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Letters (Sep. 27, 2017)

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I've been your subscriber nearly 30 years. It's been an interesting and colorful ride, but  nothing that prepared me for  a diary of days, riding dirty with the Tone Dogg! I gasped at first, then started with numerous small smiles and chuckles at the repeated blasts of IRONY and BLACK HUMOR (I'm talking about the LIFE, not the RACE). That's beyond a vice or a habit; that's a LIFESTYLE CHOICE. By the time I rolled into the second column of the back page, I just busted out laughing. Dogg, you don't get it. ALL YOUR TROUBLES begin and end with you and your lifestyle choices.

That said, I'd LOVE to see the guy submit a monthly report, long or short, but preferably long. Oh, please ask Flynn if he might go through this letter of Dogg's and break down most of the obvious slang. I guess I just don't get around the "in crowd" much these days, and miss the colorful changes in our ever evolving language. Flynn could do fine piece on Dogg's slang and help us old timers out.

Dogg might unknowingly be channeling Hunter S. Thompson's "Gonzo" style of writing, where the writer injects himself into the story he's covering, soon becoming the center of the action while reporting on it. Think of HST's coverage of The Kentucky Derby, running amok on a combo of substances and interacting rather poorly with the public. That sounds like Dogg on the loose at the music festival — and it's all downhill from there.

Thanks again for a damn good read, every week.

Tom Reier

Santa Rosa

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I just want to clarify some things people say about the Mendocino County Jail. First of all: quit your sniveling. I’ve been in and out of that jail since the 80s and if anyone knows the conditions it is i. Second, when it comes to the COs, you have to give respect to get respect. When there is a serious issue with a CO belive me, Lt. Bednar will take care of it accordiongly and professionally. Third, when it comes to mental health — which I’m not —I see just a bunch of addicts trying to get a fix, clogging up the mental health resources. Yes, they should build a mnetal health facility, but find an effective way to distinguish the addicts from those who need it. Fourth, the food? What the f___, guys? I gain weight every time I go to the Mendocino County Jail.

So last but not least, I say: Jail is what you make of it; yeah, it sucks, but isn’t it supposed to?

Daniel Shealor

San Quentin

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Dear AVA,

I saw your segment in Valley people regarding my situation. I wanted to extend a personal thank you for the effort you have been making.

The series of events that led up to my CDCR commitment has been poured over quite a bit by those who were close to it. Mendocino Public Defender Linda Thompson presented each of Deputy District Attorney Kevin Davenport's "deals" while I was in jail. Attached to each of them was the condition that I provide testimony against Aaron Channel in exchange and each of them entailed a life term.

In the initial offer (15 to life with testimony, if memory serves), I refused on two grounds. I wasn't going to testify against Aaron (both a prison death sentence and a moral compromise I was unwilling to make) and, in the political environment of former Governor Gray Davis, any life term equated to life without possibility of parole so any such deal wasn't a deal at all. I quite colorfully replied to the offer in a manner commensurate with its ridiculousness.

After Aaron took the deal for 19 years and eight months at (then) 85% I was offered 25 to life. I refuse this deal as well on the same grounds as above, namely its equivalency to life without.

In a meeting with Linda Thompson at the courthouse while the jury was off deliberating whether or not I was a heinous creature deserving of perpetual isolation from society, she quite confidently assured me of the likelihood that I would be able to come by her office later and pick up my court records from her personally; you know, since I wasn't going to be convicted.

Things didn't go this way, obviously. Instead, the jury came back in a couple of hours and sent me off to my doom. I was in such a state of shock when the verdict came in that I nearly broke down when Mr. Reynolds (the father of an "acquaintance" of mine, as he put it) put his hand on my shoulder on the way out the door.

Thompson's closing statement (the only statement, really, since she merely stood up and said "the defense rests," when asked to call the first witness) was in effect "my client is a horrible person but the district attorney can't prove he did this particular horrible deed."

In light of this obvious non-defense, let's visit a couple of other critical points for a moment.

Linda Thompson filed a 995 motion to force Judge Nelson to conduct a review of Judge Brown's decision to admit the "confession" (which I still vehemently state was coerced; watch the thing). Judge Nelson responds to this was to completely agree with our motion, then state that it was his place to tell another judge how to do his job. That is the very essence and purpose of an 995 motion!

Thompson's response? Well, that sucked, but what can you do?

This was all pretrial, mind you.

With the knowledge that Judge Nelson was against the idea of admitting the "confession" and would likely throw it out if he was the trial judge, it would make sense that an intelligent lawyer would want to make sure the case was heard by this guy at trial, right? Here's what ended up happening instead.

Thompson filed a 176.1 motion to recuse the initial judge from hearing the trial. It was sent to Ten Mile Court where a 176.1 happened again. Then it went to the Willits courthouse. Apparently the District Attorney's Office was having some sort of feud with the presiding judge in Fort Bragg and Davenport was required by District Attorney Norm Vroman to 176.1 him. Then Lehan, with another 176.1 motion.

Hell, I thought, all we have to do is keep filing these 176.1 motions until we land in front of Judge Nelson and hope like hell Davenport doesn't 176.1 that guy. If that happens, the state essentially has no evidence and will want to offer a more intelligent deal (since life in prison for essentially driving a truck a few miles down logging road is nincompoopery at its finest).

So, after Lehan, we landed in front of Judge Henderson. Who is this guy? A family lawyer with absolutely zero experience in criminal cases. In fact, we later discovered he was so inept at criminal jurisprudence that the district attorney had to confirm with Linda Thompson in court to guide Henderson on how to resolve certain issues of basic criminal procedure.

Anyway, I immediately told Linda Thompson to, as I recall, "176.1 this jackass." Her response was that she had a good feeling she could get somewhere with this judge and she was going to keep him. Looking back, I should have flipped out in the courtroom immediately and filed a Marsden motion to remove Linda Thompson from my case at once. Of course, I was just a dumb kid who doesn't know any of these things, so that didn't happen.

Going back to the beginning, we were both picked up (Aaron Channel and I) on the word of August Stuckey (King Rat, for any who don't already know.) Stuckey gave no less than four different versions of events, each of which portrayed Stuckey as the innocent and helpless victim of the Abreu Channel machine. In one version of events, Aaron and I had threatened to rape and kill his sister Candace and he didn't lure Don Perez to Fort Bragg. (Ask Aaron's wife how he and I feel about rapists if this scenario still sounds plausible.)

In another scenario, Aaron and I repeatedly stabbed Stuckey with ice picks until he acquiesced and lured Perez to us.

Our motive? Who knows? In fact, there was absolutely no connection to Perez for either Aaron or I. August, however? Turns out they were gay lovers! That sounds like a pretty solid connection to me. In fact, the only evidence that led from Perez to any of us was the presence of Stuckey’s phone number in the abandoned truck of Mr. Perez.

Anyway, I think you get the idea. There's so much wrong with this case and how it was handled that any moron with a law degree should have been able to get a better deal or beat it outright.

No cause of death was established. ("The cause of death is determined to be: undetermined," according to the autopsy report.)

No murder weapon was recovered — no murder was even established.

It was conjecture that his throat was cut, but no blood was found on his shirt below the neck. More likely scenario: taped to a tree and left for dead. Proper charge: negligent homicide or voluntary manslaughter.

Maybe I will write a book about this travesty. I've nothing better to do with my wasted life.

If anyone out there still gives a crap about justice, I've always got an open ear.

Go figure,

Tai Abreu T-61118

High Desert State Prison A5-215

P.O. Box 3030, Susanville, CA 96127

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To the Editor:

It is with a heavy heart that we, Simon and Luke Keegan, write this letter. As many in the community already know, a number of years ago our family suffered the unexpected, tragic loss of our mother, Susan Keegan. We are currently reeling from the dubious decision to indict our father, Peter Keegan, with the use of a grand jury, meanwhile coping with his diagnosis of stage four cancer. Given our lack of control over the public nature of recent events, the purpose of this letter is to make a unified family statement regarding these allegations, and to clarify a number of falsehoods that have been presented in the media. The number of facts that have been blatantly misreported is astounding; as are the number of assumptions, inferences, and suggestions.

We are disappointed to see coverage of our mother’s death repeatedly mentioning that “friends and family” believe that there was some foul play in our mother’s death, based on the beliefs of a select few individuals that continue to refer to themselves as such. We are aware that our mother had some highly motivated friends, who have refused to accept this incident for what it was, an accident. We are disheartened that their misguided attempts to make sense of our mother’s death has contributed to the reporting of false information, presented as truth and fact, and worse, a gross mischaracterization of our father. We are in no way affiliated with these individuals, nor do we support their actions.

It is out of a deep, forever love for both our mother and father that we wish to honor our family and our truths. We continue to stand steadfast by our father’s side, and cherish our memories of our mother.

Luke & Simon Keegan


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To the Editor:

A thoughtful pause in the Ukiah community’s energetic discussion of the Mendocino County District Attorney’s decision to charge Dr. Peter Keegan in the murder of his wife, Susan, could be wise.

Reminder: Dr. Keegan’s guilt or innocence will be determined in a court of law, not the court of public opinion. This is not a popularity contest, and should not become a defense-orchestrated public relations campaign. Forensic evidence, findings from a series of search warrants, and the testimony of informed witnesses will dictate the outcome. An unbiased jury of Dr. Keegan’s peers will deliver the verdict, without giving weight to rumor or guesswork. The truth will not take sides.

That should reassure anyone with a personal interest in the case, no matter what they believe happened on Nov. 11, 2010, when just two people were in the Keegan home, and one was murdered. The District Attorney’s subsequent investigation of Susan’s death was deliberate, painstaking and, yes, very slow, but it was most certainly not a “witch hunt.” Anyone who uses a phrase like that dishonors the investigators, the judicial process, the friends and family who pleaded for a careful examination of the evidence, and the grand jury that voted overwhelmingly to indict Peter Keegan.

For reasons of history and tradition, the use of criminal grand juries is less common in California than in many other states. In New York, for example, they are convened routinely, especially with high-profile crimes. Prosecutors sometimes prefer to present their case to a grand jury, rather than at a judicial hearing, to be assured that the scope of their evidence is persuasive to ordinary citizens. They are obliged to present all available evidence – exculpatory, as well as incriminating. While the law does not permit witnesses to appear with their own attorneys, it does require the defendant to be notified that a grand jury is meeting, and to be offered a chance to testify. If Peter Keegan availed himself of that opportunity, the jury would undoubtedly have heard the defendant’s side of the story in detail.

After many days of testimony, the grand jury in the Keegan case applied the legal standard of “strong suspicion” to hand down its indictment. No one is celebrating that outcome, which is heartbreaking to all who knew and loved the Keegan family; indeed, it is a tragedy eclipsed only by the established fact that Susan was murdered. For that, Dr. Keegan must be allowed to face a jury of his peers, and the community given a chance to hear the evidence gathered against him. That is the only pathway to justice.

Karyn Feiden (Susan Keegan’s cousin)

New York

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Dear AVA folk,

We greatly appreciate the support you have shown Mendocino libraries over the years. No other publication prints as fully the information about library events and programs. Thanks!

And thanks for the recent kudos you gave to Dave Frick, the Bookmobile guy, for passing out free eclipse glasses. A limited quantity of these were distributed at all the branches.

We do, however, want to respond to comments in the Off-the-Record column of July 26th since it was directed in part to the Library Advisory Board.

You ask us "to look into whether those new tax dollars are being spent in the manner that the Measure intended."

In fact, the LAB has been doing this since Measure A was passed. We are sure you remember that before passage of Measure A the library had cut hours to 3 or 4 days a week, had no children's or teen librarians, and had no budget for books or other materials. The new funding has accomplished the lofty goals you listed and we have a vibrant program with great staff.      You question the relevance of some of these programs - putting "library programs" in  quotations - but modern libraries are really community gathering points and resource centers. Our libraries are also the only source for high speed internet for many, many Mendocino County residents.

But where are the books, you ask. Out in homes throughout the county. Since the Measure A money arrived over $1 million has been spent on new books and other circulating material (DVDs, audiobooks, etc.) You ask about the Bookmobile and we can tell you 1) that the Bookmobile would not be on the road without the sales tax funding and 2) that every item on it is a post-Measure A purchase. Lots of bestsellers, but also books by local writers, graphic novels, children's books, how-to guides and more. Much of this is available online so you don't even need to  come into a branch. Our interchange with Sonoma County and programs like ZIP bring requested books to any reader with a free library card.      So contrary to your fears, adults are in charge. Professional librarians are in charge. The Library Advisory Board has and will continue to look at ways of improving our library system. One item atop our current agenda is supporting a new branch in Laytonville.

We will pass on to the librarians that you would like some pressers highlighting new books.

Thanks again for your support.

Michael Schaeffer, Comptche

5th District representative on the

Mendocino County Library Advisory Board

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To the Editor:

I have a few questions about all of the water trucks delivering water to various prolific gardens around the county. Who’s water are they hauling? If from city wells and water districts, are they paying for it?

In Redwood Valley there is a hydrant on School Way that almost always has a fire hose attached, waiting for the truck to come back. The last few years RV residents were charged a penalty if they went over their monthly quota of water usage for the month. Who is paying for those loads out of that hydrant?

Willits hydrants are being used as well. Is the city being reimbursed for all of that water?

In my rural Ridgewood subdivision (south of Willits) I counted 23 water trucks come in recently. Just one day. The damage they are inflicting on our roads is very worrisome. In the spring I called Mr. Dashiell from our county roads department to discuss the deteriorating conditions of our roads that had been damaged by the heavy winter rains. He said most roads in the county had been hit with damage. I was told there was no money to fix them. That there would be “bandaid” fixes and that was about it.

Now the water trucks are finishing them off. The truck that delivers next door to me once a week, parks against the asphalt curb in front of my house. This curb, that protects my driveway during downpours, is crumbling and breaking down. Who will fix that?

Who’s going to be responsible for these soon to be impassible roads? Once winter hits again they are toast. I’ve been told to call all the agencies, call the supervisors, call call, call… Calls do not seem to be the answer. Everyone seems to know what is going on. But no one seems to be taking action.

Roni McFadden


MARK SCARAMELLA NOTES: The County could start by posting vehicle weight limits on County roads. Caltrans already puts weight limits on state highways, but those are probably too high for our deteriorated County roads. California Vehicle Code: “The gross weight on any one axle shall not exceed 20,000 pounds, and the gross weight upon any one wheel, or wheels, supporting one end of an axle, shall not exceed 10,500 pounds.” There would be some enforcement challenges, of course, but if neighbors saw overweight water trucks on their roads they could take photos of them with the plates and report them for starters. 

Most standard water trucks range from 2,000 gallons to 4,000 gallons. A 4,000 gallon water truck when full carries up to 32,000 pounds of water (plus the heavy truck). Water is very dense and heavy. Roads with steeper grades would need substantially lower weight limits. Some roads should prohibit water trucks in the rainy season. Some roads should simply prohibit water trucks except for emergencies. If our supervisors — whose job title is a shortened version of “road supervisor” from the early days — wanted to help (and they probably don’t) they could ask the Transportation Department to propose some rules — after all, everyone admits the county’s roads are in bad shape and some attempt to reduce further damage would certainly be worth pursuing. We’re pretty sure neighbors would be happy to provide suggestions for their own roads.

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To The Editor:

The November ballot will have a measure to decide with or not to build a $30 million (estimated cost) building to be a mental health facility paid for with increased sales taxes.

Now that psychiatry has become an arm of the phrarmaceutical industry (as Dr. Peter Breggin so convincgly argues in his book, “Medication Madness”), it is appropriate to consider that public safety is being harmed by the drugs so easily distributed by doctors who are being deceived by the pharmaceutical industry. In some people these very common antidepressants, antipsychotics, mood elevators and tranquilizers CAUSE suicide, violent behavior and murder. We may ratioanlly consider each mass murder event in terms of psychiatric drug use, also, each suicide. The same drugs may help some people, for many there are better ways to help.

The psychiatric drug companies can not possibly pay to correct all the harm they do to individuals, families and communities. This proposed centralized facility risks being an outpost of the pharmaceutical industry. Maybe they should pay for it.

Patricia Freeman


ED NOTE: The implication that a mental health facility will lead to increased use of psychiatric pharmaceuticals is a stretch beyond reason. To link this much needed facility to the harms associated with psychiatric drugs is unfair, and has nothing to do with the pros or cons of Measure B.

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