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Mendocino County Today: Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016

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by J. Stephen McLaughlin

(Repost with case documents)

A dispute over real estate that was co-owned by Sheryl Lyn Smith and her former partner of nine years led to the arrest of Smith and her friend Doug Burkey, both of Point Arena, Smith told the ICO on Tuesday. Smith said they were completely surprised when they were arrested in Point Arena August 20 on a Sonoma County warrant. They were still in custody when the ICO went to press last week and were released on Friday. Smith said the charges stem from an agreement she made four years ago over the Timber Cove property jointly owned with her former partner when the two parted ways. He died two months after that and his family is disputing the agreement, she said. Burkey's involvement was as her "new friend and neighbor," Smith said, who "offered himself as a buffer in our negotiations." She added, "As they say, 'no good deed goes unpunished'."

Brian Staebell of the Sonoma District Attorney's Office said Smith and Burkey will be in court on Friday, September 9 to enter pleas and set a trial date. As to the legal case, Smith said, "We expect to be vindicated by the court — but that doesn't make up for the humiliation of being arrested."

Even so, Smith had one positive take on the experience. "We had the opportunity to meet new resident Deputy Robert Julian Jr. and see him in action. He handled the situation very professionally and was considerate. I'm glad he is part of our community." She added that the arrest was in stark contrast to the conditions they found in jail in Ukiah. Smith, who had just filed her candidacy in a five-person race for three seats on the Point Arena City Council said she would withdraw from the race although it is too late to remove her name from the ballot. "I'll vote for Jonathan Torrez, Richie Wasserman and Scott Igancio," she said.

(Courtesy, Independent Coast Observer.)

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Document 1 – Grant deed with LaVenter granting Smith interest in his property. Recorded 6-23-05

Documents 2 & 3 – Short form deed of trust etc. with Smith granting Burkey her interest in the above property. This doc is real snaky. It's dated Feb. 12, 2012 but not notarized until June 7, 2012 and then not recorded until June 29, 2012. According to the ICO Smith and LaVenter split up a couple of months before he was found dead. Smith deeded the property to Burkey months before LaVenter died.

Document 4 – A quit claim deed with Smith quitting her claim to the property to LaVenter, (the property she had deeded to Burkey months earlier) for a "valuable consideration". Recorded 8-30-12.

Document 5 – Notice of Action against Smith and Burkey (“Complaint for Fraud/Deceipt and Fraudulent Transfer”) saying Burkey has no interest in the property and no right to force sale of it. Recorded 6-12-13

Document 6 – Notice of Action similar to the other one. Recorded 11-12-13.

Mr. LaVenter's death certificate shows the date of death as 11/29/2012. Mr. LaVenter was a waste water engineer. Place of death: “Wooded creek area behind 22147 Hwy 1.” Cause of Death: “under investigation.” Subsquent amendments/corrections to the Death Certificate show the cause of death as “undetermined” and “could not be determined.”

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The dates on the documents show that Smith and Burkey have known about this case and the questions and disputes about the estate and ownership for a long time. They have had over two years to straighten this out.

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ADD TO THE LONG LIST of things I didn't know — Vince DiMaggio is buried in the Fort Bragg Cemetery. Vince, sponsored by the Union Lumber Company, was one of several ringers recruited to play for Fort Bragg's excellent semi-pro town team whose weekend games from the 1920s through the early 1960s drew hundreds of fans. They played the very best team from the Bay Area every summer weekend. Vince and his wife also owned a place at Ten Mile. (A tip of the hat to Judy Valadao for the information.)


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POINT ARENA CAN'T PLAY. Friday night's football game between Anderson Valley and Point Arena has been cancelled. PA does not have enough eligible players.

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Members of Citizens for Appropriate Land Use (CACLU) ask you to attend the Environmental Impact Report public scoping session Monday, September 19, 2016 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm at Fort Bragg Town Hall on Main Street in Fort Bragg. Please come prepared to speak and submit your comments in writing. To be sure of a good seat 5:30 pm arrival is suggested.

The Hare Creek Center is a proposed new shopping center located at the gateway to Fort Bragg (corner of Hwy 1 and Hwy 20) across from the Boatyard shopping center to the west of Hwy 1. It is to be anchored by a Grocery Outlet with 99 parking spaces and access roads.

At the scoping session you will meet the City’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR) consultant; learn about the EIR and permitting process and opportunities for public input; identify potential environmental impacts that should be studied in the EIR as well as discuss and suggest project alternatives to be considered in the EIR.

Currently, the Hare Creek Center project is proposed to entail three separate buildings totaling 29,500 sq. ft. The proposed revised project's footprint is somewhat narrower than the project submitted in January of 2015. Concerns expressed by City Council members, the Coastal Commission and others about the partial removal of Todd Point hill sent the project back for revision. This strip mall still impinges on the eastern side of the hill. The new lot line adjustment shows the revised project to be larger (3.92 acres vs. 3.16 acres) and extend further to the south than the previous design.

The public comment period to determine the scope of the EIR will extend through October 19, 2016.

More information:

— Annemarie Weibel (707) 937-5575;

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Community Church Service, September 18th 2016, 8:30 AM

Apple Hall Auditorium, next to the Fair Office

Pastor Dave Kooyers from Valley Bible Fellowship will present: "Why Does The Gospel Of John Not Use The Word 'Pray'?"

Free admission/Everyone Welcome

Please come and worship with us, and then enjoy the fair for the rest of the day.

For additional information please feel free to call Pastor Dave Kooyers, (707) 895-2325, or the Fair Office at (707) 895-3011, or visit their website at

10:00 am Sheep Dog Trials, Finals - Rodeo Arena

2:00 pm CCPRA Rodeo Finals - Rodeo Arena

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Citizens Act After Kenneth W. Fisher Jr. Killed At Blue Mound Intersection; Demand Changes


As you cover local news, I'm sharing the public's outcry re justice for the death of Kenneth W. Fisher Jr.

Citizens are demanding action because :

Charles Wallace Reynolds is a danger to the community. He has a history of violence before this act that killed Kenneth. They want to make sure there is justice served in the form of no plea bargain + a charge nothing short of manslaughter.

A petition has been started demanding for action:

The goal: Make sure the suspect gets a minimum of manslaughter.

Important Dates :

9/7/16 at 1:30 - Pre-preliminary hearing

9/14/16 at 1:30 - Pre-preliminary hearing

(Location Mendocino County Courthouse, 100 North State Street, Ukiah)

How? Getting awareness/signatures on this online petition to raise awareness.

Allison Evelyn Gower, La Jolla

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HOW SOON WE FORGET (Blast from the Past, AVA, June 25, 2008)

The District Attorney’s Budget

by Mark Scaramella

Supervisor David Colfax began the DA’s budget discussion by declaring, “I will not support this budget unless this is addressed. It seems the District Attorney had a difficult time taking into account things brought to us a year ago. More marijuana or domestic violence cases. The District Attorney is supposed to manage the status quo budget to deal with those. There’s no case management system in place. The District Attorney and Public Defender have had a year to work this up. It was a key element in the Board’s decision to increase the salaries of the public attorneys. The fact that it’s not implemented I take as serious sign of failure for whatever reasons. It’s distasteful that marijuana issues manage to sneak into this discussion when Measure G is still in place with its terminology and whatever agenda may be out there. [This was before Measure B was declared passed] … If I don't see a change in public attorneys jobs, I will not support this budget. This is what I consider to be a very significant dismissal of what this board dealt with and wrestled with it and even got down and dirty in a mud fight with some of this stuff. [Mockingly] Ok, we got our raise. Ho-hum, we're going on. Marijuana… Domestic violence? That's a good one, you can't knock domestic violence cases. But don't invoke it to justify the failure to come forward with what you were directed by this board to do. I don't like that. It reeks of opportunism.”

CEO Mitchell defended his budget: “We take that very seriously and we did have discussions with various organizations. What effort will they deliver, who we arrest, who we charge, who we prosecute — it eventually affects all of our costs. We have significant work to do in the law enforcement arena. They have gone from $29 million in net county cost up to $31 million.”

Assistant CEO Alison Glassey agreed. “We have worked with the current DA and we understand where the costs come from. We agree with her estimates and projections.”

DA Lintott denied making any such promises, saying that some attorneys (who no one would name) may have led some Supervisors to think there were too many attorneys for the County’s caseload. Lintott told the Supes that “the union went on strike to gain money. They probably would certainly want to say things that would lead to getting more money from the County. But it did not come from me.”

Lintott insisted the DA’s caseload has been “closely examined,” and “We need all we have and more. … We did not keep track of any hours. We have not done time studies. Time studies would bring the office to a standstill. It’s not like private practice. No office can do that. I started two DAs short, and ended with three DAs short. We have had more sick leave, and more problems and case preparation suffers. We have 16 attorneys and the Public Defender has 16 attorneys. We are finally staffed with the right attorneys in the right courtrooms. Big marijuana cases are time suckers that take two or three years to get to trial or settlement. Those have high powered private attorneys. So we are below what we need to provide what we want to provide. Big trials involve big private attorneys. Sex cases also involve private attorneys. … We are woefully underpaid. We are bleeding attorneys to Sonoma County and everywhere else. We need to come in asking for more attorneys.”

In fact, there are only one or two “big” marijuana cases a year and they certainly shouldn't take two or three years to wrap up, nor do such cases require full-time work unless the attorneys working on them are retarded.

Wattenburger chimed in. “I brought this up first. So throw the knives and arrows at me. [Wattenburger continued to have a very rough metaphor day, shooting knives and slinging arrows that didn't hit anything, least of all him.] This attorney, and I will not identify him, he said we have too many attorneys, and [the DA’s office] could be doing with less and we all deserve a pay raise. So they requested a raise from this board because there could be less attorneys. It’s simple, he said. This will benefit you and us and the public. It’s been a year now. Where are we on that?”

Lintott said that when she mentioned the possibility of a time study in her office, “It was met with outrage.” … “I don’t know of any other place where this is required. It’s not our intent to make big bucks. If so, we ask them to please leave. It’s laborious keeping track, too time consuming. How do you bill out your time if a witness is having an anxiety attack?” … “It’s not fair for you to make us do what nobody else in entire state does for public attorneys.”

Supervisor Pinches wanted to move things along. “It was an extreme salary increase,” said Pinches. “Maybe it was justified. Maybe someone said you had too many attorneys. Now you’re elected and you come in on or under budget. We need to move along. The DA's budget is not a problem this year.”

But Colfax wasn’t satisfied. “I have heartburn. All County employees make sacrifices. Your special pleading doesn't play well. Certain individuals talked to us outside of the closed sessions when we discussed these items. Part of the discussion was whether there would be enough cuts to justify the large salary increases. That was a key role in our response. If DAs make representations to cloud the mind, then maybe they should not be in our employ.”

Lintott repeated herself. “That was all before my time. If I had the name and they admit it that would be grounds for termination. But it’s not an option now.”

Supervisor Mike Delbar seemed ready to compromise. “This is night and day better than in the past,” said Delbar. “It’s a huge difference. So don't misconstrue. But we had those conversations and it was said by more than one of the attorneys. I’m still looking for time studies. Time studies will not shut down the department. You should document your time, then you can justify more if needed. But I was told that an attorney went out to Mervyn’s and came back with their bags of goodies in the middle of the afternoon.”

Lintott defended that too. “I’ve told them that people are watching when you go for coffee or to Mervyn's. Maybe they were in (the office) all day Sunday. Who knows? We have a very contentious group of smart attorneys who are still paid below market, and they were seeking a big raise.”

Delbar didn’t buy that. “I'd almost say that's not a true statement. But I need to know information to make decisions. If some made an intentional misrepresentations then they should find other employment. I am concerned about the information we got. We need your help.”

Lintott: “How can I do that when no one will identify the attorney? I can't do that.”

CEO Mitchell tried to calm things down. “You are just airing past differences. There’s a sense of betrayal on behalf of the team who negotiated with the DA's office. Promises of achievements were made, but that’s water under bridge. It becomes he said — she said. We could spend days on murder cases. They’re all different. You need to look at the overall workload. We need to look at who law enforcement is arresting.”

The discussion of the DA’s budget ended there with nothing resolved, nothing decided, no commitments made. Which is where most discussions end at supervisor's meetings.

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Before putting my copy back on the shelf, I scanned in the perfect cover that Milton Glazer designed for "If you have a lemon, make lemonade." I'd always assumed the title referred to the transformation of Ramparts from a tepid quarterly for liberal Catholic intellectuals into a glossy antiwar monthly aimed at the mass market. Warren attributed the saying to the San Francisco ad man Howard Gossage, a friend and mentor for whom he had a special affinity. Was it because of how they handled their disabilities? Gossage stuttered and Hinckle wore an eyepatch.


I found myself wondering what Warren was like before the auto accident that cost him an eye at age 10. A slender boy at a parochial school in West Portal — was he already on his way to being a flamboyant personality? Maybe after the accident Warren figured, subconsciously, "Well if people are going to notice me, I'll let the world know I'm trying to be noticed." In early middle age he added another unmissable personal trademark: the basset hound he brought with him to eateries and other places where dogs weren't allowed except by special dispensation. His first basset was named Bentley. The last, named Toby, was a pallbearer — along with offspring and in-laws — at Warren's mass of Christian burial.

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From The Humco Sheriff's Department:

"On Sunday, September 4, at approximately 11:30 a.m. the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received a report from the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO) regarding a double homicide. Deputies responded to the incident location, a residence on US Forest Service Road 3N14 South Fork Mountain in Hyampom. Deputies met with TCSO Deputies and were told two male adults were deceased in the residence. Deputies located several living structures and large marijuana grow sites throughout the property. HCSO Detectives responded to investigate the homicides.

The investigation at this time indicates multiple assailants. Additional suspect information will be released accordingly.

The Drug Enforcement Unit obtained a search warrant for the marijuana grows on site. The search warrant was served and revealed another marijuana grow on a neighboring property. A search warrant was obtained for the neighboring property and served on Monday, September 5th.

Autopsies will be performed on Tuesday, September 6th. Names of the victims will be released after next of kin has been notified.

The investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case is encouraged to call Detective Peterson at 707-268-3663 or the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251."

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We saw the following on the MCNlistserv Monday @ 8:22 pm:

"This news recently came from Alden Olmsted, the son of Environmentalist John Olmsted, who's organization (Calif. Institute of Man In Nature) was able to stop developers from building a large hotel complex on the south bluff of Jug Handle Creek. Alden also prevented the State from closing many of our State Parks in 2012


'John Olmsted interpretive kiosk:

Hard to believe but for 40 years there's been no mention of John Olmsted at Jug Handle (!!!) and the efforts of a handful of dedicated grassroots activists to save it.

This will finally change - a new interpretive panel - 'Stopped in its tracks!' - designed by Erica Fielder and myself and built by my friend Matt in Oakland will be installed and dedicated this Wednesday - in time to enjoy the National Park Service visit and Pygmy dedication.

Alden Olmsted'

The sign will be installed near Jug Handle State Natural Reserve parking lot, 1 mile North of Caspar on Highway 1, this Wednesday, Sept. 7 between 5:00 and 6:00 pm.

Thursday morning Sept. 8th at 9:00 am will feature a visit by the National Park Service, Natural Landmark Division Coordinator Laurie Jenkins."

(Courtesy, MendocinoSportsPlus)

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CATCH OF THE DAY, September 6, 2016

LEONARD BROWN SR., Covelo. Unspecified Fish and Game offense. (Photo not available.)

Cortina, Denevi, Kinkha, Etherton
Cortina, Denevi, Kinkha, Etherton

CHRISTOPHER CORTINA, Ukiah. Probation violation.

JEREMY DENEVI, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public, probation revocation.

STEVEN DINKHA, Ukiah. Domestic assault, probation revocation.

RYAN ETHERTON, Ukiah. Domestic battery, protective order violation, probation revocation.

Gahm, Piceno, Richman
Gahm, Piceno, Richman

ARNOLD GAHM, Ukiah. Grand theft.

SOPHIA PICENO, Talmage. Domestic assault.

MEGAN RICHMAN, Fort Bragg. Drug possession for sale, sale, armed with firearm, conspiracy.

Sanchez, Wilson, Yakimo
Sanchez, Wilson, Yakimo

DANIEL SANCHEZ, Ukiah. Drug possession for sale, sale, armed with firearm, conspiracy, probation revocation.

SHANNON WILSON, Redding/Willits. DUI.

CHRISTINA YAKIMO, Ukiah. Failure to appear.

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Damin Pashilk was tracked for more than a year using GPS, surveillance cameras and old-fashioned detective work, according to a summary of the investigation. Could Clayton fire in Lake County have been prevented?

by Derek Moore

As the destructive Clayton fire sprang to life Aug. 13 in a field of dry grass south of Lower Lake, state fire investigators had already zeroed in on an arson suspect, a 40-year-old Clearlake handyman they had been tracking for the better part of two summers.

Damin Pashilk had been on investigators’ radar for more than a year, his movements tracked using GPS technology, surveillance cameras and old-fashioned undercover sleuthing. His whereabouts and actions had linked him to 11 roadside blazes prior to the Clayton inferno that leveled much of Lower Lake.

On one night in August last year, investigators had even observed Pashilk admiring a fire he allegedly set near his home.

The new details are outlined in an in-depth nine-page summary of the arson investigation Cal Fire officials presented to Lake County prosecutors as a guide for bringing criminal charges against Pashilk.

The document offers rare insight into the modern-day methods investigators use to track arson suspects. It also raises questions about the timing of Pashilk’s arrest, and ultimately, whether the Clayton fire might have been prevented in the first place.

“People are going to wonder what would have happened had they arrested him sooner,” said Lake County Supervisor Rob Brown, who has played a central role in recovery efforts in fire-ravaged communities across southern Lake County. “It’s easy to second guess that now.”

Pashilk, who is in jail on $5 million bail awaiting a Wednesday court date to enter a plea, is accused of lighting a dozen blazes in the county dating back to July 2015.

The Clayton fire, the largest and most destructive of those blazes, torched 300 structures, including 180 homes, and forced the evacuation of 4,000 people.

Cal Fire was tracking Pashilk so closely at the time that one of the agency’s own investigators first reported the breakout of the fire on Clayton Creek Road, according to Lake County District Attorney Don Anderson.

Cal Fire officials have said previously that the Clayton fire provided probable cause to arrest Pashilk in connection with the series of blazes. A spokesman for Cal Fire said he could not elaborate on the arson investigation because of the pending criminal case against Pashilk.

“The Clayton fire and his (Pashilk’s) actions were enough in the series that gave us the evidence we needed to make an arrest and to connect the series of fires to him,” said Daniel Berlant, Cal Fire’s chief spokesman.

Anderson said he could not offer an opinion on whether Cal Fire could have arrested the handyman sooner because he has not reviewed the full case file, which arrived at his office this week. The district attorney did note, however, that having probable cause to arrest someone is not the same as having enough evidence to gain a conviction for the alleged crime.

“It’s kind of a judgment call,” he said of the timing of an arrest.

Experts said the case highlights the challenges and complexities of investigating wildland fires that are the result of arson. The blazes Pashilk is accused of setting are known to arson investigators as “hot sets,” which can involve little more than someone taking a lit match to dry grass and then walking or driving away.

“Hot sets can be really, really difficult (to investigate),” said Cyndi Foreman, fire prevention specialist for Central Fire Authority, overseeing fire protection in Windsor and Rincon Valley. “What we often see with serial arsonists is that they start these vegetation fires and rarely leave evidence behind.”

Such was the challenge facing Cal Fire investigators last summer after a series of roadside fires began breaking out in Lake County.

The first of the blazes linked to Pashilk was a July 2, 2015 fire at the Judge Davis trailhead on Highway 20 east of Clearlake, according to authorities. Investigators determined the fire was intentionally set without finding evidence of how it was started.

Footage from a video camera showed a Subaru Legacy station wagon in the area at the time of the fire’s start. The same vehicle was spotted on video in the area of two more fires outside Clearlake: a July 29 fire along Highway 20 east of Long Valley Road and an Aug. 14 fire on Sulphur Bank Road. An eyewitness described the vehicle being in the area of a third fire Aug. 13 on Woodland Drive, within the city limits of Clearlake.

Investigators traced the Subaru’s registered owner to an address in Clearlake, where they observed a man they later identified as Pashilk driving the vehicle to Twin Pine Casino in Middletown. Investigators obtained a search warrant for a GPS tracking device, which they attached to the Subaru at 3:30 a.m. on the morning of Aug. 19, according to the Cal Fire arson report.

Three days later, GPS showed the Subaru slowing to 10 mph on Eastlake Drive in Clearlake, about seven minutes prior to an investigator spotting a small fire alongside the road. As the blaze was being fought, an investigator spotted Pashilk in a white van “staring in the direction of the fire on Eastlake Drive and taking pictures,” the arson report stated.

The investigation halted Sept. 2 after Pashilk was arrested on unrelated misdemeanor charges and sent to jail. The arrival of the rainy season prompted investigators to remove the GPS device on Oct. 6.

The investigation resumed this summer after a suspicious July 14 blaze near Crestview Drive and North Drive outside Clearlake. Video captured a Chrysler Sebring registered to one of Pashilk’s roommates in the area at the time the fire started. Video also captured the vehicle in the vicinity of another fire that was started July 21 on Morgan Valley Road near Lower Lake.

On July 23, investigators watched Pashilk playing slot machines at Twin Pine Casino. When Pashilk left in the Sebring, one of the investigators followed. For reasons not spelled out in the report, the investigator turned back for the casino. Pashilk returned after about 13 minutes. In that time, a fire was reported on Western Mine Road, southwest of the gambling facility.

Investigators obtained another search warrant to attach a GPS tracker on the Sebring. The coordinates put the vehicle in the area at the time an Aug. 7 fire broke out along Highway 29.

On Aug. 9 — four days before the Clayton fire started — GPS put the Sebring driving along Clayton Creek Road and then onto Seigler Canyon Road. An investigator who caught up to the Sebring on Highway 29 saw smoke coming from the area and reported it to fire dispatchers. Investigators later found a twisted paper item at the origin of the blaze, which burned 15 acres of grass and brush, one unoccupied residence and one outbuilding.

The following day, investigators retraced the route the Sebring took on Clayton Creek Road searching for evidence. There they found a burned paper matchbook along the road where someone apparently had attempted to start a fire without success.

Authorities believe Pashilk returned to the same location three days later. At 4:52 p.m. on Aug. 13 ­— three minutes before the Clayton fire is believed to have been started — the GPS showed the Sebring back on Clayton Creek Road. The vehicle slowed to 11 mph before speeding up again.

Investigators believe that’s the moment when Pashilk set the grass on fire.

Three minutes later, an investigator spotted Pashilk and the Sebring parked on Dam Road and Highway 53, about three miles north of Clayton Creek Road. The report states the handyman stayed at that location nearly two minutes looking southward, which would have been in the direction of the fire he allegedly set.

Initially, the fire appeared that it would follow the same pattern as the other roadside arsons and be contained with relatively minor damage. But the blaze erupted the next afternoon into a raging inferno, storming into Lower Lake before firefighters brought it under control.

Investigators wasted little time arresting Pashilk the following day, Monday, during a traffic stop near his Clearlake home.

Later that evening, Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott announced the arrest at a packed press conference following a town hall meeting at Twin Pine Casino. An image of Pashilk’s face stared out at the large crowd, his enlarged mug shot set before assembled officials, including numerous Cal Fire personnel and Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena.

Cheers from the crowd turned to audible gasps, however, when Pimlott stated the arson suspect had been under investigation for more than a year. The fire chief declined to offer specifics on the investigation.

Other fire officials express caution about drawing conclusions based upon a snapshot of the investigation. What appears obvious in hindsight probably was not so clear as events unfolded, they said.

“Sometimes it all comes together after the fact,” said Cal Fire Battalion Chief Marshall Turbeville, who has investigated arson cases but was not directly involved in the Pashilk investigation.

Pashilk’s court-appointed attorney, J. David Markham, reached by email Friday, said his client would plead not guilty to all counts, including four more he said prosecutors would add Wednesday related to additional fires. He said he had yet to review over 1,000 pages of reports received for the case this week and declined further comment.

Based upon the summary of the arson investigation, it’s unclear what new evidence investigators may have gathered from the Clayton fire to support the agency’s contention the blaze provided the probable cause needed to arrest Pashilk.

The evidence investigators had linking Pashilk to the blaze — including GPS coordinates and an investigator’s observations of seeing the suspect in the general area — appears to be similar to the evidence investigators had linking Pashilk to previous fires, including the Aug. 22, 2015 blaze on Eastlake Drive.

The report also does not address a reported encounter Pashilk had with a Cal Fire investigator on the day the Clayton fire started.

According to one of Pashilk’s roommates, the handyman returned to their Clearlake home on Aug. 13 shortly after she heard, from a radio in their house, emergency dispatchers send personnel to the Clayton fire reported in Lower Lake.

She said the pair drove to the area, ostensibly to check on friends who have homes there.

The woman, who identified herself as Ginger, said a man approached the pair and asked if they needed assistance. He told them he was a freelance photographer from Napa. Following Pashilk’s arrest two days later, Ginger said the same man showed up at the Clearlake home to participate in a search of the residence for evidence. She said the man confided in her that he had been working undercover when he saw the pair in Lower Lake.

Ginger said the investigator also told her he had witnessed Pashilk setting the July fire on Western Mine Road after the handyman left the casino.

Berlant, the Cal Fire spokesman, stated in an email that investigators at no time watched Pashilk light any of the fires he’s accused of starting, including the Clayton fire.

“Had we witnessed him lighting a fire, we would have immediately arrested him then and there,” Berlant said.

(Santa Rosa Press Democrat)

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MY FIRST PAYING JOB. I was 13. It was 1958. We lived at what was then the outskirts of suburban Fresno. Down the street about half a mile was a large boysenberry farm. (Boysenberries are an early 20th Century hybrid cross between a raspberry and a blackberry which was one of the first commercial berries to make Knott’s Berry Farm famous. When ripe they’re sweet and juicy yet tart and make great jams, jellies, pies, and fruit syrup.)


BOYSENBERRIES grow in thorny brambles similar to blackberries. Picking them is hard because, like blackberries, they are grown on very tough stems and the fragile berries must be plucked out individually among some very thorny leaves at just the right amount of ripeness which occurs when they turn from red to purple. If they’re not ripe they’re sour and they don’t come off the vine easily. If they’re overripe they’re squishy and crush easily in your hand.


MY FATHER sent me down the road to apply for a picking job to get some experience. The crusty old boysenberry farmer reluctantly let me take a stab at it. He handed me four empty shallow crates, and showed me where to begin. He told me he’d pay 35¢ a crate for crates full of ripe berries. It was a hot August day, toward the end of summer vacation. I started about noon. (For reference, I remember in those days it cost I think a quarter to see a movie in theater.)


I DIDN’T KNOW IT at the time but I’m partially red-blind so I had trouble knowing which berries were ripe and which were not. I could only tell they were kind of reddish and that some were darker than others. But I didn’t really know the difference. I approached the vines where the farmer showed me and began to reach into the thorny brambles scratching my hands and picking what I thought were ripe berries for about half an hour.

SOON I saw someone down the row who seemed to be sitting down coming toward me as I slowly and casually picked a few berries. As the figure got closer I saw that it was an older Mexican woman who had two children’s wagons. She was sitting on a couple of upside-down crates in the lead wagon. In the following wagon she had stacks of full crates of boysenberries. She moved down the row by using her feet to roll along the vines sideways while she reached in and deftly picked multiple berries at a time, coming out each time with two big handfuls of them which she gently dumped into her crates in the trialing wagon. When she got to my spot along the row she said nothing, ignored me completely, and went around, continuing to roll on down the row in similar fashion.

IT TURNED OUT that she was picking most of the ripe berries leaving mostly not-so-ripe ones for me which I obliviously continued to pick, albeit much slower than the old woman who soon disappeared toward the other end of the long row of brambly vines.

AFTER ABOUT FOUR HOURS I had maybe three crates sort of full, I was sweaty, tired, sore, juice-stained, my hands were scratched and bloody, and I was frustrated. I stacked my three crates and carried them over to the shed where the old farmer was handling and paying for the crates from the other pickers, all Mexicans.

WHEN HE SAW MY CRATES he said, “Oh no! Most of those are not ripe! I can’t use those. I thought you knew what you were doing! Tell you what, you’re just a kid. Here, take this quarter and go home and don’t come back.” That was the beginning and end of my farm work experience.

(— Mark Scaramella)

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When I was a kid, my mother’s go-to recipe for any school function or family picnic was a fruit salad served in a scooped out watermelon half. She would cut the edges in a zig-zag pattern and top the whole thing with toasted coconut. I honestly thought she was a wizard. Turns out she just knew what would win over a crowd, and it starts with a bunch of chopped melon.

A photo by Scott Webb.

September is a glorious time of the year in Lake and Mendocino Counties and there’s nothing like celebrating the bounty with this month’s Harvest of the Month: Melons! A melon is any of various plants of the family Cucurbitaceae with sweet, edible, fleshy fruit. Melons in genus Cucumis are culinary fruits, and include the majority of culinary melons. While most are tropical, they grow with relative ease throughout the U.S. to brighten our breakfast plates and make brunch the joy we know and love.

The best-known melon with roots close to home is probably the Orange Crane melon, an heirloom fruit developed in Santa Rosa by Oliver Crane. It’s a regional favorite, and has earned a spot on the Slow Food movement’s Ark of Taste which offers hope for its continued success. Our local farmers markets have a varied selection of melons right now. Many look like cantaloupes, but just taste and you’ll find a range of flavors under that familiar skin; there’s a whole bouquet in there, hitting floral and musky notes that will show off anything it’s served alongside. Bonus: Your kitchen will also smell so good.

Home gardeners in Northern California know our cooler evenings make it hard for some melons to ripen. So-called “short-season” melons are the best bet to grow locally, and no less delicious for their faster path to perfection. A few years ago I tilled my kitchen waste (which included a melon rind and seeds) into an outsized planter I then filled with succulents. Doing yard work a month or two later, I found several vines trailing from the pot, each sporting several golf ball-sized melons. It was too late in the season for them to reach full size, but they testify to how vigorous these plants are.

Melons are susceptible to some insects, but there’s another threat that many gardeners may initially misconstrue. Have you walked outside and found a melon some distance from the patch, looking like the victim of an impromptu rugby scrum? Where’s your dog?! It turns out their creative approach to play can turn a melon into a ball with no melon baller needed. Consider fencing them in if this has happened to you, because heaven knows the dog is gonna try again.

Melon is probably at its best cut in half, seeds scooped out and eaten in the moment with your favorite spoon while barefoot in your kitchen. That said, it’s happy to play along with your desire to experiment. Chunks of melon wrapped in prosciutto are a fancy appetizer for a reason; the salt in the ham brings out even more of the sweet liquor notes in the fruit. Some folks dash their melon with some combination of salt, lime, and chile for a similar effect; start with a pinch of salt and see how you like it. When it’s sweltering out, toss melon chunks in the blender with lime juice, a dash of salt (see a pattern here?) and spoon or two of sugar, some water and ice for a heavenly agua fresca.

Watermelon and cucumbers harmonize beautifully in a chunky chopped salad topped with ribbons of mint and basil; it makes sense, since they’re “cucu” culinary cousins of a sort. Is that too watery for you? Salt it by adding some goat milk feta, and please invite me over. If you feel like a cocktail, a melon sangria is the perfect way to send off summer and prepare for fall.

Many melons are happily interchangeable in recipes, though watermelon’s texture sets it somewhat apart from its peers. All are fabulously hydrating and each have their own unique nutritional benefits, so let taste and variety guide your choices (but don’t forget the honeydew! So beautiful and cooling on a hot day). However you enjoy them, do it now, while they’re in season, and enjoy the moment.

Find local, fresh melons at your favorite Mendo Lake Farmers’ Market or local retailer. Learn more at

(Heather Seggel is a freelance writer in Ukiah. Doing all her grocery shopping on foot with a backpack makes melons a challenge sometimes, so she’s looking into a Baby Bjorn/shopping bag hybrid situation.)

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September 10 & 24, 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. (Saturday tour at 2:00.)

Beautiful coastal garden; free tour on Saturday.

FREE admission.

31101 Middle Ridge Rd., Albion CA 95410. (Wheelchair accessible.)

Stroll Digging Dog Nursery's beautiful gardens in the redwood forest near the Mendocino coast. Guided tour by Deborah Whigham. Discover the graceful virtues of ornamental grasses, learn about flowers that unify any color scheme, find out what you can plant to keep those pollinators happy, plus much more. Free refreshments and questions welcome! Enjoy refreshments & questions welcome. Digging Dog Nursery has been featured in The Garden Conservancy’s “Outstanding American Gardens,” "Martha Stewart Living," "House and Garden," "Vista" and other publications.

CONTACT: Deborah Whigham / Digging Dog Nursery

PHONE: (707) 937-1130


WEB: (full catalog)

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So, the reason we’re subject to all these repetitions of The Star Spangled Banner “is not for love of country but something quite the opposite: the fear that it’s promises are empty”. I just can’t buy it. We are subject to them mainly because of embedded ritual. The same with flag lapel pins. Simply habit and ritual.

I will still stand for the national anthem. For all it’s ills, we still have just about the best nation on earth, and too much blood has been shed for too many good causes in its rise.

And on this Labor Day, let us not forget the Homestead Strike, the Pullman Strike, the Great Railway Strike, the Great Anthracite Coal Strike, and the many others, some of which resulted in the deaths of common laborers at the hands of state militias or federal troops. Like now, the oligarchs ruled, and contrary to what some may think, labor expressed its courage and nobility, staring down the barrel of a gun.

Now it’s been shot to hell by the cannons of globalization.

* * *


Yasmin Solomon wrote:

Actually, what I remember, Marco was that you used some (or all) of the "7 Deadly Words" over the airwaves, and that is why they fired you. At least, this is what the hype was, at that time. I remember it well, as you were The First in a long line of fired Programmers. Actually, I was on the air for more than 9 years before Lose Wrongstreet and Margaret Thatcher/General Teresa Simon fired me. Remember?

DJ Sister Yasmin

* * *

That's one interpretation, Yasmin, but Mitch Clogg was really the first airperson banned by Sean Donovan. There was no "they" there to fire anyone, just one person acting as though he owned the frequency and the station, ruling by fiat. And then a short time later I brought Mitch to my show and barely even mentioned it in passing, talking about lots of things in between playing records. And Sean freaked out and that was it for me. Anyway, technically it's not considered firing, because the airpeople at KZYX have never /even/ had the rights of an employee. That's the way Sean locked it in, and that's the way it's stayed for 27 years.

And he used my having said the word /bullshit/ once weeks before that, at 2am, as an excuse, yes. (I'd brought Eduardo Smissen to KZYX, and Eduardo and I were talking and playing records, and I was struck by how ridiculous the manager-required thirty-second-long robotic station ID felt to recite, and said so.) Mary Aigner used the profanity excuse on many others. Lots of people swore late at night on KZYX down through the years of Queen Mary (I think that's what you called her, and it's apt), but whenever Mary got cheesed off with an airperson who wouldn't kowtow to her properly and so she wanted the person gone, that's the way she'd do it. While she was still program director I heard and saved some choice swearing on a Women's Voices show, just after 7pm of a Christmas holiday. I waited to see what would happen. No retribution, because the airperson held Mary's favor. I still hear comically gratuitous swearing in music at night on KZYX whenever I tune in. Generally around midnight.

Swears are not a big deal. No radio station has ever had its license yanked by the FCC for swearing in art or in conversation. On the FCC web page you can read the real policy: the FCC has no interest in hearing complaints of profanity on the air during Safe Harbor hours (10pm - 6am local time), and it's been understood for a very long time that no station is required to have iron control over a caller's swear slipping through here or there at any time of the day or night. KZYX's 7-second delay machine just serves to disconcert callers and put them at a disadvantage, gives devious schmucks like Stuart Campbell added ability to scramble a caller's point, and adds one more machine and several more contact points in the signal chain that can go wrong and screw things up.

To compare, KNYO (107.7fm in or near Fort Bragg, uses a phone interface I made out of a thrift-store telephone. It works fine. The radio audience can hear callers as clearly as they hear the person at the mic. I don't recall the exact figure, but I think it cost me two dollars for the phone, fifty cents for a couple of tiny transformers, and it took about half an hour to solder things together and test and install it at the station. When I do my show by live remote from Juanita's apartment I use a cheap speakerphone to put callers on the air. No delay beyond the unavoidable web delay of getting the audio stream to the transmitter. It sounds okay. And when the material warrants it I swear like a muleteer. I'm a writer. I tell what I know, and tell how I know it, and say what I think, and express how I feel, and give everyone else the same opportunity. Because this is the United States of America, not Communist China.

Marco McClean

* * *



Something needs to happen to flush the truth out into the open at KZYX. You have raised so many important issues.

I thought I was on the right track toward getting to the truth by filing my complaint to the FCC two years ago, but John Coate and Mary Aigner hired an expensive Washington D.C.-based law firm that specialized in FCC license renewals to defend themselves and the station.

Someone now needs to bring a formal complaint to the CPB.

I'll persist in my grievance and possible lawsuit. The station's policy of a "loyalty oath" is reprehensible.

The quality of a show's content, the skill of the show's host as an interviewer and producer, the ability to attract top guests speaking to important issues, and the demonstrated evidence of attracting and building an audience, should be the only criteria in having a show on the schedule at KZYX.

Who should have a show on KZYX?

You, Marco McClean, should have a show...4-5 hours every other week after midnight on KNYO and KMEC in a show that is both informative and entertaining, and 30-plus years doing both radio and newspaper work, including KZYX, is proof enough.

I should have a show...a weekly show on KMEC on a powerful digital platform that goes out to the Public Radio Exchange and Radio4All, with a Youtube audience of 34,326 (and growing), top guests (including Nobel Prize laureates, Pulitzer Prize recipients, and Emmy Award winners), foundation support (Guggenheim and others), underwriter support (Frey Vineyards, Orr Hot Springs, and others), and nine years experience doing radio, including KZYX, is proof enough.

Doug McKenty should have a show...years of having up to three different shows at a time on the KZYX schedule, wildly popular with listeners, and a proven fundraiser during Pledge Drives, is proof enough.

Norman De Vall...retired member of the Board of Supervisors, years doing a popular show on KZYX about county politics, and many years experience in hosting candidates debates, forums on ballot initiatives, and election returns, is proof enough.

So why don't we have shows on KZYX?

None of us is likely to take a loyalty pledge to KZYX management. That's why.

But, by the same token, none of us have ever used our show as a platform to criticize management. Never. Not ever. Not once. As long-time programmers, we're too professional to abuse the privilege of having a show.

We must continue fighting, Marco. Fight how? Bring a complaint to the CPB. Bring more complaints to the FCC. Bring a class action lawsuit from disenfranchised programmers.

You get the idea. We -- you, me, Doug, and Norman -- must be the leaders. It is on us to change the culture at KZYX and bring control of Mendocino public radio back to the public.

They are other important agents for change at KZYX. Dennis O’Brien, who has worked hard to get the station to follow its own by-laws. Scott Peterson, who has worked hard to open the books on the station’s finances. King Collins, who has worked hard to organize the station’s members and give them a voice. And, Sheila Dawn Tracy, who has reported truth to power at the station.

Are we worthy of the trust that the public has in us to continue fighting the good fight?

That is the question.

John Sakowicz

"I was no chief and never had been, but because I had been more deeply wronged than others, this honor was conferred upon me, and I resolved to prove worthy of the trust." — Geronimo

* * *


by Dan Bacher

(Sacramento) The Bureau of Reclamation will reduce water releases from Nimbus Dam into the American River from 1,750 cublc feet per second (cfs) to 1,500 cfs today, September 6, much to the consternation of anglers and conservationists concerned about the low water conditions that fall-run Chinook salmon will face as they enter the river this autumn.

The reason? “Storage conservation,” claimed Randi Field, Reclamation spokesperson.

The ramping down in releases occurs after Reclamation reduced releases from Nimbus Dam from 3,250 cfs to 2,000 cfs by August 21 and then cut releases from 2,000 to 1,750 cfs on August 26.

Folsom Lake is currently holding 341,611 acre-feet of water, 35 percent of capacity and 57 percent of average.

The reduction in releases comes as Reclamation has all summer dumped high releases of up to 5,000 cfs into the river for export by San Joaquin corporate agribusiness interests and Southern California water agencies.

Big water releases from Keswick and Oroville dams continue as the state and federal governments export massive quantities of water to agribusiness and Southern California water agencies. (

Releases to the Sacramento River below Shasta Dam are now 9,500 cfs and releases to the Feather River below Oroville Dam are 6,100 cfs. The State Water Project's Harvey O. Banks Pumping Plant is exporting 7,029 cfs and the federal Tracy Pumping plant is exporting 4,220 cfs, amounting to total combined water exports of 11,249 cfs.

That has resulted in Delta outflows of only 5,165 cfs while Delta inflows are 18,970 cfs.

The American River fall Chinook run is a significant contributor to the ocean and river salmon fisheries. From 1996 to 2015, the American has provided 19 percent of the fall Chinook salmon returning to the Sacramento River system, the driver of West Coast salmon fisheries.

A total of 19,013 adult salmon and 6,935 jacks (two-year-old fish) returned to spawn in the American in the fall of 2015, according to CDFW documents distributed at the annual salmon information meeting in Santa Rosa on March 2, 2016.

When the river becomes low and warm, both salmon and steelhead, which need cold water conditions to spawn, rear and migrate, are imperiled.

Fortunately, the water temperature on the American River is relatively low for this time of year, 65-½ degrees to 66 degrees. The Nimbus Fish Hatchery ladder will go in on November 1, according to Gary Novak, hatchery manager.

Fishing pressure on the American remains light, due to the slow salmon fishing.

“A few salmon are being caught by anglers fishing below Nimbus Dam,” said Dennis Phanner at Sacramento Pro Tackle. “I haven’t heard of any bank anglers hooking salmon on spinners at the mouth of the American at Discovery Park lately. Usually we don’t see the main run of salmon on the American arrive until late September.”

Daily information on expected flows in the American River can be found on the California Data Exchange Center website at or on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website at

* * *


This Saturday, Sept. 10 there will be an Open House from 5 – 7 p.m. at the Ford House Visitor Center and Museum to celebrate the Pygmy Forests of the Mendocino Coast. Authors who submitted entries to the Pygmy Forest Story Contest were invited to read their stories and receive awards during the festivities. Invitations have been sent to top winners Jary Stavely, Mitchell Zucker and Todd Walton. Invitations for Honorable Mention winning authors were sent to Kay Rex, Fred Holmes, Terri Hudson, Black Dove Broadtree and Karin Fitzgerald. Other Honorable Mention invitations cannot be sent without addresses. Can you please help us find Tauren Brown, Tasahra Brown, and Barry Vogel?? An email address has been found for Non-fiction Story Winner Molly Dwyer who wrote about Charlotte M. Hoak. Stop by the Ford House Open House to enjoy Pygmy Forest Photos and Stories, a wonderful display and interesting guests.

Joe and Ruth Sparks

* * *



* * *


Jnana Yoga Message — Awake at 4 A.M. most mornings, immediately acknowledging that I am not the body and I am not the mind, but I am indeed the spiritual energy which works through them. Not identifying with the mind is of the utmost importance, for the individual, for the society, and for the planet earth. It is quite simple: if you wish to do something positive for yourself, for society, and for the earth, then stop identifying with the mental factory and its ever-changing thoughts. Stop acting out thoughts! They will form and dissipate of themselves, so just leave them alone. Take care of the body as you would take care of any large mammal. It isn't difficult. And above and beyond everything else, identify with the nameless formless Absolute which you are. There really isn't any other solution to the confusion of this lost civilization, and there isn't any better remedy for environmental decline. You have a choice. N.B. I am staying at a travel inn, downtown San Francisco, until September 19th. If anybody wishes to team up and go on a spiritually creative rampage to boycott the worthless 2016 American presidential election, while simultaneously advocating an Earth First! approach to the global environmentally insane situation, plus perform a few effective rituals as we fully engage our spiritual mojo, then contact me at

* * *


At noon in the desert a panting lizard

waited for history, its elbows tense,

watching the curve of a particular road

as if something might happen.


It was looking at something farther off

than people could see, an important scene

acted in stone for little selves

at the flute end of consequences.


There was just a continent with not much on it

under a sky that never cared less.

Ready for a change, the elbows waited.

The hands gripped hard on the desert.

— William Stafford


  1. Eric Sunswheat September 7, 2016

    KZYX/Z may just need a few more retirees and or deep pocket commuters to Sonoma or from Lake County, in the form of monthly sustaining paid memberships, without hassle of accountability in pledge drives, to be not teetering as is KPFA with CPB funding no more, for KZYX/Z to put to rest in the dust bin of history, many of its former radio broadcasters hand wringing, while KMUD plays on with Mendocino County community news reporting, along with low power public radio stations in Ukiah, Fort Bragg, Willits, and Covelo.

  2. LouisBedrock September 7, 2016

    Shadia Drury writes: “The pagan gods were mythical personifications of natural phenomena. What is Poseidon, if not the wildness of the sea? What is Aphrodite if not the power of sexual love? What is Demeter if not the bountifulness of the earth? What is Hades if not the sting of death? Far from being false, the pagan gods were an integral part of lived experience. They represented something real apart from themselves. The same cannot be said for Jesus or the god of Abraham; they represent nothing.”

    • james marmon September 7, 2016

      You forgot to mention my favorite Louis, Hermes. I’ve been studying Greek Mythology a lot lately, really getting into it.

      “Hermes (Roman equivalent is Mercury) is one of the oddest, most gifted, and most popular Olympian gods. He is son of Zeus and Maia, driver of the living and dead, preacher and messenger of the gods, protector of young, shepherds, athletes and thieves. Hermes was the god of transitions and boundaries.”

      • LouisBedrock September 7, 2016

        Forgive the omission, Don Santiago.

        My own favorite is Athena,“Greek virgin goddess of reason, intelligent activity, arts and literature. She was the daughter of Zeus; her birth is unique in that she did not have a mother. Instead, she sprang full grown and clad in armor from Zeus’ forehead.

        She was fierce and brave in battle; however, she only took part in wars that defended the state and home from outside enemies. She was the patron of the city, handcraft, and agriculture. She invented the bridle, which permitted man to tame horses, the trumpet, the flute, the pot, the rake, the plow, the yoke, the ship, and the chariot. She was the embodiment of wisdom, reason, and purity. She was Zeus’ favorite child and was allowed to use his weapons including his thunderbolt. Her holy tree was the olive tree and she was often symbolized as an owl.

        She became the patron goddess of Athens after winning a contest against Poseidon by offering the olive tree to the Athenians.”

        She was also quite hot. I went out with her once; however, by that time she was no longer a virgin.

      • LouisBedrock September 7, 2016

        Have you read Ovid’s METAMORPHOSES?

  3. Judy Valadao September 7, 2016

    DiMaggio’s ashes were originally interred at Valhalla Memorial Park, North Hollywood, California in Lot 111, Garden Of Remembrance. The ashes were removed in 1992 and brought to Rose Memorial Park in Fort Bragg, California. His wife Madeline grew up at Ten Mile. Her father’s surname was Cristani.

  4. Jim Updegraff September 7, 2016

    Last night on MNBC Lawrence O’Donnell on his show had a section on the situation in ND over the attack dogs. Amy Cook was there doing a TV shot for Democracy Now show. she let O’Donnell use her material. It included a security person with an attack dog on a lease trying to get at the Native Americans and dog with blood all over its lips and teeth. The Corp of Engineers has suspended work on its section of the project and it was announced today the pipeline company has suspended work on its land which has the burial and sacred land of the tribe. i

      • LouisBedrock September 7, 2016

        Note the absence of any environmental impact report.
        Note absence of any information about what percentage will be destined for foreign markets.

  5. james marmon September 7, 2016

    Speaking of Poseidon Louis, did you see what happened today?

    Russian jet flies within 10 feet of US Navy spy plane, defense official says

    “The Russian Su-27 Flanker jet flew dangerously close to a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon reconnaissance aircraft used primarily for anti-submarine warfare while on routine patrol in international airspace, defense officials said.”

  6. BB Grace September 7, 2016

    re: “My First Job” & “Berry Picking”

    Really enjoy reading Mark Scaramella’s history as I appreciate his father’s effort to instill work ethics into his son, hard but good lessons, and isn’t it something how at the time, being it was hard work not just in labor, but finding one’s limits and learning that success may not come immediately, but many decades later? I’m sure that Mark Scaramella’s father was proud of Mark then and very proud of Mark today, as his father’s lessons reach many more, without the blood, sweat and tears. Thank you Mr. Scaramella.

  7. John Sakowicz September 8, 2016

    Enjoyed Mark Scaramella’s remembrance.

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