Scattered Thunderstorms | 11 New Cases | Fire Water | Buoy Tender | Capping Cannabis | Adoption Event | Budget Notes | Ancient Tree | Ed Notes | Point Arena Lighthouse | Mendo Water | Baron Buy | Gun Trafficker | Choice Illusions | Yesterday's Catch | Hedy Lamarr | Wretched 60 | Fresh Eggs | Comments | Lookout Tower | Bluebird Lady | All Screwed | Eviction Moratorium | Butter Good | Maddow Fiction
AN UPPER LEVEL LOW drifting off the California coast along with monsoonal moisture will bring scattered thunderstorms to portions of northern California this afternoon. The next interior heat wave is on track heading into the weekend, and probably much of next week. Coastal areas will remain cool with persistent marine layer clouds. (NWS)
11 NEW COVID CASES (since Monday) reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.
AV FIRE CHIEF ANDRES AVILA reports that he and his crews from the seven AV Fire Stations have finished their informal survey of water availability for firefighting this year. Not surprisingly, the creeks and ponds are low and few if any will have any water for heli-drafting or dumping. However, the water storage tanks, including older ones and some large new ones, both private and public, are full. There’s a large tank farm at Hendy Woods, there’s a swimming pool at Rancho Navarro, there’s the new 30k gallons in maybe ten newish tanks at the Philo fire station, there’s the Fairgrounds above-ground tank in Boonville, there are new tanks near the Yorkville station, plus a number of private tanks with fire-compatible fittings that could be used as supplementary water sources. So firefighting in Anderson Valley this year will depend on the type and size of fires — there may be enough water for structure fires, especially on the Valley floor, but fighting wildland fires will probably involve more backfires and firebreaks than water suppression. Plus, of course, the presumed availability of Calfire air and ground resources and where they get their water.
COAST GUARD BUOY TENDER ASPEN recovering sunken entrance buoy at Noyo (photos by Dick Whetstone)
On Tuesday the Board gave direction to staff to bring back a Phased Cap for Cannabis Major Use Permits in Mendo. The plan is a cap of 10 acres and not planted until 2029. This gives businesses that want to scale up a timeline and provides our community with regular check ins to see if code enforcement and permitting are able to regulate cannabis in Mendo. This note and my whole week can be found on my website MaureenMulheren.Com under Updates.
JUNE 23-JULY 3 ADOPTION EVENT at the County Animal Shelters
COUNTY BUDGET NOTES
by Mark Scaramella
From The CEO Report for this week: “Budget Report Update Attached to the CEO Report is a table showcasing the Fiscal Year 2020-21 budget through May 2021 for General Fund Accounts. First item of note there are several departments with lower than expected revenue which is causing them to reflect a deficit at this time. It is expected revenues from State funds and grants will reduce those shortfalls. Secondly three departments, partly due to the wage increases over the last two years, have been able to hire and retain staff. There are funds set aside in the miscellaneous budget unit to cover these costs. Third, as the department heads look to close out the fiscal year, contractor and vendor invoices will need to be reconciled, which may reduce the surplus in some departments. The County would expect to be at 88% of budget but is calculating at 91% with the three major points listed above impacting year end projections.”
According to the groundbreaking Monthly Budget vs. Actual Report by department promised years ago but never delivered until this month in 2021 — we see that the County Counsel’s office is projected to be 143% over budget ($924k budgeted vs. $1.3 million spent for an overrun of almost $400k. The reason offered for the overrun? “Benefits greater than budget.” Aha, right there is a perfect department to consider applying the newly discovered personal responsibility law to. Have the Auditor issue an invoice to County Counsel Christian Curtis demanding that he personally pay the County nearly $400k in budget overruns. Then we’d finally get to see what the legalities are in this particular state government code which says state and local officials should pay out of pocket for budget overruns. In fact, we suspect that the reason for this overrun is not “benefits greater than budget” (how could that be?), but out-of-control outside counsel costs associated with wrongful termination suits and the CEO’s bogus “investigations,” which the Board has been approving on the consent calendar without discussion. If so, County Counsel could simply reply that he’s overrunning because the Board approved outside law firm costs without considering the budget impact, making it the Board’s fault, not his. Bring on the bills! Start holding these people accountable for their budgets! It’s the law!
SHERIFF’S STAFFING & BUDGET
According to the latest County vacancy report, the Sheriff has 114 allocated/funded positions, plus 73 at the Jail. Of the 114 positions, 16 are vacant and 10 are “in recruitment.” Of the 73 jail positions, 17 are vacant and 9 are “in recruitment.” The Sheriff’s department reports 7 “new hires” (since July of 2020), 7 separations (firings, resignations, retirement), and 11 employees on leave (typically medical). At the jail there are only 4 new hires against 9 separations and 2 on leave.
The Sheriff’s Department is listed in the new budget breakdown as being about $620k over his $14.5 million budget (not counting the jail which is running a little under budget). Explanation: “Overtime and extra help greater than budget.” There goes that spendthrift Sheriff wasting money on overtime for murders and emergencies. Make him pay! The jail budget, however, is about $530k under budget. So that leaves Sheriff Kendall personally responsible for only about $90k, this year anyway, according to that draconian state code that the Supes are supposedly ad-hoccing into oblivion. But the CEO and the Supes can nick the Sheriff for lots more next year because, at present, he’s still being told to budget less than he needs for replacement vehicles, overtime, and law enforcement software. (Meanwhile, over at the DA's office, it's fat city, hence the long-running romance between the DA and CEO Angelo.)
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Probation appears to be on track to be way over budget at $2.5 million, $1.1 million over its allotted $1.4 million by the end of June. No explanation is offered. (We do see a lot of “probation revocation” charges in the daily booking log but that should have been budgeted for at the git.) Also, Probation has about twice as many staffers as Juvenile Hall so their budget should have been higher at the beginning of the year.
Here's a startling stat for you — the Juvenile Hall budget (Part of the Probation Department but with its own budget) at almost $2.3 million is much larger than the Probation Department's $1.4 million budget even though Juvenile Hall only handles a dozen or so delinquents at a time. This entire Probation/Juvenile Hall budget situation clearly needs some attention and explanation. (But let’s not send Probation Chief Izen Locatelli a bill just yet. He seems to be trying hard to spend money carefully, despite being a court employee and being saddled with keeping juvenile hall open for a few aspiring criminals.)
The “Cannabis Management” budget (Is “cannabis management” another oxymoron?) at about $420k is under by a few percent even though it has a note saying “Benefits greater than budget,” which as an brief explanation is starting to sound kinda fishy.
Planning and Building is listed as way under budget, running at less than 40% of budget for this fiscal year. The explanation given is “Salaries less than budget,” meaning they are either having trouble filling funded positions or they’re filling positions with much less expensive staffers. Planning and Building has 51 allocated positions with only 8 of them vacant, so we suspect it’s the latter. It could also be at least in part because of the resignation of top-dollar Planning and Building Chief Brent Schultz a few months ago leaving the department back in the hands of interim P&B Director Nash Gonzales. This needs some clarification.
Nevertheless, the inclusion of a department by department monthly budget vs. actual chart in the CEO report — even if it’s just a first attempt with lots of unanswered questions — is a major milestone in Mendocino County history. Unfortunately, there’s no indication, so far, that the Supervisors have any interest in this valuable new tool.
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THAT FLURRY of interest in the Closed Session Property transaction item from last week turns out to have been a nothing-burger.
Tuesday’s original Closed Session agenda item said: “Pursuant to Government Code Section 54956.8- Conference with Real Property Negotiator; Property/Physical Address: 2170 E. Road, Redwood Valley, CA. Parties: County of Mendocino; Agency Negotiator: Carmel J. Angelo and Janelle Rau; Under Negotiation: Price/Terms of Sale.”
That poorly worded closed session agenda item gave the misimpression that this was some kind of secret property acquisition in a remote residential area in Redwood Valley. But no. Board Chair Dan Gjerde emerged from Closed Session on Tuesday to announce:
“The County of Mendocino has agreed to price and terms related to the sale of surplus property located at or near 2170 Road. E in Redwood Valley. Approximately 0.4 of an acre. The county vacated this right-of-way from Road E in Redwood Valley and is selling it to Joe and Amanda Cooper at a selling price of $10,000 and escrow will be opened by the buyer. Staff will present the Board of Supervisors with a future open agenda item including declaring that property as surplus incorporating the final sales agreement and the conditions agreed to in escrow. The history here is that in early 2020 Joe and Amanda Cooper requested the Department of Transportation vacate a road adjacent to the property. On March 2020 the board of supervisors agreed and adopted a resolution declaring a portion of a County Road District 3 on Road E to be vacated as described. So that will be coming back.”
THIS LETTER from Brian Wood appeared in yesterdays's on-line ava:
I tried, with no success, inquiring about the poor condition of Shield's Cemetery by going online and calling the number I found there for the Anderson Valley Cemetery District. I had gone to Shield’s Cemetery earlier today to visit my daughter’s grave, and it appeared there had been no upkeep to the grounds in some time. It is the worst I have seen it in 27 years. The grass is tall and dangerously dry. There are two deer skeletons in the lower area. A couple redwood trees in the lower bottom are dead or dying. Poison oak is spreading all around, including on the grave.
I don’t expect much, but the weeds and poison oak have always been kept under control. Another ongoing problem is the gate you must drive through to get up there is getting harder to open and close.
I assume there is some minimum standard for how the grounds should be kept. Curiously, there used to be a metal sign wired to the fence going in that had the names and a contact number of the Cemetery District. It wasn’t there today. I hope that doesn’t mean the cemetery has been abandoned by the district.
Brian K. Wood, Boonville
WOOD REPORTS: I received an email reply about Shield’s Cemetery this morning from the AV Cemetery Board Chair:
“I have forwarded your message to our cemetery manager. We are working on getting the maintenance updated. It has been hard during the COVID to get work done. The new signs were out to get updated and the shop went out of business and took our signs with it. We are doing our best under the circumstances. Christine Cark, AV Cemetery Board Chairman”
AND I CALLED the cemetery district's manager, Alicia Perez, who is responsible for cemetery maintenance. Alicia said Shields had recently been mown but she's got to wait until the rains come, if they come, to fire up the burn pile. Shields looked pretty good the last time I was up there but it's been a year. As a cemetery, Shields is much more attractive than Evergreen in Boonville, which is desert-like in its newer areas for lack of trees, but Babcock is the most pleasing of all but, I believe, closed to further interments. I plan to have a look at Shields tomorrow (Thursday) and will report back. When I learned that Alicia, whom I've known for many years, was in charge of the cemeteries I was happy with her appointment because I know her as hardworking and conscientious. I don't know if she's paid for full-time, but I know it's got to be a full-time job not only arranging burials but keeping Anderson Valley’s several (5) burial grounds ship-shape.
STEVE ROSENTHAL reminded me this morning that Stan Anderson is not Mendocino County's most prominent Republican or Trumper. Al Kubanis, the Ukiah lawyer, with offices at State and Perkins, and a Trump placard prominent in his window, wins the ubiquity trophy. Congratulations, Al.
TRUMP BUMPERSTICKERS? Pretty scarce on the Northcoast until you get to Crescent City or anywhere east of 101, and I can’t recall even a single Trump bumpersticker around here, although Orange Man pulled 31% of the Mendo vote, while Biden garnered 56.5%, Greens 2%, Gloria LaRiva, a partisan of North Korea, pulled 176 Mendo votes, 5 of which came from the Anderson Valley (!)
OVERALL in Mendo, Trump did well in Deerwood, Ukiah's haute bourgeois suburb east of town, but the Orange Beast did best of all in several Redwood Valley precincts where he won more votes than Biden.
IN ANDERSON VALLEY, Biden racked up 676 votes from deluded libs, while at the even crazier end of the spectrum, Trump got 189 votes in AV, the Greens 14 votes, Libertarians 12. How about you, Mr. Smarty Pants Editor? I felt the Bern to the bitter end, writing him in.
ACCORDING TO THE NY POST, Joe Biden seems to have partly funded a series of sordid nights in 2018 his son Hunter enjoyed with a mercantile woman at Hollywood's Chateau Marmont Hotel, as revealed by text messages and receipts obtained from Hunter's laptop, which he'd forgotten to retrieve from a repair shop.
DURING their several days holed up in the hotel, the two of course had carnal relations, downed lots of vodka, and filmed pornography, whether their own or others, while Hunter smoked crack. At one point Hunter balanced a line of M&Ms on his erect penis; this breakthrough performance also memorialized in files stored on the laptop Hunter abandoned for repairs.
BUT HUNTER apparently overpaid his playmate, “Yanna,” by some $25,000 charged to dad's credit card. She had righteously earned $8,000. When the credit card discrepancy was spotted by the Secret Service, an agent texted Hunter that he'd paid Yanna out of an account tied to his father. “Come on H, this is linked to Celtic's account,” the agent texted, using the Secret Service code name for Joe Biden when he was vice president. “DC is calling me every 10. Let me up or come down. I can't help if you don't let me H.” “I promise be right down. Sorry.” Hunter answers.
EXACTLY HOW do you balance M&M's on an erect penis? I guess Yanna asks, “Hunter, you want what to do what with?” Hunter replies, “Only the yellow ones, Yanna. They'll show up better on film.”
WHEN THE FOX FROTHERS refer to the “Biden Crime Family” they aren't as far off as they usually are. Hunter, distractions with Yanna and his crack pipe notwithstanding, was pulling down $80 grand a week sitting on the board of a Ukranian power company, and who knows how much from the Chinese he was also name-trading with, all of which is merely more signs of the looming apocalypse.
MENDOCINO COUNTY’S ISOLATION MEANS NO WATER RESILIENCE
Water is much more precarious in Mendocino County, which is isolated from state and federal aqueducts. Instead, residents rely on patchy aquifers and water that’s stored in Lake Mendocino and released into the Russian River.
Properties for sale along the oak-lined roads of Redwood Valley boast their water sources in the listings. One $675,000 home touts a water district hook-up and a seasonal spring. Another $699,000 listing flaunts its “elaborately designed 22,000 gallon water storage system.”
Known for its wine, weed and wild coast, Mendocino County was one of the first places where California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a drought emergency.
In other parts of the state, “when there’s a problem, there’s a pipe and there’s a canal, and you can connect one water system to the next,” said Mendocino County Supervisor Glenn McGourty in a June meeting of the county’s drought task force. “We don’t have things like that in Mendocino County, so we’re going to have to be really creative in our solutions.”
This year’s drought is the most dire situation they’ve faced in decades. At the end of May, Lake Mendocino hit a record low of just 40% capacity. Earlier this month, the county faced projections that the reservoir could be dry by the end of the year. In response, the state adopted emergency regulations that could stop 2,400 water right holders from diverting water from the Russian River as early as July 5.
Although Redwood Valley lies just north of Lake Mendocino, its water supply is never guaranteed. Residents rely on sales from a nearby water agency and any surplus left in the reservoir by nearby communities.
But at this point, there’s no surplus. Agricultural connections have been shut off in Redwood Valley and residents are limited to 55 gallons per person per day — enough for just a 22-minute shower and nothing else.
“My dream was to garden,” said Darrell Carpenter, a 61-year-old artist and handyman whose family has lived in Redwood Valley for three generations. Carpenter moved back full time after his partner died six years ago. When the water restrictions and rate changes were announced, he wondered, “Do I sell and move?”
Carpenter was lucky, able to restart an inactive well on his property and keep his garden alive, which he has slowly been converting to native plants and succulents. Still, he worries that his luck and the water will run out as more people stick straws into the ground.
“It might be a false sense of security,” he said.
The water district’s cuts have left the reservation for the Redwood Valley Band of Pomo Indians with nothing to refill its tank for irrigating a community garden and filling its fire truck. Hydrants are still operating, but outdoor water use is banned and rancheria officials are investigating whether they can draw water from an old well.
“We don’t have any access to any other water,” said tribal administrator Mary Camp. “We’re really concerned.”
Farther out along the coast, in the town of Mendocino, residents depend on private wells pumping from rain-fed groundwater stores. The town declared a stage 4 water shortage emergency in May requiring residents to use 40% less water than allotted.
“I’m nervous. I’m definitely nervous,” said Mendocino City Community Services District Superintendent Ryan Rhoades. “I’m sure that some wells will run dry this year, probably more than last year.”
McGourty, the Mendocino County supervisor, blamed the county’s predicament on its limited water storage.
“We’ve been lulled into the idea maybe that we have lots and lots of water. And we do have lots and lots of water. The problem is that we don’t store lots and lots of water,” McGourty told water officials across the region. “We’re in a different world now, because of climate change.”
Ukiah, just ten miles from hard-hit Redwood Valley, is weathering the drought much better because of steps taken after the last dry spell.
Five decades ago, the Doobie Brothers described Ukiah as a land where “mountain streams that rush on by show the fish a jumpin.’” Today the city is facing extremely dry conditions in the Russian River, which typically makes up about half of the supply for its 16,000 residents.
Ukiah will lean more heavily on groundwater, bolstered after the last drought with a state grant that helped pay for three new wells. The city also built a $34 million recycled water plant that pumps out irrigation water, making up a third of its supply.
“The city saw the writing on the wall, and was looking to improve our drought resiliency, before it was cool,” said Sean White, director of water resources for the city of Ukiah.
“It’s kind of a disparate tale. If you live in the city of Ukiah, (the drought) is really not that big of a deal … If you live in some of the adjoining ones, it’s either bad or terrible.”
(Excerpt from CalMatters drought report: calmatters.org/environment/2021/06/california-water-shortage/)
FROM THE U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE: WILLITS RESIDENT TRAFFICKING GUNS
Jonathan M. Cuney, age 38, and a part-time resident of East Greenbush, New York, pled guilty [yesterday] to unlawfully possessing firearms including “ghost guns,” and ammunition, and admitted to maintaining large collections of firearms and ammunition in East Greenbush and Humboldt County, California.
The announcement was made by Acting United States Attorney Antoinette T. Bacon and John B. DeVito, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF).
Cuney pled guilty to unlawfully possessing, as a felon, a Springfield Armory rifle and an FMK Firearms Inc. AR-15-style rifle receiver/frame, and to possessing three unregistered silencers, between September 9, 2019 and November 14, 2019.
Cuney has a prior conviction for unlawful gun trafficking. In December 2015, he pled guilty, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, to transporting and selling firearms with obliterated serial numbers while he was a licensed firearms dealer. He was sentenced to 37 months in prison, and returned to East Greenbush in April 2017 upon his release from prison.
Acting United States Attorney Antoinette T. Bacon stated: “Today’s guilty plea is the result of a cross-country investigation that took a dangerous person off the streets. Jonathan Cuney has a prior conviction for selling untraceable firearms. After his release from prison, he built ghost guns and acquired other firearms, and maintained large caches of firearms and ammunition in New York and California. I commend the ATF for investigating Cuney as he travelled across the United States, and for quickly arresting him and removing this threat to our communities.”
ATF Special Agent in Charge John B. DeVito stated: “Jonathan Cuney’s criminal record makes it abundantly clear that he is a danger to the community. This case is the product of a concerted, collaborative effort across multiple ATF jurisdictions to identify and stop the sale of illegal firearms. We will always be committed to removing armed criminals from our communities who threaten the safety of our citizens.”
In pleading guilty today, Cuney also admitted that from at least August 2018 until November 12, 2019, he purchased firearms parts from several dozen online retailers, and had these items shipped to East Greenbush; Willits, California (where he maintained a residence); and Providence, Rhode Island (where he formerly maintained a legitimate firearms business). Cuney then used these firearms parts to manufacture non-serialized handguns, rifles, and silencers. These firearms are often called “ghost guns” because they do not have serial numbers, making them more difficult for law enforcement to trace.
ATF searched Cuney’s East Greenbush storage unit on November 14, 2019, and found it to contain, among other items:
Two (2) rifles,
One (1) revolver,
Four (4) serialized AR-15-style rifle receivers/frames,
Two (2) completed “ghost guns,”
Five (5) pistol parts kits,
Two (2) completed silencers and enough parts to build more than ten (10) silencers,
An assorted quantity of firearm parts and accessories, of which five (5) are classified as machineguns under federal law, and
3,250 rounds of assorted rifle and pistol ammunition.
Cuney also rented a storage unit in Redway, California. ATF searched this storage unit on November 20, 2019, and found it to contain, among other items:
Two (2) Glock pistols,
Seven (7) additional handguns,
Three (3) rifles,
One (1) shotgun,
Five (5) machinegun conversion kits,
More than ten (10) silencers, and
More than 1,000 rounds of assorted rifle and handgun ammunition.
Today, Cuney also pled guilty to unlawfully possessing, on September 17, 2019, in Columbia, Missouri, several thousand rounds of ammunition that he purchased at a firearms store through a straw purchaser.
He also pled guilty to unlawfully possessing, on November 12, 2019, near Tucson, Arizona, a pistol and a rifle, which were discovered during a traffic stop of a vehicle that Cuney was driving.
Cuney pled guilty to these additional federal charges, in Albany federal court, with the consent of the Acting United States Attorneys for the District of Arizona and the Western District of Missouri, respectively.
Cuney has been in custody since November 12, 2019. He faces up to 10 years in prison, and up to 3 years of post-imprisonment supervised release, when Senior United States District Judge Frederick J. Scullin sentences him on October 19, 2021. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors.
As part of his plea agreement, Cuney also agreed to abandon a variety of firearms, silencers, ammunition, and firearm parts found in both East Greenbush and Redway, California, as well as the following items, all found in Redway: one pair of handcuffs with key; 56 Monadnock disposable single cuffs; and clothing items, patches and badges bearing law enforcement acronyms and insignia, including a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) ball cap, FBI badges, FBI patches, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) patches, and DEA badges.
These cases were investigated by the ATF New York Field Division, with assistance from ATF Special Agents and Task Force Officers in Arizona, California, Missouri, Rhode Island, and Wyoming. The California Highway Patrol also assisted in the investigation.
The New York case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Barnett.
The Arizona case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Serra M. Tsethlikai of the District of Arizona.
The Missouri case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael S. Oliver of the Western District of Missouri.
CATCH OF THE DAY, June 23, 2021
DESTINY ARNOLD, Ukiah. Domestic battery, probation revocation.
LUIS AVALOS-MORALES, San Jose/Ukiah. DUI.
NATHAN DEGURSE, Willits. DUI-alcohol&drugs, controlled substance.
DAVID DORMAN, Ukiah. Protective order violation, probation revocation.
ROYCE FULTON, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
JOHNNY GONZALEZ, Salem, Oregon/Ukiah. DUI, no license.
LEAH HERNANDEZ, Laytonville. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, failure to appear.
MICAH MILES, Seattle, Washington/Ukiah. Brandishing, criminal threats, vandalism, concealed firearm in vehicle with prior, loaded firearm in public.
AUSTIN PATTERSON, Garberville/Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
ZAHIR PECHCERON, Fort Bragg. Trespassing/refusing to leave, probation revocation.
SHAWN POTE, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
JENNIFER SCHMITT-FELIZ, Covelo. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, failure to appear.
DAVID WORTHY, Ukiah. Probation violation.
THE WRETCHED OF THE EARTH AT 60
by Jonah Raskin
H. Rap Brown didn't credit Frantz Fanon in his famed 1967 speech on violence, though he might have. He was in a hurry and cities were burning. Fanon laid the groundwork for Rap in his 1961 book, The Wretched of the Earth, which inspired members of SNCC, plus Black Panthers, Weathermen and more. Near the peak of the Black Power movement, Brown Americanized Fanon and gave him an African-American inflection. "Violence is necessary," he said. He elaborated, "Violence is a part of America’s culture. It is as American as cherry pie. Americans taught the black people to be violent. We will use that violence to rid ourselves of oppression if necessary. We will be free, by any means necessary.” That was the cry I heard everywhere, "By any means necessary." That meant violence if need be.
Published 60 years ago in 1961 The Wretched of the Earth was one of the seminal works of the Sixties, in part because it came with an introduction by the French philosopher, novelist and Third World defender Jean-Paul Sartre. Like the names Marx and Engels, or Malcolm X and Alex Haley—the Black journalist who wrote Malcolm's autobiography, and whose name is on the cover of Malcolm's book—Fanon and Sartre have been linked in the pages of revolutionary history and legend for the last six decades.
The Wretched of the Earth was republished in paperback in 2004. That edition has Sartre's original introduction, plus a new foreword by the Indian scholar Homi K. Bhabha. It's also in a new translation by Richard Philcox. In a fiery essay at the back of the book, Philcox explains how and why he translated some of Fanon's words, like "nègre," which he calls "that word dreaded by all translators of French texts."
Philcox asks, "How relevant is Fanon today?" He thinks that Fanon was "wrong on many points," including the revolutionary role of the peasantry, Pan-Africanism, and what has happened to Algeria, but he also concludes that he is relevant for his analysis of alienation and decolonization. Bhabha is more ambivalent and more abstract than Philcox when it comes to the question of Fanon's message to contemporary readers. Bhabha writes that generations of readers come to Wretched, not for what the author has to say about violence but "for a more obscure reason, armed only with an imperfect sense of obligation toward the ideals they want to serve and the values they seek to preserve."
I first read Fanon in the late 1960s, at about the same time that I saw Gillo Pontecorvo's riveting pseudo-documentary The Battle of Algiers (1966). In part inspired by Fanon, I went into the streets to protest the war in Vietnam and the murder of Black Panthers. I committed acts of violence, like breaking windows and overturning police cars. On one occasion, I was the target of police violence. I was arrested, beaten and tortured, needed stitches in my head as well as time and help from friends to recover and be able to do simple tasks, like getting dressed and undressed.
I had not advanced the revolution, but I felt like I had broken through a barrier and had achieved a kind of personal liberation. When I met French author Jean Genet a few months after my arrest, I asked him what he thought about the bombings by the Weather Underground. He said that Weather bombs were miniscule when compared to the bombs of the U.S. His point was lost on many of my students who didn't think that what the U.S. was doing in Vietnam was violent, but what radicals did when they set off explosions was.
For years I kept thinking about violence and revolution. I carried on a conversation with myself and with others. Once, when novelist Jim Harrison called me and wanted the name of a Sixties revolutionary to include in one of his books I ran through a whole list including Fidel and Che until I arrived at Fanon. "That's it," he said. "Thanks."
Fanon was perfect for Harrison's purposes. A Black man and a French speaker from a French colony in the Caribbean, he was a theorist of revolution and a man of action who had picked up the gun as well as the pen. Like Che, he was a doctor. Like Fidel, he hated Yankee imperialism, and like the early Mao he placed his faith with peasants not urban proletarians. A Marxist and a professional revolutionary, he didn't want to be remembered as a Marxist or to become ossified as a professional revolutionary. Also, he never became the head of a country, or served in the government of a newly liberated nation. Fanon had flaws; he was a romantic, but he was as pure as they come. He died soon after his book was published and when French police raided Paris bookstores and seized copies of Wretched.
Mark Rudd, the SDS leader turned Weatherman turned pacifist, told me during a visit with him in New Mexico that revolutions, like the Algerian, that used violence, were undone by violence. That gave me pause and was food for thought, though Rudd's comment didn't resolve my own issues with violence. I wanted to believe that riots and confrontations with the police in the U.S. had helped to end the war in Vietnam.
Recently, I have turned to the popular idea of nonviolent resistance to authority. What struck me about the protests in the wake of George Floyd's murder were how relatively peaceful they were and how violent the police were and have been and still are. In the era of George Floyd, as we might call it, it was clear that Rap Brown was right when he said "Violence is a part of America’s culture. It is as American as cherry pie." But he was wrong when he argued that the violence that America "had taught black people" would be used to rid ourselves of oppression if necessary."
This spring, I turned to The Wretched of the Earth for reasons of nostalgia. I wanted to reread a book that had played a key part in my own political and intellectual growth, along with Eldridge Cleaver's Soul on Ice, Ho Chi Minh's Prison Diary and some of Sartre's fiction, including the story "The Wall," which introduced me to existentialism. Sartre's introduction to Wretched is still powerful, as when he writes that, "In the colonies, truth displayed its nakedness" and also when he insists, "When the peasant lays hands on a gun, the old myths fade...a fighter's weapon is his humanity."
Sartre derives many of his ideas about violence from Fanon, though Fanon is more nuanced than Sartre, as when he notes that, "The colonized subject is a persecuted man who is forever dreaming of becoming the persecutor." Paulo Freire makes much the same point in Pedagogy of the Oppressed where he notes that when the oppressed becomes the oppressor he often become even more oppressive than his own oppressor. The idea didn't originate with Freire. The novelist Emily Bronte makes much that same observation in her mid-nineteenth-century masterpiece, Wuthering Heights, a kind of meditation on love and tyranny and healing.
Fanon saw that the oppressed often attacked their allies and their friends. Indeed, he didn't shy away from what we'd call "black on black crime." He saw that Algerians "robbed each other, tore each other to pieces, and killed each other." That was part of the nature of colonial societies.
Rereading Wretched I could see that Fanon had paid attention to world historical events for decades before he dictated the book to his wife Jose in the last few months of his life when he was dying of cancer and was being treated in the U.S., a place that he called "That country of lynchers." Rap Brown would have said, "Right on, brother."
Fanon talks a great deal about the Third World and the First World, the gap between the imperial centers and the periphery, but he also pays a lot of attention to the Cold War and its impacts on colonization and decolonization. Fanon takes a global perspective and casts his gaze across large areas of the earth, including Cuba, Kenya, South Africa, Iran and Algeria, and also at the anti-colonial movements in those counties.
He doesn't have anything to say that's illuminating about the Russian or the Chinese revolutions, nor does he have much to say about the roles of women in the colonial world or the parts they play in national liberation movements. That's a flaw. He does talk about the rape of Algerian women by French soldiers and the impacts on the Algerian women and their husbands.
Fanon is prescient about the power, in the colonial world, of statues to European generals and engineers. He has an appealing sense of what sounds like bitterness when he says, "we should place DDT, which destroys parasites, carriers of disease on the same level as Christianity." He also sees paradoxes and contradictions and pinpoints the ways that colonizer and colonized are inextricably connected, though also profoundly alienated from one another. "Europe is literally the creation of the Third World," he says at one point, though he also insists that the colonist "fabricated and continues to fabricate the colonized subject."
In part five of Wretched, he draws on his own experiences as a doctor and as a psychiatrist. He describes the toll that resistance to colonialism took on individual anti-colonialists, including anxiety, insomnia, and obsession with suicide. As Bhabha explains, "It is Fanon's great contribution...to frame his reflections on violence...in terms of the body, dreams, psychic inversions and
Fanon the doctor saw what Fanon the advocate for revolutionary violence pushed to the side: the trauma of the struggle for liberation. As he knew, the end of colonialism would erase some psychological disorders, but the struggle to end it would lead to other disorders, including paranoid delusions. "Any colony tends to become one vast farmyard, one vast concentration camp where the only law is that of the knife," Fanon writes at the end of part five. In 1944, inside a concentration camp, Fanon saw men kill each other for a morsel of bread.
Today, anyone who has grown up in what's called "the inner city," is well aware of Fanon's ideas about violence, crime, criminality and incarceration. They probably have not read Wretched, but the ideas in Wretched have made their way into the inner city. Young men and women growing up black and brown and poor know that they're not inherently sick, neurotic by their nature or innately evil. It's the society itself that's to blame, and it's the society itself that has to change to reach what Fanon called for: the "total liberation that involves every facet of the personality." Thank you, Dr. Fanon.
(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.)
ON LINE COMMENTS OF THE DAY
 Illegal Cannabis growth is coming to a neighborhood near you. With this growth comes security issues, countless cars all hours of the night, terrible stench, incredible use of water during a drought and water contamination. Also, second hand smoke when kids are in the room attacking their developing brain, impaired driving, basic lack if incentive to be productive, and for many a gateway drug. Yahoo we hit the mother load.
 I’m sorry you’ve come to this conclusion. In the real world of cannabis culture there are many gardeners and farmers who are respectful of their neighbors, who take care of the land and the water sources on it and are highly conscious and respectable people. There are also gun toting violent thugs that don’t give a rats a^* about the environment or for the people in their neighborhood or community. I believe they are in the minority. So let’s not lump everybody in the same category. I prefer to see the culture for what my experience has been. Good people being stewards of their land, learning loving from this plant and forwarding that spirit to nourish and grow the community. Sounds hippy dippy. But our intention our tending our love for this sacred plant is real and guess what? It radiatessssssssss out from there. Get it? Haha it’s all about love people.
 Alcohol and tobacco are legal and murderous. The old fascists can’t live without alcohol because their life is one of pain and disease with no cure. The old fascists and the young–many of whom comment here–are in absolute denial as to what is causing their pain unto death. The nation is separated by class and caste. Each sector has its own arguments. But the fact is in any annual cycle the old fascists end up with 90% of the wealth produced by all us peasants. That’s what has to be understood. Loyalists are total dupes. They believe the old fascists aren’t perverts with secret agendas. So we are at a cultural stand still until you realize how indocrinated and duped and hogtied you are by the fascist memes that you have been fed with since birth. You have to be an atheist to see the meaning of religion and patriotism as diseases inducing submission to illegitimate authority. That’s why hippies separated out of the war mongering mainstream:remember only the rich make laws and only the poor end up in prison.
A LIFETIME OF BLUEBIRDS
In the foothills of the Rocky Mountains outside Bozeman, Montana, there’s a winding path known as the Mountain Bluebird Trail. For more than 50 years it’s been a birding location for intellectual curiosity and bluebirds alike. On cool summer mornings, sky-blue Mountain Bluebirds sing from fence lines, with cavity nesting birds bringing food to nestlings in more than 300 wooden nest boxes. Each nesting season, Mary Geis and a small group of volunteers monitored the progress of the cavity nesting birds, including Mountain Bluebirds.
They kept meticulous field records that were submitted to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s old-time North American Nest Record Card Program. This historic information is now being transcribed and digitized as part of the “Nest Quest Go!” project. Now 95 years old, Mary Geis is one of the few living contributors to the Record Card collection, with a life story that encompasses major shifts in society and technology.
Geis discovered her passion for ornithology as a teenager, during afternoon outings with the Natural History Club in her hometown of Oyster River, New Hampshire. After years of study and working in the Northeast, Geis completed her graduate studies at the University of Montana, prompting Geis and her husband Anthony to settled down in Bozeman, where she taught at a public school and became involved with the Sacajawea Audubon Chapter. There she met Louis Moos, the founder of the local bluebird trail. When Mary took over the project from Moos in 1979, the Mountain Bluebird population was just a fraction of what it is today, a testimony to the value of bluebird trails and the birders who care for them.
“I was doing it because I got interested in what was going on,” Mary said, describing an example: “I wanted to know why this bluebird nested here, what destroyed its nest, and what that American Kestrel was doing on the bird house.”
In a 1980 report Geis noted the practical value of the bluebird trail birds, writing: “Besides the pleasure we all get from having the swooping swallows, the flashing bluebirds, and the musical wrens and chickadees around, I am also convinced they have a beneficial effect on insect populations in our area.” In a back-of-the-envelope calculation using some of her nest box data, Mary credited the local Tree Swallows alone with eating about 1,000 pounds of small insects each summer.
In 2009, Mary Geis passed the torch to Lou Ann Harris, who currently runs the Mountain Bluebird Project. Harris described: “When she started taking me on the trail, she taught me everything she knew and nothing fazed her.” The project now manages and monitors 3 separate trails where volunteers help conduct weekly nest checks from April through August. To this day, the volunteers still report all the nest records to Cornell’s NestWatch.
All told, when combining nest records from the Moos, Geis, and Harris eras, the group has amassed more than 50 years of data on Mountain Bluebirds. Mary Geis and her volunteers began collecting this data using a pencil and paper, and now nest monitors enter data by computer or smartphone, and thereafter, scientists can aggregate those records with others across the continent within NestWatch.
What fueled Mary Geis through so many decades of research and teaching? “Intellectual curiosity, I guess,” she said, noting that it helps to be born with a sense of adventure and, perhaps, a bit of patience. When it comes to developing knowledge, she said, “It’s not a matter of time, it’s a matter of wanting to learn.”
To access the original article at the Cornell Lab’s All About Birds website, you can see: allaboutbirds.org/news/meet-mary-geis-the-montana-biologist-who-spent-30-years-studying-mountain-bluebirds/
(Paul Konrad, BirdingWire.com)
WILL EVICTION MORATORIUM BE EXTENDED BEYOND JUNE 30?
by Manuela Tobias
For the third time during the pandemic, California legislators have pushed off a huge, looming question to the last minute: Will the state shield tenants from eviction?
The answer, most likely, is yes, but for how long and under what terms is still up in the air. Several lawmakers told CalMatters a decision could come late this week — only days before current protections are set to expire, after June 30.
Rental assistance is the key here: The state has been doling out $2.6 billion it’s sitting on at a snail’s pace, while figuring out what to do with an additional $2.6 billion from the federal government.
Since Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature passed the last round of eviction protections in late January, the state has distributed only about $50 million of its $1.4 billion pot, and received applications for only about half of that money. While centralized data is unavailable for the cities’ and counties’ $1.2 billion share, there are similar reports of a slow rollout.
Key legislators are concerned about ending eviction protections before the bulk of those dollars have entered the pockets of the Californians who need it most, so they’re mostly hammering out new rules on eligibility and applications to make sure more rent relief gets out quicker.
“It doesn’t make sense to allow evictions, when there are still billions of dollars available that could prevent those very evictions,” said Assemblymember David Chiu, a Democrat from San Francisco who leads the Assembly Housing Committee and helped craft the original eviction moratorium last year.
But the deal-making to extend the eviction moratorium has been slow and secretive. Tenant and landlord groups told CalMatters they have been shut out of negotiations, which are taking place between Assembly and Senate leaders and the governor’s office — similar to the last two rounds of negotiations.
“Policymakers have been pulled in many directions, but I’m hopeful that the right conversations are happening, and we’re going to make progress before June 30,” Chiu said.
A deal could be unveiled as soon as today. Lawmakers will have to wait 72 hours from the time they get a bill on paper before taking a vote and getting something to the governor, which means Thursday is the earliest an extension could be finalized.
Here are some key decision points that will determine the fate of thousands and thousands of California renters:
How long will new protections last?
That question is at the heart of the debate. Tenant advocates want to extend protections for as long as possible, while landlord groups want the opposite.
Brian Augusta, legislative advocate for the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, said the tenant side has asked the state to tie the end date to distribution of all available rental relief funds — which at the current pace would take several months, at least.
“In my mind, it would be a travesty to end these eviction protections before we get every dollar out the door,” Augusta said.
Landlord advocates are concerned about the same issue, but want protections to end by September.
“We’d rather not have an extension at all, but we need to get the money out,” said Debra Carlton, executive vice president of the California Apartment Association. “That’s our number one focus. If that means a short, short-term extension, so be it. But the focus has to be on getting the money out.”
Another point of contention: The association wants the law to protect from eviction only those who have applied and are eligible for funds, while tenant advocates want blanket protections that also cover those who have struggled to learn about and apply for the program.
Augusta, on the tenants’ side, is fearful that sunsetting the protections while the Legislature is out of session — between Sept. 10 and Jan. 3 — would mean no one will be around to reassess and fix the rent relief program.
Another timeline tenant advocates are pushing is to link protections to an improved economy with lower unemployment.
“The concept is: Do people have their jobs back? Because if people don’t have their jobs back, they’re not going to be able to pay rent,” said Shanti Singh, communications and legislative director for Tenants Together, a statewide advocacy coalition. “It’s not rocket science.”
While the state has now reopened and life in California is returning to normal for many, many employees in lower-wage sectors are still out of work. Last month, CalMatters reported California still has the nation’s second-highest unemployment rate and has regained only 48% of jobs lost amid the pandemic.
“While the economy is coming back, there are still millions of struggling families, and we need to make sure that they’re not going to be evicted while there’s still money available to help them,” Chiu said.
How much will rent relief cover?
The most recent round of rent relief allowed landlords to collect aid totaling 80% of unpaid rent through March 2021, as long as they forgave the rest. If a landlord turned down that deal, the tenant could collect 25% of the rent owed and have the rest of the debt relegated to small claims court.
Tenants have argued that the formula gave them the short end of the stick, should landlords choose to turn down the money. The 25% payment guaranteed only that a renter wouldn’t be evicted, but could still saddle them with debt.
In his May budget proposal, which legislators are now hashing out, Newsom called for state dollars to cover the full amount of missed rent — a proposal both the tenant and landlord groups have welcomed.
Newsom also suggested that money could go directly to tenants — as opposed to waiting until landlords accept the aid. That’s something the landlord groups are less than thrilled about.
“We think there will be huge abuse,” said Carlton, from the Apartments Association.
Chiu said the money could only be used to pay rental debt: “The two implications from that are: The landlord would not have to forgive any of that debt, and the tenant would receive coverage for everything that they owe.”
A COURT RULED RACHEL MADDOW’S VIEWERS KNOW SHE’S NOT OFFERING FACTS
by Glenn Greenwald
MSNBC’s top-rated host Rachel Maddow devoted a segment in 2019 to accusing the right-wing cable outlet One America News (OAN) of being a paid propaganda outlet for the Kremlin. Discussing a Daily Beast article which noted that one OAN reporter was a “Russian national” who was simultaneously writing copy for the Russian-owned outlet Sputnik on a freelance contract, Maddow escalated the allegation greatly into a broad claim about OAN’s real identity and purpose: “in this case,” she announced, “the most obsequiously pro-Trump right wing news outlet in America really literally is paid Russian propaganda.”
In response, OAN sued Maddow, MSNBC, and its parent corporation Comcast, Inc. for defamation, alleging that it was demonstrably false that the network, in Maddow’s words, “literally is paid Russian propaganda.” In an oddly overlooked ruling, an Obama-appointed federal judge, Cynthia Bashant, dismissed the lawsuit on the ground that even Maddow’s own audience understands that her show consists of exaggeration, hyperbole, and pure opinion, and therefore would not assume that such outlandish accusations are factually true even when she uses the language of certainty and truth when presenting them (“literally is paid Russian propaganda”).
In concluding that Maddow’s statement would be understood even by her own viewers as non-factual, the judge emphasized that what Maddow does in general is not present news but rather hyperbole and exploitation of actual news to serve her liberal activism....