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Mendocino County Today: Sunday, April 11, 2021

Northerlies | Structure Fire | Hotel Lunch | Job Openings | Telecommunicators Week | Middle Earthing | Wine Tour | Library Nonsense | Nibble First | Ukiah Roundabout | 1890 Home | Critical Gaps | Evolution Impetus | Ed Notes | PD Failure | 1880 Urchins | Mama Tree | Rodeo Warning | Illegal Cultivation | Fair Poster | Grapes 1873 | Subway Kiss | Tax Sharing | Yesterday's Catch | Reese Erlich | Gender Race | Private Security | Pole Assist | Bounce Back | Marco Radio | Barkley Explains | Chomsky Interview

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GUSTY NORTHERLY WINDS are expected again this afternoon and evening along the coast and these will continue through Tuesday. Otherwise, mostly clear skies with cool nights and mild to warm days are expected. (NWS)

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STRUCTURE FIRE NEAR LAYTONVILLE

This afternoon [Saturday], Laytonville Fire Department and other firefighters are responding to a fully involved structure fire nine miles northwest of Laytonville on a plot of land known as the Bowman Ranch. Ammunition is “going off at the residence,” as reported by the dispatcher to responding fire personnel. Scanner reports indicate the structure is engulfed in flames and the fire is spreading into nearby vegetation.

kymkemp.com/2021/04/10/laytonvillefire/

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FROM THE BOONVILLE HOTEL & Restaurant:

Perry is serving up a proper lunch, Sundays from 12-2ish. It’s an a la carte menu, all served at a nice social distance in the courtyard. Give us a call to save your table 707-895-2210. Hope to see you here soon!

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HELP WANTED

Queenie’s Job Openings

Come to work at a great restaurant. Queenie’s (Elk) is looking for a part time waitperson. Monday's and Friday's. Busperson for Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Please email at queenie@mcn.org or call 877-3285.

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TELECOMMUNICATORS WEEK

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MIDDLE EARTH IN MENDOCINO

by Cat Spydell

We are a family of Tolkien geeks.

It all started in Comptche back in the early 90s. As a newlywed couple my ex-husband Mike and I moved onto Flynn Creek Road to build a retirement home out of a shack on a hillside for his mom Joyce and stepdad D’Arcy. When I say the place was sparse, I mean it: no running water, no electricity, no phone, and a very scary spider-filled outhouse way too far away down a steep hill (think Shelob, the giant Hobbit-eating spider. If she were alive and well in Comptche, she would live there). The only other thing in the cabin aside from some old reclining chairs was a rickety bookshelf. On that shelf were some marine knot demo books, fishing instruction manuals, and three books I had somehow never read before, a trilogy: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (LOTR). The books that would change my life and the lives of my kids in curious ways.

That first summer was spent building pathways and a road to the cabin, and learning how to retrieve water on the side of the Comptche-Ukiah Road at the trough. Our only water came from the trickling pipe out of the hillside just east of the 6.22 mile marker. Our shower was a tall metal bucket up on the porch with a spigot at the bottom and a flat piece of wood to stand on below it: You had to lather up first or you wouldn’t make yourself endure the cold stream from above (ice-water swimming triathlete Wim Hof would have been proud). All stated to imply that while reading the LOTR books, I could completely relate to the plight of ease-seeking hobbits building fires to cook on and “roughing it” outside of their usual comfort levels.

We had hung up a hammock and during down times I would sway under the redwoods and read all those books on the shelf, starting with The Fellowship of the Ring. I was working on my Master’s thesis at the time and was probably one of the first “telecommuters” at California State University, Long Beach. I had taken all of my classes but I was still writing my thesis project in Comptche. I had arranged to travel the 535 miles to the CSULB English Lit department every couple of months to meet up with my mostly male professors and “check in” about my somewhat feminist-themed creative writing project. As I read The Fellowship of the Ring that first time, I was admittedly quite the snob. The female characters were shallow at best, and too few. Like a passing necessity. I grew frustrated with the lack of woman power in Tolkien’s work. And if I had a dime for every time Tolkien shifted character point-of-view, I would have a lot of dimes. Mike can attest I would often stop and read a sentence aloud and say, “Did you hear that? He was just in Frodo’s POV, and now he is thinking as a dwarf! Who does that?” And so that summer went as I muddled through the books.

However, as I read more, I grew more appreciative of the writing and style and craft of the books as time marched on. A nagging thought kept going through my mind: This story should be a movie. Thank you Peter Jackson, because I was starting to take notes to write a LOTR script once I realized the trilogy hadn’t been properly translated onto the screen, except as cartoons. (Note: True enthusiasts must go find the 1991 Soviet version of Lord of the Rings on YouTube. Yes, it’s in Russian and yes, the special effects of 1991 shoe-string budget Russia are minimal at best, but any true LOTR Geek must indulge themselves in the pleasure of knowing more about this “Lost Version” of Lord of the Rings!).

I think it must be because we didn’t have television and the only radio we had was the Philo station KZYX, and so I was only thinking about my own thesis and Tolkien, aside from listening to our usual radio shows (like “Lunch on the Back Porch”). I spent a lot of time in the hammock trying to avoid being in the way during the beginning of the shack’s construction process. As I wrote my thesis, Lord of the Rings characters and events also grew in my mind. I soon discovered, but wait, there’s more: I checked out other books from the Fort Bragg library and soon re-read The Hobbit and discovered The Silmarillion, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, and all the published Tolkien letters, and learned of Tolkien’s connection to the author of the Narnian series, C.S. Lewis. (In his diary, C.S. Lewis wrote upon meeting Tolkien that the “smooth, pale, fluent little chap” had “no harm in him: only needs a smack or so”).

Next I read the Narnian series because of the Lewis/Tolkien connection. I was in book dweeb heaven that first year in Mendocino, pouring over all the literature about and by Tolkien that I could get my hands on. I learned that Tolkien was more of a philologist than writer, a lover of language and nuance of words. Around that time I learned how to pronounce the Welsh word “llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch” (the name of a Welsh town) when my dear friend Tempest, who was living in Wales, came to visit us in Comptche and taught me to say it. (Pronouncing that word is my best ‘bar trick’— ask me if you see me and I’ll say it for you). Learning to say that word gave me a great respect for the Welsh language, and taught me where Tolkien found much of his inspiration for his Sindarin, or Elvish, language. I continued studying Tolkien over the years, and later when we started a family, I read snippets of The Hobbit to my two kids before bedtime.

In 2001 The Fellowship of the Ring movie hit theaters. I saw it opening night, and though it was more violent than I had hoped (those orcs were pretty hideous), I took my then-8-year-old son Kodiak to see it, and eventually my daughter Cassidy, two years younger, saw it as well, at home. It sparked something in us all. Around the same time we also started attending the annual Renaissance Faire, dressing up in medieval clothes when we went. My friend Jolie, along with her husband Michael and two kids (Carson and Chloe) who were about the same age as my kids, were also LOTR and Ren Faire geeks. We started having weekly outings with them where we would shoot bows and arrows in the canyon as we all learned archery together. As a horse person, I even started taking jousting lessons. I also took weekly lessons in swordfighting from a Ren Faire actor named Billy the Barbarian (Celtic broadsword, not wimpy ‘en garde’ fencing), so we practiced that as well on the front lawn, the kids touting wooden swords (everyone soon quickly learned to keep their hands out of the way of incoming sword jabs).

And so it began. Soon we had found a local costume designer and all of us had LOTR Elven costumes made. We created Elvish names for ourselves (like Sindawen for Cassidy, meaning Fair Maiden, and Romendal, which meant “uprising foot” for Carson, the dancer). We began studying Sindarin, and learned the language of Elves. We had Elven Dinners and created and changed the wine bottle labels to show the best vintage the Shire had to offer, as well as creating a menu listing Elven-style salads and Hobbitish main courses. We could parse together basic sentences in the Elf tongue and all of us could sing A Galad ven i renier — you know. That Elf song the elves sing as they walk through the forest leaving Rivendell in the first movie.

We had created our own little reality in anticipation of the Spring Ren Faire coming up. We “became” the Elven characters we invented, so by the time the Ren Faire came around, we were ready: We spent an inordinate amount of time putting our outfits together, and we had hand-made our jewelry, decorated our wooden swords and made fake arrows and quivers to wear. We had practiced staying aloof among the world of Man. We of course all had legitimate-looking costume ears that we applied with Spirit Gum adhesive we bought off the internet. As we entered the Faire, it was no doubt who we were: Elves of Rivendell.

Our debut was a success as we mastered the archery and swordfighting booths, and other fair-goers seemed to know who we were because we only spoke in the Elvish tongue that day to outsiders. Word got around to the point that when the Queen of the Renaissance Faire came through on her litter with her procession of courtiers, she stopped in front of us. “I had heard we are graced by the company of Elves this fine day. Welcome,” she said to us. We all bowed our practiced Elven bow to her in response, inwardly thrilled but outwardly the seven of us staying in character.

I know that day of our Elven debut stuck with my kids. Our Tolkien love affair continued: Every New Year’s Day for several years we would watch ALL the LOTR movies, the extended versions. It took over 12 hours but we knew how to do it, by having our snacks prepared ahead of time, and timing our breaks.

As the kids grew older, LOTR was still an underlying theme and a big part of our lives: Cassidy, who grew up as a competitive ice skater, skated to LOTR songs from the movie in Middle Earth-inspired costumes for shows and at competitions. She would as an adult eventually get five LOTR tattoos: first the Misty Mountains as drawn by Tolkien himself, then above it the dragon Smaug, followed by the words “Not All Who Wander Are Lost” written in Elvish runes above that, and Arwen’s Evenstone, and the White Tree of Gondor. Kodiak collected LOTR-inspired T-Shirts, and played the LOTR games on GameBoy (“I enjoyed killing giant spiders,” he recently told me, although at home, he was our spider catcher and instructed to take them outside). We both played the Vivendi CD game on the computer, but I only lasted a couple weeks or so (too many spiders, not enough elves). Now as adults pushing 30 they both happen to be in relationships with lovely people who are also LOTR fans. What more could a LOTR-geek mother want?

We still share news of new Tolkien works (Kodiak was the one who recently told me about the lost Soviet film) and funny LOTR memes, and we all understand the hidden jokes too well. When I moved back a couple years ago to Philo on a remote piece of land, I named it Dragonwood with a nod to Smaug and other dragons I know well. There are LOTR-inspired areas here: The main house is Elvenwood, there is a creepy old tumble-down shack called Orcville, there is Elf Song Pond, and a sign by the (not-scary) outhouse points to the Misty Mountains. Rohan is a flat space down the road and unbelievably, we have a burned out redwood grove tree that resembles the domain of Sauron, the Dark Tower, right by the outhouse, which gives it a secondary dark meaning. Our dogs have LOTR names; Nienna and Lindon from the Silmarillion, and Aragorn, the king. Years ago our pony came with the name Dale, which we thought was a good omen, since the men of the town of Dale in Middle Earth were known to be brave and strong, just like our sturdy large pony. I found out our lovely neighbors Nancy and Bill also have many LOTR-inspired names for places on their Philo property, so maybe there’s something in the water — or maybe it’s just the beauty of the redwood forest all around us, that inspires such fun fantasy.

And so it is my family’s many-year love affair with all things Tolkien; mystical, honorable and true, began in Comptche three decades ago, and it will likely carry on, or ramble on, if you will, for many years and generations to come.

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Wine Tour, Italian Swiss Colony, 1940s

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TOXIC TOMES?

Editor,

The Point Arena Library, the only one around (on the Coast), has reopened after a year of closure: 25% capacity, three afternoons a week, no magazines, papers, no sitting, i.e., not a real library. However, we are assured that “all returned items will be quarantined for approximately three days before returned to the shelves.” Where, oh where, is the evidence that anyone, anywhere ever got covid off a book?

Meanwhile, during that very year, most Mendocino County residents shopped in grocery stores, touched many items there, returned them to the shelves where they remained for the next person to touch.

They have shopped perhaps in Costco in Santa Rosa, maybe Target, who knows where else? Same policy: Items can be touched, then returned to the shelves. Many have visited doctors offices where they were able to sit and wait, albeit at some sort of distance from others; many will have dined outside and now inside.

However, our library, on which many of our poorer neighbors depend since they cannot just order books from Amazon as I did when I became frustrated with our library, has remained closed, offering no services and now offering pitiful ones despite no recent covid deaths in our county, few new infections and no outbreaks.

During this year, I was even unable to return a borrowed book either in person to the library or to the return box outside of it, which remained stubbornly locked. Why?

How long will we treat our population as imbeciles who do not know yet how the virus is transmitted and the commonsense measures they can take to protect themselves such as handwashing after they return from a shopping/library trip? 

Enough. Open our library which is run by public funds. Insist on masks if you wish; limit the number of people inside if you wish, but stop the other nonsense. Enough is enough. This library belongs to us all.

Doris Meier

Gualala

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MY KIND OF TOWN, UKIAH IS

by Tommy Wayne Kramer

Support for a traffic roundabout at Bush and Low Gap seems confined to those who work in government, which is sufficient cause for skepticism among the rest of us.

City officials recently resurrected plans for the roundabout, a novelty at any intersection but funny and/or dangerous at Bush and Low Gap Roads. Among the perils: 

1) Little tots with big backpacks, none traffic savvy, staggering toward Frank Zeek Elementary School from numerous directions blindly following herds of other children in whatever direction the kid directly in front is going. All the while cars, buses, motorcycles and RVs spin circles around them. 

2) Teenagers who got their driver’s license two weeks ago revving 450 horsepower 4WD truck engines.

3) Harried parents with kids yammering in back, already late for work, cars lining up and converging on the roundabout from four directions at once with no one obligated to stop.

4) Cop cars zipping up and down Low Gap Road, sometimes fast.

Why not a crossing guard? Was there a problem with the nice lady with the dark bangs who directed traffic smoothly and efficiently for a decade or more? I recall zero accidents during her tenure at the job, and by golly I wish I knew her name. She deserves a bronze memorial plaque embedded in her honor on that corner.

FREE SHIPPING?

My first visit to Costco since it opened and I was stunned both by the size of the place (you could tuck Anton Stadium into a corner) and by the absurd $12.99 price tag on a set of men’s blue jeans. 

I assume these trousers get imported from a land so far distant that mailing a postcard from there to Ukiah would cost $12.98 in stamps.

SATELLITE BANKS REDUX

A long time ago, unless you’re my age and it seems like a couple summers back, the Savings Bank of Mendocino County launched a bold expansion plan.

It was the early or mid-‘80s and all of a sudden SBMC was installing little satellite branches all over town. You’d drive to work one morning and when you drove home a shiny new Savings Bank branch had sprouted at the corner of, say, North State Street and Low Gap Road. Or down on East Perkins just this side of Pear Tree Plaza.

Or else you’d go over to Janway Ford, and by the time it took to buy an Escort or Tempo, the Savings Bank would have built and opened a cool new circular-shaped office right across the street.

You had to wonder, and I often did: How was life made easier for Savings Bank customers with the addition of these new offices, all about a 90-second drive from the downtown headquarters? How much were profits increased for the bank when it spent many millions to surround itself with branches so close together you could walk from one to the others over your lunch break, including stopping for a sandwich at the Model Bakery? A branch in Redwood Valley was smart; a branch on South State Street was redundant

Once built the mini-banks all required tellers, bosses, cleaning crews and someone to count the money, arrange the loans and lock the doors at night. 

It seemed doomed at the time, and as events unfolded even people at the Savings Bank arrived at the same conclusion. The office at State and Low Gap is now Lefty’s Used Car Sales, the one on East Perkins morphed into a Sizzler Restaurant and now is part of the Adventist Hospital octopus, and over near Redwood Ford stands the home of Be Bop Hamburgers. 

It must have been a colossal failure. And yet, lo and behold, it appears one of those If-you-don’t-learn-from-history-you-will-build-a-bank-near-Walmart syndromes. And another bank across from somewhere else. Here they go again.

Why not a branch in Boonville, where there hasn’t been a bank in 30 or 40 years and where there’s more money per capita than anywhere in the county?

SPENDING SPREE

Now is the time to spend wildly, tip lavishly, and send Letters to the Editor carefully printed on $50 bills. The tourniquet’s loosened, the spigots are On and the economy our leaders have worked so tirelessly to destroy is semi-free to recover.

No one “earned” those stimulus checks anyway, so have a contest to see who can spend their money fastest on your block.

(Just as Tom Hine announced his undying love for the Oakland A’s after a lifetime devoted to the (newly Woke) Cleveland Indians, the A’s opened the season with their worst in Oakland history. It’s his magic touch, and for $10, TWK promises he’ll not declare allegiance to your favorite team.)

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Spencer Home, Cloverdale, 1890s

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THE UKIAH CITY COUNCIL press release on the Magdaleno incident talks about their plans for doing an independent investigation at some length and then adds:

“…we believe this incident demonstrates the critical gaps that exist in the community regarding mental health and addiction resources. Despite the fact that the City of Ukiah does not receive funding for or have jurisdiction over mental health or addiction support services, our Police Department is called upon to respond to crisis situations involving these issues. We believe there needs to be community-wide solutions for addressing these challenges so that police engagement can be avoided where possible. Citizens countywide overwhelmingly passed Measure B specifically to improve the County’s mental health programs and facilities – we look forward to collaborating with the County to utilize Measure B funds to directly support first responders throughout our county. We acknowledge the attention on this challenge and will be pushing for more meaningful and expedited solutions.

“Our desire to seek better mental health resources in no way undermines our commitment to a full, fair and independent investigation of the police conduct on April 1st. We are committed to accountability and transparency, including a review of the procedures that are in place for our police department, as we move through the next steps with that investigation.”

Every so often, particularly when some incident occurs, the City of Ukiah fires off a letter to the County, complaining about the County’s failure to provide County-level services that cities are not funded or authorized to provide such as homeless, mental illness or drug rehab. 

Last April, for example, in the wake of the oversized homeless encampment near the Airport in South Ukiah which observers thought might be a covid hot-spot, Ukiah City Manager Sage Sangiacomo told the Supervisors that the County’s “piecemeal approaches are not enough. Without Public Health oversight, there is a strong possibility of more harm.” Sangiacomo asked the County to appoint a point-person for homeless services that the City could work with and establish an ad hoc committee of City Council members and Supervisors. Nothing was done. The homeless people were herded over to the Ukiah Fairgrounds where Supervisor McCowen personally arranged for a porta-potty and a hand-washing station. Supervisor Carre Brown at the time went so far as to blame Ukiah cops for the homeless camp expansion, saying that Ukiah cops should have broken it up sooner before it got to approximately 60 or so people.

If the City of Ukiah was serious they’d make a constant and ongoing issue of the County’s many failures which do in fact leave Ukiah cops to deal with the many unhelped persons on the streets of Ukiah, including the Magdaleno incident. Ukiah could invite mental health director Dr. Jenine Miller to one of their meetings and put her on the spot about the “critical gaps” that they say they’re worried about and which lead to the crises on Ukiah streets that the cops have to deal with. Ukiah’s representative on the Measure B committee, Deputy City Manager Shannon Riley, could require meaningful and urgent status reports on what’s taking so long to get the crisis van (aka “mobile crisis unit”) up and running. 

It’s kind of like gun violence in America. Everybody bemoans it when it occurs, but even minimal improvements are somehow beyond our current officials. The 35-member “Continuum of Care” wobbles on as usual, worrying more about their own funding than the homeless people they’re supposed to be helping. Measure B might even get Camille Schraeder’s little $5 million Crisis Residential Treatment motel going over on Orchard Street that might help a few clients, but not the unreimbursable street people. The “critical gaps” will remain, and when the next “crisis” hits Ukiah, they’ll write another letter trying to shift as much of the blame as they can to the County and its failed helping agencies.

(Mark Scaramella)

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ED NOTES

FROM KTVU: “It is unclear if the woman was targeted for her race; still, it's yet another incident of violence against members of the Asian community in the Bay Area. A neighbor who witnessed the robbery from across the street told KTVU that another, similar incident took place just a few weeks earlier targeting another Asian woman.”

STREET MUGGINGS in San Francisco of vulnerable people of all ethnicities have been a fact of Frisco life since the middle 1960s. Even I, a lumbering young lout still in his twenties, would be sized up by street thugs when I walked home late at night from my cab driving headquarters at 8th and Townsend to my Chinatown apartment at Stockton and Sacramento. I carried a nifty little Beretta .22 at the time, my occupation being an unusually hazardous one. The diff now is that thugs are often motorized, cruising the streets at all hours looking for vics. Spotting one, a thug leaps out from a stolen or disguised vehicle to grab what he can from likely prospects. (BTW, the open air criminality on Market Street from 6th up to around Polk, features Guatamalan drug dealers, who get a free pass because of San Francisco's “Sanctuary City” status. All of this is what life looks like in a country that has lost its way.)

KATE COLEMAN, from her 2002 article called, “The Ghosts of Hoover Tangle with Earth First (and lose”): “.....But one FBI source hooted that idea down, saying derisively, “Judi Bari was not a danger to the United States; she wasn’t even a blip on the radar. No lefties are. They’re rich kids who run home to their parents for lawyers the minute they’re arrested. I’ll tell you who’re the most dangerous people — it’s the right wing. I’ve lost three friends and colleagues over the years — and to whom? Right wingers. They’re the threat. The idea that we targeted these environmental lefties is ludicrous.”

WHICH is about right, but Dave Foreman's Earth First! was a big blip on the FBI's screen and, I'm confident, EF! on the Northcoast was a large enough blip that the feds set up a 60's style listening post called the Mendocino Environment Center in a building owned by John McCowen at 106 West Standley Street, Ukiah, conveniently across the street from the County Courthouse. EF! was assumed to be involved in what is called industrial sabotage, a federal crime, which Bari and Darryl Cherney advocated then claimed they hadn't. 

Redwood Summer, organized by Bari, would presumably draw industrial sabs from all over the country to the Northcoast where Bari, the Fagin-like feminist, would dispatch them to destroy logging equipment. Of course the FBI was keeping an eye on all this and who knows how many local snitches they had helping them out. Then Bari was partially blown up in Oakland, and saving the redwoods became a long, lucrative campaign Bari and Cherney lived nicely off for years to sue the FBI and the Oakland PD for, essentially, false arrest. Bari and Cherney promised if they won a settlement, the money invested in their case by coast-to-coast pwog-dupes, they would plant a whole lotta trees. The Feds managed somehow to lose to Bari and Cherney who walked away with $4.4 million in winnings, Cherney bought a dope farm outside Garberville, Bari's two daughters became millionaires, Bari told journalist Steve Talbot that her ex-husband, Mike Sweeney, had bombed her, and Bari died of her injuries seven years after Sweeney had done it. Not a single tree was ever planted, even in her memory.

THE WEASEL-LIPPED piece of insincerity published recently by the Press Democrat (appended below) said editorially that the paper regretted not getting on to the big Foppoli story when the paper first heard about it. Foppoli is mayor of Windsor, vintner, alleged rapist. The paper can win a non-controversial Pulitzer when a natural disaster strikes, but squelches its own reporters when they tried to write about Sonoma County's infamous chomo, Bishop Ziemann; refused to cover the winery death of Taylor Atkins because of Williams-Selyem negligence even after that negligence was confirmed by CAL-OSHA (the winery paid a $6400 fine for the kid's death); the paper ignored the firing of talented talk hostess Pat Thurston from KSRO because powerful people resented her opinions; and turned a blind eye to any serious Bari bombing follow-up in the immediate aftermath of that mega-suspicious episode. And, because a huge hunk of their advertising comes from the wine industry, never a story about wine labor, housing, chemical use, water policy.

PD REPORTER Mike Geniella, who covered Mendo for the PD at the time, could have puzzled out who was responsible for the bombing if he'd been assigned to do it. With his local contacts, plus a full-time investigator (of the DA's Bailey-Alvarado tenacity), could have wrapped that story up in a month. Instead, it remains a “mystery.” Unfortunately, the last real editor the PD has had, Art Volkerts, had retired by 1990, and Geniella had been removed from reporting on any timber-related story. The PD waits until a big story is out there then, if the story is safe enough for them, rides down out of the hills to shoot the wounded. 

FROST FANS roared on in Boonville, waking me about 5 this morning (Saturday) although no frost was observed here at the ava.

DA EYSTER took a fall Wednesday about noon while crossing Perkins at State as he headed south to the County parking lot on the other side of the brewery. A casualty of Ukiah's endless street construction or his own failing agility? And since the DA was headed to the area of the brewery and not from when he fell, he was not submitted to a breathalyzer. Joking aside, Mendo's lead law enforcement officer fractured his left arm in two places - elbow and wrist. but he was back at it the next day doing jury selection for an upcoming trial. 

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WEASEL LIPPING, A PROSE CLASSIC

A statement about The Press Democrat’s handling of the Dominic Foppoli story

Richard A. Green, The Press Democrat

April 9, 2021, 3:17PM

Dear Press Democrat readers: This is Richard Green, editor of our newsroom and chief content officer at Sonoma Media Investments, our parent company.

I have been editor here for about six weeks and obviously have been monitoring your comments related to this Dominic Foppoli scandal. I felt it was important for me to share some thoughts.

First off, I am so proud of this news organization’s longstanding commitment to readers like you and to our community – from our Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the tragic wildfires to raising more than $30 million for those who lost homes and precious possessions during the 2017 Tubbs Fire. Nothing is more important to us than defending the First Amendment and delivering revelatory content that holds our most powerful to account while protecting Northern California’s most vulnerable.

On the heels of Thursday’s blockbuster report about Foppoli, it is clear there was a failure in our organization to hit those important goals, and for that, we deeply apologize.

Two years ago, when a reporter shared a tip involving allegations of sexual assaults against at least two women by Foppoli, a prominent entrepreneur and aspiring politician, editors failed to follow through and pursue the story. We failed our loyal readers and Windsor voters and residents. Even more important, our decision to not thoroughly investigate these women’s accounts about alleged incidents involving Foppoli may have caused more personal heartache, humiliation and physical and emotional harm for other women. That is unacceptable. We had a responsibility to take these allegations seriously, and there is no excuse for our failure to not push harder; to not dig deeper.

This nation has seen a national reckoning surrounding sexual assault and violence against women. Yes, it goes beyond the #MeToo movement. We all have learned sexual assault is rarely a black-and-white issue. We know it is often shrouded in uncertainty for a number of reasons. But a top-notch media organization like The Press Democrat needs to press forward and work diligently to distill facts and determine the truth. We needed a newsroom leader to champion the story. That did not happen in 2019.

Put simply: It was botched.

And that will never happen again.

In my short tenure here, we’ve launched a Newsroom reorganization that will strengthen our pursuit of powerful investigative journalism. We’ve hired two new editors and freed up editing resources to focus more attention to hard-hitting watchdog stories and the writers pursuing those stories. We will be hiring additional investigative journalists, and I will personally be involved in our biggest and most important work.

Our handling of the Foppoli story two years ago runs counter to our unflinching commitment to holding powerful individuals accountable for their actions. And on behalf of our entire leadership team, we again apologize. Our credibility is everything. For more than 160 years, The Press Democrat has proudly chronicled life in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County and Northern California – at times of great joy and tremendous tragedy. We will continue that mission, but with an even deeper commitment to fair and assertive investigative journalism and thorough coverage of the communities we serve. I promise we will do better.

Thank you for your support of our Newsroom.

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Cloverdale, 1880s

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GREASY PETE'S UP JACKSON'S TREE — NON-VIOLENT 9-YEAR-OLD IN FULL SUPPORT 

At dawn this morning a small platform with a tree sitter perched atop it could be spotted 65 feet up in the tall redwood tree affectionately known to locals as the Mamma Tree. Located in the heart of Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF), near the tiny town of Caspar, the Mamma Tree is at the center of a passionate controversy, familiar not only to Mendocino County residents but to State, National, and Global communities as well: to cut or not to cut down big old trees. 

Are such trees more important to keep standing for their carbon sequestration, cultural, environmental and recreational values or for business and profit, to be converted into redwood decking and fancy houses? With logging imminent and no legal recourse yet in sight, a tree sitter calling himself Greasy Pete climbed into Mama tree and has taken up residence, commenting: “I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees.” 

A long banner suspended from the platform reads: “Save and Protect Jackson State, the Forest of the People,” also bearing the message: “If a tree falls in the forest We, the Concerned Citizens, are here and we would hear it!” 

Standing at 77 inches dbh (diameter at breast height) just off a well used trail, Mamma Tree is marked for cut, a blue line spray painted around her approximately 240 inches circumference. According to Calfire - the managing agency for THPs including in JDSF - coring shows the Mama Tree is just under 200 years old, an age most would consider Old Growth. Mama is in the growth stage known scientifically as mid-to-late Seral, when redwoods acquire the characteristic large limbs and craggy cavities that make good habitat for Spotted Owls and other endangered species. Many people visiting the area express shock that trees as big and old as this, especially in a publicly owned forest, would be cut down, calling it “mind boggling.”

Many of the Mama Tree’s nearby 100-plus year old relatives are also marked for cut and have been sold to Willits Redwood Company, owned by ex-Willits Mayor Bruce Burton and partner Chris Baldo. Anderson Logging is the LTO (licensed timber operator) contracted to cut the trees and haul the logs inland over highway 20 to the Willits Redwood log deck near the intersection with Willits’ Main St. (formerly 101).

Logging in the 48,000 acre mixed use State Forest accelerated under former President Trump and now impinges on recreational and residential uses, coming right ‘up to the bed sheets’ of campsites, trails and adjacent private homes. 

Notably, THPs and logging roads impact historic Indigenous trails and archeological sites. Although supposedly protected by confidentially laws, the significance and extent of sites are often minimized and underprotected, resulting in financial gain for contractors and the State. JDSF has been owned by the State of California since 1948. It provides clean, green, affordable outdoor recreation, habitat for rare and endangered species, clean water, fresh air, and urgently needed carbon sequestration. Originally dedicated to the demonstration of sustainable forest practices, restoration and recreation, the timber industry has taken full advantage of the public trust. Today, over half the area has been logged multiple times. Continued logging on the steep and fragile slopes of the Noyo River, Big River and Little River and tributaries crisscrossing Jackson, threatens already precarious runs of Coho and Steelhead salmon with increased erosion, siltation and low water levels.

The effort to protect these forests is community based and multigenerationa — local children have been actively involved in the efforts to save the Mamma Tree and her family, using yarn to attach art work with heartfelt messages and pleas to save the trees which are their heritage as citizens. “I grew up in Nature, in the forest,” said nine-year-old Rowan, who attended the nonviolence training offered to activists last week. “I’m a super tree lover so I want to protect it.”

(Contact: Naomi Wagner, who lives in a redwood house west of Willits. She can be reached at 707 459-0548 & 707 502 6181)

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* * *

FACTS NOT FEAR

Editor,

A recent statement made by County Supervisor Haschak published in the Willits News about the proposed Phase 3 Cannabis Cultivation Ordinance stokes fear of “devastating” effects and spreads misinformation about environmental damage from legal cannabis in the same way photographs that are published by the Ukiah Daily Journal of reported trashed cannabis cultivation sites not identified as either legal/illegal could be seen in almost any County in California. Where is the site and are the premises licensed by CDFA? The facts are important because they reveal the truth about the current state of Proposition 64 and cannabis cultivation in Mendocino County which most would agree isn’t working for the residents of Mendocino County.

The CDFA has issued 791 cultivation licenses excluding processor, nursery, and indoor. The canopy square feet of the 791 licensed premises is 147 acres or 8,174 square feet per license. Designation as a mom or pop or legacy or artisan cultivator matters little in this argument. There is no big cannabis business in Mendocino. We are all small farmers facing the same issues as our neighboring cultivators and all would benefit from Phase 3. Phase 3 provides more cultivation strategies (biomass, full sun, green house, fresh frozen) with the likelihood of better economics. Incrementally higher production leveraging off existing farm infrastructure improvements — even small ones already made by license holders to obtain a license — means greater yields at a low marginal cost and the possibility of profits that are missing under the current regulatory scheme. It all feeds back into the economy and benefits all residents of Mendocino County. Cultivation begets processing/manufacturing begets distribution and so goes the cannabis ecosystem.

Processing/manufacturing license holders who wholesale cannabis flower or manufactured products need more cannabis production in Mendocino to compete with the demands from buyers throughout the State of California who will turn to neighboring counties. Small production lots from 10,000 square feet canopy farms in Mendocino is inefficient to gather, process, and wholesale. Cultivators are reliant on processors to add value and get their product into dispensaries. And why bother with an Appellation project or biodynamic designations designed to lift up small farms if the output is too small to make a difference?

Environmental devastation is the Complex Fire of 2020 that decimated the grape and cannabis harvest. There are over 18,000 acres of vineyards in Mendocino County and crop losses over $500 million in 2020. Fortunately for vineyard operators crop insurance is readily available and economically feasible whereas cannabis has no such safety net. 

Alleged widespread environmental damage by “small grows” or any other legal cannabis operation is not supported by any facts and predictions of doom and destruction of the environment and way of life in Mendocino is irresponsible. Regular agriculture dominates the County and nothing proposed would change that. 

In fact one could argue regular agriculture of vineyard production and cattle and calf populations in Mendocino contribute more to the environmental crisis than 147 acres of cannabis cultivation. License holders have demonstrated their commitment to responsible and environmentally sound cultivation practices and conformed to the strict requirements of CDFW and the Water Board. Many of the UR and RL license holders permitted premises will not qualify for expanded cultivation because water restrictions and infrastructure investments (roads, wells) will make it economically unfeasible.

The biggest failure of legal cannabis for Mendocino residents has been the inability of the County to control illegal cultivation that takes place in rural unincorporated Mendocino County. District 3 has 70 percent of CDFA licenses and of the 147 acres of licensed cannabis, 119 acres are in AG, UR, and RL zoned land predominately in District 3.

Law enforcement and code enforcement are separate cannabis issues and responsibilities. The Sheriff’s Department has been chronically underfunded. Rural unincorporated areas in District 3 are difficult to surveil and patrol for illegal cannabis activities. The County needs to make a major investment in law enforcement which it has been unwilling to do. Code enforcement and permitting is an administrative challenge that can be met by strong leadership with the will to build consensus and move forward with some creativity. The status quo will not work in Mendocino County and Supervisor Hachask admitted as much with the mea culpa that “permits were wrongly granted.” 

So why would Mendocino County want to continue to impoverish its residents and ignore the facts? Proposition 64 is the voice of the people. It can’t be changed by the legislature (without a super majority). Reform is within the reach of the Board of Supervisors so please take action and improve the lives of your constituents.

William Claus

Covelo

* * *

Dodson’s Fair, Uniontown

* * *

UKIAH NEWS, April 10, 1873

The only importer of fine wines and liquors in this county is W.A. Hoffman, who has a large stock. For sale by the bottle for medicinal use.

* * *

From the report of the Secretary of the State Viticultural Commission, just compiled we glean the following statistics relative to grape growing in Mendocino county: Total acres in grapes, 204; acres in bearing, 183; acres of wine grapes, 190; acres of table grapes, 14. The figures for the whole State are as follows: Total acres in grapes, 168,366; acres in bearing, 122,168; acres of wine grapes, 90,223; acres of table grapes, 9,360; acres of raisin grapes, 68,837.

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* * *

SUPERVISOR MAUREEN MULHEREN:

Last Wednesday morning I had a Zoom meeting with a cannabis cultivator that also owns a vineyard interested in Phase 3. I think its very interesting the different groups that have input regarding Phase 3, in the evening I met with the Covelo Cannabis Advocacy Group regarding Phase 3 and they very much want to see cannabis remain small. The BOS will hear the Cannabis Phase 3 item on April 19th and I hope that people take the time to read the agenda item before commenting and think about what will make the cannabis ordinance workable in our community so that we don't have to keep coming back to it and we can move forward with successful applicants obtaining their State License.

* * *

Monday — On Monday I was right back at it with a LAFCO meeting. Over and over we heard that the barrier to moving forward with some of the City of Ukiah's requests for Annexation was the lack of a tax sharing agreement between the City and County. In May I will bring forward an agenda item to create a BOS Ad Hoc for Tax Sharing. I believe that each of the four cities may also create a similar action so that we can move forward projects in various areas not just the City of Ukiah.


Mark Scaramella Notes: Tax sharing between the City of Ukiah and the County has been tried and tried again for upwards of 40 years without success. We understand there were some preliminary steps made but, as usual, it bogged down in the bureaucracies of the County and the City. (Tax sharing is part of the Annexation process for Ukiah which has also been blathered to death for years.) As far as we know the main obstacle is that the City of Ukiah doesn’t want to “share” the sales tax proceeds from the big box stores near the airport. If Supervisor Mulheren can magically come up with a carrot to convince Ukiah that such “sharing” would produce some kind of mutual sharing, she may be able to get somewhere that Supervisor McCowen and his predecessors never could. BTW, Wasn’t Supervisor Mulheren on the Ukiah City Council when those prior unsuccessful tax sharing discussions occurred? Wasn’t she part of the problem then?

* * *

CATCH OF THE DAY, April 10, 2021

Bias, Dufinetz, Elliott

SHAWN BIAS, Fort Bragg. Grand theft, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)

BRITTANY DUFINETZ, Indianapolis/Ukiah. Conspiracy.

ALICIA ELLIOTT, Covelo. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, controlled substance, parole violation, resisting.

Freeman, Hall, Hoaglin

MICHAEL FREEMAN JR., Protective order violation, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)

GARRICK HALL, Indianapolis/Ukiah. Pot possession for sale, conspiracy.

TEVIN HOAGLIN, Covelo. Domestic battery, protective order violation, probation revocation.

Ulveling, Williams, Wolfe

RICHARD ULVELING, Fort Bragg. Cruelty to animal.

DONOVAN WILLIAMS, Ukiah. Community Supervision violation.

JOHN WOLFE, Ukiah. Domestic battery.

* * *

IN MEMORY AND CELEBRATION OF REESE ERLICH

Great progressive writer dies after a long and illustrious career.

progressive.org/dispatches/in-memory-and-celebration-of-reese-erlich-210409/

* * *

Equal Rights

* * *

ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY

It’s possible that policing as we’ve known it will disappear within our lifetimes. That is, a public force, well trained and equipped, paid for with taxpayers’ $, that serves all, rich and poor, to guarantee some version of enforcing the law for all.

Before the tomatoes start flying in my direction, I add that of course I’m aware of some citizens being more equal than others, pockets of corruption, bad apples, etc. However, most policemen I’ve known are fundamentally decent people, and doing society a great service. 

On the one hand, you have the Wall St Journal displaying full ads for a robotics co. promoting non-human, AI enabled enforcers. Mayors are looking at that, and wondering, if we have to pay $27M to the family of every no-good criminal who happens to die in our custody while OD’ing on something, and that’s even before a trial, maybe the robocops are a good investment. They can’t be racist or biased. Technology always makes everything better, is the mantra of the age. Shite, but most people believe it. 

Then you have a demoralized police force, pelted with rocks, unable to do what they need to do because of politicians and corporations and the media will crucify them.

Soon, they’ll start the exodus to new privatized security corps, is my bet. Enclaves of the wealthy and the elite will have top notch security, probably a mix of robots, electronic surveillance and rent a cops. 

The rest will slowly descend into lawlessness. You get burglared or attacked, you call the public force… they may or may not show up… if they do, they won’t move unless you bribe them… depending on the amount of the bribe, they may have a word with the perps, but unless you keep the $ coming their way, you’re defenseless again after they leave… sort of a mafia racket. The best will be long gone into safer, better paying jobs w private security.

That’s how the Third World works, start getting used to it. The security racket will be right up there with the health-care racket in this country, that is… you get what you pay for. If you can’t pay, you get nothing. All this BLM nonsense is just noise. The system, our Babylon, thrives on firing people, making them unnecessary and unwanted, demonizing them, pitting them against each other. The public servants that provide a modicum of security to all are next on the chopping block, to be replaced, automated, outsourced, tossed like a used condom.

* * *

* * *

I GUESS IT ALL GOES BACK to what my father told me; A man should never give up on himself. I have a saying now: what the mind can conceive, the body can achieve. In life you have to keep pounding away. Everyone has ups and downs, but you really show what you are made of when you bounce back from defeat. You may slip and fall once in a while, but if you get up and keep walking you'll get to where you want to go.

— Ken Norton

* * *

THE DOGS BARK, THE CAMELS PASS.

The recording of last night's (2021-04-09) Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show on KNYO-LP Fort Bragg is right here: https://tinyurl.com/KNYO-MOTA-0431

Also, at https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com there's a fresh batch of not-necessarily-radio-useful but worthwhile items that I set aside for you while gathering the show together, such as:

Google News simplified to text. Applying this process to many other sites would make even dialup internet entirely useful again.

http://68k.news/

“Very unique collaborative creative innovation, then, I see. What do you actually do here?”

“Do?”

“Yes, what does your company exist to do?”

“Well, um… Hmm…”

https://misscellania.blogspot.com/2021/04/collaborative-disruption.html

Electrical atmospheric sprites.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap210330.html

And siphonophores (say sai-FON-oh-forz) of the deep.

https://theawesomer.com/up-close-with-siphonophores/618281/

PS. Email me your written work and I'll read it Friday night on the radio on the very next MOTA. That's what I'm here for.

—Marco McClean

* * *

* * *

DAVID BARSAMIAN INTERVIEWS NOAM CHOMSKY on his new book, the Capitol coup attempt, 2020 unrest, and the prospects for progress under Biden.

It’s this generation that will decide whether human society continues in any organized form, or whether we reach tipping points that are irreversible, and we spin off into total catastrophe. Same question with regard to the growing threat of nuclear weapons: there’s just no alternative to deciding right now. There are other problems. The pandemic will somehow be controlled at enormous and needless cost of lives, but there are others coming. And they could be more serious unless we take serious steps to prepare for them—both the scientific work and the social background. Then there will be other major issues of species survival—not just the human species. We are racing forward to destroying other species on an incredible scale, which hasn’t been seen for 65 million years. And now it’s happening much faster than it did then. That’s what’s called the fifth extinction. We’re now in the midst of the sixth extinction.

https://bostonreview.net/class-inequality-politics/noam-chomsky-david-barsamian-mole

6 Comments

  1. Cotdbigun April 11, 2021

    Originally dedicated to the demonstration of sustainable forest practices, restoration and recreation, the timber industry has taken full advantage of the public trust.

    We would like to know what the numbers are Naomi ? When addressing the issue of sustained yield, hand-wringing works best with while holding a pencil. Did the forest increase ( by how much per acre ) or decrease ? I thank you in advance for this vital information.

  2. John Sakowicz April 11, 2021

    Reese Erlich was a guest on my show on public radio several times over the last 15 years. He was an important investigative journalist for progressive media. He was a friend.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reese_Erlich

  3. mendoblather April 11, 2021

    “FROST FANS roared on in Boonville, waking me about 5 this morning (Saturday) although no frost was observed here at the ava.”

    Unwelcome noise is a nuisance, I agree. No one should have the right to put noise inside your home you didn’t invite.

    Some of us living next to these permitted small growers are forced to endure 24 hours of generator noise the growers have no intention of ceasing. (The one I live next to compares to a jet engine warming up.) Filing complaints with the county results in nothing more than a ‘we’ll get to it – maybe later this year’ attitude.

    Since frost fans are considered an agricultural necessity, will the county consider grow house generators as a necessity somewhere down the line?

    William Claus of Covelo states: “License holders have demonstrated their commitment to responsible and environmentally sound cultivation practices and conformed to the strict requirements of CDFW…” This is nonsense. These people don’t give a whit what the rules are and code enforcement is a nonexistent.

    If you add the wear and tear of the water trucks and diesel deliveries along with the daily caravan of helpers buzzing up and down the back roads tossing their trash wherever convenient these “environmentally sound cultivation practices” don’t stand up to scrutiny.

    Beware neighbors. Your discomfort is being codified into law.

    • Brian Wood April 11, 2021

      I’ve lived on my property in Boonville for over 20 years, before the acres of vines were planted around me. The grapes came, later the fans came. The number of frost fans seems to be increasing every year. A look on google earth shows at least 10 fans surrounding me within a radius of about 1,500′. The closest is 230′ from my property line. Last night they started at 1:45am. I am probably supposed to be glad they’re not using our precious groundwater like they used to to fight frost (never mind what the local brewery pumps out of our aquifer and ships around the country).

      As long as I’m bitching about agriculture, it’s not just noise pollution we have to deal with in Boonville, it’s odor pollution with all the grows every fall. More power to moms and pops, but I hate the smell. Now I’m afraid new county regs could allow the 10 acre vinyard next door to replace an acre of their grapes with pot.

  4. David Eyster April 11, 2021

    Dear Editor …

    Respectfully, “failing agility?” NOT. Mendo Rose of Laurel (“Rosie”), our Welsh Terrier pup in the picture, is generally spending a significant amount of her time these days playing underfoot but my agility continues to prevent her from taking me down.

    The same cannot be said for the ongoing construction-caused minefields and trip hazards being allowed to exist and spread across downtown Ukiah. I’m not the first to go down as a result of same and, unfortunately, probably not the last.

    DA Dave

    P.S. The medical folks at the Adventist emergency department were wonderful and took good care of me. Thank you!

  5. Rye N Flint April 12, 2021

    RE: Structure fire in Laytonville

    WOW! I wish someone got a picture of our house burning after Joe Hart set a propane time bomb off in it on Spyrock April 1st, 2020. The Fire chief said it was the “Solar panels”… on a rainy day of March 31st? This is the same Joe Hart Psycho face that was stalking my former co-workers at Orr Hot Springs. Careful who your caretaker invites over for lockdown tea! The only “local” news to report on this crazy story was Redheaded Blackbelt. All other media outlets were silent… which only make me wonder… Who is this Joe hart guy anyway?
    https://kymkemp.com/2020/08/26/laytonville-man-convicted-of-knife-attack/

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