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Off The Record

SUSAN KEEGAN'S highly suspicious death at her Ukiah home back on November 11th, continues to shock her many friends, and those many friends seem to have exerted sufficient pressure on the County's justice apparatus that that apparatus seems to have been persuaded to give the matter a close second look.  Please excuse the vague qualifier “seems,” but in the absence of status reports from the authorities we cannot know for sure how seriously the police are looking at Susan's sudden passing. What the police do say is that they're waiting for a complete toxicology report. That report, in most deaths, comes back in a month. We're more than four months from Susan's death. The delay in the toxicology analysis of her remains would seem to mean that the police, pressured by Susan's closest friends, sent the first report back to the lab with an admonition to take another look. “We're still waiting for the rest of it.”  That's all Sgt. Poma of the Sheriff's Department would say when Poma was reached   by telephone Monday at the County Coroner's Office.

THE WIFE of Dr. Peter Keegan, a well-known marijuana advocate, and lately a staff doctor at the clinic in Covelo, the Keegans, who'd been married for 32 years, were in the process of breaking up. It was Peter Keegan who wanted the divorce. Their estrangement, Susan told close friends, was not going well then, sometime after 10pm the night of November 11th, allegedly drunk and under the influence of sedative-like pills, she fell, hit her head and died, age 55. There are huge problems with this scenario, beginning with Susan's alleged dipsomania. If she was a drunk none of her closest friends knew it, and how many drunks do you know who can fake sobriety for any length of time? Susan was always active in the community, most recently with the Ukiah Players, none of whom noticed anything but the usual Susan — steady and reliable. Next week's paper will tell the full story which, at this point, mostly consists of questions, but I doubt anybody will be able to say they're not the right questions.

SUPERIOR COURT JUDGE Ron Brown, suffering from cancer, announced Monday that he was retiring. Brown was elected judge in 1997. He'd previously functioned as a deputy DA and Mendocino County Public Defender.

FORT BRAGG and big city-style gang banging don't quite compute with most of us, but that horrific hatchet attack last week in downtown FB was, as the police say, “gang related.” As several junior gang punks milled aimlessly around last Wednesday afternoon near the intersection of Harold and Maple, they began urging a pair of young Fort Bragg women to fight.

And soon Ms. Maricruz Yesenia Alvarez, 21, had emerged from her vehicle brandishing a hatchet. Ms. Alvarez swung the implement at one of the males taunting her when that male's girl friend, Ms. Alissa Colberg, 18, interposed herself between her man and the hatchet-wielding Ms. Alvarez. Ms. Colberg sustained what the police described as “severe cuts” to her chest and face, but was released later that night from Coast Hospital where she'd been taken to get stitched up. Ms. Alvarez was soon arrested and her two-month-old baby was turned over to Child Protective Services. Insiders say that there are at least two ex-cons in Fort Bragg who recruit youngsters to the gang life. “They stir the pot constantly, getting kids into this crap, directing kids to attack other kids and so on. The cops are on to them, and maybe we can get them permanently out of here, but for now it's not a good situation.” Later that same evening, another “gang related” mele took place on Franklin, with a lot of the same mopes involved as had distinguished themselves in the earlier hatchet event.

THE CITY OF UKIAH has hired as its Finance Director a fellow named Ian Roth. Mr. Roth, trained as an architect, was fired by the City of Fairfax as its Finance Director when outside auditors confirmed that Mr. Roth didn't have the foggiest about civic finance. Fairfax is still digging itself out of the fiscal hole Mr. Roth dug them into. What Mr. Roth was good at was riding his bicycle. He often appeared at work in full lycra, mesmerizing the incompetent female city manager who hired him, and just as often disappeared from work for three hour bike rides in the middle of the work day. Apparently no one at Ukiah City Hall checked this guy's bona fides which, of course, is in the Mendocino County tradition, where everyone is whatever they say they are, and history starts all over again every day.

IF IT'S BEEN reported anywhere else, the report somehow eluded this newspaper's hawk-eyed notice, but our North County informants tell us that this year's salmon run on the Middle Fork Eel was the best in fifty years.

MAN BEATER of the week honors go to Ms. Stephanie Green, 21, of Ukiah. Stephanie is 5'7” and comes in at 165, meaning pretty good heft if she gets all of herself into the punch. But come on, does she look like she just slugged it out with her guy? Judged solely from her slightly enigmatic smile which, to us, reads, “Yeah. I'm here for this, but what was it? That? He called the cops on me for that?” Bailiff, help Ms. Green down from the dock. Stephanie, you are free, my child.

CONGRESSMAN THOMPSON. SIGH. Does anyone expect anything sensible out of him ever? On his flying visit to Ukiah a couple of weeks ago at the convenient hour of 10am, at least two hours before OTG Johnson and the other four or five inland dissidents have rolled out of their hemp-lined bowers, fired up their first doobies and shuffled off to the Mendocino Environment Center for another day of jabbering incoherently at one another, the soporific solon got off one highly outrageous statement: “I don't like the fact that my health care coverage and my taxes are higher just because some people choose not to get health care.” This one's right up there with that 18th century French babe's remark advising food-challenged Frogs to eat sawdust cake. The Frogs took her head off for that one and other extreme provocations. US? We just take it.

FIRST OFF, Thompson gets tax-paid health care that probably pays someone to pull the corks out of wine bottles for him to spare him karpal tunnel strain. Second, in his income bracket he probably doesn't pay taxes, what with the ag write-offs he gets for his vineyard and all those other write-offs he can claim as “at work” as he travels around hiding from his constituents; Third, the ObamaCare Thompson voted for and thinks is just swell for the rest of us, boils down to many millions in windfall profits for the insurance combines into which the uninsured will be forced whether they can afford it or not, and Fourth; people “refuse” to buy health insurance because they don't have the four to five hundred bucks a month ObamaCare will cost them.

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