Showers Diminish | 4 New Cases | BOS Agenda | Mo Thursdays | Stop Shortchanging | Turkey Tail | Whale Gulch | Quake Damage | Creek Dumping | Extended Hours | Del Fiorentino | Manila Battle | Seed Starting | 8th Graders | Goodbye Covid | Decent Living | James Mannon | Willits High | Ed Notes | Burlesque Girls | Opposing Expansion | Properly Socialized | Phase 3 | Yesterday's Catch | Little Sprouts | South Florida | Hunter Scum | Rifle Blessing | Brain Damage | Be Yourself | Bogus Claims | Nobody Left
IN THE WAKE OF YESTERDAY'S COLD FRONT, an upper level trough will continue to bring scattered rain showers and mountain snow showers through tonight, especially north of Mendocino County. A few showers will linger into Saturday, otherwise look for milder high temperatures and clearing skies heading through the weekend. (NWS)
4 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.
SUPERVISORS AGENDA NOTES
Federal Trapper Service on the Block again.
Supervisors Agenda Item 6a, March 23, 2021 Meeting:
6a) Discussion and Possible Action Including Direction to Staff to Author (1) a Resolution to Terminate Cooperative Services Agreement (CSA) with USDA Wildlife Services; and 2) a Resolution to Vest Administrative Responsibility for Implementation of the Mendocino County Non-Lethal Wildlife Damage Management Program with the Mendocino County Animal Care Services
(Sponsor: Supervisor Haschak)
Direct staff to author a Resolution to terminate Cooperative Services Agreement (CSA) with USDA Wildlife Services; and author a Resolution to vest administrative responsibility for implementation of the Mendocino County Non-Lethal Wildlife Damage Management Program with Mendocino County Animal Care Services.
THIS COULD BE INTERESTING. It would mean ending the controversial Federal Trapper Program and moving Animal Control out of the Sheriff’s Department and under Animal Care Services (the Shelter). When the Trapper Service was up for discussion/termination last year Supervisors Carre Brown and John McCowen were two of the three votes (with Gjerde) to keep it going. Now Brown and McCowen have been replaced with Maureen Mulheren and Glenn McGourty.
FOR YOUR LONG OVERDUE FILES: Supes to finally consider distributing the pot tax revenue the way public voted for it…
Consent Calendar Item 4b) Direction to Auditor to Provide Cannabis Ad Hoc Committee with Documentation of Advisory Measure Implementation to Date Regarding “Use a Majority of that Revenue for Funding Enforcement of Marijuana Regulations, Enhanced Mental Health Services, Repair of County Roads, and Increase Fire and Emergency Medical Services?”; Direct Tax Collector to Provide Cannabis Ad Hoc Committee with Redacted Cannabis Business Tax per Applicant Per Year Since Inception
(Sponsors: Supervisor Williams and Supervisor Haschak)
Direct Auditor to provide Cannabis Ad Hoc Committee with Documentation of Advisory Measure
Implementation to date regarding “use a majority of that revenue for funding enforcement of marijuana regulations, enhanced mental health services, repair of county roads, and increase fire and emergency medical services?”; Direct Tax Collector to provide Cannabis Ad Hoc Committee with redacted Cannabis Business Tax per Applicant per year since inception.
4c) Direction to Auditor to Distribute 96.5% of Transient Occupancy Tax Collected from Visitors Staying in Private Campgrounds and Recreational Vehicle Parks Equally to the 19 Recognized Local Fire Agencies and 3.5% to Whale Gulch
(Sponsor: Supervisor Williams)
Direct auditor to distribute 96.5% of Transient Occupancy Tax collected from visitors staying in private campgrounds and recreational vehicle parks equally to the 19 recognized local fire agencies and 3.5% to Whale Gulch.
NOW CAMILLE SCHRAEDER is getting paid to deliver meals too? Retroactively?
4o) Approval of Retroactive Agreement with Redwood Community Services, Inc., in the Amount of $50,000 to Provide Meal Delivery Services, Medication Pickup and Delivery, Trash Disposal, and Transportation Support During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Effective October 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021
Approve retroactive Agreement with Redwood Community Services, Inc., in the amount of $50,000 to provide meal delivery services, medication pickup and delivery, trash disposal, and transportation support during the COVID-19 pandemic, effective October 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021; authorize the Health and Human Services Agency Assistant Director/Public Health Director to sign future amendments to the Agreement that do not increase the annual maximum amount; and authorize Chair to sign same.
FIRE DISTRICTS CALL ON SUPERVISORS TO STOP SHORTCHANGING EMERGENCY SERVICES
Dear Chairman Gjerde,
Attached, please find the letter dated March 18, 2021 from the Mendocino County Association of Fire Districts Steering Committee regarding funding for Fire/EMS services for FY21/22. Also attached, please review the distribution spread sheet based on current revenues of the separate funding units designated for Fire/EMS.
The Fire Association looks forward to the Board’s response.
Please contact with any questions or additional requirements,
Ben MacMillan-Elk CSD
Michael Schaeffer-Comptche CSD
Mendocino County Association of Fire Districts
To: Mendocino County Board of Supervisors March 18, 2021
Attn: Dan Gjerde-Chair
Subject: County funding of local Fire Districts:
Dear Chairman Gjerde:
The intent of this letter is to address the continued and escalating difficulties facing Mendocino County Fire Districts and the breakdown in communication between the Fire Districts and the County of Mendocino. Fire Districts continue to be impacted and disadvantaged by the lack of representation at the County level and with the Board of Supervisors. This lack of representation is most clearly demonstrated during the annual budget deliberations. Fire Districts have no dependable advocate within County government to ensure that County Public Safety Policy includes addressing the increasing needs of all Public Safety First Responders. Increasing demands for Emergency Medical Services, Ambulance and Fire Emergency Response due to Climate Change must be recognized by the Board of Supervisors and address the County’s financial responsibility for these separately defined services. Mendocino County must publicly acknowledge that it is the County Local Fire Districts that deliver these critical Public Safety functions.
Regarding the current FY 2021-22 budget deliberations, concerns among Fire District Boards of Directors are focused on the County’s lack of communication as to the status of funding sources currently dedicated for Fire/EMS funding. These sources include;
Prop 172: Current receipts for 19/20 is $ 8,067,252. Current allocation for 20/21 to Fire is $398,000. The increase to $485,000.00 for FY 18/19 was sponsored by Supervisor McCowen ($87,000, added to compensate for the allocation provided to Ukiah Valley) came from the general fund and was characterized as a yearly discretionary funding increase. This increase was rescinded the next fiscal year ( FY 19/20 ) with no notice or explanation given to the Fire Districts. All supervisors at that time voted for this decrease.
During the early days of the Prop 172 Fire ad hoc (created by the BoS in November of 2015) with Supervisors Hamburg and Gjerde, there was ongoing discussion regarding any increase (float) above the then current $7,500,000 income could be allocated for Fire/EMS. This would have been a reasonable accommodation for the needs of Fire/EMS that would have the lowest impact on the other public safety providers (DA & SO, primarily) and satisfied the original intent promoted by Prop 172 sponsors and approved by the voters in 1993.
Measure D (TOT): Current allocation available is $600,000. Per the BoS meeting on March 9th, 2021, it is understood that these funds are now ready to distribute to the qualifying Fire Districts.
Measure AI and Measure AJ: Cannabis tax/fees: Program receipts from Measure AI for FY19/20 was $5,500,000. Accompanying Measure AJ, also passed by the voters, directs (advises) the BoS to allocate the majority of revenue generated by the Measure AI business tax to fund enforcement of current marijuana laws, Mental Health Services, county road repair and Fire and Emergency Services. Fire/EMS was to receive 1/8th of the collected revenue per this measure. The allocation to Fire/EMS based on the FY 19/20 receipts would have provided a benefit of $687,500. Unfortunately, it is currently understood that this revenue distribution, approved by the voters, is being used to “true-up” budget units that have gone over their budgeted amounts for their fiscal year. This is not what the voters approved.
During the BoS meeting on March 9th, 2021, the Supervisors reviewed budget overruns with the “other” public safety providers (DA, SO and Probation, for example). Instead of asking why these departments ran over budget, department heads were instead advised to just provide more realistic budgets next time so that the board can just allocate more funding to them. Simple. When Fire Districts request to be included in these revenues, they are told to provide an itemized rationale of why these Districts should receive any funding.
This is unacceptable.
Currently, there is no direction in place to provide any distribution of Measure AI funds to Fire/EMS as advised by the voters. Transparency in these revenues and their allocation is problematic. This situation confirms that Fire/EMS (as well as the other designated funding recipients) is still being locked out of the budget process due to non-existent representation. The cannabis tax revenue must be used as approved by the voters. On April 20th, 2021, the BoS will dedicate the majority of that meeting to cannabis related issues. This would be a good opportunity to include discussions about Measure AI, Measure AJ and the how the BoS will respond moving forward regarding the allocation of these funds.
P.G.&E. Settlement fund: During the March 9th BoS meeting, a special session for potential EMS funding from the P.G.&E Settlement Fund was scheduled for the BoS meeting on April 6th, 2021. The Supervisors suggested that Coastal Valleys EMS, the Sheriff’s Office and the Fire Safe Council be invited to participate in the discussion. Not invited to attend are representatives from the County Fire Chief’s Association or the Mendocino County Association of Fire Districts, the agencies and people that actually deliver Emergency Medical Services in Mendocino County.
Mendocino County currently does not have a dependable and robust Ambulance capability. Frequent service brown outs due to out of county transfers and lack of adequately staffed ambulance crews pose a significant risk to the county population and transient visitors. The BoS must act immediately to correct this situation. Allocation from the Settlement Fund would be a reasonable short-term application of this available funding pending a long-term resolution to this critical issue.
In summary, it is understood that the unprecedented challenges faced by the County due to the Covid-19 emergency has complicated the County’s ability to address Public Safety Funding. However, as the impacts of the pandemic are now being mitigated, it is now time to resolve the issue of representation, equity and funding for Fire/EMS and to ensure local Fire Districts are compensated fairly for these services.
We will look forward to the Board of Supervisors response,
Ben MacMillan-Elk CSD
Michael Schaeffer-Comptche CSD
Steering Committee-Mendocino County Association of Fire Districts
BOS - March 23, 2021
Direction to Auditor to Distribute 96.5% of Transient Occupancy Tax Collected from Visitors Staying in Private Campgrounds and Recreational Vehicle Parks Equally to the 19 Recognized Local Fire Agencies and 3.5% to Whale Gulch
(Sponsor: Supervisor Williams)
Direct auditor to distribute 96.5% of Transient Occupancy Tax collected from visitors staying in private campgrounds and recreational vehicle parks equally to the 19 recognized local fire agencies and 3.5% to Whale Gulch.
Previous Board/Board Committee Actions:
On March 9, 2021 the board directed Auditor to distribute 100% of the collected funds equally to 19 recognized local fire agencies. (Albion-Little River, Anderson Valley, Brooktrails, Comptche, Covelo, Elk, Fort Bragg, Hopland, Leggett, Little Lake, Laytonville, Mendocino, Piercy, Potter Valley, Redwood Coast, Redwood Valley, South Coast, Ukiah Valley, Westport)
Summary of Request:
In March, 2020, Mendocino County voters passed Measure D to impose a 10% transient occupancy tax on visitors staying in private campgrounds or recreational vehicle parks located in unincorporated areas of the county. Measure E also passed, advising the county to allocate revenue raised from extending the occupancy tax by dedicating 75% to the county and 25% to the fire chiefs' recommended fire agencies. The fire chiefs met and decided on an equal distribution of all collected funds. On March 9, 2021 the board directed Auditor to distribute 100% of the collected funds equally to 19 recognized local fire agencies. (Albion-Little River, Anderson Valley, Brooktrails, Comptche, Covelo, Elk, Fort Bragg, Hopland, Leggett, Little Lake, Laytonville, Mendocino, Piercy, Potter Valley, Redwood Coast, Redwood Valley, South Coast, Ukiah Valley, Westport) On March 10, 2021, the allocation plan was further discussed at a regular Mendocino County Fire Chiefs Association meeting. Supervisors Williams and Gjerde were present. Equity in addressing costs associated with emergency response by Whale Gulch Fire was raised. A chiefs only special meeting was scheduled for March 12, 2021. Minutes of special meeting provided to Supervisor Williams by Mendocino County Fire Chiefs Association President Latoof, include: 3. Whale Gulch TOT: After much round table discussion a motion was made (Hutchinson) and seconded (Carberry) for the following: “20 shares of the TOT revenue. Whale Gulch to receive 70% of one share. The remaining 30% to be divided back to the 19 “original departments” Participation with MCFCA this coming year to be key.” Voted unanimously. Chief Leskar (Whale Gulch) was happy.
TONS OF TRASH TALK
Dear 1st District Supervisor Glenn Mcgourty and Mendocino Sheriff - this is my second post about this problem. On February 28th, the members of the CA Conservation Corps in Ukiah, took 1.25 TONS of trash out of Mill Creek just below the dam and the ponds. AND, we had to leave the bottom plate for a car or truck, an engine block, and other heavy items that probably weighed another ton. If you remember, I posted before. On Feb 14th, we took out close to a ton of trash from a location just 500 feet up the road. That is TWO TONS of trash coming out of that little creek in one month. I realize that the Sheriff cannot patrol all areas of the county, but people have been dumping at this location for years. There was a can of chewing tobacco that was an old brand that our fathers chewed 70 years ago. This problem is introducing dangerous chemicals and plastic pollution into our water supply and Fish and Game have found steelhead in this creek. Let's talk solutions.
Chris Brokate, Clean River Alliance, Russian Riverkeeper Clean Team, Rotary Club of South Ukiah and Mo Mulheren
IN BLOOM AT MENDOCINO COAST BOTANICAL GARDENS
MCBG Bloom Blast! Read on for updates and info on upcoming events, bloom reports, gardening tips, educational opportunities, and more...
Ultra-fragrant tender species rhododendrons, daffodils, apple blossoms, plum blossoms, plus native wildflowers like Pacific bleeding heart and the ever-so-charming “footsteps of spring” which looks like bright green paint spots on the bluffs. Extended hours at the Gardens! The days have grown longer and so have our visiting hours!
10AM to 5PM daily, Last admission is at 3:30PM. MCBG members enjoy exclusive early admission from 9 to 10AM daily! gardenbythesea.org/calendar/extended-hours/
RICKY DEL FIORENTINO was killed in the line of duty seven years ago today. You can't really describe what that event did to Fort Bragg. It's still happening.
Ricky del Fiorentino was gunned down by a literally crazed individual who drove down from Southern Oregon with a car-full of automatic weapons, terrorizing people along the way. I am not making this up.
He pulled a rifle on the couple who were running the Confusion Hill roadside attraction on Highway 101 at the time. They ran him off and called 911. He drove south, sometimes at to 100 mph, in his hot little Mercedes coupe (again, not making this up) on Highway 1 to Cleone, where he hid on a side street about half a mile from where I live now.
Ricky del Fiorentino was a sheriff's deputy on duty that day. He heard the radio report of a crazed gunman driving south toward Fort Bragg.
Fort Bragg was not Ricky del Fiorentino's home town - he went to high school and won football and wrestling championships in Napa - but he made it more than his home town here. He was a law enforcement officer like everybody wants. He was loved. He didn't seem to see what kind of shoes you wore, or anything else about you except the look in your eye. This sounds hokey but it's true. He took joy in helping people. He protected the weak. He gave a lot of people a break. I never heard anybody say he was a bully (and I'm one of the ones people would have told here in the 90s). Never once.
Ricky del Fiorentino drove north on March 19, 2014 to meet the man who was waving automatic weapons around and driving his Mercedes 100 mph. Just that in itself, I think, should make you respect any cop. Putting yourself in the position of being asked to do something like that, just by showing up to work, deserves respect.
Del Fiorentino drove north to Cleone, looked around on the side streets, a residential neighborhood, mostly old people. He found the man parked in his Mercedes. The man got out with an automatic rifle and killed Del Fiorentino with it.
John Naulty, who is police chief in Fort Bragg now, arrived a few minutes later, saw what had happened, and when the man raised his rifle, Naulty killed him with his service revolver.
I relate these brutal details because I think of this every time I criticize police officers. This is the nightmare. It almost never happens, thank God, but the possibility of it happening is at the start of every cop's shift. Every day.
I'm going to be making myself a pain in the a** to John Naulty soon, because I think, given what happened with the Eureka Police Department, we need proof that our local law enforcement does not have streaks of sadism and racism running through it, like the EPD does. It is a sad state of affairs.
I trust John Naulty. I trust him to be a good cop. Good cops protect us, no matter who we are. They also protect their own, no matter what. That is why it can't be John Naulty's job to root out racism and unaccountable violence in American law enforcement. It's our job.
Seven years ago, Ricky del Fiorentino gave his life for his neighbors. That is something we never want to happen. It is also true heroism. It is the hardest and highest job we give our law enforcement officers. It causes the terrible pressure they work under. That, and seeing the worst of us, every day. It's why we have to worry about and keep an eye on how they are doing. Because we are the ones they serve, and the responsibility for what they do is ultimately ours.
Thank you, Ricky del Fiorentino. Truly, we will never forget.
— Chris Calder
RESOURCES FOR STARTING VEGGIES FROM SEED
Local Gardeners and Gardener Hopefuls: Local Videos and Resources for Starting Veggies from Seed!
The AV Foodshed held an online workshop, "Starting Veggies from Seed", early this Spring. Local gardeners Pam Laird, Andy Balestracci and Cindy Wilder answered questions from participants, we showed a couple of demonstration videos of seed planting and veggie bed preparation, and shared a document with resources for seeds and gardening information.
To see the recording of the Workshop, the additional demonstration videos, and the additional resources document click on this link to get to the correct page on the AV Foodshed website: avfoodshed.com/seed-workshop
FAT LADY SINGING ‘GOODBYE, COVID’
by Tommy Wayne Kramer
Sporadically deadly, choosy in its victims, the COVID-19 era is staggering into the dumpster of obsolete diseases.
Luck and science will soon end it and medical historians will then go about comparing it to previous disasters. Coronavirus will be found lacking. Global suffering in 2020 was not on a par with the Irish potato famine in the 1840s, the Spanish Flu of 1919 or Disco Fever in the mid-1970s.
In contrast, our Pandemic Lite has been no more than a tap of the pause button in the day-to-day hamster wheel spin of 21st century life.
Chirping media dullards keep burbling about how wonderful and normal life will soon be, always with a reminder that together we’ve experienced the most trying dozen months in the planet’s history. It’s enough to make you nauseous with flu-like symptoms.
COVID, the real deal: No one missed a meal and no one got stuck in a traffic jam. Nobody missed a funeral or a wedding because there weren’t any. Lost loved ones were mostly parked at convalescent homes, already awaiting delivery unto the hereafter.
The heat stayed on, lights stayed lit, you could take six hot showers a day and dry yourself with a roll of toilet paper after each. Your mother-in-law didn’t come visit.
Netflix, HBO and ESPN kept us all sagged onto our living room couches gaining a couple pounds weekly, our trouser fabric slowly interweaving with threads in the sofa cushions. We should have invested in Doritos stock. The World Series and Super Bowl played on schedule. Kids stayed home from school all year, so by 2030 they’ll be telling funny stories about having been taught reading and arithmetic by drunken parents.
Overall things went pretty well, though not perfect. No one’s house got burglarized because we were always home. Stress and anxiety rattled those who specialize in being stressed and anxious, so they fretted over Dr. Seuss books, plastic potato heads and whether Abe Lincoln is as Woke as their favorite talk show host. COVID’s fault: zero.
Journalists wept salty puddles because COVID prevented big family crowds at their Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners, forgetting they’ve been whining for 30 years about all the stress and anxiety of attending big holiday dinners.
Government employees got paid fulltime whether doing something useful or not. You and I got checks in the mail but had nowhere to spend them since the money came from the same governing agencies busy strangling the economy.
When stores and restaurants finally reopen we will have already spent our stimu-checks online at Amazon. And on weed. Some liquor, sure. Overall we spent very little on oxycontin or fentanyl patches. Maybe a few hookers.
Nobody complained about the high cost of gasoline because we averaged three weeks to the gallon. Those with jobs had early morning meetings on Zoom and drank Scotch out of coffee cups. Nobody went to the library, but nobody goes to the library anyway. We spent lots of up-close time with our spouses. As I said, it wasn’t perfect.
The Ukiah High Class of 2020 dodged its sweaty, brain-deadening graduation ordeal held each year under a broiling sun and featuring cliche-filled, hypnosis-level tedium, followed by the thrill of listening to every graduate’s name recited.
NOTE: If you’re sad to have missed graduation ceremonies just wrap yourself in a plastic shower curtain, sit on a folding chair under a beastly midday sun and have someone read EJ Dionne columns at you for five hours.
For a year no teenager complained about cafeteria food, and parents didn’t mutter and swear dropping off and picking up kids in school parking lots. The Wildcats went undefeated in every sport. That’s a sentence UDJ sports editor Glen Erickson would have happily paid $50 to type just once in his decades-long career.
No one picked up a DUI coming home from a bar, and no one complained about the high cost of a ticket at the Ukiah Theater, the Ukiah Playhouse or the Ukiah Speedway. Many of us were delighted to go a year without anyone hugging anyone else.
Also: What if the county hadn’t hired that pair of full-time health officers to dream up Covidiotic policies? We could have rented a couple life-size mannequins from Ukiah’s shut-down JC Penney store, dressed ’em in doctor outfits, given ’em offices and then followed COVID instructions from Sonoma or Lake County.
Those hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on Drs. Doohan and Coren should have been showered on us instead, and we could have thrown ourselves a big party.
Ahh, well. Maybe next pandemic.
DA HISTORY SERIES PART 5: DA JAMES MILTON MANNON
(Compiled by Mendocino County DA David Eyster)
Before pursuing a seat on the bench of the Mendocino County Superior Court, the Hon. James Milton Mannon (1847-1926) was the tenth attorney to serve as Mendocino County's District Attorney.
In the days when the term of office was for two years, Mr. Mannon served one term as Mendocino County's DA (1887-1888).
From The History Of The Bench And Bar Of California: Being Biographies of Many Remarkable Men, a Store of Humorous and Pathetic Recollections, Accounts of Important Legislation and Extraordinary Cases, Comprehending the Judicial History of the State, edited by Oscar Tully Shuck. Los Angeles: The Commercial Printing House, 1152 pp. , page 768:
“James M. Mannon – James M. Mannon, Judge of the Superior Court of Mendocino county, was born in Brown county, Ohio, and received his education in the common schools of that State. He was graduated from the Southwest Normal School at Lebanon, and after a few years passed in teaching school, he immigrated to California.
“He arrived in San Luis Obispo county in 1873, and engaged in stock raising and various other pursuits, until failing health compelled him to withdraw from active physical labor. He then began the study of law, and in 1881, was admitted to the bar. Shortly thereafter he removed to Ukiah.
“In 1875 he was married to Miss Mattie Clark of Windsor, Sonoma county, and two living sons are the issue of the marriage – Charles M. and J. Milton.
“The former was graduated with honor from Stanford University in 1898, and from Hastings College of Law in 1900. He is now in active practice in San Francisco. J. Milton Mannon, the younger son, was graduated from the University of California in the class of ’99, and is now a middle-year student in the Hastings College of Law.
“Judge Mannon rose rapidly, not alone in his profession, but in the confidence of the people, and the years 1887-88 saw him occupying the position of district attorney, a place he filled with distinguished ability. When his term ended he resumed the practice of the law, and soon attained the position of a leader at the bar.
“Among his clients were the large corporations of the State and the prominent business men of the county.
“In 1896 he was the Republican candidate for Judge of the Superior Court, and in a county that was strongly Democratic he was elected by a substantial majority.
“His decisions are regarded as having always been just and fair, and the attorneys of all parties have never yet expressed dissatisfaction at his rulings. The Judge possesses, in an eminent degree, the judicial mind. He is tolerant and patient under the most trying circumstances, and has the entire confidence of the people of Mendocino county.
“His ambition in life has been the education of his sons, who are very bright young men. They have been given every advantage, and are now entering upon careers which promise to be distinguished.”
As later summarized in a newspaper article published in the Ukiah Daily Journal on Monday, January 5, 1976:
“James Milton Mannon came to California from Ohio in 1873 and moved to Ukiah in 1881. In 1903 Mannon, by then a judge of the Superior Court of Mendocino County, and A. F. Redemeyer, a private banker and loan broker, met with friends and business associates to form the Savings Bank of Mendocino County.
“Judge Mannon retired from the Superior Court and he and his son, Charles McFerson Mannon, went into partnership in the firm of Mannon and Mannon in Ukiah. Judge Mannon was elected president of the Savings Bank in 1914 and served until his death in 1926.”
Mr. Mannon and his wife, Mattie A. (Clark) Mannon [1848-1927], were both laid to rest in the cemetery in Ukiah.
Mendocino County District Attorney
CONTINUING our stroll down Memory Lane, here's a few remarks from 2005, making us here at the Boonville weekly the senior critics of the Northcoast Democrat's ongoing rail scam:
AND THEN there were three. By our count there are exactly three people left in Northern California who claim to believe trains will again link Marin County and Eureka, and they don't really believe it, but it's a fantasy that pays them well. They are former Congressman Doug Bosco, former Bosco aide Mitch Stogner, who now runs the North Coast Railroad Authority, and Congressman Mike Thompson. [Assemblyman] Wes Chesbro also can be counted on as a believer because he believes whatever Thompson and Bosco tell him to believe. The fantasy railroad has become a kind of Northcoast Democratic Party jobs program, much as the State Garbage Board also presently functions for termed-out professional officeholders. This sinecure pays more than a hundred grand a year while the hacks and hackettes wait for an assembly or state senate seat to become available.
ANYWAY, THE RAILROAD which, in the days Americans worked hard and knew how to do things, once ran four trains a day, two north and two south, between Sausalito and Eureka. The line lasted until 1967 when, ah, the whole country was derailed, you might say. (Myself, I think things got generally better beginning in ‘67, but older Americans tend not to share my opinion.) These days, as anyone knows who’s walked the Eel River Canyon, or parts of it as we have, the idea that its track could again run trains on it is pure nonsense. The Chinese-dug tunnels have collapsed or partly collapsed, and the track has either fallen into the Eel River or disappeared beneath massive landslides. It would cost millions to rehab, millions that will never ever be available because the timber and ag which sustained the train are long gone.
THE ABOVE MENTIONED believers, all three self-interested, of course, are fighting a rearguard action because the Humboldt County Grand Jury has also now bailed on their fantasy. The HumCo Grand Jury studied the North Coast Rail Authority and its operations for two years, interviewing numerous railroad experts, geologists, and others familiar with the Eel River Canyon and the condition of the track there. They also reviewed a study of the long-term financial feasibility of the proposal to restore the rail line between Willits and Eureka. The Grand Jury’s conclusion? “As of this date, it has been over ten years since trains traversed the Eel River Canyon. Tracks are broken and twisted with large portions of railbed entirely missing. This condition is due to highly unstable ground throughout the region and lack of maintenance. Local geologists familiar with the area testified that the effects of earthquakes and natural erosion in the Eel River Canyon are amplified because of particular soil types found there. A 2003 study examined the long-term financial feasibility of the Northwestern Pacific Railroad. The study, a thorough examination of anticipated revenues, expenses, and conditions that could produce both, concluded that income generated could not meet expenses over the next 25 years. The study did not speculate on operating costs of the railroad. … The Grand Jury concluded that the principal objection to the restoration of the rail line is the enormous cost likely to be incurred. Any benefits from such a project would be other than monetary and limited in scope for the foreseeable future.”
* * *
HERE'S A COMMENT FROM 2005: Monday's Ukiah Daily Journal featured another long re-write of the record under this front page headline: “Women taking the lead to save our planet.” Move over John Muir! Take a hike Ed Abbey! Get lost in the rain forest Chico Mendez! Contrary to the false assumption that seemed to have inspired the gathering described in the story, “saving the planet” has always been, from the beginning, a co-gender enterprise. As has destroying the planet. Most of the ancient redwood set-asides on the Northcoast were the work of wealthy persons, many of them women, during the first Roosevelt era, Teddy Roosevelt that is. There haven't been many trees saved since. And many of the women attending the Women's History gathering in Ukiah last Sunday hated and feared the late Judi Bari whose memory this year's event honored. Rachel Binah saving the ocean? Annual moratoriums rather than permanent ocean sanctuary quickly became the franchise of NorCal's opportunistic Democrats of the Bosco-Hauser-Chesbro-Berg-Thompson type who have ever since got their green cards punched for annually “saving”Rachel's ocean views off Mendocino,” and have ever since ridden non-existent environmental credentials into permanent stays in elected office. Alicia Littletree, another local honoree, not only profited from Judi Bari's ultimately triumphant federal libel case, she's one of a small band of so-called “movement” lawyers and residual eco-parasites who refuse to demand that Bari's assassin be brought to justice. Why? They literally can't afford to do it. Julia Butterfly was paid by Charles Hurwitz to come down out of her tree, the salmon are gone from the dead Pacific, the outside corporations looted Mendocino County of its marketable trees and fled, and here we are.
NPR said this morning the Atlanta shooter had “sexual addiction issues.” Two former housemates of the manchild charged with eight counts of murder after three Tuesday night shootings at Atlanta-area Asian spas say he previously attended a rehab center for sex addiction. Hold it right there. Sex addiction? Vigorous exercise and cold showers was the old cure. That was before the internet where, these days, more than half the people on-line, men mostly, gaze for hours at other people having sexual relations. I've always thought it was obvious that pornography, aside from the ritual humiliation of half the world's population, drives a lot of sex crime while also subletly undermining public morale, which is already low from the overall nutso psycho-social context of late (very late) capitalism. But this particular monster, who said he believes in “God and guns,” somehow blamed the young women whose temptations he couldn't resist for his alleged addiction, many of them enslaved by the money they owe to Chinese criminals who smuggle them into the U.S. where they are trapped in these sordid brothels like the ones this degenerate shot up.
SINCE 1982 the Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest has challenged participants to write an atrocious opening sentence to a hypothetical bad novel.
LISA KLUBER of SF won in 2020 with this beaut: “Her Dear John missive flapped unambiguously in the windy breeze, hanging like a pizza menu on the doorknob of my mind.”
ANOTHER WINNER was penned by Lisa Hanks of Euless, Texas: “As hard-nosed P.I. Dan McKinnon stepped out into the gray gritty dawn, a bone chilling gust of filth-strewn wind wrapped the loose ends of his open trench coat around him like a day-old flour tortilla around a breakfast burrito with hash browns, sausage, and scrambled eggs, hold the pico.”
JOHN GRANT, SAN FRANCISCO REMEMBERED
NO ON EXPANSION OF LARGE-SCALE MARIJUANA FARMING
A group of private citizens' (who happen to be on the MAC) letter to the Planning Commission regarding expansion of cannabis cultivation from 10,000 sf to 10% of acreage. Please consider sending your own letter ASAP (by end of day to email@example.com; or while the meeting is in process beginning Friday morning at 9am to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
March 17, 2021
Mendocino Planning Commission
860 Bush Street
Ukiah, CA 95482
We are members of the Redwood Valley MAC, speaking here as private citizens. Our views are not necessarily those of any other body including the Board of Supervisors, nor do we speak here for anyone else.
We strongly oppose the expansion of cannabis cultivation up to 10% of acreage in AG, UR, and RL zoning districts, as specified in the Commercial Cannabis Activity Land Use Ordinance. We want to underline our shared position with the Laytonville MAC and the Round Valley MAC in their opposition to this impending decision/vote. Allowing 10% of total acreage for commercial cannabis farming exacerbates existing, non-mitigated stressors that will quicken environmental collapse in our county.
Redwood Valley residents care deeply about the quality of their natural environment and have long worked to be good stewards of its resources. In our Community Action Plan of 2020, residents diligently and specifically expressed concern about the negative impacts of large scale indoor and outdoor cannabis cultivation on residents—especially lights, fences, hoop houses, smells, violent crime, traffic, property values and the environment. We are already struggling with these and while Phase III could eventually reduce crime, we have reason to believe the other negative impacts will get worse.
Most importantly, Redwood Valley’s current water crisis has made almost certain that agricultural water provided by Redwood Valley County Water District will soon be shut off completely. Delivery of domestic water will likely depend on reallocation of water from other districts or agencies. We agree with Supervisor Glenn McGourty that we must protect every drop of water in the Upper Russian River Basin. We owe it to our county’s existing farms and families to protect them first before inviting in large-scale cultivation off a crop known for its excessive water demands.
We lack confidence that Mendocino County has the budget, staffing or track record to responsibly allow new cannabis operations while also protecting residents and existing businesses. Already Redwood Valley is experiencing rapid proliferation of hoop houses without any signs of oversight or enforcement. We have noted a lack of transparency and public process in the County’s fast-tracked development of Phase III of the Cannabis Ordinance. Without inviting and heeding the voices of citizens and giving ample time and forums for public discussion, the democratic process has failed. Though the majority of Californians voted to legalize cannabis, we have heard from so many in our county that this proposal is not what they voted for. They wanted legalization of small, sustainable farms.
We therefore oppose the development of large-scale cannabis cultivation in our district. We respectfully request that you reject the Board of Supervisor’s proposal for Phase III expansion of cannabis cultivation in Mendocino County. While this type of expansion might be appropriate in other counties with more robust resources, it is not appropriate here.
Thank you very much for your consideration and your time and attention to this urgent issue.
Sattie Clark, Patricia Yarbrough, Jini Reynolds, Marybeth Kelly, Chris Boyd, Katrina Frey
Residents of Redwood Valley
FORMER SUPERVISOR John McCowen on Mendo’s Phase III cannabis permitting plans:
Efforts to create a functional regulatory system for cannabis have failed at the state and local level. Phase Three, which relies on a land use based permitting system, is needed to bring consistency and accountability to cannabis regulation in Mendocino County. But any system, including Phase Three, will fail unless local government officials make an equally strong committment to oversight and enforcement.
Phase Three will require Use Permit approval PRIOR to cultivation. A Use Permit will require full environmental review of each application pursuant to CEQA, notification to neighbors, Public Hearings, conditions to address environmental and neighborhood/community concerns, or denial if the concerns cannot be mitigated. Violations can result in revocation of the Use Permit.
Environmentalists who oppose Phase Three fail to see that everything they complain about is occurring right now. Phase Three is the solution to unregulated actiivity that threatens public safety and damages the environment. But only if it includes effective enforcement. Both are essential.
Critics falsely claim Phase Three came out of nowhere and is being fast tracked. Don't be fooled! Phase Three was part of the current ordinance when it was adopted April 4, 2017. It was supposed to take effect January 1, 2020! A vote against Phase Three is a vote to continue the current non-functional system that degrades the environment, threatens public safety and diminishes neighborhood quality of life.
Cannabis activists who oppose Phase Three fall into several categories.
One group believes that prohibiting new applicants will limit competition and increase the value of their product. They fail to understand that the market effect of limiting applicants in Mendocino County will be to diminish visibility, demand and value for the Mendocoino County brand, not enhance it.
In addition, by keeping the door shut on new, legal applicants, the County will be exposed to liability by perpetuating an unfair business practice. I was the chief proponent of giving existing legacy growers a head start in the permitting process but after four years it's time to allow new applicants. Anything less puts the County in the position of running a protection racket. Imagine telling a hair stylist, car dealer, manufacturer, or any other business that they can only operate in Mendocino County if they were doing business here prior to January 1, 2016.
Many Phase One applicants oppose creation of a functional regulatory system because they fear they will not succeed in a functional system. They prefer the curtain chaotic, unregulated environment where there is no effective method of distinguishing between legal and illegal cannabis production. Many of these cultivators paid one application fee I. 2017 and have operated without oversight ever since. Staff and the cannabis ad hoc committee have repeatedly said 90% of these applicants will not get a state license. Is it any wonder they prefer the current unregulated environment? But for those who could become legal, Phase Three offers a path forward that meets state requirements for site specific CEQA.
Neighborhood growers illegally cultivating in Sunset Zones also oppose Phase Three because they fear a functional regulatory system that clearly distinguishes between legal and illegal will result in them being shut down. And they should be shut down. Aaaanyone who wants to reclaim their neighborhood as a place to live and raise your family without the negative impacts of illegal commercial cannabis ought to support Lhase Three.
Finally, the total outlaw growers, who pay no attention to any regulations, also benefit from the current dysfunctional system which provides protective cover to them.
In short adopting a functional regulatory system AND insisting on oversight and enforcement are the keys to protecting the environment, preserving public safety and having a fully legal above ground cannabis industry that enhances community economic development.
CATCH OF THE DAY, March 18, 2021
MARTIN BALL, Ukiah. DUI.
DONALD BARHITE JR., Clearlake/Ukiah. Grand theft, controlled substance, paraphernalia.
CECILLIA BLOYD, Ukiah. Misdemeanor hit&run with property damage, controlled substance for sale.
ROBERT DEVITO JR., Fort Bragg. Rape with victim prevented from resisting by intoxicating substance, oral copulation of intoxicated person, unlawful sexual intercourse with minor more than three years younger than perpetrator.
MICHAEL DOMANOWSKI, Ukiah. Disobeying court order, failure to appear.
LUIS GAMEZ, Willits. Cruelty to child-infliction of injury, conspiracy to obstruct justice.
EUGENE HARRIS, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.
CODY LADD, Sacramento/Ukiah. Brandishing, parole violation, interference with police communications.
BOBBI MANIES, Willits. Cruelty to child-infliction of injury, conspiracy to obstruct justice.
WILLIAM MARSHALL, Willits. Probation revocation.
WILLIAM MOON, Ukiah. Trespassing, resisting.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
I’ve been farming in S FL for 20 yrs, and iguanas only started showing up a few years ago. An invasive species. We have a lot of those: Burmese pythons, fire ants, Sri Lankan weevils.
Hurricanes are nothing to sneeze at, although I’m sure the bitter cold is terrible too. I lived through some major ones. Charley was the worst, but Irma a few years ago was pretty hard too. The worst part of a hurricane is the aftermath. You’re flooded, and there’s all kinds of dangers in the water, from electric lines to cottonmouth snakes (lethal), gators, balls of fire ants floating that can attach to your body and do a lot of damage, broken glass, household chemicals, sewage. You don’t have power for days, sometimes weeks. Hurricanes happen in the summer, so it’s above 100 every day and you are doing chainsaw work nonstop.
Wife and I (she’s a FL cracker and a great farmer, I’m originally from Argentina but a proud US citizen for many years now) are Spartan and Stoic, so we can cope, but it’s sad to see the masses lose it, I mean lose it and go apeshit both before and after the storm. I’ve seen old ladies pushed and trampled by young men at the gas line when the models start predicting the storm will hit. There’s runs like herd of buffalo for stocking up on water, canned food, plywood and gas. Most people here are soft and live their whole life under AC, so tempers flare after a few sleepless nights with mosquitos and no see ums, everyone’s on edge. There’s been looting and mayhem sometimes. Like a previous poster said, the veneer of civilization is very thin.
We always keep a 6 month supply of everything and like I said, are used to being outside, understand the dangers and strategies to cope… we keep rainbarrels full, so we can dunk and freshen up at the end of the day… but most people have no idea.
The hurricane brings out the best and the worst in people. We always try to help neighbors, for example with no power, we’d rather have everyone in the area over for a free bbq, as we need to cook all the meats in the freezer. Things like that have built a lot of goodwill over the years.
As for anyone trying to take what’s ours, uninvited, let’s just say we have more powerful “arguments” than slingshots. In any case, those kinds of miserable behaviors are far more likely in urban areas. Both of our farms are nicely removed, although development is encroaching in the South and always pushing (our main reason to leave). People in rural areas are more likely to be like us.
S Fl is really a lost cause. Wife tells me how beautiful it was when she was growing up, the citrus groves, the pristine beaches, the slow pace of life. Now everything is like Miami: malls, parking lots, golf courses, clueless snowbirds (yankees & Canadians), constant development – hardly any farms remain in the South.
HE WAS A 2 YEAR OLD ELEPHANT, in death he folded his legs like he was still a baby .
The hunting company is Charlton McCallum Hunting Safaris. Owner is Buzz Charlton. The professional hunter is Max Delezenne and the trophy hunter is Mike Jines, owner of TopGen Energy. Let's make them famous on the Internet for being scum of the earth!
WILL THE NFL SURVIVE THE NEW SCIENCE OF BRAIN DAMAGE?
by Dave Zirin
The most important breaking story in sports is not something you’ll see on ESPN or the assorted copycat networks. It is a story that affects multiple sports, but most primarily football. The NFL is in the midst of a free-agent frenzy, signing players to $100 million deals to the breathless panting of sports media carnival barkers—but new developments in the science of diagnosing brain damage threatens not only those nine-figure contracts but the entire multibillion-dollar football industry as well.
Until now, diagnosing the remorseless brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) could only be done after death. Former NFL players have died (many by shooting themselves in the chest or hanging themselves, to preserve their skulls) and their families have donated their brains to science so CTE could be diagnosed postmortem.
These studies have been damning, yet critics have always said that the high rate of CTE found in these players’ brains is flawed since they were donated from people who have “shown signs” of CTE. In other words, if a former player has symptoms such as early onset Alzheimer’s, memory loss, suicidal ideation, or other forms of what is, in layman’s terms, “brain damage,” then their families are more likely to donate their brains to these studies.
This explanation has also allowed NFL executives, franchise owners, players, and fans to put CTE out of their thoughts. Meanwhile, the league has adopted cosmetic changes to the rules and the equipment to market the illusion that it is safer (or even safe at all) to play tackle football.
Yet science is not on the NFL’s side, and the more our ability to detect CTE in the living improves, the more greater the existential threat becomes to the future of the almighty religion that is football. The latest scientific news is that over two dozen scientists, funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, have produced the first consensus criteria to diagnose CTE among the living. This paper, which went public on Monday, is a step toward a “biomarker” that can definitively say whether a living person is suffering from CTE.
Robert Stern, director of clinical research at Boston University’s CTE Center and one of the paper’s authors, said upon releasing the study, “Although I wish I could say it’s a game-changer right now, it’s a game-changer for the future. We’re really not at the point of being able to diagnose CTE during life yet. We’re getting much closer, and this new paper is an important step forward.”
This study, while not perfectly able to “diagnose CTE during life,” will help identify CTE’s unique symptoms that result from head injuries, determine its prevalence among athletes, and allow medical professionals to better determine the risks involved from suffering concussions. It’s a massive step forward.
In the near future, athletes of any age will be able to be diagnosed. Currently the great unknown for CTE is when it develops: youth football? High school? College? The pros? We know from youth suicide cases that CTE can be not only detectable at an early age but also shockingly widespread throughout the brain. That was the condition of New England Patriot and murderer Aaron Hernandez, who was found to have a terrible case of CTE following his jailhouse suicide by hanging.
I reached out to Dr. Chris Nowinski, cofounder and CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, a nonprofit organization leading the fight against concussions and CTE. Several lifetimes ago, Nowinski was a professional wrestler who suffered from concussions. He said, “As we inch closer to definitively diagnosing CTE in living people, we should anticipate many difficult conversations. For example, CTE in athletes is preventable, and we know the onset of the disease can occur in minors. If we diagnose a 16-year-old football player with CTE, should youth football continue? Adult athletes may soon learn they have CTE while they are still playing. Will they retire? It’s difficult to predict how individuals will respond when we can finally diagnose the disease in life, but we should begin to prepare for that day.”
Nowinski really hits the nail on the head (pardon the expression). CTE is a degenerative disease that worsens with repeated impact and abuse to the brain. If youth, high school, or college football players can be diagnosed with it, it puts the NFL’s entire talent pipeline in a great deal of jeopardy—not to mention its future financial prospects.
The days of plausible deniability—by the NFL, by players, and by fans—will be coming to a screeching halt in the next several years. The league’s plans for dealing with that inevitability remain an unknown. One thing is certain: slogans like “Football is family” and “Moms for football” athletic clinics are no longer going to cut it. We are officially past the point of CTE’s being a subject of debate. The new debate will be over football itself.
BOGUS RUSSIA CLAIMS
by Matt Taibbi
The Director of National Intelligence releases a report and like Charlie Brown, the press rushes to kick the football again.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) has released a much-hyped, much-cited new report on “Foreign Threats to the 2020 Elections.” The key conclusion:
“We assess that Russian President Putin authorized, and a range of Russian government organizations conducted, influence operations aimed at denigrating President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party, supporting former President Trump, [and] undermining public confidence in the electoral process…”
The report added Ukrainian legislator Andrey Derkach, described as having “ties” to “Russia’s intelligence services,” and Konstantin Kilimnik, a “Russian influence agent” (whatever that means), used “prominent U.S. persons” and “media conduits” to “launder their narratives” to American audiences. The “narratives” included “misleading or unsubstantiated allegations against President Biden” (note they didn’t use the word “false”). They added a small caveat at the end: “Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact.”
As Glenn Greenwald already pointed out, the “launder their narratives” passage was wolfed down by our intelligence services’ own “media conduits” here at home, and regurgitated as proof that the “Hunter Biden laptop story came from the Kremlin,” even though the report didn’t mention the laptop story at all. Exactly one prominent reporter, Chris Hayes, had the decency to admit this after advancing the claim initially.
With regard to the broader assessment: how many times are we going to do this? We’ve spent the last five years watching as anonymous officials make major Russia-related claims, only to have those evidence-free claims fizzle.
From the much-ballyhooed “changed RNC platform” story (Robert Mueller found no evidence the changed Republican platform was “undertaken at the behest of candidate Trump or Russia”), to the notion that Julian Assange was engaged in a conspiracy with the Russians (Mueller found no evidence for this either), to Michael Cohen’s alleged secret meetings in Prague with Russian conspirators (“not true,” the FBI flatly concluded) to the story that Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress (“not accurate,” said Mueller), to wild stories about Paul Manafort meeting Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy, to a “bombshell” tale about Trump foreknowledge of Wikileaks releases that blew up in CNN’s face in spectacular fashion, reporters for years chased unsubstantiated claims instead of waiting to see what they were based upon.
The latest report’s chief conclusions are assessments about Derkach and Kilimnik, information that the whole world knew before this report was released. Hell, even Rudy Giuliani, whose meeting with Derkach is supposedly the big scandal here, admitted there was a “50/50 chance” the guy was a Russian spy. Kilimnik meanwhile has now been characterized as having “ties” to Russian intelligence (Mueller), as a “Russian intelligence officer” (Senate Intelligence Committee), and is now back to being a mere “influence agent.” If he is Russian intelligence, then John McCain’s International Republican Institute (where Kilimnik worked), as well as embassies in Kiev and Moscow (where Kilimnik regularly gave information, according to the New York Times), have a lot of explaining to do.
No matter what, the clear aim of this report is to cast certain stories about Joe or Hunter Biden as misinformation, when the evidence more likely shows that material like the Hunter Biden emails is real, just delivered from a disreputable source. That makes such stories just like, say, the Joe Biden-Petro Poroshenko tapes, which were also pushed by Derkach and reported on uncontroversially by major media outlets like the Washington Post,before it became fashionable to denounce outlets reporting such leaks as Russian “proxies” and “conduits.”
I never thought the Hunter Biden laptop story was anywhere near as big of a deal as the efforts by platforms like Facebook and Twitter to block access to it, which seemed a historic and dangerous precedent. This new effort to cast the reporting of “allegations against President Biden” as participation in a foreign intelligence campaign is nearly as ominous. Even worse is the degree to which press figures are devouring the message. Will any bother to point out the huge quantity of recent official takes on the Russia story that went pear-shaped? A very, very brief sample:
• All 17 U.S. intelligence agencies backed an assessment that cyberattacks in 2016 came from the “highest levels of the Kremlin.” That was later corrected in congressional testimony to four (it was actually three):
• The Trump organization was communicating with Russia via a mysterious server tied to Russia’s Alfa Bank. Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz noted the FBI concluded “by early February 2017 that there were no such links,” yet stories pegged to anonymous intel officials persisted for years after that.
• Russia “hacked a Vermont utility,” according to U.S. officials! Except, the next day:
• Four “current and former American officials,” citing a “trove of information the FBI is sifting through,” said the Trump campaign had “repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials.” Months later:
• A “senior U.S. government official” characterized the ex-spy who claimed Russia had been cultivating Donald Trump for at least five years, and could “blackmail him,” was “a credible source with a proven record of providing reliable, sensitive, and important information to the US government.” But Christopher Steele was subsequently dismissed as an FBI source for his “completely untrustworthy” decision to talk to the media, and Horowitz not only discovered that both the FBI and the CIA (who dismissed his reports as “internet rumor”) had many reservations about his credibility, but that his famed “blackmail” claims about pee and prostitutes had been made in “jest,” over “beers.”
• Former Trump adviser Carter Page was a “catalyst” for the FBI investigation into connections between Donald Trump and Russia, according to “current and former law enforcement and counterintelligence officials.” Similarly, the New York Times cited court documents in describing George Papadopoulos: “Trump Campaign Adviser Met With Russian to Discuss ‘Dirt’ on Clinton.”
But Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe testified that as early as August of 2016, Page became the focus of secret surveillance because Papadopoulos had been deemed a dead end. This scarcely reported detail only rendered the entire predicate for the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation absurd:
• Jeff Sessions did not disclose contacts with a Russian ambassador in a security clearance form, Justice Department sources told multiple outlets, in what became a major, front-page scandal. Except it came out later he didn’t have to make those disclosures, and as for the contacts themselves? “Brief, public, and non-substantive,” said Robert Mueller.
• “Senior FBI and national intelligence officials” told the White House and major news outlets that releasing the name of an “informant” in the Trump-Russia investigation could “risk lives,” one of many such stories (we heard similar warnings before the release of the name of Christopher Steele, his source Igor Danchenko, the “exfiltrated spy” Oleg Smolenkov, the “anonymous” New York Times editorialist, the Ukraine “whistleblower,” and others). The “informant” Haspel warned about, Stefan Halper, turned out to have been a professor outed by name as an intelligence source in the New York Times all the way back in 1983:
• “Current and former intelligence officers” told the New York Times that CIA director Gina Haspel showed Donald Trump pictures of British children sickened, as well as ducks killed, by a Russian assassination in England using the deadly nerve agent Novichok. It turns out there were no such sick children or dead ducks, and Haspel didn’t show such pictures, an error the Times chalked up to lack of research time:
• According to “officials briefed on the matter,” New York Times reported, and the Washington Post “confirmed,” that “a Russian military spy unit offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to attack coalition forces in Afghanistan.” Two months later, an on-the-record military official was less certain:
* * *
One could go on and on with this list, from the bogus claims about Maria Butina that ended up as Timesheadlines (“Suspected Secret Agent Used Sex in Covert Plan”), to overhype of the Cambridge Analytica story (which turned out to have nothing to do with Brexit), to the bass-ackwards denunciations of the so-called “Nunes memo” (validated almost entirely by Horowitz), and on, and on.
Does this mean the Russians don’t meddle? Of course not. But we have to learn to separate real stories about foreign intelligence operations with posturing used to target domestic actors while suppressing criticism of domestic politicians. It’s only happened about a hundred times in the last five years — maybe it’s time to start asking for proof in these episodes?