TODAY'S TOUR BRINGS US TO SAN JOSE:
Between the splendor of Santana Row and the wretchedness of these tent cities, there is the ordinary San Jose of tacky strip malls and mostly pleasant looking houses, and in these, life is still going on as usual, no? Look again. Take Jay, who lives in this $400K house with his wife, Tracy. Born in 1970 in New Hampshire, Jay earned an engineering degree from Carnegie Mellon, then served nine years in the Navy, where he rose to become a commander of a nuclear submarine, based in Philadelphia. Discharged, Jay moved to San Jose in 2002, where he worked for Digital Equipment Corporation, Compaq, Hewlett-Packard and, finally, AQT, from 2007 until now. (For reasons that will be obvious, I’ve disguised Jay’s current employer.) Though a small company, AQT was raking in the bucks, and up until four years ago, had 25 well-paid employees. Jay was making $120,000 a year. With revenues down, the firing started, however, and now AQT is reduced to five workers, with their salaries slashed. Jay is only making $60,000 a year, not much in expensive San Jose, with its $4 gas and sky-high real estate, yet his boss, whom Jay sneeringly calls Ho Chi Kevin, sees this as a huge favor, for Jay’s being paid for doing next to nothing. (Neither man is Vietnamese, by the way, but balding white guys, just in case you’re wondering about the Ho reference.) To keep Jay occupied, Ho Chi Kevin often sends him out on stupid errands, “The other day, he had me buy some apples for him, but when I brought them back, he said they weren’t the right kind of apples!” Looking at me bug-eyed, Jay shook his head several times, “So I said, ‘Well, what kind of fuckin’ apples do you want?!’ Actually, I didn’t say fuckin’, I just said, ‘Well, what kind of apples do you want then?!” And guess what, he couldn’t even tell me! He just sent me out to get different kinds of apples, and I had to try several times before I got it right. Did I get an engineering degree for this? I used to run a nuclear submarine! Do you need an engineering degree to buy freakin’ apples?!”
To be misused or unused has become our common lot. In nearly every field, corporate, military, civic, media, entertainment and academia, talent and integrity are wasted, if not punished, as ruthless crooks, groveling connivers and grinning morons rise to the top. Jay and I were sitting at an outdoors table outside AQT. It was working hours, but Jay was clearly not missed, for there was next to nothing for him to do inside. Hey, for $60 grand a year, most people wouldn’t mind running back and forth to the supermarket for Fuji, Cortland, Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Blue Crappy, Pacific Rose, Gala, Ginger Rose, Monsanto Mutant or 666 Snake-Endorsed Special — whatever, boss, I’ll get it for you! The ax can slam on Jay’s neck at any moment, however, so he doesn’t know if today will be his last at AQT. For four years now, Jay’s been frantically trying to find another job, entry level, whatever, but nothing has come through. “So what’s plan B?” I asked.
“I don’t have a plan B, but plan C is to move to Taiwan to teach English.” Jay’s wife was born in Taipei. “I really don’t want to do that. I am an American. I want to live in my own country.”
Ho Chi Kevin is hanging onto his skeletal crew because he believes a recovery is just around the corner. He, too, is waiting for a recovery, as are his tenants in their empty stores. In downtown San Jose’s Cesar Chavez Plaza, the homeless also wait, but for what, they’re not quite sure. Even as job applications are sent into the void, mortgage payments ignored, bankruptcies filed and tents spread in shadow or sun, San Jose still gleams from afar, or as you speed by in your car.
— Linh Dinh, Postcards From America
THE NORTHERN CALIFORNIA US ATTORNEY’S OFFICE, headed by Melissa Haag, as always in pursuit of devil weed in lieu of taking on real crooks, has notified Ed Busch, 86, of Ukiah, that they’ll take his property away from him if he continues to rent it to the Compassionate Heart medical marijuana dispensary. Busch got a certified letter Monday telling him to send the feds a copy of his eviction notice or else. The letter also informed Busch that the pot store was within a thousand yards of a school, in this case an Indian daycare center not visible from the pot store. (Like the toddlers are going to pop in for a toke?) It’s all part of the ongoing contradiction between state and federal law. The states say you can do this, that or the other pot thing, the feds, remain zero tolerance. By the way, when’s the last time you’ve heard of the San Francisco office of the US Attorney arresting someone, or a syndicate of someones doing real harm? Busch has notified Compassionate Heart they’re outta there. The old guy had no choice. He’s probably afraid Haag would send up the FBI to take his dentures, too.
THE MEETING to discuss Mendo street people seems to have embarrassed the Mendocino Village people who called it.
DAVID GURNEY WRITES:
“On Monday, April 29, Albert Morales wrote on the MCN Announcement list: ‘This Wednesday, 11:30 am, coming up, The Kelly House will be hosting a discussion on the issues concerning the street people of Mendocino. Dan Hamburg will be attending. Many merchants feel that this street people situation is not being addressed. Attend this meeting if you feel the need to improve our relations with the street people and our tourists.’
“I went to cover this meeting as an observer, and was told that the press and public were not invited, and would not be allowed entry into the room. I was told the meeting was for invited business owners of Mendocino only, and no others would be allowed in, even as observers. I was also told by two very defensive staff members of Kelly House, Nancy Freeze and Carolyn Zeitler, that word of this meeting was not supposed to get out, and it was a mistake for the public to be invited by the below announcement. Approximately 15 people were in attendance, including Supervisor Dan Hamburg. I'll leave it up to him, to report to the public what went on in this private/secret meeting.”
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“I just phoned Albert Morales, who posted the original public invitation, and asked what went on at the meeting. Mr. Morales was evasive, claiming that it was ‘really nothing, just a matter of getting together, type of thing,’ and he wasn't aware people had been turned away. He passed off my requests for information back to the Kelly House, who have not returned calls. When I asked Morales if the Sheriff's Dept. was represented at the meeting he said, ‘No.’ State Parks? ‘No.’ (Carolyn Zeitler, wife of the Mendocino State Parks District Superintendent, was at the meeting) How about the County of Mendocino? ‘Not that I'm aware of.’ I asked him, ‘You weren't aware that Dan Hamburg, our County Supervisor, was at the meeting?’ ‘Uh, he was.’ ‘Well, wouldn't that be the County?’ Mr. Morales replied, ‘I guess so…’ He then ended the conversation without divulging anything further. Nor did he apologize for inconveniencing others with the false invitation. I have no clue as to the reasons for Mendocino's merchants’ secrecy in the handling of their ‘street people’ problem.”
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SUPERVISOR DAN HAMBURG chimed in: “One interesting thing about the meeting at Kelley House today was that it began at 11:30 and ended at 12:30. I'm talking sharp. There would be no way to accomplish that in an ‘open’ meeting. Whether it's appropriate (lawful?) to hold a non-open meeting at Kelley House is something I can't answer. But I do think there's good that can come out of the town's merchants getting together as a distinct [sic] on a regular basis to talk about common problems and try to think up solutions. For example, discussed today were: 1. The program to urge people to make charitable contributions (either of money or food) to institutions (e.g., Hospitality House, the Presbyterian Church) rather than to individuals. This is being pursued mostly through flyers and informational brochures as far as I can tell 2. Support for state parks in their efforts to clear excessive brush on the headlands 3. Efforts to discourage (tobacco) smoking in commercial areas. Fort Bragg prohibits smoking within 20 feet of store openings. 4. Ways to reach out to people in a cooperative and supportive way (this may seem ironic in a “closed” meeting, but this group does anticipate larger meetings, like the one a few months back at the Presbyterian Church which would be public); for example, there are successful programs in which people who are homeless make a contribution to community well-being in exchange for services. 5. Neighborhood Watch programs through the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office. This would consist of local volunteers who would try to discourage intimidating behavior (hard to define but you know it when it happens to you). Hopefully, we're talking peace-keepers not vigilantes. These meetings are scheduled to occur every other week and as I mentioned, are held strictly to an hour (presumably because these are people who are actively running businesses). I have asked Supervisor Gjerde to sit in for me on May 15 since I'll be at a mental health board meeting in Covelo on that day.”
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DAVID GURNEY RESPONDED: “One interesting thing about the meeting at Kelley House today was that it began at 11:30 and ended at 12:30. I'm talking sharp. There would be no way to accomplish that in an “open” meeting. Whether it's appropriate (lawful?) to hold a non-open meeting at Kelley House is something I can't answer. But I do think there's good that can come out of the town's merchants getting together as a distinct on a regular basis to talk about common problems and try to think up solutions.”
Gurney added: “Thanks for the report Dan. Though business owners have a big stake, they don't own the town of Mendocino, nor the parks around it. And so decisions made around this issue affect us all. Here's my two-bits: 1. The ‘Handouts Aren't Helping’ campaign is great unless you're the one asking for a dime, and really need to eat. So now they're sent to Fort Bragg, to hang out waiting in line for various agency handouts. Most of the time, as we all know, the 'intimidating' panhandlers are intimidating because they're drunk, and want more booze. I do recall many a town that would pack ‘bums’ off to jail for vagrancy if you hung out asking people for money. 2. Homeless aren't the only ones hiding in the bushes. So do the birds, who make their nests there, small animals and until recently, deer. So clearing the ‘excessive brush’ on the headlands affects wildlife, and is a State Parks issue that should not be decided on by private business owners, especially with the wife of the area's recently retired Park Superintendent at the meeting. Presumedly, executive decisions are being made on wildlife & parks issues without the input of the public. Totally improper, in my opinion. 3. I support this 100%. 4. Since the State Parks rangers, who are locally known as the most abusive law enforcement officers on the Coast, do not maintain the trails, perhaps denizens of street could be hired at a decent wage to do so. 5. It is indeed very hard to define intimidating behavior, since to some, being broke, long haired and improperly dressed is ‘intimidating.’ You say — ‘hopefully, we're talking peace-keepers not vigilantes.’ This is why the public needs to be informed of what is going on in the town, so that vigilante type behavior does not get out of control. And a correction: Carolyn Zeitler is the wife of former California State Parks Superintendent (Mendocino District) — Morgan Zeitler. He retired as Sup. two years ago.”
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MIKE JAMIESON OF UKIAH offered his solution: “The Completely Obvious Way To Solve Homelessness: Cities and the county own property and therefore have the means to negotiate safe ground camping areas. The safe grounds will not be used by the true loner type but will enable people to sleep safely at night and, at the same time, lessen unease to our normally sheltered (literal and abstract meanings) population worried about homeless people scattered about in hidden places in their neighborhood. These safe grounds could be a homeless/public operation. Basically self governed with public oversight. It should be spacious with elbow room and could have both tents and yurts. The 101 Nomads or other traveling through folks could pay $1 a night for a yurt while long term residents would have their regular work/chore assignments. Public entities would hire a security guard for each shift. Their duties would actually consist of zero intervention and only “observe and report.” Shelters are not really anything but an emergency, short term option. They have time limits for most (in some cases even for seniors!). Also, shelters do not provide the setting for the maintenance of community among the homeless. In Ukiah, for that right now, we have the northeastern quadrant of the Safeway parking lot, spots just north and south of E. Gobbi on the tracks, the northeast quadrant of Walmart, and the library.”
THE HAMBURG-GURNEY discussion could be the start of something big. What better place than lightly populated Mendocino County to at least try to devise an effective, humane strategy for housing the unhoused, especially the derelict part of that population? Let’s start from the premise that persons unable or unwilling to care for themselves be compelled to shelter, and Mendocino County provides that shelter where the temporarily unmoored, miscellaneous incompetents, alcoholics, drug dependent persons, and plain old fashioned bums are required to abide while they reside in Mendocino County. I’ve often suggested a revival of the old County Farm concept, which was a working farm and not simply a time-out spa, where all the above, especially the habituals among them, were confined for however long it took them to pull themselves together. It they immediately reverted upon release, they were immediately re-sequestered. The Supervisors should take the lead in the discussion, and that discussion should involve the judges and, of course, the police. How to pay for it, how to confine people who don’t want to be confined, is a matter for local government to figure out. It’s not like it hasn’t been done. In Eugene, Oregon, a lib bastion, nobody is allowed to live on the streets; the option there is a church-run shelter or jail for the obstreperous. Nobody is allowed to camp out in front of stores panhandling or otherwise menacing passersby. Simply hauling the habituals to the County Jail and running them through the hi-ho here you go justice system is expensive and futile. The abandoned but nicely maintained Point Arena Air Force Base would make an ideal County Farm. Inland, there’s plenty of room adjacent to the County Jail for one. Simply hassling street people away from Mendocino Village, downtown Ukiah, Willits, and Fort Bragg is also futile and inhumane. If there were real alternatives in Mendocino County along the lines of the above, the kind of bums everyone complains about, the aggressive, criminally-oriented ones, would move one to more indulgent jurisdictions; rural mopes would re-settle in Garberville, urban mopes to San Francisco. Both those places are like Mendocino County — they think people have the right to commit public suicide.
ON APRIL 18, 2013 at about 7:30pm deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office were summoned to a residence in the Covelo area regarding an assault on a juvenile. Upon arrival, Deputies spoke with a 13-year-old male juvenile who stated he had been physically assaulted by Eddy Diaz, 44, of Covelo, while completing yard work at Diaz’s home. Deputies learned the juvenile had refused to complete a certain yard work task, which resulted in Diaz throwing the juvenile to the ground. The juvenile stated he had landed on a rock which had made his hip hurt. The juvenile had no visible injuries other than the complaints of pain. Deputies canvassed the area and were able to locate Diaz lying in the bed of a pickup truck in the area of the crime. Deputies questioned Diaz and were able to corroborate the juvenile's statements to Deputies. Diaz was arrested and booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in lieu of $30,000.00 bail. — Sheriff’s Department Press Release
FROM SHERIFF ALLMAN’S FACEBOOK PAGE on Thursday: “To my Friends: I do not support or believe any of these ‘Free’ items offered on Facebook. I delete them as soon as I get them, so please do not think that I am endorsing them. Bill Gates is not going to give anyone a million dollars for ‘liking’ him; nobody will give you a free iPad for clicking on their link; and the tooth fairy isn't going to give you $ if you lose a tooth.”
JENNIFER POOLE WRITES: “After a looooong day of work — Willits Weekly's co-founders Jennifer Poole and Maureen Moore are excited to announce that the first edition of Willits' new newspaper is on the presses as we speak! Beautiful 12-page editions will be available Thursday, May 2 at local businesses in Ukiah and Willits. Thank you SO MUCH to everyone for all their help and support! Please check out a copy and spread the word!”
ANOTHER GREAT WILDFLOWER SHOW
The Anderson Valley Unity Club’s Garden Section would like to thank everyone who made the 2013, Wildflower Show another success. This year’s show was dedicated to three of our past members: Bobby Peterson, Bobby Hiat and Cleo Hixon, beloved members whose love of gardening and devotion to many wild flower shows for many many years held them in highest esteem. We had very good weather and an increase in attendance over last year. Eugenia Herr’s botanical prints made by her grandfather, were an especially nice compliment to the show. Thank you to Anderson Valley High School’s art instructor, Nadia Berrigan, and her students who produced beautiful acrylic and oil paintings of our valley. In addition Nat Corey-Moran’s photography class provided beautiful close up photos of flowers. Evelyn Ashton’s herbarium and water- colors of plants and Dot Hulbert’s scanned wildflowers made wonderful displays.
The invasive plant table had specimens, pictures and information regarding the damage these plants cause to native species. An extensive Lyme Disease exhibit presented by Sue Davies provided needed information regarding preventive measures and the dangers associated with Lyme.
We wish to thank the following for raffle donations: Celeri and Son of Fort Bragg, Ludwig’s Tin Man Nursery, Oak Valley Nursery, Whispering Winds Nursery, Fiddler’s Green Nursery, Digging Dog Nursery, Dirt Cheap of Fort Bragg, , Mendocino Botanical Gardens, Praetzel and Herr, Sun & Cricket, All That Good Stuff, Laughing Dog Books, Farmhouse Mercantile, Village Books of Ukiah, The Pot Shop, Philo School of Herbal Energetics, The Puzzle People, Fred Martin, Linda Wylie, Eileen Pronsolino, Robin Lindsey, Barbara Scott, Beverly and Marvin Dutra, Christine Clark, Sue Davies, Robyn Harper, Diane Herron, Lois Howard, Grace Espinoza, and Sarah McCarter.
Thank you to Shirley Hulbert, Gloria and Sharon Abbot for the delicious food served in the tea room.
We wish to also thank the following people who helped our club members with collections, identification, the raffle, plant donations, set- up or cleanup: Linda MacElwee, Erica Kesenheimer, Jade Paget-Seekins, Sheryl Green, Bob Sowers, Lynn Halpern, Ken Montgomery, Wally Hopkins, Sarah McCarter, Keith Gamble, Hans Hickenlooper, Bill Harper and Eugenia Herr.
Thank you to the Fairgrounds staff for all their help. Also thanks to Robert Rosen and the Anderson Valley Brewery for allowing us to place our banners, advertising our event, on their fences.
Anderson Valley Unity Club Garden Section, Robyn Harper
55 STUDENTS TO BE HONORED at College of the Redwoods Mendocino Coast commencement Sunday, May 12 at Fort Bragg's Cotton Auditorium. 55 students at College of the Redwoods Mendocino Coast Education Center will be honored on Sunday, May 12, during commencement exercises at Cotton Auditorium in Fort Bragg. The auditorium is located at the corner of Fir and Harold Street in Fort Bragg. The event will begin at 2 p.m. The Mendocino Coast community is cordially invited to attend the commencement celebration. The commencement speakers will be CR Mendocino Coast student Marla Greenway and Fine Woodworking student Marija Hoegen. Marla is receiving her Associate Degree in Humanities and Communications, and Marija is receiving his Certificate of Achievement in Fine Woodworking. The outstanding scholar is Anya Jindrich, who will be receiving her Associate of Arts degree in Behavioral and Social Science. Anya is graduating with highest honors. Students receiving Associate of Arts degrees include: Juan Antonio Arguelles, Veronica C. Bazor, Andrew Le Bradshaw, Kathryn Helen Carine, Allison Ann Coverston, Tammy S. Davis, Julie Frisbie, Marla K. Greenway, Chelsea Hotchkiss, Anya Jindrich, John Mikael Larson, Vanessa G. Mendoza, Samantha Alexis Miles, Skye T. Nickell, Katherine Anne O'Bryan, Jane Hopkins Oglesby, Kayla R. Ornelas, Naili Alejandra Rhoades, Juliana Sanchez, Emily Elizabeth Scott, Evan Tornell and Corbin Joshua Vaden. Students receiving Associate of Science degrees include: Sierra Doane, Richard Brian Millis II, Catherine J. Murty, Ronnie Richter and Jennifer Allen Valadao. The following have earned a Certificate of Achievement in Fine Woodworking I: Michael Joseph Bryant, Benjamin C. Cooper, Frank Fdawg Green, Ian Griffith, Jacob Hockel, Anne-Marijn Gabriel Silvester Hoegen, Linda Kim, Harry E. Koenig, Tobyn Clark McCormick, Millie McCormick, Yury Nakagawa, Jeffrey T. Noblet, Sr., Mauricio Ernesto Salmeron, Bradford Russell Schabel, Joshua Ryan Smith, Dean Paul Soteropulos, Matthew D. J. Stoltz, Patrick Stone Wallace and Daniel Earl Zenefski. Certificates of Achievement in Fine Woodworking II will be awarded to Greg Laird, Sarah Elizabeth Marriage, Darrick Rasmussen and Adam Vorrath. “As you know, commencement simply means the end of one journey and the beginning of another,” Dr. Geisce Ly, Dean CR Mendocino Coast Education Center, said. “Because of your fortitude and relentless commitment, I have every confidence that you will continue to accomplish what you set out to do in the years ahead. I wish you much success in the future.”
AT THE APRIL 23 BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETING, the always earnest Supervisor Dan Gjerde gave this statement as his Supervisor’s Report: “I was contacted by Don Armstrong, superintendent of Fort Bragg schools and Pilar Gray, the nutrition director in Fort Bragg. The funding for the gardens at the Fort Bragg schools as apparently perhaps all the schools in the county has been funded out of a state grant that was given to the school districts over the last 12 years. That funding is changing. Now instead of a handful of school districts throughout California receiving these funds, the state is going to allocate the funds on a formula based statewide. That means that instead of Mendocino County schools receiving $850,000 which they were receiving, the county Public Health Department will receive a total of about $100,000. That's a pretty substantial drop. It sounds like most of the supervisors if not everybody is already heard this. But for the benefit of our audience— It was also brought to my attention was that Humboldt County schools have submitted a proposal to the county government in Humboldt County that they would partner with the county to help sign up family members and parents with the CalFresh program. Although it's not exactly the same thing that the schools were doing with the garden program, it is related because they are both related to nutrition and the schools in Humboldt point out that they are already interviewing parents and asking parents if their children are eligible for free or reduced lunch. It sounds plausible to me that schools in asking that question would only need to ask a few additional questions to also sign up those parents for the CalFresh program. The schools also point out that they are doing nutrition education with the kids and with the families so that the families, rather than just receiving a CalFresh card, they would also get the benefit of understanding that, you know, you can buy these healthy items and actually improve your health. So it seems like a win-win. Finally, in the material they gave me, the schools included a report of a statewide organization which showed that in Mendocino County, although the allocation of funds to Mendocino County has grown each year, the amount of money that was expended through people signing up has actually gone down in the last three years. So there is a widening gap between the amount of money available to Mendocino County families and the amount of that money going to Mendocino County families. This all leads me to think, hey — this Humboldt County proposal, if modified for Mendocino County schools could be beneficial. Schools are in a good position to sign up parents and this could help them partially fill that funding gap that they will experience this year. Every school in Mendocino County as I understand it has a community garden, they have nutrition programs, and I think they are very well-positioned to deal with this. So I forwarded the information over to Doug Gerkin at Social Services and I hope that he can get back to us in evaluating the Humboldt County proposal. I understand it's working its way through Humboldt. If they go ahead with it, it seems like it would be possible that we could go ahead with something like that too. It seems like this has been a very successful program in Mendocino for the kids. And it looks like an opportunity for the county to help keep this program going at no cost to the county.”
Supervisor John Pinches: “I can't believe, you said at one time that this state was giving out money to put gardens in this county at around $850,000 and now it's down to 100,000?”
Brown: “It's just partial funding. It's the funding that comes to the county and partially gardens were supported by staff as well.”
Pinches: “My point is, I have put in quite a few vegetable gardens in my life and it only takes a few bucks to put in a big garden. I don't get this. You have a labor force, you have the kids in schools. I don't see where it takes that much. All of a sudden it takes state money to a school to have a garden plot? I don't get it.”
Supervisor Carre Brown: “It funds the garden coordinators and their helpers and the curriculum and so forth.”
Pinches: “That's what I'm saying! A garden coordinator? I think they should be funding a schoolteacher! And the garden should be put in as an effort between the schoolkids and maybe a couple parents or somebody who knows a little something about plantin’ corn. I don't get this where all of a sudden we are stymied about putting gardens in our schools because there's not hundreds of thousands of dollars coming in. I can't believe we've come to that as a society.”
Supervisor Dan Hamburg: “Well maybe we should have the Gardens project come before the board.”
Brown: “That would be great!”
Hamburg: “We could hear from Miles and whatever else.”
Pinches: “There's a lot of good gardens out there.”
Brown: “There's Ukiah Unified.”
Pinches: “This is really a school district issue. But it just appalls me.”
Hamburg: “Before we get appalled, maybe we should learn more about it.”
Brown: “And the grant funding.”
Hamburg: “I've been pretty impressed with what they've done. I mean, they’re not like, you know…They’re very expensive.”
Pinches: “For $850,000?”
Hamburg: “I don't know. I don't know about the cost. But…”
Pinches (sarcastically): “Yeah.”
Hamburg: “We could have them come to the board.”
Supervisor John McCowen: “It is a lot more than just putting in a garden. There is a nutritional education component that does go to it. I think it may be very appropriate to have an agenda item to go into the issues that Supervisor Gjerde has raised.”
Brown: “I would like to work with Supervisor Gjerde to bring that forward.”
Pinches: “My point is, We always talk about how there's not enough money to fund our schools and everything and yet we are spending, like, the state is spending $850,000 in Mendocino County for a few garden projects?”
Hamburg: “The supervisors just said they want an agenda item on it, so you can ask all your questions of the people who actually have the information.”