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MCT: Friday, December 20, 2019

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OTHER THAN some patchy drizzle at the coast and some spotty light showers inland a brief break in the rain is expected today. Gusty southerly winds will develop ahead of a cold front later today in advance of a prolonged period of rain expected on Saturday and Sunday. (NWS)

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STUART TREGONING

If you were lucky enough to sit down and chat with Stuart King Tregoning, you no doubt learned a lot about the history of the Mendocino Coast. His ancestors were a big part of the development of this part of California and he was the perfect person to tell you all about it.

Stuart spent his early childhood in several Northern California towns as his father kept inching his way back to the place of his birth. Stuart was born in Healdsburg, lived in Lakeport and Ukiah before finally making the move with his parents, Alex and Esther Tregoning, and his older brothers, Burnett and Peter, to the coast in January 1949.

He became a resident of the Mendocino Coast at the age of six and he never left. He lived most of his life on the family ranch at Jug Handle Creek just north of Caspar. He first lived in his great-grandfather Alexander Jefferson's house up on the hill east of Highway 1. A few years later he moved down to the white house (now part of the Jug Handle State Natural Reserve), which had been constructed by his great-grandfather as a wedding gift for Stuart's grandmother, Anna Jefferson Tregoning. Both houses are in use today.

Stuart attended grade school in Caspar, and is a graduate of Mendocino High School. He also attended the University of California at Berkeley and U.C. Davis where his interest in agriculture was stimulated. During his early years on the ranch, raising sheep was a secondary occupation of the family.

Following a brief stint in the U.S. Army, Stuart returned to the coast to start his life's work. He built himself a small cabin on the southeast portion of the property, which was being sold piecemeal by his father and uncles who had inherited it upon his grandmother's death.

Over time, his creative nature and building skills led him to construct two barns (both featuring rigid truss systems), a garden shed and a spectacular A-frame studio on the property in addition to working on the crew that constructed a new home for his mother in the same area. The 39-acre property was sold by him and his brothers in 2013 and it now houses Fortunate Farm. Stuart and his partner, Marlene Placido, moved to Mendocino after the sale where he lived until the time of his death.

Stuart's greatest legacy is without a doubt the many close friends he developed on the coast over the years, many of them the result of his work at the family-owned commercial building in downtown Fort Bragg. Located at the southern corner of Main and Laurel streets, the "Jefferson Building" started out as a butcher shop built by Stuart's great-grandfather. Today it houses four major Fort Bragg businesses plus offices and an apartment on the second floor. He was part owner at the time of his death.

When his mother inherited the building, Stuart began assisting her with its maintenance and management, eventually becoming the 'go-to' guy for repairs and remodeling. He could be seen constantly working at the property, which he and his brothers inherited upon his mother's death in 1998. Since that time, he was an active partner in managing the property.

Before you get the idea that Stuart's only interest was the Mendocino Coast, we should note that, over the years, he became the family historian. He traveled to eastern Canada to visit the birthplace of his great-grandfather, Alex Jefferson, and to Wales and Cornwall in England, the birthplace of his great-grandfather, Henry Tregoning. He also made trips to the East Coast of the United States to maintain ties with his mother's family. Considering camping trips in Europe during his youth and visits to favorite haunts in Guatemala more recently, one could call him a world traveler.

Stuart was always concerned about the health and well being of others. He served at the youngest president of the Fort Bragg Co-Op. An active member of the Mendocino County Farm Bureau, Stuart spent over a decade doing and promoting the work of the California Certified Organic Farmers, a nonprofit organization that advances organic agriculture for a healthy world through certification, education, advocacy and promotion. He also served on the California Democratic Central Committee, actively promoting the presidential candidacy of Jesse Jackson by sponsoring a rally on the ranch where he lived.

The Mendocino Coast was always his first love and he will be long remembered by his family and friends for his contributions to it. A memorial celebration of Stuart's life will announced at a later date.

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THIS WATERFALL WAS ONCE THE HIDEOUT OF NORCAL’S MOST NOTORIOUS STAGECOACH ROBBER

activenorcal.com/this-waterfall-was-the-hideout-of-norcals-most-notorious-stagecoach-robber/

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HISTORIAN SHARES NEW BOOK

Local historian Katy Tahja will be sharing her new book “An Eclectic History of Mendocino County” with a lecture at the Kelley House Museum Sunday Dec. 22 in Mendocino at 4 p.m. Gift wrapped autographed copies available for sale make it the perfect holiday gift.

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THE DAY AFTER

The final Quiz of 2019 will take place next Thursday on the 4th Thursday - 26th December, Boxing Day - with a special Holiday Edition for all the family. Happy Holidays to one and all and I hope to see you at this evening of brain-teasing, delicious food, fine wine, and a few beers. Cheers, Steve Sparks, The Quiz Master

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REMEMBERING THE BOONVILLE LODGE ERA

by Bill Kimberlin

Many years ago this summer, I was standing in the Shield's Cemetery at the graveside services for Mickey Bloyd. It wasn't necessary for me to think back to my high school years in Boonville — they were all around me.

Mickey was the youngest and largest of the Bloyd brothers. Mickey had died of natural causes in San Quentin. He had been on death row for a domestic murder and happened to be in the first group of prisoners to transfer off the row when the Supreme Court ruled against the death penalty in the 1970's.

The Bloyds were known as fighters. Some local wag once said that since there was so little to do in Navarro, where they lived, the Bloyds would just go out into a field and fight. You didn't want to fight with Mickey. His older brother Skippy was notorious for cleaning out a barroom full of loggers up at Happy Camp one time, and Skippy was just a shrimp compared to Mickey.

While all the guys used the high school barbells, our teacher and coach, Dan Gaffney, had to build a special set for Mickey. The regular ones just weren't big enough. Taking two huge buckets and filling them with cement, Mr. Gaffney created a home-made barbell that was Mickey-size. It may still be out behind the high school gym somewhere. There's probably nobody around anymore that can lift it.

Mickey and all the Bloyds were pretty much Deependers. They came to Boonville to go to school, frequent the Midway Cafe and that was about it. The Valley was very isolating for a teenager without a car then, as it is today I suppose. He was also a year or two younger than I was and that made a big difference in who you hung out with.

I had visited the Bloyd ranch quite often as a sort of unwelcome guest of my cousin who was a family friend to Mickey's next oldest brother, David, who everyone called Deede. The Bloyds were an old Valley family like the Rawles, but without the money. They were working class, but respectable because they owned land. Unlike the Rawles, the Bloyds had exploits. This was still a time when Valley mischief was seen as more colorful than criminal.

There were only two places in the Valley where we could buy beer: The Oaks in Yorkville and a tavern in Comptche. Neither of these places were able to tell if the tallest of us was of age or not and they both had long ago decided to err on the side of the sale.

Mickey, on the other hand, was adept at liberating cases of beer from the then Floodgate Store and no doubt other establishments in or near Navarro with less than adequate security systems. Those of us with hot-rod cars welcomed the opening of this additional supply line. We certainly weren't about to question its heritage, since it would have been hypocritical to decline stolen beer when its intended purpose was to fuel our drunken drag races up and down the Valley.

Like all Valley delinquents, we looked up to the myths of the delinquents who had come before us. We were still marveling at the legend of a young man by the name of Kinnie McKinney who held the nighttime record from Boonville to Cloverdale on the wrong side of the road with his lights off. He had made it in 28 minutes in something called "The Blue Goose." Now that was something to look up to.

The best we had ever been able to accomplish was for David Bloyd, myself and my cousin Mike, to turn Gary Robertson's '55 Chevy completely upside down in the middle of Highway 128, right at Farrers' turn. All the beer we had stored on the floorboards came crashing down on us as the car rolled over.

Trapped in an upside-down car on a blind turn where logging trucks were known to barrel along, we somehow managed to extricate ourselves from the car and immediately began to ditch the remaining contraband beer. Fortunately, we didn't have to worry about the empties, as we had spent the evening tossing them out the windows as we sped up and down the Valley in our usual search for amusement.

Carefully, but regretfully, we tossed the remaining unopened cans as far as we could into the dark. Unfortunately, we were throwing in the wrong direction and the cans were only traveling about three feet in the air before hitting the bank-side of the road, and immediately and incriminatingly falling to our feet. Once we had successfully corrected our launch coordinates, and ditched the beer, our worst fears were realized with the arrival of the Valley's only professional law enforcement officer, Russel Troxler, CHP. The Valley Sheriff, Carl Passmore, we knew to be safely home in bed — or so we imagined.

Officer Troxler actually had our undying respect, based on the fact that his Highway Patrol car could actually lay rubber (squeal tires) when it shifted from second to third gear with — get this, a slush box (automatic transmission). It was a continuous wonder to us that this was even possible. However, we had witnessed this phenomena several times as he would apparently receive a radio call and blast out of downtown Boonville leaving verifiable screech marks on the pavement.

But this night, as luck would have it, Officer Troxler was on an emergency call now, something about, "Hell's Angels in Cloverdale," he shouted as he merely tossed us flares and roared off. Truly, fortune shined on us. It was not yet midnight and no one was dead or even arrested. Gary was terribly worried though. "My father's gonna kill me," he kept saying. This issue was of considerable concern to us all because parents, unlike police, still held some small vestiges of authority over us.

Years later I always remembered Gary's father with the nickname, "Fuckin Ukiah." This was because of the fact that he couldn't use a sentence in the English language without saying "fuckin’." This made for some rather amusing sentence construction, when nearly every noun was proceeded by the word "fuckin’." And it wasn't Ukiah, he said, but "YOU-ki-ah." "Fuckin’ YOU-ki-ah."

Now this is not to criticize. Gary's father was from Arkansas, like just about half of the working families in the Valley in those days. Their use of language fascinated me, and years later I came to miss their mangled syntax with all of its colorful, "I ain't got no…" and "Where's he at?" double negative speak. It's almost as interesting as Ebonics and both have the same Southern regional characteristics. After all, it’s what adds character and keeps our language fresh, even if part of me also reacts with the fingernails on the blackboard response when I hear it.

As for the profanity, my aunt always used to say that my Uncle Avon, whose every other word was the somewhat more acceptable, "Goddamn," wasn't really aware of what his language meant to others. It was as natural to him as his bib overalls, which I never saw him out of except when he went to San Francisco to buy a new car — Buicks and Oldsmobiles for him and Pink Lincolns for my aunt. Or when they went to Europe and he scratched his name on the wall of the Roman Coliseum with his car keys, "Avon Ray, Philo."

No, I can't fault any of them. In fact, I still hear one old timer at the drive-in whose use of "goddamn" rivals my uncle's. Except he uses a lot more emphasis. As in, "I closed the GODDAMN gate and walked up to the GODDAMN house," etc. He's a master, just as natural as breathing to him. (Hell, Mark Twain had a swearing room built into his Tiffany decorated mansion in Hartford, Connecticut. I'm not about to argue with the guy who wrote "Huck Finn.")

Anyway, Gary was worried, so we somehow managed to roll the car over and get in. To our surprise it started right up and everything seemed pretty normal except for our having to sit all scrunched down in the seats, due to the fact that the top was crushed down to about where our shoulders would normally be. About this time, someone had the idea to use our feet to try and push the top back up. This actually seemed to work wonderfully, except for the fact that the next morning we could see the real result, which was a crushed roof with a bunch of lumps in it where we had pushed up with our feet.

I can't remember what happened to that car, although I know Gary's father didn't kill him. And my Aunt said what she always said, which was, "If I ever catch the guy who's selling you kids that beer I'm gonna kill him."

Well, she never did find out and the fact is we pretty much got it ourselves, with a little help from Mickey.

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LOCAL BOY MAKES GOOD

FFA PREPARES YOUNG IMMIGRANT FOR CAREER SUCCESS

by Jessica Mozo

When Pedro Magdaleno arrived at California’s Anderson Valley High School in the ninth grade, he was a young immigrant from Mexico who spoke no English and had no idea what FFA was.

“I met Beth Swehla, the agriculture teacher, and she showed me the school’s 12 hens and a rooster in the pasture,” Magdaleno recalls. “I had never seen chickens like those, and I was interested in raising poultry, so I signed up for her Intro to Ag class.”

Soon after, Magdaleno joined the school’s FFA chapter.

“I thought FFA was the coolest thing ever, but I always needed someone to translate for me, so it inspired me to learn more English,” he says. “I started paying extra attention in my ESL class. My English was really broken at first, but the following year, I was able to be sentinel for our FFA chapter. Later, I became treasurer and vice president.”

That was 12 years ago. Today, Magdaleno works as a helicopter repairman in the U.S. Army. He credits his FFA experience as one of the primary reasons for his success, both personally and professionally.

“I graduated in 2007 from high school with honors. I couldn’t afford college, and I was an undocumented immigrant,” he says. “But the leadership and skills I acquired through FFA had so much meaning for me and provided me with a foundation to build on.”

After high school, Magdaleno worked at Tractor Supply Co. and attended community college, where he graduated from a two-year program with honors.

“It actually took me longer than two years because we had some family challenges, and I had to focus on making a living and surviving,” he says. “My mom and dad had six children, and when I was 19 and 20 years old, I had to be the head of our household and support my siblings financially.”

But he never gave up. Due to the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) immigration policy enacted by President Obama in 2012, Magdaleno was able to become a legal immigrant and apply for college scholarships. He earned a full-ride scholarship to the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), where he completed his bachelor’s degree in social sciences in 2016.

“After that, I pursued my master’s degree in clinical social work from USC [the University of Southern California], and I took courses where I learned about how PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] affects military families,” he says. “When I earned my master’s degree, I ended up enlisting in the U.S. Army as a helicopter repairman. I plan to make this a career and become an officer in the Army.”

Meanwhile, Magdaleno was able to pursue U.S. citizenship. During his time in the Army, he says he has seen things he would like to change. That’s why he’s planning to move up the ladder and become an officer.

“If I can’t change it, at least I can improve it to help benefit our soldiers,” he says.

Now 31 years old and stationed in Colorado, Magdaleno recently visited his high school in California and had the opportunity to speak to current agriculture students.

“I stopped by my former FFA advisor’s office to thank her for teaching me so much, and she invited me to give her students some advice,” he says. “My advice to students is that it’s not about where you came from that matters – it’s where you want to be. Your accomplishments shouldn’t be measured on how much money you are making. It’s more about your efforts, your struggles and how you make your dreams feasible for you.”

That has certainly been true for Magdaleno.

“If someone tells you no – that something is not possible for you – you have to exhaust every option you have. I have never walked away from an opportunity to make doors open for me,” he says. “But it takes hard work and ethics.”

Magdaleno also says students should appreciate what they are doing in the moment.

“In high school, you don’t always appreciate the opportunities you have,” he says. “When teachers give you advice, hold onto that advice because it’s valuable to you. Every piece of information, every opportunity, becomes an asset. Your future success starts with you.”

(ffa.org)

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HENDY WOODS IN THE ENDLESSLY MARVELOUS ANDERSON VALLEY

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BOSCO’S BOGUS CLAIMS ON NCRA

ON MONDAY, December 9, 2019, former North Coast Railroad Authority board member and former government anti-trust attorney and former Novato Councilman Bernie Myers presented the following statement to the North Coast Railroad Authority Board.

By way of explanation, NWP, Northwest Pacific Railroad, is the private company co-owned by former Congressman Doug Bosco which has “operated” and “maintained” the rail line under a very favorable scam arrangement with the NCRA since the 1990s and which stands to be paid a substantial amount — in the millions — as part of the closure of the NCRA in favor of a different Democratic Party Scam now called the Great Redwood Trail fantasy.

Also, Mr. Myers’ mention of “the EIR case” is a reference to a successful lawsuit filed by Friends of the Eel River and the Arcata based Californians for Alternative For Toxics who successfully argued that the NCRA had to do an EIR before doing whatever it was that they never did just like everyone else.


Good morning and welcome to Novato. My name is Bernard Meyers. I served on the NCRA Board from 2007 until 2013.

As NCRA wraps up its 30th year of existence, it should answer the following questions:

What benefits did NCRA provide to the public since it entered into its Lease with Northwestern Pacific Railroad (NWP) in 2006? Your answer might include on a yearly basis for each year since January 1, 2012 (as NWP began operations in 2011).

How much revenue did NWP earn?

How many carloads did NWP carry?

How many trucks did NWP's traffic remove from the roadways?

How many customers did NWP service (counting even 1 delivery as a customer in the given year)?

How many carloads did NWP handle for SMART, and what revenue was earned by NWP?

What other benefits were provided by NWP to the public?

How much money did NWP pay to NCRA for the privilege of utilizing NCRA's tracks?

What did those benefits cost?

How can NCRA save California taxpayers before it goes out of existence? In answering this question, please include the amount of money NWP claims it is owed by NCRA. Please itemize the amounts, including any interest being claimed and the interest rate.

I understand that NWP is in negotiations to secure payment for what NWP has paid or loaned to or for the benefit of NCRA and for what NWP might earn were it to continue operating under the September 2006 Lease. I ask that you carefully examine what NWP might be owed, as well as what NWP owes to NCRA. Has NCRA sought any reimbursement from NWP for expenditures made by NCRA? If so, when, and to what avail? If not, why not?

I ask this because NCRA has had to pay approximately $2 million to the plaintiffs in the EIR case. However, NCRA took the actions it did at the behest of NWP, as shown in the March 13, 2013 letter from Mr. Bosco to Mr. Neary and to the NCRA Board on which I sat. Has NCRA requested reimbursement from NWP for that $2 million? If so, what response has there been? If not, why not?

In addition to the $2 million, NCRA paid perhaps $500,000 in attorney's fees to the firm hired by NWP, and is to pay an additional amount to NCRA's former counsel, Mr. Neary. Has NCRA requested reimbursement from NWP for that $500,000? If so, what response has there been? If not, why not? Has NCRA requested reimbursement from NWP for the funds paid or claimed by Mr. Neary? If so, what response has there been? If not, why not?

In addition, NCRA spent about $3 million in taxpayer funds to conduct the EIR. Has NCRA asked NWP to reimburse any of those funds? If so, what response has there been? If not, why not?

NWP's debt to NCRA regarding the EIR matter is distinct from the Court’s ruling that NWP is not liable to the EIR plaintiffs. The issue is whether NWP is liable to NCRA for NWP's conduct that resulted in severe legal consequences for NCRA.

The Lease requires that four "Conditions" be satisfied before it is a valid, binding agreement. (Lease Section IV, page 5): This Agreement is conditioned upon … C. NCRA having complied with the California Environmental Quality Act ("CEQA") as it may apply to this transaction. (Emphasis added)

In an effort to comply with this Condition (as well as NCRA's promises to the CTC that an EIR would be done), on June 20, 2011, after spending over three years and $3 million funded by the CTC to prepare an EIR, NCRA certified an EIR covering its recently repaired line and operations thereon. See, the NCRA website for the F(inal)EIR, May 2011. Soon thereafter NCRA and NWP were sued by two environmental groups over the adequacy of the EIR.

On or soon after the certification of the EIR the parties deemed Condition C. satisfied. But in April 2013, NCRA voided the certification. NCRA's action to void its own EIR was the result of demands by NWP. For example, in his letter dated March 13, 2013 to NCRA Counsel Neary (copy attached), NWP Counsel Bosco wrote:

Northwestern Pacific Railroad Company ("NWPCo") respectfully requests that the North Coast Railroad Authority ("NCRA") Board rescind Resolution 2011-02, dated June 20, 2011. … NCRA's 2011 "approval" was not required by law, any state or federal agency, any court, or any consent decree previously entered into by NCRA. … Rescission of the 2011 Resolution will serve the important purpose of ending the litigation favorably … NCRA Must Rescind Resolution No. 2011-02 … NWPCo strongly believes that the so-called "reopening project" that NCRA purported approved in Resolution No. 2011-02 is unnecessary, a legal nullity, and of no legal consequence. … NWPCo insist[s] that NCRA make clear that the EIR has no official status and that it is not required by law… NCRA was mistaken to imply that its 2011 EIR and "approval" had any legal standing, and this mistake should be rectified by NCRA Board action rescinding Resolution 2011-02. (Emphasis in original)

At the next NCRA Board meeting of April 10, 2013, NCRA complied with NWP's demand. NCRA adopted the position that its actions were governed solely by federal law and in particular, that it did not need to comply with California's CEQA law, so no EIR was required. NCRA repealed portions of its June 20, 2011 certification resolution. The previously passed EIR became a nullity.

NCRA also followed NWP's direction and adopted a new litigation position of not needing any CEQA clearance. This was solely due to the actions of NWP. That ill-conceived strategy resulted in protracted litigation and the July 27, 2017 California Supreme Court brilliant opinion by the Chief Justice against NCRA. There followed a judgment against NCRA and the substantial attorneys fees payments. Plus, the $3 million paid for the EIR was wasted, despite Caltrans warning NCRA and NWP in writing (copy attached) and orally at the NCRA meeting of April 10, 2013 that by revoking the EIR NCRA would be subject to further action by the CTC, including reimbursement of the State funds used for the preparation of the EIR .

There is another reason why NWP should reimburse NCRA in connection with the EIR matter. If the Lease is valid, under Section XV. E. (pp. 45 - 46), NWP should pay all these expenses: “[NWP must] indemnify and hold NCRA harmless against any orders, judgments, causes of action, penalties, fees, claims, costs, liabilities, damages losses and expenses (including court costs and attorneys' fees) … of whatsoever nature or source for … (v) violation of any Applicable Laws…”

Thus, even if NWP had not requested NCRA to rescind the June 20, 2011 EIR certification, NWP is to hold NCRA harmless for the April 10, 2013 decertification, which inexorably led to the Supreme Court decision holding that NCRA violated CEQA. Given NWP's central role in the decertification, NWP must bear NCRA's costs in that misadventure under this provision, as well as an equitable matter. The portion of Section XV. E. regarding NWP not indemnifying NCRA to the extent that any NCRA claims arise out of or in connection with acts, omissions or negligence of NCRA (at Lease p. 46) does not absolve NWP, as NCRA's action in voiding its June 20, 2011 certification arose at the behest of NWP, and the clause does not apply if the acts, omissions or negligence was due to NWP, including NWP's agents contractors or affiliates.

It is to be noted that NCRA may inspect NWP's books, records and documents on forty-eight hour notice. Lease Section XVII. Accounting and Reporting, p. 54. NWP is required to maintain its records under Sections XVI. C. p. 54 and, for TCRP projects, XI. B. 5. (c), pp. 29 - 30.

Should you have any questions for me, I'll do my best to answer.

I ask that my submission be placed in the record and that NCRA respond in writing. Thank you.


So, as we read Mr. Myers statement, he’s saying that Bosco and Co’s claims on NCRA must be fully and legally vetted before the State of California hands over the money since much of what Bosco and Co. claim is bogus legal bills that were generated at the NWP’s behest.

Unfortunately, if history is any guide, the NCRA board — which includes Mendocino County Supervisor John McCowen who steadfastly defends every position the NCRA board takes at every opportunity — will ignore Myers — as they have in the past when he was on the NCRA Board himself — and rubberstamp Bosco’s bogus claims.

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ON CHRISTMAS DAY 1896, Colonel Griffith J. Griffith gifted Los Angeles with Griffith Park, the heart and lungs of our City. He envisioned a park that would be an antidote to the city, a "resort" for the plain people, open and free. For the next 115 years Griffith Park was a green escape for Angelenos who found recreation, rest, adventure, and breathing room there. Over the years, Colonel Griffith's descendants kept a hand in the vision by completing the Griffith-endowed Greek Theatre and Griffith Observatory and at times resorting to legal action when the park became the expedient answer to dilemmas linked to growth.

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COUNTY CEO Carmel Angelo summarized her latest CEO Report on Tuesday. The report, as per ancient custom, contained nothing pertinent to the public interest and replete with admin-babble mixed with self-advertisements.

HOWEVER, the CEO did note that the report was longer than usual because it contained the inert 43-page “After Action Report” on the 2017 Redwood Complex Fire which, as we noted last week, was one of the most incompetently prepared “reports” Mendo has ever produced, and that’s already a very low bar. Besides being highly repetitive and written in vague-to-opaque language, the report contained nothing about the warning system or the emergency operations center staffing and equipment or the overall effectiveness of the response. Mostly, it simply said that 'communications' — whatever is meant by that elastic term — could have been better.

“Is the report perfect?,” asked Angelo. “No. No report is perfect.”

That’s true. No report is perfect. But this defective report is the first report that the CEO has ever conceded was “not perfect.”

Worse, none of the Supervisors picked up on the “imperfect” report. Here we have an important subject, disaster preparedness, that clearly calls for a competent after action report, and our $84k/year-plus-generous-perks Supervisors can’t bring themselves to even ask if the County has improved its disaster preparedness since the disastrous 2017 Redwood Complex fires?

(Mark Scaramella)

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OLD TIMERS WILL REMEMBER…..

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AFTER AN INTERESTING HEARING on the renewal of the Federal Trapper program last Tuesday, an-old school trio of Supervisors, two of whom are lame ducks — retiring Board Chair Carre Brown, retiring Supervisor John McCowen and Fourth District Supervisor Dan Gjerde — voted 3-2 (Supervisors Haschak and Williams dissenting) to continue to subsidize the County’s welfare ranchers. Supervisor Williams thought that about half the $170k program cost for killing troublesome bears, mountain lions, foxes and coyotes which occasionally prey on livestock, amounted to a subsidy to a single industry, which Williams opposes on principle. Supervisor Split-the-Diff Haschak thought the County could do more to encourage non-lethal methods of predator control.

IN the abstract, the discussion had some merit on both sides. But when you know that several of the ranchers who spoke in favor of the program, including Peter Bradford and Larry Mailliard of Anderson Valley, are very wealthy and could cover the $85k subsidy out of their pocket change, you discover that for all its 21st century pretense, Mendo’s old-boy ranchers' 19th century attitude of claiming a divine right of free government help still prevails.

At one point, several people tried to point out that the sheep population in Mendo has gone down by several thousand in recent years. But when Williams tried to pin down the reasons for that decline, all he got was vague opinions from the ranchers and the Ag Commissioner that it had something to do with wild animals preying on their vulnerable herds.

Animal predation may be a factor, but probably a small one, since the defenders of the program aggressively refused to provide actual numbers.

But as young Coast sheep rancher Gowan Batist pointed out in one of the day’s most cogent observations, it not as simple as that:

Batist: “I am a fifth-generation in Mendocino County resident. I am the farm manager at Fortunate Farms in Caspar. I also sit on the board of the California Association of Family Farmers. I am on the advisory board for California Climate Smart Agriculture. I was voted California Young Farmer of the Year in 2016. I am very integrated into not just farming in Mendocino County historically, but also to the farm community in the whole state. These are things that are very important to me. I have the privilege of a very wide community to consult with and draw on. I raise sheep. A lot of people say that sheep are the most vulnerable livestock that you can have, that lambs are basically nature’s tater tots — everything wants to eat them. But since implementing non-lethal control methods on my farm I have not had a single coyote loss in six years. And I have had one mountain lion loss in the last six years. When we talk about the removal of apex carnivores, it important to realize that this is not an arithmetic equation. These are complex interrelationships with emergent properties. The one mountain lion loss that we had was in the immediate aftermath of a legal removal of a mountain lion in our area by a neighbor. What happens when lethal action is taken — and I have seen this on my ranch over and over again, and this is something that my grandfather spoke about and something that is commonly known — is that in the aftermath of a lethal control there is a shakeup. There is a power vacuum. There are cubs that would otherwise have dispersed that don't. They behave badly. There are cubs that are starving when otherwise they would be taught how to hunt. It is not as simple as removal of a problem individual — if a problem individual can be affirmatively identified which is not always the case. I would like to speak about sheep ranching in Mendocino County in general. I am the great-great-granddaughter of a long-time sheep rancher in Mendocino County and I raise sheep myself here. I do not think it's accurate to say that the problem is predators. Or that the problem is a lack of ability to control predators. We have the average age of the American farmer being 70 years old. We have lost our USDA certified slaughterhouse facilities — Marin Sun Farms which is the one that most people I know use has announced that they will no longer carry a private-label. We have the international collapse of the wool market. We have a lot of factors going on that put a huge amount of pressure on our community and we are a small and threatened community. There is a great deal that the County could do to help support us. But I don't think that promoting the lethal control of predators is one of those things. When it comes down to it —

Board Chair and Farm Bureau stalwart Carre Brown, as much as an autovote for welfare ranchers as you can find in Official Mendo, interrupted: “Ma’am, your time is up.”

“Okay,” replied Batist as she walked back to her seat.

No one expressed any further interest in Ms. Batist’s proposals, which she was not allowed to mention.

However, on the Fifth District Facebook page later that day, Ms. Batist added: “The science is clear that lethal predator control is outdated and ineffective, based on old assumptions about how the natural world works that are deeply wrong. As part of the new generation of ranchers and land managers in this county I am offended that county funds are subsidizing bad land management that destabilizes fragile animal communities putting my operation at higher risk, and flagrantly kills non target species including pets. It's absolutely abhorrent.”

Among the arguments of the Welfare Ranchers was the legitimate point that if there’s no federal trapper program some ranchers will resort to even worse methods like leg traps, indiscriminate hunting, and ill-applied poisons which harm a lot more than just a problem animal. But as true as that is, it’s all the more reason that the welfare ranchers pay for their part of the program.

When Williams and Haschak asked about how the trapper program might help with genuine problem animals like feral hogs and feral pit bulls freed by outback pot growers roaming the countryside, the answer they got was that nothing much can be done; those problems are essentially irremediable, so the program won't even help where it's really needed.

Also on that Fifth District Facebook page a woman named Carol Misseldine concluded: “I am wildly disappointed in four members of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors tonight. They heard from many thoughtful and creative constituents about non-lethal means to address human/wildlife conflicts that are more cost-effective, compassionate and effective than lethal methods. All of these strategies are based in sound science and all are being used right now by forward thinking communities. And yet four of the Supervisors voted to certify a wildly insufficient Environmental Impact Report about this issue, and three (McCowen, Gjerde and Brown) voted to renew the County's lethal wildlife management program wherein Mendocino's majestic and native wildlife, including cougars, bears, coyotes and foxes, are gunned down, trapped and otherwise brutally killed for the purported benefit of ranchers. Public tax dollars are being used to subsidize commercial businesses and those public dollars are being used for methods that are not as effective as non-lethal. Unspeakably frustrating. Thank you Supervisor Ted Williams for voting for the animals, science, fiscal responsibility and common sense. This fight is not over. I will continue to work shoulder to shoulder with extraordinary men and women who are as committed as I am to moving the needle on respectful coexistence with Mendocino County wildlife. Camilla Fox, Gowan Batist, Keli Hendricks and my comrades-in-arms in the Mendocino Non-lethal Wildlife Alliance. Onward!”

Supervisor Ted Williams added: “Of the $170k/year, it was estimated that approximately half goes towards subsidizing private business. An $85k/year handout isn't right when we lack ambulance coverage and have people sleeping on sidewalks. Priorities.”

(Mark Scaramella)

* * *

* * *

THURSDAY NIGHT'S DEMO DEBATE was "won" by Bernie, Liz and Yang, with Bernie getting off the best line of the night:

* * *

ED NOTE: WALKING IN THE DARK

Anderson Valley Way and Lambert Lane are relatively car-free, especially early in the morning when I huff and puff my three daily miles. I know them so intimately I can walk them in the dark. Not a soul stirs on early morning Lambert Lane, especially after you get across the bridge, and I wonder how much longer before that ancient structure falls into the creek. But Anderson Valley Way? Twice over the long years, out either long after dark or an hour before daylight (thanks to non-daylight savings time), AV Way can be been positively thrilling. You know how it is; you carry a flashlight but after your eyes adjust you snap off the light and truck right along, national government radio's frenetic accounts of yesterday's catastrophes piped in through your earphones as you're borne along on a tsunami of distortions of what you take to be reality, the skies diamonds, that the song says accompany Lucy glittering way, way up there. Was it one of the Russian writers who has a priest assuring a child that when we die we each get our own star, each sized according to our earthly significance? Anyway, so one very late and very dark night with an impenetrable tule fog right down to the pavement, visibility zero, I walked straight into a sheep. I jumped back in total shock and alarm, the beast clattered off. I know the road from innumerable mornings and nights, but I remember that night it was so dark my flashlight was useless and I'd slowed my pace, waving my walking stick (and dog repeller) side to side like a blindman would, but I still hit the sheep's mid-section. Then, one recent, early morning about five, no moon, no illumination of any kind, the glib lib, Tanzeena Vega, just signing on government radio after glib lib Hartman (am I the only person in the County who ever hears these people?) and I know I'm the only person walking in all of Anderson Valley, a thought I find oddly comforting, and darned if a guy walking from the other direction suddenly appears, and appears so closely I feel him brushing past me as he moves on without saying a word as I, startled out of my ancient skin, shout, "Hey! Wot the hell?" He just kept on going like some kind of zombie. When I report this positively weird occurrence to leery colleagues, one guy says, "It was probably that one-armed Mexican. You know, the drunk guy." No way. I know that guy. And he knows me. He wouldn't do that. When he's drunk he sorta careens, he doesn't stiff-walk, and zombie man was a stiff-walking white guy, I'm pretty sure. Besides, nutso behavior is pretty much a white man's franchise. More prosaically and much less ethnically biased, another friend writes the episode off as, "You dreamed it. Never happened." I was rather insulted. I'm old and I know I'm slipping, but I still know dreamland from awake, if not woke. Then, thinking about it over the ensuing days, maybe he was just another early morning government radio exerciser, maybe a fellow OCD vic, someone who just has to keep to his routine. Maybe there are two people in the County who hear Hartman and Vega in the morning.

* * *

* * *

THE REAL MCCOY: GUILTY

UKIAH, Wed., Dec. 18. — A Mendocino County Superior Court jury returned from its deliberations Wednesday afternoon to announce it had found the trial defendant guilty of the related crime of battery, a misdemeanor.

Going into this week's trial, defendant Anthony Robert McCoy, age 48, of Ukiah, was charged with having committed a similar but more specialized crime — battery on a person with whom the defendant has had a prior dating relationship, also a misdemeanor.

McCoy

There basically is no difference in the possible sentencing options available under the original charge and those available for the charge for which the jury returned its guilty verdict. One consequence of note, however, is a person convicted of battery is prohibited for 10 years under California law from owning or possessing any firearm or ammunition.

Defendant McCoy was already on court probation when he was arrested in July and charged with latest offense that was the subject of this week's trial.

The investigating law enforcement agencies were the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office and the District Attorney's own investigators.

The prosecutor who presented the People's evidence was Deputy District Attorney Jessica Guest.

* * *

CATCH OF THE DAY, December 19, 2019

Campbell, Cilibrasi, Daniele

ROBERT CAMPBELL, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, parole violation. (Frequent Flyer)

TIMOTHY CILIBRASI, Mendocino. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, battery on peace officer, resisting.

ANDREW DANIELE, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-loitering, trespassing, resisting.

Labrash, McConnell, Severin

MATTHEW LABRASH, Redwood Valley. Contempt of court, disobeying court order.

JASON MCCONNELL, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

JOSEPH SEVERIN, Dunsmuir/Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

Strickland, Urbina, Wiltse

STEVEN STRICKLAND, Potter Valley. Disobeying court order, resisting.

MARCO URBINA, San Jose/Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs.

DON WILTSE JR., Laytonville. Parole violation.

* * *

BOEING’S PERILOUS BUNGLING REQUIRES NEW LEADERSHIP

by Ralph Nader

The Boeing executives and marketeers responsible for over-ruling Boeing engineers on the 737 MAX are still in charge of this very troubled aerospace company. Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg and the rubber-stamp Board of Directors, with two trophy ambassadors, are still running Boeing – thirteen months after the deadly 737 MAX crash in Indonesia and nine months after the deadly 737 MAX crash in Ethiopia that together took 346 lives. Boeing said in October that it would appoint a board member with deep air safety experience, but it has not happened yet. (Muilenburg is the only board member with an aeronautical engineering background)

Boeing has displayed an egregious pattern of mismanagement. The company is in trouble from contractors, the Department of Defense, and NASA. California Representative John Garamendi said Boeing had “serious quality issues” with the KC-46 aerial tanker used by the military and accused the company of “pushing profits over quality and safety.” According to NASA’s Inspector General Paul Martin, NASA “essentially paid Boeing higher prices to address a schedule slippage caused by Boeing’s 13-month delay.”

First-rate former Boeing engineers, including John Barnett and Ed Pierson, are exposing the reckless conditions at the Boeing 737 and 787 Dreamliner plants in Washington state and South Carolina.

Boeing managers and directors are still on the job and paying themselves handsomely. These reckless marketeers are able to get away with this because Congress and the White House have disabled the FAA and turned it from a safety watchdog into an industry lapdog, leaving Boeing free to self-certify its planes.

With intensifying investigation by the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure, under the chairmanship of Congressman Peter DeFazio, a stunning internal FAA risk assessment turned up. After the October 29, 2018 Lion Air Flight 610 was hijacked by powerful MCAS software which took control of the aircraft from its pilots. A December 2018 FAA memo concluded that there would be 15 catastrophic crashes globally over the life of the 737 MAX fleet – ranging 30 to 45 years. That would mean the deaths of at least 2900 human beings.

Dr. Alan Diehl, an aerospace engineer with extensive experience at the FAA, at the Department of Defense, and in private business, told the Wall Street Journal that this prediction “would be an unacceptable number in the modern aviation-safety world.” The FAA analysis, surfacing very late in the wake of the two planes going down due to Boeing’s criminal negligence, was conditioned on the 737 MAX not flying until there are design and software corrections.

Chairman DeFazio noted other design problems with the Boeing 737 MAX, including rudder vulnerabilities. Boeing leadership has displayed all sorts of derelictions, including refusing to adequately inform pilots about the problems with the 737 MAX, producing faulty training manuals, and refusing to insist on full simulator training. Not only that, but the 787 Dreamliner has been found to have inadequate protection in case of lightning strikes (another Boeing bosses over-ruling of their own engineer’s warnings). Boeing also laid off hundreds of quality control inspectors in its factories, preferring to rely on machines.

The FAA’s new chief, Stephen Dickson, recently warned Boeing to stop announcing ungrounding times for the approximately 400 737 MAX already in the hands of the airlines. He indicated that the FAA is stiffening its backbone a little by saying that the ungrounding schedule will be decided by the FAA. Boeing has just announced it was suspending production of the 737 MAX for the time being.

The next step for Dickson would be to ask FAA Deputy Administrator Daniel Elwell and Associate Administrator for Safety Ali Bahrami to resign. Elwell and Bahrami turned their backs on airline passenger safety, let Boeing dictate its own safety decisions, and kept the public and Congress in the dark. There is no way the FAA can recover its responsibilities so long as Elwell and Ali Bahrami are still in positions of any responsibility.

Bahrami admitted he wasn’t even aware of his own agency’s risk assessment of the Boeing 737 MAX, noted above.

Meanwhile, the families of the deceased continue to advocate that the Boeing 737 MAX be required to undergo full certification with full pilot simulator training. In their grief, these wonderful family members are fighting daily for the future safety of tens of millions of airline passengers.

Please see flyersrights.org for updates and your participation. You can find their comprehensive report at the following link: flyersrights.org/737-max/white-paper/.

And see a Democracy Now! Interview on Boeing’s misdeeds: democracynow.org/2019/12/16/ralph_nader_boeing_737_max_jet

(Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!)

* * *

* * *

MAKES ME WONDER

Editor,

Our nation is in the middle of an historic event, a crisis if you will: the impeachment of Donald Trump, our president. Democrats are trying to follow the Constitution. Republicans are holding fast to their man. It makes me wonder.

I was a teacher for 34 years. During those years, I learned that teachers were held to a high moral standard. Occasionally I would swear in class only to be admonished by my students. They would tell me, “You can’t say that; you’re a teacher.” I believe this cloak of morality holds true for all teachers.

Now the question is, why should we as a nation hold our president to a lower standard? If anything, we should hold him to a higher standard. He represents our nation. The world is watching. Yet he continues to lie, cheat and disgrace his office. The man has no shame.

If I, as a teacher, had been accused of just one of the crimes leveled at him, I would have lost my teaching credential and been banned from teaching for life. When I became a teacher, I swore to uphold this moral code of conduct. Too bad we can’t, or won’t, hold Trump to the same code of conduct and moral standards.

Charles Garcia

Fort Bragg

* * *

* * *

2020 WHALE RUN AND WALK - register now to ensure a T-shirt

If you want to ensure getting a fabulous Whale Run & Walk T-SHIRT….NOW IS THE TIME TO REGISTER

Annual Whale Run & Walk

Saturday March 21, 2020

Sponsored by Soroptimist International of Fort Bragg: soroptimistfortbraggca.org

10 Mile - 10K Run - 5K Run Start > 9 am

5K Fun Walk Start > 9:15 am

Kiddies Race (Ages 4-10: ½-mile run) Starts > 8:30 am

REGISTER NOW:

Go to the Whale Run Website and find links to register on-line or by mail: https://soroptimistfortbraggca.org/whalerun/

Or Google Whale Run

Register by March 7 to ensure a T-shirt (T-shirts only available at the race)

For more information email whalerun@mcn.org

* * *

* * *

ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY

This discussion reminds me of a story I heard when I was very young.

A tramp is trudging through an icy suburb one Christmas Eve. He’s attracted to a brightly lit window and wanders over to see what’s what.

He finds a happy family decorating their tree, laughing & eating, singing…the general picture of happiness.

He thinks to himself “All I ever wanted was a dry warm place to sleep and a decent meal occasionally. Perhaps I set my sights too high?”

* * *

* * *

SMART TRAIN COVERUP

In the Marin Independent Journal:

SMART withholds daily and weekly ridership records as train seats go unfilled

by Kevin Fixler

As part of its effort to rally voter support for an early sales-tax extension that would stabilize its finances, SMART has regularly touted figures showing overall ridership, which last month surpassed 1.6 million passengers.

The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit agency has routinely submitted monthly figures to a national transportation database since it started service in August 2017.

But how full are its trains each day? SMART has repeatedly declined to release daily and weekly ridership figures that would give the public a better gauge of how successful the North Bay’s commuter line has been, showing, for instance, who is riding the train and when they are hopping aboard during the week.

Over the past four months, SMART officials have refused to provide news outlets, including the Marin Independent Journal, with the more detailed ridership data — information that other public transit agencies including BART and Golden Gate Transit routinely share…

The stance raises questions about SMART’s commitment to transparency at a politically crucial time for the agency in the run-up to the March vote on its ballot measure, which needs a two-thirds majority in the two counties to pass.

The measure would guarantee SMART tens of millions of dollars each year in public subsidies for another 30 years by extending to 2059 its quarter-cent sales tax, which covers most of its operations.

The start of service to the Larkspur terminal at week’s end — one of the system’s biggest accomplishments — is expected to grow ridership with improved rail-to-ferry access and could burnish its chances at the ballot box…

Rob Anderson's comment:

This story originally appeared in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.

Whenever the Independent Journal publishes a story on the SMART train, the comments to the story are essential reading.

Richard Hall is one of the most important commenters on this issue. One of his comments to this story:

There are a limited number of peak commute two or three carriage trains that happen to be full going in one direction in the mornings. You presume that capacity could be easily increased, but this denies certain realities:

  • SMART cannot increase the service interval to less than 30 minutes because it is an 85% single track line with limited passing points (Ignacio and downtown San Rafael)
  • To increase capacity by increasing frequency would require double tracking and eminent domain land purchases. The land purchase and construction costs would easily require an additional 1/4c sales tax. SMART's own polls have shown that voters barely had the appetite for 1/4c sales tax (had to try three times) and 1/2 cent would never pass.
  • To increase capacity by increasing the number of carriages would require redesigning every single station from the current 3 car capacity. This would be difficult to impossible, especially in locations such as downtown San Rafael. Can you imagine a four car train sitting in San Rafael station where it would have to block a road? The width of a San Rafael city block only allows for 3 carriage trains.

Sure the train blows away traffic on 101, but that's serving just 1/8% of Marin and Sonoma residents at a preposterous cost and terrible ROI. For the minimal benefit to this tiny ridership 60,000 daily car users and 9,000 daily transit center trips are disrupted and delayed by the train.

Officially reported ridership is in decline. SMART's own EIR projects that the Larkspur extension will add just 231 additional riders. (emphasis added)

See also Mike Arnold here, here and Sonoma-Marin train line debuts Larkspur Station and easier trips to and from city.

Streetsblog loves the not-so-smart train, because trains aren't cars, which makes them almost as good as bikes: SMART Celebrates Larkspur Extension.

Streetsblog editor Roger Rudick wouldn't have been hired four years ago if he didn't support the even dumber high-speed rail project.

(District5Diary.com)

* * *

“Three’s a party.”

* * *

MENTAL HEALTH AUDITS

JOHN SAKOWICZ WRITES:

Dr. Holden,

Independent Financial Audits of RQMC and RCS are all I ask…those audits, and that more LPS conservatorships be sought for homeless clients who are too seriously alcoholic or mentally ill to care for themselves.

A little personal history…

You know, back when Ortner had the contract, I took the Civil Service exam for be Mendocino County's public guardian. My score ranked me second in a pool of 38 candidates. I was interviewed. Nothing. No one was hired.

The job came open again. I took the exam again. I ranked third in a pool of 36 candidates. Interviewed again. And again, nothing.

No one was hired.

I was told that most of the candidates were lawyers or paralegals. I knew some of them. Most seemed qualified.

I filed a complaint with the Civil Service Commission.

Again, nothing. None other than County Counsel Doug Losak argued against my case.

It was clear to me that someone was blocking my candidacy for the job, even though for several years I was a public guardian in Massaschusetts when I was executive director of AIDS Project Worcester, and later, at the Cape Cod AIDS Council. I was awarded proclamations from the Massachusetts Senate and House of Representatives for this work. I have lots of other legal experience, too…even law enforcement experience.

Who ended up getting the county job?

No one.

HHSA Deputy Director Tom Pinizzotto took over the job…with disastrous results, I may add. He had no legal background. None. He had been a mental health program administrator…and flunky for Carmel Angelo.

My enmity for Carmel Angelo began at that moment. Not only was Angelo blocking me from getting a county job; worse, she was not acting in the best interests for the county's mental health clients in putting a clown like Pinizzotto in charge of the LPS conservatorships.

As a footnote, as soon as the Ortner deal blew up, Pinizzotto was shit canned along with Stacey Cryer.

Angelo made scapegoats out of both of them for the Ortner fiasco. She fired them. Then, killed their careers. She totally threw them both under the bus. I would be surprised if either Cryer or Pinizzotto were working today.

Carmel Angelo is a Machiavellian…a monster, really.


J HOLDEN WRITES:

FYI. More to come.

By the way, I’m not an “apologist for RQMC”. I’ve yet to see that they have anything to apologize for. I have known the Schraders professionally for decades and admired their dedicated work on behalf of our people with mental illness. A far cry superior to when the County and then OMG were doing the services, as the attached review chart clearly illustrates.

Also, I contacted Camille and she has no problem with a fair independent third-party audit.

* * *

FOUND OBJECT

47 Comments

  1. Harvey Reading December 21, 2019

    People can argue until they are blue in the face with the “true believers” of the world, all to no avail. I find it easier to take comfort in the knowledge that their numbers are declining. I also enjoy sending them packing on the rare occasions they come calling with their message of faith and hokum.

    • Louis Bedrock December 21, 2019

      There are insufferable fools in the world who want to impose their beliefs on you.

      However, there are also people like my friend David, an ultramonte Catholic, my late friend Larry, an unrepentant Jewish Zionist, my friend Alejandro, an artist and Jewish mystic, and Mr. Heller, who can defend their beliefs eloquently and unoffensively and with whom I enjoy having civilized arguments.

      • H.H.Heller December 21, 2019

        Louis,

        I am an insufferable fool, but I’ll accept the nice compliment.

  2. Louis Bedrock December 21, 2019

    Response to Mr. Heller:

    If something cannot be seen, heard, felt, or detected in any way, then it doesn’t exist.

    “You, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.”

    I’d prefer that gods exist—I like Athena—but I see no evidence for them. All evidence indicates that men created gods, not that gods created men.

    • H.H.Heller December 21, 2019

      What about a sense of humor?

      What about a ‘hunch’ —belief or idea about something that is not based on facts or evidence?

      Certainly these ‘exist’.

      • Louis Bedrock December 21, 2019

        These things are felt, can be described to an extent, and seem to be part of the mind.

      • Louis Bedrock December 21, 2019

        Mr. Heller, if you want to list the things that I can’t fully explain—or even understand, you will have a long list. I am not even a scientist; I merely taught science in elementary school.

        However, the distance between states of the mind like love, hate, a sense of humor, or a hunch and God is a great distance.

        Scientists can detect and measure brain activity connected to emotions and ideas. They’ve even linked religious belief to the temporal lobe.

        Gods are like bogeymen or zombies. They differ according to the cultures that create them. It’s hard to discuss something like a god when there are so many definitions and descriptions about what a god is.

        There is a good book that explains why people believe in gods: WHY WE BELIEVE IN GODS by J. Anderson Thompson, Jr., M.D.

        The book may be able to answer some of your questions better than I can.

      • Louis Bedrock December 21, 2019

        Anyway, thanks for a challenging and interesting discussion—even if neither of us has manged to change the mind of the other.

  3. Louis Bedrock December 21, 2019

    Mr. Heller:

    Re your question, “What breathes life into this chemical reaction?”

    I have no answer for your question.
    The question is similar to “Who created the universe?”

    Some might answer “God did’ but that begs the question
    “Who created God”

    If one answers that “God has always been”, my response is that perhaps “The universe always has been”.

    Perhaps one chemical reaction always leads to another.
    Perhaps there has always been a chain of chemical reactions.
    Honestly, I don’t know.
    However, “God is the original cause” doesn’t work for me.
    That God is a “Gap God” used to explain all gaps in human understanding of the universe. And there are still a lot of gaps.

    • H.H.Heller December 21, 2019

      Predating God is the uncaused cause — who or what caused g_d.

      We don’t know, we agree, yet, here we are…our mind (brain matter) thinking!

      • H.H.Heller December 21, 2019

        Like someone saying the Spanish language does not exist, just because they don’t speak it.

    • Louis Bedrock December 21, 2019

      “We don’t know, we agree, yet, here we are…our mind (brain matter) thinking!”

      —Yup.

      “Like someone saying the Spanish language does not exist, just because they don’t speak it.”

      I don’t see the analogy.

      • H.H.Heller December 21, 2019

        Our enormous EGO informing us that that which we know no thing about must not exist, and so IT IS!

  4. H.H.Heller December 21, 2019

    Mr. Bedrock, you assume all men despise vulgar, crass, cheap. Some men prefer it. Some don’t know the difference.

    • Louis Bedrock December 21, 2019

      Well said.
      I agree.

  5. Louis Bedrock December 21, 2019

    “Wipe your hand across your mouth, and laugh;
    The worlds revolve like ancient women
    Gathering fuel in vacant lots.”

  6. Craig Stehr December 20, 2019

    ~Zen Master Kakua Instructs~

    Enlightenment

    I’ve crossed the sea after Truth,
    Knowledge, that snare, must be defied.
    Here and there,
    I’ve worn out heaps of sandals.
    Now, moonlit water in the clear abyss.
    – Kakua
    terebess.hu/zen/mesterek/Kakua.html

  7. Harvey Reading December 20, 2019

    https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/12/20/roaming-charges-7/

    “+ The hearings weren’t so much a lesson in civics as a foreshadowing of the kind of blabbering cretins Betsy DeVos wants to turn the children of the Republic into. They both may be racists, but when it comes to oratorical chops Steve King is no John C. Calhoun. Basically, Congress is where you end up if can’t make it selling reverse mortgages to stroke victims or poisoning dandelions for ChemLawn.”

    “+ Pelosi helped corroborate GOP charges that the Democrats had become the new McCarthyites when she opened her indictment of Trump by reciting the noxious 1954 “under God” version of the Pledge of Allegiance, an artifact the McCarthy Era which would have appalled the Deist founders of the Republic and even their Puritan ancestors, many of whom were Calvinists, Quakers and Anabaptists who rightly opposed all oaths and pledges.”

    “+ Truthdig, one of the few progressive sites willing to call out the Russiagate hysteria, challenge the Democratic Party hierarchy and donor class and lift up the voices of the Palestinians in the face of Israeli war crimes, is imploding.

    The publisher, Zuade Kaufman, who has lent the site an estimated two or three million dollars, has had bitter clashes with the legendary Editor-in-Chief and the co-owner of the site, Robert Scheer, over the past few months. Their disputes, staff members say, revolve around Kaufman’s desire to make the site more mainstream and commercially viable by catering to the Democratic Party establishment and adopting the dominant narratives about supposed Russian interference in the 2106 presidential election, as well as other stances embraced by mainstream outlets such as MSNBC. The dispute between Scheer and Kaufman came to a head last week when Kaufman attempted to fire Scheer. Scheer’s and Kaufman’s lawyers are now in mediation.

    What seems certain is that the working relationship between Scheer and Kaufman is over. The site will descend, without Scheer’s integrity, vision and courage, into another mediocre and banal handmaiden of corporate Democrats. Several senior staff members and contributors, including Chris Hedges, the site’s most widely read columnist, Dwayne Booth, the cartoonist known as Mr. Fish, and the Executive Editor Kasia Anderson, among others, are expected to leave the site if Scheer is forced out.”

    “+ At some point, you keep thinking the System going to break from its own contradictions, but it never does. It will need to be pushed. Pushed hard: “Over the last four decades since 1979, the top 1.0% saw their wages grow by 157.8% and those in the top 0.1% had wages grow more than twice as fast, up 340.7%. In contrast those in the bottom 90% had annual wages grow by 23.9% from 1979 to 2018.”

    “+ The Trump administration just pulled the plug on ToxMap, an online database allowed users to pull up detailed EPA data for each toxic release site, and to overlay other information, such as mortality statistics, onto those maps. They really don’t want you to know if you’re being poisoned, with what or by whom…”

  8. Louis Bedrock December 20, 2019

    Religion predates philosophy and science. It was a primitive attempt to explain the world by people who knew nothing of atoms, molecules, cells, genes, DNA, microbes, the Copernican universe, or the Law of Conservation of Energy and Matter.

    They conceived spirits, ghosts, angels, bogeymen, and gods.

    Religion is an anachronism, but still inspires gullible people to caress beads, wail in front of wailing walls, and to utter magic incantations: Hail Mary, full of grace…

    And it inspires peope to go shopping. Christmas is a fusion of medieval superstitions and modern capitalism; it iincorporates the philosophies of Albert Lasker and Edward L. Bernays.

    The symptoms of the mass insanity that is Christmas are upon us: cloying Christmas music in drugstores and supermarkets, hideous lights and decorations on houses and buildings, and announcements for sales everywhere.

    There’s a Spanish word for all this: “Hortera”. It means, “trashy, tasteless, vulgar, garish, crude, crass, cheap, or offensive. It may refer to things or to a person. Trump supporters are “personas horteras”. Clinton supporters are “horteras”. Christmas is “hortera”.

    • Susie de Castro December 20, 2019

      Festive greetings, Louis

      I made a descubrimiento, recently.

      The word NAVIDAD has no meaning, in and of itself.

      However, the word NATIVIDAD has meaning: the birth of a child.

      Entonces…I propose a change: from ‘Feliz Navidad’ to ‘Feliz Natividad’.

      • Louis Bedrock December 20, 2019

        Happy holiday, Susie—whatever you celebrate.

        For me, it’s Natalis Solis Invicti.

        “The reason why Christmas came to be celebrated on December 25 remains uncertain, but most probably the reason is that early Christians wished the date to coincide with the pagan Roman festival marking the ‘birthday of the unconquered sun’ (natalis solis invicti); this festival celebrated the winter solstice, when the days begin to lengthen and the sun begins to climb higher in the sky.”

        (BRITANNICA)

          • Harvey Reading December 20, 2019

            The main thing I find to celebrate about 1969 is that I no longer lived in backward Calaveras County. I didn’t even miss the Frog Jump Jubilee. If you’ve ever watched a frog-jumping contest, you’ll understand; boredom to the nth degree. Try as I would, I could never watch one for more than a couple of minutes.

            Now the place is yuppie mansions and grape vines, which makes me even happier that I escaped. And they still have frog jumping contests.

            So, for me, 1969 was a momentous year.

          • Susie de Castro December 20, 2019

            Aw-shucks, Harv, I hope you like this.

            Mark Twain’s famous short story “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” belongs to (or perhaps even originated) a genre of specifically American satire that survived well into the twentieth century in the form of television comedies such as The Andy Griffith Show and The Beverly Hillbillies.

            In the tale of the jumping frog, Mark Twain pokes fun at the folksy, naive attitude of the US frontier class. It’s satiric, but in a good-natured way, far removed from the angry, slashing satire typical of Swift and other British and European writers. The colloquialisms of the language are comical, as is the long-windedness of the narration, in which virtually nothing of significance happens except the rather goofy trick that is played upon Jim Smiley and his frog. If there is a moral to the story, it’s the basic one that no man is to be trusted. The fact that Smiley is so easily duped is probably meant to illustrate the trusting nature of the American soul in the seemingly uncorrupted backwoods setting.

            The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”
            https://youtu.be/C6W-3giTZIg

            https://loyaltytraveler.boardingarea.com/2014/05/23/mark-twains-legacy-in-calaveras-county-california/

            I found a different moral to the story, but I cainst tell ya cause my stars aren’t aligned neither.

          • Harvey Reading December 21, 2019

            Not every story has a moral, dear woman, though there are always those who would attempt to create something from nothing.

        • Susie de Castro December 20, 2019

          Still today, most almanacs note the day as “Natividad del Señor”, not “Navidad”.

          The word ‘navidad’ itself seems to have been in use as far back as the 12th century as a common noun instead of as the name of the season.

    • George Hollister December 20, 2019

      That said, I have never know a single soul who has escaped faith, or their version of religion. It is inherent to humanity.

      • Harvey Reading December 20, 2019

        Soul? Or perhaps you meant sole, as in the fish.

        • Louis Bedrock December 21, 2019

          Or “sole” as the undersurface of a foot.

      • Louis Bedrock December 21, 2019

        The soul does not exist except in the imagination of fools like Hollister.

        There is only the mind.
        As Marvin Minsky observed,
        “The mind is what the brain does.”

        • H.H.Heller December 21, 2019

          Mr. Bedrock,

          What do you suppose animates (no pun intended) the mind?

          • Louis Bedrock December 21, 2019

            Obviously God, the Holy Spirit, and the Virgin Mary.

          • Louis Bedrock December 21, 2019

            I don’t think I understand the question, Mr. Heller.

            I see life as an extended, complex chemical reaction. Human life is an extended, complex, self-conscious chemical reaction.

          • H.H.Heller December 21, 2019

            “I see life as an extended, complex chemical reaction”

            What breathes life into this chemical reaction?

          • Louis Bedrock December 21, 2019

            See response below.

  9. James Marmon December 20, 2019

    RE: THE USE OF MEASURE B FUNDS TO SUPPLANT EXISTING SOURCES OF FUNDING FOR MENTAL HEALTH AND SUDT SERVICES.

    There’s a lot of talk about using some of the measure b money for missing services throughout the County. I caution the measure b committee and BoS about doing so without following Lee Kemper’s recommendation.

    “1. Measure B funds should supplement, not supplant, existing sources of funding for mental health and SUDT services, which include Realignment, MHSA and Medi-Cal funding.

    a. Prior to considering any proposed spending of Measure B funds that would supplant an existing source of funding for behavioral health services, a programmatic and fiscal analysis of such proposed spending should be prepared for consideration by the Board of Supervisors.”

    -Lee Kemper

    “Where’s the money Camille?”

    James Marmon MSW

    • James Marmon December 20, 2019

      I see that RQMC is bragging about not over-billing Medi-Cal in a recent State Audit. That’s good for them, no one else. Unfortunately there are a lot of services missing that they could bill for if they met Medi-Cal requirements in the provision of such services, namely SUDT and Day Treatment. Meanwhile we have people dying on the streets and growing number of re-hospitalizations, which comes out of the County’s pocket, not RQMC’s.

      James Marmon MSW

  10. mendoblather December 20, 2019

    The piece on Pedro Magdaleno demonstrates that if one is hungry enough to succeed they can. What a great story on how teachers can be a vital factor in one’s life.

  11. George Hollister December 20, 2019

    Blinded by the “subsidize the County’s welfare ranchers” narrative the AVA fails to see the big picture. Typical of the tribal politics of Mendocino County that the AVA plays a big role in. Half of the wildlife services calls go to home owners, and not ranchers. Non-lethal consultations on how to manage wildlife are the usual, instead of the use of the lethal option. What is not mentioned, and not quantified, by it’s nature, is the three Ss method of dealing with wildlife and dog problems. This ubiquitous, age old alternative to the wildlife services program is indiscriminate.

    • Bruce Anderson December 20, 2019

      I thought Scaramella presented both sides of the argument and, George, if there’s anybody in the county more tribal than the Farm Bureau let us know.

      • George Hollister December 20, 2019

        LOL

    • Harvey Reading December 20, 2019

      Total BS, George, to be expected from a Farm Bureau type like you. ALL subsidies should end for welfare livestock farmers, and Wildlife Services should be eliminated. The real problem is livestock, especially on public land. They destroy wildlife habitat and improve nothing. The Taylor Grazing Act should be repealed.

  12. George Hollister December 20, 2019

    “My advice to students is that it’s not about where you came from that matters – it’s where you want to be. Your accomplishments shouldn’t be measured on how much money you are making. It’s more about your efforts, your struggles and how you make your dreams feasible for you.”

    Pedro Magdaleno has that right. Classic American.

    • Harvey Reading December 20, 2019

      “Classic” nonsense from a guy who thinks $13 per hour is a living wage. I suppose part of the “struggle” is living in ones car because one makes too little to afford housing. Take a hike, you propaganda peddler. In a REAL country, guys like you would be tarred, feathered, and ridden out of town on a rail.

  13. James Marmon December 20, 2019

    RE: PUBLIC GUARDIAN

    John, Bryan Lowery was awarded that job for getting rid of me and handing the ASO contract over to his friend, ex-coworker, and former employer Camille Schraeder. When Sonya Nesch ran to the Grand Jury about conflict of interest between Tom P. and Ortner she forgot to mention the conflict of interest between Camille and Lowery. Cryer was out on medical leave during the creation of the ASO shenanigan, Lower ran the whole show and was Tom P”s boss. Below, a blast from the past.

    MCT October 9, 2015 at 3:00 pm

    “Bryan Lowery has to be one of the County’s highest paid administrators with salaries coming in for two of HHSA’s top jobs, Director of social service and Public Guardian. He’s certainly is being taken care of nicely. I’m sure he worships the ground that Camille Schraeder walks on. He would have never been able to get where he’s at without her. Her influence on Mendocino county reaches high and wide. The rest of the stakeholders know what I’m talking about, but are concerned about their survival an/or retaliation. If you are a child therapist you keep your mouth shut if you want any children sent your way. RQMG controls who get these contracts.”

    -James Marmon

    https://www.theava.com/archives/48604

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