Cooling Trend | Planets Align | Mendo Vaccinations | Palace Demolition | Albion Engine | Save Jackson | Mailbox Thieves | Water Cuts | Ukiah 1950s | Western Hills | Dung Visit | Lumber Prices | Old Navarro | Winery Insurance | Klondike Bar | Ed Notes | Yesterday's Catch | Jim Thorpe | Maim Difference | Stop Screaming | Midnight Blues | Nerd Reply | Wealth Envy | Card House | Intramural Dispute | Pueblo Denizens | Frack Denials
TEMPERATURES SLOWLY FOLLOW A COOLING TREND through this week, although many interior valleys continue to see triple digit afternoon highs today and Tuesday. Dry weather persists across interior valleys for the foreseeable future while a marine airmass keeps coastal areas seasonably cool, with periods of afternoon sunshine possibly moderating coastal temperatures through this week. (NWS)
AS OF SUNDAY, the “marine layer,” former fog, blanketed the Northcoast from San Francisco to Crescent City. With an extreme heat warning expanded Friday to include the North Bay, a continuing Flex Alert issued by the state’s power grid operator, Governor Gavin Newsom on Saturday signed an order to free up additional energy capacity. Most people knew it was going to be hotter than hot. Cloverdale, which operated a cooling center at the Veterans Memorial Community Building, reached a high of 108, according to Accuweather. But only five people came to take advantage of the air conditioning, magazines, books and games provided by the Sonoma County city. Ukiah reported a high Saturday of 111, breaking a record of 110 degrees set in 2002, said Josh Whisnant, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service station based in Eureka. Santa Rosa’s high temperature was 96, well short of the record of 103 set in 1961. Other area highs recorded by Accuweather included Sebastopol at 90, Petaluma at 91, Rohnert Park at 96, Guerneville at 97, Healdsburg at 102, Sonoma at 95 and Lakeport at 109.
THE VENUS AND MARS CONJUNCTION in the evening sky will be best around July 12 or July 13. The young moon will join them in the western twilight sky.
Venus and Mars orbit the sun on either side of Earth. But, in the July evening sky, Venus outshines Mars by about 200 times. So you might look west after sunset now — and overlook Mars at first. Watch for Mars. It’s in conjunction with Venus this month. The exact time of the conjunction is July 13, 2021, at about 07:00 UTC. At that time, Venus will pass 1/2 degree north of Mars on our sky’s dome, or about one moon-diameter.
Do you have binoculars? Any ordinary binoculars will show Venus and Mars in the same field of view at their closest. Depending on where you live worldwide, Venus and Mars will be closest together in the evening sky on July 12 or July 13.
— Bruce McClure, EarthSky
WTF?! Leafing through my newly arrived AVA today, I was delighted to see that you had printed something that I had submitted recently about the Palestinian/Israeli situation. Soon, however, my joy turned to consternation and befuddlement when my wife asked me about the last paragraph, something about a Chinese dynasty and mercury pills.
Reading it, I soon realized that not only had I not written that paragraph, but that it and the previous four paragraphs were about those ancient Chinese clay soldiers; I don't know who wrote it, but it is utterly unrelated to the subject of my article. Hopefully my friends who read this article in your paper will not conclude that I am entering my senescence and simply blabbering on incoherently about this and that, in a free association manner.
What happened? Were you just a half-dozen column inches short of finishing the paper and so you cut and pasted the first thing you came across at the bottom of my article? Sheesh!
On a different subject, I was surprised and disappointed to read your recent suggestion regarding the Palace Hotel. After all these years of watching the municipal cancer that is the Palace Hotel ruins, which has removed from any possible public utility almost an entire central city block for decades, one would think that anyone who takes any interest in the matter would have long ago realized that the building is NOT ever going to be remodeled, seismic retrofitted or anything else besides being razed to make room for something of public utility, even if it is merely a much needed downtown parking lot, until someone comes up with a better plan.
The editor's suggestion that it be given to someone with the means to remodel it shows a woeful lack of understanding about the basic economics of this building.
I have seen seismic retrofitting done on much beefier brick structures in SF, and believe me, it's never going to happen in Ukiah; the cost of a seismic retrofit alone would be far more than simply razing the structure and building a new, modern, steel framed building. If one were so enamored with the look of the building, you could even recycle the bricks and reproduce the façade to look exactly the way it looks today, but with a brick veneer rather than a lot of unreinforced brick walls which would be a death trap in any kind of decent quake.
The thought that anyone would take up such an offer for this tar baby is pure fantasy; there are so many preservationists who will fight tooth and nail to keep it from ever being torn down, that it guarantees that no productive work can be done there until it is. Far from making an offer to 'remodel' it for simply the worthless building itself, I would assert that if the city offered to pay someone $1 million to take it off their hands and start work on it, they would get no offers for that either. The property has, at this point, prove conclusively that without a demolition permit in hand, its value is a negative one of several million dollars at least. That's why I was so blown away when the highly touted 'public receiver' squandered even more sucker money on coming up with a seismic retrofit plan for it that has as much chance of happening as a pig taking wing!
* * *
ED NOTE: Sorry, John: The busy layout process these electronic days can be chaotic. We should have caught the error.
JACKSON STATE UPDATE
Good News! The trees in the Caspar 500 are still standing. We have been out there every morning from 5am monitoring who comes into the THP. Cal Fire's pause is still in effect.
Now let's make the logging stop in all of our state forest. Those trees are worth more standing. We continue to call for a two-year moratorium on all logging in Jackson State Forest.
If Cal Fire won't stop the logging, the people will. Stay tuned!
This Tuesday at 9:30am representatives of the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians will be doing an archaeological review, touring the Caspar 500 THP with Cal Fire officials as part of their Government to Government consultation with the State of California. Come and help us welcome the Tribal people. Meet Tuesday at 9:30am at the Kiosk which is half a mile from Fern Creek into JDSF on Old Caspar Logging Road. Bring signs.
We are announcing the name of the website for our growing coalition to save Jackson State Forest. The website is http://SaveJackson.org "The online hub for the Coalition to Save Jackson State Forest.” Of course it is in its infancy and will be fleshed out rapidly. The Coyote Valley's contribution should be in by tomorrow. Feel free to suggest additions as you see fit.
Anna Marie Stenberg
MAILBOX THIEVES, a Greenwood Road resident writes: "This is the scene at the corner of Signal & Greenwood this morning.
My brother who drove further down Greenwood this morning says some boxes were even ripped off."
WATER CUTS & ORDINANCE FOOTNOTES
by Jim Shields
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday, July 8, urged residents across the state to voluntarily cut their water use by 15 percent amid worsening conditions along the West Coast.
Surprisingly, Southern California is not yet included in the state’s drought-emergency proclamation.
Keep in mind Newsom has not issued an executive order requiring mandated water cuts. It is an urgent plea, however, and in my opinion he won’t be able to wait much longer before he’s forced to issue an actual order imposing statewide water reductions.
Without a doubt, the governor’s recall election date of Sept. 14 is the major, if not only reason for delaying what is now the inevitable. Newsom is sticking to his plan of forestalling any and all negative political fallout certain to occur if Californians were subjected to additional hardships after enduring 15 months of pandemic-related lockdown orders. But he is in little danger of losing a recall election mainly because there is no announced candidate who stands a chance of replacing him.
Newsom included businesses in his call to slash water use. According to the governor’s office, a 15 percent cut in water use would save 850,000 acre-feet of water — enough to supply more than 1.7 million households for a year.
Newsom said residents have responded to drought conditions before, and he was confident they would take steps again to ease their water use.
He urged residents to limit outdoor watering, use recycled water when possible outdoors, take shorter showers and only run dishwashers and washing machines when they are full.
Newsom added nine more counties to the state’s drought-emergency proclamation on Thursday. The move means 50 of the state’s 58 counties are covered by the proclamation, or about 42 percent of the overall population.
The only counties not covered by the proclamation are Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, San Bernardino, Imperial, Ventura and San Francisco.
The U.S. Drought Monitor this week categorized California’s drought status ranging from Severe Drought to Exceptional Drought, with the latter designation the highest on a 5-tier scale.
CoCo’s Referendum Opinion
The County Counsel’s Office (“CoCo”) this past week issued an opinion regarding the standing of the 10% Cultivation Expansion Referendum sponsored by the Small Is Beautiful Coalition, of which I am co-chairman.
Here’s a summary of County Counsel Christian Curtis’ opinion.
“If a referendum petition targeting only Footnote 6 were to gain enough signatures, there are three possible results as to what a court might do. First, it is possible that a court might conclude that a referendum as to a single footnote is impermissible, and rule that the petition is invalid. Under this scenario, the ordinance would proceed as if the petition was never circulated. Second, it is possible that a court might find that the referendum petition is valid, but that Elections Code section 9145 requires the prior ordinance to be repealed before enacting a modified version. If so, then implementation of the remainder of the ordinance may be delayed for several years while the County undergoes environmental review. Third, it is possible that a Court might determine that while Footnote 6 is suspended and/or repealed, the balance of the ordinance continues as originally enacted. Of these three possibilities, I believe that the first is the most likely, but the lack of any authority directly on point and the significant ambiguity in this area gives me a relatively low level of certainty.”
I’ve purposely deferred for a while addressing CoCo’s legal opinion(s) because you rapidly begin to lose people’s interest with discussions on legal theories, precedent, etc. We’ve been going back and forth exchanging precedent, relevant citations, and dicta on this bogus issue for the past three weeks. His opinion has been modified several times. We anticipated the County would probably attempt this tactic, so we were prepared for it. Yes, there is a Severability Clause in the Ordinance and I’ve cited that fact to refute Curtis’ claim that the 10 percent Rule is not severable. Curtis actually signed off on the format of the Ordinance, including the Severability Clause. As someone who has negotiated hundreds of major and minor Collective Bargaining Agreements, I can tell you we always included Severability Clauses in each and every one, for obvious reasons: You don’t want the entire CBA, or in this case, Ordinance, struck down on constitutional or other legal reasons, such as a referendum.
Here’s the clause:
“Section 14. Severability. — If any section, subsection, sentence, clause, phrase or portion of this ordinance is for any reason held invalid or unconstitutional by a decision of any court of competent jurisdiction, such decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of this ordinance. The Board of Supervisors hereby declares that it would have passed this ordinance and each section, subsection, sentence, clause and phrase thereof, irrespective of the fact that any one or more sections, subsections, sentences, clauses or phrases be declared invalid or unconstitutional.”
While the clause refers to court rulings, it’s important for other reasons because it establishes that the ordinance survives intact despite removal of any section, subsection, sentence, clause, phrase or portion of the ordinance. A referendum is just another part of the legal process where citizens have the right to repeal portions or parts of an ordinance.
Likewise Curtis’ argument that the 10 percent Rule is too “narrow” an issue for a referendum is off-point. The primary purpose and objective of the New Ordinance is cultivation expansion. The only reference to the singularly major foundation of cultivation expansion in the Ordinance is the 38-word sentence tucked away as asterisk 6 in Appendix A, a zoning table.
It’s a footnote, albeit the most important footnote in the entire Ordinance. Without that footnote, by definition, there is no expansion.
That one-sentence footnote could have just as easily been placed in its own stand-alone section of the ordinance, but it wasn’t. The Supervisors decided to make it a footnote. But it doesn’t change the over-arching importance of the only reference in the entire ordinance to expansion.
If the courts were to accept such a distorted argument, all a board of supervisors would have to do is place an unpopular provision like the 10 percent Expansion Rule as a footnote, thereby preventing citizens from exercising their constitutional rights of the referendum.
We’re very confident the courts will not sustain that type of constitutional abuse.
(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, email@example.com, and is also the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live: http://www.kpfn.org.)
DON'T BUILD UP THERE
To the Editor:
This is regarding the development of the Western Hills. In 1949, when I was 14 years old, the Western Hills caught fire. My family lived on West Clay Street, about two-and-a-half blocks from the hills. There were ashes and sparks raining down on everything. Everyone was hosing down their roofs. It was pretty scary. Fortunately the only damage I recall was to the back porch of a home that was at the base of the hills.
The second time they burned, my children were very young. I can only imagine the amount of fuel that must be up there now. I'm guessing that the people considering building up there weren't around to witness those fires.
Building in the Western Hills? Bad idea!
Sherice Vinson, Ukiah
LUMBER PRICES. A reader writes: North Coast readers might find this item about lumber prices interesting:
What The Rise And Fall Of Lumber Prices Tell Us About The Pandemic Economy
It's been a roller-coaster ride for lumber prices over the last year – and it's drawn outsize attention from the aisles of Home Depot to the Federal Reserve.
OLD POSTCARD, NAVARRO RIVER
Circa late 1920s. My best guess regarding the location is approximately a mile east of the Highway 1 bridge.
AS CALIFORNIA WINERIES LOSE INSURANCE, some fear this fire season will be their last
“...some are discovering that the one fallback they’d counted on — insurance in case their properties are damaged or destroyed by flames — is either impossible to get or exorbitantly expensive.”
GENTLEMAN GEORGE HOLLISTER goes deep: “I do not know any full grown adult who is not a racist, and who does not have cultural prejudices. Those that accuse others the loudest of these traits are the worst, and live in denial. Racism and cultural prejudice is inherent to humanity, and is found in all cultures, all societies, and all governments. This has been the case throughout history.”
I THINK it's time to strictly define racism and racists as institutions and people who go out of their way to harm persons of another race, either directly or via some system like a redlining bank. The racist accusation is thrown around way too promiscuously and, as GG points out, too often by people in no moral-ethical position to judge anybody.
THE DA'S PRESSER BEGINS, “The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced this week that Steven Patrick Ryan, 66, died in state prison while serving a state prison sentence in the 2016 shooting death of an unarmed young black man.....” The unarmed young black man, De'Shaun Davis, was not on Ryan's property and he had his hands in the air after Ryan's first shot whose wound he would have survived, but Ryan fired two more times, killing the kid who, incidentally, had moved to Ukiah with some twenty other black kids to play football for Mendocino College. The football program had collapsed leaving the football players far from home and broke.
TWO READERS asked us what Ryan died from in prison, their questions implying hope he'd died a violent death. If Ryan had been murdered the DA's office says that fact would have been reported to them. Ryan was on heavy pain meds from a back injury when he shot De'Shaun Davis so he apparently died from natural causes.
COMMENT LINES are synonymous with misinformation, such as this comment I read this morning on Kym Kemp's freewheeling comment line: “In addition there was/is a small but very active and violent white supremacist population in the Ukiah to Upper Lake area. Several associated groups that form and re-form throughout the years. They’ve been associated/arrested for robbing a brinks truck, counterfeiting, murder, threats, etc. One of them also shot an officer outside of the Ukiah Walmart years ago — just after the LEOs in the area refused to admit they existed. A Black guy I knew with a white wife was also murdered for no reason in front of his wife and child a while ago, threats had been ongoing for months. I also had to leave the area because of death threats as I was dating a black man. I think some of them had to move on after a hate crime task force which included the FBI put some pressure on them. Also, people are now more aware of threats to other people and will act to defend others more readily. And all or most of the Pomo who live in the area really really don’t like them one bit.”
THE BLACK GUY with the white wife? No record I know of that that atrocity occurred locally. The Brinks truck robbery occurred in July of 1984 on Highway 20 not far from the junction with 101. There were six neo-nazis later identified as the perps led by a man named Mathews inspired by the moronic novel, ‘The Turner Diaries.’ They were based in Washington state, not here in the Emerald Triangle. The WalMart shooting was covered extensively in the ava and is linked below.
"Monica’s Walk on the Wild Side" (May 2003)
That shooter, Mr. Neal Beckman, was said to hate everyone without regard to race, religion or creed. His hate was pure!
Cops tell me that young white guys often come home to Mendo after being ganged up in the state prison system where ethnically-based mutual aid societies are the rule but, so far as anyone seems aware, do not pursue the gang life on the outside, at least around here. The Boonville weekly has lots of readers in the state and federal time-out rooms who can tell us more, but race relations on the Northcoast generally seem copacetic.
THE BRINKS GANG, btw, was rounded up after everyone but their leader, Mathews, went out and bought fancy boats and other ostentatious goods that got their neighbors wondering where they suddenly got all the money. Mathews, disciplined to the end, subsequently went down in a shootout with a hundred cops, local and federal. The day of the robbery, one of the bandits, probably Mathews, jumped up on the hood of the Brinks truck from the back of the gang's slowed pick-up and sprayed the bullet-proof windshield of the truck with automatic gun fire behind which the two black Brinks guys were thereby convinced to cooperate but were otherwise unharmed.
CATCH OF THE DAY, July 11, 2021
JACK ALVAREZ, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. (Frequent flyer.)
DEVIN BROOKS, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
JUAN DIAZ-GOMEZ, Corning/Ukiah. DUI.
ROCKY DUMAN, Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs, under influence. (Frequent Flyer)
PEDRO GUTIERREZ, Napa/Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
HOGUIER HERNANDEZ, Nice/Ukiah. DUI.
KYLE MCDANIEL, Clearlake Oaks/Laytonville. DUI-alcohol&drugs, addict driving a vehicle, paraphernalia.
ERIC PETTERSON, Laytonville. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
JEFFRY PONCE, Kelseyville/Ukiah. DUI.
DREW PRICE, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.
EAIN SOMNELL, Elk Grove/Ukiah. Failure to appear.
ALEXANDER YORK, Lakeport/Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs.
ON THIS DAY, July 7th, 1912, competing against the best athletes in the world in the Stockholm Olympics, Jim Thorpe (Sac & Fox) placed first in the broad jump, 200-meter sprint, discus throw and the 1,500 meters, and finished third in the javelin throw to win the gold medal easily in the 5 event Pentathlon.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
This young woman I saw in the store the other day had a farm animal nose ring and was tattooed from head to toe. She also had bizarre bluish hair and fake eyebrows and this huge shelf of fake eyelashes. Yeah I know every generation laughs at the ones behind them, style-wise. We had mullets and puffy shoulder pads and other cheesy stuff, but we didn’t maim our bodies.
I think that’s the difference. Sad to see it, IMHO.
UNCLE BOB'S MIDNIGHT BLUES
I'm goin' down to the corner
Gonna have myself a drink
I'm goin' down to the corner
Gonna have myself a drink
'Cause that shit that we been usin'
It sure confuse my thinking
I'm goin' down to the drugstore
Buy myself a goat
Tie him up in my front yard
For all my so-called friends to see
Ain't nobody gonna look in window and laugh at me
I been up so long
That it looks like down to me
Please don't talk about me when I'm gone
Baby, are you against me too?
Had a great idea the other night
When the blue of the night
Meets the gold of the day
We love you
We love you
We love you
— Randy Newman
I ENVY ANY GUY IN A SILK SUIT
by Tommy Wayne Kramer
Certain people and lots of noisy groups yammer pretty much nonstop about income inequality and the rotten hand everybody else in the USA has been dealt by the rich capitalists.
The fat cats are the One Percenters, the corporate swine who snatch windfall profits, stuff suitcases full of cash into offshore accounts or in bunkers buried in the Rocky Mountains. The rest of us, cold and hungry, have never even been to an offshore island, and we’re so poor we can’t afford a shovel to dig up buried loot in the Rockies.
Is that how it seems to you?
It may be why socialism is enjoying one of its thrice-per-century turns in the spotlight, a result of children filled with rage following a few semesters of college propaganda. Those who say income disparity threatens you, me and the future of Planet Earth are mostly politicians, professors and columnists at the New York Times.
Kids love the idea of socialism because A) it’s simple to understand (take money from people who earn it, give money to people who don’t) and B) it annoys their parents.
It’s mostly envy and resentment that someone else has more which, at bottom, is how us humans be. Musty old gimmicks like socialism will not cure economic imbalances nor envy among neighbors.
THE REALITY: Even if poor, you wallow in luxury compared to all your ancestors and everyone else on the planet. Money aside for the moment, your world is still full of cool bonus stuff like electricity, airplanes, cheap food, internet, dental care, indoor plumbing, high heels, cataract surgery, cigarettes, year-round fresh food, cell phones, microwave ovens, free checking, deodorant, miniskirts and cardiac specialists.
And even in dollars, the day-to-day gap between you and a rich guy is modest to the point of irrelevance. Examples:
Bill Gates wears a $3.2 million Patek Phillipe wristwatch. You wear a $39 Timex. So? You and Bill both watch Netflix and Hulu, read Shakespeare and Twain, visit the same libraries and amusement parks.
Bob Dylan’s kids drank Coca Cola and ate peanut butter sandwiches. So did yours. Both your homes stay 70 degrees all year. You and Bob each have dogs that admire you and wives that don’t.
Jeff Bezos gets ferried about Ukiah in a Bentley that will go 190 mph; you drive a Yugo that can’t do 85. The speed limit on 101 is 65, so it takes you and Jeff the same amount of time (2 1/2 hours) to get to the Oakland Coliseum. No edge to the fat cat.
En route Jeff talks to advisors in LA and Tokyo; he’s plagued by supply chain problems, tungsten shortages and economic uncertainty in France. You drive chatting with your nephew Ollie while listening to Hank Williams on cassette.
Bezos has a luxury box above home plate; your seats are out near the foul pole. Mike Trout hits a long foul and Ollie snags it on the fly. Foul balls keep bouncing off windows of the Bezos suite, disrupting calls to Europe, so he leaves in the third inning.
George Clooney has a stunning wardrobe, but you wouldn’t wear Armani silk suits and Italian loafers unless someone put a gun at your head. You’d take a $500 Hermes necktie and use it to check the oil.
The Obamas haul the girls to Martha’s Vineyard on vacation, but ask your kids if they wouldn't rather go to a cottage on a lake in Michigan, or camping in Montana.
At Disneyland you spot Paris Hilton surrounded by bodyguards in dark suits and sunglasses. You’re surrounded by grandkids and an old pal from high school.
In America poor people are obese, a big improvement over starvation, and have widescreen color TVs, iPhones, $600 sneakers. Rich folk fret over the economy, their businesses and their money.
Your brother-in-law: Corner office, stock options, expense account, a Tesla, second house in Hawaii, laid off yesterday. You: None of the above.
Elon Musk and you are on the same flight to Cleveland. He flies first class, drinks champagne, and Martha Stewart makes his lunch. You’re in economy eating crackers, but you arrive in Cleveland at the exact same time.
He spends three days in conference rooms with lawyers, shareholders and consultants while you stroll Lake Erie beaches with old friends, build a small campfire, drink cheap beer and eat hot dogs. Someone plays a banjo.
Elon Musk, at the fanciest joint in town, dines on sautéed baby penguin and has a Martini. Who’s happier?
Quentin Tarantino has insomnia, Tiger Woods suffers pain everywhere but his earlobes, Jennifer Aniston is lonely, Joe Biden is frightened and confused, and yesterday Oprah Winfrey gained 50 lbs.
The only guy you know with a life better than yours lives in HUD housing, has EBT food stamps, 75 plants in his back yard, gets state unemployment checks for three jobs, two of which he never heard of. He might look for work next April.
Dear Reader: Why wish for what others have? Envy looks good on no one.
Think honestly and you’ll see that what you lack in your life can’t be bought with a dollar. Or a million.
(NOTE: Every group or individual mentioned above, whether rich, poor or in between gets to vote. Tom Hine lives, writes and sweats in Ukiah just like rich people do, and TWK doesn’t because he’s just make-believe.)
by Matt Taibbi
Years ago, Tarfu Report co-host Alex Pareene and I sat down and made a list of The Only Five Movies. The premise was Hollywood had just five bankable scripts, made over and over. They were: Good Looking Vampires, Heroes in Underpants, Dragons n’ Shit, Old People Fucking, and Liam Neeson’s Revenge.
A reporter I knew in the nineties had a similar joke about newspaper editorials. He said there were five op-eds: Crossroads moment, Seismic shift, Reach across the aisle, Cautiously optimistic, and One thing’s for sure, time will tell.
In the eighties and nineties and early 2000s, punditry was so formulaic, you could spot future stars just by scanning the newsroom for the person least inclined to original thought. One glance at David Brooks or Thomas Friedman had editors thinking, kerching!
A few of us were embarrassed to be pulling paychecks for work this crude — even the proudest blowhard cringes after writing “Concerns mount” for the fiftieth time, and I speak from experience there — but the shame was tempered by the fact that journalists as a group tended to be broke, drunk, and able to laugh at themselves.
This is changing. As we saw this week, the intramural disputes in the sandbox we used to call the liberal media have become comically, insanely toxic. The ongoing spat between Cenk Uygur’s The Young Turks and comedian Jimmy Dore — which saw Uygur accusing Aaron Mate of being “paid by the Russians” and finger-flipping co-host Ana Kasparian threatening to out Dore as a sexual harasser — has been freakish to follow, recalling Sinaloa chainsaw videos or the girl-scout-on-girl-scout bar brawl epic in Airplane!
For ages the joke about media beefs was a variation of Sayre’s law about academic politics, i.e. they’re vicious “because the stakes are so low.” This dynamic is different. People are trying to destroy each other. They’re flinging career-ending epithets like traitor, racist and abuser across cyber-space in the sincere hope they stick.
Our target reader used to be the person sipping coffee at a moment like the present, a cool Saturday morning, lazily turning pages as birds chirped outside the window. Our target reader now is a rage addict who read this morning’s news five times over already last night, furiously scrolling through a phone for “receipts” to fire back at some troll on Twitter… Wait, that was me.
We all need a break. Thank God it’s the weekend.
CALGEM DENIES 21 FRACKING PERMIT APPLICATIONS, but fracking is responsible for only 2% of California oil drilling
by Dan Bacher
Sacramento — The California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM), the state’s oil and gas regulatory agency, on Friday announced it has denied all 21 of Aera Energy’s applications for fracking operations in California, citing risks to public health and safety and environmental quality and climate change under regulatory statutes.
“This is the first permit denial of this scale for reasons related to public health and climate,” according to a statement from the Food and Water Watch.
Yet the same agency on June 21 missed yet another deadline to draft public health regulations to protect people living near oil and gas wells. Unlike in other states like North Dakota, Colorado, Texas and Pennsylvania that have at least minimal health and safety setbacks around oil and gas wells, California has zero setbacks.
To put the announcement in context, fracking is responsible for only about 2% of total in-state oil production, according to CalGEM.
In May, Governor Newsom directed CalGEM to come up with a plan to ban new fracking (well stimulation) permits by 2024. Despite increasing pressure from environmental justice, environmental, climate and consumer groups to accelerate the process as California suffers from a record drought and hot weather, the Governor has to date maintained the three-year timeline.
In a statement, Newsom spokesperson Erin Mellon noted that Newsom “does not see a role for fracking” in California’s future:
*The Governor has been clear that we need to do more to combat the climate crisis and create a healthier future. He has also been clear that he does not see a role for fracking in that future. In April, the Governor directed CALGEM to prepare regulations to ban new fracking permits by 2024. And the need to change is only more urgent as California is now experiencing accelerated impacts of climate change from drought to extreme heat events to larger and more intense wildfires. *
*The Governor applauds today’s action by the State Oil and Gas Supervisor to use his discretion under statute to deny 21 pending fracking permits, which will protect public health and safety and environmental quality and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. This is one of many actions the Administration is taking to reduce and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and respond to the climate emergency.” *
Food & Water Watch’s California Director Alexandra Nagy praised CalGEM for denying the Aera permit applications, but noted that the Governor should advise the agency to deny all new oil and gas permits immediately.
*”*CalGEM is following the science and adhering to its regulatory purpose in denying these fracking permits, but Governor Newsom needs to follow through and instruct his agency to deny *all* new oil and gas permits immediately,” stated Nagy. “Frontline communities have just been spared the public health hazards and devastating environmental impact that would have come with the 21 fracking wells under consideration.”
“Unfortunately, CalGEM continues to permit all other oil and gas wells that further harm public health, water and climate. Governor Newsom must instruct CalGEM to come into alignment with their mission statement to protect life and health and deny all new permits now. Incremental steps are not enough to protect Californian communities and our climate, or save our scarce water resources from drilling operations that usurp them, Nagy said.
Likewise, Consumer Watchdog said the denial by CalGEM of 21 Aera Energy fracking permits is a win for public health and the environment, although she would have preferred an immediate ban on all fracking.
“We applaud the Newsom Administration for finally using its discretion to deny Area destructive and dangerous fracking permits,” consumer advocate Liza Tucker said today. “This step is in concert with Governor Newsom’s goal of banning all fracking by 2024, though we believe that a ban across the board should be immediate.”
Tucker said CalGEM took the step under the rubric of SB 4, the state’s first law regulating fracking that passed in 2014. In 2021, CalGem has issued a dozen fracking permits through March 8, the agency said on its website.
In 2020, CalGEM issued 83 fracking permits after an independent review by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, but also denied 57 permit applications. The company receiving the most fracking permits was Aera Energy, followed by Chevron.
In 2019, CalGEM issued approximately 220 fracking permits. ”The number fell steadily after Newsom placed a temporary moratorium on fracking in 2019 after learning the number was skyrocketing on his watch,” said Tucker.
“Newsom had promised to ban fracking when he ran for office, but ultimately punted to the legislature to do that job. Lawmakers introduced legislation but Newsom never actively supported it and it died in its first committee. That bill would have also banned other dangerous forms of oil extraction and established a setback of 2,500 feet between new drilling and residents of communities living with oil drilling operations,” noted Tucker.
Tucker said fracking permit approvals and fracking itself are at their lowest level since SB 4 was enacted, citing reasons including the suppression of demand for oil during the pandemic and an economic reckoning on Wall Street where banks were looking at a lot of oil company debt coming due and questioning oil as a smart investment.
“Denying fracking permits is one step in phasing out oil and gas drilling in California,” Tucker said. “But this is only one step in a managed transition away from oil and gas. We are waiting for CalGEM to issue a long overdue rule setting a boundary of at least 2,500 feet between vulnerable communities and oil drilling operations. Governor Newsom must deliver on the requests he made of CalGEM to issue such a rule to protect the public health and the environment and hold his Oil & Gas Supervisor accountable for repeatedly blowing deadlines. In the meantime, he should put a moratorium on any new drilling permits until the setback is established.”
In a tweet, the Center on Race, Poverty, & the Environment described the denial of 21 fracking permits in the Belridge Oil Field as “good but not enough. We need an immediate moratorium on all permits within 2500 feet of our homes, schools, hospitals, prisons and other sensitive receptors.”
“If CalGEM is denying fracking permits to protect the safety and health of Californians, we need to address the needs of frontline communities and no longer issue ANY permits within at least 2500 feet of sensitive receptors. We can't pick and choose when to listen to science,” tweeted VISION, a coalition of environmental justice groups.
When Newsom on April 23 announced the ban on fracking by 2024, the oil and gas industry slammed the move.
“Once again, Governor Newsom has chosen to ignore science, data and facts to govern by bans, mandates and personal fiat,” according to a statement from Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President & CEO of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create “marine protected areas” in Southern California. “Banning nearly 20% of the energy production in our state will only hurt workers, families and communities in California and turns our energy independence over to foreign suppliers.”
WSPA, the largest and most powerful corporate lobbying organization in California, spent a total of $4,267,181 lobbying state officials in 2020 and $8.8 million in 2019.
Lobbying is just one of the seven methods that Big Oil uses in California to exercise inordinate influence over California regulators. WSPA and Big Oil wield their power in 7 major ways: through (1) lobbying; (2) campaign spending; (3) serving on and putting shills on regulatory panels; (4) creating Astroturf groups; (5) working in collaboration with media; (6) creating alliances with labor unions; and (7) contributing to nonprofit organizations.
For more information, go to: citywatchla.com/index.php/cw/los-angeles/21259-big-oil-spent-10-million-lobbying-california-officials-in-2020