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Off the Record (Nov. 23, 2016)

A READER WRITES: “I am in a flurry of reading, trying to understand my fellow 'mericans and what has precipitated The Donald. I know you are busy, and I know you loathe Hillary, as do millions of people. What I don't understand is the real reasons why. For me, she was boring on many levels, insincere, and I am sick of the Clintons in general, like I was sick of the Bush family. I've read about Hillary, but I honestly do not understand what she did these past decades that make people hate her so much. Can you direct me to some easy-to-read and understand writing? I ask you because you did write that you would rather cut off your nuts with a rusted kitchen knife than cast a vote for Hillary. So, uh, I think there's a bit of passion in that statement. Thanks.”

WELL, HEH-HEH. I agree that was a rather violent metaphor, but as I recall I said it in an in-house communication, not that I disavow it. I don’t “hate” the old girl, but I deeply resent her hypocrisy, all that blather about children and families as she and Bill went about making it ever more painful for the children and families who live outside the long black limo community she represents. And I think they represent every thing gone terribly wrong with our crumbling country. Remember her description of black children as “super predators” as the Clintons went about “ending welfare as we know it,” thus making life a lot harder for struggling families, working families, to support themselves? And they thoroughly screwed up health care, as did Obama, depriving millions of children of adequate care. Then, of course, there was the appalling Madeline Albright blandly asserting on 60 Minutes that the deaths of half a million Iraqi children via Clinton admin sanctions were necessary to force Saddam Hussein out of power. Which the sanctions did not do. And there’s Hillary’s weaponized voice, especially when she’s faking enthusiasm. It sounds like the warm-up announcement for the end of days. Elizabeth Warren can yell without making it feel like a fist in the face. CounterPunch has a ton of stuff on Hil. I’m happy she lost, not that I’m happy Orange Man won. Either way, America was certain to be screwed. PS. Donations to the Clinton Foundation have fallen to none. Will the Hillary’s snivelers still claim it wasn’t the pay-to-play operation it so obviously was?

MAYOR TURNER and councilman Lindy Peters are looking into the where and whatfors of declaring Fort Bragg a “sanctuary city,” apparently on the assumption that Trump will carry out his promise to deport undocumented criminals. Note to the Mayor: Obama’s deported more undocumented people in the last four years than Bush did in eight years, and Obama scooped up a lot of decent, hardworking people who were not criminals. I know two guys right here in Boonville who have been deported several times each, and they’ve made their way back no problemo, and both are now legal. All this bluster about walls and deportations is only that — bluster. Criminals, of course, should be deported. Fort Bragg has a gaggle of gang punks who should have been given the heave-ho years ago.

UKIAH DEMO: A Reader Writes: Note sign, and tee shirt. Are we unclear on the concept or is it a case of "I want to be a career politician when I grow up!"


TRUMP'S ELECTION was bound to have major repercussions given his inflammatory pre-election remarks, not to mention revelations of his boorish behavior towards a series of women. And the people he has in mind to run government for him are an undistinguished collection of dummies and thugs certain to inspire large-scale national resistance. It's as if the wahoos who used to gather at that Ukiah pizza parlor to listen to Rush Limbaugh — "the dirigible of drivel," in Alexander Cockburn's memorable description — were suddenly appointed to make federal policy.

REACTIONS in Mendocino County include preliminary discussions in different areas of the County about establishing sanctuary set-asides for persons in danger of deportation. There have also been student demonstrations, the most aggressive one in Ukiah where students, their rhetoric finely honed by Ukiah’s faculty, chanted" Fuck Trump" and waved Mexican flags. A small group of those students also rushed onto State Street at the County Courthouse to menace a male driver who'd given the demonstrators the finger. The Ukiah Police Department herded those students back onto the sidewalk. If a Trump gathering had been nearby….

YOU CAN FEEL the Weimar vibe out there. Couple a nutball government to the economic crisis up ahead and here we go. It's already started in the cities.

THE UKIAH DEMO invites counter-attack, although in this County the rightwing has always been much less violent than people on the left, a lot less violent than some people on the left have been who, back in the day, monkeywrenched logging equipment and engaged in verbal provocations they got away with because most people simply regarded them as they were (and are) — mentally ill, but not quite crazy enough for an institution. And their awful personal behavior made them irrelevant to the political life of this place. Fortunately, the younger generation of more or less left local "activists" is much more appealing.

BUT THERE'S also a new generation of political young people out there who are influenced by the hard right. So far, they don't seem to have a local leader or organization they can relate to, but you see the bolder ones around brandishing Confederate flags. One kid I've tried to de-program in Boonville is beyond de-programming. He recites stuff, chapter and verse, from "Aryan" and neo-nazi websites without knowing who's talking to him. Smart guy, too, not the kind of kid you want on the other side. Frightening thing is, fascism resonates with him, and you can see why: he’s poor, no skills, no prospects. Congressman Huffman is right to be alarmed at the Confederate flags he saw in Sonoma County during Veteran's Day memorials. And he only saw the boldest young ones. There are armies of them out there.

AS A MATTER OF COURSE, unless the policy has suddenly reversed itself, Mendocino County has always alerted the INS to illegals convicted of serious crimes. We doubt anyone would complain about a continuation of bad boy deportations, but lots of people would object to a federal demand that local cops round up people the feds might claim are here illegally and who have committed misdemeanor offenses. In any case, local cops, I don't think, are duty bound to carry out a federal directive of this sort. I don't think.

THE ECONOMY of Mendocino County runs on immigrant labor, especially the wine economy. Gang mopes are one thing, a son of the soil who racks up a DUI is another. The latter shouldn’t be deported or scapegoated. DA Eyster clarifies immigration policy in Mendocino County:

Here's my understanding. All fingerprints taken at the jail are shared with the FBI and other agencies, which means they eventually will find their way to ICE through some process. If ICE sees a "hit" of interest, ICE may attempt to lodge an immigration hold on the individual being held at the jail.

THERE’S THE RUB. The "detainers" that ICE attempts to lodge are currently not court-approved orders, so many of the local Sheriffs have declined to honor them for anything more than informational purposes. This attitude and treatment flows from a 2014 ruling in a federal court proceeding in Oregon. (See,

I BELIEVE that Sheriff Allman is one of the Sheriffs who does not approve of holding an illegal alien arrestee solely on the authority of an ICE hold because of the Oregon case. Once a county jail inmate who is an illegal alien has completed his or her stay at the county jail, ICE has the authority to be here on release day and take him or her into custody. Sometimes they do this; many times they don't.

IF AN ILLEGAL ALIEN is convicted of a serious or violent felony and not sent to state prison, I have been known to have my staff contact ICE and give them notice of the conviction and sentence. Sometimes ICE acts on this information; many times they don't. While I can't speak for the Sheriff, the DA's Office doesn't generally have the time nor the inclination to give the same attention to first-time and low-level misdemeanor offenders.

THE ICE hold system has been broken for several years now resulting in hit-and-miss enforcement. Will that change in January? Not sure. I've always been told that it is difficult to get an ocean liner to change its course on a dime.

FINALLY, the easiest way to avoid ICE concerns would be to not victimize others, not take things that to which one is not entitled, support one's family in a law-abiding manner, not do something that concludes with a law enforcement officer telling you to put your hands behind your back, not do something serious enough to have to go to jail for booking instead of being issued a citation, and not end up standing in front of a judge being sentenced to jail or prison for conduct deemed criminal by the California Legislature. Following these guidelines are simple for most; yet almost impossible for a certain percentage of those who live amongst us.


MURDER SUSPECT NABBED. Zachary Wuester, 24, of Haskell, New Jersey, a lead suspect in the pot robbery and violent murder of Laytonville pot grower Jeffrey Settler, turned himself in in Willits last Friday. No word yet on the status of the other alleged “trimmigrant” murder suspects — Amanda Wiest, Gary Blank III, Gary Lynn Fitzgerald or Frederick Gaestel. They are believed to be on the East Coast where they came from. Wuester is smart to turn himself in first. He’s now in a much better position to blame it all on the other mopes.

WRITING ON, Eric Italiano says he knows Zachary Wuester, the young “trimmigrant” arrested in Willits for the murder of Jeffrey Settler in Laytonville.

 “Wild story here, so settle in. A couple days ago, my buddy texts our group chat with a link. The link led us to an official press release from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, saying that a warrant had been issued for the arrest of Zachary Wuester. According to CBS, sheriff’s officials obtained an arrest warrant for the 24-year-old Haskell, New Jersey man, because detectives believe he is the main suspect in the killing of a California man, Jeffrey Settler. Now here’s the kicker: I know Zachary Wuester. Let me be clear: I KNOW him, he is NOT my friend. He is a hometown buddy of one of my college friends. We’ve met, had a couple cigarettes, and nothing beyond that. Last I heard of him, he had an addiction to Ketamine and had fled New Jersey after getting popped with a bunch of drug charges. Can’t legitimately confirm any of this, just what I’ve heard through the grapevine. Point being, this kid’s been on a downward spiral for a couple of years now, but I never thought it would end this tragically.

From a CBS news broadcast: ‘A San Francisco Bay Area man was found dead Thursday afternoon in Mendocino County and the county’s sheriff’s deputies are seeking five suspects who are at large. Deputies responded at 3:39 P.M. to a report of a man who had been allegedly killed on a remote property off North U.S. Highway 101 in Laytonville. Sheriff’s officials said deputies confirmed that a man had died in a violent assault and identified the man as 35-year-old Bethel Island resident Jeffrey Quinn Settler. Settler was allegedly growing marijuana for sale, which had nothing to do with medical uses, sheriff’s officials said. Deputies said the killing unfolded early Thursday morning when multiple suspects who Settler had hired as marijuana trimmers came to the property to rob Settler of some processed marijuana. Settler slept in the same structure where he stored the processed marijuana and the suspects knew this, according to sheriff’s officials. The suspects entered the structure and assaulted Settler so violently that he died.’

Wild shit, am I right? Welp, the story gets just a little more bizarre. Turns out, word spread through some online stoner forum, and now smokers across the country are coming out in droves to threaten him in the comment section of his Instagram.

So, yeah, overall a tragic, disgusting, weird story that will probably only get uglier and more bizarre.”

BRUCE McEWEN ADDS: Zachary Wuester, one of the trimmers who worked for the slain Laytonville grower Jeffery Settler, and arrested in Willits last night — he was arraigned first thing this morning before Judge David Nelson.

Mr. Wuester, of Haskell, New Jersey, stated that his parents were working on finding him a lawyer and the judge ordered him back on Monday at 9:00 a.m. for further arraignment on charges of first degree murder.

In California it need not be proved that Mr. Wuester himself murdered Settler, only that he was with those who did.

Mr. Wuester will be held on a no-bail status until further order of the court, and District Attorney David Eyster said new information would be forthcoming shortly on the apprehension of the other fugitives suspected of involvement in the case, the details of which, he said, he was not at liberty to divulge.

AS LOCAL ELECTION results remain pending, and Mendocino remains in national first place for the slowest returns for all of America, the Supervisors plowed through an agenda of relatively trivial matters, including approval of full conversion of their Talmage property to a university emphasizing philosophy and ethics.

(THE SUPES seem unconcerned that Mendocino County, along with historically backwards Lake County, can't get the vote counted in a timely manner. The Supes and the Elections Clerk, Susan Ranochak won't hire enough temps to help with the massive mail-in count, and won't restore the walk-in polling places that used to get most of Mendo counted by midnight, or at least by daybreak the day following an election. County Clerk Ranochak's recent appearance before the Supervisors was the usual opaque presentation typical of Mendo bureaucrats, with the Supes asking no questions as Ranochak walked off like her office was a veritable Swiss watch of civic functioning.)

BACK to the Buddhists. Their property is mostly the old state hospital established and maintained before America lost its way in the middle 1960s. Prior to the dismantling of state hospital systems, people unable or unwilling to care for themselves, along with drop-fall drunks and disabled dopers, were incarcerated in state hospitals until they got a grip on themselves. Mendocino County, with its usual keen sense of foresight, could have bought the Talmage property from the state for under a quarter mil, but turned it down because the then-Supes said they feared maintenance costs and, of course, couldn't figure out a paying use for the property.

THE BUDDHISTS scooped it up and have done what Mendo could have done as a site for Mendocino College — convert the beautiful premises to cash flow. But Mendo didn't, the Buddhists did, and soon The Great Wheel of Life will be churning out greenbacks as young people from all over the world ommmmmmm their days away at Talmage.

NEIGHBORS of the Buddhists, however, are unhappy with the expansion, but their complaints, when all wasn't said and much left undone, were ignored.

THE BUDDHISTS have also scooped up the old Albertinum property on the west side of Ukiah, leaving local Christian enterprise far, far behind.

WE ALL HOPE the announcement promised from the Woodhouse crew — hopefully in the next couple of days, but maybe not until the following week — is a resignation from the Board of Supervisors now that the poor guy has been declared in conservatorship.

BUT THE WOODHOUSE situation remains murky. What we thought was a conservatorship hearing was calendared as a "probate conservatorship,” not a mental health conservatorship which is a closed matter that has to be initiated by a doctor, not the family. (11/18/2016 E 9:01 AM CON. WOODHOUSE, THOMAS, PRBATE HRG - CONSVTR SCUK-CVPG-2016-267)

CONSERVATORSHIPS are public proceedings: the conservatee’s assets, income, and expenses become a matter of public record. However, California law requires that the petition for conservatorship include a form entitled "Confidential Supplemental Information." In this confidential document, petitioner lists the facts showing why the conservatorship is warranted (why the proposed conservatee is unable to properly provide for his or her personal care or substantially manage his or her own resources, among other things).

SUPERVISOR WOODHOUSE now appears to be on his way to being out of office following that expedited court hearing last Friday (it lasted about five minutes) in Judge Henderson’s court, but it could take a long time. His wife Carlyn was appointed Woodhouse’s conservator with the power to resign his office for him. A conservator is appointed when someone is deemed incapable of caring for themselves or their finances.

THE COURT ACTION was filed by Woodhouse's attorney Chris Neary on behalf of Mrs. Woodhouse. Neary, according to Adrian Baumann in the online Mendocino Voice, asked that the hearing be closed and Judge Richard Henderson immediately complied, which seems to be why the matter was filed as it was — to keep snoops, aka media, out in the hall. It’s obvious the matter was worked out in advance. (Neary and Peterson are old pals from way back and, this being Mendocino County, palsy-walsy-ism is often a factor in legal actions.) An attorney cannot serve two masters, so if the action was filed on behalf of Mrs. Woodhouse, who was representing poor old Woody? The hearing lasted about five minutes. Neary and Mrs. Woodhouse declined comment but Neary said a statement would be issued "sometime next week, probably Monday or Tuesday."

WOODHOUSE was not present nor was he represented by his own attorney which seems odd, especially considering that his wife was granted broad powers to act on his behalf. Mrs. Woodhouse, in addition to resigning Woodhouse from office, may also "file and prosecute any claims, actions, suits or other legal proceedings relating to the conservatee's employment and disability."

NEARY filed an affidavit that Woodhouse had been notified by a fax sent to him at a Sacramento mental health facility. Woodhouse is believed to have been hospitalized since October 28 when he was arrested on charges of domestic battery and resisting arrest. The hearing was held after only four days notice to Woodhouse, instead of the usual five. Neary filed a declaration claiming that the shorter notice was justified due to an "emergency." What was the nature of the emergency? Neary said he had been in contact with representatives of the County regarding Woodhouse's position on the Board of Supervisors. According to Neary, decisions needed to be made about Woodhouse's "current disability and his rights and claims relating thereto. A delay could result in actions against conservatee that would impair his rights and claims."

NEARY seems to be implying that someone, possibly the County, is poised to take action against Woodhouse. But the only action against Woodhouse that could be taken is one on behalf of his wife. County officials have made it clear that they are staying out of the issue.

IN RESPONSE to a question during public expression at a recent Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor John McCowen replied that he was not aware of any action the board could take or a role the Board had in the matter. County Counsel Kit Elliott agreed with McCowen. This makes it seem unlikely that the County intends to take action in this situation.

WOODHOUSE last attended a Board of Supervisors meeting on August 30 so the present situation has been going on for two and a half months now with no clear resolution in sight. A provision of state law allows for the removal from office of an official who does not conduct their duties for three consecutive months. But there is an exception for someone with a medical condition which Woodhouse clearly has. That makes it seems very unlikely that an additional day's notice to Supervisor Woodhouse would result in any adverse action against him. Instead, as a result of the hurry up court action, he could now find himself out of office without further notice should his wife so choose.

THE CONSERVATORSHIP is set to expire on December 2, but the hearing was continued to that same day at which time it could be extended. What's the hurry? Why does Mrs. Woodhouse need to be granted the power to resign her husband from his elected official position as Supervisor? Why not wait until December 2 and get a status report on how the Supervisor is doing? And how can such an important matter be decided without Woodhouse or his own legal representative being present? In child welfare and custody cases a six-month-old baby is represented by their own attorney with separate attorneys for each parent and an attorney for the County. But Supervisor Woodhouse is now in a position where he can be removed from office without having any say in the matter.

THE CONSENSUS OPINION of those who have had recent contact with Woodhouse is that he is incapable of functioning in the role of an elected county supervisor and he shows no sign of improving. Still, it seems he ought to be entitled to his day in court.

THE REAL EMERGENCY might be concern on the part of the family that Woodhouse will talk himself out of the facility where he's being held, something he has done at least once before.

PRESUMABLY, as long as she is the conservator, Mrs. Woodhouse may have the power to keep Woodhouse where he is involuntarily and see that he gets treatment.

DUE PROCESS ASIDE, it seems increasingly obvious that the supervisor is incapable of performing the duties of his office. Will Neary announce this or next week that Mrs. Woodhouse has submitted a letter of resignation on behalf of her husband? Resignation, if it occurs, would begin the process of appointing a replacement. Once that process begins it could take several more months for the governor to name a replacement. But that is probably the quickest path to restoring representation to the residents of the Third District.

DR. PETER KEEGAN and Elizabeth Crawford were married this weekend in Ukiah.


DR. KEEGAN remains the sole suspect in the death of his first wife of thirty years, Susan Keegan. The DA's Office, since the election of David Eyster, has spent much time and money investigating that death, all on the assumption that Mrs. Keegan was bludgeoned to death by Mr. Keegan.

A COMPARISON of four meals, a recent study reveals, shows the challenges to low-income families trying to balance life, children, cooking and career. Homemade meals: a chili dish and turkey wrap cost $2.88 and $3.62 respectively, whereas taco truck fare totals $5.10 and a fast food salad and snack wrap cost $8.10. Participants in a recent study tried to live for one day using the CalFresh guidelines and a food diary to track all foods eaten and their respective costs.

USED TO BE that we had what were called "home economics" classes in all the nation's public schools. Young people, mostly women because the assumption was they'd be doing the cooking, learned how to prepare nutritious meals from scratch. Of course this was also before fast foods and before, mostly, women entered the workforce in large numbers. Given the national obesity achieved in large part by downing large portions of bad food, if young people could at least learn basic rice and beans, fruit and vegetables, they would be healthier and save a lot of cash, too.

NOT TO BE TOO REPETITIOUS about it, but it is more than passing odd that legal adjudication for the start-up newspaper, Willits Weekly, was not challenged by Digital First, the Denver-based corporation that owns the venerable The Willits News: the positively archaic Fort Bragg Advocate and Mendocino Beacon; and the Ukiah Daily Journal.

LEGAL ADJUDICATION is, basically, judicial recognition that a newspaper appears regularly in a specific area of circulation. Legal ads are worth a lot of money to any newspaper.

I'VE HAD TO SUE a few times when my enemies in local government placed Anderson Valley legals in distant papers, and the Supervisors have long placed legals with the local corporate papers that cost the taxpayers three times what those ads would cost in the family-owned publications of the County, the County that claims to do business locally as a matter of policy.

NOT TO WHINE too much more here, but if you think the libs who dominate local government don't use their authority and their tax-paid lawyers to penalize their critics, you must not live in Mendocino County.

ONE CASE I brought over this issue — the others I won in small claims— I won before a jury in Ukiah, lost on appeal. That one cost me a lot of credit card money that took me about five years to pay off, and it still pisses me off whenever I think about it.

BASICALLY, a panel of lib-twit appellate judges sitting in Frisco, all of them appointed to life sinecures, undid the Ukiah jury of my peers, a jury that took less than an hour to find unanimously that the County of Mendocino had used its authority and its free lawyers to retaliate against me.

THAT APPELLATE DECISION, by the way, would not pass a high school logic or composition class. (Whenever you get a ballot with long lists of appellate judges on it, vote NO on all of them.) As I'm sure lots of you have also found out the hard way, you can't sue government. They get free lawyers, you pay, and if you're a person of ordinary means like me, you're screwed.

WHEN SAN FRANCISCO had several daily newspapers, there were constant lawsuits over which one got the bulk of the legal ads. If the existing The Willits News has to share legals with the new paper in town, the Willits Weekly, The Willits News will take a big hit in its annual bottom line. And these outside media vultures are solely about the bottom line. Journalism is an afterthought, and not a welcome one on those rare occasion journalism occurs that upsets advertisers.


From the Marin Independent Journal:

[Mike] Arnold believes SMART is an expensive project that will not significantly improve traffic or carry the numbers of passengers SMART expects. But now that the train is leaving the station, it should not go farther south than San Rafael, he says. An environmental impact statement for the Larkspur extension projects a ridership of 131 people a day, he says — “$40 million for 131 riders on a concept."

“TO AN ECONOMIST like myself, that seems like a really bad buy. It’s a lot of money to be spent on something that is likely to generate more traffic congestion on Second and Third (streets in downtown San Rafael), potentially backing up cars onto Highway 101 during the congested peak hours. To the extent that they do that, they’re going to generate far more congestion than any riders that they’re ever going to take to near the Larkspur ferry.”

THE MAJOR NOTES: People tend to forget that the point of the Democratic Party’s “train” on the Northcoast has nothing to do with actual operation of a train. It’s actually a pretty SMART scam to funnel state transportation money at high interest rates to John Williams and his NorthWestern Pacific Company for track upgrades and reconstruction under the transparently false myth that there will somebody be a real train operating on those tracks moving people and/or goods. If the objective was to efficiently move people or goods they wouldn’t even be pretending to run the train over the current, now irrelevant, right of way. The longer they can postpone the operation (which would cost money, impose requirements on them and subject them to public scrutiny), the more money Williams and the Democrats (who get their own rake off of the CalTrans transpo-bucks) make while not having to do much of anything.

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