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MCT: Friday, February 7, 2020

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THE CANDIDATES SPEAK: As you can see on our opening webpage slideshow, we have separately posted all of the answers submitted by Supervisor candidates to what we hope are pertinent questions. All nine candidates have replied. We are posting these Q&A's now because ballots for the March election are now arriving in the 1st, 2nd, and 4th Districts, and many people vote by mail early. We will also print the answers in the paper-paper version of the AVA in upcoming weeks.

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PACIFIC HIGH PRESSURE will remain in control through today, with moderating temperatures and a mix of morning coastal clouds and sunshine. A cold front will bring cooler weather with some gusty winds on Saturday, and perhaps a few showers to Del Norte and northern Humboldt County. (NWS)

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Retired AV Fire Chief Colin Wilson writes:

Thanks to the sponsorship of John McCowen and Ted Williams, our proposal to simplify and streamline the process for the naming and renaming roads in Mendocino County was passed by the BOS with a unanimous vote at the Feb 4th meeting. The proposal permits public safety agencies (Fire and Sheriff) to request the naming or renaming of a road to facilitate emergency response under the Counties authority with no requirement for approval by residents and no fee. This gives us the vehicle we need to begin correcting the errors of the past.

The process of implementation will include making a change to the existing County Code and I'm not clear on what that time frame will be. I would expect at least a few months.

Although Anderson Valley has about 20 roads identified and ready to go it is our intention to wait and see how many other requests come forward and hold part of our list back to avoid overwhelming the Planning Department with the opening salvo.

The important thing is that we, over time, correct these problems. We will be starting with roads where we have unanimous or very strong support for the change, then moving on to the roads that present the biggest problems first.

Thanks to you all for your interest and assistance in making this happen.

Colin Wilson, Yorkville

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DOWNTOWN Boonville residents are complaining of a rat infestation, speculating that the beasts were displaced by the recent fire in the center of town, and have now fanned out from their former homes in search of new nesting places and, of course, food. I called Environmental Health who passed me to Public Health, and we all scratched our heads without coming up with a strategy to defeat the canny beasts. Enviro Health said if rats had been spotted in a restaurant they might be able to do something in the way of remediation, but I'm sure local restaurants see more than enough of local authorities and would probably rather live with an occasional rodent than involve government. Supervisor Williams said he happened to be on his way to Boonville and would see what he might contribute to eradication efforts. Boonville fire chief, Andres Avila, has previously stated that clean-up of the fire wreckage is supposed to begin the first week in March, but whether or not the rats have made the wreckage their new homes is not known. What is known that they are present, and they are big enough to deter cats.

WHENEVER I have an animal question, I turn to Ronnie James out on the Mendocino Coast. Ms. James promptly advised:

"My number one suggestion is to clean up any possible food sources--all trash can areas, restaurant grease traps and trash areas, etc. That is usually the primary attraction for rats. That is, however, an unrealistic goal though I'm sure things could be improved, but even those big dumpsters don't close properly and rats can get in through the cracks. But this will help alot.

Setting out 50 Have-a-Hart traps to avoid using rodent poisons is unrealistic also. And setting out a lot of those snap-trap rat traps is also somewhat unrealistic, because rats can breed and multiply three times a year producing 8-12 young at a time. Rat poisons will also kill a lot of wildlife as they will eat the poisoned rats, and you will kill off your owl and hawk population which is actually doing its best to keep the rodent population down, not to mention the local pets who will also be poisoned catching and consuming the poisoned rats.

So, to answer your question--my recommendation would be to have a major, city-wide campaign to clean up all the possible food sources and of course enlist the help of all the restaurants and food providers as well as residents—it would require someone to go around and check things out weekly and kindly remind owners to do their fair share. This would have to be a long term campaign, and would take a lot of people and cooperation, but it would help. That, along with using snap-traps (and checking them daily) would probably help over a period of time.

Good luck with your project. I would also recommend contacting Monte Merrick, the director of Humboldt Wildlife as he has dealt with this problem and might have additional thoughts. I don't have their phone handy, but that's the best way to get him."


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WONDERING, an on-line inquiry:

Wondering what department within PGE is best to contact regarding all the various tree trimming companies crawling all over Mendo County, in my case multiple times on my property. The mess they create is ridiculous and their tree trimming skills are a joke. Most crews aren't even from around here and have no idea how to properly prune redwoods and fir trees - i have to pay someone else to come in and clean up their mess. I'm all for keeping the lines clear so we don't have fires - i'd just like a bit more care and attention paid to our property, our lands and have the trees trimmed properly the first time. County Supervisor deal with anyone directly at PGE that might be able to address? Thanks.

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ON LINE COMMENT: I read Michelle Hutchins’ school bond explanation with interest. What she doesn’t bring up is that property owners in the UUSD are already paying for a school bond. What was the purpose of that bond, and why is the District asking for more money when they haven’t retired the previous one? Also, won’t state Proposition 13, on our current ballot that is asking to approve a $15 billion bond for school facilities, cover at least some of the costs that local measures are requesting locals to finance? More supplemental sales taxes and property tax bond assessments for public services increases our already high cost of living. (Pam Partee)

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"Meet us at 9:00 am at the Big River Parking lot entrance to the Big River Haul Road Trail (east end of the parking area near the restrooms) and join us for a short walk up the Big River trail to see what birds are hanging out in the estuary and along the trailside brush. After our perusal, we travel to bird the Bishop Pine forests overlooking the ocean on the south side of Russian Gulch trying to get a glimpse of the mythical Pelagic Woodpecker."

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ANOTHER BIG free association presentation by Trump today. Brandishing a copy of The Washington Post with a headline saying “Acquitted,” Trump slammed the impeachment process as a “hoax,” and went on to say, “It was the only good headline I've ever had in the Washington Post,” He called Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff “vicious,” “horrible” and “mean” people. He also referred to the FBI as “top scum,” called out James Comey and ripped the Mueller report and its dubious origins. Rambling on, Trump referred to the Russia investigation as “all bullshit,” the first time a president has resorted to the handy, all-purpose pejorative in public. He complimented the odious Rep. John Ratcliffe for being “straight out of Central Casting.” “If we're doing a remake of Perry Mason,” Trump said, nodding at Ratcliffe. “There's nobody in Hollywood like this.” Trump said the cretinous Rep. Steve Scalise became more attractive after recovering from a gun shot wound. “You weren't that good looking,” Trump said. “You look good now.” He finished his speech by saying: “I want to apologize to my family for having them have to go through a phony rotten deal by some very evil and sick people.” He then hugged daughter Ivanka and his wife Melania.

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FROM this morning's SF Chron: California is stuck in a dry spell amid what is historically the wettest time of the year. But while the Sierra snowpack is dwindling and rainfall totals are below normal, weather watchers are not concerned about a drought. "One dry year doesn’t make a drought," said Chris Orrock, a spokesperson for the California Department of Water Resources. "It takes multiple years of below average precipitation. And the second half of the month could be wet." Meanwhile, state reservoirs remain full from last year's storm-packed winter.

A weather system known as a high-pressure ridge is currently parked along eastern Pacific Ocean, pushing the storm track into the Pacific Northwest and keeping the Golden State dry.

"If you look at weather stories about Seattle right now, they’re getting hammered with storm after storm," said Jan Null, a consulting meteorologist with Golden Gate Weather Services. "The storms are going up over the top of the ridge into the Northwest, but not dipping down over California."

The next possible chance for rain in Northern California and the Bay Area is Feb. 15. Null said long-range weather models show this system will likely be extremely weak, delivering a mere sprinkling. It's difficult to accurately forecast weather beyond a week or two, so the forecast could change.

While Southern California is currently dry, it did receive significant storms in December and January, and rainfall totals are around normal. More concerning, the Bay Area hasn't seen a round of multi-day heavy rain since Christmas.

The National Weather Service measures seasonal totals using the "water year," running from October to September, and many locations in the Bay Area are well below average since Oct. 1.

The rain gauge in San Francisco on average measures 14.17 inches between Oct. 1 and Feb. 6, but this year it has received just 8.83 inches, or 62% of normal. The Santa Rosa Airport is at 72% of normal and San Jose 46% of normal.

"Until we get some rain, those percentages against normal to date are going to keep falling," said Null.

The dry spell is reflected in the latest map from the U.S. Drought Monitor, which indexes indexes several factors, such as precipitation totals and reservoir and snowpack levels, to determine drought conditions. (See map in the gallery above.)

While there are no signs of drought on the Feb. 4 map, 34% percent of the state is now considered "abnormally dry," compared to only 4% on the Dec. 31 map.

"You need two back-to-back years of low rainfall for drought," Null said. "That's a good rule of thumb."

Null added that the impacts of the dry weather vary depending on who you talk to.

"If you are a grower who is feeding cattle on Mount Diablo, it has been wet enough this season where there have been grasses grown," Null said. "But if you’re a resort owner in the Sierra, Presidents' Weekend is coming up and there’s not going to be any fresh powder. And if you’re a water manager, you're probably looking at the reservoirs and thinking it’s a good thing last year was very wet. It’s so dependent on the individual user."

The snowpack was in good shape after storms slammed the Sierra over Thanksgiving and then again over Christmas, but the systems in the new year have been relatively week and the snow supply is slowly shrinking. As of Feb. 6, the snowpack measured 64% of average.

Orrock is hopeful of more storms this winter and said that even amid this dry period, the highest elevations are receiving some snow.

"There are still some areas in California that are still getting some snow," he said. "As long as we don’t get really high temperatures that snow will stay the same. Our water storage is doing well. As long as we have some snowpack that will help replenish the reservoirs, we're OK."

He added, "California climate is so variable and so extreme now. Our wet years are wetter than they were and our dry years are drier than they were."

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Empire College in Santa Rosa announced today it will begin closing its School of Business over the next 18 months, citing lower enrollment exacerbated by three consecutive years of wildfires. The announcement, made by Empire College President Roy Hurd, also stated no new enrollments would be accepted, effective immediately.

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by Mark Scaramella

Several readers have asked us why we oppose Measures D and E which would allocate $1 million or more a year to the County’s far-flung fire services.

For the record: We do not oppose the measures or the funding. What we have complained about is the supervisors’ history of lipservice about supporting fire services then not delivering the cash come-through again and again, or delivering grudgingly inadequate amounts short of what is necessary. If the Supervisors had made good on their previous funding promises, there wouldn't be a need for Measures D and E.

D&E were set up in two parts to pass more easily by not earmarking the funds as a special tax for firefighting which would require a two-thirds vote, instead writing the accompanying Measure E to "advise" the board to provide the money from their general fund to the fire services.

We don’t trust them.

The last advisory measure(s) passed by the voters were AH and AI on cannabis regulation and taxation. The advisory measure (AI) designated pot program proceeds for code enforcement, mental health, roads, and fire services, as the intended recipients of the "majority" of the cannabis program revenues.

Not only have no ($0) revenues been realized — it’s in the red but the amount of red ink is still debated — but Mendo never bothered to set up an account or tracking system to identify what, if any, those revenues would be, how they would be allocated, or how much would be kept in the general fund for CEO Angelo and her board to allocate.

Last Tuesday as an afterthought to the discussion of the status of the Board’s cannabis ad hoc committee, Supervisor John McCowen suggested that maybe it would be a good idea — three years after the fact — to look into whether or not there have been any revenues from the cannabis program and how they should be accounted for.

Staff was duly tasked with taking a stab at the problem — as usual without deadlines or specifics — never mind that it's been three years since that "advisory" measure passed and over a year since the Board’s last attempt to get any numbers out of county staff regarding those elusive cannabis program proceeds. (Note: they showed a large net loss so far; the program is a mess and a failure.)

We’ve already mentioned Measure V declaring standing dead trees to be a nuisance, passed three years ago. And here’s the board, despite the overwhelming “advice” from the voters, still trying to figure out what to do about the measure and the dead trees even with the firm backing of County Counsel's opinion that the timber industry is not exempt from nuisance declarations like Measure V.

Measure B promised mental health facilities including a Psychiatric Health Facility that was supposed to keep patients from being sent out of county for medication juggling. It still lacks any real progress, and Official Mendo has never expressed any sense of urgency, accepting every silly delay and excuse and retreat as just the normal way things are done. Ho-hum. Whenever. Yawn. A response to the voters’ “advice” remains years away at best. We’re two years in and nobody even knows exactly what facilities we’re going to get.

The Prop 172 revenues, a large segment of which were supposed to go to fire departments, are still an annual re-funding begging exercise with no real assurance that those limited funds will continue to be reliably delivered to local fire departments.

Fire departments still get nothing from the Bed Tax even though Official Mendo agrees that the tourists in those “beds” are and have been a large draw on fire and emergency services.

Granted that accounting for the bed tax receipts will be easier than cannabis program revenues and given that whatever board is in place next year probably intends to follow the "advisory" measure. But history shows that the county has never prioritized fire service funding despite the lip service acknowledging the funding gap for this essential public safety service, choosing instead to give themselves big raises out of the general fund first and then doling out whatever might remain after they have generously funded themselves.

Remember when CEO Angelo and the Supervisors gave themselves those big raises a couple years ago? Those six overpaid County officials alone cost the County about the same amount in pay and benefits every year as the expected revenue from Measures D & E.

So yes, we support Measures D and E. But given their laggard self-serving history, their failure to even acknowledge their own shortcomings, and the ongoing shortfall which could be partially addressed now if they were serious, we remain skeptical that the Board will really follow the voters’ “advice” and allocate the campground bed tax revenues to local fire services in good faith, especially the underfunded volunteer departments in the unincorporated areas.

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“It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.” — Peter Arnett quoting a US Army source, Vietnam, 1968

We were worried that an unintended consequence of the projects would be a net loss of housing in Boonville. Well, scratch that. It’s clear that loss of housing is an intended consequence of the plan.

The neighborhoods that were to be saved by the clean drinking water and sanitary sewer plan will be destroyed by it. Consider the Haehl St. neighborhood. Most of the lots in the neighborhood have an original single family house and one or more additional housing structures such as double-wide trailers and other temporary structures that many families call home. Under the plan, only the original legal structure will be eligible for hookups. Worse, the plan will bring scrutiny from the County that will lead to the removal of the additional structures and will limit occupancy of the original legal structure to a single family.

Proponents of the plan readily acknowledge the truth of this. They shield themselves from responsibility by saying that they will not be the ones carrying out the evictions, that the evictions will be a consequence of enforcement of existing codes.

Proponents of the plan also tell us that once the illegal structures are cleared, the hookups will allow construction of new granny units on eligible parcels, never mind that most of the parcels in the Haehl St. neighborhood are too small to be eligible. Even for the one or two that might be large enough, construction of a new granny unit will cost in excess of $300,000, putting that option well outside of the modest budgets of most parcel owners.

Some might celebrate this forced gentrification, but it will come at the cost of untold suffering brought upon the families whose homes will be lost. And their loss will be our loss as a community. These are families that work and contribute. Their children attend our schools. They are brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers. If this comes to pass, what will those who remain of our shattered community do for them? Hold a bake sale? Take up a collection? Or will we turn our backs and tell ourselves that it was for the greater good?

(Bob Abeles, Boonville)

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There have been two quakes near Point Arena in the past hour, 2.3 and 2.5 right on the San Andreas. Thought it might be worth mentioning …

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A boarded-up structure northeast of downtown Ukiah caught fire early Thursday for the second time in a week, though the cause of the early morning blaze remains under investigation, fire officials said.

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Dear Mendocino County Board of Supervisors:

Please see yesterday's news from Lake County (link below).

Lake County's recently terminated HR director just filed a $15 million lawsuit against Lake County and its CAO for wrongful termination, violations of free speech, and discrimination.

Similarities abound with the claim recently filed by Mendocino County's terminated Public Health Director Barbara Howe, but I am sending this link mostly because at the end of the article, Lake County references an insurance pool.

I'm wondering if Mendocino County is a member of this same pool.

Are we a member of the same pool? That is my first question. I'm asking as a constituent and as a taxpayer.

I have other questions.

As you know, Mendocino County will soon be litigating again with "Keep the Code" over the Harris Quarry. We may also be litigating with Mendocino Forest Products over Measure V enforcement. And soon, I suspect, we will be litigating with Ms. Howe. Taxpayers will be shouldering the burden of all this litigation. And ultimately, we will also be paying for judgements and/or settlements, if any.

Therefore, what are the estimated costs of litigation, including attorney, consultant, and expert witness fees, support costs, and related expenses incurred in connection with these three cases? Will attorneys' fees to be awarded to the winning side, if we lose any of these cases? What is our exposure, if we are counter-sued? What is our exposure to judgement awards? And what are the estimated settlement costs, if we decide to settle? In other words, what is Mendocino County's total liability exposure?

Those are my other questions.

I ask these questions as a possible future member of the Board of Supervisors who will inherit these liabilities.

Thank you in advance for your answers.

John Sakowicz, Candidate, Mendocino County 1st District Supervisor

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"Navarro-by-the-Sea Center (NSCR) will be holding its Second annual King Tide Open House on Saturday, February 8th at the historic Captain Fletcher's Inn at Navarro River Redwood State Park from 9:00 til noon.

The Open House is being held in conjunction with the King Tides Project of the California Coastal Commission to educate the public about sea levelrise and the effects of climate change on the coast.

A 'king tide' is the highest predicted high tide of the year. The king tides on February 8th and 9th are projected to crest at over 7 feet and could be higher if there is flooding or a storm surge that weekend. The king tides are now considered extreme high tides, but they will likely become the norm as the sea level continues to rise and pushes the high tide elevations higher and higher.

The historic Captain Fletcher's Inn will be open to the public during the Open House on Saturday the 8th from 9:00 am until noon. The event is free with lots of parking at Navarro Beach. Come and enjoy the king tide from a safe distance at Navarro Beach, and stop by the Inn to warm up and enjoy a free tour. Coffee, tea and light refreshments will be available to visitors, along with a warm fire in the restored fireplace.

Visitors are encouraged to document and share pictures taken as part of the King Tide Project taken at Navarro Beach and other locations along the coast by uploading them to the Commission's website at

Please remember to be safe when on the shore, never turn your back to the ocean and supervise children at all times when on the beach.

And please mark your calendars for our annual Navarro-by-the-Sea Day, which will be held on Saturday, June 6th from noon til 5:00 pm. It's our major fundraiser of the year, with bbq, homemade goodies, local beers and wine served from the original bar, amazing silent auction items, free tours, and live music all afternoon.

Please spread the word and come down!"

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CATCH OF THE DAY, February 6, 2020

Fox, Kidd, Lilly

RENEE FOX, Fort Bragg. Controlled substance for sale/transportation, probation revocation.

SHANNON KIDD, Ukiah. Parole violation. (Frequent Flyer)

MATASHIA LILLY, Willits. DUI, suspended license.

McCoy, Papke, Sanchez, Schafer

JODY MCCOY, Covelo. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.

CHARLES PAPKE, Ukiah. Failure to appear.

RAYMOND SANCHEZ, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Failure to appear.

BELINDA SCHAFER, Potter Valley. Probation revocation.

Shipman, Sowles, Thomas

SUSAN SHIPMAN, Covelo. Taking vehicle without owner’s consent, stolen vehicle, ammo possession by prohibited person.

DAVID SOWLES, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

MELINDA THOMAS, Covelo. Contempt of court.

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BERNIE SANDERS LEADS TRUMP, All 2020 Candidates in Donations From Active-Duty Troops. No other 2020 candidate for president, including Donald Trump, can come close to matching Bernie Sanders’ level of support among members of the US military, to go by the most recent campaign finance data from the Federal Election Commission.

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'NO BETTER DISTILLATION of Washington': Democrats and GOP Join Trump in Standing Ovation for Failed Venezuelan Coup Leader Juan Guaidó

"Intervening in Venezuela's internal politics is the one thing that is bipartisan! How sad," said CodePink co-founder Medea Benjamin.

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by David Yearsley

If a soundtrack were to be commissioned for the present impeachment spectacle it would have to come from the pen of John Adams—not the Founding Father, but the preeminent American composer of the same name.

It can be no coincidence that this John Adams’s music has flourished during Trump Time. The title character of his first opera, Nixon in China, premiered in 1989, also faced impeachment. The work’s most famous numbers could as easily be given to an operatic version of the current president, none more fittingly than the opening aria “News” delivered soon after Nixon has descended from Air Force One. After greeting Premier Chou En-lai with a crass quotation of the Star Spangled Banner muscled into Adam’s throbbing orchestral strains, the American president is overtaken by the manic realization that he is the object of world attention. “News”—fake or real—becomes the frenetic mantra of the addled Commander-in-Chief. Baritone James Maddalena created the role of the volatile Nixon (one of our most musical presidents) with uncanny likeness of countenance and bearing. The singing voice, too, is self-obsessed and weirdly riveting. The palm-out hands busy to either side of the body are pure Trump.

An ardent critic of the current president, whom he has called a sociopath, Adams has made clear that he will not compose a Trump opera. His Nixon in China seems to be filling that role with a surge of productions since the Trump’s election. By the time the Hannover Stadttheater presents the opera this spring there will have been four stagings of the work in Germany alone since 2017. Another production, shared by Scottish Opera, the Royal Danish Opera, and the Teatro Real Madrid will open in the middle of February in Glasgow, moving to Edinburgh later in the month. The Europeans hate Trump and love Nixon.

Adams’s second opera, The Death of Klinghoffer (1992), remains as timely as its predecessor, but far less popular; in Germany, for example, there has been no production since 2006. In this country the 2014 Metropolitan Opera Production was an artistic and critical success, but predictably met with virulent protest. The opera dramatizes the 1985 hijacking of the cruise ship, Achille Lauro, and the killing of one of its American Jewish passengers, Leon Klinghoffer. Many believed the work sympathized with, even condoned, the Palestinian terrorists who carried out the attack, and that it trafficked in anti-Semitic clichés. It seems unlikely that even Trump’s current Middle East plan will spark a boom for this controversial opera.

The most trenchant and indefatigable of the work’s opponents is the greatest music historian of the last several decades, Richard Taruskin. His broadly philosophical and at the same time very specific musical critique of the opera entitled “The Danger of Music” was first published in the New York Times three months after 9/11 and reprinted as the title chapter of an essential 2009 collection of his journalistic writings. Soon after the attacks on the American Homeland were carried out the Boston Symphony cancelled a previously-scheduled performance of choruses from The Death of Klinghoffer; Taruskin applauded this decision for its sensitivity. His New York Times essay incensed many, including the composer himself. But the author did not budge from his position that art should—or at least, can—at times of crisis and trauma offer security and comfort rather than challenge and unsettle.

Three acts of violence are grappled with in Taruskin’s oft-quoted—and even more often misquoted—review of the opera: the terror attacks of 9/11; the killing of Leon Klinghoffer on board the Achille Lauro; and the death of Princess Diana in an automobile crash in a Paris underpass in 1997. Taruskin took Adams to task for objecting to the Boston decision when the composer hadn’t challenged a cancellation of his orchestral work Short Ride in a Fast Machine that had been scheduled in Britain soon after Diana’s death. The specter of that crash has recently been conjured again with Prince Harry’s recent withdrawal from his official duties; he did not want to subject his own family, and especially his wife Meghan Markle, to the same publicity siege, though one doubts if resigning his royal position will free him from such scrutiny.

In calling out Adams for objecting to the cancellation of excerpts from Klinghoffer but not to the same treatment of Short Ride in a Fast Machine, Taruskin may have been right—but for the wrong reasons. Short Ride, an exhilarating brass fanfare written in 1986, presents a thrillingly glib view of joyriding and, by extension, of one subset of that activity—racing to escape paparazzi. Is Adams’ high-speed romp a morally dangerous work? One would be unlikely to claim as much after hearing such kinetically seductive performances as that capping a recent recording (Decca, 2019) by the Montreal Symphony under Kent Nagano, long one of the leading champions of Adams’ music, including Klinghoffer. The composer conceived of Short Ride after being taken for a spin in a friend’s sports car: white-knuckled fun, in Adams’s words.

Being terrified is not the same as being terrorized.

Like the most effective ghosts, terrorism is everywhere and nowhere: while its acts rightly evoke outrage, the numbers of fatalities in Europe and the Americas are relatively small, as the Guardian’s American “data editor” Mona Chalabi demonstrated in an article that appeared in the aftermath of the New York truck attacks of October 31st, 2017 (the 500th anniversary of the onset of the Lutheran Reformation, if one needs to be reminded of the long trajectory of religious violence, and the blood and terror that followed from Luther’s posting of his 95 Theses.) The overwhelming majority of terror fatalities come in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa: of the world-wide 26,328 deaths tallied by the Global Terrorism Database for 2017, 124 occurred in North America—less than half a percent of the reported total. These numbers do not take into account the toll wrought by anti-terrorism actions on people, schools and hospitals.

To brandish statistics often amounts to relativizing death; it’s a morally dubious and often self-serving exercise. The death tolls from the disparate events referred to by Taruskin varied widely: one on the cruise ship hijacking of 1985; three in the Paris tunnel of 1997; and 2,977 in New York, Washington DC, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania in 2001. As reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 42,196 people died on the American roadways in 2001. Since the attacks of September 11th some 700,000 people have been killed on American roads. The second leading cause of those deaths (with the number of pedestrians and cyclists accounting for about ten percent of these) is speeding. Such willfully dangerous behavior is neither morally nor ideologically neutral in its mortal embrace of the values of speed and greed and its disdain for fellow humans and for the natural world. Cancellers and self-moderators of potentially hurtful music will have to agree that there is likely to be someone in any audience touched by, or grieving over, the road death of someone they know. To pull such pieces from a program only when royals and/or celebrities die is callous. How long will the period of mourning be for Kobe Bryant in which performances of Wagner’s Ring with its Ride of the Valkyries (made famous in the helicopter scene in the film Apocalypse Now) are suspended? The logic of “self-control” quickly spins out of control.

Klinghoffer continues to elicit protest. The untroubled popularity of Short Ride remains robust, even as the piece celebrates a much greater threat.

(David Yearsley is a long-time contributor to CounterPunch and the Anderson Valley Advertiser. His latest book is Sex, Death, and Minuets: Anna Magdalena Bach and Her Musical Notebooks. He can be reached at

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State Sen. Scott Wiener will unveil legislation today to let the state of California seize control of the embattled utility PG&E.

Mark Scaramella notes: This bill doesn’t use the term “GOCO” (Government Owned/Contractor Operated) explicitly, but that’s essentially what Senator Weiner is proposing. It’s hardly a radical idea and has been effectively used in a number of energy related areas already. A typical definition/example:

“A GOCO partnership allows each partner to perform duties for which it is uniquely suited: the government establishes mission areas, and the private sector implements the missions, using best business practices.”… “The GOCO model has been replicated many times in the subsequent decades, primarily within the DOE and its predecessor agencies.”… “GOCO allows proven private-sector processes to operate without bureaucratic restrictions. Scientists and engineers performing for a GOCO contractor are largely insulated from political pressures. Thus, they have the independence to speak out as honest brokers, acting truly in the national interest. (Sandia Labs)

PG&E should have been a GOCO to begin with. I have had direct experience with GOCOs in my logistics engineering days which were created when companies or factories ceased production of spare or replacement parts and the government bought the company and hired a contractor to continue support operations with the same staff and employees.

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I did not attend my precinct caucus here in Des Moines, Iowa. If it had been a normal primary election, I would have voted. Voting takes only minutes, not hours like a caucus. And the caucuses are an unreasonable challenge for citizens with a mobility problem, like I developed recently. (No, not a stroke, for which I am thankful.)

So Nancy Pelosi is disgusted with our President’s State of the Union speech to the point that she tore up her copy of it. Well, Nancy, I am disgusted with your “Democratic” Party, which conducts this travesty of democracy called the Iowa Caucuses. Your party could not manage a kindergarten classroom, let alone a national government.

Computer applications must be tested, and people must be trained in their use. Who doesn’t know that?

And why do the caucuses not have a secret ballot? No good reason comes to mind, only bad ones.

Why is the caucus procedure so complicated and error-prone? Any good reason?

Iowa has the caucus system so that we do not compete with New Hampshire for the first in the nation primary. That’s not good enough. The Iowa Caucuses should be abolished and replaced with a normal primary election.

The news media will oppose this change because they are addicted to the advertising revenue they get from the campaigns.

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  1. George Hollister February 7, 2020

    “ANOTHER BIG free association presentation by Trump today.”

    That is about as good of a description of the on going public face of President Donald Trump as there is, and why he is so politically vulnerable. Trump’s national approval ratings are at 49% which is remarkable because his public persona is so bad. It also means Trump has done many things people like, more so than any president in our life times. His approval ratings should be at 60%, and no Democratic Party candidate should be in a position to challenge him, but they are. Trump is not great, but he is the most significant president the US has had since WW2 and will be recognized in history as such, even if he only serves one term because of his beyond the pail unrestrained free association daily presentations.

    • Harvey Reading February 7, 2020

      That is a ridiculous analysis, even for you, George.

      • Harvey Reading February 7, 2020

        Trump is no more than the next logical step in a regression that began at least as far back as Nixon’s first term; even as far back as Truman’s accession to the throne of Freedomlandia. With the current junk pile of candidates for the throne, things will only continue to worsen, as will catastrophic climate change and human overpopulation.

  2. Marshall Newman February 7, 2020

    Wow! I almost didn’t recognize the Captain Fletcher Inn at Navarro-By-The-Sea. Nice exterior restoration. It was hard used and weather beaten back in the early 1960s.

  3. Randy Burke February 7, 2020

    FOUND OBJECT: “To serve and protect.”

  4. Lazarus February 7, 2020

    Found Object

    I think I’ll check out “booktique”.

    As always,

  5. Jim Armstrong February 7, 2020

    Did I miss the rest of the Major’s tale of the plane crash?
    If so, please direct me.

    • Mark Scaramella February 7, 2020

      No. There’s an outline, but I haven’t had time to flesh it out beyond the previously posted “Biloxi Days” anecdotes which I hope to incorporate in the final version — some day. It turns out that it’s a lot more time consuming than I thought it was when I began. There will be at least six different possible explanations for how that nose wheel got stuck and each one is a sub-story by itself each with its own backstory and motive(s) which unfold as the story/investigation proceeds. Remember: It’s a novel length treatment “based on a true story.” But thanks for asking. Nice to know there’s a little interest out there.

      • George Hollister February 7, 2020

        It is of interest to me that the details of goings on, 40 years ago, are so well remembered. The vivid description of those details is what makes the writing good. So yes, there is a little interest, and for my AF son, too.

      • Betsy Cawn February 8, 2020

        Oh, yes . . . that cliff-hanger of an ending has me waiting on the edge of my seat! SIX different possible explanations, okay, but what happened to the pilot?!!!

  6. George Dorner February 7, 2020

    I too favor funding our local volunteer fire departments. As I have noted previously, the problem with Measure E is that the funds are not specifically earmarked for the firefighters…and we know what happens to undesignated funds in this county. Kind of. The CAO will probably spend them on a mysterious whim of hers, while having the expenditure rubber stamped by the BOS and leaving the firefighters shortchanged.

    We need a Measure E Plus. Measure E Plus would earmark the funds so the firefighters could sue when the money is misdirected. It would also provide grounds for a complaint to the Grand Jury when the funds are misspent. With Measure E Plus, we might even be able to provide some help to the volunteers.

  7. Kristine Helsing February 7, 2020

    Found Object: “Hold still a minute while I take your temperature. If you have a fever you will have to go to the Corona Virus Quarantine Camp.”

  8. Eric Sunswheat February 7, 2020

    For over 90 years, Corona Tools has been dedicated to offering a full range of professional lawn and garden tools—from pruners, shears and loppers to saws, shovels and rakes. We’re here to provide you with the highest quality tools, parts and support for all your gardening needs. Season after season.

    The same thing goes for mental health intervention and Measure B. The sustainable approach is traditional short term organic psychedelic approach with guided imagery, that is regaining its legality globally, and decriminalization, nation wide.

    Big Pharma toxic psychiatric drugs are usually based upon biased safety success modeling. Don’t allow the collected tax money burn a hole in County pocket and slip away with old school class warfare redundancy.

  9. Lazarus February 8, 2020

    RE: “AH and AI on cannabis ” and County Measures in general.

    I heard just today, from a pretty good source that so-called legal Marijuana in the County is going broke, and to make any real money the black market has to be an option for the growers and others.

    When the BoS initially made up the marijuana rules instead of bringing in actual growers, to help with the transition, they took it upon themselves to produce unrealistic regulations on an already thriving business, and the result was, they wrecked it.

    The fruit of that arrogance was a totally failed County department. A revolving door of marijuana Czars, an unfair permitting process, cumbersome unworkable paperwork, outrageous fees, snobbery from county employees aimed at the growers, and perhaps, corruption from within the government itself…

    Every election cycle they roll out another Measure A, B, C or D for this or that to get more money from us, I’m voting NO,
    I don’t trust those who handle the money.

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