- Short TOT
- Still Looking
- Community Dinner
- Patient Fundraiser
- Little Dog
- Downtown Ukiah
- Veg Cult
- Bridge Proceedings
- Rangeland Save
- Brewery Brouhahas
- Trespass Ordinance
- Love Hurts
- BOS Agenda
- Yes Problem
- WeTip Hotline
- Habitat Restoration
- Tobacco Lockdown
- Yesterday's Catch
- Fish Return
- Train Future
- Whither Candidate
- AMLO Begins
- Repeal Day
- Simpleton Politics
- Electric Vehicles
- Paavo Interview
- Bible Story
- Art Reception
- Animal Idioms
- PA Agenda
- Two Races
- Republican History
- Light Festival
- DOI Disaster
- A Pinion
- Kamala Opposed
- Broadband Now
CONSULTANT TO CHECK FORT BRAGG’S TAX RECEIPTS
by Rex Gressett
Mayor Lindy Peters and Councilman Will Lee are generally on the same page. The great love of Mayor Peters’ life is to wield convivial authority. This works well with Councilman Lee's genetic instinct to enthusiastically endorse authority wherever it welcomes him.
Mr. Lee has discovered a remunerative life calling as an apologist and booster for both the Hospital and the City Council. The Councilman is a strong spokesman for the great job and fine performance of what he thinks are two deeply trustworthy institutions. The Mayor is the self-appointed standard bearer for uncritical consensus. This compatibility of outlook has made the amiable pair natural allies. Policy, program innovation, and specific direction are not their thing, and as they see it, not their job.
On a cold and wintery Wednesday, midday in the work week, Lindy Peters and Will Lee sat in on their own Finance and Administration Committee meeting to hear City Manager Tabatha Miller proceed once again in her relentless and systematic program to modernize and streamline City financial administration.
Victor Damiani, Fort Bragg Finance Director, opened it up with a confession/discovery of a possible Fort Bragg tax scandal of possibly long duration. The facts are only beginning to emerge, but the suspicion of hotel TOT (Transit Occupancy Tax) underpayment was enough for the City Manager to bring on board an out of town tax consultant, Muni Services, to hash the numbers and look closely at the actual cost of rooms and the corresponding transit occupancy tax declarations. The worry is that they may not match.
It was an uncertain bombshell delivered in cautious tones. In a polite mutter, Damiani explained that the verifiable cost of a hotel room in Fort Bragg as they showed up in his Google search, often seemed to be 300% to 400% more than the value per room rented and reported to the City for the TOT assessment. (The city is supposed to get 10% of the room rate on top of the room rate.)
For example, Damiani used hotels advertising rooms for $168 a night online, but seemed to be paying transit occupancy tax as if the room only cost $38. Based on the 10% TOT that would mean the city gets $3.80 instead of 16.80 for that night’s stay. It was just one suspicious example.
Fort Bragg’s current city budget shows that TOT represents almost $2.8 million, or almost a third of the city’s tax revenues.
Numbers at this time, of course, cannot be conclusive, but the suspicion was enough for the City Manager to engage an outside consulting firm to review Transit Occupancy Tax income, and perhaps incidentally, provide general advice on other city tax revenues.
As the meeting progressed, the information emerged that up to now, no evaluation of the advertised price of a hotel room and the corresponding reported TOT (Transit Occupancy Tax) has ever been "undertaken." “When was the last audit?," asked the Mayor brightly. “Never,” replied Damiani and the City Manager Miller in unison.
City Manager Tabatha Miller sat quietly as the financial integrity of the TOT was gently probed, and made no remarks as her new consultant Thomas Adams, sketched the range of his firm's consulting expertise and soft-peddled the possibility of scandal. Everyone was very cautious not to express outrage or make a direct accusation.
City Manager Miller credited Finance Director Damiani with uncovering the possible tax evasion. How long this skeleton has laid moldering in the city books was not clear.
Victor Damiani has been a whistleblower in municipal affairs before this, outing his own department’s illicit practices without causing undue distress or bringing down the law is something of a specialty. When former city manager, Linda Ruffing, systematically withdrew $3 million over a term of years from the sequestered Water Enterprise Fund for happier applications at her own discretion in the General Fund, it was Victor Damiani who eventually explained it away as a “bookkeeping error.”
It was a whopping error extending over years through a series of major budget discussions — but then mistakes do happen. The term “coverup” was scrupulously avoided. What the Mendocino Grand Jury will say about the $3 million remains to be seen.
But the news Wednesday afternoon that Fort Bragg hotels may have been cheating the city combined with the difficulty of checking the room prices against the tax receipts has drawn the attention of our new Fort Bragg City Manager.
Better tell the night managers.
As the City Hall administration bustled back to their appointed tasks and the Finance and Admin team took off for lunch, I contemplated the missed opportunity for a little salutary recrimination. The Mayor loves to bang his gavel at his critics in the Council Meetings. A stern admonition and a little banging might possibly have been healthy for City Hall administrative probity but perhaps not so much for the reputation of his own Finance and Admin committee. In any event, no gavel banging occurred. The Mayor and his Councilman sheepishly retired; the City Manager exited the room without the thanks due her for her quiet, effective reform.
HOLIDAY COMMUNITY DINNER AT THE GRANGE
Be sure not to miss the Holiday Community Dinner at the Grange this Sunday, December 9th at 5:30 pm. To see how you can help with this sweet event, please call Captain Rainbow at 895-3807 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HELP FOR LAYLA BROWN!
Fundraiser for local young adult with cancer
A fundraiser for Layla Brown is happening this Sunday, December 9th at The Westport Hotel from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM. You can visit the Facebook page for the event at http://www.facebook.com/events/255163518483688/
The following information comes from that page: A fundraiser for Layla Brown. Live Music from 5-9pm line up TBA. Silent auction with many great items, from get-aways to wearable art. Spaghetti dinner with gluten free and Veg options and desserts. Dance performances by Toniq Vivant and games. $25 DONATION at the door for music and food. Private message me if you would like donate to the auction or help with the event. Can't make it? check out the Go-FundMe page.
Layla just celebrated her 20th birthday on October 19th. Last Saturday morning, she went to the emergency room in Fort Bragg, not feeling well. The blood test results raised serious concerns, and Layla was sent immediately to UC Davis Medical Center for further testing. There, doctors performed a bone marrow biopsy and lumbar puncture, and friends and family awaited the results and hoped for a best case scenario.
On Wednesday afternoon, Layla was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.
Layla began her chemotherapy treatments the same afternoon. Her mother, Felicia, put her life on hold in order to stay with her daughter in the oncology wing as Layla faces the battle ahead. Her father, Otis, is driving back and forth between Sacramento and Fort Bragg, trying to be both emotional support for his family as well as financial provider. They are stressed beyond belief; they are in shock, but they are trying to stay positive.
In this face of everything before her, Layla has shown nothing but bravery and determination. Her strength is an inspiration to us all.
Because of her age, Layla’s prognosis is very good; her doctors are hopeful for a successful recovery. However, Layla is facing a long road ahead, beginning with 10 days of chemotherapy, followed by more painful and expensive procedures; after everything, she may still require a bone marrow transplant. She will be in the hospital for at least a month; the family is hoping she will be able to spend Christmas at home.
The events of this week have unfolded so quickly, the family is still waiting to find out how much Layla’s treatments they will be responsible for covering. With jobs on hold and their lives interrupted, plus the cost of necessary travel expenses making the 400 mile round trip back and forth between Westport and Sacramento - this family could use a little help in the face of these sudden and unexpected financial burdens that have been placed upon them.
The family is so grateful for the outpouring of love and support that has been shown to them since the news of Layla’s diagnosis. They are grateful for anything you can give to help them through this difficult and strenuous time in their lives. Even if you can’t donate, post a message of encouragement and love below, and send some positive, healing thoughts out for this beautiful family.
Cancer Resource Centers of Mendocino County
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “Hola, cabrones and all you gavachos. Si, I speak Spanish. All our nabes are Spanish-speakers, and I've always been a go-with-the-flow perro, Mex for dawg.”
To the Editor:
Once again, the Palace Hotel has made front page news. I would have to ask, what would be a commercially viable use for the property? If there were one, the current owner would have not had a problem attracting investors to participate in a business venture. So, I have a proposal that is win-win-win.
Work has stopped for lack of funding on the new county courthouse project. No one really knows when and if funding will ever become available.
However, the project sits on a valuable piece of property. I suggest, that the state sell this property to developers to construct urgently needed housing in the form of apartments and townhouses. This is an ideal site for housing because it places residents within easy walking and bicycling distance of downtown, other commercial areas, medical services and government services (DMV, Post Office, Social Security, Police, City Hall, Social Services). The proceeds of the property sale can then be used to purchase the Palace Hotel property, gut the building, put parking in the first floor and provide court room/office space in the upper floors. I mentioned three wins — the third win is preservation of our precious downtown: downtown businesses will continue to receive the necessary foot traffic they need to remain viable, we will retain the outside appearance of an attractive historical building, and we will not have another empty eye-sore (current courthouse) sitting there empty.
Could we please ask our City Council and County Board of Supervisors to get rolling on this? Seems to be a no-brainer.
JUST IN FROM THE VEGETARIAN CULT THAT OWNS TWO OF THE THREE HOSPITALS IN MENDOCINO COUNTY....
CALTRANS' GEOTECHNICAL INVESTIGATION includes use of a helicopter next to the iconic and historic Albion River Bridge This is the third day of helicopter use. They have 3 more days according to the permits where they can use a helicopter to deliver materials to the various drill sites. Caltrans needs to be done with their investigation by the end of January. Over the holidays they will not work for a week.
For information about how the Albion Bridge Stewards keep watch over Caltrans' geotechnical investigation that includes use of a helicopter next to the iconic and historic Albion River Bridge see Terrence Vaughn's Mendocino TV link. See also albioncab.wordpress.com/category/albion-bridge-stewards/
Caltrans and its subcontractors are continuing the geotechnical investigation of the iconic and historic Albion River Bridge with the use of a helicopter today and maybe other days this week. One-way traffic control will be in effect from 8 am to 5 pm weekdays. Motorists should anticipate 20 minute delays.
Caltrans is also continuing the lead mitigation work with soil capping (using crushed rock/gravel and permeable fabric) below Salmon Creek Bridge this week. Join Albion Bridge Stewards if you are in favor of protecting this iconic and historic bridge (recognized both federally and state wide).
Annemarie Weibel, email@example.com, Albion
NO POT ON RANGELAND
To the Editor:
I commend Supervisors Brown, Gjerde, and Croskey who, on Nov. 16, voted to deny the expansion of marijuana cultivation onto rangelands, including oak woodlands. The oak woodlands found in Mendocino County (and elsewhere in California) are unique: They are found nowhere else in the world. Ours are arguably more pristine than most in California. The oak woodlands provide food and shelter for many species, from beetles to bears. Recently, an article in the Nature Conservancy Magazine (Winter, 2018) about their recent acquisition of over 6,000 acres of oak woodlands near Point Conception stated that “out of California’s 632 species of amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals, more than 300 of them depend on oaks.” I hope that the supervisors’ decision to prevent new or expanded encroachment onto rangelands signals their renewed appreciation for zoning and ordinances that protect Mendocino County’s oak woodlands, and their ongoing support of sustainable land use.
WATCH WHAT YOU SAY ABOUT NORTH COAST BREWERY TAPROOM - THEY’LL BAN YOU
First there was a brouhaha when the North Coast Tap Room in Fort Bragg refused service last August to Utah firemen when they came to the coast for a break from fighting the “Ranch Fire.” It’s not known if the firefighter killed in the blaze was one of those denied service.
It appears not only do they refuse to serve groups of eight or more — if you post a bad review of the restaurant you can expect to be permanently BANNED. Lol. A little thin-skinned eh?
This was posted to coast social media Thursday morning by Bob Markel:
“North Coast Taproom & Grill Stomps On The First Amendment.
Here we go again. You may remember my posting of monumentally bad service and attitude at North Coast Brew Pub about 6 months ago. (Summary later on. Just read the first few paragraphs).
Fast forward to this week. I had purchased tickets for myself and a companion to see my good friends Marcus McCallen, Bill Bottrell and Ralph Humphrey in concert this Friday in the Sequoia Room. I just received a phone call from North Coast's PR Flak, Joe Seta telling me he had cancelled my tickets and banned me from the premises BECAUSE...I had given them a negative review!
Now North Coast has some terrific music, brews some tasty brews and employs a lot of people but they are colossally clueless when it comes to Hospitality and Customer Service. What about my friend who had her ticket cancelled?
I really don't need this in my life but when a local business behaves so egregiously I feel a moral necessity to call them out on it. The sheer arrogance of a wealthy company that feels they can threaten an individual because they don't like a review simply can't stand.
Here's the previous incident if you don't remember: A few months ago, my date and I went to the Brewpub Bar for dinner. The hostess told us there was a wait for a table. We said fine, we'll be at the bar. We got drinks and stood around chatting for about 10 minutes when a Server (not the Hostess) came up to us and said she had a table for us. She sat us and gave us menus. After a few minutes, the Hostess came up to us in an agitated state and told us ‘You can't sit there! We have a list. You need to get up!’ So we got up. My companion looked at me in confusion and I told her ‘They have some f***** up rules here.’
So we went back to the bar. After a while a woman came up to me and identified herself as the Manager. She asked me if I used the ‘F word’ to her Hostess. I said, ‘No, not at all. I told my friend that you have some f’ed up rules here. Maybe she overheard that.’ She then said we had to leave.
By now, we had figured out that the Hostess and Server probably were acting independently and hadn't communicated with each other regarding available tables. I said, ‘Let me explain something to you.’ The Manager replied, ‘I don't care. You need to leave.’ I then said, ‘You need to listen, otherwise I'm going to put this on social media.’ She replied again ‘I don't care!’
So we left. I stopped and talked to the Hostess to make sure she understood I had not said anything inappropriate to her. She said she was fine.
I then posted this experience online. I think it's important to state that I have never raised my voice toward any employee of North Coast. I always tip generously even though service and food is pretty sketchy there. I was actually chuckling during this incident due to the comedic clusterf*** that is Brewpub service.”
The Tap Room has 3.5 stars on Yelp - and still facing backlash from turning away the firefighters - like this review:
“Won't eat here, and cancelled my catering not so much because of their poor commitment to the community and its members, but mostly because of their heartless response to the backlash they have received for turning away firefighters. The fact you felt you had to defend yourself proves you were wrong.”
Here’s a link to the reviews on Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/…/north-coast-brewing-company-brewery-…
EUREKA CITY COUNCIL MOVES FORWARD WITH TRESPASS ORDINANCE – TIMES-STANDARD
CAN THIS RELATIONSHIP BE SAVED?
On December 4, 2018 at about 11:16 AM, Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputies were dispatched to a reported domestic violence incident in the 3000 block of Hearst Willits Road in Willits. When Deputies arrived they contacted a 55-year-old male. Deputies learned the male's girlfriend, Leah McKay, 34, of Willits, had been upset with him resulting in an argument.
Once the argument was over McKay drove the male to her residence in the 23000 block of East Side Road in Willits. The male wanted to return to his residence and asked McKay to take him home. While the couple was traveling to his residence, an argument began once again. During the argument McKay struck the male 3-4 times in the face, causing minor injuries. When the couple arrived at the male's residence, he exited the vehicle to open the gate to the property. The male began walking towards the gate at which point McKay accelerated her vehicle towards him causing him to jump out of the way to avoid being hit. McKay attempted to hit him again with the vehicle before driving away. Deputies observed minor injuries to both sides of the male's face which required no immediate medical treatment. McKay was located later in the area of the 23000 block of East Side Road and was arrested for Assault with a Deadly Weapon not a gun and Felony Domestic Violence Battery. McKay was booked into the Mendocino County Jail where she was to be held in lieu of $30,000 bail.
THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETING AGENDA for the December 11, 2018 has been Amended and is now available on the County website:
Please contact the Executive Office at (707) 463-4441 if you have any questions regarding this message.
Mendocino County Board of Supervisors andExecutive Office501 Low Gap Road, Room 1010Phone: (707) 463-4441
THE 'NO PROBLEM' PROBLEM
This is written in response to a letter from a baby boomer who has no problem with someone saying “no problem” to her “thank you." I am not sure what being a boomer has to do with anything unless that allows one to flaunt some newly defined and improved social class. When someone says “you’re welcome” to my “thank you,” they are gracefully acknowledging my offering of appreciation of what they did or said. The response “no problem” is either a flippant or an arrogant remark, showing little respect for my thanks. And I have no problem taking umbrage at that arrogance.
Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office WeTip Program
The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office is now using the WeTip program to fight crime in Mendocino County. WeTip provides a hotline number which anyone can call if they have information about any crime or potentially hazardous condition in our communities. All callers to WeTip remain anonymous. The program also offers rewards of up to $1,000.00 for tips that ultimately result in a conviction. If you have information that could help law enforcement agencies bring criminals to justice, please call: WeTip at 1-800-732-7463 Additionally, tips can be submitted online at:
How Does it Work?
WeTip hotlines are answered by bilingual tip operators 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. All calls are anonymous, not just confidential. No one will ever know who made the call. The operator will then ask a series of questions, designed by law enforcement, to obtain the maximum amount of information about the reported crime. After the information is taken, a code name and number are assigned to the informant. The caller always remains absolutely anonymous.
The WeTip operator will take the information and pass it on to appropriate law officers who then conduct their own investigation. Only calls made directly to WeTip will be eligible for reward. If your information results in an arrest and conviction, you will be given up to $1,000.00 cash, depending upon the importance of the crime solved. Your identity will never be known to anyone. The reward drop is made at a secret postal location, using the assigned code names and case numbers. No personal contact is ever made with the informant.
(Sheriff’s Office Press Release)
MENDOCINO COUNTY BLACKTAIL ASSOC. BEGINS HABITAT IMPROVEMENT PROJECT ON BLM MANAGED PUBLIC LANDS
Covelo, Calif. – The Mendocino County Blacktail Association, a wildlife habitat conservation group, has begun work to improve conditions for blacktail deer on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management near Covelo, in Mendocino County.
The Mendocino County work is an expansion of an ongoing project involving MCBA and the BLM Arcata Field Office. The project began in the King Range National Conservation Area and is now moving onto Eel River watershed public lands where deer forage quality has declined and is less palatable for deer.
Project workers will “top,” or cut off the upper portions of chemise, manzanita and other shrubs to stimulate new growth more beneficial to deer. The project aims to complete work on 200 acres by the end of this year and up to 500 acres per year for the duration of the 10-year project.
“We are proud that this partnership is contributing to the improvement and sustainability of the Eel River Watershed and habitat improvement,” said BLM Arcata Field Manager Molly Brown. “It is great to work with partners that are so enthusiastic about restoration of wildlife habitat.”
Chemise Knob, a Middle Fork Eel River access point off state Route 162, is the first Mendocino County treatment area. Future project sites are known locally at Willis Ridge, Brushy Mountain Timbered Ridge and Dingman Ridge.
The BLM analyzed the project in an environmental assessment completed earlier this year.
The MCBA is a citizen group dedicated to improving the habitat for blacktail deer. They hold fundraising events and apply for grants to complete projects on publicly accessible land where its membership enjoys the great outdoors.
Let me start by saying that we love your paper.
We were told that we had been put on lockdown because someone smelled tobacco smoke.
Well, some sergeants and deputies here at Mendocino County Jail walk around with chew in their mouths all the time and we get put on lockdown because someone smelled tobacco smoke?
This doesn’t make sense because I understand that Mendocino County Jail is supposed to be tobacco free.
Mendocino County Jail should start looking at their own sergeants and deputies first before placing the blame on inmates.
The following have been observed with tobacco:
Sergeants: Hartman, Bonner, McCutchens.
Deputies: Angulo, Hendry, Anderson and Stone.
Locked down inmate at Mendocino County Jail
CATCH OF THE DAY, December 6, 2018
BRANDON GIBONEY, Fort Bragg. Under influence.
BOBBY GRAY, Ukiah. Trespassing, placement of pollutant near state waters, paraphernalia, probation revocation.
JOSHUA GUEVARA, Talmage, Probation revocation.
JOSHUA HUNTER, Ukiah. DUI.
VERNON KNAPP, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct alcohol. (Frequent flyer.)
SEBASTIAN RABANO, Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
JAVIER RAMIREZ, Ukiah. Domestic abuse, probation revocation.
BOBBY ROSTON, Ukiah. Parole violation.
WALTER STOUGH, Albion. Paraphernalia, evidence tampering, resisting. (Frequent flyer.)
FISH NOT RETURNING
I agree that the Eel River watershed is scenic, majestic and must be protected for salmonoids and future generations to enjoy. Unfortunately, it’s not all about the fish.
The low numbers of returning fish on the Eel cannot to be totally blamed on the two dams. Yes, dams without fish passage, bad agriculture practice, logging, gravel mining, illegal diversions and bad management have gotten us to where we are today. But we also have problems with our ocean because the fish are not returning in numbers to any of our West Coast streams.
The Smith River and the Chetco River (southern Oregon), both wild and scenic, and the Eel River below Scott Dam, with its major forks and tributaries, are all experiencing poor returns.
Curtis Knight and Brian Johnson wrote that removing Scott Dam would open 150 miles of spawning grounds, and this is simply not true. In fact, less than 40-50 miles may be renewed.
We do need fish passage at Scott Dam, and we need the water storage it provides. We must continue to release water from Lake Pillsbury to mimic natural flows for the fish and protect the habitat in the whole system. With proper management, there is enough water to meet all of the demands.
George H. Cinquini
FREIGHT RAIL GOOD, PASSENGER RAIL, NOT SO MUCH
Fred: The Randal O'Toole I always imagined from your commentaries was a mirthless, humorless man with a distaste for trains. Maybe you breathe fire, too.
O'Toole: My writing tends to be dry. I stick to the facts. But the reality is, of course, I've always loved passenger trains, ever since I took that first ride when I was five years old on the Western Star, from Grand Forks to Portland, Ore.
That was one of the pleasures of reading your book, to discover you are a lover of trains and railroads and that you marry this with a contrarian way of thinking. Do you take perverse pleasure in that combination?
Oh, not at all. To me, it's really sad. I wish I could support passenger trains, and I do support them as far as riding them and things like that. But I know enough about government subsidies to know that they reduce overall productivity and usually end up taking from the poor and giving to the rich. The people who are riding the Acela are not people in need of government handouts. The people who are riding light rail and things like that are not the poor, by and large.
What is the future of the long-distance trains?
The role they fulfill is giving people access to scenery they can't see in any other way, and really, it ends up being something for the wealthy. I think the Rocky Mountaineer model is the future of long-distance trains, and if you look at the United States, where can we have a Rocky Mountaineer? Certainly, Oakland to Denver, probably Oakland to Los Angeles, and after that it gets pretty iffy. They would become cruise trains.
You seem almost as uncharitable towards the short-distance passenger trains.
Amtrak does its best to deceive people about how well these trains do, for example, counting state subsidies as “passenger revenues” in order to make itself eligible for more subsidies. I wouldn't mind short-distance trains if they worked, but the Cascades, the California service, those trains aren't really doing anything. A lot of money is spent carrying not that many people...
WHERE IS THE CANDIDATE (let alone candidates) who will add policy planks farther left than Bernie Sanders, such as college debt forgiveness, and a universal debt jubilee up to a certain significant amount? What candidate will call for the badly needed implementation of a national VAT (value added tax) on corporate activities? What candidate will call for universal public banking? What candidate will call for a global drawdown of US military activity and installations and budgets to a fraction of existing levels? What candidate will call for a much Greener Green New Deal? A guaranteed subsidy for green jobs to full employment? And a guaranteed minimum income for the elderly? For families with children? For individuals?
— Tony Christini
WILL MEXICO'S NEW LEFT WING PRESIDENT HELP TRUMP'S IMMIGRATION AGENDA?
by Candice Bernd
In his first press conference since taking office, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, known as “AMLO” for short, said he is working with the United States and Canada to create a three-way investment plan to stem migration from Central America and southern Mexico.
López Obrador, perhaps Mexico’s most left-wing president in modern history, took office Saturday after winning a landslide victory in July. He promised “a peaceful and orderly transition, but one that is deep and radical … because we will end the corruption and impunity that prevent Mexico’s rebirth.”
A former mayor of Mexico City, López Obrador pledged on the campaign trail to place a cap on public officials’ pay, including cutting his own salary and nixing the presidential jet, while ending privatization schemes that have deepened the country’s economic divide.
Many Mexicans’ hopes for real change are high after decades of corruption at all levels of government and high rates of violence. The new president now faces a trial by fire in achieving his ambitious domestic agenda.
But first, López Obrador must address the ongoing crisis of thousands of asylum-seeking Central American migrants stuck in limbo in Tijuana and other border cities as the United States deliberately delays processing asylum applications while closing ports of entry to potential refugees.
Mexico’s new Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard met with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Sunday to discuss the countries’ “shared commitment to address our common challenges and opportunities for the future,” according to a State Department spokesperson.
The recent announcement and talks come amid tensions after Mexico’s foreign ministry demanded a full investigation into US Border Patrol agents’ firing of tear gas and rubber bullets at migrant families the Sunday prior. Meanwhile, the number of migrants at the border continues to rise even as conditions at shelters housing them deteriorate.
President Trump is pressuring López Obrador to accept a deal to keep migrants in Mexico while they await the outcome of their asylum claims. In exchange, Mexican officials hope the US will cooperate with their campaign for a new “Marshall Plan” to spur development in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras – akin to how US helped to rebuild Europe after World War II – and are hoping for a $20 billion US investment.
Mexico, meanwhile, will pump money into the country’s poorer south while offering work visas to Central American migrants heading north. According to the Mexican Interior Ministry, nearly 700 recently arrived asylum seekers have already been granted humanitarian visas to live and work in the country, and nearly 11,000 Central Americans have been repatriated over the last several weeks.
The Trump administration ultimately wants to turn Mexico into what’s called a “safe third country,” which would require asylum-seeking migrants traveling through to petition for sanctuary in Mexico instead of the US. Short of that, administration officials are asking for potential refugees to await the outcomes of their US claims in Mexico, dubbing their new plan “Remain in Mexico.”
But immigrant rights advocates argue that any such agreement would effectively reverse US asylum policy, making it nearly impossible for potential refugees to actually complete the asylum process. Such a policy would also promote unsafe and irregular migration patterns while doing nothing to address the root causes of migratory pressures, they say.
The Trump administration has since tweaked the plan it originally began discussing with the prior administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto to be more palatable to the incoming left-wing cabinet. Mexican officials have signaled some willingness to accept the administration’s revised Remain in Mexico plan, while treading carefully.
Last week, Interior Secretary Olga Sánchez Cordero quickly denied that any formal deal over Remain in Mexico had been struck after it was initially reported in The Washington Post. “We are still against the safe third country, but this theme is something distinct and because of that, we are analyzing it with care,” Ebrard recently told reporters.
For now, the new administration is holding their ground. Whether federal officials will buckle as more migrant caravans arrive at the border, however, remains to be seen.
Desperation in Tijuana
American Friends Service Committee’s (AFSC) Karen Romero Siu, who is working to provide humanitarian support and social services to migrants in Tijuana, Mexico, including at the now-closed sports complex that served as a shelter, is seeing the migrant crisis playing out up close. She supports development and work visas for migrants but does not want to see any kind of deal formalizing potential refugees’ holdup in Mexico.
“I think it’s a bad idea that Mexico does the dirty work for the United States. I hope the [new] government will not agree to this,” she told Truthout. “This is like an extension of the US border to the southern border of Mexico.”
Before Tijuana officials shut down the sports complex Sunday, Romero Siu described the squalid conditions there, telling Truthout of the foul smells and the buildup of garbage. “It’s not a good place for pregnant women and children to stay.”
Only about 2,000 of the original 6,000 migrants who sought refuge at the shelter have been moved to a new shelter for migrants in the city. Still, Romero Siu remains cautiously optimistic that humanitarian workers and city officials will receive additional aid to support asylum-seeking migrants from the new administration. “I have hope, but I don’t know because the reality when [officials] get into office can sometimes change, so I remain skeptical.”
Accounts of anti-migrant sentiment in Tijuana have started to crop up in reports on the crisis there. While Romero Siu worries about some legitimate anti-immigrant sentiment among locals in recent days, she warned that emerging narratives about the city turning against its migrants are not completely based in reality. For instance, organizers of recent anti-caravan protests there have been exposed as Nazi sympathizers, and Romero Siu told Truthout she personally witnessed many Americans among the marchers. “Right now, it’s calm, but we have a little group that is stirring up trouble,” she said.
Still, Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastélum recently joined Trump in demonizing the city’s migrants, stoking anti-migrant sentiment among some residents there even while others remain supportive of asylum seekers. Manuel Gastélum has called on the Mexican federal government to take responsibility for housing them.
AMLO’s Balancing Act
The migrant situation at the border presents López Obrador with his first test: to balance his populist and humanitarian promises to help the struggling migrants fleeing violence and poverty in Central America with demands from an increasingly belligerent Trump administration hell-bent on keeping migrants off US soil.
“[López Obrador] is trying to link his discourse on migration to also his idea of developing the southern part of the country,” said Sergio Daniel Michel Chavez, a Ph.D. student studying Latin American politics at Carleton University. “I think it’s in a way intelligent. He’s taking advantage of the pressing need to offer a long-term solution to those migrating through southern Mexico and Central America.” Linking those needs to the US’s demands may prove an effective way “to get more funding toward his infrastructure projects in the South.”
Yet advocates argue the tradeoff is too dangerous. They say it will likely lead to legal problems in how the Trump administration interprets asylum law in regard to any new agreement. This is especially true for unaccompanied minors with relatives in the US, for example. Current asylum law allows for children to join their family members in the US, and advocates fear a Remain in Mexico deal will prevent children from reuniting with their relatives. Further, such a system would strain Mexico’s similarly burdened system for processing refugee claims.
López Obrador also faces other pressures, such as those from city officials like Manuel Gastélum faced with housing and supporting asylum seekers.
“This can become a time bomb, especially if more migrants are arriving to these borders here, because resources are limited,” Michel Chavez said. “We can get to a point where it’s not longer sustainable for the government to keep on supporting these large numbers of migrants, and that’s where it would be threatening.” With some ports of entry processing fewer than 100 asylum applications a day, wait times for migrants in Mexico are likely to increase as more caravans arrive, straining resources.
Advocates point to elevated levels of drug cartel violence and routine human rights violations against migrants in border cities as obvious reasons why Mexico should not be deemed a “safe” holding station for potential asylees for months or even years, even under a Remain in Mexico plan.
Moreover, advocates like Pedro Rios, who directs AFSC’s US/Mexico Border Program, worry that if López Obrador caves to Trump’s political theatrics in responding to migrant caravans, it could bolster Trump’s push for Congress to fund his border wall. Rios personally witnessed the Border Patrol’s gas attack against migrant families while on the US side of the border November 25.
“There will probably be a honeymoon period between them with the signing of this new NAFTA [on Friday],” Rios said. “But … there might be an attempt by the Trump administration to do some strong-arming and to try to put the López Obrador administration in their place.”
Many advocates remain hopeful. Even in his first few days in office, López Obrador has already drastically departed from his predecessors’ practices, launching a daily address, including a regular update on violence and homicides, and a truth and justice commission to investigate the disappearance of 43 students in the town of Ayotzinapa in 2014. Still, the challenges ahead for the fledgling administration are many.
“For any incoming, new administration that has a different set of ideals, I think it’ll be difficult to make significant changes, especially in the first couple years of the administration,” Rios said.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Building a wall won’t fix a thing. It’s a stupid idea promulgated by simpletons as a simple fix to a non-existent problem. Trump is a builder. He’s got a hand in one of those pies and is going to make money on the wall because that is all he cares about. A year from now you’ll be hearing about a deal he made with some construction firm for his kick back, but only after a year’s worth of tweets claiming “I won’t make any money off the wall. I have no deals with walls. I build buildings. I don’t build walls.” Just take every tweet about him not having any investments, money, deals in Russia and substitute the word “wall” for “Russia.” And you know what? All you Trumptards will believe him.
A Tale Of Two Wildfires: Devastation Highlights California's Stark Divide
IN THE NEXT FIVE TO SEVEN YEARS, the cost of a battery pack will likely reach $100 a kilowatt hour. Why is that important? Because at that cost, electric vehicles will reach cost and range parity with gasoline cars without subsidies. And you give it another 15 to 20 years and we're likely to see deep penetration of EVs around the world, and with no tailpipe emissions, EVs will reduce air pollution, which is a major problem in many cities around the world. After 100 years of gasoline-based automobiles, this is a tectonic shift.
FOURTH GRADE FIN LOOKS AT US
America: Where Democracy Came To Die On The Anvil Of Militarism
To maintain and expand US imperialism to encompass the entire world, a massive anti-democratic militarism was built. US militarism has destabilized and abused the whole world. America itself has had its soul, its mind, and its economy trashed by military over-reach.
“Truth is the first casualty of war.” It’s no coincidence that Americans are at the bottom of the list in terms of 1st world education and overall intelligence. Domestic policy turns the citizen into an enemy who must be rendered dumb and confused so that the Pentagon can carry out US foreign policy objectives without a “crisis of democracy breaking out at home”.
To illustrate the degree of how horribly successful indoctrination and dyseducation have been in America, I have conducted an interview with a 4th grader. This fortunate young man was born in one of those rare civilized counties whose government believes it has an obligation to take excellent care of its citizens. A country that protects its people from the stupidly, ill health and arrested development that militarism and capitalism leave in their wake.
This 4th grade is from Finland, his name is Paavo Nurmi. As you will soon see, his grasp of reality surpasses that of most graduates from Yale, or Harvard, or Stanford. He’s not even exceptional among his peers.
I hope you find this interview to be both enlightening and provocative.
* * *
Ross Dendy: Hello Paavo, I’m hoping you can shed some light on persistent myths held by the majority of my fellow Americans, while showing some of the advantages of living in a country that creates intelligent citizens.
Paavo Nurmi: I’ll do my best.
RD Do you see America as a democracy?
PN There’re many fine democratic documents held sacred from the creation of the republic, and on into its development as the USA. The short answer is, no. Global militarism, i.e. US foreign policy, is totally antithetical to democracy. It has been argued that America’s democracy is its “deadliest export.”
RD I agree and am considered anti-American for having protected my mind from endless jingoist propaganda. There’s an ongoing assault on the American people lead by the anti-social republic destroying Republicans and their alter ego Democrats who ruin democracy with a smile. Knowing what’s true about US foreign and domestic policy is considered treasonous in my country.
PN I’m seeing how fortunate I am being born in Finland. It’s hard to imagine living inside the most powerful empire in history while being so aware of its crimes and depredations.
RD I’m like an expatriate who refuses to be driven from my homeland by the liars and thieving bastards who’ve hijacked America. My country is falling apart, I see the signs everywhere. America is reaping the whirlwind for its insatiable greed, arrogance, aggression, and pathological exceptionalism. Let’s shift gears here. How do your government and the people of Finland view the alarming climate issues of the day?
PN Quite unlike your government and industry, we take the conclusive conclusions of the geo-scientists very seriously. The words and behavior of your recent and current administration are difficult for us to understand. Is your president mentally ill, or does he have a Jim Jones suicide phantasy for the whole world?
RD Apparently so to both questions.
PN America threatens all peoples of all lands. She used the USSR to straddle the world with military bases and has left a wake of death and devastation just to feed the greed and gluttony of consumer capitalism. The world is fed up with Uncle Sam!
RD Perhaps the civil countries of the world should unite and run covert operations on Washington to remove the plutocrats and their armies of influence pushers from the centers of power. Along the lines of what the US has done all over the world for the last 70 years to keep governments in power friendly to exploitive capitalistic resource extraction.
PN These are not new thoughts, America has grossly misused her wealth and power.
RD Let’s look at some common misconceptions stubbornly held by all too many of my fellow citizens, which are evidence of the intentionally failed education and health care systems. Do you believe the environmental movement ruined the fishing or logging industries in the US?
PN No logical person believes such nonsense, it’s right up there with virgin births and the Easter Bunny! The logging industry harmed itself by rapacious unregulated unsustainable practices. Environmentalists had to speak up because as usual, the myopic industry couldn’t imagine a limited resource and correct its own course. It’s pretty much the same story for commercial fishing. Look what greed and short sightedness did to the once thriving sardine industry in Monterrey California; there weren’t any environmentalists around back then to blame it on.
RD And what about the demise of the US auto industry? Was it undermined by laziness or the unions, or Japan and liberal trade arrangements?
PN I’d say that post WWII euphoric national supremacy were the faulty foundation the doomed US auto industry was built on. Add to that Cold War hubris and hysteria and then a near total lack of innovation in safety, economy, or overall performance. Then top the whole thing off with Hollywood style self aggrandizing gas hog delusions of grander.
RD And lets not leave out overpaid incompetent arrogant mediocre CEO’s who were incapable of learning anything from damn foreigners!
PN Sounds about right, sad to say.
RD What do you make of American celebrity and popular culture?
PN The word culture seems a bit of a stretch. I find it to be quite vulgar and inane. I don’t pay it much mind and see it as a symptom of a very ill society. It strikes me as a grand distraction to further destroy democracy.
RD I try to imagine what the world would be like if my country weren’t such a mean stupid steroidal bully. Of course we aren’t the first imperial monster to come along, just the worst and hopefully the last! Do you hold out any hope for the human race evolving fast enough to survive its own folly?
PN It’s not looking too good but giving up is not an option. It really helps having a government that actually cares about my quality of life and that protects our country from ruthless capitalist predators. The species may be de-evolving but I will resist and keep learning and be kind to all.
RD Give an example of an American who has inspired you.
PN Actually there’s very many to choose from. A recent addition is Dr. King. We’ve been studying Vietnam in school and I recently received a CD of his speech given on April 4th 1967 in New York entitled “Beyond Vietnam.” This speech should be required listening for any person trying to understand the anti-communist rage of US cold warriors and the extreme violence used on a poor weak nation trying to stabilize itself after decades of Japanese and French colonial domination. Exactly one year later Dr. King was assassinated in one of those bloody ritual killings your country specializes in.
RD A terrible crime committed on one of America’s finest sons. Obviously, he wasn’t killed by some lone nut racist as the liars proclaimed. It’s been encouraging speaking with an example of a young person whose mind hasn’t been destroyed by the mind managers of religion, corporations, or the state.
PN I’ve enjoyed the interview and will keep in touch, Kind Regards, I must get back to my rake!
HOLIDAY CELEBRATION & SECOND SATURDAY GALLERY RECEPTION
Saturday, December 8, 5 pm to 8 pm
The Mendocino Art Center hosts a free Second Saturday Gallery Reception each month. December's reception also serves as our Holiday Celebration and a thank you to the community for their continued support. Please join us for holiday cheer, hors d’oeuvres and wine, and the Victorian-costumed Mendocino Coast Carolers. Also, the Artists in Residence will open up their studios - watch them work and view and buy new artwork created in the Mendocino Art Center studios. And, browse for great gift ideas in our Gallery Shop and December's exhibitions.
PETA just compared using animal idioms to racism and homophobia...
POINT ARENA CITY COUNCIL MEETING DECEMBER 11, 2018
MY STUDIES INDICATE that teachers compound the ignorance of their students by avoiding talking about social class. The teachers I spoke to revealed that they had a much broader knowledge of the economy, both academically and experimentally, than they admitted in class. They expressed fear that students might find out about the injustices and inadequacies of their economic and political institutions. By never blaming the system, conventional American history courses thus present what I call “Republican history.”
— Linda MacNeil
FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS - 2 WEEKENDS REMAINING!
The 9th annual Festival of Lights will run rain or shine over the next two weekends (Fri, Sat, Sun through December 16). The Gardens invites you to create a holiday tradition and take a stroll along twinkling pathways lined with inventive displays. Warm up and wind down in a beautifully decorated tent complete with live music, wine, beer, and sweet treats.
Santa Claus will be at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens during the Festival of Lights on Saturday, December 15. Be sure to bring your holiday wish list and bring the family and snap a photo with good 'ol St. Nick!
Tickets — Adult tickets are just $10 and children age 16 and under attend for free. Tickets are available at The Garden Store at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, Harvest Market in Fort Bragg, Out of This World in Mendocino, or at the door. Tickets for Festival of Lights can be used for any day of the event and do not sell out for any date.
Festival Shuttle — Avoid the parking lot hustle and bustle... The parking shuttle will be available each night of the Festival of Lights. The shuttle will pick up from the Mendocino Community College parking lot at 1211 Del Mar Dr, Fort Bragg, CA 95437 beginning at 4:45 PM and take you directly to the Gardens' entrance. The last shuttle pick-up from the College parking lot will be at 6:45 PM.
MONUMENTAL DISASTER AT THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
SENATOR KAMALA HARRIS OPPOSES BIG AG WATER DEAL BY MCCARTHY, FEINSTEIN, BROWN AND TRUMP
by Dan Bacher
In tweet Thursday, Senator Kamala Harris announced her opposition to the controversial Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act) proposed by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein and supported by the Jerry Brown and Donald Trump administrations in a deal designed to increase water deliveries to agribusiness.
“We must invest in sustainable water projects that protect critical ecosystems while also supporting our important agricultural economies across the state,” said Senator Harris. “Extending the controversial and detrimental policies of the WIIN Act is not the way to do this.”
In response to Harris’ tweet, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA), tweeted, “This is what leadership in water policy looks like. Thank you Senator Kamala Harris!”
On November 30, Brown announced his endorsement of the 7-year extension of the WIIN Act, “including important provisions that House Majority Leader McCarthy and Senator Feinstein have proposed that enable California water users to participate in voluntary agreements and help improve river flows to restore fish populations.”
Along with Senator Harris, Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Discovery Bay), the Co Chair of the Califorrnia Legislative Delta Caucus, is also strongly opposed to proposed extensions to the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN Act).
“As Co-Chair of the California Legislative Delta Caucus, I urge Senator Feinstein, Governor Brown, and Representative McCarthy to end their support for the misguided and harmful WIIN Act extensions currently under consideration in Congress,” he said. “By pursuing this power grab, they are sending a clear message of support for billionaire agribusiness and contractors at the expense of local fishermen, farmers, and the water quality of an entire region. Instead of giving water away to billionaires, I ask that they stand up for the Delta that we call home, and the millions of Californians who believe that small businesses and the Delta’s precious environment should have a fair chance to thrive.”
Fraser said the WIIN Act, passed in 2016, enacted temporary changes to protect both water supply reliability and the ecological health of the Delta in the aftermath of a historic drought in California. He said the proposed extensions would prolong those short-term emergency provisions until 2028, without regard to actual drought conditions or Delta water quality.
“As I stated in a letter to Senator Feinstein, extending short-term provisions of the act until 2028 is a federal assault on the ecology and water quality of our rivers and overrides the urgent need to protect the health and economy of all Californians, especially small, disadvantaged communities in the Delta,” Frazier said. “The proposed extension of the WIIN Act also delivers unwelcome support for Governor Brown’s destructive tunnels proposal.”
“The Governor is resorting to desperate measures to try and rescue his dangerous tunnels project, which is currently on the ropes. However, harming one part of California’s economy to benefit another is the wrong decision for the state and for the Delta – we must support our local ecosystem and Delta economy,” Frazier concluded.
Caleen Sisk, Chief and spiritual leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, pointed out the connections between the Twin Tunnels, Sites Reservoir and the Shasta Dam raise that the WIIN Act facilitates.
“The Twin Tunnels, Sites Reservoir, and the Shasta Dam raise ‘are all 1 Brown WaterFix project’ to get the Water Mongers more water to sell back to the communities, towns and cities,” she said.
Protest set for December 6, 11 am, San Francisco
To stop this dangerous legislation, Food and Water Watch, Restore the Delta and concerned Bay-Delta residents will hold a protest at the office of Senator Dianne Feinstein in San Francisco on Thursday, December 6, at 11 a.m. to protest Feinstein’s Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act) Deal.
This legislation, if passed by Congress and signed by the President, would funnel Delta and Northern California water to corporate agribusiness in the San Joaquin Valley, harming the SF Bay-Delta environment, fisheries and fishing and Tribal communities in northern and central California.
Feinstein’s office is located on 1 Post Street #2450, San Francisco, CA 94104. Everybody concerned about the future of West Coast salmon, steelhead, striped bass, sturgeon, halibut, Dungeness crab and other fisheries is encouraged to attend.
“On November 30, Governor Brown endorsed a congressional rider that would extend of the drought-related, Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act,” according to a media advisory from Restore the Delta and Food and Water Watch. “By endorsing the WIIN Act, Feinstein betrays the future of salmon, Delta environmental justice and legacy communities, the state’s water rights system, and Delta cities’ drinking water quality serving over a half million residents and businesses,” the groups say.
For more information about the WIIN Act, go here: www.dailykos.com/…
Contacts for the protest: Julie Light, Food and Water Watch, 510-992-4083
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore the Delta 209-479-2053
Action Alert from Restore the Delta
By endorsing the WIIN Act, Feinstein betrays the future of salmon, Delta environmental justice and legacy communities, the state’s water rights system, and Delta cities’ drinking water quality serving over a half million residents and businesses.
We cannot take our eyes off the ball. The time to act is now. Please take just five minutes each day to call Senator Feinstein's to express your disapproval of the WIIN Act and the California WaterFix project.
“Hello, my name is ____, and I live in ______, CA. I am calling to express my disapproval the WIIN ACT that would weaken protections for endangered species and increase Delta water deliveries to the Central Valley, thereby subverting the objectives of the Bay-Delta Plan. I oppose the deal Senator Feinstein is cutting with Governor Brown and Majority House Leader, McCarthy. She said in 2016 the WIIN ACT was to help with the drought—now it is being used as a tool by the Brown Administration to increase flows permanently in the Delta in exchange for federal support of the Delta tunnels. Thank you.”
Below you will find the numbers to Senator Feinstein's Federal and State offices. Please keep your messages polite and professional. We want to represent the Delta well.
Washington D.C. Office*: (202) 224-3841
San Diego Office: (619) 231-0707
San Francisco Office: (415) 393-0707
Los Angeles Office: (310) 914-7300
Fresno Office: (559) 485-7430
You can also email her Water Policy staff member, John Watts, at John_Watts@feinstein.senate.gov.
I’m writing from BroadbandNow, an organization working to raise public awareness of internet access issues in the US.
We recently crunched some numbers on internet access in Bodega Bay.
Bodega Bay is a good case study for the trend towards reduced choice for internet service, as more large corporations merge and work to squash small companies. This is frustrating for Bodega Bay residents who feel like they only have one option for internet, with a large price tag for slow service. (You might relate. It’s a hot-button issue, in our experience.)
Upon request, we can flesh out the story, and walk through the local broadband situation in reader-friendly language.
Ana De Castro
PS: We can provide up-to-date local data on internet pricing, speed averages, business pricing, and more. We’re offering these with local media to build goodwill for our brand and increase public awareness about broadband issues. We also aggregate data about Bodega Bay here: