SHERIFF ALLMAN has rightly complained about being the target of an anonymous campaign that has repeatedly accused him, for five years now, of drunk driving. The male person making the claim has called the AVA several times over this period asking us why we don't print the allegation. We keep saying we need evidence, and the anonymous guy keeps saying he'll send it to us but never does. A weekend ago, Allman's stalker, in the dead of night, presumably, so he wouldn't, couldn't be identified, glued his accusation against the Sheriff in poster form all over Willits. Allman has responded by inviting his stalker to call him for a talk, not a beatdown which, in Allman's place, I'd be sorely tempted to do. This kind of thing endured by the Sheriff, or anybody, is very unfair and, it should go without saying even in these savage times, is hurtful to the vic’s family.
MANY YEARS AGO an unhinged man named Russ Moro took an irrational dislike to Pano Stephens, an attorney with offices across the street from the County Courthouse. One day Moro printed up a flier accusing Stephens of, among other things, swindling old ladies and began distributing the libels inside the Courthouse. Stephens was quickly alerted that the lunatic was sullying his good name, and just as quickly had obtained a court order prohibiting Moro from circulating deliberate lies about him or go to jail. Sure, Moro was a nutcase, but he was a nutcase who didn't worry about being identified, which puts him way ahead of Allman's stalker.
(I’VE ALWAYS WONDERED what happened to Moro, one of many lunatics to appear then disappear from Mendo’s vivid panorama of transient out patients. He was quite well-to-do from regular, highly paid work as a film translator. American movies shown abroad, and European movies shown here, appeared with Moro's version of what was being said in the sub-titles, which has had me wondering ever since about the accuracy of movie translations. Moro believed government, any and all government, had no authority over him so he carried no identification and, natch, was in constant conflict with cops and government functionaries at all levels. He'd spend entire days in rolling beefs with damn near everybody he came in contact with, including market clerks he'd challenge about sales taxes! The last I heard Moro was living in Covelo, a community not known for its reverence for rule books, but not a place where you want to go around annoying people. He used to write us long, handwritten letters outlining his tiresome opinions in a tiny, lower case script which I told him we were not going to spend any time whatsoever trying to decipher. He thought we were beyond unreasonable, but he was an inexhaustible correspondent who refused to do us even the basic courtesy of legibility. Moro visited Boonville a couple of times, the kind of guy who gets right in your face and, spittle flying, rattles off tinfoil hat stuff until you finally manage to liberate yourself. The second time I saw him coming before he saw me and managed to hide until he finally went off to harangue some other unsuspecting soul.)
PG&E's looming abandonment of the Potter Valley Diversion has understandably gotten much attention. A lot of entrenched interests are involved, so entrenched they will have to be somehow accommodated. I think Congressman Huffman's "two basin" idea probably represents the only fair and viable way to proceed. Gratifying as it might be to see downstream water hogs like Mendo and Sonoma grape growers die of thirst, there are also thousands of household water users south of us who don't deserve that fate. And those downstream households are probably unaware that their high-water costs subsidize practically free water for grape growers. Think of it all as a kind of aquatic Brexit. Returning the Eel to its original state means no Diversion of Eel River water to tens of thousands of households and "farmers" from Potter Valley south to Sausalito, a political move no living American politician, especially California's, would have the stones to do. But, like Brexit, it's hardly reasonable to bring ancient water arrangements crashing down, thus severely putting a million or so downstreamers with sand pouring out of their shower heads.
IT CAN HAPPEN HERE! President Vladimir Putin has signed into law tough new fines for Russians who spread what he regards as fake news or who show “blatant disrespect” for the state.
AT TAI ABREU'S "status hearing" in Superior Court last week, DA Eyster made it clear he thinks the new law is unconstitutional, and here we go on what may become an endless series of hearings, huge expenditures of public time, money and effort to keep Abreu in prison for the rest of his life, nevermind that there's no evidence he committed murder or even any evidence there was a murder. Eyster apparently thinks there’s plenty.
IT WAS ALSO stated in court last week that Abreu's trial transcript is not yet available. It has to be retrieved from wherever it's stored. Assuming it exists, it's very short. Abreu got a one-day trial, no witnesses were called on his behalf, not a single exculpatory piece of evidence presented in his defense.
ABREU'S defense attorney at trial, a person the Founding Fathers could not have anticipated in their wildest nightmares, convinced Abreu, who had just turned 19, to go to a jury of his peers who, of course, included no 19-year-old stoners or even anyone under the age of forty, as I recall. Public Defender Linda Thompson's defense consisted of this single, ephemeral argument: Abreu was read his rights in his morning interview, not read his rights when he was re-interviewed that afternoon. If you dear reader, were looking at life in prison without the possibility of parole, would you haul this argument before a jury? DA prosecutor Kevin Davenport said at the time that he did everything "but get down on my knees" to beg Thompson to take the offered plea deal of 20-to-life. Which Abreu's co-defendants wasted no time doing when they saw what happened to Abreu.
I THINK it absolutely has to be said, and I've said it before, a rural jury, especially a rural jury, is unlikely to be convinced of anything by a mumblingly inarticulate woman dressed as a man. (Can you even imagine a male defense attorney turning up in court in make-up, a mini-skirt, halter top and wedgies?) Life without the possibility of parole was duly imposed, as Abreu's two co-defendant's wisely decided to accept the DA's offer of 20-to-life. One of them, Aaron Channel, has been out for two years, the other one, August Stuckey, still must convince the parole board he's ready to return to Fort Bragg; he's presently undergoing a state-paid sexual reassignment and has not, as inmates say, "programmed well" as a state prisoner.
ABREU has programmed well, extremely well, having racked up a flawless record inside, not to mention completion of numerous college credits and courses. There's no point in keeping him locked up, which DA Eyster has to know, which is probably why Eyster is considering some jive-o constitutional argument rather than re-try Abreu on the known facts of the case.
THE ALLEGATION isn't complicated. Three Fort Bragg kids, all of them under twenty years old, lured a gay guy to FB to rob him. Check that: Defendant Stuckey lured the victim north, a gay man named Donald Perez. Perez had visited Fort Bragg before for a sexual interlude with defendant Stuckey. Abreu and Channel did not know Perez. The robbery occurred on the old haul road about a mile from the Fort Bragg Police Department. Perez, an ex-Marine (!), was over-powered, dragged about fifteen feet off the heavily traveled road, duct-taped to a tree and… was still slumped there between the road and the Noyo River when a friend of the three perps, nearly a month later, went to the police and said, "I think my three idiot friends killed someone." Cause of death could not be determined for a certainty because Perez's remains were too deteriorated to say for sure how he died, but one of the three may have stabbed him in the throat. Who, if I had to guess, would be the sexually confused Stuckey.
IF TWO of the defendants get 20-to-life but the third gets life-without on the same set of facts, where's the justice? In the Abreu case the injustice began with his incompetent, not to say insane, defense. Maybe Eyster's tired of shooting the same old fish-in-a-tiny barrel. Maybe his conjured constitutional argument derives from simple boredom. Whatever the DA is up to it isn't justice.
A BEVY OF MENDO ENVIROS turned at Tuesday’s meeting of the Supervisors to support a proposed “commitment to fight climate change.” Unsurprisingly, nobody expressed opposition to the toothless proposition. Last seen in public protesting the Willits Bypass, the local climate change opposition was armed with high-toned prepared statements and, of course, used their full time allotment to state the obvious. The activists occasionally twinkled in support of each other and in the direction of the Board and, big thinkers that they are, all left the room when regular County business recommenced.
MENDO’S solution to everything — more meetings — will begin April 2 to “maintain the momentum” regarding climate change, presumably less of it. With luck, Mendo will make its “commitment to fighting climate change” a reality before the “village” of Mendocino disappears beneath the rising tides.
CEO Carmel Angelo complained that she and her Board clerks were having trouble keeping up with the flurry of board directives. (There are a dozen or so pending.) Ms. Angelo asked for “patience in getting your directives done.”
AN INTERESTING, at least interesting to us, and unlikely to be raised at a Supervisor’s meeting, is the intriguing fact that Supervisor McCowen subsidizes the somnolent Mendocino Environment Center across the street from the County Courthouse in the form of free rent. Most of the speakers on climate change at last week’s meeting make their headquarters there. The history of that space has been told here before, a history unlikely to be recorded any place but here, in fact, but it can fairly be described as ranging from grisly and ghastly to comic.
SUPERVISOR TED WILLIAMS said he had spent several hours with the County’s IT staff and wants to participate directly in the County’s “IT Master Plan.” Since Supervisor Williams is himself a techno wizard, and the first supervisor in years to ascend the position who came to the job with marketable skills, the Board decided to set up an ad hoc committee on the subject with Williams and Supervisor Dan Gjerde.
WILLIAMS also asked County staff to review hiring practices with an eye toward deleting positions that have gone unfilled for over two years. Nobody had the particulars on Tuesday, but it seems as though Mendo has upwards of 300 vacant positions, perhaps half of which have been vacant for more than two years. The County’s overburdened CEO will somehow find time to ask the Human Resources Department to provide a list for the Board to examine. Leaving the positions unfilled has the management advantage of making the budget look better than the accumulating disaster it is.
WILLIAMS placed an item on Tuesday’s Supes agenda meant to assist indoor pot growers on the Coast who, according to the County’s pot program “sunset clause,” will no longer be allowed to legally grow pot on the Coast in residential areas as of January 1, 2020, even if they've jumped through all the County hoops and paid all County fees and taxes. Williams proposed that a use permit process be developed to allow coastal indoor grows to apply to continue in business after December 31 of this year if they meet whatever conditions imposed on them in the use permit, including adequate responses to neighbor comments.
SUPERVISOR DAN GJERDE was strongly against Williams’ idea, saying the process is the process and the rules are the rules. Supervisor John McCowen said he was also opposed to any kind of countywide use permit process. Supervisor John Haschak said he sympathized with the fog belt mom and pops and suggested stretching the sunset deadline out for a couple more years.
THE COMMENTERS WHO OPPOSED Coast grows mostly agreed with Gjerde, and also cited the crime the industry tends to attract. But the growers strongly argued that it wasn’t fair to force somebody out of legitimate business when they can’t find another place to grow (affordably) and have done everything the County wanted of them to get legal, including security provisions.
IN THE END, the Board decided to send the question to the McCowen-Haschak pot cultivation ad hoc committee to see if they can come up with anything to de-horn the dilemma posed by opposed neighbors vs. long-time growers. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking on several dozen currently legal coastal pot growers who might be forced either into bankruptcy or back into the black market.
“CITY OF UKIAH may put signs, fence around wetlands near Costco — Residents report sensitive area being trampled”
THE ABOVE is a headline over a story by the estimable Justine Frederickson of the Ukiah Daily Journal. I bring it up because, as a member of the Ukiah CostCo, I've been intrigued by the very spot, wondering how it got there. I assumed when the developers were pushing all that dirt around to create their vast parking lot and fuel pumps the corporados inadvertently created this mini-wetlands. If, as alleged, people are tramping through it, which I find hard to believe, anything Ukiah comes up with in the form of "protection" is likely to totally destroy it. As is, it's a welcome visual in that sea of industrial pavement, which definitely won't be enhanced by a chain link fence. Incidentally, on my five visits to the mammoth store, the parking lot has been mostly empty, and I've never seen more than three open checkout stands, none of them with more than two customers in line. Count me among the many people who predicted traffic jams and more chaos on Ukiah's Big Box Lane. Hasn't happened, but then CostCo, so far, doesn't seem to have drawn the predicted swarms of shoppers either. But CostCo has, I’m informed, already garnered something like $2 million in sales tax revenues for the City of Ukiah.
HOMELESS PEOPLE living in RVs have become a crisis across California, from the suburban streets of Los Angeles to Ukiah. The reasons run the gamut from families who can no longer afford their neighborhood but want to keep their children in local schools to working professionals who simply find rents too high. The scale of the situation is so vast that organizations and non-profits such as SafeParkingLA have sprung up to identify and organize safe, guarded lots where homeless people can park their RVs, camper vans and other vehicles while they sleep. The number of homeless living in RVs is disputed, however, because they are often missed in counts, do not access separate homeless services or do not consider themselves homeless.
IN UKIAH, along the industrial frontage road that dead ends in the pleasing California mission architecture of a combined brewery and indoor pot op, and lying between the big and little box stores and the Ukiah airport, there's a half-mile of trailers, motorhomes, and failed shelters of blankets and tarps, a kind of linear, roadside homeless camp. Piles of trash wash away into Doolan Creek, a feeder stream to the perennially fouled Russian River, also beleaguered by the homeless made homeless by their own fecklessness and a huge shortfall in housing. In any weather the area between the big boxes and the air strip is beyond bleak, but in Friday's rain and wind doubly so. But only a mile and a half to the west Ukiah government is warm, dry and highly paid in a re-done, pre-War school house, complete with assigned parking for the town's most important public servants whose work is so important they couldn't possibly find parking on their own. Ukiah probably spends more on the landscaping out in front of their h.q. than they do on practical strategies for reducing the numbers of free range drunks, drug heads, old fashioned bums, and crazy people wandering the town. Local government, up through the county satraps out on Low Gap Road, have garnered literal fortunes in state and federal grants aimed at getting the walking wounded off the streets and permanently settled, managing only to increase that population over the past decade. Enough money has been squandered on reports, consultants, endless donut meetings, and publicly subsidized homeless "programs" to house the entire county's homeless population and all their cousins. How many homeless people in the county? According to the ignored Marbut Report commissioned by the Supervisors, about 400 — 250 in the Ukiah area; 100 in Fort Bragg; 20 in Willits. The problem, as you can see, is beyond solution. (The last sentence was sarcasm. One can’t be too clear in times like these.)
FOR YOUR KARMA FILE: A prominent Italian anti-vax figure was hospitalized with chickenpox earlier this week. Massimiliano Fedriga, who is the president of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region and member of the right-wing Northern League party, revealed he was ill on Twitter. He previously argued against the Lorenzin decree, which made vaccination compulsory for children before they could attend school, back in 2017. At the time, he said that he had his own children vaccinated but believed it should not be forced on to people.
THE NEW ZEALAND shooter's video and "manifesto" made its way to the ava via a cyber-savvy friend. I wanted to see them for myself. The video of the actual shootings captured by the lunatic as he went silently about mass murder isn't as disturbing as I expected it to be. In fact, if I hadn't known what I was looking at I wouldn't have recognized it at first as mass murder. You hear the gunfire, you see the huddled forms on the floor jerk as the bullets hit them. They mostly aren't moving when more rounds strike them. You see the loon's calm hands shoving more magazines into his rifle and then more gunshots into more huddled forms, none of whose faces are visible. No screams, only moaning.
LIKE most non-nazis, I agree with the cyber-gods' decisions to remove both the shooting video and the shooter's "manifesto," and I totally agree with the New Zealand prime minister's decision not to ever speak his name. Should he be allowed to defend himself in court? I'd say No, because his stated reason for mass murder is, as he makes clear in his "manifesto," is the global media opportunity to disseminate his twisted idea that "invaders" are threatening to subsume the white "race." This guy sees himself as a great martyr in the same way ISIS fanatics see themselves as great martyrs. He should be denied his platform as his own attorney.
THE SHOOTER'S "MANIFESTO" is routinely reported as "rambling" and "incoherent." It isn't. It's occasionally repetitive, but it's also terse and to the deluded point. It appears in interview format with the loon interviewing himself:
"WHY DID I DO IT? To most of all show the invaders that our lands will never be their lands, our homelands are our own and that, as long as a white man still lives, they will NEVER conquer our lands and they will never replace our people."
THAT was one reason. Another was, " To take revenge for the enslavement of millions of Europeans taken from their lands by the Islamic slavers. To take revenge on the invaders for the hundreds of thousands of deaths caused by foreign invaders in European lands throughout history." (Which you'd have to go back a very long way in history, and an even longer way to get your crazy self all indignant about.)
“FINALLY,” the killer says, he did it "to create conflict between the two ideologies within the United States on the ownership of firearms in order to further the social, cultural, political and racial divide within the United states. This conflict over the 2nd amendment and the attempted removal of firearms rights will ultimately result in a civil war that will eventually balkanize the US along political, cultural and, most importantly, racial lines. This balkanization of the US will not only result in the racial separation of the people within the United States ensuring the future of the White race on the North American continent, but also ensuring the death of the “melting pot” pipe dream." Etc.
THE KILLER asks himself, "Are you a supporter of Donald Trump? As a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose? Sure. As a policy maker and leader? Dear god no."
TRANSLATION, PLEASE: "Workshops at the Mendocino Coast Writers' Conference are filling up fast, but spots remain in Poetry, Speculative Fiction, Nonfiction, MG/YA, and Emerging Writers, and one coveted seat just opened up in Shobha Rao’s Short Fiction workshop."
I'D GOOGLE "speculative fiction" and MG/YA if I wasn't afraid of what I'd find.
I'VE NEVER earned enough to pay a federal income tax and, in my opinion, I don't earn enough to pay my Boonville property tax of five annual grand, money I scrape together via what other people might consider a life of personal austerity. (The ava pays its bills with little left over. I live on those life-saving socialist programs, medicare and social security.) But tra la la, a walk on the Haul Road on a sunny day is my idea of paradise. And it's free, at least until government figures out how to charge admission. I'd rather go to jail for a month than board a cruise ship. Ditto for excursions to the destroyed land of my birth, Hawaii, or "vacations" anywhere, vehicles more expensive than the Honda Civic, wine costing more than Two Buck Chuck, expensive restaurant meals and so on. My wife mostly agrees, fortunately for me, but more prosperous relatives, aware the poor thing is tethered to a killjoy, fund separate excursions for her. So I just coughed up five g's for my property tax, two-thirds of it chiseled out of credit cards. Every couple of weeks I watch our supervisors and mutter to myself, "I'm helping fund this?" As one of the literal handful of Mendo citizens who pay attention to the county leadership I can say that the recent addition of Ted Williams to the 5th District seat has already brought focus and clarity, to important issues. Whether or not he and his revived colleagues can move that great blob of entrenched bureaucrats to do the public's work remains to be seen.
DEPARTMENT OF COGNITIVE CALAMITY: Trump said Friday as he left to play golf in Florida that Democrats skipping a policy conference on Israel are "anti-Israel" and that their conduct is disgraceful. "The Democrats have very much proven to be anti-Israel. There's no question about that… they are anti-Jewish. I don't know what happened to them."
AND FROM MIKE POMPEO, Secretary of State: “I am confident the Lord is at work here. It’s possible that President Trump is on a mission from God to save Israel from Iran.”
MATT TAIBBI put it best: “It's official: Russiagate is this generation's WMD
The Iraq war faceplant damaged the reputation of the press. Russiagate just destroyed it. "There was never real gray area here. Either Trump is a compromised foreign agent, or he isn’t. If he isn’t, news outlets once again swallowed a massive disinformation campaign, only this error is many orders of magnitude more stupid than any in the recent past, WMD included. Honest reporters like ABC’s Terry Moran understand: Mueller coming back empty-handed on collusion means a “reckoning for the media.” Of course, there won’t be such a reckoning. (There never is). But there should be. We broke every written and unwritten rule in pursuit of this story, starting with the prohibition on reporting things we can’t confirm." …
I'M SURE by now most people know that Larry Baer, the CEO of the Giants baseball team, was in a minor tussle in a public park with his wife over his cell phone, on which we can surmise there was material husband preferred wife not to see. (Watch pro athletes exit their locker rooms sometime and make their way through shoals of bimbos, and Lar spends a lot of time on the road with the ball club.) A video of the Baer incident quickly went viral, but only because he's well known. It shows Baer trying to pry his phone out of his wife's hand when she tumbles over. Baer didn't hit her or shove her or in any way cause his better half to lose her balance, which occurred from what you might call "inadvertent struggle-torque," not violence. Baer almost immediately issued a weasel-lipped statement that the episode did not represent who "he was trying to be." The dude is pushing 60 and should have some idea by now who he is. What he should have said is, "The Misery Lobby is never happier than when they're breaking up families. My wife and I are none of their business." Anyway, the Baers quickly announced there was peace between them, and that all was harmonious in the Baer household. Not good enough, however, for the Madam DeFarges of San Francisco's well-funded domestic violence watchdogs, La Casa de las Madres and the SF Domestic Violence Consortium. They said Baer should be criminally prosecuted. “It was very disturbing and clearly very physically aggressive,” one of them said. Which it emphatically was not as the video clearly shows. In a society where terrible acts of violence against women occur by the thousands every day, one has to wonder how vigilant, how committed to stopping real violence are unhappy women who seize on a non-violent episode between an otherwise agreeable couple as an example of unpunished domestic violence?
I REMEMBER joining the Frisco throngs to protest W. Bush's pretext to what turned out to be the destabilization of the entire world with the ensuing War On Terrorism that the Bush Gang kicked off with their transparent lie that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. I also remember prior to those big demonstrations watching Colin Powell trot that lie out at the United Nations, a lie eagerly promulgated by both liberal and conservative media. The New York Times' Judith Miller beat the drums for that one for weeks, although my late colleague Alexander Cockburn systematically unraveled Miller's lies as they appeared.
THE BI-PARTISAN lying did not occur with Trump's alleged Russian collusion. The rightwing press predictably said it was all bullshit from the outset, well before any investigation. The lib media, again led by the "newspaper of record," has claimed for two years now that the Trump Gang colluded with the Russkies because, Jeez, how else could a preposterous figure like Trump possibly beat such a splendidly "qualified" candidate like our Hillary? Simple, he did it by constantly denigrating media, which has again denigrated itself, not that any American in full possession can take television's talking heads seriously, and not that any alert American reads the New York Times without being on full bullshit alert. The Democrats will swim on after the great white whale in lieu of pursuing ways to make life better for the people they claim to represent.
OFFICIAL MENDO COUNTY just might be the turnover capitol of California. Attorneys come and go with such regularity it's hard to know at any one time who the prosecutors are and who the defenders are. And the County Counsel herself probably has trouble remembering who's working for her among the anonymous drones of the County Admin Building. And not to mention the upper ranks of the County administration. They disappear all the time without explanation. One obvious turnover cause is Mendo's low pay relative to other nearby jurisdictions. Mendocino County's DA pay, for instance, is low comparatively speaking, starting around 60 grand a year, roughly twice that, however, for the average non-civil service worker. Younger people get a little on the job experience then get outta here. The real smart ones — Barry Shapiro of the DA's office comes to mind — are recruited by Sonoma, Marin, or Solano. Factor in the high cost of housing, if you can find it, the negative stimulation of wrap-a-round Ukiah…
ON LINE COMMENTS OF THE WEEK
 I was an engineer in oil & gas. I recently got laid off when prices sank and stayed down. When prices fell, what was once the best job I ever had quickly became the worst job I ever had. At the local bar I hung out at there was a guy who needed help with his blind business. He had once been an auto repair shop manager at the big local dealerships, but he had soured on it and quit. He picked up an Entrepreneur Magazine and looked for the business with the least capital outlay. He picked blinds. All you need was a good drill, a measuring tape, a piece of paper and a pen, and a ladder and you were in business. Ten years later he’s making nearly twice what he made managing the repair shop, he works from 8 -12 noon, has lunch and is through for the day. Needless to say he made more than I did without a college degree, and he worked half the time. A college degree is bullshit. An engineering degree is one of the worst today, because everything is outsourced. Examine the market, fulfill a need, establish a reputation for quality work and solid work ethic, stand behind your work, and you will get rich. A college degree today is often a path to ruin, not to riches. It is the professional equivalent of “Save your money.” When I was a kid if you had $1 million dollars, you put it in CDs and earned 7%. Today you are lucky to get 1%, maybe 1.5%
 The word “fascism,” like everything else in our inverted totalitarianism society today, has flipped its traditional meaning since the last go round 75 years ago. The radical right doesn’t own it anymore, although I will allow for the fact that the right continues to harbor latent, always nearly tangible, fascist tendencies of its own. In the sense that fascism represents a total coagulation of public (corporate) and private entities into one homogenous malignant political and economic mass, then the current western left and right march in jack-booted lockstep. Hardly surprising. Relying on 20th century definitions for 21st century concepts is bound to lead you astray. Words – especially THIS one – have meanings, and we shouldn’t throw them around recklessly.