Off the Record (Oct. 10, 2018)

RANDOM OBSERVATIONS: What we need in this country is project czars. Remember the contractor guy hired to rebuild the LA freeway after the last big quake? The state told him to get it done, that he had all the authority he needed, that all the usual procedures were waived, and if he finished early he'd get a big bonus. He got 'er done way under schedule because he was given total authority to hire and fire. Ask the next hundred people you see if they think a high speed train from San Francisco to Willits would be a good thing. A hundred to zip they'd say yes. But the slow speed train that so far got built, called of all things, SMART, runs from San Rafael to the area north of the Santa Rosa Airport, managing to bypass major population centers the length of the line, thus serving no one on a regular basis. The slow SMART train wouldn't run at all without massive subsidies. It will be a minor miracle if it gets to Cloverdale by 2050. Willits? Never. But hire a contractor czar with total authority to run a high speed train right up 101 all the way to Dos Rios, with feeder lines to the Anderson Valley and Fort Bragg? We'd have it shortly, as many European countries, Japan and China proved long ago.

WHICH BRINGS me to Sheriff Allman and Measure B, a two-thirds tax measure passed easily by Mendo voters to re-establish an in-county psych unit. The old psych unit on Bush in Ukiah collapsed because whenever a "client" nutted up and started throwing stuff, or went for a helping pro's throat, the Ukiah police had to be called to restore order. Every sensibly run psych unit employs a large, strong person to restrain the berserk — restrain, not pummel, but our old PUFF unit…. well, uh, it was always Call the cops. In the meantime, hide until the cops arrive to deal with him or her. 

AS THE SHERIFF has pointed out, the logical place to put the revived in-county psych unit is the old Willits hospital, now a mouldering. A portion of it could be remodeled cheaper than a new building could be erected. But the whole show is bogged down in endless, wheel-spinning meetings and, of course, the entrenched czarinas at the county's privatized mental health agency drag their pudgy little feet at even the hint of any threat to their fiefdoms. 

Frank R Howard Memorial Hospital

OUR PRIVATIZED Mental Health agency manages to spend $27 million or so annual public dollars providing no relief for the handful of crazy people running around untreated in Willits, Fort Bragg and Ukiah. The dangerously mentally ill are still shipped out of county at huge expense where they're sedated with the latest psychotropics and returned to Mendo until they go off again and the cycle repeats itself. We could do that recycling here at much less cost to taxpayers. Since Sheriff Allman got Measure B passed he should be awarded absolute authority to get the unit built. Otherwise it will never happen.

THE STORY out of Ukiah this week found the early rain catching the homeless shelter unready and the homeless still out in the early rain, but “guidelines” about who among the homeless qualifies to get sheltered have been promulgated. Paraphrasing, “No shelter if you're drunk, or otherwise loaded, and/or crazy.” Which leaves exactly who? 

IT'S ALWAY REPORTED LIKE THIS: "There’s a new bazillionaire at the top of the Forbes 400 for the first time since 1994. Amazon founder CEO Jeff Bezos has unseated Bill Gates from the spot after a 24-year run—and became the first person to appear in the ranks with a fortune of more than $100 billion. The Bezos fortune jumped by an incredible $78.5 billion since last year. Gates is in second position, ahead of Warren Buffett and Mark Zuckerberg. Much further down the list, Donald Trump has dropped 11 places to No. 259, as his net worth remained the same from last year at $3.1 billion. Investor George Soros lost the most money over the year with his net worth falling to $8.3 billion from $23 billion—because he shifted $18 billion of his fortune to his charitable Open Society Foundations."

AND NEVER followed by the question, Why are these people allowed to accumulate powerful fortunes like this in the first place? Surely half a bil would satisfy most of us. Tax the sumbitches til they scream, I say. Foundations being one more tax dodge, tax hell outta them, too.

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY detectives said Wednesday that they've closed a cold-case homicide that went unsolved for more than 30 years. Unfortunately, the scumbag who committed the murder is dead. Virginia Vincent was murdered in her Danville apartment by a neighbor Sept. 20, 1985, at the age of 57. Investigators were unable to identify a suspect at the time, but they entered DNA from the scene into a database in 2002 and still no match was found. But last year investigators asked the state Bureau of Forensic Services to use DNA from the crime scene in a "familial search." Investigators used the database to look for a partial match involving a blood relative of the suspect, Joey Lynn Ford. The "mystery" of who bombed Judi Bari could similarly be puzzled out, even without the confession letter the Press Democrat says it "lost." 

THOSE TV ADS against Proposition 8 should be charged with making criminal threats. They basically say, If you vote for this proposition we will close or cut back our private dialysis centers and leave dialysis patients to fend for themselves at already crowded emergency rooms. “Proposition 8 puts patients at risk,” they say. Of course, single payer health care would make such problems moot. And we get the complaint that Prop 8’s mechanism to capping revenues may be flawed. But we’ve also heard a number of complaints over the years about the way those private clinics operate and we’d like to think that Prop 8 would improve care, but asking corporate health outfits to do that tends toward pissing in the wind. Health care finances in America are so convoluted now that it’s hard for any health-care provider, especially those that are well-meaning, to make enough money to stay in business. There are probably better ways to regulate commercial dialysis clinics that Prop 8 — if we have to have such clinics at all, and we’re likely to need more dialysis as America’s diet pushes more and more people into diabetic liver disease — and the free for all market now in place, dominated largely by just big dialysis clinic chain corporations, is not a good way to provide the service. But threatening to turn patients away…? (Mark Scaramella)

MONKEY WRENCHER AND CAR BOMB SCAMMER DEMANDS LAW AND ORDER. The following is probably the single most hypocritical Letter To The Editor in the history of Northcoast publications. Darryl Cherney writes:

“The deterioration of Southern Humboldt County, California and the 3000 person Garberville/Redway area in particular, can be outlined as follows. Since I moved here 32 years ago, we have lost 100% of our bookstores, half of our auto mechanics, 90% of our local doctors, half of our veterinarians, most of our local nurses, half of our restaurants, 75% of our motels for tourists, 66% of our small engine repair shops, all of our evening/night access to the Redway post office boxes, our only movie theater, our Grange Hall, our entire Veterans Hall which also served as our local courthouse (next one is 62 miles north), half of our vegetable garden supply stores, half of our safety from being murdered or robbed along with about half of our sheriffs, half our thrift shops, the ability to leave one’s home and car unlocked, our ice cream parlor, much of the darkness of our night sky, the solvency of our community center which verges on bankruptcy, all of the security and peace of mind of our remote homesteads due code enforcement, and somewhere between 40 to 80% of our sales in whatever stores remain. I’m sure I’ve left a whole lot out. While there is still much to recommend our area such as our beautiful mountain elementary schools, the majestic redwoods and the Pacific Ocean, I must point out that virtually no arm of government is addressing any of this except in that all arms of government are vigorously and deliberately making it worse (well maybe not the library). In other words, rather than having a government that works for the people, we have one that works against us. The tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees and fines leveled against people for drinking their own water, living in their own self-built homes, or driving their dirt roads amount to this: piracy, racketeering, and extortion. An elder or anyone for that matter cannot pay fees and fines more than their homes are worth, let alone do the years work the county demands of them to be done in just a few short weeks. Governments engaging in piracy is an old tradition. Governments (and the bureaucrats who run them) preying on their own people is as old as history. But I say this: water and shelter are human rights. And I suspect this: whether it’s by ballot measure, voting them out, or good old fashion pitchforks and torches, the people of Humboldt County are on the verge of striking back. “

—Darryl Cherney, Redway

ON-LINE COMMENT NAILS IT: My, that was my laugh for the day. Darryl Cherney, who spent the early part of his life as a “forest defender,” who abused any and all government officials, whose sole claim to fame is receiving taxpayer dollars in a settlement over a very sketchy damages claim, is whining that what he and his hath wrought is not what they wanted. NOW it’s the government’s fault for not intervening. Oh, really, I needed something amusing…

IT'S COME TO THIS: Sean Miller, 24, of San Francisco has invented the Snapcrap app for city residents to take pictures of human feces in their neighborhood streets to forward for immediate clean-up to municipal officials. Miller says it's “the fastest way to request street cleaning in SF. It’s kind of funny, obviously,” Miller told The Sacramento Bee, “but it’s also a health crisis, and it’s disgusting seeing that stuff.” Users are asked to snap a quick picture of poop they spot on the streets and then submit the photo to a local government helpline with a pre-written message requesting a clean-up. Mayor London Breed previously said a dedicated “Poop Patrol” is being set up in order to handle the roughly 65 calls a day reporting fouled city sites.

A READER WRITES: “In this week's Fort Bragg Advocate and Beacon about the October 1st Mendocino Coast District Hospital candidates forum, editor Chris Calder made a serious error in attributing the quote, “We need a new CEO, and I don’t say that lightly,” to Amy McColley when Rex Gressett actually made the statement. Ms. McColley, in answering a question about how MCDH Board members should deal with the CEO, had just finished her answer about how to hold CEOs accountable when the same question went to Rex. His first words were the aforementioned quote. Readers and voters expect careful attention to detail from our news sources. This error should be corrected immediately online, along with apologies to both Ms. McColley and Mr. Gressett. Next week's coast papers should contain a front page correction and apology to these two candidates, not a retraction tucked in the corner of an inside page of the Advocate and Beacon.”

MENDO'S HOMELESS POPULATION numbering what? a hundred people? And, uh, that hundred being rather difficult to house given their dependencies and uneven mental functioning, but Oakland, beset by a much larger homeless population, has set up a Tough Shed village. The small structures are most commonly used to store lawn mowers and other tools in backyards, but Oakland has one village up and running with two more planned of about a hundred each housing two people per structure, a privacy curtain separating the roomies. Each side has space for a bed and a few belongings. There are separate toilet facilities at each site and each week, portable showers are brought in. The city also provides two meals a day to the village residents. Each site costs about $750,000 a year to operate with money coming from private donations, Oakland, Alameda County and Kaiser Permanente. Mendo, assuming the political that is presently absent, could do a version of the same for less money.

SPOTTED among the Kavanaugh demonstrators, a pro-Kavanaugh group of portly women holding a sign that said, "Fat Girls For The Truth."

WONDERING OUT LOUD if the Pamela Heston teaching an administration of justice class at Mendo College is the same Pamela (Markham) whose controversial tenure at the Mendo Probation Department caused so much local comment? 

Burkey, Smith (2016)

ON THE SUBJECT of suddenly interesting mayors, former Point Arena mayor, Douglas Burkey, and his then-consort, Sheryl (Lian) Smith, a former employee of PA, were arrested three years ago on charges of grand theft. 

BURKEY AND SMITH had some serious 'splaining before them. The background for their arrest involved theft in the amount of $168,000 from a man named Aron Laventer, a former love interest of Ms. Smith’s. The 60-year old Laventer was found dead on his SoCo property in late 2012, conveniently and unaccountably dead in suspicious circumstances.

BURKEY is back in PA and working for the Mendocino County's smallest city as manager of the town's pier. Still recognizable through his long hair and a full beard, but without Ms. Smith, who died of cancer soon after she was released from prison.


"What's going on out there is insane. And I do believe Trump and his base—and I include Repubs in congress—won again. They turned what was a job interview into a trial. I don't believe any normal human would employ the person we saw on video after Ford's testimony. Who would want that kind of person on their team?

And now Trump has made men, and esp. young men, the victims. I believe if you asked 10,000 average women if they'd experienced sexual assault, from rape to groping, from the horrific to the slimy uncle at a Christmas dinner, 99.5% would say yes. Almost every woman I know, myself included, has been in an uncomfortable to horrid situation with a man. And I am not a knee jerk type gal ‘I need more than gossip to form an opinion.

I kept muttering, through the Kavanaugh circus, What about the lies told to the judiciary committee? What about his friend deciding what and how much of Kav's ginormous trove of communication etc would be made available to the committee? What about Kav's slimy judicial B.S.—caught on video tape—as he tried to stall a young woman's abortion till it was too late under law. 

I kept muttering that a drunken escapade from 37 years ago is not gonna change anyone's mind. And focusing on that alone was not smart. 

When will the two sides erupt? When will the real street ugliness commence? See, I'm no longer asking when Trump will be gone. At every turn, the Dems seem to screw up."

HOWEVER, and as they always have over the past fifty years, the Democrats will put up Biden or a bi-gender clone thereof and, as they always have over the past fifty years, liberals will say, “Biden is a disaster but Trump is a bigger disaster,” but Trump will be re-elected and the libs will say, “It’s your fault, all you third-party people who refused to vote for Joe,” and the rolling catastrophes, now picking up major momentum, will roll on.


(1) Kavanaugh apparently threw ice at a guy in a bar in New Haven in 1985. No injuries, no arrests, no casualties. But it was important enough to make the news cycle today. The Day of the Hyena is truly upon us.

(2) The increase in technology allows for a corresponding increase in complexity, however when things get really complicated, everything has to work perfectly. All it takes is for one part of the whole to collapse, and everything begins to tumble down. Recovery will come slowly, because most people haven’t lived a lifestyle that translates into a skill set useful for the great reckoning. It’s hard to hurt someone who lives in a mud hut, and beats his clothes on a rock in the river, however, we don’t live at that level, and have no experience in how to live in reduced circumstances. I guess it depends on how great the fall, and how far it drops. My guess is that if you don’t already live close to a simpler lifestyle, whatever that may be, the tougher it will be when the hammer comes down.

(3) The bigger legal grows are worse for the neighborhoods than the illegal ones in the past. Back in the day the illegal growers knew not to piss off their neighbors, to at least pretend to care and try to avoid detection. This new group of “legals” is greedy greedy greedy. They hide behind their “legal” label to pirate away whole neighborhoods. Disrespect is their right by virtue of having a permit. The uglification of our county. Mendocino County has no real enforcement of their ordinance and the “legals” pride themselves in taking advantage of us all. No participation in the community, or true care of the environment. They know more about LLCs and funneling money into banks undetected than they do about farming. Creative book keeping their primary skill. Shameful. The higher they climb the further they fall. Look forward to watching. Greed one of the seven deadly sins.

(4) Yup! My legal neighbors yell, ride quads up and down, they have grow lights for porch lights so they can work at night, plus the uncovered lights on the hoops, plus the traffic, the big loads, the heavy equipment, the generators, and they tie up dogs at their gardens that bark all night. In the old days we had to be low key, not now. Here is the question; should I “watch their back” or complain to the county? Would that make me a “snitch”?

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