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Off the Record (Apr 13, 2016)

ONE WOULD THINK that all the fancy money Ukiah pays for its city government, that that government wouldn't have to pay a consultant to decide if a fancy hotel would be good for what's left of the city center.

UKIAH pays it manager about a half-mil a year in total pay and bennies, and pays a raft of other managers to do whatever it is they all do. Put a video camera on them and play the feed for the public and then ask the public if this apparatus is (1) worth the money they're getting and (2) how it is that Ms. Mulheren seems to be the only city councilman looking after the public's true interests? She said it's nuts to pay a consultant to tell the city council that if the town's existing motels are half empty most of the time, well, gee, a super-dooper Hampton on School Street is unlikely to have upscale transients swooping in off Highway 101.

OF COURSE this same Ukiah apparat has signed off on a new County Courthouse wayyyyyyy down the street that will seriously harm the town's existing businesses in the center of what used to be a coherent town and further blight lower Perkins. This looming fiasco moves ahead without (natch) a vote on its desirability and outside all local planning processes, although it's the most destructive scheme conceivable since our local judges shoved a new courthouse down Willits' maw, a courthouse soon abandoned, a courthouse now a-moulderin' forever in the center of town.

AN EMPTY COUNTY COURTHOUSE and the empty Palace Hotel, plus empty store fronts when the County Courthouse moves wayyyyyy down the street. Why would even Motel 6 consider downtown Ukiah a viable business proposition?

THE SUPERVISORS are also complicit in the new County Courthouse scam. There has been near-zero discussion of the scheme at the County level although a County Courthouse "serves" the entire County, not just Ukiah.

1ST QUARTER POT PROSECUTION STATS: Fifty-five (55) individuals charged in Mendocino County with illegal marijuana-related primary offenses had their case resolved during the 1st quarter of the 2016 calendar year. The resulting conviction rate for the quarter was 85%. Of the 55 people charged, eight (8) individuals had all charges dismissed against them. Two defendants were convicted of non-marijuana misdemeanors. Twenty-nine (29) defendants were convicted of a marijuana-related misdemeanor. Sixteen (16) individuals were convicted of a marijuana-related felony. Four (4) of the 16 felons received prison sentences, with one of that four being sentenced to state prison and the other three receiving local prison sentences. The 31 misdemeanants and 12 of the 16 felons are now on either supervised (formal) or summary (informal) probation. All 43 are subject to warrantless search and seizure on demand of peace officers, as well as being subject to other terms and conditions. As one term of their probation, 32 of the probationers must perform a collective 4,370 hours of community service, with monitoring of their enrollment and completion of hours by the staff of Mendo-Lake Alternative Service, Inc.

THE ORIGINAL KZYX RUMOR that we mentioned a couple of days ago regarding speculation about how much money KZYX paid to former General Manager John Coate, former Program Manager Mary Aigner and former Operations manager Rich Culbertson as they shuffled out the door was incorrect.

STATION MANAGER Lorraine Dechter immediately clarified out inflated number, which we'd deduced from the sudden, over-large deficit posted on the KZYX website and put at something in the neighborhood of $76,000 for the three of them. Ms. Dechter says the figure is less than $20,000, and a chunk of that wasn’t paid to the former employees directly.

MS. DECHTER: "John Coate, Mary Aigner and Rich Culbertson each had vacation payouts at their end of service with KZYX. Stuart [Campbell] did not have any vacation payout. There obviously has to be a policy for how much vacation time can he held over at the end of a fiscal year. KZYX was subject to a very large vacation payout because employees were allowed to accumulate and carry over their unused vacation hours, with no limitations in place. This will be remedied this year when new personnel policies will be put in place. There was no payout of sick time or overtime. The employees who left were all exempt employees and thus did not receive OT for their extra hours. John Coate was in the budget for some consultation after he left, but he did not end up charging us for any of his post-employment advisement. Between Mary Aigner and Rich Culbertson, there was an unpaid vacation time liability of $15,069.12. This had to be paid legally, as accrued vacation, due to the lack of a policy that would not allow extreme vacation hour carryover. John Coate was paid for 74 hours of accrued vacation at the end of his tenure, but that was in the last fiscal year, and was paid on June 30th, 2015.

"WE [KZYX] used to pay back our employees for their ACA [Obamacare] medical expenses. After I took over on January 5th, I discovered quickly that we had to include those reimbursements for employee medical plans as income, and informed the full time staff that their W-2's would have to be revised immediately to reflect the increased income from the medical reimbursements.

"THIS WAS SOMETHING that changed legally for businesses in 2015. The law changed as of July, 2015. So we added six months of ACA reimbursements to their reported income, and since they would then have to pay taxes on that income (and it was an unexpected tax liability for our employees), we gave each of our full-time employees a bonus in January (except me) that they could use in any way they desired, but could be used to offset their unexpected tax liability. Those bonuses are also considered income, and will be counted as wages on their next W-2's.

"I HOPE this explains the situation. Our bookkeeper compared our figures to yours. Our figures are under $20,000 for all four employees who left (Coate, Aigner, Culbertson and Campbell). All but about $2,000 of this amount was paid for this fiscal year. Lorraine Dechter KZYX&Z General Manager Mendocino County Public Broadcasting."

DURING SUPERVISOR'S REPORTS toward the end of the day last Tuesday, Board Chair Dan Gjerde mentioned a couple of startling factoids from the recent homelessness confab held by State Senator Mike McGuire in Ukiah: “Two statistics that jumped out,” said Gjerde. “California has 12% of the nation’s population, but 35% of the nation’s chronically long-term homeless. Something’s different here and it’s not just the weather.”

SUPERVISOR John McCowen added: “On a per capital basis, as a county, Mendocino has the second highest level of homelessness in the nation.”

WHERE ELSE can you find 40,000 happy Americans united behind a single entity? The San Francisco ballpark on opening day, that's where. A perfect Frisco afternoon for baseball where the day was plenty warm for the first six innings, fog-cooled by the time Hunter Pence hit a grand slam in the 8th, and quite cool by the time Tony Bennett was making his signature cable car climb that takes him half-way to the stars whenever the Giants win, and spilling us joyous 40 thousand out on to the late afternoon city streets.

I'D WALKED to the ballpark from North Beach, a straight shot through the Stockton Tunnel, across Market and on down to the Willie Mays statue, maybe three miles through the city's inevitable construction projects. I took the 30 Stockton back. Kind of. Traffic was gridlocked, and when the 30 finally showed up it was empty but drove on past about thirty waiting passengers as an irate would-be rider commented to no one in particular, "That's what they do. Drive empty buses around town without letting anyone on." One does wonder about Muni policy.

PAC BELL PARK is much better managed than Candlestick ever was. Obnoxious drunks, foul language, fighting, gets you bounced right fast from PacBell. At Candlestick you had to commit a crime to even draw police curiosity.

ON THURSDAY, I sat next to a fat kid who drank beer all afternoon. Beer in the hot sun makes for major discomfort, and he was often in and out to the pissoir. "Excuse me, sir, I notice you haven't gotten up once."

SIR? Yes, more than old enough to be so addressed but not requiring it, and even young women offer to stand so I can sit on the bus. The worst is when other old people hold the door open for me, most of them far more decrepit than I am. So I said to the kid, "No beer, no bathroom."

ON THE WAY to the exit after the great Giant fireballer Hunter Strickland had whiffed an overwhelmed Yasiel Puig on 98-mile-an-hour fastballs, a kid says to me, "That ain't Dodger blue, is it Pops?" I was wearing a blue dress shirt. They laughed, as the girl with the joker assured me, "He's just playin', sir."

SOD ALL! The rains returned this year but Sudden Oak Death may have returned with them. According to the Forest Pest Council, some 500 miles of coast woods are in danger of SOD.

"I AGREE! If you have nothing nice to say — please say nothing! We have enough hate in the world. Remember — LOVE is the governing force of the universe, the divine energy of life made visible and tangible. In other words: Give love to all things and people, under all circumstance, and thereby you will be a light unto the darkness!"

THE ABOVE was from a person calling him or herself Shanti on the MCN chat line. Your mom and your grandmom would have put it more simply, and certainly without all the cosmic folderol: "If you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything." Thank you, Mom. Thanks, Gran. I'll take it under consideration. But in Mendo the advice gets the big metaphysical makeover. It's not only expanded to include whatever nabobs of negativism there are out there in the galaxies, it adds an unsupported statement about the nature of the universe itself. All the evidence established from the beginning of time until now, demonstrates that the universe is, at best, indifferent to us, at worst, actively hostile. It there is an intelligent design, aka God, He doesn't incline to sentimentality.

MY, MY. WHAT A SURPRISE. The Board of Supervisors has appointed Katharine L. Elliott as County Counsel for Mendocino County. Supervisor Gjerde, in auto-rhetoric mode, said, “Ms. Elliott is actively involved in the local community, and her dedication to this community is reflected in her work as County Counsel.” Uh, is she volunteering, Dan?

CRIME'S UP in the Golden State. The state’s 68 largest cities saw an 11% increase in property crimes for the first six months of 2015 compared to the same period a year before, but violent crime is down a little. In a conversation Tuesday with DA Eyster, Eyster said realignment and Prop 47 have sent more petty criminals back to their home bases here in dear old Mendo without causing all that much of a spike in violent crime.

WHEN BILL CLINTON took on the Black Lives Matter hecklers last week, he seemed truly indignant, basically saying that the Black Lives Matter movement should be agitating against young black men shooting each other rather than hassling libs like him. Clinton sounded like an innocent bystander caught in a crossfire, not the guy who was at the power levers for eight years who made black lives much more difficult. Ditto for Mrs. Clinton. A federal jobs program would help tamp down the gunplay, and a Sanders administration generally, with its emphasis on the economic war that people like the Clintons are waging against the majority of Americans of whatever race, assuming Bern reverses it, would do wonders to cool the passions we see rising all round US. (Thank you, Mr. Pundit. Any other trite observations you may care to share, we're all eyes. See below.)

FLOTSAM from a failing mind.

(1) DRIZZLY MORNING, ball game delayed, how about a movie? I liked Richard Linklater's "Boyhood," so, despite the Mick LaSalle of the Chron's description of "Everybody Wants Some" as, "It captures a free-spirited moment of 1980" and "loose and hilarious," I paid my $7 and walked on into the theater out of the rain.

AND WALKED BACK OUT forty minutes later. If you remember 1980, or any year, or even a moment of any year, as a bunch of unamusing, uninteresting college baseball players (there are no other kind) on a campus where all the women are not only beautiful but wear nothing but short-shorts and halter tops, hurrah for you and your unreality. This movie is beyond bad. Think "Animal House" without the crude laughs. "Everybody Wants Some" is unrelievedly stupid and painfully unfunny. Which accounts for the glowing reviews from the Chronicle's movie reviewer.

WHAT IS GOOD, very good, is "The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story." John Travolta is wonderful as OJ's sleazeball of a lead lawyer, Robert Shapiro, as the tv production takes us on a total look-back at the spectacular OJ event, from the murders, the nationally televised chase, the trial, the acquittal, and all the side stories and personalities in between. The acting is very good and this re-creation is as fascinating as the events themselves.

I'D FORGOTTEN most of the OJ details, but I remember thinking at the time that the jury made a rational decision based on the case against OJ that the jury heard. Everyone else had the benefit of all the coverage, which made it clear, at least to pale faces, that OJ did it. But the verdict was entirely predictable. Given the history of black people and police departments, especially the LAPD, the black majority on OJ's jury would be for acquittal, and it would not matter that the facts mitigated against his innocence. The facts that mattered with the black people on the jury were the history of the LAPD which, as a female black juror put it when she was asked if she'd ever had a bad experience with the police, "Is there any other kind of experience with them?" And the casual way the cops carried around the blood evidence incriminating OJ.

PARTICULARLY AFFECTING are the portrayals of prosecutors Marcia Clark (perfectly played by Sarah Paulson) and Christopher Darden (perfectly played by Sterling Brown). Both of them took huge abuse inside and outside the courtroom, and this version of the story makes it clear how strong they were to endure it all.

(2) Floyd Mayweather, the great fighter, paid $170,000 for those one-time courtside seats he and two friends enjoyed at the Warrior's game a couple of Friday nights ago. How would I know? I know the guy who occupies the adjacent courtside seats. Why am I telling you this? I don't know. The shock that ball games bring that kind of money these last days, that this kind of excess is emblematic but routine of how crazy our time is.

(3) AVA READERS are muy sophistico, so they will know that Gay Talese, the famous writer, got in trouble last week because he said off the top of his 84-year-old head that he couldn't think of any female writers he liked. I tested myself and instantly came up with my faves — Annie Proulx, Laurie Moore and ol' whatsherface. Talese, natch, was roundly denounced by a horde of academic females, none of whom can write, which is why they're holed up in universities with life-time jobs. (On further reflection, as the pundits say, two of the best novels I've ever read are Desperate Characters by Paul Fox and The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead. Gender considerations are silly when it comes to creative lit. It's either good or it isn't.)

(4) NOT QUITE in the same vein, Trump, who's managed to bring down the entire world on his fraught head, brought down the female half of the world on his gravity-defying comb-across when he confidently barked out several illiberal, off the cuff remarks about abortion. One would think that by now Trump would have a whole arsenal of vague platitudes handy for all occasions, but abortion is so serious a personal matter that I'm always suspicious of male libs who can be depended on to smugly announce, "I believe in a woman's right to choose." The most concise and the most moving statement I've read on the issue comes from Eleanor Cooney of Mendocino: "I myself descended into the abortion underground at 17, was lucky to get out alive, so I know whereof I speak. I was one of the lucky ones; others were not. I have a friend, a few years older than I, who got knocked up in Europe via a 'date rape' when she was about 19. When she got home to Minnesota, she realized she was preggers; she consulted her family doc, who said he couldn't help her, but he referred her to a prostitute who did abortions in her apartment. Long story short: My friend landed in the emergency room, hemorrhaging, raging fever, perforated uterus, near death. They saved her with a D&C and a massive dose of penicillin — along with a massive dose of scorn, insults, derision and shaming. It left her sterile, wildly allergic to penicillin and for years, traumatized, terrified of having sex. Turned out her doc knew that this would be the course of events; the only way she could terminate the pregnancy was to get so ill that she'd be at death's door. Then and only then could the emergency room docs legally abort her. This is the system that will be reinstated if/when Roe is overturned. Anyone who contemplates relegating women and girls to the vigilante underground is a sick fuck. We should recoil from it the way we recoil from public flogging, lynching and queer-stomping."

(5) NPR seems twice as annoying on weekends because we get mega-nuzzlebum Scott Simon's simpering interviews and cloying remarks, but we also get these preciously correct opinion essays from children that they obviously didn't write. They're the audio equivalent of science fairs you see in the local schools where all the projects are so obviously the work of parents. Naturally you think your kids are cute and smart and so on, but don't foist these unfailingly politically correct statements of your faux precocious Scott Simon on the rest of us.

(6) OBAMA was in The City Friday. He'd carbon-stomped across the skies from Washington in Air Force One to raise money for the Democrats, the whole partisan trip paid for by the taxpayers, few of whom are represented by anybody from either party. Whenever the president is in town he causes huge traffic jams wherever he goes, and wherever he goes he goes with a small army of gunmen preceded by about fifty San Francisco motorcycle cops. His destinations this weekend were mansions in Pacific Heights and a mini-mansion somewhere out on Potrero Hill. At each stop he picks up checks for amounts well upwards of $40,000. In Pacific Heights, the Secret Service orders everyone away from their windows and all cars off the streets for five square blocks. And there are sharpshooters with big guns on the rooftops. The president of Guatemala must be envious. I feel stupid even saying that these jaunts are corrupt beyond corruption, but looking at the television coverage not a critical word about it.

(7) REALLY? Is anybody surprised at the revelations contained in the Panama Papers? The rich of all nations hide their money? That Americans, including the Apple Corp, having been stashing money for years to avoid taxes, and the super-rich like Bill Gates and the Clintons stash a lot of their money in "foundations"? That the rich haven't paid anything like a fair rate of taxation since FDR, and even then, at 95% over a hundred thou, the rich were barely grazed? Jeez, if we're the 99 percent, what the hell are we waiting for?

(8) A RETIRED CalTrans trial lawyer named Richard Covert writes: "I can assure you that no state employee can retire at 'full pension' after 20 years. I retired at 80 percent of my final pay only after 40 years service, and paying in many thousands out of my paycheck as my retirement contribution. My state pay was less than 50 percent of what I was offered more than once by private firms. I accepted lower pay because of the state's excellent defined-benefit pension and health care program. I know my experience wasn't unique. If the state goes to a 'nice 401k plan,' which is subject to the tender mercies of the stock and bond market, it will have to pay much higher salaries than it does now. There is no free lunch for anyone."

(9) FOUR HYDRO-ELECTRIC DAMS on the upper Klamath are going to at last be removed, which will help restore what's left of the great river's depleted salmon runs. The argument over the Klamath began in earnest back in 2001.

BRACING COLUMN by Tommy Wayne Kramer in Sunday's Ukiah Daily Journal called, "And Verily a Plague Descended, and It Stank of Patchouli Oil":

"I sometimes wonder if the Love Generation and the New Agers who swarmed Mendocino County through the past few decades ever stop to examine the debris they’ve accumulated and the filth they’ve left behind.

"The rising tide of hippies and free-thinkers produced a vast sea of crud from Hopland to Westport, and from Point Arena to Covelo. No acre went untouched; no institution went unmolested. Ukiah was particularly hard hit.

"Hippie thoughts and dreams ranged from preposterous to poisonous, and their impact on local lands with their vast and devastating marijuana farms continues. The invasion has been a blight on the county. When the VW buses arrived they were full of hippies, and the hippies were full of crap.

"They started alternate schools led by unqualified 'teachers' who were determined that the so-called education would include nothing of value. Kids learned to draw rainbows, work on their self-esteem and recycle granola bar wrappers. The words 'Constitution,' 'America' and 'Long Division' were never spoken, while 'Tolerance,' 'Self-esteem' and 'Patriarchy' got heavy workouts.

"My daughter went to Mariposa School, one of these academic cesspools, where she routinely came down with head lice and poison oak, and where one of the teachers sexually molested several of her friends. Then he committed suicide.

"Why send your kid to Frank Zeek when there’s a holistic alternative at Mariposa?

"When the hippies weren’t infecting other peoples’ kids with vermin and propaganda, they were raising their own spawn in various communes like Mid-Mountain and Greenfield Ranch. They were among a scattering of utopian back-to-the-land experiments where the sunny vegetarian fluff of unicorns, Aquarius, peace, love, astrology and free love dissolved into the usual sewage: drugs, ripoff artists, mental illness and crime.

"And hoo boy, the crime. At Greenfield Ranch hard drugs and pot cultivation were at the low end of the criminal spectrum. Mass murder was toward the top. If you’ve never heard of Greenfield Ranch Hall of Famers like Leonard Lake and Charles Ng, ask your parents to fill you in on their grisly deeds. Lake and Ng kidnapped, raped, tortured, murdered, and committed suicide among the prancing rainbows, good vibes, tolerance, brown rice, sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll at groovy Greenfield. It made national news.

"At the same time another utopian socialist maniac opened a church in Redwood Valley, and immediately infiltrated the county social and political fabric by inserting his followers into key slots at Social Services and the Grand Jury. The Reverend Jim Jones soaked up bank accounts from his flock, rigged elections in San Francisco, was a left-wing hero, took a lot of drugs and finally fled the country to found a town in Guyana he modestly named after himself.

"His dreams of socialist equality fulfilled, he murdered many hundreds of his followers (and a few U.S. politicians, and news reporters). If you’ve heard the phrase 'Drink the Kool-Aid' that’s where it started, with mass suicides and automatic weapons. It made international news and the history books.

"Mendocino County’s newcomers accomplished all this in a quick six or so years. Then it was time for our progressives to go mainstream and infect the county from within. The hippies who had taught nothing at alternative schools and learned nothing in the process, took jobs as teachers in public schools and spread their subversive diseases. Out went academic standards, and in came multicultural moronism, academic indifference, classrooms without walls, and students giving themselves their own grades. Local schools have never recovered.

"Politically, a candidate with impeccable liberal credentials (he’d been a founder of Mariposa School, after all) ran for county supervisor. Dan Hamburg won, and from the early 1980s he became the face of progressive politics.

"With that, the doors were down and the hogs were loose, as the old farmers, ranchers and small business owners were shoved aside. The progressive onslaught was underway.

"They began by taking over established organizations like Headstart and Legal Aid, then quickly spread their tentacles into every layer of the social bureaucracy, including county welfare, foster care, and child placement services. The old hippies, now mainstream, launched grant-funded operations like North Coast Opportunities, AODP, the Mendocino Youth Project, Plowshares, Ford Street Project, the MTA bus service, Project Sanctuary, the Boys & Girls Club and dozens more. They also took over the Democratic Party.

"A select group of insiders ran everything, either as directors or chief executives, and served on the Boards of Directors for all the other agencies. They amassed power and money by funneling state, federal and school grant funding to themselves and their fellow agencies. Today they exert machine-like control over government and its bureaucracies.

"In 30 years they’ve taken over everything, and everything is worse. The elites run countless programs supposedly intended to solve problems like drug abuse, homelessness, teen pregnancies and gang violence. They fail at every turn, by design. They’ve treated thousands of drug abusers at rehab joints like AODP, Ford Street and Pilot House, yet there are more druggies and crime on the streets every day.

"No one rides the MTA, there are more homeless and gang members than ever, Headstart is a failure, Legal Aid does nothing except absorb funding, and grants for community art projects guarantees the city gets uglier every year.

"Millions and millions of dollars get shuffled back and forth between various programs and agencies. These groups are uninterested in making problems go away, because if problems go away the money goes away. Nothing complicated about it.

"Yet it’s all courtesy of the Love Generation, who promised back in the 1960s they only wanted to make the world a better place. But Ukiah and Mendocino County have grown worse—more rotten, more corrupt—while the hippie progressives have grown fatter and more prosperous.

"And I’ve yet to hear a single one of them apologize for what they’ve done."

WOULDN'T HAVE put it so harshly myself — some of my best friends etc. But the worst aspect of Hippie, Mendo sub-species, at least in my direct experience, was the leech-like tenacity with which the shaggy beasts always went after freebies while offering nothing in return but their deadbeat selves. Offer a flower child an overnight stay, it became three overnights, and on the third night the guest had to be threatened with physical ejection. And all three days they are doing nothing but laying around sopping up free meals.

THERE WAS THAT. And there was the slob way of living passed off as neo-bohemianism. "Do the dishes? How bourgeoisie." (If his habitat isn't scrupulously clean and orderly this extremely uptight white man starts chewing his knuckles.)

AND THERE was the lazy Hippie tolerance for the criminals who fastened on Hippie while Hippie preyed on the kids — Manson; Lake; Tree Fog Johnson; Kenneth Parnell; and a large number of lesser lights, all of whom settled in Mendocino County where it was, like, Do Your Own Thing, Man. And when El Pervo got caught sodomizing little Wind Chime, or raping a hippie chick, or stealing everything he could, did the Hippies go to "the man"? Of course not. The Hippies got together and "shunned" the perv down the road to the next Hippie camp where there were whole pods of unattended children, as happened here in the Anderson Valley when the Hippies tardily figured out that Tree Frog Johnson always volunteered to watch the kids while mom and pop dove into the big naked piles of solstice weekends because Frog was doing his own thing. With their children.

AND MR. KRAMER is correct about how the hippies took over public Mendocino County, moving into as many public jobs as they could glom onto — the legal profession, which they made even more cynically corrupt; public schools they quickly stripped of even elementary standards; the helping professions, of course, because who better to straighten YOU out than a hopeless nutcase? Scratch a city manager or a public bureaucrat anywhere in Mendocino County, and there they are, love beads traded in for power suits and neckties and, count on it, grabbing off every public dollar they can.

I'VE TOLD this one a million times, but it pops into my ravaged brain every time I hear Hippie: Long ago I was at a Boonville school board meeting, as always looking out for the interests of the good and the true. I was usually the only other person in the room aside from their majesties up front, the school board. One night, I probably had become a little bit over-heated in response to some edu-crime or other when suddenly a former hippie, magically elevated to elected respectability, demanded, "Sit down, Bruce. You're becoming irrational."

O THE INDIGNITY, my friends! Only a few years before I'd encountered that same person rolling around naked in a mud pit at the Albion People's Fair. (The Hippies of course euphemized the mud pit as a "pond.") Told that I was irrational by the ultimate in irrational? I knew then that a terrible thing had happened. Hippie had won. They'd taken over local government!

FAMOUS MASS KILLERS LAKE AND NG lived in the Anderson Valley. Lake functioned here as a volunteer fire fighter while dreaming of kidnapping the beautiful blonde high school girl who worked the cash register at Jack's Valley Store. When Lake was finally suppressed his psychotic musings on the would-be victim turned up in his papers.

"BEST RECORDING SECRETARY we ever had," an old timer told me. "Leonard Lake had the most beautiful handwriting."

Lake, Ng
Lake, Ng

I REMEMBER SEEING the dynamic duo walking around in full camo. I think most of us assumed they weren't dangerous but simply socially retarded until one day the big black helicopters landed in Philo and out spilled some kind of FBI commando platoon. Lake and Ng, it turned out, had somehow managed to store a bunch of stolen weapons at their house on Ray's Road that Ng had ripped off from a Marine Corps armory in Honolulu. (They were both ex-jarheads; Lake was a non-combat veteran of Vietnam. I think Ng got kicked out for being a little too much of a nutpie.) Deputy Squires commented at the time, "We're lucky they went quietly. They had enough guns and ammo in there to hold off an army." The two maniacs quickly bailed out and were next in the news as mass killers.

LAKE also managed the Philo Motel for a time while his wife, Cricket, functioned as a teacher's aide at the Anderson Valley Junior High School where my daughter happened to be a student. Daughter came home one day to tell her parents that Mrs. Lake had invited her and several of her classmates to pose in the altogether at the Philo Motel's hot tub while hubby photographed them. So I said, "I guess you'll need a note from home then."

OF COURSE I didn't say that, and I was about the tenth parent to immediately call the school to demand that Cricket be fired. Which she was. We were always on red alert around here to guard our children against creeps, of whom there were too many to count, and there were as many creeps among so-called straight people as there were among hippies. And County government was laughably bad when the 'necks dominated it. If Mendocino County could talk, we'd all be sleepless from nightmares.

TOMMY WAYNE'S tribute to the back-to-the-landers inspired these comments on-line:

(1) Here’s a little experiment: Substitute “commie” for “hippie” throughout Mr. Kramer’s diatribe and there it is — just an updated version of McCarthyism: Commies/hippies infiltrated our government! Corrupted our schools! Hooked people on drugs! Spread filthy diseases! And so on, in the same old slogans… A few high-profile cases of outright evil aside, blaming all the ills of our time on patchoulism is silly (and I can’t abide patchouli). The same problems Kramer laments are present, often in worse doses, in many places around the nation, mostly where hippies never trod. Methinks Kramer has a perhaps valid axe to grind but is chopping at the wrong trees (er, weeds). See the quote titled “American Amnesia” also above for a better diagnosis; people who preach about “the Constitution” and “America” have robbed the populace blind — and convinced them to blame “the government,” “illegals,” “socialists”, and yes, once again, “hippies” — whatever that means at this late date.

(2) “Racial prejudice is a terrible thing, Yossarian. It’s a terrible thing to treat a decent, loyal Indian like a nigger, kike, wop, or spick” (Chief White Halfoat, CATCH 22)
I couldn’t agree with Steve Heilig [above comment] more strongly. My friends from the 60s and 70s that are still alive are a heterogeneous group and don’t fit into any stupid pigeon hole. I’m sure the group that Kramer demeans was as variegated as my own group. Not merely McCarthyism, but also akin to racism.

(3) If a person who lives in a commune calls themselves a “hippy”, does it mean they are not a communist?

(4) I was part of the hippy scene on the coast, and it was as varied as any other population. There were many hard-working hippies, who came to live a non-consumer lifestyle, or work the land. Etc etc…of course there were some slackers, but not nearly as many as the population of transients here now. The public schools weren't great, so some started alternatives. There were drug and alcohol problems before there were hippies…over simplification is inaccurate and harmful.

A READER WRITES: “I have been following developments and difficulties in the County’s mental health privatization process and I am optimistic about the Mental Health transition to Camille Schrader’s Redwood Quality Management Company. Six months from now Ortner will be a fading memory. RQMS will deliver dramatically more and better service as will become apparent over time.”

AMBROSE BIERCE REPLIES: “Optimism, n. The doctrine, or belief, that everything is beautiful, including what is ugly, everything good, especially the bad, and everything right that is wrong. It is held with greatest tenacity by those most accustomed to the mischance of falling into adversity, and is most acceptably expounded with disproof — an intellectual disorder, yielding to no treatment but death. It is hereditary, but fortunately not contagious.”

“IF YOU THINK it’s pragmatic to shore up the status quo right now, then you’re not in touch with the status quo.”

— Susan Sarandon, explaining why she would probably vote for Trump over Clinton if Sanders is not the Democratic Party nominee

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