- Pleasant Day
- Healthy Skepticism
- Missing Minors
- City Business
- 1920 Ukiah
- Vacant AV
- Sandbar Watch
- Empty Bench
- Recommended Viewing
- Boys Basketball
- AV Village
- Ukiah Dispensary
- Muscle Cars
- Coming Attractions
- Supe Recruit
- Yesterday's Catch
- Imperial Suicide
- Declaring War
- Ridiculous Dems
- Wedding Vow
- American Icon
- Destroying Democracy
- White Suits
- Plutocrat Con
- Deadly Synonyms
- Stinking People
- Continuous War
- Troll Call
- Washington Slaves
- Found Object
MAINLY CLEAR SKIES and patchy valley fog will give way to pleasant and mild afternoon conditions later today. This will be followed by rain Tuesday afternoon through mid week. Cool and showery weather will continue during the weekend. (NWS)
LESSONS IN SKEPTICISM
by Malcolm Macdonald
There might be a significant plot twist coming in the tale of the seemingly impending affiliation of the coast hospital with Adventist Health. Or it might just be a tease to get you to read beyond the autobiographical meanderings.
I sometimes tell people I was born with a skeptical spoon in my mouth or with skeptical antennae attached. Clearly that was not literally the case. Perhaps because I entered the world of the Macdonald ranch as the youngest child, and youngest by a significant number of years, as soon as I could hook together words into fully formed thoughts and sentences, my mother spoke to and with me as if I were a fellow polysyllabic-spewing adult. As her only daytime companion on many weekdays I received some of the spoilage that often is bestowed on the youngest child as well as an inside look into the college student, whip smart, intellectual my mother had been when she married my father. Little did I know at the time, but my mother had already formulated a plan to return to the University of California at Berkeley when I reached school age. I suppose she prepped and honed her collegiate verbal skills on me while she was baking pies for the county fair or performing the everyday chores of a ranch housewife. She had been at UC Berkeley as an undergrad before she met my father and one particular story she told of that experience stuck like glue to my preschool, late 1950s, mind.
She entered UC in the late 1930s. Her first class was something akin to Sociology 101. It met in an auditorium-sized classroom with at least a hundred other students. Upon entering, each student was greeted by a teaching assistant with a clipboard. The clip on the board concealed a smattering of words typed on a sheet of paper. Below the clip, the paper was filled with blank lines. Some of these were already filled with the signatures of other students. My mother was handed such a clipboard and instructed by a teaching assistant that every student had to sign in. She dutifully complied and found a seat. When the professor strolled up to a podium to officially start the class the teaching assistants handed over their clipboards. The professor loosened the clip and read the words that had been largely concealed underneath: “We, the undersigned, proclaim our allegiance to the Communist Party.”
All but one or two of the seated throng had obediently signed. This was my mother's lesson to me in healthy skepticism. Elmer Fudd might have said, “Be vewy, vewy wary.” Of course, Elmer couldn't have pronounced the 'w' in wary either, but such are the vagaries of writing.
Skepticism, when it comes to researching or writing about the Mendocino Coast Healthcare District is a healthy attribute to have inherited. Yes, I get it, 'healthy' and 'healthcare.' Perhaps too close together. No pun intended, but there it is.
My skepticism doesn't always end up on the written page. During the run-up to the 2018 election of four new hospital board members, I experienced a dose of skepticism about candidates Karen Arnold and Jessica Grinberg having too many ties to Mendocino Coast Clinics, in Arnold's case, and as an independent contractor who does some business with the hospital, in Grinberg's case.
In the first month of 2019, the MCDH Board of Directors, with four new members, voted three to one, with one abstention, to release chief executive officer (CEO) Bob Edwards from his duties. The one board member who abstained was Jessica Grinberg. As far as I know that abstention has never been publicly explained. I have heard multiple reasons or even rumors about the reason for that abstention. This is the kind of place where skepticism gets tricky. In order to protect sourcing I have chosen not to reveal any of the reasons or rumors I've heard about that particular vote.
In the long run it is sometimes better not to reveal everything one knows. Speculating on Grinberg's vote in the short run might have seemed a minor reportorial coup. Waiting to see how she performed on the hospital board in the bigger picture appears to be more telling. As 2019 unfolded Ms. Grinberg proved to be the MCDH board member most likely to initiate innovative projects to benefit the hospital and its clientele. Some of this work was done behind the scenes and some as she chaired the hospital's planning committee. She has also been the only member of the board of directors to openly refuse to accept the failing financial figures. Along with some hard questioning of why next to nothing had been done to reduce losses, she voted, “No,” on the financial report month after month. This is a simple enough act, but no other director demonstrated the fiscal or fiduciary responsibility to do the same, to in effect say 'enough is enough,' we must stop this waste.
Get your plot twist and perhaps your skeptical hankies ready. At the conclusion of Ms. Grinberg's latest chairing of a planning committee meeting on December 30, 2019, John Allison, a long time member of that body read a statement that began, “As the financial condition of MCDH continues to deteriorate, affiliation with Adventist Health is the only viable option for saving our hospital and maintaining a broad survey of quality health care services on the Mendocino Coast. Yet affiliation may very well be in jeopardy.”
The gist of Allison's next few paragraphs includes a friend of his who was at the Ukiah Adventist hospital recently, where some of the staff claimed they hadn't been fully briefed on the affiliation with the coast facility because the affiliation had not yet been approved at the corporate level, located in Roseville, CA. Mr. Allison cited the difference between the original term sheet offered by AH, which provided for an annual lease payment of $1.5 million for thirty years. In November, 2019, what appeared to be some form of negotiation brought about a revised term sheet that promised $1.75 million payments from AH for the first couple years of the lease and nearly $3 million annually thereafter.
Under a theory that the corporate level Adventist Health board only meets quarterly, with their next meeting occurring in mid January, making the previous meeting at a similar point in October, well before those November negotiations, Mr. Allison went on to say, “ I have seen nothing to indicate that the revised term sheet with the higher annual lease payments has been approved by the Adventist corporate board. The community has the right to know, now, whether Adventist Health has given its final approval to the revised term sheet.”
The implication being that if whomsoever negotiated for AH on a Mendocino County basis does not convince corporate, Roseville, AH to approve the nearly double annual lease payment then the whole affiliation matter could be derailed. At that point I put in queries with folks in the AH hierarchy, but due to the New Year's holidays definitive answers, as my mother liked to say, “were not yet forthcoming.”
As to the skeptical side of things: I have no reason to disbelieve Mr. Allison's friend's account of what they heard over the hill in Ukiah. John Allison presents statements to MCDH committees and to the hospital board regularly in what appears a clear and fairly meticulous manner. The mathematics of when the Roseville board meets seem to jibe with reality. In fact, more or less the entire scenario Allison laid out matched something told to me by someone else prior to Allison's Dec. 30 statement. The 'someone else' is a person I thoroughly trust.
And yet… my antennae are up because Mr. Allison essentially rested blame solely on MCDH Finance Committee chair John Redding for taking credit for the higher lease payment (the higher payment thus being the potential trip wire for corporate AH). Allison also blamed Redding for sponsoring a revised hospital budget that called for a net loss of $2.4 million for the fiscal year. Allison projected that the losses during the first three months of said budget would lead to a $4.4 million net loss for the year.
Allison claimed that the net losses for MCDH in November would be worse than the $947,000 net loss in October. If he had just waited a day or two to see the actual numbers, Allison would have seen the November net loss totaled a bit less than $188,000, not a good thing, but far less than $947,000. Both the MCDH interim CEO and interim chief financial officer (CFO) have projected a nearly break even net loss/gain for December. On top of that, on January 2, MCDH received a check for a little over $605,000 from Mendocino County Adventist Health President Jason Wells as part of a Partnership Health Program (PHP). There's a Medicare Cost Report reimbursement check coming in February for at least $1.5 million. So things aren't quite as bleak as Mr. Allison may have anticipated.
Allison's theory stated, “[T]he recent trend of of dramatic increases in the net loss from operations may very well lead Adventist Health to walk away from affiliation. In theory that would appear true. However, in addition to the November and December upticks in net operation dollars as well as earned windfalls like the PHP check or the upcoming Medicare reimbursement, coast hospital interim CEO Wayne Allen has begun to implement a “Financial Improvement Plan.” He has asserted this will initially trim $2.1 million in expenses by eliminating thirteen registry (temporary) and four management positions. The second half of Allen's plan would cut an additional $2.1 million with the closure of the labor and delivery (obstetrics – OB) department. That closure requires board of directors approval. A meeting on that subject could very well occur later in January.
Once I was able to get hold of Adventist Health officials after the New Year had been rung in, two of them confirmed the mid January corporate meeting, which extends over several days. One of them said that AH would not have agreed to the nearly $1.5 million bump in the second term sheet “had it put the partnership in jeopardy.” That AH official did state, “The revised term sheet takes away margin for error.”
I asked if AH might pull out of the affiliation if AH came into that affiliation in a deficit running at about $8 million dollars. The response was, “Absolutely. We can't dig out of an $8 million annual loss hole. No chance.”
That AH official presented a financial scenario that starts with the $3 million dollar annual lease cost to operate the coast hospital. Add to that deficit the fact that AH will not receive the million and a half dollars from the parcel tax. It stays with the Mendocino Coast Healthcare District. That puts AH in a $4.5 million dollar hole. Year to date losses are at $1,348,000 for the coast hospital. That puts the hole at about $5.9 million. Then subtract CEO Allen's “Financial Improvement Plan” cuts that purportedly cut a total of $4.2 million (with half coming from the yet to come board enacted closure of OB), and the loss is much more manageable. This would be particularly true if December's projected break even bottom line continues through the time Mendocino Coast Healthcare District voters cast their yea or nay ballots on affiliation during the first week in March
Mr. Allison and Mr. Redding have conducted a more or less public feud around the financial state of the hospital throughout much of 2019. Though I tend to agree with Mr. Allison some of the time on these matters, I can't escape wondering whether or not his scenario concerning corporate AH isn't part of a wish fulfillment to see Mr. Redding embarrassed as much as it is a warning about the shaky economic ground upon which he has projected affiliation to be treading.
Lessons in skepticism: Read under the clip if there is writing on a clipboard, not all rumors are fit to be printed, and sometimes two sources aren't enough. I know I'm skipping what appears to be obvious, “always listen to your mother.” Well, if it was your mother who ingrained skepticism in you then how much can you trust her?!
In the meantime, I am glad that antennae exist only figuratively in our brains and that I don't have to make any adjustments climbing onto the rooftop in the wind and rain.
TWO MISSING MINORS OUT OF MENDOCINO COUNTY OVER THE LAST TWO DAYS
(Matthew LaFever / Cold Case Mendocino)
First is Diego missing out of Ukiah:
Second is Sienna out of Fort Bragg:
UKIAH GOVERNMENT DOES IT ALL!
by Tommy Wayne Kramer
Take a walk around town later today. That slamming you’ll be hearing is the sound of stores closing down. For good.
Ukiah is heading into a shakeout that it has perhaps not seen since the earthquake of 1917. Black clouds are gathering. Spend all the time you want picking through the rubble to find silver linings.
We start with the recent past. At the south end of town is (was) the skating rink, which closed a year ago. At the north end of town is (was) the bowling alley, which closed a few months ago.
In between we have the survivors, but these are also starting to fall. Examples:
1) After 107 years Curry’s Furniture is finished. Since 1912 Curry’s, on East Perkins right behind the library, has outlasted fires, earthquakes, the Great Depression, Walmart, changing fashions and other calamities.
2) Mendo Baby (School Street, downtown) is gone. Home to Poma TV for centuries, the building is now an empty shell.
3) Habitat, also on South School Street, is closing as we read this paragraph; it’s been the longtime go-to store for gift items that don’t quite fit on the shelves of a Walmart.
And who knows which other retailers are looking at the calendar and at their year-end receipts and wondering if 2020 might be a good time to check out? I could name some names.
Mac Nab’s Menswear, the sturdy downtown shop across from the courthouse that’s been serving Ukiah more than 70 years, is teetering, despite strong sales at Christmas. Three Sisters, also on South School, is reportedly looking for a buyer.
Now remember that silver lining mentioned in the second paragraph? It’s right here under our noses, because one local enterprise is going full steam ahead, with money to burn and needing expansion: The City of Ukiah.
Yes dear readers, while private businesses small and smaller go under, our local government is shoveling money into the furnace and going strong. How strong?
“We’re bursting at the seams!” crowed Shannon Riley, second in command in city government, announcing there are so many workers sitting at so many desks that the biggest building in town has run out of space to keep them all.
The solution? Bank of America’s abandoned husk that the city just bought for $675,000. Apparently its two floors will be sufficient until the city finds more people to run more agencies and expand more, probably in 2021.
A regular old miracle, ain’t it? The city’s healthy and robust and well-off while these little shops and stores quietly close. Plus the city of Ukiah does so much for us.
Such as erecting a downtown skating rink. A few grinches might wonder if the subsidized rink siphoned off so much business the old skating rink closed. Ukiah also evicts the hot dog guy who works Alex Thomas Plaza 11 months of the year so it can take over the most lucrative weeks to run its own vending operation. We’re shopping local now!
And the city runs free Movie Madness! events in the summer, which might cause some to wonder if locals no longer visit the (clearly ailing) Ukiah Theater because of subsidized competition.
And Ukiah runs the biggest daycare center in the county with its Summer Safari thing our kids hate to attend starting every June. Has anyone ever tried to determine how many small, grandma-run homes that once cared for neighborhood kids have gone under because of subsidized competition provided by the city?
There’s more. The city has workers who run softball programs almost all year ‘round, as if healthy young (and not so young) men and women would be unable to play without government assistance.
And free concerts in the park! Whoopee. Think those have done anything to detract from the thriving businesses bars and bands used to do on weekends at places like Harold’s Club, the Peacock Lounge, Garden Cafe, Happiness Is Club, Drifter’s Club, Club Calpella, Wine Glass and numerous others?
No, business is Grrreat! for the city of Ukiah. We have so much money floating around we can lengthen the laughable Rail Trail in two directions at once and install parking meters to generate more revenue.
Paving the streets? Need new taxes for that. We’re spending today’s street-paving money on subtracting traffic lanes downtown.
Tom Hine says Big Thanks to any and all who turned out for the ‘Happy to Be Here’ world premiere reading at the Mendo Book Co in late December; among your rewards is the satisfaction of having generated $100 for local dogs, cats, parakeets and whatever other unfortunate beasties have wound up at the animal shelter. TWK thanks Kathy Shearn for delivering the loot. Happy to New Year y’all!
(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)
VACANT commercial space in the Anderson Valley is, proportionately, as alarming as Tommy Wayne Kramer writes about in Ukiah. In Boonville there's the perennially vacant Ricard Array; Pic 'n Pay, Lizzby's and the bar next to it are gone completely; the Buckhorn is vacant; Tindall Market is empty; the Rookie-to Gallery is empty. Down the road in Philo the Poleeka Roadhouse is vacant.
MSP'S 'EYE ON THE NAVARRO RIVER'
Sandbar Breached Saturday 4:15 pm
The Navarro River sandbar had reformed (see photos from Friday afternoon below) but the additional light rainfall was enough to breach it Saturday afternoon around 4:15 pm. The river had reached a height (at the upstream USGS gauge) of 3.38' when the breach happened.
Sunday morning at the last reading (10:15 am) the river level was 2.90' and the estimated "discharge rate' of the water flowing into the ocean 101 cubic feet of water per second - or in understandable terms:
- 747 gallons per second
- 44,844 gallons per minute
- 2,690,640 gallons per hour.
There is no threat of any road flooding on Highway 128 in the foreseeable future
NIGHT LIGHT OF THE NORTH COAST: Vacancy at 4th & E Streets, Eureka
by David Wilson
For years driving by I would see her lonely figure sitting on the bench. I never stopped, but in time I grew used to her presence there, and I would look to touch base visually when I passed. Huddled inward and completely covered, she had erected a shell between herself and the outside world, perhaps retreating to the safety of her own thoughts to live in a world of her own choosing. I could identify with that on some level.
I don’t recall ever seeing what she looked like, for in my recollection she was always completely covered. She was there for years consistently, eventually becoming a part of that corner. And then, without realizing when exactly the transition occurred, I began noticing that she was no longer there. The bench was empty. A part of the corner felt missing.
The corner has long called to me to come photograph it some night. The street corner itself is stylish as street corners go, now that the utility box near the bench has been painted as part of Eureka’s utility box beautification project (its handle is at the right edge of the image). The curved wood and iron bench is stylish and smart. There is a small shade tree, which was out of view behind me, and beneath everything a classic brick sidewalk ties it all together. I had thought to photograph the scene in its entirety, but looking into the camera’s viewfinder it felt like something was missing from the composition. It was the woman on her bench. What ever became of her? I didn’t know. And then oddly, almost by necessity, everything fell away as the mystery of the empty bench drew me to it. The missing element became the subject, and I photographed an empty bench.
I shared the image in one of Humboldt County’s Facebook pages, thinking maybe someone would see the empty bench and remember the person who used to occupy it. I was amazed to find an outpouring of heartwarming stories from people who had noticed her there and remembered her. In a flood of personal tales, people told their stories of meeting the woman or simply of being accustomed to seeing her there. Many shared feelings about the empty bench left behind. It touched the humanity within me that so many people had noticed her, and that she had become such a part of that place for so many. The corner without the woman is an outdoor art exhibit, a living installation with its shade tree, a brick sidewalk, a three-dimensional mural and a pretty bench — and for a long time a living human was a part of it, and her absence was felt by many.
The 4th & E Street corner seems to be having some kind of vortex moment of confluent thought energy (who ya gonna call?). The same night I photographed it two people mentioned thinking about the woman who had sat there. Others had been thinking of her recently. Then David Heller wrote a historical piece about Eureka in the 1800s for Redheaded Blackbelt that came out on January 3, just two days after I had photographed the corner — and his piece included an undated photograph of 4th and E Streets, Eureka from long ago when the area was part of what was called “Chinatown.” Without knowing, I would guess the photo is at least a hundred years old, possibly from the 1800s. I’m guessing from the look of things in the photo in his article that it was taken before automobiles were popular. Here is the link to that story: http://kymkemp.com/2020/01/03/odd-old-news-kill-the-serpent-in-the-egg/ .
The bench at the corner of 4th and E Streets in Eureka was home to an individual for years. I’m not sure when the transition happened, but I haven’t seen the person there in a long time. Humboldt County, California. January 1, 2020.
The photo of Eureka’s 4th and E Streets I referred to above that appeared in David Heller’s historical article about Eureka of the late 1800’s. (Photo from the Humboldt State University Library, Special Collections, Humboldt Room, Undated)
(To keep abreast of David Wilson’s most current photography or peer into its past, visit or contact him at his website mindscapefx.com or follow him on Instagram at @david_wilson_mfx.)
WHILE WE'RE WAITING for the apocalypse, let's go to the movies! "The Last Black Man in San Francisco" is an elegiac take on The City from a person who laments what's happened to it. As the Last Black Man calmly informs a couple of Muni-riding trendo-groove-o's bad mouthing SF, "You can't hate it unless you've loved it." The last black man loved and loves it, especially the rambling witch's hat house he grew up in on Golden Gate near Fillmore occupied, as the film begins, by an unpleasant white woman who herself is eaten by the wolves of real estate, and symbolic of the extortionate gold rush that has since replaced thousands or working people with highly paid gizmo youth and their five thousand dollar bicycles and ten dollar cups of coffee, hold the radicchio. There's a ton of memorably good stuff in Last Black Man, beginning with the pure beauty of the film in the many seldom seen areas of the city, all of it with a running chorus — often very funny — of commentary from black people encountered en route, all the way to a rendition of the old hippie anthem — “If you’re going to San Francisco…” — that absolutely destroys every version you've ever heard of it before. I was also struck by how accurate the history is, right down to the displacement of the Japanese who'd occupied the Fillmore District before the war. A street preacher railing against the age-old pollution of Hunter's Point as workers in Hazmat suits labor on the bay shore, says the Bay's water "tastes like the devil's mouth" and better not eat any fish that come out of it. The city still looks good from a distance, but up close it's a sad place these days. Last Black Man sees it whole, and still loves it.
WHO KILLED LITTLE GREGORY? The audience for documentaries about the murder of a child in a furriner language (French) is undoubtedly limited, but this one is so well done that the viewer, at least this viewer, is borne along, as mystified as the police as to the perp. Or perps. Secondarily, we also get an interesting look at everyday life in a French village off, way off, the tourist track.
DON'T F--- WITH CATS. A depressing documentary about a young mega-creep so intent on fame he doesn't care or know the diff between fame and infamy tortures cats, which he films and posts on-line, thus bringing down on his psychotic head the implacable wrath of the International Cat Ladies, and their Cat Man Auxiliary. Understandably, the police, given the human mayhem they're tasked with sorting out every day, aren't overly concerned with tracking this nut down until he beheads a boyfriend, but it's the Cat People who do most of the investigatory heavy lifting for the cops. Not recommended viewing for Mary Poppins types.
PANTHER BOYS BASKETBALL: January 2020.
1/14: 8pm. At Home. AV High School gym. Vs. Point Arena.
1/17: 7pm. Away. vs. Round Valley. Round Valley High School gym, Covelo.
1/21. Away. vs. Potter Valley. Potter Valley High School gym, Potter Valley.
1/24: 5:30pm. At Home. AV High School gym. Vs. Mendocoino.
1/31. 8pm. Away. vs. Point Arena. Point Arena High School gym. Point Arena.
ANDERSON VALLEY VILLAGE UPDATE FOR 01/05/2020
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us:
Anica Williams, 707-684-9829
ANOTHER CANNABIS DISPENSARY SEEKS PERMIT IN UKIAH
At its next meeting Wednesday, the Ukiah Planning Commission will consider a permit for a new cannabis dispensary hoping to occupy an existing building near the downtown core.
A READER WRITES: "I do think there is a lot of well-deserved bad juju heading the United States' way soon. I just hope a great bulk of the impact somehow lands on the more-responsible bad actors, rather than the average citizen. It's past time to throw this rotten arrangement overboard. The most pleasant path forward, that I can imagine, would start with Bernie steamrolling through the early primaries. The propaganda industry has done all they can to prevent that from happening, so it will appear as a shock and surprise when the actual tone of the people comes through.”
BERNIE is the only for sure peace candidate among the unappealing people who've nominated themselves among the Democrats. Overall, the big picture looks grim as the globe waits for Iran's retaliation for the assassination of their lead thug. However they retaliate we can count on Trump to torque tensions upward.
VIETNAM busted faith in government for millions forever. I always think of a shirttail relative of mine, a B-52 pilot in World War Two, a good, solid guy, who wouldn't let me and my sibs in his house because we opposed the war on Vietnam too far ahead of the curve. But Watergate and the Pentagon Papers caused a 180 in him. "You guys were right," he said. "I was wrong." Millions of people felt like him. And the lies kept on coming with Bush's invasion of Iraq based on a transparently false pretext (which I'm proud to say the AVA accurately forecast at the time) which ignited the entire Middle East, and here we are with the fates of millions in the hands of the stupid and the fanatic.
Draft Scaramella For County Supervisor! (Jan 27. 2010)
If you’ve been reading Mark Scaramella’s insightful weekly reports on the County Board of Supervisors for the past few years in the Anderson Valley Advertiser, or gone to any of their meetings, you realize how utterly ineffective the Supervisors and CEO have become. With county budget deficits growing by the day, it is now alarming. Isn’t there somebody around in the 5th District who has the history, experience, smarts and toughness to ask hard questions, demand real answers, and help make reasonable decisions?
How about Mark Scaramella?
Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry/Enology from Fresno State University. Ten years as USAF officer in aircraft maintenance management, defense acquisition and contract management, and logistics engineering. 15 years in defense and commercial contract engineering management, computer programming and consulting, technical writing, and part-time community college instructor.
Nephew (and political student) of the late former 5th District Supervisor Joe Scaramella, the best and most popular supervisor Mendocino County has ever had. Almost 20 years at the Anderson Valley Advertiser following county issues and politics in depth. 15 years as public rep on the Anderson Valley Fire Department Budget committee.
I asked him if he were a candidate for Supervisor in the 5th District what he would do about our looming problems. Here’s his reply:
Basic platform: Until basic management reporting and information systems are implemented and dealt with — such as monthly departmental budget reports developing a basis for follow-up, tracking and accountability over time, identifying cross-department cost-drivers, staffing, outside contracting and current problems, projects and priorities, there’s no point trying to address the so-called “issues.”
The only real county issue at this point given the badly declining revenues and state gridlock is how to introduce staff and contracting efficiencies, particularly in general fund departments. Revenue increases can be considered, but they won’t help in the short term.
If I were supervisor I would spend half my salary on outside specialists, auditors and attorneys to develop proposals for cost savings, workload decreases, and reasonable new revenues. I would also organize “tiger team” audits for larger departments enlisting local retirees and volunteers to scrutinize each departmental budget and provide clear information and recommendations, instead of (or in addition to) the governmental mush now referred to as a “budget.”
With these long-overdue decent management reporting and information system upgrades, the Supervisors and in turn the various county departments, can get a handle on what drives county costs and what can be done to manage them.
The financial situation is grim, but unless the Supervisors and top managers get clear information, all they can do is flail away in the dark. As with any organization in financial difficulty, all top management positions and salaries would have to be cut as a major first step toward balancing the budget and retaining line workers. If and when the budget situation improves, those salaries and positions can be re-evaluated at that time.
If the other Supervisors on the board are unwilling to consider the necessary management reporting system improvements and management cost reductions, then they will be personally responsible for the predictable financial and organizational meltdown that looms.
Blunt talk about the County’s problems and organizational needs is in very short supply. The current crop of supervisorial candidates offer nothing in the way of managerial experience or ability. And whichever of them is elected, they will only produce more of what we’re (not) doing now.
If you would like to see a Supervisor impolite enough to demand an effective, efficient, and workable county, let Mark know that you want something done about our woeful county leadership.
ON LINE COMMENT (in 2010) from Pebbles Trippett: “I’d support Scaramella in a heartbeat if he weren’t running against Dan Hamburg who like Mark is willing to put up a good fight against entrenched interests.”
CATCH OF THE DAY, January 5, 2020
DONALD ALEXANDER, Willits. Battery.
CAYTLIN COLLICOTT, Ukiah. Parole violation.
SALVADOR FRAUSTO, Redwood Valley. Pot possession for sale.
JESUS GONZALEZ-BARRON, Potter Valley. Suspended license (for DUI).
JOSEPH HOAGLIN, Ukiah. False personation of another, probation revocation.
RAMON MACIEL, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
ARELI OLVERA, Willits. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, disobeying court order.
OMAR ORTEGA-QUIROZ, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
STEVEN RICH SR., Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, paraphernalia, parole violation, resisting
GARRETT TAYLOR, Redwood Valley. DUI (over 0.15%)
WAR WITH IRAN
by Chris Hedges
The assassination by the United States of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, near Baghdad’s airport will ignite widespread retaliatory attacks against U.S. targets from Shiites, who form the majority in Iraq. It will activate Iranian-backed militias and insurgents in Lebanon and Syria and throughout the Middle East. The existing mayhem, violence, failed states and war, the result of nearly two decades of U.S. blunders and miscalculations in the region, will become an even wider and more dangerous conflagration. The consequences are ominous. Not only will the U.S. swiftly find itself under siege in Iraq and perhaps driven out of the country—there is only a paltry force of 5,200 U.S. troops in Iraq, all U.S. citizens in Iraq have been told to leave the country “immediately” and the embassy and consular services have been closed—but the situation could also draw us into a war directly with Iran. The American Empire, it seems, will die not with a whimper but a bang.
The targeting of Soleimani, who was killed by a MQ-9 Reaper drone that fired missiles into his convoy as he was leaving the Baghdad airport, also took the life of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iran-backed militias in Iraq known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, along with other Iraqi Shiite militia leaders. The strike may temporarily bolster the political fortunes of the two beleaguered architects of the assassination, Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but it is an act of imperial suicide by the United States. There can be no positive outcome. It opens up the possibility of an Armageddon-type scenario relished by the lunatic fringes of the Christian right.
A war with Iran would see it use its Chinese-supplied anti-ship missiles, mines and coastal artillery to shut down the Strait of Hormuz, which is the corridor for 20% of the world’s oil supply. Oil prices would double, perhaps triple, devastating the global economy. The retaliatory strikes by Iran on Israel, as well as on American military installations in Iraq, would leave hundreds, maybe thousands, of dead. The Shiites in the region, from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan, would see an attack on Iran as a religious war against Shiism. The 2 million Shiites in Saudi Arabia, concentrated in the oil-rich Eastern province, the Shiite majority in Iraq and the Shiite communities in Bahrain, Pakistan and Turkey would turn in fury on us and our dwindling allies. There would be an increase in terrorist attacks, including on American soil, and widespread sabotage of oil production in the Persian Gulf. Hezbollah in southern Lebanon would renew attacks on northern Israel. War with Iran would trigger a long and widening regional conflict that, by the time it was done, would terminate the American Empire and leave in its wake mounds of corpses and smoldering ruins. Let us hope for a miracle to pull us back from this Dr. Strangelove self-immolation.
Iran, which has vowed “harsh retaliation,” is already reeling under the crippling economic sanctions imposed by the Trump administration when it unilaterally withdrew in 2018 from the Iranian nuclear arms deal. Tensions in Iraq between the U.S. and the Shiite majority, at the same time, have been escalating. On Dec. 27 Katyusha rockets were fired at a military base in Kirkuk where U.S. forces are stationed. An American civilian contractor was killed and several U.S. military personnel were wounded. The U.S. responded on Dec. 29 by bombing sites belonging to the Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah militia. Two days later Iranian-backed militias attacked the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, vandalizing and destroying parts of the building and causing its closure. But this attack will soon look like child’s play.
Iraq after our 2003 invasion and occupation has been destroyed as a unified country. Its once-modern infrastructure is in ruins. Electrical and water services are, at best, erratic. There is high unemployment and discontent over widespread government corruption that has led to bloody street protests. Warring militias and ethnic factions have carved out competing and antagonistic enclaves. At the same time, the war in Afghanistan is lost, as the Afghanistan Papers published by The Washington Post detail. Libya is a failed state. Yemen after five years of unrelenting Saudi airstrikes and a blockade is enduring one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters. The “moderate” rebels we funded and armed in Syria at a cost of $500 million, after instigating a lawless reign of terror, have been beaten and driven out of the country. The monetary cost for this military folly, the greatest strategic blunder in American history, is between $5 trillion and $7 trillion.
So why go to war with Iran? Why walk away from a nuclear agreement that Iran did not violate? Why demonize a government that is the mortal enemy of the Taliban, along with other jihadist groups, including al-Qaida and Islamic State? Why shatter the de facto alliance we have with Iran in Iraq and Afghanistan? Why further destabilize a region already dangerously volatile?
The generals and politicians who launched and prosecuted these wars are not about to take the blame for the quagmires they created. They need a scapegoat. It is Iran. The hundreds of thousands of dead and maimed, including at least 200,000 civilians, and the millions driven from their homes into displacement and refugee camps cannot, they insist, be the result of our failed and misguided policies. The proliferation of radical jihadist groups and militias, many of which we initially trained and armed, along with the continued worldwide terrorist attacks, have to be someone else’s fault. The generals, the CIA, the private contractors and weapons manufacturers who have grown rich off these conflicts, the politicians such as George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump, along with all the “experts” and celebrity pundits who serve as cheerleaders for endless war, have convinced themselves, and want to convince us, that Iran is responsible for our catastrophe.
The chaos and instability we unleashed in the Middle East, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan, left Iran as the dominant country in the region. Washington empowered its nemesis. It has no idea how to reverse its mistake other than to attack Iran.
Trump and Netanyahu, as well as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, are mired in scandal. They believe a new war would divert attention from their foreign and domestic crises. But they have no more rational strategy for war with Iran than they did for the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Syria. European allies, whom Trump alienated when he walked away from the Iranian nuclear agreement, will not cooperate with Washington if the U.S. goes to war with Iran. The Pentagon lacks the hundreds of thousands of troops it would need to attack and occupy Iran. And the Trump administration’s view that the marginal and discredited Iranian resistance group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), which fought alongside Saddam Hussein in the war against Iran and is seen by most Iranians as composed of traitors, is a viable counterforce to the Iranian government is ludicrous.
International law, along with the rights of 80 million people in Iran, is ignored just as the rights of the peoples of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Syria were ignored. The Iranians, whatever they feel about their despotic regime, would not see the United States as allies or liberators. They do not want to be occupied. They would resist.
A war with Iran would be seen throughout the region as a war against Shiism. But these are calculations that the ideologues, who know little about the instrument of war and even less about the cultures or peoples they seek to dominate, cannot fathom. Attacking Iran would be no more successful than the Israeli airstrikes on Lebanon in 2006, which failed to break Hezbollah and united most Lebanese behind that militant group. The Israeli bombing did not pacify 4 million Lebanese. What will happen if we begin to pound a country of 80 million people whose land mass is three times the size of France?
The United States, like Israel, has become a pariah that shreds, violates or absents itself from international law. We launch preemptive wars, which under international law is defined as a “crime of aggression,” based on fabricated evidence. We, as citizens, must hold our government accountable for these crimes. If we do not, we will be complicit in the codification of a new world order, one that would have terrifying consequences. It would be a world without treaties, statutes and laws. It would be a world where any nation, from a rogue nuclear state to a great imperial power, would be able to invoke its domestic laws to annul its obligations to others. Such a new order would undo five decades of international cooperation—largely put in place by the United States—and thrust us into a Hobbesian nightmare. Diplomacy, broad cooperation, treaties and law, all the mechanisms designed to civilize the global community, would be replaced by savagery.
(Chris Hedges, an Arabic speaker, is a former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times. He spent seven years covering the region, including Iran.)
"BUT IN ALL THE HISTORY of the world you, the people, have never had a voice in declaring war, and strange as it certainly appears, no war by any nation in any age has ever been declared by the people.”
— Eugene Debs
Eugene Victor Debs, American Union leader, addressing a crowd, 20th century. Debs ran for President of the United States on behalf of the Social Democratic Party in 1900, and the Socialist Party of America in 1904, 1908, 1912, and 1920.
IN THE 2020 ELECTION CYCLE as in the last one, the establishment corporate neo-“liberal” Democrats and their many media outlets have alternately disdained, disregarded, and downplayed Bernie Sanders’ progressive-populist neo-New Deal campaign. It has been routine on “liberal” cable news (CNN and MSNBC) and on “P”BS to see the Democratic presidential contest discussed as if Sanders was just another marginal player. When he isn’t largely or (in some cases) completely ignored, the mildly social-democratish Sanders is absurdly discussed as some kind of wildly radical and therefore inherently un-electable leftist because he advances basic liberal-left programs that most Americans unmentionably support – Single Payer health insurance, green jobs programs, re-legalized union organizing, seriously progressive taxation, a doubling of the federal minimum wage, and free public college.
If one follows the lead of nearly every liberal pundit and talking head in U.S. corporate media, Democrats who are serious about defeating the demented and unmentionably fascistic oligarch Donald Trump are supposed to shun Sanders’ campaign against corporate plutocracy and rally behind neoliberal center-right Wall Street tools like Pete Butiggieg and the ridiculous right-wing buffoon, racist, and dementia-victim Joe Biden. Even mildly liberal Elizabeth “capitalist in my bones” Warren is considered “too left-wing” by much of the neo-McCarthyite/-“liberal” media-politics elite – this because she partially aligns herself with Medicare-for-All and says she wants to break up some of the obscenely gargantuan tech monopolies.
— Paul Street
THE AVERAGE AMERICAN likes meat, sports, money, porn, cars, cartoons, and shopping. Less popular: socialism, privilege checking, and the world ending in 10 years. Ironically, perhaps because of Trump, Democratic Party rhetoric in 2020 is relentlessly negative about the American experience. Every speech is a horror story about synagogue massacres or people dying without insulin or atrocities at the border. Republicans who used to complain about liberals "apologizing for America" were being silly, but 2020 Democrats sound like escapees from the Killing Fields.
Ronald Reagan once took the working-class voters away from Democrats by offering permission to be proud of the flag. Trump offers permission to occupy the statistical American mean: out of shape, suffering from gas, poorly read, anti-intellectual, treasuring things above meaning, and hiding an awful credit history.
Trump in this way is more All-American than Mark Spitz, Liberace, Oprah, Audie Murphy, and Marilyn Monroe. He's a monument to the consumption economy. He represents fake boobs, the short con, the tall tale, gas guzzlers, and 100 other American traditions.
This is why the endless chronicling of Trump’s lies does little to dent his popularity. Trump’s voters don't need to read Politici-fact to see what Trump’s about. They see it in his waistline. Few politicians in history have revealed what they are to voters more than Trump. Christ, we even know what the man's penis looks like.
"The cool thing about Trump," says 38-year-old Cincinnati native Jeremy Holtkamp, "is that it's just about being an American."
THE TRUMP EFFECT
The Plot To Destroy Democracy - How Putin And His Spies Are Undermining America And Dismantling The West - by Malcolm Nance. Pg.29:
"So what about the hapless American President? What category does he fit? It will be easily revealed that to Russia, Donald Trump started as a Useful Idiot, and then became an Unwitting Asset, but quickly became a Witting Asset once he realized that Russia was working in his best interest.
Trump's usefulness to Moscow was critical to their goal of breaking links between America and its traditional allies. Trump has lived up to that expectation. Within the first year of his presidency, Trump managed to insult virtually every ally, neighboring country, international treaty body, and all of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Yet Vladimir Putin held such sway over him that it would take almost 15 months and a brazen chemical weapons attack to offer the first mild criticism.
”This sycophancy had an effect. By early 2018, as much as 65% of America is permanently alienated from Trump's administration, as it has become increasingly clear that he is determined to rule only for his 35% core constituency. No matter, Trump views anyone who did not vote for him as alien. Non-voters and opposition are unworthy of his attention. He wants to lead and reward those who elected him and no others. Policies have been designed to punish the major blue states that had the nerve to vote for Hillary Clinton. His only piece of major legislation, a massive one trillion dollar tax cut to the ultra-wealthy, included many provisions which raised taxes on states like California and New York."
Nance is a 35-year career U.S. intelligence officer who specializes in cryptology, national security policy, and counterterrorism intelligence. He has utilized top secret Russian-sourced political and hybrid warfare strategy documents to demonstrate the master plan to undermine American institutions that has been in effect from the Cold War to the present day.
It's a good book, a real doozy! I got an extra copy. I'll put in the mail for you there at the Fort.
Happy 2020 vision for the new year!
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Democrats play the identity politics game which is nothing but a variation of the Republican game which is to divide and conquer.
You want to know who’s on whose side? Follow the money. Plutocrats coughed up hundreds of millions in donations to Democrats and Republicans for the 2016 election, most of which went to Democrats.
Democrats are four-square for the plutocrats, work for plutocratic well-being, which is to say they are fully on-board the neo-liberal agenda. Democrat voters are no less suckers for thinking that Democrats give a shit about the causes they pretend to fight for.
Does anyone seriously think that Hillary or the present-day Democrat brain-trust give a shit about the well-being of Blacks or Latinos or the LGBTQ crowd? These are useful idiots, nothing more. If the Democratic Party is “progressive” then I’m a monkey’s uncle.
The only reason that Trump got into power was because he ain’t no Republican, he’s a New York liberal and libertine, and because he gave some validation to the economic gripes of that broad swathe of the US called fly-over land. The Democrats pissed all over the Fly-over people, calling them names like Deplorable, the Republicans took those same Deplorables for fools.
And so you have Trump and so you have tariffs against the Chinese in hopes of a manufacturing renaissance. Will tariffs work? Not likely, IMO the industries that were off-shored to China are not coming back.
What’s wrong with Kansas? Nothing’s wrong with Kansas; they stopped buying Republican bullshit a long time ago.
The question is when do Democrat voters finally wake up to the fact that they’ve been conned and how American politics re-configures itself.
THE GOOD PEOPLE OF COVELO
It's sad. President Trump has done one of the greatest things America has done in a long time by getting rid of that butcher in Iran who has killed Americans and other people for 30 years. Now his rotten regime is over thanks to President Trump and his administration. But the liberals and liberal media, and some sick, demented people are condemning President Trump for it. Can you believe it? The people condemning President Trump for everything he's been doing right should be taken out of the picture.
Australia is almost burning up. Wouldn't it be terrible if that happened in California? How would people react if the same thing was going on in California as retaliation for the rotten terrible things the Democrats have been doing to the public? You never know.
There are some good people still in Covelo — the Hurts, O’Ferrells, Barnes, Wants, Azbills, Brittons, Vanns, and so forth. And then there's Rob Mahon who stinks up that valley in Covelo. I hope that the good people in Covelo read what he writes and realize what kind of an idiot he is.
REP. MAXINE WATERS thought she was talking to Greta Thunberg. It was actually Russian trolls.
TREMENDOUS IN HIS WRATH
by Eric Foner
One of the few facts of American history of which Donald Trump appears to be aware is that George Washington owned slaves. Trump mentioned this in 2017 as one reason for his opposition to the removal of the monuments to Confederate generals that dot the southern landscape. In Trump's view owning slaves probably enhances Washington's reputation: like him, the first president knew how to make a buck.
Not everyone agrees.
In June of 2019, the San Francisco school board voted to cover over a series of New Deal-era murals at George Washington High School that depicted the great man's career: some students found their depictions of a dead Native American and of slaves working in Washington's fields upsetting.
Lost in the debate was the fact that the artist, Victor Arnautoff, a communist, had used the murals to challenge the prevailing narrative of Washington's life and, indeed, American history more broadly. His murals were intended to show that the country's economic growth and territorial expansion – Washington took part in both – rested on the exploitation of slave labor and the violent seizure of Native American land.
Among historians, Washington's connection to slavery has inspired far less examination, and agonizing, than Thomas Jefferson's. Partly this is because of the patent contradiction between Jefferson's affirmation in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal” and his ownership of more than a hundred slaves. Prurient interest also plays a part.
Thanks to DNA evidence, it's now clear that Jefferson, a widower, fathered several children with his slave Sally Hemings. There is no equivalent in Washington's life, though some of his male relatives, including his wife's father-in-law in her first marriage, did have such offspring. An official at Mount Vernon, Washington's plantation on the Potomac River, once told me that he wished similar information would come to light about Washington, since Jefferson's plantation, Monticello, had experienced a substantial increase in visitor numbers after the historian Annette Gordon-Reed established beyond doubt the Hemings connection. In the apparent belief that visitors' imaginations need to be stirred even further, a room at Monticello next to Jefferson's bedroom is now identified as Hemings's living quarters, although the evidence that she actually slept there is slight.
Actually, Mount Vernon doesn't need any more visitors. Today, it attracts around a million a year, outstripping Monticello and even Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley. What tourists find there has changed dramatically in recent years. Slavery used to be pretty much ignored (if guides mentioned slaves at all, they referred to them as “servants”), but today the historical presentations deal candidly with the institution and Washington's relation to it. Visitors have the option to join an Enslaved People of Mount Vernon tour.
Washington grew up in a world centered on slavery. He inherited slaves from his father and his older half-brother. His wife, Martha, possessed dozens of “dower slaves” who had been owned by her first husband and legally remained under her control until her death, when they returned to his estate. During much of his life Washington bought and sold slaves. They were property, and he frequently referred to them as such, listing them in letters in the same sentence as horses, or saying he needed to sell cattle, sheep, furniture, tools and slaves to pay his creditors. At the time of his death in 1799 the slave population of Mount Vernon exceeded three hundred.