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- Top 40
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WARM AND DRY WEATHER will continue inland through Saturday. Today will turn out sunny for most of the coast, but expect a cooler and cloudier day there on Saturday. Wet weather will arrive late on Sunday north of Cape Mendocino, with showers for all of northwest California on Monday. Inland high temperatures will turn cooler for most of the upcoming week. (National Weather Service)
THE AVA'S hard-hitting analysis of last night's tiresome "debate" will be posted tonight. Thank you for your patience.
FORT BRAGG NOTES
by Rex Gressett
The Fort Bragg Planning Commission met Wednesday night with nothing on the agenda except to clear up the question left hanging from the last meeting on what exactly was meant by “major vegetation removal.”
From whence came this needful consideration?
Tom Horner, the owner of Harvest Market who recently bought 15 acres of the mill site and therefore the only vegetation on the mill site that might in any sense be denoted “major,” had sent the Commission a secret agent — or perhaps a more accurate word is shill — who forgot to mention that he was employed by Harvest, would not give his name, but admitted on close questioning he worked for a Harvest environmental consultant.
He encouraged the meeting to understand that he was a “scientist.” The “scientist” graciously defined a tree for the meeting — “a woody plant with a single stem occupying more or less definite ground” and went on to describe why cutting down trees, and indeed using heavy equipment, can be of great benefit to an ecosystem.
You learn a lot of interesting things at scientist school. The Ace of Spades biologist (that’s what he said ) applied his prim and eloquent presence at the meeting not only to define a tree but also accidentally to illuminate the attentive interest of Harvest Market in hammering out a new and potent legal definition possibly useful to the course of progress on their new tree-covered real estate.
The lot is directly across Highway 1 from their principle competitor — Safeway. Harvest Market is on record with me in email correspondence that they don’t have any definite plans for their mill site purchase and do have a high regard for trees, but they felt that the removal of the trees is something that deserved a little clarity. It was an interesting move, but it didn’t do them any good.
It is a novelty of our local government that the Fort Bragg Planning Commission, in its present incarnation, has had five members and ONE brain which didn’t belong to any of them. The impact of losing ex-Development Director Marie Jones is yet unknown, but the impact on the Planning Commission Wednesday afternoon was immediate and frankly hilarious. It was as if someone had cut the strings on a puppet.
With the subtraction of Marie Jones’s masterly manipulations, it terminated all coherency and the Commission collapsed into a heap of bewildered babblers who struggled with abstractions — such as whether a tree should be measured by diameter or by height.
Marie Jones, who had trained the Commission from its infancy and on whom they obediently relied for all thinking, was inexplicably out of the picture. What NOW?
The gaping absence dissolved the Commission’s capacity even for intelligible discussion and left Sara McCormick, second in command of the Development Department, to step up to the plate and valiantly explain the proposed definition of what might constitute “Major Vegetation Removal” and why it merited consideration.
It was a noble effort, but Ms. McCormick was fatally handicapped by her honesty and her unfortunate and utter incapacity to manipulate the Commission by the deception and bullying to which they are accustomed.
McCormick was in a tough spot. The stealthy maneuvering of powerful economic interests in cooperation with venal insiders at City Hall is not her thing. McCormick is more into competence, transparency, that sort of thing. None of that was remotely useful in the stealthy maneuvering for the destruction of a local mini-forest.
Alas, when Marie Jones was canned, Ms. McCorrmick was left holding the bag. She did the only thing she could do, the only way she knows how to do it — but clarity was impossible without acknowledgment that the whole process was a nasty arrangement between Marie Jones and Harvest Market.
The Planning Commission — expecting to be manipulated — was at a loss and the public was able to observe that honesty is not always the most useful job skill at City Hall.
BOONVILLE WATER & SEWER SYSTEM PLANNING UPDATE
by Valerie Hanelt and Kathleen McKenna
Drinking Water — All the components (tank storage and well sites) have been identified and the negotiations with parcel owners are in progress. There have been no major problems and that project is proceeding on schedule.
We are still trying to find a treatment site for the wastewater project. We are working with the County and the Fairgrounds to explore using their back parking lot. The visible feature of the treatment plant is the 50’x100’ building. The invisible feature is the absorption field for the tertiary treated water. Remember that the solids are trucked away and the liquids are highly treated and injected into the ground. There is no odor associated with these processes. The absorption field can still be used for parking and camping.
The Fairgrounds site must be conceptually approved by the County before we can do perc tests. Also, the Fair Board will be involved in the siting of the building. We are hopeful that progress can be made over the next few weeks. We have to have back-up plans in case this site does not work out.
Once the treatment plant is sited, we can resume the environmental review. The public meetings will follow. Besides the Environmental Review meeting, we are planning to have additional meetings. Topics include the hydrology of the Boonville area and the implications of our well testing results.
As soon as we have commitment on the wastewater treatment site, we will be able to have another Boonville Planner meeting.
Thanks for your support.
Val Hanelt & Kathleen McKenna
Directors, Community Services District
ON THE WAY TO MANCHESTER BEACH
BOONVILLE FARMERS' MARKET
The Market is every Friday from 4-7 in the parking lot of Disco Ranch in downtown Boonville. All fresh, organic, locally grown produce, mushrooms, meat and eggs, plus lots of other goodies! Come see what summer has to offer!
THIS WEEK AT BLUE MEADOW FARM
Heirloom, Early Girl, Roma & Cherry Tomatoes
Corno di Toro, Gypsy, Bell, Pimento Sweet Peppers
Padrons, Jalapenos, Anaheim & Poblano peppers
Italian & Asian Eggplant, Zucchini & Patty Pan Squash
Romano Beans, Garlic, Cucumbers, Basil
French Prune Plums, Broccoli & Cauliflower starts
Sunflowers & Zinnias. Case prices available.
Blue Meadow Farm, 3301 Holmes Ranch Rd, Philo. 895-2071
ANDERSON VALLEY FIRE FIGHTERS NEAR COVELO
Some shots from Engine 7471 this past week on the Henthorne fire north of Covelo. Strike team 2150-C was released from the incident Thursday.
SALMON CREEK HOME INVADERS
On 09-11-19 The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received a call of an armed robbery, involving marijuana, from the Salmon Creek area of Humboldt County. Deputies responded to the scene and met with a victim who reported he had been awaken early that morning to a shotgun being held against his face. He was told “don’t move or I will kill you”. The victim and two additional victims (who left prior to Law Enforcement arrival) were tied up using zip ties. The victims saw two, possibly four suspects, all with their faces covered. Additional zip ties were used to secure the victims feet. The suspects then took approximately 96 pounds of hanging marijuana (untrimmed). The cannabis cultivation site was permitted through the County of Humboldt and the State.
The investigation lead to the residence of a possible suspect who lived in the 3300 block of E Street in Eureka. Deputies responded to the residence and once on scene, could smell the odor of marijuana emitting from the residence. One of possible suspects was currently on probation with a search and seizure clause. Later the possible suspect (Williams) was found to be wearing an ankle monitor. With Help from the Eureka Police POP team, a probation search was conducted at the residence, and two suspects were found trimming the stolen marijuana. It is believed that all of the 96 pounds of stolen marijuana was located at the residence. While searching the residence evidence of additional crimes were located. The Sheriff’s Office Marijuana Enforcement Team was requested, and the residence was secured while a search warrant was obtained. A total of 6 subjects were located and arrested on scene. It was determined that Parker Henderson and Matthew Williams were the two suspects who committed the robbery. Henderson gave his brothers name to officers, but once he learned his brother had warrants, he gave his true name. The other suspects were arrested for warrants or fresh charges.
Arrested on scene:
Matthew Williams 27 years old Armed Robbery
Parker Henderson 30 years old Armed Robbery
Chad Sample 37 years old Felony warrant
Forrest Vandorn 50 years old Felony warrant
Andrea Hunsucker 32 years old Felon in possession of chemical agent
Angela Early 38 years old Misdemeanor warrant
The cultivation site owner identified several sample bags, packaging, and untrimmed marijuana recovered at the suspects residence. The investigating deputy was able to obtain a court order and return all recovered marijuana to the owner. This incident is under investigation and additional charges may be requested.
Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office tip line at 707-268-2539
(Humboldt County Sheriff Presser)
NEVER HAPPEN, but instead of fines for corporate malefactors, mainline their managers and boards of directors in the county jail nearest their headquarters for at least a year. What's the point of fining, say, Google, a billion dollars, which to Google is like a dime, when an effective deterrent is just down the street? Or simply shoot them, as the Russians used to do and the Chinese do now. American crooks of the high end type would truly fear a year in close quarters with the Catch of the Day; the fines levied against their corporate shields are trivial to them.
NO SURPRISE, but there's a wine grape glut on the Northcoast. With new vineyards being planted all over the area for the last fifty years, the surplus everyone predicted is now here.
MENDOCINO COUNTY has voted into what they thought was law in Measures V and B. Measure V was to prohibit forest owners from poisoning non-commercial tree species, while Measure B would fund an in-County mental health facility.
AND nothing happened.
Why? Our Supervisors referred V to the County Counsel's Office, a half-dozen or so wusses with law degrees who either farm out local matters to expensive private lawyers or, in the case of V, ask the State's legal thumbsuckers for an opinion as to V's legality. The State took two years (count 'em) to claim some nebulous dodge like "conflict of interest."
Now what? Nothing, that's what. Our votes meant nothing, thanks to the lawyers we ourselves employ in their air conditioned offices on Low Gap Road, Ukiah. Remember the Office of Circumlocution in Little Dorrit? That's them.
MEASURE B is being slowly tortured to death by its "oversight" committee. Any time you want to kill a good idea in Mendocino County appoint 12 people to get it done.
IF THE TWO MEASURES were "illegal," they would have been headed off at the ballot. But they weren't, and we voted on them, we passed them into law and our will, quaintly and formerly known as the "people's will" has been thwarted ever since.
THE LAST REAL County Counsel we had in Mendocino County was Peter Klein, who screwed me over once big time, but at least he wasn't afraid to step into the fight to knock me out quick, with an assist from the State Appellate Court in their lush Frisco offices. In that one, the Supervisors told County Counsel Klein to get me and he got me. Ever since Klein, the County Counsel's office, with the possible exception of Doug "The Midnight Rambler" Losak, has been an office of time servers and incompetents, rather like the Supervisors themselves prior to the current board. Losak actually went into court to contest phony claims against the County.
MEASURE V is law. Send the Sheriff out to the Mendocino Redwood Company with a cease and desist order. If the poison practice persists, arrest whoever's boss out there. And in the mean time, encourage our cadre of professional demonstrators to hassle MRC's owners, the Fisher family holed up just down the road in San Francisco. Lights! Cameras! Action!
MR. WOOF GETS WOOFED
(Sonoma County Sheriff Presser)
Last night we arrested a man who threatened to kill one of our coastal deputies. We'd like to thank the community members who gave us information and helped us on this case. Together, we keep our community safe!! Edgar Figueroa-Garcia, 35, of Annapolis, is currently in jail on $630,000 bail.
Here's the full story:
Last night Edgar Figueroa-Garcia, 35, Annapolis, was arrested for threatening to kill coastal Deputy Greg Myers.
Over the past three months, the Sheriff’s Office has received numerous calls from area residents that Figueroa-Garcia has been trespassing on private property. He is also suspected of stealing firewood and had been seen trespassing on an ATV with a rifle.
On August 27, the Sheriff’s Office received a call that Figueroa-Garcia had illegally parked his backhoe on someone’s private property, which blocked a driveway. The next day, Deputy Myers had the backhoe towed.
On September 8, the Sheriff’s Office learned that Figueroa-Garcia had been telling area residents that he was going to kill Deputy Myers since August 28, the day Deputy Myers towed his backhoe. On September 9, multiple community members confirmed the death threats Figueroa-Garcia was making towards Deputy Myers. The Sheriff’s Office began a search to find Figueroa-Garcia for these threats and his outstanding felony warrant for domestic battery, criminal death threats, and false imprisonment.
On September 10 at approximately 8:56 PM, a caller told the Sheriff’s Office that Figueroa-Garcia left his trailer in the 40000 block of Annapolis Road, armed with a gun, to look for Deputy Myers at his house. Deputies searched the area and could not find Figueroa-Garcia. They continued to search for him overnight and the next day. Henry 1, Property Crime and Violent Crime Detectives, and SWAT helped with the search.
On September 11 at approximately 4:45 PM, deputies saw Figueroa-Garcia inside his trailer. They ordered him out of the trailer on a loudspeaker. Figueroa-Garcia walked out of his trailer and was arrested without incident. While being taken into custody, he continued to make verbal threats against Deputy Myers. In addition, Figueroa-Garcia’s girlfriend, Iuta Pittman, 35, Annapolis, was arrested for being an accessory by helping him hide.
Figueroa-Garcia was booked into the Sonoma County jail and is facing felony charges of criminal threats, committing a felony while released on bail, failure to appear, and threatening a peace officer. He is also facing felony charges in his warrant for domestic battery, false imprisonment, and criminal threats. Figueroa-Garcia is currently in custody and being held on $630,000 bail. Pittman was booked into the Sonoma County jail for a felony accessory charge. Pittman is currently in custody on $10,000 bail.
Deputy Myers is assigned to the Sonoma Coast as a resident deputy with his K-9 partner Colt. We’ve heard many community members express concern about Figueroa-Garcia’s actions over the past few months. The Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the community members who helped us in this case.
Prepared by: Sergeant Juan Valencia, Public Information Officer
Case Nos.: 190910-011 & 190911-016
Media Inquiries: 707-565-3941
CATCH OF THE DAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2019
TRAVIS ALVAREZ, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
RICKEY ESTRADA IV, Redwood Valley. County parole violation.
THOMAS GALINDO, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. (Frequent flyer.)
JACK POLLACK, Ukiah. Sexual penetration with foreign object while victim was unaware of nature of act. (Repost with charges.)
ISRAEL RAMIREZ-GARCIA, Redwood Valley. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
JULIO RAMOS-MAGANA, San Jose/Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs, no license.
PETER ROELSE, Eureka/Willits. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
KELLY WOOD, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
SALVADOR YANEZ, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
MATTHEW ZWICKY, Willits. Probation revocation.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
How else do we characterize the degradation of public education other than as yet another elite failure? I mean, who foisted this nonsense anyway? It wasn’t mom and pop, who six or seven long decades ago, having delegated the task of imparting knowledge and skills to the highly educated experts and professionals of the time, were concerned with other matters like making a living and, in my own parents’ case (like millions of others), immersed in the long process of adjusting to a new country. Regardless, a corps of educational professionals had long taken shape and become established, and mister and his missus in the workaday world of the middle classes could turn their attention away from what the educrat boffins were up to. And look at the practical results. As it turns out this parental inattention was costly in the extreme. What mischief they got up to, college trained and indoctrinated theoreticians threw wisdom and sound judgment to the wind, they took the task of presenting chunks of knowledge and messed it up completely and inflicted absurdity on their rosy-cheeked charges. In my own case, I was in the eighth grade when educational absurdism made itself known in the classroom. Before then teaching was a straightforward thing; the instructor would stand in front of rows of desks, present the day’s lesson, provide examples, and then assign homework to make the lesson stick. Somehow, until then, the method worked. We learned to read and print and then as our hand and eye-co-ordination improved, we even learned that most laughably back-ward exemplar of unwoke unenlightenment – cursive. Yes, barbarism and racism on the page. We learned to spell, we learned standard English usage, even in classrooms full of kids from the most war-ruined places on the planet. The violent conflicts we see nowadays, with the throngs of refugees, are small potatoes compared to the murderous rampages of WW1 and 2. And we learned multiplication tables. I kid you not, we used flash cards to practice, and we were required in our neck of the woods to know it up to the twelve times table at a minimum. And we learned long division. We practiced these skills until they became second nature to us. Yes indeed, rote learning. Trust me, it works. But what we’ve found is that, for a hundred reasons, elitism doesn’t work. We see it’s many-faceted fuck-ups manifested in daily life, in big ways and small, in education especially. In broad terms, what is the alternative? Many would point to that dread thing called “populism”. And what is this “populism”? It’s the opposite of elitism. But isn’t populism the problem? Many of the highly educated, expert elite shudder at the prospect. Given the hash they made of things, maybe an anticipatory shudder is in order. Populism isn’t the problem, populism isn’t even a problem. Populism isn’t an answer, populism is THE answer. Yep, retrograde as it sounds, in this age of incomprehensible jargon and gale-winds of double-talk, what to trust is the plain speech and common sense of the common man. No, seriously, uneducated people like my dad had the clearer take on things, the more practical solutions than his college-addled betters. And education isn’t much more than the application of this common sense to the task of imparting knowledge to little ones. We know how it used to work, and most importantly, we know that it DID work.
KELLAR and his perplexing cabinet mysteries Poster, 1894
IN MAJOR VICTORY FOR TENANTS, California lawmakers pass sweeping rent cap bill
Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to sign the bill into law shortly
CALFIRE’S BATTLE PLAN AGAINST RECORD 2018 RANCH FIRE SLAMMED IN SCATHING REPORT
A nonprofit group of former firefighters said last year’s struggle against the Ranch fire was emblematic of the need for a sea change in the way wildfires are fought by Cal Fire, the state firefighting agency.
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES approved legislation Wednesday that would permanently bar drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and extend a moratorium on drilling off Florida's west coast.
FILE THAT CLAIM
The PG&E bankruptcy will almost certainly come to a vote to determine the settlement of claims. This vote occurs if the various parties making claims don’t mutually agree to a settlement. Given that deep-pocketed, PG&E-biased parties are lobbying to limit wildfire victim settlements as much as possible, agreement is unlikely.
Fire victims far outnumber other creditors in the bankruptcy and potentially make up the largest voting bloc. Unfortunately, only about half of fire victims have filed claims against PG&E. This isn’t enough. To protect the interest of all fire victims, whether you have damages or not, you should file a claim (this includes smoke damage claims). It costs nothing, and it’s simple to do. To qualify to vote, victims must file a claim against PG&E prior to Oct. 21.
If you are a Tubbs fire victim, don’t let the Cal Fire report convince you this is a lost cause. Contrary to news reporting, the Cal Fire report didn’t conclusively identify the specific cause or the exact location where the fire started. It also failed to mention specific evidence that ties the fire to PG&E equipment and additional reports of destruction of evidence by PG&E.
Please file a claim, secure your right to vote, and help your neighbors and community recover.
INFORMATION BOOTH at Pacific Electric Railway 6th & Main station, 1942
NEARLY 3,000 ILLEGAL MARIJUANA BUSINESSES FOUND IN CALIFORNIA AUDIT, DWARFING LEGAL TRADE
by James Queally & Patrick McGreevy
SACRAMENTO — California’s black market for cannabis is at least three times the size of its regulated weed industry, according to an audit made public Wednesday, the latest indication of the state’s continued struggle to tame a cannabis economy that has long operated in legal limbo.
The audit, conducted by the United Cannabis Business Assn., found approximately 2,835 unlicensed dispensaries and delivery services operating in California. By comparison, only 873 cannabis sellers in the state are licensed, according to the Bureau of Cannabis Control.
The figures are the latest sign of California’s rocky rollout of its legal marketplace, which promised better regulations and control beginning in 2018. Legitimate marijuana businesses have repeatedly criticized state leaders and law enforcement for failing to curb unlicensed dispensaries and delivery services, which sell cannabis at a much lower price by skirting state and municipal cannabis taxes.
This year, an industry-backed financial audit projected that roughly $8.7 billion will be spent on unregulated cannabis products in California in 2019, compared with just $3.1 billion spent on cannabis sold by legal businesses.
Officials have also warned that cannabis products sold in the illegal marketplace can pose health risks because the edible products, vaping pens and flower on shelves of illicit stores have not been subject to state testing. Since June, the California Department of Public Health has linked more than 60 cases of acute lung disease to patients who had recently used vape pens, and it warned that many of those people had recently purchased products from unlicensed shops.
The UCBA, a trade association that represents dispensary owners, cultivators and other licensed marijuana businesses in the state, conducted its audit by scouring the popular and controversial website Weedmaps, which functions as a Yelp-like service for cannabis dispensaries and products.
Lawrence Mansour, chief technology officer for APOP Media, a UCBA member focused on cannabis advertising, said he calculated the estimate of illegal operators by compiling a database of every California-based listing for a cannabis dispensary or delivery service on Weedmaps. Mansour said he found 3,757 listings, a number far higher than the total list of approved cannabis sellers registered in the state.
Any attempt to quantify the number of unlicensed cannabis sellers in the state would be an estimate. The Bureau of Cannabis Control does not track such data, and there are illegal marijuana businesses in California that do not advertise on Weedmaps.
The UCBA presented the audit’s findings in a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom and the cannabis agency early Wednesday and called for a crackdown on Weedmaps, which many in the cannabis industry have criticized for amplifying the reach of illegal sellers.
“Every day that Weedmaps continues to advertise for unlicensed retailers they are putting consumers at risk and suppressing the growth and very existence of the legal market,” the letter said. “The unlicensed operators on Weedmaps do not pay taxes or the cost of compliance with local and state regulations, do not follow required worker or consumer protections and do not allow labor unions to organize workers, in turn allowing them to charge a fraction of the cost.”
The trade association also called on the state to retroactively impose millions of dollars in fines on Weedmaps under Assembly Bill 97, legislation that passed in July and allows for $30,000 in penalties for each day a cannabis retailer operates without a license. Some have interpreted the law to mean that Weedmaps should also be subject to those fines for allowing unlicensed dispensaries to advertise without a license.
Alex Traverso, a spokesman for the Bureau of Cannabis Control, said the agency has been diligent in trying to combat the state’s sprawling illegal marketplace.
“The bureau would love to be able to license more cannabis retail locations in California,” he said. “Unfortunately, there are a number of factors that prevent us from doing that. It’s not all under our control. As far as illegal activity is concerned, the bureau will continue its enforcement efforts and continue looking out for the public’s health and well-being.”
The agency said this year that it had served 19 search warrants at illegal dispensaries and seized roughly $16.5 million in unregulated cannabis products in the first six months of the year. Both totals were more than the entirety of enforcement actions taken by the agency in 2018.
The cannabis bureau also sent a cease-and-desist letter to Weedmaps last year, demanding that the website stop working with unlicensed operators. But Weedmaps has argued in the past that it is protected from such orders under Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which has shielded platforms like Facebook and YouTube from responsibility for the content their users post.
Late last month, however, Weedmaps said it would stop allowing unlicensed businesses to advertise on its platform, an announcement met with a mixture of praise and skepticism from those who consider the website the bane of California’s legitimate cannabis industry.
In a statement issued Wednesday, the company said that in addition to requiring new advertisers to provide a state license number, customers will also need to provide state identification. Despite the effort, Weedmaps Chief Executive Chris Beals said California’s black market would not truly be curtailed until more municipalities allow legal cannabis sales.
“While these policy changes will only have a symbolic impact on the size of California’s unlicensed market without more licensing opportunities and other large listing platforms following suit, we want to continue to lead by example,” Beals said in a statement.
Less than 20% of cities in California — 89 of 482 — allow retail shops to sell cannabis for recreational use. Though many large cities, including Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, allow for the sale of commercial cannabis, even those cities have struggled to curb the black market.
An LA Times audit of Weedmaps this year found at least 220 unlicensed dispensaries in Los Angeles. By comparison, the city has issued only 187 temporary licenses for legal storefronts.
At the state Capitol, lawmakers were also discouraged by the audit’s findings.
“California’s not making it easy for business to join the regulated market,” said Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale). “Right now there’s more incentive to be an illegal dispensary than a licensed dispensary.”