Press "Enter" to skip to content

Mendocino County Today: Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016

* * *

AFTER A SLOW DRIZZLY START the first couple days, the precipitation pace picked up Friday night and Saturday morning. Yorkville reports a total of 3.72 inches from this last storm, and their total for the season now stands at 20.88 inches. Forecasters say the next storm will arrive middle of the week and deliver another couple inches.

* * *



* * *


When Vernon and Charlene Rollins fled Boonville and their New Boonville Hotel in 1987, taking off in the middle of the night, it was probably the only way they could have escaped with some hope for their future.

With a boy child on the way, the Rollins' had become victims of their grand dreams of a country inn built around fine food. They got about a third of the way to their Yankee vision of a rural French inn before their numerous creditors, and the state's famously arbitrary labor office, made it impossible for the Rollins' to stay in business. If they'd tried to carry on the state would have closed them down for unfair labor practices, and they would have had to face the small army of creditors besieging them with no income to pay them so much as a dime on the dollar.

The Rollins' simply didn't have the money to do everything they tried to do in an aged structure that needed what Johnny Schmitt eventually came in and did to it — a ground-up physical rehab.

Before they got in so deep, Vernon and Charlene did accomplish a kind of miracle. Their food was so good, the gardens by the landscape geniuses Chris and Stephanie Tebbutt so spectacular, the bar so pleasant, the dining area so uniquely beguiling, that the national gastro-posse was soon saddled up and riding hard for “remote” Boonville, two hours and twenty minutes from downtown San Francisco.

Not that outside attention in the ineffable world of wine and food means much of anything to people outside it, but the Rollins' deserved every inch of praise they got even if most of it was buried in hype.

One hilariously straight-faced review said the food was “amazingly fresh because it came straight from the animal pen out back."

But the animals out back were a kind of Potemkin meat supply, a bedraggled petting zoo consisting of a few random-breed chickens, a sclerotic turkey, a pet pig, and several cats. None of the latter, presumably, ever got into the ragout, and you had to wonder even if they had would any of the foodies have noticed? Most of the Hotel's food began life in the Anderson Valley Market across the street, although the Rollins did buy what they could from local farmers which, conceptually at least, was a way for a few local producers to pick up a few dollars.

When people with money began showing up to eat at the Rollins' New Boonville Hotel, a lot of them noticed that land prices in the Anderson Valley were much lower than they were in the gilded provinces they came from, and a real estate boom commenced which, at the higher income levels, continues to this day. Working people were priced out and the three-million-dollar men moved in — a mil for the twenty acres and the over-large house, another mil for ten acres of grapes with Three Mil's florid face on the label, the third mil to live on. (To buy in these days, you'd need a lot more than $3 mil.)

The Rollins had fled Boonville in an escape vehicle belonging to David and Micki Colfax, which the Colfaxes traded to the Rollins' in exchange for help-yourself access to the Hotel's wine cellar and art collection. After the Colfaxes' had plundered the good stuff, the Hotel sat unguarded for a couple of months. But for the first 48 hours nobody but the Colfaxes knew where the Rollins had gone, or even if they were gone.

During the night hours of those first, confused two days, the Colfaxes were ferrying booze, books and art up to their homestead on Redwood Ridge west of Boonville while the Rollinses headed north on I-5 for the Oregon state line, their Colfax-provided get away car stuffed with the remnants of their lost lives in Boonville.

(Full disclosure: Colfax magnanimously gave me a couple of pieces of Hotel art that he didn't want. I've still got them, and Colfax has gone on to such an elected eminence as a supervisor that he no longer needs to rob abandoned hotels.)

While the money buzzards picked over the abandoned Hotel's carcass, it's probably a minor miracle the building didn't fall to the traditional means of exiting the restaurant business in Mendocino County — arson. Fort Bragg, also in '87, lost its venerable Piedmont Hotel, its library and justice court in one big night of unprosecuted fires when a nexus of restaurant owners, cocaine cowboys and crooked bankers went to war. If the Rollins' had torched the Boonville Hotel to pull themselves out of the red we would have lost the only public building the Valley has that goes all the way back to the Indian killers.

And it's a building of real historic significance: Jack and Charmian London stayed there, as did Frank James, brother of Jesse, born and raised in Confederate Missouri. Lots of contemporary luminaries have stayed at the Hotel since, none of them as splendid as Jack and Frank.

Today, the Boonville Hotel, revived by the Schmitt Family, is still the thriving landmark it has always been, and Vernon and Charlene Rollins are retiring from the second nationally famous restaurant they created near Ashland, just out of reach of their California creditors.

* * *


by Paul Payne

Where: Sonoma County Fairgrounds
When: Saturday, Dec. 10 & Sunday, Dec. 11, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Cost: $70 for day passes, 18-plus

The Emerald Cup runneth over.

Organizers of the two-day marijuana extravaganza at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds announced Friday afternoon that tickets for Saturday are sold out with only Sunday tickets remaining.

The popularity of the 13th annual event, expected to draw a record 30,000 people, speaks to the jubilation of cannabis-lovers in the wake of last month’s vote to legalize marijuana for recreational use through state Proposition 64, event founder Tim Blake said.

“It’s a massive celebration,” Blake said Friday. “We’re getting rid of 80 years of Reefer Madness.”

Last year’s event drew about 21,000 people.

The Emerald Cup, considered by insiders the Academy Awards of the pot industry, started in Mendocino County in 2003 and moved to Santa Rosa in 2013.

It features a county-fair-like competition to identify the best seeds, plants, edibles and other cannabis products. More than 1,100 entries — up from 850 last year — include 140 pounds of carefully trimmed bud.

Winning the equivalent of a blue ribbon in any category brings prestige. It can also lead to a windfall for contestants, who command more for their products with the recognition. A single winning seed has been known to fetch $50, Blake said.

“It’s like wine,” Blake said. “You win these gold medals and it’s tremendous for the brand.”

The event is also a celebration of cannabis culture, with sampling for medical marijuana card holders, food and music. Bob Marley’s son, Damian Marley, is headlining a long list of entertainers.

An educational panel of cannabis experts and government officials, including state Assemblyman Jim Wood of Healdsburg, will speak about upcoming regulation.

“If you’re looking for the party, it is here,” Blake said.

Gates open Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m. Tickets are $70.

Aficionados from all over Northern California are descending on Santa Rosa for the event. Many hotels reported being completely booked weeks in advance.

“We’ve been pretty much sold out for this weekend since November,” said Liz Gomez, a clerk at the Hotel La Rose near Railroad Square.

(The Santa Rosa Press Democrat)

* * *

WHAT A RELIEF to have the Emerald Cup nobility move their egofest to Sonoma County – it befits the more snobbish SoCo, to my mind, better than it ever did pedestrian venues like Area 101 or the Mateel.

At the end of my seventh year reporting on crime in Mendocino County, I have begun to glimpse a faint glimmer of understanding into the nature of what is colloquially called “the cannabis community,” and the reasons it is fraught with violent crime – for it must be said, that almost all the homicides, and many of the violent assaults, robberies and burglaries are directly related to the production and sale of marijuana – and while it is no surprise that the money for the product is at the root of the crime, it is also true that so is the social status, the personality cult that accrues to the growers, the ascendancy of the hippest, the coolest (the winner of the Emerald Cup being the apex of the local social triangle), for once you have the money the next human need is respectability, and therein germinates the seed of an ambition more ruthless than mere riches can inspire.

The pot people – “oh, how blasphemous! How dare you call our noble Cannabis Community ‘pot people’? We’ll ostracize you for that, damn you, Bruce McEwen” (and so you have) – I say, the pot pharm fops, of course, dress their cupidity and vanity in the faux wardrobe of ersatz humility, the studied proletarian-look, the fashionably agrarian style, as it were, in much the same way gentlemen tobacco farmers like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington did (and here in Mendoland we have our equivalent* of Parson Weems to knit, out of whole cloth, heart-warming yarns to fit figures like Fifth District Supervisor Dan Hamburg), while in fact they rarely do any physical work at all, concentrating all their charisma on chatting up potential buyers, concocting sales strategies and market development, branding their product with cutesy names, polishing their knuckles, and suchlike.

— Bruce McEwen

* * *

JOHN MARK, former member of the Small Farmers Association Board that recently resigned en masse (which was first reported here: …and responded to here by Julia Carrera:

…confirmed that Ms. Carrera was the reason for the mass resignations and explained more fully why they did it to the Mendocino Voice on-line news outlet:

* * *


Dear Editor,

Don't you think the most recent Mrs. Peter Keegan should sleep with a helmet on?



* * *

LITTLE DOG SAYS, “Raining and misting when it wasn't raining all day today in Boonville. Some dogs might get a little depressed. Not me. The Major has the whole place lit up in Christmas lights and the boss is playing Christmas songs sung by Pavarotti!”

* * *


This time in Willits

by Mark Scaramella

We stopped complaining about computers in the classroom decades ago because the train left the station and the educrats drank the Kool-Aid (pardon the double cliché) and no rational arguments were allowed. According to the lazy educational administrators at all levels computers somehow make students "job ready" (for mostly mythical jobs) and students as young as kindergartners need to be introduced to the highly distractive devices, never mind that kids need no help with technology as is obvious to everyone but school administrators.

There has never been an independent study not funded by computer and software vendors or techno-addicted educrats showing that computers actually improve academic performance. But none of that makes any difference when the computer vendors stand to make billions and self-alleged educators don't even make the slightest attempt to resist the techno onslaught.

But every so often a Mendoland computer fiasco is such a giant provocation that it just can't go unnoticed.

Last fall Willits High School spent $150,000 to provide Dell-brand Chromebooks (essentially bargain basement Macbooks) for every student in grades 7-12.

Hosannahs of praise erupted from the Willits school officials and students raved about getting free computers. The expenditure was accompanied by the usual edu-gibberish — narrow the digital divide, technology is necessary for jobs, easy to use, cheaper than textbooks, paper elimination, etc. (Interestingly, nobody even bothered to claim academic achievement would improve in their public statements before the purchase.)

The lamebrain Chromebook scheme was the brainchild of Willits School Superintendent Mark Westerburg who sold the idea to his captive School Board by claiming that the Chromebook would “narrow the gap between families of different incomes.”

“I’m really excited,” said Board President Christopher Neary, noting that the move “is sending a message to students that we’re serious about education.”

Trustee Georgeanne Croskey told the Willits News that she voted for it because “I had to learn a lot of those skills in college, and it’s great that we can teach students the skills in high school and eventually in middle school.”

So every Willits high school kid, rich or poor, gets a free laptop computer so they can get easier access to pornography, Internet conspiracy theories, reams of plagiarizable text, games, bad music, and endless streams of other extremely non-academic crap.

In the several local reports on what would have been another edu-scandal if anyone in authority had applied the vaunted “critical thinking” that schools say they promote, there was:

No mention of the cost of any edu-software for the computers or the cost of site licenses for commercial software.

No mention of how the computers will fit in with the high school curriculum.

No mention of any educational planning that preceded the purchase.

No list of educational uses or needs.

No evidence anybody asked what educational objectives the computers would advance.

No mention of training for teachers or administrators to use the computers or work them into their classroom activity.

No mention of the distraction factor.

No discussion of whether Internet learning sinks in more than book learning. (Hint: it doesn’t. In fact, computers make it harder because they encourage short attention spans.)

No mention of what happens when things go wrong with the computers — theft, student re-sale, replacement, loss, breakage, repair, etc.

Since we last complained about computers in the classroom years ago we’ve learned a wonderful new reason that computers have negative academic value: According to one study, "Tablets increased the number of excuses available for students not doing their schoolwork. Students have several new available excuses including ‘the tablet broke, the tablet froze, I forgot the tablet at home, I couldn't find my charger, it wouldn't recharge, it was too slow, I couldn’t get connected, etc.”

Last month, the Chromebooks finally arrived at Willits High School and within just a couple of weeks the latest issue of The Wolverine, Willits High School's occasional student newspaper, cranked out an unintentionally hilarious and unintentionally self-defeating student-written argument against the confounded machines breathlessy entitled "The Chromebook Experience" by students Max Pinelli and Carolyn Bakewell.

In it, Willits teachers and kids unanimously gush about the wonders of their new machines and the District’s installation of new WiFi hubs and recharging outlets as if Jesus Himself had handed them out.

"After just a few weeks of using the Chromebooks Willits High School student life has changed for the better,” write Pinelli and Bakewell.

“Classes can easily implement online components for student learning. Mrs. Walton said, ‘My students use the Chromebooks for vocabulary work, research and composition. I love them! I don't have to check out a computer cart, half of which didn't work, or walk my students down to the media center to use a computer lab, wasting at least 10 minutes of instructional time in the transition.”

(The same if not more could be said of not using computers at all.)

Mr. Conrad “shared”: “In physical education, if a student is out because of a medical condition, they can bring their Chromebook to class and use it for participation."

(A Chromebook for physical education? What do they do with it, one-arm curls?)

Mrs. Barrett “mentioned”: “I'm having my freshmen do a slide presentation and this works well. My other classes look up health disorders and use Quizlet, so they are actively using the Chromebooks.”

(Look up health disorders? Take quizzes? Wow! What amazing educational acvhievements! You could NEVER do that with stodgy old things like books and paper.)

“Teachers and students alike love this new tool. Grades are improving and engagement is going up.”

(No evidence was or has ever been provided that grades are improving nor that there’s any correlation between the Chromebooks and the “improvement.” At last check less than a third of the graduating class of 2016 Willits High was assessed “proficient” in math or English.)

“The Chromebooks are also leveling the playing field that some students did not have a computer or the Internet at home,” continued the student-reporters. “Now they can use their personal computer any time to do their work and when they arrive back on campus the information syncs up to the network delivering papers and essays and homework to name a few.”

(Better off kids get computers whether they need them or not, and poor kids get something that “levels the playing field” — with an emphasis on the word “playing.”)

“With these devices, work has become smoother and the whole school has benefited. The most important thing is now every student can succeed if they want to.”

(Apparently, in the centuries before computers, no one could succeed if they wanted to.)

Then we got the obligatory “cool” comments from the students themselves providing a better argument against the devices than any critic could ever dream up:

Senior Shmar Hudgens said, “I'm really glad to have my Chromebook because now I can get my work done at home and stay caught up.”

"I think the Chromebooks are cool and what I like best is I don't have carry heavy books around now,” said Elijah Keith.

(The Chromebook is clearly doing wonders for the education of the young Mr. Keith as shown in his uplifting facebook profile photo.)

Elijah Keith

"I think the laptop is a smart and cool thing,” said Jocelyn Castaneda.

“I think the laptops are cool because they are giving us a chance to learn from a new perspective. It can help us with notes and we don't have to write as much,” said Jade Pierce.

“I really like them, and I like that we can take them home and keep them with us,” said Asia Grant.

“Well, I think the Chromebooks are a great idea because now we don't need textbooks. And I can take it home so I am happy about that,” said Kayla Joe Williams

“It's not that heavy and it's nice to have for every class,” said Perla Hereda.

“It's cool because I have my own computer now,” said Michael Kittrell.

“Do students use their Chromebooks for other things besides school work?” the student-reporters asked.

“[Cheerleader] Haley Frahm excitedly answered: ‘The first tab on my Chromebook is Netflix,’ she said, ‘and the fourth tab is Youtube. As far as school goes my life is so much easier because I can get started on my work right away in class’."

(Oh great, instead of paying attention to the teacher or the instruction, Ms. Frahm is playing with her computer before the closing bell even rings.)

* * *

CATCH OF THE DAY, December 10, 2016

Arguelles, Cantaroni, Flores, Gladden

ERICK ARGUELLES, Fort Bragg. Failure to appear.

LAURA CANTARONI, Ukiah. Under influence, probation revocation.

CARLOS FLORES, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.

KENT GLADDEN, Ukiah. DUI causing injury, hit & run with injury or fatality.

Gonzales, Grijalba, Martin, McWhinney

ANGEL GONZALES, Clearlake/Willits. DUI.

ALEJANDRO GRIJALBA, Fort Bragg. Parole violation.

BRYAN MARTIN, Ukiah. Drunk in public, probation revocation.

ADRIAN MCWHINNEY, Ukiah. Probation revocation. (Frequent Flyer)

Owens, Pham, Wharton

RICKY OWENS, Boonville. Child endangerment, great bodily injury during commission of felony.

VUI PHAM, Carmichael/Talmage. Trespassing.

GERI WHARTON, Ukiah. Domestic battery, probation revocation.

* * *


* * *


With the prospect of a Trump appointment to the Supreme Court, Republican-led states continue to pass abortion restrictions. Ohio is the latest.

* * *

* * *


No farming, no gardening, no prepping and no guns for me; I don’t have the time and I would rather spend money on tools/supplies that actually help me in a business sense.

Come “Doomsday” I won’t “make it through the bottleneck”. Oh well, a good day to die as they say.

Frankly, I don’t really see how one can have one foot in the garden, one foot at the shooting range, and what body part in the workshop actually producing things?

Right now, for instance, I’m really getting into water gilding and carving period frames despite the inevitable futility of it all. For example a friend asked me why I’m bothering with the time and expense–gold leaf is not cheap– when somebody– most everybody in the market no doubt–will simply order an imitation gold leaf frame from China for a price that won’t even cover the cost of a pile of gesso and a dab of hyde glue.

I don’t really have an answer other than it somehow feels right at the moment.

* * *

* * *


The recording of last night's (2016-12-09) KNYO and KMEC Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show is available to download and keep and saunter jauntily about in, head and tail high, via

Also at you'll find links to a grand guignol of things to examine and absorb that wouldn't necessarily work via radio, for being mainly visual or requiring a lot of explanation, but that are nonetheless worthwhile, that I found while putting radio shows together. Items such as:

It's posture, posture, posture, if you want to get a job and have poise and create your own success and do credit to your school and to America.

Pleasantly sarcastic Russian comix.

And this is what genuine excitement about something genuinely exciting looks like. The feeling this young man fairly radiates is a real thing that you get around real Tesla coils. It’s a combination of every aspect of the experience, including the reek of ozone and a kind of prickly crawling but enjoyable sensation all over your body and also your eyeballs. Try it, you’ll see. Make one of your own; it’s really not all that hard. I still have three of the ones I made in the middle-late 1980s. Seeing this determines me to get them out of storage and play with them again.

Marco McClean

* * *


Funny how Americans have, just like the Confederacy, had their own way for decades and then, the moment things start to swing slightly the other way, they all decide they want to take their ball and go home and nobody can play anymore. Because basically, Americants are like children.

And we're not talking the bright, well-behaved children you see on 1950s televisions. We're talking the hyper-aggressive, sugar-fueled little monsters at the local Temple of Consumption running amok and drooling all over themselves and anything that comes within arms reach. We're talking short-bus, "remedial education" kids. The ones who are usually called by some nice middle-class euphemism like "special."

American Exceptionalism is sort of like that "special" child.

The one that drools all over himself and throws the game board in the air (or just nukes it) when things start going badly. Because who needs sustained effort or even to adhere to ones' professed principles when you own the ball, or the Monopoly board, right?

There's so much room for greatness in America, it's surprising the room is so empty.

* * *


Saturday In Berkeley

Went to the 14th Street address in Oakland for the alt. book & zine fest, only to find a taped note on the door of Venue Ballroom directing everyone to the Brower Center in Berkeley. So, I trudged off in the rain to get on BART once more. Have just spent a delightful afternoon at the fest, visiting with an amazing array of authors and artists. I don't know what happened to everybody whom I emailed to meet me at the originally scheduled Oakland fest location for pop-up performance planning, etcetera.  I remain interested in co-creating the critical-spiritual if you are. I'm just idle in Trump's psycho America presently. I await your reply immediately.

Craig Louis Stehr



  1. susan bridge-mount December 11, 2016

    Interesting blast from the past on Vernon and Charlene’s screwing of our local community and the folks who worked for them. I was one of them and worked during the summers as a bartender and later a wait person.

    Vernon was diligent in withdrawing all of the payroll taxes that we was allowed to. Eventually, those of us who saw our Social Security print outs, were shocked to see that the years we worked for the Rollins no taxes were taken from our paychecks. Didn’t take long to figure out Vernon pocked that money from everyone who worked at the hotel.

    Both Vernon and Charlene pulled off a huge scam on our community as well as the “foodies” who drove for hours to eat a meal that the staff were told to keep up the myth that all of the produce and chicken was grown locally. In reality trucks from afar delivered the ingredients.

    Cats in the kitchen – waiters served patrons home baked bread from bread baskets that were also the homes of the many kitchen cats.
    The deal was to toss the cats out of the baskets, shake out the napkin and put the bread in it and serve.

    Seduced by tasty food? Yes. Manipulated and criminally ripped off by scammers? YES.

    • james marmon December 11, 2016

      Take note that I was not among 31 arrested in that sweep.



  2. Craig Stehr December 11, 2016

    Writers’ Lunch: December 16, Noon-1:00pm 4th Floor Meeting Room with the Indie Publishing Working Group…Indie vs. Traditional Publishing: Six Things You Need to Know Before 2017. Free to all. No reservation required.
    Mechanics Institute, 57 Post Street, San Francisco, CA 94104.

  3. Harvey Reading December 11, 2016

    Re: Where Were You?

    How does ‘Trump’s psycho America’ differ from Obama’s, or the Clintons’, or the Bushes’, or Reagan’s, etc.? Have you been walking around blind all through these past nearly 5 decades, which is to say, where were you?

    • LouisBedrock December 11, 2016

      “Oh, where were you in Chicago?
      You know I didn’t see you there
      I didn’t see them crack your head or breathe the tear gas air
      Oh, where were you in Chicago?
      When the fight was being fought
      Oh, where were you in Chicago?
      ‘Cause I was in Detroit.”

      Phil Ochs

  4. John Sakowicz December 11, 2016

    Bruce McEwen — Writing like you do about the “pot people” will make you enemies, and maybe earn you a price on your head.

    Good for you!

    This tribe of egomaniacs need to be dissed. Most are uneducated, uninteresting, and would otherwise be unemployed, except for pot.

    I’ll go you one better, Mr. McEwen. The really ambitious among the pot people is the newly emergent class of “pot consultants”.

    Wanna get rich quick? Wanna get out in front of the gold rush?

    Then check out Steve DeAngelo and his team of ambitious advisers at the Arcview Group.


    If you’re a shyster, there’s no better business than selling advice. Just ask the gang at Goldman Sachs and all the other shysters on Wall Street.

    Which brings to mind my second reference.


  5. Randy Burke December 11, 2016

    Keegan Personal Protective Equipment(PPE) requirements per OSHA: Hard hat, eye protection, hearing ear plugs, hob nail/safety steel toed boots, Mouth restrictor, Kevlar vest, Kevlar underwear, and perhaps some penicillin. Oh yeah, and don’t forget the big RAT TRAP!!! along with percussion gear around bathrooms.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *