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CLOUDS MAY LINGER along the coast for much of the day, with sunny skies and warmer temperatures inland. Rain will return to the area on Sunday, with another round of mountain snow likely from Sunday evening through Monday morning. A few thunderstorms and accumulating small hail will also be possible late Sunday into Monday. (NWS)
2 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.
MENDOCINO COUNTY ENTERS THE STATE’S RED TIER
Effective March 14, 2021, Mendocino County has been given the green light to enter the Red Tier according to the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. With this new Red Tier, comes an ease of some COVID-19 precautions.
“I am thrilled that we can open our economy up further as a result of our dwindling COVID-19 case numbers,” said County Health Officer Dr. Andy Coren. “We have worked hard as a county to accomplish this. To those who ask me what they can do to continue to remain safe from this virus, I say this: Please get vaccinated for COVID-19 when it is your turn. Do not turn down a vaccine unless for medical reason. Continue to avoid large gatherings, and please remain masked while in public. The biggest thing anyone can do to keep others around them safe is to continue to get tested for COVID-19 at least once per month. This helps our county open up further, and it ensures that you are not asymptomatically spreading the virus to others. Those who have been vaccinated should still get tested monthly, since you can still spread the virus even if vaccinated.”
COVID-19 precaution status of business sectors as mandated by the state (as of 3/14/21):
Grocery Stores: May now admit 100% capacity.
Retail: May now admit a max of 50% capacity.
Shopping Centers: May now admit a max of 50% capacity.
Museums: May now have indoor activities with a max of 25% capacity.
Places of Worship: May continue to have indoor activities with a max of 25% capacity.
Movie theaters: May now have indoor activities with a max of either 100 people OR 25% capacity, whichever is fewer.
Gyms: May now have indoor activities with a max of 10% capacity.
Restaurants Including Wineries, Breweries and Distilleries serving meals: May now have indoor activities with a max of 100 people OR 25% capacity, whichever is fewer.
Wineries, Breweries, Distilleries (where no meal is provided): May continue to operate outdoors with the following modifications: Patrons must make reservations and sit at tables, staying for a max of 90 minutes, and all serving of alcoholic beverages must end at 8 PM.
Bars (where no meal is provided): Must remain closed.
Long-Term Care Facilities: May restart in-person visits, while carefully maintaining specific COVID-19 precautions, such as COVID-19 screenings for both residents and visitors, facial covering usage, etc. This will likely take a few days to put in place. Please contact the facility before going in person and review the state’s guidance concerning Long-Term Facilities here: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CHCQ/LCP/Pages/AFL-20-22.aspx
For a detailed overview of business-specific mandates, please visit: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/COVID19CountyMonitoringOverview.aspx (Under “Risk Criteria” – “specific tier based on risk-based criteria”)
“All this extra free time at home really challenged me to find new ways to not exercise.”
FAST & LOOSE: THE DOOHAN DEAL THAT WASN'T
AVA News Service
CONTRARY to last Tuesday's report out of Closed Session, the AVA has learned that the 18 parcels at 537 Parducci Road owned by the McGehee family are available and very much for sale. But not to the County of Mendocino! The 3,000 acres borders property owned by Dr. Noemi (Mimi) Doohan, the absentee (Assistant) Public Health Director for Mendocino County who issues orders from her domicile in San Diego County. Dr. Doohan inherited the property from her late father, Claude Steiner, the semi-renowned psychologist and self-described benevolent dictator of a hippie commune that he presided over for several decades. (Varsity hippies were up the hill at Greenfield.)
AS PREVIOUSLY REPORTED IN THE AVA, the closed session discussion on property acquisition likely violated the Brown Act which allows for closed door discussion of the price and terms of a real estate purchase. But County Counsel Christian Curtis and CEO Carmel Angelo brought this item forward in closed session without first bothering to establish the purpose and need for the acquisition. This is part of a continuing pattern where the CEO and her inner circle decide in advance what is best for the county and present it as a done deal to the Board of Supervisors who are then expected to ratify whatever is set in front of them with no public input, modification, or discussion.
WHAT POSSIBLE USE does the County have for 3,000 acres of rangeland north of Ukiah? The CEO and her minions will never tell, but our loyal AVA readers, clearly among the most astute and well informed residents of the County, quickly began filling in the blanks. 1.) The property borders Dr. Doohan's property; 2.) Dr. Doohan is known to be very interested in controlling or acquiring the adjoining property but lacks funds to do so; 3.) Dr. Doohan is close friends with CEO Angelo who steered a series of lucrative personal services contracts to Doohan for her do-nothing services as covid boss, and now assistant covid boss; 4.) CEO Angelo sits on the Measure B Committee which has accumulated something like $22 million dollars since it was approved by the voters over three years ago; 5.) Dr. Doohan is employed by the Arlene & Michael Rosen Foundation which has established several "Safe Haven" facilities for treatment of addiction and mental illness; 6.) Dr. Doohan would like to establish a Safe Haven facility here in Mendocino County and what better place than right next door to her own property? Getting paid to “help” people is a growth opportunity in Mendocino County, especially for the well-connected, not that you’d notice based on what we see every day on the streets.
THE ROSEN FOUNDATION advertises itself as "investing in local solutions that address the needs of our most vulnerable populations, with an emphasis on those impacted by homelessness, addiction and mental illness." Under "who we are" the Foundation website says "Noemi [Doohan] is an Assistant Director of the Scripps-Mercy Chula Vista Family Medicine Residency Program in Southern San Diego County. Since August 2019 and through the Covid Pandemic, she has served as the Public Health Officer for Mendocino County."
AN ACCOMPLISHED long distance multi-tasker, we can envision Dr. Doohan maintaining her full time job in San Diego and her lucrative consulting contract with Mendocino County while simultaneously serving as Medical/Executive Director of the Mendocino County outpost of Safe Haven.
LAURA HAMBURG, who has an undergraduate degree in Political Science and a Masters in Journalism, both from UC Berkeley, is also employed locally by the Rosen Foundation. Following college, according to her online bio, Ms. Hamburg "had a career in both politics and journalism as a campaign manager, a reporter for the SF Chronicle, a managing editor for a news service in Washington, DC and an owner/publisher of a newspaper in Ukiah, California (The “Bullhorn”) and currently works as a community promotions consultant and historical radio series director in Ukiah."
AT LEAST ONE MEMBER of the Measure B Committee, in addition to CEO Angelo, was recently approached about purchasing the McGehee property for use as a drug and alcohol recovery facility, which is exactly what the Rosen Foundation and their local employee Dr. Doohan would like to establish. But why this property? In addition to being walking distance from Dr. Doohan's Mendocino County front door, the property also comes with a water right for 900 acre feet of water annually, something that would greatly enhance the value of Dr. Doohan's relatively parched acreage. Doohan is said to already have in mind the portion of the McGehee property she would eventually like to acquire for herself.
CEO ANGELO, DR. DOOHAN, COUNTY COUNSEL YES MA’AM and various members of the Measure B Committee all knew about the proposed purchase of the property in advance. Some of them even knew the purported purpose was to establish a Safe Haven facility. But probably only Doohan and Angelo knew the larger purpose was for Doohan to gain control of the property and its valuable water resources.
THE SUPES AND THE PUBLIC were apparently the only people kept in the dark. And the property owners! The AVA assumed Angelo and her team were already in contact with the owners but has since learned that was not the case. Word of the proposed purchase began to circulate after the Supes agenda was published March 4 and created quite a buzz in the greater Parducci Road neighborhood. Eventually one of the neighbors called the property owners who were taken completely by surprise. And who were completely opposed to selling the property to the Doohan/Angelo combine under any circumstances. A well informed source says the property owner spoke directly to CEO Angelo and informed her the property was not for sale to the County at any price for any purpose.
THE SUPES WERE SPARED having to decide whether or not to hijack upwards of $5 million of Measure B funds to provide yet another sinecure for Dr. Doohan. But this fairly obvious and ultimately clumsy attempt to manipulate the Supes into the misappropriation of millions of public dollars is merely a continuation of a disturbing trend. Angelo and her inner circle appear to have little or no respect for the elected Supervisors and their supposed role as policy makers. Meetings are infrequent. Agendas are packed. Questions are unwelcome and the sometimes dubious answers are not followed up on. Just move approval and move out of the way so we, Angelo and team, can do the real business of the County.
ANGELO RECENTLY ATTEMPTED to purchase the Orchard Avenue Ukiah real estate offices of her good friend Richard Selzer who was upset at the purchase of the motel next door to him for use as homeless housing. When Selzer raised a fuss, Angelo is reported to have told him not to worry, that she would buy the property from him. Except Angelo proposed to purchase the property with county funds and with no discussion of the proposed purpose and need. It is unlikely the County has any need for a real estate office building since many employees are working from home. The outcome of the closed session discussion of the Selzer deal is unknown since it was followed by the standard report out of closed session: "direction was given to staff."
THE PURCHASE OF THE BEST WESTERN MOTEL at 555 S. Orchard Avenue in Ukiah was equally stealthy with the property put in escrow without any public notice or discussion. The excuse was offered that State funds were available on short notice and the county did not have time for public discussion of the project or its impacts on the neighborhood. Was this an appropriate use of $13+ million of public funds? Was this the right location? How will it be managed, who will it house and is it sustainable? What will the county do if it turns out to be another publicly subsidized blight like the homeless shelter at 1045 S. State St. run by Carmel Angelo's close friends, the Schraders?
THE RUNDOWN old nursing home on Whitmore Lane was also purchased with no prior notice or public discussion. It began with CEO Angelo’s declaration that she had “commandeered” the building with a lease agreement with the Modesto owner. A few months later that was converted to an outright purchase.
ON TUESDAY it was reported the roof had fallen in — a “complete collapse” as staff described it — and would only cost $2.8 million for repairs. Supervisor Mulheren initially balked at approving $2.8 million to fix the roof on a derelict building with no discussion of the long term need or purpose.
BY THAT AFTERNOON someone had clued Mo in that the Supes knew going in that the roof was rotten. Based on that assurance Mulheren withdrew her objection. We suspect someone told her the CEO does not welcome questions and if she persists she will be non-personed like recently departed Supervisor McCowen who was forbidden to speak to Executive Office staff.
BUT THE $2.8 MILLION roof job is likely a mere prelude to another Angelo promoted money pit. No doubt the collapsed roof and rain pouring in will lead to mold infestation and the removal of sheetrock, carpeting and tile. Once the walls are opened the dry rot will be apparent. And if that happens after the roof is repaired, the roof will have to be re-repaired. As one online commenter has suggested, it would be cheaper to bulldoze the building than to repair it.
ANGELO'S CONTEMPT FOR THE SUPERVISORS was also evident in the presentation on how to allocate the $22.6 million in PG&E settlement money from the 2017 fires. The carefully orchestrated presentation consisted of wish lists from various county departments. The shameless grab for dollars to fund pet projects unrelated to the fires recalled a famous line from former Supervisor John Pinches. Back in the early 2000s, commenting on the Slavin salary survey which resulted in pay hikes for County employees, especially high paid department heads, Pinches summed up the giveaway by commenting "There's an acorn for every pig!"
SUPERVISORS WILLIAMS AND HASCHAK have held a series of Town Hall meetings to hear from cannabis industry stakeholders and devoted endless hours to working with staff and state agencies in a so far futile attempt to fix Mendocino County's broken pot ordinance. But when Supervisor Mulheren suggested holding Town Hall meetings to hear from victims of the 2017 fires, Angelo was quick to intercede. She cautioned that the Board was about to start the Strategic Plan process, that (irrelevant) state mandated Redistricting was about to begin, and why, golly gee, there simply wouldn't be time to hear from a bunch of whiny fire survivors. And doing so would take too much time. Better to fold the PG&E expenditure plan into the open-ended Strategic Planning process!
MULHEREN STOOD HER GROUND, assisted by Supervisor Glenn McGourty. They pointed out the Strategic Plan process would likely take far longer than a couple of Town Hall meetings. The Board finally agreed that Mulheren and McGourty would form an ad hoc committee to hear from the public and report back to the Board. But each of the other Supes made it clear they felt no obligation to spend the fire disaster funds on the affected communities. After all, funds may be needed for Angelo's next publicly funded land grab.
HENDY WOODS IS HIRING!
Stop by and get an application!
Thursday, Sunday 8-4
THE LITTLE RIVER WOODS SALE:
Yesterday We Posted:
“JUST IN: A resident of The Woods on Little River Airport Road writes to say, “Might be a story: the parent SF organization, Sequoia Living, is putting The Woods in Little River up for sale.” The Woods has more than 100 home sites in a relatively small acreage a short distance north of the Littleriver Airport.”
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Several facebookers commented on the post:
Mary Moffett: Well, they closed the Lodge and left the residents high and dry. So sad. Maybe someone else will do something positive for the coast with the Woods. We need senior facilities.
Jason Moore: Everyone buy into a Resident owner share cooperative. Stop paying rent and fees and start growing equity.
Sara Crystal: Oh wow. Doesn’t this all violate the original agreements with the people who bought in to tiered senior living with the understanding of future assisted living when needed? Wasn’t that the original deal? This could be a major disappointment and mess.
HOPLAND POT BUST
On Thursday, March 11, 2021 the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Marijuana Enforcement Team (COMMET) served a search warrant on an unlawful/non-permitted cannabis site located in the 13000 block of Buckman Drive in Hopland.
During the search warrant there were 3,411 growing cannabis plants located and eradicated.
Five (5) individuals were detained on the property, who were determined by investigators to be recruited from Sonoma County by the property owner. As part of the recruitment, the individuals were going to be paid to reside at the location to cultivate the growing cannabis plants.
During the service of the search warrant, the property owner arrived on scene. A scene investigation determined he was the owner of the property and hired the individuals to cultivate the cannabis, which he intended to sell to a dispensary in Sonoma County.
During the scene investigation, investigators determined the property owner had applied for permits but had built nine (9) additional hoop style growing houses that were not on his county or state permit applications.
Agents from the Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force, additional Sheriff's Office personnel and members of the Department of Fish and Wildlife assisted in the search warrant service.
Fish & Wildlife personnel located ten (10) environmental related violations in total. There were five (5) incidents of 5650 F&G Code violations noted and there were five (5) incidents of 5652 F&G Code violations noted.
Based on the Fish & Game violations, it was determined an additional violation of 11358(D) Health & Safety code was being committed.
No arrests were made on scene and further investigations are ongoing at this time.
Once the investigative reports are completed, the reports will be forwarded to the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office for potential criminal charging.
It should be noted on the evening of February 27, 2021, the Hopland Fire Department was dispatched to a large fire on the property. When firefighters arrived they were denied access onto the property which prompted a call to the Sheriff's Office for assistance.
A Sheriff's Sergeant responded and was able to ultimately gain access onto the property along with the firefighters.
While on the property the Sheriff's Sergeant developed information that suggested the cannabis growing operation was not in compliance with the law and referred the information to COMMET who conducted further investigations which lead to the issuance of the search warrant.
During the March 11 search warrant service investigators found a burn pile that contained plastic, an old bed, garbage, cans, bottles, and old marijuana/cannabis plants.
Garbage and soil was found near a waterway causing some of the listed environmental related violations, as well as a water pipe found in a creek, believed to have been used to pull/divert water for the cannabis growing operation.
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A READER WRITES:
Re: That Pot Bust in Hopland…
I got a press release for a marijuana enforcement situation from the Mendo Sheriff’s Office.
The press release stated that the owner of the property had filed for a permit to grow pot but hadn't received his permit yet. So, I looked online to see if I could find the owner and found a 15 page document naming the owner. It's his application for the permit.
I find it very risky for Mendo County to put this kind of info online like they have. It's just asking those savvy enough to find the applications and permits to go rip off the pot patch. Sheesh, if it has to be a public record, make it so one would have to go to the recorder’s office or which ever office holds the paperwork, and ask for it. At least then you would have some sort of idea who was ripping off who. What wrong with this county? Oh yeah, CEO Angelo.
CAN THIS RELATIONSHIP BE SAVED?
On Tuesday, March 9, 2021 at approximately 11:30 PM, Ukiah Police Dispatch received a call from a male who reported he was a passenger in a vehicle that was being rammed by a minivan, while they were in the Safeway parking lot (653 S. State St.). The male reported the driver of the vehicle he was in, was attempting to drive to the Police Department, but the minivan was preventing them from doing so, by ramming their vehicle. While UPD Dispatch was on the phone with the male, the Dispatcher heard the sound of squealing tires on S. Oak St., which is in front of UPD. Dispatch had already advised Officers of the report and then observed, via surveillance cameras at UPD, a sedan and a minivan pull into the front drive way of the City of Ukiah Civic Center (300 Seminary Ave). Via the surveillance, Dispatch was able to see the minivan following close behind the sedan and saw the minivan strike the rear of the sedan, causing the sedan to lose control and nearly collide with a parked vehicle. The sedan and the minivan continued out of the driveway and into the north parking lot, where they were contacted by UPD Officers.
The male driver of the minivan was identified as Jaime H. Gutierrez, 33, of Hopland, who was detained while Officers investigated the incident.
Officers learned the female driver of the sedan had been in a dating relationship with Gutierrez for several years and they had children in common. The two had recently been separated. Officers learned the female victim and the male victim (passenger) had been in the Taco Bell drive through, when Gutierrez appeared. Gutierrez struck the windshield of the sedan with his hand, causing it to break. The female drove out of the parking lot, in an attempt to distance them from Gutierrez, but he followed them in the minivan. They attempted to drive to UPD, but while doing so Gutierrez rammed their sedan numerous times. The male victim passenger confirmed the account of what occurred.
The sedan was inspected and the windshield appeared broken and body damage was located on the driver’s side rear portion of the vehicle. The female victim estimated the damage to the vehicle was in excess of $400.
Gutierrez admitted he learned of the female victim’s location by tracking her cellphone. Once he saw her with the company of another male, he became angry and challenged the male to a fight. He admitted damaging the female victim’s vehicle.
Based on the relationship between Gutierrez and the female victim, his actions and the damage to the vehicle; Gutierrez was placed under arrest for the aforementioned violations. He was subsequently transported and booked into the MCSO Jail. A magistrate was contacted and an Emergency Protective Order was granted.
WAS THE FRIDAY CASPAR VAX A GOOD IDEA?
Caspar, Friday, March 12
65+ all persons
Persons age 16-64 with high risk medical condition
Register at: https://myturn.ca.gov
If you believe you have a comorbidity and the state's appointment system fails to register you, choose food or ag and I'll be standing at the door to the event to advocate for your vaccination.
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Chloe Gans-Rugebregt, AV Health Center Manager:
This event has put the entire county's supply at risk. California and our own county officials have said they will hold back supply if counties break phases/tiers, which this event has done. I really hope all the vulnerable folks in the rest of the county don't get sacrificed because the folks on the coast got lucky. And I am not a patient trying to get a vaccine, I am a healthcare provider who is dedicated to vaccinating my service area in Mendocino County according to county guidelines.
MORE INFO ON MISSING PERSON BRITTANY ADKINS
PLEASE HELP US LOCATE A MISSING YOUNG WOMAN from Petaluma and last seen in Fort Bragg. She may be in the Garberville area.
Brittany Adkins age 28 and her Dog Janie
If You’ve Seen Brittany Or Know What’s Become Of Her And Janie Please Contact Authorities.
More Info Can Also Be Located Here On Facebook's Missing California Page
Thank You For Your Help
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A READER WRITES: More on Brittany Adkins — Update: From the FB page for the missing Brittany.
Brittany Jane Adkins was born in Sonoma County November 16, 1992. Her mother's maiden name is Moniger. Her parents could not be identified on line because of the common last name and absence of first names. Her Been Verified report did not list any relatives. None of her past addresses were owned by anyone named Adkins.
The phone number on the facebook page, 707 565 2511, is the number for the Sonoma County Sheriff's office. I assume the case number is also a Sonoma County Sheriff's number.
Bettina M Kirby who made the post on FB about Brittany lives in Penngrove, Sonoma County. Her phone number ia 707 890-7591 according to on-line data. There are a few links to other missing persons that Ms. Kirby has posted about.
Brittany is one of society's throw-away people. She was homeless in Petaluma and had numerous arrests. She is not listed in Nameus, the national missing persons database. Nor does her name appear in the State of California's missing persons database, nothing. Sonoma County doesn’t list her as missing anywhere either. She probably went to jail after her last arrest and when released, got the hell out of Sonoma County. It’s not clear what put her on the path she took but unless she wants to be found, she probably will stay under the radar. Maybe she is getting her act together and just isn't contacting people she used to hang with because she knows she will go back to whatever she was doing that got her arrested so many times. Maybe she met up with Flynn Washburne and they are going off hand in hand into the sunset! PS. I miss Flynn's writing.
SQUAW ROCK BANDITS LOOKING AT FEDERAL CHARGES
Two former Rohnert Park police officers were indicted Friday morning on federal charges of extortion, a stunning revelation following years of allegations that highway drivers were being robbed of cash and marijuana during traffic stops by some of the city’s public safety officers.
Former Sgt. Brendon Tatum and his drug enforcement partner, former Officer Joseph Huffaker, appeared in separate back-to-back hearings held virtually before U.S. District Court Judge Sallie Kim to unseal the felony indictments against them.
Tatum, 38, who goes by his middle name Jacy, faces a maximum of 45 years in federal prison if convicted of the charges, which include falsifying records and tax fraud. Huffaker, 36, could face up to 20 years in federal prison, Assistant U.S. Attorney Cynthia Frey said during the hearing.
Both men were out of custody and allowed to remain free.
Friday’s indictment was validation of claims that have dogged the city for several years that some of its officers were engaged in criminal activity far outside city limits.
City officials Friday said in a statement they had cooperated fully with federal investigators and emphasized the case involved past activity and a “now defunct marijuana interdiction program.”
“The City of Rohnert Park does not tolerate corrupt and unethical practices within the ranks of its employees, particularly its sworn peace officers, and those officers involved in today’s charges are no longer employed by the City,” according to the statement issued by Assistant City Manager Don Schwartz.
Early last year, Rohnert Park paid $1.5 million to settle federal civil rights lawsuits from eight drivers who said the Public Safety Department’s officers — including Tatum and Huffaker — robbed them of money and marijuana after they were pulled over on Highway 101 near the Mendocino County border.
Tatum was once a celebrated officer. He was brought before the City Council in 2015 and commended for his passion for combating illegal drug activity. Tatum thanked city officials “for giving me the opportunity to work the highway to fight the war on drugs.”
Tatum’s attorney Stuart Hanlon called the indictment “an overreach of government.”
“He believes he’s innocent and we’re going to defend against these charges,” Hanlon said. “He’s also done a lot of arresting of guilty people and has been involved in taking a lot of drugs off the illegal market. Whether he overstepped the bounds, which is what people say, you can’t forget the flip side: He was involved in police work that people wanted.”
Huffaker couldn’t be reached through his attorney.
Federal prosecutors claim body cameras worn by Tatum and Huffaker recorded traffic stops on Highway 101 in 2016 and 2017 when they seized cash and marijuana from drivers — but never reported the alleged contraband to the department or booked it into evidence.
The officers “extorted marijuana and cash from drivers on Highway 101 under color of official right, threatening to arrest drivers if they contested his seizures of their property, which he then kept for himself without reporting or checking into evidence,” the complaint says.
Federal prosecutors claim Tatum falsified police documents to cover up his activities after his actions came under scrutiny. Financial records show a trail of nearly $450,000 in cash Tatum never reported for tax year 2016, according to prosecutors. He allegedly deposited the money in small amounts — under the threshold that might trigger an audit — into family members’ bank accounts and in cashier’s checks to buy a costly fishing boat.
“At the same time Tatum was extorting marijuana from drivers along Highway 101, he made hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash deposits into his own accounts, as well as his wife’s bank account,” the complaint states.
The allegations started in 2018 with one highway driver’s complaints that he was unlawfully stopped and his marijuana taken by suspicious officers.
Zeke Flatten was pulled over in December 2017 near Cloverdale by officers in generic “police” vests who had no badges and at one point claimed to be with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. They took three pounds of marijuana from the back of Flatten’s vehicle and left without citing him for any crime or leaving him with documentation of the stop.
Flatten, who has since moved from California to Texas, started contacting law enforcement agencies and media, trying to determine if he had been robbed by individuals posing as officers.
Flatten’s complaints unleashed a flurry of similar claims from other drivers that Rohnert Park’s officers had targeted them unfairly in missions to seize marijuana.
(Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
A READER WRITES: Owners of The Skunk Train are trying to buy up all of the remaining GP mill site property on Fort Bragg’s coastline. Apparently they have already purchased the piece owned by Harvest Market family. An authoritative rumor on the Coast has it that the Skunk Train owners intend to turn the land into something of a Disneyland amusement park with a rail line running the length of the property. Maybe someone else has more on this.
ED NOTE: We tend to doubt this. When the Skunk made a windy play for additional property in Willits a few years ago at or near the old Remco site, when it came time to put up the money, the putative deal faded into no deal. The Fort Bragg property would cost lots more money than the Willits property would have cost. The Skunk has been a marginal operation for years.
DAVID KING: The Importance of the Mendo Pot Brand
We have a Board of Supervisors meeting coming up in regards to cannabis and expansion. There is a lot of talk about increasing expansion up to 10% of the parcel size. So far these are my personal thoughts I plan to send to the BOS.
New cannabis farmers wanting to come to Mendocino county will have to contend with substantially higher land prices than the majority of the other counties allowing cultivation. Other counties will also offer them the ability to have much larger farms. Greater access to water, easier CEQA requirements. A larger pool of employees, and the ability to house them, and closer access to the market. The only reason new cannabis farmers are willing to endure all of these negative hurdles is their ability to use our valuable resource, the Mendocino brand. The Mendocino brand is our county's resource. Our community did the work, farmers spent decades perfecting our craft. Farmers payed their dues. Law enforcement payed their dues. Our environment paid its dues. Our elected officials paid their dues. Those in and out of the cannabis industry paid their dues. We have a solid 5 decades leading us here today. We have the opportunity to utilize this low extraction resource. A resource that will generate an income that will rival all other resources in the county. A resource that can be sustainably produced and has been in demand for thousands of years.
From this craft our county has reaped the benefits of a circular economy where we produce a product, send it out into the market, extract funds from the market, bring the profits back to the county and circulate the profits within our local communities. Large companies will extract their profits and spend them out of our county. The jobs they offer will be the lowest paying. They will use their own out of town attorneys, accountants, consultants. They will bring in their own executives and managers. They will shop at a scale larger than our local supply chain can handle. They will offer us an economic system that is a race to the bottom.
The biggest risk we face with the large farmers wanting to come to our community is the degradation of our brand. Large farms inherently produce lower quality, these lower quality products will devalue our brand. Once the value of our brand has been extracted they will leave our community.
This economic idealism of the free market, is more often than not a fallacy that has been played out over and over. The Robber Barons promoted free trade and practiced resource extraction. We passed regulations curtailing free trade like the Glass Steagall Act. Years later in the name of Free Market we decided to rescind the Glass Steagall act so our banks could compete in a Free Market and have the ability to sell investments instead of just offering banking. The products they manufactured and sold is what led to the 2008 financial crisis also known as the Great Recession. We were also told, that because of a free market the multi generational family farm must shut down and be run at an economy of scale. When the family farm failed they lost their land. When the mega farms failed the tax payers bailed them out. The free market large farm idealism is a fraud. Today 75% of the worlds food is produced on farms under 5 acres. Gandhi, as an English trained lawyer was able to see his country from a broader view. He witnessed the effects of an extraction based economy on his land. He knew India was 26% of the world's economy before British rule and during this extraction period India was brought down to under 4% of the world's economy. He knew the answer was simple. He knew they needed a circular economy and he started the spinning wheel movement. Today over half of India’s workers are small farmers. Today India’s farmers are protesting against the Technology Agriculture Robber Barons that are also heavily invested in the cannabis industry. Today we have a global economy with global monopolies. We can no longer speak the term Free Market with a straight face because it is a fallacy.
We are a county of small craft farmers with a valuable resource and circling overhead are the Canna Robber Barons waiting for the ability to use their capital to extract our resources. We already have people bending the rules and running a dozen or more licenses in the county. If we cannot control the stacking of our 10k sq foot farms how are we going to stand up to the company’s that can afford to stack 1 acre farms. Our craft farmers are all in for the long haul. We have established deep roots into our soil. Our roots can sustain many generations, I am pleading with you, do not allow expansion over 1 acre at this time, please do not take the option of unsustainable short term income over long term sustainable income. Until we have designed methods to protect our Mendocino resource, please stay at a 1 acre cap.
UKIAH STREETSCAPE PROJECT UPDATE
The process of constructing the new sidewalks on the east side of State Street between Perkins and Mill Streets will continue for the next three weeks. Within the next two weeks, crews may be ready to begin pouring the new walks! City Staff will work individually with each business regarding the details of that scheduling, as access to front doors may be restricted on the day new concrete is poured.
Once Ghilotti finishes the east side of State, crews will move to the west side at Mill Street and work their way back north toward Perkins. Then, the 100 blocks of West Perkins and Standley (and some other miscellaneous work) will begin, likely toward the end of May. Current projections show this project wrapping up in about July. Hang in there, folks—the end is near!
City of Ukiah Electric: South State Street:
The work to underground the electric utilities continues between Seminary and Mill. This will involve additional trenching and installation of conduit, which may impede State Street access to businesses in some cases. Our crews will work to communicate directly with effected businesses.
Wahlund Construction (West Clay Street):
Monday-Friday: “Potholing” will occur on West Clay Street between State and Oak Streets. This process can be noisy and a bit messy, as they are drilling holes through the pavement in order to locate the underground utilities. This is a necessary step before replacing the sewer lines.
Access to driveways in the 100 block of West Clay Street may be blocked during parts of this construction. During those times, employees and visitors to those businesses may park at the Ukiah Civic Center, 300 Seminary Avenue.
Construction hours: 7am – 5pm
Ghilotti Construction (Henry – Mill):
Saturday, March 13th: In order to make up lost time due to weather, construction activities as described below will occur on Saturday.
Monday-Friday: Continued work on the east side of State Street between Perkins and Mill Streets, including excavating, forming and pouring new curbs, gutters, and bioretention facilities. Pouring of new sidewalks may begin in the next two weeks.
East Stephensen Street will be closed to through traffic for the next few weeks – Community Care and The Maple will have access to their parking lots from Main Street.
East Church will be closed intermittently during this phase.
Construction hours: 7am – 5pm
North State Street between Perkins and Henry: Contractors will continue working on North State Street installing the decorative brick band on the outside of the sidewalks, as well as installing liners and filling with planting soil the tree wells and bioswales (triangular-shaped areas at the intersections, designed to be filled with landscaping and to filter storm water).
Have a great weekend, Everyone. Don't forget to "spring forward!"
Shannon Riley, Deputy City Manager, City of Ukiah, w: (707) 467-5793
CATCH OF THE DAY, March 12, 2021
DANIEL BATTEN, Covelo. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
KYLE BRACKETT, Willits. Vehicle theft, disobeying court order.
SARA GODFREY, Leggett. Domestic battery.
FRANK GOMES JR., Covelo. Domestic battery.
VINCENT HERNANDEZ JR., Ukiah. Failure to appear.
BENJAMIN KEATOR, Redwood Valley. Under influence, paraphernalia, ammo possession by prohibited person, offenses while on bail.
MICHAEL MUNOZ, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Controlled substance, county parole violation.
FRANKLIN PATTY, Willits. Probation violation.
MICHAEL SAHL, Gualala. Probation revocation.
SAMUEL SALDANA, Fort Bragg. Driving w/o a license, suspended license for DUI, probation revocation.
HIGINIO SALMERON, Laytonville. DUI.
UBALDO TREJO-LULE, Ukiah. DUI.
DEMS: BETTER THAN REPUBS
Letter to the Editor
The House of Representatives just passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which will help all citizens by increasing economic and employment growth, and will cut child poverty in half by expanding the child tax credit.
Despite the fact that 76% of Americans like the measure, including 59% of Republicans, ALL Republican lawmakers voted against it.
Meanwhile, Republicans are pushing more tax cuts for the rich, including a repeal of the tax on estates over $11 million. This would be another massive handout to rich families, following Trump’s $1.9 trillion tax-cut, 85% of which benefitted the wealthiest Americans.
There can be no doubt which party best serves average Americans and which serves the rich.
330 MILLION TIMES $1400 IS $462,000,000,000
So maybe $400 billion in “stimulus checks.”
What about the rest of the $1.9 trillion?
THE SOVIETIZATION OF THE AMERICAN PRESS
by Matt Taibbi
I collect Soviet newspapers. Years ago, I used to travel to Moscow’s Iszailovsky flea market every few weeks, hooking up with a dealer who crisscrossed the country digging up front pages from the Cold War era. I have Izvestia’s celebration of Gagarin’s flight, a Pravda account of a 1938 show trial, even an ancient copy of Ogonyek with Trotsky on the cover that someone must have taken a risk to keep.
These relics, with dramatic block fonts and red highlights, are cool pieces of history. Not so cool: the writing! Soviet newspapers were wrought with such anvil shamelessness that it’s difficult to imagine anyone ever read them without laughing. A good Soviet could write almost any Pravda headline in advance. What else but “A Mighty Demonstration of the Union of the Party and the People” fit the day after Supreme Soviet elections? What news could come from the Spanish civil war but “Success of the Republican Fleet?” Who could earn an obit headline but a “Faithful Son of the Party”?
Reality in Soviet news was 100% binary, with all people either heroes or villains, and the villains all in league with one another (an SR was no better than a fascist or a “Right-Trotskyite Bandit,” a kind of proto-horseshoe theory). Other ideas were not represented, except to be attacked and deconstructed. Also, since anything good was all good, politicians were not described as people at all but paragons of limitless virtue — 95% of most issues of Pravda or Izvestia were just names of party leaders surrounded by lists of applause-words, like “glittering,” “full-hearted,” “wise,” “mighty,” “courageous,” “in complete moral-political union with the people,” etc.
Some of the headlines in the U.S. press lately sound suspiciously like this kind of work:
• Biden stimulus showers money on Americans, sharply cutting poverty
• Champion of the middle class comes to the aid of the poor
• Biden's historic victory for America
The most Soviet of the recent efforts didn’t have a classically Soviet headline. “Comedians are struggling to parody Biden. Let’s hope this doesn’t last,” read the Washington Post opinion piece by Richard Zoglin, arguing that Biden is the first president in generations who might be “impervious to impressionists.” Zoglin contended Biden is “impregnable” to parody, his voice being too “devoid of obvious quirks,” his manner too “muted and self-effacing” to offer comedians much to work with.
Forget that the “impregnable to parody” pol spent the last campaign year jamming fingers in the sternums of voters, challenging them to pushup contests, calling them “lying dog-faced pony soldiers,” and forgetting what state he was in. Biden, on the day Zoglin ran his piece, couldn’t remember the name of his Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and referred to the Department of Defense as “that outfit over there”: It doesn’t take much looking to find comedians like James Adomian and Anthony Atamaniuk ab-libbing riffs on Biden with ease. He checks almost every box as a comic subject, saying inappropriate things, engaging in wacky Inspector Clouseau-style physical stunts (like biting his wife’s finger), and switching back and forth between outbursts of splenetic certainty and total cluelessness. The parody doesn’t even have to be mean — you could make it endearing cluelessness. But to say nothing’s there to work with is bananas.
The first 50 days of Biden’s administration have been a surprise on multiple fronts. The breadth of his stimulus suggests a real change from the Obama years, while hints that this administration wants to pick a unionization fight with Amazon go against every tendency of Clintonian politics. But it’s hard to know what much of it means, because coverage of Biden increasingly resembles official press releases, often featuring embarrassing, Soviet-style contortions.
When Biden decided not to punish Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the murder of Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi on the grounds that the “cost” of “breaching the relationship with one of America’s key Arab allies” was too high, the New York Times headline read: “Biden Won’t Penalize Saudi Crown Prince Over Khashoggi’s Killing, Fearing Relations Breach.”
When Donald Trump made the same calculation, saying he couldn’t cut ties because “the world is a very dangerous place” and “our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” the paper joined most of the rest of the press corps in howling in outrage.
“In Extraordinary Statement, Trump Stands With Saudis Despite Khashoggi Killing,” was the Times headline, in a piece that said Trump’s decision was “a stark distillation of the Trump worldview: remorselessly transactional, heedless of the facts, determined to put America’s interests first, and founded on a theory of moral equivalence.” The paper noted, “Even Mr. Trump’s staunchest allies on Capitol Hill expressed revulsion.”
This week, in its “Crusader for the Poor” piece, the Times described Biden’s identical bin Salman decision as mere evidence that he remains “in the cautious middle” in his foreign policy. The paper previously had David Sanger dig up a quote from former Middle East negotiator Dennis Ross, who “applauded Mr. Biden for ‘trying to thread the needle here… This is the classic example of where you have to balance your values and your interests’.” It’s two opposite takes on exactly the same thing.
The old con of the Manufacturing Consent era of media was a phony show of bipartisanship. Legitimate opinion was depicted as a spectrum stretching all the way from “moderate” Democrats (often depicted as more correct on social issues) to “moderate” Republicans (whose views on the economy or war were often depicted as more realistic). That propaganda trick involved constantly narrowing the debate to a little slice of the Venn diagram between two established parties. Did we need to invade Iraq right away to stay safe, as Republicans contended, or should we wait until inspectors finished their work and then invade, as Democrats insisted? The new, cleaved media landscape advances the same tiny intersection of elite opinion, except in the post-Trump era, that strip fits inside one party. Instead of appearing as props in a phony rendering of objectivity, Republicans in basically all non-Fox media have been moved off the legitimacy spectrum, and appear as foils only. Allowable opinion is now depicted stretching all the way from one brand of “moderate” Democrat to another.
An example is the Thursday New York Times story, “As Economy Is Poised to Soar, Some Fear a Surge in Inflation.”
It’s essentially an interview with JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, who’s worried about the inflationary impact of the latest Covid-19 rescue (“The question is: Does [it] overheat everything?”), followed by quotes from Fed chair Jerome Powell insisting that no, everything is cool. This is the same Larry Summers vs. Janet Yellen debate that’s been going on for weeks, and it represents the sum total of allowable economic opinions about the current rescue, stretching all the way from “it’s awesome” to “it’s admirable but risky.”
This format isn’t all that different from the one we had before, except in one respect: without the superficial requirement to tend to a two-party balance, the hagiography in big media organizations flies out of control. These companies already tend to wash out people who are too contentious or anti-establishment in their leanings. Promoted instead, as even Noam Chomsky described a generation ago, are people with the digestive systems of jackals or monitor lizards, who can swallow even the most toxic piles of official nonsense without blinking. Still, those reporters once had to at least pretend to be something other than courtiers, as it was considered unseemly to openly gush about a party or a politician.
Now? Look at the Times feature story on Biden’s pandemic relief bill:
“On Friday, ‘Scranton Joe’ Biden, whose five-decade political identity has been largely shaped by his appeal to union workers and blue-collar tradesmen like those from his Pennsylvania hometown, will sign into law a $1.9 trillion spending plan that includes the biggest antipoverty effort in a generation…”
“The new role as a crusader for the poor represents an evolution for Mr. Biden, who spent much of his 36 years in Congress concentrating on foreign policy, judicial fights, gun control, and criminal justice issues… Aides say he has embraced his new role… [and] has also been moved by the inequities in pain and suffering that the pandemic has inflicted on the poorest Americans…”
You’d never know from reading this that Biden’s actual rep on criminal justice issues involved boasting about authoring an infamous crime bill (that did “everything but hang people for jaywalking”), or that he’s long been a voracious devourer of corporate and especially financial services industry cash, that his “Scranton Joe” rep has been belied by a decidedly mixed history on unions, and so on. Can he legitimately claim to be more pro-union than his predecessor? Sure, but a news story that paints the Biden experience as stretching from “hero to the middle class” to “hero to the poor,” is a Pravda-level stroke job.
We now know in advance that every Biden address will be reviewed as historic and exceptional. It was a mild shock to see Chris Wallace say Biden’s was the “the best inaugural address I have ever heard.” More predictable was Politico saying of Thursday night’s address that “it is hard to imagine any other contemporary politician making the speech Biden did… channeling our collective sorrow and reminding us that there is life after grief.” (Really? Hard to imagine any contemporary politician doing that?).
This stuff is relatively harmless. Where it gets weird is that the move to turn the bulk of the corporate press in the “moral clarity” era into a single party organ has come accompanied by purges of the politically unfit. In the seemingly endless parade of in-house investigations of journalists, paper after paper has borrowed from the Soviet style of printing judgments and self-denunciations, without explaining the actual crimes.
The New York Times coverage of the recent staff revolt at Teen Vogue against editor Alexi McCammond noted “Staff Members Condemn Editor’s Decade-Old, Racist Tweets,” but declined to actually publish the offending texts, so readers might judge for themselves. The Daily Beast expose on Times reporter Donald McNeil did much the same thing. Even the ongoing (and in my mind, ridiculous) moral panic over Substack ties in. Aimed at people already banished from mainstream media, the obvious message is that anyone with even mildly heterodox opinions shouldn’t be publishing anywhere.
Those still clinging to mainstream jobs in a business that continues to lay people off at an extraordinary rate read the gist of all of these stories clearly: if you want to keep picking up a check, you’d better talk the right talk.
Thus you see bizarre transformations like that of David Brooks, who spent his career penning paeans to “personal responsibility” and the “culture of thrift,” but is now writing stories about how “Joe Biden is a transformational president” for casting aside fiscal restraints in the massive Covid-19 bill. When explaining that “both parties are adjusting to the new paradigm,” he’s really explaining his own transformation, in a piece that reads like a political confession. “I’m worried about a world in which we spend borrowed money with abandon,” he says, but “income inequality, widespread child poverty, and economic precarity are the problems of our time.”
Maybe Brooks is experiencing the same “evolution” Biden is being credited with of late. Or, he’s like a lot of people in the press who are searching out the safest places on the op-ed page, the middle of the newsroom middle, in desperate efforts to stay on the masthead. It’s been made clear that there’s no such thing as overdoing it in one direction, e.g., if you write as the Times did that Biden “has become a steady hand who chooses words with extraordinary restraint” (which even those who like and admire Biden must grasp is not remotely true of the legendary loose cannon). Meanwhile, how many open critics of the Party on either the left, the right, or anywhere in between still have traditional media jobs?
All of this has created an atmosphere where even obvious observations that once would have interested blue-state voters, like that Biden’s pandemic relief bill “does not establish a single significant new social program,” can only be found in publications like the World Socialist Web Site. The bulk of the rest of the landscape has become homogenous and as predictably sycophantic as Fox in the “Mission Accomplished” years, maybe even worse. What is this all going to look like in four years?
FORMER WATERGATE WITNESS says Trump will be indicted in “days.”
The DA says he’s investigating “possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct,” potentially including tax fraud, insurance fraud, and falsification of business records.
THINK OF HOW STUPID the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.
– George Carlin
I DESPISE FORMAL RESTAURANTS. I find all of that formality to be very base and vile. I would much rather eat potato chips on the sidewalk.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Biden’s speech was bizarre, and rambling. It had many points, that weren’t always congruent with each other.
A major theme throughout Biden’s speech (again, under 30 minutes) was his strident call for “unity”, and in one extraordinary case stated
“We need to remember the government isn’t some foreign force in a distant capital. No, it’s us. All of us.”
When there are more troops deployed around the US Capitol, then the nation of Afghanistan, then yes – this is an action of an occupying power – not a republic.
More I think about it, the speech was an argument for a kind of soft totalitarianism, trotted out by a misty-eyed grandpa, against the US public at large.
WHEN I WAS 15, I spent a month working on an archeological dig. I was talking to one of the archeologists one day during our lunch break and he asked those kinds of “getting to know you” questions you ask young people: Do you play sports? What’s your favorite subject? And I told him, no I don’t play any sports. I do theater, I’m in choir, I play the violin and piano, I used to take art classes.
And he went WOW. That’s amazing! And I said, “Oh no, but I’m not any good at ANY of them.”
And he said something then that I will never forget and which absolutely blew my mind because no one had ever said anything like it to me before: “I don’t think being good at things is the point of doing them. I think you’ve got all these wonderful experiences with different skills, and that all teaches you things and makes you an interesting person, no matter how well you do them.”
And that honestly changed my life. Because I went from a failure, someone who hadn’t been talented enough at anything to excel, to someone who did things because I enjoyed them. I had been raised in such an achievement-oriented environment, so inundated with the myth of Talent, that I thought it was only worth doing things if you could “Win” at them.
— Kurt Vonnegut. h/t Anna Macedo
ON BILL GATES
by Thomas Jones
On 17 February, Bloomberg reported that perhaps as many as fifteen million people in Texas had lost electricity, in ‘undoubtedly the largest forced blackout in US history’. There had been 21 confirmed deaths – some from carbon monoxide poisoning, as families tried to use their cars to warm their houses – and the final toll is likely to be higher. ‘I don’t even have words to describe how awful things are,’ tweeted Bedour Alagraa, an assistant professor of Black Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. ‘People are freezing to death in their homes and cars. No clean water or food anywhere. Govt refusing to even acknowledge what’s happening.’ Senator Ted Cruz was nowhere to be seen, except possibly in Cancún.
The immediate cause was an ‘unprecedented cold blast’ across most of the United States: temperatures in Texas reached -18°C, and three-quarters of the US was under snow. A likely reason for that is global heating: in early January, ‘air in the stratosphere above the Arctic warmed suddenly’ – Bloomberg again – and ‘set up a slow-moving atmospheric chain reaction that weakened the polar vortex, the girdle of winds that keeps frigid air corralled at the North Pole’. And the cause of that, in turn, is the vast quantity of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that human activity continues to eructate into the atmosphere, despite our knowing, for decades, about the malign consequences. Big. Fucking. Surprise.
But why should the sudden extreme cold have caused the electricity grid to fail? The (Republican) governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, told Fox News that the problem was frozen wind turbines. This was a lie. He told local TV that the problem was frozen gas generators and pipelines, and placed the blame on a ‘total failure’ by Ercot, the ironically named Electric Reliability Council of Texas. This was only a partial truth. ‘Today seems to be a good day to remind everyone,’ tweeted Dominique Jackson, a (Democratic) Colorado state representative, ‘that the electrical grid in Texas was deregulated, privatised, and then removed from interconnected networks to avoid federal regulation or renewable energy options and to increase profits to a small number of wealthy individuals.’
Bill Gates’s new book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster (Allen Lane, £20), was published on 16 February. Residents of Texas won’t be the only ones wondering if it isn’t too late for that. The climate disaster has already begun, as surely as the Covid-19 pandemic was well underway this time a year ago. But there’s always something that can be done to slow if not reverse it; and Gates plots out, in patient, simple prose, a pathway that would allow us to reduce carbon emissions from the current 51 billion tonnes a year to zero by 2050.
Books on climate change can’t help being out of date one way or another as soon as they’re published: ‘In the United States,’ Gates writes, ‘power outages are so rare that people remember that one time a decade ago when the lights went out and they got stuck in an elevator.’ But being slightly out of date doesn’t really matter, because the solutions that Gates sketches out haven’t fundamentally changed in a decade or more, though they are getting cheaper and more efficient, and inching closer.
Gates isn’t embarrassed about being late to the party. It was only in 2006, he writes, that he was first convinced climate change was caused by our greenhouse gas emissions. It wasn’t until 2015 that he ‘decided ... to do more and speak out more’. He didn’t divest from fossil fuels until 2019. Better late than never, I suppose, but it was well known in the 1980s and at times Gates can sound a bit like your most boring uncle telling you, clearly and slowly, and at great length, that he’s recently got into some really great music by this guy named Prince. Thanks, Bill. WE KNOW. And what use is that?
Because, whatever Gates says, the biggest problems aren’t technological. The people working on technological solutions already know what to do: stop burning fossil fuels and replace them with renewable energy sources; stop cutting down forests; stop intensive livestock farming; develop more energy-efficient buildings and forms of transport; and prevent whatever greenhouse gases we continue to emit from being released into the atmosphere. And they are getting better at coming up with ways to do it. The biggest problems are political. And Gates, who admits that he thinks ‘more like an engineer than a political scientist’, doesn’t have much to say about politics.
He contrasts the energy industry with the business in which he made his fortune: ‘Coal plants are not like computer chips.’ Moore’s law – the observation that processing power doubles every couple of years – doesn’t apply outside computing. A modern computer chip is a million times more powerful than a chip made in 1970, but solar cells have increased their efficiency by only around 60 per cent in the same time, and cars are barely three times as fuel efficient as they were a hundred years ago. Gates describes the effects of Moore’s law as a ‘positive feedback loop’: ‘As processors got more powerful, we could write better software, which drove up demand for computers, which gave hardware companies the incentive to keep improving their machines.’ You can see why this would make Gates happy: it’s netted him a personal fortune of around $130 billion (trivial by some measures – it’s less than a third of the amount that governments spend annually on subsidising fossil fuels – but still a lot for one person). For anyone, however, for whom it means endlessly updating overpriced and underwhelming software until there’s no space left on your computer or phone, it may look less like a positive feedback loop and more like a vicious circle.
Another thing about software is that ‘there’s no regulatory agency,’ and an ‘imperfect’ product will get ‘feedback’ from ‘enthusiastic’ customers (that’s one way of putting it) to help you improve it. Finally, ‘virtually all your costs are up front. After you’ve developed a product, the marginal cost of making more of it is close to zero.’ No such joy – such clear, pure profit – for the poor saps toiling away in the fossil fuel game.
But there are similarities, too: environmentally and socially destructive resource extraction, from the coltan mines of Colombia or Congo to the oilfields of Nigeria or the coal mines of Inner Mongolia; exploitative supply chains, from smartphone assembly plants in Shenzhen to oil tanker crews trapped on ships for years; captive markets of millions of customers who would be lost without their computers or electricity; all underwritten by massive state subsidies, while providing unimaginable riches for a lucky few, from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to William Henry Gates III.
Writing about Gates in the LRB in 1999, John Lanchester described him as ‘the apotheosis of the nerd type’. No one, least of all Gates himself, has ever maintained the delusion that his nerdiness somehow makes him cool. (Fifteen or more years ago, I was walking home from the shops near Caledonian Road one evening when a teenager shouted at me: ‘Bill Gates! We know where you live!’ He didn’t mean it as a compliment.) That self-awareness is one of the reasons Gates is a marginally more attractive human being than Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos. It’s undeniably a fact that the work done by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in child health and education has saved countless lives, not least by its contribution to the Gavi Vaccine Alliance, which has prevented 13 million deaths since 2000. But that work – and the work of solving the climate crisis – shouldn’t rely on the vicissitudes of philanthropy. For one man to spend decades accumulating vast riches, and then dish out a small fraction, isn’t the most efficient form of redistribution (dishing out all of it to everyone wouldn’t help either: we’d each get about $16). Or, to put it another way, the system that allowed Gates to amass his immense wealth is also the system that has led to, and has so far proved incapable of meeting, the challenges presented by the climate crisis. And perhaps that isn’t a coincidence.
PREVIEWS OF COMING ATTRACTIONS
by James Kunstler
How reassured were you by Joe Biden’s speech to the nation Thursday night? The more his managers pretend that he’s in charge of anything, the more unlikely it actually seems. So, they wound him up — Adderall would be my guess, to fortify the attention span — and rolled him out like the mummy of Amenhotep III, and one could just imagine the leaders of this-and-that foreign nation cringing (or cackling) in their seats to see this embodiment of collapsing America go through his spiritless ritual motions.
Mostly what did not fly is the idea that the Covid-19 virus can still be used as a cattle-prod for herding citizens into feedlots of compliance — Americans are buffalos, not steers. They are determined now to take care of business, and the main business of people with any initiative will be to rig up some sort of gainful occupation while the lumbering old systems break down. They will do it despite orders to operate at fifty percent capacity, or close at nine o’clock, or be handcuffed by rinky-dink regulations. They’ll have to get creative to figure out ways around all the official impediments to making a living. This group of the not-yet-undead will resist further attempts to restrict their liberty and to steal the fruits of their own enterprise to pay for other people’s failures or lack of enterprise.
The federal government is one system visibly working to destroy itself with epic giveaways of money it pretends to command and the Covid-19 Stimulus bill will only accelerate its loss of credibility. A $1,400 check won’t “solve” the problem of someone a year behind on mortgage payments or rent. It sure won’t solve the problems of their creditors and landlords. And if you think shortchanging that class of people is a good idea, you’re beating a path straight to the death of credit per se, and then of our money, the dollar, which is based on credit.
Taxpayers are not so stupid that they’ll fail to notice who is being asked to bail out bankrupt states, irresponsible cities, and pension funds and there’s going to be trouble over that. The trouble will express itself both in political strife and in the further decay of the relationship between work and wealth. It means a collapsing standard of living for most people. Turning the one-shot $1,400 into a monthly Guaranteed Basic Income can only be a short-term shuck-and-jive when a loaf of bread goes from $5 to $15 to $50 — which can happen easily, and quickly, too, as lots of “free” money chases crashing productivity. Wait for it.
Meanwhile, the party in charge of things is squandering the last of its moral authority in stupid and tyrannical Woke crusades against free speech and free thought. They went after Washington and Jefferson last year. This month, it’s a purge of cartoon characters, starting with an auto-da-fé over at the Warner Brothers’ Loony Toons lot. Disney better watch out because they’ll be coming after Mickey Mouse next — for “acting white.”
Which brings us to the 800-pound gorilla in the room: the abysmal condition of race relations in the USA, expressly sponsored by the Democratic Party.
The Left’s promotion of the supreme “conspiracy theory” du jour, that “white supremacy” stifles and suppresses people-of-color in everything they endeavor, has inspired provocations so dastardly that they are driving the country to racial war. The rioting and looting season is upon us again, and the perfect stage-set for the opening offensive is Minneapolis, where the trial of officer Derek Chauvin just kicked off this week. Black Lives Matter is marshalling its troops outside the courthouse to intimidate jurors and threaten mob violence against an outcome they may not like.
The facts of the case suggest that former officer Chauvin has a sturdy defense, starting with Minneapolis Police training films that show officers how to apply the same knee restraint that Chauvin used on George Floyd. It was in their instruction manual, too. Add to that the forensic reports that show fentanyl levels in Mr. Floyd’s bloodstream several times above what would likely kill a normal person, plus meth, plus marijuana. He had an enlarged heart and was Covid-19 positive at the time of his death. And, of course, he was not complying with the cops’ orders during his arrest, which is exactly what led to him being physically subdued.
None of that will matter to BLM because the video of Mr. Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck was such a perfect poster for the white supremacy meme, whatever the reality of the situation was, and it’s just too rich in coercion value to let go of. I’d predict trouble in the streets no matter which way the Chauvin trial ends up, just because energies are up and the weather is good. It will be infectious in cities across the nation again because the dividend of getting to loot is such a temptation, and last time that happened, the authorities did nothing to stop it.
How will it go this time? By now, shop-owners in Minneapolis (and elsewhere) must have gotten the message that the police are not interested in defending their places of business — their bosses, the politicians, ordered them not to. Some business owners may opt for defending their property themselves. Imagine the cognitive dissonance that will make for as Nancy Pelosi’s Congress tries to pass new gun control laws. If Joe Biden is even around, will he step up and tell BLM and Antifa to cut it out? Or will he just ignore all that as he did during the election campaign last year? Half the country, at least, won’t stand for it anymore.
In the meantime, Gawd knows what will be happening in financial markets and banks as all that new money floods an economy that can’t produce enough to absorb it. Racial war and runaway inflation… not a good recipe for political continuity.
(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page.)
MEMO OF THE AIR: Good Night Radio all night tonight!
Hi. Marco here. Deadline to email your writing for tonight's (Friday night's) MOTA show is around 7pm. After that, send it whenever it's ready, up to 6pm Friday next week, and I'll take care of it then. There's always another time. There's no pressure.
It just happens, for reasons unrelated to our ongoing but, at last, light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel plague, nearly the whole first hour of tonight's show will be devoted to the recently removed from the running, including Lenny (Ring Around The Sun) Laks, Harry (Hooks) Swets, Lou (Phillips Compact Cassette) Ottens, Allan (NASA Whistleblower) McDonald...
I'm doing the show from Juanita's, not from Franklin Street, so I won't be taking calls this time.
Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio is every Friday, 9pm to 5am on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg as well as anywhere else via http://airtime.knyo.org:8040/128 (That's the regular link to hear what's on KNYO in real time, any time.)
You can always go to https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com and hear last week's MOTA show. By Saturday night the recording of tonight's show will also be there, in the latest post, right on top.
Also, at https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com there's a horizon-to-horizon traffic jam of educational amusements for you to swoop down upon from the skies and carry away to adorn your mountaintop lair until showtime, not to mention between shows, such as:
Randy Rainbow's latest.
Was it really the weird spy-lawyer who worked for KZYX who was the one actually responsible for this ridiculous American-war-in-Vietnam-era psychological comic-terror project? Local young people were enlisted to clamber around in the jungle with batteries and a giant tape player and amplifier on their back blasting this sound everywhere. I wrote to a couple of people who both told me the same story, but they haven't written back yet. I think his name starts with H.
And the rejected script for episode nine of the Skywalker saga (Star Wars: Duel of the Fates), written by Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly, leaked online a year ago. Artist Andrew Winegarner worked all this time to produce a graphic novel to read for free online all on a single scroll-page. (via Neatorama)
Marco McClean, email@example.com, https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com