- CO Connection in Albion Bust
- The Face of Looming Fascism
- Author Love
- Safeway Buyout
- Supes' Upcoming Agenda
- Old Age
- California's Water Pathology
- Humco Outdoor Marijuana Proposal
- Minimum Wage Initiative in CA
- Police Report
THE BIG BUST last week of the Love In It Cooperative headquartered in Albion, apparently began in Colorado, according Capt. Greg Van Patten, of the Mendo Sheriff's Department. Colorado police intercepted a package of cash, another package of dope and soon alerted Mendocino County of the intercepts.
A RECENT CHRON STORY listed NorCal hate groups. The source? The Southern Poverty Law Center, assets of $260.5 million plus a huge, pharaonic-sized headquarters in Atlanta. Scaring liberals is darn near a Fortune 500 enterprise.
A BUNCH OF CRACKPOT organizations made the hate group top ten for this area, but nowhere in either the story, or the Southern Poverty Law Center's website did we get an estimate of how many dues paying nutjobs might go all the way over into attack mode. I'd be surprised if we're talking even a thousand total racists here, not that there aren't a good number of racists out there but not many who would dare dress up in sheets and pointy hats or don swastika armbands. Or actively take up arms.
CALL ME POLLYANA, but I remember when race relations really were poisonous, and anybody who says we don't get along a lot better these days is simply blind to the millions of loyal and affectionate intra-race relations of contemporary America.
I'D ADD that anti-Semitism is pretty much non-existent in the US, thanks to the mass drop-off in literacy. After all, you have to be literate enough to decode The Protocols and the rest of it to become an anti-Semite. Old fashioned racism is a lot easier because it's color-coded.
SO I LOOKED up some of the hate groups. One website featured a bunch of fat guys in Klan garb and maybe 200 of them at one of their rallies. The few up-close photos revealed faces familiar to special ed teachers and other professionals who make their way helping the learning impaired.
IN ALL THE WILD TALK about looming fascism in this country, it's not going to come from these people. It will look and sound a lot more like the KZYX board of directors with occasional executions of residual anti-capitalist radicals via NSA-dispatched drones. President for Life will be someone like Bill Clinton. NPR with no off button will be piped into all American homes and dope will be mandatory for citizens with annual incomes under $50,000.
IS THAT A PROMISE?
I received a T-shirt from my daughter for my birthday the day after your March 5th issue came out. It reads: “I go to bed with a different author every night.” I love it!
Tonta, Fort Bragg
THE LOCAL ANGLE on the Safeway buyout by the vampire squid Cerberus? Too early to tell, but in the already crowded market-market business in Ukiah with a CostCo on the way, and the vampires sucking every possible penny out of the Ukiah Safeway, it doesn't look good for the store's survival. Safeway has much less competition in Willits, less yet in Fort Bragg.
ON-LINE COMMENT re Safeway buyout: This development could not be good for consumers or workers. These firms that buy out these companies — with borrowed money — are only interested in one thing — immediate short term profit, and huge salaries and bonuses for people at the top (see Mitt Romney). Look for stores closing, real estate being sold off, efforts to bust unions. Safeway's decision to sell to this group will go down as the end of Safeway, long one of the best local employers (of its type) for generations really.
THE SALE OF COUNTY PROPERTY, a report from the county's drought ad-hoc committee and possible support for a state bill that would allow the use of dogs to hunt bears and bobcats locally are topics on the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors' Monday and Tuesday meeting agendas.
Both meetings start at 9 a.m. and are held at the county's administration center, located at 501 Low Gap Road in Ukiah, in the board's chambers, Room 1070.
At 1:30 p.m. Monday, the board will hold a hearing to receive sealed and/or oral bids for the sale of surplus county property. The parcels in question are located on Prairie Way in the town of Mendocino, on Blue Lakes Court in Willits and on Marina Drive in Calpella.
At an unscheduled time during the board's Monday meeting, the two supervisors appointed to the county's drought emergency ad-hoc committee will report to the full board on the committee's Feb. 26 meeting.
Nothing on the board's Tuesday meeting agenda is scheduled at a specific time.
At an unscheduled time Tuesday, the board will, if necessary, continue the Monday hearing on bids for purchase of surplus county property in the town of Mendocino, Willits and Calpella.
Also, the board will consider appointing a county supervisor to the Solid Waste Hearing Panel to replace 3rd District Supervisor John Pinches, who just finished his second consecutive four-year term on the panel. Pinches retires at the end of his current term on the board of supervisors, as well.
At the same meeting, Pinches is also seeking the support of his colleagues to write a letter of support for Assembly Bill 2205, which would give counties local control over whether to allow the use of hounds to hunt bears and bobcats.
The practice was banned with the passage of Senate Bill 1221 in 2012, according to a summary prepared for the board.
"Proponents for this bill state that SB 1221 was passed strictly on uneducated emotions," Pinches writes in the summary. "Proponents further allege that SB 1221 failed to consider the science which documents the need to manage these predators to control their impact on livestock, wildlife and public safety in rural and semi-rural areas."
The letter he proposes sending to the state Legislature says the bill would require the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to prepare triennial reports for the Fish and Game Commission on bear and bobcat populations.
Sending the letter, Pinches writes, would be consistent with the board's 2014 Legislative Platform Guiding Principles, which includes the board's "desire to promote and embrace local control to allow the county to exercise maximum flexibility in carrying out its policy and program mandates.'"
GANT was incapable of resignation. He had the most burning of all lusts — the lust of memory, the ravenous hunger of the will which tries to waken what is dead. He had reached the time of life when he read the papers greedily for news of death. As friends and acquaintances died he shook his head with the melancholy hypocrisy of old men, saying, "They're all going, one by one. Ah, Lord! The old man will be the next." But he did not believe it. Death was still for the others, not for himself.
He grew old very rapidly. He began to die before their eyes — a quick age, and a slow death, impotent, disintegrating, horrible because his life had been so much identified with physical excess — huge drinking, huge eating, huge rioting debauchery. It was fantastic and terrible to see the great body waste. They began to watch the progress of his disease with something of the horror with which one watches the movements of a dog with a broken leg, before he is destroyed — a horror greater than that one feels when a man has a similar hurt, because a man may live without legs. A dog is all included in his hide.
His wild bombast was tempered now by senile petulance. He cursed and whined by intervals. At the dead of night he would rise, full of pain and terror, blaspheming vilely against his God at one moment, and frantically entreating forgiveness at the next. Through all this tirad ran the high quivering exhalation of physical pain — actual and undeniable.
— Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward, Angel
CALIFORNIA’S WATER PATHOLOGY
by Will Parrish
Speaking at the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board’s once-every-other-month meeting in the north Santa Rosa blurbs on January 30th, California State Water Resources Board member Steven Moore characterized California’s drought as a natural disaster of epic proportions.
“This is our Hurricane Sandy,” he told the North Coast Regional’s five regional board members.
Despite a few solid drenchings in the past week, as well as a relatively wet February across much of California, the drought is indeed leading to some serious dislocations in many areas of the state, especially for farmers.
We have San Joaquin Valley almond farmers pulling up thousands of acres of trees and chipping them to sell to power plants. Cattle ranchers in Bakersfield and elsewhere in the region are selling their stocks en masse as grasslands dry up and hay prices stratify. Fields across the US’s most prolific agricultural region lie fallow.
The idea that the drought is a natural disaster, as opposed to a human-engineered catastrophe (or, better yet, a capitalist-engineered one) papers over the real causes of the state’s water crisis: California’s insanely wasteful and destructive water system.
California already leads the nation, by far, both in its number of large dams and reservoirs and in their storage capacity. More than 1,400 state and federal dams and their reservoirs are built to capture 42 million acre-feet of water, almost 60% of all the state’s water runoff (runoff being water that flows in streams, creeks, and rivers). Private dams capture much of the remaining water.
So, with regard to the dislocation of San Joaquin Valley farmers, here’s another way of framing the story: California has captured immense volumes of mostly Northern California water in the last several decades to irrigate cotton, pistachios, and pasture to grow them in the Southern California desert, and that massive water subsidy is not fully available this year.
Given that the ecological fabric that supports life on the planet is being brutally eradicated with an estimated 200 species going extinct every day worldwide in the biggest wave of extinction perhaps since the Cretaceous era, you might figure the lack of water that this massive amount of water infrastructure leaves for non-humans would be something of a concern.
A regional poster child is the Central Coast Coho Salmon. This iconic species, which at one time lashed local waterways into whiteness with its dense runs, ranges from southern Humboldt County to the San Lorenzo River system in Santa Cruz. Nowadays, the US Environmental Protection Agency classifies these coho as endangered.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) classifies them as “extirpated or nearly so” in the Russian River system, owing to the depredations of suburban development, the wine industry, the timber industry, and other agribusiness (not that the CDFW acknowledges the historic cause).
The drought is preventing the salmon from leaving for the ocean or swimming upstream to spawn as part of their annual reproductive migration. Most of the small creeks and streams flowing into the ocean along the coast are now sandbars that grow in the mouths of the rivers due to the aforementioned water impoundments and lack of snow runoff. Biologists have warned that this situation could be the tipping point that renders the coho extinct.
It’s not only salmon, of course. As journalist Dan Bacher noted in a piece at www.counterpunch.org last month, called “The Emptying of North California”:
“The Department of Fish and Wildlife’s fall midwater trawl surveys, initiated in 1967, the same year the State Water Project began exporting water from the [Sacramento-San Joaquin] Delta, document the steep decline of Delta fish species. They reveal that the population abundance of Delta smelt, striped bass, longfin smelt, threadfin shad and American shad declined 95.6%, 99.6%, 99.8%, 97.8%, 90.9%, respectively, between 1967 and 2013, according to Jennings. The 2013 abundance estimates for Sacramento splittail, a native minnow, were not released, but results from 2012 reveal that splittail abundance indices have dropped 98.5% from 1967 levels.”
In spite of the record drought, Governor Jerry Brown continues his plan to build two enormously destructive peripheral tunnels to divert Sacramento River water under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) and to expand the water-intensive oil extraction process of fracking (hydraulic fracturing) for oil and natural gas in California.
The Twin Tunnels, as they are called, would divert prodigious volumes of water from the Sacramento around the periphery of the San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta. They would hasten the extinction of Central Valley salmon and Delta fish populations, as well as imperil salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity River, the largest tributary of the Klamath River.
From there, the water would enter the largest network of water storage and transfer systems ever engineered: the State of California’s already-existing water infrastructure. This system of dams, reservoirs, power plants, pumping plants, canals, aqueducts, siphons, tunnels, gates, and other water control structures would convey the new influx of water from Northern to Central and Southern California, including San Francisco Bay Area water providers like Santa Clara Valley Water District.
A corollary scheme involves raising the Shasta Dam, already California’s seventh highest dam, by up to 18.5 feet. Doing so could theoretically increase water storage behind the dam by about 13 percent. The dam captures water from the Sacramento, McCloud, and Pit Rivers. It is the cornerstone of the Central Valley Project, which provides much of the water to irrigate the desert agricultural plantations I alluded to before.
Raising the dam would correspondingly expand the Shasta Reservoir, which would destroy the remaining stronghold of the McCloud River’s original people, the Winnemem Wintu. It would also flood thousands of acres of the Shasta-Trinity National Recreation Area, which includes the habitats of numerous important and special status wildlife species.
In a roundabout way (no pun intended), all of that brings us to our local drought poster child: Willits. The modest-sized inland Mendo municipality has experienced a wave of publicity across the past month, with hundreds of articles highlighting the tenuous state of the city’s water supply. Willits Mayor Holly Madrigal is rubbing elbows in Sacramento with high-ranking state officials. Willits received a major share of the focus of a secretive meeting between local, state, and federal officials in Ukiah last week.
Yet, the greatest water hogging project occurring in the Willits Valley, i.e., Little Lake Valley, the Caltrans Willits Bypass (a project moving forward primarily because it is a boon to the construction industry) is being systematically omitted from discussions regarding the town’s water use.
In Governor Jerry Brown’s “State of the State” address in which he declared a drought emergency in January, he highlighted wetlands restoration as a main priority for “mitigating” the drought’s impacts. The Willits Bypass is causing the largest wetlands destruction by acreage of any North California project since World War II. The Brown administration, California officials, the mass media, and Willits city officials are united in silently declaring that this destruction is unworthy of mention in the context of conversations concerning Willits and the drought.
Granted, Willits gets its water from reservoirs, not from groundwater, which is what wetlands destruction and freeway construction impact. But Willits is now in the process of hooking up its water system to groundwater sources as an emergency back-up due to the drought.
In response to local criticism, Caltrans spokesperson Phil Frisbie, Jr. has recently been touting the new Caltrans party line regarding the drought, including via a Facebook post: “Caltrans' Willits Bypass will not significantly impact the over 11 BILLION gallons of groundwater (by the most conservative estimate) available in the Little Lake Valley.”
But what matters most in discussions of groundwater aquifers is not so much aquifer supply as groundwater recharge. Aquifers recharge very slowly, usually at rates of 0.1 to 0.3% per year. Their primary recharge mechanism is wetlands.
If water draws from the aquifer exceed aquifer recharge, the groundwater table lowers. For example, the groundwater table in Chico dropped 15 feet from 1978 to 2011, according to Butte County records.
When the water table drops below streambeds, the result is what is referred to in regulatory jargon as a “losing stream.” In the early-90s, Outlet Creek (the headwaters of which are on the north end of Little Lake Valley) began recording precipitous drops in its stream gauge readings, even though rainfall stayed relatively high. If the groundwater is not fully recharging, the water table drops. If it gets below stream level, surface water disappears, with obvious implications for life in the streams.
In November, the State Water Resources Control Board sent Caltrans a violation notice warning Big Orange of a possible “cease and desist order” if the transportation agency didn’t get funding for its Willits Bypass mitigation plan in order. The Water Board’s goal, Executive Officer Matt St. John assured Caltrans, is to “help Caltrans succeed.”
Success in this case means the largest wetlands destruction in Northern California in a half-century. It also means implementing one of the most expensive environmental “mitigation” projects in recent memory, which may only cause further watershed harm. It means stripping trees and vegetation in a 150-foot-wide band from creek crossings across a six-mile stretch of Little Lake Valley, thus filling in and heating up these waterways. And it means drawing millions of gallons of waters from valley wells for dust control and compaction.
St. John’s statement is not so much an indictment of him as of the power dynamics governing our society in general. This system is set up to help those with superior wealth and power succeed. It is not, by contrast, set up to help anyone else succeed, least of all non-human species.
Outlet Creek, where Caltrans is destroying 89 acres of wetlands to construct the Willits Bypass, has been the longest remaining run for Central Coast Coho salmon until now. ¥¥
HUMCO OUTDOOR MARIJUANA PROPOSAL DESCRIBED AS DISCRIMINATORY
By Daniel Mintz
A county Planning Commission hearing on the county’s draft outdoor medical marijuana ordinance included a strong showing by Southern Humboldt residents who said a proposed parcel size limit discriminates against poor people.
The March 6 commission hearing was short on time due to the length of other agenda items but it was robustly attended by Southern Humboldt medical marijuana patients who lobbied against a growing ban on parcels sized less than a half-acre.
They also described the draft ordinance’s five-plant per parcel maximum grow limit as being too restrictive.
But opinion on how marijuana should be managed is culturally and geographically divided. Commissioner Susan Masten, the vice-chairman of the Yurok Tribal Council, said her tribe and the Hoopa Valley Tribe both have “zero tolerance” policies on marijuana – including medical marijuana.
Representing the Willow Creek Chamber of Commerce and elderly residents who weren’t able to be at the hearing, E.B. Duggan told commissioners that in his rural neighborhood, marijuana grows of 50 to 300 plants are prevalent and their smell is a serious nuisance.
“This is residential zoning,” he said of his neighborhood. “We’re not talking about great big parcels – we’re talking about parcels that are one acre to two-and-a-half acres in this area.”
The upper range of the draft ordinance’s parcel sizing is five acres. In addition to the size minimum and plant limit, it limits grow canopies to 50 square feet and sets 600-foot setbacks from schools, parks, Native American cultural sites and churches. Twenty-foot setbacks from neighboring property lines are required.
Redway resident and medical marijuana patient James Ficklin brought up two issues that would be talked about repeatedly. “A lot of these people are poor, who live in residential, small parcel areas – they don’t have access to agricultural land or large parcels,” he said.
Ficklin added that five plants “is pretty small” for a marijuana grow and “you’re pushing people indoors.”
The prospect of essentially forcing patients who live on small parcels to grow indoors disturbed several other speakers. Redway resident Lynn Harrington said she’s found marijuana to be a viable alternative to prescription narcotics and she believes the county’s parcel size restriction discriminates against low income residents.
“I have an extremely small yard – it’s much, much smaller than a half-acre and it will really affect me as it will affect most low income people in this area,” she said. “You can’t imagine how angry and frustrated poor people get when every right is taken away from them and handed to people who can come into this county and invest in 160 acres and get whatever they want.”
Other patients said they need to grow large amounts of medical marijuana because they juice it to consume its non-psychoactive cannabinoids. Many said the county should be encouraging outdoor growing instead of preventing it with the minimum parcel size.
Southern Humboldt-based attorney Ed Denson said the draft ordinance will have impacts that demand a California Environmental Quality Act review. Several speakers said public input needs to be enhanced.
With their meeting time lapsing, commissioners discussed a date for continuing the hearing. Future agendas will be packed and even special meetings will be hard to arrange due to upcoming review of the Housing Element.
Commissioners agreed to continue the hearing to their next meeting, on April 3 (not March 20 as previously mentioned). But time will be tight then as well – the agenda will include the permit renewal for Reggae on the River.
CALIFORNIA’S COMING MINIMUM WAGE RESTORATION
By Ralph Nader
If you haven’t yet heard of Ron Unz, you may soon. The conservative, successful software developer, theoretical physicist from Harvard and former publisher of the American Conservative magazine is launching a California initiative that asks voters in November to raise the state minimum wage to $12 per hour (it is now $8 an hour and is going to $9 an hour by July, 2014).
In commencing this effort, Mr. Unz is uniting conservatives and liberals in supporting this initiative and is hopeful that Silicon Valley billionaires or megabillionaires will help fund this citizens’ campaign.
If this sounds quixotic, put that reaction on hold. Mr. Unz’s mind seethes with logic. He believes that a left-right coalition behind a higher minimum wage makes perfect sense. Conservatives, he argues in many an article, would see a decline in taxpayer assistance to low-income people – food stamps, housing aid, Medicaid, etc. – if employers, not taxpayers, paid workers about what labor was paid in 1968, adjusted for inflation. And liberals have always believed in this social safety net on the grounds that workers earned it and that nobody, with or without children, working full time should be living in poverty.
Next month, my new book elaborates on the power of emerging left-right coalitions on many issues (Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State).
My 2009 book Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! (a work of political fiction) showed in realistic detail what a few very wealthy, enlightened people could do to build a democratic society and persuade Congress and others to advance numerous overdue improvements for workers, taxpayers and consumers.
So Ron Unz is in the vanguard of a re-alignment of American politics (Unz.com). He is ready to collect the signatures to get the minimum wage initiative on the ballot and passed (the polls are very favorable) by asking Silicon Valley’s fabulous wealthy to put up a few million dollars.
Here is an excerpt presenting his case in a paid adjustment that was printed in the Daily Post newspaper this week.
“Enacting a $12 per hour minimum wage in California would transform our low-wage society and allow our state to once again lead the nation.
The California cost of living is far above the national average, which is why we have the highest rate of poverty in America—worse than Mississippi, Alabama, or West Virginia. That’s why a minimum wage of $12 per hour is very reasonable for our state.
Adjusted for living costs, a $12 minimum wage is California is about $9.25 at the federal level. That’s less than what President Obama has proposed and what conservative Bill O’Reilly of Fox News has endorsed. But a $12 minimum wage would lift millions of Californians out of poverty.
$15 Billion per Year. That’s how much working families would gain if the California minimum wage were raised to $12 per hour.
American taxpayers would also save billions of dollars each year once those low-wage workers no longer require Food Stamps and other anti-poverty assistance from the government.”
Then comes his appeal to the super-rich:
“Would you like to change the world? An investment of less than $2 million today would get our initiative on the November ballot. It would raise the annual incomes of low-wage California workers by $15 billion starting in 2016. $2 million for $15 billion. That’s a better ratio than was achieved by the early backers of Apple, Google, or Facebook.
California law requires the identities of all donors to be disclosed. So the people of this state – and of the whole nation – will know who helped to raise the wages of California workers by $15 billion per year. They will know who acted to lift millions of California workers out of poverty and to take them off Food Stamps and other government programs funded by the taxpayer. That person could be you.
There is more information at www.HigherWages.org or contact me at Ron@HigherWages.org.”
My guess is that he will soon attract some big donors. Ron Unz has won state-wide initiatives before when no one gave him a chance. He believes this one is another winner. California is poised to make history.
Unfortunately, progress on raising the minimum wage in Congress has stalled. U.S. Senate majority leader, Harry Reid (D-NV) is having problems with some of his own Democrats (he has postponed the Senate vote on the $10.10 per hour minimum wage over three years) until next month.
Who do these Senators purport to represent on this basic issue of fairness for 30 million workers making less today than workers made in 1968, adjusted for inflation? They’re not representing these workers who clean up after them, produce and serve their food, take care of their ailing parents. They’re representing rich campaign contributors, the Walmarts, the McDonalds and the other big companies that employ two-thirds of hard-pressed low-income workers in this country.
With eighty percent of the American people, including a majority of Republicans, behind raising the minimum wage, it should not be too hard to move these Senators into the Yes column. Surround their Congressional offices with demonstrators from the thirty million Americans and their supporters. Flood them with e-mails, calls and letters demanding that they come back home for personal meetings with the voters to answer workers’ questions on the minimum wage.
These resisting or on-the-fence Senators are Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR), Senator Mark Udall (D-CO), Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO), Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Senator Tom Carper (D-DE).
Just show up people, and you’ll see these fluttering politicians running for cover and supporting justice for the people.
For more information, visit timeforaraise.org.
POLICE CALLS AS OF SATURDAY MORNING
Assault With A Deadly Weapon — Phillip M. McNally, 54, of Ukiah, was arrested at 10:40 a.m. Wednesday on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and booked at the county jail under $30,000 bail. The Ukiah Police Department arrested him.
DUI — Shane W. Jones, 31, of Loveland, Colo., was arrested at 4:45 p.m. Wednesday on suspicion of driving under the influence, public intoxication and possessing metal knuckles, and booked at the county jail. The UPD arrested him.
Battery With Injury, Abuse — Justin Phillip Timberlake, 30, of Ukiah, was arrested at 1:11 p.m. Thursday on suspicion of battery causing serious injury, elder or dependent adult abuse an violating a court order, and booked at the county jail under $30,000 bail. The MCSO arrested him.
Marijuana Sales — Lorraine K. Hunter, 60, of Ukiah, was arrested at 5:47 p.m. Wednesday on suspicion of possessing marijuana for sale and booked at the county jail under $50,000 bail. The MCSO arrested her.