Warming | 6 New Cases | Yorkville BBQ | Redwood Drive | Drivers Needed | Help Wanted | Finite Resource | Drought Chat | Palace Intrigue | Urban Canine | Budget Notes | Bolinas Closed | PV Bust | Hanover Arrest | Cows Ruled | Streetscape Update | JDSF Logging | AR Hole | Not Guilty | Dino Juice | Why Expand | Yesterday's Catch | Green Rush | Dotted Note | Greedy Weeders | Obedience School | HOV Scofflaws | Christo Fencers | Town Hall | Gunslinger | Listening Session | Bezos Reentry | Non Profiteers | Ice Shelf | People's Party | Brahms Lullaby | County Operation | Big Wave | Valiant Woman | Liza/Bozo | Presidential Email
DRIER AND WARMER weather conditions are generally expected today. Another front will slowly move toward the coast tonight, bringing beneficial rain to Del Norte and northern Humbodlt Counties on Sunday. High pressure will begin to rebuild early next week for the return of northerly winds and dry weather. Significant warming and triple heat is expected for the interior valleys mid to late next week. (NWS)
6 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.
BBQ SATURDAY 6/12 AT THE YORKVILLE MARKET
I can't believe Saturday is almost here again - time is certainly racing by this year!
We will be grilling ginger chicken this Saturday, served with a Filigreen Farm Greens salad, rice and flatbread. There will also be a veggie option of grilled Paneer with roasted veggies, also served with rice and flatbread. The price will be $15 per plate.
In our Deli Case, Chef B has whipped up some stuffed portobello's, and he is also starting a batch of ginger sauerkraut that should be ready in about a week. So many exciting new and delicious options right here in downtown Yorkville!
Thanks for all of your continued support, it has really meant so much in these changing and challenging times.
Lisa Walsh, Yorkville Market, 894-9456, <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The Anderson Valley Senior Center is currently without a bus driver and they desperately need volunteer drivers!
Note: this is not an Anderson Valley Village project, we are just helping to get the word out for our partners at the AV Senior Center.
Biggest Need: Are you available to drive local seniors to their medical appointments? Reimbursement for gas is available to volunteer drivers.
The AV Village has volunteer drivers for our members but many of the seniors that frequent the Senior Center are not currently members...
Are you available Tuesday and/or Thursday to help deliver meals to the house-bound seniors?
If you are interested please contact:
Renee Lee, Executive Director, Anderson Valley Senior Center, 707.895.3609, email@example.com
BOONT BERRY NEEDS A POT WALLOPER
PHILIP MURPHY: “When the squabbling over Eel River/Potter Valley and Lake Mendocino water is discussed I get a chuckle out of how often it is that there is no mention of the fact that the watershed and reservoir where almost all of that water comes from is in Lake County, who only gets some property tax revenue from PG&E’s infrastructure at Lake Pillsbury and the homeowners there — Lake County gets nothing for the water itself, not even a “Thank you!” To make matters worse Lake County doesn’t own Clear Lake, as through an unusually convoluted and shady series of mistakes/sellouts/chicanery those water rights went to Yolo County.
The same thing goes with Indian Valley reservoir, which is entirely in Lake County but was built by the Yolo Flood & Water Conservation District (translation: irrigation water district) and of course Lake County gets nothing from them except a small amount of property tax revenue. I don’t think any county in California gets so thoroughly screwed on water rights as Lake County does, as it has two middle-sized reservoirs and one giant one but doesn’t own any of that water which mostly goes to out-of-county users.
So when I hear that lawns are dying in Santa Rosa or vineyard owners are worried about not getting their share of irrigation water in Hopland, I’m not sure whether to laugh or scream. As far as I’m concerned the primary problem here is a pervasive lack of responsible water use by all users downstream and the magical thinking that never seems to acknowledge that this resource is FINITE and likely to become scarcer in the foreseeable future. Instead we keep hearing about the need for endless “growth,” another thing nobody wants to admit has finite limits based on nature’s ability to support it.
PS: been enjoying the Major’s reporting on the subject-keep up the good work!
by Mark Scaramella
Supervisor Glenn McGourty opened Thursday’s first meeting of the Mendocino County Drought Task Force with this bleak assessment: “There’s a stark possibility that water throughout Mendocino County and Fort Bragg can actually cease to exist here in a few months.”
You’d think that kind of forecast would set off some alarms. But no, as expected, the virtual confab showed no sense of urgency; a pall of complacency hovered over the rest of the meeting like a damp dishrag. The participating bureaucrats chatted cheerfully about the lack of water, but no reductions were ordered, no metering proposed, no projects mentioned.
A professional looking young man named Joe [first names were used a lot] from the Resource Conservation District summed up the purpose of the meeting (paraphrasing): We are asking for ideas. We have a list of 30 projects ranging in cost from $10k to $7 mil. There are 300 projects in the county that need to be identified. [How would he know that if they are not identified?] We are gathering information of what our needs are. We have to find out what’s out there. We expect grant funds. People have to get their projects on our list. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and give us the status and timeline and cost estimate. etc. We will maintain the list to put dollars on ground when it’s available.
McGourty then made this startling observation: “We have to start thinking about storage.”
“Start thinking”? They haven’t even started yet?
McGourty then said that Mendo had “a great body of people with great knowledge.” But somehow that great body hadn’t started thinking about storage yet.
Elizabeth Salome of the Russian River Flood Control District (which she said wholesales Mendo’s portion of Lake Mendocino to farmers and municipal retailers in the Ukiah Valley) said the Eel River Diversion to Potter Valley and Lake Mendocino — already at just a trickle — is about to be cut off, but nobody knows exactly when.
Most of the meeting was various Mendo water bureaucrats introducing their great bodies and offering information about their particular area of the County or expertise. Our impression from the roundup was that most rural areas are suffering shortages with Round Valley, Redwood Valley, Potter Valley, and the Town of Mendocino in the worst shape. Willits, Ukiah, Laytonville, Fort Bragg, Elk, Point Arena and Gualala were said to be not as bad. although Fort Bragg has ordered 10% cutbacks so far.
A woman named Christina of the Mendocino Town Comminity Services District which somehow oversees 420 independent wells said they were already at their maximum Stage 4 restriction level. Individuals and businesses are already trucking water into the town and she hoped that they might get some water from Fort Bragg later in the year. Apparently some commercial operations on the South Coast are so short that they’re taking their laundry to Fort Bragg.
Supervisor McGourty was particularly worried about the impact of the water shortage on tourism than he was on Coast residents saying that the Coastal tourism industry has been hard hit by covid and now here comes the drought. And — gasp! — the County might take a hit on its bed tax!
NEW POTENTIAL BUYER EMERGES FOR UKIAH’S PALACE HOTEL, receiver reports
Mark Adams describes woman as ‘credible and sophisticated’
by Justine Frederiksen
For decades, one of the most frustrating questions about downtown Ukiah has been the future of the Palace Hotel: Could the “majestic old lady” ever again host a viable business, or should the crumbling building just be demolished? And while there is still no satisfying answer to the mystery of the Palace, the man tasked with moving things forward said this week there could be some change in the works.
In his latest report filed with Mendocino County Superior Court Wednesday, receiver Mark Adams writes that there has been renewed interest in the property and “a new potential buyer has emerged in recent weeks.”
Adams does not identify the buyer in the report filed June 9, and admits that while he has “not yet talked to her directly, she appears to be credible and sophisticated enough to take on this assignment. I am going to explore with her a receiver’s sale of the property, which likely will have a long contingency-laden escrow period (probably of six months or longer) so she can investigate the historic tax credit and other major components of a development deal. While there is always a danger of a false alarm, as has happened previously, I do perceive that real estate development is being revived in California post-pandemic, and so I recommend the court permit me to explore this further. I will also talk to Todd Schapmire, my broker on this property, about re-listing the property to explore other options.”
When asked directly for the name of the potential buyer and whether she is a local resident, Adams said he did not have her name yet and did not know where she resides, but could share that information after speaking with her.
Although most of his work as receiver has been completed, Adams said he “hates leaving a job half done and so offered to stay on to attempt to complete a sale to this new buyer so they can rehab the Palace. I don’t know if I’ll ever get paid for that work, but out of respect for the Ukiah community I’m willing to stay on.” He said a hearing scheduled June 11 will determine next steps for him and the Palace.
As for what has happened since the newest owners took over in January 2019, Adams said, “It is now 2 1/2 years later and, as you can see by just looking at the building, literally nothing has happened since then. What makes it more challenging is that the city (of Ukiah) has spent millions (of mostly grant funds) on improving State Street, and still the Palace Hotel sits as a sulking blight on the downtown.”
Adams was appointed to take control of the building by the Mendocino County Superior Court in 2016 after the city declared it a public nuisance due to public health and safety code violations. In the summer of 2018, the building was put on the market through W Real Estate, then sold at auction that December.
Since no one stepped forward with just shy of a million dollars to buy the building at the foreclosure sale, it became the property of Total Lender Solutions of San Diego. The previous owner had been Eladia Laines, who bought the building at a tax sale in 1990 with several other investors for $115,000. The building has remained vacant since that sale.
When asked about the Palace Hotel by members of the Ukiah Planning Commission earlier this year, Community Development Director Craig Schlatter reported in late April that it is now “privately owned by Twin Investments, and because of that, the city has limited control over what happens at that property. Some of the major safety concerns, such as the asbestos and the fire sprinklers that needed to be installed, these issues were addressed several years ago.”
Schlatter added that, “a few potential buyers have expressed interest in the property over the last couple of years, and in each case staff has attempted to connect the potential buyers with the property owner, but nothing has come of those conversations.” However, as part of the downtown Streetscape Project, Schlatter said, “(crews) are putting in new water and sewer infrastructure, and the hope is that these and other Streetscape improvements will help spur further action and interest in the property.”
Twin Investments LLC lists an address of 494 Kennwood Drive in Ukiah, and Jitu Ishwar as its agent.
Deputy City Manager Shannon Riley said Wednesday that Twin Investments has “been the owner since January 2019, though we understand there are still multiple liens on the property. The property is still under the receivership as well, which will require any sale or major work to be approved by the courts. We’re disappointed that no progress has been made since that transaction, and continue to be engaged with the receiver. In the meantime, we have received numerous inquiries from developers regarding the building, even during the pandemic, and we help them to the best of our ability with information and refer them to the owner’s agent.”
When asked if the Streetscape Project had indeed sparked more interest in the property, Schapmire said, “I think if anything has spurred new interest, it’s the fact that the county recently bought a hotel for $10 million,” referring to the sale of the former Best Western property on South Orchard Avenue last year for $10.6 million, a purchase funded largely by $9.6 million from Project Homekey, a state grant program intended to help California cities house the homeless by refurbishing hotels.
And what is happening with the former Post Office?
When asked about another beloved old building sitting empty in downtown Ukiah, the former Post Office on North Oak Street, Riley said it is “also privately owned under an LLC called Tatum and Ashe. Over the last several years, the building has gone on the market a couple of times. When that happened, there have been inquiries that we forwarded to the agent. However, each time, the building was taken off the market before anything could come to fruition. The building has been appropriately secured and maintained, so in that case, the city has no real control over a privately-owned building.”
(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)
COUNTY BUDGET NOTES
COUNTY BUDGET HEARINGS for next fiscal year (July 2021-June 2022) concluded last Wednesday with the usual vague approval of “the recommended action as amended by today’s discussion.” Which means CEO Carmel Angelo and her Budget Team will fill in the many budgetary blanks and return for final Board approval on June 22. Following the practice of recent years, in place of a draft budget, the Supervisors are entertained with a carefully orchestrated presentation of selected highlights from selected departments. Tuesday was strictly from the perspective of the Executive Office. Wednesday featured presentations from the District Attorney, Planning and Building Services, the Sheriff’s Office, the Cannabis Program and the Department of Transportation.
WEDNESDAY SAW A RENEWAL of the tough talk from Supervisor Williams about holding Department Heads personally liable for not staying within their assigned budget. Undersheriff Darren Brewster was standing in for Sheriff Kenall who was in Sacramento attending a State Sheriff’s meeting and speaking to the new Attorney General. The Sheriff’s presentation was preceded by newly anointed Assistant CEO Darcie Antle emphasizing that the County continues to invest in Public Safety. Antle claimed the Sheriff got “most” of what he wanted. What he didn’t get, per the CEO’s recommendation, was funding to replace high-mileage patrol vehicles that were timing out.
UNDERSHERIFF BREWSTER detailed crime stats, noting that through an 11 month period the Sheriff’s Office had logged over 61,000 calls for service, over 800 of which involved violent crimes, including homicide, sexual assault, child abuse, domestic violence and assault. The Sheriff’s Office budget specialist detailed the differences between the Sheriff’s Office proposed budget and the CEO recommended budget, noting that there was a gap of over $1.5 million, primarily in vehicle replacement. The Sheriff’s Office proposed budget included $1,278,500 for vehicle replacement, noting that 17 patrol vehicles have over 100,000 miles. In contrast, the CEO recommended nothing for vehicle replacement. No explanation was offered for this omission. The Sheriff and CEO both included $1,161,185 for overtime. The Sheriff’s Office budget specialist noted that over the last five years overtime never went below $1.4 million. She also noted that overtime was sure to go up based on salary increases approved by the Supes.
SUPERVISOR WILLIAMS, having just heard a detailed description of the structural deficit built into the CEO recommendations, opened the questioning by asking Undersheriff Brewster “Can we get a handshake that the Sheriff’s Office will stay within budget?” Brewster replied that he would love to but it was difficult to do so knowing a structural deficit was built into the budget from day one. Williams persisted, citing his usual platitudes about spending the public’s money before insisting the law required that departments stay within budget.
WILLIAMS TURNED TO County Counsel Curtis for confirmation. Curtis hemmed and hawed in his usual manner, citing “a few nuances,” but concluded generally, yes, departments must stay within budget. Curtis never mentioned the point brought up by former Supervisor McCowen in a recent online comment that the State Constitution gives the Sheriff authority to incur necessary expenses which the County must then fund.
WILLIAMS NEXT ZEROED in on IT (info technology), expressing the hope that the Sheriff’s Office IT operations would be coordinated with the County, decrying the perceived duplication. Supervisor Gjerde, ever alert to stake his claim as a fiscal conservative, said it didn’t make sense to have two IT departments. Undersheriff Brewster pushed back, stating the Sheriff’s IT system was separate due to the need to maintain confidentiality, but was not duplicative. Williams returned to his principle theme of holding departments accountable to stay within budget. County Counsel launched into an extended and repetitive riff on the topic, noting the issue of holding department heads accountable had been referred to the General Government committee the day before.
SUPERVISOR MULHEREN advocated that overtime and vehicle replacement ought to be included in the budget. Supervisor Haschak brought up Covelo and the need for more deputies and increased support for the Sheriff’s office. Haschak wondered if there was anything in the budget for that. His question went unanswered.
WILLIAMS NEXT QUESTIONED the appropriateness of 100,000 miles being the trigger for patrol vehicle replacement. Brewster, who has had his share of high speed felony chases, had already made the point that the last thing you want a Deputy thinking about in the midst of a felony pursuit is vehicle malfunction. Williams wondered if the patrol cars couldn’t just be maintained or independently certified. Brewster patiently explained the patrol cars are maintained by the County vehicle department but the nature of many rural roads in Mendocino County and constant operation over long distances at high speeds takes its toll. Brewster didn’t want to be responsible for injury to a Deputy resulting from vehicle failure knowing the vehicle should have been replaced.
THE UNFOCUSED DISCUSSION meandered on with the CEO asserting that the County had a vehicle replacement policy and they need to follow it. Assistant CEO Antle pointed out the policy had been adopted in 2007. Deputy CEO Janelle Rau offered to review the fleet policy with the Sheriff’s Office, implying that the lack of funding in the CEO Recommended Budget was somehow the fault of the Sheriff’s Office. Williams lamented that the Supes give direction, they pass a budget then it gets ignored. Is the budget just advisory or is there an expectation that departments stay within budget, Williams wanted to know. More circular bafflegab from County Counsel.
AT SOME POINT Assistant CEO Antle said the gap between the Sheriff and the CEO was not $1.5 million but was only $500,000. Except the one page summary posted with the agenda showed a gap of over $2.2 million, including over $600,000 in additional revenue that the CEO was projecting for the Sheriff’s Office. Antle never explained why the $1.5 million (or $2.2 million) gap was really only $500,000. CEO Angelo pointedly said that she had only one department that she wasn’t in agreement with — the Sheriff. Angelo neglected to mention that with few exceptions, the Sheriff being one, she can fire any department head who disagrees with her.
WILLIAMS SAID HE READ IN THE NEWSPAPER that the Sheriff and CEO are not meeting weekly. He said the CEO needs to be responsible for the whole County while the Sheriff has a much narrower focus which leads to tension. He said the way to alleviate that tension is to have weekly meetings. He would like to see the CEO and Sheriff meet and agree on a plan for IT. Mulheren earlier said she wanted to see the CEO and Sheriff meet and come up with a plan for vehicle replacement. Brewster was all in favor of meetings but made vague references to things being pushed off or not completed. He said he couldn’t speak for the Sheriff but he knew Matt Kendall was for the people and did not want to argue and fight.
SHERIFF KENDALL also doesn’t like being lied to. Especially by the CEO. Angelo lied to Kendall about the Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Or at least told him one thing and then decided another without bothering to tell him. Kendall found out the hard way, in a public meeting where the CEO pulled the rug out from under him. As a result, Kendall published a letter about two months ago saying he would no longer meet with the CEO because of a lack of trust. Kendall seems to have concluded, if that’s what he gets out of weekly meetings with the CEO, then he’s better off not meeting with her. Kendall strikes us as an old fashioned lawman in the best sense of the word. Plainspoken, earnest and straightforward, Kendall values honesty and personal integrity. He also defends his department and its financing needs.
THE EOC has traditionally been set up in the Sheriff’s Office training room. Which means each time there’s an emergency it has to be recreated and numerous contacts with sister agencies and departments remade. When Covid began, Angelo pitched to Kendall that he could move the EOC into a building at the County Administration Center. Before agreeing to make the move Kendall sought and received assurances from the CEO that it would be permanent. Over a year later, Kendall was in front of the Board of Supervisors requesting $600,000 for the complete buildout of the EOC, including his plan to then convert the training room to a courtroom, thereby saving $500,000 annually in prisoner transportation costs and increasing safety during transport.
ANGELO INTERRUPTED the Sheriff to say the building currently housing the EOC was not available, that it was being turned over to the Cannabis Program. Kendall, in contrast to former Sheriff Tom Allman who was famous for blowing his top when crossed, took the news without making a scene. Angelo next ordered the EOC packed up and delivered to the Sheriff’s Office training room. This unilateral move by Angelo has resulted in short circuiting the establishment of a permanent EOC and denied the Sheriff’s Office $500,000 annually in cost savings by precluding conversion of the training room to a courtroom. Is this what the Executive Office means when they say they are investing in Public Safety? Do the Supes think their frequent, if empty, calls for efficiency are being heeded?
CONFIDENTIALITY is a plausible explanation for the Sheriff’s Office maintaining a separate IT system but it likely goes beyond maintaining confidentiality of criminal investigations and personnel records. Former Assistant CEO Kyle Knopp was known to have access to the entire County email system. With IT professionals in place, there is no reason for Executive Office staff to personally access employee email. CEO Angelo professed shock at the news at that time but does anyone think her Assistant CEO would take this step on his own initiative? Fast forward to the present and who is directly in charge of IT? CEO Angelo’s trusted right hand, Deputy CEO Janelle Rau. There may be technical and legal reasons for the Sheriff’s Office to have a separate email system. But going back to lack of trust, you can bet the Sheriff does not want Carmel Angelo and her minions reading his or his department’s mail.
SUPERVISOR WILLIAMS surely knows the history of mistrust between the CEO and Sheriff. Williams professes to be the peacemaker by calling for the CEO and Sheriff to resume weekly meetings. But he seems intent on setting the County up for a collision course with the Sheriff. During three years of Budget hearings Williams has scarcely had a question for any other department head, never questioning vehicle requests or other expenditures. By his own admission he has “capitulated” in his request for Mental Health performance data. But he zeroes in on the Sheriff and threatens to hold him personally liable to an unrealistic budget. The CEO, who is supposed to work on behalf of the County as a whole, is content to watch this trainwreck unfold. Or even encourage it. And County Counsel Curtis, whose job is to protect the County from liability, seems eager to cross swords with the Sheriff. Meanwhile, the rest of the Board drifts along, with no one questioning the wisdom of picking a very expensive and public fight with the Sheriff.
WILLIAMS WANTS to micro manage the Sheriff’s Office budget but didn’t bat an eye at recreating the Water Agency at a cost of $700,000. The County has no water to manage so what will the water agency do? Um, well, there’s a drought. And a drought task force. Maybe the Water Agency will develop new sources of water? Supervisor McGourty mentioned constructing pipelines. From Ukiah (which has plenty of well water for the time being) to Redwood Valley. Or from Fort Bragg to Mendocino. Forget the cost and complexity of constructing pipelines. Or that it would come too late for this drought cycle. There is still no water to put in the pipeline.
THE SUPERVISORS GENERALLY seem happy to go along and get along with few questions. No one asked why the Supes were not given the proposed budget details although it came out in discussion of the Sheriff’s Office budget that the CEO and the departments have detailed line item budget information. Information that is very selectively shared with the Supes. Too much info might lead to more pesky questions.
On Wednesday, June 2, 2021, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Marijuana Enforcement Team began conducting an investigation into an unlawful marijuana/cannabis cultivation operation in the 9000 block of West Side Road in Potter Valley.
It should be noted, this was the same location where the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office served a search warrant in August 2020, for an unlawful marijuana/cannabis operation where several thousand marijuana/cannabis plants were illegally cultivated and ultimately eradicated.
During the course of the most recent investigation, law enforcement officials observed several plastic style hoop houses on the property that contained growing marijuana/cannabis.
The investigation revealed this property was not legally licensed/permitted to cultivate marijuana/cannabis to this scale.
Based on the aforementioned information, an affidavit in support of a search warrant was authored for the property. The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Marijuana Enforcement Team with the assistance of the Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force served the search warrant on the property on June 2, 2021.
Upon service of the search warrant, four Hispanic males fled the property on foot and were not captured.
Three Hispanic females were located within a marijuana/cannabis “trimming room.” One of the females was later determined to be a sixteen year-old minor who was later released to Child Protective Services.
A total of 3,741 marijuana/cannabis plants were eradicated and destroyed. In addition to the marijuana/cannabis plants, a total of 115 pounds of hanging bud marijuana/cannabis was also located and destroyed.
A criminal investigative report was forwarded to the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office for review of criminal charging and potential prosecution.
IT'S 3:10AM IN COVELO, AND…
On Friday, June 11, 2021 at about 3:10 AM Mendocino County Deputies conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle in the 77000 block of Crawford Road in Covelo.
Deputies contacted the driver/sole occupant, Kenneth Hanover, 34, of Covelo, and discovered he had two felony arrest warrants for violation of his probation.
Hanover was on formal Mendocino County probation and a search of the vehicle was conducted. Deputies located a illicit methamphetamine drugs and 9mm caliber ammunition in the passenger area of the vehicle.
Hanover is a convicted felon and prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition of any type.
Hanover was arrested for the two felony arrest warrants, possessing ammunition and possession of a controlled substance.
Hanover was booked into the Mendocino County Jail on charges of Felony-Possession of Ammunition by Prohibited Person, Felony Violation of Probation, Misdemeanor Possession of a Controlled Substance where he was to be held in lieu of $30,000 bail.
UKIAH STREETSCAPE PROJECT CONSTRUCTION UPDATE - June 11
Myth-busting, Part 6:
The City should have spent this money on the Palace Hotel or the new courthouse.
IMPOSSIBLE. The funds used for the streetscape project are from dedicated funding sources—grants specifically for street projects like these, gas tax funds, Measure Y tax revenue (for the pavement only), utility funds (for the utility replacements only), and other transportation-related funds.
As for the Palace Hotel and the courthouse, the City has very limited influence. The Palace is privately owned, and the City has no mechanism for purchasing and redeveloping it—certainly not with gas tax or Measure Y funds! The courthouse is a State project that the City has no role in. The State has purchased property near the trail depot and started some of the site improvements, but the project has stalled and the State has not yet allocated money for the design or construction of the facility. The City advocates for completion of the project, but that’s about all we can do. (Feel free to send a letter to the State!)
Construction Overview, Week of June 14
Monday, June 14: Standley Street has taken a bit longer than expected. New sidewalks are being poured on the State Street corner of Standley on Friday, June 11th. The rest of the block (to School Street) will be poured on Monday, June 14th.
Tuesday-Thursday: New sidewalks will be poured between Church and the County parking lot next to Ukiah Brewing Company. When it is time to pour those driveways, one will be poured at a time in order to retain access to the parking lot at all times.
Friday: New sidewalks will be poured on the north side of Church Street. The ramps that are currently in place will remain during this work in order to preserve access to businesses and residences.
Monday-Friday: Trees will be planted throughout the project area! Also, new curb ramps are being constructed at the corners of Clay and Oak Streets.
Construction hours: 6am – 6pm – Crews will work extended hours this week to complete construction on the 100 blocks of West Church and West Standley.
Standley Street will be closed to vehicular traffic during construction hours, opened in the evenings.
Big picture update: The end is near! Things are expected to wrap up around the end of July/beginning of August. Concrete work is almost done; paving will occur between the middle and end of July.
Have a great weekend, Everyone!
Shannon Riley, Deputy City Manager, City of Ukiah, w: (707) 467-5793
JACKSON STATE LOGGING
ACTION ALERT: Call For An Immediate Halt To Logging In Occupied JDSF!
From EPIC (Environmental Protection Information Center) in Arcata:
Your Immediate Action Needed Today!
Stop The Logging In Occupied JDSF
Logging commenced yesterday on the highly contested timber harvest plan called Caspar 500 in Jackson State Demonstration Forest (JDSF) where a tree sit in an almost two-hundred-year-old redwood known as the “Mama Tree” has captured the public's attention since April. Trees are being felled despite people being present in the forest in the same location in an effort to protect the trees.
Early yesterday morning, tree sitter Alder reported hearing chainsaws and heavy thuds as big trees were being cut at a “fast and furious” rate in multiple locations. Alder immediately notified Cal Fire State Forests Program Director, Kevin Conway, as well as contractor, Anderson Logging, of people’s presence on the ground in vicinity. Many community members, trail hikers and bikers have flocked to the woods in a last ditch attempt to keep standing the trees they love.
Concerned community members called on Kevin Conway, Cal Fire State Forests Program Director, to immediately halt logging operations while people are in the woods. Previous negotiations for dialogue broke down recently when Cal Fire refused to agree to halt logging while talks were initiated.
While the Mama and Papa trees have focused public attention on JDSF, activists emphasize that they are “not the only trees in the forest” and that it is the entire forest in the context of climate change, cultural and tribal protections and current environmental and economic issues affecting Mendocino County and the world.
The Coalition to Save Jackson State Forest in JDSF is calling for a moratorium on logging until a new Environmental Impact Report for the JDSF Management Plan is completed, stating: “The old report, drafted 2007, is woefully out of date”. Please join us in urging Cal Fire State Forests Program Director, Kevin Conway, to halt logging operations immediately so negotiations can continue and until proper dialogue has been reached.
They started cutting trees in the Caspar 500 today right above the Mama tree area. There will be people out there early tomorrow morning to do their best to keep the trees standing. We need people to come and bear witness and support the people willing to be arrested Go to the Kiosk area first thing in the morning. Come up Fern Creek Rd to Caspar Orchard go up to the Kiosk That area is still open to the public. WE Speak for the Forest
Anna Marie Stenberg
O’DOYLE: NOT GUILTY
A Mendocino County Superior Court jury in Fort Bragg returned from its deliberations Thursday afternoon to announce its verdicts of not guilty in the case of the People of the State of California vs. Erin Charles O’Doyle (age 34, of Point Arena).
O’Doyle had been charged with driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and driving a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol .08 or greater, both counts charged as misdemeanors.
The law enforcement agencies that investigated and/or worked on this case were the California Highway Patrol and the Department of Justice crime laboratory.
The prosecutor who presented the People’s evidence to the jury was Deputy District Attorney Josh Rosenfeld.
Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Clayton Brennan presided over the three-day trial.
QUESTION FOR THE SUPERVISORS
Would you buy a home without having it inspected? No. So why are four of the five Mendocino County Board of Supervisors willing to approve a new cannabis ordinance allowing for the expansion of cannabis onto Agriculture and Rangeland without doing an Environmental Impact Report? Why are they ignoring letters from residents saying they do not want Cannabis grows expanded? Why are they ignoring 3rd district Supervisor Haschack, who represents an area that is majorly impacted and who doesn’t support the new ordinance?
The County has not done a good job with the current ordinance. There are 100s of permittees waiting to have their permits completed but thousands of illegal grows need to be shut down. Meanwhile, more grows are being put in and water trucks are hauling precious water to them. The water board in Covelo has asked the BOS to excuse Round Valley from the proposed expansion as every resident is on a well. Covelo residents are at risk for having their only source of water not only drained but also poisoned from the contaminants used by the illegal grows.
The new ordinance allowing for expansion must not pass until an EIR is completed and enforcement is in place and removing the illegal grows. If the BOS will not listen then citizens must take charge and pass a referendum to put the passage of the new ordinance on a ballot. Frankly, it would be cheaper to do an EIR than a special election.
CATCH OF THE DAY, June 11, 2021
GABRIEL AGUILAR, Ukiah. DUI, battery on peace officer, resisting, probation revocation.
SHANNON ARNOLD, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation. (Frequent Flyer)
DARIN HAMMOND, Domestic battery.
KENNETH HANOVER JR., Covelo. Controlled substance, ammo possession by prohibited person, probation revocation.
ISAAC KUKHAHN, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, failure to appear.
GERARDO SOTO-BARRON, Redwood Valley. DUI.
TIMOTHY ULRICH, Manchester. DUI.
MAX URBINA, San Jose/Ukiah. Pot possession for sale with prior.
SHAWN WOLFE, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
ON LINE NOTES FROM GREEN RUSH
(1) Some things that could easily slow this down. Ban on bulk sales of soil unless you have a certificate of need. Apply and pay 25 bucks to get your bulk if you meet the requirements. Has anyone else noticed the hardware stores are limiting amounts of PVC pipe that you can purchase? Massive rolls of plastic thousands of pots. Those types of things should not be allowed out of the nursery or for sale unless there is a certificate proving need. That huge production yard of Sparetime’s on Highway 101 when you’re going past Willits??? Plastic city. My kids think it is amazing watching the excavator smashing the mountains of used pallets as we drive by. Truly, massive amounts of soil in the yard move in and out damn fast. Extra tax on some of these items? Environmental hazard tax? CRV value on plastic pots? Funding goes to cleanups.
(2) You're right about limiting the pipe, soils, etc. The hardware stores, nurseries are making a killing, lots of cash sales that they probably don’t pay taxes on. And they keep jacking up the prices for us poor ones trying to fix or build on our homes. The city benefits but they cry that they're broke and need more (retirement $$$). Cops crying it’s the cartels but it’s the local cartels that are running the show here. You wouldn’t want the real cartels here! Maybe it’s the Russian, China, Flying Monkey cartels!
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
A lot of us hate the weed culture, even though we are a part of it.
It literally has been the new gold rush, and it has flooded the west coast with many greedy jerks from all over the world.
Pretentious, self-important grow-tards spending thousands on amendments while people work for poverty wages at the counter.
An absolutely false and full of shit “culture”, and a contributor to a host of social problems.
What we need to do, is value what normal people do for a living, and pay them a living wage.
The west coast doesn’t need anymore greedy blood lusting bud miners.
HOV lanes are a great idea. Unfortunately, a significant number of solo drivers use the restricted lanes on a daily basis without any fear of getting caught. It's a difficult citation as the CHP officer has to see the violation, get to the violator in the fast lane and then try to move the violator across three or four lanes of traffic to issue the citation. Then, while he or she is doing that, 10 more violators drive past.
Why not install cameras on the overpasses and pedestrian walkways, issue electronic citations and catch all the violators? Simple, and less dangerous for the CHP. The lanes would be more efficient, and the revenue would more than offset any costs.
I've suggested this to our state Assembly and Senate members to no avail. Maybe the power of the press will be more effective.
Town Hall with Supervisor Williams and Sonoma Supervisor Hopkins June 12
Invitation: June 12 @ 10 am
Town Hall with Supervisor Williams and Sonoma Supervisor Hopkins.
Register and Submit your questions by Friday, June 11.
Click Here To Submit Questions To The Supervisors: https://redwoodcoastdemocrats.us16.list-manage.com/track/click?u=c28895b741eafddd886e10d91&id=30e9847a50&e=13b429da31>
We will send you the Zoom sign-in information on Friday and we hope you will be able to join us.
Our mailing address is:
Redwood Coast Democrats
PO Box 805
Gualala, CA 95445
— Coast Democrats <email@example.com>
CANNABIS PROGRAM LISTENING SESSION
Date: 06/11/2021 12:18 PM
With the changes taking place with the Cannabis Program we are interested in receiving feedback from the public through a “Listening Session” on June 16, 2021 from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. (PST). Items for discussion include:
Overview of what to expect if Phase Three must be implemented through 10A.17 due to referendum.
Continued operations when transitioning from 10A.17 to 22.18.
Tiered implementation of the 10% cultivation cap.
Tiered taxation on cannabis cultivation.
Tax relief when voluntarily reducing canopy size.
If you have feedback or questions on the items listed above, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org to allow us to review the information prior to the Listening Session so we can best address them.
Listening Session Registration Link:
Wow. What a beautiful little blurb, right on, with the type of socialism we have now: “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.”
This should be in the schoolbooks today. Can you imagine that? So against the grain of the way things are going. Can you even count all the different giveaway programs, all the different government agencies that are available to lazy people now? Nonprofit organizations are created to make their owners rich while idiot politicians give away tax money to these self enriching schemes of all kinds. When you hear non-profit, think con-artists and politicians trying to buy votes with giveaway programs.
MY NAME IS LISA RING and I’m a two-time former candidate for Congress endorsed by Justice Democrats and Our Revolution. Today I’m thrilled to announce that I’m joining the People’s Party as our new development manager.
Like so many of you, I’m fed up with the two-party system and I’m here to do something about it. I believe in the power of the people to transform this country. That’s what led me to activism in my 20s, inspired me to organize the Coast of Georgia for the past seven years, and drove me to run for Congress in GA-01 against a multi-millionaire Republican incumbent. We knocked on more than 50,000 doors and I advanced to the general as the Democratic Party nominee in 2018. I want to bring what I’ve learned to the People’s Party.
I had my political awakening at just 12 years old when Ronald Reagan became president and immediately cut Social Security benefits for my widowed mother and me; benefits we had depended on since my father’s death two years earlier. That made an indelible impact on me. I noticed the swift erosion of policies meant to protect people and the environment and saw the growth of corporate power that has become so pervasive it affects every aspect of our lives.
My eyes were opened to the world of activism when I became a canvasser in Philadelphia at the age of 18. I am a mother of four (three now grown) and I’ve been a stay-at-home mom on and off for nearly three decades. I have also been a corrections officer and the executive director of an anti-recidivism program for convicted felons. These experiences have given me a sense of empathy for all and a responsibility to create a better future.
In 2016, I organized Coastal Georgia around the delegate elections and served as a Bernie delegate as well as co-chair of the Georgia Bernie Sanders delegation. We Georgia delegates were energized both before and after the 2016 election and we all continued the political work we had started.
Right behind my pride for my children is my pride for the races I ran and the difference we made here in my district, in the state of Georgia, and throughout the nation. With the support of groups and individuals such as Justice Democrats, Our Revolution, labor unions, Nina Turner, Marianne Williamson, and so many committed progressives, we won 42 percent of the vote in the 2018 midterm election against a wealthy incumbent in a highly Republican district. We did this by knocking on tens of thousands of doors, attending hundreds of events, and fighting for a strongly progressive platform. We did better than any Democrat in nearly 30 years and I ran my campaign my way, with no compromise, through grassroots organizing and small-dollar donations without corporate money.
Unfortunately, my own party was the biggest obstacle to victory. Despite my longtime work within the Democratic Party, my success at organizing and mobilizing a district that had been neglected for decades, and the support I generated and brought with me, my own party chose to disregard me and to actively sabotage my campaign. Some Georgia Democrats never moved past my being a Bernie delegate and some did not agree with my unapologetic progressive policies. But the determining factor for success in our two-party system is corporate money. I couldn’t be bought or coerced, so I was always an outsider in the Democratic Party.
I’m here to ask grassroots members like you to believe in the future we’re creating, the future that moved me to join the People’s Party, and contribute the small and recurring donations that are crucial to our success. We don’t have any corporations or billionaires bankrolling our work. We have you.
Now is the time to give the people of this nation the basic rights that they are calling out for: Medicare for all, peace and prosperity, and economic, racial, and environmental justice. I am deeply grateful for this opportunity and humbled by everything that countless thousands of people have poured into this movement before me.
Let's do this.
ATTENTION LAKE COUNTY GRAND JURY
Regarding Mark Scaramella’s recent piece, “What if Sheriff Kendall owed the county $1.6 million?,” I have been trying to find the exact state statutory regulations that place the burden of responsibility on county officials for some time.
Using “Google,” the closest I’ve come up with is this one, which makes references to the terms but does not provide code section citations.
It has long been my contention that the Lake County Chief Administrative Officer was responsible for the failures of our Office of Emergency Services to be prepared to handle the two major (federally-declared) wildfire disasters we experienced in 2015, the latter of which is still a major blight on our economy and watersheds.
The failure of our OES in 2015 was bad enough, but in 2012 CalFire had provided an “after action” report to the Board of Supervisors with a list of very specific actions that needed to be taken to come into compliance with the federal “Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000,” to which their response was the typical absolute minimum effort.
Due to that minimum effort, we lost four lives here (for certain, a fifth body has yet to be found), around 1,200 homes and hundreds of businesses. The CAO at the time “suddenly” quit about 6 months after the worst of the two, two years short of his “30 years” in public service, and left the state of California entirely (not to speak ill of the dead, he did recently succumb to pancreatic cancer in his Utah home — which means no chance of worming the truth out of him). But in the three years between 2012 and 2015, the individual with the ultimate responsibility failed to understand the problems, failed to address the long-standing conflicts with the Sheriff’s Office, and failed to ensure that the staff of the county had received even the basic Incident Command instructions required.
More recently, our upper management echelon has begun an ambitious reform effort using another “outside consultant” and the placeholder for the responsible party in the department that is being re-organized abruptly quit a few weeks shy of a year on the job.
It’s clear to us here that the county Administration holds the reins when it comes to budgeting and expenditures, having a stable of “budget unit managers” who are occasionally called upon to explain some intricacy of late-year shuffling of funds to cover some inadequacy or other. But no one is ever held accountable for the losses suffered by the paying public for bad real estate investments, wasted tourism pipedreams, or considerable coverups for lip-service level management — such as the Area Agency on Aging’s insistence that the agency is “not involved in emergency management” when homebound individuals enrolled in the Elder Nutrition Programs need assistance to evacuate during a wildfire, and our senior centers are shut out of their roles for providing emergency management services in conjunction with all the other county agencies and departments that are supposed to protect them.
In terms of the state mandates being embodied in local policies and procedures, the volume of such works that have been the property of our County Administration but not accessible to the public (according to that very Administration) may or may not provide local manifestation of the state’s orders — but we can’t see them. At least your county’s administration admits they exist and there is something tied to a state law somewhere.
But the exchange between Williams and Gjerde is surreal. Gjerde says, “If it’s county code, I don’t know why it’s not being followed already.” Seems as though they don’t read the California Constitution’s Article XIII, Section 35, requirements for public revenues to be dedicated to health and safety first, ever, any of them.
Surely there is a way to bring the system into alignment with laws of the state? Can anyone really expect the local constabulary to do such a complex investigation — isn’t that the job of the Grand Jury?
Always glad to read your reports,
DEEP SOUTH: THE VALIANT WOMAN IN PALESTINE
by Paul Theroux
One of the women who had been unable to meet me a few weeks earlier was raising livestock some miles north of the small Delta town of Palestine. She was Dolores Walker Robinson, 42, a single mother of three boys: Mac, 22, Malcolm, 18, and Franklin, 12. After more than 20 years of travel with her serviceman husband and work and child rearing and a sudden divorce, Dolores had returned to the place where she'd been born and educated to make a life for herself and her boys. I thought of her as the Valiant Woman.
"I didn't want my sons to live the harsh life of the city," Dolores told me as we walked through her cow pasture. Most of the places she’d lived as the wife of a soldier had been urban or at Army posts near big cities. "I felt I would lose them to the city -- to the crimes and problems that you can't escape."
Soft-spoken, she had a gentle manner, an unlined face, and a vaguely asiatic cast to her hooded eyes. But when she moved -- carrying a bucket or feeding her animals or unhooking and swinging a farm gate -- she showed strength and purpose. She seemed to have great health and although she was dressed in farming clothes she had style as well, yellow boots, leather gloves, a red kerchief knotted on her head. The dominant quality she possessed was maternal, not just a reflection of what she had told me about moving back to Palestine and wishing to keep your children safe, but her whole approach to farming and to raising livestock, her instinct for nurturing.
Her small house and half her land were on high ground and I thought of the lines in Ulysses: "The movements which work revolutions in the world are born out of the dreams and visions in a peasant’s heart on the hillside. For them the earth is not an exploitable ground but the living mother."
With her savings as a certified nursing assistant she had bought 42 acres of neglected Palestine land. The shack on it was uninhabitable and falling to pieces. With volunteer help from friends and her boys she fenced the land, built a small house, and began raising goats. Four years passed. She heard of an organization based in Little Rock called Heifer International, a charity devoted to ending hunger and alleviating poverty with a simple but effective program called Passing On the Gift: "This means families share the training they receive [the mission statement said] and pass on the first female offspring of their livestock to another family. This extends the impact of the original gift."
Dolores enrolled in the program and after attending meetings and training sessions she received two heifers to fatten. She now had a herd of 10 cows -- and, keeping to the rules of the charity, she had passed along some cows to other farmers in need.
"I wanted something I could own," she said. She'd been raised on a farm near here. "I wanted to get my sons involved in the life I knew."
Apart from the herd of cows and goats, she had sheep, geese, ducks and chickens. She encouraged the birds to sit on the nests of eggs, sold some of the fowl, sold and ate the eggs. She grew corn to feed the cows. Because the cash flow from the animals was still at a breakeven point, she worked six days a week at the East Arkansas Area Agency on Aging as a caregiver and nursing assistant. Her two younger children were in school and the eldest was in college. Money was always a problem.
Early in the morning and after her day job at the agency she went about the farm chores, feeding and watering the animals, repairing fences, collecting eggs. Some days she attended livestock management classes -- she'd recently been to one in Greenville, Mississippi. "I made a lot of friends there. We're all trying to accomplish the same things."
Easy-going, uncomplaining yet tenacious, Dolores Walker Robinson had all the qualities that made a successful farmer: a great work ethic, a strong will, a love of the land, a way with animals, a fearlessness at the bank, a vision of the future, a gift for taking the long view, a desire for self-sufficiency.
"I'm looking 10 years down the road," she said as we tramped the sloping lane. "I want to build up the herd and do this full time."
Never mind that she was on a relatively small piece of land with a modest number of animals; being with her I was heartened, hopeful, happy, admiring her valiant spirit.
Many Southerners I met asserted -- with grim pride, or with sorrow, or quoting Faulkner -- that the South doesn't change. That's not true. In many places, the cities most of all, the South has been turned upside down; in the rural areas the changes come slowly, in small but definite ways. Dolores Robinson was someone who had shaken herself loose from another life to come home with her family and she seemed brave on her farm, making her life, looking after her children.
It goes without saying that the vitality of the south lies in the self-awareness of the deeply rooted people. What made the South an enlightenment for a traveler like me, more interested in conversation than sightseeing, was the heart and soul of its family narratives -- it's human wealth.
ALL THE PRESIDENT’S EMAIL
by Richard Ovenden
In the New Yorker a couple of years ago, the biographer Robert Caro described his first visit to the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas in 1976:
In front of me was a broad, tall marble staircase. At its top was a glass wall four stories high. Behind the glass, on each of the four stories, were rows of tall, red boxes – 175 rows across, each row six boxes high – with, on the front of each box, a gold circle that was a replica, I was to learn, of the presidential seal. As I climbed the stairs, there came into view more boxes, long lines of them stretching back into the gloom as far as I could see.
As he entered the reading room, the immensity of the task that faced him, as Johnson’s biographer, began to dawn: 40,000 boxes stood in wait, with 32 million pages in them. “I had a bad feeling,” Caro writes, as he remembered the advice he had been given at the start of his career: “Turn every page.”
Since Joe Biden’s victory last November, there has been no shortage of speculation on the nature of the next presidential library. Will we see the opening of the Donald J. Trump Presidential Library Casino and Resort in Las Vegas? Others suggested a garden shed or a prison library. One proposed name for it resonated strongly with me: “Bodleian Total Landscaping.”
The Presidential Records Act of 1978 requires the preservation of an administration’s papers by the National Archives and Records Administration. The process that led eventually to the Presidential Libraries Act of 1955, which encouraged presidents to donate their historical materials to the government, was begun by FDR in the late 1930s. Preserving their papers by law, it was hoped, would help ensure integrity in the highest office of the land.
In Britain the 1958 Public Records Act sought to extend the principle to “every person responsible for public records of every description,” who are required to “make arrangements for the selection of those records which ought to be permanently preserved.”
The papers of the 18th and 19th-century presidents had mixed fates: some of them survived in reasonably good order (and many are preserved by the Library of Congress), others much less so, and it was the gaps in the historical record that in part prompted FDR to take action. The Herbert Hoover Library was the first to be set up under the new system, in 1962, in West Branch, Iowa, where Hoover was born. Eighteen more have followed, sometimes situated in the president’s birthplace, often on university campuses in their home states, like LBJ’s is in Austin.
The presidential papers themselves are the property of the American people. The private papers, documenting their lives before and after their terms of office, are private property, but are normally added to the collections, to maintain the archival record of an entire life. In most cases artifacts (clothes, furniture, medals) are also included. Museum displays are a key part of the libraries’ role: most people, often on school trips or organized visits, come to see the exhibitions and learn about the presidents through the interpreted displays, lectures and other events.
But politicians’ papers are not only historical documents. They are also repositories of legal and evidential facts, as became clear in 1974 when Richard Nixon brokered an agreement that allowed him to retain control of thousands of hours of tape recordings. Congress was not happy. Later that year they passed the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act to regain control of the tapes. Nixon challenged the legislation in the courts, arguing that technology of this kind was not part of the national record but private property. In 1977 his appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court, and the National Archives began processing the tapes.
The historical record of an individual’s life today is in hybrid form, on paper and in other media, mostly digital. This poses major challenges for historians as well as archivists. Emails have replaced much of the paper correspondence that occupies so many of the boxes in LBJ’s archive. The technology adds a further layer of problems: the use of private email accounts, held on privately controlled servers, was the undoing of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2016.
A modern archive contains a myriad other document types, from spreadsheets for budget analysis to digital images. Where politicians in the past used newspaper columns, pamphlets, leaflets and posters to express their ideas to a large, geographically distributed audience, today’s political figures also put a huge effort into exploiting social media. Their posts may be deleted later, whether a few minutes or several years after their original appearance, potentially distorting the public record. Donald Trump’s habit of deletion prompted several “activist archivist” groups to set up online archives of his social media presence, independent of the originating platforms, so that his public utterances could be scrutinized. According to Factbase, Trump sent out nearly 150,000 tweets and deleted 1382 of them. He had more than 88 million followers by the time he was banned from the platform at the end of his term in office.
The NARA has archived the tweets sent by Trump and his staff from institutional accounts, such as @POTUS and @WhiteHouse, which have now passed to the Biden administration. They have also archived Trump’s White House website and a whole array of other sites associated with the administration (as they did with the Clinton, Bush and Obama-era sites).
On top of this is a host of paper and electronic records that emerged from the White House, although rumors of the destruction of records in the weeks leading up to Trump’s departure prompted several organizations to sue the White House for breach of federal laws.
The archivists in the US acted with impressive speed and scale to establish an archival presence for this mass of diverse material. They were able to do so because of the Presidential Records Act, but also because of the attention they gave to the issue, seeing it as of prime importance for the functioning of an open society as well as for the historical record.
There is no equivalent to the PRA in the UK, and the National Archives here have not, historically, seen the prime ministerial archives as their concern. Prime ministers’ papers are mixed up: “official” papers come under the purview of the 1958 Public Records Act and the scrutiny of the Cabinet Office, while “private” papers do not. The convention has been to allow the two halves of the archival record to remain together. At the Bodleian I am responsible for the papers of seven prime ministers. Churchill College, Cambridge has a further five, and the others are in various repositories around the country. The state does not directly contribute to their preservation or accessibility.
Unlike the Presidential Archives, there are no public funds for cataloguing, conserving and providing access to them. These tasks are hard enough with vast quantities of analogue material (the Heath Archive runs to 4500 boxes), but political archives from the past thirty years now have a significant digital component, adding to the cost and complexity of the archival responsibility. If this were not burdensome enough, the papers sometimes have to be bought to prevent their dispersal. The Bodleian had to purchase the Heath papers from his estate (with the help of the National Heritage Memorial Fund), and Churchill College bought Winston Churchill’s personal papers from the family with one of the Heritage Lottery Fund’s first grants – a whopping £13 million in 1995.
The current focus on the personal messages of senior figures in government, including the prime minister, highlights the critical importance of these records for the health of our democracy. The preservation of the public record is part of a system that holds public figures to account, and tries to provide a legal framework for their integrity while in office. The decisions taken by Lyndon Johnson on the Civil Rights Act, for example, continue to have a profound impact on American society. The communications sent on private messaging services by British ministers and officials fall squarely under the purview of the 1958 Public Records Act, but the Civil Service lacks the will and Parliament lacks the teeth to enforce compliance. How will the official inquiry into the handling of the pandemic be able to determine the facts of what happened without a full record of the decision-making process, as so much communication between the key players was conducted on Whats App and Signal? Without change, historians of the future will also have a gap in the record. Instead of turning every page, they will be thwarted in their attempts to click on every email or text message.
(London Review of Books)