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Off The Record 3/11/2010

PAUL TICHININ is paid well over a hundred thousand a year — $120,000 as of 2008 — to perform a few nebulous tasks as Superintendent of Mendocino County's schools. The other day I was told that Tichinin also gets the free use of a tax-funded car complete with tax-funded fuel to commute from his home in Fort Bragg to his “job” at Talmage. I was also informed that Tichinin, who can well afford his own transportation, recently drove his tax-funded vehicle to Oregon where, he claimed, he would attend an educational conference. But the true reason Tichinin headed north was to drive his daughter to her college. The conference was cover, if there was a conference, for Tichinin's trip, which was personal. While in Ore gon, Tichinin managed to total the tax-paid vehicle in an accident whose details remain unknown. But when Tichinin returned to Mendocino County he was handed the keys to another car. No one has been available to confirm or deny the superintendent's predatory behavior, but one would think an agency with as shady a history as the Mendocino County Office of Education there would at least be some “concern” from one or another of the agency's seven trustees.

THE NORTH COAST Fishing Association, in con junction with the California Fisheries Coalition, will be hosting a family-style cioppino dinner on Saturday, March 13th at Portuguese Hall in Fort Bragg. Doors open at 5pm, and dinner is served at 6pm, with a raf fle, auction and a full no-host bar. Many of the ingre dients for the meal will be donated by local providers, including Vince Doyle (chilipepper rockfish) and Bill Forkner (Dungeness crab). Rising Tide Sea Vegetables and Tomas DiFiore are teaming up for a crispy sea vegetable salad. Pacific Rim Seafood is serving up uni shooters. Thanks to Caito Bros. Fisheries for proc essing the crab. This is truly a community event. Pro ceeds support the engagement of the local fishing community in the MLPA process. The North Coast Fishing Association has been supporting a lawsuit against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for its lack of a comprehensive plan on wave energy projects. Support your sustainable seafood providers and sample locally caught seafood. For more info call 707-964-3710. Tickets ($35 per person) are available at the Noyo Fishing Center and Redwood Liquors in Fort Bragg.

HILARIOUS letter in the Chron the other morning that began, “Service cuts and fare hikes aside, why is it that so often a Muni bus ride feels like a river cruise on the Styx with Chiron at the helm? An abusive oarsman takes swipes at the beleaguered and meek more often than the vile and grotesque. Passengers come to blows over seat. Impudent litter and graffiti are banal scenery.... ” I'd recognize it anywhere, the 9 San Bruno Avenue! Chiron at the wheel is, of course, the prevalent perception of the generic Muni ride, but where else could you find such adventure for such a cheap ticket?

BILL BENNETT was just about the last person I can think of who truly used public position to protect and even advance the public interest. He died a couple of weeks ago. A World War Two B-17 pilot of many combat missions, Bennett became a lawyer who was causing the malefactors of great wealth much trouble long before Ralph Nader appeared. Bennett was best known for his work on the State Board of Equaliza tion where he sat for 25 years without, you could say, ever becoming sedentary. He always refused corporate contributions and publicly criticized colleagues who took them. Your PG&E bill would probably be twice as high as it is now without Bill Bennett. The giants are dead or dying, and all we're left with is, well, look around at election time.

THE 13th anniversary of Judi Bari's death came and went on March 2nd without any notice that I'm aware of, although there may have been some formulaic weeping on the Pacifica Network. That formulaic weeping, I'm sure, would have been wept without any mention of the fact that Bari's alleged comrades promised a big reward for the identity of her killer, a reward that has never been posted because Bari's profiteers literally can't afford to solve the crime. They, these alleged friends, ghouls every one of them, made a lot of money off Judi Bari and what kind of friend wouldn't want to know the truth about the cause of her death? Among law enforcement, the FBI especially, there's zero interest in the identity of the bomber although he is easily indictable via DNA. Since the crime originated here in Mendocino County — Redwood Valley — to be more precise, and to be even more precise on Humphrey Lane in Redwood Valley. When a man can blow up his high profile ex-wife in the middle of a major American city, and get away with it well, hell, I guess it all comes down to who your friends are, doesn't it?

SPEAKING OF LIBERALS, what's with Sean Penn saying the other day on CBS that he hopes the people cynical about his commitment to doing good will “die screaming of rectal cancer”?

FRIENDS OF THE EEL RIVER has appealed to the State Water Resources Control Board to end diver sions at Potter Valley. Never happen. Friends threaten to sue if State Water doesn't end the diver sions. Still never happen. The prob here, of course, is that the perversion of the Eel River at Potter Valley is a thousand yard tunnel not much larger than today's king size fat man. It was hand dug by Chinese labor shortly after the dawn of the 20th century to run tur bines for the purpose of electrifying Ukiah. From that modest beginning the water-short downstream popu lation has multiplied and slurbed out in all directions, and the diverted water has become crucial to the maintenance of that slurbanization. There's no way to stop the diversion, which amounts to the destruction of much of the Eel, short of, short of, well, short of The Anderson Solution which, not to put too fine a felonious point on it, would be to mount a modest load of dynamite onto a smallish raft, float the load into the tunnel from the Eel River end of the diver sion, and detonate it. No tunnel, no diversion. For a while anyway. For historical symmetry I would of course insist that the explosive be made in China. In fact, the explosion itself might be coordinated with Chinese New Year next February as a mid-winter boost to Mendocino County's sagging tourist econ omy.

MOVING RIGHT ALONG here, the chuckle bud dies on television news have been yukking it up over the finding that atrazine-based herbicides turns boy frogs into girl frogs. The real news ought to be that frogs of whatever gender (I believe we now have five in America) have largely disappeared from every where. Remember when the first rains brought them out by the millions and you had to watch where you walked to avoid crushing them? And the people who didn't avoid crushing them grew up to be Republi cans? And the people who deliberately crushed them grew up to be Tea Party-ers? Today, here in the An derson Valley, the only frogs to be found are deep in the hills far, far from the herbicide-drenched vine yards prevalent now even in most of those hills.

ON AN EARLY February evening, deputies were summoned to an address on Crest Drive, Willits, where Jorge Acevedo, 33, had begun to scold his 7-year-old for tripping him. Acevedo's wife said, “No, the child didn't trip you, you fool, you’re drunk,” so Acevedo hit his wife, and another American child among millions grows up with a childhood memory of pure brutality.

MENDOCINO COUNTY has backed off its green light for revival of a quarry on Poonkinney Road, Covelo. The supervisors decided that the threat of litigation from residents of the area would be too expensive and, for the second time, probably a losing proposition.

HOLLY MADRIGAL was the featured Supervisor Candidate on Ukiah last week. Ms. Madrigal, who is running against incumbent John Pinches and Willits liberal Tony Orth, emphasized a promise to be accessible and worried that too many cuts are being proposed for the Third District. She says she’ll “ stand up for the 3rd District” and work with the other Supes to convince them that the Third District should not disproportionately bear the brunt of hard times. Mad rigal complained about the possible closure of the Willits Library and the County Museum in Willits, saying that the Third District didn’t get proper notice about the proposals. But Ms. Madrigal didn’t have much else to offer in the way of specifics until later in the week when she was a guest on Norm de Vall’s KZYX radio show on Friday. We didn’t hear the whole show but we did hear her say that she was interested in “Mr. Scaramella’s” proposals having to do with Tiger Teams for departments and the identi fication of cost drivers. So right there, she got The Major’s vote. Unfortunately, The Major doesn’t live in the Third District.

THERE WILL BE a protest against child sexual abuse and the prosecution of Aaron Vargas on Satur day, March 20th from 11am-1pm next to Town Hall on the corner of Main and Laurel streets in Fort Bragg. Go to for more info.

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