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Off the Record (July 16, 2014)

COUNTY AUDITOR Meredith Ford’s proposal to hire herself as an “extra-help” trainer for her replacement, Assistant Auditor Lloyd Weer at $440 per day was approved unanimously without discussion at last Tuesday’s Board of Supervisor's meeting. Supervisor Pinches even went so far as to say that the only reason it was even on their agenda was that the Board needed to grant a "criticality" exception before Ford could be hired back without waiting at least a year. Several County employees (seconded by the AVA) have told us that they think this is double if not triple dipping because 1. She’s getting vacation pay for part of the time she’s doing the “training,” then she'll be getting her pension. 2. She’s getting $440/day of extra help pay under the bogus “critical need” exception to the you-have-to-wait-until-you’re-out-of-office-one-year rule. And 3. Lloyd Weer is being paid to do what she’s supposedly training him for. Ford will get a total of $20,000 for over nine week’s worth of “training” for Mr. Weer. As one county employee put it, “So Lloyd ran for the office without knowing how to handle the redevelopment stuff? That means he’s not qualified for the job.”

THE AVA is looking for an outlet in Hopland. The Kong family sold the paper for years but unaccountably left their business and, uncharacteristically, stiffed us for a couple hundred bucks after years of paying their bill promptly. We used to sell about thirty papers a week at the Kong's Market. If you know of any business that will carry Mendocino County's sole source of real news, let us know.

THE CHP has posted this message on its electronic billboards on our stretch of 101: “SERIOUS DROUGHT. HELP SAVE WATER.”

WITH HEAVY PRESSURE from Congressman Huffman, the temporary work stoppage on the Willits Bypass ordered by the Army Corps of Engineers to Big Orange has been undone, and CalTrans is again plowing through wetlands and otherwise ignoring the eco-conditions placed on the project.

HUFFMAN PUT IT THIS WAY: “The Willits Bypass is a project of great regional significance. My predecessor, Representative Mike Thompson, worked tirelessly to advance this project to address Highway 101 traffic problems and improve the quality of life and economy for the Willits community. Over the course of many years, a lengthy and deliberative public process helped develop and refine the project, culminating in the granting of all necessary state and federal permits, the securing of public funding, and the awarding of construction contracts in 2012. Construction was getting underway when I took office in January of 2013, and today tens of millions of dollars have been spent and a significant amount of Phase 1 construction is finished. While I was not part of the process that led to the approval and building of this project, I respect the process and decisions that predate my time as Congressman for Mendocino County and am committed to the successful completion of this work. A Willits Bypass is going to happen. My interest is in getting it over the finish line in the most timely and cost-effective way possible.

Critical to that goal is resolving Caltrans' non-compliance with environmental mitigation requirements in its Clean Water Act permit from the United States Corps of Engineers. No one disputes that Caltrans is bound by those permit requirements including additional mitigation actions to address the loss of wetlands due to project delays; nor is there any question that Caltrans has not fully complied with those requirements. That's why the Army Corps temporarily suspended the permit on June 20, 2014. And that's why for the past three weeks, Caltrans and the Army Corps have been exchanging letters about what specific mitigation actions Caltrans must take, and the timeframe for those actions, so that the permit can be reinstated. In the meantime, some work on the project has been halted, construction crews have been idled, and substantial additional costs are being incurred with each passing day. Clearly, this impasse must be resolved quickly. The stakes are too high for pointing fingers, scapegoating or endlessly exchanging letters between agencies. The situation requires leadership and problem solving by everyone involved. Toward that end, my staff and I have been in almost daily contact with both agencies over the past three weeks urging resolution of the permit compliance problem. I have personally met with and had multiple phone calls with officials from both agencies, and today I convened an emergency conference call that included the key leaders from both agencies as well as my predecessor and colleague, Representative Thompson. I'm pleased to report that there was significant progress today, in large part because the agencies are now talking directly to each other instead of just exchanging letters. Based on statements made to me and Congressman Thompson in our phone conference, I believe the two agencies are working diligently and in good faith toward a resolution within the next 24-48 hours that should enable the reinstatement of the Army Corps permit and the resumption of work on the project, while ensuring full compliance by Caltrans with its Clean Water Act obligations..." etc., and blah blah blah.

ON TUESDAY, the California State Water Resources Control Board proposed several regulations on urban outdoor water usage in response to the state’s ongoing drought. The regulations would impose a fine of up to $500 on Californians who: allow water to run off onto adjacent property when they water their lawns and gardens, wash their cars with a hose that does not have a shutoff nozzle, use water to rinse off sidewalks, or use a fountain that does not recirculate its water.

LAST JANUARY, Gov. Jerry Brown called for a voluntary reduction of water usage by 20%. Instead, a state water board study found that only 5% less water was used. From what we can tell, the proposed regulations are a tepid step unlikely to make any more of a dent in Brown’s 20% target. The regulations apply only to urban areas, whereas agriculture accounts for about 80% of the state’s water usage. Furthermore, it prohibits people from overwatering their lawn or attempting to water the sidewalk, but not much else. As the water board chairwoman, Felicia Marcus, acknowledged, “Is this enough? No.” Still, Marcus maintained that “this is enough for a start.” After three years of drought, one wonders why the State Board is only now offering “a start,” and a meager one at that. In fairness, the board says that it will consider more stringent regulations in the future. Still, the pace of action in the face of severe drought is clearly not exactly blistering.

THE PROPOSED REGULATIONS have received national attention, becoming the subject of a write-up in The Washington Post, an asinine commentary in Forbes, and an editorial in The New York Times. The national media has predictably reiterated the California-is-overregulated cliché. An excerpt accompanying The Washington Post’s article says, “State water regulators are considering fines … for things like irrigating lawns and car washing.” Contrary to this inaccuracy, Californians are not about to have their summertime chores converted into fineable offenses. The Detroit Free Press likewise tells the sad story of a blue-collar man who “inadvertently let[s] a fine mist from a leaky hose soak the front lawn of a Southern California home,” then realizes that this kind of thing is going to get him a hefty fine that will be “the difference between me making my house payment or not,” he laments. One imagines specially outfitted drones hovering the California sky, searching relentlessly for errant mists from guilty gardeners. This kind of fear-mongering deserves at least some of the blame for the state’s feeble response to the drought.

THE REGS, as proposed, are in fact a low floor for water conservation, and one which many local governments have already gone far beyond, including Mendocino County. They prohibit a few stupid ways to waste a precious and scarce resource. The fines, though onerous if actually doled out, are unlikely to impact anyone. Enforcement is also unclear. Local officials could do it, or maybe the state could perform the duty instead, or perhaps both. Or maybe people will only be given warnings, Marcus suggested Wednesday. “We're trying to take the lightest touch we can to get the point across,” said Marcus. No one likes bureaucracy or overregulation, and it is not a bad idea for government to take a light touch. But sometimes, points need to be made more quickly and forcefully than the lightest touch allows. It seems to us that this drought is one of those times. (Charlie Gibson)

THEY ASKED ME what I learned in prison. I ain't learned nothing but one thing. I know damn well I ain't coming back. Because you know why? Prison is full of a bunch of whining, sorry, crybaby-ass men who made a bad decision, and now they don't want to live up to it, don't want to accept responsibility for it. — Nate Newton, former NFL football player busted for transportation of marijuana

A PERILOUS AND UNSPOKEN ACCORD in American politics has grown up while no one was looking, which unites the liberal left and the authoritarian right. They agree in their unquestioning support of a government without checks or oversight; and it is the Obama presidency that has cemented the agreement. The state apparatus which supports wars and the weapons industry for Republicans yields welfare and expanded entitlements for Democrats. The Democrats take to the wars indifferently but are willing to accept them for what they get in return. The Republicans hate the entitlements and all that goes by the name of welfare, but they cannot escape the charge of hypocrisy when the vote for ever-enlarging military entitlements. — David Bromwich, The World's Most Important Spectator, London Review of Books

CONGRESSMAN HUFFMAN IN CONTEXT. The context is a crumbling national and international context, but our federal rep has the time and energy for a photo contest? We've entered a shot of the abandoned Willits Courthouse, a structure that doesn't even have aesthetic potential as a ruin. A photo of any stretch of Ukiah's State Street, especially if it includes a wine bottle, might also inspire our Congressman. A group pic of Mendo's Demo Central Committee? Too grisly for indiscriminate viewing but would probably wind up framed on Huffman's wall next to the big black and whites of Chesbro, Thompson and Bosco.

SUPERVISOR DAN GJERDE told his colleagues at last Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting that the closure of the Buddy Eller homeless shelter in Ukiah has had an unexpected impact on the Coast’s capacity to deal with the homeless (or whatever you want to call them). “As you know the city of Fort Bragg sent a letter to the Board expressing their concern about the closure of the Buddy Eller Center in Ukiah. It has in fact closed. In the month of June they were not taking in any new patients, or customers. The city of Fort Bragg has the only remaining homeless shelter in Mendocino County and it has 22 beds. The City of Fort Bragg has secured a number of grants to rehabilitate the property which was actually the actually my great-grandparents’ house but it has about doubled in size over the years. During the month of June that facility has seen a significant increase in the number of people coming to it because of the closure of the Buddy Eller Center which was not taking in new customers throughout the month of June. Some of these people have some significant behavioral problems. We had a meeting I attended at Fort Bragg City Hall with the operators of that facility, some of their nonprofit board members and staff, a sergeant from the Fort Bragg Police Department, Council Member Heidi Kraut, Mayor Dave Turner, City Manager Linda Ruffing, community development staff member Jennifer Owen. They discussed what really needs to be the game plan here. With the only facility now in the county being on the Coast — it is really not equipped to handle all people that were at the Buddy Eller Center — they had 64 beds at the bed Buddy Eller Center. So they are looking at a number of possible actions. One action, frankly, is they may not take new people in at all because they can't handle it. The Police Department cannot deal with this influx that is coming to the Coast. The weather is heating up over here the in Ukiah, but there is no facility over here. It's a four-hour round-trip for the Fort Bragg Police Department to take someone to the jail who may violate some law, check them in, and take the time to book them in at the jail. So there are a number of steps that are being contemplated. We have another meeting, a small group meeting next week, and there will be a public meeting the following week in Fort Bragg. This will become a very big issue in Fort Bragg and in Mendocino because as you know there are soup kitchens seven days a week in Fort Bragg and several days a week in Mendocino and there is this one homeless shelter for the whole County. So basically the city is seriously looking at taking some strong steps to curtail the soup kitchens, asking the soup kitchens to curtail whom they serve because the Fort Bragg area and the Mendocino area combined are about 25% of the county population but they are not really equipped to absorb 90% of all the homeless in the county on the Coast. Social Services has contracts with the Buddy Eller Center. There is a plethora of services Ukiah that don't even exist on the Coast. It's kind of baffling that there is no functional facility in Ukiah. We have been told that the Buddy Eller Center will be operating again, but not until November. So that leaves the entire summer — we are already seeing a significant increase in the number of people showing up from here in Ukiah over there on the Coast. There is a significant amount of frustration and anxiety about what's going to happen this summer on the Coast. This is a festering issue. I sent an email to the Social Services department recapping what happened at the meeting the other day. I really hope the Social Services department steps up and gets a temporary facility over here in Ukiah until the Buddy Eller Center reopens in November. It's just not really acceptable to have so many services here in Ukiah and not have a homeless shelter of any kind during the summer. This may also be an opportunity to rethink how these services are being provided here in Ukiah and in Fort Bragg. Maybe this will lead to some changes that the community is looking for anyway. Every time there is a crisis there is also an opportunity and maybe this is an opportunity to do things in a better way. But currently there needs to be a balance between the services that are delivered both in Ukiah and in Fort Bragg. Again, there will be a meeting this week in Fort Bragg and there will be a very public meeting at the Episcopal Church hall the following week. We will continue to hear more from the city and from the police department and probably from the Sheriff's Office because they have a round-trip from the Coast to Ukiah which takes the same for hours that it takes for the Fort Bragg Police Department.”

NOT TO STEAL his thunder, but Todd Walton has a timely column this week on inflation, which reminds us that our government does not count food prices as it calculates the rate of inflation. The Fed doesn't, I mean, but other agencies? The Fed's sole interest seems to be the welfare of the big banks, not Main Street.

BUT EXCLUDING food prices from inflation calculations means the true rate of inflation, as it affects everyone, is not known. Anyone buying food knows food prices are going up rapidly, so rapidly that people on fixed incomes, or incomes already inadequate to the real cost of living, are missing meals. All you hear, though, from the government is that inflation is “in check.”

PEOPLE ACCUSTOMED to living with the wolf at the door are better at coping. Recent immigrants go straight to rice and beans, whose prices also continue to rise as I see in some Chinese stores in San Francisco where the price of rice is listed on chalkboards because it fluctuates so often, and mostly in an upward direction.

THE AVERAGE Wolf-At-The-Door American has a much harder time finding cheap, nutritious foods for several reasons, but a big factor has got to be that with the Depression-era generations dying off, millions of us don't know how to grow, find and prepare cheap food. All we seem to hear from the "experts" is how terrible it is that we're so fat from stuffing ourselves on negative food value viands. How so many people can afford the cash outlays on greaseburgers and giant slurpies is one of the mysteries of American life, right up there with the legions of strapped persons who manage to afford to drink in bars.

NOT TO BE TOO SIMPLISTIC about it, but among the many useful subjects no longer taught in the schools, home economics is one of the larger losses. During the Depression, millions of people got by out of kitchen gardens, a neighborhood cow and a few chickens as mom and grandma slaved at the end of every summer canning fruit and vegetables for the family larder. And those people saw to it that Home Ec was taught in the schools.

MILLIONS of young people used to get instruction in both the basic economics of food and how to cook cheap, nutritious meals. No more. Most young people pass their edu-hours not learning much at all in the way of either practical or impractical skills. The basic use of tools, for instance, and elementary instruction in marketable trades like plumbing and carpentry, are long gone, as is Home Ec. Now, almost all of us dangle at the consumer end of improbably lengthy supply chains fueled by oil, a destructive and finite resource. If it snaps, then what?

NOT BEING A BIG THINK GUY, and not too good at Little Think either, I'm still entitled to my opinions. Which, is only true with one big caveat. There's a second part to the entitlement deal. You may be entitled to your opinion but you're also obligated to have some idea of what you're talking about.

IF OPINIONS WERE LICENSED, I probably wouldn't qualify to throw out an opinion about Israel and the Palestinians. But here goes. Some months ago, I got into a stupid street hassle with a youngish old lady who'd just maneuvered a big, expensive vehicle into a tight space near my place in San Francisco. I could have sworn she got out of her car looking for an argument. I also could have kept my yapper shut, but I couldn't help noticing that her SUV featured a bumpersticker that said, “Another American For Israel.” That tore it. “I'm another American for the Palestinians,” I said, and of course she comes right back with, “Well, you're the only one.” And she walked off, obviously not wanting, as they say at KPFA, to further “engage.” I felt pretty silly for having said anything. “Has it come to that, Anderson? Starting arguments with strangers?”

IN FACT, on the subject of Israel I'm a flab-glab lib-lab, a two-state solution guy, a '67 borders guy. The renewed fighting this week with, as always, the Palestinians on the receiving end of disproportionate retaliatory violence, I've come to really despise Hamas. That's right, Hamas. I've despised Israel's persecution of Palestinians for years.

I KNOW, I KNOW. Hamas resorts to random rocket attacks because they are weak, Israel is strong. But rocket provocations is the be all and end all of Hamas strategy? To get all the people they claim to represent, killed? WTF?

NPR'S COVERAGE of the latest atrocities inflicted by Israel on Palestinians courtesy of Hamas, has been truly disgusting, and always prefaced by something like this: “Israel launched air strikes on West Bank areas today in response to Hamas rocket attacks…”

THE REALITY? In response to mostly homemade rocket attacks that so far have killed no one, the Israelis take out schools, hospitals and apartment buildings full of non-combatants. War crimes in any other context.

THE FOOD POLICY COUNCIL of Mendocino County released a Food Action Plan, or FAP, this week. The FAP aims to foster the expansion of the local food system by supporting locally-grown farming. The Council invites local community members to read their plan, which is available on the website, and to attend their next meeting on Monday, July 14 from 2:00 to 3:30 pm at 890 N. Bush Street in Ukiah. (Charlie Gibson)

THE FULL MOON last Saturday night may have seemed huge, but it's just an illusion caused by the moon's position in the sky. Two other supermoons will come later this summer on Aug. 10 and Sept. 9.

SUPERVISOR JOHN PINCHES offered this assessment of the Eel River and its tributaries last Tuesday at the July 8, 2014, Board meeting:

“I got a call about 6:30 this morning from my neighbor to the north making me aware of something. He said: John, the Eel River is going dry. That was not news to me because it's dry wherever it goes these days. It's not news to me also because I see what's going to happen. It's interesting that the state is taking away these post-1914 water rights and suspending their usage. But there's still no concentrated effort regarding the tributaries that go into the Eel. Most of them are already dry right now because of illegal — or perhaps some of them are legal probably — but we all know what crop they are watering. It's a massive amount of water. The City of Rio Dell is on the cutback list. So is the town of Scotia. When they have their water usage curtailed they are going to blame it all on the Potter Valley Project. They will say that the reason they are drying up is from the water going through the tunnel. So that will put further pressure to curtail or maybe eliminate the Potter Valley diversion of water. That doesn't need it happen. At some point in time someone has to get interested in all this massive amount of water that is diverted to the marijuana industry. When you have entire towns being curtailed like the city of Rio Dell or the town of Scotia, the towns get curtailed but yet a person can put in 600,000 or 800,000 marijuana plants and nobody seems to do anything about it. It's upside down. It's over the top. All these years I've been very supportive of mom-and-pop growers, but it's out of hand now, especially in the Eel River watershed. I don't know what will happen. The water board said they are afraid to do anything. But they are not afraid to curtail towns like Rio Dell or Scotia. That seems to happen. It's seems like the people who try to comply get hammered and the people who don't comply get away with everything. And we seem to be getting worse in that direction. The fact of the matter is the main stem of the Eel River will no longer be called a River, it will be called a dry rock bed in a couple of months because it is going dry, and I mean dry.”

Supervisor Carre Brown: “This was a discussion item with the State Water Resources Control Board about enforcement. We are taking away water rights from individuals but yet not doing enforcement on illegal diversion of those who do not have a right. We are very concerned about that, just as you expressed. I don't really know how they are going to handle it, but it was a hot topic sir, in our discussion. It was also indicated that any municipality like the city of Willits or Brooktrails, Lake Pillsbury, the water stored there in each of those, will not be impacted by these curtailment notices because that water was stored before the curtailment. But if we get a summer rain, let's say an inch, they cannot allow that to stay in storage. That will have to be, I guess you would say, let go from those storage facilities. Brooktrails indicated to us that as long as their water conservation sticks they should have a good water source supply up until February of 2015. I think the city of Willis will go longer. As far as Lake Pillsbury and the diversion, PG&E has a right to that storm water to use through the Hydro Plant. Once it goes through the Hydro Plant, Potter Valley Irrigation has a water right. The farmers in Potter Valley are being very careful. They want to see as much as possible go into Lake Mendocino to help their neighbors and friends out. But with the temporary change petition by Sonoma County Water Agency expired and it was not carried forth, that means right now there is 10 cubic feet per second going through going down the Eel and there are 75 cubic feet per second going out of our Lake. You can see that it is going down very quickly because I drive by it twice a day. The Sheriff's department did a huge marijuana bust in the Eel River watershed recently. I believe there was an illegal water diversion. I don't know how you handle that. Maybe the Sheriff would like to address that.”

Sheriff Tom Allman: “You may say that nobody is doing anything about the illegal diversions. I rarely correct you, Supervisor Pinches, but I will today. Our deputy sheriffs are taking this extremely seriously. In the last seven days —”

Pinches: “It's not just Mendocino County.”

Allman: “Let me talk about Mendocino County though. In the last seven days our deputies have arrested two marijuana growers for illegally diverting water. We arrested one man for filling his water tank and his water truck three times and selling the water. We have working relationships with every water District in the county. We are getting information and our deputies understand the need for enforcement of the theft of natural resources. I have been in contact with Sheriff Heaney from Trinity County and Sheriff Downey from Humboldt County and the three sheriffs are working together to pool our moneys together to have aerial surveillance in all three counties for illegal water diversion. I think what you are going to see at the state level is the Emerald triangle and their three sheriffs working together in ways that the rest of the state is not. I am really proud of what the deputies are doing. I'm not correcting you in saying that — you said on purpose that you were not aware of what we are doing. But we have increased our night shift patrols for the purpose of water theft and our aerial patrol for water diversion. I'm very happy with the tactics and the results we are getting.”

Pinches: “That's good to hear. The main point I am trying to make is that the Eel River dries up, then the pressure from the downstream users like Trinity County and Humboldt County and towns like Rio Dell and Scotia and areas like that, there will be more pressure to blame it all on the diversion, the Potter Valley diversion going through the tunnel. That's not the problem here. But everything is going to point to that and people will say if we stop that diversion that will solve the issues in the Eel River. That's the real issue. It's a political problem we have in Mendocino County because the position of the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors for years has been to do away with that diversion anyway. So it just gives them more credence in the argument of doing away with it and blaming us. But this county cannot survive without that water coming through the tunnel. We have a real problem and we have a real political problem facing us here.”

Brown: “We are all doing the best job possible in educating others about the importance of water storage facilities, reservoirs. Humboldt County is very aware that without Lake Pillsbury there would be no water going down at all. That's why I'm looking at water bonds to give us additional reservoirs that need to be put in all over our county so we can take advantage of winter rainfall and use it for the dry periods. I do think these droughts are going to continue so we have got to do the planning. But we don’t have the money to do those plans, and we do not want to pass the expense on to ratepayers, but we will take advantage of these bonds. Our staff should work with the Sheriff and put pressure on the State Water Control Board to get some funding to us so we can do a better job than they are doing with enforcement.”

THE WATER DISCUSSION at last week's meeting of the Supervisors focused on illegal diversions by pot growers. But legal diversions probably take a lot more water, not that anyone can possibly quantify pot diversions. Legal diverters, however, have names and addresses. They also own local government up to and including Congressman Huffman. Pot growers can only boast an ever-expanding customer base, although many local elected people are closet stoners or dayglo advocates like Supervisor Hamburg.

THE UNKNOWN POT people are handier as catch-all villains, especially with the ever-handy ethnic slur of alleged Mexican cartel plantations because they are an amorphous multi-ethnic mass out there in the hills who, to be sure, do a lot of damage to our parched natural world besides drying up feeder streams and springs. But so-called Mendo agriculture, aka grapes, takes a lot more water and uses literal tons more pesticides and herbicides.

THEN THERE'S THE BLANK DRAW on what water Mendocino County does have by Sonoma County. SoCo owns most of the water stored at Lake Mendocino, soon to revert to mudpuddle status for the second summer in a row. Much of its water comes from Humboldt County's overdrawn Eel River routed through a tunnel at Potter Valley. Factor in population growth and the huge demand for Russian River water that did not exist prior to grapes, dope and the large influx of people into Sonoma and Marin counties, and the drought becomes just one more unplanned-for disaster. Water would be tight without the drought.

THE COPS keep saying they're going after illegal diverters. Really? How are they going to do that when there are so many of them and so few cops? Will they also bust the grape grower diverters, the ones with seasonal permits who help themselves at whatever time of year?

ONE DAY LAST WEEK, the Navarro River was flowing at about a foot a second. A day later it was flowing at about 2 feet a second, also a trickle. That means someone, a water permit holder, pumped directly out of the Navarro although the river is almost dead and, unless there's a miracle summer rain, will be all the way dead by September.

SUPERVISOR CARRE BROWN, who lives and farms in Potter Valley, put it in graphic terms at last week's meeting of the Supervisors. She pointed out that Potter Valley farmers have first dibs on water diverted through the tunnel at Potter Valley but that “…the farmers in Potter Valley are being very careful. They want to see as much water as possible go into Lake Mendocino to help their neighbors and friends out. But with the temporary change petition by the Sonoma County Water Agency expired and not carried forth, that means right now there is 10 cubic feet per second going down the Eel and there are 75 cubic feet per second going out of our Lake Mendocino…” The implication of Ms. Brown's statement being that her PV homeboys will get their water regardless of what happens downstream at Lake Mendocino. And Sonoma County will continue to drain the lake regardless of Mendo needs. It's getting ugly.

LAST MONTH, the San Francisco Giants called one of their ethnic cash-ins, “Native American Heritage Night” during which a Native American woman named April Negrette spotted a white man wearing a headdress. She rightly objected, a scuffle broke out and Ms. Negrette was escorted out of the ballpark.

ONE OF THE TRULY great men of Mendocino County is a forgotten man called Steve Knight. Many of his descendants live in the County today not that our local historical societies seem aware of him. Knight, a smart, articulate man represented local Indians in Washington. It was his persistence that won the tribal recognitions for many Mendo and HumCo tribes. Without him, many Norcal Indians today would be landless.

I INVOKE STEVE KNIGHT in the context of Native American Night at the ballpark because he, too, objected to Native Americans appearing in headdresses during negotiations with the federal government, arguing that headdresses reinforced primitive stereotypes. White men in headdresses, of course, is doubly insulting.

STEVE KNIGHT was one of the founders of the California Indian Brotherhood whose first meeting was convened in Ukiah in the winter of 1926. His was among the most articulate voices in summarizing the transition from Mexican to American rule as it affected Mendocino County Indians. In his words, and they are the truest words we have, in capsule form, of Indian life in Mendocino County before the great murder:

“Mexican people built no missions up here, so the Indians were allowed to live pretty much as they had been before and after the Mexicans came, and the Indians were given certain areas of land to use to grow things for themselves. They built brush fences around them, had their homes there, planted gardens, had corn and everything they needed to eat on these places. When the Americans superseded the Mexicans the Indians were aware of the change — they seem to have known there was a change — they didn't resent the Americans coming in where there was just a few came in, but finally then the miners came in by the hundreds and by the thousands, then trouble arose between the Indians and the whites. Then the American government sent agents among the Indians to make treaties with them in order to get the Indians on reservations where they might be protected, but mostly to forestall Indian uprisings. These agents came out, made treaties with the Indians, promising them certain reservations. The Indians signed these treaties in good faith. They thought these treaties were final when they signed their name to them — they did not know it had to have the approval of the Senate of the United States, so the Indians were expecting to be moved onto the new reservations, but these new promised reservations were being filled up by white settlers. Then those Indians realized that they had been fooled. But the old people up to very recent times [the 1920s] believed that the government would make some other settlement with them. These treaties were pigeon-holed in the archives of the United States Senate for 50 years. No one ever saw them until after the 50 year term had expired. Someone then dug them up and made a few copies of some of the treaties. When these old Indians were told about the treaties having been recovered from the archives they became very much interested and told the younger Indians about how these treaties were made, by whom signed.”

BY 1850, the criminal drifters who had not struck it rich in the gold fields began wandering through Mendocino County's untouched magnitudes, much of it perfect country for the raising of sheep and cattle. Its seemingly empty solitude surprised these first white men. The rest of the state was already mostly claimed. The first permanent white residents of the remote mountains and canyons of the Northcoast were killers and outlaws, many of them on the run from the settled areas of the country. The law was a late arrival to Northern California and, I would say from my experience, never has fully prevailed. As the relentless sons of Missouri staked out Mendocino County's myriad, well-watered little valleys, they shot Indian men where they found them, helped themselves to Indian women, sold Indian children into slavery, rez-ed the Indians they hadn't managed to kill, indentured them, and segregated them for the next one hundred years.

UKIAH'S SCHOOLS were only integrated in 1924. Aggressively opposed by a majority of white residents, the Ukiah schools were finally pried open by court order in 1923 with Steve Knight leading the charge. The rest of the town remained segregated up through the 1950s with a nastiness as mean and low-down as the segregated American South. Indian women could not get their hair done in the town's beauty parlors, Indians were not allowed to try on clothes, let alone purchase them, in the shops of the county seat, Indians could eat only in one Chinese-owned restaurant, and Indians were allowed in one Indian-only section of the Ukiah Theater.

TWO DECORATED Indian veterans of World War Two were denied breakfast at the Blue Bird Cafe when they got off a northbound Greyhound. Ukiah wouldn’t get all the way colorblind until deep into the 1960s.

MAUREEN ‘MO’ MULHEREN, 35, has announced she will run for a seat on the Ukiah City Council. The candidate's father, James Mulheren, has also run unsuccessfully for the Council, his loss at least partially attributed to questions about his true address. Did he live inside the city limits or outside?

LITTLE BENJ THOMAS and Mary Anne Landis are not running for re-election. Only Phil ‘Red Phil’ Baldwin has said he will give it another go. Ms. Mulheren is a partner with Jennifer Bazzani in JLB Insurance.

MS. MULHERN IS QUOTED in the Ukiah Daily Journal as saying, “As a business owner, I see there are people [on the council] that aren't business owners making decisions for people trying to run businesses that they don't necessarily understand.”


KEVIN DOBLE, presently a member of the Ukiah City Planning Commission, has also announced that he will run for a Council seat. Doble enjoys a reputation as a solid, level-headed guy. "Miss M," a Council-watcher says, "would probably be the most conservative council member in some time, other than Crane, but she commands more than a room temp IQ and will possibly be willing to form her own opinion as opposed to accepting her weekly download from the City Manager like Rodin, Landis and Thomas always have."

“NOW I WILL TELL YOU the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know what no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.”

George Orwell, 1984

IT APPEARS that someone or someones started a wildlands fire not far from the junction of Mina and Hulls Valley roads northeast of Covelo late Saturday night. (The only people up and around at midnight on the Mina Road are not people you want to meet anywhere at any time.) Prompt action by the Covelo Volunteers and CalFire confined the blaze to about 25 acres, but CalFire said, “It appeared there were multiple starts, though the cause remains unknown.”

A FEW YEARS AGO, Terry Eagleton, then professor of English literature at Manchester University, reckoned that “for the first time in two centuries, there is no eminent British poet, playwright or novelist prepared to question the foundations of the western way of life.” No Shelley speaks for the poor, no Blake for utopian dreams, no Byron damns the corruption of the ruling class, no Thomas Carlyle and John Ruskin reveal the moral disaster of capitalism. William Morris, Oscar Wilde, HG Wells, George Bernard Shaw have no equivalents today. Harold Pinter was the last to raise his voice. Among the insistent voices of consumer- feminism, none echoes Virginia Woolf, who described “the arts of dominating other people … of ruling, of killing, of acquiring land and capital.” (John Pilger)

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