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BRISK NORTHERLY FLOW will continue across NW CA today through Tuesday. Cooler temperatures will also prevail both along the coast and interior with crisp mornings and mild afternoons. Warmer and dry weather is expected late in the week.
RED FLAG WARNING: Gusty northerly winds will increase across Mendocino and Lake Counties beginning late this evening in the wake of a passing dry cold front. Strongest winds will occur over upper slopes and ridges at elevations above 1500 feet where gusts of 30 to 40 mph may be observed. Northerlies then decrease over Mendocino Monday night while increasing over eastern Lake County and becoming northeasterly with similar wind speeds. While winds will remain lighter in some valleys with some decent humidity recovery, winds will remain brisk across mountain ridges with poor recoveries. Winds will remain breezy on Tuesday before diminishing late in the afternoon. These winds and low humidity, combined with still dry fuels across much of this area, will lead to critical fire weather conditions.
GUSTY WINDS: Northerly winds are forecast to increase in the wake of a dry cold front tonight and will persist through Tuesday evening. Gusts to around 40 mph will be possible across interior ridges, with gusts to around 30 to 35 mph along the coast and interior valleys. Gusty winds will be capable of blowing unsecured objects around and also capable to bring down some trees and/or tree limbs.
FREEZE WATCH: Clear skies and a cold air mass will allow some interior valleys to dip all the way down into the 20s Tuesday morning.
LEE HOWARD REPORTS UKIAH'S SNEAK TAX
Notice of Protest Hearing for UVFD Annexation (A-2021-02)
This notice is the ONLY notice the citizen of the City of Ukiah will get to put a New Tax on their tax bill that will come with the property tax. The new tax will total approx 1 million dollars, and will come every year from now on.
This notice apprered as a legal ad in the local Ukiah news paper.
Government going around to the back door to do this .
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Interested and Affected Agencies and Individuals,
The Mendocino Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) will hold a Protest Hearing on November 8, 2021 at 10:00 AM to receive written protests filed against the Ukiah Valley Fire District Change of Organization to Annex the City Limits of the City of Ukiah for Fire Services (UVFD Fire Services Annexation File No. A-2021-02).
Please refer to the attached Protest Hearing Notice for more information. This notice is also being sent via postal mail if we have your address on record.
The Agenda for this Special Meeting will be posted at least 72 hours in advance of the meeting and will be available at: https://www.mendolafco.org/2021-11-08-commission-special-meeting
Larkyn Feiler, Analyst
Mendocino Local Agency Formation Commission
200 S. School Street, Ukiah, CA 95482
Office: (707) 463-4470
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Notice Of Protest Hearing
Notice Is Hereby Given that on Monday, November 8, 2021, at 10:00 AM (or as soon thereafter as the matter may be heard) the Mendocino Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) will hold a Protest Hearing to receive written protests filed against the Ukiah Valley Fire District Change of Organization to Annex the City Limits of the City of Ukiah for Fire Services (UVFD Fire Services Annexation File No. A-2021-02). The hearing will be conducted remotely pursuant to GOV §54953(e)(1)(C) as approved by the Commission in response to the COVID-19 pandemic with public participation via teleconference as detailed in the agenda posted at least 72 hours in advance of the meeting, and livestreamed at www.youtube.com/MendocinoCountyVideo.
The Ukiah Valley Fire District (UVFD) approved Resolution No. 2021-04 on May 18, 2021 to initiate the proposed annexation, with support from the City of Ukiah City Council, involving UVFD annexation of the entire City Limits of the City of Ukiah for fire services.
The reasons for the annexation include: (1) Further strengthen the operating relationship between the Fire District and Ukiah; (2) Establish a fair and equitable funding resource for fire and emergency medical response services for all Ukiah Valley residents; and (3) Ensure fiscal stability of fire and emergency medical response services for the long-term benefit of Ukiah Valley residents served by the Fire Authority.
The Commission approved the annexation on October 4, 2021, by Resolution No. 2021-22-03, which sets forth a full and complete description of the change of organization and the terms and conditions of approval. Landowners within the City of Ukiah incorporated area would be subject to UVFD parcel taxes currently in place upon annexation.
Landowners and registered voters residing within the City of Ukiah may file a protest against the annexation. The Official Protest Form (attached) must be completely filled out, dated, and received during the Official Protest Period, which begins on October 8, 2021 and ends on November 8, 2021, at the close of the Protest Hearing. Written protests must either be received in the LAFCo office by mail in advance of the Protest Hearing (no postmark) or delivered in-person at the LAFCo office prior to the close of the Protest Hearing (no fax or email). The LAFCo mailing address and office location is: 200 South School Street, Ukiah, CA 95482. Written protests may be withdrawn prior to the close of the Protest Hearing.
Copies of all related documents and a proposal map are on file and may be reviewed at the LAFCo website at: https://www.mendolafco.org/2021-11-08-commission-special-meeting. For questions, contact LAFCo staff at e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone: (707) 463-4470.
All interested persons are invited to attend, be heard, and participate in the hearings.
By Order Of The Mendocino Local Agency Formation Commission
Uma Hinman, Executive Officer
AUTHORITIES DETERMINE DECOMPOSED BODY Found in Vehicle Northeast of Covelo was a Murdered Man From ‘Out of the Area’
Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Captain Greg Van Patten told us that an autopsy has been conducted on the body found in the trunk of a vehicle on 27000 block of Mendocino Pass Road on October 3, 2021. Results of the autopsy have determined that the body was that of an adult male who had been murdered.
POT VIEWS, A GOOD GUY, AND REDISTRICTING
by Jim Shields
Once again in response to the last couple of columns on the continuing chaos of marijuana cultivation in this county, a number of folks sent along their thoughts on the subject. Here’s comments from Kirk Vodopals:
“Glad to hear Mr. Shields is in agreement with my assessment of the current Mendo cannabiz scene. Wonder if he will agree with these comments/observations on Mr. Walsh’s piece: The ‘simplified’ permit process for the “small mom-and-pops” sounds very idealistic. Verging on fantasy, I’d say. I agree with the stipulations of no new employees and no new structures. Exemptions for environmental review, structure permits and water registry, however, is a bit more nuanced. I don’t think environmental review is necessary for a 25-plant plot, but when you bump into the 99-plant size with grading and offsets from sensitive resources, then that’s another story. Anything with a foundation or steep grading needs a structural or engineered design- doesn’t matter what’s on it. Water registry is my biggest beef. I see so many knuckleheads who don’t have enough water for domestic purposes trying to continue their failing weed operations. It’s ludicrous. Common sense doesn’t apply to those folks. In the big picture, Mr. Walsh is making a case for the County to try to spend thousands of hours trying to figure out a streamlined permit program for operations and people who will probably never get in trouble with the law cuz their setups aren’t bothering anyone and they are off the radar of any enforcement issues anyways. These folks, though, (as well as most of the legal market) are still funneling most of their product into the ‘traditional market anyways. So the strong urgency to get them into the legal fold is pretty much a joke. Why waste all of our taxpayer money to assist folks who haven’t paid taxes in 40 years, didn’t want any part of the system, feign compliance while running product out the back door and call for water trucks in March??… The joke continues. I do like RyeN Flint’s Star Wars references: but who are the main characters (Luke, Hahn, Lea, etc.?) Calvino the Caped Crusader of weed apparently fled to Beverly Hills. Hannah Nelson is still advocating for all her clients, but not sure if she has sided with Jabba the Hut (Steinmetz at Flow Kana plus all of her Argentinian and Chicago-based ‘small’ guys) or if she truly represents the real farmers who put their plants in the ground… The saga continues. Use your sabers to spark up a fatty.”
Recognizing a good guy…
While to many Pacific Gas and Electric Company is a faceless corporation that has a sullied reputation for its role in sparking horrendous wildfires, the responsibility for an unprecedented level of death (approximately 120-plus) and multi-billion dollars of property destruction, it does have many employees who do their jobs and actually care about the customers they serve.
At the top of the list of PG&E workers who deserve recognition and commendation is Rich Noonan, who has the unwieldly job title of Senior Public Safety Specialist-Mendocino & Humboldt Counties, Wildfire Operations Emergency Preparedness and Response.
Noonan is clearly one of those folks who is committed to serving the public.
Noonan is a Laytonville native who still has numerous family and friendship ties to the community. As the district manager for a rural water district, one of my primary responsibilities is to keep our system operating during various types of emergencies, including so-called “Public Safety Power Shutoff” (PSPS), where as a safety precaution, electricity is turned off in high risk wildfire areas during extreme weather events in an effort to prevent a fast-moving, hard to fight wildfires. These measures are only to be used as a last resort to help ensure public safety.
I don’t know how long Noonan has been in his present position, but I do know since the beginning of summer when he became known to me, communications from PG&E to local governments in Mendocino County relative to providing us with nearly up-to-the-minute updates on the possibility of a declared PSPS improved remarkably. This is critical information for a rural water district that has to switch to back-up electrical power, that in our case is available only on a leased basis. It requires us to contact the Bay Area company providing the leased generator, and then making arrangements for its delivery, which can sometimes take 24 hours. So the more advanced warning we’re given, the quicker we can make the transition to back-up power, hopefully with little or no interruption of water operations.
Aside from detailed email updates, Noonan also takes the time to follow up with phone calls to ascertain local conditions, and offer any assistance that may be needed.
So, I just want to publicly thank Rich Noonan for the great job he does under what can be very trying and difficult circumstances.
Appears redistricting could affect Laytonville area
Supervisor John Haschak called me on Tuesday to give me a quick update on what’s happening with the County’s redistricting process where potentially boundaries and populations within the five supervisorial districts will be adjusted based on 2020 Census data.
He said there was a “big gap” with the 3rd District having approximately 2,700 more people than the Coast’s 4th District, which includes Fort Bragg as its most populous city.
One of the possible scenarios for redistricting would be moving the Laytonville area from the 3rd District to the 4th District, among other scenarios, which would not be a popular decision.
Remember, nothing is a done deal yet, there’s plenty of time for people to get involved before a final decision is made. I’ll have more information for you next week. Haschak said he’ll try to get a letter or report written providing more details about what’s going on and how folks in the 3rd District can get involved in the redistricting process.
(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, email@example.com, the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District, and is also chairman of the Laytonville Area Municipal Advisory Council. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live: http://www.kpfn.org.)
WHY POLICE ARE RAIDING CALIFORNIA POT FARMERS AND WHAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT IT
by Randal John Meyer
Growing, selling and using cannabis is legal in California under state law. So many people across the country were shocked last week to see images of Alameda County sheriff’s deputies hacking through marijuana plants with hedge trimmers during a bust at 18 locations across the Bay Area that netted up to 500,000 plants and millions in cash.
The truth is that while California does have a state sanctioned and highly regulated market for cannabis, illegal grows still exist and are in fact thriving. The Bay Area seizures illustrate just how lucrative and incentivized this modern-day illicit trade in cannabis has become.
California weed growers are reshaping a national and global marketplace just as the state’s vintners did with the wine industry. But the cumbersome legal environment of cannabis regulation threatens to squander this economic opportunity.
Most of the responsibility lies with the federal government. Continued federal cannabis prohibition has created a web of compliance concerns and economic disequilibrium that would be smoothed by reform. But California’s prohibitive excise taxes and the excessive costs associated with licensing make the Golden State’s system ripe for abuse and puts compliant operators at competitive disadvantage.
The latest development is the use of so-called “burner licenses,” in which gray-market operators benefit from features of California’s legal market, while diverting legal cannabis into illicit markets out of state.
The advantages of this setup are obvious to anyone who’s tried to operate in the state’s legal market. By using a distribution license to acquire legally grown cannabis and then reporting the crop as “lost,” “damaged” or even in cold storage, illicit operators can sell to eager customers across state lines, where California herb fetches a premium and state regulatory reach ends. In the end, they avoid taxes and the compliance costs of running a legal business by letting the license expire and moving on to a new license.
California is a victim of its own success in cannabis. Cultivators in the state harvest an incredible amount of high-grade flower — more than Californians can consume — as cannabis connoisseurs everywhere else pay top dollar to illicit actors who smuggle it out of California.
It’s happening at a prodigious rate.
“California produces 13.5 million pounds of marijuana annually — but Californians only consume 2.5 million pounds of it,” according to a 2017 study by the state Department of Food and Agriculture, which means illegal operators are exporting more than 10 million pounds a year.
Unregulated grows cause problems for the environment and wildlife of California. A UC Davis study found that “an anticoagulant in rat poisons like d-Con” has been affecting wildlife in California due to chemical runoff from unregulated grows. On public lands in California and elsewhere, illicit pot growers harm the environment in numerous ways.
By exploiting California’s decriminalized environment, illegal operators are gaining the upper hand on legal businesses that are struggling to play by the rules. State and local social equity programs in California can’t compete on price. Legal weed is more expensive, and the illicit market offers comparable product-brand selection. Conversely, illegal operators face few penalties for avoiding taxes and selling product outside the legal marketplace. In the end, communities lose tax revenue, businesses lose customers and the environment loses responsible stewardship.
The Department of Justice reports that using law enforcement to address unregulated narcotic production is neither efficient nor effective, and catching illicit polluters after they pollute still leaves behind expansive and damaging remediation issues. The only equitable solution rests with the federal government: open the country to interstate commerce in cannabis with as few barriers to entry as possible.
This would level the playing field and give law-abiding businesses access to the tools and opportunities they need to succeed: intellectual property protection, federal aid, crop insurance and tax breaks for small businesses.
Interstate trade is happening, but it’s happening without federal public health and safety regulation or tax enforcement. The serious policy answer is for Congress to allow and regulate cannabis commerce among legal states and nations. Congress ended alcohol prohibition in 1933 with the Blaine Act, and in doing so, it reduced organized crime, protected the public from tainted alcohol and enabled the collection of taxes.
Licensed and compliant California businesses deserve an opportunity to really compete. Congress should let them.
(Randal John Meyer is executive director of the Global Alliance for Cannabis Commerce and a co-coordinator of the Cannabis Freedom Alliance.)
Remember Jewel Dyer? The guy who murdered his father with a baseball bat in Laytonville in March of 2016?
Arrested and booked on Saturday, October 9, 2021 for possession of and being under the influence of a controlled substance, and parole violation.
Upon agreeing to a negotiated disposition of his case, defendant Jewel Everan Dyer was convicted of the voluntary manslaughter of his father, Sanford Sternick, with the personal use of a deadly weapon (a baseball bat), and received a seven-year sentence.
THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE OF GENTLEMAN'S QUARTERLY, of all publications, features a story called ‘California's Vanishing Hippie Utopias’ in which are several photos of ghostly owner-built structures at, among other Mendo and HumCo places, Albion's famous Table Mountain collective. GQ? I half expected to see Captain Fathom in a full tux, and is Albion's Bo's Landing still a commune of sorts or is the Captain the only person still on board?
COMMUNAL living flourished on the Northcoast in the 1970s but was pretty much gone by the 1990s and, in any case, was pretty much a warm weather phenomenon anyway. The groups I knew drew lots of summer hippies, but when the rains and the cold set in, indoor plumbing and the comforts of the despised 'burbs beckoned.
ALWAYS admired the surviving communards who toughed it out in their un-insulated, red-tagged hovels as Mendo officialdom, from the outset, did a lot of huffing and puffing about “bulldozing those goddam hippie shacks.” It was as if the supervisors at the time and the building inspectors feared being forced into full-time residence up all those back country dirt roads when, logically, local authorities should have been awarding medals to the newcomers for re-populating and re-prosper-izing an historically struggling rural economy.
THE MORE sex-obsessed hippie bashers here in the Anderson Valley were known to spend hours at strategic sites overlooking hippie properties hoping to catch a glimpse of bare breasts. The Manson Girls, at their home near Navarro, became a kind of rural Mitchell Brothers Theater where the 'necks had the place under daylight surveillance. The hippie interlude at the old Clearwater Ranch was another voyeur's hot spot.
POLITICALLY, despite their fearsome reputation as mad dog radicals, the back to the landers were pretty tame, electing conservative libs and seldom straying from the mainstream Democratic Party only for George McGovern or some other figure billing him or herself as a reformer. And a whole slew of temporary hippies, weary of the thanatoid life, soon reclaimed their middleclass credentials and took over the public institutions of Mendocino County, from the courts to the schools, and not for the better.
I KNEW HIPPIE was over when, one night at a Boonville school board meeting, a woman who'd mooned me on her driveway but was now educating my children, told me to sit down and be quiet “because you're becoming irrational.” Which I probably was, but the indignity, my friends, the indignity!
MY WIFE had been educated in strict Brit mission schools and me in the usual absurd edu-processes of Gringolandia. Often shocked at the way we did things here in Freedom Land, she thought the schools were, uh, undemanding. We were on the same page. Together we decided that our three could go to school if they wanted to go, but if they stayed home they'd have to read and do math probs for six hours. They usually preferred Boonville Unified.
I'VE ALWAYS THOUGHT the hippie impulse was the correct (and logical) rejection to industrial civ, but also thought they were naive in their puzzlement at the violent rejection and insult they got when the first wave of the back to the landers landed on the Northcoast. But, at the time, even if they'd appeared in full Brooks Brothers, simply being new residents in an area wary of new people, the welcome mats would have been conditional. But soon, hippies were marrying the rednecks and a whole new beast was born, the Hipneck, and from the Hipnecks came fresh marriages with the Mexican immigration, the RedNexicans!
BUT I CAN’T REMEMBER WHAT I HAD FOR LUNCH
by Tommy Wayne Kramer
I bought my first house in 1983, a 2BR 1BA baby on North Oak Street that cost $46,000, roughly $30,000 more than I could afford considering interest rates.
Ripped out the green shag living room carpet, had my pal John Arteaga put on a new roof that still looks good 40 years later, and the following summer bought five gallon cans of yellow exterior paint down at Montgomery Ward’s. Got me a ladder, some brushes, stocked the fridge with beer and went to work.
My next door neighbor was a big guy, a mountain of a man named Mr. Mustard, and he would occasionally stroll over to watch, chat and reminisce. He said when he was a kid he lived in the same neighborhood and watched housepainters put the first, and at that point only, coat of paint on my new (1920s) house.
He said they opened cans of white, poured the lead in, stirred it up and got to painting. He said lead is what makes paint so durable and good-looking, and I could argue neither point because it still looked fine 60 years later when I covered it in creamy yellow.
Mr. Mustard had lots of memories. He recalled seeing the very first car roll into Potter Valley, a Ford Model T, and that the sight, sound and magic of it helped make him a lifelong mechanic and fixit guy.
One summer he and a buddy delved into a Sears & Roebuck catalogue and purchased a motorbike that came in a box and had to be assembled with tools included in the kit. They put it together and took a road trip all the way from Potter Valley down to Cloverdale. It took two days.
What an adventure it must have been, and I should have queried Mr. Mustard on the details of their Huck-and-Tom journey bouncing on dirt roads alongside rivers and railroad tracks, dodging rocks, seeing wild animals, sleeping ‘neath the stars and eating what, exactly?
By this point, midsummer ’84, I had painted all the way ‘round from the front porch to the east side of the house. I was on a ladder when Hank Greenwald on KNBR made the grand slam call on Kelvin Chapman’s dead-left shot against the Giants. It was a summer to remember, and I’ll bet ex-Met Kelvin, now out in Redwood Valley, enjoys few memories better than that one.
Now back to Mr. Mustard and his lousy short-term memory. He told me he’d lost his ability to recall recent events “after the doctors drilled a hole in my head,” pointing to a spot on his skull where a scar was prominent. He said he had clear recollections from half a century ago “but I can’t had remember what I had for lunch.”
I can remember things from kindergarten singalongs and a fifth grade spelling bee and going to my first game at Municipal Stadium in Cleveland, but I watched the A’s game a few nights ago and can’t remember the score, who pitched, or what I had for dinner. Maybe Catfish Hunter. Doritos, Poptarts and beer, probably.
Yeah, it’s my short-term memory but it’s also (said the garrulous old guy whittling in his rocking chair on the front porch) that things go too fast now. The future just won’t stand still and let me get a feel for it, sink my teeth into it and get accustomed to what’s going on. The next future changes before I even got to know the last future, the other future, the one that happened 15 years ago. Or six months.
In the 1920s things were up, running, familiar and sufficiently advanced to run an efficient country. We had airplanes, movies, pop music, cars, indoor heat, indoor plumbing and slick cars that went 75 miles an hour.
Unlike Mr. Mustard I think I already remember the future and it’s just like today but more so. What’s coming our way is less personal freedom and more bad music. Nobody asked me if I want a driverless car, but all of a sudden it’s here and I’m just a passenger? Halftime “music” at the next Super Bowl is Eminem & Snoop the Dog?
Housing is shoddy, cities are dangerous and it’s clear the Great American Novel will not be written in our lifetime which means it won’t be written, period. I’d rather have five channels of mediocre television than 100 channels loaded with infomercials, dishonest news and shallow insults from comedians who don’t know humor from tumor.
Tomorrow’s money is here today and it doesn’t exist, but credit cards sure do, for everything from a sack of potatoes to tickets for the next Rolling Stones tour, scheduled for 2047. Cash is already obsolete and will soon be illegal.
Movies are worse but at least there will be a lot more of them, mostly made in China along with that driverless car. And if that car is going to take me on the fabled Information Superhighway it can just drop me at the next offramp; I’ll walk from here.
Education has been twisted into propaganda, and a college campus is where to go if you’re looking for censorship and zero tolerance for different opinions. Higher education? We beg an answer: Higher than what?
We take small comfort knowing that if Mr. Mustard were to attend a college lecture on “Demanding Diversity Now! in Uranus,” he would be able to forget it by dinnertime.
(Tom Hine writes under the TWK byline.)
BETSY CAWN WRITES: WATCH DUTY
New: Send fire photos to Watch Duty
We have found the website very helpful -- most recently during the August 18, 2021, "Cache" Fire in the city of Clearlake. Highway 29 near Lower Lake was closed by an auto accident, and the intersection of Highway 29 and 53 were inundated by evacuees (in some cases) or regular travelers trying to get to the city or southbound to Hidden Valley Lake and Middletown. Excellent response time -- within very few minutes of a situation being escalated to an evacuation by the Sheriff's Office. And now they've expanded the input opportunities for citizen-reporters. Great contribution to public outreach and education!
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From: "Watch Duty" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When we launched Watch Duty in the middle of an already busy fire season, we were proud to hear from many of you how important it became for keeping you and your family safe. But we were still a long way from our ultimate vision. Today, we’re launching a new feature - every user can now send us photos of active fires directly from Watch Duty. Those photos will go to our Citizen Information Officers (CIOs) who will review them to understand potential fire activity, and after moderation some of those photos will be posted to active incidents in the app.
Our vision has always been to build a true citizen-driven approach to disaster intelligence. That means you’re not just a bystander, you’re actively contributing to the safety of your community. Your photos will help CIO’s, first responders and members of your community by giving them better awareness of the situation on the ground.
To get ready to submit photos, set up a Watch Duty account by choosing Log In from the menu in the upper left of the app. Then choose Sign Up to create a new account. You’re now ready to submit photos of active fires by tapping the camera icon in the top right of the app. Learn more about submitting photos at our Frequently Asked Questions page
422 Larkfield Center #423
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Watch Duty currently provides updates for Sonoma, Lake, Napa, and Mendocino counties in California. Sign up to be notified when we expand to your area.
MENDOCINO COUNTYWIDE DROUGHT TASK FORCE
Date: 10/14/2021 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
Please click the link below to join the webinar: https://mendocinocounty.zoom.us/j/88971765675?pwd=Ty9Nczk4MlVGSjlxaE82Slc2YndhQT09
Or Telephone: US: +1 669 900 9128 or +1 346 248 7799 or +1 253 215 8782 or +1 301 715 8592 or +1 312 626 6799 or +1 646 558 8656
Webinar ID: 889 7176 5675
CATCH OF THE DAY, October 19, 2021
MEREDITH BOONE-DENHEM, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
RICHARD BRUHN, Ukiah. DUI, no license.
FIDEL CASTRO, Ukiah. DUI causing bodily injury, suspended license, probation revocation.
CAMERON CLEVELAND, Fort Bragg. DUI.
JEWEL DYER, Willits. Under influence, controlled substance, parole violation.
BRYN HARRIS, Gualala. Domestic battery, contempt of court, disobeying court order.
DANIEL HEATH, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
CHRISTOPHER LINTON, Ukiah. Domestic abuse, protective order violation, probation revocation.
GARY MORRIS, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, prohibited park hours.
ROCIO OLEA-LUNA, Ukiah. DUI.
JOSEPH PEINADO, Willits. Drawing and exhibiting a firearm on the grounds of a daycare center, child endangerment.
NICOLE PERDUE, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, vandalism.
MICHAEL PHILLIPS JR., Laytonville. DUI-drugs&alcohol.
STEVEN RAMIER, Ukiah. Grand theft, failure to appear, resisting.
LENOX REYES II, Covelo. Assault weapon, ammo possession by prohibited person, felon-addict with firearm, offenses while on bail.
JOHN WHALEN, Ukiah. DUI w/blood-alcohol over 0.15%.
A NEW BREAKTHROUGH IN UNDERSTANDING DARWIN’S THEORY: One step forward, one step back.
BOOK REVIEW: LOSING IT
by Larry Bensky
by Joshua Henkin
Pantheon Books, 2021; 292 pp. $26.95
Of all the dreaded afflictions that affect the human mind, the one that has come to be known as “Alzheimer’s Disease”* is surely among the worst.
There are other ways to suffer, particularly in old age. Many of them involve excruciating physical pain, which Alzheimer’s rarely does. Many are highly contagious, which Alzheimer’s is not. Some can be palliated by medicinal treatment. But nothing like a cure has yet entered the Pharmacopeia for Alzheimer’s.
So when someone begins to “lose their grip,” those who care about that someone face numerous dilemmas. Chief among them is: How bad is it?
Serious, bad, and very bad would be three useful categories. And we encounter all three, one by one, in Joshua Henkin’s new novel, “Morningside Heights.” Whose main narrative voices (Henkin uses several) we meet in the story’s opening pages, and continue to get to know as his fine book unfolds.
Spence Robin, a successful and revered English professor at Columbia University (hence the book’s title) is the Alzheimer’s victim. In his 30s when the story begins, he’s just beginning to be symptomatic. His son, Arlo Zackheim, who Robin at age 8 basically abandons, is another. And Robin’s second wife, Arlo’s stepmother, is a third.
The book is divided into 47 time and location shifting chapters. One has to pay close attention to “Morningside Heights” to sort out its multiplicity of events and places. One major element is New York City. There, Arlo, as a teenager, comes to live with Spence (“the youngest tenured professor in Columbia’s history”) after a catastrophic three-year sojourn with his mother, an erstwhile midwife, on a Hippie farm in Delaware.
Henkin treats us to one of the most thorough expositions of 1970s and 1980s New York in recent fiction. We experience Arlo memorizing subway stations. Remarking on the amazingly diverse humanity in the streets. Testing and tasting all varieties of food. Listening to music in clubs.
And we are immersed, thoroughly immersed, in the politics of the era. As well as reminded of how easy it was then to avoid politics altogether, in favor of romance, careerism, and the traumas of personal development.
Arlo, a small, shy boy, is early on labeled dyslectic. There are inadequate resources in his public school for kids like him. Henkin skillfully lays out what Arlo, who eventually becomes a wealthy computer software designer, had to go through, trying to use his unusual mental skills. Schools – public, private, and “remedial” – don’t help.
“When Fall came, Arlo had new teachers, who forced him to repeat what he had learned last year. He hated the repetition, hated the sounding out of words. He thought of that word mnemonic which his father had written on one of his flashcards. He needed a mnemonic to remember the word mnemonic, and what was the point of that?”
Age age 14, he concludes, “For thousands of years humanity had done fine without reading, and during the Fall of his Junior year, Arlo resolved to do without reading too. As the semester wore on, and he continued to disappoint himself, he thought of another word his father had taught him, “abdicate,” and he started to see school, to see his whole time in New York, as a well meaning, failed experiment.”
As difficult kids tend to be, Arlo is skeptical of adults. In one of “Morningside Heights’s” principal accomplishments, Henkin elaborates on teenage skepticism by bringing numerous characters on stage. As readers can ultimately decipher (admittedly the character clutter is hard to break through) these are all credible people. They dream. They exult. They suffer. Necessity and chance impact them mightily.
So Arlo reinitiates contact with this birthmother, she of the hippie Delaware farm. She’s since gone back to her Midwest roots, where Arlo visits her. He finds Columbus, Ohio provincial, boring, and full of football fans. There his mother has met and seduced a wealthy lawyer, and followed him and his three teenage kids to London. Arlo, out of touch for three years, reminds Linda that she had always said that if things didn’t work out for him in New York with his professor father and his new wife (another undergraduate who seduced him) he could come live with her. And off to London he goes.
“Morningside Heights” then shifts, for the remaining half of the book, to Professor Spence Robin’s Alzheimer’s odyssey. And his valiant wife Pru’s caregiving. It is not a pretty picture. (“He used to move with such grace. Now he lurched like a drunkard.”)
Attempts to make Spence understand what’s happening to him sporadically penetrate his mental space. But it doesn’t last long. He’s convinced he’s still teaching, when he’s been forcefully retired. He’s convinced he’s still completing his next book; in reality he hadn’t written a word in two years. Some days he recognizes people, some days he doesn’t. In one terrifying scene he leaves their apartment and can’t be found for hours.
Along the way, elements familiar to those who’ve witnessed mental and physical decline in a loved one appear in all their grim detail. Supposedly breakthrough cures turn out to be illusory. Paid caregivers come and go. Even the most sympathetic one in “Morningside Heights,” a Jamaican mother with a teenage son, eventually quits. Money becomes a major issue as Professor Robin loses the salary and benefits that came with the Columbia throne. His wife has to quit her job to help care for him.
Meanwhile, life goes on. Henkin shows that Arlo, and his younger sister, Sarah, while they love their father and value all he did with and for them during their formative years, have their own Journeys. Through them we experience San Francisco, Oregon, Los Angeles, and points in between.
The life of the mind can be wonderful, but it’s a terrible territory to explore. Only the most daring and sensitive authors engage it successfully. Joshua Henkin now joins them. This is his third novel. At age 56 we can hope for many more quality works to come.
(*Previously called “presenile dementia” it was renamed in 1910 after a German pathologist, Alois Alzheimer, who studied it, but was not himself afflicted.)
(Larry Bensky can be reached at L.Bensky@igc.org.)
GIULIANI: TRUMP 'ORDERED ME’ TO WORK UNPAID FOR HIS CAMPAIGN
All of the work Rudy Giuliani has done since November 2020 trying to prove that widespread fraud occurred during the election has reportedly been for free. The lawyer and former New York mayor revealed in a court deposition that he has been working for the Trump campaign free of charge after the election because the former president “ordered me to do it,” Business Insider reported Friday.
THORIUM MIGHT BE THE ANSWER
I agree that we need to address the issue of nuclear waste before we ramp up the use of carbon-free nuclear power.
But we don’t have to settle for the same technology that produces plutonium as a byproduct of electricity production.
Instead of using uranium to fuel our nuclear power plants, we can use thorium.
Thorium technology was developed by the U.S. government 50 years ago. Thorium power generates a thousand times less nuclear waste compared to uranium. And what waste there is decays 800 times faster than the waste produced by our current generation of power plants.
Compared to other methods of producing baseline power (primarily fossil fuels or uranium), thorium could be a sensible carbon-free bridge to our all-electric future.
Visionary investors like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have already harnessed this technology. But it will take courageous political leaders to clear the way for commercialization and a truly progressive populace that can grow beyond the notion that all nuclear power is bad.
Bryan St. Amant
THE SOLAR PANEL TREATMENT
To the Editor:
Some months ago, I wrote how disappointed I was that the new mental health facility funded by Measure B being built on Orchard Street next to the Ukiah Post Office was not fitted for sustainable energy. I spoke too soon.
Now that the construction is nearly complete, I am delighted to say that I was wrong. The new facility is fitted with solar panels on its south roof. I apologize for falsely accusing the Measure B planners. Instead, I want to thank them for leading this area with the first solar powered government building.
May all the rest be retrofitted soon.
A COVID TOUR
On our annual “tour America” trip, we drove throughout the Northwest. It started with a stop in Shasta City. The first lesson was the beauty of the American landscape. Second was the graciousness of its people.
There was one very noticeable factor beyond that. The anti-mask fervor and the negative perception of us for wearing ours. The second night, in Fairfield, Idaho, I mentioned to the owners of the motel that I was tired of masks, but 700,000 deaths keeps me wearing one.
The owner replied, “Well, we don’t know if they actually died of COVID.” I disabused him of that notion, pointing out that any seventh grader can look through a microscope to identify the virus. It was friendly after that, and the pair even joined us at breakfast.
I checked the COVID rates in all the places we stayed. They were all very high. Mask wearing was low. That seems to be an easy lesson to understand. In case anyone is having trouble comprehending, this is more about facts than one’s “freedom” or selfish arrogance.
The same could be said about the water shortage and climate collapse. The denial of these issues has become existential.
ON-LINE SUGGESTIONS FOR STATE SENATOR MCGUIRE:
Hey Mike, try fixing the EDD, or getting rural Californians to take their vaccine, try to get the hospitals funded, the roads repaired, and, try to get the CHP to enforce the speed limit…
Give the Bums somewhere to camp, give them some commodity food and a truckload of cheap beer every week, and then start a program to replant all the burned trees like they did in the 60’s…
Get the CCC going on the forests and make Caltrans leave Richardson Grove the heck alone!
Put a fat tax on buying a house and then putting it back on the market 5 minutes later, and tell the car dealers to stop claiming that there’s a “shortage of vehicles” so the price is double…
Stop “pandemic price gouging” for everything and give us a place to invest our money that pays more than 0.4% interest!
Mike, we don’t need to hear from you daily, and, you will never be Governor if you only keep fooling around with minor issues.
Here is a quarter, call your Mother and tell her your career is over next election…
MARX & FEMINISM
by Eve Ottenberg
Genius that he was, Marx still was only human. His theories have lots of shortcomings that reflect his era. For instance, despite his disquisition on soil depletion due to capitalist agriculture, he did not emphasize enough the myriad ways capital poisons the earth. He believed that socialism would benefit from the “progress” of capitalism, a view overturned by the eco-disasters of the twentieth-century Soviet Union. He did not denounce colonialism sufficiently. He did not exhibit a profound, implication-grasping consciousness of racism, although of course he opposed and denounced it. He failed to appreciate the commons embraced by indigenous people around the world and how it could hem in capital’s global encroachments. And he was cool to feminism, not only taking domestic work for granted, but devoting little writing to the actual care and reproduction of the working class and the people, women, largely responsible for that reproduction.
What does Marx have to say to feminists? More to the point, what do feminists have to say to Marx? Well, quite a lot, as any reader of Sylvia Federici’s new book, The Patriarchy of the Wage, can tell you. Granted, a main reason Marx ignored domestic work was that in his time he saw women in factories toiling such long hours that they, in fact, did no domestic work. That changed later in the nineteenth century, as the ruling class became alarmed about the proles’ ability to reproduce themselves, something emaciated people, worked to death before age 30, with no time for childcare, no less breast-feeding, whose offspring starved on their pathetic diet of commercial elixirs, could not do. With the shift from light textile to heavy, iron and coal, industry, the bourgeoisie instituted the patriarchy of the wage, namely, booting women out of factories, shortening hours but intensifying the work and paying men enough to support a family. Thus the upper class reproduced its nuclear family model in the working class. In so doing, it lengthened some working-class lifespans and decreased infant mortality. So some might say that, oppressive as all this was, it became, objectively, an improvement. But not Federici.
In this new scheme, the thrifty housewife tended home, children and her husband’s sexual needs. This labor, done by half of humanity, escaped Marx’s notice — again, partly because, for a while, he had observed women workers not doing it. But domestic work and care-giving occupy billions of people. It is unwaged work, as was the plantation toil of slaves and much of the moil of campesinos in Latin America. As Federici argues, the white male working class, whose cause Marx championed, forms but a sliver of a much larger agglomeration of laborers who produce the goods and people our world depends on. And many of those laborers work for no pay.
“Our rejection of leftist ideology is one and the same as our rejection of capitalist development as a road to liberation,” Federici wrote in a 1970s article, included here, and thus disposing of old-school socialist and communist fetishization of capitalist technocracy. One need only survey the catastrophic ecology of the Soviet Union to realize that insofar as it mimicked capitalism, communism contributed to the destruction of a habitable planet. True, China recently combined capitalist structures with communism to lift 850 million people out of poverty in a short period of time, a world record, with which no one can compete. Also, the USSR arguably would not have crushed Nazism, had it not industrialized at a breakneck pace in the 1920s and ‘30s. So using aspects of capitalism for communist ends has its obvious pluses. But the minuses are also huge.
Take the nuclear family. “Far from being a precapitalist structure, the family, as we know it in the West, is a creation of capital for capital,” Federici writes. And what does this family, based on women’s work, do for capital? It “produces the most precious product on the capitalist market: labor power.” So ignoring unwaged women’s work, as the old left did and as the new left did also, before it yielded to a feminist hullaballoo, created a huge blind-spot in left analyses. It also seamlessly continued and extended the pernicious neglect of the feminine contribution to the world of work. “It’s no accident that we get the lowest paid jobs, and that whenever women enter a male sector, wages go down. Employers know that we are used to working for nothing.”
That work includes what Federici calls sex work, about which she has much to say that appears counterintuitive. In her convincing opinion, psychoanalysis “was born as the science of sexual control.” Federici has sharp words for Freud and other male theoreticians of female sexuality. Her generalizations are sharpest of all. “For the women of today,” she writes, “no less than for our mothers and grandmothers, sexual liberation can only mean liberation from ‘sex,’ rather than the intensification of sexual work.” Take that, Sigmund Freud! If that doesn’t throw cold water on male theories of female sexuality, I don’t know what will.
To return to Marx. Federici argues that he failed to see what she calls “the strategic importance” of reproductive work. This does not invalidate the truth of his analysis, insights and arguments, as far as they went. Federici simply argues they did not go far enough. And he made mistakes. “Today the miscalculation that Marx and generations of Marxist socialists have made with regard to the liberating effects of industrialization are all too obvious.” Their “Promethean view of technological development” leads to catastrophic climate change.
But that is not to ignore what’s valuable: “The Marx who most matters to us is the theorist of class struggle.” He may have missed that “domestic work, especially the care of children, constitutes most of the work on this planet,” but had he lived today, I find it hard to believe that Marx would have failed to connect feminism and historical materialism, or that he would have done anything besides champion the revolutionary insights of anti-colonialists like Franz Fanon. Though a man of his time, Marx, to use a term he would not have liked, transcended it far more than most. His theories and prescience still inform any left critique of society and economy that’s worth its salt, today, as they probably will tomorrow.
(Eve Ottenberg is a novelist and journalist. Her latest book is Birdbrain.)
THE GROTESQUE SILENCE OF JOURNALISTS Who Say Nothing About CIA Plans to Assassinate Julian Assange
It would seem that covert plans for the state-sanctioned murder on British soil of an award-winning journalist should attract sustained, wall-to-wall media coverage. The news, however, has been met by Western establishment media with ghoulish indifference—a damning indictment of an industry that feverishly condemns attacks on press freedom in Official Enemy states.
JUVENILE JUSTICE FACILITY REFORM PROVES DIFFICULT
by Betty Márquez Rosale
California sought to reform its juvenile justice system by housing young people closer to their communities in facilities that are intended to replace the youth prisons run by the Department of Juvenile Justice. If Los Angeles County’s experience is any indication, making that shift is more difficult than expected.
These changes to the system are a result of Senate Bill 823, which Gov. Gavin Newsom signed last year. The bill requires the state’s youth prisons to shut down by 2023 and has stopped allowing counties to send youth to the state Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) as of July 1, 2021.
Now, the state’s 58 counties must each designate a local facility for the incarceration of young people who, prior to this year, would have been sent to a state youth prison.
“This move to close DJJ comes at a time when there’s a broader reckoning within the realm of youth justice about where we’re placing our youth and for how long,” said Renee Menart, communications and policy analyst at the Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice, a nonprofit organization that pushes to reform the system.
Young people sent to the state prisons range from ages 15 to 25 and are adjudicated by the juvenile court for serious or violent offenses, such as assault, robbery, or homicide. At its peak in 1996, about 10,000 youth were incarcerated at state-run facilities. As of last year, the system had seen a population decline of 93%, with about 750 youth confined.
A disproportionate majority of the youth in state facilities, 88% in 2020, are Black and Latino, and the largest number of youth are typically sent from L.A. County.
The reality at the county level is that not all the existing facilities have the infrastructure or systems in place to provide the “least restrictive appropriate environment,” as SB 823 intends. Such an environment would be as minimally punitive as possible while remaining appropriate and safe for the youth, the staff and the surrounding community. The bill also sought to “reduce the use of confinement by utilizing community-based responses and interventions” and to provide counties with funding to fulfill the bill’s requirements.
While counties have until Jan. 1 to submit their plans to the state, some counties, including Los Angeles, already have youth who would have been sent to the state but are currently sitting in local detention waiting for assignment to county-based facilities.
Los Angeles county’s juvenile halls and camps have both been used for years to house young people charged with nonviolent crimes. Now, with SB 823, the county would also need to house those charged with serious or violent crimes. Advocates seeking to change the juvenile justice system want to use some of the county’s camps that offer more homelike environments, but some residents who live nearby are opposed. That community opposition has primarily surfaced in Santa Clarita, which is nestled at the edge of the Angeles National Forest, where some residents cited a lack of transparency in developing the recommendations and fears of a potential rise in crime in surrounding communities.
Newsom first suggested shutting down the state youth prisons in May 2020 and shifting the housing of the incarcerated youth to the counties with little notice. Some critics of the juvenile justice system pushed back, citing concerns that if alternative county facilities were not ready, the young people could end up in state adult prisons. They argued that sending them to adult prisons would stymie their own rehabilitation.
“Unless and until we develop a viable alternative to DJJ that judges can take seriously for kids that commit the most serious crimes, it is a fool’s errand to shut down DJJ, at least if you value the lives of these young people,” said Frankie Guzman, senior director of the Youth Justice Initiative at the National Center for Youth Law. The compromise was to delay the shutdown of state facilities to 2023 to provide counties some time to prepare.
Guzman, who as a teenager was incarcerated at a state youth prison, was involved in the effort to slow down the closure of the state prison system in order to introduce legislation accounting for the care and treatment of young people at the local level.
“The move toward trauma-informed home settings is relatively new,” Menart said, referring to a public health approach that recognizes a person is likely to have experienced trauma which could play a role in the person’s behavior.
Existing facilities, with their barbed wire and lack of privacy, do not meet the current push for environments that focus on therapy and care, she added.
Support for this different approach to juvenile justice “is more recent than when many of these facilities were built,” Menart said.
In L.A. County, nearly a dozen young people who would have been sent to a state youth prison without SB 832 in place are currently at one of the county’s eight youth facilities: Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar, located in northern San Fernando Valley.
But, it’s also a juvenile hall that last month was deemed “unsuitable for the confinement of minors” by the state Board of State and Community Corrections, the regulatory agency’s first-ever such finding since it was founded nine years ago to oversee adult and youth facilities. The board found the facility out of compliance with various requirements. The report concludes that monitoring the use of psychotropic medications prescribed for mental health needs “remains a deficiency” and that the required health assessments of every new youth entering the facility are taking longer than the 96-hour limit.
The county Probation Department, which runs the facility, has been given 60 days to correct the violations.
The same facility was included in a complaint filed in California’s Superior Court on Jan. 13 after a two-year U.S. Department of Justice investigation found that juvenile hall staff have used excessive force, denied youth access to basic needs such as bathrooms and appropriate bedding, and failed to provide legally required education services.
“The juvenile hall setting, in particular, is not conducive to providing effective treatment for mental health issues,” the director of the county’s Department of Mental Health wrote in an April 2019 letter quoted in the complaint. “Progress made in treatment is quickly eroded as the youth may be repeatedly triggered and re-traumatized by the environment. Because of a lack of privacy and a therapeutic treatment space, youth are not able to fully participate in treatment.”
The Barry J. Nidorf facility was never recommended by the Juvenile Justice Realignment Block Grant subcommittee, the work group formed to implement SB 823.
Initially, the work group recommended Camp Kenyon Scudder and Camp Joseph Scott, both in Santa Clarita where community opposition in June led to a change to Camp Kilpatrick in Malibu.
By late July, L.A. County Supervisors Holly J. Mitchell and Sheila Keuhl introduced a resolution recommending the temporary use of Camp Kilpatrick in Malibu for 40 male youth and Dorothy Kirby Center in Commerce as a permanent location for up to 15 girls and young women.
After three votes, the supervisors in mid-September unanimously decided to temporarily use Camp Kilpatrick.
But as of last week, young people who, per the board’s approved resolution should be at Camp Kilpatrick, remain at Nidorf Juvenile Hall.
“We are currently working with our county partners to prepare for this population,” said a spokesperson for the county Probation Department when asked for a timeline on transferring the youth to Camp Kilpatrick.
The Camp Kilpatrick site, however, is not without its own issues.
The county spent nearly $50 million redesigning the facility to replace its boot camp style and reopened it in 2017 “based on research on how to support high-need young people who have suffered trauma, who have been caught up in the legal system,” said Julio Marcial, vice president of strategic partnerships at the Liberty Hill Foundation, a philanthropy with a focus on social justice causes.
Youth assigned to the facility can wear their own clothing rather than uniforms and live in small cottages in groups of eight to 12. The camp’s focus is on rehabilitation and group therapy, rather than punishment.
It was L.A. County’s first facility under the “L.A. model,” a re-imagined juvenile system “characterized by a culture of care rather than a culture of control,” according to a policy report by the California Wellness Foundation and the Children’s Defense Fund, California, nonprofits that promote policies to support high-needs children.
The report concludes that there is a “direct link between deeply rehabilitative juvenile justice interventions and improved public safety, providing the foundation for a shift in thinking about the operation of long term secure juvenile facilities.”
But a deadly fire tore through the Malibu area in 2018, prompting the evacuation of all who inhabited Camp Kilpatrick. The pandemic followed, further delaying a reopening of the camp.
Even by 2018, about a year into its reopening, concerns were being raised about the effectiveness of the camp.
About three months before the fire-related evacuations, a probation commissioner noted several problems that the L.A. model was supposed to eradicate, including: “extensive use of psychotropic medications,” “not a single special education teacher on staff” despite over half of youth at the time being considered “severe special education youths,” and limited programming available during nonschool hours, which led to boredom and fights.
Still, local stakeholders are hopeful that SB 823 could be what spurs the L.A. model to become fully implemented and achieve its goal of overhauling the local justice system.
Until then, the county, along with the rest of the state, has until Jan. 1 to submit final plans for permanently housing youth who would otherwise be in one of the state’s facilities.
ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE ADVOCATES RESPOND TO OIL SPILL: END NEIGHBORHOOD AND OFFSHORE OIL DRILLING NOW
by Dan Bacher
Since 2019, Governor Newsom’s state oil and gas regulatory agency, CalGEM has issued over 9,000 onshore drilling permits while state lawmakers have repeatedly killed legislation that would have directly protected frontline communities from serious adverse health effects from oil and gas drilling next to homes, schools, prisons, and healthcare facilities, according to the groups.
Governor Newsom’s oil and gas regulators have continued granting offshore oil well permits also. As of October 1, 2021, there have been a total of 150 reported permits issued for offshore wells since January 1, 2019, according to a new analysis of permits approved through October 1, 2021 and posted at www.NewsomWellWatch.org > by Consumer Watchdog and FracTracker Alliance.
In the wake of another disastrous oil spill, CEJA and VISION provided the following statements:
“Saturday’s oil spill devastated the natural environment and will continue to destroy local ecosystems. As an alliance of predominantly low-income and Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) living in some of the most polluted regions of California, we mourn this extreme poisoning of water and land as yet another example of the exploitation and failings of the fossil fuel industry,” said Tiffany Eng with the California Environmental Justice Alliance.
“Our legislature has failed to protect Californians from the egregious harms of fossil fuel operations through inaction and delay tactics. Oil and gas pipelines, oil fields, and refineries are inherently dangerous neighbors that are incompatible with safe communities,” Juan Flores with the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment. “Childhood asthma and cancer rates climb, life-expectancies drop, and still our leaders give fossil fuel companies opportunities to line their pockets at the expense of human life. As we condemn this weekend’s oil spill and its impacts on local residents, we urge decision-makers to immediately end offshore and neighborhood drilling, followed by a swift phaseout of remaining oil and gas operations across the state.”
“Air pollution from neighborhood drilling is a chronic, invisible contamination on par with the catastrophe of an oil spill,but one that has continued for decades,” said Cesar Aguirre with the Central California Environmental Justice Network. “High cancer rates and respiratory and neurological diseases spill out from neighborhood oil fields every day, poisoning the people living, working, and going to school just feet away from oil and gas extraction sites.”
“California may be the “tent pole” of environmentalism as our Governor reminded us on Tuesday but we are also the state with the highest percentage of Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, and Pacific Islander communities living in dangerous proximity to hazardous sites. Nearly 7 million people, the majority BIPOC, live within a mile of oil and gas drilling sites. Of the 2 million Californians living within 2,500 feet of an oil and gas well, 92% are BIPOC,” said Bahram Fazeli with Communities for a Better Environment.”It’s time to enact commonsense setbacks between homes and fossil fuel operations and end neighborhood drilling.”
“The Orange County oil spill has shocking impacts, but it’s not a shocking occurrence. Oil spills are an “externality” of the oil industry at the cost of human life and our ecosystem. Refineries regularly flare poisonous emissions and sometimes explode; oil seeps in residential areas as pipes burst or leak; and deadly hydrofluoric acid is used next to homes,” said Gladys Limon with the California Environmental Justice Alliance. “Decision-makers have for too long normalized sacrificing the health of Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) on the frontlines of the fossil fuel industry. Communities and youth are demanding transformative action and real leadership from decision-makers to protect their lives and futures. And while the Governor has moved the ball forward, too many legislators have held it back. Legislators must decide: will they continue to protect the fossil fuel industry or protect the people they were elected to serve?”
“As environmental justice organizations await a decision from CalGEM, the state oil and gas regulatory agency, that could move oil and gas wells away from neighborhoods, we hope that decision-makers will respond to Saturday’s tragedy with bold, urgent action to protect frontline communities across the state,” said Kobi Naseck with VISIÃ”N (Voices in Solidarity Against Oil in Neighborhoods).
Meanwhile, the Unified Command continued its response Thursday to the coastal oil spill in Orange County:
“The preliminary findings estimate that 24,696 gallons represents the minimum amount of oil released from the pipeline based on flow metering following the recovery of crude oil using negative pressure.
In Orange County, the public can expect to see Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Teams and work crews equipped in protective gear, monitoring, inspecting, and cleaning the beaches to ensure that appropriate cleanup actions are taken. For your safety, the public is advised to avoid any contact with visible oil on the beaches.
The San Diego Emergency Operation Center has been activated to assist with coordinating oil spill response efforts in San Diego County. A Forward Operating Base has also stood up in San Diego to perform tactical on scene command functions.
South Coast Air Quality Management District, in coordination with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the OC Health Care Agency, and a contracted environmental consulting firm, are conducting community air monitoring through mobile air surveys and air sampling at 12 sites located along the Orange County coastline. As of Thursday, air samples from areas potentially impacted by the oil spill are within background levels (air quality on a typical day) and below California health standards for the pollutants measured. Air monitoring efforts will continue under the Unified Command.
Out of an abundance of caution, crews have placed 300 feet of boom at the inlet to the desalination plant in the Agua Hedionda Lagoon.
Vessel owners impacted by the oil spill can file a claim by calling 1-866-985-8366. If your vessel has been impacted by the oil spill, we want to remind people not to clean their own boats, and to not use soaps or dispersants.
The cause of the spill remains under investigation.”
For updates on the fisheries closures, visit https://socalspillresponse.com/fisheries-closure/
* * *
WESTERN STATES PETROLEUM ASSOCIATION LAUNCHES LAWSUIT AGAINST 'DEFACTO MORATORIUM' ON FRACKING IN CALIFORNIA
by Dan Bacher
As a massive oil spill kills fish and birds off the Orange County coast, the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the largest and most powerful corporate lobbying group in California, today launched a lawsuit against what it called “a defacto moratorium” on well stimulation (fracking) permits in California by the Gavin Newsom Administration.
Under intense pressure from environmental justice advocates that have pushed for a ban on fracking for the last 10 years, the Newsom administration this year began to deny fracking permits while continuing to issue hundreds of other oil production well permits employing other methods of extraction. Fracking only amounts to 2 percent of oil production in California, according to the state’s oil and gas regulatory agency, CalGEM.
The agency has approved 12 fracking permits to date, compared with 48 fracking permits last year to date, a 75 percent decrease from 2020, according to the Newsomwellwatch.com website operated by Consumer Watchdog and FracTracker Alliance.
But even though fracking permits are such a small percentage of oil drilling permits in California, Big Oil seeks to continue fracking oil wells in Kern County and elsewhere.
WSPA filed the lawsuit in the Superior Court of Kern County, asking the court to rule that the California Geologic Energy Management Division’s (CalGEM) “de facto moratorium on Well Stimulation Treatment (WST) permits is illegal and void and should be enjoined.”
Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President and CEO of WSPA and former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create “marine protected areas” in Southern California, released a statement explaining why the association had filed the lawsuit:
“WSPA and its members recognize the importance of the need to address environmental issues that impact global climate change and are leading the way through investments and innovation in addressing this challenge. We must get this right. Our industry is committed to climate solutions and an equitable energy future that includes more renewable and sustainable energy sources, and for the foreseeable future based on multiple scientific studies, reliable fossil fuels.
“Unfortunately, the State of California continues to take arbitrary actions that deliver little positive benefits for our fight against climate change but imposes big impacts on Californians — to our finances, to our freedoms, essentially to how we live and work every day.
“Real solutions do not come through arbitrary bans, mandates, and the whim of elected leaders. And, it should not take legal action for the state to do its statutory work and ensure that we have stable, affordable, and safe domestic sources of energy that we need for California’s families and businesses. WSPA and its members are willing to stand up for people and our industry when real progress on the climate and our economy is threatened.
“Today, on behalf of the people who work in and whose jobs are supported by the oil industry in California, and to protect domestic production of safe, affordable, and reliable energy, WSPA filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of Kern County asking the court to rule that California Geologic Energy Management Division’s (CalGEM) de facto moratorium on Well Stimulation Treatment (WST) permits is illegal and void and should be enjoined.
“In the past several months, CalGEM has rejected numerous permits for reasons not supported by relevant technical evidence or deficiencies. Rather, CalGEM’s rejections are based on arbitrary assertions that the production and combustion of fossil fuels in general—not well stimulation activities specifically—cause greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to climate change and are therefore unacceptable “as a matter of conscience” rather than science.
“CalGEM’s decision to deny future permits for WST operations ignores the law and is contrary to all scientific studies and evaluations that have been conducted by CalGEM itself as well as by other independent scientific bodies. Banning WST operations in California will only serve to constrain domestic oil production, resulting in the need to import more oil from foreign sources. Increased imports of foreign oil will also increase global greenhouse gas emissions, further contributing to global warming, contrary to the very goals CalGEM seeks to promote.
“While this legal action moves forward, WSPA and its members will continue its work to deliver needed energy while tackling climate challenges that Californians face every day.”
The lawsuit was launched as the Newsom Administration continues to issue a plethora of onshore and offshore oil and gas permits in California: www.dailykos.com/...
Governor Newsom’s oil regulators have approved 9,728 oil drilling permits since he assumed office in 2019, according to a new analysis of permits approved through October 1, 2021 and posted at www.NewsomWellWatch.org > by Consumer Watchdog and FracTracker Alliance. The groups said Newsom “should immediately cease approval of more oil permits to avoid hitting the 10,000 mark.”
CalGEM has approved a total of 1,577 total permits in the first nine months of 2021, a 53% change from the number of permits issued in 2020. The agency approved 516 new well permits and 1,061 oil well rework permits in the first six months of this year.
The agency has issued a total of 150 reported permits issued for offshore wells since January 1, 2019 as of October 1, according to the two groups. Five of these permits were for new drilling and the remaining 145 for reworks (including sidetracks and deepening operations).
“Half of the total were issued for idle wells that should be plugged and properly abandoned to reduce the risk of blowouts, leaks, and other accidents. Over the first three quarters of 2021 there have been 17 offshore permits issued,” the groups stated.
While WSPA has launched a lawsuit against the Newsom Administration for denying a number of fracking permits this year, opponents of oil drilling and supporters of environmental justice are saying Newsom should talk a more aggressive approach to stopping oil drilling in California.
“Governor Newsom needs to prioritize ending oil drilling now rather than just talking about it,” said consumer advocate Liza Tucker of Consumer Watchdog. “His Administration is 280 days late on a rule to end oil drilling near communities and continues to approve offshore oil permits despite railing against offshore oil drilling.”
In contrast with the oil industry’s contention that stopping oil drilling will throw many oil workers out of work, Tucker noted that “oil workers will have plenty of work plugging thousands of idle and marginally producing wells and restoring the environment for a long time to come.”
“Oil regulators are starting to do their job by denying fracking permits on the basis of protecting public health and the environment in advance of Newsom’s ban on fracking by 2024,” concluded Tucker.
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Background: Big Oil exerts enormous influence over California regulators
Big Oil is the biggest and most powerful corporate lobby in Sacramento — and the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) is the biggest and most powerful lobbying organization. Big Oil, along with corporate agribusiness, developers, big water agencies, timber companies, and other Big Money interests, has captured the regulatory apparatus in California.
Just four oil industry lobbyist employers alone — the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), Chevron, Aera Energy and California Resources Corporation — spent $10,192,047 lobbying the Governor’s Office, Legislature and regulatory agencies to advance Big Oil’s agenda in 2020, according to data posted on the California Secretary of State’s website by February 1, 2021.
The Western States Petroleum Association spent a total of $4,267,181, less than half of the $8.8 million that it spent in 2019.
The San Ramon-based Chevron, a beneficiary of many new fracking permits this year, spent $4,091,501 in California 2020, less than the $5.9 million in spent in 2019.
Another big spender and beneficiary of large numbers of new fracking permits this year, Aera Energy, spent a total of $795,099 on lobbying California officials in 2020.
Aera Energy has close ties with the Governor’s Office. In November, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on how Governor Gavin Newsom didn’t follow his own COVID pandemic guidelines when he attended a birthday party for Jason Kinney, a close friend and advisor, at the French Laundry Restaurant in Napa. Kinney is a lobbyist for Axiom Advisors, who lobbies for Aera Energy and other energy corporations.
Jointly owned by Shell and ExxonMobil, Aera produces nearly a quarter <https://www.aeraenergy.com/who-we-are/> of California’s oil and gas production. Aera paid Axiom Advisors $200,000 during 2019 and 2020 for lobbying on oil and gas permitting issues and other matters, according to Donny Shaw and Eric Seidman in Sludge: Newsom Delivers for Energy Clients of Lobbyist He Celebrated at French Laundry: readsludge.com/...
Finally, the California Resources Corporation, a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum, spent $1,038,266 to influence state officials in 2020.
Lobbying is just one of the seven methods that Big Oil uses in California to exercise inordinate influence over California regulators. WSPA and Big Oil wield their power in 7 major ways: through (1) lobbying; (2) campaign spending; (3) serving on and putting shills on regulatory panels; (4) creating Astroturf groups; (5) working in collaboration with media; (6) creating alliances with labor unions; and (7) contributing to non profit organizations.
The oil industry exerts inordinate influence over the regulators by using a small fraction of the billions of dollars in profits it makes every year to lobby state officials and fund political campaigns.
For example, Big Oil spent an amazing $266 million influencing California politics from 2005 to 2014, according to an analysis of California Secretary of State data by StopFoolingCA.org, an online and social media public education and awareness campaign that highlights oil companies’ efforts to “mislead and confuse Californians.”
The industry spent $112 million of this money on lobbying and the other $154 million on political campaigns
The inordinate influence by Big Oil on California politicians and regulators has resulted in widespread air, ground and water pollution with huge health impacts on mostly Black and Brown communities living near oil and gas wells.
Between 2008 and 2018 alone, oil and gas companies created a statewide total of over 1.3 trillion gallons of oil and gas wastewater in California, enough liquid to fill over 17.6 million household bathtubs, according to a report <http://earthworks.org/wasting-CA>released by Earthworks, along with allies VISION California and Center for Biological Diversity.
LEE EDMUNDSON wrote:
So very sorry hearing of Lanny Cotler’s passing.
I worked on his and his brother Steve’s movie “Heartwood” back in the 1990s as a background extra (the Paymaster). There were lots of us extras. We weren’t paid money, but fed well and given merchandise — flashlights, coolers, sweatshirts and the like — local businesses had donated to the effort.
On the final night of the shoot — it had gone late and jeez it was bloody cold up there — we were riding back to the rendezvous parking area in a donated school bus — when he related to me how proud he was of everyone who’d participated in the making of the movie; how he wished he could have done more to thank us.
I told him that he could do more. He asked How? I suggested that he add all our names (the extras) into the final credits of the film. Extras are never credited in movies. I said that would give each and every one a memorial for their contribution. You know, for their kids and family’s.
Dang if he didn’t do just that.
That’s the kind of guy he was. A real mensch.
One more good one gone.
WE FOUND this online list of "Heartwood" cast and crew: imdb.com/title/tt0119269/fullcredits/?ref_=tt_cl_sm