- Heat & Smoke
- Collision Rollover
- Fair Weekend
- Fire Starter
- FB Headlands
- Wildlife Management
- Cop Coffee
- EOA DOA
- Vaccination Rates
- Ask Me
- Phase I
- Remembering Vern
- Make English
- Quiz Night
- Big Kitty
- Ed Notes
- Manhattan Farmhouse
- Publisher's Note
- Leaven Truth
- Yesterday's Catch
- Cremated Remains
- Miles Playboy
- Downtown Ukiah
- Whimsy Art
- Fire Somebody
- County Vacancies
- In Memoriam
- Symphony Concerts
- Huge Brain
- Bloom Blast
- Betty Ong
- Found Object
HOT TEMPS FOR THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS in the mid to high 90s. Returning to moderate summer temps in the 80s on Sunday and into next week. Overnight temps in the 50s. Cooler on the Coast.
SMOKE FROM WILDFIRES to the north and east is blowing in and smudging the horizon today. The most likely culprit is the Walker Fire, which is burning in the northern Sierras (Plumas County), has consumed 48,507 acres, and is only 28% contained.
UPCOMING: "Warm and dry weather will continue inland through Saturday, while coastal areas will continue to see areas of marine cloudiness during the nights and mornings. Wet weather will likely arrive on Sunday north of Cape Mendocino, with more widespread showers and cooler temperatures lingering through Monday." (National Weather Service)
A COLLISION near the junction of 128 and 253 this morning (Wednesday) closed the two roads in both direction for about thirty minutes. It took two large-vehicle tow trucks and one regular size to right the propane truck. Miraculously, no one, of the three persons involved, was seriously injured.
CHP Presser: On Wednesday, September 11, 2019 just before 10 AM, Michael Sobeleski, 65, of Philo, was driving his 2014 Volvo westbound on Highway 128 approaching the intersection of Highway 253 at approximately 55 mph. Robert Leek, 48, of Ukiah, was driving a Suburban propane truck and pulling a propane trailer eastbound on Highway 128 approaching the intersection of Highway 253 and was slowing to make a left turn on to Highway 253. Mr. Leek observed Mr. Sobeleski's Volvo cross over the solid double yellow lines and enter the eastbound traffic lane from the westbound traffic lane. Mr. Leek attempted to avoid a collision by steering the propane truck to the right shoulder of Highway 128. Mr. Sobeleski’s Volvo struck the propane truck and trailer in the eastbound traffic lane. After the collision, Mr. Sobeleski’s Volvo rolled over and came to rest in the westbound lanes of Highway 128. Mr. Sobeleski suffered minor injuries and was taken to Ukiah Valley Medical Center. Mr. Leek declined medical assistance.
THE FAIR IS THIS WEEKEND!
Tomorrow is the deadline for the parade entries and you still have time to pull together a fun, serious or beautiful entry.
The Fair Scavenger Hunt is Saturday from 12:00 - 4:00 or as soon as one hundred 2 - 12 years olds have won an ice cream! Come to the front entrance of the fair to get your first clue and find 6 more clues in different areas of the fair to win an ice cream.
The "Freaky Fruit" or "The One That Got Away" entries can be brought in anytime between tomorrow and 1:00 on Sunday. Judging starts at 1:30 and you can come cheer (which will determine the winner) even if you haven't entered anything!
See you at the fair!!
— Donna Pierson-Pugh/For The Fair Boosters
SPOTTED AT GLASS BEACH: BELTED KINGFISHER
2018 RANCH FIRE WAS ACCIDENTALLY STARTED BY TRYING TO GET RID OF WASPS
by Jim Shields
The 2018 Ranch fire was the largest wildfire in California history, scorching over 410,000 acres throughout Colusa, Glenn, Lake and Mendocino counties.
The Ranch fire was one of two fires, the other being the River fire, that made up the Mendocino Complex fire. Combined with the River fire, the Mendocino Complex fire burned over 459,000 acres.
The fire started on July 27, 2018 near Upper Lake in Lake County.
In June of this year, Calfire released the results of its investigation.
The report stated, "After a meticulous and thorough investigation, Calfire has determined that the Ranch fire was caused by a spark or hot metal fragment landing in a receptive fuel bed. The spark or hot metal fragment came from a hammer driving a metal stake into the ground. The tinder dry vegetation and red flag conditions consisting of strong winds, low humidity and hot temperatures caused an extreme rate of spread which caused the fire to grow rapidly."
At that time no further details were revealed such as who was responsible for driving the metal stake in the ground and what was the reason for doing so.
Investigators now say the Ranch fire started when a rancher came upon a nest of wasps buried underground last July. The rancher, Glenn Kyle, is allergic to wasp stings, so he took a metal stake and pounded it into the ground to try to seal the nest off. Unfortunately, a single spark flew up and ignited dry grass on his property.
And the rest as they say is now history.
The fire destroyed 280 structures and resulted in the death of one firefighter and three firefighter injuries. During 2018 more than 7,571 wildfires burned over 1.8 million acres of land in California.
THE FUTURE OF FORT BRAGG HEADLANDS, Presentation This Thursday, Sept 12, 6 pm
Some details are below, and the link to the color flyer is here:
Fort Bragg Headlands Consortium
Mill Site Presentation
Thursday, September 12, 6 pm
Town Hall, Fort Bragg
The Fort Bragg Headlands comprise a third of our city and its fate is being decided through the current planning process. The Fort Bragg Headlands Consortium provides science and information to help the discussion.
We gave a short presentation to City Council and the Planning Commission on March 21st (the first 15 minutes of this video)
…and Mayor Lee invited us to give an extended presentation to the community later. That presentation is scheduled for this Thursday, Sept 12 at 6pm in Town Hall. It will include an opportunity for a structured and civil community discussion. We hope you can come!
Please visit our new website, fortbraggheadlandsconsortium.org
MENDOCINO COUNTY WILDLIFE TRAPPING PROGRAM MEETING
September 18, 6:30 - 8:30 pm
Caspar Community Center
Non-lethal Wildlife Alliance
Mendocino County currently faces a decision of whether to keep needlessly killing wildlife, or to adopt a more science-based and compassionate non-lethal approach to resolving conflicts between humans and our wild neighbors. Project Coyote Founder and Executive Director Camilla Fox will introduce the issues at this open community forum. She will be joined by wildlife ecologist and founder of the Yellowstone Ecological Research Center, Dr. Robert Crabtree.
Dr. Crabtree will discuss why native carnivores matter, their role in keeping ecosystems resilient and healthy, how traditional predator control methods can be counterproductive and ecologically destructive, and why non-lethal approaches are proving effective in communities across the country.
Doors open at 6:30 pm, with live music from local musician Rosebud Ireland; Speakers begin at 7:00 pm. Q&A session to follow. This event is FREE and the public is encouraged to attend to learn about this critical decision facing the Mendocino Board of Supervisors. For more information contact Mendocino Non-lethal Wildlife Alliance at: email@example.com or (707) 391-7624
COPS & COFFEE
On Wednesday, October 2, 2019, from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., the Fort Bragg Police Department will partner with our local Starbucks to present a Coffee with a Cop event to coincide with National Coffee with a Cop Day, scheduled annually for the first Wednesday in October.
Coffee with a Cop Day was established in 2011 by the Hawthorne Police Department in California in an attempt to interact more successfully with the citizens they served each day. The event is intended to allow the public to interact with law enforcement on a personal level in a relaxed environment with participants being encouraged to have honest conversations about their community.
For this event Starbucks will be providing coffee and snacks to those individuals participating in the discussion, with members of the Fort Bragg Police Department present to answer questions and address concerns. The Police Department hopes to have some of our newer Officers on-hand alongside some of our veteran Officers so the community can express their expectations for our local law enforcement.
Other coffee shops, diners or organizations interested in hosting similar events may contact Sergeant O’Neal at (707) 961-2800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
IT’S OFFICIAL: THE EOA IS DOA
(as we suspected it would be for years)
Subject: RFP #56-17 Exclusive Emergency Ambulance Service Operator for the Exclusive Operating Area.
The County of Mendocino received one proposal in response to RFP 56-17; this one proposal was determined to be non-responsive. At this time, the competitive process regarding RFP 56-17 has concluded and the Board of Supervisors is no longer pursuing an Exclusive Operating Area for Emergency Medical Services. The County of Mendocino would like to thank all of those that participated in the process.
The Mendocino County Executive Office
Mark Scaramella Notes: Now that the County has finally admitted that the Exclusive Operating Area for ambulance service is no longer an option, County officials are scrambling to figure out, What now? A sales tax is being discussed. A county-wide ambulance district is being discussed. A Ukiah-centric option is being discussed. Ukiah Valley Medical Center is talking about taking over the lucrative “interfacility transfer” business, which might mean that local ambulance services will be deprived of that cash cow. Etc. None of the options being discussed will produce anything like results for at least a year, probably more. The Coastal Valley EMS problem is also being discussed. Meanwhile, ambulance services, public and private, volunteer and professional, continue limping along doing a lot with very little.
Supervisor John McCowen and I were afforded an opportunity to engage with the Mendocino County Fire Chiefs Association about collaborating on an ambulance plan. This is a group of problem solvers who provide an incredible service with very little funding. We also touched on the homeowners insurance eligibility situation, Anderson Valley's proposed (prop 1 funded) firefighting water infrastructure and the state of the long awaited Ambulance Exclusive Operating Area RFP. The EOA is dead with no responsive proposals received.
( — with John McCowen at Ukiah Fire Dept.)
BAD COMPANY, NORMAN DEVALL NOTES:
Children Vaccination — What do Mendocino, Nevada and Sutter Counties have in common? They have the lowest child vaccination rates in the State.
ATTENTION POT SUCKERS, er, growers
Mendocino County Cannabis Cultivation Phase I is CLOSING October 4 2019: No Applications shall be accepted after 5:00 p.m. PST
Post Date: September 11, 2019
The Mendocino County Cannabis Program will not accept Phase I Cannabis Cultivation Applications after October 4, 2019. All Phase I applications for cultivation must be submitted via drop box located at the Department of Planning and Building Services prior to 5:00 pm (1700) on October 4, 2019.
Application packets submitted to the Cannabis Cultivation Program will undergo a preliminary review to determine completeness and the applicant will be notified in writing as to whether the application packet is incomplete or complete. Notifications for complete applications will include instruction on how to complete the submission of their applications, including payment of required fees. Incomplete application notifications will be sent with details on how to pick up the incomplete application package should you wish to retain it.
All application submission packets must be placed in an 8 ½ X 11 inch manila envelope labeled with the date of submission, applicant name, phone number, mailing address and cultivation site address. Please include the following documents in this order:
• At least two forms of Proof of Prior cultivation (photographic and additional piece of evidence) • • A dated photograph of current cultivation activities on the proposed cannabis cultivation site location • • Cultivation Permit Application • • Completed Cultivation and Operations Plan • • Completed Building Structure List • • Relocation Worksheet, Remediation Plan, and Water Availability Analysis for relocation applications • • Completed Property Owner Consent form if applicable • • Color copy of valid identification of applicant and all listed employees/workers • • Site plan • • Copy of Live Scan fingerprint form for anyone engaged in cultivation of cannabis • • Business organizational documents if applicable • • Timberland Permit, Proof of Mitigation or 3-acre conversion if applicable • • California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) Seller’s Permit • • Water Board permits: Notice of Applicability (Notice of Receipt may be accepted) and or water rights or Small Irrigation Use Registration (SIUR) • • Copy of final Lake or Streambed Alteration Agreement (LSAA), waiver, letter determining LSAA is not required, EPIMS registration or any other official documentation expressing current status with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) as required • • Results from the Cortese list • • Copy of well permit (if used for irrigation), copy of septic permit (if there are employees), copy of well completion report (if available), OR a copy of the Residential Building Record from the Mendocino County Assessor’s Office • • Copies of credentials for cultivation activities issued by the California Department of Food and Agriculture – CALCannabisif received •
Incomplete applications that cannot be made complete by the October 4, 2019, deadline will not be accepted into Phase I of the Mendocino County Cultivation Program.
Electronic applications will not be accepted. Once submitted, items cannot be added or removed from application packets. Applicants are advised to make a copy of their application packet for their own records.
Failure to submit the required documents will result in an incomplete application notification. All incomplete application must be picked-up from the Cannabis Program within 21 days of the notice. Documents not picked up by the applicant within 21 days will be shredded.
For more information, please contact email@example.com or visit the Mendocino County webpages for Cannabis Cultivation, Cannabis Permits & Licenses, and Cannabis FAQ.
I always enjoy your knowledge of local North Coast people and history, and of your mentioning of Vern Piver's time in the big leagues is no exception.
Vern was aptly called the unofficial mayor of Fort Bragg for good reason: he was the quintessential pull yourself up by your bootstraps-North Coaster. I have known able bodied adults not capable of hacking one summer as a timber faller and Vern spent over four decades setting chokers and falling trees. As a teenager I would be in awe as Vern would fix my chainsaw and tell stories of rubbing elbows with Clemente, and then to see him officiating as a geriatric basketball Referee the following Friday.
As far as local ballplayers go, don't forget about Fort Bragg's very own John DeSilva of Airport Road. In the 1990's he did enjoy some MLB success as well as some league minimum pay days.
Please don't retire anytime soon so I can continue my reading of the AVA and New Yorker from cover to cover every Sunday morning.
The Boonville Quiz is back, tonight, Thursday, September 12th, on the eve of the County Fair. The first ‘ride’ is at 7pm at Lauren’s Restaurant in Boonville. Hope to see you there, along with all the carneys! Cheers, Steve Sparks, The Quiz Master
CALIFORNIA is poised to pass into law a measure that will force app-based companies like Uber and Lyft to treat contract workers as employees—meaning these workers will get sick pay and paid vacation. About one million workers, including Uber drivers, food-delivery couriers, janitors, nail salon workers, construction workers, and franchise owners will benefit.
PETROV "PETRO" ZAILENKO, a.k.a. Pitro Zalenko, known as the "Hendy Hermit" or the "Boonville Hermit," lived in Hendy Woods State Park in California for more than 18 years during the 1960s and '70s in huts of his own construction consisting of redwood plank lean-tos, one of which was located on a hollowed-out tree stump. He subsisted on small game such as chipmunk and produce from nearby farms and obtained clothing discarded by others. He was born in Russia, fought in World War II, and was wounded during the war, then entered the US on a Russian trawler without authorization. He was believed to be a Ukrainian Jew. Zailenko then went to work in a local sawmill until asked for his Social Security number. He fled into the woods and lived there for 20 years in what is now called the Hermit Hut. He was terrified of anyone in a uniform, and it was thought that he was afraid of being sent back to Russia. Petro's date and precise place of birth is unknown. He died on August 31, 1981 and his ashes were scattered in Hendy Woods. (Wikipedia)
ALL THESE YEARS I thought the Hendy Hermit was myth, or if not myth he was Bicycle Man, an old guy who was a familiar sight in the Anderson Valley in the 1970s as he unceasingly pushed his ancient bicycle up and down 128 from Cloverdale to Navarro. I'd see him randomly en route between these two points, as we all would. One early morning I saw Bicycle Man rise from roadside brush near Yorkville where he'd apparently spent the night. I tried to talk to him but he just stared back at me, mute. Can't say that I blamed him because I know I wasn't the only person curious about him, and I'm sure he was regularly pestered as to what he was about. This was way before transients became the familiar sight they've become.
EVEN THOUGH I thought the Hendy Hermit was not real, my wife and I, whenever we took our kids to Hendy we'd leave some food at likely redwood stumps, perhaps instilling charitable feelings in the little savages as we answered their endless questions about why a man might want to live all by himself. Never caught so much as a glimpse of the Hermit or anybody who looked like he might be an isolate, not that the people so disposed seek human company. This was way before Hendy Woods became bureaucratized; the Hermit would not be tolerated today.
BUT HERE HE IS confirmed by Wikipedia, complete with a name and an intriguing history. Well shut my mouth! I've since learned that some people who lived nearby, the Warsing family for one, helped Herm out with food and maybe even rudimentary shelter in the long, cold rains of winter. Whatever had happened to the poor man it put him permanently off human association.
“AND HERE IS OUR GARDEN. It seems to have become neither better nor worse since I was a student. I don't like it. It would be much smarter if, instead of consumptive lindens, yellow acacias, and sparse-trimmed lilacs, there were tall pines and handsome oaks growing here. The student, whose mood is largely created by the surroundings of his place of learning, should see at every step only the lofty, the strong, the graceful… God save him from scrawny trees, broken windows, gray walls, and doors upholstered with torn oilcloth.”
— Chekhov, A Boring Story
MOST PEOPLE would concede that Chekhov knew what he was talking about, and he's hardly the only great mind to say, and only in passing because everyone knows it, and what everyone in the world assumes as a matter or course, is that school architecture enhances the learning process, whatever it is now. Americans shared that global assumption until around 1950 when schools began to be designed interchangeably with prisons, with control of the student as first priority. Locally, Ukiah High School is an extreme example of mission-defeating architecture, as is the much smaller Boonville High School, but at least Boonville High has windows. Factor in cancer-causing building materials and super-bright overhead lighting also found in secret police basements, not to mention course content unrelated to the reality beyond the school grounds, and we have what we have — millions of citizens who consider learning something like kryptonite in book form.
WHICH BRINGS US, among other destinations, to Anderson Valley Elementary School, a campus made even more stark by the removal of the dead trees front and center. When dead trees are better than no trees it's time to put on our aesthetic thinking caps about how to improve that site's visuals. I suggest going all out for trees — elms would be nice over the long haul as would, say, native redwoods. Give up on the school's lawns. The oval lawn would make a nice mini-forest, and the lawn out front could be both a learning experience for the niños and acknowledgement that the school recognizes that lawns are way passé, and AV Elementary is going to bee-friendly plants to do our part to enhance the survival prospects of that particular endangered creature. And while the school is swapping lawn for trees maybe the community could finally re-name the school after a human-type being. I mean really, Anderson Valley Elementary? Rock, Stick, Blonk, Gonk! Down with Gradgrind-ism! Up with people! I suggest The Blanche Brown Elementary School after Anderson Valley's legendary self-taught botanist, founder of our annual Wildflower Show and long-time teacher all the way back to the one-room school at Peachland which she reached by horseback from her home on Indian Creek.
MANHANTTAN’S LAST FARMHOUSE
EUREKA TIMES-STANDARD PUBLISHER SAYS, ‘WE’RE JUST FINE.’ His Recently Terminated Reporters Say Otherwise.
by Ryan Burns
On Monday, the Times-Standard issued a publisher’s note headlined, “Culture change is hard and necessary … and we’re just fine.”
John Richmond, the paper’s publisher/general manager/advertising director, as well as director of sales for T-S parent company MediaNews Group’s NorCal Division, declared in the first paragraph, “The Times-Standard is doing just fine.”
His column referred in general terms to layoffs made over the past few years, to the shifting business model of newspapers, and to various changes he’s implementing in an effort to increase readership and revenue. And he reassured readers of the paper’s ongoing commitment to journalism.
That afternoon, Richmond called Dan Squier, the Times-Standard‘s courts reporter, and fired him. It was the latest in a series of involuntary departures from the T-S newsroom in recent weeks.
Last month, on Aug. 30, the Times-Standard laid off Squier’s colleague Robert Peach. Peach reported news stories, worked nights on the copy-editing desk and wrote columns for the Sunday edition.
A month before that, back on July 27, the Times-Standard laid off Shaun Walker, who’d been employed by the paper for just shy of 25 years. He was the last remaining photographer on staff.
In recent interviews with the Outpost, Squier and Peach described a much different state of affairs at the Times-Standard than the one evoked by Richmond’s publisher’s note. They said the newsroom staff has been cut to the bone, and then cut again. Morale among the remaining reporters, they said, has rapidly plummeted. And with only two news reporters left on staff, as of this week, they expressed concern about whether Humboldt County’s daily newspaper of record can survive and fulfill its mission in any meaningful way.
Peach may have been the most highly educated cub reporter in the 165-year history of the Times-Standard. He was hired this past December, seven months after earning his PhD in philosophy from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.
During an interview at Outpost headquarters this past Thursday, Peach said the Times-Standard job gave him a great entrée into journalism, allowing him to follow his passion for writing while working in a much faster-paced environment than the buttoned-up world of academia.
“It’s been good for me to step into that mode where stories are happening, and they matter — and it’s important to get them out as soon as possible,” he said.
The bustling pace may not have come naturally for Peach, who was pensive and deliberate with his words during our interview, but the newsroom staff welcomed him, showed him the ropes. He loved the camaraderie and the job.
“I miss it,” he said. “It brought a lot of meaning to me.”
Temperamentally, Squier is pretty much the polar opposite of Peach — brash and impetuous. He came by the Outpost office Tuesday morning after one last trip to the Times-Standard, where he turned in his company cell phone and key fob and received a packet of termination papers. He was obviously still reeling.
“I’m so fucking disappointed,” Squier said. “Personally and professionally.”
Squier declined to talk on the record about why he’d been fired. “I don’t want to because it’s still a sensitive issue, and I say that out of self-protection,” he said. “And I’d rather not go into that because it’s actually ancillary to the story. The story is the dissolution of the paper of record.”
Peach said something remarkably similar five days earlier: “My focus is less on the loss of a position than the loss of an institution. I think, for me, that’s the story.”
According to Squier, other T-S employees have left or been been laid off in recent months, too, including the IT manager and several people in the business office. In an effort to save money, he said, the company doesn’t intend to fill any of those vacancies.
I should note for the record that before taking his current job at the Times-Standard/MediaNews Group in February, Richmond was CEO of the Outpost’s parent company, Lost Coast Communications, Inc., meaning he was my boss. This arguably makes me a less-than-ideal person to write a news story involving him. For what it’s worth, he and I had a friendly working relationship. We even got a beer together after he took the new job: no hard feelings.
I reached out to Richmond for this story. Specifically, I sent him an email late last week with the subject line “Interview?” I told him I was working on a story about the recent developments at the T-S and asked if we could talk on Monday or Tuesday of this week. He agreed. We exchanged a couple emails trying to nail down a time.
Then, on Monday afternoon — after Richmond published his publisher’s note but before he fired Squier — he sent me the following email:
“Just rereading your email and when you said ‘talk’ I’m worried you thought I meant I would submit for an interview. That was not my intent.
Instead, I’ll just refer you to this Publisher’s Note we put up recently. It can be considered my official comment on matters pertaining to the ‘recent developments over there at the T-S’.
I should also note that I worked at the Times-Standard more than a decade ago, first on the copy desk, proofreading and laying out pages into the wee hours, and later as the paper’s business reporter (one of several positions that no longer exist there). It was my first full-time reporting gig, and like Peach I found it both rewarding and educational.
At the time of my employment, in 2007 and 2008, the Times-Standard was engaged in an old-fashioned newspaper war with the upstart Eureka Reporter, a free daily established by local finance-industry tycoon Robin P. Arkley II, who hoped to drive the T-S out of business.
Intent on preventing that outcome (and, by some accounts, provoked by a personal dislike of Arkley), MediaNews Group’s then-CEO, Dean Singleton, kept the T-S newsroom well staffed. We had seven full-time news reporters, three sports reporters and three feature writers (including the North Coast Journal‘s current editor, Thadeus Greenson). We also had three copy editors/page designers, a city editor, a managing editor and a number of freelancers.
The Eureka Reporter went belly-up in November 2008, and with the great Humboldt County newspaper war over — not to mention the precipitous decline in advertising revenue across the industry — staff numbers at the Times-Standard began to dwindle. In 2012 the Times-Standard stopped printing a Monday edition of the paper, and circulation numbers shrank.
The Times-Standard‘s Wikipedia page includes an outdated circulation figure of 23,000 copies. I couldn’t find current numbers, but until 2016 the Times-Standard was a member of the Alliance for Audited Media, a nonprofit industry group that collects circulation reports. The last report the Times-Standard submitted, for the fourth quarter of 2016, said average weekday circulation had dropped to 13,446, and fewer than 10,000 copies were printed on Sundays. Squier said he doesn’t know the exact figures, but circulation numbers have continued shrink.
Much has been written about the dramatic decline of newspaper fortunes in the internet age. The broad strokes go like this: Craigslist and Facebook came along to steal classified revenue, which had been a longtime source of inflated profits for daily newspapers, while online news sites and social media trained a new generation that they can get their news for free. Newspaper publishers, meanwhile, were slow to comprehend and adapt to this sea change, and for the most part they failed to develop viable new business models.
Between 2008 and 2018 the number of employees in newspaper newsrooms fell by 47 percent, representing a loss of about 33,000 jobs. Online newsroom employment grew over that period but only by about 6,100 jobs, not nearly enough to offset the newspaper losses.
These industry woes have been exacerbated and exploited by corporations such as Alden Global Capital, the hedge fund parent company of MediaNews Group, which (somewhat ironically) is now known as Digital First Media. Through that holding company Alden has become the country’s second-largest newspaper chain. It owns the Denver Post and more than 100 other local newspapers, including the San Jose Mercury News, the Marin Independent Journal and the Times-Standard.
Across the journalism industry Alden Global Capital is both feared and reviled. Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan described Alden as “one of the most ruthless of the corporate strip-miners seemingly intent on destroying local journalism.”
The Nation struck a similar note in April, calling Alden “one of the slimiest corporate villains of our time” and reporting that since the company took control of Digital First Media in 2011, “executives have eliminated a staggering two out of every three staff positions at its media properties.”
Indeed, Alden has become notorious for eviscerating newsrooms while extracting the profits. The Washington Post recently reported that Alden moved nearly $250 million from newspaper workers’ pension savings into its own investment accounts, prompting an investigation from the U.S. Department of Labor.
Alden’s top executives, meanwhile, have extracted at least $241 million in cash from Digital First Media and “rewarded themselves with tens of millions of dollars’ worth of prime real estate in Florida and the Hamptons,” according to The Nation.
Industry analysts say these “vulture capitalists” have no interest in actually investing in journalism. “There is no long-term strategy other than milking and continuing to cut,” media writer Ken Doctor told industry publication NewsGuild last year. “Their view is that in 2021, they’ll deal with that then. Whatever remnants are there, they’ll try to find a buyer.”
Squier is well aware of Alden’s reputation, and he said the Times-Standard isn’t the only Alden-owned paper in the region to lose staff this year. Reporters at the Chico Enterprise-Record and the Paradise Post — both owned by Alden/Digital First Media — worked day and night covering last year’s Camp Fire, the most destructive wildfire in state history. Ten of them lost their homes in the disaster.
But in the process of covering the disaster the reporters apparently blew through the overtime budget for Digital First Media’s NorCal Division. Squier estimated that a dozen other newsroom employees were laid off across the region around the time that T-S photo editor Shaun Walker got the boot.
Walker declined to comment for this story except to say that he’s still in the area, working as a freelance photographer. And Peach said a confidentiality agreement prevents him from discussing the reason he was laid off. But he did describe the experience.
“The way they work it, it’s so mechanical and just kind of … inhumane,” he said. “They usher you out of the building without allowing you to collect your belongings.”
The newsroom couldn’t have seen this coming early in the year. Morale was high, Peach said, “especially with the introduction of the new publisher.” But Walker’s unexpected departure marked a turning point. If an employee with nearly a quarter-century on the job could be dismissed, apparently without cause, was anyone safe?
“John [Richmond] called us in for a staff meeting the following week,” Peach said. “I came in somewhat late, but I know it was fraught with tension. People were vocal about office morale and their sense of not being advocated for … and feeling really insecure about our jobs.”
Squier said losing Walker amounted to losing the entire photo department, “and I’ve never worked in any newsroom at any newspaper that didn’t have a photo department.” But beyond that, he said, Walker brought an institutional knowledge and community relationships that were integral to the way staff put together the paper each day.
“The day Shaun got laid off I updated my résumé … because I am not going to stay on the sinking ship,” Squier said. “Now you only have two people doing the reporting. I mean, it’s bad enough when we had four.”
Squier suspects the downsizing is all about money and corporate directives. “I get the sense that this is just yet another corporate slashing. … And when I push back at it, I get fired.”
The length of stories in the Times-Standard is getting slashed, too. This was among the changes Richmond described in Monday’s publisher’s note. “We’re bringing our word counts down and article counts up,” he wrote. “You want more news and faster. We’re on it.”
Peach said reporters were recently told that their quota had increased from two stories per day to three. And according to both Peach and Squier, Times-Standard Editor Marc Valles recently started sending reporters their internet traffic data, showing how many clicks each of their stories had gotten.
To Peach this focus on numbers and quantifiable output seems wrongheaded.
“It’s just unreasonable if you’re looking to create good content,” he said. “And for me, at least, the point of focus is so … what’s the right word for it? The priorities are upside down in terms of how we can reach readers and increase readership.”
Perhaps it was a sign of how recent their departures were or how connected to their jobs they’d become, but both Peach and Squier kept slipping into the present tense and using collective pronouns while discussing the Times-Standard newsroom.
Regarding those web traffic numbers, Squier said, “The reporters are feeling utterly confused as to why that metric is being applied to them as if it means something.” The problem is the Times-Standard‘s paywall, he said. As with many other daily newspapers, the T-S website only allows non-subscribers to see a few stories for free each month before locking them out.
“That’s why people aren’t clicking on your stories,” Squier said.
Peach suspected that the web-traffic numbers were intended to inspire competition among the reporters, but instead the data just further deflated morale.
“It’s kind of an energy suck, particularly for people who put in tons of effort and work.” Longer, more thoroughly reported stories often don’t get the amount of clicks as short and flashy stories. “Like, the breaking crime [news] seems to get a lot of traffic,” Peach said. “So it’s demoralizing, I’d say, is the effect of that.”
Squier was plainly angry for much of our interview, but at one point he lowered his head, looking despondent.
“God, I’m gonna miss the fucking courts,” he said, almost under his breath. “God, I learned so fucking much.”
A few minutes later he was angry again, thinking about the loose ends, the stories he hadn’t finished reporting.
“There’s only 20 open fucking murder cases in this goddamn county I was covering,” he said. “Literally, there’s 20 open homicide investigations in Humboldt County right now. And who’s going to cover them for the paper of record?”
Squier believes that the version of the Times-Standard that the community grew to know and trust is now gone, that there’s no way for a news staff of two reporters and two editors to cover a county of 135,000 people spread across an area nearly the size of Connecticut.
“It’s a huge loss,” he said. “It’s a huge personal loss and it’s a huge institutional loss. And [management] can claim it’s still there all they wish, but all you have to do is pick up your paper tomorrow and tell me what you think. Because it’s going to be short, and filled with bleah.
“You’re not going to get a 40-inch story on corrections deputy Corey Fisher, and an 11-day trial about how he abused kids and abused inmates. You’re not going to get the story on the Rio Dell murder. You’re not going to get any follow-up investigation on that. You’re not going to get anything on Josiah Lawson.”
The Times-Standard has actually been down to just two news reporters before, and then built the staff back up — impressively. Many locals have remarked over the last six to nine months how impressive the crew was over there, a dedicated, hard-working and hard-nosed collection of reporters, almost all of whom came here from out of the area because they wanted a job in journalism.
Peach said feedback from the Times-Standard‘s monthly reader board meetings was always positive, with people saying the paper’s writing and content had improved over the past year.
But several of the people who produced that content are now gone, and this time, the terminated reporters say, they won’t be replaced.
Richmond is still out hustling, though, telling local community members about the importance of newspapers generally and the Times-Standard in particular. He addressed Rotary Club of Arcata Sunrise on August 23, telling local business leaders some of the same things he later wrote in his publisher’s note. (Video of the meeting was published to YouTube but got taken down late last week. Arcata Sunrise Rotary did not respond to an email asking why.)
Richmond said a few other things, too. He laid some of the blame for newspapers’ declines on the incomprehension of young readers. “Kids aren’t taught the difference between opinion and real journalism,” he said. “They don’t know what the value of in-depth reporting is; they don’t know what in-depth reporting even looks like.”
He said the Times-Standard is “pivoting” in the way it publishes content, moving toward a model based on the San Francisco Chronicle‘s sfgate.com, where some content is free. “And I’m yelling at my reporters a little bit,” telling them to publish press releases faster, he said.
And he urged those in attendance not to take real journalism for granted.
“If this matters to you, as leaders of this community, please, tell your local businesses, support local journalism. And it doesn’t have to be me. If you hate the Times-Standard ‘cause you don’t think we cover Trump the right way … give it to the Mad River Union. Give it to the Ferndale Enterprise, you know. Give it to somebody in print or somebody in TV or somebody in local radio who is creating local, real journalism.”
CATCH OF THE DAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2019
MICHAEL BLAHUT, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
DAVID CLEM, Ukiah. Domestic abuse, probation revocation.
JUAN DURAN, Ukiah. Pot cultivation of over six plants, armed with firearm in commission of felony, manufacture or import of short-barreled rifle, felon-addict with firearm, false personation of another, failure to appear, fugitive from justice, probation revocation.
CHRISTOPHER FERGUSON, Stockton/Willits. Concealed dirk-dagger.
ANNETTE HENDREN, Clearlake/Ukiah. Failure to appear.
SHAWN HORN, Ukiah. Resisting, probation revocation.
ANDREW MAYNARD, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
ANGEL MILLER, Ukiah. Parole violation.
JACK POLLOCK, Ukiah. Unspecified violation.
PAIGE VOGEL, Chico/Laytonville. Domestic abuse.
POWELL & PINE, SAN FRANCISCO
PRESSER FROM THE U.S. FOREST SERVICE and one pertinent on-line comment.
MT SHASTA, Calif. — On August 8 and 12, 2019 the Siskiyou County Sherriff’s Office responded to the discovery of cremated remains found in the upper spring as well as trailhead area at Panther Meadows on Mount Shasta. The Sheriff’s Office documented and removed the remains from the area.
“Panther Meadows is a popular destination on the forest and significant effort has gone into designing trails to protect the sensitive plants and grasses in that area for present and future generations,” said District Ranger Carolyn Napper. “The depositing of cremated remains as well as memorial flowers, gemstones, food, feather, tobacco, and paper in this area known for its unique plant community and sensitive meadow soils can cause significant ecological damage.” Water quality and stream flows can also be adversely impacted by the depositing of cremated remains.
More importantly, maintaining the natural state of the meadows and its water sources is significant to many local tribes that have held these meadows sacred since historic times. They are deeply offended by foreign objects left in the meadows and especially in the water and near the spring. “The tribes have never left offerings and have never used the meadow as a graveyard,” said District Archeologist Leslie Schmidt.
The Shasta-Trinity National Forest asks all visitors to remember that forest lands are not to be used as cemeteries and memorials. However, permits are available from Lassen Volcanic and Crater Lake National Parks for the scattering of loved ones cremated remains on park system lands. The Bureau of Land Management also issues similar permits. Some state parks may allow for the scattering of remains. For specific permit information, please contact the appropriate land management agency.
COMMENT: I have no skin in the game, but the ecological damage argument is a joke… Charred organic material is all over the shasta trinity forest. Do they remove those and every piece of coyote and deer poop from the forest? Because those have contain almost identical nutrients as ashes, and are surely causing ecological damage too. I would also love to hear how stream flows could be affected by ashes. Water quality, sure, but the actual flow of the water?? I think these kindergarten level scientists just needed some filler for their hyperbole.
"I always had a curiosity about trying new things in music. A new sound, another way to do something." —Miles Davis in the very first Playboy Interview ever published in the September, 1962 issue. The interviewer was writer Alex Haley later to become famous for The Autobiography Of Malcolm X and Roots.
DOWNTOWN UKIAH will be filled with family friendly fun this Saturday. Joining forces for a fourth year, Ukiah Host Lions Club, Ukiah Main Street Program and Rising Stars Music Showcase have put together a mix of music, machinery, and merriment.
The day starts at 7am with the ever-popular Ukiah Host Lions Pancake Breakfast being served in the pavilion at Alex Thomas Plaza. The menu includes Pancakes, Sausage, Milk, Orange Juice and Coffee and will be served until the supplies (or the Lions) are exhausted!
While the Lions are flipping cakes, Classic Cars and Motorcycles will be lining historic School Street for the Ukiah Main Street Association/ Greater Ukiah Business and Tourism Alliance End of Summer Show & Shine Classic Car and Motorcycle Show. Visitors can check out the classic cars and motorcycles from 7am to 3pm. Awards will be presented at 3pm in Alex Thomas Plaza.
At 10am, Alex Thomas Plaza comes alive as Rising Stars Music presents The 2019 North Bay Artisans Showcase and Faire Performing Artists! Douglas Johns opens the show, followed by Clay Hawkins. After Clay’s performance Steven Meloche takes the stage to be followed by, November Rose. The final featured act performing from 1pm to 4pm is II Big. Thanks to the support of presenting sponsors, Community First Credit Union, Max 93.5 FM and Kwine, and supporting sponsors, Chadwick Armory and Ukiah Main Street Program the show is going to be amazing! Food will be served by Slam Dunk Pizza Sugar Mama and Mike's Dog House. North Coast Energy Services, American Red Cross and Yokayo Veterinary Hospital will be on hand to share information. Local craft vendors Butterflies by Jane, Mom & Daughter Knitting and Fluid Acrylic Designs will be selling their hand made wares. This show is benefiting MendoLake Complex Fire Relief and Hopland Volunteer Fire Department. MendoLake Complex Fire Relief will be hosting both silent auction and Pie tossing fundraising booths while the beer and wine sales will be going to Hopland Volunteer Fire Department.
Bring your friends and family for a fun filled Summer finale in downtown Ukiah! Scroll down memory lane with all the classic cars and motorcycles and then spread your picnic blanket on the grass in Alex Thomas Plaza. Enjoy local food and flavor, and dance with your sweetie to some of the best local music talent around! It all happens Saturday September 14th from 7am to 4pm!
FIRST FRIDAY ART OPENING AT EDGEWATER GALLERY
The Art of Whimsy
Featured Artists Patricia Breed and Alexis Moyer
Edgewater Gallery, 356 N. Main Street, Fort Bragg
First Friday, October 4, from 5-8pm
Patricia and Alexis will do a brief presentation at 6pm. Light refreshments served. Admission is free.
VACANCIES NOW A DECADE OLD
There are vacancies on the following Board(s) and/or Commission(s):
Assessment Appeals Board (1) --Board Member --
Fish Rock Cemetery District. (1) -- Trustee--
Mendocino County Business Improvement District Advisory Board (1) -- At Large Member --
Mendocino County Tourism Commission (1) - Food/Beverage Business Member--
Museum Advisory Board (1) -- Mendocino County Historical Society Representative--
Noyo Harbor District (1) --Commissioner --
Anticipated vacancies include expiring terms: the incumbent of the expiring term may apply for reappointment and/or may continue to serve in their capacity until replaced. California Government Code requires public noticing for all expiring terms regardless of the incumbent’s intention to apply for reappointment.
If you are interested in serving on this Board, contact your Supervisor, or the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, at 501 Low Gap Road, Room 1010, Ukiah, CA 95482 or (707) 463-4441.
LAST DATE FOR FILING: October 2nd, 2019, or until filled.
SYMPHONY OF THE REDWOODS - Schedule for 2019/2020 Performance Season
Season Sponsor: North Coast Brewing Co.
All performances at Cotton Auditorium - 500 N. Harold St, Fort Bragg, CA 95437 Advanced tickets are $22, at the door tickets are $25, guests age 18 and under free
Tickets available at Harvest Market in Fort Bragg, Out of This World in Mendocino and online at http://www.symphonyoftheredwoods.org/tickets.php Any adult accompanied by one or more youth 18 or under is admitted free to Symphony concerts
All educational staff showing ID card at box office are admitted to Symphony concerts at half-price
Fall Concert Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019, 7:30pm Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, 2pm
Mozart: Overture to The Marriage of Figaro Schumann: Violin Concerto in D minor, featuring violinist David McCarroll Mendelssohn: Symphony #3 in A minor, Opus 56 "Scottish"
Winter Concert Saturday, February 1, 2020, 7:30pm Sunday, February 2, 2020, 2pm
Prokofiev: Symphony #1 in D major, Opus 25 "Classical"
Stravinsky: Suite for Orchestra from The Firebird
Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto #1 in B flat minor, Opus 23, featuring pianist James D'León
Spring Concert Saturday, April 4, 2020, 7:30 pm Sunday, April 5, 2020, 2pm CLASSICAL CORNERSTONES
Elgar: Cello Concerto in E minor, Opus 85, featuring cellist Oliver Herbert
Dvořák: Symphony #9 in E minor, Opus 95 "From the New World"
MENDOCINO COAST BOTANICAL GARDENS - BLOOM BLAST
REMEMBERING OUR GEORGE WASHINGTON HIGH SCHOOL San Francisco Classmate & Hero Betty Ong (1956–9/11/2001) today. Betty was a flight attendant aboard American Airlines Flight 11, the first plane to hit the World Trade Center. Nydia Gonzalez was the American Airlines Operations employee who took Ong's phone call that morning from the flight. This was the very first call to airline/air traffic officials alerting them that something was very wrong on that flight. Nobody had a clue what was about to happen. Nydia’s testimony: http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/…/b1.html
Betty Ong’s calm, chilling call to the dumbfounded AA Ops Center: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=icfkIH3j-nk