recommended that the County explore selling or leasing the 57 acres of trees involved to a local non-profit: “Ron LeValley is a friend. I respect him greatly. He specializes in marine birds. In walking in that forest before we started talking about harvesting it, walking it afterwards and particularly going in the core area — even the amount of logging that was done changed it. You can’t grow timber and have an old growth forest. But I was thinking that the model was going to be the Arcata forest where the idea was to enhance those old growth characteristics that are there. In Mendocino County second growth, really unentered second growth, is the closest thing to old growth we got, certainly anywhere on the Coast. And I think that should be protected, starting by protecting the core area and thinning from below would be a good way to start. So making a deal with some other entity, maybe a local land trust, and working out the details on how to do that would solve this problem for you all, forever.”

ONLY SUPERVISOR DAN HAMBURG was interested in considering this idea. The other four Supervisors supported logging the area this year, primarily because, as Supervisor McCowen said, “As Chair Pinches said, so far we’ve been throwing good money after bad.” And they voted 4-1 to proceed with the project in spite of the recommendation from staff to postpone the job for a year in the hope of getting a better bid for the wood than the one bid they got from Mendocino Forest Products/Mendocino Redwoods Corporation.

ON FRIDAY THE BOARD OF SUPES posted an amended agenda for their August 26 meeting adding three items under the heading “modifications to the agenda” which seems to be a great place to hide things the Supes don't want to advertise. The first new item is a concurrent resolution of the Board of Supes and the defunct Water Agency adopting the North Coast Integrated Regional Water Management Plan (NCIRWMP) for 2014 and declaring it exempt from CEQA. The plan includes funding for several drought related projects in Mendocino County, including $700k for a reservoir for the City of Fort Bragg on Summers Lane and $1 million for a recycled water project in Ukiah. The projects were approved when Supervisors Gjerde and McCowen convinced their colleagues from a seven-county area that Mendo needed the money (earmarked for drought related projects) more than their own home counties. The added agenda item amounts to a rubber stamp saying, “Yes, thanks, we'll take the money.”

RECONSIDERATION OF THE LITTLE RIVER AIRPORT LOGGING PLAN, approved by the Supes on a 3-2 vote at their last meeting, is the second modification to the agenda. Supervisor McCowen, who voted with the majority to go ahead with the logging plan, is listed as the sponsor of the item. (According to their rules, only Supervisors who voted in the majority on an item, can ask that the item be reheard.) The “summary of request” (which seems to have been translated from the Bulgarian) reads “reconsideration of the board's previous action approving the sale of timber at the Little River Airport to allow an opportunity for the county and interested conservation organizations to explore options for a conservation easement, or other method of limiting timber operations on the property consistent with FAA regulations. It is an [sic] anticipated that the commitment of one or more conservation organizations can be clarified within two weeks, which will allow logging to proceed this year, if acquisition of the timber rights, consistent with FAA regulations, is determined not to be in the interest of the conservation organizations or the County. If the motion to reconsider is approved by a majority vote of the Board, the original motion approving the sale of timber will be back before the Board at which time it can be modified, withdrawn, or approved as is.”

TRANSLATION: the last sentence (which says a successful motion to reconsider will put the original motion back before the Board) is the clearest. And the motion to reconsider (which only takes a majority vote) should be a slam dunk. McCowen put the item on the agenda and Hamburg and Gjerde are already on record in favor of a delay. (Gjerde only voted to log this year after Hamburg's motion to delay failed.) But the motion to reconsider will only put the original motion back on the table.

MCCOWEN, THE PRESUMED AUTHOR of the summary of agenda modification request, appears to be sending a clear signal to the tree-hugging community — if they want to prevent the County from logging the area they need to come up with a serious proposal. Quickly. The summary of request talks about clarifying “the commitment of one or more conservation organizations…within two weeks, which will allow logging to proceed this year” (if the enviro groups decide they don't want to acquire the property). Working out a deal with a local land trust to manage the property was brought up by Bill Heil at the last meeting but got no discussion. Now the Albion Nation and their ListServe shock troops appear to have two weeks to put up or shut up.

WHAT SEEMS CLEAR is that the County is not qualified to manage property for timber operations. The property was last logged in 1996. Later that same year the County spent the money to prepare a Non-industrial Timber Management Plan (NTMP) to guide future logging operations. In 2007 the County tried to log the property but abandoned the effort when timber prices collapsed. Since then the County has spent tens of thousands of dollars for foresters, biologists, consultants, and owl surveys and thousands more on staff time preparing reports for a timber harvest plan that will never be harvested. The previous staff report said the County had spent $43,000 in the last couple of years preparing the plan for harvest and only hoped to make $163,000 gross. Add in the cost of the original NTMP and all the surveys, reports, and staff time going back to 1996 and the County will be lucky to break even. Ever. Acquisition by a local land trust would seem to be in the best interests of all concerned.

THE THIRD NEW AGENDA ITEM is a closed session item: “existing litigation: Willits Environmental Center, Keep the Code et al. v. County of Mendocino.” Which is probably related to the lawsuit against taking almost 900,000 cubic yards of soil from the old mill site just north of Willits near the truck scales, instead of clearcutting Oil Well Hill (just north of Reynold's Highway on northbound Highway 101) and taking the dirt from there. The old mill site is closer to the bypass which would greatly reduce truck trips and green house gas emissions. The lawsuit amounts to a spoiler action by the bypass opponents which can only cause further delay and expense without any prospect of stopping the bypass. But last Wednesday, Judge Mayfield issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) that prevents “the excavation and removal of 883,950 cubic yards of fill from the MFP site” and depositing the fill “on or near wetlands.”

STOP THE PRESSES! Ukiah Daily Journal front page headline, August 21, 2014: “Ukiah City Council: Chipotle not fast food.” Whew! Glad Ukiah got that one off everyone's minds.


Supervisor John McCowen, Aug 12, 2014, Supervisors Report: “The North Coast Railroad Authority will meet tomorrow in Marin County. We are still working to hopefully complete a sale of a portion of the Ukiah depot property to the Administrative Office of the Courts. There are a fair number of technical issues that need to be worked out in order to make that project go forward. The courts are very intent on it and so is NCRA. Some of you may have noticed that rail spurs on the west side of the line north of Perkins up to Clara have recently been removed. That is in preparation for construction of a trail that will parallel the tracks. It's the first installment of what we all hope will ultimately be a complete trail all the way through the Ukiah Valley and eventually up to Redwood Valley and down to Hopland which would be a great attraction for the area as well as a great amenity for the people who live here.”

THE NCRA APPARATUS is basically an adjunct of the Northcoast's Democratic Party which, of course, has presented no obstacle to plans by the Mendocino County Superior Court, also heavy on lockstep Democrats, to build a new County Courthouse at the old rail station site. Rails to Trails makes the new courthouse slightly more palatable to people who aren't paying much attention as the new courthouse, unwanted by anyone other than the 9 judges themselves, moves inexorably forward.

HOME INVASION SEASON kicked off Thursday morning a little after five when a pair of armed intruders broke into a Redwood Valley home on Colony Drive, tied up two persons, both over 60, pistol-whipping the old lady. The two he-men 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.

MENDOCINO COUNTY SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT Paul Tichinin responded to the Grand Jury’s complaints that he and his Talmage organization were not going a very good job by saying, predictably, that the GJ didn't understand the evidence of their eyes. Here’s the Grand Jury’s report from June 2, 2014:

AND HERE'S Tichinin’s child-like 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 consider cutting his own lavish pay.

SUNDAY'S LEAD story in the SF Chron was called, “Questions raised about cops wearing cameras.” How about everyone in a public job wearing a camera? Imagine, for instance, observing Mendocino County's superintendent of schools, Paul Tichinin, as he went about his work. It would be like watching that Warhol film called Empire. Remember it? Probably not, because Warhol insisted that it be shown in its eight-hour entirety, and very few people were willing to pay their way in to watch a movie made by a slow motion camera fixed all day on the Empire State Building. That was it. Nothing happened except the building went from the sunlight of early morning to the shadows of late afternoon. Eight hours of Tichinin would see him sitting in an empty office where the phone never rings playing, but there would be some action as Tichinin walked out the door for a two-hour lunch, returned from the two-hour lunch, took a one-hour nap at his desk, woke up and left for the day in his edu-funded free car.

FERGUSON FOR 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 economic injustice. Just for openers a federal jobs program financed by a return to fair taxation 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.

'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 grievance was, and then as now the grievance was legit. The outside agitators in the Bay Area, circa 1960s, 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. They're in town for recreational fights with the police, which they could just as well do at home but mixed in with legit protests the violence they've come for has a fig leaf of legitimacy. In this country, if you have a mostly white police force policing a mostly black community there's going to be lots of trouble. And that's what we still have fifty years after the 1960s. 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. The cops, in those days, didn't even bother to fake restraint. 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 archetypal police riot was in Chicago, 1968. Police violence always seemed to surprise a lot of demonstrators who weren't fully aware of how their native land worked at the street level.

THEN, AS NOW IN FERGUSON, the protests were and are led by earnest, non-violent persons who take to the streets with no intention of doing anything illegal. They're 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.

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.”

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.

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

ON AUGUST 22, 2014 at approximately 0830 hours, Floyd Ross Jr. 81, of Ukiah, and Douglas Dunnebeck, 86, of Ukiah went hunting on a private ranch on Pomo Lane in Ukiah. While traveling on a private road within the ranch, the 2007 Polaris Ranger ATV they were traveling in went off road and collided with a tree. Ross and Dunnebeck were ejected from the ATV and both sustained fatal injuries. After Ross and Dunnebeck had been away for an extended period of time, friends began to search for them on the property. On August 22, 2014, at approximately 1645 hours their Polaris Ranger ATV was located and Ross and Dunnebeck were found to be deceased. There was no evidence found to indicate they were wearing helmets at the time of the collision. At this time impairment is unknown. This collision is still under investigation. — CHP Press Release

FLOYD ROSS was Charles Mannon's number two man at the Savings Bank for many years. C.D. (Craig Douglas) ‘Pete’ Dunnebeck was the founder of Acme Rigging, a logging supply outfit in Ukiah which was financed and kept viable for decades by the Savings Bank. Mr. Dunnebeck was recently in the news when an article about his $1,000 contribution to Mitt Romney in 2012 appeared entitled, “C.D. Dunnebeck pours money into Republican Presidential campaign — Ukiah donor makes generous gift to Mitt Romney (R).” Mr. Dunnebeck also made large donations to the Ukiah Humane Society and the Adventist Hospital.

A READER WRITES: (in response to our comment that Tom Woodhouse, candidate for Third District Supervisor, said nothing in his recent Ukiah Daily Journal interview) “Woodhouse is new to politics and someone must have told him to stay away from specifics. If you take a stand on ten issues and people disagree with one of them, they may turn on you. But around here, people want to know where you're coming from. Being outspoken will turn off the fringes, but people will respect you and even support you if you can give a clear reason for your position.

“BUT HOLLY APPEARS TO SAY SOMETHING when she really doesn't. Go to and find the link to Dickerson's pension reform conference and go to the panel of wannabe elected officials, which includes Holly. Scroll through until you see her — there are a couple of spots — at one point she spins into free fall bafflegab mode for over ten minutes. Tell me if you think she said anything or showed any real insight into the problems of pension reform.

“WOODHOUSE DOESN'T BLOW HIS OWN HORN but he has been in business locally for 30 years and has a track record of being involved with the schools and the community, painting out graffiti and cleaning up the creeks. All those things have a positive ripple effect. And what has Holly done? She went to work for a dope grower supply house in shipping and receiving right out of college and ten years later she was still filling dope grower orders for truckloads of soil — she never progressed within the company after ten years. She has been on the Willits City Council for ten years and it’s the same story. What has she done?

“HOLLY IS THE EPITOME of the cookie cutter faux liberal the AVA claims to despise. She is the dream candidate of career Dems like Jim Mastin and Val Muchowski. And people like the Drells who never had to work for a living but are trying to keep anyone else from doing so. Not everyone wants to be an organic gardener or dope grower. We need some local businesses so people who want to work at a legit job can do so.

“WOODHOUSE MAY NOT SAY MUCH but he is thoughtful and open to hearing what people have to say. People trust he will do the right thing once he gets elected. Holly comes across like someone who really wants the job and Woodhouse comes across like someone who really wants to do the job. Despite the AVA liking her, the people of the third district can figure this one out.”

WE'LL CONCEDE that Woodhouse seems to have his virtues, especially his volunteer work, but where was his biz acumen when the Willits School District entered into a building finance deal that was rum on the face of it, or should have been? And if you doom Holly simply because she works for a nursery that sells dope garden supplies, you could similarly doom most businesses in the County: realtors like Woodhouse who sell land to outside growers; banks that process cash; automobile dealers who sell new vehicles for cash, no questions asked. And so on. Everyone in this county is in the intoxicants business, one way or the other.

WHILE FANCY WESTERNERS are pouring clean water on their heads, every 20 seconds a kid is dying because they can’t access proper sanitation, linked in many cases to a lack of clean water. Just let that marinate for a bit. Every 5 gallon bucket of clean drinking water thrown away for a public relations stunt could be 5 gallons of clean drinking water for a kid who may die from unsanitary living conditions and lack of clean water... A thousand and one ways water is being abused. Just watch your clock tick by; because when the bell tolls, it will toll for all of us. Just remember, another couple of children just died from lack of clean water while you read this. But don’t worry; the celebrities, politicians and business folks will throw more buckets of water on their heads. (Andrew Smolski)

LAST WEDNESDAY as I drove through Ukiah delivering Boonville's beloved community newspaper, I pulled over opposite the Plowshare's driveway to watch a fight that was in the first stages of two-on-one combat. All three guys were in their mid-30s and tweeker-lean. They were bouncing up and down and singing out the usual tired insults about mom and incest, and the even more tired promises of assured mutual destruction. The victim went immediately to the ground on his back, a savvy strategy in the two-on-him circumstances, and a savvy one generally because it's a lot harder to hit someone who's rolling around on the ground. The guy on the ground was obviously an experienced assault victim, kicking upwards at his two assailants as he nimbly writhed out of range of their inept punches. This went on for about three minutes before all three tired, and, with a final round of insults, the two attackers strode off up State Street looking triumphant. The vic stood, dusted himself off, looked around and yelled out at no one in particular, “Punk bitch muthafuggas.”

ADD TO THE LONG list of stuff we didn't know, the fact that Hops-Meister Farm at Clear Lake produces hops for lots of this area's many breweries, and seems to be a harbinger of the return of hops to this part of Northern California. Used to be hops were a big export product for Mendocino County, especially the Anderson Valley and, clearly, Hopland, where Native Americans were always much in demand as harvest crews. The Boonville Brewery now has some hops growing on its thriving premises at the junction of 128 and the Ukiah Road.

ONE WOULD THINK that anybody who has ever owned a dog would know that you don't want the beast sitting down at the table with you. Yes, I once owned a dog and became very fond of him, but I had no illusions about his personal hygiene. And his eating habits. Roscoe was confined to one room and the great outdoors. He never got anywhere near the kitchen or the meals. But here's the headline, “San Francisco Cafes' ban on canine clientele to vanish. Outdoor dining with dogs to become legal next year.”

WHY? I understand that the blind need dogs to guide them safely across the street. I'd even understand if the dog accompanied the blind person into the coffee shops of Boonville. What I don't get is the neo-anthropomorphism of regular people that has become so prevalent in this country, with millions insisting that their dogs be with them round-the-clock — in the car, at the doctor, on the bus, at the dinner table, even in bed! I understand that America is totally batshit in many of its particulars, but this neurotic insistence on the human equivalence of animals seems excessive even for Wacky Land.

ANOTHER odd piece from the Chron was headlined “Duboce Triangle getting scary.” A young man was indeed beaten to death at Duboce and Church the other night but that happened sometime during the very late night hours when much of the city is scary, indoors and out. But apart from the sad death of this kid, the scariness cited consisted of a needle exchange on a bike path, a street nut masturbating in someone's doorway, a street guy living in another doorway, and, of course, the usual accounts of personal functions carried out in public.

THE PEOPLE complaining about this stuff thought the cops should do something about it. Like what? By the time a cop can get there all of the above has happened. If I walked up on someone urinating or practicing a solo act of love in my doorway, and after making sure it wasn't me, I'd take direct action of some kind. The guy living in the doorway? The people living upstairs hadn't called the cops, or even asked their doorway dweller to leave. These are the new realities of every day American life. I'm surprised people complain that somehow the police are responsible, that the police should respond to every unsightly visual. The growing numbers of people unable or unwilling to care for themselves is a political problem, not a police problem.

One Comment

  1. debrakeipp August 27, 2014

    Great column this week, Bruce. Thanks. Good coverage of many many issues you don’t see anywhere else.

    Also, …hops. About twenty years ago, an old friend who’d be over a hundred now, gave me his botany course books from UCB. Published in the ’20’s, in them was a chapter on how the humble honey bee and hops live in symbiosis – the hops lending health to the honey bee, protecting them from fungus, molds, and preventing virae.

    Thanks again for a great column this week.

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