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As Recall Election Day Looms, Recallers Increase Lies, Threats, Circus Tactics

Since the spring of 2020, Shasta County has been a hotbed of alt-right extremism and political polarization. Photo collage by Shawn Schwaller.

“I can’t wait until this nightmare is over.”

That’s a common anticipatory refrain lately from Shasta County residents as next month’s recall election draws closer. Many people speak those words as if after the recall election, we’ll all return to “normal”.

Forget about normal, whatever the hell that is. Shasta County’s “normal” train left the station and jumped the tracks back in March of 2020 when a hotbed of alt-right “patriot” bedfellows created mischief under a crazy quilt of alt-right extremism to “take back” Shasta County. Christian zealots, militia members, State-of-Jefferson believers, anti-vaxxers, COVID-deniers, open-carry proponents, government haters, and on and on and on. You’re probably as sick of reading about them as I am sick of writing about them.

Either way, things haven’t been the same around here ever since. To find the eye of Shasta County’s shit storm, look no further than Shasta County Board of Supervisor meetings. Perhaps you’re among those who’ve had the displeasure to watch the county’s board meetings in the last 12 months. There, you saw that the inmates were running the asylum. There, an unruffled Chair Joe Chimenti sat on his dusty gavel and allowed bedlam to proceed unchecked.

District 1 Supervisor Joe Chimenti

In defense of pandemonium

According to Chimenti, in his defense, there was a method to his madness and apparent unwillingness to stop meetings’ incessant insanity. First, as he’s explained many times, Chimenti’s anything-goes leadership style wasn’t all bad.

First, like it or not, Chimenti’s way allowed free-speech opportunities galore during the public comment period.

Second, imagine if Chimenti had manned up, whipped out his neglected little wooden hammer and enforced the board’s rules of decorum. Everyone – including media – would have been deprived of the enlightenment, shock and awe to realize how many unbalanced people use their three minutes of public comment to threaten, curse, yell, attempt citizen’s arrest and refer to bullets and nooses as punishment for county leaders who don’t comply with their wishes. Likewise, we might have never imagined the personal tirades against supervisors, county counsel, the registrar of voters, and even public health employees whose biggest crime was having the audacity to take seriously a pandemic that’s killed nearly 500 of our own people.

Yes, I will say that it’s because Chimenti sat on his dusty gavel for a year that we know so much more about our fellow residents than we ever knew before.

However, most of us are bright enough to have understood what we were up against after just a few meetings. We didn’t need an entire year of unbridled public awfulness to get the message.

Set aside audience discomfort for a moment. There’s a far more damaging unintended consequence of former Chair Chimenti’s style: A year’s worth of shat-upon public decorum only further emboldened the shatters and chaos-makers.

Any teenage babysitter can attest that if you allow bratty kids to jump on the furniture week after week, the kids will eventually assume it’s acceptable behavior all the time.

Take the Redding-area League of Women Voters, please, an organization I usually admire.

Last week the LWV leaders gave in to the demands of cry-baby District 2 grown-ass male candidates Tiim Garman and Dale Ball, plus Ball’s guest Chris Kelstrom when the men whined about the Pilgrim Congregational Church rule that all who enter the church should please wear a mask. The men’s big “compromise” was to agree to hold the the mask briefly on their faces when they entered the church, like a wet hanky over one’s face while fleeing a burning building. But off came their masks as soon as they were inside and seated. Macho maskless men.

Ball, Garman and Kelstrom, as an aside, I don’t know what your problem is with masks. Borrow a page from the Proud Boys who visited Redding in July. See how proudly they wore their masks? If masks are good enough for the Proud Boys, they’re good enough for you.

Back to the LWV night where District 2 Supervisor Leonard Moty, the one being targeted for a jack-ass pointless recall next month, was the only person man enough to follow the LWV rules. Even so, there he was, passing a single germy microphone back and forth between Ball and Garman, who don’t cotton to COVID mandates and such.

The way the LWV members handled that night could haunt the organization in future events as they accidentally set a precedent when they gave in to Ball, Garman and Kelstrom. All’s not lost, though. They can still exercise their prerogative to change their minds and stick to the rules for upcoming election events. If only one candidate follows the rules, then so be it. That’s the candidate who’ll participate. The others? Adios, amigos.

The great setup

The LWV situation illustrated that sometimes, capitulation can cause problems later.

Case in point, fast forward to the most recent Shasta County Board of Supervisor meeting under the leadership of its new chair, District 2 Supervisor Moty.

Things got ugly pretty much immediately during the public comment period as vocal pro-recallers took to the lectern one after the other to pull every dirty trick in the book to incite and bait Moty to either pull a Chimenti and overlook their nonsense, or attempt to enforce the existing rules.

Moty, a retired police chief, chose Door No. 2: He attempted to enforce the board rules. It was pandemonium.

A tale of two videos

Of course, Red, White and Blueprint, the organization whose so-called mission is to document Shasta County’s patriot take-over, captured the antics, then edited it into a slickly sinister video drama in which Moty is characterized as the tyrant, while the unruly antagonizers were just innocent common folks trying to say a few words.

Redding filmmaker Benjamin Nowain to the rescue. He replicated the RWB’s style to create his own film about about what really happened. The two films are a study in contrasts: RW&B’s film distorts the truth, while Nowain’s reveals it.

Keyboard clowns: ‘Operation Last Supper’

It doesn’t bode well for the Jan. 18 Board of Supervisor meeting that it’s already steeped in drama and deception and it hasn’t even started.  Exhibit A: This message, shared and reshared throughout many Shasta County social media pages.

“Operation Last Supper will be at 9 AM at the BOS on the 18th.  We want standing room only, lets pack the house. Moty should be in fine form for his last meeting before he is recalled. I will remove all consent items so people can address all matters. We want all people to talk on each item for 3 min so we can take up the entire day. Let’s get the word out. All hand’s on deck.”

As much fun as it would be to nitpick punctuation and whatnot, we’ll focus on the content.

For someone to say “I will remove” all consent items, that person could only be a supervisor, not a member of the public. Therefore, the process of elimination determines that Jones and Baugh are the only two supervisors who openly support Moty’s recall, so if this message isn’t bogus, it means one of them wrote the message that was sent to their followers.

(Note: A News Cafe was cc’d on a letter sent to Baugh and Jones yesterday that sought  comment about the message, and whether either supervisor would either admit or deny writing it. So far, no response.)

Come Jan. 18, one of them will either do exactly as is outlined in that message, and remove all consent items, or not. Note how “Operation Last Supper” has a religious overtone. Being as though Baugh professes to be a Christian pastor, he’d seem the most likely culprit. As one smart ANC colleague pointed out, no Last Supper would be complete without a Judas in the picture. Who’s most likely to follow through with this betrayal of Moty and the county’s rule or law? Baugh or Jones? Perhaps both, in which case maybe Reverge Anselmo will reward them each with 30 silver coins.

Exhibit B: Send in the clowns

The colorful circus-themed flier below says everything we need to know about how Recall Shasta devotees see the Shasta County Board of Supervisor meetings: with blatant disrespect. They treat it like their personal amusement park. They behave as if it’s a big joke to disrupt county business and pull stupid stunts and interrupt public meetings.

 

Come on down to see our county circus board of supervisors! Share to your stories and pages!”

Notice they tell people to show up at 8:30, although the meeting begins at 9 a.m. If they get there first, they’ll be no room left for anti-recallers.

They’re right about the circus part, but they’re the flying monkeys who’ve turned Shasta County Board of Supervisors meetings into the laughing stock of California.

Exhibit C – The other Christian values: Violence and vandalism?

Since early 2020, A News Cafe journalist R.V. Scheide and I have both been threatened because of our reporting. (Yes, the FBI is aware.)

On Nov. 1, a dear friend attended a so-called friendly “pop-up debate” sponsored by Recall Shasta.

I’d planned to attend, but at the last minute I couldn’t go. By my friend’s observation, he was the only progressive person in a crowd of mostly ultra-conservative, anti-Moty pro-recallers. A few minutes into his drive home that night he discovered that one of his tires had been slashed. It had to have happened outside in the parking lot while he was inside the church that hosted the meeting. My friend is 80, but he’s a tough guy not prone to intimidation. Even so, the experience rattled him. (Yes, the FBI knows about that, too.)

These are among the many reasons why, when I attended RW&B’s debate in Cottonwood last month, I was accompanied by an ANC male videographer, and why I hired someone to drive us to the American Legion Post in Cottonwood, drop us off and pick us up.

During Moty’s fight to retain his seat and prevent the baseless recall, many of his campaign signs have been stolen, destroyed or defaced.

Moty, unlike the pro-recallers, is not funded with half a million dollars of money from Connecticut millionaire Reverge Anselmo. In fact, although since last year many well-meaning people privately express support for Moty and their disagreement with the recall election, some also feel fear of retaliation or retribution by North State extremist groups if it’s known they actually contributed money to Moty’s cause.

This is noteworthy only because every destroyed sign costs Moty about $75, a big deal if you’re not funded by a millionaire.

Yesterday, Red, White and Blueprint released the world’s shortest trailer for Episode 7 called “Change”.

Here’s the teaser: Tensions run high with new mandates coming down from Sacramento while the special recall election nears.
Candidates begin to rise up as two more supervisors announce they will not run again in 2022 and an awakened community begins the arduous and necessary process of vetting these candidates in hopes to find supervisors who will represent their voice in these uncertain times.

The cover image showed a photo of one of Moty’s ripped up signs and the words:

“The era of dictatorial leadership in Shasta County is crumbling like this sign right before our very eyes ..

Tune into Episode 7 this Saturday January 15th at 5 pm PST to be part of the ‘Change’.”

The image shows a sign that appears to have been slashed to pieces. It didn’t “crumble” as RWB text suggested. Rather, someone destroyed it for no reason. One can wonder if someone from RW&B  vandalized Moty’s sign. Or maybe they just got lucky and conveniently happened upon an already destroyed Moty sign, perfect as their lead photo for the Episode 7 trailer.

What’s most disturbing about the photo of the ripped-up Moty sign is that it’s easy to extrapolate the rage and force someone used on Moty’s sign and apply it to the violent messages leveled upon Moty by Red, White and Blueprint followers and recall supporters.

Lest we’re accused of exaggerating the threats against Moty, here’s a mere sample of the violent rhetoric against Moty that flows freely upon Red, White and Blueprint’s Facebook pages.

I’ll wait while you take it all in. Pace yourself. It’s terrible.

I could post examples all day. You get the idea. The messages are depraved and sickening. Notice that the majority of the writers aren’t worried or ashamed. They’re so bold in their beliefs that they use their real names.

Sunday a group of anti-recallers – including some of Moty’s friends, family and supporters – planned to meet at Redding City Hall’s parking lot at 9 a.m. to begin door-to-door canvassing in District 2 to counteract Recall Shasta’s baseless recall attempts. When I arrived around 9:20 the only people there were some of the Recall Shasta regulars, like Patty Plumb and Kathy Stainbrook, to name a few. (In the video, I misidentified one man as Mark Kent. I’ve since learned he’s Patty’s husband.)

As I’d done at a pro-recall event on Hilltop Drive and Cypress Avenue recently, I did a Facebook Live session and asked some questions.

Plumb was the main communicator, all sweetness and light. She quickly talked about prayers and concerns for the canvassers’ safety. How nice.

Granted, it was a rather messy interview. However, once again, nobody there could give one factual reason to recall Moty.

I later learned the reason the canvassers weren’t there: The Recall Shasta group showed up in the parking lot, too, like unwanted meat bees at a picnic. So the anti-recallers regrouped and agreed on a different location away from the recallers.

One could understand why, after reading brutal threats directed to Moty on Red, White and Blueprint’s social media, Plumb’s offers of prayers might fall flat and appear disingenuous.

Bullies, thugs and hypocrites

Red, White and Blueprint leaders look like bullies and thugs when they use a photo of Moty’s vandalized sign as a marketing tool, and when they allow their Facebook page to be a forum for threats against Moty and others. In a similar fashion, so-called Christians like Plumb, Stainbrook and Jeremy Edwardson (Plumb claims she babysat  him) and Baugh come across as flaming hypocrites when they knowingly accept words of violence against Moty. What would Jesus do? Who knows. But I’m pretty sure Jesus would not stand by as his friends and acquaintances threatened Moty with rebar, bear spray, “dirt naps” tarring, beatings and “horrible deaths”.

One of the most hypocritical of all is Baugh, Moty’s fellow supervisor who self-identifies as a Bible-preaching pastor and disciple of Christ. Baugh seems particularly tone deaf, especially considering the potential racket made by the noisy skeletons rattling around in his own closet.

Where do guns fit with the recall movement?

We’re not talking about the risk of bratty kids jumping on the furniture. We’re talking about violent threats made against Moty by people who carry weapons — with or without permits — and who celebrate the collection of guns, such as depicted here on Red, White and Blueprint fundraising merchandise.

Mike Cendejas carrying assault rifle while appearing in a Red, White, & Blueprint advertisement for shirts shared by Carlos Zapata on Instagram.

Am I missing something? What in the world do guns have to do with a recall, or “taking back” Shasta County? Anyone?

It’s notable that many of the people who left violent messages about Moty on Red, White and Blueprint’s social media pages have said they plan to attend the Jan. 18 supervisor chambers, a place that lacks metal detectors, despite many citizens’ requests otherwise. These chambers are a place where the day after my friend’s tire was slashed I saw pro-recaller Richard Gallardo open a switch blade to cut loose a balloon upon which he and fellow “citizen journalist” Lori Bridgeford had written nasty messages to public health, which they’d then tied to chair arms (probably to get around the ban against posters inside the chambers).

Sell-described “press” Lori Bridgeford and Eric Gallardo (Richard Gallardo’s twin) harass drivers waiting for vaccines last year.

These chambers are the place in which one of the deputies who’s routinely posted there was once seen hugging Zapata outside the chambers on the day when supervisors were presented with intent to recall papers.

So, forgive me if the board chambers feel like an unsafe place for not just Moty, but his supporters., too.

Soon, all over but the shoutin’ (and death threats)

This time next month Shasta County’s recall election will be over, one way or another. When the election-result dust settles, Supervisor Chair Leonard Moty will either keep his job, or lose it.

As I’ve said, voting no to the recall is not just about saving Moty’s board seat. To vote no on the recall is to save Shasta County from the clutches of fringe folks and alt-right extremists who are hell bent on “taking back” Shasta County.

If Moty loses the recall, I don’t want to hear a peep from suddenly shocked people who never stood up for Moty, but meant to, or newly-worried people who never donated to his campaign, but intended to.

We know what the road to hell is paved with.

It’s too late, baby, now. In a few weeks, it’ll be all over but the shoutin’.

At that point, it’s just the beginning. Who knows what domino chain reaction will follow the recall election, for better or for worse.

Ballots have been mailed. Now, most District 2 voters’ minds are made up. It’s anyone’s guess whether District 2 voters are wise enough to see through the smoke, mirrors and fabrications disseminated via hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of lies about Moty in a blitzkrieg of ads funded by Reverge Anselmo, a spoil-sport Connecticut son of a billionaire.

I want to put my faith in Shasta County voters. I really do.

But I’m a realist. If Moty loses the recall, and is ousted from the seat his voters entrusted to him fair and square, I won’t be surprised if Shasta County sees an exodus of the best and brightest department heads and leaders. Whether they’re pushed or whether they jump, it doesn’t matter, The outcome will be the same. They’ll be gone. I know. The ignorant recallers will rejoice.

After the recall election the strife won’t be over. Not by a long shot. A few months later we’ll face the June 2022 election and a slew of contentious political battles for available seats, such as Chimenti’s in District 1 and Baugh’s  in District 5. Other positions up for grabs are the Shasta County District Attorney, the Shasta County School Superintendent, the Shasta County Sheriff, the Shasta County Registrar of Voters, and the Shasta County Assessor, to name a few.

If the Red, White and Blueprint groupies have their way, June’s election season will look as dirty and vile as the recall election. In their dreams, their people will overtake Shasta County and make it into some old-West façade where their kids don’t need no college, where the rule of law is mocked, and where COVID numbers continue to rise as our people continue to die.

At some point, if Shasta County voters don’t stand up for good leaders like Leonard Moty, we will eventually get exactly what we deserve.

That would be our true nightmare, one from which there’s no waking up and no going back.

###

Stand with Moty. Help defeat the recall
  • If you live in District 2, vote NO on the recall.
  • Jan. 17 is the last day to register to vote. Register online, or in person at the Shasta County Elections Office, 1643 Market St, Redding, Ca 96001
  • Talk to people you know who live in District 2. Educate them about the recall.
  • Put a sign in your yard or business.
  • Endorse Leonard Moty
  • To give money: Make checks payable to “Stand with Moty”. Mail to Stand With Supervisor Moty 2022, PO Box 991051, Redding, CA 96099-1051

 

Doni Chamberlain

Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded A News Cafe in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain holds a Bachelor's Degree in journalism from CSU, Chico. She's an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She's been featured and quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, L.A. Times, Slate. Bloomberg News and on CNN, KQED and KPFA. She lives in Redding, California.

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