Mendocino County Today: Thursday, September 25, 2014

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THE RETURN OF THE BYPASS PROTESTERS

Despite impending rain, activists returned today for a second day of protest against the bitterly contested Caltrans’ Bypass, after shutting down fill operations on the northern interchange all day yesterday. On Tuesday, two groups of activists held long cloth banners with the messages: ”Caltrans Kills Wetlands” and “Caltrans: Paving the Road to Extinction” stretched across the entrance to two haul roads off highway 101, blocking ingress and egress from the construction zone.

A third group, including Priscilla Hunter, Tribal Representative for the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians and other Native Americans of lineal descent to the area’s Pomo ancestors, succeeded in reaching the ancestral cultural site they want to protect, remaining there for some time with the American Indian Movement (AIM) flag, to drum and pray. The activists then blocked a third stream of dirt-filled trucks, effectively stopping work.

Protesters’ numbers have increased lately due to the participation of Native American Pomo Tribes, including those from Coyote Valley, Sherwood Rancheria, Potter and Redwood Valley, all of whom were represented at the protest.

There were no arrests on Tuesday. CHP officers were present in one squad car and one van, but did not tell protesters they were trespassing and did not ask them to leave, as erroneously stated by Caltrans Public Relations official, Phil Frisbee in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat on Tues. Sept. 23.

“We came back again today to insist on our demand for a less destructive, less expensive design for the northern interchange to protect cultural sites and wetlands”, said Naomi Wagner of Redwood Nation Earth First!

http://www.savelittlelakevalley.org/

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PAUL ARDEN, a staffer for Congressman Jared Huffman, sent out this apparently proud press release yesterday as if it was something to brag about:

“Rep. Huffman Appears on The Colbert Report


”Appeared as part of the ongoing “Better Know a District” series

[Ed note: Colbert’s “series” is an ongoing joke which Arden seems unaware of.]

http://thecolbertreport.cc.com/videos/ybvlae/better-know-a-district---california-s-2nd---jared-huffman

“WASHINGTON—Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) appeared on last night’s episode of Comedy Central's The Colbert Report as part of the ongoing “Better Know A District” series. Huffman and host Stephen Colbert discussed the California redwoods, whether Star Wars’ Han Solo shot first, the landmark state law banning shark finning that Huffman co-authored as a state legislator, California’s record drought, and other topics.

[Ed note: We've critiqued your performance, Huff, and sadly conclude you're not quite quick enough for prime time comedy. Your performance in office, though, is a killer.]

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THIS MORNING'S HEADLINE from the Press Democrat:

Wine execs worry about future of industry

[The PD and their sponsors in the wine industry are worried that locally brewed beer and whiskey is getting so good people are abandoning jive juice for the truly good stuff.]

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QUOTE OF THE DAY

We learned in the 60's that pot wouldn't cause mass enlightenment or stop the war machine or even make anyone mellow and groovy that didn't already have that in their DNA. And it's certainly not turning anyone into liberals in Colorado.   — Jeff Costello

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TRACKING LAME DUCK TICHININ'S TRAVEL

Superintendent Tichinin's secretary, Ms. Gulick, writes re the Superintendent's travel budget...

AVA:

The travel budget is not broken down by employee, but by department. MCOE's budget is on our website at the link below, for your information:

http://www.mcoe.us/files/user/22/file/Budget/Budget%20Book%202014_06_19%281%29.pdf

We have some countywide and Region 1 grants that pay travel for individuals who are not MCOE employees. Whether or not an AVUSD employee used MCOE travel funds, without an employee name, it would be difficult to determine, since funds are tracked by MCOE department.   MCOE will often reimburse districts directly. For example, if a district employee attends a conference that MCOE agrees to pay for, the employee's travel claim is paid by the district and then the district bills MCOE. Please let me know if you have other questions.

Victoria Gulick, Confidential Administrative Assistant, Mendocino County Office of Education, 2240 Old River Road, Ukiah, CA 95482, (707) 467-5001, vgulick@mcoe.us

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CATCH OF THE DAY, September 24, 2014

Alvarado-Cruz, Anderson, Bioletto, Escamilla
Alvarado-Cruz, Anderson, Bioletto, Escamilla

JAIRO ALVARADO-CRUZ, Willits. Pot cultivation, processing, possession for sale; killing, maiming or abusing animals.

JAMES ANDERSON, Willits. Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)

JEANNIE BIOLETTO, Ukiah. Under influence of controlled sustance, probation revocation.

JOSE ESCAMILLA, Ukiah. Pot cultivation, processing, possession for sale; probation revocation.

Garcia, Guzman, Miles, Moddrelle, Sanchez
Garcia, Guzman, Miles, Moddrelle, Sanchez

ARTURO GARCIA, Gualala. DUI, failure to appear.

EFREN GUZMAN, Rodeo. Probation revocation.

JAMES MILES, Ukiah. Under influence of controlled substance, theft, contempt of court.

STACEY MODDRELLE, Ukiah. Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)

JOSE SANCHEZ, Ukiah. Pot cultivation, processing, possession for sale.

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YESTERDAY A READER WROTE: “What you and all of these latter day crusaders for preserving the sanctity of mediocrity (that has characterized county delivery of adult mental health services for a quarter century) seem to be ignorant that children's mental health services was successfully privatized a dozen or more years ago and that the supposed good old days that you wish to return to never existed. The simple fact is that delivery of adult mental health services has improved with Ortner and is likely to continue to improve — something that was never achieved under the county run system despite decades of effort. And going with Optum would have meant throwing overboard Redwood Children's Services, the children's mental health provider. The alternative to privatization with Ortner/Redwood was not to stay with the failed County MH delivery system, but to dump Redwood and have Optum handle both adults and children. Optum would have brought in their own people and taken the profits outtahere. As it is, cadres of local poverty pimps are still getting a slice of the pie.”

THIS ASSUMES that the only way to “improve” mental health services was to privatize them. The “reader” says that “decades of effort” were made but nothing improved. Why might that be? Mainly, because no real effort was made. The only “effort” we could find in reviewing our archive of Mental Health Department coverage spanning “decades” was a parade of incompetents that the County installed as Director of Mental Health. The main “service” the public expects out of the Mental Health Department is crisis services. But during those “decades of effort” the only change made to crisis services was the controversial closure of the Psychiatric Health Facility (PHF) back in the early 2000s which lead to even more reliance on cops as crisis intervention workers. What was the reason given the then-Supervisors that the PHF had to close? Answer: The well-paid staff was stressed out themselves. How about a crisis van on call 24/7 to back up the cops on mental health crisis calls? Even when the extra $1 mil came in from Proposition 63, the County and its Mental Health Board couldn’t get past an ill-considered RFP to contract it out so no one bid the job. End of project. The funds were there, the idea was pursued, but dropped. Nobody pressured the Mental Health Department to get the van up and running. Crisis services dropped to near nothing and cops continued to complain and guess who conveniently appeared promising to solve this problem? Tom Pinizzotto and his old outfit from Yuba City. Pinizzotto is now firmly ensconsed in a position to tell the Supervisors that either the problems are solved or the problems will be solved soon. The reader, presumably taking Pinizzotto at his word, then insists — with zero actual data to back it up, only bland psychobabble buzzwords from Pinizzotto and Ortner — that “delivery of mental health services had improved with Ortner.”

FOR YEARS we pointed out that Mendo’s Mental Health Department was not only overstaffed but doing a lousy job — a fact we reported on at length in these pages. Here are a few excerpts from prior discussions of Mental Health from the AVA archives:

Jim Shields, January 2001 — A couple of weeks ago, I reported to you that the Supes — with the exception of Mike Delbar — caved in to Mental Health Director Kristy Kelley’s demand to permanently shut down the county’s Psychiatric Health Facility (PHF). I’ve said time and time again, the Board just doesn’t have the political will to tell the Mental Health Department to do its job: Provide acute psychiatric care for folks — some of whom are also caught up in the criminal justice system. For you anglers out there, you’re familiar with the old saying about when a fish stinks, it stinks from the head down. The Mental Health Department is stinking up the joint, and you can look no further than its head — Ms. Kelley — to find the source of the stench. The Supes swallowed hook, line and sinker, Kelley’s pitch that the Board could utilize $900,000 in purported savings from the PHF’s closure “towards the development of a comprehensive and effective mental health system of care.” This new scheme would result in kinder, gentler “helping professionals” from the Mental Health Department reaching out and laying the healing hands on the troubled souls who no longer would require the services of the PHF unit. How’s the new system working? Several days ago, the helping professionals locked a troubled soul in a DMH vehicle for three hours on a sweltering day. The abandoned troubled soul kicked out the car’s window in order to relieve himself. It’s also way past time for the Supes to relieve Kelley — permanently — from her post.

Jim Shields, January 2001 — Psychiatric Unit Still Closed — Since we’re on the subject of how government treats humans, the situation with the County’s Psychiatric Health Facility is truly criminal. The PHF (pronounced “puff”) unit has been shut down since last December. The PHF unit deals with the very, very mentally ill, some of whom are violent and/or criminal offenders. These folks require 24-hour attention in the special facility. The County Jail is neither equipped nor does it have the qualified staff to care for people who are charged with crimes but are also mentally ill. Likewise, harmless but mentally ill folks who wander the streets getting into mischief don’t belong in jail. They need care and treatment. But when the county’s Mental Health Department closes the only facility that offers specialized treatment, there are no good alternatives.

According to MH Director Kristy Kelley, her PHF staff is burned out and can’t handle the stress of their jobs. Read Glenda Anderson’s front-page Ukiah Daily Journal report for all the details, but allow me to say this: These are handsomely-paid professionals. One has to presume they went into their chosen profession with their eyes wide open. If they no longer can perform their jobs, they need to get off the County’s payroll and find something else to do. At Tuesday’s BOS meeting, Kelley spoke as if the PHF unit would not be reopening anytime soon, if at all. She even talked about turning the PHF unit space over to another department. CAO Jim Anderson, to his credit, told the Supes it was “premature” to be exploring such a drastic option. There are serious questions about Kelley’s performance as head of one of the County’s most critical services. Granted, her staff may be stressed out, but closing the PHF is no solution. Her five bosses on the Board of Supervisors need to take decisive action — it’s been allowed to fester far too long. Cops have a hard enough time dealing with the run-of-the-mill, garden-variety types of criminals and assorted low-lifes who operate in Mendoland. Mentally ill folks need to be cared for by professionals. When there’s no place to put them, the cops are forced to deal with them. This requires deputies to hold them pending finding a suitable, oftentimes out-of-county mental facility to house them. This breakdown in mental health services is both a burden on law enforcement and an extra expense to taxpayers. It’s also unfair to people who aren’t lawbreakers but just sick mentally. Bringing law enforcement into the equation has the effect of criminalizing something which ain’t criminal. The cops don’t like it any better than we do, but right now they have little choice.

Jim Shields, August 2001 — It was painful to witness, but at Tuesday’s Supes’ confab, the criminal justice types reluctantly threw in the towel. We’re speaking of the Board’s decision to permanently close the county’s Psychiatric Health Facility. You can’t blame the Sheriff, Public Defender, Probation Department, DA, or the Courts for running up the white flag. They all saw the handwriting on the wall months ago. With the exception of Mike Delbar, who voted against locking the doors of the PHF unit, the rest of Board just didn’t have the political will to tell the Mental Health Department to do its job: Provide acute psychiatric care for folks — some of whom are also caught up in the criminal justice system — right here in Mendocino County.

Instead, the county will utilize $900,000 in purported savings from the PHF’s closure “towards the development of a comprehensive and effective mental health system of care.” Why must the PHF unit be closed in order to attain that lofty goal? Isn’t that what the Mental Health Department has been doing all along?

Anyway, these new, enhanced services don’t include local care for those whose severe mental health problems lead them into conflicts with the law or who pose a threat to themselves, as in suicidal tendencies. As a recent letter-writer opined, Mendocino County is becoming something of a haven for those who want to end it all, but that’s a subject best left closed, just like the PHF unit.

The problem with most of these folks is there’s no place to care for them in a Mendocino County sans a PHF. So, as has been the case since last year (when the PHF’s doors were “temporarily” closed), those individuals will be transported to out-of-county mental health hospitals. As you can imagine, that situation makes things a bit difficult for an already short-staffed Sheriff’s Office, which provides the out-of-county transportation for mentally ill inmates from the hospital to the courts. Likewise, defense attorneys are burdened with literally going the extra mile to meet with clients who may be in an Alameda County facility. Needless to say, family and friends of the mentally ill encounter the same sorts of difficulties.

But those are the prices that everybody pays when the county is working “towards the development of a comprehensive and effective mental health system of care.” When you think about it, closing the PHF is somewhat similar to the Supes’ decision to close all of the county’s landfills. Back then the Supes didn’t have the political will to deal with the dump issue. Now, we just ship the garbage out-of-here, out-of-sight, out-of-mind — it’s somebody else’s problem. ¥¥

Mark Scaramella, June 2003 — In fact, the Supervisors couldn’t “look at the numbers” if they wanted to. The county does such a bad job reporting on routine things like department staffing levels, lost time accounting, position vacancies, outside contracting, consulting, temporary help, and on and on, that Supervisor Delbar recently exclaimed that he was surprised that the Mental Health Department had somehow ballooned up to 140 staffers.

Mark Scaramella, June 2003 — County CAO Jim Andersen offered this explanation of the Mental Health Department budget: “The Mental Health Department is continuing to propose a spending plan that is consistent with revenues that can reasonably be expected to be earned in the 2003/04 fiscal year. The revenues will include approximately $1.0 million in a MediCal Cost Report claim that is expected in January of 2004. The Administrative Office and the Mental Health Department are recommending that the revenue be realized, and utilized to finance the payment of indirect costs to the General Fund and to reduce the deficit in the Special Revenue fund by approximately $650,000. This plan is being proposed, in part, to maintain the practice of payment of indirect costs (self-sufficiency), as well as to mitigate a deficit that is expected to be in excess of that which was previously communicated to the Board. The current deficit projection at the close of 2002/03 is anticipated at $2.0 to $3.0 million.”

How, exactly, can this $2-$3 million deficit be called “self-sufficiency”?

Mark Scaramella, September 2003 — Mental Health Director Beth Martinez, trying valiantly to pick up the pieces of a department riddled with incompetents and badly managed for two decades because supervisor Shoemaker inserted his pals in the department’s key positions, said her department will be $1.8 million in the red this year, adding that she was confident that she’ll be able to pay back about $300,000 of that amount. Martinez said that most of Mental Health’s clients are eligible for Medi-Cal, hence state reimbursements. Very few people who are not eligible for Medi-Cal present themselves to Mental Health; well-to-do mental cases pay for private assistance. “5150s” — cop code for persons deemed a danger to themselves or others, or are considered to be in “crisis” (suicidal or seriously depressed) are not required to present proof of insurance for their initial screening and their referrals for help, which is the same department policy in place before the budget crisis. (And as if a dangerously crazy person were together enough to bring his paper work along with him or even know where it or he was. Mental Health had been authorized for staffing up to 170 people. 45 positions were cut, but only nine of those were actual staffers and they volunteered to be laid off. The Sheriff’s Department presently bears the burden of caring for the aggressively deranged. That task proved to be beyond the capacities of the County’s helping professionals. Which is just as well; the average deputy at least brings commonsense, real life experience and human sympathies to work with him. At the County-run mental health unit therapists were locking themselves in their offices and frantically dialing 911 for the cops whenever a “client” went off. And clients were going off all the time because their tax paid therapists were driving them crazy. (Many of our therapists graduated from the more depraved sectors of the local counterculture, deriving, then, from a kind of socially sanctioned insanity that would have rendered them totally, permanently unfit for public employment in any other country in the world. Not here. They have allies and friends on the Board of Supervisors.) Treatment and hospitalization costs have gone up faster than reimbursement rates, and if the treatment and hospitalization is legally mandated, there’s not much left over for early intervention or ongoing service. The financial crunch in Mental Health stemmed from increased mandated costs and lower state reimbursements, leaving little money or staff time for non-crisis mentally ill Mendolanders.

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THOSE LAST TWO ITEMS, where it was reported that Mental Health was millions of dollars in the red for several years in a row, were the real reason Pinizzotto was brought in to privatize Mental Health. The billing was done badly and Official Mendo, instead of revising the billing procedures, subsidized the deficit by putting a hiring freeze on Social Services and drastically cut back on Mental Health General Fund positions (under then HHSA boss Carmel Angelo, now the County’s CEO), even though most Social Services jobs were paid out of state and federal funds.

IN FACT there was no “effort,” much less “decades” of it, to improve Mental Health services, especially crisis services — if there had been there would at least have been a crisis van in Mendocino County like there is in San Francisco, Contra Costa and Sonoma counties. Official Mendo not only made no “effort” to improve Mental Health services, they intentionally neglected it and made it objectively worse by closing the PHF simply because the staff was complaining, and cutting crisis workers, leaving only the specialized grant-driven non-general-fund non-crisis programs that did nothing to deal with mental health problems but employed many local psychiatrists and psychologists and counselors to make sure the next year’s grants were obtained.

THEN when the services were cut back (down to near zero on the Coast) Mendo threw up its over-wrung hands and bought Pinizzotto’s Ortner brand of snake oil for over $7 mil and put Pinizzotto in charge of monitoring the “improvement.”

WE DOUBT THE “READER” who wrote yesterday can cite even one concrete example of a legitimate “effort” which was undertaken over the last few “decades” to improve County Mental Health services before the County gave up and handed millions of dollars over to Pinizzotto-Ortner. Handing the product of decades of mismanagement over to Pinizzotto’s former employer in an obviously sleazy way was only pushed through because the County wanted to get rid of a dysfunctional Mental Health organization which their own failure and neglect had created.

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THE CLOCK IS TICKING

Bowling Strikes Against the Carbon Kingpins

by Ralph Nader

Scientists agree. Businesses agree. Economists agree. Even the Pentagon agrees — climate change must be a national priority. In 2010, The National Security Strategy, a memo released by the White House, warned:

The danger from climate change is real, urgent and severe. The change wrought by a warming planet will lead to new conflicts over refugees and resources; new suffering from drought and famine; catastrophic natural disasters; and the degradation of land across the globe.

Each year climate change and global warming are chronically worsening.

Despite this clear convergence on climate change, the only ones who won’t agree on treating it are those who hold the most power to do so — The United States Congress. The reason for their inaction, unsurprisingly, is tied to one of the biggest problems currently festering in America’s weakened democracy, the corrupting influence of money in politics.

Greenpeace has just released a new report, written by Charlie Cray and Peter Montague, titled “The Kingpins of Carbon and Their War on Democracy.” The report begins with the well-accepted premise that climate change or global warming is a catastrophic issue that requires immediate serious attention from the world’s governments. The United States, however, remains frustratingly gridlocked and paralyzed on climate change. The report says,

In Congress, the fossil corporations’ allies are refusing to act, based on the false claim that global warming is scientifically unproven or is even a hoax perpetrated by the world’s major scientific organizations. Meanwhile the 3.6 ° F. ‘safe’ limit on global warming will soon disappear in our rear-view mirror.

Consider the “dog-whistle” issues that consistently divide Americans such as gun laws, school prayer and abortion, and one must ask what is it about climate change — an issue that 83 percent of Americans agree on according to a 2013 survey — that creates such turmoil? What is the source of the pushback in the face of a clear convergence?

The Greenpeace report identifies that source as “a multi-decade war on democracy by the kingpins of carbon — the coal, the oil, and gas industries allied with a handful of self-interested libertarian billionaires.” The self-interested libertarian billionaires are, of course, the infamous Koch brothers whose political influence has become well-known with the rise of the Tea Party movement. Not surprisingly Koch Industries has made billions of dollars off of the use of fossil fuels.

How is such a relatively small group of millionaires and billionaires able to achieve such great success in stalling national action on an issue that has dire consequences for the majority of the people on this planet? (See my letter to wealthy individuals asking them to band together to fund advocacy on climate change.)

Look to three Supreme Court decisions to find the answer. In 2010, Citizens United v. FEC gave big corporations like Pfizer, Aetna, Chevron, GM, Citigroup and Monsanto the ability to spend unlimited funds in independent expenditures to oppose or support candidates for public office. In 2013, Shelby County v. Holder overturned a provision in the Voting Rights Act that required areas with known, entrenched racial discrimination to be required to receive clearance from the U.S. Justice Department before instituting changes in voting laws. Finally, in 2014, the McCutcheon v. FECdecision significantly raised the amount that each individual can contribute to federal candidates and federal party committees from $123,200 to $3.6 million!

These Supreme Court decisions (mostly by a majority 5-4) are clear signs of a judicial dictatorship for plutocrats that carries the rancid banner for corporate privilege and power overriding the rights of individual voters. The unelected, life-tenured corporate court continues to tighten the noose of corporatism around the American people.

The Greenpeace report reveals that 89 wealthy political spenders with ties to the coal, oil and gas industries are the leading aggressors in support of fossil fuel companies that are raising the Earth’s temperature with little regard for the rest of humanity or posterity. Because of the current state of campaign laws, most of these donors remain anonymous and regularly pull the strings of government in their favor with few repercussions.

The singular agenda of these “Carbon Kingpins” according to the report:

Prevent Congress from taking action to mitigate global warming; Eliminate all remaining restrictions on money in federal and state elections for legislators and judges, allowing totally-secret, unrestricted donations; Cut taxes [for the corporate and wealthy classes] to starve and shrink government, to keep it ineffective; Eliminate regulations that protect the environment, and, finally, Crush labor unions and reverse the victories of the civil rights movement.

It’s a common theme in blockbuster Hollywood science fiction movies to demonstrate how an extraterrestrial invader can prompt the nations of Earth to set aside their various disagreements and band together to defend against a common foe. Climate change is, essentially, the equivalent of an extraterrestrial enemy. Just imagine if a handful of self-interested billionaires influenced the United States to let the Martians invade? The public would not stand for it. Yet the reality in America today is that a small group of reckless corporatists have put the entire world in danger to protect their harmful, environmentally destructive industries.

Obviously, the “Kingpins of Carbon” are not going to back down when their profits are on the line. It’s going to take a rising rumble from the people to turn the tide in favor of protecting the planet for future generations.

One simple solution would be to enact a carbon tax — supported by some conservatives and companies — that would place a fee on polluters that emit greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. This tax would discourage the use of dirty fossil fuels and encourage clean energy alternatives to avert global warming while raising considerable revenue that could be applied to bettering life in America in other innumerable ways.

Such solutions will not enact themselves without the will of the people, however. The clock is ticking. It’s time for immediate action on climate change and global warming.

Visit democracyforus.org to learn more.

(Ralph Nader’s latest book is: Unstoppable: the Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.)

* * *

I'M EXPLAINING A FEW THINGS

You are going to ask: and where are the lilacs?
and the poppy-petalled metaphysics?
and the rain repeatedly spattering
its words and drilling them full
of apertures and birds?
I'll tell you all the news.

I lived in a suburb,
a suburb of Madrid, with bells,
and clocks, and trees.

From there you could look out
over Castille's dry face:
a leather ocean.
My house was called
the house of flowers, because in every cranny
geraniums burst: it was
a good-looking house
with its dogs and children.
Remember, Raul?
Eh, Rafel? Federico, do you remember
from under the ground
my balconies on which
the light of June drowned flowers in your mouth?
Brother, my brother!
Everything
loud with big voices, the salt of merchandises,
pile-ups of palpitating bread,
the stalls of my suburb of Arguelles with its statue
like a drained inkwell in a swirl of hake:
oil flowed into spoons,
a deep baying
of feet and hands swelled in the streets,
metres, litres, the sharp
measure of life,
stacked-up fish,
the texture of roofs with a cold sun in which
the weather vane falters,
the fine, frenzied ivory of potatoes,
wave on wave of tomatoes rolling down the sea.

And one morning all that was burning,
one morning the bonfires
leapt out of the earth
devouring human beings --
and from then on fire,
gunpowder from then on,
and from then on blood.
Bandits with planes and Moors,
bandits with finger-rings and duchesses,
bandits with black friars spattering blessings
came through the sky to kill children
and the blood of children ran through the streets
without fuss, like children's blood.

Jackals that the jackals would despise,
stones that the dry thistle would bite on and spit out,
vipers that the vipers would abominate!

Face to face with you I have seen the blood
of Spain tower like a tide
to drown you in one wave
of pride and knives!

Treacherous
generals:
see my dead house,
look at broken Spain :
from every house burning metal flows
instead of flowers,
from every socket of Spain
Spain emerges
and from every dead child a rifle with eyes,
and from every crime bullets are born
which will one day find
the bull's eye of your hearts.

And you'll ask: why doesn't his poetry
speak of dreams and leaves
and the great volcanoes of his native land?

Come and see the blood in the streets.
Come and see
The blood in the streets.
Come and see the blood
In the streets!

— Pablo Neruda

* * *

BIG OIL BROWN GREENWASHES HIS LEGACY AT U.N. CLIMATE SUMMIT

by Dan Bacher

Jerry Brown, one of the worst governors for fish, water and the environment in California history, spoke to world leaders at the United Nations Climate Summit in New York City today in a cynical attempt to greenwash his deplorable environmental record.

During his U.N. address, Governor Brown touted California’s controversial carbon trading policies as an example of "innovative climate strategies."

“The California story is a very hopeful one,” Brown gushed. “It’s a story of Republican and Democratic governors pioneering innovative climate strategies. It’s not been easy, it’s not without contest, but we’re making real progress."

“I believe that from the bottom up, we can make real impact and we need to join together,” added Governor Brown. “We’re signing MOUs with Quebec and British Columbia, with Mexico, with states in China and wherever we can find partners, because we know we have to do it all.”

Brown's remarks at the summit are available at: http://cert1.mail-west.com/oUyjbH/myuzjanmc7rm/21oUgt/r8kgy/vnqoU2xx1jy8d/uqc5hy21oUq/043i8kyepg?_c=d%7Cze7pzanwmhlzgt%7C12lu5pdhlx8v340&_ce=1411519461.60b50da8597e418eaeff8b1b85e25029)

In a video message ahead of the Summit, Brown claimed, "We are carrying on because we know in California that carbon pollution kills, it undermines our environment, and, long-term, it’s an economic loser. We face an existential challenge with the changes in our climate. The time to act is now. The place to look is California.”

Yes, California, now under attack by the anti-environmental policies and carbon trading greenwashing campaign by Governor Brown, is definitely “the place to look” for one example after another of environmental destruction.

Once known as "Governor Moonbeam" for his quirkiness and eccentricities during his first two administrations from 1975 to 1983, has in his third administration transformed himself into "Big Oil Brown.”

According to Jessie McKinley in the New York Times, The "Governor Moonbeam" nickname "was coined by Mike Royko, the famed Chicago columnist, who in 1976 said that Mr. Brown appeared to be attracting 'the moonbeam vote; which in Chicago political parlance meant young, idealistic and nontraditional." (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/07/weekinreview/07mckinley.html)

Thirty-eight years later, Oil Change International, a research, communication, and advocacy organization focused on "exposing the true costs of fossil fuels and facilitating the coming transition towards clean energy" has given Brown a new nickname, "Big Oil Brown," for the large contributions he has received from oil companies and his support of fracking. The web page dedicated to "Big Oil Brown" features Jerry attired in a suit and cowboy hat like a Texas oil baron right next to an oil rig (http://www.bigoilbrown.org/)

"California's Governor Jerry Brown has a problem: he wants to be seen as a climate champion who understands the science and takes this crisis seriously. At the same time, he just proposed new fracking rules in California that would amount to a gift to Big Oil. He can't have it both ways," according to the web page.

The group has also created a spoof ad about “Jerry Brown’s Frackwater Cologne.”

Leaders of environmental organizations, Indian Tribes and fishing groups are upset that Brown signed Senator Fran Pavley's Senate Bill 4, the green light for fracking bill that clears the path for expanded fracking in California, in September 2013. The last minute amendments to the bill by the oil industry were so odious that they spurred the League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council and Environmental Defense Fund to withdraw their support at the last minute for the already weak legislation.

The bill made California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review of fracking permits optional and prevents imposing a moratorium on fracking for 15 months.

Big Oil strongly supported the amended version of Senate Bill 4 that Brown signed. Just ask Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association and former chair of the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast, who praised the governor's signing of Senate Bill 4 for creating the "environmental" platform to expand fracking in California. (http://www.wspa.org/blog/post/statement-wspa-president-catherine-reheis-boyd-signing-sb-4)

"With the signing of Senate Bill 4, California has the toughest regulations of hydraulic fracturing and other energy production technologies in the country," said Reheis-Boyd. "While SB 4's requirements went significantly farther than the petroleum industry felt was necessary, we now have an environmental platform on which California can look toward the opportunity to responsibly develop the enormous potential energy resource contained in the Monterey Shale formation

Brown has received over $2 million from Big Oil 

Brown signed the bill after receiving at least $2,014,570.22 from fossil fuel interests since his race for Attorney General in 2006. (http://www.bigoilbrown.org/frackwater/)

In the 2014 election cycle, four oil companies have contributed a total of $161,000 to the Brown campaign to date, according to Oil Change International. Occidental Petroleum has given $27,200, the maximum legally allowed. Edison and Chevron have both contributed $27,200 twice, once for the primary election and another for the general election. Phillips 66 has nearly maxed out with a $25,000 contribution. Fossil fuel industry contributions in 2010 Governor’s race were $198,451.22.

Proposition 30, one of the Governor’s signature policy initiatives in 2012, was also heavily funded by Big Oil. The oil and gas companies contributed over $1,118,418 to the campaign, including $500,000 from Occidental Petroleum.

It gets worse. Opponents of Proposition 1, the controversial State Water Bond, on September 20 criticized Governor Jerry Brown and the backers of Prop. 1 for taking over $2.8 million raised to enact a tax increase for public education through Proposition 30 and diverting it to their campaign to pass "the biggest dam-building program in California history!"

Carolee Krieger, No on Prop. 1 leader and California Water Impact Network (CWIN) Executive Director, said, “The governor is using a legal loophole to divert donations for public education to back his deadbeat dams, pork programs and subsidies for huge agribusiness. None of the donors of this $2.8 million left over from Prop. 30 could have had any idea their money would be spent on this water bond." (http://cal-access.sos.ca.gov/Campaign/Committees/Detail.aspx?)

In addition, fossil fuel industry interests have donated $355,000 to Brown’s two Oakland charter schools since 2006. In 2013 alone, Occidental Petroleum gave The Oakland Military Institute $150,000 at Brown’s behest.

Brown backs carbon trading, Delta death tunnels 

But the Governor's signing of the green light to fracking bill is just one of the many attacks on the environment that Brown has engaged in.

Governor Brown is an avid supporter of the REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation+) that allows Northern Hemisphere polluters to buy forest carbon offset credits from the global South. Brown is trying to link an agreement among Chiapas, Mexico; Acre, Brazil; and California, to AB32, which commits to a 25% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions for 2020, and an 80% reduction for 2050).

Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, exposed the impact of Brown's REDD policies on the environment and Indigenous Peoples when he spoke at a protest against Brown's failed environmental policies in San Francisco on October 17, 2013 when Brown was slated to receive environmental leadership award by the Blue Green Alliance. Brown didn't show up, probably because of those, including Goldtooth and Michael Preston of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, who gathered outside to protest the event. (http://www.ienearth.org/press-statement-tom-goldtooth-behind-the-backs-of-the-people-of-california/:

"Despite being awarded, as I speak, for his supposed environmentalism, Governor Brown is moving ahead with a policy that grabs land, clear-cuts forests, destroys biodiversity, abuses Mother Earth, pimps Father Sky and threatens the cultural survival of Indigenous Peoples

This policy privatizes the air we breathe. Commodifies the clouds. Buy and sells the atmosphere. Corrupts the Sacred.

This policy is called carbon trading and REDD. REDD stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation. But REDD really means Reaping profits from Evictions, land grabs, Deforestation and Destruction of biodiversity. REDD does nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at source. And REDD may result in the biggest land grab of the last 500 years."

Brown has also rushed the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels, a $67 billion boondoggle that will hasten the extinction of Central Valley Chinook salmon, Delta and longfin smelt and numerous other fish species, as well as imperiling salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath Rivers. The plan would take large tracts of fertile Delta farmland out of production in order to irrigate drainage impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, all under the guise of "habitat restoration."

Every scientific panel, ranging from the Independent Delta Science Board to the National Academy of Sciences, has criticized the flawed "science" behind the twin tunnel plan.

More recently, the state and federal governments decided to delay the proposed project following the 43-page comment letter by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) slamming the Bay Delta Conservation Plan’s draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS).

The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) said the controversial plan to construct two 35-mile long tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to divert Sacramento River water to “agricultural plantations” in the deserts of southern California “was placed on life support” when the California Department of Water Resources announced that a revised EIR/EIS would be delayed until sometime in 2015.

“BDCP’s friends and family anxiously expressed hope that an infusion of additional millions of dollars and months of treatment would enable the project to recover,” quipped Bill Jennings, CSPA Executive Director. “However, the EPA comments coming on top of some 4,500 pages of searing reviews by municipalities, counties and water agencies that would be adversely impacted by the project, almost 2,000 pages of highly critical comments by environmental and fishing organizations, hundreds of pages of harsh analyses by government agencies and stinging comments from many thousands of California citizens reveal that BDCP is suffering from a congenital terminal illness. (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/08/29/18760890.php)

One Response to "Mendocino County Today: Thursday, September 25, 2014"

  1. Harvey Reading   September 25, 2014 at 8:16 pm

    “QUOTE OF THE DAY”

    Nor Wyoming, where pot is as common as in CA.

    Reply

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