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Mendocino County Today: Wednesday, July 30, 2014

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THE BERRY FAMILY MATTER was the subject of two court sessions today in front of Judge Cindee Mayfield. We hope to have a report on what happened tomorrow, and will post it pronto.

COMPLICATING CHILD CUSTODY cases in Mendocino County is the absence of identifiable authority at the County's children's protective services unit. All decisions are now agency decisions, not individual social worker decisions. Mendo Social Services has murked-up the lines of responsibility “to protect social workers from being torn apart on the witness stand,” as a former social worker explained the shift from the specific to the general.

OF COURSE social workers wouldn't be “torn up” on the witness stand if they could plausibly defend their decisions. Besides which, whomever CPS shoves into the breech is still going to get an occasional grilling. Someone will wind up on the stand. It comes with the job.

CPS is represented by the County Counsel's office, which means two people getting “torn up,” the CPS person and some shuffling drone from County Counsel.

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A READER describes the Navarro River near Philo as of Tuesday morning: “On a steady slow pace each day the river is looking lower and lower. The gauge for the past week has been swinging daily up and down suggesting a regular daily pumping schedule by someone. I did email USGS to ask if they knew what was causing the swing, but other than being notified by one USGS worker that she forwarded my question to someone who might know I have heard nothing else. There are quite a few real little fishies — occasionally a dead one but that is not unusual. Hardly any of the 3-4 inch California roach, lots of little frogs and here and there a big croaker. I regularly see egrets, occasionally a great blue heron, but have not seen an otter in quite a while. Algae is quite prevalent but that doesn't seem too unusual given the low flow state of the water. I can't imagine what it will look like in September.”

ANDREW WATSON of the US Geological Survey wrote back: “Subject: 11468000 Navarro River. Due to low flow conditions our sensors were not properly tracking the gage-heights. We initially thought we had solved the problem on 7/18 by using a lower sensor line. After ruling out the possibility of the fluctuations being caused by localized pumping we made a repeat trip today (7/29) and found the backup sensor line damaged. We have rectified the problem and the data on the web will be edited.”

AND ANOTHER READER chips in, “I spoke with a North Coast friend last week about the drought and he mentioned that some water haulers were running out of sources for water to haul. Scary times.”

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by Robyn Spector

This coming Sunday, August 3rd, we are celebrating our fantastic community by holding a benefit carnival with a great raffle and auction to support two of our friends and their families. Mark and Charlie are both recovering well from their accidents, and facing their upcoming rehabilitation and surgery bravely.

The benefit will run from 5-10pm at the AV Grange. There will be music by local bands the Real Sarahs, the Hubberts, and the Ukaholics throughout the event. There will be a lot of opportunity to visit with a lot of people — and beat them at games of chance! We will have carnival games such as chicken bingo and cake walks every half hour both inside and outside around the building, as well as other games that can be played at any time. Our revelry can be documented with a photo booth, hand painted with a fireman motif, by Paula Gray. Delicious food by local restaurants, BoonDogs, Alicia's Tacos, and Paysanne's sweets. Beer & Wine will be offered by the Lion's Club. All proceeds will go to support Mark and Charlie.

The silent and live auctions and raffle will be hosted by our WDan of KZYX fame. The live auction will run from 6:30-7:15, and again after the raffle winners are announced at 8 until 9. The silent auction closes at 9, so be sure you’re here early to see all of the fantastic items and services that have been generously donated by members of our community.

Some of the auction items:

• 12 person catered dinner with wine offered by Jeanne Eliades and Larry Maillard; pig hunt offered by Larry Maillard; house concerts from both the Ukaholics and Joe Blow (two separate concerts); Horseback ride on the beach for two, offered by Robyn Spector; 2 annual memberships to CalStar and Ambulance; 2 separate pigs, cut and wrapped, one offered by Torrey and Alan Douglas, one offered by the folks at Acorn Ranch…

We are looking forward to a fun evening with a lot of opportunity to collect monetary support for our friends, Mark Pitner and Charlie Paget-Seekins. As parking can easily become an issue at community events at the Hrange, we are all encouraged to carpool.

People wishing to donate money can either bring CASH or checks written to the AV Ambulance. There will be a table staffed throughout the evening with information on Mark and Charlie where people can safely leave donations of any kind. Donations of skills, services, or useful items are also welcome. Unless requested otherwise by the giver, all donations will be split 50/50 between Mark and Charlie. If you would like your donation given specifically to one of these guys, that can also be arranged.

Mark and Charlie are both doing really well. Mark has been accepted into the UC Davis stroke rehab center, and with his partner, Joansey, is working hard at healing every day. Charlie is home with his partner, Misha, and is able to help with chores at home. Both guys have more surgery to look forward to before they have completely recovered. Of course, they are very grateful for the support of their community.

Thanks to all of our friends here in the Valley, we can help our friends by having a lot of fun together at the Grange this Sunday evening, August 3rd!

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ELLEN CATHERINE TINKLER passed away on July 25, 2014 surrounded by her family after a brave battle with ALS.

EllenTinkler2Ellen was born on March 5, 1942 to Frances and Robert Hopkins in Hollywood CA, the younger sibling of Wally. They moved to Clovis, CA, where she attended Clovis High School, and played the flute in the school band, where she met Ronald Tinkler. They married in 1963. After graduating from Fresno State and getting her teaching credential, they travelled the country playing music with the Portable Folk Festival. After settling down in Philo, CA, Ellen and Ron had Naomi, and 2 years later Jesse joined the family. After staying home with the children for a few years, Ellen became a teacher at Boonville Elementary, and after getting her Master’s Degree from USF, a principal at Yokayo Elementary school. She retired 12 years ago, and had enjoyed travelling and spending time with her family and grandkids. She is survived by her husband Ron, her children Naomi (P.J.) and Jesse (Shannon), her grandchildren JT, Addie, Georgia, Lyla and Cole, and her brother Wally.

She will be forever remembered for her love of her family and friends, dedication to all the children she influenced over the years, her compassion for animals, her gift of music and her beautiful smile.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Humane Society for Inland Mendocino County, ( ) or The ALS Association ( )

A memorial service will be held at 2pm Friday, August 8th, at The Langley Home 12441 Anderson Valley Way in Boonville.

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by Katy Tahja

It’s not often a tiny town on the Mendocino Coast becomes the focus of an anthropologist writing a Masters thesis but that’s what happened in Comptche. “Finding Common Ground” is Lisa Gruwell Spicer’s in depth look at the back-to-the-land hippie immigration into Comptche in the 1970’s and she will share her stories Sunday August 24 at 4 p.m. in the Kelley House Museum in Mendocino.

Spicer arrived in Comptche in a purple school bus with her mom and three sisters and graduated from Mendocino High School in 1978 so she experienced much of what she writes about. Returning to the coast for her 30th high school reunion she was surprised at how unchanged Comptche was and wondered what made the community so cohesive. She moved back for a year and started interviewing the old timers and the reformed hippies who are becoming the new generation of old timers.

Immigrants (hippies) brought conflict and new ideas to Comptche. How was a Finnish old timer to react when “we’d go down to our favorite swimming hole and there were a bunch of nudies down there?” But some of the ideas the newcomers brought, like consensus thinking, were useful. When the County mandated Comptche Town Plan, as a part of the County General Plan, was discussed for four years beginning in 1974 the Comptche Advisory Committee (CAC) was elected from people who volunteered to serve. All of a sudden longhairs and rednecks were sitting at the same table discussing what needed to be done to keep Comptche as it was.

The term “rural commons” didn’t exist then but it refers to shared values and common areas of concern. Underneath physical appearance and varying levels of education the towns folk had a common goal-keeping the area resilient and the environment livable. Working together in the CAC, or Comptche Volunteer Fire Department, or volunteering to help make organic lunch at the Comptche School, made Comptche a fun place to live.

Spicer will share her insights into her research. Did you know there were three kinds of hippies? She’ll explain. Is anyone else studying the back-to-the-land movement? Can hippies be seen as an evolving ethnic group? Come hear what she has to say. Special invitations go out to hippies, ex-hippies, and like Spicer, the children of hippies, to attend this event. If unable to attend this event you can read her thesis in the Kelley House Library. When Spicer shared her thesis publication in a discussion in the Comptche Community Hall the room was roaring with laughter.

Set aside August 24 at the Kelley House Museum for “A Sunday Afternoon with Lisa Spicer,” Donations requested. Call 957-5791 for more info.

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by Jeff Costello

"The truth is that schools don't really teach anything except how to obey orders. This is a great mystery to me because thousands of humane, caring people work in schools as teachers and aides and administrators but the abstract logic of the institution overwhelms their individual contributions. Although teachers do care and do work very hard, the institution is psychopathic - it has no conscience. It rings a bell and the young man in the middle of writing a poem must close his notebook and move to a different cell..."

— John Taylor Gatto on the dumbing down of American children.

“…Next time you leave your job at five, remember you're appearing live. And the things you do and the things you say won't be on TV, next Tuesday. Still you pass the riots by, and you let evil cross your eye, as you rush home so you can turn on your TV set."

— John Stephens

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Today's news: It's tragic. A tragedy. At the end of the day, a game changer. We must level the playing field. The bottom line, boots on the ground in harm's way. Those responsible will be held accountable and brought to justice. More news any minute.

It's taken me until age 67 to realize the meaning of "having one's head up one's ass." Better late than never. It's a funny visual image, good for a laugh. Someone even posted a picture of a skeleton, supposedly dug up somewhere, with its head apparently up its ass, with a funny caption about "the first politician."

So what's it mean, anyway? George Carlin had a joke regarding hippies and home-grown pot. "He's smoking his own shit." You mean he grows his own weed? "No man, he's smoking his own shit." To have your head up your ass is to be inundated, surrounded by, and entirely obsessed with, your own shit. This makes it impossible to be aware of anything outside of yourself. It is pure ignorance of the type demonstrated every day by millions of Americans. This is not philosophical — we can't even call it solipsism.

I've been a careful observer of people’s shopping carts at supermarket checkouts. The fat people are buying high-calorie junk. They either don't know how to eat or don't care. More interesting are the ones buying nothing that isn't advertised on TV. There was an article by Davd Macaray in Counterpunch about the TV-addled mind. I wrote to tell him about a friend who, in the course of a conversation expressed his agreement to the other person by saying, "You got it, Toyota." This was a jingle in a car commercial in the 80s. Macaray, not terribly surprised, wrote back to say he knew someone who did the exact same thing. Anyone thinking television isn't messing with their mind needs to think again.

In the early 90s I was at the AVA when an article by Alex Cockburn arrived in the mail. It was typewritten, with things crossed off and handwritten corrections in pencil. Thinking of this, it occurs to me that a good example of head-up-the-ass behavior is all those people walking around staring into their smartphones. It's one way to construct a little false world from which one doesn't feel the need to leave.

And facebook has made a "writer" out of everyone, leading to lots of well-meaning but sarcastic people attempting to correct the rampant bad spelling, ignorance of words and general grammar. Good luck, kids. Trying to teach grade school English to adults with their heads up their asses is like trying to teach people with nothing to say how to write it down. (Betty MacDonald, Anybody Can to Anything).

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ON JULY 20, 2014, at about 7:30 PM, Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched to a residence in the 38000 block of South Highway One, Gualala, for a reported strong arm robbery which had just occurred at the location. Deputies determined the victim, Rogelio Sanchez Lopez, 54, of Gualala, suffered a stab wound to the leg, contusions to the head, including his left eye and he was physically restrained from escaping by two suspects, identified as Randy Pike Jr., 23, of Point Arena and Peggy Hernandez, 54, of Point Arena. The victim was subsequently transported by air ambulance to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital for treatment of his injuries. The victim reported at least $5,000 were physically removed from his person during the assault.

Pike, Hernanez
Pike, Hernanez

On July 22, 2014, the victim positively identified Randy Pike Jr. and Peggy Hernandez as the suspects. In addition, through a Spanish speaking detective, it was learned the victim was threatened with death during the assault and felt in danger of losing his life. During the morning hours of 07/25/14, the investigation revealed Pike was likely in the area of the Hopland Reservation. A Mendocino County Sheriff's Detective responded to the area and located Pike in the suspect vehicle traveling on Highway 175. Mendocino County Sheriff's Detectives and patrol deputies responded to the Hopland Sho-Ka-Wah Casino where they located and arrested Pike without incident for Attempted Murder, Robbery, Conspiracy, and False Imprisonment. Pike was lodged at the Mendocino County Jail where he is being held with bail set at $250,000.

As of the date of this press release, Peggy Hernandez remains outstanding. She is known to have multiple contacts in the Gualala/Point Arena area but may be also be associated with the transient population in the Ukiah area. Anyone with information regarding the location of Peggy Hernandez or facts concerning this case is urged to contact the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office (707-463-4086) or Detective Luis Espinoza (707-463-4107).

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ON JULY 28, 2014 at approximately 2:10 AM, Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies received an agency assistance request from the California Highway Patrol in regards to stopping a reported stolen vehicle. It was reported the stolen vehicle was approaching the City of Willits on North Highway 101. Deputies responded to the 19000 block of North Highway 101 and assisted the Willits Police Department and the California Highway Patrol who had conducted a traffic stop of the vehicle. During the high risk traffic stop the driver of the vehicle, Alejandro Gonzalez, 23, of Fort Bragg, was verbally ordered out of the vehicle and back to where the Deputies vehicles were located. Once Deputies made contact with Gonzalez they began to handcuff him. During this process Gonzalez began to resist the Deputies and he made a furtive movement towards his sweatshirt pocket. Deputies were able to restrain Gonzalez on the ground and place him into handcuffs, with no other use of force needed. Gonzalez was placed under arrest for Unlawful Taking of a Vehicle, and Resisting or Obstructing a Peace Officer and then transported to the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in lieu of $15,000 bail.

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ON JULY 24, 2014 the County of Mendocino Marijuana Eradication Team (COMMET) was assisting the Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force (MMCTF) with the service of several drug related search warrants in the northern portion of Mendocino County. On July 24, 2014 at 10:30 AM COMMET personnel responded to a piece of property in the 7000 block of Homestead Lane in Piercy, California with the assistance from Game Wardens with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Upon arriving at the search warrant location COMMET personnel contacted Calixto Fortunato Canastuj-Garcia, 48 of Sacramento, and Jaime Hernandez, 35, of Sacramento who were both working in 1 of 2 marijuana gardens. During investigations COMMET personnel located a total of 180 outdoor growing marijuana plants that ranged in height from 3 to 8 feet tall. Approximately 300 pounds of shake marijuana, along with packaging materials were located in a residence on the property. Canastuj-Garcia and Hernandez were booked into the Mendocino County Jail for charges of marijuana cultivation and possession of marijuana for sale. Both were to be held in lieu of $25,000 bail.

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ON JULY 28, 2014 at approximately 12:45 AM, Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies conducted a traffic stop on Highway 101 near Monica Lane in Willits, California. During the traffic stop the front right passenger, who stated her name was last of Turner, was contacted and found to be in possession of approximately .04 grams of methamphetamine during a consent search. The female was also found to be in possession of a used Methamphetamine pipe. As the Deputies continued with their investigation they learned the female's true name was Ashley Rashell Azevedo, 28, of Willits and that she was falsely using the name Turner, who was her cousin. Upon further investigation Deputies determined Azevedo was on Felony Probation in Mendocino County with an obey all laws clause. Azevedo was arrested and transported to the Mendocino County Jail where she was booked for Unauthorized use of Personal Identifying Information, Possession of a Controlled Substance, Violation of Probation, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and was to be held on a No Bail status.

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ON JULY 26, 2014 at about 12:15am Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office were patrolling the 500 block of Cropley Lane in Willits, California when they were contacted by Carla Annette Taylor, 49, of Willits, who was walking in the area with a flashlight. Taylor flagged the Deputies down and asked if she could help them. Deputies explained they were patrolling the area and noticed Taylor was displaying symptoms of methamphetamine influence. Deputies detained Taylor and completed a drug influence evaluation. Taylor was found to be under the influence of a controlled substance and was subsequently arrested for the violation. A search of Taylor's purse revealed approximately 2 grams of suspected methamphetamine. Taylor was arrested for possession of methamphetamine as well as being under the influence of a controlled substance. Taylor was transported and booked into the Mendocino County Jail where she was to be held in lieu of $20,000 bail.

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ON JULY 24, 2014 at approximately 5:00am Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office were called to the 44000 block of Willis Avenue in Laytonville, California (The Healthy Start Building) regarding vandalism. Upon arrival Deputies noted that nearly every window to the building had been broken and a vehicle at the location also had a broken window. No property appeared to be taken from the building and $4,000.00 was the estimate of the total damage. In an attempt to locate any suspect(s), Deputies searched the area at which time they located a possible suspect in a creek bed west of the building. Contact was attempted and a short foot pursuit occurred wherein the Deputies were unable to detain the suspect. At about 9:00am Deputies received additional vandalism reports from owners of residences in proximity of the Healthy Start Building. While investigating these crimes the same suspect was observed in the area by the Deputies. Once again the suspect ran from the presence of the Deputies which resulted in a second foot pursuit. The suspect was eventually apprehended and subsequently identified as being Bruce Bates Jr., 35, of Laytonville, California. Further investigation determined that at least 4 other citizens in the area had property vandalized by Bates. The combined damage committed by Bates exceeded $6,500. (This amount includes the Healthy Start Building). At the time of the investigation there was no indication that Bates was under the influence of drugs or alcohol during the incident. Bates was booked into the Mendocino County Jail on charges of vandalism and willfully resisting, obstructing or delaying a Peace Officer in the performance of his/her duties. Bates was to be held in lieu of $15,000 bail.

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ON JULY 21, 2014 at about 9:27 AM, Ukiah Police Department Officers were dispatched to CVS Pharmacy, 155 S. Orchard Ave. regarding to two adult males involved in a verbal fight in front of the business. Over the past few months calls for service within the Orchard Plaza, where CVS Pharmacy is located, have increased due to transient related issues. These calls are primarily related to panhandling and/or camping complaints. Panhandling violations have increased to the point that people are now being aggressively panhandled while at the ATM machines. Frequently, the calls for service at this location involve a subject known as 31 year old Scotty Willis. Willis has repeatedly been seen panhandling by these ATMs. When officers arrived at the location they contacted Willis and a second adult male, who stated that he confronted Willis about panhandling near the ATM machine at the Redwood Credit Union. This person explained to officers that he has witnessed Willis panhandling at that location several times and told Willis to leave. When Willis was told to leave, Willis threatened him with a knife. Due to Willis threatening him with the knife, he retrieved a baseball bat from his vehicle and began to warn Willis to stay away from him. It was at this point officers arrived. Officers conducted a search of Willis’ person for weapons and found a black handled folding knife concealed on his front left waistband. Upon examination of the knife, it was found to be a switchblade knife. During this contact it was also learned that Willis is currently on probation. Willis was arrested for possession of a dangerous weapon and violation of his probation. (Ukiah Police Department Press Release)

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ON JULY 23, 2014 at about 1:19 AM, Ukiah Police Department Officers were dispatched to the 900 block of Waugh Lane regarding a subject sitting in the middle of the street. Upon officers arrival they contacted 41 year old Gabriel Campos. As officers approached Campos, they noticed the odor of alcohol emitting from his person and that he displayed several symptoms of being under the influence of alcohol. Officers asked Campos what he was doing and he explained to them that he was making a place for himself to sleep for the night. When officers pointed out to Campos that he was in the middle of the street he seemed to be unaware of this. Campos was arrested for public intoxication. (Ukiah Police Department Press Release)

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CATCH OF THE DAY, July 29, 2014

Acosta, Azevedo, Burns, Campos, Delgado, Dusky
Acosta, Azevedo, Burns, Campos, Delgado, Dusky

AURELIO ACOSTA, Ukiah. Possession, sale, transportation, furnish to minor of organic drugs.

ASHLEY AZEVEDO, Ukiah. Possession of meth & drug paraphernalia, fake ID, probation revocation.

DAVID BURNS, Fort Bragg. Probation/Supervision revocation.

SALVADOR CAMPOS, Ukiah. Driving on DUI-suspended license.

JOHNNY DELGADO, Fort Bragg. Violation of restraining order.

JOSHUA DUSKY, Willits. Drunk in public.

Murillo-Gonzalez, Kroll, Lawrence, Lopez, Maxfield, Moreno
Murillo-Gonzalez, Kroll, Lawrence, Lopez, Maxfield, Moreno

ALEJANDRO MURRILO-GONZALEZ, Fort Bragg. Vehicle theft.

DAVID KROLL, Ukiah. Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer)

DEBORAH LAWRENCE, Ukiah. Under influence of controlled substance, probation revocation.

CARLOS LOPEZ, Windsor/Ukiah. DUI, driving on license previously suspended for DUI, probation revocation.

BRANDON MAXFIELD, Willits. Resisting arrest, probation revocation.

ROBERT MORENO, Ukiah. Domestic assault with corporal injury.

Moreno, Palmer, Roediger, Schuler, Spier, Woolley
Moreno, Palmer, Roediger, Schuler, Spier, Woolley

VERONICA MORENO. Ukiah. Drunk in public.

TED PALMER, Ukiah. Possession of meth, probation revocation.

GENE ROEDIGER II, Willits. Driving on suspended license, probation revocation.

JAKE SCHULER, Willits. Domestic battery, petty theft.

GABRIEL SPIER, Ukiah. Under influence/possession of controlled substance, child endangerment.

JENNIFER TINSLEY, Ukiah. Burglary from motor vehicle, petty theft/retail, resisting arrest, probation revocation. (Picture not available.)

JOHN, WOOLLEY, Potter Valley. DUI.

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There are many that I miss

having sent my last one out a car window

sparking along the road one night, years ago.

The heralded one, of course:

after sex, the two glowing tips

now the lights of a single ship;

at the end of a long dinner

with more wine to come

and a smoke ring coasting into the chandelier;

or on a white beach,

holding one with fingers still wet from a swim.

How bittersweet these punctuations

of flame and gesture;

but the best were on those mornings

when I would have a little something going

in the typewriter,

the sun bright in the windows,

maybe some Berlioz on in the background.

I would go into the kitchen for coffee

and on the way back to the page,

curled in its roller,

I would light one up and feel

its dry rush mix with the dark taste of coffee.

Then I would be my own locomotive,

trailing behind me as I returned to work

little puffs of smoke,

indicators of progress,

signs of industry and thought,

the signal that told the nineteenth century

it was moving forward.

That was the best cigarette,

when I would steam into the study

full of vaporous hope

and stand there,

the big headlamp of my face

pointed down at all the words in parallel lines.

— Billy Collins

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MENDOCINO COLLEGE IS HOLDING AN OPEN HOUSE on Monday, August 4th from 10 am to 3pm at the Fort Bragg campus. Class sign-ups will also be held. If enough people register for classes, it just might help goad Mendocino College into taking over full-time administration of the Fort Bragg school. As it stands, Mendo College has not worked out a full-time operating agreement with College of the Redwoods to make COR's Fort Bragg campus the logical extension of the Ukiah-based Mendocino College. College of the Redwood's Fort Bragg campus is administered out of distant Eureka.

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by David Sirota

The business lobby often demands that government get out of the way of private corporations, so that competition can flourish and high-quality services can be efficiently delivered to as many consumers as possible. Yet, in an epic fight over telecommunications policy, the paradigm is now being flipped on its head, with corporate forces demanding the government squelch competition and halt the expansion of those high-quality services. Whether and how federal officials act may ultimately shape the future of America's information economy.

The front line in this fight is Chattanooga, Tennessee, where officials at the city's public electric utility, EPB, realized that smart-grid energy infrastructure could also provide consumers super-fast Internet speeds at competitive prices. A few years ago, those officials decided to act on that revelation. Like a publicly traded corporation, the utility issued bonds to raise resources to invest in the new broadband project. Similarly, just as many private corporations ended up receiving federal stimulus dollars, so did EPB, which put those monies into its new network.

The result is a system that now provides the nation's fastest broadband speeds at prices often cheaper than the private competition. As the Chattanooga Times Free Press noted a few years back, "EPB offers faster Internet speeds for the money, and shows equal pep in both uploading and downloading content, with Comcast and AT&T trailing on quickness." Meanwhile, EPB officials tell the Washington Post that the utility's telecom services have become "a great profit center" -- an assertion confirmed by a Standard & Poor credit upgrade notice pointing out that the utility "is now covering all costs from telephone, video and Internet revenue, as well as providing significant financial benefit to the electric system."

This is great news for local businesses and taxpayers -- but it is terrible news for private telecom companies, who not only fear being outcompeted and outperformed in Chattanooga, but also fear the Chattanooga model being promoted in other cities. In response, those telecom firms have been abandoning the standard argument about the private sector. Indeed, as the Times Free Press reported last week, rather than insisting the private sector has inherent advantages over the public sector, the firms have gone to court insisting "that EPB, as a public entity, would have an edge when competing against private companies, which would be at a disadvantage when facing an entity owned by taxpayers."

To date, those court cases have been thwarted by EPB. However, it is a different story in state legislatures. Once again abandoning the business lobby's typical call for less government intervention, telecom firms have successfully pushed 20 states to pass laws limiting the reach of community-owned utilities like EPB.

That's where Washington comes in. With Census figures showing more than 1 in 5 Tennessee residents having no Internet connection, EPB is now proposing to offer its ultra-fast services to new communities. But it needs the Federal Communications Commission to preempt the Tennessee statute prohibiting the utility from competing with private telecom companies outside its current market.

For EPB, the good news is that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has repeatedly pledged that in the name of competition and broadband access, he will support preempting state laws like Tennessee's. However, in a capital run by money, EPB may still be politically overpowered. After all, as a community-owned utility in a midsized city, EPB does not have the lobbyists and campaign cash to match those of behemoths like Comcast and AT&T. What the utility does have is a solid track record and a pro-consumer, pro-competition argument.

The question is: Will that be enough to prevent Wheeler from backing down or being blocked by Congress? The future of the Internet may be at stake in the answer.

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The Connections Between Fake Marine “Protection” And Brown’s Tunnel Plan

by Dan Bacher

Today, July 29, is the final day of the public comment period for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels and the Environmental Impact Statement/Report (EIS/EIR).

Restore the Delta and other groups opposed to the construction of the twin tunnels will rally today at the West Steps of State Capitol, 10th St and Capitol Street, Sacramento at 11:30 AM. The rally will feature a variety of speakers and music. For more information, go to:

One of the least discussed issues – and one of the most crucial to understanding Jerry Brown’s twin tunnel plan - is the undeniable connection between the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative and the BDCP.

The privately-funded MLPA Initiative and the Bay Delta Conservation to build the peripheral tunnels at first may appear to be entirely different processes.

The MLPA Initiative, a process begun in 2004 under the Schwarzenegger administration, purported to create a network of "marine protected areas" along the California coast. The network was supposedly completed on December 19, 2012 with the imposition of widely-contested "marine protected areas" along the North Coast.

On the other hand, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan is a process begun under the Bush and Schwarzenegger administrations to achieve the co- equal goals of water supply reliability and Delta ecosystem restoration. The Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement was released to the public on Monday, December 9 and the 120 day public comment period will begin on Friday, December 13.

However, in spite of some superficial differences, the two processes are united by their leadership, funding, greenwashing goals, racism and denial of tribal rights, junk science and numerous conflicts of interest. When people educate themselves on the links between the two processes, I believe they can more effectively wage a successful campaign against the twin tunnels.

Mike Carpenter, a sea urchin diver and organizer of a fundraiser for the California Fisheries Coalition in Albion on the Mendocino coast, made the vital connection between the MLPA process and Schwarzenegger's campaign to build a peripheral canal back in 2009 when the battle against the creation of fake "marine protected areas" on the North Coast was amping up.

Carpenter emphasized that the MLPA Initiative was just a "cover-up" for the Governor's plans to build a peripheral canal or tunnel around the California Delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas, through the Delta Vision and Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) process. Carpenter's words have proven very prophetic, considering what has happened since that time.

How are the peripheral tunnels plan and MLPA process linked by leadership, funding, greenwashing goals, racism and denial of tribal rights, junk science and conflicts of interest?

1. Leadership: Phil Isenberg, a former Sacramento Mayor and Assemblyman, chaired the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force to create fake "marine protected areas" on the Central Coast from 2004 to 2007. Isenberg then went on to Chair the Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force that advocated building a peripheral canal or tunnel.

After that process was finished, he went on to chair the Delta Stewardship Council created under the water policy/water bond legislative package of 2009. Under his leadership, the Council released a Delta Plan that creates a clear path to the construction of the peripheral tunnels. The deeply-flawed plan is now being contested in court by 7 lawsuits from a diverse array of water contractors, agribusiness interests, urban water agencies, environmentalists, Indian Tribes and fishing groups.

John Laird, former State Senator and the current Natural Resources Secretary, is the key cheerleader for both the MLPA Initiative and the peripheral tunnels. He oversaw the completion of the fake "marine protected areas" for both the South Coast in January 2012 and the North Coast on December 2012, in spite of overwhelming opposition by fishermen, Tribal leaders and grassroots environmentalists.

2. Funding: The Resources Legacy Fund Foundation and David and Lucille Packard Foundation both funded the MLPA Initiative, along with giving millions of dollars to the "environmental" NGOs that support both the MLPA and BDCP processes. ( )

Five non-profits donated a total of $20 million for the creation of "marine protected areas" under the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative. The Packard Foundation, the biggest contributor to the widely-criticized process, contributed $8.2 million to the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation to fund MLPA hearings.

The Packard Foundation also helped fund, along with the Stephen Bechtel Foundation, several PPIC reports advocating the construction of the peripheral tunnels as the "solution" to California's water problems and ecosystem restoration.

3. Greenwashing Goals: Desperately needed actions to restore our ocean, bay and Delta waters have been substituted under the MLPA Initiative with the imposition of redundant fishing closures on the most heavily regulated ocean waters on the planet to further the Governor's "green" facade.

The alleged "marine reserves" created under the MLPA scam fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil drilling, pollution, military testing, wind and wave energy projects and all human impacts on the ocean than fishing and gathering - at a time when the ocean is under assault by the oil industry, corporate polluters and ocean industrialists.

In the case of the Delta Vision and BDCP processes, the dire need to restore the Delta by decreasing water exports and retiring drainage impaired land on the San Joaquin Valley's west side has been substituted with plans to build twin tunnels and increase water exports to corporate agribusiness, developers and oil companies while taking Delta family farms out of production under the guise of “habitat restoration.”

4. Racism and denial of tribal rights: Tribal and environmental justice communities in both processes have been excluded in a classic example of environmental racism.

The racism of the MLPA process was demonstrated when the Yurok Tribe was banned from harvesting abalone, mussels and seaweed off their traditional areas off the False Klamath and Reading Rock as they have done for thousands of years under the "marine protected areas" that went into effect off the coast last December.

And in spite of direct action protests and outrage by Tribal members, fishermen and grassroots environmentalists over the flawed Initiative, the MLPA Initiative still fails to recognize tribal gathering rights in no take "State Marine Reserves," allowing tribal gathering only in "State Marine Conservation Areas" where some fishing and gathering is already allowed.

Likewise, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan has been developed without the required consent from California Tribes, as required under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. In fact, the first formal informational meeting for California Tribes on the BDCP was held on December 10, 2013, in Sacramento - the day after the EIR/EIS for the tunnel plan was released.

That is hardly "government-to-government" consultation, as required under state, federal and international law.

“There is no precedent for the killing of an estuary of this size, so how could any study be trusted to protect the Delta for salmon and other fish?" asked Caleen Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. "How can they even know what the effects will be? The end of salmon would also mean the end of Winnemem, so the BDCP is a threat to our very existence as indigenous people.”

This environmental injustice extends to non-English speakers in California impacted by both processes. MLPA Initiative officials failed to translate the process documents into Spanish and other languagues, in spite of the fact that coastal communities impacted by the creation of alleged “marine protected areas” included large numbers of non-English speakers.

Likewise, Restore the Delta (RTD) and environmental justice advocates charge the Brown Administration with violation of the civil rights of more than 600,000 non-English speakers in the Delta by its agencies' failure to provide for “meaningful access to and participation” in the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) public comment period.

"More than 600,000 Delta residents alone don't speak English, and are being shut out of the public comment process on this massive project that would affect them deeply," said Esperanza Vielma, executive director of Café Coop & Environmental Justice Representative, San Joaquin County/San Joaquin Valley Air Quality Board. "The Brown Administration is violating the civil rights of Limited English speaking Californians in its rush to build tunnels to serve the top 1% of industrial agriculture." ( )

5. Junk Science: Both the MLPA Initiative and BDCP fiasco have relied on false assumptions and flawed data with little or no basis in natural science to advance their goals and objectives.

In the case of the MLPA Initiative, the Yurok Tribe said it attempted on numerous occasions to address the scientific inadequacies with the MLPA science developed under the Schwarzenegger administration by adding "more robust protocols" into the equation, but was denied every time.

The Northern California Tribal Chairman's Association, including the Chairs of the Elk Valley Rancheria, Hoopa Valley Tribe, Karuk Tribe, Smith River Rancheria, Trinidad Rancheria, and Yurok Tribe, documented in a letter how the science behind the MLPA Initiative developed by Schwarzenegger's Science Advisory Team is "incomplete and terminally flawed." ( )

Frankie Joe Myers, Yurok Tribal member and Coastal Justice Coalition activist, exposed the refusal to incorporate Tribal science that underlies the "science" of the MLPA process on the day of the historic direct action protest by a coalition of over 50 Tribes and their allies in Fort Bragg in July 2010.

“The whole process is inherently flawed by institutionalized racism," said Myers. "It doesn't recognize Tribes as political entities, or Tribal biologists as legitimate scientists." ( )

To make things even worse, a federal judge in May sentenced Ron LeValley of Mad River Biologists, the former co-chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Science Advisory Team for the North Coast, to a 10 month federal prison sentence for his role in a conspiracy to embezzle over $852,000 in federal funds from the Yurok Tribe!

In February, LeValley pleaded guilty to a single federal charge of conspiracy to commit embezzlement and theft from an Indian Tribal Organization (18U.S.C §§ 371 and 1163) in the complex scheme in collaboration with former Yurok Forestry Director Roland Raymond. According to court documents, LeValley submitted more than 75 false invoices between 2007 and 2010 in payment for “work” on northern spotted owl surveys that was never performed. The link to the indictment is available at: .

The BDCP “science” is also a sham. On July 18, 2013 scientists from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Marine Fisheries Service exposed the hollowness of Secretary John Laird and other state officials that the BDCP is based on "science." This was done after the federal agencies had already made "red flag" comments stating that the completion of the tunnel plan could hasten the extinction of Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt and other fish species.

The federal scientists provided the California Department of Water Resources and the environmental consultants with 44 pages of comments highly critical of the Consultant Second Administrative Draft EIR/ EISDraft, released on May 10, 2013. The agencies found, among other things, that the draft environmental documents were “biased,” “insufficient," "confusing," and "very subjective." ( )

More recently, Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, in his written comments sent to BDCP officials on Monday, July 29, blasted the BDCP “habitat restoration and conservation measures” for being based on "monstrous and demonstrably false premises."

“The BDCP conservation measures to improve important aquatic communities and habitats in the Delta Plan Area are wholly inadequate to mitigate for the expected effects of the BDCP,” said Jennings. “BDCP and its associated EIR/EIS fail because they are predicated upon a series of monstrous and demonstrably false premises. Based upon these premises, they serve up a many-thousand page omelet of distortion and half-truth in order to reach their predetermined conclusion.” ( )

Bob Wright of Friends of the River summed up the complete lack of science that the BDCP is based upon when he said, "Government agencies calling the BDCP a conservation plan is a fraud on the public."

"The plan is to grab the water and in the process take it away from designated critical habitat for several already endangered and threatened species of fish including Sacramento River Winter-Run and Central Valley Spring-Run Chinook Salmon and drive them into extinction. That is against the law because federal agencies are prohibited from doing that by the Endangered Species Act," said Wright.

6. Conflicts of Interest: The Blue Ribbon Task Forces to create “marine protected areas” were filled with individuals with numerous conflicts of interest, including a big oil lobbyist, a marine corporation executive and a coastal real estate developer.

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the president of the Western States Petroleum Association and a relentless advocate for offshore oil drilling, fracking, the Keystone XL Pipeline and the weakening of environmental laws, chaired the South Coast MLPA Blue Ribbon Task that developed the MPAs that went into effect in Southern California waters on January 1, 2012. She also served on the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Forces for the North Coast, North Central Coast and Central Coast.

While Reheis-Boyd served on the task forces to "protect" the ocean, the same oil industry that the "marine guardian" represents was conducting environmentally destructive hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations off the Southern California coast. Documents recently obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and media investigations by Associated Press and reveal that the ocean has been fracked at least 203 times in the past 20 years, including the period from 2004 to 2012 that Reheis-Boyd served as a "marine guardian.”

In the case of the BDCP, the proverbial fox is also in charge of the hen house. Governor Jerry Brown this September appointed Laura King Moon of Woodland, a lobbyist for the state’s water exporters, as chief deputy director of the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). (

Moon had been a project manager for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan since 2011 while “on loan” from the State Water Contractors, an association of 27 public agencies from Northern, Central and Southern California that purchase water under contract from the California State Water Project.

DWR also hired Susan Ramos, Deputy General Manager of the Westlands Water District, "on loan" from the district to serve as "a liaison between all relevant parties" surrounding the Delta Habitat Conservation and Conveyance Program (DHCCP) and provide "technical and strategic assistance" to DWR. ( )

Documents obtained by this reporter under the California Public Records Act revealed that Ramos was hired in an "inter-jurisdictional personal exchange agreement" between the DWR and Westlands from November 15, 2009 through December 31, 2010. The contract was extended to run through December 31, 2011 and again to continue through December 31, 2012.

We can see that MLPA and BDCP processes have much in common in terms of their leadership, funding, greenwashing goals, racism and denial of tribal rights, junk science and numerous conflicts of interest. I believe that people can more effectively oppose the Governor's twin tunnel plan by understanding the dark links between the MLPA Initiative and BDCP.

The unjust implementation of fake "marine protected areas" under the MLPA Initiative also provides a cautionary tale for activists fighting the Bay Delta Conservation Plan - the fact that science, state, federal and international laws and the majority of people are on your side doesn't necessarily mean that you will prevail. The state and federal governments have a long history of implementing projects that don't make any scientific, legal or economic sense because powerful corporate interests effectively bought off and manipulated agency and elected officials to produce a pre-determined outcome.

It is vital that people fighting against the BDCP and for the restoration of salmon and other fish populations in California learn from both the successes and mistakes of MLPA Initiative opponents so they can more effectively wage a successful campaign to stop the construction of Governor Jerry Brown's twin tunnels.

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