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WIND-DRIVEN SNOW SNARLED home-bound traffic throughout the county last night, as the anticipated winter storm blasted the Northcoast with pounding rains and unprecedentedly heavy snows in the hills, closing highways 101, 20, 253, and all their feeder branches. Traffic was snarled by 5pm Tuesday evening on the Ukiah end of Highway 253 as up to a foot of thick, wet snow blanketed areas of the Ukiah Valley. Boonville-bound commuters were stalled in the snow as several vehicles slid off the pavement while others stalled in the road, blocking Caltrans from clearing the snow that would free them in both directions. As the wind-driven snow and rain picked up momentum more vehicles rolled off the road without sufficient traction to return to it, even if there were no other vehicles blocking their short return to the pavement. Although the Caltrans road status website at first said 253 was clear for traffic, a quick call to the Sheriff’s non-emergency number was answered by a helpful woman who said emergency responders and CHP were aware of the problem and were on the way to the Ukiah-Boonville Road with at least one tow truck expected after that. A cell-phone caller to the AVA around 6pm said they were completely stuck and didn’t know when they’d be able to return to Boonville.
Around 7:30pm Caltrans issued a brief update: “Route 253 is fully closed in Mendocino County from its intersection with Route 128 to 3 miles west of the intersection with U.S. 101 due to heavy snow.” This was soon followed soon by a facebook post: “Caltrans reported that cars stalled on the Ukiah Boonville Road are making it impossible to clear the road of snow and gravel the pavement.” (The nearest Caltrans road yard is in Boonville so they’d have to clear the higher elevations of 253 with greater amounts of snow to even get to the site of the original pile-up. )
By 10pm we heard that a few cars were crawling out of the snow-covered tangle and slowly making their way back to Ukiah or Highway 101. More tow trucks will be required before the mess is cleared up, but by midnight Caltrans, with its Boonville-based crew working all night, had freed the remaining vehicles mired in the heavy snow.
The storm was the fiercest old timers can remember.
W.T. JOHNSON of the Boonville-based county road crew reported last night about 6pm: "Mt view road is closed 10 miles from boonville do to heavy snow and a large tree across the whole road me and my crew will be working to clean it up tomorrow morning thanks for your understanding."
A BOONVILLE MAN COMMENTS: "What has happened to people ? I mean seriously, in my 50+ years they never had to close down highway 253 because 30, yes 30! people couldn't drive in the snow and they clogged up the highway for everyone else. Good lord people its not that difficult."
CALTRANS UPDATE (8:57 PM): U.S. Highway 101 will remain fully closed OVERNIGHT due to heavy snow, falling trees and hazardous conditions. Crews are mobilizing now to be on site early tomorrow morning to clean up and open up the highway as soon as possible. We will provide updates as soon as they are available.
TRAFFIC ALERT: All lanes of U.S. Highway 101 have been closed from Cummings to just north of Laytonville (Mendocino County) due to snow. We will provide updates as they become available.
FROM lostcoastoutpost.com: It’s getting pretty wild on the roads out there! Caltrans reports that the stretch of Highway 101 between Cummings and Laytonville is currently closed to traffic as crews work to clear snow from the roadway there. Elsewhere, there are chain controls in effect on Highway 299 starting at Berry Summit and on Highway 36 starting just west of Dinsmore.
AND FROM the National Weather Service: A winter storm continues to influence the area. Additional rain and snow is expected into the weekend and early next week.
RAINFALL SINCE YESTERDAY: Boonville 2.1", Yorkville 1.9"
29 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County on Tuesday bringing total 3322.
PG&E OUTAGE MAP
NAVARRO RIVER HWY 128 WATCH
by Nicholas Wilson
There is a chance of Hwy 128 flooding in the early morning Wednesday. If it happens it probably will not last more than an hour or two.
I checked the river at the Hwy 1 bridge this evening about 5:30 and found the level about 4-5 ft. below the Hwy 128 roadway. The USGS gauge reading at that time was 2.2 ft.
However if the rain continues tonight as forecast, a level rise is expected begin about midnight and reach a crest of 9.2 ft. at 1:00 PM. That would be a 7 ft. rise from the present level.
The Navarro mouth sandbar is currently closed and blocking the river from flowing into the ocean. The predicted surge will certainly open a new channel through the sandbar, but before it does so there is a chance that backed up water will reach the Hwy 128 roadway. Based on the NWS Navarro chart forecast, the most likely time of flooding is between 3 AM and 6 AM. Hopefully the sandbar will yield before that flooding occurs, but if flooding does occur it will probably not last more than an hour or two before the sandbar opens and lets the water flow out.
Because of severe storm conditions it would be wise not to plan to use 128 to or from the coast from now until about noon Wednesday, even if Caltrans doesn't close it. I saw no Caltrans crew watching the situation at the 0.18 mile marker, but the crew comes out of the Boonville Caltrans yard, so it doesn't take long to get there. Gusty winds have already littered the road with fallen branches and foliage.
Best to stay home, warm, dry and safe.
NWS Navarro Gauge forecast chart: https://water.weather.gov/ahps2/hydrograph.php?wfo=eka&gage=nvrc1
LOCAL COMMUNITY HEALTH CLINICS DISTRIBUTE COVID-19 VACCINE
Fort Bragg, CA — In partnership with Mendocino County Public Health and Adventist Health, local community health clinics have vaccinated more than 2,400 Mendocino County residents. In Boonville, Anderson Valley Health Center vaccinated 570 people. In Willits, Baechtel Creek Medical Clinic vaccinated 30, representing all the vaccine they received from the County. In North County, Long Valley Health Center vaccinated 220. On the coast, Mendocino Coast Clinics (MCC) vaccinated 675 people and Redwood Coast Medical Services vaccinated 905.
“Despite scarcity of the vaccine, once the county has provided it, the clinics have mobilized to get their communities vaccinated,” said MCC Executive Director Lucresha Renteria.
Community health centers are well-positioned to connect with the people first in line for the vaccine and have been following County guidance to this effect. The County’s vaccine distribution plan can be found at mendocinocounty.org/community/novel-coronavirus/covid-19-vaccinations.
The phased approach gives preference to healthcare workers, people 75 and older, and people in essential job sectors such as education, childcare, emergency services, and food and agriculture.
The County’s access to both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is limited, and community health clinics can only distribute what they receive. Renteria is hopeful that with additional federal funding to increase vaccine production and distribution, local supplies will increase. Until then, she encourages people to continue to follow safety measures such as masking and social distancing.
Another way to limit the spread of COVID-19 is continued surveillance testing, available countywide from private healthcare providers, community health clinics, and Public Health. Testing is available at no charge on the coast by appointment at MCC and through OptumServe on Tuesdays from 9:00 a.m.to 5:00 p.m. at the Veteran’s Hall at 360 N. Harrison Street in Fort Bragg where tests are first come, first serve. Inland free testing is available daily from 7:00 a.m. — 7:00 p.m. through OptumServe at the Redwood Empire Fairgrounds located at 1055 N. State Street in Ukiah. For OptumServe testing, people should register online at lhi.care/covidtesting before arriving to get a Patient ID Number.
For more information, call the Mendocino County COVID Call Center at (707) 472-2759 Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. — 5:00 p.m.
(Alliance for Rural Community Health (ARCH) is a collaboration of six community health centers in Mendocino County, California. Our purpose is to develop and expand collaborative ways of addressing community health care issues in a cost-effective and efficient manner. Learn more at ruralcommunityhealth.org.)
DISHONEST BOOKKEEPER TO SERVE LOCAL PRISON TERM FOR STEALING FROM EMPLOYER
UKIAH - At the conclusion of a contested sentencing hearing on Tuesday, defendant Sonia Lucia Lau of Ukiah was handcuffed and taken from a Mendocino County Superior Court courtroom Tuesday morning to the Low Gap jail to begin serving a local prison sentence.
Lau was convicted by plea on Dec. 1, 2020 of eight separate felony counts of embezzling money from her employer while working as the bookkeeper. Included in and covered by the eight counts were 1,194 separate acts of theft by Lau.
Finding the underlying facts to be aggravating, the Court sentenced the defendant to 92 months in the local prison, the maximum sentence allowed by law.
However, as also allowed by the 2011 Realignment laws, the Court “split” the defendant’s prison sentence so she will only have to serve 24 months incarceration with 68 months to follow on “mandatory supervision.”
As part of the Realignment legislative package passed by the California Legislature in 2011, a split sentence allows a judge to split local “prison time” between actual incarceration and a period of community supervision supposedly by a county probation officer.
Because of that same legislation, Lau will only have to serve one-half of the prison sentence as ordered, meaning 12 months in jail.
While both the prosecutor and the probation department agreed that a presumptive split sentence was appropriate, District Attorney David Eyster argued at the hearing that the split should be 48 months incarceration with 44 months to follow on mandatory supervision. The Adult Probation Department had recommended a split of 36 months incarceration with 56 months to follow on mandatory supervision. The final sentence as ordered undercut both of those recommendations to the defendant’s advantage.
As mandated by law, the defendant was ordered to repay $204,492.43 in restitution to the victim. She was also ordered to pay that restitution at the rate of at least $1,000 per month. But as pointed out by the DA, the legal rate of interest on restitution debts is 10% per annum. “Even if she makes payments as ordered each and every month, the restitution payments being ordered will never come close to even touching the stolen principle that is owed,” said Eyster.
As noted in the probation report, the victim reported that Lau had worked for him for 15 years. He had known Lau since she was a teenager and, later on, had financially helped her to purchase a home. The defendant admitted she was treated like a surrogate daughter by the victim.
As cruel repayment for the victim's kindness, it was uncovered during the investigation, for example, that Lau spent $15,000 of the victim’s money in one week attending San Francisco Giants baseball games. On another outing, she spent $12,000 of the victim’s money attending an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fight night. The victim also unknowingly paid for the defendant’s breast augmentation. And the victim is still saddled with paying off over $50,000 in credit card debt that was rung up by Lau.
The law enforcement agency that investigated this case and developed the necessary evidence to support the convictions was the Ukiah Police Department.
The prosecutor who originally filed the charges and handled the case through today’s sentencing hearing is DA Eyster.
Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Carly Dolan presided over today’s sentencing hearing.
FROM SUPERVISOR WILLIAMS
At present, we anticipate the county receiving vaccines this week in quantity sufficient for 100 first doses and scheduled second doses.
I have hundreds of messages from people eager to execute on age based priority. Supply this week has stalled efforts. It’s not public health or private clinics that are bottleneck, but rather supply.
The county only has a few days visibility. We can’t give answers about what will be possible next week because we simply don’t know.
AT THE SUPE'S MEETING today, Supervisor McGourty alertly pulled the Boonville Fairgrounds perc test item from the consent calendar where it had been both misplaced in another category and obscured by the usual cryptic language agenda items are written in. My colleague, The Major, will present much more extensive coverage of the issue which, today, was merely a discussion, and a thorough one, of a perc test for the west area of the Boonville Fairgrounds where, assuming a sewer project for central Boonville is voted in, a treatment plant might rest. The treatment facility would be about the size of a semi-trailer and designed to be architecturally consistent with other Fairgrounds structures. (A low architectural bar indeed. The original Fairgrounds structures were quite attractive, even majestic, reminiscent of an old ballpark. The present structures are your standard-issue medium-security prison jobs; in fact, the entire facility has a prison feel, even with five thousand people in it.)
WOULD the sewage operation smell? Proponents say No. The latest technology is supposed to be odor-free.
AS AN AFFECTED property owner, I don't need either the sewage system or the water project, but I'm not opposed to seeing the project plans completed and presented for a vote, which it will be some day at which time it will be voted down because most people don't want it because they fear the financial burden of water and sewage charges they are presently free of. Some also feel basic infrastructure would somehow lead to growth. And some are simply opposed to life in the 21st century.
THE EIR for the project requires that all potential sites for the sewage processing apparatus be considered. Today's 5-0 vote to proceed with a perc test for the Fairgrounds doesn't warrant the hysteria with which it was met by local opponents, including members of the Fair Board. Debra Cahn of Fairgrounds-adjacent Pennyroyal Farms already has a lawyer on the case for the opposition. A perc test is not a leach field or a sewage treatment plant. And the putative system's requirements include perc tests of all likely sites. The CSD Board has gone out of its way to consider sites other than the Fairgrounds.
THE FAIR BOARD jealously guards the dozen acres of the Fairgrounds (owned by the County), setting use fees so high the grounds are vacant most of the time except at Fair time or an occasional stoner event over a weekend, and those events have dried up and blown away. Fair booth fees border on extortionate, meaning participation is more and more limited to fewer and fewer organizations and events. If a sewage treatment plant were going to be installed in the Fairgrounds office I'd vote for it, but as it stands, and realistically, the project has zero chance to be approved. The funding will run out before the opponents run out of breath and lawyers.
THE ENTIRE DISCUSSION seems mildly 5150 given the catastrophic events in the great world beyond the Anderson Valley. As covid recedes, there is going to be a mad scramble for public money, and Boonville has never been a priority with any state or federal agency even before The Great Crash presently underway.
AS IT HAPPENS, with the big rains commencing, I plan to do my daily aerobic workout in the shelter of the Fairgrounds bullring bleachers. The last rainy day I worked out there a rural Karen suddenly appeared to say, “Sorry, sir, you have to leave.” Uh, why? “Liability issues, sir.” Uh, whose? “The Fairgrounds, sir.” Uh, in that case I'll carry on.
REUTERS REPORTS that a majority of Republicans voted Tuesday that Trump's second impeachment is unconstitutional, a strong sign that Trump will be acquitted in his upcoming trial. Republican Senator Rand Paul forced the Senate to vote on the issue, arguing the trial was illegal given that Trump no longer occupies the Oval Office. A majority of Republicans, including GOP Leader Mitch McConnell agreed with him: 45 Republicans voted it was illegal but five GOP senators joined Democrats to give them 55 votes to proceed on the matter. Those 45 are also likely to vote for Trump's acquittal when the time comes.
UKIAH POLICE OFFICER, Kevin Murray, presently in big trouble for a non-sanctioned interface with a sex worker in a Ukiah motel, is also the central figure in an excessive force case against his department, which is still working its way through the federal court: leagle.com/decision/infdco20200516k67
YOSEMITE PEOPLE--online exhibition opens Feb. 1 at Grace Hudson
The Grace Hudson Museum presents "Yosemite People," an online exhibition opening to the public on February 1 and running through April 11. Museum members have exclusive access to the show now until Feb. 1, at which time it will be opened to all. Visit www.gracehudsonmuseum.org and scroll down to the event announcement to access a link to the show.
The complex and nuanced relationships between people and Yosemite’s natural wonders come to life in this new online exhibition from Exhibit Envoy. The show features photographs from award-winning artist Jonas Kulikauskas, who brings his street photography sensibilities to the wilderness. His sharp eye reveals crowds clamoring to take the perfect selfie with Half Dome in the background and families cooling off in Tenaya Creek, while servers prep for diners at the Ahwahnee Hotel and rangers patrol the expansive Park.
POMO STORIES ONLINE--FEB. 4
On Thursday, February 4, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., the Grace Hudson Museum will present an evening of traditional storytelling to be enjoyed in your own home. Master storyteller Eric Wilder tells traditional Kashia stories that incorporate his own illustrations. Wilder is a Kashia Tribal Member and a visual artist.
To join, go to www.gracehudsonmuseum.org and scroll down to the event description, which will provide a link to the Go To Meeting platform.
SOMETHING FISHY IN NOYO HARBOR
Is there something fishy happening at the Noyo Harbor Commission?
Editorial by Marianne McGee MA/ABS
There is much activity at the Noyo Harbor Commission, with changes in Commission members, staff and a flurry of rumors. While this is a legal body subject to government regulations, there is very little accurate information available to understand what is happening there. In Calendar Year 2020 the Commission only held about 4 meetings with 3 meetings minutes available on their website, which is confusing. The only publicly available recordings ever done of their meetings were when Mendocino TV recorded them in 2018/2019.
Read the rest here: mendocinotv.com/2021/01/24/something-is-fishy-in-noyo-harbor/
CATCH OF THE DAY, January 26, 2021
FRANK CABRAL, Laytonville. Failure to appear.
RAMON MACIEL, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
JOSHUA NEESE, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
THE POLITICAL FALLOUT FROM THE CAPITOL HILL INVASION MAY PROVE MORE SIGNIFICANT THAN 911
by Patrick Cockburn
I was always worried when I had to enter the Green Zone in Baghdad at a time when its entrances were under frequent attack by suicide bombers driving vehicles filled with explosives.
Being blown up by al-Qaeda in Iraq was not the only danger. The soldiers guarding the outer checkpoints of the zone were understandably nervous and would shoot at any vehicle they thought was coming too close to them. Once, I had to cower down behind a concrete barrier as they fired at a battered old car which had stalled just in front of their position.
I recalled the old Baghdad Green Zone this week as 25,000 National Guards established a well-defended area with the same name in the centre of Washington. The overt purpose was to protect the inauguration of Joe Biden as president and US security agencies, caught on the hop by the invasion of the Capitol on 6 January, were busy slamming the stable door long after the immediate crisis was over.
The Democrats and the largely Trump-hating media want to portray the alt-right rioters as “domestic terrorists” who had staged an abortive “insurrection” in order to stop Biden taking office. Clearly, some members of the mob would have liked to do just that, but, despite the impression given by all those blood-curdling video films, this was not a “coup” in the sense of an organized attempt to seize power. Any suggestion that the US capital faced a threat anything like that to the Green Zone in Baghdad 15 years ago is an absurd exaggeration.
What we are seeing is political theatre, which is scarcely surprising since we have seen little else during Donald Trump’s four years in the White House. It is fitting that the end of the Trump presidency was marked by two events – the Capitol invasion and the exaggerated military response to it – that hover between theatre and reality.
At one level, it is gratifying to see the Republicans, who last year came close to winning the presidential election by pretending that Black Lives Matter protests were a “terrorist” insurgency, now claiming to be the defenders of sober truth and piously expressing dismay that the Democrats should be endangering national unity. This is a classic case of biter bit and hypocrisy run rampant.
In reality, the Republican leadership is frightened by the idea that “1/6” will become the new “9/11,” permanently demonizing them and splitting their party. A billboard in one Trump-voting rural county in Texas spells this out, denouncing “treasonous RINOs” – Republicans in name only – who refused to back Trump’s claim that he had lost the election through fraud.
For all Biden’s talk of “unity,” the Democrats have an opportunity to extract political blood from the Republicans and are not going to pass it up. If they play their cards right, they can exploit the shambolic invasion of the Capitol for years, just as the Republicans did 9/11. The loss of life is very different – five dead compared to 2,977 – but in terms of perception the two events have significant features in common.
Both were highly visible even by the standards of round-the-clock news coverage: the image of the planes crashing into the Twin Towers was seared into the minds of Americans by repeated showings. Every detail of the takeover of the Capitol is likewise known to the world because the supposed revolutionaries spent much time taking film of themselves. Politics has always been a form of theatre but satellite television and the internet means that today the whole world really is its stage.
The Democrats have been dealt a strong hand but it is an easy one to overplay. In the long term, 9/11 succeeded far better than Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda could have hoped because it provoked a disastrous overreaction by President George W Bush, who pursued his “war on terror”, launching two disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and openly legitimising America’s use of torture and rendition.
Over-exploitation of 1/6 for short political gain could likewise be counter-productive if it targets too broad a swathe of Republicans. The gambit of former supporters of Trump on Fox News is to claim that all the 74 million Americans who voted for him are being unfairly demonised. Big business may be hurriedly distancing itself from Trump and Trumpism, but its revulsion may not last as plutocrats recall what he delivered for them in terms of tax cuts and deregulation.
It is doubtful if Trump himself could lead a resurgence of Trumpism after his Nero-like inaction during the pandemic, nor will he easily escape the explosive consequences of his belligerent demagoguery addressed to his supporters before they went on to storm the Capitol. Regardless of just how far he egged them on, their lawyers will presumably be telling their clients that it is much in their interests to claim that they believed that they were obeying a direct order from the president, without which they would not have stirred an illegal finger.
I believe a Trumpian resurrection would be very difficult because the danger he poses to so many has been so graphically demonstrated over the last four years. He no longer has the advantage of surprise and of opponents, Republican and Democrat, who underestimate him.
His great skill continues to be his mastery of modern communications, notably Twitter and television, but his chronicle of ineptitude in office showed that he had mastered nothing else.
His chaotic rule appropriately culminated in his catastrophic mishandling of the Covid-19 epidemic and 400,000 Americans dead. Yet even then, he only just lost the election, showing the vast size of the constituency to whom he appeals.
As he retreats to Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Trump remains an obsession for America and the world. The prospect of his political revival is thankfully less than a few weeks ago when it seemed possible that he might set up his own television station, stage mass rallies, and claim that he had been robbed of the presidency. Today he probably has too many powerful enemies, now in control of government, for a comeback.
Yet the social, economic and cultural causes of the rise of Trump are still there. Broadly speaking, the neo-liberal economics dominant for 40 years since the age of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher have produced unsustainable inequality. This is not just an American phenomenon. Trump is, after all, only the American variant in a range of populist nationalist autocrats who have taken power around the world from Brazil to Turkey and from Hungary to the Philippines.
America has always been more deeply divided by race and class than most Americans and almost all foreigners realised. The repeated, rather desperate, appeals for unity at Biden’s inauguration serve only to emphasise the divisions. Given the depths of the hatreds and fears, it is surprising that there has not been more violence.
In the 1960s, turmoil in America was typified by demonstrations and riots, but above all else by assassination, something which we have yet to see this time around. Biden spoke of ending the “uncivil war” but this has lain beneath the surface of American life since independence and will not end now.
Patrick Cockburn is the author of War in the Age of Trump (Verso). Courtesy, CounterPunch.org)
WHY IT MATTERS
Immigrants, asylum seekers and Dreamers like me have endured four years of attacks from the Trump administration.
Even though I can breathe a sigh of relief with this new administration, the uncertainty of my status remains the same.
This is why President Biden’s proposal to overhaul our nation’s immigration system matters.
Millions of undocumented immigrants are currently serving as essential workers, and yet have not received any sort of assistance in previous Covid-19 relief packages.
I urge Congress and the Biden administration to finally pass immigration reforms, and am hopeful that they will.
NO PLAYERS inducted to baseball's Hall of Fame as Schilling and Bonds miss cut.
The baseball Hall of Fame won’t have any new players in the class of 2021 after voters decided no one had the merits on-the-field or off for enshrinement in Cooperstown on this year’s ballot.
ON LINE COMMENTS OF THE DAY #1 & #2
Why do we need a vaccine for such a benign disease? Over 99% survive it. Even if you are over 80 your chance of surviving it is 97%. My daughter has it right now and all she suffers is a stuffy nose, a slight cough, and a complete loss of her sense of smell and taste. She is a little more tired than usual, but no fever, no headaches, no aches and pains, and she’s no spring chicken, she’s nearly 40 and a smoker. She works at home, and she doesn’t find herself ill enough to stop working. She’s starting to recover. We’ve only seen a fraction of the 50 to 100 million dead suffered during the Spanish flu, when the world’s population was only about a billion. The current hysteria appears to be unwarranted. Covid, and the deaths attributable to it, appears to have subsumed the seasonal flu entirely, The statistics of deaths from all causes in 2020 is actually slightly improved from 2019–closer to 2018, which is surprising, given we’re in the middle of a deadly pandemic.
“Why do we need a vaccine for such a benign disease?”
If a man of 50 (men account for 70% of the dead) with kids of 12 and 14 dies of it, it’s not terribly helpful to his wife to know that he was an outlier and the vast majority of people in his demographic were hunky dory.
Flu is much less infectious than Covid and we have flu vaccines, albeit never perfect.
You don’t want either? Don’t take them.
Doctors and nurses have died; teachers have died; bus drivers have died; care home workers have died; shop workers have died. Not all of these people get death-in-service benefits for their families or can afford life insurance. And by definition they’re not 80. So they may choose to get a vaccination, despite social shaming of the kind that goes on here.
Nobody is making you take it, even while people can’t get medical treatment they need because their hospital is full of Covid patients.
I hope nobody will make you take it – directly or indirectly.
NEW AUTO SAFETY REPORT Demands Biden Strengthen Federal Programs Now
by Ralph Nader
Today the New York Times rediscovered its previous auto safety news beat that blossomed in the 1960s after my book, Unsafe at Any Speed (1965) caused an uproar in Detroit. Reporter Christopher Jensen told New York Times readers about a new report by a coalition of six automotive safety groups demanding that the new Biden Administration recharge the moribund, industry-dominated National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) with strong leadership, adequate budget, and long-overdue, proven vehicle safety standards.
Since its creation by Congress in 1966, NHTSA has had some bright moments which made motor vehicles more crash-worthy and operationally safer, with less pollution and more fuel efficiency. Since then, over four million lives have been saved and many more injuries prevented. Property damage was diminished and insurance premiums were lower than they would have been had the “wild west” non-regulation, “style over safety” manias been allowed to continue. Laissez-faire runs amok.
In recent decades, however, under both Democratic and Republican Administrations, NHTSA was degraded into more of a sporadic, meek consultant to the auto giants, instead of a strong law enforcement agency. Its Administrators wafted sleepily in their few years at the helm and then retired to lucrative positions in the industry they failed to regulate.
To the extent that NHTSA did anything significant, it was due to a small band of gritty citizen safety advocates such as Joan Claybrook, the prime author of this report, Clarence Ditlow of the Center for Auto Safety, and the insurance-industry-funded Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety led until recently by Jackie Gillan and now Cathy Chase. These advocates used the tools of litigation and lobbying to protect all of us, receiving little recognition for their unsung and life-saving endeavors.
Alas for the most part, at NHTSA, the routine was official inaction, not considered “news” by the mass media. Standards not issued nor strengthened, recalls not ordered, penalties not applied, data not compiled by make and model, safety research vehicles not funded and chronic secrecy by the auto companies and government not qualifying as “newsworthy.” A few high-profile auto defect scandals, often exposed when manufacturers were sued by tort lawyers, were widely reported, but the news coverage rarely included NHTSA’s inaction and institutional abandonment by Congress and the White House.
The revival of the federal government’s motor vehicle safety/pollution/fuel efficiency missions must start with Congressional hearings for updated, stronger laws, including criminal penalties for refusal by auto companies to recall defective or noncompliant vehicles, legislatively mandated safety advances, and more capacity and funding for NHTSA’s tiny budget, now far less than what is spent on military bands!
With distracted driving and ever more vehicles on more crowded highways, fatalities (including pedestrian casualties) started to increase pre-Covid.
The media, on its part, should not be distracted by the hype around a premature autonomous vehicle and super smart highways. Every day, people are dying in the old-fashioned ways that could be prevented by long-ready, better-handling and crash-protective vehicles.
Imagine the benefits of safer vehicles with far more environmentally benign engines and adequate funding for cost-effective public investment in new forms of public transit and upgrading existing mass transit. Getting around on the ground should include many diverse forms of arriving at one’s destination in a timely, safe, and environmentally preferable manner.
The Claybrook report titled, Safer Vehicles and Highways: 4.2 million U.S. Lives Spared Since 1966, is very specific about what needs to be done. New technical talent is needed at NHTSA in this era of electric cars, autonomous safety assists, and the computerization of motor vehicles vulnerable to hacking.
A tougher position on recalls is essential. “Automakers continue efforts to minimize expensive recall costs by delaying the recall, narrowing the scope of a recall, or denying the defect,” declares the report.
Moreover, many of the safety features and performance levels in your vehicle have not been updated for years in practical, cost-effective ways long urged by the more innovative automotive suppliers. These include child safety safeguards.
It is time for the Biden people, under the new Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg, to catch up and end the soporific record of their predecessors, including that of those from the Obama/Biden Administration. (See: Jerry Cox Steven Bradbury and Why 30 Million Takata Airbags Are Not being Recalled).
The French have a saying “the more things change the more they remain the same.” That applies to the auto company executive-suite culture. In their comfortable atriums, they arrange for deniability while they press for immunity from criminal and tort laws. They still preside over obscure financing and advertising deceptions. They still dangle before buyers of their less expensive vehicles, over-priced options for long-amortized safety improvements that are standard equipment on higher-priced vehicles so as to pressure them to upgrade.
They still instruct their lobbyists to go to Congress with one message “NO, NO, NO” to long-delayed improvements for motorists to reduce the casualty toll on the highway and the various economic costs associated with such stagnant corporate stubbornness.
Biden promises a New Day from Trumpism. Let’s see if he and his team can provide America with a New Day of Public Safety from callous corporatism on the nation’s roadways.
Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!
EZRA POUND, ALLEN GINSBERG, & FERNANDA PIVANO, Allen’s Italian translator & friend, Portofino, September 1967, photographed by Nanda's husband, Ettore Sottsass.
Pound was famously keeping his vow of silence, try as Allen did to sway him. Of that day Allen writes in his journal:
Drive up to Rapallo from Bogliasco on super bridge across green-castled canyons, bright day and blue water between railroad and hedged cypress—
Pound rose from garden chair as we rounded path from road surveying downhill large red house gardened. We sat, drank wine under a tree. I opened Indian harmonium and sang Hare Krishna.
After lunch we drove to Portofino—he silent in car—ivory handled cane at side—sat on the quay, he drank iced tea. Long time quiet. Ancient paranoid silent—
“Did you ever try hashish all these years?” I was curious. He looked at me, blinked eyes, shook thin white-bearded cheeks, no, twice—
(Fall of America Journals 1965-1971, ed Mike Schumacher, Uminn Press, 2020)
PAUL ENCIMER b.1/25/38 – d.1/23/21
In 1988 my wife Tanya and I were looking for land, our first step in pursuing our dream of a life with nature. On our way north from our home ground in the San Francisco Bay Area to Idaho, and back thru Seattle we soon realized we were Californians and we had better narrow our search. We had heard of Garberville from a family friend and stopped for a look.
Nearly all the information and skills we possessed had come from books and we were both avid used bookstore browsers from a young age. So of course the first place we went in town was a bookstore. The fact that a small rural town like Garberville had 2 bookstores seemed promising.
The Garberville area met the criteria we had in mind, off-grid land that was affordable, and not too remote. We discovered the land of our dreams in Piercy and made the move towards a new life in the Spring of 1989. We were quickly approaching 30 years old and had been informed by the social movements of the 60’s and 70’s – but as veterans of the urban doldrums of the 80’s we weren’t so much back-to-the-land pioneers as we were suburban refugees. Our political and philosophical interests and values had been stoked by the previous generation, but we had no knowledge of the local scene or the reason behind it’s burgeoning local economy. As we discovered our neighbors and heard their stories of the glory days of the previous decade the generation gap began to narrow.
Picking up periodicals like the Peacemaker, Star Route Journal, the New Settler Interview, the Anderson Valley Advertiser, Lookout, The Country Activist, and the weekly Southern Humboldt Life and Times we learned about the community, and of course, we discovered KMUD radio when our primitive solar power system was established.
We regularly heard Paul on the Politically Correct Week in Review with Ruthanne Cecil and Bob Martell. And later Mary Anderson, Rick Cooper and Tom O’Neil. We got to know Paul and Kathy Epling shortly after their son Gabriel was born. Their bookstore was always a place of far-flung conversation – an encouraging connection and resource. We soon discovered that they lived on the same road in Piercy. And that we were neighbors!
We always stopped in for a book browse and talk during our supply runs, meeting others there, and hooking into the long running Piercy Foods buying club they facilitated monthly. Our relationship as family was firmly established a couple of years later, when they decided to relocate their bookstore from the small corner shop on a side street, in what was amongst the oldest buildings in town, into what had been until recently the Garberville Liquor Store across the street from the Post Office. The rent was more than they were used to for the larger space and by then they knew we were considering renting a space for our trade as journeymen Tattoo artists. We agreed to share the space and began several years as combination bookstore, and our Terra Nova Tattoo Studio, preserving a large wall as an Art Gallery space. This was a rich period of rising culture in Garberville. In opposition to Bush Sr.’s war in Iraq, we began a regular peace vigil that Paul would continue to hold through all the presidents and all the wars of the following decades. With faithful observance of his saints days: the birthdays of Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Ghandi. The brief run of the Fire Starter newspaper Paul and Kathy published tackled those issues, as well as the political conflicts of the local scene. Paul always searching for solutions made an effort to organize the Sequoia Exchange Economy. While I designed the currency for this local time based economic model of exchange- which achieved at least a glimmer of hope for the potential of alternative economies.
Paul and Kathy In their previous location, near the Presbyterian church had been involved in the regular soup kitchen established with the help of Nurchia Silenco who become strong advocate for the care and well being of less fortunate folks, she would go on to attempt the creation of homeless shelter and resource center in what would later become Paul and Kathy’s last bookstore. They always had a “free box” that offered clothing, a never empty fruit bowl, and Paul sometimes referred to himself as “A Poverty Pimp”, a stance in line with his stubborn adherence to his early Catholicism and in accordance with his aims as an advocate for justice, Paul would become nonviolence trainer and mediator, but also organized and staffed weather emergency homeless shelters. Crediting Kathy with teaching him the strength of compassionate care for those around him, informed by her ability to connect human to human, unconditionally, regardless of station. Together their faith in humanity and compassion became a beacon in the community for those in need, As they welcomed contact and gained trust and understanding with people on the edge of society- often to the chagrin of the less tolerant or fearful.
Paul was born in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania to a working class family that would relocate to Southern California, following family members in search of economic opportunity. His life long commitment for peace and social change began in 1950. As 12 year old learning about the then recent horrors of both Auschwitz and Hiroshima. He described his “Holy Shit” moment: the visceral fear and revulsion when he realized the appalling potential for inhumanity that States could exert in the names of those they govern. He felt a basic obligation to act, not unlike a religious calling and vowed “I would never quit.”
Coming of age, his foray into higher education took him to the Jesuit University of Santa Clara, where the future Governor Jerry Brown was an upper class-man at the time. With his sense of history, literature, philosophy, reason and justice honed by the Jesuits. His first job was as classical music DJ at the college radio station.
He returned to Southern California and idly pursued a major in Philosophy at UCLA, immersed in the cultural milieu of writers, thinkers, and artists he found inspiration to write, and worked with friends in experimental film making and publishing – developed periodicals, Which began with an organizing tool to build a local chapter of the War Resisters League he called it Resistance, taking the term from WWII resistance movements, as he and his cohorts imagined The US Government an occupying empire. Paul had declared himself a conscientious objector in 1957. Though he had participated in ROTC training for four years in school, he achieved no status or skill, and by his sophomore year had openly mocked the military, and became a pacifist. Drafted in 1961 he dedicated himself to resistance and was prosecuted. At odds with the hierarchy and dogma of his Catholic training, he found no honest way to claim the traditional religious justification for conscientious objection. Despite his Lawyers best advice in his defense Paul declared himself a “Pious Atheist” awakening a latent Gnosticism that was inevitable to one consumed with a diligent examination of reason. The judge was not amused by his plea, but he was acquitted, dodging both the draft and prison. As a dedicated WRL draft counselor in small rented offices with others and out of his bookstore, he advised at least 1,000 men how to avoid conscription, and more importantly, why.
He had found the joys of spending his days surrounded by books, early, and made a habit of collecting them during his university days at Santa Clara. His life long career as bookseller began with a chance meeting with a man who once lived at his Aunt’s Bordering house who ran a Westwood used bookstore. What started with conversations about Orwell rambled into long talks on literature and philosophy with his book trade guru Kirby Hyre, a man “who read the books he sold.” He took Paul on as “apprentice.” Working below the minimum wage of $.75, he made $.60 an hour working 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, and all the books he could read. and later entered into a partnership with Kirby in an Inglewood store. He pursued the life of a book merchant, writer, ‘zine publisher, draft counselor, and non-violent activist, Reveling in the freewheeling subculture and freedom of communal housing in the Venice community.
His publication Saint John’s Bread reflected all his interests with a combination of entertaining stories and opinion and comic absurdity, he contributed to a friends long running Light Times and worked with his peers The 7 Mighty Anvils as Dr. Confusion, creating together to distribute regular editions of the Saint John’s Bread Wednesday Messenger and Paranoid Flash Illuminator. These works explored imagined and esoteric spirituality, and current politics, they experimented with early psychedelia, poetry, fiction and surrealistic discordia with multi-hued paper printed cheaply on aging mimeograph machines. A creative impulse that would become the ‘zine movement embraced by young sub-cultures everywhere. He was one of the early ordained ministers of the Universal Life Church in full agreement with it’s free wheeling take on spiritual practice, and always recalled the motto he saw etched at it’s founders enclave during an early gathering: “There is no hope, without dope.” Paul slipped easily into what became known as a Hippy lifestyle, but politically he considered himself one of Abby Hoffman’s Yippies- Just under the wire at the fabled 30 year old cut-off.
At one point he considered a bookstore partnership with his friend Leigh Pfeffer, a brother in books, who became his brother in-law, but Paul wanted to expand his horizons, and Leigh was content to stay planted in what would become a long established bookstore in Santa Monica. Paul and his partner Victoria Serra, a former nun in training, had a three year sojourn with a peace activist community in Duluth Minnesota. With his devout partner, pacifist roots and radical California politics they were taken to be a defrocked priest and nun by the community they joined. Paul had been contributing to WIN magazine (Workers In Nonviolence) and Staff, a spin-off of the LA Free Press created by disgruntled staff members, both were distributed nationally, and known in Duluth, so he was welcomed as a movement luminary and immediately found success contributing to a flagging underground journal, and was then drafted by his community to help Publish and distribute a “movement” newspaper: Wild Curraents, using material distributed in packets monthly by the nationwide Liberation News Service to supplement his opinion pieces and contributors local stories. Paul would hit the streets with 200 issues and sell them for a quarter to make his monthly rent.
Paul’s food activism began in LA, when he and his sister Elaine, exploring natural food diets, would travel across town to the Arrowhead Mills to purchase bulk flours and grains. While in Duluth, Paul and Victoria helped develop the Whole Foods Conspiracy Co-op, an operation that Paul hustled into an actual retail establishment with the food aid development programs made available at the time, when managed by Victoria, she doubled their monthly income. the co-op thrived, leaving a legacy that became “The natural food store” in the area. The Whole Foods CO-OP in Duluth still thrives in multiple locations today.
By their third Minnesota winter, the cold had became too burdensome and after a brief stay in Minneapolis they returned to California. Heading North they landing in Willits during the days of United Stand the momentous activism around building codes and owner built homes being red tagged for destruction. Paul who owned no land or home at the time, said he wasn’t really appreciated there, being too radically inclined for the narrowly focused housing rights group. Searching for a more land based lifestyle Paul and Victoria made their way to Whale Gulch Enjoying the ambiance of the remote like minded community where they discovered their lack of practical homestead skills. But the skill they did have was ethical organizing, seeing the multitude of food buying clubs west of town taking deliveries, they advocated for a confederation of sorts and helped organize the Ruby Valley CO-OP “twenty people put in $500. And we bought the building.” A former tavern, eventually moving across the road. With food supplied by the co-op warehouse in Arcata. Eventually Paul would organize ‘Piercy Foods’ a decades old floating bulk food operation that has survived through the mergers and acquisition of 3 distributors, ever larger and monopolistic, proving the need and value of autonomous food supplies.
Following their retreat to a rental in Garberville their ongoing association with The Peacemakers,- led them to an Arcata gathering of this pacifist community of war-tax resistance and support, and non-violent action. with their publication Peacemaker they had organized and publicized workshops, gatherings and actions nation wide since 1948. Paul went to this gathering to pursue an interest in land trusts that had been advocated by the Peacemaker editor Peggy Weingard, a nurse working at the Redwoods Rural Clinic interested in establishing a local land trust, a place for gathering, creating a land base for the local Peacemaker community, as was happening else where around the country. Paul had inherited a modest nest egg when his mother passed away, and with Victoria invested in the land Peggy and her partner Peter had acquired- 20 acres in Piercy, and made a more determined effort at homesteading, Victoria would eventually take over as lead editor of Peacemaker. With Peggy helping and Paul began typing the dense columns of copy, and helped to articulate the organizations quest for gender equality. Eventually their land partners would leave Paul and Victoria both the land and the publication of Peacemaker. They found a willing helper in Kathy Epling who was working at John McClellan’s Orange Cat Goes To Market bookstore with Victoria, and Kathy invested in Peggy’s share of the land while continuing to live in town.
Paul established his Second Growth Books down the hill in the now burned down Piercy market/bakery building in part to have the electricity to utilize his IBM Selectric typewriter, with it’s multiple changeable font balls, a state-of-the-art must have for the bare bones self-publishing of the era. Victoria, whose faith and focus was a grounding influence for Paul during their 13 years together eventually committed to a deeper faith and joined he monastic community of Our Lady of the Redwoods, a branch of Cistercian nuns in Whitethorn.
Paul and Kathy with a young Ann Constantino began the original Star Root Journal, with Mary Anderson and others, which later became Mary Andervidual’s Star Route Journal, which included covers, additional art, and layout by my wife Tanya in it’s final year of production.
Kathy took on Victoria’s Peacemaker production tasks, and they continued production monthly for 10 years. she relocated to the Piercy land with her and John’s young son Garth, Paul and Kathy’s baby daughter Laurel would follow. And later their son Gabriel. Kathy operated Tiger Lily Books n a charmingly eclectic and personal mail-order book catalog that focused on parents and children and became increasingly devoted to the shady forest garden she nurtured. Paul’s Sister Elaine, long in search of a rural sustainable lifestyle came to Piercy when an adjoining parcel of land became available, joined later by her son Alex, and his partner Kendra.
Paul moved his store into a small shop in the Briceland road building in Redway where the fledgling Chataqua natural food store was also getting under way. Helping some small publications with typography on his trusty machine, Pauls activism ran deep, from his early draft resistance, the movement radicalized him-organized draft card burnings, and increasingly critical analysis of the systems that empowered the waging of war became too much for even some of his WRL colleagues. In 1967 he participated in the infamous Century City action that erupted into a violent police riot when activists staged a permitted march to a fund raising dinner for President Lyndon Johnson that ended in an impromptu sit-in demanding an end to the Vietnam war.
Locally, early on, he supported the movement to stop herbicide spraying and prevent nickel and cobalt mining operations on Red Mountain. As a fervent advocate of collectives, affinity groups, consensus building, and non-violence – He was involved in the Citizens Observation Group and Civil liberties Monitoring Project. His Anti-Nuclear work with the Acorn Alliance would see him arrested more than once, but it was the movement to save the Sinkyone and his appreciation of the International Indian Treaty Council which awakened in him a renewed reverence for the land he now called home.
His apprehension of the war on nature on behalf of a lifestyle divorced from nature made him an eco-warrior, called to act in defense of the Sally Bell Grove and to demand a legal right for nature to exist to “…reshape the system until there are stewardship’s and trustees everywhere on the land who can protect the earth for its own sake, knowing that it can sustain us as it did the Indians…[sic- circa ’84]” A quest for the mythical Ecotopia which he pointed out was with the addition of ecological awareness was akin to the ancient Greek perception of democracy – a conscious self rule that addresses local social, political, and economic processes. Ever the propagandist Paul lugged Fifty pounds of video equipment into the grove “so the whole world was watching when we stopped the logging.”
Typically, The equipment would fail. Despite Paul’s intellect, a firm grasp on the practical realties of the physical world often were elusive. Following the freedom of the vehicle free days, back when hitchhiking was king and you could still wave down a Greyhound bus for a ride into town, Paul managed to always have a cheap, or donated car, Kathy never did drive. Once I was trouble shooting his 70’s bomber with its trunk full of water. I suggested we check the air filter, and opening the housing we discovered there was none. Another time I quickly corrected his use as jack-stands made of stacks of Reader’s Digest condensed novel collections, in hardback, which simultaneously illustrated a cavalier attitude towards mass, gravity and safety, and, his disdain of the pablum of literary roughage those books represented.
Paul was a founding member of Southern Humboldt Working Together which help launch numerous non-profits. He was involved in sustaining the boogies at the old Fireman’s Hall that would blossom into The Mateel Community Center, and he became part of its loyal opposition – on behalf of its mission of community when commercialization of the organization loomed. Based on a deep commitment to process, he believed that progress involved finding new forms of community and governance, that it required discussion and intentionality to develop concrete plans to proactively create the transition from hierarchical profit driven models that sustainable and equitable institutions require. He with others formed The Bridge a space dedicated to community building.
He was instrumental in organizing the non-profit Southern Humboldt Recycling Center as a collective, a form of management no one was used to, or understood fully, working there when they won the contract with the county to operate the waste transfer station. He was a founding broadcaster at Redwood Community Radio – KMUD, from it’s first low-power broadcasts, doing talk, punk, rock, classical and jazz, and poetry joined by Kathy, and as engineer, shepherding a very young Garth Epling’s presentations of vintage Old time Radio drama and comedy into a long career as volunteer engineer at the station. Here too he advocated for fairness and equality in non-profit governance when conflicts arose. Recognizing and reminding others that community radio was not a business, but a natural cooperative of producers and consumers.
Over the years the bookstore run by Kathy, Paul and their kids moved, first to Maple lane in Garberville, to Sprowel Creek road, and back to Redway into the Redwood Drive building that had once been the early location of Redwood Rural Health Center, which Kathy passionately supported from the beginning becoming a long time board member.
Paul’s activism was newly empowered by his frontline experience of organizing a contingent of Southern Humboldt activists to participate in the momentous protests, marches, sit-ins and police clashes at World Trade Organization conference in Seattle at the end of 1999, and then to the Los Angeles Democratic National Convention in the summer of 2000. And then closer to the Piercy Land – on the front lines in efforts to Save Hartsook, McCoy Creek, and Richardson Grove.
In the run-up to the presidential election of 2000 Greenfuse was created, a monthly tabloid compilation of news, analysis, opinion, poetry, and personal story telling – local and international. The mission of the Greenfuse was to focus on peace, justice, and humane and ecological social change. I created the masthead and wrote regular opinion pieces, submitting drawings and scribbles that set a graphic tone that Kathy amplified with internet image searches. Originally conceived as a project to promote the surge of interest in green politics, specifically the California Green Party, which for the first time seemed like a viable option- with the candidacy of Ralph Nader for president, and Peter Camejo in three runs for State Governer. Paul got involved in State wide organizing as a delegate for the Emerald Region, organizing locally, and attending plebiscite meetings with state wide delegates. While at first thrilled by the experience he eventually was disillusioned with his involvement, as he once again realized the hierarchy that controls any operation too easily become entrenched in internal politics, in-fighting and self interest at the expense of its mission.
Kathy had already divined that a regular newspaper dedicated solely to party politics was not going to be a thriving organ of expression. In her evolving role as editor-in-chief she was determined to set a more personal, literary and creative direction for the paper, making politics personal, through the new medium of internet blogs she added personal experiences of war and injustice from around the world to our local paper. As a regular crew of contributors and supporters evolved Kathy continued to refer to the publishers as the ‘Waking Dogs Collective’ because, as she observed- waking dogs never lie – a term she originated with the short lived Fire Starter. “The collective” was a loose collection of truth tellers and heartfelt activist involved in creating the content and Paul, as he had before, acting as publisher. He became expert at the duties of ad sales, production and distribution of the paper, often along with fellow contributor Tom O’Neil as driver- or with the family in tow. The “mechanicals” were pasted-up with typography from a computer printer and Xerox copies using rubber cement or glue sticks during late night deadline crunches before driving them to a small web press in Willits and later a press in Healdsburg, which increased the circulation area. They waited for the paper to be printed then made a day long ride back leaving fresh papers in their wake. Eventually the printer would balk at the old-school paper layouts but continued to print from them after they were converted to digital files. The cycle of production and distribution went on nearly monthly for years, something none of us had anticipated. Supported by local advertisers, more as underwriters and well-wishers, as well as an occasional generous donation the always free Greenfuse was delivered to cafes, restaurants, Laundry mats and stores from Healdsburg to Arcata and Blue Lake and down the coast to Caspar.
Production continued as the bookstore moved back to Garberville on the north end of Redwood drive. In this period of rapid change to the local economy Paul and Kathy’s bookstore became a catalyst for compassionate community, offering food to the hungry, water for the thirsty, mail drops and phone charging for the houseless, and advice and concern for the seasonal migrations of wanderers, seekers, dispossessed, and desperate, from everywhere, young and old. The optics of this did not comfort the business community, and advocating for the rights of the poor and dispossessed became a calling. They organized CHILL – Community Help In Living Locally to address the needs of people in transition, and even attempted to organize a cannabis workers union. Ever a communitarian, Paul loved meetings and agendas and as a public intellectual engaged vociferously when his sense of justice required strong advocacy as The Peoples Whistle. As an organizer he considered leaving a meeting with a contact list and an action plan a win for progress. Though committed to nonviolence he would never shirk conflict in the fervent pursuit of justice and equality.
After Kathy’s untimely death in 2015. Followed by the death in 2017 of their adult Down’s syndrome son Gabriel, and a period of reflection, Paul was evicted from his storefront. In part due to his passionate defense of those deemed undesirable by the business community and his service in acknowledgment of their needs. He was critical of the burgeoning redevelopment and gentrification of Garberville and appalled by the community tolerance for vigilante actions on the streets and in homeless camps leading him to attempt developing a respite/resource center- imagining more than simply providing temporary shelter. This concept was still-born by community ill will. This and the relentless abatement abuses of county government helped inspire an effort to recall supervisor Estelle Fenell. He helped draft supervisor candidate Sean DeVries, and the eventual four candidate race led to a run-off election that realized his goal of unseating the incumbent in 2020.
During the winter of 2017 Paul and I had resumed production of the Greenfuse – this time with the advantage of digital layout which I was learning. We were now able to email PDF files directly to the printer and have it ready for pick-up the next day. Of course this would not eliminate the requisite late night deadlines that ran into pre dawn. For Paul this was the fun part, the more people present the better for a bit of high-minded chaos- crafting the last wry headline, and witty observations about how well we wove the theme, proofreading while nodding out from fatigue, before an all day drive to pick-up and distribute. It all spelled Newspaper! to him. We continued with renewed fervor during the Trump Era until the Pandemic closed opportunities for distribution, Summer fires raged and Paul’s health began to flag.
Paul was surprised at how fast his organs conspired to lay him low. He had always fantasized of falling as a martyr perched on the ramparts in defense of human rights and peace. Giving his all for a cause like a true Satyagrahi Warrior.
Instead he spent his last days in quiet conversation, empowered by discussions of his past accomplishments and motivations, revered by those who knew him. He wove an imagined path of continuity of purpose- The Universal Life University using books as a foundation to reawaken the original forms of liberal education, a self directed study that could declare it’s own proficiency and purpose and help create community through the exploration of ideas. Hoping that he could encourage the maintenance of the rich stock that made up his extensive book collection he declared that books transcended commodification and that the value of books should be held as a commonwealth library to be shared by all.
As his health quickly declined his biggest wish was that he could avoid hospitalization and be left to die a natural death. Garth, Laurel and her partner Eric willingly took on the task of bravely shepherding his final journey.
Paul will be missed by many and the greatest tribute to him will be to continue his daily commitment and advocacy for peace, justice, and cooperation into the next generation.
— Joshua Golden