Finally, after months of failures and sagging popularity, the North State embarrassment known as Red, White and Blueprint appears dead in the water.
Cue the celebrations. Break out the champagne.
The most recent proof of RW&B’s demise happened last week when Recall Shasta, the entire point of RW&B’s existence, suffered a major blow when organizers submitted only enough petition signatures (still unvalidated) for a special election to recall District 2 Supervisor Leonard Moty. He was just one of three targeted supervisors. Recall Shasta fell short of having enough signatures in Supervisor Mary Rickert’s District 3, and Supervisor Joe Chimenti’s District 1.
The supposed concept behind the recall was to “take back Shasta County” from three “tyrannical” conservative, Second-Amendment-supporting Republican supervisors: Rickert, a career public servant and rancher, Moty, a retired police officer and former Redding police chief, and Chimenti, a retired police officer. Not exactly liberal snowflakes, but you wouldn’t know that to hear the Recall Shasta folks describe them.
In a fairly recent turn of highly unexpected events, Chimenti appears to have escaped the wrath of the recallers.
And then there were two.
Charitable folks might say, “Good for Joe!”
I say I smell a rat that we’ll examine more closely another day.
If you’re new to Shasta County, RW&B’s Episode 1 was rolled out with much fanfare on March 26, which, in Shasta County time, is like dog years on steroids. In its beginning, RW&B was described as a “10 Episode Journey to show you how to regain your constitutional freedoms.”
Six episodes down, four to go, if all goes as planned.
In reality, rather than showing how to regain constitutional freedoms, RW&B has subjected Shasta County to a front-row seat to chaos and blatant untruths. Since RW&B’s inception, death threats, some reported to the FBI, have been leveled against not just some out-of-favor supervisors, but county employees and others who didn’t agree with the RW&B’s demented mission to gut Shasta County government and replace it with a vague notion to “ensure a future in a free and open society.”
What makes that statement especially perplexing is that here in Shasta County, with one of the highest coronavirus numbers in the state, there has been zero enforcement of pandemic mandates. This is a point about which Supervisor Chimenti has bragged numerous times.
If it sounds as if I’m speaking of Zapata’s leadership role in the past tense, it’s because with each new RW&B episode, Zapata gets less and less air time, leaving lingering questions about who’s Red, White and Blueprint’s master draftsman.
One thing we do know is that Episode 1 inspired Redding comic Nathanial Pinkney to satirize the video, mocking Zapata, who claimed, quite unconvincingly, that he never wanted to be in the spotlight in the first place. Right. Pinkney created the made-up persona of patriot Buford White. Less than two months after Pinkney’s first satire video, Zapata, along with his former restaurant employee Elizabeth Bailey and her boyfriend Christopher Meagher, went to Pinkney’s place of employment and assaulted him.
Dwindling RW&B cameos can’t keep Zapata from the limelight
Although with each month, Zapata’s appearance is more rare in RW&B episodes, all along, Zapata’s exposure never waned, thanks to his steady stream of social media memes and Facebook Live videos (while driving).
In the last year since Zapata became a literal overnight alt-right social-media celebrity, more unsavory details emerged about Carlos Emiliano Zapata. For example, A News Cafe reported facts that proved that Zapata, a former Marine who claimed he was in combat, is not a combat veteran. Yes, he was in Iraq. However, he did not engage in combat, no more than my visit to the city of Berkeley makes me a UC Berkeley graduate.
Likewise, we learned Zapata’s business ventures included a Florida strip club. We’ve heard about his hair-trigger temper, demonstrated at a Palo Cedro restaurant where he slammed his hand on the table of a woman whose social media posts he disliked.
We’ve published screen grabs galore that bear testimony to his justification for violence.
But Zapata’s just one salty little peanut in RW&B’s large bowl of mixed nuts, most of whom don’t seem to even like each other. Their single common denominator seems their desire to dismantle Shasta County and make it into some lawless place where rules are optional and guns are carried in the open.
There are truly so many outstandingly extreme folks affiliated with RW&B that in the interest of time and space I’ll just mention some of the most notable.
Let’s start with Vladislav Davidzon, best known for flooding tens of thousands of inboxes with unwanted emails, and for harassing government entities with an unprecedented number of Freedom of Information Act requests. Davidzon’s personal attacks against Rickert were especially memorable, such has when he took to referring to Rickert as a “whore”. He also cruelly tore into Rickert during public comment period and went after her son, and called into question Rickert’s character as a mother.
Some rumors say that Davidzon may have moved on to Southern California, which would be yet another reason worth celebrating.
Then there’s Richard Gallardo, known to sometimes yell his comments. He’s also known for his failed simultaneous citizen’s arrest attempt of all the supervisors, plus county counsel and the county CEO; basically all county staff inside the chambers, and others not there, too. He recently posted a video on his Facebook page of yet another failed citizen’s arrest, but this time at a county employee’s residence.
Gallardo also partners with RW&B character Lori Bridgeford, a frequent speaker at Board of Supervisor meetings. She sometimes brings props, such as giant syringes. Gallardo and Bridgeford have posed as “citizen journalists” on their quest to harass staff and patients at vaccine clinics.
Lori Bridgeford and Richard Gallardo at a vaccine clinic where they wore brightly colored vests emblazoned with the word, “PRESS”.Corey Allen, aka “Hermit Strawman” is also part of the “citizen journalists” trio.
Lane, Knight, Rapoza, Kreider, McEuen, et al
Meet Jesse Lane, co-founder of militia group Stake in NorCal, who we first spotted at the June 2, 2020 racial equality rally in Redding. That’s him with the fighting gloves, there with hundreds of his fellow militia members to ostensibly maintain a peaceful protest.
Some of Lane’s most unforgettable videos (like Zapata, created while driving) are when he criticizes men for not taking a stand against tyranny.
Let’s not forget Red, White and Blueprint producer Jon Knight, who owns Northern Roots Indoor Garden and Hydroponics Supply, a business that caters to people who grow – uh – various crops, including marijuana. Oh, by the way, Knight was in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6.
His Facebook post showed him making a white pride sign.
There are other random people we know by sight but not by name, such as this gentleman I’ve dubbed “Captain America, who shows up at many RW&B events.
And who can forget the RW&B supporter who mentioned ropes as preferable to bullets, as ropes are reusable? He also attended the rally organized by Clendenen to protest the District Attorney’s charges filed against Zapata, That’s him with the sign with three check marks: “Shasta Co DA – Politicized. Weaponized. Corrupt.”
Plus, where would RW&B be without State of Jefferson diehards Terry and “Rally” Sally Rapoza?
They, too, seek freedom from what they see as governmental overreach.
Also, in RW&B’s infancy, you may recall Courtney Kreider, a former KRCR reporter who was initially identified as RW&B’s media spokeswoman.
The last Kreider sighting related to RW&B was the night of a $100-a-plate fundraiser out at the Harmon Ranch in Palo Cedro, which RW&B folks boasted drew more than 700 patriots.
One minute a silent Kreider was carrying a massive American flag to the stage beside Zapata on a windy night as the RW&B videographer captured it all. After that, without a word of explanation, Kreider was gone. Her name was never mentioned in association with RW&B again.
There’s Elissa McEuen, head of Recall Shasta, who rightfully earned the nickname “bullhorn lady” after she used a bullhorn to screech her message from the Board of Supervisor’s lobby after the chambers had been closed due to a spike in COVID-19 cases, even though there were multiple virtual ways to still participate in board meetings.
She, like fellow RW&B supporter Kathy Stainbrook, is fond of quoting scripture.
Keeping with the Christian theme, Stainbrook suggested publishing this author’s address on Facebook following a story she didn’t like.
Forgive me for nearly forgetting to mention two of RW&B’s most disingenuous, destructive, back-stabbing people of all: District 5 Supervisor Les Baugh, and District 4 Supervisor Patrick Jones.
Baugh’s an enigma. First he was targeted for recall, but Zapata said no, Baugh could stay.
Next, Baugh said he’d run for re-election come June 2022, but now Baugh says he’s going into his pastoring ministry full time, but rest assured he’d never resign from his seat early, lest the governor appoint a Democrat. For what it’s worth, Baugh is currently recovering from COVID-19. The road is long, with many a winding turn, and a lot can happen in Baugh’s world between now and June 2022.
Baugh’s co-censured buddy is gun-shop manager Jones, who’s perfected the art of spinning whoppers and using his county-issued key card to allow the great unmasked masses into unauthorized board chambers.
Perhaps one of the most stunning associations with RW&B happened in July on the day of Zapata’s court arraignment when a new group of supporters appeared outside the Shasta County Courthouse: Proud Boys, an organization characterized by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group. And these Proud Boys were proud; so proud that they posed for photos and flashed white pride hand signs.
Zapata later defended his Proud Boys supporters, referring to them as “good men”.
Last but not least is Woody Clendenen, Cottonwood barber, militia leader and B-movie actor. Sometimes his barbershop displays a Confederate flag.
Clendenen recently started a Facebook conversation that said: “For some of you it has finally gotten real….so what are you gonna do about it? If you haven’t stood up yet it’s now or never…..we are the generation that has given up that Reagan talked about….unless we finally remind our representatives that we are the people in charge.”
His friends replied, including Rene Perez, the director of the films in which Clendenen has appeared.
Perez’s statement resulted in one of Woody’s friend’s responses, a frequently expressed point of view about amassing men to take action and use force, if necessary.
Don’t mistake disgust for melancholy
One major indication that Recall Shasta’s efforts are seriously circling the drain happened after Shasta County Superior Court Judge Tamara Wood rejected Recall Shasta’s request to extend the recall-signature submission deadline.
McEuen and the group’s lawyer made excuses for why more Shasta County citizens didn’t sign their recall petitions. They blamed the smoke, even though many recaller volunteers participated in “medical freedom” rallies – complete with infants and children – on days when the county’s AQI was in the unhealthy range.
But perhaps the most bizarre excuse of all came from McEuen herself, who attributed the word “melancholy” as why Shasta County residents wouldn’t sign the recall petitions.
News flash, Elissa: Melancholy had nothing to do with why residents wouldn’t sign the petition. The most likely reasons include disgust, disdain, exasperation and flat-out disagreement.
Perhaps the most obvious sign that Red, White and Blueprint is not long for this world is the way so many of Zapata’s former enthusiastic followers have put distance between themselves and their former admired leader.
Compare and contrast the crowds who appeared outside the courthouse for Zapata’s arraignment, complete with the Proud Boys. There was a basking Zapata with his wife at his side, joined by his criminal defense attorney Joseph Tully. The crowd cheered. A television reporter captured the scene. A sign spelled out allegiance.
“We support Carlos Zapata.”
However, despite Zapata’s continued invitations on social media to “come watch us win!” with each court hearing, fewer people appeared.
On the day of one hearing, Zapata entered the courthouse alone.
Over the course of the trial, periodically some of Zapata’s most ardent supporters showed up, such as RW&B producer Knight, but most days the majority of the courtroom’s seats remained empty.
Of course, the most loyal, consistent presence of all was exhibited by the ever-present RW&B video guys, paid to capture everything for upcoming RW&B episodes.
On Aug. 19, Red, White and Blueprint, which, some would argue is actually Carlos Zapata, posted on Facebook a long statement/invitation, suggesting that people should get there early if they hoped to get a seat.
Not a problem. Just a few Zapata followers showed up.
Side note: The day the jury began its deliberations, I was hanging out on the second floor, waiting, so I’d be in the building when word arrived of the decision. I received a tip via a text: “You’re missing the 3-surrection.”
I returned to the third floor, where, sure enough, there was Zapata, his wife and Zapata’s son. Of course, the videographer was there, too, all sitting on benches waiting. No crowds of supporters were there, wishing Zapata well.
After I spied the 3-surrection I learned that the jury would be sent home soon. That allowed me time to go next door to the Shasta County Administration Center where a medical freedom rally was being held.
A puny sound system was set up. A few dozen people stood outside the chambers’ locked doors. Some healthcare workers spoke passionately about the fear, frustration and the deep sense of betrayal to lose careers over vaccine mandates.
Zapata and his small entourage arrived shortly after I did. There Zapata stood quietly, arms crossed over his chest. The small rally carried on, seemingly oblivious to Zapata.
That evening Zapata wrote a post on social media in which he vowed to never attend another rally or protest.
All my fellow arm-chair therapists raise your hand if you believe Zapata’s sudden disinterest in rallies, meetings, parades or protests was borne from the sting and humiliation of not being recognized.
What has RW&B done for Shasta County?
Red, White and Blueprint has caused a lot of division in our community. For all its bluster and talk about being for the people, it turns out that what it’s really all about is making money from selling T-shirts and hoodies. I know, because I signed up for email notifications and I receive constant merchandise pitches. There’s always some final sale, for some special offer, and you better get it quick before they’re all gone.
These are trying times for us all, and I understand how, like a swaggaring braggadocious new boyfriend, Red, White and Blueprint had a certain appeal with the promise that it had real answers to real problems.
Rather than having real answers, it turns out that RW&B is just the tail wagging the dog, a hyperbolic docuseries that chronicles stuff these guys make up each month to keep the drama going.
What most of us know is that Shasta County has no control over what private healthcare facilities choose to do. Likewise, we know that Shasta County has no control over state vaccine mandates. That’s why all the screams, threats and disrespect delivered to county supervisors are a colossal waste of everyone’s time. Hate the state mandates? Take it to Sacramento.
Recall Shasta has badly bungled things from the start, whether it’s messing up simple publication instructions to submitting invalid signatures. That’s why I’d be surprised if there are enough certified signatures from Leonard Moty’s District 2.
Even so, let’s say by some miracle Recall Shasta does have enough valid signatures. That would be one hoop cleared, and yes, the special recall election to remove Moty from office could proceed.
However, what the recallers seem to forget is this isn’t like ordering a pizza. Just like the recent state recall attempt of Gov. Newsom, there are two parts to the ballot: 1. Vote yes or vote no on the recall. 2. Choose someone in the event the recall passes.
Also, this special election would be just for Moty’s voters in his district. The thing is, that ballot could include names of all kinds of people, including true liberal snowflakes, and perhaps a Moty back-up-candidate endorsement who has his full blessing, after which he could take a well-deserved trip somewhere tropical.
Right now, the only seat potentially available is Moty’s. Zapata doesn’t live in Moty’s district, so Zapata’s dreams of being a supervisor any time soon are dashed for now.
But it may be a moot point, because I have no doubt that between now and any potential special election, the RW&B team will implode.
Who’s a RINO (Republican in Name Only)?
It says a lot about Rickert and Moty’s character that they’ve hung in there and endured all this stress and abuse, including being called RINOs by the recallers for more than a year.
Had Rickert and Moty been true RINOs they would have retaliated against the recallers and stepped down from their positions before the recall petition deadline. Had they done that, Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom would have filled Rickert and Moty’s seats with a pair of Democrats. You think the patriots are angry now? Just imagine a scenario with a pair of Republican supervisors laying the groundwork for Democrats to fill their seats.
RW&B’s silver lining
Finally, as upsetting as these long months of Red, White and Blueprint baloney have been for us all, the good news is that it’s brought rational people together; Democrats and Republicans alike, to fight this Red, White and Blueprint absurdity that’s put Shasta County on the map once again, for all the wrong reasons.
Last, for some final good news, Zapata’s making noise about leaving California.
Good riddance. Maybe he’ll move his bull business to Florida, to be closer to strip clubs.
Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. And don’t forget to take that bowl of mixed nuts with you.