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Mendocino County Today: Tuesday, June 3, 2014

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JOHN DICKERSON'S PENSION REFORM CONFERENCE, held May 10 in San Rafael has come and gone almost without a trace. Dickerson is the self-described “financial analyst” who is attempting to turn his personal obsession with Mendocino County officialdom into a paying gig as a “pension reformer.” Dickerson's resume includes a stint as Executive Director of the Mendocino County Promotional Alliance. Before he got canned from that job Dickerson famously told the Grand Jury to shove it when they timidly asked him how the Promotional Alliance was spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars annually. Then he was the Chief Financial Officer of a winery as it plunged into bankruptcy. He was later hired as the Executive Director of the Employer's Council of Mendocino County, a lobbying group for local inheritance princes. He got fired when the City of Ukiah shut the lights off for not paying the office utility bill. His millionaire bosses were not amused, but John D. was too busy working on his own projects to sweat the small details like paying the bills for the wealthy wanks who hired him. For the last several years Dickerson has tried to promote himself as a pension reformer.


DICKERSON HAS MADE SEVERAL ATTEMPTS to form a “citizen's coalition” to hold local government officials accountable, but so far has struck out each time. The plan is that the coalition would need to hire a full time executive director, and who better than John D? But so far it hasn't worked out that way. So Dickerson recently broadened his approach to include Marin, Contra Costa and other Bay Area counties. Dickerson, a self-described “life-long Democrat” (and whenever someone says that you know they voted for every Republican from Ronald Reagan to Mitt Romney) comes across more as a Tea Party fanatic. Hence, the emphasis on invoking Democrats as a shield to provide credibility. But if you are relying on Democrats to burnish your image, the cause is already lost.

THE CONFERENCE was advertised as the County Pension Reform — Bay Area Region Conference. As described by Dickerson, the conference focused on counties that have independent pension funds “including Six Bay Area Counties — Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Mendocino, San Mateo, Sonoma.” (Emphasis in the original.) Which may be the first time that Mendocino has ever been included as a Bay Area County. But Dickerson is famous for his “adjustments” to make the facts fit his pre-determined conclusions.

DICKERSON MANAGED to line up Democrat Chuck Reed, Mayor of San Jose, as his keynote speaker, to balance out Duf Sundheim, former chair of the California Republican Party, and a bunch of right wing pension bloggers. Dickerson rounded out the conference with a couple of panels made up of elected officials and wanna be elected officials.

THE PANEL OF ELECTED OFFICIALS, drawn from the six Bay Area counties, included only one supervisor, Mendocino County's own Dan Gjerde, and two city councilmembers from Marin: Larry Chu from Larkspur and Linda Pfeifer from Sausalito. Dickerson was forced to include a couple of city councilmembers because only Gjerde, alone out of 30 county supervisors in the six counties, was willing to participate in Dickerson's dog and pony show. Which forced Dickerson to include the two city councilmembers. And most cities certainly have their own problems with pensions. But the cities are in Calpers, which is a completely different pension system governed by a completely different set of laws, so their experience could have added little to a county pension reform conference. Which means the conference was lumbering to get off the ground before it started.

NEXT UP WERE THE WANNABE elected officials, including Assembly candidate John Lowry, Ken Churchill who is running for supervisor in Sonoma County, and Willits Mayor Holly Madrigal who is running for third district county supervisor here in Mendocino. Madrigal is also on the “steering committee” for the Reform Our County Coalition. The “Coalition” is Dickerson's latest attempt to form an organization that can pay him to keep stirring the pension reform pot. Dickerson recently re-packaged his previous criticisms and re-issued them as a report titled “Questions About Mendocino County's Unfunded Pension Debt and Analysis of That Debt.”

DICKERSON ALSO DRAFTED a letter from Concerned Citizens of Mendocino County addressed to the Board of Supervisors, CEO, County Auditor/Controller, County Treasurer/Tax Collector, Board of Retirement, and Major Mendocino County Bargaining Units. The letter asks the recipients to answer the questions in Dickerson's recycled report and to “confirm or deny their analysis and conclusions.” Except the analysis and conclusions are purely Dickerson's and the questions are mostly rhetorical. The Concerned Citizens want to know: Is it true that the recipients of the letter looted the pension fund? (At least for most of their predecessors, the answer is a resounding “yes.”) And are the recipients still doing so, or have they stopped? (And the answer is Yes, once the whistle was blown, they stopped, but major damage had already been done.)

SUPERVISOR JOHN MCCOWEN, who also sits on the Board of Retirement, has already weighed in with a memo that says Dickerson's report “lacks credibility” and “is characterized by false and misleading statements” and for those reasons it would not be a good use of staff time to respond to the lengthy list of questions. Say what you will about McCowen, but along with his colleague, Johnny Pinches, he is on the short list of local politicians who are willing to say what they mean without mincing words and without testing the political winds. McCowen and Dickerson have sparred on pension issues for years, most notably on a show hosted by John Sakowicz on KZYX. The full account can be found in our AVA archives for Mendocino County Today September 5, 2012. Dickerson had just published comments on his blog quoting “Moody's new calculations” describing Mendocino County's unfunded pension liability. McCowen challenged Dickerson to provide a copy of the report with Moody's calculations for Mendocino County. Dickerson had to admit that no such report existed and that the calculations were his, not Moody's.

DICKERSON WAS RIGHT to expose the phony “excess earnings” charade that allowed the Board of Retirement to siphon off millions of dollars from the pension fund to pay for retiree health. Which allowed the Supervisors to offer a significant benefit to the employees without having to worry about how to pay for it, at least at the time. And he is correct to question the rosy assumptions that investing in the Wall Street Ponzi scheme will yield sufficient returns to pay off the unfunded liability and the future pension obligation. Like every other aspect of state and national finance, the retirement system is a slo mo train wreck unfolding before our eyes. But Dickerson has yet to offer anything in the way of a solution.

DICKERSON SEEMS TO HAVE CONVINCED his followers that the County and the Retirement Board are in denial that they have a huge prob staring them in the face. Which is why Holly Madrigal stood up at the Board of Supervisor's recent workshop on the pension system and cheerily said, “It's just like being an alcoholic, you have to admit you have a problem before you can deal with it.” But if the County is unaware of the problem, why did they cut the workforce by a third, reduce wages 10%, eliminate retiree health care, and pay out millions more every year in contributions to the pension fund? In fact, right before her comments, Madrigal had just sat through a lengthy presentation full of doom and gloom about the County's unfunded pension debt and the limited options available to the County. But Madrigal was unable to depart from her prepared script.

MS. MADRIGAL IS IN THE CURIOUS position of having been endorsed by John Dickerson, who is a pension alarmist, and by SEIU, which thinks the unfunded liability “is a false issue intended to do away with public pensions” as recently stated by local SEIU President Helen Michael. Madrigal has also pledged to pay off County debt and to fix the roads in Mendocino County. Which means there would be no money left over for wage increases. In short, Madrigal is in favor of everything you are in favor of. We can figure out how to pay for it later.

DICKERSON'S CONFERENCE drew a fair amount of pre-event hype, with stories highlighting appearances by Mayor Reed, Supervisor Gjerde and others, but post event accounts are scarce. Right after the conference Dickerson posted a brief note saying the conference took place, videos would be posted in a week or two and please check back. But over three weeks later there has been no follow-up. There were a couple of blog entries saying participants were upset that the State legislature had failed to eliminate any future use of excess earnings, but the excess earnings horse is long out of the barn. And the Mendocino County Retirement Board revised its excess earnings policy years ago to prohibit use of excess earnings for anything but pensions until the system is 100% funded. And Dickerson's report highlights that the “current plan” is to pay off the unfunded liability (thereby fully funding the plan) in 2040. Which means excess earnings is not a problem for the foreseeable future.

IF DICKERSON, GJERDE, MADRIGAL or anyone else has written an account of the conference, in whole or in part, we have yet to see it. It may be too early to say the conference was a bust, but if it was intended to highlight Dickerson's latest report or build support for his coalition, the results so far appear to be underwhelming. But the odds of Dickerson letting go of his current obsession anytime soon are about as long as the County paying off the unfunded liability.

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Open letter to Elected Officials, Agencies and Decision-Makers,

There is still an opportunity for common sense: to redefine phase 1 of the northern interchange of the Willits Bypass by using only the roundabout portion of the current design. We request a high-level meeting of citizens' representatives, Caltrans, and agency officials with the authority to evaluate the feasibility and direct this design modification.

This simple design modification can be done by a change order to the existing contract without any delay or disruption of work. In fact, it would expedite the project by as much as six months (the estimated time to truck 900,000 cu. yards of fill to bury the northern area wetlands). This redesign would also:

  • Save money (an estimated $15 million) that could go toward mitigation and other as-yet unfunded aspects of the project;
  • Reduce destruction of wetlands from the project by a full half. Some of the savings could be used to restore the estimated 25 acres somewhat impacted by minor filling in 2013.
  • Meet the requirements of the Water Board to compensate for temporal losses of delayed mitigation;
  • Potentially reduce the need for mitigation that currently takes farmland out of production.
  • Reduce water use for dust control, compaction and pavement;
  • Avoid traffic disruption from unnecessary trucking of fill;
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions of the construction work; and
  • Handle all traffic movements while creating a more efficient and welcoming interface for people coming to and from the City of Willits.

Documentation can be provided on these points.

Further, this change does not preclude the possibility of a future Phase 2, which would expand the bypass to four lanes. However, Phase 2 is not needed to handle realistic projections of traffic volumes nor is it likely to be funded within a decade, if ever. As reported by MCOG in late 2006: "staff believes that a second phase would likely never occur, because of the backlog of transportation needs elsewhere in California."

Finally, this modification would be a tangible, meaningful response to some of the concerns raised in the recent SSTI report [the independent report highly critical of Caltrans]. I believe Caltrans ran roughshod over both facts and local community input in its unwillingness to consider other options. Unfortunately, much of the damage from this over-built bypass has already been done. This small concession - with very substantial benefits - is the least they could still do to correct course.

This request is urgent. Please convene a meeting as soon as possible.


Madge Strong (707) 459-1493

39 Mill Creek Dr., Willits CA 95490

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SUSPICIOUS PERSON -- An officer contacted a suspicious person in the 900 block of South State Street at 9:05 a.m. Thursday and arrrested Rafael Mata, 34, of Ukiah, on suspicion of being under the influence of a controlled substance, possessing drug paraphernalia and violating his probation.

MAN YELLING AT CUSTOMERS -- Caller at Safeway reported at 9:44 a.m. Thursday that a man was yelling at customers and stealing soda. An officer responded and arrested a 29-year-old man for resisting arrested and released him to Ukiah Valley Medical Center.

GRAFFITI -- Caller in the 700 block of South Dora Street reported at 11:12 a.m. Thursday finding graffiti at a school and on a nearby fence and house. A officer took a report.

TRANSIENTS SETTING UP CAMP -- Caller in the 400 block of East Gobbi Street reported at 11:26 a.m. Thursday that a group of transients was setting up camp in the business' parking lot, then went across the street to set up camp. An officer responded and the group left.

MAN THREATENING STORE -- Caller from Kohl's on North Orchard Avenue reported at 3:36 p.m. Thursday that a man told an employee that he was coming to the store and shooting people because he was tired of the billing department calling him. An officer contacted the man, who lives outside the area.

COFFEE TIP JAR STOLEN -- Caller at Starbucks on East Perkins Street reported at 8:30 p.m. Thursday that people in the drive-thru stole the tip jar.

PROWLER -- Caller in the 500 block of South Oak Street reported at 2:54 a.m. Friday hearing a possible prowler. An officer responded and checked the area.

UNDERWEAR BEING STOLEN -- Caller in the 700 block of Waugh Lane reported at 7:59 a.m. Friday that someone was stealing underwear from her apartment.

WINDOW BROKEN -- Caller in the 600 block of North State Street reported at 9:19 a.m. Friday that a car's rear window had been broken, but nothing was taken.

AGGRESSIVE DOG -- Caller on Cresta Drive reported at 11:51 a.m. Friday that a bog dog that lives on the street chased her. An officer responded and advised the owner.

GUN SALUTE -- Caller in the 1300 block of South Dora Street reported at 11:53 a.m. Friday that blanks would be shot the following morning at 8 a.m. for the pancake breakfast's gun salute.

DOG FIGHT -- An officer responded to McDonald's on North Orchard Avenue at 5:20 p.m. Friday for a report of people arguing after a dog fight. An officer responded and cited a 27-year-old Ohio woman for having her dog off-leash.

MAN PASSED OUT IN BATHROOM -- Caller at Walgreens on East Perkins Street reported at 10:06 p.m. Friday that a man was passed out in the bathroom from a possible overdose. An officer responded and arrested a 23-year-old Arcata man for being under the influence of a controlled substance.

BARKING DOG -- Caller in the 100 block of Washington Avenue reported at 4:13 a.m. Saturday that a pitbull had been barking in someone's backyard all night. An officer responded and reported that the area was quiet.

The following were compiled from reports prepared by the Ukiah Police Department regarding calls handled by the Fort Bragg Police Department.

KID NOT IN SCHOOL -- An officer contacted a juvenile who was out of school in the 200 block of South Sanderson Way at 9:19 a.m. Thursday and drove the teen to school.

SOMEONE IN HOUSE -- Caller in the 300 block of South Franklin Street dialed 911 at 10:34 a.m. Thursday and hung up. When reached later the caller said she thought someone had broken in but realized it was her mother-in-law.

I'M NOT MISSING -- Resident came in to the FBPD at 11:48 a.m. Thursday to report that posters were put up saying he was missing.

CAR HIT POLE -- Caller in the 800 block of North Main Street reported at 2:50 a.m. Friday that a car hit a pole. An officer took a report.

DUI ARREST -- An officer stopped a vehicle on the Hare Creek Bridge at 1:44 a.m. Saturday and arrested Cory Dinnel, of Sacramento, on suspicion of driving under the influence.

BURGLARS SELLING HIS STUFF -- Caller in the 400 block of South Whipple Street reported at 1:45 a.m. Saturday that people broke into his house Friday and are now selling his stuff. An officer took a report for burglary.




A 64-year-old Fort Bragg woman was arrested Thursday for allegedly knocking down and injuring her boyfriend, the Fort Bragg Police Department reported.

According to the FBPD, officers responded to a residence in the 100 block of Florence Street in Fort Bragg around 9:40 p.m. May 29 for a report of a domestic violence incident in progress.

When officers arrived, they contacted the victim, who said he was attacked by his girlfriend, Maureen J. Sheridan, 64, who allegedly knocked him to the ground, injuring his hand.

The victim declined medical attention.

Sheridan was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence and booked into Mendocino County Jail under $25,000 bail.




An 18-year-old Fort Bragg woman was arrested last week for alleged possession of methamphetamine, the Fort Bragg Police Department reported.

According to the FBPD, officer contacted the driver of a green Ford Mustang in the 700 block of South Franklin Street at 1:38 p.m. May 27. The vehicle matched the description of one involved in the brandishing of a firearm.

During a search of the car, officers reportedly found a glass pipe commonly used to smoke meth. When one of the car's occupants, Adriana Corona-Ramos, 18, reportedly admitted that the pipe was hers, she was arrested on suspicion of possession of drug paraphernalia.

When officers searched Corona-Ramos' purse, they reportedly found a baggie of meth, and arrested her on suspicion of possessing meth as well.

She was booked into Mendocino County Jail under $10,000 bail.




A 27-year-old Clearlake man was arrested last month when he reportedly led officers on a high-speed chase shortly after being released from jail, the Ukiah Police Department reported.

According to the UPD, Benjamin D. Pope, 27, of Lake County, was released from the Mendocino County Jail in Ukiah around 4 p.m. May 21. After being picked up by a family member, Pope reportedly took the car keys and immediately began driving recklessly "in an apparent rush to get out of town."

Pope was spotted by an officer as he was headed eastbound on Low Gap Road and reportedly moved into the left-hand lane to pass several cars waited at the stop sign at Bush Street and drove through the intersection without stopping, heading up Bush Street at a high rate of speed.

Pope then headed east on Empire Drive, south on North State Street and turned eastbound onto Brush Street, making a U-turn in a large field and heading westbound back to North State Street before reaching Highway 101.

Several callers reporting seeing a silver vehicle matching the description of Pope's being driven recklessly on Hwy 101, and officers learned the vehicle had also been involved in a hit-and-run collision in Willits.

The following day, May 22, officers learned Pope had been arrested in Crescent City, and he was later transported to Mendocino County Jail, where he was booked on suspicion of reckless vehicular evasion and being under the influence of a controlled substance.

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Mendocino County Office of Education has been sponsoring medical assistant training through the Career Technical Education program since 2003. Instructors IvaJo Otto, RN, Cassandra Andich, RN, and Sandy Peters were pleased to recognize 21 students who completed their 420 hours of administrative and clinical medical assistant training at a graduation ceremony on Friday, May 16, 2014.

The graduates will be qualified to take the California Certified Medical Assistant exam to become a certified medical assistant after completing 180 extern hours. The following students completed both the administrative and clinical classroom instruction:

Jessica Alvarez, Rachel Bostick, Destiny Giumelli, Kevin Gonzalez, Jessica Hensley, Silvia Iniguez, Roselia Jauregui, Jillian LaMere, Erica Lemons, Marisela Lopez, Tracy McGill, Sarah Moreno-Valdez, Jessica Reyes, Cristina Rodriguez, Ruby Sanchez, Jaclyn Shook, Brianna Solis, Roshelle Thomas, Boni Velasco, Baylee Williams, and Araceli Zamora.

L/R First Row: Sandy Peters, Cassandra Andich, Jessica Reyes, Baylee Williams, Silvia Iniguez, Rachel Bostick, Ruby Sanchez, IvaJo Otto and Tovy. Second Row: Jessica Hensley, Jillian LaMere, Jackie Shook, Brianna Solis, Rosie Jauregui, Destiny Giumelli, Cristina Rodriguez, Araceli Zamora, Marisela Lopez, Boni Velasco. Back Row — Tracy McGill, Roshelle Thomas, Sarah Moreno, Erica Lemons, Kevin Gonzalez, Jessica Alvarez

The Bureau of Labor Statistics cites that employment is projected to grow much faster than average, ranking medical assistants among the fastest growing occupations over the 2014–24 decade. The next medical assistant class will begin on August 12, 2014. Applications are now available. For more information about the medical assistant training program, please visit the Mendocino County Office of Education/CTE website at or call 467-5123.

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Dear Editor,

Locals and Valley guests gathered in the Redwood Grove, Sunday, May 25, for another wonderful dinner orchestrated by the Lions. This was a fundraiser for the ElderHome so included a silent auction. For a change in AV fundraising protocol we added a grab bag event. Two tables of colorful bags with a hint of what was inside were set up with many happy buyers. Another table held brown bags of white ($10) and red ($20) wines. All wines had a much higher value, some three times as much. Everyone seemed delighted with their surprise.

The ElderHome Board and Volunteers want to thank everyone that came and contributed to a lovely evening. Special thanks go to the Lions for a job well done, Philo Ridge for donating all of the wine, and to DJ Pete for keeping us uplifted with great music.

Once again we all enjoyed a supportive community event.

Thank you!

Maureen Bowman, AVEH Board President


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Warmest spiritual greetings, Just sharing with you that on Sunday I made my way to the Krishna temple on Esplanade in New Orleans. Went into a street level entrance to find the leftovers of a previous prasadam serving, and nobody around. So, I enjoyed some prasadam. Then, went upstairs through the front door, to discover that the door to the back rooms now has a security lock and NO ADMITTANCE sign, and also noticed voices coming from inside of the office. So, I went down the stairs to the deity room at precisely 5PM...went inside...there was a stick of incense lit on the altar, and nobody around. Took a handful of the rosewater, etc. nectar and then pranamed Srila Prabhupad on his chair in the back of the room. Then, proceeded to chant to the deities for awhile. Nobody came in, so I gave them a huge smile, danced a bit, and left the temple complex. Took a #91 bus back toward the French Quarter, chanting the mahamantram silently, until eventually getting back to the west bank late, sitting on the levee wall under a sliver of a silver moon. An interesting truth emerges here, that it really is (dualistically speaking) all about the relationship between the devotee and deity. And then there is the deeper mystical fact of Oneness...(to be continued)...Bhakta Craig at an Algiers Point public library computer. HARE KRISHNA!

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I was born in the century of the death of the rose,

After the motor had put the angles to flight.

Quito was watching the last stagecoach roll by

And the trees stood by in good order

As it went past the houses and the hedges

Of the new parishes on the threshold of the country

Where the slow cows chewed on the silence,

And the wind spurred its swift horses.

My mother, wrapped in the setting sun,

Put her youth away in a deep guitar,

And only on certain evenings show her children,

Enveloped in music, light and words.

How I loved the water writing on the windowpane.

The yellow gnats from the apple trees,

And the toads that would from time to time

Sound their fat wooden bells.

The great sail of the air endlessly maneuvered,

The cordellera was a shore to the sky.

Storms would come and as the drum rolled

Its drenched regiments charged,

Until the golden patrols of the sun

Restored translucent peace to the fields.

I watched burly men embrace sheaves of barley,

Loping horsemen sink into the sky,

And lowing oxen trundle laden carts

Down to the mango-fragrant coast.

I recall a valley with farms

Where the dawn set off a trickle of roosters,

And to the west a land where sugarcane

Waved its peaceful banners, and cacao trees

Stored in coffers their secret fortune,

The pineapple stood girded in a fragrant cuirass;

The nude banana, stripped of its silken tunic.

It has all passed in successive waves

As have the useless ciphers of sea foam,

All Entangled in seaweed like the years;

And memory scarcely the drowned face

Of a water-lily looming in the depths.

The guitar is only a coffin for songs,

And the head-wounded rooster laments.

All the angels have emigrated,

Even the dark angel of the cacao tree.

— Jorge Carrera Andrade

(Translated by Bruce McEwen.)

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by William J. Hughes

Day IV (Final Installment of a Four-Part report)

Start back, slowly, respectfully, to Lodge Grass and down to Ranchester, Wyoming.

Turn right into Wyoming below the Big Horn Mtns.

Can’t quite remember if it was Ranchester or Dayton, so let’s call them both lovely towns, with lovely city parks beside a lovely Tongue River, more October than November.

Wanting to see the Connor Battlefield and what that was all about (I can guess) but gates across the river and into the more October are closed shut.

Lovely town if you like “homo” behind your back from some Wyoming slackers in the food-mart-gas-up.

I’m pretty sure, since, again, I’m wearing a black beret, Jim Morrison sunglasses and a Che logo T-shirt.

The Big Horn Mts. Great jawbone, broad shoulders, jutting jaw, slanted, like an indication north into the heavens.

I’m taking it all in at a broad historical turnout for the Bozeman Trail.

Some more settlers settling matters with some more locals.

But the Big Horn are “Old man mountains/they just keep standing there as before…”

No snow. Thanks. These non-flashing signs that say if flashing turn back.

Up, the day as clear as the bells on a Cheyenne dancer’s ankles.

Dark pines, deeper dark in the bright light, dinosaur rocks sticking out from the butterscotch rocks.

Up, curving, twisting, the high plateau below doing a David Lean audition, unfolding like the carpet of the earth.

Up, into these singular mountains, out of view of the plateau, not exactly peaks, more like clinched fists of rock, gray, & travertine, clumps & blocks, white snow like spats in the dark piney shade, a green glade, a gray beard of a cliff, down and into, silence like no one as ever been before.

Walking on the moon, with oxygen, before it was a total gray wasteland.

Slowly, gradually coming down, the only mountain climbing I think I’d enjoy, not scaling, not conquering, enjoying from the comfort of the contained cab. Modern man? I’ve walked in the snow prints of the grizzly bears, so please bear me the indulgences.

The other side of the Big Horns. Where you from? I’m from the other side of the Big Horns. Yellowstone. Your one mountain man friend.

He’d be a Greek mountain man because up ahead, heading down to another high plateau, is Thermopolis, Wyoming.

Down through Greybull, starting not to notice too much; you know, headed back, headed home to the mail and the phone and the doorbell.

Worland. Stop. There’s Ten Sleep, out there on Rt. 16. Tempted, tempted, tempted; you know, you start heading home, you start to lean that way. I’ll sleep on it tonight on the other side of Casper.

Leaning south, in the world of the Big Horns, the Absarokas and the Rockies, the three wisest men, honored elders, shape shifting the horizons, wiser, older, wisdom, judges, justice in dark robes.

Plato. Thermopolis, Wyoming. ‘World’s Largest Mineral Hot Springs,’ steam rising from the thermal terraces a la Yellowstone Natl. Park, Thermopolis a bit more day spa then backcountry, but a total & pleasant surprise and a reminder of a soothing living here in the land of thermals. Get naked in one with a co-ed and you’ll know/agree.

Very pleasant here, shielded by the aspens and the cottonwoods. I’ll stay for a burger at a McDonald’s and then be on my way.

Wait a gol durn minute here. Down the road a piece.

What in the name of Zeus is this?

It’s the Wind River Canyon, and it’s home to the Gods, where lightning bolts and shield and spears and swords are fashioned, forge, the gorge as black as coal, bright as obsidian, the Cyclop’s cave, the birth of Zeus, deep and narrow, dragon’s teeth and hydra headed hydra’s; journey to the center of the earth, with the silver river running through it like Orion’s Belt.

I need a belt of Jack Daniel’s, my mind on should I try for Sacajawea’s grave on the Wind River rez and their Arapaho language school when I unknowingly, unbelievably found myself inside the Wind River Rock of Ages.

Coming out onto the open prairie, a full grown, full blown Athena, from the Wind River womb, and majestically on down to Shoshone, gateway to the wide open, dry prairie.

Head east full grown man. Casper.

High & dry.

Dead heading back to the barn but still very much alive in the one color painted desert, tan & corn, earth tone dinosaur bones, signs for the Sand Creek Massacre Trail, women & children gunned down the rest area. No rest from the weary of it.

The black buffalo robe of the darkening sky. Casper again? No, push on, push on.

The Douglas has another exit. Four Winds Motel. Shabby and edge of towny. $45. Perfectly. Pakistani. Amazing, always.

Nobody home but them and me. All night, the prairie wind tried to get in.

Day V

Calm & clear, early morning mist, locals getting a morning cup at the morning pumps.

Denver, an easy stage. Plenty of time, the Denver security line always like they’re giving away free airline tickets.

I-25 South to Denver. Will stop inside Denver for Daniel Libeskind’s new art museum. I think I already know what I intend to feel, coming from that native encampment on the Little Bighorn.

Grasslands, in the misty morning, images of Frank Lloyd on horseback. Architect On Horseback to take from Irving Stone’s Jack London Sailor On…

Just lopping along… A Rt. 26 to the east coming up. A Rt. 26 that has Ft. Laramie on it. That Ft. Laramie? Denver who?

Rt. 26 into the beginnings of white man Wyoming, railroad tracks, wagon ruts, iron horses, Indian agents, not much back here but what’s always been here, Indians, cowboys, cavalry, turning off just before the town of Ft. Laramie, across the railroad tracks and into the still rising morning mist and into history.

It’s a scene from Helen Miren’s Queen, where she’s stuck in the river and the great buck appears.

A great mule deer buck, full of antlers, appears in the mist in the uncut field beside the empty entrance station. The buck stands under one lone grandfatherly cottonwood. Nobody but all of him and me.

There’s the white wooden barracks fort, framed perfectly still against the isolated background.

There are some stone ruins, past civilizations in the pastoral mist. I’m so obliged not to have missed this.

The log Ft. Laramie of course is long gone, but not by much, not daring or caring to enter the grounds for fear of disturbing the set piece setting.

What a wrought. Fort Indians, whiskey & government handouts. Come in, stop fighting it. You can’t win. We are the leaves on the trees.

Crazy Horse & Sitting Bull disagreed.

This scene here, a permanent, prominent place among my American memories.

There’s plenty of wide open space back in Denver to contemplate all that’s taken place.

I hadn’t forgotten how shitty it is leading into Denver from Ft. Collins. It’s only shittier now.

Shitty, shitty, shitty, less shitty as the shitty gives way into the central city and its red brick revived neighborhood around the big sterile, Coors Field. I went to a game here awhile back. The big sterile, fans included.

Daniel Libeskind’s new Denver Art Museum extension. With that Denver awhile ago I also did Michael Graves’ chic city library and an outside look at the sheet metal like body armor castle that is the city’s art museum. It didn’t fit in, in Denver.

Libeskind’s thing is awful. It’s cold and sheet metal gray, like the 35º day.

It looks like Frank Gehry in a bad mood, all angles and takeoffs, trying too hard to achieve anything.

Cold & gray, 35º. “Stopped into a church…”

There’s an almost requisite Claes Oldenburg outside, oversized dustbin & broom. It doesn’t entertain me.

I’m in a bad architectural mood. I’ve been in total architectural mood ever since Ken Burns did PBS Wright.

Followed Wright everywhere, and on to Bilboa and Gehry and Piano and Meir and Pei and Hadid, Calatrova and the history of American architecture.

But, I started to drift, Calatrova’s white heron bridge on the Sacramento River up in Redding and then an article on Calatrova in a New Yorker and his unseen Brayilia, Rockefeller’s Albany Plaza in my beloved Valencia. My first bullfight.

Then everything became Richard Meir white and Gehry metal. Piano’s New York Times, Meir out out on Long Island, Calatrova in Milwaukee and much, too much more.

I longed for Wright, a Wright. A tepee, a cave, a lodge house, a Viking hall, a Mississippi mound people.

So, not Daniel Libeskind’s day. 35º and gray.

Back out of the shitty, shitty, shitty, less shitty as the shitty gives way to the still open space, for now, between shitty and the mock snow capped airport.

Fill the tank at the last chance, turn it in, the shuttle, search the bags in an unbelievably short line.

Take the escalator. Take the shuttle train. Read the paper, sip the coffee, bide the time, the great expanses we can cover, wide open and all fenced in and all rounded up.

“Come quick and we can kill them all…” mound people.

So, not Daniel Libeskind’s day. 35º and gray.

Back out of the shitty, shitty, shitty, less shitty as the shitty gives way to the still open space, for now, between shitty and the mock snow capped airport.

Fill the tank at the last chance, turn it in, the shuttle, search the bags in an unbelievably short line.

Take the escalator. Take the shuttle train. Read the paper, sip the coffee, bide the time, the great expanses we can cover, wide open and all fenced in and all rounded up.

“Come quick and we can kill them all…” mound people.

So, not Daniel Libeskind’s day. 35º and gray.

Back out of the shitty, shitty, shitty, less shitty as the shitty gives way to the still open space, for now, between shitty and the mock snow capped airport.

Fill the tank at the last chance, turn it in, the shuttle, search the bags in an unbelievably short line.

Take the escalator. Take the shuttle train. Read the paper, sip the coffee, bide the time, the great expanses we can cover, wide open and all fenced in and all rounded up.

“Come quick and we can kill them all…”

* * *


by Dan Bacher

The California State Senate failed to pass SB 1132 (Mitchell & Leno), legislation that would have stopped hydraulic fracturing and other dangerous well stimulation methods while the state studied their risks.

The vote failed with a tie of 16 to 16, with 8 votes not recorded. The 16 aye votes were Beall, Corbett, De León, DeSaulnier, Evans, Hancock, Jackson, Leno, Lieu, Liu, Mitchell, Monning, Padilla, Pavley, Steinberg and Wolk

The 16 no votes were Anderson, Berryhill, Cannella, Correa, Fuller, Gaines, Galgiani, Hernandez, Huff, Knight, Morrell, Nielsen, Torres, Vidak, Walters, Wyland. The 8 votes not recorded include absentions by Block, Lara, Hill, Hueso and Roth. Three Senators — Calderon, Wright and Yee — can’t and didn’t vote because they are suspended and were not present for the vote.

The defeat of the legislation was undoubtedly due to the huge amounts of money dumped into lobbying the Legislature by the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the largest and most powerful corporate lobbying group in Sacramento, and oil companies.

WSPA alone 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 stopping Senate Bill 1132.

The statewide coalition Californians Against Fracking issued the following statement:

“Despite polls showing a majority of Californians in favor of banning fracking, today the California Senate failed to pass SB 1132 to place a moratorium on fracking. The vote is disappointing but not completely unexpected given that the oil industry has spent a whopping $15 million on lobbying activities to defeat the bill and buy influence in Sacramento.

State lawmakers will continue to face growing concern about fracking pollution from voters in their communities. Californians Against Fracking calls on Governor Brown to protect California's water, agriculture, public health and climate by declaring a moratorium on fracking now. If Governor Brown is serious about fighting climate change and its severe impacts, including droughts and fires, then he must show real leadership and stop the fracking now.”

The statement was issued on behalf of Californians Against Fracking,, Center for Biological Diversity, Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment, CREDO Action, Environment California, Food & Water Watch and Oil Change International.

As the Friday deadline for moving legislation from California’s Senate to the Assembly approaches, Senator Holly J. Mitchell’s bill to set a moratorium on fracking for oil in the state still needed three votes to pass when the Senate recessed Wednesday night, according to a statement from Senator Mitchell's Office.

Mitchell said the SB 1132 elicited "spirited floor debate" before the failure of several senators to vote on the bill left it without the 21 votes needed to advance to the Assembly. Although a motion for reconsideration allows Mitchell to bring the bill up for vote again, unless at least three senators cast favorable votes by Friday, the bill dies for the current legislative session.

“Last year our efforts to enact a moratorium got as far as an Assembly committee, and this year to the floor of the Senate, with more ‘yes’ than ‘no’ votes,” noted Senator Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), who carried a similar bill, AB 1323, while serving in the Assembly. “We have the momentum, this issue’s gone viral nationally, and it’s just a matter of time before the dangers of fracking prompt people to put it on pause until its safety can be established.”

“When the impacts on the public of a for-profit endeavor are unknown, we try it out first in minority neighborhoods – assuming low vigilance and the need to bring in jobs makes safety irrelevant,” said the Senator. “But we’ve put big industry on notice: That ploy won’t fly forever. People’s neighborhoods aren’t fodder for fracking, environmental justice must come, and one day soon the vote to refrain from polluting for profit will prevail!”

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, celebrated the defeat of SB 1132, by stating, "With SB 1132 behind us, let’s now focus on SB 4 implementation."

"Today’s defeat of Senate Bill 1132, legislation that would have imposed a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing and other well stimulation technologies, clears a path for a concerted and collaborative effort to fully implement new statewide regulations embodied in Senate Bill 4," she said.

"The SB 4 regulations put into place a robust set of monitoring, disclosure, testing, land use and research requirements that ensure hydraulic fracturing in California is conducted safely and without harm to the environment. But there is still much to be done to finalize these new regulations and the petroleum industry is going to be a constructive partner in getting them accomplished," Reheis-Boyd claimed.

The oil industry is most powerful corporate lobby in California. A ground breaking report released on April 1, 2014 by the ACCE Institute and Common Cause 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. This massive spending enables the oil industry to effectively buy the votes of many State Assembly Members and Senators.

But the oil industry exerts its influence not just through spending enormous sums on lobbying and contributions to political campaigns, but by serving on state and federal government panels.

In one of the biggest conflicts of interest in California environmental history, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, served as the Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Task Force to create so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California, as well as sitting on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast.

It is no surprise that the alleged "Yosemites of the Sea" created under Reheis-Boyd's "leadership" fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil drilling, pollution, military testing, corporate aquaculture and all human impacts on the ocean other than sustainable fishing and tribal gathering. It is also no surprise that the oil industry was fracking like crazy in Southern California ocean waters at the same time that Reheis-Boyd and MLPA Initiative advocates were greenwashing one of the most corrupt environmental processes in California history.

Unfortunately, the corporate media and many "alternative" media outlets refuse to ever mention this huge conflict of interest in a corrupt "marine protection" process that undoubtedly helped facilitate the oil industry's fracking of California ocean waters.

One Comment

  1. Trelanie Hill June 3, 2014

    From the sept 5, 2012 Ava news service.

    “And increasing numbers of them will continue to fail. But from what we understand, there will be plenty of examples of what public sector bankruptcy looks like before Mendo is forced to take its turn.”

    I’m encouraged by the fact “we”, who I suppose is Bruce and Mark, also believe that Mendocino wii be forced to take it’s turn in bankruptcy.

    Bankruptcy is the legal strategy to solvency for the County. It’s the only option for pension reform.

    Why does most everyone refuse to discuss Bankruptcy? It’s not a swear word, it doesn’t discriminate, it’s not racist, and even the AVA on occasion will agree it’s going to happen. The sooner the pension solution is implemented the easier it will be.
    The County retIrees deserve better. If the County is eventually going to default on their pensions they need to prepare.

    Just my opinion,
    Jim Hill
    Potter Valley

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