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A STRONG UPPER LEVEL RIDGE will build across California through the weekend, bringing hot temperatures to the interior, while the coast remains relatively cool. Cooler temperatures and more expansive coastal clouds are expected heading into next week. (NWS)
YESTERDAY'S LOCAL HIGHS: Ukiah 104°; Yorkville 97°; Boonville 92°; Fort Bragg 62°
11 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.
COMPANY KITCHEN, PHILO: We are hiring! Front of house and back of house positions available! Come by to pick up an application any time after 4pm Monday-Saturday. Or message us here for more information
Also appearing at the Company Kitchen: Boonfire, June 19, 8pm
MENDO PROPOSES AN URGENCY ORDINANCE “ESTABLISHING WATER USE REQUIREMENTS FOR DISCRETIONARY CANNABIS AND OTHER PERMITS DURING THE 2021 DROUGHT EMERGENCY”
AVA’s short version:
No new discretionary permits “without (A) considering the anticipated water use of the proposed development and (B) imposing conditions of approval related to limiting or phasing any expansion of water use, as deemed appropriate by the reviewing authority.” Key phrase: “considering the anticipated water use” — i.e., not the source, just the amount “anticipated” by the applicant (who might be inclined to “anticipate” less than he anticipates using and which may or may not have anything to do with the actual use).
WHEREAS, on March 5, 2021, United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) Secretary Tom Vilsack designated 50 of California’s counties, including Mendocino County, as primary natural disaster areas due to a recent drought, which allows for farm operations to be eligible for certain assistance available through the USDA Farm Service Agency; and
WHEREAS, on April 20, 2021, by Resolution No. 21-051, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors declared a local emergency due to drought conditions, which declaration of emergency was subsequently renewed on June 8, 2021, by Resolution No. 21-079; and
WHEREAS, pursuant to Mendocino County Code section 7.10.060, the provisions of Chapter 7.10 – Emergency Water Conservation were reinstated upon the declaration of the drought emergency, which include urging all water uses in the County to reduce water use by twenty percent (20%) and requesting all water supplies to immediately implement their water shortage contingency plans; and
WHEREAS, on April 21, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom proclaimed a state of emergency in Mendocino and Sonoma Counties due to drought conditions in the Russian River Watershed; and
WHEREAS, on May 10, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom proclaimed a state of emergency in forty-one (41) total California counties due to drought conditions, and ordered that the provisions of the April 21, 2021, declaration remained in full force and effect, except as modified; and
WHEREAS, on May 26, 2021, due to drought conditions in the Russian River Watershed, the State Water Resources Control Board notified over 900 junior water rights holders that there is not enough water in the watershed and that diversions must be reduced immediately to safeguard the community’s drinking water availability for the remainder of 2021; and
WHEREAS, in order to conserve water resources during the drought emergency, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors desires to immediately implement certain additional requirements for all discretionary permits and approvals that may be issued by the County, specifically including use permits and administrative permits pursuant to Title 20 of the Mendocino County Code and any discretionary permit related to cannabis cultivation; and
WHEREAS, the immediate implementation of this ordinance is necessary because new projects or developments must be analyzed and subject to additional requirements in light of the drought emergency in order to fully take into consideration water usage during the drought; and
WHEREAS, Government Code section 25131 expressly authorizes the Board of Supervisors to adopt an urgency ordinance immediately upon its introduction.
NOW, THEREFORE, the Board of Supervisors of the County of Mendocino, State of California, ordains as follows:
Discretionary Permit Requirements Regarding Water Usage.
The County and its agents, employees and departments shall not approve any application for subdivision, use permit, variance, or other discretionary entitlement for use which is required in order to comply with the County’s zoning ordinances, specifically including but not limited to discretionary permits for cannabis cultivation, during the term of this ordinance without (A) considering the anticipated water use of the proposed development and (B) imposing conditions of approval related to limiting or phasing any expansion of water use, as deemed appropriate by the reviewing authority.
The authority approving the discretionary entitlement is authorized, as a condition of permit approval, to implement water use restrictions during the term of this ordinance. Such restrictions may include, but are not limited to, a temporary moratorium on any newly permitted activity until such time as the existing drought emergency is terminated by the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors.
* * *
MARK SCARAMELLA NOTES: This tough-sounding Whereas blizzard needs a close reading for what's NOT in it. There are still no quantitative water use restrictions in the Russian River watershed — no cutbacks, reductions, or metering. And although "over 900 junior water rights holders" have been notified by the state "that there is not enough water in the watershed, and that diversions must be reduced immediately," no one has specified how much "reduction" or whether this means a volume reduction, a volume cap, or a percentage reduction. Nor have the many (but unspecified) "senior" water rights holders (most of them in Potter Valley which are pre-WW2/pre-Coyote Dam-Lake Mendocino) been notified of any new restrictions or cutbacks besides the obvious fact that there’s not much water available.
In other words, this "urgency" ordinance, like the previous urgencies is toothless, late and ineffectual.
THE FORT BRAGG HERMIT SPEAKS
During the few days of sunshine we have enjoyed recently the first messenger of approaching Spring appeared once more in our town in the person of our Berry King, Johnie Fredson. This worthy neighbor of ours comes this time with a few garden seeds to dispose of. In the fall he comes with hand-picked fresh berries. He supports himself by his own efforts. Being badly crippled from birth does not discourage his “never say die” spirit. I hope he will meet you so that your patronage will encourage him to carry on independently so that he will not have to starve by the charitable route.
One of our Supervisors whom I have known and held in high esteem for over 36 years astonished me today by refusing to speak to me except to say he did not want to speak to me at all. No explanation for this odd conduct was given. My first reaction was to conclude that it was a queer way to get votes. I advocate a more humane and satisfactory county government especially as it has jurisdiction concerning the poor. My criticisms, if any, are intended to be constructive and I offer remedies and cures for irregularities. I serve my day and generation in this my own way according as I receive inspiration through the onward course of events. I am in no man's pay. I advocate what is just and right and appreciate my constitutional guarantee of the freedom of the press which shall not be abridged.
Now in times past and present when any of this secret word leaks out, some of the alleged investigations have taken place but the investigators are taken in tow by one of the chief operators of things complained of. The distinguished guest is always well dined and enjoys the wonderful hospitality provided being always steered away from any incriminating evidence. Let's have an investigation not headed by any health officer. With sufficient authority I can take you on a tour of either or both of these institutions and expose unknown delinquencies.
At our Windsor lounge there is a very charming lady who provides first-rate piano music in the evening until Verna returns. We are happy to enjoy the enchanting program of this most qualified artist and hope that good health and prosperity will be hers to enjoy indefinitely. To this most gracious lady, Miss Jamie McFadden, goes our wholehearted appreciation.
PUTIN quoting Tolstoy that “There is no happiness in life, only a mirage of it on the horizon,” seems to have upset people whose world view is happy faces and Snoopy captions. The media pounced, denouncing Putin's “dark philosophical outlook.”
PUTIN said he found Biden fully capable, going so far as to say the constant speculation that Biden was non compos was unfair, even sad. Vlad spent an hour with the media post-meeting, getting off the nice piece of manipulation above while Biden, his staff yelling at him to wrap it up, fired off a few cliches then fled, barking at one reporter that the guy never asked a “positive” question.
AMERICA IS BACK. Biden seems to think if he can repeat it often enough we might muddle on through. But America is not back, and won't be back. The country is hopelessly divided and unraveling so fast in so many ways that Biden's cheerleading for unreality is simply further proof that he and his unimpressive team are accelerating the looming chaos.
A CALLER, laughing, began, “You know why Shoemaker got away with ripping off Point Arena? Look at the city council — semi-retired drug dealers, drunks, and a murder suspect. We've got more crooks per capita over here than any town in the county.”
HMMM. The crooks-per-capita standard applied to Mendo is for sure a spirited competition given the high percentage of our citizens engaged in off-the-books enterprise.
SPEAKING OF STATS, from next week’s Mental Health Services Report to the Board of Supervisors:
Unduplicated persons served: 3362 (An impressively large number considering Mendocino County's total population of about 90,000
Crisis Assessments: 2289
Medication Management Services: 983
Redwood Quality Management, aka Mr. and Mrs. Schraeder, a private business, provides these privatized services out of an annual budget/contract of roughly $20 million public dollars.
ARENA COVE SPECIAL MEETING
The Point Arena City Council will hold a special meeting on Thursday June 24 at 6pm to discuss and possibly approve the winning bid for the Arena Cove Parking Lot Rehabilitation project.
The meeting will be streamed and public input taken at: https://zoom.us/j/92924523393
Comments may also be emailed to email@example.com
Paul Andersen, City Manager, Phone: 707-882-2122
KACZOROWSKI DID NOT POO-POO
I read your paper often. I especially enjoy the wonderful history articles and Valley News. I would like to correct some of the opinions that Mr. Calder put forth in relation to my participation during the June 14 Fort Bragg City Council meeting.
Anyone can review the public comments on the Fort Brag City Web page and the entire Fort Bragg City Council meeting that Mr. Calder is referring to and has misquoted is archived for viewing.
As per his article, I want to clarify that I did not “poo-poo” (a term that I did not use) the idea that huge last-minute comments are a problem, nor did I suggest that the public voice and my own is being suppressed.
I thanked the council for the hybrid meeting, one of several in a row where the public can provide comments in person or via Zoom. I mentioned that the acoustics and microphone in City Hall make the sound difficult to hear in that room and I have excellent hearing and I can't imagine what it is like for those who have hearing issues. Council member Tess Albin-Smith weighed in with that from her own experience.
I did say that there was a problem with duplication of files regarding the most recent planning Commission meeting and where 900+ pages were added to the agenda shortly before the Planning Commission meeting in question and that it took a long time for myself and others including the Planning Commission to download those documents.
During the public comment period, where the council was trying to troubleshoot this problem as well as adhere to the Brown Act regarding public comments, I offered a solution. My solution was suggesting that the agenda addendum including public comments, agency reports, applicant documents be compiled into a single pdf and that be assigned a hotlink. I mentioned as an example of other agencies where I download their huge documents that way.
My name is spelled Kaczorowski, and I am not a frequent public commenter. I as member of the public am offered an opportunity to weigh in (as others are) on the thread of issues that come before the City Council or Planning Commission meetings especially when some projects go back and forth between both the Council and the Commission at the direction of the Council. My civic duty as an engaged citizen is to diligently question, inform or discuss without malice. Disagreement is not considered malice.
There were so many positive and informative public comments. I am sorry that Mr. Calder missed out on reporting them.
My Best Regards,
Mary Rose Kaczorowski, M.T.S.- Pacific School of Religion/Graduate Theological Union
* * *
Chris Calder replies: I believe I summarized the portion of her comments I reported on accurately. Ms. K. goes into quite a bit more detail about her “solution” here in her letter, than she did at the meeting. Sorry for the name misspelling.
BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETING AGENDA - JUNE 22ND, 2021
Community Partners, Colleagues, and Interested Parties:
The Board of Supervisors Meeting Agenda for the Tuesday, June 22nd, 2021 meeting is now available on the County website: https://mendocino.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx
Please contact Clerk of the Board at (707) 463-4441 if you have any questions regarding this message.
Mendocino County Board of Supervisors and Executive Office
ON THIS DAY IN MENDOCINO HISTORY…
June 16, 1896 - A tidal wave struck the Mendocino Coast between 2PM and 4PM. The sea rose and fell in mighty waves, 7 feet beyond its normal level. The principal wave extended itself upriver to the Boom on Big River, raising the river by 10 inches, 3.5 miles distant.
The log boom at the mill was in danger, but withstood the onslaught. No damage was done, even though there was a vessel loading under the chute at the Point at the time.
The tidal wave was caused by an 8.5 earthquake off the coast of Japan. The resulting tsunami attained a height of 80 feet there, and instantly swept away all houses and people in its path. Over 27,000 lives were lost in Japan.
Photo: Old Boom with steam scow, Big River, Mendocino County, California, c. 1900. The Old Boom operated between 1858 and 1926, stopping logs that were sent downriver by freshets. The logs would then be stored until they were made into rafts to move to the mill.
(The Kelley House needs your help! Volunteer to be a docent or walking tour guide for a few hours each month.)
THE ART OF FRIENDSHIP: Virtual talk on two photographers' mutual adventures
by Roberta Werdinger
On Thursday, June 24, from 7 to 8:15 p.m., the Grace Hudson Museum will present a virtual program, "Friendship, a Dumpster, & Those Darned Postcards." The program features three presenters--Warner Graves, Ronald May, and Steve Lech--who have contributed to the book "Postcards from Mecca: The California Desert Photographs of Susie Keef Smith and Lula Mae Graves, 1916-1936." The book is the basis for the Museum's current exhibit of the same name, traveled by Exhibit Envoy and documenting the women's remarkable friendship and adventures in the then-sparsely inhabited terrain.
Susie Keef Smith was a childhood survivor of polio who later became the postmistress of the desert town of Mecca. Her cousin and fellow "desert rat"--as denizens of the desert are sometimes called--Lula Mae Graves shucked off her Southern-belle upbringing in Chattanooga for the relative freedom from social mores she found in remote desert communities populated by surveyors, Native peoples, miners, and misfits. The two women acted as counterpoint and companion to the other as they photographed strangers and friends, the splendid desert landscape, and each other: Lula was solemn and quiet, while Susie was outgoing and charismatic. Their mutual respect, as well as their sense of enjoyment and adventure are evident in every photo they took.
Warner Graves III grew up viewing the photos and hearing the stories of his grandmother, Lula Mae, who lived to be 100. She would recount trips done by horse, on foot, or by Model-T Ford, often on dirt roads in inhospitable terrains. The hospitality of the people she met is palpable in her photos, with ad hoc social gatherings a welcome relief in what was otherwise an isolated existence for many. Graves imbibed the spirit of the desert himself; he is now a landscape painter who revisits the same places his grandmother did decades ago.
Ronald May is an archeologist, historian, and environmental management specialist based in San Diego. In 1988, he dived into a dumpster in order to save the photos and other vestiges of the recently deceased Susie Keef Smith's legacy, left there by a county administrator who didn't understand their worth. May then repurchased some of the items at a public auction, cleaned them as best he could, and turned them over to a colleague to preserve them for future use--a fortuitous act which allows our enjoyment of them in the present day.
Steve Lech is a historian and author documenting Riverside County, which encompasses a wide tract of desert territory east of Los Angeles. Lech will be discussing Smith's photography as presented on picture postcards in the light of other postcard photographers of the same region and era. Long before social media, postcards were an enjoyable, lightweight, and inexpensive way of staying in touch with friends, documenting a visit, and appreciating a photo.
The "Postcards from Mecca" exhibition can be viewed in-person at the Grace Hudson Museum through August 22. The Museum is now open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. For more information, please visit the Museum website at www.gracehudsonmuseum.org or call (707) 467-2836. Copies of the book "Postcards from Mecca," edited by Ann Japenga and Warner Graves III, are available for sale at the Museum bookstore.
CATCH OF THE DAY, June 17, 2021
ILEANA AMRULL, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, resisting.
ANDRU CAMPBELL, Ukiah. Protective order violation, community supervision violation.
BHAKTI DILLENBECK, Albion. Public nuisance, trespassing/refusing to leave.
JOE FRANKLIN, Los Banos/Ukiah. Paraphernalia.
DOROTHY GREEN, Ukiah. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, probation revocation.
RICARDO LOPEZ, Redwood Valley. Domestic battery, assault with firearm, unspecified third offense.
JENNIFER MARTIN, Covelo. Parole violation.
ARTEMIO ORTEGA-REYES, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
KYLE PATTEN, Willits. Concealed weapon on person, discharge of firearm in grossly negligent manner, probation revocation.
NICHOLAS REA, Sacramento/Ukiah. Controlled substance while armed with loaded firearm, loaded handgun not registered owner, felon-addict with firearm, paraphernalia.
WHAT'S BEHIND THE HEAT WAVE IN THE AMERICAN WEST?
by Anita Snow
Much of the American West has been blasted with sweltering heat this week as a high pressure dome combines with the worst drought in modern history to launch temperatures into the triple digits, toppling records even before the official start of summer.
Record daily highs were seen this week in parts of Arizona, California, New Mexico, Montana, Wyoming and Utah. Phoenix, which is baking in some of the U.S. West’s hottest weather, was forecast to hit 117 degrees (47 Celsius) Thursday and 116 degrees Friday and Saturday.
“Very dangerous record breaking heat should continue today across the deserts with well above normal highs,” the National Weather Service's Phoenix staff wrote on Facebook. “A very good day to stay indoors.”
The heat comes from a high pressure system over the West, a buckle in the jet stream winds that move across the U.S. and vast swaths of soil sucked dry by a historic drought, said Marvin Percha, a senior meteorologist for the agency in Phoenix.
He and other scientists say the heat wave is unusual because it arrived earlier and is staying longer than in most years.
“June last year, things seemed pretty normal,” noted Park Williams, a University of California, Los Angeles, climate and fire scientist. “The record-breaking heat waves came in August and September.”
But with such an early heat wave this year, “this could be the tip of the iceberg,” Williams said.
A two-decade-long dry spell that some scientists refer to as a “megadrought” has sucked the moisture out of the soil through much of the Western United States. Researchers said in a study published last year in the journal Science that man-made climate change tied to the emission of greenhouse gases can be blamed for about half of the historic drought.
Scientists studying the dry period that began in 2000 looked at a nine-state area from Oregon and Wyoming down through California and New Mexico and found only one other that was slightly larger. That drought started in 1575, a decade after St. Augustine, Florida, was founded and before the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock in 1620.
The hot weather can be tied to the drought drying out the landscape. Normally, some of the sun’s heat evaporates moisture in the soil, but scientists say the Western soil is so dry that instead that energy makes the air even warmer.
“When the soil is wet, heat waves aren't so bad," said Williams, who has calculated that soil in the western half of the nation is the driest it has been since 1895. “But if it's dry, we are under extreme risk.”
Scientists say the wildfires that have erupted in recent days have been fed by the excessive heat across the region. Climate change contributes to the drought conditions and makes trees and shrubs more likely to catch fire.
At least 14 new wildfires broke out this week in Montana and Wyoming as the record heat sparked an early start to the fire season. Firefighters also battled blazes in Arizona and New Mexico.
“From a fire potential standpoint, what is capable this year, it is certainly much more severe than we’ve seen in the past," U.S. Department of Agriculture fire meteorologist Gina Palma said in a climate briefing Thursday.
Palma said the drought-related fire risks were especially pronounced in higher elevations across much of the U.S. West, from the Rocky Mountains down into the Southwest and parts of California.
“You will be seeing very extreme fire behavior, certainly conditions that we would not normally see in June,” she said.
A growing number of scientific studies are concluding that heat waves in some cases can be directly attributed to climate change, said Kristie L. Ebi, a professor at the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the University of Washington.
That means the U.S. West and the rest of the world can expect more extreme heat waves in the future unless officials move to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, Ebi and other scientists say.
A study last month estimated the percent and number of heat deaths each year that can be attributed to human-caused climate change. It included about 200 U.S. cities and found more than 1,100 deaths a year from climate change-caused heat, representing about 35% of all heat deaths in the country.
On average each year, Phoenix has 23 climate-triggered heat deaths, Los Angeles has 21 and Tucson has 13, the study said.
“Climate change is harming us now,” Ebi said. “It’s a future problem, but it’s also a current problem.”
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Generic troll – mostly insults and swears, topic hardly matters. If a narcissistic sociopath, will attempt to take control of the forum where possible.
Ideological troll – only cares about convincing others of their usually discredited and feeble ideology (why else bother). Becomes unglued when presented with indisputable facts.
Paid troll – usually has a set goal, e.g., discredit the forum, defend mainstream propaganda, muddy controversial topics, etc. Easy to spot. Lies, lots of lies, gaslighting (what you’re seeing isn’t happening). Weak argumentation, whole catalog logical of fallacies. Extremely active, multiple handles. Attacks nearly every forum topic with the same zeal.
The Oxford English Dictionary finds the earliest published non-idiomatic use in an 1855 Indiana newspaper article. The earliest known idiomatic use of the phrase is from 1907 in Southern Indiana.
WE SHALL NEVER TAKE CUBA; I imagine that to be very certain… unless indeed after years of unsuccessful police duty there, for that is what we have made ourselves responsible for. But Porto Rico, and even the Philippines… are not so sure. We had supposed ourselves (with all our crudity and barbarity in certain ways) a better nation morally than the rest, safe at home, and without the old savage ambitions, destined to exert great international ambition by throwing our “moral weight” etc. Dreams! Human nature is everywhere the same; and at the least temptation all the old military passions arise and sweep everything before them.
— William James, 1898
KZYX UNIVERSAL PERSPECTIVE, THURSDAY 7PM, Promo, the activist edition…
On 6/16/2021 10:48 AM, Chris Skyhawk wrote (Coast Listserve): Please join host Chris Skyhawk on KZYX/Z Thursday night 6-17 at 7pm.
* * *
Marco McClean here. Chris, as an activist, please demand, of so-called Mendocino County Public Broadcasting Corporation, to be paid for your valuable radio work. A handful of people in the office of KZYX continue to suck out of the station for themselves entirely unearned hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, while you and your fellow airpeople are paid nothing at all but a pat on the head for showing up week after week to do all the work the radio station is there for in the first place.
Just the so-called manager and program director, two neither very qualified nor competent radiopeople, take for themselves all the membership money. KZYX boasts of having 2,000 fifty-dollar-per-year members. 2,000 times fifty is $100,000. The manager and program director take that entire $100,000 a year in direct deposits into their personal bank accounts, as well as getting premium medical and dental and other perquisites. So it's not at all "member supported community radio". With the Corporation for Public Broadcasting grant, and the wine millionaires and real estate and weed and rich heir and heiress money constantly pouring in to buy controlling interest in the place to, among other things, keep lifelong dedicated radiopeople like me out, MCPB Corp. is swimming in money and always has been. KZYX pisses away $600,000 every year under opaque management, changing nothing, taking no chances, innovating no innovations, exposing no perfidy in either government or private spheres, just blandly, middle-of-the-road authoritarianly, hypocritically plodding along, when the real expenses of maintaining the station amount to a small fraction of that. All the electricity to run all the transmitters and light and heat all the studios and keep all the computers and mixing boards and microphones and phones and internet service on all at the same time in all the rented space, and paying for the space too, and paying music publishers' fees and tower fees and surprise repairs -- everything -- comes to well less than $100,000 a year.
(How much less? Try to find out and see how far you get.)
And the CPB grant covers all the paid-for canned crap from thousands of miles away with plenty left over. And they're eligible for the CPB grant because they already are the recipient of the priceless taxpayer gift of a license to broadcast at high power (for about a dollar an hour in electricity) from the top of a mountain.
Every regular airperson at KZYX should demand to be paid a stipend of at least $1000 a year merely as a token of goodwill, if not as a foot in the door or a camel nose in the tent. Counting prep time, for most of you that's considerably less than federal minimum wage, so forward this to the other airpeople and let them know. In the real world what's been going on at KZYX for thirty years is theft of all of your work, and it hurts workers everywhere, not just radio workers, not just creative workers. And if yez are all independently wealthy and you don't need the money any more than KZYX does, you can pass your thousand dollars a year along to anyone you want to, like, say, KNYO*, which needs the money. Just one annual tax-derived CPB grant that KZYX gets essentially for being already rich would entirely support KNYO-LP Fort Bragg for more than ten years. That's a measure of how badly KZYX is run: If it weren't for that yearly six-figure government shot in the arm, KZYX would have gone completely under this year, and last year, and every year going back to the beginning. It's that way with most NPR-colonized stations.
Imagine what would have to change before management at KZYX, or the even more creepily opaque management of NPR, would allow a discussion on the air about /National Public Radio's/ Olympic-size swimming pools full of money, and who and where it all flows from and to. https://knyo.org
IN OTHER, UNRELATED NEWS: My latest dream journal post to Medium: https://tinyurl.com/MarcoDreamsMidMay2021
Marco McClean, firstname.lastname@example.org, https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com
I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR YOU
I've been looking
for a woman
to save my life
Not to beg or to borrow
A woman with
the feeling of
losing once or twice
Who knows how
could it be tomorrow?
I've been waiting for you
And you've been coming to me
For such a long time now
Such a long time now.
I've been waiting for you
And you've been coming to me
For such a long time now
Such a long time now.
— Neil Young
IF DENNIS KUCINICH BECOMES THE MAYOR of Cleveland, It’ll Be a Shock to the System. Again.
by Norman Solomon
Cleveland has been spiraling downward. It’s one of the poorest cities in the country, beset by worsening violent crime, poverty and decaying infrastructure. Now, 42 years after the end of his first term as mayor, Dennis Kucinich is ready for his second.
Kucinich won a race for mayor of Cleveland at age 31 and promptly infuriated the power structure, which could not accept his insistence that the city’s electric utility should remain under public control. Mayor Kucinich challenged and mocked the greed and anti-democratic zeal of the banks that drove the city into bankruptcy when he refused to accede to the corrupt demands that the Municipal Light Plant be sold off. After defeating a recall campaign in 1978, he lost a bid for re-election the next year -- but left an enduring legacy.
Today, the local Center for Public History describes <https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/474> the events this way: “In a political battle with the City Council, Kucinich agreed to ask the voters to decide: would Cleveland sell the Municipal Light Plant, or nearly triple the income tax rate of residents? The election was an overwhelming landslide in the favor of Kucinich and the Municipal Light Plant. Though this only worsened Cleveland’s financial situation and prevented Kucinich’s re-election, the decision helped Cleveland maintain its own municipal light system even to this day.”
As years went by, it became clear even to many of his foes, including corporate media, that Dennis Kucinich was correct -- that he’d been willing to sacrifice his political fortunes for the good of city residents rather than private profits. The reality sunk in that his principled tenacity saved Clevelanders millions of dollars. In 1996, Kucinich won a congressional seat, and he kept being re-elected until 2012, when power brokers in the Ohio legislature gerrymandered him out of Congress.
Now, while he’s well known around the nation, Kucinich is focused laser-like on his city. “My first responsibility is to the people of Cleveland,” he told me, hours before filing his official papers with the board of elections on Wednesday afternoon. Talking about a widespread sense of “desperation” among many in the city, he reeled off grim numbers about “an extraordinary rise in crime.” Many neighborhoods, he said, “are teetering on the brink of disaster.”
To hear Kucinich tell it, crime and poverty are twin evils, and both must be stopped. “There’s no question that crime is the number one concern in Cleveland,” he said. And, “We can’t talk about having a truly peaceful community when so many people are suffering.”
Kucinich went on to discuss his plans for a “civic peace department,” an echo of his tireless advocacy as a Congress member for a Department of Peace in the federal government. Noting that Cleveland’s mayor is in charge of public schools, he spoke of the need for a “peace curriculum.”
While the Kucinich for Mayor campaign revs up, his new book -- titled “The Division of Light and Power” -- is drawing a lot of praise. It’s a stunning page-turner and barnburner that combines the genres of political memoir and real-life narrative thriller -- a luminous book that goes to shadowy places with the resolve of Diogenes holding a lantern high. While offering the inside story of historic events, the book also implicitly takes us to the real time of the present.
The book’s narrative travels through a potentially uplifting yet often debilitating political landscape. The achievements of the book mirror its subject and its author -- truth-telling and courage despite political taboos and illegitimate power -- showing how people from many walks of life can work together to overcome the forces of petty opportunism and corporate greed.
In 2021, Kucinich has returned to municipal politics in an era of mayoral mediocrity across the country. Try to think of the names of big-city mayors who’ve shown determination and ability to implement a truly progressive agenda rather than bend to corporate domination. There aren’t many.
While progressive rhetoric and populist posturing are routine, so is acquiescence to the brutal economic and political forces symbolized by tall steel-and-glass office buildings. Rare bright spots can be found in a few mid-sized cities, such as Jackson, Mississippi (Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba) or Durham, North Carolina (Mayor Steve Schewel).
Such bright spots could widen and grow brighter. In St. Louis a promising new mayor, Tishaura Jones, took office two months ago. In Pittsburgh another progressive-leaning politician, Ed Gainey, won the Democratic primary and is almost certain to be elected mayor in November. Now, in Buffalo, early voting has begun in a race where a strongly progressive mayoral candidate, India Walton <https://indiawalton.com/>, is challenging the incumbent.
If Kucinich can emerge from the September primary and November runoff as Cleveland’s next mayor, City Hall could become a beacon for progressive change in urban America.
I asked what he has concluded from his several decades of work as a city, state and federal elected official. “Government has become an exclusive, closed-loop system,” he replied, “a secret society, which does not grant entry unless, as in my first successful election, you remove the doors. Access to government has become, then, ever more exclusive. Only an enlightened, active citizenry can remove the barriers.”
He added: “Big money and corporate leverage have driven Cleveland politics for the past four decades. City Hall is a Potemkin village. Break through the facade and you see corporate interests which control local government, with no discernible benefit to people who live in the city.”
You can bet that the Kucinich for Mayor campaign <https://kucinich.com/> has already set off alarm bells among economic elites in Cleveland and far beyond. Mayor Kucinich could set an example for what a city government can do to serve everyone instead of just the interests of the wealthy.
Announcing his campaign for mayor earlier this week, Dennis Kucinich spoke <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=olWZBQE_Upw> with forceful yet nuanced eloquence about the city’s grave ills and its possibilities to create a nurturing future for its residents. His speech <https://kucinich.com/dennis-speaks> foreshadowed another epic battle between progressive populism and the forces of cruel corporate greed.
(Norman Solomon is the national director of RootsAction.org and the author of many books including *War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death*. He was a Bernie Sanders delegate from California to the 2016 and 2020 Democratic National Conventions. Solomon is the founder and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.)