DEBBIE CLARK, long-time publisher of the Willits News, has announced she is retiring, one more sign that the chain-owned Mendo papers, all of them overseen out of Chico, will soon be down to even more skeletal crews headed to cadaver status. The Ukiah Daily Journal, the Mendocino Beacon/Advocate, and Ms. Clark's The Willits News, like most print newspapers, struggling to stay solvent as more and more people move to the internet for their daily misinformation. All these papers are owned by the Denver-based MediaNews Group.
HMMMM. Thursday's SF Chronicle front pagers include a piece called “California GOP's hope — evolution of a new brand.” The new brand is represented by a guy calling himself a “conservatarian,” and magnanimously let's us know, “It's your body. I'm not here to tell you what to do with it.” Bold stand there, bub, but what's new here?
THIS GUY is one of a minority of Republicans who've apparently figured out that to a majority of Californians Republicans seem crazy while, of course, the ominous drift of things is sponsored, nay encouraged, by both parties.
MOST STORIES in the mainstream media are pegged to the assumption that Democrats are “the left,” Republicans “the right.” Liberal Democrats are “the party's extreme left” the rightwing of the Republicans is gently dubbed “ultra-conservative.” And all of us identify somewhere on this spectrum, although less than half of eligible voters don't bother to vote, rightly assuming that both parties truly represent the wealthy.
PEOPLE ASK ME what I am, and I say, “That's between me and my physician.” Seriously though, I gave up explaining myself years ago, mostly out of boredom, because it's tiresome to haughtily reply, “Why of course I'm a libertarian socialist.” Or Green socialist. Or non-Stalinist socialist. I answer to them all. But Americans are educated to not understand these distinctions, so it's usually pointless to even try to make the distinction unless some reactionary Democrat of the type dominant on the Northcoast tries to pretend that they represent “progressive” positions while the AVA doesn't. We're not lockstep lefties, though, and that's one of many ways we part company with lots of pwogs, especially the Mendo ones.
BASICALLY, I'd like to see public ownership of all major resources, all means of communication, medicine, and energy, and strict controls on capitalism up to and including a confiscatory tax on the big incomes and inheritances. You make more than a half-mil a year me and my friends will take it away from you and put it to public purpose. Dope, abortion, old people dressed like teenagers, sexual practices, groovy guy pony tails — that's none of government's business.
ON THE RARE OCCASIONS I get to make the above case on media other than my own, I'm always surprised at how many people agree with me. Much of the Occupy movement is on board, of course, but I think millions of people unaffiliated with active politics are also on board. But all of us are shut out by the media most people see, hear and read so, natch, left arguments are seldom heard. The Democratic Party, local, state and national, is hostile to any political impulse to the left of Jared Huffman, Pelosi and the rest of the limo apparatus. (Last week I read in the Chron that Gavin Newsom is the only possible “left” candidate who might oppose Jerry Brown for re-election!)
THE STATE of the nation is not good, a fact of contemporary life most Americans would agree with. But here we are, as catastrophes multiply and intensify, stuck with an entropic political system not only unable to address the proliferating disasters but the system's staffers pretend that electing one Limo guy over another Limo Guy is the only option we have.
“2014 SEEN AS BIG YEAR FOR STATE'S WINE.” Wine and marijuana being Northern California's primary work product and income earners in an area that not long ago produced lumber, sheep, fish, apples, and other essential products, stories on wine and dope, especially wine, are in the news every day. In casual conversation the other day with a pot farmer, he said prices for marijuana are so low right now he's sitting on 30 pounds of bud until the market improves. Which it may soon given the drought, even though every year more people get into the drug business, hence the present pot glut. Lots of grows are dependent on stream diversions, but the streams and springs are likely to be drier this growing season than they were last year, and they were very dry last year. Vineyards, especially those dependent on the Russian River, also face major water supply shortages. But water issues are seldom mentioned in connection with vineyards, and mentioned in relation to marijuana only as one more negative — outback marijuana farming is bad for the environment because illegal water diversions destroy the natural world.
MEDIA LOVE RACE STORIES. Ever notice how often the suburban Santa Rosa Press Democrat runs heavy on “news” of Bay Area shootings, the latest on Dennis Rodman and endless stories about the legal problems of black celebrities? The subliminal message the PD passes along on a daily basis is, “Gosh. Aren't us nice white people lucky to live here in the Rose City where we're safe from all this low-rent behavior?” Meantime, Mexican kids are shooting at each other and central Santa Rosa teems with white tweekers.
SO, THE MORNING HEADLINE SCREAMS, “Latinos set to pass whites in numbers.” Poor ol' beleagured Whitey not only has to worry about Rodman playing basketball in North Korea, he reads that “the present average age” of Mexicans is 28, that stat alone translating as “Jesus! They're breeding like rabbits!"
THEN WE LEARN that of California's 38.2 million people there are slightly more Hispanics than white people, with Asians picking up steam at 13 percent of the population while a mere 6.6 million citizens are black. Bringing up the rear of the ethnic demographic are 1.7 million Native Americans.
THE MOST ALARMING of the race stats, to me anyway, is the one that tells us that a thousand wheezes a day become Senior Citizens and “older voters aren't as supportive of youth-specific policies.” The huge amounts of public money devoted to so-called seniors over the relatively paltry amounts devoted to the non-voting young seems to fairly scream that young people aren't getting any kind of break while we're still around.
THE MENDOCINO COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE HAS NOTICED AN INCREASE IN US MAIL THEFTS from roadside mailboxes, thus the following press release.
For the past several weeks unknown person(s) have been stealing mail from roadside mailboxes primarily in the Ukiah and Redwood Valley areas. These thefts have occurred during the late night and early morning hours. The Sheriff's Office is asking for the public's assistance in identifying any suspect(s) and to help protect the community against crimes of identity theft. If you see someone tampering with a roadside mailbox then please immediately contact the Sheriff's Office at 707-463-4086 to report your observations. The community can help protect themselves from identity theft by collecting US mail from roadside mailboxes as soon as possible after its delivery.
MAIL THEFT is a tweeker mainstay crime, a simple path to making a few quick bucks to buy more tweek.
A GRASS FIRE burned roughly four acres near the San Mateo County community of La Honda, one of dozens of wildfires that have struck Northern California during the unusually dry month of January. Firefighters have responded to more than 150 wildfires — burning some 600 acres — across the state in January, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Normally, about two dozen fires are reported by this point in the year. “It all has to do with the fact that things are critically dry,” said Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant. A red flag warning, a signal of high fire danger, remains in effect Thursday for hills in much of Northern California.
IN THE NINETEEN-THIRTIES, one in four Americans got their news from William Randolph Hearst, who lived in a castle and owned twenty-eight newspapers in nineteen cities. Hearst's papers were all alike: hot-blooded, with leggy headlines. Page 1 was supposed to make a reader blurt out, “Gee whiz!” Page 2: “Holy Moses!” Page 3: “God Almighty!” Still, you can yank people around for only so long. Wonder ebbs. Surprise is fleeting. Even rage abates. In 1933, Hearst turned 70. He started to worry. How would the world remember him when he could no longer dictate the headlines? Ferdinand Lundborg, a reporter for The York Herald Tribune, was beginning to work on a book about him; no one expected it to be friendly. Hearst therefore did what many a rich, aging megalomaniac has done before and since: he hired a lackey to write an authorized biography, preemtively. In 2010, one in four Americans got the news from Fox News. That year, Roger Ailes, its head, turned 70. Gabriel Sherman, an editor and reporter for New York magazine, was beginning to work on a book about him. Sherman interviewed more than 600 people for “The Loudest Voice in the Room.” (Random House). Ailes, who is known for menace, was not among them. “Take your best shot at me,” Ailes is said to have told another New York writer, “and I'll have the rest of my life to go after you.” (—Jill Lepore)
WATER — A LETTER TO MENDOCINO COUNTY SUPERVISORS
The current drought appears to have elevated the Supervisors concern regarding water supply. Water issues, supply and quality, should always be a high priority. The County has a history of misplacing emphasis and concern in dealing with water issues.
Sonoma County can survive with the use of water discharged from Lake Sonoma. Mendocino County and the area along the Russian River below Lake Mendocino is in a seriously compromised position (where water supply is not being supplanted by discharges from a significant source). What would happen if the Eel River diversion into the Russian River were curtailed or ceased to exist?
It would be good to become water-wise (ASAP). Management options, both short and long term, are limited. Thus, making good choices, given the limitations, are very important. The following is a summary of some water issues that you might consider and re-think.
Development of Alternative Sources
Development of water sources is a difficult issue. Water source development should be thought of as long term project – to be managed by staff with serious expertise. The County, at one time, had staff dedicated to this issue. This is no longer the case. The County should look for knowledgeable people who have the capacity to help the County make better choices in developing and protecting their water resources.
Raising Lake Mendocino
There has been a lot of discussion about developing more capacity in the Lake. Raising the elevation of Lake Mendocino is a long shot for many reasons — including geophysical/seismic, dam safety, and financial. Even if found feasible, this project would be hugely expensive and would take many years to develop and execute.
Note on the above paragraph: Potter Valley interests have not supported raising the Lake due to the potential of a fish ladder incorporated into the dam project and the prospect of fish inhabiting the lake and upper Russian River.
AB 2121 — State Policy to Maintain Instream Flows and Frost Protection Diversion Regs.
Mendocino County has actively resisted the implementation of these policies and regulations by the State. The County has failed to recognize that these policies and regulations promote conservation and preserve water supplies and availability. These State policies and regulations require storage of water to be diverted during high flow (rain event) periods thus reducing water demand (cumulative diversion) during low rain and low flow periods. Requiring growers to impound water for future use is in the interest of the County and all parties. The County needs to be smarter on this issue.
Statistically, Agricultural use of water, statewide, is 80% of the total use of available water where urban/domestic use is about 8% of the total use of available water. Agricultural use is 10 times the use of urban/domestic use. This statistic clearly points out where conservation will have the greatest effect.
Water quality = Water Quantity and Water Quantity = Water Quality. The County has never affirmed the idea that pollution prevention can enhance water supply issue. Maintaining and protecting high quality waters should be a very high priority for the County. Stormwater pollution is a serious threat to, both, ground water quality and surface water quality. Appropriate management of Stormwater can benefit ground water recharge. Mendocino County has a history of ignoring, both, their responsibility and the benefits related to the implementation of water quality, Stormwater, protections. Stormwater solutions are not expensive and save money and resources in the long run.
• The County should employ competent staff to review and implement Stormwater mandates as applied by the Mendocino County Stormwater Ordinance and the County Stormwater MS 4 NPDES permit. Your project review coordinator, Abbey Stockwell, has left for another job. The County needs to fill this position with a competent practitioner. Doing business without competent staff in place will lead to compromised resources and will lead to violation of MS 4 NPDES responsibility and stipulated court agreements.
• The County should seek a competent water resource manager capable of guiding the County in water source development and water quality protection. Current staff has spent much time playing politics with water. This does not benefit the County.
Alan Levine, For Coast Action Group, Affiliate of Redwood Coast Watersheds Alliance, P.O. Box 215 Point Arena, CA 95468. Phone: Week Days 707 542-4408 Weekends 707 882-2484.
THE SHORT LIST
I find these lists of books a great deal of fun. The Kabloona insertion (January 8) by Lucille Estes, a kindred spirit, provoked me to an effort here.
Over the decades I’ve tried to give all the genres a decent look. In the past 40 years or so I’ve pretty much been reading non-fiction. Some works don’t make the list, but maybe they should. It took me months, in the 1980s, to read Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, but to tell you the truth, I was bogging down after Volume IV. I feel that, for all that work, it should have made a greater impact on me. I still feel bad that I skipped some parts of Moby Dick. My list is incomplete, and if I were to make another next decade, it would be different, no doubt.
These are not in any particular order.
The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini
The Domesday Book and Beyond, F.W. Maitland
Catch-22, Joseph Heller
The Personal Memoires of Ulysses S. Grant
The Campaigns of Napoleon, David G. Chandler
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
Mary Chesnut’s Civil War
Cien Años de Soledad, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Naufragios Y Comentarios, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca
Tragedy and Hope, Carroll Quigley
You know, there’s an opportunity here for someone learning English or Spanish because the English translation of Cien Años is excellent. One Hundred Years of Solitude is a fine read. Sure, it won prizes and all, but I recommend it because the guy’s funny. He hits when you don’t expect it, like Solzhenitsyn. Humor is the most difficult aspect of language to interpret, so I would be laughing hysterically reading the Spanish, and then I would ask myself whether the translator was able to do it justice and, I believe, I was always rewarded.
Some translations don’t do that well for learning one language or the other. Adventures in the Unknown Interior of America, the translation of Naufragios, for instance, left a little to be desired for me; the Spanish was written in the 1500s and the translators had a tall order on their hands.
Some books could be used instead of waterboarding. Say one needed a confession from a crook. Well, put him in solitary and give him a copy of Pilgrim’s Progress, or The Passover Plot. In no time, the guy’ll be banging on the door eager to spill the beans.
Well, I’m afraid I have eleven books on my list. Be glad, there are quite a few un-included authors swirling about in my mind’s eye pissed off at me right now.
Regards, Tom Rivard, Santa Rosa
MENDOCINO COUNTY DROUGHT AD-HOC COMMITTEE To Give Update On January 21, 2014 The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors will meet on January 21, 2014 at 9am to potentially renew its declaration of a Local Emergency and Imminent Threat of Disaster due to the ongoing drought in Mendocino County. The Board approved a Resolution to declare the emergency at its January 7, 2014 meeting, and appointed two of its members, Supervisor Carre Brown and Supervisor Dan Hamburg, to a Drought Ad-Hoc Committee. The committee and staff will share the results of its initial situational assessment activities with the Board at the January 21st meeting. County, regional and State officials are taking action in response to severe drought conditions in California. Governor Jerry Brown has convened an interagency Drought Task Force that meets weekly to review expected needs, levels of preparedness and whether conditions warrant a statewide drought declaration. Locally, along with the County of Mendocino, both the City of Willits and Brooktrails Township have declared a drought emergency. Voluntary water conservation is already occurring in some areas of Mendocino County, with some local water distributors moving towards mandatory conservation. With water resources low, the possibility of illegal water diversion may increase. If there is a concern about illegal water diversion, we encourage the public to call the Sheriff’s Office at 707-463-4086 to report these activities. Released by: Carmel J. Angelo, Chief Executive Officer
MONTHLY NETWORKING MEETING. Ukiah Conference Center, 200 S. School St, Ukiah Date: January 21, 2014. Noon. Join us for our first brown bag lunch networking meeting of 2014 at our new location and time! Meeting will feature introduction to Women in Business, plans for the year and a business spotlight. Welcome returning members and those of you interested in growing your businesses. Membership fees as little at $50/year or $5 drop-in. For more information, call Karen (707) 462 3509. More information and online registration: Monthly Networking Meeting. Best regards, Ukiah Women in Business Network