Light Rain | 7 New Cases | Councilwoman Meadlin | Lake Low | Tellie Jo | Feller Kuny | Hotel Takeout | Director Willeford | Manager Andersen | Pine Grove | Forest Improvement | Bunyan Days | Ed Notes | Rush Limbaugh | Eureka Productions | Redistricting Mendo | Sleepy Keegan | Yesterday's Catch | Hardy Creek | Oil Lobby | Biker | Turbotax Franchise | Icebird | National Derangements | Log Truck | Biden Love | Tyrannical Mask | Less Traveled | Middleweight Fight | Minimum Wage | Owl Droppings | Medicare Scammers | Nat King Cole | We Breathe | 2020 Jeep | Failed States | Mendocino Messenger
LIGHT RAIN will overspread northern portions of our area this morning as a warm front approaches, expanding to Mendocino and Lake Counties this afternoon while becoming heavier in Del Norte and Humboldt. Mountain snow will be restricted mainly to Trinity County with higher snow levels elsewhere. Periods of showers will continue through Saturday morning, as colder air filters in. High pressure will return with dry weather for most of the weekend and early next week. (NWS)
ONLY SEVEN NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County yesterday...
MARCIA RAFANAN MEADLIN has been appointed to the Fort Bragg City Council. A double native of Fort Bragg, Ms. Meadlin seemed to be the only applicant among the ten persons who applied who enjoys a broad base of support. She fills the vacancy left by Will Lee, who resigned his seat to take a job out of the area.
New Councilmember Marcia Rafanan Meadlin Appointed
At a special City Council meeting on Tuesday, February 16, 2021, held for the sole purpose of interviewing the nine (9) City Council Candidates, the four current Councilmembers voted unanimously to appoint Marcia Rafanan Meadlin to fill the seat left vacant at the end of the year by the resignation of Will Lee. The appointment, which is just shy of two years, will last until a Councilmember is elected to that seat in November 2022.
The appointment followed more than three hours of introductions and questions & answers of the nine candidates. Mayor Norvell commented that any one of the candidates could fill the seat and would add value to the Council, but three candidates really stood out, including Ms. Meadlin. Ms. Meadlin, whose family has lived here since long before our coastal town became known as the City of Fort Bragg has volunteered with the schools, worked with the elderly, assisted with the homeless and worked with the developmentally disabled. During the interview, Ms. Meadlin spoke to her ability to be a voice for and to listen to all members of our community, especially those who may not always be heard, including the Latin and Indigenous communities.
After congratulating Ms. Meadlin for the appointment, she stated, “I am going to do my best and what is best for Fort Bragg.” Marcia Rafanan Meadlin will be sworn in at the regular City Council meeting on Monday, February 22, 2021 at 6:00pm. For the first time in Fort Bragg history, women Councilmembers will outnumber the men – three to two.
WHY IS LAKE MENDOCINO SO LOW?
Even with recent rain, drought conditions beginning in 2020 have caused severely low storage levels into 2021.
As measured in Ukiah, recorded rainfall for 2020 was 11.32 inches, which is 31% of the average rainfall (37.01 inches) and the second lowest recorded rainfall since 1893!
Lake Mendocino relies on year-to-year rainfall to fill as well as water diverted from the Potter Valley Project for supply.
We are hopeful more rain will fall the rest of February and into March, but at this time we do not know how this drought will impact recreation (boating, fishing, & swimming, ect.) at the Lake this summer.
US Army Corps of Engineers, Lake Mendocino
MISSING MENDO PERSON: TELLIE JO SIMMONS
On January 14, 2014, at approximately 1700 hours, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office received a missing persons report for Tellie Jo Simmons. Family members of Tellie Jo reported that they had been unable to contact her since approximately Christmas of 2013. Tellie Jo had previously lived a transient lifestyle in Mendocino County and frequented the Laytonville and Comptche areas. Telli Jo’s cellular telephone had been disconnected at the time of the missing persons report. She is also known by the name of Tellie Jo Myers. Anyone with any information relating to Telli Jo’s disappearance or whereabouts is urged to contact the Sheriff’s Office Tip Line at 707-234-2100.
Age at time of disappearance: 31 years-old
Height: 5 feet 11 inches
Weight: 135 pounds
Eye color: Brown
MCSO #: 14-1174
JAMES MARMON WRITES: I worked with Danny Kuny when I was 23 years old back in 1977.
We were logging some Old Growth up behind the red school house on James Creek between Fort Bragg and Willits. Danny and his dad Fritz were the fallers and I worked with my dad John Woolley on the landing. My dad was the loader operator, I was the landing man. Spent half my time bumping knots. Happy birthday old man. Bumping knots– To cut knots off of a log. The worker on the landing who trims up logs and cuts off missed limbs and branch stubs is often called a “knot bumper.”
BOONVILLE HOTEL & RESTAURANT
Little bits of early spring are starting to show up. This week's take out menu below - orders placed our website www.boonvillehotel.com. Pick up from 5:30 to 6:00pm.
Hoping to see you all someday soon, take good care
2.18.21 Thursday Dinner - CHILE and ORANGE BRAISED PORK over POLENTA - served with a creamy potato puree and broccolini with bagna cauda, simple salad and something sweet too! $36/meal
2.19.21 Friday Dinner - BRAISED BEEF BOURGUIGNON - served with a simple salad and a joansey dessert. $36/meal
2.21.21 Sunday Dinner - SAVORY CLAM CHOWDER with GREEN GARLIC and SOURDOUGH - served with a butter lettuce salad and a joansey sweet finale. $32/meal
COUNTY HIRES MARY WILLEFORD AS INTERIM PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR
The Mendocino County Health and Human Services Agency is announcing the appointment of an Interim Public Health Director.
Mary Alice Willeford, a longtime Mendocino County employee, recently accepted the position. Ms. Willeford has been a county employee for 19 years, notes Dr. Jenine Miller, Mendocino County Health and Human Services Assistant Director. Ms. Willeford has worked at the Public Health Department for the past six years.
“Mary Alice brings over 30 years of fiscal and administrative expertise to her new position. She possesses wide-ranging skills from her many years working in Public Health, as well as nearly two decades working in other county positions,” says Dr Miller.
“Over the last 19 years, I have had the pleasure of working for Mendocino County in two health service departments. I am dedicated to providing services to our community and I’m excited to be part of the Public Health team in this new role. I believe my experience in administration, fiscal, and program management will bring a fresh perspective to the department,” says Ms. Willeford.
Dr. Miller agrees Ms. Willeford’s multifaceted administrative background will be a boon for Public Health.
“There is a notion that a Director of Public Health should always be a nurse or a doctor,” Miller explains. “However, it is a county’s Director of Nursing and Public Health Officer that possess the medical knowledge necessary for guiding and supervising medical staff, as that is their primary area of expertise. Public Health departments depend on strong administrators to help all our departments best serve our community. Mary Alice’s breadth of experience is the perfect match for what we need to augment the team.”
Dr. Miller will work with Public Health to supervise Ms. Willeford, who is beginning her duties on February 21, 2021.
Point Arena Announces Paul Andersen as City Manager
(Will John McCowen become the new Assistant City Manager?)
The Point Arena City Council has promoted Paul Andersen to the position of City Manager. His appointment follows the retirement of Richard Shoemaker. Andersen has worked for the City since 2016, most recently as Deputy City Manager. Andersen will manage the City's day-to-day operations and implementation of the City Council's goals and objectives.
His prior experience includes working as a legislative aide in the US Congress, numerous campaigns for candidates for public office, serving as a Council Member, and representing employees for public-sector unions. Andersen graduated from San Francisco State University in 1992 with a BA in Political Science from San Francisco.
Andersen's Mendocino County connections include serving as a Legislative Aide for former Congressman Dan Hamburg, as an Information Services trainer for the County of Mendocino, as a Field Representative for the former Service Employees International Union Local 707, and as Ukiah City Councilmember.
"It is an honor to be selected as Point Arena's City Manager," Andersen said. "I am looking forward to working with the City Council, staff and the community at large to provide the best possible service to residents and make meaningful positive changes to their quality of life."
NORTH BAY FOREST IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM
Local partners launch innovative North Bay Forest Improvement Program (NBFIP) to provide financial incentives to private landowners to improve forest health and mitigate wildfire risk.
The North Bay Forest Improvement Program (NBFIP), developed by Rebuild NorthBay Foundation (RNBF) in partnership with the Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs) of Mendocino, Napa, and Sonoma County, and Clear Lake Environmental Research Center (CLERC) is a cutting-edge cost share program, providing public funds to support private investment in forest stewardship activities. Funding will support reducing vegetative fuel loads, insect infestation, and disease epidemics on forested private properties in Lake, Mendocino, Napa, and Sonoma County. Specific methods supported by the program may include forest management planning, site preparation, tree planting and protection, forest thinning and pruning, and supervision of these activities will be done by Registered Professional Foresters.
Over the next three years, NBFIP aims to support 40 forest health and resilience projects in the four participating counties, with at least 15 percent of the program dollars benefiting disadvantaged communities. The program is funded primarily by a $1.5M CAL FIRE Wildfire Resilience and Forestry Assistance grant through CA Proposition 68.
NBFIP is accepting applications beginning now. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis; there is no application deadline.
For the application and more information, visit https://mcrcd.org/project/north-bay-forest-improvement-program
(Linda McElwee, Navarro River Resource Center)
THE NORTHCOAST'S CONSERVATIVE DEMOCRATS have no more faithful media stenographer than the Press Democrat. Typical of the paper's press release "reporting" on our alleged representatives, this inane non-news led off Tuesday's on-line edition: "Thompson backs virus aid for smaller counties." A rambling statement of the obvious, the "story" rambled on for nearly 750 cliched words, and was signed by Will Schmitt.
NEAR as we can tell from our Boonville bunker, Texas, that famously independent state of rugged individualists, is suffering its catastrophic power outage because it maintains its own power grid unhooked to the regional grid, meaning Texas can't buy power from contiguous states in an emergency. And it's unhooked to avoid federal regulation.
HE CAN'T be typical of the Lone Star State's elected leadership, but he doesn't seem atypical either, this former mayor of an outback town, but Tim Boyd likely represents the state's Trumper sectors:
BOYD soon elaborated: "I would never want to hurt the elderly or anyone that is in true need of help to be left to fend for themselves. I was only making the statement that those folks that are too lazy to get up and fend for themselves but are capable should not be dealt a handout."
THE GREAT TEXAS OUTAGE could have been avoided. Although Texas suffered a similar but not quite as severe frigid interlude about ten years ago, the owners of the Texas grid figured it was a one-off unlikely to re-occur, and here we are with millions of people "self-insulating" and lining up in sub-freezing temperatures outside markets whose shelves are mostly bare.
RECOMMENDED READING: ‘The Whites’ by Richard Price. At ease Snowflakes, this wonderful crime novel is not about race. The white in Whites refers to the great white whale-like obsessions of seven, multi-ethnic New York City detectives — six men and a woman — in their haunted zeal to finally bag very bad people. As a huge fan of Price's fiction, this novel had somehow eluded my hawk-eyed attentions but, as predicted truthfully by the book jacket blurbs, “Pick it up you won't put it down.” I did, and I couldn't.
RUSH LIMBAUGH has died. I only heard a few minutes of the guy the late Alexander Cockburn memorably described as “the dirigible of drivel,” but even trying hard to understand his appeal to the millions of yobbos who tuned him in every day I didn't get it. I have a memory of a film clip of a sweating fat guy trying way too hard to be amusing, and failing, as he addressed some kind of fascist club lunch with standard Republican witlessness. My second memory of Limbaugh was walking into a noon hour pizza place on Ukiah's North State where a bunch of inland yobs gathered every day to laugh at liberals with their radio daddy, liberals being the “left” you see, and if only a real smart guy like Rush (and people like us) ran the country we'd sure straighten things out. Enter Trump, who forever demeaned the Medal of Freedom by awarding it to Limbaugh.
RUSH LIMBAUGH, BIGOTED KING OF TALK RADIO, DIES AT 70
Rush Limbaugh, a talk radio pioneer who saturated America’s airwaves with cruel bigotries, lies and conspiracy theories for over three decades, amassing a loyal audience of millions and transforming the Republican Party in the process, has died, his wife revealed at the beginning of his show on Wednesday. He was 70 years old.
In a normal 2021 it would be the time to start thinking about redistricting Mendocino County’s oddly configured Supervisoral districts.
About this time in 2011 the then-Board of Supervisors decided to form a redistricting committee made up of civic-minded volunteers from each of the county’s five districts. I was one of them.
We met several times in Ukiah and a few times in outlying cities, poring over maps and legal docs and listening to public input. After several months of exhaustive analysis we came up with two alternative proposals, the most interesting of which was a proposal to move the “Village” of Mendocino a few miles north into the Fourth District because Mendocino has more compatabilities with Fort Bragg these days than with the rest of the ag-heavy Fifth District.
But since the Fifth is so sparsely populated, the proposal would have snagged a number of inland population clusters, including some Ukiah suburbs. Supporters of that alternative thought it would make the Fifth District more politically balanced, not the “coast-liberal” bastion that it now is which, since the late 70s, produced such political luminaries as Charles Peterson, J.David Colfax and Dan Hamburg.
Prior to these mercenary seat warmers, the 5th District was represented by the pragmatic supervisors Joe Scaramella and Ted Galletti, and before them mostly hard-drinking ranchers mostly concerned about roads, road contracts, road locations, and keeping their own property taxes as low as possible.
The Fifth these days is fortunate in the pragmatic and conscientiously representative Ted Williams as its supervisor than the self-interested arrogant reps the 5th suffered under for years prior.
The 2011 Redisticting Committee’s other recommendation was closer to the current configuration but made some adjustments to reflect population changes and to move some of the Willits suburbs out of the Fifth District.
The Fifth District ends up being very large no matter how you draw the lines. Like 2011, the 2021 census undoubtedly undercounts Mexicans. Using census data is inherently skewed by the Fifth District’s low reported numbers, probably even lower this year. In fact, we’ve heard that the 2021 census will show a net drop in Mendo’s population and that will probably result in some enlargements to most district lines just to keep the minimum population balance in each district.
In the end in 2011, however, then-Board Chair Kendall Smith, assumed at this paper to be not only incompetent but mentally unbalanced, ignored all the Committee’s work and came up with her own minimal revisions, declaring that things were fine the way they were and that the liberal lock on the Fifth was fine with her, so there was no need to change any boundaries. A week later all the committee members got pro-forma thank you notes signed by Smith for their ignored work.
Due to covid, the census has been delayed and the accompanying redistricting process has now been pushed out by at least four months, which might mean that Mendo would consider forming another redistricting committee as early as June or July, census data permitting.
If it were up to us, we’d recommend no committee unless the Board wanted to seriously consider updated versions of the 2011 proposals. If they have no desire to reconsider, don’t waste everybody’s time with more meetings; simply have the County’s mapping and elections staff work up a purely mathematical new version of the existing maps and be done with it.
WAKE UP, KEEGAN
On Monday, February 15, 2021 at 10:55 am, Willits Officers were dispatched to an unconscious male in the driver seat of a vehicle.
Once on scene, Officers observed a methamphetamine pipe and other narcotics in the vehicle. The male subject, Keegan Knight, 30, of Ukiah, was awoken and detained. Knight was on active post release community supervision (PRCS) for possession of a controlled substance while armed.
During a subsequent search of Knight and the vehicle, Officers located approximately 1 pound of methamphetamine, a large quantity of heroin, DMT, Xanax pills, suspected counterfeit OxyContin pills, ammunition and other items related to the sale and trafficking of narcotics. Knight was also in possession of a stolen federal law enforcement badge.
Once the investigation was completed, Knight was arrested and transported to county jail for 8 different felony charges. Not limited to multiple counts of transportation and sales of a controlled substance, possession of stolen property and being a convicted felon in possession of ammunition.
CATCH OF THE DAY, February 17, 2021
JOEL ALVAREZ-LOPEZ, Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs with priors, suspended license (for DUI), disorderly conduct-alcohol, failure to appear, probation revocation.
MYQ ATTANASIO, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. (Frequent flyer.)
JOHN GRABLE, Mendocino. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
NOLAN LAWSON JR., Ukiah. Controlled substance, disorderly conduct-alcohol, false personation of another, disobeying court order, resisting.
AARON ORESCO, Ukiah. Controlled substance, burglary tools, no license, conspiracy, probation revocation.
ANDRES REY, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
CHERRI ROBERTS, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. (Frequent flyer.)
STEPHEN THOMAS, Upper Lake/Ukiah. Controlled substance & narcotics for sale & transport, paraphernalia.
BIG OIL’S $10 MILLION 2020 CALIFORNIA LOBBYING
by Dan Bacher
The powerful oil industry lobby in California in 2020 spent less on lobbying in California than it did in 2019, but still managed to defeat legislation it opposed and getting CalGEM, the state’s gas and oil regulatory agency, to double the number of new oil production well permits approved in the state.
The top four oil industry lobbyist employers — the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), Chevron, Aera Energy and California Resources Corporation — spent $10,192,047 lobbying the Governor’s Office, Legislature and regulatory agencies to advance Big Oil’s agenda in 2020, according to data posted on the California Secretary of State’s website by February 1.
The Western States Petroleum Association, the largest and most powerful corporate lobbying organization in California, spent a total of $4,267,181, less than half of the $8.8 million that it spent in 2019. 2020’s lobbying expenses included $1,084,702 in the fifth quarter, $1,220,986 in the sixth quarter, $1,116,397 in the seventh quarter and $845,096 in the eighth quarter.
The San Ramon-based Chevron, a beneficiary of many new fracking permits this year, spent $4,091,501 in California 2020, less than the $5.9 million in spent in 2019. Chevron spent $1,644,943 in the fifth quarter, $1,009, 322 in the sixth quarter, $752,437 in the seventh quarter and $684,799 in the eighth quarter.
Another big spender and beneficiary of large numbers of new fracking permits this year, Aera Energy, spent a total of $795,099 on lobbying California officials in 2020. Aera pumped $290,926 into lobbying California officials in the fifth quarter, $191,660 in the sixth quarter, $200,082 in the seventh quarter and $112,431 in the eighth quarter of the year.
Aera Energy has close ties with the Governor’s Office. In November, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on how Governor Gavin Newsom didn’t follow his own COVID pandemic guidelines when he attended a birthday party for Jason Kinney, a close friend and advisor, at the French Laundry Restaurant in Napa. Kinney is a lobbyist for Axiom Advisors, who lobbies for Aera Energy and other energy corporations.
Jointly owned by Shell and ExxonMobil, Aera produces nearly nearly a quarter of California’s oil and gas production. Aera paid Axiom Advisors $200,000 during 2019 and 2020 for lobbying on oil and gas permitting issues and other matters, according to Donny Shaw and Eric Seidman in Sludge.
“As journalist Steve Horn reported for Capital & Main last June, Aera received the first new batch of fracking permits from the Newsom administration after a months-long moratorium. Newsom had placed a temporary ban on new fracking permits in California in November 2019 following a series of scandals at the state’s oil well regulatory agency, the state’s conservation agency’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources, or DOGGR (now Geologic Energy Management Division, or CalGEM),” Shaw and Seidman wrote.
Finally, the California Resources Corporation, a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum, spent $1,038,266 to influence state officials in 2020. The corporation spent $310,198 on lobbying in the fifth quarter, $344,960 in the sixth quarter, $146,543 in the seventh quarter and $236,565 in the eight quarter.
The oil companies were amply rewarded for the over $10 million that they spent on lobbying last year. In a year of record fires and an unprecedented pandemic, California oil regulators more than doubled the approval of permits in 2020 to drill new oil and gas production wells.
The California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) of the Department of Conservation, the state’s oil and gas regulatory agency, approved more than 1,700 new oil and gas production well permits in 2020, Consumer Watchdog and FracTracker Alliance reported.
“Largely because of a moratorium on high-pressure cyclic steaming—a dangerous technique burning carbon-emitting natural gas to make steam used to coax stubborn oil out of the ground– permits for all types of drilling dropped 14%. Very few drilling permits were used to drill new wells — only 60 new wells were drilled in 2020,” the groups noted.
Since January of 2019, a total of 8,129 oil and gas drilling permits have been approved by the Newsom Administration.
CalGEM approved 3,745 total permits in 2020, a -14.5% change from 2019. They approved 1,709 new oil & gas production well permits in 2020, a +116.6% change from 2019.
The agency approved 1,992 new well permits (EOR & support) in 2020, a -15.8% change from 2019. They also approved 1,753 oil well rework permits in 2020 — a -13.1% change from 2019.
Lobbying is just one of the seven methods that Big Oil uses in California to exercise inordinate influence over California regulators. WSPA and Big Oil wield their power in 7 major ways: through (1) lobbying; (2) campaign spending; (3) serving on and putting shills on regulatory panels; (4) creating Astroturf groups; (5) working in collaboration with media; (6) creating alliances with labor unions; and (7) contributing to non profit organizations.
Last year, even a weak bill recommending health and safety setbacks around oil and gas failed to get through the oil industry-friendly California Legislature. On August 5, three Senate Democrats — Senate Majority Leader Bob Hertzberg, Senator Anna Caballero and Senator Ben Hueso — joined Republican Senators Andreas Borgeas and Brian Jones in a 5 to 4 vote to defeat AB 345, an amended setbacks bill, in a Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee hearing. Those three Senate Democrats received $142,206 in donations from oil and gas corporations.
The inordinate influence by Big Oil on California politicians and regulators has resulted in widespread air, ground and water pollution with huge health impacts on mostly Black and Brown communities living near oil and gas wells.
Between 2008 and 2018 alone, oil and gas companies created a statewide total of over 1.3 trillion gallons of oil and gas wastewater in California, enough liquid to fill over 17.6 million household bathtubs, according to a new report released by Earthworks, along with allies VISION California and Center for Biological Diversity.
The report reveals that California, often portrayed by the state’s politicians and national media as the nation’s “green” and “progressive” leader, is actually one of the worst states in the U.S. when it comes to regulating the oil and gas industry waste.
The regulatory failures range from allowing crops to be irrigated with potentially toxic and radioactive wastewater to storing waste in unlined pits or injecting it into protected groundwater aquifers, according to Earthworks.
Since the first oil well was drilled in California in 1861, oil production has steadily grown in the state. In 2017, California was fourth in the nation in crude oil production, the report noted.
However, by February 2019, the state dropped to the seventh-largest producer as measured in barrels per month. California still produced over 160 million barrels in 2019, despite its dropping share of national crude oil production.
Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association and former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create “marine protected areas” in Southern California, described 2020, a year that the oil industry spent over $10 million lobbying in Sacramento in, as “A Year of Innovation in Motion” on her blog on the WSPA website assessing the year of the pandemic:
“There is no doubt that 2020 was a challenging year for us all, but as we move into 2021 we share a renewed sense of hope that even in tough times our industry and our people will continue innovating to create a resilient energy infrastructure that ensures a safe and prosperous future for us all.
We know this because of the unprecedented year we all experienced – where we were asked to be nimbler and more flexible than ever before to deliver safe and reliable fuels. And in doing so, we didn’t stop innovating, we didn’t stop searching for opportunities to better our people, our processes, systems, and products. That is what we call Innovation in Motion – a spirit of constant progressive thinking that propels us forward. In fact, it’s the very definition of innovation to continue evolving, making better and more informed decisions despite the challenges to better shape the future of our industry and our work.”
However, Liza Tucker, Consumer Advocate for Consumer Watchdog, didn’t share Reheis-Boyd’s rosy assessment that 2020 was a “year of innovation in motion” for the oil industry.
“Exxon just lost $22 billion in 2020, its worst performance in 40 years,” said Tucker. “Exxon and Shell own Aera Energy. This pandemic tripped the oil industry into a death spiral. It was an unforeseen catastrophe for oil industry — and has kicked off a determined move among global leaders like the U.S. to begin a serious transition away from fossil fuels to save the planet.”
“Exxon is a dinosaur, a holdout,” Tucker stated. “It is not even pretending to transition away from its core business, oil production. It remains unclear whether the surety bond insurance industry is going to continue to insure oil industry operations. Some companies are just starting to lose their insurance coverage.”
She recommended that the Newsom administration drastically revise how much oil companies are putting up in bonds in exchange for drilling and reworking wells. The state currently has a $9 billion shortage in bonding required to safely close all of the wells in California.
“This is precisely the time the time for the Newsom administration to tell oil companies who see such a bright future to pony up so that Californians are not stuck holding the bag,” she said.
“Some companies such as BP are scrambling to rethink their strategy, yet there are other oil corporations like Exxon/Mobil and Chevron, major players in California, that think that the industry is going to rebound after the pandemic is over. They are doing nothing to effect a real transition away from the oil business. They are doing nothing transformational or innovative to move away from oil and gas – and are jeopardizing the wallets and health of Californians,” Tucker concluded.
It is no surprise that in addition to his longtime relationship with a lobbyist for Aera Energy and other energy companies, Governor Newsom took $97,000 in campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry in 2019-20, according to the Sierra Club’s “Tracking the Dirty Dollars” project. Check out the fossil fuel industry contributions to California legislators and the Governor here: Report Overview
Dan Bacher is an environmental journalist in Sacramento. He can be reached at: Dan Bacher firstname.lastname@example.org.
IT’S TAX SEASON: INSIDE TURBOTAX’S 20-YEAR FIGHT to Stop Americans From Filing Their Taxes for Free
Using lobbying, the revolving door and “dark pattern” customer tricks, Intuit fended off the government’s attempts to make tax filing free and easy, and created its multi-billion-dollar franchise.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
The US in the last several months has really proven how deranged and feckless a nation it is.
Consider these optics:
Grown men dressed as Vikings and Chewbacca from the Star Wars movies breaking into a national Capitol of a country of 325+ million ppl.
A clownish attempted political conviction of a former President on accusation of incitement of insurrection for saying stuff like “You better fight like hell or you won’t have a country anymore.” The trial had Hollywood style videos but zero sworn eyewitness testimony.
A sitting President who is so old, cognitively challenged, and decrepit, that he can only handle 20 minute public appearances.
“JOE BIDEN'S FAMILY'S refreshingly normal. There aren't any weird sex scandals or protracted drug problems or ongoing criminal investigations you've got to worry about. Want to know what the Bidens are doing this weekend? A recent headline in Newsweek will tell you, 'Joe Biden Wins in Mario Kart Race Against Granddaughter at Camp David.' Wholesome stuff like that, not secretly lobbying for China or impregnating strippers from Arkansas. No, they're playing Mario Kart with the grandkids, just like you. At the heart of this great American family is a love story; a man and a woman united in the fires of passion that changed the course of our history. Not since Mark Anthony dined with Cleopatra in downtown Antioch before they killed themselves has a country witnessed a love story as moving and poignant as Jill and Joe's.” — Tucker Carlson
THE ROAD NOT TAKEN
by Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE NOT COMPETENT to assess economics of minimum wage.
A Congressional Budget Office Report on the Raise the Wage Act of 2021 underpins a February 11 Washington Post editorial headlined, “Democrats Must Listen to the Data.” The Post laments that a $15 minimum wage would (according to CBO) eliminate about 1.4 million jobs when fully in effect, with half of the job losers leaving the workforce. Because of the projected fall in employment, the CBO also calculates that a $15 minimum wage would increase federal budget deficits by $54 billion dollars over ten years while adding $16 billion to federal interest costs.
PHONE PESTS, a reader writes:
Medicare hassle —Do other people resent the invasion of their privacy on the part of Medicare? I have had TEN phone calls just this week, & at least 7 last week, wanting to SELL me a new Medicare policy! I got a brand NEW Medicare policy last Winter, before Christmas, that didn't come into use UNTIL January 1st, so I have NO NEED of more pressure from insurance salespeople! I'm a disabled elderly woman, & currently don't have a cell phone, so when I'm sitting at my computer, which I do for several hours each day, & the phone rings, it takes me five rings to GET to my phone, & half the time whoever is calling hangs up by then. People who know me either e-mail me, or wait for six rings, cause they KNOW it takes me time to get there! Sometimes Medicare sales people phone at 7:30 in the morning, too, when I'm a night owl who doesn't go to bed til 2am! So I'm getting really FED UP with the calls about Medicare. Any advice????
"IF WE HAVE PRESENCE OF MIND then whatever work we do will be the very tool which enables us to know right and wrong continually. There is plenty of time to meditate, we just don't fully understand the practice, that's all. While sleeping we breathe, eating we breathe, don't we? Why don't we have time to meditate? Wherever we are we breathe. If we think like this, then our life has as much value as our breath, and wherever we are we have time."
IF IT WERE A NARCO LAB, IT WOULD BE WORKING
by John Perry
On the day he was inaugurated, Joe Biden halted the construction of Trump’s Mexican border wall. A few days earlier, 1500 miles to the south, a new “caravan” of at least eight thousand Honduran migrants had set off northwards, partly in the hope that by the time they tried to cross into Texas, Biden’s promised softening of immigration policy might have taken effect.
Obstacles left by Trump still stand in their way. Agreements he made with Honduras and Guatemala led to police attacking and dispersing the refugees. Scattered groups are still heading towards the Mexican frontier at Chiapas – according to one Trump-era official, “now our southern border” – where they will face Mexican troops. If they eventually reach the Rio Grande, they’ll join 25,000 asylum seekers in camps, waiting to be processed by US border officials. Roberta Jacobson, Biden’s official charged with forming his new “secure, managed and humane” migration policy, has asked them to be patient and pleaded for no new arrivals.
Why do people take these risks? The truth is that Honduras is a failed state and, unless US policy towards it changes radically, many thousands more will head north. Since the military coup in 2009 there have been three corrupt elections. The last, in 2017, which saw Juan Orlando Hernández (JOH) re-elected when he had clearly lost, led to even more repression. Persecution of human rights defenders is unceasing, even after international condemnation of the murder of Berta Cáceres five years ago. Seven were killed in 2020, and four young leaders from Garifuna communities, abducted in a single night seven months ago, are still missing.
Curfews during the Covid-19 pandemic appear to have worsened the day-to-day violence: eleven corpses were found in the street in one week in January; bodies are being chopped up and left wrapped in plastic. Perhaps the most emotive case occurred earlier this month: a doctor and student nurse, who had been working with Covid patients, were arrested for breaching the 9 p.m. curfew. The doctor was freed, but the nurse died in police custody. Protests erupted. Five people were arrested, tortured by the police and forced to confess to crimes they didn’t commit.
In November, two hurricanes hit a country totally unprepared for them, destroying 6,000 homes and seriously damaging 85,000 more. By December, JOH was touring financial institutions in Washington looking for money. He collected more than $3 billion in aid for hurricane victims, despite well-publicized corruption in the disbursement of funds donated earlier to tackle Covid-19. Shortly after his visit, federal prosecutors in New York – who a year ago established that JOH had created a narco-state – filed documents in a new drugs case. After quoting JOH saying he would “shove the drugs right up the noses of the gringos” by flooding the US with cocaine, they accuse him of “embezzling aid money provided by the United States through fraudulent non-governmental organizations.” A Honduran narcotics lab, protected by the military on JOH’s orders, had been sending hundreds of kilos of cocaine to Miami every month.
The massive disruption caused by the storms provoked a fresh peak of Covid-19 infections: 1100 new cases on a single day in mid-January, the highest so far. Weakened by corruption and underfunding, the health service is overwhelmed. At least 75 doctors and dozens of nurses have died, many as a result of overcrowded wards and poor equipment. “We have to wait until someone dies to give their bed to someone else,” a doctor said.
To fill the gaps, seven mobile hospitals were ordered last March but only two are working properly. The head of the agency which made the $47 million deal, accused of corruption, was sacked. People protested under the banner: “If it were a narco lab, it would be working.”
Biden’s immigration policy includes spending $4 billion in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to address the problems that spur migration. It should be obvious, not least from the evidence accumulated by New York prosecutors, that the ruling party in Tegucigalpa is unfit to govern, even if JOH is replaced in elections in November. But the problems go much deeper than that: the whole governing system serves the needs of big business – often North American companies – as it exploits both the land and the workforce, destroying the environment and maintaining the second biggest gap between rich and poor in Latin America. Throwing money at the problems could simply make them worse unless Biden makes the fundamental changes in US policy that both Obama and his secretary of state Hillary Clinton refused to contemplate. Perhaps aware that this won’t be achieved quickly or easily, Biden officials appear to have quietly asked Mexico and its neighbors to continue to deter migrant caravans, even as a new one is said to be forming.
JOH meanwhile faces not only political rejection but possible extradition if the US turns against him. He’s reported to be “trying to figure out how to refashion himself from a Trump ally into a Biden one.” He tweeted a photo of himself with Biden in 2015: “I hope we can work together,” he wrote, “like in the past.”
(London Review of Books)