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Mendocino County Today: Saturday, July 5, 2014

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PICTURES are often worth a lot more than a thousand words. This one from today's Ukiah Daily Journal says it all about the growing population of drug and alcohol-dependent persons living rough in and around Ukiah, clusters of them on the depleted, battered Russian River.


IT'S A CONSTANT struggle to keep debris, including human waste, out of the dying River. On the off chance it rains next winter, the Russian will again, as it has for years now, take on another load of foul detritus that makes its survival as a fish stream that much more difficult.

THERE ARE ANNUAL clean-ups, and there are individual efforts of individual citizens who do what they can against an ever-larger tide of despoilers. The wine people drain the River of its water, the Thanatoids use it as a combination garbage can and septic tank.

SUPERVISOR McCOWEN spends countless hours picking up trash along the Ukiah stretch of the River. He's been threatened a number of times simply for politely asking the drunks and druggers he encounters to clean up after themselves. A hundred McCowens couldn't police the banks of the Russian these days.

THE UKIAH POLICE DEPARTMENT (Fort Bragg and the Willits PD, too) spends a lot of work hours babysitting bums, arresting them, checking them in to the County Jail where, because there's no room, they're quickly released, and if they're not quickly released, soon will be after they make a pro forma court appearance where they'll be put on a sanction-free probation they immediately violate.

“HOMELESS” POLICY? There isn't one. We can't even discuss the problem in accurate language. A 25-year-old drug addict or drunk isn't homeless, and that's who's out there, he's a free range outpatient who needs to be locked up for retooling. Which is what we used to do in this country until the Republicans said we didn't need a state hospital system, that free enterprise, community-based board and care homes could do the job of caring for the millions of people unable and/or unwilling to care for themselves.

SO HERE WE ARE. More open air drunks and dope heads than ever with no local strategy other than free meals every day so they can all stay outside getting loaded and making nuisances of themselves. Or worse.

MAYBE McCOWEN could use his Supe's position to call for a kind of local task force to at least discuss possible options to the destructive drift we now have vis a vis the “homeless.” The judges, being crucial to any possible humane alternatives, should use their authority to seek options to catch-and-release, as should Plowshares and the other County do-good groups.

FOR STARTERS, we suggest that the County buy and staff an inland property and another property in the Fort Bragg area that would serve as County Farms for single transients. The people now flopping under bushes and in culverts along the Russian River and along the Skunk Line tracks in Fort Bragg would be court-ordered into these facilities. If they walk away, jail for much longer periods of time than they do now.

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Mr Blankfort:

Here are two interesting links you will want to read:

They contain your letter and your live comments to the Corporation for Public Broadcast when you were Unpaid Staff-Take Back KPFA, as you called yourself. You were a volunteer at KPFA and writing about some of the very issues that five concerned KZYX programmers and volunteers raised to the FCC/CPB this past spring. You've been critical of me and others because we expressed legitimate concerns to the FCC/CPB based on what we believed to be fact.

And yet. You appeared in person, before the CPB members in Washington DC to complain about KPFA board and staff; and, sent a letter demanding transparency, accountability, professionalism and openness.

Mr. Blankfort, you were thrown off the air at KPFA. I doubt you were vetted by Mary Aigner before you were permitted to host a show on KZYX.

Unlike you, I was a full-time, salaried staff person (at WPLN) for several years. In addition to my shifts as an engineer, I hosted a weekly program highlighting the services of non-profit agencies in the community. After I left the station, I remained an active on-air host for the station's fund drive for five years.

On the matter that you “can understand” why Rich Culbertson spat at me as I greeted him hello:

Legitimate “journalists” (as you name yourself) and good persons don't condone these and other kinds of filthy behaviors towards another. That you “understand” reveals a disturbing side of your character. Any woman who listens to your show following this comment should reconsider. And, no woman should appear on your show if you still have one to host.

I expect the KZYX Board to address the issue concerning Mr. Culbertson swiftly; and, to carry out due process. Also, I imagine that you will be vetted promptly by the station.

Your parting comments to me about “going back go Nashville” in one letter, and “going back to the drawing board” in your recent letter are dismissive, petty, and condescending — they were said to make you feel important at my expense — the sign of an impotent, little man.

I am here to stay.

M.K. Massey, Mendocino, CA

cc: KZYX Board Chairman, KZYX Community Advisory Board

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First, I wish to express my appreciation to Mary Massey for calling my attention to the fact that both my presentation to the CPB and my letter to the then inspector general of the CPB, Lester Latney, expressing my complaints and those of Take Back KPFA over Pacifica's blatant violation of CPB's "open meeting" rules are available on line. What is puzzling to me, having done that research, if, in fact, she was the one who did it, why she apparently didn't take the trouble to actually read either one.

Had she done so, she would never have made such glaring mistakes as (1) writing that I described myself as a member of KPFA's "unpaid staff" which I never did since I was neither a programmer nor a volunteer at KPFA. I was, however, a frequent guest on its public affairs programs but over more than a decade, I produced only one program. (2) She claims that I was "writing about some of the very issues" that "five concerned KZYX programmers raised to the FCC/CBB." Nothing could be further from the truth. What we were complaining about was that Pacifica was holding its national meetings in undisclosed locations without notifying its listeners that they were taking place, that it would hold most of its meetings in executive session when people did manage to find the location and attend, and, finally, refusing to make the minutes of its meetings public. None of these obviously gross violations of the CPB regulations can be attributed to KZYX nor were they raised by her "concerned KZYX programmers." (3) She writes that I "appeared in person before the CPB to complain about KPFA board and staff" when I did nothing of the sort. While I did have well-founded criticisms of some board and staff members, our complaint was purely directed at Pacifica, not KPFA. (4) She writes that I "was thrown off the air at KPFA." Not so, because I wasn't on the air, at least, as a programmer. I had been, however, one of a number of individuals, the rest of whom were volunteer programmers at KPFA and KPFK, Pacifica's Los Angeles station, who were banned from speaking at Pacifica board meetings. I am not aware that anyone has been banned from speaking at KZYX board meetings.

As for being vetted by Mary, as she puts it, I was, but not in a formal way. I was acquainted with her for some time before she suggested that, beginning in January, 2001, I do an international affairs program for the station. She was aware that I was, at the time, doing a twice monthly program on Thursdays for KPOO in San Francisco which I continued to do for a number of years after moving to Ukiah and only left it when the burdens of time and travel costs became excessive.

Regarding her work at WPLN, as I mentioned in my letter, a visit to its website indicates that it has no locally produced and hosted public affairs program and that, except for some news briefs, with the exception of one Saturday night bluegrass show, everything that comes across its airwaves is canned, produced somewhere else for national distribution. Professionally done, often quite interesting and entertaining but, in the end, it is radio designed to comfort, not upset the listener. What this says about Nashville apparently doesn't concern her.

As for my "condoning," as she says, of Rich Culbertson's alleged spitting at her--if, indeed, that happened and, given her score in the accuracy department, it can be reasonably doubted--I am not sure what kind of reception she expected after writing the crap she wrote about him in her first letter to the AVA. My attitude has nothing to do with misogyny as, I would her assure my many women friends will attest. Her claim that she was coming to say "hello" should be considered in the same light as her other claims whose lack of basis in fact I have already exposed.

That she demands that the board act "swiftly" in punishing Rich Culbertson and that I be "vetted promptly" by the station (for what?) must be attributed to that exaggerated sense of entitlement that Massey, as an accomplished artist, believes she is entitled. She might need to return to Nashville for that. As an artist, I thought my suggestion that she get "back to the drawing board" was not only appropriate under the circumstances but guaranteed to produce a chuckle or two. No doubt saying "back to her paints and canvas" would have been more accurate and given the indicated inaccuracies in her letter, it is something she should seriously consider.

Finally, I suggest she stop relying on John Sakowicz for her information. It tends not to be reliable and can make her look like a fool.

Jeff Blankfort, Ukiah

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Dear Editor,

RE: Water diversion permits in the Russian River Watershed

The State Water Resources Control Board from all accounts is beginning to move against diverters who have ignored curtailment notices. More importantly, if the drought continues beyond this year - say two or three more years there will be no need for curtailment notices. There just will not be any water to divert and the vineyards that are dependent upon this water will die. Over the coming years climate change in California will have a profound affect upon agriculture.

In peace, James G. Updegraff, Sacramento

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Cunningham, Kroll, A. Lopez, J. Lopez, S. Lopez, Martin
Cunningham, Kroll, A. Lopez, J. Lopez, S. Lopez, Martin

NICOLE CUNNINGHAM, Redwood Valley. Tweeking, revocation of probation. And such a sweet face but no protection against the white powder.

DAVID KROLL, Ukiah. Drunk in public. Frequent flier.

ARTURO LOPEZ, Hopland. Spousal battery.


SERGIO LOPEZ, Willits. Drunk. Apparently, the Lopez Bros had a few before they went for a drive. Alcohol seems to create a desire for locomotion in Mendocino County drunks.

BRANDON MARTIN, Willits. Spousal battery.

McCloud, Overholt, Pollick, Rodriguez, Sablan, Simpson
McCloud, Overholt, Pollick, Rodriguez, Sablan, Simpson

LATISHA McCLOUD, Stewart's Point. Four charges of paper hanging (bad checks), four burglaries. Revocation of probation.

MICHAEL OVERHOLT, No address listed. Driving on a suspended license, revocation of felony parole.

ALAN POLLICK, Willits. Drunk in public. Frequent flier.

MIGUEL RODRIGUEZ, Fort Bragg. Meth sales, vandalism.

MICHAEL SABLAN, Sacramento. Assault with a deadly weapon, evasion, DUI.

GERALD SIMPSON, Willits. This poor guy is often arrested for sniffing paint and a variety of other brain cell-destroying substances. He obviously belongs in a hospital setting, which of course he won't get from the Superior Court of Mendocino County.

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TODAY, over and above the simple fact that he is still generally readable, [Ambrose] Bierce solicits our attention because he is a minor prophet of hopelessness. On August 6, 1945, the planet, with the United States in the lead, passed half-unconsciously into an era of despair. With a noiseless flash over Hiroshima homo sapiens issued the first dramatic announcement of his inability to make a biological success of himself. The next few years or decades seem almost certain to prove years or decades of planetary wars that will rend and crack and shiver the earth's thin skin, years of wholesale suicide, years that will paralyze the moral and religious sense of mankind. Civilized man — unless he decides to use his reason — will fall forward into a new and almost unimaginable barbarism. The time for the pessimists has come again, whether they be philosophical pessimists, like the French Existentialists, or pessimists in action, like the totalitarians, the managerial state-ers, and the heralds of the American (or Russian) Century. The men and women who do not like men and women are in the saddle and will ride mankind.

Clifton Fadiman, 1946, “Ambrose Bierce: Portrait of a Misanthrope”

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Dear Sir:

I think it is outrageous that the AV Health Care Center has suspended the dispensary of medications. This is a serious deterioration of its services. What is this useless Board of Directors thinking?

I attended the last meeting of the Board where [Dr.] Mark [Apfel] apologized to the Board for the suspension of the dispensary. I find it appalling that Mark apologized to Board for the absence of the dispensary; he initiated the service and it has proved to be highly successful. He deserves high praise for his efforts. That Mark is working the bureaucratic issues associated with the dispensary is gross mismanagement of the HC's resources. Mark is the medical director and should be concentrating on the practice of medicine; that is after all his expertise.

I submit that one of the louts on the Board should be working the issues of the dispensary that is their purpose. The Board should be apologizing to the community for mismanagement of the HC.

Fred Martin, Philo

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Study shows the ideal lifestyle costs $130,357 per year

A new analysis shows that only 1 in 8 families could afford the cost of living what's commonly known as the American Dream in 2014.

Inspired by the new book 'Chasing the American Dream,' about the cost of the financial crisis, housing bubble, and Great Recession, reporters at USA Today calculated the cost of all those elements that make up the American Dream.

For the project they included the costs of home ownership, moderate-cost groceries, a car, health insurance, taxes, educational expenses for your children, and retirement planning.

They reached an average total of $130,357 per year in household income.

In a country where the median household income is roughly $51,000, that's a dream well out of reach for most people.

In fact only 16 million households in America earned that much last year.

Thomas Hirschl, a professor at Cornell University who co-authored the book, noted that most people surveyed did not desire to become one of the 1 per cent of earners, only to have a decent life.

'It's not about getting rich and making a lot of money. It's about security,' he said. He added that they also wanted to see their children succeed.

'They want to feel that their children are going to have a better life than they do,' Hirschl added.

There are however massive variables depending on where one lives, with cities like Indianapolis and Tulsa being far more affordable than New York or San Francisco when you take taxes and housing costs into account.

They also noted that some groups - immigrants for instance - often lived with extended families that helped share the load.

Some business owners are even beginning to publicly speak out.

Recently, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announced a policy to help provide a college education for his employees.

'In the last few years, we have seen the fracturing of the American dream,' he told reporters.

And studies show more Americans understand their situations.

A 2008 Brookings Institution poll showed roughly three-quarters of Americans said that the American Dream was harder to attain.

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How Was It Calculated?

Here's how USA Today broke down the average expenses to live comfortably and raise children:

Home ownership - $17,062 per year (amost $1500 per month)

Groceries - $12,659 for a family of four (just over $1000 per month)

Transportation - $11,039 a year for a four-wheel-drive SUV (also about $1000 per month)

Health Care - An average of $9,144 for out-of-pocket costs and premiums (about $750 per month)

Total taxes - Roughly 30 per cent of all income (about $40k for a gross income of $130k)

Education - $4,000 per year for two children plus approximately $2,500 per child for college savings (over $500 per month).

Retirement - The maximum pretax contribution to a retirement plan for people under 50 in this income level is approximately $17,500 (almost $1500 per month).

(Courtesy, the London Daily Mail Online.)

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Under the makeshift arbor of leaves

a hot wind blowing smoke and laughter.

Music out of the renegade west,

too harsh and loud, many dark faces

moved among the sweating whites.


Wandering apart from the others,

I found an old Indian seated alone

on a bench in the flickering shade.


He was holding a dented bucket;

three crayfish, lifting themselves

from the muddy water, stirred

and scraped against the greasy metal.


The old man stared from his wrinkled

darkness across the celebration,

unblinking, as one might see

in the hooded sleep of turtles.


A smile out of the ages of gold

and carbon flashed upon his face

and vanished, called away

by the sound and the glare around him,

by the lost voice of a child

piercing that thronged solitude.


The afternoon gathered distance

and depth, divided in the shadows

that broke and moved upon us . . .


Slowly, too slowly, as if returned

from a long and difficult journey,

the old man lifted his bucket

and walked away into the sunlit crowd.

— John Haines

* * *


by Dick Meister

The Fourth of July, as we all know, is Independence Day. Hurray for George Washington and the revolutionaries, down with King George and the British. That sort of thing.

But have you ever wondered what it's like on the other side? Have you ever celebrated the Fourth across the border in Canada, in that territory settled by pro-British "Loyalists" who fled the United States after the Revolutionary War?

It is a most peculiar experience for one accustomed to the U.S. way of viewing the events of 1776.

My wife Gerry and I observed the Fourth on the other side once in Fredericton, the beautiful little capital of New Brunswick. Going into Fredericton meant going into the camp of a former enemy who openly hailed the "Loyalists" who fought for them against us. I mean people who opposed our revolution and never even said they were sorry.

Our first stop was the hallowed Loyalist Cemetery near the banks of the Saint John River at the edge of the city, burial ground of Fredericton's revered founders ­anti-American Tories, the lot of them. We trudged down a muddy path to a ring of trees around a swampy grass clearing in which the Tory heroes lay, prepared to utter a revolutionary sentiment or two over them in honor of the holiday.

We managed to get a quick look at a couple of headstones ­ but that was all. Before we could even open our mouths, they struck ­ angry swarms of dread North woods mosquitoes. Backwards we dashed, quickly,­ very quickly batting mosquitoes off hair, face, neck, arms, clothes.

Much buzzing. Much stinging. They were everywhere. The Tories' revenge. For days afterward, we bore the swollen red marks of the Loyalists.

More insults were to come, in the elegant Legislative Assembly chambers downtown. High on the front wall, in a place of honor to the left of the Speaker's chair, hung a portrait of George III, the very monarch we made a revolution against.

In the United States, of course, we celebrate the end of colonialism. But in Fredericton they seemed to yearn for its return. Union Jacks flew from staffs all over town and portraits of Queen Elizabeth and her consort hung in government and private buildings everywhere. Ceremonial guards outside City Hall wore the white pith helmets, long crimson jackets and black uniform trousers of the British colonial soldier.

Just behind City Hall stood the restored quarters of the British garrison that was stationed in the city for more than a century, one of the buildings housing a museum full of anti-revolutionary twaddle. Captions below portraits of leading Loyalists praised them for "faith, courage, sacrifices" against Yankees, who were for the most part described as violent, crude, rude and vulgar.

There, too, a portrait of George 111 hung in a place of honor. Among the Loyalists singled out was that other fine fellow, Benedict Arnold, who lived in New Brunswick before slinking off to Mother England in 1791. At least the museum keepers had the decency to own up to Arnold's "reputation for crookedness."

The later-day Loyalists claimed to like us nevertheless. A half-dozen U.S. flags fluttered smartly outside the Lord Beaverbrook Hotel, Fredericton's finest, and the marquee proclaimed, "We Salute our American Friends. Happy 4th of July."

Sure thing. Funny, though, that they forgot to call off the mosquitoes.

(Dick Meister is a San Francisco writer. Contact him through his website,


  1. Jim Armstrong July 5, 2014

    In yesterday’s Catch of the Day was a young man arrested for assault/domestic violence inflicting corporal injury and probation violation..
    I was surprised to see him there since about 18 months ago he was arrested for attempted murder (the victim seriously wounded), armed robbery and various gun, assault and conspiracy add-ons. News reports indicated a pretty solid case.
    I tried to find the outcome of those charges, but came up empty.
    Perhaps you might think about a new feature called something like Court Proceedings Wind Up for Foremer Catch of the Day.

  2. Bruce Anderson July 5, 2014

    The Superior Court’s Catch and Release program is an ongoing farce, a fact this area’s criminal community is well aware of. We are going to start following up on the most egregious cases.

  3. C.Swan July 5, 2014

    Um, Jeff, your cursory dismissal of the value of input from someone who previously worked at WPLN belies the fact that this 50-year-old public radio station must be doing something right . . .

    From their website:


    Nashville Public Radio’s staff and management share the following set of values that form the culture of the station:

    • To operate the station at the highest level of professional standards and integrity.

    • To be responsive to our listeners, members, supporters and public.

    • To exhibit mutual respect for our peers and audience.

    • To value the member and community support that our station receives.

    • To work together in an environment that encourages participation and sharing of the decisions that affect the station and our listeners.

    ==> Jeff, are you actually saying that you simply cannot get on-board with staff and management adopting a similar set of values for our county’s public radio station?

    Please explain why, rather that carrying on with continuing character assassination . . . “he said, she said” . . . etc.

    • Jeff Blankfort July 5, 2014

      @C Swan. I have read many mission statements over the years, most of which I have found to have little bearing on the reality of the project. They are essentially written, not for the public, but to attract funding from major foundations and deep-pocketed philanthropists.

      WPLN, where Ms. Massey worked and presented to AVA’s readers as a validation of her knowledge of public radio, represents a city with a diverse population of just over 600,000 people.

      Yet in its weekly round the clock broadcasts, it has not a single locally produced public affairs program. With the exception of a one hour bluegrass program on Saturday nights, everything else is produced elsewhere.

      Here’s how the station describes its schedule:

      “90.3 FM offers NPR’s flagship programs, Morning Edition and All Things Considered, every weekday morning and afternoon, as well as midday news and talk programming, including On Point, Fresh Air, Here and Now, and The World. On weekends entertaining and informative programs like Car Talk, A Prairie Home Companion, The Splendid Table, and Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me! take over.”

      Other than a dozen brief news and traffic reports in the morning and afternoon, that’s it.

      All of the imported programs come with high production values and since, most are pre-recorded, you don’t have the glitches that are part of community radio. That’s because it’s not community radio. WPLN may be in Nashville, but, other than the traffic and news briefs, you would never know it.

      This is why I find Ms. Massey’s presenting herself as an experienced radio person capable of professionally judging the work habits of KZYX’s staff and its programming, at best, laughable.

      I have already demonstrated, by exposing as false every one of the statements she made about me and my appearance and communications with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, that she has little respect for the truth. Unfortunately, she’s not the only one.

  4. Harvey Reading July 6, 2014

    The so called American Dream was always a myth.

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