- Mudslide on 253
- Toxic Courthouse Runoff
- Kong/Chen Execution
- Drive-by Shootings
- Bypass Bungle
- PD Sale
- Catch of the Day
- Redwood Classic
- Gag Contempt
- Garbage Men
- Dream Song
- KZYX Notes
- Community Rights
HIGHWAY 253 was blocked last night about 11 when a rock and mud slide across both lines at mile marker 2.0. Caltrans got it cleaned up and the road is open this morning.
COUNTY COURTHOUSE LEAKING TOXIC GOO
The County Courthouse has been getting a new roof during the past few weeks, but on Monday night the crew left a highly toxic adhesive exposed to the elements, and the early morning rain on Tuesday washed it off, down the drain spouts, and into the watershed, Gibson Creek taking the worst of it before firefighters got on-scene and sandbagged the drains, calling in industrial shop vacs to siphon off the poisonous gutter flow. 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. By the time the responding officers got on-scene, it was too late — same thing this week; mitigation efforts were minimally effective. Pickled trout, anyone?
— Bruce McEwen
* * *
Subject: Roof/Building Issues
From: Chris Ruhl
Tuesday, December 02, 2014 10:30 AM
To: Ukiah Staff; All Judges; DA David Eyster; 'Linda Thompson'; Tom Thomas; 'James Scoggins'; Carmen Macias; Carly Dolan. Cc: 'Viri, Patti'; Tom Mistron; Dalrymple, Brent; Marilyn Costa
I have just been updated on all the activity around the building this morning. Apparently the rains are causing the patching material on the roof to dissolve and run off. My understanding is the patching material must be sealed before it comes into contact with water or else it dissolves, and the contractor was not able to seal it before the rains came. So it is running off the roof and into the drains as a white liquid. Unfortunately the liquid contains hazardous chemicals, so the City, County and Fire Department have all become involved to prevent the runoff from flowing into storm drains and waterways. That is why the streets have been closed off. I am told there is no danger to staff or building occupants or visitors as long as you keep clear of areas where emergency crews are working to abate the hazard. The hazard is in the runoff from the roof. The JCC oversees this project and is working with the other entities to correct this. I will update you as I receive more information. Please forward this as you see fit to other affected persons.
Chris Ruhl, Executive Officer
Superior Court of California, County of Mendocino
100 North State St. Ukiah, CA 95482
* * *
UPDATE: I received an email from JCC Facilities Management staff at 2:30 indicating that everything is contained and under control:
- Safe Harbor Environmental is onsite doing sampling, cleanup, and remediation.
- A vacuum truck is taking care of the contaminated runoff collected from dams.
- Roofers are on the roof making sure no further contamination occurs and are double checking the roof for water tightness.
- Fish and Game is on site checking the inlets.
- The Fire Truck has departed.
I will let you know of any significant further changes or developments.
— Chris Ruhl
JIM TAT KONG and Cindy Bao Feng Chen were shot to death in an execution-style shooting in October of 2013 just off Highway 20 near Fort Bragg. The murders are being investigated by both local police and the feds, the latter’s involvement pegged to an apparent assumption the killings may be related to organized crime. Jim Tat Kong was a resident of the East Bay, Cindy Bao Feng Chen lived in San Francisco where she owned an impressive array of real estate.
WHEN A MENDO CASE disappears into the federal maw, in this case the FBI, that's the last Mendo hears of it. Seems to us bad police work. Keeping a crime media-alive in the area where it occurred could shake loose valuable information. Maybe a local saw something and etc. But the way the feds operate, they seem to have filed this one away. If they say anything, it's the hoary, “The matter remains under active investigation.”
KONG WAS 51, Ms. Chen 38. He was from San Pablo, she from San Francisco. They'd each been shot once in the back of the head, execution style. Ms. Chen was in the driver's seat of the van she owned, Kong in the passenger seat. Their killer, presumably, was seated behind them. Sheriff's investigators said they believed the pair had been shot inside the van.
THE TWO WERE found on Thursday, October 17th of 2013 by motorcycle riders who rendezvoused near the old bark dump off Highway 20 about 3 miles east of Fort Bragg before departing on a group ride.
THE MOTORCYCLISTS at first thought the occupants were asleep in the front seats of the van, but when they returned from their ride and the van and its grisly cargo hadn't moved, they called police.
LOCAL POLICE speculated that the victims had been dead no longer than a day and may have been in Mendocino on business of some sort, but produced no evidence of local associates.
THE SEASON OF GIVING began in Santa Rosa early this morning with three gang-related drive-by shootings within a 25-minute period. Homes were struck by bullets but luckily no one was hit. The series of shootings began at 12:29am when a home on the 1300 block of Rutledge Avenue, east of Highway 101, was sprayed by gunfire. Several minutes later, someone shot up a home on the 200 block of Earle Street, on the other side of the highway and less than a mile away. The last incident happened on the 1700 block of Hoen Avenue, about two miles from Earle Street, at 12:54am. The shooter used a handgun in all three incidents, police said.
PREDICTABLY, CALTRANS wants another $64 million “to complete” the 5.9 mile Willits Bypass. Just as predictably Big Orange is blaming its own failure to obtain necessary permits on persons and groups critical of the $144 million (or $208 million, or $? Million) project. Environmental groups have taken legal action against CalTrans to compel the famously inept bureaucracy to abide by the law.
THE CALIFORNIA TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION will consider the request for the additional money at its Dec. 10 meeting.
WORK is about half complete; the Bypass is supposed to open by the summer of 2017.
THE WILLITS CITY COUNCIL'S Madge Strong nicely summed up the Bypass dilemma in this statement to the Press Democrat: “It’s very frustrating that they designed this, and it is more environmentally damaging than it needed to be. It’s not too late. Right now if Caltrans were to say that phase one is all they are going to do, it would be a win-win for Caltrans. It would save money, it would save the public outcry, and it would save wetlands.”
CALTRANS plans a four-lane bypass. Whether two lanes or four lanes, much traffic to and from the Mendocino Coast will still have to pass through much of downtown Willits. The Bypass design, flawed from the beginning and routed through ecologically and archeologically sensitive areas, will do little to reduce traffic through central Willits. Why CalTrans didn't include a Fort Bragg off ramp has been justified by the agency's ineffable spokesman, Phil Frisbie, by dubious studies allegedly showing an east-west off and on ramp in central Willits is not needed. The Willits Bypass is CalTrans’ rural answer to its famously bungled work on the Bay Bridge.
A BIG sign on the lawn in front of the Press Democrat's print plant on the west side of Highway 101 near Santa Rosa, reads, “Land For Sale.” Looks like former congressman Bosco and his pals, the Press Democrat's present owners, are beginning to sell off PD holdings. Was this the Bosco Gang's Plan A all along? The paper as a paper has little value but the various properties that come with it are worth a few bucks.
CATCH OF THE DAY, Dec 2, 2014
RYAN BABITZKE, Vancouver/Willits. Domestic assault.
THOMAS GALINDO, Ukiah. Drunk in public.
JESSE GIBSON, Redwood Valley. Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)
JESSE HUGHES, Willits. Drunk in public, felony vandalism, probation revocation.
ANDREW MAYNARD, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
THOMAS SANDERS, Willits. Illegally acquiring credit cards, receiving stolen property, possession of drug paraphernalia, resisting arrest. (Frequent flyer.)
LOGAN SCHULZE, Willits. Possession of meth for sale, possession of smoking/injecting device, probation revocation.
ALFREDO VEDOLLA, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
MICHAEL WILES, Ukiah. Under influence of controlled substance, parole violation.
Rain, midnight rain, nothing but the wild rain
On this bleak hut, and solitude, and me
Remembering again that I shall die
And neither hear the rain nor give it thanks
For washing me cleaner than I have been
Since I was born into solitude.
Blessed are the dead that the rain rains upon:
But here I pray that none whom once I loved
Is dying tonight or lying still awake
Solitary, listening to the rain,
Either in pain or thus in sympathy
Helpless among the living and the dead,
Like a cold water among broken reeds,
Myriads of broken reeds all still and stiff,
Like me who have no love which this wild rain
Has not dissolved except the love of death,
If love it be towards what is perfect and
Cannot, the tempest tells me, disappoint.
— Edward Thomas
REDWOOD CLASSIC STARTS TODAY (Wednesday).
The three new teams are Liberty Christian, International High School and Round Valley. Anderson Valley plays Valley Christian at 7:30pm on Wednesday night. Other teams in the 16 team line up include: Cloverdale, Laytonville, Valley Christian, Point Arena, Pinewood, California School of the Deaf (CSD), Stuart Hall, Tulelake, Bentley, Hoopa and Branson. The Hoopa-Branson game pits two schools that have done well in the Classic in the past against each other in the first round (Thursday, 8pm) and should be very watchable.
— Mayte Guerrero, AV High Student Sports coordinator
FROM THE ARCHIVE, SEPTEMBER 1997
Geniella & Massini Grilled by Bear Lincoln’s Attorney
by Mark Scaramella
Last Wednesday, one of Bear Lincoln’s several attorneys, Phil DeJong of Ukiah, filed a motion to show cause why the Mendocino County District Attorney’s office should not be held in contempt for violating the strict gag order imposed on the prosecution and defense by Trial Judge John Golden. DeJong cited three articles in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat which either quoted or referred to the District Attorney or “prosecutors in the case.”
The hearing on the motion was conducted last Friday. The first report of it, a pared-down, desanitized version, was delivered by KZYX’s Annie Esposito on Friday night:
“District Attorney Susan Massini was in court today. The Defense says that the DA violated the gag order by giving information about the case to reporters from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. Visiting Judge Carlos Baker heard DeJong’s contention that the DA gave reporter Mary Callahan information about the jury tampering that appeared in the July 3, Press Democrat. He quoted comments that Massini made to reporter Mike Geniella August 28 critical of KZYX’s trial broadcast and a September 10 article that said that deputies Miller and Davis had no previous complaints against them which is not true according to the defense. DeJong said that they can’t set the record straight since they are under the gag order. PD attorney Richard Freeman said that state law protects reporter Mike Geniella from testifying. DA Massini testified that comments about the station were not about the trial itself, and that she might have said something to Geniella before the Gag Ruling. The judge took the matter under submission.”
Well, sort of… Massini and Geniella are undoubtedly pleased by Esposito’s bland account. Jennifer Poole of the Ukiah Daily Journal was more thorough in her Sunday piece, “Defense wants DA held in contempt.”
The Press Democrat itself, predictably, failed to mention that their Ukiah Bureau Chief, Mike Geniella, and Mendocino County’s District Attorney Susan Massini, had finally been asked to explain how they have teamed up to poison public opinion against Bear Lincoln before and during his trial for murder, a man presumed to be innocent of the charges against him under our system of law. KZYX’s and the Journal’s coverage barely scratches the surface of what was actually another low-grade Mendo Courthouse Farce, a rather grisly farce considering a man is on trial for his life.
[ms notes: The trial was over when this hearing was heard; the jury was deliberating and had not yet returned their verdict.]
The hearing began a half-hour late, because, as visiting Judge Carlos Baker explained when he finally arrived, he was reviewing the papers on the complaint. But isn’t this Judge Golden’s case? Isn’t this Judge Golden’s gag order? Where was Judge Golden, the man who issued the gag order? It seems that Judge Golden simply decided he didn’t want to hear the motion, leaving the affable Judge Baker, retired out of Santa Cruz, to fill in for him.
But Judge Baker knew absolutely nothing about the case or its history. When he finally bustled into the courtroom almost an hour late, the judge asked defendant Bear Lincoln, “And you, sir, are Mr. Lincoln?”
“What’s this guy doing here?” someone in the audience whispered. Local judges never seem to have any difficulty eluding cases likely to cause them pain or embarrassment.
Present for the hearing were DeJong and Lincoln plus three back bench defense attorneys from lead attorney Tony Serra’s San Francisco office. Mike Geniella and the PD’s oleaginous attorney, Richard Freeman, DA Susan Massini and her attorney, Jeanine Nadel, of the County Counsel’s office were also present, lawyers on top of lawyers, collectively looking like a great big ball of indignation.
“Why does the County have to pay for Susan Massini’s attorney?” someone in the audience asked. Omerta. Circled wagons. The Brotherhood of Bumblers. Official Mendocino County does no wrong, admits no wrong. It’s them against the world. We pay.
DeJong asked to make an opening statement, explaining the case and the gag order to his new pupil, Judge Baker. DeJong noted that from the outset the media had been deluged with information prejudicial to Mr. Lincoln, including an extremely false (and bizarre) “America’s Most Wanted” segment on national television staged by Sheriff Jim Tuso in Willits, all of which have been sponsored by local law enforcement right up to and including the District Attorney. Yet when the Lincoln trial finally began, the prosecution demanded a gag order; the defense had had virtually no opportunity to dispel the “false statements, accusations, and innuendo” that law enforcement had put out for nearly two years.
The DA and the Sheriff’s Department used Mike Geniella, the local reporter for the New York Times-owned Press Democrat as its primary propagandist. When Geniella wasn’t available to toss the rat poison down the well of public opinion, the Press Democrat assigned Mary Callahan to the task.
DeJong referred to the prosecution’s bringing of a contempt action against the defense (actually against the editor of the AVA who spent two weeks in an isolation cell when he wouldn’t tell the court how the letter got to him) when Bear Lincoln tried to put out his version of events in January of 1996 in the AVA. “The gag order was fairly loose at that time,” said DeJong. “But then, at the prosecution’s request, it was later modified to prohibit any discussion of the case by anyone connected to the case; it was all-embracing.” DeJong added, “In spite of the gag order, the prosecution has continued to provide the Press Democrat and Mike Geniella information on matters prohibited by the gag order.”
DeJong cited a July 3, 1997 PD piece in which DA Massini was quoted saying that there was “no indication” that a prospective juror had been tampered with by a Courthouse bailiff. She told the PD there was “no evidence of a direct violation” when in fact the Juror had been told by the bailiff that Lincoln “had confessed” to shooting and killing deputy Bob Davis.
In a July 27 PD piece Massini was quoted saying that she thought KZYX’s broadcast of the trial proceedings after the prosecution had rested was not in the public interest and “one-sided.” Then, said DeJong, on September 10, “Prosecutors say Davis was an experienced officer familiar with Round Valley and its past. Nevertheless neither he nor Miller had any history of misconduct, according to the prosecution.”
The DA was feeding this stuff to Geniella, the PD was printing it, Judge Golden steadfastly ignored the violations of his own oft-reiterated gag order.
“We know that’s a lie,” said DeJong, referring to the allegedly clean record of deputy Dennis Miller, the surviving officer in the April 14th 1995 shootout during which deputy Davis and Bear Lincoln's close friend, Leonard ‘Acorn’ Peters, were shot and killed. “It’s a lie, a misstatement. Miller was involved in a high-speed chase through a school zone, at Frank Zeek Elementary school and he was counseled and reprimanded. Miller was also found to have used excessive force during a simple muffler/traffic stop in Ukiah. The prosecution knew this and they chose to lie. We are unable to defend against these false statements. Over and over the Sunday paper carries this kind of misstatement.”
DeJong said that jurors would necessarily see this skewed coverage because the PD is the dominant media in the area. When the misinformation was leaked, the defense was outraged to read such lies, he added. “We had no ability to demand retractions. We were barred by the gag order. It needs to stop,” said DeJong, “and the only way to do it is to bring this action. All three are violations of the Gag Order.”
Nadel asserted that of the three citations only one directly quoted Massini and the other articles, which didn’t mention her by name, were not at issue.
When DeJong called Geniella to the stand, his attorney, Mr. Freeman, immediately rose, and introduced himself. Freeman then turned back to Geniella, beckoning him forward with a finger gesture as if Geniella was his pet crow. When Geniella had seated himself in the witness chair, Freeman demanded that a chair be brought forward so he could sit next to Geniella during the questioning. An obese bailiff known informally to the local liberal media as “Fat Frank,” duly lugged a large wooden chair up to the witness stand so the expensively dressed and meticulously coifed Freeman, a kind of sartorial Ken Doll who looks like he does at least an hour a day on his hair, could whisper in his client's ear. On two occasions Geniella put his hand over the witness mike and whispered back and forth with Freeman.
Geniella boldly affirmed that he indeed worked for the Press Democrat, admitting even further that he’d done it for 18 years. When DeJong asked him to read part of one of his articles, Freeman said, “This is silly, your honor.” But Geniella read the Massini quote critical of KZYX.
“Did she make that statement?” asked DeJong. Freeman demanded that the article be entered into evidence. When DeJong agreed, Freeman then said the article was “not the best evidence of what was said.”
Judge Baker asked, “What now?”
“This is secondary evidence,” said Freeman.
“Yes, but it’s evidence of the article,” replied Baker.
“I don’t agree,” said Nadel.
“But the contempt proceeding is against Ms. Massini,” said Baker.
“The gag order was requested by Ms. Massini, over our objections,” said DeJong.
“A public statement was made,” said Baker, “Ms. Massini participated, I take it. You need to prove the context.”
“I’d like to ask if Susan Massini made that statement,” said DeJong.
“Yes, you may ask,” replied Baker.
“Did Susan Massini make that statement?” DeJong asked Geniella.
“The article speaks for itself,” replied Geniella.
“Where were you when she made that statement?” asked DeJong.
Freeman objected, citing the California Shield Law and the Constitution.
“Why do you want to know where he was?” asked Baker, “Does it have something to do with…?”
“On what date did she make that statement?” DeJong asked Geniella.
“I wrote the article the day before,” replied Geniella.
“Did you have a conversation with her the day before?” asked DeJong.
“I decline to answer,” replied Geniella.
“I direct you to answer,” said Baker, “unless you are invoking special privilege.”
Freeman, clearly beguiled by the sound of his own voice, dramatically rose from his chair and started roaming theatrically around the courtroom, chin held high, arms waving: “I wrote a memo of points and authorities and gave it to Judge Golden,” said Freeman, “I have the original here and I’ll submit it to the court.”
“I don’t have this,” replied Baker, leafing through his pile of papers.
“I also faxed a copy to Judge Golden,” said Freeman. “I expected these issues to arise.”
“Oh, here it is, it was covered by a fax cover page,” said Baker. “Do you want to present it or make a brief?”
Freeman then launched into a long, mostly irrelevant speech, striding around the courtroom, his back on the judge, orating to the walls and ceiling, as he claimed that the procedure was punitive against Geniella who had an “absolute right to inform the public” and not reveal a source. “He can authenticate the article though,” said Freeman. Freeman tossed out Section 2B of the California Constitution, the “Willen test,” repeating himself again and again about Geniella’s right not to be ordered by any court to… etc. There was a reference to 5th circuit court 51 Cert. App. 3.190.75.
After Freeman’s pompous display — uncommented on by Judge Baker — DeJong came back to say the court had the power to protect its own processes, such as the Gag Order, adding that the US Constitution, which protects a defendant’s right to a fair trial, took precedence over the Shield Law. DeJong noted that Mendocino is a small community which is very permeable — “there is a sieve effect,” said DeJong, and information can easily get to jurors. “If this isn’t stopped, it will impair the defendant’s right to a fair trial,” added DeJong. DeJong added that the Gag Order prevented the defense from going to the PD and mitigating the effects of the misinformation. “We can’t combat this because of the Gag Order,” complained DeJong.
Finally DeJong asked Geniella again about the Massini statement. “I decline to answer,” replied Geniella.
“Do you want to protect your source?” asked Baker.
“Yes,” replied Geniella.
“I’ll allow the privilege,” said Baker.
“You’re not directing him to answer?” asked DeJong.
“That’s right,” replied Baker.
DeJong then asked Geniella if he wrote the article. “It is accurate as written,” replied Geniella.
“Did she say that to you?” asked DeJong.
“I decline to answer, with the privilege,” replied Geniella.
“I allow the privilege,” agreed Baker.
Geniella admitted he had written the Sept. 10 article with the statements about the deputies’ records. When DeJong probed further, Geniella declined again, and Baker approved.
“No more questions,” said DeJong.
Geniella stepped down and left the courtroom with his attorney.
“I call Susan Massini,” announced DeJong.
“This is very unorthodox,” said Nadel. “You can’t cross Susan Massini.” (Actually, you can, but, as most of us know, there’ll probably be a price to pay.)
Judge Baker asked, “Is she invoking her privilege against self-incrimination? Let’s find out where the DA stands.”
Baker, who seemed amused all along, was laughing out loud at this point. “She’s an officer of the court, she’s dealt with dozens of court orders.” At this point, the Judge’s laughter became contagious and the audience started tittering at the absurdity of the situation.
The bailiff, Fat Frank, didn’t think anything was funny. “If I hear one more outburst I’ll clear this courtroom,” he growled, apparently thinking he had that authority. The tittering from the mostly liberal gallery stopped, but Judge Baker continued smiling and chuckling.
“The burden of proof is on the defendant,” replied Nadel.
“I call Susan Massini,” repeated DeJong. “Will she take the stand?”
After being sworn, Massini took the stand and admitted that she was indeed the District Attorney for Mendocino County. She also admitted making the statement about KZYX in late July. DeJong then asked if she had had a conversation with Mike Geniella regarding the records of Davis and Miller.
“When?” asked Massini.
DeJong asked again if she had ever had such a discussion. Massini admitted to having talked to Geniella but didn’t remember specific topics and dates. “I haven’t spoken to Mike Geniella on that issue for the last year,” Massini said. Massini admitted to being aware of the gag order, but said she wasn’t aware that deputy Miller had “any possible allegations of wrongdoing.” DeJong asked if she had directed her staff to speak to Geniella.
Nadel objected, saying only Massini’s statements were at issue. Nadel asked Massini if she believed she was in violation of the Gag Order. “No. Absolutely not,” replied Massini.
“Did you read the article?” asked DeJong.
“Yes,” replied Massini, adding, “Now I know how it feels to be a witness.”
Massini went on to insist that her statement was an opinion about KZYX, not the trial. “Well, peripherally it was about the trial, yes,” she then admitted the obvious.
Massini then got angry, snarling to DeJong that police officer records are confidential and that she knew he had obtained the information through a “Pitches motion” and that DeJong was only bringing it out in open court because they had no other way to bring it out under the Gag Order. Massini wondered if the purpose of the motion was “to disclose to the 25 or 30 reporters in the courtroom information from Deputy Miller’s personnel file which was confidential.” (It’s not surprising that Massini would be upset about the mention of a couple of blemishes on Miller’s record. The only problem is, the prosecution is the one who made an issue of Miller’s history in the first place, leaking the erroneous claim that he had a spotless record to the PD.)
DeJong had no more questions, and Massini stepped down and ran immediately to the lawyer’s water pitcher for a long drink before resuming her seat.
Then there was another rambling speech, this time from Nadel, in which she tried to order the judge to only consider the KZYX quote, that the statement had no effect on the right to a fair trial. “They’ve fought this gag order all along,” said Nadel, in a clear display of untoward prosecutorial bias from the supposedly neutral County Counsel’s office, “and they’ve been unsuccessful all along. Now they seek to enforce it. I question their true motivation. I question their disclosure in open court of Deputy Miller’s confidential file. They’re just using this procedure to get their side of the story out… I don’t know… Focusing on the KZYX statement is ludicrous.”
DeJong then described Nadel’s statement as “absurd,” adding, “We opposed the gag order from the beginning. That doesn’t countenance the prosecution’s violations of the very order they demanded,” said DeJong. “We have lived with the order, and we expect them to. We have proven that she knew of the order and that she knowingly violated it with regard to the KZYX statement.”
Baker took the matter under submission. “You’ll hear from me shortly,” he added.
“It’s a case where the prosecution thinks the gag order should only apply to the defense,” said one Lincoln supporter on the way out of court. “The PD has demonstrated that they’ll print anything the prosecution or the police say without checking it, so it’s not surprising they’d leak info to the PD.”
* * *
Later in the day I ran into Mike Geniella at Long’s Drugs in Ukiah. I told him that I thought his lawyer was awful and had gotten away with acting disrespectfully toward the judge, but that, unfortunately, the Press Democrat's lawyer was right: the Shield Law applied.
“Lawyers do like to hear themselves talk,” Geniella agreed.
I also told Geniella that I thought that the PD’s coverage of the Lincoln trial had been pretty bad and had clearly poisoned the jury pool. Geniella replied that he was considering an article on alleged jury pool “poisoning,” and that he had recently gone over the list of 220+ articles the PD had written on the case and he felt that taken as a whole they were fair. Geniella gave the example of a mention of Cyndi Pickett’s early statements about what Pickett thought were shotgun wounds to the back of the late Leonard Peters’ head, which was untrue but understandable in the circumstances because the authorities had treated Peters’ remains and his family contemptuously. (Leonard Peters had been shot and killed by deputies Davis and Miller just before Davis was shot and killed himself.) I replied that Pickett’s early statements were obviously speculative and not part of the official defense story — so speculative, in fact, that they may even have hurt the defense in some readers’ minds.
I also asked Geniella if he had read the defense’s change-of-venue motion which clearly proved that the first six months of case coverage were well beyond the legal standard of biased coverage to justify a change of venue, based on the expert’s thorough review of all print, TV and radio coverage up to that time. Geniella didn’t know about the change of venue motion. When I reminded him that it had appeared in the AVA, he asked, “Then why didn’t they get a change?”
“I understand they thought they might get a worse venue,” I replied.
Geniella agreed that that was likely, “Yeah, like Colusa County or something.”
“Are you going to write about today’s proceedings?” I asked.
“No,” replied Geniella. Of course, he couldn’t — Geniella had left the courtroom — again — before Massini even testified.
Geniella walked over to the store's umbrella rack and began trying out various bumbershoots. Isn’t it supposed to be bad luck to open an umbrella indoors?
But what I’d like to know — and what, unfortunately, wasn’t addressed in the hearing — is this: if defense attorneys thought that these leaks were so prejudicial (and I believe they have been), why didn’t they bring them up as they occurred? Isn’t it a little late to be complaining about ongoing leaks?
DREAM SONG 14
Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so.
After all, the sky flashes, the great sea yearns,
we ourselves flash and yearn,
and moreover my mother told me as a boy
(repeatingly) "Ever to confess you're bored
means you have no
Inner Resources." I conclude now I have no
inner resources, because I am heavy bored.
Peoples bore me,
literature bores me, especially great literature,
Henry bores me, with his plights & gripes
as bad as Achilles,
who loves people and valiant art, which bores me.
And the tranquil hills, & gin, look like a drag
and somehow a dog
has taken itself & its tail considerably away
into the mountains or sea or sky, leaving
behind: me, wag.
— John Berryman, 77 Dream Songs
KZYX'S ROLLER COASTER RIDE
by Sheila Dawn Tracy
Fresh on the heels of the return to Pacific Standard Time, the November 3rd meeting of the KZYX Board of Directors began under a cloak of disorienting darkness. Held at the Philo Grange, in close proximity to the station's home base, all but five of the eighteen or so people attending had a connection to KZYX whether it be as staff, programmer or volunteer. This included three members of the reactivated Community Advisory Board (CAB).
All members of the Board were present excepting Director Holly Madrigal and a late entrance by Director Paul Lambert.
The minutes of the July meeting were presented and approved although they contained several inaccurate statements and the serious omission of the agreement of GM John Coate to work with Board member Madrigal in developing written guidelines for the acceptance or rejection of station volunteers. Whether the updated Board policy will encompass standards for volunteer programmers is yet undetermined. The public will have an opportunity to review and give input at a future meeting.
The heady effect of the success of the station's 25th Birthday Celebration on October 11th pervaded the entire meeting like the enticing aroma of Thanksgiving dinner.
Board members dispensed accolades to all who participated in the event, particularly the two co-chairs, Directors Jane Futcher and Meg Courtney. James Sibbet of Comptche was recognized for creating the design for the Anniversary T-Shirts; Johanna Cummings for her effort in researching the names of the original programmers for recognition. Among those who were awarded certificates for their longevity were Susan Juhl, Verge Belanger and Val Muchowski. Coate praised his wife, Hilary, for decorating the venue and filling in where needed throughout the day. Stories of the past and musical entertainment were provided by a long list of programmers both past and present. The paid attendance was 275 people. The event brought in a total of $3500 — $400 from the 50/50 raffle and a sizeable portion from bar proceeds.
The atmosphere throughout the meeting was relaxed and informal. Members of the public were permitted to speak freely outside the framework of the Public Comment period — a welcomed change from the heavy use of the gavel in previous meetings.
Director John Sakowicz, during his Comments to the Board, addressed a lengthy letter to the Board President. It included several sections of California Corporations Code which states the right of any director (and member) to inspect and copy all records of the corporation. Sakowicz had eight questions he wanted to be answered regarding, among others, the current degree of indebtedness of the station and whether the GM had drawn on the line of credit without Board knowledge and approval. He wished to have a clear idea of community support for the station, asking what proportion of donations came from members not associated with the programming or management of the station. He also asked about the status of the renewal of the station's license with the FCC and for the disclosure of staff salaries. Sakowicz asked when the money that was set aside in an escrow account for a Ukiah studio would be restored.
Included in the letter was a formal petition for a grievance hearing regarding Sakowicz's indefinite suspension as a programmer disputing GM Coate's claim that he “knowingly, willfully and feloniously uttered an obscenity on the air.” He asserts the suspension was retaliation for “whistleblowing,” referring to his letter to the FCC in which he stated reasons for objecting to the renewal of the station's license.
Since the station is nowhere close to putting out information in a newsletter explaining controversial issues such as this or on air announcements as was recommended by the CAB in July, this report will detail the circumstances regarding the ongoing struggle between station management and the continuing saga of banished programmers.
Sakowicz explained that the alleged obscenity incident occurred in late June and commenced with an order from the Program Director Mary Aigner to give up control of the engineering console after a call from the program's guest had been dropped several times. Standing a foot behind Aigner and several feet from the board, Sakowicz uttered a single word obscenity fully unaware that Aigner had failed to pot down the studio mic when she took control of the board. He points out as grounds for his appeal that the utterance was ambient sound and received no complaints from the public following the incident.
He further cites a demand by the General Manager that he sign a letter penned by the hand of the same GM, retracting his FCC complaint as outrageous behavior demonstrating a serious lack of Board oversight over the conduct of their employee.
Sakowicz is willing to work out other means of airing his show, All About Money, than by producing it from the Philo studio. It is currently being produced from the KMEC studio in Ukiah and is archived there.
He hopes for resolution of his grievance through an in house administrative process, not desiring to bring further disruption, expense or negative press to the station that litigation would likely initiate.
Sakowicz was the target of a verbal dart by Board member Ed Keller who used the word “evil” to describe Sakowicz's online declaration encouraging listeners to boycott the pledge drive and his decision to not attend the birthday event.
The agenda, set by the Board President, Eliane Herring, had eleven items on it, including roll call and approval of minutes. The ninth was merely a statement that there were no action items requiring a vote. The tenth category, Non-Voting items, had three topics for discussion, the last of which was upcoming Board elections. Its placement at the very bottom of the agenda made it appear to be almost an afterthought. In agendas set by past presidents, Board elections merited their own distinct and separate place as they are still the single, most important direct voice of membership choice.
The Election Coordinator for the 2015 elections will once again be Stuart Campbell. The three open seats are District 1, Ukiah, held currently by Ed Keller; District 5, South Coast, held by the current Board President, Eliane Herring and the At Large Seat now held by Holly Madrigal.
Campbell stated that on air announcements for applications for the three seats will start by the end of November. The deadline for applications is January 30th.
The last day to become a member to vote is December 31st.
According to the Procedure Manual for Board Elections, ballots must be mailed to members by February 28th and the On Air Candidate Discussion held no later than March 15th. Balloting proceeds throughout the month of March.
Candidates are informed of the election results on April 3rd and results should be announced on air and to the press the following day.
Curiously, President Herring chose to single out Bylaw 6.02 to read. It states, “It is the responsibility of each Director to represent the entire community that the station serves.” She seemed to interpret that section to imply that candidates cannot represent a “faction.” However, Bylaw 6.04 regarding eligibility states, “Any member in good standing shall be eligible as a Director, provided that they meet the requirements for the Board seat to which they are elected at the time of the election.”
General Manager's Report
The nine-day fall pledge drive exceeded its goal of $85k. The decision was made to start mid week to take the extra workload off of weekend programmers. Updated figures will be posted on the station's website, kzyx.org.
The station lost money in the first quarter of the fiscal year which is typical for summer months. Coate noted that he did not have to touch the line of credit till late August at which time he withdrew $26,600.
As of September 30th 2014, total income was almost $40k, similar to last year's figures while expenses rose $12k to $113k. Total accounts payable was $63k, reflecting a rise of $3k form the prior year's payable debt and $10k in current debt. The line of credit payable was noted as zero in the GM report which does not reflect the $26k+ Coate previously mentioned as having drawn from it. Accounts receivable (pledges, underwriting and grants) was at $43k, a $13k increase from last year. The checking account balance rose $1k to $3k.
Three pledge drives have been scheduled for fiscal year 2015, the next one begins mid February. KZYX &Z received $132k+ from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) grant, a decrease of $54k from last year, but still higher than grants from 2012 to 2009. Those amounts ranged from $109k to $95k respectively. The amount of the grant corresponds to the station's income from the prior year. 2013 was considered a fiscally successful year by management.
Board member, Jane Futcher asked Coate to clarify the circumstances regarding the $6k raised in 2003 for the Ukiah studio project. He explained that the money was in an account for that specific use when he arrived as GM in 2008. Since the station was in financial difficulty at the time, he asked and received permission from that Board to borrow that money. He has since received two additional grants from “family foundations” which were earmarked for the Ukiah studio totaling $4k, adding up to a total of $10k for that purpose.
The news team of Quinn and Kisslinger have been joined by Lorraine Dechter, the former News Director of Northstate Public Radio in Redding. The addition means more news specials and live reports. Dechter along with Kisslinger, provided election day coverage of the vote count on local races as well as updates on state propositions and office races.
Plans are near completion to provide a service called the KZYX Jukebox which will allow any user of a PC, laptop, tablet or smart phone to listen to any KZYX program on demand. Pacifica provides the service whereby they record the KZYX stream and categorize the program for easy access. Some programs like NPR must be updated daily while local produced music shows will have a two week window for access. Locally produced talk shows will be available for two months. Talk shows are also accessible as podcasts as well as by stream.
The open call in show, Discussion, is now hosted by W.Dan and Stuart Campbell, rotating alternate weeks with Angela DeWitt and her partner, Cobb. Subject matter is largely determined by the callers. A series of programs on water conservation produced by Linda MacElwee is called Water Wise. They are archived on the website.
Two new programs are Cal Winslow's interview based show called The Antinomian Hour and Lapin Frito hosted by Eduardo and Joelle in the Thursday morning 10-12 spot.
DJ Selector J now hosts The Redwood Soul Shakedown on Friday afternoons alternating once a month with Floriane Weyrich's The French Touch. He continues to play R&B and funk on The Sweet Smoke on Wednesday at 10pm.
The Mendocino studio now has a new controls console as the old one had many technical failures.
An increase in content suppliers use of the Internet over satellite systems is the pattern of the future. The station's use of wire based data transmission to connect with other studios, receive news reports or entire programs such as Forthright Radio via Skype makes it more necessary to move the station's main operations to Boonville for better access to phone line transmission. Additionally, Coate described structural problems with the Philo studio which led to water leakage prior to the pledge drive. KZYX's signal should eventually originate from either Willits or Ukiah.
There were several newcomers to the Bd. meeting who didn't give their name or whose name was unclear.
The first to speak was a man who liked the news approach of Dechter who interrupted program with a brief 'Breaking News' report about the AV Health Center. He asked that the station consider a Week in Review wrap up of highlights from that week's news stories.
CAB member, Steve Fish asked for a response on how the station was working on providing listeners with information on internal affairs such as new volunteers, new programs, pledge drive totals, etc. Board member Paul Lambert responded that two people had volunteered to write a newsletter but didn't have enough familiarity with the staff and programmers to be effective. When questioned by Futcher as to his role, he said he saw himself as the editor and technical person to disseminate the information rather than the writer. He continued that he was willing to assist but felt the job needed a volunteer to organize the material. Fish persisted in pursuing the CAB recommendation of on air informational spots. Lambert seemed unfamiliar with the CAB report that was released ahead of the July Board meeting. It seemed clear that the Board had not responded to the recommendations, either as individuals or as a group which Stuart Campbell, Board liaison to the CAB, had stated would occur. It seemed apparent that preparations for the 25th birthday event had precluded any consideration of the two proposals outlined in the report. A programmer of the Farm and Garden show, Valerie, offered her assistance in assembling the newsletter.
Ellen Saxe, another CAB member, offered to meet with Lambert as well to familiarize him with the CAB goal of creating greater involvement and transparency of the station to the community by informative on air announcements of station business.
Although the three minute timer was in use, the formal structure for public comment was abandoned at this meeting. Board members responded to comments and asked questions so it seemed closer to a discussion forum than the format used in previous meetings. When Futcher asked if a digital newsletter would meet the need for more information because it would reach further than the listening audience, I stated my belief that the preferred way for radio listeners to get information is over the air, not through a computer. That remark elicited a response from the Program Director, Mary Aigner who stated that many times after an announcement is made, she will get a call from someone asking a question about what was just announced. She stated, “Radio is very ephemeral.” She thought an E-newsletter was a good idea but the timing should be determined by the amount of information to be dispersed. She added that radio segments had to be produced by someone and doing so would put an added responsibility on staff. (Staff that is currently functioning without a News Director.) She felt it needed to be more carefully thought out if it was to be broadcast.
Bob Bushansky, the third CAB member present gave an example of when the station lost power for several days making it necessary for the Operations Manager to drive up to Laughlin Peak. In doing so, he became stuck in snow up to his vehicle's hubcaps. Bushansky thought this was the type of human interest story that listeners would appreciate.
My comment to the Board was to question whether CPB money could be used to create local programming rather than paying down debt or buying equipment as has been the station's practice. I also stated that I had asked and received from a previous Board, a six-month schedule of Board meeting dates and locations. I felt it negatively affected the general public's ability to attend when no there is no regular schedule followed. I pointed out that changes in the schedule have not been made with adequate public notice.
I also disagreed with the Board's decision to change from a six meeting yearly schedule to a quarterly one. With a six meeting schedule, the location of the meeting would rotate with the seasons so that the Willits meeting would not always be in July during the heat of summer and the coastal meeting would not always be during the harshest weather of winter.
I reminded the Board that they had budgeted $9k for the Ukiah studio in the 2013 budget. I asked where that money went. If it hadn't been absorbed into the general fund, the Ukiah studio would now have $19k in reserve.
I concluded with the opinion that the station needed to hire a News Director as has happened for the 23 years before the more recent use of “consultants.” Such a system puts those doing the hard work of news gathering in a separate category from staff with less benefits and salary. I thought a News Director could easily do station informational spots as a part of the job.
Scott Roscoe of Philo spoke next. He applauded the Board, staff and programmers for providing a community necessity and believed they were doing an excellent job. He commented on the lack of appropriate family programming for his eight year old. He thought the best times for that type of programming were after dinner and weekends. Aigner stated that the station once had a program called By Kids, For Kids in which the youngsters themselves determined the program content.
Volunteer and programmer, Beth Lang said that working with the station's staff and volunteers offset the negative energy that Board member Sakowicz brought to the station. She added that it saddened her to read his letters in the local paper.
No mention of the next Board meeting was made available either at the meeting or through calls to the station for that information.
MENDOCINO COUNTY COMMUNITY BILL OF RIGHTS WINS, FRACKING LOSES
On November 4, 2014, Mendocino County became the first California community to prohibit fracking through adopting a Community Bill of Rights, which places the rights of people and their ecosystem above corporate interests. With the final count in, Mendocino County voters passed Measure S by a huge 70% - 30% margin, declaring and securing the unalienable right to local community self-governance, the right of natural communities and ecosystems to exist and flourish, the right to clean water, air, and soil, and the right to be free from chemical trespass. Measure S was passed in recognition that fracking is a clear violation of those rights.
Community Rights Network of Mendocino County, CRNMC (www.CRNMC.org), Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (www.CELDF.org), and Global Exchange (www.globalexchange.org/), partnered on Measure S. Peter Norris (Community Rights of Willits-CROW), spearheaded several events, including CELDF's Democracy School, Paul Cienfuegos' workshops (www.PaulCienfuegos.com), and Willits community meetings that began the ordinance process. Volunteer Jamie Lee said: "Who knew back then that we would be celebrating this victory today. This is only the beginning of local self-governance for us up here in Mendocino, the first step of many toward changing the rules about 'who decides' what happens here. WE do."
Norris added, "Mendocino County voters have made history with a precedent-setting Community Rights Ordinance… We reject the notion that corporations are people, (and that they have the constitutional right to plunder our resources for their profit), and also reject the unjust practice of state and federal preeminence over local governments."
CRNMC worked tirelessly from last February through November 4 to pass Measure S. The process included writing the ordinance, collecting signatures for the ballot, hosting public educational events, writing letters to the editor, painting lawn signs, and going door-to-door with the message that decisions about water protection in Mendocino County belong to residents.
The organizing group worked to allow for input from members in a highly democratic grassroots manner. They experimented with methods of consensus for decision making so all voices were heard. Mendocino is a large county; organizers worked from town to town to spread the word. Everyone involved in Measure S was a volunteer.
CRNMC volunteer Ali Boecker said, "This is history in the making, We The People of Mendocino County have voiced our right to decide what happens where we live, and have taken a huge step in placing the Rights of Nature and the Ecosystem into the language of the laws we create. This is very exciting and a truly remarkable moment in reclaiming rights in California and the United States!"__ Mendocino County joins the Community Rights Movement, which includes more than 160 other communities that have passed Community Rights measures.
— Ali Boecker for the Community Rights Network of Mendocino County