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Mendocino County Today: Monday, March 31, 2014

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MENDOCINO COUNTY LIBRARIAN RESIGNS (Press Release from County CEO Carmel Angelo): “Mendocino County Librarian Mindy Kittay has submitted her resignation to the County Board of Supervisors. Ms. Kittay is leaving for personal reasons and will be relocating out of the area. Ms. Kittay stated that she thoroughly enjoyed working with the County library staff and all of the wonderful volunteers, as well as the public.”

THAT’S EVEN LESS INFORMATION than we got when Ms. Angelo announced the abrupt departure of former County Counsel Tom Parker two months ago. Ms. Kittay didn’t even last for a year and a half, having been hired back in December of 2012 from a small library in Thornton, Colorado where she was not the librarian but the “Finance Director for the Anythink Library District, which was awarded the National Medal for Museum and Library Service in 2010.” When she was hired CEO Angelo declared, “Ms. Kittay earned her Masters in Library Science from the University of North Texas, and a BS in Business Administration from Regis University. She brings to Mendocino County a wealth of experience and creative ideas to serve the diverse needs and interests of our Mendocino County constituents. Ms. Kittay is known for her contribution in transforming a failing library system in Colorado into a library success story, which was the featured cover story for Library Journal and the LA Times.” Ms. Kittay was chosen from a “top field of candidates,” and “Mindy comes from a well respected and award winning library district known for its customer service and innovation.”

“I am delighted to join the Mendocino County community and am eager to explore the beauty of Mendocino County,” said Ms. Kittay. I look forward to developing community relationships to foster creativity and innovation in serving our patrons and leading our libraries into the 21st century.”

But not much past March of 2014 of that century.

THE NEXT DAY Ukiah Daily Journal reporter Tiffany Revelle provided some background to Ms. Kittay’s resignation.


Conflicts with Friends groups dogged her

by Tiffany Revelle

Mendocino County Library Director Mindy Kittay is resigning after a year and three months on the job, the Mendocino County Executive Office announced Friday.

Kittay submitted her resignation Thursday, two days after the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors reviewed her job performance in a closed-door meeting Tuesday.

At the time of her hire in November, 2013, the county executive office lauded her innovation in a "well-respected and award-winning library district" and contribution "transforming a failing library system in Colorado into a library success story" featured in Library Journal and the L.A. Times.

"I'm really going to miss her," said Ukiah branch manager Eliza Wingate. "She was brilliant.... She brought about more positive change than we've had in a long time. This place looks great, and she made it happen."

Wingate continued, "She had so much energy and ideas, and she actually worked in a quality library system, and that counts for something." Citing budget cuts that had put the financial responsibility for the library system largely in the hands of various friends groups throughout the county, Wingate said, "And we had forgotten. We were just in survival mode."

Kittay's March 25 performance evaluation was her third in five months. Such evaluations usually happen annually. She was evaluated Oct. 21, Dec. 16 and again in March. County Counsel Doug Losak said Friday that he couldn't comment on Kittay's departure because it's a personnel matter.

Ukiah City Councilman Benj Thomas, who has sat on the county's Library Advisory Board for the past eight years, said Kittay "didn't feel secure in her job" since she'd been under close scrutiny from the board. Thomas said he had received "a considerable amount of negative comment about Mindy, which I never felt represented a significant portion of the community or library users."

Thomas said he is "deeply sorry that it didn't work out for Mindy and the library and the county," and called her departure "a real setback for the library system."

"She ran into some real opposition from friend of the library groups," Thomas said. "What she was doing, in the opinions of many, was a brilliant job of moving the library in the direction of a 21st century library. Some did not like the changes she made, and had been very vocal about that, but her vision was excellent."

Kittay had vocally disagreed the Friends of the Ukiah Library's board of directors when it took a controversial vote in October to set aside $75,000 of its $115,000 budget to fund a new library building.

Kittay objected, saying there were no plans to build a new library, and wanted the Friends to instead use the money to meet the Ukiah branch's more immediate needs for books and materials, computers, staff training, a new meeting room and new carpeting.

The meeting was contentious, with board members claiming most of the set-aside money came from book sales the Friends had organized over 40 years. Some attendees argued that the community had contributed at those sales and other events to run the existing library, not to build a new one, because the only plans for a new building were informal and vague.

The debate around the October decision got so heated that two of a handful of audience members urged the board to put their emotions aside before voting. Several board members said their decades of membership entitled them to be emotional.

Kittay urged the board to instead launch a capital campaign and put aside $10,000 to seed fundraising efforts specifically for a new library building for the sake of transparency to the public. She urged the Friends to consider that roughly 70 percent of the Ukiah branch's books are upwards of 10 years old, and the computers are 10 years old and also in need of upgrading.

When some of the board members said the county of Mendocino should be responsible for some of the items on Kittay's list of needs, such as a meeting room and new carpeting and furniture, Kittay said the county's budget is tight and its Board of Supervisors doesn't plan to contribute more of its general fund.

Six out of 11 board members voted to set aside $75,000 for the new building. The October meeting followed another high-emotion meeting with the Ukiah Friends in September.

Kittay had also told the board that she was using 70 percent of the revenue from Measure A -- a one-eighth cent tax to support the county's library system -- to pay for staff time and benefits in order to extend hours for the public at the Ukiah branch.

Thomas said the measure's passage and influx of money at the advent of her time with Mendocino County was both an advantage and a burden.

"An advantage because there's more money to spend, and a burden because the expectations can get very high, and sometimes exceeded what could get done with that money in terms of staffing," he said.

He suspected Kittay also encountered conflict between Ukiah and outlying communities as she worked to centralize the county library system, making some of the outlying branches less autonomous.

"Certain jobs are better done, and more efficiently done, through a central organization, rather than through a dispersed one," he said.

Adding that the Library Advisory Board's concern is for the best interest of the entire county library system, Thomas said, "We had really high hopes for Mindy being able to stay in the position and bring about some of the changes that she wanted to. I hope her successor would have some of the same vision."

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HEADLINE OF THE WEEK from Sunday's Chron: “Donations might have swayed votes in Legislature.”

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RRFCD OVERSTEPPED: Last week’s meeting of the Russian River Flood Control District was an embarrassing display of what happens when the elected leaders of a public organization begin to lose perspective. Maybe it’s been the stress of a severe drought year, but the members of the District board who voted last week to issue a censure to fellow member Lee Howard overstepped the bounds of their elected mandates. The unacceptable thing Mr. Howard did, according to them, was go to Sacramento and start asking questions about whether it was going to be legal for the District to give [sell] water to Redwood Valley Water District, when that district has no water right and is not a flood control district customer. They seem to think his mere presence in Sacramento implied that the Board was behind the questions and they concluded that he had no right to do it. Howard had a perfect right to do it. Not only is it a good question to ask — since there are lots of flood control district customers being cut back who may also be wondering if it’s legal for the flood control district to give [sell] water to Redwood Valley — but it’s an issue that frankly needed airing. But more important, Mr. Howard made it clear everywhere he went in the state capitol that he was not representing the flood control district. People he talked to confirmed that publicly. The flood control District board members say they are only making it crystal clear that Mr. Howard’s views don’t reflect their views. But that is exactly what Mr. Howard was doing in Sacramento. So if that’s what they’re doing, then how is he wrong to do the same? So the only thing left to wonder is why the flood control district is made so uncomfortable by someone who is asking questions. That, we think, is really what this is about. The flood control District is used to simply deciding what to do and doing it. This is not about whether Redwood Valley needs and should get some water from somewhere. Everyone — including Mr. Howard — believes they should. The question is whether it is OK to do it in an informal way, tossing aside concerns from lots of others, not just Mr. Howard.

— K.C. Meadows, Editor, The Ukiah Daily Journal (Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)

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To The Editor:

Incredibly, Mendocino County Supervisors voted to allow people to hunt bears and bobcats with dogs. Four people showed up to support this. Steve Johnson spoke for himself, his mom and dad (and probably the Houndsmen for Conservation guy), saying: “I want to have my dogs. I want to hunt bears. It’s what I like to do.”

What could be more fun than terrorizing and killing animals?

No one showed up to oppose lifting the ban because: a) we didn’t know about it; and/or b) we gave the supervisors more credit than that.

Invoking the First Strike policy, Supervisor Carre Brown stated that allowing hunters with dogs to kill bears will reduce the number of bears that get into trouble and have to be killed. Supervisor John Pinches pointed out that “You’ve got to give people something to do.”

How about picking up trash beside the highways? Chasing each other around in Yogi Bear and Mr. Peabody costumes? Searching for yetis?

We’ve lived in the remote mountains of Mendocino County for 30 years. Have we ever had problems with “marauding wildlife”? No. Unless you count pot growers and drunk guys with guns driving around in Jeeps during hunting season.

CD Grant, Cloverdale

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KZYX, Give & Take, Host Michael Kisslinger, Thursday, March 27, 2014.
Kisslinger: "This is community radio. The answer, I'm very fond of telling people, is that the answer to getting better community radio is not to ask what the board of directors should do, or what the station management should do, but rather, in a paraphrase of John Kennedy, 'Ask not what your station can do, but what you can do for your station.'"

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THE HISTORIC Wilbur Hot Springs resort near the Lake-Colusa county line was mostly destroyed by fire Saturday morning. Owned and beautifully rehabbed by Dr. Richard Miller, a kind of new age therapist and audio woo-woo peddler for KZYX public radio, Philo, Wilbur Hot Springs began life as a respectable resort for city folks in 1863. In the 1960s, it was semi-abandoned and finally, under Miller's auspices, an upscale “clothing optional” consciousness repair shop featuring the hot springs along Sulphur Creek. Wilbur's archeo-psycho trajectory has been much like Harbin Hot Springs, which is in the same general area.

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“The major prob for the County is that it agreed to rezone property that was adjacent to sewer and water, except most of the County is on septic systems and most of the water districts are under moratoriums. And under current economic conditions, the County could rezone the entire County to allow Malvina Reynolds style “little boxes” and multi-family “big boxes” (housing, that is) everywhere and given the dismal state of the local economy not a single unit of low income housing would be built anywhere.”

On March 21, 2014, on KZYX guest local waste water reuse consultant Anna Birkas reported to the effect that Mendocino County is in the process of modifying its five-year Basin Plan with the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board.

Composting toilets are currently allowed in many part of rural Mendocino County, but septic greywater leach line systems of half size of traditional flush toilets are required, with allocation of suitable soil profile, for an additional leach field if the functioning one fails.

This leach field burden is one that the County placed upon itself by offering it as a component of the Basin Plan approved by Regional Water.

In the new proposed Basin Plan, the County is suggesting that a septic leach field would not be required with composting toilets.

In light of new state greywater regulations that went into effect January 1, 2014, County is proposing that in composting toilet households, greywater would flow in unrestricted one and one half inch piping directly into ‘mulch basins’ for subsurface bio-remediation percolation.

Many of the expensive alternative greywater systems permitted by the County in the past few years have failed because of inherent flawed design for the marginal soil environment that they were intended to mitigate.

Thus there is hope for low income housing in Mendocino County.

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Idling in an icy morning

and then the ride through

Hell's Canyon.

Dead Deer in the brown leaves

on the side of the road.

Vying for a place

on a two lane highway,

Cowgirls in monster trucks,

Methsters coming in from the East

Past the dried up lake.

Descending into the valley

past the billboards

"grab some buds"

Big old glass of red wine,

Where Ravens rule the parking lots

and another day begins as we

await the Gunman.

— Debra Snow, Ukiah

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Think the rent is too damn high? Well, it actually is. No matter where you live in the country, a new report says that no full-time worker making minimum wage can adequately afford a one-bedroom or two-bedroom rental at fair market rent.

Faced with that bleak fact, it makes perfect sense why President Obama and Congress have been making such a big push to raise the federal minimum wage.

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition's annual Out of Reach report, which uses census and median income data, an average American renter needs to make $18.92 an hour to pay the $984 fair market rent for a two-bedroom unit.

Fair market rent, which is set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is calculated with the idea that no more than 30 percent of your income goes to your rent -- not something a lot of us can do.

Below, the country's five priciest states for renters, along with what you’d need to make an hour in order to rent "safe and decent" two-bedroom units there:

1. Hawaii

 — Want a pad in the Aloha state? You’d need to make the highest hourly rate in the nation -- $31.54 an hour (fair market rent is $1,640). At least, there are breathtaking beaches and lush landscapes.

2. Washington, D.C.

 — You’ll need to earn $28.25 an hour for a place to rest your head after powwowing with politicos in the nation’s capitol. $1,469 should cover your rent in the District.

3. California

 — Want to call the land of celebrities and Silicon Valley home? For a $1,354 monthly rent in the Golden State, your hourly rate needs to be $26.04.

4. Maryland

 — For D.C.’s next-door neighbor, fair market rent for a two-bedroom is $1,297 so you’ll need to bank $24.94 an hour. (Reality check: Jumbo lump Maryland crabmeat is about $42 a pound. Ouch.)

5. New Jersey

 — It doesn’t matter what exit off the NJ Turnpike you live by, your salary better be at least $24.92 an hour in order to settle in the Garden State with a monthly rent of $1,296.

(Courtesy, the Huffington Post)

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I write this letter of condolence in the tradition of my forebears. With no edits. My apologies for any error or misunderstanding.

Donald P. Hahn arrived in my life in 1965. Unfortunately so. I had a passel of elderly relatives ready to die. In the little town of Mendocino. And no general practitioner to die with. Until Don came along. At age twelve, I figured him to be something of a Dr. Kervorkian. He shows up. People die. End of story.

Like my uncle Joe Mendosa. Father of Alvin. Son of Frank. The founder of Mendosa’s Grocery. My first job. Then my uncle Joe Fraser. Father of Jeanette. Husband of Alvin. My deer hunting role model. And finally, my maternal grandmother, Bertha Payne. My mother’s mother. The person I never liked. But should have.

My family would remember that year as “Stay alive in sixty-five”. I faulted Don for his ineptness. What kind of doctor would let so many people die? And so many of my relatives. I first met Don around 1967. As a junior varsity football candidate. I had an apparent heart murmur. So I figured I wasn’t playing football. I was just going to die. Don figured otherwise. So I played football instead. In 1970, the Mendocino High School football team took the first league pennant in a long time. I was an all-league player, thanks to Don. At the homecoming game in 1970, I was the defensive team captain. And I had the privilege of calling the coin toss at the beginning of the game. I called it wrong. But we still won. In spite of my heart murmur.

Don became somewhat of a legend after that. Becoming the first chairman of the Mendocino Historical Review Board. My surviving relatives hated that. This upstart. The nerve. And so on. My take was different. This was the doctor who’d given me a break. And maybe my entire school.

This is the way it was. I didn’t choose to play football. It was necessary. We had a small school. In a small league. If I didn’t play, we might not have a team. So I did. Thanks to Don. He wasn’t there for the coin toss. Or the glory when we took the pennant. But he was there for me. So I was there for him. On the historical review board.

One of its fiercest opponents was Jacques Helfer. A faux naturalist who opposed everything Don stood for. In a weekly column of the Mendocino Beacon titled “Jack’s Corner”. Needless to say, Jacques and I went at it hammer and tongue for many years of matters of historical significance. I went for fact. He went for drama. So when Mr. Helfer died, I eulogized him in a poem that Don might appreciate.

Jack’s body lies over the ocean.
Jack’s body lies over the sea,
But he no longer lies in the Beacon,
And that’s all that matters to me.

Knowing Don’s taste for limericks, I did one for Jacques as well:

Tea-totaling Helfer was brash,
When converting his chips into cash,
Twas ironic, I think,
That he veered toward the drink,
Ending Jacques on the rocks with a splash.

Not that Don would approve of these. Or that his family would either. The local paper didn’t. They never published them. These poems needed to be written. And they never would have, if not for Don.

Around 1990, there was a building development afoot. At the Mendocino Campground. A huge recreational complex. Lots of new buildings and roads. Within sight of the Historic District. At the time I was under contract to some Silicon Valley firms. Doing 3D modeling. But Don wanted me to take a look at this one. So I did. The result was a set of 3D models that went before the Mendocino County Planning Commission. They denied that application. As Commissioner Geraldine Rose later pointed out to me, it was because of the 3D model, inspired by Don. By the feeble football wannabe with a heart murmur. Me.

At the age of 60, I have many accolades to my credit. The most prominent of which is an award from the American Mensa Society for a simple board game. This wouldn’t have happened if not for Don and his treatment of me. I cannot comprehend the magnitude of your loss. I can only thank you for bringing Donald P. Hahn to my town.

Sincerely, Scott M. Peterson, Mendocino

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Here's a little string you might be interested in following:

The White Rose, a novel by B. Traven, author of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, "...concerns the efforts of an American oil company to purchase a Mexican ranch from its unwilling owner..."  -- Wikipedia.  This book was published in 1929.

Guantanamera, the popular song logged on top 40 charts in the U.S. by the Sandpipers, was written by Joseito Fernandez in Cuba in 1930.

The lyrics...

(chorus) Guantanamera, guajira Guantanamera (x2)
Yo soy un hombre sincero
De donde crecen las palmas (first two lines of each verse x2)
Y antes de morir me quiero
Echar mis versos del alma
Mi verso es de un verde claro
Y de un carmen encendido
Mi verso es un ciervo herido
Que busca en el monte amparo
Cultivo una rosa blanca
En julio como en enero
Para el amigo sincero
Que me da su mano franco
Por los pobres de la tierra
Quiero yo mi suerte echar
Y el arroyo de la sierra
Me complace mas que el mar

[Please excuse the absence of Spanish-style punctuations]

Close English translation...

I am a truthful man from the land of the palm trees
And before dying I want to share these poems of my soul
My poems are soft green. My poems are also flaming crimson.
My poems are like a wounded deer seeking refuge in the forest
I grow a white rose in July just as in January
For the honest friend who gives me his open hand
With the poor people of the earth I want to share my fate
The streams of the mountains please me more than the sea.

“Guajira” is apparently from the Caribe, meaning country folk, or hillbilly, still used that way in Cuba, Colombia, etc.  It's also the word for the musical three-chord structure in lots of tunes in Latin America. Contemporary Cubans still try to outdo each other improvising verses for these ditties. The gulag station at Gitmo's gotta figure big in there somewhere… I can knock out a couple three-chord numbers, myself.

The White Rose Society, the anti-nazi group of Munich students and other activists who arose in the thirties in Germany, are quoted as saying they took their name from this book of Traven's.  Quotes from that mostly-executed outfit are rapidly becoming more popular around the world today — as well they might be.

Cheers, Rick Weddle, Hawaii

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Praises DA Eyster at Cannabis Renaissance garden club event in Laytonville

by Jane Futcher


Criminal defense attorney Eugene (Ed) Denson untangled a complex web of marijuana laws at the Long Valley Garden Club in Laytonville March 9.

The Alderpoint lawyer’s presentation was the second the Cannabis Renaissance: Navigating Our Future, created by three garden club members — Jude Nagle, Jon Spitz and Patricia Kovner.

“We want to bring this very important discussion in all its ramifications to our community,” Nagle said. “After all, cannabis is the base of our local economy. During these rapidly changing times, with the threat or promise of legalization looming, there is a lot of vital information to keep up with.”

After decades of prohibition, including propaganda, misinformation, repression, and criminalization of the “sacred healing herb,” Nagle said it is time to come full circle “to celebrate and reclaim the amazing history of our co-evolution with this remarkable plant.”

Four master cannabis growers will be featured at the April 13 garden club program at 375 Harwood Road in Laytonville, 4 to 6 p.m. Kristin Nevedal, Founding Chair of the Emerald Growers’ Association, will share the podium with Scott Ireland, Rosebud Ireland and Kevin Jodrey.

“Marijuana law is really complicated,” said Denson, who hosts a KMUD radio show on cannabis. “It’s a huge mess. The federal law is simple — marijuana is illegal; there is no known medical use, and the only exceptions are the seven or eight people who have been getting marijuana since the 1970s . . . If you use marijuana in any way, under federal law, you’ll be a criminal. There is no way out of it.”

While California’s Proposition 215 makes legal the medical use of marijuana with a physician’s prescription, the law does not limit the amount of pot a patient can use and offers few specifics on how local jurisdictions should enforce the law. The result is more than a few anomalies, contradictions and hard to predict legal situations, according to Denson.

State law, for example, permits the medical use of cannabis concentrates such as hashish and oil. A 215 grower or patient may legally possess dozens of pounds of the leaf used to make concentrates but can be prosecuted for possessing under an ounce of bud.

“If you have a 215, you are probably not going to be convicted for that,” Denson said. “A pound is not much, at least up here in the garden counties. The key is that you can have what you need. To prove what you need you can rely on the county guidelines (half a pound in Mendocino, three pounds in Humboldt) or what your doctor writes on your 215.”

Denson said in an e-mail following his talk that he’s seen prescriptions ranging from six pounds to seventy-five, depending on a patient’s medical issues and the method used to ingest the medicine.

“You can try just telling the cops you need ten pounds or whatever,” he added. “In that case, you’ll probably get arrested, but if you can make a believable and reasonable case for needing what you have, you’ll get off.”

Another gray area, he said, is selling medical marijuana.

Growers with medical prescriptions can only cultivate cannabis for medical use to sell to patients with whom they are “associated.” Patient associations, usually called collectives or co-ops, can sell to their members and can add new members at the time and place of sale. But the law doesn’t allow individual growers to do that. For an individual to sell marijuana legally the grower and patient are required to “associate” prior to cultivation. Many 215 growers, he said, join associations with dispensaries so they can sell what they grow in excess of their own personal needs to the dispensary. The dispensary can then sell to other members of the association.

Selling to non-patients is illegal, unless the non-patient is the primary caregiver of a patient and is buying on behalf of that patient. The California Supreme Court ruled that a primary caregiver is one who assumes responsibility for the health, safety or housing of the patient and does that prior to buying cannabis for the patient. The primary caregiver can grow the pot for the patient and also get reimbursed for the costs of doing so. But a relationship between two people based entirely on one supplying marijuana to the other does not make the supplier the primary caregiver.

Transporting pot is also a very tricky legal matter, Denson said. “You can have a year’s worth of marijuana at home, but that doesn’t mean you can take it to Safeway.”

The attorney’s advice on crossing state lines with marijuana was unequivocal. “Don’t,” he said. “It gets you into more federal trouble — it’s interstate commerce.”

Denson advised all growers to be “environmentally cautious.” He noted that law enforcement officials and California Fish and Game wardens are on the lookout for diesel spills and illegal water diversion and usage.

Despite increased environmental awareness, the entire justice system is operating under such a serious financial strain that it cannot effectively carry out its duties, according to Denson. Local courts are so crowded that cases are backing up. County sheriffs do not have enough deputies for adequate enforcement, and the district attorney does not have enough deputy DAs to prosecute the many cases that come in.

Denson noted that the transfer of state prisoners into the county jail system means that non-violent jail prisoners are taking up cells that are needed for more serious criminals. Creating more space means early releases and pressure on the courts and the district attorney not to send non-violent defendants to jail.

Denson praised Mendocino County DA for recognizing when he took office that the county courts had become clogged with a large number of marijuana prosecutions, many of which were so poorly investigated they could not be won. Given a jury pool that was not inclined to convict people on marijuana charges, even the best of the cases failed.

“These prosecutions were a waste of time, energy and resources,” Denson said.

“When David Eyster came in he completely changed the county's approach to marijuana cases, opting not to prosecute weak cases. Eyster made settlements in the others that involved plea-bargains for probation with little or no jail time but high financial inputs to the county in the form of paying retroactive zip-tie fees and restitution of investigation costs instead.

“The net result is very quick resolution of marijuana cases, at low cost to the county, with perhaps several million dollars gained through the fees and restitution. The DA has gone to trial on just one marijuana case in four years. He won it. His office wins eighty-five to ninety percent of all its trials. By contrast other counties have pursued plea deals less favorable to defendants, with more emphasis on jail and less on fines and reimbursements. Eyster has brought money into the county where the other counties conduct the same types of cases at a loss.”

When reached for comment, Eyster said he would “quibble slightly” with Denson’s terminology but said the defense attorney’s statements were accurate.

“His use of ‘retroactive zip tie fees’ is his way, I think, of describing my restitution program, pursuant to California Health and Safety Code section 11470.2,” Eyster said. “We don't use that phrase. The amount of restitution generated for local law enforcement was a little more than $3.5 million in my first three years. During the 2013 calendar year, the Sheriff received restitution of approximately $1.6 million. But my way of doing business isn't just about the restitution.

“It is about educating first time offenders about what is legal and what will get them in trouble again in the future. It is about the huge hidden savings in court time that is not being consumed by marijuana cases; officers not sitting around the courthouse waiting to testify on marijuana cases; our not loading up the jail with law breakers versus criminals, and other ‘hidden’ advantages. When I took office, the average marijuana case with formal charges filed hung around an average of 15 months. I have that average for marijuana cases with formal charges filed now down to 90 days. What we do it is different from anywhere else, but it seems to be working well for us. Law enforcement likes it; the defense attorneys like it; the defendants tolerate it, and the courts appreciate my expediting things without offending the interests of justice.”

As to the possible legalization of cannabis in California, defense attorney Denson would not speculate. He’s got all he can handle keeping up with laws already on the books.

“Alan Ginsberg told me in 1969 that marijuana would be legal in a year,” he mused.

Future Long Valley Garden Club Cannabis Renaissance programs: Cannabis Cultivation Panel, April 13th; Biochemist Samantha Miller on Cannabinoids, May 11; Jeffrey Hergenrather, M.D., president of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, on medical practice, June 15; Law Enforcement Panel, July 13; Making Medicine Panel, August 10; Navigating California’s Legalization Propositions Panel, Sept. 14. All events are at the Long Valley Garden Club, 375 Harwood Road, Laytonville, 4 to 6 p.m. Donations appreciated.

(Jane Futcher is the author of a Women Gone Wild, a memoir about moving to Mendocino County.)

* * *


by Dan Bacher

Senator Dianne Feinstein and six San Joaquin Valley Congressmen on March 27 sent a letter to Interior Secretary Jewell and Commerce Secretary Pritzker requesting more Delta water for San Joaquin Valley corporate agribusiness interests, claiming that water exports wouldn’t harm endangered Central Valley Chinook salmon, Delta smelt and other fish species.

“We are writing to urge you to immediately evaluate the operating criteria that govern the Central Valley Project (CVP) and the State Water Project (SWP) so that actions can be taken as soon as possible to capture the maximum amount of water from this week’s storm in California,” said Feinstein and Representatives Ken Calvert, Jim Costa, Jeff Denham, Kevin McCarthy, Devin Nunes and David Valadao.

The Senator and Congressmen described the impact of the drought on Valley agribusiness – and the supposedly "minimal" impact exporting water to state and federal water contractors would have on fish.

They claimed there was “minimal endangered fish incidental take," including:

• Adult Delta smelt – 0 out of 155 allowed

• Juvenile Delta smelt – 0 out of 1,007 allowed

• Winter Run Salmon – 276 out of 24,237 allowed (1.1%)

• Spring Run Salmon – 0 taken based on various levels of concern and

• Steelhead – 148 out of 3,000 allowed (4.9%)

“These numbers show that existing protections for endangered fish are more than adequate. On the other hand, our constituents’ farms and communities are facing potential devastation. From our view, it is apparent that there is a significant imbalance of regulatory burdens,” they said.

They also cited the two storm systems that National Weather Service said will be passing through California this week, saying it could the “last chance” to provide water to the Valley water contractors.

“Based on historical weather patterns, these storms could be our last chance this year to receive, capture, and move a sizable amount of water to those farms and communities that desperately need it for public health and safety and for their livelihoods that are under severe threat,” they noted.

“Biological opinions issued by your Departments regulate the amount of water that can be exported from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in order to protect endangered fish. However, based on the data we cited above, there is clearly no imminent threat to any of the key protected fish species that is attributable to water pumping operations,” they concluded.

You can read the complete letter at:

Restore the Delta: Letter is "disappointing" and "astounding"

Restore the Delta (RTD), opponents of Governor Jerry Brown’s Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels, said Senator Feinstein and U.S. House Representatives' letter seeking more water for Westlands' and Kern Water Districts' “mega-growers” in the midst of a severe drought was “disappointing” and “astounding.”

"It is disappointing that Senator Feinstein has chosen to thrust political pressure into a severe drought situation that has, and will continue to have, enormous impacts on salmon and other fisheries, including endangered salmon runs spawning and trying to migrate downstream,” said RTD Executive Director Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla. “It is astounding that these politicians would contend that ‘there is clearly no imminent threat to any of the key protected fish species that is attributable to water pumping operations.’”

“It is well-known that the increased water diversions, especially in March, are particularly devastating to salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, smelt and other fish, many of which have become endangered as a result of the pumping," she said. "Most of the water from these storms is being stored in empty reservoirs. What extra water is flowing into the Delta from side creeks and streams needs to remain not only for water quality but to assist this ecosystem being devastated by the drought a chance to survive."

"The impacts of the drought will be felt on our native species for many years to come. We can get by without almonds for a couple of years. It is disappointing that Senator Feinstein is not standing up for the economic engine of the San Francisco Bay Delta Estuary, its water quality and native species that serve not only California’s economic engine but Oregon and Washington as well,” said Barrigan-Parrilla.

“Instead of calling for every available bucket of water to be shipped immediately to unsustainable industrial agriculture, these politicians should instead be pursuing water demand reduction actions, plus reinforcement of Delta levees, improvement of south Delta fish screens and salvage operations, elimination of harmful water transfers through the Delta, and numerous fish protections, preclude the need for the BDCP twin tunnels,” she concluded.

Caleen Audrey Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, summed up Feinstein's subservience to agribusiness: "Mega Ag Corporations and Senator Feinstein are one and the same...they think there is endless water to put in the desert!"

Feinstein and the Representatives' letter was preceded by a similar letter by San Joaquin Exchange Contractors to Interior and Commerce asking that the conditions of the biological opinions protecting Central Valley salmon and smelt be loosened to allow greater Delta diversions. (

Fishing and environmental groups slam agribusiness letter

A coalition of fishing industry and environmental groups quickly issued a press release responding to this letter stating, "A group of wealthy agribusiness interests in the San Joaquin Valley urged Secretaries Jewell and Pritzker to risk the extinction of California’s remaining critically endangered salmon runs by increasing pumping in the Delta to maximum levels over the next few weeks, during the peak of the salmon migration through the Delta."

“In a nutshell, the government is being asked to risk our valuable native salmon stocks and sacrifice thousands of sustainable fishing jobs and the economies of fishing communities all for a small group of wealthy water profiteers,” said Zeke Grader, of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations (PCFFA), which represents working fishing men and women. “That is unconscionable.” (

The latest attempt by agribusiness, Feinstein and Representatives Ken Calvert, Jim Costa, Jeff Denham, Kevin McCarthy, Devin Nunes and David Valadao to increase water pumping out of the Delta during a drought takes place as the Brown and Obama administrations are fast-tracking a twin tunnel plan that will make prospects for salmon survival even worse than they are now.

Governor Jerry Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels will hasten the extinction of Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species, as well as imperil the salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.

The so-called "habitat restoration" proposed under the widely-opposed plan will take vast tracts of Delta farmland, some of the most fertile soil on the planet, out of agricultural production in order to continue irrigating mega-farms located on toxic, drainage-impaired land on the west side of the Joaquin Valley. The water destined for the proposed tunnels will also be used by the oil industry for steam injection and fracking operations to extract oil from Monterey Shale deposits in Kern County.

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  1. Paul Lambert March 31, 2014

    This morning, the AVA quoted me paraphrasing JFK’s ask not speech about KZYX, but attributed the comment, apparently to mock the speaker, to Michael Kisslinger; it should have been me.

    And I stand by the quote.

  2. John Sakowicz March 31, 2014

    I hope the Mendocino County Grand Jury is looking into why Mendocino County Librarian, Mindy Kittay, may have resigned.

  3. Bill Pilgrim March 31, 2014

    Ask not what KZYX can do for you.
    They’re too busy doing for themselves.

  4. Rick Weddle March 31, 2014

    re: Russian River Flood Control District…
    Are the directors always referred to as the Water Board, or is this just a cruel and unusual coincidence?

  5. Mark Scaramella March 31, 2014

    The “water board” usually means the State Water Resources Control Board.

    • Rick Weddle April 1, 2014

      Oh, yes. Thank you. I just lately noticed the familiar ring. How could one confuse the behavior of an elected group of public servants with the furtive secret police-style tango of kidnapping, torture, false imprisonment, and so forth? I know, one involves snagging a victim without anything like authority, sneaking up from their blindside, stripping them of every Right and dignity, wrapping their heads in fossil-chemical film, and stressing them until they feel like they’re drowning; the other is, um…wait…

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