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Off the Record (March 22, 2017)

ZIPPITY ZOO ZAH! The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office is pleased to announce that we will resume sales of voluntary zip ties for Medical Marijuana immediately. The zip ties are voluntary and serve the purpose of identifying legal marijuana plants in the field saving Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputies time when they encounter these plants. The program was temporarily halted while the Board of Supervisors worked on the new county ordinance. Although that ordinance is not completed it will not affect those growing legitimate medical marijuana for personal use. To purchase voluntary zip ties you must come to the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office stations in Ukiah or Fort Bragg and present a valid medical recommendation and current government photo ID. The cost of the zip ties remains at $25 each. This fee may be discounted by fifty percent (50%) for Medi-Cal, SSI and CMSP recipients, and equivalent income qualified veterans. (Sheriff’s Office Press Release)

THIS STORY led off SF Gate one day last week: “Calif. bar exam too tough? Critics ask to lower 'cut score’.” I defy anyone to spend more than one hour in any courtroom in Mendocino County and say that the Bar Exam is too tough.

A COASTIE NOTES: The whale numbers have been increasing moving northward. According to the ACS /LA GRAY WHALE CENSUS AND BEHAVIOR PROJECT, numbers have switched from 30% still going south (2 weeks ago) to 95% heading north with total northern numbers off the charts compared to past years and the average.

LINDY DIDN'T GET THE NOD. The former mayor of Fort Bragg and present-day FB city councilman, has written on his Facebook page: “I received a call from the Governor's office this afternoon informing me that I had NOT been appointed to the California Coastal Commission. The aide said, ‘The Governor has decided to go in another direction.’ I know. Sounds like a ‘break-up’ line, doesn't it? I want to personally thank each and every one of you who offered me encouragement and support. A Humboldt County Supervisor, Ryan Sundberg, has been lobbying and campaigning for this seat for months. He was definitely the front-runner. He is also a Native American. There has never been a Native American on the Coastal Commission. Until today. Let's support him in his new position and wish him the best of luck. He will do a good job. I was honored to be Mendocino County's nominee. It has been decades since our County has had a seat on the Commission. Sorry it didn't work-out. My interview went well. It is a political appointment however, and as we all know, if it gets down to politics, you never know. I just hope I represented you well through the selection process. I tried.”

PEKIN & PEKIN of Fort Bragg have been awarded a contract to defend Lake County indigents. Since Lake is mostly indigents, at least for legal purposes, the Pekins are going to be very busy.

MOVE OVER BOONVILLE. Hopland is running hard to become Mendocino County's second most happening venue. Gary Breem, who owns nearby Campovida, is presently at work on a major rehab of the old Hopland Hotel. The building permits for architect Richard Ruff says Breem is refurbishing 10 bathrooms. A Hopland persons says, "Since there are 20 rooms I'm guessing he's combining everything into suites." Suites? That's $400 a night, betcha. The thinking must be that wine tourists will pay it. Myself, I remember the Hopland Hotel's beautiful bar, and re-opening it, even as merely a wine and beer bar, is a major gift to Mendocino County's more careful drinkers.

ACROSS THE STREET — on the west side of Highway 101 — a perfect restoration of the former McDowell Winery tasting room, has been perfectly accomplished by Philo Saw Works, aka Jim Boudoures and sons of Philo in Anderson Valley. It will soon open as Savor and/or The Golden Pig, apparently the creation of Julie Golden. It will offer a full bar along with a ribs restaurant.

Here in Boonville, the Live Oak Building, which began life about 1920 as a garage, has been stunningly revived by another talented local contractor, Kirt Morse.

UP THE ROAD, at "far out nearby" Ukiah, as the town slogan has it, no hopeful developments spring to mind, although enthusiasm for the just opened In 'N Out Burger remains undimmed a month after the deep fat vats began to bubble. What does flit across the dimming mind screen of this writer is a recent comment by a young woman who said she "hated" Ukiah, which is understandable in a young professional single person far from home and family.

BUT UKIAH'S a fine place for anchored people, with lots of stuff for the young ones, but for a young adult, someone fresh out of the bright lights, Ukiah has nothing after the dinner hour, unless that young someone is a solitary, cerebral type who doesn't yearn for the traffic jams, drive-by shootings, free range mental patients, and bad vibes generally characteristic of urban areas, a young person who instead savors the beauty of Mendocino County once persons of all ages get off the main drags of Ukiah and Willits, Mendocino County can be a special kind of heaven.

I'M HERE TO SAY, that over the long years, I've come to love Ukiah, maybe because I'm used to it, maybe because I’m so used to it it's easy to negotiate, maybe because if the light is just right at the end of a long day I can imagine Ukiah Before The Fall, before its money people gave it up to sprawl, fast food franchises, big box stores, and no there-there generally.

ON A FLYING VISIT to our County seat Thursday, I wheeled up to the County Admin Center, parking at the first available spot, which a sign said was "Reserved For County Counsel," as if there's a law somewhere that says public property can be set aside for anybody's vehicle, let alone publicly compensated lawyers. The next door space said "County Official. By Permit Only." The car in it had no permit of any kind. (My old friend Mike Sweeney put it best when he thundered in an oddly East European accent at a court hearing, "There's no statyoot! Show me the statyoot!") I’m with Mike. Show me the statyoot that says County "officials" can set aside a front door parking spot.

WHEN JOURNALO-HACKS like me visit public buildings we invariably describe them as "bustling." The only time the County Admin is "bustling" is when the weed brigades turn out for a hearing before the supervisors. On a work day Thursday, there was no sign of life on the entire east side of the building, including the County Counsel's office.

ON MY WAY into the building's cold, unwelcoming hallway, I passed two men, one short and about 60 bearing a strong resemblance to Snuffy Smith; the other much younger, tall with hair that looked like a multi-colored Easter egg. The young guy was saying to the older man, "It's all bullshit. Fuck 'em." Seeing me, the young guy, suddenly merry, said, "How ya doin', dude." I was flattered. Usually, it's "How ya doin', old timer?" Or, worse, "How are you, sir?" I wanted to assure the young guy that his "It's all bullshit, fuck 'em" opinion of local government is more widely shared than he may realize.

INSIDE, I walked around trying to catch someone in the act of working. Nope, no one, but to be fair I didn't enter any of the offices, most of which were dark. I wanted mostly to have a look at Jendi Coursey's photographs taken in each of the County's five supervisor's districts. My colleagues said they were very good. They are, as is, I hear, Ms. Coursey's informal history of medicine in the Ukiah valley.

THE ONE SAD thing about Ms. C's photos are those from District 2, Ukiah's district. The pictures were of the town's civic center building, which is an architectural re-do of Ukiah's then-grammar school, circa 1915 when people still cared about what their towns looked like. Then there was the County Courthouse from School Street, not from its ghastly front, and finally, a generic shot of poppies coming up from the long abandoned railroad tracks. That was it for District 2 — two building with facades designed long before World War Two, and poppies on railroad tracks that will never again propel two trains each way north and south as they did prior to the War.

CONTRAST UKIAH to the comparably-sized Healdsburg just a few minutes down the road, a coherent, well-managed small town clearly cherished by the people who live there.

ON LINE COMMENT OF THE WEEK: “Just got back to SF. I’ve traveled around the world and I gotta say there is nothing more grotesque than walking down Market Street in San Francisco. Why the heart of our city has to be overrun by crazy, homeless, drug dealers, dropouts, and trash I have no clue. Each time I pass it my love affair with SF dies a little.

The difference is in other cosmopolitan cities, the lower part of society keep to themselves. They sell small trinkets, beg coyly, stay quiet, and generally stay out of your way. They realize it’s a privilege to be in the civilized part of town and view themselves as guests. And that’s okay.

In downtown SF the degenerates gather like hyenas, spit, urinate, taunt you, sell drugs, get rowdy, they act like they own the center of the city. Like it’s their place of leisure… In actuality it’s the business district for one of the wealthiest cities in the USA. It a disgrace. I don’t even feel safe walking down the sidewalk without planning out my walking path.

You can preach compassion, equality, and be the biggest lover in the world, but there is an area of town for degenerates and an area of town for the working class. There is nothing positive gained from having them so close to us. It’s a burden and a liability having them so close to us. Believe me, if they added the smallest iota of value I’d consider thinking different, but the crazy toothless lady who kicks everyone that gets too close to her cardboard box hasn’t made anyone’s life better in a while. (Post by Greg Gopman—cited in Lapham’s Quarterly)

THE SOLUTION is a national revival of mental hospitals, which is unlikely because sequestering, treating, then housing and continuing to treat the growing casualties of our way of living will cost a lot of money, a lot of money that would have to come from those who have a lot of money, obtained from them by a fair system of taxation. Or at the end of pitchfork, which seems more and more inevitable.

BERNIE, the great socialist, proposed a tax rate of about forty percent on the big fortunes. Under Eisenhower, the anti-socialist, taxes on the rich exceeded 90 percent on incomes over $100,000. Sixty bi-partisan years later, the rich are off the tax hook.

SURE, that's all huge simplification, but in San Francisco alone, the city shovels something like $380 million a year to an array of non-profits, led by lushly compensated professional doers-of-good, to get the euphemized "homeless" off the streets. The actual people out there on the streets are drop-fall drunks, drug addicts, crazy people, criminals, and a few comprehensive incompetents, the last the kind of people who used to spend their days in institutions for the mentally impaired.

THE TRULY HOMELESS, the people who, through bad breaks or their own fecklessness, find themselves without shelter, typically find their way out of homelessness by working their way out, mentally and physically. You see them, at least in San Francisco, living out of their vehicles, and many of them are employed. They would gladly pay rent if there was something available in the Bay Area at less than 70 percent of their monthly income. There are help wanted signs all over the Bay Area to fill jobs that don't pay enough to buy food and shelter, let alone the rest of the amenities us fortunatos assume as our right as citizens.

HOW MANY OF US housed people right now could come up with $7 or $8 grand to pay a deposit and first and last rent to get out of Frisco's rain and cold? What's a tenement-quality apartment go for in Ukiah, Willits and Fort Bragg? Here in Boonville, a decent house, however modest, if you can find one, will cost you upwards of $2500 a month.

A REAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY would address the true economic situation, true for a majority of people anyway, but a real Democratic Party is not on the political horizon. I'll bet the guy above who laments the dismaying street scene in San Francisco voted for Hillary. It’s got that candy-assed Billery whine to it.

IN THE LAST four weeks (i.e., almost 20 nights of on-air or on-line audio “community news”) that’s maybe four (being generous) Mendocino-based items, two of which were simply readings from other sources, and one of the remaining two with such poor audio quality that it was nearly unintelligible. Nothing about the Board of Supervisors or any summary of the many major local stories being covered by conventional sources, much less by the amazing news-ubiquitous, ava. Like Glidden Paints, We Cover The World!

IN RESPONSE to an usually mawkish editorial by the Press Democrat's lead Snowflake, Paul Gullixson, Mike Koepf wrote the following which, of course, the PD's guard poodles would not allow.

KOEPF provides some background: “This is Paul Gullixson. He’s the Editor-in-Chief at the Press Democrat. I call him “Cup Cake.” He thinks he’s clever, tough and smart. In reality, he’s intellectually soft. Don’t let that frosting of hair fool you. It looks halfway neat, but since President Trump was elected, he’s been pulling it out by the handfuls. Trump is driving the Cup Cake to be more unbalanced than he was. You too? Fine, protest with rational arguments not with emotional rants or writing using misleading sentimentality to make a point. That way, nobody will think you’re a Cup Cake too. This Sunday, the Cup Cake wrote another one of his endless screeds. This rant was about cuts to NPR, the NEA, and the National Endowments for the Arts.

“THE CUP CAKE believes that a new flak jacket for a marine is not as important as awarding a federal grant for, say, something like a crucifix in a glass of piss. At the PD, one can post an approving or dissenting opinion on the opinions offered. They do this to determine whether or not at least six people are reading their editorials. Anyhow, what follows is what I posted in response to the Cup Cake’s latest tirade against the Wall Man. The little Cup Cake used his big scissors to cut me out. One can easily access the PD to see what the Cup Cake wrote. You may find it to your taste. This time the Cup Cake uses innocent Boy Scouts to make his extraneous point.

Censored Comment:

Yes, sad…sad, sad, sad. What is truly sad is that since the election of President Trump, editor Gullixson has fulminated daily on the subject of the new President. It’s his right. It’s anyone's right, but when a right becomes obsessive, objectivity flies out the door. This morning, Gullixson decries that the sky is falling on our entire American culture due to President Trump’s proposed cuts for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. (NPR) Alas, no more tax payer's money to hear Terry Gross interviewing lefty movie stars; alas, no more Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, frantically informing us that the United States is responsible for all the troubles of the world. Gullixson’s vision of the arts is parochial. Art and culture are innocent diversions that enhance our lives. Of course, the arts improve our lives, but they can also shape the way we see the world. In other words, the arts can be political. An evil man understood this well. “In the world today all culture, all literature and art belong to definite classes and are geared to definite political lines. There is in fact no such thing as art for art's sake, art that stands above classes, art that is detached from or independent of politics.” Mao Zedong. Is the artist and actress Meryl Streep political or not? Are the master of ceremonies, actors, directors and writers on stage at the Academy awards political? If one detests Donald Trump they’re not. They’re funny. If one voted for Donald Trump, they are the deplorables. Art is never innocuous. Writing is an art; even in an opinion piece. For instance, this morning, Gullixson uses an innocent Boy Scout troop to cox a poignant point concerning government cuts to the arts. Of course, the Scouts have nothing to do with the subject at hand, but this is an attempt at the art of writing. In this case using the irrelevant to explain the germane. Gullixson also writes “the number of things that divide us as a nation are almost too many to count anymore.” Failing to count himself, he also fails to count the arts. Is NPR balanced and fair when it comes to representing the political sentiments of all Americans? Have you read a novel lately with a traditionalist point of view? The libertine-progressive point of view has become so entrenched in the arts that we accept it as normal. Who needs to think, when there is only one way to think? NPR, the NEA, the National Endowment for the Arts…have they become just another government funding source for a singular point of view? If their funding is cut, will the arts cease to exist? No. Art is in our souls. It’s best served without the state. Stalinists are the proof of that. With cuts, the funding will shift and move away from the control of the political-artistic elites. Let’s face it; many Americans don’t give a hoot about the arts. Opera, ballet, and poetry, why should they pay for it? They’ve got baseball and beer. Art is best pursued when it comes from the people up, not from our leaders down. Art is rebellion and revolution in the purest sense.

TOMMY WAYNE KRAMER'S bracing Sunday column in the Ukiah Daily Journal is a must-read here at the simpatico ava, where we do a fair amount of lib-bashing ourselves.

TWK writes this morning: … "Examples were recently provided at the Women’s History Gala sponsored by the Mendocino Women’s Political Coalition. Lynda McClure, the abrasive activist who’s had her fingers in every dingbat leftwing local project (KZYX, Simple Living, Cloud-Forest club, Hamburg groupie, Ukiah Enviro Center, union organizer, KMEC, etc.) is, naturally, an office holder with the Women’s Political Coalition. McClure says 'Our goal is to get pro-choice, pro equal rights women into office.' Men, she adds, are categorically denied endorsement for any office by the Women’s Political Coalition. It is obvious Republican women and women who harbor improper thoughts are forbidden admission. Poor Mo Mulhern. She’s on the city council so she was snatched in the talons of the crone club and forced to be this year’s poster girl. Only women who work for nonprofits, government or schools are eligible. No woman who works at Walmart will ever win a prize, and none living in Empire Gardens will ever be invited to the gala. Very diverse…"

IN EFFECT, the McClure group functions as whip for the Hillary Democrats of Mendocino County, people who are really lifestyle libs, worrying their simple, slogan-stuffed noggins with what amounts to gender fascism and who gets to use which bathroom. They're beyond self-parodying, and they are certainly no friends of working people of whatever gender. I also agree that they have an unerring, reverse Midas political touch — everything they touch is self-serving, hypocritical and, worst of all, chloroform-quality boring.

TRUTH IS, when a genuinely liberal woman from Mendocino named Wendy Roberts ran against Hamburg for supervisor, Hamburg got the nod from the Women's Political Caucus, or whatever this same collection of rightwing Democrats was calling themselves at the time.

WHEN MY DAUGHTER was in high school, I tried to get her to listen to a Women's Voices program on KZYX. After a couple of minutes, she said, "God, this is like torture. I've heard enough." My daughter was raised to never, ever tolerate any bullshit whatever from men and has always regarded herself as a feminist. I believe the inflictors of the MEC-KZYX kind of “progressive” pain are called, in the modern idiom, "tone deaf." Young women flee in droves.

AND NOW those of you with short attention spans and historical amnesia, are invited to leave the room while I climb the grassy knoll and ramble on about the only conspiracy I think is real and, unlike the grander ones — JFK, 9-11, vaccinations (!), and the rest of them — this one is local.

THE MENDOCINO ENVIRONMENT CENTER coincided with the political appearance in Mendocino County of Judi Bari and her then-husband, Mike Sweeney, although all of us who knew the star-struck lovers would agree that Bari was by far the more vivid personality of the two. (We're talking circa 1988.)

SWEENEY AND BARI both had keys to the front door of the MEC premises, located at 130 West Standley, Ukiah, directly across the street from the County Courthouse. The building is owned by John McCowen, presently 2nd District supervisor. McCowen still owns the building housing whatever somnolent environmental and lockstep PC "activism" is housed there. (I've never seen the door open before noon.) But the premises were quite lively indeed when Bari ran the County's activism show. (Bari, by the way, had a low opinion of her fellow activists, regarding almost all of them as “idiots” and "nuts." She was a high ability, low tolerance person, but out of the pure force of her formidable will she briefly got all the idiots and nuts aimed in the correct direction — the corporate stranglehold.)

HERE'S WHAT I THINK history might eventually reveal if the truth is ever told. Please join me in one more fervent prayer to Wikileaks. One more aside. McCowen, whenever our conversation runs off into Bari-related events of the 1990 period, slip-slides away from the following part of our occasional one-on-ones:

IT'S A VERIFIED FACT that beginning in the 1980s, Earth First! was an object of FBI attention. The over-rated federal cops were in between monitoring the defunct Communist Party USA (of which they made up roughly half the membership) and present day Islam, but here came a bunch of people actively opposed to industrial civ itself. The FBI must have been delighted.

EARTH FIRST!’S founding father, Dave Foreman, was the victim of a well-documented FBI attempt to frame him, to put him away in federal prison for trying to take down power poles in the Arizona desert. (Some Foreman-inspired doofuses, set up by an FBI provocateur, actually were tried for the same FBI-inspired plot and packed off to prison. Note to sabs. Always commit violent felonies by yourself. The person recommending felonies at public meetings is a cop.)

THE REASON for the fed's Get Foreman effort was what the fed's perceived as industrial sabotage, a federal crime when individuals or groups of individuals deliberately, as a matter of ideological principle, destroy the property of corporations engaged in mining, short-term profit logging, animal testing, ski lodges in pristine forests etc.

IN MENDO, Earth First! via Bari and her organ grinder monkey-like stooge, Darryl Cherney, talked up the destruction of logging equipment and tree spiking, although they later denied it in favor of what they called "Gandhian" non-violence, as if there are different flavors of non-violent political protest. Bari-Cherney later disavowed monkeywrenching, although they had recently been all for it.

I THINK the MEC was established as an FBI listening post, a handy clearinghouse for the feds to keep track of the environmental radicals drifting in from around the country for Redwood Summer, 1990, some of them undoubtedly committed and experienced monkey wrenchers. The MEC, as federally sponsored listening post, was based on the FBI's similar efforts in black ghettos in the sixties and seventies where the feds, with black agents doing the spying, set up phony poverty offices whose real purpose was to get an idea of who was who in the neighborhood. Which is what they did in Ukiah, too, I'm surmising.

THE FEDS, in my construct, came to McCowen, who has always been close to Mike Sweeney, and said to McCowen: "Johnny, my boy, we got all these nuts coming to Mendocino County from all over the country for this Redwood Summer deal Judi Bari has kicked off. Some of these people are dangerous. It's your patriotic duty to rent us your building and, of course, because we're the feds and money is no object, we'll kick down nice rent money to you every month." McCowen gulped, saluted, and said, "Better send cash. I don't want this getting out."

SWEENEY, who had been around violent left cult groups since he left his posh home and private high school in Santa Barbara for Stanford, a class background ordinarily more friendly to federal police forces than leftwing activity, was the fed's Redwood Summer guy in Mendocino County. (As an undergrad at Stanford, Sweeney wrote a famous-at-the-time article for Ramparts on a BofA arson in Isla Vista, next door to Santa Barbara. The article was written out of inside info, and Ramparts was otherwise off limits to unknown writers.) Was Mrs. Sweeney, aka Judi Bari, also involved with the feds? I don't know. I have my suspicions. But you tell me how it came to be that a guy with Sweeney's history was never even considered as a suspect when that famous bomb went off in his ex-wife's car in the middle of Oakland. And, while you're at it, explain to me how it came to be that Bari-Cherney's legal team agreed with the federal attorneys to prune the Bari-Cherney federal libel suit of all mention of who might have done the bombing? (I and several other persons, by court order agreed to by the great speakers-of-truth-to-power and the federal attorneys, were specifically, by name, not permitted to testify.)

PERSONALITY TYPES: How Bari-Sweeney came together in holy matrimony is one for the great gods of irony to explain. She was a stone hippie, he's the anti-hippie.

SINCE there is no longer any "activism" in Mendocino County beyond the exhibitionistic, symbolic type, if you see McCowen around ask him to finally pull the plug on the Mendocino Environment Center. PS. Please see the ava Bari Bombing archive at for endless arcana, the best of which is by Steve Talbot formerly of PBS who did the only true and honest investigation of the case in his excellent 1991 documentary “Who Bombed Judi Bari.” Talbot on

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