Weak Front | 14 Cases | Mayor Orozco | FB 1858 | Recent Changes | Pressed Flora | Dreaded Diphtheria | Navarro River | Lit Poetry | Trestle Bridge | Coate Christmas | Preston House | Virtual Cannabis | Creek Log | Fire FEMA | Spotted Eel | Ed Notes | Bull Elk | Covelo Considered | Corporal Hernandez | Schoolhouse Museum | 128 Switchbacks | Yesterday's Catch | Identity Politics | Gibson 68 | London Laundry | Food Line | Ike's Ambition | Team America | Ravens Outbreak | All Yours | Tire Kill | Azbill Sykes | Orgasm Cult | Tokyo Station
A WEAK FRONT will bring some light rain to northwest CA Saturday afternoon, followed by more dry weather into next week, as a persistent ridge of high pressure remains over California. (NWS)
14 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County on Thursday, bringing the total to 1671.
‘FROM GOAT HERDER TO MAYOR’: JUAN OROZCO SWORN IN AS UKIAH’S FIRST LATINO MAYOR
by Matt LaFever
Wednesday night, Juan Orozco, Ukiah’s first Latino mayor, was sworn into office. Born on a rural ranch in the Mexican state of Michoacán, Orozco spoke told us of his many years working the vineyards of Anderson Valley, becoming an educator in the Ukiah area, taking on the role of Ukiah City councilman in 2018, and finally becoming the first Latino mayor in the history of Ukiah.
Orozco said he was raised on a ranch in the Mexican agricultural state of Michoacán. Orozco told us he decided to come to the United States in 1981 at the age of 19, where he laughingly remembered, “I didn’t come to stay. I just wanted to get rich and go back.”
When Orozco arrived in Mendocino County, he labored in Anderson Valley’s vineyards. He remembered starting to attend Mendocino College driving the long, windy roads to Ukiah for night classes after days of picking wine grapes. From there, Orozco continued his education, earning degrees from Sonoma State University and Dominican University.
During the 1986 Farm Worker Amnesty Program, Orozco told us of his work to organize and help undocumented immigrants in their efforts to become United States citizens.
In 1995, Orozco began his work with the Mendocino County Office of Education, serving the community’s at-risk youth working in the county’s juvenile hall.
In 2018, Orozco began his tenure as a member of the Ukiah City Council, where he said he had worked hard to advocate for Ukiah’s Latino community.
Looking forward, Orozco hopes to implement changes to the City of Ukiah’s communication with its Latino population. He hopes to hire more bilingual staff members to serve all of Ukiah’s residents, keeping them “informed and getting services from the city.”
Reflecting on what being Ukiah’s first Latino mayor means, Orozco said, “We tend to focus on individual personal success. If we do not succeed together, if we don’t collaborate, it will be difficult to get anywhere individually.”
In a call to action to the Latino community, Orozco said, “I think for us Latinos, we are going to be expected to be leaders and government officials. It’s time for us to be involved.”
Thinking back on the arc of his life leading to his new role as Ukiah’s mayor, Orozco remarked, “I can’t believe it. I’ve gone from goat herder to mayor.”
(Matt LaFever operates the local website MendoFever.com.)
KEEPING UP WITH THE CHANGES
by Tabatha Miller, Fort Bragg City Manager
One of the challenges during the Pandemic is just keeping up with the ever-changing guidance, regulations, and assistance issued by local, state, and federal agencies. Please do not shoot the messenger, but here are a few that have come to my recent attention that may apply to you.
On November 13, the California Department of Public Health issued a travel advisory providing that persons traveling to California or returning residents should self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival. This advisory is targeted for non-essential travel or travel for tourism or recreation. It does not apply to individuals traveling for essential purposes such as work and study, critical infrastructure support, economic services, supply chains, health, immediate medical care, and safety and security. While this advisory was issued as a “should” before the Thanksgiving Holiday and not a “shall” there is the discussion that it could become a “shall” as the virus continues to set records across the state. Likewise, effective November 21, a curfew from 10 pm to 5 am was issued for all purple (Widespread) tier counties in the state. Mendocino County returned to the purple tier on November 16, so the curfew applies to us. All gatherings and activities outside the home with other households must cease at 10 pm, except for essential services and activities such as those described in the paragraph above.
On Monday (November 30), the new California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (Cal/OSHA) emergency regulation passed on November 19, 2020, became effective. The new regulation codifies its prior guidance but unlike the guidance, it is now binding and enforceable against almost all California employers. The regulation is 21 pages when printed out. Just a few requirements under the new regulation include:
Upon notice of potential COVID-19 exposure at a workplace, all employees present during the exposure must be provided notices within one business day.
All employees with potential workplace exposure must be offered COVID-19 testing at no cost during work hours.
Employees who have been exposed to a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 must be excluded from the workplace for 14 days after the last known exposure. As a side note, exposure is defined as a total of 15 minutes within 24 hours within six feet of a person who tested positive.
Persons testing positive must not return to work for at least 10 days and must be symptom-free for at least 24 hours prior.
Employees who are excluded from the workplace are entitled to regular earnings and benefits while off of work. This paid leave may be provided under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
Employers must report all COVID-19 cases in the workplace. Employers must also develop written COVID-19 prevention plans and provide employees with personal protective equipment.
On the positive side, there is new assistance and relief available to small businesses and employers impacted by COVID-19. The state small business tax credit provides $1k created for each new employee hired by small businesses. Applications will be accepted starting on December 1, 2020, through an online reservation system. Qualified small businesses will be allocated the credit on a first-come-first-serve basis.
Businesses must have 100 or fewer employees as of December 31, 2019, and have suffered a 50% or more decrease in income tax gross receipts. To apply, visit the Department of Tax and Fee Administration: https://www.cdtfa.ca.gov/taxes-and-fees/SB1447-tax-credit.htm.
The IRS has two tax credit programs to assist employers: the Employee Retention Credit and Leave Credits to assist with COVID related sick and family leave. Visit www.irs.gov/coronavirus for more information and additional credits and benefits available.
At the local level, the City has applied for and awaits the award of two Community Development Grant (CDBG) awards: $500k to fund a Business Assistance Loan Program and $117k to assist microenterprise businesses. We will announce those two programs as soon as the funding is available.
THE RIGID ACTION TAKEN by the Fort Bragg Board of Health has squashed the dreaded diphtheria squarely in the head and at the present writing, health officer Dr. L. C. Gregory, reports that there are no new cases and that the two patients who were sick have recovered. The public library, school, motion picture show, etc., which were closed down, are again running and Fort Bragg is once more wide open.
(Fort Bragg Advocate, Nov. 26, 1915)
PERFECT STOCKING STUFFER
I just got the most amazing poetry book written by our own Peter Lit. These poems touched me deeply, much as a great novel makes you say “I felt that but never said it.”
I recommend this book, Poets Are Always On Time. You can get it on Amazon.
This is the perfect Christmas gift.
I know Peter because I was fortunate enough to perform at his famous Casper Inn in its heyday.
By the way did you know that Peter picks up hot food from a Caspar restaurant and delivers it to 15 of his neighbors every Friday and has done so for 9 months? On one trip, as he was opening his trunk, he was asked by a curious local cop what he was doing and he said with his usual salty humor, “I am on a mission from god.”
I had no Idea that he was such an amazing local poet.
Rosie Radiator (AKA Bess Bair)
San Francisco/Dos Rios
The Willow Avenue Christmas Sale.
Held in their beautiful Victorian home, the Coates would empty the rooms all the way back to the kitchen and fill each room with amazing handcrafted items. Artists were able to display their work in the perfect setting and atmosphere for Christmas. Attending each year we began to know and look for that particular craft or art. For me, it was always the Christmas ornaments. In my mind, there’s nothing more beautiful than a small felt stocking decorated with the tiniest of cross stitching created by Peggy Ross. Some of my friends zeroed in on those butterscotchery caramels. Reminiscing the other day, we recalled one evening sitting on the front steps, when a friend made the mistake of opening a bag she had purchased as a gift, offering us “a piece.” We ate the whole bag! She had to go back in and buy another one!
Dear Debbie Coate, and your lovely cadre of friends —the ones who helped set up, tirelessly baked cookies, filled crockpots with cider, brewed pots of coffee, tallied and bagged the purchases — we just want to say, “You have no idea the magic you created for us. Those memories will live on forever. Thank you.”
CANNABIS AD HOC TO HOST CANNABIS CULTIVATION VIRTUAL TOWN HALL
On Wednesday, December 9th at 4:00 pm, the Board of Supervisors Cannabis Cultivation Ad Hoc Committee consisting of Supervisors John Haschak and Ted Williams will host a virtual Cannabis Cultivation Town Hall Meeting. The Supervisors will give an update on their current efforts with State agencies and provide an opportunity for the public to participate by asking questions and providing public comment.
Virtual Town Hall Details:
What: Cannabis Cultivation Virtual Town Hall
When: Wednesday, December 9, 2020 at 4:00 pm
Who: Mendocino County Board of Supervisors John Haschak and Ted Williams; Planning and Building Services Director, Brent Schultz; Planning and Building Services Staff
How to attend:
To join via Zoom, click the link: https://mendocinocounty.zoom.us/j/89835755017
To join via phone, dial: +1 669 900 9128 and enter the webinar ID: 898 3575 5017
The webinar will also be streaming live on the County’s YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/mendocinocountyvideo) and the County’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/mendocinocounty/).
How to submit your questions and comments:
There will be a live Q & A feature on the webinar where you can submit your question live during the event.
For more information, please contact Mendocino County Planning and Building Services Cannabis Program at (707) 234-6680.
FEMA TO HOST MOBILE REGISTRATION INTAKE CENTER IN COVELO
FEMA will host a Mobile Registration Intake Center (MRIC) in Covelo on Friday, December 4 through Sunday, December 6 to help register fire survivors for federal assistance programs.
When: Friday, December 4 through Sunday, December 6 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
Where: Round Valley Public Library at 23925 Howard Street, Covelo, CA 95428
THURSDAY got off to a resoundingly apocalyptic start with the Santa Anas blowing up fast-moving fires in LA as SoCal utilities cut power to tens of thousands of homes to stall the flames from breaking into new areas. LA's mayor announced “It's time to cancel everything” as he issued a stay-at-home order for everyone with no particular business being outside. The Governor and SF's mayor are expected to announce comparably strict orders any time now perhaps, in their cases, over lunch at the most expensive restaurant in the state. Biden tottered on-screen to read from his telepromoter's big block print that more than three thousand people had died Wednesday, and that he expected a quarter of a million deaths by January. He said that one of his first acts as president will be a 100-day national mask order. The leader-elect seemed rather elated; either that or his emotions are seriously out of sync with what he's saying. The experts are urging people to stay home over Christmas which, other experts are speculating, could mean shutting down air travel.
KATY TAHJA with an only-in-the-rural: “I called my daughter from town on the phone and she had to interrupt the conversation to yell at her son, ‘Don't put the chicken in the trampoline!’ She came back to the phone and said, ‘I can't believe I just said that…’ I said, ‘Tell him the chicken will poop in there if it gets excited…’ Ahhh...the joys of raising kids in the country.”
THAT 6-ON-2 COVELO kidnap and murder was more appalling than even that beleagured town's criminals usually manage: An axe was the murder weapon. One of the defendants forcibly held up the head of the female victim to make her watch while the male victim was bludgeoned to death. Then it was her turn.
(YES, I am fully aware of the bizarre mix of stuff you’re enjoying this morning over coffee. Read on and blame the times, not me.)
A CALLER said his grandchildren were being sexually propagandized at their inland Mendo elementary school. He was a little light on specifics, but since he mentioned a widely circulated story from, I think, the LA area about a transvestite reading to third graders, an event that seems to have traumatized millions, I called Mendo County school superintendent, Michelle Hutchins, for clarification. Are our schools indoctrinating the young ones in off-schedule sexual practices? She said that the law requires schools to teach sex ed starting in 7th grade, and the state recommends that schools start this education as early as fifth grade but that she was “unaware of any elementary schools in our county that address sex ed prior to seventh grade. Most districts collaborate with local health care providers and bring in health workers to present and work with students or the teacher addresses it themselves. It is part of the science curriculum in 7th grade and health curriculum in 8th grade.”
I HAVE A DIM memory of the nice lady who taught biology at my high school being terribly embarrassed by a classroom smart ass who, pretending to seek clarification of her technical explanations of zygotes and fallopian tubes as they involved insemination, kept asking versions of, “But is this process kicked off by a penis inserted into a vagina?” (Both terms were regarded as first cousins to obscenity in ’56.) She answered a hurried yes and we returned to the hard (sic) science.
THE POPULATION of the Anderson Valley is growing. Wednesday morning the Philo Post Office was installing what looked to be about a hundred new boxes. I wonder if people who are able to are fleeing urban areas to escape what seems to be shaping up as unprecedented civil chaos?
THE AVA'S COMMENT LINE faces a prob faced by all on-line publications. To be blunt, How to keep crazy talk to a minimum. So we issued our guidelines which, of course, will seem arbitrary to the certifiable and also, of course, assumes our judgement is, well, sound, not that we're reluctant to argue this or that comment. Here you go, boys. (Girls, generically being smarter, understand without basic and repeated instruction.) Same as newspaper LTE's only a little looser, meaning we assume we have the duty to cull what we think is unfair or simply irrelevant or.... Well, yes, our editing can seem arbitrary to the everyday chronophage because we don't want our comment section to go all to hell like the MCN chatline where a handful of lunatics insult each other round the clock, crowding out or intimidating into silence sensible people who'd rather not associate with or expose themselves to the outpatient community. Imagine yourself writing to a paper-paper. Would you assume the paper-paper is obligated to print whatever pops into your fraught head? No. Same here.
GUN SAFETY, an on-line comment: “Never, never let your gun be pointed at any one. Not an accidental discharge, as there is no such animal, it was a NEGLIGENT discharge! Keep your boogerhook off the bangswitch, numbnuts…”
RIGHT THERE are two handy new additions to the formidable arsenal of American language — “boogerhook” for trigger finger, “bangswitch” for trigger Bingo! Numbnuts seems to have been around forever. Curious about the origins of these handy terms sent me to that invaluable resource, the American Dictionary of Slang: “Numbnuts n. a stupid fellow.” The first formal awareness of “numbnuts” seemed to be a 1960 play called Do Not Go Gentle where the term is applied to the 1940s as in, “Makes a man weary, Al, havin’ ta ’sociate with numbnuts like these.” (Still researching boogerhook and bangswitch.)
THE ANDERSON VALLEY FOOD BANK is more than ever as crucial to struggling local families as it's been in its long history. It can be cyber-contacted at andersonvalleyfoodbank.org. There is a DONATE button to press that takes one to AVFB's paypal account. Donations can also be sent to AVFB P.O. Box 692 Boonville CA 95415. The AV Food Bank distributes food twice a month on the 1st and 3rd Mondays from 3 - 6pm at the west end of the Boonville Methodist Church. Its small staff of local volunteers packs the food the morning of each distribution. “We usually pack for 100 - 120 families each distribution and serve from 609 to 1,036 people monthly depending on who shows up to receive food that month.”
WALKING around outside in the dark is normally uneventful, but over the years I've walked straight into the side of a sheep standing in the middle of Anderson Valley Way, and twice have nearly walked into a man standing silent and immobile, also on Anderson Valley Way. Full-striding into the sheep occurred on a dark night made darker by a thick tule fog, a night only a person with severe OCD tendencies would have been out in in the first place. The immobile guy? I will always suspect the guy standing silent in the roadway deliberately did a number on me since he did it twice, but a neighbor told me he was pretty sure that the immobile guy was merely “a Mexican guy waiting for his ride to work.” In the middle of the road in the dark, and hearing my lumbering gait and the metronomic tap of my walking stick moving toward him? And he just stands in my path without moving? Huh? Huh? Huh? Answer me! Ordinarily I'm not out for an aerobic re-charge that early, but there are days when the day starts at four, and who am I to thwart The Great Design? “I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day.” So the other morning I got up and out before dawn for an hour quick time up and down Lambert Lane. The moon had sunk into the sea off Albion, the sun had not appeared over Hopland. It was very dark, and real dark once past the Lambert neighborhood. I'm trucking along, my flashlight in my pocket, listening to the hypnotically predictable Tanzina Vega on KZYX feeling fortunate to have eluded Thom Hartmann — American liberals have never been more boring — visibility a few yards when, suddenly, this guy appears. Startled, I shout, “Good morning.” He moves toward me. Jeez, did he think I wanted to stop and chat? I shout louder, “Keep going!” He keeps going. I think he was carrying something, cradling whatever it was, with both arms. A 5150, disoriented homeless guy? Who knows. The times are way out of joint. I'd prepared to give him the old boot camp butt stroke I'd mastered during pugil stick training, but I seemed to have startled him as much as he'd startled me, and I was again king of the pre-dawn. I felt a tiny bit of remorse for having yelled at whoever it was, but why had he taken a couple of steps towards me, me an inviolate senior citizen innocently exercising to postpone his rendezvous with The Reaper?
SAD to hear that Herb Dower had died. Mendo old timers, especially sports-oriented old timers, will remember Dower as the indefatigable sports reporter for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat in that paper's golden years. Herb had, no exaggeration, an encyclopedic knowledge of Northcoast high school athletics right down to schedules, won-loss records, rosters. All by himself, he sold a lot of papers because high school sports on the Northcoast were the very cynosure of our communities. The whole town turned out for ball games. I remember meeting Herb at the annual Boonville Basketball Tournament, the famous Redwood Classic, a heavily-attended pre-season event that Dower covered as if it were the NBA playoffs. He was a shy, self-effacing guy who understood how central sports were (and are) to the life of small-town Northcoast. When he retired, or was forced out when the big boys from the east took over at the PD, the loss was felt from Santa Rosa to Eureka.
RECOMMENDED VIEWING: ‘Maradona in Mexico,” a documentary film about the legendary soccer star's year of coaching dangerously in Sinaloa, Mexico where the ebullient Maradona took the Mexican team from the doldrums to success in a very short period of time. Maradona, who died last month at age 60, is an interesting character by himself, as legendary for his off-field excesses as his brilliant on-field performances. The film is also a fascinating look at the life of professional soccer off the field as it plays out in Mexico's infamous drug city.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
When I first considered moving north in the late nineties, I visited Covelo and would have chosen it had not a young Native American friend of my god-daughter’s explained that I would be virtually eaten alive by the piranhas who victimize dumb white people like me. (I loved the Yolla Bolly press and aspired to work there, as a professional in the publishing field, live humbly on a little plot of farmable land, help organize services for elder care, stuff like that.) I picked Lake County and discovered the same political nightmare on this side of the Cow, and the horrific disfunctionality of abused (and subsequently self-flagellating) tribal families. The miraculous efforts to stop the Army Corps of Engineers, resulting in Reagan’s unwitting last minute decision, is a true “cliff-hanger” — the ending is as astonishing as the present reality is today. (Betsy Cawn)
“WORST CASE OF PHYSICAL CHILD ABUSE I HAVE EVER WORKED”
UKIAH - Those were the words and sentiment of the Ukiah Police Department detective who investigated the 2019 child abuse allegations against defendant Audrey Joyce Hernandez, age 76, of Ukiah.
As previously reported, defendant Hernandez was convicted at a court trial held back in October of two felony counts of unlawfully inflicting corporal injury on a child, and three misdemeanor counts of abusing and endangering the health of a child.
The victim of the felony counts was ten years of age at the time of the crimes. The victims of the misdemeanor counts were fifteen, thirteen, and nine years of age at the time of those crimes.
As ordered, defendant Hernandez was back in the Superior Court Thursday afternoon for sentencing. Appearing before Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Ann Moorman, the defendant listened to the sentencing arguments of Assistant DA Dale P. Trigg and her court-appointed counsel.
When all was said and done, defendant Hernandez’s bid for probation was denied and the Court instead sentenced her to 88 months in the Realignment County Prison, more commonly known as the Sheriff's Low Gap jail facility. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Court ordered the defendant taken into custody and transported by deputies from the courthouse to the jail to immediately begin serving her sentence.
It should be noted that the California Legislature in Sacramento has made defendants sentenced to prison for felony child abuse a county problem; defendants convicted of felony child abuse have been made legislatively exempt from being housed in a state prison -- no matter how inhumane or cruel the abuse may have been.
As allowed by law, Judge Moorman ordered the defendant’s local prison sentence “split” between incarceration and a form of post-incarceration formal supervision known as mandatory supervision. The split imposed requires that the defendant serve 48 months in local prison followed by 40 months on mandatory supervision.
The defendant is eligible for and will receive fifty percent early release credits against her 48 months of incarceration, credits that are automatically granted by California law to all inmates. This means that it is anticipated that the time the defendant will actually spend in jail before being placed on mandatory supervision should be approximately two years.
GEORGE HOLLISTER WRITES: Re: A Brief History of Highway 128: Great writing Mr. Smoot. I hope we have a chance to read more of your writings. I have a question; on the East side of 128 going from Boonville to Cloverdale, on the final grade going down, there are is a set of switchback turns. These sharp turns are problematic, which leaves me wondering how come 128 doesn’t continue down at an even grade before the top turn in the set of switchbacks? There appears to be enough flat road below to accommodate an even grade road, with no switchbacks. Is there a cliff? A big hard rock?
CATCH OF THE DAY, December 3, 2020
RODRIGO AMEZCUA-GONZALEZ, Ukiah. DUI-drugs, suspended license for DUI.
SHANNON ARNOLD, Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation. (Frequent Flyer)
EDWARD ESQUIVEL, Willits. Probation violation. (Frequent Flyer)
MIGUEL FARFAN-REYES, San Mateo/Ukiah. DUI.
MATEO FLORES, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
ANTHONY MCCOY, Ukiah. Disobeying court order. (Frequent Flyer)
DANIEL MEINECKE, Leggett. Parole violation. (Frequent Flyer)
ERIC WRIGHT, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. (Frequent Flyer)
IDENTITY POLITICS VS. MELTING POT VISION
by Dan Walters
The jousting over Gov. Gavin Newsom’s appointment of a U.S. senator to succeed Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is fast becoming the epitome — or nadir — of identity politics.
It’s a mindset in which the personalities, talents, character and accomplishments of individual human beings are secondary to being defined by their race, ethnicity, gender, age and/or sexual identification — and are expected to automatically reflect the values and mores of their designated categories.
Inevitably, then, politics become a competition among identity groups for power and distribution of public goods — a modern version of tribalism that succeeds the earlier vision of America as a melting pot that blends immigrant cultures into a unique society.
Oddly, ordinary Americans increasingly resist such categorization. We intermarry, we happily live in integrated neighborhoods, we have and adopt children of mixed ethnicity, we send our children to integrated schools and we embrace food and music from disparate cultures. That’s especially true in California, the most ethnically and culturally complex of the 50 states.
Harris herself is both a product of the melting pot vision — her mother migrated from India, her father from Jamaica and they met as students at the University of California — and of the politics of identity. Depending on the audience and the moment, she identified herself as Black or Indo-American, but she also married a white man who is Jewish.
Not surprisingly, therefore, Newsom is feeling pressure from identity groups to choose a new senator from within their ranks, each saying Newsom “must” pay homage with an appointment.
Willie Brown, the former Assembly speaker and San Francisco mayor who was also Newsom’s political mentor, is leading a public drive for a Black woman to succeed Harris, who is also a former Brown protégé.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed, still another Brown protégé, is on his list, along with Congresswomen Karen Bass of Los Angeles and Barbara Lee of Oakland.
The LGBTQ Victory Fund is another group publicly pushing Newsom to make history by appointing the nation’s first openly non-heterosexual senator.
Several women’s organizations are demanding that Newsom replace Harris with another woman.
Finally, Latino groups are pressing Newsom to honor the state’s largest ethnic group by appointing California’s first Latino senator.
Asked about his intentions during a briefing on COVID-19 this week, Newsom said he doesn’t have a self-imposed deadline, “But progress has been made in terms of getting closer to that determination.”
The odds-on favorite among political handicappers is that Newsom will appoint a Latino, possibly Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who has a lengthy and close relationship with the governor.
As the cynics — or realists — see the situation, Newsom has already given a nod to Black and LGBTQ groups by naming Martin Jenkins to a seat on the state Supreme Court. He could placate one of the other groups by naming a successor to Padilla in the secretary of state’s office. The same dynamics would apply if he chose another Latino, Attorney General Xavier Becerra, for the Senate.
While the competition for Newsom’s senatorial appointment typifies identity politics, it also demonstrates their unfortunate aspect of ignoring what should be the most important factor. We should have someone in the Senate of good character and demonstrated competence and who approaches the position with an independent mind, as the state’s other senator, Dianne Feinstein, has done.
It should not matter which identity group wins the competition. It should matter that whomever Newsom chooses will be seen as representing every Californian, not just one faction of the state’s 40 million residents.
(Dan Walters has been a journalist for nearly 60 years, spending all but a few of those years working for California newspapers.)
"Don't dig in against Bob Gibson; he'll knock you down. He'd knock down his own grandmother if she dared to challenge him. Don't stare at him, don't smile at him, don't talk to him. He doesn't like it. If you happen to hit a home run, don't run too slow, don't run too fast."
— Henry Aaron
FRISCO'S MAYOR, TOO
Gov. Gavin Newsom is in good company when it comes to politicians attending fancy birthday parties while encouraging others to avoid gathering.
It turns out San Francisco Mayor London Breed dined at the French Laundry the night after Newsom’s infamous, ill-advised, mid-pandemic soiree at the three-star Michelin restaurant in Yountville.
Breed took a few days off after election day and joined seven others the night of Nov. 7 to celebrate socialite Gorretti Lo Lui’s 60th birthday, Breed’s spokesman Jeff Cretan confirmed. The party of eight dined in the same kind of partially enclosed room with a ceiling and chandelier as Newsom did — making it more of an indoor dining experience than an outdoor one.
Cretan characterized the occasion as a “small family birthday dinner,” but it’s unclear exactly who else attended and how many households the group included.
While indoor dining was allowed in Napa County at the time with no specified limit on the number of households, the state’s guidelines “strongly discouraged” social gatherings and capped them at three households. Breed’s dinner at an opulent restaurant — amid an economic catastrophe that’s shuttered countless small businesses and stretched the lines at local food banks to new lengths — might not have technically violated the rules, but it isn’t a great look.
The dinner would have certainly violated San Francisco’s health guidelines if it took place in Breed’s own city. San Francisco has issued stricter guidance than the state for several types of businesses, including restaurants, which were not supposed to seat groups larger than six indoors or outdoors unless everyone lived together. Three days after dining at the French Laundry, Breed banned indoor dining in San Francisco altogether.
“I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that everyone act responsibly to reduce the spread of the virus,” Breed said in a statement Nov. 10. “Every San Franciscan needs to do their part so that we can start moving in the right direction again.”
It’s just the latest example of a politician not exactly practicing what they keep preaching. When Newsom attended his French Laundry dinner for lobbyist Jason Kinney’s 50th birthday, the party of 12 certainly included more than three households. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi got her hair done in San Francisco while salons were ordered closed.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo told people to avoid big gatherings for Thanksgiving, but attended his elderly parents’ holiday dinner in Saratoga with other relatives from five households. Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl voted to ban outdoor dining last week — and hours later was spotted dining outside at an Italian restaurant in Santa Monica.
(Heather Knight, SFChron)
FRED GARDNER WRITES:
A poem (I'm guessing it's by Terry Allen, a great songwriter whose father had a cup of coffee with the St. Louis Browns c. 1941) and an article from the NY Times...
Growing up in Abilene
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Hit the longest homer ever seen
People talked about his power
His best friend in Abilene
A boy who could really pitch
Dreamed of being president
Neither fellow got his wish
They got everything but
What they asked for…
What they wanted most
EISENHOWER’S BASEBALL SECRET
About a century ago, a young baseball player from Abilene, Kan., struggled with the distinction between professional and amateur sports. This was Dwight D. Eisenhower, the future World War II Allied supreme commander in Europe and two-term president of the United States.
THE BALTIMORE RAVENS’ CAUTIONARY COVID TALE
by Dave Zirin
It’s 2020, so of course a NFL game was just played at 3:40pm on a Wednesday. The Baltimore Ravens lost 19-14 to the unbeaten Pittsburgh Steelers, but the real story is why this Thanksgiving matchup was played on a weekday afternoon in December. It’s a story of a pandemic and a possible labor protest.
For six consecutive days leading up to the contest, a multitude of players on the Baltimore Ravens were diagnosed with Covid-19. The game was moved three times as the positive tests rolled in. All told, 16 players on the Ravens were out after contracting the virus, including a whopping seven players who have been to a Pro Bowl. This included the team’s MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson. At its height, the Ravens had more than 20 players on the “Covid list.” And the players are pissed off.
Their rage stems from the fact that this outbreak is believed to have been caused by the team’s head strength and conditioning coach Steve Saunders, who was disciplined by the team for not consistently wearing a mask at the team’s indoor facility. The organization’s response to the crisis has been tepid. Meanwhile fans have created an online petition gathering steam to have Saunders fired. Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Preston called for “heads to roll” as a result of the outbreak, writing, “More than 250,000 people in this country have died from this pandemic, so there should be zero tolerance. Either follow the protocol or find a new job.” Instead, the Baltimore football team has adopted the approach of “next man up,” as if there is a strain of sprained ankles being spread around the clubhouse.
That this outbreak occurred among the Ravens should not be a surprise. Chekhov’s Gun was brandished in the off season when Head Coach John Harbaugh said, with a macho swagger of the virus, “You can look at it any way you want to look at it, but I’m not going to run for cover and I don’t think the NFL is either.” But this isn’t a gun fight at the OK Corral. This isn’t about bravery or fear. The virus doesn’t care how many times you can bench press 225 pounds and it doesn’t give a damn if a healthy football player gives it to someone far less able to fend off the worst effects. Now, the gun has gone off and the team was ravaged right before facing their bitterest division rival in what so far was their most important game in their season.
The Ravens players are not happy with the organization’s culpability in this outbreak. There was even talk of refusing to play, choosing instead to engage in a wildcat strike and forfeit the game in protest. They were that angry. If the Ravens had flexed their labor power, they would have continued the actions by NBA and WNBA players over the summer who struck for racial justice following the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The Ravens threatened to join other workers in using the strike to make demands about their health and safety during this pandemic. Had they gone through with it, they would have been in direct conflict with their union, the NFL Players Association, which signed on to this idea that games would be delayed but not cancelled, or players on both teams would be forfeiting game checks. It would have been a radical act in defense of their own health, because who really knows if more players have Covid at this point? That puts the Steelers players at risk as well. Announcers have fallen over themselves to praise the NFL and the union for playing every game on the schedule without cancellation, even though many teams have had players ruled ineligible; even though 28 of the 32 clubs, according to Sports Illustrated, have been in the league’s Covid protocol; even though the Broncos had to play Sunday without a quarterback and even though the Ravens were beaten—albeit barely—with just half a team on the field.
If there is one thing we have learned about sports in the pandemic it is that unless you are able to convince the players to get in a hermetically sealed bubble to play and also to live, outbreaks are inevitable. The NFL has tried to brazen its way through the pandemic. Given the right wing, macho ethos of the league’s franchise owners, this is not surprising. But it is another example of the unmitigated disaster that has been the United States’s response to the pandemic under Trump’s leadership.
Sports writer Jane McManus was correct when she wrote that sports are the reward for a functioning society. Our society is not functioning, and our athletes will suffer just as surely as the rest of us.
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MEANWHILE, AT THE PHILO ORGASM CULT
by Stephanie Linning
A former employee of a wellness company that has been dubbed an “orgasm cult” has revealed how she was encouraged to form a relationship with a wealthy man who could pay for her “orgasmic meditation” classes costing thousands of dollars.
The woman, identified only as Michal, spoke to journalist Nastaran Tavakoli-Far for BBC podcast The Orgasm Cult, which is exploring the dark side of wellness company OneTaste, which is under investigation by the FBI over allegations including sex trafficking, prostitution and violations of labor laws.
The company, founded by “messianic” leader Nicole Daedone, focused on the practice of “orgasmic meditation,” which involves a woman, naked from the waist down, having her clitoris “stroked” for 15 minutes by a man, either her own partner or another paying customer.
Thousands of customers signed up to learn orgasmic meditation, or OM, with OneTaste, attracted by Daedone's promises it could improve their sex life, help them to “reclaim their sexuality” and even aide in recovery from sexual trauma. She also insisted that the practice would one day be widely used like yoga or meditation and made the broad claim that it would “change the world.”
Among them was Michal, who was working as an assistant teacher in New York when she first tried a OneTaste introductory class some five years ago. Then 28-years-old, Michal was drawn in by the promise that she would have an orgasm, something she had never experienced despite years of seeking help from doctors and psychiatrists.
A former employee, identified only as Michal, spoke to journalist Nastaran Tavakoli-Far of BBC podcast The Orgasm Cult, which is exploring the dark side of wellness company OneTaste, which is under investigation by the FBI over allegations including sex trafficking, prostitution and violations of labor laws.
Orgasmic meditation involves a woman, naked from the waist down, having her clitoris “stroked” for 15 minutes by a man, either her own partner or another paying customer. Pictured, a couple practice orgasmic meditation under the guidance of a British instructor in 2018
“Nobody that I talked to before OneTaste could promise me that I would have an orgasm,” she explained. “And at OneTaste people promised me that I was able to, not only have an orgasm, but have the most amazing orgasm, right away. So it was like at OneTaste I felt saturated with hope.”
“I was nervous and excited about what I would find,” she said of her first OneTaste event. “As soon as I walked into the room I remember everybody looked very bright and energized and the women seemed very confident and friendly...
“They knew had to make it feel like a party and make it feel upbeat. Usually when women or people get together to talk about women's sexuality it is usually done in whispers or it's a bit uncomfortable... But here it was like a celebration. For me that was powerful because for so many years I had felt like I had to whisper and nudge about it.”
Soon Michal was introduced to the practice of orgasmic meditation, also known as OM.
Michal continued: “It was a very strange experience... I was completely sober, taking my pants and underwear off in front of a guy - I didn't even know his name at the time - in a room full of 80 other people, or more, as if that was normal...
Orgasmic meditation is a 15 minute partner practice that involves a woman removing her underwear and lying down on a “nest” of pillows or another comfortable position.
The stroker, often a man, sits next to her on his own pillows and lightly and deliberately strokes her clitoris.
The stroker focuses solely on the upper-left-hand quadrant of the clitoris, the so-called “one o'clock” position.
This continues for 15 minutes, until a timer goes off.
The aim is not necessarily to orgasm but simply to “feel” the sensation as intensely as possible.
It affects the same parts of the human brain as conventional meditation.
“I didn't feel much that first time. It wasn't sexually pleasing but what was exhilarating was this kind of freedom and agency that I was doing something to help myself and that I wasn't afraid of my body.”
Before she left the class that day, a OneTaste employee had convinced Michal to sign up to the “next level” of classes - a coaching program - despite her protestations that she couldn't afford the $12,000 price tag.
Michal claims the employee encouraged her to sign up for a credit card in order to cover costs, even finding the application form on her laptop.
“When I stepped out of there I thought ‘oh my god, I'm in so much s***’, ‘I'm in such big trouble What am I going to do with this debt?’,” Michal recalls.
Within a month and a half Michal had quit her job and moved out of her rented apartment in order to move into one of the “OM houses,” a communal property where OneTaste members and employees lived together, while practicing OM several times a day.
While Michal initially enjoyed the benefits of orgasmic meditation and the new sensations it brought, over time she began to feel pressured to take part in group OM sessions, even when she didn't want to.
She continued: “I was expected to practice four times a day, every day. Whether I had my period, whether I was sick... The choice of "do you want to have somebody touch you sexually?" was not something that was available to me.”
Michal said that if she did express hesitations, the teachers would turn the problem on her.
“OneTaste teachers and higher ups would tell you ‘what's the real problem?’ or ‘what are you scared of?’ or ‘what are you hiding?’ or ‘you're not serious enough about your practice’,” she said. “Towards the end of my time there, I really didn't want to wake up in the morning and practice. I started having a real averse emotional reaction to practicing, I would start having crying fits.
“I became less and less prone to speaking out about those things because every time I did, it appeared that the problem was not outside of me, it was inside of me. It was my fault I was having doubt.”
OneTaste was founded in 2004 by Nicole Daedone and promotes wellness through orgasmic meditation. OneTaste is currently not allowed to offer classes while the FBI makes inquiries about its activities, including allegations of “sex trafficking, prostitution and violations of labor laws,” a podcast has claimed.
Michal, who worked at a juice bar near the OM house, joined the team responsible for selling the courses to new members. She was paid “a few hundred dollars” commission for the few that she did sell, and was given a “couple” of one-off payments by more senior staff to “pay rent and get by.”
However it was not nearly enough to cover the cost of continued OneTaste classes and retreats, which she was told would help her. She also wanted to be “closer” to Nicole, something that has been echoed by a number of former members and employees.
“It is like being a fan of a musician or an actor and wanting to be on the front row and see them play,” she said, explaining the situation. “I wanted to be closer to Nicole, I wanted to be like Nicole, I wanted to be liked by Nicole.”
Michal spent close to a year with OneTaste and over that time her debt got “bigger and bigger.” She continued: “I started using my credit card for everything... That [money] was not something you could really talk about. They would say something along the lines of "in orgasm world you get what you deserve".”
Nicole Daedone hails from California and described Silicone Valley as her “home” in a 2013 lecture.
Before focusing her attentions on orgasmic meditation, the author and entrepreneur, The San Francisco State University graduate founded the 111 Minna Gallery in the SoMa district.
She went on to study with teachers of yoga, Kabbalah, and Buddhist meditation.
It is thought Daedone was introduced to orgasmic meditation in the early 2000s by a Buddhist monk, who demonstrated the practice in a private session.
She founded OneTaste in 2004, packaging orgasmic meditation in a palatable format and by 2009 was on the cover of The New York Times’ Style section.
Daedone wrote a guide to orgasmic meditation, Slow Sex: the art and craft of the female orgasm, in 2012.
In 2017, the company made $12 million in revenue.
Vanity Fair named Daedone in its list of “Twelve Women Who Changed the Way We Look at Sex” and around 900,000 people have viewed her Ted talk, entitled Orgasm, the Cure for Hunger in Western Woman.
OneTaste suggested she could cover the cost of the classes - which rose to $60,000 for an annual membership - by getting someone to pay for her.
Michal explained: “There were many very well-paid men who were part of OneTaste. They usually had tech jobs or other high paying jobs. Some were older but others were in their 20s, 30s and 40s. The ratio between men who had money and women who didn't was pretty extreme.
“So men who came into OneTaste looking for more sexual experiences with women were in this perfect position where they could pay for women's classes, take those classes with them, and in that way become their partners or boyfriends.”
OneTaste leadership team introduced Michal to a wealthy man based in San Francisco who was willing to pay for her classes.
“He wasn't my type, I wasn't sexually attracted to him and yet he had this great power because he was willing to spend thousands and thousands of dollars on me to take those classes that I was told would have a great healing effect and teach me everything I need to know,” she said. “So it's not exactly prostitution but it's also not completely different.”
The group also taught that the most powerful sexual encounters emerged from pairings of two people who were not physically attracted to each other.
Michal said: “One of the laws of orgasm is "aversion". I remember being told that orgasm happens outside of your preferences so if you're feeling an aversion, like an actual physical aversion to someone, it actually means if you were to get with him, you would have really hot sex.”
Michal started getting ill and had a number of questionable sexual encounters over the months she was there, including with male teachers at the company.
She continued: “I was consenting to sex I didn't want to have with people who were more advanced in OneTaste.
“I thought that they were supposedly so attuned to a woman's body and such experts in OneTaste that they knew what they were doing so well that if I would have told them to stop, or that if something didn't feel good or that I didn't like what they were doing that I would in some way seem not so sexually evolved.
“I remember several times that I had sex and I felt like my voice was stuck in my throat. I remember thinking "this is hurting me" but being unable to say so.”
By the end of her time with OneTaste, Michal had started showing symptoms of dissociation, which can manifest in a number of ways ranging from detachment to a psychotic episode.
Michal said she is still dealing with the psychological effects of her experience years later.
She added: “When you are disassociated you don't experience the immediate harm that is taking place but it accumulates so that when you leave and your mind and body heal over time you suddenly have to process all the trauma that took place. I would say that I'm still going through... There are many sexual encounters that I remember but that are kind of fuzzy memories and there are memories that I have not yet fully processed, and I don't know if I ever will.”
A OneTaste representative told MailOnline in response to a previous story about the company: “Any allegations of abusive practices are completely false. OneTaste was an organization that helped individuals to increase health, happiness and connection through methods combining mindfulness and sexuality.
“More than 300,000 people practice Orgasmic Meditation worldwide. Many have experienced profound healing and transformation.”
The podcast, which will be 10 episodes in total, will also explore the wider wellness industry and the way it interacts with its largely female customer base.
BBC Podcast: The Orgasm Cult: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0903bvv