LIGHT RAIN CONTINUED INTO THURSDAY NIGHT, decreasing into Friday. Rain to pick up again Saturday into Sunday with rain totals up to three-quarters of an inch. Showers expected to linger through Wednesday with clearing likely by next Thursday. Highs in the 60s and lows in the 40s for the next few days with breezy winds up to 10mph.
THE COAST HOSPITAL CABAL
by Malcolm Macdonald
At an April 23 Mendocino Coast District Hospital (MCDH) Finance Committee meeting Robert Becker and Carole White read a prepared statement expressing the view of those who want to maintain local control of MCDH. They titled their document, “Hospital Rush to Affiliation Devalues Community & Planning.”
The statement was signed by Mr. Becker, Ms. White, Katy Pye, Tanya Smart, and Myra Beals, with the addendum that they are members of a group called “Friends of the Hospital,” but they were writing and “speaking only for themselves.” Such a caveat suggested that this handful of citizens didn't have the backing of enough of the “Friends of the Hospital” or it would have been signed with a greater number of names.
This small group made the following claim that April day, “The CEO and CFO have repeated that, while money pressures are real, NO imminent cash flow or financial crises loom that jeopardize our independence or stability.” They provided the emphasis on the word “no.”
Anybody who has been listening to interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Wayne Allen knows that he (Allen) has been saying precisely the opposite. Since his return to MCDH Allen has been pointing out the abysmal financial situation the coast hospital finds itself in. Even if this little cabal doesn't deign to read the AVA, they need look no further than the coastal newspapers to see interim CEO Allen pointing out that “the hospital is on a pace to lose $827,810 in the fiscal year ending June 30, after a $1.2 million loss last year. A broadly outlined proposed budget for next year shows a $1.9 million loss…”
The takeaway: this pipsqueak cabal of Becker, White, Beals, Smart, and Pye aren't beneath completely reversing reality to suit their purposes. Yet their statements imply that they speak for the community. The April 23 missive used the sentence, “The community is off the canvas.”
What this means in the context of the hospital's financial situation and the possibility of affiliation escapes me. Best guess is that the phrase is some sort of comparison to a boxer getting up after being knocked down. What is clear, the presumption of a handful of people who think they speak for the thousands of voters within the district MCDH serves. This wee five-some are a mere minority faction within a relatively tiny portion of the electorate who meet as the so-called "Friends of the Hospital" group.
The “Friends of the Hospital” and this subset of it have not been closely involved in coast hospital matters for all that long. Most of them appeared on the scene about two years ago when a hue and cry went up that MCDH administration was considering closing the obstetrics (OB) department.
This cabal yammers on about the need for transparency at MCDH. In particular they have been critical of the female members of the Board of Directors, and particularly inhospitable toward the two board members of the planning committee concerning the subject of transparency.
Time to set the record straight about Becker, White, Beals, Pye, and Smart. These five have been part of a concerted effort to keep quiet, or hush up if you prefer, the fact that the OB Department at MCDH turns away birth mothers at the door.
The fairly well guarded secret is that MCDH too often does not have an OB physician and/or nurse on staff or on call when needed. The cabal listed above know this and implore MCDH officials to keep the matter under wraps. This insular little group is so attached to preserving a narrative that MCDH provides just as good OB services as one might get over the hill or in Santa Rosa that they don't want the general public to know that OB services are simply not available at times within the coast hospital.
So much for transparency.
Back in April when members of the cabal five were calling out MCDH Board members for a lack of transparency along with earlier in-your-face criticisms of the new board members on the planning committee, this hospital observer decided to ask them a straight out question. This took place more or less at the same time as their “Rush to Affiliation” statement was read and handed out at a finance committee. I sent emails or other forms of social media correspondence to the five signers of that “Rush” statement. Each correspondence had slightly different wording, but the gist is summed up here: “I have just read the letter you authored about the rush to hospital affiliation. In addition to that issue, is it the goal of your group to remove one or more of the current MCDH Board members from office and replace them with someone more in line with your group's objectives?”
It has been more than three weeks since the query went out to Becker, White, Beals, Pye, and Smart. Not a single one of them has responded by email or any other social media communication. At least three of them have attended multiple MCDH Board and/or committee meetings since that time. This correspondent was present at each one. One might expect a personal admonishment along the lines of a thorough denial that they are attempting to oust a board member or two. At least I'd expected something like, 'How dare you!'
To the contrary, none of them has uttered a word of denial. The “non-denial denial” of Watergate fame was framed in carefully crafted word play, but in more contemporary times silence has also been used as a similar ploy. Silence doesn't prove these five are definitively guilty of trying to oust duly elected MCDH Board members, so readers will have to decide for themselves.
Left to their own devices some of these individuals might have positive input to offer the coast hospital, but collectively they too often act in a manner comparable to a pack mentality; a pack running amok with self-aggrandizement and self-contradiction.
In other recent MCDH news, it has become clear that coast hospital officials have received multiple phone calls from Adventist Health administrators in regard to opening talks about affiliation. A top administrator from American Advanced Management Group (AAMG), which has partnered with or taken over financially troubled hospitals in Colusa, Coalinga, and west Sonoma County, toured MCDH a week or so ago as well as engaging MCDH leadership in conversation for a half hour or so. As many as four representatives of AAMG will make a presentation at an upcoming MCDH committee meeting. If you only read the AVA in print, that meeting may have already occurred.
EMERGENCY SERVICES NEWS
by Mark Scaramella
EOA Coming Apart at The Seams; Ambulance Staffing Problems; Siren Test Fails Miserably; Forest Service Refusing To Reimburse Local Fire Agencies For Strike Teams. Plus: Fire Department’s popular “Living With Wildfire” Series And A New Tent Application Process.
The “Exclusive Operating Area” for inland ambulance services is starting to come apart at the seams. Not only has the inland ambulance picture on which it was based changed dramatically, but complicated pieces required to implement the idea are becoming increasingly problematic.
A few years ago, the large international Denmark-based medical services outfit called Falck Inc. (also known locally as Verihealth for a while) started responding to inland ambulance calls at the same time that the longtime local outfit MedStar did, creating artificial competition and reduced revenues for both outfits. Verihealth seemed to want to horn in on our rural ambulance business, a dubious business proposition to begin with even if successful. After a while somebody proposed that contracting with one single contractor for "exclusive" ambulance services would solve that dual-response problem.
After years of costly and tedious planning and preparation, Mendocino County finally released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Exclusive Operating Area in February — but by that time Falck had already withdrawn one of their ambulances from Mendocino County (Covelo). Then last week we heard that Falck had removed another one and was planning to leave Mendocino County entirely and focus on a more lucrative contract in Alameda County — high traffic accident volume is the, well, lifeblood of these larger outfits.
Falck’s latest departure has left the Highway 101 corridor with barely enough ambulances to cover calls and a significant shortage in paramedics. In addition, the Sonoma County-based Coastal Valley Emergency Medical Services outfit managed by Sonoma County but which has provided administrative and technical support to Mendocino County ambulance services has announced that it will cost Mendocino County something like three times more than it has in the past for a year's worth of their support — maybe $200k more than last year, money that Mendocino County probably doesn't have. (Unless they roll back their big executive raises and don’t pay Alicia Bales et al for the dubious climate change committee.)
In theory, each area/county is supposed to have its own "local emergency management services agency" (LEMSA). But with these latest developments, it's not clear if Coastal Valley will provide that service starting in July. Mendocino supervisors and the CEO have been talking about setting up a joint powers LEMSA with other counties, but even if they find a couple of neighboring counties to rope into that idea, there is no way it could be arranged by July 1.
Upshot: Not only is the Exclusive Operating Area no longer required, but even if it was, contract administration and technical oversight would be very difficult, if not impossible, to arrange.
Meanwhile, Anderson Valley’s local ambulance service is finding it increasingly difficult to cover all the shifts — 14 twelve-hour shifts per week — with qualified volunteers occasionally supplemented by a paramedic out of Ukiah. Although Anderson Valley’s local ambulance department seems now to be financially stable, the improved financial picture is not much help in recruiting and retaining ambulance volunteer EMTs who still need to undergo substantial training and meet more and more qualification requirements.
Across the County, fragile fire and ambulance organizations continue to operate despite straining under staffing shortages, increased technical training requirements, minimum funding, and administrative confusion.
From the minutes of the Anderson Valley Fire Protection Committee meeting on May 1: “Siren test results: the siren test at Rancho Navarro recently failed miserably because the sound was inaudible in many locations, weak in others.” So, the Fire Protection Committee, which had been skeptical of the siren idea to begin with, along Fire Chief Andres Avila, recommended that the AV Community Services District board withdraw from their participation in the County’s siren grant application.
According to Chief Avila, they simulated a siren set up with one of the proposed $25k sirens in April in Rancho Navarro along with a representative from the manufacturer and, "You could barely hear it," said Avila, adding that “if someone had a game on or was inebriated or the wind was blowing it probably wouldn't wake anyone up.” A little farther away, nobody could hear it at all. Avila estimated that it would take five or six sirens just to cover Rancho Navarro, a prohibitively expensive prospect. "It's not what we thought it would be,” said Avila, “and unless they can come up with an improved model we recommend withdrawal from the program." Representatives from Yorkville who had initially supported the idea and were willing to put up a quarter of the cost for their local match, also agreed to withdraw. Wednesday night, the CSD board voted unanimously to withdraw.
The US Forest Service announced recently that they no longer plan to reimburse local fire agencies for volunteers who go on strike teams to fight fires on federal land. At the moment, the Anderson Valley Fire Department is still waiting to be reimbursed for their response to last year’s "Delta fire" on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest up north. The (Trump?) Forest Service seems tone deaf to the likelihood that volunteer fire departments and volunteer firefighters are unlikely to respond to faraway forest fires for free. Fire Chief Avila is working with the California Office of Emergency Services about being reimbursed for last year's response which was provided on the promise that the volunteers would be paid while on duty. Surely they can’t renege on that, can they?
The AV Fire Department has conducted three presentations entitled "Living with Wildfire in the Navarro watershed," this month. Turnout has been pretty good. Topics covered include fire behavior, home hardening, property management, egress, notification, and how to organize a neighborhood. The fire department is planning to follow up with mapping support, site visits and quarterly meetings at the firehouse to track progress and provide updates. We hope to have a report on the presentation(s) from the organizers in the next week or two.
The AV fire department has a new "online tent permit application" process with which tent rental agencies can plan and arrange for larger local events. The primary tent rental companies in the area can apply for tent permits during which a variety of standard and routine traffic and safety factors are considered and planned for. The typical $98 permit fee is covered as part of the tent rental company’s rental charge to the event organizer — the first of which, for the upcoming Pinot Festival at Camp Navarro, has already been completed.
by Ken Hurst
My wife and I were back at Evans Stadium in Cal Berkeley on Mother’s Day, April 12, mainly to watch Cal first baseman Andrew Vaughn, grandson of Erbie and Knolee Vaughn and the grandson of Shine and Beth Tuttle, and sister of Linda Tuttle. Andrew called the late Ronnie Vaughn "Pops," instead of Grandfather. Ronnie was my best friend as kids growing up in Anderson Valley. In addition, we were always in contact until Ronnie Vaughn died followed three months later by his wife Doris. So Andrew is a shining jewel of memory as Ronnie and Doris’s boy.
We arrived in Berkeley around 10:30 AM. We walked through the park to a nice vegan Cafe where I had an omelet of eggs, tomatoes and avocados. I don't know the name of what my wife had but we loved the food and coffee.
We then headed up to the park and the game: Cal Bears versus Stanford Cardinals. Stanford won 5-2 over Cal. Andrew Vaughn hit a two run line drive home run with a man on first base in the eighth inning for Cal’s only two runs. Cal, 14-10 overall, is now in fourth place in the team standings with Stanford holding down second place in the PAC 12 Conference. Oregon is in first place.
Andrew Vaughn is a 6 foot / 200 pound first baseman for the Cal Bears. He’s all chest, shoulders and thighs in his uniform and is baseball fast with quick reflexes. He is such a good hitter that he is generally not pitched to when he comes up to bat. He is walked most of the time and hit by pitchers often. He stole second base twice and third base once in this latest game.
He won the Golden Spike award for best amateur player in the United States last year and he is not out of the running for the Golden Spike award this year. But he’s not the favorite to win this year because the opposition walks him when first base is open.
His batting average is still a whopping .373. He has 14 homers and an incredible on-base percentage of .990. This last number is what gives him a chance at his second Golden Spike award. It would be the first time in history that anyone has won the golden spike toward more than once.
Lately, Andrew's name shortened down by the crowd with chants of "Drew, Drew, Drew!" when he comes to bat. The last time I saw him play a month ago the crowd chanted, "Andrew, Andrew, Andrew."
Andrew never changes expression whatever they chant. He is a good athlete with good coordination and quick reflexes. He loves baseball. He is a star. Every eye is on him when he plays. His world is his team and his own baseball form. When he is in the on deck circle he always lifts his forward foot to get momentum then puts his foot down and continues his forward motion with practice swings to gain timing before actually coming to the plate.
This kid has the game to play major league baseball. He has the skill and attitude to play in the Bigs. I would move him to third base to make use of his great quickness and his strong arm.
THE 10th gray whale since March has washed up dead in the San Francisco Bay, unprecedentedly heavy May rains in California, a Russian town above the Arctic Circle logs an also unprecedented 85-degree day, and an expanded war in the Middle East looms with Trump, of all people, urging caution. Disasters large and small seem to account for the widespread feeling that multiples of black swans are on the wing.
A FRISCO police diver said something I've never forgotten, "If you could see what we see down there you wouldn't eat anything that comes out of the Bay. West of Alcatraz the water cleans up, but otherwise…."
SOME of the arguments today before County Planning against cell towers were downright hilarious. An Albion woman declared, “We are already being fried from space, and now we are being fried from these towers.” Boonville has had a cell tower for many years not quite a mile from the center of town with never a single death ray penetrating our tin foil precautions.
ANOTHER TOWER was applied for by Jan Wasson Smith on their Wasson vineyard just north of Boonville, this one about 120 conspicuous feet tall just off Highway 128 at Peachland Road.
CELL TOWER UPDATE:
The County Planning Commission approved all cell towers Thursday, with the exception of the one in Potter Valley. The Potter Valley project had 7-8 residents in close visual proximity (within 500% of tower height). None of these residents gave written approval for variance, and several were present to comment in opposition.
ATT Plans for Cell Tower in Comptche CASE#: U_2018-0007
Plans for Cell Tower on Navarro Ridge, Albion CASE#: U_2017-0034
Plans for Cell Tower in Boonville CASE#: U_2018-0008
Plans for Cell Tower in Potter Valley CASE#: U_2017-0038
Plans for Cell Tower in Manchester CASE # U_2017-0036
WE'D PREDICTED that the Ukiah Costco would draw such huge crowds that traffic would back up on Highway 101. Wrong. Planning has kept traffic moving along Big Box Boulevard, culminating in the biggest box of all, Costco. Although the mammoth store has produced sales of such a volume that it has represented a sales tax bonanza for Ukiah which, depending on your perspective, is a good or bad thing, so far the Ukiah Valley's pre-Costco super markets don't seem to have been negatively affected.
GREATER sales tax revenues have already been generated by CostCo for Ukiah's radically overpaid and ever larger administrative apparatus seems from here mostly unfortunate given the apparent condition of the town's untended roads, to name only one civic deficit suffered by the Mendocino County seat. CostCo's managers, incidentally, make an average of $106,000 a year, an entry-level worker an average of $15 an hour, if he or she can pass drug screening, rumored to exclude many local applicants.
THE DEAD FATHER
by Bruce McEwen’s
The judgment and sentencing of Jewel E. Dyer began last Wednesday, May 15th and will continue this Wednesday, May 23rd. Mr. Dyer has pled guilty to voluntary patricide, to killing his “biological” (Mr. Dyer’s clarification in a Letter to the Editor) father, Sanford Sternick, 58, with a baseball bat on March 28th, 2016.
What do we think about fathers? Here is what Rousseau says:
“The oldest of all societies, and the only natural one, is that of the family, yet children remain tied to their father by nature only as long as they need him for their preservation.”
If that is too fusty a reference, keep in mind that the courts have a perverse way of maintaining an antediluvian pretense that American mores haven’t changed since Earl Stanley Gardner was writing his Perry Mason episodes back in the black-and-white television days. I say “perversely” because everyone is acutely aware here in Mendocino County that even the more modern Southern-color courtroom dramas on TV like Matlock are laughably old-hat by local standards of what’s hip; and what the courts so studiously avoid is the ubiquitous postmodern presumption that the father-figure is passé, kaput, out of fashion, a relic of the past. The women who run the courts (there’s only two male judges left) are especially careful not to let the illusion slip away that there’s something to resist – a male effigy, as it were, a glass ceiling, an overbearing patriarchy still stolidly in place.
But that’s all a well-rehearsed farce and Mr. Dyer, an old hand at soliciting sympathy from women, as we shall see anon, knows it perfectly well. He’s not crazy – despite what the psych docs say to the contrary (one doc diagnosed Dyer with “malingering,” adding that there was currently no medication available that would alleviate the symptoms, to which we might safely interject that this is one malady that the miracle drug cannabis would only exacerbate)– and he’s certainly not stupid – just take a look at his Letters to the Editor in the AVA archive; and he most decidedly appears to fully appreciate that fathers are, deservedly in many cases, out of vogue; so contemptuously so, in fact, that he actually thinks he can get away with murdering one or more of them (I’m well aware that I’m next on his bucket list) in Mendocino County.
Incidentally, the title of this story is borrowed from the postmodern novel by Donald Barthleme, about dragging a gigantic Dead Father to his burial place across a surreal landscape, and passing along the way, through an indigenous people, the Wends, who have done away with deplorable fatherhood, by having the adorable sons impregnate their mothers… but I fear I digress into profanity.
When Mr. Dyer killed his father he had only been living with the “old retard” (again, Dyer’s words) for about a month. Dyer’s brother, Clayton Sternick was living there also, ostensibly “caring for their father,” who had been in a motorcycle wreck and was disabled, walked with a shuffling gait (like the dead father in Barthleme’s novel, coincidentally enough!) and had a metal plate in his head. And here I would like to raise another point the courts refuse to acknowledge: These young men – Dyer was 25 at the time – were getting paid by the county to take care of the old man, through In Home Supportive Services, and yet one of the reasons Dyer gave for killing his father was he (Dyer) didn’t approve of the cooking and had become infuriated by a hair found in the food served to him (again, Dyer) by his father.
So: Who was taking care of whom? This takes us back to Rousseau’s dictum that if the father is not proving useful, he may be done away with. The courts won’t mention the abuses of the IHSS, nor yet the very obvious (none of them having any visible means of support, except Sternick’s disability check) explanation that they were growing weed on the old man’s property – even though Dyer had been busted on a grow previously in Covelo.
So if none of this highly relevant material came out in court, then what did?
Not much, actually. Mainly, it turned into an argument between Deputy DA Scott McMenomey and Public Defender Jeffrey Aaron as to whether Dyer had shown a proper amount of remorse.
The probation pre-sentencing report and recommendations were underway when Jewel Dyer sent his latest missive to the AVA and it (the letter) wasn’t exactly the epitome of contrition and remorse. And Probation noted that even when directly asked, Mr. Dyer showed no remorse. And this is what stalled the sentencing on Wednesday – Mr. Aaron said there was remorse indicated in the transcripts of the police interviews with his client, and that Judge Ann Moorman should take a week to read those transcripts before finishing the sentencing. This was agreed to and May 23rd was set for the proceeding to continue.
In the meantime, the defense was built on the hope that probation would be the appropriate sentence since it was Dyer’s claim that the dead father had abused him physically, mentally, and sexually. Prosecution said that there was absolutely no basis in evidence for any of these accusations, and even the neighbor woman who called Mr. Sternick “an asshole” (“all men are assholes,” is a common refrain in Mendoland) admitted that she’d never once seen Sternick abuse Dyer physically, mentally or sexually.
But here again, the clever Mr. Dyer knows something the officers of the court cannot or will not utter either on or off the record: About 10 years ago there was another killing of a father figure for alleged sexual abuse – this one went national, bringing in Oprah Winfrey and Good Morning America when Aaron Vargas shot and killed Darrell McNeil in Fort Bragg. Vargas plead to voluntary manslaughter and got nine years for the killing and is no doubt a free man today. It is unlikely that Dyer will get more time than that; and he may – if his lawyer is successful – get off on probation with credit for time served.
Stay tuned for updates.
IN YEARS PAST, the County managed to waste less than $100k a year on outside contract negotiators, typically former HR staffers from around Norcal or former union reps turned management lackies, to handle negotiations with their eight “bargaining units” (two of which are oxymorons: the “managers bargaining unit” and the “department heads” bargaining unit”). Nowadays they’ve figured out a way to waste a lot more by hiring Big City lawyers to bleed Mendo’s line employees and hammer them into minimum raises (and, this year because they’ve already wasted hundreds of thousands on themselves, they need professional legalistic hard-liners to balance the budget on the backs of the employees).
From the 5/21/19 Board meeting Agenda:
Item 5a) Discussion and Possible Action Including Approval of Amendment to Board of Supervisors Agreement Number 18-074 with Liebert Cassidy Whitmore in the Amount of $150,000, for a Revised Agreement Total of $300,000, and Extending Termination Date to June 30, 2019, to Continue to Provide Contract Negotiations and Employer-Employee Relations Services and Various Legal Representation, Effective When Agreement Becomes Fully Executed Through June 30, 2020 (Sponsor: Human Resources) Recommended Action: Approve amendment to Board of Supervisors Agreement Number 18-074 with Liebert Cassidy Whitmore in the Amount of $150,000, for a revised Agreement total of $300,000, and extending the termination date to June 30, 2019, to continue to provide contract negotiations and employer-employee relations services and various legal representation as needed, effective when Agreement becomes fully executed through June 30, 2020; and authorize Chair to sign same.
FROM THE LIEBERT-CASSIDY-WHITMORE website: “Our philosophy is not one of ‘union-busting,’ but rather a professional approach that seeks to achieve and maintain respectful, professional relationships between the employer, employee organization, and employees, notwithstanding the sometimes adversarial aspects of the process. We work with our clients to balance competitive wage and benefit adjustments with client resource limitations and management discretion to set standards of service.”
TRANSLATION: We don’t do anything illegal, of course, but if management is strapped for cash (like Mendo now is), we’ll do everything we can to hold the line with employees who probably won’t like it. It’ll cost you some big bucks, sure, but we’ll try to squeeze your employees enough to cover our ‘professional’ costs.”
LIEBERT-CASSIDY-WHITMORE’S point-lawyer for labor negotiations is Kelly Tuffo. As of 2014 Liebert-Cassidy-Whitmore was billing customers $225 per hour for Ms. Tuffo. By now that’s probably up to at least $300 per hour.
NEVER MIND that Mendo already pays its HR Director big bucks. You’d think that her office could do their own “bargaining” since Mendo, as the CEO often says, “doesn’t have the money.”
IN 2015 Sonoma County resident Karen McClure wrote in a letter to the editor of the Sonoma Index Tribune: “Sonoma County has also hired overpriced attorney Kelly Tuffo to ‘negotiate,’ but there has been no real authority given to her. Ms. Tuffo has apparently never brokered an agreement between a County and employees. And why should she? With every delay, Ms. Tuffo makes more money. This is taxpayer money and it’s appalling it’s not in the newspapers! Why should taxpayers have to pay for a hired gun? Let Ms. Ferguson [SoCo HR Director] negotiate herself or have someone else internal do it, as do most other Counties. It’s not right or fair that the Supervisors can hire a professional to go up against rank and file workers to negotiate, while they are still expected to do their regular jobs. I would like to see this issue made more public and see some investigative journalism in this matter.”
HOW MANY SUPERVISORS do you think will question this wasteful arrangement on Tuesday?
GET READY for another Boonville Farmers' Market this Friday! Come enjoy live music and a cold bottle of locally brewed kombucha from Wilder Ferments! They have a hops variety that's really, really good :) Cinnamon Bear Farm will be there too with fresh produce, The Forest People will have oyster mushrooms, Inland Ranch have lamb and pork and eggs and veggies, The Emerald Kitchen had fresh baked bread and treats (and they use organic flour!). If all that is not enough we have a new vendor serving horchata and agua fresca, plus fresh cut fruit cups- oh man so refreshing! Hope to see you this Friday from 4-7 in the Disco Ranch Parking lot: 14025 HWY 128, Boonville.
Find us on instagram: boonville_farmers_market
Bucket Ranch Strawberries
Bucket Ranch strawberries are coming on strong and sweet on the valley floor in Boonville! We are picking about 40-80 flats per week. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to buy any number of overstuffed flats (12 pint baskets per flat) for $30. Mendocino Renegade Certified.
CATCH OF THE DAY, MAY 16, 2019
RICARDO ARENAS, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
MATTHEW BRITTON, Covelo. Failure to appear.
SALVADOR CASILLAS-VITAL, Calpella. DUI, renting vehicle to person with interlock requirement, probation revocation.
THOMAS GALINDO, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
JOSUE GUITERREZ, Truckee/Fort Bragg. Fugitive from justice.
JUSTIN HIETALA, Blue Lake/Ukiah. Stolen property, probation revocation.
CALVIN LAPORTE-ANDERSON, San Francisco/Ukiah. Probation revocation.
APRIL LEWIS, Willits. Failure to appear.
TATE MADSON, Sweet Home, Oregon/Ukiah. Failure to appear, offenses while on bail.
DAVID PASHIA, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
MEGAN VANHORN, Fort Bragg. Failure to appear.
WHY IS EVERYONE RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT? IT’S A BILLION-DOLLAR INDUSTRY.
“Years later he would say that when he’d decided to become a professional baseball player, it was the only time he’d done something just for the money, and that he’d never do something just for the money ever again.” —Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game
Because this is the future, running for president of the United States is now a fantastic way to rake in the bucks, whether or not you’ve got that name recognition thing going for you. If you don’t, whatever, CNN and MSNBC need to fill all 24 hours with programming because Andy Warhol was right. If you hold an elected office — or have lots of money already — and declare your candidacy, fear not: Wolf Blitzer’s hair will be calling you for an interview before the echo fades.
Montana’s conservative Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock just announced his entry into the 2020 presidential race. He is the 22nd Democrat (yes, including Bernie) to do so with more than a month to go before the first debates, nine months to go before the Iowa caucus, and 77 weeks to go before the general election, which means there is plenty of time for more doomed challengers to jump in. Outside of Helena and Butte, the national reaction to Bullock’s candidacy was two words: “Who?” followed almost immediately by “Why?!”
The second question is fairly asked. If Bullock should stumble on his path to glory, the Democratic Party’s center-right contingent will still be championed by (in alphabetical order) Sen. Michael Bennet (Colorado), former Senator and Vice President Joe Biden (Delaware), Mayor Pete Buttigieg (Indiana), former Rep. John Delaney (Maryland), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (New York), former Gov. John Hickenlooper (Colorado), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota), Rep. Seth Moulton (Massachusetts), former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (Texas), and Rep. Tim Ryan (Ohio).
That is 10 stalwart banner carriers for the “centrist” vision of whatever it is they see when they look in a mirror, all crowded together in a clump of half-loaf mediocrity, trying to distinguish themselves from the pack without (gasp) leaning too far to the left. Remember the phonebooth stuffing fad from the 1950s? Like that, but just so much worse.
So why, indeed? I suppose I could argue that they are all in it for high and noble purposes, to lead the nation out of the swamp of Trumpian mayhem and into a bright future where the ocean is not rising and Republicans play nice every day and twice on Sunday … and then I remember that they are all national politicians, and the only way to look at them, according to H.L. Mencken, is down.
A handful of them, I am sure, have the best intentions girding their candidacy. If you think they’re all in it for love of country or Constitution, however, you just might be a damn fool with a bunch of cheaply bought bridges in your portfolio. At minimum, you’re wrong; running for president is big business now, in more ways than one. Winning often isn’t the point, and a whole bunch of these people are looking for a piece of the action up where the air is rare.
Rep. Moulton is a fair example. I’m pretty sure he wants to be governor of Massachusetts someday, but he’s going to have to wait a while. Charlie Baker, the Republican currently holding that office, is the most popular governor in the country. As of January, Gov. Baker’s approval rating stands at a mind-bending 72 percent.
Rep. Moulton will have to maintain a holding pattern until Baker quits or disgraces himself, so he may as well run a quixotic campaign for president and raise his profile back home. It’s as good a way as any to kill two years, and besides, candidates get to keep the money they raise and bank it for future campaigns. Politicians and pro athletes: The only people who still get paid when they lose.
Even if (when) Moulton gets beaten like John Bonham’s drum set, it’s all upside for him if he plays his cards right. Depending on who eventually gets the nomination, there’s always the possibility of a cabinet position. Moulton is a former Marine officer who served four tours in Iraq and fancies himself a foreign policy expert. Secretary of State is a reach, but I don’t think he’d turn down the view from the big desk at Veterans Affairs.
There is also, of course, former Vice President Biden, avatar for the process of failing upward. Biden’s first presidential campaign in 1988 lasted a whopping 106 days and ended in a hailstorm of shame; he held on to his Senate gig afterward because the banking industry in Delaware dug a financial moat around his office in payment for his loyal years of service to them.
Biden ran for president again in 2008, polled in the single digits each and every day, and quickly bowed out after Iowa. Yet he caught the eye of rising political superstar Barack Obama, landed the VP gig, and now he’s running again. In point of fact, he’s the front-runner who is getting all sorts of unsolicited help from the man he seeks to supplant. Biden also believes the Republicans will change once Trump is gone, so parsing his reasons for running this time is probably an empty exercise.
The “Why so many?” question has the wheels spinning within the minds of some of my less-trusting compatriots, many of whom, for full disclosure, also happen to be supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont). They strongly suspect the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the Death Star of “centrist” Democratic Party ambition, is so deeply freaked out by the popularity of Sen. Sanders — and, to some extent, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts — that they have deployed an old-school tactic to thwart him known as the “Favorite Son Strategy.”
This ploy involves getting high-profile politicians from big-delegate states to run for the same office, usually in order to deny a different candidate an avenue to victory. On spec, my nervous compatriots have a case: Sen. Kamala Harris is running out of California, Senator Bennet out of Colorado, Senator Gillibrand out of New York (with New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio also contemplating a run), Senator Booker out of New Jersey, and former Rep. O’Rourke out of Texas.
If Sanders wins those primaries, he has a good shot at the nomination. If he loses them, he’s all but done. Having so many “Favorite Son/Daughter” candidates definitely harms his chances. The DNC screwed him once before, and the practice itself is hardly without precedent.
“Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan called today on Governor Cuomo of New York and Senator Bill Bradley of New Jersey to run as favorite-son candidates for President as a way to keep the 1988 Democratic Presidential race open until the party’s convention in Atlanta,” reported E.J. Dionne for The New York Times in October of 1987. “Mr. Moynihan’s comments reflected a widespread worry among party leaders about the Democrats’ chances in 1988 after the withdrawals from the Presidential contest of former Senator Gary Hart and Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr.”
History cracks me up.
However, at the end of the day and with apologies to my friends, I have trouble crediting the DNC with the strategic wits to pull this off. This is the organization, remember, that could not figure out how to defeat the worst presidential candidate in the history of the known universe just two and a half years ago. How am I supposed to believe that, in such a short span of time, they have summoned the requisite candlepower needed to run a multipronged, multistate, multimillion-dollar campaign to matchstick the tires on Bernie’s campaign bus, and got a bunch of big-time ego-tripping national politicians to go along with it?
“Farfetched” is the word I’m groping for — although this is, after all, the era of “So That Happened,” when the ocean is coming, the moon is shrinking, the planet is running out of helium, and Donald Trump is the president of these United States. Even “farfetched” concepts like the “Favorite Son” theory may be worth considering, because stranger things have happened, like, yesterday. Fiction has been murdered by irony, and both were run over by the truth.
Still, when it comes to this wildly overcrowded field of Democratic presidential hopefuls, I believe Occam’s Razor holds ultimate sway. If the simplest explanation is usually the correct one, we should look to the simplest and most commonplace explanation of all: Money.
Running for president has become an industry of its own, and a multibillion dollar one at that. “Across America, the business of politics now channels up to $10 billion a year,” report Dave Helling and Scott Canon for the Kansas City Star, “much of it pocketed by the pros who conduct the polls, craft the ads, buy the airtime, spin the news releases.”
The kind of bottomless spending orgy that typifies modern campaigning makes its own gravy, and is one hell of an incentive for political consultants who have the ear of high-profile politicians: Listen to me, Senator Frackeverything, I know there are 94 other candidates already running, but you can win! I just need $10 million for the ad buy to get you started. Trust me, this will be great! What big-ego politician doesn’t want to hear that? Plus, as stated, the candidates get to keep what they raise for use in future campaigns.
…and we’re off to the races, or in this case, the race. Raise your profile, maybe land a cabinet post, bank some cash for upcoming political endeavors, help the consultants who got you where you are take in a slice of the pie, and perhaps even do the right thing by accident. In other words, for a bunch of these presidential hopefuls, the 2020 race is just business.
(William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn’t Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America’s Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co-written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire. Courtesy, Truthout.org.)
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
I am just sick with worry. Where am I going to get this year’s Xmas decorations if China cuts us off? I don’t think I can bear the season without the neighborhood decorations contest. I mean my values are at stake here. I don’t give a damn if China is persecuting Christians, Uyghurs, citizens via social credit torture, reeducation camps. I just want my damn lights and blowup characters to make the holiday a little brighter. I’m an American dammit and I want my shit. I can overlook formica in baby formula and pet food that kills little Poopsie, but I have to have the lights and other stuff. I tell ya we have a crisis on our hands. I can only hope that some startup will start making the Xmas shit here. Maybe in Mississippi in some shit hole town. I can see it now, Americans making stuff right here at $15 an hour. I see a new beginning for the nation. I’m close to weeping over the very idea.
QUICK, UNRELATED STUFF
Here’s a puzzle I can’t do. Washington and Jefferson wanted NO POLITICAL PARTIES in the new U.S. They dreaded factionalism, with good cause, slavery and the Civil War are just two of many. The intolerance and dysfunction of today’s politics is killing us. I suppress hate for people I love because of their (to me) unacceptable political, social and economic views. I’m not doing very well at it. None of us are, and we’re headed for perdition, fast. Here’s the puzzle: Why is this? The temperature of our disagreements is way higher than our genuine interest in the things we fight about. Makes no sense. If we can’t find a way to bank down, even if just a little, this blazing enmity, our collective head will explode (IS exploding!). Please, somebody, light a candle for me.
NEXT (unrelated): The endless prez campaign is exceedingly painful for me. I’d prefer to use my time otherwise, but with Doom in the mix, I can’t take my eyes away. I’m trending toward Elizabeth Warren. Bernie is closer to my heart’s desire—socialism, unions, redistribution of wealth—all that, but I don’t feel he would get the passionate affection she would. Any executive’s function is a combination of their leadership decisions and their support. He’d be bucking resistance FROM EVERY QUARTER, while she’d bask in the love of at least many. To many of us (including me; she’s too establishment, too institutional, too unrevolutionary, but she’s damn good) will give her frantic support.
NEXT: Ed Snowden, Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning are national and international heroes, sacrificing their lives, martyring themselves for things they consider bigger than themselves. All governments hate truth-tellers and whistleblowers, so our government and most of our media tell us what villains they are. (Obama was especially enraged by leakers. He jailed 'em.)
They said the same about the Fathers Daniel and Philip Berrigan, a generation ago, branded traitors and locked up for resisting the Vietnam War. Daniel Ellsberg ditto. He gave the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times so we could know what our country was doing in Southeast Asia. He faced 115 years in prison until he got a reasonable judge. Now, 88, he is a decorated, honored citizen (but there are still those who would hang him).
It’s not important that Assange could benefit from some personality adjustments, that Snowden is not charismatic, Manning now a woman. Forget that stuff. These people are in different states of exile and hell because they believe in their sick country and want it better.
NEXT: LOOK AT A MAP OF IRAN. It’s YUGE (as Bernie would say) huge and largely empty, a mountainous, virtually lifeless thing of desolation. In different climate periods it was more inviting, and in those times, it was home to the most prominent and successful kingdoms and cultures in human history. Now it’s a bottomless pit, calling to the likes of John Bolton, who loves things like pits and belongs in one, calling him to send a bunch of soldiers and a few trillions of dollars to vanish there.
Likewise Venezuela. Just another shithole country with brown people, right? WRONG! Venezuela is oil-rich, corrupt, screwed up, vast and a total mess. They impeached the president in ’93 and two men claim the presidency right now. It’s hot as hell. It’s in the throes of everything awful. It’s a prime place to stay away from, so, naturally, we have “leaders” who want to barge in and break everything that’s not already broken.
Underneath this text is a picture painted on the wall of a cave in what is now Iran TEN THOUSAND YEARS AGO.
BASIC CARPENTRY WORKSHOP
Presented by Noyo Food Forest and School of Adaptive Agriculture
SATURDAY, June 22 1-3pm
The Basic Carpentry workshop is for people who want to start working with the amazing material: wood. This hands-on class will show you how to use the properties of different woods for strength and function. We will be: hammering nails, sawing, screwing, drilling - building a box together!
Instructor: Takashi Yogi
Takashi is a retired medical electronics engineer who is an instructor at the School of Adaptive Agriculture, where he has taught carpentry, electricity, plumbing and engine classes for five years. He has build several building on the SAA site, including a student kitchen and shower, octagon dining shelter, cabins, and a straw bale cooler. He also is in charge of repairs and has over 60 years of experience fixing everything from clocks to cars to computers.
Where: The Learning Garden at Noyo Food Forest, 300A Dana Street, Fort Bragg CA
Cost: Free to attend, donations welcome and appreciated!
RSVP: Please RSVP by phone 707-357-7680 or email Sara@NoyoFoodForest.org
TRUMP WANTS TO OPEN PUBLIC LANDS TO OIL DRILLING IN CALIFORNIA
by Dan Bacher
Governor Jerry Brown expanded oil and gas drilling in California during his last two terms as governor, approving 21,000 new oil and gas drilling permits. Now the Trump administration wants to expand oil and gas drilling on federal lands in California.
On May 9, the Trump administration finalized a controversial plan, entitled “The Proposed Resource Management Plan Amendment and Final Environmental Impact Statement for Oil and Gas Leasing and Development,” to open 725,500 acres of public lands and mineral estate across California’s Central Coast and the Bay Area to new oil and gas drilling.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has selected “Alternative F” as its preferred alternative. This plan would increase by 327,000 acres the acreage in the draft proposal prepared under the Obama administration.
The public lands selected for leasing are found in the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Fresno, Merced, Monterey, San Benito, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Stanislaus.
“Alternative F was selected as the Preferred Alternative based on the Administration’s goal of strengthening energy independence and the BLM support of an all-of-the-above energy plan that includes oil and gas underlying America’s public lands,” according to the plan abstract.
“Under Alternative F [BLM’s Preferred Alternative], Federal mineral estate would be open to leasing; however; NSO (No Surface Occupancy) stipulations would apply to some lands open to leasing, including: (1) Joaquin Rocks ACEC; (2) ACECs within Ciervo-Panoche Natural Area; and (3) giant kangaroo rat core population areas. Under all alternatives, areas closed under the 2007 RMP would remain closed (Wilderness, Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs), Clear Creek Serpentine Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC), and Fort Ord National Monument).”
Environmental groups condemned the plan for further expanding fracking and other oil drilling in a state already suffering the devastating health and environmental impacts of increased oil and gas drilling under the Jerry Brown administration.
“Trump’s new plan aims to stab oil derricks and fracking rigs into some of California’s most beautiful landscapes,” said Clare Lakewood, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “From Monterey to the Bay Area, the president wants to let oil companies drill and spill their way across our beloved public lands and wildlife habitat. As we fight climate chaos, there’s no justification for any new drilling and fracking, let alone this outrageous assault on our pristine wild places.”
Lakewood noted that the move comes just weeks after the Trump administration released its draft plan to reopen more than a million acres of public land and federal mineral estate in the Central California region, including Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare and Ventura counties, to fossil fuel extraction. Together the plans target a total of 1,736,970 acres across 19 California counties.
“The plans would end a five-year-old moratorium on leasing federal public land and mineral estate in the state to oil companies. The BLM has not held a single lease sale in California since 2013, when a judge ruled that the agency violated the law when it issued oil leases in Monterey and Fresno Counties without considering the risks of fracking. The ruling responded to a suit brought by the Center and the Sierra Club challenging a BLM decision to auction off about 2,500 acres of land in those counties to oil companies,” said Lakewood.
The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), headed by President Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative to create so-called “marine protected areas” in Southern California, lauded the the BLM resource management plan.
WSPA spokesperson Kara Greene told the Natural Gas Intelligencer that the action “reaffirmed that hydraulic fracturing is a safe method of production in California.” She also said WSPA wants to be “part of the discussions to ensure we continue to safely produce affordable, reliable energy.”
However, opponents of the plan describe fracking as “an extreme oil-extraction process that blasts toxic chemicals mixed with water underground to crack rocks.” According to the BLM, about 90 percent of new oil and gas wells on public lands are fracked.
They also point to a 2015 report from the California Council on Science and Technology concluding that fracking in California happens at unusually shallow depths, dangerously close to underground drinking water supplies, with unusually high concentrations of toxic chemicals.
The BLM’s regulations provide a 60-day window for Gov. Gavin Newsom to review the plan for any inconsistencies with state and local plans and policies and provide recommendations. If the BLM rejects such recommendations, the governor can appeal that determination.
However, environmental groups and others may challenge the plan and file a lawsuit if the protest is denied.
“In California and across the country, the Trump administration is putting our communities and our climate at risk as they prioritize fossil fuel industry profits over the health and safety of our families,” said Monica Embrey, a Sierra Club senior campaign representative. “We will use every tool at our disposal to push back against this reckless proposal and protect our public lands from fracking.”
Under Trump, Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 was a record year for onshore oil and gas revenues on public lands due in large part to “more streamlined permitting timelines and abundant acreage for lease” as was revealed in statistics released by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on May 1, according to a press release from the Department of Interior.
“In FY 2018, the U.S. hit all-time highs for federal oil production on federal land, 214,144,945 barrels produced onshore, with the smallest footprint of acreage under lease (25,552,475 acres) since BLM started collecting comparable data in FY 1985 (120,686,611 acres),” according to Interior.
“Demonstrating the marvel of technology and innovation, our production numbers are unprecedented, even though we have the fewest acres under lease in almost four decades,” claimed U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, a former oil industry and Westlands Water District lobbyist. “President Trump has ensured that America’s great energy renaissance includes federal lands while delivering high paying jobs and low cost fuel.”
If not stopped, this expansion of oil and gas drilling on federal public lands in California, after a record year of oil production in the US, would come on top of the expansion of oil and gas drilling already initiated in California under Governor Jerry Brown.
For decades, California has been often portrayed as the nation’s “green leader.” This myth has been promulgated by the Governor’s Office, state leaders, regulatory agencies, compliant media and most importantly, by the powerful oil industry itself. In reality, Brown expanded both onshore and offshore drilling in California during his third and fourth terms as Governor.
A review of state permitting records in the report “The Sky’s The Limit: California,” shows that more than 21,000 drilling permits were issued during the Brown administration. These wells include over 200 new offshore wells approved between 2012 and 2016, according to Department of Conservation data analyzed by the Fractracker Alliance.
In addition, the CA Governor currently controls 4 times as many offshore wells as Trump. Brown last year called Trump’s plan to expand federal offshore oil drilling leases “short-sighted and reckless. However, a website – www.BrownvTrumpOilMap.com — shows Brown controls four times more oil wells in state waters than those Trump controls in federal waters, according to Consumer Watchdog.
Offshore wells in state waters controlled by the Brown Administration total 5460, versus 1429 offshore wells in federal waters controlled by the Trump administration. Federal waters are those three nautical miles or more off California’s coast.
Environmental justice, conservation and public interest groups responded positively to a key sentence in the “May Revision” of Governor Gavin Newsom’s California state budget regarding transitioning the state from fossil fuels.
“The May Revision also recognizes the need for careful study and planning to decrease demand and supply of fossil fuels, while managing the decline in a way that is economically responsible and sustainable,” the sentence states.
“The fossil fuel-based economy has come at the grave cost of the health and safety of communities next to oil and gas operations, and we appreciate Governor Newsom’s important first steps toward a fossil fuel phaseout in California,” said Gladys Limón, Executive Director of the California Environmental Justice Alliance. “We hope the Governor will prioritize relieving frontline communities of the unconscionable burdens they currently face by instituting a commonsense health and safety buffer, and continue to invest in transitioning impacted workers into high-wage jobs to ensure they can thrive in the new energy economy.”
Newsom has taken no specific actions to date regarding reversing the expansion of oil and gas drilling in California, although he did take a “No Oil Money” pledge at the beginning of his campaign for Governor.
(Dan Bacher is an environmental journalist in Sacramento. He can be reached at: Dan Bacher email@example.com.)