Bruce Anderson’s Analysis of the Judi Bari case


Irv Sutley

Two Pea Brains in a Pod: Bill Callison and Steve Orcutt

Some years ago, I walked out of a Peace and Freedom Party State Central Committee meeting in Los Angeles.  After listening to one delusional and idiotic statement after another, Dave Kadlecek gets up and says, “we are the new Bolsheviks.”  It was obvious that he said this in all sincerity; he really believed it.  I couldn’t take it any longer and told my buddy Irv Sutley that I was leaving, because my grandfather had been a real Bolshevik and “…Kadlecek wouldn’t make a pimple on a Bolshevik’s ass.”

After I left, one of the really lunatic fringe types in the PFP, Bill Callison, supported by since convicted sex offender Stephen Bruce Orcutt (aka Frank Runninghorse), made a motion, which passed by exactly one vote, to have Irv “investigated” over Judi Bari’s crazy accusation that Irv was a paid informer for the FBI.  I felt guilty because if I hadn’t left, the motion would have been defeated.

I had Irv stay over for a few extra days and arranged a polygraph examination by former Secret Service agent and Private Investigator Joe Paolella which not only demonstrated the falsity of Bari’s accusations, but also implicated her best friend of having solicited Irv to murder Judi’s ex-husband, Mike Sweeney.  When we publicly released the polygraph results, it exploded with a whole new take on the Judi Bari bombing case.  The story is told in detail in Kate Coleman’s book, the Secret Wars of Judy Bari, which I highly recommend for intriguing reading, not to mention that my role gets mentioned in passing.

The Secret Wars of Judi Bari

Anyway, Bruce Anderson of the Anderson Valley Advertiser (AVA) has released a new analysis of the whole case which likewise makes fascinating reading:


Bruce Anderson

From: Bruce Anderson <>
Subject: this week’s ava
To: “Irv Sutley” <>
Date: Wednesday, May 11, 2011, 11:01 AM

GARY BALL died Sunday in Colorado, and immediately I get an e-mail saying, “I know you’ll trash him like you did Richard Johnson but Gary Ball has died.” So here goes: Ball and his wife Betty were the ostensible co-founders of the Mendocino Environmental Center in, as I recall, 1988. Betty was the full time volunteer co-ordinator at the MEC while Gary, he said, worked as a bookkeeper to pay their personal bills, joining Betty at the MEC in the evenings and on weekends as they did whatever it was they did all day and into the night at 106 West Standley, Ukiah, an address law enforcement-convenient directly across the street from the County Courthouse. After the MEC began paying the Balls a monthly stipend out of zero visible resources, Gary joined Betty in working full time at 106’s dingy premises.


The Balls primary focus was said to be forestry issues but, in the aftermath of the bombing of Judi Bari, they spent much of their time fundraising for Bari and, in my opinion, an opinion still not permitted on the PC Circuit, propagandizing and fundraising for the Bari defense, a defense co-written by Bari, her lawyers and the FBI, then hand-fed to “progressive” media at places like the severely dumbed-down KPFA and its outback sister stations in places like Philo and Garberville.


THE MOST EFFECTIVE local environmental work of that fraught period was done by people like the late Ron Guenther and Helen Libeu, to name two unsung heros of the forests, who relentlessly but much less glamorously than the “direct action” preferred by Earth First!, spent hundreds of tedious hours challenging timber harvest plans on technical grounds for no money and no glory, if your silly mug occasionally appearing on the front page of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat can be considered glorious. Judi Bari’s legacy, strictly speaking, is thousands of acres of stumps, but she was a brilliant organizer who did manage to get an amorphous mass of fagged out old hippies, unaffiliated lefties, several hundred mental cases, and miscellaneous others marching in the general direction of sustained yield, drawing national attention to the corporate onslaught then underway on the Northcoast’s forests as she went. After she was bombed, however, she became her own  full-time cause.

ORIGINALLY from Colorado, the Balls returned there after Judi Bari’s death in 1997. In Boulder, the Balls founded the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, from which they immediately denounced the right-on arson fire committed by the Earth Liberation Front that wiped out a particularly gruesome ski resort in an otherwise pristine Colorado forest. Betty Ball announced she’d help find the perps who any righteous peace and justice person would have immediately recognized as heroes of the environment.

SO, HERE’S what I think because, added up, the Bari-Ball interlude in Mendocino County makes no other sense. I think the Mendocino Environment Center was organized and funded by the FBI because the feds were under huge pressure from extractive industries, particularly Big Timber, to do something about the industrial sabotage Earth First! and Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney were advocating. I think the FBI set up a 60’s-style listening post at 106 Standley to monitor the comings and goings of potential tree spikers and tractor-decommissioners. The FBI, as some of us will recall had, in that same period, lured  people close to Dave Foreman, a founder of Earth First!, out into the Arizona desert to take down a power line. The feds had run that crude attempt as a set-up of Foreman but, when it all shook out, the FBI, for an event they’d encouraged and done the logistics for, had to settle for a few lesser personages.


JUDI BARI’S former husband, Mike Sweeney, maintained his office at the Balls’ MEC. He was writing recycling grants, he said, which he could have done at home but….. These days a pillar of bourgeosie respectability complete with a big house in the hills west of Ukiah that he shares with Press Democrat reporter Glenda Anderson, Sweeney functions as Mendocino County’s lead garbage bureaucrat. But in his youth, and well past it, Sweeney was a Maoist cult guy, a little red book guy, a communist of the nutball type. That’s how he and Bari hooked up. She was an East Coast Maoist cult gal. By 1980 Sweeney, who had been a foot soldier with the Stanford-based, English Department-led Vencercemos that would segue into the murderous Symbionese Liberation Army, had married Bari, moved with his new bride to Santa Rosa where he soon shot his neighbor’s dog, blew up one of two hangars at the old WW Two air field not far from his home because he was irritated by weekend air traffic, sued developers for profit, and hassled his first wife, Cynthia Denenholtz, (another former Maoist who, when that fad ended, re-invented herself as an attorney) to the point where she had to legally restrain him. Sweeney doesn’t sue me for saying these things because (1) he says I don’t have any money to sue for, as if he couldn’t sue me himself for an honorable dollar or, (2) if he does sue me my rich nephew will pay my legal bills, assertions the PC brigades seem to find plausible.



I THINK Sweeney was off limits as the primary suspect in his well-known wife’s car bombing because he enjoyed federal affiliations all the way back to Stanford, and that since 1988 he’d  been conveniently well placed in Ukiah during the run-up to Redwood Summer to snitch off people suspected of industrial sabotage. Hence his free pass on the attack on Ms. Bari, a “mystery” event that can be solved via existing dna which, of course, is stoutly resisted by Cherney and the rest of the Bari Cult who claim to have been searching for the bomber for 21 years now, out there with OJ and Scott Peterson looking everywhere for the true perps.



Darryl Cherney

IF your significant other gets blown up in the middle of a major American city or in downtown Philo, you are automatically front and center as Suspect Primo. Not Sweeney. He got waved on through, and he’s still getting waved on through by that utter fraud Cherney and Cherney’s co-dependents at the FBI. Cherney has cleared a cool mil for himself not finding the bomber. He literally can’t afford to find out who did it. Sweeney, a rich kid from Santa Barbara, has since simply reverted to his class roots which, politically are the kind of patrician liberalism prevalent on West Side, Ukiah. Amnesia County is the perfect place for Mike because you are whatever you say you are, and history starts all over again every day.



SO THIS GUY writes in to tell me that Ball has died, adding that I will undoubtedly “heap opprobrium” on him as “you did when he was alive.” Which I did not because I didn’t have strong feelings about the Balls when they were at the MEC, a depressing dump of a venue I always avoided because it more resembled an out-patient clinic than a political headquarters. Nope, I saw the Balls as simply one more pair of lib labs who labbed more than they libbed. Betty, a rotund earth mother type swathed in mumus, was always bumblingly pleasant, but I found Gar supercilious and snide, not that I ever gave the dude much thought. In those heady days Sweeney seemed to be the only fully alert person on the premises, which he undoubtedly was, and he’s another guy I don’t have personal animosity for; in fact, I rather admire what Mike’s managed to pull off here as Mendocino County’s very own Dos Equis ad, “the most interesting man in the world.” And as Bari herself often said, “My ex-husband is the smartest man I know.” I’d say Sweeney’s about half as smart as he seems to think he is, but how smart do you have to be to get over on The PC Gang?


JUDI BARI? I think she did what she had to do. I think if she’d ever publicly admitted the truth of the bombing, as she would do privately to documentary filmmaker Steve Talbot, both she and Sweeney would have gone to jail for a long time, and Sweeney, in retaliation, would have had a whole lot of interesting things to say about FBI ops in Mendoland. Which is why Bari is dead and Sweeney is saving the Ukiah Post Office when he isn’t at work making nearly a hundred grand a year screwing up County garbage policy.

MENDOLIB is pretty much incapable of discussing controversial issues in an adult manner. Invariably, someone will say, “What do you have against Mike Sweeney?” Or, “Why  are you trying to destroy Judi Bari’s legacy?” The person who asked the latter was probably in pre-school drug rehab in 1990, but out there in Feebville, then as now, every question is reduced to personalities, and any opinion that violates the catechism, well, that’s an opinion you just can’t have if you want to be a “highly evolved human being who speaks truth to power.”

About Jan Tucker

The Detectives Diary is an innovative tool combining Private Investigation and Journalism. In 1984, Steve Harvey's Los Angeles Times "Around the Southland" Column entitled Jan Tucker's program of providing low-cost "Opposition Research" services to indigent and working class candidates for public office, "Take Cover: Hired Mudslinger Rides into Town." A 1996 Los Angeles Times article by Henry Chu carried a sub-headline identifying Tucker as a "P.R. Guru." In November 2012, Tucker became Criminal Justice Columnist for Counter Punch Magazine and a commentator for Black Talk Radio. As a private investigator since 1979 and a former First Vice President of Newspaper Guild Local 69, Tucker takes these skills to a new level in the pages of the Detectives Diary with insightful and unique exposures and analysis of history and current events. State Director--California League of Latinos And Chicanos, Former seven term Chairman of the Board of the California Association of Licensed Investigators, Co-President San Fernando Valley/Northeast Los Angeles Chapter-National Organization for Women, former National Commissioner for Civil Rights-League of United Latin American Citizens, former Second Vice President-Inglewood-South Bay Branch-National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, former founding Vice President-Armenian American Action Committee, former First Vice President, Newspaper Guild Local 69 (AFL-CIO, CLC, CWA), Board member, Alameda Corridor Jobs Coalition, Community Advisory Board member--USC-Keck School of Medicine Alzheimer's Disease Research Project
This entry was posted in Anecdotes & Adventures, Ideas & Opinions, Private Investigation Industry and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.