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Off the Record (Jun 8, 2016)

JUST IN. Sage Mountainfire has returned to her job at the County Animal Shelter. The long-time Shelter manager was at her desk last Tuesday and will be working part-time for now.

LAST MONTH we ran a lengthy two-part series by Tim Stelloh (from 2009) and Bruce McEwen about the false arrest and prosecution of Robert Forest of Fort Bragg and his subsequent attempt to clear his name. ( Mr. Forest’s friends, supporters and his attorney have informed us that his case is still open and ongoing because Judge John Behnke refused to expunge Forest’s arrest record even though Assistant DA Paul Sequeira had agreed with Forest’s attorney that the record should be expunged and then-DA Meredith Lintott (who issued a formal legal apology to Forest last year) had dropped the charges saying there was “insufficient evidence.” Judge Behnke’s ruling has been appealed to the state Court of Appeals where Mr. Forest hopes to finally end his ordeal. Forest supporter Frank Robertson told us: “Apparently, Judge Behnke cannot see the Forest for the trees. Since when does flawed procedure matter more than the truth and overwhelming factual evidence?”

A READER WRITES: Without much addoooooo. The Point Arena response to the latest Grand Jury findings is a real crock. Mayor (if even he deserves that title) Jim Koogle has operated an unpermitted diesel supply dump in close proximity to a school without a permit, and does not live in Point Arena, and as far as Heatherstone goes, she is still living in that shit heap she calls a house. Oh dear, when does Public Health take precedence over the actions of folks who do not care for anything but their own self interests? Based upon past Point Arena trends, Heatherstone may become the next mayor of the city (if by some chance she survives a dirt nap). I mean, look at Richie Wasserman, council member who the grand jury found fault with some 20 years ago and fined him $15,000. You fire any of them except Scott Ignacio (non dope grower), and they will have the money to go up against the best, Eyster: How the hell does he (Richie Wasserman) get an appointment back on the current council? No telling, except that he was lined up for the position by the controlling interests of the in the dope growing friendly crowd of Point Arena. I am not disputing dope growing even though a past mayor was self-named Raven Batshit Earlygrow (and for a reason). And I don't even live in the town (so, I suppose I should not comment?). But I have to comment because through Heatherstone and Koogle's actions, Public Health is threatened, and I visit Point Arena often as a south coast resident. Their committed actions against public health and safety are not sanctioned by any health or safety regulatory agency present in California unless Prop 47 applies to them before prosecution; are you offenders listening? They should be stopped at all intersections of common sense. Disincorporation is a solution, but how can the county fix a problem outside of their jurisdiction when they cannot solve any of their own, currently? Take the offenders to the wall, and request Shoemaker to seriously consider his legal exposure; because at this point we are all watching, fire Koogle, prosecute Heatherstone for her unpermitted 7 foot fence, expand the boundaries of city influence, get some new blood into that regime, but if nothing else, picket and force the sons of bitches out of office by physical means; let's form a vigilante group and force the issue in public. As they stand now, they all are a complete degradation to our meaning as a city/county… We need to rid this vermin from our repertoire and move on with healthy living."

WITH A MERE 500 citizens, some of them sober, the mayor and city council simply ought to be rotated. Or turn the whole show over to Bill Hay and be done with it.

YOU, TOO, CAN BE A FELON. Sign up today! Adam Randall of the UDJ reports that as of last Wednesday, 58 pot farmers have turned in “Medical Cannabis Activity Registration" cards with the Mendocino Ag Department. The County has offered “priority processing” for local cultivation permit applications to those who voluntarily complete and return the activity registration form by 5pm Friday, though it doesn’t guarantee that a permit will be issued. And doesn't guarantee that if the feds ask for a look-see the Ag Department won't name names. So long as dope is illegal at the federal level the feds call the tune.

HOBSON’S ELECTION. "I don’t want to vote for Trump. I want to vote for Bernie. But I have reached the point where I feel like voting for Trump against Clinton would be doing my patriotic duty. … If the only way to escape a trap is to gnaw off my leg, I’d like to think I’d have the guts to do it." —on line comment that sums up the feeling of lots of us Bernie supporters

MEASURE W’s PENSION CAP? "I'm voting for Measure W for two reasons: 1. A charter county allows for a cap on retirement benefits unless overridden by voters. The BOS is not permitted to take any action on pension issues. 2. Before going on the ballot, any change in the county pension plan must have an actuarial study that projects costs. Both of these precedents were set by Orange County, which is a charter county. –John Sakowicz, Ukiah

MARK SCARAMELLA NOTES: The key word is "allows."

The likelihood that the Measure W stalwarts will even consider, much less propose, a pension cap is less than me winning the state lottery. But sure, if one digs deep enough one can find a reason to vote for almost anything.

MEASURE V IN A NUTSHELL. MRC's spending an awful lot on clouding the Measure V issue. But it's a thin veneer. I want there to be no confusion on how simple this measure really is: ALL that it says is that if our neighbors experience loss of life or property as a result of this irresponsible and reckless forestry practice, that our own community members have some sort of redress. That is, if something catastrophic happens —loss of property, your life or the life of a loved one, homeowners who suffer a loss will suddenly have an ability to go after the person who performed the "public nuisance," for reasonable damages. Doesn't every 6th grader learn they have to take responsibility for their actions? (The way it is now, a lightning strike would be a force majeure, or an Act of God, and you have to turn to your own insurance policy for your loss.) We absolutely expect catastrophic fires in coming years, and this wildly reckless and unnecessary forestry practice creates a County-wide tinderbox, increases community risk, and restricts firefighter ability to engage. That's it in a nutshell, folks — vote for yourselves. Please VOTE YES! Scott Roat, Little River

A HOSPITALITY HOUSE GRADUATE WRITES: "Regarding Bruce McEwen's recent comments about Hospitality House in Fort Bragg and the depressing lack of jobs and opportunities for people who may wind up there. I'm inclined to agree with McEwen, mostly. I've had similar experiences at the Hospitality House but I think he gives them too much credit by casting their clients as detritus from a decaying American dream. In my opinion, they are either terminally lazy or bat-shit crazy for the most part — with of course the occasional hardluck case genuinely striving to extricate himself. The problem is, we have got to have the apparatus in place for the latter group and there's not really a way, at least in the initial stages of the process, to ensure that services go to the deserving. If you pass out free stuff, everyone is going to reach for some. As to the job situation, it is indeed a sad fact of the new economy that your average unskilled, uneducated potential worker has not much chance of getting on somewhere with the potential of a living wage and permanent position. But with a new economy came new strategies for surviving. I find a combination of busting your ass at whatever work you can find, hustling on the side, and using the hell out of whatever you can get from the government works and I don't feel bad about that last. If they are going to allow these corporations to essentially dismantle our entire way of life, then they can goddamn well fill in the gaps for groceries and healthcare and housing for us.”

DISTRICT ATTORNEY DAVID EYSTER wants to hire a new Assistant DA named Richard Welsh, who will serve as Mendocino County Assistant District Attorney at an annual salary of $173,845.

AS BEST WE CAN TELL, from a quick on-line search, Mr. Welsh has been a senior Deputy DA for Orange County for quite a while.

BY THE TIME you read this, the election will be over, but we know Measure W's proponents will continue to agitate for us to become a charter county so Mendocino County can form a public bank run by the Board of Supervisors. Does anyone think this is a good idea? Really? This bank, which they see being funded by the retirement system or the county general fund, the first of which is wayyyyy broke, the second perennially on the brink, would make low interest loans to projects devised by the proponents and their pals. They don't say how the bank is going to pay the already underfunded county pensions if the bank is required to make low interest loans. Now they admit they don't even know if a charter county can create a public bank. Isn't that a question that should have been answered prior to the election?

MEASURE W PROPONENTS also falsely claim that voting for Measure W does not obligate the County to anything. In fact, it will obligate the County to hold another expensive countywide election on the half-baked charter that the proponents actually devise, and we're not talking, by and large, linear-thinking people here. And if the charter passes, if will require another countywide election anytime the charter needs to be changed in any way.

AND THE CHARTER proponents are already calling for the county to provide staffing resources to them as they travel around the county holding public meetings on what the charter should say. But they already know what it should say because they have a draft charter, featuring a public bank run by the Board of Supervisors, that they have been working on for several years.

IF YOU THINK A PUBLIC BANK, funded by public money and run by the Board of Supervisors is a good idea (if it's even legal) you voted yes on Measure W. But if you think this half-baked and probably illegal use of public funds is a crazy idea and a waste of money, you voted no.

WE HAPPEN to think a public bank is fundamentally a good idea, which is why we place our meager resources with a credit union. The Supervisors, conceivably, on that miraculous day they throw off their shackles and become real progressives, could fund, say, genuinely low cost housing, and we certainly hope they will get all the way behind Sheriff Allman's in-County mental health facility. The Allman Center for the Walking Wounded, seems to us, has priority by a million miles over a confused and poorly thought out charter county scheme.

THE FOLLOWING COMMENT appeared on MendocinoSportsPlus: “BEWARE OF THIS MAN!!! He broke into our home two nights ago, rummaged through our home, drank our wine, ate our food, stole Steve’s keys, made a pile of things he was going to take, almost started a fire by lighting our candles, and did all of this in the middle of the night while we were asleep. Than he went into Kennedy's room. "She thought it was Steve" and we finally knew a stranger broke into our home when he came into our room.!!!!! He is LUCKY to be alive!!!! We called 911 and they took him to jail. SCARY!!!”

Remo McOsker

IN FACT, REMO, is developmentally disabled — "retarded," in the pre-euphemism days. But if I didn't know him and found him rummaging around my house in the middle of the night I'd be startled, too. But I do know him. He's one of a small army of marginal people — Mom and Pop Remo and at least one brother are out there, too — you see shuffling up and down Ukiah's State Street every day. Fifty years ago Remo might have been confined to a state hospital program, not that he's nuts, but in a rationally ordered society he would definitely be supervised. A hundred years ago, long before we lost our way in America, Remo would have passed most of his days at Mendocino County's farm out on Low Gap Road, Ukiah. It housed all the County's habitual drunks and free range nuisances like Remo who, basically, are incompetent, people who, like Remo, are born and raised in Mendocino County. Remo, left to this own devices as he is now, drinks and, I'm sure, gobbles whatever street drug he's offered. The cops will verify that the guy is temperamentally no problem, and even when he's loaded he's not violent.

AS A KID, Remo was undoubtedly a lucrative funding unit for our helping professionals and non-profit apparatuses, and I wouldn't be surprised if he's someone's funding unit still.

ACCORDING TO a recent Press Democrat story SMART (Sonoma Marin Area Rapid Transit) is currently planning to charge $12 to take their train from north Santa Rosa to downtown San Rafael. The "service," begins like maybe, "before the end of 2016." For a one-way trip. SMART estimates about 3,000 “commuters” will take the train each weekday. And those commuters will take the SMART train because, SMART assumes, it will only take 49 minutes on their train, but 60 to 90 minutes if you drove the same 43 mile stretch of Highway 101 from Santa Rosa to Rohnert Park to Cotati to Penngrove to Petaluma to Novato and end up in San Rafael (or the reverse) during rush hour. The time calculations conveniently exclude the time it takes for you to get from your house to their train station and then from the destination station to your final destination without your car. So you’re supposed to pay up to $12, but you still have to get in your car and drive it to their station, find a place to park, wait for their train to arrive (the plan is for one pair of trains with 130 passenger capacity every 30 minutes, and we all know they’ll be right on schedule all the time), get on with your fancy Clipper Pass (which is the only way you’ll be allowed to pay), ride for 50 minutes among the other heedless iPhone users, get off the train and… And… What? Call a cab? Transfer to another odd-scheduled transit service? Have another car ready? Have your wife pick you up? Get on a bike? Walk?

RANDOM THOUGHTS from a failing mind: The newscasts I saw last night described Governor Brown as "the progressive governor of California" as he came out for Hillary with a patronizing aside to Bern for Bern's campaign for ideas that used to be mainstream Democrat. Back in the day, when words still had meaning, Governor Brown's policies would have been described as moderate Republican or maybe "countryclub" Republican, liberal, more or less, on social issues, fiscally conservative. This time around, as Governor Brown releases thousands of career drug addicts via Prop 47 and thousands more career criminals from state prison via so-called "realignment," Brown has never pushed for prison reform, prison education programs or a public jobs program that might put some of the life-in-prison-on-the-installment plan people to work when they're released from custody. But he gets "progressive" points from "progressives" for reducing prison populations by sending people home to the same contexts that got them put in prison in the first place. He's also saddled the state with a train project leading from nowhere to nowhere only now beginning construction in the Central Valley that will cost billions and may never be fully realized and, as Dan Bacher establishes on a daily basis, Brown's water policies are an ongoing disaster. That Brown has endorsed Hillary should surprise no one. I don't know of any office-holding Democrat in NorCal you could call "progressive" as the term used to be understood.

WITH ALL THESE high tech geniuses thinking up amazing but frivolous new gizmos down in Silicon Valley, you'd think some of them would be trying to figure out non-lethal devices for use by the police. The under-the-influence maniacs, and just plain mad dogs, aren't stopped by tasers, they shrug off mace, bean bags and wooden bullets, and the rest of the arsenal, but a lot of people are getting shot to death who, one would think, could be instantly freeze dried or otherwise immobilized.

SAN FRANCISCO'S BUDGET is a proposed $9.6 billion for this coming year, with $221 mil slated to roll back homelessness which, in San Francisco's case, is equivalent to rolling back high tides. When government can no longer cope with the most basic civic problems, well, we have truly lost our way.

FORT BRAGG'S MEASURE U is probably going to be close. If you came in late, real late, a non-profit octopus called Hospitality House managed to steer a very large (by Mendo standards) hunk of public money to the purchase of an old landmark hotel in the middle of Fort Bragg called the Old Coast Hotel. Hospitality House, you see, can better serve the "homeless" from offices with ocean views. But Hospitality House, like every other grifter-op in the non-profit game, defines drug addicts, drop-fall drunks and petty criminals as "the homeless." If Old Coast were designated as respite for, say, single women with children, few people would complain. But dope heads, career drunks and free range scammers are not widows and orphans.

THE OPPOSITION to Measure U positively reeks of self-interest and jaw-dropping hypocrisy. To hear them tell it, Hospitality House is staffed by seaside Mother Theresas bathing the lepers, rather than highly compensated helping professionals highly skilled at getting good money for themselves for doing not much of anything. Get between a helping pro and a non-profit dollar and you'll instantly discover the depth of their idealism. Contrary to the straight-up lies of opponents that U is a generalized attack on non-profits, it isn't. The existing downtown Fort Bragg nonprofits are grandfathered in. They would not be closed. Passage of Measure U would go a long way to rolling back the murky Old Coast Hotel deal, and go even further toward an honest discussion of an effective homeless strategy in Fort Bragg and other areas of Mendocino County where the "homeless" now occupy something like 80 percent of on-duty police time.

TUESDAY'S ELECTION found eight registered voters living at 101 N Franklin Street. 186 signatures against U appeared in the Advocate News, but of those 186 only 64 are registered to vote in Fort Bragg. The anti-U forces have 106 "likes" on their Facebook page, and out of those 106 only 42 are registered to vote in Fort Bragg.

HOSPITALITY HOUSE never has explained how a gardening project consisting of five (5) planter boxes of lettuce has cost over $50,000 for 10 months of alleged gardening.

AN ELECTION in a small town like Fort Bragg is easy to rig, especially with the absentee ballots which a lot of people get nowadays. But I sense that the other side hasn't worked all that hard on voting it down, hard enough, but Fort Bragg's majority population seems to see clearly what's really involved, and depend on blue collar people to generally see things with the kind of clarity libs can't through the PC clutter of their lockstep minds.

THE AARON BASSLER AFFAIR, another take on it with photographs:

FROM THE ESSENTIAL TWK of the Ukiah Daily Journal:

Worst Local Campaign Ever Run — I’ve only been around these parts for about 40 years and I haven’t yet seen everything, but I can say with confidence I’ve never witnessed a more poorly run political campaign than the one mounted against Measure V. No on V was on the defensive from the start. It played catch-up the entire way, was tardy with its bland and boring mailers, never provided a clear and convincing message on a topic where a clear and convincing message would have been easy to deliver. Topping off this colossal failure was the price tag: $200,000.

CALLING ALL FRIENDS OF ARKY VAUGHAN A former California reporter now living in Pennsylvania is researching his next book, a biography of Potter Valley’s Hall of Fame shortstop Arky Vaughan. He would love to speak with friends or family members of the Pittsburgh Pirate great. Give Frank Garland a call at 209 605 8008.

NO SURPRISE that Bernie Sanders' economic plans are either ridiculed by the media or left unexplained in the catch-all description of Sanders as a "socialist," a term most Americans conflate with totalitarian communism.

HOW MANY AMERICANS know that many small towns in Idaho, of all places, elected socialist mayors in the World War One period. Hell, lots of Americans probably don't know that their great grandpaps voted for the greatest Socialist from Terre Haute, Eugene V. Debs. Not to oversimplify here, but socialists and communists always fought each other, and nobody hated communists more relentlessly than the anarchists of the IWW. A book called “Big Trouble” ought to be required reading in the schools, assuming there is required reading in the schools anymore. If you want to know something about the true history of our endlessly fascinating country check out Anthony Lukas's Big Trouble, a truly great book by a wonderful writer. (Since the media are owned by the rich, Americans are pretty much kept sedated, and never a mention about what The Bern really represents.)

BERNIE SANDERS is nowhere near as radical as Debs was, even taking into account their different historical contexts. Bernie isn't even as radical as Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal.

ROOSEVELT, a member of the oligarchy in good standing until he made his friends and neighbors pay their fair share of the social load, was widely denounced by his social circle as "a traitor to his class."

UNLESS YOUR ANNUAL INCOME is greater than $300,000 a year — and how many Mendo people do you know who even make a hundred? — Bernie is the guy you want for President. Like Roosevelt did for many millions of Americans, Bernie will make your life easier, although he'll be constantly up against most elected people at the state and federal levels of government because these sluts represent strictly the owning classes. (cf Congressman Huffman and the Siamese twins from Healdsburg, Assemblyman Wood and State Senator McGuire.)

SANDERS would raise payroll taxes and individual income taxes, especially on high-income households, the latter to about 55 percent. Roosevelt whacked them at 95 percent.

SANDERS' plan would raise some $13.6 trillion over the next decade, which would be invested in Single Payer, public works projects, genuinely low cost housing, Social Security and so on, the areas of American life that would ease the burdens of millions.

BERN'S plan would increase marginal tax rates on all taxpayers, through higher individual income tax rates on the big incomes and two new payroll taxes. He would also tax capital gains and dividends as ordinary income, replace the alternative minimum tax with a new limit on itemized deductions, and expand the estate tax. Bern's plan would create a new financial transactions tax (the Wall Street crooks) and move the US toward a worldwide tax system by ending the deferral of foreign-source business income.

THIS of course sounds "radical" to the wealthy because they would at last be paying a much more fair rate of tax. And they couldn't hide money overseas to avoid taxes. And lots of tax dodges would be eliminated.

HILLARY will be more of the same, and ordinary Americans will continue to be screwed. Trump? Who knows? We have no idea what he'd do on a range of issues. I doubt he knows or has given the big issues much thought. On economics he thinks like the billionaire he is. But he's certainly correct about NAFTA and the looming TPP give away to certain corporations. He's also right about the disaster in the Middle East kicked off by Bush and escalated by Obama-Clinton. And he's right about NATO. Of course his notion of a wall at the Mexican border is apeshit, but what he has said about Muslims, and as I recall he said it at the time of the Paris bombings, isn't crazy, although I'd disagree with it. He said to stop Muslims from coming here until we found out exactly what was up. That's not unreasonable although Trump supporters seem to have heard it as stop Muslims forever. We've come to such a sad pass in this country that our choice for president will be between a show biz blowhard and a warmongering errand girl for Wall Street and the rich who keeps Henry Kissinger on speed dial. Hil, on the record, is much more dangerous than Trump.

JAMES MARMON COMMENT #1: Regarding the Bassler story: Mental-cino law enforcement and local media (AVA) are using this one story to manipulate voters and to criminalize mental illness. The plan is to get Mental-cino voters to approve a sales tax to build a new Mental Health Jail and force involuntary treatment. Makes me sick to my stomach, mental illness is not a crime. Big Pharma and the local medical profession are backing the initiative, led by long time LPS act opponent Sonya Nesch Director of Emergency Medicine who has written many articles including a book criticizing laws that protect people from involuntary civil commitments and forced pharmaceutical medications. She is one sick woman, and so are her followers. — James Marmon, The Prophet.”

JAMES MARMON COMMENT #2: I might have a completely different perspective if the initiative was not a product of Law Enforcement and the Medical Profession and wasn’t being pushed by a bunch of mean old men (half the time drunk) who write for the AVA. The Prophet.

PEOPLE TEND TO BELIEVE what they NEED to believe regardless of the facts as signed by the AVA’s dipsos who, would be in the bottle much more often if our work load permitted. For the record, Mr. Marmon, we were against privatization of mental health from the beginning. ((Ditto for privatization of the Animal Shelter.) You really ought to try to get a grip here. You harm your own battle with the County by your recent barrage of unhinged comment. The latest rendition of the Bassler saga makes for interesting reading but it’s highly inaccurate. To cite one instance: There’s no mention of what seemed obvious to many people at the time, including law enforcement — Bassler’s behavior reeked of methamphetamine-induced psychosis. Moving right along here, Sonya Nesch has been of inestimable value in her work for effective help for the County’s mentally ill. We think the Sheriff’s mental health site proposal can become the first effective mental health strategy this County has seen since the old state hospital at Talmage closed, thus leaving Mendo without a secure therapeutic environment for the mentally ill and, for that matter, the County’s habitual drunks. The gamut was treated at Talmage as they will be, I hope, at the Sheriff’s facility should it come into being. The County presently spends $20 million a year on mental health. But with all that expenditure, the Sheriff, and the rest of County law enforcement, continue to do almost ALL mental health’s heavy lifting. Fortunately, and Marmon won’t agree, our cops are decent and humane. They do not mistreat the mentally ill, Mendo’s prevalent Blue Meanie thinking aside. I think everyone agrees, including the Sheriff, that the County Jail is not and cannot continue as the County’s mental health facility of last resort. PS. Uh, I think, Mr. Marmon, your sign off as “The Prophet” is not an encouraging mental health indicator.

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