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Off the Record (July 6, 2016)


ERIC DWYER, Fort Bragg inn manager and frequent presenter at Fort Bragg City Council meetings, was in and out of the County Jail recently on vague charges described as “threats to commit crimes resulting in death or great bodily injury” and “civil rights: interfere with, property damage or speech.” Essentially, Dwyer's Facebook page describes how he's poised to go "witch hunting," as in "I have in the past done much in ridding the area of the demonic and witchcraft and I am in no way willing to allow any foothold of such black majic as acceptable or allowable. I shall call upon the Holy angels and this occultist practice shall no longer be accepted, like it or not. You think your silly weak and unholy demonic trickery will stop or even slow me down? You got another think coming…" And so on.

NOT ALL Fort Braggers appreciate Dwyer's stalwart efforts to beat back witches, witch-symps and miscellaneous demons, and fortunately for Fort Bragg Dwyer either wasn't around or was otherwise engaged during the great Satanist scare of the early 1980s when the more credulous sectors of the FB population were convinced that Beelzebub was preying on their children.

DWYER'S unhinged Facebook postings could certainly be described as worrisome; they've definitely frightened his adversaries, especially the women who oppose expansion of the Hospitality House complex in central Fort Bragg. Dwyer, one of your more liberal witch hunters, is all for it. Maybe Dwyer got the message from his weekend stay in the County Jail that in these nervous times threats often, as they say, "actualize" themselves, and good for the Fort Bragg cops for cracking down on him.

LOCALS should be aware that the County Jail is in triage mode. There isn't room for marginal crackpots of the Dwyer type. People assessed as not presenting clear and present dangers to themselves and others are in and out pretty fast to make room for the more immintly volatile types.

THAT "SETTLEMENT" that the County announced last week with the Blacktail Deer Association regarding medical marijuana cultivation may soon get unsettled. As with just about everything connected to marijuana decriminalization or semi-legalization or legalization of medical only, or personal use, or personal use of small amounts, or taxation, or asset forfeiture, or grow sizes, or water usage, or pesticides, or validity of medical claims or… the County's latest attempt to comply with state law, is, as always, a mess. It's almost as if a bunch of midnight stoners at all levels of government were attempting to make policy.

AN ATTORNEY POT GROWER cultivating meds in the hills above Lake Mendocino filed for a 25-plant cultivation permit on May 7 with the County Ag Department under the recently "settled" rules. Those freshly settled rules closed the door on new permits. Mr. Rosen esq, the dual lawyer and pot farmer, had claimed his application should have been approved because his app was submitted in time but wasn't processed and approved in a timely manner. (Rosen is obviously new to Mendocino County if he expects things to get done in a timely manner.)

ROSEN notified the County of his complaint, arguing that the County acted improperly when they entered into a settlement without publicly noticing the settlement terms and without consideration for pending applications. He claims that he has been damaged by a settlement because he's being denied an opportunity to legally grow medical marijuana.

IN HIS LETTER to the County Counsel's office Rosen concludes: "I intend to evaluate ways to get Mendocino County to follow both the letter and the spirit of AB 266. Please promptly accomplish locally what the Legislature and the Governor approved last October! I intend to follow California and Mendocino regulations precisely, so please allow that to happen."

BUT, LIKE, DUDE. Mendocino County doesn't have regs. As soon as the ink is dry Mendo changes the rules. Or the state does.

JUST IN from Fort Bragg, Councilman Dietz announced he would not run for re-election, and Rex Gressett, on task as always, has argued against the City spending $82,000 promoting itself. Ignoring the logic of Gressett's presentation, the Council will fritter the $82 grand on the usual unseen advertising while visitors grow in number anyway because Fort Bragg, as first-time visitors realize, is by far the coolest (literally) all-round place in all of California, perhaps the country, for miles of unspoiled and almost always unpeopled beaches, lots of good, cheap restaurants, plenty of reasonably priced accommodations, an interesting throwback little harbor reminiscent of the original Cannery Row, a coherent and attractive downtown despite the usual idiotic liberal attempts to give it over to drug heads, drunks and repellant transients (formerly bums), an old logging train called the Skunk, which is especially fun for the kids, and on and on. Fort Bragg advertises itself because the first time visitor always comes back a second time and spreads the word back home.

COAST HOSPITAL NURSE Louise Mariana writes: "There’s a very important meeting happening at Cotton Auditorium in Fort Bragg on July 12, Tuesday evening, from 6pm to 8pm. The Coast Hospital is sponsoring a Forum on the potential closure of the Obstetrics Department (Labor and delivery). The Hospital claims the department loses $1 million a year. Closure may be in the Hospital’s financial interest. Others disagree with that assessment. The Forum is your chance to weigh in on this crucial dilemma. Administration needs to hear from you. Please make every effort to attend because, as the Hospital slogan says, ‘It’s OUR hospital.’ People who are willing to help with Spanish/English translation would be most welcome. Thank you."

ALMOST A MONTH after the June 7 election, the final results were posted at 4pm by the Mendocino County Clerk. The first, informal returns the Clerk did release within hours of the ballots being cast have held, although in Keith Faulder's case just barely.

FAULDER, running for Superior Court judge against a newcomer to the County, Patrick Pekin, just edged out Pekin, 12408 to Pekin’s 12254, squeezing past the much less experienced but dogged campaigner by a 154 votes.

MEASURE U in Fort Bragg was defeated — 55% to 45%, a margin of 211 votes made to seem larger when it's rendered in percentages. People who think a homeless operation in a landmark old hotel in the center of town is somehow a good idea squeezed out a victory here but the war has just begun. Much of Fort Bragg thought it was such a bad idea that they are almost certain to follow-up with candidates for the Fort Bragg City Council whose majority foisted the deal off on an unsuspecting town before the unsuspecting could mobilize against it in the form of Measure U.

MEASURE V (“hacked & squirted” trees constitute an enhanced fire danger and eco-hazard, thus constituting a public nuisance) passed 62% to 38%. Will the Mendocino Redwood Company get the message from this advisory thumbs down on the promiscuous application of unhealthy chemicals? Probably not, as Mendocino County's Willits-based Naomi Raiders commence "direct action" demonstrations to reinforce the popular vote opposed to the chemical eradication of non-commercial tree species. The real danger to MRC is the likely loss of its "green" certification, which is important to its sales. There has already been agitation from national enviro groups to strip MRC of its "green" status because of hack and squirt.

MEASURE (W) lost 53.6% to 43.4%. It would have begun the process to make Mendocino County a charter county. What's the diff? Don't ask unless you're prepared for a convoluted, inarticulate, incomprehensible hour-long explanation from a proponent.

SUPERVISOR CARRE BROWN, 1st District, crushed challenger Montana Podva by a 3-1 margin.

AND IN MENDO, SANDERS BEAT CLINTON by better than 2-1 as Congressman Huffman, a super delegate, came out for Clinton two months ago, quickly announcing at the ensuing uproar from the Sanders forces that he was remaining "neutral" until the convention. Lots of libs are already pasting Clinton bumperstickers over their Berns and, as per ancient custom around here, will aggressively support Hillary in November as "the lesser evil," pretending or not caring that she represents everything they claim to be opposed to.

IT SHOULD HAPPEN HERE, but probably won't. Lake County’s district attorney announced Thursday he will investigate and prosecute perjury. Lying on the stand is so far outtahand in Mendocino County (probably everywhere) that you can walk into a courtroom cold and find yourself saying to yourself almost immediately, "That person is lying." The most painful lies we've personally witnessed are estranged spouses, male and female, claiming the other is a perv presenting a hazard to the children. Glenda Anderson wrote up the big Lake breakthrough for her somnolent employer, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.

DON'T AWAKEN SLEEPING GLENDA, but Mendo DA, David Eyster, has been pursuing perjurers ever since he took office five years ago. For some reason the Press Democrat's haphazard Ukiah reporter, Glenda Anderson, filed a front page pufferoo this week about how the Lake County DA is thinking about going after people who lie under oath. Three minutes from Glenda's "Ukiah Bureau at the County Courthouse Eyster has convicted a woman who was submitting false and altered documents into evidence in a family law matter, and will soon pursue Christine Kelsay for perjury. Mrs. Kelsay is the Willits woman recently sentenced to County Jail time for diverting thousands of dollars from her employer, Geiger's Market in Laytonville, to herself. Ms. Kelsay told some truly child-like whoppers when she testified in her own defense.

WILL the Supervisors summon Ms. Ranochak to ask why it takes so long to count the Mendo vote? "Well, ya see, it takes an awful lotta fingers and toes to count that high, and by the time you get all them people in one place sobered up, and them jumping' all around and me with only a few gals to help do the tote, well, hell….. " Supervisor Woodhouse? "I want to commend you, Ms. Ranochak, on the fine job you do under these difficult conditions, especially in the computer age that makes counting to 20,000 so darn hard. You think it's difficult in Ukiah, well you just try chasing everybody out of the bushes up in Laytonville. Where was I? O yes. Organic marijuana. I'm for it and I know my constituents, many of whom can't function without their medication every day…." Supervisor Hamburg? "What's the subject again?" Supervisor McCowen. "County policy 3855 mandates dual references to policies 4289 and 2126." Supervisor Brown: "What's any of this have to do with free water forever for our struggling sons of the soil out in Potter Valley?" Supervisor Gjerde: "Am I nuts or is this the way we do public business in this jive county?"

RECOMMENDED READING/VIEWING: ‘Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship Between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X,’ and ‘The Trials of Muhammad Ali,’ a 2013 documentary. It’s been about a month since Muhammad Ali died and most of what we’ve heard about him since then has been hagiographic. But Ali the man was much more than the civil rights and boxing legend that has come to dominate the pop culture view of him.

‘THE TRIALS OF MUHAMMAD ALI’ is a 2013 documentary that compliments ‘Blood Brothers’ very nicely, lending a visual accompaniment to many of the events described in ‘Blood Brothers,’ combined with interviews and archival footage of the real characters. We tend to forget that Ali’s decision to resist the draft turned much of the county against him when, with a moral clarity unmatched by many "educated" white people, as he loudly and publicly said things like, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Vietcong,” and “Ain’t no Vietcong ever called me a nigger,” and, when asked why he could be so aggressive in the ring but was unwilling to go to war replied, “I’ll beat ’em up, but I won’t kill ’em,” and then, “I just can’t go over and shoot those people that didn’t do nuthin’ to me and then come back home and I’m still a nigger.”

MORE RECOMMENDED VIEWING. There's recommended viewing and then there's recommended viewing. There are movie-movies, entertaining but defective one way or the other, and there are movies that compute with reality as it's lived by most of us and satisfy our aesthetic sense. Free State of Jones is a movie-movie. It's based on the true story of an unusual (especially for the time and place) white man named Newton Jones who led an inter-racial and inter-gender guerrilla uprising against the Confederate Army, and did it from inside his native Mississippi during the Civil War. As a movie-movie, I thought it was interesting, at least it held my flitting, juvenile attentions throughout. But as a reflection of what we know of adult reality, it tends too often to the implausible, happy face mawk of the Hollywood liberal whose idea of race realism is The Color Purple. But this film, despite a disjointed narrative, sticks to the known facts closely enough to outline a fascinating story of how this fierce man, Newton Jones, strictly an Old Testament guy, lived by the relevant passages from the Good Book to underpin his astounding rebellion. Reap what you sow, for instance, inspired his hard scrabble comrades to resist Confederate raids on their thin larders to provision the Confederate Army and left the farmers and their families to starve winters. The Confederates were also confiscating the sons of the hard scrabblers for "a rich man's war and a poor man's fight." Mick LaSalle, the Chron movie reviewer, said of Free State of Jones that "It's sometimes moving and always interesting, and it emerges as an honest story about one of the most misunderstood periods of American history, the Reconstruction era." Actually, it's told in chronological order with the Reconstruction era sharing the final segment with the ultimately victorious miscegenation trials of Newt's great grandson. Newt the First, simultaneously married to a white woman and a black woman, set off a complicated lineage. The Mississippi prosecutor, circa mid-1950s, discovered that the white great grandson is recorded in the Newton family Bible as the descendant of Newt's black mother, making him an eighth black, which was enough to qualify him as a "negro" under Mississippi's insane race laws. Married to a white woman in the 1950s, this putative black man is arrested and charged with cohabitation. Mississippi ultimately frees him rather than take on the US Supreme Court over Mississippi's obsessive race laws. I should add here that the acting in Free State is very good. In the wrong hands, this movie would have been painfully bad, unwatchable. Flaws and all, the mighty AVA turns a mottled thumb skyward for Free State.

VIEWING TIP: "Rectify," 16 episodes via NetFlicks. Really, really good. We propelled both our mottled thumbs skyward for this one and we're only half-way through the series which, by the way, is the work of the same genius of a writer-director who produced the wonderful series, Deadwood.

KZYX GENERAL MANAGER, LORRAINE DECHTER, has told the Ukiah Daily Journal that the station just may move its base of operations to Ukiah. Where it should have been placed in its murky beginnings but, for the convenience of its founder, Sean Donovan, who lived in nearby Boonville, it was situated in Philo.

OF COURSE, no one else was even talking about a public radio station for Mendocino County twenty-odd years ago so it's hardly fair to add errant topography to Donovan's sins, foremost among them the large, retroactive payment he extracted from his handpicked and dependably pliant board of directors when they gifted Donovan for his unilateral work founding the station.

UKIAH isn't exactly one of the world's crossroads, but it is at least a crossroads. Philo is more a state of mind, and hardly a sensible site for a locally-focused public radio station. What happens in vast Mendocino County either begins in the county seat of Ukiah or winds up being adjudicated there.

MS. DECHTER and her husband have rented office space in Ukiah at their own expense that will make a handy center for KZYX and its reporters. The trick now is to persuade the station's directors to abandon Philo, which shouldn't be all that difficult because, mirabile dictu! that board seems suddenly much clearer-thinking than the stooge boards of the past quarter-century.

MEANWHILE, in Willits, Lannie Cotler, liberal gadfly, has resurfaced from wherever he's been the past few years to launch a modest fm radio station:

"Dear list and friends,

KLLG Willits 97.9 will have its inaugural broadcast on the 4th. The tall tower and antenna went up a few days ago (see pics on Facebook, KLLG), The signal reaches out from the Grange to most of Willits and the surrounding community.

KLLG 97.9 Willits hometown radio! In 2016 we will be fund-raising and building the radio station. Join the team and help build the dream!"

RICHARD SHOEMAKER is Point Arena's $50,000-a-year, part-time city manager. He's charging Arenans $10 to watch 4th of July fireworks from the Mendocino County parking lot in Point Arena. In the same sense Napoleon thought himself synonymous with France, Shoemaker seems to think he's synonymous with the County and Point Arena, that he can appropriate the County parking lot to make PA's captive population pay $10 to watch fireworks from property neither he nor Point Arena owns. Since his mysterious appointment as city manager by the Mendolib underground a few months ago, Shoemaker has made the broke City of PA more broke, partly because of his preposterously inflated salary for part-time "work."

OF COURSE it's only coincidence that just up the road in Fort Bragg, Shoemaker's girl friend, city manager Linda Ruffing, is charging FB people $10 to watch the fireworks from the Noyo Headlands Trail.

(THE MENDOLIB UNDERGROUND, aka the Mendocino County branch of active Hillary Democrats, manages to get its people into all the high paying County and city jobs.  Scratch an upper-level County or City job, or a non-profit, and there they are, making Mendocino County a little poorer in every way every day.)

MENDOCINO COUNTY'S most interesting, and most thoroughly re-invented personality, Mike Sweeney, direct Mendolib beneficiary, has suggested to the Ukiah Daily Journal's Adam Randall that he may retire. And his retirement might just precede the abolition of the Sweeney-created Mendocino Solid Waste Management Authority as proposed by Willits City councilman, Ron Ornstein.

ORNSTEIN recently pointed out the obvious — that Sweeney's trash agency was formed to close down landfills that no longer exist, and that MSWMA doesn't do anything that the County's private trash companies couldn't do.

(MENDOCINO COUNTY is also home to a County Office of Education that manages to spend annual millions not doing a single thing that couldn't be done better and cheaper by the individual school districts of Mendocino County. The State of California has at last begun rolling back MCOE's more obviously redundant or pointless responsibilities, and we shall see what we shall see. When The Terminator was governor of the state, he wanted to terminate all the county offices of education, but was prevented by the massive politically connected edu-blob from carrying out this long overdue public service.)

SO, what's so interesting about the County's garbage czar, Mike Sweeney?

A CUNNING little fellow right out of Conrad's Secret Agent, Sweeney, a private high school grad from a wealthy Santa Barbara family, was duly packed off to Stanford where, as a mere freshman, he became editor of the student paper and a Maoist soldier in a weird "revolutionary" cult led by the English department, or at least one guy from the English department called H. Bruce Franklin, a Melville scholar. (How a person, even a Stanford person, manages to go from a close study of a great humanist and writer like Melville to the fortune cookie maxims of Mao tse Tung is one of the more intriguing minor mysteries of American life, but the professor apparently went over boffo with Sweeney.

OUR HERO, who comes with with an impressively psychotic bad temper, remained a Maoist long after "revolution" was fashionable on college campuses. Among other revolutionary triumphs, Sweeney's cult murdered a young, unarmed, married with two small children, Hispanic prison transportation officer. The ruling class trembled!

SWEENEY, in his guise as militant prole, dropped out of Stanford for a while to study refrigeration engineering — you know, pipes and wrenches (as in pipe bombs). It was at a Maoist convention that Sweeney met Judi Bari, which turned out to be one of your more explosive relationships.

STILL on their honeymoon, the newlyweds, now living in West Santa Rosa near an airfield popular with weekend pilots, led a campaign to stop both the planes that disturbed their suburban peace and to prevent conversion of the airfield to more suburb. One night one of the hangars blew up, a young man asleep inside running for his life. Police would later note that the cockamamie bomb deployed by Sweeney, and probably Bari, to ignite the gasoline that destroyed the hangar, was a "signature" device, similar to those detonated in 1990 at the L-P office in Cloverdale and, a few weeks later, in the former Mrs. Sweeney's car in Oakland. There were design and parts similarities between all three bombs.

ORDINARILY, as any cop will tell you, and what most American adults also know, the man in a woman's life, or the ex-man in the woman's life, is awarded Suspect Number One status when his lady or former lady is harmed or murdered. Not Sweeney. The cops, and even the FBI, magically dismissed Bari's ex as any kind of suspect in the bomb that slowly, over seven years, ended her life in 1997. The FBI had already announced that the case was closed "because no one would talk to us" (!) and, ever since, the pseudo-left of the cult-brained type, has claimed the bombing of Bari was, gosh, just a great big mystery, but the FBI did it; or the timber corporations did it; or a religious nut did it; or men generally did it. Pick your villain so long as it isn't one as prosaic as an ex-husband.

AS ALL THIS violent excitement around Bari was picking up momentum in 1990, Sweeney was also getting recycling grants via local Democrat, Wes Chesbro, which Sweeney, tight with Mendolib’s Richard Shoemaker then a Ukiah-area supervisor, parlayed those grants into a cush and well-paid job for himself in his and Mendolib's freshly created MSWMA. Interestingly, and perhaps significantly, Sweeney and Bari shared free office space at the Mendocino Environment Center directly across the street from the County Courthouse in a building owned by present Supervisor, John McCowen. The very day after the bombing, a couple of men no one had ever seen before ripped out the phones and confiscated the computers.

SWEENEY, long before all the hullabaloo around the bombing had calmed down, was thoroughly done over as just one more gray little bureaucrat shuffling around County offices dropping acronyms and trying to look busy. And where better place could a criminal psychopath find a more comfortable home than Mendocino County, where every day history starts all over again, and you are whatever you say you are?

OTHER SWEENEY-LIKE re-inventions include, most famously, Tim Stoen of the former People's Temple, now working as a prosecutor out of Fort Bragg's Ten Mile Court, and much less famously Dr. Peter Keegan of Ukiah whose wife was bludgeoned to death in the Keegan home going on six years ago. The doctor and his wife were alone in the home, but only he was alive when the sun came up. When DA Eyster was elected, Mrs. Keegan's death certificate was amended to read HOMICIDE. Still no prosecution, though.

PS. The Bari Bombing could have been wrapped up in a month if the Press Democrat's Mike Geniella had been given the time and the money to investigate it. Geniella was the last real reporter the paper employed in Mendocino County. Geniella's successor? Glenda Anderson. She's lived with Mike Sweeney for years. (PBS producer Steve Talbot, in a month's work with investigator Dave Helvarg, produced Who Bombed Judi Bari, an honest but seldom seen documentary that points straight at Sweeney as Bari's would be killer. Darryl Cherney has made a hagiographic film also called Who Bombed Judi Bari that celebrates himself and Bari.)

PPS. Who's this Mendolib you're always going on about? Off the top, you've got Shoemaker, Ruffing, Joe Louis Wildman, David Colfax, Dave Turner, Lee Edmundson, Val Muchowski, Linda McClure, Steve Antler, Rachel Binah, Holly Madrigal, Hal Wagenet, Dan Hamburg, Meg Courtney, Anne Molgaard, 7 of the 9 Superior Court judges, and about half the KZYX membership, especially the people who think they get the straight skinny from NPR.

MENDOCINO COUNTY’S DE-ORTNERIZED Mental Health department, along with Redwood Quality Management Company is preparing to roll out their new “No Wrong Door” arrangement at the start of this fiscal year on July 1, 2016. The newly reconfigured “Access Line” — 1-800-555-5906 — will provide assistance and guidance on which services apply to which situation. And the “Crisis Line” — 1-855-838-0404 — will provide “support” for anyone “experiencing a mental health emergency (danger to self or others).” The lines are supposed to be staffed 24/7 and answered by local people. Of course, setting up the lines is the easy part. Whether the hard part is done remains to be seen.

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