Hold your noses and pass the popcorn, folks. Welcome to Shasta County’s dirty little circus where the messy marathon board of supervisors meetings are lasting longer and longer, and are getting more raucous, pointless and out of control by the week.
Case in point, today marks the one-week anniversary of the epic Shasta County Board of Supervisors meeting that lasted nearly eight hours. To be exact, if the county’s live-streaming time-stamp is to be believed, the display clock stopped at precisely 7:50:23.
Still, it could always be worse. Thus far the record-breaker for the longest BOS meeting with this board goes to the April 20, 2021 meeting for a whopping 8 hours, 37 minutes. (The video link is broken.)
Another related, notable timing was the fact that on the previous day — Oct. 18 — hundreds of people converged upon the Riverfront Park in Redding to protest school vaccine mandates. Republican Congressman Doug LaMalfa was there, too, lending his support. By some estimates, between 40 to 50 percent of Shasta County students stayed home that day.
Many of those same protesters also attended the Oct. 19 board of supervisors meeting to voice their disapproval of current vaccine requirements and testing for school employees, as well as possible eventual student vaccine requirements.
Here we are, more than a year-and-a-half into the pandemic, and Shasta County Board of Supervisors continue to endure the same false accusations hurled by many of the same misguided citizens — and an increasing number of newcomers — at every meeting. At each meeting citizens demand supervisors “do something!” to release the county from the state’s COVID-19 mandates.
As has been repeated ad nauseum by three Shasta County Supervisors (Mary Rickert, Leonard Moty and Joe Chimenti), assisted by detailed legal explanations and evidence provided by County Counsel Rubin Cruse, the county has zero authority over state pandemic mandates.
This is not news to the speakers. They’ve heard it. They know it. They don’t believe it.
In fact, in the spring a motley group of citizens were so upset by how the supervisors “went along” with state mandates that they decided that the best way to punish Chimenti, Moty and Rickert was to launch efforts to recall them.
Collectively, the recallers’ goal was that once they dumped those three supervisors, they’d fill their empty seats with people more like them, such Christian zealots, State of Jefferson fanatics, militia members, alt-right believers, anti-vaxxers, conspiracy theorists, and maybe even some Proud Boys, to name a few.
The truly crazy part of that demented recall plan is that Chimenti, Moty and Rickert are all conservative, Second-Amendment-embracing Republicans in a conservative, Second-Amendment-embracing county. But they’re not conservative enough for the extreme-right recallers who refer to Chimenti, Moty and Rickert as RINOs.
As proof of how upside down things are here in the North State, those who joined forces to fight the attempted recall of these supervisors include moderate Republicans and Democrats alike. If there’s any up side to this insanity, it’s that the attempted recall has united rational, reasonable citizens.
Back to the ongoing barrage of attacks against the supervisors for things beyond their control.
The reality is that the mounting complaints to the county about state COVID-19 mandates makes about as much sense as a kid whining to the babysitter about the parent’s rules about bedtimes, permitted snacks and TV shows.
But one person’s reality is another person’s conspiracy. When it comes to the North State’s most vociferous anti-vaccine reactions against state pandemic mandates, we’re suffering through a nightmare version of “Groundhog Day” that routinely inserts pandemonium in the pandemic.
Consequently, over and over and over and over again, week after week, month after month, and now, officially year after year, speakers stand at the board chambers’ lectern where men, women — and yes, even children — direct their frustrations, fears, anger, disgust, ignorance, misinformation and mistrust at the supervisors. The speakers beg, beseech and even besmirch the “tyrannical” supervisors they are convinced carry 100 percent of the blame for all their pandemic-related angst and anguish.
The rants and rages are not dished out equally. For example, District 4 Supervisor Patrick Jones is the No. 1 darling of Shasta County’s anti-vax, great unmasked masses.
He knows the truth; that the county has no authority over state mandates, yet he allows his followers to believe otherwise.
No wonder the Oct. 19 board-of- supervisor audience erupted in jubilant cheers when Jones derailed the public comment period to make a motion (for the second time in a month) for a vote that supervisors send a hard-hitting letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom to not just express disapproval of state COVID-19 mandates, but a stern vow to not comply.
Supervisor Rickert pointed out that the supervisors had already sent a letter to the state, telling the governor that supervisors didn’t agree with the mandates. She asked Jones what would be different with this new letter. Jones replied that this one would say that supervisors refused to go along with the mandates.
Moty, the lone supervisor facing recall in February, was as blunt as blunt could be when he said that Shasta County is a deeply red county in a mostly blue California, and that here in Shasta County, the majority of voters favored recalling the governor. Hence, Moty said that frankly, he doubts Newsom is too concerned about Shasta County, where the majority of voters aren’t Newsom fans. Moty recommended Shasta County remain under the state’s radar, and not bring attention to the county.
Chimenti agreed, and guessed that not one supervisor was for the state vaccine mandates. He pointed out that here in Shasta County, no businesses were fined or closed over pandemic mandate violations.
The fact is, despite some strict state mandates, most Shasta County residents and businesses openly ignore state pandemic guidelines. If you doubt that, watch visitors’ reactions as they express shock at the lack of COVID-19 compliance here. And likewise, visit progressive cities and notice all the COVID-19 compliant citizens.
District 5 Supervisor Les Baugh, who seconded Jones’ motion, said he didn’t care if Shasta County had a target on its back for bucking the governor’s dictates.
Once again, the motion failed in a 3-2 vote, and once again, many in the audience booed and yelled their disapproval.
Even so, the speakers continued, one after the other, as minutes ticked by and the hours dragged on. I lasted a little more than three hours before heading home to watch the remainder of the meeting online.
The public comment period featured a variety of speakers. Emotions sometimes ran high and even included tears, such as when one high school student openly wept as she told of her friend who she fears is suicidal because of COVID-19 school mandates. She literally begged the supervisors to retake the failed 3-2 vote that was pitched by Jones.
One teacher challenged supervisors to visit the schools and listen to teachers and attend school board meetings.
But to what end? Even if supervisors were moved by the plight of school employees and students, the bottom line is that no matter how sympathetic supervisors may feel about people’s plights, they have no power to change state mandates.
Moty repeated his now-common refrain to speakers to take up their complaints with state representatives. To the girl who said she was just a kid nobody would listen to, Moty disagreed, and said he believed that letters written to the governor by students would have more impact than letters from supervisors.
Chimenti reminded the sometimes unrestrained full-capacity crowd of about 200 people that they represented a relatively small number of Shasta County citizens, and that supervisors hear from others who ask supervisors to comply with state mandates.
“Then where are they?” shouted a man from the audience.
The answer to his question is that with the exception of a few brave, masked spectators who regularly venture into the mostly mask-free supervisor chambers, for health-and-safety reasons the majority of those who do support the supervisors’ compliance with state mandates watch the meetings virtually. Other spectators avoid in-person meetings because of occasional angry blowups and threats within the board chambers.
Personal aside No. 1: Considering the fact that Shasta County has a high percentage of citizens who have concealed weapons permits, and considering the fact that heated outbursts and threats sometimes occur inside the board chambers during public meetings, I implore the county, for the sake of its citizens’ peace of mind and personal safety (not to mention the county’s potential liability) to install metal screening devices outside board chambers.
Groaning citizens are pissed-off citizens
David Johnson, who said he’d been terminated from his job after he’d failed to comply with “illegal” vaccine mandates, was one angry speaker. He shouted his comments to the supervisors, and said he was there to represent “‘pissed off” dads, since so many of the speakers were women.
“I won’t stand for it” Johnson yelled as he leaned into the microphone and gripped both sides of the lectern.
“I will not stand and watch them destroy the county that I grew up in!”
Johnson, like several speakers who attend supervisor meetings, quoted Bible verses, and in Johnson’s case it was Proverbs 29:2, that said people rejoice when God is in authority, and that people groan when God is not in authority.
“You say you don’t have any power and authority (to go against state mandates),” Johnson said. “All I hear from people are groans.”
Regarding some of the loudest moments during last week’s lengthy supervisors meeting, a few times the typically lackadaisical Chair Chimenti bellowed orders from the dais for the crowd to behave. Usually the main offenders simmered down, but often Chimenti’s words resulted in jeers and hoots from inside the standing-room only chambers. Social distancing be damned.
One cannot blame the audience’s confusion. After all, for months Chimenti appeared almost entertained by the rowdy goings-on inside the chambers. In fact, Chimenti often cajoled and humored some of the rudest speakers. Sometimes he allowed various commenters, such as Kathy Stainbrook from Red, White and Blueprint, to continue speaking beyond the 3-minute time limit.
This leniency seemed puzzling coming from Chimenti, a former police officer. Rather, during many meetings Chimenti gave the impression of a rookie high-school teacher seeking acceptance from his most disruptive students, rather than the person charged with keeping order over a public meeting. There have been many cringeworthy moments in the last months when Chair Chimenti sat mute as some speakers verbally eviscerated colleagues Rickert and Moty; his fellow supervisors under attempted recall.
Of course, that recall attempt’s pretty much a moot point now since Recall Shasta failed to gain enough signatures to recall Rickert and Chimenti. Plus, given the recallers’ losing streak, it’s unlikely Moty will be recalled, either. What a colossal waste of time and more than $400,000 of taxpayers’ money.
But here’s something else highly interesting related to the recall. Perhaps Chimenti’s be-kind-to-the-unruly strategy worked in his favor.
Lo and behold, about a month ago Chimenti’s name was suddenly missing from recall signing-event posters.
But the most significant indication that Chimenti was no longer in danger of being recalled came from Carlos Zapata himself, the head of the Red, White and Blueprint movement designed to document the recall of Chimenti, Moty and Rickert.
This was such unexpected news that even members of Recall Shasta were the last to know.
Surely this public mix-up caused some embarrassment for Zapata and friends. But the most sobering information was the last sentence in Zapata’s comment about Chimenti, posted on social media for all to see:
“I, personally, want to see Joe stay and have to navigate a quorum of Constitutional supervisors.”
Personal side note No. 2: If Carlos Zapata is for Joe Chimenti, then that information tells me – someone who lives in Chimenti’s District 1 – all I need to know about how I will vote come June 2022 when Chimenti is up for re-election.
Has Carlos been Kreidered?
In addition to what we’ve already reported regarding signs that RW&B is sinking fast, there are other indications that the movement to “take back Shasta County” is pretty much dead in the water.
First, Zapata, who previously claimed he would remain in Shasta County to stand up and “fight” to transform Shasta County into a better place, has said on social media recently that he’s considering a move to Texas. Of course, before he can leave town he must first mop up his legal messes.
The expected sentencing for Zapata and his co-defendants Elizabeth Bailey and Christopher Meagher happens Thursday. Of course, this is a big assumption, because it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Zapata’s attorney Joseph Tully will arrive in court with a mound of motions worthy of a retrial.
Even so, Zapata says he’s pulling up stakes and is heading for Texas.
Second, although there are no reports that Recall Shasta leader Elissa McEuen has plans to leave Shasta County, she’s clearly losing steam and losing followers.
Monday McEuen stood upon a huge concrete stage at Riverfront Park in Redding, the site of the previous week’s well-attended school Walkout Rally.
Her words were amplified with the assistance of a professional sound system to a smattering of people scattered along the lawn.
Not exactly a groundswell of support.
Finally, I give you Episode 15 of RW&B’s Patriot State of Mind podcast. (Be patient with that link. It takes about 40 seconds for it to open.)
Yes, there was the usual dramatic Western-themed introduction that features Zapata’s voiceover – “My fellow Americans, it is time to take our freedom back” – accompanied by the opening video of Zapata.
However, this time, when the podcast began, there was no Zapata to be seen or heard. Furthermore, there was no mention of Zapata anywhere within the podcast, not even to explain his absence, such as, “Well, you may have heard Carlos is lookin’ at property in Texas, so he won’t be joinin’ us today.”
Instead, in the podcast studio seat usually occupied by Zapata sat militia member Dan Scoville.
Scoville was joined by Zapata’s usual podcast sidekick, Woody Clendenen, Cottonwood militia leader/barber/B-movie actor.
Also at the table was Jon Knight, RW&B producer (money guy) and owner of Northern Roots Indoor Garden and Hydroponics Supply, a company that caters to folks who specialize in ambitious agricultural ventures. To round out the clan was Lani Bangay, who owns a gym, and who’s dabbled in opening a school of sorts, but not with real credentialed teachers per se, but staffed with adults who’ll teach kids stuff.
As Bangay mentioned in the Patriot State of Mind podcast, which was all about the wonders of being a militia member, he’s just recently joined the militia. Better late than you-know-what.
Without Zapata as the podcast’s leader, the session fell flat. The men’s discussions bounced like a tumbleweed on crack from the militia to movies to masculinity to the fact Clendenen’s ancestor was on the rebel side of the Civil War (suppose that explains the barber shop’s Confederate flag.)
They spoke at length about the kiddie militia organization in Cottonwood where initially reluctant little boys are enticed to spar, especially if the promise of dinner is withheld, but by the end of the evenin’ those boys just can’t stop wrestlin’ with each other. Hardy har har.
Eventually, similar to a last-ditch trick to which a substitute teacher might resort, Clendenen looked toward the camera and asked their sound guy if he could please pull up the video of the junior militia group. So we watched the video. And when that was over, Woody asked if they could cue the video created of his militia group, but that took some awkward scrolling through somebody’s page of videos in search of Clendenen’s desired militia video. The group mercifully ran out of time before the second video’s start.
Clearly, those patriots were treading water and floundering without their ringleader Zapata.
Zapata’s abrupt absence from the podcast was reminiscent of when Courtney Kreider inexplicably disappeared from Red, White and Blueprint, without a word of explanation regarding the loss of RW&B’s earlier favorite media person.
Funny thing is, Kreider’s back. Sort of. She recently created a GoFundMe site to kick off her own media company, since KRCR doesn’t seem interested in hiring her back any time soon. Give Kreider credit for entrepreneurship. As of this writing she’s raised $5,040 of her $5,000 goal.
Questions galore here in increasingly crazy Shasta County
It seems that Shasta County is getting crazier by the minute. There are many questions:
Will the county invest in metal detectors to protect its people and its assets?
What caused Zapata to embrace Chimenti as a favored supervisor?
Has Zapata truly given up on Shasta County for good; bull-semen business, jujitsu studio, Palomino Room and all?
Has Jeremy Edwardson hung up his RW&B video camera? Is he MIA, too?
I only ask because Edwardson and his ever-present videographers haven’t been seen filming for a while. Was the last RW&B episode the final production? What will happen to all that RW&B merch?
Will Shasta County Superior Court Judge Jody Burgess put us out of our Zapata-drama-fatigue misery and actually sentence Zapata, Bailey and Meagher on Thursday, or will Burgess succumb to Tully’s retrial justification?
Has Vladislav Davidzen really moved to West Hollywood, and if so, has anyone warned Southern California yet?
Will Elissa McEuen trade in her new microphone for her old bullhorn?
Will the RW&B patriots ever find all their dropped g’s?
Will Patrick Jones ever learn that “Chimenti” is pronounced with the “c-h” like Chianti, not “c-h-l” as in chlamydia?
Finally, will the Red, White and Blueprint get a decent burial when it dies, or will it be Kreidered and disappear with nary an explanation, never to be seen again?