- Pinches Endorses Woodhouse
- Attorney Wanted
- Remembering Susan Keegan
- Catch of the Day
- Pounding Gaza
- Radio Interview with Ray McGovern
- DWR Billing Problems
PINCHES ENDORSES WOODHOUSE
I support Tom Woodhouse for Third District Supervisor. Tom and his wife Carlyn have been residents of our area for many years, raising a family, developing and opening a business, and paying close attention to local government. These are each very important elements in entering local politics.
I feel that Tom will well-represent the entire Third District while keeping jobs, road infrastructure, and public safety as top priorities. He will face additional challenges such as representing a diverse population and keeping the county reserves at an acceptable level on stagnant revenue, but I believe that Tom is up to the task. Please give him your vote.
John Pinches, Third District supervisor
WHO SHOT LORRIE’S FINGER?
Fort Bragg Police Press Release, March 26, 2014
Releasing Officer: Lieutenant John Naulty
Report Number: FG1400334
Date / Time Incident: March 17, 2014 / 2:35am.
Location of Incident: 1200 Block N. Main St., Fort Bragg
Crime or Incident: 273.5 PC Domestic Battery, 29825 (b) PC Possession of firearms while under a domestic restraining order
Victim(s): 39 year old female, Fort Bragg
Suspect: Billy R. Doak, 41 years old, Fort Bragg
Circumstances: On March 17, 2014 at 2:35 a.m. Fort Bragg Police officers were dispatched to the Mendocino Coast Hospital Emergency Room for a reported victim of a gunshot. The victim suffered a non-life threatening gunshot wound to the hand. It was first reported to officers the injury was an accident. Officers responded to the 1200 block of North Main Street where the shooting occurred. Once on scene they interviewed witnesses who reported hearing an argument prior to the gun going off.
Officers located Billy Doak and learned there was a current active domestic violence restraining order against him from a prior relationship. This order prevents him from being around or possessing any firearm or ammunition. Officers obtained a search warrant for the residence and several vehicles. From this search warrant officers recovered the weapon that caused the injury, and also located other handguns and rifles along with several rounds of ammunition.
Based on witness statements and evidence on the scene officers arrested Doak for possession of firearms while under a court order for a domestic violence restraining order and Domestic Violence causing injury. Doak was booked then transported to the Mendocino County Jail.
Two children were inside the residence at the time of the incident. Officers took them into protective custody and they were released to Child Protective Services.
The victim was immediately transported by our local ambulance to an outside hospital due to her injury. At the time of this press release the victim is listed in stable condition after undergoing surgery to repair an injured finger.
This investigation continues and this department expects additional charges to be filed against Doak.
* * *
AVA, June 25, 2014. Excerpt from River Views by Malcolm Macdonald.
On June 11th, the Ten Mile Court played host to the People v. Billy Ray Doak Jr. Until the early morning hours of St. Patrick's Day, Mr. Doak resided at 1235 N. Main Street, Fort Bragg, with his fiancé/girlfriend, Lorrie Kitchen, and her two sons, ages eight and six. In the wee hours of St. Patty's Day, the State alleges that Billy Ray Doak Jr., employing a .45 caliber handgun, shot a hole in the ring finger of Ms. Kitchen's hand.
Officer Guydan was called to the ER of Mendocino Coast District Hospital around 2:30 that morning. The jury of six men and six women heard an audio tape, recorded by Officer Guydan, in which Ms. Kitchen, in obvious and audible pain, refuses to identify herself or where she lives. Officer Guydan did his homework with ER staff and discovered Ms. Kitchen's address. A fresh gunshot wound necessitating investigation, Officer Guydan proceeded, with other law enforcement, to 1235 N. Main St., where he conducted another audio tape interview with Ms. Kitchen's eight year old son. On the tape the boy clearly states that his mother and Billy, whom he often refers to as “dad,” had many fights or arguments. The boy further stated that mom and “dad” had one earlier on the night in question and that he saw Billy with a gun in his hand outside, near the front porch, just a couple of minutes before the gun was fired.
Readers will be thanked and excused for thinking this is a slam dunk, open and shut case of battery with serious bodily injury. Billy Ray Doak Jr. was facing that charge as well as the more serious felony charge of mayhem. Four days of testimony, cross-examination, rebuttal, and deliberation proved that this was far from a slam dunk. The problem rested not in the stars, dear readers, but in a not so little thing best identified as co-dependency. Ms. Kitchen apparently remains gaga for Billy Ray Doak Jr., despite her now recovering ring finger nearly being severed by a .45 that belongs not to Billy Jr., but to his father, Billy Ray Doak Sr.
Billy Sr. seemingly handed off a passel of rifles and a couple of handguns to Billy Jr. last November before going to visit a sick uncle in Arkansas. Billy Sr. lives in a trailer and was fearful that his gun collection could be easily pilfered during his absence. Billy Jr. seemingly was still under the technical constraints of a gun possession prohibition brought about by a divorce from a former spouse some three years ago.
All of that aside, a conviction turns problematic when a co-dependent fiancé/girlfriend/victim tells the jury that Billy Ray Doak Jr. did not shoot her at all, she shot herself accidentally while sitting on the front porch that St. Patrick's Day morn as she pulled the slide lever back on the .45 and the gun went off. Indeed, there were photos of blood on the porch step below where Ms. Kitchen maintained she sat, admittedly inebriated before the Irish holiday could gain a good head of Anchor Steam. Of course, Billy Ray Doak Jr. repeated a remarkably similar story line when he took the stand. Both admitted their drinking, but both claimed that they had taken a “time out,” during which Billy walked toward either Virgin Creek or the beach and Lorrie Kitchen went inside to cuddle her young sons back to sleep in bed. Both Billy Jr. and Lorrie claim that there was no previous pushing and shoving to the floor as recorded by Officer Guydan's audio interview of Ms. Kitchen's eight year old son.
Billy's testimony had him returning to the 1235 N. Main residence with the .45 in his back pocket, then sitting on the front porch to have a cigarette. At some point he got up and walked out into the shadows to gaze up at his favorite constellations, with the .45 presumably slipping out onto the porch's top step. Lorrie Kitchen's testimony had her coming out onto the front brick porch, sitting on the top step while picking up the handgun, attempting to slide it back— then boom.
Ms. Kitchen's testimony gained momentum and details as it went on under cross-examination from Assistant DA Kevin Davenport. Ms. Kitchen claimed the bullet hole could be seen in a heart shaped piece of redwood Billy had cut for her as a yard ornament. She more or less fawned over the redwood piece when it was introduced into evidence.
Next, Davenport had the misfortune of sitting practically face to face with Ms. Kitchen's eight year old son, when the boy took the stand and recanted the testimony he'd given to Officer Guydan at the time of the shooting. The eight year old said it was his mother he'd seen with a gun that night/morning, that his “dad” had not shot mommy, and that he didn't remember Billy knocking her to the ground earlier.
Mr. Doak's attorney, Ronald Britt, now in his 40th year of practice, muddied the waters further by getting Officer Guydan to testify incorrectly about tiny details such as the location of the bathroom and how many steps were part of the front porch.
The prosecution looked sunk after the boy's recantation, but Davenport held his top card for rebuttal testimony.
Linda Schardt is a woman of retirement age, who has taken over caretaking the eight and six year old boys since early April, and who was and is one of the closest neighbors to 1235 N. Main Street. She testified that Billy had physically injured Lorrie Kitchen more than one time in the midst of recurring arguments. She also testified that in a phone conversation with Lorrie Kitchen while the latter recuperated at Howard Hospital in Willits (Ms. Kitchen had refused to have the surgery to her finger take place at Mendocino Coast District Hospital), Ms. Kitchen confessed to Ms. Schardt that Billy had indeed shot her finger.
In her rebuttal testimony, Ms. Kitchen tearfully accused Ms. Schardt of wanting to take possession of her boys so she could be paid for caretaking them. However, while trying to impeach the date of just when a further in-person conversation took place with Ms. Schardt, Lorrie Kitchen gazed longingly at the defendant and told the courtroom that it was he, Billy Ray Doak Jr., who had driven her back from Willits to Fort Bragg. Observers couldn't help but think that an hour's drive together might have given Billy and Lorrie ample time to concoct their story about the shooting.
The jury deliberated all of Monday afternoon, June 16th without a decision on either charge. Upon their return on the 17th, one of them was too ill to continue. A Little River alternate juror replaced the sick woman, making the final composition of the jury seven men and five women. By mid Tuesday afternoon, the jury returned to the courtroom, telling Judge Brennan that they were hopelessly deadlocked on both felony charges, 6-6 on mayhem and 8-4 on the battery with serious bodily injury count.
Separate interviews with five of the jurors after the trial revealed that the panel's 8-4 vote favored conviction. The jurors who spoke also said that none of them believed Ms. Kitchen's testimony that she accidentally shot herself. The jurors believed the eight-year-old's audiotape testimony taken within an hour or so of the shooting. Officer Guydan's confident, yet sensitive handling of that interview seemed to be an example of fine police work. Oddly, some of the jurors who voted not to convict Mr. Doak chided Officer Guydan for not conducting gunshot residue (GSR) testing on Ms. Kitchen and Billy Ray Doak Jr. on St. Patrick's Day. This may be another case of too much CSI television watching. The most recent scientific studies downplay the accuracy of gunshot residue evidence.
Assistant DA Davenport is re-filing the charges against Billy Ray Doak Jr. Davenport appears to be confident enough in his case that he may very well add an assault with a deadly weapon count when the matter goes before a new set of jurors on August 13th.
A final note: During the jury selection process, one prospective panelist was heard contemptuously responding to the defendant's name, Billy Ray Doak Jr., “That's right out of central casting.”
Mr. Doak's ancestors stem from Arkansas and I have to say that having taught and coached another Billy Ray in Cottonwood, CA, an A student and a superior athlete, whose family also hailed from Arkansas, the Mendo Lib mentality behind the “straight out of central casting” comment, displays an ignorance that is appalling in the 21st century.
Billy Ray Doak Jr. may very well be guilty of the charges against him; however, if your vehicle was broken down and you were stranded by the side of the road, I'd wager that Billy Jr. or Sr., or Lorrie Kitchen, for that matter, would be more likely to stop and lend an efficient helping hand than most self-professed liberals along the Mendocino Coast.
* * *
IT WAS AN ACCIDENT
by Billy Doak Jr.
July 20, 2014. My name is Billy Doak. I am currently being held at Mendocino County Jail under an impossible bail amount of $300,000 and some trumped up charges and allegations. District Attorney Kevin Davenport is trying to accuse me of assault with a deadly weapon and mayhem charges for a firearm accident involving my former fiancé, Lorrie. She had been drinking and she was out on the front porch of our home when she picked up my father's .45 pistol I had set there. She cocked it back (I assume to check if it was loaded) when it accidentally discharged into her finger.
I have been through one jury trial already and it was a hung jury, 6-6, on the mayhem charge and 8-4 on the lesser charge. All the evidence and witnesses in the case have already been brought before the judge and jury at Ten Mile Justice Court. My fiancé, her eight-year-old son who was taken by CPS as a result of all this, and myself have all testified saying it wasn't my fault, that it was a terrible accident due in part to drinking, not being familiar with the handgun in her lap, and her left hand slipping off the gun and in front of the barrel when the slide went forward and the pistol accidentally discharged. Her eight-year-old son testified that he saw the pistol in his mother's hand while she was sitting on the front porch that night. Lorrie has testified on the witness stand that the gun was in her hand and she slipped while working the slide and the gun accidentally went off shooting herself in the finger. She has repeatedly testified that it was her fault, her doing, and it was just a terrible accident. I testified under oath that I saw her holding a pistol, working the slide and I hollered, "Lorrie, no." And saw her slip and the gun went off almost simultaneously as if her finger was on the trigger by mistake. I reached for the pistol. She looked towards me. And boom! The only people who say any different are Officer Guyden who was caught lying on the stand three or four different times; an elderly woman named Linda Schardt who has a totally different off-the-wall story of a struggle over a gun in the house causing the gun to go off. She says that Lorrie told her this over the phone while Lorrie was in the hospital shortly after her surgery. Linda was also the lady with temporary custody of the children at the time of the court case and she also stated that she was getting paid by the state for the children and she didn't want to give the children back to their mother because she didn't think their mother was a good and honest person. Recently Linda Schardt has had the children removed from her custody for mistreating them, physically and mentally.
Last but not least District Attorney Kevin Davenport who several miscellaneous older gentleman in the courtroom during trial told my father that "Man, that DA really has it out for you son; he's trying to hang him whether he's guilty or not." I have also seen this as well as my father, my mother and my fiancé and who knows how many others who have witnessed this hostile behavior. He has yelled at me, called me a liar and outright accused me of shooting my fiancé on the stand in front of the courtroom and jury. I don't understand his behavior or hatred towards me. I have never met the man nor do I know anything about him, good or bad, except what he shown me in the courtroom and how he treated my mother when she was trying to get one of my medical passes in order for me to get a much needed surgery. He was rude and aloof like he was better than the rest of us when he laughed and said to my mother, "This isn't ever going to happen."
I have had several other previous passes for miscellaneous medical and dental procedures that he raised a stink about also. I have also asked for bail reduction or supervised release and he has refused with animosity and and prejudice towards me. He has treated me this way through the whole trial and court process like he's prejudiced against me or my name. I feel he is not being fair or neutral in any way when it comes to me or my case. Judge Brennan on the other hand strikes me as a fair and just man and I'm sure it's because of him I was able to keep doctor's appointments for my health. Thank you, your honor. I do appreciate all you've done for me.
I would also like to thank my attorney Ron Britt. He was a great attorney who worked with me on price and was a significant help in helping prove my innocence and getting me through the first jury trial. However, I don't have funds to keep him on as my attorney and he is forced to let me go into the hands of a public defender against a district attorney like Davenport who is extremely prejudiced against me and my case.
I pray to God and beg for the mercy of the court to once again see my innocence and set an innocent man free so he can begin to put his life back together. If there are any attorneys wanting to work pro bono and help me with my case you can reach my mother at 707-972-3493 or reach me, Bill Doak A#11106, Mendocino County Jail, 951 Low Gap Road, Ukiah, CA 95482. I need all the help I can get. My trial is set for August 11, 2014 through to its finish. I'm still being held unjustly, being held guilty until proven innocent.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SUSAN KEEGAN.
59th Birthday: In Memorium
Beloved sister, cousin, mother, daughter, friend, artist, and teacher. We keep your memory alive in our hearts, we celebrate the time we had with you, and we miss you every day.
And we continue to pursue justice on your behalf. Enough already? Susan would disagree, as we are reminded by words spoken at her memorial service: “All of you know this about Susan: she was an incredible problem-solver, a loyal confidante, a life raft during a crisis, a disarming wit. She hated injustice, stood up for her beliefs, and was fearlessly articulate for a cause.”
Shrug away a wrong? Not Susan. As her obituary proclaimed: “Susan’s intelligence, wisdom and compassion were evident to all who knew her. She understood the meaning of loyalty, and stood by those she loved.”
Our ears still ring with the language of love and poetry used to honor Susan in the years since her death:
“You most solid friend who stood behind and steadied wobbly leanings for so long.”
“You could read more books in one day ...Than most of us could read in a month... Or a lifetime”
“We are cutting onions and celery in your kitchen... it’s Thanksgiving, the table is full... everyone is welcome”
“I have a photo of us all... at my table, sunlit and simply happy... sacred, together”
“I kept digging in all the corners and closets of my mind—looking for you ...In the stillness, I find deep love and great sorrow—still looking for you”
“The thing about Susan is that she was always there – when times were joyful and times were sad, when there were new challenges to be met or old memories to rekindle.”
“A passionate traveler… voracious reader… lover of libraries… A life spent planting, nurturing and cultivating life’s riches…”
When Susan’s death was declared a homicide in August 2012, some family members sprinkled a portion of her ashes at a favorite spot in New York City’s Central Park, honoring her memory with this article in the Anderson Valley Advertiser, and the poem that appears below. The remainder of her ashes will be scattered when the law enforcement authorities of Mendocino County bring Susan Keegan’s killer to justice.
* * *
Now the world knows your departure
a one-way flight from breath and bone
was no drowning of self-pity
no reckless swan-dive onto crags
neither careless nor self-planned
but a travel-agent’s booking
to your hereafter, forged
behind your back, bludgeoning
all your tomorrows to dust.
We sprinkle your dust back
slowly into life’s stream
mingle you in the waterfall
of all coming and going –
a pinch recalls your kindness
a pinch for good times
a pinch for the torrent of justice
hammering down the dam.
CATCH OF THE DAY, July 23, 2014
JAMES ANDEREGG, Ukiah, Felony Domestic Assault.
DAVID CLOW, Ukiah. Arson, failure to register as a felon after parole, probation violation.
MICHAEL DONAHE, Ukiah. Drunk in public. Probation revoked. (Frequent flyer)
CODY FURLINE, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public, resisting/threatening an officer.
JACOB GARCIA, Ukiah. Parole violation.
SCOTT HAGERTY, Willits. Pot growing, processing, possession for sale, possession of meth, armed with firearm.
OSCAR MALDONADO, Redwood Valley. Under the influence of controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia.
STEVEN MUNSON, Willits. Possession of meth, under the influence of it.
LUIS RAMIREZ, Ukiah. Probation violation (2x).
JAMES RODDY, Anderson. Probation violation (2x).
TARALYN SMITH, Fremont. Pot growing, processing, possession for sale.
POUNDING GAZA —
World’s Largest Open-Air Prison
by Ralph Nader
An already troubling humanitarian crisis has intensified with the Israeli bombardment of Gaza, an area about twice the size of the District of Columbia that has about three times as many residents (1.8 million). Israel has been using its highly touted precise missiles to hit numerous targets. This collective punishment, a war crime per se, wreaks havoc on civilians and their life-sustaining infrastructure.
With over 1,700 explosive strikes so far, the Israeli military has pounded homes, schools, mosques, electric and water facilities, municipal buildings, health clinics, moving vehicles, a home for the seriously disabled and even tiny agriculture areas. As a result of these attacks, over two hundred and thirty Gazans have died and over seventeen hundred have been injured so far, about eighty percent are civilians, a majority of whom are women and children, according to UN observers.
That is only part of the continuing war against Gaza. For years, Israel has maintained a siege/blockade, restricting the importation of adequate food, medicine, water, electricity, construction materials and other necessities needed by the refugees in the world’s largest open-air prison. These daily deprivations have taken a deadly toll. Fatalities, sicknesses, untreated cancers have resulted. Half of the children are seriously malnourished due to the dire poverty associated with the Israeli air, land and sea encirclement. (There are even harsh restrictions on Gazan fishermen.)
Israel’s complex association with Hamas, the elected governors of Gaza, is rarely reported or discussed. First, the Israelis, with U.S. support, helped start Hamas over thirty years ago to counteract the influence of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) under Yasser Arafat. More recently, Israeli officials have been in regular communication with Hamas over the administrative details of the selective siege, custom duties and transfers of tax revenues by Israeli to pay for Hamas’ 40,000 public employees.
Even when open hostilities commence, the two adversaries remain in close communication to sense how far each can go, given their own internal political struggles, in the ensuing “lopsided battle,” as the New York Times calls it. Hamas and other splinter groups, comprising the complex dynamics of competing Palestinian factions, have launched some 1,000 feeble rockets to demonstrate that it can resist the hyper-powerful Israeli domination. The rockets obviously frighten Israelis, most of whom have access to secure shelters and are defended by the Israeli anti-missile system (which is called the Iron Dome and is funded largely by U.S. taxpayers). The Israeli military is knocking down 90% of the Palestinian rockets they target. These crude Palestinian rockets are so inaccurate that they largely fall on barren ground, including several right back on Gaza. Recently, one rocket claimed an Israeli life very close to the border where Israeli tanks lie waiting for the outright ground invasion.
Without any army, air force or navy, the Gazans have very limited military options. The Israelis have unlimited military options. The military invasion of the Palestinian enclave may unleash forces that may be uncontrollable and move Israel into a civilian catastrophe starting with no drinkable water and other human disasters.
In recent years, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have suffered at least four hundred times more civilian causalities – both fatalities and injuries—than Hamas has inflicted on the Israelis whose immensely powerful forces occupy, colonize, brutalize, and loot the land, water and people of the remaining 22% of Palestine that has not already been taken by Israel.
No one said it more candidly than David Ben-Gurion, the father of modern Israel, who years ago, was asked why Palestinians were still resisting. He summed up Palestinian grievances by saying “They see but one thing: we have come and we have stolen their country. Why would they accept that?” No one has said it more eloquently than fifteen hundred reservists, combat officers and soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces who pledged: “We shall not continue to fight beyond the 1967 borders [the Palestinian territories] in order to dominate, expel, starve and humiliate an entire people.” And no one has better framed the challenge to Israeli leaders than several former retired heads of the Shin Bet (the Israeli FBI) and Mossad (the Israeli CIA) who publically have stated why Israel, as the supreme power can and should lead to a two-state solution already supported by a majority of both the Israeli and Palestinian people.
Listening to their public statements, interviews and reading their writings, along with those regularly put forth by the courageous Israeli human rights groups, such as B’Tselem, and newspaper columnists, such as Gideon Levy and Amira Hass, one can cut through the official propaganda used by the Israeli government that wages perpetual war instead of peace, affecting the whole Middle East and the national security budgets of the U.S. The following are two takeaways from these groups that promote peace and a two-state solution.
The Palestinian National Authority (PA) has long recognized the existence of Israel as an independent, secular state. So have numerous Arab and Islamic nations, belonging to the Arab league, whose comprehensive peace proposal was dismissed by Israel twelve years ago.
Palestinians, as oppressed people, engage in no more verbal incitement than do the Israeli oppressors from a position of political and military power. Wagers of peace on both sides know how prejudicial some Israelis can be toward the Arabs, as well as vice versa.
Besides demanding ethnic cleansing, driving all Palestinians into the desert for the goal of a “Greater Israel” covering all of Palestine, some extremists have called for annihilation. Recently, on June 30th, a leader of the Jewish Home Party, part of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s ruling coalition posted a call for the destruction of the Palestinian people including “its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure,” adding that Israel should also not exclude Palestinian mothers because they give birth to “little snakes.” Thousands of viewers responded favorably.
Where are the more numerous, rational Israelis who can reverse this perilous drift toward what the Israeli historical scholar Professor Ilan Pappe calls “incremental genocide?” After centuries of persecution, the Jewish people in Israel hold a towering power position from a secure state. Israel should accept the Arab League’s invitation for peace and normalized relations through a two-state solution.
Where is the Obama Administration, which like previous Administrations avoids its responsibility for peace and provides annually billions of dollars in unconditional military and economic support to the Israeli government? There are direct American strategic and security interests that oblige President Obama, in spite of the Washington puppet show in Congress, to do more than parrot the AIPAC lobby’s party line.
Just about all knowledgeable people believe the status quo will continue to favor the Israeli government’s political, economic and military interests while oppressing those of Palestine, unless the U.S. weighs in with strong influence over its ally, Israel.
AS THE U. S. TEETERS ON THE EDGE OF COLD WAR II with Russia in a turf war over the Ukraine, and as the U.S. defense industry looks forward to another cold war bonanza, "All About Money" returns to KZYX on Friday, July 25, at 9 a.m., to examine the roots of Ukraine instability. Retired CIA analyst, Ray McGovern, is our guest.
We'll also ask McGovern about the Malaysian airliner that was recently shot down, killing all 298 aboard. Separatists and Ukraine's government have both denied involvement. Russia also denies any involvement.
Our show with McGovern follows our last show on July 11, with State Department whistleblowers Matthew Hoh and Peter Van Buren.
McGovern is a retired CIA officer turned political activist. McGovern was a CIA analyst from 1963 to 1990, and in the 1980s he chaired National Intelligence Estimates. McGovern prepared the President's Daily Brief, routinely presenting the morning intelligence briefings at the White House in one-on-one briefings with the vice president, the secretaries of State and Defense, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the assistant to the president for national security. McGovern received the Intelligence Commendation Medal at his retirement, returning it in 2006 in protest at the CIA's involvement in torture.
McGovern's post-retirement work includes commentating on intelligence issues. In 2003, he co-founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.
McGovern regularly writes for Consortium News and just wrote the piece "When the US Welched on Its NATO Promise" in which he said, "The Ukraine crisis owes its roots to a deal America made and broke with the recently deceased Soviet foreign minister."
He continued, "Lack of clarity as to who fired the missile is likely to persist for weeks, at least. Meanwhile, the shootdown provides raw meat for those who will use it to blacken Russia, just as the downing of KAL007 in 1983 allowed the Reagan administration to hype charges that the Soviet Union 'deliberately' downed a passenger aircraft. The evidence indicated that the Soviets thought they were downing an American spy plane, but U.S. propaganda, including the altering of electronic evidence, left no room for a 'mistaken identity' explanation."
McGovern concluded, "More generally, Russian President Vladimir Putin is probably correct in saying the tragedy would not have happened if Ukrainian President Poroshenko had agreed to prolong the fragile cease-fire, as the leaders of Germany, France, and Russia pleaded with him to do during a two-hour conference call on June 30th."
DEPARTMENT OF WATER RESOURCES FACES $60 MILLION SHORTFALL
Group says taxpayers and ratepayers are on the hook for BDCP
by Dan Bacher
It appears that California is not only running out of water during the drought, but it is running out of money to move that water because of mismanagement, according to the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN).
The environmental group accused the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) of facing a $60 million shortfall after failing to collect $125 million owed by water contractors.
“Even as it continues to promote the ruinously expensive, environmentally destructive and ultimately unworkable Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), the California Department of Water Resources has failed to collect $125 million for ongoing operations owed by water contractors, and now faces a $60 million shortfall,” according to a C-WIN media release.
“The dearth of cash couldn’t come at a worse time for the beleaguered agency,” said Carolee Krieger, C-WIN Executive Director. “DWR now has only $50 million available, enough for about 60 days of operations, including meeting payroll.”
The group said this shortfall required the agency to withdraw a $500 million bond proposal for BDCP planning costs because the measure’s draft disclosure form did not cite the financing deficit.
While this shortfall is occurring, Krieger criticized Governor Jerry Brown and “his proxy, DWR,” for continuing to promote the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build two massive water conveyance tunnels beneath the Sacramento/San Joaquin River Delta at a final cost to ratepayers and taxpayers of $ 67 billion or more, inclusive of interest and cost overruns.
“Ultimately, DWR cannot go broke because it has a default source for funding: property taxes and water rates,” Krieger pointed out. “They believe property taxes can be increased to meet the agency’s needs without a public vote.”
The group said an increase in property taxes is planned for Santa Clara Valley Water District and the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of Southern California, where officials claim the moves are exempt from Proposition 13 and Proposition 218 that restrict state government options on raising property assessments.
A memo from the Santa Clara Valley Water District, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, demonstrates that district officials believe they can raise property taxes to pay for the Twin Tunnels without a vote, according to Tom Stokely, Water Policy Analyst/Media Contact for the California Water Impact Network. (Seehttp://www.c-win.org/webfm_send/444)
“Staff financial modeling assumes that BDCP costs associated with conveyance of State Water Project supply (approximately 65 million out of the $228 million ten year total) would be paid for by the State Water Project tax. Consequently, the State Water Project tax for average single family residence would increase from $36/yr to $60/yr by FY 2023-24,” the memo stated.
Stokely also cited a document submitted on March 19, 2014 by Goldman Sachs to the State Water Contractors' Project Authority that flat out says the bonds will be secured by "ad valorem tax" increases. For example, page 10 of the document, the "Goldman Sachs Request for Qualifications and Proposals for Underwriting Services," cites "The authority of DWR to adopt a new Indenture, finance and build BDCP projects and obligate contractors to levy ad valorem tax (if necessary)."
Nancy Vogel, Director of Public Affairs for the Department of Water Resources, confirmed the shortfall that DWR now faces, attributing it to “cumulative underbilling” of $125 million in 2013 and 2014, and cited a number of reasons why the underbilling occurred.
“DWR is obligated to provide the State Water Project contractors with a projection of the following year’s costs and bills by July 1,” said Vogel. “We became aware in June that actual SWP operational costs for 2013 and 2014 have been higher than previously accounted for due to a number of factors, including unanticipated maintenance needs and compliance requirements, elimination of State government furloughs, salary increases for skilled project trades and crafts staff, new staff positions, and increases in overhead.”
“Because these cost increases were not completely accounted for in 2013 and 2014 bills, a cumulative under-billing of about $125 million occurred over these two calendar years,” she explained. “The under collection amounts to 6 percent of the cumulative billing in those two years.”
She noted that the total State Water Project billing was $1.06 billion in 2013 and $1.03 billion in 2014 – and that they are working to reduce charges and operating expense in 2015 and to mitigate the “under-collection.”
“We are working to reduce the charges for 2015,” said Vogel. “For example, we have identified about two dozen projects at existing SWP facilities that were originally billed as operating expenses that could have been capitalized. And we are evaluating the deferral of certain non-critical SWP work for six to 18 months. We anticipate having a revised statement of charges for 2015 in the next few months that reflects a reduction.”
She concluded, “No payments have been or are threatened to be missed on any SWP obligations. No compromise of safety has occurred, nor has SWP operational capability been impaired. We are working to reduce SWP operating expenses for 2014 and 2015 and otherwise mitigate the under-collection, and we are confident that the SWP water contractors will be able to absorb the increase without undue hardship.”
Krieger called DWR’s response “one of the most defensive spins I’ve ever heard to cover up blatant incompetence.”
“If they go ahead with this twin tunnel boondoggle, they’re on the verge of running out of money,” said Krieger.
Krieger said DWR’s quandary comes at a critical time for the BDCP. "The administration has yet to make a strong ‘business case’ for the Twin Tunnels. The lavishly expensive project is being pushed at a time of growing public resistance to gigantic infrastructure projects that have no palpable benefit,” she stated.
“As the facts emerge about the BDCP, it is clear the plan will not increase the state’s net supply of water, the Delta will be placed at great risk, and the beneficiaries will be a handful of corporate farms in the western San Joaquin Valley and Tulare Basin, not southern California urban ratepayers,” Krieger emphasized.
She also said secure funding is becoming increasingly elusive. “A large water bond seems foredoomed to failure,” noted Krieger. “Property owners are thus the only viable alternative.”
‘The $125 million dollars that ratepayers and taxpayers will cough up to pay for DWR’s shortfall is just the beginning. It will take an additional $1.2 billion to complete the planning process for the Twin Tunnels,” Krieger noted.
She said that if the project moves forward, many California residents will see their properties taxes and water rates rise to support the $67 billion Twin Tunnels.
“Few state citizens understand their properties can be so encumbered without a vote or even token input. Unfortunately, they may be about to receive an object lesson in property taxation without representation,” she summed up.
The twin tunnels won't create one drop of new water, but they will lead to horrendous environmental degradation, according to tunnel critics. The construction of the tunnels will hasten the extinction of Central Valley Chinook salmon, Delta and longfin smelt and other fish species, as well as imperil the salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.
Tunnels Background: CWIN and other BDCP opponents say Brown's "legacy" project will destroy the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas that provides a nursery for many species. It will harm salmon, halibut, leopard shark, soupfin shark, sevengill shark, anchovy, sardine, herring, groundfish and Dungeness crab populations stretching from Southern Washington to Southern California.
Under the guise of habitat restoration, the BDCP will take vast tracts of Delta farmland, among the most fertile on the planet, out of production in order to irrigate toxic, drainage impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and provide Delta water to Southern California developers and oil companies conducting fracking and steam injection operations in Kern County.
The tunnels are being constructed in tandem with the federal government's plan to raise Shasta Dam, a project that will flood many of the remaining sacred sites of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe that weren't inundated by Shasta Dam.
Rally Against The Tunnels: Restore the Delta, C-WIN and other groups opposed to the construction of the twin tunnels will rally on July 29 at the West Steps of State Capitol, 10th St and Capitol Street, Sacramento at 11:30 AM. July 29 is the final day of the public comment period for the Bay Delta Conservation and the EIS/EIR. The rally will feature a variety of speakers and music.
To RSVP for the bus ride from Stockton or Oakley or if you have any questions relating to event, please contact Stina [at] restorethedelta.org or call (209) 475-9550. For more information, go to: http://restorethedelta.org/events
CRAIG DIDN'T DO IT.
Warm spiritual greetings, I need some solidarity from you. It is time for me to leave New Orleans, and I need to either go to Washington D.C. for spiritual direct action, or return to California. I did the absolute best that I could, but am not receiving any significant responses from anybody to do anything further at all, in terms of peace & justice/radical environmentalism. It is truly unfortunate that postmodern America is adrift. I didn't do it! Please help, Craig Louis Stehr Telephone messages c/o Bork: (504) 302-9951 Permanent email address: CraigStehr@pamho.net Snail mail: 333 Socrates Street, New Orleans, LA 70114