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MCT: Wednesday, April 22, 2020

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CLOUDS WILL OVERSPREAD most of our area this morning as a weak storm system approaches the Pacific Northwest. Showers will subsequently spread across much of northwest California today, with the most numerous shower activity focusing on northern Humboldt and Del Norte Counties. High pressure will return with warming temperatures and dry weather Thursday and Friday. (NWS)

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by Chris Calder

Fort Bragg's Coastal Trail reopened last week to the gorgeous weather that has visited the Mendocino Coast during the COVID-19 lockdown.

The trail — literally Fort Bragg's front yard — has been closed since March 26th, when local and state govenrments shut down state, county and city parks to keep suburbanites and city dwellers from bugging out to the countryside to avoid the lockdown. Coast people, many of whom practice social distancing as a way of life, had to give up, not a vacation, but a big part of what there is to do around here.

Hard to feel sorry for coast dwellers at any time, of course, but it's been a surprisingly oppressive tease — locked down on warm, sunny, windless days that you rarely get one of on the Mendocino Coast, packed with the blossoms of the earliest spring in a century, the almanacs say.

That all changed April 14, the day after the Fort Bragg city council decided that, though the parking lots would remain closed, city parks, including the coastal trail, could reopen.

The decision wasn't a no-brainer. About the only thing people get more upset about than being locked down these days, is other people not being locked down. Many feared (and still do) that re-opening the coastal trail would trigger a flood of uncaring, underdressed, COVID-carrying Bay Areans (aka Brightlighters in Boontling) wandering the aisles of local grocery stores and haunting local gas stations.

Others protest increasingly the undeniably vast increase in government power almost overnight — something that even feels a little like oppression.

The Mendocino Coast's cultural petri dish has not spawned anti-lockdown protests or any other kind. But people are restless. And scared.

So a walk on the Coastal Trail sounds like just the thing to some. It's a different walk — the parking lots are closed; no public bathrooms. Distancing is not difficult on a 30-foot-wide walking track. Masks are required.

A week after the trail opened, Fort Bragg Police Chief John Naulty said things are good so far.

"The Trail has not been an issue," he wrote in an email Tuesday. "People are policing themselves."

The re-opening didn’t go without incident, though; "The parking lots are closed, however, this Sunday someone took down the parking lot barricades at the Glass Beach parking lot twice."

Before the opening, Naulty cautioned that people handling themselves was the key to keeping the trail open.

"It seems to be working for now," he said this week. "We will see if we begin to have changes with the [Health Officer’s] Executive Order this Friday on allowing a 10 mile travel to recreation. At that point if we have problems we will be forced to close the Trail."

Keeping what limited public space there is functioning and — key these days — clean, is a big part of local government's COVID-19 role, as is tracking, testing and caring for especially vulnerable and underserved people like those without shelter and people recently released fron California's COVID-stricken state prisons.

So far, two inmates — known anyway — who were released from state prisons specifically because the institutions had COVID-19 outbreaks ended up in Mendocino County over the past two weeks, before anyone in the public health sphere knew about it. One former inmate in the Ukiah area tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the county's fifth known case, and is in quarantine. The other tested negative at Mendocino Coast Clinics on April 17.

Neither Naulty nor Mendocino County Sheirff Matt Kendall — nor anyone — was pleased that the state had allowed potentially infected people to go where they pleased with no notification. Especially because, also last week, a man convicted of violent assault escaped for a time from Parlin Forks Conservation Camp, a fenceless woodland prison camp 15 miles east of Fort Bragg where, it has been repeatedly promised by the California Department of Corrections, only non-violent offenders would be held. Last year, another prisoner escaped, that time all the way to Vallejo. It turned out he was a violent criminal.

Naulty wasn't asked about the Parlin Forks incident, but the released state prison inmate was on his mind.

"The (case of the) inmate here was lucky for us — not a problem (though) I was disappointed that County Health initially did not provide us with any assistance until I called them. Susan Convery of the Health Department and Lucresha Renteria of Mendocino Clinics set up (having) the person tested, which came back negative. The State person dropped the ball by not notifying us of the release and potential virus."

Naulty confirmed there definitely was an outbreak in the prison the inmate came from.

Another crucial element of local COVID-19 response is addressing needs of people without shelters to shelter in.

That response has taken many forms, even within Mendocino County. A homeless camp south of Ukiah near the airport with dozens of people continues to be an unsolved, potentially life and death problem for both Mendocino County and Ukiah city governments.

In Fort Bragg, partly because of ongoing efforts by city government and community organizations, churches and individuals, there is no large homeless camp, and many of the smaller locations are known and visited regularly.

Since COVID-19, local officials and groups have focused on moving the most vulnerable, mostly older homeless people into motel rooms. The police department has played an active role in those efforts and, Naulty said, with some bumps in the road but no wrecks, so far so good.

At its April 20 special meeting, one of a series of emergency sessions convened online, the Fort Bragg city council started to address the financial tsunami approaching local governments across the country: tax revenues turned off like a spigot, or at least reduced more suddenly and drastically than anyone has ever seen.

The council's first pass at cuts picked out an unfilled sergeant's position and a Community Service Officer in the police department, along with several other fulltime city jobs and all seasonal workers. City Finance Director Victor Damiano is saying to expect recession for years to come.

Walks on the trail any time we can get them will be much appreciated in coming weeks.

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FROM THE PEOPLE Who Deliver Health Care In Mendocino County

(submitted by Michael Turner)

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by Mark Scaramella

CEO Carmel Angelo opened Monday morning’s Supervisors meeting by saying that Mendo has been approved for a “phenomenal” $750k reimbursement from FEMA, 75% of about $1 million that the County has accumulated in “emergency” expenses that they applied for and are eligible for. Angelo added that they have spent about $250k more than that, of course. Later, the Supes were told that the State is considering covering 75% of the remaining 25%, which would leave Mendo to cover the a remaining $60k or so of expenses so far. But of course, that’s only through the end of March. So more to come.

Angelo also said that the City of 10,000 Buddhas outside of Talmage plans to donate some face masks for first responders which were supposed to be picked up this week.

Interim County Health Officer Noemi Doohan said she was about to issue some minor relaxations of the Shelter in Place order which would allow driving up to ten miles for “recreational activity”; allow non-essential businesses to deliver existing inventory; and the lift of singing prohibition for such things as the live streaming of religious services (which apparently had caused serious consternation among some exuberant local evangelicals). Dr. Doohan noted, however, that wind instruments such as trumpets, saxophones, oboes, flutes, French horns, trombones, kazoos, etc. are still banned.

On the other hand Dr. Doohan said she was about to issue a face mask requirement for public places. (See separate item.)

Dr. Doohan urged local businesses and non-profits to start preparing limited re-opening mitigation plans for after May 10 when she hopes some of the state’s restrictions will be reduced for some non-essential busineses. Apparently the County is working with West Company (a business advice non-profit) to develop guidelines for various business and organization categories (including schools) for operations post-relaxation. Expect the guidelines to be schoolmarmishly detailed and difficult to implement much less police.

Dr. Doohan also said that although there’s no indication of community spread in Mendo so far, “we still face possible community spread from neighboring counties.” So she is not ready to significantly loosen restrictions. She added that she anticipates some relaxation in early to mid-May “based on what the Governor does” at that time. Several Mendo officials specifically mentioned the likelihood that the Boonville/County Fair (scheduled for the third weekend in September) will probably not occur this year and that it would be better to make a formal decision on canceling it earlier than later to allow time to adjust.

Dr. Doohan said she was “outraged” at the overall testing capacity shortage in general and in-county, adding that the State has set up a “testing task force” to address shortages of swabs, transport media, reagents, etc,

As of Monday morning Mendo had conducted 492 tests; 197 of them at the public health lab in Santa Rosa and 295 at a commercial lab. 135 of the 197 were “high risk surveillance” of people who were not sick but may have been exposed and they were all negative. The other 62 were for facilities like the jail, clinics, hospitals, and first responders. The 295 commercial lab tests were conducted by local clinics and hospitals and that’s how the current five positives were detected. 

There are only 100 more test kits at the moment so Dr. Doohan is being conservative with testing until the situation improves.

Dr. Doohan said that based on some recent experience in Lake County, Mendo plans to test raw, unprocessed sewage in some areas to see if the virus is present. On April 8, all four raw sewage samples that Lake County tested were positive, “So it’s likely that there’s some community spread in Lake County” due to the virus’s presence in sewage. 

County Budget Manager Darcie Antle told the Board that all virus expenses are being manually tracked outside the County’s standard budget system. A reported 381 employees have put in about 26,000 hours (an average of about 68 hours per employee, mostly in March and early April) on virus-related matters. 

Antle also reported that the county has issued about $188k in motel vouchers for the aged and vulnerable homeless, but did not give a breakdown of what areas those vouchers have been used in.

CEO Angelo made several remarks about the County’s looming budget gap. She said that her staff and the County Auditor now estimate a decrease in revenue of about $4.5 million. “It’s quite possible” it won’t be $4.5, Angelo added, trying to be opimistic. 

We assume that the CEO’s $4.5 million estimate is for this fiscal year ending on June 30. So it’s also “quite possible” that the shortfall could exceed $4.5 million. Not to mention the long-term forecast, post July 1. Either way, “It will be five years before our finances return to 18-19 levels.” Austere budgets are coming, said Angelo, perhaps like back in the 08-09 “great recession.” “I’m very concerned about the budget and these revenue reductions,” said CEO Angelo, adding, even more ominously, “We know what that means.” 

Yes, we do. If it’s anything like 08-09 the County will face a number of difficult options: voluntary or mandatory time off, staff reductions (which have not returned to 08-09 levels in most general fund departments), early retirements, office hour reductions, across the board pay cuts…

Angelo said that austerity measures should begin now. “I don’t want to go back to [recent] commitments to employees,” said the CEO, obviously expecting just that. 

If the CEO and the Supes had any real sense of leadership, knowing the “austerity” that is surely upon them — not to mention the general public — they’d immediately give themselves a pay cut to 2008 levels — setting an important example for the kinds of cuts that obviously will have to be made soon.

Angelo also predicted that some capital expenditures that the Board had approved but have not been implemented yet “will be in front of you again” — aka canceled.

The CEO also reported that the Measure B Mental Health Facilities Oversight Committee will meet this Wednesday and that “projects are in the works.” “We face somewhat [sic] of an economic disaster,” said Angelo, presumably referring to the “disastrous” funding cuts that may be in store for Camille Schrader’s mental health services contract. So Angelo said she will ask the Measure B committee “to consider re-directing some of the Measure B money that’s sitting there” to “community based organizations” (i.e., the Schraders) “including the community clinics that are going for support of mental health services.” 

The Board decided to defer the deadline for payment of bed tax and business improvement district lodging fees for three months to allow the County’s hard-hit lodging industry to hang on to the money a little longer. It’s not that much, considering that it’ll still be due this summer anyway, but presumably every little big helps. 

Coastal Supervisor Dan Gjerde noted that he supported the idea because, “If any lodging operators are foreclosed on or go into bankruptcy that would delay it by years.” 

Does Supervisor Gjerde know something about the Coastal lodging industry collapse that the rest of us don’t yet know?

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The Mendocino Public Health Officer Dr. Naomi Doohan is expected to amend the Shelter-In-Place order to make it mandatory to wear a face-covering (or mask) in public on Friday.

If you don't have a mask, and there are plenty of people making them for sale — you can make your own using info from the link provided.

Current COVID-19 Statistics for Mendocino County:

  • 4 recovered cases
  • 1 active case
  • 542 Negative Tests
  • 16 Pending Tests
  • 563 Total Tests

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City of Fort Bragg Landlord Assistance Fund Program

Outside of my district, but I was asked to share. Please distribute with Fort Bragg friends who might not be subscribed to this list.

City of Fort Bragg

Landlord Assistance Fund Program

Applications accepted beginning April 21, 2020 The Fort Bragg City Council has created a program to assist local property owners impacted by a loss in revenue due to a tenant's inability to pay rent, as a result of COVID-19. Eligible property owners can apply for up to $2,000 in a zero interest loan, to be paid back within 180 days of the Shelter-in-Place mandate being lifted. Funds are limited and available on a first come, first served basis. 

Eligibility Requirements:

 — Must reside within 95437 zip code

 — Rented properties impacted by the Eviction Moratorium must be located within Fort Bragg city limits

 — Property owners with four (4) or more Fort Bragg rental units must hold a current City of Fort Bragg business license

 — Financial request must be a valued at 50% or less of delayed rental payment(s)

Supporting Documentation:

 — Picture ID

 — Proof of Ownership

 — Documented proof of delayed rental payment due to COVID-19 reason

 — Signed Agreement with associated lien on property, provided by the City

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I regret to inform you that I've taken a passing interest in one of your paper's more chaotic and notorious sideshows — Wanda (Tom? Hawkins? Pynchon?) Tinasky. I've read Factor's publication, and, of course, Foster's, as well, but was curious as to your thoughts/personal account of the matter. How much of a stir were these letters causing at the time? Did anyone ever guess at Hawkins, or even know the guy? Did the 87-90 protests/arsons/murders/fistfights feel like the manifest of a mass psyche terror in the back end of the Reagan years? Do you feel the tensions between EF!'rs and log-laborers were intentionally exacerbated by G-P to protect their class interests and general hold over industry? Those are my questions — feel free to ignore them and focus on whatever you please, I'd appreciate any nuggets. Hope you and yours are well. 

Terrence Borage-Knightley, Sacramento

ED REPLY: Well, T-B, you may doubly regret the length of this reply and, perhaps, its disillusioning content. Beginning with the Tinasky affair, I would say the letters, as they appeared in Boonville's beloved weekly and the Coast Peddler, the latter sometimes called The Coast Pervert in a rather harsh jest at the polymorphous sexual practices prevalent out there on the edge of the Pacific, caused quite a stir, at least among the local literati, defining Mendo's literary intellectuals in the Khmer Rouge sense — anybody wearing glasses. Because Wanda/Hawkins was wittily critical of local poets, those poets, accustomed solely to mutual affirmation, were in particular deeply offended and spent much time trying to figure out who had betrayed them. I loved the letters, and assumed they were the work of a hyper-literate old beatnik holed up in the hills somewhere who amused himself taking pot shots at the Mendo culture, one of America's larger rural targets. I didn't know Hawkins but I was right about his pedigree; he was indeed an erudite old beatnik — and, in Frisco beat circles, quite well known. (Some people will recall that beatniks comprised a small literary movement but, unfortunately, also inspired millions of shaggy libertines called hippies, also now extinct.) Hawkins was a talented writer and friend of poets who were not yet famous, people like Gary Snyder, Michael McClure, Ferlinghetti and so on. Speculating here, I think Hawkins, who retired to Fort Bragg from the SF Post Office with his wife, a talented sculptress, and not to put too fine a point on it, viewed the local talent as a gang of pretentious buttheads. Anyhoo, and as the world turned, and the Wanda letters continued, it happened that Thomas Pynchon had been in the area at the same time, eventually publishing a novel called ‘Vineland.’ Because the Wanda letters arrived meticulously composed on a manual typewriter and bore a striking stylistic resemblance to typewritten letters of the mysterious Pynchon, I made what turned out to be the unfounded surmise that Wanda and Pynchon were one in the same. It seemed to me, that Hawkins had gone to brilliant lengths to insinuate himself as Pynchon, which I still think he did. However, a perpetually aggrieved old battle axe calling herself TR Factor parlayed my incorrect surmise into book-length error. Hawkins came to a shocking end; as you seem to know. I say shocking because his letters were so much fun we all assumed he had to be a fun guy in real life. But, jeez, he murdered his wife, mourned over her remains for two or three days, fired his house as her funeral pyre, and drove himself into the ocean off the cliffs near Westport. Nope, never met the man. Few people beyond his Fort Bragg neighbors and Bay Area literary lights knew him. Mrs. Hawkins was known to people at the Mendocino Art Center where her work was much admired. Foster discovered the whole story in about a week's investigation, although the battle axe referred to above probably still thinks she unearthed the truth of this odd matter.

AS FOR THE POLITICAL TUMULT you refer to, it all seemed to me merely the rural version of the Great Unraveling that began in the 1960's. Reagan was the lead swine at the time but look what's happened since. The Fort Bragg Fires of '87 were the work of organized crime affiliates who took over Fort Bragg as a cocaine hub when they realized that there was an authority vacuum here in Mendo County that they could depend on to leave them alone, a calculation that proved correct although the arsonists were identified by local police whose work in identifying the perps was ignored by then-DA Susan Massini. The FBI and ATF were also in Fort Bragg bumbling around town in their identifying windbreakers but all the files amassed on the case by all of the investigations have since disappeared from the DA's office. Mendo, at the time, was not a reputable jurisdiction but never dull. The county's been radically blanded down since but still interesting. (A full account of the FB Fires is available at The timber protests began wholesomely enough but ended in media slut-ism and legal scamming by the Bari-Cherney sectors of Earth First! Yes, I think the outside timber companies benefitted greatly by successfully portraying the protestors as nutballs and unemployable dopeheads, which was only partly true, but then, as you also probably know, mention the environment in any context and the druids come running.

TODAY'S PLAGUE ROUND-UP: Anti-lockdown rallies are growing in the hookworm areas of the country — Texas, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, and there was even a 50-person wahoo rally for the coronavirus in Crescent City. Texas' Lt. Governor repeated his assurance that "there are worse things than dying.” Missouri said they are suing China for unleashing the virus, and a Harvard law professor declared that home schooling gives parents "authoritarian power over their children." Attorney General Barr said he might sue states that were slow to lift corona controls while our leader himself said the television ratings for his daily briefings are "through the roof" right up there with Monday Night Football and Bachelor Finale. "But I don't care about that," Trump said, "I care about going around the Fake News to the PEOPLE." Many more of US will die this coming flu season when corona rebounds for another go, according to Robert Redfield of the Center for Disease Control: "There's a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through, and when I've said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don't understand what I mean."

RECOMMENDED VIEWING, the PBS documentary on mental illness called "Bedlam," both a history of mental health strategies and recurring contemporary segments on the painful hopelessness of several patients. The upshot? The lack of long-term custodial care. The reality? Increasing numbers of the mentally ill living on the street where they are periodically arrested and recycled through short-term emergency facilities, with the cops left to deal with the mentally ill as best they can via incarceration. With the plague shutting down much of the economy, the mentally ill, always a low civic priority so long as they're invisible, will receive even less attention. The movement away from long term care has been a bi-partisan political effort beginning with JFK through Reagan on up until today. 

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A toast to us all!

It's been nearly a month of "sheltering in place" and only a few things are different here...the road traffic has been reduced by at least 80% so we can hear nature much more clearly — the birds, dogs, chickens, roosters, pigs, bees, wind — and our accidental social life aka our visitors, are now mainly locals or folks who just needed to get out of the house and take a drive, either with or without the kids. 

Mother nature has been trying for awhile to get our attention in more subtle ways than through this virus — floods, fires, tornadoes, ice caps melting, obvious overpopulation issues — but to no avail. This time she set it up differently. First she had many of the world's countries elect moronic/evil dictators or dictator wannabe's to office, then she started ramping up the global warming disasters, and now she's sicced the first of probably many deadly viruses on us. She knows she has to get rid of us to save the earth and its creatures. Since we've been grade A torturers of her and her creations for quite some time, she's going to pay us back in kind. She probably feels a little foolish having created us in the first place. 

Maybe the shutting down of our entire world economy is what it takes to force us humans to change our trajectory, our impact on the world, what we view as important. Personally, I'm doubtful. 

Our swallows are back; the dogs are happy hunting mice; the chicklets are healthy and the roosters loud as usual; our new piggies are well behaved; the bees are at work; the wind has been tame. Enjoy the lovely spring, sniff the flowers, taste the food, watch the birds and connect with how you feel. 

Our best wishes to all of you.

Nikki Ausschnitt and Steve Kreis 

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Food bank kudos.

Hats off (masks on) to the Anderson Valley Food Bank and the proficiency the volunteers displayed on Monday. Thank-you for helping to keep the citizens of the valley healthy and with food.


Pamela Courtright


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CATCH OF THE DAY, April 20, 2020

Anaya, Carver, Gearhart, Joaquin

CHRISTIAN ANAYA, Ukiah. Domestic battery, damage or destroy communications device.

ANTHONY CARVER SR., Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

BARRY GEARHART, Branscomb. Domestic abuse.

SAMSON JOAQUIN, Covelo. Domestic abuse, assault with deadly weapon not a gun, infliction of great bodily injury.

Martinez, Seller, Trace

VALENTINE MARTINEZ, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

JACOB SELLMER, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

KATHERINE TRACE, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Grand theft, conspiracy.

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For Earth Day (hopefully): 

We humans are a branch on the tree of life. The degree to which we cut ourselves off from nature, is the measure of our insanity — and our biggest saw is greed.

Lily B.

Redwood Valley

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In this April 1, 2020, photo, cars line up at a drive-thru food pantry at Woodland Mall in Grand Rapids, Mich. The National Guard helped distribute the food at the site, which was run by Feeding America West Michigan. The pantry is one of many set up after the coronavirus arrived in Michigan. (Neil Blake/The Grand Rapids Press via AP)

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Dear AVA,

You want to have some fun? Try making your own (now required) face-mask. It isn’t required that you make your own, but required to have one.

There was a picture in the SF Chronicle on Saturday and notification that they will be required if you go into a store. The picture showed us how to make one. 

This project ended up being one of the most senseless and humorous things I have tried in a long time. “Try it; you’ll like it.”

Ashley Jones


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Dear Betsy Cahn,

 How much do you know about the history of the USO? It’s easy enough to find out. Just take our quiz!

But first, I’d like to thank you for your recent support of our men and women in uniform.

If you’re up for a challenge, we invite you to test your USO smarts by taking our quiz! By doing so, you might just learn something new about Elvis, and more!

With help from patriotic supporters like you, the USO has a proud and rich history of providing services for U.S. military members and their families through a global network of USO centers. The USO creates and maintains strong connections between service members and their families, homes and country, no matter where they serve.

Their journey is everyone’s responsibility. From the moment they enlist, through their assignments and deployments, and as they transition back to their communities, they rely on your support. When it comes to supporting the troops, there’s a very special group of donors that go above and beyond, just like our heroes. They are our monthly sustainers, and without them, we wouldn’t be able to provide as much critical support to our men and women in uniform. Today, you can become a sustainer for as little as $10, $20 or $30 a month — less than $1 per day — and feel good knowing you’re doing your part to help our service members stay connected to family, home and country!

Think you know a thing or two about the USO?

Your First Challenge:

In how many locations does the USO operate around the world?

 Take our USO History Quiz to answer the question above and see how well you know the history of the USO. Good luck!

 We've contacted you because you signed up or provided us with your email address which is listed as

United Service Organizations, Inc. (USO) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization (EIN/Tax ID: 13-1610451) and not part of the Department of Defense (DoD). The appearance of DoD visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

Dear USO Mary English,

I first heard the voice of Elvis stutteringly emerging from a loudspeaker on the rear of a troop ship returning to the US from Japan, circa 1956, in the only location where the civilian family members on A and B decks could “mingle” with the troops by the aft Coke machine. We were then more than 2 weeks from home, having endured endless gray horizonless skies and bilious shifting of the vessel, which had taken on insufficient balast water to soften the harsh determination of its drivers to make headway regardless of rough seas.

 Don’t remember which tune, in particular, viewed him as a new kind of media creature — pop phenom — which turned out to be the bane of my existence for decades. Oh, sure, sexy and symbolically “rebellious” and leading the listening lemmings to a generational abberation headed by “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” maniacs.

 When “Altamont” happened in 1968, the coda of the cossetted culture rang out across the hills — “I can’t get no satisfaction.” Indeed.

With all my love to you, to my brothers and sisters in uniform, and military wives and children everywhere, please don’t send me this kind of sentimental crap.

Betsy Cawn

The Essential Public Information Center

Upper Lake

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Conspiracy theorists always resonate with some people … they just so wish to believe such piffle. The “data” presented is at best hugely cherry-picked, and at worst totally laughable.

And totally socially inept – a young person with previously undiagnosed leukaemia dies after catching Covid-19. Had they not caught the virus, they would still be alive, and might well have led a full life. How does that not count as a Covid-19 death?

The reality is that deaths from Covid-19 are probably woefully under-reported, rather than over-stated, as the conspiracists like to exclaim.

And the conspiracists can never answer one thing: who is the “they” that benefits from a pandemic, from an economic crunch, from a lockdown program? Where is the pay-off?

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Welcome to the Mendocino County Civil Grand Jury. The Civil Grand Jury is composed of 19 legal residents of the county. This civil grand jury is empaneled to provide citizen oversight of local government agencies and their expenditures for the good of the county residents. It is sometimes referred to as the “watchdog” of the community. It functions under the authority of the Mendocino County Superior Court. 

Applications are still being accepted for the 2020-2021 grand jury with a May deadline.

The 2019–20 Coronavirus Pandemic Public Health Emergency has created the opportunity for innovative “business as usual.” 

This is old news. What continues to be “news” is how people and organizations cope with the evolving situation. 

The 2019-20 Civil Grand Jury quickly needed to discover new ways of communication for time-is-of-the-essence methods of doing business.

Fred Branson, Willits, is Foreperson of the 2019-20 County Civil Grand Jury. An AT&T retiree, he’s knowledgeable about the tech world. With the help of Logan Shine, a local business consultant, also on the Grand Jury, the GJ has begun using teleconferencing, videoconferencing, and other interactions for committees to meet and continue their work.

“The County GJ investigates county and municipal governments and departments to ensure our tax money and other revenues are being spent with the best outcomes for county residents. Especially with the current situation, the next GJ will bear much responsibility to make sure the county is accountable to its residents,” explained Branson. 

“We found a company to create and host meetings securely after the company developed stronger security measures. Documents can be created, shared and edited in real time on-line.” 

 “With the Jury’s commitment, we are making this work,” added Branson. 

“Clearly, there is a need for jurors with diversified interests and skills, and this pandemic has shown the need for technology savvy.”

If you’re interested, here is what you need to know:

•You must be a county resident age 18 or older.

•You must have been a resident of the county for at least one year on July 1 of your service year.

Other requirements are listed in the application.

The process to become a civil grand juror for the next jury year, beginning July 1, starts in the spring. Those who have an interest in pursuing an appointment to the Mendocino County Civil Grand Jury (MCCGJ), should go to the website. Applications are accepted from all qualified citizens and may be downloaded (

Applications are reviewed by the Superior Court judge appointed to preside over the Grand Jury, and a drawing is held to pick 19 jurors. Those not selected are placed in a pool of alternates. You are urged to apply as quickly as possible.

You may also contact Mendocino County Civil Grand Jury, P.O. Box 939, Ukiah, CA 95482, or call (707) 463-4320. Email:

Carole Hester

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Former State Prison Inmate On Early Release Among Lake County’s Confirmed Covid-19 Cases

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During the late summer of 1999, Jürgen Knemeyer lived in Willits on Hilltop Drive. He was a long-time resident of Mendocino County–helping raise his daughter, working as a journeyman at Ukiah’s California Tile, and supplementing his income by cultivating marijuana.

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by Jonah Raskin

These days, citizen journalists are almost everywhere reporting on the ebb and flow of the virus, from Seattle and San Francisco to Chicago and New York. It’s hard not to receive the news in some shape or form, and, while some of the reports are more insightful than others, what seems to link all of them is that they heat up the conversation. That’s what mass media has always done, at least in modern times. Italian novelist and theorist, Umberto Eco, once described the media as a furnace. “Grazie, Umberto. Lavoratori del mondo, unitevi.”

Umberto might have added that, if it bleeds it leads. In the current situation, when the bodies pile up in China, Italy, the UK and elsewhere, they push nearly everything else aside. It’s right to keep body counts and to report them, and also to make sure that viewers, readers and listeners know that older people are dying more often than younger people and that the poor and people of color are much more at risk than well off folks with white skins.

I get most of my news online and in emails from friends and family members close to home and very far away. I try to shun TV news. It seems so shallow. Yesterday, I received an email from a friend in Brooklyn, N.Y. who said that five elderly people died in his building. That was too close for comfort. One of the primary challenges in these times is to report accurately without whipping up hysteria. There’s more than enough of that to go around. I’ve noticed that some citizen journalists delight in predicting doom and gloom and describing enormous political changes that are looming on the horizon.

I am not so sure about big changes, and I take issue with friends who point out that Zoom has radically altered the ways that we communicate in the crisis and will go on doing so. I have taken part in several Zoom sessions, and, while I like seeing familiar faces and hearing familiar voices on my own computer at home, I don’t believe that Zoom will change the world for the better. Indeed, junk news has proliferated. I’m reminded of Thoreau who pointed out that the telegraph did not lead automatically to the transmission of more intelligent messages, but rather to their more rapid transmission. “We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate,” Thoreau observed. He added, “We are eager to tunnel under the Atlantic and bring the old world some weeks nearer to the new; but perchance the first news that will leak through into the broad flapping American ear will be that Princess Adelaide has the whooping cough.”

Were he alive today, he might observe that Zoom, PBS and the like tell us that Ivanka Trump has traveled by air despite warnings not to do so. It’s good to know that idiocy runs in the family, but what about so-called ordinary Americans. How are they traveling? In my own neck of the woods, they have been out on the roads in increasing numbers over the last several days, despite the fact that county officials have urged citizens to stay at home.

In a recent piece in The New Yorker, the editor David Remmick argued that the reasons for the “American failure” to respond adequately and quickly to Corona were “lack of preparation, delayed mobilization, insufficient testing, and a reluctance to halt travel.” Strange that he says nothing about the for-profit American medical industry. Strange, too, that he says that Bernie Sanders “did so much to transform the debate over health care,” and yet doesn’t use the words socialism or socialized medicine. Apparently certain words and phrases are not to be used for fear of offending advertisers and bobo subscribers to the magazine.

One of the bigger stories in my view is the fact that Trump and his thugs are willing for bodies to pile up if and when the Dow goes up. Isn’t that the way U.S. capitalism has operated from the start? The system has accepted the unacceptable deaths of working class Americans on the job and in toxic environments when their labor means bonuses for corporate executives, rising profits and fat dividends for investors.

I say fuck the stock market, fuck profits and investors and save lives. Also, liberate the media from millionaires and billionaires. In the midst of the pandemic, life goes on. There’s been too little reporting on that front, though I was delighted to read recently an account by a citizen journalist in New York who observed that for the first time in a long time you can hear the birds singing in the city. In my neighborhood people go out and howl every night at 7 or 8 p.m. That seems to have happened spontaneously and without corporate sponsorship, but that may change. As they say on the evening news, “stay tuned.”

Meanwhile, save us from unthinking New York Times reporters such as Neil Irwin who recently asked, “Who would have thought that a crisis that began with mortgage defaults in American suburbs in 2007 would lead to a fiscal crisis in Greece in 2010? Or that a stock market crash in New York in 1929 would contribute to the rise of fascists in Europe in the 1930s?”

All-too often, New York Times reporters don’t make the connections that need to be made, but rather see each story as separate and discrete and not part of a web that links the seen and the unseen, the present and the future and the seemingly irrelevant detail to the fate of empires.

(Jonah Raskin is the author of For The Hell of It: The Life and Times of Abbie Hoffman and American Scream: Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ and the Making of the Beat Generation.)

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  1. Marco McClean April 22, 2020

    I’d like to hear about the photographer who’s been shooting the mug shots lately, that end up in your Catch of the Day section. What I’m seeing isn’t just someone clicking the shutter. They’re really good at it, and they give people some dignity in a hard time for them. They make me want to know the people in the pictures.

  2. Eric Sunswheat April 22, 2020

    RE: And the conspiracists can never answer one thing: who is the “they” that benefits from a pandemic, from an economic crunch, from a lockdown program? Where is the pay-off?

    ——->. April 19, 2020
    “What it underscores in the first instance is how underprepared we are,” said Sherri Goodman, a senior fellow at the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program and Polar Institute. As a former first deputy undersecretary of defense in environmental security, she coined the term “threat multiplier” to describe climate change’s kaleidoscopic impacts.

    “Our systems — institutional, infrastructure, health, emergency response — could all be overwhelmed from the climate crisis,” Goodman said, warning that the time for wholesale climate resiliency preparedness is upon us. “What we have now is history accelerating itself — things are happening so fast.”

  3. Susie de Castro April 22, 2020


    I remember being highly impressed with Germany’s solution to the world-wide economic downturn, in 2008. Immediately, EVERYONE went to work part time.

    • Susie de Castro April 22, 2020

      As a result, there were no jobs lost.

  4. Lazarus April 22, 2020

    Found Object

    Hey H, ain’t that ole Howard?

    As always,

  5. Joe April 22, 2020

    Mortality rate turns out to be much lower than politicians are claiming;

    If they listened to this doctor is is on the front line we could be ending this nightmare today;

    What we are seeing today is the effect of mixing politics, science and big vaccine/pharma controlling the show. It’s a nice way to trash the worlds economy and bring in the New World Odor.

    • Bruce Anderson April 22, 2020

      Whoever you are, Joe, the paranoid nonsense you’re posting here is…. about to be cut off, not that ava readers aren’t savvy enough to recognize crazy talk when they see it and hear it, but take it some place else. Thank you

      • Stephen Rosenthal April 22, 2020


      • Joe April 22, 2020

        Good morning Bruce, If you would like to have a friendly debate about the paranoid nonsense then let’s go at it. There seems to be plenty of it these days. Maybe you would like to start with the record amount of snow in the northern hemisphere or the growing number of doctors who are on the record saying that hydroxycloroquine therapy is working? I don’t apologize for not being part of the MSM echo chamber. Bruce are you really “Last Newspaper Fanning the Flames of Discontent”? Maybe you should let your readers figure out the difference between fact or fiction. Zero Hedge was rightfully pointing the finger at the labs in china and was “censored” like you are attempting to do to me. Now there is a full scale investigation of those laboratories going on by the Federal government but ZH is still banned on twitter. In addition ZH was the only website that was telling the truth about our rigged financial system since the last episode in 2008. Does it look rigged now with millions of unemployed and stocks going up, and the fed destroying our currency? So if you would like to censor me go right ahead and do it, join the echo chamber and sleep well.

      • Harvey Reading April 22, 2020

        It’s no worse than what Philbrick gets published, on a regular basis.

        • Joe April 22, 2020

          Thank you. I sometimes think that it is some morbid joy liberals get laughing at conservative viewpoints. Too bad.

          • Steve Heilig April 22, 2020

            You took “no worse than Philbrick” as some kind of compliment or encouragement?!?
            No wonder you believe the nonsense you post.

            • Joe April 22, 2020

              Another token conservative available for your ridicule. Someday maybe you guys will debate the facts instead of casting shade.

        • izzy April 22, 2020

          You beat me to it.
          The guy surely garners some eyeballs, but there’s not much else to commend.
          The CIA-coined ‘conspiracy theory’ gets trotted out when there is nothing left (or right) to offer.

  6. Eric Sunswheat April 22, 2020

    April 21, 2020
    The Nation found “close to $250 million in charitable grants from the Gates Foundation to companies in which the foundation holds corporate stocks and bonds.” In other words, the Gates Foundation is giving money to companies that it owns stocks in and will benefit financially from.

    As a result, the Foundation and Gates himself continue to increase their wealth. Part of this growth in wealth also appears to be due to the tax breaks given for charitable donations. In short, it’s a perfect money-shuffling scheme that limits taxes while maximizing income generation.

    Companies that have received donations that in turn made money for the Gates Foundation include Merck, Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline, Vodafone, Sanofi, Ericsson, LG, Medtronic, Teva and “numerous startups,” The Nation writes, adding:

    “A foundation giving a charitable grant to a company that it partly owns — and stands to benefit from financially — would seem like an obvious conflict of interest …

    Tax scholars like Ray Madoff, a law professor at Boston College, indicate that multibillionaires see tax savings of at least 40 percent — which, for Bill Gates, would amount to $14 billion …

  7. Lazarus April 22, 2020

    Measure B will be on Youtube today, at 1 pm.


  8. George J. Dorner April 22, 2020

    So, as I previously predicted in this paper, the CEO is going to illegally divert Measure B money into whatever. This according to your report above.

    Has anyone at the AVA recently checked the Measure A funding to see if it has been ripped off from the library and illegally spent elsewhere?

    • Harvey Reading April 22, 2020

      Gonna have to find a new name for this part of the country. I can think of a few… Nothin’ “flyin’ over” these days. Peaceful. No contrails filling the sky. No roaring jet engines. About 99.99999999999 percent of bidness meetings that used to “require” air travel could be as well handled via computer communications. Lies can be communicated quite efficiently without traveling hundreds, or thousands, of air miles just for personal contact.

  9. Eric Sunswheat April 22, 2020

    U.S. Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948 (Public Law 80-402), popularly called the Smith–Mundt Act, is the basic legislative authorization for propaganda activities conducted by the U.S. Department of State, sometimes called “public diplomacy”. The act was first introduced by Congressman Karl E. Mundt (R-SD) in January 1945 in the 79th Congress. It was subsequently passed by the 80th Congress and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman on January 27, 1948.

    The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012, which was contained within the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (section 1078 (a)) amended the United States Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948 and the Foreign Relations Authorization Act of 1987, allowing for materials produced by the State Department and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to be available within the United States.[1][2]–Mundt_Act

  10. michael turner April 22, 2020

    Lots of buffoons practicing medicine without a license these days.

    • Joe April 22, 2020

      Like Bill Gates? The guy doesn’t even have a high school diploma and God knows what sort of “cures” he is cooking up.

      • Harvey Reading April 22, 2020

        Wish congress would pass a law restricting his ability to end (frustrating) frequent operating system “version” obsolescence, which includes obsolescence of the costly associated user software. For example, there’s not a dime’s worth of difference to the user between the WordPerfect suite of the late 90s and the current version. But, the old version won’t even install on Windoze 7, let alone 10. Gates is overrated, and greedy. Operating systems should be in the public domain, developed by public employees. Give me socialism any day.

        • Joe April 22, 2020

          Linux is your answer

  11. Joe April 22, 2020

  12. Lazarus April 22, 2020

    No surprise at Measure B today, “The Incident Commander” got the million bucks.
    As always,

  13. Susie de Castro April 22, 2020

    Film by Laurie York

    Having restored an old abandoned farmstead, a Northern California couple makes farming their life’s work.
    Uploaded on April 21, 2020

    Thank you, Laurie

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