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Off the Record (Dec 3, 2014)

PAUL LAMBERT WRITES: "I will repeat my retraction of my previous statements at the beginning of the next Mendo Matters, Thursday, December 4th between 9:00 am and 9:10 am. Mendo Matters is broadcast on KZYX on 90.1, 88.7 and 91.5 FM.

THE GENESIS of Lambert's communication? We'd written to Lambert after The Major had happened on Lambert's casual slander of this fine publication on his Mendo Matters program. Lambert, as uninformed as it's possible for a talk show host to be, had said the MendoVito EIR "came back negative." When MendoVito's proponent, Mr. Lewenz, replied that there was no EIR, Lambert said it was "a rumor published in the AVA and we all know the AVA is famous for publishing unfounded rumors."

WELL! We certainly had no interest in force-feeding unseasoned crow to the tubby little fella, but we could hardly let him get away with that one, so we fired off the following:

1. Please cite where any such claim about a MendoVito EIR was "published" in the AVA.

2. Please cite one or more "unfounded rumors" published in the AVA.

Please consider this letter a demand at the next reasonable opportunity for

a. An on-air retraction and proof of same via a CD or digital-audio file recording.

b. An announcement to us in advance when such retraction will be broadcast.

WE WERE fully prepped for follow-up legal action, and will indeed pursue the matter if Lambert doesn't produce a copy of his on-air retraction for us, but he quickly has promised, "I will send you a digital audio file of the first few minutes of my show when I will make my retraction. Paul."

A READER WRITES: “The Newspaper Guild (formerly the print journalists union, but now calling itself “primarily a media union”) has begun to place ads seeking “new owners” of some of their chain papers. A small one appeared in a Bay Area News Group paper and a second larger one in a St. Paul chain paper. One would assume they’re hoping to keep the papers running to benefit members of their union. But is this the most effective way to do it? Wouldn’t a worker-financed buyout of individual papers be more promising? Or do they just want your random deep pockets risk taker to throw money at them?"

YOU KNOW it's a slow day at the AVA when we have time for junk mail correspondence, such as this one from PG& Bloody E:

"Editor, I hope you will consider printing the following letter to the editor from our division manager, Carl Schoenhofer, to emphasize some valuable safety tips around holiday lights. Thanks, Brittany McKannay"

Carl proceeds to inform us, "In the days following Thanksgiving, many families will begin the festive tradition of lighting their homes and businesses for the holiday season. To ensure that lights bring joy rather than fire, injury or electric shocks, PG&E recommends that customers follow a few simple safety tips.”

And so on.

The email was signed, “Brittany McKannay, Corporate Relations," PG&E etc.

We replied to Brittany: Tell Carl to mind his own beeswax. If I need help decorating my Christmas tree I'll call my congressman.

Miffed, Brittany immediately wrote back: "We'll go ahead and take you off our media list so you don't receive any updates from PG&E. Should you have questions about outages, gas or electric projects or anything else regarding PG&E, please contact our media line at (415) 973-5930. Happy holidays!”

And we were right back to Brittany: So long as you don't put us on PG&E's “Blow Up This Guy's House” list, Brittany, we'll be happy. PS. What exactly is Carl's function at everybody's favorite “public” utility? Vice President In Charge Of Inane Advice? No wonder our rates are so high!

A few minutes later Brittany herself called the AVA office. The Major turns to the editor and say, "Brittany just called asking if someone was fooling around with our email. She seems genuinely surprised that we weren't interested in Carl's safety tips. She asked me what she should do."

“We're not big fans of PG&E, Brittany, Don't take it personally,” The Major assured her.

Brittany asked what she should do.

“Buy a subscription. That would probably cool out the editor. He never messes with paying customers.”

“Oh, that's ok,” Brittany said, “we'll just take you off our email list.”

“Remember San Bruno,” The Major said, hanging up.

RANDOM THOUGHTS ON FERGUSON. I was about 12 when I tagged along with my father to buy one of his many $200 junkers. The old man, with his unerring instinct for a bad buy, picked out a battered Studebaker and said something like, “Well, I live on a hill so I can always push start it.” The salesman got on an inter-office phone to summon a mechanic, a black guy who instantly got the thing running. The salesman, with the conspiratorial bonhomie of the all-white 1950s, said to my father, “There goes the best mechanic in San Francisco. If he wasn't a nigger he could write his own ticket.”

DOES IT EVEN NEED saying, and please excuse the pontificating, that at this point in our country's irreconcilable history, that black people continue to suffer disproportionate mass injury and insult? It always does need saying, especially to the NPR sectors, that we live in a thoroughly oligarched-political system presiding over a deeply fractured, color-coded society more violently estranged by the day. White guys who played high school football are hired by the system to keep order in neighborhoods foreign to them, and the gap between the enforcers and the enforced grows wider and wider.

THE SHOOTING of Michael Brown by a white cop named Wilson in a predominantly black suburb of St. Louis touched off an orgy of national hypocrisy force fed by a fact-free national media. The kid was shot in the back. He had his hands up when he was shot. Eyewitnesses swore to it, swore it was a cold-blooded murder of an unarmed kid. Versions of that false trope are still circulating.

LARGELY UNMENTIONED by the liberals, is the video of the “kid,” a very large kid, grabbing a handful of cigars then shoving around what looks like diminutive Pakistani shopkeeper. The kid follows up his petty strong arm theft by walking down the middle of the street with another criminally inclined young man when the white cop rolls up and says whatever he said. The kid reaches into the police wagon to slug the cop at least twice and reaches for his gun. The cop later testifies that he hadn't been carrying a taser because it's too bulky and awkward to lug around all day. Apparently, the almost all white Ferguson police command prefers guns to non-lethal options.

IF THE COP had been required to carry a taser as his first self-defense option, Brown would probably be alive and none of us would have heard another word from Ferguson, a place none of us had ever heard of in the first place. I'd say, at the usual risk of being called a racist dog-pig by white people of the MendoLib- ListServe types, that anybody of whatever ethnicity who runs up on a cop, punches him and reaches for his gun is unlikely to survive the encounter.

AND THAT'S WHAT HAPPENED, but now we have a young thug being memorialized in the same martyred context as Martin Luther King! Only in America!

MEANWHILE, just this weekend, a Mendo tweaker by the name of Daniel Saulsbury, who was running wild in Point Arena and scaring hell out of everyone along the main drag, had to be tazed by the cops who couldn't otherwise corral him, and we immediately see how Ferguson-ized the already demagogic media have become. The headline in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat read, “Fort Bragg Man dies after officers use Tasers.” The Chron headline also implied that the death was the cops' fault. “Man dies after being shot with stun guns.”

THE AUTOPSY is likely to sustain what was evident in the run-up to Saulsbury's death, a man with a long criminal history, not so incidentally. That is, that the guy was probably tweaked to the max, his heart already running at full throttle as he raged up and down Point Arena's main street. The tasers exploded his cardio-carrying capacity, propelling the guy into eternal submission. But the dead man was responsible for his death, not the police. What were the cops supposed to do, fight him into submission? Let him do whatever until he un-cranked?

BUT SURE ENOUGH, here comes MendoLib on ListServe: “There is another way to subdue a man or woman who has lost or is deliberately out of control. Officers are suppose to carry a heavy blanket in their vehicles for that purpose. Why don't they use it? Sounds like there were enough officers there in Point Arena to try. — Beth Bosk

“We citizens must stop this fear driven murder - it’s already spiraled out of control. De-militarize all the police departments from national to teeny cities/towns. And do not allow returning veterans to become LEO directly but must go thru de-compression from killing being the first response. Candidates need to be re-socialized. We also need to demand higher regular pay and a 4 year college/university degree for even applying. Standards are too low and bring in a low bar of employees over-all unfortunately. Time to stop war against US citizens by LEO’s — Officers of the Peace my ass!! We now fear them compellingly.” — Jessie VanSant

“I would never hold my breath waiting for ‘facts’ from the DA about a case of cops killing anyone. They will always, always justify it and find it reasonable. Three cops ought to be able to subdue one guy without resorting to shooting or electrocuting. Giving cops a license to kill anyone they say they are afraid of is what leads to situations like the one in Ferguson MO, and to the police-state which this country is becoming.” — Nick Wilson

I agree with Eric on the need to follow up on these matters. I also know that it's hard to do. For example, when I questioned both the circumstances of the shooting and the overall handling of the Aaron Bassler situation (prior to the murders of Matt Coleman and Jere Melo), I didn't find a lot of support in official Mendocino County (and certainly not in the media). It's no secret that prosecutors and law enforcement often see eye to eye, particularly when officer safety is deemed to be at issue. I have heard praise for law enforcement in the handling of the recent tragic situation in Point Arena but also questioning as to why it was so difficult to subdue Mr. Saulsbury. All I can think is that he must have been "under the influence" of a substance that gave him tremendous strength to resist. Otherwise, would three separate officers have had to use their taser weapons to subdue him? Re the death of Shane Murphy on October 8, an autopsy was performed for the California Forensic Medical Group which contracts with the jail to provide medical services. I have not read that report but have been told that it noted contusions, broken ribs, a crushed spleen, and a clinical picture of Mr. Murphy being crushed to death. Here's an Advocate-News article questioning the apparent suicide. — Supervisor Dan Hamburg

VANSANT has a truly touching faith in the humanity of college grads, Beth Bosk in blankets, Wilson limo lib second guessing, Hamburg, a supervisor with easy access to information, is vaguely suspicious, natch, of the Blue Meanies.

EYEWITNESSES say Saulsbury was totally, violently ape shit. Tazing him was the only way the cops could subdue him without risking injury to themselves in hand-to-hand combat. The DA's investigators are smart and competent. If the poor guy from Cleone, Shane Murphy, whose autopsy Hamburg "heard about," was murdered by his cellmates, or had been severely beaten during his arrest, we'll eventually learn the truth.

I SOMEWHAT AGREE with the Blue Meanie Brigade, though. There hasn't always been reputable authority in Mendocino County, and I know of a recent case right here in Boonville where a respectable woman was not only unnecessarily arrested but treated with gratuitous cruelty all the way over the hill to the County Jail. I've urged her to file a formal complaint, but she, understandably, just wants to forget about it. Mostly, though, Mendo cops — all cops — do a reputable job in a crumbling social context, and Hamburg, an elected supervisor with pals on the Superior Court, is certainly well-placed to get his questions answered.

BTW, FRANK HARTZELL'S excellent account in the Advocate of recent jail deaths brings us up to date on them. We note here that Ortner Management Group's role in Mr. Neuroth's death has not been commented on by Supervisor Hamburg, a staunch supporter of the privatization of the County's mental health services. OMG trundled the guy off to the County Jail without even giving him the drink of water that was his last known request.

HAMBURG, did indeed, ask the Sheriff about Murphy's death, and good on Hamburg for doing it: "I spoke with Sheriff Allman this morning regarding the death that occurred last Wednesday in Point Arena. According to the Sheriff, the officers had great difficulty subduing Mr. Saulsbury. This may have been due to his being 'under the influence'. The situation will be investigated but it does appear that the officers did all that they could to avoid the sad ending. I also asked the Sheriff about the October 8 death by hanging that occurred in the jail. He shared the autopsy report with me. It made no mention of any injury to Shane Murphy's 'musculoskeletal system', referring only to injuries associated with death by hanging. The Sheriff did mention that when CPR is administered, it is very common that ribs are broken."

SHERIFF ALLMAN is not an info hoarder. Ask him a question, you get an answer, almost always an informative answer, too.

MY BILL COSBY EXPERIENCE. I wrote this last year: The Missus and I attended, gratis, last Wednesday night's gala opening of the SF Jazz Center, an event way out of my league… My nephew's family had pretty much funded the building being celebrated, which accounts for our presence. At $500 minimum a pop we would not otherwise have been present. I'd hauled my burial suit out of the bottom drawer, slapped a little Dye ’N Shine on my Nike walkers and headed out to the Civic Center Garage where it suddenly cost $15 to park because, the sign said, “Special Event Rates Tonight.” We footed it on over to the Special Event at Gough and Fell, and on into a very crowded tent where, if they could get to you through the massed bodies, attractive young people passed out free booze and bites of tasty food on toothpicks. I immediately rubbed elbows with Ronnie Lott, the famous 49er linebacker, to whom I said hello as if I knew him. He said hello back as if he knew me. He probably goes around all day saying hello to people he doesn't know. Or want to know. I moved quickly on, not wanting him to even think I might try to bore him with some kind of turgid reminisce about The Catch etc. We soon saw Mr. and Mrs. Musslewhite, whom we know a little. Mr. M. told me he'd had more fun performing at Navarro than any place he'd ever worked, and told me to be sure to send along his best to Dave Evans of the Navarro Store. The new jazz auditorium is beautiful, and the sound so good you can hear every word wherever you're seated. Whether or not you want to hear it. A botoxed babe sat next to me, her cheekbones permanently raised to her temples and her vertiginous breasts spilling out of her dress. You don't often see vistas like the one she presented around Boonville, and I confess I got dizzy. “So, where are you from, handsome?” she asked. I looked around to make sure it was me being addressed. Mendocino County, I said. “I'm from Mill Valley, too,” she said, and commenced a free association monologue only parts of which were occasionally intelligible. Bill Cosby, the ostensible mc, walked on stage. He was painfully unfunny all night, although lots of lame brains laughed like he was hilarious. Cosby was obviously winging it and hadn't prepared even enough to fake preparation. The music? I didn't get it. I wasn't even sure it was music. I could see the old imperialist, George Schultz, nodding off in one of the thousand dollar seats. At the coat check Willie Brown was hassling the attendant. “You should have more than one person here,” badgering the harried girl working by herself to retrieve the garments of the great and the grand. Like she was in charge of event logistics? It felt good to be back out on the street. Once all the swells are out of the way, the Center will be very good for San Francisco and very good for jazz music, some of which, I've got to assume, will be accessible even to squares like me.

ABOUT A WEEK after this event, I ran into the Chron's music writer, Aidin Vaziri. He lives almost next door. He asked me how I liked the event we'd both attended. I said jazz, for me, almost begins and ends with Miles Davis, especially Sketches Of Spain. The abstract squeek-squawk stuff, well, some people think Madonna can sing. I said I thought Cosby was particularly awful, with a simpering Aren't I Cute performance so excruciatingly bad I felt embarrassed for him. Vaziri said, “Really? I thought he was great.”

A READER WRITES: “The 49er's defense was stellar, as usual. Way to go, guys — thank you for your effort! But the offense is just pathetic — and they have been for most of the season. Can't figure it out, but that's not MY job. Bottom-line: the offensive coaching schemes suck. The coaches don't seem to have solid game plans in place, and they can't adjust to save their football lives. Remember the good old days when Walsh would implement adjustments at half-time? Roman and Harbaugh can't adjust anything, and the Niners are losing games as a result. Roman needs to go, at the very least. Geez, it is just pathetic watching the Niners' offensive players (who ARE totally talented) look like a bunch of bumbling hamheads."

THE AVA agrees, but we think the problems go deeper, beginning with the existential curse represented by the new stadium, basically a football-themed mall in the middle of a suburban nowhere. Owner Jed York, who apologized for the Niner performance on the big electronic idiot board Sunday, is apparently unaware he's a big part of the prob. A guy who's never had to compete for anything ought to shut up and stay out of the way, and commonsense should have told even a rich kid that moving the Niners to the far suburbs was a very bad idea. That awful stadium wouldn't be nearly so awful if it was at least plunked down South of Market somewhere. If York is calling the shots at the football level the Niners are going to be bad again for a long time.

THE STADIUM STINKS. It doesn't even provide a righteous grass playing surface, hence those dust clouds during the Thanksgiving game rising from the middle of the field. I haven't talked to a single person who has a good word to say about the place. Factor in the too many Hog Heaven suites for thousands of Silicon gizmo-heads as long-time football fans priced out and you have a much loved sports franchise with a wonderful legacy moved into a soul-less techno context that has exorcised everything the Niners have represented over the years. The Stadium was half-empty by half-time as the whiz kids packed it in early to go home and play Dungeons and Dragons, or whatever it is they do in their over-large houses. Corporations also buy up a lot of seats at PacBell, but there are still ways for baseball fans to get a cheap seat and the average person can occasionally get to a game. And everyone loves the ballpark on the Embarcadero. Candlestick was perfect for football, in our opinion. It was a huge civic failure by Frisco that the Niners were allowed to leave town.

WE THINK THE NINERS are making a mental case out of Kaepernick. He should be encouraged to freelance because, like Seattle's Wilson, that's what he does best. He suddenly looks lost out there, tentative, like his confidence is gone. Having all these retired quarterbacks on his case certainly doesn't help him any either. And we wonder why he hasn't been given media-savvy lessons. His appearances before the jackals of press and television could be much more successful if he took lessons on the kind of bafflegab clichés lots of jocks learn to string out to keep the media buzzards from flying off with big hunks of their flesh. But this year's version of the Niners is in major self-destruct mode.

ASKING RANDOM VISITORS about the apparently done-deal new County Courthouse, most respond, “What new courthouse?”

WE'RE TALKING about the one no one wants except the judges; the one that replaces the perfectly serviceable existing County Courthouse; the one that will sit at the foot of West Perkins in Ukiah where rush hour traffic already backs up; the architecturally hideous one certain to be a version of the squalid and already abandoned Willits courthouse; the new courthouse consisting only of courtrooms, meaning all ancillary court services will have to scuttle back and forth along two long country blocks; the new courthouse accepted as a done deal by the supervisors and the Ukiah City Council; the new courthouse that is supposed to serve the entire County but is proceeding as if only the judges and Ukiah are involved. And so on.

FEW COUNTY RESIDENTS are aware of the inexorable advance of this massive boondoggle, and the few who are say stuff like, “Well, golly, it's a state mandated and funded thing so how could we stop it?”

IF THE SUPERVISORS and the County's various elected bodies came out against it, the new courthouse might be stopped, but there is no elected anybody who even seems to care. The people driving the new courthouse bus are the local judges (more and more regal by the day in their privileged assumptions) and the state's office of judges, an even more monarchically-inclined bureaucracy funded by fines and other public revenue streams. Google the new courthouses they've built recently, the one in Placer County for instance. That's what we're going to get here.

IF YOU'RE TEMPTED to go see Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, I suggest you not bother. I thought it was awful, but then I only lasted for about 20 minutes, seated before the big screen. The idea of the thing is kind of interesting — the interior life of a guy who's been a big movie star and now he isn't — but it came off, to this lowbrow anyway — as too precious with too much time spent on unpleasant, uninteresting people. The pretentious title should have been the tipoff that I was in for a couple of hours of high pseud, but I missed the hint. Of course the Chron liked it, which was another missed signal that Birdman was almost certain to be a bummer.

YOU ARE CERTAINLY encouraged to see Citizenfour, the documentary film about Edward Snowden, the man who has risked all to tell us the bad news, which is that our government now has the techno means to enslave US now and forever. And, with German complicity, is droning alleged terrorists (and random innocent persons to death via drones) to death with sign-off by the Nobel Peace Prize Winner himself. No amount of tinfoil can keep them out of your house. The film, as a film, could have been at least a half-hour shorter because it shows a lot of stuff extraneous to the narrative, a nevertheless terrifying story terrifying even to those of us who have long assumed the worst about the commitment of the federal government to the health and welfare of everyday citizens. I wanted to get a sense of Snowden, only 29, himself. He convinced me. Very smart, modest, dreading the personal notoriety, the kid's a great American patriot, putting himself all the way on the line to save US our basic freedoms.

LAURA POITRAS, the producer of Citizenfour, nicely summarizes how we got from 9/11 to Snowden's revelations: "Two of the 9/11 hijackers were on the CIA list and had trained with bin Laden in Afghanistan. They came into the country and they failed to notify the FBI. We’re here 13 years later with 13 years of war, $4 trillion of money spent, occupied countries, and it was an intelligence failure that could have been corrected in a different way where we should have said, 'Why did this happen? Some people should get fired, and let’s be smarter about this.' They had a handful of people that hated us, but now they’ve created entire generations. That’s the stuff that drives me crazy—this response of more violence and more war to make us all safer actually creates more violence."


a poem by Crawdad Nelson

This was before anyone was tattooed,

But everyone wanted one. I wanted love tattooed

across my ass, because I was in love.

I wanted a love emblem, but love is not engraved.

I don't know what love is. Nobody does.

I was in love with someone I had just met,

with women I didn't know,

with figures dancing in the midafternoon haze,

shadows, engravings, flowers.

Someone was in love with me. I could sense it.

Love croaked at me from the trees when I went outside.

— Crawdad Nelson

ON OCTOBER THE 15TH, the County’s Retirement/Pension Board lowered the assumed rate of return from 7.75% to 7.25% which will increase the County contribution from $14,527,000 (i.e., well over $14 million) in FY 2014/15 to a projected $18,649,000 (i.e., upward of $19 million) in FY 2015/16 (i.e., July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016). As you can see, even a small reduction in the assumed rate of return increases the annual contribution that must be paid. Each .25% reduction results in an approximate $2 million annual increase for the County and an additional contribution from the employees of about 50% of that amount. Translation: More cost to taxpayers, more from the County's present workforce.

A COALITION of animal protection and conservation groups and a local Mendocino resident (unnamed) filed a lawsuit against Mendocino County today in the Mendo Superior Court for violating the California Environmental Quality Act. The lawsuit challenges the county’s failure to conduct the legally-required environmental review of its $142,356 taxpayer-funded contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Wildlife Services. The contract authorizes Wildlife Services, a highly-controversial federal program, to kill hundreds of animals in the county every year, including coyotes, bears, and foxes, without assessing the ecological impact or considering alternatives.

NEARLY 15 years ago, Marin County replaced its Wildlife Services contract with a nonlethal predator control program that brought a 62 percent decrease in predation at one-third of the cost.

One Comment

  1. Eric Sunswheat December 4, 2014

    “Bailiff Art Barclay reminisced that this wasn’t the first time Gibson Creek took it in the proverbial shorts. Back in the 1980s, he said, a tanker of formaldehyde destined for the Georgia Pacific plywood plant overturned at the Ukiah Train Depot (where Gibson Creek passes under Perkins Street) spilling tens of thousands of gallons of the embalming fluid into the creek.”

    Railroad tanker not overturned, and event did not happen at Perkins Street. Toxic release occurred further south close to Gobbi Street. Vandals opened a valve and the liquid flowed with rainfall in ditch draining eastward. Referencing a map, seems that the diluting chemical ended up intersecting Gibson Creek out flow, at approach to main stem Russian River.

    in part: ‘Most of the formaldehyde went down into a gravel pit, but a drainage ditch under the tanker car carried the deadly liquid east into the Russian River, officials said.’

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