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How Are The Children?

Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop.
— Mormon Proverb

“How are the children?” We see the poster asking this question everywhere in the greater Ukiah area, from the boutiques fantastique, to the upscale restaurants with sidewalk dining tables, right on down the streets to the esoteric massage spas, the glitzy nail and hair studios, and even the seedy little tattoo parlors — “How Are The Children?”

Fatter and dumber every year, according to national statistics, but asked in Ukiah the question implies that our community is concerned in the usual way local liberals are concerned — symbolically. Hey! We care about the kids, ok? So lighten up and relax, get yourself a pedicure, throw in a foot massage, maybe a new tattoo, down some sushi, and shop ‘til you drop. Do something for you. Don't worry your busy little head about the kids. The kids are fine, although Mendocino County is among state leaders in child poverty.

Smack in the middle of all these printed reassurances about Ukiah's devotion to the young is Alex Thomas Plaza, a nice little downtown park and memorial to the late pear king, complete with lovely lawns and walkways, an attractive pavilion, a sometime hotdog stand, and public restrooms. But guess what? Children don’t play there and the restrooms are closed most of the time. Why? Because the Plaza is full of petty criminals recently turned out of the state prisons under the governor’s realignment program and the notoriously deceitful Proposition 47. One more public space lost.

Sure, there are times when, prior to a scheduled event, the cops will chase off the drunks, dope heads, miscellaneous lowlifes, and unlock the restrooms. But other times, especially at night, you risk a confrontation from a convicted felon in need of your spare change if you cut through the park. Or worse.

Fronting the plaza we find a row of businesses designed for children, places like Round Table Pizza and Psaras Outrageous Playland, a games arcade popular with the electronic young. Mostly, the lurks from nearby Alex Thomas Plaza confine themselves to the adjacent park, but....


Enter Jerome McMurphy, a career felon with more than three tours in the state pen to his credit. One day a couple of weeks ago Jerome strolls into the arcade and makes himself comfortable in a kiddie ride, a stationary roller-coaster simulator which was then out of service. Half a dozen little girls are enjoying the arcade as their grandparents watch over them. We're decades past the halcyon days in America when the safety of children in public places was assumed, and Jerome is about to demonstrate why.

Once seated in the roller coaster simulator, Jerome whips out the old wangdoodle and starts wanking away. In the throes of some undoubtedly evil vision, the man is so transported he doesn't know or care that he's rocking the machine so vigorously, the arcade's astonished owner, Valerie Psara, looks over and shouts, “You have got to be effing kidding me! I’m calling the police.”

“The gentleman, Mr. McMurphy,” Detective Isabel Madrigal would say, “was found in the nearby park, having fled the arcade when the owner called 911.”

Detective Madrigal, who is visibly pregnant, has a personal as well as a professional stake in making Ukiah a suitable place to raise children. But her bias, if that's what we're legally compelled to call it, must not be shown or defense lawyers will interpret it as prejudice against their innocent-until-proven-guilty clients. Hence the detective's reference to this flagrant perv as a “gentleman.”

Deputy DA Johnna Sack wanted Gentleman Jerome charged with a felony, Penal Code 314, since he has a prior 314 in Marin County, five prison priors, among them a strike offense. This could put him away from children for 11 years, although even if Jerome is packed off to prison rather than a few weeks out on Low Gap Road at the County Jail, state and local time out rooms are so over crowded that almost everybody gets “an early kick” — and, anyway, you only have to serve half of most sentences — 80 percent for a violent offense — and still you get the kick. Gentleman Jerome will soon be back pounding off in public.

It seems that Governor Brown thinks places like Alex Thomas Plaza are better suited to housing criminals than the state pens which, due to free enterprise racketeering by prison contractors — guards, services suppliers, et al — have become too expensive to operate without cutting into retirement obligations for former politicians and bureaucrats.

But Alternate Public Defender Doug Rhoades thought state prison was much too harsh for a man masturbating in front of little girls. Even if it only amounted to five and a half years or less, with the early kick, he thought his client should only have to serve 180 days (90 actual) in the County Jail before resuming his life of ease at Alex Thomas Plaza.

“It should have been charged as a misdemeanor indecent exposure,” he told the judge, “a 647a.”

The difference between a felony indecent exposure and the misdemeanor charge had to do with whether or not Gentleman Jerome was intentionally trying to draw attention to himself. Deputy DA Sack said he obviously was because if he wanted to do it in private he could have hid in the bushes instead of entering a business full of people. It might also be assumed that he finds children sexually interesting, that Gentleman Jerome's next adventure with the kids might.... He's clearly a dangerous person, and if we're willing to risk the welfare and safety of children we have truly lost our way in this country.

At this point prosecutor Sack was interrupted by a truly startling occurrence. Gentleman Jerome was seated next to his lawyer. The bailiff had taken off one of his handcuffs so he could write notes to his lawyer on a legal pad. But the Gentleman wasn’t taking notes, and Bailiff Jeff Courtney suddenly came up behind Gentleman Jerome, grabbed his pumping elbow, and pulled his free hand out of his pants and snapped the handcuff back on. Deputy Courtney then availed himself of a bottle of sanitizer, as Gentleman Jerome glowered at the judge.

Gentleman Jerome had found something so irresistibly erotic about the proceeding he simply couldn't help himself!

Judge David Nelson told Ms. Sack to finish her comments, but the prosecutor was so discombobulated she could only stammer. I imagined her arriving at home that afternoon. "How was your day, honey?" Well, I, ah, something happened and, er, please stop talking and open the Parducci Jug Red."

Rhoades for the defense took advantage of Ms. Sack’s discomfiture to suggest that there was no proof any of the kiddies or grandparents had seen what his client was doing and, also, Ms. Psara had had to walk over there before she got the proverbial eye-full.

Judge Nelson apparently found the matter perplexing. He'd need some time to sort things out, but odds are that Gentleman Jerome will soon be back at home in Alex Thomas Plaza.

* * *

Across the hall Judge Ann Moorman was sending a docket full of failed probationers to their punishment. Would they have to go stand in the corner at Low Gap…? No, not even that because the jail is full of overflow from the prisons with no room for our everyday fuck-ups.

“One more chance, your honor? How about one more chance?”

“Okay, over the objections of the District Attorney and the Probation Department [since the prison will only send him right back, anyway], I’ll grant another term of probation. But you must apologize to your probation officer, however. I can’t order him to supervise the unsupervisable — understand?”

“Oh, yes, fully — I fully understand [tee-hee-hee]…”

The cop who busted this guy and had come to see him sentenced after blowing off a dozen chances to go straight, sighed, and perhaps said to himself, "Talk about rolling rocks up hills...."

“What about Jacob Breuner?”

“Yes, your honor, Carly Dolan of the public Defender’s office for Mr. Breuner who is present and in custody.”

“Luke Oakley for the People.”

“Are we ready to proceed?”

“Yes, your honor, the People call Officer Shelly Wilson of the CHP.”

“Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth under penalty of perjury?”

“I do.”

“Officer Wilson, where do you work?”

“For the California Highway Patrol, at the Ukiah Branch.”

“Were you on duty on or about June 5th at approximately 7pm?”

“Yes, I was dispatched to see about a disabled vehicle on Highway 101 north of Uva Drive.”

“What, if anything, did you see when you got there?”

“There were four gentlemen in and around a white Ford Mustang. One of them said the problem was a dead battery and that someone was supposed to came back and give them a jump. It was in a bad location, so we — a Mendocino County Sheriff’s deputy came in for back up — and we decided the vehicle would have to be towed. The deputy asked if there was any contraband or weapons in the vehicle and the defendant, Mr. Breuner, said there was a rifle in the trunk.”


“Was there?”

“Yes, there was a rifle an AR-15 [assault rifle, like the one used in the Orlando and San Bernardino massacres] in a back pack.”

“Did you ask the defendant where he got it?”

“He said he found it behind some bushes.”

“Did you do a records check on it?”

“Yes, and it came back stolen.”

“Did you do a check up on the defendant?”

“Yes, and it turned out he had a criminal protective order against him with a no-firearms clause.”

Ms. Dolan on cross-examination:

“You approached my client rather than the others — why was that?”

“He was the one who had been driving.”

“And your concern was getting the vehicle off Highway 101?”


“But wasn’t someone coming to jump-start it?”

“Possibly. But it was in a bad place and we, the deputy and I, decided to have it towed.”

“So that’s why you asked about contraband and weapons?”


“For officer safety.”

“And the rifle was in a backpack?”

“Yes, it was one of those you can detach the barrel, but it can be put together and ready for use very quickly.”

“Did he tell you where these bushes were where it had been found?”

“He said they stopped on the Redwood Highway to go to the bathroom [sic] and when they went behind the bushes, they found it.”

“Was there a trigger mechanism that attaches to the rifle as well?”

“I don’t recall.”

“Nothing further.”

Dolan for the defense said her client should have the charge reduced to a misdemeanor because of his tender years, only 22, and his cooperative attitude and gosh there was no proof the rifle was operable since the officer couldn’t remember the status of the trigger mechanism.

Deputy DA Oakley held out for the felony. The law proscribing firearms in cases of domestic violence convictions, which was the case with Mr. Breuner, was initiated in the 1980s when there was a nationwide epidemic of men shooting their spouses (and an occasional judge) over divorce terms and custody battles.

Judge Moorman said, “I’m going to grant the 17b. [motion to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor]; here’s why: The defendant had only recently found the firearm, and it was not certain it was operable, and also, he is very young and has no other offenses, so the motion is granted.”

O hell yes. Only a kid at 22. Found a thousand dollar gun in the bushes. Clear case for mercy.

The judge didn’t mention that sending Mr. Found Gun to prison on the felony would have entailed a lot of bureaucratic expense and only resulted in the prison sending him right back to the County Jail where he would serve the misdemeanor term, anyway, so why not give it to him in the first place?

The Devil is in the details, as they say, and Satan designs the most intricate Hell he can think of for each sinner, so that even judges cannot escape damnation and torment.


  1. james marmon June 29, 2016

    McMurphy: “Jesus, I mean you guys do nothing but complain about how you can’t stand it in this place here and then you haven’t got the guts just to walk out? What do you think you are for Christ sake, crazy or something? Well, you’re not! You’re not! You’re no crazier than the average asshole out walking around on the streets.”

  2. james marmon June 29, 2016

    McEwen probably believes that kidnapping children and placing them into forced adoptions is less damaging to a child’s psyche than jerking off. Mental-cino County Superior Court, Dependency, and CPS is guilty of this on a daily basis, both kidnapping and jerking off. What could be more crazy? Oh, letting the child trafficking, Schraeder foster care and adoption agency, take over all mental health and substance abuse treatment programs and have full access to every family and child in the County.

    Its call leaving the fox in charge of the hen house.

    The Prophet

  3. Judy Valadao June 30, 2016

    Sounds as though we need more prisons. We also need jobs, how about some privatized prisons? Put the “jerk off” and poor “young boy” with the stolen/found AR 15 in then if as Mr. Marmon says children are being kidnapped there will be plenty of room for the kidnappers. And lots of round the clock jobs. Perhaps the mill site property in Fort Bragg would be a good location to check into for the needed property.

  4. Bruce McEwen Post author | June 30, 2016

    Mr. Marmon in his efforts to promote his new bumper sticker Keep Mendo Mental has deliberately skewed my point into the service of his own pet peeve; having been curtailed in every other outlet for his obsession, he now comes beating his drum into my space to disrupt and contort my reports to his own use.

    Marmon’s awesome powers of mind-reading notwithstanding, I resent people telling me what I think. What I think about the situation in this case is that our community is being turned into a penal colony; and I thought I’d made my thinking plain to the meanest understanding, but apparently I expected far and away too much mental agility from the fanatic zealot Mr. Marmon.

    As to Ms. Valadao’s comment, I have to wonder if she isn’t being snide with her dry, ironic tone.

    The folly of putting contractors in charge of the state’s prisons is another point I thought I had amply asserted in the article. Moreover, I’ve mentioned many times in the past that the hundreds of millions saved by Prop 47 was supposed to be returned to the communities — and yet, it has been confiscated by the governor to satisfy other obligations.

    Are you being obtuse, Ms. Valadao?

    • Bruce McEwen Post author | June 30, 2016


      If you ever get off this thread long enough to get the bumper-stickers, tee-shirts and ball-caps printed, remember this: I want my cut — 27%– from the sales!

      • Bruce McEwen Post author | June 30, 2016

        That would cover the cost of my consulting services in editing your ackwardly coined Mental-cino trade mark — which would make the driver of the car or wearer of the tee-shirt or hat seem unhinged to a scary degree — to the more rational, and less threatening, Keep Mendo Mental, which only makes the wearer of the clothing or driver of the car (w/ the bumper-sticker) appear larger than usual in his or her exemplary egalitarianism and seem an all-inclusive champion of diversity, while at the same time asserting a dash of eccentricity which is highly requisite in the upper reaches of our regional social stratosphere.

        Now, if you think my terms unreasonable, and you go ahead and print the slogan for profit (or spite), I’ll see you in court!

    • Judy Valadao June 30, 2016

      Yes Mr. McEwen I was being sarcastic. My point being, people are being released from prison early because of lack of space which in my mind puts others in the public at risk. Not everyone who is released from prison is a bad person but I think it would be safe to say those who are released and have no place to go and no job will return to a life of crime. It’s a vicious circle and City’s and Towns should be prepared to deal with the good as well as the bad. Fort Bragg has the only homeless shelter in Mendocino County and now the county wants Fort Bragg to offer more. Why isn’t Ukiah stepping up to the plate and doing their share? Fort Bragg can not take all those in need of housing. It’s probably a losing battle that no one will win.

      • Bruce McEwen Post author | June 30, 2016

        Wull, don’t ask me. I’m just the messenger. Direct your pertinence to your local politicians, those splendid characters who promise to make our lives as cool as their own… for a vote!

  5. james marmon July 1, 2016

    McEwen, you really need to consider reassignment, maybe you and BB Grace should hit the restaurant scene together, I’m sure your reviews would be interesting. Your man crush on DA Eyster coupled with too much time spent in the courthouse has distorted your perception of reality. I’m thinking you should grab your guitar and suitcase (with or without concrete) and join the rest of us for a while and get your head right if you know what I mean. Maybe another stay at the Hospitality House? Do some real investigative journalism. Anyway, enough about you, Eyster, and masturbation, here is some real crime currently taking place against our children and their families.

    How Camille Schraeder became a millionaire, 20 years of success.

    Child-Snatching to Reap Federal Funds: The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997

    Now in anticipation of the Families First and Prevention Act being signed this week by Obama, the County of Mental-cino has just signed over another 15 milliion dollars for her foster care and adoption agency to take over all mental health and substance abuse programs (adult and children) for the County in a grand privatization scheme. They know where the money is going to be.

    “Legislation to prevent kids from entering foster care moves in the House.”

    These local conspirers are not stupid folks, you are. McEwen is just love struck.

    • james marmon July 1, 2016

      The Families First and Prevention Act moving through the House this week is being kept real quiet by the media because it basically repeals Bill Clinton’s Adoption and Safe Families Act. Remember, Hillary in 1996 wrote the book “it takes a village.”

      Which brings me to another point.

      “If it takes a village to raise a child, then it takes a village to abuse one,” A quote from the movie “Spotlight” recommended viewing for the AVA staff, real journalism. Our local village has abused thousands.

      • james marmon July 1, 2016

        We need to put a stop to this happening in Mental-cino County too. Its out of control. Thank you again Camille.

        California Bill would Outlaw “Rehoming” of Adopted Children

        California may soon enact legislation to protect children from being moved from one adoptive family to another without legal oversight. The practice, known as “rehoming,” has been found to expose adopted children to abuse and has highlighted loopholes in the U.S.’ child welfare system.

        • Bruce McEwen Post author | July 2, 2016

  6. LouisBedrock July 1, 2016

    Not to worry. God shall strike Jerome McMurphy blind.
    That’s the one thing I learned in my year at Saint Genevieve’s:
    Masturbators shall be smitten. (Smote? Smotten?)

    • Bruce McEwen Post author | July 2, 2016

      Smite me blind — it has certainly made me short-sighted, if not totally blind, to the teachings of Christianity. But the act in itself is not the issue, is it, Louis? What we are addressing is a fellow who would force it on others, even little kids, in order to attain his satisfaction …are you suggesting that the California penal Code is no better than Sharia Law in this regard. Your comment is somewhat smug. Please explain.

      • LouisBedrock July 2, 2016

        Forgive me Bruce, I was being flippant. This is not something that should be joked about.

        I taught in an elementary school and remember several children I liked who were victims of sexual abuse. One of my favorites, Stefanie, was the victim of the kind of exhibitionism you write about: she was in the fifth grade! Fortunately, authorities in the Bronx were not blasé about high schoolers who made lewd remarks and gestures to ten year old girls. Stephanie was given an escort for several months and the perps were pursued and punished.

        I oppose Sharia Law, but in cases like that of McMurphy I’d prefer to err on the side of harshness.

        • Bruce McEwen Post author | July 2, 2016

          go my son, and sin no more.

          also, allow me to suggest Dr. Orlov’s Emergency Eye-Wash, if you ever suffer from this ocular disease again…

  7. Bruce McEwen Post author | July 2, 2016

    You are the psych-school grad, you decide; I was only trying to give an option to the generous, understanding intelligences out there, and at the same time retain a grip (even a tenuous grip) on the reality of sex crimes, and the indifference of those who commit sex crimes. I, personally, do not subscribe to the notion that this kind of behavior is an illness — to me it’s a vice; a vice punishable by law, a law I support wholeheartedly. And, to my mind, you most certainly do sound like you are excusing bad behavior — very bad behavior. The details you beg me for are of course kept quiet under client/lawyer privileges of confidentiality; and this defendant’s psych eval is under even tighter wraps.

    Oh, and before I forget, here’s a little memo for both you and The Prophet Marmon: You do not write my job description, either one of you. Moreover, “Investigative Journalists” no longer exist, they are extinct, kaput, gone the way of the dinosaur. Will Parish told me only yesterday that his recent awards in that field came without monetary remuneration. He does his work on charity from a couple of patrons who pay him the equivalent of pittance — not that our financial circumstances are any of your business — and yet you and the lunatic Marmon charge me with these ridiculous enterprises to go out and spend thousands of dollars fighting to vindicate your personal obsessions.

    I’m going to file a grievance with my editors to have Loony-Tunes Marmon barred from posting his doggie-doo-do in my space, and if you cannot keep your comments focused any better than these two psuedo-psycho attempts at authority-speak, you too, can go find somebody else to bother.

  8. Jim Updegraff July 5, 2016

    A lot of aimless chatter – didn’t read any rational recommendations.

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