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AVUSD NEWS FOR THE WEEK OF DECEMBER 11
Decisions from the December 12 Board Meeting
Three new Board Members were sworn in last night. Please give a big Panther welcome to Saoirse [rhymes with inertia] Byrne, Kristy Hotchkiss and Craig Walker. During the Organizational Meeting, Wynne Crissman was elected Board President and Richard Browning elected Board Clerk. Congratulations to both of them.
The Consent Agenda contained the typical items of Minutes, Warrants and Budget Transfers. In addition, the Board approved the hiring of an Adult School Basic Computer Skills Class Instructor and accepted the resignation of Kristina Long, SPED Resource Teacher at AVHS.
New Action Items considered by the Board:
[x] Moved the regularly scheduled Board Meetings to the second Wednesday of each month with the exception of January, March and June. January’s Board Meeting will be held on January 17 to accommodate the Winter Break. New Board Calendar will be available on the District’s Website.
[x] Approved the purchase of additional security cameras at AVHS to double the video surveillance coverage. Project not to exceed $3,000.
[x] Reorganized the Transportation Department to stabilize Home to School Transportation, provide new drivers routine routes under mentorship of a senior driver, while utilizing a senior driver for all sports and field trips.
[x] Approved an MOU with CSEA to permanently remove the 4.5 hour Water Specialist Position from the unit, move the employee assigned to 3 hour Maintenance Person to the vacant 3 hour Grounds II, and expand the vacated 3 hour Maintenance Person to an 8 hour Maintenance Specialist. The Board reviewed research on maintenance staffing formulas and concluded an additional Maintenance Specialist is needed to properly maintain our facilities.
[x] Entered into a contract with David Redding, T2 Water Systems Operator, to provide general administration of the water systems to maintain effective operations and to treat the water to ensure availability of a clean water supply. Contract cost is $600 per month.
Meeting adjourned at 10:45 pm.
AS 'EPIC WINDS' DRIVE CALIFORNIA FIRES, CLIMATE CHANGE FUELS THE RISK
Santa Ana winds are whipping up wildfires in Southern California after a devastating season in wine country. Rising temps can make the West dangerously combustible.
LEAVE CLASS K ALONE
At a recent hearing with Supervisors Hamburg and McCowen, the proposed changes to our Class K ordinance were discussed and members of the public were allowed to comment. The supervisors have been gathering information to support or challenge the changes. Out of approximately 12 speakers, only one was for the changes (North Coast Builders Exchange). The rest argued for the continued use of Class K, unaltered. The changes proposed would basically gut the ordinance, requiring many of the code requirements which make building a home so expensive today.
As a builder of 40 years in Mendocino County, I've seen the code morph from a simple easy to read manual to a multiple volume set of unreadable regulations (most of which are promoted by the lobbying efforts of special interests), making the process of building a home ever more onerous and expensive. If our county wishes to promote affordable housing, which it is mandated to do, then they should not consider these changes.
Call or, better yet, write your supervisor and express your concerns, or our county will fall further behind in providing safe affordable housing for our residents.
SONOMA HOMELESS MAN ACCUSED OF ARSON BUT NO LINK SO FAR TO MASSIVE WINE COUNTRY WILDFIRES
MY FATHER'S ONE-LINERS
by Jeff Costello
Several things my father said repeatedly occur to me. The first piece of useful information I recall him passing along, was "Hold your sleeves" when putting on a second or third layer of clothing. I got this one right away, with good results.
He taught me to cook at a young age, a very useful skill but not a one-liner like "Nobody likes a smartass." It took me a long time to absorb this basic truth. Other than "hold your sleeves," I have spent my life learning and relearning the truth of the one-liners. "Never do a half-assed job."
"Be patient." The companion piece to this was "If you're worried or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout."
He had a poster on the wall down in the cellar (down-cella in New England speak), where there was a workshop, not with a table saw or mechanic's tools, but with equipment for use in electronic pursuits. Soldering irons and such. Resistors, capacitors, transformers. An oscilloscope. The poster was a cartoon picture of a boy with a dumb grin on his face, an apple on top of his head, and an arrow through his forehead, and sticking out the back. The caption was "Keep Smiling, Have Faith."
"Never do a half-assed job." This can be a complex issue depending on skills and interests. We tend to do better work when we're interested, although some people seem able to fix or build anything. I am not one of those guys, so it's better to choose projects or tasks accordingly.
Still, I've done a lot of half-assed jobs in my time, painfully learning what I should or should not try to do. And there's where patience comes in.
"Be patient." "Have patience" might be a better way to put it. But that is one of my natural abilities, the use of the English language.
This was inherited from my mother - a sharp-tongued daughter of a Scottish immigrant - who had no patience with stupidity or bullshit. During one of the periods of civil rights unrest in the deep south, she heard some white Alabama KKK type on TV saying "I think the niggers should all go back to Africa." Aside from the fact of how Africans got here in the first place, her immediate comment was, "There they are on national television, calling them 'niggers'." To my ten-year old mind, her tone of voice seemed to cover the topic pretty well. As to my developing patience, it's taken a long time, to the point where everyone rushing around like headless chickens, has become pretty damn annoying. Some things are harder to have patience with than others. Part of learning to have patience was finding out what I should or should not attempt. A good way to avoid the half-assed job.
I still hold my sleeves, too.
COMMUNITY FOUNDATION ACCEPTING GRANTS PROPOSALS FROM LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS
2018 Field of Interest Grant Program Guidelines and Application Now Available
Ukiah, CA - The Community Foundation of Mendocino County is pleased to announce $57,000 in available funding from its Field-of-Interest grant program. Field-of-Interest Funds are established to make grants in specified areas of interest (e.g., the environment or human services), or specified geographical areas, or both. This is the third year the Community Foundation has run this competitive grant program and includes one new fund (The Environmental Education and Conservation Fund). Non-profit organizations from throughout Mendocino County are invited to submit proposals online by January 26, 2018 by 5:00 p.m.
Grants will be available from 11 different Field-of-Interest Funds thanks to the A.D. Abramson Endowment Fund for the Visual Arts, the Blood Bank of the Redwoods Legacy Fund, the Charles B. Flynn and Walker B.Tilley Fund for Sustainable Forestry, the Environmental Education and Conservation Fund, Jane Anderson Developmental Disability Fund,the Haigh-Scatena Youth Leadership, Empowerment, and Advocacy Fund, the John and Sandra Mayfield Family Economic Development Fund, the Judy Pruden Historical Preservation Fund, the Charles B. Flynn and Walker B.Tilley Fund for Sustainable Forestry, the Fund for Trails and Open Space, and the Saturday Afternoon Club Endowment Fund.
Available funding includes:
* A.D. Abramson Endowment Fund for the Visual Arts: total $5,000; grant range $2,500 -$5,000 per work of art
* Blood Bank of the Redwoods Legacy Fund: total $14,500; grant range $500-$5,000
* Charles B. Flinn and Walker B. Tilley Fund for Sustainable Forestry: total $5,000; grant range $500-$5,000
* Environmental Education and Conservation Fund: total $7,500; grant range $1,000-$5,000
* Environmental Education and Conservation Fund: Mendocino County ReLeaf Tree Planting total $3,000; grant range $1,000-$3,000
* Fraeda Dubin and Pat Denny Endowment Funds: total $5,000; grant range $500-$5,000
* Fund for Trails and Open Space: total $1,000; grant range $500-$1,000
* Haigh-Scatena Youth Leadership, Empowerment, and Advocacy Fund: total $1,500; grant range $500-$1,500
* Jane Anderson Developmental Disability Fund: total $1,500; grant range $500-1,500
* John and Sandra Mayfield Family Economic Development Fund: total $10,000; grant range $5,000-$10,000
* Judy Pruden Historical Preservation Fund: total $2,000; grant range $500-$2,000
* Saturday Afternoon Club Endowment Fund: total $1,000; grant range $500-$1,000
Guidelines and a link to the online application are available at www.communityfound.org
Questions about eligibility, guidelines or the application may be directed to Michelle Rich, Senior Program Officer, at (707) 468-9882. Field-of-Interest funds are created with a specific area of interest in mind, but anyone can contribute to these funds. You can join with others who have a shared passion to help your giving go further together. In addition to the eleven funds accepting applications now, there are many more Field-of-Interest funds to choose from, representing diverse areas of interest such as the arts, providing basic needs, and promoting animal welfare.
For more information about applying to the Field-of Interest grant program or about how you can make a gift to any of the Field-of-Interest funds, visit www.communityfound.org
The Community Foundation of Mendocino County
204 South Oak Street · Ukiah, CA 95482 · (707) 468-9882
DEBRIS REMOVAL PROGRAM UPDATE FOR MENDOCINO COUNTY
The County is in Phase II of the Debris Removal Program resulting from the wildfires in October 2017. Phase II is the removal of fire-related debris from structures destroyed by the fire, and is managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) under the direction of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Below is important information on the Debris Removal process in Mendocino County.
USACE is committed to completing the mission in early 2018 to help communities prepare for rebuilding.
Property owners with questions about eligibility, operations or other concerns can contact the USACE Debris Removal Information Line at 877-875-7681. The line is staffed 8 a.m. – 7 p.m., 7 days a week.
Debris removal is not the only component of the process – other ongoing actions include site assessments; EPA asbestos removal; soil testing; and installation of final erosion control measures after all the debris removal is complete.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), with the support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has launched a website designed to give a quick view of the status of debris removal by parcel in Lake, Mendocino, Napa and Sonoma counties. Owners can see the status of their property by visiting http://www.spk.usace.army.mil/CAwildfire and clicking on the Status Map button. The site also shows:
o Right-of-Entry (ROE) forms processed; meaning an ROE form has been received by the county and sent to USACE for processing.
o Parcel in process; which means the site is somewhere in the process for the site assessment, initial soil sampling and debris removal has begun.
o Confirmation sampling pending; meaning debris removal has been completed and final soil sampling is being conducted.
o Parcel transferred to County; which means that a letter has been sent to the County stating that the site has passed final testing and the parcel has been cleared
During the clean-up, homeowners should expect to see contractors and staff from the US Army Corps of Engineers in the area. Both the contractors and Army Corps of Engineers employees will be carrying identification and will also be wearing visibility clothing with logos.
After USACE received the debris removal mission assignment from FEMA in late October 2017, they utilized the USACE Advanced Contracting Initiative (ACI) to award task orders (contracts) to ECC and AshBritt to jumpstart the debris removal process.
These task orders have financial limits and ECC, which started debris removal operations first, is approaching the limit of its task order. The public will see some adjustments in how and where their ECC crews operate. ECC will complete removal on all properties on which it has begun debris clearance.
USACE recently awarded a new contract to AshBritt which will now be working in all four counties, not just Sonoma County as initially assigned.
There will be changes in debris removal activity for a few weeks during the transition to this new contract. AshBritt is mobilizing in Mendocino County. For those wishing to pursue subcontracting opportunities, individuals should contact AshBritt at www.ashbritt.com or (954) 725-6992.
Anyone who has questions can call the USACE debris removal line at 877-875-7681 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. or email USACESupporttoMendocino@usace.army.mil.
(Photo by Susie de Castro)
CERTAIN TO INSPIRE A TORRENT OF ABUSE FROM HOSPITAL CRITICS…
Mendocino Coast District Hospital Receives $315,038.55 Incentive Payment for Excellent Care
Fort Bragg, CA - December 13, 2017 - Mendocino Coast District Hospital (MCDH) is proud to announce that they have been awarded a $315,038.55 incentive payment from Partnership HealthPlan of California in recognition of excellent care provided by their team from July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017. The incentives provided through the Hospital Quality Improvement Program (QIP) are separate and distinct from the hospital's usual reimbursement.
QIP is administered in collaboration with Partnership HealthPlan of California (PHC). This program offers substantial financial incentives and technical assistance to primary care providers who serve capitated Medi-Cal members. To receive these incentives, significant improvements must be made in prevention and screening, chronic disease management, appropriate use of resources, primary care access and operations, patient experience and advanced care planning.
PHC is a non-profit community based health care organization that contracts with the State of California to administer Medi-Cal benefits through local care providers to ensure Medi-Cal recipients have access to high-quality comprehensive cost-effective health care. PHC budgets an additional 6% of the capitation payment to hospitals and sets that aside for QIP. The entire incentive pool is distributed among participants, based on the score each hospital attained, as well as the performance of other participating hospitals.
PHC provides quality health care to over 570,000 lives in California. Beginning in Solano County back in 1994, PHC now provides services to 14 Northern California counties including Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Marin, Mendocino, Modoc, Napa, Shasta, Siskiyou, Solano, Sonoma, Trinity and Yolo. PHC remains committed to three focus areas: high-quality health care, operational excellence, and financial stewardship.
MCDH received their bonus for an overall score of 100/100 on the following criteria:
- All cause 30-day readmit rate of 10.6%. Goal<13%
- Percent eTAR submission score of 94.2%. Goal>85% The 30-day All Cause Hospital Readmission measure is a standardized readmission rate for beneficiaries age 65 or older who were hospitalized at an acute-care hospital and experienced an unplanned readmission for any cause to an acute-care hospital within 30 days of discharge.
An Electronic Treatment Authorization Request (eTAR) allows health care organizations to process, create, update, inquire and view responses for TARs online. Using the eTAR system eliminates mail and paper processing time.
"We are constantly working to improve our quality of care and the patient experience. In this instance, we were able to do this and also increase the bottom line by over $315,000. We are very happy and thankful that through their hard work and commitment to excellence, our team was able to reach the lofty goals set by Partnership HealthPlan and the Hospital Quality Improvement Program," commented Bob Edwards, CEO.
For questions or for more information, please email HQIP@partnershiphp.org or call 707.863.4100.
Doug Shald, Director PR & Marketing Communications, Mendocino Coast District Hospital, 707.961.4961
(Photo by Susie de Castro)
BOONVILLE QUIZ THURSDAY NIGHT
It's baaaaak! The General Knowledge and Trivia Quiz will return to Lauren's Restaurant tomorrow, Thursday, December 14th at 7pm prompt. I imagine your brain will need exercise to stay alert as the holiday period gets crazier by the day, so come along and give it a workout, and may be win a prize for doing so! We are doing two quizzes this month, with the next one on the 4th Thursday, December 28th. Hope to see you at one or both.
The Q.M./Steve Sparks.
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “Look how fat the deadbeat cat is, and look at me slim and trim. I work, he eats. Not to be a species-ist about it, but that's the difference between honest dogs and deadbeat cats.”
LOTS of Fort Braggers were understandably indignant when a repeat misdemeanant named Ricky Santos managed to drive his loaded self into the Christmas parade, hitting Aura Johannsen and her horse. Santos didn't stick around but was eventually arrested and charged with hit and run. And promptly released.
SGT JONATHAN McLAUGHLIN explained the catch and release to Kelci Parks of the Advocate this way: “I know there are questions as to why Santos was not charged with a felony in this case. Unfortunately, because the rider in this case was reportedly uninjured at the time of the call, the felony section does not apply as it specifically applies to a person, [rather than] an animal.”
Aura Johansen herself later wrote to MSP: "So I guess the fact that I was hit after watching him hit my horse means nothing. I was struck while attempting to get farther away from my horse. I went onto the hood of the vehicle and slid off while vehicle while it was still moving and landed on my lower back. I immediately had back pain which was stated several times at the scene. Not going into details but no ambulance was ever called to the scene. I did decline an ambulance after the officers somewhat rude offer and I did not immediately recieve medical attention as I had an injured/tramatized horse to care for. I have since sought medical care for constant lower back pain since the incident but as of yet have not gotten a diagnosis. My current priority is getting my horse and myself healthy, I am already behind on bills due to vet/doctor bills but will be seeking legal council."
* * *
A READER WONDERS? “What is with McCowen? He starts his career associating with pot growers, then he hates them, and now he loves them. You have followed his career better than anyone. Only in Mendocino?”
ED REPLY: He was probably invited to speak at the recent pot fandango in Santa Rosa. I doubt he volunteered. Maybe he will enlighten us. He’s been rather miffed with the ava lately over our criticism of the Supes’ various giveaways, a few of them absolutely indefensible via the consent calendar which, with these five, functions as a sort of automatic teller for CEO Carmel Angelo to shovel public money to favored insiders. Elected people seem to instinctively assume the prone position, even before the people they’re supposed to be supervising. Getting back to McCowen and dope, Hamburg’s the only known toker on this board, but when a large section of your constituents are involved one way or another with the miracle plant, the supervisor could hardly ignore them.
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IT’S FUN to watch the reactions of locals as the fleets of outside motorcycle cops, training on their bikes, drive up and down 128 the past two days, pausing for their breaks at the Redwood Drive-In. One guy, suddenly coming up behind on the turn south of town, slowed down conspicuously, a cop turned around and smiled.
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RECOMMENDED READING: IN THE PLACE OF JUSTICE, by Wilbert Rideau. Rideau shot and killed a white female bank teller in Lake Charles, Louisiana back in 1961 after taking three bank employees hostage. To say he had no plan doesn’t begin to describe his crime, which he relates in all its pathetic detail in his fascinating book. Rideau had just turned 19. He was barely literate, and he barely escaped execution. And, as a little guy, he escaped comparable terrors at the infamous Angola Prison, then considered absolutely medieval even by the standards of the time. But he went on to edit the famed prison newspaper, Angolite, and won a new trial after his appeals of his murder conviction failed many times, finally being convicted of manslaughter and released after 44 years inside, many of those years on Death Row. Rideau was described by one warden as “the most rehabilitated prisoner in America.” Self-taught, Rideau, became a fine writer, as you can know for yourself by reading In the Place of Justice.
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CLOSER TO HOME, we have the case of Tai Abreu of Fort Bragg whose public defender managed to convert his vague self-incrimination into a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. All three defendants in the murder of Donald Perez were found guilty of his murder, but two of three pled out, Abreu, then 19, was talked into going to trial. There is zero evidence that Abreu participated in the murder part of the scheme, but under California's murder law if you're present when a murder occurs, you're automatically involved. And Abreu was there. He “confessed,” just like the kid in "Confession Tapes" without knowing the first thing about his right not to talk about being in on the confused pothead plot to lure the vic to Mendo to rob him. Abreu had just turned 19 when he got a one day trial during which Public Defender Linda Thompson essentially joined the prosecution in testifying against him. The other two defendants pled out, receiving, essentially, 20-to-life each. One of them, Aaron Channel, will be out soon; August Stuckey also got 20 years but must do well in prison before he can be considered for parole. I understand he is not doing well. Abreu is in for life. Unless some remnant of justice can be squeezed out of the justice system, he will never get out. Mendo PD Thompson talked Abreu into going to trial when he, too, should have taken the DA's offer of 20-to-life. We’re gearing up for what we hope will become assistance from the Innocence Project or similar program.
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IS L-WOP TRULY FOREVER? THE AWFUL INJUSTICE TO TAI ABREU
MENDOCINO COUNTY has one “media” — this one. No, I’m not bragging; that’s the way it is here and one “media” is a simple statement of fact. We have a more or less benign DA, a laughable bunch of judges with the possible exceptions of Mayfield, David Nelson and LaCasse, all of whom are relatively new, and the cops, at this time and eternally subject to change on short notice, are doing what they’re supposed to do as law enforcement professionals. They even arrest rich people, although rich people, as in the rest of the country, seldom do any time. No sir, Mendocino County’s system breaks down completely in its absence of a functioning media, and if media is dysfunctional or non-existent, lots of people are going to be severely harmed because the system is allowed to operate in the dark. The lights have been out in Mendocino County for at least a hundred years, and they’ve pretty much stayed off all the way back to when the Indians got it.
TAI ABREU OF FORT BRAGG got severely harmed out of all proportion to what he did, and there’s no justice if punishment is out of proportion to the known facts of any given crime. As most of you reading this know, punishment has never been more out of sync with crime than now, with most of America a bunch of whining fatsos hiding behind the cops and the courts.
MR. ABREU got life in state prison without the possibility of parole because he didn’t murder Donald Perez, a gay man from Los Angeles. What Mr. Abreu did do is this: He was co-participant in the robbery of Mr. Perez that ended with Mr. Perez, his throat cut, duct-taped to a tree a mile from the Fort Bragg Police station. Mr. Perez’s remains were taped to the tree for almost a month, exactly 14 feet from the pavement as literally hundreds of people walked past, drove past, hiked past, jogged past, paddled past up the Noyo River — all of them and their dogs, and there this man remained in his upright silver sarcophagus in the late summer sun between the Noyo and the old A&W log road. He might still be there if one of Mr. Abreu’s pot pals hadn’t gone to the cops and, exempting himself from perp status, told the cops his friends had lured this guy to Fort Bragg to rob him but had robbed him and killed him and laughed about it one day when they were all hot-boxing pot in an abandoned car in the non-perp’s Fort Bragg backyard.
MR. PEREZ, aka “Vic,” may or may not have had his throat cut, as it turns out. His remains were inconclusive one way or the other, although there doesn’t appear to have been another way than the duct wrap and then a quick, deep knife to the throat, and not a happy way to go in a green gold bower beside a lazy early September stream. But Mr. Abreu, age 19 at the time of these terminally sad events, was sitting look-out man in Mr. Perez’s truck on the road above the death tree when Mr. Perez was slashed by one of Mr. Abreu’s two confederates. Or died of suffocation from the duct tape, or was hit over the head, or died of some other unnatural cause. Whatever happened happened without Mr. Abreu’s presence, not that he intervened or not that he even disapproved. We’re deep in moral murk here, and for sure Mr. Abreu was co-participant in an ultimate evil, but he paid for it out of all proportion to his participation while his co-conspirators got 15 years or so each and can look forward to seeing Fort Bragg again as men in early middle age.
BUT THE LAW says a murder committed during a robbery gets you life without parole whether or not you did the murder part of the crime, and by this unyielding standard a murder was indeed committed by all three boys, and Mr. Abreu was on board for the robbery part of the murder, as were his co-participants, one of whom, a very sick young man to have done it, walked up to the gray, writhing mummy Mr. Perez had become and cut Donald Perez’s throat deep, all the way to the top of his spine.
MR. ABREU, compounding the crime with himself as the second vic, made the fatal mistake of pleading not guilty to the murder of Donald Perez, reasoning that because he hadn’t killed anybody, hadn’t even been there when one of his partners in crime had cut Mr. Perez’s throat, he was innocent of the crime of murder. Worse (for him) Mr. Abreu demanded a jury of his peers. He was sure his attorney could explain to the jury that he was up on the road when whatever happened, happened. He wasn’t hadn’t killed the guy. He’d robbed him, but he didn’t kill him. Tai Abreu didn’t know murder was on the menu. Nobody knew until it happened, and when it happened Tai Abreu was not there. He was up on the road sitting in Donald Perez’s brand new truck.
MENDOCINO COUNTY gets all upset when 19-year-old defendants don’t do what the system wants them to do. In Mr. Abreu’s case the system wanted him to plead guilty to a jazzed-up manslaughter, and the taxpayers would be spared the expense of a lot of legal fol de rol, and the DA, in triage mode these days as them that don’t have hurl themselves at each other and sometimes at them that have, would be spared the time and trouble of a murder prosecution. Abreu would get 10 or 15 years for his part in Perez’s killing and he’d be out to resume life as it exists outside the cruelest prison system between the collapse of the Soviet Union and Abu Ghraib. But Abreu didn’t go along, and the Mendocino County justice system killed him deader than one of his two crime com-panions had killed Donald Perez.
LINDA THOMPSON of the Mendocino County Public Defender’s Office, was Mr. Abreu’s attorney. The kid might just as well have gotten on the jail bus without stopping at the Mendocino County Courthouse. For reasons of convenience to the local justice system, the case was heard in Ukiah, not Fort Bragg where the crime had occurred. All the while, of course, and this being the ongoing media vacuum that Mendocino County is and always has been, the local papers, owned by the same Colorado-based newspaper chain, were running the wild-looking mug shots of the three young perps over inflam-matory stories the reporter, Glenda Anderson, got directly from the DA and the cops. All three defendants were lynched by the newspapers, as Ms. Anderson, girl friend of Bari car bomber Mike Sweeney, as always selectively indignant, huffed and puffed about the gay bashing that was not, so far as is known, a factor in the murder of Mr. Perez because Mr. Abreu says he’s bi-sexual while co-perp Mr. Stuckey was Mr. Perez’s some time lover.
IF IT WAS A GAY BASHING, Abreu’s gay attorney did the bashing. Maybe Ms. Thompson, a cross-dressing lesbian, was pre-disposed to killing all three perps, given that the ‘vic’ was a gay male and she as a gay woman can be assumed to have hard a rough go of it in America, Land Of The Free Ranging Hetero. As it turned out, Ms. Thompson could only kill one of the gay bashers — her client.
THE CASE WAS HEARD IN UKIAH because, and knowing Mendocino County I’d say it’s highly likely if not slam dunk fact, most of the lawyers involved in it live in the Ukiah area and don’t want to drive back and forth to the Mendocino Coast to put some punk in state prison for the rest of his life as his friends, family and teachers look on. Do the dirty work in Ukiah where no one will see, no one except maybe Glenda Anderson, hack reporter. The system, as anyone on the receiving end knows, has its own convenience as its first priority.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY THOMPSON among every-thing else she did not do for her “client,” did not dispute the casual venue change. Mr. Abreu’s family, consisting on one ailing grandmother, was not kept informed of where Mr. Abreu was in the injustice process. Once in a while someone would tell her something, but not often, and nobody ever answers the phone anywhere in the Courthouse except the DA’s office and poor old gran was on the wrong side of this one. Nobody who knew any of the three boys, all of whom were born and raised in Fort Bragg, and none of whom had a history of vio-lence or even a prior of any consequence whatsoever, were aware that the case could have, should have, been heard in Fort Bragg.
THE PUBLIC DEFENDER, Ms. Thompson, a small, odd-looking woman who dresses in men’s clothes, did not assign an investigator to look into the crime’s par-ticulars on behalf of Mr. Abreu; she failed to challenge any of the persons who became Mr. Abreu’s jury, includ-ing a man from Fort Bragg who said he knew Mr. Abreu and did not like him; she called no witnesses of any kind in defense of Mr. Abreu; didn’t put Mr. Abreu on the stand to explain himself, which probably wouldn’t have helped him anyway because there’s no explanation and less excuse for being young, stupid and stoned; and a trial day later Mr. Abreu had himself a fast pass to life forever, deep in a state prison with no hope for parole ever no matter the facts of the crime that put him there, no matter how well he behaves inside those eternal, steel bowels. And this happens in the country of people who say they’re for hope and resurrection.
NO WITNESSES for the defense. No challenges to the jury panel. A one-day trial and good-bye forever Mr. American Pie. Mr. Abreu’s co-defendants? Did they want a jury of their peers, 12 middle-age and older mid-dle-class non-stoners? Nope. Not after they saw what happened to Tai Abreu. They pled out, and both of them will see home by 2020. And one of them did it. Cut Mr. Perez’s throat while he was taped to the tree. Mr. Abreu didn’t do that part of it, wasn’t there when “he gurgled when he died,” in the lurid but false quote from Ms. Anderson, corporate journalist. Tai Abreu didn’t know Mr. Perez had gurgled when he died until after Mr. Perez had gurgled and bled to death in the summer sun on the north bank of the Noyo River.
WHAT DEFENSE did Ms. Thompson present for Mr. Abreu? How did she explain this kid to the jury, the ritalin kid from early elementary school on, a semi-aban-doned kid, a kid whose mother is still cranking in Lake County, a kid whose father left him behind and went off to work in place beyond, even, the telephone? Ms. Thompson told the jury Mr. Abreu was indeed a bad per-son, which he isn’t, none of the three defendants is hopelessly bad or even half-bad, or even mostly bad. There isn’t a young man in this country who hasn’t come real close to doing something just as dumb or worse. One young man by himself is harmless. Two young men are borderline dangerous. They can go home or go crazy. Three young men will go crazy then go home. Sorry, Mom, but that’s a basic fact of life, and you can get your own confirmation every morning on the news.
BUT MS. THOMPSON went on about what a bad guy Abreu was, said he’d done it, said he was out of control. She conceded the prosecution’s case, which was that three murderous young men had put Mr. Perez to death because they wanted his cameras. The Public Defender agreed but, she said, Mr. Abreu hadn’t been advised of his rights by the detective assigned to the murder. One more time. Yeah but he wasn’t properly Mirandized. Yeah, I got the tail and I think there’s an elephant on the other end of it. So the odd little woman who dresses like a man went before a jury of conventional everyday Ukiah, Willits and Fort Bragg people confident that she could convince 12 very straight, carpenter’s level straight people, that Mr. Abreu should go home because he was not properly Mirandized!
IS LINDA THOMPSON CRAZY? Is she even within shouting distance of reality? Did she think the jury would see her as Clarence Darrow? Did she really think an obscure delineation of the Miranda Law would con-vince anybody that Mr. Abreu ought to go free? This was a defense?
THE WHOLE SHOW was so absurd, so purely nutso, so uniquely Only In Mendocino County, so far from even a semblance of a defense in a case with a young man’s life on the line that even the cops thought “it was a goddam disgrace, a travesty”, as one put it. When the cops denounce a trial as “a goddam disgrace” you can be sure it’s a double goddam disgrace. Bear Lincoln had the whole PC gang piling on. He got publicity on top of publicity, media coming in the windows, so much public-ity that Tony Serra rode into town and defended him for nothing, intimidating the DA into dumping the case on an untried assistant and intimidating the wimp-twits sit-ting as Mendocino County Superior Court judges to call old Judge Golden in from some retirement home to hear the case. (Golden took zero crapola, including none from Serra and the PC Brigade, and Bear Lincoln got a fair trial.) A decade later, Judge Henderson, a practicing Catholic but no Christian, put on a big show of denounc-ing the “remorseless” defendant, going on about what a heinous crime had been committed while committing a second heinous crime with the Life In Prison Without The Possibility Of Parole sentence he was pronouncing on a kid who never had a chance in all his life in liberal Mendocino County.
TAI ABREU has a tired grandmother and me, meaning he’s the ultimate longshot. I’m going to try to raise the money for Abreu’s appeal which, it appears, will be a federal habeas process. I’ve taken the recent alms sent the AVA’s way and set them aside in an unofficial Abreu Defense Fund. They amount, as of the end of this month, to almost two grand. If anyone out there is inclined to sign on for the long haul, I can guarantee you your con-tributions will go directly to the intrepidly brilliant Mendocino attorney, Rod Jones, who has agreed to at least look at the options Abreu has, and they aren’t many. In fact, they almost don’t exist in a country seemingly crueler and more brutal by the day.
DEATH ROW people and celeb defendants get all the money they need to appeal their convictions, and most of them are guilty, and most of them totally undeserving. Mr. Abreu, young Mr. Abreu, like almost all L-WOP defendants (as they’re called by the legal hangmen) get buried so deep nobody can even hear them scream.
TAI ABREU did a bad thing, but he didn’t do the bad-dest thing that was done to Mr. Perez. One of his co-defendants did that, but they’ll get out of prison and Tai Abreu won’t get out of prison. Tai Abreu didn’t get an unfair trial. He didn’t get a any kind of trial. His Public Defender wasn’t incompetent, she was inexplicable. If these guys had had OJ’s legal team not one of them would have been convicted of anything, a fact even the cops concede. “We know we got the right guys, but who did what we still don’t know.”
THIS KID’S CASE has got to get in front of a real judge, on the off chance there’s an honest one left somewhere in the upper reaches of this country’s country club system of jurisprudence. To get it in front of the honest judge who may or may not exist, is going to take time and money. I hope some of you will help out.
CATCH OF THE DAY, December 13, 2017
LUCAS CASE, Covelo. Under influence, vandalism.
BEATRIX CERVANTES, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
EDGAR FIGUEROA-GARCIA, Annapolis/Ukiah. Failure to appear.
SEAN FLINTON, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation. (Frequent Flyer)
COLLIN KINGERY, San Carlos/Ukiah. DUI.
JASON MILLER, Fort Bragg. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, ammo possession by prohibited person, probation revocation.
BRIAN MUNIZ-ALFARO, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.
MARK PIVER, Ukiah. Drug sales, narcotics possession for sale, under influence, conspiracy.
RONALD PIVER, Ukiah. Ukiah. Drug sales, narcotics possession for sale, under influence, conspiracy.
CODY SANDERSON, Laytonville. Probation revocation.
WILLARD WILLIAMS, San Jose/Ukiah. Failure to register.
Columnist George Will reports that the top 10 percent pay 70 percent of income taxes and the bottom 45 percent pay no taxes. I’m crying bitter tears for the wealthy as I contemplate this rank injustice.
But he stops short of giving us the reason for this horrible unfairness. It’s because the people at the bottom have no money. Let’s take some of the billions that go to the top and use them to quadruple the wages of the people at the bottom. Then those at the top would pay fewer taxes and those at the bottom would pay more.
Everyone would be happy then, right?
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Here we go again. Social Security is not a government welfare program. It is not paid from the general revenue. It has no effect on the deficit. But the greedy wingnuts want you to believe that cutting Social Security will reduce the deficit. They have been spreading that lie for many years, because they will get richer if you believe it. And for some reason, most of us believe it. Besides, these sociopaths can’t cut Social Security. What they want to do is privatize it so that they can rake off the investment fees. That would be about 10% of the transactions. The Social Security Administration charges about 1% for the same service. No wonder these savages are slavering to get their hands on the money.
GALL is a basic tool of journalism which is a rude business at best.
— Hunter S. Thompson, from “Stories I Tell Myself” by Juan Thompson, Thompson’s son
FORMER FACEBOOK EXECUTIVE: SOCIAL MEDIA IS RIPPING SOCIETY APART
Chamath Palihapitiya, former vice-president of user growth, expressed regret for his part in building tools that destroy ‘the social fabric of how society works’
by Julia Wong
"You don't realize it, but you are being programmed. It was unintentional, but now you gotta decide how much you're willing to give up, how much of your intellectual independence," former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya said.
A former Facebook executive has said he feels “tremendous guilt” over his work on “tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works”, joining a growing chorus of critics of the social media giant.
Chamath Palihapitiya, who was vice-president for user growth at Facebook before he left the company in 2011, said: “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth.”
“This is not about Russian ads,” he added. “This is a global problem. It is eroding the core foundations of how people behave by and between each other.”
Palihapitiya’s comments last month were made a day after Facebook’s founding president, Sean Parker, criticized the way that the company “exploit[s] a vulnerability in human psychology” by creating a “social-validation feedback loop” during an interview at an Axios event.
Parker had said that he was “something of a conscientious objector” to using social media, a stance echoed by Palihapitiya who said that he was now hoping to use the money he made at Facebook to do good in the world.
“I can’t control them,” Palihapitiya said of his former employer. “I can control my decision, which is that I don’t use that shit. I can control my kids’ decisions, which is that they’re not allowed to use that shit.”
He also called on his audience to “soul-search” about their own relationship to social media. “Your behaviors, you don’t realize it, but you are being programmed,” he said. “It was unintentional, but now you gotta decide how much you’re going to give up, how much of your intellectual independence.”
Social media companies have faced increased scrutiny over the past year as critics increasingly link growing political divisions across the globe to the handful of platforms that dominate online discourse.
Many observers attributed the unexpected outcomes of the 2016 US presidential election and Brexit referendum at least in part to the ideological echo chambers created by Facebook’s algorithms, as well as the proliferation of fake news, conspiracy mongering, and propaganda alongside legitimate news sources in Facebook’s news feeds.
The company only recently acknowledged that it sold advertisements to Russian operatives seeking to sow division among US voters during the 2016 election.
Facebook has also faced significant criticism for its role in amplifying anti-Rohingya propaganda in Myanmar amid suspected ethnic cleansing of the Muslim minority.
Palihapitiya referenced a case from the Indian state of Jharkhand this spring, when false WhatsApp messages warning of a group of kidnappers led to the lynching of seven people. WhatsApp is owned by Facebook.
“That’s what we’re dealing with,” Palihapitiya said. “Imagine when you take that to the extreme where bad actors can now manipulate large swaths of people to do anything you want. It’s just a really, really bad state of affairs.”
Facebook responded to Palihapitiya’s comments on Tuesday, noting that the former executive had not worked for the company in six years.
“When Chamath was at Facebook we were focused on building new social media experiences and growing Facebook around the world,” a company spokeswoman, Susan Glick, said in a statement. “Facebook was a very different company back then, and as we have grown, we have realized how our responsibilities have grown too. We take our role very seriously and we are working hard to improve.”
The company said that it was researching the impact of its products on “well-being” and noted that the CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, indicated a willingness to decrease profitability to address issues such as foreign interference in elections.
NOYO SOUTH PARK GEESE
(Photo by Susie de Castro)
EVER SINCE THE END OF THE CIVIL WAR, Confederate apologists have put out the lie that the southern states seceded and southerners fought to defend an abstract constitutional principal of “states’ rights.” That falsehood attempts to sanitize the past. Every convention’s participant made it explicit; they were seceding because they thought secession would protect the future of slavery. Lincoln’s victory led Deep South slaveholders to claim that only secession could save the South from being “stripped,” as one Alabama editor, a former Douglas supporter said, “of 25 hundred millions of slave property & to have loose among us 4,000,000 of freed blacks.”
— Edward E. Baptist, The Half Has Never Been Told,
by Rosa Montero, translated by Louis Bedrock
For Bill, Harvey, Jeff, and Jim—AVA’s voices of reason.
“The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” (W.B. Yeats)
Almost 30 years ago, the Italian Carlo Maria Cipolla, respected historian of economic thought, released a book that made him world famous: Allegro ma non troppo (Crítica)—a hysterically funny essay about stupidity.
I imagine Cipolla made use of humor to cope with the damage done by imbeciles. The poor man must have very fed up—and rightly so because human foolishness is unfathomable and lethal. The historian concludes his book defining the five fundamental laws of stupidity. To wit:
- We always underestimate the quantity of idiots in the world.
- Stupidity is a characteristic independent of any other characteristic. It is not associated with the money one has, nor with social class, nor with education received. Idiots are idiots in an absolute and democratic manner and there will always be a determined percentage of idiots on the planet; and we will tend to underestimate their number.
- An idiot is someone who causes damage to everyone else without achieving any benefits for herself.
- Unfortunately, we also underestimate the immense capacity of idiots to cause damage (above all, I might add, when stupidity combines, somewhat redundantly, with fanaticism).
- The idiot is the most dangerous individual in the world. In fact, idiots are much more dangerous than the wicked.
I’ve been thinking about Cipolla’s book as I wander around stunned by the tragic, frightening madness we are experiencing.
To make matters worse, on top of everything else, I’ve just finished reading, by pure chance, a book with a tangentially related theme: The Idiot Brain by the British neuroscientist Dean Burnett, an essay overburdened with wisecracks (at times, the desire to lighten a text makes it more leaden) but which explains with rigor and eloquence not only the fascinating functioning of the brain but also the factory defects of our poor heads. And it turns out that a robotic portrait of essential human stupidity powerfully emerges from the book.
Burnett speaks of impostor syndrome suffered by many people who are intelligent and successful but who undervalue themselves (by the way, the majority of those of suffer from this are women). The problem is that the less intelligent people are, the more self-assurance they tend to exhibit—a phenomenon that has been labeled “The Dunning-Kruger Effect” for the names of the researchers from Cornell University who first studied it.
In 1999, Dunning and Kruger had a series of subjects take an intelligence test and, in addition, asked them to evaluate how well they performed on the test. Well, those who attained low scores almost always believed that they had done extremely well while those who did do well thought they had done worse. From this the researchers concluded that the less intelligent were not merely dumber but also lacked the capacity to recognize that something was wrong with them.
Up to now, things are more or less acceptable: the test merely shows that idiots are idiots completely and relentlessly. But there are also diverse studies, including those of Penrose and Custer in the 1990s concerning the credibility of witnesses at trials, that confirm that all people—intelligent, stupid, and all those in between, tend to believe those people who speak with greatest self-assurance—even though what they say is untrue.
Remember that intelligent people are the most insecure and hesitant while idiots are the most resolute and vociferous. (I myself suffer from imposter’s syndrome to a large extent but, at times, I can argue with strident vehemence: thus, I must be half quick-witted and half dimwitted.)
Ultimately, it could be said that our idiot brain disposes us to yield to the opinions of fools—something which could leave our species in grave danger. To tell the truth, I don’t know how we’ve come so far.
Save for a few minor details, the quote from President Dwight D. Eisenhower … is in fact an accurate one. It wasn’t something he uttered but rather something he wrote, and the version reproduced above omits Ike’s reference to a specific Texas oil tycoon (H.L. Hunt), but it otherwise is taken verbatim from a letter President Eisenhower penned to his brother, Edgar Newton Eisenhower, on 8 November 1954:
“Now it is true that I believe this country is following a dangerous trend when it permits too great a degree of centralization of governmental functions. I oppose this — in some instances the fight is a rather desperate one. But to attain any success it is quite clear that the Federal government cannot avoid or escape responsibilities which the mass of the people firmly believe should be undertaken by it. The political processes of our country are such that if a rule of reason is not applied in this effort, we will lose everything — even to a possible and drastic change in the Constitution. This is what I mean by my constant insistence upon “moderation” in government. Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H.L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.”
“How the hell am I supposed to compete with that?”