- Laughlin Quake
- Warm Days
- Poetry Celebration
- Coast Guard
- PG&E Bailout
- Staff Communication
- Poison Wine
- Ed Notes
- Baseball Psychic
- Fed Exed
- Yesterday's Catch
- Illicit Weed
- Midlife Crisis
- Displeased God
- Side Effect
- Alisemarie Photography
- Bad Music
- Bad Air
- Housing Armagedden
- Sixties Memories
- Joyous Future
- Feed Me
- Dog Walk
MAGNITUDE 4.3 EARTHQUAKE at 12:16 this morning beneath the Laughlin Range (between Willits, Redwood Valley, and Potter Valley).
SOME EARLY CHATTER on the MCN ListServe...
Subject: Cool! Earthquake!
From: "Marco McClean" firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Mon, April 29, 2019 12:15 am
First to report.
I'm always thrilled when the house shakes.
On Apr 29, 2019, at 12:22 AM, NAN email@example.com wrote:
So did anyone else have an elephant land on your roof (12:19 a.m.), or did we just get a good jolt from a quake?
Subject: Little River rockin'?
From: "Karen" firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Mon, April 29, 2019 12:33 am
Magnitude 4.2 earthquake, 7 miles from Willits, CA · 12:16 AM
We got a pretty good shake in Albion.
WARM TEMPERATURES can be expected again across interior areas today, with breezy conditions continuing along portions of the coast. Slightly cooler temperatures are in store for Tuesday and Wednesday before rebounding late in the week. The area will remain dry for the remainder of the work week, with a slight chance of rain this weekend. (National Weather Service)
MENDOCINO SPRING POETRY CELEBRATION
SUNDAY MAY 12
Whitman says, “Great poetry requires great audiences.” The public is welcome to celebrate the lively word on Sunday May 12, at the Hill House Inn of Mendocino, for the 15th consecutive revival of the Mendocino Spring Poetry Celebration. This event draws 30-40 of the best poets and work from the north counties and beyond.
There will be two open readings. Sign up at noon for the reading at 1:00 pm; sign up at 5:00 for the reading at 6:00 pm. Prepare four minutes for each session.
All poems will be considered for broadcast by Dan Roberts on KZYX&Z.
Choice comestibles and fellowship, open book displays. No charge, contributions welcome.
For info: Gordon Black at email@example.com or (707) 937-4107.
NEAR NOYO HARBOR
HOW TO REDUCE THE COST OF THE PG&E BAILOUT
by Jim Shields
Thanks to Governor Gavin Newsom, whose spine has the consistency of a jellyfish, and an equally spineless state legislature, it appears that Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) will be given a cushy bailout while its 16 million ratepayers will be given the shaft.
Newsom and his legislative cohorts apparently have no answers short of a bailout for the historic dilemma now facing California over just how much money PG&E’s 16 million ratepayers and, most likely, their descendants are on the hook for because of deadly wildfires caused by the electrical giant.
On April 12, Newsom proposed scrapping California’s liability laws so that PG&E, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric, the state’s three electrical monopolies, will have protection against the costs of future wildfires. For years, the Big Three have lobbied for relief from the “inverse condemnation” statute that opens them up to major liabilities if their equipment causes a fire — even if the companies haven’t been negligent.
Newsom argued that utilities “can’t be expected to bear the full brunt of wildfires in an era defined by climate change and increasing fire risk.”
However, the Governor forgot to mention that PG&E was the perpetrator of the fires, not global warming or increasing fire risk. So why should the public be held responsible for bailing out the company by surcharges or rate increases?
As I’ve pointed out previously, a 2017 Bay Area News Group story reported that:
“For the better part of a decade, California’s utilities have helped to stall the state’s effort to map where their power lines present the highest risk for wildfires, an initiative that critics say could have forced PG&E to strengthen power poles and bolster maintenance efforts before this month’s deadly North Bay fires.
“State officials began working to tighten regulations on utilities and create the detailed maps after wind-toppled electrical lines in 2007 ignited catastrophic fires in the San Diego area. But nearly 10 years later, the state Public Utilities Commission — which initiated the process — still hasn’t finished the maps, let alone adopted strict new regulations.
“A review of the mapping project by the Bay Area News Group shows that utilities have repeatedly asked to slow down the effort and argued as recently as July that, as PG&E put it, certain proposed regulations would ‘add unnecessary costs to construction and maintenance projects in rural areas.’
“On Oct. 6, two days before the start of the deadliest outbreak of wildfires in California history, two administrative law judges assigned to oversee the project granted yet another delay at the request of PG&E and other utilities.
“The timing of that 74-day deadline extension and the decade of seemingly endless debate about the maps has outraged lawmakers who have been pushing regulators for years to speed up a project designed to prevent catastrophic fires like the ones in Wine Country that killed at least 42 people and destroyed more than 5,000 homes and businesses.
“‘The sad part is the future didn’t arrive before these fires,’ said state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-Redwood City, a longtime critic of PG&E and the PUC. ‘It’s an outrageous example of negligence by a regulatory agency.”
The problem is these utilities too long have operated as if their primary obligation is to their shareholders, not to their customers and ratepayers.
“PG&E and the other utilities are very vigorously lobbying to see that the costs of disasters be covered by ratepayers, even when they are found negligent,” said Mark Toney, executive director of The Utility Reform Network, a San Francisco consumer group. “The shareholders benefit when the company does well,” he said. “They have to pay when the company doesn’t do well.”
Only one thought comes to mind. It’s time that PG&E and the other electrical monopolies are taught there are consequences when they fail to meet their responsibilities. After all, we’re talking about loss of life and people’s homes and lives that are forever impacted by catastrophic fires. They’ve paid enough already, don’t you think?
While we’re all in a holding pattern while PG&E’s fate is being decided in three different forums — U.S. Bankruptcy Court, the California Public Utilities Commission, and the state Legislature — I have a recommendation that would reduce one of the major costs that will be passed on to ratepayers by PG&E.
In January, U.S. District Judge William Alsup, the federal judge overseeing the conditions of PG&E’s probation from charges related to the San Bruno pipeline explosion in 2010, issued a “wildfire-prevention order.”
PG&E claimed it would cost between $75 billion and $150 billion to fully comply with the judge’s order to inspect its power grid and remove or trim trees that could fall into power lines and trigger wildfires.
“PG&E would inevitably need to turn to California ratepayers for funding, resulting in a substantial increase — an estimated one-year increase of more than five times current rates in typical utility bills,” the company said in its filed response to the order.
Now here’s where the indecisive Gov. Newsom and state Legislature can step into the picture and do something positive for PG&E ratepayers.
California already has several funded programs that are clearing forests of dead trees, thick underbrush, and other vegetative fuels that stoke wildfires. Why not expand these programs with some of the $30 billion budget surplus already in state coffers?
I’m assuming that PG&E’s estimated cost of $75 billion to $150 billion is an inflated number. It’s also a cost based on PG&E hiring private-sector companies to do the work. The state could get the job done much more economically by utilizing CAL FIRE convict crews and California Conservation Corps workers. Both organizations already perform a full-range of forestry and natural resource work. Additional CAL FIRE inmate crews and Corps members would be needed for the PG&E project but worker costs are very low, especially for the convict crews.
If the state were to implement this proposal it would be a true win-win-win project: Good for PG&E ratepayers, good for our forests, and definitely good for fire prevention.
(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, and is also the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live: http://www.kpfn.org)
Photos by Judy Valadao, who notes: “I first noticed the nest on April 2. The wait is over.”
JAMES MARMON WRITES: RE: WALLING OFF WILLIAMS — Could Ted William be the next on the long list Mental-cino Supervisors to have a psychotic break and end up in an out of county psyche unit? He better stop contacting staff on his own or one of the females are going to say he makes them feel uncomfortable which will lead to him being hit with a threatening #MeToo letter from Brown and Angelo, like the one they threw at poor Tom Woodhouse. You’re walkin on thin ice there Williams
LAZ OF WILLITS REPLIES: That was a big step towards the cliff for Woodhouse. He did go public with the threatening letter, put it in all the papers. Hopefully, Williams is strong enough to survive if the water torture begins. The other new guy Haschak was big talk during the election cycle but I’ve yet to see him dig in on anything. As far as MeToo, it had little influence in the Willits High matter from where I sit. And moreover, this is the Mendo…Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman…
MARK SCARAMELLA COMMENTS: Of course elected officials can ask questions of staff. The “you need three Supervisors” rule applies to “giving direction to staff.” The difference is important. But Williams should ask his questions in writing, via email with copies to the CEO and whoever else needs be, so that he maintains a record of what he asked, when, to whom, and whether the elected official’s question was answered and when and whether the answer was satisfactory. I would discourage casual visits to staffers with chitchat style questions and such. That just encourages more of the same gibberish that we see at the Board level. Also, by using email, if anyone objects to a supervisor’s questions (if they’re considered “direction,” for example) — all of which seem legitimate and on point to me — they can say so and appropriate action taken. If Mendo has really come to a point where Supervisors can’t even ask a question of staff without the equivalent of a Brown Act process, then we clearly don’t need Supervisors at all. I can (and have) asked questions of staff periodically in the past and they generally do answer and they don’t complain that it’s anything like “direction.” Their replies don’t always answer the question, of course. But that’s a subject for another comment on another day.
THIS GUY WAS IN A SPACESUIT doing some spraying, a contrast of the disconcerting and relaxing. If it’s that poisonous should it really be going into my wine? (Frank Hartzell)
A REMINDER WE LIVE in the country: "A sad notice from us and heads-up to neighbors. Our 15-year-old cat went missing on Thursday and this morning we found what remained of him (just fur and a few bones) very close to our house at the end of Nichols Lane, which is about 1.5 miles up Little Lake Road. We’re guessing it was a mountain lion."
MOUNTAIN LIONS seem pretty well fed around here, what with the deer population providing a moveable feast. The Bay Area's burgeoning population of coyotes are known to enjoy a plump household tabby. Even in the center of Boonville where homes abut wild spaces it isn't all that unusual for the larger predators to snag an unattended domestic animal.
CHILDISH PROVOCATIONS. On Highway 128 between Yorkville and Mountain House Road, on the west side of the highway, lies Highland Estate. A sign at the foot of Highland Estate's driveway reads, "No Pullout. Vehicles Exiting." I've been pulling into the No Pullout for months, and I've never yet seen an exiting vehicle. But it's the peremptory tone that annoys me. I'm just guessing here but I suspect the owners of the place are OCD cases — obsessive-compulsives. The property seems a little too telltale orderly, and the sign is also unnecessary since there's a CalTrans pullout less than a half-mile farther down the road. So what we have here is OCD people trying to foist off their obsessiveness on innocent passersby! I won't have it! As an American and a motorist I'll be darned if I'll give in to roadside fascism!
MAYBE SOME of you also heard a KQED Radio program last Friday on whether or not the Napa Valley has, or is in the process of, being murdered by the wine industry. To geezers like me who remember what Napa and Sonoma were like before the wine deluge, the discussion is fifty years too late. Anderson Valley is going fast to wine and its related tourism and, it's fair to say whether or not it is fair to say, but I say it from personal observation, the industry has killed the Navarro River as a fish stream and disappeared all the Anderson Valley frogs born anywhere in the vicinity of vineyards. And still they come! The vineyards, that is.
THE RADIO DEBATE was between a bullethead from the Farm Bureau and an ill-equipped elderly woman unable to make the case for the social-environmental damage the wine industry has done to the Napa Valley. The elderly woman got a rise out of the Farm Bureau bullethead when she said a majority of the Napa supervisors are "bought off." Probably not literally, but certainly amply supported by the forces of destruction. A measure to spare Napa any more wine development lost the first time around. Another measure is in the works.
ONE OF THE SPEAKERS mentioned the interesting statistic that the average age of a wine drinker is 59, a pot smoker 27. The implication seemed to be that either the stoners switch to wine in their dotage or the wine industry will succumb to the dopers.
ADD LOOK-ALIKES: Greg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs and Bill Harper of Rancho Navarro
THE BEER BRIGADES arrived in Boonville by the several thousands Friday and Saturday, downed unholy amounts of beer, and were gone by Sunday evening, not so much as a discarded Bud can or a drunken dude in or near the Boonville Fairgrounds, ground zero for the event.
SIGNS OF THE TIMES
Transients Knock Out Safeway Fed Ex Box
MendocinoSportsPlus received a message from a friend, “Just thought I’d give you a heads up. I was sitting in the parking lot at Safeway in Fort Bragg Friday and the Fed Ex drop box is now out of commission because of transients dumping trash in it when there is literally a trashcan less than 20 feet away. You can see the trash receptacle on the left, but still they use the FedEx and mail drops as trash cans. I got this information directly from the FedEx personnel that picked up the people’s packages that were covered in garbage.”
CATCH OF THE DAY, April 28, 2019
SEAN ANDRADE, Livermore/Boonville. DUI, misdemeanor hit&run with damage.
SARAH CASSELL, Brattleboro, Vermont/Ukiah. Theft of over $400 from dependent elder, petty theft of merchandise with priors.
BRIAN GARD, Lakeport/Ukiah. Criminal threats.
ROBERT GREENE, Willits. Loaded firearm in public, failure to appear, probation revocation.
RAMON MACHADO, Leggett. Vehicular manslaughter in commission of unlawful act without gross negligence.
CHRISTOPHER PANICHI, Monte Serano/Laytonville. DUI.
MIGUEL RANGEL, Philo. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
JOSHUA REID, Williams. Resisting.
ENER REYES-DELGADO, Potter Valley. Domestic battery, criminal threats.
COLTER REYNOLDS, Covelo. Controlled substance, resisting.
DANIEL TANNER, Ukiah. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, criminal threats.
JAMIE TRUDEAU, Fort Bragg. Grand theft-bicycle.
GREGORY VANGUNDY, Willits. Vehicle tampering.
MSP'S 'BLAME ONEROUS REGULATION' DEPARTMENT
Illegal Pot Sales Boom In California After Legalization
COSTA MESA, Calif. — In the forests of Northern California, raids by law enforcement officials continue to uncover illicit marijuana farms. In Southern California, hundreds of illegal delivery services and pot dispensaries, some of them registered as churches, serve a steady stream of customers. And in Mendocino County, north of San Francisco, the sheriff’s office recently raided an illegal cannabis production facility that was processing 500 pounds of marijuana a day.
It’s been a little more than a year since California legalized marijuana — the largest such experiment in the United States — but law enforcement officials say the unlicensed, illegal market is still thriving and in some areas has even expanded.
“There’s a lot of money to be made in the black market,” said Mendocino County Sheriff Thomas Allman, whose deputies seized cannabis oil worth more than $5 million in early April.
Legalization, Allman said, “certainly didn’t put cops out of work.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared that illegal grows in Northern California “are getting worse, not better” and two months ago redeployed a contingent of National Guard troops stationed on the border with Mexico to go after illegal cannabis farms instead.
Stepped-up enforcement comes with a certain measure of irony — legalization was meant to open a new chapter for the state, free from the legacy of heavy policing and incarceration for minor infractions. Instead, there are new calls for a crackdown on illegal selling.
Conscious of the consequences that the war on drugs had on black and Latino communities, cities like Los Angeles say they are wary of using criminal enforcement measures to police the illegal market and are unsure how to navigate this uncharted era.
The struggles of the licensed pot market in California are distinct from the experience of other states that have legalized cannabis in recent years. Sales in Colorado, Oregon and Washington grew well above 50 percent for each of the first three years of legalization, although Oregon now also has a large glut of pot.
But no other state has an illegal market on the scale of California’s, and those illicit sales are cannibalizing the revenue of licensed businesses and, in some cases, experts say, forcing them out of business.
Entrepreneurs in the industry, which spent decades evading the law, are now turning to the law to demand the prosecution of unlicensed pot businesses.
“We are the taxpayers — no one else should be operating,” said Robert Taft, whose licensed cannabis business in Orange County, south of Los Angeles, has seen sales drop in recent months.
“This is starting to get ridiculous,” he said of the illegal pot shops, including nearby businesses that list themselves as churches and advertise marijuana as a kind of sacrament. “It’s almost like the state is setting itself up to lose.”
California gives cities wide latitude to regulate cannabis, resulting in a confusing patchwork of regulations. Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose and San Diego have laws allowing cannabis businesses, but most smaller cities and towns in the state do not — 80% of California’s nearly 500 municipalities do not allow retail marijuana businesses. The ballot measure legalizing recreational marijuana passed in 2016 with 57% approval, but that relatively broad support has not translated to the local level. Cities like Compton or Laguna Beach decisively rejected allowing pot shops.
Regulators cite this tepid embrace by California municipalities as one of many reasons for the state’s persistent and pervasive illegal market. Only 620 cannabis shops have been licensed in California so far. Colorado, with a population one-sixth the size of California, has 562 licensed recreational marijuana stores.
But the more fundamental reason for the strength of the black market in California — and what sets the state apart from others — is the huge surplus of pot. Since medical marijuana was made legal in California more than two decades ago, the cannabis industry flourished with minimal oversight. Now many cannabis businesses are reluctant to go through the cumbersome and costly process to obtain the licenses that became mandatory last year.
Of the roughly 14 million pounds of marijuana grown in California annually, only a fraction — less than 20% according to state estimates and a private research firm — is consumed in California. The rest seeps out across the country illicitly, through the mail, express delivery services, private vehicles and small aircraft that ply trafficking routes that have existed for decades.
This illicit trade has been strengthened by the increasing popularity of vaping, cannabis-infused candies, tinctures and other derivative products. Vape cartridges are much easier to carry and conceal than bags of raw cannabis. And the monetary incentives of trafficking also remain powerful: The price of cannabis products in places like Illinois, New York or Connecticut are typically many times higher than in California.
The state’s illicit cannabis exports appear to be increasing even now, well into California’s second year of legalization. New Frontier Data, a data research company that specializes in cannabis, calculates that high demand and more advanced growing techniques will contribute to approximately half a million pounds more illicit cannabis this year compared with 2018.
The federal government still considers marijuana illegal, and the Drug Enforcement Administration says it still investigates marijuana-related crimes. But a spokesman, Rusty Payne, said the agency has a bigger crisis to attend to.
“We’ve got our hands full with the opioid epidemic to be honest,” Payne said.
In wildland areas, seizures of illicit pot by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife more than doubled in 2018, the first year that recreational cannabis was legal.
The department destroyed 1.6 million marijuana plants in 2018, up from 700,000 in 2017 and 800,000 the year before — all of them illegally grown.
“There’s a subset of people who are just refusing to get into the process,” said Nathaniel Arnold, the department’s deputy chief of enforcement.
The Bureau of Cannabis Control, the agency charged with regulating marijuana in the state, has received about 7,500 complaints, most of them about illegal operations, and has sent out more than 3,000 letters ordering illegal businesses to shut down.
“It’s only a matter of time before we start making a dent in the illegal market,” said Alex Traverso, a spokesman for the agency, who acknowledged there were probably more illegal shops in Los Angeles alone than licensed shops in the entire state.
Cat Packer, executive director of the Department of Cannabis Regulation in Los Angeles, said that even when illicit businesses were shut down, they often soon reappeared.
“It’s been a game of whack-a-mole in the city of Los Angeles,” she said.
But Packer also said the city was mindful that criminal enforcement in the past had disproportionately targeted people of color.
The city is seeking to find an effective enforcement policy that does not mimic the criminal interdiction policies of the past, Packer said. One strategy is to turn off water and power services to noncompliant businesses.
“We can’t do Drug War 2.0,” she said.
Taft, the cannabis entrepreneur, has sent 450 complaints to the Bureau of Cannabis Control and is unapologetic about his calls for an aggressive approach to illegal shops, which he says is the only way that California’s giant experiment will work.
His dispensary pays a cumulative state and local tax rate of 32.25%. Unlicensed shops pay no tax.
One of Taft’s biggest complaints is about Weedmaps, a phone app that allows users to locate marijuana businesses nearby, both licensed and illegal.
In February 2018, the Bureau of Cannabis Control sent a letter to Weedmaps saying the company was aiding and abetting illicit businesses and ordering it to “immediately cease all activity that violates state cannabis laws.”
Weedmaps replied that it was a technology company and not under the jurisdiction of the bureau. More than a year later, the company still lists hundreds of unlicensed shops.
Earlier this year, Taft resigned as a board member of the Santa Ana Cannabis Association because half the members, he said, were selling illegally and using legalization as a “shield.”
“They are playing both sides of the market,” he said.
On a recent weekday morning, Taft called the Bureau of Cannabis Control to lodge a complaint against his neighbor, a cannabis business that he said did not appear on the list of licensed businesses.
“We are being pillaged by these people,” he said. “My lawyers are ready to launch rockets!”
(Thomas Fuller, The New York Times)
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
It’s only a matter of time before a high dry season, a spark, and a Santa Ana wind burns Los Angeles from the mountains to the sea. Likewise, chances are pretty good for a spectacular earthquake reducing San Francisco to rubble. Heavy wildfire smoke every year will just be a mild fact of existence from here on out across the west. And to think it was all because God was displeased that a couple young queers got oiled up and danced on the bar in Stonewall… He decided to create a migration of his believers to rival Moses’s flight from Egypt, to their ancestral homeland, now the Nation’s salad bar.
BERNIE SANDERS V THE DEMOCRATIC ESTABLISHMENT: what the battle is really about "In the eyes of the Democratic establishment, courting big dollars is the only way to stay politically competitive – and besides, corporations and wealthy individuals are major stakeholders in society, so why shouldn’t they get a major say over policy?
That’s a coherent worldview, and it’s one that the majority of Democratic and Republican powerbrokers hold. But increasingly, American voters are turning against what they see as a corrupting influence of money in our politics. Sanders believes that he can build a sort of politics where small donors and ordinary people drive political discussion rather than the large donors Cap and Biden are courting."
EDGEWATER'S FEATURED ARTIST ALISEMARIE
Alisemarie's Fine Art Photography Show on First Friday
Edgewater Gallery, 356 North Main Street, Fort Bragg
Opening Friday, May 3, from 5-8pm, continuing through May 31
Light refreshments served. Admission is free. Alisemarie will do a short presentation about herself and her art at 6pm.
Alisemarie came from a large family of artists and musicians. She discovered photography as her medium as a result of a one-way ticket to Paris at midlife, proceeding to soak up the beauty of the countryside.
Alisemarie realized a dream when she moved from Albanym, CA, to Fort Bragg. In her own words: "Nature's designs fascinate me. They capture my eyes and draw me in. They teach me their wisdom and bring me a deep sense of peace. This is an inner peace that I want to share. My hope is to share these gifts I've received with you."
WE'RE CONSTANTLY BEING BOMBARDED by insulting and humiliating music, which people are making for you the way they make those Wonder Bread products. Just as food can be bad for your system, music can be bad for your spiritual and emotional feelings. It might taste good or clever, but in the long run, it's not going to do anything for you…[Bob Dylan]
California hypocrisy: they outlawed plastic straws in restaurants yet they are handing out plastic hypodermic needles to the dopers in San Francisco. San Francisco is so filthy that even the homeless are leaving. People take craps in the middle of the street in broad daylight on the sidewalks. You have to wear rubber boots to walk down Market Street. It's a shame to the world. You can thank Gavin Newsom for that. He started it. And Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein, Maxine Waters, Kamala Harris, some guy named Rich, and on and on. They do nothing about their town. It's a disgrace to humanity, and the world. President Trump should clamp down on these idiots!
A prominent radio announcer said that California should be amputated from the United States. It's the only way to save the United States: Amputation.
That stupid idiot Cortez came up with this Green deal. Gangrene! It will eat everything we have in United States alive. You have no idea how harmful it will be. But it won't pass because this woman is a psychopath.
I can't believe we have her or Omar or Pelosi or Schumer or Waters in Congress. Where do they come from? Another world? They are not real people.
Global warming, climate change and ozone are all horseshit. Just another way to spend trillions of taxpayer dollars and cause major disruptions all over. There's nothing wrong with our atmosphere. There's not enough bad air going into the atmosphere to harm a fly. Because bad air dissipates as it rises. These idiot professors like Al Gore and other Democrats want to spend trillions of tax dollars on nothing but unimportant things. And now they are taking our trucks! It's amazing what these people get away with.
God Bless Donald Trump.
MARK ROTHKO, MULTIFORM, 1948
SAN FRANCISCO: CITY OF RICH PEOPLE
Alexis Madrigal in The Atlantic:
There has never been a town like the one San Francisco is becoming, a place where a single industry composed almost entirely of rich people thoroughly dominates the local economy. Much of the money that’s been squished out of the rest of the world gets funneled by the internet pipes to this little sliver of land on the Pacific Ocean, jutting out into the glory of the bay…
Literal colonies of the working poor now cling to forgotten streets in RV communities. Homeless encampments are stitched onto any liminal plot of land. To lose your apartment doesn’t mean moving one neighborhood over but three cities away, to Antioch or Gilroy or Stockton.
But wait, it gets worse.
This year, eight major tech companies are expected to hold initial public offerings. The first, Lyft, took the public-market plunge last month. Yesterday, Pinterest did. Airbnb, Instacart, Palantir, Postmates, Slack, and Uber remain. Amazingly, all but Palantir are headquartered in San Francisco, currently home to only five other public software companies—Dropbox, Salesforce, Square, Twitter, and Yelp…
And while digital space is seemingly infinite, San Francisco has an extremely limited housing supply. Only 5,471 properties changed hands last year out of almost 400,000 housing units. So what will happen when billions of dollars in stock options can become cash anytime someone clicks ‘Sell’?
The common wisdom is simple: housing Armageddon.
But even the end times have a structure. Much of what the world knows about the tech world’s effects on San Francisco’s real-estate market comes from three sources: house-hunting lore (“They bid 400 grand over asking! All cash!”), realtors talking up their industry’s prospects, and aggregated market data from firms like CoreLogic.
The numbers point to crazy market dynamics: The median home price hovered around $1.3 million in 2018.
But precisely because the tech industry has become so ubiquitous, blending in seamlessly with the old-line wealth generated by hometown firms like Bechtel, McKesson, Levi’s, various banks, and more obscure fortunes, it’s been hard to disentangle what all those engineer salaries and options are doing in the world.
At least until Deniz Kahramaner got interested. He’s a 20-something Stanford-trained data scientist turned real-estate agent, and he wanted to understand who was driving the local housing market. When he founded Data Bay Area, a real-estate group affiliated with the unicorn start-up Compass, he came into a common data set of property records…
IT IS A CONVENTIONAL WISDOM that the assassination of President Kennedy represented the loss of America's innocence. In popular history the death of JFK marks the end of the sheltered, prosperous post war era, and the beginning of the cynicism and alienation which culminated in the antiwar movement. The movie ‘JFK’ sells this point of view, but so do countless other movies, from ‘Forrest Gump’ to ‘Mermaids’ with Cher.
I don't buy it. Again, I'm not claiming any special expertise here, but I was a child of the 60s too, and I think my perceptions of the time are probably as accurate as the next person’s. If I were to make a list of 50 factors which contributed to the schism in society which rocked the 60s, I would list things as diverse as the invention of LSD and the "modernization" of small schools into large, impersonal school districts which put teenagers into contact with hundreds of other teenagers but isolated from adult society and thus created a youth culture. I would list pop psychology, rock music and the maturation of the radio market which caused young people for the first time to be listening to different radio stations than their parents. I would list the civil rights movement and the popularization of the 1950s beat culture. I would not list the Kennedy assassination among the 50 factors.
Why? It just doesn't ring true in my experience. I wasn't a full blown hippie, but most of my friends were. We talked incessantly about why we were the way we were. Hell, we were the most insufferably self-conscious generation in American history. People talked about their parents, about the police, about the irrelevance of the academic curriculum to the lives we all expected to lead. Some people talked an awful lot about how wonderful sex was and how terrible it was for all those previous generations to have repressed their sexuality. We talked about the Kennedy assassination twice a year, when we were bored. What the 60s were about was sex and race and war. Our parents were irreparably damaged as role models because they were racists and believed in war as an instrument of national policy. We could not be like them, we all thought — hell, they're racists.
Sure the assassination of Kennedy was a shock. But you know what? We had all heard about murder. We had all heard of lunatics. Nobody was under the illusion that a bullet wouldn't kill the president as it would kill anybody else. And almost nobody at the time thought anything other than that one of those lunatics had gotten a bullet to the president.
I have no empirical evidence to support what I'm saying. But go to the library and look up magazine from 1965-1968. You'll find volumes of the essays about the "generation gap," the split of society into young and old. Very, very few of those articles will make any mention of the assassination of JFK. It is an easy, after the fact dividing line between the generations, but it's just not true.
On the other hand, the cultural impact of the Manson murders is enormously under-appreciated. The murder of Sharon Tate rocked the nation when the counterculture was just past its peak. The arrest and trial of Charles Manson and his followers delivered to young Americans a simple message of enormous impact: that evil men, adorned with flowers, would look much the same as saints. A culture based on categorical trust and unconditional acceptance was a balloon waiting to burst, and Charles Manson was the needle.
We didn't ask ourselves what evil lurked beneath the skin of strangers, so long as they dressed like us. Evil belonged to the other generations, to the hard cases among our generation who would not open their hearts. Was this naive? It was preposterously naive. We were younger than young. The 60s were cynical and they certainly didn't come about after the loss of the nation's innocence. They were innocence personified, innocence to run amok. They could not coexist with personified evil.
— Bill James, “Popular Crime”
WE NEED IMMIGRATION
Our absurd immigration policy makes it virtually impossible to come here legally for people so eager to work that they risk their lives to get here. Nevertheless we all happily enjoy the fruits of their “illegal” cheap skills and labor.
The U.S. is not “full.” In fact, we have a looming desperate need for young workers, as the demographics of an increasingly aging population play out. Who’s going to look after grandpa, milk the cows and pay your Social Security?
According to the Congressional Budget Office, “… in aggregate and over the long-term, tax revenues of all types generated by immigrants — both legal and unauthorized — exceed the cost of the services they use. Unauthorized immigrants demand goods and services, while an estimated 50 to 75% pay income and Social Security taxes. Due to cheaper labor, they contribute to lower prices in the industries where they work, such as agriculture, restaurants and construction.”
According to the New American Economy, a bipartisan research group, undocumented immigrants contributed $13 billion into the Social Security fund in 2016 and $3 billion to Medicare. (Neither of which they can collect).
Most undocumented immigrants come here to work. Who employs them? We all do, of course. Don’t we, Mr. President?
Michael L. Jones
RELAX, IT'S NO WONDER YOU'RE TIRED. YOU'VE EARNED IT. IF IT HURTS WHEN YOU DO THAT, DON'T DO THAT.
One of the first questions I ask in every conversation I'm involved in lately is they know what they think that they know about the world they were born into. And why do they trust these sources? Do they seek out opinions from the other side? What about local stuff? The rollover accident with four fatalities that nearly involved you and your daughter. Did the newspaper report it accurately? Or course, nobody involved was paying attention. Thanks for trying, though. That bastard in the MiniCooper was following too closely. After all, you saw it plainly on the rear-facing screen at the instant you dropped that damned cellphone. No question. Sue the bastard!
And that little prick with the manhunt who pulled that heater into the last space on the last six floors close enough to crumple a fender if you had left ten seconds earlier? You didn't notice until he gently spread your legs and settled your heels into the appropriate stirrup? Same guy. You're sure. And he's your new gynecologist. And he slipped you his number on a prescription pad when his observing nurse turned for more dry ice. You hope he misses you there tonight. And yes, you are absolutely sure.
Meanwhile , the beaches below Mendocino look all postcards and awesome, as usual. The trees still fall, as usual. The cruise lines still peddle their fantasies, making American Express shareholders happy. That was one of them whose suicide was just discovered when the corpse inside room 1176 had rotted sufficiently. Etc. This is why you're so tired. Etc.
THE GRATEFULLY DEAD, PART XLMIIV, GROUND.
Look up from your screen. Or maybe you're reading your Bible, your boa constrictor contentedly pulsating there in your lap. Now imagine that, say, half of the inhabitants of the planet are actually dead. But they are identical to the living in every respect: no one knows who is who.
Nothing changes. The narrative moves right along, but now it resembles intricate lace. Pull here, for example and you can feel the new tension over there.
If you can successfully bring this one off, you will never know normal again. You will look at the current trends in now tied a new way. What brand of cars gay men prefer. What color.
This is how we pay attention. This is how dare weaves our lives. And as often as possible, put down that damned little screen and go for a walk. With your dog.