Well Prepared for the Trump Era

When I moved to Lake County in 2002 little did I know that I was going to undergo a rigorous conditioning to living under a fascist regime. While the 2016 Election left millions of people dazed and bewildered, I looked at the horror unfolding and could only see that the Nation had caught up with Lake County reality. There are several elements to this reality. If I thought deep down most of the Trump vote was anything more than fear and ignorant rage I would not bother writing this.

I happen to like details, check facts, and I follow thru. This made me immediately suspect to the self serving paranoids that ruled the backwater of Lake County. The first thing I learned is that “the public” does not include me. A full description for “the public” in this former frontier of Napa County is “the old landed families”, the real estate industry, right wing fundamentalists, retired police, corrupt civil servants, opportunists pitching Lake County’s low development requirements to out of County interests, and small town, small minded, mean spirited Republican business men who would never survive in a dynamic market environment.

People who find themselves stuck here, but are not members of the club, are only valued if they have brought money with them that can be siphoned off by the tight knit cabal of reactionaries to keep the black heart of the past beating on. The poorer sorts who retreated here from more expensive areas are alternately vilified as the reason progress has bypassed Lake County and exploited as State and Federal grant bait. This grant money is either used to hire more do nothing cronies and unemployable relatives or used for programs that attack people in a class war that the money was supposed to help.

Those who meet in the usual gatherings for “the right kind of people” to hatch schemes for excluding or crushing “the wrong kind of people” are found even in decent localities. Only in Lake County it is all out in the open, for all to see, with neither shame or denial – just like Donald Trump. There are no cover stories, rationalizations, or excuses. The law is not important except when it benefits the right kind of people or some fancy lawyer gets involved to muck things up. Coalitions of diverse interests and future thinking are strategies for losers.

Remember, Lake County was the scene of the Dinius trial that caused a National sensation, resulting in the ouster of both the District Attorney and the Sheriff. Fast boats, corruption, and death on the water. Its only a matter of time before Clear Lake gets their big Hollywood movie. The Chamber won’t like it.

Myself, I’ve experienced numerous instances of freedom of speech and search warrant violations. But so have many other residents. Even in the 21st Century reefer madness still justifies the most absurd and egregious assaults on our civil liberties in the land of Clear Lake. In the rare instance where someone can get a lawyer, and of course win the case, the attitude is “So what. The taxpayers will pay for it.”  No actual presence of devil weed is seen as necessary. They are on a mission from God who over rides the Supreme Court.

My first experience as the subject of civic minded mob action was when I decided to produce a video parody of local politics for the public access station. I was not considered part of “the public.” The City Manager of Clearlake was outraged. When it leaked out what I was planning the former Chamber head and a right wing minister organized a howling mob of their buddies, retired policemen running for local office, businessmen, even one of the founders of Clearlake to storm the  PEG meeting to intimidate me. The Chamber guy kept saying he wanted to punch me out. I challenged him to a chess game. He declined.

After years of attacks on the station everyone was finally driven off, leaving TV8 nothing more than a government channel with some internet filler. But all three governments still use its public forum status to extort money from cable users as a fee for public access. No shame. No shame whatsoever. And why should there be? After all, they are the right kind of people taking from the wrong kind of people, like me and you. When people like Trump aren’t born rich they are called bullies or thugs. To me, Trump is just one of these Lake County goons in a better suit with bigger guns.

As someone who has made a habit of showing up to places I’m not supposed to be at and reading documents I’m not supposed to read, I understood the Trump mindset right from the beginning. I see millions wringing their hands in disbelief that the short sighted, unapologetic arrogance I experience on a local level is now on display in the Presidency for the World to see. I had hoped that after another generation of goobers had died off Lake County would finally join the civilized world. Instead I find that the Nation has decided to become Lake County. It won’t be pretty but I’ve seen it all before.

Pot, Police, and Pirates

Beware of getting news from articles that only quote the police. In the March 25 Lakeco News there was an article about the first big bust under Clearlake’s new marijuana regulations. The problem is one fact is wrong and the interesting half of the story is missing. The police embellishment about all the alarms at the grow is a lie. The alarms are all on my property 4 parcels away from the grow. I marked off the distance to the grow to look up the street number. No alarms went off as I got near the grow’s fence.

There was indeed a marijuana grow on 6089 and 6109 Vallejo in Clearlake. Ho hum, it happens all the time. But Officer Celli did not mention that the big bust swept far beyond the scope of the newly fenced in compound, and I’m certain, the narrow confines of their search warrant. Specifically, the police bounced over three heavily wooded lots and continued their eradication mission uphill to my knoll, starting with 15787 Yankee and 6009 Vallejo. But there was nothing to eradicate at this second location. That is because this is where I have been building experimental video and theater sets for nearly 20 years. I’m also creating a research library in a cargo container, which doubles as a video set.

Before I arrived on my knoll the officers apparently got bored with the professionally fenced in yard and turned their attention on the interlocked Manzanita branch barricade and heavy steel no trespassing sign at my entrance. One officer confided in me that they thought a branch barricade is typical of marijuana grows which is why they unceremoniously tore it down, breaking the interlocking structure.

Of course, a Manzanita branch barricade could also be the product of artistic sensibilities and having been the victim of 16 devastating burglaries and numerous perimeter penetrations on foot and dirt bike. But the police were not thinking anything except marijuana on this day and were not taking the time to learn that this was the very same site they had been to on numerous occasions in 2010 on harassment sorties directed by City Hall. They were on a roll…or is it a frenzy. It must be a frenzy because they tore out my driveway alarm and it disappeared.

When I rode up on my bicycle before work the police were staged on my neighbor’s illegal dump site. They were naturally curious who I was. I gave them my ID and answered all their questions. Why not? I figured they were there about the grow 4 lots downhill from my knoll. If I had known they had already ransacked my property, soiled props, and impounded my dog Ruby from her run I would not have been so friendly and cooperative. In the course of our conversation when they realized I was not a pot grower and had intelligence equal to the entire Clearlake Police Department they admitted they “moved” some of my upper perimeter barriers. For reasons that totally baffled me, the more serious cop seemed annoyed that I even had any kind of intrusion deterrent.

I left Clearlake’s finest to survey my now ignored knoll. It was a mess. Theater hats were thrown around and storage bins left open. I noticed one hat from a set of pirate hats in a bush. Then I realized that Ruby was gone. Did she break her chain defending her territory? Did the police shoot her but not tell me to maximize my cooperation? A two page notice from animal control was posted – “protective custody”, Section blah blah “mandatory spay”, Section blah blah “rabies shot”. Bullshit! She’s been spayed and has a current rabies shot. And who is being protected from who? I’m going to have to rescue Ruby tomorrow from her alien abductors. Today I have to go to work driving a bus.

I wonder if it occurred to any of these mental giants that with my barricades torn down, alarms stolen, and guard dog impounded my property is now completely vulnerable in one of the highest crime areas in Clearlake. As I went by the damaged Manzanita I spotted another one of my pirate hats on a branch. Why is it down here? I push my bike by the dump site and there’s three more pirate hats in a garbage pile. Nothing else from the knoll, just my pirate hats. I asked the cops, “Why are these here?” They just said, “Take them.” The serious cop walked off. I told the younger cop, “I’m on a mandatory 6 day work week due to driver shortage. I don’t have time for all this.”

I worked my shift very distracted. Is my dog suffering? And what were the police doing with all my pirate hats? Were they milking the clock playing pirate with my hats? After work I called my girl friend Lorna about my police invasion and Ruby’s abduction. She offered to come by in the morning. We didn’t know what documents animal control would require to release my dog. I went to the vet to get copies of her records. I knew where the dogs are held but where is the person in charge? We stopped in for coffee and a policeman in line offered to call animal control. No one answered but he was sure he saw her earlier at City Hall.

I called on the phone outside of the police department. Two women came out. The one in charge generously offered to wave the 50 dollar abduction fee and would call the kennel keeper to release Ruby. The boss’s back-up said another reason they came on my property was because I was uphill from the grow area so I must be a look-out. What?!! I’m a suspect because of something going on 200 feet downhill from my property? Are properties uphill from me responsible for what I do deep in the brush?

Oh yes, and she brought up the barricade again. I said, “Look, the reason it looks like a white supremacist compound is because I keep on getting hit again and again. And I’m planning to do a lot more starting with trail cameras that I bought.” If nothing else, next time it should keep the cops from mincing around in my pirate hats while they make each other walk the plank. Unless of course they steal the cameras.

We picked up Ruby at the lock down and Ruby squealed with delight. Lorna got us home and I got to work. It was another distracted day but not as distracted as the day before. I feel violated. I want some answers. And I want to see some paperwork from the Chief of Police. Anyone know a good 4th Amendment lawyer?

Report From Driver 39

A personal account of the struggle between Lake County bus drivers and Paratransit Services.
The video includes clips from a Transit Authority meeting, a KPFZ radio show, and news coverage by Shannon Nailor.

Press Democrat 4th Estate Sale

by Dante DeAmicis

The obit for the dead tree media read, “Lake County Transit Workers Call Off Strike” by Glenda Anderson, August 15, 2013. My name is Dante DeAmicis. I have been substituting for Herb Gura’s Law Show for the last two weeks. My two main topics have been the local transit strike and the lack of critical media at the local level.

The Press Democrat’s article on the end of the transit strike has provided me with an excellent example of the latter issue. A critical reporter would have asked chief operating officer Christie Scheffer, why is service not being restored on the next day? I doubt you would have gotten a meaningful answer from Paratransit Services.

A critical reporter would have then sought another knowledgeable source and learned that Paratransit’s emergency plan, approved by Lake County Transit Authority, called for resuming full service in two phases. Paratransit was short two replacement drivers from their hasty training program, requiring them to take back the two senior Union drivers to implement Phase 1.

Full service could have been resumed immediately by simply declaring the emergency plan now null and void. All slots remaining in Phase 2 to restore service could have been filled by the old drivers immediately. Instead, Paratransit was allowed to pretend that the emergency was ongoing and continue to train every replacement employee that made it through the door. This was done for reasons that had nothing to do with getting the buses running at full strength. This could have been done the next day if they simply acknowledged that the strike was over. I repeat: Every single bus route run that did not operate after August 16th was 100% due to Paratransit malfeasance.

Finally, a critical reporter would then have asked for examples of the “variety of issues” that Paratransit was working out over the 5-day legal maximum. A good redirect might be “What situations are those 5 days meant for and is Paratransit using that grace period for those reasons?” If the same question was then asked of the Union drivers, the Press Democrat’s ace reporter would have heard that Paratransit is misusing an unneeded reorganizational period to shoot as many wounded and strip as many dead as time allows.

Here’s some illuminating analogies to illustrate how ridiculous Paratransit’s unquestioned statements look to a critical person:

* If someone was qualified to give First Aid to an accident victim and a doctor arrived soon after, would the First Aid responder be justified in not letting the responding doctor take over because they have started First Aid?

 * Say a mudslide completely closed a freeway and the highway department temporarily allowed traffic to detour around the slide on a nearby creek bottom. Should the highway department allow this practice after the slide is cleared because off road yahoos prefer to tear up the waterway?

 * And lastly, pay attention to this one, what if a developer with government contracts was told a new heritage oak ordinance was taking effect in 5 days, and he used those 5 days to hire 30 day laborers in town with chain saws to cut down every big tree on properties he controlled? Should the local government give the waste maker more of the people’s money? `

Once again, I thank the Press Democrat for providing a shining example of why community radio and local activist blogs are the survivors of and successors to our late great newspapers.

Report from Driver 39

By Dante DeAmicis

 This just in from the Lake Transit Economics Department: Lower Wages are good for Lake County. On September 1st we will know how many 11 to 12 dollar an hour drivers have been axed for $10.48 an hour replacement drivers. Inquiring minds want to know, “How is paying lower wages going to help Lake County?” Its simple, by making it harder for people here who have to work for a living we will be encouraging these people to leave and be replaced by bon vivants who have independent means, preferably from Napa. This follows the real estate credo: “The only good buck is a fast buck.” No doubt the Transit Authority knows where their bread is buttered and has signed on to policies that have made Lake County the booming metropolis that it is today.

 There will probably be a net increase in that high-roller EDD money pouring into the County. Since the State is struggling to stay afloat, it makes sense to the goober brain trust to get as many people on unemployment as we can while the money is still there. The strategy of replacing working people with recipients of meager unemployment checks is related to General Cornwallis’ tactic of firing cannon on his own troops during the American Revolution. Not only did it ensure a win, it cut down on food costs.

 Many non bus riders have had a hard time wrapping their mind around transit issues except when someone puts a bus stop sign in front of their house and Jesus tells them to take a hacksaw to it. The problem is that Transit Authority meetings lack the entertainment value of a Clearlake City Council meeting. News coverage about buses is a total snoozer.

 First off, taking a Paratransit guy from Washington and a Teamster guy from the Bay Area does not make them interesting just because you put them in Lake County, churning out official statements. Instead, I recommend that local media ignore the suits and focus on Operations Manager Wanda Gray and senior driver and organizer April Allen. If there’s going to be a fight, we want it to be an all local, high-powered bitch fight. Randy and Ralph look terrible on video.

 Next, since the the TA is where the big money is, the meetings have an obligation to be exciting since money is supposed to be exciting. Oh, Board Member Chuck Leonard does what he can with his rabid anti-unionism and open disgust with poor people in general. But one man can only do so much without a foil. There are two at-large seats on the Board. I certainly wouldn’t advocate replacing Chuck for the frivolous reason that he only represents the upper crust of Lake County’s day-old bakery. No, since its all about entertainment I recommend replacing the other at-large Member with a slogan chanting union goon. Someone like former union organizer Tim Williams might create some sparks with the old union buster.

 Have we forgotten anything? Oh yes, the children. There is an educational opportunity here to include them in the controversy. We just might have the local equivalent of Jeff Foxworthy’s “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?” The “Are You Smarter than a Bus Rider” version would feature local elementary school kids pitted against Paratransit business wonks. These are the guys who said 2 out of 39 was “.05%.” Second guess: “Well, not even 1%, no wait, I’d like to buy an exclamation point.”

 I hope the kids don’t humiliate them too badly.