- Third Storm
- Coastal Images
- Cell Towers
- Film Showing
- Four Kittens
- Pin Code
- Ed Notes
- Special Interests
- Rather Die
- Public Records
- Pesticide Use
- Promises Broken
- Rainy Night
- Spiffy Porter
- Police Raid
- Yesterday's Catch
- Toxic Corporatists
- By Design
- Bart Smart
- Fooling Yourself
- Well-Armed Militia
- Abortion Legislation
- Deadbeat Dad
- Working Class
- Circa 1919
- Murder Bros
- Scary Evangelist
- Dying Now
- Boonville Puffaroo
THESE MID-MAY RAINSTORMS have been surprisingly wet. Over the past five days Yorkville received 5.9 inches and Boonville 4.8 inches. Respective totals (since October) are 70.3 inches (Yorkville) and 52.5 inches (Boonville). A third storm is expected Monday evening.
ACCORDING TO the National Weather Service: "As low pressure departs to our south, showers will quickly taper off, and drier weather conditions can be expected tonight and much of Monday. Another storm system will produce widespread showers and blustery winds Monday evening through Tuesday, followed by generally drier weather and warming inland temperatures mid to late week."
COASTAL IMAGES by Dick Whetstone
GOING TO SEE THE PLANNERS
by Katy Tahja
While not falling into the “Lost Cause” category, attending a County Planning Commission meeting when you KNOW your side is going to lose, eats up a day and leaves you disappointed. I have nothing but respect for the commissioners who sit through day after day of pleading and cajoling over whose side is right.
Word had been buzzing for a while that AT&T wanted to put a cell phone tower up on a ridge in Comptche. Rather than NIMBY (not in my back yard) it was YIMBY (yes in my back yard) as the community thought finally our volunteer fire department and new disaster shelter would have something other than a landline for emergency communication.
No map was shared with the community showing coverage until AT&T and their subsidiary, Epic, had to publish one in the two weeks before the Planning Commission meeting for public comment purposes. There was a claim that 200 people would now get Wi-Fi and cell phone service. Fine and dandy. But guess what? No service in the valleys, no service to the fire department, disaster shelter, school, store… So who are they serving?
The proposed site is east of town on Mendocino Redwood Company land on a low ridge surrounded by higher ridges and will require a new, 7,000-foot road. Homeowners on nearby ridgetops already get a cell phone signal from the Mathiseon Peak cell tower about halfway to Mendocino on Comptche-Ukiah Road. They inspected other potential sites for the Comptche tower but of course exactly where is secret information not to be shared. These companies claim they reach 200 people, but guess what? These people are already served!
So a half dozen Comptche folks trekked over the hill to Ukiah on May 16th to tell the Planning Commission that the tower placed where it is proposed will be next to useless and the community does not want AT&T claiming, “They have met the needs of the underserved with this tower…”
Nope. They have not. This is just a start.
There were five or six cell tower sites up for different areas of the county.
The Commissioners started the discussion by saying that the state believes cell phones do not damage human health and they don’t want to discuss beliefs that they do.
Good Luck commissioners, this is Mendocino County.
A well-spoken member of the Albion Nation stood up for each proposed tower proposal stating very clearly her belief that cell tower emissions are bad. She was allowed her three minutes to state her opinion and she did it very well. Other people who spoke were addressing the issues raised in the permit applications.
You learn new things at these meetings. I didn’t know cell phone towers have set backs from property lines so if they blow over in a wind storm they won’t land on a neighbor's home. The rule seems to be “Five times the height of the tower is the setback,” as I understood it. A 100-foot tower should be 500 feet from a property line.
So the first permit application for a tower in the Eel River Canyon north of Potter Valley was continued to the next meeting because seven property owners next to the cell phone tower site are too close, and some of those owners said they were never approached about the deal.
While the public can have three minutes each, AT&T and Epic got as much time as they wanted to describe what a great job they were planning to do. I wondered if these folks had been trained by snake oil salesmen before they became communication industry spokespersons. Their companies could do no wrong, they said. Also, there was one-time money/grants attached to these proposals and if they were not approved TODAY someone, someplace else would get the financing and not Mendocino County. I think that’s why the commissioners approved four or five tower proposals that day. Free Money for infrastructure improvements.
Comptche citizens politely pointed out the Comptche tower might be a start but we wanted minutes to clearly show that this tower does NOT meet the needs of the community and does NOT solve telecommunications needs. It’s a START. At least we could get that into the minutes. Also WHY didn’t these companies reach out to the volunteer fire department for suggestions on a site for the tower? MRC owns thousands of acres surrounding Comptche and will get their rent money for the site wherever it is built.
My daughter, who is a naturalist, was worried about rainwater running down 7,000 feet of new road into the headwaters of the Albion River. She stood to speak her mind. She was told Fish & Game said the permit was OK and she should not worry. End of conversation.
Driving home afterwards over Comptche-Ukiah Road we watched a torrent of muddy water flowing down an active logging road. It gushed over the road, jumped the curb, and dropped straight into the creek below.
This tower, when built, will have a generator that turns on when power goes out. Problem? If memory serves me the fuel tank can run for three days before it runs out. Sheriff Tom Allman has told the Comptche disaster-planning group we’d be lucky to see help from the county in perhaps 10 days after a major disaster. I politely asked AT&T and Epic if they would be sending a fuel truck to Comptche to re-fill a generator in the midst of a countywide disaster so we locals could have our “new” cell phone service functioning. No answer.
So the Planning Commission approved the tower and note will be made that this does not meet the community needs and six citizens had their say. Many people had sent in written comments. Our opinions were heard. AT&T says they will send someone to the next disaster-planning meeting.
Life goes on.
WINDOWS AT THE GRANGE
Sunday, June 2nd • 2pm at the Anderson Valley Grange.
Fresh from the Mendo Film Festival, the critically acclaimed, Windows on the World!
Screenplay by former Valley residents, Robert Mailer Anderson and Zack Anderson. Live appearance by leading actress. $5 donation. All proceeds benefit the Anderson Valley Senior Center!
LIFE ON A SMALL BOONVILLE FARM
We seem to have returned to winter here in Anderson Valley. It's cold and very wet. Our tomatoes, all planted, are hanging in so far, but the cucumbers, still in 4" pots, are not happy. Nor are the swallow parents living in our entryway.
They spend the rain days under the porch roof, which wraps around two sides of the house, looking for bugs to feed their chicks which means they're picking flies right off our windows - fun to watch but so much work for them. We are thankful for the rain, that we don't live in other parts of the country and world receiving far worse effects from this climate crisis we've manufactured, but it doesn't make farming any easier.
We do find it dismaying that when the weather is reported no mention is ever made about why it's happening, that its driven by the arctic melting. Denial will not get us out of this impending disaster. We live right off and up a steep hill from a state highway, albeit a narrow, two lane and twisty one, and often folks drop off unwanted pets at the foot of our property.
Recently a new cat appeared, lurking about eating food in the chicken and pig areas. Juan eventually found her nesting with 4 kittens, their eyes barely open, in a tree trunk hollow tucked behind a large boulder.
We tried to trap her but failed and she moved her kits elsewhere. The other day we discovered the new hiding place, an old truck parked in a field, and after trapping mom, three of us spent some time catching the kittens, now independent and active, who lived and played in its cab. They are adorable of course, but we have our own barn cats, so we took them all to the animal shelter in Ukiah for spaying and adoption.
This has happened several times over the years and we want to send a message to one and all: if you have animals you are responsible for their care. Dumping them on others is not ok.
And you MUST GET THEM SPAYED. Those kittens would have been bobcat or fox or mountain lion bait if left on their own.
Take care of yourselves in these very uneasy times.
Nikki Auschnitt and Steve Krieg, Petit Teton Farm, Yorkville
DEPT OF DUBIOUS STATS, a reader writes: "This is from a report at a Fort Bragg City Council meeting on November 13, 2018, so I'm guessing it is the latest numbers. So, it looks as though there may be about 28 more than in 2016. (I have no idea what the difference is between "homeless" and "unsheltered" unless it means they have a camp or perhaps they are at the Hospitality House.
“WHEREAS, the Mendocino County Point in Time Count found that 1,238 persons within Mendocino County were homeless and 1,078 persons were living without shelter as of January 26, 2017; and WHEREAS, the Mendocino County Point in Time Count found that 90 persons within the City of Fort Bragg were homeless and 47 persons were living without shelter as of January 26, 2017…
You can read the report here:
So, if these numbers are correct: I would say Mendocino County is very close to even with Humboldt County with the unsheltered population count. My next question would be: Why are they coming here and where are they coming from? Some are locals but the majority seem to have migrated here for some reason. Handouts? Freebies, such as food and extreme weather shelters? Is California catering to these people which makes it the "hot spot" to come to? Yes, other places have a problem also BUT we are talking about Mendocino and Humboldt. Everyone likes to throw San Francisco or LA in to prove there is no problem here. That's comparing apples to oranges. Eureka has a population of 27,000 compared to Fort Bragg's 7,000. Humboldt County’s population is 136,754 with a total of 1,470 unsheltered people (according to Point In Time count). Mendocino County’s population is 88,018 with a total of 1050 unsheltered (that was in 2016) according to the PIT count."
HOMELESS STATS for Mendo and Humboldt are compiled by people whose own funding is pegged to them, meaning their numbers are probably on the high end. But literally beating the early morning bushes for people who might be sleeping in them, guessing at lots of others at visible camp sites isn't like to yield accurate numbers. The famous Marbut Report said our numbers are much lower than those reported via the self-interested conducting point in time surveys. Here, and in the cities, one of the biggest obstacles to practical solutions to homelessness (short of lots of genuinely low-income housing, which won't happen short of revolution) is the homeless-industrial complex, the comfortably compensated people who "serve" the homeless.
THE PEOPLE I see shuffling around Ukiah — some of whom are moving quite rapidly thanks to the magic powders — may or may not be homeless. Ukiah has a large population of marginal and otherwise dependent people who are housed but look and act like they might be homeless. In my weekly visits to our county seat I do see that more and more seemingly destitute persons are camping on the frontage road between the Ukiah airstrip and the big box stores, but a number of those people are living in vehicles of one kind or another. The people I see walking around that area are irretrievably committed to primitive anarchy.
THE EUREKA POLICE DEPARTMENT tracks the hours it spends on homeless-related crime, mostly of the petty type but time consuming nevertheless, and from time to time the Ukiah and Fort Bragg police make it clear they, too, spend an inordinate part of their work hours responding to problems created by the unsheltered. The Sheriff's Department also puts in a lot of 5150 hours. The only Mendo town without a "homeless problem" is Willits because Willits doesn't offer the comforts that Ukiah and Fort Bragg offer. The person terminally wed to altered states of consciousness can get out of the cold weather, get a meal, a sleeping bag and other stuff that help him or her to continue lives of public self-destruction.
COAST NATIVE BEING SHUT OUT OF HOUSING…
“Is there any way to post on here looking for a 1 to 2 bedroom dog friendly home for my small family? We've been in and out of hotel rooms and camping when the weather is nice. I have a great job and we are born and raised here. I've been struggling to hold my composure. It has been almost 8 months of searching and no one I mean no one, will accept us. I have good credit, references, and income. I don't need HUD either.” (via MSP)
OVER THE WEEKEND, I took in several hours of CNN, MSNBC, NPR, plus the array of Bay Area Chuckle Buddy news shows. I wanted to see how the Biden "kick-off" rally, and Biden himself, were being reported. I pretended to myself not to know that Biden would certainly be hailed as the man to take down the Orange Beast. Sure enough. The MSM proclaimed Biden as not only the Beast Slayer, he would beat back the Bolsheviks of the Democratic Party.
I CANNOT UNDERSTAND how it is intellectually or emotionally possible for any human-type being to consider Biden as either a plausible person-person or a supportable alternative to The Beast. By even the loosest Repellant Measure Biden ranks with Trump — lower, given that he purports to represent "hope and change." But there he was in cool guy shades, the blonde wife bounding up to him for a showbiz smooch, a rent-a-mob claque of "supporters" in identical t-shirts, all of them holding up Made in China Biden signs, cheering at every cliche. The media commentary was uniformly along the lines of Biden as the alternative to the left candidates, of whom there are exactly none with the possible exception of Bernie, the neo-New Deal Democrat. Prediction: Another four years for Trump.
SPECIAL INTEREST VS. THE PUBLIC’S INTEREST
by Jim Shields
May 19, 2019 at 1:13 am
You have to wonder just who in the county seat thought it would be a good idea to create a whole new bureaucracy with start-up funding of $110,000, and expect to get away with hiding it from the public by burying it in routine, non-controversial matters in the weekly consent calendar of the Board of Supervisors agenda.
Don’t these people ever learn?
As I’ve said in the past, there are too many county officials who go out of their way to create problems. They don’t understand that they are paid quite handsomely to solve problems, not to cause problems.
By now almost everybody knows about the BOS-created mess surrounding a proposed citizens’ Climate Action Advisory Committee. The ostensible purpose of the committee, according to a proposed resolution, is “to make recommendations to the board of supervisors on implementation of a Mendocino County Sustainability and Climate Action Program and to make an annual report to the board of supervisors on accomplishments, recommended actions and policy proposals.”
The first thing that comes to mind is why would a rural county with extremely limited resources be expending 110 grand on a proposed committee when there’s something like 40 established citizen advisory boards, committees, and commissions that receive little, if any, financial support from the county. These advisory bodies are all comprised of citizen volunteers who spend a lot of time doing a lot of good work, but they don’t get paid for it.
If the county has $110,000 to throw around, why not toss it in the direction of libraries, where citizens were forced to tax themselves in order to keep a long-neglected system operating.
Or how about designating that new-found money to help return and restore farmed out mental health services that forced citizens to once again tax themselves because county officials say there’s just no money for it.
That cash could also fill a lot of potholes in a sub-standard road system that county officials say will take 109 years to bring up to standard unless citizens agree to a half-cent sales tax.
Is anybody down in the county seat familiar with this thing called a “priorities list”?
Well, the good news is that somebody is paying attention. I’ll get to that shortly, but first I’d like to share the insights of others on this scam.
Ukiah Daily Journal editor K. C. Meadows dissected the hare-brained scheme-in-the-making, saying the Supervisors were “putting together a huge committee of people, all with their own agendas to begin yet another adventure in ‘consenus’ building over a difficult issue. Good luck. We envision a coming manifesto full of new policies dictating all kinds of activities without any input from the general public which supervisors will hold up as a wonderful forward thinking new vision and which will be ignored by county staff and reviled by the public. And to hire someone at more than $100,000 in salary and benefits to herd those cats is nonsense. We see a major boondoggle coming and we urge the county supervisors to rethink this whole idea. Why not start with getting climate ideas from the people you are already paying to be leaders in your organization and see where the low hanging fruit already exists. Building a whole new bureaucracy around an issue the county has limited, but relatively simple, control over makes no sense.”
Bruce Anderson, editor of the Anderson Valley Advertiser, was not buying this pig-in-a-poke either when he wrote, “Inland Mendo’s show biz-left appeared at last week’s meeting of the Supervisors to lobby the board for a full-time job for one of them, probably Alicia Little Tree. Miss Tree and her dreary posse, you see, are going to save us from Global Warming! And get paid to do it, thanks to their sponsor, John McCowen, who also gives them free rent at their 106 Standley Street headquarters. If this bold scam gets more than McCowen’s vote, even by Mendo’s subterranean standards, the county will have achieved a new low. The fact that it’s even being considered while the county’s line workers continue without their promised raises is disgraceful.”
John Sakowicz, an announced candidate for the 1st District Supervisor’s seat, in a letter-to-the-editor wrote, “By its very name, the group is advisory. This means that while the structure is designed for CAAC members to ADVISE the BOS, there is no specific mechanism to effect change nor to measure CAAC’s performance and outcomes. The CAAC’s organizers are, by admission, activists. This principally includes Alicia Bales (Littletree is her former CB radio handle.) Ms. Bales is the self-aggrandizing president of the Mendocino Environmental Center (MEC) which, for the most part, stages demonstrations, i.e., banging pots and pans on the courthouse steps or playing an out-of-tune guitar at Alex Thomas Plaza. The MEC, which has existed for decades, has not organized itself nor raised funds to halt climate change. And yet. It’s exists to protect the environment… In her formal presentation to the BOS this week, Ms. Bales stated she is “more familiar with throwing herself in front of a bulldozer than having an understanding of how government agencies work.” (See BOS video.) Supervisor John McCowen is the MEC’s landlord, located at 106 Standley St., Ukiah. He is also the sponsor of the CAAC initiative …”
The sole person on the BOS who acted responsibly regarding this boondoggle was 3rd Supervisor John Haschak. He sent me a report summarizing his reasons for casting votes on different issues, including the climate action committee proposal. Here’s what Haschak said about that matter, as well as several other issues.
“I voted no to spending $110,000 on hiring a staff person for the Climate Action Advisory Committee. While I support the goals and principles of combating climate change, the structure of the proposal and the cost of a staff person were not acceptable, especially when the people who brought forth this proposal are working for free. This exorbitant salary passed 4 to 1, my lone dissent.
“I voted no on the combined fee increases for cannabis permits and for park rentals. Small growers shouldn’t have to pay more due to County inefficiencies in the permitting process. And the increase in park rental fees from $30 to $130 by making the $100 cleaning deposit non-refundable eliminates the incentive to clean up and also prices out many County residents from using the parks. These fee increases passed 3 -2, Supervisor Williams and I dissenting.
“I voted no on a pay raise for the Assistant District Attorney. It was a 17 percent increase from 2.5 years ago which is 7 percent per year. Until regular line workers get that kind of increase, I will continue to vote no for those kinds of raises. This pay raise passed 4 -1, my lone dissent.”
Haschak is actually doing his job on these three issues: He’s attempting to represent the best interests of constituents, and not the special interests of a select few.
(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)
If you don't have it, don't share it — County records
Over several of the past years, concern has grown regarding the herbicides/pesticides that flow through the South Fork of the Gualala River which consists of two feeder branches; the Wheatfield Fork, and the South Fork. As a locally known fact, there are pot plantations and grape vineyards along the land abutting these waterways. And there are drinking water wells along the way also; Kashaya Reservation, and the Sea Ranch Water Company, to name two systems that serve their populations on a regular basis. So, it would not be an aberration to think that the water serving these wells associated with these waterways may come under the influence of constituents of runoff from the farming sites of profit. Pushed by some friends, I did some investigating to see if there was a glyphosate or other chemical threat to the populations served within this particular watershed.
My first approach while sitting in my chair at home was to visit the Sonoma County Permit Resource Department (PRMD) website. There is a dropdown menu within the website that allows the user to go into what is termed “Active Map,” and even with all of its disclosures regarding non-county liability for the use of the contents, it is a very resourceful site. So, I coursed through the map and as I expanded and contracted the size of the map, I noticed the geographical features of the River coursing its way to two headwater locations, one near Las Lomas (Wheatfield) near Sonoma County Reservoir (Warm Springs Dam) and the second near Plantation (Near Timber Cove).
Pretty interesting stuff to learn about the area, and as a portion of the map is enlarged, guess what appears? The Assessor’s Parcel Numbers (APN’s). I performed several print screens of the maps due to scale of a printed image, and then went to search on the PRMD website and typed in a Public Records request. I received a response from the SoCo Ag department that day by email with directions on how to complete the request for chemical information, the timing of response, etc. On the request, I listed the APNs deemed as part of a possibly affected watershed area, and emailed the request for information to the Ag department listing. Expecting a 10 day response to quite a few APN’s, I found that on the 11th day I needed to call and remind them of the request. Apologetically, the response from the County was made within three days. And no, the information was not “real time” but was two years old by the time I received it; a stipulation that I was informed about and expected.
I understand that the constituents listed were laboratory tested for in the River water supplies and found to be non-existent. One other caveat by the County Ag department: “There are land owners that do not report,” and “we are not monitoring cannabis farms as they are not as prolific as timber operations and vineyards in Sonoma County.”
My point is: Why is Mendocino not using this web type of technology to relieve the staff from becoming “burdened” with each public records request while providing an information medium of service? I mean, I was able to do the research on my nature of request in about 3-4 hours, and spent about an hour communicating by email with the Ag County staff, over an issue that bore environmental public health importance. And though the information had aged two years, a follow up on a yearly basis remains possible for those of a vigilant nature to protect a vital resource. Ted Williams is to be commended for just asking for a spreadsheet. We gotta start somewhere.
BOB ABELES NOTES: Re: Pesticide use: Perhaps this is the same information that our county is hoarding: https://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/pur/purmain.htm
NIGHT LIGHT OF THE NORTH COAST: Rainy Night at 5th and F in Eureka
by David Wilson
Rain had come out of the blue and the weather was up in the air. I couldn’t find any stars anywhere, so I lit out to the downtown regions of Eureka, Humboldt County, California to find something interesting in the lights of civilization.
I had in mind finding a fire hydrant to work with as a foreground object in a city street scene. To me the fire hydrant in a city is akin to the lone fencepost in the country, it’s one of those subjects that draws me somehow. Not that I have a lot of shots of them at all, but I do think about them. Actually, I’m not really sure I’ve ever focused on one in a composition, but I’ve been collecting images of them in my head.
This night I had the bug to track one down and capture it in its native element. I found my candidate in one of the city’s neat yellow and cyan fire plugs down on the corner of 5th and F Streets. It had a certain character about it, and I liked the location for the lighting, the lines and the brick sidewalk.
Rain came and went all evening. Even between showers there seemed always to be some droplets floating in the air and landing on the lens. But the light quality from the city lights was beautiful, reflecting bright, rich colors off of the rain-soaked road’s gritty surface. Long exposures turned car lights to smooth streaks of light and color as they drove through the frame. I loved how the colors were working in the photographs.
I’d brought a crystal ball I hadn’t used in ages to incorporate in a photograph somehow. There is something of a mild craze for photographing crystal balls these days, so it’s been in my mind’s eye of late. This crystal ball I bought for photography almost 25 years ago down at Globe Imports along the waterfront. (How many years has THAT place been gone?!) But unfortunately this night the rain was not cooperating, and I’d hardly played with it before I was driven back to the shelter of the car.
I would love to have a clearer crystal ball than this one. Taking a close look at the image I am a little disappointed in the clarity inside the sphere. Somehow I remembered it being clearer, or perhaps my standards are higher now. I wonder if there are any local marble makers who make totally clear crystal balls that don't stir up the image at all when looked through. Should any such glass artist be reading this, the contact form on my website can put you through to an interested party.
A warning from experience about crystal balls in general: they are Fire Hazards. Crystal balls are powerful magnifying glasses, and if you set one down in the sun you WILL burn something. Were you ever a kid, or know anyone who was? Then you know about magnifying glasses and the sun. Set it down in dry grass: FIRE! Put it on the table cloth: burn hole or FIRE! Window sill or shelf, even inside the house in the sun? Burn hole or FIRE! If you hold it wrong in the sun, you will get yourself burned, too. Seriously, crystal balls are dangerous if any sun shines on them. Don’t leave them unattended outside or anywhere that direct sunlight will reach them.
(To keep abreast of David Wilson’s most current photography or peer into its past, visit or contact him at his website mindscapefx.com or follow him on Instagram at @david_wilson_mfx .)
L.A. RAILWAY EMPLOYEE, 1930s
SAN FRANCISCO POLICE RAID on Journalist Alarms Free Press Advocates
When two San Francisco police officers knocked on Bryan Carmody’s door in April they politely requested that Mr. Carmody, a freelance videographer, reveal who had leaked a police report to him about the mysterious death of the city’s public defender.
CATCH OF THE DAY, MAY 19, 2019
ANNA ELLIS, Gualala. DUI.
THOMAS GALINDO, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. (Frequent flyer.)
NATHAN KNOTT, Los Angeles. DUI.
TRENTON LOCKHART, Redwood Valley. Vandalism.
JACOB MARIZETTE-PETERSEN, Ukiah. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, resisting.
ORLANDO MUNOZ, Ukiah. Under influence, paraphernalia, resisting, probation revocation.
JULIO PEREZ, Ukiah. Protective order violation.
JULIAN PILONIETA, Willits. DUI.
MELISSA RATLIFF, Willits. Domestic abuse, probation revocation.
TRUMP: IMPORTING DANGEROUS MEDICINES AND FOOD AND KEEPING CONSUMERS IN THE DARK
by Ralph Nader
Conservatives favor consumer choice. Consumer information is vital to make that choice meaningful. Corporatists, masquerading as conservatives, do not care about informed consumer choice. Donald Trump is a corporatist, as are the vast majority of Republicans in his Cabinet and in Congress. Corporatists do not even want you to know where products are made. Today, producers and retail sellers do not have to tell you the “country of origin” for meat and pork products. Before 2015, when Congress bowed to the dictates of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Congress had enacted a law that required country of origin labels on meat products.
People wanted to know whether the beef and pork sold in their local stores was from the U.S., or Canada, Brazil, China, Mexico, or South Africa, among other importers. But after the WTO judges in Geneva, Switzerland decided, bizarrely, that “country of origin” labeling was an impermissible non-tariff trade barrier, Congress meekly passed a bill that repealed the labeling law and President Obama signed this legislation into law.
While Donald Trump claims to reject “free trade” treaties, he has been silent on country of origin regulations. State Cattlemen’s Associations want laws mandating country of origin labels, believing that consumers are more trusting of the U.S. meat industry than the meat industries in most other countries. These associations know that the U.S.D.A. Food Safety and Inspection Service has a much less rigorous inspection process for imported meats. Unfortunately, the rest of the meat industry likes to import meat, without labeling, and mix it up with the U.S. products. Trump – a prodigious meat eater has yet to tweet in favor of the American cattle industry, even though many people in this part of the U.S. meat industry voted for him in 2016.
Even worse, we cannot tell where our drugs are being manufactured. Rosemary Gibson, author of China Rx: Exposing the Risks of America’s Dependence on China for Medicine thinks American patients are endangered by imported medicines. Gibson is about to testify before Congress on her very disturbing findings regarding importation of medicines from China. I’ve been trying to get the attention of Donald Trump, his Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, and the Secretary of Agriculture, Sunny Perdue, regarding risks with importation of food and drugs. Letters, emails, and calls have been met with silence. By not responding, they’re telling us who they primarily support—corporate profiteering interests. That is one reason why Trump has broken his promise to the American people to bring down staggeringly high drug prices.
It will be harder for the Trump administration to ignore journalist Katherine Eban. Eban provides us with a terrifying glimpse of her new book, Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom, in a New York Times article published on Sunday May 11, 2019. The article, “Americans Need Generic Drugs, But Can They Trust Them?” exposes the widespread unsafe conditions in many Indian and Chinese labs and plants that manufacture generic drugs for the U.S. market (generics amount to 90 percent of the U.S. supply of drugs). One of her sources was an intrepid Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspector, Peter Baker (he has since left the agency).
Baker was a bold and honest auditor. He refused to announce lab inspections in advance, as is FDA’s lackadaisical practice. From 2012 to 2018, Baker discovered “fraud or deceptive practices in almost four-fifths of the drug plants he inspected” in India and China. Indian and Chinese manufacturers engaged in data manipulation that could prove deadly.
At one firm, the Wockhardt plant in India, Baker caught the company knowingly releasing insulin vials containing metallic fragments from a defective sterilizing machine into Indian and foreign markets. Eban reports that “[Baker] learned that the company had been using the same defective equipment to make a sterile injectable cardiac drug for the American market.” Two months later, the FDA banned imports from that plant.
Eban continues, shockingly: “In some instances, deceptions and other practices have contributed to generic drugs with toxic impurities, unapproved ingredients and dangerous particulates reaching American patients.” This is nothing new. In 2008, at least 81 American patients died in hospitals after being given heparin, a blood thinner that contained a contaminated ingredient from China.
You’d think that the FDA would demand from Trump more inspectors abroad and the U.S. Department of Agriculture would ask the White House for more U.S.D.A. Food and Safety inspectors, along with tougher laws and penalties on unsafe imports to transmit to Congress. After all, the sheer scope of U.S. drug companies going to China and India to produce drugs cheaply, so as to swell their already swollen profits, is simply stunning.
Another chilling statistic from Eban is that “Nearly forty percent of all our generic drugs are made in India. Eighty percent of active ingredients for both our brand and generic drugs come from abroad, the majority from India and China… America makes almost none of its own antibiotics anymore.” The outsourcing of the production of drugs to foreign countries presents vast challenges for health and safety regulators.
One would think this surrender to imports, whose sole purpose is to fatten U.S. drug companies’ profits, would be considered both a consumer safety threat and a national security matter. Why isn’t Trump doing anything to keep Americans safe from dangerous foreign products, as he crows about tariffs?
Of course the FDA responds with their usual phony assurances about its reliable inspections, putting out a statement that reads: “The F.D.A. inspects all brand-name and generic manufacturing facilities around the world which manufacture product for the U.S. market.”
Is that why the FDA, which has largely conducted unannounced inspections of U.S. plants, still allows pre-announcement of the vast majority of its foreign inspections? Eban reports, the FDA investigators are treated as “the company’s guests and agree on an inspection date in advance…Plant officials have served as hosts and helped to arrange local travel.”
Messrs. Trump, Azar, and Perdue better wake up before innocent Americans lose their lives due to corporate indentured government officials failing to properly do their jobs. Do they want a major disaster to land on their derelict desks?
They are on full public notice.
(Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!)
There goes the SMART train down the wrong track: $500,000 was just spent to examine the route between Novato and Suisun City to connect to Amtrak’s Capitol Corridor service.
With a little more effort and imagination, the report could have also examined the far more urgently needed rail connection from San Rafael to Richmond, allowing a connection to BART and the Capitol Corridor. Connecting SMART to BART would serve our region far better, providing rail transit to Oakland and San Francisco international airports and the entire metropolitan area.
It’s time for SMART to connect Sonoma and Marin counties to the rest of the Bay Area and to provide service that will get commuters out of cars, via a link that is truly needed, and serve citizens who don’t drive.
Years ago, Key System trains rolled over the Bay Bridge; the Richmond Bridge can be easily modified for rail service, especially since the failing roadbed is to be replaced.
Don’t leave us stranded at a station that has no connections. SMART needs to be connected to BART.
THE FIRST RULE is, you must not fool yourself. And you are the easiest person to fool. — Richard Feynman
FRANK HARTZELL WRITES:
California is drowning in May, a month rain seldom makes any visits to. We are at 400 percent of average for May, with two more storms on the way. I can see my beautiful row of pickle cucumbers under 6 inches of water, dancing in the cold water as if they were seaweed. Will my garden survive?
A redwing blackbird likes the swamp and is a more familiar sight in Gridley and I liked his cattail perch. This pine tree with such a twisted soul would be a great photo contest, with the sun coming through that triangle at just the right time. During a brief appearance of Apollo, Brutus and I walked from home to Pudding Creek trestle, about 4 miles and was contemplating a dinner at Overtime Brewery. I found Linda waiting for me with a broken down car. We had the hood up only a few minutes when some very lovely very country folks we know saw us and stopped and gave us a jump. Linda was their "free book angel" for many years. We had to go do our caregiving, Linda very tired and eating out was not appealing. We give thanks for the glories of creation, especially when seeing a fellow human suffering through severe dementia. Makes you sorry you ever complained about the rain, flooded garden or car battery for sure.
ANY REASONABLY FIT PERSON WHO COULDN'T QUICKLY AND EASILY DISARM THESE TWO…
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Usually things move from Good to Bad to Worse. Occasionally things get better, but the process of Entropy and overpopulation, Empire, “Progressive” Moral degradation, and resource depletion tend to tilt in the opposite direction. At least until the process reverses itself as per the historical cycle….
The Ethics of the Stoics may tend to hold the process in abeyance since the Stoics tend to refuse to change themselves internally to accommodate the degradation, and the Stoics are devoted to Truth and Reason. But most people are cowardly, afraid, and weak. And at least one-third of the population, as one learns in Law School, is “Fucking Nuts”, which makes democracy inherently problematic. What can you do?
"MY DAD was in prison for eight years of my life. When he got out, he spent a little time with us, but then he got a new girlfriend and started spending all his time and money on her. My mother doesn't have much money, so I recently asked him if he could pay for a class trip to Spain. He promised he would, so my grandmother went ahead and put it on her credit card. But right before he was going to give me the money, we got in an argument. He started saying bad things about my mother, which I wasn't going to allow. Afterwards, he texted me that he was going to take the money for my trip, and spend it on himself. He told me he was going to take photos of all the things he bought and post them on Instagram. So I took a screenshot of the text message, and posted it on Instagram, with the hashtag: #deadbeatdad. He reported me to Instagram for bullying, so they deleted the post. Then I put it right back up, hashtag #onlypussiesreportpeople."
THE IMPLICIT THESIS, that the working class is too dumb to understand the "most complicated of issues" is not only incredibly snobbish but utterly false. The working class understands very well what the establishment parties have done to it and continue to do. The increasing vote share of the far-right is a direct consequence of the behavior of the neoliberal center and of the lack of real left alternatives.
— Moon of Alabama
BOX CELLO AND GUITAR between 1918 and 1920, Library of Congress
COUPLA’ MENDO BOYS
A little before noon on Sunday, June 2, 1985, an Asian man entered a hardware store in South City, California, which is on the southern loop of the San Francisco/Oakland area. He was wearing a parka, in June, which drew the attention of a clerk. The clerk saw the man slip a vice into the folds of the parka. He asked a customer to follow the man and called the police.
When the customer followed the shoplifter from the store the man bolted, fleeing the area. A large man with a beard approached the clerk, explaining that his oriental "friend" was simple-minded, didn't know any better. He offered to pay for the stolen item.
A cop arrived and immediately recognized a familiar scam. Shoplifters not uncommonly work in pairs. When one of them is caught, the partner will spring into action, offering to pay for whatever the simple-minded brother/friend/nephew/jogging partner has carried off. The cop walked to the bearded man to his car and spotted what he thought was a gun under the seat.
He ran the plates. The car's license plate belonged to a different automobile. This gave the police the right to search the car and take a look at the gun.
The gun had a silencer attached to it. Silencers are illegal.
The bearded man was taken into custody. Within minutes of arriving at the police station the man could be tied to several different missing persons cases. The license plates were traced to a man who had disappeared with his entire family two months before. The vehicle itself belonged to another missing person. The suspect presented identification belonging to a third missing person and his pockets yielded receipts given to a fourth.
"Do you want to know who I really am?" asked the bearded man. "I'm Leonard Lake, a fugitive from the feds."
He grabbed a cyanide capsule from under his collar and swallowed it in a second. He never spoke again, and died some days later.
The automobile yielded bloodstains, bullet holes, and identification cards belonging to yet another missing person. One of the most grisly crime sprees in American history was beginning to come to light.
The Asian man who had fled the scene was Charlie Chitat Ng, pronounced Charles Cheetah Ing." Ng is a British citizen of Chinese origin from a family of some means. He fled to Canada where he was arrested a month later, again arrested while shoplifting.
Lake and Ng were serious murderers, as opposed to serial murderers. They wiped out entire families, not just once, as but at least twice and probably a third time based on unidentified remains, and for all anyone knows, more. The full extent of their crimes is impossible to ascertain, but it seems safe to say that they killed more than 20 people, although this total may include some crimes committed by Lake without the assistance of Ng.
Lake and Ng used a cabin in the woods near Wilseyville, California. A bunker sat near the cabin, a windowless building about the size of a two-car garage. Lake and Ng would gain control of a person or a couple or a family by using some pretext for normal interaction. In one case they called a man who had placed an ad offering to sell a car. The man went to show someone the car and was never heard from again. Ng brought coworkers out to the forest offering them jobs and they never came back. In one case the murderous pair simply invited their neighbors over for dinner. Lake sometimes stayed in a halfway house in Haight-Ashbury. Three people disappeared from that house in February of 1985. The body of one of them was found in Wilseyville. This is all that is known about the matter. In some cases it is unknown how they made contact with the victims.
In any case, all the victims came to terrible ends. The men were the luckiest: they were quickly and unceremoniously shot. The women were held prisoner in the bunker and used as slaves for a period of days or weeks. They were assaulted, beaten and tortured before meeting their deaths, all the while pleading for their babies to be brought to them. Lake and Ng took videotapes of themselves abusing the women. The babies were murdered and may also have been sexually exploited before death.
The bodies were disposed of in all different ways — burned, chopped up into small bits and spread around the property, or buried whole. This made it very difficult to ID the victims or even to prove that a given victim was actually dead or even to assemble a list of who all the victims might have been. Then they would loot the victim's property — steal their cars and jewelry, their furniture and cameras, their credit cards and miscellaneous identification.
They would have garage sales and sell off some of their victims’ belonging.
Truman Capote’s book about Hickock and Smith said that probably neither man would have committed the crime for which they were executed but that they created a third personality out of their interaction and that this third personality committed the crime. Ng and Lake were different. Both of them were homicidal and either of them was entirely capable of killing somebody. Joining forces made them deadlier not because it made them more wicked, but because it made them more effective.
After Ng was arrested in Canada the jurisdiction which was holding him refused to return him to California, citing a long-standing Canadian policy of refusing to grant extradition when the person involved faced the death penalty upon his return. Canada held Ng for four and a half years while the issue was fought out in Canadian courts becoming a political issue of national interest. Eventually the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that Ng could be returned to the United States if the justice minister agreed. The justice minister gave permission to the warden of the prison which was holding him and the prison got rid of them as fast as they could; he was back in California within hours after the Canadian Supreme Court had ruled before the political opposition had a chance to rally.
Ng went on trial in in California in October of 1998 and was convicted of 11 counts of murder in on February 24, 1999.
The crime spree of Lake and Ng could easily have been ended several murders earlier had the police system not been in such a mess at the time. Several of the disappearances could easily have been traced to Ng and/or Lake if a more timely effort had been made to follow up on a missing persons report. When two of Ng's coworkers disappeared from the face of the earth in January of 1985 that might have set off alarm bells — and those experiences could have been traced to Ng. At the time it just didn't seem important enough to chase down. These people were missing but there was no evidence that they were dead so it was a low priority compared to solving the current homicides.
The police were also unlucky. Some of the disappearances were taken seriously by police and were rigorously investigated but they happened to be the ones which could not be easily solved.
Charles Chitat Ng remains on death row.
—Bill James, ‘Popular Crime’
I AM HAUNTED BY WATERS
Department of Full Disclosure: I have just finished (re)watching 'A River Runs Through It', and the title is apparently irresistible. Besides, it takes me back to Wild River, and otters and kingfishers and salmon. And we desperately need that vision now, need it pulsating, alive.
I cannot think of a way to make it stop hurting, no matter how much I try. I try to think think deeply. I try to learn and to keep current. I try (usually successfully) to remain faithful to the goal of thoughtful and humane direct action. I pause to acknowledge my deep thankfulness many times a day.
I read an article in this morning's Register-Guard that wakes us to the terrifying news that, in the event of a major (and long-overdue) quake, causing bridges to collapse, along with overpasses and so on, food supplies can be expected to last about five days. I want to make a joke, but won't. Can't, really.
Undeniably, I am dying. Congestive heart failure. I am moving into a senior care facility next week. I was visited by a lovely staff person named Jacque this morning. Dying now, I am probably the happiest I have ever been. I love my life. I love my death. It is, as always, a good day to die. Namaste. Eh?
INUIT MOTHER WITH BABY on shoulders. Alaska. Early 1900s. Photo by Lomen Brothers. Source: Glenbow Museum.
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT VISITS BOONVILLE
From rustic eateries to pubs, Boonville’s a small town with much to offer…
For a short stopover on the way to the North Coast, or a leisurely weekend in the country, head to Boonville.
The old Anderson Valley village is filled with hidden treasures — from a quaint ice cream shop and wild gardens to boutique hotels and wineries.
Settled in the mid-1800s, the isolated farming and logging community also served as a stagecoach stop. Today, the town is accessed from Cloverdale by a winding 30-mile section of two-lane Highway 128.
Boonville’s population of just over 1,000 is widely known for its quirky, recalcitrant side, and for its own, now nearly extinct, language called Boontling, which once enabled residents to ignore visitors.
A copy of the local newspaper makes for entertaining reading, especially the no-holds-barred essays by denizens of the town. Founded more than 60 years ago, the Anderson Valley Advertiser calls itself “America’s Last Newspaper Fanning the Flames of Discontent” and promises “you haven’t read another paper like it because there isn’t one.”
So grab a newspaper and a cup of coffee, or a glass of wine, and find a sidewalk table in front of the Boonville General Store — the perfect perch for watching the passing scene of old-timers and long-haired Bohemian types, grape-stained farmers, and snazzy-dressed urbanites on the hunt for cult wines.
Then browse for hand-fashioned kitchen tools, natural fiber clothing, and artisan crafts at Farmhouse Mercantile next door. Located in a century-old, peaked-roof building, the store is your grandpa’s emporium with a 21st-century vibe. It’s run by Karen Bates, whose family owns the Apple Farm orchards, inn and cooking school in nearby Philo; Sandy Mailliard, who returned to her roots in the valley for this enterprise; and Vicki Moss.
The Anderson Valley Chamber of Commerce advises visitors, “Once you cross the Mendocino County line, put your head in vacation mode — don’t wait until you ‘arrive.’ It’s all about the journey!”
“Watch for cyclists and pedestrians, and remember that food made fresh from scratch takes longer to prepare, but is awfully delicious,” it adds. “The slower pace will give you time with your family, your sweetie, or just your thoughts … “
Settling in for the weekend…
Before taking part in all the noshing, shopping and people-watching, set up base camp at the Boonville Hotel, a much-lauded foodies’ destination.
In a miracle of timing, Valley native Perry Hoffman was available to step in when the hotel’s chef recently left for greener pastures. Hoffman, whose grandparents founded the Apple Farm and Napa’s French Laundry restaurant, was a natural fit. His uncle co-owns the hotel, where Hoffman worked in the kitchen as a youngster.
After helping earn Michelin stars for Napa Valley restaurants Auberge du Soleil and Étoile and spending five years at Shed Cafe in Healdsburg, Hoffman and his young family are building a house in the valley.
He’s producing a rustic, wood-fired menu at the hotel’s restaurant, Table 128. His family also owns Paysanne, a sweets shop across the street behind a yellow vintage gas pump. Here is where some high school kids have obtained their first jobs, scooping gourmet ice cream and selling housemade caramels, popsicles, and cookies.
Word has it that a new pizza place is in the works next door to Paysanne.
In a lofty, three-domed building a few doors down, visitors will find the John Hanes Fine Arts Gallery & Studio. Hanes has hundreds of artworks on display, including his own striking bronze sculptures.
And just beyond the gallery, the new Disco Ranch Wine Bar & Specialty Market serves snacks and local wines on its rustic terrace. On Friday evenings, the Boonville Farmers Market assembles in the parking lot, where live music sets a friendly tone as growers from around the valley and the coast sell their produce, olive oils, baked goods, seafood, cheeses and meats.
Wineries in and near Boonville
With hot days, chilly nights and fog drifting in from the coast, the Anderson Valley is classified in viticultural terms as a Region 1 growing area, as the coolest climate in which grapes may be commercially grown with success. World famous for pinot noir, sparkling wine and Alsace varietals, nearly 30 wineries in the area welcome visitors for wine tasting, food pairing and picnicking.
On the outskirts of Boonville at Foursight Wines, two generations of the Charles family have won awards for their sustainably grown, unfiltered pinots — Zero New Oak and Paraboll. On hand most days, Kristy Charles, the executive director of the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association, regales visitors with tales of the winemaking history of the valley.
The “caviar and bubbly” sign direct visitors to Goldeneye Winery, where brut rose sparkling wine and pinot noir are available for tasting. Enjoy a glass under the red umbrellas on the terrace, surrounded by flowers and redwood, oak and fir trees.
Just up the road, discover The Madrones, a boutique inn surrounded by a courtyard and wild gardens.
Visitors will find here a small eatery, Stone and Embers, known for an array of wood-fired, Mediterranean-style pizzas and local meats and poultry, and Sun & Cricket, a tiny shop of antiques and curiosities.
Making a name for itself with pinot and syrah wines grown on the high, breezy ridges, Drew Family Cellars also is located at The Madrones complex, as is the newly opened Smith Story Wine Cellars. A sleek and contemporary addition to The Madrones courtyard, Long Meadow Ranch’s tasting room shows off varietals grown on the banks of the Navarro River.
Just south of Boonville, “babydoll” sheep graze the vineyard rows at Pennyroyal Farm, while goats produce milk for cheese making. Sarah Cahn Bennett, who grew up in the Anderson Valley wine business, founded the minimum-waste farm.
There, while sipping sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and pinot noir, visitors can watch as small-batch farmstead-style cheeses are made –– Velvet Sisters, Boot Corners, Boontner’s Blue and more, all named after the local “Boontling” dialect. Picnickers can dig into cheese and charcuterie plates while taking in the farmyard views. They also can tour the dairy farm and goat barns.
South of Boonville in the highlands, watch for the sign to Artevino Maple Creek Winery. The winery offers award-winning chardonnay, pinot noir, and zinfandel and features a gallery of paintings by Tom Rodrigues, known as much for his artwork as his wines.
Events to catch
There are numerous events visitors shouldn’t miss, including the annual Mendocino County Fair and Apple Show.
Since 1924, the fair — held in September — has honored the valley’s fruit and sheep growers with old-fashioned fun, including a rodeo, sheepdog herding trials, a wool festival, and a parade (mendocountyfair.com). Home-canned fruits, quilts, and 4-H livestock are put on display, while hungry fairgoers attend for the fresh apples, cider, pies, and local wines and beer.
The Legendary Boonville Beer Festival, which was held in April, draws thousands of beer lovers. They get to sample drinks from 100 breweries and cideries. Porters, stouts, lagers, meads, IPAs were on offer this year, along with live music, food and art (avbc.com).
Eat and Drink
Don’t miss these places to eat and drink in and around Boonville:
Table 128: Offers a family-style, prix fixe menu sourced locally, plus pizza and roasted meats and poultry from the wood-fired oven and “paella Sundays.” Enjoy meals indoors and on the garden patio. Located at the Boonville Hotel, 14050 Highway 128; 707-895-2210; www.boonvillehotel.com.
The Bewildered Pig: Located in the restored, old Floodgate roadhouse. Former winery estate chef Janelle Weaver prowls produce farms and livestock ranches and hobnobs with cheesemongers and fishermen to get ingredients for hearty, yet sophisticated, chow. Sip wine by the fountains in the glorious gardens. 1810 Highway 128, Philo; 707-895-2088; www.bewilderedpig.com.
Anderson Valley Brewing Co.: Sample brews and seasonal releases in the taproom, hang out in the beer garden, play disk golf, and take a guided tour to see the massive copper tanks in the brew house. 17700 Highway 253, Boonville; 707-895-BEER; www.avbc.com.
Buckhorn Pub Anderson Valley: Belly up to the bar with the locals and enjoy a Boont Amber Ale on tap, then slip into a booth or onto the patio for pub grub, such as ceviche, burgers, and fish tacos; Breakfast, lunch and dinner offered. 14081 Highway 128, Boonville; 707-895-3224.
Lauren’s cafe: Enjoy live music and comfort food, from burgers to chicken pot pie and berry cobbler, on the patio and in the cozy dining room. 14211 Highway 128, Boonville; 707-895-3869; www.laurensgoodfood.com.
Plan to stay overnight? Check out these lodges:
Boonville Hotel: 15 country-chic rooms, cottages and suites in a laid-back, yet elegant roadhouse, circa 1860. A cross between Santa Fe, French country and steampunk, accommodations are cozy and comfortable. 14050 Highway 128; 707-895-2210; www.boonvillehotel.com.
The Madrones: Influenced by the Italian “agriturismo” concept of staying on a working farm or winery. The upscale country estate includes nine tasteful rooms and suites. 9000 Highway 128, Philo; 707-895-2955; www.themadrones.com.
Toll House Inn: Built in 1912, the farmhouse sits on 650 acres in foothills threaded with hiking trails. Features four rooms, and sleeping arrangements for families and groups. 253 Boonville Road, Boonville; 707-895-2572; www.tollhouseinn.com.
(Karen Misuraca, The Santa Rosa Press Democrat)