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Mendocino County Today: Wednesday, March 12, 2014

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THE LODGE AT THE WOODS, an assisted living community owned and operated by Northern California Presbyterian Homes and Services (NCPHS) has announced it will soon be closing. The Lodge compound in the hills above Little River is home to a large number of persons, not all of them elderly and disabled. The facility's directors say they have suffered "significant financial losses every year and it is no longer viable to keep the Lodge at the Woods open." The exact closing date has yet to be determined is expected by mid to late May.

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HENDY WOODS plans to close its campground the weekend of May 3rd. The highly popular Boonville Beer Fest also occurs the weekend of May 3rd. Hendy's administrator, Loren Rex, says last year's Beer Fest campers got wayyyyy out of hand, or at least some of them did, and Hendy doesn't want a repeat performance. The annual celebration is certainly well-managed on the Boonville end, even to the provision of a bus to ferry campers back and forth from Hendy. It seems arbitrary in the extreme for State Parks to pre-emptively assume they'll again have trouble policing obnoxious drunks, and how can State Parks close a public park in anticipation of undesirable patrons? Locals are hoping that an agreement to keep the state park open can be reached well before the event. I mean really, the issue here wouldn't seem insurmountable.

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NOTING that the Press Democrat is looking for civic-minded persons to sit on their volunteer editorial board, I shot off my bona fides to Paul Gullixson of that fine publication. "Dear Mr. Guillixson: Please consider me for the vacant position on your oversight board. As a 50-year resident of the Northcoast, journalist, married father of three, senior citizen, Giants-Niners-Warriors fan, garage saler with Art Volkerts' late-sister, huge admirer of Doug Bosco, lunch buddy of Mike Geniella, dazzled devotee of Pete Golis's think pieces, and long-time confidant of Gaye LeBaron, I feel I am uniquely qualified for the position. Whatever consideration etc.....Very best, Bruce Anderson, Boonville."

GULLIXSON soon replied: "Thank you for your information and your interest in this position. I'll pass your nomination on to the other Editorial Board members. We expect to make a decision shortly. Hope all is well with you, Best, Paul."

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"The problem with a notion of equality or social justice that's rooted in the perspectives of multiculturalism and diversity is that from those perspectives you can have a society that's perfectly just if less than 1 percent of the population controls 95 percent of the stuff, so long as that one percent is half women and 12 percent black, and 12 percent Latino and whatever the appropriate numbers are gay." (Adolph Reed Jr.)

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ON MARCH 10, 2014 at about 3pm Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office contacted two men at the Patriot gas station, 310 S. Main St, Willits. Adrien Sotomayor, 27, of Yucaipa, California and thirty year-old John Theis, of San Jacinto, C. told the Deputies they were returning from a trip to Humboldt County. When Sheriff's Dispatch advised that one of the men was on parole (and therefore subject to search), the Deputies searched the rental car and discovered two black duffle bags in the trunk. Inside the duffle bags were 21 one-pound plastic bags of high-quality bud marijuana. Both men were arrested for possession of marijuana for sale and transportation of marijuana. Theis was held on $50,000 bond. Sotomayor was held without bail on a parole hold. (Sheriff’s Press Release)

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i will wade out

 till my thighs are steeped in burning flowers

I will take the sun in my mouth

and leap into the ripe air


 with closed eyes

to dash against darkness

 in the sleeping curves of my body

Shall enter fingers of smooth mastery

with chasteness of sea-girls

 Will i complete the mystery

 of my flesh

I will rise

 After a thousand years



 And set my teeth in the silver of the moon

— e.e. cummings

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Top Ten Poems

 “Cut” Sylvia Plath

“A Biography for the Use of Birds”

An Ecuadoran poet whose name (shame on me) I’ve forgotten, although I can recite most of the poem by heart, even after having seen it only once (in translation) about 35 years ago. ( Jorge Carrera Andrade — ms)

 “On The Blue Shore of Silence” Pablo Neruda

“The Right Madness on Skye” Richard Hugo

“Spring Is Like A Perhaps Hand” e.e. cummings

“The Jabberwocky” Lewis Carroll

“Yo Ho Ho & A Barrel of Rum”

Can’t remember the poet, but read it the first time in the frontispiece to Trader Vic’s Book of Food and Drink, a signed first edition my grandma Lula leant me. Wikipedia: "Dead Man's Chest" (also known as Fifteen Men On The Dead Man's Chest or Derelict) is a fictional sea song, originally from Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Treasure Island (1883). It was expanded in a poem, titled Derelict by Young E. Allison, published in the Louisville Courier-Journal in 1891. It has since been used in many later works of art in various forms.

 “The Ride” Heinrich Heine

“Terrence, This Is Stupid Stuff” A.E. Houseman

“You Can Have It” Philip Levine

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ASSEMBLY BILL 2205 allows the individual counties of the state to decide whether or not to ban the use of hunting dogs to pursue bear and bobcats. Mendocino County's supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to support the bill to allow dogs. The Humane Society wanted to ban the use of dogs, but no one from the Humane Society showed up at the meeting to speak against the bill, while several people appeared to speak for it.

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THE DAMON GARDNER CASE AND ME. I noticed in the February 12th edition of the AVA's "Off the Record" section (actually the on the record since it is printed and distributed), the latest in the Damon Gardner case. Gardner, a former deputy DA in Mendocino County, was not found guilty earlier this month of wounding a man during a bar room scuffle in Sacramento. Oh yes, a misdemeanor indeed. Why should a drunken gun toting District Attorney not be able to get into a street brawl when he wants to and shoot somebody over a girl? Why shouldn't he be able to illegally use his concealed weapon while intoxicated just like everyone else? Actually, it is illegal for him to carry a weapon while drunk and not on duty. Why should he be subject to the same draconian laws such as the 10 year, 20 year, life law? He would surely push for such a law if any regular sap was involved in the same situation, and if he was trying the case. This reminds me of the case of the son of one of Arnold Schwarzenegger cronies who was involved in a murder a few years back. It was a case with all the earmarks of a first degree murder but all the kids involved only received manslaughter charges and 16 year prison time. The specific politician's son had his sentence reduced to 7 years by the Governor. Although he did not actually commit the murder, anyone who knows California law should know that a person who is a bystander (and friend) of the killer is just as culpable under the Felony Murder Law as the murderer himself. When asked, the Governor stated (I paraphrase) "the kids were drunk and angry". That's why he thought the kids deserve a break, not the fact that the kids was the son of his political buddy. He blithely ignored the trial record where friends quoted the kid as saying "don't worry, my dad will get us off". They then got rid of the murder weapons and burned their clothing by the river. Hmm — nothing suspicious there? Being drunk sure didn't help in my case when I was confronted by a man brandishing a shotgun. In fact, the DA was so politically motivated to prosecute that they charged me with two murder counts for only one homicide, in direct violation of the Fifth Amendment's ban upon double jeopardy. Since I'm from the wrong side of the tracks and was neither a deputy DA nor a politician's son, I guess I deserved the two life sentences I received. Oh, yes, the justice system corrected itself back in 1993 and now I'm only serving a single sentence of life without the possibility of parole. Maybe its only another example of "Just Us" instead of "Justice". —Just another incarcerated inmate, name withheld.

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by Sheila Dawn Tracy

A standing room only crowd of over 50 people filled the Fort Bragg Redwood Senior Center's second largest room on March 3rd for the KZYX Board of Directors' meeting. Long gone are the quiet days when the Board lamented the lack of public interest in its meetings. If three or more people showed, it was a surprise.

The scarcity of on air timely announcements of meeting dates has given way to the General Manager, John Coate's, recent practice of sending group emails to urge attendance "of reasonable people" including the invitation to a local newspaper as was acknowledged in Frank Hartzell's report in last week's Mendocino Beacon.

Historically, an audience of 20 or more has only reliably materialized when unpopular changes are made suddenly to favorite programs such as local news or more recently, Open Lines - a listener based discussion in all areas of interest. The meeting was also videotaped by Terry Vaughn and can be seen at as well as on the station's website.

Another new development was the online publishing of the Board's agenda — a first in the station's 24 year history. The Board stated it would now be available 3 days before each meeting.

The first order of business was the approval of minutes from the October 2013 meeting. Board Chair, Eliane Herring was noticeably nervous and distracted.

A status report was given.

The Winter pledge drive brought in 49K. The station is reducing the number of pledge drives to three — a Spring drive in mid May and a Fall drive in mid October.

An update of the newly formed Community Advisory Board (CAB) was provided. Board member, Stuart Campbell, introduced three of the six members present in the audience who were roundly applauded for their voluntary service. Special attention was directed to the two questions formulated by the CAB which appear on the back of the green election ballot.

Herring then announced the names of the candidates running for the three open seats in this year's election.

Four candidates are vying for the At-Large seat - a position that is not restricted by residence requirements. They are: Paul Lambert; Doug McKenty; Tom Melcher and King Collins

Two candidates are contesting the District 3 inland (Willits) seat: Jane Futcher & Patricia Kovner

The District 4 coastal seat currently held by Board member, Meg Courtney is unopposed.

All the At-Large candidates were present at the meeting and were introduced by the Board Chair.

A more in depth look at the candidate's statements will be explored in the Election section of this article.

Under the agenda item, Matters from the Board, four minutes was allotted to each Board member to address the actions of fellow Board member, John Sakowicz. The statements of the eight Board members ranged from severe censure to more moderate expressions of disapproval.

The Board was particularly incensed by Sakowicz's written complaint to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in regard to the station's (KZYX) license renewal which is currently on hold. Among the allegations filed in the complaint were serious issues of management interference in Board elections, exclusionary practices toward former programmers, unnecessary obfuscation of financial documents by the General Manager and failure to advertise job openings at the station.

Member Bob Page's condescending tone brought to mind an image of a stern father upbraiding his wayward offspring for bad behavior. He said Sakowicz's complaint was based on misinformation, hearsay and inappropriate slurs against the General Manager and lumped the efforts of others who have advocated for peaceful change into the same ball of hot wax in which Sakowicz now finds himself. While stating that the Board tries to listen to reasonable requests and does not believe in the philosophy of "our way or the highway", Page concluded his remarks by saying,"Perhaps you 100 Members for Change should start your own Mendocino station - call it KMUD South, have the AVA as your first underwriter, make McKenty your GM... to channel your energy in a positive direction for once. He went on in an unpleasant tone, to warn his imagined adversaries that as long as he was on the Board and beyond, he would stand behind the hardworking manager, staff, programmers and volunteers.

Not exactly a warm fuzzy blanket to wrap around differing strategies for going forward as a community radio station.

Member Meg Courtney spoke next to address "some very disturbing occurrences at the station in the past few months." She described some of the time spent dealing with Board matters as counterproductive and demoralizing in that she found herself "having to respond to angry emails with false accusations and trying to mediate with people who seem intent on attacking the station no matter what the facts and/or the reality." She continued "that to the best of her knowledge, the Board and GM are trying to do their best to listen to and address the issues that are brought to them." She described the accomplishments of the GM in improving the station's infrastructure and financial situation and asked for the respect of those who are unhappy with the station and for a willingness to work with rather than against the Board and management.

She then turned her attention to Sakowicz to say, in a chilling voice, that she was dumbfounded by his behavior as a Board member. She read through a list of Board responsibilities stating that Sakowicz had violated at least eight of them. The one that provoked the most rancor was his alleged failure to keep the confidentiality of internal Board memos.

I couldn't help but notice that she skipped over the responsibility that stated "missing three consecutive meetings shall be cause for dismissal" which might have embarrassed both the Bd. member who missed considerably more consecutive meetings and the entire Board who chose to look the other way. (Sakowicz has perfect attendance.)

Member Fran Koliner, who has served on the Board for six years, made some thoughtful remarks that displayed none of the antagonism of the previous Board members. She admitted the station did have problems with communicating with its members — that Board meetings were not a suitable format for discussion adding,"Folks need to be acknowledged and know that their communication is heard." She hoped that the CAB would facilitate a better process.

Koliner acknowledged the station's Strategic Plan was sadly out of date and stressed the need to work together. She said the Board stood behind the GM because of his hard work and his improvement of the station's website among many other contributions.

She chastised Sakowicz for not bringing his issues to the Board for discussion instead of going directly to the public. She hoped the Board could look forward to working as a unified team.

Member Holly Madrigal noted that she had found a lot of public support for the station. She said the "aggression" the station was experiencing was a distraction from the real work of the Board — increasing membership as well as transparency. She included developing a Strategic Plan for the station as an important goal.

Madrigal referred to Sakowicz's inflammatory remarks toward the station's recent hire of news person, Sheri Quinn, pointing out the inaccuracy of his claim to the FCC that they were best friends when, in fact, they had met only once. She found this to be an unfortunate case of public bullying. She closed by reading Sakowicz's campaign statement from the previous year in which he stated he fully supported KZYX's management which she interpreted as the reason he was elected by the members — a vote she felt that should be taken seriously.

Board Chair Elaine Herring then took the floor. She emphasized the duty of Board members as trustees of the station. She, however, stated in the next breath, "As directors of a PRIVATE concern, a 501 (c)3 corporation (which appears to be a direct contradiction of terms) we cannot abdicate or ignore these duties." She continued, "We are cheerleaders and good will ambassadors, never public critics or detractors. There is the duty of loyalty, to be faithful to the organization. The law also imposes the duty of confidentiality because we are in a position of power and trust. To work productively as a team , we need to show that we are trustworthy and discreet — able to air our concerns privately." She accused Sakowicz of a breach of fiduciary duty in engaging in a campaign to impugn the reputation of the 'Executive Director' which she believed to "be fueled by personal animus." Finally, she asked him to act in a way that is appropriate to a Board member so that the Board could move forward in an atmosphere of trust and respect.

Programmer representative, Stuart Campbell, who has taken on most of the heavy lifting of Board responsibilities in the last six months as Election Coordinator and organizer of the CAB, described his reaction to Sakowicz's FCC complaint as surprised, shocked and dismayed. He told him he disagreed with his strategy and intent. Campbell felt that, although he disagreed with the disruptive behavior, a way had to be found to make room for all voices, dissident or not, as part of the Mission Statement. Although new to Mendocino County, in speaking with a variety of people, he felt that dissidence was a part of the station's history, a statement that evoked laughter and tangibly lightened the heavy atmosphere of the room. He said he didn't believe in the fantasy that if one could just get rid of all the dissident voices, everything would be great. He thought that was an impossible scenario and encouraged communication in the community in who we are.

Member Ed Keller said he thought very highly of Sackowicz professionally as a programmer but had reservations about supporting him as a Board member because of his negative manner and tone. He felt so much of the friction could have been avoided if Sakowicz had come to the Board with his concerns instead of going public with them. He believed Sakowicz had much to offer and hoped he could take the views of fellow members to heart.

The last Board member to speak, Laviva Dakirs, talked about the polarization of the labeling that occurred at the station. She asked that preconceptions based on individual personalities be separated from the ideas or issues. She asked for an end to derogatory name calling as immature and unnecessary behavior that served no ones interest.

Sakowicz Responds

Sakowicz told a piece of his past ancestral Polish history to make the point that his reason for filing the FCC complaint came from a place of deep conscience.

He told the Board that he had been trained as a public trustee by Mendocino County and understood the job and his responsibilities. He noted that he was also the only one on the Board that carried fiduciary insurance.

He gave the Board specifics of the reasons for the charges filed with the FCC mentioned above and in a published article in last week's AVA. He said, most important of his reasons was the suspension of Open Lines — an open forum for public comment. He told of his experience of taking on the Bd. of Supervisors for rules that restricted public comment and his success in having that rule changed. He said he is a free speech advocate and believed that Open Lines should be restored to the airwaves immediately.

General Manager's Report

Curiously, with the attention of a large audience at hand, John Coate elected not to go into the details of his report as he has done in past meetings. He spoke about how each pledge drives' income would be used to pay down various upcoming bills. $7,500 of the income just received would go to pay the rent on the 91.5 transmitter and with 42K in funds from the CPB grant expected in March, Coate expected to pay a large NPR programming bill.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) has changed the way they calculate its grant, rewarding stations with a listenership of a sizeable ethnic diversity. This will mean less money in the next fiscal year.

Financial Summary for January 31st 2014: Compared to this time last year, total income is over 50 K less, donations are 26K less but expenses are down as well by 13K. Net gain is 67+K compared to last year's 107+K.

Total Accounts Payable: 45+K compared to last years 71+K.

Accounts receivable (pledges and underwriting) Up 19 K from last year — 40+ K this year; 31+K last year.

 Checking account balance: 56+K; last year 23+K So the bottom line is slightly better this year.


The new main control console was installed in January. Besides a mixing board, it is also an audio processor that improves the fidelity compared to the previous console. It was more difficult and more expensive to install (16K) than expected due to many layers of old wiring. The new console requires training of each programmer as it has differences from the previous console.

Two problems have been occurring to the station's signals — short "dropouts" where the signal goes out for a half second and problems on the 91.5 signal where sound distorts in a peculiar way. These are likely to be two separate issues. If it is faulty equipment, the station cannot easily swap a back up part into service because back ups aren't available for every component. It could also be increased interference from growing trees between the Philo studio and the tower on Cold Springs Mountain. Another possibility is radio equipment broadcasting at frequencies close to the STL frequency that bleed over to interfere.

The production studio — studio B continues to be upgraded so it can be used both as a recording facility and a back up live studio. Rewiring has been done so that if Studio A fails, a few pushed buttons on the FM processor will bring Studio B on air.

The station has acquired and installed a delay system. It is being tested and will soon be put into service.

A new Events Calendar has been added to the website which replaces the old PSA system. The advantages are that it is much easier to enter an event as well as find events due to a number of search options.


Sheri Quinn and Micheal Kisslinger are the new team for local news which has changed to a ten minute format. Both are independent contractors as was Paul Lambert who retired in December. Sheri has twelve years experience in producing and reporting radio news and public affairs. Kisslinger is a local resident of Ukiah and host of Give And Take on Thursday mornings.

Programs hosts on hiatus:

  • Sherry Glaser-Love — Our House Tues. 2-4 P.M.
  • DJ Ackshawn — New Slang Sat 1-3 P.M. New & Returning Programs
  • DJ Selector J — Sweet Smoke 10- midnight, Wednesdays
  • Dr. Richard Miller — Mind, Body,Health & Politics Returns in April Tues. 9 A.M.
  • Open Lines returns in April with multiple hosts
  • Joel Cohen — Music without Borders Tues. 10 A.M.
  • DJ Ryano now substitutes for Diane Hering — Songs in the Key of Twang Sat. 1- 3 P.M.

Future Projects

  • Re-arranging the signal to originate in Ukiah with the first link to Laughlin Ridge north of Redwood Valley. Setting up a Ukiah studio to accommodate inland programmers and guests.
  • Move the AV studio to Boonville to be closer to the phone building.
  • Put a booster or translator on Cow Mt. to strengthen signal to Lake County Also put a booster on the south coast to better reach Gualala & Sea Ranch
  • Increase local news As money allows to gather and report more local news.
  • Buy BBC again - possibly Prairie Home Companion — Expensive programming but can do it if we can consistently pay for it.
  • Better training for programmers — There is a need for quality training and good trainers to do the job.

Elections Candidates

At-Large seat:

Doug McKenty — Lives in Elk. Former Bd. member 2010-13 & host of Open Lines program for 7 years. In favor of having more work done by the Board through a committee system and programming decisions be more inclusive of membership and listener input.

Paul Lambert — Lives in Willits. Former station news contractor for 18 months and host of Mendo Matters public affairs program. Would like to see more volunteers in program creation.

Tom Melcher — relocated from Vermont in the past year. Journalist, author, songwriter, meditation trainer. Believes his listening skills and neutrality would help the station better communicate with all diverse viewpoints.

King Collins — Lives in Redwood Valley. Former electrician, currently an author and historian. Strongly believes in the responsibility of Board members to have open lines of communication with members and listeners. Advocates a monthly on air talk show for Bd. members to keep listeners informed of station business.

District 3 Candidates:

Patricia Kovner — Lives north of Laytonville in an owner built, off grid home. A retired physician's assistant who strongly supports a full local news program with adequate staff training and local recruitment. An advocate for greater community participation in programming decisions.

Jane Futcher — Lives south of Willits. Past Board member from 2005-8. Former journalist for a Bay Area newspaper — author of 5 books. Involved in creating a revenue steam from large donors while a Bd. member. Was on the Bd. that hired the current General Manager.

Deadline for the return of ballots -March 31st.

Public Comment

Though the meeting was three hours long, many people stayed to give comments to the Board.

Dr. Michael Brown offered to be on an ad hoc committee to try to increase membership between pledge drives.

Programmer Tim Gregory thought the kzyxtalk list serve was a good innovative way to have discussions about the station between meetings. He also recommended the station consider setting up a Facebook page to increase interest in the station.

Former programmer, Toni Orans used to read childrens stories on air and thought the station was not filling the niche for a younger audience.

Ellen Saxe praised the quality of John Sakowicz show, All about Money. She was especially impressed with the guests on a recent show about water.

Doug McKenty praised the Board for the opportunity to hear the viewpoints of individual Bd. members. With the number of Bd. meetings reduced to four a year, he would like the Bd. to return to the use of committees to get work done between meetings.

Dr Richard Miller thanked Stuart Campbell for his statement regarding inclusiveness of all views. He felt that outside entities should not have to be resorted to in trying to solve the station's problems.

Mindy Cairn believed bullying and threats should not be tolerated by the Board or management. She also stated people should show respect by not speaking longer than their allotted time.

Toni Rizzo, co host of Corporations for Democracy stated that the station is much improved through the hard work of staff and management. She corrected the notion that Open Lines had been cancelled, stating that it had been suspended until the bleep machine was initiated. She also believed its suspension was not a free speech issue.

Ann Rennacker, of Ocean Protection Coalition spoke of her displeasure at hearing ads for natural gas promoting the practice of fracking which she strongly opposed and felt it was inappropriate to have that type of ad so closely aligned to the environment show she enjoyed listening to. She said letters both she and her group had written had received no response. David Steffen, the underwriting manager, responded that the ads she heard were a part of the national programming package and the station had no control over that advertising.

Malcolm MacDonald said he had been a guest of a late night talk show and found the host afraid that the show might get her in trouble with the Program Director. He said he wrote for the AVA and that the paper shouldn't be such a whipping boy for members of the Board and for members of the audience.

Mary Aigner responded that there was no censorship of content at the station.

King Collins presented the Board with a wooden box that had 'talk to the members' written on it. The box contained a large uncut crystal that Collins said represented the members of the station. He passed around a petition that called for a Board talk show once a month on air in which listeners could call and talk with Board members.

My comment to the Board was to thank them for making positive changes in publishing their agenda, acknowledging the Simple Living Membership rate of $25 and having a private way to communicate with them on the website. I questioned why the General Manager did not abide by a court ruling requiring the breakdown of employee salaries in the annual budget report. I also spoke of the management decision to withhold the membership list from members who wish to contact members regarding station issues which is a right stated in the Bylaws. Management's offer to do the mail out at our expense would cost the members a prohibitive amount.

Others spoke but time and space prevent the inclusion of all comments.

The Board held a long discussion of the list of the 22 Board responsibilities, asking Sakowicz for his opinion on several, in particular, the one requiring confidentiality. When asked if he would agree to sign the list, Sakowicz felt many of them to be unenforceable and wanted to have his lawyer review them before committing himself. The Board also discussed whether incoming candidates should be asked to agree to them as well. It was decided that they were to be used as a guide for appropriate behavior until a later date when it might be put on the agenda as an action item. Bob Page agreed to review them to see if modifications were warranted.

The last item of Board business was the establishment of improved meeting protocols. After a discussion of how public comment was handled in other types of public meetings, Madrigal suggested that a second public comment be added to allow the public to comment on action items on the Board agenda. The Board agreed and a three minute limit on the second comment period was decided upon.

The next meeting of the Board will be the Annual Membership meeting to be held in Ukiah. Location and date will be announced on air and through the station's website,

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by Fred Gardner

By the time you read this, Sanjay Gupta, MD, will have “doubled down” on his assertion that marijuana is safe and effective medicine. (Gupta’s second documentary on the subject aired on CNN Tuesday evening, March 11.)

Last summer Gupta narrated a show that provided dramatic examples of Cannabis exerting beneficial effects. Most memorable was the return to health of a five-year old in Colorado Springs, Charlotte Figi, afflicted with Dravet Syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy.

Charlotte's parents told Gupta how her condition worsened as every conventional treatment failed. She was having hundreds of seizures a day and the doctors were considering inducing a coma to save her life. Her dad, a Special Forces soldier deployed to Afghanistan, researched epilepsy treatments on the web and learned about CBD. Desperate, the Figis bought $800 worth of CBD-rich Cannabis at a dispensary and a friend helped them extract the medicine for under-the-tongue application. Charlotte's seizures went down to one a week and and she began recovering!

A Colorado grower named Joel Stanley and his brothers supplied the Figis with Cannabis tincture made from plants with a CBD-to-THC ratio greater than 20-to-1, and renamed their strain "Charlotte's Web"0 — CW, for short. Other parents of kids with severe epilepsy began contacting the Stanley Bros. with urgent requests for CBD-rich medicine. The brothers created a non-profit called the Realm of Caring Foundation to facilitate distribution. Charlotte’s mom, Paige Figi, has been working for RoC as a volunteer.

"To date there are 179 children and 27 adults on CW," according to Heather Jackson, RoC's executive director. "There are 345 patients in the Realm of Caring program," she adds, "so about one-third use other strains for their symptoms and diagnoses like cancer, ALS, pain, etc. The Realm of Caring does not charge for their services."

Desperate parents have been moving to Colorado to expedite access to CBD-rich Cannabis for their kids. In many states, politicians and activist parents are pushing legislation to legalize CBD (while maintaining the prohibition of THC). The Stanley brothers have testified in support of CBD-only bills in Florida, Alabama, Kentucky, Nebraska, Utah, New York, California, Georgia, Oklahoma, Maryland, Vermont, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Illinois.

CBD, in case you’re just joining us, is a medically useful component of Cannabis that, unlike THC, does not induce euphoria or anxiety. Journalist/organizer Martin Lee notes that CBD is “frequently discussed in the press as ‘the medicinal part’ of the plant” —as if THC and other compounds in Cannabis had no medicinal effects.

The CBD-only bills tend to undermine support for broader legalization measures, Lee says. “Politicians find CBD so much safer to support. The Stanleys are doing something good in getting medicine to people in great need. But activists in Kentucky and Minnesota and maybe a half dozen other states think the CBD-only approach deflated support for more comprehensive, scientifically sound bills that had a chance of passing.”

There is a strong possibility that some amount of THC may be beneficial for certain patients dealing with certain symptoms. If this is the case, it can and will be determined by physicians and patients in the days to come.

Bonni Goldstein, MD, flew into San Jose Feb. 23 to address some 120 serious, devoted, desperate, courageous parents on the subject of "CBD and Pediatric Epilepsy." Goldstein, 40-something, is the medical director of Canna-Centers, a chain of clinics. She could be Bette Midler's body double (or vice versa). The seminar was held at the Embassy Suites hotel in Milpitas, and was organized by Realm of Caring California. Many of the parents who came to hear Goldstein are on a waiting list to get oil made from RoC plants being grown by Ray Mirzabegian, who also spoke.

In a seizure, Goldstein explained, “Excitation predominates over inhibition. The cannabinoids act to suppress the excitation. Conventional anti-epilepsy drugs augment or enhance the inhibitory process or oppose the excitatory process… Endocannabinoid dysfunction leads to loss of inhibition, which leads to increased excitation…

There is a debate on whether to use THC in children,” Goldstein said. “For me it's a case-by-case decision. If you're nervous about THC, you can get CBD that has very low levels of THC. For some patients THC does help them control their seizures. For some children I take care of, THC gives them better sleep at night. When you use CBD and THC together, you can use more THC.”

Ray Mirzabegian is the father of a 10-year-old Dravet syndrome patient named Emily. Lat year he was provided by the Stanleys with Charlotte’s Web seeds and authorized to launch Realm of Caring California. Mirzabegian is now growing out CW plants and arranging to distribute the CBD-rich oil that will be extracted from them. Many in the Milpitas audience were on his waiting list for oil.

Mirzabegian seemed, to your correspondent, completely sincere and likable. He is 40, grew up and lives in the Los Angeles area; speaks almost perfect English with an Armenian accent. Transcribing his talk from a tape, I hear the singsong of infants in strollers and the occasional moan of a teenager in a wheelchair. The audience was utterly rapt. Excerpts follow:

…Because of her uncontrolled seizures —despite numerous medications and a ton of other treatments that failed— about a year and a half ago after I watched the Stanley Brothers in a documentary [“American Weed” on the National Geographic Channel.] I traveled to Colorado several times... And I was able to obtain Charlotte's Web for my daughter first and then for everybody else because it would not be fair to just do it for myself.

About a year ago I went into an agreement with Realm of Caring Foundation to start growing plants here and offering oil to patients in California who needed it. It took about three months to realize how severely California needed this medicine. The waiting list right now is about 400 plus patients. Mostly pediatric patients but also patients with other severe problems.

I haven't really advertised it —just word of mouth and Facebook groups. I'm working very hard to establish what is required legally and to do it 100 percent in a legal way and to learn how to do it right. I don't come from a background of growing. I'm a professor. Was. Concluded my career about a month ago. I used to teach opticians in college for 20 years. But it took about a year or so to learn the science of growing this plant the right way —meaning to make sure that it's organic, that it's clean, that there's no pesticide, molds, anything else. To make sure that it's a quality product, because after all, I'm going to give it to my daughter…

I wanted this oil because my daughter was having many, many seizures. She had tried 13 medications that did not work. The ketogenic diet [an anti-seizure diet low-in-carbs, high-in-fats] worked for about six months and then seizures slowly started coming back. About a year after the diet my wife and I sat down and said that she has absolutely no quality of life. She was depressed because she couldn't eat anything at school or at home. We could have tweaked it more but we thought it's not really working. So we decided to stop the ketogenic diet and sure enough my daughter’s seizures came back.

At a very well known epilepsy center in Southern California they casually pulled us aside and said "There's really nothing else we can do for you guys, we suggest that you go home and enjoy your daughter as best you can." So we went home very disappointed and upset. We saw about eight or nine neurologists after that until we found one at UCLA who was willing to sit down and listen to us and communicate and have a conversation. Our neurologist is very supportive of the parent's right to try something like CBD, especially since we've tried everything else. I talk to him frequently and he's interested in the feedback about the patients, about my daughter.

He's also supporting me in tapering the medications because they're not working and all were getting is negative side effects. If the medication is helping, I can understand putting up with the side effects. But if there's no seizure control... For instance, speech fluency: on Depakote it was like someone pushed the mute button on her. She's speaking more and more ever since we started CBD and were able to take her off the medicine. (Applause)

I went to Colorado asking for this and came back empty handed because its illegal to transfer. I was home and my daughter was having a seizure and I was so upset and so angry because there is something that might help my daughter! I started looking throughout California dispensaries. I purchased bottles and bottles of stuff. I didn't know that you could test it, so I just tried it on my daughter. Honestly, nothing worked. I was seeing Charlotte's story on CNN and I went back to Colorado and I came back and said I'm going to start a waiting list and a Facebook group to show these guys that there's a demand for this product. I emailed one of the Stanley brothers and he answered the next day. Then I went to Colorado. He said "We get about a thousand emails every week and we forward them to the foundation but I decided to answer yours, I don't know why, and here you are."

I brought back a limited quantity of seeds. So I had to grow and grow and grow and clone and clone and clone and clone because I had 400 patients waiting for it. I have a feeling that number is going grow after the second documentary on CNN with Dr. Sanjay Gupta in a few weeks.

Shows pictures of growing plants. The leaf of Charlotte's Web appears to be streaked with yellow —variegated in color— which is sometimes caused by a virus.

It’s a beautiful plant. Very different from everything else that I've seen. It's a very fragile plant. It requires a lot of love and singing and taking care of.

That's what we're doing. Every single one of these plants has a patient's name on it. So if you're on the waiting list and I have your recommendation, your child's name is on one of these plants... We want to do this whole thing legally so we're creating a collective and resource center so I can have all of you as my patients and we'll do it as legally as possible in California... California Laws are extremely tough and limited. I am allowed to grow 99 plants in a facility —and that's all I'm doing, because I'm not planning on going to jail for years and years. But that makes it very tough to meet the demand and forces us to have several facilities to meet the demand.

The cost of doing everything is much higher in California, but whatever it is, who cares? We're going to do this the right way. We're going to offer this at wholesale prices. Not like everybody else —or most people. There are some good collectives in California who are trying to do some good things, and I support them. But there are also a lot of people who are trying to cash in on the CBD rush and they're looking for desperate parents like us. They're charging a whole bunch of money for God knows what they're giving you. We're not trying to do that. We're trying to keep it as low cost as possible for everybody. I'm going to try everything I can to keep it lower that anybody else. I didn't get into this because of the business factor. I got into this because of my daughter.

Emily is almost medication free now. Applause At times she's been on four different meds and on those she's had several seizures a week. She's now eating everything on her own, socializing, running, jumping you name it. And since tapering off the last Benzo medication she's on Clozapine and it's just done so much damage. Even when we're tapering this medication she's averaging one seizure every 10 days.

I'm hopeful that once we're completely off the meds, that the right dose of CBD, the right ratio, I hope she can have the success of Charlotte and Zaki and everyone else who is seizure- and medication-free. There are a couple of things wrong with my daughter. One was the the grand epilepsy that was diagnosed, but the side effects of the medications were even worse. She was so much worse when she was on these medications. Obviously less seizures, but also less side effects of the medications.

I talk about this with my — her — neurologist. We send each other articles and research. We communicate. I finally found a good one who listens, who researches. And I suggest you do the same. And I suggest that you do not touch this medication unless you have that doctor who is supporting you. Because, man, these withdrawals can be crazy and they're scary sometimes. But if you have the right doctor to guide you through it, you understand that it's okay what you're going through, and that it will pass. And you can call the doctor and ask, "Should I go to the hospital or not?" We haven't been to any hospital for three years now. There are a lot of success stories out there. Not just from Realm of Caring but every company that's offering marijuana as a medicine. It's a one-on-one personal thing. Some people do okay, some people do great, some people need more time to find the right dose.

And that's something that we all need to understand. We have to have discussions within our groups —What times of day? how many milliliters? Before or after meals?… All of that stuff. Try and try and document everything. One of the biggest things that helped her was at 4:30 in the morning we gave her half a milligram of CBD while she was sleeping. And that was such a big change in her. It almost completely stopped her seizures that happened in the early morning. These are the things you have to understand. You have to try it. You have to give it time. You have to document everything

If you have a good neurologist, if you have a good doctor like Doctor Goldstein who is always available for patients, if you have this team and this support system, give it time and it will work. It's not that one magic pill... Sometimes it could even be worse. Because it affects medication levels. It affects the way the brain functions. So, don't be afraid, just document everything and talk to the doctor and give it a real shot. Once you give it a real shot you can decide if it's working or not.

There's a lot of discussion going on about THCA and THC. Some will do great on it. Some will do great on CBD only. It's so hard for me to tell all 400 people to just hang in there and wait. I wish there was something I could do to make these plants grow faster — and there is, but I'm not going to do it. Becaise I want to grow organically, no extra hormones or... (Applause.)

So, we're almost there. If all goes well, I should have three harvests in 2014. And between those three harvests I'm hoping everybody will get their medicine. (Applause.) We're almost there, hang in there. When it's ready I'll call you or I'll email you.

We're also traveling around talking to a lot of council members and authorities. We're not just trying to grow this plant and sell it. The point is not business and to make money. If I wanted to sell it at a much higher rate then I'd make a ton of money in a year and I'd close shop and I'd be good to go. But I'm not going to do that. I don't want to do that. I want to use every single one of our success stories and I want to present in front of counties, authorities, media, I want us to have a voice.

For about nine years I traveled all over the place looking for medicine — I went to France, I went to Germany to buy medicine, I tried every FDA approved medication. Most of you have done the same thing. Now that I've found something that helps my daughter, I need her to have a voice. I need to talk to them. I need everyone to know about it. We need to write. We need to tell the authorities. I don't have to be afraid anymore.

About a year ago Child Services knocked on my door with two LAPD officers at 10:30 in the evening. That was one of the worst days of our lives. My wife was shaking. The school nurse thought we were neglecting because we were tapering medications. We don't have to take stuff like this. We already have so much to deal with. Those are some of the reasons that I'm so vocal. Because I'm up to it.

That's what Realm of Caring is doing. Those guys in Colorado are traveling all across the country talking to the counties and I'm doing that in California. Realm of Caring is gathering data, gathering data on people who are seeing results. How much ratio, when did they take it, what times — and I'm going to do that in California.

I want all California patients to gather data. All California patients who are going to be on the oil. It's going to be kept private… One of the key things that's missing is real patient data.

Or, if you're not seeing results, what and why? If you're part of a group of Facebook or in the Realm of Caring group there are a lot of children who are doing so much better than they were before they were on this medicine. We're talking about THC and CBD, but we're talking about Cannabis as an option.

I want to clarify something: I'm not here to say that Charlotte's Web is the only medicine that works. I've never said that. On the contrary, there are a lot of great plants out there. There are some companies that are doing good things and I'm supporting them. I've sent many patients to companies that are trying to do it the right way. If you find something that works, ACDC is a great strain. But make sure that it's grown the right way and that it's stable and clean. Charlotte's Web and ACDC are both 20 to 1 (CBD to THC), and if that helps, wonderful...

There are more companies coming up in 2014 and I'm happy about that. I wish more companies would come up and pay attention to our children. I and my brothers cannot take care of the entire state of California. So we will support each other and work alongside each other. I will be very happy if that happens.

Charlotte is doing great. She went from hundreds of seizures a week to almost no seizures and is medication-free. Zaki I just met in Colorado. He's doing great. You wouldn't know that he comes from a past of seizures and problems. He talks, communicates, runs. We were sitting there talking about football and some of the players and I thought if my daughter gets there… it was such an inspiration. Zaki has been seizure free for over a year, a year and three months I think. My daughter is happy and active and doing much better than she was on all those medications.

It's a work in progress. I can't wait till this is ready and I can give it to all these children and have all of your succeess stories. That will be the best day of my life. And it's coming soon.

We're opening a resource center and collective in Los Angeles. It will be called Realm of Caring Health Center. It's a collective because legally I have to form one to grow for you. I'm trying to build this place to be different…

If you have a recommendation, please send it to us so we can be protected. Will be offering different varieties at the resource center. There should be choices and one will hopefully work for you.

The Colorado guys are going around the country trying to get the right to grow it. Someday there won't be any waiting list. 

One Comment

  1. james marmon March 12, 2014

    On John Sakowicz and KZYX’s Board of Directors. A good example of “groupthink.” Mr. Sakowicz exposed the “team” and their faulty decision making. Unfortunately the “team” will now have to destroy his reputation for speaking out. Thank you Mr. Sakowicz for standing up for what is right, and good luck to you.

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