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Mendocino County Today: July 29, 2013

ACCORDING to an AP report that claims AP has “exclusive survey data,” (data they paid for) four out of five American adults “struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives,” a fact of American life obvious to anybody outside bubble neighborhoods — Westside Ukiah, much of San Francisco, the Oakland-Berkeley hills, the hill muffin areas of Anderson Valley, the ridges and ocean view lots from Gualala to Mendocino, most of Lake County, and almost everywhere in the country east of I-5.

ECONOMIC INSECURITY among whites has grown to include more than 76% of white adults by the time they turn 60, according to a new economic gauge being published next year by the Oxford University Press. “The gauge defines economic insecurity as experiencing unemployment at some point in their working lives, or a year or more of reliance on government aid such as food stamps or income below 150% of the poverty line. Measured across all races, the risk of economic insecurity rises to 79%.

MARRIAGE RATES are in decline among all races, and the number of white mother-headed households living in poverty has risen to the level of black ones.

46.2 MILLION, or 15% of the population, are poor by any measurement. More than 19 million whites fall below the poverty line of $23,021 for a family of four, accounting for more than 41% of the nation's destitute, nearly double the number of poor blacks.


THAT HEAVY SMOKE up and down the Mendocino Coast on Sunday is, according to the National Weather Service, drifting south from Southern Oregon. The Douglas Complex Fires as in Douglas County, Oregon, is the source of most of the smoke in Mendocino County. There were no fires reported in Mendocino County on Sunday. The Mendocino Air Quality Control Board issues air quality alerts but the office seems to be on auto-pilot on weekends. According to their website the air is as clear as the morning God first breathed it.


LINDA WILLIAMS of the Willits News writes:

“Bruce, I take a small exception to your characterization that The Willits News photojournalist was ‘lingering’ which is why he was arrested on Tuesday. The video shows him approaching and shaking the hand of one CHP officer. They appear to be having a professional conversation and Mango was so unconcerned with it he was panning his camera to video stationary equipment. The entire time from the handshake to people shouting he was being arrested was 39 seconds. We did not post the full 36 minutes of tape shot by Mango because we did not have his permission to do so, but the officer took longer than 39 seconds to warn the original protesters carrying the banner earlier that morning. The protesters moved slowly when exiting, stopping from time to time, then moving on as they were told they would be arrested if they didn't keep moving. This looked a lot closer to lingering to me. Contrast that with the quick arrest of our journalist. On the whole 36 minute long video you can see Eberhard arrived a minimum of half an hour after the banner-carrying protest group was told to leave. I'm not sure the actual time between the protesters leaving the site as Mango kept saying his batteries were getting low. The actual time may have been longer as it looks like the video was shutdown and started up a few times when nothing was happening with the chainees before Eberhard arrived. The two chainees were cited and released, and yes, technically, this is an arrest. But they, unlike my photojournalist, were not handcuffed, placed in a squad car, taken to Ukiah, then transferred to a Mendocino County Jail holding cell before being booked, then released. If you really think the two are the same, please post the booking photos of the two protesters as you have the one of Steve Eberhard, because you can't. I don't know about you but I would much prefer being cited and released."

I TAKE YOUR point, Ms. Williams. Why the CHP arrested Eberhard remains a mystery. It was silly.

BUT THE WILLITS NEWS's “stop the hate” editorial, you could say, is an exercise in false equivalence because the protesters have not hurled “vile rhetoric” indiscriminately at their fellow citizens. A few nutballs peppered the CHP with “vile rhetoric” during the early April extraction of that character who threw a bucket of his waste on the cops. After that, though, the Bypass protesters seemed to grasp that acting like a bunch of backward acid casualties was losing them support, which was thin to begin with.

YOUR EDITORIAL says that anti-Bypass people have been so rude to pro-Bypass people that the pro-Bypass people have “boycotted” the community meetings for fear of being yelled at. Doubt it. Both “community meetings” were put on by the anti-Bypass organized by Save Our Little Lake Valley. As a lure to get people who, ah, are unaffiliated with, ah, er, I dunno, drum circles, to show up, the one-way discussions were moderated by Sheriff Allman. (Did the Sheriff use his gun as the gavel?)

BUT THE PANELISTS were all anti-Bypass. You would probably agree that pro-Bypass people had zero incentive to show up simply to listen to a lot of lock-step opinion. A real discussion, not to say a much more interesting one, would involve pro and anti. As someone said on-line, “Why should we go to a forum about wick drains when there's nobody with any expertise on wick drains on the panel; just some anti-Bypassers who did some research on the Internet?”

SOME PRO-BYPASS people have been told — online — that they're “ignorant” or “rednecks” and generally insulted as uninformed about how crazy, not to mention costly, this project is. The Pros are about to be hugely disillusioned by their beloved CalTrans; the Bypass will not, as the pro-Bypass brigades claim, make Willits as serene and pedestrian-groovy as the Cloverdale bypass made Cloverdale because, as we argued yesterday, the Willits Bypass will divert very little traffic from Willits.

AS PER ANCIENT Mendo practice, local controversies inevitably divide along Hippie-Redneck lines, especially among hippies and 'necks, although there are few hippies around anymore and Bill Clinton exported what was left of the redneck job base.

PRO-BYPASSERS drive by the demo site all the time yelling retro stuff like, “Kill the treesitters” and “Fucking dirty pot-growing hippies don't even have a job; get the fuck out of our town.” And versions thereof.

IF THERE were any way of tabulating the insult count, the pro-Bypass people are ahead of the dirty fucking hippies.

I ALWAYS laugh whenever I read or hear the fanciful phrase, as you repeated it in your editorial: “tearing apart our community.” What community? Where? America hasn't enjoyed anything resembling community for 60 years, at least. Willits, like every other village and town in this country is simply a wildly disparate collection of isolates mostly, some of whom occasionally gather in groups of the likeminded. The internet has facilitated the fragmentation.

I AGREE with you, though — jailing the messenger is never a good idea, but The Willits News signed off on the escort arrangement with the cops and Caltrans. Why? Reporters and news photographers should be allowed to work. If reporters and photographers had to wait for officially sanctioned escorts, this country's media would be even more pathetic than they are.



Poor Government Policy Could Doom Record Runs

by Dan Bacher

Recent reports of a pending salmon die-off on the Klamath River don’t address the full measure of this rapidly evolving and potentially catastrophic story.

“A record run of salmon are at risk on the Klamath unless anticipated flows from Trinity Reservoir are provided to cool the Lower Klamath River,” said Tom Stokely, an analyst for the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN), a statewide water advocacy group. “But we have another disaster unfolding on the Sacramento River. We had a dry winter, the reservoirs are low, and federal and state officials are draining them rapidly to pump water to the corporate farms of the western San Joaquin Valley. If the current releases continue, we’re not going to have enough cold water in the Sacramento system to keep fall-run Chinook salmon eggs alive in the gravel this fall.”

Like the Klamath, the Sacramento River system is expected to post a very good year for Chinook salmon, with several hundred thousand fish returning to the river and its tributaries.

“And these are big magnificent fish, some of the fattest I’ve ever seen,” said Dan Bacher, editor of the Fish Sniffer Magazine. “But I was just out on the river, and it was running extremely high – and that’s heartbreaking. High water now means the cold water pools in Shasta, Folsom and Oroville reservoirs could be exhausted by the time the returning fish spawn. The mature fish, their eggs and any fry that manage to emerge could cook in the low, warm flows we’ll probably see in the American, Feather and Sacramento rivers by late summer and fall.”

The Sacramento River is the workhorse of the salmon-bearing streams south of the Columbia River. In good years, almost a million fish used to return to the Sacramento system. The river is unique in that it supports four distinct runs of Chinook salmon. The winter-run and spring-run are both listed under the US Endangered Species Act, while the fall-run and late fall-run are sufficiently numerous in most years to accommodate the commercial and sport fisheries.

All four runs are now in dire jeopardy. The spring-run Chinook is facing an especially tough summer, particularly in Butte Creek, its primary stronghold. There was a major die-off of Butte Creek salmon in 2003 due to low flows.

“We desperately hope that there isn’t a repeat of the 2003 spring-run salmon deaths on Butte Creek,” said Jim Brobeck, a water policy analyst at AquAlliance, an organization dedicated to protecting the waters and fisheries of northern California. “At this time, the fish agencies are managing to keep thousands of spring-run alive with flows from PG&E’s reservoir, although another concentrated heat wave could radically change conditions for this iconic salmon run.”

Brobeck noted Butte Creek’s spring-run is a genetic rarity, and the source for re-stocking efforts on the San Joaquin River. It is thus essential, he said, to preserve the unique strains of salmon native to the Sacramento watershed.

“The potential fish deaths due to lack of water and warm temperatures on Butte Creek combined with the demand for Klamath, Trinity, Feather and Sacramento River irrigation deliveries threatens the existence of what remains of native fish runs in the Central Valley,” Brobeck says. “State and Federal agencies must redefine the ‘”surplus water”’ that is being pumped to industrial agriculture south of the Delta.”

Low flows could also prove the death-knell for the winter-run Chinook, said Bill Jennings, executive director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance.

“We’re only in a second dry year, not even a declared drought, and the system is fundamentally broken,” said Jennings. “The State Water Board has assured the Department of Water Resources and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation that it won’t enforce Delta water quality and flow standards. The temperature compliance point on the Sacramento has been moved upstream, eliminating crucial spawning habitat for endangered Winter-run Chinook salmon.”

But the Sacramento’s “bread-and-butter” runs – the fall-run and late fall-run – are also at risk. Their status is so imperiled by anticipated low summer flows that future salmon seasons could be curtailed, said Stokely. Like Jennings, Stokely says agency mismanagement of water resources is the major reason for the crisis.

“What’s particularly disturbing is the determination of state and federal agencies to violate their own mandates and regulations so they can maintain deliveries of subsidized water to a handful of huge corporate farms in the western San Joaquin Valley,” said Stokely.

Stokely notes various laws and regulations require sufficient cold water flows down the Sacramento system to maintain fisheries in good health.

“But in May, the US Bureau of Reclamation and the state Department of Water Resources asked the Water Board to allow lower Delta outflows so more water could be sent south of the Delta,” said Stokely. “The Water Board agreed without due process, in violation of its own rules water right decisions – and with full knowledge of the impacts to the fish. “

Jennings observes the crisis could have been avoided if the cold water behind California’s reservoirs had been properly conserved.

“Water is only legally available for south-of-Delta export after Delta flow and water quality standards are met,” Jennings said. “But the state and federal projects are still exporting more than 8,500 cfs from the South Delta”

Stokely concluded that the situations on the Klamath and the Sacramento are culminating in a potential apocalypse for California salmon.

“We had a huge salmon kill on the Klamath in 2002 due to low flows, but that could be minor compared to what we’re facing today,” he said. “It is a terrible irony. We’re seeing some of the biggest runs on record, and we could lose them all -- and lose future runs -- because of compromised government policy. If we’re going to avoid a repeat of 2002, we need to start conserving cold water now for release later in the summer and fall.”


• Tom Stokely, California Water Impact Network 530-926-9727 cell 524-0315

• Bill Jennings, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance 209-464-5067 cell 938-9053

• Jim Brobeck, AquAlliance 530-521-4880

• Dan Bacher, Fish Sniffer Magazine 916-725-0728

One Comment

  1. chewsome July 28, 2013

    While there may not have been any reported fires in Mendocino County on Sunday, it is possible that a report on Sunday’s Potter Valley fire will be made available on Monday. Smoke from the fire drifted and dispersed primarily towards the north east. Some where around 15 acres flat grasslands and wooded riparian habitat were involved. CalFire air support was provided from 10:30 to noon, consisting of helicopter with bucket, air tanker, and incident commander spotter plane. Potter Valley Fire District staffed mop up operations until late afternoon. No structure were believed involved, other than some wooden fence posts partially burnt at the base.

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