- Citizen O'Brien
- Professional Democrats
- Noir Film Festival
- Top US Surnames
- Catch of the Day
- Chasing Counterfeits
- The Philosopher
- The Old Homestead
- Hellish Ransom
- Benevolent Fisherman
DOUG LOSAK, Interim County Counsel for Mendocino County, seems stuck on the hamster wheel of pointless posturing with the current spat with Citizen O'Brien being only the most recent example. Two years ago, just two weeks after being appointed Interim County Counsel for the first time, Losak was pulled over for speeding with an unregistered gun and a bag of marijuana stuffed under the front seat.
LOSAK RESIGNED from the interim position in disgrace, but managed to keep his high paid County job. He was later promoted to “Acting” County Counsel when his replacement quickly proved to be a bust and abruptly resigned following a performance review. Losak struggled from the beginning to advise the Supes on basics like how many votes it takes to pass a motion. But things went smoothly enough until Losak was promoted to “Interim” County Counsel. No one from the County has ever explained the difference between acting and interim except interim pays a lot more.
THE SUPES TRIED to push through a 30% raise for Losak on the Consent Calendar, usually reserved for non-controversial items. Sheriff Allman immediately said it was an insult to his deputies to consider any raise for Losak. District Attorney Eyster told the Supes in detail that Losak was not a very good lawyer and that calling him “interim” was a end run around their own policies that limited raises for “acting” appointments to no more than 5%. In the end, Losak was given a 10% raise, which was still a huge slap in the face to all county employees who not only continue to work with their ongoing 10% wage cut, but manage to show up for work each day without getting booked into the jail between shifts.
BOARD CHAIR JOHN PINCHES, in a departure from his usual common sense approach, came out strongly in favor of the Losak raise, claiming Losak was doing an “extraordinary” job for the County. And how has Losak done since? When Library Advisory Board member Jonathan Middlebrook made a Public Records Act request for the resume of a consultant hired for the library, Losak said the records were protected as a personnel matter. Middlebrook sued, at which point Losak said the County never had the records. After months of jousting back and forth the County settled the lawsuit by producing the records it said it didn't have and paying Middlebrook $2,000 for attorney fees.
CITIZEN DENNIS O'BRIEN initially sued the County claiming a Sheriff's Deputy threatened to arrest a petition signature gatherer at Raley's and that O'Brien was denied his First Amendment right to sign the petition. Sheriff Allman and Deputy County Counsel Terry Gross signed off on an agreement that said the Sheriff would adopt a training manual for deputies on the topic and that each side would pay its own attorney fees.
THE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT also said the Board of Supes had to approve it. Meanwhile, O'Brien signed the agreement and dismissed his original lawsuit. O'Brien has been trying ever since to find out if the Supes actually voted to approve the agreement. And if so, what was the vote? Interim County Counsel Losak wrote a letter on Dec. 16 saying the Supes approved the settlement agreement, but in court on Dec 19 Losak claimed the Supes never vote on such matters but only “give direction to staff.”
JUDGE RICHARD HENDERSON ruled against the County's effort to get the lawsuit tossed out, instead setting it for a Mandatory Settlement Conference on Feb. 25 and urging the parties to resolve the matter in the interim. O'Brien, in what passes for a press release yesterday, neatly sums up the issue: “Judge Rules Supervisors Must Disclose Vote — But Did They Vote?” Second District Supervisor John McCowen, quoted in the Ukiah Daily Journal (below), says the Supes “never saw or voted on the settlement agreement” and if they had, he “would be the first to insist that the vote be made public.”
INSTEAD of keeping his clients off the front page, Losak has managed to become the story himself on an on-going basis. And he has cost the County money in the process. First, by protecting what he said were non-existent documents only to produce them after the County was sued. And now by saying the Supes approved an agreement that at least one of the Supes says they never saw.
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Mendocino County judge overrules county's objection to lawsuit — Mandatory settlement conference set for February 25
By Adam Randall, the Ukiah Daily Journal
A Mendocino County Superior Court judge has overruled the county's objection to a lawsuit filed by a local resident that alleged the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors failed to report-out details of a closed session discussion, which the resident, Dennis O'Brien, believes is against open meeting laws, commonly referred to as the Brown Act.
Judge Richard Henderson notified both O'Brien and the Board of Supervisors via county counsel before Christmas that the demurrer, or objection, previously filed by the county, is overruled by the court, and a mandatory settlement conference has been set for Feb. 25 at 1:30 p.m. in Superior Court. However, Henderson has encouraged an agreement to be worked out between both involved parties before the impending court date. The county now has 20 days from Dec. 24 to respond to the court's decision.
O'Brien filed the lawsuit in September, alleging the Board of Supervisors failed to properly report its approval and disclose individual votes to the public of an agreement to settle a prior action brought by O'Brien against the county in February 2013.
O'Brien accused the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office at the time of violating his First Amendment rights after he was threatened by a sheriff's deputy with arrest if he didn't leave the front of the Raley's store in Ukiah, where he was signing a petition.
O'Brien reached a settlement with Sheriff Tom Allman on new training procedures and departmental policies for the Sheriff's Office regarding petitioning in public places. The agreement was then signed off by Allman, O'Brien and then-Deputy County Counsel Terry Gross in February 2014, and had sought final approval by the Board of Supervisors before being executed by the court in exchange for dismissal of the case.
However, Henderson said the Board of Supervisors' minutes from Feb. 17, 2013 only state that "directions" were given to staff, and an e-mail from Gross on Feb. 10, 2013 stated the board "will sign-off" on the settlement agreement between O'Brien and the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.
"The agreement itself was not executed by the chairman or members of the Board of Supervisors, but by an independent elected official, the sheriff of Mendocino County, Tom Allman," said Henderson in his recent ruling.
Mendocino County 2nd District Supervisor John McCowen said the current controversy stems from the mistaken belief that the Board of Supervisors "voted" to approve the agreement.
"The board never saw or voted on a settlement agreement," McCowen said. "If we had, I would be the first to insist that the vote be made public."
Instead, McCowen said the board heard a report and directed staff to "try and settle the suit within recommended limits." Further, McCowen said he had no idea why county counsel included a condition that the final agreement must be approved by the board.
"The lawsuit never needed to come to the board in the first place because it was well within the authority of staff and the sheriff to settle it on their own terms," McCowen said.
At the Dec. 5, 2014 hearing on the county's demurrer, O'Brien said he would dismiss the matter as long as the Board of Supervisors provided a letter stating the approval of the settlement. Then on Dec. 19, Judge Henderson acknowledged that Interim County Counsel Doug Losak submitted a letter stating that the board did approve the settlement to comply with O'Brien's request.
O'Brien then said he wouldn't dismiss the suit unless the board also reported the votes of each board member present at the closed session meeting, Henderson's ruling stated.
The letter in question submitted by Losak states, "The Board of Supervisors considered Mendocino County Superior Court case SCUK CV 13-61758 in closed session and approved a tentative settlement agreement, subject to approval and acceptance by you [O'Brien]. You signed this agreement on Feb. 20, 2014."
O'Brien said Losak's letter, along with Losak's statement at the Dec. 19 court hearing when he addressed Henderson and said the board doesn't formally vote on like items, "contradicts what county counsel has been saying since last February."
Henderson said the court now considers the matter to be "moot," or debatable, since county counsel said at the end of the closed session in question the board 'simply gave a general settlement direction to its counsel without a formal vote.'
"All they have to do is tell me the vote of each supervisor and I will dismiss the case," O'Brien said via e-mail. "While they're at it, they should tidy up their voting procedures for all actions taken in closed session so that the public can know who is voting for what."
(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)
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DENNIS O'BRIEN'S ongoing Brown Act struggles are of major importance to all of us. He's going for transparency, that public agencies do their business in public. For a long time now the supervisors, to name the most egregious offenders, do a lot of stuff in closed session. We, Mr and Mrs John Q. Public, have a right to know which supervisor votes which way on these matters. Pour it on, Dennis!
THE HEADLINE over Willie Brown's column in the Sunday Chron: “Clinton, Bush: Skip fluff, seek substance.” The Mayor seems excited at the prospect of the looming dynasty showdown, but I'll bet the prospect of a choice between these two — Russian roulette with no empty cylinders — causes most Americans, whatever their political views, only despair. As for fluff, Franklin Roosevelt was the last American president to tell Americans the true state of the union, and the last president who knew what to do to save capitalism from itself.
HIS LAST SENTENCE in Brown's Sunday piece seemed an inadvertent give away as to the diff between the two parties, and the diff between high end professional Democrats and the rest of us: "…But this time out, the GOP's business backers see victory on the horizon and are not going to let the ship be hijacked by the plaid-suit crowd.”
THERE ARE, YOU SEE, cool people like me, the Clintons and the rest of us Feinstein-Pelosi-Newsom Democrats and you off-the-rack schlubs, whatever your politics. To the tumbrils! All of them!
RECOMMENDED VIEWING: Eddie Muller's Noir Film Festival at the Castro Theater, an annual event now in its 13th year. Opening night is January 16th with two Frisco-filmed doozies, “Woman on the Run” and “Born To Be Bad.” BTW, Muller is one of the best noir-ish writers and just plain writer-writers around. He's especially good at re-creating pre-War San Francisco in his boxing-themed books, as you can read for yourself in his “Shadow Boxer.” Muller's one of these unsung genius types who doesn't get the recognition he deserves, probably because he refuses to shove himself upfront in a much less talented herd. The Noir Festival is lots of fun, and the Castro Theater is a delight in itself. (eddiemuller.com)
TOP 24 SURNAMES IN THE UNITED STATES:
CATCH OF THE DAY, Jan 4, 2014
JOSHUA BENNETT, Fort Bragg. Possession of meth for sale and sale of meth, unlawful registration, driving on invalid license, evasion, probation revocation.
CHRISTIAN CISNEROS, Ukiah. Drunk in public.
DONNA ELLARD, Redwood Valley. Petty theft, failure to appear, probation revocation.
PETER FENNELL, Redwood Valley. DUI.
HEIDI HORNSBY, Ukiah. Burglary, contributing to delinquency of minor, conspiracy.
CHARLES MARTIN, Fort Bragg. Receiving stolen property.
CHRISTOPHER MCNEILL, Fort Bragg. Vehicle theft, probation revocation.
JAMES MILES, Ukiah. Under influence of controlled substance, possession of smoking/injecting device, probation revocation.
BRYCE MITCHELL, Laytonville. Drunk in public.
JESSE RIVERA, DUI-Drugs, possession of more than an ounce of pot.
JEFFREY SHAFFER, Hopland. Drunk in public.
DUSTIN SIEDENTOPF, Clearlake. Under influence and possession of controlled substance, resisting arrest.
PATRICK TAYLOR, Ukiah. Drunk in public.
GETTING RIPPED OFF VIA CRAIGSLIST
is a Lot of Work: A Cautionary Tale
by Ryan Burns
In retrospect, the transaction was kind of strange. But then again, aren’t they usually a bit odd when they originate from Craigslist? It certainly wasn’t strange enough to tip me off that $160 of the $169 I’d just pocketed were fake, nothing more than high-quality photocopies (high enough for my dumb ass, anyway).
I had posted an ad for our old 37-inch Toshiba Regza TV just hours earlier. The woman who responded said she’d head right over, but 45 minutes later she’d yet to arrive. I called her back on the cell number she’d given me and the man who answered said they were almost there, just trying to find the place.
A few minutes later the woman walked in our front door, trailing the sour chemical bouquet of cigarettes. The man who’d driven her waited behind the steering wheel of the white van parked at the curb. This was last Sunday, and the coaxial cable I’d screwed into the back of the set was transmitting a football game. I figured anyone buying a used TV would want to make sure it worked and had a decent picture. (Customer service!) But the woman gave the screen only a cursory look before asking, “How much did you want?”
“One-seventy-five,” I reminded her.
“OK,” she replied without meeting my eyes. “I have one-fifty. I’ll run to the ATM and get another 20. That OK?”
“Sure,” I said. “One-seventy is fine.”
When the white van pulled up again 10 minutes later, I gripped the TV awkwardly under my right arm, hauled it out the front door and eased it into the back of the van, screen-side up. (There you go, ma’am!) The woman hastily pulled out some bills and counted them from one hand to the other — a hundred, three 20s, a five and four ones for a total of $169. “I have a dollar in quarters if you want it,” she said.
“Nah, that’s OK,” I replied, taking the wad of paper. “Enjoy!”
Three days later my wife was feeding cash into the ATM outside our bank, and the machine (measurably smarter than I am) refused to swallow four of the bills — a hundred and three 20s. So my wife took them inside to the teller, who explained the bad news. The branch manager came over and showed her the clues I should have seen. For one thing, the serial number on all three 20s was identical. Also, the bills were a bit too small, the paper was wrong, and the high-tech security features now embedded in our currency — watermarks, glowing threads, color-shifting ink — were missing.
The bank manager then spent several minutes filling out paperwork to be submitted with our funny money to the U.S. Secret Service, a division of the Department of Homeland Security. And she suggested that we file a police report.
If only it were that easy.
This morning my wife and I walked into Eureka Police Department headquarters with a copy of our Counterfeit Note Report, hoping to order an extra-large serving of sweet, sweet justice. We had a description of the perpetrators and of the property they’d swindled us out of; plus I still had their cell number stored in my phone. Surely the detectives would have these lowlifes in cuffs before lunchtime, reasoned my irrational inner child.
Instead, the officer at the window offered a look of vague annoyance.
“Where are the bills?” he asked.
“The bank took them,” we explained.
“Hmm,” he replied while perusing our paperwork. “Usually they give them to us.”
Eventually the officer explained that, since the bank had sent the bills off to be verified as forgeries by the Secret Service, technically there was no crime yet. Or at least no evidence of one. “You should go back to the bank,” he said. “See if they’re willing to have one of our officers go pick [the fake bills] up.” Even if the bank doesn’t have them anymore, he said, “just come back and we’ll get a report started for you.”
Back at the bank, the manager told us that the bills had indeed already been mailed to the San Francisco office of the Secret Service. We explained, rather pitifully, that we had information about the perpetrators. My inner child was screaming inside my head now: “Someone catch the bad guys!”
The bank manager kindly Googled the Secret Service to get a contact phone number, which she wrote on a Post-it and stuck to our photocopied Counterfeit Note Report. On our way back out the door, three cheery bank employees wished us a good day.
When we walked through the swinging doors at Eureka Police headquarters, only a dispatcher sat behind the counter. He raised his hand to shield his eyes from the bright morning sun rays that accompanied us through the door. Recognizing us from 20 minutes earlier, the dispatcher, a young man in a zip-up track suit, got up from his chair and walked behind a partition to speak with someone. When he shuffled back around the wall, looking put out, he said, “I know Officer Bishop told you to come back? But they’re saying that now it’s between your bank and the Secret Service.”
So that was it. Try as we might, we couldn’t get anyone local to go look for these swindlers. I tried a few other tactics. I used a reverse phone directory online, hoping to get a name or address. No dice. I checked Craigslist again to see if they were trying to fence the TV. Nope. I called local pawn shops, whose employees were universally sympathetic. They took my information and said they’d call if a matching TV came in, but so far, no.
I even called the phone number of the thieves, hoping to dupe them into revealing their identities.
“Hi, uh, is Jeff there?” I asked when a man picked up.
“No, you have the wrong number,” he said gruffly.
“Oh, sorry,” I responded, desperately trying to come up with another brilliant question. “Um, say, whose phone is this?” I asked lamely.
“Mine,” the guy said.
Shit. Foiled again.
So now my wife and I can only wait for a suit in Frisco to receive our report in the mail. Maybe we’ll get a call; maybe we won’t. We certainly don’t expect to get reimbursed that $160. (Hey, at least the other nine bucks were real!) And our hopes for sweet, sweet justice have dwindled to almost zilch. So, lacking any other outlet, I’ve written this as a cautionary tale for my fellow Craigslisters: Take a moment in your cash transactions to casually check for glowing threads, ghostly watermarks and color-shifting ink. Those things are your friends.
THE OLD HOMESTEAD
Up and down the old homestead
The naked rider gallops through his head
And although the moon isn't full
He still feels the pull
Out on the floor where the cowboys dance
Approaching slowly at a glance
Here comes the shadow of his stance
The reins are fallin' from his hands
Why do you ride that crazy horse?
Inquires the shadow with little remorse
Just then a priest comes down the stairs
With a sack of dreams and old nightmares
Who are you, the rider says
You dress in black but you talk like a Fed
You spout ideas from books that you read
Don't you care about this guy's head?
Just then the sound of hoofbeats was heard
And the sky was darkened by a prehistoric bird
Who flew between the unfulfilled moon
And the naked rider to a telephone booth
We'll call the moon and see what's up
I've got some change in this little tin cup
We'll say that the shadow is growin' dim
And we need some light to get back to him
Just one call should do it all
I'll carve this number on the wall
With my beak
Flying feathers were all around
The air was filled with a ringing sound
Two more birds, the second and the third
Came down from the sky to deliver the word
Where have you been, they said to the first
Get back to the clouds, we're dying of thirst
There's not enough time to make that call
Let's ditch this rider, shadow and all
The sky was filled with the beautiful birds
Still on the ground some crying was heard
With his dime in his hand and his hand on the dial
His ears were sweating as he forced a smile
Hoofbeats beating across the range
He rode through the night with his cup of change
Tired and beaten, he fell into slumber
But up in the sky they still had his number
Up and down the old homestead
The naked rider gallops through his head
And although the moon isn't full
He still feels the pull,
Still feels the pull
MANUEL VICENT ON PURGATORY
Merely Venial: The source of all the Church’s wealth and all of its corruption is, paradoxically, venial sin. Its creation made necessary the existence of Purgatory, which has become a much more lucrative business than all of the companies of Ibex 35 or Dow Jones.
Venial sin is merely a juggling act designed by some genius of economics. Those who die in God’s grace, but who have not been completely purified, may not enter the Kingdom of Heaven; however, a minor flaw does not merit condemnation to eternal fire.
Heaven and Hell are the final stops of an irreversible journey. It was necessary to create, between the two points, a holding area for those blessed souls in transit — a kind of Ellis Island whose exit to The City of God, the Celestial Manhattan, was achieved through the imposition of tolls that could be satisfied through masses, novenas, and indulgences paid for in cash or through endowments and donations of personal properties and real estate bequeathed to the Church.
The lost soul is normally a loved family member and this obliges the believer to resort to ransom to free him from the processing center of Purgatory.
Since the beginning of Christianity, there have been sinful kings and miscreant counts who have built temples, created monasteries and abbeys, and proffered privileges upon members of clergy in exchange for pardoning their crimes and promising prayers for their souls after death; there were confessors who were specialists in altering the last will of dying landowners and wearing down the resistance of rich widows until exacting from them the title to their lands.
This pillage would not have been possible without the existence of Purgatory, the invention that has generated the most undeclared income in western history with no investment. This is truly a pulling of a rabbit out of a hat. From venial sin and the slow heat of a bain-marie annulled by small contributions, the Church owes all its corruption and its enormous wealth.
(Translated by Louis S. Bedrock)
THE AVA'S VERY OWN HONORED BY INDUCTION INTO OUTDOORS HALL OF FAME
Record-Holding Angler Tops State Outdoors Hall Of Fame Class
By Tom Stienstra
A Bay Area angler who gained world renown when he caught and released two world-record fish was the leading vote getter last week for induction into the California Outdoors Hall of Fame.
Armand Castagna of San Rafael was named on 80 percent of the ballots. He will be inducted Saturday at the Sacramento International Sportsmen’s Exposition at Cal Expo, which runs Thursday through next Sunday.
Unlike baseball’s Hall of Fame, which is voted on by writers, the primary voters for the Outdoors Hall of Fame are members, the “Circle of Chiefs.” Candidates must be named on at least 60 percent of ballots to gain admission.
All candidates must be nominated through the Hall of Fame website, http://caloutdoorshalloffame.org, and must fulfill two requirements to make the ballot:
- They have to have inspired thousands of Californians to take part in the great outdoors and/or conservation, typically doing so outside their primary job.
- And they have to have taken part in a scope of adventures that extends outside the primary region where they live.
In addition to Castagna, this year’s class includes Dan Bacher of Sacramento and Roy Weatherby of Los Angeles. Bacher is a watchdog conservation writer who has ventured to hundreds of lakes and streams across California. Weatherby, who was selected posthumously, was the inventor of modern ballistics and founder of the Weatherby Hunting and Conservation Award.
A world-renowned angler, bay and ocean skipper, communicator and conservationist, Castagna pioneered a catch-and-release approach to world-record fish after returning a 32-pound, 8-ounce steelhead to the water in 2000.
He filmed the release of that potential record-setter but was denied the standard by the International Game Fish Association because he didn’t kill the fish. Castagna pressed the issue and created a worldwide debate on the ethics of trophy fishing, prompting the association to set standards for registering potential world-record catches that have been released.
Two years after that catch, he released another world-record steelhead (28.5 pounds on 8-pound line), and this time he was awarded a game fish association world record in a watershed moment.
In the 1980s, to the disbelief of many, Castagna had begun releasing steelhead and other elusive trophy fish that he caught. He knows there were some who thought he was crazy. Now, however, many anglers from Northern California to Alaska release their trophy catches.
“Why would you kill what you love the most and then remove the very genetics that inspire you?” Castagna asks. “I release them to fight again another day and to pass on their world-class DNA to their progeny.”
Castagna’s special charter trips aboard his boat on San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean have attracted numerous celebrities, including former manager Dusty Baker and other members of the Giants. Rather that running standard-timed trips, day in and day out, Castagna custom-designs each trip according to that day’s tides, feed conditions and fish patterns.
Castagna is also a teacher. He has produced two films on steelhead fishing (in which all the fish are released), published more than 40 articles, provided free seminars across California and the Northwest, and donated fishing trips and equipment to youth organizations.
He promotes a conservation message in everything he does, from fighting for adequate flows on the Trinity River to the net-pen release of juvenile salmon in San Francisco Bay. He is renowned for his fishing expertise and leadership in catch-and-release fishing, yet his impact on people, one at a time, is also recognized by anybody who has met him.
California’s foremost “watchdog” journalist for fisheries and conservation, Bacher writes a far-reaching column that appears on websites and in newspapers and e-mail lists across the western United States. He takes on politicians, government agencies and their appointed directors, corporate agribusiness interests and big oil companies — “anybody who does harm to California’s natural resources and fisheries,” Bacher said.
“The biggest problem we face in the battle to restore our fish populations is that agribusiness, big oil, developers and other powerful corporate interests wield enormous influence over the government agencies that are supposed to guard our natural resources,” Bacher said.
His stories include identifying the first salmon deaths in 2002 on the Klamath River in a fish kill that went on to number 70,000 adult salmon.
Bacher is a founding member of both the California Inland Fisheries Foundation and Restore the Delta, and he promotes American Indian cultures and rights. He has also served on the board of directors for United Anglers of California, the California Water Impact Network and Water for Fish.
He is best known as the 30-year editor of Fish Sniffer, a biweekly newspaper for anglers. He used that position as a springboard to visit hundreds of lakes and streams, and in the process has become one of California’s most traveled anglers. His adventures span from Canada to Central America, where he has caught and released many exotic species of fish.
Stoked by a fascination in ballistics and firearms, Weatherby’s experiments in his Los Angeles garage in the 1940s led to creation of the Mark V action rifle for Weatherby Firearms. It is still considered the world’s strongest bolt-action rifle, and the name Weatherby is world famous among hunters.
His early ballistic experiments proved that lightweight bullets traveling at high speeds perform better than heavier bullets fired at low velocity, which revolutionized the gun industry. Weatherby developed several high-speed cartridges, all of which are still popular and bear his name, such as the .300 Weatherby Magnum. To test his creations, Weatherby hunted from the Arctic Circle to Africa.
He also devoted his life to wildlife conservation. In 1956, he created the Weatherby Hunting and Conservation Award, which recognizes efforts to educate the non-hunting public about the beneficial role of ethical sport hunting, especially its contributions to wildlife conservation.
His foundation, the Weatherby Foundation, has sponsored more than 1 million people in events in 19 states that emphasize a combination of shooting along with wildlife conservation and education.
Weatherby died in 1988 at the age of 77.
(Courtesy, the San Francisco Chronicle)