Press "Enter" to skip to content

Mendocino County Today: Friday, Dec. 16, 2016

* * *

REPORTED RAINFALL AMOUNTS ON THURSDAY for Mendocino County ranged from light (around half an inch or so) to moderate (over three inches) for some northern locations. Over the past two days Yorkville's season total jumped from 20.88 to 25.88 inches. With the rain finished for now, temps are expected to drop over the next few days bringing overnight temperatures to near freezing.

* * *


The three-plus inches of intense rain closed Highway 1 at mile marker 18 at the Garcia River (@ 12:20 pm) and CA-128 from the Navarro bridge to mile marker 11.63 (@ 1:09 pm Thursday).

The Navarro River, however, didn't "officially" reach flood stage until 3:15 when it hit 23.32' (flood stage is 23.0').

The river was disgorging an amazing 91,256 gallons of water PER SECOND into the Pacific ocean according to the USGS river gauge.

MENDOCINOSPORTSPLUS LISTENS TO THE SCANNER & has CHP & CalTrans links and stays on top of the closures with photos & video snips - the closures can vary in length. The last one lasted, oddly enough, 128 hours... Highway closed @ 12:20 pm today, CA-128 @ 1:09 pm - the Navarro River went over the 23.0' flood stage @ 3:15 pm.

Paul McCarthy

* * *

LITTLE DOG SAYS, "Wet weather like this, I just hang out in the greenhouse all day. The Pits from next door broke out of their yard and came over for a few hours. They were cool for a change, and all of us just lay around eating biscuits and grooving' to the raindrops fallen' on the roof."

* * *

AS EXPECTED, at Thursday’s Planning Commission meeting, the Commission again postponed the controversial Blackbird Farm expansion proposal which would increase the allowed occupancy from a modest 36 to a preposterous 292.

THE POSTPONED HEARING was not unexpected. Planning staff had said they were not ready to properly consider the application, but some 20 Anderson Valley residents attended the hearing, having driven over the hill in a steady downpour to express their concerns about the project and the planning documents.

WE’LL HAVE a more extensive report on the hearing in the next day or two, but here are a few highlights.

WHEN asked by Planning Commission Chair Molly Warner to keep comments brief because the Commission expected to postpone the hearing, everyone from the Anderson Valley respected the brevity request. The two young women representing Blackbird’s “educational side” rattled on chirpily about how open and transparent and friendly Blackbird was trying to be, going on and on and on so long that Planning Commissioner Jim Little was seen rolling his eyes in frustration. Finally, after the girls had exceeded, by far, their allotted three minute allowance, Chair Warner asked, “Are you going to be wrapping this up any time soon?”

SEVERAL NEIGHBORS of the charter school-funded cum resort enterprise deep in the hills above Philo, said they had received FedEx packages containing a long, highly legalistic proposed road agreement from Blackbird which Shenoa rep Dan Reed, “self-serving and disingenuous,” adding that he and his lawyer got a good laugh out of it. A Sonoma County woman named Margaret Peterson who also owns a large stretch of neighboring property agreed that it was self-serving and disingenuous, saying, “It’s very expensive and basically, under that agreement Blackbird does the road work and gets paid for it from us for doing it.

BLACKBIRD'S well-nourished attorney, Tom Johnson, blamed the road agreement problem on the neighbors, saying that the proposed agreement was just a proposal and that Blackbird was open to negotiation, but those darn neighbors hadn’t gotten back to him. Johnson, blandly insulting everyone in the room, also complained that the problem was really the County who imposed such an onerous requirement by calling for road agreements into Blackbird's remote site. How dare the neighbors desire a say about a huge traffic increase if Blackbird's urban plunk down is approved for the area?

MOST SHOCKING was an admission by Blackbird project manager, John Walker, that Blackbird's proposed capacity of 292 high end transients had been arrived at in response to a suggestion by (now retired) planner Fred Tarr. According to Walker, Blackbird asked Mr. Tarr what the maximum number of people that could be allowed at Blackbird Farm would be. According to Walker, Mr. Tarr then said 300, which Walker said he took to be a “magic number.” So Blackbird applied for 292 in the full expectation that the permit would sail through with ease because it was eight short of the magic number!

TARR was a planning staffer. Grandly setting applicant property capacities was not Tarr's job nor his to grant. The decider is the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors exercising a public/democratic process.

TARR’S IRRESPONSIBLE “MAGIC NUMBER” then essentially forced Mr. Tarr to prepare a “draft mitigated negative declaration” assuming that the 292 would be no problem because the 292 was below the 300 he (Tarr) alone had unilaterially established!

TARR could have provided Blackbird with guidelines, codes, previous permit samples, and unofficial opinions about the Farm’s plans. But telling Blackbird what Philo or Anderson Valley or Mendocino County would approve? That’s first degree professional misconduct that should have got him fired.

AND THE PLANNING COMMISSION — which is supposed to be the public’s first line of accountability and oversight of the Planning staff — said nothing to any of this. A planning staffer tells the Commission, the County and the public what’s acceptable and the Planning Commission doesn’t care that their function has been usurped?

SO HERE WE ARE with a preposterous proposal with no real evaluation or assessment, which is understandably generating a large negative uproar with neighbors and the Anderson Valley public, all because one irresponsible planner appointed himself as the final Blackbird Decider. And nobody in Official Mendo is bothered by this.

* * *

THIS WON'T be of interest to you auslanders, but Anderson Valley is unhappy that we've lost a doctor at our two-doctor health center in Boonville. The departed medico was a young, bi-lingual family guy in a community that is now at least half Spanish-speaking. Everyone liked him, everyone said he was "a perfect fit" and everyone is angry that he's gone.

DR. McGHAN was indeed a perfect fit for a disparate, fragmented community. He left because he thought the Center had reneged on part of his contract. He didn't leave nicely. He just walked out, leaving a week's worth of patients hanging. The doctor was clearly very, very angry.

SHOULDN'T HAVE HAPPENED. Should have been amicably worked out so McGhan wouldn't leave, whether or not he was correct about money owed him. He was too valuable to this community to lose. No one's irreplaceable? This guy came close.

AND HE was certainly well-paid at $160,000 a year plus a range of bennies plus, his first year here, free rent. A guy would have to be really, really frosted to walk out on that deal. Dollar to donuts he had a legitimate beef, a bona fide grievance.

HEALTH CENTER management made McGhan a belated offer to cover the money he felt he'd been screwed out of to get him to stay. But it was too late. He obviously felt insulted and, worse, or more ominously, felt he couldn't work under the present management of the place. Which means he's going to be hard to replace, for sure.

MAYBE the doctor's a nut, or a nickelnoser, or a prima donna, but if he's any or all of these negatives it escaped the notice of his patients, and they, presumably, are the true bottom line at the Anderson Valley Health Center.

SO, at the Boonville medical complex as of today, we have a doctor well into his golden years and an ace nurse practitioner supplemented by what seems like a small army of people walking around in white coats presumably conversant, to varying degrees, with the medical arts. Maybe that's all we need, a doctor and a nurse and a half dozen people in white coats.

WHO KNOWS what we need, or what the true numbers are or why the young doctor left? The board of directors — nine of them — are apparently without powers of speech, for all the communicating they do, thus creating the usual Mendolib public employment atmosphere of fear, rumor, secret slander, the knife in the back.

SO I GET THIS NOTE this morning by e-mail: "Hi Bruce, Chloe Guazzone, Heidi Knott and I would like to meet with you this week if possible to talk about the Health Center and your coverage.  Would you be available tomorrow afternoon after 3:30 or Thursday afternoon after 3:30?  We will come by the office if it is convenient.  Let me know. Kathy [Cox]"

I SAID NO. Nothing personal ladies, but N.O. And I make a virtual fetish of trying to be polite — ask anybody except my wife — but I knew out front what they were going to say so I asked them to write a letter, which they are unlikely to do because they know prose can be revelatory, especially when all you have to say is this: "Logan did us wrong, your coverage is destructive and both of you are bad people." In my case certainly, but I would defend the doctor.

LIBS love face meetings, especially meetings where the person or persons paid to be there gets everyone sitting in a circle and everyone introduces themselves and it's all smiles with this barely suppressed anxiety that expresses itself in constant chuckling with occasional arpeggios of insane laughter at ordinary pleasantries, and government donuts all-round.

WRITING DOWN what they want to say or complain about leaves much less room for manipulation and passo-aggresso maneuvering. But the circle people, the people who demand private meetings, know that their positions are weak, and explaining them in writing makes that clear to everyone.

NO, let's NOT talk privately. We all pay into the Health Center, so let's talk about it all right out there in public like big boys and girls so we can all judge the quality of the different versions of what's really going on at the Anderson Valley Health Center.

NINE PEOPLE sit on the Health Center's board of directors (and usually a token high school kid "because we care about the kids") but management really comes down to the three ladies above.

PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS should be transparent. This one never has been and, given the players, never will be.

* * *



This non-auslander thought the comments regarding the Anderson Valley Health Center (AVHC) posted on today's "Mendocino County Today" blog were fascinating, but not nearly as fascinating as discovering shortly thereafter that said comments had been silently withdrawn.

Reliance on the undo button was a distinctly suburban innovation. Perhaps you should add this newspaper to the list that appeared in yesterday's "Valley People" of local services that have been run off the rails by American modernization?

Assuming you still meant what you unsaid, I commend you for telling the AVHC board to take it to the public and for demanding better board governance instead of a larger board. Having just finished my first year as a local school board member, I think that's what's needed in this situation specifically and in local boards generally.

Finally, I almost thank you for praising my wife in a public forum instead of belittling me for sticking up for her.


Eric Arbanovella


* * *

BOONVILLE BOASTS what no other community in this civically eviscerated county can boast, a fifty-foot Christmas tree in the middle of our leading town, Boonville, perfectly shaped and arrayed with lights by Aaron Peterson and crew of All-In-One Tree Service. "You make the call; we cut 'em all." Thanks to the Boonville Hotel and the Petersons for a wonderful Christmas visual in the heart of the Anderson Valley. We highly recommend All-In-One for whatever tree needs you might have. They get in, get 'er done at a very reasonable rate 877-3340 / 272-7387 (cell)

* * *

IN OTHER NEWS from Mendocino County's most happening community, very soon the reincarnation of the famous Libby's Restaurant, this one called Lizbby's will open its doors in the long vacant premises of the Boonville Lodge. Lizbby's (please note the z), and please note that Lizbby's, working closely with Libby's, so closely that we understand the menu and recipes are now the property of Boonville's Alejandro Gutierrez-Silva to replicate. If he can, Mr. Gutierrez-Silva will instantly be as busy as the popular Libby's, late of Philo.

* * *

HACKSAW RIDGE, a movie note: How can you forget the Medal of Honor, the Blue Max, going to a C.O. conscientious objecting wee lad who wouldn’t carry a rifle, bless him. Just came in from the movie at the Ukiah Theater, and while it was a splendid tear-jerker and heart-thumper, I couldn’t recognize any of the landscape– and in the early 1970s I drove all over that island [Okinawa] every day, to work — Truck Company, HQ Battalion, 3rd Force Service Regiment. From the Naval port in Naha City (best breakfast on my route) to Camp Schawb in the “communist” North Sector, w/ chaser duty at the Judge Advocate General’s Office — and off duty, drove a ’57 Chevy Bel Aire all over the rest! from the the Perfume River, to the Seabees’ Camp on White Beach, I drove a lot of that really small island, and I have a hard time relating to a lot of the, uhmm, scenes in this flick, it kinda looks like a Bollywood mock-up of Nagagusku Castle.

(— Bruce McEwen)

* * *

HELD TO ANSWER. Robert Nelson Myers was held to answer by his namesake, Judge David Nelson, Wednesday, after a lengthy preliminary hearing that included a video of Mr. Myers sucker punching a United States Postal Service worker as this civil servant went about the postal duty on October 9, 2016. Defense attorney Al Kubanis offered only the faintest confidence in the case he was assigned, but this screwball, like all of us, gets his day in court. Full details to follow in the print edition!

(— Bruce McEwen)

(Ed note: Robert Myers was sent to state prison in 2011 for assault with a deadly weapon with great bodily injury with a gang enhancement. Supposedly for about five years. So it looks like he slugged the postal worker not long after being released from prison. He was on parole at the time of the sucker punch.)

* * *


by Rex Gressett

Derick Hoyle and Heidi Krause have resigned from the Fort Bragg planning commission. No public announcement was made and the Advocate did not cover it. I don't know if they went out of the back door or the front. But they are gone. Both were reliable cogs in the Linda Ruffing political machinery. It is of such loyalties that the incumbency was made. I am sorry to make a trite remark about rats leaving a sinking ship, but it does seem to be the most apt description of the event.

Both Derick and Heidi have distinguished themselves by apparently having no opinions whatsoever except for what the city management told them to have. Both of them thought and said that their obedience to the city managers authority was the substance of civic virtue as they perceived it. Derick ran for city council on that platform. The votes that he got were embarrassing by their insignificance but his appointment to the planning commission was a kindly and generous salve to his dented pride assuring him I guess that the people that count, not the voters, had his back.

Like a general surveying the wounded (in this case the dead) Linda Ruffing must be tallying up her losses solemnly. Dirty Doug Hammerstrom, who in no single conversation since his graduation long long ago has failed to mention that he has a fine legal mind, rolling thousands of eyes and who has thoughtfully used the state of California for a personal Kleenex is gone. So is trusty Scotty Dietz the utterly reliable who they sent to his early political demise as a pawn, and now Heidi Kruse the stolidly obtuse knee-jerk advocate for in-transparency in all things pertaining to the city management, and a committed defender of the unfettered authority of those who know better than the people what is good for them. Derick Hoyle is the same deal but with a different style somehow combining the sneer and the middle finger without making any outward physical gesture. Very impressive.

The planning commission under Derick Hoyle's tenure as chair fulfilled its mission to support the city manager and her anti Fort Bragg agenda without remote reference to law or public opinion, and certainly without anything like planning (for heavens sake) with a constancy that braved significant upheavals in public indignation.

These selfless planners were in one instance, the front line in Linda’s enterprise to railroad through the Hare Creek shopping center, throwing themselves as martyrs into the wrath of packed meetings that were actually the first of their kind.

I note in passing that it was at meetings opposing this shopping center on our beloved Hare Creek that we first saw the kind of super attendance that could be generated by social media, specifically the chats and which advent has altered the very substance of governance in our town. It happened first at the planning commission.

Undeterred by public outrage the planning commission continued with admirable diligence to fight for a reasonable railroading and they almost got us a giant shopping center that we did not want when by grace we got a reprieve. The deal went temporarily under when it turned out that in spite of the professional guidance of “experts” the planning commission had failed to notice that the city did not have the legal authority over the use of water that would be required for a project of that size. Water issues were over their heads I guess. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife who have been in a contentious struggle with the city over water issues for decades shot the fatal hole in the shopping center proposal. (You never read that in the Advocate). The planning commission that might be thought to have been tasked with understanding the limitations of water in a city that does not have any, responded with shocked bewilderment and loyally waited on the city manager for further instruction.

Being on the Planning commission, no small thing, (in their minds) and therefore as public figures, Derick and Heidi did not limit themselves to the efforts of the planning commission to do the right thing, and of course neither should they. They made themselves fighters for the city management agenda whenever they could with a selfless disregard for the people city. I recall vividly the memorable city council meeting when Overtime brewery kicked the city manger's ass, and were rewarded with tens of thousands of dollars in reduced fees which the city management had attempted in a perfectly legal and sinister manner to expropriate from them. It was memorable. I suggest you view it in the city archives. Heidi spoke at that meeting and made Linda’s case with real courage. It was a significant exposure of the strange but observable fact that for obscure but very real reasons this political contrivance between Linda Ruffing and her minions, who have had power for decades, opposes (believe it or not) prosperity in our city.

Heidi seeing her leader publicly rebuked, derided and publicly embarrassed by a mere minority on the council albeit in concert with a massive upwelling of public support, spoke right up acknowledging that the fees were excessive but expressing with even greater passion the divine right of the city to levy fees even when they were monstrous and unnecessary (least we be confused on that point). Her little oar did not quite reach the water but she tried.

In Machiavelli land to which we have been gently guided over decades by a city manager devoid of scruple, precipitous departure of the loyal is just another bump. It may have no effect. They hope not. But if into the vacuum men and women of responsibility and integrity assert themselves, just maybe real change could possibly be happening. Who will the new council appoint to the planning commission?

Also I have been taken to task in the letters to the editor section of the Advocate for using unreasonable terms like flunkies to describe city officials. My bad. I am actively seeking for a more gentile description of the behavior of appointments to positions of responsibility that flatly lack integrity.

Send me your suggestions and I will apply myself to moderation. But the substance of my accusation is simply that the rule of law has been ground into the dirt in our fair city of Fort Bragg when matters of public interest are in conflict with the private agenda of a power holding highly compensated and secretive elite devoted to obfuscation and deception acting in cooperation with their flunkies. Oh heck. If you have any ideas hurry.

* * *



In two months I will be eighty years old and at present--in real time--I'm having a late life crisis that includes morningmares in which I wake up in horror that I've not only wasted most of my life fighting the U.S. government but that I've also helped make the government stronger and more powerful in oppressing not only Americans but others throughout the world.

I moved to France three years ago to (1) distance myself from USA politics, (2) for spiritual growth, and (3) for travel/adventure. Because of the Internet and my "addiction" to stories of corruption in the US government, I've been having trouble with (1) and (2). As for (3), I'm totally blown away with some of the people and sights I've experienced in Europe and especially France, the joy and wonder of which is most probably saving what few wits I have left.

But after recent weeks of "dark nights of the soul" or more likely my ego, I'm beginning to see some progress with the help of a psychoanalyst across the street from the old folks home in which I live. Hey, my neighbor across the hall died yesterday and she was two years younger than me. So I figure I'm running out of time to clean-up my act. I sure don't want to bring any poubelle malodorante (smelly trash) into my next life.

What may be the catalyst that has forced my recent need for a quantum leap in consciousness is "Pizzagate," one of three of the most sordid political events in my lifetime, one of which as you very well know I've been obsessing on for more than a half century and that's what I call the "bipartisan execution of Pres. John Kennedy."

Some friends have called Pizzagate "fake news." I'm not convinced. Things I've been reading about for years such as the Skull and Bones initiation ritual and "the Finders" of the CIA tell me there is more than smoke here. But even if Pizzagate is indeed black propaganda, it is so disgusting that it needs to be exposed and the authors severely punished. If it's Trump getting even with the Clintons for Pussygate, the Donald needs to hang until at least speechless . . . for life.

Regardless my grief over Pizzagate is such that it pales nuclear war or even a global economic holocaust as some are predicting on the Internet right now, news of which delights my dark side like a ferret feasting--"See, see America has been in the control of fascists since the coup d'etat of 1963 like I've been trying to warn you for decades."

And even if Pizzagate is propaganda, it's from the likes of Dr. Joseph Goebbels and his mentor, Edward Bernays, both of whom reside next to the furnace in Hell. If I was POTUS, I'd put the entire might of the US intel community on the case. "Solve this in 24 hours or I want the resignations of every one of you directors. Then your deputies get the same demand until there's no one left in spook work to protect us from the aliens."

I DO have an idea where Pizzagate came from but the ferret in me has to do more digging. It's too outrageous and may be the reason Obama hasn't sicked the intel community on to it.

Every day the U.S. government is looking more and more like a banana republic. Even here in France--the sister country of the USA, where every anniversary of J-Jour ("D-Day"), entire French families in restored US Army vehicles, even tanks pilgrimage to the landing beaches dressed in period finery; US Army uniforms for the men and even some women, and for other women and children clothing that passes for 1944--some of the French are beginning to notice the stench coming from Washington. I tell them Trump is wrong. Washington isn't a swamp, it's a cesspool. There's a big difference. My French friends and neighbors shake their heads in disbelief or grief. Then I cheer them up by telling them about the Electoral College vote on 19 December, and regain in their good graces.

As for "grief," my little sister explains it to me as a "cosmic crisis," cosmic meaning from Greek--"an ordered world."

"The cosmos has lost its fundamental order and anyone listening to the news or reading a newspaper can certainly understand its significance," she writes. Then she goes on to define "bereavement" which comes from the word "reave" meaning to be "dispossessed" and that something important has been taken."

My sis was a Catholic nun for five years and in my estimation makes more sense than most priests I've known. She ended her sermon I received this morning on a high note quoting Albert Camus, "In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there is within me an invincible summer."

I hope this makes sense, Bruce.  And if you want to share it with your readers, I'm not the least embarrassed. I agree with Phillip Roth who once said, "Nothing bad ever happens to a writer. Everything is material."

And . . . I'm down but I'm not out.


Tom Cahill

Cluny, France

* * *

FROM THE AVA WRITER who brought you "The Goldeneye Diaries" and "Peanut Butter Crank and the Possum Baby" comes the hilarious and definitive book on wine harvesting.

"Delmore's version is sharply observed and self-aware, with enough humor to leaven the self-indulgence." —Wine Spectator.

Available now in paperback and Kindle on"

* * *

CATCH OF THE DAY, December 15, 2016

Chiles, Joaquin, Lawson, McPherson

CHRISTOL CHILES, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.

DAVID JOAQUIN, Covelo. Burglary, vandalism, conspiracy, resisting, probation revocation.

BRANDON LAWSON, Willits. Failure to appear.

WILLIAM MCPHERSON, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

Sheddan, Soto-Soto, Stone, Wilcox

SUSAN SHEDDAN, Ukiah. Under influence.

JAVIER SOTO-SOTO, Clearlake/Ukiah. DUI.

JOSHUA STONE, Ukiah. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, dirk-dagger, suspended license, probation revocation.

JASON WILCOX, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public, trespassing.

* * *


Geez, I’m watching the media react to President-elect Trump’s cabinet picks — ‘specially NPR and PBS — and I can’t help compare it to how they reacted to Obama 8 years ago. Remember that? To begin with Obama was the Messiah come down from Heaven — the most saintly, intelligent man ever to hold that office. And his cabinet choices, beginning with Timothy Geitner and Hillary Clinton and Van Jones, were inspired, insightful, the work of a genius. Trump’s nominees are problematic, questionable. Are they Nazis, Klan members with a secret agenda? No evidence of that, but we’re just raising the question.

* * *


by Dan Bacher

Governor Jerry Brown has named Bill Croyle as the acting director of the Department of Water Resources, according to an internal memo from John Laird, the Secretary for Natural Resources of California, sent to DWR employees on December 13.

Croyle will replace Mark Cowin, who is retiring after 36 years with the agency, including nearly 7 years as DWR director. Croyle will assume his new position on January 1, 2017.

Croyle will take the helm of the agency as Governor Jerry Brown’s “legacy” project, the Delta Tunnels/California WaterFix, faces increasing opposition from fishermen, Tribal leaders, conservationists, environmental justice advocates, scientists and elected officials because it would destroy West Coast salmon and other fish populations and devastate family farms and communities throughout the Delta.

Mr. Croyle joined the Department in August of 2007 and served more than six years as Chief of Flood Operations, according to Laird. He is currently the Deputy Director for Emergency Preparedness and Security.

Before joining DWR, he worked for more than 23 years for the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board.  Mr. Croyle is a registered professional engineer with a B.S. in civil engineering from California State University, Sacramento.

“Please join me in congratulating Bill and giving him full support in his new role,” said Laird to the DWR employees.

“My colleagues and I at the Natural Resources Agency also express gratitude to Mark Cowin, who retires December 31 after nearly seven years as director of DWR,” said Laird. “He started in the department’s Fresno office 36 years ago as a civil engineering graduate of Stanford University. Mark has served California well as a pragmatic, empathetic statesman in perennial water resources conflicts. His energy and talent have been crucial to the development of water policy - including the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and a $7.5 billion water bond — that will serve future Californians well.”

Laird said Cowin “will continue to serve the administration in an advisory role.”

Mike Jackson, legal counsel for the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN), responded to news of Croyle’s appointment by stating, “He is a dedicated public servant and will be very loyal to the department that he heads. I don't seen much difference between him and Mark Cowin.”

Jackson did note that Croyle understands water quality better than most DWR employees. “Hopefully, his water quality experience will result in him telling the Governor about the terrible water quality problems that will be compounded by the California WaterFix,” said Jackson.

Carl Torgersen, the DWR Chief Deputy Director, will also be retiring from his position at the  agency at the end of 2016. Who will replace him has not been made public yet.

Read the DWR memo here:  DWR Memo from John Laird

* * *


The Eel River Recovery Project (ERRP) is a non-profit group that has been working with citizens throughout the Eel River watershed for the last five years to monitor fish populations, water temperature, stream flow, and toxic cyanobacteria (toxic algae). The most noxious type of toxic algae in Eel River tributaries attacks the nervous system; it can paralyze and kill a dog in less than 15 minutes. Since 2001, at least eleven dogs have died after ingesting toxins from the rivers and lagoons in Humboldt County. People are also at risk, especially children, but fortunately no human fatalities have occurred yet.

ERRP volunteers, working with the University of California Berkeley, have collected algae samples every summer since 2013. An earlier UC study found that 98 out of 177 samples from 2013 and 2014 contained at least low levels of the most deadly of the toxins, Anatoxin-A. Cyanotoxin samples collected in 2015 and 2016 have not yet been analyzed.

ERRP wants to examine the data from all years to answer some basic questions so the community can begin to address this problem. Why do some sections of the river produce toxic algae while others do not? Does the location of the worst outbreaks vary each year? Is toxic algae more abundant during droughts and periods of low flow? What is the effect of water temperature? Can water flow and temperature be used to predict when and where toxic algae blooms will occur?

ERRP has set up a crowd-funding campaign at, and is hoping to raise a minimum of $5000 by January 13. The Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services, Dr. Mary Power, who heads the U.C. Berkeley Department of Integrative Biology, and Erick Burres, Senior Environmental Scientist with the State Water Resources Control Board have all endorsed this fund-raising campaign. “The ERRP and its volunteer citizen scientists have been teaming up with researchers and agencies to collect data for Eel River science investigations that would otherwise be unobtainable. ERRP also then meaningfully communicates study results to everyone in the community,” said Burres.

To help this effort, visit and enter Eel River in the search box, or visit and follow the link from the home page. ERRP is currently having a membership drive, so anyone contributing twenty-five dollars or more to will be eligible for ERRP membership. Call 707-223-7200 if you have questions or you want to help with fundraising.

* * *


People of the (comic) book.

On 12/15/2016 8:23 AM, Erif wrote:

What, no Terry Pratchett?

* * *

Marco McClean: I met Terry Pratchett once, in Petaluma at a book signing. You're right, his stories are filled with gods and origin stories and the supernatural. And the character Death, not to mention Death's Granddaughter. Discworld rests on the back of giant turtle, and a turtle below that, etc.

Also I left out Fritz Lieber, who invented Lankhmar, the city of The Street of the Gods. Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser had their own personal gods they asked for help when they needed it. Fafhrd ("How do you spell that-- Fafhrd?" "Just the way it sounds.") used Sheelba of the Eyeless Face, and the Gray Mouser used Ningauble of the Seven Eyes, or maybe the other way around.

And I forgot to mention Philip Pullman and the His Dark Materials trilogy (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass), wherein we find that the god character is feeble, nearly dead of old age, and the angel Metatron has been regent, running everything for his own benefit all this time. I found out about The Golden Compass because Jon Carroll of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote that it was "Harry Potter but for smart people." The main character, Lyra, is a superhumanly brave little girl in an alternate world where part of who you are lives outside of you in the form of an animal. The Church is running experiments to derive energy from severing children from that part of them. It's a huge story of love and discovery and the battle between good and evil, and Lyra and her friend Will end up saving not only their world but all the worlds by making a bigger sacrifice of their own than I want to go into right now.

The Sandman books by Neil Gaiman. That should have been at the top of the list.

But I think you got my point -- that the big old (and new) religions' compelling stories, that were all invented by people, by clever storytellers, often pale in comparison to plenty of other stories out there, and sane people can read and write and appreciate stories without ever stoning someone to death for disrespecting or merely criticizing the other guy's precious comic book franchise, which is really all the different religions are.

Marco McClean

* * *


I want to share with the community the news about the recently published book "The Sweet Life: Cherry Stories from Butler Ranch." The book offers a rich bounty of local tales with a common thread: the Mendocino community’s deep respect, gratitude, and love for a pair of Ukiah ranchers who opened their cherry orchard to all every summer. The book, including seventy-five photographs, also features ranch history, family biographies, and poetry. "The Sweet Life," an ideal holiday gift, is now available at Gallery Bookshop and Corners of the Mouth in Mendocino. Soon it will also be available at Down Home Foods and Frame Mill Artworks in Fort Bragg. For further information, call Landcestry (Publisher) at 272-8305. For shipping orders call la Vida Charter School at 459-6344. More information about the book see

Annemarie Weibel, Fort Bragg

* * *


by Clancy Sigal

“U.S. leftists and liberals need to reorganize themselves and prepare for a LONG WAR that has no end in sight with militant groups like the Trump White House and their allies in Fox News…,”  is my absurd mistranslation of Joint Chief of Staff’s Gen. Martin Dempsey’s farewell speech to the Pentagon about our endless war.

Of course what Dempsey actually said is that this “long war” will be against ISIS and involve worldwide proxy wars like Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Africa.

Gen. Dempsey might as well be talking to us: “We must be able to rapidly adapt to new threats while maintaining comparative advantage over traditional ones.” Yes, indeed!

When thousands of U.S. veterans helped Sioux “water protectors” temporarily win at Standing Rock, I flippantly suggested that we could learn from the military. Like how to reorganize ourselves for our own version of the long war.

Or as Bette Davis says in “All About Eve,” “Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.”

In hearing the agonized responses of friends and other writers to Trump’s election I’m struck by the same words they use over and over: grief, horror, mourning, shock and shellshock, despair, sad, depressed, blocked etc.

Really? Still? It’s been over a month since 8 Nov. As George C. Scott as Gen. Patton liked to bellow at traffic jams, What’s the holdup?

Surely we’re not waiting for the dead-ass Democratic Party?

From Hillary and Obama on down they’re wasting precious time squabbling like has-been boxers, “We wuz robbed!”

Does it help or hinder to grasp that Bannon-Trump’s election coup is not unprecedented but the culmination of a previous “long war” not against Obama but decades ago against Franklin D. Roosevelt’s attempts to save capitalism from itself in the depressed 1930s?

The One Percent, then called the Liberty League based at J. P. Morgan’s 23 Wall Street, never recovered from the trauma of one of its own class — FDR — stabbing it in the back. They even tried to mount a military coup against him.

Unlike us nice people, Republicans are gut fighters. They never give up, because they retain long, long memories of how “socialist” and awful life is when the top class is taxed at a top rate and when the middle class, poor and weak have, gasp! Social Security and jobless insurance.

Democrats fight for their rights; Republicans fight for their lives.

The struggle changes form over time. It adapts to circumstances. What’s unchanging is the ancient, smug hatred of the poor and misbegotten.

That’s us, folks.

Fasten your seatbelts.

(Clancy Sigal is a screenwriter and novelist. His latest book is Black Sunset. Courtesy,

* * *



This year, 2016, was a busy one for our family. We had two very big highlights.

This first big highlight was that Ryan graduated California-Maritime Academy, CSU, cum laude, passed all of his U.S. Coast Guard licensing exams with nearly perfect scores, and was one of Cal-Maritime's few graduates to get a job offer from the U.S. Military Sealift Command -- where Ryan now works as a Third Mate Merchant Mariner after getting through a background check for a military security clearance and other pre-employment rigors.

Both the Morris family and the Dady family were well-represented at the graduation. Thank you for celebrating Ryan's achievement with us!

The second big highlight is that John's daughter, Marithea, had her first child -- a beautiful daughter, Lyla. This loving little family -- Marithea, Sean (father), and Lyla -- lives in Torrance, CA.

The name "Lyla" is derived from the Turkish "Leila" (night, dark beauty). Its use in England began with Lord Byron's poem "The Giaour". The poem, first published in 1813, was a runaway success and led Byron to publish a series of Oriental romances. Baby Lyla lives up to her inspired name!

Some other noteworthy news:

Ryan's graduation gift from John and Shannon was a hiking vacation -- the Robert Louis Stevenson's trail in France with his mom, Shannon. The hike took several weeks.

Robert Louis Stevenson, the consumptive young Scottish writer who later became famous for “Treasure Island” and “Kidnapped”, walked through the Cévennes region of France with his donkey Modestine in the autumn of 1878. He chose this mountainous, backward area because it was almost the only part of France where Protestantism still prevailed after the Wars of Religion and the purges of the seventeenth century.To Stevenson these so-called Camisards were the French equivalent of the persecuted Covenanters of his own country. The book he wrote describing this expedition, “Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes”, made him well-known for the first time.

Ryan and Shannon started their hike in Le Puy-en-Velay (Haute-Loire) and ended in La Bastide-Puylaurent (Lozere). The hike is extremely rural, very beautiful, and historic.

Meanwhile, Ryan's brother, Austin, continues to progress at Cal-Maritime. He is a senior and will graduate on April 22. Austin is also a midshipman in the U.S. Navy's Strategic Sealift Officer Program (SSOP) and will be commissioned as a naval reserve officer at graduation. In his service dress whites, Austin looks like he stepped out of the pages of GQ Magazine -- he is so handsome!

John's other daughters also had news.

Zoe's family bought a beautiful new house in Erie, CO. Her husband, Dr. Chad Lewis, started his own company designing high-tech orthopedic implants and other medical devices. He regularly travels throughout the world, including China. Grandson Oliver started kindergarten. Granddaughter Stella started preschool.

Vanessa will graduate Metropolitan State University, hopefully next year. She is an excellent student and a deep thinker. Her daughter, Violet, is a standout student at the Denver Waldorf Academy.

Arianna, who lives in Singapore with her fiance Marc, will marry next year in Massachusetts. Marc is an executive at Ethicon, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. They are a leader in minimally invasive surgery. Arianna formerly worked at Ethicon.

Laura married fiance, Eddie, in New York. Filmmaker and activist, Michael Moore, officiated the wedding. Laura was a radiant, stunning bride. It was nice to see Laura's mom, Renee, again. Renee did a great job raising Laura.

From Our Family To Your Family, We Wish You A Merry Christmas And A Happy New Year!


John and Shannon Sakowicz, Ukiah

PS, John will be New York from December 26-29 to help litigate an important tax case. He hopes to connect with some family at that time.

* * *

AND MY $55

Kill The Situation!

Please know that climate justice marcher Mark Creekwater is in the bay area. We enjoyed a reunion and had lunch at Blue Front Cafe on Haight Street today. Please know that it is understood that Charles Gary will give Creeky a $55 gift. This effectively satisfies my historic complaint with East Bay Food Not Bombs, a group which never did reimburse me the $55 which I contributed to Acton Street house to cover a sudden large increase in the house's utility bill. This increase was due to the irresponsible stoner behavior of EBFNB participants who cooked there during the time that I was living in Crow's tent outside for 3.5 years, when I was a part of the social scene at Asa's house. Feel free to contribute resource-wise to Creeky while he is in the bay area.  Contact Creeky at He's camping on Twin Peaks this evening. He'd probably prefer a place to stay, assuming he is actually welcome here. Given my own crazy relationship with the so-called east bay "anarchist milieu", I still don't know who or what is appreciated.  I could never figure it out.

Craig Louis Stehr

December 14, 2016




  1. John Speka December 16, 2016

    Very unfair to speak of former County Planner Fred Tarr as the “decider” and determining “magic numbers” for the controversial Blackbird Farms application. I worked in the department with Fred for many years. He was always fair and open with applicants about planning staff’s role vis-a-vis the Planning Commission’s decision making capacity. The above blog spent a good amount of effort in stating how Mr. Tarr “usurped” County Planning Commission authority and should have been fired for supposedly providing arbitrary allowances to an applicant. All of this based on a so-called “admission” of a representative for the applicant at the public hearing. In my experience with the department, applicants were known on several occasions to take parts of planning discussions out of context, believing only what they wanted to hear that could potentially further their applications. None of us were there to hear any past conversations between Mr. Tarr and applicant representatives. Basing an argument that Mr. Tarr overstepped his authority on an “admission” by the applicant at the public hearing is very one-sided. The fact that the Planning Commission was silent on the matter was likely due to their understanding that one-sided testimony isn’t necessarily the whole story.

    • Mark Scaramella December 16, 2016

      Fair enough and worth incorporating in the story. But how else would you explain where Blackbird got their “magic number”? As a former planner, then, maybe you can tell us how else Mr. Tarr arrived at a “mitigated negative declaration” that understates or dismisses the proposal’s impact in so many ways without even an attempt to assess it? (We’ll be happy to list them item by item if requested.) You can download Mr. Tarr’s “mitigated negative declaration” at the Planning Commission’s website and see for yourself how far off it is.

      • John Speka December 16, 2016

        Not sure where Blackbird would have come up with the 300 number. Not even out of the question that numbers were discussed with Mr. Tarr at some point. Regardless, planning staff isn’t in the business of designing projects for developers or guaranteeing success of discretionary projects. Their function is to process the application and bring it to a hearing before the proper decision making body. In most cases, a mitigated negative declaration (MND) is appropriate to provide measures ensuring impacts are held to a less than significant level, etc. A MND is prepared with the goal of addressing all potential impacts. However, planners aren’t always able to predict every possible outcome of a project either. In other words, they give it their best shot, but at the end of the day are only human and may sometimes miss the mark. (There’s no ill intent on the planner’s part, although at times from the reactions you get in controversial cases you’d think the planner was scheming their way through the entire CEQA process in order to help the applicant.) That’s why public input is so important, asking what areas may have been overlooked. The Planning Commission then has the authority to add even more mitigation measures, or in the alternative to deny a project felt to be inappropriate for whatever reason. Bottom line is that Fred Tarr had always acted professionally and responsibly throughout his tenure with the County and doesn’t deserve to have his integrity questioned because of an unpopular proposal that may or may not be approved at a future date.

        • Mark Scaramella December 16, 2016

          OK. Clearly, you’d make a great character witness at the trial.

  2. Judy Valadao December 16, 2016

    The “Heidi Krause” Rex speaks of is actually Heidi Kraut. I don’t always agree with her politics but like her very much as a person. Heidi Kraut and Derek Hoyle are both being replaced on the Planning Commission with appointments made by new Council members Bernie Norvell and Will Lee.
    I’m still waiting for the report on the not so giant shopping center before deciding how I feel about it. I am hoping every issue is being looked at and studied in detail.

  3. mr. wendal December 16, 2016

    re: just in from fort bragg:

    I hope that Will Lee’s comment, at his first city council meeting as a councilman, that he hopes that Scott Menzies stays involved on the committee level and help them (council members) do their jobs doesn’t mean that he will be appointed to the planning commission. Mr. Menzies isn’t suited for public office, especially in a small town. His ego will get in the way of putting the city and its residents first. He may talk a good line when out and about, but watch his performances at meetings and see if he would be someone you would want to represent you or your city. We need people who will really listen to others they may disagree with and have discussions. We won’t heal if more people who slam the door on those who disagree with them are involved in guiding Fort Bragg. But Lindy Peters as mayor makes me hopeful. Will Lee and Bernie Norvell each get to appoint planning commission members and I hope that they have put a lot of thought into making their choices. Good luck to the new council.

  4. Rick Weddle December 16, 2016

    re: ‘…the ancient and smug hatred of the poor and misbegotten…’…

    The 1%’ers might well hate the poor, malformed masses, hatred being the customary coward’s cover for their own clawing fears. Looks pretty clear from the evidence, so far. If you go by how they cynically herd populations about from milking to slaughter, you’d be certain. But here’s a part of The Deal not so commonly bragged about: The Poor and Misbegotten (that’s almost all of US) is where the wealth comes from in the first place, through these 99% of hands. When that anonymous richprick said, ‘We always have the poor,’ he wasn’t whining about poor folks not going away…he was stating the Eternal Machiavellian Security of having your income burgeoning on the hoof, everywhere you look, and more innocent blood than you could consume in several lifetimes. Here in the erstwhile Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, we’re going by ‘Tax Cattle,’ or just taxyax.

  5. james marmon December 16, 2016

    RE: Catch of the day.

    Two years after Prop 47, addicts walk free with nowhere to go.

    “Two years after it was approved by California voters, Prop 47 has scaled back mass incarceration of drug addicts, but successful reform is woefully incomplete. Proponents celebrate how the law freed at least 13,500 inmates like Lopez from harsh sentences in crowded prisons and jails, but Prop 47 has done little to help these people restart their lives. Instead, the unprecedented release of inmates has exposed the limits of California’s neglected social service programs: Thousands of addicts and mentally ill people have traded a life behind bars for a churning cycle of homelessness, substance abuse and petty crime.”

    “We talk about the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation – that doesn’t really exist. People come out and it’s like they time traveled,” said Eunisses Hernandez, an advocate at the Drug Policy Alliance, a reform group. “If we want criminal justice reform and social justice reform to work, it’s not just about fixing the machine that’s incarcerating people, but it’s about fixing the system that comes out and supports them when they come out.”

    Jobs, jobs, jobs

    • Bruce McEwen December 16, 2016

      Hullo-0, M00ron — at risk of saying I tole ya so, go to the California Chapter of ACLU to find out that what happened to the billions saved by Prop. 47 — sold in the pricey ads as to go back into the communities — hence the name about neighbour hoods — where the tweakers would be dumped — and how the [$$$$] were confiscated by the Guv, Dude.

  6. james marmon December 16, 2016

    This day in history.

    December 16, 2012.

    “JAMES MARMON, a Mendocino County CPS worker fired for identifying the precise problem with CPS, again puts his finger right on the nut of the problem”

  7. zeke Krahlin February 19, 2017

    Thomas Cahill:

    Ah, yes, Edward Bernays, Dr. Sigmund Freud’s nephew who utilized his uncle’s theory of sibliminal suggestion to control the minds of America, and give birth to Madison Avenue. Too few people realize the diabolical impact of this man’s mischief, let alone ever heard of him. Google his name to learn more. And here’s a video called “How Trump Won (Thanks to Edward Bernays Propaganda)”:

    Your little sister, a former nun, quoting an existentialist in her sermon…brilliant!

    Thanks for another excellent and informative letter, Tom. The people of France are lucky to have you .

Leave a Reply

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