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DRY, MOSTLY SUNNY, AND SEASONABLY COOL WEATHER will continue today. A weak front will bring some light rain on Monday, but mainly limited to Del Norte and Humboldt Counties. An extended period of dry and mild weather will begin on Tuesday and last through the end of the week. (NWS)
85 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County since Thursday, the last County report, averaging about 28 cases per day through Saturday, bringing the total to 1570. Another death, now 23; three in ICU.
SUPERVISOR JOHN McCOWEN: “74 cases in the last 2 days - transmission results from close contact with infected persons (who often do not have symptoms) - we will continue to see elevated case rates as long as people continue to have gatherings.”
UKIAH SHELTER PET OF THE WEEK
Timber is a 1 year old male who currently weighs 67 pounds. Like most Huskies we meet, Timber is a talker! He loves to explore his surroundings and will make a fantastic hiking or jogging partner. Since Huskies are usually not couch potatoes, an active guardian is a must for this handsome dog.
There's more about Timber on his webpage at mendoanimalshelter.com While you’re there, you can read about our services, programs, events, and updates regarding covid-19 and the shelters in Ukiah and Fort Bragg. Visit us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/mendoanimalshelter/
For information about adoptions please call 707-467-6453.
AT THE BOONVILLE HOTEL: Perry's Sunday Night take out dinner: PORK BELLY and SHIITAKE FRIED RICE cabbage, garden carrots, golden sesame, scallions and a lime curd tart by Joansey.
$36 To-go per person, pick up from 5:30 to 6:00pm.
Order online here: boonville-hotel-restaurant.square.site
Take good care everybody!!
C.T. ROWE ON BRAD WILEYS PEACHLAND PIECE:
I agree with Pam Partee, Brad, a wonderful article.
After watching the changes on Peachland now for over 40 years, I’m still amazed and enthralled every day with the beauty and ever evolving environment. The kites are still flying over my walnut orchard and apple dryer, a pleasure to watch them diving in the evening light. Maybe they just moved one ridge over!
I’m glad to have a very well preserved apple dryer, maybe one of the few left in the valley? I wonder how many remain…
I too wish I knew more of the Peachland history, I think history took a breather for 40ish years when everyone vacated Peachland from 1940 to 1969 when my family became the only residents of Peachland road. I may be the first child to be born on Peachland in 50 years! Mostly a dubious distinction, I think, at this point.
Re: Upper Peachland. A historical archive of Sanders family photographs – including some from Peachland – was recently donated to the Anderson Valley Historical Society.
THE BASSLER PAPERS
Aaron Bassler Manuscript Retrieved
Thank you to everyone who wrote with suggestions. We were contacted by Tom Allman who had a few suggestions too. We chose to follow our instincts and turn the book over to the first person we thought of when we initially found the cache.
We learned family and friends of Aaron knew of the existence of this manuscript, and people had been looking for it for nine years. Today we went back out to the site with a small crew (socially distanced, don't worry) and retrieved the huge heavy thing. The retrieval was filmed and photographed, and footage may be used in the movie about Bassler now due to come out in 2022 (delayed by Covid).
Bassler's family will be able to view the document, and I believe plans are underway to have it digitized. It is currently in treasuring hands, and if it doesn't stay in private collection, Tom Allman suggested donating it to the Mendocino County Museum in Willits.
I appreciate the compassion and sensitivity folks in this community have shown regarding Aaron Bassler's situation, the homicides, and the events that lead to his own death. It is still a traumatic subject for many, and mental illness is a heavy topic. Deeper appreciation for the efforts this county has made to provide mental health resources outside of jail. Let it not happen to someone else: Aaron never got the help he needed because he wasn't deemed "bad enough" — until he was.
I also appreciate the concerns people had about making sure we received due fame and glory for this extraordinary find. No worries--there's enough reward of FAME and GLORY on our listserv, and we're already notorious for discovering things and finding their homes (dogs, rings, shovels). Not to co-opt Obama's recent tag-line, but, "It's what we do." … er, and not that we're offering our services to help locate any particular hidden treasure you've been trying to find…
Besides, I'm working towards FAME and GLORY in my own right, bludgeoning out my OWN Great American Novel. It has less tactical information on fantasy weapons, and more spicy-yet-awkward love scenes and memoirish personal narrative about my service as a Peace Corps Volunteer. But there's a little spy-level intrigue, so perhaps a genre cross-over match in a couple of places. I'm 10% done, I'd say, now that I'm cranking out Chapter 72 of the first draft, soon to finish — maybe five chapters away? Then comes revising, revising, and a touch of editing. Then finding an agent and putting it out on submission. Then approximately ten years of receiving rejection letters, more editing, and perhaps a complete rewrite. When I finally get the book deal, I'll make DOZENS of dollars, maybe even HUNDREDS! But if none of that process unfolds, I'll consider self-publishing methods other than burying it in a trash can hidden in the woods.
Although, apparently, that CAN be a successful method of getting your work out there.
SOUNDS LIKE PROS DID THIS ONE.
On Friday, November 27, 2020 at 7:05 AM Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to an armed robbery at a reported permitted cannabis farm in the 12000 block of Pratt Ranch Road in Hopland.
Upon arrival Deputies contacted an adult male who was working as an unarmed security guard at the cannabis farm owned by a Los Angeles area company, at the time of the armed robbery.
Deputies learned the security guard was seated inside his vehicle on the farm's property on that Friday at approximately 5:45 AM when a newer model black GMC SUV arrived and parked close to his vehicle.
An unknown adult male exited the GMC SUV and contacted the security guard who lowered his driver’s window.
The unknown adult male was dressed in gray sweatpants, a gray sweatshirt and was wearing a mask. The unknown adult male pointed and pressed a handgun against the security guard's head while demanding information on the location of cannabis/marijuana and money.
The security guard was unable to provide any such information which caused the unknown adult male to threaten to "kill" the security guard.
The security guard fearing for his life turned over several keys for locked containers on the property.
At this point three other unknown adult males appeared from the GMC SUV. These individuals were all wearing black clothing and masks.
The four unknown adult males used the keys and also forced entry into several locked containers ultimately finding a large amount of processed cannabis/marijuana.
The four unknown adult males loaded several hundreds pounds of the processed cannabis/marijuana into the GMC SUV and the security guard's 2014 Kia Soul sedan.
The four unknown adult males then fled the cannabis farm in both vehicles at approximately 6:20 AM while the security guard remained on the property.
The security guard believed all four unknown adult males were Hispanic based upon the sound of their voices.
An immediate search of the area did not yield any signs/evidence of vehicles or unknown adult male suspects.
That same Friday at approximately 5:21 PM the Ukiah Police Department located the stolen 2014 Kia Soul sedan unoccupied in a business parking lot in the city of Ukiah.
Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies are continuing investigations into the reported incident.
Anyone with information that could assist Deputies is urged to contact the Sheriff's Office Tipline by calling 707-234-2100 or the WeTip anonymous crime reporting hotline by calling 800-782-7463.
VALLEY WEATHER: “They don’t call it the Deep End fer’ nuthin cuz it is butt cold! Hope you’re havin’ a burrrry happy Thanksgivin’ y’all!”
FRIGID mornings, summer afternoons, no rain to speak of, and none predicted as the morning's news is replete with local, state, national and international disasters, the most ominous of which is the assassination by our Israeli clients of Iran's top nuclear scientist, and we have to wonder what December surprises the orange golfer has in store for US.
MEANWHILE, the Justice Department is hustling to change federal death penalty rules to expedite a slew of scheduled executions in the final days of the Trump administration, including expanding execution methods to include electrocution and firing squads. By amending the "Manner of Federal Executions" rule would give federal prosecutors a wider variety of options for execution in order to avoid delays if the state in which the inmate was sentenced doesn't provide other alternatives.
GOING OUT by firing squad has the most panache, and certainly preferable to the midnight needle and doubly preferable to ol' Sparky, but most humane and sensible is life without. Least expensive, too. Unless executions are public events there's no point in doing them other than simple revenge. Supposed to be a deterrent, right? And if revenge is the motive, and lots of these death row people definitely have revenge coming, the families of the victims should (1) decide the penalty, (2) carry it out themselves in public with all proceeds from admissions going to them. Executions of strangers by strangers allegedly representing our terminally violent society makes no sense.
FRIENDS OF PUBLIC LIBRARIES operate used book stores in lots of Bay Area towns and cities. The nearest one to me these days is in San Anselmo. I stopped in Saturday to browse a weekend half-off sale, although the books, all donated, are already marked way, way down. I hadn't been in the store since the plague broke out in March. Earlier in the day, the same woman who has buzzed me three times now, got me again during my morning hike. (I say hike because it's up and down hills.) This San Anselmo Karen runs past me as she dramatically masks up and pulls her jacket tight around her lower face, which she's already masked. I'd say she's somewhere around 30, which is kinda young to go Full Karen. It's as if I'm walking kryptonite, and I'm beginning to get the feeling she's stalking me. So, this morning when she startled me just as I rounded a corner, I yelled at her, “Hey! I'm the endangered party here!” Which, at my age, I am. In theory. But what are the chances of catching covid at 6:30 am with only two people, me and Karen, out on the street for a couple of miles? Remote to non-existent. She kept on going, probably for fear if she stopped to argue she'd wake up in ICU. At the entrance to the book store I dutifully masked up and walked on in, expecting the usual geezer or two looking through the shelves with the usual geezettes at the counter cash register. (Books anymore are pretty much an over-60 affair.) But no sooner had I arrived when a very young woman, maybe a high school kid, said, “Sir? The hand sanitizer is behind you.” The what? I stood there looking elderly, confused. “We like everyone to use the hand sanitizer before they enter.” But I washed my hands last week, I said. She stared back. Just funnin' ya, kid. No problemo.
WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG with the massive covid vaccination rollout? Let’s be optimistic and assume that the vaccinations — how many are there now, five? — are effective and relatively safe. But how long is a vaccinated person immune? People are already speculating about the relatively high percentage of people who range from hesitant to refusing to take it.
Then you have the stringent requirements of keeping the vaccine refrigerated during wholesale shipping and retail-medical delivery. Nobody is saying what happens if a patient gets a vaccine that wasn’t kept properly frigid. What happens if a recipient of a vaccine then gets covid? Does the vaccination exercise get put on hold? Would a vaccinated person assume they’re immune and then stop taking precautions? What if someone gets the vaccine but it’s then discovered that someone caught covid from them, or may have?
At least one of the vaccines requires two shots with weeks between them. What if someone only gets one shot and somehow doesn’t get the other? Do they need to start over? When?
We’ve talked before about the cost — will cost play into the distribution of the vaccine? What if there are delays in vaccinations and someone who was supposed to get vaccinated doesn’t? Will senior members of the Biden administration and members of Congress take the vaccine to demonstrate the safety of it? What if the vaccine has a negative interaction with another drug someone is taking? Allergies? Is the entire process and the individuals involved indemnified from lawsuits?
If you’re giving out hundreds of thousands if not millions of vaccines what are the odds that mistakes will be made? We already know that hospitals make mistakes with medications a certain worrisome percentage of the time; wouldn’t we expect at least that level of mistakes with covid vaccinations, probably more since it’s uncharted water? What if an untrained person administers the vaccine? How do vaccinated persons know they got an effective dose?
What if the known “relatively mild” side effects are bad for some recipients, and who pays for their treatment if they need it? Who’s keeping track of who gets which vaccine and who hasn’t? If you get one brand of vaccine, are you prohibited from getting another? Will deliveries be problem free? Will there be thefts? (We understand they’ve at least taken some “security” precautions because of the value of the shipments.) Will a black market or fake vaccines or other scams appear?
What about vaccinations in special circumstances, like jail/prison? Hospital patients and people recovering from covid? Nursing homes? Immigrants? Drug addicts? Other demographics? Young children? Pregnant women? School settings and schools possibly requiring vaccination before allowing a student to attend? What if certain ethnicities feel like they’re not getting the same attention as others?
Will the rollout of the vaccine mean that some people will stop taking precautions? What if the organizers of some activities — sports, entertainment, etc. — require proof of vaccination before participation so they can get back to “normal”? Will people need covid vaccination IDs or other forms of proof? Will there be counterfeit records sold?
Murphy may be seen as an optimist once the vaccination process gets underway. Why haven’t we been told more about the steps being taken to address these possible problems?
There's a lotta What Ifs that need to be answered. These are just the ones off the top of my head — and I haven’t even considered Florida.
CATCH OF THE DAY, November 29, 2020
ARTHUR AVEY, Fort Bragg. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, DUI-alcoho&drugs.
DAVID BROWN, Ukiah. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun.
WILLIAM GOFORTH, Willits. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, suspended license, probation revocation.
RAYMOND RHODES, Fort Bragg. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, failure to appear, probation revocation.
SHANE TAYLOR, Arlington, Texas/Ukiah. False personation of another.
AARON WEAR, Willits. DUI, suspended license for refusing drunk test, probation revocation.
Chapter 1. "Democratic Party: your time is up." — Ralph Nader’s after election report. You are fortunate not to have listened. The election is over but the cord from the mic to the electrical outlet started to melt and soon caught fire. Many listeners reported problems with their hearing, headaches and incontinence. They were advised to check with their earologists. Probably the severest criticism of the Democratic Party since Salmon P. Chase in 1860.
Much of the blame goes to Chuck Schumer who rides herd on the US Senate candidates telling them not to go against their donors. Spending millions on useless television advertising. Of course Ralph Nader is still dreaming of Bernie Sanders. It goes without saying that Mr. Trump was traded in for Mr. Not Trump. Nothing more was accomplished. Go back and read my letter about the young Democrat clubs again which mandated registering to vote nationwide. The Australians like their system. Keep the apidistra flying. The reason Republicans oppose the Affordable Care Act is they don't want to pay for Negroes’ healthcare.
Chapter 2: As I have learned how to make a weekly profit betting on horses (four or five bets weekly) I thought I would get a computer and a printer (have to print the daily racing form) so I could play the bang tails on the Internet.
I found that Staples in Ukiah sold the computer I wanted so I sent them the money. Ten days later (it takes 10 days to send a letter from Willits to Ukiah and receive an answer — the AVA has been a week to 10 days late since last March) I received a letter from Staples. They sent my money back! They stated that they didn't do business over the phone or by mail. I asked whether I could send my debit card number. No.
Well, that's the way it is nowadays. People in Ukiah buy their groceries at Safeway when the very same groceries at Wal-Mart are 25% cheaper. I hope I am not sounding like Tommy Wayne Kramer. Stupid things happen in Ukiah. Buying the Best Western Inn for the homeless is on the list. The price of gas drops five cents a gallon in Willits and Upper Lake. Ten days later every gas station in Ukiah drops the price five cents a gallon. Willits is not exempt. 400 people in the Willits area were not counted in the census (the Department of Motor Vehicles says close to 1000). People who were not counted knew all about the census. They deliberately did not cooperate. They don't like the government telling them what to do. Typical Trump supporters. There was no local address or phone number for the census in Willits.
Thom Hartmann is sort of going off the rails lately. Some wild ass pronouncements. Don't be taken in!
PS. When it is time to pick up the gun I will volunteer and I hope to be assigned to Boonville.
HOW DO WE AVOID FUTURE AUTHORITARIANS? Winning Back the Working Class Is Key
by Bernie Sanders
A segment of working-class people in our country still believes Donald Trump defends their interests. We must win them over.
As the count currently stands, nearly 80 million Americans voted for Joe Biden. With this vote against the authoritarian bigotry of Donald Trump, the world can breathe a collective sigh of relief.
But the election results did also reveal something that should be a cause for concern. Trump received 11 million more votes than he did in 2016, increasing his support in many distressed communities – where unemployment and poverty are high, healthcare and childcare are inadequate, and people are hurting the most.
For a president who lies all the time, perhaps Donald Trump’s most outlandish lie is that he and his administration are friends of the working class in our country.
The truth is that Trump put more billionaires into his administration than any president in history; he appointed vehemently anti-labor members to the National Relations Labor Board (NLRB) and he gave huge tax breaks to the very rich and large corporations while proposing massive cuts to education, housing and nutrition programs. Trump has tried to throw up to 32 million people off the healthcare they have and has produced budgets that called for tens of billions in cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and social security.
Yet, a certain segment of the working class in our country still believe Donald Trump is on their side.
Why is that?
At a time when millions of Americans are living in fear and anxiety, have lost their jobs because of unfair trade agreements and are earning no more in real dollars than 47 years ago, he was perceived by his supporters to be a tough guy and a “fighter”. He seems to be fighting almost everyone, every day.
He declared himself an enemy of “the swamp” not only attacking Democrats, but Republicans who were not 100% in lockstep with him and even members of his own administration, whom he declared part of the “deep state”. He attacks the leaders of countries who have been our longstanding allies, as well as governors and mayors and our independent judiciary. He blasts the media as an “enemy of the people” and is ruthless in his non-stop attacks against the immigrant community, outspoken women, the African American community, the gay community, Muslims and protesters.
He uses racism, xenophobia and paranoia to convince a vast swath of the American people that he was concerned about their needs, when nothing could be further from the truth. His only interest, from day one, has been Donald Trump.
Joe Biden will be sworn in as president on 20 January and Nancy Pelosi will be speaker of the House. Depending upon what happens in Georgia’s special elections, it is unclear which party will control the US Senate.
But one thing is clear. If the Democratic party wants to avoid losing millions of votes in the future it must stand tall and deliver for the working families of our country who, today, are facing more economic desperation than at any time since the Great Depression. Democrats must show, in word and deed, how fraudulent the Republican party is when it claims to be the party of working families.
And, in order to do that, Democrats must have the courage to take on the powerful special interests who have been at war with the working class of this country for decades. I’m talking about Wall Street, the pharmaceutical industry, the health insurance industry, the fossil fuel industry, the military industrial complex, the private prison industrial complex and many profitable corporations who continue to exploit their employees.
If the Democratic party cannot demonstrate that it will stand up to these powerful institutions and aggressively fight for the working families of this country – Black, White, Latino, Asian American and Native American – we will pave the way for another rightwing authoritarian to be elected in 2024. And that president could be even worse than Trump.
Joe Biden ran for president on a strong pro working-class agenda. Now we must fight to put that agenda into action and vigorously oppose those who stands in its way.
Which Side Are You On? was a folk song written by Florence Reece, the wife of an organizer with the United Mine Workers when the union went on strike in Kentucky in 1931. Democrats need to make it absolutely clear whose side they are on.
One side is for ending starvation wages and raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour. One side is not.
One side is for expanding unions. One side is not.
One side is for creating millions of good paying jobs by combating climate change and rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure. One side is not.
One side is for expanding healthcare. One side is not.
One side is for lowering the cost of prescription drugs. One side is not.
One side is for paid family and medical leave. One side is not.
One side is for universal pre-K for every three- and four-year-old in America. One side is not.
One side is for expanding social security. One side is not.
One side is for making public colleges and universities tuition-free for working families, and eliminating student debt. One side is not.
One side is for ending a broken and racist criminal justice system, and investing in our young people in jobs and education. One side is not.
One side is for reforming and making our immigration system fair and humane. One side is not.
Democrats’ job during the first 100 days of the Biden administration is to make it absolutely clear whose side they are on, and who is on the other side. That’s not only good public policy to strengthen our country. It’s how to win elections in the future.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
This has truly grown tiresome. It makes me think of what it must have been like in the days when people were trying to explain the geocentric theory of the universe. An ever more cumbersome and convoluted system of epicycles, celestial spheres and aether were required to keep the theory afloat until it was finally replaced by a much more reasonable theory that explained astronomical observations and required only a few basic assumptions. And so goes the great election fraud theory. There is an ever expanding group of people who must be “in on it”, not a single one of which has broken ranks or had a slip of the tongue, more convoluted reasons why there is a massive amount of evidence that no one has actually seen or revealed either in court or in public, and twisted logic of why a “dream team” of lawyers (minus the ones who dropped out for some reason) has failed to get past first base in upwards of 30 different lawsuits in 30 different courts with 30 different judges. A much more reasonable theory would be that the one and only goal Trump has before it’s time to leave is to sow doubt among his supporters and anyone else who will listen, as to the validity of the election and therefore the legitimacy of a Biden presidency. In this theory, rather than failing, he has been wildly successful. For this theory, all that is required is for Trump to want to do this (check), maybe for revenge against the impeachment and Russia investigation, and a very small handful of loyalists and cowering sycophants who are willing to do his bidding (check). The rest of us then fall into one of three categories. The first is people who are willing to believe whatever Trump says and are being played for fools. The second is people who do not believe this nonsense and would rather believe their own senses and what they can actually observe. And the third category is opportunists who, regardless of what they believe, realize they can make money or politically gain by catering to a very large audience of people who are desperately looking for any reason to continue to believe in Trump. This last category includes various senators and representatives, “news” networks such as OANN and Newsmax, which have outfoxed Fox and are surely raking in increased advertising dollars due to dramatically increased viewership, as well as retailers selling Trump and election fraud merchandise, and blogs that are seeing increased traffic and therefore making more money. Really, the only question left to ask yourself is, which category do you fall into?
THE UPPER CLASS keeps all of the money, pays none of the taxes. The middle class pays all of the taxes, does all of the work. The poor are there just to scare the shit out of the middle class. Keep ’em showin’ up at those jobs.
— George Carlin
FIRST IN LINE
With COVID vaccines close to approval, distribution priorities will require hard decisions. It occurs to me that we have a self-selected population for vaccine distribution. The folks who have refused to wear a mask go to the bottom of the list. They have told us that they do not care to participate in measures that guard against the virus. Fair enough. They can wait. Sometimes you get what you ask for.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY #2
I honestly cannot wait for January 20, 2021. At 12:00 Noon Chief Justice Roberts will give the Oath of Office to Chauncey Gardner…..oh…..I meant Joe Biden. Oh well, no harm done. No real difference. Both are essentially potted plants. Then, at 12:01 PM former President Trump will go FULL GROVER CLEVELAND and announce that he is a candidate for POTUS in 2024.
Heads will explode up and down the entire lengths of the East and West coasts.
Contrary to popular belief, Trump is going nowhere. Trump rallies will continue. A Trump News Network will be launched on cable or via live-streaming internet. Trump will continue to be the kingmaker within the GOP. Trump supporters will continue to fly Trump flags from cars, boats, planes, flying saucers, you name it.
The 24-hour news cycle will continue to revolve around Donald Trump 24/7/365, much to the consternation of millions of pink haired, transgendered, intersectional, Neptunian unicorns of color who populate the modern Democrat Party. TDS will continue as the nation’s leading mental disorder.
I’m gonna fill-up my survival bunker with crates of microwave popcorn. The next four years are going to be a HOOT!
S--T PUBLIC DEFENDERS SEE: INNOCENT, BUT FINED
by Matt Taibbi
On August 9, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri, a veteran police officer named Darren Wilson shot and killed an 18-year-old Black man named Michael Brown. The resulting furor led to protests across the country, igniting a debate about brutality, use of force, and policing tactics that rages to this day.
In the wake of the protests in Ferguson, Barack Obama’s Justice Department opened a federal civil rights investigation of the city’s police department. On page 2 of the resulting report, the DOJ zeroed in on something unexpected: revenue. Ferguson police, the feds said, were under constant pressure from financially-strained burghers to generate cash, and essentially ordered to ticket as many people — poor people — as possible.
The most penniless residents of the St. Louis exurb were written up for everything from actual crimes to municipal code violations like “High Grass and Weeds,” “Barking Dog,” and “Dog Running at Large.”
Between 2010 and 2014, the city wrote up 90,000 summonses and citations, and the number in the last year of that period was double what it was in the first year. Either crime and dog-barking were skyrocketing, or police were experiencing more pressure to write tickets. As the report wrote: “The City’s emphasis on revenue generation has a profound effect on FPD’s approach to law enforcement. Patrol assignments and schedules are geared toward aggressive enforcement of Ferguson’s municipal code, with insufficient thought given to whether enforcement strategies promote public safety or unnecessarily undermine community trust and cooperation… The result is a pattern of stops without reasonable suspicion and arrests without probable cause…”
For a lot of Americans, this was the first time they were introduced to the idea that cash-strapped municipalities were using the justice system as a means of generating revenue. The grotesque angle was that cities were so desperate that they were reduced to systematically ticketing people who couldn’t pay.
While this was going on, Alex Kornya, a public defender at Iowa Legal Aid, was experiencing his own sub-journey through one of the more bizarre corners of the criminal justice labyrinth.
“It goes back to Ferguson,” says Kornya. “A large part of the story of Ferguson was how the criminal justice system has been driven into overdrive, because of this need for revenue.” What he was witnessing was related, but weirder, and worse.
In December of 2015, a woman named Lori Dee Mathes was charged with a single count of possession of a controlled substance. Police were really interested in someone else, but executed a warrant on her property and charged her with a low-level offense based on what they found. Nearly two years later, in October of 2017, the state filed a motion to dismiss “upon agreement of the parties.”
Mathes was off the hook — sort of. She was sent multiple bills: $40 for “court reporter fees,” $100 for “filing and docketing fees,” and $1,815.28 in “indigent defense fee recoupment,” i.e. counsel fees. When Mathes tried to argue an inability to pay these bills, the state balked. After all, there was no more case! On what basis could she argue? It was a classic Catch-22. If Mathes had been found guilty, she’d have a right to appeal not only the disposition of the case, but also an ability to pay penalties. However, as a higher court eventually ruled, there was no right to appeal anything after a case like hers had been dismissed.
Citing a case called Berman v. United States, the Iowa Court of Appeals wrote that judgment is final when “it terminates the litigation between the parties on the merits” and “leaves nothing to be done but to enforce by execution what has been determined.”
Meaning: if we find you guilty, there’s something to argue. If we drop the charges, there’s “nothing to be done.” Thanks to this logic, as Kornya put it, “people who have dismissed criminal charges end up owing more money than people who are convicted.” As a cosmic punishment, it seemed, for arguing an inability to pay the initial few thousand, Mathes ended up owing $3000 more in appellate fees. The Mathes case had grown more bitter with time. When Kornya tried to argue down the costs, prosecutors returned fire in the form of a threat with real teeth, writing in a motion that if any of the fees were to be reduced “in any manner,” they might re-file the criminal charge:
In the years since Ferguson, the public has become at least somewhat aware of the phenomenon of the state charging people for the pleasure of having to travel through the criminal justice system. In New York, for instance, people have to pay for the tests the state does to enter their DNA in a database. There may be additional surcharges of hundreds of dollars for felony convictions, “victim assistance” fees, fees for ankle monitors, etc.
People who are released from long prison terms often find themselves under an immediate obligation to repay years of costs racked up behind bars, with a failure to repay in some states leading to re-incarceration. In some states, defendants are assessed hefty fees for pre-trial detention. Kornya says an Iowa 16-year-old, tried as an adult, racked up over $50,000 in pre-trial costs in just one case.
The difference in Iowa is the angle of fees in dismissed cases. “We've talked to hundreds, thousands of people who have this issue,” says Kornya. “From 2014 to 2019, there was $15 million in debt just associated with dismissed criminal cases with debts in Iowa.” He says the overall number of outstanding counsel fee debt is $177 million, and the collection rate is a pathetic 2%.
These debts arise from the vapor of a legal paradox. Although an Iowa statute, Woodbury County v. Anderson, says costs and taxes may only be assessed via “derogation of the common law,” there is no explicit statute outlining the state’s power to assess fees in dismissed cases. Prosecutors just do it.
How? Unlike plea agreements, which require the completion of a series of verbal or written formalities, there is no concrete mechanism with a dismissal. The attorney for a defendant like Mathes may agree to a deal, and the prosecutor simply has to represent to the court that a series of conditions, including fees, have been agreed upon.
“Are plea agreements perfect? Are there coercive elements to them? My God, yeah,” says Kornya. “However, what happens a lot with these agreements to dismiss is they have no formalities.”
A plea agreement may be required to be read into the record, in open court, with the defendant actually there, in front of a court reporter. Or there might be a written contract. But in dismissed cases like Mathes, Kornya says, “It’s basically just, ‘Oh yeah, she agreed to that’.”
Kornya was involved with another case dealing with a related phenomenon. In State of Iowa v. Jane Doe, a woman charged in 2009 with domestic abuse had her case dropped, for the sensible reason that she was actually the one being abused.
Upon dismissal, Jane Doe was sent a bill for “unpaid court costs” of $718.38, again involving counsel fees. Nearly a decade later, she tried to get her case expunged (a 2016 law had made this easier), but a district court ruled she could not. Why? She still owed court costs she had never been able to pay in the first place.
In an affidavit later filed by Iowa Legal Aid, Doe said her sole income came from two monthly assistance programs, totaling less than $1000. She listed the monthly expenses for caring for her two children (a third was on the way at the time) at $1445. The court finally did waive the fee, but Kornya and others tried to fight the larger issue of the stalled expungements. After all, there were masses of people applying for leases or jobs who were being held back by the appearance of a criminal record, thanks to unpaid fees assessed in dismissed cases.
“A lot of people were in the same situation as Jane Doe, who had a significant debt that only poor people owe,” says Kornya. A non-indigent person who didn’t pay off his or her privately-hired lawyer could be sued, or might face an adverse credit report, but the state couldn’t prevent their record from being expunged.
For a poor person, however, “the state can, and the state did. We thought that was a violation of the constitution.” They took the issue to the Iowa Supreme Court, but lost, 4-3 against.
In Iowa anyway, thousands of the poorest people are being assessed significant fees based on what comes down to a parody of Kafka: an informal understanding of agreements informally settled upon, based on a nonexistent legal authority. There are echoes of taxation without representation here, except that like so many things associated with the criminal justice system, the concept is irrational and moronic in addition to being repressive.
“If you're talking about a policy that actually collects revenue, and to support the judicial system, going after people with no money is stupid,” Kornya says. “Because you're not going to get the money… However miserable you make their lives, they still have no money.”
KILLING CURSIVE ROBS BRAINS
… for some time now, under the Common Core State Standards Initiative for “best educational practices,” it states that “cursive is no longer required to be taught” and instead will be replaced by keyboarding.
What is being missed here — what many educators do not realize — is that by learning cursive: you were not just learning how to communicate in another font you were building neural pathways necessary to stimulate brain activity that enables vision-motor control and language fluency necessary for cognitive development, learning, reading, sports, socialization and everyday tasks.
PHOTOS OF THE BATTLE OF CIUDAD JUÁREZ during the Mexican Revolution, 1911
A THORGELLENISCHE PÖLKA.
The recording of last night's (2020-11-27) Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show on KNYO-LP Fort Bragg is right here: https://tinyurl.com/KNYO-MOTA-0412
Furthermore, at https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com you'll find a fresh batch of dozens of links to not necessarily radio-useful but nonetheless worthwhile educational items I set aside for you while gathering the show together. Such as:
The time the former very last Soviet Russian leader made a teevee ad for Pizza Hut. https://nagonthelake.blogspot.com/2020/11/mikhail-gorbachevs-pizza-hut.html
I can think of good reason after good reason why a woman might finally snap and do something like this, and I’m sure you can too, where no jury in the world would convict her. https://www.thesun.ie/news/6198878/woman-smashes-booze-aldi/
It sounds like Oy-y’yoy! that my Polish-Lithuanian grandmother used to say, but I think he’s saying something else. Everything about a military tank is an obscenely expensive waste, so I don’t feel all that bad when one gets stuck on its back clawing at the sky screaming like a turtle. https://twitter.com/kann_news/status/1330547328655220737
And okay, Pop, now you’re just showing off. https://www.bitsandpieces.us/2020/11/21/a-dad-busting-a-move/
p.s. If you want me to read on the radio something that you've written, just email it to me and that's what I'll do on the very next Memo of the Air. That's what I'm here for.
— Marco McClean, firstname.lastname@example.org, https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com
BIDEN NEEDS TO REPORT TRUMP’S WRECKAGE IN EXECUTIVE BRANCH
by Ralph Nader
The Biden Transition team is about to connect with the Trumpsters running federal departments and agencies into the ground. The Biden staff should prepare for serial shocks. Biden’s people will be observing the first glimpses of staggering wreckage and corruption. They need to tell the American people what they find.
The Trump regime gave itself lawless license to do whatever it wanted. Trump operatives dismantled or disabled humane program after humane program, health and safety regulations, and economic protections designed to protect working people, children, the elderly, and people living in poverty.
After all, the Trumpsters got the green light from their boss Donald, who when not playing golf, tweeting tantrums, and watching Fox News, believed that “I have an Article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as president.”
When the Bidenites take over on January 21, they will find hollowed-out government law enforcement and shelved research projects. They’ll see offices empty after government scientists and other civil servants were forced out. Other public servants will be sitting in what the Japanese call “window jobs,” ordered to stop working on vital matters ranging from limiting climate disruption to stopping Wall Street rip-offs. The Trump administration turned important government jobs into do-nothing positions.
Heavily censored federal CDC workers, benumbed from prohibitions on what they can say, and who were ordered not to speak the words “climate change” will receive their rescuers with deep relief. EPA workers who were ordered to repeal or weaken over 100 environmental safeguards – unleashing deadly toxins into people’s air and water – will feel the breaking of the restraints imposed on sound science.
Specialists who were told to weaken or eliminate about 50 occupational health and safety standards and literally shut down enforcement at OSHA will also start to see the early dawn.
Biden’s team will discover destruction or theft of public records, spectacles of looting and plunder of public trust and public property.
They will hear stories of corporate lobbyists coming in and out of the agencies as if they owned the government because they did. Trump turned over the federal government to Big Business, as has never before happened, brazenly, openly, and endlessly. His nominee to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) into nothingness, marauding Mick Mulvaney, openly said the agency’s mission was to protect Wall Street Big Banks and unscrupulous payday lenders!! Mulvaney abandoned tens of millions of defrauded Americans. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said Mulvaney proved “he would rather cozy up with payday lenders and industry insiders than listen to consumer advocates who want to make sure hard-working Americans are not cheated by financial scams.” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said Mick Mulvaney had “no intention of putting consumers above financial firms that cheat them.”
Much of the Trump Administration corruption started at the despoiled White House, which Trump turned into a family business incubator to enhance his Brand. Trump’s crime spree was aided and abetted by his “personal lawyer,” Attorney General, William Barr who twisted government lawyers into ignoring or overturning the rule of law under orders from the political bosses.
Shoveling out corrupt, crony contracts, grants, subsidies, giveaways, and bailouts in a frenzy of taxpayer torture will occupy many officials in the new Administration as they attempt to unravel, expose, and if possible, claw back ill-gotten gains.
Unlike the entering Obama Administration back in 2009, the Biden Administration must come in with a determined mindset as they begin restoring the rule of law and reversing Trump’s cruel and crazy policies. Biden’s team will also need to start restoring past services and initiating new services for the citizenry.
They must not let the Trumpster outlaws escape and become immune fugitives from justice. If Trump’s wrecking crew escapes the arm of the law, for sure they and their base will return with a vengeance in two and four years.
For Joe Biden, healing America is not incompatible with bringing these self-dealing, law-breaking, constitution-violating, anti-American crooks to justice. In truth, both tasks are complementary with the basic belief that “nobody is above the law,” which escapee Trump has long treated as a laughable cliché.
The way to start this redeeming process is to draw a clear line between what Biden’s appointees find and what they intend to change. They must give cogent reports to the people about Trump’s crumbled and wasted agencies so that Trump’s record of destruction and pillage will not be forgotten because of short public memories. Otherwise, Trump’s mass media will let him leave the public with the truth-denying Orwellian impression that he left the Democrats “a great” federal legacy.
I’M NOT SURPRISED by anything Bill McKibben has to say these days, but I did a momentary double-take when I saw that he had given his seal of approval to John Kerry being named Biden’s climate czar. It must’ve taken a profound act of psychological contortion for McKibben to suppress the memory of Kerry’s infamous role in fast-tracking the Enbridge pipeline and its toxic cargo of tar-sands mined oil. John Kerry’s climate priorities were 20 years out of date, 10 years ago…
A CAPITOL HILL AIDE “on the left” excitedly proclaimed to the Washington Post’s Jeff Stein: “We’ve won in a very historic way on [Janet] Yellen … This is the first time that you have a professional academic economist appointed for Treasury. Under Bush, Obama, Trump, Treasury was always the domain of Wall Street.”
Hell, Milton Friedman’s a “professional academic” and his economic policies have killed, immiserated and starved hundreds of millions, even without him becoming Secretary of the Treasury.
Biden economic advisor Larry Summers expressed his “skepticism” this week about student loan debt forgiveness.
Summers, Rubin, Geithner, Yellen…you know exactly what you’re going to get from the Democratic economic brain trust, which is managed austerity. By managed, I mean that it will be austerity for working class people and the poor and massive bailouts for banks and transnationals.
— Jeffrey St. Clair