- Ukiah's Train Depot Property
- Fat Guy on Phone
- Old Fool on Tape
- Being Eaten by America
- Urban Legend Unearthed
- Demented Old Men in Nevada
- Commies for Clinton
THE NEW COUNTY COURTHOUSE rolls on despite the slim fact that only a few judges want it. The structure would house our 9 judges and the people who serve them. The existing Courthouse is perfectly serviceable and houses everything and everyone related to the courts. For a third of the money the new Courthouse will cost, the existing Courthouse could be made more than serviceable. A new courthouse for Mendocino County is totally unjustified.
NOT THAT THE 9 JUDGES are dissuaded from pursuing new quarters for themselves. Their attitude is, We want it, we're going to get it, and we don't care if no one else agrees with us. The City of Ukiah, downtown merchants and even the judges say they prefer a "downtown" location. Depends here how you define downtown. Only one prospective site, the library site, could be considered 'downtown,' and it's a block away from the present courthouse.
FOR A VARIETY OF REASONS, some of them suspicious, the old railroad depot site on Perkins is as close to downtown as the proposed judges-only courthouse can get. It's about a half-mile to the east of downtown. There was, as we've often noted, a lengthy site selection process that cost about a million to conduct, and another million for an EIR. That stumbling procedure looked at the old train depot site and the area around the library, plus a vacant expanse northeast of downtown called The Brush Street Triangle.
THE LIBRARY SITE was initially in first place but fell out of favor because there are a dozen or so property owners involved, some of whom don't want to sell and some of whom want too much money. There are also underground contamination issues of an unknown extent. So the Depot became the preferred site, although some of the judges and Sheriff Allman are advocates for the Brush Street Triangle, the third site now apparently out of consideration.
BACK WHEN Delbar and Wattenburger were still on the Board of Supervisors, they persuaded their inattentive colleagues to spend several hundred thousand dollars on a site selection study that recommended the County buy 20 acres in the much larger Brush Street Triangle. That site just happened to be owned by a Delbar padrone, the ubiquitous John Mayfield. (Giant pots of lightly supervised government money, and everyone comes running.) Delbar's and Wattenburger's consultant recommended that the County issue a gazillion in bonds to build a "justice" center — courtrooms, new jail, Sheriff admin bldg, and a new juvenile hal.l Delbar, with no business experience, never worried about how to pay the bills. He claimed he was a "fiscal conservative," but he voted to issue more than $100 million in Pension Obligation Bonds, mismanaged the Teeter debt, and generally drove the County into a financial hole just before the economy tanked. Of course he didn't manage the local fiscal disaster by himself. The entire County apparatus was in full support. There was literally no one in authority who didn't think wild assumptions weren't prudent.
POST ECONOMIC COLLAPSE, and with Delbar and affiliated incompetents gone, the new Board of Supes realized there was no funding for Delbar's scheme and they were not going to go deeper in debt by issuing $100 million or more in bonds. At that point, the City of Ukiah, which still had its redevelopment agency it used as City slush fund outside the rules, began pushing again for a "downtown" new courthouse location, with the Depot site winning out. If the City of Ukiah paid any attention to its own rhetoric about a revitalized downtown, they'd demand that the County Courthouse stay right where it is.
ANYWAY, the local judges and the AOC (Administrative Office of the Courts, a group of judges who make policy for the state court system and have always erected the ugliest large structures in the state, including the now abandoned courthouse in Willits) are ready to go, but NCRA, the moribund railroad, now an adjunct of the Northcoast Democrats, seems to be playing a bit of hard ball. Which is odd since NCRA is perpetually on the financial ropes and could use a financial shot in the arm, which a sale of the Depot site to the AOC would provide.
THERE ARE ALSO RUMORS that an unnamed local "natural foods store" is looking at the Depot site. Problem is, both the natural food store and the judges want to be up front, near Perkins Street. The black robes think it would be demeaning to the dignity of the courts to be located behind a health food grocery store parking lot with a lot of gaunt old hippies wandering around their viewshed. As if the current ambiance of downtown Ukiah is sooooo much different… As if a ringside seat on Perkins Street with the dispossessed shuffling up and down all day and night, the same dispossessed the judges are overly paid to process in and out of the justice system might be an enhanced view. The smart money says the judges should be able to out-muscle the natural food store.
RUMOR ALSO HAS IT that the County, too, is looking to buy land at the Depot site. The County doesn't have money to pay its employees a modest wage increase but the leadership seems to have the dough for real estate speculation. If the Courthouse really is going into the Depot site, which looks like an almost sure thing it does, however, make sense for the County to acquire a site for a related so-called justice center. Otherwise the attorneys and staff for the DA and Public Defender will be spending half their workday driving back and forth looking for a parking spot at the new Courthouse where the old train depot now rests in a littered, forlorn expanse of post-industrial squalor.
JUDGE NELSON, who really, really wants a new Courthouse, showed up recently to urge the Board of Supervisors to buy land next to the new Courthouse. Which is interesting since the new Courthouse as it is presently designed contains no space for the DA, Public Defender, etc., only the judges and their gofers. The gross inconvenience to all of the other people currently working in the old, perfectly serviceable Courthouse has been of no concern to the local judges all along. Now? Neo-solicitude. Suddenly, The Robes are advocates for the County buying land next to the Courthouse, probably because if the County buys land at the Depot it will help squeeze out the natural foods store, which also covets the site.
THE CO-OP, not so incidentally, has about $4 million in cash on hand, and sales have increased every year since they moved to Gobbi in 1998, increasing their business from $2.4 mil to $13.9 mil in that time and from $10.6 mil since 2009. A 30% increase in sales over the last four years looks pretty healthy to me. And the Co-op has been seriously looking to expand for several years. After the '98 move they quickly maxed out their avaliable space. A few years ago they did a remodel as a stop gap, but they quickly outgrew that as well. Don't count them out as a financial dynamo. Unfortunately, the Co-op is governed by a board of directors unlikely to move decisively. And The Robes have been on the move for a couple of years, and they have a lot more clout.
THE CASE OF THE FAT WHITE GUY
by Bruce Anderson
"I'm the fat white guy you wrote about last week."
The voice on the phone was not happy.
"You got every single fact wrong."
Are you a fat white guy?
Then I got two facts right.
"My truck isn't blue, either."
Is it a truck?
I now have two-and-a-half facts right.
"Who told you about it?"
I can't tell you.
"Was it that little retard, you know the guy who lives down the street?"
My informant appears to be of normal abilities.
(I have two remaining virtues. I've never given up a source; I think my other virtue might be punctuality.)
"The County Dog Catcher saw it. Deputy Massey showed up, too, and the CHP. I exchanged insurance information with the other guy and that was it. It wasn't a big deal. No citation."
The correct facts: The fat white guy was attempting a u-turn near the Boonville Methodist Church when he "clipped the back door" of a 2001 Acura. The fat white guy beat on his own steering wheel in frustration at his own ineptitude at not avoiding the Acura. He did not beat on the Acura.
IN THE NEWS BIZ, especially when reports from the field are as vague as this one was, you go with the story you've got. I went with the info I had because… because I thought the account I'd heard was funny. I rightly figured that someone, some neener-neener type, or the persons involved, would fill in the blanks. That's what usually happens, and that's what happened here. All I knew initially was that "a fat white guy," unnamed, had been in a fender-bender accident near the center of town and had "flipped out." That description fits maybe 30 residents of Anderson Valley if you factor in "Tendency to flip out." The other 300 fat white guys usually maintain in the face of frustration.
"White fat guy," I concede, is insulting. I'd prefer "burly" to fat if I were young, and "portly" if I were an older gentleman. Apologies to all the fat white guys who were compelled to deny involvement.
A READER WRITES
"The first time I listened to the Donald Sterling [owner of the LA Clippers basketball franchise] tape he comes across as a racist old fool. The second time through he just came across as an old fool. He may be a racist or a bigot, but if you listen carefully, it is not proved by this tape. He never says black people or any other minorities are inferior, which would be racist, although he sounds less than sincere when he exclaims that minorities are fabulous. He also never says he doesn't like black people or minorities, which would make him a bigot. Instead, he repeatedly says he loves everyone.
"The real deal here is that his GF, who gives every indication of being up from escort, posted a picture of herself and Magic Johnson on Instagram and Sterling started getting calls from his cronies. We can imagine that at least one of the calls chided him for not being able to satisfy his GF. He repeatedly says that he does not care if she sees black people, f*cks them, or anything else, just don't put it on Instagram, presumably so he doesn't have to take sh*t from his friends. He repeatedly tells her do what she wants but why does she have to "broadcast" it. Also, when he says "remove it" he is referring to the Instagram pic, not pigmentation.
"When the convo turns to Magic Johnson, the GF says she admires him. Sterling says, "He should be admired. I admire him." That is hardly a racist comment. At the end of the convo the old fool is clearly wearing down and finally says to the GF just don't put it on Instagram or bring him to my game. He is not saying he does not want Magic at the game. He is saying he does not want the GF bringing him to the game.
"At one point he makes a remark that indicates this is the continuation of a conversation that he thought was finished. She is clearly baiting him and repeating every inflammatory remark that he makes, to emphasize it and draw him out further. And he plays right into it. The ice is thinnest when he denies knowing she is "mixed" and finally says she "is supposed to be a delicate white or latina." Feminism must be dead for that remark to go unchallenged. Clearly, he is distressed that his pricey arm candy has stepped out of her role. According to one reference the "Sterling family" is suing the GF claiming she embezzled $1.8 million. Clearly, she has just upped the ante in the settlement talks. And has positioned herself for a spread in Playboy."
THOSE BEING EATEN BY AMERICA
The cry of those being eaten by America,
Others pale and soft being stored for later eating
Who saw hope in new oats
The wild houses go on
With wild hair growing from between their toes
The feet at night get up
And run down the long white roads by themselves
The dams reverse themselves and want to go stand alone in the
Ministers who dive headfirst into the earth
The pale flesh
Spreading guiltily into new literatures
That is why these poems are so sad
The long dead running over the fields
The mass sinking down
The light in children's faces fading at six or seven
The world will soon break up into small colonies of the saved
— Robert Bly
URBAN LEGEND ITEM OF THE DAY:
According to urban legend, a massive stockpile of Atari gear — including truckloads of the notoriously awful game E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial — has laid buried in a New Mexico landfill for over thirty years. Today, that story is no longer a myth. Construction crews have uncovered copies of the Atari 2600 game at a landfill deep in the New Mexico desert, near the city of Alamogordo. Back during the so-called video game crash of 1983, a struggling Atari was stuck with truckloads of the game and other unsold hardware. With little recourse and a crashing interest in video games in North America, the company decided to dump its excess merchandise into a landfill, according to reports at the time. The story was never confirmed, however, and it's carried on as a legendary tale from a time when video games were near worthless. It reportedly cost Atari millions to get the rights to produce a video game tie-in to the incredibly successful Steven Spielberg film, but the resulting E.T. game was a massive flop and it's considered one of the worst titles of all time. Today's dig became a reality thanks to an upcoming documentary, produced by Microsoft's Xbox Entertainment Studios. The documentary, which will focus on the changing landscape of the video game industry, is expected to come out next year, and it is part of a broader push by Microsoft to produce original video content for Xbox 360 and Xbox One owners. Its biggest project is a live-action Halo TV series connected to Steven Spielberg.
— Dante D’Orazio (theverge.com)
NEVADA, A COUNTRY FOR OLD DEMENTED MEN
by Jeff Costello
What a surprise to see Cliven Bundy in the AVA daily column. This guy has to get an award for the most media attention of the year. My question about the man concerns his name. Is he related to famed serial killer Ted Bundy? And why was the asshole TV character on Married with Children named Al Bundy?
What is it about Nevada, anyway? Driving across the state, there isn't much. I've never been to Las Vegas, which might have been enjoyable when Bugsy Siegel and other colorful mob characters ran the place. From what we see now, it's an ultra-flashy combination Disneyland/Universal Studios tour made sterile by the same corporate elements that are now ruining or have already ruined the country. A fake version of Las Vegas, a parody of its former self but still pumping the money, and more than ever.
I noticed a few years ago how the average right wing American hates Harry Reid. As someone with leftish views, I thought Reid, a Democrat, might be getting a bum rap. These after all were Bush-voting war lovers. But I learned that Reid had been a chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission, so the man knows corruption, even if was the good old clean corruption of mafia era in Vegas. But after checking Wikipedia and seeing that Harry Reid is a Mormon, I know now that he is among the dirtiest of dealers. As a liberal, Reid has issued his required official condemnation of cattle rancher (cow farmer?) Bundy. But the senator's past and religious affiliation belie his soft-spoken public persona. In my book this qualifies him as demented.
My favorite Spanish aphorism: Aparentar lo que no es. Loosely translated, "To put on a false showing is to not exist." Lots of such phantoms in politics. They only look like they're there.
Poor Elvis Presley became a demented old man in Las Vegas, even though he only lived to age 44. The ostentatious Liberace became ridiculous there.
Aside from the extended 15 minutes of fame Bundy is enjoying, the king of demented old men in Nevada has to be Sheldon Adelson, who is apparently determined to own the next president of the United States and by extension feel as though he rules the world. When you have so much money the only thing left to want is power. This is a man so empty inside, with a hole in his being so big it can't be filled. A frightening prospect, and the height of dementia.
COMMIES FOR CLINTON
The “Left” or the Right?
by Joyce Stoller
(August 1996) The 2nd National Convention of the Committees of Correspondence (CoC) was held in New York City in July. The Third Worldization of First World (so-called) which we are trying to forestall was evident everywhere. We met in a public school where there were no lights, paper towels, toilet paper, or doors in the bathrooms. In the gym, where the meeting was held, there was a choice of breathing (fan on) or hearing (fan off).
People may recall that the CoC had their initial meeting in Berkeley several years ago, attended by 1,300 people. Now, the chapter in San Francisco, the most “progressive” city in the country, hasn’t met in a year. In the meeting to elect delegates based on our paper membership, fewer people turned out to vote than we had appointed slots.
At each successive meeting of the CoC our numbers have grown exponentially smaller. This reflects not just the state of the CoC, but the malaise of the left in general in this country. They didn’t, to my knowledge, announce the total number of people at the convention, but I never saw more than 120 in the room at one time.
The average age of the people attending was in their 50s. Most people were white. This is in sharp contrast to the marxist maxim that “the most oppressed sectors of the working class” i.e., people of color, would be at the forefront of the struggle.
For years the white left has wondered and worried about why we don’t attract and keep people of color in our ranks. What we fail to realize is that if you don’t have the money to change the diapers, you don’t have the time, energy, money, or inclination to take far-flung trips to change the world.
Every session started at least one-half hour late. At 9am when the plenaries were to start, there were about nine people sitting in the nearly empty gym. If the revolution starts as late as our meetings to plan for it, we will never live to see it.
The only pointed political disagreement evident at the convention was over the upcoming election. It is my opinion that at least half of CoC members, particularly those who didn’t come out of the Communist Party, advocate a break with the Democrats and laying the groundwork for a new, independent party, or alliance of parties. Unfortunately, that view is not reflected in the “leadership.”
It seems to be a rule of history that in conservative periods, the leaders of supposedly progressive organizations are to the right of the rank & file. Witness the recent explosion in France where the leaders of the Communist Party, Socialist Party, and even the unions were sidelined, sidetracked, caught off guard, and bringing up the rear of the masses in the streets.
In a plenary panel on the election, all five of the speakers advocated a vote for Clinton as the lesser evil and the only choice. Of course, no one could actually bring themselves to say, “Vote for Clinton.” In politically (in)correct parlance they instead said, “Defeat the right,” a position identical to the stalinist CP and the social democratic DSA. No mention is ever made of the “other” candidate running for president — Ralph Nader.
Following this placid presentation a firestorm erupted on the floor. Even people who said they were voting for Clinton objected to the fact that other points of view had been excluded from what should have been a debate.
One would think that having only lately discovered what stalinism is by being kicked out of the CP, the “leaders” of the CoC might have learned something. But instead, they seem intent on replicating the anti-democratic practices that they themselves were the victims of only a few years ago.
A further example of this mindset is the Independent Political Action Task Force which was voted on and allegedly set up after the last convention two years ago. Just as in bourgeois politics where people are often appointed to head up work they explicitly oppose, the same thing happened in the CoC. Someone was “appointed” to head up the Independent Political Action Task Force who was openly opposed to breaking from the Democrats. He never, once, ever called a meeting to carry out the mandate that had been voted on at the convention.
Somewhat chastened by the response of the rank & file, the “leadership” said that someone had been invited to present an “opposing” point of view, but when he didn’t show up, they had simply “forgotten” to replace him.
Fortunately, a resolution came out of the workshop on “Independent Electoral Alternatives” (which was also “forgotten” from being listed in the schedule) which mandates yet another Independent Political Action Task Force with members to be “appointed.” So back to square one.
I need not elaborate why voting for the “lesser” evil guarantees living with evil. It is the job of the Democratic Party to make people think they have a choice in a political spectrum that ranges from A to C. Most people in this country, if not most progressives, have rightly concluded that neither party represents them. But just as the rank & file of progressive organizations are often to the left of their leaders, so are the masses who disdain both the Democrats and Republicans, and abstain from voting for them, to the left of the self-described lefties who religiously pull the lever for the lesser evil every four years.
These lefties forget Rule #1 in politics, which is that the Democrats, no less than the Republicans, represent ruling class interests which are diametrically opposed to our own. The Democrats have never led the way to reform, but have simply buckled to political pressure from the outside. Thus, a massive vote for Nader would put a brake on both the Democrat and Republican drift to the right.
The problem in the US is that people aren’t class conscious and the enemy here is unknown, unnamed, and invisible: Capitalism, aka “democracy.” In virtually every other advanced, industrial, capitalist country of the world there have been mass Socialist, Communist, and Labor Parties whose role was identical to the Democratic Party here. That is, when faced with social upheaval, they granted concessions in order to contain and co-opt the opposition, and maintain the stability of the pro-capitalist status quo.
As the Democrats learned in the radicalizations of the 30s and the 60s, you have to give a little to keep the rest. Thus the New Deal and Great Society programs are being shredded by both parties in the 90s, because there is no sustained opposition from outside.
We progressives who predicted a radicalization every 30 years in this country forget that a radicalization can take a right-wing as well as a left-wing turn if people don’t see a visible and viable progressive alternative. Such is the case today.
For the first time in American history, Generation X will have it worse than their parents, the Baby Boomers, did. Life is contracting for most people. It now takes two incomes to provide the same standard of living that one could provide just one generation ago. The top 1% of the population own as much wealth as the bottom 90%, but people don’t know what’s wrong. There is seething discontent, but we have yet to harness it with a common program for the common people against a common enemy.
With the collapse of stalinism and social democracy as the two leading working class currents worldwide, the ground is open for us to blaze a new path. We already see evidence of this phenomenon in the New Zealand Alliance and in new working class parties in Mexico, Brazil, and Venezuela.
Here in the US we have the Labor Party, the Greens, and the New Party, all claiming to be the new party. Our job is to forge an alliance between them so that the majority will at last have a voice and a choice.
So kiss off ‘96. The ruling class has obviously decided to keep Clinton since he’s less divisive than the right and is wont to keep the left in line.
Hopefully in four years, on the cusp of the new millennium, we progressives will have laid the groundwork for a new party that truly represents the majority of the People of Earth.
That should be our premise and our promise. And that would be a fitting start to the Third Millennium.
Dinner In The Time Capsule
The public event where CoC members were to present our faces to the masses was to start at 7:30. Because virtually all of the sessions started, and consequently ended, at least a half-hour late, the “comrades” were just sitting down to dinner at 7:40. At 8:40 old Pete Seeger is still rattling on, accompanied by a guitar player-cum-whistler. He sings songs from 50 years ago.
Next is a black woman story-teller talking about “god’s creation” in New Age, black and Christian parables. That was an odd choice, considering that in this country, at least, socialist is identified with atheist. Or have we forgotten that?
It is past 10, the locals are leaving, and so far not a word about the subject that had allegedly brought us together — politics.
Finally, they trot out the keynote speaker, Angela Davis, dressed in her faux bourgeois best. Angela, so far as anyone could recall, has never been actually seen at a local CoC meeting, but they use her and Manning Marable for special occasions. After spending about 15 minutes enumerating all the ills of capitalism, she concluded with a rousing call to “fight the racism,” “defeat the right” (i.e., vote for Clinton), and “join the CoC to develop socialist analysis.” So much for a program of action.
I lay this out in some detail so that we who are left in the organized left can start thinking about why we’re not attracting, or attractive to the general public, particularly young people.
The other political cultural development is that the five co-chairs who served last time maintained their posts. In fact, nobody bothered to run against them. All five are self-identified as lesbians or people of color, which may be politically correct, but it bodes ill for the organization politically in that all five urge a vote for Clinton to “defeat the right.” The average person in this country, if not the leadership of the “revolutionary” CoC, knows that Clinton is right-wing.
Election to the Executive Committee was conducted according to some complicated proportional representation scheme that nobody, including the computer, could figure out. The computer broke down, and by the time the results were announced, most people had left.