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Off the Record

JOHN ROSS has died in Mexico, a sad fact chronicled at length in this week's paper by John's long-time friend, Frank Bardacke. As Frank mentions, John was perennially hostile to editors, including me, although rather than argue with him — always a lose-lose proposition — I took the easy way out and did whatever he asked, which was easy to do because he never asked for much to begin with. The one big hassle I got into with him I was actually trying to protect him from another argument he couldn't possibly win. He thundered at me on the phone and thundered at me in e-mails, but the storm soon passed and it was as if it had never rained. We ran his work for years because, as Frank also says, John was the best reporter on Mexico writing in English that there was. I especially liked his offbeat stories like the one he did on the Chinese of Mexicali. I met John in 1967 when he was the main man in the Progressive Labor Party. He used to do street corner organizing in the Mission, standing out there on Saturday mornings shouting out bilingual denunciations of capitalism to indifferent passersby. He was often in the news in the late 1960s, usually on the receiving end of old fashioned police brutality. The San Francisco Tac Squad was once memorably described to me by a retired cop as "a bunch of fat guys who drove around the city looking for fights." But I remember them as big, lean, sadistic bastards with fungo bats who'd chase us all over Nob Hill and throughout the Union Square area, and woe unto you if you weren't quick on your feet.  Fat guys don't do chases, and those demos were more like the running of the bulls than they were the entirely mythical street fighting man the Stones sang about. The Tac Squad would always go right for John at demonstrations, and John was never, ever a guy who backed off. At the founding convention of the Peace and Freedom Party at the Richmond Auditorium he got into some kind of dispute with the Black Panthers who settled all dissonance with immediate violence. John, for a time, seemed to be a kind of human punching bag for all kinds of people, and it was probably those beatings, serious beatings, that caused John so many physical problems as he grew older. You'd have to go back to the old Wobblies to find an American radical as tough and as relentless as John Ross was. As Frank says, there was no one like him.

NO, I WASN'T moved by the refried rhetoric Obama served up in Tucson. He again comforted the comfortable, I suppose, the kinds of securely middleclass people who voted for him, but Obama and the Democrats, like the Republicans, if anything, are lone nut expediters as they squeeze mental health services out of existence everywhere in the land and steadily tighten the economic noose around the necks of the unsecure, which is at least half our population. Americans are balkanized unto the tenth generation. Talking nice to each other won't make any difference. The country is already a gun and drug saturated open-air asylum, an alienation factory. You couldn't design a system better for creating mental illness on a mass scale. Even if the audio-fascisti ceased broadcasting tomorrow, the conditions of estrangement would remain the same. In the mean time, we should probably all go… See what I mean? You finished that sentence with an obscenity, which means you're totally unsuitable for our reconciliation program. No huggsies for you, pal.

WHEN OUR NAPOLEON arises, he'll be some media-pleasant general, folksy like Reagan, although I have to say the alleged Reagan "charm" always mystified me. What charm? He looked like some kind of Gila monster sunning on a big rock, and his phony bonhomie was so transparently bogus, well, nobody ever went broke etc. Anyway, The General we'll get will of course be a registered Democrat. He'll go on national television and say exactly what Napoleon said when he took over France to save the French from themselves: "I have but one goal: to reunite all, reconcile all, have all hatreds forgotten, bring everyone together, gather together so many divergent elements and compose them anew in one whole: one France and one Patrie." The liberals will go, "Woo-woo-woo yippie ohm gaia!" And the conservatives will go, "Oom choppa-chop! We got it all now! The Man on the White Horse is in the house!" The whole country will be like San Francisco when the Giants won the World Series. Until the next day when the round-ups and the executions begin. But for a while we'll get total consensus, maybe even uniforms!

AS COSTCO comes closer to Ukiah on land newly purchased by the City of Ukiah, you can begin to say goodbye to at least a half-dozen existing food markets, union and non-union, and what we'll have is a big box store brought to us by Inland Lib sure to destroy more jobs than CostCo creates. The diff between the Lib's CostCo and the Mall Brain's proposal to develop the old Masonite site north of town is that the Mall Brain's project would have created an estimated 800,000 square feet of mostly retail space, clearly a death blow to many existing Ukiah businesses. But municipalities run on sales taxes and the more big and little boxes the better for local government, goes the reasoning.

A FORT BRAGG READER WRITES: "Enclosed is a check for $100. Anyone who can help in bringing Kendall Smith to her knees, we support." So, it's off to DA Eyster we go after losing in Small Claims. More important than the dollar amounts that supervisors Smith and Colfax ripped off, which is estimated by two grand juries at as much as $20,000 each, the thefts, we suspect, are ongoing because travel reimbursements probably count towards retirement credits. Although Colfax is out of office he's still stealing. Smith will be out of office in a year when her retirement thefts will also commence.

DA EYSTER has what appears to be a slam-dunk case against these two crooks because two grand juries have done all the investigative work for him. All he's got to do is issue warrants for Smith and Colfax at which point the two nickelnosers will pay up because it'll be cheaper to pay up than pay lawyers to defend them.

OR EYSTER will pull some weasel-lipped lawyer excuse not to pursue them, although public opinion overwhelmingly wants something done. Stay tuned.

THE UKIAH AREA’s full time whip for entrenched Democrats, Joe Louis Wildman, informed readers of the MCN listserve that he thought the following people will run for Supervisor in the 2012 election. “Folks are now talking about Barbara Rice, Dan Gjerde, Ann Molgaard, Marvin Trotter, Estelle Clifton, as possibly running in 2012,” said Wildman. Rice immediately said she is not and never will be a candidate, leaving the door open for Gjerde to become Fourth District Supervisor. The Fourth, is mostly Fort Bragg, and has been unrepresented since Liz Henry two decades ago, and you can thank Coastlib for foisting Patti Campbell, then Kendall Smith, off on us and then twice re-electing them. Mendolib generally seems pleased with Smith and Colfax, more evidence that marijuana smoke really does cause brain damage. Gjerde has been the most productive local pol we've had in Mendocino County, and it's past time for him to move up from the Fort Bragg City Council. The capable Ann Molgaard has been around Ukiah politics for years, Dr. Trotter is, ah, a person we're extremely skeptical of, and Estelle Clifton, who we supported against McCowen, is another person whose abilities we admire. We should also say that we think John McCowen has turned out to be a much better supervisor than we expected him to be. If these three people do take on McCowen, the Second District race could be a doozy.

CARRE BROWN will also be up for election in 2012 too. It's possible that, depending on where they live that Trotter could be eyeing her seat, and we'll say right now that Brown has been a very good supervisor and it would be a mistake to replace her with another crackpot of the Smith-Colfax type.

ANN MOLGAARD, by the way, recently through a going away party for the 5th District's Colfax, an event that could only be held in Ukiah because no one in the 5th would even consider sponsoring such an event. It was, of course, by invitation only.

VIC GONELLA WRITES: "The Golden Gate Salmon Association was recently formed by a coalition of commercial, recreational and environmental salmon leaders. Its purpose is to provide financial and manpower resources to assist in the recovery of the Central Valley salmon through legal, public relations, lobbying and science activities. We're a member-based, regional nonprofit whose principal objective is the revival, protection and enhancement of the Central Valley salmon and their habitat and the furtherance of our sustainable recreational and commercial fishing culture through working with elected officials, regulatory agencies and other legal, educational and outreach organizations. 'The salmon collapse of Northern California is a travesty. In spite of hundreds of individuals and dozens of organizations working on recovery, the runs continue to decline towards extinction. GGSA will bring new funding and new resources to attack this problem. We encourage everyone who cares about salmon to join us and volunteer for one of our committees. The committees are: Administration and Finance, Government Affairs, Membership and Public Relations, Fundraising, and Science. Dues are $25.' GGSA starts with a powerful and committed Board of Directors with diverse skills and backgrounds. Those designated so far include Dan Bacher of the Fish Sniffer, Jim Caito of Caito Fisheries, Ron Davis of Davis Appraisals, Ken Elie of Outdoor Pro Shop, Victor Gonella of Autoworld, Zeke Grader of PCFFA, Jonah Li of Hi’s Tackle Box, John McManus of Earth Justice, Barry Nelson of NRDC, Galen Onizuka of Johnson Hicks Marine, Dick Pool of Pro-Troll Fishing Products, Rick Powers of Bodega Bay Sportfishing, Roger Thomas of Golden Gate Fishermen’s Association, and David Zeff of David Zeff Attorneys. Contacts: Victor Gonella (707) 762-2712, Dick Pool (925) 963-6350, Zeke Grader (415) 606-5140, Roger Thomas (415) 760-9362.”

ODDEST STORY in some time appeared on the front page of the Ukiah Daily Journal's edition of Saturday, January 15th. Written by Tiffany Revelle, a very good reporter by the way, the best at the paper in a very long time, it was called "Deputy falsely said to have shot girlfriend. Sheriff's Office trying to determine who started the rumor; prosecution possible." Oh, sure. The Sheriff's Department has the time and the resources to track down gossip? Anyway, the rumor was that Deputy Orell Massey had shot and killed his girl friend last week in Lake County. Orell Massey's girl friend owns and operates the Be Bop Restaurant in Ukiah. She is alive and well, as is the deputy. The rumor is someone's wishful thinking, or some neo-cracker's anger that a black man and a white woman are life partners. Massey is Mendocino County's only black police officer. The kind of people who don't think they should be arrested ever, no matter what they do, complain about Massey, typically referring to him as "the black guy." Mexicans say Massey doesn't like Mexicans. Tweakers insist Massey singles them out for special attention. Drunks claim he arrests them for drunk driving when they weren't drunk. And so on. The funniest rumor I've heard about Massey is that he once jerked a guy out of his livingroom window rather than arrest him at his front door for outstanding warrants. That one, entertaining as it was, was also unsubstantiated. People complain about cops all the time, and why the Sheriff's Office would take this particular rumor so seriously is peculiar, apart from the flurry of calls from hysterics wanting to know if it was true, calls that got in the way of business.

CHRIS WESTON is collecting signatures with a view to converting the abandoned railroad track running between Willits and Eureka to a "non-motorized trail," i.e., rails to trails, which we've been advocating for years. Weston has already garnered more than 4,000 signers who hope he will be successful, but guess who immediately claimed rails to trails was impossible? The Democratic Party hacks who staff the North Coast Railroad Authority, people like Mitch Stogner and Hal Wagenet. The Democrats claim rail freight will again clamor up the track through the Eel River Canyon, a claim anybody who's hiked that area over the past twenty years knows is pure fantasy; the tunnels are caving in, lengths of track are covered in landslides, other sections of track have disappeared into the Eel. It would take many millions of dollars to restore this stretch of the old Northwestern Pacific, and that money is not going to be available any time soon, if ever. Rails to trails, however, is doable and, as Weston also points out, if hikers and cyclists enjoyed a trail through some of the most beautiful landscape in the state, that entire area would benefit economically.

MANBEATER of the Week: Michelle Lifvendahl, 32, of Fort Bragg. Corporal injury to a spouse. 5’6, 140 lbs. Bail: $25,000. According to Ms. Lifvendahl's My Space page her name is “Gimmieluvies,” and her interests are “Dean Koontz, anything with murders, drama and suspense and the FB Advocate so I can read the police report to see what my friends are up to!”  Now you can read the police report to see what you're up to, Michelle, not that we don't entirely approve of your bopping ol' whatshisface one.

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