Press "Enter" to skip to content

MCT: Monday, September 2, 2019

* * *


A Southern California man reported missing a month ago was found dead in a Redwood Creek tributary east of Fort Bragg, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office said Sunday.

John Baker’s body was discovered about nine miles east of Highway 1 Friday after a weeklong search, the Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. Aerial, ground and trained K9 search and rescue teams were called in to comb the steep and wooded terrain after the 81-year-old Lake Hughes man’s Lincoln MKZ was spotted on a logging road on land owned by the Lyme Timber Company. The car was stuck in a ditch with the keys still inside, the Sheriff’s Office said. The tributary where the man was found was about 900 feet below. 

Baker, who suffered from early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, was reported missing Aug. 9 after he failed to return from a Southern Oregon trip, the Sheriff’s Office said. His family had spoken to him a day earlier, and he indicated he had traveled down Highway 101 and was in Fort Bragg trying to find a road back to Interstate 5 so he could return to Southern California, sheriff’s officials said. 

His death remains under investigation. An autopsy is scheduled Tuesday. 

* * *


by Malcolm Macdonald

The most significant news out of the Mendocino Coast District Hospital (MCDH) Board of Directors meeting on August 29 was the suspension of a contract with Meditech for a new electronic health record (EHR) system. Interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Wayne Allen estimates suspending the contract now will save the hospital at least $600,000. It could be more when the cost of lost employee time due to extended training hours is factored in.

The new Meditech system had been scheduled to be operational on July 1, but that deadline came and went. At the time of the contract suspension, the earliest Meditech's new EHR could go fully online was projected as February, 2020. MCDH already poured $700,000 into this EHR, all of it funded by Measure C parcel tax money.

At the end of May, 2019, MCDH's hospitalist, Dr. William Miller, noted that so many errors riddled the new EHR system, “I think we'd be better off staying with our current software.” This in light of Dr. Miller describing the current EHR at MCDH as really bad, “It's horrible.”

The likely long term reality: MCDH will affiliate with Adventist Health and the Adventists will pour several million dollars into aligning the coast hospital with their EHR, run by Cerner Corporation.

Readers should recall that the Meditech financial hole was voted in by the previous Board of Directors, of whom there is only one carry over member still serving.

Meanwhile, while yours truly vacated the premises for much of late July through mid-August on backpacking and hiking trips, I returned to some of the same old same old at Mendocino Coast District Hospital (MCDH). Rumors ran amok concerning internal MCDH Board of Directors strife, but what has transpired in mid to late August derived first from an anonymous letter sent to the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). That letter was then passed along to the MCDH Board President on August 13.

The crucial parts of the original complaint to the FPPC stated, “Ms. McCullough is a deposed witness for the plaintiff in an ongoing lawsuit (Hardind vs Coast Hospital)a MCDH. She has failed to recuse herself, despite being asked, from meetings where MCDH (defense) has been discussing it defense stragedies. As a witness for the plaintiff, this appears to be a very clear conflict of interest.

“Ms. McCullough has made legal (via deposition in Hardin vs Coast hospital) and public statements regarding not residing in the Mendocino Coast Hospital District. She has stated in various forms that she lives full time in San Francisco, work full time in San Francisco, has both her children enrolled in full time public schools in San Francisco. This is in direct conflict with Article III of the Boards Bylaws.”

Despite the numerous misspellings (much more than normal typographical errors), the complainant asked a question that has swirled since Amy McColley, a one time MCDH employee of more than a dozen years, was elected as one of four new MCDH Board members in November, 2018. McColley responded to the allegation on August 21: “I have not recused myself from any closed session items [at] the direction of the Health Care District Counsel, BBK [Best Best & Krieger]. I am using them as guidance, at this current time I have not identified myself to have ANY conflict with the Hardin Case.

“I provided a deposition on June 14, 2019; there [have] been no issues with the role I may have.”

Her response to the FPPC included a voicemail from one of the BB&K attorneys from January. It seems to communicate that the lawyer did not find a conflict of interest in regard to Ms. McColley's being a witness in the case of a former human resources officer at MCDH suing the hospital, its former chief executive officer (CEO), Bob Edwards, former chief financial officer (CFO), Wade Sturgeon, and then President of the MCDH Board of Directors, Steve Lund, as well as the hospital itself. The case is still ongoing in federal court in the Northern District of California.

The ill-prepared and clumsily executed letter also referenced Ms. McColley's work in San Francisco and questioned her residency within the Mendocino Coast Healthcare District. The same question also arose in a letter from a long time hospital observer. That letter was addressed directly to MCDH Board President Karen Arnold in mid-August. It contains virtually no spelling or grammatical errors, but it did again question how Ms. McColley can work for Sutter Health in San Francisco most weekdays and have at least two of her children enrolled full time in San Francisco schools while claiming residence on the Mendocino Coast.

This second letter of complaint cites the San Francisco Unified School District's application form for student enrollment, quoting its residency requirement: “In order to be enrolled in SFUSD, the student's parent/legal guardian must continually reside in San Francisco at the time of application and for the entire period of enrollment in SFUSD.”

The letter writer stated, “Ms. McColley cannot claim to be a resident of the Mendocino Healthcare District for the purpose of serving as a member of its Board, and claim to be a resident of San Francisco for the purpose of enrolling her children in San Francisco public schools.”

The letter cited the California Attorney General's ruling in a prior case in which the term “residence,” for voting purposes, was defined as a person's domicile, the place in which a person's habitation is fixed, wherein that person has the intention of remaining, and to which, whenever he or she is absent, the person has the intention of returning. This definition by the Attorney General concluded, “At any given time, a person may have only one domicile.”

Ms. McColley responded to this allegation citing San Francisco Unified's Administrative Regulation 5111.1 on special residency situations. It states, “A student shall be deemed to have complied with district residency requirements for enrollment in a district school if he/she meets any of the following criteria: The student's parent/guardian resides outside district boundaries but is employed within district boundaries and lives with the student at the place of employment for a minimum of three days during the school week.”

McColley also referenced further language in California Elections Code 349, omitted by the complaining letter writer: “The residence of a person is that place in which the person’s habitation is fixed for some period of time, but wherein he or she does not have the intention of remaining. At a given time, a person may have more than one residence.”

In her own words, McColley added, “I am temporarily residing in San Francisco for work purposes and for purposes of attending the local schools but my permanent residence [her emphasis] is in Mendocino Health Care District. It would be different if I had rented out my healthcare district house to someone else and didn't regularly sleep there, etc., but that is not the case.”

On August 28, the FPPC found insufficient evidence to pursue the matter addressed in the first letter. The following day the MCDH Board of Directors voted 4-0, with one abstention, to reject the complaint of the second letter.

This is not intended, by any means, to be an all out defense of Ms. McColley. This particular hospital board has seen its share of messiness; some self-imposed, some painted by outsiders who'd sooner see particular board members sullied than work toward saving the hospital from financial ruin.

This is a time of great change at MCDH. Change is often accompanied by a good deal of messy slop. There are other important matters on the horizon, like dealing with the required seismic retrofit of the hospital and finding a long term solution relating to labor and delivery services, but in the near future almost all this Board of Directors need do is negotiate the most favorable affiliation deal possible then step out of the way with as little mud-splatter on their reputations as possible.

* * *


(photo by Susie de Castro)

* * *


by Jim Shields

A woman who lives in Mendocino County now but was raised in Oregon, called me after reading last week’s column on the Measure V ordinance issue where Mendocino Redwood Company (MRC) is claiming it is exempt from its coverage.

Measure V was a voter-approved 2016 local ballot measure that mandated that trees killed by herbicides left standing for 90 days were a public nuisance. The measure was aimed at entities such as Mendocino Redwood Company (MRC) that use the “hack and squirt” process of injecting hardwoods, mostly tanoaks, with herbicides like Imazapyr, to kill them over time. The main objective of Measure V was to stop MRC from using the herbicide through the public nuisance enforcement mechanism.

I wrote that legally it appears that at least two state laws — the Right To Farm Act and the state Forestry Practices Act — appear to support that argument. I also speculated that politics, in the form of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s long-standing relationship with the Fisher family, who own MRC, could also play a role in the controversy.

It was this latter consideration that spurred the woman to call me. This is what she had to say.

“My father, one brother, and two uncles are or were employed in the timber industry. My other brother graduated from Oregon State with a degree in forestry and he now works as a state forester in Montana. I support the modern logging industry because of the positive changes that have been made over recent years, but I don’t support using herbicides that leave trees standing that are dead. No one should be poisoning our forests. If you’re right about MRC being exempt because of state laws, then those laws must be changed. But I don’t understand how the governor can get involved in this local problem because he truly has a conflict of interest through his friendship and campaign contributions from the Fishers and I’m assuming MRC. How does anybody know if he’s not behind the scenes pulling strings for them?”

I told her that Newsom is a savvy politician and I’m sure he’s smart enough to avoid exercising any direct influence in this matter that may run him afoul of conflict laws. But as she said, there’s the “behind the scenes” indirect ways to send a message in politics. That’s been the case forever. But I think this case is too high profile at this point for any monkey business occurring off-stage. We’ve already seen enough of that with the state Attorney General’s Office declining to render a legal opinion due to an unspecified conflict of interest.

Without a doubt the courts will be deciding the outcome of this dispute. A judge will resolve the jurisdictional and exemption arguments raised by the parties.

The only question likely to be left open after the courts rule is, what are we going to do with all those dead but upright trees?

Pot Ordinance Mess Is Still A Mess

Mark Scaramella, of the Anderson Valley Advertiser, reported that at this week’s BOS meeting, “Carre Brown managed to outdo Haschak when, responding to the Grand Jury’s blast at her and her colleagues, she cited the County’s pot licensing program as a success, a statement so at odds with that resounding failure it calls into question the Supervisor’s sanity.”

I like Carre Brown, I’ve known her for a long time, she’s served her constituents well. But she’s just just flat wrong on this pot stuff.

By any reasonable, empirical standard of policy evaluation or criteria the county’s Cannabis Ordinance is an abysmal failure. With the exception of county officials, I have yet to hear from anyone who thinks or claims it is a success. The legalization ordinance has been on the books for over three years and the record is clear and unambiguous. Cultivators have voted with their feet. Approximately 90 percent of farmers refuse to make application for a permit. By any definition that evasion of compliance constitutes a public policy and programmatic failure. There is no other conclusion that can be reached. The pot program is still a mess.

New State Regulation On Sprinklers

Want to let you know that the state has officially adopted new regulations that are estimated to save more than 400 million gallons of water per day within 10 years, enough to supply San Diego, the second largest city in the state.

The bad news is your yard sprinklers are about to get a little bit more expensive. The good news is, your water bill is about to get cheaper.

The state standards apply to new spray sprinkler bodies that are purchased or installed in California, beginning next year. A spray sprinkler body is basically the underground housing for a pop-up sprinkler in an automatic landscape irrigation system. Spray sprinklers are the leading type of irrigation for turf grass, and the typical life of a sprinkler body is a bit less than 10 years. It’s estimated that there are over 30 million sold in California every year for installation in new and existing turf areas.

California’s new regulation has been under development for nearly three years and is aligned with the voluntary EPA WaterSense specification for spray sprinklers that was finalized in 2018. Beginning in 2020, spray sprinklers will be required to be sold with a component that restricts the water flow to as close as possible to 30 pounds per square inch (PSI), the manufacturer-recommended level.

The pressure regulating component will add about $3 to the sprinkler’s price tag.

(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:

* * *


LEE EDMUNDSON WRITES: With all due respect, Rex Gressett wildly misrepresents the role Dan Gjerde — and Linda Ruffing for that matter — played in the positive turn around for the city of Fort Bragg, which for years had been plundered by the likes of Gary Milliman, Dominic Affinito, Roy Mitchell, Scott Cochran, Tom Lonegrin and others (pardon any spelling errors).

Fort Bragg was on the verge of bankruptcy, the streets were covered in potholes, Affinito had been allowed to build his “one story too tall” North Cliff motel while a corruption compliant city council went along to get along.

Gjerde was one of the three “clean sweep” candidates to replace the corrupt city council in 1998. In a rather brilliant campaign spear headed the by late activist Roanne Withers, Fort Bragg replaced three council representatives of dubious ethics with Gjerde, Michelle White and Vince Benedetti.

One of their first actions was to get rid of Planner Cochran, replacing him with Linda Ruffing, who at the time of her hiring was chief coastal planner for the County.

It should always be remembered that it was Gjerde, White and Benedetti who stood up to the “good Ole Boy” network that had run Fort Bragg (into the ground) for decades. Budgets were balanced, bankruptcy was averted, pot holes got filled, sidewalks widened, the city became steadfast.

James Madison wrote, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary”.

Dan Gjerde, we are still hopeful, after years of sitting in a minority on the Board of Supervisors, will reorient his focus and actions in light of the fact that he now has — since the beginning of this year — two progressive allies in Supervisors Haschak and Williams. Between the leadership of these three, Mendocino County should begin enjoying more enlightened progressive policies.

I do not recall ever hearing Mr. Gressett’s name, nor reading his byline, back in 1998 when Mr. Gjerde, among many others, was in the trenches fighting to save the city of Fort Bragg.

And what do you now have to show as a result of their hard fought efforts then?

ED NOTE: All true. On the Fort Bragg City Council, Gjerde was backed up by two absolute rocks — Michelle White and Vince Benedetti. As Supervisor, Gjerde began with two certifiably crazy guys and two jelly fish, one of whom, McCowen, occasionally roused himself to do the right thing. Williams has turned out to be an invaluable supervisor who has emboldened McCowen and steered Haschak in the direction of at last making the Supervisors more effective than they've been in forty years. Gjerde now has the equivalent of his former colleagues at Fort Bragg, Bennedetti and White, to finally begin reputable functioning. The coming election will probably give us another Potter Valley rep who takes political direction from the retro Farm Bureau, and McCowen may be defeated for re-election by the popular Ukiah City councilperson, Mo Mulheren who, so far, has no discernible opinions on county affairs and has the present state of Ukiah mitigating against her, that squalid drift of a town being best described by Tommy Wayne Kramer in his Sunday columns for the Ukiah Daily Journal. The Farm Bureau has one local issue — cheap water via the Potter Valley Diversion for downstream sons of the soil, especially the rapacious wine industry. Whatever McCowen's electoral fate, and whatever Diversion robot the Farm Bureau elects, the two new Supervisors will still be outnumbered, if Haschak continues to take his cues from the clearheaded Williams.

* * *


I’m no expert on the history of Ukiah but a seismic shift is underway in its economy. The days of pears and sheep ranches are long gone, and wine is an industry that does not develop large swaths of highly paid employees.

Into the dying mix of fruit and mutton, and apart from the vintner echelons, we are now seeing a mighty incoming tide of a corporate marijuana industry. Look a bit north and a genuine pot behemoth, Flow Kana, now stands where the Fetzer family, for generations, produced wine.

Another newcomer, this one supposedly with a Big Tobacco pedigree, will be moving into a new 120,000 square foot home, also north of town, across from Orr Springs Road.

A bit south we note the Redtail Ale brewing empire is gone, replaced by a marijuana facility that will do something, and lots of it, in a building of more than 63,000 square feet. (If you are good at math, add 120,000 and 63,000 together and get back to me. Sounds like a lot of bud, seeds, stems and square footage.)

Meanwhile, back in central Ukiah, we have marijuana outlets in various nooks, crannies and storefronts.

Weed, for as long as a lot of us remember and a fair number of us have been alive, has been a shadow economy that has floated local boats (shops, restaurants, car dealerships, real estate) for decades.

Today, black market marijuana is down with a wasting disease and may not survive.

And in its place we have legal marijuana, hence Flow Kana and the as-yet unnamed other pot-centric behemoths. No one knows what impact these will have on our local economy but just for starters I’d suggest we not anticipate that its employees will be 25-year old guys driving $70,000 pickups, peeling off hundred dollar bills to buy a few items of clothing from a downtown merchant and owning second homes in Belize and Hawaii. That is not the future of local weed.

A bigger, related question is this: How are we preparing for this new world? Until yesterday marijuana was illegal and thus an enterprise run by de facto criminals. Anyone growing it or selling it or carrying it to Kansas in the trunk of a car was by definition an outlaw.

(Tommy Wayne Kramer)

* * *


THE FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, and all the weekly fall magic that came with them, have gone out of small school football. Anderson Valley, where the Friday night game brought out much of the community for the better part of fifty years, gave up football for lack of interested players. Mendocino, Point Arena and Potter Valley, Boonville's big game rivals from way back, have also given up football, leaving Upper Lake, Laytonville, Tomales, Branson, Round Valley to field 8-man teams. Branson? Did we read that right? Yes, the tiny elite school tucked away among the old elms in America's wealthiest per capita community of Ross, took up 8-man just as nearly everyone else was giving up the game. Once a posh finishing school for debutants before they finished themselves off tethered to higher echelon diplomats and men who could keep them in country clubs, and always lushly endowed, Branson went co-ed in the early 80's and began passing out scholarships to athletes who could cut the rigorous academic mustard, and now are a Bay Area basketball power. Their 8-man football team? Undefeated over the four years they've competed. But up here behind the Green Curtain, it was high school football that created the weekend excitement for many years. I still miss the long Friday and Saturday nights Norman Clow and I called the games at the Boonville Fairgrounds where, at Fair time, we made our way through the wild horses and wilder bulls milling around at the foot of the tower. It's been at least a decade since Anderson Valley was a community in any true sense of the term, and the end of high school football and the potluck awards banquets and homecoming festivities that went with it were crucial to what made the Anderson Valley a community. Anymore, it's any place instead of a place, the place for us nostalgics.

THE ANDERSON VALLEY presents the big vistas in its sere summer hills, green in the winter, and it presents some small but important vistas, too, which include the old Mexican lady's flower garden at the Boonville apartments, Rod Balson's morning glories at the north end of Boonville and the small burst of sunflowers at the gate to the Navarro Winery. The vegetation almost hiding Boont Berry Farm and the spectacular bed of dahlias in front of the Redwood Drive-in are also a pair of spirit-lifters, as is the stately Boonville Hotel. What about the stark headquarters of the Boonville newspaper? We're working on it, This time next summer…

THE LATEST MASS SHOOTING, this one in Texas, occurred the Saturday before a package of Texas laws loosening gun restrictions goes into effect. Passed in August, the laws include one that will prohibit school districts from keeping firearms off their grounds if carried by staff into parking lots. Another one will allow licensed gun owners to take their weapons with them into "places of worship." (The Prince of Peace is certain to be delighted with this one.) Landlords will also not be allowed to prevent residents lawfully keeping firearms on their property. And so on, the whole package was celebrated by the NRA as “protecting your Second Amendment rights.”

ASK HELOISE. I did but couldn't find advice from the old girl on how to non-violently beat back ants. Yes, I take a positively Hindu position on the unnecessary killing of living creatures, including the amazing ant, captains of industrious insect life. But when they begin crawling all over my work station, even when a couple of them actually helped my punctuation, they've gone too far. Just as I was about to commit mass murder, a visitor recommended cinnamon as an effective non-violent ant deterrent. It worked. I sprinkled some in their path, instantly they were disoriented and began milling around in confusion, discipline in collapse, all purpose lost. Couple days later, though, they regrouped and came back. It then occurred to me that my housekeeping was the root of my ant problem. Having hit them again with cinnamon and a thorough cleaning of their apparent destination, they again retreated. And came back a third time. More cinnamon and they again disappeared, this time for good, but I'm not about to bet against them. PS. A penny in a vase of drooping tulips takes the droop right out of them, and gargling with vinegar stops hiccups. You're welcome.

KEN RETZER is an old ballplayer, a catcher with the Washington Senators, a major leaguer before the big expansion that propelled a lot of minor leaguers into the bigs. Ken said he made the major league minimum of $3500 a year. "I had to work in the off season but I lived pretty good during the season." The major league minimum for a rookie these days is $550,000.

(Ken Retzer after catching the opening pitch of the season from President John F. Kennedy in April of 1963)

Guys like Ken, and Vern Piver of Fort Bragg, just missed the big paydays. I got to know Ken when he took up the case of Mark Sprinkle after he read about Sprinkle in the AVA, shaking his head that any person could get as much time as Sprinkle got — 40-to-life — for 90 seconds of sexual touching, an episode initiated when three junior floozies suddenly took their clothes off in his car, and an episode Sprink denies the touching part of. What's most distressing to people like me and the old ballplayer, Ken Retzer, is the casual ignorance of the specifics of Sprink's case demonstrated by the State Parole Board and the prison shrinks, a casual, uninterested ignorance they have demonstrated for twenty years now. And added to by Mendo DA Eyster's dispatch of an assistant to argue against Sprink's parole several years ago, a gratuitous opposition that just happened to coincide with then-Assistant DA's weekend rendezvous with his wife in a B&B not far from Sprink's prison. The old ballplayer and I get despairing letters from Sprinkle who fully expects to die in prison, and here's a guy who was always employed when he was out, and would be employed again if he could get out. No point, other than institutional sadism, that he's still in.

* * *

MAJESTIC CEIBA TREE (ceiba pentandra) in Vieques, Puerto Rico.

* * *


In response to Julie Beardsley — “Regarding potential power outages by PG&E: if it is 103 degrees outside, and the power goes off for extended periods, there will be people who will experience high levels of stress and will develop a need for mental health services. There will be people like a 72 year old woman who lives alone and can’t open her garage door to get to a cooling station. A family with a special-needs family member or a bed-ridden family member. People may overwhelm the local Emergency Departments and available police assistance. Asking neighbors to help look out for each other is great, but not a solution.”

Indeed. Our “older adult” populations in both Mendocino and Lake Counties are “served” by an administrative structure in which the Area Agency on Aging is run by the Departments of Social Services under a Joint Powers Authority created in 2005, and which is the only such Agency operated by county governments (for further information refer to the Lake County Grand Jury’s 2018-2019 Report:

Senior center managers in Lake County have met with our Department of Social Services officials and representatives of law enforcement and fire protection districts to seek a system of communication with all dependent persons, some of whom are enrolled “participants” in the home-delivered meals program known as “Meals on Wheels” (which are required to meet state and local health regulations, especially focused on food safety).

In addition to these several hundred “socially isolated” individuals who are enrolled in the federal program through four of our seven centers (under sub-contract to the California Department of Aging), some 2,200 persons in Lake County are served by In-Home Supportive Service workers who are unionized under SEIU’s local chapter based in Ukiah.

During our meetings with Lake’s Department of Social Services staff (including the two persons administering the AAA state contracts in both counties), we learned that the communication with IHSS workers can only be achieved through the union, with whom we have, as yet, no direct connection. However, that effort is under way, by the Lucerne senior center volunteers who assist the Northshore communities’ enrollees (typically fewer than a hundred in our assigned territory).

We are, as “Meals on Wheels” program volunteers, given to understand that there will be no “cooling” centers provided to which the multiply-disabled program enrollees can turn under the circumstances you describe. Nor will there be relief delivered to the enrollees — whose capacities for self-care are already significantly limited — for providing counter measures to cope with an extended period of exacerbating powerlessness.

Our volunteers of course will attempt to contact enrollees for whom we take responsibility and provide whatever resources we can muster, continuously throughout any such period of duress (and follow up after power is restored), but we are additionally concerned for those disabled clients of the IHSS providers, who may not be aware of resources and issues created by the two county administrations’ response to the specific needs for “sheltering-in-place” or (Heaven forfend) rapid evacuation from an encroaching threat — which are not addressed by our Office of Emergency Services plans, but are clearly anticipated by LE/FPD management to add significant communication log-jams if PG&E carries out its stated potential shutdowns here.

According to Lake County Sheriff Brian Martin (on August 14), PG&E has advised their customers to call “9-1-1” if they are experiencing difficulties during a “Public Safety Power Shutdown” — which will overtax the limited dispatch capabilities of our existing workforce. Therefore we are directing our energies to first serve those for whom we have immediate knowledge and working relationships (senior center program enrollees), and seeking a means of supporting those who rely on IHSS services — if for no other reason than to provide scant resources to help the caregivers themselves, who will also be hard pressed to manage their own families and their clients under those conditions, with no help from County administrative officials.

Most assuredly, the advice provided by these officials is for us to help develop “neighbor” relations in proximity to the vulnerable and frail elderly who, in the population centers we serve, are already threatened by some of their feral neighbors.

Our “urbanized” neighborhoods are prey to a panoply of thugs, parolees, mentally-defective drug addicts — the sort that leave their used needles in the parks where daytime visitors include young children, and burn the rolls of toilet paper in our public restrooms for heat or for the hell of it (it’s hard to tell), causing the closure of these expensive facilities at night and leaving the worst-case members of our sick society out-and-about, often roaming the alleys and back yards of immobilized elders in search of anything they can turn around and sell for a resupply of their “substances” of choice — all of which seem abundantly available nowadays, despite the official expenditures of effort to reduce “opioid prescription” abuse.

Clearly anticipatable “challenges” such as provisions of food, water, and medical services are compounded for individuals dependent upon “electricity-driven, life-sustaining Durable Medical Equipment,” but we were assured by the Public Health Department’s disaster management coordinator that the vendors of such equipment will be responsible for the continued operation of such devices under losses of power.

All such users are advised to implement their own “action plans” (such as having backup power supplies and alternative treatment options) described in the pamphlet provided by the US Food & Drug Administration:

A much easier version is available from the Pacific ADA Center: “Emergency Power Planning for People Who Use Electricity and Battery Dependent Assistive Technology and Medical Devices” — but for some reason their website is not accessible today (*

The American Red Cross offers this support:

(most of which requires fully cognizant, able-bodied adults to apply).

The broader issues of coordinating local emergency services for vulnerable populations, where multiple agencies are in possession of salient facts about them that are protected by HIPPA regulations but no single agency is capable of transcending the restrictions to create action plans for their “Access and Functional Needs” and specialized services in “Care & Shelter Facilities” — both defined in Lake County’s Emergency Operation Plan “annexes” to address the difficulty of identifying where they are ahead of time — is addressed by the US Centers for Disease Control in this “Public Health Workbook: To Define, Locate, and Reach Special, Vulnerable, and At-Risk Populations in an Emergency”:

On this side of the Cow, we have advocated for the implementation of that process, preferably under the aegis of our Public Health Department working with all of the agencies who provide “first responder” and ancillary functions (CalFire, Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services, Fire Protection Districts, all law enforcement agencies, and so forth).

Much as we dread the new “lessons learned” that will emerge from an extended “Public Safety Power Shutdown” by our sole supplier of household electricity, we have to thank the stars above that the advent of this obnoxious new imposition on our peace of mind — such as it is, with every wisp of smoke “triggering” local Facebook users, and the sound of helicopters disrupting any sort of “normal” conversations and rapid reactions on everyone’s “hand-held devices” — has brought these subjects into the thus far behind-the-scenes discourse.

Your comments are not lost on this avid and devoted reader of the AVA, and to all of your readers, if you are concerned about these matters, please contact your local senior centers to learn more.

Betsy Cawn, The Essential Public Information Center

Upper Lake, CA

PS. A copy of the document (PDF) can be provided by the Lucerne Alpine Senior Center in response to an emailed request sent to: Please use the subject line “Request for ADA Pacific checklist.”

* * *

* * *


Press release from the Humboldt County Drug Task Force:

On August 31st, 2019, at approximately 12:30 a.m., special agents with the Humboldt County Drug Task Force (HCDTF), with the assistance of a narcotic detection K9 from the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office, and officers with the California Highway Patrol, conducted a traffic stop on Highway 254 near the town of Phillipsville. After a year-long investigation, HCDTF agents identified Fidel Alberto Contreras (age 35) as a key suspect in methamphetamine distribution throughout Humboldt County.


Through their investigation, agents were able to track Contreras to Southern California and believed that he was traveling back to Humboldt County with a significant amount of methamphetamine. As a result, agents were able to secure a search warrant for Contreras’ vehicle and his residence.

During the traffic stop, Contreras was detained without incident. The narcotics detection K9 was deployed and alerted to the presence of narcotics within the vehicle. Agents searched the vehicle and located approximately 20 pounds of suspected methamphetamine packaged for sales. Contreras was subsequently placed under arrest and booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility for possession and transportation of controlled substances. Agents obtained a 1275 PC hold on Contreras until a source of legitimate bail funds could be examined during a court hearing.

Agents then served a search warrant at Contreras’ residence (located in the 3300 block of High Street, Eureka) and located over $35,000 in U.S. Currency. This currency is believed to be profits from narcotics distribution and will be held pending future asset forfeiture proceedings.

This investigation has resulted in the largest one-time seizure of methamphetamine in the history of HCDTF.

* * *


by Norman de Vall

As soon as I got my first boat at age 12 or 13, I found in the backwaters of Los Angeles Harbor a scrapped steam schooner that had been reduced to a hollow shell stripped of anything metal or polished wood. I was fascinated thinking of the lives of the men who sailed her. But my collection of nautical memorabilia really began at age 14, when I was given the heavy brass Chelsea 24-hour clock, now being exhibited as part of Kelley House Museum’s “Wind & Water” exhibit.

Five years later in 1958, I was a cadet at the California Maritime Academy surrounded by maritime history, manner, vocabulary and expectation. Soon thereafter, I was a deckhand on the Oakland Estuary restoring the State Historical Ship fleet. For three years I worked aboard these old ships, including Wapama, C.A. Thayer, Eureka, Berkeley, San Leandro, Hercules and Alma.

de Vall, 1960

This was followed by joining the Seaman’s Union of the Pacific and the Inland Boatman’s Union working on tugs to dock ships into their berths. Much of what is in the exhibit was originally pulled from the debris bins on the piers.

Sailing on the weekends didn’t add much to the collection, but sailing eventually led me to the stevedore industry. By age 23 I was hired as a “stevedore superintendent.” My shifts for Matson Terminals supervised the work of as many as 200 longshoremen a night. Again the debris boxes and bins held collectibles.

Along the way, the U. C. Berkeley Main Library accidentally threw out 90 percent of the Bancroft’s map archive. By chance I knew who had emptied the garbage cans, having driven through Sather Gate at just the right moment, and eventually, I was able to return most of those lost. The Bancroft expressed their appreciation by allowing me to keep some that were duplicates plus gifting to me the Panama Pacific medallion commemorating the opening of the canal.

By now my dream was to “build or buy a sailing cargo ship.” Stevedoring enabled me to share the lives of longshoremen, crew members, masters, mates and pilots, but few had actually sailed. Those who had inspired something anew. Again, by good chance, I was asked to survey vessels in Iceland and Norway on my way to study stevedoring at the London School of Economics. En route, I came upon small sailing cargo ships, still able to carry out their reason for being, and so I initiated the FRI Project, which was to become “The last sailing cargo ship from North Europe to San Francisco.”

The Sailing Vessel (SV) Fri (pronounced “free”) was the last of many that might have so served, but Fri, laying in Aalborg, Denmark, had no match. She was by far the most ready to return to the open ocean. I obtained a 30-day option at .01 percent of her sale price (or $80). I then reached out to friends and family for the rest. One month later we owned a ship, nine months later we sailed from Copenhagen for Scotland, and five months later sailed through the Golden Gate into San Francisco.

After her oceanic crossing, Fri went on under a different owner to protest the French nuclear tests in the western Pacific. I returned to Mendocino as an “owner-builder” and, as a concerned citizen, eventually was elected to the Board of Supervisors to represent Mendocino’s Fifth District from 1979 to 1995.

Life has changed but I consider myself more a mariner than a land person. At sea, there are no guarantees of first responders.

“Wind & Water: The Nautical Collection of Norman de Vall” will be on display until Nov. 11, 2019, at Kelley House Museum, 45007 Albion St. in Mendocino. Hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday through Monday. Contact 707-937-5791 or

(Courtesy, the Kelley House Museum)

* * *

* * *


If you’re reading this while holding a newspaper in your hands, it means you are most likely a subscriber, and your delivery person did their job today.

Today, we’re asking for your help to keep that alive.

As written, Assembly Bill 5, the so-called “gig work bill” sponsored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, would have a devastating economic impact on countless California residents and businesses. It would be especially harmful for many (if not most) of our state’s newspapers, especially in smaller communities that rely so heavily on local journalism for their news.

This much is certain: AB5 is going to pass. It’s already sailed through the Assembly on a party-line 59-15 vote, and is certain to pass the Democrat-controlled state Senate next month. From there, it’ll just be a Gov. Gavin Newsom-signature away from becoming law.

But first, changes can, and must, be made. If not, the result will be economic chaos for many businesses as 2 million independent contractors are transformed overnight from independent contractors to employees.

The bill is based on the California Supreme Court’s Dynamex decision, which means companies must pass an “ABC” test to determine if a person is an independent contractor or not. Specifically, contractors must be free from company control; perform work not central to the company’s business; and, have an independent business in their industry.

In other words, you can pretty much forget about businesses being able to pass that test in a majority of cases. And the economic impact will be devastating.

We all know independent contract workers and we don’t disagree that many are deserving of employee status. But this bill goes too far, taking that decision out of the hands of thousands of contractors who enjoy the freedom offered by non-employee status.

Our industry, already reeling from years of declining ad revenue and skyrocketing production costs, would be among those hardest hit. There’s no other way to say it — this bill, as written, would put many newspapers out of business, with those in smaller communities being especially impacted.

Sharon DiMauro, a retired publisher from Mendocino County, once won a statewide “A newspaper is … ” contest with the words “A newspaper is … the closest anyone will ever get to holding democracy in their hands.” This bill threatens to rip that piece of democracy right out of our grip.

The people who deliver our newspapers are independent contractors. For most, it’s a supplemental source of income. Some are students and many are retired people looking to make a few extra dollars every month. They contract with us for the routes; if they’re unable to fill the routes on a given day, they hire somebody who can.

Delivering the paper is their business, operated on their terms. And many are delivering multiple newspapers on their routes.

The financial impact of those drivers becoming employees would be more than our industry could bare. Opportunities would be lost, eliminating much-needed supplemental income for the drivers who like the freedom of being their own bosses.

Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Yuba City), one of the “no” votes on AB5, spared no words in assessing the bill’s overall impact.

“It’s a bad bill. AB5 and the Dynamex decision are poised to completely upturn the way people work in California,” Gallagher said. “The flexibility, efficiency and benefits to workers will be eliminated. This situation allows power brokers in Sacramento to arbitrarily pick winners and losers — and that’s never a good thing. From truckers to franchise owners, many industries will be impacted.”

Fortunately, there’s still time for amendments. The California Newspaper Publishers Association is seeking a newspaper carrier exception, along with an amendment allowing newspapers to continue to use freelancers — the loss of which would have a devastating impact on our ability to report local news and events.

We recognize the need for many independent contractors to earn employee status. As written, this bill casts far too wide of a net and will end up driving too many businesses either out of state or out of operation.

Please join us in contacting your state representatives and party leaders to urge Gonzalez to add the CNPA amendment protecting the right of newspaper drivers and freelancers to work as independent contractors.

(K.C. Meadows, Editor, Ukiah Daily Journal; courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)

* * *

* * *

DINING TIP, an on-line enthusiast recommends,

The Navarro Store BBQ — AMAZING!! Why can't we have something of this caliber here? I had the tri-tip sandwich yesterday. Super fresh, large roll, warmed on the grill (had grill marks!), with super tender and flavorful sliced tri-tip. $10, or $12, if you add potato salad. It was huge and could barely eat half of it. Fresh condiments and a great choice of sauces, including some house-made ones. I saw some of the other stuff going out like burgers, and grilled dogs and everything looked equally as amazing. Tables on the deck and some under the redwoods. Worth the drive!

(Kim Taylor/Facebook)

* * *

* * *



Anyone who loves Sonoma County’s natural beauty has to be appalled by the recent story regarding the bulldozing and removal of 40 acres of oak woodlands and deep-ripping of more than 100 acres near Cloverdale for vineyard development. Destruction included pushing trees, brush and soil into natural water channels that empty into the Russian River and filling a wetland area.

The owner of the property, Hugh Reimers, whose company Krasilsa Pacific Farms undertook this woodland destruction, was formerly president of Foley Family Wines and Jackson Family Wines. Obliteration of this woodland was undertaken without any required permits and inspections. Reimers can hardly claim ignorance about proper regulations and procedures regarding land development.

One major question is whether some wine industry operators assume that they can ignore regulatory protections because the fines are simply part of doing business.

Full restoration of these illegally destroyed areas, in addition to hefty fines, needs to be the corrective action. Otherwise, the bad players in the wine industry will think Sonoma County’s natural woodlands and wetlands are fair and easy game for destruction.

Chris Stover


* * *


Bodwin, Fox, Hensley, Hopkins

IVY BODWIN, Ukaih. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

JOSHUA FOX, Ukiah. DUI, misdemeanor hit&run with property damage, suspended license, probation revocation.

CHARLES HENSLEY, Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation. (Frequent Flyer)

HUNTER HOPKINS, Covelo. Grossly negligent discharge of firearm.

Johnson, Lazcano-Hernandez, Robles-Baez


ERICK LAZCANO-HERNANDEZ, Oakland/Ukiah. DUI, controlled substance possession/sales.

REYNALDO ROBLES-BAEZ, Windsor. Suspended license (for DUI), controlled substance, resisting, probation revocation.

Ruiz, Whipple, Wiley

MARGARITO RUIZ, Lakeport/Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.

KOBEE WHIPPLE, Redwood Valley. DUI, person under 21 with blood alcohol of 0.01% or greater.

TRISTIN WILEY, Willits. Domestic battery, disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.

* * *

IN VIRTUALLY EVERY WESTERN SOCIETY in the 1960s there was a moral revolution, an abandonment of its entire traditional ethic of self-restraint. — Jonathan Sacks

* * *



Paul Encimer, who wrote the recent article about a Bad One, is full of it. I have been logging since 1960 and I have never seen so many young trees growing back right now, even after the Comptche fire.

The logging since 1974 has been very well guided with forestation and replanting and all kinds of other stuff that's good for the forest. So you better rewrite your story, Paul, because you are all screwed up.

Pat Patterson: I don't even know you. I never heard of you until I saw your name in the paper. I've never heard such crazy stuff in my life. So why don't you keep your mouth shut?

God bless Donald Trump.

Jerry Philbrick


PS. Governor Gruesome Newsom wants to save our country from wildfires? So why haven't they cut the grass along the highways, 128 and 253? It's taller than the roof of my car and right off the pavement. Dry grass. Why haven't they stopped the logging companies from decommissioning the roads in the forest when Calfire demanded that they do so. Most of them have been decommissioned and that means huge ditches put across them so they are untravelable. If there is a fire or a tragedy of some sort no vehicles can get to it except helicopters. It's a shame they did that to all the roads but that's Calfire and the environmentalists for you.

PPS. State parks are not parks anymore. They are an environmental refuge. Liberal environmentalists have gone around the country buying up parcels of land with our tax dollars and then semi-developing them into a park and then shutting them down for animals. People can walk in on trails down by Jughandle Bridge below Fort Bragg and there's a big sign that says beware: you travel this trail at your own risk, there are mountain lions. In Southern California they see mountain lions everywhere even next to school yards where the school kids are outside playing. A mountain lion can jump a fence with a 150 pound deer. Maybe one of those mountain lions will grab one of those kids or a teacher and jump the fence and they can follow a trail of clothing to a pile of bones where the mountain lion had lunch and then some grass and sticks will cover the bones so later it can come back and have supper and maybe one of those children or teachers will be a liberal environmentalist and that would be too great. Our parks are being turned into refuges for animals. I haven't seen a coon or a fox or a bobcat on Comptche Road especially at night for 15 years. That's because the environmentalists do not let anybody kill or dispose of animals with disease. They don't know the difference. These state parks people are so well armed that a lady got out of a pickup one time in front of the Comptche store from State Parks driving a brand-new $75,000 Chevy pickup and she had so much armament on that she had to use crutches to walk, no joke. So if you're going to a park like that where there's animals you can't have a weapon. Maybe you can use pepper spray which won't even stop a rabbit. The people running the state parks are thicker than the Highway Patrol and more populous than our Sheriff's department and they don't care if anybody's shot there. Oh no, as long as it's not one of theirs. So it's a joke what the state parks and beaches have become. Another administration tactic to control us. All that the stinking rotten California liberal Democrats have done is bought up all this land with our tax money and then shut them down to humans and welcomed animals and State Parks officials. It's another way to hire more cops. We have more State Parks people in the United States, especially California, than we have law enforcement and they call themselves law enforcement. It's a joke what the Democrats have done with our money. It's a joke. Try going into a state park in California and see what they say. They are shutting state parks down in Los Angeles and the rest of California. They prohibit people from going in them because of the mountain lions. Instead of thinning out the mountain lions they're thinning out the people. If you go into the State parks you will probably meet up with a woman with so many weapons on her that she will make one of Tom Allman's wonderful deputies looked like a stripped-down Boy Scout. They are allowed to have weapons because they don't want to be attacked by a mountain lion or a bear or a rabid skunk. So be careful that you don't get shot because they will bear down on you with a weapon if they see you camping with an animal and they will shoot your ass just because they have a weapon and would like to. So California's so-called leaders have got this country so screwed up that it's unbelievable. What really pisses me off is that nobody watches what the State does because they all believe that the state of California is above the law and they can do anything they want. Look on your computer and see how many acres of land the State Parks have acquired in Mendocino County. Every river is a state park. They bought thousands of acres of Big River and many thousands of acres of timberland for state parks. And Ten Mile river is a state park. And now they have moved in and are buying pieces of land away from the citizens with our tax money. They spent billions of dollars acquiring land and shutting it down to human beings with our tax money. You have been cheated on by your own tax money because you don't watch the state and you allow the liberal Democrats in office to do it. So it's all your fault. Or our fault. It's somebody's fault for not paying attention to the state and watching what they're doing.

* * *

“Thank goodness we finally have an Administration that speaks for those of us who don’t care what happens to the planet in a hundred years because we’ll be dead.”

* * *


The public and research support gun control. Here’s how it could help — and why it doesn’t pass.

* * *

* * *


by Juan José Millás (translated by Louis S. Bedrock)

A group of international writers, all of whom were Spanish speakers, was invited to an academic conference recently held at New York University. During the conference, a woman from the audience suddenly intervened. First she congratulated us for everything we had said up to that moment; then, she explained to us that she was Puerto Rican and earned her living in that city by cleaning office buildings at night.

I already knew about these women who would go into the huge buildings of the New York City bureaucracy when most people were in bed—and who spent the night wandering through those empty spaces dragging a vacuum cleaner or brandishing a cloth for the dust: my hotel was in front of one of these buildings and, since I used to get back to my hotel room late and unable to sleep, I would try to induce sleepiness by sipping the last glass of water of the day while contemplating the phantasmal activity taking place in the building across the street from the hotel at those hours.

The woman eloquently described the sense of defenselessness and solitude that came from getting into an elevator or going down the stairs in this ghostly ambience.

We were all fascinated by her story but also a little uncomfortable because we didn’t know where it was going. In the end, the woman reported that the majority of the women who cleaned offices at night suffered a state of permanent sexual harassment by their bosses, who were mostly white North Americans.

This final declaration was greeted by a long, uncomfortable silence that was eventually broken by the moderator of the conference, who pointed out that although this situation was terrible, it had nothing to do with the conference.

“Really? Nothing at all to do with the conference?” I asked myself as I faced the office building that was in front of my hotel.

Perhaps not, but it’s the only thing about that trip to New York that has managed to survive in my memory.

* * *

* * *

WORLD CLIMATE STRIKE DAY event on September 20th at Gualala Community Center.

Groups with tables:

  • The Ocean Foundation, Richard Charter
  • Mendonoma Whale and Seal Study
  • Friends of Gualala River
  • Zero Waste Mendocino
  • Sierra Club
  • Oz Farm
  • ACORN Partners in Education
  • Friends of Point Arena-Stornetta Lands
  • Redwood Coast Medical Services
  • Gualala River Park Campaign
  • Redwood Coast Land Conservancy
  • Anchor Bay Amateur Radio Club
  • B Corporations and Conscious Capitalism
  • Keepers of The Coast
  • Energy Table
  • Climate Science Education Table

Some Speakers

Richard Charter: a Senior Fellow with The Ocean Foundation and has been working for over three decades to ensure protection for fragile marine ecosystems and sensitive coastlines. Richard worked with bipartisan Members of Congress to maintain the 27-year annual renewal of an offshore drilling moratorium that previously protected the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and Bristol Bay in Alaska, in addition to securing a separate law which still protects the Gulf Coast and Panhandle of Florida from new offshore oil and gas leasing until at least 2022. Richard coordinated the local government support that originally led to the creation of the Gulf of the Farallones, Cordell Bank, Channel Islands, and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuaries, presently serves on the Gulf of the Farallones Sanctuary Advisory Council, and also has served on the U.S. Department of Energy?s Methane Hydrates Advisory Committee until kicked off by President Trump. Richard worked to help finalize the 2015 Obama White House declaration of permanent federal protection from offshore drilling for Alaska?s fishery-rich Bristol Bay. The designation by NOAA of a boundary expansion doubling the size of the Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries, a project Mr. Charter has long pursued, took place in 2015. Richard is currently working to protect existing Sanctuary boundaries now under review, advance three new National Marine Sanctuaries along the California coastline, to protect the Biscayne Bay Coral Reef Preserve from being overturned, and to prevent the Trump Administration from now opening the Arctic Ocean, the California Coast, and the Atlantic Coast to offshore drilling.

Ted Williams: Mendocino County 5th District Supervisor. As a kid growing up in Comptche, sitting at a primitive computer powered by solar panels, I never envisioned being compensated as a software programmer. After more than two decades of professional experience, I still wake in amazement, eager to solve problems. My career has largely focused on embedded systems and challenges inherent in smart devices. In 2011, I took the role of Fire Chief of Albion. In 2015, a group of concerned citizens asked me to join a Timber Harvest Plan field presentation hosted by applicant Mendocino Redwood Company. Initially I was reluctant to participate, but seeing that the fire district was the only form of local government, I quietly enjoyed the tour and listened carefully. A group of us, including retired CalFire Air Attack Captain Kirk Van Patten, assembled a committee and authored the text of Measure V, a county wide ordinance requiring timely cleanup of intentionally killed and left standing trees.

Rietta Hohman: is on the education team for the Greater Farallones Association, where she develops marine science curriculum and coordinates the At Your School Marine Science Outreach Program and the Marine Explorers Summer Camp. Rietta has a B.S. in Biology from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and is currently earning her M.S. in Environmental Management from the University of San Francisco. She is a SCUBA instructor and scientific diver, working with various institutions such as Bodega Marine Lab, the Tahoe Environmental Research Center, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Reef Check, and the Southwest Fisheries Science in Santa Cruz.

Scott Mercer: Scott began researching marine mammals in 1974 with a 2-year study of the feeding ecology of the California sea otter. Scott studied Invertebrate Marine Zoology in order to be able to identify what the sea otters were bringing to the surface to consume. In the late 1970s, Scott moved back to his native northern New England and in 1978 founded New England Whale Watch, the only whale watch north of Boston and the only biologist-owned company. Scott was also a Major Contributor to the Catalogues of Identified Individuals for humpback, finback, and North Atlantic right whales. He flew aerial surveys for the New England Aquarium for right whales of the S.E. Coast of the US. He coauthored The Great Whale Book in 1982 with two colleagues at the University of New Hampshire and taught a marine mammal class there for 14 years. He cofounded the Brier Island Ocean Study Research Station on Brier Island Nova Scotia, Canada. He led winter expeditions in the British Virgin Islands for humpback whales and coral reef study.

"We can't save the world by playing by the rules because the rules have to be changed. Everything needs to change. And it has to start today."

Greta Thunberg, an inspirational TEDx talk by a 16 year-old Swedish girl about global warming

* * *


"When Bert [Lahr] appeared on set [in Cowardly Lion costume made out of a real slaughtered lion], it set Judy [Garland] off giggling and she couldn't stop, probably because of the amphetamine pills the studio issued everyone, maybe only because she was a little girl and Bert was funny, and Victor [Fleming, director], also see amphetamine, ya know, savagely slaps her face and he bellows at her to CUT IT OUT. And that's the magic of Hollywood."

The recording of Friday night's (2019-08-30) Labor Day Weekend Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show on KNYO-LP Fort Bragg and KMEC-LP Ukiah is available by one or two clicks, depending on whether you want to listen to it now or download it and keep it for later and, speaking of which, it's right here:

Besides all that, at you can find a fresh batch of dozens of links to not necessarily radio-useful but nonetheless worthwhile educational items I set aside for you while gathering the show together. Such as:

The Lost Sheep. An orchestral composition by Adrian Munsey.

Fishing with fire. Shockingly beautiful though it's greedy cheating. This works on people, too. Substitute your own analogy for the fire and for the cadre of hornswogglers and the thousands and thousands of doomed suckers.

"Featuring Duncan Renaldo as Jose."

And a song made of the dickheaded youtube comments this talented songwriter gets.

Marco McClean,,

* * *


by Jon Schwarz

“Official Secrets,” which opened Friday in New York and Los Angeles, is the best movie ever made about how the Iraq War happened. It’s startlingly accurate, and because of that, it’s equally inspiring, demoralizing, hopeful, and enraging. Please go see it.

It’s been forgotten now, but the Iraq War and its abominable consequences — the hundreds of thousands of deaths, the rise of the Islamic State group, the nightmare oozing into Syria, arguably the presidency of Donald Trump — almost didn’t happen.

In the weeks before the US-led invasion on March 19, 2003, the American and British case for war was collapsing. It looked like a badly made jalopy, its engine smoking and various parts falling off as it trundled erratically down the road.

For this brief moment, the George W. Bush administration appeared to have overreached. It would be extremely tough for the US to invade without the UK, its faithful Mini-Me, at its side. But in the UK, the idea of war without approval from the United Nations Security Council was deeply unpopular. Moreover, we now know that Peter Goldsmith, the British attorney general, had told Prime Minister Tony Blair that an Iraq resolution passed by the Security Council in November 2002 “does not authorize the use of military force without a further determination by the Security Council.” (The top lawyer at the Foreign Office, the British equivalent of the US State Department, put it even more strongly: “To use force without Security Council authority would amount to the crime of aggression.”) So Blair was desperate to get a thumbs-up from the UN. Yet to everyone’s surprise, the 15-country Security Council remained recalcitrant.

On March 1, the UK Observer threw a grenade into this extraordinarily fraught situation: a leaked January 31 email from a National Security Agency manager. The NSA manager was demanding a full court espionage press on the members of the Security Council — “minus US and GBR of course,” the manager jocularly said — as well as non-Security Council countries who might be producing useful chatter.

What this demonstrated was that Bush and Blair, who had both said they wanted the Security Council to hold an up or down vote on a resolution giving a legal stamp of approval for war, were bluffing. They knew they were losing. It showed that while they claimed they had to invade Iraq because they cared so much about upholding the effectiveness of the UN, they were happy to pressure fellow UN members, up to and including the collection of blackmail material. It proved the NSA plan was unusual enough that, somewhere in the labyrinthine intelligence world, someone was upset enough that he or she was willing to risk going to prison for a long time.

That person was Katharine Gun.

Played craftily in “Official Secrets” by Keira Knightley, Gun was a translator at the General Communications Headquarters, the British equivalent of the NSA. On one level, “Official Secrets” is a straightforward, suspenseful drama about her. You learn how she got the email, why she leaked it, how she did it, why she soon confessed, the horrendous consequences she faced, and the unique legal strategy that forced the British government to drop all charges against her. At the time, Daniel Ellsberg said her actions were “more timely and potentially more important than the Pentagon Papers … truth-telling like this can stop a war.”

On a subtler level, the film asks this question: Why didn’t the leak make a true difference? Yes, it contributed to opposition to the US and UK on the Security Council, which never voted on another Iraq resolution, because Bush and Blair knew they would lose. Yet Blair was able to shrug this off and obtain a vote by the British Parliament several weeks later endorsing his war.

There is one main answer to this question, both in “Official Secrets” and reality: the US corporate media. “Official Secrets” helps illustrate the ideological malfeasance by the American press, which eagerly jumped on this grenade to save its foxhole buddies in the Bush administration.

It’s easy to imagine a different history than the one we’ve lived. British politicians, like American ones, are loath to criticize their intelligence agencies. But serious follow-up on the Observer story by the elite US media would have generated attention from members of the US Congress. This in turn would have opened up space for British members of Parliament opposed to an invasion to ask what on earth was going on? The rationale for war was disintegrating so quickly that even some modest delay could easily have become indefinite postponement. Bush and Blair both knew this, and it’s why they pushed ahead so relentlessly.

But in this world, the New York Times published literally nothing about the NSA leak between the date of its publication in the UK and the start of the war almost three weeks later. The Washington Post placed a single 500-word article on page A17. Its headline: “Spying Report No Shock to UN” The Los Angeles Times similarly ran one piece before the war, the headline of which explained, “Forgery or no, some say it’s nothing to get worked up about.” This article gave space to the former counsel of the CIA to suggest that the email was not real.

This was the most fruitful line of attack on the Observer’s story. As “Official Secrets” shows, American television was initially quite interested in putting one of the Observer reporters on air. These invitations quickly evaporated as the Drudge Report splashed claims that the email was obviously fake. Why? Because it used British spellings of words, such as “favourable,” and hence couldn’t have been written by an American.

In reality, the original leak to the Observer used American spellings, but before publication the paper’s support staff had accidentally changed them to British versions without the reporters noticing. And as usual when faced with an attack from the right-wing, television networks in the US cowered in abject terror. By the time the spelling minutiae was straightened out, they’d sprinted a thousand miles away from the Observer’s scoop and had zero interest in revisiting it.

The little attention the story got was largely thanks to the journalist and activist Norman Solomon, and the organization he founded, the Institute for Public Accuracy, or IPA. Solomon had traveled to Baghdad just months before and co-written the book “Target Iraq: What the News Media Didn’t Tell You,” which came out in late January 2003.

Today, Solomon remembers that “I felt instant kinship — and, actually, what I’d describe as love — for whoever had taken the enormous risk of revealing the NSA memo. Of course, at the time I was clueless about who’d done it.” He soon penned a syndicated column titled “American Media Dodging UN Surveillance Story.”

Why hadn’t the paper of record covered it?, Solomon asked Alison Smale, then a deputy foreign editor at the New York Times. “It’s not that we haven’t been interested,” Smale told him. The problem was that “we could get no confirmation or comment” about the NSA email from US officials. But “we are still definitely looking into it,” said Smale. “It’s not that we’re not.”

The Times never mentioned Gun until January 2004, 10 months later. Even then, it didn’t appear in the news section. Instead, thanks to urging from IPA, Times columnist Bob Herbert looked into the story, and, perplexed that the news editors had passed, took it on himself.

Now, at this point you may want to collapse from despair. But don’t. Because here’s the unbelievable rest of the story — something so complex and improbable that it doesn’t appear in “Official Secrets” at all.

Why did Gun decide she had to leak the NSA email? Only recently has she revealed some of her key motivation.

“I was already very suspicious about the arguments for war,” she says via email. So she went to a bookstore and headed to the politics section and looked for something about Iraq. She bought two books and read them cover to cover that weekend. Together they “basically convinced me that there was no real evidence for this war.”

One of these books was “War Plan Iraq: Ten Reasons Against War on Iraq” by Milan Rai. The second was “Target Iraq,” the book co-authored by Solomon.

“Target Iraq” was published by Context Books, a tiny company that went bankrupt soon afterwards. It arrived in stores just weeks before Gun found it. Within days after she read it, the January 31 NSA email appeared in her inbox, and she quickly decided what she had to do.

“I was stunned to hear Katharine say that the ‘Target Iraq’ book had influenced her decision to reveal the NSA memo,” Solomon now says. “I didn’t know how to quite fathom [it].”

What does all this mean?

For journalists who care about journalism, it means that, while you may often feel that you’re shouting pointlessly into the wind, you can never predict who your work will reach and how it will affect them. The people inside giant, powerful institutions are not all supervillains in impermeable bubbles. Most are regular human beings who live in the same world as everyone else and, like everyone else, are struggling to do the right thing as they see it. Take seriously the chance that you are communicating with someone who might take action you’d never expect.

For nonjournalists and journalists alike, the lesson is also this: Be not downhearted. Both Solomon and Gun remain deeply distressed that they did everything they could imagine doing to stop the Iraq War, and it happened anyway. “I feel gratified that a book I co-wrote had such ripple effects,” says Solomon. “At the same time, I truly feel it hardly matters what I feel.”

But I think that Gun and Solomon’s sense of failure is the wrong way of looking at what they did and what others can do. The people who tried to stop the Vietnam War only succeeded after millions had died, and many of those writers and activists saw themselves as failures too. But in the 1980s, when factions of the Reagan administration wanted to conduct full-scale invasions in Latin America, they couldn’t get it off the ground because of the base of organization and knowledge created years earlier. The bitter fact that the U.S. settled for its second choice — unleashing death squads that slaughtered tens of thousands across the region — doesn’t mean that Vietnam-style carpet bombing wouldn’t have been much worse.

Likewise, Gun, Solomon and the millions of people who fought the onrushing Iraq War failed, in some sense. But anyone who was paying attention then knew that Iraq was intended as just the first step in a US conquest of the entire Middle East. They didn’t prevent the Iraq War. But they, at least so far, helped prevent the Iran War.

So check out “Official Secrets” as soon as it appears in a theater near you. You will rarely see a better portrait of what it means for someone to try to make a true moral choice, even when unsure, even while terrified, even when she has no idea what will happen next.


* * *



  1. George Hollister September 2, 2019

    “The only question likely to be left open after the courts rule is, what are we going to do with all those dead but upright trees?”

    If the dead trees are tan oak, which most are, they rot, wither, fall over and disappear in a short time. Standing dead madrone, and Douglas fir can be standing for many years. The dead madrone has little fine fuel to offer. Standing dead grand fir rots fairly quickly, but not as fast tan oak.

    So most of these dead upright trees are in a continuum of being here today, and being turned into forest humus tomorrow.

    • Louis Bedrock September 2, 2019

      “…what are we going to do with all those dead but upright trees?”

      Perhaps we could hang some of the people who got rich by killing trees from them.

  2. George Hollister September 2, 2019

    ASK HELOISE. Bruce, get rid of the food the ants are coming after.

  3. Harvey Reading September 2, 2019


    What a bunch of baloney. I hope the bill becomes law and puts the crooks who hire so-called independent contractors to avoid paying a living wage, contributing to Social Security, and providing benefits out of business, and for good. I hope it rids the state of my birth of the shame its increasingly “gig” economy.

    POWER TO WORKERS! Damn greedy, crooked employers! The latter deserve NO SYMPATHY from the Working Class.

  4. Marshall Newman September 2, 2019

    Found Object: Donald Trump’s remedy for bedbugs at Mar-A-Lago.

  5. Harvey Reading September 2, 2019

    I , along with thousands of others in Sacramento County, was going to Costco (then called Price Club before it merged with Costco up north), and loving it, as early as 1982 or ’83. Who printed up this one? Some damned Generation X-er?

  6. Harvey Reading September 2, 2019


    Completely overstated conservative BS. As far as I am concerned, it would have been great if it had really happened.

    • Harvey Reading September 2, 2019

      Found Object

      Trump’s brain.

    • Harvey Reading September 2, 2019

      Aren’t you the one who recently swore she would never, ever respond to another of my comments?

  7. Harvey Reading September 2, 2019


    What about the lies the scumbag, Pappy Bush, told about his war against Iraq? Does the name, April Glaspie, ring a bell to any of you old conservatives? Does the lie about Iraqis dragging out Kuwaiti incubator babies and killing them, courtesy of the PR firm, Hill and Knowlton?

  8. Harvey Reading September 2, 2019

    Found Object

    Trump’s brain.

  9. Lazarus September 2, 2019

    Found Object

    So far, Florida Fake News.

    • Randy Burke September 2, 2019

      FOUND OBJECT: And his brain (that he has one is subject to debate) is “LABORATED”

  10. James Marmon September 2, 2019


    “Carre Brown managed to outdo Haschak when, responding to the Grand Jury’s blast at her and her colleagues, she cited the County’s pot licensing program as a success, a statement so at odds with that resounding failure it calls into question the Supervisor’s sanity.”

    They do that all the time, they try to control the narrative and do a pretty good job at it. The privatized mental health system is a prime example as to how they spin everything. The number of Crisis Assessments and Hospitalizations have exploded since its conception and yet they will use those same numbers claiming success. Dan Gjerde thinks those numbers are good and is willing to push that narrative forward whenever he can. If the system was doing so great those numbers would be decreasing, not increasing. Those are not good numbers folks, not good at all.

    Why are those number increasing and where’s the money Camille?

    James Marmon MSW
    Former Mental Health Specialist
    Sacramento, Placer, and Lake Counties

    • James Marmon September 2, 2019

      I have a pretty good idea why the numbers are increasing, and that’s Sheriff Allman.


    • Mark Scaramella September 2, 2019

      Which numbers? From whom? Kempers? I’d be willing to hazard a guess (as I’m sure you would) and re-raise the question if you’d tell us what the numbers are for what period and what the source was. I don’t recall seeing any number pre-privatization. I don’t trust any of their numbers and would certainly not hazard a guess without the numbers you refer to. (However, I suspect that the numbers are connected in some way to the amount of money being spent…)

      • James Marmon September 2, 2019

        What caused the Crisis Assessment boom. Allman went nuts after Neuroth died in his jail and forced all law enforcement agencies to get all arrestee’s medical and psychological clearance before booking them in his jail. That’s when he decided to go after the sales tax, now known as measure b. You were all scammed folks.

        “Steven Neuroth, 55, of Ukiah died after his June 11, 2014 arrest when he was being held face-down on the ground, with his hands handcuffed and ankles shackled, by law enforcement officers in a sobering cell at the Mendocino County Jail as a medical staff member watched.”

        “Notwithstanding where crisis assessments are conducted, most interventions leading to mental health crisis assessments involve law enforcement personnel with either the County Sheriff or one of the city police departments.”

        -Lee Kemper

  11. Jeff Fox September 2, 2019

    RE: Hugh Reimers of Krasilsa Pacific Farms, the writer states “Full restoration of these illegally destroyed areas, in addition to hefty fines, needs to be the corrective action. Otherwise, the bad players in the wine industry will think Sonoma County’s natural woodlands and wetlands are fair and easy game for destruction.”

    Sorry, that will NOT do a damn thing to stop the bad players. It won’t even slow them down. Just look at the Rhys vineyards situation near Laytonville. Destroying land first without permits or environmental review and “mitigating” later (if and only if you get caught) is the standard MO for this industry. As long as these types can get away with their crimes by writing a check or two for a few fines and bogus “restoration” projects, they will continue this behavior. What’s needed is jail time, confiscation of all land, equipment and infrastructure related to the criminal activity, and a lifetime ban from the vineyard business. These people won’t stop bad behavior when all they have to do is write a check. Like any sociopath, the consequences need to be sufficient to prevent antisocial behavior, or the behavior will continue.

    • Stephen Rosenthal September 2, 2019

      Couldn’t agree more.

  12. James Marmon September 2, 2019

    5150’s costly to the county
    PUBLISHED: February 18, 2016

    Mendocino County has seen a dramatic increase in emergency room visits by people placed on ‘5150 holds’ – admissions of people with mental health conditions posing a danger to themselves, others or considered severely disabling – rising from 107 visits in 2011 to 417 visits in 2015.

    These figures are part of critics’ argument that the county’s mental health system has fallen behind in treating those in most serious need of help, a symptom of waiting until mental health crises have reached their most severe and expensive stage.

    The 417 visits include 273 at Ukiah Valley Medical Center, 79 at Mendocino Coast District Hospital, and 66 at Howard Hospital in WIlltis.

    Emergency Crisis Assessments FY 2016-17 and FY 2017-18

    Ukiah Valley Medical Center 708 – 742
    Crisis Center-Walk Ins 491- 798
    Mendocino Coast District Hospital 235- 270
    Howard Memorial Hospital 209- 233


  13. Jim Armstrong September 2, 2019

    Apropos of nothing, but I can’t keep from shaking my head at the poor 14 year old entrepreneur who got busted at Ukiah High School for helping big pharma blanket the US.
    I envision a bunch of cops doing the cuffing and body search thing and hauling him off to Juvenile Hall.
    When the staff there found contraband that the cops had missed, the cops added the charge of bringing drugs into a correctional facility to the kids sheet.
    UDJ 8/29/19

    • Randy Burke September 2, 2019

      Lauren is really kicking it out o’ the park. Great mural, and good update. Thanks

  14. John Robert September 3, 2019


    Twenty years ago Dan Gjerde rode the coat tails of White and Benedetti. Was easy to look good, fresh faced when being held up to the corrupt good old boys back then.

    What has he accomplished for our district or for the working families in our county since. Not much other than remain irrelevantly non-confrontational, securing his place at the trough.

    Linda Ruffing and Kendal Smith are guaranteed to be written into the history books as corrupt money grubbing political buffoons. Gjerde follows.

    Relevance is now we have Rex Gressett here focusing his acute sense of bullshittery radar on our village. Gruff yes but, honest common sense assessments.

    New voters, new generation. Twenty years of Gjerde dodging constituents, hiding his mental shortcomings is long enough. As Hamburg went Williams so should Gjerde go…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *