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Mendocino County Today: November 19, 2013

LONGTIME Mendocino County Deputy Public Defender Tom Croak was killed in a single-vehicle accident on Highway 20 Sunday afternoon. Croak, who wasn't wearing his seatbelt, apparently over-corrected on a turn near Chamberlain Creek, rolled his 1988 Jeep down an embankment and into a creek. The CHP said Croak's passenger, Brian D. Wagoner, 46, of Fort Bragg, suffered only minor scrapes and bruising. Croak, 57, had been westbound when the accident occurred about 4pm. He had served for years as public defender at Ten Mile Court, Fort Bragg.


DYNAMITE DAY AT THE HULBERT RANCH, As described by Pat Hulbert and told to Steve Sparks.

* * *

Vincent, my late sister Marietta's son, was getting ready for a dump run last week. He was cleaning out the garage where he found two boxes and was packing these onto his pickup when he read the printing on the box. It said “Dynamite.” He sat it down on his tailgate. He then came and told me.

I told him to leave it alone. He said, “It must not be my time or it would already gone off.” He then proceeded to get the second box out of the garage and carried them both out in the field, where the old orchard used to be.

Daddy used to use dynamite to take the old stumps out before planting a new apple tree so it had to have been there for many, many years. The one box was made by a company that stopped making it in 1946. Daddy was working on the orchard from 1946 to the 70s so it was probably put there around the late 40s. Who knows?

I called Donald Gowan, a friend and neighbor, who is also a member of the local firefighters. He came by and he called the Sheriff and firefighters. They in turn called the [Humboldt County] bomb squad. They made us all leave the property for the night, just in case it might explode. Everyone had to be at least 50 yards from it, so we all had to find some other place to sleep for the night. I stayed overnight with Shirley Tompkins.

I came back to the ranch the next day at 8:30am as I wanted to see how it was going. I parked where the helicopter lands at the end of our lane and Vincent and his family showed up about half an hour later. The barnyard and field were full of firetrucks, and our local Sheriff Deputy Walker and the bomb squad had also arrived. Tons of men in their yellow suits from our local volunteer firefighters were also there, led by the new chief, Andres Avila.

Everything went as planned. A backhoe dug a trench and a hole for the dynamite to be put into. Then they scraped away some grass around the hole and doused the dynamite with diesel. They then sprayed the whole area outside the hole with water. By 11:30 they were ready to burn the dynamite. It burned for nearly half an hour. If it had not worked the barn would be only kindling and my nearby house wouldn't have any windows left, so I am glad they knew what they were doing.

At 12:15 I was able to come back up the lane. Lucky was waiting on the porch for her breakfast, wondering what was happening, but guarding her house. What a good cat!

There will be no cost to us and they finished it in four hours. That is why they asked for the Humboldt Bomb Squad. If it had been the guys from SF it would have cost us. I am so glad they knew that.

God is Good. If Vincent finds any more dynamite he has promised he will not move it. It just might be his time, the next time!


JUST IN FROM UKIAH: “The lawyers were all chatting about the big blowout at Patrona on Thursday night, a retirement party for Dan Haehl, the long-time grumbler in the Office of the Public Defender. Haehl liked to say the AVA was “homophobic” because we were critical of his boss, not quite connecting the logical dots one would expect an attorney to be able to connect. Lawyers still have to know how to read, don't they? Not a totally bad guy, but there he goes, riding into the burger grease of State Street, hoping against hope the County doesn't go all the way broke before he cashes all the way in.”



by Jeff Costello

“The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who haven’t got it.” — G.B. Shaw

A lot of younger people seem to be under the impression that baby boomers are the selfish “me” generation, who became yuppies, stock brokers etc. I've read a number of angry articles by X and Y generation people asserting this. It may be true, but I don't know to what extent, because I don't know any such people. If I and most everyone I know born in the ten years or so after WWII are in a minority of this generally perceived notion of what/who baby boomers are, we are apparently living on a different planet.

The great disappointment for me about the 60s was that so many of “us” were merely pretending, affecting a look, the clothes, hair, etc. There for the party, the chicks, or maybe some were narks. Underneath it all they were squares, did not get the implication, the potential of what was going on. My distinct suspicion is that some of today's wealthy CEOs and banksters were among the phonies in the hippie scene.

I naively believed that pot and acid were going to cause an evolutionary human leap. Now of course, acid is gone and pot is legal in Washington and Colorado, and on the way to being legal in other states. And the drug didn't really change anything. In fact, the same guys who wanted to beat me up for having long hair then are now sporting ponytails, pot is just another drug to have with a beer, politicians smoke weed and still do the same old shit. The wars roll on.

(A word about hair: thanks to the Beatles’ initial American publicity campaign and appearances on the Ed Sullivan show, many of us had the simple revelation that you didn’t have to get a haircut. Short hair on boys and men was a requirement, the cultural norm in those days. The gym teacher at my high school declared unequivocally that if there was enough hair on a boy’s head to grab with your hand, he was a “queer” or “fairy.” This was the prevalent view of authority in the early 60s. And therefore at the time, something to defy.)

Marijuana has been taken over by the squares and much worse characters, and legality is going make a lot of money for them. I haven't smoked it since around 1981. And that’s only because I was growing some, but failed in the enterprise due to lack of work ethic. A drinking buddy of mine in Hawaii smoked weed all the time and still loved football, had anger issues and got into fights — in other words he was unchanged by it. A lot of the growers I knew had elephant-sized egos and guns to match. And most of them had long hair, since the first indication of a nark was his short haircut. For a while, anyway.

But now anything goes, as the song says. These people were not hip and groovy at all. It was all very enlightening for me and I grew to dislike the whole scene very much.

Thirty years ago a guy I knew from Sausalito moved up to Humboldt County to make a fortune growing. Stories went around about garbage cans full of hundred-dollar bills, buried in the hills. Way out on a ridge somewhere, I found him sitting on the floor of the cabin, leaning against a wall with ten or fifteen guns of various types next to him. He was drained of color, clearly highly stressed and paranoid. The man looked utterly miserable. This was no happy-hippie wonderland.

The end user, a mythical character who might be a stockbroker in New York or a congressional intern, can smoke and enjoy all the bud he wants, I don’t care. Just don’t ask me to endure a conversation with him. Or expect as I did in the 60s that the drug will somehow impart integrity to anyone.


HERE’S WHAT’S ACTUALLY GOING TO HAPPEN WITH SHALE OIL AND GAS. Best case scenario: shale oil production rises for three more years to about 2.3 million barrels a day and then crashes so quickly that in 10 years the shale oil industry ceases to exist. A less rosy forecast would admit that the exorbitant costs of drilling-and-fracking will not find the necessary capital to even take the industry that far. Rather, dwindling capital will see the shocking decline in rates of shale wells (commonly 50% the first year and double digits the following) and will run shrieking for other places to hide. (James Kunstler)




I guess I am just as doubtful of anything labeled “Smart” as I am of anything called “Cheap,” “Bargain” “Green,” etc. Lately I have been getting contacts from folks about their PG&E meters and higher bills plus some stray Wellington guy installing meters. They must be on consignment as this guy is somewhat grumpy as he tries to get folks to shiver at the $75 start up fee. They apparently have a meter for solar applications which you know will manage to charge you for higher use in the middle of the day when, ta da, your panels are cranking. So Wellington Man is on the prowl! The Overcharge Way is the Corporate Capital Way and good old “gee I like these corporate utilities” President Peavy of the California Public Utilities Commission AKA Utility Support Club who loves those Utility paid Junkets says more power to ’em!

If push comes to shove and you are challenged to have a meter, I would highly recommend paying the extortion because in the long run you will win double. They will be billing everyone on time of use, which means higher rates during the day. The lemmings bought into the Smeters. Without the meter you will not be billed for this which means savings. With all of the other details about PG&E’s not so smart meter, I think you will also win. $10 a month is money but not enough for the hassle you would get having one with regards to overcharges, health, potential problems with electronic devices and incompatibilities with home wiring. I am just hearing about a lot of folks having higher bills.

Wait until the Utilities have to upgrade the meters in the near future and we have to pay again for the not so well thought out, sort of stupid meters. They are cheap, poorly made and dangerous. They have a short life because of planned obsolescence, unlike the previous iron-made analogues that kept on ticking. The latter may have been a bit slow but the company could have monitored them with some device and determined a correction value. Done deal with no big roll out. But they really wanted a way to bilk more clients. Did you notice they were complaining about too many solar retrofits? Poor utilities. I shed a tear.

What you may not be thinking about is the extra wireless device in the new SMART (that hurts) appliances which supposedly can not be removed without damaging the appliance. Why should we have to buy this sort of oppressive crap?! Appliances do what we want them to, not what some idiot snoopy company wants. And for you silly environmentalists who think smart meters are important because they allow the companies to insure no brown outs and that they’re great for battery cars— you guys are clueless. Brownouts and blackouts will come especially when the hackers figure out how to hack into the not so smart grid which is less defended than Apple’s first computers. The power for battery cars is just as polluting as the gasoline cars they replace, you are just putting the pollution somewhere else including the added toxicity of the battery loaded cars with their rare earth components. I think the AVA Editor called that place “out-of-here,” unfortunately usually poorer people live there. Jumping out of the frying pan here. It is a better deal environmentally to take a bus or train. Watch out!

Greg Krouse in Philo


THAT NIGHT neither mother nor son could sleep, and both thought about death. Sofia tried to think in an undertone, that is, without sobbing or sighing (the door to her son's room was ajar). She recalled, again, punctiliously and in detail, everything that had led up to her separation from [her husband]. Going over every instant, she saw clearly that in this circumstance and in that she could not have acted otherwise. But still a mistake lurked hidden somewhere; still, if they had not parted, he would not have died like that, alone in an empty room, suffocating, helpless, perhaps recalling their last year of happiness (and very comparative happiness at that), and their last trip abroad, to Biarritz, the excursion to Croix-de-Mouguère, and the little galleries of Bayonne. She firmly believed in a certain power that bore the same resemblance to God as the house of a man one has never seen, his belongings, his greenhouse and beehives, his distant voice heard by chance in an open field, bear to their owner. It would have embarrassed her to call that power “God,” just as there are Peters and Ivans who cannot pronounce “Pete” or “Vanya” without a sensation of falsity, while there are others who, in reporting a long conversation to you, will pronounce their own names or, still worse, nicknames, with gusto twenty times or so. This power had no connection with the Church, and neither absolved nor chastised any sins. It was just that she sometimes felt ashamed in the presence of a tree, of a cloud, of a dog, or of the air itself that bore an ill word just as religiously as a kind one. And now Sofia, as she thought about her unpleasant, unloved husband and about his death, even though she repeated the words of prayers natural to her ever since childhood, actually strained her whole being so that —fortified by two or three happy memories, through the mist, through great extensions of space, through all which would always remain incomprehensible— she might give her husband a kiss on the forehead. — Vladimir Nabokov, 1932; from “Glory"



by Norman Solomon

Four years ago, countless Democratic leaders and allies pushed for passage of Barack Obama’s complex healthcare act while arguing that his entire presidency was at stake. The party hierarchy whipped the Congressional Progressive Caucus into line, while MoveOn and other loyal groups stayed in step along with many liberal pundits.

Lauding the president’s healthcare plan for its structure of “regulation, mandates, subsidies and competition,” New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote in July 2009 that the administration’s fate hung in the balance: “Knock away any of the four main pillars of reform, and the whole thing will collapse — and probably take the Obama presidency down with it.” Such warnings were habitual until Obamacare became law eight months later.

Meanwhile, some progressives were pointing out that — contrary to the right-wing fantasy of a “government takeover of healthcare” — Obama’s Affordable Care Act actually further enthroned for-profit insurance firms atop the system. As I wrote at the time, “The continued dominance of the insurance industry is the key subtext of the healthcare battle that has been raging in Washington. But that dominance is routinely left out of the news media's laser-beam concentration on whether a monumental healthcare law will emerge to save Obama's presidency.”

Today, in terms of healthcare policy, the merits and downsides of Obamacare deserve progressive debate. But at this point there’s no doubt it’s a disaster in political terms — igniting the Mad Hatter Tea Party’s phony populism, heightening prospects for major right-wing electoral gains next year and propagating the rancid notion that the government should stay out of healthcare.

That ominous takeaway notion was flagged days ago on the PBS NewsHour by commentator Mark Shields, who worried aloud that “this is beyond the Obama administration. If this goes down, if … the Affordable Care Act is deemed a failure, this is the end — I really mean it — of liberal government, in the sense of any sense that government as an instrument of social justice, an engine of economic progress… Time and again, social programs have made the difference in this country. The public confidence in that will be so depleted, so diminished, that I really think the change — the equation of American politics changes.”

At this pivotal, historic, teachable moment, progressives should not leave the messaging battle about the ACA to right wingers and Obama loyalists. While critiquing the law for its entanglement with the profit-voracious insurance industry, we should fight for quality healthcare for everyone — definitely including the people who live in states where right-wing officials are blocking expansion of Medicaid coverage. (In a recent Nation article, historian Rick Perlstein cited a grim example of a chronic mentality: “the policy wizards in the Obama White House build a Rube Goldberg healthcare law that relies on states to expand Medicaid and create healthcare exchanges, and then are utterly blindsided when red-state legislatures and governors decline.”) We should challenge all efforts to deny the human right of healthcare.

What we should not be doing is what is now doing — proclaiming that the Obamacare law is just fine. In a November 14 email blast, subject-lined “Obamacare in serious trouble,” MoveOn acknowledged that the rollout “has been badly botched” but flatly declared: “Obviously, the law itself is still really good.”


The problems with Obamacare involve far more than simply bad website coding. They’re bound up in the enormous complexity of the law’s design, wrapped around a huge corporate steeplechase for maximizing profits. As a Maine physician, Philip Caper, wrote this fall, the ACA “is far too complicated and therefore too expensive to manage, full of holes, will be applied unevenly and unfairly, be full of unintended consequences, and be easily exploited by those looking to make a quick buck.” The ACA is so complicated because it has been so relentlessly written for the benefit of — and largely written by — insurance companies.

Along the way, the “individual mandate” cornerstone of the ACA — required by government yet actually enriching the private insurance industry — is a tremendous political boost to demagogic GOP leaders. I’m not engaging in hindsight here. Like many others, I saw this coming before the ACA became law, writing in March 2010: “On a political level, the mandate provision is a massive gift to the Republican Party, all set to keep on giving to the right wing for many years. With a highly intrusive requirement that personal funds and government subsidies be paid to private corporations, the law would further empower right-wing populists who want to pose as foes of government ‘elites’ bent on enriching Wall Street.”

Obamacare is a mess largely because it builds a revamped healthcare system around the retrenched and extended power of insurance companies — setting back prospects for real healthcare reform for a decade or more. Egged on by corporate media and corporate politicians, much of the public will blame higher premiums on government intervention and not on the greedy insurance companies which, along with Big Pharma, helped write the law in the Obama White House and on Capitol Hill.

It should now be painfully obvious that Obamacare’s little helpers, dutifully reciting White House talking points in 2009 and early 2010, were helping right-wing bogus populism to gather steam. Claiming that the Obama presidency would sink without signing into law its “landmark” healthcare bill, many a progressive worked to throw the president a rope; while ostensibly attached to a political life preserver, the rope was actually fastened to a huge deadweight anvil.

In the process, the political choreography included a chorus of statements by Congressional Progressive Caucus members before ultimate passage of the Affordable Care Act. Having previously removed the words “single payer” and “Medicare for all” from their oratorical vocabulary while retaining the laudatory language — and after later excising the words “public option” in a similar way — those legislators still pretended that passage of the ACA would be an unalloyed positive triumph. Like the president, they resolutely oversold Obamacare and made believe it would bring about an excellent healthcare system.

With such disingenuous sales pitches four years ago, President Obama and his Democratic acolytes did a lot to create the current political mess engulfing Obamacare — exaggerating its virtues while pulling out the stops to normalize denial about its real drawbacks. That was a bad approach in 2009. It remains a bad approach today.

(Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” Information about the

documentary based on the book is at


SEASONAL FLU WALK-IN CLINIC at Fort Bragg Senior Center

Influenza Season is here. The Mendocino County Health & Human Services Agency (HHSA), Public Health will hold a Seasonal Flu Vaccination walk-in Clinic for adults 19 years and older on Tuesday, November 26, 2013, 10am-noon at Redwood Coast Seniors in Fort Bragg. There is a suggested donation of $10 per shot. We have a limited supply of adult Flu and preservative free Flu vaccine for pregnant women, so hurry in. No appointment is necessary for the walk-in clinic that will be held at: Redwood Coast Seniors 490 N. Harold St Fort Bragg 10am-noon.

Although we will not be vaccinating children at the walk-in clinic, the recommendation of the Immunization Branch of the California Department of Public Health is that children and adolescents 6 months through 18 years also get the seasonal flu vaccine. Please contact your Pediatrician, primary care provider or Public Health at (707) 472-2681 or 472-2717 for an appointment to get children’s flu vaccinations.

The number one way to increase your chances of staying healthy is to wash your hands. We hope to see you soon and please stay healthy.



The Mendocino Ballet is busy rehearsing one of the holiday season’s favorite family traditions, “The Nutcracker”. A joyous Christmas celebration at the home of the Staulbaum family where beautiful life-size dolls come to life to entertain the guests, an action packed battle scene takes place between mice, bats and toy soldiers, and a Nutcracker Doll is turned into a handsome prince, are but a few of the surprises in the first act of this fanciful ballet. The Nutcracker Prince then leads young Clara into the magical land of Snow and on to the Kingdom of Sweets where exotic performers from far away lands dance in the court of the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier.

The Nutcracker comes to life under the direction of Mendocino Ballet’s Artistic Director, Trudy McCreanor, with beautiful sets, colorful costumes and entertaining choreography. This is a truly delightful holiday treat, certain to enchant audiences of all ages!

Performances are Saturday, December 7 at 7 pm and Sunday, December at 2 pm in Fort Bragg at the Cotton Auditorium. In Ukiah, performances will be held on Friday, December 20 at 7 pm, Saturday, December 21 at 2 pm and 7 pm, and Sunday, December 22 at 2 pm at the Mendocino College Center Theatre. Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors 65 & up, and $10 for children/students under 18. Tickets are available at the Mendocino Book Company and Mendocino Ballet in Ukiah, Harvest Market and Tangents in Fort Bragg, Out of this World in Mendocino, Watershed Books in Lakeport and at the Goods' Stamp Shoppe in Willits.

Tickets are also available online at There is a $1 surcharge for online sales.

Hannah Woolfenden
Hannah Woolfenden

The role of Clara will be danced by Anderson Valley’s Hannah Woolfenden with Nathan Stanford as the Nutcracker/Prince. Dr. Robin Scott Peters will perform as the mysterious Drosselmeyer, Clara’s eccentric Godfather. Jamie Speka of Ukiah will dance as Fritz, the mischievous brother of Clara, with Amelia Taylor of Redwood Valley and Daniel Spence of Ukiah as their parents, Frau and Dr. Staulbaum.

Amelia Taylor will also dance the magical role of the Sugar Plum Fairy who presides over the Land of the Sweets. Other major roles are danced by Morgan Cummings as Snow Queen, Alyiah Malicay, a Sophomore at Ukiah High, as Rose Queen in the “Waltz of the Flowers” and Daniel Spence, a Senior at Ukiah High, as the Cavalier. Mendocino Ballet Company dancers Majken Rasmussen, Rose Raiser Jeavons, Annika Gordon, Natalie Moss, Clara Richmond, and Jenna McEwen are joined by 50 other local children and adult dancers and actors from Ukiah, Fort Bragg, Mendocino and surrounding communities to form a cast of talented and entertaining performers.

For further information about performances or classes, please call the Mendocino Ballet at 463-2290 or visit us online at

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