- County Labor Problems
- Mendo Film Tradition
- Audibly Nuts
- Great Conversation?
- Catch of the Day
- Demon Alcohol
- Cummings Bio
- Corked Wine
- Arselickin Bad
- Oil Population
- NYT Cheers Israel
- Fight and Win
- Greyhound Emissary
THE COUNTY remains mired in negotiations with County workers, including Sheriff's Department deputies. The deputies, to put it gently, are unhappy. Because of short-staffing, deputies are working a lot of overtime, and someone really ought to do some serious math here. Is overtime pay equivalent to or greater than not hiring more people? And, like almost all the rest of County employees, the deputies have not had that 10% pay cut restored that all employees took three years ago to save the County from even more dire fiscal circumstances.
THE SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT can't be broke. In addition to its normal funding, the cops get about $1 million a year from DA Eyster's pot prosecution program. Given that the cops not only have to deal with a lot of dangerous people, they also function big time as Mendocino County's default mental health program. They should get the 10% back now, and they should be first priority for the modest cost-of-living increase of a little more than 3% they want.
THE COUNTY IS HEADING for major labor probs, totally unnecessary labor probs, for which County management must bear primary responsibility, with the clownish SEIU's reps running a close second. The County is paying outside negotiators, who seem just as inept as SEIU's revolving incompetents, $250,000 for 12 months “work” working out fair rates of pay that reasonable people could work out in about ten minutes with a WalMart calculator and basic civility. Negotiations should be handled by the County's own lawyers at the County Counsel's office but for some reason employee negotiations are beyond them.
EVEN IF THEY could handle negotiations, County Counsel Losak and his lieutenants apparently don't know anything about labor law. One supposes it would be too much to ask Losak to hit the books at night rather than drive the midnight hours with dope and a loaded gun as Losak famously did prior to his hiring (only in Mendo!), Losak doesn't know the basic rules for the Board of Supervisors, like how many votes are required to take action. The answer is a majority of the Board, no matter how many are voting. So if only three are able to vote on an issue, as happened recently, it still takes three votes. But Losak told the Board a majority of the quorum was sufficient. Pinches helpfully asked, “Are you sure?” which should have been a signal for Losak to check his rulebook.
SEIU is beating the drums for a strike and also preparing for the inevitable unfair labor practice charges they'll file, all of this funded by County employees one way or the other. The last contract with SEIU expired on June 30th of last year. SEIU's strike strategy has so far resulted in that the one-day farce last year, and their Sacramento and Bay Area-based reps have been soliciting donations for a strike fund for six months or more. (And how stupid would a County worker have to be to contribute to that?) SEIU rakes in about half a million a year from County workers in union dues, for which County workers get absolutely nothing in the way of capable representation.)
SUPERVISORS GJERDE AND McCOWEN voted against the current $250,000 contract for 12 months for the County's outside legal eagles. The previous contract, as amended, was $250,000 for 18 months. A lot of that was labor relations, which included negotiations, but also substantial chunks for the unfair labor practice charges (with the County and SEIU both crying foul) and the so-called “fact-finding” process. But apparently they are doing more than negotiations. CEO Angelo seems to call them every time she needs legal advice, for example, responding to the Grand Jury report on the library. That response took 49 pages when one page would have sufficed, and you can be sure the County is paying tax money above the basic contract for this extra bill-padding.
BOONVILLE REDEMPTION, the movie partly filmed here, doesn't seem headed for blockbuster status. Even its on-line description is unpromising. “Thirteen year-old Melinda [Strike one! — any movie featuring a kid is, by definition, awful, even if the kid can act] is angry about the hand life has dealt her,” an anger shared by most sentient beings and so what? “Being born out of wedlock and scorned by many, Melinda desperately wants to know what happened to her real father. No one will tell her.” Most so-called illegitimate kids are better off not knowing. “Alice, Melinda’s mother, feels that God has abandoned her and now relies on superstitions to cope with her guilt.” But God has always been, ah, inattentive, and Mendo is indeed a kind of national woo-woo center. But Mendo wasn't woo-woo heavy in 1913 when this epic is set. Woo-woo arrived in '67 with the hippies.
I BRING IT UP because Boonville Redemption features the well-known actor, Ed Asner, who undoubtedly got a nice hunk of dough up front for appearing in the thing. It reminds me of Lannie Cotler's made-in-Mendo film, The Golden Ding Dong or whatever it was called, produced in and around the County's garden spot, Willits. That box office non-smash starred Jason Robards, Hillary Swank's breasts and, for local color, Holly Near. (Mike Geniella, before he retired as the Press Democrat's Ukiah Bureau, wrote a pufferoo about Holly that announced the Ukiah singer's return to heterosexuality. The piece was also generally hilarious.)
COTLER'S uniquely nutty film (even by Mendo standards) came with no discernible narrative, not even a thread. It seemed to be about mentally challenged people wandering around in the woods looking for a literal pot of gold. Cotler, a Willits trust funder, paid Robards, as I recall, a half-mil for a few minutes on-screen. Boonville Redemption is clearly in the grand Mendo film tradition.
ENOUGH NEGATIVITY! I come to praise Michael Kisslinger, not to criticize him. Of course I don't know the dude personally, and I doubt off the discouraging evidence of his daily press release recitations on KZYX I'd want to spend quality time with the guy, but Mike has kinda grown on me. I've found over my long life that superficially boring people like Kisslinger, if viewed clinically, objectively, can be extremely interesting. Kisslinger's audibly nuts, and I'm guessing that it's only a matter of time before he goes all the way off, hopefully on-air. Which is why I now hustle in from my hour of serious aerobics just so I won't miss him at 6pm, and when Mike intones, "And now for the weather...." I leap from my chair and press my ear directly to the radio's speaker. Today could be The Day! Darn. Nope, he merely tells me how hot it is in Lakeport, invaluable information in its own right, clinically considered.
GREAT CONVERSATION? “Rep. Jared Huffman Invites You To A Harvest Celebration. Please join Congressman Jared Huffman for an intimate (our emphasis) reception at the beautiful (sic) Goldeneye Winery. 9200 Highway 128, Philo, Sunday, August 17th 4:30-6:30pm. Fine Goldeneye wines (not the rotgut we pour for the tourists), Light appetizers (Velveeta cheeseballs on toothpicks), Great conversation (only if the speakers are imported from England), Tickets $25.00 per person.”
CATCH OF THE DAY, July 21, 2014
BASILIO ANGUIANO, Ukiah. Business interference, court order violation, probation revoked
FRANCISCO CRUZ, Santa Rosa. Pot cultivation/possession for sale.
JONATHAN DOGGETT, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public, resisting arrest, battery of peace officer.
DANIEL ESCAMILLA-GARCIA, Ukiah. Death/Great bodily injury threats, brandishing a firearm, illegal entry into US.
STANDFORD GLASS, Ukiah. Dumping of hazardous material on public property, trespassing. (Frequent flyer)
RAFAEL MATA, Ukiah. Possession of meth, probation violation.
JESSE POWELL, Covelo. Burglary, possession of saps/illegal weapons.
BRYAN STENCIL, Willits. Spousal battery, probation violation.
RACHELLE SUTHERLAND, Fort Bragg. Probation violation.
HEIDI WILSON, Fort Bragg. Protective order violation, probation violation.
WILLIAM ZUBIA, Leggett. Driving without a license which had been suspended due to DUI. (Picture not available.)
JUST ANOTHER MENDO LOVE STORY
On July 18, 2014 at about 10:50 PM, Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were summoned to a residence at the 2400 Block of Road L. Redwood Valley regarding a domestic disturbance.
When Deputies arrived they observed suspect Aaron Oresco and the adult female victim engaged in a verbal argument.
The victim reported Oresco had been consuming alcoholic beverages earlier in the evening and they became engaged in a heated argument inside their residence. As the argument escalated the victim attempted to leave the residence via the front door however Oresco braced himself in the door opening preventing her from leaving. The victim forced her way past Oresco which caused a visible injury to her right hand.
Deputies observed Oresco was intoxicated and learned he was on Mendocino County probation with a term not to consume alcohol.
Deputies arrested Oresco for the listed charges. Oresco was transported to the Mendocino County jail where he was incarcerated and held without bail.
A READER WRITES: “Got Susan Cheever's bio of E.E. Cummings from the library and momentarily under the influence:
never will we ever know if doubleu
was overacheever or underacheever
his womens though untoppable seam”
THINGS WE’VE ALWAYS WONDERED ABOUT
Back in the mid-90s, a waitress at a Mendocino Coast restaurant went through the motions of formally pouring my father a sample sip from a $28 bottle of wine he reluctantly ordered with dinner. My father, the youngest son of Italian immigrants, born on the Mendocino Coast in 1908, was uncomfortable about being treated so royally for an overpriced bottle of wine in such a modest setting. Laughingly, he stared at the sample sip and asked, “Has anyone ever rejected a bottle of wine after sampling it?” The waitress thought for a moment and replied, “I’ve been doing this for over 20 years and I think maybe twice.” (Mark Scaramella)
THE US SENATE VOTES UNANIMOUSLY to defend Israel including Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. I don’t think he did it for the money. He is a paid-up member of POEEI (‘Progressive on Everything Except Israel’ and pronounced pooee) the liberal segment of US society, which is not progressive on many things, including Israel.
Take, as one example, the case of ‘Colonel’ Sanders. I thought my late friend Alexander Cockburn was sometimes too harsh on Sanders, but I was wrong. Sanders has been arselickin bad for a long time now as Thomas Naylor informed us while exploding the myths surrounding the Senator in a CounterPunch piece in September 2011:
“Although Sanders may have once been a socialist back in the 80s when he was Mayor of Burlington, today, a socialist he is not. Rather he behaves more like a technofascist disguised as a liberal, who backs all of President Obama’s nasty little wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen.. Since he always “supports the troops,” Sanders never opposes any defense spending bill. He stands behind all military contractors who bring much-needed jobs to Vermont.
Senator Sanders rarely misses a photo opportunity with Vermont National Guard troops when they are being deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq. He’s always at the Burlington International Airport when they return. If Sanders truly supported the Vermont troops, he would vote to end all of the wars posthaste.”
LUCKILY FOR THE WEST, there is enough animosity between the Islamic factions to distract Islam from its mission to defeat all the great-and-small Satans cluttering up their world. All this is happening as that world lurches into the twilight of the oil age, which until lately had given so much financial leverage to Islam. Really, the entire Middle East, including Israel, has overpopulated itself so severely that the only plausible outcome is the desperate fight over what’s left. A hundred and fifty years ago a mere half million people inhabited the place that is now Israel, and more than 90 percent of them were Arabic. Then came the great Industrial explosion of activity, migrations, and soaring birth rates thanks to fossil fuels. When that phase of history concludes, the population there will go down accordingly. (James Kunstler)
EDITORIAL POSITION OF THE NEW YORK TIMES:
THUMBS UP FOR GAZA SLAUGHTER
In Lockstep With Obama
by Abba A. Solomon And Norman Solomon
Over the weekend, the New York Times sent out a clear signal: the mass slaughter of civilians is acceptable when the Israeli military is doing the killing.
Under the headline “Israel’s War in Gaza,” the most powerful newspaper in the United States editorialized that such carnage is necessary. The lead editorial in the July 19 edition flashed a bright green light — reassuring the U.S. and Israeli governments that the horrors being inflicted in Gaza were not too horrible.
From its first words, the editorial methodically set out to justify what Israel was doing.
“After 10 days of aerial bombardment,” the editorial began, “Israel sent tanks and ground troops into Gaza to keep Hamas from pummeling Israeli cities with rockets and carrying out terrorist attacks via underground tunnels.”
The choice of when to date the start of the crisis was part of the methodical detour around inconvenient facts.
For instance, no mention of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s June 30 announcement that the “human animals” of Hamas would “pay” after three Israeli teenagers kidnapped in Israeli-controlled territory in the West Bank were found dead. No mention of the absence of evidence that Hamas leadership was involved in those murders.
Likewise, absent from the editorializing sequence was Israel’s June “crackdown” in the West Bank, with home raids, area closures, imprisonment of hundreds of Hamas party activists including legislators.
Most of all, the vile core of the Times editorial was its devaluation of Palestinian lives in sharp contrast to Israeli lives.
The Times editorial declared that Hamas leaders “deserve condemnation” for military actions from civilian areas in the dense Gaza enclave — but Netanyahu merited mere expressions of “concern” about “further escalation.” Absent from the editorial was any criticism of Israel’s ongoing bombardment of homes, apartment blocks, hospitals, beaches and other civilian areas with U.S.-supplied ordnance.
At the time, there had been one Israeli death from the hostilities — and at least 260 deaths among Gazans as well as injuries in the thousands. The contrast illuminates a grotesque difference in the Times’ willingness to truly value the humanity of Israelis and Palestinians.
In the morally skewed universe that the Times editorial board evidently inhabits and eagerly promulgates, Hamas intends to “terrorize” Israeli citizens while Israel merely intends to accomplish military objectives by dropping thousands of tons of bombs on Palestinian people in Gaza.
A keynote of the editorial came when it proclaimed: “There was no way Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was going to tolerate the Hamas bombardments, which are indiscriminately lobbed at Israeli population centers. Nor should he.”
While sprinkling in a handwringing couple of phrases about dead and wounded civilians, the editorial had nothing to say in condemnation of the Israeli force killing and maiming them in large numbers.
Between the lines was a tacit message to Israel: Kill more. It’s OK. Kill more.
And to Israel’s patrons in Washington: Stand behind Israel’s mass killing in Gaza. Under the unfortunate circumstances, it’s needed.
When the editorial came off the press, the Israeli military was just getting started. And no doubt Israeli leaders, from Netanyahu on down, were heartened by the good war-making seal of approval from the New York Times.
After all, the most influential media voice in the United States — where the government is the main backer of Israel’s power — was proclaiming that the mass killing by the Israeli military was regrettable but not objectionable.
The night after the Times editorial went to press, the killing escalated. Among the calamities: the Israeli military shelled the Gaza neighborhood of Shejaiya throughout the night with nonstop tank fire that allowed no emergency services to approach. Eyewitness media reports from Shejaiya recounted scenes of “absolute devastation” with bodies strewn in the streets and the ruins.
Two days after the editorial reached Times newsprint, over 150 more were counted dead in Gaza. No media enabler was more culpable than the editorializing voice of the Times, which had egged on the Israeli assault at the end of a week that began with the United Nations reporting 80 percent of the dead in Gaza were civilians.
The Times editorial was in step with President Obama, who said – apparently without intended irony — that “no country can accept rockets fired indiscriminately at citizens.” Later, matching Israeli rationales for a ground invasion, the president amended his verbiage by saying: “No nation should accept rockets being fired into its borders or terrorists tunneling into its territory.”
An important caveat can be found in the phrases “no country” and “no nation.” The stateless people who live in Gaza – 70 percent of whom are from families expelled from what’s now southern Israel – are a very different matter.
By the lights of the Oval Office and the New York Times editorial boardroom, lofty rhetoric aside, the proper role of Palestinian people is to be slaughtered into submission.
(Abba A. Solomon is the author of “The Speech, and Its Context: Jacob Blaustein’s Speech ‘The Meaning of Palestine Partition to American Jews’.” Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.”)
ELIZABETH WARREN'S SPEECH TO NETROOTS NATION
A lot of us in this room have a lot of history. Five years ago, I was fighting hard for a new consumer agency to keep the big banks from [over]charging families on mortgages and credit cards. I went to see a lot of experts in Washington. I went to try to talk to people about the idea for this agency. The economy had crashed. Here was one way that we could fix things so it wouldn’t happen again. This is one way to level the playing field a little bit for families.
So I went and talked to these experts — and a lot of people on our side — and they almost all told me the same two things. The first thing they said was, “Great idea. This could actually make a real difference in people’s lives. The second thing they said was, “Don’t do it. Don’t even get out there and fight for it. Don’t do it because the biggest banks in this country will hate it and you will lose.” Well, the experts got that half-right. No surprise, the big banks really did hate it. They spent — are you ready for this — in addition to all their campaign contributions and everything else — they spent more than a million dollars a day for more than a year, lobbying against financial reforms. They really put their money where their mouth is on this one.
But the experts were also very wrong. We fought back and we won. We won—and that’s what I want to talk about today. We won because you and a zillion other people across this country got in the fight. We won because you got out there. Your broke news. You wrote opinion pieces. You organized petitions. You built coalitions. You kept that idea alive. You called out sleazy lobbyists and cowardly politicians. You said we — we the people — will have this agency and you are the ones who won. You won this fight.
And you know, it matters. These fights really do matter. That agency is almost three years old now and it has already forced the biggest financial institutions in this country to return more than $4 billion to consumers they cheated. But never miss the central point of this story. The CFPP is proof of how democracy can work in the 21st century. It is proof that if we push back against the biggest, strongest, most ruthless lobbying effort in the country; that if we push back hard that we can win. We fight, we win.
Now understand, we don’t win every time. And we are still trying to figure out how to make it all work. But we have united our voices and when we unite our voices, we can win. We did it in my Senate race. When Wall Street said that they would send money to Scott Brown by the double bucket fulls, and we pushed back and managed to win by eight points. You did it, when you got out there and stopped SOPA, you did it by getting organized and fighting back. So, we don’t win every time, but we’re learning to win. We’re learning to win and we will keep winning. We will fight and we will win — that’s my message today.
I want to talk about what we’re up against. I want to talk about what’s happening in this country. And make no mistake, this isn’t easy. We can’t win what we won’t fight for, and it will be a hard fight. Today, many powerful companies look for every possible way they can to boost their profits; to boost their CEO bonuses. They try to run more efficient companies. They try to grow faster. They try to beat out the competition. But many of them have another plan. They use their money and their connections to try to capture Washington and rig the rules in their favor. From tax policy to retirement security, those with power fight to make sure that every rule tilts in their favor. Everyone else just gets left behind. That’s what we’re up against. That’s what democracy is up against.
Just look at the big banks. They cheated American families, crashed the economy, got bailed out, and now the biggest banks are even bigger than they were when they were too big to fail in 2008. They still swaggered through Washington, blocking reforms, pushing around agencies. A kid gets caught with a few ounces of pot and goes to jail. But a big bank launders drug money and no one gets arrested.
But it isn’t just the big banks. Look at the choices the federal government makes right now. Our college kids are getting crushed by student loan debt. We need to rebuild our roads and bridges and upgrade our power grids. We need more investment in medical research and scientific research. But instead of building a future, this country is bleeding billions of dollars in tax loopholes and subsidies that go to the rich and powerful corporations. Billion dollar companies take advantage of every benefit they can squeeze out of the American government. And then they put together sleazy deals with foreign countries so they they can renounce their American citizenship and pay no taxes.
Billionaires pay taxes at lower rates than their secretaries. How does this happen? It happens because they all have lobbyists — lobbyists and Republican friends in Congress. Lobbyists and Republicans to protect every loophole and every privilege. The game is rigged and it isn’t right. It is not fair.
Or take a look at what happens with trade deals. For big corporations, trade negotiations are like Christmas morning. They can get special gifts through trade negotiations that they could never get through Congress. How does that happen? Because trade negotiations are held in secret, so that big corporations can do their work behind closed doors. Giant corporations get insider access to promote their interests while workers’ rights and environmental regulations are just gutted. From what I hear, Wall Street, pharmaceuticals, telecom, big polluters, outsourcers, are all smacking their lips at the possibility of rigging the upcoming trade deals.
Now stop and ask yourself, why are trade deals secret? I’ve actually heard supporters say, "They have to be secret, because if people knew what was going on they would be opposed." It’s true. It’s actually true. It’s from the supporter. Well, if people would be opposed, then we shouldn’t have those trade deals.
The tilt in the playing field is everywhere. When conservatives talk about opportunity, they mean opportunity for the rich to get richer and the powerful to get more powerful. They don’t mean opportunity for a young person with $100,000 in student loan debt to try to build a future. They don’t mean opportunities for someone out of work to get back on their feet. They don’t mean opportunities for someone who worked hard all their life to retire with dignity. The game is rigged, and the rich and powerful have lobbyists and lawyers and plenty of friends in Congress. Everybody else, not so much.
So the way I see this, we can whine about it. We can whimper about it. Of we can fight back. I’m fighting back.
Let’s talk about this fight. This is a fight over economics, a fight over privilege, a fight over power. But deep down it is a fight over values. Conservatives and their powerful friends will continue to be guided by their internal motto, "I’ve got mine. The rest of you are on your own." Well, we’re guided by principle, and it’s a pretty simple idea. We all do better when we work together and invest in building a future.
We know that this economy grows when hard-working families have the opportunity to improve their lives. We know that this country gets stronger when we invest in helping people succeed. We know that our lives improve when we care for our neighbors and we help build a future — not just for some of our kids, but for all of our kids. That’s what we believe in. These are progressive ideas. These are progressive values. These are America’s values. And these are the values we are willing to fight for.
So sometimes we have to get together and we have to talk about what are our values. We have to talk about what does it mean to be a progressive. We have to talk about about what does it mean to be American. So let’s spend a minute talking about what we believe in.
We believe that Wall Street needs stronger rules and tougher enforcement and we are willing to fight for it. We are willing to fight for it. We believe in science, and we are willing to fight for it. We believe that the Internet shouldn’t be rigged to benefit big corporation, and we will fight for it. We believe that no one should work full-time and still live in poverty, and we are willing to fight for it. We will fight for it. Let me add to that we believe that fast food workers deserve a livable wage, and when they take to picket lines we are proud to fight along side of them.
We believe that students are entitled to get an education without being crushed by debt, and we are willing to fight for it. We believe that after a lifetime of work that people are entitled to retire with dignity. And that means protecting Social Security, Medicare and pensions, and we are willing to fight for it. Oh, we believe - but I can’t believe that I have to say this in 2014 — we believe in equal pay for equal work, and we are willing to fight for it. We believe that equal means equal, and that’s true in marriage, it’s true in the workplace, it’s true in all America, and we are willing to fight for it.
We believe that immigration has made this country strong and vibrant, and that means we’ve got to be willing to fight for it. Oh, and we believe that corporations are not people, and we have rights and we will overturn [Supreme Court decisions] and we will fight for it.
And in this room, this is where it happens. This is 21st century democracy. This is the future of America. This is where we decide that we the people will fight for what we believe in. We’re going to do this and we are going to win.
(Transcribed by/Courtesy of Alternet.)
Craig Stehr Returning to California...Needs Everything!
Warmest spiritual greetings, Please know that I am prepared to return to California after Wednesday July 23rd. I have finished helping out my friend Bork in New Orleans, who is much, much better now. On Wednesday my $359 social security retirement check is auto-deposited into my Berkeley checking account. If I use that money, I can get to San Francisco on Greyhound. However, I will run out of money and have no more for the rest of the month, plus my food stamps were cancelled because I left the state to assist Bork in New Orleans, and I will be arriving in California homeless. Thank you very much, and you are also welcome for all the good I've been doing lately to the benefit of others, the American society in general, and for the planet earth as time allows. I ask you to leave telephone messages with Bork at (504) 302-9951. I need to get cooperation from you as soon as possible. Craig Louis Stehr, July 21, 2014 Craig Louis Stehr Telephone messages: (504) 302-9951 Permanent email address: CraigStehr@pamho.net Snail mail: 333 Socrates Street, New Orleans, LA 70114