- Winter Weather
- Abreu Hearing
- Body Found
- Kamala v Kayo
- Winter Fair
- Love Quiz
- Valentine Meal
- Rebel Joe
- Little Dog
- Raging Beau
- Vacant Homes
- Misdemeanor Arson
- Valentine Dinner
- Yesterday's Catch
- Wealth Tax
- Snow Day
- Fire Recovery
- Pension Crisis
- Tax Adelson
- PG&E Lobby
- CA Foodways
- SOTU Recap
- Swingin' Syllables
- Illiterate Leaders
- Found Object
CHILLY AND WINTER-LIKE CONDITIONS can be expected to persist for the foreseeable future, with another round of showers and low elevation snow expected over the weekend. Several inches of accumulating snow can be expected in many interior areas Saturday and Sunday, with snow levels once again dropping to very low levels Saturday night and Sunday. (National Weather Service)
TAI ABREU hasn't seen Mendocino County since 2002 when he was found guilty of the murder of Donald Perez after a one day trial and a stunningly incompetent defense. Abreu was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Abreu had just turned 19 when the Mendo legal system buried him alive. He's been in prison for 17 years.
ABREU was in court Wednesday, shuffling in shackled with the catch of the day. In his prison-issued glasses, the dark-haired petitioner looks like Leon Trotsky, circa 1920. He is seeking a downward adjustment of his murder and robbery conviction to a conviction for robbery under fairly new legislation, SB 1437, which limits murder convictions to the person who did the murder, not the persons who were simply present with the killer when the murder occurred. Abreu wants his murder conviction vacated on the simple grounds that he didn't do it, and there's no evidence that he did do it, or had foreknowledge that a murder was about to be committed.
I'D NEVER SEEN the guy in person before today's whatever it was. Call the 9am event a hearing, I suppose, because everyone involved — DA Eyster, Judge Moorman and a stand-in lawyer from the Public Defender's office appearing for Abreu's assigned Public Defender, Jessica Hoagland, seemed to hear each other, reaching a consensus opinion that they'd come back in two weeks when they had a clearer idea of the motion Abreu had filed, on his own, to have his case revisited.
OUT IN THE HALL, the DA and I amiably exchanged views on the case. The DA is clearly intent on resisting and denying Abreu's appeal. I said there's no case to deny seeing that Abreu not only has the law on his side, SB 1437, there's no evidence he participated in a murder. DA Eyster conceded he wasn't in the county when it all happened, but he was confident he would be successful, going on to say that he thought SB 1437 was "unconstitutional."
CONSTITUTIONALITY? Groan. Here we go. Endless, Talmudic-like back and forths about what the founding aristos meant by their pre-industrial document, what words meant then and what they mean now. Meanwhile, in the real world just down the road in Contra Costa County, a fellow named Adnan Kahn, invoking 1437, has been released from prison on an original murder charge almost identical to Abreu's: Khan was convicted for helping plan a 2003 Antioch robbery during which an accomplice stabbed the victim to death. Khan argued he did not know his accomplice harbored murderous intent.
ABREU did not get a fair trial in 2002. He didn't get a trial at all by any meaningful definition of the term. He got lynched, with his alleged attorney handing the mob the rope. His two accomplices — one of whom probably stabbed Perez to death — in what started out as a robbery scheme, pled out and received life with the possibility of parole. One has already been released, the other will be. There's no evidence Abreu committed any part of the violent assault on the unfortunate Mr. Perez who, ironically, was a far more unsavory character than his assailants prior to his meeting with them.
SIMPLE JUSTICE, and now the law, demands that Abreu's murder conviction be vacated, his robbery conviction sustained, and he is released after serving 17 years for what is ordinarily misdemeanor robbery.
On February 6, 2019 at approximately 12:22p.m., Officers of the Fort Bragg Police Department were dispatched to the west side of the Noyo Bridge to a report of a person in the water.
Assistance from the United States Coast Guard and medical personnel was requested; as Officers deployed on the north side of the Noyo River and the west side of the Noyo Bridge. Responding Officers observed a person lying on the ground on south side of the Noyo River below the Noyo Bridge.
Officers and Deputies of the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office responded to the victim’s location and determined the victim was deceased. The body of an unidentified white male between the age of 40 and 50 years was recovered and later transported to the Chapel by the Sea. The identification of the victim is pending further investigation by the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office.
Questions regarding this press release may be forwarded to Sergeant Rafanan at (707) 961-2800 ext. 140 or to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Fort Bragg Police Press Release)
SUNSET ON SUNDAY, February 3, 2019, Fort Bragg, CA
KAMALA VS. KAYO
by Fred Gardner (2003)
It won’t be a political tragedy, no matter who wins, but I can’t help seeing the district attorney’s race as the sad, final act of an Othello story involving two characters for whom I have respect and affection. The outcome was inevitable; and yet it didn’t have to come to this.
I worked closely with Kamala Harris for a year, and even more closely with Terence Tyrone Hallinan for two-and-a-half years as the San Francisco District Attorney's public information officer. I'd known "Kayo" since 1967. We used to drive down to Fort Ord together when I was covering the Presidio mutiny court martials for Liberation News Service (a syndicate for the "underground press") and Terence was representing 14 desperate young GIs who'd held a nonviolent sit-down to protest conditions at the stockade.
Back then there was a sign across Highway 1 as it went through the small city of Castroville that said "Welcome to Castroville, the artichoke capitol of the world." I sent a note to the Castroville chamber of commerce suggesting that they change their slogan to "the artichoke heart of the world." Many years later the sign was replaced, but the C-of-C stuck with "artichoke capitol." Which goes to show that giving away good advice for free only makes it ignorable.
Terence and I stayed in touch over the years. He entered politics at age 52, getting elected to the SF Board of Supervisors. He was elected DA in November 1995 and re-elected by a very narrow margin in '99, which is when he tapped me to be his press secretary. I had been working at UCSF as managing editor of Synapse, their internal weekly. Although I'd covered a few trials over the years, and had written about the drug laws in connection with the medical marijuana movement, I had to learn the workings and lingo of the criminal justice system on the job.
Terence told me who was who in the office — which lawyers were assigned to which units, who had special expertise, which ones he had hired, whose loyalty he questioned, etc. etc. He described Kamala Harris admiringly and called her "a great hire." (She had previously been a prosecutor for the Alameda County DA's office.)
No one I turned to for information at SFDA was more helpful than Kamala. She gave clear, detailed explanations, offered useful material to read, and never made me embarrassed to ask simplistic questions like, "How many people get arrested in San Francisco and what do they get charged with?"
By the way, everything I learned working for law enforcement served to confirm what I'd known as a reporter: violations of the drug laws account for about two-thirds of the crimes for which people get prosecuted, even in progressive San Francisco. First time I rode the elevator up to the jail on the fifth floor, Vernon Grigg, the SF DA's top narcotics prosecutor, said, as if giving a tour, “And here is where we keep our negroes.” The door opened and sure enough everyone in an orange jumpsuit was brown-skinned (like Vernon).
In January 2000 there was considerable media interest in a state ballot measure to be voted on in the upcoming March election — Proposition 21 — which would give prosecutors the option of trying defendants younger than 18 in Superior Court instead of the juvenile courts. (Previously such decisions had been up to the judges.) Hallinan had opposed Prop 21 — the only DA in the state to do so. The Assistant DA who had been most heavily involved in the No-on-21 campaign — speaking at rallies and drafting position papers — was Kamala Harris.
When reporters would call with questions regarding Prop 21, I would give them the option of interviewing Kamala as well as Terence, because she was knowledgeable and felt strongly about the subject. (She foresaw 38,000 more kids per year, most of them black and Latino, being tried in adult court over the year.) Plus Kamala was willing and generally available.
About a third of the Assistant DAs do not want to talk to reporters, I was coming to realize; about a third really do; and the other third will deal with the media if asked, but would not volunteer.
Two weeks after I started at SFDA, Darrell Salomon became “the number two” — Hallinan’s Chief Assistant. As a young lawyer Salomon had helped Joe Alioto, then the mayor of San Francisco, sue Look Magazine for linking him to the Mafia. Recently he had helped the Fang family acquire the San Francisco Examiner from the Hearst Corp. for the bargain price of minus $66 million (seller pays buyer). Hallinan hoped that Salomon would help him introduce efficiencies to the SF DA that are common practice at successful private-sector firms.
Not long after he arrived, Salomon came into my office and instead of sitting in the chair across the desk, pulled it over so that he could sit alongside me and read what was on my computer screen. This was not a man stealing a sideways glance. I swiveled the monitor slightly to make it easier for him to read as I pondered his intent: Dominance gesture? Mafia tradition? Trying to get something on me? Whatever was on the screen was work-connected, rest assured. I was honored to be employed by the city/county of San Francisco and the tough-minded old boxer who had done so much to oppose the Drug War and give people a break here and there.
"You and I have a philosophical difference," were Salomon's first words.
"That may be," I said, "what about?"
"You're trying to make a star out of Kamala Harris."
"I can't make a star out of Kamala Harris," I said, "she already is a star."
Salomon scowled. He said he didn't want me directing media inquiries about Prop 21 to Kamala because she was planning to run against Hallinan in November 2003. "She has an agenda," Salomon said and repeated, ominously, "She has an agenda…"
I pointed out that it was February 2000, an exhausting campaign had just ended, for a couple of years everybody in the office ought to concentrate on prosecuting crimes without an eye towards an election almost four years away.
I imagined that in two years Terence and Kamala could sit down and discuss which of them should run in 2003, based on whether he had the energy and desire, whether she had the experience and perspective… I was like Rip Van Winkle, having returned to the world of electoral politics after a 36-year absence. I overestimated the importance of The Cause and underestimated the importance of The Ego.
Darrell Saloman told me I didn't understand politics. "It's never too early to think in terms of the next campaign," he said. Also, I could learn a lot if I would report to him instead of to Terence. "You could be my eyes and ears in the office…" I ignored his offer and defended my decision to put reporters in touch with Kamala, who was spending her week-ends working on the No-on-21 campaign as a volunteer. Also, "The camera loves her" (a quote from Dan Springer, then reporting for KTVU).
And she thoroughly understood all the ramifications of the new law. And didn't it reflect well on Terence Hallinan that his brilliant young African-American protege was looking out for her younger brothers? And maybe, if they caught a high-ranking sister on TV, they'd pay attention.
Darrell sneered at my naivete. I kept going: "And there's the basic Egalitarian principle that those who do the work should get acknowledgment. And it's the line deputies that the reporters want access to, because they know the details of the case…
"She's Willie Brown's protege!" Darrell blurted, his face gone purple. "He's f---ing her!"
I said, "How do you know? Couldn't an old gent want to be seen with a beautiful young woman on his arm, leaving the opera?"
Maybe Darrell thought my Candide act was a put-on. He jumped up, shook his finger at me, and said "You direct those reporters' calls to Terence Hallinan. That's what he told me to tell you."
Later that day, I asked Kamala if she was planning to run in 2003. She said "Not if Terence decides to run for a third term." She said it would be "unprofessional." I told Terence, who did not believe her.
I sent Terence a note about my encounter with his Number Two. "… I figure Kamala started speaking out on Prop 21 not because she 'has an agenda' but because she has mercy. And if her agenda is to oppose the police state, what's wrong with that? Darrell said there's one good thing about her, not you, speaking out against Prop 21: 'it lowers the risk of alienating the governor, and we may need the governor for money.'
"Emotionally and intellectually I know you're very pro-Kamala, and I think it's reciprocal. That's why I'm writing to suggest that you rise above seeing her as a rival…"
I soon learned that Terence wanted to handle not only the Prop 21 calls, but all the calls coming in from reporters. He said he felt responsible for the policies and actions being carried out in his name. "I'm the elected official," he reminded me. "I'm the D.A. It's my office. Except for my spokesman, I don't want anybody going to the media."
But working reporters generally want access to the assistant DAs, because it's they — not the boss — who prosecute the cases and are most familiar with the facts. By giving the Assistant DAs leeway to talk, Terence would not only win the reporters' thanks, he might even catch an occasional break. "Think of it from Jaxon's point of view," I argued, invoking the Chronicle's indefatigable and highly cynical man at the Hall of Justice, Jaxon Vanderbeken. "Let's say Braden [Prosecutor Braden Woods, then in Homicide] gets an unfavorable verdict but he isn't allowed to discuss it, so Jaxon has to get you or me to explain what went wrong. He'll see the explanation as the official party line and all he'll want to do is poke holes in it. But if he talks to Braden, who just spent six days in court and put his heart into the prosecution and has an idea about why he didn't get a guilty verdict, Jaxon might quote his comments and not feel impelled to refute him."
In my two and a half years at the DA's office I generally gave the reporters access to the Assistant DAs. Terence was forbearing. He knew I was operating in what I took to be his interests, but he disagreed with my approach, and he had every right to, and he was the boss.
If Kamala Harris was hatching any disloyal plans, I never got wind of them. Within the office she was a terrific mentor. I remember her instructing Assistant DA Maria Bee to be much more forceful in prosecuting Douglas Chin, dubbed "Rebar Man" by the media. This was a case that the Hallinan-haters had been publicizing. Ken Garcia of the Chronicle characterized it as an "overzealous attempt by Hallinan's office to prosecute a Mission District man who went on a crusade to combat prostitution in his neighborhood. Douglas Chin, a.k.a. Rebar Man, a mild-mannered electrical engineer, did a stupid thing for a fine cause. He dropped candy-bar-size metal chunks from a rooftop on the cars of johns prowling for hookers around 19th and Capp streets, where he lives…"
Kamala instructed Maria, in fierce tones: "Show some outrage towards this creep! Tell the jury who he really is — a 46-year-old loner who lives with his mother. At night he sits for hours in the front room — in the dark, in the front room of his mother's house — looking out at the hookers. A creep! When he's sufficiently aroused, he puts on gloves and a ski mask and climbs a fire escape onto the roof of the church next door. From the roof of the church he hurls down 9-inch chunks of steel, which he has carefully hacksawed - this man is a creep! - at cars that he assumes are driven by pimps and johns. And he admits that he's done this ritual hundreds of times! It's a miracle nobody's gotten killed!"
Maria gulped and nodded and said, "Yes, thank you, yes, I will…"
Kamala's a hell of a teacher, I thought, and certainly not somebody who wants to see the boss look bad. Far from it. But I couldn't convince Terence, and in due course he gave her a de facto demotion. She left to work for Louise Renne at the City Attorney's office, and as if Fate (or Terence) was out to demonstrate how replaceable workers are in our system, another beautiful, brilliant, brown-skinned attorney named K(ia) Harris was hired by SFDA soon thereafter, and for a while occupied the very office that had been Kamala's.
Darrell Salomon resigned after less than a year at SFDA, blaming Kamala Harris for stirring up resentment towards him. But Terence, on his own, decided to test Kamala's loyalty. He confided in her some info that, were it to appear in the press, he assumed, could only have come from her. And sure enough, the info did appear before long in a story by Dennis Opatmy of the Recorder. He summoned me into his office and was waving the legal tabloid in triumph: "You were wrong to keep sticking up for her! See…"
I soon learned that Terence had divulged the supposedly secret info to a loose-lipped third party. It was she, not Kamala, who gave the Recorder the pseudo-incriminating item.
PS 2019. Kamala ran for District Attorney in 2003 — pursuing her agenda, indeed — and defeated Terence by a 56-44 margin in the Democratic primary. I had left SFDA, moved to the East Bay and was producing a publication for a pro-cannabis doctors' group. I didn't think Terence should have run for a third term, and he didn't ask me what I thought.
He'll be remembered as the only law enforcement official in California who supported the medical marijuana initiative in '96.
The last piece I wrote about Kayo was in 2012. The accompanying photo of a racist cop's t-shirt reminded me of the fierce animosity that he — and Kamala — had to contend with, the so-called "culture" of SFPD.
Friends urged him to take part in the Presidio "mutineers'" reunion last October, but he wasn't feeling up to it.
THE WINTER ABUNDANCE FAIR is this weekend "rain or shine" at the fairgrounds — the perfect opportunity to exchange seeds, cuttings and new ideas for your garden and to enter in the fair this year. Have fun planning your garden!
LOVE QUIZ IN BOONVILLE, NEXT WEEK. The Quiz is on the regular schedule of 2nd and 4th Thursdays and that means the next evening of brain exercises will be just over a week from now, on Thursday, February 14th! Yes, it’s the 'Love Quiz’ and romance will be in the air. After all, “our most attractive organ is our brain” (Ron Jeremy, 1982). Hope to see you there. Steve Sparks, Quizmaster
JOE MUNSON: INTO THE PAST
As Told to Jonah Raskin
How to explain who I am and what I do now? That’s no easy feat. In my boyhood, I caused a lot of trouble. I was always getting kicked out of school. Before classes started at Blacksburg High in Virginia, I would get stoned with Pat Wilson, an openly gay guy, and Ann Roth, who was a cheerleader and one of the most popular girls in the school. She was definitely counterculture. I was the school troublemaker. I talked back to teachers and I skipped classes, too. I would steal stuff, like cartons of cigarettes, from stores and I grabbed pot from an older brother. I had eight blood brothers and sisters, plus a whole bunch of adopted brothers and sisters. I was number six in the birth order. All of us waited in line for mom’s attention. She gave me time and love; my dad gave me discipline and love.
We were a Catholic, military family in military housing. It was kind of like a barracks. The only place I ever really felt comfortable was in the kitchen with my mom. She would tell me that I should be good. I would do crappy stuff and she wouldn’t tell my dad. He never fisted me but he spanked me and pushed me around. He was a colonel in the army, and a leader of men and I didn’t want anyone to lead me, least of all him.
I’d walk into class at school with a pen coming out of my pants and everyone laughed. I would take the aluminum wrapping from Wrigley’s Gum, make a kind of fork, stick it into an electric socket and blow it up. This was in a parochial school where girls were in uniform and the guys would mess with their dresses.
Why did I do all this? Negative attention was better than no attention. While I was growing up, my mom went to school to become a therapist and a psychologist. I was her inspiration. She was finishing grad school when I was granted emancipation. I was doing Ritalin and also selling it at school by the time I was 14. They told me that I was hyperactive and had too much energy. I was raised with all that crap about Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit. I believe Jesus lived, but I doubt he had supernatural powers, and, when I was growing up, I didn’t believe that I would burn in hell unless I repented my sins. My parents gave ten percent of their income to the church. Priests were living comfortable lives while people were starving. One of my own sisters worked graveyard shift at Walmart and struggled to feed her kids and my parents were giving away thousands of dollars to the church.
I did try to be good. I was an altar boy and confirmed and sang hymns, and at the same time I’d steal beer from the frig at home and go into town and shoot pool. I’d scrounge $10, buy tickets for Virginia Tech football games, then sell them, make between $200 and $300 and then persuade a college student to buy me and my buddies beer and whisky. Chris Porter and me would drive in his MG to Bluefield, West Virginia and buy a case of Jack Daniels. The drinking age was 18 there, and it was easier to get booze than in Virginia. My older brother, Mike, was a rebel and an inspiration. He moved out of the house and then straightened himself out while I remained un-together.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved my parents, though my father didn’t think so. He acted like I hated him. I just didn't like the way he ran the ship.
I actually gave my own son, Milo Hugh Munson, my dad’s first name. My father passed away a while ago. My mom is still alive, but I don’t talk to her anymore. I told her that I didn’t think the world would last much longer and that the military and the Catholic Church were helping to ruin it. You know, the U.S. military has been in 50 to 60 wars over the past hundred years or so. It’s all about natural resources, not human rights. And the U.S. military teaches soldiers in dictatorships how to repress uprisings and rebellions. How can an educated person believe in Noah’s Ark and the Ten Commandments and then blow up kids in Nicaragua?
My siblings didn’t like it that I was honest with my parents. They wanted me to go on attending church and being a good altar boy. Fuck them!
I understand, you gotta teach kids to read and write, but inoculating them with false facts about U.S. history, no thanks. Teddy Roosevelt was no hero and Henry Ford was thick with the Nazis. I wasn’t taught the ugly truths about American history. I was in Amsterdam for a cannabis event and this Middle Eastern guy comes up to me and says, “You’re a fucking American.” I said, “Well, yes, but I don’t support Bush.”
In my own family, I suppose I’m getting pay back now for my misdeeds. My daughter, who’s rebellious, is my parents’ revenge on me for what I did to them. But I love her greatly.
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “Skrag shot past me when the snow fell, yelling ‘The sky is falling!’ Haven't seen him in two days, not that I miss him all that much, but he is part of the scenery around here. If anybody sees a raggedy, raccoon-looking feline out there, let us know.”
BE MY VALENTINE
On February 5, 2019 at approximately 2:06 PM, Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to a reported Domestic dispute occurring at the location in the 8000 block of Reeves Canyon Road in Redwood Valley. The reporting person stated an adult female, 43, of Redwood Valley, had texted them requesting 911 be called. As Deputies were responding, they were advised the adult female was now being chased by the suspect down Reeves Canyon Road. When the Deputies arrived in the area of mile marker 6.5 on Reeves Canyon Road, they were approached by the adult female and a witness to the domestic dispute call. During the contact Deputies learned Beau Gregory Brown, 37, of Redwood Valley and the adult female were married and had been in a verbal argument that quickly escalated. Brown had threatened to hurt the adult female and shoot all the animals on their property. Brown then grabbed most of the adult female's personal belongings, threw them in a pile in their driveway and lit them on fire. The adult female got into her vehicle and tried to flee the area because she was afraid for her life. Brown chased after the adult female in another vehicle and rammed into her vehicle as she was attempting to drive away. This resulted in the adult female crashing into the embankment. Brown then tried to pull the adult female from her vehicle as he threatened to hurt her again. The adult female was able to escape and a call to 911 was made. Deputies were told Brown had numerous firearms, was an avid hunter and had stated he would kill himself if she did not return home with him. While Deputies were interviewing the adult female, Brown arrived in his vehicle and stopped. As Deputies started to approach his vehicle and request he exit it (so they could speak with him), he put the vehicle in reverse and sped away heading back towards his residence in the 8000 block of Reeves Canyon Road. Deputies pursued after Brown but lost sight of him on Reeves Canyon Road near his residence. Due to Brown fleeing from law enforcement and the information Brown was in possession of numerous firearms, it was determined to secure the area and notify the Mendocino County Multi-Agency SWAT team for assistance. As Deputies were waiting for the SWAT team to arrive, Brown again approached Deputies in his vehicle near mile marker 6.5 on Reeves Canyon Road. Brown exited his vehicle and approached Deputies in a verbally hostile manner. He was then taken into custody without further incident. Brown was booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in lieu of $30,000 on charges of Assault with a Deadly Weapon, Criminal Threats, Arson of Property, Felony Vandalism, and Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Battery.
WHY THERE'S A HOUSING SHORTAGE, a reader writes:
"This first home is apparently not for sale or rent, but it has a Zillow listing. It's been vacant for at least a couple of years. Prior to that it looked like some shady dudes were using it for a "business" of sorts. Now it's just totally empty.
This one in Rancho Navarro has also been vacant for at least 2-3 years. It's apparently going thru foreclosure, but not very quickly. A local real estate agent, Vivian Reese (813-7430), is connected to the property, but she's pretty cryptic about the status of it.
Like I said, I think someone could find a 100 similar examples in this county with the same probable story line: weed prospectors bought these properties at the height of the market (prior to 2009 recession) and tried to float payments on black market sales. Now that strategy isn't viable anymore so these buildings sit empty for an indefinite period since they are so far under water. It's a lame situation"
ARSON: THE MISDEMEANOR KIND
UKIAH, Tuesday, February 5. -- A Mendocino County Superior Court jury returned from its deliberations today to declare it was finding the charged defendant guilty of unlawfully causing a fire, a misdemeanor crime.
Charged by the DA with felony arson and felony vandalism going into the trial, defendant Rhanda Rachel Medrano, also known as Rhanda Jack, age 36, generally of the Ukiah area, was accused of being the person responsible for setting the fire in November of last year that caused approximately $29,000 in smoke damage to inventory of the Carpet One business in Ukiah.
As allowed by law, at the close of the evidence, the jury was given the opportunity to consider the uncharged lesser misdemeanor instead of the felony arson.
Arson and felony vandalism both require proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant acted with malice. Under the law, someone acts maliciously when she intentionally does a wrongful act or when she acts with the unlawful intent to defraud, annoy, or injure someone else.
The defendant took the stand on her own behalf and testified about being homeless at the time, she admitted being the person seen in the security videos flicking a lighter when the fire was started in a dumpster sitting up against the business, and she admitted fleeing the fire and not calling for help. The defendant was adamant, however, that the fire was accidental; she told the jury that she did not intentionally set anything on fire with the lighter so, accordingly, she did not act with malice (as defined above).
After the jury was excused, the Court released the defendant from custody to return for a sentencing hearing on February 7th at 1:30 p.m. in Department H of the Ukiah Courthouse.
The attorney who presented the People's evidence at trial was Deputy District Attorney Tom Geddes. The investigating law enforcement agency was the Ukiah Police Department.
Mendocino County Superior Court Judge John Behnke presided over the two-day trial.
YORKVILLE MARKET UPDATES & REMINDERS
A few updates and reminders from our February Calendar:
Bring your loved one(s) for our gourmet Valentine’s Day multi-course dinner on Thursday, February 14th. Sue, our local piano legend will be playing love songs for the evening:
Valentine’s Day Menu
- Chicory and Herb Salad with Apples and Pomegranates, Creamy Miso Dressing; Sin Eater Hard Cider
- Sea Scallop with Green Charmoula, Preserved Lemon Farrotto; Anderson Valley Chardonnay
- Filet Mignon, Wild Mushroom Sauce, Pommes Anna; Yorkville Highlands Pinot Noir
- Chocolate Mousse, Infused Yorkville Olive Oil Drizzle, Candied Oranges; Meyer Family Port
- $55.00 per person, $75.00 with wine pairing
- Chicory and Herb Salad with Apples and Pomegranates, Creamy Miso Dressing; Sin Eater Hard Cider
- Squash and Carmelized Onion Tart; Anderson Valley Chardonnay
- Homemade Wild Mushroom Ravioli, Mushroom Broth, Watercress Garnish; Yorkville Highlands Pinot Noir
- Chocolate Mousse, Infused Yorkville Olive Oil Drizzle, Candied Oranges; Meyer Family Port
- $50.00 per person, $70 with wine pairing
Reservations Required, seating is limited and will be on a first come first served basis. Please call the Market at (707) 894-9456 or stop in and let us know.
CATCH OF THE DAY, February 6, 2019
BEAU BROWN, Redwood Valley. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, arson, vandalism, domestic battery, protective order violation, criminal threats.
EDUARDO CONTRERAS, Ukiah. DUI.
EMERY ELLINGWOOD, Ukiah. Battery, fighting/challenging in public, probation revocation. (Frequent Flyer)
THOMAS GALINDO, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
BEN GOMES, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
OLGA GOMEZ-SOTO, Ukiah. Battery burglary willful cruelty to child, domestic abuse.
ALYSIA GRIFFIN, Willits. Disobeying court order.
KENNETH LAWSON, Willits. Probation revocation.
MICHAEL MCDANIEL, Fort Bragg. Protective order violation.
FRANCISCO MORA, Ukiah. DUI.
HEIDI RAYBURN, Willits. Domestic battery.
ELMER VICHI, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.
SPENCER WEBB, Ukiah. Domestic abuse.
TAX ’EM BIG
There’s a lot of fuss being made these days over the disparity in net worth between the haves and the have-nots — the 1 percent versus the 99 percent. This is as it should be, even though it isn’t a new problem. It is the way of things that wealth feeds on wealth.
However, this doesn’t mean it’s a healthy situation. As the disparity grows, there are inevitable problems. In the past 10 years, the income of the richest few has doubled, while that of the rest has scarcely improved. It is now true that many of the wealthiest families may sit back and do nothing while watching their wealth expand.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren has proposed to tax wealth itself, something that is long overdue. I developed a website to acquaint the public to the reality of the situation. It’s devoted to illustrating the problem graphically, explaining its historical origins, naming countries that have such a tax and naming some of the evils brought about by the failure of government to manage the problem.
Capitalism is a great system, but it has one key flaw, and that is the lack of a provision to limit wealth as it grows beyond all reasonable bounds. To view the website, go to wealthtax.org.
HISTORICALLY, February 5th is the snowiest day of the year in San Francisco and the Bay Area. Of the 11 days when snow has been recorded near sea level in San Francisco, twice before on February 5th. In 1887 and again in 1976. (Jan Null)
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Totally agree about the Electoral College bushwah. The Dems are acting all surprised about it as if it hasn’t been in place for generations.
The plain facts are well, pretty plain. Hard as it was to find a worse candidate than Trump, the Democrats managed it. Hard as it was to fuck up an election campaign so massively, the Democrats managed that too.
President DJT was entirely avoidable. As you say to lefties, DJT is their fault. But having said that, it was also the fault of a Republican Party that’s been talking shit for decades, touting their corn dog eating of-the-people-for-the-people-ness while their actions are four-square against the people they pretend to be for.
So you want a coalition of Trump haters and Trump lovers? Not hard to find actually. The people that Bernie attracted with his platform and utterances had much the same economic agenda as Trump and his supporters.
And, if you’re looking for international legitimacy, you would find it with Brexiters and Yellow Jackets and various nationalist parties in Europe.
“Populism” is in bad odor with – cough – “progressives” and their allies in the lame-stream media (or presstitutes as PCR calls them) equating populism as they do with racism and fascism. But that’s just cheap libel and slander because this modern day populism bears no resemblance to what happened in the 1930s.
And what is this populism but the opposite of elitism? What are populists doing but speaking up for ordinary people? And what have elites and their coterie of – gag – experts inflicted? It’s impossible to miss, to anyone with functioning eyeballs, it’s right under their noses.
COMMUNITY FOUNDATION: One-Year Report to the Community
Fire Update February 1, 2019
by Megan Barber Allende, Chief Executive Officer, The Community Foundation of Mendocino County
It is with a sense of anticipation that we share with you our One-Year Report to the Community on the work of Mendocino-ROC, the long-term fire recovery team. We are proud of the accomplishments that have been made over the past year as our community came together to support our neighbors and friends. In October 2017, the Redwood Complex Fire devastated 36,523 acres in Redwood Valley and Potter Valley. Over 7,000 residents were evacuated for up to a week, and 406 households lost their homes. Since the fire, the Community Foundation of Mendocino County has chaired Mendocino-ROC in partnership with North Coast Opportunities (NCO) and the County of Mendocino. These efforts were possible thanks to the thousands of donors and countless hours of staff and volunteers to help fire survivors recover from this unprecedented disaster in our community. We hope you will take a few moments to read the One-Year Report to the Community on what we have accomplished so far.
Read about funds we have raised and distributed on pages 3-4 -
Understand our approach to relief, recovery and rebuilding on pages 5-7 -
Learn more about survivors and recovery partners on pages 8-12 -
Get to know our leadership and plans moving forward on pages 13-16
To learn more about the Community Foundation's Disaster Fund or to donate visit www.communityfound.org
To get involved with Mendocino-ROC's fire recovery and rebuilding efforts contact Rose Bell at email@example.com.
COULD THE CALIFORNIA PENSION SYSTEM BE UNDERWATER?
by Dan Walters
Rolling up big paper profits on stocks and other capital investments during 2017 and most of 2018 was very easy, and the California Public Employees Retirement System, the nation’s largest pension trust fund, took full advantage of the opportunity.
Its strong earnings, particularly in 2017, narrowed a yawning gap between its assets and future liabilities for pension payments to state and local government workers.
But it was short-lived and CalPERS has not only regressed but could actually be underwater because of a new way of calculating its liabilities.
A little history to begin:
CalPERS was, by its own calculations, 100 percent funded during the 1990s and into the first decade of the 21st century – so healthy, in fact, that state and local officials felt free to sharply increase pension benefits retroactively.
However, pension funds took immense hits during the Great Recession – CalPERS alone lost $100 billion – and most have not fully recovered.
In fact, between 2007 and 2016, before the 2017-18 stock market surge, CalPERS’ total liabilities increased by a startling 76 percent, from $248 billion to $436 billion, while its assets increased by just 19 percent, from $251 billion to $298 billion, sharply increasing the fund’s unfunded liabilities.
The earnings surge, plus big increases in mandatory “contributions” from state and local governments, did raise CalPERS’ official funded level slightly to 70 percent, but that was still a long way from 100 percent – and now it’s declining again.
Very quietly, CalPERS officials told its governing board last month that the trust fund actually lost 3.9 percent during 2018, apparently due to the sharp stock market decline late in the year, pushing its funded level back down to about 67 percent.
Having just two-thirds of the assets needed to cover pension promises should be a wakeup call to the state’s politicians, but under pressure from powerful public employees unions, most prefer to ignore it.
Jerry Brown sponsored a very modest pension reform early in his second governorship, with the goal of closing the funding gap a bit, but even that step drew opposition from unions whose lawsuits that are now pending before the state Supreme Court.
Furthermore, the official assumption that CalPERS is even two-thirds funded may be wildly optimistic.
With very little media notice, the Federal Reserve System late last year doubled its calculation of state and local governments’ unfunded pension liabilities to $4.1 trillion, using a new methodology that was devised by the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis.
The new method, called “projected benefit obligation,” aligns pension assets and liabilities with new governmental accounting standards and how the federal government values its own employee pension program.
Using that methodology, CalPERS’ current unfunded liabilities, officially $179 billion, could be more like $360 billion, completely overwhelming the fund’s current assets and making it, on paper at least, hopelessly insolvent.
David Crane*, a Stanford University lecturer and head of Govern for California, says that while serving on the California State Teachers Retirement System board as an appointee of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, he attempted to persuade CalSTRS to adopt the methodology now used by the BEA and the Federal Reserve to provide a more realistic picture. However, his suggestion merely fueled successful efforts by defenders of the pension status quo to scuttle his state Senate confirmation in 2006.
The Federal Reserve’s accounting change vindicates Crane, but also implies that California’s public pension crisis, as serious as it appears from official data, is likely much worse and therefore much more difficult to resolve.
PG&E TOPPLES WESTERN STATES PETROLEUM ASSOCIATION IN CALIFORNIA LOBBYING SPENDING IN 2018
by Dan Bacher
The Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) spent almost $10 million on lobbying California officials in 2018, surpassing even the Western States Petroleum Association in lobbying spending.
Of the total money spent last year, the company dumped $9,580,357 into general lobbying, including total payments to in-house staff lobbyists and lobbying firms, along with paying for meals and other items for legislators.
PG&E also spent $349,522 on lobbying the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the regulatory agency that regulates privately owned public utilities in the state, including electric power, telecommunications, natural gas and water companies.
The company spent the most money in the seventh quarter of the 2017-2018 session, dumping $6,111,332 into general lobbying and $168,668 into lobbying the CPUC. This is one of the largest amounts of money spent on lobbying by any organization in one quarter.
The utility filed its most recent lobbying expenses with the California Secretary of state on January 31, the final day for filing its disclosures.
Here is the total spent lobbying in 2018 by PG&E:
Of this total money, the company spent $6,369,631 in 2018 on “payments for grassroots and other advocacy” related to state legislative proposals improving wildlife preparedness and response, according to the filing.
During a court hearing on January 31, a PG&E lawyer said the company is facing 750 lawsuits, many of them over the Camp and other fires that devastated the state over the past couple of years.
The nation's largest utility, the Pacific Gas and Electric Company filed for reorganization in federal bankruptcy court under Chapter 11 on January 29— one day after the CPUC voted to extend a $6 billion credit line to the corporation that consumer advocates say made it easier for for PG&E to file bankruptcy.
Two days before the filing by PG&E, Consumer Watchdog called for the ouster of the California Public Utilities Commission over its decision to extend the credit line to Pacific Gas & Electric in what the group called “an unneeded emergency process that allowed no time for scrutiny.”
“The unprecedented vote makes it easier for PG&E to go into bankruptcy and avoid accountability to wildfire victims, ratepayers and taxpayers,” according to the group.
Consumer Watchdog President Jamie Court said financing was not approved in PG&E’s first bankruptcy in 2001 “and the lights stayed on.” The nonprofit group said the decision will saddle nearly half the state's ratepayers with steep rate hikes and/or long-term debt.
“The Public Utilities Commission just gave a convicted felon six-times over a $6 billion credit line backed by ratepayers going into bankruptcy without any strings or even a credit review,” said Court. “Governor Newsom should seek the resignation of President Picker and the members of the PUC who betrayed ratepayers and wildfire victims, as well as public officials seeking to stop PG&E from going into bankruptcy and sticking the public with billions in costs that should be shareholder obligations.”
The second-highest spender for the year was the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) — the organization that has topped lobbying spending in California most years.
WSPA spent $7,874, 807 to influence California government officials in 2018. The powerful association spent all of its money in the 2017-2018 session on general lobbying, with nothing spent on the CPUC. Of the four quarters, WSPA spent its most money lobbying, $2,649,018, in the eighth quarter, from October 1 to December 31, 2018.
The Western States Petroleum is led by President Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the former chair of the controversial Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called “marine protected areas” in Southern California.
The total lobbying figures for WSPA in 2018 are below: cal-access.sos.ca.gov/…
WSPA represents a who’s who of oil companies, including oil giants BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon, Shell, Valero and many others. The companies that WSPA represents account for the bulk of petroleum exploration, production, refining, transportation and marketing in Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, according to the WSPA website, www.wspa.org.
Chevron and its subsidiaries took third place in the “lobbying competition” in 2018, spending around $4 million on lobbying.
Over the past decade, WSPA and Big Oil have topped the list of spenders on lobbying the Legislature in California. During the 2015-2016 Legislative Session, the oil industry spent a historic $36.1 million to lobby lawmakers and officials in California.
WSPA was the top overall oil industry spender during the 2015-16 session, spending $18.7 million. Chevron, the second overall oil industry spender, spent $7 million in the 2015-16 session.
In 2017, Big Oil also dominated three out of the four top spots of expenditures by all lobbying organizations. Chevron placed first with $8.2 million and the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) placed second with $6.2 million. The Tesoro Refining and Marketing Company finished fourth with $3.2 million.
That’s a total of $17.6 million dumped into lobbying by the three top oil industry lobbying organizations alone. That figure exceeds the $14,577,314 expended by all 16 oil lobby organizations in 2016.
In the first six months of 2017, the oil industry spent more on lobbying in California, $16,360,618, than was spent by the industry in all of 2016, $16.0 million.
WSPA and Big Oil wield their power in 6 major ways: through (1) lobbying; (2) campaign spending; (3) serving on and putting shills on regulatory panels; (4) creating Astroturf groups: (5) working in collaboration with media; and (6) contributing to non profit organizations.
Because of this money and the power that Big Oil wields in California, the Jerry Brown administration, in stark contrast with its “green” facade, issued over 21,000 new oil and gas drilling permits in California. That include more than 200 permits for offshore wells in state waters -- wells within 3 miles of the California coast.
In addition, the state of California under Brown — and now under Gavin Newson - controls four times as many offshore oil wells in state waters as Trump’s federal government controls in California. You can view the map showing the location of wells here: http://brownvtrumpoilmap.org.
This money and power also allowed allowed the oil industry to write the cap-and-trade bill, AB 398, that Governor Brown signed in September 2017, as well as to twice defeat a bill to protect a South Coast marine protected area from offshore drilling.
Ironically, the same WSPA president that led the charge to defeat a bill to protect the Vandenberg State Marine Reserve from offshore oil drilling CHAIRED the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create “marine protected areas” on the South Coast.
SEASON 2 OF THE CALIFORNIA FOODWAYS PODCAST IS HERE!
Season 2 of the podcast has launched, with extended remixes of two recent stories (on sweet potatoes and invasive rodents in Merced County, and a Siskiyou County ranch that sells much more than beef). Coming up this season, you'll meet the "Vietnamese Madonna" who's also a sandwich maven, fly into an airport cafe, learn about the farming connection with Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War Two, meet the rural high school students who won the state's top culinary prize, and get answers to the question, "Why is there so much Chinese food on the US/Mexico border?"
There are 58 counties in California, and California Foodways will report from them all! If you use social media, follow the series on Twitter and Facebook. We have a new, beautiful website! Visit californiafoodways.com to explore all the stories in the series. Feel free to share this email with friends.
MENTALLY ILL OR VISIONARIES?
The Road to Utopia.
Can you believe that mental illness is a psychological allergy to social dysfunction? Would that disease fit the disease diagram? Can we back up a little bit? If a biological organism evolves into a self-aware conscious of being, how would the evolution of consciousness be integrated? Would the process be for that being to follow its conscience? Have you ever observed a psychotic symptom and wondered what caused it? Wouldn't correcting that cause inherently be making the changes necessary to transcend said dysfunction? Social transcendence? Collective enlightenment? Utopia? The end of suffering? Wouldn't the only true suffering be a retarded or stagnated spirit? Spiritual abuse? If you care for the mentally ill, do they become the visionaries? Is that not how we got this far?
How would you categorize the characteristics you have heard describing the seers, medicine men and witch doctors of times past?
Visions, voices and burning bushes? Is our society shunning, disregarding, imprisoning or torturing its natural guides? Could that be what is meant by "truth will lie dead in the streets"? Don't we all suffer mental illness at one time or another? Isn’t utopia inevitable? If we keep our eyes closed, won’t something somewhere leave theirs open? Would keeping one's eyes closed be the mechanism to ensure one's own death? Wouldn't the only requirement to continue on the Road to Utopia be to keep your eyes open and follow your heart? Will that truth set you free?
Write or visit me at the Mendocino County Sheriff's office at 951 Low Gap Road, Ukiah, CA 95482. To send financial support go to mycarepack.com Attn: Bret Bengston. Or friend or message me at: Bret Bankston@facebook/messenger.com
Mendocino County Jail
THE BOOK AND THE FEW WHO USE THEM FOR DOORSTOPS
Aside from a few who seem never to have come by the skill, for all we can make out, most of the rest of us form who we are from what we have read. You can see it in the eager young. Even from stoners, sometimes. From the backs of milk cartons at breakfast or the bumpers of sleek cars at stoplights. In addition to that large volume of life's slings and arrows.
Then there are the folks who claim to lead us. So far as the rest of us can make out, most seem never to have read anything except, maybe, stock market reports. Ever. Books, especially thick, ponderous volumes, are the perfect tool, for opening doors. They can usually be found somewhere at hand. So we end up lead by people not made like the rest us, more different from your average Sally or Joe than an Inuit spearing seals on an ice floe.
These suited and power-tied ghouls seem to be a bizarre and sexually overcharged (for the most part) bad joke. God may be laughing, but most of us are not. We must even more than we perhaps already have, weaken their hold.
Oddly, what lives inside of these books also opens doors, and these doors, these books, are how we get in. The folks in charge need to know that they will be held to account. They also need know that punishment will be exact, and that it will be terrible. With all that is known out of all those thick books, the future is likely to be as inventive as Dante. And the clock ever ticks.