- Noise Ordinance Violations
- Frost Monsters Raging
- Early Heat Wave
- Sako Questions KZYX
- True Cost of Flowers
- New Age Rain Dance
- Mother's Day
- A Recorder's Duty
- Remembering Jessica Mitford
TO: STEVE DUNICLIFF, Director, Planning and Building, County of Mendocino
Dear Mr. Dunicliff:
There is an ongoing and willful violation of Mendocino County's noise ordinance by these three Boonville vineyards: V. Sattui; the Charles' family Foresight Vineyards; Pennyroyal Farms owned by Ted Bennett and Deborah Cahn. On 8 consecutive mornings in April and May, and on three other mornings of these two months, these three wineries, and many others in the Anderson Valley, have operated giant frost protection fans between the hours of midnight and 8am. The noise from these fans exceeds, by our informal measurements, 100 decibels, so loud it is impossible to sleep through even with earplugs. The county ordinance says noise is not to exceed 50 decibels, 7am to 7pm.
Sincerely, Bruce Anderson, Boonville
My name is Wendy Read and I am the one who organized the community meeting last Wednesday to address the use of the nocturnal frost monsters now employed by some of the grape growers in Anderson Valley. If you live near one, you know what I mean. If you don’t, it’s difficult to impress upon you the devastating noise and vibration that roars through my home and dozens of others when these monsters are active in the wee hours of the night.
It is well documented that the loss of sleep causes a myriad of both physical and mental health problems, both for individuals and the valley as a whole. In fact, enforced lack of sleep is literally torture. I am a healer with a family practice here, and I have over a dozen clients, challenged by cancer, suffering from Lyme Disease, bouncing back and forth from anxiety attacks to severe bouts of depression that are in danger from these frost monsters. Uninterrupted sleep is essential for their survival.
Comments heard from vineyard owners/managers at the community meeting:
“You do not have the right to expect a good night’s sleep in your home.”
“What? Do you expect me to give up my income for your night’s sleep?”
“My sons (two under ten toeheads dragged to the meeting that night) get straight As in school, therefore the wind machines cannot be a problem.”
“I’m going to give a donation to the health center.”
Not one grower admitted there was a problem, let alone offered to correct the problem, even though one after the other, residents found the courage to stand up to the macho crew of them and state their difficulties. Some were raging mad, others near tears as they described the effects of these “helicopters” hovering over their homes for hours all night and many nights in a row.
Society has known for eons that one party keeping another party up all night is a social hazard and that is why we have public nuisance laws.
Definition of a Public Nuisance: “Anything which is injurious to health, indecent or offensive to the senses, or an obstruction to the free use of property, so as to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property. A public nuisance is one which affects at the same time an entire community or neighborhood, or any considerable number of persons, although the extent of the annoyance or damage inflicted upon individuals may be unequal.”
There are clearly better solutions as most grape growers in the valley are not using this 1950s technology and would never insult their neighbors to such a degree.
How to SHUT THEM DOWN!
Here are some options for action:
1. Call 911 — and report a public nuisance when the fans are running. They will take your number and a deputy will call you back within about half an hour (hey, you’re up anyway!) and take the complaint.
(Although one misinformed deputy told me “if I send someone out there to tell them to shut these things down, they will just claim they have the 'right to farm'.” I had to inform him that these are not covered under the California State Right to Farm Ordinance because that only applies to agricultural activity that “has been in operation more than three years if it was not a nuisance at the time it began.”
2. Fill out and fax or mail in the General Nuisance Complaint Form found on the County’s website under the Planning Department.
860 North Bush Street, Ukiah, CA 95482 Fax: (707) 463-5709
3. Join those of us working on direct action. We have a physical direct action group (petitions, picketing, legal challenges, etc.) and a cyber direct action group and want to hear your ideas. We will meet again on Wed the 21st. Email me for time and venue if you want to come. firstname.lastname@example.org
These monsters are demonstrably illegal, immoral and a cruel example of the vineyard industry’s disrespect for valley residents. Help protect your neighbors who are too ill or elderly to defend themselves. Let’s protect “real farmers” right to grow local food and medicine. They cannot work dawn to dusk daily without sleeping at night.
Wendy Read, Boonville
PS. May 11th, 3:30am — It’s Mother’s Day for Christ’s sakes — and yet those monsters rage on!
DIANA HENDERSON, meteorologist with the National Weather Service said Sunday that temperatures throughout NorCal will be over a hundred degrees this week, 80 on the ocean. "We're looking at temperatures dramatically above normal, and it's only May," she said.
THE HOTTEST DAYS will be Tuesday and Wednesday. It will be the warmest weather so far this year and marks an unusually early start to the seasonal heat waves.
FIREFIGHTERS ARE PREPARING for the worst, as gusty winds are expected to coincide with the high temperatures in some areas that are already hit by drought.
THE DEPARTMENT of Forestry and Fire Protection planned to declare Monday the beginning of fire season throughout Northern California in anticipation of the week's heat wave. The agency is beefing up staffing across the state and aggressively promoting fire-safety tips to the public, said Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant. "The drought has absolutely set the stage for a very busy year," he said Sunday. "Unfortunately, the precipitation we got in March and December was not enough to make a significant impact."
ORDINARILY, Berlant said, fire season would begin in early June. Conditions are so dry in Southern California that last year's fire season never ended. Firefighters have remained busy combatting wildfires almost continually, 1,350 fires since Jan. 1, double the usual number.
TEMPERATURES are expected to return to seasonal normals by the weekend.
FROM KZYX BOARD MEMBER and host of "All About Money" on KZYX, John Sakowicz, Ukiah:
Mary Aigner's dismissal of Norman De Vall, from his usual hosting of the candidates forum series at KZYX, if substantiated, is appalling -- absolutely appalling. Mr. De Vall is our friend. Moreover, he is a former, highly respected, member of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisor. And, he is a KZYX radio show host emeritus, having hosted the station's most popular public affairs show for many years. His dismissal, if substantiated, is appalling, especially at a time when the station is trying to heal, and trying to build bridges back to the five people who filed an objection to the renewal of the station's FCC licenses, trying to build bridges back to the 105 members, programmers, and listeners who are the "KZYX Members for Change".
To replace a trusted household name, like Norman De Vall, with Michael Kisslinger or some other newcomer to the station, is a bad decision. To tell Mr. De Vall that anybody who is publicly critical of the station can expect their programmer privileges to be revoked -- or words to that effect -- as Ms. Aigner is alleged to have told Mr. De Vall, is grounds for Ms. Aigner's immediate termination.
I hope Mary Aigner didn't say this to Mr. De Vall.
Then. there's the separate issue with David Steffen, KZYX's presumed "business development manager". Steffen's niggly-piggly treatment of me, including threats at throwing me off the air, constitutes harassment of a member of staff toward a volunteer. It is equally appalling. And I will be filing a grievance. (If anyone wants to see Steffen's reprimand, let me know.)
Steffen's threat was based on the accusation that I didn't read station ID, an FCC requirement, at the start of my last show. Steffen's claim was totally false, of course. He has since acknowledged his mistake.
But Steffen isn't one to eat crow for long. In his rather windy and gassy reprimand, Steffen threatened to throw me off the air by further saying I didn't read the underwriting during my last show at the top of the hour. True, I didn't read the underwriting at the top of the hour. But I did read it at the half hour -- every word of it.
Why wait? Because my first guest was the director of the American Friends Service Committee, and he made it crystal clear to me before the show that he could only do the show if we did quick interview. He had very limited time. A scheduling conflict. The subject of the show was the new defense pact that Obama signed with the current Benigno Aquino government -- something that almost certainly will inflame relations with China for both the U.S. and the Philippines.
I waited until my first guest signed off to respectfully introduce my second and third guests -- the two women who are the chair and vice chair respectively of the indigenous group of native Filipinos, many of them women, known as Banyan-Asia -- and it was only then that I read the underwriting. The time was thirty-three minutes into my program.
And that was that.
So now, I guess I'm left with the larger question: Why isn't Steffen out there finding new underwriters -- his real job -- instead of listening to hour-long programs from the archives? Why is he there sitting in his office, maybe donut and coffee in hand, instead of out there in the county beating the bushes for new business?
Factoid: Our underwriting revenues have fallen off in each of the last few years.
For the record, before these last two dust-ups, I had recently spoken with KZYX General Manager, John Coate, on several occasions. I felt we had sincere, heart-to-heart talks. I told John Coate that my only motivation in filing my FCC complaint was that I wanted to fix what's wrong with the station. I wanted to fix the station, not destroy it. I wanted public radio back. KZYX is public radio, not the private clubhouse it often seems to be.
I offered to write letters to the local newspapers urging listeners to support KZYX during Spring Pledge Drive. I offered to withdraw or modify my FCC complaint.
I thought John Coate and I were in a good place. I thought the Board and I were in a good place. I thought my fellow brother and sister programmers -- many of whom felt I betrayed the station by filing an FCC complant -- and I were in a good place.
Now this! The shabby treatment of Norman De Vall. And Steffen's niggly-piggly harassment of me.
Why now? As relationships were healing at KZYX?
Why now? As KZYX is panhandling for loose change during Spring Pledge Drive?
THE TRUE COST OF MOTHER'S DAY FLOWERS
NEW AGE RAIN DANCE LINK for Lake Mendocino from an SFGate Commenter — a
Reader comment on Tom Stienstra's story in Chron today about best bass lakes in Norcal:
“I've been paddling in lake Mendocino lately.
Only about half full.
Boat ramp already closed due to low water.
I'm meditating on rain as weather warms up
by Spec MacQuayde
Mother's Day, in this latitude, generally is assumed to be the time of season after which frost is no longer feared. Tomato, pepper, cucumber, and melon starts sell like hotcakes along with hanging baskets spilling over with petunias, pansies, and whatnot.
"I have to get something for my mom," said Jetta. "Maybe a hanging basket. But I don't know where's the best place to go."
"Grizzly and Bambi's market," I said, referring to my former employers of three years ago who ended up firing me either because I protested the way workers were exposed to chemicals or because they read my reports about them online, on the AVA website.
"But you don't want to support them."
"If they stuck to raising flowers and retailing vegetables from a farm stand, they wouldn't be insane. It was Walmart and Kroger that caused them to lose whatever humanity they once enjoyed. Anyway, they do all their flowers from scratch."
"I just can't believe you want to go in there."
"It'll give me great pleasure to strut around the greenhouse with you, say hello to people who hate me, and hand them some cash."
"You look evil when you say that."
True, Grizzly and Bambi have twice now attempted to purchase the seven acre piece of Verona sand directly north of their roadside market that I lucked into a couple years prior, as they are horrified that Spec will set up an organic farmstand next to theirs. First, upon reading in the newspaper that I'd contracted out with the previous owner, they'd called him and offered to pay more if he'd nullify the sale. Then, when some friends had helped rescue me from the $12k balloon payment and that transaction had been registered in the newspaper, they'd once again offered to buy it just to get rid of me. We are sworn enemies. But they have the best flower arrangements, and I always liked that Bambi ruled the roost around the greenhouses, especially on Mothers' Day. Modern, conventional agriculture has no use for the wisdom of traditional country women or aesthetics, period. Once upon a time, women played a huge role in the farm economy, as Wendell Berry has already noted. Generally the home garden, the chickens, and the milk cows as well as the kitchen and house were the domain of women (at least in relatively functional households). If some aspect of the farm offended aesthetically, this issue was addressed until the mid 1960's, when confinement facilities reeking of anaerobic shit replaced barnlots and those chicken coops like we have in our back yard. I'll never forget my mother sobbing on a return trip to northeast Nebraska, where us kids were all born, to see and smell and almost taste the putrid lagoons of standing cattle stretching for twenty miles along what had been a pastoral highway.
If not for my mother's influence, I would not be a writer or a farmer, if I am either one of those.
"Never write stuff that your parents would put up on the refrigerator," a poet named Alice Friman advised in Creative Writing, my sophomore year of college.
"If you're going to be a writer, you need to find another occupation for a passion, and then you'll have something to write about," my mom always told me. "Otherwise you'll be just another person good with words."
My mom taught literature and composition to third and fourth graders, starting up the student newspaper at the Lutheran school where I first enjoyed the notoriety of reaching an audience, as the newspapers were handed out Sunday mornings at three different churches and read by folks who in the mid 1980's still made a living as farmers. She read Three Acre Eden by Gene Logsdon, and encouraged my dad and us kids to convert our place on the Lake Road to a landscaped paradise flush with gooseberries, currents, apple, cherry, and apricot trees along with the ornamental spruces and dogwoods, etc., along with the huge vegetable garden out back that provided the canvas for my first farming adventures.
"You should use [the neighbors'] horse manure," she recommended when I started planting our one acre field to watermelons and cantaloupe to sell in the front yard. "The watermelons will taste better."
Of course as a teenaged boy I emulated the older male farmers in the community and considered the horse manure on the same level as old wive's tales, compared with pelletized nitrogen in 50 pound bags. It wasn't until getting kicked out of college and running around with hippie chicks that I realized organics was the way to go.
A RECORDER’S DUTY
Ranochak Wrong re Duties of County Recorder.
The current Mendocino County Recorder, Susan Ranochak, appears to be incorrect in her interpretation of the law concerning the duty of the Recorder to protect the public and the public records.
"If the recorder is presented with a document and it's recordable under California law ... she's presented with the fee, she's presented with documented transfer tax, she's got very little authority to reject that document," Ranochak said. "In addition, the recorder shall not determine the legality of a document. There is no authority to require an affidavit of identity in California." — Ukiah Daily Journal, May 8, 2014, reporting on the candidates’ forum of May 6.
Ms. Ranochak is relying on California Government Code section 27201(a), which states that “The county recorder shall not refuse to record any instrument, paper, or notice … on the basis of its lack of legal sufficiency.”
But she is ignoring the very next paragraph of the Code, section 27201(b), which states that “Each instrument, paper, or notice shall contain an original signature or signatures, except as otherwise provided by law, or be a certified copy of the original.”
The signing requirements are detailed in sections 27280-296 of the Government Code.
In 1984, the California Attorney General issued an opinion stating that section 27201(a) “has not obviated [nullified] the need for a document to comply with the requirements of Government Code sections 27280-27296.”
The opinion distinguished between the substantive legality and the procedural legality of a document.
It is the recorder’s duty to make sure that all procedural safeguards are followed before recording a document. For example, section 27287 describes the requirement for an acknowledged (notarized) signature: “[B]efore an instrument can be recorded its execution shall be acknowledged by the person executing it, or if executed by a corporation, by its president or secretary or other person executing it on behalf of the corporation.”
As most folks know, the problem with many foreclosures has been the “robo-signing” of documents by those not authorized to do so, and the lack of authentication of signatures.
It is the duty of the County Recorder to protect both individuals and our system of government and economics by requiring that banks and other mortgage holders comply with the legal requirements of signing and recording. The highest court in California has agreed since the days the state was founded:
“County Recorder should refuse to receive for record improper and defective acknowledgement.” —Fogarty v. Findley, 1 Labatt 1 (1857)
This principle was confirmed a century later:
“Acknowledgement certified by notary is prerequisite to recordation of underlying instrument.” — Kirsch v. Barnes, 153 F Supp 260 (DC Cal, 1957)
These are the very abuses that have highlighted the wave of foreclosures that hit homeowners and their families since the financial crisis hit. Requiring banks and others to follow the law will provide the protection and the time that are necessary for many homeowners to deal with the underlying “legal insufficiencies” and save their homes.
A County Recorder who chooses to actively enforce the law concerning foreclosures, rather than just doing the minimum, would not only be fulfilling her sworn duties, she would be protecting those whom she is dedicated to serve.
Dennis O'Brien, Ukiah
REMEMBERING JESSICA MITFORD
by Lauren Robertson
On Wednesday, July 22, 1996 Jessica (Decca) Mitford died quietly at her home in Oakland surrounded by her husband, daughter and son, grandsons and several of her oldest and closest friends. She had been diagnosed with lung cancer just four weeks earlier and due to the advanced state of the cancer at the time of the diagnosis was given a poor prognosis.
The details of Decca's life are well known to many from her writing and lectures. She was born in 1917 in Gloucestershire, England, the 6th of seven children of Lord David Bertram Ogilvy, the second baron of Redesdale and Baroness Sydney Redesdale. She was educated at home with her sisters first under the direction of her mother and then a series of governesses. She wrote in her first autobiography, Daughters and Rebels, “But my mother felt that school for girls was unnecessary, probably harmful, and certainly too expensive. She prided herself that she was able to finance our entire education out of the proceeds of her chicken farm, which, after paying all expenses netted something like one hundred and 20 pounds a year, about the right amount for a governess's annual wage in those days."
In her late teens, she eloped to Spain to fight in the Spanish Civil War with soon to be husband Esmond Romilly, her second cousin and a nephew of Winston Churchill only to return to England when her father threatened legal action against Romilly if he tried to marry Decca before she came of age. She married Romilly in France 1939 and the couple moved to the United States and had a daughter, Dinky. Romilly was killed in 1941 at the age of 23 while flying as fighter pilot for the Royal Canadian Air Force. Decca was eventually disinherited by her father and she said that she never spoke to her father again after moving to the United States. She met her current husband, lawyer Bob Treuhaft, while working at the Office of Price Administration in Washington during World War II.
In 1943, Decca left the East Coast for California, claiming that Bob was, according to a Berkeley Oral History Project interview, “interested in other girls and wasn't going to make up his mind [about marriage].” Bob soon followed Decca to California and they were married in 1943. They moved from San Francisco to Oakland where they had a son, Benjamin and quickly became active in the local political scene. They both joined the Communist Party and became active in the Civil Rights Congress, a legal defense arm of the Communist party that was formed in 1945 with the goal of establishing civil liberties and civil rights for Blacks. It was Bob, through his work in the Berkeley Co-op and funeral society movement in the late 1950's who inspired the writing of the 1963 best-seller, The American Way of Death, a scathing and humorous exposé of the funeral industry in the United States. Again from the Berkeley Oral History Project interview: “And so, incidentally, my wife used to tease me about these [Bay Area Funeral Society] meetings that I used to go to. We met once a week for a while and then once every two weeks, and she'd ask, where to now, and I'd say it was the Funeral Society. 'Oh, to meet your fellow necrophilists?' She showed no interest at all until I started bringing home some of the trade magazines with titles like Mortuary Management. So she became interested in these publications and they became a prime source for The American Way of Death, which came out in 1963."
The American Way of Death was an instant best seller and remained on the New York Times best-seller list for over a year. The success of the book made Jessica Mitford a household name and established her a writer of the first order. In 1970, Time magazine labeled her “The Queen of the Muckrakers” and she wrote about this in her 1979 book Poison Penmanship, “I rushed to the dictionary to find out what I was queen of, and discovered that muckraker was originally a pejorative coined by President Theodore Roosevelt to describe journalists like Lincoln Steffens and Ida Tarbell, who in his view had gone too far in exposing corruption in government and corporate enterprise. The Oxford English Dictionary says 'muckrake… is often made to refer generally… to a depraved interest in what is morally unsavoury or scandalous'.” And she goes on to write, “I fear that does rather describe me."
After “Daughters and Rebels” (1960) and “The American Way of Death", Decca went on to write a series of books starting with “The Trial of Dr. Spock” (1969), “Kind and Usual Punishment” (1971), “A Fine Old Conflict” (1977), “Poison Penmanship"(1979), “Faces of Phillip” (1984), “Grace Had an English Heart” (1988) and “The American Way of Birth” published in 1993. In 1995, she added to her literary accomplishments by releasing a 4-song CD on the Don't Quit Your Day Job label which includes her own rough yet rousing rendition of the Beatles “Maxwell's Silver Hammer", a British bar ballad (and Decca's signature piece) entitled “Grace Darling", another Brit melody called “Right Said Fred” and an obscure tune called “There is a Moral to it All", the last two sung in duet with longtime friend and singing buddy, Maya Angelou.
I first met Decca in 1991 when her husband had a total knee replacement at Alta Bates hospital where I was a student in the middle of a clinical internship in physical therapy. Her daughter, Dinky Romilly asked if I could come to her mother's home and encourage her to begin a walking and exercise program. I was familiar with Decca from her writing and I had read most of her books and followed her over the years. I was a little concerned though because I remembered an article from Poison Penmanship, in which she had written, “I have resolved from time to time to do the nine-minute Air Force Exercises or equivalent, the requisite nine minutes a day was always my undoing.” I thought this was certainly a good joke but wasn't sure if she would be willing to start an exercise program at the age of 72. As it turned out my fears were unfounded and Decca proved to be an enthusiastic and able exerciser. She had a mild stroke while traveling with a group of writers in Nicaragua in 1984 and had a moderate limp left over from that illness. In addition, she was extremely deconditioned (even for a 72-year-old woman) and a bit of a couch potato but she had a long, even English countryside stride and never once complained about the exercises. We began our sessions modestly with a few easy exercises and a walk around the block. The first day she tried to turn back at the corner (about 150 yards from her house) but I kept quiet and kept moving forward and Decca followed along muttering something like “well, I guess that you have something different in mind.” In this manner over the next two to three years, Decca gradually improved from 1 block walks to two-mile walks over hill and dale and even began to walk a bit without her cane. We chose a favorite route up Regent St. and around Bateman near Alta Bates Hospital and back to Regent. We measured the distance using a pedometer and used this 6/10-mile walk as a time trial which was retested every two weeks or so. We kept track of her progress on a graph and over time, Decca improved her time from a dismal 38 minutes for the 6/10-mile to a near Olympic record of 15 minutes and 58 seconds. During our walks we talked about books, politics, writers, movies and she talked expansively about her friends and acquaintances until I came to know quite a bit about her life. She loved the give and take of a good conversation and always asked about my life and my work. When I moved to Willits about the time of the multiple axe murders in 1994, she began referring to Willits as the Murder Capital of the World and kept track of the goings on in Willits through the Chronicle and the AVA. She was especially interested in the Bigfoot sighting in 1995 off of Highway 20 and suggested that I have some t-shirts printed up that said Willits on the front and 1800 Bigfoot on the back. We kept up a regular correspondance by fax, letters and telephone and she sent along copies of all her current writing projects and the work of other writers she admired such as Alexander Cockburn, Christopher Hitchens, Molly Ivins, Katha Pollitt and others.
A combination of qualities and quirks set Decca aside both as a person and as a writer. She was at once self-centered and self-effacing. She was extremely generous and loaded with charm but could be frustratingly nasty at times. She was a dogged worker who loved a good drink, a good meal and a good party. When preparing to write a book or article her research was painstaking and meticulous. She seemed truly disappointed if her writing did not cause a stir and wrote in a 1977 article entitled The Best of Frenemies, “Enemies are as important as friends in my life, and when they die I mourn their passing.” She was truly thrilled to lend her support to writers trying to publish a first article or to activists lobbying for the passage of a bill or running for political office. She was much less discerning than her husband when it came to analyzing the quality of someone's work — if she liked you, she liked your work. In the end I believe that her success sprang from an unusual combination of intelligence, charisma, wicked humor, astute political awareness, cocksuredness and the rare ability to inspire and catalyze action in other people. She loved being the center of attention and in the days before her death joked to a close friend that having friends come from near and far to visit her was wonderful for her ego.
One of my favorite bits of wisdom from Decca's work can be found in her excellent introduction to her 1979 book “Poison Penmanship: The Gentle Art of Muckraking” in which she wrote, “In his essay Stop the Press, I Want to Get On, Nicholas Tomalin, a talented and versatile English journalist, wrote: 'The only qualities essential for real success in journalism are ratlike cunning, a plausible manner, and a little literary ability.' I would say there are two important omissions from Tomalin's otherwise excellent list of essential qualities: plodding determination, and an appetite for tracking and destroying the enemy."
I will miss Decca — her wit and humor, her loyalty, her sense of fun, her plausible manner, her ratlike cunning and especially her appetite for tracking and destroying the enemy. At the time of her death, Decca had been at work on a rewrite of The American Way of Death. Several chapters had been completed and by the year 2000 it was completed by her husband and her research assistant, Karen Leonard.