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Off the Record (Feb 21, 2018)

SUPERVISOR CANDIDATES Ted Williams and Chris Skyhawk have erected cyber-sites kind of outlining their positions on the issues, which are mostly vague in the platitudinous way characteristic of politics in the Fifth District, with Williams being slightly less platitudinous because he's more remote from the oppressive First Five-KZYX-Youth Project-Non-Profit-Coast Democratic Party Axis that Skyhawk boasts on his website. I understand that my aversion to the Axis verges on unreason, but I see it as a large part of the problem, the biggest hog in the Mendo stream, blocking the genuinely progressive political impulse many of the people of the County share but which has been co-opted for years now by the grant gobblers, the mercenary self-interested who wrap their mercenary practices in liberal pieties, the blandly conservative (and infuriatingly smug) liberalism that dominates public life in Mendocino County, and which finds its finest flower in corporate drones like Huffman, Wood and McGuire. Skyhawk brags of associations that many of us see as a big part of a comprehensive political problem, which is how to somehow shove public policy away from these pieties-spouting hogs in the stream toward genuinely progressive programs.

FIRST-FIVE, for example, is a misappropriation of the money (about a million a year for Mendo) that most people thought would go to good things via a bump in the cigarette tax. Didn't happen. First Five is basically one more jobs program benefitting connected libs. If the money went straight to cash payments to every alleged beneficiary of First Five's purely self-alleged magnanimity (or child care vouchers for working mothers), the smoke tax money would do specific good.

BOTH SKYHAWK AND WILLIAMS are flying blind. There's no indication from either of them that they know anything at all about the present functioning of the Board of Supervisors.

THE MIGHTY AVA is focused on these two guys because they are likely to find themselves in a runoff for election. We haven't heard much from the more conservative candidates, Juhl and Rodier, but we do know that both of them are attending Supes meetings and, Juhl especially, with CEO experience himself, unless he's stone dumb, must be at least mildly shocked at the Board's functioning. A former CEO? He's running for our seat?"

NOTE TO THE LIB CANDIDATES: Cowboy Johnny Pinches, from deep in the Eel River Canyon in the outlaw wilds east of Laytonville, has always gotten himself elected to the Third District Supe's seat because he sticks entirely to in-County issues, and he has always taken a fresh, independent look at those issues when they reach the Board of Supervisors. He's also the only public official ever to try to re-open negotiations with Sonoma County on the water piled up behind Coyote Dam in Lake Mendocino. As he has often pointed out, Sonoma County's claim on almost all that water should be re-negotiated. (Sonoma County makes annual millions from our water.) And Pinches has always made County roads his first priority. Pinches won me when his colleagues were poised to invest in an expensive new computer system linking department heads. Pinches declared, "Why? If they have something to say to each other why can't they just walk down the hall and say it?" Exactly. That's the kind of clarity we don't now have on the Board of Supervisors.

ANATOMY of a rumor. Sheriff Allman called last week to refute (and justly resent) the suggestion by an embittered Potter Valley crone — there’s no meaner creature on God’s earth than a flower child past her pull date — that local cops were involved in the theft of marijuana from a HumCo filmmaker.

ZEKE FLATTEN, according to Kym Kemp of Redheaded Blackbelt, had alleged that three pounds of marijuana were stolen from his van on December 5 by two men claiming to be federal ATF agents. Flatten, updated his allegation to assert that the men who took his dope were two local law enforcement officers, including one that he believed “with almost certainty” to have been the then-Hopland Tribal Police Chief, Steve Hobb. Hobb, freely maligned, as it turned out, had absolutely nothing to do with it

FLATTEN ALLEGES that he was pulled over by an unmarked police vehicle and three pounds of cannabis were seized by the two officers who’d stopped him. Fast forward. The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department, the ATF, and the FBI all looked into Flatten’s accusations, finding, according to Sheriff Allman, that the cops involved were part of a Sonoma County “Interdiction Task Force,” not Mendocino County's, not the Hopland tribal police's. The Sheriff said more information about the incident is being collected, and that it would be a “huge mistake” for anybody to think Mendocino County was involved. “We do not condone this kind of activity,” Allman said, “and anybody who stole anything, including marijuana, if that’s what happened, would be arrested. So it’s not true and it’s not fair to think anybody in Mendocino was involved.”

THEN A CERTAIN “Sergeant J. Tatum, 584-2600” of the Rohnert Park Police Department (!) confirmed that “during the month of December 2017 members of the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety conducted a traffic enforcement stop on a white SUV vehicle in the area of the Sonoma/Mendocino County line…. “

THE ROHNERT PARK OFFICERS “explained to the driver (Flatten) that based on their investigation they believed he was involved in illegal black market cannabis and acting unlawfully. Based on the lack of documentation and the driver’s unwillingness to cooperate with the officer’s questions, the processed cannabis was seized and booked into evidence. During the time of this routine traffic stop no other agencies — not the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office or Hopland Tribal Police were involved or assisted with the investigation.”

A BARRAGE of comment ensued, including that of the embittered old Potter Valley hippie, claiming, with no supporting evidence, that the cops steal dope all the time. The real question that went unasked is, What are Rohnert Park cops doing in Mendocino County “interdicting” marijuana traffic?

THE SHERIFF also said he considers it premature to criticize the Measure B oversight committee for lack of organization. Allman said he welcomes feedback, but, he explained, that first meeting criticized in the AVA as unfocused was their first meeting, they had no chairperson, no agenda and were just getting started. Allman still thinks somebody from outside Mendocino County should do a “needs assessment” to avoid any future accusations of insider bias.

FAIR ENOUGH, but the Measure B committee should stick closely to the language of the Measure and focus on facilities and associated objectives, and we think the Measure B oversight people should avoid the tendency to go outside the County for expensive consultants to obtain basic information that should be available from Mendo’s own well-paid Mental Health staff, such as numbers of clients, categories of clients, outside services and costs, existing facilities, etc.  That info ought to be available locally.

DAWN'S LAST DAY. That armed robbery last week of a spiffy new Chevrolet Camaro at Thurston Auto Plaza by an off-her-meds Redwood Valley woman wound up with her being shot to death by Sheriff’s deputies north of Willits after a high speed chase. The dead woman has been identified as Dawn Elika Center, 48. Natch, the Blue Meanie nostalgics have rolled out with their denunciations of the cops. “Why did they have to shoot her?” Etc. They shot her because she got out of her vehicle with a handgun which she aimed at the cops. What should the cops have done? Waited until she cranked one off at them and hope she missed before they shot back?

IRV SUTLEY WRITES: “To some of the many of you I know who have followed the Bari Bombing case: Mendocino County's former garbage czar Mike Sweeney has relocated to New Zealand on what is probably a permanent basis. Sweeney had been living on a piece of property on Orr Springs Road outside Ukiah, the only place on the road without a numbered address.  The ex-husband of both Judge Cynthia Denenholz of Santa Rosa and the late Judith Beatrice Bari, Michael Emmett Sweeney left behind his personal press agent and sometime partner Glenda Anderson, the Ukiah stringer for Doug Bosco's Santa Rosa Press Democrat.”

MEANWHILE, my high school alma mater pops up in national news reports as a hotbed of teen sexual harassment. Tamalpais High School (Mill Valley) teacher Eva Rieder has gone public with allegations that male students have sexually harassed her more than a dozen times with physical touching and obscene emails, letters and phone calls — and that school administrators and staff failed to respond to her reports or take any action to stop it. “It’s time my story is told,” Rieder, a math teacher at the school for 15 years, said during the public comment portion of the Feb. 6 Tamalpais Union High School District board of trustees’ meeting at Redwood High School in Larkspur. “It’s time I say #MeToo.”

IT OCCURRED TO ME that if some male students feel free to do this stuff to a teacher, one has to wonder what they're doing to their female classmates. Myself, I can’t remember my lust being aroused by any of my teachers, a dowdy bunch in my memory but, of course, those were sedate times.

I ENJOYED a trip over the hill to Ukiah via MTA last week. The driver was older than me, a fact I found oddly encouraging given that the elderly tend to be shunted off to their television sets and Meals On Wheels when they’re still productive. He dropped me off at Safeway where, walking north, I passed a guy huffing crack, or whatever drug it is that requires matches and a glass pipe. The Ukiah police, I read, are investigating a rape only a block south of Safeway behind the Social Services complex. In the Safeway block, just past the dope huffer, another homeless guy spare-changed me. "Is a one ok?" I asked him. ”Yes, dad," he said, "that'll do just fine." Dad. The nerve of the ingrate, but I should have given him another dollar as a reward for his originality. As a dedicated enabler, my policy is that if a mendicant is upright I'll help him kill himself with drugs or alcohol. It's the sitting or prone panhandlers that get no cash from Mr. Big Bucks.

OPEN AIR aberrant behavior is nothing new anywhere in our deteriorated land, but Ukiah seems more degraded every time I visit the County seat. Ditto for Fort Bragg whose savvy City government plunked down homeless ops in the center of town. But the general malaise infecting the entire country seems as bad in the County seat as anywhere else.

UKIAH PAYS its city manager about a quarter mil-a-year, salary and benefits. And his assistant makes 80-something. As city management "teams" around the County make more and more money, civic squalor increases proportionally. Used to be a town's money people, people like Ukiah's Charlie Mannon, owner of the Savings Bank, made sure their towns kept up appearances. Now? Hunkered down behind locked gates, their home town collapsing around them.

UKIAH HAS HIRED the inevitable consultant who will tell the town's inert Council to restrict local charity to local residents, to keep transients on the move outtahere. Prediction: The consultant will leave town with a fat check for recommending the obvious and nothing will change.

SAY IT AIN'T SO, KATY. Local historian Katy Tahja is retiring from Gallery Bookshop after 27 years behind the cash register helping readers find books. The staff is throwing an informal reception Saturday Feb. 24 from noon to 2 p.m. with a punch bowl of sangria and best wishes. Stop by at Main and Kasten streets in Mendocino and say goodbye to Katy. While she will be around and about the bookshop occasionally she will now focus on finishing the 150 year history of Mendocino County she is writing.

Hensley 2018

MR. HENSLEY'S been arrested about twenty times over the last three months, and he's been arrested more than a hundred times over the past three years. He occasionally appears in court for a routine processing before he's back out on the streets drinking himself into a stupor. Typically, though, he's simply locked up in the County Jail for a day or so — not long enough for a guy like him to get all the way sober — before he's freed to repeat his sad cycle. Given the number of helping professionals employed in Mendocino County, a county many of its residents consider "progressive" (because they live here) why isn't this guy getting help?

LAZ OF WILLITS WRITES: "There is nothing that can be done for Charles [Hensley], he simply doesn’t matter. The AVA is the only place that has shined a light on him. Charles’s friends (if he has any) know, the authorities know, and we know, Charles is attempting suicide every day; last I knew that’s against some kind of law. If he was using a weapon to harm himself, or any other self-destructive device he would likely be in a facility, but alcohol's not treated like the deadly stuff it is. As we all know, booze kills many people every single day, either indirectly or directly. It’s like the gun deal, we ring our hands and beat our chest in repulsion and outrage when 17 kids and adults are dead on the street. Then Trump screws some Playmate and the media unceremoniously moves on, and we follow. There’s nothing that can be done for Charles…"

Hensley 2009

TO ME, HENSLEY serves as a living metaphor for our social collapse. Few other countries in the world would allow this man to commit suicide on the streets like this. We didn't used to permit it, either. The Hensleys of America were  committed to state hospitals for long periods of time, long enough for them to sober up and maybe convince them to give life another go. Yes, a lot of Hensleys rotated in and out of hospitals, including the one at Talmage, but up through the 1960s there was a social floor that no longer exists. Whenever I hear someone exclaim about what a "caring," "progressive" place Mendocino County is, I say, "Oh yeah? How about this guy?"

IF ANYONE out there knows Hensley, knows his life story, there are lots of us who want to hear it. I had a Hensley-like uncle who disappeared into the bottle like this, but it was years before I knew enough about him to understand why, but I have two first cousins I've never met who wrote off our entire branch of family because of their mother's experience with Uncle Bob. Most families, I'm sure, can tell similar stories.

FOR YOUR ‘AS ROME BURNS’ FILE: Congressman Jared Huffman and several other pro-forma Democrats called for the Department of Justice Wednesday to investigate the “hush money” paid to adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, better known as “Stormy Daniels,” by Donald Trump’s personal attorney in October 2016

THE FATES of The Willits News; the Ukiah Daily Journal; and the Advocate/Beacon rest in the grasping hands of a hedge fund that is slowly bleeding them to death. In Mendocino County, the real property of the Hedge papers has already been sold and all three of these papers continue to hemorrhage reporters and other staff.

A RUMOR circulating Saturday claims that the "Mendocino County Drug Task Force got set up by the Feds in a fake drug bust and task force members were caught red-handed stealing money. Officer Hoyle was one name mentioned.

SHERIFF ALLMAN promptly clarified: "I have heard nothing. This is the first I heard of this rumor. Ukiah Police Department Sgt Hoyle doesn’t work in the task force anymore." Allman said that in any case Hoyle has been out with a shoulder injury for some time.

I CALL the rumor wishful thinking. Hoyle has long been a kind of recurring hippie nightmare, haunting outback dope grows.

GUN CONTROL. As another ghastly mass slaughter lurches into yet another call for gun control, I don't expect to see versions of my opinions in the mainstream media, so I'll bore you with them here. First off, there are an estimated 300 million guns at large in our crumbling country, which is more than one per adult. (Disclaimer: I have three myself.) There is no way to control them except, of course, by trying to ban the sale of those weapons that can easily be converted to fully automatic by both the sane and the insane, thin as the dividing line between the two is in this country. But there are so many ingenuous methods for converting darn near any gun into a weapon of mass destruction that the task of regulating guns is probably futile, or mostly futile. The root of the problem, I think, lies in the bones of our social-economic-political order; we have a society that couldn't be better organized to create mental illness, everything from our moronic popular culture to the prevalence of internet evil in every form imaginable. The Florida loon was visibly deranged, not that his appearance was cause for suppression, but his threats were real and those threats were ignored by the great sleuths of the FBI, defenders of the Homeland. But there are undoubtedly thousands more like Florida Man out there — there are at least a dozen fascist-oriented young people here in the Anderson Valley who, given their vicious opinions, spend hundreds of hours at fascist internet sites against whose propaganda they have no intellectual defenses. I think we're at the point where things are breaking down in Weimar-like ways, and the violence coming will be a lot worse and a lot more pervasive than the occasional lone gunmen.

WHENEVER there's a story about the latest arrest of a chomo the comment lines explode with sentiments like this one: "Don't worry. I think the boys at the state pen will handle it just fine. They have special fondness for child molesters in prison."

URBAN MYTH. There are so many of them now, chomos and other mentally ill inmates, that every prison has specially devised chomo units. The Mendo County Jail segregates chomos and other vulnerable inmates from the general population. Yes, if chomos were turned loose in general prison populations they'd be harmed or murdered. Which is what used to happen to them, but now that the whole country has become a kind of Pervo-Rama, they are simply isolated in their secure areas of lock-ups.

ANOTHER URBAN MYTH, at least from what I've learned from men who've done a lot of time, state and federal, is that white inmates do affiliate with groups like the Aryan Brotherhood just as Mexicans affiliate with Mexican gangs and Black inmates affiliate with Black gangs. Prison society is much like the outside world, ethnically considered. But in prison it’s the threat of severe retaliatory violence that maintains the peace between the different ethnic groupings.

THE CHINESE Year of the Dog celebrates all the virtues associated with the animal except for one — he also tastes good, properly prepared. American Indians ate dogs, Chinese have eaten dogs for centuries. Still do.

COMMON COMPLAINT about KZYX, this one from correspondent Sheila Dawn, who is routinely abused by the boors entrenched at Philo pseudo-public radio: "My intent was to register my dissatisfaction regarding the lack of civility of a staff person. During Public Comment I noted that after seventeen years of continuous support through donations and volunteering, I could not sanction rude behavior of a staff person by making a financial contribution, adding that such encounters were partly responsible for lack of membership growth. I also commented that I thought the station had become an elitist organization. As one who has been on both sides of the door, I found that if you are inside, it felt like a cozy tight knit family but if you attempt to exercise a member's right for transparency of information, that door can be physically locked against entry as it was (by the Campbell, Courtney, Bushansky triumvirate) when I tried to hold the station accountable to its promise of providing financial documents for inspection after a new GM had been selected."

"MY SLOW MARCH through months of reading brought me to page 675 of the Old Testament, about one-third of the way to the end, and my sighs and laments caught my wife’s attention. She suggested I jump to the New Testament, which I didn’t even know my Bible contained. The difference? The New Testament is like reading People Magazine, while the Old Testament is like reading a Russian translation of a tractor manual. The New Testament is breezy (sort of) and full of illuminating parables, fascinating vignettes and scores of phrases and references that you’ve encountered thousands of times in your life. They originate right here in the New Testament. God won’t help your team win the World Series no matter how much you pray, but He might illuminate a path through dark forests while you do your time here on Earth. The Bible could be the original self-help book, and the only one you’ll need." — Tommy Wayne Kramer

TWK might  profit from R. Crumb's illustrated Book of Genesis, whose cover warns, "The first book of the Bible graphically depicted! Nothing left out. All 50 chapters. Adult supervision recommended for minors."

THERE'S FOUR CENTURIES of controversy about Michelangelo's depiction of Adam and Eve on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel where Adam is painted with a navel, raising the question of their Mom and her divinity. The famous artist wouldn't allow priests or any other Papal rep to view the work in progress, and how he got away with shutting them out, given the times, probably meant that Michelangelo's genius made him something of a divine himself.

ON LINE COMMENT OF THE WEEK “NPR is a major news source for the US thinking class.” I admit I listen to National Propaganda Radio (and I’m still technically a Democrat) as I get ready for work; it is the most tolerable noise on the radio, but NPR needs to be called out for the nonsense it purveys. The anti-Russian hysteria boils over at times, the pro-Hillary-anti Trump bogus-ity, the stories about the first gay Trans-sexual person of color whose gender is unknown from Alabama, it’s all too much sometimes. I’m destroying NPR from within. I listen, but I don’t donate.


  1. Arthur Juhl February 22, 2018

    You are correct that I am shocked not “stone dumb”. If I did speak up the folks on the Board would be sure to support my fellow candidates. Sometimes it pays to bide ones time. I do think that the Board members should do more research on the issues at large before making a decision. That is my opinion base on what I have so far observed. Maybe I am wrong! Once I am in the position, I will know for sure. Meanwhile I will just listen and learn! Arthur E. Juhl, candidate for the 5th district Supervisor

  2. Ted Williams February 22, 2018

    Slightly less platitudinous Williams uses the video stream to track BOS.

    • February 24, 2018

      Makes sense. You’re a fire chief. That’s what video stream is for. Your district has had some nasty calls lately.

      Patrick Pekin

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