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Mendocino County Today: Tuesday, April 15, 2014

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The occasion is a rare lunar eclipse. For those of you who aren't totally eclipsed yourselves at the midnight hour, tonight (Monday) the earth will step in between the moon and sun, blocking out a nearly full moon altogether. Next couple of years, we'll have three more of these rare astral movements.

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JUDGE BEHNKE refused last Thursday to move the murder trial of Kenneth Wilkinson, 24, out of Mendocino County. The judge rightly pointed out that there hadn't been much pre-trial publicity other than recitations of the horrifying known facts. Wilkinson, of Willits, and obviously of diminished capacity further diminished by drugs and alcohol, was briefly left in charge of his grandfather. Gramps, 84, was later found dead at the foot of an embankment where Wilkinson had apparently dragged the old guy behind his pick-up and threw him over the side. Jury selection began Monday. Paul Sequiera is the prosecutor, Linda Thompson is Wilkinson's public defender.  (Thompson doesn't talk to our reporter but, sniffle-snuff, we soldier on.) She planned to try to convince the jury that Wilkinson thought grandpa was already dead which, of course, begs all kinds of obvious questions, beginning with, “If you thought he was dead, why drag him anywhere, let alone six miles up into the hills before you threw him away?” This thing shouldn't be going to a jury. The defendant obviously doesn't have even half his marbles.


AND IT DIDN'T go to a jury. On Monday Wilkinson, 24, admitted killing his 84-year-old grandfather, Richard “Mel” Wilkinson, in March of 2012 by dragging the old man behind a pickup truck for approximately six miles along a winding mountain road before dumping the body off a hill into a ravine. Assistant District Attorney Paul Sequeira dropped the special circumstance of torture charged in the case. Had the special circumstance been found true by a jury, along with a guilty verdict for murder in the first degree, Wilkinson would have received a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Public Defender Linda Thompson had contended that Wilkinson believed his grandfather was already dead when he tied him to the back of the truck so the torture circumstance could not be proven.

SEQUIERA said the last-minute plea change was unexpected. “There is nothing new here from the prosecution perspective. The DA’s office has taken the same position for more than a year. We believed this was a case of premeditation and deliberation so we wanted a plea to first degree murder.  We were prepared to present the evidence to a jury and let a jury decide absent a first degree murder guilty plea." Sequeira said he had no doubt a jury would have returned a first degree murder conviction, but he said he was less certain about the torture allegation. “That may have been difficult for a jury because of the intent and wording special to that enhancement,” said Sequeira. As it is, Sequeira said, prosecutors succeeded in getting the first degree murder conviction that they had always sought and had discussed with the victim’s family. Public Defender Thompson until now had resisted the first degree plea, contending that Wilkinson was impaired by drugs and suffered mental issues at the time of the grandfather’s killing.

WILKINSON'S formal sentencing by Judge Behnke is scheduled for May 9. Although the matter has now been referred to the Adult Probation Department for a report and recommendation, the only sentencing choice will be a state prison commitment of 25 years to life.

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THE PALACE HOTEL saga just got dumber and more expensive for Ukiah taxpayers. Unhappy with the tortoise-like progress on the aged structure's rehab by owner Eladia Laines of San Rafael, Ukiah will petition the County's dependably compliant Superior Court to place the property in receivership, meaning another person will "take control of the property and undertake its rehabilitation." But Ms. Laines will remain the owner.


RECEIVERSHIP is kind of like removing authority from an incompetent family member. According to Ukiah City Attorney Rapport, who's driving the receivership bus, Laines could wind up with a rehabbed building that makes her money. And that would happen the same day pigs take flight. So the City plans to hire a receivership guy for $20,000 up front who makes economic magic happen. He, in theory, has access to the big money needed to bring the old hotel back to life, probably not as a hotel but as something that makes money in a gutted town whose economic life is now centered in big box stores and motels strung out along Highway 101 a mile east of downtown.

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IN OTHER NEWS from the bucolic but seething Anderson Valley, there's Navarro. Well, what about Navarro? Many of you already know, and it goes like this: It's as if The Valley were stood on its head, Yorkville being the head, Navarro the feet, and all our tweakers rolled downhill into Navarro where, contrary to some suspicions, they do not enjoy a sort of free fire drug zone. It's just that they're visible, highly visible because there are about 25 of them in one tiny place, and they periodically seem to materialize all at once like some kind of dystopian flash mob, alarming non-drug residents and passersby alike. It's not that they do anything other than present an unwholesome group visual, but several of them are constantly involved in low-level crime, a couple of them don't seem to know they're being sought for felonies, and everyone, including the cops, knows where the tweak is coming from. Days numbered? I'd bet on it.

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Aren’t a number of things obvious about the Ukraine situation? Such as: the Russians have a greater interest in preventing chaos there than the US has in any provisional disposition of the Ukrainian border and the composition of its government. Such as: for most of the 20th century Ukraine was essentially a Russian province, and at various times before that the ward of several other eastern European kingdoms. Such as: Russia has a huge investment in gas pipeline infrastructure in Ukraine upon which depends a substantial portion of its national income, not to mention the winter-time comfort of most of the countries in western Europe. Hence my plea: will parties in the USA (including Obama camp “progressives”) stop cheerleading for a showdown over this hapless doormat of a faraway nation whose destiny is not entwined with the people of Ohio, Nebraska, Rhode Island, or any of the other fifty states? We have enough to do in our own country to adjust to the new realities of the unraveling turbo-industrial global economy — and, by the way, we are not doing a damn thing to address any of it. Our domestic political conversation at all levels is juvenile and idiotic. I’d rather see US troops shut down WalMart, which has been way more destructive to the US economy (and the livelihoods of our people) than the bandits in any central Asian rat-hole. I’d rather see the US spend its dwindling capital restoring our passenger railroads than paying off the debts of strangers half a world away.

— James Kunstler

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The Mendocino County Youth Project is sad to announce that due to losing its core federal funding in the amount of $200,000 a year, the Transitional Living Program for Homeless Young Adults that it has been operating for ten years in Ukiah will be closing May 31, 2014.

This program has provided services to over 200 young adults and their young children who are homeless – living in cars, at the Buddy Eller Shelter, coach-surfing, or being kicked out by their parents.  The program has provided them with free shelter and support services to help them learn the skills necessary to live on their own and end what is usually a long cycle of homelessness, substance abuse, and child abuse.  Residents are provided with on-site case management to help them develop individual goals, such as money management or getting a job, and support groups on topics such as substance abuse.  They also receive on-site psychotherapy services.  A special focus of the program has been pregnant and parenting young adults.  This is the only program of its type in Mendocino County that serves young adults who are not in the foster care system.

The program currently has five residents and four children and an additional fourteen young adults on its waiting list.  All need help finding another place to live.  The Youth Project is also taking donations of money to continue the operations of the 2BU clothes closet for teen girls.  Volunteers to assist in operating the closet and donations to pay the rent are needed.

If you can help in any way, please contact Program Director Mary Tindall at 707-489-9819 or

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Little River, Calif. (April 14, 2014) - The Lodge at the Woods, an assisted living community owned and operated by Northern California Presbyterian Homes and Services (NCPHS), announced in early March that the community would be closing.  As of today, all of the 13 residents at The Lodge at the Woods have relocated to other assisted living communities or made personal arrangements with family members. "We provided each resident a transition assessment and care plan to make sure we found the right care community to fit each residents' individual needs," said Theresa Hart, Interim Director of Assisted Living at The Lodge at the Woods. "We want to thank the families of our residents for working with us during this transition.  What is great is the fact that several residents relocated together with friends or relatives at different assisted living communities in Mendocino and Sonoma Counties," she added. As required by California law, NCPHS submitted a closure plan to the Department of Social Services and the plan was approved on February 26, 2014. NCPHS will provide a severance package for the employees at The Lodge at the Woods.  "We have closed daily operations as of today," said David Berg, Senior Vice President for NCPHS. "We wanted to make sure no supplies and materials went to waste so we made donations to several local non-profit organizations," he added. For more information contract Ron Meritt at (480) 705-6623 x121 or  About NCPHS Northern California Presbyterian Homes and Services is dedicated to quality care and superior services provided for older adults.  NCPHS is a recognized leader in innovative housing services and programs for their communities.  NCPHS owns and operates a number of continuing care retirement communities, affordable housing residential communities, and community services in Northern California. For more information visit

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Local growers urge sustainable farming practices

by Jane Futcher

Kevin Jodrey, a dispensary consultant, cultivator and owner of Garberville Grass, told a standing-room only crowd of more than 100 people in Laytonville Sunday that cannabis will soon become a “trillion dollar” worldwide market.

That’s because marijuana, now classified as a Schedule 1 narcotic, will soon be legalized in California and beyond.

“As the business becomes tighter, more competitive, you must become more efficient,” said Jodrey, who told the audience that he completed his eleventh-grade year of high school in jail and “thrived” in the early days of the indoor pot market. He later enrolled in the agriculture program at Humboldt State University to prepare himself for what he foresaw as the cannabis explosion.

“The public is becoming more aware of what they are consuming . . . You can’t sell now what we used to sell in the day for $4,500 [a pound].”


All four panelists at a Cannabis Cultivation panel at the Long Valley Garden Club April 13 agreed that the biggest mistakes many growers make are overwatering their plants and overfeeding them with unsustainable, high-nitrogen commercial fertilizers such as bat guano and high-sugar amendments like molasses. Both practices can weaken a plant’s immune system and lead to fungus, mildew and other diseases that may destroy a grower’s crop.

“No matter what you put in, the plants only take up 15 percent,” said Rosebud Ireland, a master gardener and musician from Laytonville. “The rest ends up in the Eel River and in the water table.”

“Spraying sugar on plants is like showering kids with candy at Halloween,” Rosebud added.

Cannabis concentrates, particularly oils, are a burgeoning field, according to Rosebud, because they are successfully alleviating many medical symptoms, including epileptic seizures in children, symptoms of multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease and many types of cancer.

Kristin Nevedal, a “Humboldt homesteader” who helped produce “Northern California Farmers Guide: Best Management Practices” and is Founding Chair of the Emerald Growers’ Association, stressed the importance of conserving water as California’s drought continues.

Nevedal urged growers to create a water budget, which would include: putting overflow float valves on water tanks; using drip irrigation and checking drip lines for leaks regularly; watering twice a day but for shorter times, and planting directly into the ground instead of pots, which lose water to evaporation quickly. She also advised planting cover crops over the winter; growing fewer plants; improving plant soil with well tended, biodynamic compost; mulching; planting in July, and choosing strains that finish flowering in September and won’t need water through October.

Scott Ireland of Laytonville suggested that growers can create great soil by composting their “poop” or “humanure” with a compost toilet system, an ecologically responsible way to deal with human waste.

“The largest use of water in most households is toilet flushing,” said Scott, who recommended The Humanure Handbook by Jacob Jenkins.

All the panelists said legalization of cannabis in California will come in the next few years. In March, State Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-SF) introduced AB 1894, aimed at regulating the state’s medical cannabis program.

Nevedal said she is working with American Herbal Products Association and American Herbal Pharmacopoeia to ensure that legislators classify cannabis as a plant medicine for human consumption and not a pharmaceutical.

A pharmaceutical-only designation could send the price soaring, making pot products difficult for many patients to access and preventing legal recreational use of the herb.

“Patients who care about medical cannabis should pressure lawmakers to create sensible laws that protect patient access,” Nevedal said.

Jodrey told the audience that in Colorado, where marijuana use is now legal recreationally, a friend of his recently paid $600 for an ounce of cannabis.

“The medical patients in Colorado got shafted,” Jodrey said. “People get wiped out without their medicine.”

Willits City Councilmember Holly Madrigal, who is running for supervisor of Mendocino County’s Third District, attended the meeting because she says she wants to make sure that Mendocino County is on the “forefront of the legalization movement.”

“I think there's a real potential for job creation, including the production of really high quality medicine,” Madrigal said.

On May 11 at 4 p.m., the Cannabis Renaissance group will present biochemist Samantha Miller discussing cannabinoids. Jeffrey Hergenrather, M.D., president of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, will speak on medical practices June 15. A law enforcement panel is slated for July 13. Making medicine will be the topic on Aug. 10. All events are held at the Long Valley Garden Club, 375 Harwood Road, Laytonville. They are free and open to the public.

Jane Futcher, author of "Women Gone Wild," lives seven miles south of Laytonville.

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THE OFFICE of National Marine Sanctuaries is proposing to double the size of two sanctuaries off the Sonoma-Marin coast, extending their northern boundary from Bodega Bay to Point Arena for a total protected area of 2,771 square miles. Expanding the sanctuaries “would connect key geographic components of the Point Arena upwelling system,” the draft environmental impact statement said. The upwelling system provide essential nutrients to sea life. The expansion is also a giant step towards any possible offshore oil development. Public hearings on the proposed rule and the environmental document are scheduled for Point Arena on June 16, Gualala on June 17 and Bodega Bay on June 18.

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You say love is this, love is that:

Poplar tassels, willow tendrils

the wind and the rain comb,

tinkle and drip, tinkle and drip--

branches drifting apart. Hagh!

Love has not even visited this country.

— William Carlos Williams

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I, for one, never voted for Obama. I wanted to for a while, until May 2008. That’s when I read that Wall Street was contributing more to his campaign than either Sen. McCain, the Republican, or Sen. Clinton, the wife of the most finance-friendly President in American history (to that time) and the sitting Senator from New York. That told me right there, before the collapse of Finance was out in the open for most people, that the fix was in. My decision to vote 3rd party was confirmed in September 2008 when the collapse was in full display, and both candidates Obama and McCain promised, if elected to appoint the same Timothy Geithner as Secretary of the Treasury. When both candidates proudly proclaim they are in the pocket of Finance, the choices narrow a bit.

As for Ukraine and the rest. I really don’t see it as a feckless, heedless course of geopolitical bungling. I think to see it that way misses the true objective.

Seems to me our system requires infinite supplies of money, energy, resources, and markets. Of these, only money can be made infinite, and that only by making it abstract. The other necessary inputs have all been finite since the Finance system became truly global. Once the limits have been hit, there are no more continents to exploit, and everyone who has the money and a supply of electricity already has a refrigerator. After that point, the system turns inward on itself. That explains the labor arbitrage we’ve seen called “globalization,” and the rest. Of course this relies entirely on cheap, infinite energy, which we also don’t have.

It’s obvious that our Finance system won’t last much longer, so the question confronting the elites is complex. How to keep the system appearing to function as long as possible, to allow the maximum advantage, yet to prepare for what happens when the system tears itself apart due to its internal contradictions. To amass as much wealth as possible while the getting is good, but to convert that wealth quickly but quietly into forms that will retain value after the current abstract/fictitious wealth loses all its value.

It seems to me that the elites have latched onto what passes for Gray Eminences in our intellectually debased world; Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski. Following the playbook that Kubrick only slightly satirized in “Dr. Strangelove,” the elites have adopted the policy of surrounding Russia and China with fire. We also heap particularly brutal and bloody chaos on top of reserves of strategic resources (especially energy) and transshipment routes, as a way of keeping those assets in storage. Nobody can extract or use those assets without overwhelming force, which only the US is able to “project” on a global basis.

Maintaining the ascendant status of the US Petro-Dollar is very important in all of this, but the elites clearly see the end of that state of affairs. That’s very much a “playing for time” and “making hay while the sun still shines” tactic at this point, though in deadly earnest.

If you look at a good atlas with resources and political boundaries, you can see the logic of the strategy at a glance. The US has systematically recruited the most vicious, unreasonable, and unwilling-to-compromise factions in every country where there’s even the hint of a crack in the stability of the society, on the perimeter of Russia and China. This extends to the African nations where China has made huge investments in cooperative resource infrastructure ventures (Libya, Horn of Africa, southeastern Africa) as well.

It’s an apocalyptic scenario, in which “Mine-Shaft Gaps” are taken very seriously. Sure, it’s sold to the geographically and literally illiterate, innumerate American consuming public in all the usual flavors of bullshit. But none of this is for the actual benefit of the Cheez-Doodle crowd. Indeed, doubling down on Armageddon while bleeding the country white to maintain a huge global military hastens the Apocalypse, while putting our remaining carbon-fuel and financial assets to work right this minute on creating the infrastructure of a sustainable future would significantly soften the inevitable blow. Sure, we can’t replace the energy density of petroleum. But we could use what we have now to build the things we’ll need later, when it will be much harder to invest that energy from the sources that will remain. But instead, we’re burning that energy sending ships all over the place, tanks and planes etc.

This isn’t a crazy, deluded, ignorant strategy to keep “The American Way of Life” going as long as possible, though destined to fail. It’s a clear-eyed, realistic, and fundamentally evil strategy to push as many people as possible in front of the oncoming calamity, while allowing the elites to mine the rest of us of wealth and assets for them to prepare their own escape and survival mechanism, maintaining and enhancing their power over us in the system to come after this one completes its ongoing collapse. The laughable pronouncements of the pawns in the media are just a smokescreen, and a decreasingly effective one. The real elites don’t care if we believe it or not; things are fast approaching the point where they judge it won’t matter any more.

At least, that’s what it looks like to me. I’m no expert.


  1. Bill Pilgrim April 15, 2014

    …And that’s why funding for the Youth Project must be eliminated. We need that money to make sure the neo-nazis in Ukraine aren’t threatened by those pesky Russkies.

  2. Jim Armstrong April 15, 2014

    James Kuntzler’s piece is useful as always.

    Also as usual, I wonder if I should somehow know who wrote the “On-line Comment of the Day.”

    Your depiction of last night’s eclipse is curious.
    The moon moved into the earth’s shadow, the earth didn’t “step” in between the moon and the sun.
    And it was a strange time for the AVA to show caution: it would have been safe to leave out the “nearly” before full mooon.

  3. Bruce McEwen April 15, 2014

    Any truth to the rumor that Dave Evans is selling the Navarro Store? Is this to be the last summer of his great outdoor concerts?

  4. Jim Armstrong April 18, 2014

    I guess I asked too obliquely.
    Who wrote the “On line Comment of the Day?”

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