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Mendocino County Today: Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016

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RODGER TOLMAN. We have just received the sad news that long-time Anderson Valley resident, Rodger Tolman, has died. Mr. Tolman was an independent log truck driver and affiliated all his working life with logging.

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by KC Meadows

“This is a very long and drawn out process.” That’s what one newly hired seasonal election worker for Mendocino County said to a colleague while struggling to get a November ballot open to be counted Friday.

That worker was right.

Sheriff Allman turns in thousands of signatures for Measure AG/AH to County Clerk Sue Ranochak at her Ukiah office
Sheriff Allman turns in thousands of signatures for Measure AG/AH to County Clerk Sue Ranochak at her Ukiah office

But let me start at the beginning. I got a letter from County Clerk Sue Ranochak in late summer inviting me to be an Official Observer for the November election. It was the first one I ever got and I assume it came because of the three stories we ran by Carole Brodsky after the June election putting a spotlight on the complaints of observers to that ballot-counting, complaints like the unwelcoming atmosphere, being stuck behind closed doors and elections workers deliberately blocking their view.

So naturally I accepted the offer to be part of the process. On Friday, I was told, the actual mail-in ballot counting would begin. When I arrived, I was welcomed by both Ranochak and her elections go-to person Katrina Bartolomie. (As an aside, Ranochak recently requested from the Board of Supervisors a raise and promotion for Bartolomie, a move that seems to indicate Ranochak intends for Bartolomie to inherit her Clerk job when she retires, assuming the voters agree, as it is an elected position. The Board approved it without discussion.)

The first thing I was shown is a large TV screen attached to the wall opposite the ballot processing area. The processing area now has a camera posted above it and the ballot processing can be seen on the TV monitor by anyone in the main hall of the county administration building. Perhaps a bit of over-reaction but a nice touch considering how many people could conceivably actually show up to “monitor” the election on Election Day.

Before I arrived Friday afternoon, the approximately 9,300 mail-in ballots that had already come in the mail had been checked for correct signatures. Then they were sorted into bins by voting precincts. Now the elections workers, let’s call them “balloteers,” were at lunch. So Ranochak and Bartolomie had an opportunity to show me their work space and explain what I would be watching them do.

The area is a small corner of the larger Clerk-Assessor office, located near a hallway door. It’s a Dutch door so you can open the top and allow people like me to stand there watching the action. There are three sox-foot tables arranged in a horseshoe. There are six balloteers, two to a table sitting across from one another.

Each team will get a bin of ballots, again, separated by precinct. They will take bunches of them out at a time and split a bunch between them. These are ballots still in the sealed envelopes they were mailed in. Each team member will count their bunch of ballots. They will add the two numbers together for a total of that bunch they are working on.

Next, they begin opening the ballots. They are given these handy envelope “slitters” as they call them (they were white with some red and blue accents, American flags?). They open all the envelopes. The envelopes are opened and then placed aside upside down so the balloteer is not looking at the name as he or she works. Once the ballots are all opened they begin to take the ballots out. The ballots are slipped out of the envelopes, still folded and set into a pile, the envelopes in a separate pile. When this is completed, the ballots are counted and the envelopes are counted again. If the number of envelopes does not match the ballot pile, they have to count everything over again. That happened to one team’s first batch and when they counted everything again they realized they had over-counted the total number of envelopes in the very first count. If a balloteer finds two ballots in one envelope, both ballots are automatically rejected. (So don’t put you and your husband’s ballots in the same envelope to send off to the clerk).

Once the counts match up, the envelopes are bound up with a rubber band, labeled with a piece of paper noting their number and the precinct and put into a box — they have a mound of old copy paper boxes for storing the envelopes.

Seems simple enough, but just try getting those slitters to work on the thin envelopes that have already been handled once by the Postal Service. All but the two most experienced balloteers were grousing within minutes and it did indeed look like frustrating work.

Speaking of balloteers, all of them hand picked (Ranochak’s word), the six I was watching included two experienced, two less experienced and two new. They earn $12.20 an hour and are known in county jargon as “extra help.” Ranochak says six is a lot. Normally she has fewer, sometimes just two.

And so the inspection begins. Now that the envelopes are out of the way, the balloteers start looking at the ballots themselves, unfolding them and inspecting them for damage, stains, over-enthusiastic marking outside the circles or write-in names anywhere. These are all things that the ballot counting machines might miscount and so are set aside for the moment. Once all the ballots in the batch the team has been working on are inspected, they are flattened out as best as they can be, and bundled with a rubber band — with the set-asides at the top for a supervisor’s second inspection — and a piece of paper with their count and precinct. They are placed in special cardboard election boxes that are later sealed for the vault until they will be put through the voting machines.

As for those set aside, write-in names must be checked to see if they are legitimate candidates. Under California law, only write-in candidates who have registered to be written in, will be counted. Otherwise the write in is not counted and only the rest of the ballot is counted.

The other set-asides are known as “remakes.” If your ballot is damaged or stained or marked in such a way that the machine will likely misread it, the clerk’s office will create a new ballot with the information on the damaged ballot and send that through the machine. They will, it should be noted, do their best to interpret what you wanted, but Ranochak says it is usually clear what the voter’s intentions were. Since the ballots and envelopes they came in are “separated at birth” so to speak, there’s no way to go back and contact the actual voter to remake the ballot.

As I watched this process Friday, I kept my eye primarily on one team. One was a long time balloteer, the other brand new. They were able to process from bin to box about 60 ballots in an hour. Of those 60, six were set aside, one was a write-in and the others remakes. I tracked down Ranochak in her office to ask if I could see the six set-asides so I could see what the balloteers found wanting. She hesitated but said OK and I went back around to my post at the Dutch door and she gathered up those set-asides (the team had finished that batch and were on a break). We looked at the five remakes. One had a tiny spot of something (gravy? wine?) on the edge of the ballot. The others all had marked circles (the place you make your vote) that had gone slightly out of bounds.

Ranochak said clearly these balloteers were being extra cautious and none of their set asides were probably actually necessary. But it does mean someone else has to take another look at them before they are voted. In this case that was 10 percent of the batch that team had processed. At that rate, thousands of remakes could be needed although I am told that it’s usually only a few hundred that actually needed to be remade. The remake process is done by two people, one reading off the votes as cast and the other recording it on the new ballot.

As the ballots are processed, boxed and sealed up, they are stored in a vault until it is time to start actually counting them. Ranochak says in addition to the 9,300 ballots they have on hand already, they expect to get 1,000 or more a day through to Election Day.

I asked to see the ballot machines. Ranochak again hesitated. She said she never lets people into the room with the voting machines and, in fact, when the machines are in use, observers like me will be limited to watching through the 12” by 12” door window. Good luck observers.

Anyway, I did go into the relatively small room which had several desks all close together and 11 voting machines which are the size of old-style electric typewrites, only flat. You put the ballot in one end and it comes out into a cardboard box lid at the other. The counter on the machine keeps a running count.

Ranochak says that while she has 11 machines, she only allows three people (including herself) in the room to use them. She said it would otherwise be too crowded and she fears if she used all the machines at the same time continuously their memory cards would be overloaded. Hmm.

For this November presidential election, Ranochak sent out 42,000 ballots to all the county’s registered voters. She said she expects a high turnout because it is not only a presidential election, but one with no incumbent running. The last time that happened, in 2008, she said voter turnout was close to 80 percent. This year’s ballot also has 17 state propositions and 12 local ones, she noted.

I asked why she doesn’t just get more people to help. One of the constant complaints about the Mendocino County election counting is the three or more weeks it takes Ranochak to finalize results. If the six people I watched Friday afternoon are typical, and even assuming that they get faster at it than they were on their first try, it’s no wonder it takes so long. But Ranochak remains adamant that she does not want the balloteers anywhere out of her office or where someone can’t be supervising at all times.

I note that while Ranochak did not appear during the time I watched, Bartolomie was in and out during the process but hardly a constant presence. The two experienced balloteers seemed perfectly capable of answering questions the others had during the process.

And that process will continue on Monday.

(K.C. Meadows is the managing editor of The Ukiah Daily Journal. Courtesy, The Ukiah Daily Journal)

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Lorenzo Rodriguez-Gomez
Lorenzo Rodriguez-Gomez

After waiving his constitutional right to have his charges decided by a jury, defendant Lorenzo Gomez Rodriguez, age 34, of Philo, was tried by judge this week on charges of attempted murder using a knife, assault with a knife, and three counts of criminal threats. The underlying incident occurred earlier this year on property adjacent to Hendy Woods State Park in Philo.


After having listened intently to the witness testimony and exhibits offered by the parties over two and a half days, evidence which included testimony by the defendant, Mendocino County Superior Court Judge David Nelson then took a recess to consider the evidence and to deliberate on verdicts. Later in the afternoon the Court returned to the courtroom and announced it was finding the defendant guilty of attempted murder with use of knife, assault with a knife, and two separate counts of criminal threats. The defendant was found not guilty of a third count of criminal threats. Once the verdicts were entered into the record, the defendant was referred out to the Adult Probation Department for a social study and sentencing recommendation. The defendant will remain in jail in lieu of $250,000 bail pending sentencing. Pronouncement of sentence is now scheduled for December 9th at 9 o'clock in the morning in Department B of the Ukiah courthouse. Anyone with an interest in this matter is welcome to attend that hearing. The prosecutor who presented the People's trial evidence and arguments was District Attorney David Eyster. The investigating law enforcement agencies were the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office and the California Department of Justice Crime Laboratory in Eureka.

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THE BOHEMIAN, a free weekly out of Sonoma County, should win a special Weasel Lipped prose award (with Nuzzlebum Cluster) for this passage in the paper's election picks: "As this paper offers its inevitable if intensely wary endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president, let's remember that it will take a village to find the teachable moment when the election passes and parents no longer fret about what the orange creep might say on TV."

It doesn't bear thinking about, but if you do you've already noted the precious self-regard, the strain of a craven Northcoast Lib to be both way politically cool in the pompous phrase “wary endorsement,” the obligatory shot at the all-time Boogie Man with coy ref to sparing the kids the sight of him. And Hillary libs wonder why millions of everyday people are voting for the orange creep?

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by Sukey Lewis

Next week, California voters may decide to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in the state. And if Proposition 64 passes, California’s justice system will face a number of unexpected impacts.

But in many parts of the state, including Mendocino County along the northern coast, widespread marijuana cultivation and its side effects are already a fact of life.

Top Prosecutor Develops a ‘Restitution’ Plan in Mendocino

Back in 2011, the county’s newly elected district attorney, David Eyster, found himself facing a huge backlog of marijuana cases. It’s not unusual for this small county of about 90,000 people to rack up more than 300 marijuana cases in a single year, ranging from smaller grows of less than 50 plants to massive grows that can involve misuse of public lands and environmental degradation.

Mendo DA David Eyster
Mendo DA David Eyster

Eyster found a unique and controversial way to start moving some of these cases through the courts. Under the authority of a California law that’s part of the state’s health and safety code, he began offering certain marijuana defendants misdemeanor plea deals if they paid what’s called “restitution” for the costs of seizing and destroying their pot.

After looking at law enforcement costs, Eyster came up with a formula: “$50 a plant, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a little plant or a big plant, we just keep it $50 a plant, or $500 a processed pound.”

But only first-time defendants, and those who aren’t causing environmental damage or growing on public lands, get the opportunity to take this deal.

“It’s a person with a little medical marijuana need, but they have a huge greed,” he said. “And so there’s a little bit of medical marijuana mixed in with it. But it’s just so little compared to what they’re doing that it can’t be overlooked.”

The district attorney’s office says it’s a way to distinguish between career criminals and those who may have misinterpreted the legal limits of medical marijuana cultivation and sale.

“The big emphasis is trying to be consistent,” Eyster said. “You know, if you talk about marijuana litigation prosecution in the state of California, the word consistent is not something that’s often used.”

Now, about a third of all cases are settled through restitution. It has freed up resources in the DA’s office and brought in resources to local law enforcement. The county sheriff’s department sees the lion’s share of this revenue, about $7.2 million to date.


Critics Call It The ‘Mendocino Shakedown’

Many in the county call the restitution program by another name: the “Mendocino Shakedown.”

Heidi Larson is an attorney who prosecuted sex crimes in the Mendocino County DA’s office for about 10 years and worked in the county public defender’s office for a year. She said that while the program is certainly innovative, it has some troubling aspects.

“The big question is: What about people who can’t pay these numbers?” she said. “Are they being treated the same as people who can pay?”

Larson said she’s talked to people who told her they build restitution into their business plan, “and that’s when you’re dealing with massive growers, because they come in every scale.”

But, she said, on the other end of the scale are those who simply can’t afford to pay.

Mike Geniella in the DA’s office doesn’t buy this argument.

“We’ve never seen a poor marijuana grower in Mendocino County,” he said. “So the notion that someone is losing their home in debt — no, it simply has not happened.”

But multiple sources told KQED that defendants have gone deep into debt due to restitution. And some people ended up paying, even though they insist they were legally growing medical marijuana. These sources didn’t want to go on the record because they’re worried they’d face retribution if they went public.

“People need to understand you’re not shielded at all,” Larson said. “It’s an affirmative defense. You can be arrested. You can go to the jail. You can be charged. You can end up having to go all the way through before the decision is made whether or not it truly is medicinal. And that’s going to cost some money.”

Eyster said before he brings charges, he does let marijuana defendants bring in any medical paperwork they might have.

“If you’re legal, you walk away and we say have a good day,” he said. “If you’re not legal then, we tell you what your options are.”

But Sebastopol-based defense attorney Omar Figueroa, who specializes in medical marijuana, said part of the problem is that medical marijuana laws are still very gray. And local and state laws are still at odds with federal law.

“People are basically making a rational choice to buy a misdemeanor instead of suffer the potential of a felony conviction,” he said.

And if you don’t make that choice, the consequences can be severe.

Case of Richard Bolton

Richard Bolton, 34, is facing those consequences. The lifelong Mendocino resident owns a two-bedroom house tucked under the redwood trees in the town of Willits. He runs a logging and construction company, and in October he and his 20-year-old fiancee, Ashley Baldwin, welcomed a baby girl.

But their life will soon change. Bolton will be heading to jail for six months, starting in January.

Bolton & Wife in their Willits garden
Bolton & Wife in their Willits garden

One afternoon in October, the two walked around their backyard, checking on their raised garden beds of grapes, tomatoes and peppers, all starting to get a little moldy from the fall rains that have just begun.

But in 2014, the county’s marijuana eradication task force busted the place and found about 70 marijuana plants growing in these same beds. They also found 15 plants in the garage, around 20 pounds of dried pot, five guns and more than $100,000 cash in Bolton’s safe.

Bolton was arrested.

His lawyer approached him with the district attorney’s offer to pay around $20,000 in restitution and plead to a misdemeanor.

“I thought it was more extortion than anything,” Bolton said. “You know they want to take my money for something I didn’t do, and then they want to get you for a felony crime, but they want to let you walk for a misdemeanor to pay him money.”

Months before the raid, Bolton said, he’d leased the house to a parolee named James Horn. According to Bolton, Horn was growing marijuana without his knowledge.

Bolton opted not to take the deal.

Instead, he went to trial and got a hung jury. The district attorney then charged him with perjury in a connected civil case and moved to retry the criminal case. Bolton said at that point he was out of money to fight and was struggling to get partial custody of his 4-year-old son with a former partner.

He pleaded no contest to maintaining a property for unlawful sale of marijuana.

“In three years with good behavior, then I get the felony dropped to misdemeanor. That way I can still coach my children’s football teams and baseball, whatever, so that’s the reason I pled to it at that point.”

The judge postponed his sentence, so he could be home for the birth of his daughter. Beginning in January, he will serve six months in jail.

His fiancee’s voice cracked as she said she doesn’t know how she’ll cope without him for that time. But then she got angry.

“I think it’s bogus,” she said. “Just because he could have bought his way out of it.”

DA spokesman Geniella points out it was Bolton’s decision to pass on restitution.

“He chose to hire an attorney, pay $25,000 and go to trial. He did,” Geniella said. “He ended up with a hung jury in favor of conviction, and again on the morning of the second trial he entered a guilty plea. All those are Mr. Bolton’s choices.”

Law Enforcement Priorities

Underlying the resentment many Mendocino residents have about restitution is the sense that enforcement of marijuana laws is arbitrary and unfair.

“We went in a helicopter ride on airport day a month ago and you can look out the window and you see crops all over town of marijuana,” Baldwin said. “And I don’t see how they can charge one person and not get everybody, because everybody here is doing it.”

But the Mendocino County sheriff, Thomas Allman, said it’s not arbitrary at all.

Mendo Sheriff Tom Allman
Mendo Sheriff Tom Allman

He laid out his department’s five enforcement priorities:

(x) Profiteering (medical marijuana is supposed to be nonprofit)

(x) Public lands (growing in state or national parks)

(x) Trespass grows (growing on property owned by someone else)

(x) Water diversion (stealing water from streams or lakes)

(x) Environmental damage (killing wildlife and disrupting ecosystems)

To get busted you need to meet one of the five, Allman said, but the last two are really the most important.

“If you really want to get a deputy sheriff interested in a commercial operation, you tell him or her that there was environmental degradation or illegal water diversion,” Allman said. And he said he’s tired of people flooding into his county from all over the world — not to appreciate the scenery, but to take what they can from the land and then leave.

Allman said his department busts only 15 percent of the marijuana that they know about. He said he simply doesn’t have the resources to go after the other 85 percent. And he said his team often will eradicate a marijuana grow and not find anyone there to arrest.

“We certainly would like to arrest the investor but the amount of time an investigation like that would cost us would prevent us from doing other investigations,” he said.

The Future?

A county grand jury reviewed the program earlier this year. Its primary findings were that the program increased court efficiency and eased jail overcrowding. But it also recommended that the district attorney institute a public program to assist those who can’t pay restitution.

Eyster responded to the grand jury’s recommendation by reiterating that his office’s restitution process is sufficient to allow for defendants to claim and prove their poverty.

Ultimately, the grand jury recommended that the program continue.

But if voters legalize recreational marijuana in November, the restitution program in its current form could be gutted or at least significantly altered. Proposition 64 would make cultivation for first-time offenders an automatic misdemeanor. So, the DA could lose some of his prosecutorial leverage.

However, Mike Geniella said restitution has been so effective that he’s confident it can evolve, along with the new law.

“It’s a big plus for the defendants, our office and the courts,” he said.


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Norman deVall notes: I think it is only Elk Girls who come trick or treating the day after Halloween.

“Take two or three,” I said.

“Handfulls?” she replied.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, November 2, 2016

Barajas, Colberg, Hockett
Barajas, Colberg, Hockett

PAULINE BARAJAS, Gualala. Domestic assault, protective order violation.

ALISSA COLBERG, Fort Bragg. Domestic assault, ex-felon with firearm, probation revocation.

JEFFERY HOCKETT, Fort Bragg. Enhancment of previoius conviction for 311.11(A), 311.2(B), 311.4(B) [child porn possession/distribution penal code sections].

Jose Lopez, Juan Lopez, Matthews
Jose Lopez, Juan Lopez, Matthews

JOSE LOPEZ, Ukiah. DUI, misdemeanor hit&run, suspended license, resisting, probation revocation.

JUAN LOPEZ, Willits. County parole violation, probation revocation.

KODY MATTHEWS, Redwood Valley. Probation revocation.

Pineda, Soto-Gonzalez, Whipple, Woolfolk
Pineda, Soto-Gonzalez, Whipple, Woolfolk

LUIS PINEDA, Fort Bragg. Loaded firearm in public, probation revocation.

GONZALO SOTO-GONZALEZ, Ukiah. Domestic assault.

CHARLES WHIPPLE, Covelo. Controlled substance, community supervistion violation.

DANTE WOOLFOLK, Ukiah. Failure to appear.

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LITTLE DOG EXCLAIMS, “My first celebrity!”


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California's coastal ecosystem — and the fisheries that depend on it — are in the grip of a huge disruption

by Tara Duggan

In the shallow waters off Elk, in Mendocino County, a crew from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife dived recently to survey the area’s urchin and abalone populations. Instead of slipping beneath a canopy of leafy bull kelp, which normally darkens the ocean floor like a forest, they found a barren landscape like something out of “The Lorax.”

A single large abalone scaled a bare kelp stalk, hunting a scrap to eat, while urchins clustered atop stark gray stone that is normally striped in colorful seaweed.

“When the urchins are starving and are desperate, they will leave the reef as bare rock,” said Cynthia Catton, an environmental scientist with Fish and Wildlife. Warm seawater has prevented the growth of kelp, the invertebrates’ main food source, so the urchins aren’t developing normally; the spiky shells of many are nearly empty. As a result, North Coast sea urchin divers have brought in only one-tenth of their normal haul this year.

The plight of urchins, abalones and the kelp forest is just one example of an extensive ongoing disruption of California’s coastal ecosystem — and the fisheries that depend on it — after several years of unusually warm ocean conditions and drought. Earlier this month, The Chronicle reported that scientists have discovered evidence in San Francisco Bay and its estuary of what is being called the planet’s sixth mass extinction, affecting species including chinook salmon and delta smelt.

Baby salmon are dying by the millions in drought-warmed rivers while en route to the ocean. Young oysters are being deformed or killed by ocean acidification. The Pacific sardine population has crashed, and both sardines and squid are migrating to unusual new places. And Dungeness crab was devastated last year by an unprecedented toxic algal bloom that delayed the opening of its season for four months.

The collapses are taking a financial toll on the state’s seafood industry. A report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released Wednesday showed the California fishing harvest decreased in value by $109 million between 2014 and 2015, or by 43 percent.

The impact has already been felt in Bay Area homes. This summer, chinook salmon sold for more than $35 per pound in some markets, about 50 percent higher than in previous years. The absence of Dungeness crab during the 2015 holidays jarred many locals, though the Bay Area’s favorite crustacean is still slated to return to tables on Nov. 15, when the 2016 commercial season is scheduled to begin.

More disturbing are signs that the recent changes to the Pacific Ocean could represent the new normal.

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Chinook Salmon

The issues:

Drought and warm river conditions impede reproduction and salmon’s ability to make the journey from river to ocean and back again. Some runs of salmon face extinction.

Commercial season:

May through September and part of October

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The five-year drought has had a dramatic impact on this already challenged population of native fish. Salmon caught by local fishers outside of the Golden Gate are part of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta system, which has four different seasonal spawning runs. The salmon that reach our markets are the fall and late-fall run, migrating from July to December and mid-October to December.

Most native salmon’s original spawning grounds have been disrupted by dams in the river system, so they are dependent on two factors: how much it rains and/or the amount of water that state officials decide to release into the river during drought. When the river water was too warm in 2014 and 2015, 95 percent of winter-run baby and juvenile salmon died.

Salmon take several years to mature, which means that during the last few salmon seasons the fish were born under traumatic conditions. The 2016 season, which just ended, was also hampered by the late crab season, which kept gear and crabbers out in the water later.

The Bay Institute, along with Natural Resources Defense Council and other organizations, has been working since 1998 to reconnect part of the San Joaquin River to San Francisco Bay that had been disconnected since the 1950s. When the restoration is complete, it could restore the runs of 30,000 spring and fall-run salmon every year.

“Weather and climate are two very closely related things that are difficult to tease apart. What is short-term variable weather versus long-term climate change?” said Toby Garfield, director of the Environmental Research Division at San Diego’s NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Lab. “Almost any scientist you talk to would say, ‘Yes, the climate is changing, and we’re seeing a lot of variability.’”

But, Garfield added, “Most agencies are working very hard to understand what these changes are.”

Not hard to understand is the financial hit the state’s fisheries have taken. Last year’s Dungeness crab season, normally one of the most lucrative fisheries in the state, brought in $37 million, far less than the average $68 million over the previous five years. The chinook salmon harvest dropped by two-thirds between 2013 and 2015, cutting fishers’ earnings to $8 million from $22.7 million. Many in the industry think this year’s numbers will be worse.

The causes of these dramatic changes are complex and loosely interrelated. The combination of a strong El Niño weather pattern, which warmed ocean waters last year, and a persistent patch of warm water near Alaska, colloquially known as the Warm Blob, caused toxic algal blooms to spike and fish to migrate erratically.

The Blob — Garfield prefers “North Pacific Marine Heat Wave” — is in a zone of atmospheric high pressure that diverts the winter storms that normally help cool down the ocean. While it first appeared in 2014 and is not influencing California coastal water temperatures the way it did last year, it’s still an unusual phenomenon that can be self-perpetuating. The Blob’s staying power and the gradual rise of global ocean temperatures fuel concerns that there could be an eventual repeat of last year’s crab disaster.

“Temperature really impacts the growth of many of these species. They’ve evolved in a very specific temperature range and suddenly that’s getting out of whack,” said Garfield. “It’s really impacting their growth and development in ways that we’re just beginning to understand.”

Sardines and squid, two hallmarks of local seafood, usually spawn off of California, but as warm water pushed them north last year, both sardines and squid laid eggs near Oregon and even Alaska. In 2015, almost 3 million pounds of squid were harvested off Oregon, which hadn’t seen a big catch since the 1980s. Meanwhile, California’s squid harvest, normally the largest in the country and worth $73 million, dropped by 64 percent between 2014 and 2015.

Pacific sardines are in even greater decline. The population, which naturally fluctuates a great deal, is estimated at one-tenth of what it was in 2007, when the fishery was worth $8.2 million. Because of the decline, that fishery has been closed for the past two years, though the recent warm ocean temperatures have had an impact, too.

The overall situation is dire, so many scientists and fishers are taking aggressive steps to deal with the changes.

Hog Island Oyster Co. in Tomales Bay has been plagued by ocean acidification, caused as carbon is absorbed by the ocean — a result of climate change. This has limited the supply of seed stock the company needs to grow oysters.

“To us what’s scary is not just the change in ocean chemistry, it’s the rate of change,” said co-owner John Finger.

Because the problem will only worsen as more carbon is absorbed, Hog Island is building a hatchery to produce its own seed and breed oysters that Finger hopes can better withstand acidification.

“Unless you have your head in the sand, you realize this is going to get drastically worse,” said Finger. “We need to have more seed production in various places because we don’t know what the patterns are for this.”

The Golden Gate Salmon Association has been trucking baby salmon to the ocean rather than risk the fish dying on the perilous trip from their birthplace in the Sacramento River down to San Francisco Bay. A new study from the Bay Institute concluded that so little water is flowing through the bay and its estuary — because of diversions for urban and Central Valley farm use — that some salmon and other native species are facing extinction. By some estimates, 80 percent of California’s native freshwater fish species could be gone by 2100.

Salmon fishers and crabbers, meanwhile, are trying to adjust to the new seascape. Some are chartering their boats for recreational fishing while they wait for things to improve.

Somewhat ironically, with more squid moving north from their normal Southern California environs lately, Northern California has had some banner squid years. Earlier this month, Larry Collins of the San Francisco Community Fishing Association at Pier 45 had to show up at midnight several times to receive ton after ton of squid caught near the Farallon Islands or off Ocean Beach.

“There’s just miles of squid out there,” he said at the time.

Kelp loss in Northern California

Based on aerial photos taken at different sites on the North Coast, aerial images show a dramatic decrease in kelp forests, which sustain red urchin, abalone and thousands of other species. While 2008 was a good kelp year, the images from 2014 show effects of the Warm Blob, warm water conditions that caused a severe reduction in kelp.

The California coast is part of what is normally one of the most productive fisheries in the world. Winds that run southward down the West Coast push surface water offshore, allowing deeper, nutrient-rich water to come up and feed seaweed and phytoplankton. That sets the food chain in motion for zooplankton, including krill, which in turn nourish an incredibly diverse ecosystem of marine mammals and larger fish like the chinook.

“Our salmon have some of the highest omega-3 content and best flavor of any salmon in the world,” said John McManus of the Golden Gate Salmon Association. “There’s a section of the population that recognizes that and is willing to pay for real, honest-to-god king salmon.”

In an opinion page article in The Chronicle in August, Alice Waters of Chez Panisse and Patricia Unterman of Hayes Street Grill argued for better protection of chinook salmon and rebuilding of its runs, citing its importance in the region’s culture.

“Every year, the return of salmon is eagerly anticipated by California fishermen, restaurants and the public,” they wrote.

Catton, the Fish and Wildlife scientist, is concerned both about the sustainability of local marine species like salmon and urchin, and the entire state fishery. Urchin divers usually augment their income with crabbing and salmon fishing, but as those are no longer lucrative, many divers are working construction instead, she said.

“Many of them have weathered a lot of these good times and bad times,” she said. “They say it’s a cycle. Kelp comes and kelp goes.”

What’s different this time, she said, is the kelp forests have never been quite this bare.

(The San Francisco Chronicle)

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by Dennis Prager

To the students and faculty of our high school:

I am your new principal, and honored to be so. There is no greater calling than to teach young people.

I would like to apprise you of some important changes coming to our school. I am making these changes because I am convinced that most of the ideas that have dominated public education in America have worked against you, against your teachers and against our country.

First, this school will no longer honor race or ethnicity. I could not care less if your racial makeup is black, brown, red, yellow or white. I could not care less if your origins are African, Latin American, Asian or European, or if your ancestors arrived here on the Mayflower or on slave ships. The only identity I care about, the only one this school will recognize, is your individual identity -- your character, your scholarship, your humanity. And the only national identity this school will care about is American.

This is an American public school, and American public schools were created to make better Americans. If you wish to affirm an ethnic, racial or religious identity through school, you will have to go elsewhere. We will end all ethnicity, race and non-American nationality-based celebrations. They undermine the motto of America , one of its three central values -- E pluribus unum, "from many, one." And this school will be guided by America's values. This includes all after-school clubs. I will not authorize clubs that divide students based on any identities. This includes race, language, religion, sexual orientation or whatever else may become in vogue in a society divided by political correctness.

Your clubs will be based on interests and passions, not blood, ethnic, racial or other physically defined ties. Those clubs just cultivate narcissism -- an unhealthy preoccupation with the self -- while the purpose of education is to get you to think beyond yourself. So we will have clubs that transport you to the wonders and glories of art, music, astronomy, languages you do not already speak, carpentry and more. If the only extracurricular activities you can imagine being interested in are those based on ethnic, racial or sexual identity, that means that little outside of yourself really interests you.

Second, I am uninterested in whether English is your native language. My only interest in terms of language is that you leave this school speaking and writing English as fluently as possible. The English language has united America 's citizens for over 200 years, and it will unite us at this school. It is one of the indispensable reasons this country of immigrants has always come to be one country. And if you leave this school without excellent English language skills, I would be remiss in my duty to ensure that you will be prepared to successfully compete in the American job market. We will learn other languages here -- it is deplorable that most Americans only speak English -- but if you want classes taught in your native language rather than in English, this is not your school.

Third, because I regard learning as a sacred endeavor, everything in this school will reflect learning's elevated status. This means, among other things, that you and your teachers will dress accordingly. Many people in our society dress more formally for Hollywood events than for church or school. These people have their priorities backward. Therefore, there will be a formal dress code at this school.

Fourth, no obscene language will be tolerated anywhere on this school's property -- whether in class, in the hallways or at athletic events. If you can't speak without using the f-word, you can't speak. By obscene language I mean the words banned by the Federal Communications Commission, plus epithets such as "Nigger," even when used by one black student to address another black, or "bitch," even when addressed by a girl to a girlfriend. It is my intent that by the time you leave this school, you will be among the few your age to instinctively distinguish between the elevated and the degraded, the holy and the obscene.

Fifth, we will end all self-esteem programs. In this school, self-esteem will be attained in only one way — the way people attained it until decided otherwise a generation ago — by earning it. One immediate consequence is that there will be one valedictorian, not eight.

Sixth, and last, I am reorienting the school toward academics and away from politics and propaganda. No more time will be devoted to scaring you about smoking and caffeine, or terrifying you about sexual harassment or global warming. No more semesters will be devoted to condom wearing and teaching you to regard sexual relations as only or primarily a health issue... There will be no more attempts to convince you that you are a victim because you are not white, or not male, or not heterosexual or not Christian. We will have failed if any one of you graduates this school and does not consider him or herself inordinately fortunate -- to be alive and to be an American.

Now, please stand and join me in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of our country. As many of you do not know the words, your teachers will hand them out to you. Pass this along if you agree… If not, delete and later regret it.

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* * *


Janie Rezner wrote under the subject: the dreadful Pipeline...: "I keep wanting to do something about the terrible pipeline and what is happening to the indian tribes. If I lived closer I would probably go, altho it appears to be rather dangerous. I just wonder if 1000's of us from all around the world, came, professing PEACE, what could they do? Shoot us all? I would love to go, wouldn't you? Something to think about…"

* * *

The title is perfect for a Lemony Snicket book. (It would be The Dreadful Pipeline, by Lemony Snicket.) But the plot, the whole story really, uncannily follows Richard Brautigan's The Hawkline Monster: A Gothic Western. I'm not going into all the details here; you can read it in an hour and see for yourself. I'm reading all the Richard Brautigan books again. I got a collection but I don't see anywhere here The Abortion: a 1966 Romance, about Vita (say VEE-ta), a young lady ashamed of being so beautiful because of the results. For example: she's just out walking and a man driving by is stunned by her beauty; he can't take his eyes off her and so he crashes into a moving train. The description of Vita matches Magic Child and Miss Hawkline (twins) in The Hawkline Monster. Also I don't have Revenge of the Lawn.

Marco McClean

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Father Luciano Osuna, A Priest Among The Indians — He was barefooted, unwashed, uncombed…

by Father John Dwyer

(Without any doubt the priest of the old Grass Valley Diocese with the most unusual life style, and the most difficult mission of all was Father Luciano Osuna, a native of Guadalajara, Mexico.)

Bishop O’Connell, in a letter to Rome in 1869, tells the story of Father Osuna’s arrival. Shortly after his coming as Vicar Apostolic in 1861, Bishop O’Connell became aware that his Vicariate contained many American Indians scattered throughout the territory. After consulting Archbishop Alemany, who had a similar problem, and with the archbishop’s consent and promise of equal support, Bishop O’Connell was able to obtain a seminarian volunteer from the Archbishop of Guadalajara in the person of Luciano Osuna.

This young man arrived in San Francisco at the end of 1862 and on New Year’s Day in 1863 the exiled Bishop of Sonora, Mexico, Pedro Losa, conferred the Tonsure and minor orders on Luciano Osuna in St Francis Church in San Francisco. Three days later Luciano was ordained a subdeacon, and on the feast of Epiphany he was made a deacon. Priesthood was conferred on him by the archbishop on January 11, 1863.

The main problem with Father Osuna’s assignment was that it covered both dioceses. The Indians were indeed scattered but the principal concentrations were in Sonoma and Napa counties in the archdiocese, and in Lake – Mendocino through which the diocesan boundary ran, but most of these two counties was in the Marysville Vicariate. Evidently, Bishop O’Connell was the ordinary to whom Father Osuna was subject. His principal place of residence in the early years seems to have been Mendocino (City) where at times he was an assistant, filled in as pastor at times, but gradually became more involved with his Indian parishioners and less and less was seen in Mendocino.

We have evidence, for example, that in the summer of 1873 he made a missionary journey which included visits to the Indians near Stockton, Mokelumne, Knights Ferry, Ukiah and Cloverdale. It was his intention to visit the Indians near Covelo in upper Mendocino County before the winter of that year.

A letter from him written on August 29, 1872, describes his life style to some degree. “I have been with the Indians most of the time; they are sick and so I am hungry with them.

We have no place to live, nothing to do to work for our living. They had good crops but we have nothing to eat. As winter is nigh we must take hold of every chance, lest by some neglect some of these little ones perish, obliged to pass the winter with the rain upon their heads, and with empty stomachs.”

Father Osuna did indeed visit the Indian reservation called Round Valley in Mendocino County, under the care of a new Indian agent, a Methodist minister named J.L. Burchard. Father Osuna and the first Indian agent, J.L. Gibson, had gotten along well, but the new agent brought with him some prejudices which were to work against Father Osuna’s free and easy ways with the Indians. Evidently when Father Osuna arrived at the reservation he went directly to their cabins without any formality or permissions. The new agent would insist on these formalities.

Father Osuna was very much pro Indian and a champion of their rights. On one occasion he wrote: Every day I am convinced more of the necessity of caring for the Indians, much more because the Indians have become the prey of all, and they have no one to offer a friendly hand.” The priest adopted so much the Indian way of life that he taught the men even in the “sweat houses” where they spent the night, thus keeping them awake, according to his accusers, and preventing them from doing their best work on the following day.

When the Indian agent was unable to prevent the priest from visiting and teaching the Indians he had him arrested, even accused him of insanity and eventually was able to ban him from visiting the Round Valley Reservation. During the period of arrests and trips to the commander of the military post and to the Justice of the Peace in Ukiah, these men wrote letters to Archbishop Alemany recommending how the archbishop might resolve the conflict. The descriptions of Father Osuna by the accusing Indian agent reads: “He was barefooted, unwashed, uncombed, torn robe, cow manure and mud between his toes and on his feet.”

The Justice of Peace in his letter wrote: “Here and elsewhere Father Luciano is very much esteemed. His present personal condition of dress etc. might not commend him to strangers.”

Bishop O’Connell’s reaction to the treatment of Father Osuna by the Indian agent is a classic. “In order to give over the Indians to Christianity, Padre Osuna conforms to their mode of living. He goes without shoes and wears sandals; therefore he is insane! He eats, drinks and sleeps after the fashion of the Indians; therefore he is insane! I wonder what our feather bed officer would say if he saw St John the Baptist in the desert or on the banks of the Jordan. No doubt he would pronounce him insane and a fit subject for Stockton lunatic asylum.”

After Father Osuna was finally banned from visiting the reservation, the archbishop and Bishop O’Connell did two things. They appealed the case to Washington through the offices of the Catholic Commissioner for Indian Missions and requested permission to build a Catholic chapel and rectory on the reservation to serve not only the Indians within its confines but those as well who lived outside. The latter request was denied on May 14, 1875.

As a result the bishops, using Pious Fund monies, bought 160 acres of land at Big Valley in Lake County for $5,000 and there constructed a chapel, rectory and barns and appointed Father Osuna the director of a very unique program for the Indians which differed totally in concept from the approach of the Franciscan padres who founded California’s Mission system.

St. Turibius
St. Turibius

St Turibius Mission was surrounded by many Indian cabins and the ranch employed more than 100 Indians who were self-supporting and independent. Father Osuna administered this dream of his until 1879 when he returned to Mexico after 17 years missionary endeavors in Northern California. Perhaps someday a student of Sociology will study in depth his unique solution to Christianizing and developing the Indians into self-reliant individuals, an experiment which was certainly different from any previously tried program in the West. Father Luciano Osuna certainly carved out a unique nitch in the development of the Church in northern California.

(Published originally June 10, 1976 in the Catholic Herald)

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Later This Month:

History of Boogie Woogie with Wendy DeWitt


Nov. 15th @ 6:30pm

Thursday, Nov. 3rd @ 5pm

We will be showing the animated movie Zootopia in the Children's Library. "In a city of anthropomorphic animals, a rookie bunny cop and a cynical con artist fox must work together to uncover a conspiracy." 108 mins, Rated PG. We will also be having our monthly Friends of the Library Book Sale on Saturday, Nov. 5th @ 10am-3:30pm. Find a new favorite book at our monthly Friends of the Library book sale! All proceeds benefit the Library. Try your luck, you could win 4 tickets to Disneyland at the Friends of the Library Raffle! Stop by the Ukiah Library or the Nov. 5th Book Sale to purchase your raffle tickets. We are hosting a weekly drop-in writing group to celebrate National Novel Writing Month. Join a community of writers & get your novel out there! This relaxed format allows writers to work independently while surrounded by other writers typing away. Free coffee will be provided. Weekly drop-in reading, art, & writing (RAWR) club for teens. Hang out & write, make art, & talk about books with other teens. Snacks provided. Rotation is every two weeks - i.e.: reading, reading, art, art, writing, writing, repeat.

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The Mendocino County UC Inland Master Gardener program is accepting applications NOW! Applications will be reviewed for the 2017 training in Ukiah from January 11 thru April 2017. The training leads to UC certification as a Master Gardener Volunteer. Class space is limited so submit your application now. Details at ( or contact the UC Cooperative Extension at 707-463-4495 or MG Coordinator Wendy Roberts at 707-937-4702 (

Potential applicants are encouraged to attend an informational meeting on Wednesday, November 16 at 1:30pm at the UC Extension office at 890 N Bush Street (corner of Bush and Low Gap) in Ukiah.

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5150 PATROL, Mendocino County


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Hi Folks,

I rarely send political emails but we live in strange times so please know I do this because the fate of human life and many other species is at stake.

I believe that Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump tapped into a growing dissatisfaction with the status quo of corporate domination of our government. While Sanders would have challenged parts of it and Trump would probably challenge very little of it, there actually is a presidential candidate on the ballot in most states who will if elected bring about much good for increasing the chance humans will be here in 100 years, living with environmental justice. This is Jill Stein (with Ajamu Baraka as VP). She is a medical doctor, well educated, with a plan that holds together logically (unlike the hodgepodge of campaign promises from the Democrat and Republican candidates). A "Green New Deal" and free college will be paid for by cutting the military deeply. What we need for defense is a fraction of what we spend sending weapons to both sides of conflicts (for the benefit of military contractors' profits). All those weapons manufacturing workers can work in a greatly expanded renewable energy industry - good jobs, not low-paying retail jobs that come about moving so much manufacturing overseas. Dr. Stein did participate alongside the debates that did not allow anyone but the 2 major party candidates; her responses were like fresh air compared with the polluted exchange of insults. Democracy Now! website and have more information along with Jill Stein's facebook page.

You may be thinking "a vote for Jill is a vote against Hill". If you live in a state with a large Clinton lead, that is not a problem. After all, if Stein gets 5% or more of the vote nationwide, the Green Party will automatically be on the ballot in all states. That will eliminate the costly sisyphian task of getting ballot access for each election.

I have voted for the "lesser of two evils" for many years. It has gotten us greater and greater evils as we can see this time around. If you are moved to a more libertarian direction, getting that party over 5% is an option. Not my first choice, but having 3 or 4 instead of 2 major parties would be a good thing. It's an uphill battle to get to instant runoff voting (where if your first choice is eliminated, your second choice is then tabulated) or a parliamentary system, but not impossible.

Because there are real choices for president, there is no reason to not vote because you do not like Trump or Clinton. Please do cast a presidential vote.

While Clinton changed her positions a little in response to Sanders' run, I do not expect her to actually deviate from her militarism and favorable treatment of large corporations. While Trump was once a Democrat and his foreign policy is a mix of libertarian and hawk, I expect his and Clinton's to not differ that much. Domestically there is much difference. If you are in a swing state the lesser of 2 evils vote may be your best option. In CA though, I am voting Stein.

Lastly, there are some great progressives running for Senate and the U.S. House. Check them out too.

Bill Taylor, Redwood Valley



Here's a handy list of upcoming Guild events at 8650 East Rd (the big yellow hall)--- there's a lot going on:

Thursday, November 3rd, doors open at 6:30pm, film starts at 7pm -- The Best Democracy Money Can Buy Pre-election showing of journalist Greg Pallast's new movie about eliminating voters from the rolls.

Saturday, November 5th, 9am-2pm -- Guild Yard Sale Back by popular demand, contact Roxanne Boyle at if you want to be a seller.

Sunday, November 6th, 2-5pm or 3-6 PM -- Mendo Stands with Standing Rock Teach In, Cultural Ceremony and Fundraiser, co-sponsored with the Coyote Valley band of Pomo people. Donations of warm clothing, propane tanks, etc. may be brought.

Thursday, November 17th, potluck at 6pm followed by meeting -- next RVC Guild regular meeting -- Elections!

Saturday, December 10th -- Holiday Crafts Fair and Santa's Workshop

Bill Taylor 707-272-1688

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On October 11, 2016 a loving family lost their beautiful 7 month old son to SIDS. The pain of this loss is great enough without the second tragedy of this occasion. Zeke was a foster child of Mendocino County. He has been in the care of Michael and Tony Johnson from the time he was 5 days old. Because of due process, a hearing to terminate parental rights was set for November 3, 2016, only 23 short days away from the day he passed.

This means that Michael and Tony do not have the right to bury their child. They are not awarded the opportunity to grieve the loss of their baby boy appropriately, to lay him to rest surrounded by the people who have loved him from the moment he blessed their lives.

Zeke's biological parents did not know him. They did not hold him in their arms and tell him about the world. They did not dry his tears, they did not watch as he giggled about anything and everything. They did not give any indication that they had any interest in his future while he alive and thriving and they no part in making him feel loved.

According to law, Michael and Tony now have no rights over where Zeke will be laid to rest. They have no rights, period. Mike and Tony were the only parents Zeke ever knew.

A system that causes this much suffering to the people they ask so much from should be seriously evaluated and modified. Foster parents should have the right to grieve the same as any other parent who has suffered such a loss to their family.

This story would have been different had the biological parents shown any interest in having Zeke returned to their care but that did not happen. Had Zeke lived an additional 23 days they would signed over all rights. Please help us change this system. Don't let others suffer in the way this family has been made to suffer. Help inspire legislation that will give foster parents a voice the next time this happens.

If you feel the system has failed Mike and Tony please sign the petition.

* * *


Help us celebrate our December First Friday fundraiser in downtown Fort Bragg. Noyo Printworks will be displaying prints of the many techniques created in this community studio since opening in April, 2015. Both framed and unframed work will be available for sale, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting Flockworks.

Noyo Printworks has taken the boys' locker room in the old Recreation Center of City Hall and transformed it into a compact, beautifully functional printmaking studio, with an etching press for monoprinting, solar plates, and drypoint; a letterpress and type for broadsides, cards, and book arts; and facilities for all kinds of relief printing. Artist-led studio groups share expertise, comradery, and inspiration, while workshops and classes continue to be shaped and expanded.

The City of Fort Bragg generously provided the space over the last two years, enabling Flockworks to incubate this project. Noyo Printworks is a true community venture, relying on the contributions of many to become a reality.

Noyo Printworks is located at 213 Laurel Street, Fort Bragg

The First Annual Print Sale will be open to the public on:

Friday, December 2nd (1st Friday) from 5 to 8 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday, December 3rd and 4th from 11 to 5

Following two Saturdays, December 10th and 17th from 11 to 5

* * *


How many fucking Polls are there now? Too many to count — and each one as fraudulent and as worthless as the next except in the sense they sell the anointed one and make it look like a Horserace even though the race has already been won.

I suggest, highly suggest actually, that they start naming these polls like they do College Football Bowl Games or Pro Sports Stadiums. Hell, I’d even settle for naming them like they name Hurricanes.

In fact, why coerce people to vote at all or even go through the archaic motion of voting when we have all these Polls to tell us who the Winner is. Let’s just leave it to the Polls. On November 8th, we can have A Million Polls conducted, maybe more, and then we can take the average of them and that will be the Winner. Yey! Think of all the gas we’ll save by precluding people from driving to Voting Booths and creating Traffic Jams.

What’s not to like about this plan?

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For the month of December, local artists Spencer Brewer & Esther Siegel will have an exclusive art exhibit at The Corner Gallery in Ukiah. Spencer & Esther share a passion creating quirky and fantastical pieces of art out of re-purposed, or ‘found art’ materials. From the whimsical and humorous to the punk and dark, each one of their pieces are one-of-a-kind compositions which inspire viewers with a sense of delight, surprise and sometimes awe.

Earlier this year they were part of the Grace Hudson Museum’s highly successful ‘In the Construction Zone’ Assemblage Art Show which featured seven of Mendocino County’s finest sculptures. Working both separately and as a team, Spencer and Esther confer regularly on their artwork. “We don’t always have the same vision, but we always listen and that feedback can open new doors.” Esther is attracted to working with found objects because doing so takes her on a fun and unexpected journey that begins with discovering an object, then ends with creating a fresh new purpose for that object in the world. Her art ranges from Twisted Toasters to Altered Barbies, Book Art to Space Age lights. For most of Spencer's life his focus was on the piano and working on vintage mechanical musical wonders. This gave him the opportunity to collect unique and obscure vintage mechanical objects along the way. “I love 60-150 year-old beautifully designed parts and objects for their graphic design and engineering. The industrial to the science fiction eras inspire me.”

Come meet the artists and see wondrous new pieces of art Friday, December 2nd from 5 to 8pm at Ukiah’s First Friday Art Walk at The Corner Gallery, 201 S State St in Ukiah. Wine and refreshments will be served at this festive holiday gathering. For more information call The Corner Gallery at 707-462-1400.


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