Mendocino County Today: Friday, Jan 23, 2015

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THE WILLITS BYPASS IS ALREADY FALLING DOWN

Four Workers Injured In Willits Bypass Construction Accident

WILLITS, Calif. -- A serious collapse happened Thursday afternoon on the embattled Caltrans freeway project in Willits. Four construction workers were injured and one was trapped beneath the debris for a while. Caltrans is building a freeway bypass around the town of Willits in Mendocino County. Officials say workers were pouring concrete, when a 150-foot temporary steel and wooden structure known as “falsework” suddenly collapsed. There's no word yet on the injured workers' conditions. The collapse did not happen in an area accessible to the public.

(Courtesy, KGO/ABC News 7, San Francisco)

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“This afternoon, falsework collapsed while contractor Flat Iron was pouring concrete along a section of the viaduct at the Willits Bypass Project. Three Flat Iron employees were injured in this collapse and have been transported to the hospital with moderate to major injuries. CALOSHA will be conducting a full investigation into this incident. We will be reviewing all appropriate safety protocols, and cooperating with state occupational safety regulators. Our hearts go out to all who have been affected today and our priority right now is to provide assistance to our contractor and make sure everyone is safe.”

(Caltrans Press Release)

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JENNIFER POOL POSTING on the Willits Weekly website:

Bypass collapse: an estimated 120 foot or longer section of the viaduct — a span of "falsework" where concrete was being poured today — collapsed right before 2:30 pm this afternoon, between East Valley Road and East Commercial Street, where the viaduct crosses a creek. Looks like Haehl Creek or a tributary on the map. A very good but unofficial source, says only one worker was badly/moderately injured: but he was conscious and responding when freed from the wreckage. Some who witnessed the collapse said they saw “20 guys running” off the section as it slowly collapsed. Photos taken from the area of the Willits Horsemen's Arena just northeast of the collapse show the pillars on the north side of the creek/north end of the collapsed section leaning in a bit. There are fears of potential environmental damage due to concrete in the creek: here's a report (from a different good, but unofficial source) that “Creek monitoring began within 20 minutes of the collapse. So far no elevated levels of anything, including pH (from the concrete). Luckily, the creek is barely flowing right now.”

BypassCollapse
(Photos Courtesy, The Willits Weekly)

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ON LINE COMMENT:

The falsework collapsed, which means the contractor or Caltrans screwed up. Most bridgework has specific plans how the false work is to be built and secured for handling the load of the concrete that is poured in place. Someone either submitted a poor plan for the falsework or the builder was in a hurry and cut some corners and failed to brace the false work or forms properly. Thankfully no one was killed.

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CONNIE DOBBS, commenting on the Lost Coast website:

This structure is called a box girder bridge. Falsework essentially serves as a mold in which the bridge is constructed. It's either made of heavy timbers or steel H-beams. In terms of injury to workers a falsework collapse is about the biggest disaster that can happen on a jobsite. The beams or timbers are held upright with wire ropes. In a collapse those ropes may snap and whip around. It's a mercy that so few people were hurt. It sounds like no one was killed, which is unusual for a major construction accident. One of my fellow apprentices lost both her legs in a falsework collapse. She had to tell her rescuers how to jack the falsework up enough to free her.

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CALTRANS’ RECKLESS, HEEDLESS DRILLING.

The Willits News’ Linda Williams on the contamination caused by Caltrans statewide core sample hole drillings without consideration for the pollution of groundwater.

http://www.willitsnews.com/localnews/ci_27364327/caltrans-past-policy-may-contribute-groundwater-contamination

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CATCH OF THE DAY, January 22, 2015

Anderson, C.Beck, D.Beck, Blackwell
Anderson, C.Beck, D.Beck, Blackwell

JAMES ANDERSON, Willits. Drunk in public, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)

CHRISTOPHER BECK, Ukiah. Robbery, conspiracy.

DYLAN BECK, Ukiah. Robbery, conspiracy, elder-dependent abuse, petty theft, probation revocation.

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

Brogie, Geurts, James-Horton, Johnson
Brogie, Geurts, James-Horton, Johnson

BRANDY BROGIE, Fort Bragg. Failure to appear. (Frequent flyer.)

CHRISTOPHER GEURTS, Willits. Probation revocation.

KENNETH JAMES-HORTON, Ukiah. Camping, resisting arrest.

EDWARD JOHNSON, Ukiah. Drunk in public. Probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)

Jones, Lua, McCutcheon, Meders
Jones, Lua, McCutcheon, Meders

JEDIDIAH JONES, Dos Rios. Possession of controlled substance, probation revocation.

SARALEE LUA, San Luis Obispo/Ukiah. Drunk in public.

BRIAN MCCUTCHEON, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public.

WILLIAM MEDERS, Redwood Valley. Contempt of court, probation revocation.

Sisson, Thomas, Valley, Williams
Sisson, Thomas, Valley, Williams

ARNOLD SISSON, Covelo. Failure to appear.

DANNY THOMAS, Ukiah. Under influence of controlled substance. Parole violation.

PHILIP VALLEY, Ukiah. DUI-drugs, under influence of controlled substance, vandalism.

LARRY WILLIAMS, Ukiah. Drunk in public.

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LONDON! PARIS! HAMBURG! Or was it merely Zurich? But wherever it was, why did the County's General Services Administration boss, Kristin McMenomey, get a free trip to Europe? Did the taxpayers pick up the tab? Yes, via the California State Association of Counties, to which the County of Mendocino belongs through a membership funded by public money. And Ms. McMenomey's trip cost plenty even if she traveled coach, stayed in youth hostels and ate at McDonald's International.

THE SUPERVISORS blithely waved Ms. McMenomey's enviable excursion right on by on their consent calendar where, it must be said, the County CEO buries matters she and the supervisors prefer not to talk about in public. If someone, anyone from the great unwashed, that pesky public, would have asked, “Why is Kristin going to Europe? Do we cut her pay off while she's abroad? What does London! Paris! Hamburg! Zurich or Minsk have to do with Mendocino County business?”

SO, we called the CEO's office to ask who paid for the trip and why. No call back, but at least the pleasant lady who answers the phone at the CEO's office wrote our inquiry down and promised to put it on two CEO office desks. They were, of course, in a meeting and away from his desks.

THE CEO'S OFFICE is preliminarily accessible in that a real live person answers the phone. Ms. McMenomey's office is sequestered behind a seemingly endless telephone menu. “If you know the name of the person you're calling, type in the first seven letters of…” Or was it five? We were so frustrated trying to reach the boss herself, we punched in names and numbers at random, getting the answering machines of Heather, and Dave and, and, and… All of whom were away from their desks. (What are the odds?) We finally tapped out an e-mail inquiry which has gone unanswered.

I CALLED the IRS a few years ago and got through fairly quickly to the high up guy I had a question for. I guess I should say I don't understand why a lightly populated outback county with a relatively small government can be so difficult to access? But I won't say that because I know the answer: local government tends to regard the public as irritants to be ignored whenever possible. That said, Supervisors Gjerde, McCowen and Brown will either answer phone calls or reply by e-mail. Supervisor Hamburg? He speaks only to devotees. Supervisor Woodhouse is so new we haven't had occasion to ask him anything. Pinches, and we miss him already, never backed off or avoided a question.

ON THE MATTER of Kristin's groove-o jaunt to Europe, McCowen said he only knew it had been approved and that the County hadn't paid for it, which is incorrect unless you consider a partially county-funded construct not paid for by the County. Supervisor Gjerde says he's in the dark, and we haven't yet contacted Board Chair Carre Brown.

WE ALSO received no response from the Sacramento-based CSAC (California State Assembly of Counties) the apparent sponsors of Kristin's foreign adventure. Nor is there any mention of the jaunt on CSAC's website.

STAY TUNED. MTK while we wonder WTF.

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IF A CITIZEN comes to the microphone during public expression and says something of practical value and the people the remarks are addressed to sit absolutely silent and don't react at all, has the man said anything?

Mendocino County Board of Supervisors, Public expression, January 20, 2015,

Lee Howard: "Back on 14 January you got an email from me regarding public records and public records requests which was just addressed to the chair. Since then I have had the opportunity to look around and ask some questions. I'm asking you some questions. I ask you the question, When and how did that policy get adopted? The one that requires everything to go through County Counsel for review? Since then I found out that my own organization, the Builders Exchange — we've had problems with this in the past. Nobody really knows where to go with it. We had somebody come from Covelo to Ukiah to get a public record and they were told to fill out the form and come back when we call you. To me that's unacceptable. It's unacceptable if I have to drive from Fort Bragg or Gualala to look at something. My request was a simple request. It was an item that had been publicly noticed, it had been through hearings, been through you two times, and to the award of a contract, and then it was a public document. How can you go to a public agency and have them tell you, Here — fill out the form and come back? That is unacceptable. I hope that you take this up and do something with it. Look at it. Have a public hearing. Let the people come in and see if they approve of this. There's no doubt in my mind that there are things that you have to review and look at before they can be released. That's County Counsel's job. I understand that. But not every single document. It's just -- I guess maybe we might have to get more people to take care of that. The second part of this that I found very interesting as I went throughout the county this last couple of weeks — I asked the employees — you all elected officials have to go through training every two years. What have you got for your employees? I've found people who have been here for 20 years and have never been talked to about public records. They don't have a clue what it is. They are either issuing them or participating in putting them out every day. Is that acceptable to you? Thank you. I hope we can get through this and improve the system here for the public.

Board Response from Board Chair Carre Brown: “Thank you Mr. Howard.”

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WHY SHOULD a simple request for public information be routed to County Counsel which, at this time, means routed to eternal oblivion? Lee Howard annoys a lot of people, especially the libs, but he is often correct about the functioning of local government and it's rude and absolutely wrong (not to say cowardly) to treat him like a stray dog.

COUNTY COUNSEL? At this time he happens to be a guy who drives around in the dark with dope and a loaded gun. Inevitably, Mendocino County being Mendocino County, he is appointed arbiter of official County conduct.

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MEREDITH LINTOTT was DA before David Eyster defeated her and took over the County Courthouse basement in January of 2011. When Lintott was DA she got into a beef with a litigious fellow named Robert Forest during the campaign against Eyster, the story of which is told below by Tiffany Revelle, then a writer for the Ukiah Daily Journal. Several years later, Lintott has suffered another loss after her Home Insurance Company's lawyer successfully got Forest's defamation suit tossed as a SLAPP suit. But then the lawyer for Lintott's "Grange Insurance Company" went back to court to say that Lintott's policy didn't cover "intentional" defamation, just "accidental" defamation. Lintott argued, with all the logic on her side, that there's no such thing as "accidental" defamation. But the court, where there is often no logic, ruled that the Insurance policy didn't cover Lintott's intentional (alleged) defamation. So now Lintott has to pay the insurance company lawyer's fees.

CORRECTION: Former DA Meredith Lintott lost her SLAAP, and now must go to trial without her insurance company picking up the tab.

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Former DA Sued Over Campaign Comments

by Tiffany Revelle

September 23, 2011 — One of the contributors to District Attorney David Eyster's bid for the seat last fall is suing Meredith Lintott, Eyster's predecessor, for allegedly bad-mouthing him publicly during the hotly contested district attorney race last year.

Robert Forest, a local business owner, filed a complaint against Lintott Thursday with the Mendocino County Superior Court that says Lintott publicly accused him of bribing Eyster with a $10,000 campaign contribution to get a concealed weapons permit after attacking an unarmed man.

Forest cites personal damages "in an amount subject to proof at trial" that stem from a local radio ad Lintott aired leading up to the November election and statements she made during a televised debate in October.

The radio ad, which didn't name Forest, said Eyster took campaign money from "a man who assaulted an unarmed man with a loaded gun" in 2006. According to the complaint, the ad also said Forest contributed $10,000 to Eyster's campaign "as a bribe to obtain a concealed weapons permit."

Forest claimed he pulled the gun in self-defense when a young man who reportedly was mentally ill had approached Forest outside a Fort Bragg bar, asking him for a cigarette and touching his elbow, coast prosecutor Tim Stoen of the District Attorney's Office stated previously.

A witness driving by saw Forest wave the gun in the man's face, and saw the man walk away, according to Stoen.

The Fort Bragg Police Department asked the DA's Office to file an assault with a deadly weapon charge against Forest.

Lintott, then district attorney, dismissed the charge in 2008, saying a relative of the young man wrote a statement saying the young man had made threats before.

Forest didn't want the arrest to prevent him from keeping his concealed weapons permit, so he sought a finding of factual innocence to clear his record after Lintott dismissed the charge.

"Are concealed weapons permits now for sale in Mendocino County?" Lintott's radio ad asked.

At the time, Eyster's response to that question was that the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office, not the District Attorney's Office, issues concealed weapons permits, and that it was unusual for a district attorney to recommend that the sheriff deny one.

Forest's complaint says Lintott's ad was slanderous and malicious, because Lintott knew at the time that the assault charge had been dismissed.

The damages Forest names in the complaint include "loss of his personal and business reputation, shame, mortification and injury to his feeling, all of which have caused damage to him in an amount subject to proof at trial."

Forest also claims Lintott made the same accusations about him at an Oct. 22 debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Mendocino County, which was televised locally, and is still available online at the league's website.

The lawsuit also names Does 1 through 20 to include people "responsible in some manner" whose names may be added later.

The claim says Lintott "intended to cause (Forest) emotional distress or acted with reckless disregard of the probability of causing (him) emotional distress," and that her statements were "reprehensible, in blatant violation of law or policy, and that her torturous conduct rose to a level of extreme indifference to his rights, which decent citizens should not have to tolerate."

The lawsuit, filed by Ukiah attorney David M. Kindopp, is due in court for a case management conference in March of 2012.

(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal.)

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WASHINGTON­ — Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) today invited President Barack Obama to visit California’s North Coast to discuss closing the digital divide in rural America. During last night’s State of the Union Address, President Obama called for a major investment in “21st century infrastructure—modern ports, stronger bridges, faster trains and the fastest internet. My constituents who currently have slow connection speeds and intermittent Internet service know the importance of broadband access for economic development and a vibrant quality of life. Bringing reliable broadband to underserved rural areas would improve educational opportunities, expand access to healthcare, and help local businesses,” Huffman wrote. “I respectfully invite you to travel to the North Coast and meet firsthand with the people on the frontline of closing the digital divide in rural America. I believe that visiting the region and seeing the work that must be done to connect these communities — and the significant value that broadband connections would bring — would be instructive to your administration.”

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SNIPER, THE MOVIE: It's usually silly to get upset about the self-righteous way Hollywood moviemakers routinely turn serious subjects into baby food. Film-industry people angrily reject the notion that their movies have to be about anything (except things like "character" and "narrative" and "arc," subjects they can talk about endlessly).

This is the same Hollywood culture that turned the horror and divisiveness of the Vietnam War era into a movie about a platitude-spewing doofus with leg braces who in the face of terrible moral choices eats chocolates and plays Ping-Pong. The message of Forrest Gump was that if you think about the hard stuff too much, you'll either get AIDS or lose your legs. Meanwhile, the hero is the idiot who just shrugs and says "Whatever!" whenever his country asks him to do something crazy.

Forrest Gump pulled in over half a billion and won Best Picture. So what exactly should we have expected from American Sniper?

Not much. But even by the low low standards of this business, it still manages to sink to a new depth or two.

The thing is, the mere act of trying to make a typically Hollywoodian one-note fairy tale set in the middle of the insane moral morass that is/was the Iraq occupation is both dumber and more arrogant than anything George Bush or even Dick Cheney ever tried.

No one expected 20 minutes of backstory about the failed WMD search, Abu Ghraib, or the myriad other American atrocities and quick-trigger bombings that helped fuel the rise of ISIL and other groups.

But to turn the Iraq war into a saccharine, almost PG-rated two-hour cinematic diversion about a killing machine with a heart of gold (is there any film theme more perfectly 2015-America than that?) who slowly, very slowly, starts to feel bad after shooting enough women and children – Gump notwithstanding, that was a hard one to see coming…

— Matt Taibbi

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COVER UP THOSE LEGS, PLEASE

by Dick Meister

I suppose it's nice that summer is here. Flowers, sunshine, warm weather and all that, they're great. But I think the cooler seasons are much better. For except for the occasional addled jogger who doesn't mind his legs turning blue, there are no men to be seen on our streets in short pants during the often cold, gray seasons.

My problem is that seeing people in short pants causes me to remember things I'd very much rather not remember. It's been more than 60 years, but I still itch -- all over -- on remembering the last pair of short pants forced on me by my parents. Heavy, gray and very scratchy tweed they were, with a very scratchy matching jacket.

It's with genuine pain that I recall sitting in church in that itchy little suit, a pitiful figure trying desperately to heed the sotto voce commands of my elders to "quit squirming... quit squirming!"

The short pants we wore in the Boy Scouts along with our nifty Smokey Bear campaign hats were even worse. Tramp, tramp we'd ramble through the woods, and out I'd come -- every single time -- with a brilliant crimson rash covering my bare legs. Scratching, always scratching -- and always returning for yet another hike, and yet another dose of poison oak. For far too much of my youth, my legs were covered with that crusty white goop known as calamine lotion.

And remember how frightening those Frankenstein movies were the first time you saw them? I do, every time I see a grown man in short pants. I haven't forgotten those hyperactive peasants in lederhosen chasing the monster all over the Austrian countryside, and him turning on them to casually tear off a bare peasant leg or arm or two before galloping off to further mayhem.

I haven't forgotten, either, what seemed at the time to be the greatest humiliation of my entire life. As a matter of fact, I think it still stands as the greatest humiliation of my entire life.

What could be worse, after all, than having to play baseball in short pants? I mean real baseball against real baseball teams wearing real baseball knickers and in front of real baseball fans. Imagine that! And me an 18-year-old certain he was headed for the major leagues.

It happened in the summer of 1951. The team with the short pants was the Talmage Sluggers, considered to be one of the best of Northern California's many semi-professional teams, one the major league scouts watched closely.

The Sluggers literally went Hollywood. The Hollywood Stars, desperate to increase attendance at their Pacific Coast League games, had broken baseball's decades-old dress code the previous summer by exchanging baggy flannel knickers for short flannel pants. Hollywood got the attention it was after. People flocked to Coast League stadiums to gape at the knobby-kneed Stars.

If it worked for the Hollywood Stars, it might just work for the Talmage Sluggers. Besides, it was hot in Talmage -- the short pants would help. Thus the Sluggers ordered a batch of the peculiar pants from the Stars' supplier.

It worked. At home or away, lots of people turned out to watch us play in what the local newspapers invariably pointed out as our "Hollywood uniforms."

The underdressed Sluggers won most of the games, too. But, oh, the painful scrapes suffered from sliding into bases bare legged. Oh, the whistles and jeers and wisecracks from the grandstands and the opposing teams' dugouts. I'm not claiming it had any effect on my playing. Not at all. Some of you might wonder, though, why it is I never made it to the major leagues.

I have a confession, however. I once forgot the lessons of my youth. My only excuse is that it was during a mind-boggling heat wave. I had this perfectly good pair of jeans with holes in the knees, so I grabbed up the scissors and chopped off the jeans just above the holes. That gave me, I must admit, a pair of very cool and comfortable short pants.

It didn't stop there. When it was decided that stylish men should no longer wear bell-bottom trousers, out came the scissors again. My no longer stylish bell-bottoms quickly became stylish cutoffs -- denim cutoffs, white duck cutoffs, khaki cutoffs, corduroy cutoffs.

But soon clothing manufacturers soon realized there was no profit in allowing men to make their own short pants. So it was decreed that men of fashion must wear store-bought short pants -- jogging shorts, hiking shorts, bicycling shorts, walking-the-streets shorts, wear-anywhere shorts.

That jolted me back to sanity. Imagine actually paying for a pair of short pants. There still are a few of us who haven't done that since we were kids.

(Copyright©Dick Meister.)

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Stormy
Stormy

SPECIAL OFFER from the Shelter

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CRAIG'S FAVE

The blog that Ron Huber (director of Penobscot Bay Watch in Rockland, Maine and an iconic Earth First!er), created and maintains for me because he said that Craig Louis Stehr "mirrors postmodernism more than anybody I know, and that is the opinion of many others on the east coast" has been updated. I invite you to enjoy a reflection of the global civilization in which you are living, by clicking on this convenient link: http://craiglstehr.blogspot.com

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