The homeless camps in Ukiah are not far off the beaten path. The beaten path, for those who have never been homeless in Ukiah, goes from the Community Center on North State Street, over to the Ford Street Project, back across to the Probation Office on State Street and on down past the courthouse to the welfare offices behind the Co-Op, then on down to Plowshares.
The beaten path of course has many branches, but none of them penetrate very deep into the bourgeois preserves west of Dora, the main branch being eastbound down Perkins, toward the exits out of town, called (deceptively) Freeway Entrance, and also to the surrounding area anchored by WalMart where the homeless congregate, exchange pleasantries with transients, and also near where homeless student Deshaun Davis was shot dead two years ago, and where Supervisor John McCowen persecutes and harasses the wretchedest members of our lovely community.
The best way to bring the heat down on you, if you’re homeless, is to leave this Beaten Path. It’s like Zen. During the daytime the homeless are free to hang out at the Alex Thomas Plaza, Ukiah’s “Pocket Parks,” and other public places where shaded benches seat anonymous characters in hoodies while they sip coffee provided by the nearby Methodist church. But at night you must find a hidey-hole to sleep rough in or the police will have you for breaking Ukiah’s prohibition on “camping” — an ordinance contrived by the rentier lobby, no doubt led by the likes of Supervisor McCowen — and face a $600 fine (which wouldn’t even pay a month’s rent on the cheapest apartment in town, but which would take every last cent of a typical homeless person’s monthly SSI income).
And allow me to make one more parenthetical point about income inequality before moving on: My SSI is less than $450 a month, which is to say only half of what is legally considered “petty” as in “petty theft,” meaning anyone who took my entire month’s pay would not be guilty of much more than shoplifting a trinket.
Hidey-holes are kept secret by their tenants, but like hobo camps everywhere, they tend to collect cast-off rags, filthy blankets, spent syringes, and some of the nastier brutes even defecate in ‘em, so you have to be careful about using such accommodations.
These places are undergoing a transformation by City workers, bum-proofing crassly put. A good example is the overhang on the building where County Probation used to be at the east end of Standley Street near the Perkins Street Lounge. This overhang provided a hidey-hole well protected from foul weather, a dry place to sleep rough. But some fool left a truckload of furniture there and, as it faces a County parking lot, it was “discovered” and pretty soon a City backhoe and dump truck brought in some huge boulders and filled in the space, making it uninhabitable for all but a few black widow spiders.
The homeless will have their revenge, however, and now they use the boulder lot for an open-air toilet, much to the disgust of the courthouse staff who have to park near it.
But as pertains to our story this week, one of these hidey-holes is in the bushes behind the Regal cinema complex on State Street. I’ve actually slept rough there myself a few times back in the day. It has a convenient “back door” down the alley and out onto the side street, which I believe is Clay, in case unwanted visitors come calling in the dead of night.
It may sound like an oxymoron, but even the homeless have “domestic” abuse issues, and a couple cohabitating in the bushes behind the Regal Theaters, began squabbling on May 19th, and soon the female half, Patrisha Moody, left and went down to the Sunrise Motel — the cheapest lodging in town — to get away from the defendant in this case, Paul Golyer.
Another homeless person, Jaime Brummett, who is confined to a wheelchair (she also has epilepsy, and as a result, like the rest of the witnesses, she could remember nothing of the night in question), was staying in one of the Sunrise luxury suites (bring your own soap and toilet paper) and, naturally, the accommodating Ms. Brummett had many visitors drop by for a visit and to get off the streets for a few hours, maybe even wash up a bit.
Another Argonaut of the Beaten Path, Jeremy Jensen, was enjoying a brief respite from the mean streets in Ms. Brummett’s luxurious (if temporary) salon, when out in the parking lot there arose a commotion of screaming and shouting. Pretty soon Patty Moody (better known behind her back as, Moody Patty) was holed-up in the bathroom of Jaime’s room while J.J. (Jensen) and Paul got into a fight out in the parking lot.
Remember, none of these people wanted to go to court — and certainly none of them called the cops. So little, if any, of their testimony on the stand could be believed. But somehow Mr. Jensen got stabbed in the arm, and Paul Golyer fled to Safeway bleeding from the scalp after Jensen thumped him over the head with a handy length of baseboard. Golyer cowered in Safeway’s floral section until the police and ambulance arrived.
After Golyer was patched up by the paramedics he was taken to the hospital for more treatment, then arrested for Count Two, allegedly assaulting Ms. Moody with his knife on the way to the motel; and, Count One, stabbing Mr. Jensen with the same knife, a USMC issue K-Bar.
Deputy DA Beth Norman called Patrisha Moody, only to find out that Ms. Moody was going to recant her statements to the cops, and would only say that she’d been in a relationship with the defendant, Paul Golyer, and that they’d been staying in the bushes behind the Regal Theater. The reader will readily sympathize with the waves of homesick nostalgia that swept over my heart as I realized these people had squatted in my former digs!
It was defense’s “theory,” as conceived by the defendant, and translated into legalese by his lawyer, Kevin Davenport, that “My client called ‘Wolf’ once too often, and like the unfortunate protagonist in the fable, Mr. Golyer was a victim of his own machinations.”
I don’t know if those were Davenport’s exact words because I came in late, and missed some of his opening statements to the jury. But the idea, the kernel of the defense theory, was that somebody in authority at the Regal Theater had come by and told Paul and Patty to clear off or else.
Later, on the stand, Golyer would admit that this was a lie he often told Moody to alarm her and use her hysterical fear to assert his value to her as protector, emphasizing his endless ingenuity in getting the couple out of fixes (of his own contrivance), and at the same time gratifying some of his “needs,” by reducing her to a state of despondency.
Readers with a mystical inclination will be interested to hear that while this was going on all that week, I was reading Balzac’s Colonel Chabert, whose plight was to survive a severe head wound in battle with the Russians, struck down from his horse, thought dead, and was buried in a mass grave, where he did somehow regain consciousness, dig himself out, find medical aid and charity, regained his health, but not his name, as the news of his death was legendary and nobody believed him when he re-appeared, so horribly disfigured by his near-fatal wounds even his closest friends didn’t recognize him. The poor devil spent years in homeless camps, charity queues and, for insisting he was a deceased dignitary, a personal hero of Napoleon’s, he also spent years confined in a Prussian mental ward… Anyway, Balzac was merely toying with the then-new (to Europe) concept of reincarnation, and his story starts with the clerks at the law offices cracking jokes and making bets about who “The Colonel” really is.
The same thing is going on at the courthouse in Ukiah now, 200 years later, and in all that time not a single improvement has been added to the plight of the homeless.
Unable to get a straight answer out of Moody Patty, Deputy DA Norman called the other victim, Mr. Jensen, who immediately invoked his right not to incriminate himself. Judge Cindee Mayfield called a recess while a lawyer was found to advise the witness, whose name was Mumm (so far).
I walked down to the Credit Union, across Clay from the Regal, and on my way back to the courthouse, passed Patrisha Moody on her way to…. her crib behind the Regal? Was she still at the Regal? I didn’t look back, despite the whisper of temptation.
Back in court, Mr. Jensen took the stand again, this time ready to tell his story, with certain reservations; so it was short and to the point: “I picked up the stick after he stabbed me.”
Defense attorney Davenport had warned the jury that in a self-defense case the defendant must take the stand and tell his sad, sad story, and this one was a real tear-jerker: Essentially: Golyer was on his knees, begging, begging Moody Patty, promising her the moon, the stars, but she wouldn’t come out. And the whatever, he [Jensen] hit me with a brick, I dropped my knife, he clunked me on the noggin’ with a stick, it hurt, I pulled my knife, I wadn’t thinkin’, I was real skeered, ya’ see, and then I ran away,” et cetera…
On cross, Ms. Norman grilled Golyer to a turn. Caught him in every one of his pitiful lies, but had no evidence, considering her dicey witnesses, for any of it. Leaving it like that, she handed it to the jury, and to the surprise of a very confident defense, they found him guilty on count one, the main charge, assault with a deadly weapon; and not-guilty on count two, the “domestic” abuse charge being moot, after all, since Paul Golyer will be going away for a long time…
I wonder if I can get my old camping spot back after he’s gone?