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Off the Record (Nov. 15, 2017)

DR. PETER KEEGAN has died from the cancer he suffered from over the past year. A Mendocino County criminal grand jury had indicted Keegan for the murder of his wife of 32 years, Susan. Dr. Keegan had pled not guilty to the charges.

MRS. KEEGAN was found dead in the couple's South Ukiah home on November 10, 2010. A long-time inland general practitioner whose patients were a virtual Who's Who of liberal Ukiah, the doctor said his wife, and the mother of the couple's two sons, had fallen in the bathroom adjoining her bedroom and struck her head with sufficient force to kill her. Keegan told police his wife had been under the combined influence of alcohol and prescription drugs when she died.

FAMILY and friends of Mrs. Keegan were immediately suspicious. DA David Eyster, elected soon after Mrs. Keegan's improbable death — she was not a heavy drinker or drug user — immediately began a thorough re-investigation of the case. The results of that investigation were presented to a specially convened grand jury in early August of this year by prosecutor Tim Stoen. The grand jury agreed that Dr. Keegan should be indicted for murder.

SOMETHING of a social and professional pariah since the death of his popular wife, Keegan, prior to his illness, had functioned as a part-time doctor with the Indian Health Clinic in Covelo.

MEASURE B has passed overwhelmingly into law, meaning that Mendocino County will eventually boast its own in-County mental health facility.  Presently, Mendo’s mentally ill are shipped to distant facilities for “treatment” at rates of $800 a day and up and, typically, returned to Mendocino County no better than they left.

THE UKIAH VALLEY Sanitation District Board election unseated three incumbents for three new Board members — Ukiah contractor Ernie Wipf, Julie Bawcom and Andrea Reed. Voters expect them to make a good faith effort to resolve the multi-million dollar dispute between the District and the City of Ukiah for a minimum of additional legal fees, after spending several millions on a pointless dispute between overlapping sanitation districts.

A WILLITS READER NOTES: "Well…It seems the Sheriff’s mental tax has passed. His tireless efforts have paid a huge dividend for him, or so it seems, thanks to his army of gushing groupies. As for an acknowledged NO voter, I will watch with interest how a county who can’t even manage a museum, let alone its satellite phones, deals with the complex issues of mental health."

WE SHARE some of the above reader's concerns. Mendocino County's mental health efforts have never inspired much confidence. Millions of public dollars have simply disappeared into the gaping maw of unverified services rendered, but still we think Measure B will be a step forward, less expensive and more humane than shipping the mentally troubled to distant for-profit facilities.

WE'RE PLEASED that Measure B has passed, although it will take our slo-mo elections office some time to officially confirm the good news. That it did pass is due in large part to Sheriff Allman's tireless campaigning for it, and we'll note here that in "progressive" Mendocino County it took a cop to get a humane approach to in-County mental illness funded. Allman was able to convert the widespread public perception that the present approach to local mental health crises is a sad, expensive joke on the mentally ill, whose  psychotropic drugs are presently re-calibrated in Yuba City or wherever as they are shipped back to Mendo in no better shape than when they left for "treatment." With our own in-County facility, we can monitor its functioning — whether or not it's being properly run, whether or not it's helpful to the afflicted and their families. As is, there is no monitoring, zero accountability.

LOTS OF VISQUEEN sheeting has been placed on hundreds of properties in the Tomki Creek Watershed, Redwood Valley. CalFire told the Board of Supervisors last week that covering the burned out areas will help keep polluted ash from running off into the creek. The sheeting of the debris will be in place until Army Corps of Engineer's crews can get to the burned out properties. What happens to all the plastic after the debris removal wasn’t mentioned.

CLEARLY a serious effort is being made to stabilize burned areas, and Calfire insists that keeping the debris covered is the highest priority. There’s still a lot of concern about erosion and runoff from burned out non-structural areas as the rains begin. It's impressive how quickly the County and various agencies have moved to begin the long recovery from Mendocino County's biggest disaster ever. (ms)

SERENDIPITY. We'd just finished a discussion pegged to the question, “Why are all mass murderers white guys?,” when the multi-millionaire radical, Amy Goodman, comes on the radio with a black professor who said he'd been suspended from his job at Drexel University for leading the same discussion. I'm surprised it's still a discussion, let alone a firing offense. For spectacular, murderous lunacy, Whitey has never been challenged for first place. Who could argue, who could possibly be offended at that simple statement of American fact? Mass killers as far back as the Zodiac killer, the all-time lunatic purely in terms of creativity, and they're all white. I couldn't even think of a black maniac, or an Asian maniac, or a Mexican maniac. Whitey's long been Number One for murdering large numbers of people in one go. Zodiac, of course, was more discriminating. He picked off strangers one and two at a time, then wrote macabre, triumphant letters to Chronicle columnist Herb Caen threatening to kill more people. In one letter he threatened to shoot whole school buses of children. That threat terrorized the entire Greater Bay Area.

GOING DEEP HERE, the only way to keep mass shootings to a reasonable minimum is to… reorganize our society in a way that does not promote mental illness. Since that's not likely to happen short of revolution, and revolution being unlikely, mass atrocities carried out by lonely, isolated white boys will go on and on, with Islamic terrorists taking up the slack in between church shootings. Of course sensible gun control laws would help, but the gun horse left the arsenal barn years ago. Mental illness background checks would also help weed out a few lunatics, but even that commonsense requirement is resisted by Big Gun.

MANY OF THE GUN PEOPLE I know inevitably defend their arsenals with versions of, “Look what happened to Reginald Denny in the ’92 riots in LA. It’s crazy to expect government to protect you anymore, it’s really is up to you to defend yourselves and your families.” You can call it white paranoia but it’s out there in millions of white people, and not just white people.

NOTE to would-be Mendo politicians: there's no better way to learn about this vast place than via high school sports, from Point Arena to Laytonville, to Mendocino to Covelo, to Boonville. The present superintendent of County Schools, Warren Galletti, parlayed his years as basketball coach at Point Arena into a cush job for himself, one of the highest paid in the County, a job with no discernible duties, a job with a big office and a phone that never rings. All Galletti has to do is go to an occasional free donut meeting and say something like, "I think it's time we interfaced with the new paradigms," and he's nailed it for another four years. At vote time, he not only had County jockdom sewed up, he had name recognition in every community from Gualala to the east end of Spy Rock and all points in between.

SHERIFF ALLMAN delivered an hour-long slide presentation recapping the first 12 hours of the Redwood/Potter Valley fires Thursday morning. The on-line video presentation followed a series of flow charts along an hour by hour timeline starting at a little after 11:30 on Sunday night, October 8, into the following Monday morning. The flow charts were color coded to indicate the Potter Valley side and the Redwood Valley side. (They eventually merged into the Redwood Potter Complex fire.) Reportedly, the slide presentation will be posted on the County’s website in the next few days.

THERE WASN’T MUCH in the presentation that would be new to anyone who followed the fires at the time, although there were quite a few additional details about the initial response. The Sheriff played a dashcam video of a Deputy driving through the Tomki Road area of Redwood Valley using the deputy’s patrol car’s loudspeaker announcing the mandatory evacuation early Monday morning as burning embers blew by. It’s hard to know how many people may have heard these warnings. Allman noted that his deputies had no intention of dragging anyone out of the fire zone because people must still exercise good judgment and anything like that would just take time away from more important tasks.

THE SHERIFF made the point that the fires and their terrible effects were the result of an unusually dangerous combination of very dry conditions, lots of dry “fuel” (i.e., grass and brush), high winds, timing, geography, remote location, and the fact that mutual aid resources were hard to come by because most of the neighboring firefighters in Lake, Napa and Sonoma counties were already called away to work on fires in those counties.

AFTER THE PRESENTATION, an audience member asked about warning sirens. Allman said that decades ago the County had air raid sirens but they had been removed due to noise complaints from neighbors. Potter Valley fire chief Bill Pauli added that Potter Valley has an “antiquated” manually operated siren but he made the conscious decision not to use it because it would not have been clear what it meant, adding that roads were obstructed and people reacting without knowing what the siren meant might make travel even more difficult than it already was. A commenter who was watching the video on line said that the Redwood Valley Fire Department had made the same decision. Allman said he’s had some preliminary discussions with District Attorney David Eyster about how a more modern warning siren/system could be funded, but that ultimately it will be up to the Board of Supervisors. Meanwhile Allman urged residents to sign up for the County’s reverse 911 system on the County’s website.

TOWARD THE END of the presentation Allman made the ominous observation that “I know some people are watching this video for purposes of possible litigation.” Allman said there are certainly “lessons learned” such as figuring out a way to have patrol sergeants (especially on night shifts) to initialize the “reverse 911” notification system in an emergency, but he didn’t want to criticize other departments nor itemize any other specific shortfalls. There will always be Monday morning quarterbacks (in this case literally on Monday morning, October 9), but we are not aware of any significant actions or omissions on the part of local authorities during those first critical hours of the response that would rise to anywhere near genuine liability. In fact, given the circumstances and limitations, we think everyone involved responded commendably.

IF THERE’S ANY REAL LESSON to be learned, we’d say that this terrible event should prove conclusively that the County and the Board of Supervisors have to stop nickel-nosing the County’s widespread fire and emergency responders about how much of the “public safety” sales tax revenues from Proposition 172 should go to local fire departments. All of Mendo’s rural fire departments operate efficiently and on a shoestring with heavy volunteer and donated bake-sale size contributions. And it’s clear, given climate change, drought and development patterns, that more fire emergencies are inevitable, so Mendo should join with rest of California counties and make a permanent substantial allocation of the approximately $8 million annual Prop 172 dollars to local fire departments.

IN A RELATED DEVELOPMENT, we’ve heard from some local fire district officials that the Prop 172 allocation has become so muddled and bureaucratic they’ve nearly given up on trying to make any headway on what should be a no-brainer of an issue. (At present all of Mendo’s Prop 172 money goes to law enforcement even though the proposition was sold as a “public safety” tax and included firefighters in the promotional materials.) So now there’s some early interest in promoting a ballot measure that would bump the Bed Tax (Transient Occupancy Tax) up from 10% to 12% and have the additional funds earmarked for fire departments. We’ve also heard that there’s confusion about whether the last two years of Advance Life Support supplemental ambulance funding will be forthcoming in light of the ongoing delays in implementing the inland Exclusive (Ambulance) Operating Area (EOA).

WHICHEVER WAY these funding ideas go, it’s long past time for the Supervisors to get their priorities straight and spend a little less time on the minutiae of pot regulation and figure out a reliable way to make sure local fire departments are fairly and adequately funded — particularly now in the aftermath of the October fires and the likelihood of more to come. (ms)

I KNOW I'm way past my pull date, but I don't recognize many celebs, and the few I do recognize are obviously harbingers of The Last Days. Gore Vidal had it right: "Lack of talent is no longer enough." Maybe this Louis C.K. guy is funny, I have no idea, but he's among the latest pervs outted by The New York Times. His mea culpa is a minor masterpiece of evasion and lacks, utterly, meaningful contrition. Obviously his lawyers got together with Dr. Phil, assisted by Dr. Joyce Brothers, to come up with this faux naive evasion: “….These stories are true. At the time, I said to myself that what I did was okay because I never showed a woman my (penis) without asking first, which is also true. But what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your (penis) isn't a question. It's a predicament for them. The power I had over these women is that they admired me. And I wielded that power irresponsibly.” How old is this guy?

GARY MEDVIGY is both a retired Santa Rosa judge and a reserve Army general. He's also a demagogue. Medvigy was lead speaker at a Veteran's Day lunch in the Rose City. "He said he noticed that when a Coast Guard honor guard presented the American flag at the outset of the luncheon and vocalist Mark Kratz sang the National Anthem, no one present took a knee. Alluding to the socio-political phenomenon of professional football players and other kneeling during the singing or playing of 'The Star-Spangled Banner,' Medvigy said to applause, 'I will never take a knee or tolerate those who do.'"

EXCUSE ME, JUDGE, free expression is supposed to be the point of this here country, but his honor moved from that gust of pure wind to the straight-up lie these windbags inevitably recite on Veteran’s Day.

"HE THANKED local Rotary and Kiwanis clubs for hosting the Tribute to our Veterans lunch and offered special acknowledgment to Vietnam War veterans, some of whom, he observed, were wrongly spat upon or in other ways abused by people who opposed that war."

NOPE. NEVER HAPPENED. Please see this book we thought established for all time that nobody once, anywhere in the country, spit on a veteran returned from the War On Vietnam: The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory and the Legacy of Vietnam (1998) by Vietnam veteran and Sociology professor Jerry Lembcke.

LRAD 100x

A READER ASKS: "The Sheriff’s Office purchased an LRAD (Long range audio device) which might have been used to tell Potter and Redwood valley residents about evacuation orders and imminent fire dangers. But it sat on the shelf as I understand, because the BOS needs to adopt policy/procedure around its use, (which has not yet been put forward by the CEO)." Yeah, probably. It ought to be made available for next fire season, for sure.

GUNNY JOE: A Marine Corps drill instructor is on trial for physically abusing a series of young recruits, sometimes while drunk, and focusing his fury on three Muslim-American recruits. An eight-man jury at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, determined that Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Felix was guilty of hazing and maltreatment of recruits at the Marine Corps' Parris Island, South Carolina, boot camp. The jury of five sergeants and three officers decided Felix punched, kicked and choked military hopefuls…"

UH, ER, back in the Old Corps, this stuff was ho hum. I went through boot camp in 1957, at the time 15 weeks of daily punches, kicks and creative chokes. And, as Meg Courtney might confirm, "totally inappropriate" verbal abuse. All recruits from California were addressed as "California queers sent to sabotage my Marine Corp." Truth to tell, I thought a lot of the insults were funny as hell. One day, Sgt. Wells, in a true paroxysm of frustration, called us "a bunch of syphilitic misfucks."

THE BEATINGS were much less amusing because, on some occasions, it wasn't clear if they'd stop. Several times, a DI named Magoo had to be pulled off recruits he was beating. I got smacked almost daily the whole way, as did everyone else in my platoon, some guys more than others. I got hit with rifles, fists, locker boxes and, on one occasion, a metal folding chair. And knocked out twice by this little British psycho named Sgt. Haughton who liked to choke out the tall guys by twisting  our fatigue collars around our throats until we passed out at his feet.

GUNNERY SGT FELIX is in the grand tradition, although his stuffing a Pakistani kid into an industrial clothes drier and turning it on until the boy renounced Islam, is a departure even by Marine Corps standards. Imagine standing at attention and being forced to instant obedience while these nuts do this stuff to you.

THE BOOT CAMP THEORY was/is that people who couldn't take it wouldn't be able to endure combat. Myself, I don't think you motivate people by beating the shit out of them, but I guess the Marines still think it's the way to instill discipline and group cohesion. When we got live ammo at the rifle range, the DI's took a couple of weeks off. They knew there were people in our platoon who would shoot them at the first opportunity.

JUDGE ROY MOORE, the Bible-brandishing Alabama candidate for the Senate, reminds me of what my late comrade, Alexander Cockburn, used to say: "Whenever you see someone on national television talking about morality and citing the Bible, start the countdown. It's only a matter of time before he's caught in the backseat with a prostitute." In Moore's case, he was "dating" a 14-year-old.

JEFF BLANKFORT said the best book on the Kennedy Assassination was JFK and the Unspeakable — Why He Died and Why It Matters by James W. Douglas. It's the first book on the subject I've read in a long time and, to this reader anyway, contains great swathes of new information, especially on Oswald, obtained from previously sequestered files on the murder. It's now beyond all doubt that Oswald was recruited by the CIA as a double agent, funded by them in fact, that he would pose as a convert to Soviet communism by trading radar secrets to the Russians he'd gotten as a Marine in Japan. Oswald's ease of return when he'd had enough of Russia only makes sense if he was working for American intelligence all along. I'm only on page 163 of a long book by the Catholic Worker who wrote it, a big plus to me because I have yet to meet a Catholic Worker who was not a trustworthy person. In fact, you can read JFK and the Unspeakable as a Catholic guide to the event, complete with long riffs by and about Thomas Merton. The theme throughout is that JFK wanted to get out of Vietnam, which he rightly saw as an endless quagmire. And he wanted to work with the Russians to end the Cold War, and he also wanted to dismantle, or at least get control over a rogue CIA. Kennedy's secret war with the malign forces in American government got him killed. These forces, led by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and murks high up in the "intelligence community," tried to suck Kennedy into an all-out invasion of Cuba even if it meant taking on the Russians which, of course, to all rational people everywhere, would mean millions of people dead in likely nuclear exchanges. It's a fascinating account of the Kennedy Assassination based on the latest revelations of material that had been stuck away as too dangerous for everyday Americans to read. I can see why it was put away for sixty years as top secret because what it all means is that our own government killed a president they feared would turn the great ship of state in the direction of peaceful co-existence. On the other hand, unexplained characters and unsupported theories of who was doing what are also plentiful in this most interesting and useful book.

MANY OF US have at least suspected that our government is dominated by criminals and psychopaths, and along come two more books leading to that inevitable conclusion: One Man Against the World — the Tragedy of Richard Nixon by Tim Weiner and Crisis of Character: A White House Secret Service Officer Discloses… by Gary J. Byrne. The Nixon book confirms what most of us know — Nixon was 5150 during his last couple of years in office, heavily medicated and drinking on top of his meds. Imagine Trump drunk and basically you have Nixon who, of course, was a lot smarter than Trump, but with the same bad instincts as Trump. And drunk. The Secret Service guy's book merely confirms that the Clintons are the all-round worst people ever to inhabit the White House. Trump's policies and aspects of his behavior are frightening, but he's a model of personal decorum put alongside the Clintons.

A NOTE on why Mendocino County's roads are so bad, especially the Comptche-Ukiah Road and the Greenwood Road. In short, it's because County government is too big and pays its managers too much, and because more and more money has to be diverted from the County's general fund to keep the County's retirement fund solvent. Most county governments up and down the state are in the same situation — less money for services rendered, more money for government itself.

ON THE RECOMMENDATION of a friend I took in the Joan Didion documentary available on Netflix. Like everyone else I admire her work, and nobody caught the fleeting hippie zietgiest better than she did in Slouching Toward Bethlehem. But for a biographical film I thought it brought up more issues than it answered — her emaciation, for one thing — and, if you didn't know she was a writer, the film could have been about any wealthy, sophisticated eccentric. Nobody's written more poignantly on loss, in Didion's case her husband, John Gregory Dunne, and her daughter Quintana Roo who died in the same month.

THE LATEST WRINKLE in cynicism from our elected class is the town hall meeting — the appearance of concern and action without doing anything about whatever the crisis is. Mike McGuire is the fresh-faced Healdsburg guy foisted off on us by the Northcoast's Democrat machine as our State Senator. The following is perfect McGuire-Wood-Huffman-Mike Thompson...

McGUIRE’S OFFICE got out this minor masterpiece of pure insincerity last week:

The opioid crisis has hit California hard, and in Humboldt County the impact is even more devastating — the county has the second highest rate of opioid overdoses in the state per capita. That’s why Senator McGuire and Humboldt County Supervisor Virginia Bass, are bringing the community together for a collaborative conversation about this statewide crisis and how we can work to advance solutions here on the North Coast….

AND BRINGING the community together to advance solutions in collaborative conversation blah blah blah. What's the solution to the despair that propels people to drug and alcohol addiction? Mull this over, little guy. Writer James Kunstler puts his finger right on it: "Our practices and habits in place-making the past half century have resulted in human habitat that is ecologically catastrophic, economically insane, socially toxic, spiritually degrading, and fundamentally unsustainable…"


I was watching one of those political gabfests today — I think it was Face the Nation — the one hosted by Chuck Todd — Eugene Robinson and Peggy Noonan were guests, smug sonabitches wreaking of condescension; it’s pretty clear they think they’ve got Trump on the run and will be getting rid of him soon via Mueller’s investigation. They could hardly contain the glee they felt, not a word about misconduct by H Clinton or any Democrats. We’ll never get rid of these Swamp Creatures as they’re too deeply entrenched. It looks like the big revolution to upend the country and topple President Trump on Nov 4 fizzled out. What a bunch of wusses these modern day leftist revolutionaries turn out to be, not a two fisted Joe Hill, Big Bill Haywood or Jack London amongst the lot of them. (But there might be a Leon Czolgosz in that rabble)

What did ee cummings call western red toadies in Moscow in the 30s, running flak for the commies?: Unmen, unpeople.

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