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Off the Record (Sept. 28, 2016)

THE GREAT DEBATE wasn't exactly Lincoln-Douglas. Trump embarrassed himself as Hillary rope-a-doped him and, by the end, had knocked him clear out of the ring. She was ready, he wasn't. He came off like a teenager arguing with his mother over the car keys. All that mugging, all those twitching facial gestures made me think that Trump might be more cuckoo than we thought. Lester Holt was almost as pathetic as the "moderator." He let the two of them talk over each other, permitted Trump's constant interjections. Trump, it seems, thought he could wing it, stroll out unprepared and wrap her up. And Hillary's lucky she doesn't have to debate someone from the left who knows how bad she really is on the issues, her political history. Trump made some good points about the economy in the overall totally wrong context of his allegiance to Reaganomics — cut taxes for the rich and they'll create jobs. O yea. Overall, it was a perfect demonstration of a choice between another four years of rolling catastrophes and catastrophe itself.


MENDOCINO COUNTY enjoys a mostly undeserved reputation as some sort of hot bed of progressive political action. But despite the occasional "progressive" citizen initiative, there are few local indications of any organized political activity, and even fewer indications of any real political energy from the "left." With the passing of Richard "The One True Green" Johnson some years ago, there is no longer a single identifiable active member of the Green Party extant in Mendocino County. In fact, there is no Green Party in Mendocino County since the One True passed on to his gluten-free eternity. The Republicans are represented by the venerable Stan Anderson of Fort Bragg and one or two nameless volunteers. Ukiah industrialist Ross Liberty and real estate mogul Richard Selzer are the only known operatives of the Libertarian Party. The Greens, Repubs, and Libs could hold their party meetings in a phone booth. Simultaneously.

COAST AND INLAND LIB, institutionalized as the Democratic Party Central Committee, are the closest thing in Mendoland to a political presence, but they operate in relative anonymity. The Dem Party franchise is about twenty robotic Yes votes for whatever flabby stance the DNC presents on the issues. They occasionally get together over wine and cheese to gush about how wonderful they are and to dream dreams of shaking hands with Congressman Huffman some glorious day. Unlike the Repubs, who regularly publicize their meetings in unfulfilled hopes that someone besides Stan Anderson will show up, the Dem Central Committee operates in virtual secrecy. And as the following episode confirms, the decision making process of the local Dems is unclearly wacky (and incorrect) at best and stupidly blundering at worst. The AVA, busy with our mondo-boffo open house during fair weekend, has reconstructed the following sequence of events after a reader alerted us to a particularly inane recent statement issued by the Mendo Dems.


THE RECENT BOONVILLE FAIR, specifically the Democratic Party booth, became the setting of a mini-tempest in a teapot. It started innocently enough when Sarah Bodnar, the campaign manager for the so-called Heritage Act, which would place the stoner community in charge of local pot policy, signed up to volunteer at the Democratic Party booth. (The Heritage Act, which will be on the November ballot as Measure AF, was written by marijuana growers to bypass the usual public review process and put in place the rules the growers want to see.)

MS. BODNAR STAGED A PHOTO OP of herself sitting in the booth, smiling broadly and holding up a "Yes on AF" sign. A large banner emblazoned "Democratic Party" served as the backdrop. During her time in the booth Ms. Bodnar actively lobbied for AF, and during and after, pro-AF literature was prominently displayed on the front table of the booth. Ms. Bodnar wasted no time posting the photo on social media, making it the homepage of the "Yes on AF" campaign. To all intents and purposes it looked like the Dems were actively backing AF.

THE "NO ON AF" COMMITTEE, which spans the political spectrum, (from environmental activists like Ellen Drell, to the aforementioned Ross Liberty on the Libertarian fringe, with mainline Dems like former Supervisor Hal Wagenet in the middle) immediately called foul, which set off a back and forth between Kenny Jowers, the south coast Dem and newly elected president of the Dem Central Committee, and various members of the "NO on AF" Committee. The NO on AF crowd pointed out the obvious: the photo would be interpreted as a de facto endorsement. They called on Jowers and the Dems to issue a statement clarifying that the Dems had not endorsed AF and demanding that the photo be taken down. Also hilarious about this tempest in a pot-pot, is that libs and dope, especially in this county, are synonymous. If there’s a registered Democrat anywhere in the county who has not fired up a bazooka, he or she is yet to be born.


DEM CEN COMM PRESIDENT JOWERS, obviously a captive of the suffocating Mendo doctrine of "nice-people-ism", told everyone to back off, that he was aware of the issue but could not act until he completed an investigation to learn the motives of Ms. Bodnar in posting the photo. (Gawd. You’d think the Dems were taking on the collapse of the Twin Towers.) No less a luminary than Dem Party herd bull Joe Louis Wildman (whose tenure with the local Dems is only exceeded by the eternal Val Muchowski of Philo), weighed in saying the motive didn't matter, the photo would obviously be taken as an endorsement and the Dems should tell Ms. Bodnar to take it down. After several days of indecision and conflicting comments, Jowers finally issued the following statement, which is a masterful blend of political doublethink and the passive aggressive mind-set.

DRUM ROLL, PLEASE. LADIES AND GERMS, presenting a clarifying statement on Who The Bleep Could Possibly Care from the Democratic Party of Mendocino County:

“AS MANY of you know (sic), the Democratic Party allowed Ms. Sarah Bodnar, a proponent of "Yes on AF" to sit in our booth at the Boonville Fair over this past weekend, as a Democratic Party volunteer. Ms. Bodnar took photos of herself and her materials inside the booth and posted them to social media. This action caused some controversy because the Democratic Party has maintained a neutral position on Measure AF. This, somewhat understandably, allowed the mistaken impression that the Democratic Party had endorsed "Yes on AF".

“BY PROVIDING a forum for political ideas to be shared, we are furthering a free flow of ideas and civil discourse, something that is essential to a democratic society and which is far too frequently missing in today's political arena. The Democratic Party has taken a neutral position on Measure AF. The fact that we are not endorsing a particular idea does not mean that we should actively suppress discussion of it. In fact, fostering civil and congenial exchanges is something we should actively encourage, both as members of the Democratic Party and as private citizens.

It is the opinion of the Mendocino County Democratic Central Committee that Ms. Bodnar's posting of photos of herself and her materials in our booth at the fair indicates that while she supports Measure AF she also supports the Democratic Party."

WE DON'T KNOW JOWERS, but the above statement takes an obvious attempt by Ms. Bodnar to falsely imply endorsement of AF by the Dems, and converts it to an endorsement of the Dems by Ms. Bodnar! The ghost of George Orwell is impressed. Jowers also conflates himself and his personal feelings interchangeably with the Dem Party and the Dem Central Committee. He says "the Dem Party allowed Ms. Bodnar" and "the Dem Party has maintained a neutral position". Jowers frequently uses the imperial "we" and concludes with the ludicrous opinion "of the Dem Central Comm" that Ms. Bodnar was innocently showing her support for the Dem Party.

JOWERS DOESN'T SAY when the Dem Central Comm met to take a position of neutrality on AF or when they met to opine that Ms. Bodnar was merely attempting to show support for the Dems. In fact, no such meetings took place. Or at least members of the Central Comm were not notified of the meetings. What did take place was that Jowers invited Ms. Bodnar to make a presentation to the Dems on the merits of AF. He did not invite anyone from the "NO on AF" Committee.

SEVERAL COMMITTEE MEMBERS requested the issue be placed on the next agenda for a possible endorsement with representatives from both sides present. But the issue was mysteriously absent from the next agenda. Emblematic of the passive aggressive nature of local libs, Jowers has unilaterally issued a statement designed to appease everyone and simultaneously decreed there will be no Dem Party endorsement either for or against AF.

WHAT COULD JOWERS have done differently? How about simply saying: "During the Boonville Fair, Ms. Sarah Bodnar, a Democratic Party volunteer and proponent of Measure AF took a photo of herself with "Yes on AF" literature in the Democratic Party booth. Ms. Bodnar subsequently posted the photo to social media, which has incorrectly been interpreted as an endorsement by the Democratic Party. As President of the Democratic Party Central Committee I have requested that Ms. Bodnar take down the photo in question. I also wish to clarify that as of this writing the Democratic Party Central Committee has not taken a position on Measure AF."

JOWERS' STATEMENT has been skewered by one commenter who changed one word and reissued the statement so it now reads "The Democratic Party has taken a NEUTERED position on Measure AF." Jowers seems to miss the fundamental point that there is a big difference between "actively suppressing discussion" and providing a forum for it. One would think the purpose of an organized political party is to take positions - not make their booth space available to others to promote their own agenda. But the local Dems have a reputation for going out of their way not to offend anyone. If Trump body slammed Jowers to the ground would Jowers apologize for causing the great man to get dirty? Would Jowers offer to pay Trump's dry cleaning bill for his suit? Probably.

WHERE’S WOODHOUSE? The Third District supervisor did not appear at last Tuesday’s meeting of the Supervisors. He has now missed three consecutive sessions. Sheriff Allman appeared for Mrs. Woodhouse during Public Expression to say that Supervisor Woodhouse would be back as soon as possible, that he is temporarily incapacitated in some way.  As of Monday, Woodhouse remains among the missing, not missing exactly but apparently housebound while the North County solon gets a grip on himself. Nice guy but perhaps feeling a bit overwhelmed with the obligations he's taken on with elected office.

MAYOR TURNER of Fort Bragg and his extended family were camping in the woods east of Fort Bragg a few weeks ago. And something alarming happened. Whatever happened is hush-hush. The mayor isn't talking, the police aren't either. But there's an investigation underway and, we must assume that at some point we will know what happened with Turner why we haven't known sooner what it was. What we do know for a fact, and a scant fact it is: someone in the Turner party called 911 for help, and the time of the call was after dark.

A COAST PERSON paying close attention to the proposed Hare Creek development assesses it this way: “Fort Bragg City Manager Linda Ruffing and Community Development Director Marie Jones are aggressively promoting it. Councilmen Hammerstrom and Cimolino are on the semi-secret Hare Creek Center ad-hoc committee that is promoting it. Lindy Peters is making noise about objecting, but ultimately appears to be a property rights guy who will reluctantly approve it. Deitz has recused himself because he's a real estate agent, and controls property near the site. Of course Mayor Dave Turner will vote for it. I don't know about Gjerde; he's as slippery as the rest of the politicos in these parts.”

OUR INFORMANT SAYS “It should be noted that City Manager Linda Ruffing felt it necessary to have a uniformed FBPD officer present during the entire EIR "Scoping Session" last week, and she sent the officer over to arrest Rex Gressett when he insulted Marie Jones during public comment. Jones, who’s not exactly a shrinking violet, interrupted Gressett, and told him to shut up, as Ruffing sent the officer over. The arrest was averted when members of the audience reminded the officer of Government Code section 54950-54963, 54954.3.0 (c) ‘The legislative body of a local agency shall not prohibit public criticism of the policies, procedures, programs, or services of the agency, or of the acts or omissions of the legislative body.’”

JOHN KRIEGE neatly summarized the Hare Creek issues: Hare Creek Center. The Request for Proposals for the EIR included “Economic and Social Effects” in the EIR. But these seems to be missing from the contract that was let. The questions that should have been, and still should be answered:

1. The staff report to the Planning Commission said there will probably be sales that move from Safeway to Grocery Outlet. Is the effect only a movement of sales? Does this mean that there is no economic benefit from the project, beyond initial construction?

2. If there is a movement of sales, does that also mean a movement of jobs from Safeway to Grocery Outlet? Are these jobs better or worse for Fort Bragg than those that are lost?

3. If there is already vacant retail space in Fort Bragg, what is the benefit of the new retail space to Fort Bragg? If existing businesses do move to the new project, what will happen to the spaces they leave?

4. And if this project does not advance Fort Bragg’s goal to become a tourist destination, does it make sense to approve this project at the gateway to Fort Bragg? In other words, is this the best use of this gateway property?

JOHN FREMONT has led a valiant but so far failed campaign to stop construction of a five-million-dollar trash transfer station in the Pygmy Forest near Fort Bragg. Of course Fort Bragg already has a perfectly serviceable transfer station on Pudding Creek that neatly and efficiently processes much of the Mendocino Coast's detritus. But the new station has been long in the doing by Mike Sweeney, the County's trash czar, and Sweeney's allies on the Board of Supervisors, reinforced by Fort Bragg's Sweeney-connected city manager Linda Ruffing, and wired at MSWMA (Mendocino Solid Waste Management Authority), a quasi-official organization made up of Sweeney gofers Dave Turner, mayor of Fort Bragg; Supervisor Dan Hamburg; Ron Orenstein, Willits; Supervisor Tom Woodhouse and Ukiah Councilman Jim Brown.

FRUITION of Sweeney's long-term transfer station project occurred last week at the meeting of the Fort Bragg City Council. As Fremont puts it, "I'm still in shock. I had proposed the City Council delay certification until after the election, since two councilmembers are stepping down. Those councilmembers (Deitz and Hammerstrom), along with Mayor Turner, rejected the appeal, while two returning councilmembers, Cimolino and Peters, voted to delay considering the EIR, which was presented to the Joint Powers by Sweeney and Ruffing. I also pointed out that Sweendle is retiring and was told he's set to run the Transfer Station when he does. There's conflict and corruption wherever you look, but I guess that's the American way of doing business."

I DON'T KNOW about the American way of doing business, but it's definitely the way Mendocino County does business, especially where Sweeney, Ruffing, Ruffing's boyfriend Richard Shoemaker, Supervisor McCowen converge, wiring projects that will profit them and their friends.

MAYOR TURNER and his two  auto-Yes votes, Deitz and Hammerstrom, ought to be ashamed of the transfer station deal. Ordinarily, a vote on a major project like this would of course wait for the new FB City Council coming right up in November. But even more outrageous is the rumor that Sweeney himself, who's about to retire from his County sinecure, will run the new transfer station. No wonder it'll cost $5 million! You think Sweeney's going to watch the trucks come and go from a plywood shack?

DAVID GURNEY COMMENTS: “The most disturbing thing about this boondoggle was the chiseling of over 12 acres of our State Park, negotiated by Sweeney and Linda Ruffing for non-eminent domain reasons, for this unneeded and premature project. It sets a very bad precedent for the future of our parks system, and was negotiated by these two corrupt individuals when State Parks was in the midst of its self-created ‘culture of corruption’.”

SWEENEY is close to Richard Shoemaker, half-time city manager of Point Arena for $50,000 a year, as Point Arena people continue to wonder why the town is broke. Fort Bragg's monarchical city manager, Linda Ruffing, is Shoemaker's girlfriend.

ALSO TIGHT with Supervisor McCowen, Sweeney, and his then-wife, the late Judi Bari, enjoyed free office space from McCowen from 1989 through the early 1990s as he hustled recycling grants from Wes Chesbro, long-time Northcoast officeholder who, in between tours in elected office, was a handsomely paid member of the State Garbage Board. Sweeney, putting his grant writing on pause while he blew up his ex-wife, and helped along by Shoemaker who was then a County supervisor, parlayed these grants into a publicly-paid sinecure for himself as Mendocino County's trash czar. Sweeney and Shoemaker had tried to locate a transfer station on the rail line at Calpella where, as I recall, one of them owned an empty parcel of land.

THE FIRST first garbage grants were worth half a mil each, and came to Sweeney from the Northcoast Democratic Party establishment, with whom Sweeney had ingratiated himself via Shoemaker while enjoying free "office" space across the street from the County Courthouse in a building owned by McCowen. That address also served as the Mendocino Environment Center. Sweeney and his then-wife, Judi Bari, were, one can say, office mates at the MEC, although in their private life they held each other in mutually lethal chokeholds, which soon led to Bari's partial immolation by car bomb in 1990. The Boonville newspaper is convinced that Sweeney, whose history of bombs and generalized violence with left cult groups goes back to the late 1960's, bombed Judi Bari. Or, at a minimum, built the bomb. (He dropped out of Stanford for a time to study refrigeration engineering where he learned the skills that he put to practical purpose when he iced his ex-wife.) Of course with Mendocino County suffering its unique, site-specific mass amnesia, Sweeney has had no trouble re-inventing himself as what passes for respectable citizenship here behind the green curtain, where you are whatever you say you are, and history starts all over again every day.

SWEENEY'S Taj-Ma-Transfer station he wants to spend five mil of your money on off Highway 20 in the supposedly protected Pygmy Forest has been in the works for nearly a decade as Sweeney, always a step ahead, had his gofers like Shoemaker and McCowen in place on various public agencies to get where we are today — a redundant transfer station at Fort Bragg where there's already a transfer station, which will be paid off in increased garbage rates for the Mendocino Coast.


MRC ATTORNEY STEPHEN JOHNSON works out of the Mannon, King seraglio, Ukiah. Johnson told the Board of Supervisors Tuesday that the Board was legally obligated to consider MRC’s objection to being taxed about $9k for a fire fee imposed by the Albion Little River Fire Department. MRC, it seems, expected the Supes to simply refund the $9,000.

THE SUPES PLACED their rejection of MRC’S  petty and purely vindictive claim on their consent calendar, MRC’s thuggish owners and management hired this Johnson character to pursue the claim in person — even though a legal challenge from MRC will cost MRC much more than $9k in legal fees.

MRC, if you came in late, has killed millions of non-commercial trees on thousands of acres by chemical injection of the poison imazapyr. The dead trees greatly enhance forest fires, and the chemicals they’re injected with are certainly not good for the lungs of the firefighters who have to battle the blazes enhanced by hundreds of acres of dead trees. The Albion-Little River Volunteer Fire Department took the lead in attempting to stem the fire hazard by declaring MRC’s dead trees a public nuisance via the successful June initiative known as Measure V.

PAYING a connected Ukiah law firm to shakedown a local volunteer fire department is low even for MRC and their billionaire owners, the Fisher family of San Francisco. (Charlie Mannon is majority owner of the Savings Bank of Mendocino, and all you people out there who do business with Mannon’s bank might want to think about taking your business to a more community-minded institution, such as a credit union. Former Mendo superior court judge James King is Mannon’s law partner.)

MRC ATTORNEY JOHNSON also made sure to point out to the Supes that if MRC wins and gets the $9k back the County will have to reimburse Mannon, King & Johnson their legal fees!

COUNTY COUNSEL Kit Elliott said she’d been in contact with Mr. Johnson but he had not provided her with the applicable legal citations he seemed to be referring to, and if he had them she’d be happy to look at them. Elliott also said that the case had already been in preliminary discussion through the courts and that the County was in the awkward position of dealing with a tax question that was initiated by a third-party, the Albion-Little River Fire Protection District, which is the same volunteer Fire Department that initiated Measure V, the anti-hack&squirt initiative that MRC vehemently opposed, and on which MRC spent upwards of $200k on their unsuccessful campaign to defeat.

BOARD CHAIR DAN GJERDE said that MRC’s beef, such as it may be, was with the Albion-Little River Fire Department which initiated the tax, adding that MRC was “unnecessarily dragging the County into a dispute MRC had with the Albion-Little River Volunteer Fire Department because we are an easier target,” emphasizing the word “volunteer,” and glancing skeptically at MRC attorney Johnson.

“ON THE OTHER HAND, we are the ones that collect the tax,” said Supervisor John McCowen, neatly bending over for both a mammoth timber company and an unscrupulous lawyer.

“AS MANDATED,” Gjerde replied, correctly implying that MRC was only pushing the issue to punish the Albion Little River Fire Department — a department MRC expects to come to their “mutual aid” when a fire breaks out their depleted, chemically saturated forests. MRC knows the County is legally mandated to get involved. The volunteer Albion fire department would garner more sympathy than the County would as the issue drags through the MRC-funded legal mud.

THE BILLIONAIRE FISHER FAMILY that owns MRC not only spent roughly $200k to oppose an initiative they say doesn’t apply to them, but is clearly spending more than $9k on Mannon’s $500 an hour lawyers just to retaliate against Albion-Little River, and in the process push the County into the very “protracted and costly litigation” MRC’s shifty mouthpieces could be avoided if the County simply gave them the paltry $9k.

REMEMBER, MRC now says that Measure V doesn’t apply to them under the State’s Right To Farm nuisance exemption for agricultural operations (which include timber harvesting).

THROWING THEIR BILLIONAIRE weight around like this will not exactly improve MRC’s already bad public image, and Supervisor McCowen should stop acting as if MRC’s legal case is anything but a transparent attempt to bully the County and punish the Albion-Little River volunteers for trying to reduce the substantial fire hazard MRC continues to present.

MALCOLM MACDONALD on MRC's threats: Another reason Mendocino Redwood Company (MRC) is pushing to get the Albion-Little River tax (the $9,000 amount quoted is for half of one year) money returned is their fear that other volunteer fire departments will enact similar measures. For example, MRC owns more than twice as much (taxable) land in the Comptche Volunteer Fire District.

THE ESSENTIAL Facebook newspaper, MendocinoSportsPlus reports that Hospitality House, which gets a lot of public funding, plans a coffee house for the Old Coast Hotel, thus placing it in advantaged competition with non-subsidized coffee houses in downtown Fort Bragg.

SUPES SAY "NO" ON AF. Despite pleas from a dozen or so pot growers, the Board of Supervisors voted 3-0 to strongly endorse a "No" vote on Measure AF, the so-called Heritage Initiative. Supervisor Woodhouse was absent without explanation for the third meeting in a row. Supervisor Hamburg recused himself due to a conflict of interest, i.e. the family pot business on Hamburg’s 80 acres south of Ukiah.

THE POT GROWERS denied that Measure AF was written by and for the marijuana growers. They claimed it was the result of a collaborative process involving county staff and officials. Supervisor McCowen shot that down, saying it was the draft county ordinance, now under review, that was the result of a collaborative process, not Measure AF.

SUPERVISOR HAMBURG, speaking as a member of the public, urged the Supervisors to stay out of it. But Supervisor Gjerde said the rest of the Board had spent a lot of time on the County's draft ordinance and at least some people would want to know what they thought of Measure AF and why. McCowen agreed. Supervisor Brown suggested taking a break over the lunch hour so McCowen could draft a list of reasons to oppose AF.

PROP 55: "Help Our Children Thrive." Gee, guess who's backing this one? Answer, The edu-bloc and Big Lib, and right there is a major temptation to vote no. They're always for the kids, right? Why, right this minute out at the Mendocino County Office of Education superintendent Warren Galletti, $125,000 a year plus fringes, is pacing the lush carpeting of his unvisited, task-free Talmage office, darn near distraught with worry, "How the heck can I do more for the kids?"

THE EDU-BLOC has said for years, "Give us more money and boy o boy o will your kids learn more better." Of course the public ed apparatus votes as a bloc for Big Lib, hence their mutual electoral dependency. Of course they want to continue a tiny tax on incomes over a quarter mil annually because it goes, mostly, to them, although it says right here that the money raised will go straight to the classroom, just like the lottery money went straight to the classroom. Clamp a clothespin over your nose and vote Yes.

AS THE ELECTION approaches, the air is shrill with the warning cries of middle of the road extremists that we’ve all just have to get behind Hillary or….it’s the beginning of the end. The End, though, kicked off about 1967. We’re just about there no matter who gets to run the joint for the oligarchy.

THE WORST has already happened. Two terms of Bush, who destabilized the whole world, and did it with the bi-partisan support of Democrats like the Clintons. Check that: the looming economic crash might just bring down the house in an uncontrolled demolition with unknown but very unhappy consequences, and let's please remember that it was the Clintons' repeal of Glass-Steagall (that had previously kept domestic banks separate from speculative banks) that removed Wall Street's leash, causing huge pain to millions of ordinary Americans who got majorly ripped off as they lost their homes and jobs.

HILLARY, like the rest of the bi-artisan elite, has nothing but contempt for the ordinary American, hence her characterization of people who work as a basket of deplorables. Romney put it this way: “47%” of American voters are whining freeloaders looking for handouts."

THE HILLARY LIBS express Romney's contempt in the argot of identity politics. To them, the deplorables are racists, misogynists, fag bashers, gun owners, and probably football fans.

THE IDEA that a vote for a third party candidate is a vote for Trump is the old wheeze the limo libs have been dragging out to bash third party people since Nader, as if Ralph cost Gore the election — Gore, the guy who couldn't even carry his home state; Gore the guy who simply shrugged and walked away when Bush rigged the Florida vote.

ACCORDING to Coast Lib, and National Lib, we either cast aside all lib-left principle, not to mention our rights as citizens to vote for whomever we want, and vote for Hillary or we're directly responsible for the emergence of the anti-Christ.

A READER WRITES: “It was tweaker/scumbag day at a Ukiah venue whose name I won't divulge. All of them belligerent. One without a shirt, dirty, with a big potbelly. Another slob made overt suggestions that he was going to rob his neighbor's house and come back with either money or a dog, I can't remember which…"

USED TO BE scumbags didn't wear uniforms. Today, even if you're not a scumbag, it's cool, at least with a large hunk of our doomed population, to look like one. The incidence of scumbaggery was probably about the same, proportionally, in 1955 as it is today, but the scumbags of yesteryear kept it indoors. And they didn’t wear uniforms. Check that: scumbaggery is probably more prevalent today because it's sanctioned, celebrated even, in song and film.

PROP 56: Another two bucks a pack on smokes. I find myself wondering, "Why not just make the tax on cigarettes a hundred bucks a pack and be done with it?” It seems like every other state ballot ups the sin tax while sanctioning other sins like gambling. I also note that of the four pot initiatives on the ballot, three of them originating in Mendocino County, America's intoxicants capitol, none mention the damage done to millions of heedless dopers to their lungs, the wider problem of late onset schizophrenia caused by premature heavy use of the love drug, the generally nefarious impact of marijuana on the young, and so on. Oh, that's right: with legalization it will be taxed. (Har de har) The cig tax goes partially to several nebulous purposes, including alleged prevention and, more vaguely, "child development," meaning jobs for the blah-blah people. If we're going to tax people doing dumb things to themselves like smoking, how about a tax on people watching Fox News, 60-year-old women dressing like teenagers, old men in short pants, and maybe a fine of a hundred each on tattoos. The AVA recommends: Whatever.

UBER is now available in Ukiah, but not yet available in Willits or Fort Bragg. There are rumors of alternate cab service coming to the Anderson Valley, Mendocino County's most happening venue.

RECOMMENDED READING: “Roosevelt and the Isolationists” by Wayne Cole. Professor Cole isn't much of a prose stylist but his account of FDR's struggle to get America ready for the inevitable war with the fascisti is nevertheless fascinating, with lots of interesting portraits of the opposition led by, among others, the anti-Semitic Henry Ford and proto-fascist Charles Lindbergh.

KPFA on the ropes? I tuned in for the first time occasionally as a high school kid in the early days of Pacifica, not that I understood much of the discussion, which was heavy on pacifism as I dimly recall, and tuned in a lot as I turned steadily leftward as a young man. I think KPFA peaked (as did I) in the late 1960s and early 1970s when the "left" still existed with enough force to actually prompt the government to undermine and even murder some of it. KPFA also seemed smarter, much better informed, far more articulate, often witty, much more literate generally. I find much of programming these days to be pretty tedious, and lots of it straight-up nuts. (Gary Null, conspiracy bullshit and so on.) I put the great KPFA slide at the retirement of Larry Bensky and, before that, the crazy investment in a building and studios and the mound of debt that came with it. Of course when the "left" attempts a cooperative project you also get lots of permanently aggrieved people who manage to conflate their personal misery (and nuttiness) with progressive politics, not to mention the inevitable opportunists, thus bringing down the whole enterprise. (KZYX right here in Mendo was immediately besieged by outpatients, a number of them full-time programmers and, often, staff.) Overall, though, I think the prob with institutions like public radio and all the rest of established media is the neo-fact that everyone now has his own radio station, his own newspaper, his own program via blogs, facebook and the rest of the ME deluge.

ACTUAL NEWS. The privatized arm of Mendocino County Mental Health is opening a branch in downtown Fort Bragg in the Bank of America building. Fort Bragg's central city is becoming a kind of magnet for the walking wounded and their lushly paid helpers. The BofA, as clarified by Supervisor Dan Gjerde, "would be office space for Redwood Children Services and Redwood Quality Management. For several months Camille Schraeder has said the combined offices of Redwood Children Services and Redwood Quality Management will need elbow room in Fort Bragg. Recently, Camille Schraeder said RCS/RQMC made two attempts to purchase the Affinito building on South Franklin Street, but complications with the building's debt, among other things, caused the property to be beyond reach. At Thursday night's mental health forum, Camille Schraeder said she was planning for Redwood Children Services and Redwood Quality Management to locate into the Bank of America building's vacant office space."

NANCY SUTHERLAND makes some good points in her recent letter of opposition to the Sheriff’s mental health facilities initiative. The proponents of AG/AH (or the County, or both) should make it clear that the money derived from the half-cent sales tax would only be spent on facilities that are sized so that they can be staffed by existing mental health funding (or new funding separate from the General Fund). That seems to be what we’ve sort of heard from the AG/AH proponents so far (when they declared the County’s analysis to be “worst case”), but we have not seen it specifically addressed.

PROPOSITION 67 would ban plastic bags, and one more example of a ballot initiative put to the voters because our legislators are afraid of the "American Progressive Bag Alliance" (sic). We've all known old bags and lots of us have, from time to time, been in the bag, and every day we tie on a feedbag. But we seldom associate plastic bags with nationality or progressivism. The plastic bag lobby has outdone itself here with their patriotic effort to foul our fair land and waters with their deadly, forever product. The American progressive people opposed to banning plastic bags are — you guessed it! — the people who manufacture the things. YES on 67.

PROP 63. Here's another ballot proposition that appears only because legislators are afraid to take it on, doubly fearing the organized Gun Nut Lobby. The gun people live in fear of everything from lurks breaking in on them in the middle of the night to the government taking over for the specific purpose of gun confiscation. As if. As if, say, a 3am tweaker bent on machete mayhem penetrates your perimeter defenses, gets all the way into your slumber chamber… He's got you. You're drunk or so deeply wrapped in Morpheus's arms you're decapitated before you can get to your Tec 9 and your back-up large-capacity magazines, loaded and ready to slap in on full-auto. Then there's the government: When it comes for you, Mr. Gun Guy, they'll do a Ruby Ridge or Koresh on you, no problem. Their guns are bigger and there's lots more of them. Prop 63 would ban the giant mags and require a background check on people buying ammo, and the paranoids are buying ammo in literal wholesale lots. I should confess I own three guns myself without really knowing why other than they give me a sense of security I know objectively is false. The kind of people who buy bulk ammo and lust after big mags generally aren't criminals, and most of them already have this stuff. I think 63 is mooted by existing conditions, but go ahead and vote Yes just for the righteous hopelessness of it.

THERE'S SNOWDEN the documentary (CitizenFour) and there's Snowden the Oliver Stone movie. Then, of course, there's Snowden-Snowden in apparent permanent exile in Russia. If you saw the excellent Snowden documentary but need a love story grafted on to the facts, you'll enjoy Snowden the Oliver Stone movie. The basic story is of a conservative young man who becomes shocked at his government's waiving of all the rules, all constitutional guarantees that Americans are theoretically alleged to enjoy. Snowden then does a very brave thing — he blows the whistle on the mass surveillance he helped set up until he figured out that our own government was looking in on, among others, his girlfriend, that electronic surveillance had become globally pervasive and now included surveillance of all Americans. For his courage in revealing that all people on the planet now live under an unsleeping Orwellian eyeball, Snowden is denounced as a traitor by the traitors, as the terrorists evade the global electronic spy apparatuses by going low tech and off the grid. But the spy apparatus remains in place and is ever more refined and pervasive and, as Snowden points out, it will soon be used by the inevitable dictators of the world, including the one we'll get in America, to snuff all resistance to them.

AND I'LL RAISE YOU… In response to Mark Cuban's threat to sit front row at Monday night's presidential debate, Donald Trump tweeted on Saturday that he might bring Gennifer Flowers, a woman Bill Clinton admitted to having an affair with decades ago. "If dopey Mark Cuban of failed Benefactor fame wants to sit in the front row, perhaps I will put Jennifer Flowers right alongside of him!" Trump tweeted. The Trump team has since said that Jen will not attend the debate.

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