ALBERT GREENWOOD BROWN was sitting in his death row cell at San Quentin last week when the warden walked up and told him he'd be dead by next Wednesday. Which has since been put off for a couple more days because that great liberal Jerry Brown, State Attorney General, said Death Row Brown could get a couple more days looking at the institutional green paint on his cell wall because there's s shortage of one of the killer drugs. Attorney General Jer said," Don't execute anybody until we've got enough of this stuff to kill the other guys in death's pipeline." And if that isn't a typically weasel-lipped Brown stance on a big issue matter tell me another.
THE ORIGINAL DECISION to suddenly kill Brown was made by a young political appointee named Fogel, a Stanford-incubated rich kid who, to be really, really unfair about it, looks like the kind of self-obsessed lycra workout guy who'd execute his grandmother if it kept him in the big cush office with the big pay for the rest of his life. Which most judges would certainly also do, execute gran I mean, but we're talking about little Jeremy here not the rest of our class system's key enforcers.
THE WARDEN had previously told Death Row Brown he had until Sunday to decide if he wanted a big blast of one lethal drug or the three-drug combo special. It's not known what Death Row Brown said in reply, but I'd guess he was unprepared to make an informed chemical decision. Anyway, Death Row Brown won't get the midnight needle for another couple of days, and when he does get it he'll get it at 9pm, not a minute past midnight as is usual. Moving the needle up three hours means that the doctors doing the killing can get home in time to see the Giant's replay on the 10 o'clock news.
DEATH ROW BROWN'S the first man to get the midnight needle in this state in a long time. He's got it coming, certainly. Or at least he's got some kind of mighty retribution coming. He raped a 15-year-old girl then murdered her. The girl was walking to school when Brown, like some kind of Biblical scourge, descended upon her. Before that, he'd raped another young girl. He's been shut away waiting to die since 1980. Why kill him now? Why kill him this way? Why kill him at all? Why not just keep him locked up?
BUT IF DEATH ROW BROWN has to be murdered by the state, and that right there is a precedent that just might come back on you yourself some day if you let the government decide who lives and who dies, why not do the death penalty the way it should be carried out if, as its long-distance advocates say, it functions to stop future monsters from raping and killing? Killing people late at night in a hospital setting deep inside a prison is what the Nazis would have liked to do if they hadn't had so many people to kill and so little time to do it. And even if you want the guy dead simply to eliminate a man who's done ultimately bad things, have the courage of your revenge fantasies. You do it. Or demand that the family do it. At a minimum demand that the killing be done in public so the public it's supposed to instruct can see for themselves what's being done in their name.
BRING DEATH ROW BROWN out to Candlestick Park on a bright fall day. Truck in baseball-size rocks. Bring in the big tv trucks with Oprah and Wolf Blitzer doing the play-by-play with a couple of law faculties parsing the legalities of the event. Charge people admission (all ages admitted) then charge them double to throw the Taliban rocks at Death Row Brown until he's dead. This way we all get both the full medieval monte and a serious deterrent check, all proceeds going to the girl's family. No man alive will ever rape and murder again.
THE LAST TIME an APB went out for all available law enforcement to get over to Covelo and get over there fast was in April of 1995, the night of the Bear Lincoln shoot out in the hills west of town. Last Saturday night, all available deputies, supplemented by CHP officers, Cal Fire, the Willits Police Department, and Cahto tribal officers, sped east to Covelo where, the police said, Lake County Indians were deep in hand-to-hand combat with the Round Valley Indians. Much of the fighting occurred in and around the Buckhorn Saloon, long assumed to be among the most exciting drinking establishments in Northern California. A bunch of people were arrested for fighting, public drunkenness and charges related to sporadic attacks on the responding cops.
THE MACARTHUR GENIUS AWARDS have been announced. No one in Boonville got one. Philo was shut out, too. We have a genius in Navarro, Mr. Mullis, Nobel Prize winner and definitely, judging from his parties, the kind of genius most of us can relate to. He probably got a MacArthur some time back, but he came up with DNA as an investigative tool, which is certainly genius-level stuff. But this year, no one anywhere got one who needed the $500,000 and if any of the recipients are geniuses, well, we've got a lot more geniuses in this un-genius-run country than any of us might have suspected. Most of this year's cash went to the lions of the faculty lounges, one of whom got a half-mil for his research "into how government tax policies lead to inequalities." Gasp! Are you suggesting, professor, that rich people might not be paying their fair share of the load? Wow! Stand back from the edge, folks, you might get cut.
WORKING PEOPLE often ask us retired folks what we do to make our days interesting. Well, for example, the other day my wife and I went into town and went into a shop. We were only in there for about five minutes. When we came out, there was a cop writing out a parking ticket. We went up to him and said, "Come on, how about giving a senior citizen a break." He ignored us and continued to write the ticket. I called him a Nazi turd. He glared at me and started writing another ticket for having worn tires, so my wife called him a shithead. He finished the second ticket and put it on the windshield with the first. Then he started writing a third ticket. This went on for twenty minutes. The more we abused him, the more tickets he wrote. Personally, we don't care. We came into town by bus and saw that the car had a Vote For Meg Whitman sticker on it.
OUR VALOROUS SHERIFF, TOM ALLMAN, certainly deserved the praise he received at last week’s Supervisor's meeting for what was rightly described his “act of heroism” last summer in pulling a suicidal woman from her self-ignited vehicle, in which she'd splashed a container of gasoline then lit a match to inside her car beside Highway 101 near Calpella. The young mother of two children, the suicide had taught at the Calpella elementary school. She died a few days later without having regained consciousness. Subsequent investigations, unreported locally, never did reveal what had driven her to such despair. Allman, clearly uncomfortable with the tearful description of the event by the dependably unhinged Jim Wattenburger, modestly endured the accolades, saying he merely did what members of his department do all the time. Allman has also been selected to receive the Governor’s Public Safety Medal of Valor in Sacramento on September 28th and a similar firemen’s award in October. Responding to the Board's unanimous agreement that he be declared a hero, The Sheriff quipped, “"I'm thrilled to get a 5-0 vote!" Supervisor Pinches took the levity one step farther: “I thought of voting no, Tom, just so you know you're still in Mendocino County.”
COUNTY CEO Carmel Angelo and Health and Human Services Director Stacey Cryer told the Board of Supervisors last week that they had met with the State’s Mental Health Director who told them that Mendocino County may not have to pay back quite as much for “audit exceptions” (technically unreimburseable mental health services) owed several years ago. But our local Mental Health Branch is still looking at a serious, nay crippling, deficit that can no longer be absorbed out of other funds.
CEO ANGELO and Ms. Cryer also said they’re working on a “regional approach” to mental health services to help reduce costs, perhaps a reference confirming rumors that selective privatization of mental health services on the North Coast may be next. While it’s understandable that any government agency would consider privatization, the model that would probably make the most financial sense is to provide services only to profitable mental health patients while leaving the Sheriff with the great majority of uninsured and otherwise impoverished 5150s. In other words, the crazy people who have private or government insurance would be farmed out to for-profit treatment centers while the rest would remain where they are — the Mendocino County Jail.
THIS CASH AND CARRY approach to the County's mentally ill appears well under way. Our Health and Human Services has already hired two consultants to develop a proposal for just such a thing. One of these consultants, a Mr. Tom Pinizzotto, is the Administrator of the North Valley-Solano Behavioral Center in Fairfield who just happens to also have an existing contract with Lake County for “mental health administrative services.” The other consultant, Ms. Nancy M. Callahan, PhD, is an alleged expert in “mental health services to Medicaid recipients,” and a specialist in computerized data processing, meaning Dr. Callahan is real good at figuring out who can be a valuable funding unit for the private “behavior health” services companies. It seems appropriate about here to repeat our annual definition of a consultant: a person you lend your watch to so he can tell you what time it is.
COMBINE THESE MERCENARY DEVELOPMENTS with a recent internal memo from Ms. Cryer to the Mental Health staff: “We are obviously not moving forward with any plans to fill positions — revenue generating or not.” Which means even positions that could be funded by state and federal mental health programs (which would not cost any money from the County's general fund) will not be filled — clearly a step towards privatization. Or this: “I want to be truthful and tell you that we are probably facing layoffs in the Mental Health Division.” And, “Tom Pinizzotto has been here working for several weeks now, usually two to three days per week and will now be serving as the Mental Health Director. He will continue as a contractor. … His colleague, Nancy Callahan, is assisting with portions of the plan.” Mr. Pinizzotto’s ultimate objective, according to Ms. Cryer, is to “transform Mental Health” into something Ms. Cryer chooses not to describe to her staff while, we suppose, sending fully funded local mental health patients to his Fairfield facility.
IF YOU know someone who is in need of long-term mental health services you have two choices: 1. find some way to pay for it yourself or with insurance, or 2. take your uncle directly to Sheriff Allman.
FOR YOUR EUPHEMISM FILES: "Displaced foreign traveller" is what the Forest Service calls Mexican nationals arrested in federal forests for marijuana cultivation.
MENDOCINO LODGING ASSOCIATION president Scott Schneider told the Board of Supervisors last week that the pointless “gateway sign” the Association came up with for the Mendo-Sonoma county line “was based on our research over the last two years and working with Caltrans.” Innkeepers and Caltrans combining to produce a Welcome To Mendo sign that has converted clinical schizophrenia to a visual. The blandly wacky design these most improbable creative allies have managed here was inevitable.
WHEN WE'RE TALKING supervisors we're seldom talking aesthetes. These are the people who think, or at least say they think, that Ukiah and Willits are beautiful! And that the actually have Planning Departments. Predictably, four supervisors agreed with Mr. Schnieder that the above sign would be simply boffo at the Sonoma-Mendo county line just north of Cloverdale. Only if the rednecks pumped it full of shotgun blasts and draped it in Coors cans and deer carcasses would it work as a reflection of the vibe just up the road, but all the supervisors except David Colfax said it was fine as is. Colfax saw it as defective.
“THE SIGN is very much non-Mendocino I think,” said Colfax, “… no redwoods, no rough bark, no authentic trees, and so forth. I would characterize it as hard-edged and minimalist. I hope that your artists — who in Mendocino County we've been very supportive of — had their input on this because I know some people will not find it effect… uh, acceptable."
"HARD-EDGED"? This thing is instant Ambien, but Colfax at least seemed to know the thing might just as well be plunked down outside Salina, Kansas. Anyway, who needs a Welcome to Mendocino County sign where we've already got a more reality based announcement that the Mendocino Medical Marijuana people are helping Caltrans keep the roadsides nice and tidy.
SCHNEIDER, THE SIGN GUY, replied to Colfax's objection: “They were, uh, they were reached out to when we first went to design at the time. We worked with the Arts Council.”
COLFAX: “The other thing is here, when you put, ‘wine, waves and wilderness’ is a good order if you put one in the Ukiah Valley. I would like to see when you put one on Highway One at the South End, uh, that it goes waves…” Schneider's “Thank you!” was suspiciously effusive. Still brainstorming the sign's design, Colfax stumbled on. “…Uh, wine and wilderness. Supervisor Pinches might have an appropriate ordering for the north county,” at which Board Chair Carre Brown could only giggle as she perhaps imagined the possibilities. “But I think," continued Colfax, "you're not allowed to add anything like, uh…” when Supervisor John McCowen interjected, “Clearcuts, wine and wilderness.” Colfax laughed as Mrs. Brown attempted to restore order to the sandbox. “All right now,” she said. But the merriment continued until the hapless Schneider broke in with a plaintive, “The sign, as I'm sure you know, is the result of many, of a lot of input. Many meetings and…” when supervisor Brown assured him, "We're moving forward. Thank you very much.”
5TH DISTRICT supervisor candidate Dan Hamburg has had a rough time of it lately. No one knows for sure what precipitated it, but the other morning at Schat's Bakery in Ukiah the candidate suddenly shouted at Ross Liberty, "You people live in a sewer. I hate you, I hate you." Then onto "I'll kick your ass." One witness said he thought Hamburg "was going to come over the table at Liberty." Another commented, "Well, this is a side of Dan Hamburg I've never seen."
LIBERTY is a Ukiah businessman active in the campaign against marijuana and active in the campaign for Hamburg's opponent, Wendy Robert. Our witnesses said that after Hamburg went off on him Liberty said, "I just asked you, Dan, a simple question. I wasn't trying to make anything out of it. I just wanted to know." To which Hamburg replied, "You people are playing dirty. How dare you come after my son, my family?"
WHAT POSSIBLE relevance can the Hamburg family's private sorrows have to do with a political contest? I think Hamburg is perfectly justified in calling Liberty and the inland ghouls on their foul innuendo. Much as I've always despised the Clintons, I thought it was outrageous (and sad) that their critics circulated insults and jokes about Chelsea, then a child. Ditto for all insults aimed at Sarah Palin's family. Or any public figure's family. Families ought to be out of bounds. And why does that even need saying?
NOT THAT HAMBURG supporters haven't been equivalently nasty about Wendy, particularly the dependably malicious Anna Taylor and several other anonymous list serve nutballs perpetually on the lurk in cyber-space. Just the other night, Wendy says, Hamburg drunks paraded past her house shouting insults after their Mendocino fundraiser for Dan. And she gets juvenile crank calls asking her for Tea Party donations, and all kinds of insults from the loons on list serves and newspaper comment lines. But for every foul ball hit her way, Hamburg has a dozen hit at him.
NO SOONER had Hamburg beaten back Liberty, almost literally it seems, than the Roberts' camp announced that a retired judge and Wendy partisan named Masterson, now living in Mendocino, had filed a Fair Political Practices Commission complaint against Hamburg. The judge's complaint alleges that, "during the first six months of this year, Hamburg and his campaign violated 13 sections of the Political Reform Act by failing to return contributions from donors who failed to identify their occupations or employers, failing to record non-monetary contributions, failing to specify interest rates and due dates for identified loans, failing to fully itemize expenditures, reimbursing the candidate for expenditures of personal funds, failing to list fundraiser proceeds as contributions, failing to report funds from drink sales at a campaign event, failing to cumulate contributions from a single source, and failing to report a late pre-primary contribution within 24 hours of receipt." Hamburg reacted with a ho hum, describing the alleged violations as "picayune." But Hamburg did acknowledge that his volunteer campaign treasurer "made some mistakes," which were "all fixable" but still concluded that all of it constituted "a campaign of harassment" by "ultraconservatives."
HAMBURG'S treasurer, Geoffrey Baugher, wrote the following to the FPPC on September 9: "Dear Mr. Porter, As treasurer of the committee, Dan Hamburg for Supervisor 2010, I sincerely appreciate your letter of August 30, 2010, bringing to our attention the complaints filed against myself and Dan Hamburg by retired judge William Antony Masterson. If I have made errors in filing I certainly want to correct them as soon as possible to the satisfaction of the Fair Political Practices Commission. I would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you to go over the complaints in detail. It appears that there were occasions where I need to itemize transactions in greater detail than I provided. Be assured that I am doing my best to provide an accurate accounting of donations and expenses. Any errors in reporting are likely due to my lack of experience in appropriate filing procedures. However, I am confident my records are accurate and complete so I can amend the forms cited by Mr. Masterson should that prove necessary. Thank you for your assistance in resolving this matter and for helping me ensure there will be no need for such complaints in the future. Sincerely, Geoffrey Baugher, Treasurer, Dan Hamburg for Supervisor 2010."
MR. PORTER, of the FPPC, wrote back to Judge Masterson in government auto-boilerplate on the 10th of September that the FPPC "will investigate the allegation(s) of the complaint" but "that at this time we have not made any determination about the validity of the allegation(s) you have made or about the culpability, if any, of the person(s) you identify in your complaint."
A TRUE STORY from the San Francisco Police Department: "On September 13, 2010 a small white Maltese dog named Ozzy was tied to a pole outside of the Safeway on 7th Avenue while his owner was inside shopping. When the owner returned Ozzy was gone—vanished. The owner searched the neighborhood in vain and then reported the loss to officers at Richmond Station. Posters asking for Ozzy’s return went up throughout the Inner Richmond. A tip led police to a You-tube video introducing a Maltese dog named “Biggy-smalls”. Officers from our plain-clothes team jumped into the investigation and in just a few hours focused on a home in the Ingleside District where they thought Ozzy might be found. After a bit of surveillance they recovered Ozzy and returned to Richmond Station with the little eight-pound dog. A person suspected of being involved in the theft of the dog was arrested. Ozzy was a little out of place at the station as he sniffed about our assembly room at ankle height to a half-dozen charmed police officers. Even though Ozzy’s life had changed a lot over a couple of days everything returned to normal when his owner arrived at the Station to pick-up him up. Emotions ran deep as the little guy did cartwheels, left the name Biggy-smalls behind him and returned to his life as Ozzy. I am just delighted by the way our community, including the on-line community, and our officers, joined forces to right a wrong. The inner Richmond is looking forward to the “welcome home Ozzy” party which, I am told, is in the planning stages."