I hate to give Steve Bannon credit for anything, but CNN media critic Brian Stelter is spot-on when he says one infamous quote from the erstwhile Trump advisor is key to understanding the crazy politics in America today, including right here in Shasta County.
“The Democrats don’t matter,” Bannon said in a 2018 interview. “The real opposition is the media. And the way to deal with them is to flood the zone with shit.”
That’s exactly what the proponents of recalling District 2 Supervisor Leonard Moty have been doing for more than a year now, flooding the zone-a with crapola about Moty, District 1 Supervisor Joe Chimenti and District 3 Supervisor Mary Rickert.
From petulant temper tantrums thrown at board of supervisors meetings to the provable lies peddled by District 4 Supervisor Patrick Jones and the Red, White and Blueprint docuseries to the fact-free propaganda currently bombarding local TV, radio, and social media channels, to the fallacious fliers now filling District 2 mailboxes, it’s been a shitnado of falsehoods, one lie spinning off into another and then another.
Chimenti and Rickert were able to avoid recall in large part because the nascent fascists figured out they didn’t have the signatures in Districts 1 and 3 and focused their efforts on Moty; Moty faces District 2 voters in a recall election on February 1.
If a majority of District 2 voters vote “no” on the recall, the contest ends there and Moty remains in office. Should a majority vote “yes” to recall Moty, who has held the seat since 2008, he will be succeeded by one of the four replacement candidates on part two of the ballot.
None of the four alternative candidates comes within a country mile of the experience native son Moty has gained from four decades of public service, first as a cop and then as a supervisor, as we shall soon see.
But thanks to a vengeful out-of-state billionaire’s $450,000 donation to the Shasta General Purpose Committee (the political action committee promoting the recall, principled by local Tea Party provocateur Mark Kent) it’s entirely possible that any one of these woefully unqualified individuals could randomly wind up being the next District 2 supervisor.
That’s because the Shasta General Purpose Committee is flooding the media zone with shit, paid for by jilted son-of-a-billionaire Reverge Anselmo, 60, who fled home to Connecticut several years ago after an unsuccessful tangle with Shasta County Resource Management over infractions at his restaurant and winery near Shingletown.
It doesn’t help that the Democratic Party apparatus is weak in far northern California, a region classified as a media desert dominated by right-wing radio programming, TV stations owned by ultra-conservative Sinclair Broadcast Group, staid legacy newspapers barely clinging to survival, and the occasional media oasis like A News Cafe.
There’s virtually no countervailing voice against Shasta General Purpose Committee’s relentless onslaught of feces, no stopping the avalanche of misinformation paid for mostly by one man with a grudge against Shasta County. It’s a real shitshow, and unless you want to see Shasta County ruled by a vindictive Connecticut billionaire with far-right proclivities, it has to be stopped.
If Steve Bannon is right, there’s only one thing we can do: Flood the zone with even more shit. So here we go with a list of the Shasta County recall movement’s most outrageous claims. Call it a history of lies, with the occasional truth thrown in.
1. Shasta County Supervisors Chimenti, Rickert and Moty rigidly enforced Gov. Gavin Newsom’s COVID-19 shelter-in-place order.
False. This is the Big Lie the recall movement was founded upon. The exact opposite is true. From the very beginning, after Newsom issued his emergency proclamation and shelter-in-place order in March 2020, the supervisors chose not to rigidly enforce the state’s COVID-19 protocols. Instead, the educational nudge was used to persuade noncompliant business owners to follow social distancing and masking protocols. No business deemed nonessential by the state’s mandate was fined or forced to close by Shasta County officials, period.
2. Shasta County misappropriated CARES funding.
False. Recall proponents allege the county misused the $18 million it received from Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. In fact, it was spent as the federal legislation requires, with the more than half going to Health and Human Services and $4 million to local businesses.
3. Shasta County can afford to forgo federal and state funding.
False. According to the recallers, Supervisor Moty believes “receiving money from the state is more important than our individual rights.” They’re referring to the fact that by accepting state and federal pandemic funds, the county is obligated to follow the state’s COVID-19 protocols, including the four-tier infection risk management system when it was in place, or risk defunding.
In a fit of Ayn Randish scorched-earth libertarianism, the recallers would eliminate any funding that interferes with personal freedoms. Apparently unbeknownst to them the greater part of the county’s $600 million budget is comprised of such funding.
Recall replacement candidates Dale Ball and Tim Garman have said they would forgo any state or federal funds that come with strings attached, public policy that would cost Shasta County hundreds of millions of dollars over time should it ever be put in place.
4. The Shasta County Recall effort is a grassroots movement.
For as often as the recall movement evokes the Founder’s phrase, “We the people,” it’s far from a true populist uprising. Red, White & Blueprint co-founder Carlos Zapata was hardly speaking for the masses when he promised there’d be blood in the streets if COVID mandates continued.
Perpetual Tea Party provocateurs Mark and Lynda Kent and State of Jefferson stalwarts Terry and Sally Rapoza have long been marginalized in Shasta County politics for the nutjobs that they are.
Is there any question that antivaxxer Elissa “Bullhorn” McEuen and fake news citizen journalists twin brothers Rich and Eric Gallardo, joined by Lori Bridgeford, grate on just about everyone’s nerves?
This confederacy of right-wing deadenders would be going absolutely nowhere without the largesse of vainglorious Connecticut son-of-a-billionaire Reverge Anselmo. Counting his $100,000 donation to Jones in 2020 and $450,000 to the Shasta General Purpose Committee last year, he’s spent more than a half-million dollars to buy the Shasta County Board of Supervisors.
His No. 1 campaign wish? The total elimination of the Shasta County Department of Resource Management.
So go ahead! Quit your bullshit county job, Zapata advises the average working stiff. Gallardo and Bridgeford have livestreamed themselves hassling senior citizens in vaccination lines. Do any of these people sound like someone you’d like to hang out with?
5. Supervisor Moty and others have falsely called the above members of the recall movement extremists.
False. Obviously, all of the above-named individuals are rightwing political extremists.
6. Dominion Voting rigged the 2020 presidential election in Biden’s favor and now they’re working for Moty.
False. Fabulist District 4 Supervisor Patrick Jones believes Let’s Go Brandon (President Joe Biden) stole the 2020 presidential election from twice-impeached former President Donald Trump. Therefore, recall-supporter Jones no longer trusts Dominion Voting machines, which have been used in Shasta County since 2018.
So, when a Dominion Voting Inc. employee from Loma Linda donated $200 to Moty’s campaign committee, Sally “Rally” Rapoza was quick to make the connection on Facebook. Dominion is backing Moty, she claims. In reality, it’s an old friend of Moty’s who happens to work for Dominion.
Dominion is currently suing right-wing networks Newsmax, OAN and FOX for promoting fake news stories claiming Dominion rigged the election in Biden’s favor.
As an aside, it’s noteworthy that Jones didn’t protest the Dominion machines’ validity when he won his election.
7. Supervisor Moty believes nothing can be done about state COVID-19 mandates.
False. Supervisor Moty has extensive political connections statewide, and along with supervisors Chimenti and Rickert, Public Health Officer Karen Ramstrom and Public Health staff worked with state agencies to help Shasta County businesses reopen at an accelerated pace last year, based on the county’s status as a rural community.
Meanwhile recall supporters Jones and Baugh sat on their asses and twiddled their thumbs, when they weren’t starring in the Red, White and Blueprint docuseries. As the pandemic enters its third year, the last thing we need is a board majority that rejects basic public health precautions. Vote no on recalling Moty. Don’t vote for any alternate candidate.
7. The era of dictatorial leadership in Shasta County is crumbling.
False. Nothing could be more ironic than an authoritarian rightwing political movement headed by a hot-blooded ex-Marine prone to violent outbursts claiming Shasta County is currently ruled by a dictatorship.
What melted these snowflakes? An adult finally entered the room.
On Jan. 4, Supervisors Moty, Chimenti and Rickert engineered Moty’s appointment to chair of the board, outmaneuvering Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, Jones and Baugh. Moty immediately bifurcated the public comment period for BOS meetings starting right now.
Public comments will happen during the first 45 minutes about anything the public wants, including Tea Party-SOJ-Big Lie-conspiracy theories or whatever. After that it’s board business and agenda items, and the public can comment about specific items, followed by supervisors’ votes. Finally, the meeting ends with more opportunities for additional public comments.
For the first time since this beclowned band of science-denying bozos hijacked the board of supervisors meetings last year, order has been restored.
Red, White & Blueprint has completely misread the room on this one. The recall’s propaganda arm has been promoting a video of the meeting featuring Terry Rapoza & Co. braying at the cameras like escaped inmates from a lunatic asylum.
It’s not a good look. Nobody will complain about these kids being shunted to the back of the bus (except for them of course!).
8. Supervisor Moty is a marijuana kingpin.
False. The recallers first smeared retired Redding Police Chief Moty as an alleged marijuana kingpin in Episode 5 of the RWB docuseries, in which a mysterious, anonymous, totally fake recorded message claims that “all roads lead back to Moty” when it comes to the lack of enforcement of illegal cannabis cultivation in Shasta County.
A recent Shasta General Purpose Committee commercial broadcast on local TV blamed Moty for the elimination of the Shasta County Sheriff’s marijuana eradication unit in 2016. That happened on Sheriff Tom Bosenko’s watch, after Prop. 64 passed, decriminalizing marijuana and taking the profit out of policing it; Moty had nothing to do with it.
The recallers falsely allege Moty has purposely allowed illegal grows to flourish, so he can turn around and fine the growers, raising new revenues for enhanced pensions and other benefits for him and his cronies.
It’s true that former Sheriff and now Shasta County assistant CEO Eric Magrini’s responsibilities include coordinating the county’s efforts to curtail illegal cultivation, but Moty didn’t create the position as the recallers allege. It was planned a year in advance by staff, to combat the very out-of-control illegal grows the recallers complain about.
According to Moty, the county has conducted a dozen successful raids during the past growing season. At any rate, it’s hard to take the recaller’s concern about illegal cannabis cultivation seriously, given RWB co-producer Jon Knight is also the owner of Northern Roots Indoor Garden and Hydroponics Supply.
Be careful who you call a kingpin!
9. The recallers support law and order.
False. Rarely has failure of leadership manifested itself so distinctly as when Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum broke into the chamber and opened it up to the unmasked mob when it was supposed to be closed due to the high rate of COVID-19 infection in Shasta County.
Such flouting of the rules by public officials during a pandemic not only destroys confidence in public health officials; it amounts to dereliction of duty. They should be removed from office.
The recallers, self-proclaimed devotees to the thin blue line, now have the audacity to complain that supervisors Jones and Baugh were censured for their vicious and illegal act.
In the same fashion, Carlos Zapata continues to use his various RWB channels to whine about being convicted for misdemeanor disturbing the peace by fighting after he and a couple of his compatriots assaulted Nathan Pinkney in the back alley behind his workplace last year.
Pinkney’s transgression? He’d dared to make fun of the cheesy overdone RWB docuseries on social media.
Pinkney wasn’t the only person threatened by Zapata. A News Cafe publisher Doni Chamberlain and myself have both reported Zapata to the FBI for making violent threats.
Then there’s recall alternate candidate Dale Ball, who pleaded no contest to beating a 13-year-old with a flashlight in 2006.
And the thousands of violent threats made by recall supporters to county supervisors, public health officials and anyone else who disagrees with them on social media.
The recall movement doesn’t stand for law and order. It stands for violence and chaos.
10. Moty is a RINO, a Republican in name only.
False. It was the Tea Party Republicans, frustrated that regular Republicans wouldn’t go along with their austere economic policy and blatant racism, that first branded their colleagues as Republican in name only, or RINOs.
However, now that Trump has destroyed the Republican Party, the acronym must be reevaluated. Whatever has risen from the ashes can hardly be called Republicanism; indeed it has many elements of fascism:
Flag-waving nationalism, appeals to violence, the rejection of all Enlightenment values as “wokeism,” the melding of Christianity and state contrary to the 1rst Amendment, the need to brand all opposition groups as “the enemy,” contempt for both elites and the weak, and a rightwing propaganda system comprised of radio, television and internet channels that encases the consumer in a cocoon of fascist conformity.
Call it Trumpism, our own peculiar strain of fascism that’s spreading faster than regular Republicans and Democrats can stamp it out. It’s fair to say that most of the Shasta County recall movement is infected with it. When they say Moty is a RINO, it’s meaningless. They’re not Republicans, they’re Trumpists.
11. Moty hangs out with Marxists and Black Lives Matter activists.
False. It’s highly dubious that Moty, a former police chief and four-term Republican supervisor, is a closeted communist. Red-baiting is another facet of fascism exhibited by the recall movement.
Any local, state or government programs the recallers happen to disagree with are a sign of imminent socialism. Zapata accuses our local elected officials of unspecified crimes and corruption and claims Shasta County is now a Third World Communist country.
The claim that Moty hangs out with BLM activists, in addition to being a racist dog whistle, appears to be based on Moty’s communication with Nathan Pinkney, who was attacked at work by Zapata and two compatriots after Pinkney posted videos on Facebook lampooning the Red, White and Blueprint docuseries. Moty contacted Pinkney because he was concerned he’d been attacked for political speech.
12. Tim Garman is qualified to be a Shasta County supervisor.
False. It appears Happy Valley Union School District board head Tim Garman may have trouble with the maths. Garman supported extending the staff/student walkout in protest of vaccine mandates last October, which could cost the district money for every absent student.
He voted not to follow the state vaccination mandate for teachers, administrators and school staff despite being warned by his superintendent that there would be ramifications from Cal/OSHA, the Shasta County Office of Education, Shasta Public Health, and the California Department of Public Health.
The cavalier attitude with funds seemingly extends to Garman’s personal life. Garman filed for personal bankruptcy in 1994 and 2000; he and his family were evicted from their home in Anderson in 2004; he received a state tax lien of $712 in 1998; and he paid a $3866 default judgement to Synchrony Bank in 2018.
Asked why taxpayers should trust him with their money, Garman said:
“I did indeed file and follow through with a bankruptcy in 1994 following a divorce. In 2000 we filed but opted not to proceed. We were evicted after we refused to pay rent when the landlord would not pump the septic tank. There was raw sewage backed up into the bathtub and washer. We did everything right in court except providing our pictures showing the sewage. We had them but did not submit as evidence in the correct manner and the judge would not admit them.”
13. Supervisor Moty committed a crime during the Carr Fire.
False. In April 2021, the Shasta County Grand Jury charged Supervisor Moty with “misfeasance” during the Carr Fire in 2018 for taking time out on official tours of his devastated district to refuel the gas generator at his own home. The Grand Jury charged the supervisor with “misfeasance” because it couldn’t pin an actual crime on him.
The report’s flippant headline, “When Rank Has Its Privileges or Adding Fuel to the Fire” suggests a grand jury that was less than objective. Moty admitted filling his generator, apologized in public and was censured by the board.
In hindsight, the grand jury’s report feels like a frame-up. This non-crime from 2018 wasn’t brought to the grand jury’s attention until late 2020, when it was filed by former Anderson City Council member and Les Baugh associate John Day, a right-winger in the Trumpist mold.
Hilariously, former Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko told the grand jury he was afraid to say no to Moty because Moty might cut his salary.
The reality was Bosenko had been caught trying to double-dip—collect retirement pay and his sheriff’s salary at the same time—when he ran for reelection in 2018. He abandoned the plan when staff and other board members found out. Bosenko was still sore about it, sources told me.
The grand jury’s shallow investigation failed to uncover Bosenko’s obvious conflict of interest. Supervisor Baugh, Bosenko’s conjoined twin, could barely contain his glee reading the ex-sheriff’s letter to the anti-mask, antivax mob gathered in the board chamber to witness Moty’s dress-down.
The Red, White & Blueprint cameras captured the scene for the next episode of the docuseries, aptly title “Fire.” All told, it was a grotesque manipulation of the grand jury process.
14. The Red, White and Blueprint is not a political action committee.
False. One of the first things Moty, Chimenti and Rickert did when the recall movement began gaining momentum early last year was file a flurry of complaints with the California Fair Political Practices Commission.
Their political action committee, Forward Shasta, alleged that Recall Shasta, Shasta General Purpose Committee and Red, White and Blueprint were committing campaign finance violations.
The former two pro-recall organizations have merged into Shasta General Purpose Committee, which we now know has received $450,000 from Connecticut son-of-a-billionaire Reverge Anselmo. We have no idea who’s funding Red, White and Blueprint, because Zapata and director Jeremey Edwardson (of Bethel Music fame) claim they’re an informational docuseries and not subject to reporting requirements.
The first claim is demonstrably false, I’ve reviewed every episode of RW&B and it has singularly focused on smearing the three supervisors targeted for recall, zeroing in on Moty when it was clear they couldn’t gather enough signatures to recall Chimenti and Rickert.
I have been unable to contact Reverge Anselmo (believe it or not, his cell phone is either busy or the voice mailbox is full), but he once told a local TV station he was funding RWB. He didn’t mention how much, but if the FPPC finds RWB is indeed a political action committee, we’ll discover how much ole Verge spent on this shitshow.
15. Moty violated the Brown Act.
False. Accusations of Brown Act violations are fairly common in Shasta County; prosecutions are far rarer. Supervisor Baugh was the latest to accuse his colleagues of violating the act last month. Last year, recall proponents accused the board of violating the act by closing the chamber when the COVID-19 infection rate was high and holding Zoom meetings instead.
As Benjamin Nowain explained on The North State Breakdown podcast last year, the act allows for videoconferencing. “Brown Act violations are taken very seriously,” said Nowain, whose day job is analyst for Shasta County Health and Human Services. “But it’s important to note that individuals or small groups will use the Brown Act as a weapon to advance their own agenda or try to intimidate board staff into delaying or reversing decisions which they may disagree with.”
Brown Act violations can involve civil and/or criminal prosecution, but no such action has been taken against Moty or the board of supervisors. In other words, Moty hasn’t violated the Brown Act.
16. Supervisor Moty won’t protect your Constitutional rights.
False. Your Constitutional rights are under threat, but not from Supervisor Moty. It’s clear from the tortured testimony offered up at a year-and-a-half’s worth of BOS meetings that a majority of the recall movement can be classified as Christian nationalists.
Christian nationalism is based on the false doctrine that the United States was founded as one nation under one specifically puritanical Christian god. Christian nationalists twist the 1st Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of religion to claim there is also no freedom from religion.
Case in point? De facto Shasta County Trumpist Party heads Jones and Baugh’s performance last year during the board’s deliberation on declaring June LGBTQ+ Pride Month.
As reported in the Record Searchlight, Jones claimed “he took an oath to defend the U.S. and California constitutions and not discriminate against anyone based on race, religion, creed or sexual orientation.”
He then proceeded to do exactly that.
“I guess I am disappointed with the political correctness that a resolution like this has come,” Jones said. “As a Christian, I do not support this behavior, while I will fight vigorously to defend and fight [for] your constitutional rights. Because of that, I will not support this resolution.”
What duplicitous bullshit. Is it any wonder Shasta County remains the Gilead of far northern California? Welcome to the Divine Republic.
Baugh, a self-proclaimed “man of god and a pastor” takes a similar turn, conflating the Constitution with the Bible. The Bible says thou shalt not judge then Baugh judges the LGBTQ+ community anyway. Declaring June Pride Month would “proclaim sexuality,” Baugh incredulously asks:
“Would we present a heterosexual day? Would we represent, I’ll just say ‘fat white day?’ I don’t know. I don’t think those things should be considered from this board of supervisors. I don’t think they have anything to do with what we are called to do.”
Yeah, who would be so foolish to introduce a resolution proclaiming a day celebrating, say, the unlimited accumulation of firearms that requires all public officials to pledge allegiance to the cult of the 30-round magazine annually on Sept. 17, Constitution Day?
Who would do that?!
That would be supervisors Patrick Jones and Les Baugh.
17. Supervisor Moty won’t protect your gun rights.
False. One of the silliest claims put forth by the recallers is that Supervisor Moty doesn’t support gun rights because he only issued 9 concealed carry permits during his 6-year stint as Redding Police Chief. Poppycock. Every gun owner in the state knows it’s the county sheriff who issues CCWs.
As my colleague Shawn Schwaller reported last week, the recallers also claim Moty is anti-gun because he, along with supervisors Chimenti and Rickert, rejected the Shasta County Gun Owners proposed resolution to make Shasta County a 2nd Amendment sanctuary. The document is steeped in Christian nationalist lingo. It begins:
“Whereas our Declaration of Independence is the fundamental document in the founding of the United States and it recognizes the Natural Law inherent in our land and that our Rights come from the Creator God, and that among these Rights is the right of self-defense …”
One paragraph in, and we’re about to sail off the edge of the flat earth. That Jones and Baugh are still peddling this piece of shit manifesto just goes to show how right Steve Bannon is. The recallers are always insisting on some bizarre unenforceable proclamation. As the popular saying goes, it’s all performative. All for show. Nothing will ever come from it.
18. No alternative candidate in the recall is qualified to replace Supervisor Moty.
True. At least to my knowledge. Dale Ball has cleaned up a lot of homeless encampments and attended a lot of BOS meetings, but it’s not clear he learned anything from either of those experiences. Then there’s that teenager he beat with a flashlight in 2006.
Tony Hayward is the mystery man. A Happy Valley businessman bankrolled mainly by fellow tribe members from the Redding Rancheria, he claims in a TV commercial that “The pandemic has been used as an excuse to avoid the issues.” To his credit, on his campaign website, Hayward makes a passionate stab at elucidating on familiar issues such as rampant petty crime and homelessness.
Tarick Mahmoud is intelligent and charmingly naïve, but he’s just too unpredictable.
Tim Garman, who was summoned by Jesus to serve on the Happy Valley school board, may have the District 2 Christian nationalist vote locked up. The question is, how many votes is that?
According to the latest figures from Shasta County Elections Office, there are roughly 21,000+ total registered voters in District 2, of which about 10,500 are registered Republicans, about 5000 registered Democrats, about 4500 No Party Preference voters, about 1,100 are American Independent Party, 90 Green, and 225 other. The registered Republicans in District 2 make up about two thirds of the total registered voters.
I’m going to go with my gut and say that there’s no way the majority of Shasta County’s Republicans have succumbed to Trumpism. The strategy of saying the craziest shit imaginable to flood the zone and own the libs is wearing thin. Combined with the Democratic and NPP vote, Supervisor Moty will easily retain his seat.
That prediction is offered with a caveat. If you live in District 2 and you’ve received a mail-in ballot, don’t ignore it. Open the envelope up, vote “no” on recalling Supervisor Moty, ignore the alternate candidates and mail that sucker back to the Shasta County Elections Office.
If you don’t live in District 2 but have friends that do, please share this story with them. It’s not too late to stop this shitshow.