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Off the Record (Nov. 9, 2016)

THAT GRANT of $105k to Fort Bragg’s burgeoning Hospitality Center on last Tuesday’s Supe’s consent calendar means it wasn’t even brought up for discussion. The $105k provides undefined homeless “services.” Grants, of course, are gifts of public money and, as in this case, typically require evaluations as to the effectiveness of the grant so vague no accountability whatsoever is involved.

MENDOCINO COUNTY’S grant-gobbling community feasts on the social misery worsened by people like themselves at all levels of government. Our local doers-of-good can’t even bring themselves to candidly discuss homelessness in realistic terms, let alone do anything about it beyond pretending to be addressing it. So, what we have is a floating, transient population of drug and alcohol dependent people, supplemented by the mentally disordered, who are permanently unsheltered because, in most cases, their behavior makes them un-shelterable. This ever-larger population of the walking wounded is sustained in states of permanent, unhoused disability by a well-paid apparatus of Hillary voters, er, “helping professionals.”

ODD, wasn’t it, that homelessness wasn’t even mentioned by either presidential candidate although it afflicts every area of the country? (Nothing else was addressed, either, although Wolf Blitzer, seated in CNN’s Situation Room, seemed awfully excited. He swiveled from crisis to crisis, as blonde babes in tight clothing occasionally slipped him memos about the latest week-old news. With Hillary at the helm of the US Sinking Ship, the non-profit apparatchiks will get another four years on the dole as homelessness gets worse by the day. With Trump? Who knows? But people who spend their lives being ferried from one posh locale to the next in long black limos are unlikely to be much concerned, not even rhetorically. Homelessness, and all it entails, needs a federal solution, and I’d say that federal solution would have to be pegged to the national restoration of a state hospital system. But, hey, with a president who sells arms to Arab dictatorships in return for donations to her husband’s phony foundation, we’re not talking about anything much in the way of change, are we?

I SHOULD probably insert here our periodic mantra: Persons unable or unwilling to care for themselves should not, cannot, be permitted to live on the streets or, in this area, in the bushes or under overpasses or along the Russian River or along the Skunk Train tracks. A lightly populated county like ours should dismantle all its non-profits that allegedly help the homeless but, objectively, increase their misery, and re-direct the money to an in-County facility, a benignly administered farm in the case of the dope and booze cripples, the Sheriff’s mental health center in the case of crazy people. San Francisco and Oakland could do the same thing but won’t, because every time any suggestion about what to do with the homeless involves even so much as hints at compulsion, the libs come running with a lot of hysteria about their “rights,” while the people running the homeless programs, and there’s at least a couple hundred of these programs in San Francisco and hundreds of paid staffers, scream that the homeless are being persecuted. As if.

AS IF HILLARY will immediately launch a genuinely low cost housing program. As if the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors would even dare ask if the City of Fort Bragg, and its Sister City at Hospitality House, has a long-term homeless strategy, or ask if all the grant money being thrown at Hospitality House is getting people housed and more or less functional again, or if Fort Bragg and Hospitality House will regularly report back on their homeless “success rate” and how they define success.

SPEAKING OF THE HOMELESS, there was a long Supe’s discussion about allowing second units of housing on developed parcels. (This subject has been tossed around for at least three decades) Much of the second unit gabfest had to do with the difficulties of building second units in the coastal zone — which added exactly zero to the discussion that we didn’t already know. We know that it’s an ok idea in cases where it’s an ok idea. We also know that second unit housing is not aimed at housing the homeless. Much of need for housing comes from employed people presently being gouged by, well, people likely to build second units. The Board didn’t say much other than to put it off for a few more months. No vote taken. No decisions made. No instructions given. No date set.

THREE DEPUTIES & A TASER…On October 28, 2016 at 8:22 PM Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to a disturbance at a residence located in the 600 block of Meadow Wood Lane in Willits. Upon arrival Deputies contacted Thomas Woodhouse, 64, of Willits, who had exited the front of the residence and remained outside while verbally expressing his displeasure of the Deputies presence. While engaging Woodhouse in conversation, the Deputies witnessed him push his wife, 63, also of Willits, resulting in the Deputies making a decision to arrest him for misdemeanor domestic violence battery. As two Deputies walked towards Woodhouse he assumed a fighting stance and a struggle ensued as Deputies attempted to place Woodhouse into handcuffs. Woodhouse was able to flee into the inside of the residence where an additional struggle with three Deputies took place resulting in a Deputy deploying a TASER device in an attempt to end the struggle without further violence. The TASER device was ineffective and after a short time Woodhouse was eventually physically controlled by the Deputies and placed into handcuffs. Woodhouse was transported to the Mendocino County Jail where he was subsequently released prior to booking because of a medical condition not sustained as a result of the struggle with the Deputies during the arrest. (Sheriff’s Department press release)

IT SEEMS CLEAR that Third District supervisor Tom Woodhouse is finished. (He’s presently housed at a lock-up facility in Sacramento.) The next step is an acknowledgement from the Woodhouse camp that his mental illness is too severe to permit his return. The governor would then appoint his successor, which, by rights, ought to be Holly Madrigal, who ran against Woodhouse and only narrowly lost to him. The guv being a Democrat, and Holly being a sister and a Demo in good standing with main-body Mendolib, the job is probably hers for the taking.

HELEN MICHAEL DEMURS: “Correct me if I’m wrong, but it is my understanding that the governor would appoint a replacement for a vacancy on the board, but I believe it can’t be anyone who ran for the office and was defeated. If that is true then Holly Madrigal is ineligible to be appointed to replace Tom Woodhouse. I may be an optimist, but I would hope Tom will be able to complete his term and a replacement won’t be needed. At any rate, I do hope Tom is doing better soon, whether he returns to the board or chooses not to. I wish him well.”

RESEARCH REVEALS that the Governor appoints a replacement if there is a vacancy, but the qualifications for an appointee are the same as they are for a candidate. And they are pretty basic: the appointee must be a citizen who is at least 18 years old and registered to vote in the district. There is nothing to stop the Governor from appointing someone who has run for the office and lost, but that is one of many factors that can be taken into consideration. The closest thing there is to a litmus test is the unwritten rule that the appointee will be from the same political party as the Governor - in this case a Democrat. The Governor's appointments people usually pay close attention to the recommendation of the local Dems, especially if they have a consensus candidate. But before the Governor can appoint there needs to be a vacancy and right now there is not a vacancy. Woodhouse has not resigned. Even if he wanted to resign, he might not be competent to do so. And a recall would take months plus an election. And even if a vacancy occurs, the appointment process can take months. Which goes to say, nobody should be holding their breath waiting for Woodhouse matter to resolve itself.

RECOMMENDED READING: Custer's Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America by T.J. Stiles. Definitely a can't-put-down book about a fascinating figure at a fascinating time in American history when the country was part Wild West, part neo-industrial. I've read several books on Custer, none as comprehensive as this one, and none as myth-busting. A prevalent view can be boiled down to "He was kinda effete and he screwed up bad at Little Big Horn. Effete persons don't lead cavalry charges where the fighting is with swords and hand-to-hand, which Custer did repeatedly during the Civil War. This is the first Custer book I've read that gives the reader a comprehensive picture of American life, 1850-1870 as experienced by a young military family. The author also gives the Indians, led by Sitting Bull as eminence grise, and Crazy Horse, field tactician, full credit for winning the famous battle more than Custer lost it, and Custer might not have lost it if he'd been reinforced by his reserve forces in a timely manner, one of them led by a man who hated him, the other by a drunk.

A REVIEW of another Custer book includes this typical writing about the man: “Even as a young officer, Custer cultivated a flamboyant public persona. He fought at Gettysburg in a black velvet uniform (of his own design) embroidered with gaudy gold lace coils. After the war, when he turned his energies to fighting Indians on the Great Plains, he outfitted himself in fringed white buckskin and wore his hair long. He was a gambler, a probable adulterer, a braggart, a petulant boss and an impulsive blabbermouth. His eccentricity tilted toward stupidity. He once divided up his regiment according to color. Horse color. As you might expect, he wasn’t especially beloved by the troops. ‘I had known General Custer … for a long time,’ one of his officers once testified, ‘and I had no confidence in his ability as a soldier’.”

STILES points out that Custer color-coded his cavalry horses to help distinguish his Civil War troops from the enemy in the dusty swirl of close-up combat, and he was hardly the first flamboyant military officer we’ve seen. Custer always knew what he was doing except for, maybe, his last campaign.

IT’S A GREAT book, as are Stilies’ other two biographies, one on Jesse James and one called The First Tycoon, on Cornelius Vanderbilt.

THE BOHEMIAN, a free weekly out of Sonoma County, should win a special Weasel Lipped Prose award (with Nuzzlebum Cluster) for this passage in the paper's election issue: "As this paper offers its inevitable if intensely wary endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president, let's remember that it will take a village to find the teachable moment when the election passes and parents no longer fret about what the orange creep might say on TV." I count 9 death penalty provocations here, including five in this passage alone: “As this paper offers its inevitable if intensely wary endorsement of Hillary Clinton…”

ALSO in this week's Bohemian is an advertisement for Adi Da, Supervisor Hamburg's guru. The Bohemian ad features a portrait of Mr. Da which, small as it is, still managed to creep me out. He looks like the last cannibal at a remote plane wreck, and that's even before you get to the pitch for the event itself: "…This session will give insight into how the relationship to an Enlightened Adept-Realizer works and how it serves one's own Realization.” Woodhouse is not the only nut sitting as Supervisor.

THE SINKYONE TRAIL, a reader writes: "I read your old Sinkyone trail hike article in the Oct. 19 AVA. Did you know Jere Melo laid out the trail purposely to be really hard to manage? He was P.O.’d about the whole Sinkyone “baloney” and cackled at the thought of how hard it would be for softies (i.e., non loggers) to hike what he laid out. He was extremely agile, extremely strong, and had endurance like you couldn’t believe! And he laid out the most difficult trail he could. 'Take that' was his attitude. (Just FYI. I was there then.)"

MELO did it right. The trail’s up and down the whole way and, in some spots where the rain has cleansed the way, you have to scramble up hill. Beautiful, though, and worth the effort. I'd like to do it again some time before I turn up my toes, but I'd stay out three, maybe four nights and take my time. I haven't been out to the Usal end of the trail since, but there were some bad hombres and hombre-ettes at Usual that time, and it all looked un-maintained for an alleged state park, with trash all over and a prevalent End of the World vibe. But it's beautiful. Odd that so many people anymore think nothing of trashing a place like Usal. I think of the vandals as true atheists, with no sense that they're defiling miracles. It's a good thing Melo made the hike so tough, otherwise the dopeheads and drunks would have ruined it all the way to Petrolia. And thank the goddess the Winnebago people can't get out to Usal! They'd finish it off.

A COUPLE OF EARTHQUAKES a few miles west of Laytonville have registered high enough on the Richter Scale to remind me to remind you to read the definitive earthquake book called "A Dangerous Place: California's Unsettling Fate" by the late Mark Reisner, whom some of you will recognize from his better known, and also prescient book, "Cadillac Desert."

NOTE the phrase "unsettling fate," especially "fate." The Big One will be unsettling physically and psychologically, and the Big One is, inescapably, our "fate." Which is likely to be unhappy in the extreme, given our population density, mostly un-reinforced architecture, CalTrans highway system, the limitations of emergency services, and the general unheeding build-up in an area where major quakes are inevitable. "A Dangerous Place" describes all this and then presents a fascinating scenario of what is likely to happen in any quake that registers over 6, and, in detail, what is likely to happen when we get one equivalent in intensity to '06. Reisner, who died prematurely at age 51, points out that if big quakes occur with the frequency they did in the 19th century, major population centers like San Francisco could become uninhabitable. Reisner is a clear writer who never descends into un-understandable science-speak.

ANOTHER BOOK I repeatedly urge upon you — why don't you people listen to me? Why? — is "Gold: Being the Marvelous History of General John Augustus Sutter." Sutter's history sure as hell is marvelous, and "Gold" is, by far, the best book on California before the Gold Rush. Most of us know, vaguely, about Sutter's Fort in Sacramento, but what remains of it today is a shadow of its grand design and functioning from 1840 until it was overrun by the 19th century equivalent of the homeless, post Gold Rush. Considering that Sutter had a virtual Fort Knox in gold on his own property, how he wound up a pauper is an instructive saga of what happens when civil authority breaks down. Of course Sutter was the civil authority in the Sacramento Valley when the "world rushed in" to dispossess him, as it turned out. Prior to his downfall, Sutter's Fort was the government for much of Northern California, although he was a Swiss national on the lam from creditors and wives in the old country. Sutter's Fort was its own Swiss canton, complete with its own police force of the biggest Indians Sutter could find, outfitted in Russian uniforms he bought when the Russians pulled out of Fort Ross. (He also bought herds of cattle and huge redwood beams he hauled directly east over Indian trails to Sacramento. So much early California history is so dull and badly written, that it took another furriner, Cendars, to tell us what our state was like before California became a state. "Gold" is the book you want if you have any interest at all in the place you live.

EXPECTING THE EXPECTORATOR: Thessalonian Love, is the would-be pimp arrested when he appeared in Point Arena to try to make a prostitute out of a vulnerable 15-year-old Point Arena maiden. Love was brought to court Thursday after a long absence, his attorney, Jan Cole-Wilson, having fallen ill, and also because Love has become something of a nuisance to transport, spitting on officers of the court and generally acting like a big baby.

LOVE spat on his lawyer, Cole-Wilson, last time he was in court and there have been reports that he has hocked them up on other unsuspecting people. Ms. Cole-Wilson has not forsaken her client for his questionable social graces. She’s been in the hospital for going on two months now for treatment for medical issues unrelated to Love’s attack on her. Love is now represented by Patrick Pekin, recently in the news as a candidate for judge.

IN ANTICIPATION of Love’s appearance in her courtroom, Judge Ann Moorman cleared all court officers and spectators out of spitting range — including District Attorney David Eyster — who had to be ordered to get up and move. (Eyster may have intended to spit back, but that’s just speculation on our part.)

THE APPOINTMENT of Mr. Pekin only took a moment, then the famous man, who did not appear agitated or otherwise in spitting mode, was taken back to his cell. Pekin asked for ten days to acquaint himself with numerous charges his new client has accumulated since his arrest, and a hearing was set for November 17th. (— Bruce McEwen reporting)


A READER WRITES: "Kudos for exposing the false claims that Measure AF was written for the small farmer. By connecting the dots between the Tommy Chong endorsement video, Chris Halmo and his big time ad agency, the marijuana holding company, the venture capital attorney, the growers promoting AF, and the wine guys, you make it very clear that AF is about the big fish getting bigger.” (Off The Record, Nov. 2, 2016)

THE TOMMY CHONG endorsement is hilarious! But how stoned do they have to be to think it will convince anyone to vote for AF? But it is funny! Which is why I watched it several times in a row. And I finally realized that Chris Halmo and Tom Rodriguez (the wine guys) are also in the video! We already know Halmo is representing the local farmers. Now we see him and Rodriguez standing in a marijuana garden with Swami. I wonder if anyone in the AF camp realizes they just gave it away that Swami, Tim Blake and company wrote AF so they could go big? And the way they plan to go big is to partner with wine guys like Rodriguez and Halmo. Because the wine guys have the land and the water. And Halmo will promo the Swami Select brand at the same time he is promoting the Chong's Choice Herbalizer.

THE TOM RODRIGUEZ in the video is also the same guy that signed the ballot argument in favor of Measure AF. And he also had a letter in the AVA headlined ‘A Grape Farmer For Pot.’ The letter is almost as funny as the Chong video. Rodrigues says there are 68 counties in Cali when the real number (as any school child knows) is 58. But Rodrigues likes to go big on his numbers. He says there are over 10,000 cannabis farmers in Mendoland; that 70% of the local economy is from cannabis; that 80% of all the cannabis consumed in the United States is from northern California. Then he goes into a detailed explanation of the value of premium wine grapes (2$ per pound) and marijuana ($1,000-2,000 per pound). If AF passes on Nov. 8, Rodriguez will be yanking out the pinot vines on Nov. 9! And Tim Blake and Swami will be helping him!

LEADERSHIP MENDOCINO hosted a structured debate on Measure AF between yes on AF campaign manager Sarah Bodnar and No on AF committee member Hal Wagenet. Ms. Bodnar is a participant in this year’s Leadership Mendocino class, which, all things being equal, ought to have given her an edge with her classmates. But Measure AF is so fatally flawed that at the end of the debate the class participants voted 17-9 against Measure AF. Which means the only groups endorsing Measure AF are made up of marijuana growers. And even pot growers are increasingly aware that AF was not written to protect the small farmer.

MEASURE AF, the so-called Heritage Initiative, was written by an in group of marijuana growers who are hoping to model expansion of the pot economy after the wine industry. And the pot growers have already formed alliances with some of the wine guys to do exactly that. The big time pot growers who wrote AF aspire to be on equal footing with the wine guys. And some of the wine guys are obviously ready to replace an acre of grapes with an acre of pot. In place of the grape monoculture that increasingly dominates the Anderson Valley, if AF passes there will be a shift toward the dual intoxicant industry of weed and wine. More oak woodlands will be bulldozed in favor of a string of wine and bud tasting rooms from Yorkville to Navarro.

MEASURE AF looks to be going down decisively based on informal assessments leading up to Tuesday election deadline. Which means Swami and Tim Blake seriously miscalculated. Instead of free reign for the pot industry, the eco groups opposing Measure AF are calling for the County to adopt a grading ordinance and protections for oak woodlands. And if stronger environmental regs can be applied to pot, why not wine? The alliance between weed and wine, instead of creating a pass for pot farmers, may have the unintended consequence of stronger regs for the local wine industry.

A READER WRITES: THE WILLITS BYPASS IS ON! “Well, sure the bypass ceremony was interesting, but no protest or anything unanticipated, as far as I could tell, except apparently a much larger crowd than expected. Word from CHP was over 1,000 — they had a big parking lot that got all full, and then they were directing people to back in and park sideways on the shoulder; that line of parked cars went back at least a mile. Somebody on Facebook (FB) said they’d walked 1.5 miles to the ceremony. I saw on FB that (former Sheriff) Jim Tuso said he’d tried to get there too late, so he’d given up and turned around and left. Sheriff Allman guessed over 500 on his FB post, but made it clear he was just guessing.

“WE SAW a young man who’d been involved in bypass protests walking south on highway 101 when we were driving up to go to the opening ceremony, and figured something might be brewing but talking to him later, he stood there at the turnoff for the event — probably alone — no sign — as a “symbolic protest” — letting his long hair serve (my interpretation) as his “environmentalist” badge.

“ALTHOUGH I am happy to report that John Pinches was there in the crowd, not as a “dignitary” — although he was praised by several who did speak (as he was during bypass supper on Saturday with a woman he introduced as his wife.

“LOTS OF IT was re: dedication of the aqueduct to Jesse Pittman, and much of that very moving. Brought tears to my eyes more than once. Despite the militarism.

Pittman family was there, his brother spoke very movingly, some other Navy seals, some other Gold Star families were present, and brought up for round of applause; a couple of Pittman’s Navy Seal superiors spoke, one says when people tell him “Thank you for his service,” he replies: “Thank you for paying your taxes” — a good line! Did you know CalFire had a pipes & drum band as part of an Honor Guard? They were beautiful — five or six guys in kilts and sporrans marching in, with Honor Guard in uniform. Doing the Placement of the Colors, then marching out at the end of the ceremony.

“BETSY TOTTEN, Caltrans PR person from HQ, told a story about how she’d asked Ida Pittman, Jesse’s mother, what his favorite song was so they might play it at the ceremony, but since, she said, such song was an AC/DC song about a highway… she didn’t name it — they’d decided not to play it. That’s AC/DC’s “Highway To Hell.” Crowd chuckled as it did for a couple different mentions along the lines that “People used to say the Cubs would win the World Series before the Willits bypass opened — and they did!”

“THE CEREMONY was a good hour and 20 minutes, maybe even 30 minutes. A number of California Transportation Commission board members (including chairman) came. Did not speak. Lots of agencies, lots of law enforcement. Not in SWAT though, at least not anywhere visible by attendees. CHP bicycle patrol! Somebody said they are probably CHP bike patrol from the Golden Gate Bridge.

“I THOUGHT I’d seen bike patrol with City of Ukiah uniforms, too, but couldn’t swear to it. Fire engines reportedly parked at north end; I expect as much to provide “security” to block off access as much as anything else. As they had said when they first announced date, Caltrans was still saying at the ceremony that the bypass “will be actually open later today, this evening or tomorrow” not giving an exact time, and claiming there was still some striping to do, but somebody overheard flaggers, who were aware it was actually planned to open at 3 pm. Surely, again, vagueness was because they didn’t want people to plan any protest. It did open apparently around 3 pm.

“SIGNAGE is still not quite all there, they need more signs for Willits — and more speed limit signs on the aqueduct! One small sign southbound for “55 mph,” and I was tailgated going 58; I didn’t see a speed limit sign at all going into the aqueduct going north (maybe I missed it) and the big rig in front of us was certainly tailgated, too. And traffic really should be “55” not “65” on that narrow aqueduct with no center divider. Probably should be 45. Fair amount of traffic Friday evening as it was getting dark: A good chunk of it might’ve been townsfolk driving up and down to check it out…”

DENNIS BOAZ is the former Ukiah teacher's union negotiator who was charged with racism in 2009 by then-Mendo superintendent of schools Tichinin when Boaz described the district’s teacher's pay proposals as “niggardly.”

AT THE TIME, it seemed to us that Boaz had used “niggardly” intentionally to see if he could get a rise out of the Ukiah area's dim school administrators, but in his memoir Boaz insists that the use of the term had no such intent. He insisted he'd merely deployed the word in an internal note on the assumption it described the inadequate offer from the Ukiah administration.

THE UKIAH superintendent of schools at the time, Dr. Lois Nash, was black, and perhaps best remembered for her hasty weekly commutes to Ukiah from her home in Los Angeles, calling into question her commitment to Ukiah and the struggling town’s young scholars. Ukiah’s educators and (of course) the intellectuals at the County Office of Education's Talmage bunker, inevitably accused Boaz of racism. Just as predictably, the rest of the County's school administrators, along with their apparently illiterate attorney, signed off on County superintendent's Tichinin's indignant denunciation of Boaz as a racist, thus kicking off an hilarious interlude confirming suspicions that Mendocino County's children were spending their K-12 classroom years overseen by people who can’t read.

BOAZ, an attorney, has been involved in many high profile national cases, most notably the Gary Gilmore and Dr. Kevorkian matters. Boaz has just published a book that looks back on a long and interesting career that often placed him close to famous personalities.

HIS BOOK is called “Seven Rights for Citizen Slackers.” Much of it revolves around never-before released information, anecdotes, and writings regarding the famous murder trial of Gary Gilmore, who was depicted in Norman Mailer's 1979 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and the 1982 made-for-TV film starring Tommy-Lee Jones as Gilmore. As you're likely aware, the trial took place in Provo in 1976. Boaz, 77, played himself in the movie. His client, Gilmore, successfully fought to be executed without appeal by firing squad. It was the first execution in the United States in more than ten years.

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