- Library Money
- River Health
- Cannabis Update
- Shopping-Cart Crackdown
- Little Dog
- Ukiah Gouging
- Gladden Guilty
- OHV Park
- Crowningshield Prelim
- Cannabis Forum
- Yesterday's Catch
- Unborn Baby
- Transmission Meditation
- Republican Lite
- Snowden Courage
- Coming Attractions
- Political History
- Bad Time
- PA Agenda
- Real Equality
- Office Seekers
- Firearm Nation
- Marco Radio
- Tai Life
DESPITE MAJOR OPPOSITION from Library advocates and defenders, County CEO Carmel Angelo is pressing forward with her proposal to combine the much more lushly funded county library with the County Museum and the County’s remnant parks and rec department.
The below item is on next Tuesday’s March 27, Board of Supervisors Agenda. We expect a parade of library people to be on hand to argue against it. It will be interesting to see what is said about the note in the attached “Fiscal Overview” which says 1) the library is running a deficit, and 2) Library funding will not be intermingled with the General Fund. So far, this proposal is very skimpy and at first glance seems slap-dash. So, like many other proposals out of the CEO’s office, there’s probably more to this than cliches like “greater access across all demographics” and “Inspire personal growth,” etc. Gawd. If those are the only reasons for it, the proposal should be immediately scrapped and taken off the agenda.
WHAT’S NEXT? Combining the jail with the mental health department? (Oh wait, they’re doing that.)
CULTURAL SERVICES AGENCY (“DRAFT”)
Core Values, Programs and Services:
* Provide greater access across all demographics to information, cultural resources, opportunities for recreation and education, to enhance the quality of life and well-being of residents and visitors to Mendocino County
* Inspire personal growth, lifelong learning, healthy lifestyles, connection to nature, and sense of community
* Share resources for greater marketing, finance, outreach and interpretive programming
* Collaborate as an organization in service and program delivery to connect our visitors and residents to educational, recreational and cultural experiences
Fiscal overview charts
Navarro River Summer Stream Flow Addressed
MendocinoSportsPlus received this post from the CA Fish & Wildlife Thursday night - and it looks like the Navarro River "Sacred Cow Sandbar' might be addressed.
"At a March 22 meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $33.1 million in grants for 22 projects to enhance stream flows to benefit fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. The Legislature appropriated funding for these projects as authorized by the Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014 (Proposition 1). A total of $200 million was allocated to the WCB for projects that enhance stream flow.
A total of $38.4 million—including $5 million designated for scoping and scientific projects—was allocated to the WCB for expenditure in Fiscal Year 2017/18 for the California Stream Flow Enhancement Program. Projects were chosen through a competitive grant process, judged by the WCB, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the State Water Resources Control Board.
Guided by the California Water Action Plan, funding is focused on projects that will lead to direct and measurable enhancements to the amount, timing and/or quality of water for anadromous fish; special status, threatened, endangered or at-risk species; or to provide resilience to climate change."
Among the eight grants awarded was this:
"A $726,374 grant to Mendocino County Resource Conservation District for a cooperative project with Trout Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to reduce summer diversions and improve dry season stream flows for the benefit of Coho salmon and steelhead trout. The Navarro River watershed is located approximately 20 miles south of Fort Bragg."
MENDO’S NEW CANNABIS PROGRAM MANAGER, Kelly Overton, plans to present a “Cannabis Program Update” next Tuesday to the Board of Supervisors. His “update” report is a few brief charts with some new numbers, but no comparison to the March 13 numbers, so it’s not clear from Mr. Overton’s “update” how much has happened on his watch so far, not that we are trying to rush the lad.
WE HAD to go back to the 3/13 report to discover that as of next Tuesday:
There have been ten new applications.
Three more permits have been “issued” (whatever "issued" means in the fluid context of local pot rules).
But one LESS permit is now “approved” (whatever that means).
One more permit has been “withdrawn” (no reason given).
No more permits have been denied.
The 12 permit applications listed as “on-hold” on March 13, have disappeared and are no longer listed.
On March 13 there were 112 permits “issued or approved.” As of March 27 (sic) there are 114.
On March 13 there were 487 permits “under review” and 200 “in queue.”
Now there are 517 permits “under review” and 189 “in queue.” (No explanation of how it went up by 30.)
* * *
(WE PAUSE HERE to point out that this entirely context-free “here are the numbers” approach to Supervisors reports is what passes for reporting from a few County departments like Planning and Transportation. But without prior months or explanations, these meaningless snapshots actually are worse than no report at all because they give the impression of oversight when there is none.)
* * *
OVERTON'S promised process improvements and efficiencies have not made much of a dent in the backlog so far — not that anybody besides Overton expected it to. After all, the poor guy's faced with an impossible task. Meanwhile, he's got to at least feign enthusiasm. One supposes.
THE REST of Mr. Overton’s report (attached below) is a few words about Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Mr. Overton cheerfully notes that “Facebook traffic is increasing daily.” But “Twitter and IG pages have been only soft launches.” Etc.
MR. OVERTON also claims to have made good on “preparing” his PSAs, which he says “are being distributed to local media.” We have not seen any so far. Nor has the County’s website been changed to reflect the new Cannabis Program organization since it was taken out of Ag and put under the CEO’s office — drawing complaints from several local pot groups and reps. If the PSAs have been “prepared” and “are being distributed” you’d at least think they’d be posted somewhere on the County’s pot cultivation webpage.
OF COURSE, it’s still kinda early in Overton’s tenure, but so far nothing much pot-wise has changed in Mendo, land of glacial progress, if that.
(Photo by Judy Valadao)
UKIAH OKS REVISED ORDINANCE AIMED AT STOLEN SHOPPING CARTS
by Justine Frederiksen
The Ukiah City Council Wednesday approved a revised version of an ordinance regulating misuse of shopping carts, which are private property and provided by businesses for temporary use by their customers.
“This is a tool police officers needed; they have to have it,” said Council member Jim Brown, who served on an ad-hoc committee tasked with addressing the “proliferation of stolen and abandoned shopping carts in the city” with Vice-mayor Maureen Mulheren.
Last month a first draft of the ordinance was presented but not approved by the City Council, as many members of the board and the community, especially business owners who offer their shoppers carts, expressed concerns about potential negative effects.
“All of my concerns and questions have been addressed and I am satisfied,” said Brown of the changes to the ordinance implemented after the City Council directed staff members to present more information about how it would be enforced and to work with business owners to clarify how they will be expected to prevent their carts from being misused.
“We are not after the business owners – the last thing we want is for business owners to face sanctions. This is a tool for law enforcement to regulate carts disappearing from the stores,” Brown said.
“I applaud you and your staff for moving forward,” said Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster, explaining that while the No. 1 complaint he receives from the public is regarding marijuana, “shopping carts are a pretty-doggone-close second.”
Eyster said he was willing to prosecute the ordinance, but also to pay local Boy Scouts “a bounty out of my funds” to clean and return abandoned shopping carts. When Council member Steve Scalmanini asked him if that offer would apply to local Girl Scouts, he said it would.
“It’s not really the Scouts, it’s the parents accomplishing this, because it’s whomever can lift the cart and put it in the back of a truck,” he said.
Second District Mendocino County Supervisor John McCowen also praised the City Council for addressing the issue, which he said was an important one even though many people “don’t understand what’s the big deal with someone walking around with a shopping cart full of their possessions?”
To explain why it was a big deal, McCowen pointed to a report released this week by expert Robert Marbut, who was hired by Mendocino County to assess its approaches to its homeless population.
McCowen explained that Marbut advises communities to have “zero-tolerance” for homeless encampments because they pose serious health and safety risks to all residents, and that shopping carts should be viewed as “encampments on wheels” which serve to spread disease and other risks even more than non-mobile ones.
“It is also an actual theft of property and should not be tolerated,” said McCowen, adding that he intended “to bring forward a version of this ordinance to the county Board of Supervisors to consider.”
The City Council then voted to introduce the ordinance, and it will return for possible final adoption.
According to the staff report prepared for the March 21 meeting, the ordinance “amends the City Code to make it easier for the Ukiah Police Department to enforce existing state law and the ordinance itself by explicitly defining what constitutes a violation of the ordinance: removing, altering, and possessing or abandoning a shopping cart off-site.”
In addition, the ordinance provides a mechanism for enforcement, such as the “identifying sign requirement that both (1) triggers the operation of the State Business & Professions Code that designates removal and possession offsite of a shopping cart without express permission from the store owner a misdemeanor offense and (2) gives the UPD probable cause to identify the cart as property stolen from the store that can be seized and returned to the store.”
Staff notes that the UPD “has consistently maintained that the proposed enforcement provisions that deal with stolen carts in active use by a person should only be addressed by the UPD. If the UPD decides to remove a stolen shopping cart from the possession of someone who has illegally removed it from store premises, that cart would likely be taken as evidence of a crime, and … any personal property removed from the cart that is seized as evidence of a crime could either be returned to the owner or stored by the city until the person can reclaim the property.”
Staff notes that the ordinance requires business owners to “permanently affix a sign to each cart which will (1) identify the business that owns the cart, (2) indicate a valid address or phone number for the business or owner for purposes of returning a cart to the business or owner, (3) notify the public that removal of the cart from the premises or unauthorized possession of the cart is a violation of state law and local ordinance, and (4) notify the public that there is no circumstance in which removal of the cart from the premises is authorized.”
For business owners, the city’s shopping cart ordinance “prohibits failure to affix permanent, identifying signs to that business’s shopping carts, failure to submit a shopping cart plan or request an exemption, and failure to comply with an approved shopping cart plan.”
For the general public, the ordinance “prohibits removing shopping cart from the business premises, possessing an off-site shopping cart, and altering, converting, or tampering with a shopping cart, including removing or defacing an identifying sign or a cart serial number.”
Violating this ordinance would be “a misdemeanor offense and violators may be subject to fine and imprisonment,” although “these more severe penalties would likely apply only to individuals who are repeatedly cited for and found guilty (of violating the ordinance).”
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “Stormy on 60 minutes? If I can get some time off Sunday I'll be there!”
To the Editor:
Since moving here 23 years ago, I have been so grateful to have left Los Angeles and come, at least, to a nice, small town. There are many, many things I appreciate about living here. One of the things I have found odd, confusing and not in the best interests of people living in Ukiah and Mendocino County. That is this local government, both city and county as an example is a comparatively small issue in the big picture, but it cramps my little picture. I cannot give as much money in the way of donations to good, local charities, and for me, that means a lot.
My last City of Ukiah bill has me paying $2 per month for “Street lights.” On my short block of North Pine Street we have one street light for 18 houses. That’s $36 a month the City of Ukiah collects from us every single month. For my “residential swer-1 unit” I pay $62.44 every month (one person in one little house.) Plus I pay another $9.80 for “Residential Sewer Usage-City.” That’s $7.24 for my use of the sewer every month. Further I pay $17.12 for “1-20 gallon can curb” trash pickup a month these days.
I don’t complain much, but this is a lot of money to pay for these things, and I think it’s excessive for the services received.
UKIAH, Thurs., March 22. — A recidivist drunk driver was on the receiving end of guilty verdicts issued this afternoon by a Mendocino County Superior Court jury.
Kent Donald Gladden, age 58, of Ukiah, was convicted of both driving a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and driving a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol .08 or greater. The evidence presented to the jury was that the defendant's blood alcohol at the time of driving was over .16, twice the legal limit. On a separate issue, the jury found the defendant not guilty of two charges alleging that he had inflicted injury on another in the course of his unlawful driving.
Unknown to the jury but later found true by the Court was that defendant Gladden has suffered three prior convictions for driving a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol .08 or greater. The defendant was convicted in Sonoma County in 2007 of that misdemeanor charge. He has also been twice convicted in Mendocino County of that same offense -- once in 2009 and another in 2010, both as misdemeanors.
Because of the finding that the defendant has suffered three prior misdemeanor DUI convictions within the relevant ten-year time period, today's jury verdicts were entered into the record as felony convictions.
The matter was referred to the Mendocino County Adult Probation Department for a social study and sentencing recommendation. A felony sentencing hearing is now calendared for May 4, 2018 at 9 o'clock in the morning in Department H at the Ukiah courthouse.
The prosecutor who questioned witnesses and presented the People's trial evidence to the jury was Deputy District Attorney S. Houston Porter. This was DDA Porter's first felony jury trial. Job well done, Houston.
The investigating law enforcement agencies were the Ukiah Police Department and the California Department of Justice forensic crime lab. The Superior Court judge who presided over the four-day trial was the Honorable John Behnke.
(District Attorney Press Release)
TO ALL THOSE WHO HAVE CONCERNS ABOUT THE OFF HIGHWAY VEHICLE PARK:
MCRPD is holding series of meetings about their 10 year plan.
"The purpose of the meeting is to receive public feedback in regards to recreation needs for the next ten years as part of the district’s current strategic planning process”. There is a meeting this Saturday, March 24 in Albion at the Albion School House, 30400 Albion Ridge Road.
All public meetings are scheduled from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. If you have time to attend this meeting and make your voice be heard regarding your concerns about the OHV Park, please try to attend.
The lone suspect in the shooting death of 22-year-old Autumn Johnson last February 4th in a turnout off Highway 1 in Little River, Andrew Crowningshield, will be back in Mendocino County Superior Court for a "Preliminary hearing" Friday, April 6th @ 10:00 am.
Crowningshield, who is being held without bail, was arraigned Friday, March 2nd on charges of first-degree murder, murder while lying in wait and two special circumstances relating to weapons charges.
Ms. Johnson, who had a child with Crowningshield, was allegedly shot & killed after pulling over in a turnout after being followed by Crowningshield down Highway 1 from Caspar.
He fled in his distinctive pickup truck after the shooting prompting a statewide manhunt and was found and arrested the next morning (Monday, February 5) 186 miles to the east in Elk Creek, CA by Glenn County sheriff deputies.
COMPTCHE 5TH DISTRICT SUPERVISORS CANDIDATE FORUM
Mendocino Cannabis Industry Association is sponsoring a candidate forum. I hope everyone can join us for the forum, as we want to include the entire community for this event.
"Perhaps for the first time in Mendocino County electoral history, there will be a ‘cannabis inclusive’ candidates' forum. Comptche will host all five candidates for the 5th District Supervisor's seat, and they will be on hand to answer questions that will cover a broad range of topics, including cannabis issues facing our community, and how these issues affect the future of Mendocino County. March 31st at the Comptche Community Hall, 30672 Comptche-Ukiah Road. 3pm for food and mixing, with the forum slated for 4-6pm."
Best regards, Mark Shaffer, MCIA Board Member, (707) 272-1349, <firstname.lastname@example.org>
CATCH OF THE DAY, March 23, 2018
JESSE BLANTON, Ukiah. Community Supervision violation.
DAVID BONINO, Alameda/Ukiah. Carjacking.
MICHAEL BROWN, Fort Bragg. Lewd/Lascivious upon child under 14.
QUY HUYNH, Klamath/Ukiah. Petty theft, failure to appear.
JODY MCCOY, Covelo/Ukiah. Controlled substance, suspended license, failure to appear, probation revocation.
LINA MORRIS, Willits. Parole violation, probation revocation.
BRIAN MUNIZ-ALFARO, Fort Bragg. Burglary, domestic abuse, probation revocation.
RICHARD SULLIVAN, Laytonville. Burglary, taking vehicle without owner’s consent, evasion.
DANIEL YEOMANS, Fort Bragg. Battery, disorderly conduct-alcohol, resisting, probation revocation. (Frequent Flyer)
STAND AROUND COMMANDOS
Does not anyone think it’s curious that a pregnant woman and two others were shot, and, despite literally hundreds of armed and trained law enforcement personnel and tons of heavy equipment on hand, all of which we citizens bought and paid for to protect us in situations like this, eight hours went by after the last gun shots before anybody had enough brains or courage or both to consider that an unborn baby might have been saved?
I would have thought that within a minute or so after the firing had stopped, it would have occurred to someone that “we need to get in there right now and do what we can.”
Why do we pay these people to stand around and do nothing? When are we going to get answers?
INTRODUCTION TO TRANSMISSION MEDITATION
Join us to experience a simple form of meditation that helps the planet and builds a stronger connection with your own spiritual nature.
Transmission Meditation is a non-denominational group meditation that does not conflict with other meditations or spiritual practices, but can actually enhance them.
Transmission Meditation is a potent form of world service that anyone, even those with busy lives, can easily do. It can be a mode of service for life, if you so choose.
Do you want to help the world and strengthen the connection to your Higher Self?
Transmission Meditation is the simplest way to do both.
Friday, March 30, 7:00 PM, at the Center for Spiritual Living Gathering Place Fort Bragg Company Store Main & Redwood Streets, Fort Bragg.
Information: 964-4506 or 895-3134
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
The fiction that the Democratic Party is the same as the left is useful for the Democrats as well as their opponents.
A couple of important shifts happened, starting in the early 1990s, that led circumstances to where they stand today. First, Bill Clinton stole Ronald Reagan’s agenda away from the Republicans, and the Republicans never forgave him for it. It was Clinton who deregulated Wall Street and the banks, who passed a crime bill that enormously increased mass incarceration, who eliminated welfare ‘as we know it’, and innumerable other policies that the Republicans had wanted, and failed, to do when Reagan and Bush faced a Democrat-controlled Congress.
At the same time, the Democratic Party stopped representing either labor unions or the left, adopted neoliberal policies coveted by business, and became the party of professionals — the top 20%-or-so earners in society. Ceasing to push economically progressive policies, while taking on identity politics as ideological camouflage, enabled them to join the Republicans who had always bathed in big-money donations — a ruse that worked for the Dems until it didn’t (see: Trump, Donald).
Meanwhile, the Republican Party was being taken over by its extremist fringe, a process that entered the mainstream when they won the House majority in 1994 — around the same time that Fox News started growing into the relentless and lucrative propaganda bullhorn it is today.
Fox News has spent about the past quarter century goosing its ratings by pushing its audience ever farther and farther into the fever swamps of the lunatic right, painting even the most milquetoast, centrist policies as ‘radical leftism’. This includes both balancing the federal budget, which Bill Clinton actually did in the late ’90s if you recall, as well as the Affordable Care Act, which was proposed by a right-wing think tank as a market-friendly alternative to Hillary Clinton’s proposed reforms early in her husband’s presidency.
Democrats = the left? Don’t make me laugh.
EDWARD SNOWDEN HAS GUTS. We all know that. But he demonstrates his fearlessness almost every day. Exiled in Russia and living at the mercy of the Putin regime, Snowden was one of the first to call out the flagrant fixing of last week’s show-trial elections. “The ballot stuffing seen today in Moscow and elsewhere in the Russian election is an effort to steal the influence of 140+ million people,” Snowden wrote in a Tweet. “Demand justice; demand laws and courts that matter. Take your future back.” Snowden is not naive about how dangerous this kind of whistleblowing might be. He’s acutely aware of the fate of Putin critics like Boris Nemtsov and Alexei Navalny. Yet he continues to speak his mind without apparent inhibition.
— Jeffrey St. Clair
by James Kunstler
With spring, things come unstuck; an unspooling has begun. The turnaround at the FBI and Department of Justice has been so swift that even The New York Times has shut up about collusion with Russia — at the same time omitting to report what appears to have been a wholly politicized FBI upper echelon intruding on the 2016 election campaign, and then laboring stealthily to un-do the election result.
The ominous silence enveloping the DOJ the week after Andrew McCabe’s firing — and before the release of the FBI Inspector General’s report — suggests to me that a grand jury is about to convene and indictments are in process, not necessarily from Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s office. The evidence already publicly-aired about FBI machinations and interventions on behalf of Hillary Clinton and against Donald Trump looks bad from any angle, and the wonder was that it took so long for anyone at the agency to answer for it.
McCabe is gone from office and, apparently hung out to dry on the recommendation of his own colleagues. Do not think for a moment that he will just ride off into the sunset. Meanwhile, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, Bruce Ohr, have been sent to the FBI study hall pending some other shoes dropping in a grand jury room. James Comey is out hustling a book he slapped together to manage the optics of his own legal predicament (evidently, lying to a congressional committee). And way out in orbit beyond the gravitation of the FBI, lurk those two other scoundrels, John Brennan, former head of the CIA (now a CNN blabbermouth), and James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence, a new and redundant post in the Deep State’s intel matrix (and ditto a CNN blabbermouth). Brennan especially has been provoked to issue blunt Twitter threats against Mr. Trump, suggesting he might be entering a legal squeeze himself.
None of these public servants have cut a plea bargain yet, as far as is publicly known, but they are all, for sure, in a lot of trouble. Culpability may not stop with them. Tendrils of evidence point to a coordinated campaign that included the Obama White House and the Democratic National Committee starring Hillary Clinton. Robert Mueller even comes into the picture both at the Uranium One end of the story and the other end concerning the activities of his old friend, Mr. Comey. Most tellingly of all, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was not shoved out of office but remains shrouded in silence and mystery as this melodrama plays out, tick, tick, tick.
None of this makes President Trump a more reassuring figure. His lack of decorum remains as awesome as his apparent lack of common sense. But he has labored against the most intense campaign of coordinated calumny ever seen against a chief executive and his fortitude, at least, is impressive. What is unspooling for him, and the body politic, are the nation’s finances, and the dog of an economy that gets wagged by finance. Yesterday’s 724-point dump in the Dow Jones Industrial Average is liable to not be a fluke event, but the beginning of a cascade into the pitiless maw of reality — the reality that just about everything is grossly mispriced.
There is plenty of dysfunction in plain sight to suggest that the financial markets can’t bear the strain of unreality anymore. Between the burgeoning trade wars and the adoption in congress this week of a fiscally suicidal spending bill, you’d want to put your fingers in your ears to not be deafened by the roar of markets tumbling. A 40 to 75 percent drop in the equity markets will leave a lot of one-percent big fish gasping on the beach as the tide rolls out. But the minnows and anchovies will suffer too, as regular economic activity declines in response to tumbling markets. And then the Federal Reserve will ride to the rescue with QE-4, which will very sharply drive the dollar toward worthlessness. The result: a nation with a sucking chest wound, whirling around the drain en route to political pandemonium.
(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page)
“My advice to the non-communist western left is to exorcise the ghost of anti-communism and to look into the history of communism, as it really existed.”
MORE GOVERNMENT PER CAPITA THAN ANY TOWN IN AMERICA
After another young unarmed black man was shot by police (Protests Grip Sacramento After Police Fatally Shoot Unarmed Black Man), I thought of Chris Rock's riff on "real equality":
"You would think that cops would occasionally shoot a white kid just to make it look good. You would think every couple of months they’d look at their dead niggers calendar and go, ‘Oh my God, we’re up to 16! We gotta shoot a white kid quick!'"
Rock continued, explaining that "real equality" would include "white mothers" crying about their dead children. "I wanna live in a world with real equality. I want to live in a world where an equal amount of white kids are shot every month," he said. "I wanna see white mothers on TV, crying, standing next to Al Sharpton, talkin' about, 'We need justice for Chad.' He was just coming home from racquetball practice."
(Rob Anderson, District5Diary)
IF THE GOVERNMENT PASSES through the Rebellion without dismemberment, there is the strongest danger of its falling prey to the rapacity of the office-seeking class. This human struggle and scramble for office, for a way to live without work, will finally test the strength of our institutions.
— Abraham Lincoln
BANG FOR THE BUCK
“Welcome, Patriots! Gun Show Today,” says a big sign outside the Cow Palace in Daly City, California, just south of San Francisco, where the Republican National Convention nominated Barry Goldwater for president in 1964. Inside, past the National Rifle Association table at the door, a vast room, longer than a football field, is completely filled with rows of tables and display cases. They show every conceivable kind of rifle and pistol, gun barrels, triggers, stocks, bullet keychain charms, Japanese swords, telescopic sights, night-vision binoculars, bayonets, a handgun carrier designed to look like a briefcase, and enough ammunition of every caliber to equip the D-Day landing force. Antique guns on sale range from an ancient musket that uses black powder to a Japanese behemoth that fires a bullet 1.2 inches in diameter.
Also arrayed on tables are signs, bumper stickers, and cloth patches you can sew onto your jacket:
9-11 WAS AN INSIDE JOB; THE WALL: IF YOU BUILD IT THEY CANT COME; HUNTING PERMIT UNLIMITED FOR ISIS.
Perhaps 90% of those strolling the aisles are men, and at least 98% are white. They wear enough beards and bushy mustaches to stuff a good-sized mattress. At one table a man is selling black T-shirts that show a map of California in red, with a gold star and hammer and sickle. Which means? “This state’s gone Communist. And I hate to say it, but it was Reagan that gave it to them. The 1986 amnesty program [which granted legal status to some 2.7 million undocumented immigrants].”
If reason played any part in the American love affair with guns, things would have been different a long time ago and we would not have so many mass shootings like the one that took the lives of seventeen high school students in Parkland, Florida on February 14.
Almost everywhere else in the world, if you proposed that virtually any adult not convicted of a felony should be allowed to carry a loaded pistol—openly or concealed—into a bar, a restaurant, or classroom, people would send you off for a psychiatric examination. Yet many states allow this, and in Iowa, a loaded firearm can be carried in public by someone who’s completely blind. Suggest, in response to the latest mass shooting, that still more of us should be armed, and people in most other countries would ask you what you’re smoking. Yet this is the NRA’s answer to the massacres in Orlando, Las Vegas, Newtown, and elsewhere, and after the Parkland killing spree, President Trump suggested arming teachers. One bumper sticker on sale here shows the hammer and sickle again with GUN FREE ZONES KILL PEOPLE.
Nor, when it comes to national legislation, do abundantly clear statistics have any effect. In Massachusetts, which has some of America’s most restrictive firearms laws, three people per 100,000 are killed by guns annually, while in Alaska, which has some of the weakest, the rate is more than seven times as high. Maybe Alaskans need extra guns to fend off bears, but that’s certainly not so in Louisiana, another weak-law state, where the rate is more than six times as high as in Massachusetts. All developed nations regulate firearms more stringently than we do; compared with the citizens of 22 other high-income countries, Americans are ten times more likely to be killed by guns. In the last 50 years alone, more civilians have lost their lives to firearms within the United States than have been killed in uniform in all the wars in American history.
Congress, terrified of the NRA, not only ignores such data but has shielded manufacturers and dealers from any liability for firearms deaths, and has prevented the Centers for Disease Control from doing any studies of gun violence. As of last October—the figure has doubtless risen since then—the top ten recipients of direct or indirect NRA campaign funds in the US Senate had received more than $42 million from the organization over the past 30 years. Funneling a river of money to hundreds of other members of Congress as well, the NRA has certainly gotten what it pays for....
(Adam Hochschild, New York Review of Books)
MEMO OF THE AIR: GOOD NIGHT RADIO FRIDAY NIGHT, ON KNYO AND KMEC.
Or in Low Klingon, grunt/shout: ChoptaHvIS jejlaw' Memo: wab HevwI' Qapla' ramvam, K'NYO 'ej K'MEC!
Tonight I'm doing it by live remote, not from the KNYO performance space at 325 N. Franklin, next door to the Tip Top bar, so make plans to show-and-tell there next week. Or get your own airtime-- contact Bob Young: email@example.com and Bob's your uncle. (That's a term meaning success is assured because someone on your side is watching out for you, in this case one of the actual 36 important Bobs mentioned in the Kabbalah.)
I have a lot of timely and timeless material for tonight's show, arranged in significantly more coherent order than usual because I made time to do our taxes this week and then didn't do the taxes, so it's been a leisurely slog over a wider range and I could be intentional rather than entirely Dada-ist in composition. It'll be fun to see the results.
Further: right now you still have a little time to email your writing to be read on MOTA. Just paste your poem or essay or kvetch or idiosyncratic desire into the body text of an email, check that it's going to me and not also to the whole group, unless that's what you want, and press send. And even if you're reading this after about 6:30pm, it's never too late, just send it anyway and I promise to read it on a future show. Or come in and read it yourself, see above.
Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio: Every Friday, 9pm to 4 or 5am on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg, and 105.1fm KMEC-LP Ukiah. And also there and anywhere else via http://knyo.org or if that doesn't work for you try http://TuneIn.com and look up KNYO-LP. (TuneIn might play an ad first.)
Heghlu'meH QaQ jajvam!
TAI ABREU'S a Fort Bragg guy whose story we've followed for years in the AVA. The following has been published before, but given that the population of both Fort Bragg and the County of Mendocino seems to have turned over since it first appeared, many people are probably unfamiliar with it. We are trying to bring attention to Tai's situation with a view to getting his case back into court. Interested persons should know that his prison record has been literally perfect and that he has completed an impressively large number of college courses. He takes full responsibility for his role in the murder of Donald Perez, although he did not commit the murder. In California, if you're with the person or persons who deliberately kills someone, you are also guilty of murder. Tai was 19 when he was packed off to prison for the rest of his life.
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ONE MURDER, FOUR DEATHS
by Bruce Anderson
It was two days after the astounding events of Tuesday, September 11th, 2001, when a lithe, 39-year-old ex-Marine named Donald Perez withdrew $200 from his savings account in Santa Ana and headed north to Mendocino County for what he anticipated as another sexual romp with an 18-year-old Fort Bragg man-child named August Stuckey.
The next day Perez was dead, his slumped remains sagging from an alder sapling in a brushy margin separating the Noyo River from the A&W logging road. Perez would hang there, undiscovered, for another three weeks.
The dead man was 525 miles from his rented room in Santa Ana, nine-tenths of a mile from the Fort Bragg Police Department, 19 feet from the rutted pavement of the heavily traveled road above his last tree. Perez might still be there if August Stuckey hadn't talked about Perez's murder in front of another young Fort Bragg man named Michael Johnson. Stuckey seemed to think it was funny. Johnson didn’t. He went to the police.
The little bridge over the Noyo was an implausible place for a killing, doubly implausible because even in bad weather it's humming with traffic, much of it on foot and bicycle, but kayakers often paddle past on the nearby river. It's also a popular teen party site, being uniquely remote from prying eyes yet only minutes from downtown Fort Bragg.
It's not a place that rational criminals would choose to do all that happened there to Donald Perez.
But somehow, in a prolonged series of murderous events mostly occurring on the bridge itself, Perez had been carjacked, robbed, hit over the head with a rock, dragged from the bridge, pulled down into the brush between the road and the river, duct-taped to a tree, and probably stabbed in the throat.
And not a soul saw or heard any part of this prolonged death dance.
The pathology report from UC Davis indicates that the "larval infestation" discovered in the area of Perez's throat was most likely attracted to the “purge of fluids” that drain from the nose upon death. But, the report cautions, "Trauma to the neck is not supported. Degree of decomposition in these areas does not confirm the presence of such trauma. Arms overhead and binding of wrists offers the possibility of asphyxiation through respiratory fatigue. Entirely conceivable that the death may not have involved any form of trauma whatsoever but was caused by abandonment. Conclusion, cause of death unknown."
Three young Fort Bragg men, August Stuckey, 18, Aaron Channel, 20, and Tai Abreu, 19, were arrested three weeks after the murder when Stuckey led police to Perez's remains after telling the police that he, Channel and Abreu caused Perez to be where he was — duct taped to a tree and dead.
None of the three alleged murderers had criminal records, none were known to be violent. Their one common denominator was their general estrangement from the society they'd inherited. Their school days had been difficult for them in the social sense, and now they were adrift as young adults.
Stuckey had been a special ed case because of his unruly behavior, Tai Abreu, at the urging of Fort Bragg school officials, had been declared unmanageable by the schools and, at age 12, packed off to Sunny Hills, a children's institution in San Anselmo. And Aaron Channel had dropped out of school after bouncing from Fort Bragg's educational banquet to Mendocino's, at one point leaving school as a 16-year-old to make his way to Oklahoma to romance a girl he'd met on-line.
When the three young men were arrested, Stuckey told multiple stories about what had happened, Abreu told two versions of Perez's last hour, Channel said nothing at all.
Although only one of these unlikely killers cut Perez's throat, if Perez’s throat had been cut, it's fair to say that none of the three was overly concerned with their victim's welfare before, during or after his death.
The murder began on August 28th of 2001 when August Stuckey, stranded in Sacramento, e-mailed Perez asking Perez for money to get back to Fort Bragg. Stuckey would later say he'd fled to Sacramento because another uneven young Fort Bragg man named Shane Merritt was threatening to kill him because Merritt believed Stuckey had stolen some sound equipment from him.
It seems that Perez wired Stuckey the bus fare because the next day Perez was in Fort Bragg where he and Stuckey spent a priapic three days at the Seabird Motel. A few days before their Seabird interlude, Stuckey and Perez had exchanged steamy e-mails featuring photos of Perez with his penis at present arms. Stuckey had e-mailed Perez his phone number and directions to Fort Bragg.
Stuckey would later claim that he and Perez had previously met at the College of the Redwoods campus in Fort Bragg where Stuckey, a talented artist, drew chaste portraits of Perez for small amounts of money. However, the only renderings of Perez found among Stuckey's belongings were internet photos of the nude Perez ithat Perez had taken of himself. That Perez required directions to Fort Bragg to meet Stuckey for the Seabird romp indicated that Perez was unfamiliar with the Mendocino coast prior to August of 2001.
Perez died because he made the fatal mistake of returning to Fort Bragg for what he'd apparently hoped would be another round of sex with Stuckey. He didn't know, couldn't have known, that Stuckey had already decided to rob and kill him. Abreu and Channel became involved in Stuckey's lethal scheme out of a wildly misplaced loyalty to Stuckey. Abreu would tell investigators that Channel feared Stuckey would "fuck it up" on his own.
As it turned out, it took all three of them to "fuck it up."
The three conspirators devised a hazy plan for Stuckey to persuade Perez to drive out the A&W road on the pretext it was a shortcut from the coast to inland Willits and Highway 101. Perez had told his roommate and his landlady back in Santa Ana that he was headed for Washington State, hence his plan for sex in Fort Bragg then to get back on 101 to resume his trip north.
Always a secretive man, Perez didn't say why he was going to Washington, if indeed he intended to go there. Once he was in Fort Bragg with Stuckey, and with Stuckey acting as travel guide and assuring Perez that he could get to Willits on the A&W logging road, on his last day alive Perez and Stuckey turned left at the Fort Bragg Police Department, then drove east over the old bridge into the woods.
The plan was for Stuckey to feign car sickness to get Perez to stop his truck so the three amigos could then overpower and rob Perez. The projected ambush site was more than three miles past the bridge, in a much less travelled area, certainly, than the bridge itself, which is only a mile from heavily populated areas of Fort Bragg.
Operation Perez was supposed to occur shortly after daybreak. But Stuckey and Perez were late arriving. They didn't get to the A&W road until around 9 a.m., by which time Channel and Abreu had tired of waiting and were walking back towards Fort Bragg. They were not far from the bridge when Perez and Stuckey drove up.
Perez was dead twenty minutes later.
Abreu now says his amended story about what happened is untrue, but it does tend to corroborate Stuckey's fluid versions of Perez's death. It also buttresses the account of Michael Johnson, the Fort Bragg youth who eventually went to the police to say he'd heard his three friends talking about the murder while the four of them were smoking pot in Johnson's Livingston Street backyard.
Johnson told police that August Stuckey had told him, “We killed a guy,” and that the "guy deserved to die.” Johnson said he asked Aaron Channel why they'd done it. Channel, Johnson said, replied that he was just helping Stuckey, who was going to do it anyway and would probably mess it up. Johnson recalled that Channel thought the murder had occurred "around September 18th." Johnson said his three friends told him that they had poured alcohol on the floor of Perez’s truck to make the cops think Perez had gotten drunk and had wandered out in the woods where he became fatally lost. Johnson said that Stuckey had also asked him about how he might cook up some home made napalm so he could go back out to Perez's body to completely obliterate Perez's remains. Johnson told police he remembered Tai Abreu borrowing a shovel to "bury something." Johnson thought the "something" were cameras stolen from Perez. And, Johnson told the police, when he asked his three pot pals how they knew "the guy" was dead, Channel reportedly said, "He gurgled, that's how we knew he was dead."
The same day Johnson came to the police with the news that his three friends had murdered someone, Stuckey, before leading police to Perez's corpse, was telling investigators that Channel and Abreu had forced him into a scheme to rob Perez or they'd harm Stuckey's sister. Stuckey said he'd only been involved out of fear for his sister's welfare. He said he hadn't been down in the bushes when Perez was duct taped to the tree.
Investigators immediately went to Stuckey's sister, Candace, then a student at Mendocino High School, to see if Candace might confirm the most important element of her brother's story — his involvement.
Candace said she'd "rather be taking her chemistry test," but, yes, her brother August had told her how a couple of his friends had taken a man out into the woods, robbed him and then cut his throat. Candace tearfully said her brother often lied to her but she was sure he was telling the truth this time. Candace told the police that the two friends of her brother's who had done the killing were Tai Abreu and Aaron Channel. Candace said Abreu and Channel had threatened to rape and kill her if August didn't help them rob Perez. Candace said her brother had been tortured by Channel and Abreu into going along with the scheme.
Both Abreu's and Stuckey's accounts have always exempted themselves from responsibility for the murder. They both said they were up on the road when Perez got it in the throat with the K-bar knife. They both admitted that they were only part of a plan to rob Perez and that Aaron Channel was the third person involved.
Abreu would later claim that his confession to detective Kevin Bailey was not only untrue but falsely obtained because his request that an attorney be present when he talked to Bailey had been ignored. Channel would subsequently admit that he was involved in the crime only after Perez was dead, and Stuckey would say he was involved but hadn't stabbed anyone with the military knife he habitually wore on his belt, nor had he stabbed anyone with any other kind of cutting instrument
In the three weeks Perez's mummified corpse was wrapped to the tree by the Noyo, nobody saw his remains, nobody smelled his remains, no dog barked at his remains, although all anybody had to do was look off the side of the road and there he was, sagging to earth between a few feet from pavement above the river.
The police, directed to what was left of Perez by Stuckey, seemed as surprised at the body's proximity to the busy road as they were at the improbability of the site as a murder scene.
"We responded out the A&W Logging Road approximately one mile where we met deputies and search and rescue personnel. Lt. Miller directed us to a location just west of the first bridge on the logging road. We looked off the road and observed a male adult hanging by his hands, which were tied around a tree. Perez's wallet, containing his driver's license, his credit cards, and his ATM card, was found undisturbed in his trousers.
"Considering it happened during daylight hours," detective Bailey would say, "to say that they were lucky to get away with all that right there is an understatement. Not only is it a pretty popular place — we have County employees who walk that road on a daily basis — for his remains to be maybe 20 feet off the roadway and not be discovered is amazing. There's nothing in the vehicle to indicate that he was killed in the vehicle. If they'd killed him some other place then transported him in the vehicle there would have been some trace evidence in the vehicle. They did it all right there. They were very lucky."
Although gay interest groups would immediately demand that the three be charged with a hate crime because Perez was gay, the sexual motive didn't seem to have been a factor in his murder. Stuckey is gay and Abreu actively bi-sexual. Channel is heterosexual but not known to be intolerant of gays or anybody else except "child molesters," among whose ranks he apparently included Perez.
The sexually ecumenical hijackers, it seems, just wanted Perez's property, which consisted of two hundred dollars in cash, a hand-held 8 millimeter camera, a 35 millimeter camcorder, camera lenses, four canisters of film, a battery charger for the camcorder, and music cd's including Nirvana and Suicidal Tendencies, all of it found buried in Abreu's green duffel bag.
Stuckey's multiple accounts, scattered as they were, confirmed that the police had arrested the three persons responsible for Perez's death. Abreu's and Stuckey's accounts also bolstered the information about Perez's murder brought to the police by Michael Johnson, a drug buddy of the three young hijackers and an occasional sex partner of Stuckey's. But it was Abreu's confession to detective Kevin Bailey of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Department that would send all three to state prison, Abreu for the rest of his life.
A wiry, restless young man who always seems to be in motion whether seated or upright, the kinetic Abreu sat in the stark interview room of the Mendocino County jail complex in Ukiah the afternoon of October 9th, waiting for detective Bailey. As he waited, he mouthed fragments of a love song, rhythmically accompanying himself by slapping his hands on the interview desk.
If Abreu had known he was about to put himself in prison for the rest of his life, if he'd known that the law says he was as guilty as whomever it was who duct taped Perez to the tree and stabbed him in the throat, if Abreu had known that detective Bailey was not his friend, not some kind of surrogate daddy, but only a cop doing his job, if only he'd had the lawyer present he'd asked for, Tai Abreu might have saved himself. But he was young and inexperienced, unexperienced, really, and nobody was on his side, least of all the lawyer he finally got after it was too late.
On the day that doomed him, Tai had asked that an attorney be on hand for his interview with the detective hours before Bailey arrived, but Bailey just slipped Tai on into confession mode as if Tai's three-hours-ago request for a lawyer had never been made.
Abreu would always insist that he'd been up on the road as lookout man when Stuckey and Channel killed Perez down in the bushes. They did the murder part of the crime, not him. Whoever did what, It took the kid only an hour with Detective Bailey to put himself in prison for the rest of his life.
Detective Bailey is a youthful, fit-looking man in his mid-thirties, close enough in age and general experience to the young people he mostly deals with to understand their formative social and cultural influences. Hip to youth idiom, Bailey throws a lot of "dudes" into his interrogations, as in, "Dude, I know it's tough." Or, "Dude, like, I'm here for you.” Bailey comes across as a genuinely nice guy. Maybe he is, but it's his job to solve crimes, and the hyper young man sitting across from him was involved in the most serious crime there is.
Bailey proceeded to conduct a carefully seductive interrogation during which 19-year-old Tai inexorably convicted himself of murder.
"Well, first off," Tai began, "I want to explain my reasoning why I did not talk the first day when we had our conversation, and that you've probably been informed, I was scared shitless."
Bailey, who might have been Tai's favorite uncle, replied, "Dude, I would have been too."
"I was let in on some information that I did not want to know," Abreu continued. "I was told about August's and Aaron's interaction with this Perez guy or whatever his name is. My dad says sing like a fucking canary. He told me to do what you have to do to make sure that you don't go down for something that you didn't do."
"And I respect you for coming in here and doing it, and I respect the reasons that you came in here and did it," Bailey said, reeling in the young fish, taking care to separate Abreu from Stuckey.
"That guy's about as sharp as a bowl of jello," the detective remarked about Stuckey. "Don't get me wrong. I honestly think that he can probably take a computer apart and put it together blindfolded, but I think he's basically a social retard."
"He's been a recluse for like six years," Abreu said. "I knew him back in the 6th grade. We hardly hung out. The dude, like, never talked. He is what I would describe as the quiet type of psycho. And he has really no social interaction skills that I can see."
Turning from Stuckey's multiple deficiencies, Bailey assured Abreu, "Basically what we're talking about is damage control now. The water has already hit the island. How much damage is it going to do? That's where we're at. The case is basically done. I've been working on this missing person case since the day it started. That's been over three weeks. I've talked to the guy's family just about daily for three weeks. I didn't know Mr. Perez. I never met him. I don't know what kind of person he was. I know he was into some pretty strange stuff. But I do know that he's got a good family. He's got a very good mother. He's got a very good sister. And they're really, really tore up over this. We want to see the right people get what they have coming. We want the people that are responsible held accountable. And like I said, I respect you coming in here and doing this, but there are some gaps that I need you to fill in, Tai. I'm in here, and I know it's hard to believe, but I'm in here working for you. And if you're only going to give me half of it, man, I can't do my job."
Abreu replied, "Aaron said he's the one who stuck him. Said he got him in the throat, pushed it in straight back like that. He was going for a direct no-questions-asked-the-guy-is-dead. August planned on killing the guy from the start because he didn't want any witnesses."
Bailey was reeling fast now.
"What else do you have to tell me, because if you're holding something back you need to let it go. You're not going to feel good about yourself until you do."
Abreu gave up more.
"The only one other fact is that I went out with Hippy (Channel) to bury the stuff. I drove the car out there. I'm sorry I wasn't straight about that, but that's one thing that I didn't want you to know."
His soothing fisher of souls self to the fore, Bailey kept on reeling.
"When I give you an opportunity to help yourself like I did today, I dropped everything over in Fort Bragg to come all the way over here to give you an opportunity to help yourself. You need to take advantage of it. It's an opportunity that I'm giving you. I'm not giving it to those other two (Stuckey and Channel) because I know they're going to come in here and lie to me. I know they're going to come in here and play games with me, and I don't have time for that. I've talked to you before: I know that you're going to be straight with me. I know it's not going to be easy. We're going to get through it, and believe me you're going to be a better man for it. Your family is going to be better for it and Jennifer (Jennifer Wolchik, Tai's close friend) is going to be better for it."
"Yeah," Abreu said. "My big concern is I don't want to go down for murder so, okay, here we go. Straight facts. August approached Hippy and I the night before the incident occurred. He said, 'There's this dude I've been talking to on-line who has these things that I want. He's coming down tomorrow morning. I'm going to off him. I want his stuff.' Hippy and I looked at him. Hippy said, 'Dude, you ain't doing this alone. You'll fuck it up like mad.' Hippy knows August, knows he's stupid."
"Yeah, he is," Bailey agreed.
"So at that point," Abreu continued, "Aaron's point of view changed from, 'My friend's going to do something dumb to, 'I'm going to make sure he doesn't do everything dumb.' And they discussed it. I was there with them. I witnessed the conversation. We planned it out and stayed up all night. The next morning we went down the A&W logging road about 6 a.m. It was still dark when we walked down there. And we walked. We went behind the Redwood Health Club so we wouldn't be seen actually walking on the road. We walked down A&W logging road and...."
"Take your time, man," Bailey said. "You've been holding it a long time."
"So," Abreu continued, "we walked down the A&W logging road and we stashed (hid out) just past the bridge. There's this one spot where you can walk down, and there's some trees and a nice climbing area that I used to hang out at. We stashed down there. We remained on scene, and we watched the vehicles that drove by. We waited there. I was told the vehicle was a Dodge Ram. Stuckey told me the color but I couldn't remember it. So I was just like watching for anything that could be a Dodge Ram. Hippy and I took turns at watch. We took naps. The plan was that if by 9 o'clock there was no sighting we were going to call August, see what was up, see if the guy had, you know, some sort of delay getting there.
"9 o'clock rolled around. We were using Hippy's pocket organizer to check the time because it had a little clock on it. No sign of anything. We walked up to the road. I look up and I see a blue truck parked just down the road facing this way, no one in it. And I looked at it and it's a Dodge Ram. As I'm standing there, August and this Perez dude walk down from a hill along side the road. There's like this hill across from where the truck was parked and this little hard-to-see trail. August had his K-bar knife at his side at the time.
"Hippy and I walked up and August introduced us to the guy, and this is about the screwiest part when August introduced us to him. We had a short conversation with him. He said he was interested in possibly moving here. I don't know if he was just shooting the shit or trying to make conversation or what. I kept pretty much quiet the entire time because I was in a situation I didn't want to be involved in. I didn't really want to be there. I was dumb and got talked into it. Anyway, Hippy suggested a couple of job options. The dude mentioned he was a trucker. Hippy told him there was a job option around where you could be a trucker pretty easy. Pretty much fishing industry and logging industry is what there was in Fort Bragg.
"That took about five, ten minutes of conversation. Then August knocked the guy's glasses off and said, 'Okay. There's two ways this can happen. There's the easy way and then there's your way.' He told the guy to step out of his truck. He started walking the dude up the hill. I was going to stay by the truck and keep watch. The dude tried to run off. He runs towards the bridge and he didn't have his glasses at the time. Hippy had them in his pocket. The guy bolts for the bridge. He stops at the bridge, and Hippy laughed and said, 'Oh, so you're going to make your stand at the bridge.' I mean he was just totally getting a kick out of the situation. And the guy turns around. August and Hippy stop. I'm still back by the truck. The dude left his keys there. He had an extra copy. There was a set inside the truck and he probably had the other set on him. And he turns around and says, 'At least let me have my glasses back. I've got 200 bucks in my wallet and you can have that if you let me have my glasses and move on.' August stopped, put his K-bar in his sheath and said to the guy, 'All right. You set down the money, I'll set down your glasses. The guy said, 'I'm coming to set the money down. I'm going to back off. You come and pick up the money, drop the glasses, and then you back off.'"
"He walked down on to the bridge and set the money down at the edge of the bridge. Then he backed up. August walked up, picked up the money, set down the glasses and stayed standing right there. Perez looked at him and backed off. Perez said, 'You don't get to be around my glasses', and Perez runs up and grabs them and turns around and starts running, and puts them on as he's running. But he loses his footing and then Hippy clubbed him in the head with a rock. Right there I would have to say it was probably an instant concussion. Hippy's got some good swinging power behind his arms.
"And, um, Perez fell down. I got in the truck and started it up. I had a pair of socks on my hands because I was avoiding fingerprints. I drove the truck up to the far side of the bridge to the little pullout. I turned it around and faced it the other way because they wanted to drive the truck down the road. While I was there with the truck there was some rustling in the bushes. About five minutes later August and Hippy come running up to the truck and told me to go.
"There was a dude that had passed by not too long before, probably the guy that identified us, probably one of the loggers. The logger was going down the road, right on past us. We took Perez's truck down to the end of the road (east) and crashed it there at the spot where you guys found it. Hippy spilled the alcohol around to make it look like some kind of drunk driving thing. We wiped down the truck for prints. August and Hippy moved off up the road. I stayed at the truck for a minute and kept watch on the situation before I went to catch up with them. I didn't know the path to the egg taking station (a remote state park camp ground near a facility where Fish and Game staff take eggs from migrating salmon and steelhead for fish restoration in the Noyo River) so I took a left and went the wrong way before I realized it and turned back around to come back. I met them again and they told me where they burned and buried all the stuff. They decided they didn't want to go to the egg taking station because it was in sight of CDF and everyone else who could see us. As one of the CDF trucks came by we dove down in the bushes. We heard the Skunk train go by. We walked down hill to the tracks and walked to DeWitt's house in town. From there I tried to forget about the situation.
Bailey asked, "Did you guys tell anybody what you did?"
Abreu, telling all, replied: "August informed Mike Johnson of what happened, which was pretty dumb. The way that happened was me and Hippy were at Mike's house. We were hanging out with him in his backyard in his old Cutlass Supreme, the car he had that was all beat up and messed up. While we were there, August showed up. He walked out to the backyard because he noticed no one was in the house, but the music was going and the door was open. Obviously someone was home. August saw us in the car in the backyard and got in with us. Then he said, 'Dude, we've got to tell Mike about what happened.' I looked at him and I was like, 'Dude, you're nuts.' And August starts blabbering at Mike about what went down. Apparently August's reasoning was that he wanted to find some explosives so he could burn the area where the body was to get rid of hair, DNA, fingerprints stuff like that."
"It's reasonable," Bailey agreed. "Not rational, though. Did you guys ever go back out there to where Perez was?"
"There was one time," Abreu recalled, "after the incident where Hippy and I were down there. Jen was driving my car and we were hanging out for the night and I was passing out in the car and she didn't want to drop me off anywhere because I was passing out. So she drove down the A&W road. While we were there we fell asleep. A truck pulled up behind us, and I heard this from Jen while we were driving home because I was still asleep. She said an inspector came out and said, 'Okay, you guys need to leave.' And so we left. And that was the only other time I had been out there anywhere near where Perez was."
"You never took anybody out and showed them the body?" Bailey asked.
"I'm not that dumb," Abreu said. "I did not go back to the location at all."
Bailey, now in therapist mode, commiserated.
"That's a big burden to haul around on your shoulders. It's been eating you. For weeks it's been eating you."
"As I said before, I was scared and I didn't know what I was going to do because I got into a situation I did not need to be wrapped up in."
Bailey pressed on.
"Whose idea was it?"
Abreu answered, "August's."
Bailey, disbelieving, "Who put the plan together? August didn't put the plan together."
Abreu explained that "August said he was going to have Perez drive out a logging road. He specified A&W because it was the first one that popped to mind. He threw this plan all together in one night. And we went along, we did what seemed right. Spilling the alcohol in the truck was a convenient situation because the alcohol was already there in the truck. And like I said, Hippy threw the bottles."
"Whose idea was it to duct tape him?" Bailey asked.
"That would have been Hippy or August," Abreu said, "because August had a small roll of duct tape that he said he picked up at Circle K. He brought that out with him. And it was, like, the restraining thing."
"When I put the duct tape under the microscope, is it going to match the duct tape that was in your car?" Bailey wanted to know.
Abreu said, "Hippy got rid of the duct tape that was used. I don't know where he got rid of it, but he informed me he got rid of it."
Bailey was sweeping up. The case was made.
"Anything else you can think of? Anybody else who knows what went down out there other than what you told me about?"
Abreu answered, "Like I said, August informed Mike [Johnson]. Other than that, I don't know of anyone else he would have informed."
"Mike's like you," Bailey said. "He doesn't want to go down for something he didn't do. Getting back to when they came back up out of the bushes, what did they tell you had happened?"
Abreu recalled, "Originally, it was a scramble to get into the truck and get out of there. As we were going, I looked at them, and I said, 'Is he, you know, is he dead'? And Aaron said, 'I got him right in the throat. He gurgled.' And August said, 'Living people don't gurgle,' which was a spin-off of a joke from The Critic when The Critic's dad says, 'Penguins don't fly.' "
Bailey, like everyone else in law enforcement who would encounter Stuckey, commented, "That guy's not operating on all cylinders."
Abreu agreed. "August has like about half his brain functioning for him, the other half functioning against him."
There it was, a murder, and all of it occurring in broad daylight on a perfect late summer Friday not a mile from the Fort Bragg police station.
Everyone in Fort Bragg knows the spot, knows it would be just about the most unlikely place on the entire Mendocino Coast to hijack a passerby, chase him back and forth on a normally busy bridge, assault him, ransom his glasses, hit him over the head, drag him down off the road into the bushes, duct tape him to a tree, and plunge a knife blade into his throat.
District Attorney Vroman saw the case as emphatically open and emphatically shut.
"Each one of them was charged and the implication was different in each one. We got an L-WOP (life without the possibility of parole) on Abreu. The other two got 15 to life by pleading. Abreu was offered a plea and he didn't take it. Taking cases to trial is never a slam dunk so we were very happy with all three of the sentences in this case."
Channel got a determinate sentence of 19 years, 7 months; Stuckey got 15 indeterminate years. Channel will do his time and get out. Stuckey will have to convince a parole board he is no longer a menace to society before he gets out. Abreu got a one-day trial and life without the possibility of parole.
Linda Thompson is the lead defender in Mendocino County's historically weak Public Defender's office. Tai Abreu isn't the first indigent Thompson has misrepresented, but he’s the only defendant she defended into life without even the possibility of parole. For Tai, a 19-year-old charged with first degree murder, Thompson managed a non-defense that put him away forever. She did not challenge a single prospective juror, she called no witnesses on Tai's behalf and, wrapping up, agreed with the prosecution's denunciation of Tai as a remorseless killer and all-round bad guy.
Worse, Tai's deluded defense attorney had advised her doomed client to turn down the DA's offer of 15-to-life and take his non-case to a jury of his peers. Thompson told Tai she could get him off because detective Bailey had interrogated him without a lawyer present. On his end, the 19-year-old Tai thought he was innocent period because he'd been up on the road as lookout man. He did not know that under California law, if a person dies in the commission of a crime, everyone involved in that crime is responsible for the death.
Public defender Thompson spent her several hours of Tai's one-day murder trial arguing that Tai was not properly advised of his right to an attorney, concluding her presentation with an unfounded assessment of Tai's personality she seems to have derived directly from the DA's office.
Rather than grab the offer from the DA and thank the lord for 15-to-life, Ms. Thompson convinced Tai to go to trial. Tai said yes to the worst possible legal advice he could get in his situation. Yes, take me to the jury, Ms. Thompson. I didn't do anything to the guy. I was lookout up on the road when the other two guys were down in the bushes killing him. I didn't kill him and I didn't know that they were going to kill him.
Ms. Thompson said nothing to change Tai's mind. She didn't say anything to change the jury's mind either. The tiny woman who dresses in men's suits thought she could talk a conservative, rural jury into letting Tai go home.
So Tai went to trail. He got one whole day before an unchallenged jury not of his peers, a jury consisting mostly of older retired people, the kind of people who don't refer to non-specific others as "dude." Worse, one of his jurors may have been hostile to Tai for reasons having nothing to do with the accusations against him. This juror was a Fort Bragg man hostile to Tai because he disapproved of a relationship Tai once had with his daughter. His Ukiah jury wasted no time finding Tai guilty of murder in the first degree. A few months later Tai was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole by Judge Richard "Rickey" Henderson, a Ukiah Republican appointed to Mendocino County's uniquely over-large superior court for reasons unrelated to his legal abilities, let alone whatever commitment to proportionate justice he may possess.
(Mendocino County's far-flung population of less than a hundred thousand people supports 9 superior court judges, a figure that does not include the dozen or so judges who've "retired" from the Mendocino County bench but double dip as part-time, fill-in judges around the state. Henderson is only one of many starving outback lawyers promoted to instant prosperity by a fortuitous change in the state law which, by legislative fiat in the middle 1970's, elevated the county's one-session-a-week justice court judges to full-time, full pay and benefits, superior court judges.)
About the time that Linda Thompson was putting her client Tai Abreu away for the rest of his life, a popular Ukiah firefighter by the name of Bruechler murdered his layabout son. Bruechler's son was asleep when pop took the ax to him. Bruechler was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. He did a year in prison. Mendocino County justice, like justice everywhere, depends a whole lot on who you are.
Aaron Channel and August Stuckey, having seen what happened to their co-conspirator Mr. Abreu, quickly decided to plead guilty to lesser charges. Aaron received a determinate 19-year sentence, meaning he'll be free before he's forty. August got 15-to-life, meaning he, too, will probably be free before he's forty, although August will have to convince a parole board that he's no longer a criminally disposed before he's freed.
If Tai is telling the truth about his part in the murder of Donald Perez, he was the least involved participant, but he'll never get out of prison while Perez's true killer will get out.
Public defender Linda Thompson killed Tai Abreu as dead as Donald Perez.