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Mendocino County Today: January 24, 2013

A FEDERAL appeals court ruled 2-1 Tuesday that marijuana should stay on the dangerous drug roster. A medical marijuana group, Americans for Safe Access, had sued to have weed removed from the danger list. Safe Access vowed to appeal the dangerous drug designation all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.


A FORT BRAGG MAN was rescued from a burning home shortly before midnight Tuesday, the Fort Bragg Police Department reported. According to the FBPD, the Fort Bragg Fire Department responded to a structure fire at 625 Laurel Street at 11:56pm, Jan. 22 and found a home “fully engulfed in flames.” A Cal Fire truck had also responded and was already on-scene. One of the owners of the home, James Johansen, was asleep in the home when the fire started and woke up during the incident. He escaped uninjured through a bedroom window with the help of neighbors and others in the area. After putting out the fire, the FBFD determined the fire was suspicious and FBPD officers responded and began an arson investigation with the assistance of a Cal Fire investigator. Several witnesses provided photographs and video of the fire taken before the fire department arrived, which the FBPD described as “essential in these types of investigations.” The fire is still under investigation and anyone with information is asked to contact the FBPD at 961-2800. Those wishing to remain anonymous can call the Crime Tip Hotline at 961-3049.


COMMENT OF THE DAY, by Mike Whitney: “This is the Fed’s plan: Bail out the banks, transfer the banks bad bets onto its own balance sheet, hammer the greenback, slash wages (via inflation), boost exports, and pump as much money as possible into the unproductive, overbuilt black hole we call the US housing market. Of course, President Obama could avoid all this nonsense and just launch a government-funded jobs program that would snap the economy out of its coma, increase demand, and turbo-charge GDP, but that would be way too easy. And probably bad for profits, too.”


THE SEXUAL ASSAULT allegations against 49ers star wide receiver Michael Crabtree are about to be proved false. Crabtree allegedly attacked an Oakland woman during a party in San Francisco's high end W Hotel (3rd Street) after the Niners defeated the Green Bay Packers in a playoff game January 12th. The victim waited four days to report the abuse, and when she did report it she went to the Oakland police who directed her to the SFPD. Two other women at the party say that Crabtree, 25, did not attack anyone. The SFPD is apparently poised to issue a full report on the results of their investigation.


NO PAROLE FOR CAMERON WHITLOCK. According to a press release from the DA's office, the Point Arena man will remain in prison for at least another five years for the 1990 murder of well-known Mendocino Coast contractor Wallace Herbert Kuntz. Cameron Whitlock lost his bid for parole following a hearing last week in front of the state Board of Prison Terms at Solano State Prison in Vacaville. Assistant District Attorney Paul Sequeira and chief DA Investigator Tim Kiely appeared at the hearing, and argued against Whitlock's release. Also appearing was Kuntz's widow and the contractor's two sons. Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster said Tuesday that he was pleased with the prison board's decision to wait for five years before allowing Whitlock to renew his bid for parole. Whitlock was convicted in May 1990 of second-degree murder, robbery and vehicle theft. Kuntz's killing was “tragic and senseless,” Eyster said. Kuntz was at a construction site 22 years ago on the Point Arena Indian Reservation when he was killed. Kiely and other investigators said Kuntz was sitting in his pickup truck getting ready to drive home when Whitlock walked up to the driver's side window and shot him in the head. Whitlock then climbed into the truck and shot Kuntz again, before driving the victim's truck about two miles with the body still inside. Investigators said Whitlock pulled over, dragged the contractor's body from the vehicle and covered it with brush. Whitlock then torched the brush, engulfing Kuntz' body in flames.


IT'S THE SMUGNESS that makes Mendolib so purely awful, the serene assumption that they're not only correct about everything, they're so smart, so knowledgeable, so cute, just so gosh darn beguiling that there's something wrong with the rest of us for not simply doing a deep swoon at their feet. There are enough of them, of course, in places like Willits, Ukiah and up and down the Mendocino Coast, to reinforce the delusion that they're all just the cat's pj's. A Mendolib can go for months, years even, without encountering a single person unlike himself let alone suffer an opinion straight outta NPR. Coupla things set me off on Mendolib although they're a daily provocation. This guy calls up to tell me how wonderful the Obama inaugural ceremonies were, how inspired he was by Obama's speech. I took the easy out. Yeah, yeah, YEAH! If I argued with everyone who called or emailed or wrote an opinion I didn't agree with I wouldn't have time for an afternoon nap. Myself, I thought the inaugural was thoroughly vulgar and consistently over-the-top grotesque, relieved only by the nut in the tree who kept screaming, “Democrats are baby killers!” The whole show was an insult to the memory of Martin Luther King who, of course, was constantly referenced but whose real life scared the white wine and cheese out of Obama-style liberals. Beyonce, a person I'd never heard of, apparently lip-synced the national anthem, providing us with the perfect state of the union statement possible at this sorry juncture of our heavily rewritten history. The nut in the tree was intriguing for lots of reasons: You mean a fanatic can get the drop on a presidential inauguration? Where was the vaunted Secret Service? I'm sure they had a dozen snipers on the guy to blow him out of the tree if he even looked like he might have a gun, but how did he get up in the tree that close in the first place? Back to Mendolib. The following letter appeared in Tuesday's Ukiah Daily Journal. It's an archetypal Mendolib document, right up there with the press release from the Willits City Council (appended) announcing the sack of their city manager, Paul Cayler:

“I would like to compliment Tommy Wayne Kramer for being the only regularly published contributor to your pages who, as far as I know, has never written it's when he means its, an error most recently observed on Jan. 13. I credit Mr. Kramer less for his practice of criticizing public figures for attitudes and motivations that they have not in fact demonstrated. It is easy for Mr. Kramer to find fault with others when he begins by exaggerating, distorting, and even fabricating the behaviors that he then deplores.” — Benj Thomas


THOMAS is a Ukiah city councilman. Apart from revealing himself as a pompous fool in his overly arch, Masterpiece Theater-inspired prose, he never does tell us what specifically his beef is with “Mr. Kramer.” If he did, we'd see that Thomas can't handle criticism and doesn't know opinion when he reads it. Of course “Mr. Kramer's” opinion is that Thomas and the people he represents are insufferable, an opinion “Mr. Kramer” expresses on a weekly basis, hence the popularity of his Sunday column, as he speaks for many of us.


Willits, CA – The Willits City Council announces the departure of Paul Cayler, city manager since 2008. Mr. Cayler joined the City of Willits at a challenging time in its history. The “Great Recession” was approaching its peak. City revenues and expenditures were out of balance. Additionally, the City was in the midst of a number of significant capital improvement projects that required renewed focus and leadership. Throughout this period, Mr. Cayler was able to handle a multitude of complex matters with competency and skill while demonstrating the highest ethical standards and honesty. The Willits City Council has chosen to pursue a different direction with regard to the City Manager position. Enacting the separation agreement outlined in the City Manager's contract, the Council will appoint an interim City Manager to facilitate the transition of leadership. Paul Cayler can be proud of his accomplishments at the City of Willits and the Council thanks him for his service to this community. For further information, contact Mayor Holly Madrigal at or (707) 459-0447


CORRECTION: DA spokesman Mike Geniella said Wednesday morning that the DA has not received any complaints from the Sheriff's investigators regarding neglected horses in either Redwood Valley or Laytonville. No complaint, no prosecution. Can't have the latter without the former.


COAL TRAINS Raising Ruckus Up & Down Coast

By Hank Sims (Courtesy,

Confused about the East-West railroad-building mania that has washed over large segments of the Humboldt County populace? You and the Lost Coast Outpost both. From the outside, you just have to read it as a well-intentioned but ’roided-out impulse to ¡DO SOMETHING ABOUT JOBS!, mostly among people for whom the term “job” necessarily implies the lifting of heavy objects. It’ll cost untold billions of dollars and we’re not sure who’s going to pay for it or what benefit it’ll actually bring, but we simply HAVE to pursue it. For the CHILDREN!

Well, you can read it as cargo cult, as the LoCO tends to do, or you can read it as conspiracy. Or maybe some combination of both — some people believe the road to salvation leads through Red Bluff, others simply see a chance to make a buttload of $$$.

If you’re looking to flush out the latter theory, you probably want to take a look at a report published by Mother Jones yesterday. Datelined from the Port of Morrow — yes, that oneMoJo Climate Desk Reporter Tim McDonnell takes a peek at the hellacious fights happening all over the Pacific Northwest over the subject of coal exports to the Far East. MoJo calls it “one of the biggest climate fights of 2013.”

It’s the next giant leap forward for the US coal industry, which has in recent years turned increasingly to the East as domestic demand dwindles and Obama-era clean air regulations make it next to impossible to build new coal-burning facilities at home. But Big Coal’s ability to sell its wares overseas is increasingly bottlenecked by maxed-out export facilities, most of which are on the Atlantic-facing East Coast, anyway, better situated for shipments to Hamburg than Hong Kong. So, says Brookings Institute energy analyst Charles Ebinger, building the new West Coast terminals could be a matter of life or death for US coal.


So, yeah — maybe you could read it that way: Eureka kazillionaire East-West backer Rob Arkley, perhaps in spiritual communion with various Vanderbilts and Goulds and Stanfords of yore, believes he can lay track fast enough to get in on this action.


A Letter I Wish Progressive Groups Would Send to Their Members. By Norman Solomon

Dear Progressives,

With President Obama’s second term underway and huge decisions looming on Capitol Hill, consider this statement from Howard Zinn: “When a social movement adopts the compromises of legislators, it has forgotten its role, which is to push and challenge the politicians, not to fall in meekly behind them.”

With so much at stake, we can’t afford to forget our role. For starters, it must include public clarity.

Let’s face it: despite often nice-sounding rhetoric from the president, this administration has continued with a wide range of policies antithetical to progressive values.

Corporate power, climate change and perpetual war are running amok while civil liberties and economic fairness take a beating. President Obama has even put Social Security and Medicare on the table for cuts.

Last fall, the vast majority of progressives voted for Obama to prevent the presidency from going to a Republican Party replete with racism, misogyny, anti-gay bigotry and xenophobia. Defeating the right wing was cause for celebration. And now is the time to fight for genuine progressive policies.

But let’s be real about our current situation. Obama has led the Democratic Party — including, at the end of the legislative day, almost every Democrat on Capitol Hill — deeper into an abyss of corporate-driven austerity, huge military outlays, normalization of civil-liberties abuses and absence of significant action on climate change. Leverage from the Oval Office is acting as a brake on many — in Congress and in progressive constituency groups — who would prefer to be moving legislation in a progressive direction.

Hopefully we’ve learned by now that progressive oratory is no substitute for progressive policies. The soaring rhetoric in Obama’s inaugural address this week offered inspiring words about a compassionate society where everyone is respected and we look out for each other. Unfortunately and routinely, the president’s lofty words have allowed him to slide by many progressives despite policies that often amount to a modern version of “social liberalism, fiscal conservatism.”

The New York Times headline over its front-page coverage, “Obama Offers a Liberal Vision in Inaugural Address,” served up the current presidential recipe: a spoonful of rhetorical sugar to help the worsening austerity go down. But no amount of verbal sweetness can make up for assorted policies aligned with Wall Street and the wealthy at the expense of the rest of us.

“At their inaugurals,” independent journalist I.F. Stone noted long ago, our presidents “make us the dupes of our hopes.”

Unlike four years ago, Obama has a presidential record — and its contrasts with Monday’s oratorical performance are stark. A president seeking minimally fair economic policies, for instance, would not compound the disaster of four years of Timothy Geithner as Secretary of the Treasury by replacing him with Jack Lew — arguably even more of a corporate flack.

On foreign policy, it was notably disingenuous for Obama to proclaim in his second inaugural speech that “enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war” — minutes after completing a first term when his administration launched more than 20,000 air strikes, sharply escalated the use of weaponized drones and did so much else to make war perpetual.

Meanwhile, the media hype on the inaugural speech’s passage about climate change has lacked any indication that the White House is ready to push for steps commensurate with the magnitude of the real climate crisis.

The founder of the Sustainable Energy and Economy Network, Daphne Wysham, points out that the inaugural words “will be meaningless unless a) the Obama administration rejects the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline; b) Obama selects a new EPA administrator who is willing to take action under the Clean Air Act to rein in CO2 emissions from all sources; c) he stops pushing for dangerous energy development deep offshore in the Gulf, in the Arctic and via continued fracking for oil and gas; d) he pursues a renewable energy standard for the entire country; and e) he directs our publicly financed development banks and export credit agencies to get out of fossil fuels entirely.”

The leadership we need is certainly not coming from the White House or Congress. “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus,” Martin Luther King Jr. observed. The leadership we need has to come, first and foremost, from us.

Some members of Congress — maybe dozens — have shown commitment to a progressive agenda, and a larger number claim a progressive mantle. In any event, their role is not our role. They adhere to dotted lines that we should cross. They engage in Hill-speak euphemisms that we should bypass. Routinely, they decline to directly confront wrong-headed Obama administration policies. And we must confront those policies.

If certain members of Congress resent being pushed by progressives to challenge the White House, they lack an appreciation for the crucial potential of grassroots social movements. On the other hand, those in Congress who “get” progressive social change will appreciate our efforts to push them and their colleagues to stand progressive ground.

When we’re mere supplicants to members of Congress, the doors that open on Capitol Hill won’t lead very much of anywhere. Superficial “access” has scant impact. The kind of empowered access we need will come from mobilizing grassroots power.

We need to show that we’ll back up members of Congress who are intrepid for our values — and we can defeat others, including self-described “progressives,” who aren’t. Building electoral muscle should be part of building a progressive movement.

We’re in this for the long haul, but we’re not willing to mimic the verbiage or echo the silences from members of Congress who fail to challenge egregious realities of this administration’s policies. As Howard Zinn said, our role is to challenge, not fall in line.

(Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. He co-chairs the Healthcare Not Warfare campaign organized by Progressive Democrats of America. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He writes the Political Culture 2013 column.)


Art In The Cellar

On February 8th, 9th, and 10th, Anderson Valley artists and craftspeople will display some of their work in a unique annual exhibit hosted by Handley Cellars in Philo. “Art In The Cellar” showcases local artists’ work against the backdrop of Handley’s wine cellar. During the three-day show, the exhibit will be open to the public from noon to 4 on Friday and Saturday, and from 11 to 4 on Sunday, February 10th, to coincide with Handley’s Alsace Varietal Festival Open House. Handley Cellars is currently conducting a raffle to benefit Anderson Valley Arts, a local non-profit supporting local art programs. Tickets will be on sale at the exhibit, with the drawing held the following week. In a gesture of encouragement to aspiring young artists, many participants in the show have donated pieces to be used as raffle prizes. Exhibiting artists include Pepperwood Pottery (Doug Johnson), The Pot Shop (Alexis Moyer), Antoinette von Grone, Wax and Bing Pottery (Jan Wax and Chris Bing), Evelyn Ashton, Valley Beads (Judy Nelson), Maire Palme, Stan Peskett, Marvin Schenck, Gary Church, Charlie Hochberg, Linda Baker, Steve Muchowski, Lucille Estes, Peggy Dart, Nancy MacLeod, Garden Spirits (Jim Ellison), Xenia King, and Colleen Bassett.

Handley Cellars is located at 3151 Highway 128, in Anderson Valley between the towns of Philo and Navarro. Information is available at 707-895-3876, or visit their website,

One Comment

  1. Joe SixPack July 14, 2013

    You and your “MendoLib”, makes you come across like Archie Bunker or Tony Soprano.

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