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DRY WEATHER is forecast to prevail for the next 7 days. Above normal daytime temperatures are also expected, especially for the interior this weekend and early next week. (NWS)
THIS MORNING'S LOWS: Yorkville 32°, Boonville 39°
16 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.
MENDOCINO RAILWAY COMPLETES ACQUISITION OF FORMER MILLSITE FROM GEORGIA PACIFIC
Fort Bragg, California, - (November 22, 2021) – The 136-year-old Mendocino Railway completed the acquisition from Georgia Pacific (GP) of its former millsite in Fort Bragg on November 19, 2021. While once employing 2,000 workers, the GP millsite has been shuttered for two decades. The successful reuse of the millsite would be a huge economic catalyst for the City of Fort Bragg and the North Coast.
This acquisition reunifies the railroad and millsite. Mike Hart, CEO of Sierra Railroad Company (Mendocino Railway’s parent company) stated, “The railroad and millsite successfully worked together for over a century. Unfortunately, they both fell on hard times after the railroad was sold off. The millsite closed in 2002 and the railroad went bankrupt in 2003.”
“For the past two decades, we’ve been trying to put the pieces back together,” added Hart. Mendocino Railway purchased the assets of the California Western Railroad out of bankruptcy in 2004 with the approval of the United States Surface Transportation Board.
“While the railroad suffered from neglect, we’ve spent years fixing it up and we now have record ridership. We’re now completing a federal loan that will enable us to address the last big obstacle: the reopening of Tunnel #1.
While Mendocino Railway was improving the railroad, it has also been in negotiations with GP to purchase the millsite. Hart said, “One of the first calls we made after getting the railroad was to GP to begin negotiations to purchase the millsite to restore the business as a single entity. While we were close to a deal for some time, I think GP wanted to first complete its environmental remediation of the site.”
While GP worked through their remediation, they provided the City with 85 acres of the millsite in 2009. In 2019 GP sold 15 acres to the Harvest Market, a local grocery store. GP then sold the 77-acre northern portion to Mendocino Railway in June 2019. Since Mendocino Railway had been working within the City’s planning process, Mendocino Railway was within months able to present the City with detailed plans for the reuse of the property, to very positive reviews.
One of the key features of the millsite is a 70,000 square foot historic “Dryshed” building. The city almost allowed this building to be demolished in 2018 but Mendocino Railway and local advocates helped save it. Mendocino is now rehabilitating the Dryshed and placing it back into service. Mendocino Railway will relocate its locomotive work to the Dryshed while rebuilding its historic Roundhouse. Once the locomotives can move back into the Roundhouse, Mendocino Railway will then begin work to repurpose the building, potentially as a community theater and marketplace.
The City’s Planning Process for reusing the millsite has had its setbacks. In 2019 the City let go of the Community Development Director who had led the process for 15+ years. In 2020 the Harvest Market canceled their development following concerns. In 2021 the city abandoned its own planning process and directed Mendocino Railway to submit its own master plan for review.
Despite these setbacks, Mendocino Railway pressed on. Mendocino first acquired Harvest Market’s 15-acre site. Mendocino is considering building a station at this site with a visitors’ center. Mendocino then worked with GP to acquire the balance of the millsite so it could complete a single master plan for the property as requested by the City, recently acquiring that property.
Mendocino Railway has taken on responsibility for completing the remediation of the millsite. Robert Pinoli, CEO of Mendocino Railway, stated, “Mendocino Railway has worked with the DTSC since 2004 when we acquired the railroad, and we look forward to continuing to work with the DTSC to ensure that remediation of the millsite is appropriately completed. We also look forward to working with the City of Fort Bragg, local partners, and our community at large to do our best to ensure that development of the former millsite meets our community’s needs. We also plan to work with the California Coastal Commission to ensure that the property’s final plans reflect the best interest of all parties.”
Hart concluded, “We believe that we are the only local organization that is both willing and able to take on this project. We hope that we succeed and are an asset to Fort Bragg and the North Coast.”
Mendocino Railway is the owner and operator of the historic Skunk Train and California Western Railroad and the provider of more than 50 local jobs. Mendocino Railway is a Class III common carrier railroad and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sierra Railroad Company.
Media Contact: Robert Jason Pinoli, President, Mendocino Railway
(Mendocino Railway Presser)
SKUNK TRAIN BUYS FORT BRAGG MILL SITE
Skunk Train Owner’s Acquisition Of Fort Bragg Mill Site Upends City Plans Amid Growing Conflict, Mistrust
by Mary Callahan
The owner of Fort Bragg’s iconic Skunk Train now owns nearly the entire west side of town after using its status as a federally recognized railroad to pursue the vacant Georgia-Pacific mill site through eminent domain.
The move has unleashed a fury in the Mendocino Coast community, with one Fort Bragg official calling it “a land grab.”
Whoever possesses the more-than-300-acre bluff-top property ― with its sweeping views of the rugged coastline and the ocean beyond ― in effect holds title to the city’s future. That means a single owner will now control the type and scale of new residential, business and tourist-oriented development in a community badly in need of renewal.
Officials with the Mendocino Railway, owner of the Skunk Train and the River Fox Train near Sacramento, said they’ve long bolstered the Fort Bragg economy and are ready to move forward with a unified plan for the roughly 375 acres it now holds.
The company has spent most of 20 years trying to acquire the property and working with the city and the public on a vision for the site, representatives said.
After the decline of the timber and fishing industries over recent decades, the city has taken too long on its own planning efforts for the lumber mill site, shuttered in 2002, said Skunk Train president Robert Pinoli.
“Let’s get on with doing something that’s productive,” he said.
But for city officials, the railway’s acquisition amounts to an end-run just as the city itself was close to a deal with Georgia-Pacific. That deal, they say, would have allowed for greater civic involvement as well as enhanced environmental oversight and greater public good.
“It is a land grab,” said Vice Mayor Jessica Morsell-Haye. “There’s no other name for it. They now own 20% of this damn town.”
The company plans to tie the land to expanded rail use in an area where the city envisioned expanded open space and inroads toward a new “blue economy” focused on ocean resources and resilience.
City officials argue a small out-and-back “excursion line” with no connection to the national rail system for the past two decades hardly warrants the standing of a public utility that should enable it to condemn property.
Georgia-Pacific initially fought the eminent domain in court, but agreed to a settlement that allows Pinoli’s company to acquire it at its appraised value of $1.23 million.
The city has filed a separate suit in Mendocino County Superior Court challenging the railway’s standing as “a common carrier” providing ‘transportation.” The suit seeks in the meantime to ensure the railway complies with city ordinances, codes and authorities.
Officials are worried about federal law that grants railway-related development immunity from state and local regulation ― an arrangement over which the city and the railway already have butted heads.
For instance, Pinoli said the railway’s plan to run the Skunk Train line out to popular Glass Beach and along a relatively new public coastal trail at the very edge of the mill site will not be subject to environmental review even though most coastal development undergoes an extra layer of oversight via the California Coastal Commission.
“That’s a problem,” Mayor Bernie Norvell said.
The railway also rejected several city efforts to enforce permit requirements on structural improvements on mill property it owned before the condemnation effort, raising additional concerns about the degree to which the railroad is prepared to abide by local standards.
But Pinoli said all work still is subject to building codes, even if it is exempt from a permit. He said anything except railway-related activities ― housing, commercial uses, a hotel ― would be subject to the planning and permitting process.
He also said the city had ample notice about his company’s interest in the site, which began in 2004, when Mendocino Railway first began talking to Georgia-Pacific about acquiring some of the site ― a year after it bought the Skunk Train out of bankruptcy and two years after the mill closed down and the city lost 2,000 solid jobs.
When the railway initially purchased 77 acres of the northern mill site in 2019, company officials noted the tie to historic uses of rail in the area. The company also bought 15 acres from Harvest Market, which had planned a store there but decided against it.
The railway’s most recent acquisition includes 210 acres from the main mill site and 62 acres running inland along Pudding Creek on the north. It paid $1.23 million for the land ― a steal it would seem ― though the railroad expects to spend almost three times that much for environmental remediation, Pinoli said.
(Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
FORT BRAGG OFFICIALS OBJECT to Skunk Acquisition of Mill Site
by Chris Calder
Fort Bragg City Council members squared off Monday night with managers and owners of Mendocino Railways, operator of the Skunk Train, over the railroad's recently announced acquisition by eminent domain of the remaining 270 acres the railroad did not already own of the town's oceanside former millsite.
The tense council meeting discussion — at which members voted unanimously to oppose a federal rail loan that Mendocino Railways has applied for to make track and tunnel repairs — followed an announcement last week that Georgia-Pacific had ceded the remainder of the millsite, vacant and on the market for the past 19 years, to Mendocino Railways after the railroad filed an eminent domain lawsuit for the land in October. The railroad has also claimed land along both banks of the Pudding Creek estuary. On Tuesday morning, the Skunk Train — which already owns the portion of the millsite north of Redwood Ave. — issued a news release on Facebook saying the transaction for the south end and Pudding Creek estuary had closed escrow and is final.
The news was greeted with frank dismay Monday by all five city council members, who had been negotiating the city's own purchase of the millsite's southern portion during closed session meetings with Georgia-Pacific over the past two years.
The city also filed suit in Mendocino County Superior Court earlier this month challenging the Skunk Train's status as a freight railroad. “Freight” status, as opposed to being considered an excursion train, gives the Skunk much broader land use powers, and losing that status could affect its ability to do things like acquire land via eminent domain or be exempt from local and state zoning laws.
Council member Tess Albin-Smith said the Skunk's recent moves make her wary.
“When you look at someone owning 20% of the town, it's like we now have another member at the council table,” said council member Albin-Smith. “It's like a takeover.”
Council member Lindy Peters said his opposition was based on years of community meetings about the millsite in which “I never heard anybody say, ‘Let's turn the whole thing into a train yard’.”
Mayor Bernie Norvell focused his opposition on reports that Mendocino Railways might be interested in operating on the now-closed North Coast Rail Authority line along the Eel River, possibly to transport gravel between Dos Rios and Fort Bragg. The NCRA line is the focus of an effort championed by State Senator Mike McGuire to create “The Great Redwood Trail,” a camping and hiking corridor along the Eel River. It has also drawn the attention of a group of Wyoming coal interests looking for a way to ship their product to the Far East, possibly using Northern California rail lines to do so.
Norvell cited a conversation he had with Skunk Train President Robert Pinoli in which he said Pinoli told him the Skunk would not be subject to any local regulations on its railroad operations, for why he was leery of the railroad's plans and opposing the federal rail loan.
Vice Mayor Jessica Morsell-Haye was frankly distrustful of the company: “It was working with them (Mendocino Railways) that has made me lose trust in them,” she said.
Morsell-Haye said she thinks the Skunk Train owning the property could end the possibility for public facilities like athletic fields, or a new hospital or college, on the millsite.
Railroad officials, who have unveiled a couple of plans for retail and housing development on the north end of the millsite in recent years but nothing detailed for the new chunk of land they now own, expressed bafflement Monday at city officials' stances, and frustration that the city would oppose any federal rail loan — which the city had supported on the railroad's last three tries — flowing to the community.
Mendocino Railway co-owner Mike Hart accused city government of secrecy and hostility toward the railroad over the closed session meetings the council has held to discuss a millsite purchase over the past couple of years, though the negotiations have been reported on in local media and were common knowledge.
“The city should stop hiding behind closed doors and shed some light on this,” Hart said.
Chris Hart, Mike Hart's brother and Mendocino Railways co-owner as well, said “You supported this (loan) for three years and now you're opposing it. This feels like retaliation.”
Skunk Train President Pinoli emphasized the rail line's economic importance for Fort Bragg's tourist economy — he estimated the rail line brings $12 million a year in spending to the area. Pinoli denied that Mendocino Railways is involved in efforts to ship coal along the NCRA line, but acknowledged that the railroad has intervened to try to require the NCRA to follow formal abandonment procedures.
“We're a rails and trails organization,” he said, “not a rails to trails organization.”
However, Pinoli insisted, “We are absolutely not involved whatsoever with anything to do with coal.”
Members of the public weighed in for and against various aspects of the Skunk Train/millsite scenario, although what that scenario is remains pretty unclear. Despite a mailer sent out last week that included an architect's drawing of housing and retail development for the north side of the site, no formal development proposals have been made, and representatives of the railroad, which uses about four acres on the millsite for its current operations, gave no specifics Monday on how they plan to use the additional 272 millsite acres, or what they intend to use the land they now own along Pudding Creek for.
Council members voted 5-0 to approve the letter opposing a new federal loan for Mendocino Railways.
Randal S. MacDonald of Comptche died unexpectedly on October 6, 2021. He was 62 years old.
Husband, Son, Brother, Stepfather and friend, Randy was an inspiration to all who met him. Born in Alameda, California, he was the oldest child of James MacDonald and Charlotte Fleming.
Coming from a long line of activists. Randy was passionate about politics, the environment and social justice. Some of Randy's notable ancestors included author Nathaniel Hawthorne and abolitionist John Brown. His immediate family continues the tradition of activism today.
After many years on the road, Randy returned to college and graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Oregon in 1990, with honors in his major, Political Science. He went on to become Director of Legislative and Community Affairs for U of O where he helped achieve restoration of $100 million in state funding for Oregon public higher education in 1996.
He served as elected City Councilor in Eugene, Oregon and was most proud to have led the effort to win voter approval of a $10 million bond to build and improve Eugene's fire department facilities.
Randy discovered Comptche while considering a move back to California in 2000. Within months he had found his forever home and gained a new community. Randy was passionate about the land and his stewardship of it. To that end he planted 2800 redwoods on his 50 acres to aid its return to the natural conifer forest it once was.
Randy joined the Comptche Volunteer Fire Department in 2001 and later served as Second Assistant Chief & Communications Officer for 10 years before a vision problem caused him to step down as a firefighter. He served the department as Safety Officer until his death. While an active firefighter, Randy trained as a Strike Team Leader and was so proud to fight fire alongside Cal Fire at a number of major incidents.
In addition to his dedication to the Fire Department and its members, Randy lobbied for and succeeded in bringing high speed internet to Comptche in 2009 while advocating in Washington DC for all rural communities to have connectivity.
As partner/owner and COO of Wild Iris Medical Education, an online continuing education provider for health care professionals, Randy was at the forefront of creating a successful internet based business with multiple employees who could all work from home.
Randy sat on many committees and boards of groups fighting for action on climate change including as Chair of the Redwood Chapter of the Sierra Club's Climate and Energy Committee. He believed that he needed to work tirelessly on climate action while he still had breath in his body.
He leaves behind his loving wife Janis, stepson Jonathan Darrow, father James MacDonald and his wife Carol, sister Gail Reid, Mark Reid and niece Brenna of Mountain View CA, sister Charlotte MacDonald, nieces Stella & Sylvia of Portland OR. Stepfather Ed Lungren of Tiburon CA, stepbrother Rande Machell and nieces Ariel and Lily and nephew Tyler.
Randy's life, his presence, his strength and his commitment to the people he loved and the causes he believed in cannot be matched. He will be so deeply missed in so many hearts.
His was a light that could not be dimmed.
A memorial service will be held at the Comptche Volunteer Fire Department on Saturday Dec. 4 at 1pm. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the CVFD, PO Box 164, Comptche CA 95427 or CLEAN PAC c/o Kieloch Consulting 228 2nd Street, S.E. Washington, DC 20003
FORT BRAGG CITY MANAGER TABATHA MILLER TO RESIGN January 2022. No immediate plans afterward.
Tabatha Miller, Fort Bragg’s City Manager since early 2018, told City Council last Friday that she will be stepping down from her role on January 22, 2022.
Miller told us she would rather “lay low” in her exit, but took the time to highlight some of the work she focused on while City Manager and express her gratitude for the citizens of Fort Bragg.
Despite the correlation, Miller told us the city’s recent bouts with Georgia Pacific, the Skunk Train, and the recent acquisition of the mill site was not a factor in her exit. She told us, “I am not sure what my plans are,” but has a handful of possibilities on her horizon....
MONTGOMERY WOODS photos by Dick Whetstone
PG&E PLANS FOR FAULKNER PARK: DEVASTATING & WASTEFUL
Observations and Comments on Proposed Tree Removal in Faulkner Park
I recently visited Faulkner Park at the request of opponents of the proposed PG&E tree removal within the park. After observing for myself the extent of the work PG&E intends to do there I offer the following comments.
First, I’d like to say that I worked as a timber faller in redwood forests for over 10 years, including stands of residual old growth and have some considerable experience with how forests respond to the removal of a significant numbers of trees within a stand.
I also did removal of “threat trees” in the vicinity of structures for 30 years including occasionally the falling of burning trees within an active wildland fire.
My principle observation of the proposed work is that it would truly devastate the park. The number and size of the trees that PG&E proposes to remove would forever change the Park in a truly terrible way. Several of the trees marked for removal are ten feet or more in diameter. Even if these trees are taken down in sections by skilled climbers, there will be considerable damage to the surrounding vegetation and soils either by vegetation being crushed or soil compaction created by the use of the very large heavy equipment required to move logs of the size that would be created. This really amounts to logging the Park which would be almost impossible to do if it were subject to the Forest Practice Rules governing all commercial logging in California, particularly since there is a seasonal stream flowing through the stand where most of the trees scheduled for removal are located.
Another aspect of the work that is proposed in Falkner Park is that a very significant portion of the trees adjacent to the roadway will be removed. Many additional large trees will also be removed at greater distances from the road and power lines. The cumulative effect of this type of logging is that it reduces the ability of the remaining trees to withstand wind. Anyone who has worked year after year in a forest being actively logged has observed this effect. In the first several years following logging, there is a very significant number of “wind fall” trees that are unable to withstand even normal seasonal winds without the support and resistance presented by the intact forest.
Having considerable experience in logging and residential tree removal I have very real doubts that the cost of removing these trees will be less than the cost of either undergrounding or rerouting the power lines further from the road. It is my understanding that PG&E has elected not to pursue this option because the proposed tree removal is billed to a maintenance budget and undergrounding would be billed to “New Construction” the difference being that maintenance cost are more easily passed on to ratepayers.
It is my considered opinion that the proposed tree removal at Faulkner Park is a terrible idea, the effects of which will be felt forever. These old growth redwoods will never be replaced. I also think that it will likely be a more expensive option. Undergrounding or moving the power lines would be a much better option.
Like most rural homeowners I am generally very much in support of the work PG&E is doing but the proposed work in Faulkner Park is penny wise and pound foolish from several perspectives.
Fire Chief (Retired) Anderson Valley Fire Department
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THE HARMFUL EFFECTS OF PG&E’S TREE REMOVAL Practices and Recommended Alternatives to Prevent Utility Wildfires
Power utility safety must be a top priority for PG&E. The science is available through technical advancements that would render wildfires from utility lines a thing of the past. Multifunction protection relays (computerized circuit breakers) that remotely shut down feeder circuits and steel core insulated conductor cables lasting up to 40 years are available. Capable of detecting electrical faults, they shut down instead of breaking wires that spark and create wildfires. Instead of updating its antiquated infrastructure, PG&E has chosen to down trees within its right-of-way (ROW) that are healthy, as well as trees on private properties adjoining the ROW. Through regulations, property owners have the right to privacy and should receive a Notice and Consent, and compensation for damaged property; however, there is no process for requesting an inspection, owner oversight, alternative suggestions, payment for damages, descriptions of proposed work, or right to refuse. This needs to change. In addition, there are multiple definitions for “Hazard/Damage” trees by different agencies that need to be replaced with one definition. Also, there are no California tree species education and experience requirements for arborists who mark and take down the Hazard/Damage trees, resulting in destruction of healthy trees. Finally, PG&E has lobbied for and influenced legislation and public opinion toward tree removal rather than upgrade its infrastructure. The problem is not the trees—it is the need for PG&E to upgrade its outdated utility infrastructure
. . .
After decades of infrastructure neglect, PG&E has received 6 federal felony convictions and 84 manslaughter convictions for failing to maintain safe and reliable gas and electrical systems. Faced with lawsuits, legislative action, and bankruptcy, PG&E still fails to confront the emergency nature of improving its antiquated infrastructure. There are five primary issues that cause this problem: lack of circuit safety, incursion onto private lands, a vague definition of Hazard/Danger trees, arborist non-qualifications, and misleading influence.
One way to directly improve PG&E’s performance would be for the court to revise its tree-cutting mandate and replace it with a mandate to update the unsafe infrastructure. Court action would thereby expedite replacement of aboveground bare wire distribution lines with a combination of underground distribution lines, and aboveground triple insulated steel reinforced cable and advanced circuit protection, as the most effective and primary means of reducing utility-caused wildfires. Vegetation management should be secondary as it is temporary and results in environmental degradation. The infrastructure should be designed to be fail safe.
PG&E’s EVM program is causing extensive environmental damage to public and private lands. This is exacerbated by PG&E’s dependence on unqualified arborists using broad and misleading Hazard/Danger tree definitions. Their EVM is causing the loss of millions of healthy mature trees and loss of carbon sequestration. In addition, the people of California face increased erosion and risk of flooding, damage to property and communities, loss of wildlife habitat, increased fire risk from wind tunnel dispersed firebrands, flammable invasive plants, and hotter local microclimates.
Private property owners deserve to have regulations revised to include processes for notice prior to work, right to negotiate or refuse, and a system for collecting on damages. Arborists must be trained and/or experienced in working with California tree species in relation to their responses to wind and fire. A single clear definition of Hazard/Danger trees needs to be established for arborists. The public deserves a safe and reliable system as stated in the CPUC mission.
(Sierra Club White Paper)
From Last Tuesday’s Board Meeting Public Input: NO ON CONSOLIDATION
The Honorable Board of Supervisors of Mendocino County
I worked full-time for the County from 1987 through most of 2014 in various accounting, auditing and administrative positions, in the Auditor-Controller's Office, the Sheriff's Office and the Probation Department. I hold a CPA certificate from the State of California, and during my career I participated in hundreds of hours of continuing professional education in governmental accounting. I believe there are principles governing the purpose of local governments, the efficient and effective delivery of governmental services, the safeguarding of public assets, and the fiduciary duty of governments to the public they serve, which must be fiercely protected.
The proposal to merge the Auditor-Controller and the Treasurer Offices would weaken the internal accounting and auditing controls, and would unnecessarily increase the risk that County assets could be misused without detection. Without being able to assure the public that such a measure will clearly provide benefits that significantly outweigh the related costs, this proposal should not be pursued. I have seen nothing in the County proposals that provide that assurance.
If both the Auditor-Controller and Treasurer positions were eliminated and replaced with a Director of Finance that reports to either the Board or the CEO, any controls over financial assets and enforcement of County policies regarding the propriety of public expenditures will most likely be lost. I can think of no scenario where this option would be an appropriate course of action.
In my 27+ years with the County, I have watched the reliance on accountants and auditors steadily diminish, year by year. This is a time we should be shoring-up our controls, not making them even weaker. As you consider the options before you, I ask that you place your own fiduciary duty to the public high on the list of priorities you will use in making a decision.
A good Auditor-Controller and Treasurer-Tax Collector may not always tell you what you want to hear, but they will tell you what you need to hear, which is not as much fun but far more valuable. I urge each of you to support recommended action #3, "Retain current structure of separate offices of the Auditor-Controller and the Treasurer-Tax Collector".
* * *
ED NOTE: The public (in this case a highly respected veteran of 27 years working with County finances) is warning the Supes not to go forward with the ill-advised consolidation of the Auditor-Controller & Treasurer-Tax Collector, but just like the cannabis ordinance debacle, nobody on the Board is listening to anyone but their CEO.
GOT ONE TO DONATE? Season greetings! Does anyone have an acoustic or classical guitar they would like to donate? It will be given to Mendocino County Jail, and enjoyed by resident musicians reconnecting with their talents.
Via nonprofit Unconditional Freedom Project
YESTERDAY: The jury in the trial of three white men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery has reached a verdict. Gunman Travis McMichael was found guilty on the charge of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit a felony. His father, Gregory McMichael was found guilty of felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit a felony. He was found not guilty of malice murder. Neighbor William 'Roddie' Bryan was found guilty of felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit a felony. He was found not guilty of malice murder and one count each of felony murder and aggravated assault. After being sworn in more than two weeks ago, the disproportionately white jury heard from more than two dozen witnesses - including gunman Travis McMichael, the only defendant to take the witness stand - and was presented with evidence photos, police body camera video, autopsy reports and more. McMichael, 35, his father, Gregory McMichael, 65, and neighbor William 'Roddie' Bryan Jr., 52, all pleaded not guilty to charges including murder, aggravated assault and false imprisonment for the killing in the coastal suburb of Satilla Shores on Feb. 23, 2020. The McMichaels told police they suspected Arbery was a fleeing burglar when they armed themselves and jumped in a pickup truck to chase him.
HITCHCOCK'S ‘DIAL M FOR MURDER’ IN 3D
Weds Dec. 1 at 7 at Coast Cinemas in Fort Bragg
Tickets $15 on Eventbrite, at the door, on the Coast Cinemas' website & app
CRAB SEASON BEGINS DECEMBER 1ST
Humpback whales have migrated out of Fishing Zones 1 and 2 and crabs there have passed quality testing, which means that the commercial fishery north of the Sonoma/Mendocino county line to the Oregon state line will open on Dec. 1, giving commercial crabbers the opportunity to get crab on tables and menus before the year is out. The commercial fishery is currently open in Fishing Zones 5 and 6, from Lopez Point in Monterey County to the Mexico border. The commercial fishery will continue to be delayed in Fishing Zones 3 and 4, from the Sonoma/Mendocino county line to Lopez Point, due to the presence of high numbers of humpback whales in the Gulf of the Farallones and Monterey Bay.
Early reports of successful crabbing are coming in from recreational crabbers in Fishing Zones 1 and 2 and those using hoop nets in Fishing Zones 3 and 4. The recreational fishery for Dungeness crab is open statewide (all Fishing Zones) with a temporary crab trap restriction for Fishing Zones 3 and 4. The temporary trap restriction in Fishing Zones 3 and 4 will continue due to the presence of humpback whales and the potential for entanglement in trap gear. Recreational take of Dungeness crab by other methods, including hoop nets and crab snares, is not affected by the temporary trap restriction.
“Based on aerial and vessel-based surveys, and after consulting with the Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will continue to delay the commercial fishery and temporarily restrict recreational crab traps in Fishing Zones 3 and 4,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “Available data indicate high numbers of whales remain in the fishing grounds. When data indicate whales have migrated out of the fishing grounds, CDFW stands ready to open the commercial season and lift the temporary recreational trap restriction in Fishing Zones 3 and 4.”
In early December, the CDFW Director will reassess entanglement risk in Fishing Zones 3 and 4. CDFW staff, collaborators and partners have scheduled additional surveys in the next two weeks that, weather permitting, are anticipated to provide the data necessary to reassess whale presence. It is anticipated that the next risk assessment will occur on or before Dec. 15.
The CDFW Director is also continuing a Fleet Advisory for all Fishing Zones once they are open that reminds both the commercial and recreational fisheries to implement best practices, as described in the Best Practices Guide (PDF)(opens in new tab).
New this season is the addition of entanglement risk delays to the fair start provision described under Fish and Game Code section 8279.1. This provision prohibits a person from taking, possessing onboard or landing crab for commercial purposes from a vessel in an area previously delayed due to marine life entanglement risk, human health risk (e.g. domoic acid), or poor crab quality for a period of 30 days from the date of the opening if that vessel previously participated in other commercial Dungeness crab fishing areas (including those in Oregon and Washington) during the same season.
CDFW, partnering researchers and federal agencies have conducted numerous aerial and vessel-based surveys from the Oregon state line to the Channel Islands in Southern California to observe marine life concentrations. Those surveys, and other data inputs including important oceanographic data, inform the Risk Assessment Mitigation Program. This large collaborative effort works to use the best available science to manage an important California fishery. Its primary goal is to strike a balance between minimizing entanglement risk and providing fishing opportunity and ultimately fresh Dungeness crab for California residents. For more information related to the risk assessment process, please visit CDFW’s Whale Safe Fisheries page or more information on the Dungeness crab fishery, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/crab including FAQs for the new recreational crab trap regulations.
(CA Fish & Wildlife Presser)
MANSON CHAT. I've always thought that Charles Manson represented all the hippies rolled into one super menace to all non-hippies. Mendocino County having become a sort of criminal sanctuary beginning in the late 1960s — Manson's “family” settled briefly on Gwschend Road, closer to Navarro than Philo, in 1969. His murderous flock was followed by several other world class psychopaths who touched down in hippie-friendly areas of the county from the late 1960s through the 1970s, not including Rev. Jim Jones and the Moonies. But there were many other faux-hippie sociopaths less murderous than ol' Chuck who feasted on the hippies, most of whom were, after all, the boys and girls from suburban next door without experience of human predators. Dangerous men grew long hair and beards to feast on the legions of wide-eyed stoners unequipped to defend themselves against them.
WHY did so many famous killers land in the Anderson Valley particularly and other counter-culture bastions like Greenfield Ranch northwest of Ukiah? Because land was cheap and there was lots of it in Anderson Valley and all over the Northeast, and for the convenience of psychopaths, the fertile hunting grounds of the San Francisco Bay Area was only a couple of hours south.
OF COURSE there were hippies and there were hippies. I was certainly a non-marijuana smoking hip-symp in my early days in Boonville because hippies were the only people I regularly encountered until I began meeting locals through the various local men's softball and basketball leagues, tried and true male bonding channels in those days. But squalor and sloth, as a way of life, never had any appeal for me and so thoroughly repelled my wife, who regarded the whole movement as deadbeats and leeches, that she still occasionally mentions how irritating she found the entire counterculture. But after a winter or two in an uninsulated shack is it really surprising that Hippie, Rural Division, soon came and went?
GOTTA DISAGREE with my colleague, Tommy Wayne, on Manson. He finds a new book on Manson plausible in suggesting that Manson was some kind of CIA-sponsored project. Doubt it. The CIA is, supposedly, prohibited from operating inside the United States, not that mere legalisms ever stopped them from doing all kinds of cockamamie stuff including, lots of people think, the assassination of JFK. I think the definitive Manson bio remains the fascinating “Life and Times of Charles Manson” by Jeff Guinn which establishes, to my satisfaction anyway, that Manson was what my grandmother called “bad seed,” a guy raised in safe and secure circumstances by people who loved him but went bad and stayed bad by choice.
GEORGE DORNER asked, “Did O’Neill mention the double murder of Clyda Dulaney and Nancy Warren? They were murdered the month after Nancy Brunner reclaimed her infant.”
Mr. D's REFERENCE is to the O'Neill bio's mention of that infamous murder on 101 (opposite the former Retech at the foot of the McNab Ranch) often attributed to the Manson Family who were in the area at the time. Chuck himself was briefly detained for other stuff in the Mendocino County Jail.
ACE RESEARCHER, DEB SILVA elaborates:
“I might add, that by all accounts I have read, Nancy Brunner’s child was taken from her when she was arrested. I have never before read that Brunner gave birth in jail. There has been a rumor that Clyda Dulaney was murdered because she was married to the CHP sergeant that led the team that arrested Brunner and Co. George, the 2 1/2-month-old infant taken into custody when the Manson Family girls were arrested was the child of Mary Brunner, not Nancy. He was not born in the Ukiah jail. He was born while the Family was on the road. When the baby was just two weeks old the Family was arrested in Ventura County, basically for vagrancy. They were found to be sleeping, in the nude, alongside a Ventura County Road. Manson’s mug shot from that arrest is the crazy-eyed photo that most people are familiar with which appeared on the cover of the album, LIE, produced by other Family members to raise money for Manson’s defense. The CHP was not the lead agency in arresting the Manson girls in Philo in 1968. That arrest fell under the jurisdiction of the Sheriff’s department. Since there were nine adults and three juveniles arrested and all taken into custody, I suppose it’s possible that the CHP could have provided some of the transportation to the jail.”
WONDER what happened to that kid? Imagine being the son of a Manson Girl! Maybe like a lot of children born to the footloose of that time, little George did a 180 from his deformative years and went on to lead the much sneered at “straight life” his aberrant parents borned him into.
YOU'RE NOT HIM, AL, BESIDES WHICH….
On Sunday, November 14, 2021 at 10:43 P.M. Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were on routine patrol in the area of northbound Highway 101 at River Street in Ukiah.
Deputies observed a Buick sedan with expired registration. The Deputies effected a traffic stop on the Buick and contacted the two occupants. The passenger identified himself as Dwane Crow from Washington State. Crow advised the vehicle belonged to him; however Crow had been drinking, so he let his friend drive.
As the Deputies were talking to the driver and Crow, they observed suspected methamphetamine and a methamphetamine smoking pipe inside the vehicle. Crow was detained and both subjects were searched.
The methamphetamine pipe and a personal use amount of methamphetamine was found inside the vehicle.
During their investigation, the Deputies developed probable cause to believe Crow provided them with the name of another person. The Deputies located a prior booking photograph of Crow; which identified him as Alan Crow and learned he had a felony warrant out of Lake County.
The Deputies believed Crow provided the name of another person in order to evade arrest for the Lake County Warrant.
Crow was arrested for Felony False Impersonation of Another, Misdemeanor Possession of Controlled Substance, Misdemeanor Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and the felony warrant from Lake County.
Crow was transported to the Mendocino County Jail where he was booked on the above listed charges to be held in lieu of $30,000 bail.
HE PROBABLY HAD IT COMING, SANDRA, BUT STILL…
On Monday, November 15, 2021 at 8:00 P.M. Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched to a domestic dispute in the 2400 block of South State Street in Ukiah.
On arrival they contacted an adult 36-year old male, who was uncooperative and would not identify any other involved person(s).
The Deputies searched the area and located Sandra Ibarra a short distance away. Deputies learned Ibarra had been in an argument with her boyfriend and the father of her children. Ibarra stated the boyfriend pulled her sweater and bent her thumb backwards during the argument.
The Deputies responded back to the 2400 block of South State Street and contacted the adult male, who was determined to be the boyfriend.
During the contact, the Deputies located evidence to support probable cause to believe Ibarra became angry with the boyfriend and threw his cell phone. Ibarra then allegedly picked up a large piece of wood and hit the boyfriend with it.
Ibarra then picked up a frying pan and hit the boyfriend at least 10 times with the pan, causing it to bend and deform. Ibarra then punched the boyfriend in the face multiple times. The couple's children were present and witnessed the altercation.
Ibarra was arrested for Felony Domestic Violence Battery, Felony Assault With a Deadly Weapon Not a Firearm, and Misdemeanor Cruelty To Child.
Ibarra was transported to the Mendocino County Jail were she was booked on the above listed charges and to held in lieu of $25,000 bail.
DON'T SHOOT BOYS. IT'S SHOTGUN SHELLY
On Monday, November 15, 2021 at about 5:10 PM, Round Valley Tribal Police Officers were checking the welfare of Shelly Hoaglin, who had called 9-1-1 minutes prior.
As they arrived to make contact with Hoaglin, she was seen on her porch holding a phone. Hoaglin saw the Tribal Officers and went into her house and emerged holding a shotgun, which she pointed at the Tribal Officers.
The Officers were able to detain Hoaglin without incident until Sheriff's Deputies arrived.
A Deputy arrived at the location and found Hoaglin was displaying objective signs of being under the influence of a controlled substance. The 12-gauge shotgun that she pointed at Tribal Officers was found to be loaded with one round in the chamber.
The Deputy conducted a computer check on Hoaglin and found she was prohibited from owning/possessing firearms or ammunition.
Hoaglin was arrested and searched incident to arrest.
In Hoaglin's pocket, the Deputy located two live 12-gauge shotgun shells, and a plastic bag containing approximately 9.5 grams of suspect methamphetamine.
Hoaglin was arrested by Tribal Officers via Citizen's Arrest along with being under the influence of a controlled substance while armed, Possession of a controlled substance while armed with a loaded firearm, and Possession of a firearm and ammunition by a prohibited person.
Hoaglin was booked into the Mendocino County Jail where she was to be held in lieu of $35,000 bail.
I'LL HAVE A DECAF LATTE TO GO
On Friday, November 19, 2021 at about 4:00 PM, a Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputy was investigating a theft in which Summer Mascott was a person of interest in Fort Bragg.
The Deputy conducted a records check of Mascott and found her to be the subject of an active felony warrant issued by the El Dorado County Court.
The Deputy located Mascott in the Starbuck's parking lot and she was ultimately arrested pursuant to her warrant without incident.
Mascott was booked into the Mendocino County Jail where she was to be held on her no bail warrant.
MAYBE IN PAKISTAN, PERVINDER, BUT NOT HERE
On Saturday, November 20, 2021 at approximately 7:20 PM Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched to a domestic disturbance in the 24000 block of Foothill Boulevard in Covelo.
Upon the Deputies’ arrival they contacted two people who were married and had a child in common.
The couple had began arguing when Pervinder Lal pushed the adult female into a wall. This caused the female's head to hit the corner of the wall causing a visible injury.
Pervinder was arrested for domestic violence battery and he was booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in lieu of $25,000 bail.
WE LET HIM FINISH HIS CEREAL, BUT THEN…
On Saturday, November 20, 2021 at approximately 8:10 PM Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies attempted a Felony Arrest Warrant service at a location on South Airport Road in Covelo, California.
The warrant was issued in Mendocino County for Fox Blue Hoaglin, 45, of Covelo, and Deputies further knew he was on county parole (Post Release Community Supervision) with numerous terms.
When Deputies arrived at the location, they observed Hoaglin eating cereal inside the location. They contacted Hoaglin and advised him of the warrant for his arrest.
Deputies allowed Hoaglin to finish his cereal and put on shoes. Hoaglin then began wanting to change his clothes, smoke a cigarette and appeared to be stalling or looking for an opportunity to escape.
Deputies went to place Hoaglin in handcuffs when he began to resist and pull away from Deputies.
Hoaglin attempted to punch the Deputies and began trying to move towards a couch which had a large fixed blade knife on it.
Deputies were able to gain some control of Hoaglin but he continued to attempt to pull away. Deputies continued to verbally try to deescalate the situation and gave Hoaglin numerous verbal commands during the incident.
Deputies were able to apply handcuffs to Hoaglin and walked him out to the patrol vehicle without any further incident.
Hoaglin was arrested on the felony no bail warrant, with the added charges of resisting law enforcement with violence and violation of County Parole.
Hoaglin was booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held on a No-Bail status due to the arrest warrant.
KEEP THE DIVERSION DIVERTING
Santa Rosa, CA – November 22, 2021 – The Sonoma County Water Agency (Sonoma Water) has filed a petition with the State Water Resources Control Board to ensure that its already depleted reservoirs are not further affected by reduced flows from the Potter Valley Project due to a mechanical failure at the PG&E hydroelectric facility.
The Potter Valley Project (PVP) diverts water from the Eel River through a tunnel and hydropower facility operated by PG&E. The water flows through the Potter Valley and into Lake Mendocino. Typically, the water supply condition, which establishes minimum instream flows in the Russian River, is determined by inflow into Lake Pillsbury, located upstream of the Potter Valley Project. But because the water imported from the Eel River into the Russian River will be greatly diminished due to the hydropower plant failure, there will be little to no correlation between cumulative inflow into Lake Pillsbury and the hydrologic conditions in the Russian River watershed.
Sonoma Water has filed a Temporary Urgency Change Petition (TUCP) requesting that the water supply condition and associated minimum instream flow requirements be determined based on storage thresholds at Lake Mendocino. The same storage thresholds were requested by Sonoma Water in prior TUCPs filed in December 2013 and January 2021, which the State Water Board approved in orders issued on December 31, 2013 and February 4, 2021, respectively. Lake Mendocino and Lake Sonoma remain at or near their lowest levels for this time of year since filling in 1959 and 1986, respectively. This makes it even more critical that the water supply condition and corresponding minimum instream flows in the Russian River be determined by a hydrologic index representative of the Russian River watershed.
“This is a common-sense approach to a complex situation, which is exacerbated by the ongoing drought,” said Sonoma County Supervisor and Sonoma Water Board of Directors Chair Lynda Hopkins. “We need to do everything we can to maintain water in our reservoirs for the health and safety of our communities and environment. I’m hopeful the State Water Board will support our efforts to conserve every drop of water and get through this drought together.”
If the TUCP is approved, the water supply condition would remain “critical” through the December 31, 2021. On January 1, 2022 the water supply condition will be re-evaluated based on storage in Lake Mendocino and monthly thereafter until June 1, 2022 when the water supply condition will be set until the end of the year.
PG&E officials have indicated that it is unlikely the company will repair the facility given the likelihood that it may surrender its license to continue operating the PVP.
A copy of the November 2021 TUCP is available at: https://www.sonomawater.org/tucp
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS, an on-line comment:
I was randomly chosen to do a 1 hour session to answer questions about how prepared I myself as well as the community I live in is prepared for a natural disaster.
After answering all the questions, which was recorded, the lady stopped recording and asked if she could pick my brain. She had interviewed hundreds of people over the last 6 months. And had never heard some of my concerns. She asked if I was willing to give my contact info to the non profit that was sponsoring the research. Yes. Please.
In the thousands of interviews not one person mentioned the need for info to get to those who dont have tv, social media or cellphones. Those who are elderly, disabled, in cell dead zones, who have utilities included in rent that dont get the updates or info from utilities, the city, etc.
Some peoples only contact is meals on wheels or their in home care providers. Perhaps having these people have the info packets and updates available to pass on to their clients?
Also landlords should be required to pass on updates from utilities if their renters are not getting the bill.
I know this past outage many elderly and disabled were in the throngs of it.
We as a community need to not only prepare, and I hope this last PSPS was a wake up call, but also we need to have neighborhood meetings or lists of resources, who is disabled, elderly, needs checking on, has water storage, EMS skills, etc.
After chatting with her a bit I asked how many people she heard from that are concerned or prepared. She said she could not give me a number but after talking to me she realized that the number was probably less than 10 %.
No one had brought up the need for emergency supplies being away from their home in case of collapse, no one had thought of evacuations if bridges went out or their hospitals could not perform surgery, as happened to a family member this last PSPS.
And the one hospital they could go to was being evacuated. That those on oxygen couldn't just all go to the hospital and plug in. That our 'emergency shelter, the school, in a disaster had no water, heat, toilets.
We talked about the Valley fire and how somehow we as a community came together and housed hundreds that simply came for a football game but had no home to return to. How our community has turned into the go to for evacuees , some relocated here as they had no home town to go back to.
How 5 years ago this wasn't something we thought about, hosting hundreds or thousands with no notice. How gas shortages happen when the 101 is shut down or power out, with added evacuees in the mix.
How we are now surrounded by hundreds of thousands of intentionally dead standing trees between the coast and the 101 due to MRC, Lyme and others hack and squirting the oaks in the name of carbon credits, and higher yields for harvest plans, ironic really. How we used to have fog drip, and higher humidity levels. How fire was not a major concern close to the coast.
How even if you are fire safe, your neighbor may have tall grass and brush right up to your fence line and that puts you in even more danger.
I truly hope this past PSPS was a wake up call.
When the many microwave towers that support communication for EMS, dispatch, our fire and police go down, (these are already hanging on by a mere miracle and many loose service monthly as of now) what will the coast do.
The need for satellite phones at all fire, police, hospitals. Only a few have them as of now.
Anyhow, many meetings have and continue to happen. Give input, prepare, know your neighbors and have a long term plan.
It was mentioned at the last meeting a couple days ago OES had stated shall an earthquake st the triple junction occur we should prepare to be on our own for more than 2 months as resources will be sent to highly populated areas, such as the bay area.
I know I preach over and over...but prepare, get renters insurance, I have heard people say they cant get it, so I asked Pyorre insurance the other day about that. They have never NOT been able to acquire it for their customers.
What are your biggest concerns? What is the biggest reason or obstacle that you have come across to prepare? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Is it needing help to come up with a plan, lack of family or support in an emergency? Financial? Isolated from updates, news, information because your land lord does not pass on what they receive in bill?
Please attend the meetings happening...be it at the Caspar community center, city hall or other venues. Maybe many dont know about these meetings? Maybe a master list of when and where they are would help?
CATCH OF THE DAY, November 24, 2021
MELISSA BECK, Ukiah. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, trespassing/refusing to leave hotel or motel where accommodations are obtained but refusing to pay.
EUGENE HARRIS, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
CODY MENDEZ, Ukiah. Taking vehicle without owner’s consent, probation revocation.
JAVIER NUNEZ-GONZALEZ, Ukiah. DUI, concentrated cannabis, probation revocation.
JASON REED, Elk. DUI, battery, no license.
LEON RUTHERFORD, Lakeport/Ukiah. Domestic battery.
ROBERT THURMAN, Willits. Controlled substance for sale/transportation, paraphernalia, probation revocation.
JULIAN VENEGAS, Lakeport/Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs, suspended license, controlled substance.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Funny, the capricorns I know are THE most confused people. One, a jazz musician I dated for a few years, total narcissist.
Then the other was a childhood friend who was an even bigger self-involved mess. He became a salesman and then had his own company, that failed and he went back to work for the big guys. His wife pushed him to live above their means, and they had to ‘keep up with the Joneses” to the point where, they had a mansion in an upscale suburb, along with all the people who came from money (he did not).
And then he snapped, and went and held up a few banks and got caught and went to prison. Wife divorced him, and probably will make it tough to see his kids, although I talked to him once and I think he still was able to communicate with them. Thing was, he didn’t really care. He was happy in prison, returned to sketching and doing artwork and the stuff he was always interested in. Sad part is, he had zero remorse about what he did, and how it impacted his kids.
The third capricorn I know is a talented blues singer, and she was also tough to be friends with, but even though she was full of herself, she was also really funny and a pretty nice person underneath all the stage presence. I had some real fun times hanging with her. But ultimately, someone that wrapped up in themselves gets kinda boring, even if they are ‘larger than life.’
THANKSGIVING did not become a national holiday in the United States until the fall of 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation [written by Secretary of State William Seward] declaring that the last Thursday in November would be a day of national thanksgiving.
While Lincoln issued the proclamation, credit for making Thanksgiving a national holiday should go to Sarah Josepha Hale, the editor of Godey's Lady's Book, a popular magazine for women in 19th century America.
Hale, who campaigned for years to make Thanksgiving a nationally observed holiday, wrote to Lincoln on September 28, 1863, and urged him to issue a proclamation. Hale mentioned in her letter that having such a national day of Thanksgiving would establish a "great Union Festival of America."
With the United States in the depths of the Civil War, perhaps Lincoln was attracted to the idea of a holiday unifying the nation. At that time Lincoln was also contemplating delivering an address on the purpose of the war, which would become the Gettysburg Address….
ANSE HATFIELD IS PATRIARCH OF HATFIELD CLAN
William Anderson Hatfield was a Confederate soldier and the patriarch of his family during the Hatfield–McCoy feud, which has come to be known as one of the bloodiest family rivalries in the history of America. He was also referred to as Devil Anse Hatfield. A native of the Old South, he grew up deeply believing in the Southern causes, and when the American Civil War broke out, he enlisted in the Confederate army and was commissioned as a First Lieutenant. After the disbandment of his unit, he joined the newly formed 45th Battalion Virginia Infantry ... Hatfield garnered a reputation for being efficient and ruthless in the battlefield, and gradually rose through the ranks. Later, he co-founded the infamous Logan Wildcats [a homespun militia unit headquartered in Logan County, West Virginia] to wage guerrilla warfare against the Union sympathizers (that were raiding homes along the Tug River in the Mountain State). During this period, he was accused of murdering Asa Harmon McCoy (brother of feudist Ran’l McCoy). This set off the almost three-decade-long feud, where both families lost several of their members. Hatfield went on to survive the bloodshed, as did his main rival, the McCoy family patriarch Randolph “Ol’ Ran’l” McCoy, and died at the ripe old age of 81. Their story has since become an important part of American folklore and a metonym for any bitter rivalry.
— the editors at FamousBio
IN 1939, PRESIDENT FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT tried to spark the economy by moving Thanksgiving one week earlier, to create a longer Christmas shopping season. Critics mocked the policy as “Franksgiving,” and it failed. Roosevelt announced in 1941 that he was abandoning the experiment for the next year.
Roosevelt ultimately settled on the fourth Thursday of the month — a middle ground that made sure the holiday would not occur later than Nov. 28 and that Christmas shopping could always begin in November.
— David Leonhardt, NYT
by Loubna El Amine
My toddler asked my father about the moon. It was night in Beirut, and the generators were off. My father’s face was lit only by the phone screen. The electricity provider ostensibly follows a schedule but, as he’s a one-man operation, that schedule follows his own: he turns the generator on when he gets up, and off when he goes to bed. The electricity provided by the state is down to a couple of unpredictable hours a day: you have to be home at just the right time to do a load of laundry; private generators don’t give enough power to run a washing machine.
The streets are pitch black at night, dirty during the day. The internet is unreliable. Medicines are scarce – water, too, as autumn fires rage. Prices are extraordinarily high. In September, Hizbullah organised fuel deliveries from Iran, via Syria, in defiance of US sanctions, and without bothering to ask permission from the government – a government formed only a week earlier, thirteen months after the resignation of the previous one.
The first judge appointed to lead the investigation into the explosion at the port of Beirut in August 2020 was removed on the grounds that he couldn’t be impartial because his house had been damaged by the blast. The second judge’s investigation has been paralysed by lawsuits. A suspension order was filed against him by former ministers, only for the judge who issued it to be himself suspended by a fourth judge. Part of what’s at issue is precisely the question of who has the jurisdiction to look into the case, as well as who has oversight over them.
The debate over the law and the constitution proceeds in parallel to the country’s socioeconomic collapse. The Lebanese government does not provide electricity, fuel, education, security, healthcare or traffic lights, but makes a great show of its commitment to the judicial process and the finer points of the law. The discussion among legal experts, political analysts and the media follows the government’s lead, endeavouring to explain long unused parts of the legal code, as well as to interpret that still mysterious text, the constitution. What crimes are covered by parliamentary immunity? Is it lifted when parliament is in recess? If so, is it restored by an executive decision to recall parliament?
In October, there was fighting between supporters of Hizbullah, demonstrating against the investigations, and supporters of a Christian party, the Lebanese Forces. A probe into those clashes is now underway, replete with lawsuits and countersuits. Those who reject the investigation into the port blast, including Hizbullah, criticise the process for being ‘politicised’, since the members of only some political groups are being called to appear in court. It is not the idea of an investigation, or the authority of the state or the judiciary, that they formally question, but the particular ways in which this particular investigation by this particular judge is undertaken. And all the while they refuse to attend cabinet meetings – putting the new government at risk – until the investigations are ended by fiat.
While everyone on the inside knows that the divisions over the investigation reflect existing political divisions, the question remains whether, as it follows its course, the formal process will manage to become substantive – the concern with form somehow pushing into matters of content – and thereby rise above the divisions, breaking through the corruption and stalemate. In the meantime, it is as a hollowed-out state with a constitutional shell that Lebanon today celebrates 78 years as a sovereign, independent country, its citizens unsure whether to hold out hope, or to call out the farce.
So the problem isn't that liberal news is better, worse, or different than conservative news. It's that nearly all news (as almost everything else) has been commoditized, and siloed, and packaged, like any other commodity, for consumption by targeted consumer classes, without the slightest thought of the importance that "Actual Freaking News and Critical Facts" plays in the thinking and behavior and function of the civilians of any given Society.
So by ramrodding conservative news into conservative heads, to better target them to sell them bluegrass singing bass for Christmas, and equally targeting liberal news to fluff out liberal heads with politically correct, morally outraged, bohica, to better target market them savory tofu bites, and hemp breakfast cereals, we end up with grotesquely disparate Social Cliques, utterly unable to communicate, let alone find even the vaguest sense of common cause or hope of consensus... Dedicated to the operational or ACTUAL extermination of one another.
We are literally Social Engineering ourselves into extinction. Worse, the only motive for this suicidal attack on social cohesion and moral common ground, is personal profit, by the way of acquiring dollar bills for TV Marketing.
Again. I say we need to stop addressing the symptoms of social disintegration, and deal with the underlying cause of the disease, before it becomes universally fatal to our culture and our posterity.
We are not the enemy... this is an illusion... you've all been sold a bill of goods, and been sorely cheated. Men of less than no character, and fathomless hunger for wealth and power, have set us against one another, and it is up to us to refuse to play this game. There is nothing wrong with seeing the world differently. There is everything wrong with me shoving my worldview down your throat. The fallacy that "I'm right and you're wrong" bellies the simple facts of human error and superstition (as we have all seen too often splashed across our big screen TVs in Technicolor, these last several years), and lives in a kind of unexamined cultural hubris that is at best ill informed. We are all human. We all make mistakes. We all get misinformed. Especially when dark souls profit from our fears and misapprehensions. Rather than defensively argue our two square feet of earth's surface to the death, against all who question us, might we not all have the conviction of our beliefs and faith in truth, to publicly examine our ideas in civil discourse, discover what we might not know, what we may have gotten wrong, and further discover, what the unadulterated truth looks like... together. And when we all arrive at that glorious place, justified or mistaken, we can all join hands and take concerted actions in a direction that serves the greater good, and the despots be damned (as they must certainly already be.)
I know this sounds like Pollyannaish whimsy to all too many of you... but I say this from a commitment to respecting the dignity of being human, and working to bring people back together, work together, and rediscover our citizenship as being more important than our points of view. We have a profound responsibility to generations unborn, and my friends, we are failing desperately. We have come to the dark day that the price of preening our egos, is the future of unborn generations, and with all the compassion and love I can muster, will y'all please please park those fuckers at the curb, step on up, wipe your shoes off, come in, get a nice hot cup of your favorite hot steaming beverage, and try, with all your might to relate with one another not as bitter enemies, but cohabitants of this glorious world in transit to eternity, but for this brief moment, with only this one chance to leave the world better than you found it. I promise you'll have all the time in the world to drop trou, later and relieve yourself, but please, not here, and not on one another.
CRAIG'S READY TO LEAVE
(Ed Note: Did you contact your cousin/niece/sister? Have you done your family duty?)
Happy Indigenous Peoples' Day
Warmest spiritual greetings, Just finished reading a superb translation of the Bhagavad Gita: "Godsong" by Amit Majmudar, at the brand new incarnation of the Garberville, CA Public Library. Please know that this morning I have given my Earth First! friend Andy Caffrey another $200 for computer updating, and thus I am finished with being supportive of the digitizing of the Earth First! video archive project; the historical documentation is now in the cloud for safekeeping. Eventually, much of this material will find its way on to You Tube, and there is more planned by Andy Caffrey, who may be reached at: 213-842-3082.
I am interested in leaving Garberville, as soon as possible, because I have no further reason to be here. What I came here to do has been accomplished. Simple as that.
Roughly $1700 is left in terms of money resources, the health is good due to a sincerely lived life these past 72 years, forever Self-realized and therefore not identified with the body nor the mind but with Brahman, Spirit-Soul, Immortal Self, Atman, God, or just the glow in the heart chakra...however you like to describe it is obviously alright with me.
That said, you are welcome to contact me. I've got two pieces of luggage, and am eager to go where I need to go and do what I need to do...sometimes referred to as "following spirit".
Nota bene: If there are still any complaints from society in general, take them up with the Goddess, who will kick your ass! I'm not taking any more of society's shit. I feel great!! That's where I am coming from.
Craig Louis Stehr