CALFIRE MADE IT OFFICIAL LAST WEEK: The Valley Fire “is among the top three most destructive fires in California history.” It was also declared a federal disaster, only the fourth time in California fire history a state fire has been so designated.
PEOPLE DON'T SEEM TO REALIZE that the passage of Prop 47 has released so-called low-level dopeheads from state prison or they don't go to prison in the first place, many of them repeat offenders who live to get high. Add these guys, who are tougher and more criminally inclined than the average bum out there now, mix in all the people sent home from the state pen to their County jails of origin, who are soon released under bogus local supervision, and the ranks of the "homeless" are greater than ever everywhere in the state.
MENDO COUNTY COUNSEL Doug Losak has resigned. We understand that Losak will go to work for former Mendo DA, Duncan James, offices in Ukiah. The lib bastion on the West Side of Ukiah, reinforced by the Hamburg Cult and County CEO Carmel Angelo, are pushing for Deputy County Counsel Kit Elliott to succeed Losak. Ms. Elliot is a long-time supporter of Supervisor Hamburg. While Losak ran free legal errands for the Supervisor, Elliot would be on speed dial for the 5th District supervisor.
THE HAPLESS LOSAK was controversial even before he became County Counsel after he was stopped one late night in Redwood Valley by Sheriff's deputy, Orell Massey, and found to be in possession of a loaded gun and a personal use amount of marijuana. Aha! said the Supervisors. This is the precisely the guy we want for the County's chief legal advisor. When he took over the County Counsel job Losak quickly became synonymous with faulty advice.
WE THOUGHT that deputy County Counsel Terry Gross should have gotten the County Counsel job over Losak, but intelligence and competence are often regarded by County officials as liabilities. Smart people tend to be independent, so the stooge personality type is much preferred in the County's power slots. Ms. Gross presently functions as counsel for Lilliput, er, Point Arena.
BIG DOPE BUST out at the Pinoleville rez last week. 350 plants, and a honey oil operation all discovered in the Old Fowler Auto building where there's also a basketball court and batting cages, the whole of it comprising a kind of sports palace for stoners. Pinoleville was also recently in the news when the tribe began a large-scale pot gro visible from Highway 101. That project was abandoned when the DA and the Sheriff threatened to take it off. (Pinoleville is located just north of Ukiah.)
(With apologies to Kosma, Prevert and Mercer)
When autumn needles begin to fall
Let’s pray our redwoods will still stand tall
Beside a river whose dying wish
I just to harbor and breed more fish
A flowing river, once so vast,
Now struggles to run with a final gasp
Its protective giants were cut and milled
To leave a wasteland of mud and silt
When tourists come to hike and paddle
They’ll only see a slow-running little
Stream, if there’s anything at all—
When autumn needles begin to fall.
Enough is enough — let your voice be heard
About the proposed THP on the Gualala
— Irene Leidner, Gualala
MATT BARBER, of Atlanta, Georgia writes to peddle us t-shirts lauding The Gipper: “IF WE EVER FORGET that we are one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.’ — Ronald Reagan. When is the last time you have heard your president speak like this? President Reagan, along with many of our earlier presidents, understood the importance God holds in upholding our nation and our world. May we all humble ourselves in prayer and seek God that he might once again show mercy and favor towards our country.” And buy my t-shirts.
DEAR MR. BARBER: We have the perfect illustration for your shirts, a real eye-catcher and a certain conversation-starter in Georgia, especially in your rural areas. My late friend Frank Cieciorka would be delighted to know you have adopted his art because you are exactly the kind of stand-up guy he had in mind when he drew it. Regards, the AVA, Boonville, California.
DEPARTMENT OF UNINTENTIONAL HILARITY, this paragraph in a UDJ story by Justine Frederickson describing a clean-up of Ukiah's Gibson Creek: "In about three hours, 500 pounds of trash was removed, which included: 256 pieces of glass; 170 paper bags; 142 plastic bottles, 135 plastic grocery bags, 124 plastic bottle caps, 120 pieces of clothing, 121 pieces of foam, 101 cans, 89 glass bottles, 81 paper cups and plates, 70 plastic cups and plates, 60 metal bottle caps, 60 straws and stirrers, 47 cigar tips, 44 plastic lids, 37 take-out plastic containers, 32 utensils, 14 foam cups and plates, 13 six-pack holders, 11 cigarette lighters, eight syringes, eight condoms, seven tires, six blankets, four coat hangers, four diapers, three tampons/tampon applicators, two dead rats, two dead birds, a balloon, a firework, a toy, a battery, a satellite dish holder, a sanitary napkin, a golf ball, a tennis ball, a toothbrush, a pot, a blue tarp, a deodorant container and a bottle of A-1 steak sauce." (Bon appétit!)
COYOTE SCARE STORIES now appear regularly in the San Francisco Chronicle as the cunning creatures proliferate in The City. Pet owners, especially in the up-market neighborhoods, tend to want the animals wiped out, and it is true that coyotes do occasionally attack Little Muffy, especially when Little Muff is off leash and strays near a coyote birthing den. I've often seen coyotes on walks through the Presidio early in the morning, and one afternoon, hiking out to the Golden Gate, I suddenly found myself in the middle of a coyote attack on an off leash dog. I hollered, spun around in circles, waved my walking stick as all three beasts ignored me, and soon the two coyotes plunged back into the underbrush of their own volition. The dog was uninjured, his owner unperturbed. I expected her to at least thank me for my clownish rescue attempt, but she walked on, her dog still unleashed.
I'M CERTAIN urban coyotes get plenty to eat. They regularly chow down on feral cats, and I've heard that sentimental anthromorphs all over the city leave food out for them. I know a lady in LA who feeds the coyotes in her high end neighborhood. She says the beguiling varmints stop by regularly. And they are multiplying.
THE INGLESIDE TERRACE Neighborhood Association has hired Mary Paglieri, described as "a specialist in human-animal conflict who has prepared a plan to drive out the yipping invaders." She believes the drought has so reduced the primary prey of coyotes — mice and voles — that they have been forced to look for food in city neighborhoods. Maybe. But coyotes will eat anything, and there's food everywhere in the urban environment. (Hmmm. Maybe State Parks could hire Ms. Paglieri to mediate the human-animal interface at Usal.)
TRANSPARENCY only a click away? The Supes announced yesterday that a new website called NextRequest will make public documents available on-line via a public records request. Of course requests for sensitive docs will still be routed through the jive County Counsel's office, meaning the County CEO will continue to have the final say in what the Great Unwashed can or can not see. NextRequest is supposed to be up and running by the end of October. A video about the new website can be found at www.nextrequest.com/#video.
WAAAAAH! BETHANY PINCHED ME! — On Sunday, September 20th at approximately 6:20 PM, deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to the Wildwood Campground in Fort Bragg, California to investigate a reported domestic dispute. The investigation revealed that Bethany Pacheco, 24, of Fort Bragg, had vandalized a mirror from a car belonging to her 29 year old Fort Bragg boyfriend and that she also pinched the backside of his arm causing visible bruising. Pacheco was on Mendocino County probation for a previous theft related offense. Pacheco was arrested for domestic violence battery and violation of probation. Pacheco was booked into to the Mendocino County Jail where she was to be held in lieu of $30,000 bail.
INTERESTING COMMENTS from County Mental Health Board Chairman John Wetzler as interviewed by KZYX's Valerie Kim last week.
THE FIRST PART of the discussion was about the low rates of "cultural competency" and Hispanic "penetration" as a percentage of "mental health contacts" with the County's two private Mental Health contractors, aka ASOs, "Administrative Service Organizations."
'CULTURAL COMPETENCY'? The term seems to have been invented to emphasize the Ortner Management Group's and Redwood Quality Management "administrative" roles to disguise what they provide in real services. Ortner allegedly does hands on mental health services while Redwood Quality, like Ortner, is paid lots of public money to make dependent children safe.
MS. KIM and Mr. Wetzler implied that the reason the County is attempting to conduct an audit of the two entities is that the admin fee charged by Redwood is quite hefty in relation to services rendered, especially Ortner's admin cost ratio. Because Ortner and Redwood are both private businesses, 'administration' is the fat in the contracts, that lawyerly blah-blah in the fine print plundered by the alleged service providers.
'CULTURAL COMPETENCY' means that Mexican families aren't availing themselves of either Ortner or Redwood to the cash and carry extent that Ortner and Redwood would like, their dependably mercenary thinking being, "We can make millions off Mexicans, but we've got to get them culturally competent!"
FORMER SUPERVISOR RICHARD SHOEMAKER has been appointed Point Arena's city manager, meaning full-time pay for a part-time job. Shoemaker's girlfriend Linda Ruffing is Fort Bragg's city manager. Shoemaker has hovered around the non-profits and local government agencies for years. He presently sits on the directing boards of the Russian River Flood Control and Water Conservation Improvement District, the people who control Mendo's 8,000 acre feet when there's 8,000 acre feet to control. He also sits on the Local Area Formation Commission, gazing benignly on as LAFCO'S former administrator, Frank McMichael, ripped the agency off. Additionally, Shoemaker "directs" that South Ukiah rec center operation, another insider guy part-time gig for full-time money. In my opinion, wherever this character is involved, bad things happen for the general public, and he's involved everywhere in Non-Profit Land.
AN OPAQUE press release, unsigned, but clearly the work of County trash boss, Mike Sweeney, says Sweeney's dream of a redundant trash transfer station for Fort Bragg is on hold. Mendocino County's premier reinvented man writes, "Earlier this year, Mendocino County and the City of Fort Bragg prepared and circulated a Draft Environmental Impact Report concerning the Central Coast Transfer Station Project."
TRANSLATION: That EIR was written by a Sweeney-hired outfit based, I believe, in Eureka. You pay the money, public money that is, and you get the EIR you want.
SWEENEY got the thing past his pals on the Board of Supervisors, LAFCO (an insider's outfit composed of elected people, including the ubiquitous Shoemaker), and Fort Bragg City government as it functions under city manager Ruffing and her 3-person Council majority. But a deluge of citizen objections caused Sweeney to arrange a rewrite of the environmental impact report that he claimed answered all the objections to the new installation.
BEAR IN MIND that Fort Bragg already has a perfectly adequate transfer station run by Waste Management at Pudding Creek.
SWEENEY, smearing lipstick all over the pig, comes back with, "Subsequently, a Final EIR was prepared that responded to all the comments received on the Draft EIR."
NO, IT DIDN'T. State Parks and Fish and Wildlife rushed in to say the proposed site in the Pygmy Forest would be terribly destructive for many reasons.
BUT SWEENEY breaks out another tube of lipstick: "After consulting with the two State agencies, the County and City have decided to revise and recirculate the Draft EIR to address concerns. Once the revisions are complete, the revised sections of the Draft EIR will be recirculated for additional public and agency review and comment. Information concerning the date, time, and place of any public meetings or hearings scheduled to consider the revised Draft EIR will be provided as part of the forthcoming public notice of the availability of the revised Draft EIR."
TRANSLATION: Sweeney had all his surrogates at these entities on board for the transfer station, but when people became fully aware of what was involved, they rose up to say NO.
REMAIN VIGILANT, FORT BRAGG! You can kill this beast. It's down and bleeding!
SUSIE DECASTRO WRITES: "On a beautiful day, like today, I headed for MacKerricher Park to delight and exercise a bit. As I turned into the park, I saw something unusual: a whole family (parents and children) waiting by the side of the road. Yes, they were hitch-hiking. Was I free to give them a ride? What could be more important? I turned around and headed up a parallel road to where they were in my four-wheel drive. They told me they were “refugees from Lake County” camping at the Park and headed into town. Wow, I felt privileged to be in the presence of “refugees.” They explained that MTA did not have a bus route; they had checked. MTA does not have a route north of town? No, not even to the city limits? The kids praised my car (smart kids) as they hopped in, and mom and dad thanked me, profusely. Goes to show you, no matter how small, small is, it can make a difference."
(THE AFOREMENTIONED civic hustler, Mr. Shoemaker, of course sits on the MTA board, one more reason the County's heavily subsidized buses don't run to places where people want to go at the times they need to go.)
SALMON. Here’s something to think about: in order replenish ocean stocks, king salmon require a place to breed in fresh water, that is, rivers and streams. Historically and locally, there were king salmon runs on the Gualala, Garcia, Navarro, Big River and Ten Mile River. None now exist. Siltation from logging impacted their spawning beds, and, currently, if a salmon could wiggle across the sandbar at the mouth of the Navarro and enter the estuary near the mouth, they would quickly be dead for lack of water sucked up by the ever expanding vineyards of Anderson Valley. Alaska has 27 open salmon hatcheries and 14 that are closed but ready in a state that still has thousands of miles of viable spawning habitat. Washington has 83 hatcheries. Oregon has 33. How many king salmon hatcheries does California have? Try 4, and in California the environmental lobby works hard to prevent construction of any new hatcheries. Why? Because they religiously believe that natural spawning fish and hatchery spawn fish will inter-marry and destroy the genetic rigor of the naturally spawning fish…of which there are very few left. It’s a Nazi like, eugenics fish theory that 30 years of study by the Alaska Fish and Game (where there is a mix of natural and hatchery fish) has proved to be false. The long and sad of it is this: there’s an abundance of feed in the ocean to sustain large populations of salmon, but when it comes to king salmon in California, if they must breed out in the open their progeny are out of luck. California Salmon have few motels (hatcheries) for love and procreation. Small, state funded salmon hatcheries on the once viable rivers and streams in California are the only viable solution. High school kids could run them. (Michael Koepf, Elk)
FRIDAY was National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims. On the morning of November 11, 2010, Susan Keegan, age 55, was found dead in the bathroom of her Ukiah home. The mother of two grown sons and married for 30 years, Mrs. Keegan had been bludgeoned to death, beaten over the head with a blunt object.
THE INITIAL POLICE investigation into this murder was botched, so badly botched that when present DA David Eyster took office and reopened it, Eyster's investigation resulted in the cause of Mrs. Keegan's death being changed from "accidental" to "homicide."
FIVE YEARS LATER, no indictment of the killer, aka Dr. Peter Keegan.
WHY IS THE DOCTOR the one and only suspect? The doctor says his wife arrived at home on the last day of her life about 10pm and proceeded to drink and drug herself into a staggering stupor, finally falling in her bathroom, fatally striking the top of her head.
THE PROBLEM with this scenario, as Mrs. Keegan's many loyal friends point out, is that she was not a drop-fall drinker but a busy person who got up every morning and did things, and was going to go out and do things the morning she turned up dead. The drop-fall drinking community does not keep to schedules. The second problem with Doctor's Keegan's version of events is that his wife was struck more than once on the top of her head.
IF JOE THE TWEEKER'S wife was found dead in a similar set of circumstances, Joe would have been buried in state prison five years ago.
MRS. KEEGAN had spent a pleasant day in Santa Rosa with a good friend looking for a new place to live. She was moving on. The doctor was also moving on, but he was murderously unhappy that his wife was entitled to half the family's assets. He also wasted no time looking around for female companionship, quickly coming up with Libby Crawford, scion of an inland ranching family.
SO, WHY NO ARREST in the Keegan case? That's the mystery. How can you have a declared homicide with one person dead in the house while the alive person in the house says, against the evidence, that the dead person's demise was an accident?
THE DOCTOR hustled out within a week of his wife's murder and retained ace criminal defense attorney, Keith Faulder, a peculiar move for an innocent man, but one of many post-mortem moves The Doctor made that point straight at his guilt.
THIS IS ALL WORSE than a mere shame, it's serious dereliction of his responsibility by DA Eyster not to prosecute a declared homicide. Doctor Keegan should have been tried for his wife's murder five years ago.
JOHN BOEHNER, Republican, Speaker of the House, has resigned, which you don't have to read the AVA to discover. I bring it up as an excuse to say I always enjoyed Boehner's boozy press conferences where he appeared half-loaded, slurring his words as he strung out the cliches that constitute cockamamie government policy as that policy is presented, then gulped whole, by government's major media stenographers. Boehner was more an old school country club Republican, a Rotary-type guy, a let's-make-a-deal guy, corrupt to the bone but not a fanatic or a nut case of the types now dominant in the Grand Old Party.
THE PUNDITS are saying Boehner was driven out by the now dominant 5150 wing of the Republicans. How can an ultra-normal pol like Boehner even deal with people who metaphorically bomb Planned Parenthood offices, let alone knock down a few drinks with them?
BOEHNER himself says he was so overcome by the Pope's address, he took a look at himself in the Grand Whiz Bang of things, and retired.
LIKE MOST PEOPLE, I understand the Republicans who want to defund Planned Parenthood. I don't get their beef. Isn't abortion a spiritual-religious issue, the private business of the female citizen? I think reasonable people understand the arguments against abortion, that life is a miracle and therefore sacred and that killing it is, well, whatever it is to the woman involved. Does anyone really believe that decisions to abort are made frivolously? So ,how does life as a sacred miracle become the government's business, especially a government represented by male officeholders? (Excuse the hazy theology here, but the American nutballs, whose Manichean brains work exactly like the Taliban's, have never quite adjusted to women being independent of male control. I think that's always been the real abortion issue.)
FRED GARDNER OF O'SHAUGHNESSY'S WRITES: A Santa Rosa company called Care By Design has offered to provide $200 worth of CBD-rich cannabis free to qualified fire victims. Their sister company, Absolute Extracts, is doing the same with THC products. And an allied garden supply company, Left Coast Wholesale, is offering $300 worth of free gear to cultivators who were wiped out but intend to resume. This is not a publicity stunt. I was at their HQ yesterday fact-checking a story for the new O'Shaughnessy's (Care by Design is the largest supplier of CBD in California) and heard staffers discussing the logistics of the giveaway. Participating dispensaries as of yesterday were : Lakeside Herbal Solutions (Clearlake), California Member Services (delivery service), Peace in Medicine (Santa Rosa, Sebastopol), and SPARC (San Francisco). Fire victims should contact them for details. The only requirement is proof of residence at a burned-out site. Cannacraft, the parent company of the three that are donating their products, has set aside $20,000 for "Project Releaf." Aren't they concerned that people who did not suffer a loss will try to take advantage of their generosity? A CannaCraft spokesperson was not so cynical: "We take people at their word about getting medical benefit from cannabis," she said, "and we'll take them at their word that the fire did them in."
ON SEPTEMBER 8, 2015 Health and Human Services Director Stacey Cryer told the Board of Supervisors that she plans to hire a new Mental Health Director to replace former Ortner Management Group exec Tom Pinizzotto. Mr. P will assume the title of Assistant Health and Human Services Director — one among several other HHSA Assistant Directors. Cryer also announced that she was going to put the privatized mental health contracts out for bid four years before their current options expire, going on to say that the County was going to hire an outside auditor to evaluate the mental health contracts and specifications. But Cryer provided little detail about any of this and no explanation about why she was changing Pinizzotto's hat, why she was putting the Ortner contract out for bid prematurely, or why an audit. Nor did Cryer offer any schedule for any of these new developments — developments that seem precipitated by complaints about Ortner’s services and/or Ortner’s suspiciously high admin costs. “We will have to work out all of the timeframes and we want to get started on that project and really work with the board,” said Cryer, ever the pollyanna.
NO ONE on the Board of Supervisors asked for any specifics about when all of this is supposed to occur other than vague references to maybe by the end of the year, or maybe by the end of the fiscal year in June of 2016.
ACCORDING TO WILLITS WEEKLY’S Board of Supervisors reporter Mike A’Dair in this week’s edition, “Contacted on Tuesday [September 22] in the board of supervisors chambers, HHSA Director Stacey Cryer said Pinizzotto would be retained as assistant director of HHSA but would no longer be responsible for the mental health division. Cryer said the change will take place as soon as the county can hire a new mental health director.” (In the past, such hiring decisions have been known to take months, especially for the position of Mental Health Director.)
PLEASE RECALL THAT last year’s Mendocino Grand Jury pointed out the obvious conflict of interest inherent in Pinizzotto, a former Ortner exec in the months leading up to the award of the $7-$8 million Mendo Mental Health contract to the private Ortner Management Group was then part of the HHSA team that picked Ortner for the contract!
CONNECTING THE OBVIOUS DOTS HERE, we conclude that Mr. Pinizzotto will stay on as Mental Health Director (and overseer of the Ortner contract, and overseer of the preparation for putting the Ortner contract out to re-bid, and decider of who will do the audit, and gatekeeper for reporting on Ortner’s contract activities to the CEO and the Board of Supervisors) Until…? Until he’s replaced. Whenever that may be.
SINCE THE COUNTY is on record in the response to the Grand Jury report insisting that nothing was amiss in the obvious inside job that delivered the adult mental health services contract to Ortner, and since no one has assured the Board or the public that Pinizzotto will have nothing to do with the next mental health contract, we have to assume from the conspicuous avoidance of the question of timing that Mr. Pinizzotto will remain in his influential position to steer the contract toward his old buddies at Ortner until it’s all wrapped up again.
OF COURSE, the County could clear this up by firing Pinizzotto, or by excluding Ortner from the bidding process, or at least by making sure that Pinizzotto has nothing to do with this suspicious current round of Mental Health contract reviews. So far, no indication that will happen.
THE FOLLOWING appears in the current Willits News:
"The Board of Trustees hired California executive search firm 'Leadership Associates' in 2012 to recruit candidates for Willits’s superintendent position. The firm presented interim superintendents for 2012-2013 until Johnson was hired in May 2013 from the Victor Valley Unified High School District.
"Willits trustees hired consultant Chris von Kleist from Leadership Associates to provide consulting sessions on board procedure, the role of superintendents compared with board members, moderating board retreats and other consulting services, explained Trustee Saprina Rodriguez.
"Von Kleist was the superintendent of Orland Unified School District (OUSD), near Chico, leaving Orland in December 2013. When he left OUSD the district was $1.2 million in the red and was under the budgetary review of the Glenn County Office of Education, according to the Chico Enterprise Record. Von Kleist had also received a 90-percent vote of no confidence from the Orland Teachers Association in November 2013.
"Trustee Saprina Rodriguez said they initially hired von Kleist for his seasoned experience as a superintendent across several districts. Since his job has been to facilitate discussions, explain policy and not provide opinions, she didn’t see his past as relevant."
NOT RELEVANT? All but a few people working for the guy had no confidence in him? So Willits hires him to hire Willits new educational leader?
MANY SCHOOL BOARDS long ago abdicated responsibility for hiring their administrators. Classrooms are short of everything, including teachers, but Willits, fresh off a ruinous bond fiasco, has the dough to not only pay von Kleist to do their hiring for them but to go on tax-paid "retreats" with them.
ASHA KREIMER IS MISSING. Friends and family are desperate for any information. She lives on Middle Ridge in Albion and was last seen at the Rollerville Cafe, Point Arena on Monday, September 21. Asha is 26 years old, has brown eyes and long brown hair worn in a bun. She is 5'9", 130 lbs. She was wearing skinny black jeans and a grey hoodie. Asha is from Australia, and speaks with an accent. If you have ANY INFORMATION please call 911 first, and then 707 463 4086 or 415 793 1901.
IMAGINE YOU’RE A SENIOR PUBLIC HEALTH NURSE working in Mendocino County’s Health and Human Services Agency making the mid-range for the position at about $51,000 per year when you learn that a comparable position in Sonoma County pays $83,000 or more depending on experience.
LAST WEEK, the Supes boosted pay for the position but only a pittance via a one-time bonus of two thousand dollars.
MENDO APPARENTLY THINKS that you, an experienced public health nurse employee, will decline that $83k opening in Sonoma County which would represent maybe a $30k per year pay increase because you got a couple thou from Mendo as a one-time retention bonus.
PERV GETS AWAY WITH IT (GRAVITRON CASE)
DEFENDANT Carmona pled to a trespassing charge last week in exchange for having all weenie wagging charges dropped. This resulted from a hung jury and a humane decision by the DA not to make a 9-year-old girl testify to the sordid details again. I missed the plea, being employed across the hall in another case, and got the news from Carlos Benneman, who was brought in to interpret. I asked Carlos, "What did trespassing have to do with anything?" Carlos answered succinctly, "Who gives a fuck?" Then (and this comment was drenched in sarcasm), "Justice was served." The lawyers were perhaps salivating to get to get the kid back on the stand for more drawings of penises and teach her some more verbal obscenities, but DA Eyster had ordered Deputy DA Dan Madow to settle with Defense Atty. Justin Petersen. Where they got the trespassing charge is anyone's guess, but Carmona was advised to stay out of Mendocino County. (Bruce McEwen)