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Detectives Investigating ‘Suspicious Death’ at Ukiah Apartment Complex This Evening

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[Stock image by Matt LaFever]

What initially was reported as a medical aid call to Ukiah’s Willow Terrace Apartments on East Gobbi Street has proven to be a “suspicious death”, as per Ukiah Police Department’s Lieutenant Andrew Phillips. 

Lieutenant Phillips could not provide any information regarding the decedent, suspects, or the nature of the incident due to the ongoing nature of the investigation. He did tell us UPD became involved in the situation around 1:30 this afternoon after officers were called to the scene of a medical call that paramedics thought “suspicious.”

A review of scanner traffic from the time referenced by Lieutenant Phillips confirms around 1:10 p.m., scanner traffic medical personnel were called on an echo response to the apartment complex, code for imminent death. CPR was reportedly in progress.

Detectives are actively investigating and have cordoned off a small section of the apartment complex on 237 East Gobbi Street while they process the scene. 

Lieutenant Phillips told us that detectives will secure the area overnight as they wait for Department of Justice investigators to assist in the processing of the scene tomorrow.

More information regarding the incident will be released tomorrow, Lieutenant Phillips said.  

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Mendocino County’s Financial Experts Calls Claims of a Financial Crisis a Deflection and Misinformation

[Stock photo by Matt LaFever]

The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors is facing fierce criticism after its unanimous decision last week to send a letter to the state controller, asking for help with the county’s books. “I think we have a financial crisis here, and we just don’t know how bad it is,” said Supervisor Ted Williams, during a discussion about projected cost overruns at the project to build a new jail. But the county’s own financial experts say the real problems are miscommunication, misinformation, and a lack of financial understanding at the leadership level.

On Tuesday afternoon, after last week’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Chamise Cubbison, the newly elected Treasurer-Tax Collector/Auditor-Controller, wrote a letter to the Board, complaining that “there was a lot of misinformation discussed at today’s meeting and no opportunity for rebuttal or open discussion. I would hope the Board would seek information directly before spreading rumors.” She took on Williams’ assertion that he hasn’t been able to get a credible financial report the whole time he’s been in office, writing that the statement that “outside auditor recommendations are being ignored and not implemented is false.” She claims that she had already explained to Williams that the outside auditor makes adjustments to the information depending on where it’s being reported, whether on a financial statement or to the state or federal government.

Former First District Supervisor Carre Brown and Shari Schapmire in the Board of Supervisor Chambers [Pictures provided by Shari herself]

And in an interview, Retired Treasurer Tax-Collector Shari Schapmire said that she believes “the majority of this board is ill-equipped to comprehend the financial complexities that are inherent in the operation of the county.” She added that overall, communication deteriorated during COVID, but she thinks most of the board members “also lack the communication skills to have any dialogue with any staff outside the CEO’s office that may be able to assist them. Right out of the chute, I want to say I do not believe the state controller’s office needs to access the records or clean anything up.”

Asked if she thinks there is a financial crisis, Schapmire said, “Absolutely not…I do not believe there is a financial crisis. I’ve been through a financial crisis. I know what a financial crisis is. And I cannot imagine that we would be there, less than five months after I have retired.” 

She took umbrage at Board comments about a lack of skill in the financial offices, particularly Supervisor Glenn McGourty’s assertion that he supports “a professional financial office, which is what most big organizations have, where you appoint people based on their skill set and a proven track record of handling money well. And if we look back through Mendocino County’s history at the Auditor-Controller and Tax Collector-Treasurer, we don’t see that pattern.” 

Schapmire drew on history to refute the claim, saying, “If you go back a decade ago and look at the financial meltdown, there was an unbelievable effort in place by the CEO, Auditor, Treasurer-Tax Collector, and the sitting Board of Supervisors, all working together to address several financial issues that the county was facing. And despite these claims, this group was extremely qualified to address those catastrophic issues and they were addressed. And I think there absolutely was a proven track record of those individuals that were there at the time, me being one of them. We handled this during the most dire of times. And I think if Supervisor McGourty hasn’t seen this, he wasn’t paying attention the last decade…It almost feels like they have some inadequacies at the Board, and it’s almost like they’re publicly airing irresponsible and inaccurate information because they’re trying to deflect from those inadequacies.”

Chemise Cubbison [Screenshot from a County of Mendocino Board of Supervisors Meeting]

Cubbison emphasized the theme that financial information is available, and laid out some details about a breakdown in communication. She wrote that shortly before his retirement last year, she and former Auditor-Controller Lloyd Weer met with members of the Executive Office fiscal team to discuss the projected deficits in the health plan, which they expected would keep growing. The shortfall in the health plan for fiscal year 2020/2021 was $3.6 million. The projected shortfall this year is another $4 million. 

“It is unfortunate that the CEO’s office and the Health Plan consultants did not sound the alarm sooner on the growing deficit, but that is not because the information was not available,” she wrote. “Mr. Weer and I both believed that the CEO’s office would present the issue during the already scheduled future Board agenda item to go over the Health Plan. We were both surprised that a higher Health Plan contribution rate was not requested at that meeting.”

Schapmire thinks the Board should have allowed the auditor’s office to replace Weer as soon as possible. Leaving the top position vacant for months, and then consolidating the offices of Treasurer-Tax Collector and Auditor-Controller were two decisions that leave her with “very deep concerns.” She also does not have confidence in the fiscal team at the county’s Executive Office. “There is a lot of stuff this financial team doesn’t know anything about, and all those things are going to come up,” she predicted. “Nobody knew what these offices did before they consolidated the positions, and nobody really cared to find out.”

Looking to the future, Schapmire thinks last week’s public stumble could affect the county’s credit rating. At its meeting next week, the Board will discuss how much money it wants to leverage through new bonds to pay for the new jail. “Anytime that you want to issue new debt, a rating agency is going to review the county’s credit rating,” she explained. “And in order to maintain a positive credit rating and receive the best rate, they need to see that there is a stable government. You know, the governing body and the financial leadership team. And I think by saying these kinds of things, and acting like this county doesn’t have a clue what’s going on, I don’t think they understand the consequences of their actions,” she concluded.

Watch the financial discussion here.

Ukiah Man Refuses to Attend Arraignment to be Charged for Murder of One-Year-Old Infant

Edward “Two Feathers” Steele [Mugshot provided by the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office]

Edward “Two Feathers” Steele, the man suspected of abandoning a toddler and an infant along a Ukiah railroad track leading to the death of a one-year-old, has been formally charged with felony murder in the second degree. 

Yesterday, Steele was ordered to stand in front of Mendocino County Superior Court Judge John Behnke who was going to present the charges against him but refused to comply declining to enter the video conference room at the Mendocino County jail used so inmates could remotely attend hearings.

A criminal complaint filed by the Mendocino County District Attorney charges Steel with three criminal counts including felony murder in the second degree. He allegedly “willfully and unlawfully with malice aforethought” killed a one-year-old child, referred to as K.A.

Steele faces two felony charges of child endangerment placing both one-year-old K.A. and two-year-old U.A. in circumstances that would cause great bodily harm “causing the child to suffer unjustifiable physical pain and mental suffering.”

For both counts of felony child endangerment, Steele also faces special allegations of personally inflicting great bodily injury on a child under five years old which acts as an enhancement that could add 4-6 years to a felony case.

A memorial for the young boy allegedly abandoned by Edward “Two Feathers” Steele who would die [Picture by Matt LaFever]

Steele stands accused of abandoning two children on the Ukiah railroad tracks near Brush Street on August 3, 2022. A one-year-old would die and his two-year-old brother would require hospitalization due to heat-related issues. Steele was captured on August 4, 2022, at the Hopland Rancheria after tribal members reported his location to law enforcement.

In California, second-degree murder stands apart from first-degree primarily due to the concept of premeditation. Even if someone intended to kill another during the heat of a moment, that does not mean the crime was planned in advance. Another circumstance that can fall under this auspice is a suspect who demonstrates an extreme indifference to human life. 

Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster filed what is known as a peremptory challenge against Judge Carly Dolan, the judge initially assigned to Steele’s case. He asserts in a document filed with the court that Judge Dolan, “is prejudice against plaintiffs or their attorney or the interests of Plaintiffs or the attorneys so that Plaintiffs cannot or believe they cannot have a fair and impartial trial before such a judge.

It looks as if the court will reattempt Steele’s arraignment tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. Failing to appear at an arraignment could result in a separate felony charge. 


Previous Coverage

Trailer Fire on Ukiah’s Talmage Road Deemed Suspicious and Human-Caused

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Firefighters cutting into the trailer to extinguish the flames [All photographs by Peter Armstrong]

In the pre-dawn darkness of yesterday morning, Ukiah Valley Fire Authority responded to a structure fire on the 400 block of Talmage Road. Upon arrival around 4:30 a.m., they found a commercial trailer engulfed in flames. Firefighters knocked the flames back quickly before spreading to a nearby building.

UVFA Battalion Chief Eric Singleton told us that investigators have ruled out all ignition sources other than the fire being “human-caused” and “suspicious.”

This suspicious fire comes just three weeks after another fire identified as suspicious in nature destroyed two vehicles on the same block of Talmage Road. Battalion Chief Singleton told us “we are not connecting the fires at this time”, but confirmed they occurred in close proximity to one another.

More broadly, Battalion Chief Singleton said the Ukiah Valley has been experiencing an unusually high number of human-caused and malicious fires. “Our numbers are a lot higher than other areas,” he told us. This trend is concerning in our drought-stricken region and fire-ready vegetation. 

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Firefighters saturating the structure fire with water

Investigators are asking if anyone witnessed the fire or has surveillance footage/information about the circumstances surrounding it, reach out to the Ukiah Valley Fire Authority at (707) 462-7921

Drink Wine and Learn the Latest Research on Breast Cancer—August 22 in Fort Bragg

When:  11 to 2, Monday, August 22, 2022

Where: Pacific Star Winery, 33000 N Highway 1, 12 miles north of Fort Bragg at the 73.58 mile marker

Details:

Event is free to everyone, RSVP please: sallysocean@gmail.com

Retro Wagon Food Truck available for lunch purchases

Wine Tasting – Donations will benefit our local Cancer Resource Center


Editor’s Note

If you would like us to share your event, email us the following information at matthewplafever@gmail.com:

  • Include a poster/flyer/image related to the event.
  • Make sure you answer basic questions expected for an event: Who is organizing the event? What is the event? When is it? Where is it? Price? A contact person/phone/email for the event.
  • Preferably, accompany your image/poster with a promotional blurb.
  • Put it in an email and send it to matthewplafever@gmail.com.

Traffic Snarl on Highway 101 North of Willits After Single-Vehicle Collision

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Scanner traffic and the California Highway Patrol Traffic Incident Information indicate Highway 101 is plugged up north of Willits near Shimmin’s Ridge after a vehicle plowed into a utility pole reportedly causing critical injuries for the driver.

The accident was first reported at 10:38 a.m. when a single vehicle reportedly rolled over, collided with the utility pole, and fell utility lines. The driver reportedly suffered critical injuries.


Please remember that this story is unfolding. Information is being reported as we gather it. However, some of the information coming from witnesses and initial official reports could be wrong. We will do our best to get the facts but, in the case that something is inaccurate, we will update with correct information as soon as we can.


Willits Shooting, Pursuit, and Subsequent Manhunt Nets Five Suspects, Says CHP

The following is a press release issued by the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office The information has not been proven in a court of law and any individuals described should be presumed innocent until proven guilty:


(From Left to Right) Dan Judd, John Raphael Brown, Dialan Blanchard, Lazente Dondreze Wallace, Jaqaveious Jashune Collins [All mugshots provided by the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Booking Logs]

On 08/05/2022, at approximately 2056 hours, CHP was notified of a shooting victim in the area of US 101 and West Rd, The victim’s Ford Expedition was struck by gunfire and disabled. The victim was not injured and reported that 3 subjects ran from his vehicle after the shooting. It was determined that the victim and the occupants, along with a Cadillac Escalade, had been at a location in Willits prior to the shooting. An altercation ensued and the two vehicles fled the location and were followed by several other vehicles. One of the occupants of a pursuing vehicle discharged a firearm, The Expedition was then struck by gunfire and became disabled, blocking the number 2 lane of US 101, southbound. The victim remained with the vehicle while the three occupants fled in a westbound direction. The Escalade also fled the area. The Escalade was later located in Hopland on a tow truck. Two subjects (Wallace and Blanchard) associated with the Escalade were located and found to each be in possession of a handgun. They were also found to be in possession of a large amount of processed marijuana and US currency. The three subjects who fled the Expedition were later located in the area of Uva Drive, The three subjects (Collins, Judd and Brown) were transported to the CHP office for questioning. All 5 subjects were arrested and booked into the Mendocino County Jail, in Ukiah, Fortụnately nobody was struck by gunfire. CHP is currently working with the Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force and the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office to identify the shooting suspect. The investigation is ongoing and several leads are being pursued. Any information is regards to this incident can be directed to the Ukiah CHP Office at (707) 467-4420.

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Previous Coverage

Mother in Critical Condition—Infant Uninjured—Lakeport Man Booked for DUI After Ukiah Fairgrounds Collision

German Dominguez Galindo [Mugshot from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Booking Logs]

A Lake County man finds himself behind the bars of the Mendocino County Jail this morning booked for felony driving under the influence causing bodily injuries for his alleged role in the Ukiah vehicle versus pedestrian accident that has left a woman in critical condition.

Ukiah Police Department Lieutenant Thomas Corning told us that 33-year-old Lakeport man German Dominguez Galindo was driving southbound on North State Street when he struck “the female victim and her infant child” as they were crossing the street reportedly outside of a crosswalk.

Lieutenant Corning said witnesses “observed the driver of the vehicle speed up for unknown reasons.”

Officers investigating the scene last night [Photograph by DJ Ken Steely]

As a result of the collision, the mother was flown to an out-of-county hospital and is currently in critical condition. The infant was not injured and was released from a local hospital after being examined.

Despite initial reports from the scene, Galindo did not leave the scene of the accident. Upon making contact with Galindo, officers believed him to be under the influence and subsequently booked him in the Mendocino County jail.

Lieutenant Corning said the investigation is ongoing and “the suspect is pending more criminal charges depending on the condition of the mother.”

Remember, any charges associated with this incident have not been proven in a court of law and the details of the incident are still being sorted out. In accordance with the legal principle of the presumption of innocence, any individual described should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.


Previous Coverage

Humpback Whales Breach Off the Mendocino County Coast—A Dispatch from Mendonoma

The following is an article written by Jeanne Jackson for her blog Mendonoma Sightings where she documents the wildlife, the land, and the waters of our coast.


Two Humpbacks Breaching simultaneously off the coast North of Gualala [Picture taken by John Batchelder]

John and Janice Batchelder spotted whales off of The Sea Ranch. John wrote, “On Thursday afternoon Janice noticed all the humpback whales working their way north. They were lots of them, and that’s something we haven’t seen for a while. As I tried to capture a few pictures she pointed out that I was missing all the breaching whales, which for a while, were everywhere I wasn’t shooting. I did finally get a few shots and I have attached one for your use showing two humpback whales breaching simultaneously. It is evidence of all the activity we were able to enjoy.”

What a great photo! Humpbacks were seen today north of Gualala.

Thanks to John for allowing me to share his photo with you here.

Sunny, cool and calm today…the ocean is flat like a calm lake!


How Can You Support the Efforts of Mendonoma Sightings?

  • Buy Jeanne Jackson’s book Mendonoma Sightings Throughout the Year here. The 270-page, full-color documentation of our coast’s beauty would make for a great gift or coffee table conversation piece.
  • Jeanne Jackson has also written two children’s books: Sunny Loves Spring on the California Coast and Sunny Loves Summer on the California Coast. These playful children’s books were written to instill within children a love of nature. Jackson will be publishing the other two seasons this year. Those books can be purchased at http://sunnylovesnature.com/
  • Check out Craig Tooley’s incredible photography of our coastline here. Buy some prints of his photos, get them framed, and bring the Mendonoma coast home.
  • “Follow” and “Like” the Mendonoma Sightings Throughout the Year Facebook page for direct access to Jackson’s dispatches of life on Mendonoma.
  • If you have your own Mendonoma Sighting, contact Jeanne Jackson at mendonomasightings@gmail.com to submit your narrative and photograph so she can document the experience.

The Redwood Empire Fair Comes to Town

Screaming while upside down [Picture by Matt LaFever]

Thousands descended on the Redwood Empire Fairgrounds this weekend for the annual Redwood Empire Fair. Laughter, fried Twinkies, screams of delight, roars of monster trucks, the staccato speech of the auctioneer- Mendocino County can sure put on a helluva fair.

The 2022 Redwood Empire Fair Junior Livestock Auction brought in over $1 million honoring the work of local young farmers. Horticulturists, quilters, and artists got the opportunity to show off their talents. Young women dominated the Fair Market Steer awards.

All in all, this year’s fair marks the close of summer, the transition to autumn, and an important coming together for Mendocino County kept apart by the pandemic.


An FFA student prepping her cow for auction [Picture by Peter Armstrong]

The bright lights and happy screams of an evening at the Redwood Empire Fire [Picture by Matt LaFever]

Jeremy the Juggler doing what he does best [Picture by Peter Armstrong]

A wall of prizes, a family waits for a ride, a ride operator amidst the glee [Picture by Matt LaFever]

The neon chaos of a ride as passengers gleefully scream within [Picture by Peter Armstrong]
A gal and her goat prepare for auction [Picture by Peter Armstrong]

The Day-Glo colors of the fair after nightfall [Picture by Matt LaFever]
A pig prepped for auction and its owner smiling on the big day [Picture by Peter Armstrong]

The timeless simplicty of the ferris wheel [Picture by Matt LaFever]

ImPRESSED: A Celebration of Printmaking—New Exhibit Opening at Mendocino County Museum

The following is a press release issued by the County of Mendocino:


[Flyer from the County of Mendocino]

Showing August 12 – September 25, 2022, ImPRESSED celebrates the art of printmaking and community. Prints from local artists, both contemporary and beloved, will come together to inspire an appreciation for the fine art of printmaking, while offering a warm invitation to try your hand at becoming a printmaker!

From the Museum’s collection, prints from the co-founder of Mendocino Art Center Bill Zacha, notable Bay Area artist Henry Evans, artist and local activist Emmy Lou Packard, and cherished Mendocino College art professor Paula Gray will grace the walls of the Long Gallery.

Alongside these favorites, contemporary works from artists: Kristin Hock, Mike Barnes, Jerry Turner, and Jackson Deyerle of Ft. Bragg’s Art Explorers will also be displayed. Through art and writing these artists share their insights about creativity and ‘explore’ the importance of making art as a community.

A print maker in action [Photo from the County of Mendocino]

The Mendocino County Museum is excited to host community art educator Miss Rossi, who will lead introductory classes in linoleum block printing. This program is designed for ages 10 and over, and advance sign up is required. The Museum’s Interactive Room will be open as a drop-in space for anyone wishing to continue working on a block begun during an Intro to Printmaking workshop.

Last but certainly not least, The Roots of Motive Power invites the community to have linocut blocks printed by their Buffalo Springfield roller during their 40th Annual Steam Festival September 10 – 11. Community members can bring finished blocks or create one during the event at Recreation Grove Park. Printmaking will be 11:00-3:00 Saturday and Sunday. Drop in printmaking on site sponsored by the Roots of Motive Power.

 Exhibit Program Calendar

  •  History Makers: Printmaking – DIY Printmaking – Free w/Admission – 1st Sat. and every Wed. in August 1:00 – 3:00 pm
  • Intro to Printmaking with Miss Rossi – Basic Linocut – $7 material fee, age 10+, registration required – Friday, August 12, 2022, 1:00 – 2:00 pm
  • ImPRESSED Exhibit Opens – Standard Admission Fees – Saturday, August 13, 2022, 12:00 – 4:00 pm
  • Drop-in Linoleum Block Workspace – Included w/Intro to Printmaking – Every Sat. August 13 – September 3, 2022, 12:00 – 3:30 pm
  • Intro to Printmaking with Miss Rossi – Basic Linocut – $7 material fee, age 10+, registration required – Friday, August 19, 2022, 1:00 – 2:00 pm
  • Intro to Printmaking with Miss Rossi – Basic Linocut – $7 material fee, age 10+, registration required – Saturday, August 27, 2022, 5:00 – 8:00 pm
  • Roots of Motive Power 40th Annual Steam Festival – Sat. September 10 & Sun. September 11, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm – Museum Open 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

For more information about our exhibits or programs, please visit http://www.mendocinocounty.org/museum or contact the Mendocino County Museum at museum@mendocinocounty.org or 707-459-2736.