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Mendocino County Today: August 27, 2013

A RECENT SF CHRON story co-featured a 32-year-old Democrat named Eric Swalwell, an East Bay congressman simply because Swalwell regularly appears at town hall forums at a time few congressman are visible in their districts except to small groups of insiders assembled at small parties for those same insiders.

OUR CONGRESSMAN, Spike Huffman for instance. Spike was in Philo this past Sunday at a wine soiree where he was surrounded by wealthy Mendo Democrats of the conservative liberal insider type. Like most career officeholders, Spike doesn't appear in any context where the great unwashed are welcome to show up and ask him any old thing from chemtrails to the utter fraud of ObamaCare,

NORTHCOAST POLITICS is run by a tiny cabal of career officeholders, senior public bureaucrats including judges, non-profit poobahs, wealthy wine people, the more successful drug dealers who've recycled their money into legitimate businesses. Republicans have given up supporting candidates on the Northcoast, the more sensible among them realizing that a conservative Democrat like Huffman or Chesbro or Mike Thompson can be depended on to keep things running steadily to disaster as they are with no threat to current economic arrangements. Spike, Chesbro, Thompson, Dan Hamburg, et al are enthusiastically funded by local liberal money.

THE NORTHCOAST LEFT, meaning left of the above named individuals, represents less than 15 percent of the vote, as we learned the hard way in the last election when Norm Solomon, an FDR-like reform Democrat, couldn't quite get into a runoff against Spike, the corporate Obama-Clinton Democrat. Solomon got 14.9% percent of the vote from exactly 25,462 of us. How he might have done one-on-one against Huffman can't be known, but he would have pulled votes from lots of people who either voted for the other Democrats in the race or voted for one of the stoner candidates. It's safe to say that the Northcoast left, the Solomon left, thinks Obama, and soon, Hillary, are mere expediters of the rolling catastrophe America has become. The left, then, is a dependable 15% of the Northcoast vote, mainstream conservative Democrats 40 to 65%, frothing rightwingers and single-issue candidates, the rest.

BACK TO TOWN HALLS. Years ago then-congressman Bosco held a town hall meeting in Santa Rosa, the one and only town hall a Northcoast congressman has held since. A long line of Bosco's critics cued up at the speaker's podium to tee off on the congressman for his many sins, all of them identical these many years later to Spike Huffman's, and all of them stemming from the basic fact that all of these characters are funded by, and beholden to, the forces preventing even the hope of a decent, fair society for this country.

THAT TOWN HALL was Bosco's finest hour. After the third or fourth critic had finished lambasting him, Bosco began to fight back, and fight back with real flush-faced anger, making his transparently bogus cases the best he could in the face of contradicting reality and as the audience hooted at him. It was funny as hell and illuminating, in that it was clear that Bosco was unprepared, didn't even seem to realize he and his votes for nerve gas militarism and corporate giveaways had so many critics. He seemed to think everyone in his district were versions of the Press Democrat's craven editorial board. No one that day praised him for anything, and in living fact he deserved what he got. But I remember giving him silent attaboys for at least showing up to take it.

A TOUGHER, more confident person, a person like this Swalwell kid apparently, would relish regular fights with whomever at genuinely public forums. But I think there's an obvious reason why we never see Huffman, Chesbro, Thompson and their interchangeable counterparts in open forums, and the reason is that these characters are artificial creations, hollow men (and women) who have no politics, no principles, nothing that they can vigorously defend. Their “beliefs” derive from the flabby cliches published by the Democratic Party National, and begin and end with these people in office forever, with a limo ride here and there, and endless wine parties where they're surrounded by smiley faces. They're duly elected and dependably supported by comfortable people insulated from the everyday effects of life in a neo-oligarchy.

A FULLY INSURED, fully amortized wine person looks out at the world and wonders how anyone could possibly be unhappy with the Obama government, could not wholeheartedly look forward to Hillary.

“SWALWELL is the exception in the all-Democratic Bay Area delegation in holding multiple and regular town halls,” declared the Chron. And he's got to be a better rep for it, too. Regular face-to-facers with the grassroots, with struggling people, i.e., a majority of Americans, would naturally move a real person away from imperialism, away from oligarchy, away from wine sips, away from the corporate stranglehold.


THE WILLITS Environmental Center and Willits-based Keep the Code have challenged the permit issued by Mendocino County authorizing Mendocino Forest Products LLC to remove more than 880,000 cubic yards from its property. The plaintiffs charge in an action filed Friday that the authorization violates the California Environmental Quality Act and the Surface Mining and Reclamation Act.

THE COUNTY, allege the petitioners, “abused its discretion and failed to act in the manner required by law in approving the project without CEQA review and in violation of SMARA, the (1975) Surface Mining and Reclamation Act.”

MENDOCINO FOREST PRODUCTS property is the area on which rests the Harris Quarry Expansion Project on the Willits Grade. The earth moving project was to “bring the flat working areas down to the same grade as the central portion of the site for more efficient uses in the future.”

THE EARTH REMOVAL should not be permitted because, the enviros say, an “appropriate environmental and surface mining act review” must be done.


COUNTY AMBULANCE CONSOLIDATION? Doubt it. According to the County CEO's recent report called “Feasibility Study for Ambulance Service Exclusive Operating Area,” the County will workshop the notion to extinction. The consultant’s report on the feasibility of an EOA is available at: “Based on direction from the Board, a workshop is tentatively planned to be held on September 24th to review the report’s findings and recommendations with the understanding that there will be no action regarding formation of an Exclusive Operating Agreement at that time. It is anticipated that the Board will accept the report and provide further direction to staff.” Blah-blah and etc.


TOM STIENSTRA, the San Francisco Chronicle‘s outdoors writer, comments on the Rim Fire: “It is heartbreaking to see the old, giant pines get incinerated by the Rim Fire in the Tuolumne canyons and on their ridges. You wonder if this can be prevented elsewhere.

The forests around beautiful Cherry Lake and Eleanor Lake in Yosemite are in flames. The beloved Camp Mather and San Francisco’s power and water utilities are under siege. Miles of blackened tree skeletons will be left behind for 20 years and longer. Ash and topsoil will wash into the Tuolumne.

I have explored this region in my truck, on foot, in a raft and the trail-less canyons from the air. Everybody in the area knew it was a time bomb.

When a fire starts in such an explosive landscape, it must be put out right away or it can blow up from a spot fire to an inferno. The DC-10s were late arriving, and in three days the fire grew from 5,000 to 50,000 to more than 100,000 acres.

Environmentalists and fire scientists agree on how to avoid these high-heat infernos that turn into forest massacres, while keeping the forest landscape and habitat fresh and healthy at the same time.

A key is addressing “ground fuels” and “ladder fuels.” The Tuolumne canyons, for instance, are filled with ground-level manzanita, chemise and layers of dry pine needles. When they ignite, they burn fast and hot, and can catch low-lying limbs of pine trees.

If you burn out the ground fuel in low-heat prescribed fires, you remove much of the tinder for big fires and keep the soil fresh and charged with nitrogen.

You also trim the lower limbs of pine trees, up to eight feet above the ground, and thin out tightly-packed groves of smaller trees. That way a ground fire won’t spread “up the ladder” and get into the tree canopies – and in a worst-case scenario, start “crowning,” jumping from treetop to treetop.

What we’re seeing now is a worst-case scenario. An area many love for recreation, wildlife and the source of drinking water and electricity is a war zone. We are losing the war.”


AUDITIONS! For William Shakespeare's All's Well

That Ends Well — The Mendocino Theatre Company will be holding auditions for its 2nd stage production of Shakespeare’s, All’s Well That Ends Well. The production will be directed by well-respected theatre coach and actor Dan Kozloff. Second stage productions are a perfect opportunity for those who may be new to acting, or who are looking for a project with a shorter time commitment. Auditions will be held on September 3rd and 4th at 6:30pm at The Mendocino Theatre Company, 45200 Little Lake Street, Mendocino. When an orphaned doctor's daughter cures the King of France of a fatal disease, he rewards her by allowing her to marry any husband of her choosing. Her choice? The brash, unwilling ward of the King. With great effort, ingenuity and the help of other resourceful women, Shakespeare’s Helena is often named as one of the strongest and most complex female characters in the entire canon. This Shakespearean comedy is characterized by intensely suspenseful scenes that strike a delicate balance between drama and humor, ultimately culminating in one of Shakespeare’s most thought provoking and memorable endings. Casting is open for all 12 roles!

Helena, Female, 16-21

Diana, Helena's rival and ally, Female,16-21

Bertram, a young Count, Male, 16-25

The Dumaine Brothers, Bertram's two close associates, Male, 16-25

Two Lords/Soldiers, Male, 16-25

Parolles, a cowardly braggart, Male, Somewhat Older

The King, Male, Middle-Aged

The Widow, Diana's mother, Female, Middle-Aged

Lord Lafew, Male, Older

The Countess, Female, Older

(Some genders may be swapped. The director recommends that any interested actors audition regardless of character descriptions.) All’s Well That Ends Well runs December 5th-15th Thursdays-Sundays, for a total of 8 performances over two weeks. Sunday performances are 2 p.m. matinees. Perusal scripts are available at the MTC box office at 45200 Little Lake Street in Mendocino. If you wish to check out a script, please contact the MTC box office at 707-937-4477. If you are unable to make an audition time or would like more information, please contact Director Dan Kozloff at 707-964-7316.



By Dan Bacher

RevolvingDoorThe revolving door between corporate interests and California government continues with the announcement of the appointment of a former Westlands Water District staffer to the California Water Commission.

Governor Jerry Brown appointed David Orth, 55, of Clovis, to the Commission on August 21. Orth has been general manager of the Kings River Conservation District since 2002.

He was vice president of resource management at California Valley Land Company Inc. from 2000 to 2002 and held multiple positions at Westlands Water District from 1986 to 2000, including general manager and director of finance.

Orth was deputy treasurer and principal accountant at the Fresno County Auditor-Controller and Treasurer’s Office from 1982 to 1986. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem. Orth is a Republican.

Orth's former employer, the Westlands Water District, is known as the “Darth Vader” of California water politics. Westlands recently sued the federal government to block increased releases of water on the Trinity River to stop a fish kill on the lower Klamath River. Fortunately, a federal judge Thursday lifted a temporary restraining order blocking the releases, allowing the Bureau of Reclamation to increase the flows. ( )

The appointment of Orth continues a long tradition of the domination of California politics by corporate and “Big Money” interests. These include Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's appointment of Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, as chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create alleged “marine protected areas” in Southern California.

The Governor also appointed Adan Ortega, 50, of Fullerton, a former Metropolitan Water District employee, to the California Water Commission.

Ortega has been the sole proprietor of Adan Ortega Associated since 2009. He was deputy managing partner at Rose and Kindel from 2005 to 2008 and vice president of external affairs at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California from 1999 to 2005.

Ortega was chief deputy secretary of state at the Office of the California Secretary of State from 1997 to 1999 and assistant general manager at the West and Central Basin Municipal Water Districts from 1994 to 1997. He was vice president at the Dolphin Group from 1985 to 1993. Ortega is chair of Mujeres de La Tierra and an advisory council member at Southern California Sustainable Conservation. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem. Ortega is registered decline-to-state.

The California Water Commission consists of nine members appointed by the Governor and subject to Senate confirmation. Its historical role includes “advising the Director of the Department of Water Resources on matters within the Department's jurisdiction, approving rules and regulations, and monitoring and reporting on the construction of the State Water Project.”

The appointments to the Water Commission were made as Governor Brown is fast-tracking the construction of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels to deliver massive quantities of northern California water to corporate agribusiness interests on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and to oil companies seeking to expand the environmentally destructive practice of fracking in Kern County and coastal areas.

The construction of the twin tunnels will not only hasten the extinction of Central Valley Chinook salmon and steelhead, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species, but threatens the salmon and steelhead runs of the Klamath and Trinity rivers.

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