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HIGH PRESSURE ALOFT will build across the area from the four corners region through Friday, bringing triple digit interior heat through Saturday. Coastal locations will remain mild. Dry conditions are expected. (NWS)
6 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.
CALIFORNIA RESIDENTS URGED TO CONSERVE ENERGY AMID HEAT WAVE
The operator of California's power grid is asking residents to voluntarily conserve power for a few hours Thursday evening as record-breaking heat blankets the West this week.
The California Independent System Operator issued a Flex Alert for Thursday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. to help relieve stress on the grid. It asks Californians to set thermostats to 78 degrees or higher, turn off unnecessary lights and avoid use of major appliances.
CEO Elliot Mainzer said the grid was stable and there was no expectation of rotating power outages, but that could change as temperatures spike in the coming days.
“The current forecast for shortages are relatively modest in magnitude and we think there’s a good chance that we’ll be able to resolve them across the course of the day tomorrow,” he told reporters Wednesday.
Mainzer said the electrical grid has seen upgrades in power storage and transmission since California experienced its first rolling blackouts in 19 years during a heatwave last summer. Pacific Gas and Electric Co. erroneously directed a 400-megawatt power plant in Fresno County to scale back, causing the system operator to order utilities to shed power last Aug. 15.
Communication has also improved, Mainzer said.
“We’ve characterized the situation going into this summer as guarded optimism,” he said. “We do think that we are in a generally better position than last summer.”
Summerlike heat arrived with spring still on the calendar as a dome of high pressure covered the West. Oppressive daytime highs have been followed by very warm nights.
Palm Springs hit a record 120 degrees (48.89 Celsius) on Tuesday, four degrees above the old June 15 record set in 1961.
A coastal eddy swirling low clouds over Southern California brought enough cooling Wednesday for forecasters to reduce some excessive-heat warnings to advisories around the Los Angeles region.
A milky haze of smoke from fires in Arizona, New Mexico and Mexico also blew over Southern California, the National Weather Service said.
Excessive-heat warnings were going into effect in the Central Valley, where some locations could see highs up to 113 degrees (45 degrees Celsius).
THE SALT, THE SEA, THE SMELL, THE SOFTWARE
Fort Bragg City Council returns to in-person meetings
by Chris Calder
The Fort Bragg City Council held its third face-to-face meeting with the public Monday night, after more than a year of lockdown Zoom democracy.
There were a couple of major items on the agenda, though the biggest one, approval of the coming year's budget, was largely a formality after about a month of public budget workshops spent going over the City’s dollars and cents, department by department. In four separate votes, the council unanimously approved the year's spending plan, balanced with a small surplus, but still heavily dependent on emergency federal funding.
Water was on the agenda as well, with a decision to approve a $500,000 "amendment" - i.e. unexpected expense - to the current year's budget to buy a relatively small desalination unit in time for the intensifying drought conditions expected later this summer and fall.
The unit, according to Public Works Director John Smith, will be able to generate 200 gallons per minute of fresh water, or about 280,000 gallons a day. That's about ten backyard swimming pools' worth - a lot of water but nothing compared with the overall needs of Fort Bragg.
What the unit will be used for, Smith said, is to pump fresh water into the treatment plant if or when seawater makes it up the Noyo River to the city's intake pipes, as it does during high tides in very dry years like this one. If seawater gets into the system, the plant has to be shut down and flushed out. The desalination unit, Smith said, will be able to fill in during especially dry times to keep that from happening.
Because the unit is relatively small, its energy requirements and waste products (salt) are not stumbling blocks, as they are for nearly every community that considers large scale desal, except oil rich sheikhdoms like Dubai and Saudi Arabia, where desalination plants supply water to millions at an astronomical, oil-subsidized price, in places where environmental regulations exist at the whim of kings.
In fact, Smith said, the salt pulled out by Fort Bragg's desalination unit can be diluted enough in the city's existing wastewater to meet EPA requirements for being discharged back into the sea, and will not have to be carted hundreds of miles to a hazardous waste disposal facility at city (i.e., water rate payers') expense.
Smith assured some who worried about environmental risks that Fort Bragg's city government is working with about a dozen state and federal agencies on the desal unit, and every environmental issue is being looked at. He assured fiscal doubters that there is a very good chance Fort Bragg will be reimbursed the half million dollars by a state government that is flush with a record budget surplus and focused on drought and climate change.
But desal is not John Smith's brainchild. Fort Bragg City councilman Lindy Peters has spent a good part of the past 30 years urging local government to pursue the idea.
Peters was mercifully brief Monday in acknowleging his role in promoting - often in the face of skepticism and indifference - an idea whose time in Fort Bragg has undeniably come. In a recent interview, City Manager Tabatha Miller acknowledged that, even though the city's new form of desal is small and its use limited, it's very likely desalination will play a growing part in Fort Bragg's water future.
The water discussion, although being kind of historic for the town, was relatively low key. The wastewater discussion, regarding “The Smell,” was not.
Fort Bragg is blessed and cursed with a sewer plant that overlooks the ocean. Blessed because the ocean is actually a pretty good place to discharge your treated wastewater, compared to, say, the Russian or Sacramento rivers or San Francisco Bay. The abalone off Soldier Point, where Fort Bragg has sent its treated sewage for generations, were rumored to be massive. That is, before they all starved to death over the last few years after the kelp forest along the entire North Coast vanished. But it wasn't the sewer plant that killed the kelp.
The curse is that the sewer plant is right next to Fort Bragg's tourism jewel, the Coastal Trail, and within smelling distance of a good part of town when the wind blows just wrong. It always has been.
What apparently has changed is that city government spent the past several years and tens of millions of dollars of federal money building a new sewer plant. By all accounts the new plant works very well, treating more sewage better while using a lot less energy.
But there's something about the "biosolids" left over after the new and improved treatment of Fort Bragg's merde that makes it smell, seemingly a lot more than it used to.
There are explanations for it that take a degree or at least an interest in chemistry to understand and this reporter has neither. Neither do the dozens of people who have complained to City Hall over the past month about the rising stench in their streets and yards. Some said they thought the smell was from their neighbors', or even their own, lack of hygiene, until they saw the general outcry on social media over The Smell and finally knew it wasn't them.
Except it kind of is them, and all of us who use the john in Fort Bragg now and again. That is a point city officials did not make to the irate citizens Monday night, but it is worth bearing in mind.
The update given by officials was brief: what's being done to alleviate the smell isn't working well enough; what they hope will work won't be here for a couple months. Looks like The Smell is with us for the summer at least.
The return of in-person council meetings has definitely injected some energy into the proceedings - and made for longer sessions. Monday's opened with various presentations and recognitions, and a spirited debate via the public comments period over whether the city should divert some of its continuing stream of emergency federal money into responses to climate change.
Several speakers for the Grassroots Institute, a Caspar-based advocacy group that in 2019 held a widely promoted but for unexplained reasons invitation-only confab to discuss the future of Fort Bragg's millsite, encouraged the council to use some of the federal money to build EV charging stations at city facilities, apparently in addition to the charging stations across Laurel Street from City Hall that sit unused most of the time.
In response to this, and to an earlier discussion about spending asset forfeiture money to build a music studio for local youth, developer Paul Clark accused the city council of fostering a favorable attitude toward "handouts." Clark, point man on many a major development proposal in Fort Bragg in recent decades, proclaimed that he has never asked for a thing from city government, and that he is seriously considering moving into town and running for a council seat, to change the council's current attitude. Clark even seemed to suggest that city government has avoided annexing his property, as he has desired, simply to keep him from living in Fort Bragg.
Exchanges like these are what make Fort Bragg City Council meetings some of the liveliest public discussions in Mendocino County. In fact, public participation was a recurring subject Monday night. The council was, as usual, accused of suppressing debate (on the budget, after a month of thinly attended public budget workshops), and of orchestrating a coverup (over The Smell - a seemingly impossible task).
There was also an agenda item about "voluminous public comments" - some running in the hundreds of pages - that get sent to City Hall, often right before a crucial meeting. City Clerk June Lemos explained that such large and complicated files can and do crash the city's online agenda and meeting software. Lemos said the use of last minute, phonebook-sized comments (not her description) is increasing.
A recent example came at the Fort Bragg Planning Commission's meeting ten days ago where commissioners approved Grocery Outlet's proposal to build a store on South Franklin St., a much debated proposal.
Two hours before that meeting, Jacob Patterson, son of Planning Commissioner Michelle Roberts, sent in a 900-plus page "comment" that crashed City Hall's computer system. Once the meeting started, Patterson, who has been advised repeatedly that sending big files at the last minute causes such problems, castigated City Hall staff during the public comments session, questioning their general competence on such an important decision for the town, when it seemed they couldn't even keep their own software running.
At Monday's meeting, Lemos explained to the council that the city's computer system is no match for massive, dissertation-sized files like the one Patterson submits on a regular basis, (very little of them actually written by the commenter) that often contain linked spreadsheets and other untranslatable code, copied off of websites.
Such files are almost guaranteed to interfere with the city's online platform for public participation, especially when they are sent immediately before a meeting. Lemos again implored the public to send public comments of reasonable size, and in a form that can conceivably be understood by councilmembers, planning commissioners and the public, as opposed to sending thousands of pages at the last minute that no one can possibly read in time to make a difference.
The proposed ordinance change would give city staff the ability to hold off publishing comments that are hundreds of pages long until the day after a meeting, to avoid the computer system crashes and the resulting lack of transparency just as the public is paying attention.
The idea got pushback from Patterson himself, who was the subject of a public employees union complaint in April for ongoing "harassment" of City Hall's almost entirely female staff, to the point that many of them have said they fear for their privacy and even safety, after Patterson appeared (to them at least) to be stalking some of them. Patterson denies any such activity, though he did allow in a recent interview that he has taken photos of a City Hall staffer's home - all in the course of official business, he says - and may have by chance observed the city manager on a weekend and commented to her about it.
On Monday, Patterson accused city staff of surreptitiously duplicating documents in his Grocery Outlet comment to make it longer than it originally was. He did not dispute that it was huge and last-minute.
Former city council candidate and frequent public commenter Mary Rose Kaczorowski also poo-poo'd the idea that huge last minute comments are a problem and suggested that the public's voice, and her own, is being suppressed by City Hall staff. Kaczorowski announced that she had a solution: simply make PDF files.
Lemos assured Kaczyroski and council members she "knows very well how to make PDFs," and that it is unfortunately no solution because of the many hours it takes to turn several hundred pages of emailed documents into readable files.
Council members voted unanimously to let city staff be the judge about what constitutes "voluminous" comments, and publish them the day after a meeting. Mayor Bernie Norvell said he trusts Lemos and the staff to do their job of facilitating public discussions. Lemos said "voluminous" essentially means anything big enough to crash City Hall's system, and assured the council once again she has no interest in picking and choosing who gets to comment on public proceedings.
ON THE TRAIL OF WILLIAM EVERS
WILLIAM ALLAN EVERS (see attached photographs). 40 year-old white male adult, 6 feet 1 inch tall, weighing 180 pounds with brown eyes, brown hair and reddish facial hair. Skull or skulls tattoo on his right upper arm, “Demon face” tattoo on his upper left arm and unknown prominent tattoo on his chest. Currently wanted for an active No Bail arrest warrant by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for Criminal Threats and should be considered ARMED AND DANGEROUS.
On 06-14-2021 at approximately 5:00 PM the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office received a report of a burglary occurring at a residence located in the 3000 block of Cameron Road in Elk.
The homeowner was away from the residence and noticed the presence of a person who appeared to be William Allan Evers inside the residence based upon live-time footage from a security camera.
It should be noted this was the same residence that Evers was believed to have burglarized on May 12 which resulted in the officer involved shooting documented previously.
Due to the notable public safety risks associated with responding to the residence, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office requested additional specialized SWAT personnel from the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office, Humboldt County Sheriff's Office, Lake County Sheriff's Office, Santa Rosa Police Department and Mendocino County Multi-Agency SWAT team.
Since the evening of 06-14-2021 to date (06-16-2021), these allied agencies have been assisting the Sheriff's Office with a search of the heavily wooded Cameron Road area in an attempt to locate Evers.
These search efforts have been unsuccessful as of 06-16-2021 at 3:45 PM and will conclude at 6:00 PM until further search operation(s) can be planned for the future.
Evers is currently wanted for an active No Bail arrest warrant by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for Criminal Threats (422 PC) and should be considered ARMED AND DANGEROUS.
Anyone with information regarding Evers, recent or past unreported burglaries or the whereabouts of Evers is asked to contact the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office at 707-463-4086 or the Sheriff's Office Tip-Line at 707-234-2100.
SEBASTOPOL MAN IDENTIFIED AS HEAD-ON COLLISION VICTIM
by Colin Atagi
A Sebastopol man was identified Wednesday as the motorhome driver who died in a head-on collision on Highway 101.
Jesse David Pearce, 36, died after being thrown from his vehicle on a stretch north of Cloverdale, according to the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office.
Investigators say he was heading north around 7 a.m. Tuesday when he drifted into the opposite lane and collided with a southbound big rig.
Also killed was Pearce’s pitbull mix.
The big rig left the roadway and went 80 feet down an embankment before coming to a stop in a dry wash of the Russian River.
Its driver was airlifted to a hospital for major injuries.
The collision was just south of Frog Woman Rock on a stretch of Highway 101 with no barrier between north- and southbound lanes.
The 15-mile stretch of highway in southern Mendocino County, between Hopland and Cloverdale, has been the site of numerous serious car wrecks over the past dozen years, several resulting in deaths.
Traffic was backed up for hours while the California Highway Patrol investigated the latest collision.
(The Press Democrat)
CHRIS SKYHAWK PRESENTS
Please join host Chris Skyhawk on KZYX/Z Thursday night 6-17 at 7pm for a lively discussion on activism, earth defense, in the face of climate change - his first guest will be Anna Marie Sternberg of Redwood Nation Earth First, they will be discussing the recent acts of non-violent civil disobedience that have been occurring in Jackson Demonstration State Forest in East Caspar and ongoing efforts to compel the state of CA to recognize the crucial role these forests play in mitigating climate change, the potential economic boon should recreation become a primary role in these forests, and the potential for cultural hearing should displaced tribal peoples be restored a voice in the fate of these lands.
His second guest will be Max Wilbert, Max is an activist and author of the book Bright Green Lies: How the Environmental Movement Lost Its Way and What We Can Do About It. We will be discussing Thacker Pass, Nevada where the Bureau of Land Management has approved a 2-square mile open Pit mine to extract Lithium for electric car batteries. A consortium of tribal peoples (Shoshone and Paiute) and their environmental allies are gathering in a direct action encampment to oppose this project. Out of area listeners can tune in online at www.kzyx.org
JACKSON STATE FOREST: LOGGING BEGINS
Logging began at daylight this morning in the intensely contested “Caspar 500” timber harvest plan (THP) in Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF), with large second-growth redwoods being felled within 6’ of protestors and a passing trail cyclist. Making their presence known with air horns and loud whistles, several protestors walked up to the fallers and asked them to stop but their pleas were refused by a Supervisor who insisted that tree falling must continue, despite the public’s presence.
After a tense stand-off and the Supervisor’s withdrawal, the protestors and cyclist were able to engage three fallers in nonviolent dialogue and eventually convinced them to voluntarily rest their saws. Other forest protestors grouped near a 96” diameter redwood known as the “Cable Scar Tree”. The massive Old Growth tree is not officially “marked for cut” as part of the THP, but IS being cut to build a new road on the plan.
Concerned community members called on Cal Fire State Forests Program Director Kevin Conway, to immediately halt logging operations while people are in the woods. Coastal Mendocino County resident and teacher Andy Wellspring said that Conway had claimed in a phone conversation this morning that “people could be present in an active logging zone at a ‘safe distance.” Wellspring asked if those regulations were concerning civilians close to tree felling or co-workers close to tree felling, but did not receive an answer.
After Wellspring told Conway his grave concern that “CalFire is endangering people’s lives by allowing logging to continue in Caspar 500”, Conway hung up on him. Protestors have been receiving mixed messages from CalFire. Previously, Conway had said logging should halt if workers could see an individual in the forest and had offered to “unmark” the well-known “Mama” and “Papa” trees where tree sits have been ongoing since April, and place a 400 ‘ buffer zone around them. However, the Registered Professional Forester Jason Curna, who is responsible for the THP, recently ordered the sitters to come down.
A support team for the forest protectors immediately notified Mendocino County Sheriff Matt Kendall the CHP Officer Finnegan of the danger posed by unfettered tree falling near members of the public as well as reports of vehicular harassment and dangerous driving by drivers for Anderson Logging, the contractor for the cut. At a meeting the day before with Sheriff Kendall, it was agreed that their priority should be safety first.
“The protestors are exercising their First Amendment rights on public property”, said Linda Perkins, a liaison to law enforcement. Conway has said the protectors are there illegally but has cited no legal basis or California State Code to support his statement. Dozens of protestors have been risking arrest in every day since logging began on June 10 last week in an effort to intercept loggers arriving to cut down big redwoods.
“JDSF is the People’s forest”, said Sloth, the current resident of the Papa Tree. “This would be the perfect place to start implementing the Governor’s 30×30 plan to set aside thirty percent of the world’s lands for environmental values by the year 2030”. The Coalition to Save Jackson State Forest is calling for a moratorium on timber harvesting in JDSF until its Management Plan is updated with a current Environmental Impact Review, which has not been done since 2007. The next update is set for 2026 but many believe the climate crisis requires action urgent now. Activists vow to return on Wednesday en masse.
(Press Release issued by Redwood Nation Earth First! and Mama Tree Network by Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters)
SHERIFF KENDALL SEEKS BUDGET BALANCE
I wanted to reach out to our residents in Mendocino County regarding several conversations which have occurred between the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors and the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office. There has been much discussion regarding the budget and efficiencies which will help us to continue serving the public. We are all in agreement that we must be efficient in our duties in order to serve our communities. There is a limit to this before it begins having an impact on the service which the public demands and deserves.
We are in discussions regarding several things including the Sheriff’s IT department, vehicle replacements and other items which are extremely critical to the operations of the Sheriff’s Office. The reason these items are important are because ultimately, they allow us to identify, investigate and suppress crime in Mendocino County. The impacts of crime are far reaching and continue to be an expense to our communities. These expenses are often a drain on the entire system, from drug abuse which we see as a major factor in psychological well-being and a direct contributor to crimes including burglaries, assaults and crimes against persons. All of these take a toll on not only our residents, they create a huge cost for all county departments. The expense is not only monetary however often there is the cost of life. We also want to see prevention of crime by patrolling and being within the community. Like I have said before, we pay now or we pay later, later always comes with interest.
We are continuing to investigate and solve crimes. When we solve crimes we are preventing future crimes while working with our District Attorney to hold the offender accountable. These offenders are arrested prior to committing further crimes. Our deputies are continuing to serve our communities and have a high clearance rate of on felony calls including burglaries, and assaults. The reason for this is because our deputies are connected to the communities. This connection begins with trust and understanding. This trust is cultivated by being in the communities with you, working with you and often keeping information confidential.
I receive several calls and emails every day from community members who wish to remain anonymous. We often receive information on various crimes because the community trusts us to keep their anonymity. I can assure you retaining the trust of the community is a high priority for me.
We have engaged in several life saving activities, some of which were people who had overdosed on drugs. In many of these cases, our deputies were able to arrive at the scene safely and administer NARCAN or other life-saving measures. We have been able to complete these duties because we are able to patrol our communities and remain in partnership with the community members.
During the 2017 wildfire event, a Sheriff’s Sergeant was patrolling in Potter Valley when the initial fire began. Due to his location and ability to communicate from a radio unit, he was able to begin the alert and warning to residents while calling out additional personnel for evacuations. We have no way to quantify the lives which were saved because this sergeant was patrolling in a small community, in the middle of the night.
These are just a couple of reasons why we must continue moving forward with the equipment and personnel and support staff needed to serve our communities. As we move forward we will all continue looking at efficiencies and keep the spending to what is actually needed. Please understand there is a balance between where we are efficient VS where we become deficient. I am confident we will strike this balance and continue to serve as we have sworn to do.
Sheriff Matt Kendall, email@example.com, (707) 463-4085
ROJAS KIDNAPS A ONE YEAR OLD
On June 14th at approximately 3:10pm, Ukiah PD Officers were dispatched to North Coast Opportunities, located at 413 N. State St. regarding a juvenile in danger, possibly kidnapped. It was reported that a vehicle had been stolen with a small child secured in a car seat in the back seat. Officers arrived at the scene and spoke to the victim, who was also the child’s mother.
The victim told Officers she parked her vehicle at the curb in front of North Coast Opportunities and exited the vehicle. She left the vehicle running, with the keys in the ignition, and her one year old child secured in a car seat in the back seat. The victim walked to the front door of North Coast Opportunities and knocked on the front door seeking parental assistance for her family. At the same time, the suspect, Christina Rojas saw the vehicle was still running, got into the driver’s seat and drove away.
The victim saw the vehicle driving away with her child. The victim made contact with people inside North Coast Opportunities and immediately called police.
While UPD Officers were investigating, UPD Dispatch received a call from a person on Mazzoni St. This person stated an unknown female attempted to leave a child with them. They declined to take the child and the female drove away. The description of the female matched the description of Rojas and the vehicle matched the description of the victim’s vehicle.
Approximately 20 minutes later, Officer from the California Highway Patrol found the victims vehicle on Feedlot Lane in Ukiah. UPD Officers, along with MCSO Deputies responded to that location to investigate. They contacted Rojas while she was still in the vehicle and detained her. The 1 year old child was still secured in the back seat. The victim was taken to the scene and reunited with her child.
Rojas was ultimately arrested for vehicle theft, kidnapping, and child endangerment. She was booked at the Mendocino County Jail. The case will be reviewed by the District Attorney’s Office for possible charges against the victim for child endangerment.
LOCALS TALK ABOUT PG&E'S TREE TRIMMING CREWS
Johnny Schmitt: Has anyone else had issues with the pg&e hired tree crews coming onto their property and randomly cutting down your trees, on Saturdays in my case? I'm all for fire safety but these guys don't really seem to even know the guidelines (is it 20-24 feet from center, both sides?) they want to butcher a big redwood, which they already defaced a few months ago, and put blue marks on a lot of other trees they decided were in “their zone.” I asked them to leave and not come back without a supervisor, they returned a few days later but still seemed vague and sketchy as to what had to go. Do we have any say, and can you lock them out? Any help appreciated...
Kathy Wylie: The clearance is typically 10 feet from either side of the pole, but it depends on the right of way. If it is a pole with equipment like a switch or a recloser, it could be more. The notifications are courtesy only.
Johnny Schmitt: Ours must be main transmission lines as the clearance is 40ft/20 feet on each side. We don't even have power available to us here, they just encroach on our land!
Kathy Wylie: Fires have streamlined the process per the bankruptcy judge and the CPUC - who you want to complain to (as the deciders). Next year it could be 20 more feet.
Shawn Stark: Man they can't win.
Nicole Leigh Williams: They came to our property too. My fiance asked them to leave, told them he'll deal with the trees and he's a firefighter. Closed the gate and left, but when he came home a few hours later he left the gate open... They came back while we were home and did it anyway! Very unprofessional.
Ann Meadlin: If you don’t allow them on your property and there is a fire starting there can they come after you for not allowing them in? I am not trying to be a smart a** just want to know the answer.
Jo Bradley: The company who came to my property trampled the garden and then left all the limbs on the lawn for us. They got a call and they came back and picked them up. They also took down a tree from next door and asked to remove a fence panel, saying they would put it back up as good as it was (it was good to start). They literally used baling wired to put it back… Awful owners!
Maureen Brogan Gealey: They came onto our property “to cut down trees under the lines.” As I pointed out to them - our lines are all underground from the ending pole on a property down the road. Still they came back with a crew and luckily I was here to ask them to show me.
Zaidee Stavely: Someone should contact a reporter at the Press Democrat about this.
Carrie Callan: I don’t care for the drones hovering over my deck for minutes at a time. Creepy.
Kit Wolfe: I have asked them frequently to not come onto our property without their supervisor and a call for permission from us first. Now at least we get a heads up and can supervise them. They're a menace.
Jenny Shattuck: They send a notice in those flyers you get with Bill in it, they say they will be monitoring lines. Somehow this is their notice. There is a way to contact pg&e and talk to them. Used to have number. Will try to find it.
Johnny Schmitt: We have to remember: This is NOT pg&e crew, it's contracted out at great expense, ours!
Let me begin by asking: Wouldn’t you think it was unfortunate if it were someone’s job to risk their health and safety for those in their community; yet they were hardly paid enough to live in the community that they serve? Well, this is exactly what is happening for our local City of Ukiah firefighters. The starting wage for a firefighter in our city is $18/hour. This is comparable to the wage of someone starting at In-and-Out Burger. In a city where the average home rents for $2,000 a month, these people can’t afford to rent homes or support their families single handily and forget about ever being able to buy a home. Now, lets compare these wages with those of firefighters working in Santa Rosa. The starting wage for firefighters working in Sonoma county range between $7,000 and $8,000/month. Furthermore, these departments often staff fire engines three firefighters to one engine, while ours only staffs two to one. This poses a safety risk, especially when two firefighters are tasked with responding to medical emergencies that involve lifting very heavy people. Needless to say, injuries are common in this department. And when firefighters are out on injury, which two are now, the remaining firefighters are mandated to stay on shift. My loved one has been mandated to work 72 hour shifts all month. These firefighters run calls all day and night, and if you think they are able to sleep well during these 72 hour stretches, you’re wrong. As you can imagine, this also poses a risk for injury. While many City of Ukiah departments received raises this year, the fire department did not. This is during a year where much of our firefighter’s time was spent responding to medical aids during the COVID pandemic. Our tax dollars fund a city manager who has a pay and benefits package worth over $300,000 annually. Why can’t he balance the budget in a way that compensates these individuals fairly? Mind you, it’s not that they haven’t been asking him for a raise. I have never been more disappointed in this city. As we enter this fire season, it is my feeling that the public should know just how unfairly the City of Ukiah treats some of the people who support it the most.
A concerned citizen
PBS ANNOUNCES ANDY LOPEZ DOCUMENTARY
PBS to air local documentary on Andy Lopez shooting, Santa Rosa, California
A public affairs documentary about the 2013 shooting of 13-year-old Latino Andy Lopez by a Sonoma County deputy sheriff — seven years in the making — will be aired by regional PBS affiliate Northern California Public Media on July 15, 2021.
“3 Seconds in October” is the ground-breaking story of the controversial Andy Lopez shooting by then-deputy sheriff Erick Gelhaus, the historic community reaction, and the community’s efforts for reform of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office.
Using interviews, previously confidential police investigative files, litigation records, and other materials, the film reveals a second-by-second account of the shooting and chronicles efforts by local police and public officials to justify the killing. In the eight years since Andy Lopez was shot, police and local officials have argued that there is a simple explanation for the shooting — a reasonable deputy sheriff mistook a toy gun for a real gun. Apparently, it was not that simple.
Although Sonoma County eventually paid $3 million to settle a lawsuit by the Lopez family to avoid a public trial, efforts to learn more about the Lopez shooting and to achieve reform of the Sheriff’s Office have continued. A Sonoma county-wide initiative calling for significantly increased oversight of the Sheriff’s Office motivated by the Andy Lopez shooting passed with a 67% “Yes” vote last November. Aftershocks from the Lopez shooting eight years ago still reverberate today.
The film is narrated by nationally recognized narrator and actor Peter Coyote with investigative consulting by Lowell Bergman, formerly of CBS’ “60 Minutes”. Produced by local independent public affairs film company Blue Coast Films, LLC in association with PBS/Northern California Public Media, this timely film explores the legacy of an incident that changed the course of history in Sonoma County while revealing why these police shootings are allowed to happen with such frequency throughout the United States.
An early review of the documentary:
“Powerful, timely, tragic, and urgently needed truth telling about system failures in this pivotal moment in American history.”
- San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin
The film will air on PBS affiliate station KRCB (North Bay) on July 15, 2021 at 10 pm on Channel 22 (Comcast, AT&T and Dish).
It will also air on PBS affiliate KPJK (South Bay) on July 17, 2021 at 10 pm on Channel 17 (Comcast), and Channel 43 (DirecTV and ATT).
National PBS broadcast dates will be announced when available.
A media preview of the documentary is available by arrangement with the film’s producer.
Contact: Ron Rogers, Producer, Blue Coast Films, LLC, 415 717-2023, firstname.lastname@example.org
MENDOCINO COUNTY'S Public Health Officer Dr. Andy Coren has yet to identify a big box store for covid cases, but has belatedly named a few of the Ukiah Valley's mom and pops where someone on-staff has been infected. Coren said he didn't intend “to be punitive.”
BUT IT'S NOT only punitive as the businesses lose their more, uh, nervous customers, it's a departure from previous Health pressers where businesses are not named as covid-confirmed.
RATIONALLY, what if a dishwasher or even a server catches covid, the odds of a customer getting it, especially given that most people eating out at this point are fully vaxxed.
TYPICAL MENDO MANAGEMENT. 18 months after covid breaks out our public health officer suddenly begins calling out businesses by name. No, the editor sniffed as he climbed up on his high horse, I won't name the identified small businesses, one of which is an old fave of mine, and where I will make a point of having lunch soon.
ASKED what led to the neo-press release policy of naming specific small businesses, Coren said he would “look into it.”
SHERIFF KENDALL told us he would talk to the CHP commander in Ukiah about the speeding prob in the Anderson Valley, particularly on the weekends. Not only has the Sheriff himself stopped vehicles travelling well over the limit to “warn and advise” their drivers, the CHP was in The Valley Friday afternoon and Sunday during the afternoon hours when outsiders, and plenty of locals, cannonball up and down Highway 128.
THE ONGOING demonstrations at Jackson State don't seem to have involved state reps McGuire and Wood. Of course we couldn't expect their majesties to visit the site themselves to view CalFire's indefensible cash-in of a large portion of publicly owned state property — what's next? Muir Woods, the Avenue of the Giants? — but McGuire and Wood have been in office long enough to have some influence with the so far anonymous CalFire bureaucrat who decided to log Jackson while lumber prices were sky high.
US AMERICANOS, as we move through 12 or even 16 years of formal education, don't get any economics, even if we ask for it. Which I did long ago at the college level, but all I remember from two semesters of econ was a lot of cheerleading that American capitalism was the best and only way of achieving the freedom we all were alleged to enjoy. No capitalism, no freedom. All I know about economics I learned on my own, not that I'd try to pass myself off as truly knowledgeable.
BUT WHEN I READ THAT “Wholesale prices in the U.S. increased at their fastest annual rate ever in May, driven by rising food prices, as soaring inflation threatens to derail the post-pandemic economic recovery,” I think inflation has been soaring for at least two years, and the central banking system (privately owned) has been manufacturing inflation by creating money simply by moving digits around because the primary function of Federal Reserve is to protect the wealthy who own it, as we saw in 2008 when criminals were bailed out with fresh money because they were “too big to fail.”
FORT BRAGG needs to suppress Jacob Patterson, an obsessive-unto-mentally ill character who has previously brought a bogus race case against the town and has since harassed city staff with unfounded, endless demands on staff time. (Taking advantage of antiquated state law, Patterson had previously picked up a quick and easy thirty grand claiming FB discriminated against Mexicans; it would have cost the city more to contest it than pay this pest off. BTW, the NorthCliff Motel has one floor too many because owner Dominic Affinito kept suing the city until the city couldn't afford to stay in court.)
AS CHRIS CALDER'S excellent account of Fort Bragg's first public meeting of its city council since the plague began points out, Patterson's mother sits on the town's Planning Commission, and seems to be feeding sonny boy misinformation or misinterpreted information that he uses to harass the city. Patterson has previously bombarded city staff with a barrage of unreasonable requests but turned up at the meeting to blather on in person.
WE LEARN from Calder's account that Patterson has also been observed taking photographs of at least one city staffer's home, behavior which has understandably unnerved city workers, and begging the question, How dangerous is this nut? He isn't the first crazy lawyer to land in Mendocino County, but the others were merely wacky. Or drunk. But this guy, who lives with his Planning Commission mom has done this kind of thing before at his previous venues, but his behavior lately seems ever more unhinged.
CANNABIS PROGRAM LISTENING SESSION REMINDER
Just a friendly reminder that the County of Mendocino Cannabis Program is hosting a Listening Session this evening from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. (PST). Registration for this webinar closes at 5:15 p.m. If you have not yet registered for the webinar and wish to participate, please register by utilizing the following link: www.mendocinocounty.org/cannabiswebinar
If you would like to watch the webinar, but not directly participate you can do so by watching the livestream on the Mendocino County YouTube channel at: https://youtu.be/HSALGpGIu3o
SUPERVISOR MULHEREN: Monday, June 14: General Government meeting with Supervisor Williams. Direct staff to find a consultant to update all County social media policies for official posting and for what is or isn’t allowed with employees. Direct cannabis staff to help update the Legislative Platform to improve the opportunities for Cannabis businesses in Mendocino County. At the NCRA there was Unanimous support of The Great Redwood Trail and Support for SB69.
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AVA VERSION (REPOST)
REMEMBER THAT SILLY DISCUSSION the Supervisors had on Tuesday, June 9th about holding department heads personally responsible for budget-overruns in their departments?
AT THE TIME, SUPERVISOR TED WILLIAMS wanted the Board to simply adopt the idea on the spot since state law requires it. CEO Angelo agreed, but added that there should be some kind of appeal process. The CEO offered the example of the Sheriff being overbudget by $1.6 million, so he would get a memo from the Auditor saying that Sheriff Kendall owed the County $1.6 million, due and payable to Mendocino County forthwith. But the Sheriff should have an opportunity to appeal his $1.6 million invoice. After bouncing the idea around a while, with the vague awareness that it wasn’t as simply as just sending a bill to the offending department head, Board Chair Dan Gjerde “directed” that the question of billing the department heads for budget overruns and devising an accompanying appeal procedure be referred to the Board’s standing “General Government Committee” which, coincidentally, is made up of Supervisor Williams (chair) — the same Supervisor Williams who wanted to implement the personal responsibility for department heads policy immediately — and Supervisor Maureen Mulheren.
BY FURTHER COINCIDENCE, the General Government Committee met this Monday, June 14 and guess what was NOT on their agenda: That’s right, the personal responsibility for department heads policy question. In fact it was never even mentioned. After a ho-hum discussion of the County’s entirely irrelevant and purely academic “legislative platform” and a decisionless review of the County’s “social media policies,” the meeting was abruptly adjourned without discussion of the personal responsibility for department heads policy, nor a mention of it being on the next General Government Committee agenda — which won’t meet again until August 9, if then. (The General Government Committee has a habit of cancelling its meetings fairly often.)
OF COURSE the idea of holding Sheriff Kendall or any other department head responsible for departmental overruns is idiotic and an indication of how poorly Mendo and particularly CEO Angelo and the Supervisors manage and report on their budgets. But you’d think that at least if direection was given to refer it to “General Government,” that “General Government” would acknowledge that direction and start working on it, or at least realize how stupid it is and refer it back to the full Board. But Mendo has never taken “board direction” seriously and keeps very little track of their own “directives,” to the point that they accumulate on a list maintained by the CEO herself which has no due dates and almost all of which are listed as “in process.”
HUMCO SUPES ON GREAT REDWOOD TRAIL
May 11, 2021
To: Mitch Stogner, Executive Director North Coast Railroad Authority 419 Talmage Road, Suite M Ukiah, CA 95482
From: Board Of Supervisors, County Of Humboldt
825 5th Street, Suite 111, Eureka, CA 95501-1153
Telephone (707) 476-2390
Subject: Proposed Railbanking of North Coast Railroad Authority’s Line from Willits to End of Line in Samoa, Korblex, Korbel, and Carlotta; Surface Transportation Board Docket No. AB 1305
Dear Mr. Stogner:
The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors supports preserving the North Coast Railroad Authority’s (“NCRA’s”) railroad right-of-way through railbanking for interim trail use and subject to possible future reconstruction and reactivation of the right-of-way for rail service. NCRA’s railroad right-of-way is an immensely valuable public resource and should remain dedicated for current and future transportation needs. The proposed action to file a railbanking application with the Surface Transportation Board is consistent with the land use plans and zoning regulations that apply to Humboldt County’s jurisdiction.
We look forward to collaborating with NCRA and the successor agency on planning and implementing trail projects. We understand that the proposed Senate Bill SB-69 would mandate development of a master plan for the Great Redwood Trail. In planning for the Great Redwood Trail within Humboldt County, it will be important to recognize the significant differences in context between the portion of the line from Scotia north to Samoa (the “coastal region”) and the portion of the line south of Scotia along the Eel River to the county line near Alderpoint (the “interior region”). We expect that the near-term priority will be to develop trail segments linking cities and communities within the coastal region along Humboldt Bay, the Eel River Valley, and the Mad River. Developing trails within the more remote interior region will likely be a longer-term enterprise that will require significant planning and consultation with adjacent landowners to address geological instability and compatibility with adjacent land use.
Trails should be planned and designed with consideration for community values and priorities and the context of the surrounding landscape and land use. A key planning principle in developing trails and access points is to ensure compatibility with adjacent land use. Security, trespass, fire, drainage, dogs, traffic, parking, and other important issues will need to be addressed. Just because the railroad corridor is railbanked does not mean that trails should be developed along every segment. Suitability for trail development will need to be determined on a segment-by-segment basis. In some locations an alternative alignment for a trail will be preferred over the railroad corridor. In addition, the purpose and design of the trail should fit the context. For example, trails that connect cities and smaller urban areas will likely be planned to have both transportation and recreational purposes, resulting in paved paths designed in accordance with engineering standards to accommodate bicycles and mobility devices. Trails through natural and undeveloped areas can often be planned for recreational use only, resulting in smaller unpaved paths.
Investment is needed to rehabilitate and maintain the railroad corridor where it is having an adverse impact on adjacent property or public trust resources. NCRA’s railroad within Humboldt County has received little maintenance and repair since the 1990s. In many locations, deterioration of the rail prism and railroad infrastructure is increasing flood risks, contributing to drainage problems, creating potential safety and environmental hazards, discharging sediment to waterways, and creating potential nuisance conditions. The railroad along the Humboldt Bay shoreline has become critical coastal protection infrastructure; however, certain areas have suffered significant erosion and deterioration. The Great Redwood Trail represents a critical opportunity to leverage funding that can address these difficult issues while creating trails that provide substantial public benefit.
Please continue to coordinate with Hank Seemann, Public Works Deputy-Director (707- 445-7741 or email@example.com) on trail-related matters in Humboldt County’s jurisdiction.
Virginia Bass, Chair, County of Humboldt Board of Supervisors
LIFE CONVERSATIONS GROUP
Different phases of life can require different kinds of conversations so we would like to have a get-together that would allow "life conversations" and sharing our collective wisdom and support about issues regarding living well, changing health and mobility issues, caregiving, grief, our changing roles, losing autonomy, death and dying or .....?? These conversations can happen informally during the event or allow for split-off groups to form and meet at other times.
We are proposing to meet on: Weds. 6/23 or Thursday 6/24 from 4 - 5:30.
Please RSVP and let us know which day(s) would work for you so we can determine the best venue or if you're interested but can't make either time and suggest days/times that could be considered.
Please bring a chair and a snack or beverage to share if you'd like.
Contct Donna if you are interested: (707) 684-0325
LAYTONVILLE! COVELO! AND EVEN ALBION, PIONEER HOME OF THE EVOLVED BUD
From 06-04-2021 to 06-09-2021 the County of Mendocino Marijuana Enforcement Team (COMMET) conducted several enforcement operations in the areas of Laytonville, Covelo and Albion in Mendocino County.
The following enforcement operations consisted of the following which will be referred to the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office for possible prosecution after the completion of each independent investigation:
2021-13698 (5200 block of North Highway 101 in Laytonville)
On 06-04-2021 COMMET members served a search warrant at the listed property with the assistance of personnel from the California Department of Fish & Wildlife. The investigation was based upon information provided to "Cal-Tip" in regards to reported acts of wildlife poaching and unlawful marijuana cultivation.
COMMET personnel eradicated 4,191 growing marijuana plants and approximately 76 pounds of processed bud marijuana.
2021-13395 (75000 block of County Road 337L / Refuse Road in Covelo)
On 06-07-2021 COMMET members served a search warrant at the listed property with the assistance of personnel from the California Department of Fish & Wildlife.
The warrant was issued as a result of probable cause being established that marijuana was being unlawfully grown on the property.
The initial investigation showed the property owner was allowing several groups of individuals to unlawfully grow large amounts of marijuana on the property.
COMMET personnel eradicated 3,076 growing marijuana plants and approximately 36.5 pounds of processed bud marijuana.
Evidence located showed act(s) of wildlife poaching and an imitation rifle (orange safety tip removed) at the grow site.
2021-14228 (24000 block of Biggar Lane in Covelo)
On 06-07-2021 COMMET members responded to a reported illegal trespassing marijuana growing operation on tribal lands which had been reported by the Round Valley Tribe and Mendocino County Code Enforcement.
COMMET was assisted by personnel from the Sheriff's Office Detective Unit and the Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force.
COMMET contacted an adult male who was inside a marijuana drying room which was not a county permitted structure.
COMMET personnel eradicated 2,339 growing marijuana plants.
2021-14005 (24400 block of Biggar Lane in Covelo)
On 06-07-2021 COMMET members responded to a reported illegal trespassing marijuana growing operation on tribal lands which had been reported by the Round Valley Tribe and Mendocino County Code Enforcement.
COMMET was assisted by personnel from the Sheriff's Office Detective Unit and the Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force.
There were four (4) male subjects standing near a section of several marijuana growing structures (hoop houses) who fled on foot upon law enforcement personnel's arrival. These subjects were not apprehended as a result.
Investigators noticed several acres of the tribal land that had been clear cut of trees and a protective sweep of immediate area showed the presence of several firearms.
Investigators obtained a search warrant for the property based upon their observations which was subsequently served on the same day.
COMMET personnel eradicated 5,131 growing marijuana plants, approximately 2,204 pounds of freshly harvested drying marijuana buds, approximately 596 pounds of processed marijuana and approximately 244 pounds of packaged processed marijuana.
COMMET personnel also seized three (3) AR-15 style assault rifles (ghost guns), one (1) semi-automatic handgun and one (1) bolt action .223 caliber rifle.
2021-14159 (29000 block of Albion Ridge Road, 31000 block of Albion Ridge Road and 1000 block of Hoe Road all in Albion)
On 06-09-2021 COMMET members served a search warrant at the listed properties with the assistance of personnel from the Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force, the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (Wardens and Environmental Scientists), the California Department of Food & Agriculture and Mendocino County Code Enforcement.
The warrant was issued as a result of probable cause being established that marijuana was being unlawfully grown on the properties in connection with another property located in Mendocino County (Ukiah Valley area).
COMMET personnel eradicated 12,615 growing marijuana plants, seized one (1) .308 caliber rifle and $5,000.00 in money orders.
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MENDOCINO COUNTY CODE ENFORCEMENT NEWS RELEASE IN REGARDS TO SEARCH WARRANT SERVICE:
Action Date: 06/09/21
Location: Multiple Properties on Albion Ridge Road, Albion
In the second week of June 2021, the Mendocino County Code Enforcement Division participated in a multi-agency investigation regarding non-permitted commercial cannabis cultivation at the listed locations below.
The Code Enforcement investigation confirmed that commercial cannabis cultivation was occurring in non-permitted structures, without a County Cultivation Permit, or State Cultivation License. The commercial cannabis cultivation was criminally eradicated by law enforcement and subsequent Notice of Violations and Administrative Citations were issued by Code Enforcement.
29000 Block of Albion Ridge Road in Albion (two locations):
Notice of Violation issued for non-permitted structures and electrical.
31000 Block of Albion Ridge Road in Albion:
Notice of Violation issued for non-permitted residences, non-permitted commercial metal building, and non-permitted hoop house.
Administrative Citations issued as follows:
1. $520 per day for non-permitted structures used for commercial cannabis cultivation.
2. $1,000 “one time” penalty for violation of the Mendocino County Cannabis Cultivation Ordinance.
3. $2,001,000 (10,005 plants x $200 per plant) “one time” penalty for non-permitted commercial cannabis cultivation.
Code Enforcement intends to take additional action as needed to achieve compliance with the non-permitted structures.
The Code Enforcement Division receives all Cannabis and General Code Violation complaints in the unincorporated areas of the County. Complaints can be made in person at our offices or by visiting our website at: https://www.mendocinocounty.org/government/planning-building-services/code-enforcementto file an online complaint. Cannabis specific complaints can also be filed by calling the Cannabis Complaint Hotline at: (844) 421-WEED(9333).
CATCH OF THE DAY, June 16, 2021
JORDAN CAMPBELL, Willits. Burglary.
JOHN FREULER, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.
RUBEN GARCIA, Ukiah. DUI, suspended license for DUI.
JUAN GONZALEZ-MAGANA, Ukiah. DUI.
ALDEN LARVIE, Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
KIAI LINCOLN, Hoopa/Ukiah. DUI causing bodily injury.
CHRISTANA ROJAS, Fresno/Ukiah. Kidnapping, child neglect, taking vehicle without owner’s permission.
CHRISTINA TORRES, Hopland. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
ELIZABETH YOUNG, Clearlake/Ukiah. Domestic battery.
You’ve got to be kidding, our governor wants to “reward” individuals for doing something every responsible person should have done on their own — get vaccinated (or not; it’s their choice)? To throw out several million dollars to a few “lucky winners” is ludicrous. Why not distribute those millions of dollars to the people who really deserve it — the doctors, nurses, health care workers, emergency responders, volunteers, etc., who put their lives on the line daily for the past 15 months in efforts to combat this pandemic? No, just a dog and pony show in the face of the recall. He probably even submitted a reimbursement for the dinner he had at the French Restaurant (unmasked). Wake up, people.
A LETTER TO THE CLASS OF 2021 – CHOOSE YOUR OWN PATH
by Michelle Hutchins, Mendocino County Superintendent of Schools
In America, high school graduation represents one of the few rights of passage into adulthood.
The trappings of graduation—the cap and gown, the playing of Pomp and Circumstance, the moving of the tassel from right to left—link you to graduates in big cities and small towns from coast to coast. And the school colors of the cap and gown link you to graduates from your school’s past and its future. As you strike out into the world, leaving compulsory education behind you, it is important to celebrate and to choose a path of your own.
In recent memory, no class has had a stranger senior year than you. When the pandemic hit in spring of 2020, many thought you’d all be back on campus by fall, then by winter. As the virus rampaged through our nation and our world, you had to adjust to the reality that school would not return to normal. The great thing about your class is that many of you came to grips with this relatively quickly and made the best of it.
If COVID-19 taught us anything it is that the traditional path is only one of many routes available. As you contemplate your future, I encourage you to remember that. It is easy to get swept up in the expectations of others, to follow a traditional path that seems right mostly because you never really considered any others. Cue the famous poem by Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken.
When I was a young teacher, I had to choose between teaching art history near my home on the East Coast or teaching ceramics on the other side of the country in Humboldt County, California. Art history comes with a nice, intellectual shine. It is a thinking person’s subject, worthy of respect and admiration, I told myself. Yet my heart yearned to teach ceramics, to get my hands dirty and create. And I was drawn by the faculty in this remote region. These people did not wait for others to enable their dreams, but rather held art shows, competitions, and other fund raisers to construct a state-of-the-art ceramics studio at their high school. These teachers were passionate about innovation and entrepreneurship and art, and they were hellbent on instilling those qualities in their students.
So, I gave up everything that was familiar and moved across the country to be mentored by these teachers. I met my husband there and the rest, as they say, is history. I share this not to bore you to distraction but to illustrate that a little risk can create incredible potential for your future.
As you begin on your post-secondary path, imagine what it would feel like if each experience wasn’t judged as a success or failure, but instead as an opportunity to gain knowledge and wisdom, and to move you along on your journey. What if whatever comes your way was meant to be, including not getting what you wanted or expected right away? Sometimes, when life closes a door, it’s because that wasn’t your door. Or, maybe it’s a test to see how dedicated you are to getting through that door one way or another. Maybe college is for you; maybe it isn’t. Maybe career or technical training is a better fit. Maybe it’s the military or working for your family’s business or getting a job so you can afford to move out and pay your own way. All of these bring new experiences, which can help you discover what’s best for you.
When people ask about your plans for the future, do not feel like you’re supposed to know where you’ll be in five or ten years. Truth is, even if you think you know, life’s surprises can take you in a whole different direction. Enjoy today. Seek new experiences. Spend time with people you enjoy. Don’t worry too much about the future. It will unfold as it is meant to.
Lather was thirty years old today,
They took away all of his toys.
His mother sent newspaper clippings to him,
About his old friends who'd stopped being boys.
There was Harwitz E. Green, just turned thirty-three,
His leather chair waits at the bank.
And Seargent Dow Jones, twenty-seven years old,
Commanding his very own tank.
But Lather still finds it a nice thing to do,
To lie about nude in the sand,
Drawing pictures of mountains that look like bumps,
And thrashing the air with his hands.
But wait, oh Lather's productive you know,
He produces the finest of sound,
Putting drumsticks on either side of his nose,
Snorting the best licks in town,
But that's all over...
Lather was thirty years old today,
And Lather came foam from his tongue.
He looked at me eyes wide and plainly said,
Is it true that I'm no longer young?
And the children call him famous,
what the old men call insane,
And sometimes he's so nameless,
That he hardly knows which game to play...
Which words to say...
And I should have told him, "No, you're not old."
And I should have let him go on...smiling...babywide.
— Grace Slick
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Lots of talk coming from #Sacramento about the 'nature-based delusions' that they peddle as 'climate solutions' but the real facts on the ground show that the Newsom Administration is more than happy to let CALFIRE get away with climate science denial and running roughshod over public concerns about their poor management of a critical state asset. Unfortunately, the list of natural resource professionals staying silent about the failures of 'sustainable forestry' and 'markets-based conservation' in the redwood region is far too long. We are facing ecological meltdown and the old boy network is still hammering away at the few big trees left on the landscape.
IS CALIFORNIA STILL FACING AN EVICTION TSUNAMI WHEN THE MORATORIUM ENDS?
California’s eviction moratorium is coming to an end June 30. Since the earliest days of the pandemic, housing analysts have worried about a tsunami of evictions whenever the state lifts protections for renters.
THE WORLD ACCORDING TO SATYAJIT RAY
by Jonah Raskin
In India they’re celebrating the one-hundreth anniversary of the birth of the brilliant Indian filmmaker, Satyajit Ray, who directed 36 films and who is famous in the world of cinema for the trilogy known as The World of Apu. The three films can all be streamed at modest prices and are well worth seeing. They provide a picture of life in India not that long ago. They also furnish a sense of Ray as an artistic director who used the camera to probe the human heart. Call him the Indian Orson Welles. The music by sitar master, Ravi Shankar, adds greatly to the power and the beauty of the trilogy.
Yes, it’s the one-hundrerth anniversary of Ray’s birth, but the Indians are not celebrating the occasion very enthusiastically. The director, who was born in 1921 and who died in 1992 at the age of 70, belongs in large part to an India that Indians want to believe no longer exists. Call it a world of poverty where men, women and children go barefoot, live in what might be described as “hovels,” and subsist on a meager diet of rice. They eat with their hands, not knives, forks and spoons.
I spent two weeks in and around New Delhi a couple of years ago, breathed the terribly polluted air, spent hours stuck in traffic and saw mile after mile of Indians living in cardboard shacks along the sides of roads. I also visited modern Hindu and Moslem universities, met students who spoke English with a British accent and called me “sir” at every possible opportunity, a legacy I assumed of the British Empire and its insistence on hierarchy.
It’s a complicated place. One woman I met attended Christian schools, teaches at a Muslim university and considers herself a Hindu. “It’s a culture,” she told me. She’s also a neo-Marxist. Her complexity is a reflection of the kinds of complexities that Ray explores in his films.
During my visit, in and around New Delhi, I encountered signs of Hindu nationalism and saw nearly everywhere I traveled the picture of Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister, and yet another global “strong man.” Modi seems to have botched the pandemic which has led to the deaths of nearly half-a-million people in the subcontinent.
May 2021 was the worst month for cases and deaths due to COVID-19 in India, which is usually described as “the world’s biggest democracy.” If so, it seems to be rapidly in danger of erasure.
Death is no stranger in the three films that make up The World of Apu, that trace the life and times of one impoverished Indian family, the Rays, and in particular the journey of a young man named Apu. His wife dies in childbirth. The main character also mourns the death of both his mother and his father. Pather Panchali (1955), the first in the series, is bleak. So is the second, Aparajito (1956), and the third, Apu Sansar (1959).
Not surprisingly, the Indian government pressured Ray to provide a happy ending for Pather Panchali. That he would not do, though the second and third films in the trilogy are less bleak than the first. There’s a happy ending of sorts in the last in the series. After years of separation, Apu is reunited with his young son who longs for his father
There is almost nothing overtly political in the trilogy. By my count, the word “caste” is only mentioned once. There’s no talk of Nehru or “partition,” no references to Gandhi, and nothing specific about colonialism, neo-colonialism or post-colonialism. In the World of Apu, India is no longer a visible part of the British Empire, but the lives of the Indians have not improved much with independence, a phenomenon that Franz Fanon observed all over the Third World and commented on in The Wretched of the Earth.
By western standards, the lives of the Ray family are certainly wretched, though father, mother and son also find rare beauty in everyday life and experience moments of joy. In that sense, poverty is not a disaster for them. Camus shared that perspective.“Poverty, first of all, was never a misfortune for me,” he wrote. “It was radiant with sunlight.. I owe it to my family, first of all, who lacked everything and who envied practically nothing.
Satyajit’s own family was relatively well off. The future director went to college, worked in advertising and as a book designer and in 1947 co-founded the Calcutta Film Society. Independence from England brought an uptick in cultural freedom. Ray met the French director, Jean Renoir, who had come to India in the late 1940s to shoot his film, The River.
Renoir encouraged Ray to make movies. In London for six months in 1950 he apparently watched 99 films, including Vittorio De Sica’s The Bicycle Thief (1948), often described as a masterpiece of neo-realism. There are no bicycle thieves in Pather Panchali, but there are very lovable thieves who steal fruit from a neighboring orchard they were forced to sell. Ray’s sympathies are with the thieves, though the wealthy owners of the orchard turn out to be compassionate.
The director isn’t preachy or moralistic, but he clearly wants people to get along, and for the well-off to help those without rupees and material goods.
If critics have had a complaint about Ray’s films it’s usually that they’re slow moving. By Hollywood and Bollywood standards that’s true. Still, they build in intensity. All three films have climactic scenes which are well worth the wait. They focus largely on village life, though Ray expanded his canvas to include Benares and the Ganges. After the death of his wife in childbirth, Apu goes on a pilgrimage that takes him across India and from the sacred to the secular, and underdevelopment to the industrial age.
Trains play a vital role in the trilogy, linking people and places and helping to make India, Indian. That’s also what Ray’s films did for several generations. Apu’s world is far removed from contemporary London, New York, Los Angeles and Mexico City, but his journey has a universal ring. Viewers usually can’t help but empathize with him and share his grief and his joys.
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.
HAS THE MEDIA'S RUSSIAGATE RECKONING FINALLY BEGUN?
by Matt Taibbi
(This is a review of “Spooked,” by Barry Meier)
Glenn Simpson, the former Wall Street Journal reporter turned high-priced “oppo” merchant, didn’t like to think of himself as a private investigator. He preferred to describe what he and his firm, Fusion-GPS, did as “journalism for rent,” an activity a class above spying, because a journalist can’t just say what he or she thinks.
“You have to prove it,” Simpson said. “And that imposes a discipline to the investigative process that people in other fields don’t really absorb… When you’re a spy, you really don’t have to get into a lot of that stuff.”
Spooked, the meticulous new book on private spying by former New York Times reporter Barry Meier, reads like a direct rebuttal to Simpson, the book’s central character. “There is little question that private investigators take on legitimate assignments,” writes Meier at one point. “Still, everyone in the industry knows its secret — that the big money is made not by exposing the truth but by papering it over.”
Meier, a two-time Polk award winner who was also part of a team that won a Pulitzer in 2017, is the first mainstream press figure to break the industry omerta over the reporting failures of Russiagate. That Spooked is an important book can be judged by the nervous reaction to it. Though the Times did publish an excerpt and a review by William Cohan, and the Wall Street Journal commended him for saying “what hardly anyone else in his circle of elite mainstream journalists has had the courage to say,” much of the rest of the business has looked askance. This reveals how much industry discomfort remains about the Steele story, still treated by media critics as a minor fender-bender and not the epic crackup Spooked describes.
Much of the point of Meier’s book is that there can be no such thing as “journalism for rent,” because the mere act of putting information up for sale corrupts the process Simpson claims to love. As Meier put it to me, “People who think of themselves as journalists and rent out those talents are no longer journalists.”
Although Spooked covers other private agencies like Black Cube (hired by Harvey Weinstein to dirty up his accusers) and K2 (the corporate descendant of Kroll Associates, who planted a phony documentarian to investigate health activists), the spine of the book is the story of Glenn Simpson’s Fusion-GPS.
Simpson is the kind of half-absurd, half villainous character who makes for a great character study, and Spooked readers are fortunate he made the mistake of leaving a trail of unflattering stories before very gossipy witnesses across his years in the media business. Meier coldly gathers these tales together in a way that makes for a particularly entertaining read for anyone who’s ever worked in a newsroom (Simpson imploring his “dachsund-beagle mix named Irving” to take a dump on his editors’ desks on his last day at the Journal is just one of many amusing anecdotes).
Simpson had a rocky relationship to the journalism profession when he was in it. On one level, he apparently was well-liked, funny, a prankster. On another, editors were wary, finding him combative and, as Meier writes, “quick to see conspiracies where they didn’t exist.”
One Journal editor became so concerned about the conclusionary leaps that Simpson was capable of making that he asked another journalist on the paper’s staff to double-check Simpson’s reporting. His response to any pushback he got from editors was usually the same: they could go fuck themselves…
As Simpson soldiered on in a business whose ranks were shrinking, he drifted into a world where a thinker prone to “conclusionary leaps” might feel more comfortable, filling his rolodex with the names of private operatives who became his top sources. He did a series of reports about a fierce (if uninteresting) squabble between Kazakh dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev and his former son-in-law and political rival, Rakhat Aliyev, with Aliyev’s lawyers and operatives serving as Simpson’s sources.
Feeling less wanted in the newsroom, and tempted by the money and allure of the private spy world, Simpson made the jump to become an informational Pinkerton, to disastrous effect. Meier emphasizes that for all its flaws, the journalism business at least once imposed some constraints on personalities like Simpson’s, forcing them to stay stuck in the world of evidence. In private spying, those constraints are removed, and a person prone to skipping steps in the proof process can get themselves into some very nasty situations. As Meier put it, “things could go really wrong.”
As the world knows by now, things did go wrong, in what Meier describes as a “a media clusterfuck of epic proportions.”