- Dry Days
- Locals Night
- Cox Book
- Climate Action
- Homeless Definitions
- New Legislation
- Neary Corrections
- Not Drunk
- Mendo Missing
- Tanoak Exhibit
- Dam Hitlist
- FB Mural
- Court Reporting
- Neuroth Reconsidered
- Police Reports
- Indoor Grows
- Cannabis Corruption
- Yesterday's Catch
- Sorrows Come
- Heroin Taco
- Old Nemeses
- Insanity Amuck
- Wet Winter
- Nasty Women
- Solano Decree
- Desperate Hope
- Costly College
- The Platitudes
- Famous Couch
- Death Penalty
- Familial Love
MILD AND DRY CONDITIONS can be expected today through most of Tuesday, with coastal dense fog along the coast early Monday. Light rain can be expected late Tuesday and Wednesday, with a quick round of moderate rain expected Friday. (National Weather Service)
LOCALS NIGHT AT THE LITTLE RED SCHOOLHOUSE
Wednesday, March 20 - 5:30 to 7:30
Haven’t been to your museum for a while? Never been? Now’s the time!
The AV Historical Society presents a fun mixer and a chance to roam our beautiful grounds & displays.
SHAMROCKS & SALSA, A MEMOIR by Gerald F. Cox, is highly recommended reading for several reasons. (1) the author is known to most residents of the Anderson Valley where he was known (much less formally as 'Jerry' Cox) whose imprint on Valley life was large, (2) it's the story of a most unusual man whose interesting, and often funny, account of moving through his youth to middle age as a Catholic priest before resigning to marry was not unprecedented but certainly unusual, (3) he almost offhandedly relates the significance of his work as a ground floor stalwart of the Farm Worker's movement led by Cesar Chavez, who Cox introduced to the crucial activist, church-related network then dominant in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The Monsignor's life was, to say the least, various, and it came as no surprise that his services were held in Santa Rosa in the church Cox himself got built to accommodate all the people who knew him. This memoir can also be read as a kind of history of the Bay Area, from the Depression years — the padre was 92 when he died — through contemporary times, with a wonderful account of his summers as a kid on the Russian River. As a life history, given his experience as a Catholic priest, Cox's life in NorCal was a life lived parallel to those of us who have lived more or less contemporaneously with him in the same place until, that is, the priest and his nun, the formidable Kathy Cox, arrived in the Anderson Valley, where they quickly became ubiquitous as, at first, proprietors of the Floodgate Cafe, then as free range social workers for the county's helping agencies and the local schools. As a bi-lingual couple, the Coxes were invaluable in helping Anderson Valley's burgeoning immigrant Mexican community adjust to their new lives as Americans. 'Monsignor' implies power and wealth, but as a married couple the priest and the nun certainly had their years with the wolf at the door. I loved the anecdotes, especially the one about the rigged Sonoma County beauty contest based on the number of raffle tickets sold. The girl who sold the most sold the most because her wealthy father bought up most of them, but the other girls brought off a conspiracy against the ostensible winner with her father becoming so irate he threatened an official with murder! I picked the book up expecting to log a few pages before I tottered off to Dreamland, but I didn't put it down until 3am or so where this remarkable man's daughters signed off with moving tributes to their father, a man successful at two very different kinds of fatherhood.
MENDOCINO COUNTY BOARD CREATING DEFINITIONS OF HOMELESS GROUPS
Defining different groups key to adopting Marbut principles — At a meeting Monday, a Mendocino County board may vote on definitions for three different groups of people experiencing homelessness as either “homegrown, local or traveler.”
by Justine Frederiksen
At its next meeting Monday, the Mendocino County Homeless Services Continuum of Care may adopt official definitions for different groups of homeless people that are intended to help providers “determine priority and service path when working with individuals and families experiencing homelessness.”
According to the minutes of the Feb. 11 meeting of the board, the definition “is to be used for a guideline to direct services to the most hometown people as possible in a large, diverse county. This will be a consistent understanding and application of resources.”
Recently, Mendocino County officials hired Dr. Robert Marbut to study the local homeless and transient populations and evaluate how services are provided to them. Last year when Marbut presented his list of recommendations, he said first and foremost, all providers needed to acknowledge that there are important differences between the populations they are serving, and that before they can agree on how to help them, they need to agree on a set of definitions for the different groups.
This is crucial, Marbut said, because Mendocino County has a limited amount of time, money and other resources to devote to those needing help acquiring shelter, food and other basic necessities, and he strongly recommended that all communities focus their limited resources on what he called “homegrown” homeless.
The most important reason for this, he said, is that people who have ties to a community have a support system of friends and family that will make it far more likely they will eventually be able to successfully improve their situation long-term when given services.
By contrast, providing the same amount of services to everyone, no-questions-asked, not only dilutes and depletes your services and makes them less effective for all, that practice also tends to attract more people to the area, increasing the impacts of the homeless and transient population on the rest of the community, rather than reducing them.
According to the packet for the March 18 meeting, the three definitions being considered for adoption are:
Homegrown: Adult individuals and families experiencing homelessness and (a) had a permanent job in Mendocino County before they became homeless, (b) have family in Mendocino County (either living or dead) or (c) attended high school in Mendocino County.
Local: Adults or families with children experiencing homelessness and who did not (a) have a permanent job in Mendocino County before becoming homeless, (b) do not have family in Mendocino County, and (c) did not attend high school in Mendocino County, but (d) they are confident Mendocino County is where they are most likely to transition into sustainable permanent housing and (e) they are willing to engage in services or (f) need assistance while arrangements are made to connect them with people in the community most likely to support their recovery from homelessness and transition into sustainable permanent housing.
Travelers: Adult individuals and families with children experiencing homelessness who do not fit under the definitions of either homegrown or local and are (a) unwilling to engage in services, (b) unwilling to engage positively with outreach teams or other service providers, (c) requiring involvement of law enforcement through criminal behaviors, and (d) traveling through or do not reside in Mendocino County year-round.
The meeting where these definitions will be discussed and possibly voted on is scheduled for Monday, March 18, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m, in the Big Sur Conference Room at 747 S. State St.
The Mendocino County Homeless Services Continuum of Care program is described as “a collaboration of individuals, and agencies committed to the goal of fighting homelessness in our community. This group is instrumental in bringing federal (HUD) funding into the county to assist families and individuals experiencing or at risk of homelessness, to gain access to stable housing. This group focuses on developing solutions to homelessness that also positively impact the larger community. Community members and agency staff interested in understanding some of the issues of homelessness in Mendocino County, and in working on solutions to fight homelessness, are welcome to attend these public meetings.”
(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)
DAYLIGHT & WATER
by Jim Shields
For all you Trump haters out there you can’t say he hasn’t done something for us Uber Californians.
In fact, he’s done a couple of good things.
He recently supported and then signed into law, our right to grow hemp.
Of course, the ink was barely dry on the new law when our board of supervisors put some ink on their own new urgency ordinance establishing a temporary moratorium on the cultivation of hemp.
Of course, I know a few folks who say they plan to grow hemp anyway since they believe that federal law “trumps” local ordinances.
Also the President said in a tweet the other day, “Making Daylight Saving Time permanent is O.K. with me!”
That’s very cool because voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 7 that makes DST permanent in California as long as the feds sign off on the implementation of this proposition. And with Trumpwork Orange now fully behind deep-sixing the twice-a-year changing of clocks backwards and forwards every spring and fall, we should soon be enjoying a somewhat brighter and lighter world.
New Bill Would Create “Drinking Water Trust”
New proposed legislation was introduced by Senator Caballero (D-Salinas) to create the Safe Drinking Water Trust, which would help community water systems in disadvantaged communities provide access to safe drinking water. SB 669 is sponsored by ACWA and the California Municipal Utilities Association. By the way, my water district is a member of ACWA.
The Trust would be created in the State Treasury and funded with General Fund dollars during a state budget surplus year. The principal would be invested and the net income from the Trust would be transferred to a Safe Drinking Water Fund, which the State Water Resources Control Board would administer.
This proposal would create a durable funding source for costs associated with operation and maintenance and consolidation efforts and would complement existing federal and state funding sources for capital costs. The record budget surplus for the 2019-’20 fiscal year presents an opportunity to create and fund the Trust.
SB 669, the Safe Drinking Water Trust, is an alternative solution, i.e., an anti-tax bill to the proposed statewide water tax, which is being proposed by Governor Newsom through budget trailer bill language (very similar to the 2018 budget trailer bill language that did not pass). Here are its primary components:
• The Trust’s principal would be initially financed with a one-time infusion of General Fund dollars during a budget surplus year.
• There is a record budget surplus for the 2019-2020 Fiscal Year, which makes it the perfect time to create and fund the Trust.
• Funding the Trust via the General Fund serves as a progressive source of revenue, as taxpayers with higher income would contribute more, while lower income taxpayers would contribute less.
• The Trust’s principal would be invested, and the net income would be transferred to a Safe Drinking Water Fund, which the State Water Board would administer.
I’ll keep you apprised on any developments with both of these bills.
(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, and is also the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live: http://www.kpfn.org)
A WILLITS READER WRITES: "Your recent items re the Colvig matter: Chris Neary isn’t on the Willits school board anymore. He didn’t win re-election last year. In fact, he came in last, and quite a bit 'last.' Neary didn’t even come to the last couple of school board meetings after losing that election, no doubt it was quite the blow. I don’t think that was a comment on his performance on the school board, I think it was because many people in Willits and in Brooktrails blame Neary for the conflict between the City of Willits and Brooktrails Township over paying for the sewer plant, which fattened Neary’s coffers quite a bit. Remember the story about 'once they had a meeting without the lawyers, they worked it out'? And Neary’s involvement in the Woodhouse campaign didn’t end up doing any good at all for Willits…”
REPLACES "BABY ON BOARD!"
DECADENCE, SUBURBAN BRANCH: From Sunday's Press Democrat, this headline: “Boatique Winery pairs award-winning wines with rare boats — The Lake County winery allows visitors to sip wine while exploring its collection of museum-quality wooden boats…”
MISSING PEOPLE LISTED IN MENDOCINO COUNTY
From the Mendocino County Sheriff Office.
On line Comments:
Margit Prichard is not on the list?
Asha Kreimer is also not on the list.
Why isn’t Khadija Britton on the list?
Interesting that Laytonville appears to be a common denominator in many of these missing people.
FIVE DAMS CALTROUT WANTS REMOVED
California Trout, a nearly 50-year-old environmental nonprofit, cites five of the state’s more than 1,400 sizable dams as “ripe for removal.”
Built in 1922 on the Eel River in Lake County’s portion of the Mendocino National Forest, the 138-foot Scott Dam impounds Lake Pillsbury, a popular recreational area, and is part of a hydropower project that owner PG&E has abandoned, opening the door to removal as part of a decommissioning process. The dam blocks off the river’s upper watershed to threatened salmon and steelhead.
Completed in 1947 on a creek in the Ventura River watershed north of Ojai, 163-foot Matilija Dam impounds a reservoir almost completely filled with sediment. Targeted for removal in 1998 but with no funding approved, it remains a barrier for endangered Southern California steelhead, which number about 500 fish.
Built in 1892 on a creek near Stanford University in San Mateo County, 65-foot Searsville Dam blocks the spawning passage for Central California Coast steelhead, a threatened species. The dam’s reservoir is nearly filled with sediment, and the non-potable water is mainly used to irrigate the Stanford campus.
Located on Malibu Creek about 3 miles from the coast in Los Angeles County, 100-foot Rindge Dam was built in 1924 by the Rindge family and filled with sediment in less than 30 years. It was decommissioned in 1967 and subsequently approved for removal, but the cost of hauling away 276,000 cubic yards of impounded sediment remains an obstacle. The dam thwarts migration of endangered Southern California steelhead.
Four aging hydropower dams on the Klamath River in Northern California and Southern Oregon are slated for removal in 2021 at a cost of up to $450 million and with support from more than 40 organizations. It would be the largest dam removal project in the world, restoring access to more than 300 miles of habitat for salmon and steelhead.
FANTASTIC MURAL! is getting real close! And looking mighty fine if I do say so myself! @the.art.cartel has been busting his hump out here all week on the wall @goldenwestsaloon
COURT COVERAGE, AN APPRECIATION
Dear Mr. McEwen,
I very much appreciate the difficulties you encounter in attempting to accurately portray something that happens in real time, delivered by posturing and pontificating persons in the courtroom. I carry spiral-bound “evidence” notebooks with me to every meeting, attempt to grasp/interpret/respond do and simultaneously document the exchanges and information gleaned so painstakingly. Yet that process is one I use as substantiation of future explanations with great sensitivity.
My most certain declarations of “provable” statements I might cite (on radio broadcasts) are those derived from watching and “transcribing” carefully the video-viewable meetings of our County Board of Supervisors, where I do my utmost to accurately capture the very words themselves, later extracting key points to refer to on a topic of interest to our listeners. If they want to correct me, I’m glad to have the help, but so far (in, for example, three plus years of producing the only disaster response/relief/recovery air-borne discussion in any media hereabouts) few have any betterment to contribute.
I especially appreciate the clarity with which you describe the results, explicating the changes in thinking that can occur after the conclusion is revealed, of selections made on the fly, of necessity, that turn out to be of lesser importance and or irrelevant completely. The process of triaging all the “incoming” and grabbing the salient points quickly is magnified by the arcane language of the courts. I WISH I knew what those guys and gals are saying, mumble, mumble, hummmmm, party in the first part, bibbety, bobbety, boo!
Our newest Judge, David Markham, was once kind enough to give me a couple of hours, on his dime, to help me grasp the process occurring in the “misdemeanor” court (I was, at the time, advocating for an older adult accused of an absurd offense, and had been to court with her four times, each a month apart, and each accompanied by no production of the charges, in writing, and the police report, so that she could try to choose appropriate legal defense options). He was most kind and did not disabuse me of the sense that the process is designed to stretch out the length of time the public defender’s contracts are allowed.
My cohort was charged with Obstruction of Business, PC 602.1(a)) after she was pulled out of a meeting of the Area Agency on Aging’s Governing Board at the senior center, while sitting calmly among a group of protestors of a recent senior center board action (I among them, having authored their formal grievance, in accordance with state code requirements), handcuffed and driven to the jail for booking. [Of course, there’s tons of “backstory” that a judicious thinker must evaluate, pro and con and who did what to who, but that’s the gist of reason for her situation.]
Finally, on the day of her trial (having plead not guilty) there was a first-time discussion between the DA, the PD, and the judge, in a side office of some kind, and the judge dismissed the charges. Five months, mysterious and intimidating, for the sake of how much money? A second opinion was sought, offered by a competing attorney who never mentioned billing during the discussions but later attempted to claim exorbitant costs for merely leaving her office a block away, stand in the side office with the DA and the judge, while the DA read the pre-trial documents for the first time, and make the return trip. Total time? An hour?
I met with the then-holder of the County’s public defender contract, Stephen Carter (who later killed himself) after seeking out the obscure “Public Defender Contract Oversight Committee” run by the bailbondsman-supervisor of District 5, Rob Brown until that very morning I attended (gee, he had to suddenly “step down” from the assigned chair position), to complain about the process and mistreatment by the originally assigned PD, who I also met with to help my co-worker plead for the opportunity to see the actual arrest record. When he discovered how little money she had (former cook, disabled husband, over 60) he was hasty to exit the tiny closet that the court provides for private consultations — it’s about the size of a pair of phone booths.
So, when you give us your best shot at describing something so complicated as a court proceeding, with the roles and responsibilities involved in the intricate “actions” of the actors on all sides, you give us a blow-by-blow commentary of a system that is as obscure to me as television and video games. Consuming, digesting, and regurgitating the grit and grunge of one of the most critical events in a person’s life — being on trial, for whatever reason and however correct or misconstrued — provide our only insights as to what “measure of justice” there may be in the bowels of the institution. No wonder you drink! (I’d join you, lad, there’s many a pilsner ahead for you but I seldom get to Ukiah anymore. Cheers, though, and thanks for the dedication.)
RECONSIDERING THE NEUROTH CASE
I was wondering if you had a chance to view the video taped killing of Steve Neuroth? As I recall the last time you mentioned Steve’s death you were of the opinion that he was largely to blame or something like that. I apologize if my paraphrasing is incorrect but that's kind of what I came away with. Anyway, just wanted to know if your feelings had changed after seeing the video.
ED REPLY: Yes, I have changed my mind. The first video I saw didn't include unnecessary punches, and I was unaware that Neuroth, in a total meth paranoid state, had been taunted by the arresting officer as he was driven from Willits to the County Jail. I think the judgement is deserved. Cops and jailers ought to be able to do an eight hour shift without resorting to the kind of sadism we see here with Neuroth.
WHAT WAS DEMETRIE UP TO?
On March 15, 2019 at about 7:15 pm, Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Deputies were dispatched to an attempted kidnapping of a child at "The Villas" apartment complex located at 175 Laws Avenue in Ukiah. Upon arrival, Deputies learned an adult female was observed in the parking lot of the complex holding the hand of a seven year-old child and was physically leading the child away from the complex. The child's family observed the adult female's actions and began to scream in her direction. The child pulled his hand away from the adult female in fear and she left the area walking towards Laws Avenue and continuing east towards South State Street. Based on the observations, the family believed the adult female was attempting to kidnap the child. A clothing and physical description was provided which included distinctive clothing along with digital evidence following the incident with the child. Deputies searched the Laws Avenue and South State Street area for an extended period. At about 8:00 PM, an adult female, who matched the clothing and physical description provided, was observed walking in the 1500 block of South State Street. She was subsequently identified as being Demetrie Rose Pike, 34, of Ukiah, and determined to be living in the 1500 block of South State Street, close to the incident scene.
Based on the information learned during the investigation, including witness statements, Pike was arrested for kidnapping and subsequently booked into the Mendocino County Jail where she was to be held in lieu of $250,000 bail.
Anyone with information concerning this investigation, particularly residents of 175 Laws Avenue are encouraged to contact the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Tip-Line by calling 707-234-2100 or the WeTip anonymous crime reporting hotline at 800-732-7463 if they have information that would assist with this investigation.
On March 16, 2019 at approximately 5:00 a.m., Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputies were conducting a surveillance operation in the 29000 block of Highway 20 in Fort Bragg. During that time, Deputies observed Richard Strazi, 57, of Fort Bragg, committing theft of property with a value exceeding $950.00 in value.
Deputies contacted and arrested Strazi for grand theft. Strazi was also determined to be in violation of his active summary probation and was additionally charged with violation of probation. Strazi was transported to the Mendocino County Jail where he was booked to be held in lieu of $15,000 bail.
STAB BY YOUR MAN
On March 15, 2019 at approximately 6:22 p.m., Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputies received a call for service to contact a victim of a stabbing that was at Redwood Coast Medical Services in Gualala. Deputies responded and contacted a 35 year-old female and learned she was assaulted shortly after arriving at a residence in the 40000 block of Old Stage Road in Gualala. After the 35 year-old female arrived to contact a friend at the location, she was confronted by the female suspect over potential relationship issues with another male. The 35 year-old female only knew the suspect’s first name as Veronica. During the confrontation the suspect produced a knife and stabbed the 35 year-old female in the lower abdomen. Deputies observed the 35 year-old female had an injury to her lower abdomen that was consistent with a single stab wound. She was subsequently transported by air ambulance to an out of county hospital for further treatment of her injury. Deputies responded to various locations in the Gualala and Point Arena areas to conduct further investigations, including the location where the incident reportedly took place. Deputies contacted several subjects and developed further information on the suspect’s identity, who was believed to be Veronica Lopez, 35, of Santa Rosa.
Deputies were unable to locate Lopez until March 16, 2019, when they arrived at a residence in the 31000 block of Skaggs Springs Road in Stewarts Point. With the assistance of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to the location to locate Lopez. Deputies found Lopez at the location and after finding and observing evidence associating her to the crime, Lopez was arrested for Assault with a Deadly Weapon without incident. Lopez was transported to the Mendocino County Jail where she was booked to be held in lieu of $35,000 bail.
USE PERMITS FOR SMALL INDOOR GROWS ON THE COAST?
On The BOS March 19, 2019 Agenda:
6e) Discussion and Possible Action Including Direction to Staff Regarding Development of an Indoor Cannabis Cultivation Use Permit Process for Phase One Applicants Subject to Sunset Provision in Section 10A.17.080(2)(b) of the Mendocino Cannabis Cultivation Ordinance (Sponsor: Supervisor Williams)
Recommended Action: Direct staff to develop an indoor cannabis cultivation use permit process for phase one applicants subject to the sunset provision in section 10A.17.080(2)(b) of the Mendocino Cannabis Cultivation Ordinance.
SUMMARY OF REQUEST: Preliminary data indicates only approximately 2% of cannabis cultivators participating in the County's permitting process are generating enough revenue to avoid minimum tax provisions under 6.32.050.B.1 of the cannabis business tax ordinance. While shifting market dynamics continue to place strain on the viability of small farm cultivation, some indoor cultivators continue to thrive. Without an indoor cultivation use permit pathway for parcels subject to sunset provisions in 10A.17.080 (2)(b) of the cultivation ordinance, these success stories will be put out of business by County regulations. Some legacy facilities are likely incompatible, while others are not contentious. By implementing a use permit approach, immediate neighbors can help steer indoor cultivation permitting without unnecessarily impacting local farms and ultimately, County revenue.
(via Ted Williams facebook post)
ms notes: Mendo is hyper-allergic to use permits for anything but statutorily required situations. Knee-jerk opposition is basically automatic. We’ll be very surprised if anything like a use permit process for small indoor grows gets past Supervisor Williams’ well-meaning proposal. When we tried to get the County to consider use permits for wind fans — as bragged about by the local wine industry at the time but which were in fact NOT required — the Supervisors and the Planning Department wouldn’t even consider it. Too much work. Applicants won’t like it. Might have to deal with neighbor complaints, etc.
When a small group of locals suggested use permits for tasting rooms — just like bars, childcare operations, barbershops, etc. — a few years ago at a General Plan Update Planning Commission meeting, the wine industry not only loudly cried foul, but one of them came to the podium and whined, “Why do you hate us so much?” This just for a simple use permit suggestion!
Already on facebook came this from David King: “Wow Ted isn’t even throwing a jab to get his distance. He is just throwing his strong arm with every punch. I think we are going to start calling him ‘Wildcat Williams.’ You know the old saying, ‘Never, never, ever mess with a man wearing a bow tie’.”
CALIFORNIA IS AWASH IN CANNABIS CASH. SOME IS BEING USED TO BRIBE PUBLIC OFFICIALS
by Patrick McGreevy
Sheriff Jon Lopey was startled when the mysterious stranger offered him $1 million if he would keep deputies away from certain illegal cannabis farms in Siskiyou County.
Lopey called in the FBI, and, later, deliveries of envelopes stuffed with thousands of dollars in cash were recorded by cameras and microphones hidden on the sheriff's cluttered, wooden desk. Two people were later indicted by a federal grand jury for attempting to bribe the elected sheriff.
"I was surprised and offended that a citizen would believe a law enforcement administrator would compromise his ethics and morals by accepting money,” said Lopey, whose rural county abuts the Oregon border and strictly outlaws outdoor pot farms.
In the more than two years since California voters approved the licensed growing and sale of recreational marijuana, the state has seen a half-dozen government corruption cases as black-market operators try to game the system, through bribery and other means. The cases are tarnishing an already troubled roll-out of the state permitting of pot businesses as provided for when voters approved Proposition 64 in November 2016.
Opponents of the initiative say the cases confirm their campaign arguments that legalization wouldn’t end the black market and the criminal behavior it has unleashed.
“We knew this was going to be an issue. The money is so great that the temptation is always there,” said William Lowe, a leader of the group Americans Against Legalizing Marijuana.
California is awash in cannabis cash from inside and out of the state, partly because pot remains an illegal drug under federal law, so banks won’t accept cash from the businesses. The state’s black market for cannabis was estimated to be worth $3.7 billion last year — more than four times the size of the legal market, according to the firm New Frontier Data.
Proposition 64, approved in 2016, allowed the state to license businesses to grow and sell pot but required the firms to also get approval from the cities and counties, most of which have outlawed pot operations. Experts say that local resistance explains why many of the corruption allegations center on illegal attempts to buy help from city and county officials.
“There is no doubt in my mind that the multi-billion-dollar nature of the marijuana industry is corrupting public officials,” said Lopey, a 41-year veteran of law enforcement who began his full-time career as a California Highway Patrol officer stationed in East Los Angeles.
Proposition 64 also outlawed the transportation of cannabis out of the state, which was an issue in the Siskiyou County indictments against Chi Yang and his sister, Gaosheng Laitinen.
Yang allegedly approached the sheriff in his county office in Yreka in the summer of 2017, and initially suggested the $1 million could go to a foundation headed by Lopey.
At one of the subsequent meetings where Lopey was handed the envelopes of cash, Laitinen allegedly sought assurances about what their payments would buy: “Are we talking about protection from being raided?” she asked the sheriff, according to a DEA agent’s affidavit attached to the criminal charging document.
The pair allegedly paid Lopey $10,500, including four $500 cash bonuses, before they were arrested, according to court records.
That case is just one of several that have involved cannabis sellers and growers allegedly bribing or trying to bribe government officials, or public officials acting illegally to get rich from marijuana.
Last year, Jermaine Wright, then the mayor pro tem of Adelanto, was charged with agreeing to accept a bribe to fast-track a marijuana business. Wright’s trial is scheduled for August. In May, FBI agents served search warrants at the home of Rich Kerr, who was mayor of Adelanto at the time, as well as at City Hall and a marijuana retailer.
Also in May, Humboldt County building inspector Patrick Mctigue was arrested and charged with accepting $100,000 in bribes from marijuana businesses seeking expedited help on county permits, according to the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office.
Last March, a federal jury reached guilty verdicts to bribery and extortion charges against Michael Kimbrew, who was a field representative to then-Rep. Janice Hahn when he accepted cash from an undercover FBI agent while pledging his "undying support" to protect a marijuana dispensary that the city of Compton was trying to close.
On Tuesday, developer Dorian Gray was held to answer by a judge in a preliminary hearing on charges of offering bribes to then-Oakland City Council President Larry Reid and Assistant City Administrator Greg Minor, according to court records. Gray allegedly offered the councilman cash to help obtain a cannabis dispensary permit, and Reid reported the offer to authorities. Gray is charged with offering Minor, who oversees marijuana permitting for Oakland, a free trip to Spain.
Reid said he was offended by the offer made by Gray in his City Hall office, and reported it to the city administrator’s office.
“He (Gray) said he had an envelope with $10,000 and my name on it in his pocket, and I told him I don’t work that way,” Reid said. “Everybody thinks they can become an instant millionaire by getting a dispensary permit.”
Autumn Paine, an attorney for Gray, said the two city officials offered “wildly different” stories about what occurred.
As for the allegation of bribery against Gray, “He absolutely denies that,” she said.
An attorney for Laitinen declined comment beyond noting that she pleaded “not guilty.” Yang has also denied the charge in court, but his attorney did not return calls for comment.
An attorney for Wright declined comment.
Not all of the recent cases involve elected officials. Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Marc Antrim pleaded guilty two weeks ago to federal charges stemming from his arrest for robbing a warehouse of a half-ton of marijuana in October.
While some cases filed in the last year are still pending trial, there have been convictions in other corruption cases in recent years.
California was the first state to legalize the sale of marijuana for medical use two decades ago. The former mayor of the city of Cudahy was sentenced to one year in federal prison in 2013 for taking cash bribes in exchange for supporting the opening of a “medical marijuana” store in the city.
The head of the city’s code enforcement division and a city councilman were also convicted of taking part in the corruption scheme.
Law enforcement agencies are currently investigating possible corruption in other Southern California cities, according to Ed Muramoto, a private attorney for medical pot dispensaries that have complained about cities locking them out of competition for permits.
“We have been contacted regarding a good handful of cities and jurisdictions with respect to investigations that law enforcement is engaging in,” Muramoto said.
He declined to identify the cities involved, saying he has been asked by investigators not to talk about pending probes.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, a key supporter of Proposition 64, declined to comment on the numerous bribery cases involving marijuana growers and sellers.
State law gives too much authority to local officials to dictate terms of city licenses, according to Dale Gieringer, director of California NORML, a pro-legalization group that supported Proposition 64.
“Corruption is always worse at the local level because there are so many more local officials and they aren’t under as much scrutiny as those in Sacramento,” he said. State agencies, he said, “have been doing their best to expedite licensing, but too many local players have been getting their hands in the pie.”
The Siskiyou County case provides further evidence that California remains the largest exporter of pot in the nation. Yang allegedly told the sheriff he wanted to ship California-grown cannabis to Missouri.
Sam Clauder can speak from personal experience about being caught up in illegal, interstate activity after succumbing to financial temptation. The former congressional aide and San Bernardino County Democratic Party official pleaded guilty in 2017 to charges in Texas of possessing 130 pounds of cannabis that he was transporting back east from California.
Clauder started out driving pot from Humboldt County to legal medical cannabis dispensaries in Southern California. He turned to illegal transportation out of state after he was fired from a job as an aide to then-Rep. Joe Baca (D-Rialto) over an unrelated criminal case for which he was later found innocent.
Clauder said cannabis growers paid him about $30,000 for every 100 pounds of marijuana he transported back east, and he made the cross-country trip about 45 times before he was arrested in Texas.
“I think it’s a temptation, if you can’t make it legally, to cross a line,” Clauder said. “I went from working for a U.S. Congressman to being homeless and destitute overnight. What was I supposed to do? I just fell into it.”
CATCH OF THE DAY, March 17, 2019
JAMES CARTE, Ukiah. Domestic abuse.
OSCAR DIAZ-RAYA, Ukiah. Metal knuckles, false ID, probation revocation.
JORGE GARCIA, Windsor/Ukiah. DUI.
JODI HODGES, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
ROBERTO LOPEZ-YOCANA-GUADARRAMA, Boonville. Domestic abuse, probation revocation.
JULES MCCHESNEY, Potter Valley. DUI.
CARA ANN PUGA, Potter Valley. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
KATIE SAMS, Ukiah, Domestic battery.
GUADALUPE SILVA-BUENROSTRO, Geyserville/Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
TONY STEPHENS, Ukiah. Resisting, probation revocation.
JAMES WHEELER, Laytonville. Assault with caustic chemical, domestic battery, protective order violation, offenses while on bail.
WHEN SORROWS COME, they come not single spies. But in battalions! — Claudius (“Hamlet”), Shakespeare
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
When I was in California, I used to grab lunch at the Mexican restaurants where they give you a choice of meats for your tacos, enchiladas, etc. My favorite meat is mutton or goat. Accordingly, to communicate with the Mexican women cooking the food, I tried to memorize some of the Mexican words on the menu posted on the wall of the restaurant. In one Mexican restaurant, the Mexican word for goat posted on the wall menu was “Chiva,” so I memorized this word. (Literally, “Chiva” means a female goat.) And henceforth every time I went into a Mexican restaurant to order I’d always ask for “Chiva,” but I would always get a very strange reaction from the Mexicans in the restaurant who would eventually correct me and tell me that I really wanted to order “Birria.” This dance went on for a long time. Only recently in my readings did I discover that the word “Chiva” is the slang and code word for Mexican Black Tar heroin!
SIX MORE YEARS!
Last week Governor Gruesome Newsom gave the death row inmates a pardon. Can you believe the stupidity? It's insane. What kind of human being would let death row inmates off the hook after they have killed and maimed and raped and tortured and choked little girls like Polly Klaas to death? Are you kidding me? This man is a maniac. That's just a taste of what he's going to do in office. When people asked him that about the voters voting down the initiative to end the death penalty, he basically replied, "Votes don't matter. I don't care. I just didn't like it." Why do we even vote then? He's a dictator. Like the guy in North Korea.
People who want to do harm to our society are pouring into our country because of Newsom and Brown and our sanctuary state. People run rampant in filthy cities like San Francisco shooting people in broad daylight. Newsom is responsible. That's our governor. A joke. Insanity. The voters who voted him in are insane. Deputy sheriffs can't do a thing about it.
Taxes are going to get a lot higher. Sales tax at 10%. Another 30 or 40 cents for gasoline. Newsom won't let us vote on it. It will be a done deal. That's the way things go now. Dictatorship.
We have a crooked rotten Congress now including some Republicans. The RINOs just sit there and try to cause Donald Trump trouble voting against the border wall. We need it more than ever. But those rotten Republicans voted against it. The Democrats are insane anyway. Cortez, Pelosi, Waters and maybe 10 more are completely insane and they are in our Congress.
If the good Republicans don't vote in the next election and get rid of the erratic, supersonic insane anti-American Democrats this country will turn into a socialist country like Venezuela or North Korea and others. The rotten people steal and lie and cheat and whatever else it takes to get a vote and we sit there on our asses doing nothing. So the maniacs stay in office. I hope you're happy. If you don't vote in six more years this country will be gone and be worse than San Francisco.
God bless Donald Trump
LA DRIES OUT AFTER A WILD, WET WINTER
At long last, Los Angeles has been enjoying a rainy winter—over 18 inches of rainfall and counting, according to the National Weather Service. What a shock this must have been to Angelenos who could be excused for fearing that water falling from the sky had become a thing of the past.
PUBLIC LAW 100-9, MARCH 12, 1987: WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH
Dear Friends of Clear Lake and friends everywhere,
Establishing “Women’s History Month” [ever so patronizingly, but what do you expect?], Public Law 100-9, March 12, 1987:
In honor of which, this afternoon I shall be reading an amazing document composed by a local female historian Bonnie J. Hanchett, then owner of the Clear Lake Observer, on the background and facts of Lake County’s water rights, shoreline property owners' lengthy legal battles with both Yolo and Lake Counties, settled long ago by the “Solano Decree.”
For the gummint’s official published version, visit the county webpage: lakecountyca.gov/Government/Directory/WaterResources/ClearLake/Yolo.htm
For the People’s version, tune in this afternoon. This subject is directly related to the latest state-county-chamber-of-commerce government boondoggle, the Blue Ribbon Committee, which met on March 13 at Lakeport’s City Hall.
See you on the radio!
Studio call in number: 707-263-3435 - but I’ll ignore the phone until the complete story is read, thank you very much. (I’ll brook as little nonsense as is possible, even then, and try to keep the program focused on the serious content before us.)
KPFZ (88.1 fm) on the internet: www.kpfz.org
(“Listen Now” or something of that ilk). Thanks to all our listeners, members, supporters and friends all over the world.
I THINK THERE’S A KIND OF DESPERATE HOPE built into poetry that one really wants, hopelessly, to save the world. One is trying to say everything that can be said for the things that one loves while there’s still time to say it.
— W.S. Merwin
THE TRUE COSTS
Actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, along with the other rich people implicated in the college admissions scandal, deserve whatever scorn and ridicule they receive — not to mention possible jail time.
Those of us who have worked multiple jobs simultaneously and sacrificed many things to put our kids through college know a different reality. It’s a sad truth that we live in a country that talks a great game about the importance of a college education but provides precious little financial support for that endeavor.
We have the highest tuition costs in the world, and it’s an established component of American lore that college debt is crippling an entire generation of recent graduates. What’s wrong with this picture?
LARRY LIVERMORE NOTES: "So for anyone who's wondering why presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke's punk rock band had a song about East Bay/Gilman/Green Day/Ne'er-Do-Wells stalwart Al Sobrante, Beto's former bandmate Cedric Zavala (also of At The Drive In and The Mars Volta, among others) has filled us in on the story.
Apparently when Beto and Cedric were on tour, Al generously offered them a place to crash, presumably at the legendary Couch House on 11th Street in Arcata. Al, as he tends to do, made quite an impression on the traveling musicians, who saw fit to immortalize him on what is now apparently a rather rare and highly valued 7" (reports vary as to whether it's actually).
Over the years I've had many an occasion to trot out Lint's "Man, no premonition could have seen this," but at least for now, this may be the topper. It also means that I and probably half the punks in Northern California shared a couch with a possible future president of the United States.
THE GHOSTS OF CALIFORNIA’S DEATH CHAMBER WILL NEVER GO AWAY
by Kevin Fagan
The worst thing about seeing a man die in San Quentin’s execution chamber isn’t watching him pull his last breaths. It’s the bottomless rage, sorrow, helplessness and frustration throbbing all around you.
That’s what you get when you’re standing in that tiny death room alongside the loved ones of those he murdered, the supporters of the killer, and the investigators who put him where he is. That’s what you absorb into your pores. And feel.
I’ve witnessed seven executions at San Quentin Prison, and each time it was like being submerged into an ocean of pain. Those survivors, those few friends of the condemned man — we’d catch each other’s eyes tensely for a moment or two, then go back to staring at the dying human being before us. Scenes from those seven macabre one-act death plays have looped over and over in my head in the 26 years since I first set foot in that grim, green execution room at San Quentin, the only lockup in California where prisoners are put to death.
None of those scenes is good.
Regardless of how you feel about Gov. Gavin Newsom’s decision last week to put a halt to the death penalty in California for at least the length of his four-year term — saying he considers it inhumane and unjustly applied despite voter approval of the punishment as recently as 2016 — there are a few immutable truths I have learned about the process.
One is that there is really no closure for the victims’ families. You’d think making this man who murdered your loved one pay the ultimate price would bring that. It doesn’t.
A vivid case in point: William Bonin.
Bonin was dubbed “The Freeway Killer” for torturing, raping and murdering 14 boys in Southern California in the 1970s and ’80s and tossing them naked, like trash, onto roadways. He was the most prolific killer put to death in the state’s modern era of executions, and I watched him die in 1996, the first man lethally injected in California. Standing closest to me was Barbara Biehn, whose 16-year-old son Steven Wood’s brutalized body had been found against a garbage can, hogtied.
Sighing deeply, she clutched a picture of her son, a smiling kid with flowing blond hair, frozen in handsome youth. More than a dozen dead boys’ relatives stood alongside her.
The anguish was everywhere — so thick that at times, it felt like I was not seeing the pudgy butcherer strapped to the gurney in front of us, behind glass. I was seeing the dozens of young victims I had been told about, in searing detail, by their survivors. As I wrote in my eyewitness account for The Chronicle that night: “It was as if their ghosts were there with us in that chamber, weeping and suffering all over again.”
Over the decades, I have called many of the survivors who witnessed executions with me, including several who were there for Bonin’s death. I asked if they’d found closure. None had. Yes, they were glad the killers were no longer alive. But that really brought them little relief.
Several said it might have been better to just let the murderers rot in prison for life, not to mention cheaper, considering the more vigorous appeals involved in a death penalty case push the legal costs considerably higher than those drawing life without parole.
“I hate that term,” Biehn told me when I asked if she had found closure five years after we watched Bonin die. “You’ll miss your loved ones until you draw your last breath. It’s as if you lost your two hands and tried to get on with your life like nothing happened. You can’t replace them. You just learn to live without them.”
Another truth is that despite the state’s efforts to make execution a tidy, unemotional process, it is messy. Death is death, and it far too often brings out the worst in people when it is put on — regardless of intent — as a show.
I got my first taste of this when I stayed up all night at San Quentin’s gates in April 1992 when double-murderer Robert Alton Harris became the first man put to death since the punishment’s reinstatement. California still used cyanide back then.
It was a long night. Harris was strapped in, taken out and strapped in again before being gassed to death — and meanwhile, outside the prison where I was, pro-death penalty crowds cracked open beers and whooped, “Kill him!” or “Die!” with big grins on their faces. Their opponents angrily yelled back that they were idiots.
Sure, there were plenty of reasonable people in the crowd. But what struck me most was that when the news truck TV lights were off, many just sat around — and when the lights clicked back on they lurched to their feet and screamed for the cameras. Same scenes happened when I was in Indiana in 2001 to cover the federal execution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.
It was undignified. Sad. Ugly.
Many have asked if I am tormented by having watched executions, especially ones like Tookie Williams, who cried before medical technicians jabbed needle after needle into him to find a vein. Or David Mason, who heaved, convulsed and drooled as he choked to death on poison gas.
I am not.
I feel deep sorrow at the suffering of the many survivors I’ve interviewed, because every killer I watched die was some form of a monster — you generally don’t wind up on Death Row unless you’ve killed in inventively heinous ways. I also feel great sadness at the waste of a life that each killer represents, because I believe with different twists of fate, each person can be a loving presence.
But I’ve been a reporter a long time, covering disasters and mass murders and homelessness. I’ve seen things worse than watching a man die fairly quickly in a tightly controlled environment. What sticks for me is the misery for everyone involved.
Take Brian Chalk, for example. Thirteen years ago, he and I were set to watch the execution of Michael Morales, who in 1981 raped and killed Chalk’s sister Terri Winchell in Lodi — the first murder I ever covered. The state pulled the plug two hours before the appointed time, and Chalk has been waiting ever since, frozen in rage, sorrow and helplessness.
He said he still thinks watching Morales sleep to eternity might bring him closure, or at least something close to it. But either do the death penalty, or don’t — and then leave him alone, he said.
“It’s an ugly world out there,” Chalk told me last week. “This thing has bothered me, been so stressful, for years and years and years. It’s been awful. Just let it be over one way or another.”
And there it is, just like all those times in the chamber.
Pain. It never ends. Whether the poisons flow through the injection tubes or not.
OH HAPPY DAY
The normal white noise of family drama while living alone at Wild River and then on Bell Springs kept me distant and pretty much uninvolved with the day to day days of family stuff. They were in Idaho. NorCal. Some headed for Oregon. When I moved to Eugene after heart surgery ten years ago, my ears were bathed in the detail. And none of it is bad. Just the normal stuff. No ongoing problems with the law. No heavy drugs. No opiods. No fundamentalist Christians. All great parents but a bit over involved, I think. But that's just geezer talk. A new generation.
Since my health problems multiplied I have come to admire the talents of my children, and I have come increasingly to rely on them. They -- each of them -- has saved my life. They have acted as one. I absolutely trust their care. They tell me, Relax. I trust them. I do. I say thank you every day. I love them. Jordan is buying me a replacement for my old and broken chair. I try to say I love them every time we talk. I'm sure I will express my love for Jordan when he shows up with the chair. I bow to you all. I hope I don't cause you to squirm with my gushing. Keep it simple. I love you. Thank you.