Tuesday morning Recall Shasta members got the circus they desired for their extra-special Shasta County Board of Supervisors meeting. It just wasn’t held exactly where they expected it.
Because of a series of events following the supervisors’ Jan. 4 meeting, it was decided that the Jan. 18 meeting would be held via Zoom. Notice the passive use of the phrase “it was decided”. More about that in a moment.
Prior to the decision about the virtual Jan. 18 meeting, the Recall Shasta organization posted a colorful flier on social media that announced “The People’s Meeting” and “hopefully Moty’s last” decorated with a fringed, red-and-white striped circus tent. “Come on down to see our county circus board of supervisors!”
Make no mistake. The “circus” is real. Credit for its creation lands solely at the feet of Recall Shasta, built upon a foundation of lies to convince gullible, frustrated people to remove from office District 2 Supervisor Leonard Moty – an exemplary elected leader and dedicated lifelong public servant – for not a single sane, plausible reason.
The misguided recall election, perhaps one of the biggest political travesties in Shasta County’s history, takes place Feb. 1.
A few significant things happened between the time that flier was posted on social media and Tuesday’s Zoom meeting.
For starters, circus clown No. 1, Shasta County District 5 Supervisor Les Baugh, who barely contained the depths of his anger and disappointment to not be enthroned upon the Chair position he so coveted, uttered some magic words during the Jan. 4 meeting.
Those words, almost like a magic curse, all but guaranteed that his flying monkeys would swoop down in full force for the subsequent Jan. 18 meeting. The Jan. 18 meeting was no ordinary meeting; it was last meeting before the Feb. 1 recall election.
“I’m just saying there will be 200 people in here because of what you’ve done here today,” Baugh said to Moty, the board’s newly appointed Chair via a 3-2 vote.
Cue the monkeys.
Next, circus clown No. 2, Shasta County District 4 Supervisor Patrick Jones, got a whiff of the possibility that the next meeting would be virtual, and rightly guessed he’d be prevented from breaching the chambers for an unauthorized meeting, something he’d already done twice before.
Finally, the master ringleader of the entire ridiculous show, Red, White and Blueprint, allowed a flood of threatening messages about Moty to swell into increasingly more graphic, specific threats.
As the story spread, rational citizens began questioning the wisdom and safety of holding in-person meetings inside the Shasta County supervisors chambers. Plus, COVID numbers were climbing around the same time, so it made the most sense, from a safety standpoint, for the meetings to go online.
The recallers were outraged. They wanted their special day in the chambers to mock Moty in person. How dare they be deprived of that experience! With that, Jones set the circus ball rolling toward his backup plan.
It’s Patrick’s party, he can cry if he wants to
Tuesday morning, the official Shasta County Board of Supervisors meeting took place via Zoom. Like a scene from The Brady Bunch intro, four supervisors and several county staff members were present and participating from various indoor locations, there in living color for anyone to log on and see.
The only person outdoors was District 4 Supervisor Patrick Jones, someone who’d vowed when he breached the board chambers his first week in office to never participate in a virtual meeting. Yet there he was, participating virtually, while simultaneously presiding over his own private party outdoors. Jones wore a thick black coat. For most of the nearly three-and-a-half hours he stood behind the table outside the closed board chambers.
Patrick’s outdoor meeting wasn’t a surprise, since social media chatter had blabbed the news for days.
Before Tuesday, one supposedly reliable rumor suggested that the public could expect to see something really “big” — unlike anything anyone had ever seen before. People speculated: Fireworks? A helicopter that delivered son-of-a-billionaire Reverge Anselmo to the courthouse lawn? Elissa McEuen rappelling down the side of the building? Proud Boys? Militia members? Bikers? Cowboys on horses? Guns? What?
Here in Shasta County, almost anything seemed possible.
In actuality about 100 people – men, women, some kids and even a few infants — were present for Jones’ event. No fireworks, no helicopter, no Anselmo, no rapelling, and no (obvious) Proud Boys. There were militia members in attendance, including Woody Clendenen, the Cottonwood barber and militia leader who’s known to brag that about the only time he’s without a gun is while in the shower. No doubt there were others in attendance who share Clendenen’s firearms philosophy.
Rally Sally Rapoza was correct. Media was there, and lots of it, including A News Cafe, and cameraman Alan Ernesto Phillips.
A drone buzzed around overhead, causing heads to turn and stare as it passed by.
It turns out the something really “big” was in reference to the size of a TV screen. Without a permit or permission from anyone, Jones selected the area outside the locked board chambers for his party location.
Just for this event, Jones ordered a massive TV screen that the company’s owner said rents for $1,500, apparently a popular size for Super Bowl parties. All the other stuff — amplifiers, speakers, cables, sound board, microphones and other multi-media whatnot — costs extra.
Raise your hand if you believe Anselmo’s mad money paid for all that equipment.
As two men set up their equipment, Bruce Springsteen’s voice blared through the towering pair of speakers and competed for sound space over the constant noise of the generator around the corner. “Born in the USA!”
A News Cafe recorded the event on Facebook Live. The first video begins with Jones walking briskly past me, before answering a few questions. Jones said that no, he didn’t have a permit, but why would he? It’s a public place.
His reply made me wonder if I could hold a friend’s birthday there, maybe on the weekend with a small band, a margarita machine, and about 99 of her closest friends. It’s not like I’d rent a big TV screen or anything that ostentatious. A Black Lives Matter party? Drumming circle? Wait, how about a Super Bowl party?
For the record, according to a county source, there is generally no fee or permit required to use the outside public area, as long as it’s not blocking public access to the buildings. That said, my source also said that in the future, people who want to use that space would be encouraged to check with the county first. Good to know.
Back to Jones, who said the reason he’d arranged for the meeting outside was his key card didn’t work and he was locked out. We went back and forth about that one, with Jones feigning ignorance about why the doors were locked. Eventually, Jones was done answering questions. He issued an order, which he repeated a few times.
“Go home, Doni.”
Jones, ever the bully, was not joking. Watch the video and see for yourself.
State of Jefferson aficionados Terry and Sally Rapoza arrived with a large stack of identical pro-recall signs, which many people picked up and carried around, only to leave them behind when it was all over, like the bowling shoes of protest signs; borrowed, but not owned.
Jones’ screen showed a fuzzy image of the Zoom meeting in progress, which followed Supervisor Chair Leonard Moty’s new format that bifurcated the meeting into 45 minutes’ of comments, followed by board business, including consent calendar opportunities for public comment, ending with public comments.
Outside, lots of people had a lot they wanted to say, rarely about board business. Instead, they had Moty on their minds. Technology was an issue from the get-go. There was static and reverberation when some people in the crowd tried calling too close to the large speakers, so they were asked to step inside the building’s public space near the stairwells. Some people were exasperated by the phone system. Others said they waited for a long time for their turn in the queue, never to be chosen. Yet others swapped phones, and tried to coach others through calls and the automated instructions, only to have their call rejected because someone had already used that number.
Every comment made during the board meeting by people in the crowd had one thing in common: They wanted Moty recalled. One man concluded his three-minutes with, “Let’s go Moty!” Those three words received the morning’s most enthusiastic applause and laughter.
Although the Zoom meeting on the screen carried on as if it was business as usual, outside, the main event amounted to a de facto recall-Moty rally.
Even so, there were approximately five or six people in attendance in support of Moty and against the recall.
At times, it was as if the actual Board of Supervisors meeting wasn’t happening at all. A few times skirmishes broke out in the crowd between the minority of anti-recall people with a great many more pro-recall people. During those times, backs were to the screen and all eyes were on the verbal conflicts.
Though the morning’s winter weather started bright, crisp and sunny, eventually clouds rolled in and the temperatures dropped, prompting one woman in the crowd to complain during her comment that she didn’t appreciate being locked outside in the cold.
It seemed unclear to her that the meeting was virtual, and she could have joined the majority of viewers who were watching the Zoom videos from the warmth of some indoor space.
There were many familiar pro-recall faces in the crowd, such as supervisor hopeful candidates Colt Roberts, Tim Garman, Kevin Crye and Chris Kelstrom. Self-identified citizen journalists Lori Bridgeford and Richard Gallardo were there, who gave a rather enlightening piece of information: Gallardo is a twin, and some of the photos published here on A News Cafe mistakenly attributed Richard Gallardo’s name to photos that were of his brother Eric. Duly noted. Corrections are in progress.
Someone brought donuts. Later someone else brought pizza. Both were passed around freely and enjoyed by maskless individuals.
Bridgeford brought the usual assortment neon poster boards with anti-vax materials.
Regarding security, there was one mature gentleman who said he’s just shy of his 65th birthday who works for a private company hired by the county. He wore a pale blue face mask and dark glasses, and stood the entire time in the sun. He later said he’d wished he’d brought a hat.
When asked if he was the only security person there, he said there were two others; one inside the building, and another out back. He said none carry firearms.
Normally there’s a Shasta County Sheriff deputy or two inside the board chambers, but because this outdoor meeting wasn’t official, there wasn’t a deputy in sight. According to some sources, there may have been armed deputies inside the main administration building on the third floor, just in case they were needed.
Official meeting or not, it would seem that any time more than 100 people show up with a generator, speakers and a massive TV, the law enforcement agency in charge of that area might make an appearance. That agency would be the Shasta County Sheriff’s Department.
Meanwhile, at the real Board of Supervisor Meeting
Speaking of the sheriff, there were some awkward moments during the Zoom call when it was uncertain whether Shasta County Sheriff Mike Johnson was or was not on the call. Supervisor Baugh had some questions for Johnson. Eventually Sheriff Johnson was live, ready for questions. In Baugh’s usual golly-gee-whiz-I-hate-to-put-you-on-the-spot manner, he cut to the chase and said that it seemed the county CEO was claiming the decision to go virtual was the sheriff’s and that rumor was going like “wild fire”. Was that true? Was Sheriff Johnson the decider who said no to an in-person gathering in the board chambers?
Sheriff Johnson could not get rid of that hot potato fast enough. He quickly absolved himself as the point person.
“No, I did not. I don’t make that determination on whether to shut down the board, or really any of the politics that’s involved with it,” Johnson said.
“My job is public safety and to ensure that the public is going to be safe, the staff is going to be safe, and you, as the board, is going to be safe. Now I did weigh in, absolutely weighed in, on the threats that were coming into all the supervisors. I wasn’t comfortable with the emotionally charged events that we have seen unfold. Not to point the finger at any particular person, but again, public safety is my job. Whether the board chooses to go virtual, cancel the board meeting, or hold it at a different time, or where they hold it, all that’s not up to me. All I’m trying to do is make sure everybody’s safe. So to answer, Supervisor Baugh, yes, I did weigh in on that, but is ultimately, none of those are my decisions.”
This is a good time to point out that Baugh was one of the most enthusiastic cheerleaders to recommend the board appoint Johnson as Shasta County Sheriff to fill the seat vacated by former Sheriff Eric Magrini. A few more connecting dots includes the fact that Johnson was the former Anderson Police Chief. Baugh lives in Anderson, and his wife is the Anderson City Mayor. Furthermore, Baugh already brazenly strayed from Red, White and Blueprint’s heir apparent, Chris Kelstrom, as a candidate for Baugh’s District 5 seat that’s up for grabs in the June 2022 election. Instead, Baugh has endorsed someone who appears to be a “regular conservative”, Baron Browning, to replace Baugh in the election. Browning currently serves on the Anderson City Council with Baugh’s wife.
Other than those details, there are zero associations.
Back to Johnson, who wants the public to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he did NOT make the call to shut down the board chambers. No way, no way, no way!
Now, Johnson did clarify that should there be some emergency, such as a bomb threat or a chemical weapons threat or a domestic violence threat, Johnson would be that guy to come in and shut down the chambers. But the meeting on Jan. 18? No. Johnson did not make that call.
Should we address the fact that Johnson’s in a precarious political situation himself? His job as sheriff is up for re-election in the June 2022 election (I say “re-election” because it’s left over from Magrini’s stint as sheriff.) He’s in the unenviable position of having to not tick off the ultra-conservative RWB folks, while not ignoring the needs of everyone else. He’s also the new sheriff in town with a department we know has some bad apples, like personnel who may march in goosestep with former Shasta County Sheriff Deputy Greg Walker.
Following Baugh’s questions, he quickly made a motion regarding whether the chambers should or should not be open. Outside, the crowd cheered and applauded. On the Zoom call, District 3 Supervisor Mary Rickert and supervisors Chimenti and Moty all countered with it depends, and going forward that decision is on a case-by-case situation, so the immediate answer was no. Baugh and Jones said yes, so Baugh’s motion failed with a 3-2 vote.
While the sheriff was still on the call, Chimenti, who is a former police officer, had one final question for Johnson:
“Was it your professional opinion — because public safety is your primary concern and I appreciate that — did you feel that you, 100 percent, given the threats that we had heard, that you could keep everybody in the board chambers safe, had we opened?”
Johnson said he could never guarantee anything, adding that there definitely were recent “heightened concerns” for the safety of the public, supervisors and staff.
Granted, it’s just been just two meetings since Chimenti left his chair position and handed the gavel to Moty. However, in just two meetings, Chimenti’s presented a different side of the District 1 supervisor, someone who seems more willing to stick his neck out and take a stand than he did during his term as board chair. Maybe it’s because he’s not running for re-election in June, and he feels he has nothing to lose. Or maybe it’s something else.
Either way, Tuesday he asked Chair Moty for permission to address a particular issue. With Moty’s approval, Chimenti proceeded to speak passionately about recalls for about 3 1/2 minutes. First, Chimenti expounded upon why recalls were bad in general. Finally, he got specific and addressed the elephant in the Zoom: Chimenit urged District 2 residents to vote no on the recall.
For those who support Moty and who are against the recall, Chimenti’s was a sad speech. Yes, it was the right speech, but it was delivered at the wrong time; exactly two weeks from the recall election that will decide his colleague’s fate as a supervisor. How wonderful it would have been for Chimenti to nip the recall in the bud early on, and recite those words last year, when the recall efforts began.
(Credit to Benjamin Nowain for capturing this video.)
(Jan. 21 update: I cannot believe I didn’t catch this the first time I watched the video of Chimenti’s speech, but an astute reader pointed it out, and she’s right: Nowhere in Chimenti’s speech does he recommend how someone should vote in the recall election. He says everyone should vote. Period. How difficult would it have been for Chimenti during his 3:17-minute-long soapbox presentation to say, “I stand with my colleague Leonard Moty”? How difficult would it have been for Chimenti to not just recommend people vote, but, say emphatically, “Vote NO on the recall!”? He could have said either of those things. He didn’t.)
Enough about Chimenti. Let’s talk about Jones’ unprofessional reaction to Chimenti’s words. Jones grinned, grimaced and hammed it up as Chimenti spoke. At about the 2:25 mark Jones puts a fist to his left eye and rubs back and forth across his cheek in a crybaby motion.
As disrespectful as that gesture was, the silver lining is that Jones’ maturity level is forever captured as a GIF, thanks to Benjamin Nowain.
Baugh goes ballistic
While Jones was fake crying on the outside, Baugh was possibly crying on the inside as his original plan to pack the board chambers with outraged supporters was thwarted by a meeting attended by some of the county’s top decision-makers. Among those at the meeting were Shasta County CEO Matt Pontes, Shasta County Counsel Rubin Cruse Jr., Shasta County Sheriff Mike Johnson, and Shasta County Supervisor Chair Moty. The men met to discuss how to proceed with the next meeting, considering increased COVID numbers, as well as threats of violence against supervisors.
Much has been made by supervisors Jones and Baugh, as well as Recall Shasta and RW&B followers, about what they’ve characterized as a “secret” meeting; a conspiracy to not hold the Jan. 18 meeting in person.
What’s humorous is while these grown men are racing around, pointing fingers and wondering who to “blame” for the decision to close the chambers and opt for a virtual meeting, signs posted on the doors spelled out the answers in plain sight all along:
“The Board Chambers are closed at this time by direction of the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors and the County Executive Officer.”
To make it even more clear, Matt Pontes is Shasta County CEO, and Supervisor Leonard Moty is Shasta County’s Board Chair.
If anything, rather than being demonized, Pontes and Moty should be lauded and celebrated for having the fortitude and backbone to make a difficult decision based completely upon public safety; not politics, not popularity, not giving into the demands of raging recallers.
That concept seems lost to many complainers who attributed nefarious actions to the meeting’s change of venue. Who did it! It must be Moty! It’s all his fault. It was his plan all along to avoid seeing us. And THAT’S another reason why he deserves to be recalled!
Case in point, a message posted on Red, White and Blueprint’s social media page made the county’s decision sound as if a grand conspiracy was afoot after a “private” meeting.
They can’t fathom that the meeting was private, intended for a particular caliber of high-level county staff. That meeting was not a y’all come, but open to only specific, authorized country representatives. No, not you, Patrick or Les.
But that’s not how RW&B chose to see it, nor characterize it. Their version only added more smoldering lies to the burn pile of misinformation that’s maliciously set Moty’s career ablaze:
In short order, borrowing a page from Red, White and Blueprint’s post, Baugh’s Facebook post took a similar stance, and further stirred the pot, agitating his 4,987 Facebook followers, many of whom believe Pastor Baugh is truly who he says he is.
Sweet little lambs.
By Les Baugh: Supervisors locked out of BOS Chamber?
Maybe it’s just an electronic malfunction… anyone believe that one? Looks like access doors have been reprogrammed. Some may be quick to say, “Glad they locked you out, Les Baugh.” Or “Make sure they don’t let Jones in.” Be careful what you ask for. You, the public, have been locked out as well. Besides the fact that I AM NOT EVEN CONSIDERING OPENING THE CHAMBERS on Tuesday, no one, I repeat, NO ONE has the legal authority to keep an elected Supervisor from entering. The CEO doesn’t have the authority. In fact, the CEO works for the Board of Supervisors, not the other way around. The elected chairman does not have the authority. The only authority given to the chairman is to run the meetings and choose the format. The chairman does not have the authority, ANY AUTHORITY, over other elected supervisors.
Can you spell Liberty Counsel?
—Order of events:
County issued Covid warning.
County closes some venues.
County BOS meetings go virtual.
County board chambers rekeyed.
—Coincidence or preplanned?
I do not believe in coincidences. If you haven’t figured it out yet, your local government pre-plans everything. If you do believe this is merely coincidence, I have a bridge I would love to sell to you. You decide. And yes, I will get to the bottom of it.
What neither Baugh, Jones or the Red, White and Blueprinters seem to grasp is that the explanation for the locked chamber doors and the in-person meeting exchanged for a Zoom meeting was obvious: The county’s top grown-ups made the best decisions for all citizens’ health and safety, including the supervisors who’ve received credible death threats. And the complaints about being “locked out” and not having key-card access also appears obvious: so Baugh and Jones couldn’t pull yet another breach-the-chambers stunt.
In another post, soon after it became public about threats against Moty and Rickert, Baugh made Me Too claims on his Facebook page that he had also received violent threats.
No wonder county leaders chose to close the board chambers. Wouldn’t Baugh (if he were chair) make the same decision if another supervisor reported death threats, especially if the sheriff took those threats seriously? (Well, second thought ...)
And yet, suddenly, inexplicably, Baugh was outraged that the chambers were closed to him and his adoring public, despite the fact that part of the reason behind the decision in the first place was because of death threats he claimed happen to him, that he posted on Facebook.
It’s like a kid telling his teacher he saw a shoebox with a ticking clock and a bunch of wires hanging in the school gym, only to throw a tantrum when he misses wrestling practice because the school’s evacuated.
Baugh’s wrong about just about everything he wrote in the above Facebook post, which is a shame because so many people trust that what he says is true. Frankly, Baugh’s ignorance about county procedures, practices and protocol is stunning.
Baugh’s false statement No. 1: “The elected chair does not have the authority …”
The truth is that it’s customary for various county staff to work closely with the board chair prior to board meetings to set agendas and other details. It was through this planning process that the decision was made to conduct the Jan. 18 meeting virtually due to circumstances related to COVID-19, as well as public safety concerns.
The board chair — Moty –and the county CEO — Pontes — also have the authority to limit in-person attendance at meetings, just as they have the authority to limit access to board chambers when some limitations are necessary regarding in-person attendance (think social distancing).
According to Rule 2(A) of Administrative Policy 1-101: “The chairman shall preside over, preserve order and decorum, and announce each action of the Board at all Board meetings.”
Look back to March 24, 2020, when the Shasta County Board of Supervisors adopted Resolution 2020-032 that ratified the proclamation by the sheriff who acted as the County Director of Emergency Services, related to COVID-19. Included in that resolution the Shasta County Board of Supervisors also stated that the county’s CEO is authorized to modify the circumstances under which any county office is open to the public, including, but not limited to, the hours and days of operation, as well as limits on in-person contact.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but consider the fact that some of the threats to Moty were made by people on social media who vowed to attend the Jan. 18 meeting. With that in mind, only a blind, tone-deaf, reckless, careless leader would allow an in-person meeting in a room that lacks metal detectors in a county with the highest per capita CCW rate in the state, where some people are calling for blood in the streets, civil war and a lynch mob for Moty.
Baugh’s false statement No. 2: “NO ONE has the legal authority to keep an elected Supervisor from entering.”
It’s clear that yes, the county CEO and the board chair do have the authority to decide many things. For example, they can decide whether key cards are active, deactivated or re-activated. They can decide if meetings are conducted in-person, when it’s safe to do so, or if meetings are held virtually, out of an abundance of caution.
Recurring threats from Red White and Blueprint fans
A word about those threats. We revealed screen grabs of an alarming number of threats made to Moty written on Red White and Blueprint’s Facebook page. Examples included references to tar and feathers, taking Moty into a dark alley, using rebar as a weapon, and even death as his ultimate punishment.
Following that column, Red, White and Blueprint posted a disingenuous statement on its Red, White and Blueprint page. It’s signed, “Sincerely, Carlos, Jeremy and Jon” – as in RW&B’s trinity, head Carlos Zapata, RW&B director Jeremy Edwardson, and RW&B producer Jon Knight.
What’s especially rich is this passage: “We at Red White and Blueprint strongly condemn any and all threats of violence to the supervisors of Shasta County.”
The same day that RW&B posted its love letter in which it disavowed violence, Recall Shasta posted a similar message on Facebook. The look is similar to RW&B’s message, right down to the shading, the colors and the fonts. What’s more, both messages were sent on Jan. 13, the same day that the county leaders decided to forego the in-person meeting and go virtual.
Both the RW&B and Recall Shasta messages are literally unbelievable.
Why? Look no further than the Red, White and Blueprint Facebook page to see yet more threats against Moty, some worse than what we’d seen before. Some are barely veiled, like this first one about Moty needing a “visit from some ‘concerned citizens’. Even so, it’s written in such a way that “visit” sounds sinister, and it’s doubtful the “concerned citizens” are anything but.
Other threats are as overt as can be, such as the one that says Moty’s not expecting a lynch mob, but he’s going to get one.
Keep in mind these were comments from just Red, White and Blueprint’s page. We’ve not even ventured to the pages of RW&B supporters, and Recall Shasta, and State of Jefferson, and on and on and on. How many threats are needed before they’re taken seriously?
Those particular comments were in response to the recent RW&B video that was highly edited and manipulated to make Moty appear as an evil tyrant. Since it was first posted, thousands of RW&B followers have gobbled it up and swallowed it whole, never taking time to digest the truth of what really happened. The talented person who created that video artfully and deliberately removed the damning sections where uncouth speakers behaved like petulant, unruly children. Next, he stitched the remaining pieces together to create Moty the monster, rather than Moty the man of integrity trying to institute some degree of much-needed decorum after a year of Chimenti’s devil-may-care rein.
A time for hard questions
Should one of these commenters put their violent words to action and hurt Moty or a family member, would the creative minds at Red, White and Blueprint lose a wink of sleep over their part in the systematic destruction of an innocent man?
To those who attended Jones’ party beneath Shasta County’s seal, who recited the Pledge of Allegiance, who joined the prayer asking for God’s guidance, who laughed when someone yelled, “Let’s go, Moty”, who ate donuts and pizza, who held borrowed yellow recall signs bought by a millionaire. To all of you, and everyone else who’s fallen for the lie that Leonard Moty should be recalled, without really knowing why …
That ascot-wearing, fancy-booze drinking millionaire thinks we’re all dumb hicks. He doesn’t give two shits about who we are, or who we used to be, or how much damage his political meddling has done to our North State and our people. Ponder for a moment why, out of all the candidates the millionaire could infuse with money, he chose Patrick Henry Jones.
Why Jones? Because the millionaire knew Jones could be bought, and Moty could not.
And there you have it: the real reason behind the recall.
Photos by Alan Ernesto Phillips and Doni Chamberlain