Low Pressure | 26 New Cases | Backdoor Maneuver | Boonset | JDSF Demo | Weer Resigns | June Ranch | Historic Curtailment | Paranoia | Trucking Water | Petar Missing | Charlotte Hoak | 20,006 Plants | Greenwood Times | Elk Garage | Price Plummets | Boonville Grandstand | Not Drinking | Bald Eagle | Catching Travis | Not Guilty | Ed Notes | Yesterday's Catch | Che Diary | Angry Doctor | Redneck Doorbell | Highway Key | Electrification | Cursed Olympics | Low Flying | Noise Pollution | Five Bucks | Bungalow Ghosts | Young Hunter | Health Alliance | Pet Hats | Turner's Defeat | Embalmer | Corporate Crime | Honesty Policy | Remember Me
UPPER-LEVEL LOW PRESSURE tracking across northwest California will result in deep marine layer clouds and drizzle this morning. This afternoon will feature cooler and breezy conditions inland, with a stray thunderstorm in northeast Trinity County. Otherwise, seasonable temperatures and dry weather is in store for the weekend. (NWS)
26 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.
THE BACKDOOR MANEUVERS that probably pushed Sheriff Kendall into suing the Board of Supervisors
by Mark Scaramella
ON JULY 11 we wrote about a very fishy Consent Calendar Item which had its origins going back to March:
Item 4ab). “Adoption of Resolution Authorizing a Title Change and Salary Revision of General Services Agency Director, Salary No. D46B to Director General Services Agency, Salary No. 6298; Re-Establishment of the Classification of Director Social Services, Salary No. 6214 and Amending Position Allocation Table as Follows: Budget Unit 5010 - Add 1.0 FTE Director Social Services.”
Check that again: “Title Change and Salary Revision” of the General Services Agency Director. The title is being changed from “General Services Agency Director, Salary No. D46B” to “Director General Services Agency Salary No. 6298…” And no names, no salary change numbers in the item’s title or description.
Back in March, based on credible info from a senior source at Low Gap, we wrote that an agenda item at that time proposed to create a Department Head position for Information Services. Item 5C on that March agenda would create a Director of Information Services (Chief Information Officer) at a mere $278,678 (almost the cost of two deputies with patrol vehicles). The staff report for this item was a masterpiece of double talk including this gem: “The creation of the stand-alone department will not require the addition of any staffing resources at this time. With the Executive Office’s formation of a Fiscal and Administrative unit, this stand-alone department would be utilizing this unit to support the common departmental and administrative tasks, thereby reducing the common administrative overhead required of a stand-alone department.” Adding a highly paid Department Head apparently doesn’t count as additional staff resources. It’s just another unnecessary use of funds to reward a loyal insider.
This plot is further complicated by the recent sworn court declaration from Sheriff Matt Kendall which was part of the reason he wanted his own lawyer to dispute an apparent insider plot to take over his law enforcment computer system:
Kendall: “In 2019 I was contacted by the Sheriff’s IT Manager who advised me that he had been contacted by a deputy in the County Executive Office, Janelle Rau, in the parking area of the County Administration building. Rau told the Sheriff’s IT manager that she was moving to take over the Sheriff’s IT and it was simply a matter of when.”
. . .
“[Later] I learned that the item [to hire an IT person for the Sheriff’s dispatch operation] had not gone forward [to the Board Agenda] and that Rau had pulled the item off the agenda and told Human Resources she wanted to go in a different direction. When Undersheriff Brewster confronted Rau and asked her what happened she denied any knowledge of the events which resulted in the matter not being heard by the Board. When Undersheriff Brewster explained that she had pulled the item, she stated she had forgotten, however and gave no further explanation.”
. . .
“On March 23, 2021 there was a Board Agenda Item 5c to be heard on proposed changes to the County’s Information Technology Department. In reviewing the budgeting instructions we received, we discovered that $286,000 was allocated for ‘enterprise IT.’ It appeared as though the effect of these budgeting changes would be the restructuring of County IT, the creation of a new position of Chief Information Officer (CIO) and the takeover of the Sheriff’s IT by the County IT.”
* * *
In yesterday’s (Tuesday, August 3) big announcement by CEO Angelo of yet another major re-shuffling of the CEO’s expensive deck chairs we saw the following announcement:
“Appointment of Janelle Rau as Mendocino County’s Director of General Services Agency. Janelle Rau has been appointed as the General Services Agency (GSA) Director effective July 25, 2021. Ms. Rau has been a county employee for 22 years. Ms. Rau has served as Deputy Chief Executive Officer (DCEO) for Mendocino County for the past 6 years. During her tenure as DCEO, she had operational oversight and responsibility for: County wide competitive bidding and contract quality control, real property administration (including purchasing and/or surplusing property), Central Services Division/Purchasing Agent, Information Services Division, Facilities and Fleet, Capital Projects, Board of Supervisors/ Clerk of the Board, Executive Office/Administrative Services Division, as well as served as liaison to County departments. Ms. Rau began her employment history with the Board of Supervisors in 1999, where she served until promoted as the Central Services Division Manager for the GSA in 2005 and continued in that role through 2015. As the General Services Agency Director, Rau will oversee the agency and its annual operational and Capital Improvement budget. ‘As a proud long time Mendocino County resident, I appreciate the Board’s and CEO Angelo’s confidence in me and my abilities and am honored to lead such a great team.’ Rau said. ‘I look forward to working with the Board of Supervisors and CEO on their strategic goals and priorities that will allow the County to continue to focus on excellent public service to our community’.”
Connect the dots however you like, but these kinds of backdoor maneuverings are what probably pushed the Sheriff into filing suit against the County. They are underhanded, designed to enrich the CEO’s top loyal staffers, and probably illegal and all seem to stem from The Executive Office, not the Board of Supervisors, certainly not the Sheriff.
Since the Supervisors obviously are kept in the dark about all this backdoor activity, it’s no wonder that the Sheriff said he “didn’t put the coin in this jukebox,” doesn’t trust the CEO’s office or staff, and isn’t comfortable with vague assurances from a Board of Supervisors that has no control over their CEO and her staff.
PUBLIC DEMANDS LOGGING MORATORIUM in Jackson State Forest
Youth Lead March to CalFire Meeting Ft. Bragg -- Elders Disrupt, Shut It Down
Ft. Bragg CA — Led by local youth, demonstrators carrying signs and banners protesting logging in Jackson State Demonstration Forest (JDSF) and calling for a Moratorium, marched down Main St. to the Ft. Bragg Town Hall yesterday evening to a meeting of the Jackson Advisory Committee (JAG). Longtime Albion resident and forest activist Linda Perkins explained the ostensible purpose of the JAG meeting was to answer the general public’s questions gathered at CalFire outreach events held in June. Perkins emphasized that the responses were “not specific to the concerns raised by the Coalition to Save Jackson State Forest”.
CalFire’s recent public outreach blitz follows months of growing protests and nonviolent Direct Actions including tree sits at the Caspar 500 site and blockades at the entrances to the timber harvest plan (THP), which also serve as much-used recreation areas. On June 16, employees of Anderson Logging Company continued falling trees in extremely close proximity to forest defenders on the contested Caspar THP. CalFire has since “paused” logging in JDSF. Calling it a People’s Moratorium”, forest protectors continue to monitor for logging activities. However, many fear that once CalFire’s “outreach” phase is completed, logging will be allowed to resume.
Outside the meeting, Middle school student Ravel Lemos reminded the crowd of the urgent need to address climate change by reducing logging, stating, “Ten percent of all global warming emissions area caused by deforestation... 48 football fields of forest are logged every minute, and redwoods are not just any trees - they're the best carbon sequestering organisms on the planet. Climate change is real. And my generation is who will pay - some of us with our lives - for what this generation has done”.
Inside the meeting, the JAG presentations on sustainability, carbon capture and cultural protection were interrupted by members of the audience calling out questions and comments about the use of Imazapyr used to poison tan oaks, the cutting of late seral (large, old) redwoods, the lack of Indigenous representation in Jackson management, lack of carbon sequestration, excessive water needed by logging during a drought and the fire dangers of 3-story high slash piles left in the forest. During a public Q & A period, these themes were reiterated but the answers did not satisfy. JAG members’ statements were challenged and fallacies pointed out, such as the debunked notion that carbon is stored as effectively in wood products as it is in living trees.
Native American David Martinez testified eloquently and bitterly to the damage done to the original forests by greedy, extractive non-Native land practices, admonishing the JAG members for ”still not listening to us”, or learning how to care for the Earth. Martinez concluded: “The forests you found in my great grandfather’s time didn’t just get that way by themselves, they were managed by Indigenous people for 10,000 years”.
Brushing off these cogent public comments, the JAG members tried to resume their regular agenda but had to pause as four activists rose and walked to the front of the room, linked arms and began chanting ”No business as Usual” and “Moratorium”. The meeting adjourned.
Contact: Naomi Wagner 707-459-0548; 707-502-6181 Michelle McMillan 707-734-0588, email@example.com
— Chris Skyhawk, facebook.com/chris.skyhawk.1
FROM SUPERVISOR WILLIAMS:
Mendocino County Auditor-Controller Lloyd Weer submitted his resignation today effective September 5. Thank you Lloyd for 40 years of service to the county.
I'm confident the Board of Supervisors will proceed judiciously to strengthen accountability and transparency.
JUNE RANCH, BOONVILLE CA
LAKE MENDO DOWN TO A DROP
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
First, some sobering news. Lake Mendocino has now dropped below its target storage level, and as a consequence, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) will extend curtailment notices to all water rights holders, including those with the most senior water rights (pre-1914 and riparian). This is a historic step and reflects the severity of this drought.
(Mendocino County Resource Conservation District presser)
As the drought task force, Supervisor McGourty and I have been working constantly on the water issues in the County. We met with the State Water Board and Senator Feinstein’s staff to get state and federal help. With the critical situation on the coast, the most likely scenario is trucking water from Ukiah to Fort Bragg and Mendocino.
PETAR GONZALEZ, 53-year-old male of Ukiah, has been reported missing by family members and Erika Peterman. Gonzalez was last seen Sunday 8/1 at approximately 9:30PM by his sister. Petar was seen leaving his home in the Ukiah area with a man by the name of Adam. There have been reports of Petar's vehicle being seen near the Hammond/Hwy 20 area in Upper lake, CA. Family members say they have been in contact with Petar through Facebook Messenger although he has refused to speak over the phone and is unable to answer personal questions via messenger to prove the legitimacy of his messages. Petar has not called in or shown up for work since his last sighting - the reporting party claims this is unusual behavior for him. The family says an official missing persons report has been filed with authorities.
Petar Gonzalez is ~5' 7'' weighing 170lbs, has blond hair and brown eyes.
Anyone who may have any information on the whereabouts of Petar Gonzalez is asked to call the Ukiah Police department Sandra Gonzalez, or Erika Peterman (818)307-2749.
MENDOCINO’S GREAT LADY OF HORTICULTURE
by Molly Dwyer, Kelley House Museum
Charlotte Hoak grew up in the wilds of Comptche, born in 1874 on ranch land that had formerly been under the jurisdiction of the local Pomo leader, Comptche — the name the region became known by.
Comptche is, in fact, a Pomo word that means “the valley among the hills.” It’s land the Pomo traveled through each summer on their way to the coast and the Comptche-Ukiah Road is the old stagecoach route.
Certainly, Charlotte must have seen it in her childhood and may have been part of why she loved the natural world. She liked to say she was born with two green thumbs. Both of her parents loved growing plants and on the day of her birth, her father planted seven redwood trees. Charlotte referred to them as her “Birthday Grove,” and the trees still stand today.
Her passion for cultivation had sprouted by the time she was five years old. Charlotte was fascinated by the plant life of California and spent a lifetime lecturing and writing articles on the state’s native flora.
In 1896, at the age of 22, Charlotte enrolled at the University of California at Berkeley. She majored in English; botany was her minor. She received her degree in 1900 and after two years of teaching, she returned to Berkeley for her Master’s degree. Her research was on Mendocino County’s Pygmy Forest, which ultimately she helped save.
Located just a few miles inland, the Pygmy Forest extends south from Fort Bragg for about 30 miles. Once known as the Mendocino Barrens, the land produces dwarf evergreen Cypress, Bishop Pine and Beach Pine — some as small as nine or ten inches high. Tucked into this miniature world are huckleberry, ferns, rhododendrons, lilies and a range of evergreen shrubs.
It was in her capacity as the horticulture chairman of the California Garden Club that Charlotte put her fascination with the Pygmy Forest to work. In 1950, she began encouraging the club to purchase some of the forestlands and donate it to California’s state park system. Charlotte wrote extensively about the pygmy and the club mounted a drive to raise the money.
It took almost 18 years, but in September 1969, acreage adjacent to Van Damme State Park was dedicated as the Charlotte M. Hoak Memorial Pygmy Forest.
Charlotte moved to Southern California in 1906, after purchasing a home in South Pasadena. She spent 25 years teaching agriculture and horticulture in the elementary schools of Los Angeles and was also a columnist for the Pasadena Star-News, where her writing became known internationally. Her many accomplishments include the discovery of a new lily in the mountains of Southern California, which was named for her, and her undying love of begonias — for which she received numerous awards, including the Kenworthy Gray Plaque in recognition of her outstanding contribution. Her friends included famous naturalist, John Muir.
Charlotte Hoak is one of Mendocino’s heroines. This remarkable woman lived to be 93 and at the age of 84, was named “Miss Horticulture 1958.” She was a runner-up for “Woman Gardener of the United States.”
To learn more about Charlotte or other noteworthy pioneers, visit the Kelley House Museum, and discover the rich roots of this unique town.
(Courtesy, Kelley House Museum)
GROWERS COULD FACE $3 MILLION IN FINES After Bust Nets 20,000 Marijuana Plants
by Matt Pera
More than 20,000 marijuana plants were removed from illegal growing operations during a raid in Covelo last week, according to the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office.
The Thursday raid, which involved about 50 law enforcement officers, targeted an illegal growing operation on Biggar Lane, the Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post.
Authorities investigating the grow prior to the bust saw more than 100 hoop houses during a flyover and learned that the property owners had been denied permits to legally grow cannabis, authorities said.
With a warrant to search the property, authorities found “104 plastic style hoop houses, which were all being used for the purposes of marijuana cultivation,” the Sheriff’s Office said.
Authorities destroyed 14,495 marijuana plants and 7,590 pounds of processed marijuana found on the site.
While searching the property, authorities noticed another illegal growing operation on the same block on two parcels owned by the Round Valley Tribe, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Officials destroyed 5,511 marijuana plants from the site on Thursday.
“According to tribal members, this marijuana growing operation was being conducted by individuals trespassing who did not have permission to occupy the land,” the Sheriff’s Office said, noting that the Round Valley Tribal Police asked for help from law enforcement in destroying the plants.
Nobody has been arrested in connection with either grow, but the Sheriff’s Office has identified suspects, Capt. Greg Van Patten said Wednesday. He said the Sheriff’s Office plans to forward both cases to the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office for prosecution.
County code enforcement officials will also be pursuing legal action with fines up to $3 million for the larger grow, according to Van Patten.
The Sheriff’s Office is finding larger illegal marijuana gardens every year in the Covelo area, Van Patten said.
"They’re hiding right out in the open,“ he said. ”We’re talking about right down on the valley floor where you can drive your car right up to it.“
(Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
After long study, we should simply change Fort Bragg to Mendoza. Keep Noyo its own name. We can deal with other changes. I’m in favor of keeping Fort Bragg “Unified” High School and Greenwood Middle School. Then maybe change the local newspaper name from Fort Bragg Advocate to Greenwood Times. And so on from there.
David C. Giusti
“I’ll tell you what, it was pretty daunting,” Tim Blake told L.A. Weekly. “There are so many deps that have come in from the first run, that [one distributor] said they don’t even need to do the second run or the sungrown. We’re gonna have absolute over-abundance and over-production. I had another distributor telling me that they thought it’d be two years before it was commoditized and it’s going to be this year. The prices are already collapsing, and it’s gonna be a very, very tough year for the farmers because there’s just so much.”
Part of the problem is that while Mendo crushed it as usual, so did many giant farming operations across the central valley and down south that dwarf the scale that the moms and pops of the hills are able to grow at.
“It went really well and there’s so much. There are so many millions of pounds of Ice Cream Cake and Gelatos and desserts that I don’t know what people are gonna do really. I mean, it’s really going to be very, very challenging,” Blake said.
Blake says small farmers didn’t get the shot in the market they were promised before the megafarms showed up.
“Gavin Newsom came up to Mendocino and talked us into evangelizing for [Proposition] 64 based on the fact that in that part of 64 said there’d be nothing over one acre for five years, so that all the small farmers, all the people in the hills everywhere would have a chance to segue out,” Blake said. “Well, two months into Prop. 64 Gavin Newsom opened up large scale farming. And you immediately had 10, 20, 30, 40-acre farms in Salinas and in Santa Barbara.”
Blake can’t comprehend how it was ever intended that a person with 10,000 square feet in the hills would be able to tango with giant players. He argues it’s impossible. He was the second person to enter Mendocino’s cultivation program, but he expected things wouldn’t go well once the ban on big farms was canceled and gave up on the effort.
“How am I going to compete?” Blake asked? “These guys are growing and they can sell it for between $300 and $500 a pound. These small farmers barely or can’t even grow it for that. And so what you’re seeing now is massive amounts. People are already cherry picking the very best of it. They’re beating people up on prices. Prices are plummeting. People can’t even sell last year’s sungrown, that’s just dead. I don’t know what they’re gonna do with sungrown this year because most people want the mixed-light. So what are these farmers going to do with all this sungrown coming out in three months after two gigantic rounds of mixed light?”
Another problem in Blake’s eyes? The limited number of retail points in the marketplace. He felt dispensary numbers getting back up to where they were before legalization would make shelf space available for the little guys to try and survive.
Blake doesn’t regret supporting Prop. 64 and what it meant for cannabis moving forward. But it’s hard for him to watch what’s happening in his community.
“I went for 64. I’m still glad because look what it did: It opened up cannabis across the country, the world. It’s never going to be stopped,” Blake said. “People aren’t going to prison. My conservative family are now using cannabis. That’s all great. The only thing that was promised was that they knew that we needed five years because we’re never gonna be able to compete. Small farmers will never compete with large-scale agriculture.”
Blake’s main advice for friends has been to take whatever numbers they’re hearing now because they’re only heading south in the months to come.
I have lots of favorite days of the year. My birthday, the day my girls were born, Teagan’s Birthday, the Ukiah Parade of Lights and Pumpkin Fest load in are on the top…. And today. Five years ago I decided I was done waking up tired and shaky. I was tired of making bad choices and not being present for important moments. And I made the choice to stop drinking alcohol. I woke up this morning and did Spin, picked up food for the Food Bank, worked all day and went to Zumba. I didn’t miss the feeling of of being under the influence and I remembered everything I did. If you’ve thought about not drinking, the timing is perfect. There are meetings in person, and online and lots of opportunities to find ways to reduce stress and celebrate without alcohol. I’m not an addiction specialist so I’ll just say I’ve never regretted not drinking and I highly encourage you to try it. If this post speaks to you, it was meant for you. You can do it.
NOYO TOO LOW TO HIDE TRAVIS
On August 2, 2021 at approximately 4:16 p.m., Officers of the Fort Bragg Police Department conducted a traffic enforcement stop for numerous traffic code violations, on a silver Chevrolet Malibu in the 32000 block of N. Harbor Drive. Officers contacted the driver, Travis Weatherly, 30, of Fort Bragg, who provided false identification to the officer. While attempting to ascertain the driver’s true identity, he fled from the vehicle on foot towards the Noyo Harbor Inn, leading officers on a brief foot pursuit.
During the pursuit, the subject leapt into the Noyo River hiding himself in the bushes along the shoreline. A perimeter was established with assistance from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, Mendocino County Probation, State Parks, and the Department of Fish and Game. The perimeter was maintained while the Department of Fish and Game utilized their patrol boat to perform a search of the west bank of the Noyo River. Shortly after, Officers located the suspect hiding in the brush after pulling himself out of the river. The subject was taken into custody without any further incident.
Upon his arrest, the subject was positively identified as Travis Weatherly of Fort Bragg. Weatherly was determined to have multiple warrants for violation of probation and felony evasion of police officers from Colusa County, a revoked driver’s license and did not have an interlock device as required by his terms of his probation. Weatherly was arrested and charged for providing false identification to officers, obstructing officers during their course of duty, violation of probation, driving on a suspended license, and driving without an interlock device as required as well as his warrants.
Questions regarding this press release may be forwarded to Officer Jarod Frank at 707-961-2800 ext. 139 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SEX OFFENDER NOT GUILTY
A Mendocino County Superior Court jury returned from deliberations Tuesday to announce that it had found the trial defendant not guilty as charged.
Defendant Steve Allen Couthren, age 63, generally of Ukiah, was found not guilty of failing to register with local law enforcement as a sex registrant with prior convictions for failing to timely register.
Couthren remains required by law to continue to timely register as a sex registrant and, in doing so, to keep law enforcement notified of his residence and whereabouts.
This registration mandate flows from prior Lake County convictions in 2001 for lewd and lascivious acts on a child under the age of 14 years.
Because the jury found Couthren not guilty, the bifurcated the issue of whether he has also suffered two prior Strike convictions was moot.
The law enforcement agency that investigated this matter was the Ukiah Police Department.
Deputy District Attorney Juan Jose “Joe” Guzman was the prosecutor who presented the People’s evidence to the jury and argued for conviction.
The two-day jury trial was heard in the courtroom of Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Keith Faulder.
TIM McCLURE wrote Tuesday: “I agree with Tom McFadden, people should be encouraged to build their own housing and the process should be streamlined to be both affordable and understandable for the average citizen to achieve. Codes, once designed for reasonable public safety, have morphed into expensive juggernauts of complex and unachievable design requirements which can only be deciphered by architects, engineers and other highly trained professionals. As a builder with over 50 years of experience in the rear view mirror I have seen the costs of building and the complexity accelerate year by year. Talking to an old timer backhoe guy the other day he informed me that you can expect to spend $100K and two years to receive permission to begin building in the Coastal Zone. If this is true I am at a loss to understand how it got this way.”
FOR YEARS I simply built what I needed to build on my half-acre, accumulating a slew of red tags as I went. As it turned out, the County Assessor merely bumped up my property tax a modest bit, but calculating those increases against repeated trips over the hill for contradictory advice from a rotating cast of Planning and Building martinets (with the exception of one commonsense person, a woman of course), or a straight up rejection of whatever modest project I had in mind, I am convinced that I actually saved money and hours of frustration via the red tag route.
MY MOST RECENT and presumably final project involved a couple of modulars on an acre in the center of Boonville that came with two wells and a commercial septic system. Since I'm in the center of town, and the modular guys needed permits, the red tag strategy was out. But even this simple project turned out to be endlessly complicated, especially by one neo-zoot suit zany in the B&P department who didn't believe the county building code even when it was shown to him. I agree totally with Mr. McClure; the process has become impossible for reasons having nothing to do with health and safety, and local government operates more like an occupying army than public servants.
I WAS WATCHING one of those grand European tour shows on KQED the other night, one beautiful old church or ancient village after another, with stunning photos of the Roman aqueducts. Do we even have to wonder what would happen if Michelangelo appeared at Mendocino County Planning and Building with an offer to erect the Sistine Chapel in, say, Laytonville? The P&B desk guy puts in a hasty call to the Supervisors. “Hey! There's a guy here who wants to build a big church in the middle of nowhere. Big tourist draw he says. Says his name is Mike Angelo or something like that. I looked at his plans, but when I told him I didn't see handicapped ramps or fire exits, nevermind the painted glass ceiling and the size of the goddam thing, he got very emotional and started yelling about how beautiful it would be for centuries to come.” Carmel Angelo, speaking, as always for the castrati she allegedly works for, replied, “Tell Mr. Angelo thanks but no thanks. We haven't done beauty in this county since 1920, and we have no intention of starting now!”
I ALSO agreed with Mr. McClure's remark that the school system ought to go back to an emphasis on vocational training and apprenticeships. In fact, I'd go for… Who was the educational theorist who said she thought that children, during their adolescent years, should not be raised by their parents, but farmed out to single sex teen camps heavy on specific training in specific skills and lots of physical exercise. Hmmm. Think about it. Show of hands from parents? Unanimous in favor!
BACK TO LOCAL GOVERNMENT and my mon cheri, Shari L. Schapmire, treasurer-tax collector, who has billed me $20.03 as the tax on my business, Boonville's beloved weekly newspaper. Shar, pulling figures out of mid-air, says my paper is valued at $1,860 and says at the rate of 1.077 percent, I owe her twenty bucks and three cents, the three cents is probably a little office joke. “The three cents will frost the bastard, eh girls?”
I WISH SHARI was funnin' me, but the bill comes with all kinds of bold type caps and warnings of the Pay or Die type government specializes in. Heretofore when Shar has sent me a form demanding I list my business’s assets I've truthfully listed them as No Value — a couple of old laptops, a surplus desk and a yard sale office chair in a leased trailer at a time newspaper-newspapers are being rapidly replaced by the cyber loony bin. But suddenly Shar says the mighty ava is worth $1,860! If someone walked through the door with $1,860 cash money I'd probably take the money and run.
CATCH OF THE DAY, August 4, 2021
RICARDO ALARCON-ANTONIO, Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs.
ROBERT BELL, Laytonville. Vandalism, probation revocation.
JOHNY DELGADO, Fort Bragg. County parole violation.
CECIL DIXON JR., Redwood Valley. DUI, controlled substance, no license, disobeying court order, resisting.
LAURA DOUGLAS, Willits. Failure to appear.
GARY GEVING, Middletown/Fort Bragg. Domestic battery.
TRAVIS MURPHY, Ukiah. DUI.
ENRIQUE NUNEZ-DAVILA, Covelo. Domestic battery, burglary, damage to wireless communications device, probation revocation.
VERONICA OROZCO, Philo. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
JASON PICKETT, Willits. Protective order violation.
MARTIN SOTO, Willits. Kidnapping, criminal threats. (Repost with booking photo)
RUSSELL WRIGHT, Vista/Ukiah. Vandalism.
HOW ERNESTO GUEVARA BECAME ‘CHE’: The Motorcycle Diaries Revisted
by Jonah Raskin
Director Walter Salles 2004 movie, The Motorcycle Diaries—which was inspired by Ernesto (Che) Guevara’a book about his journey from Argentina to Colombia—begins with a quotation from the author himself: “This isn’t a tale of heroic feats.” Sounds good, but that’s not the way that Guevara envisioned his tale when he left his home, his family and his girlfriend, Chichina, as a kind of twentieth century Don Quixote, with a sidekick named Alberto Granado, a biochemist, both of them riding on a Norton 500 they dubbed “La Ponderosa” (“The Mighty One”). Guevara calls himself and Alberto, “Knights of the Road.”
Only with the benefit of hindsight and after seven eventful months on the road that altered his life, did Guevara begin to change his mind about heroism, heroes and heroic feats. At the start of his narrative—that’s based on the journal he kept along the way, and originally titled Notas de Viaje—he wrote of himself and Alberto: “Distant countries, heroic deeds and beautiful women spun around and around in our turbulent imaginations.”
At the age of 23, while still a medical student and not yet a doctor, Ernesto was imbued with many of the ideas and values of the Argentine middle class into which he was born. In 1951 when he and Alberto launched their romantic adventure, Ernesto wanted to be a swashbuckling hero, not a Marxist revolutionary or a guerrilla fighter. On the road, he became another person. He decided that “the poor” were the “unsung heroes” of Latin America.
That was a radical turnaround. “My destiny is to travel,” he wrote on January 31, 1952. Six months later, he exclaimed that “when the great guiding spirit cleaves the world in two antagonistic halves, I knew I would be with the people.
He added, “I see myself immolated in the genuine revolution, the great equalizer of individual will. I steel my body, ready to do battle, and prepare myself to be a sacred space within which the bestial howl of the triumphant proletariat can resound with new energy and new hope.” A poet and a visionary, he was also profoundly spiritual.
Better than Salles’ movie and better than any biography of him, including Jon Lee Anderson’s massive, masterful Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life, Che’s Notas de Viaje traces the genesis and the evolution of the vagabond, bohemian and soul mate of Jack Kerouac who joined Fidel Castro in Mexico and in the Sierra Maestra, helped overthrow the Batista dictatorship in Cuba, became a guerrilla in power and aimed to be “The New Man.”
The most recent edition of The Motorcycle Diaries, which was first published in English in 1995 and that was translated from Notas de Viaje, and that first appeared in print in 1993, gives readers the world over the opportunity to watch, kilometer by kilometer, country by country, month by month, the liberation of Ernesto Guevara and the birth of “Che.”
The word has been translated into English as “mate,” “pal,” “man,” “bro,” and “dude.” Take your pick.
Published just now by Seven Stories Press, the new Diary comes with a foreword by Che’s daughter, Aleida Guevara, and another foreword by Che’s Cuban wife, Aleida March, who describes the “travel diaries” as the “adventure of a young man’s journey of discovery.”
Plus there are introductions by billionaire Brazilian filmmaker, and the director of the movie, The Motorcycle Diaries, Walter Salles and by the Cuban writer, Cintio Vitier, best known in the English speaking world for his stunning biography of José Marti.
Over the next eight months, Seven Stories Press will publish nine more books by Guevara, including Latin American Diaries, which is the sequel to The Motorcycle Diaries, Congo Diary from 1965, The Bolivian Diary from 1967, and a volume of his letters. Che fans will see that he fired far more words than bullets and that they hit more targets than they missed.
The Diaries are probably the best place for North American readers to dive into Che’s work which the Times of London described as Das Kapital meets Easy Rider and that The Washington Post described in a patronizing way as “A Latin American James Dean or Jack Kerouac.” In fact, there is no North American Che, no European or Asian Che. There is only one Che.
The main conflict or contradiction in The Motorcycle Diaries is between Che the individualist who wanted to express himself to the fullest and to experience everything that a 20th century human could experience and Che the collectivist who wanted to serve the people and the revolution. Perhaps he never fully resolved the conflict as he saw it, though he tried in Cuba, the Congo, Bolivia and globally on the stage of history.
In The Motorcycle Diaries, he wasn’t yet fully aware of the forces that pulled at him, seemingly in opposite directions at times. He was much more fully aware of those forces in a talk he gave in 1960 to medical students and workers soon after the guerrillas seized power. The talk is included at the end of The Motorcycle Diaries. “The revolution,” Che explained, was “a liberator of human beings’ individual capacity.” It was not “a standardizer of collective will, of collective initiative.”
The Cuban revolution enabled Ernesto to become more Che than he had dreamed possible, though it seems likely that he never fully realized his potential. After all, he was shot and killed at the age of 39 by Bolivian forces acting under orders of the CIA.
Those who have idolized Che—I include myself, along with millions of others—might be disappointed by some of the things that Che does and says in The Diaries. He drinks a great deal and gets drunk. He’s a womanizer who wants to seduce many of the “easy girls” he meets on the road, and, while he empathizes with the poor, the hungry, the homeless and with the lepers at the leper colony that he visits in Peru, he also sometimes looks down at the Indians as dirty, the Blacks as lazy and the leper colony as a “scene from a horror movie.” He’s not yet the New Man he wants to be. He’s on the road.
Salles smoothes over the rough edges in his buddy film that features beautiful landscapes and the indelible faces of men, women and children who have toiled close to the earth. Salles also makes Che’s time at the leper colony the crescendo of the film. In the book, the crescendo is Che’s time at Machu Picchu, which he calls “the heart of America,” and where he comes to appreciate the indigenous civilization of the Incas, and where he also despises the inhumanity and brutality of the Spanish conquistadores.
In Machu Picchu, Che thinks about armed resistance to illegitimate authority and authorities. He begins to shed his white identity and imagines himself as “a warrior” who defends “club in hand the freedom of the life of the Inca.”
Always a romantic, he longs for the open road, the quiet of the wilderness and the Amazon jungle. A hobo and a con-artist, too, he and Alberto do what they have to do to survive. While they have an easier time finding food and shelter than the uprooted Indians—the two guys from Argentina often go to the police for help—they come to see, hear and feel the plight of the indigenous people. They also identify as “Pan Americans” who want to unite all the nations of the continent and drive the Yankee imperialists back to where they’ve come from.
A cultural revolutionary, Che wanted to alter “the manner of thinking” that was necessary, he argued, to bring about “external changes, primarily social.” In Hong Kong, Minsk, Bogotá, and wherever citizens go into the streets to demand justice and equality, Ernesto (Che) Guevara lives.
(Jonah Raskin is the author of For The Hell of It: The Life and Times of Abbie Hoffman and American Scream: Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ and the Making of the Beat Generation.)
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
“…I am angry that the tragic scenes of prior surges are being played out yet again, but now with ICUs primarily filled with patients who have chosen not to be vaccinated. I am angry that it takes me over an hour to explain to an anti-vaxxer full of misinformation that intubation isn’t what “kills patients” and that their wish for chest compressions without intubation in the event of a respiratory arrest makes no sense. I am angry at those who refuse to wear “muzzles” when grocery shopping for half an hour a week, as I have been so-called “muzzled” for much of the past 18 months.
I cannot understand the simultaneous decision to not get vaccinated and the demand to end the restrictions imposed by a pandemic. I cannot help but recoil as if I’ve been slapped in the face when my ICU patient tells me they didn’t get vaccinated because they “just didn’t get around to it.” Although such individuals do not consider themselves anti-vaxxers, their inaction itself is a decision — a decision to not protect themselves or their families, to fill a precious ICU bed, to let new variants flourish, and to endanger the health care workers and immunosuppressed people around them. Their inaction is a decision to let this pandemic continue to rage.
I am at a loss to understand how anyone can look at these past months of the pandemic — more than 600,000 lives lost in the U.S. and more than 4 million worldwide — and not believe it’s real or take it seriously. But the unhappy truth is that there are people who do not. They did not in the beginning and many are doubling down now.”
— Thanh Neville, M.D., M.S.H.S., is an ICU physician and researcher at UCLA Health (Huffpost, 8/1/21)
KEY TO THE HIGHWAY
I've got the key to the highway
Billed out and bound to go
I'm gonna leave here, runnin'
Because walkin' is most too slow
I'm going back to the border
Where I'm better known
'Cause you haven't done nothin'
But drove a good man away from home
Give me one mo' kiss, mama
Just befo' I go
'Cause when I'm leavin' here
I won't be back no mo'
When the moon
Peep o'vr the mountain
Honey, I'll be on my way
I'm gonna walk this highway
Until the break of day
Well, it's so-long, so-long, baby
I must say good-bye
I'm gonna roam this highway
Until the day I die.
— Charles Segar, William Lee Conley Broonzy
A COVID SURGE & RECORD HEAT HAVE CREATED A CURSED OLYMPIC GAMES
by Dave Zirin & Jules Boykoff
Even for the casual observer of the Olympics, it was clear way back in March 2020 that the International Olympic Committee was peddling phantasmagoria. In announcing its decision to postpone the Tokyo Olympics, the IOC said the Games would still be called “Tokyo 2020” even though the event would transpire in 2021. These days, such a willful suspension of reality is required to blind oneself to the ghoulish self-interest that has foisted the Olympics on an unwilling population during a health pandemic.
Holding these Olympics—the most complex sports mega-event in the world, involving more than 11,000 athletes and tens of thousands more in support staff—was a terrible idea. Public health professionals have been clear about this from the jump. On the eve of the Games, Dr. Masami Aoki of the Japan Women’s Medical Association said, “The Olympics are the last thing we should be having in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic.” She added, “The Olympics must be stopped.”
Now, in Tokyo—and wider Japan—we’re witnessing the nightmare scenario that so many public health professionals predicted: surging coronavirus rates and hospitals on the brink. IOC President Thomas Bach made the ridiculous statement that the Olympics posed “zero” risk of spreading Covid in Japan. But, back in reality, nearly every day brings a new record for coronavirus cases. Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has offered the flimsy claim that the spike in cases has nothing to do with the Olympics. Tokyo Olympics CEO Toshiro Muto said, “I think we have been able to deal with Covid-19 at a level within expectations so far.” In other words, Olympic organizers are comfortable with a certain number of people getting Covid because of the games, as long as it is not too many—this is ghastly.
Tokyo-based AP sports reporter Stephen Wade, who also reported from Rio de Janeiro during the 2016 Olympics, noted on Twitter: “IOC says spike in virus has nothing to do with Olympics. False. People are out more. Celebrating Japan medals. More circulation on trains. In bars. Olympics over in 10 days. IOC will be gone. Japan cleans up mess, pays billion-dollar bills. IOC pays little, profits, and leaves.”
Dr. Annie Sparrow, who along with colleagues reviewed the IOC’s coronavirus preparations in The New England Journal of Medicine, excoriated the Olympic barons for installing “cheap measures that don’t work rather than scientifically proven ways that do.” Now, athletes are paying the price, with cases rising inside the Olympic Village, where athletes reside during the Games. As of this writing, there have been 259 positive cases of the coronavirus—and counting—within the Olympic zone since July 1. The so-called “Olympic bubble” is yet another outlandish myth that requires a suspension of disbelief. The bubble—if it ever existed—was punctured long ago.
When we visited Tokyo in July 2019, well before Covid enveloped the world, the main concern about the Tokyo Games leveled by everyday people was the stifling heat and humidity that Olympics-goers, including athletes, would face. Anyone with access to the Internet could tell you that staging the Games in July and August meant thrusting athletes into an extreme and perilous climate. The 1964 Tokyo Olympics were held in October for precisely that reason. Yet the original bid fr0m Tokyo blithely—and misleadingly—stated, “With many days of mild and sunny weather, this period provides an ideal climate for athletes to perform at their best.”
Tell that to the Olympic archery participant who suffered heat exhaustion. Or the tennis player who struggled to breathe while on the court. Or another who forfeited her match because of heatstroke before being rolled off the court in a wheelchair. According to Muto, 30 people have had to seek medical attention due to heat exhaustion.
The IOC was fully aware of this brutal reality. It mandated that athletes participating in the Tokyo Olympics sign waivers stating: “I agree that I participate in the Games at my own risk and own responsibility, including any impact on my participation to and/or performance in the Games, serious bodily injury or even death raised by the potential exposure to health hazards such the transmission of COVID-19 and other infectious disease or extreme heat conditions while attending the Games.” The waiver places the risk on athletes’ shoulders while insulating Olympic organizers from legal liability, even if an athlete dies from coronavirus or the punishing heat.
The Tokyo Olympics should dispel the myth that the IOC is “Putting Athletes First.” “The athletes, they’re not the priority,” historian David Wallechinsky told the The New York Times. “Television is the priority.” Wallechinsky is referring to the fact that holding the Tokyo Games in the summer months is advantageous to NBC—which, by some estimates, accounts for 40 percent of all IOC revenues—and other broadcasters.
We are left with an Olympics being performed in stifling heat, without spectators and with the constant threat of the pandemic stalking every move of the athletes involved, with the coronavirus numbers, in all its variants, breaking records throughout the country on a daily basis. Meanwhile, athletes are not helping to assuage the worst nightmares of Japanese residents, with some illegally carousing and drinking in groups. Among the Americans, the biggest story might involve anti-vaxxer swimmer Michael Andrew’s refusal to wear a mask.
People are already calling these the Pandemic Games, the Cursed Games, and the Diseased Games. Many in Japan are anxiously waiting for them to be called “over.”
You can run but you can’t hide from the incessant noise generated by an abundance of Harleys, modified car exhaust systems, gas power leaf blowers etc. I sympathize with Laurie Seale (letters Aug. 3) as that is the issue which drove me from my Healdsburg home ten years ago. Today here in Fort Bragg, where I now reside, legions of Harleys and other modified sport bikes have descended on our formerly quiet community as they run the gauntlet up Highway 1. The California vehicle code as well as local noise pollution codes specifically outlaw these nuisances. Law enforcement needs encouragement and new tools to deal with this growing community problem.
A group called Noise Free America (noisefree.org) provide many strategies and solutions to address this growing social and public health problem. Concerned citizens need to contact law enforcement so they understand this is a problem that needs to be addressed with stiff fines for violations.
SOME OF THE DAK-BUNGALOWS [post-houses] on the Grand Trunk Road have handy little cemeteries in their compound — witnesses to the "changes and chances of this mortal life" in the days when men drove from Calcutta to the Northwest. These bungalows are objectionable places to be put up in. They are generally very old, always dirty, while the khansamah [house steward] is as ancient as the bungalow. He either chatters senilely, or falls into the long trances of age. In both moods he is useless. If you get angry with him, he refers to some Sahib dead and buried these thirty years, and says that when he was in that Sahib's service not a khansamah in the Province could touch him. The he jabbers and mows and trembles and fidgets among the dishes, and you repent of your irritation. In these dak-bungalows ghosts are most likely to be found, and when found, they should be made a note of. Not long ago it was my business to to live in dak-bungalows. I never inhabited the same house for three nights running, and grew to be learned in the breed. I lived in Government-built ones with red brick walls and rail ceilings, an inventory of the furniture posted in every room and an excited snake at the threshold to give welcome. I lived in "converted" ones --old houses officiating as dak-bungalows-- where nothing was in its proper place and there wasn't even a fowl for dinner. I lived in second-hand palaces where the wind blew through open-work marble tracery just as uncomfortably as through a broken pane. I lived in dak-bungalows where the last entry in the visitors' book was fifteen months old, and where they slashed off the curry-kid's head with a sword. It was my good-luck to meet all sorts of men, from sober traveling missionaries and deserters flying from British Regiments, to drunken loafers who threw whiskey bottles at all who passed; and my still greater good-fortune just to escape a maternity case. Seeing that a fair proportion of the tragedy of our lives out here acted itself in dak-bungalows, I wondered that I had met no ghosts. A ghost that would voluntarily hang about a dak-bungalow would be mad, of course; but so many men have died mad in dak-bungalows that there must be a fair percentage of lunatic ghosts.
—Rudyard Kipling, 1888; from "My Own True Ghost Story"
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NINA TURNER’S LOSS IS OLIGARCHY’S GAIN
by Norman Solomon
The race for a vacant congressional seat in northeast Ohio was a fierce battle between status quo politics and calls for social transformation. In the end, when votes were counted Tuesday night, transactional business-as-usual had won by almost 6 percent. But the victory of a corporate Democrat over a progressive firebrand did nothing to resolve the wide and deep disparity of visions at the Democratic Party’s base nationwide.
One of the candidates — Shontel Brown, the victor — sounded much like Hillary Clinton, who endorsed her two months ago. Meanwhile, Nina Turner dwelled on the kind of themes we always hear from Bernie Sanders, whose 2020 presidential campaign she served as a national co-chair. And while Brown trumpeted her lockstep loyalty to Joe Biden, her progressive opponent was advocating remedies for vast income inequality and the dominance of inordinate wealth over the political system. Often, during the last days of the campaign, I heard Turner refer to structural injustices of what she called “class and caste.”
A major line of attack from Brown forces was that Turner had voted against the party platform as a delegate to the 2020 Democratic National Convention. Left unsaid was the fact that nearly one-quarter of all the convention delegates also voted ‘no’ on the platform, and for the same avowed reason — its failure to include a Medicare for All plank.
Scarcely mentioned in media coverage of this race is that Ohio has an “open primary,” and Republicans received public encouragement to cross over and vote in the Democratic primary. We may never know how many GOP voters took the emphatic advice from the likes of right-winger William Kristol and voted for Brown to help beat Turner.
“Reminder: Tuesday’s Democratic primary is effectively the general election, and all registered voters can vote in the Democratic primary,” Kristol tweeted on July 29. “Just request a Democratic ballot.” After sending out a similar tweet on Sunday, he got more explicit via Twitter at dawn on Election Day: “To Akron, Beachwood, Cleveland, Shaker Heights, etc.: Today’s OH-11 primary is in effect the general election. The choice is a radical leftist or a Biden Democrat, @ShontelMBrown. Any registered voter — including independents & Republicans — can request a Democratic primary ballot.”
Prominent Republicans didn’t only pitch in with targeted messaging. Some GOP-aligned donors kicked in big bucks, such as Donald Trump’s billionaire pal Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots in the NFL, who personally maxed out at $5,800 to Brown’s campaign and whose family gave a total of more than $20,000.
Tacitly aligned with the Republican likes of Kristol and Kraft in zeal to boost Brown and defeat Turner was the leadership of the Congressional Black Caucus, augmented by House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, the highest ranking African-American in Congress. Caucus leaders and Clyburn were busy traveling around Ohio’s 11th Congressional District last weekend, singing Brown’s praises and aiming darts at Turner.
President Biden is popular in the district, and Brown’s forces were intent on framing the choice as pro-Biden or anti-Biden. Days ago, Cleveland’s CBS affiliate reported that the race “has largely come down to Brown, who has positioned herself as the ‘Biden candidate,’ and Turner, who has enjoyed the support of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.” An NBC affiliate asserted that national media and outside groups had made the race “a contest between loyalty to President Biden’s agenda and a more progressive wing of the party.”
Turner’s defeat is a victory for an array of wealthy individuals and corporations alarmed at her willingness to challenge such corporate powerhouses as Big Pharma, insurance firms and the fossil-fuel industry. The relentless and often defamatory advertising barrage against Turner was mainly funded by huge contributions from such vested interests to two outfits, Democratic Majority for Israel and Pro-Israel America, which placed the attack ads.
If the Democratic Party establishment thinks the defeat of Turner has turned back the progressive upsurge, it’s mistaken. Just this week, successful organizing led by Congresswomen Cori Bush and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez forced Biden’s hand, pushing him to extend an eviction moratorium that otherwise would have expired. Bush, AOC and other strong progressives — including Jamaal Bowman, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Mondaire Jones — got to the House by winning Democratic primaries, often ousting entrenched corporate-friendly Democrats in the process. Next year, many Democratic incumbents will face potentially serious primary challenges from the left.
A continuing political reality is that most voters are in favor of policy positions that progressives keep fighting for. In the Brown-Turner race, that reality was largely obscured as Turner’s opponents relentlessly attacked her in personal terms, citing — and often twisting — her outspoken record of criticizing top Democratic Party leaders for failing to walk the walk of their platitudes.
Turner’s vigorous critiques of Biden, especially a crude one last summer, provided very useful fodder for ads attacking her. But foes didn’t have much to say about the transformative policies that she champions. Reporting on her defeat, Politico noted that “the moderate attacks against Turner did not take aim at the progressive proposals she supports, such as Medicare for All or a Green New Deal — an indication they are popular with the base.”
In a statement released late Tuesday night, Turner looked ahead to the future of progressive populism, saying: “We will continue this journey until every working person earns a living wage, including passing a $15 minimum wage. We will continue this journey until every person has health care as a right and not a privilege. We will continue this journey until children’s destinies are not determined by their zip code or the color of their skin. We will continue this journey until we have torn down racism, sexism, homophobia, religious bigotry and every kind of hatred and discrimination. We will continue this journey until justice is equal for every person in this country. And this journey will continue until we have ensured that this planet will be habitable for our children and our grandchildren. So, my friends, it is OK to be sad tonight. But tomorrow we must roll up our sleeves and continue the fight to which we are all committed.”
(Norman Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, where he coordinates ExposeFacts. Solomon is a co-founder of RootsAction.org.)
“I USED TO BE GLAD to prepare private soldiers. They were worth a five dollar bill apiece. But, Lord bless you, a colonel pays a hundred, and a brigadier-general two hundred.
There’s lots of them now, and I have cut the acquaintance of everything below a major. I might as a great favor, do a captain, but he must pay a major’s price. I insist upon that! Such windfalls don’t come every day.
There won’t be another such killing for a century.”
- An embalmer speaking with a newspaper reporter during the Civil War. The quote appeared in Drew Gilpin Faust's "This Republic of Suffering" (pg 96) to highlight the commodification of the dead during the conflict.
COLLAPSING FEDERAL CORPORATE CRIME ENFORCEMENT
by Ralph Nader
As the size and severity of the corporate crime wave surges, Congress is asleep at the switch. The mostly captive Capitol Hill Gang has sat on an antiquated federal criminal code, starved the budget of regulatory health, safety, and consumer/labor protection agencies, and let corporate crooks routinely get away with their crimes.
Despite constant exposés in the mainstream media – still only reporting the tip of the iceberg – neither members of Congress nor presidents from the Republican and Democratic parties have raised the banner of tough “law and order” to counter rampaging corporate crime. Proposals to bring the laws up to date in their penalties and coverage to deter corporate lawbreaking are never a priority for Congress. When was the last time you heard a politician demand “corporate reform”?
Many people still remember how Wall Street, in its greed and power, collapsed the economy in 2008-2009, cost nine million jobs, shredded pension and mutual funds, and insisted on a multi-trillion-dollar bailout. In 2018 Public Citizen found during President Donald Trump’s first year in office, enforcement against corporate crime and wrongdoing plummeted from the final year of the Obama administration (See Corporate Impunity “Tough on Crime” Trump Is Weak on Corporate Crime and Wrongdoing).
None of the big boys and mid-sized big boys were ever prosecuted. Shortly thereafter polls showed 90 percent of Americans (conservatives and liberals) wanted to break up the big banks that were too big to fail. Conservative columnist, George Will, wrote that companies too big to fail should not exist.
But exist they do, and their marauding continues almost unabated. According to fraud expert, Harvard Professor Malcolm Sparrow, year after year, billing fraud and abuse accounts for at least 10% of healthcare expenses. That’s over $350 BILLION this year. Less than two percent is recovered by law enforcement.
As one prosecutor put it, no matter how complex the rip-offs are, no matter how silent or invisible is the violence (e.g., toxics, latent defects, dangerous pharmaceuticals hospital induced infections, etc.), it comes down to lying, cheating, and stealing.
Some corporate crimes are too big to be ignored. Here is a New York Times report: “Over the past two decades, more than 500,000 people in the United States have died from overdoses of prescription and illegal opioids …. Purdue [Pharma], widely believed to have helped ignite the problem by downplaying the addictive potential of OxyContin and aggressively marketing the drug with misleading campaigns, pleaded guilty to two separate investigations by the Justice Department.” The company escaped into bankruptcy. There are all kinds of lawsuits. The bottom line is that the proposed settlement let the Sackler family, mega-billionaire owners, paid out just a small chunk of their immense ill-begotten fortune. Criminal prosecutions of corporate wrongdoers and criminals are almost never pursued.
As the Times wrote: “Neither the company, nor the Sacklers, would admit to wrongdoing in connection with these [about to be settled] lawsuits,” brought by many state attorneys general and the Justice Department.
Welcome folks to the widespread phenomenon of corporate crimes without criminals. Also, the settlement, expected to be signed off by the judge, would release the Sacklers and their company from any personal civil liability. The several billions of dollars that will be paid without any personal prosecutions is the way corporate attorneys succeed in monetizing murder or manslaughter as just a deductible cost of doing business. No clients going to jail. (See Rena Steinzor’s book, Why Not Jail? Industrial Catastrophes, Corporate Malfeasance, and Government Inaction, 2014).
Boeing’s attorneys are also pushing for their strategy of immunity under existing litigation. They got the Trump Justice Department, (DOJ), days before Trump left office in January 2020, to conclude a corrupt, sweetheart “deferred prosecution” settlement (See Corporate Crime Reporter: Lead Boeing Prosecutor Joins Boeing Corporate Criminal Defense Firm Kirkland & Ellis). Though there was a grand jury in operation, there were no indictments or other charges against any of the culpable company bosses who made the decisions that led to the loss of 346 lives in two 737 MAX crashes. Boeing paid a measly $2.5 billion mostly deductible dollars.
To make the stench worse, DOJ’s Attorney General William Barr chose a faraway federal court in Fort Worth, TX, known for its corporatist judge, with a right-wing prosecutor, who after cutting the deal, quit and took a job with Kirkland Ellis – Boeing’s criminal defense law firm.
In the civil lawsuits against Boeing, brought by the aggrieved families, Perkins Coie, Boeing’s law firm, is going all out to avoid trials and settle all these cases through mediation, which, of course, excludes sworn testimony and primitive damages. The overriding goal is to assure that the culpable Boeing bosses and others are neither charged or put on the witness stand under oath in a public trial open to the media and citizenry. See why big corporate lawyers make so much money? They keep the prisons empty of corporate wrongdoers by having them be above the law.
Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), now Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Constitution Subcommittee, has spoken out about the absence of any criminal penalties in numerous federal statutes such as the ones covering auto and aviation safety. In 2015 Senator Blumenthal introduced the S.2140 the “Hide No Harm Act” that would make it a crime for a corporate officer to knowingly conceal information about a corporate action or product that poses the danger of death or serious physical injury to consumers or workers. As a former longtime Attorney General of Connecticut, he decries weaknesses of existing federal criminal statutes and small budgets. He wants action. It is high time to hold historic hearings that go to the cause of the systemic derelictions of justice regarding corporate abuses. America, besieged by corporate crime, needs corporate crime laws that fit these crimes.
Urge full Judiciary Committee Chair Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) to provide Senator Blumenthal the requisite staff and resources for this historic mission. Senator Durbin’s phone numbers are Washington D.C. office: 202-224-2152 / Chicago office: 312-353-4952.
THE TRAPEZE SWINGER
Please, remember me
By the rosebush laughing
With bruises on my chin
The time when
We counted every black car passing
Your house beneath the hill
And up until
Someone caught us in the kitchen
With maps, a mountain range,
A piggy bank
A vision too removed to mention
Please, remember me
I heard from someone you’re still pretty
They went on to say
That the pearly gates
Had some eloquent graffiti
Like ‘We’ll meet again’
And ‘Fuck the man’
And ‘Tell my mother not to worry’
And angels with their gray
Were always done in such a hurry
Please, remember me
Making fools of all the neighbors
Our faces painted white
We’d forgotten one another
And when the morning came
I was ashamed
Only now it seems so silly
That season left the world
And then returned
And now you’re lit up by the city
Please, remember me
In the window of the tallest tower call
Then pass us by
But much too high
To see the empty road at happy hour
Leave and resonate
Just like the gates
Around the holy kingdom
With words like ‘Lost and Found’ and ‘Don’t Look Down’
And ‘Someone Save Temptation’
Please, remember me
As in the dream
We had as rug-burned babies
Among the fallen trees
And fast asleep
Aside the lions and the ladies
That called you what you like
And even might
Give a gift for your behavior
A fleeting chance to see
Swing as high as any savior
Please, remember me
And how it lost me all I wanted
Those dogs that love the rain
And chasing trains
The colored birds above there running
In circles round the well
And where it spells
On the wall behind St. Peter’s
So bright with cinder gray
And spray paint
‘Who the hell can see forever?’
Please, remember me
In the car behind the carnival
My hand between your knees
You turn from me
And said ‘The trapeze act was wonderful
But never meant to last’
The clown that passed
Saw me just come up with anger
When it filled with circus dogs
The parking lot
Had an element of danger
Please, remember me
And all my uphill clawing
But if I make
The pearly gates
Do my best to make a drawing
Of God and Lucifer
A boy and girl
An angel kissing on a sinner
A monkey and a man
A marching band
All around the frightened trapeze swingers
— Sam Beam (youtu.be/sFzEZ3fG1Nc)