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A WEAKENING FRONT will bring a chance of rain to Del Norte and northern Humboldt Counties this afternoon through evening. Also, isolated lightning activity will be possible this afternoon around the Trinity Alps. Otherwise, dry weather with near normal temperatures are forecast to prevail through the week. (NWS)
INTERDICTEE OF THE YEAR
On Sunday, May 22, Laytonville Resident Post Officer Fillman stopped a vehicle on US-101 in northern Mendocino County for speeding.
Officer Fillman conducted a probable cause search of the vehicle and located 4 garbage bags filled with processed marijuana totaling 75 pounds. The driver was cited and released at scene for the illegal possession and transportation of marijuana for sales, and the marijuana was seized as evidence. The vehicle was impounded due to the driver being unlicensed. Well done, Officer Fillman!
NEWSOM PLAN: MILLIONS IN FUNDING FOR LOCAL POT PROGRAMS; MENDOCINO TO RECEIVE $18M
by Jim Shields
With the state flush with piles of cash generated by dotcoms and One Percenters who earned prodigious profits during a Pandemic that featured lockdowns across the economic spectrum, Gov. Gavin Newsom last Friday, May 14, announced a proposed $738.1 million for cannabis-related purposes, including $100 million in grant funding for local governments with pot regulatory programs to complete environmental studies, license reviews, and mitigate environmental impacts. The proposal supports a broader effort to transition cannabis farmers into the regulated market and to allegedly reduce barriers to entry for small businesses. The plan also proposes to allocate nearly $630 million in cannabis tax funds to public health, environmental protection, and public safety initiatives.
Mendocino County is slated to receive approximately $18 million from the $100 million grant fund.
The new found money is all part of the so-called “May Revise,” an annual intermediary budget step where governors revise the proposed budget introduced in January. The whole process is subject to approval by the state legislature.
According to Newsom’s office, the goal is “to help local governments and aid licensees in successfully and swiftly moving from provisional licensure into annual licenses, and to do so in a way that supports the environmental compliance requirements. The grant program is intended to:
• Aid local governments in processing substantial workloads associated with transitioning businesses to a regulated market.
• Incentivize local governments to modify their permitting methods to better align with the state’s effort to remove barriers to licensure.
• Support provisional license holders by allowing local governments to pass through funding to applicants for purposes of assessing and mitigating environmental impacts.
• Provide more financial assistance to licensed cultivators and localities that license them, as both often experience enhanced environmental compliance and resource challenges when transitioning operations to annual licensure.
• Provide enhanced support to eligible jurisdictions that are implementing social equity programs. This grant program targets funds in a way that seeks to maintain stability across the supply chain and distributes these one-time resources to a significant number of jurisdictions implementing local equity programs, transitioning larger populations of legacy operators to the regulated market, and/or that are located in areas rich in natural resources and require additional capital to meet environmental compliance standards.
“This grant funding aims to serve local governments and a significant portion of the provisional license population, including a number of small businesses and equity operators,” said Nicole Elliott, Governor Newsom’s Senior Advisor on Cannabis. “We are committed to maintaining stability across the cannabis supply chain, supporting our local partners, and transitioning provisional licenses into annual licensure more swiftly, without sacrificing California’s environmental commitments.”
Under current statute, the provisional license program will sunset on January 1, 2022. Newsom’s plan proposes allowing provisional licenses to be issued until June 30, 2022, makes explicit environmental compliance requirements necessary to attain and maintain a provisional license, mandates the Department to specify through regulation what progress is required to maintain a provisional license, and removes the sunset date, thereby allowing a provisional license to be maintained so long as the applicant is making measurable progress toward achieving annual licensure.
The plan also proposes $9 million in funding for a Sustainable California Grown Cannabis pilot program which will provide funding to incentivize licensed outdoor cannabis growers to participate in the collection of data to benchmark best practices that reduce the environmental impact of cannabis water and energy use; pest management and fertilizer practices; and, to enhance soil health. The purpose of the pilot program is to establish science-based data for the future inclusion of cannabis in current and future state and national voluntary programs to advance environmental stewardship and to develop and advance Best Management Practices for Sustainable Cannabis Growing.
The Budget plan estimates $629.1 million in cannabis tax funding will be available for public health, environmental protection, and public safety initiatives, a 41.9 percent increase from the Governor’s Budget estimates in January. The funding will be allocated as follows:
• Education, prevention, and treatment of youth substance use disorders and school retention — 60 percent ($377.5 million).
• Clean-up, remediation, and enforcement of environmental impacts created by illegal cannabis cultivation — 20 percent ($125.8 million).
• Public safety-related activities — 20 percent ($125.8 million).
Another part of the plan involves a new Department of Cannabis Control that will be formed on July 1, 2021, pending approval by the state Legislature, and will combine the cannabis licensing and regulatory functions currently performed by the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Bureau of Cannabis Control, the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing Division, and the California Department of Public Health’s Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch.
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California gas prices increase as trucker shortage grows.
As the Colonial Pipeline gets back up to speed after a recent ransomware cyberattack, many gas stations are still facing fuel shortages nationwide. The sudden, sharp reduction of supply is already driving up fuel prices and the ongoing professional truck driver shortage can’t keep up with the simultaneous fuel scarcity and burgeoning demand.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics there was a shortfall of 65,700 drivers for 2020, when compared to 2019. COVID-19 brought on a surge of early retirements for many of these drivers, and the trucking industry is struggling to make up for the shortfall.
A national tanker-truck association estimates 25% of industry vehicles could sit idle this summer because there simply aren’t enough drivers.
To make matters worse, as more people become vaccinated and want to resume travel plans this summer, and with the mask mandate recently lifted, the demand for gas is expected to grow exponentially this summer. The lack of drivers available to transport that additional fuel will likely cost consumers more at the pump.
(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, firstname.lastname@example.org, and is also the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live: http://www.kpfn.org.)
by Mark Scaramella
In his first year as Supervisor Ted Williams wanted the County to move to “zero-based budgeting,” a concept which essentially rebuilds a budget from scratch each year on the assumption that such rebuilding magically weeds out unnecessary expenses and ensures that each budget unit is based on relevant annual revenues.
CEO Angelo offered to explore the concept instead of telling Williams that the idea doesn’t apply to Mendo because Mendo is the tail end of a federal, state and grant funding train that dictates most of what the County does.
In October of 2019 the Supervisors shined Williams on when he put the item on the Board’s agenda by voting unanimously to: “Create an agenda item for November 5 regarding zero-based budgeting, putting public priorities on the county budget; host a workshop at the second meeting in January regarding zero-based budgeting; have the IT ad hoc work with the executive office on budget tracking and department metrics; have each supervisor work in conjunction with the executive office for district meetings on budget priorities, including priorities for the county budget.”
But of course, Mendo being Mendo, November 5 came and went and the item never made it to any agenda and nobody cared, nobody followed up, nobody asked any questions about any of the items mentioned. There was never any “workshop at the second meeting in January regarding zero-based budgeting” or anything else.
Now, Supervisor Williams is back with a revised idea, proposing that Mendocino County “reimagine” its budget:
Item 6c): “Discussion and Possible Action Including Direction to Departments to Work with the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Office Budget Team to Reimagine Budget with Priority on Federal and State Funded Mandates and Local Core Services First. (Sponsor: Supervisor Williams).”
Trouble is, as far as we can tell, the County budget already puts priority on “Federal and State Funded Mandates and Local Core Services First” because the state and federal grantors require that the County provide at least lip service reports to those agencies showing that the “services” were delivered (at least in terms of hours spent, and people attending, etc., if not on effectiveness, which never is a consideration). And the Local Core (General Fund) Services are predominantly law enforcement / public safety which most people would say are and should be first priority.
Williams doesn’t mention which “local core services” he thinks should be moved up on the priority list into first place in the budgeting sweepstakes. So we will have to wait until Tuesday to see what he has in mind, if anything.
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Also on Tuesday’s agenda is consent calendar Item 4j. “Approval of Retroactive Agreement with Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley, PC in the Amount of $50,000 to Provide Legal Services for the Period of May 1, 2021 Through June 30, 2022.”
In the attached services agreement we find buried in a stack of legalese that this is another example of the County hiring an expensive outside law firm for defense in a lawsuit. In this case, the Gurr-Borges lawsuit which stems from an alleged County-expedited Fish & Wildlife raid in 2018 when all their pot plants were pulled up from their Ukiah-area property even though they were 1) a permit applicant almost near approval, and 2) not taking any water from the stream that Fish & Wildlife said they were.
Gurr-Borges claim that they were singled out by then-Supervisors John McCowen and Carre Brown for permit denial via the “opt out” zone that was created in the Gurr-Borges neighborhood under the urging of a Sheriff’s department employee who happened to be a neighbor of Gurr-Borges. Probably, but hard to prove.
But their case against Fish & Wildlife seems obvious.
Note: Another fifty thou flies out of county coffers to outside attorneys while the county employs, at last count, nine lawyers of its own.
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Also on the consent calendar are two other retroactive items:
“Item 4q) Approval of Retroactive Agreement with Redwood Community Services in the Amount of $695,192 to Provide Emergency Shelter Services Needed to Prevent, Prepare For, and Respond To Coronavirus Among Individuals and Families Who are Experiencing Homelessness in Mendocino County Using Grant Funds Available Through California Department of Housing and Community Development for the Emergency Solutions Grant as Funded by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Effective January 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022.”
And “Item 4s) Approval of Retroactive Agreement with Redwood Community Services, Inc. in the Amount of $152,000 to Provide an Inland Shelter and Day Center to Qualified Individuals in Mendocino County, Effective July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021.”
Even though the Board has requested (demanded) time and again that all retroactive items of any significant size NOT be on the consent calendar and at least be explained, the CEO simply refuses, continuing to put them on the consent calendar without explanation. Often the retroactive items happen to be add-ons to Camille Schraeder’s ever-expanding Redwood Community Services list.
In addition, these “agreements” (i.e., contracts) should obviously be put out to bid or at least accompanied by an explanation for why RCS is the only available contractor.
But as usual, the Board continues to allow CEO Angelo to flout Board direction and ordinary contract procedures month after month after month without a word of complaint.
Instead, we have Supervisor Williams, who at least used to ask a question or two about such insubordination and non-compliance with Board directives, choosing instead to try to reimagine the budget.
THEY DON'T ALL WORK FOR ADVENTIST
To the Editor:
The undersigned call to accountability a recent media promotion of Adventist Health for Mendocino County. It is unfortunate that we find lacking from the Corporate part of this hospital/clinic system the long-time dedication of private physicians that aren’t employed by the Adventist Health System but have critical connections to health care here.
A case in point: A mailer to area households presenting orthopedic health assessments available through MendocinoCountyOrtho.org. The hidden inference is that the four physicians pictured and featured are the only qualified orthopedics available in the area.
Dr. William Bowen, MD is an Orthopedic Surgery Specialist in Willits, CA. Dr. Bowen has more experience with Hip, Knee, Shoulder and Trauma surgery than other specialists in this area. He has provided care for over four decades at both Howard Hospital and Adventist Health Ukiah Valley, as well as taking call for patients on the Coast, in Lake County and Humboldt County.
He is the Orthopedist who started the Orthopedic Joint Program in Mendocino County. Over the years he has brought numerous specialist doctors to the county, including several Orthopedic Surgeons. Because of this, Mendocino county residents have had less need to leave the county for their care. After treating people who have sustained fractures in car accidents on our highways, many people return from out of state for his care for other orthopedic surgeries.
Along with other practitioners in Willits, Dr. Bowen’s tireless work has resulted in the beautiful new state of the art hospital in Willits.
Dr. Bowen is one of the most popular and well-respected physicians (and individuals) in the community. He has dedicated himself to improving health care services in our community; the community in which he was raised and to which he returned to serve. He has served not only the ’patient’ community, but he has also assisted every new Orthopedic surgeon who has come to the county.
Dr. Bowen has never asked for promotion of, nor credit for the service he provides to us. However, the lack of acknowledgment of his leadership and services has not gone un-noticed. The promo piece should have included ALL the Orthopedic Physicians, not just the four employed in the Adventist system. The community of Mendocino County is extremely grateful for Dr. Bowen’s services, and Adventist Health should be as well.
Carole Hester, Sharon Lieser & Laura Sotelo
THE 4TH AND 5TH DISTRICTS are home to a small group of anonymous people who variously call themselves by different names — Black Lives Matter, Bipoc, SURJ and, lately, South Coast Organizing for Racial Equity Encouraging Independent Performance and Fiscal Audit of the Sheriff's Department.
Because Supervisor Williams represents the main body of the self-alleged good and the true he's arranged for their irrelevant demand for an audit of the Sheriff's Department to appear on the Supervisor's agenda this week, where it will get slam-dunked 4-1 or 3-2, 3-2 if Dan Gjerde, who also represents a small group of anon "activists," throws them a courtesy bone of a yes vote.
I'VE TRIED to contact all of the above. No response. I want to ask them, for publication, who they are and what are their credentials for making moral and ethical judgements. Way, way back a young white person, or a white person of any age, could be inspired by, say, Martin Luther King, an obviously courageous man whose dream of racial harmony one could get behind because one could trust him and his judgement. Mendocino County? Buyer beware.
I KNOW most of the activists in this county, the older ones anyway, and I wouldn't follow any of them across the street with a green light. Safely generalizing here, the names that pop up in association with this or that righteous cause are… Well… they have each other, I suppose.
WHAT'S BAD about Look At Me "activism" is that it works to the advantage of true bad, tangible bad because true bad simply points at the Look At Me "activists" and says, "Deadbeats and loons," and the general public says to itself, "Yup, I'd say so."
A SERIOUS reformer would not only identify him or herself, he/she would step right up to argue, to fight publically for la causa. (cf the late Judi Bari. Whatever you thought about the old girl, she was never, ever anonymous.) But around here we get — and not to put too fine a point on it — phonies.
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RED BEARD IN PHILO? The young fugitive causing considerable consternation from Elk, through the Anderson Valley to the west hills of Ukiah has managed to elude a fairly large law enforcement search for him. He might be so elusive because he's a resident, I mean he may have a safe harbor somewhere in the vastness between Elk and Ukiah. The rifle he's carrying was apparently stolen from a Philo residence, and he's variously been spotted on Cameron Road near Elk, Philo and upper Low Gap Road, Ukiah. The guy does seem to know his way around out there. Apart from his red beard, the kid resembles hundreds of scruffy young men backpacking hither and thither.
THE LA TIMES, in a puffaroo called “40 road trips for the comeback summer of 2021," has the Northcoast as the primo destination we all know it is.
THE TIMES rightly says the Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree in Leggett is the “handsomest” of the three drive-through redwoods, that the Avenue of the Giants in SoHum offers vistas of virgin redwoods, that Redwood National and State Parks in Humboldt and Del Norte counties have countless “specimens” of residual redwoods, that Glass Beach in Fort Bragg is a likely site from which to carry off bits of sea-washed detritus left over from the not-too-distant past when Fort Bragg dumped its trash in a wooden chute reaching out over the Pacific. Wrong, LA Times. You're no longer allowed to carry anything away from Glass Beach. It's a protected area of the State Park system.
JAMES MARMON with some useful history: "With Telecare as the PHF operator things might work out better than they did in the 90s when the Sheriff’s department was dropping off dangerous criminals at the Mendo PHF. That’s why they couldn’t keep it staffed. A good friend of mine who was an RN at the Low Gap PHF had her arm seriously broken just prior to its closure. With the new mental health wing at the Low Gap jail, those criminals should be able to be cared for there.
Remembering Doug Rosoff — “As Mendocino County”s Mental Health medical director back in 2000, Rosoff made news when he complained to county officials about jail inmates being sent to the county psychiatric health facility, the locked facility known as the PHF, or “puff,” where the mentally ill in crisis were sent for evaluation and stabilization. At the time, the PHF was having trouble staying open because of a shortage of qualified nurses to staff it.
At the time, Rosoff said that sending inmates to the PHF meant that other patients were being sent out of county for care at great expense to the county.
He also said that inmates were sometimes sent to the PHF unnecessarily and on the orders or advice of judges and defense attorneys, not mental health professionals – something that did not endear him to local defense attorneys. He complained of prisoners being cared for in the PHF for months while they awaited trial, an unnecessary situation he thought simply provided the inmates with more comfort.
“You can lounge around watching television, making phone calls, playing ping pong,” he said. “If I was in an inmate’s shoes, I would prefer to do my time in a psychiatric facility instead of a correctional setting.”
— James Marmon
May 30, Community Ritual at JDSF tree sit
As an expression of community solidarity for the protection of forests in Jackson Demonstration State Forest there will be a community ritual at the tree sit in East Caspar for those who wish to express solidarity with the tree sitters.
WHEN: Sunday May 30, 11am
WHERE: the tree sit in east Caspar
Sponsored by: The coalition to protect Jackson Demonstration State Forest.
Contact Chris Skyhawk 707-409-4789; email@example.com
MY MEMORIES OF MADAME PRESTON by Mary Larrison Mowbray (1939)
A lot of people criticized her religion, just because they didn't understand her. As for me I think her religion was as good as any. Her followers thought she was perfect and that she never made a mistake, but she did make a mistake now and then, like the rest of us. Some of the people tried to be-smear her good name by calling Preston "Blisterville." Yes indeed, she had to take a lot of insults. She had a lot of good friends, but she had her share of enemies too…
But the Madame didn't always have her own way. Years ago there was an old couple [Jesse and Sarah Wickersham] living on the Mendocino Coast [upper Skaggs Springs, northwestern Sonoma County]. They had a Chinaman [Ah Duck Tai] working for them. One night the Chinaman killed the old folks. Stole all their money, then skipped out. Anyway that Chinaman was never caught, in fact, he was never heard from. Of course the people were up in arms about it. Then the "Big-Wigs" in Sonoma County decided to run all the Chinamen out of Sonoma County and no one was allowed to hire a Chinaman and those that did have a Chinaman got orders to get rid of him at once.
The Madame had a Chinese cook at that time. So she got a warning that she must get rid of her Chinaman. She paid no attention. Then someone sent her a box of matches with a note saying, if you don't get rid of that Chinaman you'll be burnt out. She got more threatening notes, but she was so stubborn, she wouldn't give in. Then my husband [Frank Mowbray] went up to her house, and advised her to send the Chinaman away before somebody set fire to all of her buildings, and that the people of Sonoma County weren't going to allow any more Chinamen in this county. So you better send him away and play safe, he told her. Then the Madame got mad and told him to go home and mind his own business, that she hired the Chinaman and was paying him, and for other people to mind their own business and that she was going to keep the Chinaman as long as she wanted to and didn't want anybody to dictate to her.
When Frank came home and told me what the Madame said, I said to him, it serves you right, you have no right to meddle with her affairs. Then he got mad and said, she's got to get rid of that Chink or I'll know the reason why.
Then one evening a mob walked up to her house. When the Madame came to the door, the leader of the mob said: This is the last warning, if that Chinaman is still here by tomorrow night, we are going to burn every building on your place. Now I don't remember what she told the mob, but the next morning her foreman Joseph Zahner took the Chinaman down to the station, put him on the train bound for San Francisco. Well that was one time the Madame knew she was licked. She was very stubborn. She hated to give in. I never knew where the mob came from. There were a few Prestonites and my husband was one of them. So for many years the Chinamen were kept out of Sonoma County.
THIS UNSETTLING PHOTO from the Cloverdale Historical Society is labeled "Cloverdale Horribles, July 4, 1886." Nothing was known about it at Cloverdale Historical Society. Preston Ranch caretaker and historian Lisa Ellis and I recently analyzed this photo and recognized its hidden meaning. These are Cloverdale Squeedunks engaged in political satire lampooning the standoff of Madame Preston and her Chinese cook against the racist anti-Chinese mob after the January 1886 Wickersham murders. Note the signs saying "Blisterville" on the Madam Preston and Chinese cook caricatures. Hartwell Preston, clownish, tall and lanky with a full beard but no mustache, stands next to the Madam Preston.
The Horribles (also known as "Squeedunks" and "Calithumpians") were loosely organized groups of local men who performed satirical street theater in California towns from the 1860s-1930s, mocking the social and political issues of their day. In Sonoma County, Squeedunks were active in holiday parades from Cloverdale to Petaluma, especially on the 4th of July. Participants hid their identities and reveled in outlandish behavior, humorous highjinks, discordant music and social commentary while wearing scary masks and costumes. Children were fascinated, yet frightened of the Squeedunks. From this photo, it is easy to understand why.
— Holly Hoods
CATCH OF THE DAY, May 23, 2021
TRACY ESLINGER, Fort Bragg. Domestic battery, contempt of court, failure to appear.
SHARINA FARNSWORTH, Ukiah. Petty theft merchandise with priors.
SEAN FLINTON, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
NICK FOSTER, San Jose/Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
JUSTIN MCNIEL, Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs, controlled substance.
ANTHONY PADILLA JR., ClearlakeUkiah. Narcotic/controlled substance purchase for sale, pot possesion for sale, organic drug sale, receiving stolen property.
MATTHEW SUSMILCH, Eureka/Ukiah. Burglary tools, ammo possession by prohibited person.
ANTONIO THOMAS, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
EZRA WILDMAN, Fort Bragg. Domestic abuse.
MARY TERESA ANDERSON’S SHOW at Artists’ Co-op, visit any May Day
‘Blooms, Birds and Bodies’ is the title of Mary’s Featured Show at Kasten & Albion Sts, Mendocino. Her diverse print making methods shine in this stunning show of intense imagery & expressive possibility. Open every day from 11-4, with online review & purchase available at www.artcoopmendocino.com.
Take a look with COVID Protocols in place, 707-937-2217.
YOGA CIRCUIT TRAINING Thursdays 5-6 Behind the Boonville HS Gym
AV-B-Well and the Wellness Coalition presents the AV 4-Week Fitness Challenge with Raffle Prizes!
The AV Wellness Coalition is sponsoring this 1 month Fitness Challenge, now in it's second week. Please take a look at this Calendar and see if there is anything that might interest you.
I am doing a Yoga Circuit training class on THURSDAYS 5-6 at the Outdoor 'Par-Course' equipment behind the AVHS gym.
The class is a Yoga inspired approach to using the outdoor equipment that includes proper alignment, strength training, and stretching. The class consists of a warm up stretch, 8 'stations', 2 Power walk laps and a Yoga cool down.
Come if you wish and spread the word for this health inspired Challenge. 3 more weeks!
There’s also a new posture class that Abeja is offering on the last two Tuesdays on the high school stage/lawn by the gym 5-6.
All activities offered at the high school stage/gym will be relocated during the last week for graduation ceremonies. Please check with instructors about the location for those classes 6/7-6/12.
Please be Fully vaccinated!
Love to all. I hope you are well and enjoying this beautiful spring
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Sadly, corporations have the time, incentive and money to develop never ending ways to dominate any market they choose. They aren’t emotionally attached to cultivation of cannabis like you are. Sure, you will have your niche customers that appreciate the love you put into it, like the small farmer is appreciated at the farmers market but let’s face it, corporate weed will dominate in the end, just like corporate vegetables do. And as far as the consumer is concerned, in the end all that will matter to most is how high the weed got them. I assume corporations are probably working to produce super high THC varieties.
Likewise they are probably working on breeding super high CBD varieties to dominate that market.
The die is cast. I don’t like what’s happened but isn’t this what happens to everything in America?
I would have loved to be a fly on the wall listening to corporate/politician secret meetings plotting their take-over. They weren’t going to ignore the multi billion dollar cash cow that was there for the taking.
Yes, you will survive and struggle like the small veggie farmer but make no mistake, corporate weed is going to ultimately take over with the most products for the vast consumers that don’t really care where that product came from as long as it gets them high or eases symptoms. Sad truth…
How many homeless advocacy ad hoc groups need to form before elected leaders hear the message? All humans — not just ones with money, homes, education and racial privilege — have the right to be treated with respect, dignity and justice (a form of love).
We want the environment kept beautiful and sanitary. What new things (already tried and true in other places) can we try? Maybe set aside a million dollars for new solutions? New, like safe parking programs. New, like toilets, water and trash service everywhere they are needed. New, like coordinated food service. New, like temporary villages or camps made from containers or cob housing. Bold and new, like condemning sweeps as human rights violations and dedicating sweep funds to service workers and mental health care and a place to go for all.
Can we try something new now? This year. Before the fires. Before the rains. Before another (swear words not allowed) sweep.
THE JEWISH ‘RIGHT TO RESIGN’
by Samuel Taylor
It started when a reader phoned the Boonville Bugle asking how to get in touch with Harvey Stein, an occasional contributor of letters to the editor. The caller said he was an old friend of Stein's "from the peace movement back in the day." Efficient Frank Colangelo found Stein's number on his computer and gave it out. Either he didn't ask or didn't catch the reader's name. When the call came he'd been writing an article, editing another, and laying out a third.
A few weeks later Harvey Stein emailed the office asking about ad rates. Then he mailed in a check for $400, along with copy for a three-inches-high-by two columns wide ad to run for four weeks. Glancing at the ad — no graphics and a top line in boldface — he did a take. "Harvey Stein wants us to run this for four weeks," he said, passing the unusual missive to Walt Campbell, the publisher. He laughed out loud and shook his head in apparent admiration. "Gotta hand it to old Harv. I wonder if he'll get any takers." The copy read:
"Do you identify as Jewish? Are you deeply ashamed by the Israeli conquest of Palestine? And by the racism of the self-proclaimed 'Ultra-Orthodox?' And by the criminality of Netanyahoo and his US backers? Do you think that Judaism itself has been defiled beyond any usefulness to mankind? If your answer is yes to all five questions, consider exercising your Right to Resign. For more information, ontact Harvey Stein at..." An email address and a Ukiah post office box were at the bottom.
The Bugle usually arrives in our mailbox on Mondays. It used to come three days earlier, but c'est la progress. I noticed the ad towards the bottom of page 7, under the jump of a page-one article called "Comptche in the '70s," and showed it to Naomi. Her maiden name was Greenbaum and she identifies as Jewish, but invisibly. (My parents attended Our Lady of Perpetual Disapproval and our kids identify as Cashews.) I was surprised that she seemed to take the thing seriously. "It's an interesting option," she said. A few weeks earlier Amy Goodman reporting the news from Gaza had reduced her to tears, and she resumed smoking cigarettes, a 50-year habit she had kicked during the pandemic. I was surprised when she actually called Harvey Stein and left a message. He called back and they talked for a long time. At one point I heard her ask, "How do they bomb buildings so that they collapse from the ground up?" When she hung up, Naomi told me to look for an email from the RTR Committee. (She practices a strict analog-only creed; I'm her liaison to the internet in emergencies.)
Almost immediately there arrived in my inbox from RTR a sample certificate and a "Dear Naomi" note from Harvey Stein explaining that a personalized copy of the certificate, signed by Rabbi Harris Margolin with a "seal of authentication," cost $25. I printed the sample and brought it the missus in. "Are you supposed to show it to the Nazis when they come to get you?" It sounded like a put-down but that's not how I meant it. She kept studying the certificate. "I'm yes on all five," she said. "And the Harvey Stein retirement fund needs twenty-five dollars," I added.
"I've spent $25 on less worthy causes," said my wife.
"Doesn't the Massad have their own people out here?" asked Stephen Best, when his secretary told him who had called. It was the founder of an AI company called Prophetecque, who had once volunteered for the Israeli armed forces. Best called back and accepted an invitation to lunch at Tadisch's the next day. After sand dabs and a conversation mainly about baseball, the veteran investigator and the young billionaire walked along the Embarcadero and discussed what the client overseas called "The Resign threat."
Sixteen days later Best had his secretary Fed-Ex a report to the Prophetecque office, which would have been about a mile away if the crow hadn't flown via Memphis. The report included images of Harvey Stein — 78 years, old five-foot-10-inches tall, thinning white hair — picking up mail from a post office box on two occasions. Also, images of the four envelopes retrieved by Stein; images of the two checks deposited by Stein in his personal checking account in the Savings Bank of Mendocino County; images of Stein's car parked in front of the Boonville Bugle office with the date and time of his two visits noted; a transcript of all Stein's phone conversations; a print-out of his email exchanges; excerpts from an interview Best conducted with a Boonville Bugle contributor of his acquaintance (me). He himself had subscribed to the Bugle for a few years in the '90s, and he would occasionally ask, "What's new from the Mendocino Mencken?" I always wondered whether he meant it admiringly or sarcastically. Attempts by Best's staff to locate Rabbi David Kleinberg were unsuccessful. Their futile efforts were all documented.
It wasn't long before Best found himself walking again for a talk with the AI mogul. This time they headed south, towards the ballpark. Best was told that The Client wanted him to stay on the case and to take certain specified steps. These included bugging the Bugle office and determining the whereabouts of 59 actual and self-styled descendants of Maimonides who The Client had been unable to locate. The high-end detective and the young billionaire walked in silence for a while. The quality of the sunlight and the nearness of the water induced clarity, Best felt. On this job the money was very good — but all his clients nowadays were corporados. He reached his decision as they were approaching Pier 40. "I've decided to pass," he said. "Tell your friends that this 'Resign' thing was a joke to begin with and it's almost certain to remain a joke if it doesn't get any publicity. I know it's not your idea of a joke, but it poses no threat to the Israeli government. They should consider it a prank and ignore it."
This advice was relayed by the go-between to The Client, who immediately offered to double the fee if Best would remain in their employ. His mentor had taught him back in the '60s, "The more you charge, the better the client assumes you are and the more urgently he wants to hire you." Best himself had added a corollary: "And when you turn them down, that's when they really want you." But he was not playing games, he really did turn down the case at that point.
When Harvey Stein's 1988 Volvo was found at the bottom of a ravine just off the treacherous Boonville-Ukiah road, the Bugle ran a front-page piece by Walt Campbell suggesting the possibility of foul play linked to the "Right to Resign" project. Campbell quoted his partner Colangelo: "People who call it 'Harvey Stein's thing' overlook the fact that somebody put him up to it."
Stephen Best made a point of reminding the Prophetecque founder that he had provided wise counsel and had been ignored. The AI billionaire blamed distant decision-makers: "I told them what you said made sense. But that fucking 'Boycott Israel' has them freaked out of their fucking minds. When they heard about this Resign thing they thought it might spread in the same way, So, you know, why not nip it in the bud?"
NEW COUNTRY, MEXIFORNIA, CREATED BY UNITED NATIONS!
As the over 100,000 refugees per month entering from south of the American border are victims of American imperialistic policy and American drug usage, the United Nations has decided to cede the following American California counties to the newly formed country of Mexifornia.
Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity counties are to be given to the newly formed government of Mexifornia for settlement of the victims of American imperialism.
All residents of these counties will have 30 days to take what possessions they can carry and leave their homes and property so as the victims of American imperialism have a home and country.
Failure to do so or destruction of your property before leaving will result in the implementation of martial law and severe consequences.
I am certain that all Progressives and other socially evolved individuals will see the need for this United Nation action and will be understanding and supportive for the need of the creation of this new nation.
(Mike Sears, Coast Listserve)
MY OWN RECORD is impeccable: I am not now and have never been a member of any church. Nor have I ever, even in this late adolescence, believed in God or afterlife or a power or consciousness beyond this world that is interested in this world... Religion, in short, bores me even more than Marxism.
— Dwight Macdonald
TRAVELS IN MEXICO: Memento Mori
by Paul Theroux
Protest was mingled with the fiesta, the fiesta with ritual, and many of the ritualized masquerades had their origins in ancient Aztec culture, an empire of blood sacrifice and skulls and glittering masks. But the modern masquerade -- precisely because the participants were masked -- guaranteed anonymity, offering an opportunity for people to take to the streets and act out their grievances.
The Day of the Dead was just such a fiesta. It was a solemn ritual, it was a vigil in graveyards, it was a masquerade, it was a binge, it was an occasion for dressing up and looking fabulous, it included political protest. And it was a party.
Dominating this fiesta was the grinning image of Death. "One of Mexico's national totems," which emerged in the aftermath of the Mexican Revolution (roughly 1910-1920), Claudio Lomnitz writes. The other totems Lomnitz lists are the Virgin of Guadalupe Day (representing hope) and the image of Benito Juarez (representing reason). Mexican identity derived from the implications in these images. It is the Mexican boast that the gringo denies death, or has a horror of it, or in Europe sees death as tragic or romantic. "But during Mexico's 20th century," writes Lomnitz, "a gay familiarity with death became a cornerstone of national identity." He continues, "Mexico's nationalization of death has a more nihilistic and lighthearted component. It is a modern refurbishment of a medieval theme."
Disputations on death are a national pastime in Mexico especially by intellectuals like Lomnitz, or Carlos Fuentes in ‘This I Believe,’ or Octavio Paz when he writes, "the Mexican chases after death, mocks it, courts it, hugs it, and sleeps with it. He thinks of it as his favorite plaything and his most lasting love."
But the skeptical Mexican literary critic and novelist Guillermo Sheridan (quoted in Kathryn A. Sloan's ‘Death in the City’) sees the obsession with death as a sham, a custom cooked up by self-interested impresarios -- "anthropologists, film directors and artists such as Frida Kahlo" -- to which tourists, loving a party, gave a big boost. All these Mexican speculations seem true to me -- death as a party, a plaything, the protests, a somber ritual. These notions animated Oaxaca in those first days of November along with the paradox that manifestations of the death cult -- ranging from the comic to the macabre -- created a sense of vitality.
Memento mori -- remember you must die -- is the subtext of Mexican life and no wonder. Consider the shocking statistics of Mexico's homicides -- in 2017 around 30,000, the greatest number of annual murders in modern Mexican history. This was exceeded by the murders in 2018 when I was winding up my Mexico trip. No one shrugged at these statistics: the wise ones kept their heads down, they whispered advice, they stayed indoors at night, they locked their doors; the vulnerable ones headed for the border and safety; the others -- the vast majority -- continued to live and work as before. The medieval theme was "Death comes to all and makes a mockery of us all." And in the street theater and cemetery crapulosities -- borracheras -- of those Days of the Dead, the Mexicans returned the compliment: they dressed as skeletons, they parade in skull masks, they make gifts of sugar skulls, they engage in macabre dances, they mock death.
But it was not a Mexican intellectual who summed up for me the ambiguities in the Mexican relationship to death. It was Muriel Spark in her novel ‘Memento Mori’: "If I had my life over again I should form the habit of nightly composing myself to thoughts of death. I would practice, as it were, the remembrance of death. There is no other practice which so intensifies life. Death, when it approaches, ought not to take one by surprise. It should be part of the full expectancy of life. Without an ever present sense of death, life is insipid."
Was it this death awareness that so vitalized me in Mexico? I was at that point more than halfway through my road trip and in a lifetime of travel had never felt more fully alive, more eager to wake each morning and see what today would bring -- even when what it might bring was a nighttime vigil in a cemetery and an array of skulls. Mexico was for me a world of struggle, of incident, of questioning, of people under threat and prevailing over their humble circumstances which was a lesson to me of venerating the past and being true, being determined to live. I kept thinking with pleasure, I'm still here!
The image I carried away was that of the solemn old woman crouched by a tombstone at the old cemetery at Xoxocotlan, looking severe in her grief and staring defiantly at me, the intruder.
INEPTOCRACY - a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.