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Valley People (Dec. 21, 2016)

BAD COLLISION at the big turn on Mountain View Road, just up from the high school Monday morning. “An older woman in one car, a younger woman in the other. Slid on ice into each other.” No names yet. One lady was choppered outta here, the other wheeled over the hill by ambulance.

THE ABOVE Christmas tableau is about four miles up the Ukiah Road from Boonville. A person signing him or herself with the initials MLT, has gone to a lot of trouble to decorate a roadside bay laurel, and post a tiny placard reading HOPE, and this poem:

“The Merry Little Tree”

Not just for you.

Not just for me.

Not to be touched,

Or taken down.

But rather — just for all to see.

Just enjoy and leave it be!


Thank you!

LORENZO TO THE STATE PEN. Defendant Lorenzo Rodriguez Gomez, age 35, formerly of Philo, has been sentenced in Department B of the Superior Court to 9 years, 4 months in state prison, the defendant previously having been convicted of attempted murder, two counts of criminal threats, and the use of knife in the course of the attempted murder. This is the case where the defendant attempted to knife and kill a teenage boy, who, instead, shot the defendant multiple times at short range in self-defense. Assuming this violent conviction will not be modified by the recent passage of Proposition 57, the defendant — under pre-Prop 57 law — will be required to serve 85% of the sentence imposed. However, before the sentencing hearing could be commenced this morning, the defendant first attempted to fire his appointed attorney. He requested that Superior Court Judge David Nelson relieve the Alternate Defender’s Office and appoint him new counsel for reasons that were not publicly disclosed. The courtroom was then ordered cleared and an in camera hearing was conducted. When the prosecutor and the audience were allowed back into the courtroom, it was announced from the bench that the Court had denied the defendant's motion and the matter would immediately proceed to sentencing. The law enforcement agency which investigated the case was the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office. The prosecutor who handled the trial and argued for the People of the State of California at today's sentencing hearing was District Attorney David Eyster.

(District Attorney’s Office press release)

* * *

Bruce McEwen adds:

Just before his sentencing last Friday he tried to fire his lawyer, Alternate Public Defender Douglas Rhoades. Judge David Nelson cleared the courtroom and heard Lorenzo’s complaint, then denied the Marsden motion. When the public was let back in, the judge said Mr. Rodriquez is still in denial as to who’s fault his crime was and probation is recommending the aggravated term of 11 years and eight months for the main charge, Count Four, attempted murder on Bobby Kuny, who was a senior at Anderson Valley High School when he shot Lorenzo as Lorenzo, drunk and seemingly under the influence of some chemical or other, threatened Bobby's mother and another young woman in the home. Mr. Rhoades said he would ask the court to reduce it to the mid-term of Nine years and four months due to the lack of a criminal history and because Lorenzo was intoxicated at the time. Rhoades also gave the judge some letters from people in Anderson Valley, written on Lorenzo’s behalf.

DA David Eyster wanted the 11 years and eight months, and noted that Lorenzo himself said he was not intoxicated at the time. Eyster said the court ought not to just “gratuitously” grant the mid-term when Probation had “appropriately” recommended the aggravated term. Eyster then asked Bobby Kuny, the 18 year old who shot Rodriguez in apparent self-defense, if he wanted to address the court and ask for more time, but Bobby shook his head, No.

The letters were dismissed by Eyster as “further aggravation” as they showed, he said, that Lorenzo had “sold a script” to the people who wrote them. Nelson said the letters did have an impact on his decision, and that he was influenced by Lorenzo’s letter as well, and that he was “disturbed” over how the case had “pitted” people in the Anderson Valley against each other.

Over the DA’s objections, Nelson chose the mid-term of nine years and four months. There was also a $10,000 fine and court costs, restitution reserved. It looks like Lorenzo will definitely be on President-elect Trump’s deportee list.

* * *

The Editor adds, "I've seen Lorenzo around for years to say hello to. Always struck me as a happy guy, friendly and pleasant. He worked for a long time for a friend of mine who thinks the world of him both as a worker and as a friend. The consensus opinion about Lorenzo is the familiar one, "He's great when he's sober, not so great when he's drunk." In other words, not a criminal, hence his lack of a criminal history. I think, given the totality of the peculiar circumstances, especially him surviving several point blank gunshots, Lorenzo got a little too much time. He’s not a state prison type of guy.

FROM THE RIP VAN WINKLE DESK at the Press Democrat. Sunday’s editorial: ”War on Drugs has failed; time to rethink strategy.”

Next Sunday: “Vietnam Efforts Failed, Time to Re-Examine U.S. Foreign Policy.” And just in from the PD’s breaking news desk: “Napoleon Suffers Big Defeat At Waterloo.”

BOONVILLE BOASTS what no other community in this civically eviscerated county can boast, a fifty-foot Christmas tree in the middle of our leading town, Boonville, perfectly shaped and arrayed with lights by Aaron Peterson and crew of All-In-One Tree Service. "You make the call; we cut 'em all." Thanks to the Boonville Hotel and the Petersons for a wonderful Christmas visual in the heart of the Anderson Valley. We highly recommend All-In-One for whatever tree needs you might have. They get in, get 'er done at a very reasonable rate: 877-3340, 272-7387 (cell)

IN OTHER NEWS from Mendocino County's most happening community, very soon the reincarnation of the famous Libby's Restaurant, this one called Lizbby's will open its doors in the long vacant premises of the Boonville Lodge. Lizbby's (please note the z), and please note that Lizbby's, working closely with Libby's, so closely that we understand the menu and recipes are now the property of Boonville's Alejandro Gutierrez-Silva to replicate. If he can, Mr. Gutierrez-Silva will instantly be as busy as the popular Libby's, late of Philo.

A LOCAL READER, senior citizen, sent this note along with his renewal check: “It was re-up for the AVA or Xmas presents for the grandkids. Tough call. But you won. It’s a lump of coal for those little brats.”

OVERHEARD at the Boonville Post Office:

Old Man (noticing a word written on the back of a hand): Is that a tattoo?

Young Woman: No, just a reminder I wrote to myself. Why? Do you have a thing against tattoos?

Old Man: Not really, I guess, except that they’re permanent.

Young Woman: They’re just an artistic or personal expression.

Old Man: It’s kinda like putting a John Edwards bumpersticker on your car only to find out later that you can’t get it off.

Young Woman: Who?

Old Man: Never mind.

PERSONNEL: Boonville's gifted botanist, self-taught type, Doug Bindschatel, finished 19th at this year's Emerald Cup out of several hundred entries. Doug won the very first Emerald Cup at Area 101, Laytonville. The Cup is big biz these days, so big that founding father Tim Blake has moved it from its dusty beginnings to the Sonoma County Fairgrounds.


The year is winding down in a gloom of nightmarish politics, but in the muck of the nightmare we're slogging through and being sucked in by, a few glittering bits rise to the surface and we eagerly accept them as gifts - our land is receiving lots of much needed rain and we're receiving many compliments on our fresh and canned food, and meats. These are the simple things (fool's gold??) that keep us going, these and the incredible beauty of the place (real gold). The rains have scrubbed our world clean, turned it green and sparkling and energized every animal, plant, tree and flower. The paper whites and calendula are blooming and many trees are just now turning color and dropping leaves. This month brought rivers of rain, weather warm enough to start plants flowering as though it's spring, and now frost is in the forecast. In a world gone berserk we feel incredibly lucky to be where we are and doing what we're doing. Many people from all over the country and the world stop at the farm (our accidental social life) and we often hear them exclaim, "You're living my dream!” It's a hard working dream, but a dream nevertheless, and we are thankful. We hope you are all living your dream and that when the new year arrives we will all awaken from our political nightmare to find that it was never real. While that's not likely, at least it would be good to find that there's an illuminated path out of the muck onto solid ground and into the light. Nikki Auschnitt and Steve Kreig, Petit Teton Farm, Yorkville.

THIS WON'T be of interest to you auslanders, but Anderson Valley is unhappy that we've lost a doctor at our two-doctor health center in Boonville. The departed medico was a young, bi-lingual family guy in a community that is now at least half Spanish-speaking. Everyone liked him, everyone said he was "a perfect fit" and everyone is angry that he's gone.

DR. McGHAN was indeed a perfect fit for a disparate, fragmented community. He left because he thought the Center had reneged on part of his contract. He didn't leave nicely. He just walked out, leaving a week's worth of patients hanging. The doctor was clearly very, very angry.

SHOULDN'T HAVE HAPPENED. Should have been amicably worked out so McGhan wouldn't leave, whether or not he was correct about money owed him. He was too valuable to this community to lose. No one's irreplaceable? This guy came close.

AND HE was certainly well-paid at $160,000 a year plus a range of bennies. Plus, his first year here, free rent. A guy would have to be really, really frosted to walk out on that deal. Dollar to donuts he had a legitimate beef, a bona fide grievance.

HEALTH CENTER management made McGhan a belated offer to cover the money he felt he'd been screwed out of to get him to stay. But it was too late. He obviously felt insulted and, worse, or more ominously, felt he couldn't work under the present management of the place. Which means he's going to be hard to replace, for sure.

MAYBE the doctor's a nut, or a nickelnoser, or a prima donna, but if he's any or all of these negatives it escaped the notice of his patients, and they, presumably, are the true bottom line at the Anderson Valley Health Center.

SO, at the Boonville medical complex as of today, we have a doctor well into his golden years and an ace nurse practitioner supplemented by what seems like a small army of people walking around in white coats presumably conversant, to varying degrees, with the medical arts. Maybe that's all we need, a doctor and a nurse and a half dozen people in white coats.

WHO KNOWS what we need, or what the true numbers are or why the young doctor left? The board of directors — twelve of them — are apparently without powers of speech, for all the communicating they do, thus creating the usual Mendolib public employment atmosphere of fear, rumor, secret slander, the knife in the back.

SO I GET THIS NOTE this morning by e-mail: "Hi Bruce, Chloe Guazzone, Heidi Knott and I would like to meet with you this week if possible to talk about the Health Center and your coverage. Would you be available tomorrow afternoon after 3:30 or Thursday afternoon after 3:30? We will come by the office if it is convenient. Let me know. Kathy [Cox]"

I SAID NO. Nothing personal ladies, but N.O. And I make a virtual fetish of trying to be polite — ask anybody except my wife — but I knew out front what they were going to say so I asked them to write a letter, which I assumed they were unlikely to do because they know prose can be revelatory, especially when all you have to say is this: "Logan did us wrong, your coverage is destructive and both of you are bad people." In my case certainly, but I would defend the doctor.

LIBS love face meetings, especially meetings where the person or persons paid to be there gets everyone sitting in a circle and everyone introduces themselves and it's all smiles with this barely suppressed anxiety that expresses itself in constant chuckling with occasional arpeggios of insane laughter at ordinary pleasantries, and government donuts all-round.

WRITING DOWN what they want to say or complain about leaves much less room for manipulation and passo-aggresso maneuvering. But the circle people, the people who demand private meetings, know that their positions are weak, and explaining them in writing makes that clear to everyone.

NO, let's NOT talk privately. We all pay into the Health Center, so let's talk about it all right out there in public like big boys and girls so we can all judge the quality of the different versions of what's really going on at the Anderson Valley Health Center.

TWELVE PEOPLE sit on the Health Center's board of directors (and usually a token high school kid "because we care about the kids") but management really comes down to the three ladies above.

PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS should be transparent. This one never has been and, given the players, never will be. (See letters for the rest of the HC discussion.)

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