- Coast Cool
- Ukiah Arsonist
- 489 Cases
- Email Needed
- Boonville Connection
- Pandemic Strategies
- FB Finances
- Philo Connection
- Boonville Water
- Big River
- Ed Notes
- Harriet Hawk
- AV Survey
- Steam Donkey
- Real Closed
- Napa Eateries
- Tourism Protest
- Yesterday's Catch
- Congressional Recess
- Debate Safety
- Stutter Joe
- Sluice Gate
- Class War
- Log Jam
- Ancestral Sin
- Flood Debris
- Voter Suppression
- Bravo Kamala
- Fire Response
- Sleepy Dems
- River Camp
- Early Release
- Found Object
DRY AND NEAR AVERAGE conditions will persist again today, with mild conditions near the coast. Hot conditions are expected Friday and Saturday, with mountain thunderstorms possible Saturday. Hot and dry conditions are expected to continue into next week, although the coast is expected to see a return of the marine layer. (NWS)
ARSONIST SETS SIX FIRES IN SOUTH UKIAH WEDNESDAY EVENING
Sheriff Seek’s Public’s Help In Search For Arsonist
Incident Number: 2020-19823 (10:15PM Wednesday, 8/12/20)
Crime/Incident: 451 PC (Arson)
Location: Ukiah Valley:
- South Dora Street near Fircrest Drive
- Gobalet Lane near South State Street
- Highway 253 near South State Street
- Plant Road near Taylor Drive
- End of Airport Park Boulevard (2 times)
- Babcock Lane near Talmage Bridge
Date of Incident: 08-12-2020
Time: 4:55 PM to 6:57 PM
On Wednesday, August 12, 2020 at 4:55 PM Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched to a fire on South Dora Street near the intersection of Fircrest Drive in Ukiah, California.
As Deputies were arriving at the scene, a separate fire was reported on Gobalet Lane near South Street Street approximately 1.5 miles to the south.
As Deputies were also arriving at this scene, they noticed another fire on Highway 253 near South State Street which was approximately 1/2 mile to the south.
Deputies began providing evacuation warnings to the public located in these areas when another fire was reported on Plant Road near Taylor Drive in the approximate area to the fires on Gobalet Lane and Highway 253.
As Deputies were contacting the public they learned several people had seen a person who they believed was intentionally starting the fires.
This person was reportedly a Native American or Hispanic adult male. He was described has having a ponytail, wearing black clothing and riding a bicycle.
Deputies began searching the area for the person with the assistance of the Ukiah Police Department, California Highway Patrol, County of Mendocino Marijuana Enforcement Team and Mendocino County Major Crimes Task Force.
For approximately two hours, several people matching the person's description were contacted by law enforcement personnel but the contacts did not yield the person suspected of committing the acts of arson.
During the two hour period, there were three additional fires with two being located at the end of Airport Park Boulevard and one being located on Babcock Lane near the Talmage bridge.
Personnel from CALFIRE, the Ukiah Valley Fire Authority and Hopland Fire Department responded quickly to each fire scene. Once arriving they were able to quickly contain the spread of the fires and were successful in get them extinguished.
Sheriff's Detectives are continuing investigations into the fires which are believed to be acts of arson at this time.
Investigators are asking for the public's assistance in identifying the person who is believed to have committed these acts of arson.
If anyone living in the following areas has security camera footage of the outside of their home depicting the person described in this press release, during the time frame of 4:50 PM to 6:57 PM on 08-12-2020, then please contact the Sheriff's Office Tipline by calling 707-234-2100.
The areas of interest for security camera footage are:
- South Dora Street from Fircrest Drive to MeadowBrook Drive
- Fircrest Drive to South State Street
- Oak Knoll Road to South State Street
- Fairview Court to South State Street
- South State Street from Fircrest to Highway 253
- Gobalet Lane
- Plant Road
- Airport Park Boulevard
- Babcock Lane
ELEVEN MORE MENDO COVID CASES
NOTE TO JAMES RHOADES OF SAN FRANCISCO: we need your email address to get you access to the on-line AVA.
THE BOONVILLE CONNECTION
CHANGE IN PUBLIC HEALTH STRATEGY NEEDED
Mendocino Coast COVID-19 Update for the Week of August 10, 2020
by William Miller, MD, Adventist Health – Mendocino Coast Chief of Staff
By many measures, our initial response to this epidemic, which included shutting down “non-essential” aspects of our economy, were successful in thwarting a truly disastrous surge that would have overwhelmed our health care system. As we have loosened those restrictions, cases have been predictably climbing over the past six weeks. This is true across the US, as well as here on the Coast.
This increase has led to an equally predictable increase in the need for testing. Unfortunately, instead of having adequate testing to promptly identify new areas of outbreak and mitigate them with aggressive contact tracing and quarantine measures, we have once again run into a national shortage of testing supplies. This is made worse by laboratories being overwhelmed by the volume causing delays in test results, at times over 16 days or more. Clearly, a public health strategy based on early identification of newly infected persons with the subsequent requirement of isolating for 14 days fails miserably when the test result is not even available inside those 14 days. Medical tests, those that we use in hospitals to identify patients sick due to COVID, are also in short supply.
Public health departments around the State have been unable to keep up with contact tracing as California averages more than 8,000 new positive test results per day. Thus, community surveillance testing followed by contact tracing has failed as a containment strategy. At this point, we need to move on to other approaches.
Politicizing the situation is not helpful. However, to be clear, the problem lies at the highest levels of the federal government that have failed to show needed leadership. The federal response has been uncoordinated and inadequate from the start. Writing to your local county supervisor or even your state representatives will not be helpful either. Pressure needs to be placed at the federal level encouraging a more organized and effective response.
Take heart, there is much that we can still do as a community. Remember, this is a community challenge and we must come together as a community to respond to it. Short of going back to shelter-in-place, or even worse completely shutting down our communities, we need to get very serious about masks and social distancing.
Masks must be worn in all settings outside the home in which you might encounter others. While it is fine to go without a mask while biking along a public trail, it isn’t okay when strolling down the sidewalks in town. And, the mask really needs to cover your nose as well as your mouth. If people can’t seem to find the motivation to do this voluntarily, then law enforcement will need to enforce this mandate, even as unpopular as that may be.
Additionally, our definition about what it means to socially distance needs to be kicked up a couple of notches. Simply standing six feet apart in line at the grocery store is not enough. We need to seriously limit the size of our social gatherings. Please, limit social gatherings to only a few close relatives and friends. Having a big family reunion right now is a bad idea for you, your family and for the rest of us.
Lastly, let’s examine this idea of a social bubble. It is an attempt to recognize that we are social creatures and we need the interaction and support of our friends and loved ones. If we can define our own small group of such cherished persons and agree to only let down our mask and socialize closely with them and only them, then everyone in our social bubble will stay safe. It only works if everyone in that group stays within the group. If social bubbles overlap then it instead becomes a fluid way for the disease to spread from one unmasked group to the next. In his inaugural address, President John F. Kennedy challenged us to, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” He meant that we should each, as good citizens, strive to find ways to work for public good. Well, your country is asking you now to each do your part to stop the spread of this disease for the greater good. And if patriotism means making sacrifices for the greater good of the nation, then now is the time...be a patriot and wear the mask.
FORT BRAGG CITY FINANCES: IT’S GOOD NEWS, RIGHT?
by Tabatha Miller, Fort Bragg City Manager
If you watched the City Council meeting on Monday, August 10, 2020, you got a quick overview of the current financial estimates for the City of Fort Bragg. By pre-COVID-19 standards, the news was terrible. The City’s Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) was down $556k for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020 or 21%. The TOT revenue for second quarter alone was down 66% or $470k. However, during COVID, I was happy with the revenue results. Despite the fact that the decrease in TOT revenue was more than the City of Fort Bragg experienced during the Great Recession, it was less than projected in late April. In late April, the City was shuttered and almost no one was staying in our hotels and lodges. At that time, I projected that TOT would be down 27% for FY 19-20 or more than $720k.
Late last week, staff met with MuniServices, the City’s sales tax consultant, to review preliminary data from the first quarter (January-March) 2020. According to MuniServices, Fort Bragg sales tax revenue for first quarter 2020 was down 21.1% and is projected to be down 21.8% for second quarter (April-June) 2020. An indication of Fort Bragg’s dependency on tourism is illustrated by a comparison to other jurisdictions.
Like the news about TOT, General Fund sales tax for FY 19-20 will exceed the projections from April, but will still be well below original budget and the prior year. The City estimates revenues will be short of original budget by $250k but will exceed the April projections by $180k. An interesting observation about taxable sales at food markets: This figure was up for the first quarter. Keep in mind that food is not taxable, so this increase reflects sales of nonfood items and does not reflect total overall sales. Nonfood items would include toilet paper, alcohol and cleaning supplies – it does appear to be evidence of stocking up or “hoarding.” So other than a bit of hoarding, the revenue reports are good news – right?
Yes, but as the number of positive cases in the county, state, country and world continue to rise the question is how long will the financial impact of the virus and economic shutdown last? Real gross domestic product (GDP) for the U.S. decreased by an annual rate of 32.9% for the second quarter of 2020. The estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis was the biggest drop in history. GDP is the total value of goods produced and services provided in a country during one year. It reflects decreases in personal consumption, exports, private investment, residential investment and state and local government spending. In other words, the country’s whole economy. Keep in mind the decrease, of nearly a third, was partially offset by increased spending by the federal government.
Another economic indicator to watch is unemployment. While California regained 26% of the jobs lost in March and April, the unemployment rate for the state for June remains at 15.1% according to the California Employment Development Department. Mendocino County’s unemployment rate for June was 12.3%. This is below the peak in FY 2009-10 of 12.6%. Unemployment over time provides important information about business closures and layoffs, which will have longer term impacts on our economies.
The bottom line, City Council’s early actions to recognize the potential impact of the inevitable recession following the economic shut down has placed the City in a better position to weather the economic storm. What we don’t know is how long this recession will last. The thought that the recession length and depth would look like a V with a quick deep drop followed by a strong recovery has been largely discarded in favor of the swoosh, with its quick deep drop and gradual recovery. MuniServices is estimating that it will take a little over three years for Fort Bragg’s Sales Tax revenues to return to pre-COVID-19 levels. If anyone is interested, Thomas Adams from MuniServices will be presenting the first quarter 2020 sales tax results to the Finance and Admin City Council Committee on August 12, at 3:00 pm.
THE PHILO CONNECTION
BOONVILLE WATER AND WASTEWATER TREATMENT UPDATE #2
There is a clean drinking water and fire suppression issue in Boonville
Going all the way back to the 1970’s, contamination was detected near water wells in Boonville. In 2015 water testing detected coliform bacteria and high levels of nitrates in 21 of 23 residential wells tested in central Boonville. In 2019, a fire devastated downtown Boonville, burning Pic N’ Pay and Lizzby’s Restaurant to the ground as well as several dwellings behind the building. Many were displaced and some also lost both their businesses AND their homes! The Anderson Valley Fire Department did not have sufficient water during the incident. The Fire Chief also reports that the hydrants at the elementary school are out of service due to a lack of water supply and the volume at the high school is inadequate for fire suppression. The safety of our community’s children is at risk!
There is a solution to the problem
The State of California has made providing clean drinking water to all its residents a top priority. In never before seen available grant funding, the Anderson Valley Community Services District (AVCSD) has been working with the Water Board (State Water Resources Control Board) to develop a drinking water system for central Boonville. It is estimated to cost approximately 16 million dollars and the construction and installation would be completely paid for by these grants and, in addition, now they will even pay for the residential lateral hook-ups. Engineers have been working to identify a cost-effective approach to solve the problem, and it involves siting several clusters of wells around Boonville. As most of these are existing wells the water table would not be affected as usage would not necessarily increase. Growth will continue to be limited by current County of Mendocino zoning requirements and the state will only fund a system with an “overcapacity” of 10%, also requiring fire hydrants be installed every 500 feet under the grants. Current private wells could be kept for irrigation, provided a backflow preventer is installed. The water in Boonville would finally be brought up to safe drinking water and fire suppression standards.
How can you help?
Please become informed about the Boonville Drinking Water project by:
Reading our FAQs at avcsd.org/watersewer.php
Attending a Water Projects Committee meeting held online at 10:30 AM on the first Thursday of every month via Zoom; sign up for announcements by emailing your request to email@example.com to be added to the email list;
Attending an informational water/wastewater community meeting to discuss: the status of the project, the health consequences of NO water treatment in the Anderson Valley, the hydrology of Boonville, and the impacts of a municipal system (these will be announced on the AVCSD website or the AV Advertiser);
Contacting an AVCSD Board member to discuss the project
The State funds will no longer be available if the AVCSD doesn’t act soon.
The Anderson Valley Community Services District Board
- Val Hanelt Chair (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- François Christen (email@example.com)
- Kathleen McKenna (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Larry Mailliard (email@example.com)
- Paul Soderman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
THE NEWS that Willits either has to up its sales tax or revert to becoming a county responsibility that the county is in no position to assume places The Gateway to the Redwoods squarely between the proverbial rock and its hard place, primarily because Willits doesn't have all that large a tax base to begin with for the size of its population. Nor does Ukiah, for that matter. Most of Mendo's sales tax money is generated on the Mendocino Coast, not inland. The Sheriff's Department would be hard pressed to assume responsibility for Willits if the Willits Police Department were to disappear. But with businesses already struggling, an upwards bump of the sales tax is unlikely to be embraced by the town's petit bourgeois, the only bourgeois Willits has. Mendocino County boasts a thriving haute bourgeois but, hell, any place can say that. How about a bona fide bourgeois? Well, there's Charlie Mannon sitting on top of the Savings Bank of Mendocino, and maybe a coupla discreetly charming bourgies lurking in the sprawl of their ocean view dentist complexes near Mendocino, several real-deal bourgies maintain huge ranches in the Covelo vastness, and one in Boonville, but Mendo, alas, is mostly a hard scrabble kinda place, getting harder and scrabbler by the day.
NOT ESPECIALLY RECOMMENDED VIEWING about the Golden State Killer called, "I'll Be Gone in the Dark" via HBO, a five-part saga more about the author, Michelle McNamara, who died before the psychorama killer was finally identified and arrested. Ms. McNamara odeed, driven to the old uppers and downers cycle as the combined pressure of completing her book and her obsessive quest for the killer drove her to the pharmaceuticals. Ms. M had the killer totally pegged except for his name and address, and even with all the dogged research by her and the police of several jurisdictions, without major advances in DNA technology the Golden State Killer would have finished his days in a comfortable suburb of Sacramento. An ex-cop — an unhappy fact that the cops working on the case suspected for years — when Joseph DeAngelo was finally arrested last year it turned out that he'd been married to an attorney for forty years, although they'd been separated for some time, but not before the couple produced three daughters, one of them also an attorney, another a doctor, the third a graduate student at Davis. Hmmm. When Mrs. DeAngelo left Mr. Rape and Murder back in '91, and just surmising here, did she at least suspect that hubbykins' unexplained nighttime absences were to satisfy some non-sanctioned impulses? Dad's out late at night many, many nights so, like, wifey had no idea or even curiosity what Mister was up to? A lot about this guy is still not known, but over three decades he raped 50-plus women, committed a confirmed 13 murders, mostly by bludgeon, and was known to have racked up 120 burglaries.
STORY (1) FOR THE GRANDCHILDREN: DONUTS
Early Saturday morning I heard a very light tapping on my office door. The tapping was so hard to hear I thought it might be one of the cats. But the tapping kept on — tap, tap, tap.
I went to the door and opened it, and there were two very small children, a little boy and an even littler little girl.
"Good morning," I said. "Can I help you with something?" The little girl looked like she was going to cry. She backed up like she was afraid.
"Meester," said the little boy. "Meester, we need a job."
"A job?" I asked. "What kind of job? How old are you?"
"I am 7, Meester, and my seester is 5. I am a good sweeper, Meester. I can sweep anything real good."
"What is your name?" I asked the little boy.
"Felipe," the little boy answered, "and my seester's name is Rosalito."
"What can Rosalito do?" I asked.
"Nothing," Felipe said, "but we both need money to buy donuts at the Redwood Drive-in."
"Can Rosalito pet my cat?" I asked. "I will give you five dollars to sweep my office and I will give Rosalito five dollars to pet my cat, Alice."
So, Felipe swept the office, and Rosalito petted Alice, and then I gave Felipe the money and Felipe said, "Thank you, Meester," and they walked next door to the Redwood Drive-In.
They both had done a very good job. My office floor was clean, and Alice the cat was purring and happy.
STORY (2) FOR THE GRANDCHILDREN: THE HEEPIE
Remember Felipe and Rosalito? They came back to tell me a story about what happened at their house Monday night.
Like last time, Felipe's sister, Rosalito, came with Felipe to the office. I could barely hear their knock on the door. When I opened the door Rosalito was already petting Alice the Cat.
"Meester, Meester," Felipe said. "Meester, this is what happened. My papa told me to tell you because you are Senor Newspaper."
Felipe was so excited he could barely talk ."When my madre opened the door to our house this morning there was a heepie asleep on our porch, a big, wild-looking heepie like a bear. My madre thought he was dead because she couldn't wake him up for a long time!"
"That heepie," I explained, "was a 'bush hippie.' They come down out of the hills once a year to get food."
Just then Rosalito asked, "Can me and Alice the Cat catch a fish in your tank? Alice looks hungry."
"No, Rosalito," I said, "my grandchildren would be very sad if Alice the Cat ate the fish. They brought the fish all the way from San Anselmo. It's a special San Anselmo fish, the kind that drinks decaf lattes."
"Ok, meester," Rosalito agreed, "I won't let Alice the Cat eat the fish. I promise."
I asked Felipe what happened when the heepie finally woke up?
"He got very mad. He was a bad heepie. He yelled at my madre, 'Who are you, Mexican lady? Why are you in Boonville? You are supposed to be in Mexico.' My poor madre was afraid. She told the heepie to go away or she would call the police, but the heepie said, 'I am the police. How do you like that, Mexican lady?' My papa got a big stick and told the heepie he was going to hit him on the head and cut all his hair off if he didn't go right now! And you know what, meester? The heepie said to my papa, 'I will go away if you give me two tacos.' And he sat down on our porch. My papa told Rosalito to make him two tacos.'"
"I made the tacos for the heepie," Rosalito said. "I know how to make burritos, too. I put some very hot-hot sauce in the heepie's taco! But the heepie ate both of them very fast like he was starving, and then he said, 'Goodby, Mexicans. Thank you for letting me sleep on your porch, and thank you for feeding me.' And he walked away. My madre said he looked like a bundle of rags."
Felipe said, "My poppa wants you to put this story about the heepie in the paper. Will you do it?"
Yes, I said, I will do it, and I will give you a dollar for it, too, and I will give Rosalito a dollar for being nice to Alice The Cat.
FOR MY BIRDER FRIENDS, here is a full body shot of the beautiful hawk so you can identify it exactly. I have decide to call it Harriet.
— Larry Wagner
INPUT NEEDED: New AV Village Zoom Gatherings and Activities Survey (Due by 8/18)
We have been busy trying to create possible activities to keep us connected during these uncertain and potentially isolating times. As winter approaches there is no time like the present to reach out and engage our community! In lieu of face to face gatherings we have found that Zoom is a pretty good tool to safely connect in real time and see each other while engaging in conversation. For those new to Zoom we do offer tech support — let us know how we can help.
We have put together a survey (link below) of possible Zoom gathering and activity topics, possible times and opportunities to pitch in. Please take the time to fill it out — it should take about 3 minutes to complete. We need all hands on deck to make these activities a reality — so please consider signing up to facilitate or co-facilitate one or more of them — even if it is just entertaining us with photos and stories of your last travel adventure! Please fill out the survey by Tuesday Aug 18th; thank you for your continued support and enthusiasm!
Anderson Valley Village Coordinator
BIG RIVER MILL DAM
REAL GOODS CLOSES: R.I.P REAL GOODS & THE SOLAR LIVING INSTITUTE
When we closed down the Solar Living Institute on Saturday and I posted a picture, I had no idea it would get 170 likes and 80 great comments. So many of you didn't know that Real Goods had closed after 41 years. I'm feeling remiss for not communicating better about that. So many of my Facebook friends were part of the Real Goods and SLI family. I want to acknowledge all those efforts over the years rather than taking the credit myself, as I was only a small part in the Real Goods phenomenon in the off-the-grid and solar movements in Mendocino County.
I first want to first acknowledge Nantzy Hensley, my wife, who was my primary inspiration throughout this adventure. Nantzy was the creative inspiration behind much of the Solar Living Center, was the Director of Retail Sales for all of our retail stores, and was the merchant who found most of the amazing products that were so fun in our stores over the years. She was also my 'ghost writer' and mentor in my written communications to the world. She was the hardest worker of any of the over 1,000 employees I've worked with over the years and worked tirelessly burning the midnight oil many nights in setting up expos and giant 60' geodesic domes in many different venues around the country. There is no way that Real Goods could have existed or inspired so many without over 30 years of Nantzy's firm hand and brilliant mind behind the scenes. I feel embarrassed and unworthy to be given so much credit for the Real Goods creation when she and so many others contributed so much.
And I want to thank Landa Roon, who put in a valiant effort to bring the Solar Living Institute back over the past year and a half. Landa has worked tirelessly to assist in a smooth, honorable, and compassionate closing of the Institute as we have donated all the assets to our two local nonprofits: SPACE and Hearthstone Village. Brad Elliott worked right alongside Landa for the last year at SLI diligently.
There are way too many people to thank for their work and inspiration over the years and at the risk of offending many, let me point out a few that come to mind: Jeff Oldham was a brilliant and tireless solar technician who helped hundreds of customers go solar over his 17 year stint at Real Goods. Eileen Enzler Husted and Debbie Robertson were with us from the beginning in the good old days working for over 4 decades between them, Steve Harmon was a saint and savior working for over 15 years for Real Goods, Karen Kallen ran the SLI for 7 years through a tough time, Doron Amiran put on over 10 SolFests, one of the best festivals ever created and cherished by many. Stephen Morris did some extraordinary marketing in the early days and created the first ever 'off-the-grid day' in 1991 and went on to create the 'National tour of Solar Homes.' Doug Pratt was the prime author of numerous Solar Living Sourcebooks. Chris and Stephanie Tebbutt designed and built the landscape at the Solar Living Center along with David Arkin and Sim Van der Ryn, the architects. Alex Aragon put in many volunteer hours doing the electric work at the SLC. Jane Elias and Jeanne Kennedy did yeoman's work in managing the Hopland Store alongside Nantzy Hensley. Susan Yoder was a gem at retail merchandising. Doug Livingston was a passionate teacher and worker in our retail store inspiring thousands in solar. Of course I need to thank Bill Giebler for all the Gaiam years and Kent Halliburton and Joel Kauffman for the Real Goods Solar yeaars. And of course our 500+ young and enthusiastic interns over the years who learned how to live in sustainable community at the SLC while bringing smiles to all of our faces.
I could go on, but I'll stop there, knowing I've forgotten some gems and some key players, but please forgive me. Suffice it to say that the magic of Real Goods and the SLI will live on primarily on account of the efforts of over 1,000 dedicated believers who brought the mission forward and because of our millions of customers who cheered us on over the years. I was only the facilitator.
Long live the spirit and the vision of Real Goods and the Solar Living Institute!!
WENT TO NAPA ON SUNDAY. Two places of note to eat safely outside. First is part of Long Valley Ranch which has had a vineyard history in Anderson Valley going back to the late 1800's. They have a tasting room near Philo. In Napa they have The Farmstead which has outdoor dining on a huge old farm/vineyard property. At least two acres of gardens and old buildings like the one shown as well as old farm trucks and tractors spread under the oak trees. Pick-nick benches and wooden chairs all over. Table service.
The other place, where we had an excellent outdoor lunch under their red canvas covers was Mustard's. Very large area in the gardens to have safe dining. Food was excellent.
— Bill Kimberlin
ANGRY RESIDENTS fighting back against tourists 'trashing' the Tahoe region
After seeing streams of tourists "trash" the region, while locals try to contain the coronavirus spread and struggle with school closures, the Meyers, Calif., resident took to Facebook and delivered a screed earlier this week that quickly turned into a rallying call.
"TAHOE FOLKS .... So seeing as how the numbers of out of town folks seem to keep rising every weekend and our Lovely City won’t do any thing about it, I feel it’s time to take matters into our own hands," a resident wrote on August 9.
CATCH OF THE DAY, August 12, 2020
TADIOUS BROWN, Ukiah. DUI, probation revocation.
TIMOTHY CHAPMAN, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
MURILLO GARCIAS, Ukiah. DUI, no license.
PETE KAVANAUGH, Hopland. Probation violation.
CURTIS MILLER, Ukiah. Possession of obscene matter of minor: attempt…
CORINA O’KEEFE, Redwood Valley. Domestic abuse.
GABRIEL ROJAS, Ukiah. Controlled substance, petty theft, near school grounds without lawful business/interfering with peaceful conduct.
OSCAR SANCHEZ, Ukiah. Disobeying court order, contempt of court, probation revocation.
JEREMY SKINNER, Ukiah. Controlled substance, disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.
SHAWN SPILLER, Fort Bragg. Stolen property, controlled substance, paraphernalia, probation revocation
MARK WOLK, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-loitering, controlled substance, probation revocation.
BOTH PARTIES RUN AWAY ON RECESS, NO REAL HELP FOR “NON-ESSENTIAL” AMERICANS
by Jim Shields
Big surprise, Republicans and Democrats couldn’t cut a deal on a second coronavirus relief bill before Congress went back on recess. What do you think of that? Those irresponsible and unaccountable windbags. President Trump signed a number of executive orders that are supposed to bring temporary relief to people, but when you check the details, those devilish details, they appear to fall way short of what working people really need.
For unemployment benefits, Trump signed an order that provides an additional $400 a week in enhanced unemployment benefits. This was a major point of contention and one of the reasons why talks between the two parties collapsed. Democrats wanted to keep the $600-a-week benefit from the original stimulus package, while Republicans wanted to lower it to $200 a week in this proposed relief act. Apparently, states will have to pick up the tab for 25% ($100) of the as much as $400 additional benefit each person may be able to receive weekly in additional aid.
That just creates more and bigger problems. States are already cash-strapped because of this pandemic. Many state governments have asked the federal government for financial help and it might be difficult for them to afford this. In fact, aid to local and state governments was another controversial topic at the negotiation table for the Republicans and Democrats. If a state says it doesn’t have the funds, the unemployed person in that state receives zero dollars in extra federal benefits (they would still receive the normal state unemployment insurance). Right now, Congress hasn’t even authorized the extension of federal unemployment assistance, so don’t expect anything to happen soon.
On renter evictions, Trump’s order requires the secretary of Health and Human Services and the director of the CDC to consider whether any measures temporarily halting residential evictions of tenants who fail to pay rent is necessary to “prevent the further spread of COVID-19.”
This order doesn’t ban evictions and it doesn’t promise more aid. The last relief bill put a moratorium on evictions, but it expired in July. The new order doesn’t put aside money to help homeowners or renters. What the hell does it do then?
For payroll taxes, Trump’s order halts the collection of payroll taxes from Sept. 1 through Dec. 31 for workers who earn less than $4,000 every two weeks. That’s people earning under about $104,000 a year. It also defers the due date for the portion of those taxes paid by employees — 6.2% for Social Security and 1.45% for Medicare — through Dec. 31.
It might look like a temporary tax cut because folks will end up with a larger paycheck while taxes aren’t deducted. But it’s not a cut, it’s a tax deferral, meaning the taxes will just be collected down the line. Many people are concerned about Social Security, but Trump says the program would be funded through the general fund. OK, got that?
Seen enough of this no-stimulus, stimulus relief bill? Our elected representatives instead of staying at work until they get a deal hammered out, cut a trail home because they need another recess from all the work they’re not doing?
Here we are in the deepest economic collapse since the Great Depression of the 1930s and this is the best they can do. And it’s both parties who are at fault. Think they’re really feeling your pain?
One thing’s for sure, they’re not feeling a bit of pain at all. What pandemic? Who are all these employees who can’t work because Public Health Orders decree they have to stay at home because they’re “non-essential”?
Not really our problem, say our elected representatives.
Quite a country isn’t it?
Well, it used to be we’d get a few things right.
Now anything we get is wrong.
Whose fault is that, anyway?
If you find out, let me know. I’m just curious.
(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, and is also the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live: http://www.kpfn.org)
A READER WRITES
I was in discussion with an old friend (who keeps up on these things). I asked her how long until KH moves into the big office, given Joe’s mental condition. Here’s her response: “Just understand that he’s not suffering from any form of dementia. He has had a lifelong stutter. The way he keeps it under control, is a technique he was taught, which I know is a common tool for controlling stutters. When he stops speaking, pauses and looks off somewhere else, he is rerouting the stutter instinct and controlling his speech pattern to come out clearly. It takes tremendous concentration to pull that off consistently, which he does. Couldn’t do that with diminished mental capacity. It sucks, but he chose a life of public service that requires him to speak in public regularly, knowing he had a stutter he had to control all the time. Imagine choosing that anyway! This doesn’t make him any more likeable (to me) and I understand his history and policy choices are not gonna free the masses. Same old. Not gonna be enough to right the sinking ship.”
BIG RIVER DAM SLUICE GATE
THE ATTACK ON SCIENCE---Part of the Deadly Class War on Workers’ Health and Environment
by Dr. Nayvin Gordon, 8/12/20
The application of scientific knowledge has been embraced by industry as a means of enriching owners for over two hundred years. Science is knowledge of the natural and social world gained through observation and experimentation based on evidence.
The Industrial Revolution of the 18th century had a profound impact on workers’ diseases. Rapid technological progress and industrial growth led to crowded, unsanitary working and living conditions, with a rise in the number of accidents, and exposure to toxic contamination at work and the environment. Science became increasingly important to owners of industry in the 20th century, and proceeded to rapidly expand into the entire corporate world. Science has allowed for corporate capitalism to make profits from pens to bombs and from computers to organ transplants. There are museums and organizations dedicated to science and technology. Industry’s profit motive today provides seventy percent of science research funding.
On the other hand when it comes to the science of the common good, science is attacked. Science is denied, dismissed, and disregarded when it points to the health of the work site and environment. The war on the science that benefits workers has a long history. The Roman scholar Pliny in the 1st century CE, described mercury poisoning as a disease of slaves because mines contaminated by mercury vapor were considered too unhealthy for Roman citizens and thus were worked only by slaves.
Business Owners are driven by the drive to maximize profits. They are promoters of “free markets”, the private sector, and limited government. In most countries the responsibility for health and safety at work is placed on the employer. “The workers desire for comfort, income, safety and leisure is continually counterbalanced by the employers’ need for profit.” As stated in Occupational and Environmental Health by Levy and Wegman, 1988. This is an “iron rule of capitalism”. Lower profits occur when there are government regulations requiring, safe working conditions, clean environments, and safe disposal of toxic chemicals. Corporations generally refuse to test chemicals for safety and prefer to allow toxins to escape into the workplace, air, water, letting “society” worry about the clean up and cost. There is a well documented history of Industrialists continuously resisting attempts to protect the work site, the environment and the climate.
For over one hundred and fifty years workers have placed a high priority on safe working conditions and their environment. There is a rich history of this struggle. From 1880 workers organizations such as the Knights of Labor pushed for safety laws in all the major industries. For decades workers struggled against accidents, deaths, disease, dust, toxins, fires, mine collapse and explosions. Workers were, jailed, beaten, shot or burned to death in work site fires or crushed in mines, and still the employers denied demands for improved working and living conditions. There was the Triangle Fire of 1911, which killed 145 women garment workers in a sweat shop, then the Ludlow Massacre of 1914 where the National Guard killed 21 coal miners and their children. (“Labor’s Untold Story” ,Boyer and Morais, 1955). The workers and their families were met by lockouts, police, violence and murder directed by the employers. It took decades of massive strikes in textile, mining, steel and other industries including the Great General Motors Sit Down Strike in Flint, Michigan to win any significant health and safety protection. Even with passage of The Public Contracts Act in 1936 which required health and safety standards, industrial accidents continued to increase. A coal mine exploded in 1968 killing 78 miners. Strikes and job actions resulted in the 1969 Coal Mine Health and Safety Act and in 1971 the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). Despite the OSHA laws, in 1973 Shell Oil workers went on a five month strike for health and safety issues. The Toxic Substances Control Act was finally passed in 1976. All of these laws have many partial regulation, loopholes and weaknesses, allowing for continued danger to workers and the general population. A coal mine catastrophe in 2010 killed 29 miners in West Virginia and toxic dumping into the environment by industry has shown NO significant reduction over the last forty years.
Beginning in the 1970’s Industry mobilized and financed a propaganda machine on the basis of misleading evidence about the science of workers’ health. It was called The Business Round Table Corporate Action Committees, its avowed objective was to reduce government regulation, and stop the government from fixing the problem caused by the profit system. Continuing into the 1980’s, denial and uncertainty was promoted by industrialists, bankers and many politicians to deny and downplay science. Today “Nearly all leading corporations are part of trade groups that lobby for pro-business positions, such as lower taxes… limited government, free markets…more than a dozen groups promote half-truths and misrepresentations, sometimes outright lies. The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) has been directly involved in personal attacks on scientists” (Are Tech Firms Anti science, Scientific American, July 2020) As a direct result of the pressure from industry, the government, which is heavily influenced by the political power of, corporations, bankers and the rich, has deregulated federal safety and health laws. https://scholar.princeton.edu/sites/default/files/mgilens/files/gilens_and_page_2014_-testing_theories_of_american_politics.doc.pdf The government has weakened OSHA, attacked OSHA whistle blowers, cut budgets, reduced the number of inspectors to weaken enforcement and substituted corporate “voluntary” compliance. Denying, downplaying and manipulating science that helps the 99% extends across the corporate world--from Exxon to Amazon, from Google to genetics, from plastics, pesticides and opioids, to DuPont Chemical and nuclear power. They deny science and reason to protect profits and because it points to the urgent need for radical social, economic, political and ecological transformation. Below are a few important examples of the class war on the people’s health.
The DENIAL that Cigarettes Cause Lung Disease. The history of tobacco lawsuits in the US dates back nearly 60 years. Tobacco companies hid the truth from the public with their denial and misuse of scientific evidence and the recruitment of scientists by the tobacco industry. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3490543/
The DENAIL that Lead is a Poison Lead , known as a poison for two thousand years, was banned from paint by the League of Nations in 1922. US industries continued to add lead to paint and gasoline and mounted campaigns to deny and distort science, while poisoning millions of adults and their children.
The DENIAL that Asbestos Causes Disease By 1918 it was known that asbestos causes lung cancer and other deadly diseases. For fifty years the asbestos industry fought any sort of work place regulation and denied that asbestos causes cancer and other diseases. Millions have been sickened or died. https://www.thesunmagazine.org/issues/291/an-epidemic-of-deception
The DENIAL of the Science of Global Warming 1979-1983 major fossil fuel companies, including Exxon, Mobil, Amoco, Phillips, Texaco, Shell, Sunoco, and Standard Oil of California and Gulf Oil (two companies that became Chevron) meet regularly as part of a task force to discuss the science and implications of climate change. The meetings are organized with the help of the American Petroleum Institute. A minutes document from one of the meetings suggests that oil companies knew that climate change was occurring, and that they would bear some responsibility for managing it. (Source: InsideClimate News)
1989 Exxon and other fossil fuel companies create the Global Climate Coalition (GCC). The GCC is created to oppose mandatory reductions in carbon emissions by obscuring the scientific understanding of fossil fuels’ impact on the climate. The GCC created a scientific “backgrounder” for lawmakers and journalists that claimed “The role of greenhouse gases in climate change is not well understood.”
By 1992 Exxon has become a member of American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which actively undermines action on climate change at the federal and state levels. (Source: Union of Concerned Scientists)
In 2005, NASA scientists were censored by the White House to prevent all NASA scientists from discussing Climate change.
Under President Trump’s leadership, Federal agencies have taken more than 7 deregulatory actions for every significant regulatory action.
President Trump’s deregulation efforts have already reduced regulatory costs by $50 billion and are on track to reduce regulatory costs by at least that much in fiscal year 2020 alone. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/president-donald-j-trumps-historic-deregulatory-actions-creating-greater-opportunity-prosperity-americans/
All told, the Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks could significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions and lead to thousands of extra deaths from poor air quality each year, according to energy and legal analysts. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/climate/trump-environment-rollbacks.html
COVID PANDEMIC DENIALS Cause Health and Economic Catastrophe The Trump administration has been repeatedly denying Public Health science and lying about the Covid-19 Pandemic. They have also suppressed the April 2020 CDC’s Covid-19 Pandemic report, and have deliberately underfunded testing, and prevented accurate reporting of corona virus cases and deaths. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jul/29/trump-coronavirus-science-denial-timeline-what-has-he-said "While many governments suppress the virus, the U.S. suppresses information about the virus." https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/07/15/warnings-possible-cover-progress-trump-orders-hospitals-stop-sending-coronavirus
The Trump administration’s pattern of sidelining science including censoring scientific experts, disbanding scientific advisory committees, and suppressing scientific research has created a medical and economic catastrophe that has cost almost 200,000 US lives to date, disproportionally affecting black and brown populations. https://blog.ucsusa.org/anita-desikan/trump-administration-has-hindered-ability-to-respond-to-coronavirus
In July 2020 the white House Press Secretary said “We will not let science stand in the way of opening schools..” https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/live/2020/jul/16/coronavirus-us-covid-donald-trump-anthony-fauci-joe-biden-live-updates Vice President Mike Pence also said “we don’t want the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to be a reason schools don’t open.”
The free-market fundamentalists have refused to accept a significant role for government in constraining the corona virus epidemic. By refusing to support a national strategy of mass testing, tracking and isolation, which is the only known method to contain and eradicate the pandemic, they have allowed a massive wave of disease and death to sweep across the nation.
Trillions of dollars worth of bailouts were given to Wall Street while pennies were given for Coveid-19 testing. Billions of dollars have been given to pharmaceutical companies to profit from a vaccine, while The Public Health Service, the one major organization that could have protected the people from infectious diseases, was denied hundreds of billions of dollars in funding over the last few decades. The business community has for decades pushed to privatize the hospital and health care systems, resulting in profits and death not health and life. History clearly shows that the scientific knowledge regarding the dangers and diseases caused by production for profit is viciously attacked, denied and discredited by those responsible--the industrialists, corporations and their investors. Pro business groups promote profits above all else, workers lives and the planet itself are expendable objects. This is an “iron law of capitalism”. Our lives and those of our children depend on abolishing this destructive political economy. The Covid-19 catastrophe has made this a matter of life and death.
As authoritarianism gains power in the US, let us take note of a passage that could have been written today in, “Fascism and Social Democracy” by Palme Dutt , 1934. “ The revolt against science, which bourgeois society encourages today in the ideological sphere, at the same times that it uses science in practice, is not only the expression of a dying and doomed class; it is a n essential part of the campaign of reaction. This is the basis which helps to prepare the ground for all the quackeries and charlatanisms of chauvinism, racial theories, anti-Semitism, Aryan grandmothers, mystic swastikas, divine missions, strong-man saviors and all the rest of the nonsense through which alone capitalism today can try to maintain its hold a little longer…..There is a method to the madness. For capitalism can no longer present any rational defense, any progressive role, any ideal whatever to reach the masses of the population.”
A movement of millions, of and for the working class, dedicated to the needs of the 99%, can build a better, healthy world. We must break the deadly iron chains that bind us to capitalism, the chains of profit and death. To protect our health, life and climate, the times demand a mass mobilization to fight for a militant egalitarian society--- economic, social and political equality for all.
(Dr. Gordon writes about health and politics and may be reached at email@example.com)
BIG RIVER LOGJAM
A READER WRITES: On my Mother’s side, my family name is Wong, amongst the most common Chinese names in the world, and they are all descendants of Ghenghis Khan... a man who raped and pillaged entire continents. Do you think I or any of the Wongs alive today give a second thought to what Mongols warriors long dead and gone did? You think any of Martin Luther King's greatgrandchildren get a free pass because he's in their family tree? Give it a rest. Focus what's in front of us now. This "Sins of the Father" malarky doesn't serve anyone or anything. Its what you and I do today, to promote peace, justice, equality, and humanity that means anything more than a tinker's damn.
BIG RIVER FLOOD DEBRIS, EARLY 1900s
BLACK VOTERS MATTER
Since 2014, more than 16 million voters have been purged from the voting rolls. Most of these voters are black or Latinx and live in southern or swing states like Texas, Florida, and Georgia. In 2016, black voters were 900% more likely to have their ballot go uncounted, and the results were catastrophic: In Michigan, for example, Trump won by a razor margin of 10,704 votes.
But 75,355 ballots weren’t counted mostly in Detroit, which is 90% non-white.
There's a solution to voter suppression, and you're invited to be a part of it: Reclaim Our Vote is mobilizing volunteers who are calling and sending postcards to purged voters to let them know how to re-register in time for the November election. We aim to reach millions of voters by November 3 and are already well on our way with a volunteer army of 12,000 and growing.
If you can spare an hour (or a hundred) between now and Election Day, you can write postcards or call or text voters from the comfort of your living room. All the supplies you'll need can be ordered online. Couch potatoes, our time has come! Please sign up here I'll be in touch with you.
North Coast Organizer for Reclaim Our Vote
November is coming.
Make sure you're registered to vote here <http://bit.ly/CWCW_>.
MICHAEL MOORE SEZ:
Kamala Harris! Biden could’ve swung right (Susan Rice), but he swung left. Kamala is one of the most progressive Senators in the US Senate and will, as Shaun King says, be the most progressive Vice President in the history of the United States. She is and remains one of the first co-sponsors of Bernie’s Medicare for All bill. In fact, go down the list — she checks nearly every box on Bernie’s platform: Living Wage, Choice, LGBTQ+ equality, peace, child care, etc.
It says a lot about Biden that after she rightly confronted him about race in that first debate that he held no grudge, no animosity. In fact, he might say it gave him pause and a chance to consider how his friendship with segregationist Senators might have been hurtful to people of color and that, even at this age, he can change, he can do better. As progressives, isn’t that at the core of what we stand for? Isn’t that the change we are fighting for? Our belief that America can do better and that our fellow Americans will join us in this movement for a more just and equitable society? Kamala Harris is one more step in that direction.
I’ve met her a few times and I can tell you (and you know I won’t BS you on this because I pretty much despise all politicians), she’s sincere, she has heart, she’s on our side. No, she’s not you or me. But we’re not on the ballot. WE are the movement, which in the long run is what is going to get us what we need. We keep building that movement, we will succeed. And one of our missions in 2020 is to crush Trump, reclaim the Senate and bring down the system of greed, racism, misogyny and white male privilege that gave us Trump — because that, my friends, is what has thrown us into the mad, dark hole we’re in. Our movement is on fire now, tens and tens of millions of us in the streets, at the polling sites, at home, organizing online, young people at the forefront, Black America once again saving us and forcing us to be what we say we are but never were. This is our moment.
And it is now the daughter of two immigrants, born in the last ten weeks of the Baby Boom (but seemingly with the soul of a millennial), possessing skill and smarts, a woman of color who could and did obliterate Bill Barr at a Senate hearing — she and we have a chance in 83 days to do something the entire world is desperately waiting for us to do. Good on you Joe Biden, congrats Kamala, onward!
"ULTIMATELY, while defeating Trump remains a priority, it’s up to those of us on the left to generate the winds we want to prevail by building power outside of presidential politics. Taking to the streets for racial justice, strengthening the labor movement, demanding universal healthcare, establishing tenants’ unions, electing more candidates up and down the ballot who are committed to taking on corporate power to benefit the working class—this is how we can reorient politicians’ incentives and priorities. The weather vanes will follow."
That is message that I have read or heard in more or less the same language since Michael Moore told us in 1992 that the election of Bill Clinton over George HW Bush was the most important in our lifetime yet I have never seen ANY example of that happening under a Democrat president other than the antiwar protests during Lyndon Johnson's presidency when self-preservation (stopping the draft) took priority over genuflecting or sleepwalking through a Democrat's presidency. As I accurately predicted a Biden-Harris ticket back in January 2019, I would expect that should Biden and Harris triumph over the evil monster in the White House (an without question Trump epitomizes evil), there would be such a period of celebration that people would kick back and do as little to change the reality as they did during eight years of Obama.
OLD BIG RIVER
CALIFORNIA’S POST-PRISON CHAOS: THOUSANDS RELEASED EARLY, INCLUDING MANY WITH CORONAVIRUS
by Robert Lewis
California’s patchwork reentry system is scrambling to find housing and services for former inmates. “What this pandemic has done is highlight the inadequacies in the system,” said one program director.
Christopher Scull has vivid memories of early summer at San Quentin State Prison. During the worst of the prison’s coronavirus outbreak, which has infected more than 2,200 inmates, it seemed like the “man down” siren blared every half hour, signaling a medical emergency. The other inmates dropped to the ground while staff rushed by, carrying out a sick prisoner in a wheelchair or on a gurney.
Desperate to control the outbreak at California’s overcrowded prisons, state officials opened the gates to thousands of prisoners like Scull, including many before their scheduled release date.
Scull, who tested positive for the virus in June but had minor symptoms, was released from San Quentin in mid-July after serving 22 years for carjacking and robbery. He said officials expedited his release by several weeks, sending him to a motel in Gardena, south of Los Angeles,to quarantine and recover.
From the start of the pandemic through the end of this month, California will release more than 11,000 prisoners early — largely nonviolent offenders with less than a year to serve — reducing the prison population to a 30-year low.
Overwhelmed by the volume, California’s patchwork reentry system is scrambling to find transportation, housing, food and other services for released prisoners, many of whom were exposed to the virus.
As of this week, the state had released more than 300 inmates known to be infected.
Chris Scull, speaking at a park near his transitional housing in Hayward, says he always carries a mask with him but worries about wearing it in the community because he fears people will think he’s trying to conceal his identity. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters
Scull, 42, didn’t have time to finalize his parole plan before he was released.
“It was very chaotic,” Scull said. “All my support team, my employment, everything is in the Bay Area.” But he was taken to the motel in Los Angeles County with little oversight or guidance on what to do. “When I got released, I took it on myself to track down the parole agent,” he said.
While he quarantined in the hotel room, Scull did step out once: “I went to In and Out. Wow, it was great,” he said.
Nonprofits, county probation officials and state officials weren’t prepared to deal with the influx of people released into motels, group homes and the community.
“I had friends out there protesting saying, ‘Let them all out.’ I said, ‘You don’t understand. There’s no system outside that can handle this,’” said Judith Tata, executive director of the California Reentry Program, which provides parole and pre-release services to inmates at San Quentin. “We have people who are transient when they’re arrested. They’re mentally ill, have substance abuse issues and we’re releasing them early to no social services.”
Tata said her program got letters from people in prison asking for help connecting with services on the outside, but by the time they could respond, the men were already out.
The prison outbreak began in late May, when the corrections department transferred sick inmates from the California Institution for Men in Chino to San Quentin and other facilities.
Nearly 9,500 inmates were released from state prisons from July 1 through Aug. 6; almost half were early releases, according to the corrections department.
“We just did not have this infrastructure in place,” said Sam Lewis, executive director of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit. “This happened so fast and the successes have been because many of the community-based organizations have been doing this with their own resources.”
His organization estimates that it costs $650 to transport a single person to a housing facility, including mileage, a meal, protective equipment, clothing and employee wages. Private donors helped pay for it, but more state funding is now becoming available, he said.
“This has been going on forever,” Tata said. “What this pandemic has done is highlight the inadequacies in the system.”
As of this week, nearly 9,000 California prisoners have tested positive for the virus and more than 50 have died, according to the corrections department. The 2,200 infected at San Quentin is equivalent to more than two-thirds of its current population.
Prisons are a uniquely dangerous place for spread of the disease.
U.S. prisoners tested positive at more than five times the rate of the general public, according to a July study co-authored by the UCLA Law COVID-19 Behind Bars Data Project.
“You had people who were sitting ducks,” said Sharon Dolovich, a law professor who runs the data project. “You have lots of vulnerable people who need to get out,” Dolovich said. “Then you have an underfunded and overworked reentry side.”
But ultimately, she said, the state had to stop the outbreak even if it meant difficult days for reentry providers.
“When the house is on fire you get people out,” Dolovich said, repeating a line she heard from a colleague. “You don’t keep someone in a burning house to wait for them to have a place to land.”
Former inmates from a facility with an outbreak are supposed to quarantine for two weeks, often in a hotel room, before going to transitional housing or into the community.
“For public health reasons, we cannot place anyone who is COVID-19 positive or is identified as being exposed into a reentry program in the community,” Dana Simas, a department spokeswoman, said in an emailed response to questions.
The department relies on nonprofits and community organizations to provide reentry programs and is expanding its contracts with them, Simas said. There’s also state funding for the extra housing needs.
There has been some concern about the possibility that former inmates could spread the virus through communities. But corrections department officials said they can’t force former prisoners to stay in quarantine. “CDCR is not authorized to mandate a quarantine as a special condition of parole because it does not relate to criminal conduct or future criminality,” Simas said.
CalMatters reached out to public health departments in California’s 10 most populous counties about the tracking of former inmates. Half responded and said they had no indication of community spread connected to the releases.
The state since mid-July has been testing all inmates “no more than seven days before their release,” Simas said. “In addition to lab testing, we are also conducting point-of-care rapid response COVID-19 testing before an individual’s release.”
CalMatters spoke to two former prisoners released just before those protocols went into effect. Both said they were not tested within a week before their release.
Chanthon Bun, 41, said he refused to be tested before getting out of San Quentin because he was worried it could delay his release. The testing site was so packed that if he didn’t have the virus he was worried he’d catch it while there.
Bun got out in July on his regular parole date. At the time, he said he had symptoms of the virus for several days, including a fever and chills.
“Everyone in my building in San Quentin had COVID,” Bun said.
Bun, a Cambodian refugee who was worried about getting picked up by federal immigration authorities after his release, said he turned down the offer of a hotel room to quarantine and instead hopped a bus to San Francisco. There he said he met up with advocates and his attorney who took him to get a coronavirus test — he was positive — and then to a Bay Area church where he has been holed up recuperating.
“I really thought I was going to die,” he said. After weeks of 105-degree fevers and trouble breathing, he has finally tested negative.
Another prisoner, James Wortham, who spent 35 years behind bars, said if it wasn’t for the nonprofit California Reentry Institute, he would have been lost after getting out. The institute helped him get a social security card and birth certificate and provided emotional support during the transition.
Wortham, 54, worked in the prison hospital but was only tested for the coronavirus twice, and the last negative test was more than two weeks before he got out in early July. “When I left, they did not test me at all,” he said.
Collette Carroll, executive director and president of the California Reentry Institute, said a parole officer was going to send one man to a reentry house. When she told him that he was COVID-positive, he was sent to quarantine at a hotel instead.
“There’s just so much confusion,” she said.
Local probation departments also are supervising many of the people getting out of prisons. The Los Angeles County Probation Department supervised about 700 new people last month as a result of the prison releases. In Contra Costa County, the Probation Department received 38 expedited releases to supervise since July. The officers have at times had to pick up people from the prisons, possibly exposing the officers to the virus.
In late July, Scull moved to transitional housing in the Bay Area so he could be closer to his substance abuse sponsors, life coaches and employment network.
But his freedom was recently curtailed again, when the house went into quarantine for its own outbreak of the virus. Scull brought a unique perspective to the new shelter-in-place life of a pandemic.
“I’m used to being confined,” he said. “It’s not as big a deal to me.”