My, oh, my, how the mighty have fallen!
Chances are the Red, White and Blueprint project wouldn’t exist if Palo Cedro restaurateur and RW&B co-producer Carlos Zapata’s seditious rant before the Shasta County Board of Supervisors hadn’t gone viral last August. Zapata no doubt envisioned a more central role for himself in the 10-episode RW&B docuseries, but after allegedly throwing a drink in Nathan Pinkney’s face on May 4, Zapata has found himself benched.
Billed as a “blueprint” for other counties to follow, the RW&B docuseries is actually a thinly disguised political advertisement supporting the recall of three conservative Republican Shasta County supervisors, ostensibly for following the state’s COVID-19 precautions during the pandemic. RW&B’s fundraising activities are currently being investigated by the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission.
On June 28, Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett charged Zapata with battery and disturbing the peace for his alleged assault on Pinkney. Zapata began threatening Pinkney, aka Nathan Blaze, Nathan the Creator, etc. after the local online comedian posted a series of videos and memes several months ago that satirized RW&B and Zapata. Pinkney also sought and secured a temporary restraining order against Zapata.
Meanwhile, Episode 4 of RW&B, titled “Heat,” premiered June 25 and finds Zapata already keeping a lower profile, hiding behind shades and a 5-o’clock shadow, driving a side-by-side in a slow-motion horde of dogs, horses, quads and dirt bikes charging Mad Max-like across the Millville plain, American flags flapping and snapping in the breeze.
(7-8-2021 Correction: A commenter who identified himself as Chuck Wicks wrote on 7-7-2021: “Carlos wasn’t driving a side by side because he wasn’t even there. The picture you have posted is of me driving my side by side.”)
It’s the last we’ll see of Zapata in this episode, which, after the putative redneck rave scene, opens at Cottonwood Militia leader Woody Clendenen’s Cottonwood Barbershop. Here we learn that RW&B executive producer Jon Knight’s wife doesn’t keep his balls in her purse (yeah, right). These are the sort of countrified homilies we’ve come to expect at Woody’s musky lodge.
Episode 4’s title “Heat” refers to the recent Shasta County Grand Jury finding that Shasta County District 2 Supervisor Leonard Moty committed misfeasance of office in 2018 during the Carr Fire. Moty used his elevated stature as supervisor and former Redding Police Chief to cross closed evacuation lines and fill up the gas-fueled generator powering his home.
The RW&B documentarians were filming in council chambers when Moty fell on his sword and voted to censure himself for his transgression. District 1 Supervisor Joe Chimenti and District 3 Supervisor Mary Rickert, who have been targeted for recall along with Moty, also voted to censure Moty.
As the RW&B cameras recorded away, District 5 Supervisor Les Baugh, no stranger to pulling stunts in the chamber, read a letter from former sheriff Tom Bosenko that claimed Moty’s gaff went far beyond the Grand Jury’s report. The letter also mentioned former Sheriff Eric Magrini, who recently stepped out of the sheriff’s job and into the assistant county CEO position after receiving a no-confidence vote from his deputies.
I could be wrong, but the vibe in the chamber didn’t seem to favor Baugh, who accused Moty of malfeasance and called for him to step down. When Rickert called Baugh’s stunt out as “bullshit,” the audience sounded like it agreed with her.
Also in Episode 4 we’re treated to a parade of precocious grade schoolers screeching anti-mask slogans taught to them by their abusive parents at various school board meetings across the country. Then local nurse and recall supporter Beth Watt explains that her own children missing out on school, and sports was the No.1 reason she began speaking out at BOS meetings.
Watt apparently doesn’t understand that K-12 students can carry COVID-19 and spread it to adults. She says when she began seeking answers to why schools were closed last year, administrators cited the mysterious sounding “Rancho Document,” which allegedly superseded state and local public health guidelines for schools.
Watt claims she asked Shasta County Public Health for the Rancho Document, but was told she’d have to wait for a watered-down version suitable for public consumption.
In fact, RANCHO stands for the Rural Association of Northern California Health Officers, “a regional network of county health officers in northern California formed in the spring of 2020 in response to COVID-19.” This network addresses “current and emerging health issues by leveraging expertise and resources of local health departments to advance regional public health and promote communication and collaboration among neighboring counties.”
Far from being inaccessible, as Watt claims in Episode 4, various “RANCHO documents” are available online through Shasta County Public Health, such as this one on school guidance. As the document clearly points out, it’s designed to supplement local school district decisions, not supplant them: “Since releasing the RANCHO school consensus document, California Department of Public Health guidance for schools was published. The RANCHO opinion remains a resource to schools to fill in gaps not covered by the state guidance.”
It’s yet another case of RW&B pumping out misinformation designed to bolster its fallacious claim that Supervisors Chimenti, Moty and Rickert are responsible for a lockdown that never occurred and school closures they had no control over. As Shasta County Public Health explained in my story fact-checking RW&B Episode 3, the supervisors had next to nothing to do with regulating public schools:
In spring 2020, the decision to close schools involved decisionmakers in education, such as the California Department of Education and local school districts. For the 2020-2021 school year, Shasta County Public Health worked closely with school superintendents to adopt safety practices and rapidly contain outbreaks, which allowed Shasta County schools to remain open, or at least partially open, throughout the 2020-2021 school year. In fact, Shasta County Health Officer Karen Ramstrom and Public Health Branch Director Robin Schurig advocated to the state Department of Education for schools to remain open, as they believed it could be done safely and was important to the education and well-being of students.”
Neither was there anything resembling a real “lockdown” in Shasta County, according to Public Health:
“Most industry, education and government services remained open, with COVID safety restrictions, during the last year. Shasta County is a local jurisdiction of the state of California and as such must follow all Executive Orders. Following Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Stay-at-Home Order N-33-20, he issued Executive Order N-60-20 on May 4, 2020, directing the State Public Health Officer to issue a risk-based framework for reopening the economy, and all restrictions on businesses and activities deriving from that framework, including all aspects of the Blueprint for a Safer Economy. The Blueprint detailed how various industries could open following safety precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and restricted some high-risk environments, such as family entertainment and bars, from opening in the early stages of the pandemic. But even those were allowed to open with modifications at some point. Shasta County Public Health focused our efforts on education and awareness to ensure businesses and community members were aware of strategies to limit transmission and operate safely.”
Don’t try telling any of this to Recall Shasta chair Elissa McEuen. Facts don’t work on zealots, and McEuen has proved to be the recall movement’s most strident evangelical. The recall equals revival in her view, “a revival of those famous words ‘the consent of the governed,’” as she states in Episode 4, which sees her dominate the final third of the half-hour program.
It’s “the people” who give the consent to be governed, and McEuen makes it clear that anyone who believes COVID-19 is real is not among “the people.”
“Shasta County supervisors are counting on you to forget 2020,” she said at a Recall Shasta meeting held at a south Redding church in early June that was recorded for Episode 4. “Just forget it. Forget that your businesses were forced to close. Forget the confusion. Forget the shifty science.”
She was just getting wound up. This is a person in love with the sound of her own voice; not science or the truth.
“Forget they locked you out of the chamber,” the entitled brat ranted.
“Forget they didn’t hold Dr. Ramstrom accountable for her school guidance that kept your kids masked and distanced well beyond necessary,” she said, when exactly the opposite is true.
“Forget that they removed the seats from our chamber!” crybaby narcissus wailed.
“Forget that they failed to terminate our local state of emergency,” she whined, after the state of emergency had been terminated.
“Just forget it!” she chanted. “Forget when they said I sold my soul. Forget when they violated the Brown Act (they didn’t). Forget when they refused to meet with constituents. Forget all the wasteful spending. Forget that they pushed you to test test test and then used those very cases to keep us shut down.”
With that last remark, Elissa “Bullhorn” McEuen revealed herself to be a total propagandist.
“Forget that some children will never recover,” she rambled on, seemingly not realizing COVID-19 kills kids, too.
“Forget that they prioritized their social contract over our supreme law of the land,” she said, not understanding she’s supporting White Christian Nationalism over democracy.
“I got news for you supervisors Moty Rickert and Chimenti,” this intellectual poseur persisted. “We don’t want your normal. We have raised our standard in 2020. We want good government back. We recall what you’ve done and what you’ve said this last year and we are holding you accountable for it. You are trying to stall us. You are trying to divide us. You are trying to demean us. You are trying to intimidate us.”
The sense of victimhood is strong with this one!
“Keep trying us and you’ll find out what we’re made of,” Episode 4 ended.
Always with the threats. The odds that RW&B will make it to Episode 10 just jumped off the charts.