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Off the Record (March 6, 2019)

LAST THURSDAY MORNING, Judge Moorman briskly clarified Tai Abreu's appeal to have his sentence reduced from life without parole, stating that it was now up to the DA to respond in a timely manner to Abreu's clear eligibility under new law to have his sentence reduced to time served, in his case 18 years in state prison. 

WARREN BUFFETT, the billionaire investor, says wealthy people such as himself are not paying enough taxes. It's not the first time Buffett has said the wealthy aren't paying their fair share, but when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called for higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans you'd have thought the Bolsheviks were storming the White House.

A FRIEND just back from Costa Rica says Ukiah's streets are in worse shape than CR's. Used to be enough public money to do some public good but, as Warren Buffett among other oligarchs points out, he and the rest of his class aren't taxed enough to even begin dangerously delayed infrastructure upgrades. The big hike in taxes on big money suggested by AOC wouldn't even kick in until $50 mil or so, and what's 70 percent of 50,000,000? Golly, leaves hardly enough for walking around cash, does it?

NEVER BURNED A BOOK before, but some books deserve to be torched. This one, for instance. Someone sent me a long anti-vaxx tome by a discredited crank called J.B. Handley. It's titled, "How to End the Autism Epidemic." Handley cites other discredited loons as his argument that immunization is dangerous to children and also causes autism. The book is endorsed by Robert Kennedy Jr., a neo-crank whose name is brandished by anti-vaxxers on the groupie-like principle that if a Kennedy says so, well hell, there's yer evidence. One more time: Vaccination has spared the world's people untold misery. The anti-vaxxers should, at a minimum, be quarantined. (No, I won't lend you the book unless the AVA Sense and Sensibility Screening Committee certifies you as not only fully literate but in full possession of a functioning bullshit detector.) 

THE “NEWS” THAT MENDO issued a moratorium on genetically modified cannabis and another on industrial hemp has hit the local newsfeeds like day old bread. It’s so ho-hum that even KZYX covered it — two weeks ago! 

THEN, last Tuesday, the Board did it again for reasons that are not entirely clear, except maybe to emphasize to staff that they need time to figure out how to deal with GMOs and industrial hemp. 

THE MORATORIUM on genetically modified pot was prompted by a proposal from a Canadian outfit calling itself “CordovaCann” that just set up shop in Covelo. CordovaCann says they have developed “CRISPR” gene-editing technology to tweak pot DNA. The alleged “benefits” of CRISPR, according to a website called “Growers Network,” are that “we can all look forward to a day when spider mites and aphids are no longer a concern.” Others speculate on the glorious prospect of odorless pot, a breakthrough of undoubted interest to junior stoners lighting up in their bedrooms. “CRISPR has incredible potential to change the course of many industries, including the cannabis industry.” It all seems highly speculative and far off, but that hasn’t stopped the worrywarts from trying to get ahead of it. 

THE SUBJECT AROSE because back in 2004 Mendo, always ahead of the remote dangers curve, voted to “ban” genetically modified organisms” in the County. The “ban” is unenforceable, of course, but that never stopped Mendo’s organic cheerleaders from pushing things that sound good in a proposed initiative. If you doubt my claim that the GMO ban is unenforceable, I suggest you look up the County Code section describing the enforcement process.

THE HEMP moratorium is unrelated to the GMO problem. Local pot growers are worried that hemp might cross-pollinate with their high-strength breeds and lower the quality of Mendo-grown. 

BUT THE ENTIRE DISCUSSION is yet another distraction from the County’s failed  pot program. The moratoria give the Board an opportunity to look like they’re “protecting” the local pot growers by keeping their plants safe from the negative effects of hemp or GMO strains. 

THE BIGGEST THREAT to the local cannabis industry, however and aside from home invaders, is the County’s own overly-complicated permitting process. There are now two ad hocs working on yet more complications and/or “improvements” to the local rules. One of them is working on “cannabis economic development” and another on cultivation. But, as Supervisor Ted Williams noted last Tuesday, there’s a lot of overlap between the two and the idea of separating the two subjects just adds yet another complication to an already overcomplicated process (which also happens to create a million-dollar, or more, deficit in the County budget, a growing money pit which has yet to be fully calculated). 

MAYBE on March 26 when the Board is supposed to get their next budget update it will occur to someone that what they need is a rule simplification, not vague moratoria, or more cultivation rules, or more silly economic development ideas from a County officialdom that’s been the opposite of cannabis economic development so far. (Mark Scaramella)

I'M SURE I'm not the only person who wonders at all the vehicles swamped in the lower Russian River area, from Guerneville to the sea. Every media was warning that the Russian would seriously flood, but there they were, several hundred cars and trucks left to ruin.

BEATS ME how even the most fanatic of the gun nuts could oppose federal background checks on all gun sales, not that the gun horse hadn’t long ago fled the ammo barn. But federal scrutiny, cursory as it's likely to be, might preempt a few mass killers.

THE PROFESSIONALIZATION of sports all the way down to the Little League level is simply more evidence that we've lost our way. Boonville High School funds an athletic director, as do most of the tiny school districts of the Northcoast outback. The AD's task? Scheduling ball games and refs. Schools don’t have more pressing fiscal priorities? And it's common to see a half-dozen nuts with headphones on the coaching sidelines at high school football games. And a reliable minority of parents ought to be banned from the ballpark for yelling at refs and carrying on like idiots resulting in whatever it was that happened the other night when Hoopa traveled to Arbuckle to play a basketball game. (Post season play has become seemingly endless.) Hoopa got big time home-towned, with the refs calling 12 fouls on Hoopa in the last quarter of a close game, giving the game to Pierce. There was pushing and shoving post-game and the cretinous principal of Pierce challenged a Hoopa player to a fight while an 83-year-old man from Ukiah got knocked down in the melee and had to be hauled off to the emergency room to be checked out. (He was uninjured.) This kind of thing happens all the time, and is inevitable when adults take over kid sports.

SO, I'm making the rounds, delivering my newspaper to its Anderson Valley venues on another Wednesday morning. I exchange pleasantries with friends and acquaintances as I go until I reach the Navarro Store, my last stop. A disheveled figure resembling an upturned laundry basket shuffles towards my trusty vehicle, the Silver Bullet, a '97 Honda just turned 289,000 miles with only one blown water pump in all the years. I'm hoping to calibrate my exit with the Silver Bullet's, and we both seem on track. It occurs to me I might like to be buried in my beloved transportation but the logistics of the interment might vex my heirs and assignees. Anyway, so this guy — stringy hair falling down in front of his engrimed, bearded face, installs himself at my car window and says, "Well, well. It's Mr. Excitement. Still putting out that rag?" He isn't smiling. He lingers. And lingers while I count out twenty-five papers for the store. My dander is up. "Still a registered sex offender, droopy drawers? Move along, please. I'm working." I totally pegged him for a hostile, hence the return fire. He moves back a step as I swing open my door. "I just wanted to say hello, Bruce. Jesus, you don't have to be such a prick about everything." And then I recognized him, a guy I hadn't seen in years. He really hadn't intended to insult me. "Sorry," I say. "Good to see you, Droop. Really."

IN COURTROOM B last Thursday morning for the latest round of Tai Abreu hearings, a number of cases were heard by Judge Clayton Brennan prior to Judge Ann Moorman's appearance to preside over the Abreu matter. Brennan ordinarily presides at Ten Mile Court, Fort Bragg. Two prisoners were led into the room, the first one a catatonic Mexican kid, the second an angry fellow who looked vaguely familiar. The catatonic kid was so extremely catatonic he could have been the Hispanic incarnation of the Buddha, smiling his way through his appearance although he clearly had zero idea of what was happening. The second defendant was angry and became angrier. He was alert and closely accompanied by a pair of tense bailiffs poised to jump him if he went off. Both defendants had been brought up from Napa State Hospital. The justice system grinds on, whether or not the grindee has any idea of what's happening to him, as was the case with the Mexican kid. 

THE ANGRY MAN was Dean Stevens, an occasional writer of letters-to-the-editor to this paper. He didn't look nuts, and maybe he isn't, but to get himself a ticket to Napa isn't easy. The state mental hospital system has been in triage mode for years now. At any one time, there are at least a half-dozen or so people confined to the Mendo County Jail waiting for a Napa vacancy.

DURING HIS HEARING, Stevens frequently offered his own opinions on his case as his portly public defender looked on helplessly. Just as the bailiffs moved into place to suppress him if he didn't shut up, he shut up. And would soon speak again, and the bailiffs would again close in on him, Judge Brennan said that Stevens would continue his allegedly therapeutic stay at the state hospital. Stevens said he hoped to survive, and was marched out of the courtroom, insulting his public defender as he passed him and attempting to shrug off the bailiff's hand steering him. He's charged with parole violation, false ID, evasion. We have a more extensive account of Stevens’ difficulties on-line but our preliminary analysis of him off his court appearance last week we’d say he isn’t nearly as nuts as several out of custody people we encountered out in the halls. 

REGARDING SOCO SEWAGE SPILLS, an on-line comment: "Yes, but just keep building those subdivisions Santa Rosa, because you cleverly pretend you have a super sewer system that can handle all the sewage under any conditions. Until it inevitability fails. Inflow from flood waters and runoff from impermeable surfaces is a known problem with huge sewer systems that by the way are completely outdated and old school technology. This is not the first time Santa Rosa has used the Russian River for their illegal dumping. Growth is the God of the folks who run the government. But growth never pays for itself and they'll all retire to states without so many rules. We are not responsible for building homes for everyone who want to live here particularly when the result is the ruination of our environment."

THE BATTERED RUSSIAN RIVER, at least the Guerneville-Monte Rio lower stretch, has been used as a leach field for Santa Rosa for years, hence that weird summer-time greenish hue that makes the water look more anti-freeze than the pristine blue of yesteryear. Factor in all the flooded septic systems and…

A READER ASKS a question no one wants to answer: "When you have a sec please read this carefully! Who is at fault for the loss? How many $$$ have the ratepayers of Millview paid the Attorney? Will they pay him to take it to Supreme Court of California? As you can see it does take time! I would hope Millview's attorney has E&O? Do you think the ratepayers of Millview County Water Dist have any idea how much they have paid?

MARK SCARAMELLA NOTES: We assume the reader is referring to a recent appellate court ruling that the Millview Water District’s lawsuit against the State Water Board and the Sonoma County Water Agency which had won in local Mendo Courts was recently reversed on what appears to be a technicality. 

ACCORDING to an on-line “Justia Opinion Summary”: In 2006, Millview acquired License 5763, which authorized the diversion of water from the Russian River for industrial use. In 2008, the Water Resources Control Board issued a notice of proposed revocation. At a 2013 hearing, Millview appeared through counsel, presented evidence, examined witnesses, and filed a brief. The Board issued a draft order revoking License 5763. After receiving written comments on the draft order, including Millview’s comments, the Board conducted a May 20, 2014, public meeting at which Millview gave an oral statement. The Board found the water at issue had not been put to beneficial use for a period of five years and formally adopted the draft order. Days later, Mona, a Board employee, e-mailed the order to participants, including Millview. The cover letter stated the statute of limitations for seeking reconsideration began to run from May 20. On June 2, Mona e-mailed a “Corrected Version” to the participants, including Millview, to reflect that the Chair was absent during the adoption of the order. The cover letter stated: “No later than 30 days after adoption of the corrected order, any interested person may petition ... for reconsideration.” On June 30, Millview filed a petition for writ of administrative mandamus, challenging the adequacy of the public hearing and the corrected order. The court of appeal concluded that the petition was time-barred under Water Code section 1126(b), rejecting an argument that the June 2 decision was the ‘final’ decision.


IF WE READ IT CORRECTLY, the appellate court ruled that Millview was tardy in filing an objection to the loss of their “industrial” water right at the old Masonite site. So the complaint appears to be that the Millview Water District paid a lot of money to an attorney who ended up losing the case and the water right — so far, anyway. How this will affect the Masonite property (now owned by Ross Liberty and some investors) remains to be seen. If the Masonite property has really lost its valuable old Masonite water right (via Millview) then the “industrial” designation of the site is seriously jeopardized. 

“ONE OF THE BIGGEST ADVANTAGES of living in Ukiah is that none of us ever have to stand in line to get into an Asian Massage Parlor. You may think this is because no one ever goes to an Asian Massage parlor but that just means both of us are right; Read on. There are now six such establishments within the city perimeters, each as empty as all the others, and a lack of customers has not prevented major growth in the saturated market. There is a cluster of three such businesses within spitting distance of the courthouse, more down State Street and now a new one on Orchard Avenue.

My guess is that there are more of these parlors than there are yoga centers, therapy outlets and pilates studios all put together. That’s good. If mere mystery was all that these odd little shops provoked I’d be content to be mystified. Because whenever we think about massage joints in Ukiah, or talk about them with friends and neighbors, there’s always this pause, a sigh, some head-scratching and some wincing. Six Asian Massage Parlors? No one knows. No one asks.” (Tommy Wayne Kramer, Ukiah Daily Journal)

GEORGE DORNER WRITES re Ukiah’s six Asian massage parlors: “Well, I actually entered the massage parlor just behind the courthouse. I was passing by, saw that it offered foot reflexology, and decided to inquire about their services. You see, I have a chronic foot injury. I know that reflexology works through massaging the feet to soothe pain in the body. I wondered whether they could help my foot. I was met inside the door by a middle-aged Asian male who asked in a thick accent, “You have appointment?” “Well, no, but I wondered…” “No appointment, you go.” And he ushered me out the door. Indeed, how do Ukiah’s massage parlors survive, with that kind of attitude?”  

FROM NPR'S WEBSITE: "Steve Inskeep is known for probing questions to everyone from presidents to warlords to musicians, Inskeep has a passion for stories of the less famous—like an American soldier who lost both feet in Afghanistan, or an Ethiopian woman's extraordinary journey to the United States."

I USUALLY LISTEN to mawk-heavy Morning Edition while I'm out walking in the morning because KZYX is the only fm station I can pick up, the rest of the dial being heavy on AM love yawps. Anyway and ahem, as a paid-up member of the cult-like, pseudo-public, government-sponsored radio station, I would like to say that Inskeep is the second most irritating NPR "reporter" among NPR's array of chuckling irritants inflicted on us dues payers. (Scott Simon, NPR's arch nuzzlebum, is the consistently most annoying.) NPR is, after all, dependent on federal funding, and although they take their timid little swipes at Orange Man what we get in the way of information is a mainstream Democrat world perspective so timid Joe Biden and Hillary would wholeheartedly approve. 

MONDAY MORNING, Inskeep, who often re-phrases what guests have just said, distorting their remarks as he goes, functioned as cheerleader for a dissident member of the Brit Labor Party who denounced her former colleagues as "anti-Semites" and "Stalinists," characterizing Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn and people close to him as the "hard left." The great speaker-of-truth-to-power, Inskeep, didn't challenge any of this grotesque slander, and NPR can be counted on not to give Corbyn equal time. The way it works among Zionist fanatics is any criticism of the apartheid, crypto-fascist state of Israel is denounced as anti-Semitic, and anybody who self-identifies as a socialist, is "hard left" or a “Stalinist.” And so it goes with fake news, lib-lab division.

AND DARNED if Inskeep this morning (Tuesday) didn't repeat a truncated version of Monday's slanders, bringing on Tony Blair, arguably the most despised man in England for his role as W. Bush's poodle in the Middle East disaster, to second the motion! I know a lot of Mendo people listen to NPR in the morning — far more listen than pay for the privilege — but unless they also tune in Jeff Blankfort's antidote every couple of weeks on KZYX, listeners are getting a lot more untruth about Middle East politics than they are going to get honest reporting.


[1] Glenn Close’s gown at the Oscars weighed forty pounds.

For comparison’s sake, an NHL goalie wears thirty-five pounds of equipment.

[2] Watching the hearings today, I was struck by the fact that there was really nothing about Trump’s personality or behavior that I didn’t already know or suspect. The crazy thing is that he really has never bothered to try & hide who he is, either by word or deed, and still enjoys the level of support that he gets. The reason in most cases seems to be that people will overlook certain of his behaviors because they support some of his goals. Like the religious right, who don’t care about him fucking other women, as long as he ends abortions, or others who don’t care how much he lies & steals as long as he builds the wall. In that respect, the level of support he gets is unprecedented. He behaves in ways that would have sunk anybody else long ago. It’s truly a new era in politics, and a disturbing one. I suppose someday in a campaign, someone will be discovered to be a child molester, and a segment of the public will say: “Maybe, but he’s OUR child molester.” It will never come to that, but you get my drift. For people to be as against corruption and rule by the oligarchs as most of the country is, it’s amazing that they will excuse the behaviors of these people.

[3] I am surprised that anyone might think that any of the political bullshit makes any difference. This is a ship of fools. Ship as in the entire damn country. The three branches of government are ineffective at getting anything important accomplished. So what is important you say. Lots of stuff. Take the 22 trillion debt. Peak oil. Nuclear waste that could become a Fukushima. Fukushima itself poisoning the Pacific. Cybercrime and cyber warfare. Super bacteria. Medical industry run amuck. Out of control law enforcement. Environmental collapse (bees, bats, pollinators). Fresh water scarcity and water pollution. The list is long and scary but when have you heard any of these addressed rationally? We are irrational. Hurricanes destroy billions in property but we rebuild in the same location. What rule of law? Fuhgeddaboudit. Generations beyond boomers will hate the memory of those who raped the environment, the economy, raw materials, oil to drive a block for a loaf of bread. Our graves will be spit on. Why not? We are sickeningly smug. We believe in our own bullshit.

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