Cold Front | 21 New Cases | Reopening Schools | Zip Covid | PA Testing | Super Pizza | Sheriff Zoom | Colorized Stable | Park Improvements | Willits Ambulance | Cold Cases | Potty Talk | Rufous Hummingbird | Ed Notes | Vaccination Coordination | Psychic Mail | Pot Billboards | Loaded Headline | Old Howard | Planning Agenda | Container Apartments | Blahut Explains | Yesterday's Catch | Stupid Coup | Public Execution | Prop19 Dupe | Kiss Not | Chemical Cancer | Gutless Weasels | We Won | Socialist Revolutionaries
A STRONG AND FAST MOVING COLD FRONT will continue to move south across the area this morning. Heavier showers and gusty winds are likely with the passage of this front. A dry weather pattern will then develop across the region starting on Thursday and persisting into the weekend. (NWS)
21 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County on Tuesday bringing the total to 3474. Another death.
by William Miller, MD; Chief of Staff at Adventist Health – Mendocino Coast Hospital
President Joe Biden is requesting that Congress approve over $100 billion in the most recent COVID stimulus package to go towards reopening schools because it is important to our country. We can’t talk about reopening schools, however, without a discussion about safety.
We can’t talk about safety without recognizing that judging something to be “safe” is always a balance between the risks involved and the expected benefits to be gained. It is important to acknowledge that almost every activity we undertake carries some risks. Climbing a ladder to prune that apple tree in the front yard carries the risk of a fall that could result in serious injury and potentially life long debilitation. The simple act of driving to work along Highway 1 carries the potential risk of a fatal car accident. We accept these risks, which are real, without even hesitating to think about them because we are used to these activities and have grown comfortable with them. Without realizing it, we are weighing the benefits against the risks.
COVID and the risks associated with it, however, are new to our experience. Perhaps it doesn’t help that we are constantly bombarded with news about the pandemic and sensational stories of hospitals overflowing with COVID cases or reports of who the most recent celebrity is to get infected. I believe the combination of the newness along with the constant barrage from social media and news outlets has led us to overestimate the risks. To be clear, I am not saying that COVID is something we should dismiss. However, keeping things in perspective will help us make important decisions during a difficult time.
Here are some statistics that are helpful in assessing our individual risk of getting infected and if infected our risk of getting ill. Epidemiology studies have shown that the chance of transmission is only about 30% if a person is within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes or more and without wearing masks. While this is significant from the perspective of transmission through a community, it also tells us that most people (70%) with an unmasked exposure will not become infected. If infected, most people (80%) never develop symptoms or if they do the symptoms are mild. The remaining 20% do get sick with about 1/3 of those requiring medical treatment including hospitalization. The overall mortality rate is about 2-4%.
Prevention strategies do work very well at reducing risk. Wearing a mask, frequent hand washing and social distancing have been proven to be effective in dramatically reducing the spread of this disease and is the cornerstone of plans to reopen schools. Limiting class sizes helps increase distancing between students and air purification and circulation methods add an additional margin of risk reduction.
Young children who are below the age of puberty have been found to be less contagious when infected due to a lower amount of the receptor on their cells that the virus exploits to gain entry. As a result, initial reopening is planned for kindergarten through 6th grade. Once overall community infection rates are lower, then reopening will be extended through high school.
Lastly, as a means of moving towards safer reopening of schools, teachers and other school employees have been prioritized in receiving the COVID vaccine above those at highest risk in our community, the group of people 75 years old and above. As a result, teachers who accepted this prioritized vaccination are expected to participate in reopening of schools.
On the other hand, there are risks of not reopening that must also be considered. Numerous studies have already shown that students are not doing as well with distance learning and disadvantaged families where parents may not be as tech-savvy are amongst the highest failure rates. Many families depend on children going to school for nutritious meals and for childcare to allow parents to go to work so that bills can be paid. Lastly, there has been a troubling upswing in teenage suicides that is being attributed to the isolation that students are experiencing with distance learning.
Jason Morse is the Superintendent for the Mendocino Unified School District and he expressed his concerns to me about the impact that school closure is having on children. “I see it in my own kids as well as the other children in our district. They are really struggling and not just with the challenges of using the internet for schooling, but because of the sense of isolation they are experiencing,” Morse said. “I am more worried about the social and mental wellbeing of our students than I am about anything else,” he added.
Both Ft. Bragg and Mendocino Unified School Districts are closely following the reopening guidelines from the California Department of Public Health and the Mendocino County Health Department. The School Board for Ft. Bragg will be holding a meeting on February 8th to discuss the possible reopening on February 22nd of grades kindergarten through 6th. The Mendocino School Board is considering April 1st to reopen.
Ft. Bragg got an early start on the steps of preparation for reopening. Becky Walker, Superintendent of Ft. Bragg Unified School District told me, “We fully recognize that school closures have impacted our students and community negatively. We are excited to reopen our schools as soon as safely possible. Our employees will receive their second dose of the Moderna vaccine on February 12. We hope to begin reopening grades K to 6 on February 22nd which will be ten days after our employees' second dose.”
Dr. Andy Coren, Mendocino County Public Health Officer recently put out a new set of health orders around reopening schools and in a press release on January 30th said, “We are now able to start the process of re-opening our schools, due to our efforts as a community to avoid gatherings, wear masks, and maintain social distance.” He went on to praise the cooperation of other local agencies by stating, “In addition to those efforts, we here at Public Health are thrilled that our efforts to vaccinate as many teachers as possible have been successful, with much assistance from the Mendocino County Office of Education, Mendocino County school districts, schools, teachers, staff, parents, community partners, rural clinics and Adventist Health.”
“We are excited about the prospect of having our students on campus once again!” said Walker. “Our schools have been preparing diligently to reopen following all the safety protocols and guidance provided by the health department.”
POINT ARENA COVID TESTING FRIDAY 2/5/2021 9AM to 11AM
There will be free COVID testing at the Veteran's Building/City Hall at 451 School Street this Friday February 5 from 9am to 11am. The testing is first come-first served.
Registration is required at http://lhi.care/covidtesting. No appointments are being taken but you will need a client number to test.
If you already have a client number be sure to bring it with you.
NOTE: This is not a drive-thru event. Please park on the north side of the building.
For any questions, call City Hall at 882-2122.
Paul Andersen, Deputy City Manager, City of Point Arena
707-882-2122 | <https://pointarena.ca.gov/>
POP-UP PIZZA AT COMPANY KITCHEN, PHILO
We are very excited to announce that we will be doing a wood-fire pizza pop-up on Sunday, February 7th (Super Bowl Sunday!) from 12-5ish!
You can call in orders to-go (707-895-3698) or order them at the restaurant and sit and enjoy a glass of wine or beer on the patio. We will be limiting pizzas to 2 per person. Orders will not be able to be placed until the event starts, so please do not call in orders before 2/7. If you have any questions beforehand, feel free to contact us here on Facebook.
ANDERSON VALLEY UNITY CLUB PRESENTS: MEET SHERIFF MATT KENDALL
When: Thursday February 4th
Where: Zoom Room Gathering
The Community is invited to join us at 1:30pm for Sheriff Matt Kendall’s Presentation followed by questions and answers.
To join the Zoom Room Gathering.
RSVP to Arline Bloom at 9363 or email email@example.com for the link/password
PARK PLANNING COMMUNITY INQUIRY
Hello AV Community!
Our AV Community Services District is looking to officially lease the park land by the Health Center so that we can move forward with our grant proposal for park improvements. If you have any creative inspiration for how to improve this recreational space or know of current needs you wish could be met or if you or someone you know has experience in implementing park improvements (contractors, landscapers, gardeners, artists, etc), please don’t hesitate to reach out to me (firstname.lastname@example.org, 415-713-3833) or attend our next AV CSD Recreation Committee meeting, Tuesday, February 16th, @1pm via Zoom (contact me for the link).
24 UNFORGETTABLE NORTH COAST COLD CASES AND WHERE EACH STANDS NOW
For decades, several murders and missing persons cases have puzzled law enforcement throughout the North Coast. Although DNA analysis has helped investigators piece together many of the crimes, others still remain a mystery.
OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE REVISED, NEW & IMPROVED OLD, PLUS SOME OTHER INEFFECTUAL TWEAKS & TONS OF PUBLIC INPUT, &… OH, NEVERMIND
by Mark Scaramella
IF YOU’RE A LEGAL POT GROWER (for now) in Mendocino County you probably don’t want larger scale growers coming in as legal competitors. If you’re not a pot grower, you probably don’t want to see more pot grown in any more areas — or less if you’re in places like Rancho Navarro. But if you’re a legal pot grower who is not making money at it you probably want to be able to grow more while not letting the big boys in. If you’re not a legal pot grower, you probably don’t care much about what Mendo does with its cockamamie rules.
Last Monday the Supes took yet another whack at those ridiculously complex pot rules.
AGENDA ITEM 3B) “Discussion and Possible Action including Direction to Staff and Requesting the Planning Commission Review and Make Its Report and Recommendation to the Board of Supervisors Within Forty Days on (1) Draft Amendments to Mendocino County Code Regarding Commercial Cannabis Cultivation; and (2) Draft Amendments to Mendocino County Code Regarding Commercial Cannabis Facilities and Cannabis and Other Special Events”
It was almost as if the last four years of pot tedium hadn’t existed. Except it did, and that glop of medicinal ointment is not going back in the tube. Which just makes the question of what to do now even more complex. And then there’s enforcement of whatever huge layer of rules may result from this latest whack which is basically very little unless you’re way outtaline because enforcement is underfunded, understaffed, slow, and reluctant in most non-criminal situations.
HERE ARE THREE NOTEWORTHY written comments among the dozens and dozens submitted:
 Dear Board Members,
Among other things, the last-minute proposed, back door changes to Mendocino County's local cannabis cultivation ordinances:
Are improperly noticed to the public;
Disregard environmental concerns set forth in previous voluminous records;
Disregard neighborhood public safety concerns and will lead to increased violence in residential neighborhoods;
Disregard quality of life issues and the purpose of zoning laws; and
Ignore the hard work and compromises made by all sides on these issues over the past several years.
Should the Board make the serious mistake of adopting these proposed wholesale changes, not only would it be a slap in the face to all of those who worked together for compromise, it will predictably lead to more litigation, a stay of the ordinance, and more embarrassing waste of taxpayer dollars in the middle of a pandemic!
Whoever slipped these changes into the former drafts should be fired. This is not how adoption of ordinances is supposed to occur!
(ms NOTES: The infamous Judge Lechowick has apparently retired from his do-nothing Lake County “Commissioner” job and now lives in Ukiah where he inserts himself into the pot regulation fray without prior participation, popping up to call for somebody to be fired for trying to improve the pot regs. Lechowick is the classic “negative indicator”: whatever position Lechowick takes, the public should take the opposite.)
 John McCowen (of course):
Chair Gjerde and members of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors, January 25, 2021
I strongly encourage support for the first version of Chapter 22.18 that was posted with the Agenda and not the "Final Draft" that was posted later. The first version substantially incorporates previous Board direction to: 1) develop a streamlined land use based permit system for new applications; 2) allow expansion subject to a Use Permit; 3) allow new permits in Rangeland subject to a Use Permit. These changes are essential to ensuring sustainability of the cannabis industry in Mendocino County. Without expansion there will not be enough legally grown Mendocino Cannabis to claim market share and build brand identification. Without new permits in Rangeland there will not be sufficient sites suitable for expansion.
The Agenda Summary states that staff expects 85% of Phase One applicants will fail to obtain a State annual license. This is due in part because many are on sites where it is difficult to get approval due to proximity to streams, steepness of grade and other site characteristics. Without new permits in Rangeland and without expansion, there will not be enough potential cultivation sites to sustain the industry. Phase One applicants in particular will have no path forward unless all three major reforms are adopted. The reforms contained in Chapter 22.18 are critical to ensuring equity for Phase One applicants.
The Use Permit process, which includes a Public Hearing, will assure that cannabis cultivation operations are properly situated and conditioned to protect neighborhood quality of life and the environment. Availability of water will be a critical part of the Use Permit process. Without suitable site characteristics and proof of water, permits will not be approved. But without expansion and new permits in Rangeland, the industry will fail to reach its potential and will likely decline as current and potential applicants seek opportunity elsewhere. Without these critical reforms millions of dollars in investment capital and the living wage jobs they will fund will go elsewhere. Mendocino County will be deprived of the investment, the job base and millions of dollars in annual discretionary tax revenue that is vitally needed to fund Fire and Emergency Medical Services, Mental Health, roads, cannabis enforcement and other critical County services.
The draft of Chapter 22.18 references "new permits" but based on the mounting evidence that up to 85% or more of Phase One applicants will not be able to obtain a State annual license it is foreseeable that Chapter 22.18 will become the fall back position for many Phase One applicants. Likewise, as a practical matter it will not make sense for staff to continue administering two separate cultivation ordinances. Accordingly, even successful Phase One applicants ought to be transitioned into Chapter 22.18 as they come up for renewal. This should be able to be accomplished based on a streamlined Administrative Permit since the site will already have been approved locally and by the State.
Finally, as a matter of equity for Phase One applicants who have pursued entry into the legal market in good faith, I encourage the Board to consider allowing Phase One applicants to apply for permits under Chapter 22.18 based on the parcel sizes and zoning that applied to their original Phase One applications. This can be accomplished by one or more asterisks and footnotes to the Zoning Table. Likewise, the original application fee for Phase One applicants ought to be applied as a credit against the fees required by Chapter 22.18 with the balance of the fee eligible to be paid from Equity funds.
In conclusion, I strongly encourage you to endorse the first version of Chapter 22.18, including the three critical elements of: 1) adopting a land use based permit system; 2) allowing expansion with a Use Permit; 3) allowing new permits in Rangeland with a Use Permit. I also strongly encourage you to reject the proposed last minute revisions to the Exemptions that have been carefully crafted over the years to protect neighborhood quality of life. It does not make sense to give a green light to outdoor backyard cultivation which will fuel the illegal market, create neighborhood conflict, and greatly diminish neighborhood quality of life.
John McCowen, Ukiah
 George Hollister, speaking for the Farm Bureau
Mendocino County finds itself in a lose-lose situation regarding cannabis policy. This needs to be addressed before anything else further is done. We have unworkable rules for cannabis producers who want to be legal, and an environment that attracts outlaws to come and grow cannabis for the illegal out of state market. The black market operates with impunity because of no code, or law enforcement. This out of state black market is about 90% of the cannabis market here in our county. It is safe to assume many of those in the process of getting permits are also making money in this black market since the California market for legal Cannabis was oversupplied 3 years ago, and likely still is today. Our rural residents and lands are paying the big price. Making the county rules more user friendly does not change the lawless environment we have created here, and the motivation to grow for the more profitable out of state black market. The growers coming here have no intention of complying with a law, and are not here to grow for the California legal market. So why the urgency to open up range lands for cannabis? Unless something changes with code enforcement we have to assume the black market will move in, and the county will not enforce their own rules. What the blackmarket is doing is not agriculture.
In 2017 Mendocino County was among the top ten counties in California for the rate of violent crime, and Ukiah was in the top 5 for cities in the state (from Wikipedia). My guess is, with what I have seen in the news lately the violent crime rate, and rank has not gone down, and likely has gone up. Our homeless policy appears to be one source of our high violent crime rate, but so is our lack of cannabis code enforcement. People come from all over the world to grow cannabis here for big profits in the black market, because they know they can get away with it. With the black market comes violent crime. How much of this violent crime is never reported we don’t know, but it can be assume that much of isn't. I will defer to our county sheriff for needed corrections for anything that I have said here.
I am making these pointed comments as president of Mendocino County Farm Bureau, because I felt our executive director’s letter which I approved and signed did not say some things that only I should say directly. It appears to me that our county cannabis policy is existing in a fantasy world that needs a reality check. Mendocino County Farm Bureau is here to help, and make Mendocino County a place for legitimate agriculture, and that includes the legal growing of cannabis.
Thanks for your time reading this, and thanks for your efforts.
George Hollister, President of Mendocino County Farm Bureau
NEVERTHELESS, there were some modestly informative remarks made by the Supervisors during Monday’s discussion which were sorta newsworthy at least as a description of where Mendo is today pot-wise.
Supervisor Glenn McGourty: “I have not heard the macro economics about what this industry really looks like. What is its potential for expansion? Where do we sit? I am aware that in the wine grape industry we have kind of reached a saturation point. We kind of go back and forth and we fluctuate every 8-10 years we need to lose about somewhere between 30-50,000 acres of the 600,000 or so acres that are planted in the state. Just for fun I wanted to see where cannabis stands as a crop in California right now. In terms of farm gate value, it's probably number four. According to Wikipedia it's worth about $3.1 billion. They figure that there is about 14,000,000 pounds produced in this state. They admit that probably only about 20% of it is going through sort of conventional channels. I've heard numbers. It's hard to get anything real on this. But the numbers that I'm getting is probably about 5,000 acres of cannabis could provide most of the state with cannabis that we would need for both medical and personal use. Maybe another 30,000 acres would be used if we had a legal market and addressed the United States. So the grand total, the guesstimate is 35,000 acres which acreage-wise puts it at about where strawberries are, a similar industry. In fact, strawberries become the number four crop in the state in terms of farm gate value. And some of the counties that are allowing the legal growing of cannabis such as Lake County are allowing up to 10% of their acreage to be planted. It kind of fits into a model where you have a larger volume of production which probably would be mechanized and the price of cannabis would come down because of that. If you look at kind of restricting acreage saying no more than one acre is whether or not Mendocino County is going to go into that business, where are we going to sit? The industry seems to have real ideas about a handcrafted heritage industry that would be like Napa Valley. The processes we have here are already looking for inexpensive sun grown cannabis that is $4-$500 a pound. How much discussion has taken place on this and where do we think Mendocino County should be and what kind of an industry should we have? That would drive our land use plans accordingly.”
McGourty later added: “You can buy crop insurance for hemp. It's recognized by the US Department of Agriculture as a commodity that qualifies for the farm program. It's identical to cannabis. We are working on an ordinance to allow it. One acre is not going to cut it. If you are going to grow hemp and expect to make any money on it, an acre is not enough, even 10 acres is limited because the value of the crop is so different. Yet, mechanically, it's the same plant. It just has a different set of chemicals in it. If we do that in Mendocino County there will be a few conditions. One of them is we will want feminized clones that will not produce any seeds for other cannabis production. It's going to be harvested for CBDs. I don't know enough about the processes whether its dollars per acre or foliage but it has to be a high-value crop. And that's been the tradition in Mendocino County. We have always had limited arable land and we've always drifted toward crops that are worth a lot of money like hops and prunes and pears and grapes. Cannabis is now kind of in line. I see a lot of mixed reactions from my farmer friends and grape growers who want to grow cannabis because they can't make any money growing grapes. The market looks terrible. I see things coming down the pike that are going to be better for them. They would even be happy with a lease arrangement where they could set aside land and if it met all the environmental requirements and it was ag land and they had adequate water they could think about having one or more tenants just like the strawberry industry does in Watsonville and Salinas where most of the land is owned by somebody else and leased by tenant farmers. That's a model that has not been looked at in Mendocino County. We have never thought about land ownership. The industry had been sort of hidden from the law up in the hills where environmentally it had huge impact. Now there's an opportunity if we allow it to bring it out into places where it can be grown on agricultural land with much less impact with enough distance away from community to where they are not having to deal with the odors and the other unpleasantries of agriculture that they don't like. I think that's what is in front of us today. Where do we want to go? Do we want a cannabis industry that will not look like it did 10 years ago when it was back in the hills and places? It probably wasn't the ideal place to grow it. That's what I'm thinking as an agriculturalist.”
Supervisor Ted Williams: “One of the details that the ad hoc cannabis committee learned, and this may not apply across the board just like some cultivators make good neighbors and some bad, we won't generalize. But what we've heard from a number of cultivators is the legal market may be paying $550 a pound. The illicit market may be paying $1600 a pound. The county putting such a small limit, it's like telling a grape grower he can only grow one acre of grapes. They better optimize and have the best grapes in that one acre and market it well because that's all they have to work with. Part of keeping it so small, hobby size, some can generate a profit and we should applaud them, they are doing great work. Others are saying, Hey, we are going to be in the red. With 10,000 square feet you start out at $550 a pound and the state takes $154 a pound right off the top. Then you pay the county fees and the county taxes and the state tax. You have to amortize the capital expenses. You cannot operate profitably. It could be that some growers are selling into the illegal market and I'm not promoting that. I would prefer that they did not. But it may be that we have created a dynamic where that's the only way they can break even.”
Williams added, “Our role is not to make businesses successful or have one group benefit while another doesn't. The role of planning is to decide compatible uses. The environmental impacts get addressed on a discretionary basis. The applicants have to prove that their project meets environmental standards case by case before the full planning commission. This is not going to be an easy feat. These are not given out just as a blanket policy for anybody with matching land. One of the mistakes the board has made in the past is focusing on essentially rating the market and that's not the role of government. The role of government is to make this opportunity available and let the market run with it and see what is successful. Should there be scale? Should there not be scale? It shouldn't be based on trying to save existing businesses. That's not our job. My heart is with the small farms. I want to see them succeed. I just think this is a misuse of policy. It's inherent when we make zoning changes that there will be economic impact. But the potential economic impact should not be the driving force behind our decision-making.
After over two hours of discussion and an enormous amount of public input both in writing and via zoom from many interested parties, the Board voted 4-1 (Haschak dissening saying he didn’t want to allow 10% of larger parcels to be used for pot growing — currently it’s limited to 10,000 square feet) to: “Direct staff to submit County code amendments related to commercial cannabis cultivation and cannabis and other special events to the planning commission to review and make its report and recommendations on the proposed amendments within 40 days with the addition of an indication on the zoning table stating Phase 1 applicants not included in the Sunset or Opt Out zones be allowed to reapply under Phase 3 irrespective of zoning and parcel size. And direct staff to include standard conditions that allow generators in only special circumstances, to limit hoop houses to no more than 10,000 square feet and ensure that agricultural soil quality is maintained and that ag lands being damaged or destroyed are referred back to the planning commission” — and something about upland residential zoning revisions.
A FEW DAYS LATER this exchange appeared on facebook:
RETIRED AG COMMISSIONER from Mendo and Sonoma Tony Linegar: Sonoma County just released their new draft ordinance with associated Mitigated Negative Declaration which proposes to make most cannabis permits ministerial. Time and expense associated with conditional use permits are discouraging compliance and facilitating the black market. Counties that require conditional use permits will be at a distinct disadvantage, particularly for small growers with limited resources. Would love to see more coordination by Mendocino County with neighboring counties.
Supervisor Ted Williams: Ag zoning
Linegar: Not exactly. This proposal for ministerial permitting also applies to RRD zoning or Resource and Rural Development which is largest zoning designation with regard to land mass.
John McCowen: Mendocino County adopted a ministerial permitting program in 2017 based on a Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND). Years later State regulations required site specific CEQA. Do you know how Sonoma County proposes to satisfy State requirements for site specific CEQA?
Linegar: Through a lot of back and forth with the state, we got them to accept a Notice of Exemption NOE for each specific project. Applicants are writing their own with the help of consultants. The Sonoma County Ag Commissioner is preparing a packet with examples to assist applicants. This was on the front burner until the state extended provisionals but is now about to be utilized or the first time by applicants going for their annual license.
McCowen: A Notice of Exemption sounds like a reasonable approach since all existing cannabis was covered by our MND. Under our original ordinance, with few exceptions only existing grow sites were eligible; with maximum cultivation area of 10,000 sq. ft.; with a ban on tree removal; and prohibitions on sensitive habitat, wetlands and new permits in Rangeland. Provided people follow permit conditions it's always been obvious to me the impact is less than significant. Interesting that the State is willing to consider a NOE in Sonoma. In Mendocino a couple of years of back and forth produced "Appendix G" which offers a way forward on paper but not in practice, except for a distinct minority.
Williams: CDFA told me that a NOE requires the same project description and appendix G. Sonoma appears to be using the model for new cultivation. Apples and oranges. Mendocino failed because the baseline was set pre-development, meaning decades back for many.
McCowen: I agree it's apples and oranges. But our baseline was not set pre-development or decades ago. If memory serves, the baseline for our MND was set September 16, 2016 and included all cannabis, legal or not, and all related impacts, legal or not as of that day. So every existing site and all associated impacts were included. Yes, there could be minor impacts in increasing from 2,500 or 5,000 sq. ft. but less than significant given the prohibitions in the ordinance and the reality that most or all of the expansion would be into already disturbed areas. The fatal flaw is CDFW's obsessive scrutiny of small scale farmers attempting to be legal while they turn a blind eye to the illegal growers and the egregious environmental damage they cause.
Linegar: It is important to note that this is the NOE CDFA will use for their licenses’ CEQA compliance. There are several specific exemptions that can be applied based on the site specific circumstances. CDFA gave specific guidelines on how these are to be formatted. Templates should be available this spring from the Ag Dept. Not sure how long conditional use permits were taking in Mendocino, but in Sonoma, three years or more is not uncommon. Wasn’t really working. Too expensive.
THE DAY AFTER THAT EXCHANGE, after the Supes had voted to ask staff to work on some changes to increase grow sizes somewhat and streamline a few rules here and add a few there, the County issued yet another cannabis meeting notice:
CANNABIS AD HOC TO HOST CANNABIS CULTIVATION VIRTUAL TOWN HALL
On Wednesday, February 10th 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 discussions with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) regarding the State’s requirement for site-specific California Environment Quality Act (CEQA) review in order for applicants to be eligible for a State Annual Cannabis Cultivation License.
The Supervisors and County staff will also give information regarding CEQA pathway options for Mendocino County Phase 1 or Phase 2 cultivators including the third party consultant framework that was directed by the Board of Supervisors on January 5, 2021.
Virtual Town Hall Details:
What: Cannabis Cultivation Virtual Town Hall
When: Wednesday, February 10, 2021 at 4:00 pm
Who: Mendocino County Board of Supervisors John Haschak and Ted Williams and Planning and Building Services Staff
How to attend:
To join via Zoom, click the link: https://mendocinocounty.zoom.us/j/88027314543
To join via phone, dial: +1 669 900 9128 and enter the webinar ID: 880 2731 4543
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/).
For more information, please contact Mendocino County Planning and Building Services Cannabis Program at (707) 234-6680.
JACK WALLEN: Alan Dershowitz nominating Jared Kushner for a Nobel Peace Prize is like Hannibal Lecter nominating Jeffrey Dahmer for a Michelin Star.
JUST when there's global optimism that the vaccines we all thought would beat back the plague, Dr. Fauci warns that there is increasing evidence that new mutations of COVID-19 can re-infect people who have already caught the virus. Fauci said that he hoped for a faster vaccination of everyone to stop 19 before it can host the new versions.
CEO ANGELO missed three meetings in a row last week, two supes and a Measure B. The new board of Supes isn't likely to be as pliable as the old, sooooo maybe…
POP GOES THE RAZZI, or The Way We Live Now. At last night's NBA game between the Hawks and the Lakers, a young woman, later described by LeBron James as a “Courtside Karen,” went off on LeBron to the point she interrupted the game and was kicked out of the arena. Beneath her layers of paint and eyelashes, Courtside Kar seems to be a very young woman married to a much older man, a wealthy man with courtside seats, a man who has children older than Karen.
HERE'S her version of events: “So, I’m minding my own business, and Chris [husband] has been a Hawks fan forever. He’s been watching the games for 10 years. Whatever, he has this issue with LeBron. I don’t have an issue with LeBron. I don’t give a f–k about LeBron. Anyway, I’m minding my own business, drinking my drink, having fun. All of the sudden, LeBron says something to my husband, and I see this and I stand up. And I go, ‘Don’t f–king talk to my husband.’ And he looks at me and he goes, ‘Sit the f–k down, b—h.’ And I go, ‘Don’t f–king call me a b—h. You sit the f–k down. Get the f–k out of here. Don’t f–king talk to my husband like that.'”
FURTHER INVESTIGATION revealed that LeBron, trying to keep a ball inbounds, crashed into hubby's seat. Hubby tells LeBron to "get your fat ass off my chair," to which LeBron allegedly called hubby "an old steroid ass" something or other, at which point Courtside Karen, standing by her man, goes off to the point where the game is disrupted and she's kicked out of the arena, followed, presumably, by Ol' Steroid.
BEST SUMMARY of the event: “Why do men marry their granddaughters then bring them to basketball games to yell at LeBron James?”
HARD TO BEAT a contemporary sports crowd for pure excess — the women of all ages looking like Courtside Karen, the nobody's home faces of the men. I stopped going to Warriors games after the championship teams of Al Attles and Rick Barry. Tickets were still affordable for people of average means, that jombo thron thing was still in the future. It was pre-psychic overload. A Boonville boy who spent the week in a silent, pastoral wrap could adjust to all the excitement inside the Oakland Coliseum. But suddenly, there was constant, ear-splitting music that never stopped, pole dance routines at every time out, and a run and gun game featuring way too much individual play. And the fans all seemed to be versions of Mr. and Mrs. Courtside Karen.
SONOMA’S SUPERVISOR LYNDA HOPKINS WRITES:
I believe that health care is a human right. And in a pandemic that has killed 265 Sonoma County residents, I believe that vaccine access is a human right, too. That’s why we need a coordinated and universal vaccine approach. We can’t have a system wherein some folks, because of who their healthcare provider is, have an edge over others. We need vaccines for all — starting with the most vulnerable in our community. (And by the way... these folks often lack fancy healthcare plans. They might not be “members” of a local healthcare system.)
I’m hoping we don’t need to strong arm anybody into doing this. I’m hoping our healthcare providers will come together with a “one for all, and all for one” spirit the same way our federally qualified health clinics (like West County Health Centers) have.
But right now, we don’t even know how many vaccines Kaiser is getting or giving — to members or non-members. We don’t have a commitment from Sutter to vaccinate nonmembers. Meanwhile, government is footing the bill to vaccinate Kaiser and Sutter members... with our own vaccine supply, when Kaiser receives an allotment directly from the State.
Right now, we are failing at equitable vaccine access. It’s like an orchestra where everyone’s playing in their own tempo and key. We have to coordinate — we have to orchestrate! — or we will continue to face frustrating, anxiety-producing mistakes like the OptumServe snafu. We have to do better, every day.
If the feds and State aren’t stepping up, let’s work together at the local level to make it happen. I can’t get you universal healthcare or a single payer system but I will work day and night to support equitable vaccine distribution and to get you a vaccine when it’s your turn.
(PS — we are currently receiving roughly 6,500 vaccines a week. That’s it. At that rate it would take us roughly 3 years to vaccinate all of Sonoma County. So we also desperately need MORE SUPPLY.)
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
I agree with Lady Bird Johnson: Billboards are a blight on the countryside…
Pot billboards are everywhere in the Bay Area and L.A. I don’t need ANY weed, ever, but hell, if you want to wreck YOUR life, smoke all the oil you want… I tried some “extracts”, back in 1974 or so, and quickly decided that hash oil is shit, and pretty addictive…
These guys want to get rich, on the backs of poor people, while claiming that they are “good for the economy”! Nothing could be less true, since pot farming destroys the environment, sucks up the water, and degrades society while cheapening life itself and creating legions of drug addicts. Nice going guys!
AND: Billboards are ugly! I don’t care what the ad is for, I just don’t think advertising for an extracts company is necessary…
LOADED HEADLINE OF THE DAY (Wall Street Journal): "Biden Wants a $15 Minimum Wage. Here’s What People Say It Would Do to the Economy"
PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING FOR 2-18-21
The Staff Report(s) and Agenda for February 18, 2021, is posted on the department website at:
Please contact staff with any questions.
James F.Feenan, Commission Services Supervisor, Mendocino County Planning & Building Services
My Direct Line: (707) 234-6664, Main Line: (707) 234-6650
BLAHUT THE CONTRITE?
Back in September of 2019 Michael Blahut complained that the AVA had not “asked me one time what my side of the story is.”
The original story was our report of the court case involving an incident which brought Mr. Blahut to court: "Mr. Nice Guy Goes Away"
We simply informed Mr. Blahut that we’d be happy to report his version of events and that he needn’t wait to be asked.
Yesterday, more than a year later, Mr. Blahut finally replied:
“It has obviously taken me sometime to reconstruct the events that happened on that day.
I ordered a cheeseburger and a soda for $2 and change then I passed out. While asleep my foot must have pushed both pedals. I woke up when the air bag went off and my car was in a pole. Then I exited my vehicle and was standing still outside my car. Doug ran up to me and put both hands around my neck. I thought this guy must be crazy and that I should not hit him because I would get into more trouble. I looked around and saw several video cameras in the area, so I felt good about spraying Doug in the face as I ran away. I kept a can of bear mace in my driver’s door. I did not even see the second man who must have walked into the cloud. All video camera footage was erased and unavailable according to my first lawyer Peterson. The woman who was working the drive-thru that day that was going to tell the same story as I disappeared before the trial.
As I left the scene in my 2 strap Birkenstock Arizona sandals (hard to run in those), I stopped when I saw the first police officer. He ordered me to the ground and as I was crouching down another officer that I did not see pounced on my back creating all the injuries I sustained that day. Doug and the Mc D’s manager never pushed me to the ground. I imagine they were told to say that they injured me to get attention away from who really did.
Then I was taken to the hospital and strapped to a gurney and a needle forced into my arm to get my blood alcohol content.
I never contested the DUI. I was offered a deal at the beginning which included only one felony use of pepper spray and did not include the Great Bodily Injury charge. I refused the deal on principal because I did not want to admit to something I did not do and have it on my record. That is when they added the most serious charge of Great Bodily Injury which involves permanent bodily deformation. As the judge said later, the jury does not know the penalties or differences between the hundreds of different law codes.
The appellate court in San Francisco overturned two of the three felonies that I was convicted of. We took the final charge and case to the California Supreme Court in Sacramento, but they did not want to hear it.
I am sincerely sorry for the events that happened that day. I have nothing personal against the family as I have never seen them before that day. I created a wrong and I will do whatever it takes to make things right.”
CATCH OF THE DAY, February 2, 2021
CHARLES GOMEZ, Ukiah. Domestic battery.
ROBERT GOTT, Ukiah. Protective order violation, probation revocation.
CODY LADD, Sacramento/Ukiah. Ammo possession by prohibited person, parole violation.
‘BE READY TO FIGHT’
by Mark Danner
Harsh and gray dawned the day of the Stupid Coup, with a lowering sky of dense dark clouds, slippery muddy grass underfoot, and a stiff, unforgiving wind that kept the “Stop the Steal” flags flapping. Face-painted and brightly festooned pilgrims bearing banners—snarling Trump straddling a tank, pumped-up Trump-as-Rambo brandishing a machine gun, grimacing Trump as motorcycle gang chieftain—milled about the archaic hulk of the Washington Monument looking like the remnants of a postapocalyptic cult, with beefy bearded men in camo pants and Harley jackets, and women wearing red, white, and blue sweatshirts and draped in red “Make America Great Again” flags like Roman togas. And everywhere on hats and helmets and sweatshirts and pants was that double-plosive syllable he had spent his life affixing to buildings and airplanes and “universities” and steaks and vodka: “TRUMP: NO BULLSHIT!” “FIGHT FOR TRUMP!” “JESUS IS MY SAVIOR, TRUMP IS MY PRESIDENT.”
As I advanced toward the White House and the booming, reverberating electronic voices, the crowd began to thicken and finally to coalesce. Before I knew it I had been pressed into a mass of bodies straining toward a faintly gesticulating figure hundreds of yards away, echoed by the crudely pixelated image of an amped-up Eric Trump, magnified a hundred times on the jumbotron, just glimpsable through the MAGA hats and flags. The crowd moved roughly as one, borne along by its rhythmic chants (“USA! USA! USA!” “Stop the Steal! Stop the Steal! Stop the Steal!”), and atop its messy bulk swayed the flags and the stretching hands clutching cell phones, on which the figure on the jumbotron (now the brass-voiced Evita of Trumpism, Kimberly Guilfoyle) was replicated a few thousand times as far as one could see. Pressing my elbows against the bodies beside me I struggled to keep my footing on the wet ground, swallowed the incipient claustrophobic panic, and breathed in the acrid smell of marijuana wafting over us. All we needed was a mosh pit.
“Oh, I love him!” “Yeah, he’s amazing!” The dark-haired young women jostling against me from behind were struggling to hold a sightline to stare adoringly up at Don Jr., now kissing his girlfriend Kimberly. With his slicked-back hair, open-necked shirt, and gaping jacket, he looked for all the world like a just-past-his-prime used-car salesman. “This isn’t their Republican Party anymore!” Don Jr. roared. “This is Donald Trump’s Republican Party!” Preening like a rock star, he extended his hand-mic to the crowd to catch the answering roar. Did the Republicans now gathering at the Capitol hear it? Did Vice President Mike Pence, presiding over the electoral vote certification, hear it? For Don Jr. was shouting out a simple truth that for all its undeniability many in the party had never quite believed or managed to grasp in all its implications. Trump owned them. And as his owner’s prerogative he imposed an unstinting and singular loyalty: not loyalty mostly to him, with some prudently reserved for the Constitution and the law. No. Loyalty entirely to him. Today would be the day of choosing.
(New York Review of Books)
DUPED ON PROP 19
I am a Sonoma County Realtor. A representative from the California Association of Realtors came to a Petaluma chapter meeting last year asking for help getting Proposition 19 on the ballot, saying it would allow wildfire victims, the elderly and disabled people to keep their property tax rate while moving anywhere in the state when selling, never mentioning family transfers would be affected. I took the petitions, had 27 people sign and mailed them to Sacramento.
Proposition 19 made it on the ballot, and to my surprise, not only did it cover the property tax transfer, it removed familial property tax transfers. The family home can only transfer with the current tax rate if their child moves into the home. Otherwise, the family home and income property is readjusted to the current tax value and rate.
I saved print ads and nowhere in any of those does it mention familial transfers of property being eliminated. The video ad I saved shows the privileged with champagne and their mansion and says stop taking money away from our schools by the trust fund elite. It is on record that the California Association of Realtors spent more than $27 million supporting Proposition 19, and even as a Realtor, I was duped by them.
MYSTERIOUS CALIFORNIA SEA LION DEATHS LINKED TO TOXIC SYNTHETIC CHEMICALS
Sea lions in California had been dying of a mysterious cancer for decades. Now, scientists say they have finally uncovered the likely cause: toxic chemicals from industrial trash, pesticides and oil refinery waste.
A team of mammal pathologists, virologists, chemists and geneticists have concluded that sea lions with higher concentrations of DDT, PCBs and other chemicals in their blubber are more prone to cancer triggered by a herpes virus.
THE GROWING FUROR surrounding the vile Marjorie Taylor Greene goes right to the heart of the current crucial Republican dilemma and more specifically, the giant elephant in the room that needs resolving before the party can move on from the Trump presidency which ended in such disgrace and ignominy. That elephant is Donald Trump, who is still here, still falsely howling that the election was stolen from him, and still wielding a malevolent influence over the GOP that threatens to split the party in two. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell sees the danger very clearly, which is why he has turned on Trump, wants nothing more to do with him, is encouraging the new impeachment trial, and wants to see the back of deranged pro-Trump lunatics like Greene who boasted of chatting to the former President over the weekend as she gushed about how wonderful he is. But there are others in the party still so enthralled by Trump and the thumping 75 million votes he got in the election, and terrified of his possible retribution, that they refuse to publicly denounce him or the likes of Greene. Well, these gutless weasels need to grow a pair and put the interests of their party and their country ahead of cowardly self-interest. And they should start that vital process right now by all agreeing that the lying, racist, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, violence-promoting whackjob Marjorie Taylor Greene is an absolutely repulsive, and dangerously deluded, monstrosity of a human being who must be expelled from Congress as soon as possible.
— Piers Morgan
by Linsey McGoey
“Try to persuade your friends, monsieur ... not to force the people into the streets,” George Sand told Alexis de Tocqueville at dinner in June 1848. “For if it comes to a fight, believe me, you will all be killed.” He didn’t want to hear it, especially coming from her. “I was strongly prejudiced against Madame Sand,” he wrote in his Recollections, “for I loathe women who write.” She told him that workers were angry, hungry and well-mobilized, describing “their numbers, their arms, their preparations.” He wasn’t convinced – “I thought the picture overloaded” – but later admitted he was wrong: “It was not, as subsequent events clearly proved.”
After the June revolt was suppressed and Napoleon III took power, Tocqueville appraised the uprising with the benefit of hindsight. Of course, he realized, the workers had “their numbers, their arms, their preparations.” Why? He pauses dramatically: because we taught them! “Half of the Paris workmen have served in our armies, and they are always glad to take up arms again.” It’s an enduring problem of any dominant power: to protect itself, it needs to arm low-ranking soldiers with the weapons and skills that could prove to be its undoing.
Tocqueville’s present-day heirs can take some comfort from the fact that modern armies need far fewer recruits. There has been a lot of talk about the military background of some of the insurrectionists at the US Capitol on January 6, but overall numbers of military personnel have been declining for decades.
Since the United States moved in 1973 to an all-voluntary force, the number of active-duty soldiers has shrunk to less than 0.5% of the population. This figure discounts the country’s increasingly militarized police forces (half as many again), but even combined, police and military are still nowhere close to the “half of Paris workmen” who, Tocqueville estimates, served in the French army. And the would-be insurrectionists among them tend to be on the far right, not the left.
So if young workers in an advanced capitalist nation wanted to launch a revolution, what skills do they have? Millennials and Generation Z are routinely disparaged as “soft.” No matter how hard they toil in underpaid, insecure service and care jobs, they seem to strike many older people as far less tough than their forebears. But war has many theaters. And today, finance is one of them.
Adam McKay’s movie The Big Short, based on Michael Lewis’s book of the same name, tells the story of Michael Burry, an investor who realized that subprime mortgage markets were the tip of a toxic iceberg of overexposure to worthless stock. He made a fortune in 2008 betting against the housing bubble and catching out others who preferred rosy news over Burry’s own dire predictions of impending market failure.
The GameStop saga that’s been headline news for more than a week is a similar story of smart market shorting. GameStop is a video-game retailer based in the US. In itself, the company is not particularly distinctive: simply another midsized company that was once pegged for demise by large hedge funds such as Melvin Capital, which specialize in short selling – selling borrowed stock then buying it back at a lower value to return to the lender, and pocketing the difference.
This obviously depends on the price going down. The risk with short selling is being caught in a “short squeeze”: if, against expectations, the stock price soars, the borrower must take the financial hit. This happened with GameStop. Many large hedge funds had a short position. Then, like a leaking roof that trickles then suddenly gushes, its price began to surge. The surge was hype-based and had little to do with GameStop’s underlying value (but then, market rollercoasters often have very little to do with “real” company value). The share price was driven sky-high by wallstreetbets, a Reddit forum with over two million individual subscribers, who began mass-buying shares and rallying GameStop up – and up and up.
In a few weeks, the stock’s value rose more than 1000% – leading to billions in losses for large hedge funds. Meanwhile, many small-scale Redditors have made small fortunes, enough to pay off student loans many times over.
It may sound like a classic case of David v. Goliath, but that’s not the whole story. The WSB players on Reddit are not all small-scale. One post noted drily that one of the moderators of the forum used to be Martin Shkreli, a notorious “pharma bro” who has drawn rage over the years for price-gouging on lifesaving medicines. According to this version, it isn’t exactly a good guys v. bad guys story. It’s more about less bad guys ripping off worse guys – all the while exposing the most naive investors to heavy losses which they can’t afford.
Yes and no. Behind Shkreli, there are legions of other men and women with different and even noble agendas.
We don’t yet know what the regulatory ramifications of GameStop will be. Nor do we know its emancipatory potential, its capacity to level the market aristocracy. Years ago, old-guard leftists would scoff at the idea of a “socialist hedge fund,” dedicated to buying up distressed debt and cancelling it, or using the profits for a strike fund. Now such ideas are on the table, embraced by a new generation who know all too well how powerful and rigged the market really is.
When it comes to the great financial “casino,” as Susan Strange dubbed it in 1986, today’s young are tired of being manhandled like plastic chips, scattered by “invisible hands” that may be hard to see, but are clearly good at hoarding. It would be prudent not to underestimate the young. The chips have eyes, they can see the market is rigged, and they are taking notes on its vulnerabilities.
For decades, powerful hedge funds have derailed post-Depression financial reforms, while private equity buccaneers dodge the levels of income tax that any mid-level office or health worker pays. The market is not a democracy, it’s feudalism, and the lords expect subservience from well-pampered regulators.
With GameStop, we don’t know, and will probably never know, who threw the first stone. Maybe it was someone like Shkreli, or maybe it was a young girl, pulling an even faster one. And why not?
In 2011, a Kazakh woman in her twenties named Alexandra Elbakyan founded Sci-Hub, a pirate website that springs academic articles from behind proprietary paywalls. She notes offhand on its website: “I was able to quickly in three days start Sci-Hub.” The new online warriors have no singular face, gender or nationality, just open eyes and advanced tech skills.
After Tocqueville spent an evening trying and failing to block out Sand’s warnings, he realized something else about the socialist revolutionaries of 1848: “Women took part in it as well as men … and when at last the time had come to surrender, the women were the last to yield.”
(London Review of Books)