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Mendocino County Today: Sunday, February 23, 2014

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BOONVILLE SENIORS are unhappy with the fallout over County veterans' buildings, because for Boonville, the fallout means the difference between a token rent of a dollar a year for the annual use of the structure to $250 a month for use of the building, which is virtually unused except for the Seniors a couple of days per week and an occasional vet's meeting.

RECOMMENDED ACTION/MOTION: Direct staff to amend the MOU with the Anderson Valley Senior Center associated with the use of the Boonville Veterans’ Memorial Building to reflect the same terms as thePoint Arena Senior Center MOU; transfer the administration of all Veterans’ Memorial Buildings from the Healthand Human Services Agency to the General Services Agency; and adopt the revised Rules and Regulations.

THIS TUESDAY, Feb 25th, the Board of Supervisors will be voting to raise or not to raise the rent on the Anderson Valley Senior Center. Increased rent could mean the closure of our very active senior center.

THE VALLEY'S SENIORS are mobilizing! On Tuesday, the Supes can expect to find themselves up to their armpits in walkers, canes and heart monitors.

FROM THEIR organizing letter: "It is estimated (by their secretary) that about 10:00 am it will be on the agenda. We need a large contingency from our community there in support. The meeting is on Low Gap Road in the county building (where you pay taxes, next to the building for planning and building). Those who would like to carpool, let's meet in the Fairgrounds parking lot at 8:45 and the last car will leave at 9:00. If you aren't able to attend, tell a friend or neighbor, help spread the word. Enjoy this beautiful weather in anticipation of the rain next week! Anne Bennett, Boonville

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PHIL BALDWIN, mayor of Ukiah, wants to stop the spread of “tawdry, cheesy and garish” digital signs in his fair city, as the mayor put it to Justine Frederickson of the Ukiah Daily Journal. Red Phil's always been good on quality of life issues. We thought he was right about getting jet skis off Lake Mendocino, and we think he's right to at least try to prevent the proliferation of electronic message boards in a town already replete with squalid visuals. “I consider them a threat to the safety of our roads, and I consider them a threat to the quality of life in this community,” Baldwin said. “We're seeing the beginning of an invasion. We need to act and we should act within six weeks.”

THE HOLY TRINITY EPISCOPAL CHURCH on South Orchard Avenue, Ms. Frederickson reports, “installed a scrolling electronic sign that displays words of wisdom and advises of upcoming events. A similar sign was also erected by Star’s Restaurant on South Orchard Avenue near the corner of East Perkins Street.”

CALL US OLD SCHOOL, but electronic renditions of the Good Book? And the Episcopalians had wanted an even larger sign! Maybe Star’s and the church could combine their electronic message boards. “Jesus Says, Eat Grease At Stars.”

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NO FEDERAL irrigation water for the Central Valley this year. The drought is forcing producers of fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains to make tough decisions about which crops to plant, and which ones not to plant due to a lack of water, leaving harvests that are likely to fall short of demand. A recent estimate by the California Farm Water Coalition, suggested that as much as 600,000 acres of land, or about 8 percent of the state's total, could be left fallow in the coming year. US Bureau of Reclamation officials announced Friday that meager snow and rain in the Sierra Nevada means they won't be able to provide farmers any of the water they normally receive from the federally run system of reservoirs and canals fed by mountain runoff. The system supplies water for about a third of the state's agricultural land.

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THE WORLD'S MOST-WANTED DRUG LORD, ‘Joaquin ‘El Chapo” Guzman has been captured in Mazatlan, but methamphetamine distributors on the Northcoast never seem to get arrested. Why? Guzman faces multiple federal drug trafficking indictments in the US and is on the DEA's most-wanted list. His drug empire allegedly stretches throughout North America and reaches as far away as Europe and Australia. His cartel has been heavily involved in the bloody drug war that has torn through parts of Mexico for the last several years.

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To the Editor:

As a former KZYX&Z board president and a current candidate for the radio station’s 3rd District seat on its board, I want to respond to several inaccuracies in Patricia Kovner’s recent letter to your newspaper.

Kovner, who is also running for KZYX’s 3rd District seat, clearly cares deeply about the station. But she doesn’t have all of her facts straight.

She claims the station is in “big trouble” because of three recent letters of complaint to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

First off, KZYX is not in trouble with the FCC nor in any danger of losing its FCC license. The complaints from listeners to which Kovner refers address several of the station’s programming decisions and urge the FCC to suspend the station’s license. The FCC has no jurisdiction over programming. The commission monitors the nuts and bolts of broadcasting -- things like band width and frequency. KZYX&Z is in compliance with all FCC regulations.

Patricia criticizes the station because its nightly “news hour” has been cut to about 10 minutes and some of its best news staff “replaced.” For the record, KZYX only aired a 60-minute news program for two of its twenty-four years of operation. Contrary to Kovner’s assertion, KMUD in Humboldt County has never had a one-hour news slot.

When General Manager John Coate was hired by the board on which I served in 2008, the station was dead broke and $200,000 in the hole. To cut overhead, Coate scaled back the news hour to its original 30 minutes and laid off news assistant Christina Aanastad. Eventually, he was forced to let go of news director David Brooksher and reduce the 30-minute news show to 10 minutes. Did Coate want to? Absolutely not. But a station teetering on the financial precipice cannot afford a full-time news director. Coate has always promised that he’ll produce the best news that the station’s listeners want to fund.

Annie Esposito, the station’s legendary news director, joyfully retired before Coate arrived and was not sent packing, as Kovner implies.

Kovner complains that the KZYX board of directors has “no power.” The board has the same power it has always had: holding the license to the station; hiring and firing the general manager, and ensuring the station is run professionally, in a fiscally responsible manner and in compliance with the station’s mission. When I joined the board of KZYX in 2005, the station had no had a general manager, and the board became way too involved in the station’s day-to-day operation, a situation that was onerous for the staff and the board. Now that KZYX has a strong, fiscally responsible and caring station manager in Coate, the board can and does maintain a “hands off” approach to daily operations, as good boards should.

Coate and his hard-working staff have performed miracles: They’ve put the station in the black-- no small feat-- and made many technological improvements: installing a state-of the-art antenna for the station’s 90.7 signal; changing the way the satellite studios connect to Philo, rewiring the Philo Studio for greater reliability, and much more. Coate personally rebuilt the station’s Web site, making it more user friendly.

KZYX&Z is not a “closed shop,” as Kovner claims. Yes, the “Open Lines” program is currently off the air, and I hope it returns. Until then, listeners can write and call KZYX to express concerns about the station’s performance. There are also 11 hours of community programming per week that offer call-in periods in which listeners can voice opinions.

Kovner wants the “old KZYX back,” a return to the days when Judi Bari had a show every two weeks (not, every week, as Kovner states.) You bet it would be great to have Judi back, and I’ll wager that every staff member at the station would do a happy dance if she could return to the air. But Bari is dead; there’s no going back.

KZYX&Z is not perfect and never has been. Community broadcasting is a messy business. Pleasing listeners, programmers, volunteers, regulators, funders, underwriters, donors, board, staff and community members, all with strong opinions, is no picnic. I would hope that all of us who care about the station can pull together, bridge our differences and make our small but mighty community radio station even stronger.

Sincerely, Jane Futcher, Willits

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Obama-CheneyCHENEY TO OBAMA: Since September 11th, the defense budget has more than doubled, including a Special Operations Command able to launch secret, lethal raids anywhere in the world that has grown from 30,000 elite troops to more than 67,000. The drone force has expanded from fewer than 200 unmanned aerial vehicles to more than 11,000, including perhaps 400 'armed-capable' drones that can and do target and kill from the sky — and that, following the computer directives of 'pilots' manning terminals in Virginia and Nevada and elsewhere in the United States, have killed in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia an estimated 3,600 people. The “black sites” — the network of secret prisons the CIA set up around the world, from Thailand and Afghanistan to Romania and Poland and Morocco — were ordered shut down by President Obama, but despite his executive order on his second day in office, Guantanamo Bay, the 'public black site,' remains open, its 155 detainees, but for a handful, uncharged and untried… (— Mark Danner, ‘In the Darkness of Dick Cheney’)

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As a writer and armchair philosopher, I have long wondered about the following cultural phenomenon: Our rich and fortunate American society has taken the bludgeoning of itself with clubs of Left and Right to be normal. We now consistently huddle in positions where We are purely blessed and They are hopelessly wrong. My sessions of contemplation often hint at some axiom that reads like this: Having not had, for some time, a true conflict with an outside military power to impoverish us, to rid the air of arrogance and to clarify how fragile and precious life is, we in America choose the next best surrogate, which is to chew each other raw. In my lifetime, it seems so much of our energy has been drawn into this pseudo-contest that we have tended to lose access to our innate optimism and to the wisdom that others are much like ourselves, with similar intentions and valuable gifts.

With this realization comes another — these cretin battles are playing out in microcosm in regions, states, valleys, cities, school boards, and even around Mendocino County’s public radio station, KZYX and KZYZ.

What we do currently have — and might consider ourselves fortunate to have — is a public radio station, one that at least functions after some very rough times, and is now in, or is close to being in, the financial black. Like anything made by women and men, it is miraculous and imperfect. And it is vulnerable to change and to the equally frightful state of not daring to change. Hallelujah! Humanity at work! Looking closer though, we have two partisan sides (see above); one group of supporters who sees the glass as overflowing with wine and another that feels the glass carries poison and is cracked.

What compels me to run for the At-Large seat on the radio station’s board is seeing that instead of nurturing each other’s right to communicate, and listening to and learning from the other, these sides have become tired and have begun a war of personality destruction. I know personally that little hampers a body’s passion and creativity to succeed more than being hated on sight and without fail. This surrogate battle raging in our county, then, may bring about what neither side wants, just as the viciousness in Washington is yielding a country that I barely recognize—that being, the collapse of the station.

It seems to me that what is missing is a sense of humor — really — which comes from understanding that in reality nothing is ever perfect. Therefore the glowing reports of perfection are as insulting as the reviews of toxicity are overblown. If these squabbles were an old fight for me, I might settle for merely including them in a novel. But being a relative newcomer to the Anderson Valley, without stake in one side or the other, and appreciating the rare grace of public radio in a culture progressively for sale to a few corporate tyrants, I have decided to see if civility and honesty can help the board stop cowering from its responsibilities and become a force of oversight and inclusion. It is my hope that if the board opens up to criticism and adopts a public and On-Air face along with a tenor of self-deprecation, it will bring needed change to the station and draw in those who are now motivated by fury over past and present policy, so that they can contribute their best for the well-being of the station.

As for employees (as well as board members and revolutionaries) who have been reduced to personalities, it’s good to remember that members of a team are always subject to change. Personnel that ignore this about themselves are unrealistic. History shows we all have an arc of contribution and that, in time, our baby (our job, our station, our cause) is better served by… what? being put up for adoption. I don’t know if this is the right time for specific personnel changes, but I submit we members, board members, and staff should move toward inevitable change from a position of strength, insight and harmony rather than through revolution. And to that end, I offer my listening apparatus (ears and heart) and my voice to serve on the board in the At-Large seat. I look forward to meeting you, and to serving, if what I say here carries enough fresh air to garner your support.

Tom Melcher, Philo

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On Monday February 24, at 12:00 p.m. the CAL FIRE – Mendocino Unit will be conducting a vegetation management control burn in the Mill Creek watershed east of Ukiah.  Burning is planned for Monday and Tuesday, February 24 and 25, weather and air quality conditions permitting.

The prescribed burning being done under this Vegetation Management Program (VMP) project will be conducted under specific climatic conditions to ensure control and minimize air quality and other impacts. The primary goal of this prescribed burn is to reintroduce fire as a natural element of the ecosystem.  A second goal is to improve wildlife habitat by inducing new shoots from sprouting species to increase forage production, with islands of unburned fuel left within the burned area to provide shelter for small mammals.  A third goal is to reduce overall vegetation in order to decrease the chance of catastrophic wildfires in the future.

“In light of the current drought conditions, this prescribed fire will also provide a training opportunity for firefighters to practice putting out fire with tactics that don’t include the use of water,” said Christopher Rowney, CAL FIRE’s Mendocino Unit Chief.

Historically, areas covered in brush experience a fire every 15 to 20 years.  Portions of the project site have not had a fire burn through for over 25 years, allowing the brush to become extremely thick and overgrown.  This has greatly reduced the ability of wildlife to move through the area and has reduced the flow of waters from creeks and springs.

The VMP program and other vital fire prevention and resource management programs received a nearly $12 million boost in funding in the 2013-2014 budget from the state’s fire prevention fee.

To ensure visitor safety, the BLM will close the Valley View Trail and North Cow Mountain access road beginning Monday, February 24.  The closure will remain in place during burning operations and possibly longer if forecast heavy rains occur.

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by Dan Bacher

Responding to a request by a coalition of environmental, fishing and Tribal groups, the state and federal governments today extended the public comment period for the Draft Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) and the Draft Environmental Impact Review/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) by 60 days.

The review period now totals 180 days stretching from Dec. 13, 2013 to June 13, 2014. "This extension will allow the public more time to review and comment on the public draft documents," according to an announcement from the California Natural Resources Agency.

“Keeping with our continued effort of transparency, additional time has been granted for review of the Draft BDCP documents facilitating greater public involvement,” said Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird. “All public comments received on the draft documents will be carefully evaluated and addressed in the Final EIR/EIS.”

The coalition had asked for a 120-day extension, twice the additional time granted by the state and federal agencies today.

Carolee Krieger, Executive Director of the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN), a member organization of the Environmental Water Caucus, said, “We thank them for the additional time, but this won’t change the fact that you can't produce more water by throwing money at it. The state has promised 5-1/2 times more water rights than the water that actually exists – and they can't get around that fact.”

"The additional time that we have been granted to respond to this is certainly welcome," commented Nick Di Croce, Co-Facilitator for the Environmental Water Caucus. "We are glad to see that the Department partially responded to our request; it now means that we have to review and comment on an average of only slightly more than 200 pages per day, including weekends. A 40,000 page EIR/EIS is truly an unworkable document under any circumstance."

The Department announcement mentioned that "the 180-day comment period is four times that of the required 45 days in order to ensure the public has plenty of time to review the draft documents."

However, it did not mention that according to federal guidelines, a complex EIR/EIS should be no more than 300 pages, according to Di Croce.

The Environmental Water Caucus, a broad coalition of fishing groups, environmental organizations and Tribes, on December 19, 2013 sent a letter to federal and state agency officials asking for an 120 day extension in the public review and comment period for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan Draft Plan and EIR and EIS. (

The letter noted that the 40,214 actual pages of the document represent 20% more pages than the 32 volumes of the last printed edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica!

"You may recall that in a November 21 letter to you, prior to the December 13 release of the BDCP Draft Plan and EIR/EIS, we requested that the public review and comment period be extended beyond the planned 120 days, based on the anticipated 25,000 page estimate of the BDCP documents," wrote Di Croce, in the letter addressed to Samuel D. Rauch, Administrator for NOAA Fisheries Service, and five others.

"We have now determined that there are 40,214 actual pages of the released documents and we request that you extend the public review and comment period for at least 120 additional days, due to the extraordinary size of the documents to be reviewed," he stated.

"Based on the dictated 120 day review time period, the public is being asked to review 473 pages of technical and scientific material per day during the 85 working days that are available during the public review and comment period. Additional time would be required to understand, research, and prepare comments on the voluminous documents," said Di Croce.

Caleen Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, pointed out the big impact that the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels will have on California Indian Tribes and Sacramento River Chinook salmon runs.

"These tunnels affect every Indian Tribe here in California as well as all salmon on the Pacific Coast," Sisk emphasized. "Every salmon fishing tribe should weigh in on this. These tunnels will KILL the Sacramento River salmon runs… all other runs will absorb the impact of thousands less salmon in the ocean!"

The Draft BDCP and associated Draft EIR/EIS are being made available to the public in accordance with the California Natural Community Conservation Planning Act, the Federal Endangered Species Act, the California Environmental Quality Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act.

The public review draft documents are available online at, and electronically at libraries throughout the state. Click herefor a full list of locations. If you would like to request a DVD copy of the documents please email BDCP.comments [at]

Comments must be received electronically or postmarked on or before June 13, 2014. Click here for more information on how to submit comments:

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