April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. I didn’t know about it until Tuesday, when the engaging Brookelyn Stafte of Empower Tehama presented a proclamation for adoption by the Tehama County Board of Supervisors. #SAAM is observed nationally, and the statistics are staggering.
One in five women will experience completed or attempted rape in their lifetime. Men are victims, too. Almost a quarter of them experience some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime. Sexual violence is any type of unwanted sexual contact, including words and actions of a sexual nature against a person’s will and without their consent. 81% of women and 41% of men reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment or assault.
Starting out in a tiny office over 25 years ago as Alternatives to Violence, Empower Tehama provides education, intervention programs and responsive services designed to inspire personal transformation. Breaking the cycle of violence by promoting healthy relationships and social change, their programs positively affect everyone in the county and beyond. They provide crisis counseling, emergency shelter, on-site transitional housing, legal advocacy and assistance, rental assistance, support groups, and a 24-hour crisis hotline – 530-528-0226.
The past two years I have held my own little fundraiser for Empower Tehama and this year is no different. From April 1-15, I will donate 20% of every order placed in my Neora business. From April 16-30, it will be 10% of every order. For info text me at 530-212-0037, email me at email@example.com or visit my website lizmerry.neora.com. Last year your generosity enabled me to donate $560 to ET – I’m shooting for $800 or more this year. What do you need? Weight loss, skin care, hair care, wellness? All of the above? I can hook you up. You’ll look and feel better. ET will get money with no strings attached.
Empower Tehama gets much of its funding from grants, but those funds are usually tied to specific expenses. Discretionary funds are important because they can be used immediately where they are most needed. A bus ticket, a pair of shoes for a child, whatever.
And speaking of discretionary funds, Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston was back at the lectern at the Supervisors meeting Tuesday to report on an arrest the sheriff’s department made in Rancho Tehama. Apparently Lo Bounlord (pronounced Bun Lord as in Lord of the Buns) stole a tv from a residence and dragged it to his home. When neighbors attempted to stop him, he thought randomly busting a few caps might help and it did. He made it home with the tv, still firing his gun.
Law enforcement showed up and tried to negotiate a surrender, but instead the Bun Lord shot at the deputies. The SWAT team arrived with their armored vehicle and eventually filled the home with tear gas. Bounlord surrendered naked with hands raised and his buns were soon in the pokey. Party over.
Johnston talked about the armored vehicle. It cost $450,000 and was purchased by the Sheriff’s Department with asset seizure funds. Federal, state, and local governments can seize property involved with criminal activity, often drug related. The feds and states divy it up and give it to local law enforcement to use in investigations and to purchase badass toys like the aforementioned armored vehicle.
I say toy but it’s really a life saver. And it’s another example of the sheriff’s department wisely using the funds it can glean from sources other than the General Fund to protect and serve. Can you imagine if Sheriff Hencratt approached the board of supervisors, hat in hand, to ask for half a million bucks to purchase an armored vehicle? Me neither.
So, why isn’t local law enforcement seizing land assets? Since Code Enforcement has stopped targeting small personal cannabis grows, they have been becoming more efficient at finding and abating large criminal commercial operations. But these criminals are being penalized the same way we personal growers were. They get an abatement notice and usually pull their plants. If it’s an indoor grow, they are often cited for electric and building code violations. If they don’t correct the issue, they are fined and eventually liened.
Why aren’t more of these people, often involved in large crime syndicates, charged with criminal offenses? Most of them aren’t violent to my knowledge, but they could be arrested, charged and have their assets seized. Like the properties these grows are on, for example. Obviously, if they can prove they bought the property with legally obtained funds, it couldn’t be seized. But when that land makes the crime possible, it’s like seizing a firearm used in a robbery, isn’t it?
Cannabis is still a Federal Schedule 1 drug, for now. Congress just passed a decriminalization bill and it goes to the Senate later this month. But even when it does pass, growing very large amounts of cannabis without a license or permit will still be illegal.
A little history for you. In Tehama County, 99 plants were considered a personal grow before the Supes passed their current disastrous cannabis ordinance, which has ruined lives and deflated property values. They decided to start spending almost a million dollars a year to fly helicopters over the unincorporated portions of the county searching people’s backyards for the devil weed. Once found, the county made it impossible for some people to comply with abatement. No instructions were given on how to dispose of the plants, so when Code Enforcement agents came back to make sure they were gone, it was up to their discretion on whether to “sign off” on the abatement. Some people were found to be non-compliant if there were a few dry leaves left on the ground. The $1,000 a day fines added up quickly and fines of the $30,000 – $60,000 were not uncommon. If left unpaid, those fines turned to liens on the property and many land owners cut their losses and walked away.
The liens were foreclosable, but the county had to wait five years before auctioning them off. That led to squatters and blight, or even just critters moving in and destroying the homes. Now, years later, the county has realized that was the dumbest business plan ever, and the ordinance is not enforced the way it once was. No more military-style helicopter raids – they use drones now. And they’re leaving poor, sick, old hippies alone. So, progress is being made.
The ordinance is still on the books, however. Time to rewrite or repeal that puppy. Especially now that Red Bluff will have cannabis dispensaries and other businesses. Those entrepreneurs will be importing products that should be grown and manufactured right here.
And how about we let the criminal pot cartels pay for what law enforcement needs to protect themselves since the county won’t? Siskiyou and Shasta Counties have commercial grows running amok. Could asset seizure help? There are limits and restrictions to what can legally be seized and I don’t know the rules, but somebody around here must. If it would take years to auction the land, forget I even suggested it. We’ve seen what happens to unoccupied property.
Thank you to everyone who reached out about Bobo, our sick canine kid. He is all better now and we know the collective good wishes you sent helped. He was chewing on something in the pasture again last night, but Mr. Standish determined it was not another fish. He even sniffed Bobo’s breath, which was going way beyond the call of duty. Donkey biscuits appeared to have been the only thing on Bobo’s menu. Whew. No kisses, thanks.
Oh boy – another Neora order coming in. Thanks to everyone who has already made a purchase. Who’s next?