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Off the Record (March 13, 2019)

MICHAEL COLVIG is the principal at Willits High School, one of a bunch of Colvigs clustered at the Gateway to the Redwood Empire. Michael Colvig's father sits on the Willits School Board, a school board like any other, meaning fully capable, and sometimes blithely willing, to commit their own crimes and misdemeanors. So when little Colvig, Colvig the Third we might call him, sexually assaulted a classmate at an off-campus party, the senior Colvigs, pillars of the Willits educational effort, had themselves a dilemma. Should little Colvig's crude and apparently drunken attempt on his classmate be reported to the Willits Police as the law requires? Colvig the principal decided to handle the matter in-house, his own house, not report it as he's supposed to. 

AND HERE HE IS, Michael Colvig, the first school official in Mendocino County's history booked into the County Jail for failure to protect a student. Judging from his mug shot he doesn't look especially anguished, but then a lot of these school people look kinda unevolved, kinda…

DA EYSTER is also faced with something of a political hot potato. Will Colvig be prosecuted while Eyster's campaign treasurer and presumed pal, Chris Neary, who also happens to sit on the Willits School Board and just might be exerting undo influence? Doubt it. We’ve never heard of Eyster ducking the tough ones. The way we tardily got it is that it was Eyster himself who initiated a full-on investigation of the principal’s failure to do his legal duty when word reached Ukiah that Willits officialdom was sweeping it under the town’s all-embracing rug. Although I rather sympathize with the Colvigs in their desire to protect Colvig The Third, I'm pretty sure that I, back in my parental days, would have tossed my kids to the legal wolves if they'd been guilty of a crime this bad, a sexual assault. And child-abused them, too. Colvig The Third’s victim, I'm sure, has figured out that she'll get a big pay day from Willits Unified, and she should, and School Board Colvig, and Lawyer Neary and their colleagues should fire Michael Colvig from his principal's job, but they won't. The big pay day for the vic is a certainty, but after the DA’s prosecution everything will, I’ll bet, just kinda go away. Why? It's Mendo, Jake.

MENDOCINO TV FAULTS NEW COAST HOSPITAL BOARD for not living up to campaign promises and acting like the old much-criticized board — “Grasping for a lifesaver before finding out why the boat is sinking.”: “…it appears major decisions are happening behind closed sessions, with minimal reporting out, ignoring transparency and community input…”

A READER COMMENTS: The local Chinese foot/body massage business Foot Logic is my go-to for back pain management. (two Ukiah locations: School Street and Orchard Avenue, also a location in Healdsburg & Napa) I was skeptical at first, but went out of necessity because I haven’t found anyone else locally that can fit me in same-day, which is helpful when experiencing pain. The therapists are excellent- I’ve only witnessed professional behavior and effective techniques, however it is a strong massage- not everyone prefers it. Their prices are very reasonable for body work. The School Street location gets busy- you often need a reservation for peak evening/weekend hours. I can’t speak to the other four businesses mentioned, but certainly hope I’m not contributing to trafficking and prostitution by patronizing what appears to be a legit business. The online comment of the day and a few other things I have read alludes this is a foregone conclusion. Is there a definitive way to know? (A Ukiah Police Department spokesman told us last week that they are not aware of any illegality associated with these businesses.)

EAST BAY FRED WRITES: “There's a large, government-surplus building near "Crab Cove," a unique stretch of beach in Alameda adjoined by a small, kid-oriented museum that displays the plant and animal species seen along the shore. The self-styled progressives who run the city are pushing a special election in April (at a cost of c. $700,000) that will enable the purveyors of "Homeless Services" to operate a regional facility at this site. Their catchment area will be all of Alameda County. Most of the homeless are in Oakland; the only reason the services will be provided on this island is the free real estate. Kaiser and Sutter are heavily invested in the initiative to make the building a "Homeless Services" center because they'll be able to redirect people from their hospitals to the helping pros in Alameda. The AVA has run some great riffs debunking the practical value of "Homeless Services" in Fort Bragg (and maybe SF). If you can find same without too much trouble, please forward.” (Our commentary amounts to variations on the theme that existing homeless programs mostly fund the people running them.)

AT A RECENT MEETING, informal type, of ambulance people who were reviewing the complex Request for Proposals for an Exclusive Operating Area for ambulance services along the 101 corridor, a representative from Ukiah pointed out that the main reason there’s no longer an ambulance serving Willits and there are (perhaps) two companies serving the Ukiah area is that the main “demand” for ambulance services in Ukiah is traffic and traffic related accidents in the Ukiah area but very little demand in Willits because the traffic on and around the new Bypass is so light that there’s very little call for emergency services. (Mark Scaramella)

THE AMUSING CABLE TV SHOW, “Shark Tank” has featured a Canadian shark named Robert Herjavec who pointed out that the small businesses he invests in in Canada and the United Kingdom have healthcare costs for employees that are less than one-fourth of what healthcare costs in the US. Herjavec said that healthcare costs for employees in the US is one of the primary obstacles to economic growth in the US. What he did not say — but implied — was that Canada and the UK have versions of single-payer or government run healthcare which not only saves those countries huge amounts of money but also gives those countries an enormous competitive edge in the global economy and is one of the main factors driving jobs out of the United States. So why don’t American businesspeople and the US Chamber of Commerce advocate for some form of single payer health insurance? Are they unpatriotic? Do they not care about their bottom lines and the cost of American employment? (Mark Scaramella)

READING Mr. Dempel’s lament about the loss of prime ag land reminded me of why my uncle, the late great Fifth District Supervisor Joe Scaramella, was opposed to the Round Valley dam and actively assisted Richard Wilson’s efforts to derail the ill-considered project. Joe Scaramella was not opposed to water projects — in fact he was the only sitting Mendo supervisor to support the County paying for a much bigger share of the Coyote dam project so that Mendo would retain a much larger share of the rights to that water. But Scaramella was the only sitting supervisor who realized that flooding Round Valley and turning it into a huge lake would not only take miles of prime ag land out of production but would also take miles of taxable prime ag land out of the County’s tax base. (Never mind that “County activities” have since turned into an unaccountable self-serving bureaucracy, but in the 60s government ran much more efficiently and actually delivered tangible services for the revenue that property taxes brought in.) (Mark Scaramella)

WHY IS JESSICA MCCALL suing Mendocino County? The following item appeared on the Supes agenda for Tuesday: “Pursuant to Government Code Section 54956.9(a) - Conference with Legal Counsel - Existing Litigation - Jessica McCall v. Mendocino County, District Attorney’s Office et al. Case No. SCUK-CVG-18-70457.” The plaintiff is black, the DA’s office white, and there undoubtedly lies the basis for Ms. McCall’s beef. Prediction: the County Counsel’s office will recommend either the expensive hire of an outside attorney to beat back the claim or simply pay Ms. McCall to go away. What all the County-paid lawyers do all day remains a mystery, but clearly they’d rather switch than fight. Say what you will about Doug The Midnight Rambler Losak, when he was County Counsel he resisted bullshit claims.

BART was closed Saturday, all stations, the whole works, thousands of people stranded. Seems there was a computer glitch, as all systems have become so complicated the slightest quiver in their grand cyber-networks wreak havoc. There's probably only one or two gizmo-geniuses who understand BART's system, and if they can even be found on a weekend they will have to be brought in at quadruple overtime rates to puzzle it all out and get BART's grimy, lout-infested cars rolling again. Used to be that the East Bay was linked to Frisco by the Key System whose feeder routes ran to all the heavily populated neighborhoods of Oakland, Richmond, Berkeley and, I believe, east to Hayward. The Key ran across the Bay Bridge. It was electrically powered. The greenest mechanic could quickly repair anything that went wrong and never out of service. Where all this contemporary techno-dependence is sending us is to China, whose government makes the trains run on time and then some, with a citizenship rating being imposed on a couple of provinces where high tech systems spy on and rate every person on everything from his personal deportment to his work habits. Back to the future anyone? 

THE MANAFORT SENTENCING has done major good in dramatizing the hugely disproportionate sentences of our courts, at every level. Everyone pretends to want to make justice fair, but gol durned if just keeps on not happening. Justice might look a little bit more fair in this country if every lawyer all the way up to Supreme Court justices, as a requirement of their credentialing, had to spend a month in the nearest county jail. And the entire regimen of court fines and fees? How about bringing some proportion to them, too? A person (like a judge, for instance) pulling down a coupla hundred grand a year ought to be fined at the same extortionate rate a person making $40 g's is now fined.

QUICK ANECDOTE: My first trip into the local county jail was back in '87. The jail was so over-crowded that I and twenty or so other guys slept on the floor for three days. The showers ran all day and night, a fine dusting of damaged sheetrock fell from the ceilings, helpful passersby driving up and down nearby Low Gap road threw tennis balls filled with dope over the fence. (The ensuing scramble was always a hoot.) That jail is gone and now its replacement is falling apart. If judges were aware of conditions, they ignored them, and I doubt they pay much attention now. 

OUR COUNTY JAIL, however, is reputably run. Nobody is arbitrarily pushed around by staff, the food's good (especially, lately, the bread), the dangerous bad boys of the predator, career felon type are separated out from the miscellaneous incompetents who comprise the bulk of any prison population, and the vulnerable are also housed separately. But as times grow harsher by the day, jails could go quickly third world.

ANYBODY SURPRISED? The following blurb was for Jane Mayer in The New Yorker writing n the Fox-Trump relationship: "He wasn't the first — or only— Fox News personality to align with the president. In November, Fox News host Sean Hannity, who reportedly speaks to Trump "almost daily," faced criticism after joining Trump onstage during a rally. And New Yorker journalist Jane Mayer reports that 21st Century Fox Chairman Rupert Murdoch speaks to Trump on a weekly basis and that Fox Business Network anchor Lou Dobbs has been "patched into" Oval Office meetings."

TERRY GROSS OF NPR advertised her chat with Ms. Mayer with the non-shocker that Fox ignored the hush money to Stormy Daniels until after the election, thus swinging the vote to Trump.

THE AVERAGE male Fox viewer, I daresay, totally approved of Stormy and the Don, envying their hero's access to high end prostitutes. Even if Fox had released news of the Stormy interlude, it probably would have helped Trump with the Fox demographic, not hurt him.

THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE in Mendocino County was 5.2 percent in January 2019, up from 4.2 percent in December 2018.

The county added jobs in local government and the information sector. Fewer jobs were available in mining (?), logging and construction; transportation, warehousing and utilities; and local government.

WITH CREEPY JOE poised to enter the race for president, the mainstream media have outdone themselves with poll results claiming Biden is, narrowly, the most popular candidate among Democrats. Biden is already mondo boffo with Democrat media adjuncts like MSNBC and NPR, and he's certainly A-OK with major Democrat funders of the oligarch class. A male version of the political Hillary, and widely said to be her personality equivalent privately, Biden will present himself as the sensible alternative to the party's neo-left, the handful of young women who have inspired the first real enthusiasm for the party since Kennedy. Of course, the neo-left is viewed with alarm by Democrat and Republican funders alike as hostile to their interests. Which it is, hence the hysteria the young women have inspired among lots of libs and, needless to say, the plump fascists of Fox News. We've already had long arguments about who Trump can and can't beat. I think Trump can beat Biden and all the other announced Demo candidates but he'd lose to Bernie who is far more politically conservative than the splendidly combative Ocasio-Cortez and representative Omar. Locally, our supine career officeholders — Huffman, Wood, Little Mikey — will be down for their soul bro Biden, but will of course keep a moist finger to the political winds as they frantically study up on the diff between socialism, communism and opportunism, inevitably landing four-square for opportunism. The Northcoast went big for Bernie last time around and would go even bigger for him this time, but the main stem party will do whatever they can to sab the old boy. Again. And we'll get Biden, and Trump will beat him like a drum.

SPEAKING OF FOX NEWS, I had a dream the other night that I got close enough to Hannity to take a wild punch at him before his cadre of Nautilus Youth pummeled me into submission as I screamed, "Elder abuse! See my AARP card? Get these punks off me, Hannity, and fight fair. If I ever catch you in Boonville.... etc."

"66.1 PERCENT OF ADULTS residing in Mendocino County are overweight or obese." So? Not everybody's cut out for the Olympics. It's not like fat people are unaware of their bulk and its medical hazards, and anyway it's the natural consequence of dietary Easy Street and sedentary work. Constantly ragging on the Triple X's isn't likely to get them off the Cheetos and moving around more, is it?

BRUCE McEWEN WRITES: My IT Secretary reminds me of HAL in 2001 A Space Odyssey. The thoughtful people at gmail have provided me with – without my even asking – indeed, without my permission, even – a secretarial service that includes reading my mail and providing me with a selection of responses to my correspondents. For instance, I sent a note to my colleague Marilyn Davin telling her I’d picked up some jigsaw puzzles for her and her granddaughter at the local charity shop, since she had complained earlier that, Toys R Us being closed, she no longer knew where to get puzzles. Marilyn emailed me back with a thank-you note, and the thoughtful busybodies at gmail, having already read it – for how else would they know what to suggest – provided me with three options for response: 1. “You’re welcome!” 2. “My pleasure!” 3. “You’re welcome! Enjoy!” All I have to do is click on one of these and – done! But this convenience, I am beginning to perceive with an increasing degree of apprehension, is only an incremental step in a process that will eventually lead to my IT secretary taking the conscientious liberty of answering my mail without bothering me over the decision-making, at all. And from there – who knows? – my IT secretary may shortly show even more consideration, and go ahead and initiate and compose letters from me, on my behalf, to everyone on my mailing list. For the past five or six years we’ve been aware that we are being surveilled in all of our online communications – thanks to Julian Assange for that heads up – but the auditing and monitoring has now become meddlesome; certainly, there are those who would say pleasantly and helpfully so; these being the same people who responded to the news that they were being watched in the first place with the “what have I got to hide?” so-what attitude that was, in fact, coined by prying police-types at least as far back as the 1950s, and possibly all the way back to evildoers like Cardinal Richelieu, Cesar de Borgia, Judas Iscariot. 

Now, I wonder what my IT secretary at gmail will make of this letter, when she reads it; for certainly, it stands to reason that if she is reading my in-coming mail, she must be reading the out-going as well – and what kind of response IT will compose for gmail recipients of this letter to choose from? 1. “Have you gone off your meds again? Should I alert the authorities?” 2. “Your chronic paranoia may a result of prolonged drug and alcohol abuse. Please consider seeking professional help.” “Mailer Daemon Alert!~Delivery Incomplete!” Hmmm.


[1] The Girl Scouts are back, selling their cookies in front of the grocers’ front doors. Predictably their parents are right behind them hovering, you know, so they can earn their girls can get their independence badges. A very fat man walking by said the words I wanted to say, “No thanks, don’t want any of that poison….” 65% of the population is diabetic or pre-diabetic and this is going to continue bending the life expectancy metric downward. Parents will continue to put their kids out there, to face increasing wrath of the general public who get the wake up call from their doctors: systemic insulin resistance. Everything in the stores is loaded with sugar and we are fatter than ever, only now, that jiggle is getting morbid. Morbid enough for an adult to muster the nerve to tell a child they’re paying poison in public… Which is a good thing. There is a lot children should know about the world their society is indoctrinating them into. But first things first. Let’s shame the parents to their faces about the bleeping cookies. Let’s deliver the real merit badges, the “I learned about America’s health crisis (and my role in it)” … To go along with “Neverland Ranch veteran”…

2] As for Girl Scouts, I always found their cookies kind of blah, but I’ll give the troop a couple of dollars to help them out. lately, I say ‘and do you think girls should join the Boy Scouts or stay in the Girl Scouts?’ When they chorus ‘Girl Scouts!’ I give them an extra buck. I also ask the girls if they know their scout laws. A lot of them don’t, and one of the adults told me they cut off a couple because it’s too much to memorize!

I was a Boy Scout in 1964, and… A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. That’s off the top of my head. C’mon, girls: get with it.

[3] Everything used to be right there before Walmart. It was called Main Street. It had dozens of shops whose owners you knew and you went there to shop and you paid maybe 25% more than you do now. But the community had jobs making those things sold in the local shops. Now they don’t. People talk from both sides of their mouth here. They want everything American, but then they love Walmart. They want a world that is impossible to exist. They just want to make noise. They don’t care if it makes sense. Just go to any Trump rally. A lot of hot air. I’m surprised the domed building don’t float away like some giant balloon.

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