Gateway School Board Heads For Special Election … In a County Where 3 Supes Dumped the Voting System

Gateway Unified School District Trustees Elias and Lindsi Haynes.

It’s official. Shasta County has retained the title of meanest county in California. Don’t believe it? Not only will we terminate your ability to vote, we’ll come after your pet goat!

Consider VICE News’s latest glimpse into our local affairs, “Did Fox News Melt This County’s Brain?” The brain the program refers to specifically belongs to District 4 Shasta County Board of Supervisors chairman Patrick Jones, who is correctly pegged as the fact-free source of Shasta County’s alleged election doubts.

Jones (District 4) and supervisors Kevin Crye (District 1) and Chris Kelstrom (District 5), collectively known as Los Tres Chiflados, voted to terminate Shasta County’s contract with Dominion Voting Systems last week, offering no evidence why, and making Shasta County the laughingstock of the civilized world, again.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the entire mainstream media has rediscovered the plight of Cedar, the hapless 4-H goat who met its demise at a local barbecue last summer. At the Shasta District Fair, Cedar’s young owner didn’t want the goat to be slaughtered, even though that’s the rule. So mom kidnapped the goat, which had been purchased by Sen. Brian Dahle, and spirited it off to an animal sanctuary in Sonoma County.

At the insistence of fair officials, Shasta County Sheriff’s Office detectives, armed with a court-approved search warrant, tracked the animal down, retrieved it and apparently rather promptly ate the doomed goat at a so-far unnamed charity event. Naturally, mom is suing.

Now, I recall talking to a local prominent rancher last year who told me that the kid and Cedar had it coming; it’s the way of the 4-H world, you can’t upset the natural order, and I didn’t disagree. But in retrospect, the enforcement in Cedar’s case seems rather rambunctious. It’s harder to notice things like that in real time, when you live in the meanest county in California.

Case in point: the Gateway Unified School District Board of Trustees Monday night meeting.

There were two major items on the agenda: the $340,000 Expanded Learning Opportunity Program contract being sought by Ninja Coalition Inc. owner and Shasta County District 1 Supervisor Kevin Crye, and the third round of candidates seeking to replace disgraced former board president Cherrill Clifford, who resigned in February.

Former Gateway president Cherrill Clifford and Lindsi and Elias Haynes in happier times.

As I recently reported, Crye, an anti-government conservative who freely mixes his Ninja businesses with government service, has raked in potentially millions of dollars in ELOP contracts from dozens of school districts throughout northern California, without reporting the extent of his activities to the Fair Political Practices Commission, as required by law.

I knew in advance the Gateway Board would approve Crye’s contract because Crye himself told me so last week in a telephone interview. At Monday’s meeting, Gateway trustee Lindsi Haynes thanked Crye for reaching out. Was her husband, Gateway trustee Elias Haynes next to Lindsi when Crye called? Is that a Brown Act violation?

I don’t know.

What I do know is that Crye’s up-to-$340,000 ELOP contract was approved by a 3-0 vote, with the Hayne couple and Dale Wallace voting yes. Phil Lewis, who was on vacation, would have made it 4-0 had he been there.

None of these trustees, especially the Haynes, can claim to be small government conservatives after this vote.

Crye’s Ninja companies are doing business in the Gateway district as California Adventure Camps for spring break and summer school. The main event appears to be a June 5 concert featuring the 1990s rock band Smash Mouth at Central Valley High School. Old people two decades removed from high school will recall the chorus of the band’s hit “All Star”:

Hey now, you’re an all-star, get your game on, go play
Hey now, you’re a rock star, get the show on, get paid
And all that glitters is gold
Only shooting stars break the mold

Is this age appropriate? Was Pinkfong not available?


This is what the $5 billion allotted to ELOP is being spent on across the state, supposedly to reduce learning loss resulting from the public health measures taken during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s worth noting that Kevin Crye entered politics because he’s an anti-mask, anti-vax fanatic.

Like a broken clock tells the right time twice a day, local gadfly and former PHJ-squeeze Delores Lucero summed Crye up perfectly during the public comment period.

“He’s taking advantage of your situation and using the kids to benefit his pockets,” she said.

Meanwhile, I’m aware of a half-dozen experienced Gateway district teachers who, thanks to the turmoil caused by the departed Clifford and the remaining Haynes, will be moving on to other districts after that Smash Mouth concert. That’s real learning loss, and no one is offering them a $340,000 contract, or even a fraction of that, to stay.

Elias and Lindsi Haynes — a husband-and-wife team — had one last shot at redemption at Monday night’s meeting. Could the ultraconservative couple agree with Dale Wallace on one of the four candidates vying for Clifford’s vacated trustee slot, and avoid an expensive special election in November?

Of course they couldn’t. But they tried to fake it anyway.

With the exception of candidate Joseph Fairfield, who rambled incoherently about attempted murderers and school shootings, the candidates were all qualified. Candidates Jill Marshall and Charity Tatlow were standouts in the interviews, in which Elias posed questions such as (my translation), “If you were given an unlawful order, would you follow it?” and “What weakness are you hiding that would prevent us from hiring you?”

I can answer that first question. When I was in the Navy once upon a time this boiler tech master chief ordered me to pump the oil out of the bilges when we were inside the legal limit for doing so coming into Puget Sound. I refused to pump the bilges because I knew it was against the law and a source of constant embarrassment to the Navy.

The master chief waited for me to get off watch and got the next guy to do it and the ship actually got busted for it.

Charity Tatlow had the best answer for Elias Haynes’ “weakness” question, which was basically (again my translation), “I’m not answering and what kind of question is that to ask in the first place?”

Tatlow has a child in the Gateway district, which is one of Lindsi Haynes’ stated prerequisites for the trustee position, and no doubt some in the audience watching the livestream were feeling upbeat when Lindsi motioned to nominate Tatlow. But after Wallace voted for Tatlow, it all went downhill, with Elias saying he couldn’t vote for Tatlow because she didn’t answer the “weakness” question.

Even Lindsi, who’d nominated Tatlow, withdrew her support.

No other candidate came close, which means the Gateway Unified School District must now pay for a special election in November and suffer through 2-2 board deadlock during the eight-month interim.

Are you digging the MAGA lifestyle yet?

Which brings us full circle back to the meanest county in California, where the three stooges, Jones, Kelstrom and Crye, have terminated our ability to vote by machine.

How is Gateway supposed to pick a new trustee with no voting system in place?

Who knows? Maybe a small school board seat election is the best way to test Jones’s proposed hand-counting scheme. Sure, it will be expensive, but he certainly won’t be paying for it.

The district will be picking up the tab.


If you appreciate journalist R.V. Scheide’s investigative reporting and commentary, please consider a contribution to A News Cafe. Thank you!

R.V. Scheide

R.V. Scheide is an award-winning journalist who has covered news, politics, music, arts and culture in Northern California for more than 30 years. His work has appeared in the Tenderloin Times, Sacramento News & Review, Reno News & Review, Chico News & Review, North Bay Bohemian, San Jose Metro, SF Bay Guardian, SF Weekly, Alternet, Boston Phoenix, Creative Loafing and Counterpunch, among many other publications. His honors include winning the California Newspaper Publishers Association’s Freedom of Information Act and best columnist awards as well as best commentary from the Society of Professional Journalists, California chapter. Mr. Scheide welcomes your comments and story tips. Contact him at RVScheide@anewscafe.com..

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