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TEMPERATURES WILL WARM into the 90s to low 100s this weekend. In addition, periods of sunshine and mild afternoon conditions are expected along the coast. Otherwise, showers and thunderstorms will be possible next week as monsoon moisture spreads north across the region. (NWS)
19 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon (5 patients in ICU).
PUBLIC OFFICIALS SCRAMBLING FOR SOLUTIONS AMID WATER EMERGENCY ON THE MENDOCINO COAST
by Mary Callahan
Water trucks are becoming almost as common as tourists in the coastal village of Mendocino this summer, as two years of critically low rainfall have taken a toll on the town’s groundwater wells and left public officials scrambling to find new supplies.
The famed community relies on mostly shallow, rain-dependent aquifers, and many of the wells are running low or even dry, forcing residents and business owners to purchase water elsewhere.
Even that has become problematic as their key supplier, the City of Fort Bragg, closed the spigot early this week to safeguard supplies for its own residents.
The outlook for a town dependent on tourism and hospitality is bleak. Some hotels are already charging extra for daily linen replacement and hot tub use, and other businesses are considering portable toilets to preserve potable water.
There’s been talk of shipping water in by barge for delivery to Mendocino and others in need on the southern Mendocino Coast; transporting it by railway from the inland city of Willits on the same track that the Skunk Train uses; and trucking it to the coast from Ukiah in wine tankers.
Either way, Mendocino is expected to be hauling ever-greater amounts of water into town for the foreseeable future, though exactly where it will come from and by what means remains unclear.
“From fires to pandemic to drought,” said Mendocino County Supervisor Ted Williams, “I think drought might be the worst.”
Williams pointed to the need to balance the interests of residents and those of businesses, a tension that was already fraught because of the coronavirus pandemic, when some locals rejected having outsiders in town even though businesses relied on them.
Williams said it’s not realistic to shut businesses to accommodate water rationing needs, particularly because there is no financial assistance of the sort that was available to owners and employees during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak.
With water in short supply throughout California, there are complications at every turn — from logistical to financial, regulatory to political — even assuming that other avenues for water delivery exist.
“The amount that they really need in the big picture is, honestly, very de minimis, to keep people going, but it’s going to give people heartburn,” Ukiah Sewer and Water Director Sean White said. “But finding an alternative? No one’s been finding alternatives.”
State and local elected and agency staffers have been enlisted in the effort, as stakeholders seek both viable solutions and emergency funding sources. There remain some limited water supplies from small rural communities around the county, but each additional mile adds cost and uncertainty to the equation, and everywhere, water providers are asking their own consumers to conserve because of the intensifying drought.
Willits City Manager Brian Bender’s city is considering selling water from a groundwater production facility for transport by the Mendocino Railway to a point near Fort Bragg’s water intake site on the Noyo River, several miles east of town, where it would be piped into the treatment system there.
He cited a number of obstacles, including repairs still needed on Willits’ groundwater facility, the railway’s need to purchase eight, 25,000-gallon tanker cars, unresolved funding questions and the city council’s desire for assurance water haulers would be unable to gouge consumers on the far end.
“It’s an interesting project on paper,” Bender said. “It’s something really interesting to talk about and work through the ramifications. On paper, it’s relatively simple. But once you try to apply it, it's not simple.”
The 170-year-old hamlet of Mendocino has roughly 1,000 full-time residents but about 2,000 daily visitors, said Ryan Rhoades, superintendent of the Mendocino Community Services District.
All of their water needs are supplied by a network of 420 individual wells at various depths. Many of them were hand-dug in the early years of the historic town and are only 35 feet deep or shallower, Rhoades said. But most of the water supply is further underground.
When the community services district was formed, residents and commercial accounts were given water allocations based on their size and use. Some businesses, like hotels and restaurants, already needed more water than their older wells provided in summer and have long supplemented their allocations by trucking water in.
Last year, after the rainfall total reached only half the annual average of 40 inches, wells began running dry, though some were usable for a few months after January and a bit of rain arrived, Rhoades said.
By late spring, well shortages and delayed recovery were being reported again, even though locals have water efficiency so ingrained in them that they easily meet 40% conservation mandates, he said.
Businesses such as hotels face particular challenges meeting the needs and demands of tourists, however, he said, and the result is the increasingly common presence of private water trucks making deliveries to both residents and commercial entities in town.
Most water had been purchased from Fort Bragg, a town of about 7,300 people whose primary water source is the Noyo River. But as the Noyo River stream flow has diminished, problems have arisen during high tide cycles like one that arrived early this week, city Operations Manager Heath Daniels said.
Heavy tides overpower the outgoing river flow, pushing brackish water far enough upstream that it reaches the city’s intake valves 4½ miles up river. The city then must shut down the intake pumps because its equipment can’t handle the added salinity, Daniels said.
The Fort Bragg City Council last month approved spending about $336,000 for a reverse-osmosis desalination treatment system that can be used to process high-salinity water to avoid delays, but it won’t arrive until September, he said.
But in June, when the three primary water haulers who buy from the city would normally truck away about 200,000 gallons, they instead took about 750,000 gallons. The supplies were bound for Mendocino and other areas on the south Mendocino Coast where wells have run dry, officials said.
“I see them driving around the district,” said Williams, the county supervisor, whose district runs from Mendocino, where he lives, south to the Sonoma County line. “I see the trucks filling water tanks, and it doesn’t seem to be just one community. It seems to be fairly distributed.”
The spike in sales, combined with the high tides, prompted Fort Bragg to stop outside sales last Sunday, about six weeks ahead of what was anticipated, accelerating what already was an urgent need for solutions to the coastal shortage.
Already, several commercial businesses in Mendocino are struggling to keep public restrooms open because of the water needed to flush toilets, and there may have to be emergency portable potties and hand-washing stations brought in, Rhoades said.
One of the businesses facing challenges because of a slow well-recovery rate is the Harvest Market, whose second-generation operator, Tim Bosma, said the restrooms account for 20% to 25% of the market’s daily water use.
Bosma said he dreads the notion of asking customers to use portable toilets and tasking employees with servicing them. The store already is “very efficient for a grocery store of our footprint,” and there may be no alternative, he said.
“I think we’re going to have to cross that bridge,” Bosma said. “This is just July, and we still have at least four more months where there’s going to be low well recovery.”
Rhoades said the Community Services District has reached out to the Mendocino School Board, which has two storage tanks with capacity for 110,000 gallons, to see if its members might be willing to sell some well water to the town. But it would have to be a small enough amount to allow for well recovery, especially since the community’s fire hydrants rely on the same source.
He’s also been encouraging homeowner to increase their own individual storage, in part so they can take full delivery of a 750-gallon truckload [sic], if they’re paying for it anyway.
But he said the community really needs to look strategically, long-term toward enhanced resilience.
“But right now,” he said, “the focus is on surviving this year.”
WORSE & WORSE
Navarro River flow today (Thursday, 7/22) stands at 0.16 cubic feet per second, essentially a dribble. This is the worst ever for this date by a country mile; the previous minimum flow recorded for this date in the 70 years of records - in 2014 - was 0.73 CFS.
(via Marshall Newman)
PERSONNEL CHANGES AT AV UNIFIED
- Michael Warych, Superintendent
- Kim Campbell, English Teacher
- Kelley Hiatt, Special Education Instructional Aide
New Hires to the District:
- Louise Simson, Superintendent
- Cymbree Thomas-Swett, Elementary Principal
- Gabrielle Visco, Special Education Teacher
We have other employees that have shifted into different roles. We do have some positions open, so if anyone is interested, have them give us a call! Thank you for your interest!
(AV Unified Presser)
NATIONAL NIGHT OUT: Bainbridge Park In Fort Bragg
by Captain Thomas N. O’Neal, Fort Bragg Police
On Tuesday, August 3rd, the Fort Bragg Police Department will host our annual National Night Out at Bainbridge Park from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live. National Night Out enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community. Furthermore, it provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances. Millions of neighbors take part in National Night Out across thousands of communities from all fifty states, U.S. territories and military bases worldwide on the first Tuesday in August.
The Fort Bragg National Night Out event will feature free food and beverages, activities for kids, bounce houses, free giveaways, and an opportunity to meet with your neighbors and your Police Department staff.
Organizations desiring to host a booth at the event should notify Captain O’Neal via e-mail at email@example.com. The Police Department is additionally seeking volunteers for setup, breakdown, and assisting with the event activities. Interested parties should reach out to Captain O’Neal at the above e-mail address.
HISTORY NOTES (courtesy, the Fort Bragg Advocate)
78 Years Ago, July 28, 1943 — “Comptche News: Allan Tahja arrived home last week, being discharged from active duty. An odd coincidence is the fact that as Allan was being discharged, his brother, Andrew, was being inducted into the Army. I believe Allan was discharged on July 1st, and Andrew entered the armed forces on July 3rd. There is another brother, Arnold, who is training in the Navy.”
* * *
38 Years Ago, July 28, 1983 — “Tony Craver is a 12-year veteran of the county’s sheriff’s office who has previously worked in the North Sector and Ukiah. Craver, age 44, has been on the coast since March and says he “loves it.” Craver said he has been received very well by most individuals and that the other deputies have been equally positive.”
VELMA'S FARM STAND AT FILIGREEN FARM
We are now open all weekend! Open Friday 2-5pm AND Saturday and Sunday 11am-3pm!
Fruit this week includes blueberries, peaches, and plums! We will be offering vegetables including New Girl tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, GREEN BEANS!, Padron peppers, NEW potatoes, lettuce, spring onions, celery, eggplant, chard, beets, turnips, cucumbers, carrots, cabbage, dill, summer squash and more! We will also have fresh flower bouquets, our 2020 olive oil, quince apple butter, dried prunes and raisins. All items are certified biodynamic and delicious! Follow us on Instagram for updates @filigreenfarm or email Annie at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. We accept cash, credit card, check, and EBT/SNAP (Market Match available too!)
AT WEDNESDAY NIGHT’S COMMUNITY SERVICES DISTRICT Board meeting, we asked AV Fire Chief Andres Avila to consider sending a courtesy notice to Cakebread Cellars in Rutherford (Napa) County — owners of the overgrown abandoned nursery at the end of Anderson Valley Way — asking them to do something about the obvious fire hazard at their neglected property. Chief Avila declined saying 1) He didn’t have the necessary authority to enforce the applicable fire code because the District hadn’t adopted that particular section of the fire code, and 2) He didn’t want to point fingers at people, apparently worried that other people might ask for similar notices for other local fire hazards. We argued these are dangerous fire times and that a courtesy notice/request wasn’t pointing fingers and that the District should consider adopting the applicable section of the fire code — we thought they already had — since there’s no other effective avenue besides the local fire department to abate local fire hazards. (Calfire is nearly impossible to reach and so is the County, both of these options were mentioned by the Chief but without any specific contact person or complaint process.) Board Chair Valerie Hanelt noted the Chief’s “hesitancy” to and left it at that.
ON THE OTHER HAND, the District’s letter to the Sheriff, CHP and Caltrans last month about dangerous speeding through Boonville and the rest of Anderson Valley elicited positive responses from all three agencies.
SHERIFF MATT KENDALL replied at some length with a three-page letter, agreeing that there’s a problem with heedless driving in the Anderson Valley, mentioning that he has personally conducted traffic stops in the Valley. He also said he’d urged CHP to increase their presence in the Valley. Kendall added that he’s having trouble maintaining staffing levels with fewer qualified deputy candidates available, although there’s at least one young candidate from Boonville who will begin training soon. A pending “rural communities grant” may also help with manpower shortages.
CHP Capatin C.R. Leonard also replied to The Valley's traffic concerns, saying he had spoken with locals about the problem and has asked his officers to increase their presence in Boonville and the Valley generally, especially during high traffic periods.
AND CALTRANS said they’d conduct a signage review in the Valley on Highway 128 “in the coming weeks.”
ANDERSON VALLEY ENGINE 7471, with local volunteer firefighters Ben Glaus and Abraham Sanchez from Anderson Valley, and Richard Hunt, a Comptche volunteer firefighter, was dispatched on July 11 to help fight the rapidly growing “Dixie” fire in the Sierras northeast of Chico. Chief Avila said that there are financial benefits to the District (Calfire pays for such assignments, personnel and equipment), along with experience gained and assistance provided, but that he only dispatches local strike teams when they don’t detract from the District’s own firefighting capacity.
MENDOCINO COUNTY SEEKS APPLICATIONS FOR COMMUNITY-BASED ADVISORY REDISTRICTING COMMISSION
This week, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors voted to create a five member Community-based Advisory Redistricting Commission (ARC). In addition to facilitating and seeking public input from the residents of Mendocino County, the ARC will advise and assist the Board of Supervisors with redrawing the supervisorial district boundaries. The Board of Supervisors invites applications from residents of Mendocino County who are interested in serving on the five member ARC and are willing to commit to attending several public workshops and Board of Supervisors meetings beginning in mid-August through mid-December, 2021.
Every ten years, local governments use new official census data to redraw their district lines to reflect how local populations have changed. The County is informed that final census data will not be received until approximately September 24, 2021, with the State of California needing an additional month to adjust the data for all jurisdictions to account for incarcerated persons by the County of their last known home address. In spite of these unusual delays in final census data, Elections Code still requires that the boundaries of the supervisorial districts shall be adopted by the Board of Supervisors no later than December 15, 2021.
In adopting updated supervisorial districts, the ARC and Board must comply with many requirements. In summary, districts must be substantially equal populations per district and comply with the Federal Voting Rights Act. Newly revised State law criteria requires the following in order of priority:
1. Geographically contiguous districts (i.e., the County may not draw two districts that only join at a single point).
2. Geographic integrity of local neighborhoods or communities shall be respected in a manner that minimizes its division (i.e., a population that shares common social or economic interests that should be included within a single district for purposes of its effective and fair representation).
3. Geographic integrity of a city or town shall be respected in a manner that minimizes its division.
4. Easily identifiable boundaries that follow natural or artificial barriers (rivers, streets, highways, rail lines, etc.), and streets.
5. Lines shall be drawn to encourage geographic compactness (i.e., not bypassing one group of people to reach another group of people).
All appointees to the ARC must be residents of Mendocino County and may not be an elected official, family member of an elected official, or paid campaign staff of an elected official. Interested applicants are invited to apply online at www.mendocinocounty.org/redistricting or request a hard copy by contacting (707) 463-4441. Applications are due no later than August 6, 2021. Applications can be submitted by emailing email@example.com or by U.S. Mail to:
Mendocino County Executive Office
501 Low Gap Rd., Rm. 1010
Ukiah, CA 95482
The Board of Supervisors will make appointments on or after August 17, 2021.
NOTE: Please be aware that all information provided in the Appointment of Interest Application is subject to public disclosure.
To receive Redistricting information, please go to: mendocinocounty.org/community/enotification
ATTENTION BEE PEOPLE
Free Workshop This Saturday, July 24 11am-1pm
Gardening in Zone 9b with Noyo Food Forest co-founder Katrina Aschenbrenner.
You will learn more about seed starting, transplanting, crop variety, and garden prep for harvesting your own edible garden.
Free to Attend — Limited Capacity — RSVP Required — Call 707-357-7680 or email Learn@NoyoFoodForest.org
Location: Noyo Food Forest 300 Dana Street (on FBHS campus)
This is the 2nd part of 3 part series. Not necessary to have attended Part 1. Third workshop on Winter Gardening is scheduled for Saturday, August 28 11am-1pm, followed by the Winter Garden Plant Sale.
THE TOWN OF MENDOCINO had a Race Track in the 1920s!
In 1921, the Farmers & Apple Growers’ Association constructed an automobile race track on the Heeser Ranch property at the western edge of town.
The Association was interested in expanding their annual Apple Fair’s horse racing, rodeo, and sporting events to include the new sport of auto racing.
The attraction featured a three-quarter-mile oval-shaped track and was located on the Mendocino Headlands, extending from about Goat Island to the site of the Mendocino City Community Services District plant today. A grand stand for spectators was located near Heeser Drive on the eastern side of the north-south oriented track.
The October 1921 Apple Fair hosted the first auto races held on the Mendocino Coast, and attendance at the Fair was the largest ever. Auto races quickly became very popular, and additional events were held at the track complex. Hundreds of residents would pay to attend the racing events where Chevrolets, Buicks, and Fords would race around the track to win prize money.
Although we don’t know exactly when the race track closed, we do know why: The crowded bleachers collapsed during a race, and many people were injured. Auggie Heeser closed down the track permanently following the accident.
Photo: The Mendocino Racetrack located on the Heeser Ranch, c. 1922. (Kelley House Collection, Kelley House Photographs)
(The Kelley House needs your help! Volunteer to be a docent or walking tour guide for a few hours each month: kelleyhousemuseum.org/volunteers/)
MY BROTHER’S KEEPER
by Marilyn Davin
Mental illness, with all its many ripples as it winds its destructive way through our families and communities, is a regular and growing topic in Mendocino County, including within the pages of this newspaper. Less written about, perhaps even less considered, are the effects of the disturbed person on the “normal” sibling who is caught frequently in the crosshairs of the unsettling rolling drama that is the afflicted person as he or she destabilizes everybody in the family. The problem is commonly seen as one between the mentally ill person and the parents — who are either legally in charge in the case of a youthful dependent or in charge by choice because, sadly, there’s just no one or nowhere else.
We need look no further than our own extended families or just down the street to see the struggling, befuddled parents of mentally ill adult children still bunking with mom and dad, though it’s increasingly just mom who picks up the yoke of this dependency and carries it as best she can into an uncertain and largely unsupported future.
I’m one of those siblings. It’s not that I don’t love my brother, two years younger than I am. It’s just that the chaos and catastrophes of his life sucked the air out of everything else. Worst, since a sibling has a less primal connection than a parent, there’s the guilt of running the compassion well dry while the parents are wringing their hands in despair and running themselves ragged between emergency rooms, courts, lawyers, and jails. Not every person with a mental illness ends up on this illicit path, of course, but that’s the path my brother took, liberally paved with drugs and the free-and-easy Bay Area 60s lifestyle that encouraged their copious use – though the fact that California laws still went after users back in those days accounts for the courts, lawyers, and jails portion of the equation of my brother’s life.
His psychiatrists for decades have pondered the foundational but ultimately unanswerable question: Did being stoned since the age of 12 either cause or hasten my brother’s mental decline?
After all, others who spent their teen years in similar pharmaceutical fogs somehow managed to come out on the other side. One of his stonier stoner buddies from back then became a corporate VP, which presumably required that he at least show up regularly at the office with some degree of mental acuity. Liberal parents like ours often viewed being stoned as a passing phase – remember when weed was supposed to be so much healthier than booze? The irony of that bit of ‘60s wisdom was that the majority of my brother’s hospitalizations were preceded by several days of cozying up to half-gallons of vodka after the funds for the sexier drugs ran out.
So as the one-and-only sib in this Tolstoyan unhappy family, what was daily life like? It was all about the problem kid. Did he make it to school today? Maybe we should check. (They barely glanced at my straight-A report cards.) Did we do the right thing in letting him paint his room black? (He’s creative and just needs to express himself.) Maybe, at 15, we shouldn’t let him have his girlfriends stay overnight, every night. (I often took them breakfast in bed – remember Make Love Not War?) When I went out on a date my dad stood waiting for me on the inside of the front door, a reminder not to tarry, no boyfriends allowed in the house. My brother even got our mom stoned. One night when she got the munchies she gorged on Campbell’s tomato soup, which she would never be able to face again for the rest of her life.
As his daily drug use stretched into his later teens, my brother’s obsessive-compulsive disorder intensified. The chicken-and-egg debate continued unabated while, by his late teens, he had a hard time leaving the house as he checked and rechecked whether he had forgotten anything.
His OCD treatment now became my mom’s full-time job. She even flew up to British Columbia to buy a drug not yet approved by the FDA here in the U.S.
We all have blind spots when it comes to our children, but in my mother’s case you could have driven a semi through hers for my brother. The older he got, the worse his problems became. For instance, when against all odds he managed to graduate from high school (where he was dropping acid and having sex with a couple of his teachers), my parents bought him a nearby condo. He didn’t work, of course, so I took him a box of food as a housewarming gift. He was and is a strict organic-only vegetarian.
I hadn’t even set the box down on his kitchen table before he began pestering me with a familiar whiney refrain. “Sister Darling, I don’t need this, I need money. Take this back and give me money, instead.” I left the food but wasn’t stupid enough to give him money, despite his increasingly frantic entreaties as he followed me out to my car. This was just one of thousands of examples of my brother’s first “independent living” phase.
Much worse, my parents moved out of their house around this time after it was burglarized. My mom said she didn’t feel safe there anymore. It wasn’t until almost 40 years later, at my high school reunion, where a conscience-stricken buddy of my brother’s back in the day came up to me and confessed that he and my brother were the ones who robbed my parents. I thought I’d seen everything by this time but was profoundly shocked by this bit of ancient family history. My brother actually watched my parents despair over the safety of their neighborhood as they reluctantly moved away knowing all the while that he was the source of their pain and not fessing up to it!
Then again, if we had known about it and I had expressed my disgust with my brother, my mother would have once again turned the tables on me. “Why aren’t you more sympathetic to your brother?” she would ask, bristling with fury. “Have you no milk of human kindness?”
Next: My Brother as an Adult.
WORSE THAN ODD that everyone seems to agree that the global weather changes represent death and dislocation for millions of people but, at the leadership levels, no signs of urgency let alone practical measures introduced to do something about it, assuming, short of dictatorial edicts to, say, park your car forever, anything can be done about it.
WELL, MR. EDITOR, would you park your car forever? Gladly.
TINY LOCAL EXAMPLE of transport's step backwards: The Greyhound Bus used to drive round trip every day out of Fort Bragg, through Boonville and all the towns south to San Francisco. And another bus made the same trip north to Fort Bragg. When the bus was booked up, the 'Hound put on another bus. Took about three and a half hours to get to the city out of Boonville, and a one-way ticket was under ten bucks. The ’Hound was succeeded by a van service operated by a Christian Arab family originally from Lebanon. I dimly recall that Mendolib's heavily subsidized bus system put the Arabs out of business. But we need a global game of Mother May I. Remember that one? One step forward, three backwards. We need to go backwards. We need to unravel industrial civ before it kills us. More stuff for more people forever has not worked out.
ALL THE BASEBALL talk yesterday reminded me that all the towns up and down the Northcoast fielded semi-pro baseball teams. The last time I was in Laytonville, the remnants of that town's spiffy little ballpark were still visible. The State Hospital at Talmage sponsored a team composed, I believe, of inmates and staff. Boonville had a town team. San Quentin had a very strong team led by a former major league pitcher. The Fort Bragg mill hired ballplaying ringers during the summer months, ex-pros and hotshot college kids. And of course, the town produced some great ballplayers, including the memorably vivid Vern Piver who played pro ball in the high minors pre-expansion and would have been been a major league catcher if he'd been a few years younger. Vern himself told me that John DeSilva was the best athlete ever out of Fort Bragg. He played in the major and minor leagues as a pitcher from 1989-2004.
ASK MR. WIZARD, a reader writes: if you've got a moment, I'm interested in your capsule take on Cuba. Was Castro an idealistic revolutionary who tried to bring peace, security, justice, and prosperity to his country with principles of a government, however you want to term them, that dealt with his people's best interests, or did he turn into a murderous thug due to ugly political/economic realities that resulted in the Bay of Pigs and the Missile Crisis and contemporary headlines? I know it's a simple-minded question because I know the truth of things, or maybe better phrased as simply reality, is often a vexing kaleidoscope that defies understanding. Wilson's ‘To The Finland Station’ wasn't an easy read, but the historical sweep didn't end up very pretty to say the least. Wot you tink?”
I THINK CASTRO, as a Marxist-Leninist, took Marx's sociological finding that capital works to the stark disadvantage of most people and added Lenin's how-to-make-a-revolution via me and my friends. We will run things for you slobs because you're too goddam dumb and irresponsible to do it yourself. Lenin, like Castro, was a genius whose older brother, incidentally, was hanged by the Czar, major incentive for Vlad to get revenge. Lenin happened to have several other geniuses in his revolutionary cadre who included Trotsky, without whose brilliance the USSR would have been smothered in its cradle. If Trotsky had succeeded Lenin, world history may have moved in a more humane direction. Castro, as a Marxist, was clear from the beginning that he was out to make life liveable for the mass of the Cuban people, about 70% of whom are black and remain the backbone of the Cuban government's support. Prior to Castro, Cuba was a very poor country dominated by American criminals who ran the place as a combination casino and brothel catering to degenerate Americans. I think the preponderance of historical evidence is that the Castro regime pretty much restricted itself to the executions of the worst people — the thug enforcers of the Batista regime — and was not, as revolutions go, particularly bloody. White Cubans of means took off for Florida where they produced such great statesmen as Ted Cruz and Little Marco. (Cruz was born in Canada, actually.) My view of Castro ranged from uncritical enthusiasm in his early years to less enthusiasm as he applied the screws to, for instance, homosexuals, by exiling all of them that he could find to the Isle of Pines. In the communist catechism, same-sexers were viewed by Castro as “bourgeois decadents.” And he disallowed all private enterprise right down to neighborhood barbers. But from the beginning, Cuba, a tiny country of about 11 million people, faced strict economic blockades, one half-assed failed invasion and numerous attempts to assassinate Castro himself. One of the only good things Obama did during his mediocre turn in office is lighten up on the Cuban embargo to begin the normalization of relations with Cuba, but along comes the orange monster to unravel the Obama admin's sensible Cuban policies and tightened the embargo on trade with Cuba so extremely even modest remittances from Cuban-Americans to relatives in Cuba were banned. I think overall the Cuban revolution has been a good thing for everyday Cubans, not a good thing for its dissidents. But Cuba has one of the best medical systems in the world and is on the cutting edge of cancer research. I think Castro could have lightened up a long time ago, but the new leadership since him is much more flexible. Not that I'm surprised, but Biden shows no sign of returning to Obama's enlightened Cuba policies.
JULY BEING quiet time for the schools, school business nevertheless continues. Our new superintendent, the energetic Louise Simson, writes:
“The Anderson Valley Unified Board of Trustees met on Tuesday, July 20 via a virtual link. The meeting highlights included: Celebration of the success of the summer school programs at both sites. Creation of a high school intervention teacher to support students returning to school in the post-pandemic environment funded by the ESSER funding. Approval of carpet replacement in portions of the high school. Discussion of a return to live Board meetings on August 10 with an electronic option for participants wishing to view on-line. Discussion of the plans for re-opening of full in-person school at both sites for all students on August 17. Approval of a Facilities Use Agreement to facilitate the expansion of the Health Center. Looking forward to a wonderful year ahead!”
GET THE KIDS OUTTA THERE
On Monday, July 19, 2021 at about 10:17 PM, Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Dispatch received a call of a domestic violence incident which had occurred in the 900 block of Woodman Creek Road in Laytonville.
While responding, Deputies were advised an adult male had used a firearm during the incident but an adult female, age 27, had been able to flee the location. Deputies subsequently learned the following in summary during their investigation.
The adult male, Casey Riggs, 32, of Laytonville, and the adult female have two children in common from a prior dating relationship.
On Monday, July 19, 2021 after all of them had dinner together in Ukiah, an argument began over child custody. Riggs took the children and went to his residence in Laytonville.
The adult female followed and as she pulled in the driveway, Riggs came over to her car and began kicking the driver's door numerous times which caused visible damage.
The adult female exited the car and the pair continued to verbally argue in the driveway.
Riggs reportedly pushed the adult female against the car and hit her in the face several times. Riggs then put his right hand on the adult female's neck and began strangling her but finally released his grip.
The adult female was going to leave but Riggs demanded she stay and she complied based upon fear. The pair continued to argue when Riggs reportedly grabbed the adult female by the hair, pulled her through the house into the backyard. Riggs then took her cellular phone and threw it off into the distance. The adult female was able to get away from Riggs and tried to find her phone.
Thereafter, Riggs obtained a rifle from inside the house and pointed the rifle in her direction before shooting it twice. Riggs stepped closer to the adult female and brandished a .45 caliber semi automatic pistol.
Riggs pointed the pistol towards the adult female's head and discharged it over her shoulder. Riggs made threatening statements and the adult female was able to get to her car to leave the area.
Riggs grabbed a rock and tried to break the windows of the car prior to jumping on the hood of the vehicle as she tried to leave. Riggs fell off the hood and the adult female was able to leave the area.
While investigating the incident, Deputies noticed Riggs driving up and down the Highway looking for the adult female. Riggs was contacted in downtown Laytonville and taken into custody without incident.
Deputies then responded to Riggs' residence to conduct a welfare check and located the children in a safe condition.
Deputies noticed three firearms in plain view along with ammunition. The first gun was a loaded SKS type rifle just inside the front door. The next was a loaded pump action rifle outside by the back door. The third was a loaded .45 caliber semi automatic handgun in an open drawer in the bedroom where one of the children was sleeping. Deputies further noticed a large variety of ammunition in the residence.
Deputies learned Riggs was prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition due to an active restraining order. A records check also confirmed two of the firearms were reported stolen previously.
Riggs was booked into the Mendocino County Jail on charges of Domestic Violence Battery, Assault with a Deadly Weapon, Criminal Threats, Vandalism, Using a Firearm during a Felony, Grand Theft, and Possession of Firearm in Violation of Court Order where he was to be held in lieu of $150,000 bail.
CATCH OF THE DAY, July 22, 2021
ROCKY DUMAN, Ukiah. Stolen property, controlled substance. (Frequent Flyer)
TATIANA FRANCO-CORTEZ, Garberville/Ukiah. Concealed dirk-dagger, probation revocation.
SHAYLYNN LOCKHART, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
TONY MCELROY, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
TRAVIS MENDOZA, Ukiah. Domestic battery.
AARON NORBURY, Redwood Valley. Probation revocation.
RYAN ORTIZ, Ukiah. Suspended license, failure to appear.
ERIC SEALE, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
DEVAN TOMPKINS, Fort Bragg. Controlled substance, failure to appear.
POLITICS & SAUSAGES
Lawmakers skipped town.
Left it all balloxed
We call that monkey-wrenching
And not statesmanship.
You were elected to deal.
Go back in and deal
On the merits this time please
Like you’re supposed to.
— Jim Luther
A girl went back to Napoli
Because she missed the scenery
The native dances and the charming songs
But wait a minute
Hey, mambo! Mambo Italiano!
Hey, mambo! Mambo Italiano!
Go, go, go you mixed up Siciliano
All you Calabrese do the mambo like a crazy with-a
Hey mambo, don't wanna tarantella
Hey mambo, no more the mozzarella
Hey, mambo! Mambo Italiano!
Try an enchilada with da fish a baccalà and
Hey cumpà, I love a-how you dance a rumba
But take some of advice paisano
Learn how to mambo
If you gonna be a square
You ain't a-gonna go nowhere
Hey, mambo! Mambo Italiano!
Hey, mambo! Mambo Italiano!
Go, go, Joe
Shake it like your Giovanna
Hello che si dice you getta happy in the feets
When you mambo Italiano
Shake, baby, shake 'cause I love a-when you take-a me
Mama say you stop-a or I'm gonna tell your papa
Hey, chadrule! You don't a-have to go to school
Just make a-wid da beat, bambino
It's a-like a vino
Kid, you good a-lookin' but you don't a-know what's cookin' 'til you…
Hey, mambo! Mambo Italiano!
Hey, mambo! Mambo Italiano!
Ho, ho, ho, you mixed up Siciliano
It's a so delische ev'rybody come capisce
How to mambo Italiano!
— Bob Merrill (sung By Rosemary Clooney)
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
California and other "stricter and earlier lockdown" states suffered less economic decline and better health outcomes than states like Texas with looser rules. Unchecked disease is apparently worse for the economy than lockdowns.
I didn't vote for Newsom in the primary, but the pandemic in America would be all but over if not for widespread Republican irresponsibility and disinformation on everything from the seriousness of COVID to the efficacy of masks and vaccines. If the GOP does about 30 years of soul searching they might become worthy of being elected as dog catcher for a small town with few dogs.
READ YER SUN TZU
The military is having difficulty finding recruits. Vietnam and Afghanistan are two good reasons why.
These were unwinnable wars that had no national security consequences. Gen. Douglas McArthur told us that Vietnam was unwinnable, and the experiences of other countries in Afghanistan should have led us to conclude that it was as well. I wonder if any of our generals has read what Sun Tzu had to say about supply lines.
Vietnam was fought to avoid a democratic election that someone we didn’t like was going to win. The reason given for Afghanistan was to capture Osama bin Laden. The fact is that the Afghans offered to turn him over, and we made no attempt to actualize any of those offers.
These are the two longest wars in American history. As long as our government keeps misusing the military in this way, few people will want to be involved. Use of the military should be for national security purposes only.
THE POWER STRUCTURE FOR DEADLY LAG and the Prophetic Work of Unsung Heroes
by Ralph Nader
Kicking life-saving solutions endlessly down the road is the mark of the brutish power of the corporations over the innocents.
Fifty years ago, medical research warned about the overuse of antibiotics creating mutations of resistant bacterium, making these drugs less effective. Dr. Sidney Wolfe warned about this criminal negligence again and again, along with other colleagues. But the drug companies kept over-promoting to get physicians to over-prescribe. Today, antibiotic resistance takes over 100,000 lives a year just in the U.S. Some bacterium are mutating beyond the ability of medical science to catch up with new more powerful antibiotics to curb new antibiotic resistance bacterium.
Deadly Lag Time.
For decades, starting in the 1970s, at the very least, both the big oil companies and knowledgeable government officials warned about global warming. Exxon’s own scientists sounded the alarm internally as well. Now with little preparedness to move fast from fossil fuels to renewables and conserve energy, the climate crisis is upon the world. Mega storms, floods, wildfires, and rising sea levels threaten everything and everybody. As James Gustave Speth’s forthcoming book, They Knew: The U.S. Federal Government’s Fifty-Year Role in Causing the Climate Crisis, people knew, including the graphic, forecast report in 1993, now forgotten, authored by Bill Clinton and Al Gore who promptly gave the auto industry an eight-year holiday from the regulatory push on fuel efficiency.
Deadly Lag Time.
Great physicians such as Quentin Young, Arnold Relman, Steffie Woolhandler, and David Himmelstein warned of the avoidable casualties and price gouging if we did not enact single-payer universal health insurance. They were ignored. The delay is costing trillions of dollars and about 100,000 lives a year with many more injuries and illnesses for those unable to afford health insurance to get a timely diagnosis and treatment.
Dr. Philip Lee supported a study by Harvard Medical School physicians back in the early 1990s, estimating the huge fatality toll annually from medical malpractice just in hospitals. In 2015, Johns Hopkins medical researchers reported a minimum of 250,000 deaths a year from preventable problems in hospitals excluding clinics and doctors’ offices. The prophets warned, but the power structure, including the media, turned a largely deaf ear.
Deadly Lag Time.
Walter Hang, an environmental scientist, has warned for years about the toxic nature of fluids used in fracking of gas and oil. He and others mobilized people in New York state to persuade Gov. Andrew Cuomo to ban the practice, unlike the increasingly poisoned fracking sites in Pennsylvania and other fracking states. Now we have been told by scientists that a chemical used in the mining breaks down into a toxic giant called PFAS, which they call a “forever” pollutant endangering underground drinking water sources.
Deadly Lag Time.
Over twenty-five years ago, scientists spoke out against the rising epidemic now known as the opioid disaster, promoted by drug companies and their owners like the Sackler family. The government and medical professions dillydallied. Last year, a record 90,000 people died in America from drug overdoses, mostly from opioids.
Deadly Lag Time.
In the 1950s, government scientists reported the connection between cigarette smoking and cancer. In 1964, the annual report by the Surgeon General (launched by Dr. Luther Terry) kept adding to the evidence of diseases from this highly promoted tobacco industry killer. Philip Morris Co., R.J. Reynolds and others kept promoting, denying, deceiving and regularly luring youngsters with free samples near schools. Over 400,000 annual deaths in the U.S. are attributed to smoking-related diseases.
When Congress, the media, and the public health groups started banging the drums in the 1980s, Big Tobacco was put on the defensive year after year. The number of daily smokers declined to under 15% from a high of 42% in 1964. Non-smokers more aggressively demanded smoke-free places and helped mightily to turn the tide. Who remembers the handful of tobacco-use fighters for their courageous and prescient advocacy?
Deadly Lag Time.
Lag time is another phrase for the “democracy gap.” It is the space between what most of the people want and need, and what those same passive people suffer and tolerate.
The same “lag time” bleeds people economically. The federal minimum wage is still frozen by Congress at $7.25 per hour. Many millions of workers are between that number and $15 per hour.
Prof. Malcolm Sparrow of Harvard has led the way in highlighting the many billing frauds in the health care industry that totals $350 billion or more this year alone. His detailed warnings and his classic book, License to Steal: Why Fraud Plagues America’s Health Care System, came out years ago in 1996. Still, a corporate Congress does nothing. The Biden Administration does not ask for necessary money for this area of enforcement, even though $1billion would save over $15 billion from fraudulent billing.
Jake Lewis and Jonathan Brown wrote and spoke about the damaging influence of the Federal Reserve and its Big Bank patrons back in the 60s and 70s. The lag time became worse, especially under Fed Chairman Jerome Powell who studies show has made the super-rich and corporate giants soaked in unearned wealth more rich while expanding the impact of gross inequality against the masses. (See the op-ed by Karen Petrou in the New York Times, July 12, 2021).
New Time Lags are underway. We have been forewarned about Medicare [Dis]Advantage, yet its corporate deceivers continue to devour traditional Medicare (controlling over 40% of Medicare beneficiaries).
Technology seers are warning against the terrible effects on younger people, including children, who will become addicted to Facebook’s rollout of the Oculus or augmented reality goggles. Avaricious Zuckerberg continues to expand his dangerous monopolistic empire.
All those who told us so are largely forgotten, uncelebrated and, if they are still active, hardly getting their calls returned. Is there a more abject sign of a decaying democracy?
GAVIN NEWSOM REPORT CARD: What He Has Done, and What He Hasn’t
Backers of the campaign to fire Gov. Gavin Newsom are hoping that Californians will keep some things in mind when they cast their vote in the Sept. 14 recall election. To name a few: Mask mandates, shuttered schools, sluggish vaccine rollouts and the French Laundry. More than any other issue, the pandemic — and Newsom’s handling of it — is the reason the state is holding its second gubernatorial recall ever.
But the governor isn’t just in charge of pandemic policy. How the state’s children are educated, the help we extend to the state’s poorest, who is punished and who gets leniency under the law, and how the state balances the demands of industry and those of environmental stewardship are among the questions facing the state’s chief executive — whether it’s Newsom or any of the 40-plus people hoping to take his place.
For voters who need a highlight reel of Newsom’s two-and-a-half years at the helm of state government, here’s a look at some of the most significant ways he’s changed California — and some of the ways he hasn’t.
THE TRILLION-DOLLAR LIE
by Matt Taibbi
Stefanie Gray explains why, as a teenager, she was so anxious to leave her home state of Florida to go to college. “I went to garbage schools and I’m from a garbage low-income suburb where everyone sucks Oxycontin all day,” she says. “I needed to get out.”
She got into Hunter College in New York, but both her parents had died and she had nowhere near enough to pay tuition, so she borrowed. “I just had nothing and was poor as hell, so I took out loans,” she says. This being 2006, just a year after the infamous Bankruptcy Bill of 2005 was passed, she believed news stories about student loans being non-dischargeable in bankruptcy. She believed they would be with her for life, or until they were paid off.
“My understanding was, it’s better to purchase 55 big-screen TVs on a credit card, and discharge that in a court of law, then be a student who’s getting an education,” she says.
Still, she asked for financial aid: “I was like, ‘My parents are dead, I'm a literal fucking orphan, I have no siblings. I'm just taking out this money to put my ass through school.”
Instead of a denial, she got plenty of credit, including a slice of what were called “direct-to-consumer” loans, that came with a whopping 14% interest rate. One of her loans also came from a company called MyRichUncle that, before going bankrupt in 2009, would briefly become famous for running an ad disclosing a kickback system that existed between student lenders and college financial aid offices.
Gray was not the cliche undergrad, majoring in underwater basket-weaving with no plan to repay her loans. She took geographical mapping, with the specific aim of getting a paying job quickly. But she graduated in the middle of the post-2008 crash, when “53% of people 18 to 29 were unemployed or underemployed.”
“I couldn't even get a job scrubbing toilets at a local motel,” she recalls. “They told me straight up that I was over-educated. I was like, “Literally, I'll do your housekeeping. I don't give a shit, just let me make money and not get evicted and end up homeless.”
The lender Sallie Mae at the time had an amusingly loathsome policy of charging a repeating $150 fee every three months just for the privilege of applying for forbearance. Gray was so pissed about having to pay $50 a month just to say she was broke that she started a change.org petition that ended up gathering 170,000 signatures.
She personally delivered those to the offices of Sallie Mae and ended up extracting a compromise out of the firm: they’d still charge the fee, but she could at least apply it to her balance, as opposed to just sticking it in the company’s pocket as an extra. This meager “partial” victory over a student lender was so rare, the New York Times wrote about i.
Gray still owed a ton of student debt — it had ballooned from $36,000 to $77,000 — and collectors were calling her nonstop, perhaps with a little edge thanks to who she was. “They were telling me I should hit up people I know for money, which was one thing,” she recalls. “But when they started talking about giving blood, or selling plasma… I don’t know.”
Sallie Mae ultimately sued Gray four times. In doing so, they made a strange error. It might have slipped by, but for luck. “By the grace of God,” Gray said, she met a man in the lobby of a courthouse, a future state Senator named Kevin Thomas, who took a look at her case. “Huh, I’ve got some ideas,” he said, eventually pointing to a problem right at the top of her lawsuit.
Sallie Mae did not represent itself in court as Sallie Mae. The listed plaintiff was “SLM Private Credit Student Loan Trust VL Funding LLC.” As was increasingly the case with mortgages and other forms of debt, student loans by then were typically gathered, pooled, and chopped into slices called tranches, to be marketed to investors. Gray, essentially, was being sued by a tranche of student loan debt, a little like being sued by the coach section of an airline flight.
When Thomas advised her to look up the plaintiff’s name, she discovered it wasn’t registered to do business in the State of New York, which prompted the judge to rule that the entity lacked standing to sue. He fined Sallie Mae $10,000 for “nonsense” and gave Gray another rare victory over a student lender, which she ended up writing about herself this time, in Guardian.
Corporate creditors sometimes play probabilities and mass-sue even if they don’t always have great cases, knowing a huge percentage of borrowers either won’t show up in court (as with credit card holders) or will agree to anything to avoid judgments, the usual scenario with student borrowers.
Gray, however, was “scrappy and didn’t “take any shit,” and won. She didn’t establish any particularly important precedent with her case, except that student lenders can, in fact, lose in court. This It bleeds, we can kill it moment turned out to matter more than it seemed at the time.
The passage of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 was a classic demonstration of how America works, or doesn’t, depending on your point of view. While we focus on differences between Republicans and Democrats, it’s their uncanny habit of having just a sliver of enough agreement to pass crucial industry-friendly bills that really defines the parties.
Whether it’s NAFTA, the Iraq War authorization, or the Obama stimulus, there are always just enough aisle-crossers to get the job done, and the tally usually tracks with industry money with humorous accuracy. In this law signed by George Bush, sponsored by Republican Chuck Grassley, and greased by millions in donations from entities like Sallie Mae, the crucial votes were cast by a handful of aisle-crossing Democrats, including especially the Delawareans Joe Biden and Tom Carper. Hillary Clinton, who took $140,000 from bank interests in her Senate run, had voted for an earlier version.
Party intrigue is only part of the magic of American politics. Public relations matter, too, and the Bankruptcy Bill turned out to be the poster child for another cherished national phenomenon: the double-lie. In our country the surface political debate is often transparently simplistic and absurd, but serves a purpose by keeping the public’s eyes averted from more devastating underlying realities. With bankruptcy, Bush set the cover story. “In recent years too many people have abused the bankruptcy laws,” Bush declared at the signing ceremony. “They walked away from debts even when they had the ability to repay them.” News outlets similarly stressed that the bill targeted bad people, deadbeats who had money and not only stiffed Visa and Mastercard, but maybe their kids, too. NBC spoke of bankruptcy as “the last refuge of gamblers, impulsive shoppers, divorced or separated fathers avoiding child support, and multimillionaires who buy mansions in states with liberal homestead exemptions.”
Years later, pundits still debate whether there really ever was an epidemic of debt-fleeing deadbeats, or whether legislators in 2005 who just a few years later gave “fresh starts” to bankrupt Wall Street banks ever cared about “moral hazard,” or if it’s fair to cut off a single Mom in a trailer when Donald Trump got to brag about “brilliantly” filing four commercial bankruptcies, and so on.
In other words, we argue the why of the bill, but not the what. What did that law say, exactly? For years, it was believed that it absolutely closed the door on bankruptcy for whole classes of borrowers, and one in particular: students. Nearly fifteen years after the bill’s passage, journalists were still using language like,
“The bill made it completely impossible to discharge student loan debt.”
Even I did this, writing multiple features about student loans stressing their absolute non-dischargeability. In 2017, I interviewed a 68 year-old named Veronica Martish who filed for personal bankruptcy — as I put it, “not to get free of student loans, of course, since bankruptcy protection isn’t available for students” — and described her being chased by collectors to her deathbed. “By the time I die, I will probably pay over $200,000 toward an $8000 loan,” she said. “They chase you until you’re old, like me. They never stop. Ever.” I got it wrong. Beginning in the 2010s, judges all over the U.S. began handing down decisions in cases like Gray’s that revealed lenders had essentially tricked the public into not asking basic questions, like: What is a “student loan”? Is it anything a lender calls a student loan? Is a school anything a lender calls a school? Is a student anyone who takes a class? Can lenders loan as much as they want, or can they only lend as much as school actually costs? And so on.
The phrase “Just asking questions” today often carries a negative connotation. It’s the language of the conspiracy theorist, we’re told. But sometimes in America we’re just not told the whole story, and it’s left to individual people to fill in the blanks. In a few rare cases, they find out something they weren’t supposed to, and in rarer cases still, they learn enough to beat the system. This is one of those stories.