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NORTHERLY WINDS will increase along the coast this afternoon and again Sunday afternoon. CLear skies are expected and morning frost are expected through the weekend. Inland temperatures will warm into the mid to upper 70s Sunday and Monday. Mid to late week slightly cooler temperatures and breezy conditions are expected. (NWS)
ZERO NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.
SCIENTISTS GRAPPLING WITH PERSISTENT AND ALARMING COLLAPSE OF NORTH COASTS BULL KELP FORESTS
by Mary Callahan
Five years after marine scientists first sounded the alarm about a sudden collapse of the bull kelp forest off the Northern California coast, the state of the ocean offers little prospect of recovery any time soon.
Where lush stands of leafy kelp once swayed amid the waves, providing cover to young finfish and forage for abalones and other creatures on the ocean floor, a stark new world has materialized — one dominated by millions of voracious purple sea urchins that have stripped the ocean floor down to rock in some places. Were a tender frond of new kelp to sprout, it wouldn’t stand a chance of surviving long.
The barrens left behind are a stark and alarming contrast to what is typically one of the most thriving marine environments — seasonal kelp forests that support a rich ecosystem with life stretching from the sea floor to the surface, and up the food chain, supporting recreational and commercial fisheries and home to some of the North Coast’s most iconic wildlife, including abalone and sea otters.
The kelp forests also are a key barometer for the wider health of the world’s oceans, and without some recovery, their future as biodiverse stores for marine life and people hangs in the balance.
Laura Rogers-Bennett, a veteran biologist who works out of the UC Davis-Bodega Marine Lab, likened the kelp forest to a great floating woodlands stretching hundreds of miles along the coast.
“To lose 95% of your forest in a year and a half, that’s a catastrophe, an ecological disaster, and it’s had so much socioeconomic impacts, as well,” she said.
Experts are honing in on strategies to preserve remnant bull kelp that long flourished up and down the North Coast, hoping it may allow them to restore some portion of what once existed, when the time is right. Those pioneering efforts could also serve as model strategies for emerging urchin barrens around the world.
In labs around the West Coast, experiments are underway testing the feasibility of kelp cultivation and seed banking that might allow humans to boost natural recovery of the kelp forest at some point. Scientists elsewhere are breeding giant sunflower sea stars that might offset billions lost to Sea Star Wasting Syndrome, restoring a key predator of native purple urchins that have since multiplied so astonishingly. Others are trying to better understand the full dynamics of the ecosystem and how the transformation might be reversed.
It’s a daunting challenge, drawing on the talents of government, academic and nonprofit scientists, as well as commercial and recreational divers desperate to ensure the offshore waters of the future offer some sliver of the opportunities they have in decades past.
“It’s worth remembering that California has some of the best kelp ecologists in the world, so if we can’t figure out how to do this, it can’t be done,” said James Ray, kelp restoration coordinator at the Department of Fish and Wildlife. “It’s hard to know what the future environment is going to look like, but we’re not going to go quietly into the night.”
Multiple, interrelated factors led to decimation of kelp and allowed the simultaneous explosion of native purple urchins. And many studies indicate that, though the shift from kelp forest to urchin barren came rapidly, existing urchin densities mean there could be an extended period before any reversal.
Scientists nonetheless see promise in research underway that offers hope of restoring selective islands of kelp forest in the short-term — refuges that would allow for banking spores and preserving the species for the long-haul, until conditions might allow more extensive recovery.
The state of California also has assumed a more direct role in the response, including funding and project management. The Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Ocean Protection Council, a state agency, are developing a blueprint for long-term action that they hope to have finalized next year. Their interim plan, “a starting point for discussion,” is an effort to assemble a variety of strategies to apply toward the problem.
They include everything from farming bull kelp to produce genetically diverse spores for planting in the ocean, to culling and trapping the purple urchins, to captive breeding of the huge sunflower sea stars that once kept the urchins in check. All already are at various stages of development.
Mike Esgro, marine ecosystems manager for the Ocean Protection Council, calls that slate of steps the “restoration tool kit.”
“We’ve got our work cut out for us, but we feel as optimistic as we could feel given the severity of the situation,” Esgro said.
Marine changes spur collapse
News of the bull kelp’s demise on the North Coast first made headlines in March 2016, a result of conclusions drawn by two scientists working on the Sonoma Coast out of the Bodega Marine Lab: Rogers-Bennett and Cynthia Catton, who has since moved on to work for the Department of Natural Resources in Washington state.
Based in part on aerial surveys of the kelp canopy, they estimated bull kelp along the coasts of Sonoma and Mendocino counties had declined by 93% compared with earlier, peak years, like 2008.
The cause was successive, large-scale environmental stressors that included the 2013 arrival of Sea Star Wasting Syndrome and the “Warm Blob,” a marine heat wave that spread down the West Coast in 2014 and overlapped in 2015 with a two-year El Niño.
Atmospheric conditions associated with the blob suppressed the cold, nutrient-rich upwelling that had historically supported a famously productive ecosystem, weakening the bull kelp just as purple urchin densities were multiplying amid the demise of sunflower sea stars.
Scientists now estimate as many as 5.75 billion of the huge sea stars died, allowing purple urchins to reach numbers 60 times earlier population densities.
The result was near-complete collapse of underwater forests along more than 200 miles of coastline, as urchins consumed all the fleshy algae they could find and, exhausting that, began chewing through the rock-hard coralline algae on the seafloor.
Vast numbers of prized red abalones — the basis of a $44 million recreational fishery — withered or died, out-competed by the urchins. The commercial red urchin fishery centered off the Mendocino Coast dissipated, as well.
Abalone, said Rogers-Bennett, can handle a year without kelp, “but when you have three years or four years or, in our case, seven years of no food for them?
Rapid, vast loss of bull kelp
By 2019, the loss in coastal kelp forest was estimated above 95%, according to a recent UC Santa Cruz study that used satellite images going back to 1985. Scientists have found a few patchy areas between Timber Cove and Sea Ranch rebounded very slightly in 2020, as water temperatures cooled, Esgro said.
Over three decades, the study showed, bull kelp strength varied year to year within a certain range, but generally has been resilient to periods of marine warming in the past.
But the disappearance of the giant sea star altered the ecosystem too substantially for it to rebound naturally this time around, putting such relentless grazing pressure on marine plant life in the region that scientists suspect the canopy-forming algae will be hard-pressed to recover fully.
Unlike the giant kelp that dominates coastal waters south of Monterey Bay, bull kelp is an annual species, meaning each plant lives and dies in the same year. It grows from a root-like “holdfast” reaching 30-to-60-feet to the ocean surface. There, a buoyant, bulbous structure and many long, green blades form the canopy visible from above.
The plants need to be present year-to-year to release their spores to propagate each new generation.
The forest’s rapid disappearance on the North Coast has upended the ecosystem it helps support.
Morgan Murphy-Cannella, who works with Reef Check California in Fort Bragg, and is part of an urchin-clearing project in Noyo Harbor begun last year, took her first dive off the Mendocino Coast in 2013 and recalled a 3-dimensional, underwater world that harbored diverse life throughout the water column. She swam among abalones, crabs, colorful nudibranchs and rock fish, with the kelp “towering over you,” swaying in the light.
Then a recent-college grad, she left the country for a bit, and returned to an urchin barren, “like someone just cleared out the forest and rolled out a purple carpet, and that’s all you could see.”
“It was really sad to see, and it happened so fast.”
Divers enlisted in kelp campaign
Rogers-Bennett, who holds dual appointments at Fish and Wildlife and the Bodega Marine Lab, has been integrally involved with study of both kelp-loss and sea star wasting.
She has seen no shift in local sea life more dramatic than the chain reaction that decimated bull kelp forests on the North Coast.
“For somebody who has been studying this for 20 years, it’s been overwhelming to see this cascading change right before my very eyes,” she said. “None of this was predictable. We had no idea this was going to happen.”
Recreational divers were among the first to mobilize — members of the Watermen’s Alliance, a coalition of spearfishing clubs claiming more than 1,000 members throughout California. They were devastated by suspension of the 2018 abalone season, a sport fishery rooted in North Coast traditions and one now set to remain closed through at least 2026.
They turned their frustration to ridding the ocean of purple urchins, successfully lobbying the state twice for expanded catch limits that allowed them to organize mass culling events beginning in 2018. They also have raised tens of thousands of dollars to pay commercial red urchin divers to collect the smaller purple ones, instead, harvesting them from designated areas to see if they could clear room for kelp to regrow. There has never been a viable market for “the purples,” and is even less of one now, given how little they have to eat, though a few commercial divers say they are managing to sell some, while others are simply working to help restore the ecosystem.
The state Fish and Game Commission last year also decided recreational divers could smash and kill purple urchins on site in Caspar Cove, on the Mendocino Coast, as well as on Tanker Reef in Monterey Bay.
But the coronavirus pandemic has interfered with divers’ plans to travel to the coast and take advantage of the new authorization, so once restrictions are lifted, “it’s going to be a lot of work” to mobilize volunteers and make up for time lost, said Watermen’s Alliance President Josh Russo, a Suisun City resident.
The culling work has a solid precedent to follow. Over 27 days last summer and fall, commercial divers in Fort Bragg’s Noyo Harbor scooped out more than 13 tons of purple urchins — part of a 10-acre experiment to see what it would take to clear an area to a minimum density of urchins that might allow kelp to become reestablished.
The study, conducted by ReefCheck, was underwritten by the state to formalize some earlier work done by the Watermen’s Alliance and Noyo Marine Center. Participants plan to resume work there this spring, maintaining the cleared area and launching a new site in Albion, Murphy-Cannella said.
Plans also are afoot to experiment with seeding and planting bull kelp in the Noyo test site from specimens cultured in a lab. Other researchers are studying heat-tolerant strains and spore dispersal, seed-banking and genomics, site selection and optimization.
Still other scientists are examining urchin reproduction, looking to understand how the spiny creatures respond to starvation and temperature changes, as well as their entangled relationship with kelp and sea stars.
Sunflower sea stars have been successfully reared and spawned in captivity at the University of Washington, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, though it’s unclear if enough of them could be bred and successfully planted in the ocean to make a difference, said ecologist Tristin McHugh, kelp project director with The Nature Conservancy.
Prototype urchin traps are being developed and permitted right now, as well, that could be tested this spring, McHugh said.
“There has been so much momentum in understanding kelp restoration and what it means to lose kelp,” she said. “If I had told myself two years ago this is where we’d be, I wouldn’t believe it.”
Local work, global importance
Still, many questions remain about the cost and logistical feasibility of existing proposals, as well as certain ethical considerations about human intervention in marine ecosystems, McHugh said.
Over the past two years, $3 million has been invested in research projects that included the Noyo Harbor culling, which required 49 individual boat days and covered just 10 acres. What would it cost to scale that up to a network of oases large and diverse enough to ensure survival of the species?
And even if it’s determined sunflower sea stars can be bred and reintroduced to the natural environment, there may be reasons not to interfere, McHugh said.
“How do you do this,” she said, in a way “that’s cost effective and ethical?”
The hope, though, is to establish models that might address kelp loss around the planet, most of it recent and presenting the same questions and unknowns as are occurring here, Ray said. In a warming world, it’s not just about restoring the status quo but about managing kelp forests for resilience, he said.
“Ideally, you are able to intervene as early as possible, but at the same time, it’s sort of a question again of understanding when and where to intervene, with what tools?” he said. “There’s no model for this. Kelp has been lost all over the world, but it’s all been relatively recent, and as of yet, nobody has a better plan or response system set up, and they’re all dealing with sort of the same questions that we’re dealing with, like, ’What is the best response? Where do we put our limited dollars to make this work?’”
Rogers-Bennett, who has been at the forefront of efforts to save the white abalone, a species on the brink of extinction, said she worries that the overall urgency and investment in the bull kelp collapse needs to be greater to match the scope of the problem.
“What we’re not seeing is that quick response, those resources to respond to this disaster,” she said.
“I think if it happened on land with redwoods, I think we would see a lot more response. But it’s sort of out of sight, out of mind, so it’s harder to get people to recognize just what a huge impact this is.”
(courtesy The Press Democrat)
FREE ENTRY TO HENDY WOODS STATE PARK FOR LOCAL RESIDENTS (tomorrow, Sunday, 7 am – 7 pm)
"FB LOCAL BUSINESS MATTERS" (facebook post):
Here is the application for the controversial Grocery Outlet being proposed at 851 S. Franklin Street. The City is not being very transparent about this and we want to ensure that GO is being required to do a comprehensive traffic study given that the site they have chosen is already bogged down by traffic.
CANNABIS IN THE COUNTY: Covelo - An interview with Sheriff Matt Kendall
by Karen Rifkin
FOR MY BIRTHDAY THIS YEAR, I'm asking for donations to Anderson Valley Volunteer Firefighters Associaton. I've chosen AVVFFA because of the work they do to support AV's first responders. From meals at training to making sure we have safe equipment and apparatus, this small and dedicated group takes excellent care of our volunteer firefighters and EMTs.
Facebook pays all the processing fees for you, so 100% of your donation goes directly to the nonprofit.
— Angela DeWitt
CANNABIS EXPANSION: BITING OFF MORE THAN OUR COUNTY CAN CHEW
To the Editor:
There are many problems with the way the County is handling the cannabis issue currently, and with the proposed changes, things will be even worse.
It is crazy to have a system that depends on citizen complaints for monitoring. Is there any other business monitored by public individuals? What if restaurants, gas stations, factories or markets were regulated only by citizen complaints? That is the breakdown of civil society.
Citizen complaint is ineffective, especially with cannabis growers, some of whom syphon water illegally out of creeks, dump chemicals into creeks, and protect their crops with guns and dogs. Obviously, neighbors are fearful to report growers living nearby.
On our County roads, water trucks and other delivery vehicles go barrelling up and down the roads with alarming frequency, giving these roads an extra hard beating, resulting in road damage. The growers should pay for road maintenance.
Cannabis is a legal business with an outlaw mentality. It should be monitored as any other industry or business, and the owners held to the standards that other business owners adhere to, in the areas of contamination, lighting, resources, hours of operation, and treatment and salary of employees.
Done correctly, marijuana growing would not harm my property value or relationships between neighbors, but with the County completely abandoning their responsibilities to monitor the industry, and now ready to open up to huge increases in the growing operation, this is really turning into a disaster. I feel so angry that the County of Mendocino has not yet managed to do their job well.
Ted Williams has spent countless hours exploring every conceivable option to identify a path forward for legacy Phase 1 applicants. Chapter 10A.17 [of the Mendocino County Cannabis Permit Code] was written for the legacy farmer. No one else could apply. But State laws, State regs and Prop 64 ALL support consolidation and corporatization.
The only real sticking point in 10A.17 is lack of site specific CEQA. But that is a State requirement. It's very frustrating to me because I KNOW 90% of the Phase 1 applicants do not have a significant effect on the environment if all other rules are being followed. In fact, any environmental impacts will only be lessened by having these applicants in a regulated system. It's heartbreaking to see and devastating to the applicants who came forward in good faith. SSHR (Site Specific Habitat Review) should be an onsite checklist inspection. And unless some ignorant person has run a bulldozer through a wetland, cleared native oaks or done something else that's as dumb as it is illegal, they ought to be approved.
Unfortunately, the State in particular has always gone after the well intentioned person seeking a permit and turned a blind eye to the scofflaws. This predates cannabis by decades. It's just how the State operates. And it's wrong. The state agencies could and should go after and shut down the bad actors but they don't. But after four years, Mendocino County does need to clean up its applicant pool and determine who is serious about pursuing a permit and who is not. The sad fact is the State legislation, State agency regulations and voter approved Prop 64 ALL ignored local control. And ALL stacked the deck against the small scale grower. And that is something the County can't change.
I’m going to use this time on Sunday to be open to discussion regarding upcoming BOS meetings on cannabis enforcement and Phase 3 cultivation. So please join me.
Mo Mulheren is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: Mo Mulheren's Personal Meeting Room
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Meeting ID: 707 954 8230
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Situation serious for Lake Mendocino
Army Corps of Engineers does not expect lake to dip below record low in 1977
by Justine Frederiksen
A local water official this week described the current drought conditions as possibly creating the driest year yet for Lake Mendocino.
“The data is really pretty stark,” Sean White, director of water and sewer utilities for the city of Ukiah, told the Ukiah City Council Wednesday. “There was no ‘Miracle March’ to change the course of things, and now some of the driest precipitation to date is going to leave Lake Mendocino really like we’ve never seen it — at (maybe) its lowest level since it was built.”
On Monday, the National Weather Service office in Eureka reported that Ukiah had received 13.19 inches of rain since Oct. 1, which is less than half the normal amount for this time: 32.87 inches. Last year by this week, Ukiah had received 13.01 inches of rain.
As of Thursday, April 8, the lake was reported to have 36,570 acre feet of water and an elevation of 716.39 feet.
Last year was deemed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (which operates the Coyote Valley Dam that controls the amount of water in the lake) as the “third driest year on record for the basin.” On Aug. 15, 2020, the lake still had 50,600 acre feet of water, with an elevation of 726.3 feet.
When reached Thursday for comment, USACE staff reported that “the lowest water level at Lake Mendocino was 690 feet and occurred in 1977.” The total rainfall recorded for Water Year 1977 was only 11 inches, according to the USACE.
“This drought has been a little bit of a sneaker,” White said of 2021.
“While we were getting rain, we weren’t getting any voluminous rain. The (California State Water Resources Control Board) is currently considering what they are going to do in terms of water curtailments, and we expect to see some sort of mandate coming from the state.”
As far as what city of Ukiah residents can expect, White said that “the city has invested a lot of effort and money in anticipation of a year like this year (in terms of building new wells and the Purple Pipe recycled water system) and we will get through this with a level of ease that some of our neighbors will not experience.
“That doesn’t mean folks here won’t have to do something — we will have to make some sacrifices, but I’m sure they will be small compared to some of our neighbors,” White said.
City Manager Sage Sangiacomo said Wednesday that he expected to provide regular updates during upcoming City Council meetings regarding this year’s drought.
According to USACE staff, “Water Year 2020,” which includes precipitation from Oct. 1, 2019 to Sept. 3, 2020, is “the third driest year on record for the northern part of the watershed,” or Russian River Basin.
Such records for Lake Mendocino go back 127 years to 1894, with Water Year 1977 officially the driest, and Water Year 1924 the second driest.
(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)
Real estate swashbucklers - heads up! Own a little piece of hippie heaven for $1.15 mil - and get to paint it with one of the 50 approved shades of white for the rest of your days! It might be peace and love for rest of the world, but it's my way or the highway in Mendo, make no mistake! So if you've got the money - like, all of it. Now. They will work with large amounts of cash - and can just follow a few hundred simple directions, the line starts way back there.
SUPERVISOR MAUREEN MULHEREN:
So if you’re wondering what I do in between meetings it’s this. Talk to our community and try to work on solutions. I requested that this man lower his voice to me three times during this conversation. In the end I said, Sir I think we agree more than we disagree we just need to hear each other. I’ll be honest, I’m not taking responsibility for the decisions the BOS made before I was on it. For some I truly don’t know why they did what they did, some I can guess. But I can assure you that the reason that I ran for election is because I think we can come up with solutions for our community. I have a positive attitude generally and I know that there is no way to make everyone happy but like I said we probably agree more than we disagree, we just need to hear each other.
A LOADED SUPES AGENDA Monday
by Mark Scaramella
The Supervisors Agenda for next Monday’s Board meeting has several important issues for the Board to deal with.
Agenda Item 5a) “Discussion and Possible Action Including a Workshop on Water Supply Conditions in Mendocino County; and Approval of Implementation of a Drought Preparedness Campaign administered by the Mendocino County Resource Conservation District (Sponsors: Supervisor McGourty and Supervisor Mulheren). Recommended Action: Conduct workshop on water supply conditions in Mendocino County; and approve implementation of a Drought Preparedness Campaign administered by the Mendocino County Resource Conservation District.”
We’re in an obvious drought and what does Mendo do? Does Mendo consider a drought declaration? Of course not. They prefer the much softer approach: a workshop, and a “Drought Preparedness Campaign,” the details of which are yet to be determined, but they probably won’t include a drought declaration nor will any kind of mandatory conservation be brought up. (Nor will grapes, of course; pot water might be discussed though.)
Remember seven years ago, in 2014 when we were in less of a drought than we’re in in 2021, Mendo didn’t hesitate to declare a drought. At the January 2014 Supervisors meeting when the drought was declared no one, not even the vineyard controlled water districts in the Ukiah Valley, complained; in fact they supported it. The 2014 drought declaration meant that all the districts in the unincorporated areas of the County had to prepare their own conservation proposals and submit them to the County Water Agency. It’s not clear why in 2021 the same approach isn’t on the table.
* * *
Agenda Item 5b) “Discussion and Possible Action Including Presentation by California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Regarding Current and Future Impacts of Legal and Illegal Cannabis Cultivation in Mendocino County (Sponsors: Supervisor Haschak and Supervisor Williams)
In the accompanying charts the State Fish & Wildlife people declare:
“The proposed [Phase 3 cannabis] ordinance would permit cultivation on up to 10% of a given parcel over 10 acres in size in Rangeland (RL), Agricultural (AG), and Upland Residential (UR) zoning districts.
“The Mendocino County General Plan EIR states that both RL and AG zoning districts are commonly associated with oak woodlands, as well as other habitat types.
“Rangeland alone is estimated to make up approximately 735,000 acres of Mendocino County.
“Allowing development on 10% of large RL parcels poses a risk of significant cumulative habitat loss, based on this provision alone.”
The the F&W people also quote Mendo’s General Plan. (Apparently the State people are under the silly impression that Mendo’s General Plan is something more than an expensive, ignorable pile of paper the County had to pay a consultant to prepare but which has no discernible impact on County or Board decisions.) “Develop and implement a methodology to determine the supply and use of water in all the County’s watersheds.”
Oh right. Mendo has never moved a nanometer in the direction of “a methodology to determine the supply and use of water in all the County’s watersheds,” which would involve preparing a gaging ordinance (as they promised to do a few years ago but never took the necessary steps) and require all water districts and users to gage their pumps and wells so that conservation plans can be developed and then measured. Mendo will NEVER do anything like that, even in a severe drought.
The F&W people propose a “scaled down Phase 3” for cannabis, but do not specify what kinds of downscaling they’d prefer. The implication in their presentation is that there should at least be restrictions on the size of pot grows on rangeland, less than the controversial so called “10% rule” now being planned.
* * *
Agenda Item 5c) “Discussion and Possible Action Including Acceptance of Presentation Regarding Crisis Intervention Trainings (CIT) Provided in Mendocino County and Direction to Staff Regarding Possible Future Participation in Crisis Intervention Team International. (Sponsor: Health and Human Services Agency). Recommended Action: Accept presentation regarding Crisis Intervention Trainings (CIT) provided in Mendocino County and provide direction to staff regarding future participation in Crisis Intervention Team International.”
Will the HHSA people bring real numbers to the Board? Will the Board require such training to reduce legal liability for the next excessive force lawsuit?
* * *
Agenda Item 5f) “Discussion and Possible Direction Regarding Phase 1 Cannabis Permit Applications Including: (1) Encouraging Denial of Non-Compliant Phase 1 Cannabis Cultivation Applications; (2) Approving Increased Scope of Work for Existing Outside Counsel Abbott & Kindermann to Assist with Phase 1 Cannabis Cultivation Denials; (3) Obtaining Satellite Imagery Subscription for Cannabis Program and Code Enforcement with Budgetary Request Returning on Consent; (4) Requiring Phase 1 Cannabis Permit and Embossed Receipt Holders to Demonstrate State Provisional License or Attest to Non-Cultivation Within 45 days. (Sponsor: Supervisor Williams)”
Most of this is rehash. Except for “Satellite Imagery Subscription for Cannabis Program and Code Enforcement with Budgetary Request Returning on Consent.” Previous Boards have been reluctant to use satellite imagery for code enforcement citing privacy concerns. But given the current political climate, the Board may be serious this time. The agenda item does not mention the cost of the satellite imagery subscription nor the cost of proceeding with code enforcement wherever the satellite imagery leads.
* * *
Item 5g) “Discussion and Possible Action Including Direction to Staff Regarding Funded and Vacant Positions at the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office; and Sheriff Presentation on Specific Cannabis Enforcement Outcomes Board of Supervisors Can Expect with Positions Filled. (Sponsors: Supervisor Mulheren, Supervisor Williams, and Sheriff-Coroner)”
The last time a version of this came up (last year) Sheriff Kendall asked for $1 million to cover ten new deputies over the next three years. After some aimless discussion, the Board set up an ad hoc committee that was supposed to work up some data and charts which, Supervisor Williams claimed, would justify the additional positions that the State might fund. No charts are needed to make the obvious point that Round Valley needs additional law enforcement coverage. (Williams has stopped demanding data and charts for mental health before approving no-bid extention after no-bid extension of the Schraeder mental health contract; he said he had “capitulated” after CEO Angelo refused time and again to provide meaningful outcome information for the Schraders’ mental health contract approval. But he seems to think asking the Sheriff for justification is a priority.)
The Sheriff’s department is down to 25 deputies on patrol for round the clock shift coverage over the entire county. In the north sector — Willits, Laytonville, Covelo, etc. —and on the coast and in central Ukiah, there are two deputies and one sergeant per shift. Response times can be quite long.
Now the Sheriff’s staffing request has somehow morphed into some kind of “presentation” of “specific cannabis enforcement outcomes,” which again seems unnecessary. The outcomes we want are less crime in Covelo. Is Williams implying that he needs proof of that obvious problem? Is he saying that if the “outcomes” are not forthcoming he won’t support the increase later? Why not simply tell the Sheriff that they’ll fund his initial request and see how it goes? If the Sheriff can find a few new cops and house them in Round Valley, that would be a pretty good “outcome” right there.
CATCH OF THE DAY, April 9, 2021
JOSHUA BISHOP, Tacoma, Washington/Ukiah. Stolen vehicle.
SEAMUS DONOVAN, San Francisco/Ukiah. Taking vehicle without owner’s consent.
SHAYNE JONES, South Lake Tahoe/Ukiah. Probation revocation.
FRANCISCO LEMUS-NAVARRO, Ukiah. DUI.
ANAMARIA MEJIA, Ukiah. Stolen vehicle, receiving stolen property.
THOMMY NACE, Ukiah. County parole violation.
MARCOS RODRIGUEZ-TURNER, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
WILLIAM RYAN, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
RICHARD STONE JR. Fort Bragg. DUI-alcohol&drugs.
THE TWO FACES OF JOE BIDEN
by Matt Taibbi
On April Fool’s Day, CNN ran an “analysis” of Joe Biden’s presidency:
”Will JRB take his place alongside FDR and LBJ?”
CNN explained “JRB” had just unveiled a $2 trillion infrastructure plan “to boost ordinary working Americans rather than the wealthy,” a program that together with his $1.9 trillion Covid rescue doubles “as a bid to lift millions of Americans out of poverty.”
The news is like high school. One day, one kid comes in wearing Dior sneakers and Nike X Ambush pants, and two days later, that’s all you see in the halls. The “Biden-as-FDR” stories raced around News High, with headlines like “With nods to FDR, JFK and LBJ, Biden goes big on infrastructure plan.” (Yahoo!) and, “Can Biden achieve an FDR-style presidency? A historian sees surprising parallels” (Washington Post). Even the New Yorker’s naysaying take, “Is Biden Really the Second Coming of F.D.R. and L.B.J.?” read at first glance like an affirmation.
That this high-flown language came on the heels of Biden’s people whispering F.D.R. comparisons in the ears of reporters for weeks, and Biden himself calling his plan “a once-in-a-generation investment in America,” seemed not to bother anyone.
We live in a time when a president can be said to have “sharply cut poverty” the moment he signs a relief bill, so why not say, as CNN editorialists Stephen Collison and Caitlin Hu did, that this new bill’s passage would immediately allow Biden to “lay claim to a spot in the Democratic pantheon alongside Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson?” This would only be natural, they said, since “Scranton Joe” has long despaired over the silver spoon inequities of Donald Trump’s trickle-down economy:
”The President complained as he unveiled his plan in Pittsburgh -- the kind of gritty blue-collar city he loves -- that the top 1% saw their wealth rise by $4 trillion during the pandemic while millions of Americans lost jobs. ‘Just goes to show you how distorted and unfair our economy has become,’ Biden said. ‘Wasn't always this way. Well, it's time to change that’.”
Left unmentioned was that the same gritty, blue-collar president oversaw the TARP bailout, which resulted in a similar Trumpian windfall for the 1%. The richest saw their share of America’s wealth increase from 30% in 2010 to 39% in 2016. Median household net worth fell 34% from a peak in 2007 to the end of the Obama-Biden presidency, while banks in 2009 had the best year they would have until 2020, that “unfair” bailout year Biden complained about.
Pundits have long been working on revising that history. By last summer, the Atlantic was writing this about Biden’s management of the other bailout:
“Critics on the left faulted him and Obama for not making the stimulus package bigger (though keeping it below $1 trillion was the price of winning necessary Republican votes for its passage in the Senate).”
That’s just not true. Certainly, Republicans would have hammered Obama for a stimulus of any size, but Obama officials decided on those levels on their own. We’ve known this since 2012, when the New Yorker ran a piece outing the fact that Larry Summers advised the incoming president to prioritize deficit reduction over stimulus.
With a partisan divide wedded to a hyper-concentrated landscape, commercial media companies can now sell almost any narrative they want. They can disappear the past with relative ease, and the present can be pushed whichever way a handful of key decision-makers thinks will sell best with audiences.
In the case of Biden, we’ve seen in the first few months that the upscale, cosmopolitan target audiences of outlets like CNN, the New York Times, and the Washington Post want to believe they’re living through a “radical,” “transformative” presidency, the political antidote to the Trump years. The same crowd of West Wing power-tweeters was leading the charge against “purity” in politics about eight minutes ago.
In fact, in the 2019-2020 primary season, Bernie Sanders was regularly lambasted by the same blue-leaning press outlets for trying to re-imagine F.D.R. through programs with names like the “Green New Deal.” Proposal after proposal that had been directly inspired by F.D.R. was described as too expensive, unrealistic, or a political non-starter heading into a general election.
Now that the real version of that brand of politics has been safely eliminated, a new PR campaign is stressing that Democrats did elect F.D.R. after all. Moreover, a legend is being built that crime-bill signing, PATRIOT-Act inspiring, Iraq-war-humping Joe Biden wanted all along to be a radical progressive, but was held back by the intransigence of the evil Republicans. Is that even remotely true?
Observe, for instance, the hilarious Ezra Klein editorial that just ran in the New York Times, called “Four Ways to Look at the Radicalism of Joe Biden” (someone actually wrote that headline!)...
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SPANISH CIVIL WAR
JARVIS COULD JUMP over three orange crates; Jack Outwater had an uncle who had once seen a pirate; George Dugan could wiggle his ears; I could draw. I never thought much about it. A bunch of us kids would be sitting around on the stoop and somebody would say, "Let's go up to Amsterdam Avenue and look in the saloons." "Naw, we did that yesterday." Silence. "Say, Norm, draw something." So I'd draw a lion or a fire engine on the sidewalk with a piece of chalk. But it was just as likely that someone would ask George Dugan to wiggle his ears.
— Norman Rockwell, from "My Adventures as an Illustrator"
THE LAST TIME PEOPLE TRIED TO GET BASEBALL TO MOVE THE ALL-STAR GAME
by Dave Zirin
In 2021, Major League Baseball defied decades of entrenched conservatism within its ruling ranks and moved the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta, Ga., to Denver, Colo. The GOP is still reeling from this decision, reduced to claiming—I kid thee not—that baseball is a part of a global communist conspiracy. But the question that lingers is why. Why has baseball defied its own culture to make such a move?
One way to understand it is to look back a decade ago, to the last time there was a public push to move the MLB All-Star Game. Back then, all eyes were on Arizona. The state’s governor, Jan Brewer, signed SB 1070, the “papers please” bill, into law on April 23, 2010. The law in its worst form would have not only given law enforcement the right to ask anyone for their immigration papers; it would have criminalized citizens who had any knowledge of undocumented people in the midst but did not report them. It was brutal. It was ugly. And the sports world took note, both on and off the field.
In the National Basketball Association, the Phoenix Suns played a playoff game against the San Antonio Spurs on May 1, a day of international solidarity, wearing shirts that read Los Suns. The game was accompanied by an immigrant rights march on the arena as well as statements of political support for all immigrants by Suns players like Steve Nash and announcers like Charles Barkley.
But it was in baseball that the sparks really flew. Fans and activists marched at stadiums around the country in late summer and fall of 2010, demanding that MLB move the 2011 All-Star Game out of Arizona. Banners were unfurled at stadiums. At Nationals Park, two people ran onto the field holding a banner that, as reported on ESPN, read, “”Bud Selig Move All Star Game No SB 1070,” while a picket went on outside the stadium’s gates. Even a small group of players in the very conservative world of baseball spoke out. Given MLB’s dependence on Latin American talent, many thought that Selig would buckle and move the game. Despite all the pressure, he did not.
To state the obvious, 2021 is an entirely different ballgame. Before one picket could be announced, before players could meet and devise their own strategies, before the media could question everyone in the baseball world about whether the game should move, MLB decided on its own that it wasn’t worth the headache and got the hell out.
I spoke to three activists who worked in 2010–11 to get the All-Star Game moved. Here are their thoughts about what has changed.
Enrique Morones, the San Diego Padres’ VP for Latino and International Marketing from 1995-2001, is the founder and executive director of Gente Unida, a nonprofit with the mission to defend human rights along the border. Morones believes that “racism in baseball has a long history, but when it pertains to Latinos, we are often ignored.… In general, Latino voices are just not respected well beyond baseball. Just look at lack of Latino leadership in industries overall. I watch the Today show, and there are no Latino anchors. When CNN talks about race, it’s about black and white. Our voices and experience are ignored. I am a huge supporter of BLM. But I can see that when George Floyd was killed by four police officers in Minnesota, there were international matches. When Anastacio Hernandez was killed by 12 border law enforcement officers, there was no national outrage.” Morones argues that if we understand the marginalization of the Latinx community, then we can understand why some social justice calls get more traction than others, especially when one of the motors for change are the bottom-line considerations of corporate America.
When Washington played the Arizona Diamondbacks 11 years ago, Gustavo Andrade ran onto the Nationals Park field to protest SB 1070. “My heart was filled with pride in all of us movement folks when I heard the All-Star Game was to be moved from Georgia,” he told me.”The progressive movement has come a long way since 2010. We have managed to, in just a few short years, organize a critical mass of the general public to take a stand for the welfare of Black and brown people as we fight for our lives. So what’s different today? Back in 2010, the very idea that sports and popular culture presented organizers with a vehicle to raise critical questions about the nature of our system was met with derision from shortsighted leaders in media, government and even mainstream advocacy groups. ‘Stick to sports’ and ‘Shut up and dribble’ were the consensus positions of the day. That consensus has radically changed since 2010 and we are better for it. However, the last decade’s protests by athletes wasn’t the key that changed public perception: It was the millions of people who marched, protested and organized from Phoenix to Ferguson to Baltimore and everywhere in between over the last decade who have changed the world. Corporate America is now afraid of us. Let’s show them they’re right to be scared.”
Another longtime activist, who asked not to be named, told me, “It’s a different world. We’ve had the Black Lives Matter movement. We’ve had a racist in chief in Donald Trump polarize everything. We’ve had the George Floyd protests last summer. This is a whole new generation at the front of the march for change. Major League Baseball and these other corporations are finally putting their fingers in the air and seeing which way the wind is blowing. They want to connect with this younger generation, not with voter suppression, backlash, and bigotry.”
Yes, times have changed. As anti-immigrant and anti-voting bills spread through other Republican-led state legislatures, Major League Baseball will have to decide which side it is on. Passivity will undoubtedly be met with action. Fans and a new generation of players are going to make it too expensive for the owners to sit on the bench.
I BEGAN MY CAREER as a country squire with nothing but a high heart, a flask of citronella, and a long fork for toasting marshmallows in case supplies ran low. In a scant fifteen years I have acquired a superb library of mortgages, mostly first editions, and the finest case of sacroiliac known to science. In that period I also made several important discoveries. The first was that there are no chiggers in an air-conditioned movie, and second that a corner delicatessen at dusk is more exciting than any rainbow. In fact on a fine night, no matter how fragrant the scent of the nicotiana, I can smell the sharp pungency of a hot corned-beef sandwich all the way from New York.
— S.J. Perelman, 1942; from "Acres and Pains"
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
In other news, Prince Philip, the Queen’s husband is dead at 99. He once said he would like to be reincarnated as a deadly virus so he could kill a few hundred million people (since there are too many people in the world). What a lovely, gracious thought about those who supported him in a long life of luxury. He certainly deserves to have the next pandemic named in his honor.
HOW THIS MORE CONTAGIOUS VIRUS VARIANT became dominant in the U.S.
The B.1.1.7 strain is spreading among adults and kids, and experts say that's another reason to get vaccinated, fast.
MAN'S CONDITION is tragic, for he no longer finds fulfillment in life's simple values. For animals, life is all there is; for man, life is a question mark. An irreversible question mark, for man has never found, nor will ever find, any answers. Life not only has no meaning; it can never have one.
— Emil Cioran
WILL AMERICA SURVIVE JOE BIDEN?
by James Kunstler
If you want to understand the complete failure of moral authority in America, seek no further than the gothic doings of the Biden family, especially now that the President’s degenerate son, Hunter, has been rewarded with a $2-million advance-against royalties (i.e., money up-front) from Simon & Schuster, and a gala publicity tour of the national news media designed to conceal his criminal culpability in evidence contained on the “laptop from hell” that he stupidly abandoned in a Delaware repair shop while lurching through his daily doings on one of countless drug jags he’s enjoyed between rehabs since his dad stepped back into national politics.
The failure is shared by a national news media that refuses to scrutinize the obvious financial crimes documented on the laptop, the FBI, which sat on the laptop through the months of Trump Impeachment No. One — while the computer contained evidence of Hunter’s grifting and money-laundering directly benefiting “the Big Guy,” Joe Biden, at issue in the impeachment — and the Department of Justice, which has been sitting on its hands pretending to conduct an investigation into all this.
The moral darkness of the family is beyond Shakespearean. It ranges from fantastically sordid personal indecencies like Hunter posting drug-fueled selfie sex videos with whores on the PornHub website, to intimations of lewd consort with his teenage niece, to the admitted fact of him bird-dogging his dead brother’s wife, Hallie… and into financial misdeeds that suggest Hunter sold out his country by peddling Joe Biden’s favor to agents of the Chinese communist party and other foreign nations. This body of unresolved allegations haunts the House of Biden like some stinking dead animal decaying under the Oval Office floorboards that everyone pretends not to notice.
Most recently, in a striking instance of in-your-face duplicity, Joe Biden announced his new crusade against gun ownership the same week that credible evidence surfaced that Hunter had obtained a .38 caliber handgun by lying on the application about his drug use — well-documented in his discharge record from the Navy Reserve (for failing a cocaine blood test), as well as his repeat visits to drug rehab clinics. In 2018, it happened that his then-paramour, Hallie Biden, fearing for his behavior, took the gun from Hunter’s car and tossed it in a dumpster outside a Wilmington food market. Directly afterward, the Secret Service office in Wilmington went to the gun-shop, StarQuest Shooters & Survival Supply, to ask for the forms Hunter had filled out and signed to buy the gun, which itself was never recovered. Incidentally, the Secret Service had no security detail assigned to Joe Biden or his family at the time — Joe was out-of-office and not yet a candidate for president — plus, the Secret Service has no authority to investigate gun records, a duty of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF). What was going on with all that? Do you think AG Merrick Garland might be asking around the DOJ building?
The gross failure of federal authority, and abuse of authority, in this land is an ongoing process. You can date it back to wherever you like — say, to all the confusion and deception around the JFK assassination, or even further — but it had never been so broad, so deep, and so blatant as when Donald Trump became a candidate and all the resources of the CIA, DOJ, and the FBI were marshaled against him in the phony operations that became RussiaGate. Now, under Joe Biden, the system is entirely poisoned and corrupt.
Hunter is supposedly under investigation by the DOJ for tax fraud. Is that all? Are they not curious at all about the imputation of Chinese influence over decision-making in Joe Biden’s White House? Apparently, China paid for the influence it now enjoys. Millions of ordinary American citizens have seen the actual record, screen-captured from Hunter’s laptop, of email correspondence that details the many deals and payments made by Chinese companies run by the CCP to Hunter’s various shell corporations, as well as the memos between Hunter and his partners breaking down the payment schedule among Biden family members, including “the Big Guy.”
Is there not some larger — very large — question as to how this Manchurian Candidate with failing mental capacities, seemingly run by other figures in the shadows, came to be installed at the head of our government? The USA will not survive as a nation unless we seek to find out.
MEMO OF THE AIR: GOOD NIGHT RADIO Friday night! Live from Franklin Street.
Hi. Marco here. Deadline to email your writing for tonight's (Friday night's) MOTA show is around 6pm. After that, send it whenever it's ready, up to 7pm Friday next week, and I'll take care of it then. There's always another time. There's no pressure.
I'll be in KNYO's Franklin Street studio for tonight's show, again. The phone works great there. If you want to call and read your work in your own voice, the number is (707) 962-3022. I will neither coddle nor ambush you. You will not be asked what you're wearing. I know what you're wearing; I can see you.
Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio is every Friday, 9pm to 5am on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg as well as anywhere else via http://airtime.knyo.org:8040/128 (That's the regular link to listen to KNYO in real time, any time.)
And any time of any day or night you can go to https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com and hear last week's MOTA show. By Saturday night the recording of tonight's show will also be there, in the latest post, right on top.
As if that weren't enough, also at https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com there's an assortment of amusing little numbers you can hambone to until showtime, not to mention between shows, among items such as:
A message from Humane Society International.
"What could be more refreshing than Newport menthol cigarets?" And "Treat your taste kindly with Kent, the only cigaret with the /micronite filter/." Just by the way, micronite was powdered asbestos. Also we learn here that every York cigaret has the word YORK printed on the side, so people notice what you're smoking when you smoke a York, the woman across the room in the Goa'uld-tank jacuzzi restaurant, for example, who is hot for you and signaling her desire to arrange an assignation by rolling her eyes and smoking her own delicious York.
And a heavy metal-ized pig calling contest. The woman with the pony-keg upper arms is the absolute queen of this sport. Honestly, she could quit her job and make a living at it, and buy a house.
Marco McClean, email@example.com