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BREEZY CONDITIONS are developing today after light rain overnight in Del Norte and Northern Humboldt. Skies will clear out with cooler temperatures today and Tuesday. Sunshine and warmer temperatures are expected Wednesday. (NWS)
OSCAR & IVY SEEKING NEW HOME
Kitties seeking new owner(s) & home: a Strawberry Blonde neutered male and a Pastel Calico spayed female. 8 years old. Oscar and Ivy are valley bred & born litter mates (Mt. View Road), are outstanding hunters who prowl the grounds of our 6 acre property like tiny tigers hunting for their daily vermin ration. They come with microchips, vet records, pet meds for 6 months (flea/tick and worming), canned and dried food and bowls, brush, carry cases, beds, litter box/shovel/litter, scratch post & sleeping tower. These cats are outside every day but need a safe indoor place at night. They are trim and healthy with beautiful coats. Both cats are shy with strangers but are affectionate and loving lap cats with their owners. It will take a week or two indoors for them to adjust to their new environment. They are much loved pets and our hearts are breaking that we are moving to a small apartment in an urban area and cannot bring them with us. PLEASE HELP us by giving them a new home.
THE ANDERSON VALLEY VILLAGE WRITER’S SHOWCASE (plus vax info)
Coming up, The AV Villlage Writer’s Showcase. Sunday April 11, 2021 at 4:00, If you are interested in sharing some of your work on this Zoom event please contact Lauren Keating 895-2606 or email@example.com
- COVID vaccination info and sign-ups
- Upcoming vaccination events
- The California site for sign up and info
- Here is Adventist's site for vaccine notifications
- Pharmacies offering and sites to register for vaccinations in California: CVS Pharmacy; Rite Aid Corp; Walgreens.
STUDIES IN IRRELEVANCE
by Mark Scaramella
Measure B was passed onto law more than three years ago, November of 2017. The idea, a simple one since complicated beyond all reason by limited appointees, incompetence, laziness and overlapping management, was to create an in-county mental health facility rather than the expensive export of the mentally ill to places far removed from family and support.
At last Wednesday’s meeting of the Measure B Committee, senior B member Shannon Riley (Assistant Ukiah City Manager) asked that Supervisors' Measure B materials be included in the Measure B Committee’s meeting materials. Ms. Riley said such common courtesies would allow the B Committee to know if they had been “circumvented.” Riley also asked that a Measure B Committee member give a report to the Supervisors every month.
Supervisor John Haschak called in to say he’d be willing to be a liaison between the Supervisors and the Measure B Committee.
Committee Member (former Sheriff) Tom Allman said the Measure B Committee needs to know about Measure B items on the Board’s agenda ahead of time.
Committee member and County CEO Carmel Angelo said it’s the responsibility of “the Department” (i.e., Mental/Behavioral Health/Dr. Jenine Miller) which, as usual and conveniently, has “a pretty significant workload” to notify the Measure B Committee, but it would be better than asking the Clerk of the Committee or the Board to do it.
Of course, no commitments to info sharing were offered. However, Committee Chair Donna Moschetti reassured her B colleagues by declaring, “I have written down a lot of things.”
Commissioner Mark Myrtle, one of the few on-task members of the B Committee, wondered about the unexplained and abrupt disappearance of (former) Project Manager Alyson Bailey, adding that the Measure B Committee should have a say in whether or not there’s a project manager. (We note here that the sudden disappearances of public bureaucrats has become an ongoing fact of life in Mendocino County.) “It was eliminated by others, unbeknownst to Measure B,” said Myrtle.
Was the position really “eliminated”? It’s in the Measure B budget. “We’re in the dark,” added Myrtle. “Is there a project manager?” … “If we say to do something, is that our say forever? In business the person who has the funding has the ultimate say, but that’s not the case here. We don’t know anything except that the money is in our budget, but there’s no one in the position.”
County Human Resources honcho William Schurtz replied, “It has not been eliminated. It is still on the books. The position is still there. But the incumbent is no longer in that position.”
Myrtle, pulling teeth for every little info-morsel, asked if the County is recruiting for a Project Manager.
Schurtz said no.
Myrtle then asked who’s managing the Measure B activities?
Dr. Jenine Miller Director of Mental Health (and whatever other titles she now has) said that “different people” are doing various tasks like bookkeeping, and administration. Miller added, “Joy Bieler is doing the training center and remodeling.” Bieler’s husband, Mr. Lavato, is “doing the Crisis Residential Treatment facility. Karen Ann is working with the mobile crisis team. And Joy has been working on the after care contract and the RFP for Community Awareness.”
Myrtle pulled again: “So we have eliminated the position?”
Miller: “The position still exists.”
Myrtle: “There are no plans to fill it? Who makes these decisions? It was eliminated and then silence. I don’t want to be in the dark.”
County Counsel Christian Curtis conceded that Mr. Myrtle had asked a legitimate question, then launched into one of his patented insensible “uh”-laden sermons saying, essentially, that all the money and decision-making belongs to the County and the Supervisors; the Committee can only recommend.
Realizing nobody was going to answer his “legitimate question,” Myrtle finally stopped pulling and acknowledged that County staff and department heads make all the decisions and he will just have to remain a mushroom.
Committee Member Jed Diamond kinda sorta wished that there had been some notice, not just silence, no feedback. Just “suddenly” there was no project manager. After a windy pre-amble, Diamond concluded, “What happened?”
This prompted another repetitive procedural lecture from County Counsel Curtis who repeated that it was a personnel matter and everything is up to the Department head and not up for public or Committee discussion. (If you'll excuse the rather extreme metatphor, the difference between Mendocino County and Stalinist Russia is that Stalin simply executed people who asked inconvenient questions. In Mendocino County bureaucratic disappearances are personnel matters.)
Committee member Ross Liberty said he wanted to know more about the County’s plans to hire an operator for the Crisis Residential Treatment Center (which is being built next door to the Schraeders' admin building on Orchard Street, so one guess who “the operator” will be). “I understand that you are negotiating with someone,” said Liberty, “but we are completely in the dark about who will operate the CRT and I don’t think we should be.”
Committee member Michelle Rich — who is on the Measure B Committee by virtue of being Chair of the overlapping Behavioral Health Advisory Committee — said the Measure B Committee didn’t have the skills necessary to assess those operators or services, implying that County insiders would pick the Schraeders to staff the CRT and they didn’t need any input from Measure B once that was all lined up. (It’s taking months.) Ms. Rich said she and her Behavioral Health Advisory Board should help pick the inevitable Schraeders, but not the Measure B people.
Committee member Tom Allman, the man who singlehandedly gave life to Measure B, thought somebody on the Measure B Committee, not a government employee, should have something to do with choosing the operator and that it should not be done in closed session. “There can’t just be a man behind the curtain we trust everything to,” said Allman. “Transparency is the leader of good government.” Allman thought somebody from the Measure B Committee should be on the proposal review committee.” “I was on the Ortner selection committee,” added Alllman, “and I was embarrassed about how they were running their show after they were selected.” Allman asked the Supervisors to “demand” that the Measure B Committee be represented on the proposal review team. Oddly given his long experience as Sheriff, Allman didn’t seem to know that the Supervisors never demand anything from anyone.
Ms. Rich thought she could do it for both the Measure B Committee and the Behavioral Health Committee. Allman preferred someone else, not a county employee, from the Measure B Committee.
CEO Angelo and Director Miller remained silent throughout this discussion, confident that nobody from Measure B would ever get in their way and no “transparency,” much less leadership, is needed.
Ms. Riley reported out of her little committee restructuring ad hoc subcommittee that Measure B's clearly irrelevant oversight committee assume even more of a “general oversight” role and hold fewer meetings. She bemoaned the Supervisors approving matters like Training Center features that were not recommended by the Measure B Committee. She also complained that the dilapidated, roofless Whitmore Lane facility was discussed by the Supervisors as a possible Psych facility without any Measure B participation, as was Dr. Noemi Doohan’s “Ranch Proposal,” which was presented at length to the Supervisors and even a parcel [the McGehee property which they refused to sell the Mendo] was on the table, then off the table — all without any discussion by the Measure B Committee. “Things are out of order and not working,” said Riley, adding that no work has been done on the strategic plan which the Committee had authorized and which was at one time considered to be “very important.”
Citing the lack of consideration given to consultant Lee Kemper’s now three year old expensive “Needs Assessment,” Riley said that the Measure B process “is not linear, not transparent. We’re not sure who’s driving this bus. I can guarantee you it’s not the Measure B committee.”
Riley said she wasn’t quite ready to propose a new reduced role for the Measure B Committee just yet, but that’s the way she was heading. Maybe next month. It’s irrelevent anyway.
In effect, the Measure B Committee has made itself irrelevant, and even in those few cases where they have tried to engage with the process, nobody paid any attention to them.
Who is driving the B bus? Angelo, Schraeder, and Miller. All aboard!
BALD EAGLE AT NAVARRO MOUTH
Saturday afternoon I saw an adult Bald Eagle approach from the east and fly past below my lookout spot on the Navarro grade overlooking the beach and river mouth. It landed on a pine branch about 50 yards west of me and spent about 15 min. resting, grooming and taking in the view. Unfortunately, from my position there was only a silhouette view of the big bird, so not good for photography.
The eagle took off and flew back to the east along the northern side of the river and disappeared. My non-expert opinion is that the eagle was a younger bird, but it had the snow-white head and shoulders that marked it as an adult.
In other news, is anyone seeing whales in any numbers? It's Whale Festival time again, although most activities are cancelled or virtualized due to Covid. We still get to watch them though, and now that the wind has diminished it's a great time to get out on the headlands with some binoculars.
The Navarro mouth sandbar has been closed in again for several days. The estuary level is moderately high, but there is no chance of flooding the low spot on Hwy. 128 until we get at least a couple of inches of rain, and none is forecast.
While stopped at the turnout overlooking the river, I noticed the vehicle traffic on Hwy. 1 was pretty heavy in the late afternoon. The warm, sunny, spring weather combined with Covid fatigue seems to have inspired a lot of inlanders to day-trip to the coast this weekend.
NW / Nicholas Wilson" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
STATE ISSUES WATER WARNING, SUPES TAKE HEED PLEASE
by Jim Shields
The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors, with the exception of 3rd District Supe John Haschak, have managed to paint themselves into the World’s smallest corner.
What I’m talking about is the quartet of Supes’ latest monkey-around of the never-ending Cannabis Ordinance ordeal.
Supervisors Dan Gjerde, Ted Williams, Glenn McGourty, and Mo Mulheren have created absolute chaos with their ham-fisted Ordinance tinkering.
On Monday, March 22, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved instituting a moratorium on the proposed Phase 3 Ordinance, that includes provisions removing all caps on pot (a grower with a minimum parcel size of 10 acres or larger could cultivate up to 10 percent of the total parcel) and opening up rangeland to growing weed, despite opposition from a very conservative estimate of 75 percent of County residents, the Sheriff, the former Sheriff, small cannabis farmers, environmentalists, ranchers, and a growing number of public agencies and organizations.
While the moratorium in a narrow sense is confined to the suspending the April 1st opening date of the proposed Phase 3 Ordinance, and bans all applications for Phase 3 cannabis cultivation permits, in reality the moratorium actually freezes in place the County’s marijuana program.
The reason the Supes needed the Moratorium is because the Phase 3 April 1st application opening was fraught with all kinds of legal and procedural difficulties owing to the fact that there’s no approved Phase 3 Ordinance for people to file under.
In the “Declarations and Findings” section of the Moratorium Ordinance, they explain their problems this way:
“However, allowing Phase Three to go into effect while the County is actively preparing a new, entirely different permitting structure to replace it will have negative impacts for permit applicants and County residents. Permit applicants, neighborhood residents, and County staff will be forced to navigate and explain the existing program requirements and the proposed program requirements. The County would additionally need to determine whether and how to make further ordinance amendments to attempt to integrate the active Phase Three program with the new regulatory structure … The increased workload that will result from intake of Phase Three applications, while developing and then implementing a new cannabis regulatory structure, will cause delay in processing other permits applied for by the public. This, in turn, would have a negative impact on residential and business development in Mendocino County.”
This, of course, is all gobbledy-blather nonsense.
However, there is something that is not nonsense and that is the 10% rule and the opening of rangeland to cultivation cannot be justified by the four Supes who have decided that paving the way for corporate takeover of marijuana farming is going to occur notwithstanding that the state of California is most likely going to declare a drought emergency and impose mandatory water cuts as Gov. Jerry Brown did during 2012-2017 drought.
Last week I reported the latest data from the U.S. Drought Monitor shows that 99.22 percent of California remains in persistent drought conditions ranging from abnormally dry to exceptional drought. The only area designated as non-drought (normal) is a small slice in the extreme northwest corner of the state on the Oregon border.
Here in Mendocino County, the eastern two-thirds is categorized as “severe drought” while the western sector is in “moderate drought.”
Meanwhile, this past Tuesday, my boss, the State Water Resources Control Board, sent out “early warning” notices to approximately 4,000 water districts, municipalities, and 40,000 water right holders, urging us to plan for potential shortages by reducing water use and adopting practical conservation measures.
Those notices are the first indicator to prepare for an emergency drought order.
Joaquin Esquivel, chairman of the State Water Board, said “It’s the reality that conditions are so dry that curtailment is a possibility and we’re wanting everybody to be on notice.”
Back to that real small corner the four Supes have painted themselves into.
Whether there’s drought conditions or not, and right now and for the foreseeable future, have no doubts: We are in the second year of a drought.
Therefore, it’s time for Supervisors Gjerde, Williams, McGourty, and Mulheren to stop acting irresponsibly by attempting to ram through the approval process water-intensive proposals that are going to result in a holocaust in our watersheds and devastation to our water sources.
Their 10 percent rule and range land to pot land proposal must be withdrawn because they are lousy public policy.
Remember, the only goal of public policy is to accomplish the most good for the most people. Their public policy is the antithesis of that objective.
With the Moratorium in place they have the time to do the right thing, so they shouldn’t squander the opportunity.
They must re-write the proposed Ordinance to reflect the original intent of legalization in this County: The recognition of the value of the legacy farmers who founded and created this local industry that should not ever be handed over to outside corporate interests.
(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, email@example.com, and is also the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live: http://www.kpfn.org.)
FRONT LINE SIEGE
To the Editor:
This is no precise simile, but I’ll make it anyway: the arm wrestling to bend back Lee at Gettysburg took three days; Shiloh took two; Antietam — the bloodiest single day battle in American history — was a single day. Sherman’s scorching of the southern earth on his way to the sea — Atlanta to Savannah — took two months.
Hitler’s last major offensive in WW2, what Churchill called “the greatest American battle” in the Ardennes Forest of Belgium — the Battle of the Bulge — lasted six brutal weeks.
Our front line workers have now been battling covid for a year.
WILL THE REAL DANA GRAY PLEASE STAND UP?
Regarding your article about school names in Mendocino County, published on Feb 24, 2021.
I met a Dana Gray a couple years ago, here in Inglenook.
As far as I know, she lives out Camp One Ten Mile River Rd. On the Gray ranch property.
I've no idea if there's any connection there, just wanted to let you know.
I too called the Dana Gray Elementary in Fort Bragg. The receptionist said she thought the name was given “Because the school is painted Gray.”
Thanks in advance for you attention to this matter.
THE CITY OF 450 FIRECRACKERS
Fireworks 2021 Survey
The City of Point Arena is seeking public input and comment on holding the annual Independence Weekend fireworks show at Arena Cove this year. The event was canceled in 2020 due to Covid.
A survey is now available at: https://cityofpointarena.us14.list-manage.com/track/click?u=c164a8c82a2a5af8db4de85b1&id=186c7482f4&e=d0e3cdc057.
Please fill out the survey and if you have additional comments, please share them in the boxes provided.
City of Point Arena <firstname.lastname@example.org>
COVID'S MASS HOUSE ARREST has its benefits. I've never watched so many movies. Used to get to a couple a month in theaters during bad weather, and all that time always wondered why I got some knock down flu until I learned to stay away from winter crowds. A helpful reader sent along a list of films he thought readers would like, including one called “Shot Caller” about a guy who goes from sanctioned criminal behavior as some kind of salesman to the non-sanctioned crime he takes up in prison for self-defense of the ethnic, color-coded type common in prisons. ‘Shot Caller’ is a very good, high energy, marvelously acted movie even if the narrative is confused and the guy playing the eventual shot caller wears the same flannel shirt the length of the film where he not only consorts with the felon community, he kills a few of them. In prison, he's implied as a member of the Aryan Brotherhood, a white prison gang that teams up with Mexican gangs to attack “toads,” black prison gangs. I've known real-life white shot callers, a couple of whom were and are from Mendocino County. From what I gathered from them their primary task was keeping the peace, preventing younger men from doing stupid, self-destructive stuff certain to get them more time inside. The creators of this movie version of real life shot callers seem to have the look and the talk of prison tough guys down, although who knows for sure without going to prison for on-site tutorials. Locally, the Mendocino County Jail is very astute at keeping the bona fide tough guys away from the natural born victims, placing the state and federal prison boys in one unit, the vulnerable, including goofy guys, chomos, and the non-volatile crazies in another unit, while the run of the mill, non-dangerous screw-ups doing county time pay their debts to our crumbling society in a third unit. The fightin' boys, the guys who don't play well with others, are housed singly in iso cells. It's been years since anybody was seriously hurt in the Mendocino County Jail, and please don't bring up Steve Neuroth who basically killed himself. Maybe one of our many imprisoned readers will fill in the blanks or correct errors here, but I believe the tough guys of the relentless type depicted in “Shot Caller” are housed at Pelican Bay and Corcoran. Best movie about criminals I've seen since ‘Reservoir Dogs,’ not that I'd have seen this one if it hadn't been recommended. (If you watch movies with your sig other, she will probably pass on ‘Shot Caller,’ as mine did about two minutes in. “Oh no,” she said as she trotted off to play mahjong on-line.)
HAPPENED on another film of the television type called ‘The Con,’ this recent con segment being “The Wine Con.” It describes a gifted young crook calling himself Rudy Kurniawan, in real life an Indonesian Chinese here illegally who becomes so quickly adept at forging prize wines he singlehandedly drives up world fine wine prices! Rudy travels the world buying up expensive wines while creating his own fake fine wines. In 2006, his fake wines raised $24.7 million at an auction, the largest ever total for a single distributor at the time. Moreover, even though Rudy was in America illegally, he managed to obtain a California liquor license not once but twice. He's good at schmoozing the easily schmoozed in the high end wine world, swapping superficialities with superficial people who don't seem able to distinguish the good stuff from Two Buck Chuck, maybe because there isn't a diff, but we'll leave that to the experts, if there are any. If this guy can achieve immediate, unquestioned status as a wine maven… The best thing Rudy did was rip off of one of the Koch Bros. But not for long. Koch sued, and Rudy's amazing fraud collapsed. Rudy was packed off to the federal pen for a fairly long stretch and presently awaits deportation by the INS. He says he's had many offers of work as a wine consultant.
CATCH OF THE DAY, March 28, 2021
JASON CONNER, Redwood Valley. Domestic battery, criminal threats, child endangerment.
ROBERT ARBAYO, Willits. Stalking & threatening bodily injury.
DANIELA GONZALEZ-DIAZ, Ukiah. DUI, child endangerment.
CHRISTOPHER GUTIERREZ, Willits. DUI.
MICHAEL MARTIN, Clearlake/Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs.
DESMON POWERS, Boonville. DUI.
ALLISON STROUT, Clearlake/Ukiah. Non-inmate selling controlled substance to person in custody, renting to distribute controlled substances, controlled substance for sale, paraphernalia, conspiracy.
“YOU HATE YOURSELVES, because you love me.”
—Tommy Lasorda to Giants fans before the last night game at Candlestick Park, 1999.
HUMP DAY REVERIE
by Steve Heilig
Wednesday is sometimes called “Hump Day” by some in the working world. I’ve never called it that but heard dumb adolescent jokes about it. For me it has long meant driving up out over the famous red bridge to the coast to do some work and wander around the forest and beach and visit many friends.
In my other home town, a jewel of a place, though changing too much. Nowadays I go less often, less work to do, much shut down, virus, and miss my dog too much there. It was one of his very favorite spots. I reflexively reach into the back seat to scratch his nose, but he’s a ghost now. Plus I am an eco-fascist even with myself and don’t drive nowhere unnecessary. So today after a slow start I go walking west, 3.5 miles to the beach, gentle downhill. Thru streets and then lush green Golden Gate park and then streets again. Stop at a corner spot with nice sun and shelf of old books and two cool tabbycats. They come out from wherever and hang out with me just for company. The books are tatty and silly romance and self-help type stuff. But there’s one collection of essays by William Saroyan whom I’ve never read. Even though I know he was very popular, respected, and even lived here in SF. Open it randomly and he writes of leaving his place on Carl Street at dusk, walking all the way to the beach through the big green park. Catching the sunset, then taking the muni train back home. In time for a martini; amazing, it’s just what I’m doing. Over half a century later, just without the cocktail but who knows?
Then for whatever reason I wind up thinking about girls/women from my past. How most or even all of them now have kids, many grown, time flies and all that. I count a bunch of them going way way back but some are a bit faded. Although I do recall nice things about every single one. And hope I didn't hurt any of them much even though no doubt I confused some. All happy now, I think, or hope, and I’ve had tons of kids in my life anyway. So it all worked out, really, or more or less...
Then I laugh aloud, recalling back when I was a sometimes maître d’ at a hopping eatery. The illegal Latino workers in the kitchen all called me “Julio” because they said I looked kinda like Julio Iglesias. All singing out “Hola Julio!” and laughing when I’d venture back there. Sounded like that “Norm!” gang shout in “Cheers.” And the only song I knew by the real Julio was “To All the Girls I Loved Before…” How about that, it’s just my jukebox brain again, songs and memories blending.
It’s too windy out on the beach itself, like sand blasting my legs. Only birds and me but I don’t last long and bail back to the street. A bit further down at the beach road there is a café. The first trendy one opened out in that foggy funky zone, over 25 years back. Now gentrified with fancy food and breweries and such but still quiet. But before that it was a biker bar: Dick’s At The Beach.
Nobody I knew ever went in that dark and past-its-prime place, if it ever was prime. But onetime I came up from the waves, cold and clammy and thirsty and dizzy. Had gone over the falls on a head-high left, smacked hard on my left side. Wind knocked outta me, leash snapped, eardrum burst, never to be the same. Crawling along the sand at the bottom wondering if this might be the end. Alone, dark, cold, churning, nobody else out there I could see. Thinking even then, Man, you’re too old for this shit. But made it up to air, and in to sand, and down the beach found the red board. Walked up, wobbly, stashed it in my red convertible bug out front. Thought spontaneously, could use a warm up drink, beer and maybe a shot too. To celebrate survival over stupidity once again.
So walked thru the doors, hinges so rusted by salt they wouldn’t close and had to be chained partly shut, waiting a moment for my eyes to adjust to the dark. Cold sand blown in on the floor all the way down along the bar. And at the far end sat three gnarly old bearded guys in leathers, nobody else around. I stood there soggy and shivering, but they ignored me. Until finally one said, “What you want?” “Maybe just a quick drink?” I said hopefully and respectfully. They just stared until another one said, “Get the fuck outta here, surfer boy.” OK, so I did, for the cold drive home as the VW top wouldn’t close with board inside. I think that joint was a front for crank dealing or something like that. Later learning that “crank” was a term for speed that came from bikers’ crankcases. Which was where they hid it, kinda clever, dealer boys. Who are very likely all dead by now.
But today just like Saroyan I’ll walk two blocks over and jump on the bus. It’s only a 20 minute ride homeward in these uncrowded pandemic days. My old feet tired and one knee sore but still working ok. Me sad about the news of the world just about every day. The future looking dark even with the orange con man ousted. But myself lucky myself in just about every way. So what ya gonna do? Back at home I pour a bit of wine and read some Bukowski. Who, look, in the 1970s writes he truly admired William Saroyan. And who pretty much inspired me to type out this silly tale, so blame him.
I think I’m on dinner duty so pasta or rice again. I know my limits, mostly, so I just get these words out, beats workin’? The wind coming up even more and the sun sinking into the now hazy west. Maybe gonna be a nice sunset again tho not one of the best. And that’s the story of my non-hump day quest.
LARRY BENSKY RECOMMENDS:
Just came across a wonderful documentary about The Sixties (again).
”Under the Ground: The Story of Liberation News Service.”
Very well put together, researched, and touching.
Just the thing for passing a confined hour….
TRAVELS IN MEXICO
by Paul Theroux
Here is the great paradox of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the visible result of American companies looking for cheap labor: a few hundred yards from the industrial park, the high-tech and aerospace maquiladoras (factories) of Mexicali, past Cristobal Colon Road, the fence, and beyond the fence, the spinach fields of Calexico -- most of the field workers are Mexicans on work visas. Fruit pickers here, lab technicians over there.
In that area, and farther east, in the lettuce and broccoli fields, nearly all the workers are Mexican who have been granted H-2A visas — temporary agricultural visas — harvesting for farmers who have proven they cannot find American field hands. Such visas are issued every year, allowing Mexicans to work for anywhere from four months to a year. How does this visa system work? First an agricultural company applies to the US Department of Labor, declaring that it does not have enough American workers to fill the available jobs in the fields. The company needs to prove that it has made an effort to find American workers. Then US Citizenship and Immigration Services reviews the application, and if it seems in order, and truthful, a certain number of H-2A visas are approved, the great majority of which are for agricultural workers. In the year I passed those broccoli fields, 90,000 of the visas had been issued. And why? Because the agricultural cooperatives here and in the Yuma Arizona area supply 90% of the lettuce to America for most of the year, a $2.4 billion a year industry.
I was not wrong to be warned by the long line at the border. I had slipped into Mexico in a matter of minutes, returning, it to more than two hours in a line of uncomplaining Mexicans, all of them with valid visas, to pass through the narrow border entrance, each person's papers examined, each person photographed and briskly interrogated. Back in my car, I drove past the lettuce fields and through the desert — magnificent, inhospitable — and the rubbly hills, the thorny scrub, and flowering bushes, 50 odd miles to Yuma.
Just a few days after leaving Calexico, I read a news item that claimed a Border Patrol agent had discovered a 142-foot tunnel less than a mile outside the town, “the third such tunnel discovered in Calexico in the past year.”
ONE HAS EITHER to take people as they are, or leave them as they are. One cannot change them, one can merely disturb their balance. A human being, after all, is not made up of single pieces, from which a single piece can be taken out and replaced by something else. Rather he is a whole, and if you pull one end, the other, whether you like it or not, begins to twitch.
HE NEVER FORGOT ANYTHING, but he never bothered to arrange his memories.
— John Steinbeck
REPORTERS’S ALERT: PART III
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 third installment of suggestions:
1. Over the past decade the subordination, on a grand scale, of revenue-based spending to debt-incurring spending, has steadily evolved. In recent months, the pace has quickened. This kind of spending has become an increasingly bipartisan practice. Since the Covid-19 pandemic started the federal government has approved spending nearly five trillion dollars relating to pandemic rescues and stimuli expenditures. This outlay was entirely deficit-financed.
The Republicans primarily objected to the amount of spending, while the Democrats avoided any serious effort to restore the immense Trump tax cuts for the super-wealthy and mega-corporations – notwithstanding Joe Biden’s rhetoric in a major pre-inauguration address. This kind of spending imposes grotesque economic burdens on future generations. The children and grandchildren will pay later for deficit-financing of the $300 per month being granted to children today. Shame on today’s Congressional “adults”!
Has increasing or restoring revenues become a taboo for both Parties? The more Members of Congress get away with such spending, the more they’ll keep increasing the red ink numbers. Reporters should be alert to history, logic, and arithmetic. Spotlight the sugar-daddy consequences now and later.
2. Why are all those lawsuits against Trump – tort and criminal cases – taking so long to mature? Obviously, Trump’s lawyers are stonewalling and delaying; but the judges who control these adjudications need to keep the legal process moving. Trial lawyers shake their heads at how long it is taking for the legal challenges to Trump to move forward.
James D. Zirin has written a book on the 3500 lawsuits brought by and against Trump in his long career (Plaintiff in Chief: A Portrait of Donald Trump in 3,500 Lawsuits). Even he is having some difficulty explaining the extraordinary delays. Reporters – dig in and help us understand. If Trump could delay all cases for at least four years or more, what does this say about rule of law?
3. New York State is grappling with large deficits due to reduced revenues from the pandemic’s effects. There is nothing especially new here. What is unique about the Empire State is that it has, since 1982, collected and rebated approximately $350 billion in “stock transfer taxes.” The money rebated just last year is about what this year’s state deficit is expected to be. This is a minuscule sales tax on stocks, bonds, and derivatives transactions amounts to about, on average, 5 cents per $100 in sales – a tiny fraction of one percent. Compare this to the 8% sales tax New Yorkers have to pay on their purchases of necessities and wants. This stock transfer tax is a “progressive” sales tax since the upper-income rapid traders would pay the bulk of it.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has been asked about this obvious need to keep, not rebate, the tax (which NY State kept from early 1900 to 1982). Cuomo shrugs it off. Opponents of the stock tax make the ridiculous claim that Wall Street would move to New Jersey to escape a tax, the likes of which Japan, the UK, Kenya, and other countries were or are collecting.
Why isn’t there yet serious reporting on this timely and important issue in The New York Times? Other major media covering New York (Tom Precious of The Buffalo News, Michael Gormley of Newsday, and Rachel Silberstein and Claire Bryan of the Albany Times Union, have at least made an effort to alert the public about this debate).
This is more than a one-day story, far from it. A new Zogby Poll just out shows strong majorities of New Yorkers favoring this stock sales tax and provides additional positive results when questions suggest infrastructure uses for the money. For more information, you can contact Jim Henry (globalhavenindustry.com), Assemblyman Phil Steck (nyassembly.gov), and NYPIRG’s Blair Horner (nypirg.org).
4. On a lighter side, what’s happening to comedy in the time of sudden politically correct terminations? It would be interesting to hear from the writers, performers, artists, and others about their views, experiences, and positions on obliterating past “infractions” throughout comedic history. What are the writers and performers self-censoring within a free medium where “anything goes”? What does the creative class think about the attacks on provocative cartoons, comic strips, stand-up comedy, ethnic joke books (which used to be wildly popular), and even political satire? What about “Saturday Night Live” and “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”?
Reporters could pursue this story in many surprising directions and uncover surprising dissenting views from the conventional sanctions which presently are in the ascendancy. Remember, some dictators have been known to go into their greatest rages against the “cartoon” part of the media. Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator” made Hitler squirm. Do you wonder why? “In humor there is truth.” Satire has a long history of exposing the flaws of political leaders with less censorship than other forms of criticism.
5. Government guarantees are regularly used to prop up corporate capitalism. Government guarantees for corporations go beyond the usual corporate welfare of direct subsidies, handouts, giveaways, and bailouts. Many hundreds of billions of dollars in outstanding loan guarantees expand a stealth form of “corporate socialism” where the privatization of profit and the socialization of risks and misconduct displaces capitalist canons. Normally, but not always, authorized by Congress without clear standards or open administrative processes, these loan guarantees from Uncle Sam are granted for everything from huge cost overruns in nuclear power plant construction (e.g., Georgia and South Carolina) to the customers of U.S. exporters (e.g., Boeing).
Many federal departments and agencies participate in this cushy guaranteed-loan racket that has had bipartisan support and almost no Congressional oversight. Whether corporations are too big to fail, corrupt, or mismanaged, but politically connected, or too averse to traditional acceptance of business risk and market verdicts, their CEOs and their banks are happy to take loan guarantees and still complain about the federal government.
This arena offers options for enormous multidirectional media pursuits. The secrecy here needs to be subjected to FOIAs, exposed by whistleblowers, and examined through rigorous Congressional hearings. (See: goodjobsfirst.org).
THE EVIL WITHIN US
Millions of largely white Americans, hermetically sealed within the ideology of the Christian Right, yearn to destroy the 'Satanic' forces they blame for the debacle of their lives. And one such evangelical just killed eight people in Atlanta.