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Off the Record (Aug. 15, 2018)

COULDN'T HELP but be intrigued by the following post on the MCN Chat Line. I'm pretty sure I know Blue's back story, and if I have it right, and I think I do, it's an Only-In-Mendo classic that begins with this post on MCN: "Anton Tewilt is visiting the area…. He is looking for a Northbeach beat poet woman goes by Blue who is rumored to have moved to the coast about 10 years ago. She is about 72, she shot and killed her boyfriend many years ago in the Bay Area, she supposedly recited poetry at the Headlands Coffee Shop some years back. Wild and notorious, she is nonetheless hard to find. She is a friend of the family and Anton has been tasked with finding out anything he can about where she is now, even if it leads to a gravesite. If found alive there is an invitation to visit and possibly help traveling if necessary; Judy really wants to find her. Yes he is looking up ruth weiss even as I write this."

THE LATE MAX CRAWFORD, a well-known novelist and author of the 60's cult classic, "The Bad Communist," was an acquaintance of a woman named Marlene. Marlene was divorced from a Stanford professor. Max knew her through his connections to deluded people who'd convinced themselves they were revolutionaries, murdering a few strayed "comrades" and placing pipe bombs in the bathrooms of enemies of the people. Marlene was a member of one of these groups who fit right in with the rest of the nuts. One day in Palo Alto she shot and killed a young mother who was her upstairs neighbor. Marlene said she thought the young woman was an FBI agent. Marlene was then confined as criminally insane at Napa State Hospital. While there she led a much publicized revolt against the drugging the inmates and in favor of healthy food rather than the carb-loaded institutional fare inmates were fed. While at Napa, Marlene met Leonard Cirino, subsequently a poet based in Albion and a member of Mendocino County's Mental Health Board. Leonard was at Napa for beheading his daughter with a machete, hence his bona fides for advising Mendo on mental health policy. Upon Marlene's release, circa 1990 she, also a poet, moved to Fort Bragg where she legally changed her name, perhaps to 'Blue.' Crawford was startled one day to spot her in Mendocino and told me and another close friend of her back story.

THAT CLOSE FRIEND RECALLS, "The thing is, Max’s Marlene would have been closer to his age. She would be in her mid to late seventies by now… if she’s still alive. I met her several times; once accompanied by some Black Panthers somewhere in SF with Max. I think one of the guys was her boyfriend. I first heard of her via Max’s wife Sue in Palo Alto. One day Marlene went nuts in a Cafe and would not leave. The police were about to extract her when Max showed up. He didn’t have his pork pie hat on. It made her even more crazy, but when he put his hat on she immediately became normal and left with Max and Sue. She was also a cab driver in SF. One night she ran out of gas on 101 driving a fare to Palo Alto. Or so she said. She abandoned her cab on 101 and climbed over a wall in Menlo Park, which unbeknownst to her had an alarm system — advanced in those days. She showed up at Max’s house on Addison street claiming that the cops were after her. I was there. Maybe, I thought at the time. Maybe not. A person who would know more about this woman is Andrew Moss, an old English Rad and friend of Max’s. I think he still lives in SF. Fred Gardner is friends with Moss. He also may have known Marlene. The thing is, Bruce, Cirino’s arrival in happy land may predate that of Marlene’s. Then again, I’m old and imagination and memory are mixed as one."

WAS "MARLENE” JANICE BLUE? Janice Faye Duff, also known as the poet Janice Blue, of Fort Bragg, California died November 7, 2017 at home. Born January 1, 1942 in Blandville, Kentucky to Henrietta and Leslie Adams, she was 75 years old.


Jake Bayless of Sonoma County-based news website Empire Report writes:

The Great Redwood Trail.

NCRA needs to go bankrupt first.

Why? Because behind this big new genius push to have a huge (and VERY awesome) trail there's a hidden engine that they don't want you to scrutinize: The Doug Bosco machine.

That's right. The political push to get NCRA "rescued" is so that Doug Bosco will be enriched by the State of California (you) because of his interests in Northwest Pacific Railroad (the contractor that operates and maintains the track).

This whole thing exists to make sure Doug's bad business decision (investing in NWPRR) doesn't go bankrupt. Hence: the petition that is circulating right now (below) is asking the Governor to rescue NCRA before it goes bankrupt so that it can pay off Doug Bosco fully.

Let's play connect the dots:

Doug Bosco was a congressman (some say a slimy one).

Jason Liles was Doug's DC staffer.

Jason Liles met Mike McGuire on Healdsburg City Council.

Mike McGuire ran for Sonoma County Supervisor.

Jason Liles was Mike McGuire's campaign manager.

Jason Liles became Mike McGuire's Planning Commissioner (for Sonoma County).

Mike McGuire ran and won CA State Senate race.

Guess who was Mike's campaign manager? Yep, Jason Liles.

Jason Liles was Mike McGuire's Chief of Staff in CA Senate.

Jason Liles left his Chief of Staff position in 2018.

Jason Liles is now lead consultant to the "Great Redwood Trail."

All the while, Jason Liles has carried Doug Bosco's political water - attempting to get friendlies elected. Remember "Who Is Stacey Lawson?"

So much dirty business happening behind the scenes.

Super clever, Doug & Jason. “California’s state government is already on the hook for the NCRA’s liabilities one way or another." Meaning: “Let’s do this now so I get paid full price for my boondoggle, rather than whatever the bankruptcy court negotiates.”

Super clever - Folks: that's what this is about. Paying Doug Bosco.

* * *

The Petition:

Dear Governor Brown,

The Great Redwood Trail Act is a wonderful idea and long overdue. Please approve the funding needed to get started turning the unused rail line into a real asset for our communities.

For decades, the North Coast Railroad Authority (NCRA) has failed either to restore freight rail service to the North Coast or to protect the Eel River and its fisheries from the impacts of its rail line.

SB 1029 will dissolve the NCRA and prioritize non-motorized trail development along the rail right of way between Sonoma County and the Humboldt Bay. California’s state government is already on the hook for the NCRA’s liabilities one way or another. This bill would turn an environmental and fiscal liability into a public asset.

The Great Redwood Trail will connect the North Coast’s diverse landscapes and rural communities with healthy opportunities to explore the great outdoors by bike, foot and horseback, and will bring much needed tourism revenue to the North Coast region.

We urge you to find the financing necessary to resolve the NCRA’s liabilities in order to clear the decks for the Trail!

MEASURE B boosted the local sales tax a teensy bit to fund an in-County psychiatric unit. A two-thirds vote was required to make it law. Convincing two-thirds of the people to agree on anything these days means a clear majority of Mendo people recognized the need to keep our mentally troubled people at home rather than dispatch them to distant lock-up facilities at exorbitant fees. Sheriff Allman was the driving force behind Measure B. He appeared before the Supervisors last week as 20 (count 'em) of us citizens looked on via YouTube. The Sheriff wants the Supervisors to speed up the site selection process to get the thing launched, and as we all know any public project these days takes years to realize. The sooner we get started the sooner we'll have a psych unit.

WE'VE THOUGHT from the beginning the logical place for the unit is the old Howard Hospital in Willits. It would be a lot less expensive to re-do part of the old hospital than it would be to build a ground-up facility. It would help speed up the process to getting 'er done if the Supes would at least recommend the old hospital as the logical, less costly site. Or failing that, get together with the Measure B Committee to agree on an alternative site, and good luck getting agreement on that.

THE ABANDONED HOWARD HOSPITAL, our Willits informants tell us, lies a'mouldering, with drunks and transients camping out in and around it. There are neighbors who don't want a psych unit where homeless anarchy presently rules, but one would think that an orderly, well-supervised, small-scale medical facility would be preferable to the growing squalor that neighbors of the deteriorating structure presently suffer. And how about all the years when Howard Hospital was open 24-7, with a nightly parade of the unhinged in and out of the emergency room?

WHAT WE HAVE HERE is modern government in full flower — endless delays because of endless consultations with endless committees, endless considerations of endless options. If this thing ever gets built it will be one of our larger minor local miracles. Meanwhile, Mendocino County's mentally ill are  shuffling up and down State Street with their stuff in shopping carts waiting to be pinballed out of the county to a thousand dollar a day pharmaceuticals juggler.

RECOMMENDED READING: "Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine," by Joe Hagan. Knowing nothing about rock and roll and caring less, I was a 60's guy who managed not to hear much of the music, and what I heard was accidental when, in 1967, we'd walk down the hill from 191 Frederick in the upper Haight — 3 bed, 1 ba $125 a month — to the Panhandle where a lot of the famous groups just starting out played for free. It was quite a spectacle, the first mass appearance of The Unrestrained People, aka hippies. But I read Rolling Stone from the first because Wenner always included some great writing, some great reporting, meaning he was a great editor. His life certainly makes for interesting reading, so interesting I cringed at some of it and wondered why Wenner had been so extremely forthcoming. For a "straight" guy, at least in the business sense, Wenner ought to be a shoo-in for the Libertine Hall of Fame. Read his adventures with drugs and his all-night adventures with people like Hunter Thompson I wondered how he found the time and energy to build his mag into the journalo-powerhouse it became. Anyone curious about what Mick Jagger and other luminaries of rock and roll are like (about what you would expect) will enjoy this bio, as will most people interested in the life of an interesting person, which Wenner certainly is. The book is so startlingly revelatory of Wenner's complicated personal life that it's no surprise he and the author are no longer speaking.

WE'RE HEARING that the authorities are pretty sure how the Ranch Fire started, but are not ruling out arson as the cause of the River Fire, although no public statements about the causes of either fire, since having become California's largest fire ever and still burning.

FOR THE STAT-MINDED: As of last Friday, there were 4,000 people on the Mendocino Complex fires, with 441 engines, 93 water tenders, and 85 dozers. The whole show is headquartered at the site of the old Masonite, north of Ukiah.

THE FIRST TIME I saw Alex Jones on a YouTube link someone sent me, I thought he was a comedian. I still think he is, although a lot of dummies out there apparently think Jones' Everything's A Conspiracy views reflect reality. Should he be banned? Of course not. Should the titans of Tech World decide who we can listen to and who we can't listen to? Mark Zuckerberg making free speech decisions for all of us? Terrifying. But with the ban of Jones by all of them except Twitter… Well, we're on a slippery slope here. Jones today, Amy Goodman tomorrow. Count on it.

AND HERE WE ARE, some of the more hysterical among us anyway, biting our nails about what the corporate media are selling as a fascist resurgence, as in Portland recently when a small-ish group of white yobbos, many of them wearing swastikas, exchanged insults with Antifa, a loose coalition of lib-leftists led by young women with purple hair. I'll bet if an accurate head count was possible, media out-numbered both groups and the cops, the last suspiciously more eager to bash the Antifa people than the neo-nazis. Both Antifa and the nazis will be heavily infiltrated by police of various agencies. Any political group either advocating violence or implying it are certain to be infiltrated by undercover cops. Been this way forever, even here in Mendo during the Redwood Summer period. Are the neo-fascists a rolling threat? Doubt it, but fascism has always appealed to mean, stupid people… And big biz, as in the fascist countries of World War Two, were solidly behind their fascist governments. Fascism has always been a strong possibility in this country, but still on the sunny side of probable. When and if it arrives it'll look like a militarized version of the Clintons. The other side doesn't yet have plausible leaders that anybody seems aware of. For sure it isn't Alex Jones or this Kessler character.

CLARITY AT LAST. "We can't fight big money with big money. We're going to beat money big with big organizing" — Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, just elected to Congress from New York, and already the corporate Democrats like, for instance, Willie Brown in San Francisco, are on her case as too extreme for most Hillary, Big Money Democrats like him, Pelosi, Huffman, and so on. But here on the Northcoast where something like 58 percent of Democrats were and are Bernie Democrats, Ocasio-Cortez is a breath of fresh air and, hopefully, the future of the moribund, stand-for-nothing party as mired in the stretch limo way of life.

CORRECTION: WRONG WALKER. The officer identified as Craig Walker in Bruce McEwen's story posted Wednesday, wasn't Anderson Valley's Deputy Walker. The Walker involved in the 5150 episode described by McEwen was Officer Walker of the Ukiah Police Department.

PG&E says it wants to sell the Potter Valley Diversion, that thin reed by which the water fates of at least a million down-streamers depends. The Mendo supervisors has named a committee of two, McCowen and Brown, to put together a local group of crucial water agencies to buy it. The kicker is that Sonoma County owns most of the diverted Eel River water stored at Lake Mendocino. SoCo is happy with things as they are, as are the noble sons of the soil represented by Supervisor Brown. What’s needed here is a regional water agency and a fundamental re-write of Mendo’s water deal with Sonoma County. As former supervisor John Mayfield, commenting on Mike A’Dair’s fine reporting on the issue for The Willits Weekly, put it, “This is the most important and critical issue Mendocino County has faced in the 62 years I have been involved in county politics.” It is.

YOU WOULD THINK THAT SOMEBODY in authority somewhere in some local county or state agency or body would at least suggest that the people whose houses burned down in any of the recent fires should get expedited, no-hassle, no-fees handling with personal assistance from a dedicated group of building/planning staff to rebuild. Most of these people have already been penny-pinched and squeezed by their insurance companies and some also suffered “over-excavation” by the feds’ giant by-the-ton debris clean up contractors. Instead we see titles like Saturday’s PD article entitled “As activity increases, Coffey Park residents face delays to rebuild.” The opening line of the story reads: “The delays fire survivors face in the increasingly crowded maze that must be traversed before they can rebuild — including home design, permitting and construction scheduling — has left a growing number of them frustrated.”

That’s just for the lucky people who have the wherewithal to rebuild. And you wonder why there’s a “housing crisis” on the North Coast?

COMMENTING ON THE AVA’S WEBSITE in response to our recent post about vacant buildings and housing in Mendo, Kathy Wylie wrote:

“I am working with a small group of locals – countywide – on the housing issue. Some of it boils down to educating the public about ADUs – alternative dwelling units – which ARE allowed. Zoning is another problem with housing. Ukiah has the opportunity to remake its downtown and has so far shown little initiative in a re-zoned model that allows mixed use buildings with commercial shops on the bottom and multi-story living units on top. Add to that the loose regulation of AirB&B and VBRO-style short term rentals in this county, which take housing stock for teachers and firefighters off the market – and we have a full blown crisis. I could go in and on… Stay tuned as this issue will not just go away in its own.”

BACK IN MARCH we wrote about the housing problem at some length: “With all the time and attention County officials are giving to marijuana one might think that marijuana is the County’s biggest problem. But as Sheriff Allman likes to say, 'This is not the County of Marijuana, this is the County of Mendocino'."

Probably the biggest problem Mendo has right now is housing. Not only because there is a shortage, and what there is costs too much, but a large part of County tax revenues are dependent on the housing stock and the assessed value of that stock and on people’s ability to pay those taxes.

Clearly, there is no single solution to the housing problem. It has to be approached by nibbling away in every possible area from lots of angles. To do this, Mendo does not need a "pot czar," we need a Housing Czar.

At that time we asked Supervisor Dan Gjerde about the possibility of the Supes appointing a Housing Czar.

Gjerde replied:

I agree, this would be a good project for Steve Dunnicliff. Steve is already working on some parts of this project, but housing is only part of his job as a Deputy CEO. I like the idea of elevating housing as a more prominent part of Steve's job. I do know he already is part of a staff-level recovery team that includes Tammy Moss Chandler, plus staff from planning and building, and likely other departments. The board is interested in pre-approved house plans. After hearing from residents and contractors speak during the Class K discussions, though, I am now thinking it could be even more helpful for members of the public if the County could hire an engineer to provide the County and the public with engineered specifications that would comply with the current California Building Code, but allow for greater freedom to design a home. For example, today's California Building Code requires a four foot sheer wall at the corners and for every 25 feet of a building. When designing a small home, a four foot sheer wall can severely restrict the size and placement of windows and doors. Through an engineer, the County could provide property owners with a design that specifies affordable metal bracing to provide the same sheer strength on a smaller sheer wall, and the engineer's stamp would satisfy the California Building Code. Experienced home builders and contractors could advise the County on design elements, like the sheer wall example, that would be most commonly helpful for homebuilders on a budget.”

We also asked Gjerde about giving more attention to modest trailer parks as suggested by former Supervisor John Pinches.

“On trailer parks,” Gjerde replied, “it would be helpful to hear from owners of existing trailer parks why they are not proposing to build new trailer parks. Are the parcels with the proper zoning too small, and they need to work with larger parcels to build a financially viable trailer park? Or something else deterring their building new trailer parks. Why have none of the housing non-profits built a trailer park?”

In conclusion, Gjerde agreed: “I would like to see more focus on housing.”

IF THE SUPERVISORS were serious about establishing low-cost housing, examples of which exist in ingenious amplitude as close as a finger tap on Google, might also tap into the hard-earned expertise of Mr. Bruce Ledford, whose Circle Trailer Park in the center of Ukiah manages to unobtrusively house a vividly various population of people who would otherwise be homeless. This guy, assisted by his incongruously (in the context) lovely daughter, could give lessons that an army of housing consultants couldn’t possibly. The modest Ledford has done it, continues to do it, and manages to do it without anybody noticing. We nominate him as Mendocino County's Housing Czar.

BUT OF COURSE, there hasn’t been any “focus on housing,” much less “more” of it. In fact, the Supervisors haven’t discussed it since their misguided attempt at reining in AirBnB rentals several months ago.

But we still wish Ms. Wylie and her group the best of luck.

(Mark Scaramella)

VIA ITS FACEBOOK PAGE, the Sho-Ka-Wah casino in Hopland has announced it's closed for renovations and has laid off its work force of some 45 people. The closure coincided with the terrible fires, one branch of which broke out not far from the casino. The fire caused the closure of Highway 175, making the casino virtually impossible to reach. And there's an overall problem of the competition from downstream casinos, especially the monster casino complex at Rohnert Park. Whether or not Sho Ka Wah reopens would seem to be anybody's guess.


Someone above stated that the government bureaucracies are inept. I disagree. The bureaucracy I deal with is very efficient from my view. Medicare and Social Security work very smoothly. I have never had a problem with the post office or the IRS. The FAA seems to get the air travel piece well enough. I do not care for TSA but I have never had a problem with them. The interstate highways seem in fair shape all things considered. The National Park system generally keeps the parks in ok condition. So what is the problem? The problem is a complete collapse of good manners, dignity, ethics, honor. It isn’t the government that is causing our problems but it is us. We want Mr. Rogers but we get a Manafort, a Trump, a Clinton. There ain’t no Mr. Rogers around. Don’t look for one. We are at the mercy of corporations who exist for their own welfare. Even in WW II some of them played on both sides. They are the ones who flood our lives with pollution, perversity, scams et al. Without a functioning govt it could be a lot worse.

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