- Weather Watching
- McKenty Popped
- Street Violence
- Palace Dilemma
- Yesterday's Catch
- Mountain Raid
- AV Memories
- Wolf Fest
- Vigorous Protest
- Fundraiser Fizzles
- Wild Mustangs
- Revenge Killing
- Overprescription Epidemic
- Fire Restrictions
- Health Survey
- Escareno's Chance
- Defendants Plea
- Stop War
- Two Races
- Mendopride March
- FBI/DOJ Findings
- Minimum Wage
- Examining Racism
EVERYONE'S TALKING. About the weather. A reader describes his view from the Anderson Valley Thursday morning: "It is blessedly cool here this morning. We had a spectacular cloud show this morning — fascinating shapes in brilliant sunrise reds and yellows — and since then, to the northeast, we’ve been watching rain showers falling on the Mendocino National Forestlands in the vicinity of Mt Sanhedrin."
KZYX DISSIDENT DOUG MCKENTY, a resident of Elk, has been arrested on pot-related charges, lightweight charges given his bail of a mere $25,000. The roving County narco squad swoops down randomly, it seems, confining its attentions pretty much to the low-hanging fruit, in this case McKenty, a long-time resident of the Mendocino Coast. McKenty had been a loyal programmer at Mendo County Radio prior to his purge for the crime of whatever it was — muted criticism of station management, as I recall.
THERE'S A STEADY level of street violence these days, even in the generally sedate precincts of bucolic Mendocino County — a murder last week in Covelo, the recent menacing of Supervisor McCowen by a known-to-be-violent street guy, several fighting drunks out of Fort Bragg, and the usual low-intensity mayhem whose perps show up daily in the Sheriff's Log. But yesterday's random shooting murder at Pier 14 near the Ferry Building in San Francisco has inspired horror in everyone. A street guy, with a history of assault, shot 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle an has she walked with her father in the early evening.
BECAUSE LOCAL JAILS are perennially overcrowded, and now more overcrowded than ever thanks to Governor Brown's “realignment” program, there is a harder element on the street than there was at this time last year. Realignment, if you came in late, sends supposedly low-level offenders from state prisons to county jails where, after a brief stop, they are released to the streets under supervision that exists more in theory than in practice.
THERE'S NO LEADERSHIP, at any level of government, on the homeless issue. Romantics seem to think the term is synonymous with vagabond, carefree dudes with songs in their hearts who only need a break or a hundred to resume life as productive citizens. If you argue that a lot of the homeless are beyond help outside lock-up facilities that don't presently exist except for the jails they're confined to on a rotating basis, you're denounced as heartless. That's where the discussion is stuck between the rock of delusion and the hard place of a growing population of volatile street people, most of them deranged on dope and alcohol. Or simply deranged, like the pathetic character arrested an hour after he shot the young Pleasanton woman for no reason at all.
UKIAH HAS FINALLY started seeking receivership for the abandoned Palace Hotel. Ukiah has argued about what to do with the Palace for a quarter century of promises by the present owner that she was determined to rehab the faded structure. Now the City of Ukiah will have to figure out what to do with it.
RECEIVERSHIP can be a very good deal for the owner, a Marin County realtor named Laines. Ukiah could fix the decrepit three-story landmark up at public expense and be required to give it back to Ms. Laines. Given the condition of the old hotel, however, Ukiah is more likely to wind up bulldozing it, saddling downtown Ukiah with much more of an eyesore than is now presented by the brick and ivy wreckage of the Palace.
CATCH OF THE DAY, July 2, 2015
ROBERT CAMPBELL II, Ukiah. Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)
MEGAN CHAMPION, Ukiah. Pot possession for sale, conspiracy.
CHARLES GIBSON, Fort Bragg. Possession of meth for sale.
DOUGLAS MCKENTY, Elk. Pot cultivation, processing, possession for sale.
TASHA ORNELAS, Ukiah. Petty theft, under influence of controlled substance, battery on peace officer. (Frequent flyer.)
JASON PRATT, Ukiah. Possession of switchblade in vehicle, evasion, suspended license.
ROLANDO RUIZ, Ukiah. Dirk/dagger, probation revocation.
LUCAS SEYMOUR, Ukiah. Pot possession for sale, conspiracy.
JAMIE TELLEZ, Jurupa Valley/Ukiah. DUI.
JEFFREY WILHELMI, Willits. DUI.
BRYAN WILLIAMS, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
SEARCH WARRANTS REVEAL NEW DETAILS ABOUT LAST WEEK’S ISLAND MOUNTAIN RAIDS
by Hank Sims
Last week’s tri-county marijuana cultivation raids in the Island Mountain area have drawn a lot of attention, not only locally but statewide. Mother Jones, the New York Times and many others have all taken note of the “raid of the decade,” with much of the coverage focusing on the connection to environmental consequences of large-scale backwoods weed operations in a time of drought. The raids were Exhibit A in a state Senate hearing on marijuana and water politics Wednesday.
According to Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman, over 85,000 plants were found and eradicated in the raids over a four-day period and across Mendocino, Trinity and Humboldt counties, along with lots of processed buds, hash, guns, ammunition and multitudinous environmental violations. The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office issued its own, Humboldt-specific tally on Friday, and noted that local law enforcement had obtained seven separate search warrants that it served in the area last week.
Those search warrants are slowly trickling back into the Humboldt County Superior Court’s records office. As of this morning, three of the seven were available for public viewing, and they provide some detail on the targets of the raids and how the Sheriff’s Office came to develop probable cause to conduct an eradication operation in the Island Mountain area.
Lt. Wayne Hanson of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office told the Outpost this morning that his office still has yet to arrest anyone in connection with the raids, but he affirmed that arrest warrants would likely be forthcoming.
The three search warrant files available for view Thursday morning each contained an affidavit from Deputy Sheriff Conan Moore, who testified that he developed probable cause to search the properties in question during a flyover of the area on June 11. In each case, he and colleagues took photos of large-scale operations on the parcels which were eventually targeted — hoop houses, greenhouses, open marijuana fields — and that these photographs, together with his experience and training, led him to conclude that illegal operations — illegal cultivation “exceeding what would be reasonable for medical purposes” — were “very probably present” on the sites.
Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Dale Reinholtsen authorized the warrants on June 17.
One of the warrants issued was for 908 Hogtrap Road, also known as Humboldt County assessor’s parcel #218-071-003, which is owned by John J. Perricone and Ann F. Hammond. In his affidavit, Deputy Moore testified that he saw an open-field marijuana grow and 16 large hoop-style greenhouses on the site during his flyover, along with heavy machinery working on a water holding pond and 22 large water tanks on a ridgeline associated with the property.
According to the “return sheet” attached to the warrant, on the day of the raid officers discovered over 5,000 plants at this location, along with trash bags and tote bags filled with bud, a scale and a Seal-a-Meal, in addition to what officers characterize as “pay and owe” financial records, presumably relating to the sale of weed.
Perricone is a cofounder of California Cannabis Voice-Humboldt, according to a January story in the Redwood Times, and is presumably the person referred to in last week’s Outpost story about the connection between the Island Mountain raids and the local lobbying organization for cannabis farmers.
A second search warrant covered two adjacent parcels on South Face Road — APN numbers 218-081-005 and 218-101-005, belonging to William F. Walter and Hsueh-Mei Yang. Deputy Moore testified that he spotted several distinct growing operations from the air at the site, including more hoop houses and raised beds containing hundreds of plants. On the day it was raided, deputies logged 3,500 plants, 860 pounds of “processed” marijuana and 1,267 pounds of “drying” marijuana, along with scales, another Seal-a-Meal, and firearms and ammunition.
The third warrant available Thursday morning was served on the easternmost parcels — parcel numbers #218-151-006 and #218-181-003, owned, according to the warrant, by Sally Peterson and Mary Hoogeveen. Officers spotted 10 hoop greenhouses and an open-field grow from the air during the flyover, according to Moore’s affidavit. At least four firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition were confiscated when the search warrant was served at this site, along with 3,056 live plants, 157 pounds of “processed bud” and more of “manicured” and “dried” bud.
(NOTE: KMUD news director Terri Klemetson tells us that despite being listed in the affidavit as a co-owner of the parcels above, Mary Hoogeveen died last year.)
It is not known when the other four search warrants served in the Island Mountain raids will be made public. Lt. Hanson told the Outpost Thursday that he is uncertain exactly what stage the deputies working the case are at, at the moment, though he said that they are still actively processing the requisite paperwork.
THOSE WERE THE DAYS
Ain’t it fun, growing old and having time, and perspective, to write to old friends? Recently here in Wisconsin I wanted to open a new friend’s eyes to the possibility of home-schooling for a teenage son flunking out of high school who wanted to do nothing but compose electronic music using high-powered software. I recommended the Colfaxes’ book on homeschooling and then, seeing listed their other book I’d never read, “Hard Times in Paradise,” I checked it out of the library and read it for the first time. What memories it brought back!
Turns out the Colfaxes and I came to Anderson Valley within months of each other, in 1973, and lived similar lifestyles, off the grid, with no phone, no electric lights, and a home-made water-delivery system. Our families were both sort of hippie back-to-the-landers in a non-hippie way. But we, and others figuring how to eke out a living, belonged to the bulk-food-buying co-op. I remember the sticky, messy job of trying to somehow ladle out five gallons of honey into one-quart containers for the members! I think maybe we never ordered bulk honey again! But my kids still talk about the 20 pounds of green spaghetti I ordered that had weevils in it but I made them eat it anyhow!
And then have you been in the Valley long enough to remember the Free Clothing Exchange? All of us with kids loved this community idea! As our kids outgrew their clothes, we took clothes and kids to the Exchange in one of the Fairgrounds buildings, where we left the outgrown clothes and tried on and took home the castoffs of our friends and neighbors. It was a wonderful idea, except that just a pile of cast-off clothes became too much of a mess for someone or other, and I guess the use of the building came to an end.
And then I had the additional similarity to that of the Colfaxes. David got blackballed by academia for political activism during the Vietnam War, I got accidentally blackballed by the AVUSD, so couldn’t make a living in the country, as I had always assumed I could. So I eventually had to give up and go back to the Bay Area for well-paid employment.
Now, here in Wisconsin in retirement, I googled all the tourist possibilities listed in that recent Wall Street Journal double page spread! It is a voyeuristic experience, looking at properties where an address is given, (or enough description that you can figure it out on Google Maps). You get a satellite image that goes down to 50 feet magnification, so you can clearly identify your own car in your own yard, if you’re looking at your own property. Looking at other Valley properties is a real eye-opener as to how the Valley population has changed over the past 42 years. No wonder the run-down remains of Tony Delaqua’s homestead on Peachland Road was cheap to buy back in 1970 by comparison with what it is worth today, even though it was not cheap for our two families to agree to go together to make it affordable, and spend the next 20 years paying off the mortgage.
Then I checked Thomas Pikety’s book “Capital in the Twenty First Century” out of the library and skimmed over all the economist graphs but started reading when he got interesting, like pointing out that once you have wealth, it keeps on growing without your doing any further work, giving as the example Bill Gates’ net worth multiplying by 10 or 20 times in the 20 years between 1990 and 2010 without his creating any second Microsoft.
Also interesting was Pikety’s warning that our governments, in France, and England, and the US (and others) need to use taxation to stop the trend creating the super rich and leaving the rest of society further and further behind.
I’m delighted to read in the AVA and occasionally elsewhere, such as newsletters of the AV Historical Society, and the AV Land Trust, and about the Senior Housing, and Health Center, and Education Foundation and Ambulance news in the AVA, how many of these newcomers to the Valley are volunteering their time and talents to community organizations. But for more sense of where the Valley was before the recent influx of money and the new industries of wine-making and tourism, I suggest they not only attend the AV Historical Society events, but read the Colfaxes’ book for a first-person account of what it was like then so they can appreciate how different it is now.
From becoming-an-old-geezer like you, your old friend geezerette
Black Earth, Wisconsin
Last weekend’s Kate Wolf Festival — Report From The Front.
I thought I might send a short note about how the 20th Annual Kate Wolf Festival went. Again it was another wonderful music venue, though a touch hot with most days at 100 plus degrees. For their 20th year things are slipping though. Thursday was a fiasco, gates opened at 12:30 PM. Reminded me of an old Le Mans Race start. At that time our camper was about a mile from the entry gates in standstill traffic. Hwy 101 north of Laytonville was at a standstill! It took over an hour and a half sitting in 104 degree heat on Hwy 101 before we could enter the Black Oak Ranch grounds. Next step was to stand in line to exchange our PC Printed tickets for an armband and a camping pass. We were directed to stand in line out in a field amongst 500 other patrons as the staff of only four ticket takers handled Pre-sales, Will Call and ticket sales. It was abusive to treat us dedicated followers of the Kate Wolf Festival in such a way, 20th Annual!!! Our group of six was ready for the heat, but not the line in and the line of 500 to watch four folks do a very simple task with today's barcode technology. I proposed to Cumulus Presents, Inc. that they open the gates every day at 8 AM. I also proposed that they use bar code technology better and have at least 12 or more handling tickets in the ticket booth to start, if not out in the field as folks drive in and while in their vehicles. My plan is to send off a letter, mentioning my issues and suggestions, to Cumulus Presents, Inc and asked them to address my concerns before I decide to attend my 7th Kate Wolf Festival with my group of music lovers. I hope some of your readers / Kate Wolf Festers might send a memo to Cumulus Presents with similar demands as well. We might just head over to your beloved Sierra Nevada Music Festival instead.
PS. In the ticket line, the person in front of me was asking questions about pricing for a 2, 3 or 4 day ticket and starting info. Could you imagine someone jumping through the same lines and heat and not really sure they want to attend? All the info is easily accessible in the comfort of your home or even a coffee shop. I also observed several patrons suffering from heat stroke and some being attended to by staff.
EUPHEMISM of the day, sent out to telecom customers:
"We are escalating aggressively to get this issue resolved."
FORT BRAGG FIREWORKS FUNDRAISER FIZZLES OUT
Raised $225, Seeking To Raise $5,500
Well sometimes a "Gofundme" page works — and sometimes it doesn't. Take the case of the effort to raise $5,500 for the annual Fort Bragg fireworks display. Over the past 30 days, ten people donated a total of $225 — far short of the goal. At least you can see a video of last year's show on the page though.
(Ed note: Maybe if Fort Bragg wasn't paying so much bread to management and outside lawyers, it might have a few bucks for the circuses its citizens enjoy.)
ON JUNE 27, 2015, at approximately 9:15a.m., Officers of the Fort Bragg Police Department were dispatched to the intersection of Boatyard Drive and S. Main Street. A call was generated for hit-and-run traffic collision which resulted in a verbal altercation between the involved parties. Officers located victims Charles Viggers and Claudelle Zack near their vehicle. Zack complained of chest pain. An ambulance was dispatched and Zack was later treated at the Mendocino Coast District Hospital. Both the victims and identified witnesses reported two primer black Ford Mustangs as being the suspect vehicles involved in the collision. One of the Mustangs was involved in the collision with Zack and Vigger’s Toyota Prius, and the other associated Mustang returned to the scene immediately following the collision to confront the victims. Both Mustangs fled the scene prior to Officers’ arrival and a Be On the Lookout (BOLO) alert for the Mustangs was immediately disseminated to surrounding law enforcement agencies. Based on the witness and victim’s statements, Officers were able to create a photo lineup of the drivers of both Mustangs. The photo lineups were later presented to the victims and witnesses who were able to positively identify the driver of the Mustang involved in the collision as a male juvenile from Willits. Based on this identification, Officers were able to identify the second driver as Timothy J. King, 39, of Willits. Officers then issued an updated BOLO requesting the arrest of the juvenile driver and Timothy King. At approximately 12:22pm, the Ukiah Police Department (UPD) notified the Fort Bragg Police Department that they had received a call reporting two Ford Mustangs behind the Ukiah Walmart being spray painted. UPD arrived on scene and located Timothy King spray painting two Ford Mustangs. Both of the vehicles were later identified as the suspect Mustangs. The male juvenile suspect was located inside of Walmart and both King and he were arrested. King was arrested for Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor, Felony Criminal Conspiracy and Tampering with Evidence. King was transported to the Mendocino County Jail. The juvenile suspect was arrested for Felony Hit-and-Run with Injury, Felony Criminal Conspiracy and Unlicensed Driver. The juvenile was transported to Mendocino County Juvenile Hall. The Fort Bragg Police Department would like to thank the Ukiah Police Department and particularly Sergeant Noble Waidelich for their assistance in solving this crime.
(Fort Bragg Police Department Press Release)
DEATH PENALTY: WHY NOT CALL IT WHAT IT REALLY IS?
Generally the death penalty is referred to as capital punishment or execution. I would suggest more appropriate terms would be — State Sanctioned Killing or Revenge Killing. Our country purports to be a Christian nation but unlike most other Christian countries we still have the death penalty. I would ask this question of those Christians who support the death penalty: If you profess to be a Christian and you walk in the steps of Jesus how can you justify your support for State Sanctioned Killings (aka Revenge Killings)?
In peace and love,
Jim Updegraff, Sacramento
MORE TEETH REQUIRED FOR THE MEDICAL BOARD OF CALIFORNIA IN THE EFFORT TO CONTROL THE METHADONE/OPIATE PRESCRIPTION EPIDEMIC AND PROTECT THE PUBLIC HEALTH
Imagine a Boeing 737 crashing, killing all on board, every day for eight months. The number of dead would equal the yearly death rate in the US from prescription opiate use. The Center for Disease Control has documented over 37,000 deaths per year from narcotic prescriptions. They call this an epidemic.
One way to control the epidemic at its source is to more broadly empower the Medical Board. Presently The Board is only allowed to investigate a physician for overprescribing dangerous drugs if someone files an official complaint form and sends it to The Medical Board. An investigation ensues which may take two years. This is followed by an accusation from the Attorney General. The case may take another year to come to court. During this entire period the physician is able to continue overprescribing without restraint, thus gravely endangering the Public Health.
This threat to Public Health can be reduced in part by allowing the Medical Board to monitor the CURES computer system that records all prescriptions for narcotics every month state wide. Any prescription for the equivalent of over 90 mg of Morphine Sulfate per day should trigger an alert, constituting an immediate threat to Public Health. The involved physician should immediately be investigated, and educated. If the prescribing behavior does not rapidly improve then discipline and restrictions must be placed on the ability to prescribe dangerous drugs. These restrictions may be changed at the court hearing where the physician is granted due process.
Delay means more addiction, and deaths.
Dr. Nayvin Gordon
FOREST VISITORS ASKED TO BE CAREFUL AND AWARE THIS FOURTH OF JULY
The employees of the Mendocino National Forest want to remind visitors to have a safe Fourth of July holiday, especially while recreating in the forest. With hot and dry conditions continuing, visitors are asked to be careful with fire in the National Forest, including campfires, gas stoves and lanterns, and to comply with current fire restrictions. All fireworks, including sparklers, are prohibited on the Mendocino National Forest. The Forest is currently under fire restrictions, which means there are limitations on where campfires, gas stoves, lanterns and internal combustion engines - including chainsaws - can be used. Recreation sites are posted with the information. More information on fire restrictions can also be found at www.fs.usda.gov/mendocino. Nighttime temperatures are generally cooler in the mountains, and even during summer there is the possibility of storms. Visitors should be prepared for changing conditions. Bring layered clothing and plenty of food and water on your outdoor adventure. Tell someone where you plan to go, which routes you plan to take and when you plan to be back. "We want everyone to have a safe and memorable Fourth of July weekend, especially those joining us on the Forest," said Forest Supervisor Ann Carlson. "With fire restrictions starting this week and the effects of the ongoing drought, it's important that visitors are aware of the current conditions and use caution with anything that can spark a wildfire. We want everyone to have a safe and fun holiday weekend - including visitors and firefighters." All Mendocino National Forest offices will be closed Friday, July 3, in observance of the holiday. The Stonyford Work Center, located at 5171 Stonyford-Elk Creek Road, will be open Saturday, July 4. The information center can also be reached at 530-963-3128. To learn more about fire prevention, including "One Less Spark - One Less Wildfire," visit www.preventwildfireca.org.
The site also offers California Campfire Permits online. For more information, please contact the Mendocino National Forest at 530-934-3316 or visit www.fs.usda.gov/mendocino.
COMMUNITY HEALTH NEEDS ASSESSMENT
Community Health Survey
Healthy Mendocino has partnered with Mendocino County Health and Human Services Agency, Ukiah Valley Medical Center, Frank R. Howard Memorial Hospital, the Alliance for Rural Community Health, and North Coast Opportunities to complete a county-wide community health needs assessment to identify the specific needs and challenges of the community.
As part of the project, the coalition developed an anonymous, community-wide survey that Mendocino County residents are asked to complete by Sunday, August 2.
The survey asks about a range of health issues, including gaps in health care services, general health and insurance information, and housing barriers, and more. It also asks respondents to identify the most pressing issues facing Mendocino County families. The survey is available on Healthy Mendocino.org and the HHSA-Public Health website, and it is also available in print form, in English and Spanish, from one of these representatives:
Patrice Mascolo | Healthy Mendocino 707.467-3228; firstname.lastname@example.org
Samantha Kinney | Mendocino County Health and Human Services Agency 707.472.2793; email@example.com
The coalition will use the findings of the anonymous survey, along with information gathered through focus groups, a key informant survey, and publicly available data to develop a Community Health Improvement Plan that prioritizes the health needs of Mendocino County residents and sets goals and short-and long-term strategies to achieve them.
Healthy Mendocino Coordinator
North Coast Opportunities
413 North State St.
Ukiah, CA 95482
707-467-3200 ext. 228
COASTAL DEFENDANT GIVEN ONE FINAL CHANCE TO ELUDE STATE PRISON
On the eve of jury selection scheduled for this past Tuesday morning, Marcos Cattarino Escareno, age 22, of Manchester, instead plead guilty on Monday to a felony assault by force likely to inflict great bodily injury, and admitted that he had personally inflicted great bodily injury on the victim. As required by law, Escareno was referred to the adult probation department for a background study and sentencing recommendation prior to his formal sentencing on May 11, 2015 in the Fort Bragg division of the Mendocino County Superior Court. Some may recognize the defendant’s name from past news coverage and realize that this defendant is the same once 14-year-old boy who was previously prosecuted as an adult and convicted in 2009 of voluntary manslaughter for the February 2007 killing of Enoch Cruz with a firearm. Sentenced in March 2010 to ten years in state prison, Escareno was instead housed at the California Youth Authority, a housing placement for which the defendant was not eligible because of his firearm use. Nevertheless, when the Youth Authority was shuttered by the passage of the Realignment laws in 2011, Escareno was returned to Mendocino County and tapped by the state juvenile authorities for early release back into the community. District Attorney David Eyster objected at that time, asserting that Escareno’s original placement at the Youth Authority was illegal, that the defendant still had significant prison time to serve, and that any remaining time should be served in an actual prison facility. Over the DA’s objections, on March 21, 2014 the local court ordered that Escareno’s abbreviated stay at the Youth Authority shall be deemed a fully-completed state prison sentence. Freed of the threat of prison, Escareno was ordered to report to the state parole authorities for supervision in the community. Thereafter, on October 4, 2014, while Escareno was under parole supervision, Sheriff deputies were called to the Manchester area where a victim who had sustained major trauma to the head and upper body was located and interviewed. The man told the deputies he had been at a birthday party next to the Garcia River when he was attacked by two adult male subjects who had subsequently fled the scene. The man said he knew one of the men by name and further investigation confirmed that man to be Escareno. By plea agreement, Escareno will be sentenced on May 11th to a suspended state prison sentence of six years. Escareno will be on the intensive supervision caseload of the adult probation department for the next 60 months with no early termination of that supervision allowed. Any finding during the next five years that the defendant has violated his probation will cause the six year state prison sentence to be imposed. The new conviction is also a Strike under California’s newly-revised Three Strikes law. If Escareno ever again perpetrates serious or violent criminal conduct, the DA has promised he will not falter in using the Three Strikes law to send Escareno away for life. This “one last chance” opportunity was discussed with last October’s victim and he expressed his approval of the resolution. The trial prosecutor who had prepared to take this case before a local jury and who negotiated the strict terms of the disposition is Deputy District Attorney Kevin Davenport, one of the DA’s two senior prosecutors assigned to Mr. Eyster’s Fort Bragg office.
(District Attorney’s Press Release)
DA DAVE EYSTER posted this case update on the DA’s office Facebook site on Friday afternoon — from Judge John Behnke's courtroom.
UKIAH, July 2. — A jury trial scheduled for July 13 was averted when the two co-defendants — Abraham Volstein Norton, age 31, of Berkeley, and Pasqual Mote Young, age 30, of Richmond — entered no contest pleas Friday afternoon in Department B of the Mendocino County Superior Court to the illegal transportation of marijuana, a felony. As background, two automobiles seemingly traveling together were stopped by CHP officers back in July 2013 to investigate reported reckless driving and speeding. As that highway encounter progressed, it was ultimately discovered that the two men were traveling together from Shelter Cove to the Bay Area and together were transporting over 135 pounds of black market-ready processed marijuana. Each defendant was referred today by Judge Behnke to the Mendocino County’s Adult Probation department for a background study and sentencing recommendation. Defendant Norton was ordered to be present for formal sentencing on August 26, 2015 at 9 o'clock in the morning in Dept. B. Defendant Young was ordered to be present for formal sentencing on September 2, 2015 at the same time and in the same department. The prosecutor in this case was District Attorney David Eyster. The investigating law enforcement agencies who worked on this case are the California Highway Patrol and the Mendocino County Major Crimes Task Force. For additional background information on defendant Norton, see the below story from 2013. Please note that defendant Norton "threw in the towel," in the words of the article's writer, on the Federal marijuana charges in April 2013 and the felony offense in Mendocino County happened three months later. Defendant Norton is also currently pending sentencing in Sonoma County on yet another marijuana felony.
* * *
East Bay pot merchants raise white flag, take plea deal in long-running federal case
By Gary Klien, Marin Independent Journal
05/02/2013 — Two brothers who ran a lucrative marijuana business in the East Bay — buying Mercedes Benzes and real estate, but also paying state taxes and following local regulations — have pleaded guilty to federal charges, ending their five-year legal fight with the government.
Winslow Lazer Norton of Emeryville and Abraham Volstein Norton of Walnut Creek agreed to a sentence of six months in jail and six months on home detention. They also agreed to forfeit some $600,000 in revenues.
Sentencing is set for August, but Winslow, 32, has already started serving his time. Last month, the federal government revoked his bail after a traffic stop in San Rafael revealed 2 pounds of marijuana in his car.
The California Highway Patrol initially pulled him over because he was talking on his cellphone. April was "Distracted Drivers Awareness Month."
The Nortons have been litigating against the federal government since 2007, when they were indicted on charges of drug distribution, money laundering and conspiracy.
Federal authorities said the brothers' Hayward-based business — the Compassionate Collective of Alameda County, or the Compassionate Patients' Cooperative — was a large-scale trafficking and money-laundering operation.
Authorities said the operation's revenues shot from $74,000 in 2004 to $21.5 million in 2006 and $26.3 million in the first half of 2007. Investigators seized several hundred pounds of marijuana, $200,000 in cash, bank accounts, IRAs, real estate and two Mercedes Benzes.
The federal government also confiscated about $600,000 the brothers said was intended for state tax payments. Now the state Board of Equalization lists the brothers on its roster of the top 500 sales- and use-tax delinquents. The board's website reports balances of more than $1 million for the brothers and $1 million for the Compassionate Patients' Cooperative.
The Nortons' lawyers described them as pioneers who were trying to find a legitimate marijuana business model in a society showing increasing tolerance for marijuana legalization.
The brothers had a potentially strong hand to play early in the case, their lawyers said. When Alameda County supervisors were considering whether to allow three pot dispensaries about a decade ago, Sheriff Charles Plummer was on record assuring the audience that federal authorities would not interfere as long as the operators followed state and local regulations, defense attorneys said.
Based on that assurance, the Nortons got one of the permits. But after their indictment, a federal judge ruled they could not use the sheriff's statements as defense evidence for the jury, said Doron Weinberg, Winslow's lawyer.
On April 19, the brothers finally threw in the towel and took a plea offer, admitting to conspiracy and money laundering. In addition to the ruinous legal expenses, they were facing a mandatory minimum of five years in federal prison if they lost at trial, and possibly 10 years or more.
"They shouldn't have to spend a minute in custody," Weinberg said. "As a lawyer, you get the best result you can."
The brothers honestly believed they were doing a good thing in their work, said Abraham's lawyer, Stuart Hanlon.
"They were helping people," he said. "They were following the law as they were told."
Two other codefendants — the Nortons' father, Michael, and a facility manager, Brian Everett — pleaded guilty to using a telephone for a drug crime. They will be placed on probation.
The four defendants will be sentenced Aug. 8 by U.S. District Judge D. Lowell Jensen in San Jose.
The Marin County District Attorney's Office has not filed charges related to the traffic stop in San Rafael. In addition to the 2 pounds of marijuana, Winslow Norton had about $15,000 in cash, the CHP said.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Viktor Frankl posited that there are but two “races”; the decent and the indecent. Anybody who has lived as an adult for a few years in a polyglot society should be able to grasp the verity of Frankl’s proposition. We can argue with facts back and forth as to which racial group has a greater percentage of the indecent, often demonstrating significant correlation. Alas, the consequence of such putatively logical behavior relegates the decent among them to perdition. Must we accept this as “collateral damage?” This should be deeply disturbing to anyone with compassion.
SECOND ANNUAL MENDOPRIDE MARCH
Sunday July 19, 2015
Gather: Ukiah, 10 a.m. at Scott & North State Street
March begins promptly at 11a.m.
The march will go along the west sidewalk of State Street to Alex Thomas Plaza
We encourage those who are not marching to stand on the east sidewalk of State Street and applaud!
Once we arrive at Alex Thomas Plaza Prepare to Celebrate
12 noon- 5 p.m. with Food, Music and Entertainment
Come as an Ally, Come as a community member
This is a family friendly 0111 LGBTQ Community Event
Please Friend us on Facebook at Mendocino Pride or come to one of the planning meetings.
For vendor applications please email Christy at Mendopride@gmail.com
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SONOMA COUNTY SHERIFF RECEIVES FINDINGS FROM FBI AND DOJ IN SHOOTING DEATH: NO CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATIONS.
Sonoma County Sheriff's Office www.SonomaSheriff.org
Sonoma County Sheriff Steve Freitas was notified today of the investigative findings of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and United States Department of Justice regarding Deputy Erick Gelhaus and the shooting death of Andy Lopez in October, 2013.
The FBI conducted an independent review of the actions of Deputy Gelhaus. The Sheriff, District Attorney, and Santa Rosa Police Department welcomed and cooperated with this additional investigation. The FBI investigation, which was reviewed by the United States Department of Justice, concluded that there were no federal civil rights violations. The FBI's report supports the findings of the Sonoma County District Attorney and our own internal investigation.
Sheriff Steve Freitas and the members of the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office are pleased that all the investigations into the matter have been completed.
The Sheriff again expresses his sincere appreciation to the other law enforcement agencies who conducted investigations and reviews on this case: Santa Rosa Police Department, Petaluma Police Department, Sonoma County District Attorney's Office, FBI, and United States Department of Justice. The Sheriff reaffirms his support and confidence in Deputy Gelhaus and the work done by the men and women of the Sheriff's Office to provide public safety services to the citizens of Sonoma County.
(Sonoma County Sheriff's Office, 2796 Ventura Ave, Santa Rosa, CA 95403)
TIME FOR A RAISE
Where Are the Presidential Candidates on the Minimum Wage?
by Ralph Nader
As the 2016 campaign season gets underway, working families across the country will be very interested in where presidential candidates stand on raising the minimum wage.
Currently, the Federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour or roughly $15,000 annually, far below the $23,500 government’s poverty threshold for a family of four. Some candidates have already made their positions on the minimum wage clear, but there are many that still have not.
Democratic primary candidates Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders have come out in favor of raising the minimum wage to $15.00 over the next several years, a living wage that would lift tens of millions of individuals out of poverty. Others have remained mum on the subject, including former Virginia Senator Jim Webb and former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chaffee.
Perhaps most glaringly silent is the front-runner, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She has spoken many times about making sure that individuals will make enough money to survive, including most recently at the Fight for $15 conference in June where she said, “It is wrong that so many people stand against you thinking that they can steal your wages with no consequences. That even stacks the deck higher for those at the top.” However, Clinton has declined to comment on whether or not she would support a $15 an hour minimum wage, or when she would like to see a wage hike implemented. In 2007, as a Senator, she supported raising the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour and in May, 2014 she finally came out in favor of raising it to $10.10 an hour
The Republican primary, however, has become a race to the bottom for promoting anti-working family policies. Almost all of the Republican candidates support keeping the minimum wage at $7.25 an hour.
Some, however, have gone even farther off the tracks. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has called for the elimination of the minimum wage. Anti-worker Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has said that he doesn’t think that the minimum wage “serves a purpose.” Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee admits that $7.25 is a poverty wage, but does not support raising it.
Billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump supports creating two minimum wages, one for young workers, and a slightly higher one for older workers, so long as it doesn’t create a disincentive for business development. He remains vague about specifics.
There are, however, some Republican candidates who have come out in support of raising the minimum wage. Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum supports an increase smaller than $10.10 an hour, and has stated that he thinks it is important that Republicans support a wage hike to reach out to the middle class. Dr. Ben Carson also supports raising the wage, although he didn’t specify by how much. Carson referred to it as a way for individuals to be removed from public assistance programs.
A 2014 study by the Center for American Progress showed that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would cause a six percent drop in welfare enrollments, saving the American people over four billion dollars a year.
The presidential primaries will offer an opportunity for a broad debate about economic policy and income inequality. It would behoove candidates to take a strong stance on raising the minimum wage. A cost of living restoration to just $11.00 per hour would have people making as much as workers made in 1968, adjusted for inflation.
So far this year, despite Congressional inaction, twenty states and cities are debating legislation to raise their minimum wage. Most recently, Los Angeles voted to increase its minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020 and to tie future increases to inflation. Last year, Seattle voted to increase its wage to $15 by 2017.
Tacoma, Washington’s city council will vote this fall on a wage hike that will raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020 for large businesses, and 2024 for small business.
The minimum wage is not only being debated in state legislatures and city councils, but has also become a ballot issue across the country. Citizens in states and cities across the country are collecting petition signatures for ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage.
In Maine, a group of labor and faith-based groups is pushing to put a minimum wage increase on the ballot in 2016. This is being done because the State Senate was unable to pass an increase last June.
And in 2014, four conservative states had ballot initiatives to raise their state’s minimum wages. Not surprisingly, voters in South Dakota, Nebraska, Arkansas and Alaska all voted overwhelming to raise their minimum wages, with some even tying future increases to the rate of inflation. Voters nationwide also support raising the minimum wage. A survey from Hart Research last January showed that three-quarters of all Americans support raising the minimum wage, and a poll from Gallup in 2013 showed support from over half of all Republicans for raising the minimum wage.
There is also growing conservative support for raising the minimum wage. Supporters of a hike include former Republican Governor of Minnesota Tim Pawlenty and Illinois’ Republican Governor Bruce Rauner. Even Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and conservative author Phyllis Schlafly support raising the minimum wage. Former 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney also supports raising the minimum wage, claiming, “Our party is all about more jobs and better pay.”
It’s time for the candidates from all parties to reject the corporate dogma that allows companies to pay exploitative wages and force their employees onto public assistance. And it is time for CEOs and members of Congress to raise the minimum wage so people can provide for themselves and for their families.
Visit timeforaraise.org for more information.
(Ralph Nader’s latest book is: Unstoppable: the Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.)
HOW I ESCAPED BECOMING DYLANN ROOF
by Tim Parrish
A constant hum of racist propaganda and bad advice almost led me to death and destruction because, I was told, black people were out to kill the white identity. I'm still plagued and haunted by those lies to this day. Here's how I got out.
In 1975 Baton Rouge, when I was 16, my racist Svengali and I conspired to burn a house occupied by black people we didn’t know as revenge for the stabbing of a friend.
I was certain no one in the house had done the stabbing, even though my Svengali had convinced himself someone there had. Our friend had been stabbed in a fight started by the Svengali and lived on a street rapidly shifting from mostly white to all black, just as my own street soon would. I’d tried to convince myself that our act would be an act of “war,” a defensive message against black “invaders.”
Thank goodness the better lessons from, ironically, my racist parents and my racist church (that had voted not to allow in African Americans) brought me to my senses and I rebelled against the Svengali, who evidently needed my support to go forward. The house stood.
And yet, the next year I participated in a gang fight at school after a hardcore racist acquaintance’s car was shot twice and his grandmother beaten by some of our African American classmates. In my mind, I was no longer fighting all African Americans, but rather out of a sense of honor, taking down “uncivilized invaders,” as if I’d stepped out of a bastardized Sir Walter Scott novel and forward to 110 years after the Civil War.
But did I go after just the black kids who’d done the shooting and beating? Of course not. No matter my mindset, it was still a racial struggle to “protect” our white neighborhood, from which we working-class whites were fleeing and taking the meager capital and stability with us.
Luckily for me, one of the young men who likely had been involved in the beating flattened my nose. I was suspended by our racist principal. My father transcended his racist beliefs to talk sense into me. And my former athletic rival — the first black quarterback at our school — confronted me. “That’s not you, Tim,” he said. “Fighting n___s ain’t you.”
So I know what it’s like to have walked at least a ways on the road that Dylann Roof walked but not all the way into that Charleston church. It’s a road of racist propaganda, insinuating stereotypes, belief in the superiority of “white culture,” and the old conviction that only violence against lazy, ignorant, violent black people can save us. And I know that my own journey programmed me in ways that I am still programmed, as Roof was programmed, as many white Americans, most unaware, in all regions and of all classes, are programmed.
Know that we act because of that programming without even knowing it. Not in ways as grotesque and savage as Roof’s or as extreme as mine, but in ways that are insidious, socially corrosive, and segregating.
It is this type of wiring — this deeply ingrained paranoia about African Americans taking “what is ours,” or a simmering grievance that blacks are now somehow privileged in political speech and opportunity — that cause the diversion from a full discussion of racism between whites.
There is no complete escape from racist indoctrination and no easy escape even from the type of dangerous situation I was in. I was fortunate. Before those people around me stepped in (or literally punched me in the face), I already had a moral foundation and an understanding that African Americans were — of course — people.
At the time of the high school fight, one of my best friends was an African American basketball teammate, although I had tried to deny him that friendship once I was spiraling into more combative racist thinking and action. So despite my complicity in my racist mentor’s brutality of black kids on the street — he once nearly killed a man with a hurled ninja star he made in shop class — my moral foundation was always inside me, often tormenting me with the voice that told me I was wrong.
That foundation came from having taken in Jesus’ teachings of accepting everyone — a message reinforced by our Sunday School songbook’s cover, which showed, I remember, children of different shades listening to Christ, a message also reinforced by listening to Christ’s words among the apocalyptic rantings our church favored, a message instilled in me even while those around me preached the inferiority and threat of blacks.
When my father told me he didn’t approve of my acting on the very racism I’d learned from him — when friends and teachers stepped in to tell me that I was not like the other racists around me — I finally heard them. I began the slow process of seeing individual faces and actions and not looking for only actions that supported my stereotypes. It was the beginning of my escape.
I had to dissect my own rage and fear to realize that no one thing, no one race, and no one social change was the cause of my anger, terror, and dread. I had to confront fear and the endless complications that come with understanding that no brute solution, no violence, and no belonging to a group or ideology would stop the inevitability of loss.
But compared to others mired deeply in the programming, fears, and destructive impulses of racism, my move out of the direst chapter of my life was easy.
What about young men like Dylann Roof? Was there a method to point him down a different road — one that didn’t end with him looking for an hour at individual people’s faces, talking with individual human beings, doubting his intent, and yet still pulling the trigger time and again? Perhaps with sustained mental health support, perhaps with stricter gun laws, perhaps with someone to show the lies and warped conclusions of right-wing propaganda, he would have turned.
But in our country such resources and laws are shamefully lacking, especially for an isolated, young man with limited means. For Roof, the questions are the same as those regarding other mass shooters. But the more pressing questions concern people like my former racist mentor, who blaze against anything progressive.
Recently I published an Op-Ed on the topic of this ongoing racism, and among the widespread support of people of many ethnicities came the expected attacks. The arguments were predictable and sophomoric.
You are an ivory-tower liberal. You hate white people. You hate the South and betray your Southern heritage. You are lying about your experiences. You ignore black crime and racism. You are stirring up trouble; let the past lie. You are a faggot.
This last one was oft repeated on one website from my hometown, alongside multiple postings of my photo.
I believe the only way to move these extremists from these positions would be to somehow remove them from the insulation of like viewpoints and nonstop vitriol, which they use to convince themselves that blacks and liberals are out to get them — that the law of the insult and the gun is the only way to retain their identities.
The most troubling responses to my story and opinions, though, are the familiar diversions from talking about racism. They are more mainstream ideas than I like to think, and they often come from people I know, respect, and even love. These are reactions I often still struggle with myself, but they are, in fact, often unintended justifications of racism.
What about black-on-black crime? What about black hatred of whites and violence against whites? What about reverse discrimination? What about blacks trying to take away our heritage? What about blacks draining our tax dollars in dangerous, failing schools that our kids don’t even attend? What about racism in the North?
Let me repeat: Many of these toxic thoughts, and much worse, still poison me, despite my years of work to see clearly, truly, and with complexity. On my worst days, if a black person does something I don’t like or reinforces a stereotype still lodged in me, the N-word comes to mind quickly and sharply. Then I have to gather myself, bring reason to bear, once again dredge up the roots of these thoughts, and once more disconnect racist wiring laid in me since my childhood and recharged today by white institutions and media.
It is this type of wiring — this deeply ingrained paranoia about African Americans taking “what is ours,” or a simmering grievance that blacks are now somehow privileged in political speech and opportunity — that cause the diversion from a full discussion of racism between whites. It’s what prevents a thorough examination of ourselves and, worse, hampers our ability to listen without defensiveness to the experiences of African Americans.
The subject matter that comprises these diversions is often legitimate and clearly already the subject of wide discussion, most fully among African Americans. Yes, black-on-black crime is a scourge, especially to minority communities who live in fear — and particularly to young, disenfranchised, black men who are murdering one another in appalling numbers. Yes, some African Americans do hate whites and other ethnicities, because African Americans are individuals with the same flaws and vulnerability to prejudices as all other people. Yes, many — probably nearly all — African Americans want the Confederate battle flag to come down from government property.
These are clearly issues that deserve and already do generate conversation and debate, but they do not obviate our need to examine racism in America. It’s our need to examine the corrosive, ongoing economic and social consequences of slavery and overt and covert repercussions of Jim Crow Laws. It’s our need to examine disenfranchisement of black voters. It’s our need to examine the way our own fears and stereotypes often invisibly shape our reactions to people of color.
The way toward change begins with each of us. It is difficult, unending work. We whites must have these conversations, and we must look inward to understand what we bring to them. We must be aware of how being a person in the majority can subtly color our perceptions and make us susceptible to biased messages we don’t even notice. We must be aware that privilege does not mean that every white person is better off than every black person, but that privilege has constructed institutions and avenues that benefit most of us.
If we don’t have these conversations and commit to introspection, we continue to clip the wings of our better angels.