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Mendocino County Today: Sunday, May 25, 2014

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SIGN THIEF REVEALED! Rich Lambkin, MCOE Director of Human Resource, was caught in a MCOE neighbor's yard trying to take Warren Galletti's campaign sign down. Consistent with the history of an agency synonymous with incompetence, Lambkin was unable to remove the sign and spotted in the act of doing it.

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RE THE WILLITS BYPASS, a reader writes: The truth is (as far as I can see) the latest last-gasp attempt to “downsize” the northern interchange has more potential of bearing positive results than any other efforts since the bypass was funded in 2012. The proposal actually is to eliminate altogether the huge northern interchange that’s being built to accommodate the 4-lane bypass Caltrans says it will come back and build later, and to get travelers on and off the 2-lane bypass that is actually being built via the roundabout on Highway 101 that Caltrans already plans to build.

No, the tree-sitters didn’t succeed in stopping the bypass, not with Jerry Brown in office (Gov. Brown apparently personally dedicated to proving his “Moonbeam” days are over) and with the majority of City of Willits and Mendocino County politicians firmly in favor over the years, and with so many local residents in favor, too (when the California Transportation Commission declined to fund the 4-lane bypass in 2007, they got 500 letters – not emails, not petition signatures, but letters – asking CTC to change their minds). Yes, many of such pro-bypass letter writers didn’t know there wouldn’t be any exits inside the city for locals to use, and they didn’t understand that the purpose of the Willits bypass was not to solve traffic congestion inside Willits. They will likely be sorely disappointed.

Anyway, this “downsizing” effort won’t stop the bypass either, of course, and as City Councilwoman Madge Strong says, at this point stopping the bypass – leaving it partially built out there as Mark Scaramella has envisioned – would be the worst outcome. But if Caltrans would agree to abandon this interchange needed only for a future 4-lane freeway that none of us are likely to see, it will save money, lessen impacts, save time on the already-behind construction schedule (started late, not just due to protests), help make it possible for mitigation that CT has promised but does not now have sufficient funds to pay for to actually happen, and help solve the impasse we are at right now between the water board and Caltrans, without the water board totally abandoning its oversight responsibilities.

Holly is publicly behind these efforts; the other three candidates are not. Holly has a long history and record of working and voting against Caltrans’ vision of a bypass – see her efforts at Willits City Council and Mendocino Council of Governments to release local matching funds put away for the bypass to use for local traffic projects, and her trip to Sacramento in spring 2010 where she stood up in a room full of bypass supporters and asked the California Transportation Commission not to fund the Willits bypass.

Holly also has a history of promoting a reasonable common-sense alternative for traffic relief in Willits: the Baechtel Road Railroad Avenue corridor. At the recent forum, Hal and Tom both suggested that supporting such a corridor was stupid: “no money” “got to focus on priorities.” But this corridor is a priority for Willits: last year, the Baechtel Road Railroad Avenue corridor was identified as the top planning goal for the City of Willits, with all five councilmembers agreeing that the corridor was a top or near-top priority. To repeat: the councilmembers know, even if some of their constituents don’t, that the Willits bypass will not solve traffic congestion problems in Willits.

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A YOUNG, RICH KID goes berserk in Isla Vista and guns down random other young people from his BMW because he's unlucky in love, at least that's the implication of what he suggests in his pre-rampage video.

I'd suppose the root cause is the boy's sense of entitlement in the larger secure upper middleclass parental context of Everyone Gets Straight A's and Everyone Gets a Trophy and Everyone Gets Whatever He or She Wants Right Now! Which is much more prevalent among the comfortable classes than it is in, say, Boonville or Ukiah where there aren't very many rich kids, although there are lots of people who've ridden The Big Comfort Wave and raise their kids in the same kind of psycho-social ambiance as Little Lord Gun 'Em Down.

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Historic Presentation by Humboldt Author-Activist Greg King

Radicals and Real Estate in the California Redwoods

A Personal History of the Ancient Redwood Ecosystem and the Struggles to Protect It

Gualala Arts Center, Thursday, June 12, 2014, 7:00 p.m. $5 Admission

Sponsored by the Friends of the Gualala River

Greg King is an award-winning and nationally published Humboldt County writer and photographer who is credited with discovering and naming Headwaters Forest, in 1987, when he was a leader of Humboldt Earth First!. In this June 12 presentation, “The Ghost Forest,” at 7:00 p.m. in the Coleman Auditorium at Gualala Arts Center, King examines this intense era of ancient redwood liquidation by Maxxam Corp., the equally fervent efforts to save the last of this unparalleled ecosystem, and the current state of the forest. King played a critical role in protecting Headwaters Forest. His talk explores the natural history of the redwood ecosystem, illustrated by his own beautiful and widely-published photos. His presentation also chronicles the redwood’s wider collision with Western humanity and discusses key elements of state, federal and corporate timber policy.

King moved to Humboldt County from Sonoma County in 1987 specifically to fight Maxxam’s liquidation of the last significant ancient redwood groves outside of parks. During the 19th century King’s family owned one of Sonoma County’s largest redwood mills, the King-Starrett Mill in Monte Rio. The King Ranch in Sonoma County and the King Range Mountains in Humboldt County are named for his ancestors. In 1999, King founded the non-profit Smith River Project, dedicated to protecting California’s wildest river, and in 2004 he founded Siskiyou Land Conservancy, a land trust. He is currently writing a book, The Ghost Forest, a history of the redwood ecosystem and redwood logging and protection efforts. His latest book, Rumors of Glory, the co-written memoir of Canadian rock star Bruce Cockburn, will be published by HarperOne in November 2014. (Cockburn performs in Humboldt County the night before this presentation, on April 16, at the Mateel Community Center in Redway.)

“Over and over, Greg King told himself that this butchery had to be stopped. Not just controlled, not just regulated, but stopped — altogether, in its tracks, and once and for all.” — David Harris, The Last Stand.

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The sea is calm to-night.

The tide is full, the moon lies fair

Upon the straits; on the French coast the light

Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand;

Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.

Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!

Only, from the long line of spray

Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,

Listen! you hear the grating roar

Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,

At their return, up the high strand,

Begin, and cease, and then again begin,

With tremulous cadence slow, and bring

The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago

Heard it on the A gaean, and it brought

Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow

Of human misery; we

Find also in the sound a thought,

Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith

Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore

Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.

But now I only hear

Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,

Retreating, to the breath

Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear

And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true

To one another! for the world, which seems

To lie before us like a land of dreams,

So various, so beautiful, so new,

Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,

Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;

And we are here as on a darkling plain

Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,

Where ignorant armies clash by night.

— Mathew Arnold

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by Dan Bacher

In spite of the millions spent by Big Oil on lobbying in Sacramento every year, the California Senate Appropriations Committee today voted 4 to 2 to approve a bill, SB 1132, to place a moratorium on fracking (hydraulic fracturing) in the state.

SB 1132, authored by Senators Holly Mitchell and Mark Leno, now moves to a vote on the Senate floor. Senators Gaines and Walters voted against the bill while Senators De León, Padilla, Hill and Steinberg voted to advance the bill to the floor.

The bill moved forward the same week that the U.S. Energy Administration reduced its previous estimate of recoverable oil in California by 96 percent.

“The cost-benefit analysis of fracking in California has just changed drastically," said Senator Mitchell in a statement. "The costs to people, homes and the environment remain unacceptably high, but we now also know that the projected economic benefits are only a small fraction of what the oil industry has been touting."

“The latest report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration reduces prior estimates of oil potential by 96%. Why put so many at risk for so little?" Mitchell asked.

“There’s no ocean of black gold that fracking is going to release tomorrow, leaving California awash in profits and jobs. We have the time, the need and, in SB 1132, the mandate to halt fracking while we determine if and how it can be done safely in California," she said.(

David Turnbull of Oil Change International pointed out that those who voted against the legislation received big campaign contributions from Big Oil. (

"As usual, those voting against safeguarding the public interest and in favor of Big Oil’s wishes have received far more in Big Oil political contributions than those voting in favor of climate and community safety and against dangerous oil extraction processes," he said.

The numbers, according to the organization's Dirty Energy Money database, tell the story:

On average, Senators voting against the moratorium have received nearly 3 times as much in Big Oil contributions than those voting for

The two Senators voting against the moratorium have received over $110k in Big Oil money combined (Sen. Walters = $82k, Sen. Gaines = $29k)

"As the vote comes to the California Senate floor in the coming days, you can be sure the oil industry will put the pressure on. The question is whether the members of the California Senate will listen to the people, who recent polls show resoundingly support a moratorium on fracking, or the Big Oil benefactors lining their campaign coffer," said Turnbull.

"And, of course, Governor Brown could also step in any time now and enact a ban on fracking in the State…but so far he appears to be listening to his Big Oil friends as well," noted Turnbull.

A previous analysis by Oil Change International showed that the 2 Senators voting against the the passage of fracking moratorium by the Senate Environmental Quality Committee in April received 16 times as much in fossil fuel contributions, on average, than those Senators in support of the bill.

The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) that is leading the campaign to frack California spends more money every year on lobbying in Sacramento than any other corporate group. Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create alleged "marine protected areas" in Southern California, is the President of the Association.

In her latest statement on the Western States Petroleum Association blog, Reheis-Boyd claims, "The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA), revision does not change the estimate of the amount of oil present. It only changes their estimate of how much of that oil can be produced given the current state of technology in California." (“technically-recoverable”-oil-california’s-monterey-shale-formation)

She used the new estimate as an an opportunity to promote new "research and exploration," which you can bet would be subsidized by taxpayers' dollars.

"This change in the estimate of recoverable oil indicates the need to continue to invest in research and exploration in this area to adapt technologies that have proved successful at producing oil from shale resources elsewhere to California’s unique geology," she claimed. "We have a great deal of confidence that the skill, experience and innovative spirit possessed by the men and women of the petroleum industry will ultimately solve this puzzle and improve production rates from the Monterey Shale."

Reheis-Boyd's organization spent a total of $5,331,493 in 2009, $4,013,813 in 2010, $4,273,664 in 2011, $5,698,917 in 2012 and $4,670,010 in 2013 on lobbying at the State Capitol - and spent $1,456,785 in just the first 3 months of 2014. ( You can bet that a good chunk of this money spent so far this year was spent on trying to stop Senate Bill 1132.

A report released on April 1, 2014 by the ACCE Institute and Common Cause also reveals that Big Oil's combined spending on lobbying and political campaigns in Sacramento amounts to a stunning $266.9 million over the past 15 years. (

However, the oil industry's money, power and enormous influence over state officials doesn't change the fact that the Energy Information Administration's estimate for technically recoverable oil in the Monterey Shale has been reduced from 13.7 billion barrels of oil to just 0.6 billion barrels of oil.

As Turnbull said so well, "With reports showing the bonanza that Big Oil wants Californians believe is largely a fantasy, and two-thirds of Californians supporting a stop to fracking in the state, Big Oil is on its heels. It’s time the people’s voice was heard over rustle of Big Oil dollar."

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Confessions of a Coffee Jock

by Robert Mailer Anderson

(1996) Johnny Lunchbox was a workhorse with a lick-the-boot mentality. Clocking time. Waiting for his day to come, until out of boredom or necessity, he tied himself off with the brown junk. Just a taste; take it or leave it. But the euphoric sense of speed was overwhelming. He started each sip wanting another. Caffeine mainline. Liquidity. He made the six o'clock stroll to the cafe every morning, staying up later each night unable to sleep or dream or blink. You don't know a town until you've seen it sleep. Same as a woman. Then you can't wake up to the same face anymore; your own. Five generations of ghosts haunting every step, buried with Cala lilies, the grinding of an accordion, wheezing bagpipes, a roller piano; “Kiss me once, kiss me twice, kiss me once again, it's been a long, long time.” He knew the history etched in every epitaph. City hall burned. Creamery stood over there. Family had two houses the size of a city block with a big backyard, leveled for a gas station. Dogs hit by cars, running into streets as if they had swallowed magnetized bones. Sadie, Pal, Hank. He was going down too. Anxiety headaches. TMJ. Quality time ticking. Cold-turkey. Binge. Schizophrenic with everything but the pour; doppio, doppio, doppio. Clouds of foam billowing...

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Bankrupt. I own 24% of an espresso bar inside a bookstore that has gone bankrupt. Dead animal. Lights off; mountain of mail on their counter, misshelved books, dust collecting, register removed from sight, no employees. Confused customers. I serve coffee inside this carcass, like Jonah bailing water from inside the whale, learning fast the language of lawyers, landowners, lessors, brokers, businessmen, potential investors, and the multitude of freaks who just want to talk. 80¢ buys my attention. I'm always on. Stringing people out on chit-chat, eye contact, spontaneous performance art, and caffeine. My life is a Mamet play; “Coffee's for closers.”

“Thanks a latte.”

I'll kill the next Kentfield housewife ordering a double half-caf vanilla soy mocha, flat with no chocolate, in a medium cup to stay. Who changes her mind? “Sorry, is it too late to just get a small decaf to go?” Not if you want to Fed-Ex this vegan speedball to some starving child in China or East Oakland who's willing to drink it cold, and pay for the pleasure. “But I don't want it.” Then why did you order it? “I don't know?” What am I supposed to do? “Give it to the next customer.” He wants a large coffee with room for cream, no lid. “How do you know?” Because he's ordered a large coffee with room for cream, no lid, every day for two years, and if he ordered something else I wouldn't give it to him. “What about the woman behind him?” Non-fat latte, extra chocolate. “Then we'll have to wait.” My life is a Beckett play.

The best theater takes place at the front of the line where there are plenty of games to play, including “customer's always right,” “stump the barrista,” “the great menu discovery,” “spill liquid spill,” and my favorite, “suddenly I'm a moron who doesn't now how to complete a simple cash transaction in a coffee shop when seconds earlier I was a successful businessman driving a $50,000 BMW.” Of course there are games barristas play: “Any milk will do,” “Certainly that's decaf,” “Coming right up,” and “No change for a $20.” There is also the improv that comes with overcaffeination: singing, dancing, swearing. Speaking in tongues. Bad jokes.

• Q: What's the difference between Neal Armstrong and Michael Jackson? A: Neal Armstrong walked on the moon, and Michael Jackson's a pedophile.

• Q: What's the difference between a crucifixion and a circumcision? A: In a crucifixion you throw out the whole Jew...

• A homeless guy opens the door and screams he's suing me because I'm responsible for the death of his brother, the S&L scam, Moses having only ten commandments, and JFK getting whacked in Texas. A woman wearing day-glo make-up, squeezed into a prom dress two sizes too small, screeches at the top of her lungs the song of all tortured souls. Someone takes a bath in the bathroom. No tub. The toilets are clogged with shit, stir sticks and a Victoria's Secret catalog. I don't want to know. Another indigent goes for the double-cup small-in-a-large scam (after receiving a small coffee in two large coffee cups, doubled because “it's too hot to carry,” the bum splits the coffee into the two large cups, filling them to the rim with half and half, creating two large au laits for the price of one small coffee. Cafe owners note: Milk, especially half-and-half, is significantly more expensive than coffee). Reagan's plan of “trickle down neurotics,” opening institutions and setting loose the loonies, is working. The insane are everywhere.

I remember a time in this town when if a man laid on the sidewalk, something was wrong. Now it's commonplace. Everyone is on the ground and it's just a question of which toes you're going to step on. Who's going to get the three count? The politically correct, the police, business owners, the environment, drugs, alcohol, indifference, apathy. Human kindness. People protesting soup kitchens. Christians, cannibals? I look at the mission, pink stucco surrounded by palm trees, backdrop of hills and cloudless sky. St. Raphael. I remember mass in Latin, hail marys, rosary beads. Site of my parents and grandparents marriage. Crosses to bear. If God gave his approval to that kind of sufferathon, he can give the nod to anything. I want to know, right along with Daniel Woodrell, what would have happened if they didn't crucify Christ? Would the world be different if they had only implemented a little Boonville justice? Took him out back and beat the holy shit out of him?

“Do you have a soy substitute?”


Telephone rings. It's my mother. She calls at a quarter to nine when the caffeine jones is coming down chaotic on our customers like a million monkeys descending the trees for a single banana. And they're about to be late for work. Dawn of the Dead. Man with the Golden Arm. “No Mom I can't talk now,” I say, scalding myself with the steamer wand, another tribal scar. Mark of the multitasker. Foam spurting in pornographic fashion. Money shot. “I love you too, Mom.” Rattle of coins in tip jar. I end every phone conversation — bakery add-ons, bill collectors, wrong numbers — with, “I love you too, Mom.” Watch the quarters tumble, singles stuffed into the coffee can. You have to work the tip jar — “Nice hair, great dress, fabulous shoes.” “How's Grandma in Des Moines?” “Go Niners!”

“I like my women the way I like my cake, white and moist. Unfortunately, she's like day-old coffee, cold and bitter.”

A dock worker at sea amidst the flotsam of middle aged Marin housewives wants his third double espresso. They want decaf nonfat lattes, “Why Bothers.” I want to drink my green health shake, spirulina, mushroom extract, algae. Hedging my bets. Wheat grass and cocaine. Carrot juice and single malt. Cigars and a jog up Mt. Tam. He asks why I would drink such a toxic looking mess. I tell him, “It tastes alright and it's supposed to be good for you.” He says, “That's what they said about pussy!” Housewives freeze like hood ornaments. No rebuttal; Keely Smith is singing “Bewitched, bothered and bewildered.” I slide the guy his drink free; an award for the most offensive statement of the month. Sometimes you don't have to wait for all the entries.



“Frozen latte?”

“Cafe booté?”

“Squeeze me?”

“Baking Powder?”

Starbucks. Corporate America eroding the fabric of our lives. Advertising dollars at work. Elaborate lies about the quality of coffee sold by the millions. Billions served. McCoffee. The same people who brought you the Gulf War, a hole in the ozone, the five-second attention span. They've mallified America, destroyed your downtown, killed Mom and Pop's corner store, now they're back to build in the graveyard. Pick on the bones of your hometown. One flavorless flavor über alles. “But they give to the community.” Like GM gave to Flint, Michigan. Exxon gives to the environment. Next time you're in Starbucks, ask to talk to the owner. Not the manager or a 1-800 number, the owner. See if he's around making foam, stacking milk crates, counting out change. Starbucks customers always ask what happened to the bookstore or the nice people that ran the quaint shop that used to be down the street. I tell them, “You killed them.”

Pop Quiz: I should a) choose quality coffee and a local business, b) support Seattle and a faceless corporation, c) walk up and down the street looking confused.

Caffeine and Cole Porter coursing through my veins, I fall into a rhythm, the camaraderie of the morning crowd; men and women on their way to work. I enjoy the interaction, strangers becoming acquaintances, friends... A community. Playfully joking, recounting boxscores, birthday dinners, movie reviews. Headlines. Daily life. The anonymous anxiety that permeates each and every one of us living with the foregone conclusion of apocalypse. Still making the gesture. Getting up early to battle windmills. Pay the rent. Mow the lawn. Dignity. Hope. I feel partially responsible for this atmosphere, this unnamed enthusiasm, for creating this space. But by the end of my shift, I can't make another latte. All foamed out. I lean back against the refrigerator, sliding to the ground, floor mats sticking to my jeans like honeycomb, contemplating Caffe Valeska from a new angle. Cash register looming like a God. I know the real problem, the true source of my neurosis: I'm not a morning person.

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