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Off the Record (Sep 24, 2014)

ESSENTIAL EVENT, MENDO! The Friends of the Observatory monthly lecture series will feature Dr. Paul Poulos, board member of the Mendocino County Historical Society, presentation of “From the Eye of the Beholder: Saving Mendocino County’s History and Preserving Our Science.” The event is scheduled for Thursday night, September 25, at 7:30 p.m. in the council chambers of the Ukiah Civic Center, 300 Seminary Drive. Dr. Poulos will talk about the current efforts of the Mendocino County Historical Society and also discuss preserving the County’s scientific heritage including the threatened Mendocino College teaching and scientific research center at the LORAN station in Point Arena. The free public lecture is sponsored by the City of Ukiah Community Services Department. For more information, contact Martin Bradley at 489-4607 or .

BLACK SUNDAY. The Giants are swept by the Padres, losing 8-2 Sunday afternoon in San Diego. The 49ers play one-half a winning game against the Cardinals, lose the second half badly, a grim fact some people blame on three bad calls by the refs. And they were bad calls. The Niner vibe seems off. They've lost poise. The cameras pick up guys bitching to each other on the sidelines. The play calling remains positively weird. Kaep has been fined 12 grand for calling a defensive back the N Word. The other guy says Kaep is innocent. The N Word is commonly thrown back and forth among black players during games, and Kaepernick himself is black as is his alleged victim. It's as if pro football is suddenly being run by Miss Manners. The refs got seriously in the way of play Sunday.

"The following was written from an interview with long-time Mendocino County Office of Education employees (all of whom wish to remain anonymous) working in different departments at MCOE. It includes findings by the Mendocino County grand jury; responses from Superintendent Paul Tichinin or Executive Director of Human Resources/Technology Richard Lamken; and discussion by the employees."

THUS BEGIN Karen Rifkin's timely interviews with County School employees, all of whom go on to say that Superintendent Tichinin's responses to the Grand Jury were untrue. All of them. Lame duck Tichinin has also created a grim workplace environment out there at MCOE's Talmage campus. These people are so afraid of retaliation they have to speak anonymously?


Writing on the MCN Coast Listserve, Jesse VanSant wrote a long and slobbery paean to the now self-selecting Fort Bragg City Council, opening with, “MWPC is endorsing Heidi, Mark and Dave.” The cozy assumption is that we all know who Heidi, Mark and Dave are. VanSant says the heretofore unknown "coalition" has endorsed Heidi, Mark and Dave, and really, really wants all the cool progressive people to also vote for Mark Iucaniello (sic).

THE ALLEGED Coalition, which consists of Val Muchowski and Rachel Binah, and Rachel Binah and Val Muchowski, was formerly known as the Mendocino County branch of the National Women's Political Caucus, which also consisted entirely of Val Muchowski and Rachel Binah with Joe Wildman thrown in for comic relief. Whatever you call it, it's one more front for the Mendocino County Democratic Party.

THESE FAKE 'coalitions' operate like the old Communist Party, with phony front groups aimed at convincing the unknowing that everyone "progressive" and generally groovy is on board. A handful of conservative libs do run everything political in Mendocino County, a fact that inspires Pure Hopelessness in the rest of us, but you really have to hand it to the local Democrats — maybe fifty active ones — they put in a lot of OT trying to get their conservative liberal pals into office.

BUT LINDY PETERS, a former Fort Bragg mayor, has put his finger on the problem of what's at work here "…There seems to be a polarization forming in our city and I believe I am the best candidate to bring us all together." He's correct. The conservative liberals of Mendocino County are not inclusive. They are snobs and jerks, for the most part. They are for themselves and their friends. They look down on people who aren't them, a fact they established for all to see in the sleazy ways they went after Wendy Roberts of Mendocino who ran for supervisor against conservative-lib herd bull, Dan Hamburg. Hamburg was even endorsed by Muchowski's and Binah's fake branch of the National Women's Political Caucus, although the purpose of the organization is to elect women to office. Roberts, like Lindy Peters, is a liberal Democrat, but the dominant Mendo Libs saw her as uncool, unlike them, and went with Hamburg, a cult crackpot, a conspiracy nut and a life-long crook. (He's made many thousands of tax free dollars in the pot business; he believes our government is holding the people hijacked on 9-11; and he belongs to the criminal cult run by the late psychopath, Adi Da. Only in Mendocino County could this guy be elected to office.) And here they are again trying to install three of their own to run Fort Bragg. Don't go for it Fort Bragg.

A READER WRITES about the new County Courthouse our 9 (count 'em) Superior Court judges are shoving down the County's collective throat although the present County Courthouse is perfectly serviceable:

"SO MR. BALDWIN, mayor of Ukiah, thinks that the solution to the transportation problems associated with a new courthouse several blocks away from the other court offices could include a “15-minute jitney ride.” He obviously has no idea what goes on in Mendo’s chaotic courts. Attorneys come and go, cases are rescheduled time and again, frequently at the whim of the judge, prisoners are late, files are misplaced, sequences are changed, cases get put over for an hour or two or three, witnesses get lost or show up late from some far-flung Mendo address. And don’t tell me that the new courthouse will somehow mitigate these problems with high-tech or improved internal flow. If the DAs, public defenders, witnesses, victims, cops, bailiffs, and private attorneys (whose offices are also farther away from the new courthouse) don’t move their offices, they’ll never be able to manage their constantly changing court appearances with a jitney through downtown Ukiah. In fact, a jitney would only make things worse.

MIKE GENIELLA COMMENTS: So many questions about a planned $120 million courthouse project in Ukiah. Way too few answers from public officials: city, county and state. For example, in a written response published today in the Anderson Valley Advertiser, city Councilman Phil Baldwin is quoted as saying among other things: "As you know, I’ve agreed that for less than half cost of new courthouse, the old one could have been renovated and made safe for all working and attending there. I also believe a fifteen minute jitney from old courthouse to new should work just fine to get DA’s, public defenders, and others interested to trials on time.” Really? Re costs — if the old could have been rehabbed for less than half the cost of a new, why are we abandoning the downtown location of THE public building in Mendocino County, site of the county courthouse for more than 150 years, to a place down by the railroad tracks? Why are we jeopardizing the customer base of local businesses surrounding the existing courthouse? Re DA's, public defenders and "others", is the public to presume those offices will stay in the existing building? Who will own that white elephant? Who will make much needed repairs and renovations to the 1950s-era building, and at whose expense? Jitney rides? On boiling hot summer days? Windy and freezing cold rainy days? Again, at whose expense?

This project has been in the planning stages for years. But the public, including this courthouse denizen, knows so little. Why?

ON SEPTEMBER 6, we wrote: “The one or two persons paying attention to the Mendocino County Office of Education, will have noted lame duck Superintendent Tichinin's sure-to-be-granted request for out-of-state travel. Tich wants edu-dollars to fund a jaunt to Washington D.C. for the "Connected Superintendent's Summit," and to another prolonged happy hour in Nevada. MCOE maintains travel slush fund of $228,421 for the 2014-15 school year, every dollar of which comes directly out of the instruction of Mendocino County children.

WE ALSO ASKED COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER Don Cruser whether Superintendent Paul Tichinin’s travel budget and travel requests were approved by the Board of Education, adding, “PS. As a constituent, nearly a quarter mil a year for staff travel borders on the obscene.”

TRUSTEE CRUSER REPLIED: “We voted to grant Superintendent Tichinin another trip to Washington. My first impulse was to vote against it primarily because it would make more sense to save the travel money for training the new superintendent. However, it did seem worthwhile to send Mr. Tichinin to this particular Connected Superintendents Summit for several reasons: (1) He is the chairman of the California Department of Education's Technology Advisory and Curriculum Committee. (2) Mr. Tichinin has been instrumental in bringing internet access to many school districts and communities in Mendocino County. (3) The problem of providing equal internet access to the more remote areas of our county and other rural areas is one of high priority. (4) Superintendent Tichinin has been nominated to be honored at this conference for his work in promoting equal access to the internet. He even had a letter from Jared Huffman endorsing him for the award.

I did check with Mr. Tichinin to make sure we had not exceeded our travel budget for the year. The budgeted amount for 2014 is $228,421 so it is easy to see why they have not exceeded this amount. I agree with you that this amount is excessive to put it more kindly. I did request an explanation from MCOE and didn't get a response. Waiting for a response, and the loss of my internet connection for two days, are the reasons I have been slow in replying.

I feel that not questioning this amount for travel and conferences is a serious oversight on my part. I recognize that I need to go through the budget line by line. I can assure you that in the future I will raise questions about the amount spent on travel and the issue of whether it can be spent in better ways.

Don Cruser (On the record)”

TICHININ'S PAID about $120,000 a year. He also gets paid to drive to work every day in an edu-funded car from his home in Fort Bragg. One would think he could pay his own way to Washington.

WE GOT A CALL Monday night from an Irish woman living in Brentwood, Ca. She said she'd seen an “article” on our website that featured a man named Eugene Angelo McCann, who may or may not also be an Irish national. The caller had seen our “Catch of the Day,” and among the catch was Mr. McCann, whose address was listed as Laytonville. McCann, 50, had been arrested for marijuana cultivation and distribution for sale which, in Mendocino County, is a little more serious than jay walking but not much. The caller was a friend of McCann's family, all of whom still reside in the old country. McCann's family has not heard from their prodigal son in six years and are desperate for word of him. Maybe the news that McCann has been arrested is not the most salubrious wrapping for the great gift to his dear old mum of his current whereabouts, but he is alive and well. Sometimes the vaunted global village really is global. Eugene Angelo McCann! Call home!


I've made the best of what I could be. I didn't allow myself to be unemployed, become a drug addict or an alcoholic. I chose to help my fellow man as best that I could. One of those things was to become a volunteer fireman. I've watched as people have dug through the ashes of their former lives, after their homes have burned. I've watched as people have found Gramma's wedding ring. I've seen the tears of joy at the smallest connection to the their past lives. I've been thanked with great sincerity, even after we did a poor job of saving some peoples homes. After being a first responder for most of "one hell of a life" I often have to remind myself that firefighters don't cry when I've watched people sift through the ashes of some of their "lost stuff". I'm sorry, but maybe I've seen too much. I still think losing everything that you own… and all your keepsakes… is tragic. Right up there next to death.

(Ernie Branscomb, Garberville)

THE MENDOCINO COUNTY Republican Central Committee will meet Saturday, September 27, 2014, 10:00 AM — 12:00 noon at the Moura Senior Housing, 400 South Street, Fort Bragg, CA 95437. For further information contact: Stan Anderson, 707-321-2592. Got to admire ol' Stan and his fellow Repugs, soldiering on among overwhelming numbers of Clintonoids, apparently unaware that Democrats, on the big stuff, are interchangeable with Republicans.

UKIAH POLICE announced Tuesday that they'd arrested an 18-year-old Ukiah High School girl on prostitution charges. The young woman is believed to be part of a group of young women engaged in the world's oldest profession, but a profession not practiced or tolerated in Ukiah since early in the 20th century. The girl has not been named or charged as the investigation continues. She had checked into a motel where she was to have met a paying customer when she was arrested. Ukiah Police Captain Trent Taylor said the girl had been selling herself for some six months. It would be interesting to know the identities of the customer base, undoubtedly a who's who of inland — Rotary? Westside Ukiah? Public Defenders?

A TENNESSEE READER WRITES: “Sorry I missed your open house. Could I still forward $2 on a lay (or better said laid) away basis for a full body hug by one of the lovely ladies of the Mosswood preceded by some of that strong drink?” We can guarantee the strong drink but the lovely ladies of Mosswood are another matter altogether.

WILL PARRISH'S Caltrans restitution hearing is now scheduled for Friday, October 10th. Caltrans is claiming Parrish caused them umpty-many dollars in lost work time on the cockamamie Willits Bypass when he strapped himself to a piece of construction equipment. In fact, Caltrans worked around him but, as is Big Orange's habit when it comes to dollar figures, is falsely claiming huge damages in delays.

COMMENTING ON OUR WEBSITE last week, a writer named Nancy wrote: The Mental Health Advisory Board was informed yesterday that County Counsel and Grand Jury legal advisor, Doug Losak has determined that County department heads are not required to respond to the Grand Jury. So don’t waste your time looking for Mr. Pinizzotto’s response — there isn’t one. Also the HHSA response (referenced in the BOS response) is not on the GJ website because HHSA/Stacy Cryer did not provide the GJ with an electronic copy for posting. Is the County trying to silence the Grand Jury? Draw your own conclusions.

IF LOSAK'S LUNATIC OPINION will now guide the Mental Health Board, it's subpoena time, time to compel County government to respond to the Grand Jury. It's long past showdown time anyway after many years of County department heads simply ignoring the GJ. Mental Health's Pinizzotto has, at a minimum, a legal conflict of interest in the transfer of Mendo Mental Health to the private company he worked for just prior to his suspiciously convenient hire by Mendo. We think the DA should take a look at the privatization of mental health services, front to back, with a focus on Pinizzotto, Carmel Angelo and Ortner Management Group, the new owner of Mendocino County Mental Health.

WORKERS at Ross Liberty’s Factory Pipe Company located at the old Masonite industrial site north of Ukiah have contacted Teamster’s Union reps about forming a local at the Factor Pipe site.

FACTORY PIPE makes exhaust systems for jet-skis, ATVs and snowmobiles, etc. Liberty has reportedly contacted the infamous union busting law firm, Jackson-Lewis, a nationwide union busting outfit.

JACKSON-LEWIS specializes in “comprehensive preventative labor relations programs,” and other “services” aimed at keeping workplaces union-free.

WORKER complaints are said to be primarily centered around what they say are non-competitive pay rates for their skilled labor. We hope to have more on the dispute in the next few days.

FORMER chief deputy district attorney in Mendocino County and Willits native, Victoria Shanahan, is leaving the Sonoma County DA's office for private practice. Shanahan challenged another former Mendo assistant DA, Jill Ravitch, for Sonoma County DA this past election, losing to Ravitch, a connected Northcoast Democrat, by about a 2-1 margin. Shanahan is joining Adams Fietz Trial Lawyers, specializing in criminal defense.


Congressman Jared Huffman, Facebook, Thursday, September 18, 2014: “I just voted against an amendment to arm and train so-called ‘moderate’ Syrian rebels as part of a broad new multi-year military intervention in Iraq and Syria outlined by President Obama.” You can read The Huff's full statement on his Facebook site.

THE FORT BRAGG PLANNING COMMISSION has approved, of all things, a Taco Bell, at Cypress and Main. For a town largely dependent on tourism, franchise fast food palaces, one would think, are contraindicated.

A STARTLED READER COMMENTED: “Really? A Taco Bell of all fast food joints? Like we don't have enough LOCAL Mexican food establishments, all of them offering real, tasty Mexican dishes at reasonable prices?”

WE UNDERSTAND the world awaits our position paper on domestic violence. Here it goes: Let the record show we're opposed to it, verbal and physical. We understand that we live in a country where bad feeling is prevalent, the causes of which are unregulated corporate capitalism, pointless work, bad food, cancer-causing architecture, and so on — all of which combine to create a state of wild disproportion and much unhappiness. Still, though, we think ballplayers are presently being subjected to a pernicious form of double jeopardy, deprived of their means of making a living before they even get into court. If an assault gets the guy two years from a judge, he should be out of the ball game for two years, not forever.

THE CITY OF FORT BRAGG has settled a long-standing lawsuit with what's left of Georgia-Pacific. It had to do with apportioning responsibility for clean-up costs at the G-P mill site.

SILLY ME. I thought there was nothing new under the sun. But here comes the annual Folsom Street Fair with the usual giddy story by the SF Chron. And this quote: “The most exciting new aspects always reflect the new things sexually that people are getting into.”


ALL I GOTTA SAY is some people have an awful lotta time on their hands. Seriously, by the time you got the costume on and all chained up to the wheel of love, wouldn't you just want to go to sleep?



LIFE IN THIS SOCIETY being, at best, an utter bore and no aspect of society being at all relevant to women, there remains to civic-minded, responsible, thrill-seeking females only to overthrow the government, eliminate the money system, institute complete automation and destroy the male sex. (Valerie Solanis, the greatest extremist ever produced by America)

A POLL, clearly prompted by the Scotland vote, wafted into the AVA from cyberspace; it claimed that one in four Americans wishes his state would secede from the union.

COULD MENDO go it alone? We've got the quality dope and the quality wine. We also have redwood, kind of, when it grows back, and maybe even fish if they ever come back. Political talent? Well… Probably not. But if we teamed up with HumCo with its similar economy — maybe. Put national policy to a vote, though, and the Northcoast would definitely not agree on the big ticket stuff — war and peace, single payer, min wage, eco-policy and so on and would probably vote to secede.

MENDOCINO COUNTY has a homeless problem. Everywhere has a homeless problem. But everywhere defines “homeless” differently. In Northern California, especially the ecotopian region of Mendocino County, liberals, many of them ensconced deep in the hills, “homeless” is a viable description of an eclectic number of mostly male drifters, many of them addicted to strong drink and stronger drugs, among them a fairly large body of straight-up mental cases. They are homeless because they prefer to be homeless. The mentally ill tend not to know or care whether they're indoors or not. Indoors, the drunks and drug people can't stay loaded, which is their reason for being. In a comfortably enabling place like Ukiah, the full time vagrant can get a free meal every day and panhandle and scam enough money to get loaded and stay loaded, often committing petty crimes as he goes, and more often hassling and otherwise disconcerting regular citizens. The cops deal almost exclusively with this floating population of “homeless,” a small minority of whom are an ongoing violent menace to themselves and others.

USED TO BE there were socially sensible ways of caring for people unable or unwilling to care for themselves. There was a state hospital system with a multi-faceted program nearby-handy at Talmage. For local incompetents — frequent flyers as they're now known — the County of Mendocino ran a County Farm at Bush and Low Gap. And churches and secular charities helped the truly homeless, temporarily pauperized families and children. Every community of any size was home to an orphanage.

THIS WAS BEFORE the homeless industrial complex, people well-paid to “fight poverty.” This apparatus of self-interested pseudo-liberals has its tentacles sunk so far into Mendocino County and the San Francisco Bay Area that even the hint of a political impetus to deal realistically with street people is fiercely resisted. The "liberal" position, as manifested here in Mendocino County from the Superior Court on down through the DA and the Supervisors is to let the self-destructive die on the streets.

THE SIMPLEST, most basic commonsense strategy to at least make it easier for the cops to babysit the small army of derelicts and old fashioned bums wandering around Ukiah, Willits and Fort Bragg, naturally runs into political resistance from showboating libs, as happened the other night in Ukiah when the Ukiah City Council voted 4-1 (a pointless abstention by Councilman Scalmanini) for ordinances that would increase the penalties for camping and panhandling inside the city limits. Final adoption of the new rules will be taken up at the October 1st meeting of the City Council.

SCALMANINI SAID he was against going from an infraction straight to a misdemeanor. Which might sound reasonable if you didn't know that the Ukiah cops are currently responding to 90-100 public nuisance calls a day, and if you assume the cops don't know the people they're dealing with and know who really, really needs to get some jail time and who doesn't.

CONSECUTIVE repeat misdemeanors would compel the DA to ask for jail time. As it is, certain of the more volatile of the frequent flyers know that the Mendo system might hold them for a couple of days but they'll be back out there in a few hours menacing old ladies in front of Safeway.

THE PRESENT SYSTEM was intended to provide for graduated punishment, but because the police and DA have no way of tracking the disposition of infraction citations, and because the courts won't, the result has been that no one gets a misdemeanor, ever, no matter how many times they go back to the same place.

LIKE Scotty Willis and Kelisha Alvarez who have been living and defecating in the Russian River's feeder creeks for years. Making an offense a misdemeanor will allow the police, DA and courts to hold the worst offenders, including non-stop civic irritants like Scotty and Kelisha, more or less accountable. (These two, circa 1960, would have spent a lot of time in the state hospital system.) It will also mean that the police, instead of writing endless misdemeanor citations will be able to decide at some point to take people who are not getting it to jail.

THE LIB FEAR seems to be that the police will surround Plowshares and march everyone straight to jail (because that's what the libs would do to their enemies if they had the power). But the reality is that no one in law enforcement wants to go hands on with any of these people, wrestle them into cop cars, or wait around for a couple of hours while they get booked — and Sheriff Allman does not want them in his already crowded jail either — so the jackboot fantasies of the libs will not come true — the cops will exercise the enhanced power with discretion if, for no other reason, out of necessity.

AS A VETERAN of a dozen or so arrests going back to my first in 1960, and several of them here in Mendocino County, I have, on several occasions, been on the receiving end of, ahem, police misconduct. In the 1960s, getting slapped around by the cops was part of the arrest procedure. My worst beatings, however, were sustained in Marine Corps boot camp where beatings were an integral part of the program. Arrest beatings consisted more of quick punches and shoves — no big deal and not, objectively considered, “beatings.” But during 60's demos some people suffered real beat downs for no reason at all. However, the Marines of that era, many of whom became cops, had beatings down to a fine art. Standing at attention while a heavily decorated psychopath of a war hero chokes you out, or raps out a “knowledge knock” on your forehead, well, Americans aren't Hindus, are we?

POLICE shouldn't beat people up. I think we all agree on that. It used to happen a lot, it doesn't happen much at all anymore. A lot of today's Blue Meanie mentalities, cf Scalmanini, know about brutality only from what they've heard or read, not from their own experience. Besides which, the libs are more for psychic violence, politically correct bullying — chickenbleep types of behavior, not full-on ultra-vi which, to me anyway, is much preferred. The Ukiah cops should have the misdemeanor option. Misdemeanors are not powers of summary execution, for crying in a bucket.

THE FAST-FOOD CHAINS insist that if they were to pay their employees more they would have to raise menu prices. Their wages are “competitive.” But in Denmark McDonald's workers over the age of eighteen earn more than twenty dollars an hour — they are also unionized — and the price of a Big Mac is only 35¢ more than it is in the United States. There are regional American fast-food chains that take the high road with their employees. The starting wage at In-N-Out Burger, which is based in Southern California, and has two hundred and ninety-five restaurants in California and the Southwest, is eleven dollars. Full-time workers receive a complete benefits package, including life insurance — and the burgers are cheap and good. (Dignity, William Finnegan)

THE TRUTH that Martin Luther King was telling toward the end of his life may have been too subversive for the nation to handle. When King came out against the war in Vietnam and called America the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — this is a black man, even though he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967, telling America: YOU are the greatest purveyor of violence in the world. Then he talked about that triple threat, as he called it, of racism, poverty and militarism, and he started organizing a poor people’s campaign. So basically what happened was they said to him: Negro, we told you you could talk about civil rights. But you don’t talk about foreign policy. You don’t tell America how to spend its federal budget dollars. Because King was saying that war is the enemy of the poor. Those bombs that you’re dropping over there are landing in the ghettos and barrios of America. So what happened when he told that truth? The White House turned on him. Lyndon Johnson turned on him. They worked together on voting and civil rights, but now that he’s against the Vietnam War? Johnson doesn’t like that. So the Johnson White House turned on him, the media turned on him. When you read now in this century, in my book ‘Death of a King,’ what the New York Times, the ‘Liberal’ New York Times, the ‘Liberal’ Washington Post and Time Magazine said about him in that last year it’s embarrassing. Even black media turned on him! So the White House turned on him, the media turned on him, then white America turned on him. The last poll taken in his life, the Harris poll, found that 75% of Americans thought he was irrelevant in the last year of his life. AND — hold onto your hat — almost 60% of black folks thought Dr. King was persona non grata. He couldn’t get his own organization to support him on the poor people’s campaign. My book is the story of the Martin Luther King most people don’t know. We deified him in death, but we demonized him in life. And this story about King we ain’t come to terms with yet.

— Tavis Smiley

ALL THE TALK in Sacramento about protecting the vulnerable elderly, a mere eight months after our state reps vowed to make changes in the state licensing of assisted-living homes, the assisted living associations got all reform stymied. The big talk about reform began when immobilized old people were found abandoned at a home in Castro Valley whose proprietors had simply disappeared. Elected windbags rolled out numerous indignant press releases and, when it came legislation time, disappeared like the crooks running that senior stalag in Castro Valley.

LAKE MENDOCINO is down to about 25 percent of capacity, presenting a distressing mud hole-like visual which keeps visitors away. Mendocino County’s Russian River Flood Control and Water Conservation Improvement District to the rescue! Well, not exactly, but the agency partially controls releases from the lake and has gotten an agreement to save some of the water that's left for November releases to help the few fish left in the Russian River survive the drought. In the meantime, releases from Lake Mendocino have been cut back, a fact you can see for yourself where the reduced Russian no longer rushes alongside Highway 101 between Hopland and Cloverdale.

MEDIA STORIES on inland water issues are, to say the least, a confusing mishmash of acronyms and dubious figures. Look at it this way: Because of the drought, the Eel River is down to a trickle. The Eel River is partially stored at Lake Pillsbury, which is in Lake County. Lake Pillsbury’s releases are also controlled by an array of agencies. Those releases are partially diverted through a ridge above Potter Valley, with the diverted waters flowing through a mile-long tunnel into Potter Valley and down to Lake Mendo and on into the upper Russian River. The drought has pretty much dried up the whole show, which is precarious to begin with because it was designed in its early 20th century beginnings to electrify tiny Ukiah, not supply water for a now very large 21st century population of people and vineyards from Potter Valley to Healdsburg.

GIVEN THE PRECARIOUSNESS of the supply, what is needed is a basic re-think of somehow stabilizing water supplies up and down the Russian River. Supervisor Pinches has been the only elected official in the four counties directly affected — Lake, Humboldt, Mendo, and Sonoma — to consistently try to make this happen. Pinches has also been plugging away to expand and create water storage systems. Now that he's leaving office, it is unlikely there will even be a voice for sensible water policy, especially with the neo-draw on the Russian by wine interests who don't play well with others.

WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL is an insipid fantasia about De LaSalle High, a tiny Catholic school located in Concord, California, 20 miles east of Oakland. The plot is based on fact—De La Salle’s 151-game winning streak—and centers on the team’s saintly head coach, Bob Ladouceur, who not only runs his boys through drills in the blistering heat but schools them in scripture. Ladouceur is played by Jim Caviezel, most famous for bleeding profusely in Mel Gibson’s BDSM epic, The Passion of the Christ. We are meant to see Coach Lad as a gentle shepherd, full of lessons about humility and brotherhood. Naturally, the whole team kneels in prayer before the big game, reciting the Lord’s Prayer. Then they go out and deliver big, bone-crushing hits unto their enemies, just like Jesus taught them. All of these hits are lovingly choreographed, eerily amplified, and filmed with a barely suppressed eroticism—soft-core porn for the nostalgic jock in all of us.

IT WILL NOT COME as a shock to anyone with a functioning frontal lobe that When the Game Stands Tall was released by Sony’s faith-based imprint, Affirm Films. The film is clearly aimed at those viewers who have somehow convinced themselves that the Gospel of Jesus Christ involves exhorting young boys to play a violent game. As it is written in the Book of Matthew, But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

THIS WOULD certainly help explain why star running back Chris Ryan (Alexander Ludwig) insists on staying in a big game, even though he’s had his nose bloodied and, mostly like, his cerebellum scrambled. “The only way I’m going out of this game is on a stretcher,” he snarls. Or on a cross, presumably.

— on-line review

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