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MCT: Thursday, February 13, 2020

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A COOLER AND CLOUDIER TREND is in store for NW California as high pressure aloft gives way to a couple of weak weather systems. A few sprinkles are possible on the North Coast today, mainly over Del Norte County. A better chance for light rain across the entire region is expected on Saturday night and Sunday. (NWS)

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by Rex Gressett

Out of power, booted from office and massively discredited by a $3 million dollar cash misallocation and a brazen cover-up, the old guard from ex-City Manager Linda Ruffing's discredited City Council showed up Monday night to lead an orchestrated flashmob demanding continued funding for their special “happy place” — even if the city goes broke funding them.

Ex-Mayor Dave Turner, ex-city councilman Doug Hammerstrom — and a line up of paid employees — totally took over the first 30 minutes of the regular city council meeting Monday night to perform a serial whine for the continued funding of the Noyo Center.

The Noyo Center is a support facility for ego-damaged local politicians put out to pasture. They operate a whalebone museum (you can't make it up) and claim to be activists for ocean protection generally. Actually, they have zero influence on ocean policy. The Noyo Center is a fantasy factory that carefully eschews real local fishing issues (of which there are plenty). The Noyo Center has a higher calling involving issues on a planetary scale (somehow). Local fishing is beneath their concern. And anyway it’s basically "no stress" — a retirement group.

Tough choices are not their style — but manipulation of the local political process is right up their alley. The Noyo Center gang briefly filled City Hall Monday night to inform the city and the council that they had a preordained right to TOT (Transient Occupancy Tax/bed tax) funding and Fort Bragg can go to hell.

It was one week ago that the finance director solemnly informed the City Council that Fort Bragg had slipped into the red ink. Like the snowball that starts the avalanche, a very reasonable pay raise for the cops pushed the city over the edge into formal insolvency. The modest across-the-board police salary increases ate up the tiny $70,000 financial surplus and left the city with a deficit of 5,000 bucks. It's not much, but it was enough to cause total panic at the City Council.

When the Finance Director told the Council that Fort Bragg was officially in the red, Lindy Peters, with his 18 years of council experience, knew right away that the TOT money was a way out. Probably the only way. The TOT is a city fee on hotel rooms and was promised at the inception of the tax to specific purposes including 1/8th to the Noyo Center. By law, the city can use TOT money however it wants — but to get the tax approved they made promises. At the last meeting, Lindy Peters amused the people of the city by suggesting charmingly that he personally saw no way to break his promises about TOT allocations, but if the rest of the Council people could do it for him, it would be a good thing for the city.

They have to do something.

All possible sources of city income are either problematic or impossible. The people of the city told the council to suck eggs when they floated the last sales tax proposal, and the city has no easy fix for a slide into insolvency and the real threat of cutbacks to services. The “nuke” that must NOT be spoken of is that inevitable day of reckoning when massive city payments to CalPers (bureaucrat pension payouts) can no longer be avoided.

It's coming. It means city bankruptcy unless something changes — and if you think it can't happen here… It is happening to small cities across the state.

When the Noyo Center Board of Directors saw Lindy Peters squirming on the live-stream they sprang to action, showing up at the very next meeting with all their buddies, employees, friends and neighbors to metaphorically pound the table.

The people of the city may lose services, Fort Bragg may face police cutbacks, the inexorable cataclysm of pension payments to fat-cat administrators and bureaucrats (thank you for your service) is coming at us like a perfect financial storm, but insiders from Noyo Center had no trouble mobilizing a 30-minute takeover of city hall to insist that they absolutely must continue to suck up their God-given percentage of public money. Damn the torpedoes.

Dave Turner and Doug Hammerstrom, with their extensive personal councilperson histories of ducking, dodging, and lying about civic insolvency, know all about impending bankruptcy and the pressures of deficit disaster.

The subtext of the Noyo gang was a pitch for a little urbane corruption on behalf of a respected elite. After all, when they were in the saddle, they never batted an eye as Linda Ruffing misallocated $3 million bucks from the water enterprise fund, never asked about the uber-convenient firing of the then finance director that made the misallocation happen — and cheered when our current finance director swore it was all a “Bookkeeping Error.” Now it's up to the current city council to break their promises to the special interests that got them their TOT tax. Or save the city.

The City Council promised to discuss it.

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QUIZ TONIGHT: Tonight is the Second Thursday of the month so The General Knowledge and Trivia Quiz will be taking place at Lauren’s in Boonville. We start at 7pm prompt. Hope to see you there. Cheers, Steve Sparks,The Quiz Master

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Well, Thailand said “no” to our ship after days of negotiations so we are landing tomorrow in the small and poor Cambodian town of Sihanoukville, one of our first stops on the cruise. Holland America Line is going to hire planes to fly us to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. From there they will fly all 1500 of us to our homes, which should be interesting since no American or European airlines fly into Cambodia. None of these advanced transport logistics are starting until February 14. We are disappointed because we had flights home booked for tomorrow out of Singapore. All good. And we are healthy and extremely well fed and mostly happy.

PS. This is the most accurate article so far about our situation. We are docking at Sihanoukville as I write this. Holland America is booking charter flights to get us all to Phnom Penh and from there booking everyone’s flights home. It will be several days before any of us get home.



MS Westerdam has been turned away by five countries over coronavirus fears, though it says it has no sick passengers

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A reminder that we are having our fancy Valentines dinner this Friday 2/14. Bring your loved one(s) down to the Market to enjoy a delicious, handmade 6 course dinner. Regular menu ($65) features crab and filet minon, Vegetarian ($55) features tomato bisque and wild mushrooms). Reservations are required for this meal and there are only 2 spots still available (as of 4pm Wednesday)!

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photo by Judy Valadao

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VET IN VALLEY: March 5, 2020

Dr. Burns from Mendocino Animal Hospital will be at the Anderson Valley Farm Supply seeing patients on a first come, first served basis on Thursday, March 5, 2020. She is there between 2:00 and 4:00 pm. For more information you can check the events section of the Mendocino Animal Hospital Facebook page.

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“There is a full-sized book that could be written about the history of the Cafe and the people that have worked there.”

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I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR the three District 2 candidates answer these very same questions. It would give them the opportunity to put aside former city council experiences that aren’t relevant to the Supervisor position and start focusing on the big leagues. Being nice, friendly, and having a big heart are not the only criteria for a Supervisor position, nor is being a former grant writer, rail trail advocate, nor real estate broker. A Mission Statement is not an action plan.

At the recent candidate forum at City Hall all seven District Supervisors were given the opportunity to talk extemporaneously on the serious issues confronting our county. District 1 candidates were thoughtful, well versed on the issues, and talked specifically about their priorities for our county. I found myself thinking that it was too bad the District 1 runner up couldn’t be appointed to the District 2 position.

As far as District 2 candidates, It was difficult hearing what Joel was saying…perhaps he was stunned at the moderator mispronouncing his name upon being introduced and then continuing to do it all night even after being corrected. What’s up with that? Rodin had never heard of “hack and squirt” and wanted to read up on the issue, and her answer to the climate change committee was that as a new Supervisor, she could direct people to not drink bottled water… not sure that would qualify as the number one priority for the Board over Jon Kennedy’s eloquent expression of “essential services”. Mo simply turned to her laptop/Ipad and read a prewritten statement on practically all the issues. People were muttering “Why is she reading to us?”

Chris Philbrick

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Residents reminded to vaccinate pets, remove wildlife attractants

"The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is reporting an unusually high number of canine distemper virus (CDV) cases in wildlife populations throughout the state."

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FLIGHT ETIQUETTE. Among the info-deluge pouring in this morning, one item especially resonated with me, an infrequent airline passenger. A video circulated by an indignant woman identified only as 'Wendi' filmed a man sitting behind her on a flight from New Orleans to Charlotte. She kept reclining her seat and the imposed upon man kept shoving her seat and her back upright. I had a similar experience on a short flight to Portland a few years ago, when the guy in front of me tried to recline his seat several times before I shoved him so violently upright I thought he'd complain. "Here's a parachute, Mr. Anderson, you're off the flight." I have zero sympathy for 'Wendi." There you are, wedged in so tightly that people like angular me have no space between my knees and the seat in front of me. If the person occupying that seat, knowing full well the person behind him or her will have to somehow splay his legs right and left to even remain seated, and with no room to stand, well, we're beyond reasonable endurance here. The guy whose seat I shoved, another geezer, stayed shoved, but gave me a death glare as we disembarked, which rewarded him with a big smile and a thumbs up. “Wendi” was totally in the wrong on her flight, and has had the nerve to circulate what she thinks is her victimization, but I'm sure we're talking self-entitlement here, one more of that army of Me Me Me's out there.

THERE have been eerily summer-like Februaries before, but packed onto the prevalent apocalyptic vibe out there, this weather seems merely like a natural part of The Great Awry.

THIS STATISTIC pops up somewhere everyday now: "Combined $858 billion wealth of the top ten richest people on Earth is greater than the total GDP of the 85 poorest countries."

The rightwing says this is a good thing because all that wealth trickles down, magically making everyone beneficiaries of free enterprise. But it's not trickling down and never has. It's got to be taken from the magnificent magnates via proportionate taxation which, believe it or not, we used to have in this country when Democrats still represented ordinary people. Hell, an area of Brooklyn was represented by a communist up through the 1950s. Around here, the Anderson Valley, the blue collar class is solidly for Trump whose bellicosity outrages all the right people. But the minority of working people here who even bother to vote will, as always, vote against themselves because they view the Democrats foisted off on us round the clock as whiners and candy asses, an accurate perception so far as it goes. How does the oligarchy and their government reps fool so many people into opposing their own best interests? The education system, for one culprit, reinforced by almost all media, that there is no class system in America, that our interests are somehow the same as the people who own everything. Dupedom seems to be waking up, though, especially among younger people, the Bernie supporters who know in their bones that they're already screwed by age 25, a paycheck away from the street. This is an important election. The owners are pulling out all the stops short of assassination to prevent Bernie from getting anywhere near the White House, which you can verify for yourself by checking out the funding for all the other candidates, including Orange Man. If you work for wages, he is not on your side. Neither is the Democrat Party except for one candidate.

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photo by Andrew Milligan

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by Ted Simon

I’ve never really discussed this with anyone else my age, but I’d say that to grow up in wartime is to become addicted to the news. It has only just occurred to me that it is an addiction, but I realise that I have a permanent hunger for news, and that these days it is a curse because most of the news that comes my way now is bad.

Of course there was plenty of bad news during the war but by the time I got into it, around 1943, when I was 12, the general underlying feeling was that things were going to get better. And in general they did. We won the war. We survived the austerity that followed it, and roughly speaking the world went on becoming a better place, at least so far as I was concerned. The big news, on balance, was good.

And then there was the other kind of news, the kind that didn’t affect me one way or another, but was interesting to read. The newspapers were full of the little stories that you don’t get any more: Odd things that happened all over the place. A good newspaper in those days was a reflection of life, everything from escaped lions, to ingenious jewel robberies, to miraculous rescues, to lurid divorces, and even to small earthquakes in Chile with not many dead.

So perhaps I should modify what I said earlier: My addiction was as much to newspapers as to news. I liked them as objects. Whether you bought them, or they were delivered, they came folded in half and there was a definite thrill to opening them, to seeing what the big news was that day because there was no other way to get it. And after you’d absorbed that, there were snippets about the protagonists, and maybe maps and photos and background features, and after that a whole smorgasbord of stories from around the world. And it was all news because there was no television, and it wasn’t on the radio. It was all new and all in the daily paper and because it was in print you could go back over it if you missed something, or keep it for later, or think about it while reading – and then, of course, you could use it to wrap up fish and chips, or to light a fire.

I dare say that I had a much livelier interest in the news than most people my age because of my mixed origins and my mother’s politics, which became my own for almost a decade. We got the News Chronicle every day and Reynold’s News (an almost forgotten Sunday paper) at the weekend, both of them left leaning. My mother also often brought the Daily Worker, the paper of the Communist Party, back with her in the evening. For all my appetite for the newspapers though, so long as I was dedicated to science it never crossed my mind to think of working on one. Even later, if I’d had such a thought when I was planning my escape from England I would have dismissed it as absurd. With my poor French how could I hope to work on a French newspaper? However, for some quite different reason I did visit one of my mother’s friends, Harold Goldman, who was a newspaperman in Fleet Street.

He had a poor opinion of his profession and warned me against it, even though I’d had no thought of joining it.

“Every seat has a hook on it,” he said, “and any job you have is the last one you’ll have until the paper amalgamates and puts you on the dole.” He had a sombre view of Fleet Street and soon after retired to a distant county weekly where the pay was lousy but the work, he said, was honourable. How strange the way events lead one on to unpredictable and contrary paths. Here I was now in Paris playing a very lowly part in an English newspaper I never knew existed. What’s more it felt very natural to me and I took to it, as they say, like a duck to water.

The Continental Daily Mail was, by any standard, a very conservative paper. No sensational headlines, nothing extravagant about the layout. It only had one competitor, the New York Herald-Tribune, which you had to admit was a more enterprising paper. The stories had a refreshing transatlantic zip to them. Even the ads were more interesting. One of them was so extraordinary that it engraved itself in my memory forever. It showed a picture of a young woman staring out through a large plate glass window into a stormy night, and the copy below read:

Waves of comfort flow into a sorrowing heart

in the sure knowledge that your loved ones are

safe and sound from the rain and melting snow

in a Clark’s Waterproof Vault

There was nothing like that in the Continental Daily Mail.

Our inside pages were lifted straight out of the London paper, only the front page was home made, as it were, unless something really big demanded a bit more space inside. The big news at that time was mostly about the French war in Indochina. France was trying desperately to hold on to its colonies, Viet Nam and Cambodia, now that the Japanese had been evicted. Her army had just won an important victory against the Viet Cong at Na Sàn. It was to be her last triumph. Aside from that the major excitement was usually provided by Mendés-France, a brilliant, agile politician who was to become Prime Minister. He endangered his political career by advising the French to drink milk rather than wine. To everybody’s astonishment his advice was taken.

I devoured the news as it passed through my hands. Although I had nothing whatsoever to do with the result, I was fascinated to see what became of it in the paper.

Every now and again, at the end of the day, Ted or Max or Danny would invite me to have a drink at the bar next door where I would normally go to fetch them sandwiches and Pall Mall cigarettes. Danny Halperin in particular was taking some interest in me and we talked for a while in the café one night. I told him of my passion for Dixieland jazz, but it was modern jazz that excited him. He was hip, and extremely knowledgeable about it. I had not yet caught up with Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Ornette Coleman, Miles Davis and the rest so he invited me to his home to listen to some records.

He had a small but very comfortable apartment not very far from the office. There were prints and pictures, polished wood and Hi-fidelity speakers, and I met his wife, a pale soft-spoken generous woman called Paula.

I asked Danny if he could show me a little of what sub-editors actually did. “I mean I’d like to see if I can maybe make some progress in this business.” To which he replied, in so many words, hip as ever:

“Eddie, me lad, it would be remiss of me not to warn you off this newspaper racket. As the mellowing years putter by you may come to realise the news is not the muse she pretends to be. But, if your young heart still yearns . . . so be it.”

I wondered why these newspapermen were so anxious to scare me off? Nonetheless he went on to explain in a fairly simple way what sub-editors do when they mark copy up for the printer. It didn’t look that difficult, but it depended on having familiarity with typefaces, word counts and so on. The technical stuff I thought could be easily learned and typography itself interested me so Danny lent me a book. The hard part of the job, obviously, was cutting copy down to size, rewriting it if necessary, and picking up mistakes, and that would take experience. How to get that experience was the sixty-four thousand dollar question.

Even so, as long as I had this opportunity it would be silly not to use the chance to learn as much as I possibly could about the trade.

With my new-found wealth – all of ten pounds week – I was able to get around a bit more but I still spent most of my time either in the Tournon or in the clubs, and one night at L’Escale I was lucky. I found myself talking to an absolutely stunning girl. I’d seen her there before with a small crowd talking French, very animated and laughing a lot, flashing dark eyes, glossy black hair floating round a pre-Raphaelite face, in a simple but obviously expensive dress, but this time she was alone and she smiled at me. I started to say something in French but she cut me off in good English saying something like, “I’ve seen you here before,” and “I love the music,” and so I explained that I lived close by, and worked late on the newspaper, and so it went on until I suggested we could meet again a little earlier maybe on my day off and we could have dinner together, and my name was Ted and her name was Natasha and she was a student and we could meet here on Saturday.

So she actually came and we went to the Polidor. She was very warm and appreciative. I found out that she had spotted me the first time I saw her, and had come back in the hope of finding me. She said she had told her father about me and he would like to meet me next Saturday. She gave me a card with the address and the apartment number and asked if I could be there around five o’clock. She would be away in the country this week but she would see me there then. I thought the name on the card might have been Polish.

Well, the address was in the 8th arrondissement so I guessed it would be a pretty rich neighbourhood, but when I got there I knew I was in the thick of the French upper class. The apartment was in a big block very close to the Champs Elysees. A maid opened the front door, and that in itself was a new experience for me. Then Natasha’s mother introduced herself saying that Natasha had not returned yet, but would I come in and take tea with her friends. I was ushered into a large salon richly decorated and carpeted, where several women were seated in a semi circle on a set of antique chairs. All the women were impeccably dressed and made up, and they all wore hats of varying complexity.

I could not imagine a single thing I might say to any of them in English, let alone in French. There were a few muffled “Bonjours” and they went on with their conversations. Then a maid, in a proper maid’s outfit – lace cap, pinny, etc – wheeled in a trolley of patisseries. What happened next shocked me. Each of these women in turn took a cup of tea, mentioned the name of a pastry, took it on a little plate and did all this without once looking at the maid or even acknowledging her presence. She was just something that came with the trolley.

Every idea I had ever absorbed about how human beings should behave with each other was offended. Of course I did my best to smile at the maid and make up for it but she, in turn, barely acknowledged me, so I knew I was in the presence of a different species.

Natasha eventually appeared but only to rejoin her own kind and she was uncomfortably formal. Then the father arrived, a tall, slightly heavy, and obviously self-important man, splendidly dressed. We had an aperitif. He spoke only French. The conversation was awkward and trivial, and Natasha took no part in it. Before long it was clearly time for me to leave. With Natasha, he accompanied me to the foyer, where he asked me what I did at the newspaper and I explained, as best I could in French, what a copy taster did.

As I struggled on, his face became a picture of disbelief until finally, in a supremely condescending manner, with little satirical smile, he suggested that I might be telling him a tall tale and wished me good night. Very formally Natasha gave me her hand at the door. I never saw her again.

That was my first encounter with the French “haute bourgeoisie” and naturally I was angry and depressed in equal parts. In no way had I misrepresented what I did at the paper but I realised that for that man, living in his world, the idea that a poorly dressed callow youth could hold a position of responsibility on a newspaper was inconceivable. But what had Natasha seen that made her withdraw? She didn’t strike me as the sort of girl who would only be guided by Papa. I was furious with myself for putting on such a limp performance and resolved to do better next time.

I also realised that this was the only time in four months that I had ever been inside a French home. It’s true that none of my closer friends were French, but we did from time to time mix with students from the Sorbonne and others. It was the downside, it seemed of the café society. The French home was reserved for family and close friends. If they wanted to mix with people, that’s what the café was for.

Life at the paper became more and more interesting, and reached a climax for me at the end of January when an unimaginable disaster struck the Netherlands and the North Sea coast of England. A tidal surge combined with a major storm raised the sea level by more than fifteen feet, to wash over Holland, Belgium and the East Coast of Britain. It began on a Saturday night and continued through Sunday, drowning thousands of people.

That Sunday night on the paper was a revelation. For the first time since I had arrived there was a big local story of immediate interest to whoever read the Continental Daily Mail and the front page was almost exclusively devoted to it. That was the first time I saw, what I later knew to be a “splash sub” in action. It was Frank, sitting opposite me, who had the job.

As reports of the disaster flowed in from all directions, with stories from everywhere on the afflicted coastlines they had to be pulled together into one big story, the “splash.” Frank had reports from Scotland, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, spread out in front of him, together with stories from Holland and Belgium. A ferry sank in the Irish sea with 133 people drowned, coastal shipping and fishing trawlers sank, and I watched Frank, a cigarette dangling from his lips, pounding away on his Underwood typewriter, mastering and combining all these stories into one big front page story.

Normally the subs, Danny, Max and Frank worked with pencils. They just reshaped and marked the copy that passed from me through Ted Hodgson, but this one time I saw what happens every night on a real newspaper. I was deeply impressed and excited. Frank went on rewriting through the night as fresh news came in. More than 2,500 people died that day and although we were only reporting it, I felt that we were also part of this immense human tragedy.

In a different way the paper was becoming more interesting. During the following month I noticed that Ted was taking more liberties with the layout and typography. Photographs were occasionally cropped so that type ran round them. New typefaces began to appear, and they were used in more inventive ways. Nothing was said about it and any comments I made were brushed aside without explanation. I didn’t think about it too much. I was enjoying my life as never before, making more and more use of everything that Paris had to offer, the music, the incredible museums, the outdoor markets like the flea market on the rue Mouffetard.

With Spring approaching, life it seemed could hardly be better, until one day, at the end of February, I discovered the meaning of those interesting changes that Ted Hodgson was making to the paper. The intention was to make it look more and more like the Daily Mail in London, because that was what the subscribers to the Continental Daily Mail would be getting. On February the 27th (which just happened to be my mother’s birthday) I was handed a letter to say that the paper was ceasing publication, on that day. My dream of an easy life in Paris was over.

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INTERNATIONAL WILDLIFE FILM FESTIVAL struts into Ukiah on February 21!

Award-winning films celebrate species, foster stewardship

The Redwood Valley Outdoor Education Project (RVOEP) is proud to again host an engaging selection of award-winning films from the International Wildlife Film Festival (IWFF) of Missoula, Montana. The first screenings begin the evening of Friday, February 21th at the Ukiah Civic Center, 300 Seminary Avenue. The series will continue at the same venue for four more Friday evenings ending on March 20th.

All are invited to join RVOEP in a spirit of stewardship and celebration as together we honor excellence in filmmaking while learning about unique wildlife species and the natural ecosystems upon which they depend. Most films are appropriate for older children, but parental discretion is recommended.

IWFF is one of the nation’s oldest and most respected wildlife film festivals. Each year the organizers select some of the most noteworthy films for a Post-Festival Tour. RVOEP has then organized these films into a theme for each Friday evening of the festival.

Opening night viewers will be inspired by films on the theme of “The Amazing American West from a Different Perspective.” This Feb. 21st event includes the documentary “Epic Yellowstone: Life on the Wing,” which received the IWFF Award for Best Broadcast Film.

On Friday, February 28, the theme “Saving Water” will be featured, with an award-winning documentary that introduces us to an extraordinary group of high school students working to bring back the health of New York City waterways.

Friday, March 6th brings the theme “Ocean Stories," with the documentary “Humpback Whales – A Detective Story.” Also featured are two shorter films about a young cuttlefish and an amazing island that is home to 5,200 breeding pairs of albatross.

“Nature’s Weird and Wonderful,” the family-friendly theme for Friday, March 13, will feature an Audience Award Winner film about pigs along with a film about thousands of bugs and the scientist who loves them. The film festival culminates on March 20th with films from Kenya and Nepal that give us an intimate look at the theme “Stewardship of the Land.”

Participants are invited to enjoy live music and snacks starting at 6:15 p.m., with films beginning at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at the Mendocino Book Company and at the door for a suggested donation of $10 for adults and $5 for children. A series ticket for all five evenings is $45.

Purchasing a series ticket is a great way to save money and support the Redwood Valley Outdoor Education Project. The RVOEP is a special program of the Ukiah Unified School District that provides outdoor environmental education field trips and classroom programs to over 2,000 students a year. For a full program of the films and more information about the RVOEP, visit its website, For further information contact Maureen Taylor, RVOEP Education Coordinator, at 707-489-0227.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, February 12, 2020

Bryan, Clark, Douglas

JANET BRYAN, Mendocino. Domestic abuse.

VICTORIA CLARK, Comptche. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, vandalism.

REBECCA DOUGLAS, Laytonville. DUI, child endangerment.

Godinez, Hollis, Lock, Maple

MARIO GODINEZ, Cloverdale/Ukiah. “Proceedings.”

JOSEPH HOLLIS, Fort Bragg. Domestic battery.

DAVID LOCK JR., Fort Bragg. Failure to appear.

RUSSELL MAPLE, Covelo. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, vandalism, failure to appear.

Snyder, Stasi, Whipple

ANDREW SNYDER, Nice/Ukiah. Failure to appear.

SARAH STASI, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

TINY WHIPPLE, Covelo. Suspended license (for reckless driving), probation revocation.

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I’ll preface my comments by saying that (a) I graduated from Architecture School at the very end of Peak Modernism – about 1975, and (b) I also despise the hyper-complex buildings that have replaced much of it (or descended from it) – the execrable works of Norman Foster and Frank Gehry are prime examples.

There are few more breathless experiences than standing in front of the Guggenheim Museum in Balbao Spain, and wondering with some amazement where human society has got to. I won’t even begin to discuss the built environment of oil-soaked desert sinkholes such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

I spent most of my first three years of Architecture fighting “Modernism” rather than embracing it – we spent many tough days lying in front of bulldozers that were trying to knock down every decent building in Sydney that made it a very attractive place.

Even today I can walk through that sparkling city, and look with some pride at the gorgeous Victorian edifices that I played a tiny part in the saving thereof … and look aghast at some of the dun-coloured concrete towers that were ugly in 1971 and remain so.

However I disagree strongly that Modernism (the International Style) were the results of elitism crossed with the social democratic progressiveness of the 20th Century. I think this is simplistic too.

I think the forces leading to the Modernist Revolution, related much more to the following:

  1. The revulsion felt by the intellectual NON elites at the slaughter of WWI – the professional classes, the academy, and many others from the thinking middle classes
  2. The emergence of new materials and new technologies – in particular reinforced concrete, elevators, aircon, better glass and steel, and the production of components in factories
  3. And it is all about the economy – the enclosing of space was able to be achieved far more efficiently and far more cheaply
  4. And Modernism (in direct contrast with Neoclassicism) was also very much about the setting of the built environment into the natural one.

In many respects, Modernism was a reaction to, and rejection of, the elitism of the old ruling classes, and its embodiment in civil and commercial buildings alike.

Just about every state capitol in the US is a mini US Capitol – nothing surprising there – because they are the embodiment of power, importance, and permanence. Nothing surprising in that of course; the same with many court houses and county chambers across the landscape.

In my own fair land, there was a humongous Gold Rush between 1850 and 1890 – more gold was pulled from the ground in about three of four regional centres in our colonies than in the rest of the world combined.

You can go to dozens of still-prosperous rural towns across these regions, and see where a good slice of all this wealth went.

Apart from the banks, by far the grandest buildings are the town hall and the post office – almost all a brave (and enduringly beautiful) attempt at some amalgam of Neoclassical, along with the stern proportions and restraint of Georgian, mixed with the fussy detail and extravagant doo-dads of the Victorian era.

Nothing like it has been built – or even really contemplated – since. Drought, depression, and the gold running down, brought the country face-to-face with reality after about 1895.

And while I agree that stone and wood are wonderful materials, they are very expensive – both in procurement, and then being worked by skilled tradespeople.

That’s why their use are essentially limited to the Summer “Cottages” of the Newport Rhode Island Gilded Age, the vast ski lodges of the seriously wealthy (Rupert Murdoch’s pad in Sun Valley, etc), or to some of the more blessed national parks – where budgets were generous and labour gangs was cheap during the Depression.

As for FLW – all his spectacular houses were for seriously wealthy clients – the dog-faced old right-winger had very easy design-build gigs, in my estimation.

As to Trump’s Executive Order, I’m certainly not outraged about it – and certainly not for the reasons cited by the New York Times and other commentators.

Trump the iconoclast is just being Trump the Dictator … he is getting “federal buildings” to look like how he wants them to look – because I guess he can. What’s the point of being President if you can’t do stuff like eat ice cream strait from the carton at midnight?

I certainly personally prefer Jefferson’s University of Virginal pile (Picture B) to that ridiculous “look at me” disaster in San Francisco (Picture A).

But not because Modernism, and its satanic love children since about 1970, are the dire outcomes of Progressive thought … just about every Neoclassical building in the land (any land really) is there to impress, intimidate, and overwhelm the general populace.

They are hugely elitist, and inefficient to boot – even if the windows and rooms conform to perfect Palladian edicts, or the Fibonacci dictates of a nautilus shell.

And realistically, while every modern post office is just another clean tidy shop-front in the local mall these days, I think it’s progress, not entropy. I do appreciate their modernity and efficiency, and the very light touch they impose on the public purse to deliver a federal function.

I don’t need an imposing building just to collect my mail or get a passport renewed – the nice shop next door to the grocery store and near my favourite coffee stop is far more convenient. Form really does follow function in such cases.

Trump is very familiar with going bankrupt in order to have Other People pay for his grandiose buildings and schemes … perhaps that’s the future he sees for US federal buildings designed on his watch.

But if I had to choose between the neoclassical pile that is – say – the gold-domed Colorado Capitol in Denver, and a fake-gold Mar-a-Lago on steroids, I guess I’ll take the former.

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DORRIE AND THE BLUE WITCH (1964) written and illustrated by Patricia Coombs

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Boards and Commissions Vacancies as of February 11, 2020

A list of all new and existing vacancies is available on the County Website at:

Please contact the Clerk of the Board office at (707) 463-4441 if you have any questions

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that there are vacancies on the following Board(s) and/or Commission(s):

  • Mendocino Historical Review Board (1) -- Member
  • Policy Council on Children and Youth (PCCY) (1) -- A Member of the Community at Large-
  • County Commission on Medical Care/Partnership Health Plan of California (1) -- Public Representative-
  • Health and Human Services Advisory Board (2) -- Community Representative-

If you are interested in serving on this Board, contact your Supervisor, or the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, at 501 Low Gap Road, Room 1010, Ukiah, CA 95482 or (707) 463-4441.

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Dear Mendocino County Board of Supervisors:

In the Agenda Item for "Closed Session" for the Board of Supervisors meeting, on February 25, 2020, please include this letter as "correspondence received, public comment". Although the Board may not, and should not, respond on matters of a confidential nature, the public still has a right to comment. To silence the public's right to comment on any agenda item would be a violation of free speech.

My comment is the following.

During public comment at next Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting, I am asking the same question that I asked during the last meeting on February 4 and for which I received no answer: Are County funds being used to pay for the defense of County executives -- for example, County CEO, County HR Director, and County HHSA Director -- who may have broken the law or violated County policy, and who were subsequently named as respondents in a complaint or defendants in a lawsuit?

In other words, do County executives have "blanket indemnity"? And are we, the taxpayers, being asked to bear the cost of defense for County executives who may have broken the law or violated policy? Will taxpayers also end up paying for settlements?

Another way to ask the question is, does the County protect employees from suffering expenses in direct consequence for not doing their jobs?

Isn't any contract or agreement, expressed or implied, made by the County to any employee become null and void when the law is broken or County policy is violated?

I ask because, as you know, the County has significant exposure in the complaint filed by former Public Health Director Barbara Howe.

Yesterday, I learned that former Ag Commissioner Harinder Grewal has filed a similar complaint. I believe the Law Firm of Duncan James is representing Mr. Grewal.

So I ask again: How big is our exposure? Who pays for the defense? Who pays for settlements?

Thank you for your response.

John Sakowicz, Candidate, Mendocino County 1st District Supervisor

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SOMETIMES it's better NOT to abbreviate.

* * *

THE BEES HAVE A WONDERFUL WAY of supervising their work load: they note the idleness of slackers, reprove them and later even punish them with death. Their hygiene is amazing: everything is moved out of the way and no refuse is left in their work areas. Indeed the droppings of those working in the hive are heaped up in one place so that the bees do not have to go too far away. They carry out the droppings on stormy days when they have to interrupt work. As evening draws in, the buzzing inside the hive diminishes until one bee flies round, as though giving the order for lights out, and makes the same loud buzzing with which reveille was sounded, just as if the hive were a military camp. Then suddenly all becomes silent.

— Pliny the Elder, 70 AD.

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* * *


To the Editor,

I can't think of a better candidate for 2nd District Supervisor than Mari Rodin. I moved to Mendocino County in 1972. I have dedicated the last 48 years of my life to responsible land use, environmental protections, renewable energy promotion and minimizing my carbon footprint, while also supporting responsible economic development. I know Mari shares these values as does the majority of Mendocino County and that she would represent them on the board. We were all drawn to this very pristine and special place and we all want to protect its natural beauty and resources, and while growth is inevitable, it must be done thoughtfully. When Mari was Ukiah's mayor she helped revise the city's zoning policies to encourage in-fill building rather than sprawl. She also wrote grants that brought us funding for the Great Redwood Trail, which, once built, will encourage people to go outdoors and promote our county's natural beauty among locals and tourists alike. Mari was a huge help to our Solar Living Institute in getting vacant classroom space in which to do solar and environmental education in Ukiah. With your support and mine, our entire community will benefit from having Mari Rodin as our supervisor. She is head and shoulders above the other candidates and deserves our support.

Best Regards,

John Schaeffer

Founder, Real Goods & the Solar Living Institute


* * *

* * *


"There need to be mass protests," a Yale philosophy professor and expert on fascism told Insider. "The Republican Party is betraying democracy, and these are historical times. Someone has got to push back."

* * *



  1. George Hollister February 13, 2020

    What is the opposite of taking responsibility for yourself?

    Being a slave.

    • Harvey Reading February 13, 2020

      Just more of your conservative, blame-the-victim hot air, George.

  2. James Marmon February 13, 2020


    “I believe the Law Firm of Duncan James is representing Mr. Grewal.”

    I thought Doug “the midnight rambler” Losak was representing Grewal, does he work for James? I found it interesting that he took the case. Losak as Deputy County Counsel used to handle all these types of cases for the County and knows his way around employment laws. With that said, I believe this case is going to Federal Court because of the discrimination allegations based on his ethnicity, so an outside firm will be obtained by the County to deal with the situation.


    Subject: Harinder Grewal

    “In the June 26, 2019 edition of your paper, on page 6, you stated you were trying to confirm if Mr. Grewal had been placed on administrative leave from his job as Mendocino County Agriculture Director. Consider this confirmation. In fact, the County fired Mr. Grewal on July 10, 2019 without offering him a hearing of any type, despite the fact that according to Food & Ag code section 2122 ‘[t]he term of office of the commissioner shall be four years from and after his appointment and until his successor is appointed.’ A claim was filed with the County yesterday. In addition, a complaint was filed with California Fair Employment & Housing Agency.”

    “In California, a discrimination claim can be filed either with the state administrative agency, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or the federal administrative agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The two agencies have what is called a “work-sharing agreement,” which means that the agencies cooperate with each other to process claims. Filing a claim with both agencies is unnecessary, as long as you indicate to one of the agencies that you want it to “cross-file” the claim with the other agency.”

    James Marmon MSW
    Former Doug Losak Victim

  3. Stephen Rosenthal February 13, 2020

    Long ago in my late teens and early twenties I was in a rock band. I had a Vox amp and a white Silvertone electric guitar. Silvertone guitars were sold by Sears Roebuck at that time and, while not at the level of Fender, were decent guitars. Chris Isaak plays Silvertone guitars to this day. Vox Amps were terrific with state of the art electronics but very heavy and bulky to transport. I’m not surprised but unaware that The Beatles used them. Thanks for jogging some memories of the good ole days.

  4. Stephen Rosenthal February 13, 2020

    More bells tolling for newspapers: McClatchy Publishing (Sacramento Bee, Miami Herald, among many others) has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

    • Marshall Newman February 13, 2020

      Sad. Also frightening. The rise of free, digital news also has been the rise of fake – authentically fake, not that as defined by Donald Trump and his minions – news.

  5. Lazarus February 13, 2020


    I don’t like Cads…

    As always,

  6. Harvey Reading February 13, 2020


    Can’t help wondering what rulers around the world are up to while we are diverted by paranoia over this latest “plague”. Gee, how did we ever survive the opioid “crisis”…probably by popping more antidepressants, or other pain killers and such. Humans never learn, no matter much history gets recorded.

  7. Harvey Reading February 13, 2020


    The Swamp

  8. James Marmon February 13, 2020


    Lake County PIT Count findings released over here, where’s Mendo’s? I find Lake’s count interesting, did they go knocking door to door or what? They could be stealing money away from Ukiah.

    I don’t see a lot of “Street level Homelessness” around town here in Clearlake except for around the dollar store, no tents though, just people hanging around in front of the store. You see people panhandling near Walmart, but I don’t think all of them are actually homeless, it’s just something some do over here to earn an easy buck.

    Latest ‘Point in Time Count’ finds growth in Lake County homeless residents

    “The count surveyors asked participants, “Where did you sleep last night?

    They received the following answers:

    – 348: A place not meant for habitation, which includes tents, cars, abandoned or red-tagged buildings, trailers or RVs without power or water, in a bush, etc.
    – 10: Emergency voucher.
    – 1: Hospital.
    – 2: Halfway house.
    – 3: Hotel, no voucher.
    – 14: Transitional housing.
    – 2: Host home.
    – 70: Friends, temporary.
    – 11: Friends, permanent.
    – 42: Family, temporary.
    – 2: Family, permanent.
    – 6: Other.”

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