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Mendocino County Today: Thursday, June 19, 2014

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GOOD NEWS from the First Appellate District Court. Mendo Superior Court judge Ann Moorman’s 2012 ruling that state rules disallowing vineyard owners to help themselves to the Russian River and its tributaries for frost protection were invalid has been reversed. The growers had packed the judge’s courtroom to whine that the state rules, designed to protect the few fish left in the river, were too onerous.

ALTHOUGH the state had allowed vineyard owners to essentially write their own plans for taking the water, the local wine industry, with typical arrogance, demanded no interference, arguing, basically, that they were responsible people who could be trusted to protect the river despite several spring fish kills for lack of water when numerous vineyard people all pumped at once on frost mornings.

THERE ARE ROUGHLY 60,000 acres of vineyards in the Russian River watershed, of which better than two-thirds are planted within 300 feet of salmonid habitat.

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From the AVA July 3, 2012...

Wine Mob Mau-Mau’s Moorman

The wine people of inland Mendocino County want unimpeded access to the finite waters of the Russian River. Last week this singularly unattractive mob of outback boors pulled off a quiet riot in Judge Ann Moorman’s courtroom, their florid I Want It All Now faces massed to dare the judge to rule against them.

The wine people all say they “love the fish,” but even simple and purely paper procedures to protect the embattled salmon and steelhead runs once lush in the watersheds of Mendocino County are resisted (as are controls on hillside erosion) although they’re already in place in Napa and Sonoma counties, put there by the politically dominant grape industry itself.

But in Mendocino County an orderly draw on the embattled Russian is viewed by the Mendo industry as intrusive, a regulatory handcuffing of our Mexican-dependent sons of the soil.

The ironies are many, beginning with the fact that the state’s Water Agency is trying to help these crybabies elude far more stringent federal regulation. And the crybabies essentially get to write their own guidelines!

The Water Agency merely wants the Mendo wine mob to prepare their own rules for pumping so that they don’t all pump from the Russian at the same time. The mob’s answer? They claim they already say they do that, which is demonstrably untrue, but they don’t want anyone to require them to do it!

Of course the assumption here is that they own the Russian River.

They also say their rights are being violated, that they’ve already built thousands of ponds which eliminate the need for simultaneous pumping, that the bureaucrats and the enviros have no evidence that overpumping has killed fish.

And of course Jared Carter is representing the wine mob, and of course the wine mob is paying the blustery Nixonian to go in front of a local judge to argue that his “clients” should be able to plunder the river because, well, they’re fat, white American property owners.

(Carter does not represent fat, white shoplifters unless they’re registered Republicans with a net worth of several mil.)

The preposterous “takings” argument emerged from Carter’s fevered, monarchical brain a quarter century ago. This notion holds that any interference with owners of private property — Carter was representing the Texas swindler Charles Hurwitz as Hurwitz looted Pacific Lumber’s pension fund and clearcut Humboldt County clear out of its timber industry— is essentially confiscation of that person’s property by the government, our government being a bunch of Bolsheviks, of course. If a private property owner abutting the Russian River wants to suck up all the water in pursuit of private profit, by God and Mammon that owner should be able to do it without interference, especially from the communists in state government and their tofu-eating allies in the environmental movement.

As the AVA’s Will Parrish has previously reported:

Four years after National Marine Fisheries Service biologists belatedly documented that the wine industry’s long-standing practice of draining whole stretches of the Russian River and its tributaries for spring-time “frost protection” does, in fact, kill endangered fish in the Russian River basin, the State Water Board finally issued a policy on water diversions for frost protection.

The Board deliberated at length, patiently listening to the wine porkers whine about how to protect fish without perpetrating any sort of economic harm on them, and the fish continued to die en masse every winter and spring as the industry’s massive appropriations of a public river and its tributaries proceeded unabated whenever the temperature got close to freezing.

As Forestville environmental attorney Kimberly Burr put it, “The state chose in lieu of emergency regulation to engage in a protracted process to accommodate any and all individuals wishing to grow grapes.”

According to David Keller of Friends of the Eel River, citing a wine industry attorney with first-hand knowledge of the subject, there are now over 32,000 acres of winegrapes in Sonoma County and Mendocino County that use an advanced industrial overhead sprinkler system of frost protection. A slight majority of that acreage — 16,400 acres — is located in Mendo, perhaps the most frost-prone major grape growing area in California.

Don’t be fooled by the high whorehouse trappings of tasting rooms, we’re talking about a highly industrialized, environmentally hazardous, Mexican exploiting, cheap labor business when we talk wine, the whole show to produce a bottle of booze.

Frost protection involves pumping of 50-55 gallons of water per minute for each acre of vineyard, depending on which estimate you believe. Thus, if every frost protection-dependent vineyard cranks up their overhead sprinklers at the same frigid time, as has occurred numerous times over the years, that’s 770 million to 845 million gallons of water displaced over an eight-hour period — which is roughly the length of time of a typical “frost event.”

The average household in water-starved Ukiah, by comparison, uses about .0000028% of that amount daily.

Last April, a member of the federal Marine Fisheries Service’s law enforcement division documented a fish stranding in the west fork Russian River near Redwood Valley, which the agency contends was a result of frost protection. The fisheries biologist, Dan Torquemada, found 21 stranded fish. Given Torquemada’s limited access to the river and its tributaries (the wine mob makes it very hard to investigate these strandings as they occur), it’s safe to conclude that these 21 fish casualties are representative of many, many more throughout the various reaches of the watershed.

Similarly, officials estimate that 25,000 fish died from frost protection pumping in the Russian River basin in 2008 near Hopland alone, extrapolating from a similar discovery of numerous dead and stranded fish in the region.

The State Water Board’s new rules require a considerable amount of data gathering as to how much water the wine industry is diverting to pour onto its grape buds, which vineyards are doing the diverting, and the specific hours the diversions occur.

With this data — a process already in place on the Napa River — the wine mob is supposed to be able to coordinate their overdraws so that fewer fish are left without water. If the Control Board determines — after the fact — that any growers have killed fish species listed under the Endangered Species Act, they will “work with” the growers to implement “corrective actions.” The “corrective actions” might include anything from “alternative methods for frost protection, best management practices, better coordination of diversions, construction of yet more offstream storage facilities, real-time stream guage and diversion monitoring, or other alternative methods of diversion.”

You see anything onerous, anything burdensome about this deal?

Very little of the data the Water Board gathers will be available in real-time. Rather, it will be released as part of a series of reports issued each September —months after the frost season has ended. It does not require that frost water irrigators actually hold water rights, licenses, or permits for diversion. It does not make avoiding planting in frost-prone zones a requirement for permitting. It does not force grape growers to adhere to existing state policies to maintain stream flows in Northern California. And it does not require them to consult with the Water Agency or an on-line flow-meter before they turn on their pumps. It puts the burden of proof for proving harm on anyone who might find a fish carcass. (An extremely unlikely occurrence since biologists are actively obstructed by the wine thugs, and even if they show up, it’s well after the fact.)

Of course, only a tiny fraction of fish deaths are ever discovered. As the National Marine Fisheries Service pointed out, the handful of fish it discovered around Hopland likely equated to some 25,000 dead fish in the vicinity. But such mathematical extrapolations were denounced by the wine mob as “a conspiracy” to get them

The regulations the Mendo wine mob is now paying Jared Carter to blubber about were already watered (sic) down as a result of lobbying by agribusiness, including grower organizations such as the The Wine Institute, the California Association of Winegrape Growers, Sonoma County Winegrape Association, and, natch, the regional Farm Bureaus.

But “watering down” the water regulations met with the same fate as the stranded fish. The only watering down the wine mob will accept is no regulation at all.

Putting the understaffed “regulators” in Sacramento in charge of supervising frost water diversions by the wine industry is akin to asking representatives of Exxon-Mobil, Chevron, and British Petroleum to oversee oil extraction on the Gulf Coast.

Mendocino County grape growers, for their part, have hysterically complained that these modest restrictions on frost protection were fabricated out of a “conspiracy” by the State Water Board to promote an anti-wine agenda. The implication is that the agency is more interested in justifying its existence than in actually protecting its fish, and that it has arbitrarily chosen the wine industry as its target for blame.

Yet, it is likely that, as with the Sonoma County frost management plan which, after being watered down several times went unopposed, the Mendo growers will get most of what they want out of a plan they put before the State Water Board.

Ironically, these regs won’t do much anyway as Sonoma County’s experience shows. Although the wine crybabies seem to think that the “regulators” are their enemy, the fact is that the “regulators” have always gone out of their way to NOT regulate anything, while requiring paperwork that makes it look like they are regulating.

Typical of the hysterics who crowded into Judge Moorman’s court last week was David Fanucchi, a member of the Russian River Property Owners Association: “They [the state water board] still want to cram their regulations down our throats.”

Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Ann Moorman, looking her Sunday best in front of her financial peers, took the matter under submission after hearing the attorneys argue the case. She has 90 days to make a ruling.

Whatever Moorman rules, it will be appealed while the wine mob continue to drain the Russian River whenever they feel a chill.

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County Shelter Overcrowded, Rat-Infested;

THE GRAND JURY FINDS that the animal shelter in Ukiah is “severely overcrowded,” infested by rats, and is “underfunded and mismanaged.”

UNDER THE TITLE, “County Delivery of Animal Care Services,” the 2013-14 GJ says the facility on Plant Road also found that 100 to 150 dogs and 70 to 80 cats per day are found there in “insufficient housing for this number of animals,” with the overflow animals being housed in crates.

SOME ANIMALS are housed at the shelter for a year or longer; the grand jury found that “keeping a dog in a four-by-eight-foot kennel or a cat in a two-by-three-foot cage for a year or more is cruel treatment.”

“THE SHELTER has a serious rat infestation problem, (which) contributes to the low morale of county employees and volunteers, presents a health issue and engenders hostility between the shelter personnel and Animal Control officers,” which the grand jury notes are not managed by the same department.

IN 2009, Animal Control and Animal Care were separated into two departments, with the shelter (Animal Care) remaining with the county's Health and Human Services Department, and Animal Control assigned to the Sheriff's Office.

BECAUSE OF THE OVERCROWDING, the GJ found that the shelter “gives the impression to Animal Control officers that “they would rather not have (officers) bring in animals, (which) results in officers working with owners longer than usual in cases of abuse or neglect rather than confiscating animals.”

THE GJ found that the “relationship between the management of the two organizations has become acrimonious,” and recommended that the county Board of Supervisors “re-integrate Animal Control and Care as a single operational unit under the Sheriff's Office.”

THE GJ recommends that the board have a third party “perform quarterly health and safety inspections of the shelter,” and that it “develop and adopt a realistic and understandable final county budget for Animal Control and Care.”

(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)

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JOEL'S NO GENT — ON June 17, 2014, at approximately 8:10pm, Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched to the 2200 block of Oriole Lane in Willits, California regarding a verbal argument being heard in the area. When deputies arrived they heard a female yelling for help. The deputies contacted the 74-year old female victim on the back porch of her residence sitting on the ground next to her wheelchair. The victim explained to deputies that her roommate, Suspect Joel Berkowitz, 71, of Willits, had walked out to the back porch where the victim was sitting, and began hitting her in the face and then kicked her out of her wheelchair, leaving her on the ground. The victim continued by saying Joel Berkowitz then threatened to kill her, leaving the victim fearing for her life. Berkowitz was found inside the residence laying on the floor of his bedroom extremely intoxicated. Berkowitz was arrested without incident for making criminal threats and was then transported to the Mendocino County Jail to be held in lieu of $20,000 bail. (Sheriff’s Press Release)

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Wise Words From Banksy.

These Will Help You Go Far In Life.


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CATCH OF THE DAY, June 18, 2014

Berkowitz, Clutten, Hampton, Holst, Johnston, Mitchell
Berkowitz, Clutten, Hampton, Holst, Johnston, Mitchell

JOEL BERKOWITZ, Willits. Beat up an old lady and dumped her out of her wheelchair.


CHRISTOPHER HAMPTON, Ukiah. Revocation of felony parole.

WILLIAM HOLST, Fort Bragg. Domestic violence.

CHRISTOPHER JOHNSTON, Ukiah. Under the influence of a controlled substance. Revocation of probation.

SARAH MITCHELL, Ukiah. Under the influence of a controlled substance.

Mallo (2008), Mallo (2011), Stevens, Vanlandingham, Verville
Mallo (2008), Mallo (2011), Stevens, Vanlandingham, Verville

JAMES MALLO, Ukiah. Been getting arrested for years in the Ukiah area, in and out of the state pen, and the kind of guy who'd be committed for life if we had habitual criminal laws. One of Mendocino County's great scumdogs.

MATHEW STEVENS. No fixed address but arrested in Ukiah for being under the influence of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphenalia.

DAVID VANLANDINGHAM, Mendocino. Dissuading a witness, battery against a member of the armed services because of the victim's service. Also, committing an offense while on bail.

ROBERT VERVILLE, Ukiah. Often arrested for petty stuff, this time for interfering with a police officer.

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You said the anger would come back

just as the love did.

I have a black look I do not

like. It is a mask I try on.

I migrate toward it and its frog

sits on my lips and defecates.

It is old. It is also a pauper.

I have tried to keep it on a diet.

I give it no unction.

There is a good look that I wear

like a blood clot. I have

sewn it over my left breast.

I have made a vocation of it.

Lust has taken plant in it

and I have placed you and your

child at its milk tip.

Oh the blackness is murderous

and the milk tip is brimming

and each machine is working

and I will kiss you when

I cut up one dozen new men

and you will die somewhat,

again and again.

— Anne Sexton

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by Robert Scheer

The Iraq disaster remains George W. Bush’s enduring folly, and the Republican attempt to shift the blame to the Obama presidency is obscene nonsense. This was, and will always be, viewed properly as Bush’s quagmire, a murderous killing field based on blatant lies.

This showcase of American deceit, obvious to the entire world, began with the invented weapons of mass destruction threat that Bush, were he even semi-cognizant of the intelligence data, must have known represented an egregious fraud. So was his nonsensical claim that Saddam Hussein had something to do with the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, when in fact he was Osama bin Laden’s most effective Arab opponent.

Yet Bush responded to the 9/11 attacks by overthrowing a leader who had banished al-Qaida from Iraq and who had been an ally of the United States in the war to contain Iran’s influence in the region. Instead of confronting the funders of Sunni extremism based in Saudi Arabia, the home of 15 of the 19 hijackers and their Saudi leader bin Laden, Bush chose to attack the secular leader of Iraq. That invasion, as the evidence of the last week confirms, resulted in an enormous boon to both Sunni extremists and their militant Shiite opponents throughout the Mideast.

How pathetic that Secretary of State John Kerry is now reduced to begging the ayatollahs of Iran to come to the aid of their brethren in Iraq. Or that the movement to overthrow the secular leader of Syria, a movement supported by the United States, has resulted in a base for Sunni terrorists in Iraq and Syria of far greater consequence than the one previously used to plot the 9/11 attacks from isolated Afghanistan.

Imagine if Barack Obama had succumbed to his critics’ demands that he supply the insurgents in Syria with sophisticated weaponry? Those weapons would now be turned against the fragmenting Iraqi army that the United States trained at an enormous cost. Or if he had chosen military confrontation with Iran instead of diplomacy in dealing with Iran’s nuclear program, leaving the Shiite leaders of Iraq squeezed between enemies on two fronts. The elected government in Iraq has a chance to survive only because Obama gave peace a chance in choosing to negotiate with the government of Iran.

The only error Obama made in ending the U.S. military role in Iraq was not moving fast enough to disengage from Bush’s nation-building fantasies. Where is the evidence that it ever works, particularly in the Mideast? The United States has backed the military ruling class in Egypt for more than three decades, and the instant the much-hoped-for transition to democracy appeared, those same corrupt generals scurried for safety to the embrace of oil drenched Saudi religious fanatics. Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi is now gone, only to be replaced by militants given to an even harsher brand of oppression. Yet a bipartisan consensus of Washington politicians still believes that the overthrow of the secular leader of Syria is somehow consistent with the proclaimed goals of the war on terrorism.

It obviously isn’t, as the anti-Assad Sunni militants who now freely cross the border from Syria to Iraq waving flags in support of al-Qaida have attested. It is further evidence that dealing with terrorism in militaristic battle terms rather than as a social pathology to be treated as an illness is a dangerous diversion. The war on terrorism is as irrational a concept as a war on cancer or the flu in that it assumes that the military arsenal is the deciding factor when it never is, for long.

The seeds of radical discontent throughout the world, but particularly in the Mideast, derive from myriad complex and intertwined causes. In this region, the obvious sources of tension in religious grievances, stagnant economies and frustrated nationalism -- as with the obviously legitimate demands of Palestinians and Kurds -- have been wildly exacerbated down through the centuries by the imperial ambitions of non-regional actors. Those prisoners of imperial hubris always underestimated the resilience of the occupied and came to believe their own lies about being crusaders for enlightenment.

That is a dangerous delusion energetically asserted by the Paul Wolfowitzes and Dick Cheneys even now, as their mad schemes for a reinvented Mideast spectacularly disintegrate. In their minds, it is still deeply felt that if only Obama had stayed the course of occupation, we would be greeted as liberators, while our corporations quietly sucked up their oil.

Presidential candidate Obama made clear his contempt for that neocon pipe dream. Once elected, in regard to winding down the Iraq War, he has not strayed far from that conviction, and on this he much deserves our support. This is so even if it means going through the next decades of our political life arguing about “Who Lost Iraq?” the way we once argued about “Who Lost China?”—ignoring that neither country was truly ours to lose.


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Kali Yuga Message

It is now the time to organize the summer Washington d.c. Beltway Action! This action is designed to counteract the bogus energy emanating from inside of the belly of the beast. What are we waiting for...the apocalypse? I am ready to leave New Orleans and go toward Washington D.C. I need cooperation because I do not have a place to go to in the D.C. area yet. The anarchist housing rights organizer “bork” is willing to permanently relocate to the D.C. region, which is heroic considering her disability due to battling the Nola police dept. Please telephone her at (504) 302-9951. As Swami Krishnananda of Divine Life Society in India said to me: “there are only two ways to come to the spiritual life. One is by using your own free will. The other is to get shocked. Craig Louis Stehr is continuously chanting the Mahamantram to counteract the bogus energy emanating from postmodernism's materialistic insane core. You may join me as a ritualistic part of the summer beltway action in Washington D.C., and we need to begin organizing right now. Craig Louis Stehr Email:

One Comment

  1. Harvey Reading June 19, 2014

    How is it that a war criminal like Dick Cheney still walks a free man, including being asked his opinion on how obummer performs regarding the Middle East?

    Answer: This country is insane.

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