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MAINLY DRY WEATHER and mild afternoon temperatures will occur across northwest California through this weekend. In addition, periods of gusty north winds will be possible across exposed ridges and coastal areas. Otherwise, the next chance for widespread rainfall may occur across the region this Monday. (NWS)
ONLY 1 NEW COVID CASE reported for Mendocino County yesterday.
MARIJUANA ENFORCEMENT 2021
The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office is preparing for the upcoming marijuana season. Clearly, we will be facing several issues. This will be a great year if we choose to stand together. I have always believed every problem is also an opportunity and now is the time for us to shine in a way only Mendocino County can.
Following my public comment with the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, February 23, 2021, regarding grant proposals [ed note: see below], I received several calls and had several discussions regarding concerns for this year. These concerns ranged from climate change, and the impending drought to fire safety to drug violence. All of these folks realize we are facing a very concerning year to come. Concerns regarding policies Mendocino County is currently working with are extremely concerning as well.
I constantly hear arguments that marijuana is the only crop in Mendocino County. That marijuana is the only thing keeping this county afloat. If that is what we believe, then that will be our reality. I don’t believe this to be true. Although there will be some legal market in Mendocino County, we can’t support that market if the black market is allowed to continue. Policies which provide cover to persons continuing to feed the black market are flawed. I have been questioned by many people regarding the cost of enforcement. I would invite these folks to please drive through our county and look at the cost of a lack of enforcement. We are paying a heavy price right now.
With the impending drought, I realize the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office will be contacted to address issues of water. Water diversions, water theft, fire suppression water will be at a premium this year. Continued violence from drug trafficking organizations must be stopped. During the previous fire seasons, we assisted the fire service by completing evacuations, alerts and warnings, providing security for fire personnel while they battled fires. We faced several challenges in the more rural areas of the county, many of these challenges were directly due to the lawless nature of the illegal marijuana grows in our forests, rangelands and in neighborhoods.
I continue to receive calls and emails from people who are concerned regarding the amount of trash, fertilizer and waste in the mountains, and throughout our communities which has become almost epidemic. Many fear as I do, when the market collapses, our lands will be poisoned, the bill will come due to be paid by the remaining residents of the county.
I received a call from a person who was concerned about the water being siphoned away from watersheds which are so critical. Would we allow this in any other industry? Absolutely not.
Based on these factors, I understand we will see a deeper demand for law enforcement. I will be moving more personnel into our marijuana enforcement team. Currently, we have been working with numbers that simply can’t support our mission. When we have over one million marijuana plants just in Round Valley, we have to make changes in personnel to meet these needs.
With the new issues we are seeing, including well-armed and dangerous crews running these illegal grow sites, we simply have to place greater efforts into the safety of our personnel. The only way to accomplish this will be to move forward with adequate staffing and equipment. This will come at a price.
We can’t continue to allow dangerous living conditions, environmental damage, and a constant concern for our youth. The main issue driving all of these problems is greed. The people coming to our county and causing many of these issues are simply drug dealers. Drug dealers who are hoping to profit from a system that is broken. And clearly, they have been profiting. Our recent increases in methamphetamine, heroin, fentanyl and other illicit drugs are largely due to a drug pipeline which has been established through our county.
I have been contacted by friends, neighbors and complete strangers who have advised me they are ready to abandon Mendocino County. Many have bluntly told me, the beauty of this place simply isn’t worth the dangers they are living in. We have Native Americans who are choosing to leave their ancestral homes due to this invasion of drug dealers. That simply isn’t acceptable.
Therefore, we will be continuing with a proactive approach to enforcement throughout the year. There will be deputies and partnering agencies throughout the county to deal with these issues. I would like to make it extremely clear to all who are committing these crimes and to those who would come to Mendocino County intending to commit these violations: it won’t be tolerated. We will be aggressively enforcing all illicit drug laws as well as continuing to investigate the terrible crimes associated with the illicit drug trade. We will use any tool at our disposal to combat this issue. Clearly now is the time for all of us to say, No more. Enough is enough, and we will work together to take the county back.
Sheriff Matt Kendall
BOONVILLE HOTEL & RESTAURANT
We’ve put up some new art by Carol Aust this week AND we’ve started serving lunch in the courtyard on Sundays if weather permits!
You can take a peak at the art when you pick up your take-out dinners or join us for lunch... Perry’s take out menu listed below, orders placed on our website at www.boonvillehotel.com. Pick up from 5:30 to 6 PM. Hoping to see you soon, take good care.
2.25.21 Thursday dinner - Meyer Lemon and Rosemary Cornish Game Hen, served with a Caesar salad and something sweet! $36/meal
2.26.21 Friday Dinner-Pozole Verde with all the goods, Hass avocado shaved cabbage, winter cilantro, lime Crema, served with a citrus salad & something sweet Joansey. $36/meal.
2.28.21 Sunday Dinner-Spring lamb skewers with winter leaks, fingerling potatoes, garden mint salsa Verde, served with a butter lettuce salad and something sweet too! $36/meal.
CALENDULA EXTRAVAGANZA AT THE AVA!
FILED UNADDRESSED, UNHEARD
Recently an editorial comment was submitted by George Hollister; a forester who is a member of the Jackson Advisory Group. He stated, “The interested public’s input on how to make management better is always welcome.” The question is, how much is this “welcomed” input actually considered or heeded?
Last spring, on the final deadline day of open public commentary, a concerned group of trail users was given last-minute (eight hours) notice via an email listserve to submit comments regarding the Caspar and other Timber Harvest Plans. In a bit of a mad scramble, more than 40 people submitted commentaries protesting the proposed THPs to the local Cal Fire/JDSF office as directed. We were assured that all the emails would be read by The Cal Fire Powers That Be. We learned much later that we’d been misinformed as all the emails needed to be copied to Cal Fire headquarters in Santa Rosa as well. Therefore, at the end of the day, only one commentary was noted as being submitted and the 40-plus protest commentaries were not, making it appear that there was little public input. I believe those in our local Cal Fire office could have easily forwarded the emails to Santa Rosa, but did not. The result was the approval of the Caspar THP which will greatly disturb many trails and neighbors in the area east of the town of Caspar. Sad!
Mary Kay Murche and Roo Harris
SPECULATION ON WHY MCCOWEN won’t return his County issued computer and cellphone:
1. He lost it.
2. He gave it to someone else.
3. Some or all of it broke.
4. He’s too cheap to buy his own.
5. There’s info on it that he wants to hide from County officials. (Emails, phone contacts/records, etc.)
6. He was set up by CEO Angelo who was quick to rat him out for misdemeanor theft of public property.
7. He assumed he could get away with it because only the ava would report it.
8. He's still in his supervisor's office refusing to come out unless the County gives him the stuff.
WE ASSUME that DA Eyster is standing by to file criminal theft charges against the former Supervisor if the Small Claims action does not produce results.
CEO STEERS LAW ENFORCEMENT FUNDING TO TEEN COURT, AKA GUESS WHO?
by Mark Scaramella
An obscure grant application became a veiled source of controversy on Tuesday when Sheriff Matt Kendall took to “public expression” at the beginning of the Supes meeting to complain that “one hand didn’t know what the other hand was doing.”
Sheriff Kendall’s staff had spent months preparing a grant application for consideration by an obscure state agency that administers part of Prop 64, the 2019 proposition that legalized (allegedly/sort of) cannabis in California. Kendall’s grant application was for about $1 million which would have funded some sorely needed cannabis enforcement in the Covelo area (along with a lesser amount that would have focused on educating teens on the dangers of pot smoking).
Unbeknownst to Kendall, the Probation Department was preparing their own grant application to the same state agency for the same $1 million most of which would go to Camille ‘The Inevitable’ Schrader’s privately owned Redwood Community Services Ukiah conglomerate, with some funding to the Probation Department for a bogus “teen peer court” that somehow would address cannabis use by teen-agers. (Teens, you see, frown on other teens smoking pot, thus, logically of course, leading to less pot smoking by teens. Get it?)
When the state’s Board of State Community Corrections saw that they had two separate applications from Mendocino County they called CEO Carmel Angelo and gave her an ultimatum.
“Mendocino County submitted two proposals to BSCC for Prop 64 monies, one from HHSA/SO ($1M) and one from Probation/RCS (just under $1M). I received a call from BSCC due to this. I asked if we could withdraw the proposals and submit one with all four parties and the answer was NO. Instead, I was given the following options: 1. Withdraw both proposals since a county could only submit one proposal, or 2. Decide on which proposal could go forward for consideration. After talking with BSCC and understanding more of what they are looking for, I reviewed both proposals for the following points: 1. Which proposal gave a clearer and more comprehensive response to BSCC? 2. Which proposal better represented services to youth? 3. Did any of the services have a proven track record already? 4. Overall, which proposal was just a cut above the other?”
“Please know both proposals are well written and comprehensive. But, knowing you want the proposal that offers the best chance of funding to go forward, and that you work together well [sic, whatever the hell that means], I thought each of you would be supportive of either proposal going to BSCC, as long as Mendocino County was represented. Therefore, I decided to go with Probation/RCS, since they are focused on youth and restorative justice for youth. BSCC gave me until noon today to make this decision so I just contacted BSCC and gave them that decision. It may be a moot point in that BSCC may want to be courteous but know they will not fund us due to the initial two proposals, or they may be sincere in their efforts to help us. Whatever the reason, we submitted one of two great proposals and can resubmit another proposal from the county at the next round. Thank you.”
What’s wrong with this picture? Let’s count the ways.
1. The CEO claims that the Probation/RCS application “offers the best chance of funding to go forward.” Our review of the other rural counties which were awarded BSCC grants for the same critieria — Humboldt, Trinity, Sonoma, Lake — shows exactly the opposite: they all contain a sizable law enforcement component.
2. The CEO didn’t know that two proposals from her organization had gone in until the state called and asked her about it.
3. The CEO took it upon herself to make the decision and ace out the Sheriff without consulting the Supervisors, who should have weighed in.
4. There is an obvious public benefit to funding the Sheriff’s application and no discernible public benefit to the RCS funding.
5. There’s the CEO’s longstanding cozy relationship with RCS which would lead one to assume that if it’s up to the CEO (and it only was because of her own failure to coordinate the grant applications, making the decision, as usual, a last-minute deal conveniently putting the CEO in the sole position to decide), her friends at RCS would get the nod.
6. The Board just last month had made it clear that the best way to fund a few badly needed additional law enforcement positions would be to apply for state grant money. (But that process was derailed and turned over to an ad hoc committee where it hasn't been heard from since.)
When Sheriff Kendall notified the Board about this significant CEO bungle, not one Supervisor commented, not even to say that the CEO should have followed their previously stated intent to pursue state law enforcement funding, nor to say they hoped that the next round of funding would ensure that the Sheriff’s application is not botched like this one was.
Meanwhile, we’re sure that Covelo residents will sleep well knowing that Camille Schraeder and the Probation Department are spending $1 million dollars on a teen peer court in Ukiah.
Some notable items from the CEO report including CSA update, upcoming meetings, commission vacancies and the priorities from the BOS for the CEO for the next 22 months. The BOS will most likely pursue a CAO model and the Board members will take on more responsibility (something I think should have happened a long time ago), this will all be discussed throughout the Strategic Planning process so if there are changes to County departments that you think should happen stay tuned and weigh in (IRL not just on FB). There were recently some comments on FB and I just want to say that each elected official sees their role differently. I personally prefer to be hands on and I take this job very seriously. Its an honor to be chosen to represent my community so I do read every email and correspondence sent to the BOS. I have meetings once a week just to chat and topical meetings as necessary and my cell phone is widely available at 707-391-3664. You may not agree with every vote that I take but it is my duty to listen to everyone and try to make the best decisions for this County. If you ever have questions please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’d be happy to chat!
FORT BRAGG GRAFFITI ABATEMENT PROGRAM
This press release is intended to remind the community of the City of Fort Bragg’s Graffiti Abatement Program. Fort Bragg Municipal Code Section 9.62.040 mandates that property owners remove graffiti from their property within fifteen days or face potential fines and clean-up reimbursement costs. The goal of this program is to both reduce the visual blight caused by graffiti and to prevent or lower the likelihood of increased acts of graffiti at the location. Studies have shown that when graffiti is quickly covered up, it is less likely to continue at the location.
Whenever our Officers investigate reported or observed graffiti, both the tenant and property owner at the location will be provided a Notice of Removal and a Graffiti Removal Reimbursement Voucher. Our Officers will then be conducting follow-up visits to ensure the graffiti is removed.
This Graffiti Removal Reimbursement Voucher allows the property owner to be reimbursed some or all of the costs related to the removal of graffiti. Property owners who are unable to remove the graffiti may contact the Police Department for additional assistance. Our Department has identified volunteers within our community who may be able assist with clean-ups.
Questions regarding this press release may be directed to Captain O’Neal at 707-961-2800 ext. 167 or at email@example.com.
Every year, State Parks builds the Great Sand Barrier to keep the ocean out of MacKerricher Lagoon. Every year the ocean knocks it down. If the ocean gets into the lagoon permanently, no more bass for the kiddies in the summertime, and no campground water system.
The Great Sand Barrier used to be a railroad (on a big embankment that rarely if ever washed out), then a truck road (same), then a walking path (that washed out), now the ruins of those things with all the layers exposed. Somebody could spend an easy 12 years doing their “Semiotics of Climate Change” dissertation there.
THE DEMOCRAT'S fanciful Great Redwood Trail began with the Northcoast Democrat's acquisition of what was left of the old rail line that ran from Tiburon and Sausalito to Eureka and Samoa. Former Congressman Bosco, Former Assemblyman Dan Hauser, and a loyal gofer called Mitch Stogner (former Chief of Staff for Congressman Bosco), lived, and lived well, for decades off the publicly-funded myth that one day by golly they'd get a train running again on those long silent tracks. With the Press Democrat cheering them on, and the paper itself soon acquired by Bosco and Friends, the way was clear for what Bosco and Friends were now calling themselves — The North Coast Railroad Authority, hiring people like Hauser and Stogner to run it. The City of Cloverdale was so excited at the prospect of a revived rail line they built a brand new rail station in anticipation of the grand day old 99 would chug into view. The new station remains, thirty years later, a mini-monument to Bosco's and the Democrat's duplicity, although it remains conceivable that the failed Marin-Sonoma line could one day reach Cloverdale.
FARTHER NORTH at Ukiah, Democratic insiders knew that the Bosco trains would never run again, and even if they did they wouldn't get to Ukiah where the Democrats, retired judge Dave Nelson and former supervisor John 'Light Fingers' McCowen leading the charge, quickly moved to acquire the acreage on West Perkins where the graceful old train station rested from the days two trains every day ran along the line. Most of the former rail parcel is projected as the site of a new County Courthouse, nevermind that abandoning the perfectly serviceable present County Courthouse would destroy what's left of old town Ukiah, and nevermind that no one other than Nelson and a few judges are the only people who want a new County Courthouse housing only the 9 present judges and their staffs. The DA, the Public Defender et al would remain in the present Courthouse from where they would hump themselves and their paperwork up and down Perkins' three long high-traffic blocks to process the Defendant Community who would be delivered directly from the County Jail to the new Courthouse where they will wait in dry and air conditioned comfort for their prosecutors and defenders to arrive wet and sweat-drenched.
SO, the Democrat's North Coast Railroad Authority has now become the Great Redwood Trail, pretty much the same cast of characters but a new Democrat walking point with, you can be sure, Bosco getting paid for his creation, the now defunct North Coast Railroad Authority. The Trail will be mostly invisible and stay that way forever, a patchwork of a few miles here and there and never ever running through the impassable Eel River Canyon, meaning that all the people looking forward to walking or biking from San Rafael to Eureka via the Eel River stretch of the Democrat's trail… Well, there's some YouTube footage you can view in lieu of L.L. Bean and lycra.
THE LAST TIME I hiked around in the Eel I was surprised at how much rail equipment had been abandoned back in there, and also surprised at how much track had slid into the battered river along with its supporting embankments. Building a trail along the old rail line would cost a huge portion of the projected five billion State Senator McDupe says the Trail will cost. I didn't encounter any but I've been told there are some armed and dangerous bush hippies holed up with their gardens along the long, wild stretches around Island Mountain where through traffic takes its chances. Add everything up and the Great Redwood Trail, even at a projected five billion, is not doable, even in a rosy economy unlike the rolling catastrophe the USofA is facing from here on.
DUCKHORN WINE CO, called Goldeneye here in Philo on the old Peterson place where the gauche Duckhorns, among their first acts, painted its redwood fencing an antiseptic white, will be offering saps with more money than sense a chance to buy jive juice futures. Based in St. Helena, Duckhorn is presently owned by private equity group called TSG Consumer Partners, who will use “NAPA” as its ticker symbol when shares start trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The deal reeks of Tulip Mania, but then what doesn't these days?
ZACK AND TARA
On 02-22-2021 at approximately 9:13 A.M. a Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputy was on routine patrol in the 3900 block of North State Street in Ukiah, California.
The Deputy observed a vehicle traveling in the area with several California vehicle code violations.
The Deputy conducted an enforcement stop on the vehicle which yielded at 3900 North State Street. The Deputy contacted the occupants of the vehicle who were identified as Zachary Lawson (driver) and Tara Hill (passenger).
Lawson was confirmed to be on active Parole through the California Department of Corrections, and Hill was found to be on formal probation out of Mendocino County.
As such, both Lawson and Hill are required to submit their person and vehicle to search, they shall not possess firearms, ammunition, or any other dangerous weapons, and they are to obey all laws.
The Deputy had Lawson step out of the vehicle and observed two knives on the driver's side floorboard of the vehicle. The Deputy also observed a live 9mm cartridge on the dashboard directly in front of where Lawson had been seated. Lawson's Parole Officer was contacted and he placed a parole hold on Lawson.
The Deputy had Hill step out of the vehicle. When Hill exited the vehicle, a live 9 mm cartridge fell from her person onto the ground. The Deputy also located a glass methamphetamine smoking pipe in the glove box directly in front of where Hill had been seated.
Further investigation revealed that the license plate affixed to the vehicle belonged to another vehicle.
Lawson was ultimately arrested for 3056 PC [Violation of Parole], 30305(a)(1) PC [Felon in Possession of Ammunition], and 4462.5 [Unlawful Display of Evidence of Registration]. Lawson was subsequently booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in lieu of $25,000.00 bail.
Hill was ultimately arrested for 1203.2 PC [Felony Violation of Probation], 30305(a)(1) PC [Felon in Possession of Ammunition], and 11364(a) HS [Possession of Drug Paraphernalia]. Hill was subsequently booked into the Mendocino County Jail where she was released on zero dollars bail after the booking process due to the current Covid-19 guidelines set forth by the California Judicial Counsel.
3:25 AM UKIAH
On Monday, February 22, 2021 at approximately 3:25 A.M., a Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputy observed a suspicious vehicle in the 3200 block of North State Street in Ukiah.
The Deputy observed a male subject sitting inside the vehicle and a second unknown male standing outside the passenger side window of the vehicle.
The vehicle left the area and went across the street where the Deputy contacted the driver, Lyle Vincent, 34, of Ukiah. The Deputy was given consent to search Vincent and his vehicle.
During the search of the vehicle, the Deputy located Vincent's wallet inside the vehicle which contained $740 in U.S. currency. The Deputy also located a container with a false bottom which had six individually packaged containers of suspected heroin with a total weight of 21.5 grams gross field weight and two containers of suspected methamphetamine totaling 1.5 grams gross field weight.
Vincent was arrested for possession of a controlled substance for sale and transportation of a controlled substance for sale.
Vincent was booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in lieu of $25,000 bail.
TOOK THE GUNS
On 02-23-2021 at about 10:45 hours, a Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputy was conducting follow-up investigations on a possible fraud case and went to a residence in the 23000 block of Henderson Road in Covelo, California.
While attempting to contact the occupants of the residence, the Deputy could see inside an open door where he noticed a black semi-automatic rifle with a pistol grip and forward grip with a detachable magazine. This firearm was later found to be unloaded.
The Deputy had knowledge a 39 year-old male lived at the location and was a convicted felon prohibited from owning or possessing firearms.
The Deputy had the Sheriff's Office Dispatch Center confirm the 39 year-old male's firearm prohibition status.
The Deputy contacted a Sheriff's Sergeant who authored a search warrant for the location based upon the Deputy's observation of the rifle.
The search warrant was presented to a Mendocino County Superior Court Judge, who granted the search warrant for the location.
While waiting for the warrant, two subjects exited the residence, which included the 39 year-old male. The Deputy contacted the subjects and learned other firearms were reportedly located inside the residence.
When the search warrant was served at the residence a subsequent search reveled a total of five firearms and ammunition (see attached photographs).
The handguns were a loaded .38 caliber revolver and a loaded .45 caliber semi automatic handgun. The .45 caliber handgun was later confirmed to be stolen.
Besides the first semi automatic rifle seen with assault weapon type characteristics, Deputies found a second similar loaded semi automatic rifle. In a trailer on the property, the Deputy located an unloaded 30.06 bolt action rifle with a scope.
All the firearms were seized pursuant to the search warrant and an investigative report will be submitted to the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office for determination of potential charging related to the subjects present at the residence.
ANOTHER ONE ON NORTH STATE
On Monday, February 22, 2021 at about 7:21 P.M., a Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputy conducted a traffic stop on a passenger vehicle, for a vehicle code violation, in the area of 3900 North State Street in Ukiah.
The Deputy contacted the driver, identified as Bryan Sanchez, 18, of Ukiah. The Deputy had knowledge that Sanchez had an active Mendocino County Superior Court arrest warrant issued in January 2021. The Deputy confirmed the warrant with the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Dispatch Center.
Sanchez was arrested without incident and subsequently booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in lieu of $150,000 bail.
NO BAIL FOR HUERTA
On 02-23-2021 at around 2:20 PM, a Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputy was on patrol when he observed a Honda sedan stopped at the intersection of North Highway 1 and Oak Street in Fort Bragg, California.
The Deputy observed the vehicle was displaying expired registration. After a records check of the license plate through Sheriff's Office Dispatch, the Deputy learned the vehicle was an active stolen vehicle reported out of Glenn County, California.
The Deputy briefly lost sight of the vehicle, but regained visual of the vehicle in the 400 block of South McPherson Street, at which time the Deputy attempted a traffic stop of the vehicle.
The driver (Jose Alfredo Huerta) refused to yield and quickly accelerated in an attempt to evade the Deputy, resulting in the Deputy initiating a vehicular pursuit.
During the pursuit, Huerta drove down a cul-de-sac with the Deputy following behind him. Huerta then conducted a U-turn and accelerated directly towards the Deputy's vehicle, which was now stopped.
Huerta continued forward, without stopping, and struck the Deputy's patrol vehicle. Both vehicles sustained moderate damage as a result of the impact.
Huerta continued past the Deputy with the pursuit continuing and an additional Deputy assisting in the pursuit.
In the area of the 800 block of South Franklin Street, Huerta drove onto a vacant lot and stopped. Huerta exited the vehicle and fled on foot.
Fort Bragg Police Officers were in the area at this time and also pursued Huerta on foot after he exited the vehicle.
Deputies and Fort Bragg Police Officers were able to apprehend Huerta a short distance away without further incident.
During the pursuit, Huerta drove the vehicle left of center into the opposing lane of travel to pass vehicles, and failed to stop at controlled intersections, with no due regard for the safety of others.
No persons were injured during the pursuit.
Huerta was arrested and transported to the Mendocino County Jail where he was booked for 2800.2 CVC (Felony Reckless Evading), 2800.4 CVC (Felony Reckless Evading - Wrong Way Driving), 496D PC (Possession of a Stolen Vehicle), and 12022.1 PC (Commit Felony while on Pre-Trial Release).
Huerta was determined to be on pre-trial release for a pending felony matter out of Glenn County.
Following Huerta's arrest, Deputies contacted a Mendocino County Superior Court Judge for a request in bail enhancement and the Judge granted and ordered that Huerta be held on a "No Bail" status.
CATCH OF THE DAY, February 24, 2021
JEREMY JOHNSON, Miranda/Ukiah. DUI, suspended license for DUI.
RICKY LEWIS III, Richmond/Ukiah. Failure to appear.
ELIAS RUTHERFORD, Fort Bragg. DUI causing bodily injury.
SETH SMART, Willits. Domestic battery, false ID.
NOTES ON BLACK HISTORY MONTH, 2021: NO MORE BLACK MESSIAHS, PLEASE
by Jonah Raskin
The sign in the window of my neighborhood food store reads, “Black Lives Matter.” I have shopped there at least once a week over the past year. I have never seen a Black person in the store or a Black person working there. That is not strange or unusual. There aren’t many Black people in all of northern California. Indeed, there are fewer Blacks in the Bay Area than there were in the 1940s and 1950s. They’ve been pushed out.
Just the other day, I received an email informing me that there was “a racist and bigoted Zoom hijacking incident that occurred during a virtual event that was part of Sonoma State’s Black History Month program.” A spokesperson for the university said, “We will refrain from sharing details of what occurred, because we refuse to provide these cowardly bigoted individuals the platform they seek.”
I understand and sympathize. The Internet is already rife with racist comments. It doesn’t need more. At the same time, as a member of the community and as a scholar who has written about Black Americans and about racism, I would like to know what was actually said. Just how disgusting was that?
I have heard racist comments my whole life. I usually don’t repeat them, though sometimes it seems appropriate to do so. Harvard Professor Randall Kennedy, the author of Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word, argued that if all of us used the “n” word repeatedly it would lose its force. Kennedy made that argument in 2003. Over the course of the past 18 years, the “n” word has been used repeatedly. It has not lost its bite and its power to inflict pain.
Kennedy was not the first African-American to use the “n” word in the title of a book. Comedian and social critic Dick Gregory wrote Nigger: An Autobiography, and the Black nationalist, H. Rap Brown wrote, Die Nigger Die: A Political Autobiography. Apparently, Muhammad Ali once said, “No Viet Cong ever called me nigger.” If he didn’t use those exact words, he used words that expressed much the same idea. When he refused induction into the military, he did say, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Vietcong.”
For many years, rappers have revived the word “nigger,” as though it was a badge of honor, which part of the reason that Dick Gregory and H. Rap Brown used it. It’s difficult not to hear the “n” word in the lyrics for popular music.
As we approach the end of Black History Month, it might be helpful to remind ourselves that while we ought to live and breath by the concept that “Black Lives Matter.” Black lives still don’t matter greatly in the U.S.A., where whiteness is privileged over Blackness. Can we accept the fact that this is a racist nation, and at the same time to put an end to our racist nation? I would like to believe we can do both.
We ought not to pretend that racism doesn’t exist. If “a racist and bigoted Zoom hijacking incident” can happen at Sonoma State University (SSU) then it can happen most anywhere. The Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement, Black Power and Obama in the White House didn’t end racism. That’s not to say we ought to give up. Rather we might recognize what we’re up against, and try to understand why a racist or racists would want to hijack a Zoom event. It might help to have a teach-in, to print or publish the actual language and to discuss why it’s racist.
Before there was Zoom, there was racist graffiti on the walls at Sonoma State University. When Black students went off campus they were called “nigger.” For years there were Black students on the campus. These days there are very few, indeed. Blacks don’t want to attend a school where there are few, if any Blacks.
Some white parents have wanted their daughters to attend SSU because there aren’t many Black males. They have thought that the absence of Black males would mean that the campus was safer for white women, as though white men were somehow incapable of sexual assault. If that isn’t racist I don’t know what is.
A new movie titled Judas and the Black Messiah, which is inspired by the life and the death of the Chicago Black Panther, Fred Hampton, should remind us that Black lives often haven’t mattered. It should also remind us that law enforcement officials, with the official backing of the State, have shot and killed Black men. We might also give up the idea of a Messiah, whether Black, white, brown, yellow or red. There are no Messiahs. There never have been any.
It’s a nice gesture that my neighborhood store has posted in a window the sign, “Black Lives Matter.” But as long as it remains a gesture and a mere sign, Black lives won’t really matter and racist incidents will continue right in my own backyard. They will continue on a campus, whether virtual or not, where I taught for 30 years, and where I rarely if ever had a single Black student in a class. Like many other schools, SSU talks about diversity, but doesn’t do nearly enough to make diversity a reality.
Have you noticed that nearly all of the men and women who invaded the Capitol on January 6, 2021 were white? Have you wondered why that was? What more evidence do you want that the U.S. is a racist nation?
(Jonah Raskin is the author of ‘For The Hell of It: The Life and Times of Abbie Hoffman’ and ‘American Scream: Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ and the Making of the Beat Generation.’)
“TO HONOR THE PLACE AND THE PEOPLE”:
Virtual Talk On “Yosemite People” Photo Exhibit: March 4
Jonas Kulikauskas photographs the human side of natural splendor
On March 4, from 12 to 1 p.m., the Grace Hudson Museum presents a virtual talk with photographer Jonas Kulikauskas on the exhibit “Yosemite People.” This online show features a selection of photos he took between 2014 and 2016 documenting the human life and activity that supports the operation of this national treasure. “Yosemite People” is currently available for viewing on the Grace Hudson Museum website. Kulikauskas will discuss his experience creating the project and share images not available in the online show.
Like many creative projects, the idea for “Yosemite People” began with a chance encounter. On a brief visit to the park in 2014, Kulikauskas was waiting to order breakfast at the Ahwahnee Hotel. A member of the wait staff appeared and spread a white cloth on the table in front of him with a dramatic flourish. Like all good photographers, he had his Leica camera by his side. Kulikauskas sums up his intention at that moment simply: “I really wanted to honor the place and the people.”
Kulikauskas started exploring the lives of people who worked and lived within the park, and realized they formed a small community. Over the next two years, he made almost 20 visits to Yosemite, training his camera on the human landscape-- the rangers, concession workers, volunteers, and family members who supported the park-- as it interacted with the surrounding world of nature.
“Yosemite People” debuted virtually on the Grace Hudson Museum's website on Jan. 17 and will be available until April 11, 2021. This online exhibition was created by Exhibit Envoy in collaboration with Kulikauskas. Thirty-three images from the exhibit have been entered into the permanent collection of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. To access Kulikauskas's the presentation, visit the Grace Hudson Museum website at www.gracehudsonmuseum.org, and scroll down to the event announcement with accompanying link.
IF YOU'RE GOING TO BE A WRITER you should sit down and write in the morning, and keep it up all day, every day. Charles Bukowski, no matter how drunk he got the night before or no matter how hungover he was, the next morning he was at his typewriter. Every morning. Holidays, too. He'd have a bottle of whiskey with him to wake up with, and that's what he believed. That's the way you became a writer: by writing. When you weren't writing, you weren't a writer.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
For a lot of reasons – mostly to do with geography (and the spread of civilizations between say Iran and Portugal), white Europeans developed the most technically advanced societies, starting with the Greeks and Romans, and moving on from there. This is why Christopher Columbus could successfully sail to the Caribbean, while Native Americans and indeed Africans did not sail to Spain. The same applied to the South Atlantic and the Pacific.
The Chinese and India also developed advanced societies a long time ago – however they were much more closed, and did not become great seafaring or colonial powers – although they could have.
The United States was founded by those white Europeans, and through good fortune they could exploit a huge and bountiful new continent, and many of them (and their descendants) grew rich or at least comfortable.
However part of that success was based on slavery, and it was a cruel and inhuman system. In the 158 years since the end of slavery there have been advances but they have not led to equal wealth, or lives, or opportunities for the descendants of those slaves (and other minorities who arrived here via different paths).
Whatever the reason, white Americans have almost all the wealth and all the powerful positions in society and the economy. While no-one needs to slash their wrists over this, there is a responsibility on the white sector to recognize that they have had significant advantages that were established well before they were born. Don’t take too much personal credit.
Always check your privilege in all interactions and transactions – you are not in the better position primarily because of your own endeavors – you inherited most of them. Don’t blame the victims, and don’t be racist. Be supportive and listen to black leaders and the black community. They do not want you dead, they just want a bigger slice of the pie. Class dismissed … have a nice day.
NEW & TERRIBLY LETHAL CHALLENGES
by John Arteaga
It is not by coincidence that the two countries who have flubbed their response to Covid 19 the worst are also those most devoted to unfettered capitalism. The United States and its predecessor as the capitol of capital, Great Britain, are being absolutely hammered by the virus, far worse than many countries with much less wealth.
Clearly, Covid 19 is pointing out to humanity at large that we are facing, and will continue to face, new and terribly lethal challenges to humanity as a whole, and that capitalism is simply the wrong way of organizing ourselves to devise anything like an adequate response. For instance, we, the American public, fork over big bucks to profit-oriented drug companies to develop these vaccines, also handily relieving them of liability risk through Trump’s idiotically named ‘Warp Speed’ legislation. Of course, once those private companies develop a marketable product, they are free to gouge those who would like to use that product to whatever extent the market will bear. Unlike the selfless desire to help humanity and save lives demonstrated by Dr. Jonas Salk, who developed and refused to patent the polio vaccine, apparently in 2021 USA such high mindedness would be scoffed at. One reads about the fact that certain wealthy countries are now securing supplies of the vaccine several times that needed to vaccinate everyone in their nation, while whole continents, like Africa, get virtually none. In today’s highly mobile world, what kind of sense does that make for anyone anywhere in the world?!
The whole capitalist West seems to be in denial about this crucial fact regarding the future prospects of the future of our species.
Instead of using logic and science to update and reform our political leanings to more appropriately deal with the problems that we face today, it seemed that many Americans (as well as many other first world countries), are withdrawing into a proud and defensive ignorance, clinging to mythologies about a past golden age of white supremacy, male domination, Christian hegemony and the whole foul lot of such nonsense.
Trump was the perfect Pied Piper to exploit this kind of reactionary stupidity. I’ve often thought about the fact that under Mussolini one of the slogans of his black shirt fans was, “down with knowledge!”
The insurrectionist mob that trashed our nation’s seat of national governance at the direct urging of their Fuhrer, was only the latest manifestation of a dismaying collapse of the rule of law in recent years. Let’s be clear; society and the law is what separates man from beast. To those camo buddies who ran to the defense of mega-welfare rancher Cliven Bundy years ago, who apparently thought that silly concepts such as grazing fees on public land and, like, the rule of law, is something that we would all be better off without. I say fine; why not put your money where your mouth is and move to Rwanda or any number of countries where life has come down to more like the law of the jungle, where the strong ruthlessly exploit the weak with impunity. I, for one, would love to bid them all adieu.
As great as is the respect that I have for the Obamas, I can’t help but feel pained by what I always thought was Barack’s Achilles’ heel; a pathological fear of ever being seen as the “angry black man.” It was this personal flaw that made him reach out for bipartisanship time and again, long after it was obvious that the only response he would ever get from the extension of his hand would be a painful slap on it. I’ll never forget the dismay that I felt when, after we, through our national land management agencies, spent a significant sum rounding up welfare rancher Bundy’s cattle, to be seized and sold to pay back some small increment of the decades-long debt he had accrued by his failure to pay grazing fees on the lands that his cattle had been degrading. I couldn’t believe it when the federal marshals or whichever of our representatives on-site were confronted by murderous camo-clad yahoos threatening violence to support their welfare-leach rancher buddy, that rather than calling in the National Guard to arrest and charge every one of these misguided gun aficionados, that the president chose, instead, to release the stupid cattle and have the authorities slink off, tail between legs. We wouldn’t want any violence, would we?
Well yes, I very much would have appreciated at least the credible threat of violence in that situation! These people are confronting the rule of law. I, for one, do not want to live in a dystopia where those with the most guns and idiots to fire them make the rules. They should have sealed off the whole area and arrested every one of those cretins!
Which brings us to the matter of the insurrectionist attack on the houses of our government; when Obama and OUR government walks away from a fight like that, it establishes a precedent. I remember thinking at the time, okay, so if a bunch of heavily armed white guys come along and want to do whatever deranged thing they have been talked into as an agenda, step aside. Let them have their way. NO! I’m not okay with that!
As far as I’m concerned, the guards at the capital should have shot the first line of those invading fools dead, like so many rabid dogs. Our nationally elected representatives should not have to run and hide from a Reichstag fire, and the criminal who incited the whole attempted coup should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law!
(John Arteaga is a Ukiah resident.)
THE WORLD'S LAST LOST TOURIST: THOUGHT MAINE WAS SAN FRANCISCO
by Andrew Chamings
In 1977, 49-year-old German brewery worker Erwin Kreuz blew his life savings on his first flight — a once-in-a-lifetime birthday trip to San Francisco. He’d seen it on TV, and he wanted to visit the Wild West. As the World Airways flight from Frankfurt stopped to refuel in a small airport in Bangor, Maine, before continuing on to California, an air stewardess who had finished her shift told Kreuz to “have a nice time in San Francisco.” Her choice of words would change Kreuz’s life.
Kreuz, who typically enjoyed drinking 17 beers a day, was a little groggy, and on hearing this, grabbed his suitcase, got off the plane, went through customs, jumped in a cab and asked the driver to take him to the city. He wandered Bangor for three days enjoying the sights and sounds that Maine had to offer. Unfortunately, Kreuz thought he was in San Francisco.
Within a week, Kreuz became an international celebrity, made the “Today Show” and Time magazine and was handed the key to San Francisco. He became a folk hero, as the world’s last lost tourist.
Outside of a day trip over the border to Switzerland, Kreuz had never stepped foot outside Germany, let alone boarded an airplane. He spoke only German and lived in a small Bavarian village near Augsberg, working in a local brewery.
His trip in October 1977 was a big one, and Kreuz was understandably eager to see the famous hilly city from the glossy travel magazines with his own eyes.
Most of us have stepped off a bus or train at the wrong stop — an embarrassing and annoying moment that involves a quick check on your phone to figure out how to get back to your intended destination. But what if a friendly face just told you that train stop was the right one, and all the signs were indecipherable, and cellphones didn’t exist, and you were three sheets to the wind?
Once Kreuz got through customs in that little airport, he was certain he was in San Francisco, and he didn’t stop believing that for three very strange days.
The cab dropped Kreuz in downtown Bangor where he checked into the Bangor House Hotel, walked the streets a little and found a tavern to quench his almighty thirst. At one point Kreuz was reassured by the sight of two Chinese restaurants in the town, something he knew was in San Francisco from the movies. The rusted green bridge that links Bangor to neighboring Brewer was clearly not the Golden Gate, but Kreuz carried on regardless. After much wandering, Kreuz decided he must be in a Bay Area suburb, so he hailed a taxi and asked the driver to take him to downtown San Francisco. The driver sped away as though Kreuz was crazy.
Kreuz returned to the bar, suddenly a little unsure of himself, and tried to get some help from a waitress. The language barrier was too wide, and she put him in contact with a neighbor named Gertrude Romine, a Czechoslovakian immigrant who spoke German.
“It was so funny,” recalled Romine, who was the first to make Kreuz aware of his monumental error. “He couldn’t speak any English and didn’t know. He knew there were hills around San Francisco and when he saw the hills around Bangor he figured he was in the right area.”
Romine and her family took Kreuz into their home, and word spread of the lost tourist, first to the Bangor Daily News, then nationally, then the world.
What may be more surprising than someone believing a small logging town on the Atlantic Ocean was San Francisco was the way the world reacted to his story. Everyone was enamored by this strange visitor who had been walking around a very different town in his head.
Within days, Kreuz became an honorary member of the Penobscot Indian Nation, had a folk song written about him, was thrown a 50th birthday party and was visited by the governor of Maine. He was even gifted an acre of scrubland in northern Maine as an act of goodwill.
The Bangor Daily News, in one of many stories on the wayward German, compared him, somewhat lovingly, to the town seal, whom Kreuz kissed for a photo op.
“Erwin Kreuz met Andre the Seal Thursday morning. They must have had a lot to talk about, because they have a great deal in common,” the paper wrote.
“Neither speaks a word of English; each ranks among the great communicators of our time. Both are media events of the first order.”
Kreuz’s lack of English only heightened his character and mystique in the press.
“Just what is Mr. Kreuz thinking about as he says (according to his translator) all those nice things about Bangor? Is it possible for a man to be nice to everyone he meets?” the Daily News pondered.
Reports started surfacing that a San Francisco newspaper might pay for Kreuz to fly out to his initial destination, but some Bangor residents claimed him as their own, like a drunk child in a custody battle.
During a trip to the local jail in Maine, where Kreuz was ushered through the cells and met the inmates (he had requested to see “an American jail,” and no one could apparently say no to the big-hearted German) the warden told the press, “He was tickled to death. He wants to stay right here in Bangor. He doesn’t want to go to San Francisco.”
The San Francisco Examiner did indeed foot the bill for Kreuz to extend his vacation and finally head out west. When there, he was treated like visiting dignity; he met with Mayor George Moscone half an hour before the mayor met Prince Charles. It was Moscone whom Kreuz told about his 17-beers-a-day diet, to which the (alleged) heavy-drinking mayor replied, “Well, that beats me.”
On his whirlwind tour of the city Kreuz took a cable car, was plied with gifts and three marriage proposals, and even became an honorary member of the Wong Family Association at the Empress of China restaurant in Chinatown.
Kreuz also did the most San Francisco of activities by attending an, um, rodeo at Cow Palace. There he was given a white cowboy hat, to complement the headdress he was gifted in Maine, and got a standing ovation in the middle of the ring.
Word had spread across the world of Kreuz’s journey. Time Magazine ran a story as he was still in San Francisco on the German’s “exceptional jet age odyssey.”
On NBC’s “Today Show,” Tom Brokaw complimented the town of Bangor on their loving treatment of the lost German and celebrated his time in San Francisco.
Word got back to West Germany too, where magazines Stern and Der Spiegel told his story.
In San Francisco, it was a feel-good story at a time when the city — reeling from a crime wave, serial killings, kidnappings and emboldened cult leaders — needed to feel good.
“The roly poly Kreuz was welcomed to The City by Mayor Moscone, who presented him with a proclamation declaring that San Francisco does, in fact, exist,” The Examiner reported.
Though, as Time magazine wrote, “The ruddy-faced bachelor finally did get to see the Golden Gate. But, by all accounts, he left his heart in downtown Bangor.” And Kreuz would prove this in his later travels.
Kreuz was soon due back at work at the German brewery and, after four days in San Francisco, boarded a flight back home brandishing a “Please let me off in Frankfurt” sign.
Despite his apparent childlike misunderstanding of the world (and maps), Kreuz proved to be masterful with the press, telling reporters at his arrival at Frankfurt airport, “If Kennedy can say ‘Ich bin ein Berliner,’ then I can say, 'I am a Bangor!'“
Kreuz wasn't able to turn his 15 minutes of international celebrity fame into a career, though not for want of trying.
One year after his initial visit he returned to Bangor for a two-week trip. The returning German son of Bangor was welcomed back to the city and given the honor of opening a mall, and visited with the friends he had met the year prior. Maybe sensing trouble at home, Kreuz told his friend Ralph Coffman, who was hosting the German, “I don’t care if I ever go back to Germany.” “He loves to go for long walks and there are plenty of woods here,” Coffman added.
Kreuz had reason to not want to go home, as he returned to find his employers, Schaller Breweries, had fired him. They claimed the dismissal was due to Kreuz spending the height of Oktoberfest, the company’s peak season, on a jolly in America. But according to Kreuz, the beer makers were trying to make money off his image and fame, and so he asked for more money. When they denied that request, he told a TV reporter he drank a competitor’s beer and was unceremoniously fired.
In 1979, Kreuz made one last attempt to live out his life in Bangor. This time there were no headdresses, parties or seals to kiss, and he was met with little fanfare. He was offered only a minimum wage janitorial job at the mall he had opened the previous year. He graciously turned it down and returned to Germany for the last time.
Kreuz didn’t get a statue in Bangor. There aren’t even any punk bands named after him, which seems like a no brainer.
Even after being dumped from the brief bright limelight of celebrity, Kreuz was gracious until the end, and repeatedly thanked the people of Bangor for their hospitality and his wild ride.
Like the uncontacted tribes in the depths of the Amazon rainforest, aiming their arrows at passing flying machines, there’s a doomed poignancy in people stuck out of time with a wide-eyed ignorance of the world, a purity that gets swallowed by the shrinking planet in every passing tweet. Kreuz’s adventure was already an unlikely anomaly in 1977. Today, it would be an impossibility.
The story is perhaps as much about the news as it is about a lost roly poly German, though. The coverage was joyous. The world didn’t laugh at him, they laughed heartily with him. And while it would be a much harder task to mistake one city for another in 2021, if that were to happen the fail memes and YouTube comments wouldn’t be so kind.
“I have a very warm feeling for America, I will never forget this until the day I die,” Kreuz said in 1977. Researching this story, deep in the newspaper archives, it was hard to find out where and when our traveller did finally leave this Earth that was just a little too big for him. But it doesn’t really matter. Folk heroes don’t die.
Instead, we can end on a woman named Belinda Michaud’s distant interaction with Kreuz.
As the tax collector of the small town of St. Francis, Maine, Michaud was responsible for collecting property dues on the acre of land gifted to Kreuz in the north of the state. The plot of brushland between State Route 161 and an old railroad track was a small piece of American soil Kreuz could always call his own.
While most of the folks in Bangor who befriended Kreuz in 1977 lost touch with him after his final visit to the town in 1979, the tax payments kept coming on the land that still hasn’t been built on to this day.
“He pays every year,” Michaud said years later, “I send out the bill to his address in the West German town of Adelsried every year and a few months later I get a money order from him. It’s in American currency. I don’t get a note or letter, but I hear he doesn’t speak English anyway.”
IRV SUTLEY AND BIG MAN HOWARD - summer of 2014
Big Man Howard was one of the the six founding members of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense in 1966. Irv Sutley is an initial and founding member of Peace and Freedom Party of California since its organization in February 1967.