LOUIS KORN has passed away in Hawaii. Louis was known to many people in Mendocino County, becoming particularly prominent, ubiquitous even, during the Redwood Summer period.
Some years ago, Louis moved to the tiny, Big Island community of Na'alehu where he lived with former Willits resident, Susan van Dongen, who pre-deceased him. A local gathering is being planned for his Mendocino County to remember Louis. At the risk of offending those friends, the guy fascinated me, but not in ways suitable to the usual post-mortem. I always considered Louis to be a kind of comic figure, a holy fool, generous to the point of self-destruction, sincere so far past the normal parameters of sincerity that I often found myself wanting to scream, "Louis! Lighten up, man. Nobody gets out of this thing alive anyway. Enjoy yourself a little." And he stuttered. Which meant it would often take him five minutes to say hello. My wife always called him "Mr. Hello" because Louis's greeting process was more like a ritual than it was the simple acknowledgement most of us content ourselves with. I was never quite sure if Louis wasn't crazy, but among the Redwood Summer crew that question was a slippery slope indeed. The more pertinent question would have been, "Everyone who isn't crazy, please raise your hand." Of course crazy is defined as the crazy being unaware they're crazy. Louis wasn't crazy-crazy, but you certainly couldn't say he was mainstream. I remember visiting him at some primitive homestead west of Willits that he said he was "housesitting." There were a couple of wobbly sheds and the slovenly, unheated shack Louis was staying in, but nothing of value beyond the land and the three wolves Louis was caring for. Wolves. Wolves like the ones in Jack London. Wolves that belong in the wild, not a Willits pot farm. Louis claimed they were mostly dog, only part wolf, but they were big and they were hostile, and they sure as hell didn't look like any dog I'd ever seen. The whole time I was there the three beasts circled us, growling and occasionally snarling to leap at each other's throats, at which point Louis would murmur, "There, there, my sweets" as I looked around for something to hit them with when they finally attacked us. It was an unnerving visit, I can tell you. Louis also would spend the night at our place when he was in Boonville. One night, as we were sitting down to dinner, Louis came through the door waving a small insect, which turned out to be a spider. "I,I,I, fa fa fa found this beautiful ka ka ka ka creature in the bathroom." Yes, Louis, and....? To fast forward here, Louis wanted us to know he hadn't been able to bring himself to kill it. It wasn't as if we did spider inventories, it wasn't as if we would have noticed that one of our spiders had gone missing. Louis had his virtues, certainly, but about an hour of saintliness was my limit. The guy was exhausting in a creeping Jesus sort of way. I always took notes, though. There was no one like him.
THIS WEEK’S BOARD of Supervisors agenda says the Sheriff’s Department is running a budget deficit of about $1.4 million. Assuming the Sheriff agrees with this estimate of the Department’s “overrun” (and there are some indications that he does), CEO Carmel Angelo calculates that 14 current Sheriff’s Department employees will have to be laid off to close the gap.
BUT, AS THE SHERIFF makes clear, he doesn't intend to give up either a position or a nickel. (See this week’s Memo of the Week.) CEO Angelo has proposed eliminating “eight peace officer positions from patrol” (plus six non-uniformed admin staffers in the Sheriff’s Department). However, Ms. Angelo's proposed layoff roster shows five sergeants and three deputies nominated for the guillotine. Assuming the Sergeants have bumping rights, there would be three fewer patrol deputies and five fewer sergeants. The sergeants, if they don’t quit or retire, would bump down to patrol, displacing up to five patrol deputies. If it comes down to layoffs of patrol deputies, most Mendocino County residents will be very unhappy, Anderson Valley particularly where deputy Craig Walker has become quite popular.
IT’S HARD TO TELL what the County got from its pension and investment experts last week given the investment jargon the alleged experts wrapped it in, that and the diversionary graphs the experts always throw in to spiff up their presentations with. That said, it does appear that the pension fund is somewhat better off than it was at this time last year because of the stock market's partial recovery. If you came in late, Mendocino County's pension money is heavily invested in the stock market. How the market's uptick will translate to local debt service is not explained in the report. But the County may be able to reduce its annual pension payments or reduce its long-term pension debt sooner than previously expected because the portfolio has increased in value and the number of employees and their pension amounts have decreased, what with layoffs and the County's hiring freeze.
NO MAN BEATERS this week, but these two ladies got themselves charged with battery, meaning they hit someone, probably another woman. The gentle sex is pretty fast with their bejeweled fists these days, but then there are a lot more provocations out there, true? From their expressions, I'd say these ladies are unrepentant. Whomever they smacked probably had it coming, and how hard could these ladies hit anyway? So, we've got Ukiah's Lacey Lynn Mononi, 24, 5'4" and 115 pounds and Redwood Valley's Yvette Amanda McNally, 51, 5'4" and 116 pounds, flyweights.
MARK ROHLOFF, DOUBLE AGENT! A couple of weeks ago, Mr. Rohloff, on his way out the door after 35 years as boss of the Ford Street Project, an umbrella do-good organization, wrote a letter to the Ukiah Daily Journal lauding the Tea Party's triumphs in the recent elections. Rohloff said he was very pleased that Kristi Noemi of South Dakota, "the new Sarah Palin," had become South Dakota's sole Congressman, and he said that he hoped the cretinous Marco Rubio of Florida, just elected to the U.S. Senate, would some day become President. Rohloff's coming out, as it were, has shocked Mendolib. Rohloff and his Ford Street Project have been the very cornerstone of Mendolib's efforts on behalf of the walking wounded, and Rohloff himself a kind of totemic figure in whom all goodness had been presumed to reside. Now this... This, this, this treachery, this sudden abandonment by Rohloff of correct thinking, this shocking descent into neo-fascism!
I THINK I KNOW what happened to him. Rohloff's a tweedy-looking dude who, on appearance, always seemed the very picture of advanced consciousness, a highly evolved human being, as our more precious libs often describe each other, a guy who could do paradigms and issues and insincere interfaces with the most relentless iron butts of Non-Profit Land. So, why did he go over to the dark side? I think Rohloff was simply one circle over the line. I think he came to loathe The Nice People so intensely he went politically crazy. "I'll show these featherbedding fools, them and their on-the-clock sit-in-a-circle hippie bullshit they've subjected me to all these years. By the goddess, I'll join the Tea Party! Which is what he did, and I say, Go ahead on, Rohloff. You've earned your revenge.
JUST ASKING, but why does the County shrink, Dr. Rossoff, make $200,000 a year, and if the Solid Waste Management Authority is $50,000 over budget why is the County still paying Mike Sweeney a total compensation of a hundred grand a year for an alleged job he not only created for himself but was allowed to set his own pay scale for? And what's the deal with Gary Hudson? How long does he get to draw his lush cop salary while he's out of service on so-called stress leave? Didn't he cause his own stress when he flipped out and pulled his wife's hair out of her head by the handful? When are we going to get some real fiscal austerity around here?
CAPTAIN FATHOM IS in jail again, this time for a "terrorist threat." The terrorist threat may have been the one he shoved under our office door on a paper plate a couple of weeks ago. The Captain wrote that he intended to commence shooting cops. He's said that before, but these days, and even coming from a crazy guy, that's the kind of talk that will get you locked up. The Captain’s bail is set at $20,000, which means he'll be at Low Gap for the several months it takes to again run him through the system.
KC MEADOWS WRITES: “Regular readers of the Ukiah Daily Journal will remember a couple of items two years ago having to do with William Patrick Council, the former property management director of the Rural Community Housing Development Corporation here in Ukiah. He had been let go by the RCHDC and complained that he had been discriminated against as a black man. He took his complaints of discrimination, retaliation and harassment to the (state) Department of Fair Employment and Housing which a year ago closed his case with a “right to sue” notice. So he's suing RC HDC. He filed the suit in Mendocino County Superior Court in September charging that on numerous occasions his authority was diluted by upper management, that he was humiliated in front of staff and that staff were allowed to make racist comments without any consequences although he raised the issue with management. In general he contends a hostile work environment.”
MARK ALBRECHT AND JOHN HENDRICKS do tag-team political comment for the Sunday Ukiah Daily Journal. The two of them comprise "SOS-USA, dedicated to promoting the conservative point of view in Ukiah." Every week, as Ukiah yawns right on past their crude opinions, Albrecht and Hendricks warn their indifferent neighbors about the threat of "socialism." I don't know these two wise men of the rural right, but as Mendocino County's sole uncloseted socialist I guess it's left to me to honk back at them.
WHEN I THINK UKIAH conservatives, or think about conservatives generally, I think of plump-pink white guys in their middle to late years, the kind of pudgy blunderbusses you meet at outback Chamber of Commerce lunches or "private industry councils." They've got secure incomes, and they probably inherited a nice bundle besides. The wolf has never visited their door, let alone camped there. They were born on third base and think they hit a triple, but in the truly competitive context they claim they yearn for they'd be unlikely to survive. Unfettered capitalism isn't a game won by dummies, but unfettered capitalism always needs gofers, hence Albrecht and Hendricks.
HENDRICKS KICKED OFF Sunday's screed with the transparently false statement that "Obama is a socialist." Hendricks cites as his Obama-as-socialist source a ghost-written book by David Limbaugh, Rush Limbaugh's learning-disabled little brother.
OBAMA IS NOT a socialist. To take only one of Obama's non-socialisms, a socialist would have nationalized the banks in 2008, not rewarded their owners with massive payouts of public money for pulling off the grandest theft in the history of theft.
BECAUSE THE OPINIONS of Albrecht and Hendricks are not based on any known political reality, and because they know even less about socialism in any of its many well-documented manifestations than they do about American history, their opinions, although prevalent among the nastier sectors of the untutored, are worthless. Boring, too, because they can't write.
BUT THESE UKIAH HONKS, and right on up through their soul bros: Hannitty, O'Reilly, Limbaugh, Sissy Savage, mega-nut Glen Beck, and the rest of the corporate-funded charlatans who've turned political reality on its head, rave on about Obama as if Obama is somehow hostile to the Destruction Agenda. Look at the guy's record: two hot wars going simultaneously; continued tax breaks for the very rich; phony health care reform to accommodate the insurance companies; a blank check for Wall Street, and so on. This isn't socialism, and even to be compelled to say it isn't socialism shows us how far into lunacy the honk-heads have managed to shove the political discussion.
THIS HENDRICKS character parlays his Obama-is-a-socialist fantasy into a generalized attack on another non-existent entity, the American left. "The left wing is not American. It is quite the contrary — anti-American." (As an American and a leftwinger, if Hendricks honked that one in my face I'd just have to pop him one.) But there isn't a left wing in America. The left was all the way dead by 1975, but without it we'd still have little kids working in coal mines and grams and gramps sure as hell wouldn't be getting their meager social security checks the rightwing is now committed to taking away from them.
LOOKING AROUND our fair, fat land I don't see any organized hostility to free enterprise, least of all from the Obama administration. But hostility to, or at least suspicion of capitalism defines "leftwing." If you think capitalism can be modified to provide for everyone, you're a liberal, not a leftwinger. At a minimum, a leftwinger believes that unless capitalism is strictly regulated it will kill us all. It is presently unregulated and it is presently killing us all, as anyone with eyes to see can see.
LOOMING CATASTROPHES ASIDE, I'll bet most Americans, most of that 70% the pollsters cite as believing "America is headed in the wrong direction," would agree with this socialist that there's got to be a vast revision of basic national priorities, beginning with a very big tax on incomes greater than $250,000 and a huge roll back of the military's blank draw on the national treasury. These two reforms alone would give U.S. enough money for a single-payer health system, a federal jobs program, adequate funding to revive a failed public education system, and accomplish it all without touching the outback piggy banks of nascent national socialists like Albrecht and Hendricks. And America would be a much happier, far less violent place into the bargain.
I THINK JOHN STEINBECK pretty much defined the Albrecht -Hendrick demographic back in 1969: "America suffers from a subtle and deadly illness. Immorality doesn't describe it, nor does lack of integrity or dishonesty. What's been lost are the rules — rules concerning life, limb, and property, rules governing deportment, manners, conduct, and rules defining dishonesty, dishonor, misconduct, and crime. Americans are like highly bred, trained, and specialized bird dogs cooped up in a kennel rather than allowed to hunt. In a short time the dogs become quarrelsome, fat, lazy, cowardly, dirty, and utterly disreputable and worthless, and all because their purpose is gone and with it rules and disciplines that once made them beautiful and good."