- Hwy 20 Open
- Taming Rocky
- Nice Fire
- Loretta Update
- Jail Money
- Foster Kids
- PG&E v Solar
- Passenger Trains
- Bobcat Trapping
- Catch of the Day
- Camp Reality
- Surfer Leila
- Pittman Bridge
- Confucius Library
- FB's Night Out
- Drone Lady
- Farm Workers
UPDATE: HIGHWAY 20 NOW OPEN
--California Highway Patrol news release, 10:31am, Aug 7
CALFIRE PREDICTS AUGUST 13 CONTAINMENT of Rocky Fire in Lake County; containment now up to 40%.
The devastating Rocky Fire in Lake County is starting to slow its expansion. But Governor Brown said Thursday that California faces a bigger threat this fire season. “The worst is not over,” said Brown. “California is burning. What the hell are you going to do about it?” he asked rhetorically, adding that he didn’t just mean this year’s likely terrible fire season. The ravages of wildfires this season and in past seasons to make the case that climate change is both real and destructive, Brown added, also rhetorically. (Courtesy, Associated Press)
A LOCAL CALFIRE FIREFIGHTER told us Thursday afternoon that the scuttlebutt among the crews these days is, “We think we’ve finally got a handle on it.” And that seemed to have been confirmed by CalFire’s official assessment of the Rocky Fire late Thursday. The fire is now up to over 70,000 acres in size (110 square miles — the equivalent of about 8.2% of Lake County), but it’s growing more slowly than before and lighter winds are not fanning it as much. The still-growing fire has destroyed 43 homes and 53 outbuildings so far, and is still threatening more than 6,500 structures, but the threat-level is down and evacuees are expected to be allowed to return home soon.
THE NOTE OF OPTIMISM WAS TEMPERED, however, by the realization that as bad as the Rocky Fire is — easily the worst fire in California this year — so far — total California fires and acreage burned is well ahead of pace with a lot left to go in an unprecedentedly dry fire season which is usually heaviest in September and October.
ALSO ON THURSDAY a fire-weather red flag warning/watch was issued for a large portion of the North Bay, where dry lightning is expected to hit in random locations and could spark more fires with the already dry conditions, CalFire said, adding that such weather conditions may also be accompanied by erratic winds and gusts.
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE — THU AUG 6 2015, North Bay Area: “Dry thunderstorms are expected to develop today and persist overnight into Friday morning. A low pressure system moving northwest across the region will begin to impact the area today with dry thunderstorms initially developing over Monterey and San Benito counties. The thunderstorm threat will move northward into the San Francisco and the North Bay Area by afternoon. The thunderstorm threat will become more widespread Thursday afternoon lasting into the evening and overnight hours with lingering thunderstorms into Friday morning. Keep in mind that these thunderstorms will be dry with frequent lightning and the potential for isolated down burst winds.” (Sonoma, Lake and Glenn Counties are included in the red flag warning areas, but not Mendocino County.)
ON THURSDAY CALFIRE REPORTED: “Relative humidity recovery is contributing to diminished fire line activity. Pockets of isolated intense heat still remain near the containment lines. With the return of critical weather parameters, increasing fire activity may be observed during the peak burning periods when temperatures are the highest and relative humidity is at its lowest. Firefighters continue to work aggressively to build control lines and sustain perimeter control. Barring further fire spread damage inspections are complete. Residents are urged to stay vigilant and adhere to any changes in evacuations and road closures. Fire activity and direction can change at any time, be prepared and stay informed. With the elevated fire danger, we are asking everyone to use extreme caution, “Ready, Set, Go”. For more information on how to prepare for wildfires, go to www.readyforwildfire.org
SMOKE WAS FAIRLY HEAVY in the Anderson Valley from the Rocky Fire, wafting in here from noon on through the evening, thick enough to smell by 4pm. The smoke against the setting sun made for a softly brilliant pink sunset, the only pink I've seen in years that was bearable.
NEW SMALLER FIRE IN NICE, LAKE COUNTY
LakeCountyNews.com reported Thursday evening that a new smaller blaze had broken out near Nice (on the north shore of Clear Lake, about 15 miles northwest of the City of Clearlake and maybe 20 miles from the edge of the Rocky Fire), apparently unconnected to the much larger Rocky Fire. At least one structure was on fire Thursday evening and others were threatened by what began as a three-acre fire. Local and Calfire ground and air units from the Rocky fire were quickly dispatched as the flames moved up a hill toward a few more structures. Initial reports on that response indicated that the fire was still burning but uphill movement had been stopped. The cause of that new smaller fire was not immediately known.
LORETTA HOUCK, THE LATEST
First of all, I wanted to thank you all for supporting Loretta and WDan during this initial three months of uncertainty and awaking. Your financial contributions have been very generous and your emotional encouragements have been a real life support for WDan.
On that note, I've decided to extend this fundraiser for another month to give those of you who have not had time to contribute to do so and for all of us to reach out a little further in our supportive community to those who do not yet know about this fundraiser. I've also raised our goal to $30,000. If we can raise $10,000 in a week, I think we can raise another $10,000 in a month. Now that we can see a little further into the future, we know that Loretta is going to need some sort of long term care once she returns home and her return home may not be for another 5 months. So any more financial help we can give will be truly appreciated and put to use for the care and recovery of our dear Lo.
Secondly, this brings me to the "Community Page" of our fundraiser. This is a new feature on the site and we were asked to use it as a test community. The GiveForward folks have seen how wonderful Loretta and WDan are and what an amazing group of friends they have and asked me if we'd be willing subjects. I, of course, said yes! This is a place we can all post comments, photos, encouragements, and thoughts. You'll find a link to it on the fundraising main page just above the update section. Please check it out and make comments frequently. As Loretta becomes stronger and stronger she will be able to check in to see all the positive thoughts you all are sending her.
Lastly, I wanted to give you an update from my perspective. I only get to see her once a week, but have been there watching and observing her every step of the way. I've watched her sleeping peacefully and wondered if she was ever going to wake up. But from the begining I know she was there, she was just waiting for the right time to re-enter this plain of existence. Once she awoke, I watched and waited patiently for any sign of her personality to reemerge. That didn't take long. Very quickly, her quirky little smirk appeared and her eyes lit up at the mention of Dan's name. Now she's nodding, shaking, and scratching her head with the intention of getting her point across. She lights up at the mention of Paris and the possibility of seeing it once again. Her eyes not only twinkle, but she grins from ear to ear when chocolate gets mentioned. Today, I told her I'd ask the nurse if I could bring her some chocolate and she not only gave me her half smile but looked at me like 'you better just smuggle that in here next time'. That's our Loretta. Now, I'm watching and waiting for her to begin talking. She had her tracheotomy removed earlier this week and that is the beginning of her starting to talk and eat. I'm so looking forward to hearing her voice and to know what she wants without asking her yes or no questions in hopes of getting it right. I can't wait to get to know the new Loretta. I have a ton of other stories to tell, but I'll save those for another time.
Once again, thank you all for your love and kindness towards Loretta and WDan! They are such awesome people and have an amazing community of friends. Cheers! – Shelly Englert, Boonville
THE SUPES are in unanimous support of Sheriff Allman’s desire to go after $20 million in state money to expand the Mendocino County Jail. New facilities unconnected to the present jail would be built to house the mentally ill and rehab programs. Applying for the money and getting are not necessarily the same thing, but the mentally ill, a population obviously on the increase everywhere in the land, don't belong in a jail setting and, as we never tire of pointing out, the most difficult among them of the frequent flier type are not currently being treated by this county's half-privatized, $15 annual million, mental health apparatus.
TALEN BARTON, the alleged (sic) Laytonville teen killer, grew up in the foster system, which means he spent his first years in a chaotic and probably dangerous home, then was bounced from temporary placement to temporary placement, finally arriving in Laytonville as a teenager where he seems to have seriously considered bludgeoning his foster mother. Following the aborted bludgeoning, Barton's best friend invited Barton to live with his warm and intact family, which Barton, in a midnight rage, destroyed. These are the basic known facts, but in broad outline it's not hard to see what happened with this guy.
THE FOSTER SYSTEM manages to accomplish the opposite of what a child, any child, needs, which is stability, predictability, security. Thousands of foster children grow up envying stable homes, and they grow up enraged at what they haven't had, and at age 18, no longer eligible to be converted to hard cash by the social work apparatus, they're cast out into the world to fend for themselves.
THIS ISN'T TO SAY that foster parents are bad people because most of them aren't. But they're part of a bad system that resists change and even the obvious, doable reforms. Like what? Pay stable people a living wage in return for which they obligate themselves to parent unto death. Foster parents have to deal with very difficult, very needy, very screwed-up kids, and that's a full-time effort that deserves full-time pay.
SEEMS TO ME that Barton, as metaphor, is one more example of America losing its way. Until the 1960s, church-run orphanages, operating on the stability assumption that would be lost in the 60s, raised dependent children in one place and, contrary to latter day mythology, these places provided warm, secure homes that were actually superior in resources and opportunity to what most American homes could then provide children.
THERE WERE LOTS of orphanages from Marin north to Ukiah, and I'm sure there were several to the north. As a kid, I had good friends and sports teammates who grew up at Sunny Hills in San Anselmo. It has since become a youth psychiatric facility of some kind, but in the late 1950s Sunny Hills was an orphanage. These guys seemed happy there. As I recall, they had a gym and a swimming pool, amenities at that time not known to many private homes. So far as I know, my teen chums didn't grow up any crazier than anybody else and, from what I've heard, a couple of them did very well out in the world.
ST. VINCENT'S in San Rafael was the first orphanage in the state, and in Ukiah for many years we had the Albertinum where our state historian, Kevin Starr, spent part of his youth. The facile criticism of the Catholics, Methodists and other religious denominations who sponsored these institutions always annoys me. Without them we had nothing, which is pretty much what essentially orphaned children have now — nothing.
AS FOR BARTON and dope, the preponderance of medical evidence is that young people with a genetic predisposition to schizophrenia, who also smoke a lot of marijuana as adolescents, tend to run off the rails as young adults. This guy? Who knows, but the love drug didn't seem to mellow him out much.
PG&E’S WAR ON SOLAR
PG&E isn’t just starting to push back against solar. They’ve been waging a war on solar for years. When my solar panels were installed in 2006, peak daytime pricing meant I gave PG&E over $100 worth of electricity a year that they didn’t have to pay me for. AB920, enacted in 2009, required PG&E to pay for that surplus. But few of their solar customers actually get paid, and at a low wholesale price. On the other hand, my solar-friendly power company, Marin Clean Energy (MCE), pays cash for surplus solar generation at the full retail price per kilowatt hour, including an extra penny for 100 percent green power. In 2010, PG&E’s Prop. 16 tried to prevent other local agencies from forming. And they’ve continued to undercut them by gaming the rate system. Time-of-use rate changes and unjustified generation credits shifted $250 from MCE to PG&E on my last year’s bills. PG&E’s attack on solar continued last month with new rate changes that will cost me hundreds more per year. Now PG&E proposes to surcharge solar customers, who actually reduce the overall grid load. This makes no sense.
Walt Bilofsky, Tiburon
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
“Building an extensive passenger and commercial rail system”
Funny story… Upon the election of the Obama/Biden ticket, and before they were inaugurated, I sent a letter to Joe Biden. At the time, there was billions of dollars pledged to begin “shovel-ready” infrastructure projects, and knowing Biden was a champion of railway travel, I suggested a project. I suggested that there should be, at least one AMTRACK terminal built or maintained in every county, in every state, in the US, with upgraded track so that passenger train travel could be accessed by locals which did not require (as in my case), a 200-mile round trip to the closest terminal. I further outlined the projected job opportunities (low and semi-skilled) that this project would generate over a five-year period. I was not so naïve that I expected an answer, other than a “Thank you Citizen” form letter — didn’t even get that. Thank God Uncle Joe is considering putting his hat into the ring… I can send him another letter!
NO MORE BOBCAT TRAPPING IN CALIFORNIA
The ground shook on August 5, 2015. No it wasn't an earthquake. It was a momentous decision made by the California Fish & Game Commission to end the long held practice of bobcat trapping in the State of California.
Trapping and killing these magnificent wild animals for their fur pelts, once considered a proud part of California's heritage, is now considered a cruel bloodsport for frivolous purpose by the great majority of Californians. Three of the five Commissioners had the insight to recognize that times have changed, and had the courage to vote a ban on this barbaric tradition. That is a ground breaking decision.
Today in California wild animals face tremendous survival pressures from the extreme drought we are all experiencing, habitat loss due to human development, and human predation. At this time in our history it is imperative that we humans learn how to live with our wild animal neighbors rather than targeting them for fun and profit.
In Mendocino County, our Board of Supervisors persists in its policy of lethal wildlife control even though a great majority of County residents want a policy that prioritizes non-lethal methods. Mendocino County Supervisors need to take a lesson from the California Fish & Game Commission, and catch up with the changing times.
PS. Supervisor McCowen's response to my last letter that exposed the duplicity of the BOS's renewal of the County's lethal Wildlife Services contract was so full of factual misrepresentations and pathetic rationalizations that it would take me a full page of the Advertiser to correct them all. Suffice it to say that McCowen's response just goes to show his terminal deafness to any evidence presented that contradicts his predetermined position on an issue. If McCowen's constituents knew with what contempt he holds public input into the political process, he'd be out of a job.
CATCH OF THE DAY, August 6, 2015
ANNA FEE, Fort Bragg. Domestic assault.
COREY HEINE, Ukiah. Loitering, vandalism.
ALEX HYDREOS, Redway/Ukiah. Suspended license, resisting.
VERNON KNAPP SR., Fort Bragg. Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)
RICHARD KNIGHT, Novato/Ukiah. DUI, reckless driving.
EARL LANSDOWNE JR., Clearlake/Ukiah. Burglary, conspiracy.
MARK MOORE, Ukiah. Domestic assault.
ROBERT NUTT, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public.
FAUSTO ORDONEZ, Willits. Battery, vandalism.
JACOB PARMELY, Ukiah. Distribution of obscene material to person under 18 with intent to seduce.
MARK PIVER, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
PATRICK SPRINKER, Covelo. Pot cultivation, processing, possession for sale, armed with firearm.
DANIEL WINTEROWD, Ukiah. Drunk in public.
MARY WISTERMAN, Clearlake/Ukiah. Burglary, conspiracy.
Re: NYTimes.com: Dear Editor:
Toward the end of a recent article in the New York Times titled “How to Vacation Like It’s 1999” by Nick Bilton we are told that there is a “Camp Grounded” in the Anderson Valley, distinguished by the absence of social media. (See campgrounded.org). Perhaps there is a similarity here to the AVA Editorial Offices, a/k/a “Camp Grumpy”?
Best, Ed Smith
LEILA HURST! — WORLD LEAGUE SURFER LEILA HURST IN FORT BRAGG
World League Pro-Surfer, Leila Hurst, in Fort Bragg, CA., today. Leila's sister, Sophia lives in Fort Bragg, and their mother is from Fort Bragg. (Photo by Susie de Castro)
CALTRANS PRESS RELEASE
Four years ago today, US Navy SEAL and Willits local Jesse Pittman was aboard a military Chinook CH-47 helicopter participating in a night raid to root out Taliban fighters in a village in Afghanistan when the helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade and crashed, claiming the lives of those aboard. Jesse was an absolutely indomitable and daring spirit. He served his community and the people of California as a CalFire firefighter in the Mendocino Unit for two seasons in 2003-2004, shortly before he decided to enlist in the Navy. Caltrans was contacted by members of the Pittman family, who asked if a part of the Willits Bypass could be dedicated to Jesse. We were honored to help them start the process of dedicating the viaduct segment of the Willits Bypass to Jesse's memory. Caltrans expects to open the Willits Bypass and the SO1 United States Navy (SEAL) Jesse D. Pittman Memorial Bridge to the public in the fall of 2016. Thank you for your service and sacrifice, Jesse.
MEMO OF THE DAY
“Patron Comment Form”
I just spoke to the branch manager here at the Rincon Valley Library. I raised a California Constitutional objection to the posting of a comment in the foyer area which by its placement gives the impression of government endorsement of religion - in this case an quotation attributed to a religious sectarian figure.
"IT IS BETTER TO LIGHT ONE SMALL CANDLE THAN TO CURSE THE DARKNESS” — Confucius
This and other religious based comments should not be given focal display at the entrance to a public facility. This is a slippery slope which would or lead to the possible posting of the Christian 10 commandments, the anti-intellectual Islamic State male supremacy, or even something like the Westborough baptist babblings. Religion and atheism at a public library belong in books on the shelf, not in a place of prominence.
In your response please give me the courtesy of replying to and including the entire text of this message. (There doesn't appear to be a way for me to use this form and have a copy sent to my email)
Please notify me of your decision in this matter within 10 business days.
Irv Sutley, Glen Ellen
* * *
Dear Mr. Sutley,
Thank you for writing us with your concerns. We appreciate your comments and feedback. Since you have already spoken with Jennifer Duran, Branch Manager at the Rincon Library, and would like further assistance, I will forward your message on to our Public Services Coordinator, Kiyo Okazaki. I am certain Kiyo will get back to you regarding your concerns as soon as possible. Again, thank you again for letting us know.
— Vandy / Central Library Reference
FORT BRAGG'S NIGHT OUT
The following press release was issued by the Fort Bragg Police Department @ 11:19 am this morning:
"On Tuesday, August 4th, neighborhoods throughout Fort Bragg were invited to join forces with thousands of communities nationwide for the '32nd Annual National Night Out' (NNO) crime and drug prevention event.
The Fort Bragg Police Department and Neighborhood Watch hosted this year’s celebration of National Night Out at Bainbridge Park. Support was received from the Sheriff’s Office and Fire Department for the event as well. Over one hundred and seventy-five community members, Police Officers, City officials and volunteers gathered in the park to celebrate the event with a BBQ hot dog dinner and root beer floats!
Children enjoyed games & crafts and were also able to get a close-up view of a Fire Truck and Police vehicles. Others enjoyed playing with Frisbees, playground balls and Nerf footballs. Emergency preparedness information was available from Neighborhood Watch.
The Fort Bragg Police Department would like to thank everyone who assisted with this year’s event. Special thanks to our local Neighborhood Watch groups and the Fort Bragg Public Works Department. With their help, National Night Out was once again an overwhelming success!
If you’re interested in getting involved in your local Neighborhood Watch contact the local coordinator, Judy Valadao, at firstname.lastname@example.org. "
PHOTOS--Newly-appointed Fort Bragg Police Chief, the affable & approachable Fabian Lizarraga, was on hand to greet citizens at the successful Fort Bragg "National Night Out" Tuesday in Bainbridge Park. A good time was had by all at this popular annual event.
FARM WORKERS STILL NEED OUR HELP — BADLY!
by Dick Meister
Don't be misled by the widespread acclaim for the United Farm Workers union and its late founder, Cesar Chavez. Although the union has made important gains, farm workers remain among the most mistreated of workers.
They still need the strong public support that led to creation of the UFW in 1962 and are seeking it in a newly launched fund-raising drive that highlights the serious health hazards facing farm workers and the UFW's attempts to combat them.
Union President Arturo Rodriguez notes that the health of farm workers --who regularly work in temperatures that reach 100 degrees and beyond -- is often at risk because of "dangerous working conditions, lack of access to adequate medical care and insurance and the callous indifference of their employers."
The union, as Rodriguez noted, has helped enact laws requiring employers to provide drinking water and worker training "on what to do if they're overheated or having symptoms of heat illness." The laws, however, are often ignored and many workers "are afraid to speak up, fearful they will lose their jobs or be disciplined."
Rodriguez cites the experience of farm worker Margarita Garcia at a Kern County farm last June.
The temperature was more than 100 degrees, she recalled, "and I felt I was overheating. I looked for shade, but there was none. There was only one jug of water available for the whole day for 40 thirsty workers."
Garcia's experience was not that unusual. Other workers tell, for instance, of "bosses providing umbrellas to shade grapes while leaving nearby workers to bake in the sun."
Exposure to blistering heat is only one of the great dangers farm workers face. Rodriguez notes, for example, the serious threat from pesticides and fertilizers. They often work in fields that have been sprayed with such poisons that cause nausea, vomiting and dizziness as well as severe heat rash and other skin problems.
As a matter of fact, notes Rodriguez, farm workers' exposure to heat and pesticides as well as on-the-job injuries "make agriculture one of the most dangerous jobs in America."
Many, it not most, grower employers seem downright indifferent to the workplace dangers and severe health problems of their workers.
Rodriguez cites sure evidence of that in the experience of several workers such as Delano vineyard worker Manuel Serrato. He recalled a pregnant co-worker who fell while picking grapes and "injured herself very bad. She was in so much pain that she was crying, but the company didn't want to send her to the doctor."
Serrato also recalled that at the beginning of the grape harvest last year, his wife Paula was bent over to pick up a tray full of grapes when she heard a loud "pop" followed by "back pain so severe she couldn't stand up."
She said "the foreman began to laugh at me and did not want to send me to the doctor." When Paula returned to work the next day, the foreman warned her he didn't want any more "problems", so told her to start working under a different name. She refused, and the foreman fired her.
Rodriguez also cites the experience of Reyes Flores Trujillo, who fell from the top of a ladder while pruning grape vines:
"I lost consciousness for about 15 minutes. When my coworkers saw that I wasn't moving, they picked me up and called an ambulance, but it never arrived."
Reyes finally got treatment, said Rodriguez, "but the accident had a devastating impact on his life." When he returned to work, Reyes said, "the foreman gave me a lot of pressure and said I didn't produce enough." But because of his injuries he couldn't produce more or find a job elsewhere.
The only important help available to Trujillo, as to other farm workers, is the United Farm Workers. Despite extremely heavy pressures from powerful anti-union corporate grower interests, the UFW has negotiated and continues to seek and enforce union contracts providing health insurance coverage to UFW members through the union's Robert F. Kennedy Farm Workers Medical Plan.
It's not that growers can't afford to pay for the decent coverage guaranteed by the union negotiated contracts. Farm income, which reached an estimated $108 billion last year, continues to grow at a record pace.
The UFW's need for increased public funding is also at record levels.
As UFW President Rodriguez says, "The lives and health of farm workers are at constant serious risk. TShey urgently need our help, and they need it now."
(Dick Meister, a San Francisco columnist, is co-author of "A Long Time Coming: The Struggle to Unionize America's farm workers" published by Macmillan. He can be reached at dickmeistersf @ earthlink.net.)