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Off the Record (Jan. 18, 2017)

DEPARTMENT OF THE MACABRE: According to a presser from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, the three pit bulls that nearly killed Pollard Hale, 57, of Covelo last week, “are being quarantined for 10 days and evaluated to determine whether they are dangerous and should be euthanized or can be returned to their owner, Miguel Angel Escareno Pinon, 24, of Covelo.”

LET’S GO WAYYYYYY out on a limb here and say the dogs should not be returned to the cretinous Pinon “who told authorities he had left the gate to his yard open and the dogs got out. When he returned home, he saw the three dogs around the victim, who was lying on the ground. Pinion’s dogs were reported to have been involved in a previous incident, but details on that one are not available.”

IN FACT, the dogs had chewed Hale’s arm almost all the way off and were gnawing at his face when Pinon reappeared. The only question here is why Pinon isn’t in jail and why the dogs were not immediately put down.

HALE, has either lost his arm entirely or it has been rendered forever crippled. He will also need “facial reconstruction.” His life has not quite been ruined, but almost.

A GOFUNDME page has been established to help Mr. Hale with his substantial medical bills. He and his wife are raising two grandchildren and Mr. Hale is now unable to work.

FROM POINT ARENA, Mendocino County's Sex Scandal Capitol: Over the past year, two PA girls were rescued from pimps. Farther back, several kids somehow got involved in commercial pornography. And of course there was the Steve Jurist affair, an account of which we've retrieved from our archive and re-published on-line at

THIS COMES FROM A PA PARENT’S Facebook Page: ”It has come to be my knowledge that 18 students filed reports with the high school principal and superintendent of sexual harassment and inappropriate touching by their teacher. The complaints started coming in as early as October of this year and continue on till today. The teacher was not removed from the classroom nor disciplined nor fired, instead the administration chose not to alarm the parents but rather advise the students to be more clear when they say no. If this were your daughter how would you feel? What would you do? And what action would you expect the school district to take? Mind you this is a criminal action which in my opinion overrides any contract law or school protocol. The administration admits to these allegations and insists that the teacher will not be returning next year but in order to avoid lawsuit or breach of contract etc, they are trying to attempt to allow him to stay on campus for the remainder of this year. Is student safety more important than the bottom line? This teacher needs help. I believe that there is more to his mental illness then simply being a predator. I hope that he is able to get the help he needs, and that he is able to do so without exposing our children to this experiment for even one more day."

THIS TEACHER needs to be “helped” out of his job and into jail. If the two administrators told the girls to just be “more clear” about limiting the perv's advances, they’d promise not to re-hire him, the superintendent and the principal should also be fired.

"UNWILLING TO CELEBRATE the beginning” of what he called a “dark and dangerous chapter” of American politics, North Coast Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, announced last week that he will not attend the inauguration of Donald Trump as the nation’s 45th president…"

FAST FORWARD to the big day. Orange Man is about to swear he'll defend Wall Street against all enemies, foreign and domestic, but especially domestic. Just as he raises his right hand to take the oath, he looks around and yells "Stop! Hold it! Huffman isn't here! Come back tomorrow."

LIKE EVERYONE ELSE, I read about national and international politics, but I don't write about it much because I don't have any special knowledge of Big Picture events and personalities and have nothing to add to the discussion. But what sticks in what's left of my mind is Trump's statement more than a year ago that he was seriously going to consider Single Payer. I haven't seen any mention of who's advising him on the ObamaCare dismantle, but Single Payer would be the quickest, most efficient way to do it, and get Big Orange off to a reasonably popular start, too. Thanks to the Clintons and Obama, Single Payer is off the table. Trump, natch, will go with a few modifications of Obama’s mess and millions of people will continue unable to pay for either insurance or their medical necessities.

NOR HAD I SEEN any mention of the likely demonstrations in the area around the big event until a couple of days ago. I do know lots of people of the kamikazi personality type who plan to be there. The riot potential is enormous.

DEPARTMENT of low intensity crime. The Ukiah Police Department issued a counterfeit bill warning last week. Also last week, a Philo woman was arrested for passing one. I don’t imagine we’re dealing with master forgers here. Our criminal masterminds typically cut a corner off a twenty and paste it onto a one. Then, if they’re lucky, the harried kid at the McDonald’s take-out window gives them change for a twenty. But these fakes were a little more sophisticated, it seems, which means they were probably done in the great world outside.

THE FOLLOWING MESSAGE was posted on the County Courthouse's FaceBook page by someone calling herself Baby Boo James, a parent. Baby Boo was frustrated by the wait for the wheels of justice to grind her fine: “U got 2b kidding me!! I know it hasn’t bin that long but wen u hve an infant oh hell yah, I’ve bin up at this damn court house since 8am. There was hella ppl here now there down to almost no 1. Ugh Im getting fed up with this maaaan!! Pls hurry the fuck up already Im hella hungry n tired. Fuuuuuuuuuuck!!”

THE COUNTY COURTHOUSE, all day every day, sees an unending parade of people unable to function in a modern society. Factor in poverty, whatever classroom dysfunction these cripples have passed through, dope, a popular culture that celebrates the low life, and here we are with a permanent underclass, even here in our rural paradise.


MESMERIZED by a crime show on 48 Hours the other night — I like to keep up with the latest applications of practical scumbaggery —who should suddenly appear on-screen but Frank Hartzell of Fort Bragg. A long time reporter for inland newspapers before he arrived on the Mendocino Coast, Frank had worked on the featured story, a depressing tale of the murder of a vivacous immigrant Thai mother of two small girls. Frank, a natural for television, said the story was filmed recently. “I think because the trial was botched, they thought at first it was a case where the guy might be innocent. Both Sheriff Parker and I had rather complete files on the 20 year old case and to their credit, they [48 Hours] steered the story in another direction and I think it came out very well, showing the impact on victims… I have been on a few times, Dateline and such for weird old murders I covered back in the day. Cold murder cases are a TV obsession nowadays. They came here to FB and filmed me in my warehouse, when I told them I still had files. They took pictures of the files but I think chose not to use any of that because it did change the direction of the story….”

AFTER 157 YEARS, Mendocino County begins the process of maybe managing itself.

From CEO Carmel Angelo’s CEO Report for January 10, 2017:

“Leadership: The Mendocino County Executive Leadership Team (MCELT), which is comprised of 21 key leaders throughout the County organization, met on Friday, January 6, 2017 to continue the work of leadership. The meeting was attended by Supervisor McCowen who spoke to the group to acknowledge the importance of the work being done by the team. During the meeting, MCELT members identified and agreed to focus on four short term and three long-term goals over the next twelve months. Goals include work in the following areas: Use of metrics…”

LAST TUESDAY, CEO Angelo briefly explained: “One of our goals is metrics. We’d actually like to measure — you know the phrase ‘you can’t manage what you can’t measure.’ And we have that throughout our system. So we’d like to have performance measures and some outcome measures for our departments. Each team member committed to focusing on at least one of the identified goals. Members of the County’s Expanded Leadership Team will have an opportunity to become involved as work teams are formed for each goal.”

ONE OF MS. ANGELO and her team’s “leadership goals” is “metrics.” Without metrics — i.e., performance and outcome measurements — “you can’t manage” the organization. And it’s worse than we thought, “We have that throughout our system.” I.e., there are no metrics, and therefore no management “throughout our system.”

OBVIOUSLY this management vacuum includes the CEO herself because management of a large organization is not a “goal” but a basic requirement. Notice also that Ms. Angelo did not apply any metrics to her own goal: By what date will the “metrics” be in place? Who specifically is responsible for developing the metrics? When will the Board of Supervisors get a look at the new “metrics”?

LONG-TIME READERS will recall that we’ve been harping about this for more than 20 years. Mendo doesn’t even do the most basic monthly departmental reporting. The Supervisors never ask about it. Nobody wants to know how what budget and staff status is, nobody wants explanations of variations, nobody’s interested in the status of special capital projects, or whether deadlines are being met, nobody keeps track of assignments or due dates, nobody comes before the Board regularly (with the conspicuous exception of Transportation Director Howard Deshield who does a comprehensive monthly report albeit without budget and staffing status)…

WE KNOW, for example, that the Planning Department is very badly under-staffed, both in numbers and experience, that workload is expected to ramp up with the new pot rules, and that outside contractors and/or extra help are either being considered or have been hired. But we don’t know how it’s going, what the budget implications are, what the workload is, what the backlog is, etc. In fact, nobody cares and nobody knows.

OR TAKE MENTAL HEALTH. What’s the new staffing level in light of the modifications made to the contract after the switch from Ortner to Redwood Quality? Many functions formerly in Ortner’s contract were brought back in house, so how many new slots were created? How many are filled? What’s the backlog in cases and hiring? How does workload breakdown between Coast and Inland?

INSTEAD, we get a vague “leadership goal” about “metrics,” which is an admission that The Good Ship Mendo is rudderless, floating aimlessly in the doldrums, hoping to avoid the big iceberg.

AT LAST TUESDAY’S BOARD MEETING where CEO Angelo confessed to non-management, the Board spent most of the day talking about proclamations, inconsequential changes to their own Board rules, rearranging or re-affirming committee assignments, and “supervisors reports.” The Board didn’t ask a single thing about the new “metrics” goal or when they’d be in place.

IN FACT, METRICS SIMPLY WON’T HAPPEN. It was only mentioned as a buzzword. But nobody in official Mendo really wants to know the status of anything because (1.) Except for Howard Deshield and his hard working County road crews, and the Sheriff’s Department, the rest of the County departments range from fully to mildly dysfunctional. And 2. If the Supes knew about the true state of the SS Mendo they might have to do something about it.


by Jennifer Poole of the Willits Weekly:

The 17,000-acre Shamrock Ranch in Laytonville has been sold for $20.5 million to a conservation group, say Realtors Kevin Sullivan of Ukiah and Jim Redd of Eureka, who work together on large North Coast property sales as “The Ranch Agents.” With the sale to a conservation group, Sullivan said: “Hopefully the ranch is going to stay just the way it is.”

The sale of the spectacular property – known around the world as a “sportsman’s paradise” – was finalized early this year, after being on the market for about four years. Those driving Highway 101 through Laytonville see the beautiful “Shamrock Ranch” gate to the ranch on the east side of Highway 101 south of town.

Shamrock Ranch is a working ranch, with a full cattle and cattle operation, a “flourishing hunting business,” 25 acres of “profitable vineyards” with Pinot Noir, Syrah and Zinfandel grapes, “first-rate equestrian facilities suitable for breeders,” multiple homes, including a seven-bedroom Mediterranean-style villa, abundant water, a rock quarry, two miles of Eel River frontage, and a private airstrip.

The Ranch Agents web page for the ranch,, also says the ranch is renowned for its wildlife habitat management, which includes a resident Tule elk herd. “Since 2006, the bull count has more than tripled, and trophy level bulls of this rarer species have been consistently harvested each year.”

The Ranch Agents specialize in bigger, ranch and country properties in Mendocino and Humboldt counties, although there’s very few ranch properties left that are even a fraction of the size of the Shamrock Ranch. “They’re like dinosaurs,” Sullivan said. “Over the last 20-30 years, people have been forced pretty much to sell stuff and cut it up. It’s expensive to keep [the big ranches in one piece]; you don’t make a lot of money out of ranches, but they cost a lot of money to keep them up. And you’ve got to pay the fiddler,” i.e., the county property taxes.

Without the Williamson Act, which offers agricultural and open space land property owners tax relief in exchange for an agreement not to convert the land to more urban uses, it would be even harder for big ranch owners to keep the land in one piece, instead of subdividing into smaller parcels, Sullivan said.

To see a video showing the beauty and detailing the amenities of the property, visit and check out other “dream” country property listings from the main page. Contact Sullivan at Kevin Sullivan Realty, at 707-489-4610 or Redd at Four Star Realty, at 707-496-3022.

(Courtesy, Willits Weekly)

A READER sent along this FaceBook post by Junice Gleason of Fort Bragg:

"Shout out to all Mendocino Coast Hospital Board members. If you signed a retainer agreement with John Ruprecht [Fort Bragg attorney] on behalf of MCDH [Coast Hospital], you may very well have signed personal liability for payment of his services. Read your retainment agreement very, very carefully for if MCDH does not have the money to pay him, he may put a lien on your personal residence if MCDH happens to default on payments for his services.

"I signed such an agreement on behalf of Fort Bragg Footlighters [an amateur community theater group]. Footlighters could not pay him another $83,000 after we had already paid him $71,000.

"John Ruprecht has put a lien for $83,000 on my home, a lien on my cousin Joseph Sverko's home, and another $83,000 on our Footlighters theater. [Presumably the real property on Laurel Street.]

"He is a great lawyer but he may cost you, your cause, your home, your community hospital. Wow! He is a very highly paid parasite on our community, in my opinion."

IT WAS A LONG and winding path to get to the liens against Gleason's and Sverko's properties, highlighted by a battle for title to the old theater on Laurel.

RUPRECHT managed to retrieve title to the building, with Gleason and Sverko personally guaranteeing his legal fees, perhaps assuming eventual sale of the Footlighters building would, if necessary, pay them back. A third Footlighter, Bob Armitage wisely refused to sign the fee agreement with Ruprecht as a personal guarantor as Ruprecht battled to recover title to the theater, valued at somewhere between $400,000 and $600,000.

JUDGE CLAYTON BRENNAN SUMMED UP: "Finally, it was clearly demonstrated at trial that defendant Sverko, who grew up with and is related to Gleason, understood the personal nature of his obligation to the contract. He advanced over $50,000 of his own funds toward the litigation… .He testified that he was willing to do so because ‘the Footlighters mean everything to me…’

"On an emotional level,” Judge Brennan wrote, “one cannot help but be touched by the passion and love the defendants have for the Footlighters. However, it also appeared that the overarching theme of defendants' case was that it is not fair to hold a non-profit mutual benefit corporation of artists accountable for a large debt. Obviously, this notion is untenable."

SEEMS TENABLE from here and only became untenable when the legal profession assumes that exorbitant legal fees are more tenable than a community theater group.

GLEASON and Sverko didn't sign up for personal liability to make money; they signed up to save the Footlighters and to save the building the Footlighters performed in.

PREDICTION: Ruprecht will wind up owning the building, thus making a lot more money from its sale than he would make tossing an old lady out of her home.

IT SEEMS UNLIKELY that Coast Hospital trustees, mostly doctors, would assume any kind of personal liability. Doctors read the small print on contracts even more assiduously than lawyers.

THE WILLITS WEEKLY reports that in addition to Holly Madrigal and Willits veterinarian Georgeanne Croskey, Willits Teachers Association President John Haschak has applied to be appointed to the Third District Supervisorial seat recently vacated by the resignation of Tom Woodhouse. "Haschak has been a bilingual teacher in the Willits Unified School District for 27 years. He also has been active in union activities and has been chapter president of the Willits Teachers most of the last 13 years. Active in the teachers labor union at the state level as well, Haschak was chairman of the Redwood Service Center (a regional division of the California Teachers Association) for four years and served as vice chairman of the CTA budget committee for six years. He earned a bachelor of arts degree from UCLA in 1981 and his teacher's certification the following year. A member of the Mendocino County Democratic Central Committee, Haschak has not run for public officer before. He said he is seeking Woodhouses's seat on the board of supervisors because 'we need progressive leadership' in that office. 'I think I'll be able to work with people in the Third District and on the board of supervisors,' he said, 'so we can get things done and move the county forward'."

ACCORDING to Transparent California, Haschak made $72k per year in 2015 as a "languages teacher" — plus $19k worth of benefits. We could find no record of Mr. Haschak taking a position on anything in Mendo, Willits, or elsewhere, besides his and his fellow teachers’ possible pay cuts back in 2010 during the boycott of an open house at Baechtel Grove Middle School.

WE ALSO UNDERSTAND THAT JOHN PINCHES has confirmed rumors that he would like his Third District seat back, and he's our preferred candidate. But he's a long shot, a very long shot because he's variously a Republican or a Libertarian up against Democrats, including Holly Madrigal who, by rights, should get the nod since she ran for the seat, narrowly losing to Woodhouse in 2014. And she's a Democrat hard-wired to the Northcoast's party apparat.

DIDN'T SEE Trump's press conference last Wednesday but I did listen to it on the radio. One doesn't need the visuals for a press conference, especially Orange Man's appearances before a baying media out to get him over an obviously manufactured allegation of Trumpian sordidness that allegedly occurred during a Trump visit to Russia. The media were baying for Orange Man’s blood, and what self-respecting journalist is going to sit in a mob like that jumping up and down like a third grader trying to get the teacher's attention? (None.)

THAT ALLEGATION was apparently dreamed up by a real perv, or a team of pervs, employed by Anglo-Brit "intelligence" agencies. And it was so far out that it wasn't even remotely plausible except to CNN. Say what you will about him, Trump knows how to handle a media mob. He gets right out in front of it and fires right back at the animals peppering him with Gotchas. (The only respectful question came from, of course, a man from the BBC.) I had to admire Orange Man's performance. He made the media look like the pathetic putzes they are.

ALL THE TALK about fake media is hilarious. Strictly speaking, it's all fake, all false, really, because it's all owned by very wealthy individuals whose primary purpose is the promotion of their interests, and that's as true of the New York Times as it is of Fox News. Lots of individual journalists do fine work, but unless you know where the whole show is coming from and understand the basic fact that it’s all filtered through varying perceptive apparatuses, you're not reading accurately or understanding much.

LOCALLY, the purpose of newspapers is to walk a fine line between terse accounts of local events and advertisers, meaning the only inflammatory opinion is found on the letters page, and even that better not be too inflammatory or advertisers will flee. The Ukiah Daily Journal and the new Willits Weekly, the first chain-owned, the second a start-up owned by two brave women, do a good job covering events arising from their communities. The chain-owned Advocate-Beacon, on the Mendocino Coast, seldom prints anything likely to disturb anyone, and restricts content of letters to the nambo-pambo parameters of received opinion. Occasionally, though, even the Advocate-Beacon will run something by the excellent Chris Calder or the old pro Frank Hartzell that is first-rate. The South Coast is served by the Independent Coast Observer. It tries, but also lives in abject fear of its readers and advertisers. There are several on-line papers, the best of which, by far, is Paul McCarthy's "Mendocino Sports Plus," a unique mix of information ranging from ship traffic to high school ball games. Maestro McCarthy also has a wonderful sense of humor which enlivens much of what he presents. Farther north, I admire the on-line reporting of Kym Kemp and the work at Lost Coast Observer. I read all these sources every week, Mendocino Sports Plus every day.

AND THERE'S KZYX, which I hear only in snatches but what I do hear seldom makes me go out of my way to tune in again, except for Jeff Blankfort's program every other Wednesday if I'm near a radio. Mendo Public Radio has always been disappointing, especially in its avoidance of local talk on local issues. (The people they've had who were good at hosting local discussion wound up on the station's lengthy enemies list. (BTW, I have the distinction of being placed on that list even before the station went live. Hold your applause, please.) I've been an off and on member of the station from the beginning simply as a community thing I thought I should do but, after the last two smart people they hired at KZYX fled in horror last year at what they called the "toxic personalities" dominant at the station's slovenly Philo headquarters, I'm waiting to see if the new guy and his revolving door directors (some of them also toxic) can at least establish a reasonable level of civilized operation before I pony up another fifty bucks.


Candidates for KZYX BOARD needed.

District 3-Willits, Laytonville

District 4-Fort Bragg & Coast

At Large- In County or contiguous Counties

Deadline for applications Jan. 30

Important: Unless there is at least two candidates for any Board seat, there will be no membership vote requirement.

For more info: Call 707 895 2324 M-F, 9-5 or or POBx 1 Philo, CA, 95466


A month or so back the University of Pennsylvania’s English Department hauled down a portrait of William Shakespeare that had hung in a hallway probably since the week the University of Pennsylvania opened. Shakespeare, the most towering figure in all the English language, brought down.

The picture was replaced by one of Audre Lorde. You are perhaps less familiar with her achievements in the world of literature. She describes herself as “Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet.” (Tommy Wayne Kramer)

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