TOO MUCH BYPASS WATER
Delay Further Water-Using Construction on Bypass
January 28, 2014
Governor Jerry Brown
State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814
Re: Drought & Implications for the Caltrans Willits Freeway Bypass
Dear Governor Brown: You recently declared a drought emergency in the State of California. The week before, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors and the Willits City Council had both declared a state of emergency in our area. Our county and its residents are experiencing water rationing. Even with severe restrictions, there is uncertainty, if we do not receive substantial amounts of rainfall to fill our reservoirs and recharge our groundwater aquifers, that we can make it through 2014 with water for basic human needs. Under these circumstances, it would be unconscionable to proceed with extremely water-intensive construction on the Willits Bypass project this year. In 2013, Caltrans reports having used at least four million gallons from local wells for dust control and compaction on the project. Activities during the coming 2014 season would far exceed that amount, with continued earth-moving, dust control, compaction and adding cement mixing for construction of bridges and a one-mile long aqueduct. Those local wells and those millions of gallons of water are essential for the survival of 13,000 people living in the Willits area! At the same time that the bypass project plans to use large amounts of water, it also plans to pave over nearly 90 acres of wetlands in our small valley. Those wetlands are critically important in recharging our aquifers, not to mention their role in flood control, cleansing water going into salmon-spawning creeks and supporting other wildlife. In your declaration about our water crisis, you also wisely mentioned the importance of protecting and restoring wetlands.
Even if or when the current drought eases, there is a way to substantially reduce the wetlands impact of the Willits Bypass project. Some of the damage has already been done, but at the northern terminus of this 6-mile bypass, only about one-tenth of the fill has been placed so far. An I-5 style interchange is planned, covering 40-acres of wetlands almost 30 feet deep, even though the project is only 2 lanes connecting with an existing 2-lane highway and even though, north of Willits, traffic averages only 8,000 vehicles per day. By scaling back this over-sized interchange, some 30 acres of wetlands could be restored to their original high-functioning natural state, at the sensitive convergence of several streams feeding Outlet Creek into the Eel River. (See graphic above.) I urge you to: a) Delay any further water-using construction activities on this project; and b) Before construction resumes, order Caltrans to redesign the northern interchange by scaling back to either a round-about or at-grade intersection (both already designed), thus minimizing further unnecessary filling and instead restoring these wetlands. By the way, the project appears to already be considerably over budget, with just one example being the wetlands mitigation bids that came in three-times more than Caltrans’ estimate. Scaling back the northern interchange could reduce costs for construction as well as for massive, untested wetlands mitigation measures. Finally, this common-sense revision in the plans would not only benefit wetlands and save State taxpayers money, it would also substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions during construction. It would be a tangible, major step toward the more sustainable transportation policy you have called for and that we all want.
PUBLIC ENEMY CONFESSES
Let me warn you about a man who was pals with the president who kills terrorists —- because he's coming to Mendocino on February 13, 2014. That would be Bill Ayers, signing and selling his new book, Public Enemy: Confessions of an American Dissident. I've known Bill since 1965 when we worked together in Ann Arbor as teachers, counselors and dissidents. He was and is very subversive, which is why the right-wing blow-hards tell their followers to buy and burn his books! So, show up at Gallery Bookshop at 6:30 and meet the man and the myth. Teachers are encouraged to attend and to read his To Teach and also Teaching the Taboo. These recent books are filled with stories of courage that will inspire today's educators to bring initiative and imagination into the classroom; manuals for evolving by a long-time school reform activist and retired professor with a wonderful sense of humor & history. (Did he ghost- write Obama's book?)
LILLIPUT DEMANDS CAUTION
If your opinion is based on what you read in the AVA, Bruce, some cautions apply. Your reporter's diligence in the matter of KZYX Board business should be tested. Task your reporter to discover who gave you the internal Board memo that you published. Is there an un-trustee on the Board? If so, who? Break the big story, Bruce, and scoop the Press Democrat.
Ed Reply: Sources, Gordy, sources. They aren't to be revealed, as even you should know, because if people can't trust us with risky info, people won't tell us stuff, and if people won't tell us stuff we won't be able to scoop the PD a hundred times a week like we have all these years — well, since Big Mike Geniella hung up his spurs anyway. PS. You really have been in Lilliput too long, old boy. There's very little interest in KZYX's bumbling management beyond Philo; we follow it because we think it's funny, as much of public life in this odd county is.
McKENTY: THE ALLEGATION
AVA readers should be aware that Doug McKenty is the person who bears responsibility for both his removal from the KZYX airwaves and the temporary suspension of the Open Lines program which he hosted. Since he has not had the guts or integrity to admit it in all the communications that he has made about the situation at KZYX, in which he had made himself out to be the victim and the station's savior, here is what happened on his last night on the air as I understand it:
When a listener called in and said the word, “fuck,” instead of doing what he should have done, which is to press the red “off” button on the phone that would have disconnected the caller and announcing over the air that, for FCC reasons, such language cannot be allowed on the air since doing so threatens the station's license, which Doug damn well knows, he kept the conversation going without making any attempt to correct the situation while both Mary Aigner and station engineer, Rich Culbertson, who were in the studio, were gesturing to him to shut the caller off and say something on the air.
Doug who has been at the station long enough to know better, ignores them.
On the basis of his being booted from the station, a position that I heartily endorsed, he has gone around the county, pretending to be a victim and that he cares about the station in order to create a revolt among the listeners to take over the station board, while not telling those he speaks with about what actually happened. This I have learned with speaking with some of them who were stunned to learn the truth.
As for John Sakowitz, he doesn't have the faintest idea or apparently any concern for FCC regulations. (Whether they are legit or not is another matter but disobeying them is not an option.) He seems to believe that the station must have an Open Lines program that permits UNRESTRICTED FREE SPEECH (as he capitalized the words) not apparently knowing or caring to know that there is no such thing as “unrestricted free speech” allowed on the nation's airways.
He then holds up KMUD as a shining example of what KZYX should look like without bothering to find out that KMUD, a fine station in its own right (that he probably has never listened to), does not have an “Open Lines” program and that listeners wishing to make comments about the station, its programming and anything on their minds need to call the station's phone line and leave a two-minute message on an extension which the station may or may not play at its discretion.
Then like a Don Quixote missing his meds, he starts complaining to the FCC and now, apparently, to the CPB, where, I assure you, his complaints will be considered a joke. Just to set the record straight, the station is not about to lose its license.
Ed reply: I agree with much of what you say here, but it seems clear that McKenty was offed not to spare the virginal ears of KZYX listeners and FCC drones but because he'd affiliated with a reform group. A few years ago KC Meadows was “suspended” for not remaining “neutral” during a marijuana discussion, meaning she'd expressed an opinion the pot heads didn't like. And since she's smart and articulate she had to go. For years now, KZYX management of whomever has managed to create public relations problems for itself. And I think KMUD does indeed set the standard for true community radio.
The Truth About Open Lines
A Response to Jeff Blankfort
Up to this point, I have been quiet about my experience with the suspension of Open Lines that occurred after a mysterious caller used obscene language on the night of 9/19/13. Contrary to Jeff Blankfort's claims, I have not spread any story about myself as a victim, though many may have drawn their own conclusions, nor, when asked, not told anyone what I am about to tell you.
First, I had decided to leave station politics behind when I left the board last May. All I wanted to do was continue to do a public service by hosting Open Lines. As a board member, I discovered that MCPB was essentially defunct at the board level, not following the bylaws or any of the policy papers developed by previous boards. As a result of my firsthand experience as a board member, I stopped defending the station on the air when people called up and talked about lack of transparency or posited the notion that the station was not following its Mission Statement, as it was my feeling that the station had, and has, a lot of work to do on both of these issues. What I did not do was use my status as host to hold a bully pulpit and espouse my own views. I remained as neutral as possible and gave everyone their three minutes to speak.
Despite my best efforts at neutrality, station management and staff began to hassle me about defending their point of view. This eventually led to harassing emails and name-calling on the programmers’ listserve. After a few months of this, I decided I had had enough, and became proactive about contacting some current board members to warn them of the dereliction occurring within present board and management practices and the associated liability. One thing I discovered, at this point, was that none of the board members had read any of the corporate documentation and did not know what they what they were supposed to be doing. As I went about trying to educate them about the most egregious of the issues in front of them, I remember having a conversation with board member Stuart Campbell explaining that if I went forward with this, I would lose my show. This was last July.
Shortly after that, I discovered the policy paper describing the Programming Advisory Council, a policy I advocated for as a board member, missing from current board members copies of MCPB’s corporate documents. I began meeting with individual board members to inform them of the severity of this situation, and I began to form KZYX Members For Change. It was my hope that, were a group to form behind me, I might be able to keep Open Lines once management and staff discovered I was going straight to the board with this information.
In order to tell the story of how I lost Open Lines, I need to take you back to the afternoon of 11/28/08, the first time somebody used an expletive while I was the host of the show. Though I had not been trained as to what to do, I did what anyone would think was the right thing to do and hung up on the person, stating that that type of language would not be tolerated on the air. Despite having done the right thing, Program Director Mary Aigner told me that she had to send me a letter documenting the event but that I should not worry as it was simply an FCC requirement. At this time, Mary told me that in the future I should ignore such expletives as hanging up on the person only draws more attention to the event increasing the chance that a listener will notice and complain to the FCC. Though I believed this notion sounded counter-intuitive, I was a new programmer and trusted the training given to me by the Program Director. A few months later, when another obscenity slipped through on Open Lines, I did exactly as Mary told me, I let it slide and did not bring attention to it. Still feeling uncomfortable about this, I spoke with her after the show when she assured me that I had handled the situation properly. That is how I was trained and that is how I have always dealt with obscenity on the air. There have been dozens of such instances throughout the years and no one ever told me otherwise. I was never sent another letter. I was never threatened with suspension nor was Open Lines ever threatened with cancellation as a result of these obscenities. As far as I was told over the course of years of hosting the show, I was doing the right thing.
So, on the night of 9/19/13, I responded to the obscenity on Open Lines the same way I always did, the way I was trained to do. Did it feel like the wrong thing to do? Yes. In hindsight I feel pretty duped, especially since I was waiting for the excuse that Mary would use to suspend the show. Using FCC regulations to eliminate programs and programmers that expressed views counter to hers is a pattern I have seen before. I was live on the air and made the wrong call.
It appears now that there are those who actually believe I allowed the obscenity on the air to occur in order to get the station in trouble with the FCC. This is a ridiculous accusation. The station’s current issue with the FCC has nothing to do with obscenity. The letters written in complaint, of which I have personally read three, have to do with rudeness directed at members by staff and management, a lack of membership input into programming decisions, and poor governance by the current board of directors, whom, since becoming aware of many of these issues, have chosen to go six months without a board meeting. Also, despite rumors to the contrary, I have not written to the FCC myself, nor did I ever advocate for the writing of such letters before the Nov. 1, deadline. It has always been my feeling that these issues should be addressed in house and that the membership, if properly educated, will vote for change.
At my grievance hearing Mary denied ever telling me to ignore obscenity. It is her word against mine. It is interesting to note that the first letter, sent after I intuitively responded properly to such language in 2008, is used as a precedent for proving that I should have known better in 2013. It is also interesting to note that after years of my dealing improperly with obscenity Mary Aigner would chose the night of 9/19, the very night she observed me at an organizational meeting at Lauren's Cafe in Boonville for KZYX Members for Change, as the night to make an exception to what had become for me, the rule.
Mary has a paper trail, and she has plausible deniability. This whole issue comes down to one of trust. Who do you believe? I urge each and every one of you to research the facts for yourself. Get as many different perspectives as you can, and follow your own feelings. If you trust Mary Aigner over me, don't vote for me. If you are tired of seeing issues like this explode every six months at KZYX, vote for Change.
Please check out the Facebook page “KZYX Members for Change” for more information and updates about KZYX as these issues evolve and the current campaign for this year’s election of the Board of Directors of Mendocino County Public Broadcasting ensues.
MORE OCEAN MEETINGS — NOW!
Open Letter To The Honorable U.S. Congressman Jared Huffman & Members of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors: It has been almost five years since several U.S. Senators, including U.S. Senators Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, in a letter to NOAA, dated June 19, 2009, stated: “…In many regions, the Navy plans to increase the number of its exercises or expand the areas in which they may occur, and virtually every coastal state will be affected. Some exercises may occur in the nation's most biologically sensitive marine habitats, including National Marine Sanctuaries and breeding habitat(s)…In all, the Navy anticipates more than 2.3 million takes (significant disruptions in marine mammal foraging, breeding, and other essential behaviors) per year, or 11.7 million takes over the course of a five-year permit…” Now the U.S. Navy wants to expand its NWTT (which includes Northern California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho & Alaska), and increase its training and testing exercises here. The U.S. Navy Draft NWTT Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS/OEIS), is online at www.NWTTEIS.com (Public comment due by March 25, 2014.) We are petitioning the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors to hold a formal meeting in Fort Bragg on March 7, 2014, on this issue of how to protect our coastal region from increasing warfare testing impacts. We are requesting that U.S. Congressman Huffman work toward protecting sensitive and critical biological areas and our marine mammals from ever-increasing warfare testing. For more information please contact the Ocean Protection Coalition in Fort Bragg. http://www.oceanprotection.org/OPC/Contact.html
Mary Clare Ditton, Mendocino
Sue Nagle, Albion
One and all —
Come cry with me.
It's so shocking to the military — funding cuts, ever so shocking! A reduction in retirement benefits (after age 40 with 20 years in uniform) those spoiled bastards in Congress are going to have to fight their own wars. They've already voted against Syria. The chickenshits.
The Pentagon is in mourning. Altogether now boo-hoo, boo-hoo!
Happy holidays always.
PS. Secretary of Defense Hagel came to the conclusion that we don't even need Minutemen 3's in silos anymore. They're redundant. The Navy does a better job at nuclear deterrence than the Air Force.
PPS. Schwarzenegger? Krauthammer? Where do we get these people? We indeed need immigration reform! I doubt these two came through the Sonoran Desert. The K-guy says we need Canada's tar sands otherwise China's going to get that invaluable resource. I say right on. Let them build that pipeline due west and forget the Keystone to Oklahoma. Furthermore, we don't need it, given windbags like the K-man around spouting off. Peace in the land from high atop the silvercrest tower in Eureka.
THANK YOU, ANDERSON VALLEY!
To my Anderson Valley friends and neighbors,
Thanks, from the bottom of my heart, to everyone who supported the benefit at Lauren’s on Sunday, January 26th, organized by Brian Wood on my behalf. It was an overwhelming demonstration of love, support, and encouragement for me and meant more than I can say.
At the end of September, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor and quickly transferred to UCSF where I underwent brain surgery (!). They got most of it, which was not malignant, thankfully, and now I’m in Berkeley having 6 weeks of follow-up radiation. I was able to be home on the weekend of the fundraiser, and in addition to the incredible financial support, I was the grateful recipient of hundreds of hugs, kisses, and words of encouragement. That afternoon put much-needed wind in my sails, enough to spur me on towards the finish line in my treatment process.
I can’t thank Brian Wood enough for spearheading the effort. And big thanks to the incredible team that worked with him, contributing your time and talents to make the event at Laurens a success! Whether you made it to the benefit or not, thanks also to everyone who has supported me throughout the last few months in so many ways, big and small. Special thanks to my daughter Claire, for always being there, taking time off from work and school while I was in the hospital, coordinating meal donations afterwards, and for always being ready with a pep talk when I need it! And thanks to Stan for hanging in there, giving me constant encouragement, and helping me roll with the many punches.
Did I pick the right place to put down roots, or what? During my 30-something years in the valley I’ve watched, and often helped, groups of friends and neighbors rally around someone in need, and been proud to be a part of it. But I never considered that my time might come to be the one in need. Now with the shoe on the other foot, I can truly say I’m more grateful than ever to be a part of this community.
Looking forward to being back, and seeing you all soon!
THANKS FOR THE SUPPORT
I am writing to express my gratitude to the Anderson Valley community for their outpouring of love and support for us during Regine Schwenter's long battle with cancer. That love and support which was expressed so eloquently at the celebration of her life continues to be felt and will never be forgotten.
She will be remembered for her extraordinary generosity, her strong sense of community, her love of beauty and of dancing, and for her watercolors. She died as she lived: with dignity, grace and bravery.
Thank you all,
As the drought continues to plague Mendocino and surrounding areas, an assault of unbearably cold weather is draining our energy in the New York City metropolitan area. Later today I will go shopping for a large butane area heater just in case the power goes off. With chill factors of -5° it's been difficult to keep the house warm.
God probably doesn't exist. If he did, he'd be one sadistic son of a bitch. No place to hide. As Eliot once observed, “This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper."
Rochelle, New Jersey
PS. Be well. Thanks to the entire AVA family for producing an excellent, honest, readable even by non-Mendonites, newspaper. Although its honest, incorruptible, but not quite omniscient, editors are wrong about the Kennedy assassination, World Trade Center which was as much of an inside job as was the blowing up of the USS Maine. Cheney admitted as much in a phone conversation we had and even taunted me by saying, “And what are you lefty pansies going to do about it?” I regret not having taped the conversation.
PPS. Stay well. Keep the print edition going. The post office is not perfect but it is the federal government that is screwing up the delivery of magazines and newspapers by obliging the post office to close distribution centers. It's a target for privatization like everything else. I'd pay more for the subscription if necessary.
MORE PAY = HIGHER PRICES
Minimum wage. Passing the minimum wage again is just a farce — the only one who would benefit would be the government. Let me explain.
First of all in practically all businesses and government, labor is by far the biggest expense, anywhere from 70-80%. Whenever labor costs go up everything that is affected by the labor cost also goes up. Most businesses that are not a monopolies (such as the government) are always under intense competition and if labor costs a lot the price of goods and services goes up. When the minimum wage goes up all the wages throughout the scale of wages go up. So if this person's wages go up say 5%, it may be a pretty good jump in their weekly check. But when they go to buy something everything has gone up 5%. Literally they are financially standing still except that the raise may put that person in a higher income tax bracket. Also with a higher price of goods there is more sales tax. It might be okay if our government would pay down its massive debt but the sad fact is that if they get $1000 more they will spend $1050 more only increasing the debt. The only way all the people and those around the minimum wage in particular can benefit more is if we are more efficient in business manufacturing and particularly government inefficiency. Efficiency means your dollar will buy more.
We know only too well why Orwell's 1984 has been so much in the news lately, but we forget about Huxley's equally prophetic dystopia Brave New World at our peril. Social engineers have two time-tested means of social control at their disposal, the carrot and the stick. Total surveillance, the constant threat of terrorism and the artificial poverty of the masses caused by an inequitable distribution of wealth all served to beat the populace into submission in 1984. Conversely, the citizens of Brave New World were given bread and circuses to dispel discontent. The idea was to satisfy man's baser needs and desires to distract from politics and creative thought. They had a highly hyped national pastime called “centripetal bumblepuppy,” the only ostensible point of which was to kill time. We've got the Super Bowl and video games. They had “feelies” in a movie theater and “pneumatic” sex. We've got a flood of pornography on the Internet. They had all the cheap gin they could drink and “Soma” for really bad hair days. We've got Prozac and the legalization of marijuana will keep a lot of people quiet. These are all examples of what Marcuse called “repressive desublimation” in his seminal study of societies ills, Eros and Civilization. Even more frightening is Huxley's warning that genetic engineering may design a caste system based on levels of intelligence so that, as my father would put it, there aren't too many chiefs and not enough Indians. In other words, to guarantee a permanent 1% to share the wealth and wield power, while the 99% at the bottom of the pyramid does the dirty work.
We're getting a double whammy: both the carrot and the stick.
PS. Neither Huxley nor Orwell has much to say about human overpopulation because it wasn't such a clear and present danger when they wrote. But it's a good bet that they would both agree that we better do something about it or risk either a return to the stone age or else an even more tightly controlled future totalitarian state. I doubt that either would argue that unrestricted reproductive freedom is an inalienable right. I never cease to be dumbfounded and amazed that anybody could be against birth control. At the risk of sounding cynical, I have to wonder if religious groups that oppose it do so to increase the numbers of the faithful. Without birth control Catholic women for instance produce more Catholics. Would the Little Sisters of the Poor or Pope Francis prefer that Viagra should be covered under the health insurance plans of Catholic men only? A purportedly celibate priesthood tainted with rampant pedophilia is hardly in a position to pontificate about sexual morality to others.
PS. Ten titles that removed a few of the scales from my eyes.
1. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man — Joyce
2. In Search of Lost Time — Proust
3. The Golden Notebook — Lessing
4. The Possessed — Dostoevsky
5. Tropic of Capricorn — Miller
6. The Magus — John Fowles
7. Jean Christophe — Romain Rolland (the guy who coined the term “oceanic feeling” used by Freud in Civilization and Its Discontents)
8. Life Against Death (subtitled “A psychoanalytical interpretation of history) — Norman O. Brown
9. Memories, Dreams, Reflections — Jung
10. The Urantia Book — Authors unknown, supposedly of nonhuman origin.
Some very good news for all who have supported the effort to protect the old growth redwoods of Richardson Grove State Park. As you may remember, after the years-long struggle to even get CALTRANS to write an Environmental Impact Report (EIR), the resulting EIR was so inadequate and pock-marked with errors that it could not be allowed to stand unchallenged. The Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC), the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), Californians for Alternatives to Toxics (CATS), local individuals and dedicated pro-bono attorneys took it upon themselves to challenge the mighty bureaucratic monolith that is CALTRANS in two separate Court actions - one lawsuit in Federal Court for violations of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and one action in State Court for violations of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA.)
The Federal Court action resulted in the injunction that has halted the project to date. The State Court action was heard in Humboldt County Superior Court and ruled that CALTRANS had followed the requirements of CEQA, upholding the EIR. The plaintiffs (the opponents of the project) disagreed and appealed the verdict to the California Court of Appeals. The appeal was heard in January in San Francisco (January 15, 2014). We felt it had gone well. Yesterday a decision was handed down by the three-judge panel. The panel ruled unanimously that: "The EIR fails to comply with CEQA insofar as it fails to evaluate the significance of the project's impacts on the root systems of old growth redwood trees adjacent to the roadway."
The Appeals Court reversed the judgement of the Trial Court and decertified the EIR pending modification by CALTRANS of those portions of the EIR discussing impacts on old growth redwood trees and proposed mitigation measures in compliance with CEQA.
What does this all actually mean? Is the fight over? Can we relax? Unfortunately no. With all the resources of the State behind it and with all of your taxpayer dollars paying the way, this outfit will not mend its ways. Like the terminator, we expect that "they will be back" with another attempt to push this project through so stay tuned.
Meanwhile, as a result of Governor Brown's call to reorganize the State government, a new State Super Agency has been created called CalSTA which takes all the scattered State agencies dealing with transportation under its umbrella. In conjunction with this effort, a study of CALTRANS was undertaken by a think-tank in Wisconsin called the State Smart Transportation Initiative (SSTI) to provide an assessment of the performance of CALTRANS and recommendations for improvement. The study was just published yesterday, 01-30-2014 and can be found at:
It should make for interesting reading!
Finally, thanks to all who have supported the effort to protect the ancient old growth redwoods of Richardson Grove State Park. The battle is not over and your continued support is VITAL. Financial support is needed to continue these efforts. Please consider sending whatever funds you can spare to EPIC (a tax-deductible contribution.) You can reach their website at:
In addition, if you are able, please also consider a contribution (tax-deductible) to the Center for Biological Diversity at:
Feel free to send any comments or questions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.