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Mendocino County Today: Friday, August 22, 2014

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AS OF AUGUST 20 at 5pm the Lodge Complex Wilderness Fire was 95% contained at 12,535 acres. Five engines and eight clean-up crews were backed up by 9 bulldozers, 1 helicopter, 11 water tenders with 366 firefighters on scene. On Wednesday evening CalFire reported that “Crews continue mopping up and looking for hot spots within the contingency lines; steep terrain is making access difficult. Interior portions of the fire will continue to burn and may produce smoke for an extended period of time in the Laytonville area. Fire Suppression Repair and Rehabilitation will continue throughout the fire area. Resources continue to be released from the fire to other incidents or back to their home units.”

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FORT BRAGG MAYOR DAVE TURNER issued the following statement late Tuesday night:

“August 19, 2014, the City Council held a closed session to evaluate the City Manager's performance. In the course of that closed session, the City Council met separately with Chief Scott Mayberry and City Manager Linda Ruffing. In response to Chief Mayberry's concerns, the City Council has formed an ad hoc committee to recommend policies to improve departmental and human resource interactions. We are deeply saddened that Chief Mayberry has decided to retire and wish him the best in his next endeavor. We ask that the community continue the work that Chief Mayberry achieved, stay involved with your neighborhood groups, and reach out to our officers. Fort Bragg is a safe place to live, and with your help it will continue to be so. We commend our management team, police force, and the entire City staff for their hard work and commitment to the City, and the many accomplishments they achieve on a regular basis.”

TURNER'S DISINGENUOUS BAFFLEGAB ASIDE, it's clear that Mayberry was pushed out by the Fort Bragg City Council and Linda Ruffing, city manager. The real prob seems to be Ruffing's micro-management of the police department coupled to the city's failure to pay cops well enough to keep them. The Fort Bragg police are the lowest paid in Mendocino County, and they are perennially understaffed in a context of ever more crime, including gang-related crime.

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DAVID GURNEY has come up with a novel strategy to derail the County's plans to log a small county-owned parcel adjacent to the Little River Airport.

“Mr. Sternberg [Roger Sternberg, the County’s forester on the Little River Airport logging project],

You have knowingly submitted the attached documents, on the record, at an open meeting of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors, that includes a letter dated June 8, 2014 from a convicted felon, due to be incarcerated in Federal prison the following month. Mr. LeValley conducted the mentioned surveys during the same time period he was engaged in criminal activities in Humboldt County. As a Registered Professional Forester, you should know that such practice is not only unethical, but the information in the report should be deemed highly unreliable and untrustworthy. We are asking that a new wildlife/habitat survey be conducted by someone who can be trusted.”

PART OF THE PROBLEM with Mr. Gurney’s argument (besides his having already raised it during his presentation to the Board and no one seeming to care) is the following statement made by Bill Heil, long-time forestry advocate on the Coast who also opposed the logging and recommended that the County explore selling or leasing the 57 acres of trees involved to a local non-profit:

“Ron LeValley is a friend. I respect him greatly. He specializes in marine birds. In walking in that forest before we started talking about harvesting it, walking it afterwards and particularly going in the core area — even the amount of logging that was done changed it. You can’t grow timber and have an old growth forest. But I was thinking that the model was going to be the Arcata forest where the idea was to enhance those old growth characteristics that are there. In Mendocino County second growth, really unentered second growth, is the closest thing to old growth we got, certainly anywhere on the Coast. And I think that should be protected, starting by protecting the core area and thinning from below would be a good way to start. So making a deal with some other entity, maybe a local land trust, and working out the details on how to do that would solve this problem for you all, forever.”

ONLY SUPERVISOR DAN HAMBURG was interested in considering this idea. The other four Supervisors supported logging the area this year, primarily because, as Supervisor McCowen said, “As Chair Pinches said, so far we’ve been throwing good money after bad.” And they voted 4-1 to proceed with the project in spite of the recommendation from staff to postpone the job for a year in the hope of getting a better bid for the wood than the one bid they got from Mendocino Forest Products/Mendocino Redwoods Corporation.

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STOP THE PRESSES! Ukiah Daily Journal front page headline, August 21, 2014: “Ukiah City Council: Chipotle not fast food.”

GLAD Ukiah got that one off everyone's minds.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, August 21, 2014

Brogie, Colberg, Cole, Cummings, Davis, Erich
Brogie, Colberg, Cole, Cummings, Davis, Erich

BRANDY BROGIE, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public.

ALISSA COLBERG, Fort Bragg. Felony probation revocation.

LEE ANN COLE, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public, probation revocation.

KATHRYN CUMMINGS, Clearlake. Civil bench warrant, probation revocation.

BRANDON DAVIS, Willits. DUI, probation revocation.

LOIS ERICH, Contempt of court, probation revocation.

Fabian, Fischer, Gregson, Quinones, Rudd, Wright
Fabian, Fischer, Gregson, Quinones, Rudd, Wright

MICHELLE FABIAN, Ukiah. Vehicle theft, receiving stolen property, probation revocation.

AARYAN FISCHER, Ukiah. Possession of meth, probation revocation, resisting arrest.

SOREN GREGSON, Ukiah. Pot cultivation, processing, sale, armed with firearm.

AUDRA HRUSKA, Ukiah. Possession of meth for sale, possession of drug paraphernalia. (Photo not available.)

PETER QUINONES, Fort Bragg. Possession of meth, conspiracy.

AARON RUDD, Gualala. Metal knuckles, loaded firearm in public, concealed weapon (vehicle), ex-felon with firearm.

CLARENCE WRIGHT, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

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Supervisor John McCowen, Aug 12, 2014, Supervisors Report: “The North Coast Railroad Authority will meet tomorrow in Marin County. We are still working to hopefully complete a sale of a portion of the Ukiah depot property to the Administrative Office of the Courts. There are a fair number of technical issues that need to be worked out in order to make that project go forward. The courts are very intent on it and so is NCRA. Some of you may have noticed that rail spurs on the west side of the line north of Perkins up to Clara have recently been removed. That is in preparation for construction of a trail that will parallel the tracks. It's the first installment of what we all hope will ultimately be a complete trail all the way through the Ukiah Valley and eventually up to Redwood Valley and down to Hopland which would be a great attraction for the area as well as a great amenity for the people who live here.”

THE NCRA APPARATUS is basically an adjunct of the Northcoast's Democratic Party which, of course, has presented no obstacle to plans by the Mendocino County Superior Court, also heavy on lockstep Democrats, to build a new County Courthouse at the old rail station site. Rails to Trails makes the new courthouse slightly more palatable to people who aren't paying much attention as the new courthouse, unwanted by anyone other than the 9 judges themselves, moves inexorably forward.

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HOME INVASION SEASON kicked off Thursday morning a little after five when a pair of armed intruders broke into a Redwood Valley home on Colony Drive, tied up two persons, pistol-whipping one of them. The police report did not reveal what, if anything, was taken.

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BETH SWEHLA, ag teacher and FFA advisor at Anderson Valley High, will be presented a prestigious Honorary American Degree at the National FFA Convention in Louisville in October. “There is so much happening there,” Swehla said, adding that she hopes to take four AV High students with her. But the trip would cost about $5,300 and she has to raise the money in hurry. Donations made payable to the Anderson Valley Agriculture Institute can be sent to the high school, PO Box 130, Boonville 95415.

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UP ATTIC, Lucas Harrison, God rest

his frugal bones, once kept a tidy account

by knifecut of some long-gone harvest.

The wood was new. The pitch ran down to blunt

the year: 1811, the score: 10, he carved

into the center rafter to represent

his loves, beatings, losses, hours, or maybe

the butternuts that taxed his back and starved

the red squirrels higher up each scabbed tree.

1812 ran better. If it was bushels he risked,

he would have set his sons to rake them ankle deep

for wintering over, for wrinkling off their husks

while downstairs he lulled his jo to sleep.

By 1816, whatever the crop goes sour.

Three tallies cut by the knife are all

in a powder of dead flies and wood dust pale as flour.

Death, if it came then, has since gone dry and small.

But the hermit makes this up. Nothing is known

under this rooftree keel veed in with chestnut

ribs. Up attic he always hears the ghosts

of Lucas Harrison's great trees complain

chafing against their mortised pegs,

a woman in childbirth pitching from side to side

until the wet head crowns between her legs

again, and again she will bear her man astride

and out of the brawl of sons he will drive like oxen

tight at the block and tackle, whipped to the trace,

come up these burly masts, these crossties broken

from their growing and buttoned into place.

Whatever it was is now a litter of shells.

Even at noon the attic vault is dim.

The hermit carves his own name in the sill

that someone after will take stock of him.

--Maxine Kumin

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IT IS HARD TO REMAIN DRY-EYED reading Elizabeth Warren’s description of the pivotal moment that she considers the day she grew up. She was 12, watching her mother rubbing tissue over a tear-drenched face, then stuffing herself into the only good dress she had, struggling to get the dress “across her belly, and pulled down over her hips.” As she tugged and pulled to close the zipper, “tears dropped off her chin and onto the floor.”

She asked her daughter, “How do I look? Is the dress too tight?” Elizabeth looked at a dress ready to burst, the ripples and rolls gathering the material. “You look great,” she said. “Really.”

Her mother was off to save the family’s small house. After a heart attack, Elizabeth’s father had lost his job selling carpets at Sears, Roebuck and the family car had already been repossessed. That day, Elizabeth’s mother applied for and got a minimum-wage job answering phones at Sears, Roebuck.

“That was the moment I crossed the threshold,” Warren wrote. “I wasn’t a little girl anymore…”

(Myra MacPherson reviewing Warren's book in the Washington Spectator)

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We had a lively stated meeting of the Oceanview Eastern Star Chapter 111 on Tuesday, August 19th. Our Deputy Grand Matron, Linda Fuentes, and her escort, Oscar Fuentes, were present and, as it was Friendship night, they filled the positions of Associate Conductress and Sentinel. We were also graced with a former Deputy, Mary Beth Yu, who filled the station of star point Martha. We balloted upon an applicant, voted for the applicant, and will install the applicant at our September 16th meeting.

It was communicated that there is a reception for the Grand Esther, GeeGee Querry at the Ridgewood Lodge building in Ukiah on September 7th at 2 pm. Attire is dressy with black or white dominate. We installed Kerstin Caulkwell as our star point Ruth at this meeting. Kerstin had been absent and out of state for personal matters during the beginning of 2014. We are delighted to have her return to us. There will be a practice for the initiation in September at the Mendocino Lodge Building, September 8th, 6pm for all participating. Please attend so that you are proficient in your work for our new member. Our Sand$$$ fund raising committee will meet on September 5th to discuss another successful SCRABBLE TOURNAMENT during October!

Also to be discussed is the serving of breakfast for Phoenix Masonic Lodge #144 who will be presenting a Masonic ceremony on October 25th in Mendocino. Under Circle of Concern, our Sentinel, Flora Gordon, has fallen recently and broken some bones in the process. Please send a card and healing wishes to her. We enjoyed strawberry shortcake after our meeting in the diningroom.

— Mary Danchuk, WM, Order of Eastern Star, Ocean View Chapter 111, Mendocino. Meeting monthly 3rd Tuesday, 6:30pm. Dark October and December. 10500 Lansing Street, Mendocino.

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by Elbert ‘Big Man’ Howard

Santa Rosa, August 19th, 2014 — It is late at night and I am watching the 24-hour coverage by the major television news media stations of the murder of Michael Brown and the goings-on in Ferguson, Missouri. I am very tired but still I watch, transfixed. Once again, a young, unarmed Black man, an 18-year-old child really, had been gunned down by a cop in broad daylight, for all to see. Brown was not shot during the commission of a crime but in a position of surrender with his hands held up. Yet, still he was shot, at least six times, including once in the top of his head.

The news media reporters in Ferguson are now being charged by law enforcement with making actions by "outside agitators" worse and many of them have been tear-gassed, and some arrested, along with peaceful protestors, who have not been allowed to stand still and have to keep moving. Now the people are told to disperse or be arrested, although the two-day curfew has been lifted. The images of the multitude of combat-ready, armed-to-the-teeth, totally militarized law enforcement officers, including the National Guard and the arrests occurring before my eyes, the tear-gassing and the anger, are all too familiar to me. I am now seventy-six years old, and still here, despite being one of an "endangered species" both as an African-American male, and also as one of the original six founders of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, which formed in October 1966, originally for the purpose of ridding our communities of police brutality and murderous, racist, bullying cops.

The murder of 13-year-old Andy Lopez on October 22nd, 2013, and the decision, so many months later, by Sonoma County D.A. Jill Ravitch, to clear Sheriff's Deputy Erick Gelhaus of the crime, is still fresh in my mind. I think of the mind-boggling, insulting, reprehensible decision to send Gelhaus back out this week to patrol and terrorize the Latino community members and others - no surprise to me, but sickening all the same. It was a bright and sunny day that October 22nd, recognized as the date for all to stand up against police brutality, when Gelhaus, a "trained weapons instructor and firearms expert", spotted Andy, who was carrying a toy gun and was on his way to a friend's house. Within seconds, Gelhaus fired eight shots, seven of which struck and killed 13-year-old Andy.

So many other victims come to mind, like Oscar Grant, the young Black man who was shot down and killed while handcuffed, defenseless and on the ground, by a Bart policeman in Alameda County.

An unarmed young Trayvon Martin in Florida was returning home when an armed security guard decided to follow him because he "looked suspicious" and then killed him. Eric Garner, 43, died on July 17th, after an officer put him in a chokehold while other officers held him down, during an arrest on Staten Island. No first aid was administered to him by either the police or the EMTs. In Santa Monica, on the side of a freeway, this past July, we saw on video, 51-year-old grandmother Marlene Pinnock being held down on the ground and beaten by a uniformed cop, without apparent reason.

No cop has ever been arrested for any of these crimes, except for Oscar Grant's killer, who was incarcerated for a few short months. Why? It could be said that law enforcement organizations make large contributions to select political candidates and leaders which keep them in control and in power. When public protests against police brutality occur, the police roll out their military dress and hardware, which include automatic guns, armored personnel carriers and tanks. Most of this hardware is issued to the state and county by the US Department of Homeland Security.

As we have seen in Ferguson, Missouri, military force is now what meets those engaged in peaceful protests. All human and civil rights appear to be null and void, as does the Constitution. Yet we continue to elect officials who trample on our rights and allow killer cops to shoot down our children of color, and others, in cold blood. Make no mistake about it - what we are seeing here is a POLICE STATE.

I am reminded of what James Baldwin said in 1966, "The law is meant to be my servant, not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." If we, as a society, are judged by how humanely our governing bodies and their hired "enforcers" treat human beings, in this country and abroad, we have absolutely devolved and failed our children and the generations to come, miserably.

(Elbert "Big Man" Howard is a founding member of the Black Panther Party and is an author, lecturer, volunteer radio DJ and community activist in Sonoma County.)

One Comment

  1. Harvey Reading August 22, 2014

    “Make no mistake about it – what we are seeing here is a POLICE STATE”

    So true, all the cop apologetics screeds to the contrary notwithstanding. Actually, we are in the intermediate stage of police-state fascism, and heading, full-speed ahead, to its logical conclusion. And, being the “Good Germans” that we are, welcome it with open arms, and cheer it on.

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