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Mendocino County Today: Sunday, Sep 6, 2015

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AT&T ISSUED THIS ANNOUNCEMENT on Friday: AT&T is offering up to a $10,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for an attempted copper theft near Ukiah. Vandals caused damage to a fiber line that affected service for some of our customers in northwest California on Thursday and into Friday morning. Tipsters can remain anonymous, so we encourage anyone with credible information to call AT&T Asset Protection at 1-800-807-4205. Tampering with phone networks is a violation of federal and state laws and we cooperate with law enforcement agencies to identify and punish offenders. This is a serious matter that affects public safety and the community at large.

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POSITIVE RECENT DEVELOPMENTS include an improvement in the heretofore newsless "news department" at KZYX. Valerie Kim and Lorraine Dechter are capable reporters who are getting the day's primary local events on the air. And, from hearing only bits and pieces, the Philo audio fortress seems marginally looser on allowing call-ins. Keep it up and we might yet have public radio.

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SUPERVISORS McCOWEN AND GJERDE recently voted not to renew the mental health contract with Ortner Management Group, the private company based in Yuba City to whom Mendocino County pays $7-8 million a year for chimerical mental health services while the rest of us witness a steady increase in crazy people on our streets. The two no votes seem to recognize the obvious — Ortner cherry picks his "clients" which, with an uncanny frequency, he then places in rehab contexts he just happens to own. (cf Fort Bragg's burgeoning Hospitality House complex.)

GJERDE pointed out that Redwood Children's Services, based in Ukiah, and also a recipient of big public money, provides "services" for people up to the age of 25, and they do it at an admin cost much cheaper than Ortner is charging. So, the implication is, why not pay Redwood Children's to lift the entire mental health admin load for Mendocino County?

THE REASON County Mental Health was half-privatized in the first place was that Mendocino County couldn't handle the billing for all the state and federal reimbursements. Ortner was supposed to know how to get that money more reliably than County employees had — although ironically the Ortner contract has a provision that requires County staff to train Ortner on MediCal billing. But the question remains: What are we getting in return?

THE BROADER QUESTION for years has been how effective are these programs, private or public? There's no way of telling because they all hide their purely self-alleged "concern" for the welfare of their funding units behind the confidentiality laws. The public has no way of knowing if a few people are actually getting retooled into full-function mode, or if these programs simply get as much public money as possible out of the unfortunates who wander into their cash registers prior to turning them loose on the streets. I'd bet if you surveyed our bush and underpass population you'd find that most of them have been in "the system" in one form or another all their lives. There's got to be better ways.

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THE FOLLOWING are fleshed out extracts from an appellate case involving a guy with Boonville roots named James Kester. Kester has spent about half his life in jails and prisons. I'll confess to an odd affection for him despite his legal history, and am writing about Kester here as yet another example of how badly represented Mendocino County is by its chief public defender. If we're going to fund the office it ought to at least be occupied by a competent person.

Kester, Blackshear
Kester, Blackshear

THE APPELLATE case begins: "A jury convicted defendant James Earl Kester of second degree murder for strangling Jason Blackshear of Fort Bragg. Kester claims that his trial counsel was ineffective for allowing the introduction of irrelevant and prejudicial statements during his taped interview with police and during his testimony at trial, for stipulating to the admission of the victim's declaration supporting a restraining order, and for failing to address key defenses in her closing argument… Although some tactical decisions of Kester's counsel appear to be objectively unreasonable, in light of his taped confession they caused him no conceivable prejudice...."

PUBLIC DEFENDER Thompson played Kester's confession for the jury and elicited from him on the stand all kinds of scary prison talk about his alleged involvement with prison gangs. The jury, I'm sure, sat there listening to Kester's cv in a state of semi-shock. (In person, Kester's a merry, irrepressible little guy, which makes his history all the more, well, disconcerting. He's a tough guy, to be sure, but in the circles he travels, he's got to be.)

KESTER rightly "argues that his trial counsel was ineffective because she elicited damaging information about him in her direct examination. Specifically, he says his prior convictions, his experiences on parole, his time in prison, and his tattoos should not have been explored before the jury. Many of these questions were necessitated by trial counsel’s decision to allow the full police interrogation to be played for the jury. If she had sought to redact the details of Kester's life behind bars, his experiences on parole and in prison, she would not have had to address these issues during Kester’s testimony.”

THE GUY'S on trial for strangling another violent tweeker, a manslaughter case. Obviously. But Thompson manages to parlay it into a murder conviction by putting Kester in the worst possible light. Which isn't hard to do, granted, but Thompson is supposed to be defending Kester on the specific facts of a violent encounter between two violent men, not poison the jury against Kester before she even gets to the matter he's on trial for.

KESTER argues that his trial counsel gave a “rambling unproductive closing argument.” (A Thompson specialty.) "Without any citation to authority, he argues it was reversible error for counsel to fail to argue for a verdict of manslaughter, properly explain the doctrine of imperfect self-defense, and explain the concept of reasonable doubt."

YES. Of course. Obviously.

"…IT IS TRUE that counsel, provided no 'roadmap' for the jury to evaluate the evidence and apply the law. She failed to discuss the elements of self-defense."

AND SELF-DEFENSE was Kester's entire defense, and his attorney didn't even bring it up!

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FROM THE AVA OF October 17, 2012…

ON MONDAY September 5th, 2011, people heard cries for help coming from a home on Babcock Lane, Fort Bragg, the last mortal sounds of a man named Jason Blackshear. James Kester, about 40 and recently of Boonville, has been arrested for Blackshear's murder, which has been subsequently described as a two-stage event with stage one consisting of Kester throttling Blackshear with his bare hands then finishing him off with a garrotte. The two were acquaintances. Kester is a veteran of the state prison system. (I remember Jimmy and his brothers as little kids in Boonville before, as I recall, the family moved to Point Arena. Pleasant little guys, and what a shock it is when a person one recalls as a child without sin suddenly reappears as an adult accused of the ultimate sin.)

THEN KESTER HIMSELF WROTE: “Please sir help me by posting my cry for help in the AVA for a few weeks to come as my life is in the hands of this county's judicial system and Linda Thompson. Thank you kindly. I am writing in regards to what the Mendocino County Sheriffs office has told you (I imagine). It says Jason cried for help. Wrong, ladies and gentlemen. I screamed for help after my ribs were caved in with a blunt instru­ment. During that fight for my life many times I thought: This is it. My life is over! As Jason would not stop. Linda Thompson is my attorney. I am fighting for my life still in a battle that I not only can't afford but lack the knowledge to defend myself. Please people of my hometown, help me. I need funds for a lawyer — any and all donations would help. Fair is fair. I'm asking for “any and all”! I am not a murderer as anyone who knows me knows and my family cannot afford the means for a private attorney. It took me over three weeks to get medical attention and x-rays. As for proof of my side of this, as of this day six witnesses have still not been inter­viewed, 25 days after the incident. I have a history of petty crime from my childhood days and to show anyone I had retired from that mischief it's been 11 years since my last felony. This past year I got myself off parole and had a job in the town of Mendocino. My biggest crime is “self-medication.” People see my ink from my past and condemn me. I'm grasping at straws. I could use some friends. I could use the community here in Mendocino where I grew up. Someone please put it on facebook or make it on a myspace-page. Donations have to be brought to 951 Low Gap Road in Ukiah. My birthday is 8-16-70. A# is 52817. Please folks, 5¢ or $5 for a good attorney who goes by our state laws and regulations. Even visits and letters are welcome. As moral support, love and under­standing helps too. I am still that pleasant little redhead. This system has taken my adult life. But I know and believe in the people of this county where I was raised. I need your friendship and prayers. I believe all of you folks can throw me a life raft or you could hold my head under water. I hope and pray I am not as alone as I feel right now. I have told authorities from the start exactly what happened during this nightmare. I have an exten­sive record for evading cops when I'm guilty. But I stayed right where it happened because I am not guilty of murder. I need sufficient support from you all to prove self-defense. My public defender, Linda Thompson, has spent a total of less than 10 minutes speaking to me. My preliminary hearing is set for October 4 and my defense is what you all are reading so far. Please help me! Sin­cerely, James Kester A#52817. 951 Low Gap Road. Ukiah, CA 95482

BRUCE McEWEN WROTE ON October 19, 2011: “In response to defendant James Kester's recent letter to the AVA with his side of the charges against him, Kester didn't tell the half of Jason Blackshear's story. For seven months I lived on the streets of Fort Bragg, and existed in constant concern and fear of the whereabouts and doings of Mr. Blackshear. One day, I came face to face with Aaron Bassler while trying to avoid Blackshear. Aaron stabbed his forefinger into my breastbone and said, “What are you doing here?”

“I work for a newspaper on Boonville.”

“Then you get over to Boonville and don't you come back.”

Which I did. I always go where I'm told.

As for you, Mr. Kester, do you remember the day you confronted me on the corner of Redwood and Franklin? Do you remember your words?

Nah, me neither.

Jason Blackshear was a low down, mean son of a biscuit, and hardly a tear will fall in his wake. But you, Jimmy, were no prince either.

Let me put it this way, bro: The Cottrells, old Onion Head and his brother, they got two birds with one stone — you and Jason — and they never had to lift a finger.”

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ON-LINE Press Democrat comment regarding the present state of the lower Russian River: "I think it's strange that a story a couple weeks ago or less
 in this very paper said that government wanted to clean up the Russian River water. What was really found in previous water samples? And why did the dog have to die…? Are they going to wait for people to start foaming at the mouth then convulsions then death! Irresponsible government only interested in capitalism, F the public.... Hey, don't listen to me enjoy your swim in the lower Russian River, Love Canal, this fine Labor Day. This has been a public service announcement."

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DEPARTMENT of unintentional irony, this exchange, as reported in this week’s Willits Weekly by Mike A'Dair re the blasphemous and about-to-be asphalt plant on Outlet Creek:

"At another time during the hearing, Komer asked Scaglione: 'In your authorization to construct you wrote you were issuing a permit for the new plant. Why did you write, ‘permit for a new plant’?”

“Because it is a new plant,” Scaglione said.

“This is of interest to me, so I'd like to ask you, in what sense is it a new plant?”

“In the sense that it was new,” Scaglione said."

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On Saturday, August 29, Fort Bragg police officers responded with lights and siren to the report of a 911 hang-up during which a female victim could be heard screaming for help. When officers were provided the address, they recognized it as belonging to the suspect who was currently wanted on a felony warrant out of Mendocino County. When officers reached the scene, they encountered a locked door to the community entrance to the apartment. Based on the limited information provided during the initial call, officers resorted to calling the suspect [Jaden Lundy] out of the residence using the loudspeaker on their patrol vehicle. The suspect complied with the officers’ commands and surrendered immediately. With the suspect detained, officers learned through statements made by the victim, that he had sexually fondled her breasts while she slept at his residence, and then proceeded to cover her nose and mouth when she attempted to scream for help. The female victim was able to escape and call 911 for help prior to the suspect again covering her nose and mouth to prevent her from speaking with police dispatch. Based on the above evidence, the suspect was arrested for Corporal Injury on a Cohabitant, False Imprisonment and Sexual Battery. He is currently being held at the Mendocino County Adult Detention Facility.

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AGENDA ITEM 4(m), Board of Supervisors Agenda, September 8, 2015:

Approval of Amendment to Board of Supervisors (BOS) Agreement No. 14-079 with Redwood Community Services Inc. (RCS), Increasing the Original Amount of $137,580 by $58,960 for a New Total Amount of $196,540 to Continue Providing Trauma Intervention Services in a Home-Like Setting for Mendocino County Foster Youth with Special Needs for Four Months from July 1, 2015 Through October 31, 2015

Summary Of Request: Approval of RCS’s Residentially-Based Services (RBS) program by the California Department of Social Services is expected in September 2015. Until it is approved and implemented, RCS is requesting (for an extended contract term of four months from July 1, 2015 – October 31, 2015), a rate increase to continue providing enhanced Trauma Intervention Services in a home-like setting for Mendocino County foster youth with special needs who would potentially be in a more restrictive residential facility or have multiple placements. RCS will provide Intensive Treatment foster homes with enhanced services including care managers, human service workers, youth advocates, individual rehab specialists and case managers who have received training in trauma informed care and working with youth with developmental disabilities. The main objective is to reduce the need for a higher level of care possibly outside of Mendocino County.

Recommended Action/Motion: Approve and authorize Chair to sign the amended Agreement with Redwood Community Services Inc., increasing the original amount of $137,580 by $58,960 for a new total of $196,540 to provide trauma intervention services for Mendocino County foster youth through October 31, 2015, and authorize the Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) Director to sign any future amendments to the Agreement that do not affect the annual maximum amount.

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Contractor shall provide the following services:

Redwood Community Services, Inc. agrees to provide enhanced Trauma Intervention Services in a home like setting or alternative setting for youth with special needs who would potentially be in a more restrictive residential facility or have potential for having multiple placements. Contractor will use Intensive Treatment Foster Homes or Regional Center Homes vendorized through Redwood Community Services, with enhanced services which includes, care managers, human service workers, youth advocates, individual rehab specialists, case managers who have received training in trauma informed care and working with youth with developmental disabilities. The model used would be based on the Katie A concept which provides the least restrictive living environment with a plan for working closely with Social Services and/or Regional Center, mental health and education where appropriate to develop a long term living plan.

Main Objective: Reduce need for a higher level of care possibly outside of Mendocino County. Develop clients’ internal controls which enable them to be safe in community settings as they develop boundaries without shame or blame.

Services to be provided by Redwood Community Services Foster Family Agency:

  1. To provide an intentional and trauma informed family milieu with the goal of intervening and meliorating the behavioral issues for the target population.
  2. 24/7 care and supervision through stay awake staff and/or foster parents.
  3. Daily and weekly treatment planning to coordinate and address clients’ significant barriers to integration into school, community in general and peer interactions.
  4. Daily planning is done by the home’s Program Coordinator, Rehabilitation specialist, Rehabilitation Services Program Manager and Case Managers.
  5. Weekly Intensive Care Coordination (ICC) meetings includes all direct service providers, HHSA/Family & Children’s Services Social Worker, RCS Case Managers, Therapists, Attorneys and others may be invited as deemed appropriate.
  6. Increased Case Management of Foster Family Agency (FFA) Social Worker
  7. 24 hour on-call program support in which staff will be at house within 15 minutes.
  8. Small staff to client ratio.
  9. Provide opportunities for community integration for youth as part of well-planned therapeutic and supervised activities.
  10. Use evidence based practices as well as “no shame or blame” responses to behaviors.
  11. Close linkage to youths’ psychiatrist and medication management when applicable.
  12. Services proposed by Redwood Community Services Behavioral Health Services will be billed through Early Periodic Screening Diagnosis & Treatment (EPSDT).
  13. All Specialty Mental Health Services will be designed with the child and family team and be coordinated by the Intensive Care Coordinator. Services will be implemented through shared client plans.

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AGENDA ITEM 4(q), Board of Supervisors Agenda, September 8, 2015:

Approval of Agreement with Doctor Jacqueline Benjamin in the Amount of $275,000 Annually/ $550,000 Total, to provide the Mendocino County Sheriff-Coroner’s Office with Forensic Pathology Services for the period of September 15, 2015, through September 14, 2017

The Board of Supervisors has approved agreements with forensic pathologists in the past to cover one of the primary duties of the Coroner’s Office, to conduct autopsies and consultation services to assist in determining the cause and manner of death, related to death investigation cases reported to the Coroner. Dr. Benjamin has been under contract with the County since 2013, and the Sheriff-Coroner’s Office has been satisfied with her services. In cases of apparent natural deaths, accidents, suicides, homicides and suspicious deaths, the Coroner’s Office is mandated by law to perform an investigation, which often includes a post-mortem examination by a licensed pathologist. Dr. Benjamin provides these services, along with consultation services to the Coroner’s Office. Dr. Benjamin’s charges are slighter higher in some areas and slightly lower in other areas, than her last contract. Due to the fluctuation of number of Coroner’s cases the total contract amount can only be estimated based on previous years. The Sheriff’s Office budgets for these services on a yearly basis based upon this estimation. It is not anticipated the changes in the fee schedule associated with this agreement will add significantly to yearly costs associated with these services. Approve Agreement with Doctor Jacqueline Benjamin in the amount of $275,000 annually/$550,000 total, to provide the Mendocino County Sheriff-Coroner’s Office with forensic pathology services for the period of September 15, 2015, through September 14, 2017, and authorize Chair to sign same.

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Dr. Jacqueline Benjamin is described in an on line profile as: “a pathologist in Los Angeles, California and is affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area, including Keck Medical Center of USC and Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center. She received her medical degree from University of California Irvine School of Medicine and has been in practice for 15 years. She is one of 48 doctors at Keck Medical Center of USC and one of 17 at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center who specialize in Pathology.”

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AGENDA ITEM 4(n), Board of Supervisors Agenda, September 8, 2015:

Agenda Title: Approval of Agreement with Redwood Community Services, Inc. in the Amount of $111,624, to Provide Wraparound Services in Fiscal Year 2015-16.

Summary Of Request: Wraparound services are designed to safely return youth in high-level group home care to their families and communities. The program operates at the county level, and referrals of eligible youth are initiated by Child Welfare & Adoptions and Probation.

Currently, a youth with an open Mendocino County Child Welfare Services case is transitioning from a group home to family in Lake County; therefore, Wraparound services for the child need to be administered through Lake County. Redwood Children’s Services is Lake County’s Wraparound provider and they are willing to provide services to the family enabling the child to transition.

Recommended Action/Motion: Approve and authorize Chair to sign Agreement with Redwood Community Services, Inc. in the amount of $111,624, to provide Wraparound Services in Fiscal Year 2015-16; and authorize the Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) Director to sign any future amendments to the Agreement that do not affect the annual maximum amount.

WAIT A MINUTE! Did we read that right? One “youth” is being “transitioned” to Lake County for almost $112,000? Surely, there are more “youths” that Redwood Community Services needs to “transition” to Lake County where it probably cost less to “wraparound” them.

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Have you tried to ask someone for directions lately? Most people don’t even seem to know where they are right now, never mind their nearby surroundings. Many are also so verbally challenged they are unable to come up with a coherent sentence to communicate what they don’t know.

They are totally dependent on and hypnotized by their magic tablets and if those stopped working they will be in a world of hurt. The main use of these devices seems to be to locate more food, alcohol and drugs.

I have a work i-phone and earlier this summer was using it’s map/verbal directions feature to navigate an 80 mile drive on the back roads, feeling very 21st Century. It directed me straight into a road closed sign where a landslide had covered the road. This must have happened 5-10 years ago as it was completely overgrown with brush and trees.

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Photo by Susie de Castro

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THERE IS NO MAP for the apocalypse, just historical guideposts full of paradoxes. We have been builders now we will be scavengers, patching together novel ecosystems that can rewild the world in the millennia it will take for earth’s fever to pass. However much we want to live in harmony in nature, we are doomed to dominate it. Not for profit, but for heritage. Preserving life will occur amid a never-ending funeral for vanishing species and entire biota. Acts of creation will be met by destruction. The corporations and governments that forced us into the wild will not change because of polite protests, social media, or voting. This logic is evident in the parched Western United States being ravaged by wildfires. This summer, Shell Oil, backed by the White House and protected by all manner of police, forced drilling rigs and supply vessels through waterborne blockades in Seattle and Portland. The vessels are now in the Arctic exploring for oil that once burned will turn up the global thermostat, dry out the land, and spark more wildfires. Yet oil is so plentiful there is no profit-making logic to drilling in and possibly poisoning one of the most pristine, distinct, and fragile ecosystems on the planet.

— Arun Gupta

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CATCH OF THE DAY, September 5, 2015

Burkey, Ferguson, Garman
Burkey, Ferguson, Garman


BRIAN FERGUSON, Ukiah. Drunk in public.

COREY GARMAN, Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation.

Hensley, Hernandez, Jaramillo
Hensley, Hernandez, Jaramillo

CHARLES HENSLEY, Ukiah. Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)


RAYMOND JARAMILLO, Talmage. Domestic battery, witness intimidation, possession/use of tear gas.

Kroll, McCoy, McWhinney
Kroll, McCoy, McWhinney

DAVID KROLL, Ukiah. Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)

KYLE MCCOY, Covelo. Drunk in public, vandalism.

ADRIAN McWHINNEY, Ukiah. Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)

Menton, Philleo, Reboca
Menton, Philleo, Reboca

MISKEL MENTON, Ukiah. Drunk in public.

DAVID PHILLEO, Scotts Valley/Ukiah. DUI.

DANIEL REBOCA, Ukiah. Domestic assault.

Sansom, Schuler, Thomas
Sansom, Schuler, Thomas

DANIEL SANSOM, Willits. Domestic battery, false crime report.

WILLIAM SCHULER, Redwood Valley. Domestic battery, probation revocation.

ALYSE THOMAS, Mendocino. Possession of controlled substance, failure to appear.

Valador, Viale, Wade
Valador, Viale, Wade

JERIMIAH VALADOR, Ukiah. Failure to appear.

ROBERT VIALE, Mendocino. Suspended license, failure to appear, probation revocation.

SCOTT WADE, Clearlake/Ukiah. Suspended license.

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by Ralph Nader

Among the hundreds of billionaires and megabillionaires in the U.S., there are more than several enlightened persons upset by the problems our society faces who could make serious improvements possible.

The next step is breaking down a roadblock of sorts. A prominent, very rich businessman summed it up when he said to me: “Ralph, we all know how to make a lot of money but we don’t have a clue as to what to do with it, including me.” It is not as if these super-wealthy are contemplating their navels. Many do give away lots of money but wonder if their giving is a stop-gap measure, while others refrain from donating unless they can be assured that their philanthropic investments are likely to deliver results.

It helps to make a distinction between charity and justice – both noble causes worthy of donations. Charity ministers to the immediate, often desperate needs of vulnerable populations. Charities support soup kitchens, clinics, renovate or build educational buildings, add services for the elderly, provide medicines for the poor here and in developing countries, help local school systems under budget restraints, and quickly respond to tragedies with disaster relief here and abroad. All of these causes are worthwhile (when these services and donations reach the appropriate recipients).

Justice directly confronts the challenge of preventing people from ending up in vulnerable situations. What causes over 15 million children in the U.S. to go to bed hungry each night? Why don’t we have universal public health care? Why aren’t public colleges and universities tuition-free like high schools in the U.S. and most western European countries? Why are our public works crumbling and creating unnecessary obstructions for disaster relief (reaching people stranded after hurricanes)?

Will charity ever begin to catch up with the consequences from corruption, self-preserving bureaucracies, man-made environmental damages, and governments indentured to avaricious special interests and concentrated corporate power? Not a chance.

It is advocacy promoting justice that seeks the prevention of the causes that lead to so much misery, institutional harm, poverty, and the loss of human life and potential. Repairing the wreckage of wars places huge demands on charity. Waging peace and negotiating arms control agreements places huge demands on justice.

Last fall, I proposed “Birth-Year Gifts to America,” which the very wealthy could jumpstart with other Americans around the country. So, for example, people in the birth-year of 1930 or 1935 or 1937 would organize to support and endow a self-renewing nonprofit, civic institution so as to improve the quality of life of future generations.

The steel magnate Andrew Carnegie’s philanthropy created many organizations, including the Carnegie Institution for Science, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the Carnegie Corporation of New York (a major foundation dedicated to the advancement of science). His most memorable gift was funding the establishment of over 2,500 free libraries in as many communities throughout the country. He insisted, however, that the localities provide the land to give themselves a stake. Talk about a legacy!

In my proposal, I suggested twenty-five such enduring ideas, which could be gifted to our country, that cover a large range of needed improvements in our society. Birth-years for people seventy to ninety years in age have thousands of people of means who, whether they are religious or not, really do not believe that they can take it with them.

You can view the entire list, which may stimulate you own birth-year project nationally, regionally, or locally, that advocates for justice through systemic creations or improvements of institutions at or write to PO Box 19367, Washington, D.C. 20036 for a copy of the list.

Bringing together the billionaires who want to get things moving for a weekend roundtable could kickstart a new approach to meaningful and creative philanthropy. We would be pleased to host such a historic, serious deliberation to escalate informed wishes into actions.

Most progressives express disbelief that the very wealthy would ever support fundamental changes that would shift the power from the hands of the few to the hands of the many and create a much more equitable and prosperous society. We could have a culture that focuses on prevention of problems through justice and not just reacts to the disasters and inequality caused by such problems through charity. A cynical view ignores that having the backing of majority public opinion, coupled with the financial support of the wealthy, can produce positive results. (I strove to detail this potential in my book “Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!” – a work of realistic political fiction.)

Nearly a century ago, the brilliant philosopher/mathematician Alfred North Whitehead declared that: “A great society is a society in which its men of business think greatly of their functions.” Today, those heeding the vision of Senator Daniel Webster, who, before the Civil War, said: “Justice, Sir, is the great interest of man on Earth,” will surprise their peers by moving from success to significance. They can begin this transition by connecting with advocates who have decades-long experience in seeking justice under dire conditions, with some success.

There are examples of the wealthy contributing to longstanding progressive improvements in society. There were wealthy philanthropists who funded many activities focused on the abolition of slavery and obtaining universal suffrage for women. The Civil Rights Movement received substantial financial backing from a handful of very rich families. In addition, numerous environmental groups today are reaping the benefits of wealthy supporters.

Now, with more wealthy individuals and families than ever, the funding of both charity andjustice has become more feasible.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!

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by Dick Meister

Labor Day. Time again for politicians and union adherents to praise organized labor. Time again for others to pontificate about the supposed decline and growing irrelevance of unions as they continue to lose members and continue to argue among themselves over the future direction of the labor movement.

Time again for most other people to ignore the Labor Day messages as we mark the end of summer with yet another three-day weekend.

The general public indifference is understandable. After all, less than 15 percent of the country's working people are in unions these days.

But even if you are not a union member — even if you do not approve of unions — consider this while you're enjoying the long Labor Day holiday: There wouldn't be any three-day weekends if it wasn't for those unions. None.

If unions hadn't done what they did — and continue to do — it's highly unlikely that anyone outside the executive ranks would be getting a paid holiday on Labor Day, or on any other day. (Or even, of course, that there would be such a holiday as Labor Day.)

Nor is it likely that those who are required to work on such holidays would be getting the pay of two to three times their regular rate that unions have made the standard for holiday work in most areas — or get premium pay for any other work, at any other time.

Holidays meant very little to most working people in the days before unions became effective. They meant only an unwelcome day off and loss of a day's pay or, at best, a day of work at regular wages.

Those were the days when unions still were struggling primarily for nothing more than legal recognition. It wasn't until World War II that unions were able to go beyond the fundamentals and make negotiation of paid holidays a common practice, a concession employers made in lieu of the pay raises federal wage controls prohibited during the war.

The paid vacations so many working people took as usual this summer also were very rare until unions demanded and won them. So were employer-financed pensions and medical care and other fringe benefits, health and safety standards, job security and other things now commonly granted most workers, union and non-union alike.

Thus without unions, we should not forget, there would be no paid holidays for most people, no premium or overtime pay, no paid vacations, few fringe benefits and little protection against job-related hazards and arbitrary dismissal.

Without unions, as a matter of fact, the standard work day might very well still be 10 to 12 hours, the standard work week six to seven days, and working people would have few of the rights so many now take for granted. That includes the overriding right of having a genuine voice in determining their pay and working conditions.

You doubt it? Consider the remembrances of Mark Hawkins, who worked in the warehouses along San Francisco's busy waterfront in the 1930s, before the coming of effective unionization.

Hawkins remembered men wrestling with crates, bundles, cartons, merchandise in all sizes, shapes and weights, 10 hours a day, often every day of the week, for a mere $60 a month. They worked as many hours on as many days as the boss demanded, at whatever pay he offered, lest they be replaced by others clamoring for jobs in those dark days of the Great Depression.

Hawkins especially remembered a fellow worker who failed to raise his hand one Saturday when the boss made his usual Saturday afternoon request for "volunteers" to work Sunday. The reluctant warehouseman pleaded that his wife, undergoing a complicated pregnancy, was seriously ill and would need him at home to comfort her.

"Okay," said the boss — "but don't you think she'll feel even worse if you have to tell her you don't have a job anymore?"

The man worked that Sunday. When he got home, his wife was dead.

Few of today's employers would even consider acting in such a manner, given the firm standing gained for all workers by the country's now solidly entrenched unions. That alone is more than enough reason to honor organized labor on the holiday it won for us all.

Copyright © 2015 Dick Meister,a longtime San Francisco labor journalist (

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Cannabis: A $5 Billion Industry In Mendocino

In spite of some supervisors’ inability to recognize the benefits of cannabis cultivation, the truth is that cannabis farming has been the economic backbone of the county since the lumber industry was curtailed due to its longterm ecologic degradation of local forests.

In 2010 a Mendocino County Grand Jury questioned the sheriff about the number of marijuana plants in the county. He testified that he had eradicated 541,000 plants in 2009 and estimated that was 10% of the total number. According to this testimony then, there were over 5,000,000 million cannabis plants in the county in 2009. If we assume that each plant yields one pound (to use a low-ball number), and that the wholesale price is $1000 a pound (another low-ball number), we get 5 million pounds of flowers at $1000, which equals $5 billion dollars!

How does cannabis revenue compare to other crops? According the the Mendocino Economic report for 2014 the highest earning agricultural crop in the county was wine grapes, bringing in $103,000,000. That’s one hundred three million dollars. Total revenue from agriculture and timber combined in 2008 was about $148,000,000.

Cannabis wholesale flowers generate 50 times the revenue of grapes, but they aren’t even listed in the Mendocino Economic Report. Who’s kidding who here?

Further economic benefit derives from the several dispensaries in the county, which provide essential medicine in many forms to numerous patients, many from out of county. These Dispensaries provide jobs and pay taxes. Also sold in dispensaries and in the open market as well, are seedling starts, clone starts and seeds.

Where is all this money???

Cannabis growers, by and large, live in the county. Most of this billions of revenue gets spent in Mendocino on food, clothing, mortgages and rents, vehicles, building materials, household goods and myriad other consumer items, as well as all the materials needed to grow cannabis purchased from the nurseries. Every shop keeper, supermarket, construction company, nursery owner and auto dealer owes their profit margin to cannabis growers’ consumer prowess.

Real estate values in the County are directly tied to the cannabis industry and to water availability. While higher real estate values due to cannabis cultivation may prohibit some low income buyers from living here, the resulting higher taxes support the schools, maintain the roads and pay for other county services.

To complete the estimate of the positive economic effects of cannabis farming, one must consider the jobs it creates. Growing cannabis is labor intensive. In canvassing numerous farmers, it is estimated that for every 100 plants grown, at an absolute minimum, one farm laborer is necessary.

The greatest demand is in April-May for soil preparation and in Sept through November for harvest. If the total number of plants in Mendocino is five million, then there would be 50,000 workers.

Impossible, you say! The whole population of the county is only 89,000 according to the 2010 census. The Mendocino Economic Report states that the entire (that is, non-cannabis) county labor force in 2009 was 43,450. A careful analysis of this report reveals that sixty percent of those jobs are in services. Job numbers do not accurately reflect population numbers because one person can have two or even three jobs. Cannabis alone employs more people than all other entities in the county put together!

This work entails such jobs as fence building, turning the soil, planting cover crops, harvesting and composting same, starting seeds or making clones, transplanting several times, erecting trellises, fertilizing, watering, yellow leafing, harvesting, hanging, bucking, trimming (the most labor intensive), bagging, weighing, storing, transporting and selling. The average pay is between $15 and $20 dollars an hour, way above minimum wage.

Clearly many of these cannabis workers are family members, many are local and work other jobs in the off season, but many come from elsewhere. They are called “Trimmigrants”, and they do come from all over the world in September and October to trim cannabis. These people are “seasonal migrant workers”, who appear on no census but flood the county every summer and autumn to produce 5 million pounds of flowers. The Emerald Triangle is world famous for cannabis cultivation!

Cannabis farming in Mendocino County dwarfs all other agricultural pursuits in jobs created and revenue produced, while using the least water. Even if there are only 1 million plants, that still produces 1 billion dollars annually and provides at least 10,000 jobs.

No matter what the actual numbers really are (and these estimates, beginning with government numbers, are admittedly hard to believe), it is abundantly clear that the economic prosperity of Mendocino County is dependent on the health of the cannabis industry. It is incumbent upon the government powers that be, on the county, state and federal level, to protect the livelihood of the small heritage specialty cultivator of cannabis flowers or watch the counties of the Emerald Triangle slip into economic depression. Otherwise, big tobacco and big Pharma will steal our livelihood and bankrupt the county.

We can embrace this change and see in it an opportunity to encourage small scale organic cultivation of high quality organic sungrown connoisseur cannabis farming in harmony with the environment and at the same time continue the prosperity of Nor Cal, through developing Canna-tourism and retail outlets. By regulating these farms as agriculture, water use can be permitted, environmental abuse can be reduced and zoning laws observed. Most of all, we must recognize the contribution that cannabis has made and continues to make to our county, our culture, our country and to respect all the people who use cannabis medically and inspirationally.


Swami Chaitanya

Member MCPC and EGA



  1. BB Grace September 6, 2015

    Re: Swami Chaitanya,

    Big Pharma invests far more into Mendocino County, through multible privatized health/medical/social services than the chimerical cannabis establishment. Big Pharma and Big Council-management government appreciate your contribution to their collection of self serving services and programs that establish a class race through rackets to spin the “trimmigrants” (sic) you attract and disppose of, into processing centers that cost taxpayers of Mendocino County million$ only to find your marijuana farm workers dumped under a bridge to be arrested or recycled.

    Why didn’t cannabis take over the Old Coast Hotel with medible dining, wellness, hospice rooms, social services for cannabis culture if Cannabis is all you say it is? Mendocino County didn’t even touch the box the state provided for marijuana culture in the Culture Competency Plan as if you don’t exist.

    How many marijuana migrant farm workers have been prescribed medication for mental health or been through jail?

    You’re all sweet talk Swami, wonderful illusions, really wonderful, but the reality is right now all you really are is a useful cog to Big Pharma which thanks you for your service providing domestic undocumented workers into public services you would be providing if you were all you claim.

    Maybe cannabis should start taking care of it’s migrant farm workers and keep them from under bridges and out of jail?

    Cannabis tourist industry translation: Providing “trimmigrants” to the BIG Pharma social services machine, and then dumped under a bridge and arrested or recycled.

    Where’s the cannabis soup kitchen? Where’s the rockmed? Where’s the public services now being granted to Mendocino from Big Pharma?

    The way I see it Swami, Mendocino County taxpayers pay way more taxes for way more services and government then they would need if Mendocino County didn’t have to support your migrant farm workers.

    When you see “homeless” think of your people and what they are going through:

  2. james marmon September 6, 2015

    Regarding RCS.

    The Board of Supervisors really need to pay attention to all these contracts and money transfers to RCS. Bryan Lowery and Camille Schaeder have been friends for years. Their friendship goes all the way back to when they worked together at Trinity Group Home.

    Camille Schraeder is Lowery’s puppet master. She pulls the strings and he dances. The other stakeholders know this but don’t speak out in fear of losing their place at the trough.

  3. Eric Wilcox September 6, 2015

    Leaving adult mental health to Redwood Children’s Services would be a mistake. RCS was fired by OMG when they ran mental health crisis rather soon after it all went privatized. Nobody is going to bill Medi-Cal more efficiently than the county. Medi-Cal is a quagmire of bureaucracy designed by politicians to disenfranchise the poor and keep them disenfranchised. Only the county knows how to work the billing most efficiently, its just that Medi-Cal is designed to not be billed successfully. Private insurance doesn’t have these issues.

    • james marmon September 6, 2015

      The County needs to hold back on giving more money to RCS until after the next state audit. We need to see just how good they are at billing.

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