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DRY WEATHER is expected to occur across northwest California during the next seven days. In addition, inland valleys will enter a warming trend, with afternoon highs reaching the 90s to low 100s Sunday through Wednesday. Furthermore, upvalley northwest to west winds will be locally breezy most afternoons through the middle of next week. (NWS)
3 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.
MENDO SEES INCREASE IN COVID-19 CASES
Over the past three weeks, there has been a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Mendocino County. This increase is significant because it may move Mendocino County to the more restrictive Orange Tier, which means reductions in both indoor and outdoor capacity limits and indoor bars that do not serve food. Sauna and hot tub facilities would also have to close. With Memorial Day and summer approaching, we want to encourage everyone to gather safely and reduce COVID-19 spread in our communities.
What can Mendocino County residents and workers do to help reduce COVID-19 cases in our communities? Mendocino County Health Officer, Dr. Coren, continues to emphasize that getting the COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to protect yourself against the virus and help our County stop the increase in cases. We also encourage frequent testing, for those who are NOT vaccinated. Testing allows us to protect our loved ones and better understand how the virus is circulating in our communities as we approach summer.
We expect an increase in gatherings across the County in the coming weeks due to Memorial Day and graduation celebrations. Residents should carefully plan gatherings to minimize the risk of COVID spread and avoid a further increase in cases. What you can do to minimize the risk:
- Hold gatherings outdoors whenever possible, with a limit of 100 people;
- Limit indoor gatherings to 50 people or 50% capacity, whichever is less;
- Ensure all attendees wear masks in crowded spaces, even if fully vaccinated; and
- If social distance can be maintained outdoors, masking is not required.
- Mendocino County residents can help reduce COVID-19 cases across our communities by:
- Getting a COVID-19 vaccine
- Testing once per month for those who are not vaccinated
- Carefully planning all gatherings
- Wearing a mask indoors and in crowded outdoor spaces
Please stay vigilant a little longer to protect our community and help us return to normal. For more information about COVID-19 vaccines, testing, masking, and gatherings contact the Mendocino County Public Health COVID-19 call center at 707-472-2759 or visit our website at: mendocinocounty.org/community/novel-coronavirus.
IN BLOOM AT MENDOCINO COAST BOTANICAL GARDENS
MCBG Bloom Blast! Updates and info on upcoming events, bloom reports, gardening tips, educational opportunities, and more...
OVER TWO HUNDRED MENDOCINO COUNTY RESIDENTS GATHER IN UKIAH To Celebrate Mural Depicting Round Valley’s Khadijah Britton
Yesterday evening, over two hundred people gathered at Ukiah’s Arbor Youth Resource Center celebrating the completion of a mural depicting Covelo’s Khadijah Britton, a missing and possibly murdered indigenous woman who disappeared over three years ago. The celebration included speeches, dancers, prayers, and a meal for all attending guests.
STATE ORDERS HALT TO HUNDREDS OF RUSSIAN RIVER DIVERSIONS In Sonoma, Mendocino Counties As Drought Imperils Supplies
The California State Water Resources Control Board issued notices this week to 930 entities in Sonoma and Mendocino counties with rights to divert water from the upper Russian River telling them the drought has diminished supplies so substantially that there is no longer enough water for them to take.
Those affected this week and next are all located upriver of the confluence of Dry Creek near Healdsburg and include farmers, grape growers, rural residents, towns and small water providers and utilities. Many may still have access to groundwater wells or have other water rights permitting them to continue drawing on the river.
Violators may be fined $1,000 a day or $2,500 per acre foot of water diverted.
State regulators have begun notifying more than 900 water rights holders in Sonoma and Mendocino counties that they must stop drawing from the upper Russian River, where drought-shriveled flows are unable to sustain those diversions for irrigation and household use, according to the state.
The crackdown affects grape growers and other farm producers, as well as rural residents and several communities along the upper river — from Healdburg north to Ukiah — where groundwater and other rights are likely to be used more heavily in the coming months to keep crops alive and taps flowing. Those who don’t comply could face fines of up to $1,000 a day.
It is the strongest action yet by regulators in response to dwindling supplies in the sprawling Russian River watershed and its two receding reservoirs. Lake Mendocino, which sits at the top of the basin and helps sustain flows in the upper river through the dry months, holds less than 41% of its capacity for this time of year.
“Unless we immediately reduce diversions, there is a real risk of Lake Mendocino emptying by the end of this year,” Erik Ekdahl, deputy director of the water board’s Division of Water Rights, said Wednesday.
The State Water Resources Control Board wants an immediate halt of withdrawals by those above the confluence with Dry Creek who claim “appropriative” water rights acquired after 1949, the point when authorization was granted for construction of Coyote Dam, which would create Lake Mendocino.
The notice extends until next week the impact on those with more senior rights, whose claims date back to 1914, the year the state first began to regulate surface water use. Those individuals are instructed to stop diverting water beginning June 1.
“We need to implement the water rights system to protect supplies in case of another dry winter, which could transform the Russian River into a series of disconnected pools and restrict the availability of drinking water in the area,” Ekdahl said.
The state’s move to restrict Russian River diversions has been anticipated for weeks and is likely to remain in effect until winter rains return, assuming they do.
The water board has so far sent notices to 930 water right holders in the two counties informing them supplies are insufficient to fulfill their claims and still ensure local communities have enough drinking water for this year and next.
The move affects grape growers and farmers, as well as other rural landowners, residents and small water suppliers that run from Ukiah through Hopland and Cloverdale. There are exemptions for those who depend on diverted water for human health and safety needs and who can show they already conserve as much water as possible.
Many with claims to the Russian River hold different kinds of water rights and also have access to groundwater wells or even springs on which they can lean if they lose their ability to draw water through an appropriative right — one that isn’t related to land adjacency. Others permitted to store diverted water may have reserves on hand to help see them through to the next rain.
But there are plenty of growers in rural areas who “don’t have another bucket to pursue — or at least, a big enough bucket to pursue,” said Sean White, water and sewer director for the city of Ukiah and a longtime water manager in the region.
They include pear growers, alfalfa farmers and grape growers, too. “It’s going to be tough for them,” White said.
The notices mailed out Tuesday are legally distinct from curtailment orders, which offer water rights holders no opportunity to challenge calculations at the heart of the crackdown, Ekdahl said.
But while recipients who continue to divert surface water can request a hearing they are still subject to enforcement and fines up to $1,000 per day and $2,500 per acre-foot of unauthorized water. An acre-foot is enough water to cover a football field about a foot deep or about enough to provide for a family household for a year.
Alexander Valley grape grower Dennis Murphy, of Murphy Ranch, said anyone ignoring the notice would be running a significant risk, given the severity of the drought and the enforcement effort likely to be mounted by the state water board.
“There really is zero water available,” he said.
Talking by cellphone Thursday as he drove from one store to another in search of plumbing parts and connectors to try to do what he could to stretch his existing water supply over the 120 days or so his cabernet grapes will need to be ready for harvest, Murphy said he already had spoken with his insurance company about abandoning certain blocks in the vineyard this season.
For the rest, there are some new products that help grape vines better tolerate heat and resist heat stroke. “A lot of it’s going to be experimental this summer,” along with tried and true management practices proven over decades in the industry, he said.
For everyone, “there’s going to be some hard choices about what to water and what not to water,” Murphy said.
The water board signaled curtailment orders — a more complex regulatory process — are coming and could be imposed on those with very senior, pre-1914 rights as well as those with riparian rights — those with land that touches water bodies or water courses. All diverters already have been asked to use as little water as possible given historically low seasonal water levels in Lake Mendocino and far larger Lake Sonoma, which sits at 58% capacity.
After two very low rainfall years, both reservoirs are at the lowest levels ever this early in the year, with the dry, high-water-user summer months still to come.
Bret Munselle, who farms 300 acres of wine grapes in the Alexander Valley with his father, Bill, and another 400 acres for different clients said they had some groundwater wells they could use but likely not enough to supplant what he would lose if he was cut off from diverting river water.
He hadn’t received his notice yet and so was reluctant to draw too many conclusions, but said most vineyards in the region had been raised on drip irrigation, dependent on small amounts of water on a fairly frequent basis so they used less water overall than when sprinklers were used.
The result is the small, intensely flavored fruit best for fine wines, he said.
But with the prospect of little or no water available to many growers in the critical summer months, some vineyard owners were contemplating drastic action, including removing a large volume of grape clusters so all available liquid and energy could go into a partial crop or pruning off the canes altogether and forgoing a harvest this year in hopes of keeping the vines alive.
Munselle said there was little to do before seeing the specifics in the state board’s plan, but “if it’s a complete curtailment, it will be bad. It will really be bad for the valley floor of Alexander Valley.”
Barb Petersen, office manager for Hoot Owl Creek and Alexander Valley Vineyards, said a reservoir on the grounds holds about 16 million gallons of water and is nearly full. She said crews had been checking and double-checking lines to ensure there was no leakage and probably would be watering only when stress tests shows the vines absolutely needed it.
Anticipating reduced access to river water, she said she put together a worksheet to figure out how much water would be available to workers, nine households on the property, the tasting room and wine production, but the rules for use of stored water are different for different purposes, so there were still lots of questions to be answered about what would be permitted and how state interventions would affect different water rights on the property.
Isaul “Junior” Macias, who will soon be taking over as manager for the two vineyards, said two springs and a groundwater well, along with the reservoir storage, mean their 300 acres of grapes may come through summer better than others’.
But “I’m not saying this is not going to be hard,” he said. “I’m just trying to judge and balance irrigation cycles. I want to be as efficient as possible going forward.”
Claire Ramey, co-owner of Ramey Cellars in Healdsburg, said her family had been contemplating some “major replanting” in a chardonnay vineyard along the river but might have to rethink that now. But it remained unclear how they would be affected by the state’s actions, given what thought were very senior water rights.
“We are definitely on tenterhooks,” she said. “It’s pretty sweeping of them, and I imagine they will get some pushback, because that’s pretty dramatic of them to pull on people midseason.”
Russian River water right holders were among about 40,000 statewide who received early warning notices in March alerting them of potential shortages this year. Though water insufficiency notices or curtailments are likely in other watersheds in the coming months, Russian River users are the first to receive them so far, according to Ekdahl.
Sonoma and Mendocino counties also were the first counties for which Gov. Gavin Newsom on April 22 proclaimed a local drought emergency, doing so while standing on the dry lake bed of a diminished Lake Mendocino. The proclamation now covers 41 California counties.
Similar strictures imposed on 652 water rights holders on the Russian River in 2014 lasted from May 27 to Nov. 14 of that year, with additional orders issued part way through the summer.
The water board’s current action is part of a multipronged effort to address what are now deemed “exceptional drought” conditions — the most severe category — in the Russian River watershed, which is dependent on regular rainfall to supply domestic and agricultural water.
Sonoma Water, the county agency that acts as the region’s main drinking water wholesaler, also is seeking permission from the state to release less water from Lake Mendocino than is usually required for imperiled salmon and steelhead trout in order to preserve supplies.
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors and most local cities have asked constituents to voluntarily cut water use 20% compared to last year, saying mandatory conservation measures will be required if voluntary efforts don’t suffice.
(Mary Callahan, Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
KNOW YOUR EVAC ZONE TEST REPORT
‘The Test Lets Us Build a Better System’: Mendocino County’s Office of Emergency Services on Yesterday’s Test of the Wireless Emergency Alert System
NEW HOSPITAL GETS FINAL INSPECTION; dedication June 26. The building of a hospital may well be told in the words of Moliere, who said: “The road is a long one from the projection of a thing to its accomplishment.” Today, after six long years, and thousands of man-hours of work by hundreds of volunteers, accomplishment is near, that accomplishment being the opening of the new Mendocino Coast District Hospital.
(Fort Bragg Advocate, May 27, 1971)
DON’T HIT THE SUPES OVER THE HEAD
Supervisor Maureen Mulheren: "Yesterday a caller in the meeting referenced hitting the BOS over the head. Ellen Drell on a radio interview said she wanted to hit the BOS over the head with a two by four. I’m only one person out of five but let me be very clear this is unacceptable and not an ok way to try to get your point across. We don’t have to agree but we do have to respect each other and speak civilly. I am always happy to discuss any vote or action that I take. Join me for one of my meetings or give me a call but talking about violence is not acceptable from anyone for or against any position."
WHEN FORT BRAGG HAD TWO PAPERS
I am not a native of Fort Bragg, but that is where I grew up, and it remains home. I was just reading the editorial in the Fort Bragg Advocate about the reorganization of the newspaper, and thought I would take note of the fact that when I was young Fort Bragg had two newspapers—the Advocate and the Paul Bunyan News. I have a vague recollection that the Advocate office was east of Main Street, maybe a little beyond Franklin, and that the Paul Bunyan News office was on the west side of Main Street, maybe not far from where the train tracks crossed. My folks owned a motel, now long gone, and advertised in both newspapers, as well as subscribing to both. I think the two papers merged in the early 1960s.
GOMES SUES MENDO TOWN SERVICES DISTRICT AGAIN
Steven Gomes filed another lawsuit against Mendocino City Community Services District in an attempt to undermine the District’s conservation efforts during a severe two-year drought. Mr. Gomes’ first lawsuit, filed in June 30, 2015, failed to prevent the MCCSD from working to conserve and sustain the community’s groundwater resources. The one minor area where he succeeded was to force the District to re-adopt its Groundwater Management Plan last year. The only tangible results from his original suit are significant legal fees imposed upon the District and our community.
Harold Hauck, President of the MCCSD’s elected board of directors, said: “It is unfortunate that as the people of Mendocino are impacted by a severe drought, Mr. Gomes has filed a second lawsuit attempting again to undermine the MCCSD’s legal right to manage groundwater resources for the benefit of the entire Mendocino Community.”
Along with repeating issues that Mr. Gomes unsuccessfully raised in his last lawsuit against the MCCSD, the current complaint lacks many specific factual details. The District will vigorously defend the new lawsuit while making every effort to limit legal costs.
The MCCSD board of directors made an emergency Stage Four Drought Declaration at its meeting on May 3, 2021 due to 2020-2021 rainfall of less than 50 percent of normal and lowering groundwater in District test wells to levels. Water conservation is imperative this coming summer and fall. Coping with this severe draught will be difficult for us all.
— Ryan Rhoades, Superintendent, Mendocino City Community Services District
RED BEARD has been identified as William Allan Evers, 40, wanted for parole violation prior to his Mendo adventures. He was identified via some savvy forensics work by the Sheriff's Department. There is speculation that Evers may have been wounded last week when a deputy, pursuing Evers on foot after dark off Cameron Road, exchanged gunfire with the fugitive at a distance of about 12 feet. The deputy was not hit, and Evers kept on running as deputies lost sight of him. He is assumed to have shaved his distinctive red beard and, assuming he wasn't injured in the exchange of gunfire, may be out of the area by now. (Every other Mendo guy under the age of fifty seems to resemble the guy in basic grunge style.)
LAST MAN STANDING. Ahem, that seems to be a reference to me if you're talking newspapers in the Anderson Valley, because the Press Democrat, the SF Chronicle and the mighty New York Times will no longer be distributed in AV, and the distributor has already cut off the South Coast. Outside newspapers haven't been available at Gallery Book Shop for some time, but may be at that little coffee kiosk across the street from the old firehouse. At the Mendocino Book Company in Ukiah they sell exactly 3 SF Chronicles a day and an average of 4 Press Democrats.
DOYEN of Northcoast newspaper people, Gaye LeBaron of the Press Democrat, was contacted through former PD staffer Mike Geniella, who asked her eminence about the history of the circulation of the Press Democrat beyond the Rose City. She remembers, “I can make a reasonably educated guess that it began in the late 40s when Bill Townes took over as publisher and turned the PD into a regional paper. Dan Bowerman continued that with a vengeance, referring to the circulation area as ‘Mid-Empire.’ It has certainly served Ukiah for all my years of association — 64.”
I STARTED READING the Press Democrat when I arrived in Boonville, circa 1970, and still read it every day on-line. In exile from the cool grey city of love, I also used to buy the Chronicle every day at the Anderson Valley Market, stopping only when Herb Caen retired. I never have read the NY Times, only because I've never wanted to set aside a couple of hours to absorb it, agreeing with Noam Chomsky that the only truth in the paper is buried somewhere in the final paragraphs, but you've got to read all the trickery before you get to them.
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT was always a must read, not so much anymore but certainly back in the 70's and 80's before the internet and cell phones kicked in and destroyed newspapers and the rest of the world with them. The PD provided exhaustive coverage of high school sports, and everyone who had a kid playing ball from Point Arena to Covelo read the paper and its encyclopedic sports guy, Herb Dower. Mendocino County was important enough that the PD established the much missed Mike Geniella full time in Ukiah, whose fine reporting out of Mendocino County several times drew national attention. The paper also funded Pat McKay to report on the Mendocino Coast, a jolly mumu hippie complete with granny glasses who fell in love with a Syrian, and the next time I saw her she was un-jolly and clad in a full harem tent, wobbling ten feet before her new man. And, like everyone else in this area, I was an avid reader of Gaye LeBaron's daily PD column, several times exchanging barbs with the old girl who out-barbed me with her numerically superior circulation numbers. I tossed one barb south and got 50,000 back at me. As troubadour Bob told us back in '65, the times were a'changin. He couldn't have known the times were also a'ending.
THE MEDIA are never more shameless than in the aftermath of a mass shooting. The Bay Area stations have presented pretty much the same info for 48 hours now, but were a full day behind the Daily Mail of London in their interview with the lunatic's former girlfriend and the basic facts of his loner life, such as his divorce and his relations, such as they were, with his neighbors.
DR. FAUCI is getting rolled by Trumpers, of course, and also much of the mainstream media who claim he's a flip-flopper. The Trumpers say their orange oracle, knower of all things, correctly blamed covid on China at the plague's outset, a charge resulting in street attacks on elderly Asians and the ongoing vilification of China, a totalitarian country fully deserving of vilification given its government, but whose vilification ought to be based on facts, right compadres? Orange Man also recommended shots of bleach as a cure but his mesmerized legions aren't about to turn in their prayer rugs any time soon.
FAUCI, like honest people everywhere, adjusts his opinions in keeping with new information, a character trait that used to be honored, not insulted. And new facts seem to point to a Chinese government lab as the accidental source of the outbreak, the kind of lab we also maintain, as do many countries.
On Tuesday, May 25, 2021 at approximately 10:35 AM, Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched to an in-progress burglary of a residence in the 5000 block of North Highway 1 in Little River.
Deputies immediately responded and were advised that a male and female had exited the residence and left the location in a dark colored Volvo sedan.
Deputies arrived in the area and began trying to located the vehicle to include the male and female subjects. The vehicle was quickly located parked and unoccupied on the shoulder of Highway 1, south of the burglarized residence.
Deputies observed fresh tracks that led into a steep canyon from the vehicle. Deputies and a California Highway Patrol Officer established a perimeter around the location and eventually located and detained Richard Wayne Olstad, 27, of Fort Bragg, and Monique Marie Valador 31, of Fort Bragg.
Both Olstad and Valador were positively identified by the victims (eyewitnesses to the burglary) and they were then arrested for 459/460(a) PC (First Degree Burglary).
A records check revealed that Olstad was currently on County Parole and he had an active felony arrest warrant for a parole violation and a misdemeanor arrest warrant for a pending domestic violence case. Olstad was also found to be on pre-trial release for a pending felony case.
Olstad was ultimately arrested for:
- First Degree Burglary
- County Parole Violation
- Commit Felony while on Pre-Trial Release for Pending Felony
- Felony Arrest Warrant
- Misdemeanor Arrest Warrant.
Valador was arrested for:
- First Degree Burglary
- Felony Probation Violation
- Commit Felony while on Pre-Trial Release for Pending Felony.
Both Olstad and Valador were booked into the Mendocino County Jail, where Olstad is being held in lieu of $120,000 bail and Valador in lieu of $75,000 bail.
VISITING FROM LAKE COUNTY....
On Tuesday, May 25, 2021 at 10:32 P.M., Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched to a reported argument between a male and female in the area of Coyote Valley Boulevard and North State Street in Redwood Valley.
On arrival, the Deputies spoke to citizens in the area and were told the male and female left the area walking northbound on North State Street.
The Deputies searched the area and located the male and female subjects in the area of North State Street and Pincrest Drive.
The male subject was identified as Joshua Colcleaser, 35, of Ukiah, and the Deputies learned he and the female subject had only been involved in an argument wherein no criminal law had been violated.
The Deputies performed a probation check on both subjects and learned Colcleaser was on formal probation out of Lake County.
Colcleaser's probation terms included a fourth amendment waiver (must submit to search). The Deputies searched Colcleaser's backpack and located a can of aerosol pepper spray.
The Deputies developed probable cause to believe Colcleaser was a convicted felon and was prohibited by law from possessing pepper spray.
The Deputies arrested Colcleaser for Felon in Possession of Tear Gas and Felony Violation of Probation.
Colcleaser was booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was released on zero bail after the jail booking process in accordance with the COVID-19 bail schedule set forth by the State of California Judicial Council.
WELL, THERE IS THAT THING OUTTA SACRAMENTO
On Saturday, May 22, 2021 at approximately 3:03 P. M., a Deputy from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office was on patrol in the 7700 block of North State Street in Redwood Valley.
During this time, the Deputy saw a female and a male subject talking in a parking lot.
Once the two parties separated, the Deputy initiated a consensual contact with the female to try and find out if she knew the identity of the male subject she had been talking to as observed.
The Deputy believed the male subject may have had active warrants for his arrest and was trying to confirm his identity.
During the conversation and subsequent investigation, the female provided the name of Jane Smith and a date of birth. A check of this name and date of birth with dispatch revealed the female had most likely provided a false name as the name did not produce a return.
Upon further questioning, the female provided two other names and dates of birth which also did not provide a return.
Believing the female may be wanted for a crime or have warrants for her arrest, the Deputy asked the female if she was providing false names because she had warrants for her arrest.
The female admitted she probably had a warrant for her arrest out of Sacramento County (California) for a domestic violence incident.
Once the Deputy learned the female may have a warrant for her arrest, the Deputy advised the female she was detained and requested her true name and date of birth.
The female provided another three false names and dates of birth before finally providing her true name of Jade Anderson, 41, from Sacramento County, with her correct date of birth.
The Deputy checked this name and date of birth with dispatch and was informed Anderson had a Felony Parole Warrant for her arrest for Manslaughter) out of Sacramento County.
Anderson was placed under arrest for the above warrant without incident.
Anderson was subsequently booked into the Mendocino County Jail where she was to be held in lieu of a no bail status.
LAYTONVILLE GUY SCRIBBLES ALL OVER LAYTONVILLE
On Wednesday, May 19, 2021 at about 8:30 A.M., Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched to several reported vandalism incidents at different locations in Laytonville:
Pour Girls Coffee
Laytonville Unified School District
A Deputy responded to each of the locations, took a report and began an investigation into each reported case.
During the Deputy's investigation the suspect was identified as being Antonio Rodriguez, 23, of Laytonville, and a search warrant was was obtained for Rodriguez's residence.
The search warrant was served at his residence located in the 100 block of Lucas Lane in Laytonville, California. Rodriguez was not present during the service of the search warrant.
During the search of the residence evidence was located connecting Rodriguez to the vandalism cases.
The Deputy received information Rodriguez had left the Laytonville area and was staying at an unknown location in Ukiah, California.
On 05-26-2021 the Deputy received information Rodriguez had returned to Laytonville and had been seen on Lucas Lane.
The Deputy authored a Ramey Arrest Warrant for Rodriguez and a Mendocino County Superior Court Judge granted the arrest warrant.
Deputies subsequently contacted Rodriguez in the 100 block of Lucas Lane and arrested him without incident.
Rodriguez was booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in lieu of $15,000 bail.
POT GROWS, an on-line comment: "What really burns me up about these grows are not only the disrespect for our environment but the diversion of water from sources that other families need for their ability to continue to live in their homes during the dry summer months that are predicted once again this year. People who have worked very hard their entire lifetimes to provide shelter and a nice home for themselves and their families only to have the ability to remain there stripped from them due to the greed of others. This is the kind of greed that can never be satiated, no matter what the consequences to anyone living nearby or downriver. It is sickening and disgusting."
BOARD OF SUPERVISORS SPECIAL MEETING AGENDA - JUNE 2ND, 2021
Community Partners, Colleagues, and Interested Parties:
The Board of Supervisors Meeting Agenda for the Tuesday, June 2nd, 2021, meeting is now available on the County website: https://mendocino.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx
Please contact Clerk of the Board at (707) 463-4441 if you have any questions regarding this message.
Mendocino County Board of Supervisors and
501 Low Gap Road, Room 1010
Phone: (707) 463-4441
Fax: (707) 463-7237
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BoS - Wednesday, June 2, 2021 - item 4a
Discussion and Possible Action Including Direction to Staff to Draft Tax Relief for Licensed Cannabis Cultivators 10,000 Square Feet and Less and Increase Tax for Larger Farms, in a Manner That Would be Revenue Neutral to the County
(Sponsor: Supervisor Williams)
Direct Staff to Draft Tax Relief for licensed cannabis cultivators 10,000 square feet and less and increase tax for larger farms in a manner that would be revenue neutral to the county.
SUMMARY OF REQUEST:
Economic feasibility of small farms, complex state licensing regulation, the drought and other forces necessitate a review of our cannabis cultivation tax structure. Our taxation structure could be adjusted for progressive burden, leveraging community benefits agreements attached to Phase 3 use permits.
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CANNABIS INFORMATION SESSION 6-1-21
To assist the public in keeping up to date with the Cannabis Program we are hosting another information session. Please join us on June 1, 2021, from 5:30 - 7:00 p.m. (PST) for this virtual information session. Time will be made for Q&A. The items to be covered in this session include:
- Recap of the Cannabis portion of the CEO Report from the May 25th Board of Supervisors meeting (Click here to view the report).
- Ministerial versus Discretionary Permits.
- Conditioning permits.
If you have questions on the items listed above, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org by 5:00 p.m. on May 31, 2021.
Information Session login details:
To join via Zoom please use the link below:
To join via telephone please use one of the following numbers:
- +1 669 900 9128 US (San Jose)
- +1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
- +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
- +1 646 558 8656 US (New York)
- +1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC)
- +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
Webinar ID: 895 816 9223
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CANNABIS ALLIANCE COMPROMISE PROPOSAL
As many of those in our community are already aware, there has been a great deal of public conversation recently around the proposed Commercial Cannabis Activities Ordinance in Mendocino County. MCA as an organization strives to support our members and the community at large by developing practical solutions to the complex issues that face us all. We understand the importance of engaging with all relevant stakeholders and creating policy recommendations that take into account the complex environment of differing interests throughout the county.
It is with these considerations in mind that we have developed a position designed to encourage compromise among all of those who are engaged in this county-wide conversation. We understand that to some this position will go too far, and to some this position will not go far enough. The nature of compromise, both as a trade association representing the full spectrum of cannabis businesses in Mendocino county, and in public policy, often means that no one gets exactly what they want, but hopefully everyone gets something they can live with. In hopes of helping to bring together our fractured community, we believe our recommendations create a compromise that gives all stakeholders enough of what is important to them to come together and move our community forward.
Please visit http://bit.ly/MCA_CCAO_Recs to view our recommendations which support a balanced approach to sustainable cannabis development in Mendocino County. If you agree, please email email@example.com to share your thoughts with the Board of Supervisors.
The Mendocino Cannabis Alliance serves and promotes Mendocino County’s world-renowned cannabis cultivators and businesses through sustainable economic development, education and public policy initiatives.
Mendocino Cannabis Alliance
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MCA would like to acknowledge the massive effort that each of you, County Staff and the Planning Commission have undertaken to develop a cannabis cultivation ordinance and program that will work. It has been a long road fraught with challenges, but we strongly agree that this discretionary land-use based permit program is a necessary component of a sustainable, regulated cannabis economic sector in Mendocino County. An untold number of existing businesses in the Phase 1 & 2 programs may need to seek conditional permitting under the CCAO in order to receive fully CEQA-compliant annual licenses from CDFA, and should be allowed to avail themselves of this process rather than having to shut down or move away.
It is imperative that existing operators have this pathway as an option, and we ask the community at-large to stand together in support of these existing, tax-paying, small businesses and to say ‘No’ to any referendum that could put many of our licensed community members out of business.
It is for these reasons that MCA has adopted the following recommendations on the CCAO in the spirit of presenting a community-wide compromise, understanding that successful public policy often requires the softening of hard lines to achieve reasonable progress. With our willingness to compromise we hope to encourage more of our community members to do the same. We sincerely believe that we have taken into account ALL of the various stakeholders in this important conversation about the future of Mendocino County in hopes that we can move forward together in collaboration. We ask the Board to enact these reasonable and balanced recommendations:
1. Adopt the recent recommendations made by the Planning Commission, including allowing limited expansion with a major use permit in select zoning districts, while also implementing reasonable limits on the stacking of licenses.
a. Any additional expansion, in terms of canopy area, zoning districts, and consideration of cultivation at any level in disallowed zoning should be explored and assessed in a full programmatic Environmental Impact Report (EIR) prior to adoption.
b. No expansion should be permitted until after the current State of Emergency related to drought conditions has been lifted.
2. Codify all previously discussed protections for Phase 1 and 2 operators into the CCAO, including the ability to continue operations while applying for a permit under the CCAO, the ability to use a streamlined application process to transition to the CCAO, and prioritized processing of their applications for the CCAO whenever submitted.
3. Change the following two definitions and standards in the CCAO to match those currently utilized by the State for cannabis cultivation:
a. Regarding the limitations on cultivation in Rangeland, replace the term previously ‘tilled’ with the term previously ‘disturbed area’1 as is used by the State Water Quality Control Board in determining the tier and risk of environmental impact.
b. Regarding the type of energy allowed for use on Mixed Light and Indoor cultivation, align with the State’s energy use standards2 which, starting in 2023 will impose strict and significant changes to the industry, including carbon offsets for non-renewable energy consumption and other programs.
The approach to the CCAO proposed above, and generally in accordance with the Planning Commission’s recommendations, constitutes a common sense middle path that earnestly aims to respectfully consider the desires of all stakeholder groups who have been expressing competing concerns for the future of Mendocino County, and takes concrete steps to protect our environment in the process.
Thank you for your consideration of our recommendations. We believe that this is the path of least resistance, and while it does not give everyone everything they want, it does give everyone some of what they are seeking, which is the best possible outcome in a diverse rural democracy.
Mendocino Cannabis Alliance
Disturbed area is defined as land area where natural conditions have been modified in a way that may result in an increase in turbidity in storm water discharged from the site, such as by removal of natural plant growth or modification of natural grade. Land disturbed for construction of roads, buildings, water storage areas, soil amendment storage areas, excavation, grading, or site clearing are included in the total disturbed area calculation.
CATCH OF THE DAY, May 27, 2021
ANGELA CURTIS, Willits. Domestic battery.
MIRIAM KASHIWIDA, Fort Bragg. Domestic battery.
JEROME MCMURPHY, Ukiah. Parole violation.
ANTONIO RODRIGUEZ, Laytonville. Vandalism.
TORREY THURMAN. Fort Bragg. Evasion, prior felony enhancement.
SHANNON WILLIAMS, Laytonville. Disobeying court order.
JENNA WILSON, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.
TERRANCE YOUNG, Willits. Failure to appear.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
What’s really fascinating to me is this notion that everybody alive shares a common ancestry from two individuals, a man and a woman, Adam and Eve in the Bible, a topic that’s been bandied about for a while by scientists. No idea where it stands now but some geneticists said a while back that the most likely place for these ancestral people was somewhere in east Africa, maybe 150,000 years ago.
And this idea also, that humanity didn’t always struggle to scratch a living out of the dirt, a time before farming, idealized as the Garden of Eden. The Bible talks about a transformation of human consciousness before the expulsion from the Garden. Not an exact parallel but archeologists refer to a Great Leap Forward, a huge transformation when people became behaviorally modern, evidenced by an enormous flowering of technological innovation and artistry around 50,000 years ago, maybe the time when modern language took shape.....
I don’t blame Israel for the recent violence in that region. Rather, I blame the U.S. government. The US has a “special” relationship with Israel unlike any other country. In clinical terms, this would be described as a classic codependency. Bad for Israel. Bad for America. Terrible for the Palestinians.
By offering unconditional economic, military and diplomatic support, the U.S. is complicit in every gross human rights violation Israel is accused of. The recent Human Rights Watch report accusing Israel of apartheid and persecution should have referenced the U.S. too. Likewise, when Amnesty International said the eviction of Palestinian families from the Sheik Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem was a war crime, the U.S. should have also been condemned.
On the final day of the 9/11 hearings in June 2004, Lee Hamilton, the co-chair of the 9/11 commission, asked the panel of intelligence experts what motivated the hijackers to attack America. The response from FBI Special Agent James Fitzgerald was not surprising: “They identify with the Palestinian problem, they identify with people who oppose repressive regimes and they tend to focus their anger on the United States.”
by David Mistretta
Shelter, (n.) - To cover from violence, injury, annoyance, or attack; to defend, protect from danger
In and throughout the history of life on earth, one of the primary basic needs of the physiological self for most living beings is shelter.
The absence of this necessity, in most cases is an intrinsically undermining & overwhelmingly present factor; creating foundation for mindsets behind loss, inability, scarcity, apathy, greed, violence, and so forth. Shelter itself is not necessarily always defined as four walls & a roof. It can be found throughout cities, air, water, the soil, under the forest’s canopy, and in the comfort and safety of whatever provides a living body’s own protection; that shelter decides whether one is living in comfort vs. struggling for survival.
For us humans, our cleanliness, diet, & a general peace of mind are essential to liberty; along with sustaining life in a healthy manner.
Not to mention, the prevention of disease from furthering societal burdens. In today’s global cultures & socio-economic caste systems, one’s ranking is more often than not determined by whether one is able to provide for their own needs, or at least have them met. Along with this trend, comes a surge of confusion based upon idealogical differences from one human to the next.
These “differences” are a seemingly illusionary concept, as most of us were once told “all are created equal”, why is it that from the past to the present, the idea that those with shelter are better or above those without? To schedule a fellow being breathing the same air as the next mammal (sheltered or without) to be excommunicated into a class of “undesirables”, is by far one of the most heinous acts of segregation in human history. Yes, of course.
The average man or woman who typically lives indoors may find quite a bit of vulnerability inside shelter’s absence; however, throughout history we see that lifestyles of nomadism have evolved into what we today know as “cultural diversity’
For about the last few thousand years, or so these nomads have shaped our cultures, economies, even influenced the way that we look by simply picking up their burdens and joys together, carrying them & their family elsewhere in search of fresh starts and new opportunities. Creating a new sense of what it meant to have a home, and of course in the meantime, reproducing. This way of life exudes freedom in ways that makes those enveloped into todays societal norms shake and shudder; in fear of homelessness in just about every aspect, & perhaps fear of something far worse — becoming homeless themselves.
The fact is, that it is NOT that house-lessness or being without permanent, taxed/regulated shelter thats the problem. The problem is the mindless social/cultural engineering + re-appropriation that has led people to fear living nomadically, and even frowning upon those that do.
Going forward, there must be a way to evolve the belief that there is only one way for a life to be lived; in that, the pain of our history’s past prejudices can remind us how to consider all, in fairness.
Despite this idea, in contrast to empathy of any kind, governments + local authorities “work together” to push these people, (who were unwillingly born into a society with systemic disease ridden flaws they wanted no part in), out of their sight, in search of utopia. Today, in many countries those without permanent shelter are commonly mislabeled with psychiatric disorders as a blanket over people’s blatant misunderstandings of what its truly like to have to live in a place where people like you are not allowed.
If shelter were a tree, would you be under it?
Ask yourself this question:
If your only shelter were a tree & nothing else, would you find yourself under it?
More than likely the answer would be yes, unless of course you were able to transcend “the rules” and build and better shelter.
This being said; unless one is prepared to offer a direct solution to what their idea of “homelessness” is, besides complete eradication, or forcing them into submissive subservience of the system. (I.e. offer housing, funding a low cost non-for-profit housing building) they aught not complain off another’s choice in lifestyle.
The truth is, if 500 or more million people & their families were to quit their jobs & begin living nomadically the economy, as we know it, would collapse.
Those raking in billions of dollars in quarterly revenue oil commodities would cease to do so; and this is the lone reason that in today’s society the sheltered ones that have all they need, and sometimes much, much more, oppress those that have very little, if anything at all. In fear of losing everything they hoard what they have, even take it with them to the grave. Scarcity hastens greed, while sharing and not taking more than needed promotes abundance.
Perhaps if those with more than they can imagine what to do with, gave it away to someone with nothing more than the ability to put it to good use, our divisions may no longer be seen as separation.
Rather, two distinctly different perspectives able to form a compromise to work hand in hand. Oppressors and oppressed. Able to say all is well with either a sheltered or unsheltered lifestyle, regardless of differences. This evolutionary standpoint could be purposed to draw humans closer to a clearer disillusioned mindset and further from their myopic disenchantment; which has taken the reigns of an everyday life into a cloud of racial and social prejudice.
Therein lies my hope for the future; as the last seven years I have traveled the country of America primarily on foot with a dog that weighed more than I.
Seeking shelter, facing the reality that my survival being dependent on my environment, was contingent upon my own resourcefulness to seek out shelter, or to accept the random acts of kindness in which it was offered. Now that my dog and I presently live under a roof, (for which I am thankful for an eternity’s worth of life times), I sleep with my head on a pillow, & get out of bed each morning to have my feet touch a floor, I have been allowed (partial) space in my mind to briefly formulate what shelter means to me.
ETHEL ROSENBERG: SHE COULD NOT SAVE HERSELF & NEITHER COULD ANYONE ELSE
by Jonah Raskin
“We do not want to die… We desire someday to be restored to society, where we can contribute our energies toward building a world where we shall have peace, bread and roses.”
— Ethel Rosenberg in first petition for executive clemency
A Communist & A Jew
Ethel Rosenberg was a complex American. She was the mother of two boys, the wife of a man who spied for the Soviet Union, and a resolute Communist in a nation resolutely anti-communist. “We are the victims of the grossest type of political frame-up ever known in American history,” she wrote. She added, “We ask the people of America to come to our aid.” You can’t get more communist than that in the aftermath of the Popular Front and the era of Earl Browder who said, “Communism is the Americanism of the twentieth-century.”
Ethel was also Jewish, and a daughter. and a sister who died in the electric chair at Sing Sing Correctional Facility on June 19, 1953 when she was 35-years-old. Nearly three-years earlier she was arrested and incarcerated at the Women’s House of Detention in Manhattan. After her conviction for conspiracy to commit espionage she was locked up at Sing Sing and assigned the number 110510.
Anne Sebba explores the life and times of Ethel Rosenberg in a new biography with the subtitle “An American Tragedy” (St. Martin’s Press) in which she seems to buy into some Cold War thinking when she writes about the “free world,” and when she adopts a liberal perspective and argues that for “one brief moment in time, hysteria overtook common sense.”
Excuse me, but the hysteria lasted decades. The execution of the Rosenbergs was a landmark in the anti-Communist crusade, but the crusade went on all through the 1950s and for most of the 1960s.
I read the biography closely and carefully. I wanted to like it. I found it compelling in places, and a real tear-jerker, and at the same time infuriating and greatly disappointing. Sebba did a ton of research. It’s useful to know that Ethel worked for Carl Marzini, that she apparently signed a Communist Party petition for Peter Cacchinone, a New York City councilman, and that Julius sold copies of *The Daily Worker*. Sebba’s book is thoroughly footnoted, with a comprehensive bibliography and a useful index.
Her opening salvo is powerful: “Julius and Ethel Rosenberg remain the onlyAmericans ever put to death in peacetime for conspiracy to commit espionage, the only two American civilians executed for espionage-related crimes committed during the Cold War — and Ethel is the only woman killed for a crime other than murder.”
In her Introduction, Sebba wonders about “the extent” of Ethel’s “complicity” with her husband’s spying. She never provides a satisfactory account of Ethel's involvement or lack of same with Julius’ activities on behalf of the Russians, which she describes “as a tale of betrayal” of his own country.
From what I know of Julius and the case against him and his wife, I don’t think he consciously thought of himself as a man who betrayed the U.S. He might well have thought he was aiding and abetting the cause of world peace. It’s also worth mentioning that he wasn’t a spy for financial gain. and that the Russians already had an A-Bomb by the time the Rosnbergs were arrested.
The early chapters, in which Sebba aims to psychoanalyze Ethel and depict her relationships with her family members, feel weak and amateurish, though she references Ethel’s time in psychotherapy. I have tracked and traced the families of origin of Jack London, Allen Ginsberg and Abbie Hoffman in the three biographies I have written about them and know the perils of the territory.
Memories of the 1950s
I suppose my disappointment with Sebba’s book was to be expected. I have known about Ethel and Julius Rosenberg for all of my adult life. I have a memory from when I was about ten, in 1952, when my father and I, and one of his friends, Merle Miller got out of a car my dad was driving. Miller whispered to my father, “I’d like to get some money to the Rosenbergs.” My dad said, “Sure. I can do that.” My dad was a CP member from about 1938 to 1948, then a “fellow traveler” all through the 1950s and again openly radical in the 1960s.
I learned lessons early on about secrets and secrecy, about where and when to talk and about paranoia and conspiracy. In college, I met Helen Sobel, whose husband, Morton, had been found guilty as a spy and sentenced to a long prison term. Helen gave me a transcript of the Rosenberg trial which I used to write a paper for a history class about the couple and their battles in and out of the courtroom. I also read their correspondence which was published in 1953 under the title *Death House Letters of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg*.
I was eleven when they were executed. I told myself that if they were sent to the electric chair, my own parents, who were Jewish and Communists and pro-Soviet, could also be executed. The execution had a similar impact on many of my contemporaries who were also the sons and daughters of Jews and Communists and pro-Soviet when it seemed like it was a crime to be Jewish and a Communist and pro-Soviet.
Reporter and syndicated columnist Inez Robb (1901-1979) made that point in The Minneapolis Star on March 12, 1951. Robb wrote, “There are 50,000 ‘Ethel Rosenbergs’ on the subway any workday morning.”
Why the Rosenbergs?
Ethel and Julius were the usual suspects who had to be rounded up and imprisoned to save face. The Russians dropped their A-Bomb in 1949 the same year China went Communist. The Korean War began in 1950. Alger Hiss went to jail for perjury. Also, Senator McCarthy claimed that the U.S Government had been infiltrated by Communists (not an entire falsehood), and J. Edgar Hoover warned the nation about the tens of thousands of Americans who were CP members. The Red Scare went viral.
Ethel and Julius became the all-too human faces of the CP. Unlike Alger Hiss, they weren’t upper-class intellectuals and they weren’t spies with foreign sounding names like Klaus Fuchs, the German-born British physicist. They were middle class and white (they employed a Black woman named Evelyn Cox who worked in their New York apartment). The husband was the breadwinner and the wife the stay-at-home mother. New Yorkers and native-born, they were married in a synagogue.
Julius worked for and was fired from the Army Signal Corps. His brother-in-law, David Greenglass, worked as a technician at Los Alamos in New Mexico where, as part of “the Manhattan Project,” the A-Bomb was designed. Communication took place between David and Julius.
Someone had to pay for the whole fiasco (as the Republicans saw it) of the The New Deal and the war against Fascism which led to Yalta and the abdication to Stalin and Stalinists. Ethel and Julius were the fall guys who were turned into martyrs by socialists, communists and famous artists around the world and in the U.S., including Sartre and de Beauvoir, Pablo Picasso and the American novelist Nelson Algren.
Surely enough time has passed so that we, as a nation, can look back, calmly, at a time of intense anti-Semitism and anti-Communism which were used as weapons against Ethel and Julius. That’s my hope.
The incarceration and execution of the Rosenbergs damaged the image of the U.S. in Europe, where it had steadily declined after 1945 when America and Americans were viewed as the great liberators. The execution exasperated the divisions that already existed in the American Jewsh community, helped to launch Roy Cohn’s career and fueled the imagination of writers like Sylvia Plath (The Bell Jar), E. L. Doctorow (The Book of Daniel) and Tony Kushner who chose wisely from the cast of characters and put Ethel Rosenberg and Roy Cohn in *Angels in America. *They provided the sizzle during the trial and they energize his play.
Sebba tries to focus on the life of Ethel Rosenberg, and for some of the time Ethel, along with the other women in her family, are at the center of the story. “This story is, in fact,” the author writes near the end of her biography, “all about women.” Sebba seems to forget that men figure in major roles in the 250-pages that precede that observation.
In fact, it’s impossible to tell Ethel’s story without including the narratives about her husband, Julius, her brother, David Greenglass, a rat, her two sons, Michael and Robert, and the men who were responsible for sending her to the electric chair.
They include the presiding Judge Irving Kaufman, prosecuting attorneys Irving Saypol and Roy Cohn, who apparently said of Ethel, “She’s worse than Julius… She engineered this whole thing.” Also, President Eisenhower who declined to grant clemency and spare the lives of the Rosenbergs.
Given the all-male, testosterone-infused cast that prosecuted and persecuted Ethel it’s not surprising that Sebba goes after patriarchy and misogyny. The author also describes the post-World War II era as “a time when women were subjugated to a life of domesticity.” To a certain extent that was true. Women who had worked during the war, left their jobs, married soldiers returning home, gave birth to children, nurtured them and raised them. But that wasn’t the only story.
The Resilience of the Reds
My own mother, who belonged to the Communist Party, made art, raised three sons, looked after her husband, kept house, cooked, created a cooperative nursery, and was active in the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) advocating for birth control. Mildred Raskin, who belonged to the same generation as Ethel, wasn’t alone.
Like Ethel, all American women were not subjugated to a life of domesticity. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, there were outstanding women artists, writers and political activists, who strayed beyond the home, such as Helen Frankenthaler, Katherine Anne Porter, Rosa Parks — an NAACP member who attended CP meetings — and even Robin Morgan who became a leading feminist in the Sixties, and who was a child actor on TV in the late 1940s and early 1950s on the show *Mama* starring Peggy Wood.
McCarthyism and “Nixonism” — as reporter, editor and the founder of the National Guardian, James Aronson astutely called it — took a toll on creative people (as well as on union organizers, teachers and free thinkers). Resilience was also a big part of the story of the Old Left and the writers of the Thirties who sometimes found themselves adrift in the 1940s and 1950s.
Sebba doesn’t give *resilience *nearly enough credit. She didn’t have to look far to find it. Ethel Rosenberg was as resilient as any other woman in that era, and perhaps way more so. She didn’t want to die, but she couldn’t save herself from death, and neither could Roy Cohn, who built his career on her body, nor her husband, her brother, her mother, her sister-in-law or her sons who were too young to save anyone except themselves.
Sebba wants her cake and to eat it, too. She downplays Ethel’s politics “her radicalism”and at times even tries to erase it. “By 1950,” she writes, “Communism was merely one aspect of Ethel’s ambiguous, many-sided life and it was not her principal focus.” At the same time, Sebba allows Communism to creep into her book through the back door. She offers a quotation from Miriam Moskowitz, an imprisoned friend and comrade of Ethel’s and the author of *Phantom Spies*, who said that Ethel “followed the [Communist] Party line,” and that she was “doctrinaire.”
One might also say that Ethel embraced a *weltanschauung* that was informed by the working class movements that called for “bread and roses,” by New York secular Judaism and the American brand of communism which became a kind of religion for her. Like a good communist, she noted that “theory without practice can be a pretty empty, meaningless gesture,” and, like the reddest of the reds she wrote to Julius on May 5, 1951 about a “little ditty” which she titled “Who’s afraid of the Big Electric Chair/They can shove it up their ‘spine’ for all I care.” She had the presence of mind to rhyme chair with care.
Sebba offers a quotation from Ethel who wrote, “we must not use prayer to an Omnipotent Being as a pretext for evading our responsibility to our fellow human beings in the daily struggle for the establishment of social justice. Jew and Gentile, black and white all must stand together in their might to win the right!”
You can’t get more party line than the phrases “daily struggle,” “Jew and gentile, black and white… stand together to win the right.” Sebba doesn’t see the vast nexus of politics behind that statement. She writes, “These words provide little guidance about her true belief.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
Sebba also tries to rob Ethel of her Judaism. “Jewishness had no influence on her behavior” when she was at Sing Sing, she writes. But Sebba goes on to say that she attended religious services when she was behind bars and that she wanted her sons to remember the Ten Commandments which Moses supposedly brought down from Mt. Sinai.
A Love Story
One can’t help but feel that Ethel Rosenberg proved to be too big and complex a person for Sebba to grapple with and comprehend. A dozen pages or so from the end of her book she asks, “Who exactly was Ethel Rosenberg?” That’s the kind of question an author asks at the start of a biography, not at the end.
Sebba also says, at the very end of the book, that it’s about “betrayal,” and that “Only Ethel betrayed no one, thus sealing her fate.” Excuse me, but I think that one can’t separate her story from Julius’ story and that theirs is a love story. The picture on the back cover that shows Ethel and Julius kissing and with his handcuffs visible, tells that romantic tale. So do their passionate love letters from the Death House.
Nice try Sebba. Better luck next time and try to refrain from using unnecessary adjectives, as when you write that Ethel wore a “hideous” hat. Sometimes a hat is just a hat.
Sebba might think she has filed a brief on behalf of Ethel. She does call her a "profoundly moral woman," but she doesn't sufficiently identify the sources of her morality. Time and time again she emphasizes Ethel's "ambiguity," which seems to undermine whatever claims she makes for Ethel's ethics. The Rosenberg trial serves as a gestalt that reveals the soul and the soullessness of the U.S. in the middle of the twentieth-century.
Ethel and Julius join Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzietti, two Italian immigrants and anarchists, who also died in the electric chair. The four of them live eternally in the pantheon of legendary American scapegoats who were killed to satisfy a kind of blood lust that left an indelible stain on the conscience of the country.
(Jonah Raskin is the author of For The Hell of It: The Life and Times of Abbie Hoffman and American Scream: Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ and the Making of the Beat Generation.)