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Off The Record

COUNTY GOVERNMENT, always abreast of breaking news, distributed this unsigned announcement Monday: “Dear County Employees, The County flags will be flown at half mast as a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless act of violence perpetrated shortly after midnight on July 20th, 2012 in Aurora, Colorado. The flags will remain at half-mast until sunset on July 25, 2012. Thank you, Executive Office.”

IT'S A GIVEN THAT OLD GLORY has been mis-invoked and abused many times over our long and occasionally glorious history, but that's no excuse for CEO Carmel Angelo to totally trivialize it. The Aurora slaughter was a bad one but hardly shocking in a country where a million senseless acts of violence, and even thousands of sensible ones, are a daily fact of life. Rather than insincere flag-brandishings, how about an admission, or at least a Big Think discussion, of how it is that a very young man can become so isolated, so crazed that he opens fire on a theater packed with his fellow citizens? Think there might be something fundamentally wrong with the way we're organized? Think it might have something to do with the rightwing's constant lie that there's no money for public services because cops, firemen and CalTrans workers' pensions are too big? Think it might have something to do with the fact that the country is being systematically looted by the One Percent? Think it might have something to do with how our degraded media have already driven most of us over the age of 12 totally batshit?

INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE for House of Representatives in Pennsylvania's 16th congressional district John Murphy congratulated the Green Party on what very well may be a major comeback effort on Tuesday. The Green Party suffered major setbacks in 2004 and in 2008 when it did not back the candidacy of Ralph Nader. At that time the leadership of the Green Party had fallen into the hands of people who were fearful of hurting the Democrat Party. Murphy said, “it looks like their presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein has the guts to stand up to the politics of fear promulgated by the corporate owned parties.” Although unable to attend the Green's convention, Murphy said he was extremely happy to see that the Green Party had chosen for its keynote speaker Gar Alperovitz, the prominent professor of political economy from the University of Maryland. In his remarks Alperovitz reminded the nation that the top 400 wealthiest Americans owned more wealth than the bottom 185 MILLION Americans. “Think about that,” said Murphy, “400 people have more wealth than over half of the American people! Those are the 400 people who fund and drive the funding of the two corporate parties that have absolutely no intention of doing anything to improve the situation for working and poor Americans.” Murphy went on to say that “the corporate owned parties continue to practice the politics of fear and hatred. They count on being able to label other people whether here at home or abroad as some kind of an enemy. They use wedge issues to prevent American working people from coming together to solve their problems.” Murphy pointed out that the two corporate political parties continue using the rhetoric of the 18th century in a vain effort to explain the problems of the 21st century. Murphy, who favors a democratized economy as much as he favors a democratized government, went on to say that “more and more people are finally starting to remember that socialism is not a dirty word and that capitalism has enslaved them, creating a new feudal system with a ruling class that is phenomenally wealthy and a working class that has become a new breed of serf.” Murphy took particular aim at the Democratic candidate who recently came out in favor of the doctrine of “American exceptionalism.” Murphy said that “Democrat candidate Aryanna Strader actually thinks that the doctrine of ‘American exceptionalism’ which allowed European Americans to commit genocide on Native Americans is a great idea. It was the doctrine of American exceptionalism that allowed President Clinton to murder over a million innocent men women and children in Iraq with bombs and sanctions in the name of spreading democracy. American exceptionalism means that the United States can do anything it wants, no matter how brutal, by committing these atrocities in the name of spreading democracy and freedom. Yet it condemns other nations as criminal for committing the same crimes.” Murphy said that Strader made her defense of ‘American exceptionalism’ in a recent article that appeared in “The Mercury,” a Pottsville-based newspaper. “Strader has all the qualities of Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman,” quipped the irascible independent. “Clearly Strader has no concept of what is going on around her politically, economically or culturally. Actually telling people that the doctrine of American exceptionalism is something to be revered tells us a great deal about this carpetbagger candidate who lives in another congressional district — as well as an alternate reality. The last thing that we need in the beginning of the 21st-century is a person who idealizes the philosophy that justified the slaughter committed by the American people since the foundation of our Republic. The only thing we know about this candidate is that she is a ‘mom'. Everything Strader says centers around her being a 'mom’ instead of her being an engaged candidate for House of Representatives. Imagine if my analysis of the economy, unemployment and foreign policy was based upon my simply being a dad!” concluded the inimitable independent.

RIGHT ON COMMENT from Tommy Wayne Kramer's right-on Sunday column in the Ukiah Daily Journal: “The governor recently appointed two new judges, which means we have one Superior Court judge for every 23 residents of Mendocino County. Much cool! It also means there are now two more people in favor of building a new courthouse in Ukiah.”

MENDO SPORTS HISTORY, a reader writes: “After reading the AVA for 20 years I finally found a mistake. (sic) Seb Coe never set foot in Mendocino Co. It was his archrival, Steve Ovett. They are commonly associated as they are both English, were the two best milers in the world, each won Olympic gold medals in 1980 (Ovett 800 meters, Coe 1500 meters) and exchanged world records in the mile and 1500 meters over the early '80's. I was there and saw Ovett put on his racing shoes while sitting against the side of a barn (long gone) on Orchard Ave. This was the only year that there was a mile race (run basically around the Pear Tree shopping center). The field included 8-9 guys who were four-minute milers. Ovett won in 3:55-3:56. A couple days later my son, a college kid who worked at Penny's, sold Ovett a suitcase. The traditional Penofin race was a 10K (6.2 miles) which started at the Penofin offices on Lake Mendocino Drive, turned south onto State and finished at the Seventh Day Adventist School 200 yards west of the end of State Street. The winner would get $5-7K (unsure of the amount) and there was money for the top ten. This attracted top quality runners, many from Africa. They would come in 4-5 days before the race. I lived on Stanley on the west side and from my front porch would see skinny black guys on training runs, their feet not touching the ground. The Ovett race was on Saturday. He ran in the 10K the following day, but jogged it as a light workout, finishing 30th or 40th.”

AND THIS COUNTY'S PREMIER Senior runner, Jim Gibbons, fresh off yet another triumph, age 68, finishing fourth overall in the 9th Annual 5k Redwood Run in Ukiah, elaborates: “Your mention of the '86 Penofin race last week, which made me look it up and realize Seb Coe did NOT run the Sub 4 Invitational Mile. In fact, there was NO mile in '86, just the 10K. The Sub4 Mile was the year before, when Steve Ovett outkicked five others who all finished under 4 minutes! A first for California! Coe was there, but only as a rep for Nike, he didn't run, though he did hold the world record in both the mile and the 800 meters. I'm in the process of writing about it, though I'm trying to find Jerry Drew (I don't know why he's hiding out) and discuss it. Hopefully I can finish this piece before putting it away again for another 26 years!"

WE TRIED to look up the Penofin Sub 4 but all we could find is a garbled account on the Ukiah Daily Journal's website that was so garbled I was forced to resort to my hazy memory of those foot races. Much appreciate the clarifications because they were big events, and wonderful of Penofin to have sponsored them.

LAKE COUNTY'S SUPERVISORS have given up their attempt to reason with the Marijuana Beast. On a 4-1 vote they've dismantled the County's Medical Marijuana Cultivation Advisory Board. A member of the advisory group named Don Merrill, and several other pot advocates, have sued Lake County, this suit apparently being the last straw for the Lake County supervisors in their ongoing efforts to placate Lake's marijuana advocates.

MERRILL'S SUIT arises from a temporary ordinance that Lake's supervisors enacted a week ago. The action claims the stipulations of that ordinance are too restrictive. The supervisors had increased the number of plants allowed to be grown on an interim 45-day basis. It allowed up to six mature plants to be grown outdoors on parcels smaller than a half-acre, and more plants on larger acreages up to 48 plants for co-ops farming more than 40 acres.

THE CANNABIS LOBBY thought the deal far too restrictive, although it had been worked out by the advisory committee itself. When Merrill, a member of that committee filed suit against the County, Lake's supervisors, rather aghast at the perceived treachery, washed their hands of the advisory committee.

LAST YEAR, LAKE COUNTY had adopted an ordinance that banned all outdoor growing but backed off when growers threatened to mobilize the pot brigades for a referendum aimed at allowing 84 plants. The 84 referendum was shot down by Lake's voters in the June election.

AND DON'T FORGET to lipstick the pig! The ostensible owner of Ukiah's long-abandoned Palace Hotel appeared before the Ukiah City Council on Wednesday night as the Council considered a resolution that would turn over abatement of the stately old structure to the town's Public Works Department, which might result in demolition. The Palace's perhaps owner, Eladia Laines, of San Rafael, said she was still unable to provide clear title to the building and that the Mendocino County Air Quality Management District had not yet given permission for rehab work to proceed inside.

RIGHT ABOUT THERE one would have thought someone would have been thinking out loud, “If this person may not even own the building, and Air Quality's famously obstructionist jive-o one-man Ukiah office can't get off the dime to approve work on the place, and if the perhaps owner Ms. Laines seems to have fallen out with one contractor who'd started to do a few things but was stopped by the aforementioned Air Quality jive-o, and Ms. Laines has no firm plan or apparent financial ability to do much of anything at all, we better eminent domain this sucker and take it from there. After all, What To Do With The Palace Hotel has been under discussion now for what? 30 years, at least since Vince Sisco tried to burn it down for the insurance.

THAT'S NOT WHAT happened. What happened was a staggering conversation that saw the inevitable Ms. Rodin worrying about tarps on the roof of the Palace's crumbling edifice, and Ms. Laines assuring the Council that she'd kicked the project around “conceptually” with unnamed architects.

UKIAH'S Judy Pruden said she'd been working to get work on the Palace moving along, as most people in and out of Ukiah would like to see the Palace somehow restored, or at least preserved because it's in the center of town and is the neighborhood's sole, large-size structure we can look at without being hospitalized with suicidal thoughts.

BUT MS. LAINES said she was in the process of getting bids for work on the Palace's roof, and that pre-recession, she'd done “extensive conceptual work with architects” on an overall restoration plan for the Palace. Laines said work on the roof was her first priority, at which point, according to Ukiah Daily Journal reporter Justine Frederickson, councilman Mari Rodin asked, “What if the rainy season comes and we don't have a roof?” Rodin said she didn't want to see “blue tarps” up there.

THE COUNCIL will again discuss the future of the Palace Hotel at its August 1st meeting.

CHARLIE DELFINO OF CLOVERDALE writes of his son Mitch's signing with the Giants: “Mitch has signed with the Giants and it's been an amazing ride already! We are so excited! The day he was brought into the organization was the day that Matt Cain pitched his perfect game! The Giants invited him to go that day to get his physical, and sign his contract. We showed up (Debbi, Mitch, myself, and Mitch's agent) to the executive offices as we were told and the ride began… Bobby Evans, the guy Mark knows who is the right hand man for General Manager Brian Sabean and the one who negotiates all the contracts, etc. met with us and gave us all day passes that gave us access to the field, the dugout, the announcer’s booth, and all the executive dining, media dining, etc! They took Mitch down into the locker room and started on his physical while Deb, the agent, and I were on the field watching the batting practice, etc. Then Mitch came back out as we stood at the dugout watching player after player came up to Mitch to shake his hand and congratulate him and welcome him to the organization. They all shook our hands as well. Buster Posey came over, Brandon Belt came and asked Mitch what position he played and when he said third, he laughed and said ‘Good, as long as it's not first base.’ Pablo Sandoval came over and shook our hands and then threw Mitch his baseball glove and said ‘Go on out there, I hear you are the guy who is going to take my position some day,’ and hung out for awhile. Bruce Botchy came out and said he remembers watching Mitch play at AT&T Park when Cal played there two years ago and that he had quite a day against Rice. (That's when Mitch went 4 for 5 and hit a ball off the left field wall.) He asked Mitch if he thought he could hit one out of here and Mitch said absolutely! Botchy told Bobby Evans to take him down and get him in a uniform so he could hit in batting practice. Bobby had to remind him that Mitch hadn't completed his physical yet and he'd have to wait. Botchy told Mitch anytime he wants to come hit with the team he is welcome :-) They took Mitch down again and while he was down there he saw Matt Cain all focused and watching TV by himself, so he said ‘Hey Matt, good luck tonight’ and Matt said, ‘Thanks.’ So of course Mitch feels he's a part of the perfect game. LOL. Then, as he's walking down the hall he hears, ‘Hey Kid, come here.’ It's Willie Mays! Willie asked him to sit down with him and talk some ball. He asked Mitch what position he plays, etc. Then he asked a lady to get him a baseball and he signed it for Mitch. Then, he asked the same lady for his silver pen and then asked Mitch to sign his table! Mitch looked down and saw all these hall of famers’ signatures and he signed his name next to Johnny Bench's signature! They gave us tickets in row 4 behind the owners and we saw the perfect game up close. He passed all the physicals but they found a little heart murmur and wanted to have him come back the next day to have it checked. He had the same thing when he was young but it went away. The next day they had Debbi park in the players’ parking area and he checked out fine and signed his contract! The Giants agreed to pay for the rest of his Cal education whenever his career is over! He considered going back to Cal for his senior year but found out just how bad the draft can be on Seniors. Our catcher from Petaluma was drafted in the 13th round his junior year and was offered $75K but he came back his senior year in hopes of being drafted higher. He was… the 9th round. He was drafted in a $135,000 slot but the team only offered him $10K and said take it or leave it because he was now a senior and he had no negotiating power, etc. They pay him the $10K and use the rest of the slot money for their higher round picks that were juniors, etc. Plus, Mitch had his best year at Cal, he was drafted by the hometown Giants, etc. So he chose to sign and start his career with the great Giants! He was flown out first class, given a hotel room with another player, meal money each day plus they feed them steak and potatoes and other meals as well. He is loving it! He has started out slow hitting, but he's only five games into it so far and getting used to the wood bats again. He's been hitting some shots for outs and in his debut he hit a double that bounced off the top of the wall almost a home run! He's in Arizona with the rookies and they said they will be moving him to Salem, Oregon at some point for low A ball and he'll work his way up.”

MENDO SUPERIOR COURT JUDGE David Nelson has issued a peculiar ruling in David Gurney's open meeting suit versus Fish & Game, the state of California and related et als. Gurney, of Fort Bragg, two years ago attended a meeting of tax-paid entities, a number of whom attended in uniform, the whole mob of them funded by state government.

GURNEY was ordered not to record the meeting. When he persisted, Gurney was placed under arrest. He is one of many persons attempting to modify, in a way that makes it more inclusive, California’s Marine Life Protection Act.

ACCORDING TO NELSON, MLPA staff, its commercial contractors, and the 34-member “North Coast Regional Stakeholders Group” (NCRSG) were not bound by the state's open meeting laws.

ADDITIONALLY, THE REQUIRED PUBLIC comment period at the April 20-21, 2010 MLPAI public meetings, which “Initiative” facilitators failed to provide, was also ruled superfluous by the Ukiah judge.

ALTHOUGH UNIFORMED California State Fish and Game Wardens were providing security, and a quorum of over 25 California Department of Fish and Game officials and MLPA “I Team” contractors were present, along with the “stakeholders,” at the two-day meetings, the judge found that “the NCRSG is not a state body subject to the Bagley-Keene Open Meetings Act.”

NELSON DECLARED that the North Coast Regional Stakeholders Group was neither a state body nor an advisory committee subject to the law. According to language in the ruling:

THE NCRSG is not a state body “created by statute” as defined in Government Code 11121(a); It is also clear that the NCRSG is not an advisory committee “created by formal action” of [a] state body or any member of a state body; The NCRSG was not “created by formal action of the legislature or any other state body.” (Again, kind of like spontaneous combustion, the committee just happened.)

AT THE BEGINNING of the two-day, April 2010 MLPAI “North Coast Regional Stakeholders Group” meetings, reporter Gurney was ordered by privately contracted facilitators to cease recording the proceedings. He continued several times to try to acquire background footage of the NCRSG being divided into two groups against their previous vote. He also sought footage of the computerized “marine map decision tool” —being introduced by MLPAI facilitators to determine ocean closures. He was ordered several times to quit recording.

NEAR THE END of the second day of meetings, during a question and answer period, Mr. Gurney asked why the MLPA “Initiative” was not addressing ocean industrialization issues besides fishing, as mandated in the 1999 Marine Life Protection Act. The response of the “Initiative’s” private contractors was to order the arrest of Mr. Gurney by a uniformed California Fish and Game warden.

INITIALLY, MLPAI officials argued that the two-day NCRSG meetings were “workshops” — and so exempt from Bagley-Keene open meeting law. When these arguments failed, the Office of the Attorney General and private attorneys for the MLPA “I-Team” asserted that the entire “stakeholders” process was not subject to state law, and that the group was not an advisory committee, nor state body of any kind. (Again, it had just sorta kinda self-materialized.)

THE NCRSG ultimately went on to create the “unified proposal” that was approved by the MLPAI’s “Blue Ribbon Task Force,” and sent on for adoption by the California Fish and Game Commission as the basis for public fishing/gathering closures on the North Coast. The NCRSG recommendations will be written into law within the next year.

GURNEY, along with Attorney Peter Martin of Eureka, California filed a lawsuit two years ago against the privately funded MLPA “Initiative,” and the state of California, for among other things, violations of California's Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act laws, and state and federal guarantees for freedom of the press and freedom of speech. Final resolution of the case is pending.

FURTHER INFO and reactions to Nelson's ruling, go to Gurney’s NOYO NEWS blog, Contact Info: David Gurney, Jugglestone Productions, P.O. Box 2150, Fort Bragg, CA 95437 Tel: 707-961-1339 and/or Peter Martin, Law Offices, 917 Third Street, Eureka, CA 95501 Tel: 707-268-0445.

THE GOOD NEWS! A press release wafting out of Sacramento tells us: “The Judicial Council working group overseeing the judicial branch’s facilities program met on Wednesday in Sacramento to discuss criteria for scaling back statewide courthouse projects in light of the recent budget cuts to the judicial branch. By next year, nearly $1.5 billion of court user fees originally designated by the Legislature to be set aside for court construction will have been borrowed, transferred to the General Fund, or redirected to court operations. This year the Legislature directed that another $50 million be permanently diverted annually from the court construction program to trial court operations — which requires eliminating upwards of $500 million in projects.”

THIS MAY MEAN an end to the Mendocino County Superior Court’s meglomaniacal plan to foist off a new Courthouse on Ukiah and the people of Mendocino County: “The court construction program must be radically refocused to accommodate the new fiscal realities of the judicial branch and the state,” said Justice Brad R. Hill, chair of the Court Facilities Working Group and Administrative Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Fifth Appellate District. “Our previous approach of reducing construction costs, while necessary and continuing, is likely to be inadequate. We now know that we will not be able to undertake all projects originally planned. I know this is distressing news for courts that have waited a long time to replace deteriorating facilities and I am committed to making this process open and transparent. The sad truth is that four years of deep budget cuts to the judicial branch have had and will continue to have significant impacts on court operations. These operational changes may also affect where new courthouses should be located and how large they need to be. These changes, along with significant cuts to court construction funding, dictate a fundamental relook at the slate of projects originally approved in 2008...”

THE COUNTY OF MENDOCINO and something called BI Incorporated, “an innovative criminal justice program for non-violent adult probationers,” will host an open house on Thursday, July 26, from 11am to 2pm at Mendocino County Day Reporting Center, located at 579 Low Gap Road.

TURNS OUT the County has sub-contracted out the Probation Department's work, or at least a hunk of it, to a private company. So, how much does BI Incorporated charge for doing Probation's work, and why can't Probation do the work we're already paying it to do?

A PRELIMINARY LOOK at California State Parks’ finances has revealed that for at least 12 years the department under-reported tens of millions of dollars to the state Department of Finance. As a result, the Department of Finance was not aware that the State Parks and Recreation Fund and the Off Highway Vehicle Fund held $20,378,000 and $33,492,000 respectively above their official, most recently reported balances. The under-reporting occurred over the course of two prior gubernatorial administrations.

MEANING, there's been plenty of dough to keep Hendy Woods and the rest of Mendocino County state-run parks up and running, so much dough one is staggered by the incompetence of the persons who claimed State Parks was broke.

PARKS DIRECTOR Ruth Coleman has resigned and the department’s acting chief deputy is also being removed from his position.

THE STATE PARKS and Recreation Fund was established in 1979. Its sources of revenue are fees, rentals and returns collected for the use of any state park system area. It can be used for resource management and protection, planning, acquisition and development projects.

THE OFF HIGHWAY Vehicle Trust Fund was established in 1971. Its sources of revenues are off-highway vehicle registration fees, transfer fees, penalties, fines and forfeitures. It can only be used for acquisitions, development, construction, maintenance, administration and conservation of areas for the use of off-highway motor vehicles.

STATE PARKS HIDDEN ASSETS were discovered when new Parks fiscal staff began an internal review of accounts, following a separate investigation by the Attorney General over unauthorized vacation buy-outs. The moves come in the wake of a scandal, revealed by The Sacramento Bee on Sunday, in which a deputy director at State Parks carried out a secret vacation buyout program for employees [actually top parks department executives] at department headquarters last year. That buyout cost the state more than $271,000.” (The AVA reported this last year based on an employee tip, but we were told that the number was closer to $600k, so there will probably a lot more to this scandal as it unfolds.)

ASSOCIATED PRESS REPORTS that California lawmakers have handed out raises to more than 1,000 employees of the Legislature in the last year, even as they made deep budget cuts and trimmed pay for other state workers. The news comes as Democrats promote a November ballot initiative seeking to temporarily raise income and sales taxes to help ease California's ongoing budget woes.

NEWLY RELEASED documents show that officials in the state Assembly and Senate approved raises as high as 10% for some top-level staffers. More than 110 of the 1,090 raises given out in the last fiscal year went to legislative employees who were making salaries above $100,000, according to the Los Angeles Times, which first reported the raises.

SENATE PRESIDENT Pro Tem Darrel Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said he would seek to freeze pay increases in the Senate for the coming year, but the Assembly has not made any such move.

STEINBERG'S SPOKESMAN, Rhys Williams, said the merit increases came after several years of pay freezes and reductions in operating expenses in the Legislature. He said the cost of living has risen much faster than legislative pay over the last five years.

“THE REPUBLICAN members have given their staff raises as well. They are nonpartisan staff … They all fall in the same category, which is having seen their pay overtaken by inflation,” Williams said Friday.

HE SAID all the raises were merit increases based upon performance reviews and that lawmakers who objected were free to reject the recommended raises for employees under their purview.

STEINBERG'S chief assistant, Kathryn Dresslar, was among those who received pay raises, a 10% increase to $183,480 a year.

CHRISTOPHER WOODS, chief budget consultant for Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, was the highest paid employee to receive a raise, of 3.6%, which puts his annual pay at $193,476.

JON WALDIE, chief administration officer for the Assembly Rules Committee, said more than 200 of the 300 Assembly staffers who received merit increases were lower-paid support staff. He said employees who had not had a merit increase in at least three years were eligible to receive increases between 3.6% and 5%, with lower-paid staff getting the higher percentage increase. About 200 additional Assembly employees received “reclassification” increases when they changed jobs, Waldie said.

MEANWHILE, thousands of state employees are being required to take one day a month of unpaid leave, which amounts to a pay cut of about 5%. The reduction was part of the state budget that lawmakers approved last month and signed by Brown.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Every Senator in this chamber is partly responsible for sending 50,000 young Americans to an early grave. This chamber reeks of blood. Every Senator here is partly responsible for that human wreckage at Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval and all across our land — young men without legs, or arms, or genitals, or faces or hopes. There are not very many of these blasted and broken boys who think this war is a glorious adventure. Do not talk to them about bugging out, or national honor or courage. It does not take any courage at all for a congressman, or a senator, or a president to wrap himself in the flag and say we are staying in Vietnam, because it is not our blood that is being shed. But we are responsible for those young men and their lives and their hopes. And if we do not end this damnable war those young men will some day curse us for our pitiful willingness to let the Executive carry the burden that the Constitution places on us. This chamber reeks of blood.” — George McGovern, 1970

YOU DON'T HEAR of suicides off the Golden Gate Bridge because the Bay Area media don't report them. There were 37 confirmed last year, putting the total number at 1600 known jumpers, a figure that would be considerably larger but the remains of many last-leapers are never found. For years, the Golden Gate Bridge District has preferred the non-reporting policy because the constant flow of suicides off the landmark tarnished its magnificence as both artifact and tourist draw. The Bridge District also resisted a suicide barrier for aesthetic reasons, as did many influential Bay Area citizens. The thinking was that it was better to let a few leapers leap than it was to ruin the Bridge's iconic appearance. But the sheer volume of suicides off the Bridge, combined with the testimony of survivors that they certainly wouldn't choose to do it again, and probably wouldn't have attempted oblivion from the Bridge in the first place if it weren't so convenient, so romantically compelling, finally convinced the Bridge District to erect a suicide barrier, which has turned out to be a net, a diaphanous net, barely visible. It will catch jumpers and, as the depressed soon learn that they can't end it all from Golden Gate Bridge, the Bridge will no longer beckon the despairing as a convenient means to end it all. Some $45 million federal dollars, have been preliminarily allocated to build and install the net.

RECOMMENDED READING: In an excellent piece by Laura Rena Murray in last week's SF Weekly called “Collapse of the Vanguard,” Ms. Murray details how “A con man, a leftist hero, and white guilt have brought down a storied foundation.” The “storied” Vanguard Foundation disappeared in 2006, and millions of dollars had already disappeared with its “heroic” founder, Hari Dillon, who packed his board of directors with famous “leftists” as he and a character called Mouli Cohen helped themselves to the millions that duped liberals sent to them to do good with. Skeptics were, as usual, denounced as reactionaries, racists and so on as these two guys looted the thing.

THE SAME KIND of vilification and non-personing by dwarf Stalinists continues on what's left of the left, as long-time members and listeners of KPFA can tell you. Fraud happens when (1) grasping little cliques of self-certified “radicals” manage to get themselves put in charge of the money and (2) starstruck liberal groupies get out their checkbooks as soon as they spot Ed Asner on the masthead. (Whenever I spot a movie star or some music bigwig on a lib-lab masthead, I run out into the street and..... “Dude, here's a twenty, a gun and a map to this guy's house. If you pull it off I've got 30 for you.”)

CLOSER TO HOME, a small group of NorCal crooks are still collecting money under several “non-profits” to save Headwaters and to help Daryl Cherney find the person or persons who bombed Judi Bari! (Cherney often joins Scott Peterson and OJ in a tripartite house-to-house for their respective villains. BTW, we're still on the hunt for the mother of the infant that Cherney has lately brandished at showings of his movie, “Who Bombed Judi Bari As Channeled by Kim Il Sung.”)

THE BIG FIRES in the Mendocino National Forest have been declared “contained” and have been moved into “mop up” phase by CalFire. The fire burned almost 30,000 acres and produced clouds of gray soot that filled the area’s air for days. CalFire hasn’t determined the cause of the blazes, which began on July 7. Five outbuildings were consumed but no homes or people were lost. Four firefighters reported minor injuries of the sprained ankle type. Firefighting was aided in recent days by cooler temperatures and higher humidities. The “Mill Fire,” as it was called, was reported to have burned hotter than most fires, enabling it to spread faster as flaming tree crowns spewed hot burning embers into whatever wasn’t already in flames. Most of the firefighting was fighting fire with fire — backfires mainly, far in advance of the main blaze. According to CalFire, the tab for the huge effort to extinguish the blaze was about $16 million.

JAMIE STOVER of Ukiah has submitted a claim against the County of Mendocino for $2,500 plus medical reimbursements. Ms. Stover reports that her daughter, Ashliey Criss, was walking home on Brush Street around 9:45 the evening of June 14th when she fell into a pothole and broke her ankle. The County should have had the pothole filled, you see.

ALSO FILING A CLAIM is Mark Gregg who wants $50 from the County for clothes he says were lost at the County Jail after he turned himself in to serve a weekend sentence on June 10, of 2012.

THIS YEAR’S GRAND JURY noted that there was a big jump in the cost of administering the County’s pension funds: “Finding #17: The hiring of a full time director and staff increased MCERA salary costs from $167,000 a year in 2007 to $322,000 a year in 2010.”

THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS response: “The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors disagrees with this finding. The County of Mendocino budgets on a fiscal year basis so it is not possible to determine expenditures for any given calendar year. As shown in the County of Mendocino adopted final budget books, actual line item expenditures for MCERA staff Total Salaries and Employee Benefits for fiscal year 2006-07 were $188,105; for fiscal year 2007-08 - $259,000; for fiscal year 2008-09 - $372,377; for fiscal year 2009-10 - $429,811; and for fiscal year 2010-11 - $364,855.

TRANSLATION: It’s worse than the Grand Jury said, but there’s nothing that can be done about it.

THE NATION MAGAZINE characterizes the late Alexander Cockburn's life as a “fierce, protracted resistance in the defense of democracy.” That's certainly true of Cockburn, but not the magazine itself, now an arm of the Democratic Party. The Nation's big thinkers will be gearing up for Obama as the lesser of two evils, as they did for Gore an Snore. If Cockburn were still with us they'd have to chloroform him to keep him quiet on that subject. The mag seems to have forgotten that its editors and funders asked Cockburn to tone down his criticism of the Clintons, all of it more than justified. Then the Nation cut his column's size and frequency. Today, the Nation is about as interesting as David Brooks and Mark Shields wondering at each other if the wars in the Middle East have been “worth it.” Brooks says yes, Shields says yes, but.

THE NEW YORK TIMES headline over Cockburn's obituary Sunday read, “Alexander Cockburn — radical leftist writer.” I guess there are leftists who aren't considered radicals by the nambo-pambos, but applied to Cockburn the phrase is code for Beyond The Pale. Cockburn would have enjoyed the redundancy of the hed, and wouldn't have been at all surprised at how he's misrepresented in the body of the hack job, as in this silly para: “He had regular columns in ideologically disparate publications like the Nation and the Wall Street Journal” — both publications are in fact wed heart and soul to capitalism and not all that disparate, boiled down — “and became known as an unapologetic leftist of the sort who appeared to take pleasure in condemning what he saw as the outrages of the right and what he often considered the tepidness and timidity of the U.S. liberal establishment.” Jesus H. There was something to apologize for? Appeared to take pleasure? He did take pleasure pounding these fools. I guess he might have said, “Like, gosh gee, I just said something leftist but I'm really, really sorry about it. Now, do I get that invitation to Obama's pool party?” And then there's, “What he considered…” Dudes! Even here in the land of giant slurpees millions of people consider criticisms of the effete Democrats and the cretinous Republicans simple statements of the obvious. But Cockburn, being a writer of big gifts who brought the wit and style that's otherwise absent from the great Brooks-Shields consensus to these discussions, was left out of them. Why? The NYT types would be simply outclassed. No one writing today could bring it like Cockburn brought it. You need a sports analogy? Matt Cain throwing against the South Ukiah Little League. The Times probably should have given the obit assignment to one of its literary log rollers; some of them seem more or less capable of recognizing superior prose when they see it.

EMERALD GROWERS ASSN. Press Release: In response to a study released by UC Davis this week, declaring that California fisher populations are declining from ingestion of rat poison used at illicit marijuana grow sites on public lands, the Emerald Growers Association released a statement Wednesday calling on the Federal government to re-allocate its limited resources to enforce eradication of illegal marijuana grows on public lands instead of closing down medical cannabis businesses complying with state laws. The Emerald Growers Association (EGA), a medical cannabis trade association located in the Emerald Triangle region long-known for its high-quality cannabis cultivation, has been working to regulate the medical cannabis industry on a local and state level.

“What the Federal government is completely ignoring is that the more they shut-down state law-compliant medical cannabis businesses in our communities, the more they increase the demand for black market production and destruction of our public lands,” said Kristin Nevedal, Chairwoman of the EGA, “We want to see our federal administration focus on the real problems in cannabis cultivation – namely the illicit grows on public lands that we’ve known are trashing habitat and depleting our water, and now we know they also are killing the California fisher, among other species.”

EGA Vice Chair, Matt Cohen, whose work helped to establish Mendocino County’s groundbreaking Medical Marijuana Cultivation Regulation ordinance (otherwise known as the “9.31 Program”), knows first-hand the pressure the federal government is putting on local law enforcement by cracking down on legal medical cannabis cultivators instead of illicit growers. The 9.31 Program exemplified cooperation between small-scale medical cannabis cultivators and law enforcement, and was featured on PBS’ documentary series Frontline. Cohen was raided by the DEA in October 2011 after the airing of the Frontline documentary, despite being a model of compliance with the program. “By targeting law-abiding medical cannabis cultivators, federal authorities are putting tremendous pressure on local law enforcement who should be focusing on the true outlaws,” said Cohen, “The 9.31 program saved four Sheriff Deputies from getting laid-off in Mendocino, but now the program has been gutted because of threats from US Attorney Melinda Haag’s office against our county government and local law enforcement rather than the illicit growers ruining our public lands.”

The EGA is calling on the federal government to utilize their limited resources to focus on the real issues effecting public safety and environmental degradation rather than focusing on medical cannabis patients and providers.

Citing the links between public safety, environmental safety, and patient safety, Alison Sterling Nichols, executive director of the EGA, asserted that, “This is a classic example of our federal government having their heads so far in the sand that they don’t even know what beach they’re on. To prioritize shutting down lawful businesses in our current economic climate, instead of protecting the health of patients and our environment is beyond irresponsible, it’s reprehensible.” The EGA’s mission is to “promote the medicinal, environmental, social, and economic benefits of lawfully cultivated sun-grown cannabis from California’s Emerald Triangle Region (Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity Counties) by advocating for public policies that foster a healthy, sustainable medical cannabis industry.”

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