Shasta County Supervisors Meeting Reveals Far-Right Crazy Quilt of Resolutions, Insults and Ignorance

For rational folks who’ve kept abreast of the nearly four-year-long dumpster fire that’s Shasta County’s new normal, a cringeworthy dread often accompanies the sight of dignified newcomers at Shasta County Board of Supervisors meetings.

It’s akin to the anxiety one might suffer after inviting a well-adjusted friend to a bat-shit crazy dysfunctional family dinner; hoping the “problem” relatives will be on their best behavior for the new folks.

Don’t bet on it.

Please, fellas, don’t embarrass yourselves. No burping, farting, fighting or puking on the table; precisely the kinds of behaviors one might expect from those who’d reject their colleague District 3 Supervisor Mary Rickert’s suggestion for a Code of Conduct.

Who rejects a Code of Conduct? District 1 Supervisor Kevin Crye, District 5 Supervisor Chris Kelstrom and District 4 Supervisor/Chair Patrick Jones, that’s who.

Charter County Consideration

So it was Tuesday inside the Shasta County Board of Supervisors chambers, where a  trio of invited, polished, professional California State Association of Counties (CSAC) guests sat in the front row as they awaited their turn to deliver an informational presentation about Charter Counties.

Part of CSAC’s mission is to educate the public about county government, and Tuesday, that’s precisely what the CSAC team did regarding the topic of Charter Counties.

District 1 Supervisor Crye sponsored the agenda item, and he didn’t hide the fact that his mind was already made up as an enthusiastic supporter of Shasta County becoming a Charter County. Ditto for his dependable voting cohorts, District 5 Supervisor Kelstrom, and District 4 Supervisor/Chair Patrick Jones.

If ‘Charter County’ rings a bell, you may recall that Crye’s former-favorite forever-failed CEO pick, Chriss Street, was a strong proponent of not just splitting the state, but ditching Shasta County’s current General Law status — and swapping it for a Charter County government.

Chriss Street responds to questions asked by news anchor Mike Mangas. Photo source: KRCR video screengrab.

Also, reach yet further back in time to when District 4 Supervisor Patrick Jones was a Redding City Councilman — prior to becoming financially intimate with son-of-a-billionaire Reverge Anselmo – when he failed at his attempt to turn Redding into a Charter City (different from a Charter County).

During Legislative Advocate Eric Lawyer and Legislative Analyst Jessica Sankus’ slide show, they explained that of 58 California counties, 14 are Charter Counties, and 44 are General Law Counties, like Shasta County.

CSAC Legislative Advocate Eric Lawyer speaks about Charter Counties at Tuesday’s supervisors meeting.

They said that ultimately, voters would decide whether they wanted Shasta County to become a Charter County. With that in mind, on the one hand, as much as the board majority may wish and push for a Charter County, it should be a relief to know that voters make the ultimate choice.

However, on the other hand, as we’ve learned about Shasta County’s Mafioso-like politics, massive advertising funding by the likes of son-of-a-billionaire Reverge Anselmo can make winners from even the biggest losers.

Shasta County Supervisor/Chair Patrick Jones loses control of yet another meeting. Photo by Doni Chamberlain

“The reason I brought this forward is I think the more we can have an opportunity for the public to be involved in the governance of the county, the better,” Crye said, adding his guarantee that it would take “minimal” staff time to transform Shasta County from a General County to a Charter County.

As often happens during Shasta County supervisors meetings, polarizing lines were quickly drawn between progressives and moderates who, in this case, opposed a Charter County, and extremists who embraced it. Generally speaking, those who favored Shasta County becoming a Charter County were Crye, Kelstrom, Jones, and such well-known supporters as Lori Bridgeford, Richard Gallardo, and Terry Rapoza.

Conversely, those who expressed opposition to the idea of turning Shasta County into a Charter County aligned more closely with Supervisor Rickert and sometimes-stable-voter District 2 Supervisor Tim Garman.

Several of the anti-Charter County speakers were also part of the Kevin Crye Recall endeavor.

Case in point was Dawn Duckett, who always introduces herself as a fiscal conservative. Tuesday she voiced strong reservations about the Charter County concept. She used the analogy of her desire to install a waterfall feature in her swimming pool, but her home’s foundation needed repair, her HVAC system was failing and her car needed new tires.

Fiscal conservative Dawn Duckett.

She asked Crye, if it’s true that he wants a Charter County for more local control, what exactly did he want control over that he didn’t already have, and how would this additional control benefit the community.

Crickets. This was one of those times when Crye selectively decided to not respond to a speaker’s question.

“This entire endeavor would be the waterfall feature in my backyard,” Duckett said.

She then listed the more pressing concerns the county should prioritize, rather than waste time, effort, and expense to turn Shasta County into a Charter County. Her examples included roads that need repair and a jail that needs to open.

“This is a frivolous, expensive endeavor, and for very little bang for the buck,” Duckett said.

Jon Knight — who later in the meeting was appointed by the board majority to serve on the Shasta Mosquito & Vector Control District over experienced epidemiologist Donnell Ewert — emphasized the absence of a far-right conspiracy behind some people’s desire for Shasta County to become a Charter County.

Red, White and Blueprint producer Jon Knight offered to fund the recount of the 2022 election.

“This isn’t about right or left,” Knight said. “This is about restoring our rights, and the overreach … We don’t want Gavin Newsom making executive orders telling us what we can and can’t do…. We’re trying to restore power to we the people. You guys, do your research. This is not a right-wing cabal.”

Roughly half the audience whooped and clapped their approval.

Knight’s characterization of a possible Shasta Charter County offered a two-pronged potential appeal to Crye and likeminded colleagues and frustrated far-right citizens: local control and pushback against the Governor.


Generally speaking, even with a limited degree of home-rule authority, a Charter County can  sometimes govern itself differently from what is stipulated by state law.

For those speculating exactly why Crye, Kelstrom, Jones and their followers would want to transform Shasta County into a Charter County, several possibilities arose when the CSAC speakers mentioned rules related to county officials that Charter Counties must abide by.

First, according to Lawyer from CSAC, a Charter County must include the following officials:

  • An elected governing body of 5 or more members.
  • An elected sheriff.
  • An elected district attorney.
  • An elected assessor.
  • Other elected or appointed officers.

Look closely and you’ll notice one official position that’s conspicuously absent from this list: An elected registrar of voters.

Shasta County Registrar of Voters Cathy Darling Allen.

This omission could be just the ticket for far-right leaders and followers who’ve long despised Cathy Darling Allen, the head of Shasta County elections.

Second, Lawyer from CSAC said Charter Counties must also include the following administration of officials:

  • The compensation, terms and removal of officials.
  • The performance of functions of these officials.
  • The powers and duties of the governing board and all other officers, including consolidation of duties and filling vacancies.

This list begs some questions: Could a Shasta Charter County allow the board majority to remove an elected official, like Cathy Darling Allen, or a supervisor like District 2 Supervisor Tim Garman (called the “biggest disappointment” by Terry Rapoza during Tuesday’s public comment period)?

For that matter, could Charter County rules allow the board majority to dispose of any county employee — aside from the sheriff, the district attorney and the assessor – deemed by the board majority as undesirable for one reason or another?

To illustrate Shasta County’s instability, and the reason why Shasta County could not afford the distraction of pursuing Charter County status, Garman correctly pointed out that new interim Shasta County Counsel Gretchen Stuhr is the fifth attorney to hold that position since his swearing-in ceremony 18 months ago.

Interim Shasta County Counsel Gretchen Stuhr.

He also mentioned the exodus from the county of high-ranking employees, and said that although he wasn’t against the idea of Charter Counties entirely, this was no time to make such a big change.

Then Garman delivered a bombshell fact: Since January of 2020, Shasta County has spent about $16.5 million paying for outside counsel.

“Let’s get our county stable first and then we can go that route,” Garman told his three board-majority colleagues.

Rickert was against the Charter County concept for similar reasons. She said Crye’s fixation on turning Shasta County into a Charter County should be a low priority, especially when compared to the county’s other more pressing needs.

“We have to prioritize. It’s public health, it’s public safety, it’s the homeless issue,” Rickert said. We’ve got to focus on taking care of our people first.”

Approximately half of the audience erupted in applause.

Somewhere in the midst of the Charter County debate, the CSAC representatives quietly slipped out the door, and way the heck out of fractured Shasta County, back to Sacramento.

Palo Cedro parking lot

In a previous board meeting Supervisor Crye ramrodded through his idea to glean feedback from Palo Cedro residents’ still embroiled in a prolonged debate between those who want a specific plan and those who don’t. Crye’s bright idea was for Supervisors Kelstrom and Rickert – each of whom represents parts of Palo Cedro – to sit in front of the community’s Holiday Market for six hours to conduct in-person surveys.

Crye’s idea had many flaws, such as the fact that not all residents could show up during those hours, and if they did, there would be no way humanly possible for Rickert, Kelstrom and a county staff person to speak with everyone and administer that many surveys.

Plus, Rickert addressed considerations about the parking lot capacity, not to mention that the decent thing to do is first gain permission from the store’s owner. Crye was dismissive of all  Rickert’s concerns, which is business as usual when it comes to Crye’s disrespectful treatment of Rickert.

Crye said he had connections at the Holiday Market because he and his daughter stop by the store for donuts every day on the way to school, so he could just ask the owner. Problem solved.  Not.

At Tuesday’s meeting a Palo Cedro resident voiced several misgivings about Rickert and Kelstom’s upcoming Sun., Oct. 15 shopping center survey event. He requested more information-gathering options to make the process fair and equitable for all. He said that otherwise, data collected on that one day for those few hours would be flawed because not everyone — like his 92-year-old neighbor — could drive there during that specific time frame. With the one-day shopping-center method, the man said the only responses tallied would be from a specific sample group.

Mary agreed with the man, and said she’d prefer that Palo Cedro residents’ opinions were gathered in additional ways, too, such as from emails, letters or phone calls.

Rickert admitted that she’d conceded to Crye’s idea because she was “painted in a corner” – which she certainly was. Anyone who’s watched the wild, raucous board meetings and observed how Crye uses every opportunity to mock, bully and belittle Rickert, knows that had she declined Crye’s shopping center idea, he would have accused her of not caring for her Palo Cedro constituents.

Sure enough, Tuesday Crye once again went into attack mode against Rickert. At one point he said she was right, she hadn’t done anything regarding the Palo Cedro issue for two years. That was a lie. Rickert had said no such thing. The fact is she has participated in many meetings with residents for years on this subject.

But Crye wasn’t done. A smirking Crye then accused Rickert of saying she wanted residents who showed up at the Holiday Market identified by voter IDs, to which Rickert vehemently shook her head and countered, “I did not!”

Kelstrom later backed Rickert and said that he remembered her tongue-in-cheek question asking how they could possibly verify everyone at the shopping-center survey event to determine whether the survey-takers were Palo Cedro residents or elsewhere.

“I want to do what’s best for the people of Palo Cedro,” Rickert said. “I always have.”

Toothless, time-consuming pandemic resolution

Crye was once again in center stage with his second sponsored agenda item of the day. This one was a preemptive strike of sorts; pushing back against as-yet nonexistent state health mandates in the event of not just COVID, but any pandemic:

“Adopt a resolution which expresses the Board of Supervisors’ opposition to any overreaching government mandate related to COVID-19 or other health pandemics which impact individual liberties.”

The resolution wasn’t a surprise, since Crye had broached this subject at a previous board meeting. But what was surprising was when Crye admitted that his resolution was toothless. Even so, Crye predicted that other counties would follow Shasta County’s lead to push similar resolutions forward, saying, “We fell for it once, we’re not going to fall for it again.”

‘It’ meaning potentially future state pandemic mandates.

Crye said he wanted the resolution so Shasta County would not overreach and “take away people’s liberties”.

Richard Gallardo weighed in on Crye’s pandemic resolution during the public comment period and offered his enthusiastic support.

Gallardo also tipped his hand when he called in to a recent Patriot State of Mine radio show, where he suggested future significant actions by the board majority; almost as if they’d been consulted and agreed to Gallardo’s plan.

If you’re new to Shasta County’s gallery of memorable far-right characters, Gallardo is renowned for being fired for brandishing a gun at his former CalFire job, for a failed mass citizens’ arrest of county board members and staff, and finally, most recently he was identified as one of the men who terrorized an older Redding man with shouts, threats and bright flashlights while the man was inside his modest mobile home.

Tuesday, Gallardo encouraged supervisors to approve Crye’s resolution, and then said something that implied he knew the identity of the yet-unnamed health officer, a decision made by supervisors in closed session that hasn’t been made public. (And no, supervisors did not disclose their choice for the new health officer during Tuesday’s meeting.)

Not only did Gallardo appear to know the name of the future health officer, but he seemed to know the future health officer’s philosophy regarding pandemic mandates, and how that future  health officer would react to state mandates.

“The public health officer, who will be announced, I think, today, he works under the pleasure of this board,” Gallardo said. “So he will be also ensuring that there are no mandates in this county.”

What made that statement extra noteworthy was Jones recently insisted upon a lengthy investigation that cost the county tens of thousands of dollars to track down a non-existent leaker who ostensibly told people that rejected CEO candidate Chriss Street was a shoe-in. But as it turned out, he wasn’t a shoe-in. He wasn’t hired.

A confidential informant suggested that in reality, Supervisor Crye, who’d invited Street to apply for the CEO position, was the lead leaker, followed by Street, the leakiest leaker of all.

Back to Crye’s pre-pandemic mandate resolution. One notable detail is that the interim county counsel said that although her office did offer some language suggestions prior to the resolution being on the agenda, Crye rejected those suggestions.

Speaking of the county counsel, Rickert, as she’s done since the start of COVID-19 in 2020, sought county counsel’s clarification regarding whether the county had any jurisdiction over schools’ decisions regarding state mandates, including whether children should wear masks.

The new county counsel, Gretchen Stuhr — the only person on the dais wearing a face mask — offered Rickert the same answer as all the previous county counsels and interim county counsels before her (five this year alone).

Gretchen Stuhr responds to Supervisor Rickert’s question on Stuhr’s first day as acting interim county counsel.

No, replied Stuhr, the board has no jurisdiction over state mandates regarding schools, however, school boards do.

Rickert attested that COVID is real, and recounted stories of friends and loved ones who’d lost their lives to the virus, and that COVID has been prevalent in Shasta County.

“Shasta County had one of the highest rates of death from COVID,” Rickert said. “… I went to four funerals. We lost the president of our school board to COVID.”

Dist. 3 Supervisor Mary Rickert

Rickert concluded that she would not support something over which the board had no jurisdiction, but also because of the resolution’s stance against masks. She said the greatest scientific minds in the medical system wear masks.

Supervisor Kelstrom conceded that COVID is a deadly virus, just as influenza is a deadly virus, especially for people with comorbidities. He then delivered a time-travel soliloquy back three years, to when Kelstrom said he and others were accused of “wearing a tinfoil hat” and of being ignorant. Kelstrom said he was told he wasn’t following the science regarding the virus, masks and vaccines, and that he and others were “going to kill grandma.”

Fast-forward to September 2023.

“So, as far as science, I was wearing a tinfoil hat three years ago and everything I said has proven true since then,” Kelstrom said. “So I’ll keep my tinfoil hat on. I fully support this.”

Hearty audience applause and whoops of approval followed Kelstrom’s speech.

Finally, District 2 Supervisor Tim Garman delivered a confusing mishmash about his position on the pandemic resolution. The audience endured Garman’s verbal roller coaster ride that put people on the edge of their seats, wondering how he’d eventually vote.

First, Garman said he would support the resolution. But then he described how exactly two years ago he was so ill with COVID that he wrote good-bye letters to his family.

“I was that sick,” Garman said, his voice choked with emotion. “My family does not know that. They just heard that if they are watching today. COVID is real.”

Then-citizen Tim Garman suffered a severe case of COVID prior to becoming the District 2 Supervisor following Leonard Moty’s removal from office in a lie-based recall.

Next Garman shared a recent story of how his daughter contracted COVID, with symptoms so alarming that she was taken by ambulance to the hospital.

“So for you to sit there and say, ‘I take my vitamins, I’m not going to get sick, I’m not going to catch it’ —  BS!, Garman said. “You can still easily catch is as easy as I did, or anybody else.”

Garman’s quasi-cautionary tale over, he said he’d support Crye’s pandemic resolution because he believed in individual rights. Still not finished, Garman proposed a caveat; that state mandates should be followed in the event of an extremely deadly virus; such as one with a 50-percent fatality rate.

“Then you better bet your bottom dollar that I’m going to come in here and say we need to make some changes!” Garman said. “We need to force some different resolutions or whatever that looks like to protect our people.”

Crye disagreed, and said that even if a virus had a 50-percent fatality rate, he’d stand firm with his anti-mandate resolution, and said he’d just stay home at that point.

Garman added that he believed individual businesses had the right to enforce mask mandates, whether it was Costco or his barbershop.

“Having said all that, I do support it; cautionary,” Garman said. “And I support it because we’re not breaking any state laws. It’s an expression, and I agree with Supervisor Crye. I do hope that other counties do kind of pick up on this, because I think that this is toothless … but it does send a message to folks that, ‘listen, we want to have our own choices when it comes to this’. And that’s where I stand on this. And I hope you all understand it.”

Uh, not really.

To further confuse matters, Garman returned to the topic and said that COVID was spreading throughout Shasta County. Garman said he knew of companies that were shut down because of COVID, and he knew some people were uncomfortable to attend the supervisors meetings for fear of contracting COVID.

He may have had a point, because Tuesday’s meeting displayed more empty seats than usual, and several people in the audience wore face masks, which had become rare.

“It’s here, and we’re not telling everyone to mask,” Garman said. “So that’s all.”

Either way, in the end, Crye’s resolution passed 4 to 1. Supervisor Rickert was the lone no vote.

Once again, the far-right majority won.

C0nduct unbecoming

After citizen speaker Steve Kohn concluded his allotted three-minute comments imploring supervisors to not adopt Crye’s toothless resolution about pandemic mandates, and was heading for his seat, District 1 Supervisor Kevin Crye quipped from the dais, apropos of nothing, “Nazi Germany”.

That comment was bad enough, but during the same meeting Crye doubled down and rolled out his renowned cruel streak – again, seemingly out of thin air. He said that the person who’d been pushing for the county to hire a county health officer had an off-the-charts BMI.

The gasps of disbelief from some audience members confirmed that many people realized who exactly Crye was referring to; an articulate, informed public speaker and unrelenting cheerleader for a new health officer, which the county has been without for — as the woman Crye mocked pointed out later, more than 512 days.

Not everyone in the audience gasped. Others laughed, which produced a smile from Crye.

Bingo. Mission accomplished. Just like spit-wad spewing bad boys, many of the statements uttered by Crye and his equally uncouth pals during board meetings elicit hoots of delighted approval from their supporters. Bonus points if the men can verbally stick it to Supervisor Rickert as often as possible. Yucks all around. Gotcha, Mary! Hardy har har.

Later, Crye said he wanted to clarify his previous statement about a person’s BMI. He said he was simply responding to Supervisor Rickert’s previous comments about Shasta County’s high COVID rates, and all he’d talked about was personal healthcare responsibility.

He didn’t own up to fat-shaming a member of the public, nor did he apologize to her directly.

“So I apologize if that’s offended anyone.”

Kelstrom, during the discussion about Crye’s resolution that promised the county’s non-compliance in the event of possible state pandemic mandates, took to his soapbox to mansplain to the interim county counsel the differences between laws and mandates, as Stuhr sat quietly and listened without response.

And when Garman asked Stuhr if she needed more time to study Crye’s resolution – including a  speedy “fat-shaming wasn’t necessary” directed at Crye — Crye interrupted Stuhr, and shut down the conversation before she could elaborate any further about the un-adopted suggestions her office made about the resolution.

“We did take a look at it, and the language that was used is the best that we could get,” Stuhr said. “So, it’s not ideal, but it’s as good as … we can move forward.”

Crye pounced.

“When you say ‘ideal’ that’s an opinion,” Crye said. “Right? Legally, this is factual. OK?”

Crye then abruptly cut Stuhr off before she could complete her explanation.

“Legally, it’s factu …” began Stuhr as Crye returned for the ending salvo.

Factual because the opinion of county counsel versus law is what’s important. Thank you,” Crye said.

Mic drop.

Not all the chamber’s bad behavior is exibited by supervisors. Often, it occurs at the lectern during the public comment period.

One Tuesday example involved KCNR radio host Nick Gardner, a loyal fan of the ultra-conservative board majority, whose off-topic comments immediately broke Jones’ rule to limit comments to matters under the board’s authority. Even so, as Gardner spoke, Jones stared impassively ahead, as if deaf to the violations happening mere feet before him.

When Gardner continued his rant about the “liberal media” and uttered disparaging words about President Joe Biden, Christian Gardinier loudly declared from his seat, “Point of order!”

In response, Gardner whipped around and shouted to Gardinier, “What’s your point, BB brain?” and, “Well, the lice infestion (sic) is still here. I see that.”

What followed was a classic example of how Jones routinely ignores his own rules, favors his supporters and criticizes his detractors. From the dais, Jones shouted a correction to Gardinier, not Gardner, and said calls for “point of order” were supposed to be directed only to the board.

Some might argue that Gardinier was still within his rights to call out “point of order” because Jones was out of order for not admonishing Gardner’s personal verbal attack against Gardinier.

So it goes with Jones in charge, where the rule of law is optional, where he acts more like an angry, mentally unstable dictator than a level-headed, even-handed leader.

Mosquito madness/Cannabis Connections?

More tense moments happened Tuesday when the board majority appointed grow-shop owner Jon Knight for a seat on the Shasta County Mosquito and Vector, but rejected Donnell Ewert, retired epidemiologist, former Director of Shasta County Public Health, and most recently the Director of Shasta County Health and Human Services.

According to Jones, Ewert was initially the only applicant, but Jones unilaterally rejected Ewert’s application, so Jones reopened the application process to the public, which yielded a few more applications, which were moot, since Jones selected Knight as the applicant to bring before the board for a vote.

Regarding why Jones rejected Ewert, he had to dig deep to find excuses for why he bypassed Ewert and chose Knight. Namely, Jones’ excuse was that Ewert bungled a Project Homekey program charged with finding homes for unhoused people during the pandemic. At the time, Ewert acknowledged and publicly apologized for some communication glitches between his department and Anderson and Shasta Lake housing officials. But eventually the program was deemed a success, and received accolades for successfully housing several formerly homeless people.

When the board majority chose Knight and bypassed Ewert, it was just one more example of times when Jones, Kelstrom and Crye seemingly go out of their way to select glaringly inferior applicants, only to reject and disregard obviously educationally and experientially superior applicants.

Compare and contrast.

Here’s Knight’s statement of qualification for a board seat with the Shasta Mosquito and Vector Control District:

“I have done extensive research on the difference between genetically modified and gene edited mosquitoes, which use crisper (sic) technology. These new breeds of mosquito are very dangerous and I will do everything in my power to keep researching and help with testing for these new varients (sic) to bring awareness to our community and ensure the best safety measures.”

And Ewert’s statement of qualifications:

“I am an epidemiologist with experience in the prevention and control of communicable diseases, including those that are vector borne. I was the Director of  Public Health in Shasta County for six years and the Director of Health and Human Services for 9+ years. While I was in the leadership roll, West Nile Virus emerged as a public health threat in Shasta County and my department partnered with SMVCD to control that disease.”

Knight expounded upon his qualifications at Tuesday’s board meeting:

A few points: He speaks of his deep understanding of pesticides, something he’s been selling for 18 years. He admits he’s not “deep dove” to gain more information about the position. He says he knows a lot about the Bill Gates’ programs, not conspiracies, but facts. He says the Japanese have weaponized mosquitos into “flying syringes” that will mass-vaccinate the  populations.

In the video, Knight responds to questions about pesticides from Supervisor Rickert – someone with a lifetime of agriculture and ranching experience.

A News Cafe contacted Rick Gurrola, Shasta County Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer of Weights & Measures, about pesticide regulations for a business person like Knight.

According to Gurrola, any retailers who sell agricultural use or dual-use pesticide products (labeled for home and agricultural use purposes) to users are required to be licensed as pest control dealers. Gurrola added that yesterday, based upon statements Crye made at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, he directed a staff member to visit Mr. Knight’s business to conduct a possible inspection.

Gurrola said that as a result of the initial inspection, his department has initiated an investigation. He explained that there are multiple agencies and government codes that oversee and regulate the sale of pesticides.

Putting aside whether Knight may or may not currently be licensed to sell pesticides, several people questioned Knight’s business having potential cannabis connections.

Knight became defensive when Rickert asked Knight if any of his customers grew illegal cannabis.

“Why are we talking about marijuana?” Jon snapped, before reciting a list of places he’s donated supplies, every place from schools to juvenile hall.

Rickert reframed her question and asked if Knight sold materials to illegal cannabis growers.

“Is there going to be an illegal marijuana grower that comes in and buys something from me?” asked Knight.

“Of course, they’re going to. If you sell gardening supplies you’re going to have a diverse group of people coming in, so you’re trying to character assassinate me here. I don’t appreciate that.”

Rickert responded, “No, I’m asking you a question — if you do sell pesticides to people who do grow marijuana illegally in this county, because I’ve been a strong supporter of not having illegal grows.”

Knight replied, “When you have hundreds of people coming in and buying stuff from you every day, I don’t have a survey where I say, ‘Are you growing illegal marijuana?’ I don’t. This is America. I don’t ask people what their business is. I think anybody who sells gardening supplies and pesticides has at some point has had somebody that has an illegal marijuana grow.”

With that, Kelstrom jumped in. “Or steaks,” he said. “Have you ever sold a steak to someone that sells marijuana, Mary? Do you ask that question before you send your beef to Kent’s?”

Kelstrom expanded his defense of Knight.

“Jon Knight does not sell cannabis. Jon Knight does not grow cannabis. Jon Knight does not use cannabis. Jon Knight sells gardening supplies,” Kelstrom said.

“So, he’s continuously being tied with the cannabis industry. Now, people that grow cannabis, do they buy from him? Probably so, just like they do from Home Depot, Lowe’s, Tractor Supply whatever.”

Still, Rickert was clearly rattled that Kelstrom, Jones and Crye chose Jon Knight over Donnell Ewert. She described Ewert’s vast education and knowledge, summarized in his three-page resume that included lists of accomplishments, a vast array of public health-related employment, and his education; a Master’s Degree in Public Health and a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology.

“It’s almost laughable that you would disregard the application from probably the most qualified person in this county, and try to appoint someone who basically got his information about mosquitoes on the internet,” she said.

“Do you know how that makes us look as a county? It makes us look like idiots, outright idiots. We’re dumbing down people in our county system and these boards when you appoint people who are not qualified. I find it ridiculous that you would consider him. You’re picking someone who doesn’t even have an education in this area.”

Crye, like Kelstrom, came to Knight’s defense. He pointed out that Knight was the first patient in Shasta County to contract West Nile virus.

“So to say he has no knowledge of the West Nile virus, he had West Nile virus, and was the first confirmed case,” Crye said.

Ricket wasn’t buying Crye’s faulty logic.

“I’ve had COVID twice, but I don’t consider myself an expert on COVID,” Rickert said.

Meanwhile, Ewert, who did not attend the meeting, took the high road with a statement about the board majority’s decision.

“While I believe I was very well-qualified to serve on the Shasta Mosquito and Vector Control District board, I realize the Board of Supervisors has the power to appoint members who they feel represent their point of view. I feel that public service is a valuable way to contribute to our community, and I congratulate Jon Knight on the opportunity to represent the county on this important board overseeing a vitally important public health function for city and county residents.”

Like it or not, Ewert is absolutely correct about the board majority’s ability to appoint people who represent their viewpoints, and that’s exactly what they’re doing.

That knowledge doesn’t bode well for the board majority’s upcoming announcement about its health-officer selection, and many future boards, committees and staff positions to come.

The blueprint is working. Just ask Gallardo, who hinted during a Sept. 17 KCNR radio show with Terry Rapoza and Win Carpenter at what lies ahead for Shasta County government.


To quote Gallardo, they’ve only just begun.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story should have quoted Nick Gardner saying, ‘BB brain’. We apologize for any confusion.


If you appreciate journalist Doni Chamberlain’s reporting and commentary, please consider contributing to A News Cafe. Thank you!

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 Guardian, The Washington Post, L.A. Times, Slate, Bloomberg News and on CNN, KQED and KPFA. She lives in Redding, California.

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