Mendocino County Today: Mon, Jan 12, 2015

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THE NEW UKIAH COURTHOUSE (annotated)

Ed note: The following sales pitch for a new County Courthouse by Judge David Nelson is annotated by Bruce Anderson.

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Plans for a new Ukiah courthouse at the old railroad depot site continue to move forward. In cooperation with the state Judicial Council, we will be constructing a modern, secure courthouse with eight courtrooms (for our eight judges and one part-time commissioner) to handle all case types, including criminal, civil, family, traffic, juvenile and probate. Improved security features will include separate hallways for the public, court staff and those in custody, adequately sized holding areas for in custody defendants, secure elevators from holding to the court rooms, and a secure sally port for their entrance and exit by vehicle to/from the jail. The three-story building will also provide adequate space for our 57 staff members as well as basic services including a self-help center, appropriately sized jury assembly and deliberating rooms, a children’s waiting room, family court mediation, and attorney interview/witness waiting rooms.

Ed note: All other ancillary services will remain in the present courthouse, requiring the DA, for instance, to shuttle back and forth from the center of town to the new structure three blocks to the east. The new courthouse will seriously harm central Ukiah's perennially struggling businesses. The project is "moving forward" despite no one other than the overlarge contingent of Mendocino County judges, nine of them for a population of roughly 90,000 people. The present courthouse is, however imperfectly from the judges' perspective, perfectly serviceable. This same cast of characters insisted on a new Courthouse for Willits which, after a mere two decades of use, is now abandoned. It, as the new structure, was and is a major eyesore.

THE PROBLEM

A new courthouse is needed for many reasons. The present courthouse consists of the original courthouse on School Street constructed in 1928 and an addition built in 1949. They are connected by corridors and stairways. The result is a dangerous building that is not functional in many ways. Renovation of the existing courthouse was investigated but the building is in such poor physical condition with severe safety issues, that renovation was deemed impossible.

Ed note: By whom? The new courthouse will cost upwards of $200 million. A portion of that could not have remedied structural deficiencies?

A primary problem is lack of security. Prisoners are dropped off in a public street outside the courthouse and walked in hand cuffs and chains through public hallways and up the one elevator that is shared with the public. When I was the juvenile court judge, I saw the juvenile offenders, who were by law entitled to a closed confidential hearing, being marched in cuffs and chains through public hallways. Jurors assembling in crowded hallways have violent felons passing through their midst. The mixing of inmate defendants and the public in the hallways of the courthouse is a threat to the safety of the public and court staff. This problem is not fixable by any secure elevator system because there is no sally port for entrance and all the courtrooms are spread out in different corners of the courthouse.

Ed note: Boo-hoo. Over the past 50 years there has been only one security scare, which occurred when a mommy tried to slip her murdering son a handgun as the son was being led into the courthouse. The judges create their own "security" problems by refusing to do most preliminary hearings and arraignments at the County Jail. It's time consuming and costly to be constantly ferrying prisoners back and forth from Low Gap Road to the center of Ukiah.

Another problem is a lack of access for disabled persons. The three court rooms in the old part of the building are not accessible to anyone with physical disabilities. There are 15 stair steps between a litigant and the juvenile and traffic courts.

Ed note: Please. Every public building in the country has been retrofitted to accommodate the handicapped.

Additionally, the existing courthouse is not safe in an earthquake. When the state took over control of the court facilities in 2003 they surveyed the courts around the state. They determined that our court house was a Level V risk, which meant retrofitting to current earthquake standards was not economically feasible. The recent Napa earthquake and its effect on its historic courthouse adds new meaning to the concern for an earthquake safe court house.

Ed note: No one and no building is safe in a major earthquake, not seen in Ukiah since 1906. Structures can also be retrofitted to make them stronger should a major quake occur.

SOME HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

Courthouses and trial court funding used to be the responsibility of each county. Legislation in 1997 transferred responsibility for funding trial courts from the counties to the state. In 2002, the state also took responsibility for trial court facilities such as courthouses. The state Judicial Council studied all of the courthouses in California and prioritized those that were most in need of new facilities. A new Ukiah courthouse was high on that list. SB 1407, authorizing a $5 billion bond to fund critically needed courthouse construction, was signed into law in 2008. The new Ukiah Courthouse was one of the 41 projects to be funded by this bond. This project has no effect on the use of the Ten Mile Courthouse in Fort Bragg.

Ed note: Lawyers are always passing laws that benefit them. In fact, it was a legislative (mostly lawyers) swindle that saddled Mendocino County with so many judges. The County was adequately served by so-called lay judges for a hundred years. The lawyers passed the law that elevated all of Mendocino County's "lay" judges to superior court status with, of course, the lavish pay and perks they seem to assume as some kind of birthright. If a new courthouse was put on the Mendocino or even the Ukiah ballot it would not pass. It should alarm people that this project is "moving forward" with no public review, even from Ukiah's planning commission and city council.

The first step was to determine the best site that met the needs of the project. A Public Advisory Group (PAG) was formed to study possible locations for the courthouse. It included members of the court, the county, the city, our criminal justice partners, the chamber of commerce and the bar association. The group viewed possible sites and used a ranking procedure to determine the preferred site. A site as close to the historic courthouse downtown was a priority and two locations were selected as the top sites—the “library site” and the “depot site.” The library site proved unworkable and the PAG concluded that the depot site was the preferred site.

Ed note: A group of judge-friendly insiders chose one of two sites, and chose the only doable one. This was not a public process in any known sense of public process.

Discussions to purchase the four plus acres needed for the courthouse and associated parking were ongoing. The City of Ukiah had made it a high priority to keep the courthouse downtown and was going to participate in its development at the depot site using redevelopment funds. However, when redevelopment funds were terminated statewide, the city was forced to give up its option on the property. Negotiations for purchase resumed between the Judicial Council and the property owner, the North Coast Railroad Authority (NCRA).

Ed note: More insider baseball. The city of Ukiah was using redevelopment funds illegally, and of course, even on a city council dominated by incompetents, Ukiah understood that establishing a new courthouse far from the city center would further harm the city's ongoing effort to maintain a viable city center.

THE LOCATION & COST

The new site is three blocks from the old courthouse on Perkins Street. It is on a blighted parcel of land. The city has approval to extend Clay Street across the railroad tracks and into the project site. This will open up the corridor to the Grace Hudson museum and downtown on Clay Street. A bike path along the railroad tracks is being constructed which will connect the courthouse with the north and south ends of town. There will be other parcels available adjoining the courthouse site that would be ideal for offices that could house our county criminal justice partners. The Court is excited to contribute to the improvement of the depot area with the construction of a courthouse which has an estimated total cost of $94 million.

Ed note: The new courthouse will cost twice that, at least. The entire stretch of West Perkins between the freeway and downtown is a ghastly unplanned skein of empty unsightly structures. To get an idea of what the new courthouse will look like, google Placer County.

PlacerCountyJusticeCtr

It will be a glass, steel and concrete abomination akin to the aesthetic visual presented by the neighboring Macdonald's. No offense intended His Honor, but the Democratic Party, of which His Honor is a stalwart, controls the railroad property. Not saying anyone in particular will benefit financially, but the Demos have no other option for it. The adjoining parcels will naturally become quite valuable and, one can be sure, the usual Ukiah sharks will profit mightily from proximity to their new neighbor. The bike paths linking the courthouse to north and south Ukiah are simply laughable. So? The repeat offenders who live along the tracks will benefit but no one else.

It is important to note that no General Fund dollars will be used for the construction of the courthouse. Construction will be financed by bonds. These bonds are supported by a revenue stream of court fees, penalties and assessments which were increased in order to ensure that these projects would be paid for from within the court system rather than drawing on the state’s General Fund or local taxes.

Ed note: There's really only one source of funding for public entities — US. By raising fines and the rest of the nebulous fees attached to the justice process, which of course hits working people and the destitute particularly hard, we'll get a kind of judicial spa for nine people, complete with underground parking, private elevators, lavish chambers and the rest of the monarchical trappings these pampered, privileged persons seem to think they deserve. This structure has nothing to do with service to the public, everything to do self-interested convenience and comfort.

The courthouse construction process was not immune from state budget cuts. Since 2009, $1.7 billion in court construction funds have been borrowed, swept to the General Fund, or redirected to court operations. Our project was subject to a review by the Courthouse Cost Reduction Subcommittee of the Judicial Council which achieved savings of nearly $24 million by eliminating a courtroom and the basement and reducing the overall size of the property acquired. It also reduced the number of parking spaces available on the parcel.

Ed note: This is a judge's idea of sacrifice and cost-saving.

The architect for the project is internationally renowned Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP. They have built award winning projects all over the world, including other courthouses in California. If the site is acquired in this fiscal year, the schedule calls for construction to begin in 2017 and completion in 2019. We look forward to the day we will have the new courthouse that our citizens deserve.

If you wish to know more about the construction of the New Ukiah Courthouse you can access further information athttp://www.courts.ca.gov/facilities-mendocino.htm#tab13965.

Ed note: These people have erected major eyesores all over the country. At a minimum, a local architect might at least come up with a structure we could all be proud of. We'll get a version of the Willits Courthouse that will only further foul Ukiah, once a very pretty, coherent little country town. A big, ugly building will ensure that Ukiah remains forever a blighted freeway stop with its only redeeming public buildings left over from a better time early in the twentieth century.

Respectfully,

David Nelson, Presiding Judge,

Mendocino County Superior Court .

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BOONVILLE HEALTH CENTER BLUES II

AV Health Center: No news is not necessarily good news

Nor is the bland assumption of the editor of the AVA that the Health Center ship has magically righted itself by a few (welcome) staff changes.

For your consideration:

Claudia Jimenez, owner of Boonville's All That Good Stuff notions store who was the target of a very nasty economic boycott threat in November, has resigned from the AVHC board of directors. I was looking at the web site (supposedly not updated as we wait month after month to get a new site operational, but from which occasionally one may glean actual info) and I noticed that Claudia, appointed three months ago, was no longer listed as a director. She says, in response to my question why...

"*I resigned about a week or so ago. My store was affected drastically because of the boycott and I needed to refocus on getting the store out of the problem that it is in right now! I would stay on the board but it wasn't possible. Hopefully the store picks up soon! " *

I hope so too. The Health Center lost a good director; young, local, business oriented, and smart. It's maddening to know that a dumb lout, operating with ignorant and erroneous assumptions that Claudia was in any way involved in the temporary firing of doctor Logan McGhan, can assert that kind of pressure.

While we are talking about the Board, the director assigned to Board development and governance is Kathy Cox. It is interesting to note that both Heidi Knott (Secretary) and JR Collins (Treasurer) were serving terms that expired on December 31. There is no word yet on any decision to reappoint either. Next month is the AVHC "Annual Meeting" at which elections of new directors are held and new officers appointed if needed. I asked Heidi whether she was to be on the slate (supposedly selected by all the Directors) and she has no idea.

Directors now listed are: Ric Bonner, term expires 2016, Chair, an office he has held for a year, and for which he will have to be reappointed at the January meeting, or someone else will have to be chosen; Kathy Cox, term expires 2016, Vice Chair who will serve in that office until the expiration of the term of the previous Vice Chair, and I have no idea who that was, since it was never announced anywhere that I know of; Heidi Knott currently expired Secretary and also community contact, but unknown if she will be reappointed (Heidi reports that there is now a book in the AVHC lobby which contains board members names and contact information and terms of office, and also, happily, recent minutes..if we are lucky they will also be on the web soon); JR Collins currently expired Treasurer, also unknown if he will be reappointed... by virtue of his office he is chair of the finance committee but a new Treasurer will have to be appointed if JR is not reappointed, and that person will then be chair of the Finance Committee; Eric Labowitz, term expires 2015, mentioned as director for senior services, and for some sort of contact with other agencies, unexplained; Wally Hopkins who serves as Building and Grounds committee chair; Emilio Torales, unknown what committee assignment; Clay Eubank, unknown when appointed or what committee assignment; Deborah Covey, unknown when appointed or what committee assignment; Maxence Weyrich (student, serves for one year, appointment ends September 2015 but in actual fact, probably June since the school term ends then); Mayte Guerrero (student, serves for one year, appointement ends September 2015 but in actual fact, probably June since the school term ends then). So that is nine members without Heidi and JR. What will the final number be then? Come to the annual meeting to find out who will run your health center next year, and hopefull some of their qualifications and interests. You do not get to vote. You do not get to nominate. But with any luck you will get to ask questions,

The next meeting of the Board of Directors is listed as Tuesday, January 27th, at 5:30 p.m. No word yet on where, maybe at the AVCSD Boonville firehouse community room.

Also hopefully coming soon, information about how the Board has sorted out the reporting of financial data—public posting of end of last fiscal year report, and of 2013 audit, as well as 2014/15 budget and monthly budget to actuals, and status of the debt for the loan on the clinic building. At last word they were still trying to figure out what would be reported, and on what kind of schedule, and how the input of Chief Financial Officer Judith Waterman can be timely integrated into the meeting schedules of the Finance Committee and the Board.

And perhaps some information will be available on what the Concerned Community Committee is doing and wants to do.

Let's hope that it will be a better year than last for the AVHC!

Cheers, Gene Herr, Philo

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Thank you, Gene, for all the time and energy you have put into helping the AVHC right itself after a near calamatous ship wreck. You seem to know a lot of the right questions to ask and you have many ideas about ways that things could be improved. It’s too bad that you aren’t willing to get on the board yourself and do some of these things.

I also appreciate the board members, both current and retired, for their efforts. Although I disagreed with many of the actions and reactions of the previous board, I think everyone had positive intentions for our health center and the local population. I know that I am not currently willing to give up so much of my own time to do so much work for, not only no pay, but little gratitude and a lot of grief. Whether Claudia needed to get off the board because of her business or not, she may have wanted to leave to avoid being a potential target of criticism and scorn. You use the words “With all due respect” but the tone you continue in sounds disdainful and snide. It’s clear you are frustrated, but I’m not sure that contempt is even the best way to get what you want accomplished.

In the wake of all the upheaval, and with a new, interim administrator coming on board, I for one, feel able to cut them all some slack for a bit. It’s not my impression that anyone on the board is less interested or involved. I understand and agree with the need for there to be better communication with the community. I think we should continue to push for that. For now, I vote for making that push a little more gentle and perhaps more gracious.

In a world filled with violence and hate, let’s try to get our little community to operate from a different paradigm. I respect the fact that it took some heavy handed tactics to undo the damage that was being done. I hope now we are ready for more kindness and civility.

Yeah, I know that may sound like a lot of touch-feely brouhaha; but in the spirit of the season and new year and whatnot, how about a little, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you?”

With much appreciation,

Kathy Cox, Navarro

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Well written, Kathy. I agree 100%.

Allan Green, Philo

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With all due respect, Kathy — if not you, who? It should be a board priority to get that straightened out soonest. Why is there no functioning website? What is needed to have it operational? Many non-profits get gratis hosting from freebee sites, or virtually free. The AVCSD has one, the AVFD has another, the Holmes Ranch Association yet another — free, powered by Weebly, set up by Deborah Leighton, and managed by the directors of the HRA Corporation. You could call CSD director Kathleen McKenna who does the CSD one, hosted by Mendocino Community Network; the Long Valley Health Center’s very informative site is also hosted by Mendocino Community Network; or talk to AF firefighters Paul Soderman and Tina Walters who designed the AV Fire Department one, using WordPress. Maxence [Weyrich] seems ready, able and anxious to post whatever is needed. Please find out what’s the hang up, and sort it out. It should be a Board function, not farmed out to a staff member.

In August of 2013 Diane Agee wrote me the following in response to my question about lack of timely information from the AVHC to the clients:

“Board members and I agree that we can and should do a better job of informing the community about health center news. We have invested in the development of a new web site and plan to “go-live” next week with this. Unfortunately this took us much longer that we anticipated since we were making efforts to make it possible for us to have a patient portal where lab results, medication refills and appointments could be made on line. We still have quite a lot more work to do before that can happen but are finally ready to open the rest of the site. We intend to post agenda’s and minutes and other general data and would appreciate your input on any other areas that you think would be valuable for the community to know.”

In the spring of last year a general discussion of the board showed that no one knew who had the action on this item and directors were talking about “forming a committee” to see what was happening. Here we are, a year and a half later and no progress!!

Gene Herr, Philo

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TO: Ric Bonner, AVHC Board Chair

As you know I’ve been following said affairs off and on for a number of years now, with particular concern since the emergence of Agee and Spiller as senior managers. Recently, after close observation of events since this summer and upon reflection over my 35 years of familiarity with the HC and its players, I wrote myself an agenda worksheet for the organization and its operating constituencies, a list of objectives and activities pursuing the goal of its Restabilization and Development, both people and programs. That’s what I wanted to meet with you about tomorrow; to show you what I’ve done and see how its perspectives fit with yours.

I’ve showed versions of the worksheet to a couple of the HC directors.

My worksheet divides the organization into its three constituent entities:

Board of Directors: Governance. Fiduciary oversight f/b/o the AV community.

Executive Administrator: Business management and planning.

Medical Director and Staff: Medical care, training, program development.

Each of these entities should have an agenda and delivery schedule for its Restabilization and Development objectives.

My worksheet shows 8 objectives for the Board toward these objectives, 5 for the EA, 9 for the Medical director and team.

I am pleased to have been party to the openness of the HC Board to hear the concerns of the informed community about the HC crisis this autumn, the willingness of informed community members to pitch in and assist the Board with repurposing itself and its capabilities, and the Board’s appreciation of the value of this input. No matter the outcome, the ability of the board and community to work together openly, cooperatively and proactively this autumn is one of the most remarkable experiences of my time in AV.

My concern about this process as I’ve understood it since late October and thought about its trajectory over the next year, is that the Board not burden itself with too many objectives and agendas relative to its available time and collective capabilities. This issue to me is really important: don’t try to attempt undertaking more projects than you are capable of completing effectively. To initiate these and leave them neglected or forgotten about is bad for Board morale and for the community dependent on the HC and its mission.

Here’s my list of most important issues for the Board to address successfully in the next six months:

ReRecruitment. I am worried there still isn’t a critical mass of informed, loyal, and hard-working directors to carry out effectively even the minimal agenda of the next year. I suggest you need 2-3 more directors of the caliber and capability of some of your most recent recruits.

Here’s where developing the performance appraisal capability can begin informally. Begin with incumbent attendance records, then look at who is really going to do the job on the array of subcommittees you’ve established (too many, I argue) etc.. What kind of process is in place to formally orient new directors? Who of current members able to do this task thoroughly?

ReRecruitment II. The Executive Administrator. Critical to the future of the HC, also a valuable learning experience for the Board, if done right. You have a reliable volunteer committee to manage the current need, but as KCox and I mentioned at the Board meeting last week, it is critical that the stronger board members be part of the recruitment activity for the value of the process learning experience. You will need it as the next generation Med Director issue emerges in the not distant future.

Governance responsibility training. Not terribly urgent, but once the Board has improved its capability as described under #1, then important to find some professional consultant service for the objective. For the moment the Board can get by with the applications of these legally recognized fiduciary standards for 501(c)4 corporate boards to each decision making process. Were we informed, did we take care, were we loyal?

Familiarity with the short and long-term financial status and business performance of the HC. I gather there are different views among members as to how informed the Board is about the issue. I’d love to study the last three years financial statements one of these days.

Community communications (and fund raising. Later, but recognize as a form of communication). Ultimately the value of a competent HC user survey (once you have a permanent Exec. Admin. A good survey should be more effective than the array of committees now in place). No rush on this. Just start carefully and make some well-crafted advancements in the capability.

Ok, to my previous point about overbooking objectives, that’s enough for this coming year, more or less.

So this note captures much of the agenda I had in mind for our meeting tomorrow. Perhaps putting it in writing has more use than sitting around the Horn of Zeese in B-ville chatting about it. If you have any questions or concerns, let me know. I’ll be out of the Valley til early March, I think, but the tan oak wireless stretches all the way to Hawaii; I’ll be listening.

Good luck with the tile man.

Brad Wiley, Philo

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WE THINK the Health Center discussion is being wayyyy over-thought. Hey! We've got a two-doctor outback clinic here, not IBM. If the board simply ensures the clinic itself is operating as it should, that's all most of us want. I was in the other day and the doc still didn't have a working computer. Que pasa? A smart, capable person ought to be able to handle the required paperwork, so the board should find and secure that person and get on with it. BTW, we'd still like to get a clear idea of how the place is doing financially. Does anybody know?

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A POINT ARENAN WRITES: "You know about the guys from Bay Area who came into PA selling FAST internet for free trial of a month or two, then for 100/mo. got subscribers. Prob being that it is so strong and so much faster than the rest of everybody else's aged old signals that the new company is knocking the other companies off service - or at least making their signal alot 'fuzzier and slower', I am told." I used the AVA website on the new internet signal and wheeeeee was it fast.

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Satire

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WHO CARES?

Editor:

Any KZYX Board candidate suffering the great good fortune of an endorsement from John Sakowicz will have to answer the following. Was it appropriate for Sako to write to the FCC demanding refusal to renew the broadcast license?

Gordon Black, Mendocino

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Wundartznay

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ONE THIRD OF THE CALENDAR

In January everything freezes.

We have two children. Both are she'ses.

This is our January rule:

One girl in bed, and one in school.

In February the blizzard whirls.

We own a pair of little girls.

Blessings upon of each the head —

The one in school and the one in bed.

March is the month of cringe and bluster.

Each of our children has a sister.

They cling together like Hansel and Gretel,

With their noses glued to the benzoin kettle.

April is made of impetuous waters

And doctors looking down throats of daughters.

If we had a son too, and a thoroughbred,

We'd have a horse,

And a boy,

And two girls 
In bed.

— Ogden Nash

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CATCH OF THE DAY, January 11, 2015

Aguado, Anderson, Blackwell, Brooks
Aguado, Anderson, Blackwell, Brooks

ABEL AGUADO, Ukiah. Drunk in public.

JAMES ANDERSON, Willits. Probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)

ERIN BLACKWELL, Ukiah. Drunk in public, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)

ERIC BROOKS, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Vehicle theft, DUI, receiving stolen property, under influence of controlled substance.

Cuesta, Elizondo, Espinoza, Galang, Gibney
Cuesta, Elizondo, Espinoza, Galang, Gibney

CRISTOBAL CUESTA, Branscomb/Laytonville. Pot sale, transport, furnish; probation revocation.

CYPRIAN ELIZONDO, Laytonville. Driving on suspended license, failure to appear.

JOSE ESPINOZA, Ukiah. DUI, misdemeanor hit and run, driving on suspended license, probation revocaiton.

ALVIN GALANG, Eureka/Ukiah. DUI-Drugs.

SAMUEL GIBNEY, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public, probation revocation.

Gitchel, Looks, Martin, Nelson
Gitchel, Looks, Martin, Nelson

ANDREW GITCHEL, Santa Cruz/Ukiah. Burglary.

ALICIA LOOKS, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public, probation revocation.

GARY MARTIN JR., Pittsburg, CA/Ukiah. Pot cultivation, armed with firearm.

DEANNE NELSON, Potter Valley. Domestic battery.

Pollick, Sanders, Schreck, Thurman, Wafford
Pollick, Sanders, Schreck, Thurman, Wafford

ALAN POLLICK JR., Ukiah. Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)

THOMAS SANDERS, Willits. Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)

THOR SCHRECK, Concord/Ukiah. Honey oil extraction, possession of pot for sale, armed with firearm.

THOMAS THURMAN, Willits. Drunk in public.

WENDY WAFFORD, Hopland. DUI, resisting arrest.

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CHARLIE HEBDO had made no secret of the fact that it intended to carry on provoking believing Muslims by targeting the Prophet. Most Muslims were angry about this, but ignored the insult. The paper had reprinted the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten’s cartoons of Muhammad in 2005 – the ones that depicted him as a Pakistani immigrant. The Danish newspaper admitted that it would never publish anything similar depicting Moses or the Jews (perhaps it had already done so: it certainly published articles supporting the Third Reich), but Charlie Hebdo sees itself as having a mission to defend republican secular values against all religions. It has occasionally attacked Catholicism, but it’s hardly ever taken on Judaism (though Israel’s numerous assaults on Palestinians have offered many opportunities) and has concentrated its mockery on Islam. French secularism today seems to encompass anything as long as it’s not Islamic. — Tariq Ali

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joesacco1

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TREE SCIONS GRAFT & SEEDS COLLECT

Rain or shine Mendocino Permaculture’s 32nd Annual Winter Abundance Workshop features a seed/scion/cutting exchange and hands-on fruit tree grafting and seed saving classes. It will take place on Saturday January 31, 2015 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Fairgrounds in Boonville. There is no charge for admission, classes, seeds, cuttings, or scion wood. Various fruit tree rootstocks, hot beverages, snacks, organic food, and produce will be available for sale.

You can learn how to use the rootstock (base) of a fruit tree or an existing tree or vine to graft on a scion (a small branch of tree of your choice) to have a healthy tree or vine full of fruit adapted to your taste and climate zone at nearly no cost. Your grafting skills can be used time and time again to create single trees, an orchard, or a commercial venture. Local experts will be on hand if you have questions about tree/scion selection, rootstock, seed saving, grafting, planting or cultivation.

Getting the right base or rootstock for a fruit- or nut-bearing tree is an important decision. Over 500 of the best tree rootstocks of all major fruit types will be for sale for a few dollars each. The rootstock has been pre-selected for our climate and soil.

The schedule of events is:

9:00--4:00 Open tables – Scions, seeds, cuttings and selection advice

9:30--10:30 Class – Mark Albert: Basic Techniques of Making Your Own Trees and Vines

10:30--12:00 Class – Amigo Cantisano & Jennifer Bliss of The Felix Gillet Institute: Saving and Identifying Local Heirloom Fruits and an Introduction to Arboreal Archeology

10:30--1:00 Small group grafting clinics at various locations

12:00--1:00 Lunch for sale

1:00--2:15 Class – Patrick Schafer: Grafting, Budding & Topworking Techniques & Strategies

2:15--3:30 Class – Seed Saving Basics by the local Seedsavers Linda MacElwee and Tom Melcher

Please bring your own favorite saved seeds, plant cuttings, plants, and scions to share with others plus your own plate, utensils, & cups.

This workshop is co-sponsored by Anderson Valley Adult School and Anderson Valley Foodshed with help from the Master Gardener program of U.C. Cooperative Extension. For more information go to www.mendocinolocalfood.org or call Barbara/Rob at 895-3897 or Mark at 462-7843.

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COPS ON PATROL IN UKIAH

On Wednesday December 31st at about 8:50 AM Ukiah Police responded to the 400 block of Talmage Road for vandalism to the chain link fence bordering the railroad tracks. Officers discovered bolt cutters had been used to cut a large opening in the chain link fence the night prior. At about the same time a caller in the same area reported the theft of a motorcycle and damage to a similar chain link fence. Officers were subsequently able to obtain security video footage, and determined two suspects had parked their vehicle in a concealed location, cut the fence and proceeded along the railroad tracks to the second location, where they cut the fence and entered the yard area of a business. The suspects removed a motorcycle from the yard through the hole in the fence, wheeled it down the railroad tracks and through the first hole in the fence, loaded it into the vehicle and left.

Wolter, Johnson
Wolter, Johnson

On January 1st at about 8:00 AM Ukiah Police Officers, assisted by officers with the California Highway Patrol and Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department, performed a probation search at a residence in the 1200 block of Helen Avenue. The vehicle used in the theft was at the location, and the stolen motorcycle was located hidden under a tarp and recovered. Officers contacted the two suspects at the location, indentified as 41 year old Jerome Anthony Wolter and 34 year old David Michael Johnson, and arrested them for the stolen vehicle, vandalism, and criminal conspiracy. Johnson was also charged with violating probation.

On January 4th at about 1:40 AM Ukiah Police responded to the 500 block of North School Street for a single vehicle traffic collision. Officers determined 44 year old Peter Francis Fennel, of Redwood Valley, had driven his 2003 Infinity SUV through the fence at the end of School Street, and collided with a post and several trees. Fennel had been drinking, and was found too intoxicated to drive and was arrested for DUI. 15-0028

Perez
Perez

ON WEDNESDAY January 7th at about 9:10 PM Ukiah Police stopped a vehicle being driven by 20 year old Jesus Alberto Cuevas Perez in the 200 block of East Perkins Street. The officer smelled marijuana from within the vehicle, and found Perez possessed over 1 ounce of methamphetamine in several different packages and over $8000 in US Currency. After further investigation it was discovered Perez had a separate vehicle, which was located and subsequently searched and contained over 7 ounces of methamphetamine in numerous various sized packages. Perez was arrested for transportation and possession of methamphetamine for sale and for committing a felony while on felony bail. The US Currency was seized pursuant to state asset seizure laws.

* * *

NIXON: You know what’s happened in Northern California?

Ehrlichman: San Francisco has just gone clear over.

Nixon: But it’s not just the ratty part of town. The upper class in San Francisco is that way. The Bohemian Grove, which I attend from time to time — it is the most faggy goddamned thing you could ever imagine, with that San Francisco crowd. I can’t shake hands with anybody from San Francisco. Decorators. They got to do something. But we don’t have to glorify it. You know one of the reasons fashions have made women look so terrible is because the goddamned designers hate women. Designers taking it out on the women. Now they’re trying to get some more sexy things coming on again.

Ehrlichman: Hot pants.

Nixon: Jesus Christ.

— From a May 13, 1971, conversation between President Richard Nixon and John D. Ehrlichman.

* * *

CARLOS SANTANA: Forever Mystic

by Steve Heilig

Musical legend Carlos Santana has now put his rather astonishing life story down in print, with a new autobiography titled The Universal Tone: Bringing My Story to Light. At 500 pages, most any book risks becoming too long, especially in the dreaded self-indulgent genre known as “rock bio.” But Santana’s rags-to-glory story is so compelling, and his recall so impressive, that this one is well-worth any fan’s time and money. And sure enough he has recently drawn crowds to local appearances in Marin and San Francisco that were bigger and more diverse than any other “literary” event around.

A half-century denizen of Marin and SF himself, Santana now lives mostly in Las Vegas. No, that’s not a misprint, and yes he went voluntarily. After the breakup of his longtime marriage, he eventually landed a regular gig in that desert resort town, and married a very talented drummer named Cindy Blackman. He continues to tour the world and draw massive crowds, releases new albums regularly, has restaurants and a shoe company and more, and is a serious philanthropist through his Milagro Foundation—still located in Marin and focused on child health, education and artistic growth.

“No other performer attracts bikers, former hippies, middle-class Hispanics, Chicanos, vatos, lovers of Latin jazz, blacks, curious white college students, whole families from babies to grandmothers,” wrote the late great Peter Warshall as editor of Marin’s late, lamented Whole Earth magazine. Previous biographies and interviews, including an extensive one I conducted with him in 1999, have outlined his path from birth in 1947 in a small town of Autlán de Navarro in central Mexico to selling gum on the streets of Tijuana as an adolescent to washing dishes in San Francisco’s Mission District as a teen - while learning guitar.

While his band was still new, he climbed onto the stage at the fabled Fillmore, wowing the crowd and promoter Bill Graham, and then, at 22 years of age, without even an album out yet, found explosive stardom in 1969 at the original Woodstock festival (where, as he finally confirms in his book, Jerry Garcia handed him a large dose of mescaline just before Santana’s stage time). All along he was listening to all types of music, and 100 million albums and tickets later, the rest is history.

The original Santana band, so named as it simply seemed the most likely last name among the members, released three albums that “sprinkled a little chili pepper into rock,” as the New Yorker put it, and made them worldwide stars. The usual mix of money, drugs and ego broke them apart, and Santana himself emerged as not just the name, but the face and most crucially, the lead guitarist of the group. His sound remains immediately recognizable as that of one of the few true living legends of rock, whose early hits retain their freshness and drive over four decades later. He’s won pretty much every music award worth winning, has been feted at the White House, has schools named after him, and much, much more. But he’s still “proud to be a hippie,” prone to baffling interviewers with some of his pronouncements. “In some ways I think I was born tripping!” he reflects in his book. He writes candidly about many personal trials, from childhood poverty in a fractured family to sexual abuse and a very painful divorce. He also stresses that he has been a devoted family man, raising three children in Marin.

Through it all, he has remained very much a mix of streetwise Latino funk and cosmic guru, living to send his long-sustained guitar notes out into the world with a passionate wish to both entertain and enlighten. And as he concludes in his book, “I have never been happier in my life than at this moment.”

I caught up with him in San Francisco in early December.

SantanaMural

What do you miss most about living in Marin?

Oh, I think the sunrises and sunsets. Although those can be absolutely incredible out in the desert, too, you know. But wherever I am, that’s where my heart is. I don’t miss … well, there are a lot of angry people in the Bay Area now. Just look at the traffic jams and the way people drive and all that. And in California they keep closing more schools, and building more prisons. So I moved to Vegas, and I can’t tell you how much money that saves me a year, but I give that all away. I call that money “weapons of mass compassion.”

This is through your foundation?

Yeah, and I’d rather give my money to where I want it to go than to the Pentagon, or to Barack Obama. I like him still, but I don’t like that he hasn’t kept his promises, like to spend more for education and less on incarceration, and to stop the wars. As much as I love him, that’s where I am.

You and many others, I’m afraid. In your book you go into many deeply personal stories—what were you trying to do by writing it?

There’s a new chapter being written in my life as we speak, a different kind of luminosity, different aspirations, different goals. So it was time. But mainly I needed to share stories I learned to tell—from my dad, Bill Graham, B.B. King—storytellers who can captivate you. A good musician must be a supreme storyteller, like Billie Holiday, Alice Coltrane, John Lee Hooker. I always mention these names because I am them and they are me, as I learned so much from them. And I took so much from them, like I am taking now from Dolores Huerta and Harry Belafonte, who are my left and my right teachers right now, for their values of equality, fairness and justice. They are the Mahatma Gandhis of our day.

In this new phase of your life, are you planning to make less music, different music, or something else?

Some of all that. We are together with the original band for one thing—we’re finally making the album Santana IV! And I’ll be trying to do what I’ve long been longing to do, to make some new stuff that is elevating, transforming. Lately I’ve been really thinking of Alice Coltrane and Sonny Sharrock [a pioneering, hard-edged free-jazz guitarist], and I want to make music that I call “beautiful ugly.” Sharrock can sound like a hurricane or tornado, and I want to use that energy to take a photo of the other side, like Wayne Shorter does when he plays.

So, that sounds to me like it would be a less commercial approach than you’ve done in recent years, right?

Yeah, less radio-orientated, but that’s fine, it is time.

That reminds me of in your book where you write about when the first band was breaking up, you brought in new people and a new sound for the 1972 LP Caravanserai, and your management and even Bill Graham resisted that as being “career suicide.” But many of your fans, myself included, call that their favorite of your work.

Well, I thank you for that! [Smiling.]

And would you be bringing in more new, international, say, African influences and new musicians?

Yes, and I’d love to work with Kenny Garrett, Wayne or Herbie [Hancock] if they are available, and my wife—and I’d allow her to bring in the bass player of her choice. And maybe some African musicians, too.

You started with the blues, and in fact your band was first called the Santana Blues Band.

Yes, and we still sneak the blues into our sound, you know. Look, for me, Elvis was just the “King” of whatever—the real kings are people like B.B., Albert, and Freddie King, and T-Bone Walker and John Lee Hooker.

Your recall and memory in your book amazed me, with so many names, places, events, from long ago. How did you do that?

I got that from my mom—she had that kind of mind, incredible detailed memory about things. I have “celestial selective memory” now and I only really remember the good. The bad, you have to say, “You know, I can try to remember it but I don’t have to and I don’t want to.”

But in your book you included plenty of rough times, from your childhood onward.

Yeah—but that was about healing. My publishers were great; they allowed me to tell the story without sensationalism, gossip and dirt—I said, this is about taking the high road, looking at the big picture.

That is striking in the book—you tell of so many people, some of whom it would seem could have been painted in a bad way, but most of it is positive.

The rascal in me wanted to put a line at the end saying, “When you pick up this book and go in the back pages to see where your name is and it’s not there, I did you a favor!’” [Laughing.]

When we spoke for an interview 15 years ago, you were working on the CD that was to become Supernatural and explode you into the big world again, and you mentioned a big secret you didn’t want to come out just yet—your childhood sexual abuse. Then, when you got all those awards and sales, you told your story. I thought this was a brilliant way to do it, to get that tough issue out there when you were already on the front pages everywhere.

Yes, that was a healing, with a high purpose to it, to reveal something, bring to light the problem, and to invite those others who had been violated in their innocence to look in the mirror and say, “I am not what happened to me, I am still as God created me with purity and innocence. And I forgive that person.” In my case, I transfigurated that person into a 7-year-old child in front of me and said, “I forgive you, and will not send you to hell, because if I do that, I will go with you. So I will send you into the light instead, so I can be free.” And it worked.

And did you hear from others with similar experiences, to thank you for that?

Oh yes. When I said that first in Rolling Stone, they were flooded with people who were saying things like, “Man, that was me, too.” And at the same time all this stuff came out—people saying they had been abused by priests, you know, and it just went global. So you know, we have the power, like John Coltrane said, one positive thought can create millions of positive vibrations. Don’t underestimate the power of consciousness, how vast it can be in helping people to recognize their own light.

You’ve spoken out a fair bit about the plight of illegal immigrants, especially Mexicans like yourself. This is such a hot issue, especially now. A few years ago at a Major League Baseball game you were booed for saying, “People are afraid we’re going to steal your job. No we aren’t. You’re not going to change sheets and clean toilets. I would invite all Latin people to do nothing for about two weeks so you can see who really, really is running the economy.”

Yeah, well, I try to represent all the people the bigots and Republicans are trying to keep out. Look, I read somewhere that in some parts of the country more tortillas are sold than loaves of bread. Get used to it, man, I don’t think we are going away!

You also said that “the highest thing one can do, whatever your position, is to inspire people to aspire.”

Yes. Yes! And what does that mean? To a starving person, food is God. To an aspiring person, who is not hungry for food anymore, only God is the food, you’re not hungry for anything else, you just wanna eat God, to stay in grace and luminosity.

Let me challenge you a bit on one thing; you’ve said, “If you don’t believe in God, you are free to believe in nothing, but that’s what you’ll get.” But so many seem to believe in their God out of fear, out of hope for some reward. But what about those who don’t believe in God but still try to be good, to do right for others?

Oh, you don’t have to believe in G.O.D, some big guy in the sky you know. For me God can be called … the highest good. Or even love. What I mean to say is that if you don’t have faith, or trust, then you’re just not gonna get far. And even if you do get there, you’re not gonna enjoy it. God is in a prostitute as much as in the Pope, or Dalai Lama, or Desmond Tutu—look who Jesus hung out with—Mary [Magdalene]! If you don’t believe that, you just have some issues.

Well I think the world’s negativity can be overwhelming, too. There is so much suffering out there. Do you read newspapers? One hundred and fifty years ago, Emerson said that doing so was “bathing in blood.”

Whoa! No, I don’t read them, never. But you know, all that stuff is not real. There are a lot of different forms of unrealness. The only thing that is real is love. As hard as it may seem for our mind to realize, what God created cannot be altered or changed, it can only be by personal choice created into your own little evolution, because we are only light and love and nothing else. All that suffering can be wiped out, when we reach a point on this earth when we collectively awaken to our own light … [pauses]. Look, this is something I need to say, a highest salutation that I learned from J.J. Hurtak in Los Gatos, who wrote The Book of Knowledge: The Keys of Enoch. He says, “May the heavens open up, and the angels bless each and every one with the deep awareness of your own light.” Once you see that is possible, everything else is like film, like in the old days, when you take it out of the can and put it into the light, it disappears. All the bad stories and suffering on this earth can be like that, as incredible as it may seem. Everything else is E.G.O.-created—Edging God Out—which is impossible, but we live by it every day, promoting fear.

I might also challenge you on the “suffering is not real” thing, but we don’t have the space and time here for a deep debate. You’ve recommended that we change our national anthem from that “bombs bursting in air” song—which you’ve played to open a Giants World Series game!—to Billie Holiday’s “God Bless the Child” or Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.”

Yes. I just don’t like to celebrate bombs and fear, you know. And I don’t think there is any country in this world that promotes fear like the United States. And really, where has that gotten us?

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