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HIGH PRESSURE building off the North Coast will lead to a period of drier weather expected to last through much of the week. However, a few weak fronts will clip Del Norte County, bringing a slight chance of light precipitation to that area. (NWS)
3 NEW COVID CASES reported Monday for Mendocino County.
FROM SUPERVISOR WILLIAMS:
Vaccine Rollout Status
The COVID-19 vaccine rollout has been frustrating. Imagine the county receiving a set allocation of vaccine doses with advance notice of delivery dates and quantities. We’d author a plan and execute orderly administration, taking reservations, providing notice and preventing chaos. Unfortunately, this is not the dynamic. The matrix of unknowns is enormous with constant changes. Our government systems were not built to respond to rapid changes. Garbage in gives you garbage out. As a sole Supervisor, I don’t have authority over the day to day implementation, but I’ve been fortunate to enjoy the opportunity to participate hands on in assisting the effort. Anyone who believes there is an easy solution (“if they would just…”) is missing the background details. Just some of the difficulties:
- Vaccines arrive to multiple entities. The county oversees one entity, public health.
- differences in staffing, facilities, location, etcetera necessitates rollout irregularities.
- Nobody knows how much will arrive until days before. This makes it difficult to advertise.
- Once vaccines arrive, injection should happen within about 48 hours.
- Deliveries have varied between hundreds and thousands doses.
- Commitment does not always pan out.
- Ratio between hospitals and county have varied greatly.
- The feds committed to vaccinating Long Term Care Facilities, but then stalled.
- Had we done it, we would have vaccinated fewer within the county.
- The state has forced the county to transition between five different computer systems in a short time.
- The state advertises groups as eligible, yet doesn’t provide us with supply to follow through.
- Once vaccines are thawed in the morning, there is a short, hours-long window for use.
- People sign up as healthcare workers when they are not. Same in every category.
- We advertise 2nd dose clinics and find many people have signed up to get a first.
- People from other counties register, clogging our systems. Booted, but a drain.
- At the Mendocino High event on 2/2, we booted 49.
- The state’s “myturn” software/website is flawed. If someone would give me the code, I’d fix it.
- We get graded on compliance with state plan. If we fail to meet requirements, supply gets reduced.
- We don’t have autonomy to devise our own allocation plan. We’re an agent, not authority.
- Administered vaccines must be logged through a vaccine system designed to track child vaccines. Old technology. We were told our third party clinic partners were not logging, but it seems perhaps it’s the systems lagging. Eye roll.
- Not everyone has a local health care provider. Not everyone has a cell phone. Not everyone has Internet access. The county doesn’t have a directory of the population by category.
Hearing the legitimate feedback that not everyone is on the Internet continuously, Cici attempted a radio advertisement for a drop-in Adventist Health vaccine clinic today in Fort Bragg. Towards the end of the event, it was clear radio outreach was not sufficient. The goal was to reach a different audience, but it didn’t generate the demand social media creates. My post reached too many, but hand selecting would also be met with angst. Impossible circumstances and it was important to make the most of 45 doses. I applaud Cici for the attempt to improve equity. She’s been the best face for Adventist Health and works around the clock. I know how much she works, because of our constant dialogue over difficulties. All of the clinics have worked diligently in collaborate.
I understand the frustration with short notice. As we make the most of the situation handed down, there are times when short notice is the best we can do. My goals in order of priority:
1) Maximize overall doses to Mendocino County (through compliance, advocacy, supporting staff)
2) Vaccines in appropriate arms as quick as possible.
3) Equity in distribution.
4) Mitigate public stress.
We’re doing reasonably well on doses per capita and timely application.
Compared to the state and nation, we’re near the top of the list. As demand levels off, I believe equity will improve. You can help by looking out for people less able to track announcements. If you have an elderly neighbor in need, be an advocate. Mitigating public stress is important, but we’re in a mode of choosing compromises and it’s not always the most important. Hopefully upstream changes will address chaos. Whether or not you can see it, people are working hard for you. The actual delay is in pharmaceutical company production and distribution.
SIGNAL RIDGE, OR COLD SPRINGS MOUNTAIN: A Little History
by Anne Fashauer
Thanks to “Abhorrent in Albion” for the inspiration for this article (what a moniker, maybe not hiding your identity would be better than labeling yourself as abhorrent?). I often struggle to find topics to write about, but thanks to Abhorrent I was inspired to interview my 90-year-old cousin, Joe, for the ridge and family history below.
A little background; my family came to this area in the early 1900s — I found a census record for 1905 from when they lived on the ranch on Greenwood Ridge. My father, Francis, was born in 1905, not quite the youngest of nine children, two of whom did not survive infancy. My grandparents emigrated from Germany — my grandmother, Anna, for whom I’m named, from Cologne (Koln) and my grandfather, Louis, from Kaysersburg, in what today is France. So, yes, I am indeed rooted in this community.
My family acquired a large piece of land atop what was then called Cold Springs Mountain in 1946 or 1947, when my cousin was 16. He and my father found the property for sale for $5,000 for the 350-400 acres. At the time the land was covered with “virgin timber” that was described as “not worth cutting.” $5,000 being a lot of money at that time, my father and cousin reached out to other family members and friends to partner up and buy the place. The intent was to make it a hunting club — to this day some of them still call it “the club.” There were ten “shares” and ten partners: my cousin, Joe, his father, Joe Sr., my father, Francis, my uncle Tony and several family friends — Slim Fowler, Rex and Halsey McCart, Ray Guthridge, Ray Salou and Fred Lieke. (I may have misspelled one or two of those, but that’s the best we could do). Slim was an old family friend who met my uncle Tony while living in the same boarding house in San Francisco, Rex was a cop in Vallejo, where Joe grew up, and Ray Guthridge was his good friend. Ray Salou was the brother-in-law of Slim.
About ten years after the purchase, timber prices started to rise. Neither my father nor my cousin, Joe, wanted to cut the timber, but the other partners did. They entered a five-year contract where they got $10.00/thousand board feet for redwood and $4.50/tbf for the Douglas fir. Joe can’t remember the exact amount of timber, but he thinks it was around 7 million board feet. Unfortunately for the partners, by the end of the five years, redwood prices had gone up to $80.00, but they never saw that. A side story to this was that Rex and Halsey McCart had another brother, Armand, who had been gold mining up in Alaska but decided to come down and work in the woods during the timber harvest. He should have stayed in Alaska; he was crushed to death by a falling tree on his first day on the job.
Along the way, the partners added to the property up on Signal Ridge, buying a total of eleven 40s to bring the total acreage up to about 750 acres. They got these from tax sales — when folks didn’t pay their property taxes the County sold them off cheaply.
At some point along the way one of the partners, Fred Lieke, wanted out. He decided to put the whole place up for sale and put an ad in the Wall Street Journal. This upset most of the rest of the partners and they ended up buying him out. Over time, many of the partners died and their widows sold the shares back to the remaining partners. Today, there are fewer partners, with some members holding more shares than others; I do not own a share, but my mother does.
As a child I would go out to the “Lookout” with my dad a few times per year. Mostly we went during deer season. I call it the Lookout because that is what it was often referred to as by my father. I asked Joe about this. At the time that they bought the property there was a fire lookout tower on the property. It was an old tower but the department of Forestry would still use it; the agreement was to pay the “Club” a dollar a year for the use. Joe remembers that my dad got that dollar once. There was also a road that ran from Mountain View Road, across the Crispin ranch, and out to Philo-Greenwood Road. Joe says that the Forestry people put that road in along with a phone line from the Crispin side. A few years into the partnership’s ownership of the place the government came in and “condemned” two acres that included the tower and ended up putting up a newer tower. I don’t know if the tower that is there now is that one or if it was rebuilt again later. I think it is probably the same one.
Also, when I was a child, my dad and uncle Tony would go up every year and burn off the place, mainly to keep it open for deer to graze and make better hunting for them come August and September. Apparently the first big burn up there was done by the Piper ranch in the mid-1950s — he told them he was going to burn, did they care? And he apparently burned “the whole canyon.” I remember the burns but they were no longer allowed at some point and after that a lot of the Douglass fir and some of the redwoods started to come back. Most of that in turn burned in 2008 during one of the many lightning strike fires of that summer.
This brings us to the property I have listed for sale that so upsets Abhorrent, the 100 acre property that abuts my family’s land and sits just below the Lookout tower and the various cell towers on top of the hill. I asked my cousin about that land. I don’t remember anything much about it as a kid going up there — in my memory it was fairly open or at least filled with low brush. Joe confirmed this — he said it was covered in brush and that they would put the dogs in there and have them scare out the deer. He said there were probably a few scrappy firs and some tan oaks there by the time the current owner purchased it and opened it for the vineyard. Hardly the uprooting that so upsets Abhorrent, unless she has a deep love for brush and the fire danger it brings. As for any pesticide or fumigant use, perhaps Abhorrent can educate herself in what actually goes on in a vineyard, any vineyard, before throwing out wild accusations that have no factual basis. As it turns out, this vineyard is both dry farmed and organic.
And then there’s that sales commission that also seems to upset Abhorrent. It’s normal, of course, for Realtors to make commissions, and I imagine all businesses have some sort of profit structure built into the system. I, personally, though make sure to donate at least 3% of my gross earnings every year to mostly local non-profits. So, if I should end up selling that property, my community will benefit from the commission as well.
But back to Signal Ridge — the views from up there have always been stunning; we used to drive up to the top where the tower is, before it was fenced off, and watch the sun set over the ocean. There are few folks living up there, just the Ludwigs and a few others. It’s quiet and peaceful and beautiful. Oh, and besides the mere 14 acres of vineyard, the remaining 86 acres are still covered in brush and some timber.
JONAH RASKIN: I was scheduled to do a Zoom event Sunday, but it was zoombombed and the event could not take place. I am sorry. The person or persons who did the zoombombing used the “n” word and the “f” word and made sexist and ageist remarks. I am afraid there will be more zoombombing. I call it sabotage.
AV FIRE CHIEF Andres Avila told the Community Services District Board at last week’s monthly meeting that as reported last month CalFire intends to stop responding to emergencies in Anderson Valley through the CSD’s long standing “Automatic Mutual Aid Agreement” because, Calfire management said, “it reduced firefighter stress.” Never mind that the long-standing practice has elicted no reports of stress from local Calfire staffers, and that Calfire responses have many benefits for themselves such as training, knowledge of the local area, coordination with local departments, plus, of course, faster local response in many cases because Calfire staff is on duty when many volunteers are at home and have to drive to the nearest firehouse to respond to an emergency call.
“As I was looking into reasons for this unexpected change to find any possible solutions for the situation, I was again surprised by CalFire when they contacted me to expedite the dissolution process for an implementation date starting March 1, 2021,” said Avila. “During the [County Fire] Chief’s meeting last month we learned that other local fire departments are also having difficulties with Mendocino CalFire Unit. Reportedly, some departments are not receiving full payment for their extended services in assisting CalFire during this last fire season. Others have stated that they are not being allowed to receive their portion of the Assistance By Hire Agreement (ABH) during their deployments. This recent change and lack of cooperation triggered a response from the Mendocino County Fire Chief’s Association (MCFCA) to write a letter to the CalFire Region Chief, our Assembly Member James Wood, and to our County Board of Supervisors.”
So far, Avila added, no response from anyone in authority.
“AVFD has a good volunteer fire and EMS crew,” continued Avila, “and I believe we can hold the load [i.e., continue responding mostly to medical and traffic calls], but we will need to hastily modify to any response gaps that will occur after March 1. My guess is that we will see our largest impact at night when volunteer responders are at home. CalFire’s Boonville station is staffed at night which gets a unit responding within three minutes of a dispatch. AVFD’s volunteer model will cause extra time at night for the first out engine due to personnel traveling from their residence to the fire station. Again, as I stated in last month’s Chief’s report, this is coming from upper management and not our local engine companies or local Battalion Chief. I could only imagine it would be difficult for the CalFire crews to listen to calls nearby without being allowed to respond and make a positive difference.”
IN OTHER CSD NEWS, arrangements are underway for the recently-County approved “perc test” at the Boonville Fairgrounds back lot to see if the ground there will allow for injection and disbursement of treated wastewater from the downtown Boonville sewer project now in the final planning stage. “Fair Manager Jim Brown will get a letter from the County,” said CSD Board Chair Valerie Hanelt last week. Hanelt said she’d already been in contact with the consulting engineer and Mr. Brown and Mr. Brown was courteous and cooperative. An initial visit will be for familiarization with the area and the terrain; a second visit will follow with the actual perc test. “We’re still looking at the Shapiro property” [down behind the Farrer Building across Anderson Creek], added Hanelt, and, to make sure all the options are explored, they’re going to take one more look at the airport and high school areas to see if the technical limitations they’d previously identified there still apply or can be mitigated.
THE MENDOCINO COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, A HISTORY (Part 1)
by DA C.David Eyster
UKIAH - During the first half of the 1890's, JAMES EMMONS PEMBERTON served as Mendocino County District Attorney.
The terms in office at that time were two years and he served two terms (1891-1892, and 1893-1894). He was the 12th attorney to serve as Mendocino County's DA and he held a California State Bar number of 6591.
The following biographical sketch is taken from American Biography and Genealogy - California Edition, Volume 1, by Robert J. Burdette; Chicago, New York: The Lewis Publishing Company :
"James Emmons Pemberton, whose career is here briefly outlined, maintains his residence in Ukiah, the metropolis and judicial center of Mendocino county, where he still has a law office, but much of his professional work is now done from his San Francisco office 322 Mills building.
After a few years’ residence near Petaluma, following their arrival in this state, the family moved northward in 1872 and his early experiences were those gained under the invigorating and beneficent influences of the old homestead farm in Mendocino county, where he was reared to adult age and where he duly availed himself of the advantages of the public schools. That he did not neglect his scholastic opportunities is assured by the fact that for a period of seven years he devoted his attention to teaching in the schools of his home county.
In the meanwhile, he formulated definite plans for his future career and after a considerable amount of private study along the line of his chosen profession he was matriculated in Hastings Law College, in San Francisco, in which excellent institution he completed the prescribed course and was graduated as a member of the class of 1886, in which year he received his coveted degree of Bachelor of Laws and was also admitted to the bar. He forthwith opened an office in Mendocino county, where he has since retained his residence and where his success in his profession has been on a parity with his exceptional ability and close application, through which he has risen to secure place among the strong, versatile, and resourceful members of the California bar.
He established an office in San Francisco in 1909 and his practice is now of extensive and important order, in both the state and federal courts. He is known as a skillful trial lawyer and has won many decisive forensic victories in connection with important litigations, the while is broad and exact knowledge of law and precedent has made him a safe and duly conservative counselor.
In politics Mr. Pemberton accords a staunch allegiance to the Democratic party and he is an effective exponent of its principles and policies as well as a leader in its local councils.
In 1892 [sic] he was elected district attorney of Mendocino county, and he served the regular term of two years, as defined by the law at that time in force.
He was mayor of Ukiah from 1902 to 1904 and through his careful and discriminating administration of municipal affairs he manifested his generous public spirit and deep interest in the community that has so long been his home.
In 1910 he was his party’s nominee for the office of attorney general of the state, and he made a thorough canvass of all sections of California, thus gaining a wide acquaintance and a personal popularity that could be secured in no other way. Though he made a spirited and able campaign he was unable to overcome the normal Republican majority and thus his defeat was compassed by not extraordinary political exigencies.
In all fraternal way Mr. Pemberton is affiliated with the Improved Order of Red Men, the Woodmen of the World, and the Independent Order of Foresters. He and his family are members of the Methodist church, South, at Ukiah.
On the 10th of July 1886, shortly after his admission to the bar, Mr. Pemberton was united in marriage to Miss Emogene [Janette] Brayton, who was born in Mendocino county but who was a resident of the county of San Diego at the time of her marriage.
She is a daughter of the late Edwin Brayton, who was a representative citizen of San Diego county at the time of his death. Mr. and Mrs. Pemberton have three children, Bennett Edwin, Pearl, and James Emmons, Jr."
[James Emmons Pemberton and his wife, Emogene Janette Brayton Pemberton are both buried in the Russian River Cemetery on Low Gap Road in Ukiah, Mendocino County, California.]
[According to the History of Mendocino County, California, Alley, Bowen & Co., Publishers; San Francisco, California [1880}, James Emmons Pemberton's father was Bennett Pemberton.
Bennett Pemberton was born in Kentucky, January 17, 1833. His mother died in 1837, and at the age of fourteen he, with his father, went to Missouri, where they settled on a farm. In 1850 his father died, and in 1853 Bennett Pemberton came across the plains with ox teams, arriving at Diamond Springs in August.
After mining for about eighteen months he went to Sonoma County, where he followed farming, stock raising, and dairying until 1860 when he returned to Missouri, and married on April 19, 1860, Miss Thurza Emmons, and at once engaged in farming, which he followed until 1865, when he again crossed the plains, bringing his wife with him, and settled again in Sonoma County.
After one year the Bennett Pemberton family moved into Marin County, where he followed dairying until the spring of 1872, when he came to Mendocino County and settled on six hundred acres, located in Potter Valley, where he engaged in wool growing.
Bennett Pemberton and his wife had eight children: James E., Willie, Thurza A., Walter B., Minnie, Etta R., Mary E., and Johnson W. M.]
Additional historical information regarding the Office of the Mendocino County District Attorney can be viewed at https://www.mendocinocounty.org/government/district-attorney/office-history.
Home Delivery from Elk to Ft. Bragg is available on Wednesdays only. Order between Sun, 8am - Mon, 7am.
Note: The Food Hub is trialing Home Delivery to the North Coast during the month of Feb to see if this is a viable option for our organization.
RECOMMENDED VIEWING: "I Care a Lot" (Netflix) is an often funny movie about an unfunny subject — conservatorships, and how conservatorships can be court-certified thefts of the property of the elderly. Featuring Rosamund Pike and Peter Dinklage, there's also a lot of implausible violence but the acting is good, especially these two, and, as I said, it's often funny, although it had me shuddering when I thought about how conservatorships are likely to work here in Mendo, where the underclass, young and old, lucrative until they aren't, are processed in secret hearings before people indifferent to their welfare, ground zero class warfare.
WELL, that was a fast winter, wasn't it? Half the needed rainfall, Lake Mendocino looking like the crater for the Mars Landing, bikers at Redwood Drive-In and here comes a week of 70-plus days. In February. The water delivery trucks are already backed up in their orders for deliveries, and the hill muffins have got to be dreading a very long fire season.
WHERE'S CANCEL CULTURE when you need them? I see the Muppet movies just got nailed by the Appropriate Police for the “sexualization” of an episode involving Kermit the Frog, but not a peep from the local branch or its Frisco auxilliary on Judge Hastings, for whom the San Francisco law school is named. Hastings was a pioneer Mendo guy who raised horses in Eden Valley between Willits and Covelo. He was also California's first state supreme court justice. When the native population of Eden Valley got in the way of the judge's Mendo horse farm, presided over by a murderous 6'7" psychopath called Texan Boy Hall, Hasting had no difficulty persuading his friend, California's Governor Weller, to have the state pay vigilantes to kill Indians. Another psychopath, Walter Jarboe, later Ukiah's first lawman, was duly hired to extinguish native life throughout the Eel River Basin, which Jarboe's Rangers proceeded to do for a full year. Hastings himself spent most of his time in Benicia successfully practicing law, so successfully that when the old Indian killer finally turned up his toes he left a million dollars to the University of California, whose grateful regents named their law school after him.
I think we can agree that most vineyard workers are Hispanic. Have you looked at your county’s stats on the virus? The largest group by ethnicity to have contracted the virus are Hispanics. This probably has more to do with living conditions than with where a person works. Many Hispanics live in large multi-generational households or in the case of vineyard workers, dormitory type settings in farmworker housing. But wouldn’t a way to lower the incidence of COVID in the Hispanic population be to vaccinate as many as possible? Since most vineyard workers are Hispanic, it seems like a good place to start.
Surprisingly, there is a higher incidence of COVID cases in agriculture by percentage than in sales and services in Sonoma County. Read the statistics for yourself.
LAYTONVILLE COUNCIL TO SUPES: 10% POT RULE BAD
by Jim Shields
As discussed here last week, County officials have now decided to expand pot cultivation effectively removing all caps on pot and open up rangeland to growing weed, despite opposition from the Sheriff, small cannabis farmers, environmentalists, and ranchers.
The proposed expansion also comes on the heels of the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Water Board), the State Water Board’s main enforcement arm on the North Coast, recently issuing an Investigative Order that found, “The North Coast Region is inundated with cannabis cultivation in headwaters and main river systems, with active, developed sites in steep and rugged terrain. Cultivation and related activities throughout the North Coast Region have resulted in significant waste discharges and losses of instream flows associated with improper development of rural landscapes on privately-owned parcels, and the diversion of springs and streams, to the cumulative detriment of the Regional Water Board’s designated beneficial uses of water.”
In this space I have repeatedly pointed out that you “can’t grow weed without water,” and that the state’s two primary resource agencies in California’s cannabis regulatory framework — the State Water Board and Fish and Wildlife — have very tough, stringent regulations that need to be complied with in order for local growers to become licensed by the state.
When the water issue was raised at a Board of Supervisors meeting a couple of years ago, the Board’s collective response was, “There’s already checks and balances on water.” What exactly did that mean? And by the way, what are these checks and balances on water?
The State Water Board and Fish and Wildlife don’t operate in a “check and balance” water world. They have very specific rules and regulations regarding water rights, diversion, usage, storage, discharge, etc. Cannabis cultivators must comply with them to get licensed regardless of what the county is obligating or not obligating them to do.
So you’re probably wondering why the Supervisors would decide it’s a great idea at this time despite all the local opposition, not to mention the Regional Water Board’s finding that the area is “inundated” with pot and the resulting water quality and watershed degradation, to remove essentially all the controls from cannabis production. It’s a one-word answer:
Clearly, the economic model the Supes are pushing is bigger-is-better for pot cultivation and the prospective new tax revenues that will be generated by the large corporate model. And needless to say, the oft-heard commitment from County officials regarding the importance of ensuring small farmers remain a vibrant force in the emerging pot industry are just empty words.
Nonetheless, by a 4-to-1 vote (3rd District Supe Haschak voted no), the Board of Supervisors conditionally OK’d a proposed Ordinance, that includes a provision allowing parcels in ag, range land, and upland residential zoning districts that have a minimum parcel size of 10 acres or larger to cultivate up to 10 percent of the parcel area. For example, a 600-acre parcel could have up to 60 acres of cultivated weed, or 100 acres of pot could be grown on a 1,000 acre parcel.
Last Wednesday, Feb. 10, the Laytonville Area Municipal Advisory Council (LAMAC) put the Board of Supervisors on notice that the so-called “10 percent rule” is bad public policy and must be deep-sixed.
The following are excerpts from the letter sent to the County:
Pleased be advised that on February 10, 2021, the Laytonville Area Municipal Advisory Council (LAMAC) took action that approved submitting this letter of recommendations and comments to the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors and Mendocino County Planning Commission regarding the proposed rule that that “Parcels in the AG or RL zoning district that have a minimum parcel size of ten (10) acres or larger may cultivate up to 10 percent of the parcel area.”
The Laytonville Area Municipal Advisory Council is opposed to the expansion of cannabis cultivation based on the 10 percent rule in Ag, Rangeland, and Upland Residential zoning districts.
The following concerns have been identified by the community:
• Planning staff is already overburdened and unable to keep up with the workload required to manage the permitting process for those who have already applied. Expanding cultivation prior to getting caught up with issuing the permits to current applicants would only add to their burden and seems inappropriate at this time.
• Law enforcement is already unable to keep up with the increased number of cannabis violations. By encouraging big grows this inhibits easy accountability to those who are in the system and those who are not.
• Water resources are already negatively impacted by the existing cultivation from lack of best practices and drought. This crisis of losing water within the District would be exacerbated if cultivation were allowed to increase by such proportions.
• We have wildlife and contiguous habitat concerns. We are a county rich with wildlife. It is not in the best interest to move forward with huge grows that may not leave any room for wildlife corridors, fence them off from fleeing from fires, and sucking up the water table. We are fragile and this impact will severely hurt or possibly even kill some sensitive ecosystems.
• It’s important to also note Mendocino County’s goal of protecting small legacy cultivators. Large corporate grows are the antithesis of this. Although it is much more challenging to permit and oversee a multitude of small growers, as opposed to a few large corporate players, this is what the county promised with the original ordinance creating the cannabis program. The intent of honoring and protecting small legacy cultivators should be upheld.
• As you can discern with the issues above, expansion of cannabis cultivation is not in the best interest of the Laytonville Area community. Therefore, the Laytonville Area Municipal Advisory Council opposes the proposal to allow expansion of cannabis cultivation to up to 10 percent of parcel size.
A couple of thoughts prior to signing off for the week.
By my estimation, close to two/thirds of the weed grown in this County is produced in the 3rd District, which ranges north from Willits to the greater Laytonville area and sprawls eastward to Covelo. It also probably has the most rangeland out of the five supervisorial districts.
The 3rd District’s Supervisor, Haschak, and most constituents, including a large number of growers, are opposed to both the proposed 10 percent rule and expanding cultivation in rangeland.
I think if the issue were put before the voters, they’d be inclined to agree with the folks in the 3rd District.
(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, firstname.lastname@example.org, and is also the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live: http://www.kpfn.org)
INVESTIGATING $1.5 MILLION OF UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE CLAIMS FILED BY INMATES OF MENDOCINO AND HUMBOLDT COUNTY JAILS
As the State of California navigates $11 billion worth of confirmed unemployment insurance fraud, Mendocino and Humboldt County authorities are investigating what could be as much as $1.5 million worth of fraud estimated to have been committed by county jail inmates.
NCRA BOARD VOTES TO RAILBANK THE LINE from Willits to Samoa
by Ryan Burns
Early in Thursday night’s Zoom-enabled town hall meeting to discuss the Great Redwood Trail, State Senator Mike McGuire asked everyone in his remote audience to close their eyes and imagine.
“Imagine a strip of land,” he said, “roughly 50 feet wide and running for 320 miles, from the edge of the San Francisco Bay in Marin County through the vineyards of Sonoma County, showcasing the stunning beauty of Mendocino County through the redwood- and oak-studded hills of the Eel River Canyon, and then you’re gonna end your hiking adventure on the fog-shrouded shores of Humboldt Bay.”
While this ambitious trail project remains mostly imaginary, it took a major step forward on Thursday when the board of the North Coast Railroad Authority (NCRA) unanimously voted to railbank the agency’s right-of-way between Willits and Samoa, a move that would allow a multi-use trail to be built atop the existing railroad prism.
“Even a few years ago this [proposal] would have died on the vine,” NCRA Board Member Richard Marks declared afterwards on Facebook. “But the new board enthusiastically supported [the railbanking proposal] and the Great Redwood Trail will become reality and create many jobs and recreational opportunities.”
The board of the NCRA, which will soon transition into a trail authority, directed its staff to submit the necessary paperwork to the federal Surface Transportation Board. In a phone call with the Outpost Friday afternoon, Marks said he sees no reason why the railbanking proposal would be denied.
McGuire, who authored the legislation to dismantle the supremely dysfunctional NCRA and create the nation’s longest rail-to-trail, was characteristically exuberant Thursday evening. He noted that there’s “a ton of work ahead,” including developing a master plan, conducting feasibility and design studies, securing untold millions in funding and, eventually, building the trail.
“But I’ve got to tell you,” he said, “we’re off to one hell of a start.”
Millions of dollars have already been invested, and on December 8, McGuire introduced Senate Bill 69, which he said “will officially, and once and for all, disband the North Coast Railroad Authority, which is a hot mess and is bankrupt.” In its place the bill would create the Great Redwood Trail Authority and empower it to construct and operate eponymous pathway.
The NCRA was created in 1992 in an effort to salvage the floundering freight rail industry in Northern California, but the state agency’s mission — to preserve the rail corridor — was never funded, and when severe flooding and landslides wiped out portions of the rail line through the Eel River Canyon in 1998, the infrastructure remained defunct.
In 2008, voters at the southern end of the line approved the formation of the Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART), a passenger rail system that has since resumed some passenger service with plans to eventually run from Larkspur to Cloverdale.
Kevin Wright, external affairs manager with Marin County Parks, said at last night’s meeting that the southern segment of the Great Redwood Trail will run alongside the existing rail line while the northern segment, from Willits to Humboldt Bay, will likely vary dramatically, with wide, paved bikeways through cities and more narrow, “single-track” sections of dirt trail through more remote areas, including the Eel River Canyon.
“It’s a wild stretch,” he said, noting that having hiked and rafted through there, he’s seen lots of erosion, abandoned boxcars, derelict infrastructure and what he diplomatically called “great opportunities for environmental restoration.” But while acknowledging that some washed-out areas are indeed in bad shape, Wright said 75-85 percent of the canyon is ready and available for trail use.
The rail line, which was formerly leased long-term to the Northwestern Pacific Railroad Co., includes 19 major trestles, 38 bridges and 42 tunnels, the longest of which is 4,313 feet long, Wright said. All these features will be incorporated into the Great Redwood Trail.
Michael Jones, the founder of active transportation consulting company Alta Planning + Design, was on hand Thursday night. (McGuire called him “an all-star in the trail world.”) And he offered an outline of the next steps in the process, including a master plan, which may require an environmental impact report and thus plenty of opportunity for public involvement. There’s also the question of where the funding will come from and who will build it.
Members of the public who live near the right-of-way have voiced concerns about privacy, security, liability, litter, access to agricultural operations and more, and Jones said those issues need to be taken seriously. “The public will have a huge role in this,” he said.
Laura Cohen, western regional director of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, said during the meeting that such public access tends to increase property values along trails while boosting the economies of nearby communities via lodging, tourism, public sector expenditures and more.
He argued that the Great Redwood Trail will eventually take its place alongside the likes of the Pacific Crest Trail and the Appalachian Trail as “an iconic American trail.”
McGuire said that the master plan will ensure that the public will have “a seat at the table” all the way through the process, and he expects it to take a year or two just to get the funding for that plan. But over the past 24 months, partners in this effort have managed to secure about $30 million to move some critical segments forward, including the four-mile gap in the Humboldt Bay Trail between Arcata and Eureka.
The ultimate cost of this ambitious project remains an open question, though last fall McGuire scoffed at a state report that found the price tag could run as high as $5 billion.
“My goal is to do this project right, not fast,” he said, explaining that funding could come from transportation agencies, voter-approved parks bonds, nonprofit groups and/or private investors.
“It’s complicated,” the senator said. “It’s not going to be easy. And we have eyes wide open going into it.”
THE GREAT GRAVY TRAIL
by Mark Scaramella
In the huge, multi-million dollar study which McGuire’s Great Redwood Trail 2018 bill commissioned which was to be completed by last summer (it was), we found these interesting paragraphs:
“Following an open bidding process, NCRA’s Board of Directors approved NWPCo [Northwest Pacific Company, partly owned by NCRA General Counsel and former northcoast Congressman Doug Bosco] as its new freight operator on September 13, 2006, and executed an Operating Agreement later that month. NWPCo is a private enterprise created in June 2006 and should not be confused with the prior owner-operator, North Western Pacific Company L.L.C. (NWPY); the historic name of the rail line, Northwestern Pacific Railroad (NWP); nor the Joint Powers Authority and SMART predecessor described previously on page 15, NWPRA. Following execution of the Operating Agreement, NWPCo and NCRA entered into a series of complicated contracts [our emphasis] that helped finance rehabilitation of the southern portion of the line and lift the Emergency Order 21 from Windsor, south; …”
Let’s pause here for a moment, because they just breezed over an important point that the Trail Dems always leave out. The “complicated contracts” were arranged and/or overseen by Bosco who was involved in both sides of those agreements. And those agreements “help finance rehabilitation” of the southern portion of the line…” The “southern portion of the line” has never had much rail traffic even though it was rehabbed with Bosco arranged financing. According to former (and dissident) NCRA and dissident board member Marin attorney Bernie Meyers, this financing involved Bosco’s NWP “loaning” money at above market interest rates to NCRA which the NCRA then used to pay NWP/Bosco to “rehabilitate” the line. Then some time later the state or feds would reimburse the NCRA through one or another grant and transportation program — with interest — which the NCRA would then pass back to NWP/Bosco, with interest. It’s not clear where those complicated contracts stand now as the NCRA is “disbanded” and the Great Redwood Trail is “banded” in its place.
The state report continues: “…it also left NCRA severely in debt to NWPCo and contractually obligated for up to 99 years with no guaranteed lease payment revenue. These contracts and financial arrangements are detailed on page 23 and Appendix C, OSAE Calculated Value of Net Assets Report.”
No they’re not. Appendix C simply provides a link to raw list of NCRA “contracts and agreements” on a separate state website which is — get this! — 66 pages of very fine, nearly unreadable print larded up with needless minutia and jargon and notes and conditions and easements and permits and who knows what else… Nowhere does it identify, much less attempt to aggregated or evaluate, the debts owed to NWP/Bosco which were acrrued over years and years of insider deals. But we do see elsewhere in the study that around $12 million is owed to NWP/Bosco which isn’t broken down into principle or interest or work done but not paid for.
Funny how they managed to leave those particular details out of the huge Trail Feasibility report/audit. (We assume Mr. Bosco knows exactly how much he’s owed and will make sure every penny of it is paid in the upwards of $1 billion the state plans (hopes?) to spend on the trail project over the next few decades as interest continues to accrue.
We were not surprised to discover, as Ryan Burns notes above, that the study concluded that the trail is allegedly “feasible.” First they grudgingly note that, “The potential trail corridor contains significant feasibility challenges in certain locations, particularly in remote segments within and close to the Eel River Canyon. Key constraints include segments with steep, unstable slopes that destabilize hundreds and occasionally thousands of feet of the corridor; existing right-of-way obstructions that in some locations fully block the corridor; former rail infrastructure (i.e., bridges, trestles, tunnels, and major culverts) that have been dilapidated or destroyed by years of deferred maintenance; and the significant cost of developing a public trail.”
But then, voila! “Despite these constraints most [sic — a curiously imprecise estimate for such an expensive study] of the 252-mile corridor is generally intact with good physical conditions for trail construction. State Parks’ assessment confirmed that the corridor’s gentle grades [sic] lend themselves to interregional non-motorized trail use. If [sic] fully developed, the Great Redwood Trail could [sic] create an outdoor recreation opportunity and commuter corridor that would connect Northern California communities with the Bay Area.”
And here’s another neat trick: They claim that “most of the 252-mile corrider is generally intact…”and that maybe 15-25% is not, or 75% to 85% is “intact.” That high percentage estimate is very misleading however. Because it uses the entire 252 mile fantasy as the denominator. That means that upwards of 25% (let’s assume the high number because you know they’re trying to downplay it) of the 252 miles is “dilapidated or destroyed by years of deferred maintenance; and the significant cost of developing a public trail…” 25% of 252 miles is 63 miles! So that means there’s probably at least 63 miles of the proposed trail where 100% of it (to use their percentage trick in reverse) will need “significant cost” to make into a trail and is therefore NOT FEASIBLE. (For rough comparison it’s 68 miles from Ukiah to Leggett.) Making the entire project NOT FEASIBLE.
The study continues, “Trail development may [sic] also consider [sic] inclusion of river restoration opportunities, such as [sic] removal of collapsed rail infrastructure and rail cars from the river, enhancing the value [sic — what “value”?] of the trail and therefore its potential [sic] feasibility. At this preliminary assessment stage, it is unknown whether environmental restoration would be a requisite [sic] part of trail development, which would need further investigation to be determined. Due to access challenges [sic], the costs to remove abandoned rail debris would be high [i.e., NOT FEASIBLE]. Recognizing the complexity of this section of the corridor, an alternative narrow, soft-surface trail may [sic] be readily developed and maintained over time [sic], compared to a Class I hard-surface trail.”
They don’t say where this “alternative narrow, soft-surfact trail” would be located, presumably NOT on the NCRA right of way which means eminent domain seizure of private land over miles of alternatives routes.
And they don’t even mention the further collapses that will be caused by the construction itself (which will steepen the already steep slopes) nor the ongoing collapses that will continue in the unstable Eel River canyon over the years and decades over which this Great Boondoggle will generate millions of dollars for well-connected hacks and consultants and planners and engineers thus becoming the new Gravy Train, er, Gravy Trail of the Northcoast. First there was the Little Train That Never Was, and now there will be the Great Trail That Never Will Be.
CATCH OF THE DAY, February 21, 2021
RODOLFO COLLICHAN, Fort Bragg. DUI, no license, probation revocation.
BENJAMIN KEATOR, Redwood Valley. Controlled substance while armed, stolen loaded weapon, ammo possession by prohibited person, felone with firearm, controlled substance, personate to recorded document, failure to appear.
TRENA MAGDALENO, Ukiah. DUI, no license.
TRINIDAD MAGDALENO-PULIDO, Ukiah. Controlled substance while armed.
I'M BLACK ALRIGHT, but I've lived a lot whiter than the majority of white fighters now in the ring. No one can deny I've fought everyone selected for me. I don't play the caberets and I've never been in court on any charge, but what has it got me? One thing you can be sure of, if I were Champion tomorrow, I'd be just as unassuming and peaceful as I am now.
- Harry Wills
A BIG, SHINY, HOLLOW PUZZLE
by Tommy Wayne Kramer
We’ve been hearing “change is good” for so long some of us believe it, but the more changes I see the more things get worse.
The newest and greatest improvements do not make for a better world, at least not my world. Google and cellphones and self-driving cars are huge advances but if they vanished tomorrow I’d be thrilled.
RANDOM EXAMPLE: Think of Sitting Bull, the Lakota chief who late in life visited the eastern shores of a still-young America. He left the big blue skies of Montana to witness a civilization illuminated by gas lamps above brick streets alongside buildings 60 feet high. Maybe he ate citrus fruit and chocolate.
In 1885 Sitting Bull co-starred in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, a touring act featuring Annie Oakley, William Cody himself, and a cast that included wild animals, soldiers and Indian warriors. He was applauded, gave out autographs, and earned a robust $50 weekly.
And yet, having seen the blossoming wonders of the late 19th century and the undeniable grandeur of Philadelphia and New York, mustn’t he have suffered despair all the while? How could he have not been melancholy? How could he have not longed for his tranquil past and happy life on the western plains?
He was famously quoted: “I’d rather die an Indian than live as a white man.”
Sitting Bull was marooned among people with whom he could not easily communicate in their chunky, staccato language, and must have felt semi-mute and lonely. No matter the comforts and amenities of Schenectady, only home across the countless miles of mountains and prairies, could truly be comforting and beautiful.
Everything in his new world we would view as improved compared to his primitive years among the ponies and the tipi lodges. But to Sitting Bull life must have seemed drab and sterile inside an artificially lit, plaster-lined room in Trenton.
All those marvelous changes and all those incredible improvements, yet life itself becomes less fulfilling? Less meaningful?
And I say, Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about, with today’s astounding digital wonders (5G networks! Uploads on demand!) because they all add up to no more than another big, shiny, hollow puzzle.
I’m lost in the 21st century and getting loster. The world keeps moving forward one gigabyte at a time, or six, while I’m standing at the station hoping to buy a bus ticket to take me a few decades back home. There’s a flask in my coat pocket and I’m ready to travel to yesterday to forget all the things I learned in the future.
I still don’t know what apps are, Bitcoin scares me, and though I can define words like streaming, chrome, cloud and apple, none of them mean what they’ve always meant. I dislike reading off a backlit screen, and soon enough there will be no books, no libraries, only digital impulses transmitting stories about dogs, celebrities and politicians saving the world. The stories will be assembled via algorithms.
Children educated at computer screens suggest we aren’t serious about educating children, and news from Harvard that one-plus-one no longer equals two proves it. To laugh and call such arithmetic nonsense is a crime at universities opposed to honest thinking and diverse opinion. Students are hypnotized into victimhood. Friends advocate banning freedom of speech. Airline passengers bring chickens aboard for emotional support.
Society turned a corner and I didn’t. I’ve spent 35 years out of step, vaguely misplaced, bewildered, unable to make rhyme with my fellow inmates. I don’t understand feeling glum at the death of a game show host. I cannot comprehend “Americans” destroying our monuments, dragging statues of our ancestors through mud, and vandalizing sculptures of Abe Lincoln and the Virgin Mary. Storming the Capitol and breaking beautiful old doors and stained glass sickens me. What is Beyonce?
Travel, getting simpler, is more difficult. I’m using sextants and a compass to make my way, while another layer of digital stuff “navigates” people where they’re going without anyone knowing how they got here. Cars are ugly and all look alike and pretty soon they’ll drive themselves, meaning machinery will guide me, not vice-versa.
But no. No it won’t. Let me thunder down Highway One again at 70 miles an hour in a Mustang convertible, Bob Dylan on the dashboard jukebox, Sitting Bull riding shotgun. At a sharp tall turn south of Gualala we plunge and become a tumbling metal boulder, shredded canvas fluttering behind, bouncing off the sand, hissing into the sea.
This will not be new to Sitting Bull, who returned to his beloved western plains as on old man, was shot to death by Indians in South Dakota, and as he died perhaps he wondered, not for the first time, how the world got so out of whack.
(Tom Hine, who writes this column via theTWK byline, asks ‘What corner did we turn that finds us in a land where election victory is not enough? Are we now sore winners, demanding the vanquished be humiliated, destroyed, impeached, ground to dust ‘neath the heel of a boot? An endless blizzard of petty lawsuits to burden, break and hopefully impoverish him? Shall we force him naked through the streets, ankles chained, while tormentors taunt and jeer and children jab him with sharp sticks? Is this what we’ve become?)
'WHEN I LOOK BACK on my life, I was geared for boxing. I loved team sports, but in boxing it's not about skin colour. It ain't about nothing but you being able to outwork the other person. It's up to you to let somebody outwork you. They're in pain, you're in pain, but who is going to push a little bit further?'
- Evander Holyfield
RETIRED POLICEMAN IMPLICATES NYPD, FBI in Malcolm X murder
A former New York City police officer has, before his death, implicated the NYPD and FBI in the murder of civil rights leader Malcolm X on February 21, 1965. A letter written by ex-undercover NYPD policeman Raymond Wood alleges his department and the FBI covered up details of the assassination, saying he was ordered to infiltrate the civil rights movement and had members of Malcolm X’s security detail arrested shortly before the killing… The letter said the arrests carried out in February 1965 by Wood meant Malcolm X did not have security at the entrance to the Audubon Ballroom where he was speaking that day.
THE GREAT INOCULATOR: A Pox on the Poor
by Steven Shapin
Smallpox is the greatest success story in the history of medicine. It once took huge numbers of lives – as many as half a billion people in the 20th century alone – and blinded and disfigured many more. It was, as Thomas Macaulay said, ‘the most terrible of all the ministers of death’, and its preferred targets were children. In the past, you may have had something like a one in three chance of getting the disease and, if you did get it, a one in five chance of dying, though some outbreaks killed 50 per cent of the afflicted. Now smallpox is no more. In 1980, the World Health Organisation declared it eradicated, making smallpox the only infectious human disease ever to have been wiped out. The virus that causes smallpox still exists, officially kept secure at facilities of the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta and the State Research Centre of Virology and Biotechnology at Koltsovo in Siberia. That’s all there is left of it – so far as we know. (There have been intelligence reports that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq once had some and that North Korea keeps stocks, and in 2014 a researcher at the US Food and Drug Administration came across a carelessly kept cardboard box containing six vials of smallpox virus where they should not have been.)
The last naturally occurring case of smallpox occurred in Somalia in 1977, and the last death in 1978, when an accidental release of the virus then held at the University of Birmingham medical school killed a woman who worked there. Routine vaccination in both the UK and the US ended in the early 1970s – and, if you’re old enough to have been vaccinated, you should know that protection tends to decline after about ten years. You can say that there is no threat from smallpox today in the same sense that there is no risk from nuclear weapons – which is to assume no accidents and no effective acts of malevolence. It isn’t so long ago, however, that the US government took bioterrorism seriously enough to mount an elaborate exercise – Operation Dark Winter – to simulate a co-ordinated response to a smallpox attack, and the CDC says there is enough vaccine in the Strategic National Stockpile to vaccinate everyone in the US. Dark Winter took place in June 2001. When 9/11 happened, federal smallpox response teams were mobilised – just in case. Some experts believe that smallpox terrorism is ‘potentially the Big One’: the eradication of the disease and the end of vaccination has created what’s called an ‘immunologically naive’ population – just like the Native Americans who in 1763 so gratefully received gifts of smallpox-infected blankets, arranged by the British general Jeffrey Amherst.
In the 18th century, it was folk knowledge that milkmaids tended to be afflicted with the far more mild cowpox but rarely suffered smallpox. The Gloucestershire physician Edward Jenner knew this too, and the beginning of the end of smallpox came in 1796 when he inoculated an eight-year-old boy with pus from a cowpox sore on the hand of a milkmaid. Over the following months, Jenner repeatedly exposed the boy to smallpox material, but nothing happened: he seemed to be protected. The procedure was called ‘vaccination’ – from the Latin name for cowpox, Variolae vaccinae, that is, the pox deriving from the cow (vacca). It was Louis Pasteur who, many years later, decided that all sorts of inoculation should – in Jenner’s honour – be called ‘vaccination’, even though they had nothing to do with cows.
Jenner’s method was to give you cowpox to prevent you getting smallpox, and, once that was acknowledged to be safe and effective, the transaction was considered an extremely good deal.
(London Review of Books)