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Off the Record (July 20, 2016)

SUCH IS THE DEMAND that something be done about the woeful and ineffective treatment of the County's mentally ill, that the Sheriff and a small group of helpers had no trouble gathering double the number of signatures required to qualify his Revive Mental Health Services initiative for the November ballot. An impressive 4,328 signatures were affixed to the qualifying petitions.

THE WAY mental health emergencies are handled now sees the crisis cases transported out of the county to distant and very expensive facilities. Mr. Ortner, the Yuba City privateer, to whom the County grandly handed millions of tax dollars to run our front line mental health services, managed to steer crisis cases to facilities he just happened to own. The Sheriff's plan will (we hope) keep those patients in a local facility funded out of a tiny boost to the local sales tax.

FROM THE CELEBRATORY press release announcing the successful signature drive: "The Countywide initiative will be on the November General Election Ballot and will require a 2/3 yes vote to pass. The initiative increases sales tax by ½ cent for 5 years. An estimated $23,000,000 will be raised for developing the infrastructure of a Mental Health Service Center. 100% of all revenue raised can only be used for “brick and mortar”. The initiative calls for the development of a Psychiatric Health Facility (PHF), which has not existed in Mendocino County since 1999, as well as a Crisis Residential Unit, a Drop In Clinic and improved services for drug and alcohol addiction. The initiative specifically excludes any revenue from being spent on personnel. The initiative also requires that an 11 person committee review all expenditures prior to being presented to the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors. The initiative also provides 10% of the funds to be used to develop a training center for Public Safety personnel and Mental Health Professionals."

SURPRISE! Local pot growers think the County’s proposed tax rates for semi-legalized marijuana are too high, so high they will discourage participation in the semi-voluntary program. At Tuesday’s Board meeting Supervisor Dan Hamburg opened the topic by recusing himself because “a close family member” intends to participate in the pot regulation and tax program. (See the following item) The other four Supervisors were unable to find a way to avoid the issue and had to sit through a couple hours of public input from pot growers who said versions of — the modest rates the County tax consultant came up with — 5% of gross receipts for non-medical pot, 2.5% for medical pot — are too high. That was before the special tax consultant took the microphone for another unnecessary hour to describe his draft tax ordinance.

THE BOARD has to put any proposed tax on the ballot and must have the finalized tax proposal to the County Clerk by early August. After a lengthy scheduling discussion the Board decided to re-consider the tax structure and rates at their upcoming July 18 meeting with hope that they can get something to the County Clerk for the November vote. Predictably, only pot growers offered public input on the subject. No one else took the podium to comment on it pro or con.

THE ENTIRE regulate and tax structure under consideration is voluntary. Pot growers would be expected to subject themselves to hours of paperwork, permit fees, inspections, costly consultants, costly attorneys, County bureaucrats, law enforcement, etc. — all for the privilege of growing pot legally (while it remains illegal at the federal level). Meanwhile a statewide legalization measure will be on the November ballot, probably adding further confusion to the question as Mendo crawls into 2017 in a marijuana regulatory haze.

PS. CNBC says that only 60% of Colorado’s semi-legalized dope is sold legally. There’s still 40% sold on the black market — tax free. Whatever the percentage may be, there will still be lots of pot grown outside whatever process Mendo ends up with. And very few growers will sign up.

FIFTH DISTRICT SUPERVISOR Dan Hamburg has grown marijuana on his Robinson Creek Road property for many years. He's made many thousands of tax-free dollars growing marijuana. A decade or so ago his dope op was raided, but a faulty warrant spared Hamburg jail time, although it's unlikely his pals on the Superior Court would be inclined to put him there. The rules that apply to the rest of us have been waived for Hamburg for many years. Why? Beats me, but he's fortunate in his cult-like followers, so numerous in this one odd jurisdiction, who just keep on electing him, although his accomplishments in office have been zero. How much actual work the pious "liberal" puts in on his garden won't be known, but his business is so profitable he has hired labor which, according to one estranged worker, is exploited as ruthlessly as any Calcutta sweat shop owner exploits the ten-year-olds indentured to him. Aside from elected office, Hamburg has never had a legitimate job. At a recent meeting of the Supervisors, Hamburg said his scruples, heretofore invisible, would prevent him from participating in the discussion about proposed marijuana guidelines. He said "a family member" is in the business. The family member is, of course, his daughter and the grow is on Hamburg's property. The guy can't even manage honest hypocrisy, so he tosses his daughter over the side and, with a straight face, pretends not to be in the business himself.

CALFIRE has approved a timber harvest plan for 330 acres near Gualala. The 330-acre “Dogwood” timber harvest plan is opposed by Forest Unlimited and Friends of the Gualala River who are likely to mount a court challenge to stop the project.

OPPONENTS of the logging plan say it violates many of the rules meant to protect sensitive habitat and the river's floodplain. Gualala Redwood Timber Inc. acquired the land along the lower Gualala River last year. Spokesman Henry Alden says the company plans to begin logging this summer unless there is outside interference.

BACK IN APRIL the Mendocino County Grand Jury found that Point Arena’s catch as catch can “code enforcement” was unevenly applied, imposing city regs on some fogeaters, but ignoring those of City Council members, most notably councilman Jim Koogle, who “operated a bio-diesel fueling business without having applied for or received a business license.”

THE GRAND JURY also pointed out that (former) City Councilmember Deborah Heatherstone “was residing in an unpermitted structure in the City lacking sewer hookups, and that the Councilmember residing there was disposing of human and other wastes on-site illegally. Specifically, human waste was being disposed of via composting and a ‘gray water’ method that does not meet the definition of acceptable gray watering as described in the State Health and Safety Code. Furthermore, these activities were occurring in close proximity to Point Arena Creek.”

IN THE WEEKS since the Grand Jury report, City Manager Richard Shoemaker, and Point Arena City Attorney Terry Gross, have filed inconsistent responses. Shoemaker simply dismisses the charges out of hand. Ms. Gross puts the blame on the City Manager and the County. She also disputes the obvious fact that the DA filed charges against the raw sewage dumper— councilmember Heatherstone. (The back and forth on the issue can be found on our website.)

LAST MONTH POINT ARENA’S $50,000-a-year, part-time manager, Richard Shoemaker, a guy mysteriously inflicted on PA after years of overpaid public work mostly in Ukiah, fended off Grand Jury criticism by simply responding with the same language he deployed as a disastrous County supervisor, "I disagree wholly or partially…"

THE GRAND JURY had accurately and irrefutably assessed PA's functioning this way: "The City has been inconsistent in code enforcement, providing preferential treatment for City Council members, while adhering more strictly to the code in the case of some members of the public…"

SHOEMAKER replied, "I have served as City Manager since October 1, 2015. During that time I have never experienced any sort of 'protocol violations' in regard to any Council members providing direction to city staff. I certainly have not felt pressured to do anything preferential or illegal."

THAT’S BECAUSE he wasn't there when the incestuous fog belt government was doing each other big illegal favors. Typical Shoemaker, typical evasion of an objective look at government dysfunction by an objective body.

MOST DAYS bring a deluge of unencouraging news. Somewhere in the world there's been an appalling slaughter of innocent people. Lately, lone nuts have been ambushing police officers, claiming that these assassinations are in response to racial injustice. The death statistics from the Middle East are numbing. We barely notice. Today's body count was torqued upwards when a terrorist drove a semi into a crowd of French people celebrating Bastille Day. Which is what comes from the bipartisan destabilization of the Middle East begun by Bush and continued by Obama-Hillary. It's called 'blowback' and there's no end to it. Assassinations of police officers is simply intolerable but, like all terrorism, impossible to stop.

THE SUPES blithely handed former Assistant District Attorney Paul Sequeira a cool $50,000 Tuesday via their consent calendar, meaning no one even thought it was worth a public discussion.

THIS PARTICULAR GIFT of public funds has occurred because, well, it has, and because it's easy to settle disputes with public money rather than out of the pockets of the people who made the deal.

OF COURSE the Supes would say they paid Sequeira the money to prevent him from suing for even more money. But how do we know, really, if he was entitled to it since it all arose out of a beef between two old pals who went to college together, DA Eyster and Assistant DA Sequeira.

ESSENTIALLY, DA EYSTER told Sequeira he'd pay Sequeira a certain amount. That agreement was never formalized in the form of a contract, at least a contract anybody can find. So it became a he said, he said deal and fifty thou public money walks out the door.

NO ONE ever has known, except Eyster and Sequeira, what the price of Sequeira's informal agreement was. But whatever it was Sequeira was happy with it for almost five years, and who works for five years without knowing to the penny what he's making.

JUST SAYIN' HERE, but how do us taxpayers know that the two old buds didn't get together to, well, uh, rip us off, both knowing that "the County" could be depended on to fork over? Is it unreasonable to at least wonder if the fifty grand isn't a parting gift to a guy who was leaving anyway for a better job?

SEQUEIRA, like Eyster is a gifted prosecutor who now works in a comparable job in Solano County, which is a less onerous commute from Sequeira's home in West SoCo.

MOST SUSPICIOUSLY of all, the only person claiming that Sequeira had a job contract is his boss, Eyster. The County says there was no contract but that Sequeira was the DA's "at will" employee. No one has said what Sequeira's deal was worth, but Eyster has said there was a written contract. Which no one can find.

BUT NOW that the out-the-door deal is done I doubt anybody is looking for it.

DA SPOKESMAN MIKE GENIELLA, asked for comment, promptly responded, making it clearer than clear, that the confusion and more than four years of indefensible bumbling, were all on the County's end.

GENIELLA WRITES: "DA Eyster, CEO Carmel Angelo and then County Counsel Jeanine Nadel all agreed with the terms of the proposed contract in April, 2011." And Geniella forwarded the documentation. (All this on the ava website.)

A RELIABLE SOURCE comments on our item about the $50,000 pay out to Assistant District Attorney Paul Sequiera: "You have it about right. The whole thing was a comedy of errors with the county doing everything they could to pay Sequeira as much as they could, even coming up with a bullshit interpretation that he was hired as 'extra help' instead of for a regular permanent position. I don't know what went down between he and Eyster, but when Sequeira decided to bail he blindsided the county, claiming he was owed an extra $20,000 a year retroactive to when he started. As an attorney, he should know there are strict limits on paying out public money retroactively. The county agreed to pay the $50,000, not because Mr. Jerko had a strong case, but because it would have cost that much or more to defend it, especially with the DA siding with Sequeira. The blowback between the DA, County Counsel and the CEO is interesting, with everyone pointing the finger at someone else. Meanwhile, the taxpayer is getting the finger and is stuck paying the bill."

YEARS AGO, around 1998, we covered a public romance arising, you might say, in Fort Bragg. It involved a woman now called Eros Nelson (then named Eros Hamilton Talbot) and a teenage boy named Matt Evans. The couple wanted to marry. The prob was that Eros, then 34, was more than a decade older, her love interest still a keen teen, and we all know that a teenage boy lost to eros is in no condition to make a marriage agreement that might outlast his erection. Eros had, as I recall, stated that if she couldn't marry the kid she'd adopt him. It all resolved itself in the vague way that Mendocino County resolves matters, and the couple became a couple that went on from the connubial bliss that inspired their relationship to drugs and, as Eros herself told me the other day from the County Jail, to "stealing lots of stuff for the past year." Which translates, I would suppose, stealing stuff to feed a dependence on crank. The recent arrest of Eros and her guy has seen the guy released but Eros still in jail, meaning that Mendocino County has done the impossible, imprisoning Eros, never once confined anywhere in all of human history but often thwarted. Another first for Mendocino County! She says the jail won't let her write letters out, as during the same call Eros told us she doesn't have any money on her books, meaning no money for stamps to write us a letter explaining how she arrived where she is. The County Jail does not interfere with inmate communications, although phone calls are monitored. We slapped a twenty on Eros's books because we want to hear from her what exactly has happened to her. Not to be too much of a bleeding heart about her situation, but Eros was weeping and threatening suicide, one more case, looked at objectively, of the Sheriff being put in the position of mental health facility of last resort, but one more excellent example of why the Sheriff's proposed in-County mental health facility is an absolute necessity.

ONE MORNING LAST WEEK began with the following from the Sheriff's Office: "MCSO deputies are investigating this morning's fire east of the Mendocino K-8 school, which is not currently in session. The fire was put out quickly and without incident. Deputies are looking for a person of interest described as a white adult male, late teens to early twenties, shoulder length blondish hair, no facial hair and wearing dirty, baggy pants without shoes. This person of interest is believed to have told witnesses to the fire of seeing an armed gunman. Deputies believe this was only a diversionary tactic. If you see a person matching the description above please call MCSO Dispatch at (707)463-4086."

THE KID who set off the combined arson-gun-scraggle hair-barefoot-crazy-man-in-the-Mendo-Village-woods alert turned out to be 18-year-old Simon Raye. Raye, who also goes by Simon Peter, was found by police in Fort Bragg about 4:30 that same afternoon. He was booked into the County Jail on $25,000 bail.

Raye (L-Facebook, R-Booking)
Raye (L-Facebook, R-Booking)

THE KID says on his FaceBook page he'd ingested "dabs" aka honey oil, which temporarily turned him into a free-range nut pie. His photo portrays just about the least maniacal-looking dude to pass through the County Jail lately. We hope he re-thinks "dabs." A friend says the boy passed through the Mendo schools and speculates he's "just another spoiled, self-entitled kid like the many we see out here." Reading his stuff on FaceBook I'd say he's smart but intellectually lost in that big vat of Mendo-unique pseudo-mysticism and narcissism that sinks a lot of young people around here. The schools give them straight-A's and tell them how wonderful and unique they are then, when they step out of the cocoon, discover they aren't special and that the world is indifferent to them. I have no idea how we might go about restoring a sense of proportion and reasonable expectation in the young, but we might start by ending this baloney about "You can be whatever you want to be," as if life, however you cut it, isn't a crap shoot even for disciplined people who try real, real hard.

LOTS OF YOUNG people would benefit from watching Louis CK's hilarious video called "Do Your Job, 20 Year Olds."  This guy is very funny. Never heard of him before. I've really got to get out more.

THE TELEVISION COVERAGE of the atrocity in France was repetitive for hours after the event, the only change being the body count, which rose every couple of hours. The next morning's fresh news cycle revealed that the gunman had been identified as a naturalized Frenchman born in Tunisia with vague ties to Moslem terrorists.

THE TV coverage of the now daily atrocities runs along familiar tracks. You've got Wolf Blitzer, a wonderfully comic figure, perched in CNN's "situation room," spinning in his chair from one rapid fire graphic to the next, which he illuminates with statements of the obvious from an array of knowledgeable people, all of them gift-wrapped for prime time within safely liberal parameters. NPR audio coverage consists of experts from the Brookings Institute whose think tankers go back and forth between thinking and cush federal government positions. You won't hear any of them express a single thought outside received opinion. No one, of course, mentions that the origins of international mayhem was ignited by the Bush regime, helped along by Obama and people like Hillary.

THE MOST CORRUPT moment of the evening's horror-in-France coverage occurs when Anderson Cooper, a donor to and supporter of the Clinton campaign, brings on Hillary who strings out a few platitudes about how terrible it all is, as if she's just happened on the scene of a major accident when she's co-author of it.

FINALLY, we got the French president, a droning cliche machine who, it was revealed hours before the mass murder, spends $11,000 a month on his hair. This robotic figure is about as far from leadership qualities as it's possible to be.

HERE AT HOME, a parade of fat guys, led by Newt Gingrich, a draft dodger, appear on screen to urge extreme measures. "Anybody who adheres to Sharia Law should be expelled from the country." Maybe Newt and the Fox News team plan on going door-to-door. "Excuse me, ma'am,' do you believe in wearing a tent and walking ten paces behind your husband and his other three wives?"

KATIE HOPKINS: "Mohamed took a truck and drove it into men, women and children celebrating Bastille day in Nice. He killed 84. And who yet knows of the horrors still to spew from hospital wards — lives fractured, crumpled, crushed. One minute they were jubilant, locals and tourists alike celebrating Bastille day together. The next, lying splintered on the floor. And the most sickening thing of all — worse than spilt blood, fractured bodies, children with legs contorted out of human control, the reek of death, is our horribly sanitized response to it all. Pathetic. Predictably impotent. Evil mowed us down in a monster truck. And we tweeted like lethargic birds between Egyptian cotton sheets."

PEOPLE WHO AREN'T FUNNY. Things stick in your mind. Years ago, Barry Bonds, of all people, said in an interview that he didn't think Jerry Seinfeld was funny. From then on I regarded Bonds with renewed respect. I, too, never thought Seinfeld was funny, that his show was so smugly awful in the smirking, prudently ironical way that lots of younger people seem to find amusing, I couldn't get through a single episode. My credentials? Ladies and germs, I saw Lenny Bruce live. Twice! When you pick yourself up off the floor after absorbing that ultimate credential, I'll add that the only other comedian I saw live was Bill Cosby at my nephew's opening concert at his SF Jazz Center. The next day I ran into my neighbor, Aidin Vazri, the Chron's show biz reviewer. We chatted about the previous night's big event. I said I didn't get the squeak-squawk jazz and I thought Cosby was beyond un-funny, shambling on stage unprepared and rambling on like a guy who thought he was real cute and charming but was so painfully unamusing I felt like leaving. If Cosby had walked into your house with this act you would have asked him to leave before everyone dropped dead from boredom. Cosby probably picked up thirty or forty grand just for being a famous person who showed up. Vazri, surprised, said he thought Cosby was "great." This was pre-scandal Cosby, I should say, but a few months later white America's favorite black man was revealed as an all-round creep. Humor, though, like beauty, depends on…

LENNY BRUCE was the break-through guy. He was brilliant and really, really funny (so long as he wasn't loaded) with stand-up that would get him banned even more places now than it did back in the sixties. I also think Richard Pryor, the early Eddie Murphy, some of Robin Williams, Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, and George Carlin are funny.

BILL MAHER AND COLBERT, plus Colbert's predecessor, Jon Stewart, leave me colder than cold. Offended, actually, that these guys, political versions of Seinfeld, are considered cutting edge, out there somehow on the very precipice of daring humor, when what we're getting is unfunny, and entirely within lib-lab parameters.

NOT TRYING to sneak in some kind of back door big shot-ism on you here because, actually, I'm embarrassed by it, but way back when I happened to get about an hour's worth of 15-minute fame over a brief period, I got some offers to go on national tv, among them a deal from Maher to fly free to LA to be some kind of punching bag for him on his awful show, which I still haven't seen beyond a few minutes. I said no, that I thought he was repulsive and you'd have to pay me lots and lots to go to LA for any reason, and a couple mil cash to even be in the same room as that pig.

I THINK I was prescient, in a way. Maher is worse than ever. I can't even imagine the magnitude of feeb-itis that thinks this guy is funny. But all the famous libs love Maher because they can show off their righteousness big time with Trump as national foil while at the same time demonstrating their own craven fealty to Billery. So, a "friend" sends me a clip of Maher calling Trump's children, "Nazis." A real knee-slapper. Another clip shows Maher advising us Bern Feelers to "grow up and get with Hillary." Which wasn't, I guess, supposed to be funny but another demo that the guy's fear to be outside the Great Consensus is so great he has to say stuff like this. And this guy packs 'em in!

NOT REALLY RECOMMENDED, but if you enjoy visuals of improbable violence and fanciful depictions of general drug scumbaggery, you'll enjoy The Infiltrator, a movie likely to have a strong influence on the current crop of criminally disposed remedial readers confined to America's juvenile halls. "O yeah. That's the life for me. Pole dancers, suitcases of cash, lots of tough talk, killing people just for laughs." Bryan Cranston plays a customs agent who infiltrates the famous Colombian drug gang headed up by Pablo Escobar. The movie is supposedly based on the true adventures of a Customs undercover guy called Robert Mazur. The story line, if there is one, is lost in the narrative, which makes less than no sense. I've seen Cranston in the great series Breaking Bad, as Dalton Trumbo, and now as a narc. He's the same guy in all three movies. If he has any range, it isn't yet evident. An actor who can really act, John Leguizamo, is brilliant in this thing, and worth the price of a ticket all by himself. But it's like every other contemporary movie that celebrates aberrant behavior, surprising only in that millions of people seem to think big, vulgar houses, fancy cars, tarted up women, represent the good life. (cf the high end of the Democratic Party, Donald Trump etc.)

ANNOUNCING an Indiana crypto-fascist as his running mate, Trump declared Saturday morning, "Mike Pence is a man of honor, character and honesty." Fellow Mendolanders synchronize your watches as the AVA predicts that Pence will soon be caught in the back of a late night limo with an underage prostitute, male or female.

AGAIN SEIZING the initiative in the lethargic context of official Mendocino County, Sheriff Allman's Mobile Outreach program Services (MOPS), mops up a lot of mental health cases before the bedeviled can harm themselves or others. The Sheriff keeps a roster of persons "known to law enforcement" via previous encounters with deputies, which he shares with outreach workers. Allman calls it "delivery of personal services for people who might not ask for help…" An experienced County mental health counselor, Joy Kinion (born and raised in Boonville), and Shawn Patrick of the Sheriff's Department, check in with troubled persons twice a week to assess their functioning. The areas that receive most MOPS attention are Ukiah and Fort Bragg (of course), Covelo, Point Arena, Gualala, and Laytonville.

A READER WANTS TO KNOW: “What sentence did the court impose on the high power child molester Dunakin, and the rapist/murderer of Kayla Chesser, Terrell Marshall?” They were both maxed out and will not be released in our lifetimes. Dunakin got 81 years to life. Marshall got 50 to life.

RUSSO ET AL IN HOPLAND: You don't have to go to a faraway conference to hear Drs. Ethan Russo, Michelle Sexton, Greg Gerdeman and other experts discussing terpenes —the compounds in cannabis that provide aroma and various medical benefits. They'll be at the  "Terpestival" in  Hopland Sunday, July 23,  a benefit for a think tank called The Center for the Study of Cannabis and Social Policy, sponsored by Emerald Pharms dispensary, which is on the grounds of Real Goods on Hwy 101. Tickets are $30. The program runs from 11:15 a.m. to 5:45 p.m.  The press release says, "Cannabis pairings inside Emerald Pharms all day." (— Fred Gardner)

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