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Off the Record (Dec. 7, 2016)

SEE THEIR LETTER, but it seems clear that the mass resignation of the Board of the Small Farmers Association (SFA) is aimed at Julia Carrera, who lists herself on the SFA website as "SFA representative" (and third party inspector) and signs most of the postings. "The SFA started with Julia Carrera who was one of only three certified inspectors for the Mendocino County 9.31 Zip-tie program. For over two years Julia and 87 of her farmer clients met with each other, agriculture commissioners, organic certifiers, bio-dynamic certifiers, permaculture experts, and dispensary owners to create a Best Management Practices (BMPs)."

ACE RESEARCHER DEBORAH SILVA discovered the inevitable local angle to the terrible Oakland fires. Deborah reports: "Derick Ion, who managed the building where the fire occurred Friday night. Derick's true name is Derick Ion Almena. He's from the LA area but both he and his wife Micah Allison, lived in the Willits area on Shimmins Road about 10 years ago, according to the background checks I ran. It appears that Derick has a relative living in Ukiah, Edward Almena. Not sure how Edward is related. While he is old enough to have been a young father to Derick, it looks like Derick has an older brother and sister. They all have the same mother's maiden name and Edward would not be old enough to have fathered the brother and sister. The brother, Alexander, passed away in 2013. Edward might be a cousin or uncle. Almena is not a very common last name.

THE ONLY MARRIAGE RECORD I could find for Derick was before he was with Micah Allison. I did not find a marriage record for Derick and Micah but it doesn't mean they weren't married.

IT IS REPORTED that Derick is in hiding and no one is saying whether or not police have spoken to him. Just from what I've heard so far the guy deserves to be in prison for a very long time. The building owner should also be held to some degree of responsibility.

A READER WRITES: “Regarding ‘Who Poisoned My Grapes’ By Bob Dempel, after notifying the Sonoma County at Commissioner's office that a portion of his vineyard was damaged with a wind drift of glyphosate ( Roundup) and clopyralid, Mr. Dempel is finding out the system is against playing by the rules. The Ag Commissioner's office sent him a warning that he could be subjected to criminal prosecution or face civil penalties for selling produce that carries excessive pesticides and herbicides. My question is how is it that conventional farmers apply Roundup to their fields, such as oats and wheat, before harvest, as a drying agent, and they are not subjected to the same guidelines? I wonder if these farmers even care, it's all about profit. Enjoy your Cheerios and Ritz Crackers. Profit over health. Even closer to home, we all have heard of the " mite " infestation of many marijuana gardens. I mention this since we live near a grower that was seen wearing a hazmat suit with a respirator to treat his mite infested medicine. Does a systemic treatment make for good healthy smoke or just secure profit at the expense of a smokers health? Is it still medicine?”

BOONVILLE’S beloved weekly newspaper is now on sale at the Forks Ranch Market, Calpella whose deli has to be seen and tasted to be believed. It’s just super and reasonably priced, in the pleasant setting of an old fashioned, quality market.

ON THE AFTERNOON of Friday, November 11 Deputies were summoned to a rural parcel approximately five miles west of Highway 101 near Laytonville where Jeffrey Quinn Settler, 35, of Bethel Island, had been beaten to death. Settler had maintained a commercial marijuana growing operation on the property, police said.

MULTIPLE TRIMMERS, all males, who worked for Settler, had returned to the property in the middle of the night to steal processed marijuana. The thieves knew the marijuana was stored in the same structure where Settler slept.

THE THIEVES, having stabbed and bludgeoned Settler to death, fled the property in at least two vehicles with more than 100 pounds of processed marijuana. Mrs. Settler and the Settler's two small children were not harmed.

THE FOLLOWING are accounts of where the matter stands as of this week:

BRUCE McEWEN WRITES: Gary “Giggles” Fitzgerald of Roanoke, Illinois was arraigned before Judge John Behnke at 11:30 this morning (Tuesday). The judge said Mr. Fitzgerald was charged with murder in count one, along with a special allegation that the murder was committed in the commission of a robbery and that there was a second special allegation that a knife was used.

IN COUNT TWO, Fitzgerald was charged with first degree robbery and, in count three, first degree burglary with a special allegation that the building entered for larcenous purposes was an occupied residence.

JUDGE BEHNKE was about to appoint a lawyer for Fitzgerald when William Conwell, a Lake County lawyer, appeared to say he’d been retained by the defendant to represent him.

CONWELL asked that the matter be put over for further arraignment and an entry of plea on December 19th. This request was granted.

ANOTHER DEFENDANT in the case, Zachary Ryan Wuester, 24, of Haskell, New Jersey, was also in court. Both men, along with several other itinerant agricultural laborers (colloquially known as “trimigrants”) who remain at large, are suspected of murdering Laytonville pot farmer, Jeffery Settler, and robbing him of over 100 pounds of processed marijuana.

AMONG THE FUGITIVES until recently was Amanda Wiest, 26, of Fairfax, Virginia, traveling with her four-year-old daughter, and in dubious company, has been determined to have been a kidnap victim, not a participant in Settler's murder.

DEFENDANT WUESTER was given two more weeks to find a lawyer, as both he and Fitzgerald were ordered held on a no-bail status until their December 19th court date when a bail hearing was set to follow the entries of plea.

THE FIVE REMAINING AT-LARGE SUSPECTS are: Frederick ‘Freddy’ Gaestel, 27 year old white male, Clifton, New Jersey Gary Blank III, 34 year old white male, Elgin, Illinois Jesse Wells, 32 year old white male, Binghamton, New York Michael Kane, 25 year old white male, Pleasantville, New York “Richie” last name unknown, approx 25 year old black male, possibly from San Diego, California

GAESTAEL was one of 38 people arrested in 2009 as part of a marijuana drug bust in which 53,270 plants were seized, according to the East Bay Times.

WELLS, formerly listed as being from Ithaca, not Binghamtom, was arrested last year in York, New York state, with two other pot dealers, in possession of processed marijuana and several thousand dollars in cash.

WUESTER turned himself in in Willits last week. Fitzgerald turned himself in in Ukiah.

SINCE HE TURNED himself in, one might assume that Wuester is talking to authorities and naming names on the possible prospect of reduced charges. It will be interesting to see how many of these suspects end up plea bargaining and pleading to a lesser charge or if they take their cases to trial because they could all be witnesses in the others’ trials. Each will have his own lawyer and defense depending on the particulars of the murder.

MS. WEIST may also be called as a witness depending on who, if any, are charged with kidnapping her and her daughter.

Fitzgerald: Wanted photo (L), and booking photo (R)
Fitzgerald: Wanted photo (L), and booking photo (R)

THE AVAILABLE “be on the lookout” photos of the suspects are probably not how they look today given the difference between the original photo of Fitzgerald and his recent booking photo. He seems to have converted himself into a hipp-ish trimmer since the time his earlier photo was taken.

THE VICTIM, Jeffrey Settler, was the son of Greg and Debbie Settler of Laytonville. Settler leaves a wife and two children. His parents and his Laytonville family buried him in a ceremony at the Laytonville Cemetery last week, according to a facebook post.

THIS POST from MSP gave us a jolt because it could apply to the editorial suite here at the AVA: "Crab Boat Skipper Fires Crew for Inconsistent Sobriety."

"I just fired my crew for insubordination and inconsistent sobriety. I need two guys. I am on the crab now and am earning nicely. I would like to move north for the Bodega opener. 38 by 15 cloudburst with 8v71. 250 pot permit with 250 pots fishing now. She is barebones but is a moneymaker. I have year round opportunities for good workers. Full share possibilities. Home port is Humboldt but I will roam anywhere."

LONE TREE RIDGE as viewed from Breanne Burns’ house, Upper Peach land, Boonville. Note the small tree which, long after we're gone, will grow to replace the lone pine that once stood there. (Photo by Dennis Winchester)

THE SF CHRON hasn't hired an interesting columnist since Willie Brown, the ultimate middle of the road Democrat with no journalo-credentials. No diploma from a J-school is always a plus, or at least can be, if the person can write, but lively prose in a newspaper anymore is rare-to-non-existent. But Brown, the ultimate insider, does do some interesting reporting, especially on The City.

PRESENTLY at the Chron, there's a whole staff of people writing about how gosh darn nice they are, and how correct their opinions are, and about all the fun they have with their pets. They read like the prose version of the Chuckle Buddies on TV's Live At Five.

NEVIUS, just retired, was always interesting and especially good on the homeless issue as a constant critic of the unworkable "programs" devised by San Francisco's plethora of well-funded but ineffective non-profits. (Imagine Mendocino County's Hospitality House and Plowshares times a thousand.)

AT LAST the Chron has made a good hire of a guy who can write and also has something to say — David Talbot. He's lived in the City for many years, knows it and its history as well as anybody since Herb Caen. Talbot's "Season of the Witch" ought to be required reading, especially for NorCal people who retreated north circa 1970. (Mendo's very own Tim Stoen, in relation to his work for the People's Temple, is featured prominently.)

TALBOT'S “Season of the Witch” was on The Chronicle’s bestseller list for four years, and his “The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA and the Rise of America’s Secret Government” was a New York Times bestseller. He also founded the online news site Salon. The Talbot hire means that the Chron is not quite dead — on life support, like all print papers — but breathing.

TALBOT'S BROTHER, Steve, also a fine writer, produced the definitive Mendo movie called "Who Bombed Judi Bari?" (Bari's ex did it.) The Bari Cult has always been terrified of Steve Talbot, so terrified the Cult produced their own hagiographic epic called, "Who Bombed Judi Bari?" Combine stupidity and shamelessness and what do you get? Darryl Cherney's "Who Bombed Judi Bari?" featuring himself with a few martyr-ish clips of Bari singing about her martyrdom. KPFA loved it, of course, but always ignored Talbot's film, which made it clear that the Bari bombing was really just a fancy case of domestic violence.


22 Days After The Election: The Mendo Results

WILL LEE won a Fort Bragg City Council seat (1,623 votes, 35.77%) with BERNIE NORVELL winning the second seat with 1,527 votes (33.66%).

MEASURE AG: THE SHERIFF'S direly needed Mental Health facility — lost by just 165 votes, probably thanks to the obfuscating opposition from Supervisor Hamburg. Sour grapes? Yep, sour and bitter, because it means no local facility for Mendocino County which must now ship mental health cases to distant facilities at huge cost to the taxpayers.

Measure AG:

YES: 24,190 (66.22%)

NO: 12,342 (33.78%)

Turnout: 38,730/51,035 75.9%

Total Votes: 36,532

Needed to win: 2/3 of 36,532 (total votes) = 24,355

Votes for: 24,190

Margin: 165 votes


MEASURE AF - MENDO HERITAGE (Dope Industry move to write their own rules)

Countywide Turnout: 38730/51035 75.9%

YES 13772 37.93%, NO 22534 62.07%


(2/3rds required)

YES 24190 66.22%, NO 12342 33.78%


Turnout: 76.8%

WILL LEE 1623 35.77%

BERNIE NORVELL 1527 33.66%

SCOTT MENZIES 971 21.40%


REX GRESSETT 170 3.75%




MADGE STRONG 749 18.35%(incumbent)


BRUCE BURTON 660 16.17%


KAYE HANDLEY 3136 22.76%

LUCAS W. CAMPOS 3721 27.00%

STEVEN LUND 4165 30.22%



TANYA SMART 2316 27.17%

KEVIN B. MILLER 3384 39.70%


* * *


Bruce Burton, long-time councilman and former mayor of Willits, got the fewest votes this year and is out. Incumbent Madge Strong will retain her seat, edging out Bill Barksdale by a mere 4 votes. The popular Gerry Gonzalez, outgoing Willits Police Chief, received many more votes than his opponents.

Incumbent (appointed) Jim Koogle is out in Point Arena, coming in third for two short-term seats.

Also in Point Arena, just one vote determined the outcome for the final long term seat between winner Jonathan Torrez and Jane Jarlsberg.

FORMER 5TH DISTRICT SUPERVISOR, Norman deVall, has sent us an alarming message: "Just got it confirmed that the Mendocino County Retirement Fund monthly distributions are $1,000,000 more than earnings."

WE THINK DE VALL is confusing contributions with earnings. Contributions are what is paid into the system by the plan participants, both the employer and the employees. These amounts are relatively stable and predictable from month to month. Earnings are the return on the investments and fluctuate constantly depending on how the stock and bond portfolio is doing. (Boffo, at the mo) In any given month the investments could be up or down by tens of millions of dollars. The plan is not designed to pay the retirement obligation solely from contributions but from a combination of contributions and return on the investment.

JUST BECAUSE the plan pays out $1 million more in any given month than it collects in contributions does not mean the plan is "losing" a million. To determine if that is true, you need to know the total assets of the plan and the monthly increase or decrease. In any given month the plan could be selling $1 million worth of assets to write retirement checks while at the same time it could be "earning" (or losing) millions of dollars in book value on the investment.

DE VALL, who probably gets his information from alarmist Republicans Dickerson and Stephens, has fallen into the trap of over-simplifying a complex equation. In short, the County retirement plan has a large unfunded liability but the day of reckoning is always 20 years down the road. Which means the current situation can continue until the final collapse of end-stage capitalism. Think Social Security. There is no "trust fund" and if the federal government had to fully fund the plan right now, the government would be bankrupt. Instead, the system can keep lurching along indefinitely with relatively minor tinkering. Sooner or later, natch, our financial system, the whole show, will collapse like the Ponzi souffle it has become.

A CLOSE OBSERVER of the County retirement system comments: "Again, there is nothing new here. Most of the comments regarding how the plan functions and the fact of a large unfunded liability are true. The county employees, like public employees almost everywhere, especially in California, have a very sweet deal that most private sector employees can only dream of. No one in the private sector expects to get a defined benefit plan with the employer taking 100% of the risk for any shortfall in plan performance. What is not true are intimations that the plan or the county are on the verge of collapse. Or that there is some simple fix available locally."

"REDUCING the assumed rate of return will increase the county contribution to the retirement plan by millions of dollars every year. Putting more money into the black hole of the retirement plan makes things look better on paper but reduces by an equal amount money needed for services today. The choice is to keep betting on the Wall Street Ponzi and watch the retirement debt increase, or steal millions more from services to put an expensive bandaid on a broken system. Yes, this is kicking the can down the road but the day of reckoning is always 15 or 20 years into the future. And in that time real reform may take place or the entire system may collapse. The alternative is to quit paving or maintaining the county road system today and for the next twenty years. Like always, Stephens is better at describing the problem than he is at providing a realistic solution."

"THE PLAN is basically locked in stone as a result of state and federal law and court rulings. The California Supreme Court is going to hear a case that may change that. An appellate court has ruled that employees are entitled to a "reasonable pension" but not to the highest possible pension imaginable based on past decisions. The appellate court recognized the right of a public employer to reset the benefit level for work not yet performed. If this is upheld by the State Supreme Court it could result in meaningful reform."

TRUMP has talked a lot about "draining the swamp" as he scours that swamp for his cabinet. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who would have beat Trump like a rabid dog if she'd been the Democrat's candidate, stated the obvious on Wednesday — that Trump was creating an administration “on bigotry and Wall Street insiders’ trickle-down economics.” Warren ripped Trump’s appointment of Stephen Mnuchin to lead the Treasury, a move by Orange Man that contradicts his campaign promise to “break the connection between Wall Street and this Congress,” accurately describing Mnuchin "as one of the people who helped do all of those lousy mortgages that not only broke the economy, but broke millions of families, a guy who turned around and bought a bank that then became infamous for how hard it squeezed families that had already been cheated. What Donald Trump is doing is he's literally handing the keys to the Treasury over to a Wall Street banker who helped cause the crash. Mnuchin, 53, is a former Goldman Sachs partner, hedge-fund manager, and Hollywood financier. He has said his top priorities would be to overhaul the federal tax code, roll back some financial regulations, and review trade agreements.

L'AFFAIRE WOODHOUSE is now entering its fourth month and seems no closer to resolution than ever following another court hearing Friday morning. The temporary conservatorship of the troubled Supervisor was extended until January, but his wife's power to resign his elected position on the Board of Supervisors was rescinded. Carlyn Woodhouse was granted a temporary conservatorship over her husband two weeks ago, including the power to resign his position as elected Supervisor. But that authority was reversed by Judge Henderson. Woodhouse last attended a Board of Supervisors meeting on August 30. He has been detained by the police three times since then and has spent the last month confined to a mental hospital in the Sacramento area.

CHRIS NEARY, the Willits-based Woodhouse family attorney, previously stated that the job of supervisor is responsible for supervisor Woodhouse’s mental condition. Neary said he was negotiating a settlement with the County as a condition of Woodhouse’s resignation. County CEO Carmel Angelo previously said there was nothing to negotiate. If Supervisor Woodhouse thinks he has a job-related medical condition he can apply for Workers Compensation or a disability retirement like any other County employee.

WILLITS SOURCES CONFIRM that Woodhouse has been released from Sacramento mental hospital and is now back in Willits. Woodhouse was not present for the Friday hearing. Neary is the Woodhouse family attorney who sought the conservatorship on the behalf of Mrs. Woodhouse who retains control over the Supervisor's finances and healthcare. Mrs. Woodhouse is also the alleged victim of a domestic assault that led to the supervisor’s recent arrest and confinement to the mental hospital. Cynics note that Neary and the family appear more interested in a financial settlement than in the mental and physical well being of Supervisor Woodhouse. With Woodhouse under a conservatorship, can he attend a Board of Supervisors meeting and vote on issues that come before them? With his wife relieved of the power to resign his office could Woodhouse resign on his own behalf? Logically, the answer would be no, since the Court has stripped Supervisor Woodhouse of the power to manage his own finances and healthcare. If he cannot write a check to pay the satellite TV bill, how can he be allowed to conduct County business involving complicated policy decisions and millions of dollars in expenditures?

STILL UNRESOLVED are the pending criminal charges for domestic assault and resisting arrest. An effort also appears to have been made to hush up the first two encounters with law enforcement, apparently in an effort to protect the Supervisor and what remains of his privacy. Written records of those encounters are either nonexistent or unavailable, but details have emerged, including that two deputies suffered bite wounds in the first encounter. The position of the District Attorney is unknown at this time, but an elegant solution would appear to be some sort of plea agreement contingent on the Supervisor getting the help he needs and quietly stepping down from the job he appears incapable of performing.

WORD TRICKLING BACK from the Mendocino Planning Department has it that the Planning Department has received lots of new marijuana related permit applications and a backlog is quickly building up. It’s not clear whether the recently passed county and state laws are behind the increase, but the Planning Department is understaffed and under-experienced these days (as are several other departments with roles in the pot permit business) and the County may be forced to look at creative ways to deal with the applications.

SHERIFF ALLMAN SUMS UP: "As the significance of the [Measure AG] loss sinks in, I am deeply concerned that 34% of our voters may not realize the crisis upon us. Our Mental health system needs infrastructure. The fact the we, Mendocino County, are outsourcing care is very concerning. As a taxpayer, it is ridiculous to me that we will continue to send millions of dollars to several other counties so they can treat our citizens.

Well, here is my response. Please read it, understand it and believe it. Our Mental Health Crisis is not going away, and neither am I. We certainly were able to draw attention to a possible solution. Over 4,500 good folks signed the petition to get it in the ballot. At this point, I’m anxious to see if anyone on the BOS understands that over 66% of the voters view our mental health situation as needing help (understatement of the year). I would like to say thanks to the thousands of people whom I have spoken with on this subject. To the detractors, I would love to hear your solution, and see you act towards getting it accomplished. It’s pretty damn easy to criticize, so let’s see you start doing something other than being critical. If you are not part of the solution, you are certainly part of the problem. Deputy Sheriffs should not have to be the de facto mental health technicians. It’s time the county understood that the mental health crisis is not going away without a viable solution. Enough politics, let’s see some action. Tom Allman, Sheriff.”

IT'S A CRIME against both the mentally ill and the people of Mendocino County that the Sheriff's initiative, Measure AG, failed by less than 166 votes as it garnered a remarkable 66 percent of the vote just shy of the two-thirds needed to pass. Sheriff Allman's singular effort on behalf of AG almost got us an in-county mental health facility, proving that Allman is the most popular lawman since Jeremiah 'Doc' Standley of the last part of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th.

THE POPULARITY of Measure AG was also an expression of frustration by most Mendocino County people at the numbers of untreated psychotics, many of them made worse by methamphetamine, roaming our vast precincts untreated, unrestrained. The Sheriff winds up housing them when they break the law, which is often because they don't know what they're doing, and the County Jail which, as he readily admits, is not a healthy berth for the insane or the temporarily insane.

PRESENTLY, and at any one time, Mendocino County is paying upwards of $800 a day per patient to house a dozen patients in distant mental health facilities. The repeated confinements of Supervisor Woodhouse, for example, and Supervisor Hamburg's troubled son, in out-of-county psychiatric centers, alone, have cost the County many thousands of dollars.

HAMBURG, incidentally, is an extreme example of Mendolib cronyism; he gets free private incarceration for his son because the Superior Court, via Judge Moorman, ruled that Hamburg, a wealthy man, was unable to pay any portion of his son's care, leaving the tab to the County of Mendocino. Most relatives of the mentally ill pay at least some of the costs of out-of-county mental health sequestration. Hamburg also arranged for his son to jump the line of mentally ill persons confined at the County Jail, arranging for the young man to enter a private facility ahead of a half-dozen less well-connected mentally ill inmates. Hamburg's ex-wife remains enrolled in the County's health plan although the couple is estranged, as the County is on the hook for the ex's medical care. And, of course, unlike other County employees, Hamburg attends all public meetings with his dog, an apparent comfort animal without which the Supervisor, perennially in precarious mental health himself, seems unable to function. Substitute 'Trump' for Hamburg in the above indictment and guess the next vote in the 5th District of Mendocino County.

I'M BETTING that narrow margin of loss for Measure AG came from the 5th District whose deluded voters keep Hamburg in office. Supervisor Hamburg's ally against Measure AG was a former mental health worker who had moved out of Mendocino County by election day. They were the only two people in the County publicly opposed to AG as the measure narrowly went down to defeat. Hamburg, other than some rambling statements during Supervisor's meetings, explained his opposition as "concerns" about the County's obligation to fully fund an in-County mental facility even after it was demonstrated to be eminently doable given the enormous outflow of County money under the present out-of-county placement costs that otherwise would apply to in-County treatment.

SO, here we are, Mendocino County, right where we started, with the untreated mentally ill on the streets or temporarily housed at the County Jail. Or, the most volatile cases, dispatched to distant lock-ups far from their families at great cost to local taxpayers.

THE OPTION? The Supervisors, including Lord Hamburg, should immediately pressure their privatized mental health contractor, Camille Schraeder of Redwood Quality Management Services, to fund and staff an in-County mental health facility along the lines proposed by the Sheriff.

AN UNRELIABLE MOVIE REVIEW: “Manchester By The Sea.” It held my feeble attentions, but it was slow moving, often very funny in its tragic context, carried along by really good acting, especially from the female leads. Parenthetical comment on the audience, mostly older. I've wondered about those pre-curtain movies that ask people to turn off their cell phones, and otherwise be courteous. I now know why they're necessary. The woman seated next to me wasn't rude exactly, but she laughed so hard at all the unfunny trailers, especially a painfully unfunny one featuring a dog, that I was tempted to move to a less annoying sector of the theater. But she calmed down for the main event although she laughed ostentatiously several times, but sat silently through the truly funny stuff. Braying your amusement so it can be heard down the street is, I guess, a major sign of major neediness but really, keep it to yourself. And she elbowed me a few times as she dove into her giant handbag to rummage around for negative food value items, eating her way through a two hour film. No "Excuse me's" either. Food anxieties? Feral childhood? She was 70 if she was a day so I knew she was formed in a time where basic manners were still taught in most homes, the same homes — sexism alert! — that taught girls not to talk through their noses or to talk like little girls when they were big girls. And not to laugh like a drunken man. These days, though, you hear women who make their livings talking on the radio and television who talk through their noses, or speak age-inappropriately. Back to the movie, which is about a guy destroyed by personal tragedy who is legally bound to caretake the teenage son of his late brother. The traumatized guy moves through life in a virtually catatonic state, sitting so silently in social situations that his stepson blurts out, "Can't you just make small talk about pointless bullshit for a half hour like everyone else in the adult world?" This is a good movie.

LAURIE YORK writes: “Victory! President Obama just denied the permit for the Dakota Pipeline. The Army Corp of Engineers will not allow the pipeline to be drilled under the Missouri River. A big thank you to the 4,000 veterans who showed up at Standing Rock in solidarity with the Native Americans. Will Trump reverse this action when he takes office? Trump has invested in the pipeline so the conflict of interest will be a big problem for him….” Mendocino County certainly did its part, sending serial delegations of protest soldiers, money and supplies. But as Ms. York notes, the Trumpers are likely to devise ways to reverse the Obama Administration’s tardy but welcome veto of the misguided project.

THE UKIAH DAILY JOURNAL'S bracing Sunday columnist, Tommy Wayne Kramer, writes: "I suppose anywhere but Mendocino County a 'Community Character' ordinance would make sense. The new regulations, approved by the Planning Commission, require that ‘chain stores and restaurants conform to the local architectural character of the rural communities,’ according to a recent front page story by Erick O’Donnell… Wouldn’t you like to watch a team of top-notch architects try to design a restaurant to match the character of Ukiah? What would it look like — an abandoned motel surrounded by tires and mattresses with faded plastic pennants on a string hanging from the roof, and a 30-foot tall inflatable blowy man out front?…”

(SO MUCH of Mendocino County's public discussion makes me feel like I'm drowning in a lukewarm pool of gluten-free glop, almost all of it nothing more than a daily festival of narcoleptic received opinion, that I look forward to Kramer's fog-clearing Sunday prose.)

PROBABLY, the award-winning architects would come up with even more relentless eyesores — look at the buildings they win awards for — but if Ukiah offered a large cash prize for creative ideas about how to make at least the town's major streets visually palatable, I'll bet there would be some interesting, doable ideas out there. Say what you will about political America, there is never a shortage of smart ideas and smart people out there.

LOOKED AT HISTORICALLY, before World War Two, every community in the County, even crossroad villages like Boonville, were attractive and coherent, with some nice old buildings along tree-lined streets. Post World War Two, both Ukiah and Willits were converted to hellish, unplanned sprawls which, in my opinion (shared by millions) do much to destroy public morale. Prior to WW Two, the leading citizens, i.e., money people, cared about what their towns looked like and took specific steps to keep their towns looking like the people who lived in them, cared. Today's Mendo money people have withdrawn. They don't participate in the civic life of their communities, hence the public squalor we see, especially in Ukiah and Willits. Fort Bragg has sprawl tendencies at its north and south ends but remains the only attractive and interesting community in Mendocino County.

THE “VILLAGE” of Mendocino? I agree with Kramer who dismisses it as "cute," a movie set kind of town. The "village" kind of creeps me out, frankly, as does Ferndale. You walk around both places half-expecting the Stepford Wives to come screaming around the corner bent on hatchet-mayhem. Both places are way to too-too. An hour in each place leaves you yearning for a shack with an old Chevy up on blocks in the front yard.

I'LL PUT IN A WORD HERE for Covelo. It probably doesn't but should boast some of the oldest trees — giant elms and oaks — in the County, and the ghostly old hotel, site of the shooting of Wylacki John, hit man for the nationally infamous "King of Round Valley," George White. Covelo's history is the most colorful, the richest of any place in Mendocino County. BTW, the Rorabaugh Center on South State Street, Ukiah? The Rorabaughs got the bulk of White's considerable fortune in return for its founding patriarch lying for White when White was charged with attempting to murder his wife. Rorabaugh testified that the woman was a floozie. Which was untrue, but White was acquitted. The slandered woman's uncle, I believe it was, shot and killed Wylacki John in the bar of the Covelo Hotel in 1888 (?) for continuing to libel his niece. Balzac's famous observation that behind every great fortune is a great crime has been lived out in the Rorabaughs of Mendocino County.

NOT TOO MUCH ENTHUSIASM for the Mendo Stands With Standing Rock demonstration at the Ukiah Courthouse last Friday afternoon. Liberals, it seems, are in a quandary about how to react to rent a cop violence against Native Americans — even though the adjacent KMEC has flown a banner for Black Lives Matter over their facade all summer for the handful of blacks who live in Mendo — yet never a word, let alone a banner, on the importance of Native lives.

THE GOOD PEOPLE of Bismarck, North Dakota, if you came in late, protested the humungous pipeline snaking down out of Alberta to carry tar sands to Illinois refineries, and the considerate corporations and contractors obligingly moved it, with NoDak Guv. Jack Dalrymple’s blessing, away from Bismarck and on over to the nearby Standing Rock Indian reservation, home of some of Americas most celebrated Lakota Sioux chiefs, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, and Russell Means.

THE UKIAH PROTESTERS made a circle late in the demonstration and took turns testifying to the brutality of the political climate, not to mention the water cannon, nightsticks, pepper-spray, flash bombs and rubber bullets on top of freezing temps. Several of the speakers noted that this kind of treatment from non-Native peoples was not uncommon. One woman said she was glad, in a depressing way, that at least it was finally being revealed how common callous treatment of Native Americans really is.

I REMEMBER interviewing Russell Means for the Missoula Muse (now the Missoula Independent — now that it’s become acceptable mainstream!) back during the ReaganTime, and the Iran Contra was such a lively topic. American Indian Movement founders Russell Means and Dennis Banks were touring the country in defense Nicaragua’s indigenous Mosquito Indians.

Russell Means died in 2012, at 70. Remarkably he’d been shot several times, stabbed at least once, and jailed for over a year, in one instance, for protesting abuse to Native peoples.

Dennis Banks, another founding member of AIM (American Indian Movement), came home from Japan just one year ago this week, to find his granddaughter had been murdered, drenched in gasoline and burnt.

AT THE TIME of my interview, Mr. Means had been filming a movie, Last of the Mohicans, in which he played a starring role. In Missoula (the scene was some evangelical denomination church basement, as I recall; no other venue in town would let this Republican-led entourage under their roof), the flamboyant Russell Means was dressed for the set, in my book, wearing more silver and turquoise than a Santa Fe coke dealer, and he had a gorgeous new wife hanging round his neck. None this glitz and glamour was new, as I had encountered the director of Heaven’s Gate Michael Cimino, the summer before (when I was a reporter for The Flathead Valley Leisure Review, Kalispell, Montana) just after Mr. Coppola’s Academy Award for directing Apocalypse Now.*

We were used to Hollywood pretensions up in Montana.

“Mr. Means,” I said. “You are traveling in company with a bunch of Reaganite apologists!” (the now-commonly applied admonishment — WTF? — wasn’t available in those primitive counsels, and so we had to struggle to communicate such emojis in sign language, if you will.)

MEANS readily assessed me as a lefty do-gooder, I suppose, and gave me the AIM party line: “We’re here for the Mosquito people, not any political party.”

No excuses for the Republican company he was keeping, and I suspect this has something to do with why President Obama won’t pardon Leonard Peltier or interfere with the “Black Snake” as the natives call the pipeline.

IT’S BEEN 30 YEARS, and I could be mistaken on the precise diction, but what Russell Means said to me and repeated elsewhere was something very much to the blasé effect mentioned above. I hardly knew what to say to the readership, in response to such a let-down — politics makes strange bedfellows, my girlfriend suggested — and as best I recall, my editor and I cut the AIM involvement short, and hit the former Golden Gloves welterweight champ Ollie North with a left hook.

BACK to the scene at the courthouse last week: I asked Jason Rodriquez the one AIM member — the one with the AIM patches on his vest, that is (there may have been others present) — if he’d been in AIM for a long time, and he said he had. I wanted to ask more, but the man was busy briefing six young warriors who had committed to go to Standing Rock right away, and bowed out of the way.

The AVA’s intrepid environmental correspondent, Will Parrish, was there, along with Anderson Valley’s Denver Read and, remarkably, an Australian activist whose American father decamped Downunder after the Vietnam War with the likes of Colonel David Hackworth (who died mysteriously for criticizing the policies, at the time, of the newly appointed Sec. of Def. USMC — well it’s a Deep State secret (not very well kept), so let’s not dig up too much do-do all at once.

THE LONG and the short of the protest was to garner support for these six new warriors, on their way to face the worst of it. Anybody out there with any resources to spare, be sure to contact the Coyote Valley leadership and contribute to this plucky action.

(PS. *Francis Ford Coppola wore English riding boots with Jodhpurs and snapped a riding crop like a metronome on his calf. He dined in the back of a downtown Kalispell bar and didn’t mind if locals drifted in and out to admire him. Kris Kristofferson would at least go to the Stockman’s Bar and stand the locals a round. No mention of Native Americans in that True Western. It was like watching Dukes of Hazard and wondering where are all the black people who live in the South went.

AND JUST this week we learn that the Standing Rock protests have succeeded. The pipeline will be re-routed. Hats off to the Mendo people who helped make it happen.

(— Bruce McEwen)



Because of Prop 64.

For years you had all these “artsy-fartsy” pot growers who had no life, as they say, only lots of ready cash, and they would buy anything represented as “art.”

Honest to god, they would strew the sidewalks with C-notes, $100 bills, and buy whatever struck their fancy — but Prop. 64 has changed all that.

Now the Art Walk is getting quite desperate.

I went out for the Art Walk and found it was over hyped, and desperately lacking.

Two places, both commercial insurance companies, were all there was.

At seven o’clock, which I consider a “respectable” hour, I arrived at (Ukiah City Councilmember) Maureen “Mo” Mulhern’s insurance shop on State street, where I saw some pictures, only three of ‘em, by “Jen,” a nice person who will copy a photo in acrylics of your late pet, be it a cat or dog.

Some eager advocates of the Art Walk hustled me away from that place and referred me to the new insurance store on the corner of Perkins and State (the old bank building) freshly painted and the home of a business called Insurance Mommy.

Here I discovered the nature photos of Molly Huddlestone, who, after confronting a battery of obstreperous gentlemen, I was at last able to meet. She told me she described her photos as, yes, nature, but not limited to that — and look ye here, see this one?

Somehow, I escaped and wandered down the dark, empty streets to the Corner Gallery, the only other place open where Ester Siegal and Spencer Brewer were displaying their 3-D collages, what they call “assembly art” much of which I’d seen already at Mosswood Market in Boonville.

Hmmm. There you have it.

Every time I asked about prices, things were negotiable.

When I asked about sales, owsom’ever, mumm! was the word.

I went to Villa Del Mar for a tostada and enjoyed the art there, the off-the Art-Walk art work of Gene Avery North featuring the figure of Sitting Bull at Standing Rock, and pipelines exploding in the backdrop — the only real art on the “art walk.”

(— Bruce McEwen)

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