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HOT INTERIOR TEMPERATURES will continue through the rest of the work week as high pressure builds over the area. There will be a slight chance of thunderstorms over mainly Trinity County on Thursday and Friday afternoons. (NWS)
YESTERDAY'S HIGHS: Ukiah 103°, Yorkville 103°, Boonville 100°, Fort Bragg 63°
53 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.
LAWSUIT ALLEGES MENDO OFFICIALS CONSPIRED TO ROB POT GROWERS
Filed in Mendocino County Superior Court on August 9, 2021 by The Scott Law Firm of San Francisco and the Gearinger Law Group in Santa Rosa
Case Number 21CV00588
Ezekiel Flatten, William Knight, Chris Burr and Anne-Marie Borges, plaintiffs, versus Bruce Smith, Steve White and Does 1 through 50 inclusive.
Complaint for Damages
“The complaint alleges a long-standing and continuing RICO conspiracy involving law enforcement officers in Mendocino County and surrounding jurisdictions conducting the affairs of an enterprise including the Mendocino County Sheriff's Department and the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office through a pattern of racketeering activity consisting of extortion to obtain marijuana, guns and cash from victims in possession of marijuana by unlawfully searching their residences, stopping, detaining plaintiffs and hundreds of other victims, committing robbery, obstruction of justice, money laundering, tax evasion and structuring currency transactions to evade the currency transaction reporting requirements. . . .
“Defendants Bruce Smith and Steve White and their co-conspirators Tom Allman -- Sheriff of Mendocino County, Randy Johnson -- under Sheriff of Mendocino County, David Eyster -- District Attorney of Mendocino County, and Rohnert Park police officers Jason Tatum and Joseph Huffaker conducted and conspired to conduct the affairs of the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office and Sheriffs office through a pattern of racketeering activity including hundreds of acts of extortion, theft and robbery of marijuana, guns and cash, obstruction of justice, money laundering and tax evasion. In the guise of enforcing the law defendants and their co-conspirators extorted tons of marijuana, stole millions of dollars and hundreds of guns in laundered proceeds, committing tax evasion and structuring currency transactions to evade detection. They obtained hundreds of search warrants and destroyed and impounded some of the marijuana, cash and guns to maintain the facade that they were enforcing the law to conceal their ongoing pattern of racketeering activity. . . .
“On information and belief co-conspirator Tom Allman's family members have been cannabis growers in Humboldt County for decades. Co-conspirator Undersheriff Randy Johnson's brother and father were raided by the Drug Enforcement Administration in 2012 and 500 cannabis plants were seized from their property located next door to Randy Johnson's residents in Mendocino County. But no charges were ever filed. . . .
“… At the behest of co-conspirator Mendocino County Sheriff Allman on February 13, 2018, Tatum published a press release purportedly exonerating Mendocino County law enforcement -- an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy alleged herein as part of a cover-up.
“Plaintiff Flatten was formerly a police officer and was the first among hundreds of victims of Mendocino County’s corrupt cannabis law enforcement cabal to publicly accuse law enforcement officers of stealing his cannabis.”
Listed as co-conspirators in addition to officers Tatum and Huffaker are co-conspirators Tom Allman, co-conspirator Undersheriff Randy Johnson and co-conspirator David Eyster, Mendocino County District Attorney.
After providing a list of a half-dozen men who were victims of the alleged conspiracy, towards the end of the lawsuit the plaintiffs contend that “when plaintiff Flatten came forward publicly, co-conspirator Tom Allman contacted co-conspirator Tatum to quash Flatten’s accusations by issuing a press release. But Tatum’s statement to the press was too hastily contrived and his involvement in the illegal seizures too prolific. As a result his press release defended the wrong illegal seizure and instead of diffusing the scrutiny the plaintiff's allegations had brought, it confirmed the existence of a more expansive, continuing criminal conspiracy."
JAMES MARMON alerted us this afternoon (Tuesday) that a suit had been filed in the Mendocino County Superior Court alleging that county law enforcement, up to and including DA David Eyster, had conspired to rob travelers transporting marijuana on the Mendo stretch of Highway 101. Interesting as the allegations are, the charges seem tenuous, unsupported by specific evidence. But we've always wondered how it was possible that Mendo cops did not know that two rogue officers from Rohnert Park were hijacking marijuana at, among other Mendo sites, Squaw Rock. And doing it repeatedly. We've provided a link on the ava website to the suit in its entirety.
WE'VE asked DA Eyster for comment, but his office spokesman, Mike Geniella, said the DA hadn't read the filing and, therefore, “couldn't comment on something I haven't seen.”
IN A SUBSEQUENT STATEMENT from spokesman Geniella to the Ukiah Daily Journal, the charges are described as “laughable”: The DA and staff were unaware a lawsuit had been filed. “We have not been served with the lawsuit, nor provided a copy. How can we comment on something that is not in front of us? Any notion that DA David Eyster conspired with anyone in the performance of his duties as the county’s chief law enforcement officer is laughable.”
YEARS AGO there was an old guy on my paperboy route I knew only as Judge Flor. He used to wait for me at his gate for me to hand him his Call Bulletin, one of San Francisco's afternoon papers. “You should breathe through your nose, kid,” he'd say after I'd climbed the hill to his house, huffing and puffing through all my intake valves. Another day, “You like music?” At age 11 I couldn't recall any music other than my aunt's ukulele, which I wasn't sure qualified. “Well, here's a whole band for ya!” the judge chortled as he handed me his cigar band. Every day it was something. “Say, sonny boy, you know why blind men don't smoke?” I didn't know any blind people. No, sir, I don't know why blind men don't smoke, I'd answered. “Because they can't see the smoke!” The judge didn't elaborate, leaving me to wonder the rest of my life if I'd gotten the straight skinny from the old coot. All these years I've looked for a blind smoker to test Judge Flor's thesis, if that's what it was, until just the other day, reading a Hemingway short story called “Now I Lay Me,” I read this passage:
“Talk quiet,” I said. “Want a smoke?”
We smoke skilfully in the dark.
“You don't smoke much, Signor Tenente.”"
“No. I've just about cut it out.”
“Well,” he said, “it don't do you any good and I suppose you get so you don't miss it. Did you ever hear a blind man won't smoke because he can't see the smoke come out?”
“I don't believe it.”
“I think it's all bull myself,” he said. “I just heard it somewhere. You know how you hear things.”
JUDGE FLOR, looking back, didn't strike me as a literary man, so he probably didn't read his blindman myth in Hemingway's story, but then maybe he did, or maybe the blindmen-don't-smoke story was in general circulation back in the day. I've never seen a blindman smoking, though, have you? And I've looked for years.
I HOPE Wanda Johnson, Kim Campbell and Kelly Hiatt got something in the way of a proper acknowledgement for their many years of work in the Anderson Valley schools because all three deserve at least a standing O for jobs well done.
NO TWO DAYS are alike in the newspaper business. This very afternoon two gifts — one of plums fresh from an organic tree, the other a hearty pot plant left at our office door, which my colleague, The Major, confidently identified as a Japanese Maple. Never having been a stoner despite my friend Pebs urgings — “It will sharpen your focus, Bruce,” she'd said, but I stopped smoking cigarettes when I was in my twenties because I couldn't help but notice how easily winded I became playing pickup basketball. I've never heard marijuana advocates explain how inhaled marijuana smoke is any different than other smoke in long-term negative lung effect. But thank you anonymous donor, I'll add the gift plant to my botanical array and see if it prospers.
MORE RUSSIAN RIVER DIVERSIONS HALTED as supplies in upper basin grow increasingly scarce
by Mary Callahan
More than 1,800 water right holders in the Russian River watershed are currently under orders to cease water diversions unless they obtain waivers allowing them to divert enough water for basic human health and safety needs, generally considered 55 gallons per person per day.
State regulators expanded their drought-era halt of Russian River diversions Tuesday, ordering more than 300 additional grape growers, ranchers and other landowners to cease taking water from the basin as authorities seek to conserve rapidly diminishing reservoir supplies and meager stream flows.
The curtailments, which take effect Wednesday, cover a range of Sonoma County water right holders in southern portion of the watershed, known as the lower river, though many are located in the Dry Creek Valley and other tributary areas around the middle reaches.
The new orders come amid signs of inadequate compliance among more than 1,500 water rights holder in the upper river who fell under a wider curtailment last week. Supplies released from Lake Mendocino continue to all but vanish from segments of the river downstream, according to stream gauge data and observations from regulators.
Dam managers outside of Ukiah have had to maintain higher reservoir releases over the past two weeks than at any other time this summer to ensure a minimum flow in the river at Healdsburg, even though diverters have been under orders since Aug. 3 to take only enough for basic human health and safety needs.
Jule Rizzardo, permitting and enforcement branch chief for the Division of Water Rights at the State Water Resources Control Board, cautioned that some curtailed diverters may still be receiving their notifications and may not have had time to adjust their operations.
But Sam Boland-Brien, supervising engineer for permitting and enforcement, said the reservoir release and stream gauge data reflect unexpected losses that imply continued diversions beyond what should be occurring both legally and given the months spent communicating broadly with stakeholders about the severity of the drought.
“A couple of months ago, it was very clear how dire the issues were that we were trying to address,” Boland-Brien said.
Lake Mendocino, the smaller of the region’s two major reservoirs, has dropped to its second-lowest level ever and held just more than 23,000 acre feet of water at midnight Monday, putting it about two weeks away from reaching the minimum threshold of 20,000 acre feet that had been set for Oct. 1. (An acre foot is a unit of measure equal to about 326,000 gallons, or enough to flood most of a football field one foot deep.)
Lake Mendocino sustains flow in the upper Russian River and supplies water to about 60,000 people in Mendocino and northern Sonoma counties.
Current storage is about 30% of what water managers hope to have in Lake Mendocino at this time of year, as they approach the final months of dry weather and hope that rain arrives in fall.
The reservoir pool is still augmented by a small amount of inflow diverted through Potter Valley from the Eel River and Lake Pillsbury, which is also severely diminished by drought. But those diversions are just about enough to offset evaporation, said Don Seymour, principle engineer with Sonoma Water, the region’s primary drinking water supplier.
Water managers are “extremely” concerned about having sufficient water going into what could be another dry winter, said Seymour.
“At the rate we’re seeing right now, the reservoir could be, by Oct. 1, below 15- or 14,000 acre feet, which is terrifying to me,” Seymour said.
In a dry winter during the last big drought, between Oct. 1, 2013 and February 2014, Lake Mendocino dropped to 15,000 acre feet. A repeat of that would leave “no water other than whatever would try to pass through the reservoir from some small diversions through the Potter Valley Project,” he said.
The river would run so low that it probably would become discontinuous in spots, potentially preventing domestic users from withdrawing enough even for basic health and safety needs, Seymour said.
It likely would prompt declaration of a state of emergency and intervention by the state Department of Drinking Water and the Office of Emergency Services, he said. “Basically, you’re in a situation similar to a wildfire,” he said.
Seymour said it was possible some losses from the upper Russian River were the delayed result of heavy groundwater withdrawals that drew water from the river into surrounding aquifers, combined with ongoing diversions.
Rizzardo said more would be known when her division had “boots on the ground” for compliance inspections, expected to begin soon.
She said anyone who observes or suspects illegal diversions also is encouraged to report them to the State Water Board.
Violations of the curtailment orders can draw a fine of up to $1,000 a day or $2,500 for each acre foot diverted.
That includes refusal to file a required response confirming cessation of curtailed diversions and identifying alternate water sources in use, Rizzardo said. The responses are due within seven calendar says of the curtailment order, though technically it’s enforced based on the date the mailed notice is received, she said.
Curtailed water right holders also may apply for exemptions to take water for basic human health and safety needs, an allowance generally set at 55 gallons per person per day.
Boland-Brien said about 50% of those issued curtailment orders Aug. 2 had responded by Tuesday.
The new orders were issued to a less than half of about 800 lower Russian River water right holders eligible to have their diversions curtailed. The decisions were based on complex analyses of hydrologic modeling and climate data, as well as water use reporting in 13 sub-basins and seniority among water rights holders.
Boland-Brien said those not yet under orders could still be affected in the future, depending on conditions, but noted that withdrawals from the river typically slow in September.
The Sweetwater Springs Water District, which supplies about 8,000 customers from Rio Nido, Guerneville, Monte Rio and beyond was not affected by this round of curtailments.
To report illegal diversions from the Russian River: If you think someone is illegally diverting water, you can report them by calling 916-341-5300 or going to calepacomplaints.secure.force.com/complaints/.
(Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
FORTY MILLION ACRES OF LAND — almost the size of the state of Florida — in the US consists of lawns. Maintaining them requires 800 million gallons of mower fuel and three million tons of (carcinogenic, endocrine-disrupting) fertilizers a year, and they guzzle up to 60% of fresh water in urban areas.
— Arianne Shahvisi, London Review of Books
COPING WITH FIRE IN WATER-CHALLENGED FORT BRAGG
An Interview With Fort Bragg Fire Chief Steve Orsi
by Chris Calder
Fort Bragg Fire Chief Steve Orsi is counting his blessings these days.
“Locally, we’re not in bad shape,” he said Monday morning. “Of course we’re struggling with the water. That’s not going to go away anytime soon. Firewise, though, the climate still behooves us a little bit, with the wet mornings. We don’t really have the dried out conditions that we have inland. But we’ve still got to be careful. We could still get a fire.
“We still have our incidents here...Just the other day, it was really damp in the morning, kind of rained a little bit, and we had guys out there burning. Burning vegetation. They were all ‘well it rained, so we can burn.’ I said, “It hasn’t been like that in years. The burn ban’s on.” You know, you’ve just got to be smart. It’s not the time of year to do that stuff.
“If you do have a warming fire, a camp fire, make sure it’s contained. Make sure it’s out when you’re done. We put it back to common sense.”
“Common sense” is what Orsi came back to again and again, a few days after the Dixie Fire in the northern Sierra Nevada exploded and erased the town of Greenville, while still threatening several other mountain communities — Chester, Taylorsville, Susanville — and putting thousands of people there — more than a third of Plumas County’s residents, by their sheriff’s estimate — at least temporarily out of their homes.
Mendocino County has had a strike team made up of members of a number of local volunteer departments helping on the Sierra Nevada fires for more than two weeks, but Fort Bragg firefighters for the most part have stayed close to home. The main reason, according to Orsi: they have regular jobs, and this year, it’s a lot harder to get away.
It seems the tight labor market has left many local employers short-staffed and less able to spare a worker gone to fight fires for a week or more. Orsi said firefighters are frustrated, both because they want to help, and are used to doing so, and because the money for mutual aid is pretty good, better than most regular jobs. But this year, it’s just a lot harder to get away.
“Even if they work at a grocery store or something, there’s just nobody to take their place. It’s so frustrating because every week I ask, ‘Are you available?,’ and I get maybe one or two guys… We’ve always been able to staff a truck up and this year it has been really difficult.”
Mutual aid works according to “operational areas” — Mendocino County is one — where the local fire chiefs choose a coordinator (right now it’s Hopland’s fire chief) whom CalFire contacts with a list of needs — equipment and personnel. The coordinator then reaches out to local departments to see what they can provide.
“Usually, my Monday, I send out a text to all those who are able to go, because people have to have certain qualifications to go.”
Orsi said he needs to send people who have experience and training on wildland fires, and some endurance.
“It’s pretty rugged,” he said.
So far, the Fort Bragg department has sent a water tender to Redwood Valley in July. Orsi said he’s hoping some of his Fort Bragg volunteers can get some vacation time later this summer and a lend a hand.
As far as 2021’s fire season goes, he said, “Anybody who says there’s not something changing is wacko.”
“When I was younger, we had bad fires. But you could almost set your clock by them. Anywhere from the beginning of September to the end of October. They were normally caused by Santa Ana winds in LA and we would just gear up for it… Now we’re getting them year round almost and they’re worse than the ones in LA used to be.”
Is California’s firefighting infrastructure keeping up with the changes?
“I don’t know. I don’t know how they could. I mean, you could throw a million fire trucks at something. Is that going to do it? I just don’t have an answer to that. I know they try really hard to hit them as hard and fast as they can. But I also know that some of those fires, you can’t fight them with engines. They’re coming so hard and so fast, what are you going to do? You’ll get burned up.”
Orsi marvels at the low number of injuries, and so far no reported deaths, from this year’s megafires.
“I’m looking at tv, thinking ‘Oh my God, how many people did they lose?’ And then it’s ‘one person was injured.’ I’m thinking, how did that happen?”
Water has become a pressing concern on the Mendocino Coast, with more and more wells running dry and rivers at historic lows. The City of Fort Bragg ended outside water sales last month. Still, Orsi feels that the supply is still adequate for normal firefighting. He said the city’s hydrant system should meet the need for a fire in town if it arises.
“It wouldn’t be good for the town, but our hydrant system could keep up… Now, when it was over, that could be an issue.” He said the department does have the option of drafting from the Noyo River estuary if needed. Salt water would foul up the equipment, he said, but it’s workable.
“If we had to to save the town, we would do it,” he said.
“Also,” he said, “we haven’t had to, but we have a pretty good relationship, I think, with the local logging companies. If we needed extra water tenders, I’m sure a couple of calls to Anderson or Philbrick or any of them, they’d get us water trucks.”
“We’re fortunate in so many ways right here,” he continued. “I’m probably beyond lucky that we’ve got what we’ve got here and we’re living where we’re at.”
Another reassuring thing, he said, is CalFire’s over-the-top response to any and all reported fires these days.
“They’re sending prisoners, they’re sending helicopters — hitting it fast and hard. That’s the policy.”
How can the public do our part?
“Use common sense. Enjoy your life, but just use common sense and be careful. You get dry vegetation, a little bit of wind, a little bit of fire, no matter where you are, it’s going to burn.”
MENDOCINO COUNTY OFFICERS HELP REPLACE FLAG BURNED IN DIXIE FIRE
by Grace Yarrow
Two officers from Mendocino County assisted with replacing a flag in Greenville after the Dixie fire burned the majority of the Sierra Nevada town, the Ukiah Police Department shared in a Facebook post.
Ukiah officer Matthew Stout and Mendocino County probation officer Freitas have been on patrol in Plumas County, where the Dixie fire is burning, according to the post.
During Sunday’s patrol, the two helped an out-of-state fire chief raise a new flag above the devastated town.
The previous flag was ruined after an ember storm hit the town bringing 65 mph winds, according to the Ukiah Police Department.
The Dixie fire, which is now the single largest wildfire in California history, burned down 75% of the town, NBC reported Monday.
“Our continued thoughts and prayers remain with the Plumas County community and first responders who are working tirelessly to fight this fire,” the department said.
(Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
RALLY TO SAVE OUR FOREST Jackson State This Saturday UKIAH
We’re going inland! Come join us for a rally Saturday the 14th at the Alex Thomas Plaza in Ukiah from 10 to noon. There will be speakers, music and information tables. Come get involved and save your forest.
Let your inland friends know.
Alex Thomas Plaza in Ukiah from 10 to noon. There will be speakers, music and information tables. Come get involved and save your forest.
Let your inland friends know.
— Anna Marie Stenberg
COLLEGE PROFESSOR HELD IN WILDLAND ARSON SPREE Near California’s Massive Dixie Fire
A college professor suspected in a series of arson fires in remote forested areas of Northern California near the massive Dixie Fire has been charged in connection with one of the blazes in Lassen County and was ordered held Tuesday in the Sacramento County Main Jail.
Gary Stephen Maynard, 47, is believed to have worked at a number of colleges in California, including Santa Clara University and Sonoma State University, where a Dr. Gary Maynard is listed as a lecturer in criminal justice studies specializing in criminal justice, cults and deviant behavior.
PRESS RELEASE FROM THE CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR’S OFFICE:
Governor Gavin Newsom today proclaimed a state of emergency for Trinity County due to the McFarland and Monument fires; Tehama County due to the McFarland and Dixie fires; and Shasta County due to the McFarland Fire. The fires collectively have burned nearly 100,000 acres [in Trinity, Shasta, and Tehama counties], destroyed homes and caused the evacuation of thousands of residents.
The Governor on Saturday met with firefighters, local law enforcement and elected officials in Greenville, which was devastated by the Dixie Fire last week. California recently secured Fire Management Assistance Grants (FMAGs) from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to support the state’s response to the River Fire, Dixie Fire and Lava Fire. Governor Newsom has proclaimed a state of emergency in counties impacted by the Antelope and River fires, the Dixie, Fly and Tamarack fires and the Lava Fire and Beckwourth Complex.
The text of the proclamation can be found here.
CATCH OF THE DAY, August 10, 2021
IVY BODWIN, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
JOEY BONNER, Ukiah. DUI, suspended license for refusing chemical test, contempt of court.
EMILY CHRISTOPHER, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
JONATHAN CISNEROS, Hopland. Domestic battery.
ISAAC FINDSTHEFEATHER, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
LOUIS HODSON, Philo. Unspecified offense/book&release.
CORT MILLER, Covelo. Protective order violation.
JOHN PALACIOS, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
ADAM PEARSON, Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
MARTIN TORRES-AVENDANO, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. DUI, no license.
KYLEE WOOD, Willits. False ID, failure to appear, probation revocation.
MARCO TO ANTI-VAXXER VIDAVER
Angry at the unvaxed?
Judy Vidaver wrote:
…Also, you mention, “While the vaccinated remain largely protected from severe disease, even they can contract and carry a high viral load with or without symptoms.” I would add that there is a high likelihood that they, with their “high viral load” are the super spreaders. Much more likely, since they have the high viral load, while, presumably, the asymptomatic unvaxxed do not carry that load…
* * *
Marco here. Judy, you keep just picking and choosing words and phrases to misinterpret and react wrongly to. In fact: vaccinated people are hugely less likely than unvaccinated people to carry any viral load at all. But in rare cases even they can, so that's a good reason for continuing safe social distancing and wearing masks indoors. It's not because vaccination doesn't work, it's because it does, except that so many people have been persuaded by nonsense to not get vaccinated nor to wear a mask nor to avoid boisterous crowds or singing in church, the disease has plenty of hosts available to breed more contagious versions. And then the antivax community goes, "See, vaccination doesn't work, masks don't work, science doesn't work, doctors are idiots who don't know what they're talking about." It's frustrating because people are still dying from this crap and frankly, yes, it is your fault now.
Also, vaccination doesn't cause viruses, it stimulates defense against them. And it doesn't mutate your DNA, nor make spoons stick to your forehead, nor put you under control of aliens through 5G towers. All it does is make you way less likely to die or to kill people you care about.
Harper’s magazine recently published a survey of Americans who believe they can defeat different types of animals in an unarmed fight. Nine percent believe they could beat a crocodile, 8% believe they could beat an elephant, 8% believe they could beat a lion, and (my favorite) 6% believe they could beat a grizzly bear. I would bet these folks also think we can beat COVID-19 without getting vaccinated.
MCOE HOSTS MULTI-COUNTY EDUCATION CONFERENCE
Little River, CA. This week, the Mendocino County Office of Education (MCOE) hosted a retreat for eight county offices of education to discuss educational trends and share best practices. In addition to MCOE, participants included county offices from Alameda, Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Napa, San Diego, and Sonoma.
County offices of education are often siloed by their areas of expertise: educational services, business and finance, special education, advocacy and outreach, and so on. According to Mendocino County Superintendent of Schools Michelle Hutchins, the California County Superintendents Education Services Association (CCSESA) provides training and education for job-alike groups such as all county superintendents or all assistant superintendents of educational services, but they rarely bring multi-disciplinary groups together.
She said, “That’s what we do each year at this conference. We discuss the most pressing educational priorities and challenges, and how they affect our agencies and the districts we serve.”
This year’s three-day conference included presentations by top-level state leaders in education. On day one, attendees heard from Mary Nicely, Senior Advisor, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction at the California Department of Education; L.K. Monroe, President of CCSESA and Alameda County Superintendent of Schools; and a video presentation from Tony Thurmond, California Superintendent of Public Instruction. Day two featured Dr. Fabiola Bagula, Senior Director of Equity at the San Diego County Office of Education, who spoke on several equity-related topics. It also featured a working lunch during which Carl Corbin, general counsel for School and College Legal Services of California, presented an update regarding current legal issues in education. On day three, Matt Phillips, CPA Director of Management Consulting Services, School Services of California and Mike Fine, Chief Executive Officer of Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistant Team gave a talk titled, “The State of the State, Finance and Fiscal Update, and Advice.”
The conference focused primarily on the topics of budget and equity. In the wake of the pandemic, schools are receiving one-time funding to offset costs associated with the implementation of safety protocols and remote learning. Conference attendees discussed how these one-time monies could be apportioned to have the most positive and lasting effects for students.
According to Hutchins, attendees also did a “deep dive on equity” that was well received, even by those who were not enthusiastic about the topic. “Dr. Bagula’s presentation wasn’t about making one group feel guilty. Instead, she used a scientific approach to help each of us understand how human brains process information; she helped us become more aware of the mental processes involved in gaining knowledge.” Dr. Bagula’s presentation included information from the *Cognitive Bias Codex of 2016* <https://ritholtz.com/2016/09/cognitive-bias-codex/>.
Dr. Bagula also addressed the importance of providing educational materials that are relevant and inspirational for various groups of students. For example, instead of providing a 14-year-old English learner with young children”s books because the language is simpler, Dr. Bagula recommended a lesson of interpreting a utility bill—an exercise that is relevant, useful, and appropriate for the student’s grade level. “That’s equity,” Hutchins explained.
Hutchins continued, “Overall it was a great conference. The high vaccination rate among attendees allowed us to meet in person, which added so much to the experience. We were mindful of safety protocols and grateful to the staff at Little River Inn who worked with us to provide a high quality experience with comfortable accommodations and excellent service, even though they, like many in the hospitality industry, are currently short-staffed. Most importantly, as educators and leaders, we deepened our knowledge of how to support each other as we support the students in our counties.”
IN 1988, ISRAEL KAMAKAWIWO'OLE called the recording studio at 3am and said he has to record a song right away. 15 minutes later, Israel arrived at the studio. The studio owner, Milan Bertosa said, "And in walks the largest human being I had seen in my life."
“I put up some microphones, do a quick sound check, roll tape, and the first thing he does is 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow.' He played and sang, one take, and it was over."
Today, Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's version, is the most requested one of this classic song.
Oasis was in many Mendocino Theater Company plays that I made sound effects and selected music for, so of course I saw those plays over and over in rehearsals. I especially remember Off the Map, which MTC did way better than the movie, the same way everything Gloriana Opera Company did everything better than the movie of whatever they did. In Off the Map Oasis played a severely depressed Vietnam veteran in a family living mostly self-sufficiently in the American desert. They take in and nurse back to health and sanity an IRS agent who opens the play nearly dying of exposure trying to find them to charge them back taxes -- the IRS agent was the actor who played Dr. Posner in Wit; I don't remember his name. Savvy played the little girl at the center of the story.
At one point Oasis' character's earth-mother-type wife couldn't stand things anymore and tried dosing Oasis' food with stimulants. Oasis became terrified and terrifying. He was a pretty good actor to be able to stretch into that, from how calm and quiet and peaceful he always was.
A thing he used to do in real life anywhere there was music -- a concert, a singing show, whatever: he'd get up out of his seat into the aisle or into the space beside the seating, like in Crown Hall, or between the seats and the raised stage, and dance lightly and airily as if floating on the wind, entirely un-selfconsciously, alone -- and I kind of admired him for that. One time about 25 years ago I sat down in crowded Headlands Coffeehouse across from him, we were talking -- mostly I was talking, as usual, and it occurred to me to tell him about admiring that quality and ability of his to do something I could never force myself to do in a million years. I used the term flitting around like a fairy. I meant a fairy, you know, like the fairies in a fairy story, flitting around, but you can see how it would sound. I think he might have been high, because it took about a minute for it to sank in wrong and he startled and made the most amazing complicated flashbulb-rage/amused/manic face at me, which I now see that he used just a little while after that in Off the Map.
Also Dainus just died, I read. I didn't know that was how to spell it. You say dinosaur but without the aur part. I remember him from the Community School. They had a memorial for him last Saturday in Caspar.
— Marco McClean, firstname.lastname@example.org, https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com
EARLY IN THE MORNING
Early in the morning and I can't do right
Had a little fight with my baby last night and it's early in the morning
Don'chu know it's early in the morning
Early in the morning
I ain't got nothing, no nothing but the blues
I went to your girlfriend's house
But she was out
I knocked on your daddy's door
But he began to shout and he said
It's early in the morning
Don'chu know it's early in the morning
Early in the morning
I ain't got nothing, no nothing but the blues
I went to Dooky Chase to get somethin' to eat
Waitress looked at me said, "Harry, you sure look beat"
And I said, It's early in the morning
Don'chu know it's early in the morning
Early in the morning [X8]
Ain't got nothing, but the [X6]
— Dallas Bartley, Leo Hickman, Louis Jordan
MASS DEATH ON BUTTE CREEK: Record Spring Salmon Run on Sacramento River Tributary Turns into Disaster as Most Fish Die Before Spawning
by Dan Bacher
In an extreme drought year where nearly all juvenile Sacramento River winter run Chinook salmon are expected to die before spawning due to alleged water mismanagement by the state and federal governments, the return of a record run of adult spring run Chinook salmon on Butte Creek this year was welcome news.
But it didn’t stay that way.
A record run of over 18,000 spring Chinook has returned to Butte Creek, a Sacramento River tributary, the second largest since 20,000 fish ascended the creek in 1998, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, or CDFW. Allen Harthorn, Executive Director of Friends of Butte Creek, estimates the size of this year’s run to be even larger, around 25,000 fish.
Yet this has all changed recently. The potential of a successful spawn becomes increasingly dim as thousands of adult spring run salmon on Butte Creek die before spawning.
“Disaster is really hitting home on Butte Creek, where over 12,000 adult spring run salmon have died prematurely,” said Harthorn. “There may be only a few thousand left to spawn if we’re lucky.”
The CDFW detailed in their latest snorkel survey report on the creek that 12,370 salmon have died before spawning from June 1 to July 27, 2021.
“The water is so turbid and they are so busy counting carcasses they can’t get a good estimate of how many fish are left,” noted Harthorn.
The fish deaths were caused by heat-related oxygen deficiency and the outbreak of two fish diseases, ich and columnaris, as a result, according to the CDFW pathologist report. These two diseases were the same ones that killed over 38,000 adult fall run Chinook salmon on the lower Klamath River on the Yurok Reservation in September 2002.
Spring run are a distinct run of Chinook salmon that have evolved over millions of years to ascend the high elevation tributaries of the Sacramento River to spawn every spring. They are river-maturing fish that don’t spawn until fall.
Some of the last best habitat for wild spring Chinook salmon exists in the eastern tributaries of the Sacramento River, including Battle Creek, Mill Creek, Deer Creek and Butte Creek, where they spawn up to 5,000 feet in elevation. These fish have been for decades protected from recreational angling once they enter the tributaries, but they still face other key stressors, according to California Trout.
At this time, since a number of dams have been already removed on the creek, the key factor leading to the fish kill and stopping the restoration of the wild Chinooks is the continued operation of the PG&E hydroelectric project and other water diversions.
PG&E’s De Sabla/Centerville project brings West Branch Feather River water over the mountain from Phillbook Reservoir and Round Valley Reservoir to Butte Creek to be used for hydroelectric power.
“I’m still processing this fish kill,” said Harthorn. “It’s mind-boggling. The agencies’ refusal to hold PGE&E’s feet to fire is pathetic – they need to get this hydroelectric project out of the way. They have been pussyfooting for years about installing a temperature control device at DeSabla Reservoir. We have to seriously talk about getting fish into cold water upstream and PG&E out of the way.”
The solution is to get the salmon into the upper creek habitat all of the way to Butte Meadows, according to Harthorn.
“We have to allow fish to swim into the upper watershed and make sure that the water is cold by not diverting it out of the stream,” stated Harthorn. “What a tragedy it is to lose so many fish when there’s available habitat and available water and a failing PG&E hydroelectric system is the only thing in the way.”
He added, “If we get PG&E out of the way – and release the full flow of Butte Creek, now about 75 cfs at Butte Head Dam – that habitat may very well support hundreds if not thousands of spring salmon. Water temperatures are much colder upstream than where they are holding.”
Harthorn noted that PG&E is diverting 90 percent of the flow at Butte Head Dam for “very minimal” hydroelectric production.
On February 2, 2017, PG&E announced that it was withdrawing its application for a new license for the project from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, citing “California’s changing energy landscape and rising operating costs” at the Desabla-Centerville facility.” In a statement, the company said the facility is “no longer economically viable for PG&E’s electric customers.”
PG&E has been trying to sell the project since then – they have an energy company, Toll House, with a subsidiary, Deadwood Hydroelectric, in mind for taking over the project. Friends of Butte Creek is suggesting that another hydroelectric company take over the project, decommission the hydroelectric project and bring water from the West Branch directly to Butte Creek, preferably in a tunnel.
“This is real spring run habitat, with real wild fish and real protection,” Harthorn stressed. “When it comes to expanding habitat, this is probably the best path possible to expand salmon habitat in California. Prior to the fish kill, we had over 18,000 fish knocking at the door, with no trucks involved and no recapturing of juveniles needed. It’s a wild system that operates the way it should, but we have to get the hydroelectric project out of the way.”
The record year for spring run Chinook salmon was in 1998, when over 20,000 spring chinook entered the creek, making this the second biggest year, according to the CDFW.
Harthorn has a theory for why Butte Creek saw such a big run this year — the added sediment in the runoff from the Camp Fire gave the salmon smolts cover from predators as they moved downstream into Butte Slough, Sutter Bypass and the Sacramento River on their journey to the ocean.
“Most of these fish are three-year-olds, the juvenile fish that began emerging from the gravel in November 2018,” he explained. “That was the year the Camp Fire broke out and raged across Paradise and the Butte Creek Canyon, destroying over half of the homes in the canyon. Because of the destruction, 150 homes were reduced to toxic rubble. We were wondering what would happen to the juvenile fish when the stuff washed into the creek.”
He went on, “There was an organized effort to distribute and place erosion control materials along 75 homes burned out on Butte Creek. Despite these efforts, there was a tremendous amount of toxic runoff. Most agency people feared all would be destroyed. But instead what we saw is perhaps the largest run in memory.”
To get to their spawning grounds, spring Chinook swim up from the Sacramento River through Sutter Bypass into Butte Slough, which runs into Butte Creek. A major fish kill in Sutter Bypass took place this March, when over 100 springers died when the water into the bypass was shut off.
The spring Chinook also swam upriver to the Butte Slough outfall gate below Colusa on the Sacramento River. They bashed their heads against the outfall gates for weeks before the Department of Water Resources opened the gate in late March, under pressure from the NorCal Guides and Sportsmen’s Association. “Once the gates opened, we saw fish with scars on their heads by the hundreds,” said Harthorn.
The temperature gage at Butte Creek near Chico is about four miles above Highway 99, one mile below the covered bridge, downstream of where most of the fish are holding. Temperatures at the gage have generally been running between 70 and 80 degrees.
Conservationists hope the creek will recover from this year’s avoidable disaster, and this will spur the agencies to get serious about protecting endangered fish.
“If anybody is looking where to expand habitat for spring Chinook, they need to look at Butte Creek. We have the habitat and we have the wild fish,” emphasized Harthorn.
“We are stunned to learn that over 12,000 adult spring run salmon have died pre-spawn on Butte Creek. We are hoping some hardy fish will make it through; the water is getting cooler,” he concluded.
Friends of Butte Creek is currently conducting a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to help secure additional water rights for Butte Creek. Eventually that water will be given back to the ecosystem, mainly for conservation of the endangered spring Chinook. You can help by going to ButteCreek.Org and making a donation.
(Dan Bacher is an environmental journalist in Sacramento. He can be reached at: Dan Bacher email@example.com.)