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Mendocino County Today: Sunday, June 29, 2014

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AN UNCHARACTERISTICALLY CRITICAL Supervisor Dan Gjerde was the only person at last June 17th’s Board of Supervisors discussion of the latest Mental Health Board report who didn't participate in the otherwise self-congratulatory happy-talk surrounding the report. “I want the other Supervisor to know that I continue to hear concerns on the Coast about the quality or lack thereof of adult mental health services on the Coast. We keep hearing that things are going to get better or that they're going to get better at some point. But I'm not really hearing that it is getting better from the parents of these people, these adults with mental health issues. By contrast, they say that the children's mental health services are in pretty good shape on the Coast. So really it's the adult services on the Coast that seem to be lacking and needs to be improved. When I say parents, these are parents of people who are in their 20s and 30s and 40s but who are causing pretty major traumatic situations involving people who end up in the emergency room. Then somebody comes that the county has designated and says, Oh the person is fine. And they are not fine and nothing is done about it. So it's like this revolving mess basically. It's pretty tragic, pretty sad. I feel like the County needs to step this up a bit.

GJERDE is generally not one to complain unless he's satisifed himself that something is genuinely wrong, so you'd think that his complaints would lead to a discussion of what could be done to improve adult mental health services on the Coast. But you'd be wrong.

SUPERVISOR JOHN McCOWEN quickly pooh-poohed Gjerde's remarks saying there are funding shortfalls all over and there's always room for improvement but that things had improved and were improving since last July when the County privatized mental health services. Supervisors Pinches and Hamburg congratulated themselves and the mental health board for having representatives from more places around the County than in the past, as if that had anything to do with poor adult mental health services on the Coast. Sheriff Allman said he and the County's three police chiefs thought that crisis response has improved since mental health services were privatized last summer. But generally, the cops are just glad that the crazy people they have to pick up are turned over to what Gjerde calls “somebody the County has designated” and off their hands. In the past the cops had to wait for hours after they dropped a crazy person at the emergency room. Now, under privatization, they don’t have to wait long for the newly privatized “somebody the County has designated” to come and release the crazy person (and save themselves a lot of time and money), so as far as the cops are concerned things are better.

WE’VE HEARD some of the same stories Gjerde has. But to break through the self-congratulations among the helping class and their funders in Ukiah, Gjerde would have to take the time and trouble to document the problems he’s heard and have those parents he’s talking about come forward before any of his fellow officials will take any action. If then.

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IN CASE YOU'RE WONDERING, and if you reach my years it does cross one's mind, according to the British National Health Service, if you are between the ages of 65-75 you are among the young elderly; 75-85, you are elderly; over 85 you are very definitely old.

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WHILE WE'RE THROWING STATS around, just as San Francisco frantically celebrates same sex sex this weekend, according to a 2010 study out of Indiana University, married couples have more sex than single people, a lot more.

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SATURDAY'S SF CHRONICLE featured the paper's bi-annual think piece on the thousands of drunks, drug addicts and crazy people living on the streets, concluding that there's so many of them they'll never all be housed, let alone confined to treatment facilities where some of them might be redeemed.

THESE STORIES never, ever mention the political roots of the homeless “problem,” which are really quite evident — the rightwing has so discredited and starved government that nothing can be done in the present context. Cruelty became policy in California with Reagan, who dismantled the state hospital system, always getting big laughs from his wealthy admirers by making little jokes: “Hi, I'm from the government and I'm here to help.”

GOVERNMENT never helps, you see. It only makes things worse. Do away with government and its taxes and everything magically gets better. Like it is now with at least ten thousand persons, including, according to the Chronicle, a thousand or so children, living outside on the streets of San Francisco, most of them clustered in the downtown area. In The City's wealthy neighborhoods the cops appear instantly to roust the occasional free-range rover.

BUT THE HOMELESS PROB is, at this point, bi-partisan. The libs, at least in SF, and lib bastions like Ukiah, rhetorically and rightly advocate for decent treatment of the homeless but either begin howling opposition or are silent on any measure that so much as hints at compulsion for treatment or institutionalization.

AND THERE REALLY is a large bloc of advocates who themselves benefit from a permanent class of dependent persons. The much lauded Reverend Cecil Williams of SF has grown rich operating poverty programs, and he's hardly the only person making a handsome living doing good. (Williams lives in Diamond Heights, not the Tenderloin site of his ministrations. Of course he, as are all the most prominent homeless “advocates,” tight with the Democratic Party apparatus.)

THE ONLY SOLUTION to homelessness is federal funding for a revival of state-by-state hospitals and clinics, along with a federally-funded jobs program to staff them. That miracle could only occur out of a broad political movement that refused to allow millions of mentally crippled persons, unable or unwilling to help themselves, live on American streets. I'm sure this agitation will be right at the top of the Democrat's agenda in the next round of Who Gets To Be Lead Serf to the Oligarchs.

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ANOTHER HIGHLY IRRITATING piece in Saturday's Chron was an obtuse column by C.W. Nevius called, “Why the Mentally Ill Need Laura's Law.” Nevius begins, “God bless San Francisco's far-left activists,” and goes on to blame this non-existent entity for preventing the adoption of Laura's Law in San Francisco. (A few paragraphs later Nevius trades “far left” for “ultra-progressives.”) If the now-mythical “far left” would get out of the way, according to Nevius, and let the great humanitarians of the superior courts work out individual treatment plans with the helping professionals, the open air insane might begin to get well.

THE PROB with Laura's Law is precisely its lack of compulsion. Under Laura's Law, it's up to the individual crazy person to take his meds and voluntarily report regularly to his helping pro for “therapy.” If you're like me, you probably know fifty neurotics who can't be relied on to take their pills and show up on time for mental re-tooling. A person who has taken flight from all known realities can't cope on any level. He needs to be sequestered for help, not depend on him or herself. Which is where our non-existent system of hospitals and clinics normally would kick in, you know, the system they have in all the rest of the wealthy countries of the world.

BACK WHEN WORDS still had meaning, and the Chronicle still employed editors committed to meaning, writers like Nevius wouldn't have gotten away with terms and concepts coined by American fascists (cf Fox News, Murdoch and the rest of them) over the past quarter century. There isn't a left in this country. There was one up through the 1950s but it had faded into ineffectual cliques by the end of the 1960s. The rightwing has so demonized liberals as real or latent bolsheviks, that people like the Clintons and Pelosi, multi-millionaires as devoutly wed to private fortune as any 19th century tycoon, are now plausibly called socialists by people who don't have the faintest idea what the term means.

“ULTRA-PROGRESSIVE” doesn't mean anything. Maybe to some people it means Super-Liberal, meaning liberals who are so unreasonable they're gone over in to ultra-whatever. But the people I hear using “progressive” to describe themselves and their friends are liberals who are embarrassed to be identified as Democrats, people who understand that Democrat, in practice, means moderate Republican. (And Republican means slightly less nutty than Tea Party.)

ACCORDING to the last election results on the Northcoast, about 10 percent of the vote was cast by people who might be called leftists and could certainly be described as progressives. Most of the vote went to a conservative liberal representing endless war and the oligarchy named Huffman; us progs voted for Solomon, who represented a social dream based on anti-imperialism abroad and economic equity here at home. Half of the citizens eligible to vote didn't vote, and they're the half not represented by either political party but would be Solomon-ites if they weren't so estranged from the system they don't even think that government might do things that made their lives easier. In living fact, the non-voters are correct. The Republican Party is overtly hostile to most of them while the Democrats feed off them.

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“US imperialism has been the principal instigator of sectarianism in the region, from its divide-and-conquer strategy in the war and occupation in Iraq, to the fomenting of sectarian civil war to topple Assad in Syria. Its cynical support for Sunni Islamist insurgents in Syria, while backing a Shiite sectarian regime across the border in Iraq to suppress these very same forces, has brought the entire Middle East to what a United Nations panel on Syria warned Tuesday was the ‘cusp of a regional war’.”

— Bill Van Auken, Obama orders nearly 300 US troops to Iraq, World Socialist Web Site

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Atkinson, Delgado, Gonsalves, Greene, Johnson
Atkinson, Delgado, Gonsalves, Greene, Johnson

DAISY ATKINSON, Willits. Domestic violence.

JESUS DELGADO, Fort Bragg. Arrested in Willits for DUI, possession of tweek.

ROBIN GONSALVES, Ukiah. Violation of stay away order.

KATHLEEN GREENE, Ukiah. Failure to appear; hit and run; revocation of probation.

DAVID JOHNSON, Ukiah. Tweeking and tweeked.

Jones, Maples, Murphey, Nelson, Pulido
Jones, Maples, Murphey, Nelson, Pulido

AMY JONES, Willits. Tweeked.

JESSE MAPLES, Calpella. Drunk in public.

JEFFREY MURPHEY, Hopland. Drunk in public.

JOSHUA NELSON, Ukiah. Arrested in Medford for parole violation.

TRINIDAD PULIDO, Ukiah. Drunk in public.

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Look back on time with kindly eyes,

He doubtless did his best;

How softly sinks his trembling sun

In human nature’s west!

(— for Jim Armstrong from Emily Dickinson)

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The Food Safety Movement Grows Tall

by Ralph Nader

Let us celebrate today the latest initiatives of our nation’s growing food safety movement.

Across the country, consumers are demanding the right to know what is in their food, and labeling of genetically engineered food.

It’s a vibrant and diverse coalition: mothers and grandmothers, health libertarians, progressives, foodies, environmentalists, main street conservatives and supporters of free-market economics. Last year, a New York Times poll found that a near-unanimous 93 percent of Americans support such labeling.

This is no surprise. Genetically engineered food has yet to be proven safe. In 1998, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) admitted in court that it had reached “no dispositive scientific findings” about the risks of genetically engineered foods.

There is no scientific consensus about the risks of eating genetically engineered food, according to a statement last year signed by nearly 300 scientists. The scientists agree that “Concerns about risks are well-founded” and that a “substantial number” of “animal feeding studies and reviews of such studies…found toxic effects and signs of toxicity” in animals fed genetically engineered food, compared with controls. “Some of the studies give serious cause for concern,” the scientists write.

For example, a review of nineteen studies on mammals, published in Environmental Sciences Europe, found that the “data appear to indicate liver and kidney problems” arising from diets of genetically engineered food.

According to Consumers Union senior scientist Michael Hansen PhD, the ability of genetically engineered crops to induce allergic reactions is “a major food safety concern.”

When it comes to genetically engineered food, there are questions about risks, but no convincing answers. There is no mandatory pre-market safety testing for genetically engineered food.

These questions of risks and safety have festered for years because the big agrichemical companies use their intellectual property rights to deny independent scientists the ability to test genetically engineered crops, or to report their results. Scientific American called these restrictions on free inquiry “dangerous.” “In a number of cases,” the magazine reports, “experiments that had the implicit go-ahead from the seed company were later blocked from publication because the results were not flattering.”

When scientists do publish studies adverse to the interests of the big agrichemical companies, they are met with vicious attacks on their credibility, their science and even in their personal lives.

Sixty-four nations have already required labeling of genetically engineered food, including the members of the European Union, Australia, Brazil, Turkey, South Africa, even Russia and China.

The food industry is feeling the pressure. Paul Bulcke, CEO of Nestle, the world’s largest food and beverage company, said that: ”It is not business as usual anymore. Pressure is mounting from all sides and angles.”

Despite the overwhelming popularity of labeling, Congress refused to act, so citizens took up the cause in their own states.

Under heavy corporate lobbying and deceptive TV ads, ballot initiatives for labeling of genetically engineered food were narrowly defeated by 51 percent-49 percent in both California and Washington State. In May, legislation in the California Senate led 19-16, but failed without the 21 vote majority needed for passage.

Finally, on May 8, in a major victory, Vermont approved the first unconditional statewide labeling law for genetically engineered food. “Vermonters take our food and how it is produced seriously, and we believe we have a right to know what’s in the food we buy,” said Gov. Peter Shumlin.

Since then, the food and agrichemical industries have escalated to a full panic.

On June 13, the Grocery Manufacturers Association and three other trade associations — the heart of the junk food industry — filed a lawsuit in federal court to block the new Vermont labeling law. The good news is that people are rushing to Vermont’s defense, including Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, which will re-name one of its flavors “Food Fight! Fudge Brownie” to help fund a vigorous legal defense of Vermont’s new labeling law.

Elsewhere, industry is spending lavishly against the food movement. In New York State, the Daily News reported that: “Trade organizations, farm groups and corporate giants such as Coca-Cola and Kraft have spent millions of dollars on lobbyists and campaign contributions to defeat” labeling of genetically engineered food.

The food industry is quick to scare consumers with the canard that labeling of genetically engineered food will raise food prices. But manufacturers change their labels often, so their claim doesn’t make sense. It has been debunked in an study by Joanna Shepherd Bailey, a professor at Emory University School of Law, who found that ”consumers will likely see no increases in prices” as a result of labeling genetically engineered food.

In Congress, U.S. Rep Mike Pompeo (R-KS) introduced a bill at the behest of the Grocery Manufacturers Association — dubbed by its consumer opponents “the Deny Americans the Right-to-Know (DARK) Act” — to block any federal or state action for labeling of genetically engineered food. Sometimes, politics is drearily predictable: Can you guess Rep. Pompeo’s largest campaign contributor? You got it: Koch Industries.

But the shame is fully bipartisan: sleazy Democratic lobbyists like former US Senator Blanche Lincoln and Steve Elmendorf are plying their trade for Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association to keep you from knowing what’s in your food.

Meanwhile, the food disclosure movement is going full speed ahead with ballot initiatives for GMO labeling in Oregon and Colorado, as well as legislative efforts in many other states.

There’s a great lesson in all this: when left and right join together, they can defeat big corporations and their subservient politicians. That’s the theme of my new book, Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.

Food labeling is hardly a radical idea. Conservative economists are quick to point out that the free exchange of information about products is crucial to the proper functioning of a free market.

Even Monsanto supported labeling of genetically engineered food in Britain. But it spends millions to oppose labeling here in America. Such is corporate patriotism in the 21st Century: St. Louis-based Monsanto believes the British deserve more consumer rights than Americans do.

There are other reasons to be concerned about genetically engineered crops.

Genetically engineered crops have led to increased use of pesticides. For example, a study by Professor Chuck Benbrook of Washington State University found that between 1996 and 2011, genetically engineered crops have brought an increased use of more than 400 million pounds of pesticides. Mutating weed resistance is requiring the Monsantos to sell even more powerful herbicides. More details on these backfiring GMO crop technologies are contained in the new book titled The GMO Deception edited by Professor Sheldon Krimsky and Jeremy Gruber.

Perhaps most alarming is the corporate control of agriculture in the hands of the world’s largest agrichemical companies — Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, Dow, Bayer and BASF. “The Big 6 chemical and seed companies are working diligently to monopolize the food system at the expense of consumers, farmers and smaller seed companies,” said Philip H. Howard, an associate professor at Michigan State University.

These companies may be meeting their match in the mothers and grandmothers who have powered the movement for labeling of genetically engineered food. Like Pamm Larry, the pioneering grandmother who came up with the spreading idea reflected by the California ballot initiative for labeling.

Mothers know that food is love. Certainly, my mother did. She taught me early and often about how important it is to eat healthy food. She even wrote about these values in the book, It Happened in the Kitchen.

I’d like to think that she’d feel right at home with the mothers and grandmothers of today’s food movement. I sure do. In some ways, that’s the point: a movement that makes you feel at home, no wonder it is so popular.

(Ralph Nader’s latest book is: Unstoppable: the Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.)

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by Dan Bacher

Fishermen, Tribal leaders and grassroots environmentalists have criticized the privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative for creating questionable "marine protected areas" that fail to protect the ocean from oil drilling, fracking, pollution, military testing, corporate aquaculture and all human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering.

However, offshore oil drilling will be banned in one state marine protected area, the Vanderberg State Marine Reserve, if State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) has her way.

Senator Jackson has introduced a bill, SB 1096, to ban offshore oil drilling from an area of state waters in the Santa Barbara Channel known as Tranquillon Ridge. The area is designated as a "marine protected area" because of its sensitive marine ecosystem, according to a statement from Senator Jackson's office.

Declaring that "offshore oil and gas production in certain areas of state waters poses an unacceptably high risk of damage and disruption to the marine environment of the state," the California Legislature in 1994 banned any new offshore oil and gas leases when it passed the California Coastal Sanctuary Act.

But a glaring loophole in state law left Tranquillon Ridge, which extends into state and federal waters, with reserves that are currently being tapped in federal waters from Platform Irene, uniquely vulnerable to offshore drilling, according to Jackson's office.

This loophole in the California Coastal Sanctuary Act authorizes the State Lands Commission to enter into a lease for the extraction of oil or gas from state-owned tide and submerged lands in the California Coastal Sanctuary, "if the commission determines that the oil or gas deposits are being drained by means of producing wells upon adjacent federal lands and the lease is in the best interest of the state."

Senate Bill 1096 repeals this loophole, found in Public Resources Code 6244.

"For too long, oil companies have been eying this precious marine ecosystem as theirs for the taking," said Jackson. "With each new proposal, we have mustered our resources, and fought for our environmental future. This bill would close the book on the possibility of future offshore drilling in these state waters and help ensure that our precious coastline remains protected forever."

Jackson said oil companies have made numerous attempts to tap into Tranquillon Ridge's offshore reserves from state waters over the years. Since 2003, an oil development proposal has been pursued by Sunset and Exxon to drill into Tranquillon Ridge reserves from an onshore location at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

"Slant drilling from onshore into offshore waters raises significant concerns about possible oil spills, impacts on marine life, air and water pollution, and contributions to global climate change," said Jackson.

"We are thrilled to sponsor this bill, which would protect one of the most environmentally rich areas on the California coast," said Linda Krop, chief counsel of the Environmental Defense Center, a nonprofit environmental law firm headquartered in Santa Barbara County. "This region is recognized as one of five important ecological regions on the planet. For this reason, the state has designated this area as a Marine Protected Area, which means that it warrants the highest possible level of protection."

"If a project like the original T-ridge, which contained significant environmental benefits, was rejected by the state, then our community should vehemently oppose an oil project that has even worse environmental impacts and no benefits," said Assemblymember Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara). "This bill would protect our waters from potential harmful new oil development."

Vandenberg State Marine Reserve (SMR) is a marine protected area located offshore of Vandenberg Air Force Base, near the city of Lompoc on the Central Coast. The marine protected area covers 32.84 square miles.

Vandenberg SMR is supposed to "protect" all marine life within its boundaries and fishing and take of all living marine resources is prohibited. However, the "marine reserve," like others established under the MLPA Initiative, doesn't ban oil drilling, fracking or pollution.

Vandenberg SMR was established in September 2007 in a controversial public-private partnership between the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. It was one of 29 marine protected areas adopted during the first phase of the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative.

This failure to protect the ocean in these so-called "Yosemites of the Sea" and "marine parks" isn't surprising when you consider that Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, chaired the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast that created the "marine protected areas," as well as serving on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast.

The time to ban offshore oil drilling, fracking, pollution, corporate aquaculture, military testing and other harmful activities to marine life in the "marine protected areas" created under the MLPA Initiative is long overdue. The oil industry's inordinate influence over the MLPA Initiative and other environmental processes, the Legislature and the Governor's Office is due to the enormous amount of money that the oil industry dumps into campaign contributions and lobbying in Sacramento every year.

A report released on April 1, 2014 by the ACCE Institute and Common Cause reveals that Big Oil has spent $143.3 million on political candidates and campaigns – nearly $10 million per year and more than any other corporate lobby – over the past 15 years.)

But Big Oil exerts its influence not just by making campaign contributions, but also by lobbying legislators at the State Capitol. The oil industry spent $123.6 million to lobby elected officials in California from 1999 through 2013. This was an increase of over 400 percent since the 1999-2000 legislative session, when the industry spent $4.8 million. In 2013-2014 alone, the top lobbyist employer, Western States Petroleum Association, spent $4.7 million.

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Warmest spiritual greetings, Whereas Andy Caffrey has been the pro-legalization of marijuana for medical research Democratic party candidate for congress in California's district 2, please assist him in getting work during Humboldt County's "trimmimg season". Andy owes me, Craig Louis Stehr, $290 which I lent to him to help secure his campaign headquarters at 446 Maple Lane in Garberville, CA. I need to get my money back, as it represents my travelling money...I am still in New Orleans assisting the anarchist housing rights organizer Bork, who sustained a serious spinal injury battling the police. I need my $290 to get transportation to either push on to Washington DC for more frontline direct action, or else I need my $290 to return to California. Either way, I need $290 for transportation expenses soon. Therefore, I ask you to contact the former pro-marijuana congressional candidate Andy Caffrey at 707-923-2114 and offer him a job! Certainly, with all of the money that there is in the Emerald Triangle, somebody there can give the former congressional candidate enough work trimming, or hire him in one of the marijuana dispensaries for a month; or just send me my money and he can owe you the $ work it out among yourselves, okay? Let's all act like we are in solidarity together... Supposedly we still are, right? Earth First? Peace and Justice? Spiritual Life? I need to get cooperation right away. Thank you, Craig Louis Stehr. Telephone messages: (504) 302-9951. Snail mail: 333 Socrates Street, New Orleans, LA 70114


  1. Sonya Nesch June 29, 2014

    Here’s our cue to go before the supervisors —

    1. To tell our stories about the decrease in mental health services. Patients, family members, ER doctors, clinic and other medical providers, police departments and concerned citizens all need to show up when we can get on their agenda. Start now by informing your supervisor or better yet all of them, and tell the media.

    2. To ask the supervisors what they are doing with the $25 million annually since they are not putting it into State mandated psychiatric emergency services and recovery support for adults in our communities.

    Kudos to Supervisor Gjerde for stating the truth so clearly.
    Sonya Nesch

  2. John Sakowicz June 29, 2014

    All we need to know about county mental health services is contained in this report by the 2013-2014 Grand Jury. The conflict of interest speaks volumes. The fact that the county does nothing about it, speaks even louder.

    I’m glad Supervisor Dan Gjerde offers some insight that all is not hunky dory at county mental health.

  3. Jim Armstrong June 29, 2014

    Thanks, Emily. A little enigmatic, but short.

  4. Harvey Reading June 29, 2014

    Yeah, the horrendous mental health care situation got started under Reagan, but the democraps have done precious little to reverse, or to reverse the destruction of the U.C. and State College systems in CA. The ‘craps of today, including Obama, Arne, and John Heinz, make Reagan look positively liberal in comparison. And, apparently, we commoners love it.

  5. Harvey Reading June 29, 2014

    Got news for the Brits. Most people in the so-called advanced countries are dead by their mid-seventies. The royalist “pronouncement” is just more neoliberal, libertarian propaganda to support those wealthy folks who want us to work until we drop by raising the retirement age.

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