Light Showers | 2 New Cases | Vaccine Supply | Smite Button | Unconscious Husband | John Harrison | Comptche Youth | Willits Library | Cape Mendocino | Highway Delays | Mashed Cats | Since 1980 | Cannabis Ordinance | Mindless Consumerism | Ed Notes | Sexual Abuse | Orr Springs Road | Mill Bend | Point Bonita | Albion THP | Calla Lilies | Trail-a-Thon | Yesterday's Catch | Mexican Border | Guernsey Milk | Dave Bollinger | Unfair System | Elgin Baylor | Firearmed | Sad Day | New Low | Tivoli 1880 | Federal Executions | Point Reyes | American Teacher | Reporter's Alert | Gun Nation
LIGHT SHOWERS will be possible today, along with gusty northerly winds. Drier and warmer weather will develop across the region Friday and through most of the weekend, followed by cooler conditions Monday with the passage of a cold front. (NWS)
2 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.
OPTIMISTIC FUTURE DESPITE VACCINE SUPPLY CHALLENGES
by William Miller, MD; Chief of Staff at Adventist Health – Mendocino Coast Hospital
As much as one tries to provide consistent and accurate messaging throughout the past year of this pandemic, it remains a challenge because of sudden policy changes and lots of false starts and sudden stops at all levels from the feds on down. This was true with PPE, it was true with COVID testing and it has remained true with the vaccine availability. Unfortunately, this also contributes to “COVID burnout” that we are all experiencing.
Nationally, clinics have complained that it is difficult to schedule vaccinations when we often don’t know how many doses we will get until shortly before hand. On Monday of this week, we were told to expect to not receive any doses for our vaccination clinic. However, the next day, due in large part to the diligent work of Dr. Bessant Parker our Chief Medical Officer and to the willingness of Adventist Health (AH) to be supportive, we were able to locate all 740 doses needed for second Moderna booster shots, being shared with us by other AH facilities. Yet another reminder of the benefit of being affiliated with a larger hospital system.
Last week was a particularly great week for vaccination on the Coast. Mendocino Coast Clinics (MCC) gave 700 injections, AH gave 820 at CV Star and the County gave another 500, for a total of 1,540 doses. The majority of these were second dose shots. This brings the grand total of people in Mendocino County who have received at least one dose to just under 30,000 of which about 5,000 people are living on the Coast.
Having said that, we may see the number of doses coming to Mendocino through both the AH system and the health department be lower over the next few weeks. Thus, we have been asked by the health department to focus on second dose shots right now and avoid giving first doses again until we know that our supply is more assured.
The reason for this relative reduction is the need for California to redirect doses towards counties that have larger populations considered to be at highest risk. The CDC reported recently that of the 48 states in the continental US, California ranks near the bottom at 44th in terms of equitably distributing the vaccine to vulnerable populations based on ethnicity, health literacy, poverty and homelessness which have all been identified as factors for highest risk. This is important for the State because of concerns about a recent upswing in new cases in New York and Florida. We need to get those at highest risk vaccinated quickly to avoid another surge here in California.
Even with these considerations, the future looks promising. Despite recent media hype around AstraZeneca, it looks to be a very good vaccine that will likely be approved by the FDA soon. In addition to bringing a fourth vaccine online in the US; production and distribution of the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have ramped up considerably. President Biden promised to deliver 100 million vaccines to Americans by his 100th day in office and the US surpassed that goal on March 19th; 41 days early. Last Friday, Governor Gavin Newsom promised that every adult Californian who wants a vaccine will be able to schedule one by end of April and receive it by end of May. If this comes true, then it is well in advance of earlier projections that it might not be until August or September when all in California who want the vaccine would receive it.
Returning to the local picture, MCC will be giving 25 doses of the Johnson & Johnson, one-time dose to homeless folks on our Coast through its Street Medicine Program and will give another 30 next week. MCC also plans to give 900 second doses next week on April 2nd and 3rd.
AH will be giving the 740 second doses, mentioned previously, at CV Star to those who received their first dose on February 21st at AHMC hospital or on February 25th at CV Star on Thursday, March 25th between 9:00 and 12:45. Please, arrive at the time that you got your first dose with us; if your dose was not during that time span then simply arrive at 12:30. Remember to bring your yellow form completed and your CDC vaccination card.
(The views shared in this weekly column are those of the author, Dr. William Miller, and do not necessarily represent those of the publisher or of Adventist Health.)
ON FRIDAY, March 12 about 3:30pm, a passenger vehicle stopped at the Boonville firehouse. A frantic, elderly woman ran up to the office door and shouted that her husband was unconscious from what seemed to be a heart attack. Local volunteers promptly arrived in the AV Ambulance and provided emergency assistance (we don’t know the particulars, but they typically involve defibrillation, oxygen, chest compressions, etc.), then they carried the stricken fellow to the Boonville airport where a medivac helicopter was waiting. The patient, treated during the brief flight over the hill to the Ukiah hospital, survived. A few days later he called AV Fire Chief Andres Avila to the Chief and the emergency crew who had saved his life.
Here is John Harrison's obit mentioning Oak Knoll cemetery. There is no Oak Knoll cemetery in the Valley that anyone knows of. I was talking to some AV seniors about the obit. The Baptist church used to be on Anderson Valley Way (the old frontage that the new highway bypassed), walking distance from Greenmound. The building is still there. They would have had the service at the church and then walked up the hill to bury John H.
John & Lorena's daughter Lenora was already buried there in 1888. So it is hard to explain why Hannah Eastlick (Lorena's mother) was buried at Shields Cemetery. But she was the first to go — and maybe they lived closer to there, or hadn't started attending the Baptist church yet (or it wasn't in existence yet). Amanda Harrison (John and Lorena's daughter) marries a Dutro and they are buried at Shields (Amanda - 1917, Mart 1932). So the family gets split up between Evergreen (the old Greenmound) and Shields.
PASSING OF PIONEERS
The Death Of Two Old Settlers Of Anderson Valley
Philo, December 19, 1898 — Last Monday Uncle John Harrison of Indian Creek, Anderson Valley, passed away from among us at the advanced age of 81 years. His death was caused by a cancer of the right cheek from which he suffered the most excruciating pain for nearly two years and which he bore most heroically to the end, his very vigorous constitution enabling him to battle against the fatal disease much longer than the most hopeful anticipated.
Unfortunately, during the early stages of his attack he failed to realize how malignant it was and delayed medical treatment which, if timely, might have proved successful, or at least have been of some avail. He met life’s close with patience and resignation. His funeral was well attended, the internment taking place in Oak Knoll Cemetery of the local Baptist church — of which denomination he became a member in January last — Reverend R.T. Gray officiating.
The deceased was born August 16, 1817, in the state of Kentucky and resided also in Indiana, Illinois and Michigan, in which last state he was married to Miss Lorinda Eastlick in 1848. In 1874 he moved his family to this state and settled on a ranch where he remained until called away to his last resting place.
He leaves a widow aged 75 years, two sons and five daughters and several grandchildren. One daughter, the late Mrs. C.H. Clow, passed away March 30, 1888, at the age of 20 years from typhoid fever.
Uncle John Harrison was much esteemed by all who knew him for his worth as a man and his excellence as a citizen.
WILLITS LIBRARY TO BEGIN PHASED-IN REOPENING
After being closed to the public for one year, the Willits Library will begin a phased-in reopening March 29, as long as Mendocino County remains in the Red Tier for Coronavirus. During Phase 1, residents will be allowed to enter the library on a limited basis.
Branch Librarian Nicole Bird said, “We are happy to have people back for our limited services. We really missed seeing the public and we thank everybody for their patience, and hope they will come and see us.”
Bird explained the staff is still working out the details, and exact days and times will be announced soon. However, the plan is to open the library to the public at 25% capacity (approximately 12 people at a time) for Browse and Go, two afternoons a week.
Photocopiers and printers will be available. Patrons can print up to ten pages at no cost, and then print for 10 cents per page. Patrons should bring a flash drive in order to print. Computers and bathrooms will not be available in Phase 1 and the lounge area has been temporarily removed to discourage patrons from lingering. There will not be in person meetings in phase one either. The seed library is also available, just in time for the spring planting season.
To promote COVID safety, the library will have smaller air purifiers throughout, in addition to the air filters in the HVAC system. Staff will also increase cleaning. Additionally, patrons will be asked to use hand sanitizer upon entrance before they browse library materials. Masks must be worn in the library at all time.
Bird said that the re-opening plans are in adherence to guidelines from the Mendocino Department of Public Health and requested that patrons respect the guidelines.
On the three days the library is not open for Browse and Go, library staff will continue to offer the curbside pickup service from 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Patrons can request materials either online or by calling the library and schedule a non-contact pickup time after they have been notified that their materials are ready.
The book and movie drop boxes are now open 24 hours, 7 days a week and will remain the method of returning borrowed materials. Materials are quarantined in the drop boxes for approximately three days before being returned to the shelf. Free WiFi is available from 6 a.m. — 10 p.m. daily which patrons can access from the parking lot.
The Willits Library will continue with its virtual programs. They have continued to post Facebook Live videos and are are currently hosting three different series. Nicole’s Test Kitchen STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) Addition is aimed at children and Nicole’s Test Kitchen Craft Addition is aimed at families or adults. Julie Castillo and Giselle Delotch host ‘Make it, Own it, Work it” which is aimed at teenagers and is DIY.
An interesting upcoming virtual program from Will Minor is a tutorial showing how to grow mushrooms on a log. Castillo is working on a community involved spring awakening mural that patrons can color flower petals to add to the creation.
Bird said the library has been working on more joint projects with the Mendocino County Museum and recently posted a link to the museum’s virtual exhibit Albatross: Life on the Wind and Sea.
Follow the library on Facebook to stay up to date on news and virtual programs. The Willits Library is located at 390 East Commercial Street. Library staff can be reached at (707) 459-5908.
(Jaclyn Luna, Courtesy, the Willits News)
A READER WRITES: Not true about Cape Mendocino, the westernmost point in the contiguous United States is at Cape Alava, south of Cape Flattery in Olympic National Park.
CALTRANS ROADWORK IN ANDERSON VALLEY
Route 128 (40.5/41.3) — AT&T was granted a Caltrans Encroachment Permit for utility work from .33 miles west of Big Oaks Drive to the Yorkville Post Office to begin on Wednesday, March 24. One-way traffic control will be in effect from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Motorists should anticipate five-minute delays.
Route 253 (1.7/2.5) — PG&E has been granted a Caltrans Encroachment Permit for utility work at Singley Cattlepass begining Monday, March 22. One-way traffic control will be in effect from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Motorists should anticipate five-minute delays.
A READER WRITES:
Looks like Angelo's plan to create a department head position for her top gun hit a snag, but that was a quick pivot to say it would be an open recruitment. If they don't change the qualifications and demand real technical skills, however, Angelo will still appoint her loyal deputy. I can tell you that's for sure the plan. Janelle Rau has already cleaned out her desk in the Executive Office and totally moved into the IT department. How do I know? I got it from friends of the family of an IT staffer. When you step on these people's tails they holler like mashed cats.
NO ON CANNABIS EXPANSION MONEY GRAB
Dear Planning Commissioners and Members of the Board of Supervisors,
I have been a rancher in Mendocino County for over sixty years. My wife Susan and I raised our three children in Round Valley, and now my granddaughter teaches school in Round Valley. During these six decades I have worked hard to contribute to the economic prosperity and environmental protection of this Valley and this County. I am sickened by what cannabis is doing to both.
I am well acquainted with how a Board of Supervisors can be lured by promises of riches from outside investors and large scale development. I was here when politicians from southern California promised lakeside development around the largest reservoir in the State; how Mendocino County could be part of a state-wide water project that would bring money, development and recognition to these quiet, rural hills and valleys. The Supervisors sitting in Ukiah at the time welcomed the attention and the prospect of money, jobs, and development. The Board was blind to the devastating community and environmental consequences, and ultimately the high costs of forcing the Eel River to flow to the south that would fall on the local people of the County. The citizens of Round Valley and the County fought back and ultimately convinced the Governor, Ronald Reagan, to cancel the project.
Fast on the heals of stopping the Dos Rios dam project came the proposal to build a vacation community of 30,000 residents in the hills surrounding Round Valley to the south. The “MY Ranch” developers came from outside the County with briefcases full of fancy brochures and promises of a booming economy based on thousands of vacationers driving in and out of Round Valley. Once again the Board of Supervisors was drawn by the lure of outside money shoring up the County’s economy, but were blind to the environmental constraints and costs of that kind of development in the County. Where would the water come from? Who would maintain the roads, provide the services, haul away the trash, police this new city of part-timers? Once again the people of Mendocino County wrested the decision from a shortsighted Board. “My Ranch” was soundly defeated in nearly every precinct in the County in a county-wide referendum.
I could point to similar examples in the timber industry in which small local logging companies succumbed to the lure of big outside corporations and sold their lands to the G-P’s and L-P’s of the timber world. Once in control these outside corporations sucked the timber out of the County at an unsustainable rate, leaving the County with a generational gap in inventory and in good paying local jobs. The story is always the same — the lure of riches today and a willing blindness to the costs of tomorrow.
The issue before the Commission today is the same grab for money. This Board appears willing to trade the County’s good looks and figure, her water and open space, her quiet neighborly communities for a booming cannabis marketplace, while the gold rush lasts, and turn a blind eye to the consequences.
In 2016, the voters of the County wisely and soundly said NO to Measure AF, the ballot measure that would have done just what this new ordinance is proposing — open almost every area of the County to cannabis cultivation and its associated development, and let the State determine how or even whether to limit the size of operations. Like “My Ranch,” this ballot Measure went down to defeat in every supervisorial district.
In 2017, the Board, with citizen input, crafted a Cannabis ordinance that didn’t allow expansion into the County’s remote, water scarce rangelands, capped cultivation area size at 1/4 acre, and gave existing local growers a chance to get permitted first before opening the door to new growers. This was in keeping with this new relationship between the residents of our rural, close-knit communities and an emerging legal cannabis industry. This ordinance kept it local, small, and manageable.
Tragically, our CEO and Planning and Building Department staff saw things differently. They envisioned large new revenues from multimillion dollar companies coming into the County, and didn’t want to bother with the small-scale local growers. So, staff bluffed its way through meeting after meeting with a confused and inexperienced Board. In the manufactured chaos of lost applications, misrepresented rules and regulations, abandoned site inspections; faux fights with state agencies; legitimate applicants waiting for months, even years for direction from the staff, and near total failure to enforce either state or local regulations, some Board members, enabled by this manipulating staff, have now been drawn by the lure of well financed cannabis companies, owned and/or financed by outside investors, as a way to fill County coffers. And the Board is not just turning a blind eye to the long term consequences. They are blindly rushing headlong into approving this massive expansion of cannabis throughout the County using a temporary regulatory loophole that allows them to evade looking at the environmental consequences.
I urge you, as Planning Commissioners to tell the Board to table this ill-conceived proposed new ordinance and cease this tired grasping for easy money at the expense of the wishes of the majority of the citizens, the protection of the County’s open space and natural riches, and the culture of our integrated self reliant rural communities. I urge you to retain and enforce the existing ordinance. Bring integrity, trust, and care back to our communities.
As a young man raising my family in Covelo, agriculture meant animal husbandry, small scale agriculture, hands-on family enterprises. The kids were in 4-H, looked forward to the County Fairs, learned self-reliance and the importance of giving back to their community. Many small cannabis growers share these values. That’s why several of them risked exposure and considerable expense to apply for a County permit and state license. The people of Mendocino County are prepared to embrace this vision. It is your job as Commissioners to assure the peace and welfare of the citizens through appropriate zoning, and the Board’s job as representatives of the citizens, to fulfill this vision. It is not your job to fix the staff’s, or a cabal of a few supervisors’ short sighted economic schemes masquerading as “a new and improved cannabis ordinance.”
Buck Mountain Ranch, Covelo
HOW DOES a guy “known to the FBI” buy a military combat rifle? What's the point of keeping track of lunatics if you're not checking them for weapons? Of course he opened fire on the Colorado supermarket a week after he bought the military-quality assault rifle so maybe the feds weren't up on him. But still… Of course every loon in the country is already locked and loaded so the predictable weeping and lamentations outta the libs is simply part of the mass murder ritual we’ve become accustomed to. Biden would never dare, but he could declare a national emergency and ban assault rifles and all their related gear.
ANOTHER 3AM aural assault by frost fans this morning (Wed) depending on where you live in the spacious Anderson Valley, but console yourselves by remembering this: Your sleep, your lives are less important, far less than important, than wine grapes. You are sacrificing your sleep, your peace of mind, your property values, for this essential product!
ALL THAT EQUIPMENT and noise therefrom on the old Masonite Road outta Navarro is Family Tree doing PG&E’s tree trimming. Bless them for this work in a year of plague, drought, fires and, this morning, a nice jolt of an earthquake whose epicenter was somewhere between Montgomery Woods and Comptche.
I THINK McCOWEN — former supervisor John McCowen — has been shabbily treated by his former colleagues. Twelve years of service and not even a single Whereas as he retires? Fault him however you like but there was never any doubt that McCowen was always committed, sometimes in his own mind, to what he saw as the best interests of Mendocino County. To first humiliate the guy with that cockamamie public declaration that he was going to be sued in small claims court for public equipment worth about ten bucks re-sale was CEO Angelo again taking her personal revenge on a guy she came to dislike, and then the supervisors signed off on her personal pique by booting McCowen out the door like a stray dog. Every other retiring supervisor, among them certifiable nut cases and petty thieves, got at least a dozen or so Whereas’s. All McCowen got was a nice pat on the head from Mike McGuire which is like a double boot in the ass as you’re kicked out the door.
IF YOU MISSED IT, a federal judge overseeing Pacific Gas & Electric's criminal probation — having been found guilty of criminal negligence — said Tuesday that he may order the stumbling monopoly to turn off the juice in rural areas much more often during fire season. Which means us here in Mendo among other affected rural counties. U.S. District Judge William Alsup is overseeing PG&E’s safety precautions as part of the utility’s criminal probation after its natural gas lines blew up a San Bruno neighborhood in 2010. “My view is quite clear: We should save lives,” Alsup said. “We don’t have the luxury to wait around. I am not open to the idea that we would kick the can down the road and study the problem to death.” The California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates PG&E, is opposing the additional power shut-offs, which it contends would impose undue hardship on about 900,000 people who live in the mostly rural counties of Trinity, Placer, Shasta, Tehama, Madera and Mendocino.
GONE but not forgotten. That giant wreck of an RV at the intersection of 128 and 253 has been hauled outta here.
It’s removal only took a month, which is pretty darn speedy by Mendo standards. Wrecked vehicles have been known to rest up on the hill for months where local drunks reduced them to piles of rusted parts and broken glass, mute symbols of the times.
MURDER ON ASYLUM ROAD, a reaction
I found the story “Murder on Asylum Road” by Zack Anderson, Research by Deborah Silva, AVA March 10, 2021 interesting and want to contribute my thought on what the “physical condition” might have been that prevented the Knaesche marriage from being consummated.
I was raped by my father when I was seven. As a result I scarred so badly I could not have sexual intercourse without “a corrective operation.” I had this operation a month before I married two weeks after graduating from high school. The doctor told me that this “condition” for women was not uncommon. He told me of a husband who brutally raped his wife after two years. She barely survived this rape.
So of course I’m wondering if that was the “physical condition” that Frieda Beckly suffered. Sexual abuse is hardly a rare crime. Do you remember when a vagina was not difficult to penetrate was proof that she was not a virgin? That if she bled it was proof that she was a virgin?
I get the AVA from City Lights just down the street. I enjoy it very much, am grateful for it for keeping me up!
San Francisco (formerly Mendocino)
From My Father’s Love, Vol 1, Ch 32:
I was having nightmares now of not being able to have sexual intercourse. In these dreams, for all my effort and desire I could not open myself, or be opened. It was impossible to penetrate me, there was no opening there. Moments of panic, pure dread in day consciousness too. How will I ever be able to do that? I so prided myself on my will power in staying a virgin through all the necking but I was beginning to know a secret part of me was grateful for the rules. There was the sense of staving off an inevitable disaster.
A month before the wedding I arranged to have the pre-marital examination required by the State of California. I’d also obtain birth control. I'd just turned eighteen, Mama was still in the sanitarium. I drove down to a clinic in El Cajon rather than have Dr. deCock or Dr. Pilgrim do it. Though the new pill was all the rage I chose to be fitted for a diaphragm.
“Have you ever tried to have sexual intercourse?” the doctor asked, a dark dignified young man looking up from between my spread-opened, sheet-draped legs.
I didn't know how to answer. What was he seeing? Maybe it was important to what he was seeing that I tell the truth. But what was the truth? Maybe he could tell if I lied. May be my health, my life, my fiancé, my marriage, my future kids were at stake. I was proud of my sexuality. I was one of the two percent who orgasmed. I sort of stammered around.
“Well, it's a good thing, because only a brute could penetrate you,” he said. “You have the thickest hymen I've ever seen. You will need surgery to cut it.”
In the recurring nightmare my body was sealed shut, there was no opening but a wall of flesh there like a man. No man could penetrate that. Never with such a delicate thing as a penis. I’d never examined myself, never put my fingers there, nowhere near my vagina. Tampons were un-thinkable. Despite my mother's reminders and demonstrations, I never even washed myself there. I let the nightly bath water do that. I was in my mid-thirties before I masturbated, other than in sleep. I didn't touch myself so as not to remember what happened to me there.
“You’re lucky to have found this out before the wedding.” He told of women with hymens like mine married years, their husbands unable to penetrate them. He told of a woman who was brutally raped by her husband after two years. And of another, where penetration took two years too, but by then the marriage was over.
He would give me sodium pentothal, also known as “the truth serum,” to perform the surgery that would enable me to have sexual intercourse.
I headed straight for the drive-in, thirty miles back up the mountain. See Daddy, you misjudged your girl. See, I was telling the truth, I am a virgin. The truth will out. I walked into Edens, a busy Friday afternoon in May. My father was standing over the hot dog machine, near the telephone.
“I have to have surgery to have my hymen cut. It's too thick for me to have sexual intercourse. I have to have the money,” the last thing he'll ever have to pay for me. I was trying to be funny. He'd be pleased to learn that his daughter was still, after all, a virgin. I was on the left side of him, a little forward of him, his big head, and I was telling him.
But the look on my father's face was so strange, his face over the steaming oven, something incredulous, something not discernible. The way he jerked to me. Startled.
He nodded. He'd inform the insurance company.
Aunt Alice drove me to the clinic. I was curious about the truth serum. What is the truth? The doctor stood again between my legs, injecting the needle. Dear Jesus may the truth come out. I was being cut open. I was losing my virginity to a knife.
I woke in a small narrow room with a red Navajo blanket covering me, crying. I woke curled around myself, semi-fetal, crying uncontrollably, Mama, Mama. Tears were spilling out. The blanket seemed mysteriously incongruous in the sterile all-white room. It made me cry harder, I was so grateful for it. My aunt came in but even then, so unlike me, I couldn't stop crying.
“There, there, honey, it'll be okay.”
I remember the car ride back up the mountains to Ramona, my head against the sill, my aunt driving. Overwhelming sorrow across the land, this is the truth, the Earth is crying. Tears, endless tears.
I returned to the clinic three more times to be stretched. Even after surgery I was too tight for intercourse. This stretching was excruciatingly painful. I didn't know what he was doing, how he was stretching me, my feet in the stirrups, the white sheet between us, his hands and cold metal instruments inside me, but I've never forgotten the nature of the pain. A deep aching, wrenching waves like vomiting, not like the sharp penetration of a knife, or other piercing cut. I felt it again when Sergei first entered me, and again and again the first weeks of our intercourse. It hurt like an earthquake hurts the earth.
Why did I have to be stretched if my hymen was cut?
At the last stretching he fitted me to a diaphragm, size 85m, the second largest size, the size I would always use. My cervix is large, my entrance small? It was all so confusing. And though the tears had quit falling out of me, so inexplicably sad.
Until my father confessed that he raped me I marveled that I must have grown my hymen so I could not be penetrated. Between my mother's lectures on staying a virgin, my father's regular messing with me, and the powerful orgasmic sex life I'd had since thirteen I figured I must have toughened my hymen by will power. What exactly did the doctor cut? Could he tell I’d been raped? In 1997 a friend suggested it was scar tissue. (A friend had to suggest it, I couldn’t think it, even then.) What is the nature of scar tissue in the vagina? What happens to the vagina of a raped seven year old? In what condition is it eleven years later? Is this why those women the doctor told me of couldn’t have intercourse? I remember the rape now (on the conscious level, not just the dream one; I remembered the instant my father confessed to me). I never forgot the bleeding that went on for three days.
I tried to research the hymen then, but learned very little. I petitioned a woman gynecologist who was also a lesbian-feminist poet acquaintance. She said she couldn't help me, she knew nothing. No one seemed to know anything about the hymen beyond the standard myths. In the 1994 Hite Report on the Family, Growing Up Under Patriarchy, Shere Hite reported:
Research for this study demonstrates quite surprisingly that most girls do not experience pain or bleeding on first coitus; the percentage of those who do is quite low. In fact, even more surprisingly, it may not be anatomically ‘normal’ for girls to have a painful-to-break ‘hymen’. Those who are ‘supposed’ to know—gynaecologists or pediatricians—in fact have not particular expertise in this, since (1) gynaecologists usually do not see very young girls, and (2) pediatricians usually don't do in-depth or detailed vaginal examinations. Therefore, is the assumption that ‘normal girls’ have hymens, simply based on hearsay, or ‘learned’ in medical textbooks? On what body of knowledge and investigation, if any, are these texts based?
Perhaps in part because of Hite’s Report, there is now nascent research by the medical profession. “Congenital frequency of imperforate hymen is low, estimated to be approximately 0.1% in female population.” “An imperforate hymen can be acquired from sexual abuse as documented by Berkowitz et al.” “An imperforate hymen most likely is caused by scar tissue from sexual abuse.”
There's the moment with my father in Edens. It's also taken me a lifetime to understand it, to live in its terrible meanings. I think I am proving at long last that I'm a virgin, about which he has regularly accused me of lying. I don't dream that he's trying to figure this. I don't dream his fear that the truth is out. Nor do I nightmare that my need for this surgery will be used as evidence against me to my mother that I lied in the sixth grade about his sex with me, that it will be evidence she will covet, use, and mutely weave against me all the rest of her life. But he knows the truth, that's why the startled look on his face—he stole my virginity. And I know the truth, that's why the moment has lived in my nightmares.
(My new book of poetry, Naked to the Earth, 348 pages, cloth, $24.95, is now available from Wild Ocean Press, www.wildoceanpress.com. Also available: My Beard, Memoir Stories (Spuyten Duvyil, 2018) at amazon.com. sharondoubiago.com)
MILL BEND COMMUNITY FORUM APRIL 11, 2021
The Redwood Coast Land Conservancy (RCLC) invites all interested parties to attend the Mill Bend Community Forum, a free on-line, interactive presentation on April 11, from 3:00 to 5:00pm via zoom. Forum participants will learn about the progress made since the previous virtual forum in August 2020 and will hear about the ongoing planning for environmental conservation and recreational access of this newly acquired coastal property. The event will include live polling to provide feedback that will help RCLC formulate an Integrated Conservation Plan which will guide the focus of projects for Mill Bend over the coming decades. The 113 acre Mill Bend site is located at the mouth of the Gualala River and upland areas adjacent to the Gualala Art Center. For more information or to register for the event, go the RCLC website https://www.rclc.org/events/events-and-calendar/.
For further information Contact Dave Shpak, Mill Bend Project Manager (530) 902-1781
THP ALERT! ENCHANTED MEADOW, #1
Mendocino Redwood Company, primary deforester of the Albion River watershed has submitted a 419 acre timber harvest plan to CAL FIRE for approval.
This THP will destroy the few remaining standing pockets of mature second growth forests in the Albion.
Some of the trees were babies during the first cut and were left standing, and are now in a healthy recovery state, some close to 200 years and older.
Today, to find an old growth Redwood tree in the forest is a rarity and our mature second growth Redwoods are now by default the new elders of the forest.
It's very important for all life on our planet to have second generation forests mature and function as designed, to benefit our atmosphere.
This thp, 1-21-00040-MEN, surrounds two of our nature sanctuaries and uses our shared property line with MRC as the THP boundary.
Please check out the THP on line today at caltreesplans.resources.ca.gov/caltrees/
Get to thinking about writing a public comment letter...
More info to follow.
BIG RIVER TRAIL-A-THON IN JACKSON STATE FOREST
Announcing the first Big River Trail-a-Thon fundraiser in May!
Bike - swim - hike - crawl - run! Challenge yourself and set a big fitness goal - and while you're at it, raise money for the preservation of 20,000 acres of beautiful Redwood Forest. Head over to www.bigrivertrailathon.com to sign up!
Event time: The entire month of May 2021
Location: The Mendocino Coast, or wherever you call home.
How it works: Sign up on the website.
1. Create your Challenge <https://bigrivertrailathon.square.site/the-challenge>.
2. Get pledges from friends and family.
3. Complete your activity sometime during May.
4. Have fun and raise some money for a good cause.
5. Come back to this site and donate your earnings by navigating to the Pledges/Donations <https://bigrivertrailathon.square.site/pledge> page.
Still have questions? Check out the FAQs Page. <https://bigrivertrailathon.square.site/faqs>
Mendocino-themed prizes <https://bigrivertrailathon.square.site/#gIefET> will be awarded to the top 10 or more fundraisers, depending on how much support we get from local businesses.
T-shirts will be awarded to all participants that raise $100+
See you out on the trails!
The Mendocino Trail Stewards
CATCH OF THE DAY, March 24, 2021
CARMELO DELGADO, Covelo. Probation revocation.
AUGUSTINE FREASE, Hopland. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, community supervision violation, county parole violation.
OMERO LOPEZ, Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs.
REBECCA RODRIGUEZ, Willits. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
TRAVELS IN MEXICO
by Paul Theroux
Other migrants with money often had help from cartels or from the facilitators known as coyotes. In a seven month period, at the time I was walking by the fence, 663 Chinese nationals had been arrested trying to cross from Tijuana, a number of them snared at the end of a long tunnel under the fence. It was estimated that they had paid anywhere from $50,000-$70,000 apiece to be shepherded into the United States. China is now one of the world’s leading sources of illegal migrants, along with opportunists and economic migrants from the Middle East and South Asia.
Not long after I was in that sector of the border, a California congressman visited the US federal prison in Victorville expecting to find persecuted Central Americans seeking asylum. He was startled to find that out of 680 detainees under lock and key, 380 were Indian nationals who had flown from India to Mexico City where they paid thousands of dollars to coyotes to be smuggled into the United States. 20% of the detainees at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility in the Adelanto detention center near Victorville were Indian nationals. In the first half of 2018 the Los Angeles Times reported on October 13, 2018 that more than 4,000 Indian nationals had been caught crossing the US border illegally. After being caught they claimed they were seeking political asylum (from the country known as “the world's biggest democracy”). Around the same time 671 Bangladeshis were arrested crossing the border near Laredo, Texas — helped across the river (so they claimed) by members of the Zetas cartel to whom they paid upward of $27,000 apiece.
These non-Mexicans are the SIAs — Special Interest Aliens who, along with Chinese, included Iraqis, Afghans, Pakistanis, Syrians, and Africans (predominantly Nigerians). Most were aided by coyotes who worked for cartels. But some arrived by more ingenious strategies — on jet skis glissading through the surf, and a dozen at a time in panga boats (a simple, seaworthy design with an upswept bow, powered by an outboard motor, and favored by Third World fishermen, Somali pirates, and human traffickers). Such boats were routinely seized by the California Border Patrol as they deposited migrants sprinting across Imperial Beach.
REMEMBERING DAVE BOLLINGER
My name is Walter ‘Kris’ Miller. I am serving a life sentence and currently housed at Lancaster State Prison in Los Angeles County, California. I am a Level 4 maximum-security inmate. It is a very cold and harsh environment. Men are men and the weak are preyed upon.
I say all that to say this. I cried the other day in a world where you just don't cry and if you do you don't let anyone see you.
I've lost many friends over the last eight years but Dave Bollinger passed away from a disease that just wouldn’t let go of him: Heroin. Dave has been a friend of mine for over 20 years. He has stuck with me through all the BS on the streets and also on prison yards. He was a solid friend, a good man and a voice of reason. He lost his mom. She was the bartender at the Water Trough for as long as I can remember. When he lost her he lost part of himself. They are together again and they are sorely missed.
I love you brother. Your passing has reminded me that I am human.
Rest in peace, brother.
Kris ‘Ludicrous’ Miller
THE LEGEND OF ELGIN BAYLOR
by Dave Zirin
A true icon left us this week. Basketball legend Elgin Baylor passed away at age 86, and perhaps the living connection to the origins of the modern game has been cruelly severed.
Baylor’s playing career speaks for itself. “The Rabbit,” as he was known, is recognized as the greatest athlete to ever come out of Washington, D.C., a product of Phelps Vocational and then Spingarn High School. This was a time of racial segregation in the D.C. school system, and Baylor’s genius with the basketball was so undeniable that in 1954, he was the first Black player to ever be named to the Washington All-Metropolitan first-team.
In high school, at the University in Seattle, and in a professional career of near-unparalleled dominance, Baylor put up numbers more at home in a video game than a box score. He averaged 27 points per game in his NBA career, third-highest in history. One year, he averaged 38 points. In another, 20 rebounds. But his legacy goes beyond statistics. Baylor changed the way the game was played. Today, we take for granted the image of an NBA wing playing above the rim, gliding effortlessly to the hoop, hanging in the air to create space in an act that takes sports into the realm of art. That’s the legacy of Baylor, who at just 6’5? changed the game like few others. In the moves of everyone from Dr. J to Michael Jordan to LeBron James, you can witness the faded imprint of Elgin Baylor. Or as longtime Washington Post columnist Thomas Boswell wrote succinctly, Baylor “plays every night in every gym in the world.”
Baylor’s legacy goes well beyond the basketball court. He changed history in 1959 when as a mere rookie he went on a one-man strike, refusing to play in a neutral-site game for the Lakers in segregated Charleston, W.Va., when he learned that he and his Black teammates could not stay at the all-white hotel with the rest of the team. “I love basketball. I like playing in the league very much,” he said, “but not at the expense of my dignity.” There are no words for the firestorm this caused. His Lakers boss, Bob Short, and the NBA commissioner at the time, Maurice Podoloff, were aghast. The city of Charleston was set to lose a ton of money by not having the star rookie of basketball play there. Eventually, his two Black teammates took the court, but Baylor would not be moved. As he said to his white teammate “Hot Rod” Hundley, who was from Charleston, “Rod, I’m a human being, I’m not an animal put in a cage and let out for the show.” Baylor’s stance may have led to a great deal of criticism, but that didn’t come from all corners. The Black press offered unequivocal support.
As Professor Lou Moore wrote,
“….because Baylor fought back, the Black press hailed him as a civil rights hero. Black sportswriters understood the implications of Baylor’s move. For the first time since the mass Civil Rights Movement in the South, a star Black athlete in the prime of his career joined the fight…. The Black press was waiting for an athlete like Baylor to take a stand. In short, the Black press believed they had finally found their next Jackie Robinson. For them, Robinson represented the model for Black athletes; a fighter on and off the field who never backed down to Jim Crow. And with Baylor in the prime of his career, the Black press hoped that this activism would be the new model for Black athletes. In many ways, Baylor’s boycott was the bolt other Black athletes needed to get involved. The next decade would see a number of boycotts, or proposed boycotts, at the college and pro levels from Black athletes. Like Baylor before them, all of these athletes were willing to risk their careers to improve society.”
Baylor’s stance, the financial muscle it demonstrated, and the media support he received, led Podoloff—who overcame his initial shock to support Baylor—and the NBA in quick order to announce that they would no longer schedule games in places that held segregated accommodations. It was the first time the league had ever stepped out politically to say that it needed to be more than a profit-machine and to actually stand with the Black players who were starting to be central to the league’s popularity. Last year, when the NBA had Black Lives Matter imprinted onto the court, or when LeBron James said that he refused to shut up and dribble, that traces back directly to the legacy of Baylor. When the Milwaukee Bucks went on strike and withdrew their labor after the police shooting of Jacob Blake, that also traces directly back to Baylor.
It’s remarkable to me that an athlete who was so ahead of his time, on the court and off, is as forgotten as Baylor. One reason was that he was humble to a fault. As his old friend Jerry West said, “He never, never called attention to himself. He was just infectious, quiet and stately off the court.”
If nothing else, his death should be a reminder that he belongs in the firmament of the all-time icons, both on and off the court. In a world bereft of heroes, Elgin Baylor built a pedestal of solid granite, and a legacy that stands as an example for all of us, whether or not we’ve ever picked up a basketball.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
My dad has always been a go against the grain kind of guy way ahead in not accepting group think.
He is turning 73 next month and he rolled up his sleeve.
Twenty years with his progressive girlfriend has taken a toll on his freedom of expression as well as his ability to see through groupthink.
I asked him why he was worried about covid since he is in exceptional physical shape, rarely ever gets sick and lives in the hinterlands of Ventura county. He actually could not or would not answer me.
I let it go with a your body your decision. I just hope you're around to surf Malibu on your 100 birthday like we promised we would.
Until he took that Job I was 100% sure he would be there for me not so much.
He still works way too hard. I caught him on a ladder twenty feet off the ground wielding a chainsaw to cut down a tree that was about to fall on his horse corral. I asked him why he was doing that when he could higher a person to assume the risk.
He had the ladder tied to the tree as well as the chainsaw but not himself.
I just shook my head and said, Dad you're 70; a fall from that height and a busted hip equals you dead in a couple of months.
He did not get it still.
Several months later we met at Malibu for a surf and as he was putting his board on his car he used the tire to climb up and I said get a step ladder before you fall and hurt yourself he all but told me to mind my own business this is how he has always done it.
Flash forward six months he fell off the car and damn near ripped his pinky off. Being the good son I try to be I refrained from saying I told you so. Instead he admitted I was right.
A sad day when a man must admit he is in decline.
US SINKS TO NEW LOW IN RANKINGS OF WORLD'S DEMOCRACIES
The US has fallen to a new low in a global ranking of political rights and civil liberties, a drop fueled by unequal treatment of minority groups, damaging influence of money in politics, and increased polarization, according to a new report by Freedom House, a democracy watchdog group.
ON FEDERAL DEATH ROW, Inmates Talk About Biden, Executions
by Michael Tarm
On federal death row, prisoners fling notes on a string under each other’s cell doors and converse through interconnected air ducts. A top issue these days: whether President Joe Biden will halt executions, several told The Associated Press.
Biden hasn’t spoken publicly about capital punishment since taking office four days after the Trump administration executed the last of 13 inmates at the Terre Haute, Indiana, penitentiary where all federal death row inmates are held. The six-month run of executions cut their unit from around 63 to 50. Biden's campaign website said he'd work to end federal executions but he's never specified how.
Four inmates exchanged emails with the AP through a prison-monitored system they access during the two hours a day they are let out of their 12-by-7-foot, single-inmate cells. Biden's silence has them on edge, wondering whether political calculations will lead him to back off far-reaching action, like commuting their sentences to life in prison and endorsing legislation striking capital punishment from U.S. statutes.
“There’s not a day that goes by that we’re not scanning the news for hints of when or if the Biden administration will take meaningful action to implement his promises,” said 36-year-old Rejon Taylor, sentenced to death in 2008 for killing an Atlanta restaurant owner.
Everyone on federal death row was convicted of killing someone, their victims often suffering brutal, painful deaths. The dead included children, bank workers and prison guards. One inmate, white supremacist Dylann Roof, killed nine Black members of a South Carolina church during a Bible study in 2015. Many Americans believe death is the only salve for such crimes.
Views of capital punishment, though, are shifting. One recent report found people of color are overrepresented on death rows nationwide. Some 40% of federal death row inmates are Black, compared with about 13% of the U.S. population. With growing scrutiny of who gets sentenced to die and why, support for the death penalty has waned, and fewer executions are done overall. Virginia lawmakers recently voted to abolish it.
The prisoners expressed relief at Donald Trump's departure from the White House after he presided over more federal executions than any other president in 130 years. Gone is the ever-present fear that guards would appear at their cell door to say the warden needed to speak to them — dreaded words that meant your execution had been scheduled.
They described death row as a close-knit community where bonds are forged. All said they were still reeling from seeing friends escorted away for execution by lethal injection at a garage-size building nearby.
“When it's quiet here, which it often is, you’ll hear someone say, ‘Damn, I can’t believe they’re gone!’ We all know what they are referencing,” said Daniel Troya, sentenced in 2009 for participating in drug-related killings of a Florida man, his wife and their two children.
The federal executions during the coronavirus pandemic were likely superspreader events.
In December, 70% of the death row inmates had COVID-19, some possibly infected via air ducts through which they communicate.
The AP attended all 13 federal executions.
Five of the first six inmates executed were white. Six of the last seven were Black, including Dustin Higgs, the final inmate put to death, on Jan. 16 for ordering the killing of three Maryland women.
Memories of speaking to Higgs just before his execution still pain Sherman Fields, who is on death row but has a resentencing for convictions in the killing of his girlfriend after escaping from a jail in Waco, Texas.
“He kept saying he’s innocent and he didn’t want to die,” Fields, 46, said. “He’s my friend. It was very hard.”
While there were rumors Biden would take action on the death penalty in his first days as president, there have been no announcements. As he grapples with issues like the coronavirus and the economy, capital punishment appears to be on a back burner. Meanwhile, federal prosecutors are still saying they'll pursue death sentences.
The easier step politically for Biden would be to simply instruct his Justice Department not to carry out any executions during his presidency. That would spare inmates’ lives for at least four years but would leave the door open for a future president to resume them.
The inmates first learned federal executions would restart after 17 years in 2019 when the first inmates were put on execution lists. More were added throughout 2020.
Through last year, inmates would flinch whenever they heard the jangle of thick key rings as a larger-than-normal contingent of guards entered their floor. That sound meant guards would soon stop at an inmate's door and that he'd soon be in the warden’s office to be handed his death warrant.
When a frantic Keith Nelson, convicted of raping and killing a Kansas girl, kept saying a year ago he was sure he'd be selected next to die, one inmate yelled at him to “shut up,” that he was unnerving everyone else, Troya recalled. Nelson was executed on Aug. 28.
Emotions ran high as execution days approached. As guards led condemned men away, other inmates shouted, “Come on! Fight ‘em!” Troya said. None appeared to resist.
Inmates can't access the regular internet but could follow news of last-minute appeals on TVs in their cells. When broadcasts confirmed an execution had been carried out, Taylor said, a hush fell on death row, followed by a chorus of curses.
Inmates know that Biden, while a senator, played a key role in passing a 1994 crime bill that increased federal crimes for which someone could be put to death.
“I don’t trust Biden,” Troya said. “He set the rules to get us all here in the first place.”
Several inmates said Brandon Bernard's death was especially hard to process. They described him as introspective and kind. Bernard, convicted of participating in the Texas carjacking, robbery and killing of an Iowa couple, also organized a death-row crocheting group that shared patterns and knitting tips.
“The gentlest guy on federal death row,” Fields said.
Bernard's case drew the attention of reality TV star Kim Kardashian and other celebrities, who pleaded on Twitter for Trump to commute his sentence.
His lawyers said Bernard, 18 at the time and the lowest-ranking member of a street gang, was pressured to light a car on fire with Todd and Stacie Bagley’s bodies inside. They said he believed the Bagleys were already dead after a gang leader shot them in the head.
He and co-defendant Christopher Vialva, both of whom were Black, were convicted by a nearly all-white Texas jury in 2000.
Strapped to a cross-shaped gurney on Dec. 10, Bernard addressed the couple's relatives in an adjoining death-chamber witness room, repeatedly apologizing and telling them he hoped his death would bring them closure.
After his execution, Todd Bagley's mother called the killings an “act of unnecessary evil.” She said the executions of Bernard and of Vialva months earlier did bring closure. But she also expressed gratitude to both for apologizing. Beginning to cry, she told reporters: “I can very much say — I forgive them.”
Troya said he thinks often about Bernard, Vialva and Higgs, whom he considered close friends. All three, he said, had long since transformed themselves into better people and were mentoring other inmates.
“They killed future prison role models,” he said. “So much potential, lost for nothing.”
POINT REYES NATIONAL SOMETHING-OR-OTHER
by Ken Bouley
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.”
What should we call the diverse, wild, inspiring but scarred peninsula sliding very slowly past us, jurisdictionally in West Marin County, California, but geologically across the San Andreas Fault, on the Pacific Plate, going steadily its own way, namely Northwest? Should we call it Point Reyes National Park or Point Reyes National Seashore?
Technically, the latter is correct. And it really shouldn’t matter. But it seems to matter a lot to some people, and understanding why tells a story.
First, in case you don’t know, Point Reyes National Seashore (PRNS) is an area of about 71,000 acres whose beauty, richness, and diversity are difficult to overstate. The only National Seashore on the West Coast, surrounded by the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, it contains a genuinely unique roster of habitats: ancient conifer and mixed forests, coastal prairie, wind-swept chapparal, verdant canyons, riparian corridors, sandy and rocky beaches, fresh and saltwater estuaries, marshes, mudflats, intertidal zones, dunes, and lagoons. Flora includes 750 species, including ~20% of all California natives. Unsurprisingly, these habitats support veritable arks of wildlife: mountain lions, coyotes, bobcats, badgers, mountain beaver, two species of weasel, river and sea otters, fox, deer, elk and others. The Park is along the Pacific Flyway and almost half of all North American Bird species, nearly 500 in all, are recorded there. There are seven species of bat. On the coastline and offshore are seals, including elephant seals, sea lions, eight types of dolphin and two kinds of porpoise, 18 species of whale, seven species of shark including the greatest concentration of great whites anywhere. The preceding list of lists is incomplete. There are over 50 species registered as threatened, rare, or endangered at the state or federal level.
I visit the park often and rarely does one leave without witnessing something wonderful and wild. Ever see a badger stare down two coyotes over a recently caught gopher? Or a Belted Kingfisher splash down in a lagoon to avoid a pursuing Peregrine Falcon? Or a Great Horned Owl scatter a covey of California Quail like confetti into the beach lupine? Or a family of river otters swim out of one creek, frolic up-beach in the surf, and then waddle up the dunes again and into the next creek, as if on a schedule? Or an American Bittern drowning a vole and shaking it to make sure? Or a bobcat and a coyote sitting a few feet from each other with no apparent tension? I have.
And all this is without an entrance fee, just an hour or so from San Francisco and Oakland, even accessible via public transportation, making such experiences reachable to many who don’t or can’t travel to places like Yosemite or Yellowstone.
Second, for your information, the Seashore is currently and seemingly continually enmeshed in controversy. The briefest of timelines is given to provide context to what follows:
Ranching has existed on the peninsula since the mid-1800s. Previously, the land was occupied by the Coast Miwok people for thousands of years. The Park was formed on paper in 1962. Over the subsequent few years, the government purchased land from the ranchers to assemble the Park, extending them Reservations of Use and Occupancy (ROU) — effectively the right to stay on and work the land for a specified duration. In 1978, the Park’s charter was amended to allow the National Park Service (NPS) to extend leases for continued ranch use, regardless of the status of the original ROUs. Depending on whom you listen to, ranching was meant to be part of the Park in perpetuity, or the ROUs were transitional, sweetening the purchase agreements but known to be temporary.
Again, depending on whom you listen to, the ranches in Point Reyes are either laudable stewards of the land, or lamentable sources of greenhouse gases, water contamination, invasive species, erosion, and habitat loss (or, of course, somewhere in between, but views are polarized.)
Also in 1978, a small herd of tule elk, a California endemic species once very near extinction, was brought to Point Reyes to establish a preserve inside the Park on Tomales Point, behind an eight-foot fence stretching from the Pacific to Tomales Bay. Two free-ranging herds have since been established outside of the fenced reserve, in the southern part of the Park. PRNS is the only National Park with tule elk. Currently there are approximately 600-700 elk in total in PRNS and about 5,500 cows. During the drought of 2013-2015, several hundred elk died behind the fence in the preserve, whereas the free ranging herds grew over this time.
The NPS was sued in February of 2016, and in the settlement was compelled to produce an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and update its management plan for ranching inside the Seashore. The draft plan and EIS were released in August 2019, public comment collected, and a final EIS published in September 2020. The EIS includes six management options, including Alternative B which extends 20-year leases to the ranches and expands and diversifies their permitted commercial activities, and Alternative F which phases out all ranches and dairies over five years. Alternative B is identified as the “preferred” alternative by NPS and is favored by the ranching community, whereas Alternative F is supported by various citizen and environmental groups. The final decision is imminent and might beget more lawsuits.
The reader is now more or less caught up on what’s going on and what’s at stake. Now here is the latest twist:
On February 9, 2021, the Seashore distributed an email entitled “Corrections to Media Coverage on the General Management Plan Amendment,” in which they explained “the National Park Service would like to make sure you have the most factual information available.” The email enumerated eight corrections, all aimed at Peter Byrne’s article, Apocalypse Cow: The Future of Life at Point Reyes National Park published in the Pacific Sun on December 9, 2020.
Byrne’s article is very much worth reading and is highly critical of the NPS’ preferred plan, which will expand and entrench commercial livestock operations in the Seashore, despite the documented environmental damage done by the ranches and dairies (think methane, E. coli, soil erosion, invasive species, habitat degradation, etc.) The plan is wildly unpopular with the public, because, among other things, it provides for the immediate killing of dozens of native tule elk and schedules their ongoing culling, on behalf of the ranchers in the park, who see the elk as competition for pasture.
Byrne and the Park independently confirm that the Park communicated a version of its putative corrections to Pacific Sun before publication, and that its editors replied indicating the story was factually correct and offered to meet with the Park and provide a detailed response. The Park did not reply to the offer, nor did its public allegation of errors acknowledge that the offer had been made.
As for the nature of the corrections, I brought significant bias as a reader, but they seemed to me obtuse, as when the Park refutes Byrne’s claim that the ranchers agreed to leave after 25 years by citing the 1978 legislation allowing continued leases, which is not contradictory; or obscurantist, as when the Park claims Byrne’s oft-cited figure for how much the Park paid the ranchers when purchasing their land ($382 million, adjusted) is wrong, without supplying the correct figure; or defensive, such as where the Park points out that the elk in 2013-15 die-off did not succumb from thirst, but rather from drought-induced malnutrition, and adding the biologically implausible statement, “if there was no water available to the elk at this time, all of the elk would have perished.” (I’m not a biologist, but this is wrong: lack of water will take the most vulnerable to dehydration first, not 500+ animals simultaneously, and it is known that there are sub-herds north of the fence, with territorial behavior, such that water might have been available to only a subset of the animals based on distribution.)
If it seems unusual to you for a government agency to first decline to meet with a journalist and subsequently blast an email pleading its case, you’re right. Laura Cunningham, California Director of the Western Watersheds Project (WWP), said, “I have never seen a federal agency spend so much time and effort critiquing a single reporter and specific article in such detail and then publicly.”
So what’s going on here? To return to Shakespeare, “Methinks the lady doth protest too much.”
Let’s take one more of the eight corrections from the Park’s email, ostensibly the most innocent and factual:
The name of the park is “Point Reyes National Seashore,” not “Point Reyes National Park.”
Harping on that last word would be merely pedantic, except for the fact that the Point Reyes ranchers have long implied that Seashores fall under different laws and policy than Parks, presumably in an attempt to inoculate themselves against charges regarding their legal and ecological status. For example, a July 22, 2020, op-ed in the Marin Independent Journal from Point Reyes rancher Kevin Lunny claims, “PRNS is not a national park. Where parks are created for quieter, contemplative uses, national seashores are for public activities, recreation and historic cultural uses.” Additionally, a 2014 scoping letter from the Point Reyes Seashore Ranchers Association (PRSRA) to the Park says, “… PRNS is a “National Seashore,” not a “National Park.” PRSRA asks that all [Environmental Assessment] documents, publications and communications be corrected…this error, if not corrected, could cause the public and consultants to apply the wrong standards to this environmental review.”
Whereas you can be sure that the Ranchers Association was not worried about the operative standard being too low, there simply is no such distinction; “Seashores” and “Parks” are both “National Park Units” and are subject to the same laws, for example the Organic Act of 1916, which requires the National Park Service to “manage park resources and values in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” In addition, the PRNS Enabling act, specific to this Park/Seashore/Park Unit requires the land to be administered “supportive of the maximum protection, restoration, and preservation of the natural environment within the area…”
So a bystander may wonder why the Park is taking pains to underline the basis for such a self-interested obfuscation, rather than correct the actually-substantive inaccuracy in the first place — which, as far as the author is aware, they have not done, publicly or otherwise. Why are they being faithful to a six-year-old request from the Ranchers’ Association to correct “Park,” which is common usage, confusing no one, and technically equivalent? In other words, why is the Park telling Byrne he is wrong instead of the ranchers?
And a cynic may supply the answer: because the distinction is rhetorically useful to certain interests and the NPS works for the ranchers. If that sounds overly cynical, towards paranoid, read on.
The controversy did not start with Apocalypse Cow, of course.
The West Marin community is still agitated by the “Oyster War,” culminating in 2013, when the Drakes Bay Oyster Company, run by Mr. Lunny, shut down after the Park Service declined to offer a lease at the expiration of a 40-year ROU, the balance of which Lunny had purchased from the former operator, Johnson Oyster Company. The Park Service stated that issuing a lease for the business to continue would have been illegal in designated potential wilderness. Site clean-up cost over $4 million, paid for by the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation.
There is also the mentioned recent lawsuit and resulting EIS, which cost nearly $1.5 million to generate, and the General Management Plan, including the preferred Alternative B, which as mentioned is decidedly opposed by the public. As part of the scoping process for the Plan, the Park Service was legally obliged under NEPA to accept public comments. More than 7,600 comments were received. They are available online from the NPS (link). The author was personally involved in an analysis of the comments done by the Renewal Resource Institute (link). The analysis shows that over 91% (6,969) of the 7,627 respondents opposed Alternative B on various grounds. Of all public comments which endorsed any specific plan explicitly (1,859), over 94% (1,751) endorsed the plan that removes ranching altogether (Alternative F). Further indication of the public’s will regarding the way forward in the Park is found in the public comments submitted to the California Coastal Commission, which has yet to render a “determination of compliance” on the plan. (The Coastal Commission cannot block the plan, but a finding of non-compliance would be awkward for the Park and would encourage opposition.) The staff report indicates that the overwhelmingly majority of comments were opposed to the plan, especially regarding the culling of tule elk.
Lastly, many advocate groups such as forelk (link), Save Point Reyes National Seashore (link), In Defense of Animals (link), et al, have joined the lawsuit’s plaintiffs (Resource Renewal Institute (RRI), Western Watersheds Project (WWP), and the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD)), are trying to raise awareness of the contents of the plan, and are making some headway despite the massive news shadows cast by covid-19, the election, capital riots, and the like, and despite the impressively disciplined “there’s-nothing-to-see-here” stance from status quo politicians and organizations sympathetic to the ranch families. It’s not surprising, for example, that if well-respected and normally green U.S. Representative Jared Huffman routinely portrays PRNS as a popular model of balance and sustainability (“a unique mosaic which most people love pretty much the way it is”) despite the lopsided and unequivocal counterevidence, that those trying to block the unfortunate plan have a long row to hoe. CBD, for example, strongly opposes Representative Huffman on this issue, but works with him on too many other public-lands protection and conservation matters to withhold their endorsement from him. Besides, he faces no serious challenge for his seat, as of now.
So, Apocalypse Cow can be read as an exposé, trying against long odds to keep the dice uncast, and the Park’s “corrections” email can be read as a counter-tactic, seeking to mute those voices and discredit those concerns.
President Trump, recall meanwhile, invited Kevin Lunny to the White House in October, 2019, for an executive order signing ceremony giving access to private corporation profit from public land, where in reference to the “Oyster War,” they commiserated on the lamentable past abuses of big government of struggling, small businessmen like himself. During the photo-op, President Trump told Mr. Lunny, “We’ll have somebody right here in the White House looking at it, Kevin, so this doesn’t happen to other people.”
The rest of Mr. Lunny’s referenced op-ed to the Marin Independent Journal last July is also worth reading, where he unabashedly pines for the days when he and his family could hunt and fish as they please in what is now a National Park, add “any species of farm animal we wanted,” and “use the sand dunes,” etc. Mr. Lunny makes explicit his desire to return to the Shafter-era model of land use, namely 1860-1960, but omits any reference to the antecedent genocide of the former Native American inhabitants of the area, the rampant clear-cutting of the coastal conifer forests and decimation of the coastal prairies, vestiges of which can be seen in the elk preserve and other unranched areas of PRNS, to make way for livestock, or the extirpation of elk and grizzly and general domination of wilderness by our glorified frontier endeavors.
Another document worth reading on the topic is the aforementioned 2014 letter written by the Point Reyes Seashore Ranchers Association, delivered to then-Superintendent Cecily Muldoon and copied California Senators Feinstein and Boxer, Representative Huffman, State Assembly Member Marc Levine, and then-Marin County Supervisor Steve Kinsey. The letter is indeed worth reading, but then again one might save the time if one has already read the Park’s “preferred” Alternative B, for which the letter served as an apparent blueprint. It’s a brazen letter to Santa Claus, specifying what should be used as the environmental baseline (current day operations), what Park Unit elsewhere should be used as a model (Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio), how long lease renewals should be (20 years) what should become of the lease succession policy (less restrictive), what activities should be expanded or newly allowed (poultry, sheep and goats, including guard animals, row crops, retail shops and farm stands, tours, B&Bs, onsite butchering, food-processing, including from produce brought in from elsewhere, cheese-making, et al.) It also characterizes the native tule elk as an invasive nuisance and implies that “overpopulated elk” may transfer Johne’s disease to cattle, when it is well known that the domestic livestock are from where the elk contracted the disease originally. (The disease in the elk, by the way, makes their relocation implausible and strengthens the case for culling them over any more humane or ecologically sound way forward.)
Into this ever-fresh pile steps new PRNS Superintendent Craig Kenkel, who most recently was head of — wait for it — Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio — another on the short list of National Park Units which incorporates for-profit, private use of public lands and which utilized federal sharpshooters to cull deer populations, which is the likely fate awaiting scores of tule elk in PRNS. Superintendent Kenkel gave a careful interview to the Point Reyes Light last December in which he said, “everyone has a right to be heard” and later added, “farming is in my DNA.” He was named last November by scandal-ridden extraction and agriculture lobbyist-cum-Trump Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and appears to be handpicked in the background by the ranchers (so much for everyone being heard.) Superintendent Kenkel started in January, so the February 9th “corrections” email came out on his watch. One wonders whether the “corrections” email went out without his knowledge, at his direction, or against his wishes, as well as which possibility reflects least poorly on him.
If you’re keeping score at home, the Ranchers’ Association, in 2014, before the court-ordered Environment Impact Statement, asked the Park what moniker to permit, what length of leases to offer, what commercial activities to allow, and who to put in charge, and the Park has obeyed on each point and in high fidelity, entirely heedless of overwhelming objections from the owners of the land (the public).
Those of us who want our National Park to be a healthy haven rather than a heavily impaired livestock operation take heart in the promise offered by the incoming Biden administration, which has pledged to make climate change a top priority, which nominated a Native American woman as Secretary of the Interior, and which will bring science back into environmental policy, spelling an end to alternative facts and the persistent upper hand for the entrenched and powerful. PRNS should by swept up and turned around as part of 30 x 30, the new administration’s plan to protect 30% of U.S. land and coastal seas by 2030.
Furthermore, we continue to press our case. Western Watersheds Project, one of the 2016 lawsuit plaintiffs, along with In Defense of Animals, recently conducted independent tests of water quality downstream from some of the ranches in PRNS, at popular public-accessed streams and beaches, including Kehoe Lagoon, which drains into the Pacific. The Park has not done water quality tests since 2013, for reasons withheld, even though there were significant bacteria and other issues found at that time. The new results, published March 3, 2021, show 5X the safe human limit of coliform bacteria, 40X the safe limit for E. coli, and 300X the safe limit of enterococci. As of this writing, PRNS has acknowledged receipt of the study results but has not indicated any planned response, such as placing a sign to warn the public.
What should be done at a minimum, in the authors opinion, is a deferral of the deadline for a finalized plan, allowing public hearings at which previously ignored voices, such as those of the Coast Miwok, can be heard; at which the owners of the land (the public) can express their will to decision-makers without any chance of genuine or feigned misunderstanding; at which previously unquestioned assumptions, such as that the ranches in PRNS appropriately preserve history, can be tested; and at which already refuted claims, such as that the ranches in PRNS are good stewards of the land and ecologically important, can be retired as a matter of public record.
The hearings should not be dominated by parties that have shown themselves to be partisan, such as the National Park Service itself or the Marin County Board of Supervisors, or which have vested financial interests, such as the Point Reyes Seashore Ranchers Association and the Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT). Such criteria also disqualify Senator Feinstein and Representative Huffman, in whose district the park lies, both of whom, without any hint of irony or chagrin, boast that their positions on Point Reyes survived the publication of the EIS without significant modification, and both of whom accept significant campaign contributions from agricultural sources.
There is little time left. The General Management Plan must be finalized by July 14, 2021. It is not expected that the Park Service renders its final decision before hearing from the California Coastal Commission. The Coastal Commission has postponed its determination of compliance from its original target date of January 20, 2021 (yes, inauguration day) to April 22, 2021, (yes, Earth Day).
(Ken Bouley is a software developer at the data analytics company FICO, where he has worked for the last 24 years. He and his wife Kelli live in Inverness, immediately adjacent to the Point Reyes National Seashore, hiking there frequently and indulging Ken’s wildlife photography hobby. Bobcats are his favorite. Courtesy CounterPunch.org)
REPORTERS’ ALERT: Launching a New Website, Part II
by Ralph Nader
Reporters at major newspapers and magazines are hard to reach by telephone. Today it is increasingly hard to converse with them about timely scoops, leads, gaps in coverage, and corrections to published articles.
We just started an online webpage: Reporter’s Alert. From time to time, we will use Reporter’s Alert to present suggestions for important reporting on topics that are either not covered or not covered thoroughly. Reporting that just nibbles on the periphery won’t attract much public attention or be noticed by decision-makers. Here is the second installment of suggestions:
1. In recent years we have read about massive hacking of major databases at major retail chains (Target etc.), the federal civil service, national security agencies, credit card companies, and the list goes on. Tens of millions of people have had their personal files invaded by these mostly unknown remote hackers. These reports are accompanied by grave warnings of forthcoming untold damage to privacy, business propriety information, workplace labor information, and secret government databases.
Yet, with the passage of time, we are not informed about what, if any, grave consequences materialized, even with the warnings about many forthcoming identity thefts. How about some follow-ups to these announcements of big hacking?
2. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, there were knowledgeable estimates that, at the very least, some 5,000 people on average died in U.S. hospitals every week due to “preventable problems” in these institutions. Not included in this Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine peer-reviewed study (2016) were the preventable casualties from clinics and doctors’ offices. When the Johns Hopkins report came out, it was a one-day story, (not on the front page), in The Washington Post and The New York Times. There was neither follow up from the media nor from Congressional or state legislative bodies. Medical Associations, such as the AMA, scarcely blinked. There were some resolutions encouraging staff to wash their hands to reduce infections. Some hospitals emphasized this simple measure. Otherwise, 250,000 fatalities a year – a conservative figure by the authors – was relegated to “old news,” rather than opening all kinds of media-driven doors.
3. If you asked a reporter or editor: “Who owns the bulk of the wealth in America?” Chances are the response would be the top “ten percent.” A more specific response might be that a dozen of the richest Americans own more wealth than the combined wealth of the bottom 50% of American people. The subject is private. What if the question was “Who owns the most wealth of all kinds – private and public?” The answer would be the people. They own trillions of dollars in pension, mutual funds, and personal savings. They own the enormous “commons,” the public lands (one-third of America, not counting offshore), the public airwaves, and should own the intellectual property created by huge R&D grants from the federal government to build most of the newer industries, and so on.
Why should the reality that corporations control most of what people own, either directly or indirectly through indentured governments, take away from the deeper reality that ownership of, by, and for the people gets so little attention and therefore little deliberation about what we can do to restore control to the people of what they own? What might result from this overdue merger of ownership with control in a democratic society?
4. The largest single discretionary spending budget in the federal government is that of the Department of Defense. Yet, the Pentagon has gotten away with violating federal law. The Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990 requires all government departments and agencies to provide Congress−the Government Accountability Office (GAO)−with auditable data. Auditors said the DOD FY2018 auditors could not express an opinion on the financial statements because the financial information was not sufficiently reliable. Given all the GAO and DOD audits of waste, fraud, and abuse in DOD’s contracting history, defying Congress and the law here should be a matter of continual media reporting. The DOD budget accounts for more than half the operating budget of the U.S. government. Secretaries of Defense always promise to produce audits, but outside of a costly audit of the Marine budget one year, promises have not been kept.
5. Here’s one gigantic story in plain sight afflicting many millions of elderly people seduced into the Medicare [Dis]advantage plan. This corporatization of Medicare by giant health insurance companies keeps getting bigger every year. Now about 40% of Medicare beneficiaries, aided and abetted by both Parties in Congress and exploited by AARP, and some labor unions (SEIU) automatically enroll their retirees without first giving them a choice to go with traditional Medicare. As one knowledgeable physician declared about the glossily promoted deception of Medicare Advantage, “It’s not what you pay, it’s what you get.” Not to mention we are subsidizing Medicare [Dis]advantage plans at the expense of taxpayers and traditional Medicare beneficiaries. Trapdoors are pervasive in Medicare [Dis]advantage plans – starting with narrow networks and hassling when people get sick, prior authorization hurdles, and obstacles to returning to traditional Medicare. Deceptive promotions and advertisements go unrebutted by the FTC, progressive members of Congress, AARP, and the media that carry deceptive Medicare [Dis]advantage ads. This erosion of traditional Medicare provides Aetna and UnitedHealthcare with windfall profits. See Dr. John Geyman’s books (http://www.johngeymanmd.org/). See Dr. Don McCanne’s critique on the PNHP website and Diane Archer’s recent column: The Ghost of the Trump Administration Is Haunting Medicare.
6. Congress, busy increasingly over recent decades in abdicating its constitutional powers to the Presidency and Executive Branch, has created an impressive record of government by waivers. Congress tells the Executive what it shall do, then inserts “waiver” rights without standards. This lets the White House get away with unbridled power to escape the legislative intent of statutes. (Trump really exploited these exits).
Waivers are declared in the thousands every year – waivers from tariffs, waivers from arms sales, waivers from reports, from varieties of law enforcement actions, and so forth. Waivers create new lobbying businesses and invite corruption, favoritism, and the privileges of the big boys over the little guys. For example, in 2020, Apple got a tariff waiver from the US Trade Representative on paying a 7.5 percent duty on Apple Smart Watches imported from China. A key to abuses here is the absence of adequate boundaries (standards) or oversight by Congress.
WHEN GUN VIOLENCE IS COUNTED AS A SINGLE CATEGORY — spanning homicides, suicides and accidents — it kills about 40,000 Americans a year. That’s far behind the country’s biggest killers, like heart disease (about 650,000 annual deaths) or Alzheimer’s (about 125,000). But it is broadly comparable to the toll from many well-known causes of death, including an average flu season (35,000), vehicle accidents (39,000), breast cancer (42,000), liver disease (43,000) or pancreatic cancer (45,000).
After the Boulder shootings, John Thune of South Dakota, the Senate’s second-ranking Republican, dismissed calls for restricting gun availability, saying, “There’s not a big appetite among our members to do things that would appear to be addressing it, but actually don’t do anything to fix the problem.”
(New York Times)