To any lawful, rational, elected county supervisor, a canceled Shasta County Board of Supervisors meeting means just that: no meeting. Canceled means the room is empty. Canceled means locked doors. Canceled means lights out; everybody out. Sorry about the cancellation, folks; see you next time.
But judging by his behavior since he took office in January, Shasta County District 5 Supervisor Patrick Jones is neither particularly lawful or rational. Clearly, rules do not apply to him.
On Tuesday, for the third time since he took office in January, Jones defied county rules and led a crowd of amped-up citizens into unsanctioned Shasta County board chambers for an unauthorized private gathering.
Monday, his fellow supervisor and best board pal Les Baugh of District 5 posted on his Facebook page the bad news that the regularly scheduled meeting set for the following day was canceled, because three supervisors — Mary Rickert, Leonard Moty and chair Joe Chimenti – were unable to attend for a variety of medically related reasons.
In Baugh’s typical hit-and-run style, he posted this message, like pulling a pin from a grenade, then went dark and didn’t respond, even the next day to his Facebook friends seeking answers.
To understand how such a seemingly innocent post could be anything but, one must understand the political cesspool that has flooded the county since the pandemic’s start, and the true beginning of the county’s great divide. It’s not a political party divide, but rational versus irrational. Baugh is buddies with Jones. Both men were censured in February for defying a board-sanctioned resolution that banned in-person board meetings during a spike in COVID cases. Both men are active participants in Red, White and Blueprint, a Wild-West themed movement that’s documenting the attempted recall of Rickert, Moty and Chimenti, all conservative, Second-Amendment-respecting Republicans.
As someone who spent most of my life as a Democrat, I’m fighting with everything I’ve got to ensure that this recall of these three Republicans fails, because if it doesn’t, and if people like Jones are suddenly rulers of this county, our region and our people will suffer in ways we can’t even fully imagine. This is not hyperbole; it’s reality.
Back to Baugh, who’s not exactly the darling of the Red, White and Blueprint guys. The fact is, early on in the whole recall noise, Baugh was in the same recall boat as Rickert, Moty and Chimenti, until he was granted a stay of execution of sorts by none other than RW&B kingpin Carlos Zapata, the alleged combat veteran whose tough-guy video rant against the supervisors went viral.
Ever since Baugh’s seat was spared by Zapata, Baugh’s been sucking up big time to ingratiate himself to Jones and the RW&B gang. And I do mean gang.
Baugh’s post about the canceled meeting amounted to him kicking a hornet’s nest, and then whistling in the dark, taking a sleeping pill and heading for bed. Meanwhile, his fans and followers, the majority of whom loathe Rickert, Moty and Chimenti (because they’ve been fed lies about them), worked themselves into a frenzy of more than 300 comments’ worth of anger and disbelief that Rickert, Moty and Chimenti would dare cancel.
The angry people regrouped with Plan B.
Of course, as has become typical for all things related to the Red, White and Blueprint project, a thinly veiled threat was involved.
“If they can’t show up, we will,” said a FB meme. “See you tomorrow Shasta County.”
But for added bang, the image’s backdrop featured a row of firearms, perhaps photographed at Jones’ family gun store.
What seemed to bother Baugh and Jones’ folks most was that the canceled meeting would mess with plans for a march from downtown Redding to the county admin building for the supervisors meeting where everyone was primed to bring their public comments. This march would be kind of special, because rather than the usual motley collection of extremists, ultra-right wing militia members and Christian zealots — not to mention people who appear in serious need of mental health care who refer to bullets, nooses and other random acts of violence –Tuesday’s march would include healthcare workers protesting state-mandated vaccinations. Who doesn’t love healthcare workers? Everyone loves healthcare workers.
Therefore, beloved healthcare workers would lend street cred to the usual cast of bad actors, rough characters, and uncouth, uncivilized unmasked masses who typically converge upon supervisor meetings. Many of the usual suspects have subjected the three supervisors and county staff to all kinds of verbal assaults and threats. In one case there was even an attempted citizen’s arrest by a man/pretend journalist/fired fire engineer who was once known as Richard Gallardo, but who now inexplicably goes by simply, Stones.
Little kids love smoke
One might think that if any group of individuals would think twice about marching around in downtown Redding while it was blanketed in nicotine-colored smoke and specks of charcoal ash from surrounding fires, it would be healthcare workers. Guess again. In fact, some of the solidarity walkers brought along children, even toddlers and infants. Not a mask in sight.
One woman with an anti-vaccine sign had her 2-year-old son in tow. The little guy wore an orange T-shirt with the words, “Let’s have fun.”
He did not look like he was having much fun.
Elissa McEuen, head of Shasta Recall, was there, too. She held a child on her hip, and threw up one hand as she demanded no photos be taken of her child’s face.
So bizarre that McEuen, one of the event’s organizers, would 1. bring a child in smoke so unhealthy that Shasta County has received air-quality warnings, and 2. bring a child to an event that was roundly publicized (by her), and then feign indignation at being photographed by media.
News flash: If you attend a public protest, rally, demonstration or march, expect to be photographed. If you bring your kids along as props or statements or because you can’t find a sitter, expect that media folks will assume you aren’t picky about your kids being photographed, too.
McEuen brought her Recall Shasta propaganda, including recall petitions to Shasta County’s Administration Center, and had plenty of clipboards ready for signatures.
This just in: The Shasta Forward anti-recall group has called for Jones’ censure because he held an unpermitted protest in Shasta County Chambers. Plus, Shasta Forward accuses the Recall Shasta demonstrators of collecting recall signatures and filming a for-profit documentary on County property.
Oops. They did it again.
A smoky walk
Red White and Blueprint’s Facebook page posted a long video of the walk. In the video you can identify a who’s who of the Red White and Blueprint cast, and catch some interesting conversations along the way, too. You might recognize the guy mentioned in ANC’s story about the Mercy Rally, who was there collecting recall-petition signatures and exclaiming that it was exactly THIS kind of stuff that caused the recall. (No telling how long it will be up, so watch it while you can.)
Some people showed up on the sidewalk in front of the board chambers and displayed their signs. One man’s sign asked, “Will America become N. Korea zombie slaves … Live free of vaxx or die.”
A pair of laid-back yes-and-no sign-holders who looked as if they wished they were elsewhere went for simplicity: “No mandated vax,” and “Yes to medical choice.”
State of Jefferson-promoter Rally Sally Rapoza narrated a video that showed people ascending the stairs and entering the board chambers, and we can hear her surprise that the doors are unlocked, and a mention of the recall petitions. (Again, this video may be a short-timer.)
Who opened the doors and removed the chairs?
By now, Jones is so accustomed to getting away with blatant rule-breaking as an elected official that it was no big deal for him to share on social media Monday his intention to be inside the canceled board chambers Tuesday.
He’s a repeat offender when it comes to unauthorized use of the county’s board chambers, which he uses like his own private country-livin’ club. Tuesday’s chamber-crashing fiasco was Jones’ third violation. You may recall that Jones and Baugh were both censured for their chamber violations, which they both wear like badges of honor. They’re virtually shameproof.
This time, Baugh did not join Jones, which made him a disappointing no-show in many of his supporters’ eyes, some of whom took to Facebook Tuesday morning to ask if Baugh would be there.
“Why aren’t you at the board meeting with Patrick?” asked one of Baugh’s FB friends/medical freedom advocates. No answer from Baugh, which is strange, since usually he’s a proverbial blubbering word fount.
As Tuesday morning wore on, some people continued to inquire about Baugh’s whereabouts. Nobody seemed to know. It was crickets in Les Land. Perhaps he’s decided to hang up his bad-boy pants, now that his sights are set on becoming a full-time pastor. Plus, he recently announced that he would not seek re-election during the June 2022 election, and he’s already endorsed Baron Browning, which ticked off the RW&B guys something fierce. That gives Baugh 17 months to repair his tattered, duplicitous image. The trick will be whether he can make it through to the end of his supervisor stint without something ugly rearing its head and biting Baugh in the butt.
If Jones was disappointed that Chamber Invasion No. 3 didn’t have the same oomph as the first two, he didn’t show it. Tuesday’s entry certainly lacked the dramatic photo op of when Jones magnanimously used his special county key card for entry, because this time, wonder of wonders, the door had been left unlocked by someone. Here’s something else that was weird: All the chairs at the dais except Jones’ and Baugh’s were gone. I know because I stood right about where Mary Rickert’s chair should have been. I’m not being coy here. It’s truly unknown who arranged for the doors to be unlocked, and who removed the chairs. I’m guessing that whoever it was knew that Jones and friends were heading that way, and decided to take the path of least resistance. Maybe it was like groovy parents getting wind of their teenager’s party before they leave town, and they remove all the liquor and Granny’s fine stemware in advance as a precautionary measure. Truly, it’s a mystery.
Either way, Jones unceremoniously entered the board chambers as the Red, White and Blueprint videographers scrambled to capture the dramatic moment when Jones approached the empty dais. Lord, I’d give coffee cakes to those guys to learn what they’re thinking as they film Shasta County’s insanity. Coffee cake for your thoughts, fellas?
Jones sat with a look of immense satisfaction, alone at the dais, high above everyone else. He was dressed in a royal/navy suit and white shirt; the same Sunday-go-to-meetin’ clothes he wore in January when he and Baugh ignored a board resolution and took over the chambers. Must be his lucky bustin’-into-chambers outfit.
He beamed as one speaker after another praised him for showing up for them. He sat quietly, almost regally, like a king toad sitting on his lily-white pad of righteousness.
At one point, Lani Bangay, a key member of the pro-recall Red White and Blueprint movement, led the audience in an “experiment” that ended with all the glory going to Jones, a crowd-manipulation gimmick straight out of summer Bible camp.
“Do you stand for freedom? Stand up!” said Bangay from the lectern.
The audience obeyed and stood.
“If you stand for courage, raise your hand,” Bangay said.
Everyone in the crowd raised one hand.
“If you stand for integrity, raise your other hand.”
The entire room was a sea of raised hands; some still holding signs from the smoky walk.
“Now let’s take those two hands and clap for the one man who stands for us,” Bangay said, motioning to Jones like a game-show host declaring the winner.
The end of the exercise left Jones grinning and nodding as he enthusiastically used both of his raised hands to clap, too; rainbirding from side to side, basking in the adoration. Jones looked happy as happy could be. He was that one man who made that meeting inside canceled board chambers possible. Yes, he was! And don’t you forget it.
But first, before all that, it was as if Jones were trying to pattern his unauthorized meeting after the real meetings. Just like the real meetings, he started with a prayer, led by Jones himself, which was just one of many surprises of the morning.
Jones thanked God for allowing “everyone to be here,” and he added the caveat, even though it was not a “regular board meeting” – as if God might be confused by the schedule change, and needed Jones to clear that up for him.
God: Patrick? Did you call? Where are the others, Mary, Joe and Leonard?
Patrick: Oh, uh, they couldn’t make it for the regular meeting, so I, uh, stepped in for them.
God: Thanks for the clarification, Patrick. I was worried. Carry on. By the way, have you seen Les?
Then came the flag salute and the pledge, followed by a plethora of passionate speakers. Most spoke against the state COVID mandates.
Not one speaker voiced the understanding that these mandates are derived from the state, not the county. Not one speaker acknowledged the fact that the county has zero power over the state’s mandates, or private hospitals’ decisions, either.
The entire meeting lasted a little more than two hours, less time than the usual supervisor meetings which can drag on into the afternoon. Of course, the yellers and complainers always leave after the public comment period, so they never see what supervisors really do.
But then again, this was not an authentic Shasta County Board of Supervisors meeting, for so many reasons: It was not authorized by the county, and it had no board chair presiding over it. This unpermitted meeting had no fellow supervisors, no county CEO, no county counsel, no county tech folks, no clerk, no department heads, and a slew of others who would normally be there. This meeting had no agenda. No board report. No staff reports. It was not videotaped.
It was as if it hadn’t happened, but we know otherwise.
At one point, a segment of the crowd (not the classy newcomer healthcare workers) turned into a mob when Zapata spoke. We’ll get there in a moment.
Riddle me this: with all those absent people, guess which county staff were there? Two Shasta County Sheriff’s Deputies.
Before you ask, no, Greg Walker, the deputy featured in Shawn Schwaller’s story, was not there, although it’s true that his replacement could pass as a younger version of Walker.
Rumor has it that Walker’s no longer with the county. If that’s true, then a gold star for whoever made that happen.
A sample of Tuesday’s speakers included a man who had the distinction of being one of the only people in the audience who wore not just a face mask, but gloves, too. He spoke about illegal pot growers, and he later joined a woman at the lectern who had additional comments about drug cartels and their illegal grows on her Merry Mountain property. The couple had visual aids as evidence. They’re regular speakers at board of supervisor meetings, and have long begged the Shasta County Sheriff to help them and others like them. The woman, who said she’s a retired school teacher, told how although a “posse” (militia?) recently drove away the illegal drug growers, within the day, four car loads of growers had returned to the property. She often tells graphic, disturbing stories about the unmitigated destruction to their property by illegal cannabis growers, and how her formerly beautiful Merry Mountain is no longer beautiful or safe for her to bring her grandchildren.
A physician who said his name was Dr. Mu was the de facto on-site COVID-19 expert. He read from notes, and said that although he recommends the vaccine for high-risk patients, he believes that as high as 50 percent of the population is naturally immune to COVID-19, because they’ve had it, and will have protection from the virus for many years; maybe forever. Lots of applause there.
Dr. Mu said he’s seen fully vaccinated patients get the virus, but he’s yet to see any previously infected patients contract the virus again. He said that in his opinion, the vaccines are “obsoleting”. The doctor returned to the lectern later to answer questions from the audience about the vaccine.
Another speaker, Megan Estes, said that although she’s on the Fall River Joint Unified School District board, she was not there as its representative. She claimed the lockdowns have weakened children’s immune systems. She said the pandemic solution was worse than the problem, a line that garnered cheers from the approximately 100 people in the board chambers.
Then came a healthcare worker who said there are about 1,200 unvaccinated employees at the hospital where he works. He has no plans to become vaccinated, and he wants to protect people’s right to choose.
The mother who’d been outside with the 2-year-old with the fun T-shirt said mandated vaccines were a violation of God-given rights.
“And what about adverse reactions?” she asked. “I will let my bosses fire me before I take the shot!”
The audience loved that line.
An older man had one word for the vaccine mandates: “Bunk!” While there, he also blasted Common Core mathematics and critical race theory, much to the delight of many in the crowd, who hooted their approval. He closed by saying, “Patrick Jones should protect us from the government.”
When pretend journalist Lori Bridgeford took her place to speak, she held that spot for a long while. She lambasted KRCR anchor Mike Mangas, who shook his head no when Bridgeford challenged him to come up and speak. She mocked popular Redding comedian Nathan Pinkney, and said he’s “obsessed with us”.
Patrick Jones looked ready to nod off a few times. Perhaps he was thinking that the 3-minute time limit wasn’t a bad idea after all.
Carlos the bully; Carlos the unhinged
Then along came Zapata. That’s a whole other story that I’ve saved for its own space. I’ll publish it soon.
I don’t want to talk about it right here, right now. But I captured Zapata’s raging yesterday at Jones’ unauthorized meeting.
I’ll just leave this here.
For once, I’ll let Carlos Zapata have the last word.
Most photos by Patricia Graves.