The only local surprise, for us anyway, is candidate Roderick's failure to make the cut. We thought it would be him vs. Ted Williams in the runoff for 5th District Supervisor, but Roderick ran a distant third and we have two candidates from the Albion Nation in the runoff. Check that: Williams now lives in Mendocino, which is only a psychic lateral move politically considered.
WE THOUGHT the wine and grape people would join the 5th District's more conservative voters in a solid bloc for Roderick, but given the numbers the Right didn't turn out, at least not in the Fifth District, confirming our theory that Mendo County's conservatives are more bluster than action. A mere 18% of the total vote went to Roderick, and he had everyone from the recumbent incumbent Hamburg, formerly a liberal, to prominent Trumpers like Bonnie and Jared Carter, reinforced by Ukiah's favorite free enterpriser, Ross Liberty. The conservatives seem to have given up on seriously contesting the 5th. Beyond rhetorical support for Roderick and a few bucks they didn't get out the vote for their candidate.
COASTLIB, and you've got to hand it to them, not only pays close attention to local politics, they act locally to get their people into office and installed at the levers of all the County's non-profits. Their umbrella organization is the Mendocino County Democratic Party. The Republican Party trots out Stan Anderson for ceremonial purposes but is otherwise invisible and, as an active political presence, uh, on the permanently disabled list here on the Northcoast.
NOT THAT WILLIAMS is necessarily a liberal of the lock-step type, but Skyhawk, known around the AVA as "Hamburg Lite," is. A lock-stepper, that is. Hamburg has never fought out of the fleaweight division, and never represented a way forward from business as usual, which in this county is gross, relentless opportunism behind smiley-faced liberal facades. But get in the way of the self-interest of these people and you'll quickly find out how liberal they are. (Think of that bobcat you accidentally trapped in your Have-A-Heart.) You can be sure Mendo's bureaucrats will be pulling for Skyhawk on the safe assumption he is unlikely to disturb them. Williams is more a wildcard. He might go rogue, might even try to make things work a little better which is going rogue Mendo style.
A RUN-OFF between Skyhawk and Williams will be terribly boring, but perhaps amusing as the Warm Fuzzies stump for Williams and the Fuzzy Warms shake their chakras for The Hawk. Both candidates derive from the same political parents, so to speak.
UP IN THE wild northeast of Mendocino County, the 3rd District, Cowboy Johnny Pinches has emerged from the emergency medical wards to rally his unique constituency of rednecks, bush hippies, restive Indians, seriously estranged combat vets, miscellaneous outlaws, and old fashioned liberals to roar into a run-off with John Haschak, a Willits teacher whose wife doesn't hesitate to do his talking for for him. Take it away, Mrs. Haschak:
”IT’S TRUE Haschak is not a career politician so he did have to buy a lot of signs (didn’t have any from previous campaigns laying around). Also, the mailers were pricey for sure, but we had to tell the people what he’s about and once we did they were convinced to vote for him. People are especially impressed by the fact that he is the only candidate who has pledged to not take the almost 40% raise the BOS recently voted themselves. He feels It’s not okay to give yourself a huge raise when the workers haven’t received anything near that and the county is deficit spending. Please ask your candidate if they’re going to take this raise. Haschak is a fighter and he will fight for the people of our county. Look at his record and his life’s work and you will see that he is truly a man of the people. So yes, money was spent and people were informed about Haschak. Going against a three time supervisor and with 8 people in the race it seemed necessary to spend some money and allow people an informed vote."
(THE HASCHAKS AT HOME: "Haschak, on your feet!" Yes, ma'am. "Don't take this from Pinches, Haschak!" Yes, ma'am. "Speak up, Haschak!" Yes, ma'am. "Louder, Haschak, louder!" Yes, ma'am....)
PINCHES VS HASCHAK will be close, and we must say we admire Haschak's stand on the Supe's entirely undeserved raise they granted themselves, going to elaborate lengths to justify their pay grab by dubious references to "the law." But Pinches has always had an entirely local focus, and he's a guy who not only knows the County Budget, he walks around with it, probably kisses it good night. Best of all, he's a truly independent voice with an eternal eye out for indefensible spending and practices.
THE FORMIDABLE MRS. HASCHAK COMMENTS: “But seriously folks, isn’t there just a touch of irony, or would it be hypocrisy, in attributing the following to Pinches, ‘Best of all, he’s a truly independent voice with an eternal eye out for indefensible spending and practices.’ Really? Have you forgotten or not heard that Pinches, when asked if he would take the 39% raise the BOS voted themselves responded, ‘Why yes I would, and you can bet I’d be worth every nickel of it!’ Even in that folksy retort we can see he’s not the candidate with the ‘eye out for indefensible spending and practices.’ Money talks, and in this case it talks volumes. How about those county workers? How about any worker who doesn’t have the ability to award themselves a 39% increase? Do you suppose they too feel they are worth, “every nickel of it!”? Ask John Pinches if he is a man of the people and then ask him how he justifies taking the indefensible 39% pay raise.”
MRS. H has a point. We were surprised that the ordinarily frugal Pinches came out for the raise, which we complained loud and long about when the Supes awarded it to themselves. Given their performances before and since they deserved a pay reduction if anything, and it was particularly egregious of Croskey, Hamburg and Carre Brown, all lame ducks, to vote a pay increase for themselves as they depart, with Hamburg and Brown departing with liberally sweetened retirement packages. This is the county whose line workers regularly leave for higher pay, and here we have a grotesquely overpaid leadership apparatus giving themselves more and more. That said, Mrs. H, hubbykins is going to need more than this in the way of real issues. The pay rip-off is a done deal.
MEASURE C, the bump in property taxes to support Coast Hospital, lost by less than a hundred votes than the two-thirds needed, the result of years of mis-management at the top. A few too many voters took the attitude that passage of an increase in the district's property tax would only encourage more of the same. But, as we go to press, Measure C is only short about a hundred votes. It may yet be voted into law.
STARTLING to hear a robo election call from, of all persons, Andy Caffrey, candidate for Congress. An old Earth First!er during social activism's last gasp circa 1990, the would-be solon from Garberville sounded slicker than the oblivious San Rafael incumbent, Huffman, the professional Democrat inflicted on us from the party's Billery wing. Caffrey said all the correct stuff, including a claim that he was famous for having launched opposition to GMOs. (Stand back! Fame is in the room!) The other candidate in the race is a Republican who makes his way as Garberville grocer, a prole who identifies with the ruling class. As does Huffman and the mainstream Democrats, so Caffrey got the ava's vote, robo call notwithstanding.
AT THE STATE LEVEL, the run-off for Governor will pit a sociopath (Newsom) against a psychopath (Cox). This one will be one for the pathology textbooks.
KEVIN de LEON is a defensible choice against Feinstein, the ancient Republicrat, at least among Democrats who still think their party represents the way forward.
THE INTERCHANGEABLE CIPHERS — Huffman, Wood, McGuire — were all certified as career officeholders and staunch defenders of the grape and wine money that installed them in what feels like permanent office.
JUDGE PERSKY, the recalled judge? The Stanford rapist certainly deserved a term in state prison, but the judge merely followed the lightweight charges filed in the case by the DA. The judge didn't deserve to be recalled.
ART SAYS FAREWELL. “I want to congratulate my fellow candidates as the voters choice. I got a call from my friend in Canada and he asked me why Chris changed his name, what is he hiding? I told him Chris works with children and has to be certified. In our Rotary group we give dictionaries to children and we are required to have our backgrounds checked and have fingerprints taken. I think my friend as a French Canadian was upset as he is extremely proud to be French. He told me that Chris’s father’s name was Latteau, that I guess being French! I hope that the new supervisor will take action with the budget and accountability of the county workers. As I saw in the article today the BOS relies on information from the overworked CEO without substantial facts. I surely hope there will be changes in the future. I will now reactivate my Real Estate and Insurance business and will still support the Sheriff on Measure B. Although I still believe in a satellite program rather than a large institution. Arthur E. Juhl”
EXHIBIT A of why the Mendocino County Grand Jury has no bite: "Prior to publication, each grand jury report is reviewed and approved by the full panel of seated jurors and is reviewed by the Mendocino County Counsel and the Presiding Judge of the Superior Court." If this is meant to be reassuring, it isn’t.
A READER WRITES:
MRC in the act of major hypocrisy. Take a look at this YouTube revelation. MRC's vp is saying the company knew about Measure M before the filing deadline 18 months ago and chose not to oppose it, and now they're claiming a refund, and spending more on lawyers than the fire protection tax they should pay as a matter of neighborliness.
The trial is scheduled for later this month.
WORD DRIFTING over the hill from Pinoleville, is that the rez just north of Ukiah is looking at serious federal charges that include racketeering, which are scheduled to be sorted out in Oakland in August.
A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO, the Supreme Court repealed a 1992 federal law that banned commercial sports betting in most states, opening the door to legalizing the estimated $150 billion that Americans bet on ball games every year.
BUT just because sports betting has been illegal in California, it obviously hasn't stopped people, mostly men, from "illegally" placing bets on sports.
MY LATE BROTHER got disastrously into gambling in the middle 1970s, and even arranged for his bookie to accept bets from me, which I placed by telephone a few too many times before I grasped that I was a pure fool for doing it.
THE GUY at the other end would ask for my sportin' life pseudonym, which had been pre-arranged by my brother. I chose "Boonville Bob." The minimum bet was a hundred bucks, and I writhed in mortal anguish all week that I was going to be out two-to-three hundred I could ill afford, a loss I'd never hear the end of should it become known to my much better half.
“WHADDYA WANNA DO, today, Boonville Bob?" I'd then bet my heart on the Niners and the Raiders, the two NorCal home teams I'd followed forever via the sports pages. For all the knowledge I had of pro football, I might as well have been betting on the date of the next big earthquake.
I WAS DOWN a couple hundred dollars when I quit. Or came to my senses, I should say, because I'd immediately understood who I was dealing with when, on Sundays, I'd meet the money man in the parking lot of the Larkspur Ferry where I'd pay what I owed or he'd pay me my modest winnings. He was a very large man, the type of tough guy you would not want to be on the wrong side of. You saw at a glance why he held the job he held. And he was all business. He'd glance at me, look at his pay and owe sheet: "I'll take two hundred." Or, "Here's your two hundred." He carried a large amount of cash in a cardboard box in the trunk of his car, which I recall was a rental.
MY BROTHER got in deep with these people, so deep he lost one of the two houses he owned in Ukiah and, on top of that loss, he'd owed a lot more, so much more Bro had to go to work weekends for this mafia at their phone house, typically a suburban look alike in the East Bay they'd rent for a few months before moving their phone ops to another nondescript suburban house, always one step ahead of the law, assuming the law was looking for them. My brother, before he lost so much he had nothing left to lose, probably came close to losing more than property when they gave him a big break by letting him work off his debt by commuting weekends to answer their phones. He said there were a dozen men, all men, taking bets, and the phones never stopped ringing.
MENDO’S NEW Chief Probation Officer, a fairly young guy named Izen Locatelli, told the Supervisors Wednesday that there were only two options for Mendo’s suddenly too expensive Juvenile Hall: Close it and send the “kids” to Sonoma County, or keep it open at a minimum of $2.2 million, which Locatelli insisted couldn’t be cut. (‘Suddenly’ because there’s no reporting from County bureaucracies; these big deficits are always a big surprise, and of course no one is responsible.)
A PARADE of judges and lawyers and Juvenile Justice Commissioners told the Board, in essence: Don’t close the hall; bad idea for this or that or the other reason. Nobody disputed that the Hall should stay open if possible. But not one of them had even the slightest idea how to reduce the number of beds or cut back staff. They all seemed to think that the Board is just there to pay the bill for the Hall, whatever the cost.
FOR THEIR PART the Supervisors had very little to offer, simply repeating version after version of “money doesn’t grow on trees,” and “gosh this is tough.”
ALTHOUGH several Supes uttered laughable descriptives like “eloquent” (Hamburg) and engaged in gratuitous ass kissing like this from McCowen, “CEO Angelo deserves credit for bringing this forward,” not one person asked how the situation got this bad before anyone noticed it, or why there weren’t more options, or why the Juvenile Justice Commission didn’t present any ideas, or why the DA had not been consulted, or why the County School Superintendents (who offered to present a new Juvenile Hall model to the Board two weeks ago) were not consulted.
BY THE END of the discussion, the Board, wringing their hands at the cruel fates visited upon them by unsympathetic gods, did what they always do — punted. They formed an ad hoc committee of two supervisors (Gjerde and Croskey) to like, uh, well, meet some time with some people and report back. PS. No date was set to solve the million dollar shortfall. For now, they’re just going to continue leaking money. After all, it’s for the good of “the kids.” They can’t even bring themselves to say out loud who these “kids” are which, and sorry to be the bearer of bad news, is “entry level criminals.” Most of them anyway.
SHERIFF ALLMAN on the problems with the County’s Resident Deputy program at last Monday’s Board of Supervisors Budget meeting. “We cannot find deputy sheriffs for the resident deputy program. Because of your [the Supervisors] generosity we offer a very very lucrative package for deputy sheriffs to move to the Round Valley, to move to Laytonville, to move to Point Arena, the Anderson Valley. We have one resident deputy in Potter Valley. We cannot find those resident deputies. Our silly little acronym in the Sheriff's Office is, Hire Exceptional Local People. H-E-L-P. We are just having a tough time. This is money that's in our budget that every year is returned to the general fund for cost savings because we are still looking for resident deputies. So when you have constituents saying, Why don't we have resident deputies?, I would ask you to ask them, Do you know anybody who is a law enforcement officer in another part of the state that would come up and allow Tom Allman to take them to lunch? I will buy him lunch. I will tell them the good, the bad and the ugly. We need to hire local people. The backgrounds are cheaper when we hire local people. They usually have real estate connections to our community that they can stay here. They understand the weirdness of our county. They don't throw their hands up and say, You guys are weird, because they were raised here. I certainly appreciate that fact. We can laugh about it all we want, however it's the truth.”
JAMES MARMON REMINDS US of Sonya Nesch’s explanation for the closing of the Psychiatric Health Facility back in 2000. Ms. Nesch is a senior member of the local chapter of the National Association for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) : “Sheriff Tony Craver shares some of the responsibility for the closing of the PHF in 2000 because he started sending psychotic and suicidal inmates there in orange jumpsuits with armed guards. That frightened the other patients and the staff. Five staff members went out on disability leave which meant the PHF couldn’t be properly staffed and would be violating State law if they stayed open. The County was only offering RNs $23,000/year when they could make at least $10,000 more working elsewhere. On top of that, there was a suicide in the PHF and a Grand Jury reported that a psychotic man was placed in four-point restraints at the PHF and badly beaten with multiple bruises and broken ribs and the two staff members never recorded his condition every 15 minutes as is required by law."
THE TRUE STATE of Mendo poverty as implied by the Mendo Grand Jury: More than 60 percent of Mendocino County school children are eligible for free or reduced-cost meals. Mendocino County school districts currently offer students breakfast, lunch, snacks and some provide dinner each school day. The grand jury found that all children eligible for free or reduced cost meals did not take a meal; some did not care for the menu offering on a particular day, and often eligible families did not complete the form to apply for free or reduced-cost meals.
THE WAY WE DIE STATS reveal that Mendo is pretty healthy, with low rates of suicide, and relatively low rates of other mortal calamities, although for our population we have a high rate of venereal disease. Humboldt and Lake County rate high in the state rankings in all categories of poor mental and physical health.
FROM the realtor's sales pitch for the Witter Ranch deep in the Eel River Canyon: "Stretching across 42 square miles, Lone Pine Ranch is nearly the size of San Francisco. The vast property of redwood forests, oak woodlands and grassy meadows straddles Trinity and Mendocino counties and is about a six-hour drive from the city. The land includes a 16.5-mile stretch of the Eel River teeming with salmon and steelhead migrating from the Pacific Ocean." Salmon and steelhead haven't teemed in the Eel since the 1950s.
RECOMMENDED VIEWING: Cartel Land via Netflix, the story of Dr. Mireles, a small-town physician from Michoacan who led a vigilante counter-attack called Autodefensas against the narco-cartels terrorizing large areas of rural Mexico. (This film will resonate in Mendocino County whose immigrant population largely derives from Michoacan.) The riveting documentary also features Mireles' American counterpart, Tim Foley, a charismatic American who hates the drug carnage wrought in the US so intensely he hunts down smugglers on the wild Arizona-Mexico border to turn them over to the Border Patrol.
(MUCH of the methamphetamine available in America is brewed up in Michoacan, one group of whom is interviewed as they mix their evil potion. Law enforcement assumes that the meth so prevalent on the Northcoast originates in Michoacan.)
THE MEXICAN government so feared what they saw as a kind of parallel government inspired by Mireles, they locked him up and have kept him locked up. No one will be surprised to learn that the doctor's militias have since been taken over by the drug gangs they were formed to fight. The film confirms our worst suspicions: illegal drugs are worth around $30 billion a year in the US, and it's a market Mexico's cartels will stop at nothing to protect, costing some 70,000 Mexicans their lives in drug-related violence between 2006 and 2013, not to mention the myriad lives destroyed by drugs here in Gringolandia.
THE CALIFORNIA REPORT (KQED) has expanded a story first reported in its initial stages by Kym Kemp of Redheaded Blackbelt about suspicious drug "interdictions" on Highway 101 near Hopland by police from Rohnert Park. ‘Highway Robbery’: Drivers Allege Rohnert Park Police Illegally Seized Cannabis, Cash
ANYONE OUT THERE EVER HEAR THIS ONE? “Throughout the early 80s, a renegade band of CAMP members, (including helicopter pilots) terrorized small time (but profitable) growers in Mendocino County. “Terrorized” is the right word. The crew of 4-10 thieves (from a variety of law enforcement agencies) would bust down every door of the house around 3am, mid-week. After hog-tying the occupants, they would be dosed in lighter fluid and asked where the family stash was kept. The neighborhood hired a PI, who found direct, evidence-based, proof of identities and their “cover” employment. But our Investigator said he would “fear for his business and his life” if he provided us with the printed material; it was documentation we would need to proceed without him, and for which he was paid in advance. No refund, no report. The only option open to us was to file the story and complaint with every Sheriff since, which we have done. Every single one expressed shock and disbelief…and did nothing. We told the story, over and over. No one, including the current Sheriff, believed us or followed up. Only Tony Craver took us seriously, and he felt as if he were facing Goliath, too. I have no reason to think this sorry situation has changed. I applaud the guts it takes to experience this corruption and not have a nervous break-down; I surely wish all the push-backers well. Do I think Justice will be served and the Truth ever come out? No. Never. A cursory reading of the negative comments on this (KQED) report will tell you why.
ED NOTE: Comments like the above lack, as they say, specificity. Over the years, we've tried many times to verify complaints like it but our investigations found nothing. Of course there are crooks masquerading as cops, and some of the robberies and accompanying beatings of outback marijuana farmers can probably be attributed to these people, the Nautilus Youth. If anyone out there has hard evidence of criminal cops, talk to us and in the paper it goes. The Rohnert Park Police Department's drug "interdictions" in Mendocino County are sure to be unraveled, thanks to Kym Kemp and KQED. The most suspiciously unprosecuted crimes we've seen over the years in Mendocino County have been big ones with big implications — the Fort Bragg Fires of 1987, where DA Susan Massini let the statute of limitations run on the Fort Bragg crooks who did it and, the even grander car bombing of Judi Bari, a crime mysteriously (or conveniently) ignored by the FBI.
AN ASSOCIATED PRESS STORY appearing in newspapers all over the country read as follows:
A Northern California county facing a lawsuit over the death of a jail inmate released surveillance video on Friday showing deputies punching the man as he pleads with them not to hurt him.
The family of the inmate, Steven Neuroth, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the county and sheriff’s officials in 2015, accusing jail staff of ignoring his medical needs and using excessive force.
Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman said Friday that Neuroth was high on methamphetamine, and deputies used distraction blows to try to subdue him when he became combative.
County officials released the June 2014 video footage after a federal judge denied the county’s request not to disclose it publicly.
In the video, deputies take Neuroth, 55, to the ground after sheriff’s officials say he threw his body sideways when his handcuffs were released. Neuroth had been arrested in Willits on the night of June 10, 2014, on suspicion of being under the influence of a controlled substance.
“Mr. Neuroth pulled away from the deputies and started fighting them and yelling and ranting nonsense,” Allman said.
During the incident, a deputy tells Neuroth to relax and that nobody is trying to hurt him. Deputies take him into a cell, where a deputy who punches Neuroth as he appears to be on the ground accuses Neuroth of kicking him off.
Deputies “did what we call ‘distraction blows,’” which are jabs to the meaty party of the upper legs, calves and shoulders, to try to subdue him, Allman said.
“They did all they could to restrain Mr. Neuroth, who was in the throes of a meth-induced combative state,” Allman said.
After Neuroth mentioned he may hurt himself, deputies put him in a safety smock and placed him in a cell by himself, the sheriff said. When they checked on him a short time later, he was unresponsive, Allman said.
Deputies started life saving measures and called emergency services, and he was pronounced dead at a hospital, Allman said.
Michael Haddad, an attorney for Neuroth’s family, said the video was “shocking.”
“The video completely corroborates everything we’re saying in the lawsuit,” he said.
An autopsy showed Neuroth had contusions and abrasions, a rib fracture and other injuries, according to the lawsuit.
"DISTRACTION BLOWS." Sheriff Allman's unfortunate euphemism for the punches administered to Steven Neuroth as jailers struggled to subdue Neuroth prior to his death in an iso cell at the County Jail.
WE'VE watched the entire video, which a federal judge has ordered to be made public as part of a federal wrongful death suit brought by the Neuroth family.
NEUROTH'S ATTORNEY describes these events as "disgusting," which is understandable from a lawyer representing the dead man’s family, but it seems more depressing than disgusting because you know Neuroth is about to die. The video shows Neuroth in a prolonged struggle with jail staff as they attempt to follow Jail protocols to get Neuroth out of handcuffs, out of his clothes and into a "safety smock.” He dies in the isolation cell he's finally wrestled into after about a half-hour of violent writhing between Neuroth and the people trying to subdue him.
TRYING HARD to be objective about what I saw on the video, I didn't see anything in particular that could be described as gratuitous violence. Neuroth, apparently under the influence of a massive dose of methamphetamine, and in a paranoid state that had severely panicked him, struggled mightily to free himself from all restraint, while the Jail people — three or four of them at any one time — struggled just as mightily to remove Neuroth's physical restraints to get him into a cell.
THE 'DISTRACTION BLOWS' were more like rabbit punches aimed at getting a key into Neuroth's handcuffs to get him out of the handcuffs. The punches clearly weren't intended to hurt the prisoner.
IT'S AN UNHAPPY video for sure, but more depressing than disgusting because you know the outcome is death, but given that the officers were only doing what they do to everyone who comes through their doors in an altered and violently combative state, I didn't see them do anything specifically that would make them responsible for Neuroth's death. The Willits Police officer, Leef, who transported Neuroth to the County Jail was joking and giggling inappropriately like some kind of sadist, but the rest of the officers did what they were supposed to do — get the cuffs off the guy and get him into a cell where he could wait out the drug's effect and get himself back to normal.
AS I WATCHED the Neuroth video, I did wonder if there aren't more efficacious means of dealing with people who arrive at the Jail in a violent paranoid state — an amphetamine-induced psychosis in this case. Neuroth is hardly the first person to appear at the County Jail in a psychotic state. If he'd simply been wrestled directly into a cell, shackles and all, instead of the Jail people wrestling with him for almost half an hour to get him unshackled and into the modern day straight jacket, Neuroth still might be with us. The autopsy says that Neuroth died of amphetamine poisoning, not a beating by Jail staff. (A complete Neuroth file can be found at theava.com)
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE WEEK
There are some very real and dark forces in US society at the moment. Yesterday new suicide research revealed a very palpable uptick in suicide, amongst all demographic groups in the US. People in the US are literally being boiled to death by real economic pressure. The increasing stress on people will not last forever– something will explode. Whether it means civil instability, or an election of an authentic autocrat, I don’t know. However, there will be an equal and opposite reaction to the type of applied force occurring in the country. I also want to post the suicide hotline. We lost another very creative person today to suicide with the death of Anthony Bourdain. National Suicide Prevention Hotline. Call 1-800-273-8255. Available 24 hours everyday.