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Mendocino County Today: Thursday, April 24, 2014

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AURAL ASSAULT, TAKE 9. This one started at 2am this morning. We got it eight straight mornings last month.

Imagine the Blue Angels flying over your house for six non-stop hours beginning at 2am. Or the Daytona 500 roaring past your front door in the middle of the night. That's what happened to us in the Anderson Valley last night.

The unholy racket comes from gargantuan propellers that warm the vineyards a degree or two. They kick off automatically when it gets close to freezing. The things are posted in many of Anderson Valley's 80 or so vineyards, posted the length of the valley almost as if by design to create a maximum noise nuisance for the maximum number of valley residents. And they all go off at once between midnight and 2am and stay on until an hour after the sun rises.

Their purpose is to protect the grapes from frost. They apparently kick up enough warming wind to keep the pinot buds from freezing. And they make a racket which has to be heard to be believed. In my neighborhood, we triply believe because we have these propellers — the size that push ocean liners through the turbid seas — on three sides of us. Jet engines are quieter. The take-off runway at SFO is as silent as the heart of Borneo by comparison.

Water used to be used for frost protection, and even knowing that water was draining the Anderson Valley watershed when all the sprinklers were spraying at dawn on a frigid morning it was a splendid sight. We might be killing the fish forever but it was beautiful. There's nothing beautiful about noise at 4am.

But there isn't enough water this growing season to protect vines by water because we're in a drought. But there are more and more vineyards, and more and more straws in Anderson Valley's streams. And more and more of these giant noisemakers.

MOST OF THE PROPELLERS are new either this year or within the last few years. They are, in other words, a freshly introduced nuisance. The County's Right-To-Farm ordinance says farmers can't introduce new nuisances and nearby residents must live with the old ones, like the smell from farm animals, late night spraying and so on, all of which the neighbor could sleep through. The neighbor can't sleep through the noise these things make.

The grape people say they have no choice but to turn on the noise when there's a danger of frost, that the giant propellers are their only option to the shortage of water.

Of course they've planted grapes in known freeze areas, but they're here, they're rich and politically powerful — they own all our reps, from our Congressman to our Supervisor — and if we don't like it we can just sigh and get up early and wait for the Redwood Drive-In and Mosswood to open to get a cup of coffee and an only-in-Boonville custom-made donut.

So us non-grape growers have one option — serious loss of sleep. We trade our sleep for their $30 bottles of wine. There's talk of a class action lawsuit, but that's just talk so far.

The frost defense machines, whose decibel din exceeds all known legal limits, probably rouse a couple of thousand residents of Anderson Valley. Which they did this morning promptly at 2am, then torqued the propellers up to max-din at 4am.

Which is when they awakened me from my righteous rest, an hour earlier than I normally begin laying waste to the dragons besieging Mendocino County. It was chilly Tuesday night when I'd arrived at my home in SoBo (South Boonville.) In anticipation of an early morning assault by the neighboring vineyards, I'd plugged my ears with silicon and wrapped a pillow around my head. They overpowered the silicon and the pillow.

The things are so loud they overpower all known preventatives. 4am and wide awake. Everyone the length of the valley, everyone within earshot of a vineyard, was awake. If we were organized we might have brought off the first pajamas-and-nightgowns riot in history.

My thermometer said it got down to 34 degrees this morning. A light frost was indeed visible at daybreak. We all hope there's no repeat Wednesday or Thursday.

Last month we had eight consecutive mornings of disrupted sleep. Even the tweekers were complaining. Today, makes nine.

The grape people who also live here are at least apologetic. The outside-owned wineries — Roederer serves nicely as Exhibit A — let loose volumes of lame-brain blah-blah about how they employ people and we should be grateful that they're here etc. Do they have another argument? O yes. The noise machines are an ecological step up from their blank draw on our river water. Mr. Hobson's Choice, more like.

IT'S AN ODD and unprecedented thing happening in the Anderson Valley. The large majority of people who live here are being seriously disturbed, feloniously disturbed at this point, because a new business says their welfare is more important than the night time peace of several thousand of their neighbors.

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Re: Deputy Misconduct, March 28, 2014, Point Arena

Dear Sheriff Tom Allman and District Attorney David Eyster,

We are writing on behalf of three women, a mother and her two young adult daughters, to express our concerns about your deputies' mishandling of an attempted break-in in Point Arena on Friday, March 28, 2014.

We are asking that you undertake an immediate proper investigation of the incident itself and in addition that you investigate the deputies involved for obstruction of justice and for being accessories after the fact.

As a result of the deputies ignoring the principle crime and the women's safety and their protecting the suspect and not the victims, the women are now too afraid to return to their home. Two of the women are now homeless and one is in Santa Rosa. A little four-year-old family member who was also present is now traumatized and fearful.

According to the women, after dark on the evening of March 28 as the mother returned from work and entered her upstairs apartment in Point Arena, a drunk older male from a neighboring building who had been hiding out in the women's hallway approached and began trying to also enter their home.

The mother and one of her daughters began to struggle with him trying to close the door on him as he tried to force his way in. Finally, the women were able to close and lock the door but the man continued trying to get in all the while making sexually inappropriate comments to the women.

For example, when the women yelled at the man to get away, the man said things like, Keep talking like that, I like it when you talk like that. He kept calling them "sweetie" and "honey." He told them he had $100 for them and more.

The second daughter, who had been awakened from sleep, dialed 911 to call for help as the man kept trying to break into their home. When the women told the man they had called police, the man said he didn't care. He continued to try to force his way into the home and in fact was still at the women's door when deputies arrived a good five minutes later.

The deputies arrested the man, found a knife on his person, and ultimately booked him on a charge of public drunkenness only and not the attempted forced entry. According to the women from what they could hear, the deputies had to struggle physically with the man to get him under control.

According to the victims as one of the deputies took the man to the patrol car the other deputy immediately began making multiple and repeated excuses for the man and talked only briefly with the women. The deputy never took any notes at all as the women tried to give details of what happened. He repeatedly belittled the women's expressed fears and concerns for their safety. And he continued to do so even as one of the women followed the deputy downstairs to plead with the deputy for more help.

Among other things, the deputy:

• Told the women, Don't worry, he was just drunk, he won't remember this tomorrow.

• As the woman tried to express their level of fear the deputy said, I know him, he doesn't seem violent. He just went to the wrong apartment. The deputy told the women that, He isn't going to be a threat to you.

• The women asked repeatedly for a restraining order. The deputy told them a restraining order isn't necessary.

• When the women asked for the case report number, the deputy refused to give it to them and said they could call the sheriff the next day.

The next day one of the women went with a male family member to the Point Arena substation, again seeking help regarding the case and again being refused.

The failure of the deputies to deal with the serious aspect of this crime and a danger to the victims has not only left this family in fear and homeless, it leaves the community, especially women of the community, in danger of his future attacks.

The deputies' attempts to protect the suspect at the expense of the women's safety is even more egregious as the suspect holds a critical professional position of trust at Point Arena High School.

As one of the women said, "You would think that the police are there to help us. But he (the deputy) didn't help us. Instead of helping us he made us more scared, unprotected and helpless."

We ask that you immediately assign a competent officer to contact the women, one of whom can be reached at her cell number (provided separately) and properly investigate the attempt attempted forced entry.

Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely, Marie De Santis, Director,

Women's Justice Center, Santa Rosa, California


Ed note: The alleged perp has been identified as long-time Point Arena resident and high school campus security staffer Jeff Gunning.

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Women’s Justice Center, Attention: Marie De Santis
P.O. Box 7510, Santa Rosa, CA 95407

Dear Marie De Santis:

I have reviewed your letter dated April 6, 2014 regarding the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office handling of a call at 195 Main St., Point Arena, on March 28, 2014 at 8:27 PM. I have reviewed the arrest report written by the deputy who arrested the suspect in this incident, as documented in Mendocino County Sheriff’s Report 2014-7906. I have also spoken with the involved deputies.

In summary, the deputies were called to an apartment because a male subject was trying to get in. When the deputies arrived they found the subject in the hallway and determined that he was too intoxicated to care for his own safety or the safety of others. This subject adamantly stated that he was at his own apartment (which was actually next door). The subject was immediately arrested by the deputies and he was booked into the Mendocino County Jail.

During the investigation, the deputies could not find anything more sinister than an intoxicated person mistakenly believing that he had walked home from the bar across the street and could not get into his own apartment. Nothing in this event indicated that the reporting party was in fear of immediate and present danger of domestic violence, child abuse, child abduction, stalking, elder abuse or dependent adult abuse. Therefore, an Emergency Protective Order was not offered to the reporting party. During the contact with a deputy the following day a relative of the reporting party was told that they could seek a temporary restraining order from the court and the process for doing so.

And lastly, to address your allegations that the deputies did not help the reporting party, I am compelled to point out that the first deputy arrived three minutes after being dispatched, the suspect was quickly located and arrested, and the reporting party did not directly interact with the suspect at all. Additionally, your final comment, “We ask that you immediately assign a competent officer to contact the women…” is inflammatory. This incident was handled quickly and appropriately by skilled and competent deputies. I take pride in the work by all the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputies in their handling and investigation of all crimes but particularly in the thorough and sensitive handling of crimes against persons.

I do appreciate your concern and the work that you do, but in this matter, I do not believe that you had received all of the facts. If you feel that you would like to discuss this incident and/or the actions of the deputy, please do not hesitate to contact my assistant, Liz Evangelatos at 707-463-4085.

Sincerely, Thomas D. Allman, Mendocino County Sheriff-Coroner
951 Low Gap Road, Ukiah, California 95482
707-463-4411, Fax 707-468-3404

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If ever there were a spring day so perfect,

so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze


that it made you want to throw

open all the windows in the house


and unlatch the door to the canary's cage,

indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,


a day when the cool brick paths

and the garden bursting with peonies


seemed so etched in sunlight

that you felt like taking


a hammer to the glass paperweight

on the living room end table,


releasing the inhabitants

from their snow-covered cottage


so they could walk out,

holding hands and squinting


into this larger dome of blue and white,

well, today is just that kind of day.

— Billy Collins

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by Ruth Valenzuela & Kenny Jowers

Valenzuela, Jowers
Valenzuela, Jowers

Ruth Valenzuela of Ukiah and Kenny Jowers from Manchester are the 2014 Democrats of the Year (DOTY). They will be honored together at receptions from 5 -7 p.m. on Thursday, May 8, at the Little River Inn and on Thursday, May 15, at Parducci Winery in Ukiah.

Valenzuela will be honored for her dedication to the community and conscientious work on behalf of Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro, and Jowers as the founder and dynamo from Democrats United for Progress on the south coast.

Local and state politicos including State Board of Equalization member and candidate for State Controller candidate Betty Yee and other candidates will be on hand to pay tribute to the honorees, who exemplify leadership and are both former restaurateurs.

Valenzuela, a Chicago native, moved to Mendocino County more than a decade ago. She owned a successful burrito café and catering business in Willits and in 2005, while a student at Mendocino College she segued into public service. "I was encouraged by my political science instructor to apply for an internship in Assemblywoman Patty Berg's office," says Valenzuela. She began right away and took to the work effortlessly.

Valenzuela was quickly recognized as a talented and skilled staffer and within three months she was hired as the office assistant. When the Field Representative position opened, she was promoted.

In 2008 Berg was termed out and couldn't run again. Assemblyman Chesbro was elected and asked Valenzuela to stay on as part of his team. She was promoted to Principal Field Representative in late 2012.

In addition to her plethora of casework regarding a variety of state issues from the DMV to health care and housing to law enforcement, she includes many other activities in her busy schedule. She is a graduate of Leadership Mendocino, Class 16. She was a valued member of the Lightning Jam Volunteer Firefighter Fundraiser steering committee, which raised $57,000 for local fire departments after the 2008 forest fires. She is currently a member of the Area Agency on Aging Advisory Council, the Women's Political Caucus of Mendocino County, and the Mendocino County Democrats.

Valenzuela lives off the grid on a beautiful property on Orr Springs Road, where she loves to read, bike ride, and hang out with her husband Max and their bevy of beloved canines.

Kenny Jowers who also lives on a rural property with a throng of farm animals began his illustrious political life in Mendocino County in 2003 by joining the Mendocino Democratic Central Committee.

Long before coming to Mendocino, the South Carolina native was involved in inequality issues. "My political activism grew out of all of the economic and racial disparities around me growing up in the South," says Jowers. "Then when the AIDS crisis hit, I joined that fight by serving on the board of a local AIDS service organization and advocated for funding for AIDS research. My brother died of AIDS as did most of my best friends."

In addition to working hard for gender equality, Jowers harnessed his innate drive and entrepreneurial spirit. "I knew early on that I always wanted to be self-employed. I wanted to be my own boss," says Jowers, who owned and sold two restaurants in South Carolina and a successful cleaning business in Atlanta before moving to the Mendocino.

Right after moving to Manchester, Jowers' partner Robert Larsen, got a job as a pharmacist in Fort Bragg. Jowers learned the health club in Gualala was for sale and he has been its proprietor, renaming it the Physical Gym, since 2003. The couple built a beautiful country house near Manchester and spend a lot of time tending their farm, which is home to more than a hundred chickens, eleven peacocks (one with a six-foot long tail), four Toulouse geese, ducks, turkeys, Guinea hens, and two extraordinary orchid greenhouses.

Within the first year, Jowers was actively coordinating a Democratic club, drawing members from Irish Beach to Timber Cover [sic]. The Democrats United for Progress (DUFP) [sic] is not just a political organization. This club is about "education and information" according to Jowers. The members have cooked at fundraisers for the senior center. They put on candidate forums for school board elections, a town hall on global warming and another on the Affordable Care Act. On July 19 the DUFP will put on a town hall on the economic impacts of the new Point Arena/Stornetta Coastal National Monument.

The indefatigable Jowers is also working to reestablish the north Mendocino coast Democratic club. For list of upcoming events and contact information for potential members, the DUFP website is

The proceeds from the annual Democrat of The Year fundraiser help pay for endorsement mailers and campaign offices in Mendocino County. Each reception is $45 per person. For reservations and more information about the DOTY receptions visit or call 485-0702.

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According to a new study out of Harvard, it is easier for people to be moral in the morning. They say people are more moral at the beginning of the day, but they become more dishonest as the day goes on. So when people say Congress is as dishonest as the day is long, we now have scientific proof.

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by James Kunstler

The wonder is that more Americans are not ticked off about the state of our country than whatever is happening ten thousand miles away. For instance, how come the US Department of Justice is not as avid to prosecute the pervasive racketeering in the US economy as the State Department is for provoking unnecessary wars in foreign lands on the other side of the planet, over matters that have little bearing on life here? This racketeering, by the way, amounts to a war against American citizens.

I’m speaking especially of the US military racket, the banking and finance rackets, the health care racket and the college loan racket, all of which have evolved insidiously and elegantly to swindle the public in order to support a claque of American oligarchs. In other civilized lands, health care and college are considered the highest priority public goods (i.e. responsibilities of government), and national resources are applied to support them under the theory that bankrupting people for an appendectomy or a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering is not in the public interest. In our land, that would be considered “socialism.” Instead, we “socialize” the costs of supporting Too Big To Fail banks — so their employees can drive Beemers to their Hamptons summer house parties — and a military machine that goes around the world wrecking one country after another to support a parasitical class of contractors, lobbyists, and bought-off politicians in their northern Virginia McMansions.

Hence, the laughable conceit pinging through the news media lately that some dynastic grifter like Jeb Bush or Hillary Clinton will slide into the White House in 2016 as easily as a watermelon seed popped into a shot glass. I don’t think it’s going to work out that way. The US political system needs to be turned upside down and inside out, and I expect that it will be. Either it happens within the bounds of electoral politics, or you’ll see it playing out in the streets and the windswept plains.

Just a glance around the USA these days ought to nauseate the casual observer. We have an infrastructure for everyday life that is failing in every way imaginable. Are you disturbed by the asteroid belts of vacant strip malls outside your town? Or the empty store fronts along your Main Streets? What do you suppose these places will be like in ten years when the mirage of shale oil dissolves in a mist of disappointment and political grievance? How are Americans going to feel, do you suppose, when gasoline just isn’t there at a price they can pay, and they are marooned in delaminating strand-board-and-vinyl houses 23 miles away from anything? Does the sheer immersive ugliness of the human imprint on the American landscape not give you the shivers?

Look at the pathetic and disgusting appearance of our cities, which for the most part present themselves as demolition derby arenas or war zones — except the strongholds of the red-white-and-blue oligarchs: Washington, San Francisco, and especially New York, Financialization Central.

What happens at the “magic moment” when Facebook stops being a narcissistic virtual playground for “selfies” and becomes a bulletin board for political revolution? Think that can’t happen here? And what if that revolution is a kind that doesn’t appeal to you — say, a revolution of race hatred, or fascist zealotry, or Marxist gangsterism of the type that took Russia hostage for 70 years?

All this is happening, incidentally, because the supposed best minds in our nation are paying no attention whatsoever to the most important story of our lifetime: the winding down of the techno-industrial global economy. It doesn’t really matter anymore why they don’t get it. Hubris. Greed. Distraction. Denial. All that matters is that they can’t be depended on and when that happens authority loses legitimacy. And when it comes to that, all bets are off.

The disintegration of Ukraine would be best understood by Americans as a mirror of ourselves and our sclerotic republic, poised to sink into poverty and disorder. Everything we do and say rings hollow now. What used to be called The Establishment has run out of ways to even pretend to save itself. We have no idea what’s next, but it’s not going to be more of what’s been.

* * *


by Dan Bacher

The Beehive Design Collective will sponsor an event, the "True Cost of Coal Storytelling," in Stockton today, April 23, and tomorrow, April 24.

Today's event will take place from 4:00 pm to 6:15 pm at San Joaquin Delta College (West Forum).

Tomorrow's event will run from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm at the University of the Pacific (WPC Rm. 140).

The event will be, "A visual conversation and storytelling about coal power, climate change, and sustainability. Explore this collaboratively made mural mapping out big-picture narratives in a changing world."

The Beehive Design Collective is being showcased at San Joaquin Delta College and University of the Pacific. The visit is sponsored by UoP Associated Students and the Sustaining Pacific and the Student Sustainability Coalition, and SJ Delta College ABSG and the Culture Awareness Program.

Based out of small-town Machias, across the country in rural Maine, the Beehive Design Collective is an all-volunteer organization of activists, artists, educators and organizers. Their main focus is creating and presenting graphic works about global issues. These portable murals are teeming with intricate images of plants and animals, illustrating surreal but meticulously researched scenes of sociocultural realities in the modern world.

From 3:30 pm - 4:00 pm, there will be a special unveiling of "It's the Same Thing," an interactive painted scroll/song performance art piece, at the Delta College event prior to the main storytelling at 4:00pm.

From 5:30 pm - 6:00 pm, environmental clubs and organizations will be tabling at the University of the Pacific event prior to the main storytelling at 6:00 pm.

A 8' X 16' foot banner of "The True Cost of Coal" mural will be hung up for viewing at both venues throughout the duration of the events. There will also be decorative installations like floating bee-comb paper displays, paper circles of bees along walls, and available other visual stimuli.

The Collective has been featured on prominent social media resource site Upworthy, and in print in the Portland Press Herald as well as recipient of the Maine Arts Commission's Creative Communities, Economic Development grant (CCED) and Maine's 2014 State Arts Economic Development Award.

All of their work is anti-copyright, and their presentations resonate in relevance to many differing departments, from arts history and sociology to international relations and natural resources.

The True Cost of Coal, one of their projects, is focused on the impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining on the ecosystem and people in the Appalachian region, and its importance in the global landscape. It is this mural that will be presented on the Delta College and University of the Pacific campuses, with an additional conversation about how it translates and is relevant to local issues surrounding the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Restore the Delta ( will be partnering with the Bees to host a graphics brainstorm and workshop to translate local issues through visual metaphors. Moreover, there will be a Restore the Delta booth at the UOP showing.

For more information:

Official website:

True Cost of Coal banner:

Media Contact: Ryan Camero, SJ Delta College ASBG 209/683-8879 email: or


  1. Jim Updegraff April 24, 2014

    In regard to the noise nuisance caused by the vine yard wind machines complaining about it is a waste of time. If the supervisor that represents your area will not act then you might start a recall action against him. Demostrations at the entrance to the offending vineyards with the proper publicity to outside media might be helpful. A legal action always get attention.

    Or conversely, the folks in the Valley might just sit around and whine about the problem which of course doesn’t solve the problem.

  2. Harvey Reading April 24, 2014

    How dare you question the welfare grape farmers? Yuppies depend on them for their hard grape cider.

    “The wonder is that more Americans are not ticked off about the state of our country than whatever is happening ten thousand miles away … Just a glance around the USA these days ought to nauseate the casual observer.”

    Sorry, the average USan is either too stupid, or too addicted to electronic junk to notice. Hell, they’re too stupid even to take notice of basics, like the two-thirds increase in the cost of toilet paper over the last 4 years, accomplished by keeping the selling price the same and reducing the square footage by 40 percent. Haven’t you idiots noticed that the paper runs out much sooner and that the cylinders are shorter? Used to be that folks would at least raise a ruckus over such, like they did when the coffee companies introduced the 13-ounce pound back in the late 60s-early 70s. What a pathetic bunch of losers.

  3. Stu Casteel April 24, 2014

    As someone who grew up in Redwood Valley more than a few moons a go I’ll point out that the wind machines back then were often WWII bomber engines – and the added fun of smuge pots and late winter early spring mornings involved an armada of bombers in full takeoff power and the added fun of descending from sunlight through the layer of black fog to the day long taste of diesel…

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