Mendocino County Today: Friday, Oct 3, 2014

* * *

LEE EDMUNDSON CLEARS THE AIR. Edmundson, speaking at last Tuesday’s (September 23) Board of Supervisors meeting, brought the town's endlessly debated future into sharp focus. Is Mendocino a functioning civic entity or a distorted tourist turnstyle?

Edmundson: “I am aware that Hill House and the Mendocino Hotel which are the flagship visitor serving facilities in the town of Mendocino are in receivership. They are being operated by a bank that has taken them over. I said something to you guys about supply and demand. If there's ever been prima facie evidence that there is an oversupply of visitor serving facility units within the town of Mendocino it's the fact that the flagship establishments that have been there since almost the dawn of time as we know it (laughs) are bankrupt. I didn't know about the Heezer House. I know that the owners of Joshua-Grindle Inn walked away from that indebtedness last year. There's too much competition! Which means there's too many rooms — not that there's not enough. The ‘pirate room amnesty plan’ — for lack of a better term — goes so far. I don't see any other way to get out of the mess than to do it the way you are planning on doing it. I don't object to that. I can't really wholeheartedly support it, but I don't object to it because I don't see any other way to clean up the mess that's been decades in the making. I don't think you are going to get out of the mess by using the same thinking that you used to get into it. I would like for you to go the whole nine yards on this. After the 60 day application, after the one-year acquiring the Coastal Development Use Permit, any unallocated, unpermitted rooms within your cap limit after that — I'm asking you to not leave those hanging out there forever for somebody to come up and claim because that's exactly what caused the mess to begin with: If we get caught, they say, we can apply for a Coastal Development Use Permit. What I'm asking you to do is, any that are unapplied for after 60 days, any that are unallocated or unpermitted after one year, reduce the cap by that difference. Essentially embrace the concept that in order to save the town of Mendocino, the residential character of the town of Mendocino, the County adopts a policy and asks the Coastal Commission to adopt a policy that there shall be no more visitor serving facility units allocated within the town of Mendocino. And that should be the 21st Century plan and policy of this County if we are going to save, if we are going to save the residential character of the town which is also part of, an essential part, the essential part, of the current Mendocino Town Plan and has been ever since its inception. I am asking you to believe that the Coastal Commissioners will back you up on this and you'll solve the problem of oversupply and illegal rooms once and for all.”

Supervisor Dan Gjerde: “Wow! In the new plan for the first time the vacation rentals or the short-term rentals will be phased out of the residential zoning district?”

Edmundson: “Vacation home rentals will be.”

Gjerde: “They will be phased out of the residential zoning district, as opposed to the commercial?”

Edmundson: “Yes.”

Gjerde: “Would you agree that that is an improvement in that it's helping those residential neighborhoods become more residential and less visitors serving?

Edmundson: It takes away an incentive, Mr. Gjerde, yes. It's a step in the right direction. There are other steps in the right direction. One thing that I did not get a chance to mention because I'm clock-phobic here, and I've said this in earlier meetings, Google AirB&B, Google VROB, Google Flipkey.com and type in Mendocino, California. I did that eight or ten months ago. Over 250 units are available either within the town or in the immediate surroundings around the town. And the point was I don't know how many have permits, I don't know how many are paying their bed tax, and neither does anyone in this government here. Because this government simply isn't tracking that! We are trying to use old thinking to fix problems that are new. We have to adopt new thinking and that's all I'm asking you to do. Regarding the residential character of the town, the phenomenon that is happening now Mr. Gjerde, is that people — and I had Tim distribute to you the 1989 parcel by parcel inventory and you'll notice that one of the indexes in that inventory shows the designation of vacation homes. We have homes bought by people as second or third or fourth homes that come up two weeks a year, two weeks every six months — there is a family from Montana that comes down to the house across the street from the post office, and they stayed there three months. They come down in the winter because winter in Mendocino is better than winter in Montana. But when they leave they pull the shutters down, they lock it up, and it is empty. And that is a problem that we have not even come close to addressing here. So all I'm saying is that it has been a perennial problem, residential versus visitor-serving. Take the prima facie evidence of these flagship facilities in bankruptcy as perhaps evidence that we have enough! Our job is done in terms of letting the public have access to accommodations within the town. Now it's our job to fall on the other side of the equation which is to preserve and protect and defend the residential character of that town! And I think if you adopted a revolutionary policy — any that are unapplied for or not allocated after one year, reduce the cap. New policy! There shall be no more visitors serving facility units within the town of Mendocino. That is a step in the right direction. I applaud County staff for all the work they have put into this.”

* * *

A READER RESPONDS: “I used to live in Mendocino. Lee Edmundson is an old timer and they want no change, no progress — keep those GD tourists OUT! ‘THIS IS OUR TOWN AND OUR OCEAN AND WE DON'T WANT THEM OUTSIDERS TAKING OVER.’

Mendocino old-timers are especially like this. They would have Mendocino return to the falling down shacks with drug dealers hanging around the foundation like moss. They'd be happier if abandoned buildings still existed everywhere. Mendocino has definitely moved away from some of its quaintness and draws more tourists than it used to, but for most businesses it is always a struggle to survive, especially since the crazy 90s has ended. It's not just hotels which have gone belly up. The town was half empty a few years after the downturn because people could not afford to come, it was too far away, and they didn't want to shop. All businesses faltered as did the hotels and inns. It was grim.

So I think Edmundson is missing one very particular fact: It's the economy. The housing boom from 1995 till the crash raised the prices of the homes in Mendocino and catapulted the whole village into the next century, as occurred all over the country — a make-over which becomes less attractive and makes the town less real. In my observation, almost any property that exists on the whole of the California Coast with access to the water has been taken over in the last 15 years by people who have money and want a second home by the ocean. (Look at the Kosla incident in Half Moon Bay Area.) Thus the ‘residential character’ of Mendocino has been more affected by second homeowners who are never there than to inns that are in bankruptcy. I saw this happen to Mendocino when I lived there. Almost every home in the village turned over and was improved and renovated. And most of them were bought by people who do not live there. Pacific Grove on the Monterey Peninsula has a more than 50% second home ownership. When I visited there 5 or 6 years ago, and drove around one evening, it was a ghost town. Nary a light on anywhere. Second home ownership ruins a town, as it is doing in the Anderson Valley in this decade. This has nothing to do with tourism. It's a market condition that happened nationwide and changed the character of America in general. The Coastal Commission and the County have no control over that.

Two. The Hill House has been in receivership for many years. It was a motel-like place with no character under terrible management/ownership that never could compete with the other older inns with character and charm. I remember all kinds of complaints about the owners who didn't seem to have a clue how to run a hotel. The Mendocino Hotel has other issues that have to do with the ownership who are some people who live in San Diego. But the Mendocino Hotel is full most of the time. Joshua Grindle turned over during the boom. People who bought during the boom were destroyed. Those inn buyers are all underwater. So Edmundson's arguments do not really hold water.

He completely neglects the impact the downturn had on the whole Coast — real estate prices, shops, etc. This problem of preserving the character in the village of Mendocino is not because there are too many rooms. It's been the economy.

Three. The other housing outside the village, the ‘vacation homes,’ VRBO, etc. Most of these are outside the Village. I'm not sure what the problem is with that. I don't think they compete and provide too many more rooms. When I lived there, the town was full in the summer, tourism greatly reduced from November till April. My understanding is it hasn't changed that much. In fact, during the first few years of the downturn, it felt like a ghost town. And this boom/bust cycle is cyclical. So I think the underground VRBO market has come into being, but in looking at those myself the past few years, the prices are generally very high, the good places not often available and the requirement to stay minimum nights makes them less occupied. But I am no expert on the stats on this.

I think it's ridiculous to say their plan will help neighborhoods on the Coast become more ‘residential.’ As I said earlier, the price of housing and current ownership has changed that. There's always been a big fuss about anyone renting out a room or cottage not designated and permitted. It's a very hostile environment for that kind of thing. Maybe there are some pirates there, but as of 2011, I didn't hear or know of any. Inns changed hands, rooms upgraded and renovated, etc. But very few private homes have vacation rentals in the Village.

There have always been vacation rentals on the Coast. Phasing them out for what? There is no possibility for more commercial inns on the Coast to appear. Just won't happen due to Coastal Commission issues.

Preserve and protect the residential nature of Mendocino! Those old whining and complaining people never stop. I lived there and know the scene. The designation of ‘Historic’ for the town put the kibosh on that years ago, the Mendocino Review Board are Nazis and no one ever got away with anything in that town. Mendocino has changed, but it's not because of pirate rooms in town. The whole damn country has changed. Look at San Francisco! So I guess having the second home closed up most of the year is better than having someone rent it for a month or for two weeks every two months. This is ridiculous. If anything, Mendocino is more dead in terms of full-time residents than it was when I moved there — not more ‘visitor serving’.”

* * *

A FEW YEARS AGO, THE STATE told the proliferating inland grape growers that they couldn't all pump at the same time from the dwindling Russian River on spring frost mornings to protect their grapes from freezing. The State said the grape people could even write their own frost protection plans, but the state had an obligation to protect the river for the sake of its remaining fish.

MOST PEOPLE thought the state was being more than reasonable, but the grape growers bull-rushed Judge Ann Moorman's superior courtroom, lamenting that the state had no business in their affairs, that the river water belonged to them because they had legal riparian access to it and that they were “self-regulating.” The Judge came up with an opinion that satisfied the grape lobby, which was predictably overturned by the State Appellate Court sitting in San Francisco a year later.

AN INTERESTING ASPECT of the frost protection water management issue that hasn’t been mentioned before is that the original lawsuit was filed in Mendocino County, not Sonoma County, even though Sonoma County has much more potentially affected vineyard acreage than Mendocino County.

THERE'S NOT MUCH DISPUTE that when grape growers turn on all their water pumps at once, a river or tributary creek can dry up pretty fast during a “frost event,” leaving dying fish in drained stream beds. There have been several of these mass fish kills over the years, a fact that doesn't seem to disturb the inland growers.

SO WHY WAS THE SUIT filed in Mendocino County, not in Sonoma or by a combination of Mendocino and Sonoma growers? 1. Mendo’s inland vineyards are more prone to frost because too many grapes have been planted in colder areas near creekbeds where no self-respecting old-school viticulturist (cf Parducci, long before everybody with $4 million dollars got into having his own vineyard) would have considered planting for fear of frost; and 2. Sonoma County is downstream of Mendo, so during a cold spell, if Mendo cranks up their pumps, there’s not much water left for Sonoma County vineyards, much less the endangered fish that die from stranding. Sonoma County growers are probably glad to see some minimal level of regulation applied to their Mendo counterparts.

WHICH IS WHY Sonoma County Farm Bureau President Tito Sasaki said recently that Sonoma County grape growers had already begun work on the state-mandated frost water management plans when they were first required to be developed in 2011. That Sonoma County prep work was suspended in 2012 when Mendo Judge Ann Moorman issued a permanent injunction on the plan requirement at the request of a gaggle of aggrieved grape people who crowded her courtroom to demand relief from having to prepare their own rules.

ON WEDNESDAY, October 1, the California Supreme Court announced that they would let the appeals court ruling stand that overturned Moorman’s injunction. Barring further legal haggling, hundreds of grape growers in Sonoma and Mendocino counties will now have to prepare and submit their own frost water management plans to make sure that minimum flows in the Russian River and its tributaries are maintained during spring freezes.

MANAGEMENT PLANS should make sense to the growers themselves because the present free-for-all gives an unfair advantage to the upstream pumpers who can pump as much as they want with impunity leaving nothing for anybody downstream.

THE NEXT STEP will be the break down into two basic strategies to the frost water management system in the Russian River basin. 1. Opt out entirely, and promise never to pump directly out of the river for frost protection (which we imagine a good number of Mendo growers will do — promise, that is), or 2. Cooperate with other growers in such a way that pumping by one is coordinated with pumping by others so that no one pumper pumps too much.

“COOPERATION” is not a word that Mendo growers are particularly fond of, otherwise they wouldn’t have paid for the expensive lawyers to file for the 2011 injunction from Moorman in the first place. We expect that many Mendo grape growers will opt out and switch to a combination of pond storage and wind fans for frost protection. This in turn will leave the remaining growers who want to pump directly from the River on the hook for the plan preparation and implementation cost, and each of them will have to pay more than if everybody participated.

THIS IS THE TRUE REASON that motivated the Mendo growers to sue, even though Sonoma County and most legal observers — including Congressman Jared Huffman (a former environmental lawyer) — knew the suit would ultimately go nowhere because the State has always had the legal authority to regulate minimum river and stream flows.

THERE WILL NOW commence much backbiting between inland growers — this time between those who opt in to the frost water management system and those who opt out. Then, after that, they’ll have to deal with the Outlaw Pumpers — the growers who opt out with the “promise” not to pump, but who will continue to pump frost protection water out of the river anyway because, to them, their grapes are more important than the fish, their downstream neighbors, and — if they choose the wind-fan option — the sleep of anyone within earshot.

PS. The issue may be moot if the predicted drought continues for much longer. You can’t manage frost protection water that’s not there.

(http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/2911170-181/states-top-court-declines-to&sa=U&ei=pu0tVOeBLZSqyASUnIDQAQ&ved=0CBwQqQIwAQ&usg=AFQjCNFDpM7oGPzyiPdui-bInqi1HrD6PQ)

* * *

RECENT PHONE SCAM involving City of Ukiah Utility Services — October 1, 2014. The Ukiah Police Department is investigating a report that phone scammers called a local business claiming to be the City of Ukiah Utility Billing Department. The caller told the business that their utility bill is overdue and their electricity will be immediately disconnected if they do not pay the outstanding balance using a credit card over the phone. The callers are very convincing and usually make these calls after City Hall is closed. They request that the Business owner obtain a pre-paid credit card to make the payment immediately over the phone and offer to call back in a short period of time to allow for the business owner to obtain the pre-paid credit card. The only reported instance of this happening in Ukiah to date occurred after 5:00 p.m., on 9/30/14. The Police Department is investigating and we are aware of similar scams in other jurisdictions recently. If you are a City of Ukiah Utility Customer and you receive a phone call from anyone asking you to pay your bill over the phone, do not give out any information or make any payments. If you receive a suspicious call, end the conversation and call the City of Ukiah to verify your utility billing status by calling the City of Ukiah Utility Billing Department at 463-6228. The City of Ukiah will not call requesting utility payment without first having noticed you in writing that your account is past due. Your utility service will not be disconnected if you have not previously received a written notice from the City of Ukiah. Anyone with information about this type of activity is asked to immediately contact the Ukiah Police Department at 463-6262. Again, never make any payments to the City of Ukiah over the telephone without first verifying your billing status and never give personal or account information over the phone unless you are certain you are talking with an official representative of the City of Ukiah. (Ukiah Police Department Press Release)

* * *

IT'S GETTING 'DIRTY' IN FORT BRAGG COUNCIL RACE

GROUP WANTS SPORTSCASTER/RADIO HOST YANKED FROM AIRWAVES

(From the Lindy Peters Facebook page):

Here is the latest article from the Anderson Valley Advertiser. Please take the time to read this. This same group Mr. Macdonald refers to is now trying to take me off the air by demanding equal time on the radio for their candidates. The radio station received a certified letter from them yesterday. I ran in 1992, 1996 and 2000 without a problem. I have an entertainment/sports show, not a talk show. I never give my opinions about local politics on my show. Why is this group so afraid of me? Why will they do anything to keep me from winning? It is because I will not be a pawn for them and their agenda-driven vision of our city's future. The fact is, they do not like elections. They obfuscate the issues with dirty politics. Don't be fooled. Get the vote out and tell all your friends they really need to vote in this election and show these people our little town will not be run by special interest groups.

(https://www.theava.com/archives/35497)

* * *

CORRECTION

Editor,

I would ask you to please issue a correction to the article, "Fort Bragg City Council Race Heats Up, by Malcolm Macdonald, October 1, 2014" Mendocino Access Television does many fine things but they are NOT streaming live debates on the coast. That broadcast was done by Mendocino TV at www.mendocinotv.com. If you haven't watched us you may become surprised. We are the only other independent news source in Mendocino County. We are NOT a non profit. We do not take public money. We are wholly self financed. We have covered many events alongside Sheila Dawn Tracy and find her to be a wonderful resource and fine person. I'm surprised Malcolm Macdonald hasn't heard of us. Thank you.

Editor, www.mendocinotv.com

ED NOTE: MALCOLM HAD IT RIGHT, we had it wrong. We hadn't heard of Mendocino TV and thought, without checking with Malcolm, he meant Mendocino Access Television. Apologies to Malcolm and Mendocino TV.

MARK SCARAMELLA NOTES: The error was mine, not Mr. Macdonald’s. I didn’t realize that Mendocino TV was separate from Mendocino Access TV. Mr. Macdonald has said many times that he not only HAS heard of Mendocino TV, but considers it an invaluable source of information on the Coast. (PS. I have also heard of Mendocino TV, of course, and find it useful as well. Apologies.)

* * *

SATURDAY AT THE PARK

by Mike Kalantarian

A gift of tickets allowed my daughter and I to attend the Giants' 161st, or second-to-last, game of 2014. Until that morning, our decision to attend the game had been up-in-the-air. Now that the day was nigh, it was seeming more like a meaningless game. All the National League playoff spots had been decided. The Giants were in the midst of a four-game series with the San Diego Padres, a team long out of contention, with little to play for, save pride. Conversely, the Giants had just clinched the last wildcard spot -- but they also had nothing left to strive for in the regular season. Two more games and they would be heading to Pittsburg for their next meaningful game, the one-game wildcard playoff to see which team would continue on. At the last minute, we decided to go.

As the Giants took the field to start the game, we saw they were taking this opportunity to give many of their regular players some much needed rest. Posey, Pablo, Pence, Panik, Blanco, and Ishikawa were all on the bench. The only starters in the lineup were the two Brandons, Crawford at short and Belt on first. But that decision also turned out to be a great opportunity to see a lot of the younger and more unknown players, which turned out to be quite interesting and enjoyable. A few impressions...

Matt Duffy is a tall, thin second baseman. He is also a very competent hitter. He looks comfortable at the plate, has a nice swing, and makes solid contact. Even though he is young and inexperienced at the big league level, it seems like he arrived already knowing how to hit. (By the way, the Padres starting pitcher was Eric Stults, a big, veteran lefty who was pitching well on this day.) Duffy got a couple hits, and also had an at-bat where he fouled off an impressive number of pitches. Duffy appears to be a good, not great, fielder -- but this kid can hit.

Chris Dominguez was an adventure in left field. He takes awkward, confused routes to the ball, and generally looks pretty clunky out there. Although he did end up making two catches on a couple of well-hit balls, both of them were a lot shakier than they should have been. On the first one he ran back to the warning track, shifting directions a couple times, before making an awkward catch, as if he had been wrestling an armadillo. On the second one, a misjudged line drive over his head, he just barely managed to pinch the ball in the fingertips of his glove. It looked like a scoop of vanilla sticking out, and I was surprised it didn't fall out as he brought the whole show to a stop. Chris appears to be a defensive liability. But he's a big, strong fellow who is probably coveted for power hitting.

Hunter Strickland, a big relief pitcher, throws very hard. We got to watch him warm up in the bullpen, loudly popping the catchers' mitt with fastballs. He came in to pitch the eighth inning, and dominated the three batters he faced.

Gary Brown, in centerfield, was very quick on his feet. We saw him leg out a couple infield hits. If he can bunt, hit grounders, and learns how to steal, he could become a valuable leadoff man. He is also a much better defensive outfielder than Mr Dominguez. We saw him scoot back on a big hit and make a good catch at the wall. It was not scary.

Juan Perez, in right field, was kind of ho hum for me. Not particularly impressive at the plate, he also dropped a running catch that did not appear especially difficult.

The young catcher, Andrew Susac, continues to impress. He's been on the team for the second half of the year, and has gotten some substantial playing time spelling Posey behind the plate. So he was not a complete mystery, but is was nice to see him in person, and he appeared just as expected: a solid, dependable catcher. He also seems to have a habit for clutch hits.

Another player who was no mystery to me was Brandon Crawford, but the more I see this guy play defense, the more impressed I become. He's not physically built like a shortstop -- burlier than you expect -- but he sure can play the position. He gets great jumps, and it surprises you how many balls he reaches and snares, all with seeming ease. He has a good arm and makes accurate throws. He's an excellent defensive shortstop who also has a knack for getting big hits, and he won this game with a two-run single in the eighth.

Jake Peavy, another veteran, started the game for the Giants. At one point, late in the game, the umpire called a Peavy strikeout pitch a ball. Even from a great distance you could tell Peavy was fuming about the call. There was nothing overt or demonstrative, it was all contained, but you could still sense the tension. After a few moments he settled down and went back to pitching. Peavy's not a big fellow, but he seems like a scrappy fighter, a good guy to have on your side.

Back to the young players, how fortunate the Giants seem this year with their crop of rookies. At the head of that list is Joe Panik, who also arrived midseason, after numerous injuries and failures had reduced second base to a shambles. This minor leaguer seemingly came out of nowhere, solidified the position, and soon made it all his own. He now bats second in the order, and ended the year with a .305 batting average.

And now the Giants are heading for the playoffs of 2014 -- another even numbered year, so watch out, world! Some of these youngsters might surprise us this postseason.

* * *

SEVEN DEADLY SINS IN AMERICA

by Jeff Costello

The Seven Deadly Sins are not biblical in origin, or so I've heard. But according to wikipedia, the Catholic church regards them as the basis of all the others. A facebook post asks, "If pride is a sin, shouldn't people who are proud to be Christians go to hell?" Which led me to the notion that the seven deadly sins, or character defects, pretty well describe The American Way as we know it today, and sum up how and why things are so screwed up. We not only fail to learn from history, but from right now, too.

Wrath — What is more wrathful than war? It may be good for business — oh wait, that comes under greed. (The Seven Deadlies are closely related). We hate the republicans, we hate the democrats, we hate the whole congress. Cops seem to hate everybody especially if they're not white. How wrathful must one be to go around shooting and beating people, let alone bombing the crap out of whole geographical areas? Wrath, we've got.

Greed — Wall St., need we say more? And business in general. Seriously, are there not enough places to shop? But new development surges on. In this area, there are two Walmarts within walking distance. A 7-11 on almost every block. Down the street from here there are two on a single block. Can people not get enough chips, beer, candy bars, giant kool-aid drinks, and atomic fallout pizza, that they can't go several minutes or a half a mile without access to them? If you're hungry you can be greedy for food, meanwhile billionaires are greedy for more money. But that's not enough, they want to alter the world in such a way as to keep everything coming their way. And they're doing a pretty good job of it.

Sloth — best exemplified by TV watching, but don't worry, soon enough the commercials will compel you to go out for more chips and soda, or beer, maybe a giant cheeseburger. Double heavy whopper. And you can drive through, don't even have to get out of the car.

Gluttony — Just look around you. Obesity is everywhere, as are restaurants that serve absurdly huge plates of obscenely fattening food. 25 years ago Jim Gibbons and I went to a McDonald's in Willits, for the sheer perversity of it. Ahead of us, two grossly overweight women were buying big macs, fries, deep fat-fried "apple pie," and of course DIET cokes. It wasn't their "glands," and they weren't "big boned." This started a series in the AVA called "The Fat Letters." Apparently we were ahead of our time.

Lust — For blood, sex, power... You just can't get no satisfaction.

Envy — In the movie "To Die For," the main character says, "You're Nobody in America if you're not on TV." So now, thanks to smartphones, everyone can be on TV. In fact it's difficult to escape the surveillance cameras and everyone with their faces in the phone who might well be filming you. We might have to change the phrase to You're Nobody in America if you're not on commercial TV. That's where the envied people are. The rich and famous, the beautiful people. The grass grows greener on celebrities. We love to put them on pedestals and then knock them off.

Pride — This is the big one. Proud to be an American. Oh, yeah. Exceptional and Indispensable. Self-deception on a massive scale, national narcissism.

It is lamentable, that to be a good patriot one must become the enemy of the rest of mankind.  -Voltaire

Proud to be an Okie from Muskogee —Merle Haggard (he was kidding, folks — and sorta regrets recording it).

Pride goes before a fall, and Pride goeth before a fall. This one IS biblical. "If you are too proud and overconfident, you will make mistakes leading to your defeat." (The Free Dictionary). But we can't seem to learn, can we? Piling on the bullshit and not noticing how things get worse. "You must be very proud."

* * *

POT THEN & NOW

by Lee Simon

In the AVA, over the past few years, many articles have appeared related to marijuana. They have imparted interesting and useful information about its growth, distribution, and usage. What I wish to do here is to present a rough history, to bring all of the information together in one place.

This will be useful to those who have not kept up with the AVA coverage. It begins about two thousand years ago. That’s how long hemp has been grown and used all over the world. Canabis Sativa goes way back, and the Aztecs had a very long for it. Then, in the 1800’s the Mexican revolutionary hero Pancho Villa and his girlfriend were toking it up one day and she asked Pancho what the herb is called. He told Mari, which was her name, that in Spanish the word for female warrior is juana. She, like he, was a warrior, so he decided to call it marijuana.

Jump forward to 1933. The man who created the furor around pot was the former Commissioner of Prohibition. His name was Harry Anslinger. He was big on keeping alcohol illegal. However, after thirteen years of related crime, corruption, and gangs, in 1933 the 21st Amendment wiped out the 18th amendment and Prohibition ended. Now it was again legal to manufacture, transport, and sell alcohol (it was never illegal to drink alcohol during prohibition, and medical alcohol was legal). Harry Anslinger was out of a job.

In 1937 Harry got appointed as the head of the Bureau of Narcotics of the Federal government. He was two things; a fanatical prohibitionist and an extreme racist. He turned his attention to marijuana. He made an anti-pot propaganda film against it called Reefer Madness. It was a scare tactic, full of lies and distortions. With the support of the cotton lobby, the alcohol lobby, and the anti-Mexican forces Harry got Congress to pass the Marijuana Tax Act, which put such a heavy tax on marijuana that it drove it underground, where it has remained to this day.

At that time there a great deal of immigration, legal or otherwise, of people from Mexico into the U.S.

There was a lot of anti-Mexican feeling among many whites, which further convinced Congress to ban pot. The anti-Mexican sentiment became tied to anti-pot, since most of the pot came into the U.S. from Mexico back then. It was racist to the core.

Here are some direct quotes from Harry Anslinger. “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men”. “…the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races”. “Marijuana can arouse in blacks and Hispanics a state of menacing fury or homicidal attack”. “Marijuana is an addictive drug that produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death”.

What Harry did was transfer the sin attached to alcohol over to marijuana. A person who abused alcohol was thought to be a moral reprobate, a sinner. He convinced the American psyche that using pot was also sinful. He called it the “Devil weed”. After all, it would change your consciousness and perhaps make a person see things differently than they would see them when sober. That went against the concept of social control and was not acceptable to those who were white and in power. You can’t really control people who see things differently than you want them to see.

In 1961 the Anslinger followers got the U.S. to be a signatory to the Single Convention Treaty on narcotic Drugs, which started the international policy of cannabis prohibition. In accordance with that treaty, marijuana is still illegal in every country on earth, including the Netherlands, where laws remain on the books despite official policy ‘tolerating’ its use.

Then, in 1970, the anti-pot forces put it on the controlled substance list as a Schedule One dangerous drug. This kicked off President Nixon’s War on Drugs, which became a major theme of his campaign for reelection. Marijuana is still scheduled by the U.S. Government as more dangerous than heroin, cocaine, morphine, opium, crack and crank. In 1972 a commission unanimously recommended decriminalizing the possession and distribution of marijuana for personal use. Nixon ignored the report and rejected its recommendations. This was in the face of a statement way back in 1937 by the American Medical Association that marijuana is not harmful.

Between 1973 and 1977, however, eleven states decriminalized marijuana possession. In January 1977, President Jimmy Carter was inaugurated on a campaign platform that included marijuana decriminalization. In October 1977 the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to decriminalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for personal use.

This was followed in the early 1980s by President Reagan’s ramping up the War on Drugs. His wife Nancy started the “Just Say No” program, which was followed later by the DARE Program, both of which have failed to curtail drug use among youth. Reagan caused the tide to be shifted and fear of drugs ruled the day. This began the trend of strict punishment for possession of marijuana, thus criminalizing it to the maximum.

This was a reaction to the perceived permissiveness of the 1970s and marijuana was caught up in the hysteria about drugs. In 1982 Reagan signed an executive order cutting drug treatment programs and urging stiffer prison sentences. No distinction was made between pot and the hard, addicting drugs. Law enforcement became the preferred strategy to deal with drugs. Since then 20,000,000 Americans have been jailed for pot related offences, most of them from just smoking it.

In the next few decades over a trillion dollars was spent on the War on Drugs, which, according to the head of the United Nations, has been “a dismal failure”. The tide, however, is turning. The younger segment of the population, from their own experience, is cutting through the propaganda and forcing state laws to change. Two states, Washington and Colorado, have legalized possession of marijuana. At least 16 states have legalized use of marijuana for medical purposes. Washington DC and Maryland have recently decriminalized possession.

There are, however, rules to the game of legalization. There is a limit to how much one can possess and still be legal. You cannot buy it if you are under 21 (thereby continuing the concept of prohibition). You cannot buy it in the state and take it out of the state where you bought it. You cannot sell it to anybody after buying it. You cannot grow more than for your own personal use, and only in a limited amount.

Another part of the law legalizing pot is that if you drive while stoned, and you have 5ng/ml or more of pot in you, you will receive a DUI, (that’s 5 nanograms per milliliter). The anti-pot forces insisted on this being put into the legalization law, to match pot to the .08 drunk driving number. However, depending upon their age and amount of usage of pot, some people will get to 5ng/ml with one joint and others would not, and there is no way to predict it in any given individual.

Today the Federal Government still maintains a zero tolerance policy, and the Federal agencies are in favor of keeping it illegal. There are four positions one may take with regard to legalization. 1. Keep it illegal. This is favored by police, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the large growers, the cotton and alcohol lobbies, and the for-profit prisons. This policy either makes them money, gives them jobs to do, reduces competition or their product, or feeds their needs for social control. 2. Medical marijuana. This now legal in many states (medical alcohol was legal during Prohibition) and changes the policy from prohibition to health concerns. Given the many medical uses for marijuana, many of which go back hundreds and even thousands of years, this policy does not favor full legalization. It limits it to medical usage. 3. Decriminalization, which keeps pot illegal to grow it for profit or to sell it, but makes it legal to possess a small amount of it for personal use. 4. Full legalization, like Washington and Colorado, and perhaps California soon, brings it up from underground. They argue that it can then be taxed, controlled like the ABC does with alcohol, and it takes the onus off of personal use being seen as a moral transgression and/or a personal failure.

The trend is toward full legalization, but it is slow to come about. Social change is always slow and often takes two or more generations to materialize. There is, however, a growing momentum away from keeping it illegal and moving toward full legalization. The public awareness of the monetary and societal costs of keeping pot illegal are becoming more and more known and accepted.

Why is it so slow to change? One reason is that propaganda works, and the anti-pot propaganda has been promulgated for almost a century. It is a scare tactic. It is not based on scientific evidence. It lumps all pot matters into one parcel, thus negating the fact that there are four position one may take, as indicated above. We live in a very fearful era these days.

Another reason is that change itself is fearful to most people. The status quo, even if irrational, seems to them better than the unknown aftermath of change. It gets thrown in with other fears, such as fear of terrorists, fear of another economic depression, and fear of death. Add to those two reasons a third, what I call the ‘pleasure police’. These are people in our culture who are super-religious. They are indoctrinated from their early years to have a very negative, fearful attitude toward any sensual, sexual, bodily pleasure. Pot is pleasurable to those who enjoy it. The ‘pleasure police’ people feel guilty about their own pleasures, and the guilt becomes fear, and the fear becomes anger towards those who enjoy their bodies and their pleasures.

For a fourth reason we can look at how pot is lumped in with all the other drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, opium, and so on. People think that legalizing pot will open a slippery slope toward legalization of all the other drugs. Thinking that marijuana is a gateway drug to the use of hard drugs is a fifth reason. While it is true that most hard drug users either use or have used marijuana, it is not true that correlation is causation. Most people do not understand that while the use of pot is highly correlated with the use of hard drugs, use of pot does not cause the use of hard drugs. Having an addictive personality is the major cause of the use of hard drugs. Every morning the sun comes up, and every morning you eat breakfast. That’s a 100% correlation, but the rising of the sun does not cause you to eat breakfast.

For a sixth reason as to why social change related to pot is so slow there is the perception that young people will abuse it. Some of them undoubtedly will, just as they now abuse alcohol, but as we saw with the prohibition of alcohol, prohibition does not work. The vast majority of young citizens do not abuse either alcohol or pot, and pot is readily available to those who wish to use it. The word abuse is short for abnormal use. Well, if some use is abnormal, then some use must normal. There has never been a human culture that has not had a drug of choice. Human beings seem to need to drug themselves to counter the stresses and challenges of living.

Lastly a seventh reason for the slowness of social change related to pot is that alcohol is our culture’s drug of choice, and it’s now legal to those of age. We do not think of alcohol as being a drug, which it is, and we do think of marijuana as being a drug. Alcohol is not only socially accepted, unlike pot, alcohol is expected at most social functions in our culture. This is true even in the face of mountains of scientific evidence that alcohol is very destructive to health if abused, whereas marijuana is not. Both drugs can be socially destructive and both can be psychologically destructive, in some ways similarly and in other ways differently.

Oh, wait, there is an eighth reason. It’s much easier to prohibit something than it is to educate people about it. Couple propaganda with prohibition and fear and it is difficult to mount an effective educational campaign about anything. Even with a good educational effort, such as the one related to alcohol use, people still drink too much for their own health and well being, especially young people.

For a ninth reason we enter the realm of cognitive dissonance. On the one hand is reality, scientific evidence, common sense, and so on. On the other hand is people’s belief about marijuana. When confronted with factual evidence about it they continue to cling to their erroneous belief about it.

Put together all those reasons why social change about pot is so slow and it is a wonder that it is changing at all. However, the concept of ‘social proof’ is driving the change forward. Herein lies the hope for those who favor decriminalization and/or legalization. The idea here is that when an individual sees lots of other people going somewhere or doing something, it then becomes more psychologically acceptable for the individual to go there or to do it. For example if you walk into a restaurant and nobody else is in there you will most likely turn around and walk out; but, if the place is full of people you stay. There is a growing amount of social proof related to smoking dope.

Science says that marijuana is not causing people to get sick or die from it. However, there are some cautions to be aware of. Young people’s brains do not fully develop until they are in their mid-twenties and some, but not all health professionals tell us that it is not good for young people to smoke a lot of dope. How much is “a lot” is left undefined, but brain scans indicated negative changes that are caused by smoking too much dope while your brain is still developing.

Also, if you are a paranoid personality type pot can affect your enjoyment of it by sending you into paranoid delusions. Further, pot is no different than alcohol is impairing one’s ability to drive a vehicle. Reaction time takes longer, coordination gets thrown off, to the point where someone who drives after smoking dope will have the reaction time of a 70 year old driver and a .08 drunk driver. Drunk driving and drugged driving are two sides of the same coin.

Here are some questions we all need to ponder. Does the policy of the Federal Government and do the police really have your best interests at heart when they tell you that they know what is best for you? Do you need someone or some group to protect you from yourself? To whom, other than yourself, would you turn over control of your state of consciousness? Does the claim of opponents to legalization that anyone who smokes dope is escaping from reality give them an uncontested right to define reality?

* * *

TableTurning

* * *

DRAFT MINUTES AND AMENDED MISSION STATEMENT

Bridges Meeting Sept 25th 2014

Minutes Albion Community Advisory Board (ACAB)

The meeting was called to order by Bill Heil at 7pm on Thursday September 25th. 13 people were in attendance. An agenda was set. There was a brief discussion of the Caltrans CAB. What were its goals? We were told of an outside (L.A.) advisory group. It was speculated that Caltrans hoped this effort might get them an easier ride through the Coastal Commission. A long while was spent crafting a mission statement. This mission statement shall be our mission statement should it be adopted at the next meeting. The Albion Community Advisory Board (ACAB) has been formed to review materials presented by Caltrans pertaining to the replacement and/or retrofitting of the bridges over Salmon Creek and the Albion River and the proposed changes to Highway 1. ACAB’s purpose is to study and digest the materials and publicize and make recommendations on the findings. There was some discussion on how to communicate among ourselves. Since Eva Andersson was not present many of these questions were deferred. For now minutes etc. shall be sent to Carol Clary and she will send them out over email. We discussed whether to become an affiliate of the Redwood Coast Watersheds Alliance (RCWA). Linda Perkins had secured insurance for the night and got a key to the building under their umbrella. Linda will send out their mission statement and their by-laws via email. Linda said there would be dues. The amount is somewhat flexible. We agreed to change our name to the Albion Community Advisory Board (ACAB). We voted to recommend for adoption that an item should be adopted only if it has been introduced at a previous meeting and disseminated in the minutes. Carol and Dan Clary were named to the Communications Committee. It was resolved that that ACAB shall function as a neutral body. It was suggested that the Minutes be posted in a public place. The next meeting will be October 23rd 7:00 pm at the Albion School.

(Minutes taken by Mary Walsh)

* * *

CITY OF POINT ARENA, CITY COUNCIL AGENDA

for the Special Meeting on October 4th & 5th, 2014.

Please click on the link to view and download it.

File "City Council meeting October 04 & 05, 2014.pdf"

Click on the link below to view and download the file.

https://files.acrobat.com/a/preview/b78c6268-8f9f-404d-aa20-c6b319a5e6ed

* * *

PALESTINE & THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL

Dear Editor:

It has been obvious for some time that under the current conditions a two state solution to the Palestine/Israel problem is DOA. Palestine President Abbas in his very tough speech to the U.N. General Assembly made it clear negotiations were at an end. He called on the U.N. Security Council to support a resolution setting a clear deadline for Israel's withdrawal from the occupied territories (a return to the 1967 borders). He did not specify a time line. The response of the United States State Department was harsh as might expected since the U.S. is not a honest broker and Congress is a lapdog for Israel.

However, a draft of a proposed resolution said to be circulating around the arab states and some council members is said to have a two deadline (2016) to withdraw back to the 1967 borders. It takes 9 members of the 15 member Security Council to approve the resolution. If it does pass then the U.S. will use its veto. That could cause Palestine to join the International Criminal Court (ICC). They have taken the first step by signing the Paris Accords. Given past actions of the Israeli Defense Forces and Israeli leaders the ICC could be moved to approve criminal charges against Israel.

In peace, Jim Updegraff, Sacramento

* * *

TAKE THE I OUT

But I love the I, steel I-beam

that my father sold. They poured the pig iron

into the mold, and it fed out slowly,

a bending jelly in the bath, and it hardened,

Bessemer, blister, crucible, alloy, and he

marketed it, and bought bourbon, and Cream

of Wheat, its curl of butter right

in the middle of its forehead, he paid for our dresses

with his metal sweat, sweet in the morning

and sour in the evening. I love the I,

frail between its flitches, its hard ground

and hard sky, it soars between them

like the soul that rushes, back and forth,

between the mother and father. What if they had loved each other,

how would it have felt to be the strut

joining the floor and roof of the truss?

I have seen, on his shirt-cardboard, years

in her desk, the night they made me, the penciled

slope of her temperature rising, and on

the peak of the hill, first soldier to reach

the crest, the Roman numeral I —

I, I, I, I,

girders of identity, head on,

embedded in the poem. I

love the I 
for its premise of existence — our I — when I was

born, part gelid, I lay with you

on the cooling table, we were all there, a

forest of felled iron. The I is a pine,

resinous, flammable root to crown,

which throws its cones as far as it can in a fire.

--Sharon Olds

* * *

THE GREAT ENEMY OF CLEAR LANGUAGE is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns, as it were, instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink.

— George Orwell

* * *

CATCH OF THE DAY, October 2, 2014

Attanasio, Bettega, Canlas, Ella
Attanasio, Bettega, Canlas, Ella

MYQ ATTANASIO, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.

KELLEY SUE BETTEGA, Covelo. Drunk in public.

JENNIFER CANLAS, Willits. False ID, false report of a crime.

CONNOR ELLA, Santa Barbara/Willits. DUI, Driving on DUI-suspended license.

Fabian, Fermin, Jenkins, Joaquin
Fabian, Fermin, Jenkins, Joaquin

FERNANDO FABIAN, Ukiah. Probation revocation, resisting arrest.

MARCOS FERMIN, Ukiah. Violation of court order, probation revocation.

JAMES JENKINS, Ukiah/Willits. Under influence of controlled substance, probation revocation.

WENDY SUE JOAQUIN, Covelo. Assault with a deadly weapon not a firearm, violation of county parole.

Katterman, Krauth, McCosker, Peck, Reynolds
Katterman, Krauth, McCosker, Peck, Reynolds

DENIS KATTERMAN, Willits. Driving without a license, failure to appear, probation revocation.

JENNIFER KRAUTH, Willits. DUI with priors, under the influence of controlled substance.

REMO McCOSKER, Ukiah. Possession of meth, probation revocation.

ROBERT PECK, Las Vegas/Ukiah. Pot sales, transportation, furnishing; failure to appear.

STEPHEN REYNOLDS, Fort Bragg. Possession of meth.

* * *

JACKSON DEMONSTRATION STATE FOREST TEMPORARY ROAD CLOSURE, ROAD 700.

Use JDSF Road 720 as an alternative route to access Mendocino Woodlands State Park

Effective Monday, October 6, 2014, access within Jackson Demonstration State Forest on Road 700 is temporarily closed to all unauthorized motor vehicle traffic. As Road 700 is the primary access road to the Mendocino Woodlands State Park, an alternate route has been designated via JDSF Road 720. This is a temporary area closure for public safety while a road improvement project is conducted on Forest Road 700. The work is expected to take about two weeks, and the area reopened by Friday, October 17, 2014.

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation. Additional access information can be obtained by contacting the JDSF office (707) 964-5674 or visiting the JDSF website: http://calfire.ca.gov/resource_mgt/resource_mgt_stateforests_jackson.php. (CalFire Press Release)

2 Responses to "Mendocino County Today: Friday, Oct 3, 2014"

  1. Lazarus   October 3, 2014 at 7:33 am

    Am I amiss or has there been no recent coverage of the 3rd District Supervisorial race? Granted the hopefuls are kind of vanilla, but in lieu of the Sheriff, DA, and now County Super of schools, it’s really the only county contested raced, what up?

    Reply
    • Lazarus   October 4, 2014 at 9:25 am

      I get the feeling I’m being ignored…perhaps it’s my persona.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.