Press "Enter" to skip to content

Mendocino County Today: Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016

* * *


Highway 128 re-opened about 7am Friday morning. Highway 1 at the Garcia River was still closed at about 5pm Friday.

UPDATE FROM CHP DISPATCH (Saturday, 8:11am): "Hwy 128 is closed at mm 8.5 and Flynn Creek due to a very large tree down across both lanes. Caltrans in process of removing it."

* * *


We're asking for a recount from Supreme Court

A look at the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network (CoCoRAHS) 24-hour rainfall totals saw the Stephen Dunlap rain gauge in Fort Bragg with 1.24" for the past 24 hours — edging out MSP's 1.21" in Elk. We are demanding a recount.

Reports from Del Norte county showed they scarcely picked up any precipitation the past 24-hours after getting slammed Thursday. Fort Dick had the most and they only received 0.03". Crescent City had a "trace" as the storm slipped southward.

In Humboldt County, Bridgeville had the most rain over the past 24 hours with 0.26" while Garberville & Whitehorn had 0.22".

In Sonoma County, however, rain magnet Cazadero reported 3.85", 3.12", 2.69" & 2.50" with Kenwood reporting 3.30" and even Santa Rosa reported 3.00".

Bodega Bay logged 2.15" & Cloverdale 1.75".

Over in Lake County, Lower lake reported 1.62", Lakeport had 1.30" & 1.22" reports with Upper lake logging 1.07".

(Courtesy, MendocinoSportsPlus)

* * *


Fred Medinas passed away in November at the age of 94. As one of the really good people of Anderson Valley, his life should not go unremarked.

Fred was affectionately known as “Freddie Kilowatt,” both for his work as a PG&E service representative and for his always smiling and helpful presence. He brightened the day of everyone he met.

As an early half-hippie back-to-the-lander, I met Fred when the ancient ceramic post-and-wire installed in our 1939 mill cabin began to succumb to weather, time, and the voracity of wood rats, who collect electrical insulation (for nesting? for late night snacks?) with an industry unmatched by few other species.

Fred responded to our call about flickering lights, erratic voltage, and frequent blown fuses with a wisdom and patience learned not from any PG&E manual but from a lifetime of community. He inspected our service entrance, a rusty 60-amp box with a corroded blade cut-off, which had never heard of anything so new-fangled as a circuit breaker. “It’s just damp,” he said. “This box isn’t what you’d call weather-tight. You might think about upgrading it.” From his tool bag, he took a can of WD-40 and gave everything a good spray. “Improves conductivity,” he explained, “and it drives out the moisture.”

He checked out our house wiring, even though his PG&E working responsibility ended at the service box. He admired the ancient time-delay fuses, perhaps the personal product of Thomas Edison. “Probably couldn’t get these to trip if you crossed the mains,” he said. “Might want to replace them.” He was right. A few months later, lightning struck our TV antenna and energized every circuit in the house. Not one of those antiques even blinked.

Fred extended a welcome to the community, one he repeated many times over the years. It was especially meaningful to us because we new settlers (or drug-addled invaders, take your pick) were not extended open arms by everyone. I recall one New Year’s Eve when my friend Brian O’Riley and I visited three AV open parties and ended up in three fistfight free-for-alls. Unfortunately, Fred was not there to restore community and respect. (Thank goodness Danny Kuny was.)

Fred was one of the good souls who made the best of Anderson Valley community possible. Over the years, we have found common ground, and I think we found it more easily because folks like Fred always stood on it, planted solid. There was not a thing pretentious or preachy about Fred. He just knew that we had to get along, and he showed us how.

(Bill Baker, Fort Bragg)

* * *


UKIAH, Friday, December 16. -- Judgment and Sentencing Update.


Defendant Lorenzo Rodriguez Gomez, age 35, formerly of Philo, was sentenced this morning in Department B of the Superior Court to 9 years, 4 months in state prison, the defendant previously having been convicted of attempted murder, two counts of criminal threats, and the use of knife in the course of the attempted murder. This is the case where the defendant attempted to knife and kill a teenage boy, who, instead, shot the defendant multiple times at short range in self-defense. Assuming this violent conviction will not be modified by the recent passage of Proposition 57, the defendant — under pre-Prop 57 law — will be required to serve 85% of the sentence imposed.

However, before the sentencing hearing could be commenced this morning, the defendant first attempted to fire his appointed attorney. He requested that Superior Court Judge David Nelson relieve the Alternate Defender’s Office and appoint him new counsel for reasons that were not publicly disclosed. The courtroom was then ordered cleared and an in camera hearing was conducted. When the prosecutor and the audience were allowed back into the courtroom, it was announced from the bench that the Court had denied the defendant's motion and the matter would immediately proceed to sentencing.

The law enforcement agency which investigated the case was the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office. The prosecutor who handled the trial and argued for the People of the State of California at today's sentencing hearing was District Attorney David Eyster.

(District Attorney’s Office press release)

* * *


by Mark Scaramella

You’d have to be nearly blind, seriously drunk or very stoned to miss the connections.

Earlier this month we noticed a Press Democrat article: “Sonoma County wineries ponder possibility of pairing with cannabis industry.”

The “pairing” in that context had more to do with tourism overlaps in wine-pot areas — putting pot dispensaries on the wine tour itinerary, co-existence and the mutual benefits from their proximity to each other — than genuine mergers, at least for now.

That’s because many conventional vintners are nervous about jeopardizing their federal booze licenses by directly engaging in pot growing and sales, still a federal felony.

But that hasn’t stopped some of the more adventurous well-heeled wine people from making some overtures to their less legal pot counterparts.

Apart from that nagging “federal felony” problem, the industries have a lot in common.

Consider how difficult it is for the small pot growers in the Emerald triangle trying to get legal under California and local county amorphous yet expanding new rules.

According to Mendo pot advocate Julia Carrera of the fractious Small Farmers Association, “To be fully regulated in 2016, it costs the Mendocino County Small Farmer on average a total of $83,325 for an outdoor and $109,825 for greenhouse.”

This seems kind of low, actually, presuming that the mom-and-pop pot pharm is already in existence and will continue as such. Under legalization, however, there will be much more to factor in before becoming truly as mainstream as wine.

Ms. Carrera bases her cost estimates on: Application fee, pre-inspection consultant, zipties, scale certification, legal counsel, soil prep, capital improvements (greenhouse, drying, trimming, greenhouse equipment, fencing, security), and plant care.

Plus, water board compliance: Application fee, pre-inspection consultant, water protection plan, road improvements, silt mitigation, property improvements, movement of garden from erosion-prone problem area (if needed).

“Never before have the small farmers that include cannabis in their crop rotations experienced this kind of expense in one year,” said Carrera. “This money was profit just the year before. It is a shocking financial reality that many will not be able to survive. And if all your eggs are in one cannabis basket, the shock is that much more fierce.”

Marijuana attorney Omar Figueroa who represents marijuana dispensaries and venture capitalists said, "I'm a little wistful. There was romanticism in the peaceful cannabis growers rebelling against conformity. Now the suits are coming in and taking over.”

There’s plenty of money to be made and lots of potential ways to cut costs by merging the wine industry with the, ahem, budding legalized pot industry.

Add to that the welcoming, not to say lax, regulatory structure that is emerging in Mendocino and California at large. Local governments are looking greedily at all the potential revenue they can take in if pot can be formally taxed and fees can be charged. Just like with the wine industry, they’re not likely to put major obstacles in such a revenue stream. In fact, they’re poised to actively help — especially since conventional property and sales taxes are very hard to increase under existing law.

Close observers say that at a minimum — if the County were to take in just the low-hanging fruit of self-reporters and minimum taxes — pot could pump at least $2.5 million into the county coffers. Maybe a lot more.

Plus there’s the market hedge. If the wine business drops off, as it regularly does, the newly merged grower would have an alternative: switch the predominant crop to pot and adjust production to market demand as needed.

Think about this: The wine people already have the land, the water rights, the water storage and delivery infrastructure, some of the processing facilities, the financing, the accounting and tax avoidance procedures, a somewhat common labor force, delivery, marketing, sales outlets, computer presence…

All they need is some specific cannabis expertise and start up assistance from the struggling small farmers Ms. Carrera says she represents.

Step right in ladies and gents: Take a sip and a toke! It all comes from right out there in our vineyard/pot pharm.

Just make sure you have a designated driver.

* * *

OVERHEARD at the Boonville Post Office:

Old Man (noticing a word written on the back of a hand): Is that a tattoo?

Young Woman: No, just a reminder I wrote to myself. Why? Do you have a thing against tattoos?

Old Man: Not really, I guess, except that they’re permanent.

Young Woman: They’re just an artistic or personal expression.

Old Man: It’s kinda like putting a John Edwards bumpersticker on your car only to find out later that you can’t get it off.

Young Woman: Who?

Old Man: Never mind.

* * *

RECOMMENDED READING: Living in Mendocino County, most of us can't help but know that all around us people are operating outside the law, way outside the law in many cases, and large sums of money are changing hands, much of the cash moving into the County as our major ag product moves out. "Mule, a Novel of Moving Weight" by Tony D'Souza, is the best thing, by far, I've read on the dope trade, so good that for me anyway it was a real page-turner. (I don't mean to patronize the writer. He's really good. Best fiction I've read since Tom McGuane's last story in The New Yorker.) The story is about a young married guy — infant daughter, another kid in the oven — who, circa the crash of 2008 — can't find work to support his family. When he gets an offer to drive marijuana from Siskiyou County to points east, mostly Florida, for $32,000 for three days on the road with a felony amount of weed, he can't refuse. (As we know, NorCal dope is highly prized out there in Stoner Land, but I had no idea you could make thirty grand for delivering it.) For this kind of money the mule can't resist the big risks. Few people could, but not everyone is cut out for muling because, of course, the cops are the least of the hazards out there among the ruthless folks you're in business with.

The author has clearly moved weight himself or has taken down every word from people who have. The novel is part instructional manual, partly the story of the mule and his hair raising adventures. I thought I knew a lot about the intricacies of the trade — how can you not know something about them living in Mendo — until I read this one. Anybody out there need an old guy to drive a load of dope to Omaha?

* * *

OTHER BOOKS you dinosaur bibliophiles — we're going fast — might enjoy include Antony Beavor's "Ardennes 1944 — The Battle of the Bulge.” Beavor is a British historian who, unlike a lot of historians, writes a readable prose. My late friend, Emil Rossi, fought in the Battle of the Bulge, emerging from the experience with a Bronze Star and frostbitten feet, and a strict refusal to ever talk about it or watch a war movie ever again. After this book I understand why. I also understand how close the Germans got to turning their losing war around but for some memorably heroic resistance by American soldiers, many of them plunged into combat with crack German soldiers. Many of our boys were unprepared for and inexperienced with combat. The situation was quite dire. In the words of General Patton, "We could still lose this goddam thing." It was that close, as the Germans, fighting defensively to defend the motherland against the Allies on the Western Front as the Russians closed in on them from the East, made a last lunge to break out into Belgium and retake France. And they almost did it, but for the American Army, hence the bulge in an otherwise unyielding Allied perimeter. The fighting was often up close and all of it occurred in the dead of winter. Beavor's account is absolutely gripping.

* * *

WHILE WE'RE DISCUSSING English writers, if you've never read any Evelyn Waugh you've led an impoverished intellectual life, and you've missed the funniest writer ever. I've read all his fiction but just now have read "When The Going Was Good," Waugh's travels through the Middle East and Central America in the 1920s and 30s. Great stuff, and fascinating accounts of those places before, well, before The Great Beast was up and upon us.

* * *

CULTURE NOTES: Enjoyed the Netflicks production of "The Crown," as did everyone else, apparently. The BBC is always good, although the history of this series is seriously off. A lot of Brits think the royal family should have been de-funded no later than Henry the VIII, and here's one Yank who thinks the modern history of empire-less England is a lot more interesting than the petty dramas of Queen Elizabeth and her boring family. But the writers of "The Crown" and, of course, the actors, make this series interesting without touching on why Churchill was a great war time leader, a reactionary peace time one who devoted much time and energy to crushing the British left, which "liberals" like Tony Blair have faithfully continued. Tiny example of the probs with "The Crown's" version of history: The young Queen Elizabeth, chief propagandist for empire, which was her job, visits Kenya on a world tour of the colonies just as the Kenyans are rising up in the Mau Mau movement to throw out the British, but you'd never know those tensions existed because the story of the young queen's visit focuses on a big game hunt and domestic dramas between the queen and her husband, Phil. The installment about Africa ends as the royal entourage's plane lifts off, a small boy wistfully watches it go as if life for Kenyans would be a lot rosier if bwana would stay. The whole show focuses almost entirely on the royal family's domestic tensions, but it's so well done even the historically well-informed like savvy, cool-o me, got caught up in it.

* * *

WE'RE ALSO ENJOYING the Hulu production called "Chance," starring the great Hugh Laurie who plays a psychiatrist with a very dangerous client list. This thing, filmed in San Francisco, is totally improbable and, natch, extremely violent, and I say 'natch' because us Americanos are now synonymous with ultra-vi. But the acting is wonderful and the writing is often funny as hell.

* * *


—Who’s paying for drinks?

—Bedrock —McEwen growled—. He’s rich.

Why me? —Bedrock asked.

Because we say so! —muttered Kalantarian.

Well —Bedrock responded—, I guess I’m paying for drinks.

* * *


Decades ago at about 5pm on a Friday afternoon, as squadron commander of Field Maintenance at Keesler AFB in Biloxi, Mississippi, I semi-presided over a monthly “squadron party” which featured very good fresh shrimp gumbo made by our paint shop foreman in a giant cooking vat, with cheap beer provided by me. There were about 200 people on hand, military and civilian maintenance people, not all of whom drank the beer (but Sid’s gumbo was irresistible; he was a civilian supervisor who had his own shrimp boat business on the side). About 7pm or so as the “party” was winding down, Chief Master Sergeant Ralph Johns, Field Maintenance Superintendent, 29 solid years in Aircraft Maintenance, who technically worked for me, asked me if I wanted to go have a few more beers at a local beer joint. On him. Except he didn’t have any money in his pocket, he said. (Beer at the joint was about 50¢ a glass at the time.) According to my somewhat hazy recollection the next day, he asked to borrow $20 bucks from me for the tab. According to his recollection later, I had offered to cover the tab. But remember, it was his idea to go for a few beers. Sucker that I was (am?), I proceeded to pay the tab assuming that he’d reimburse me later. That’s when he concocted the story that it was my idea and I offered to pay. (After all I had paid for the cheap beer for the party — which he interpreted as my willingness to pay for beer; I took it to mean he was offering to cover the cost at the joint because I had paid enough.) Of course, Sergeant Johns never reimbursed the $20 based on his “you offered” argument. It was my word against his. I took it as a lesson learned for only $20. Johns was always keen to teach a lesson to a gullible young officer. It would have been a better lesson, though, if I could remember what he told me while we were drinking that beer at the dive.

Keesler AFB Flightline circa 1970 (not far from the Field Maintenance facility)

* * *


On Sunday, December 11, at approximately 12:25 am, Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched to a reported trespass in the 42000 block of Alta Mesa Road in Manchester. Deputies responded and contacted the reporting person, a 63-year-old adult male.  Deputies learned the adult male was the property owner of that location. The property contained a furnished residence used by the adult male. The adult male arrived at his residence on the morning of December 11th and found an unknown person(s) occupying his residence, who fled prior to the Deputies arrival. The adult male immediately left the location and contacted law enforcement.  Deputies initiated an investigation into the incident and determined that three individuals unlawfully entered and occupied the residence for approximately three months. The adult male also identified multiple items of property as missing from the residence with a valued loss of approximately $20,000 total.

Moores, Laiwa

Throughout the course of the investigation, Deputies were able to positively identify Skiela Laiwa (age 26, of Manchester) as one of the three persons responsible for burglarizing the residence. Deputies recovered a portion of the stolen property at a nearby marijuana grow site belonging to Ryan Moores (age 40, of Manchester). On Monday, December 12, Deputies contacted Moores and Laiwa in the 44000 block of Noyo Way in Manchester and arrested them without incident. Both were transported to and booked at the Mendocino County Jail. Moores was booked on a receiving stolen property charge and was to be held in lieu of $15,000 bail. Laiwa was booked on burglary and probation revocation charges and was to be held in lieu of $50,000 bail.

(Sheriff’s Press Release)

* * *

LITTLE DOG SAYS, "The boss told me he wanted me to get into the holiday spirit so he jams this thing down on my head. Ho ho ho."

* * *


Behavioral Health Advisory Board (10)

1st District Representative

1st District Representative

1st District Representative

2nd District Representative

2nd District Representative

3rd District Representative

3rd District Representative

4th District Representative

4th District Representative

5th District Representative

* * *

Cemetery District of the Redwoods. (1) Trustee

Community Development Commission (1) 2nd District Representative

First 5 Mendocino (1) General Representative

Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District. (1) Mendocino County Representative

* * *

Health and Human Services Agency Advisory Board. (4)

1st District Representative

2nd District Representative

4th District Representative

Community Representative

* * *

Laytonville Municipal Advisory Council (1)


* * *

Library Advisory Board. (3)

1st District Representative

2nd District Representative

4th District Representative

* * *

Mendocino Council of Governments (MCOG) (2) Public Appointee (1st Preference to Countywide Elected Official)

Alternate Public Appointee: Mendocino County Employees' Retirement Association Board (2)

4th Member

6th member

* * *

Mendocino County Planning Commission (3)

1st District Representative

2nd District Representative

4th District Representative

* * *

Museum Advisory Board. (1)

* * *

LAST DATE FOR FILING: January 3, 2017, or until filled. CARMEL J. ANGELO Clerk of the Board of Supervisors

Please note: Anticipated vacancies include expiring terms: the incumbent of the expiring term may apply for reappointment and/or may continue to serve in their capacity until replaced. California Government Code requires public noticing for all expiring terms regardless of the incumbent’s intention to apply for reappointment.

If you are interested in serving on this Board or Commission, contact your District Supervisor, or the Executive Office, at 501 Low Gap Road, Room 1010, Ukiah, CA 95482 (707) 463-4441. LAST DATE FOR FILING: January 3, 2017, or until filled. CARMEL J. ANGELO Clerk of the Board of Supervisors

* * *


This is something I have been doing for many years I have won first place blue ribbons at state Fair in Sacramento all seedless 12 8 Oz jars in a box $50 incredible blackberry taste 707 964 0155 or thanks

* * *

CATCH OF THE DAY, December 16, 2016

Anton, Church, Collicott


LARRY CHURCH, Nice/Ukiah. Burglary from motor vehicle.

CAYTLIN COLLICOTT, Willits. Pot possession for sale, probation revocation.

Couthren, Elkin, Knight

ZEBULON COUTHREN, Ukiah. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, probation revocation.

BILLY ELKIN, Ukiah. Drunk in public.

HAROLD KNIGHT, Willits. Transient registration, reckless driving plea.

Kummer, Lucas, Lytning

KATE KUMMER, Ukiah. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, probation revocation.

MONROE LUCAS, Laytonville. Protective order violation.

ELKE LYTNING, Ukiah. Resisting. (We wonder if the cop was struck by Lytning?)

Mertle, Miller, Piazza

MICHAEL MERTLE, Ukiah. Petty theft, controlled substance, under influence, paraphernalia, probation revocation.

CHARLES MILLER, Ukiah. Domestic assault, assault with deadly weapon not a gun.

ANDREA PIAZZA, Willits. Domestic battery.

Ritter, Robinson, Valador, Worden

GEOFFREY RITTER, Ukiah. DUI-drugs, under influence.

CHARLES ROBINSON, Carpenteria/Ukiah. Petty theft, resisting.

JERIMIAH VALADOR, Ukiah. Vehicle theft, failure to obey traffic officers, vandalism.

CHARLES WORDEN, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public, parole violation, probation revocation.

* * *



Little known by most people, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare is not the creation of President Obama. The ACA was authored by the Heritage Foundation, a rigid right-wing conservative group (and was the model for Mitt Romney's healthcare plan when he was governor of Massachusetts).

Obama did some editing, adding that children could remain on their parents' health care policies, and no one could be denied membership due to previous health issues. Current media stories say the Republican replacement will be essentially much like a Obamacare with some editing.

As with the Heritage program, Obama's similar conception and the coming replacement, they all put the operating system in the hands of the private insurance industry. We have been, and soon will be, once again sold out to a multimillion dollar pharma and insurance lobby.

Alfred Auger, San Rafael

* * *


by Leila Guerriero

(Translated by Louis S. Bedrock)

I don’t understand the scandal generated by the document emitted by the Vatican that prohibits keeping the ashes from the cremation of the dead in the house, embedding them in jewelry, or scattering them over the earth or water.

I’m not familiar with the promises offered by other religions, but the promise of the Catholic Church is tantalizing: resurrection of the body and the soul.

This business of resurrection of the body recalls the horror movies of Hammer studios, and in my ignorance I wonder: When the moment arrives, where are they going to put so many people?

The decision of The Church is the perfect antidote to what could be the most terrifying moment of our lives. What if, on the day of The Resurrection, an appendage of grandmother materialized in that ring in which we embedded her ashes? What if Mommy came back to life and her eye appeared in one neighborhood and her ankle materialized in another?

The cemeteries, not the shelves or closets of our homes, are places in which resurrection can occur comfortably without scaring the hell out of half of humanity.

But the most important element of this affair is that it deals with justice, pure and simple. With gestures like this, the Catholic Church manages to reach all its faithful—not merely gay Catholics who try to express their sexuality (and cannot); divorced Catholics who wish to remarry (and cannot); Catholic women who wish to be priests (and cannot do so—ever); Catholic men and women wishing to protect themselves from HIV by using contraceptives (and cannot).

Not everyone is gay, female, divorced, or has sex. But we all have our dead, perhaps cremated. With his simple prohibition, the Church manages to remind us that the great reach of its power extends everywhere, from the cradle to the tomb. If this isn’t democracy—prohibitions for every man and every woman—I don’t know what is.

* * *


"California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA) has announced changes to its Extra Credit Teacher Program, allowing more K-12 public school employees—including administrators and support staff such as aides, bus drivers, food services workers and janitors—to receive as much as $15,000 in down payment assistance.

The program includes educators at public charter schools, school district offices and county continuation schools.

The Extra Credit Teacher Home Purchase Program helps with the down payment and opens the door for more teachers to become homeowners.

In California, the average starting salary for an elementary school teacher is less than $42,000 per year. The average annual salary is $69,000 for all public school teachers, according to industry reports.

'The Extra Credit Teacher Home Purchase Program provides a vitally important service to the dedicated school employees who serve our students each and every day,' said California School Boards Association (CSBA) President Chris Ungar. 'By helping these public servants obtain an important piece of the American Dream, homeownership, we are addressing one of the major contributors to attrition from the profession and stabilizing schools and communities in the process.'

In the Extra Credit Teacher Home Purchase Program, public school employees in California's high-cost counties—including those in the Bay Area and Southern California—could qualify for a maximum of $15,000 or 3.5 percent of the sales price or appraised value, whichever is greater. A complete list of the 35 high-cost counties is available here (Mendocino County is referenced as a high cost county). The program greatly benefits educators buying homes for less than $430,000 in those counties.

Educators must meet county-by-county income limits for the program, which are based on the number of people living in the home."

* * *


Join us on Sunday, December 18th, 3-6:30 pm for our special Return of the Light Celebration Circle Dancing

No experience or partners necessary! All dances are taught before each dance.

Come join us at the Mendocino Recreation Center, School and Pine Streets in Mendocino, from 3-6:30 pm. Candles will light the darkness at this Winter Solstice celebration and there will be a break for holiday snacks. Bring finger food to share if you can. If you want to dress the part wear a white outfit under a black or dark over garment so you can embody the darkness and then after sunset the rebirth of the light! But no dress-up is necessary and Gwen will bring extra white and black garments if you feel moved in the moment! There will be a wealth of dances. some very simple, some beautifully layered and complex. Please invite your friends to come. Not dancing is totally fine. This is a very nice place to be to nurture and celebrate Community and the hope that comes with the lengthening days and a new year. Circle Dance groups are a grass roots phenomenon There are hundreds of dance circles in The US, England, and throughout the world. The Mendocino group has been dancing every month for 15 years. As one dancer put it, “We are doing what people have been doing for millennia, on beaches, in forest glens, around campfires-- dancing together in circles to express their joy, their passion, their solidarity, their pain, their faith.”A small donation is requested to help with the room rent. For further information, contact Devora at 937-1077 or or Gwen at or 964-2411

* * *



What a shame that you declined to speak with members of the Board and management of the Anderson Valley Health Center to inform your comments in your December 7th issue of the paper (AVA-Valley People). Your reporting on the Health Center was done without serious investigation and is a disservice to the community.

The article is full of inaccuracies to which we respond as they appeared in the article:

1. There is regular peer review of staff which is overseen by the Board Program Improvement Committee;

2. There is no secret being kept from the Board of Directors (not 'Board of Trustees,' the AVHC is not a Trust, it is a non-profit organization) about a "boycott of the clinic by several Mexican families." The Board has been informed of that unsubstantiated information by the management, has discussed it and management has a plan to address such rumors;

3. Regardless of whether you believe that "historically considered, the Center's board of trustees is not what anyone would describe as forthcoming," the fact is that this is a new Board of Directors with eight new members who, along with the four remaining members of the previous Board, have worked very hard to listen to the community over the past two years.

After interviewing every single employee of the Health Center, we fired the previous director, rehired Dr. McGhan, put together a COMMUNITY-led search committee and hired a new executive director. Chloe Guazzone, the new director, has done an incredible job of creating staff cohesiveness, acquiring new funds to expand services, has reopened the dispensary, hired a local technology expert to address problems with the Electronic Medical Records (EMR), and has initiated a myriad of activities to improve the quality of services, including a new senior needs assessment;

4. You quote some unnamed reader who states that there are "crooked” staff members. With no proof or instance presented whatsoever, this is slanderous, malicious, and truly deceiving.

As to Dr. McGhan's complaint, the Board did in fact meet the demands of Dr. McGhan and did make an effort to continue his employment at the Health Center. The fact of the matter is that Dr McGhan declined the offer and submitted his resignation without any forewarning to the Board or management staff. The reason we understand is as he stated in his letter — to be closer to family in Oregon.

Your anonymous reader says, "if I were on the Board…" Let this be the call that we are searching for Board Members who take this civic duty seriously and who wish to take part in making fully-informed decisions at the health center. Elections will take place in January. Everyone is welcome to apply by picking up an application at the Health Center or downloading one from the website. You and your readers should know that there are twelve members of the Health Center's Board of Directors who represent a wide cross-section of the community and with whom you and anyone in the community can talk at any time. Board Members' names are on the website ( All Health Center meetings (held the last Thursday of each month at 6:00 pm in the HC Conference Room) are open to the public and there is always a space on the agenda for public input.

In the future, please investigate your stories fully. You could have talked with any Board or management team member at the Health Center, if you really wanted the community to understand the issues.

There are always at least two sides to every story and the misinformation you print is a disservice to you, your paper, the Health Center and most importantly the AV community. In an era of fake news stories and dubious political propaganda we cannot have that in our community. In addition, this kind of misleading journalism makes it even more difficult to attract serious professionals to the AVHC, a task which is of highest priority to the Board, the administration, and all those who depend on AVHC services.


AVHC Board of Directors

ED REPLY: What a shame two trustees of the twelve allegedly overseeing Health Center ops, and their lushly compensated manager, tried to meet privately with me to discuss public business. I asked you to write a letter so we can all read what you have to say, and now you have. And I saved myself an hour listening to a lot of self-serving, deceptive whining. Thank you for writing and allowing "the community" in on the conversation. My comments were clearly my opinions which of course are my opinions.

1. Peer review is nothing to brag about and, in my opinion, the best way to create a work place based on fear and gossip. Why doesn't the manager simply manage? How about clear lines of authority, identifiable responsibility? Spare me the anonymous group oversight by the same bumblers who have now cost us a fine young doctor. In fact, I called Ms. G about McGhan's departure. She explained the beef over the contract. I thought I got a reasonable response from her. I talked to other people with direct experience of the HC. And the comments I made were obviously (to most people anyway) my opinions, not one of my hard-hitting investigative pieces.

2. I didn't say there were unshared secrets, although I'm sure the HC's closet is overflowing with them, but I guess it's no secret the HC spent $5,000 on a mariachi band on a celebration of themselves, and those of us looking on wonder, especially those of us who faithfully return HC begging letters with the requested cash, what kind of seriously indebted non-profit would do that.

3. The last meeting I attended the board sat there staring back at audience questions like the management stooges they are. I'm supposed to go back for more hours of that? The performance of this board has managed to keep the Health Center in perpetual turmoil which, I concede, given the givens of "the community," is probably inevitable. (It reminds me of the AV School Board during the Collins years — 5-0 for nepotism and general palsy walsy-ism for what, twenty years? A national record for pure consensus? Of course Collins sits on the Health Center board with the rest of the hell raisers.) Moving along here, a "senior needs assessment" is something to brag about? But now that you brought it up, I'm a Senior with a need for transparency in the functioning of local non-profits. Please satisfy it.

4. Although the HC pharmacy was shutdown by the feds because, uh, the pill count was perennially off, a commenter said "crooked" as to the general functioning of the HC, which I think meant "uneven."

So, here we are with a blizzard of self-serving blah-blah with minor refutations as to the accuracy of what was actually said, but I'll defer to Ms. Knott as an expert on fake news. As a former cog at NBC, she would know.

* * *


After running against Goldman as a candidate, Donald Trump licks the boots of the world's largest investment bank

by Matt Taibbi

Back on February 19th, during a primary-season speech in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Donald Trump directed a two-pronged rhetorical offensive against opponents in both parties. He started with Ted Cruz.

"I know the guys at Goldman Sachs. They have total, total control over [Cruz]," Trump said. "Just like they have total control over Hillary Clinton."Cruz's campaign, Trump pointed out, had taken loans from the infamous investment bank Goldman Sachs. And he'd failed to properly disclose one of these loans.

Trump demonized the bank enough that it almost seemed like genuine animosity existed between candidate and squid. When Goldman announced in September that it was banning employees from donating to Trump's campaign, it seemed official.

In October, Trump was even more specific in pointing the finger at Goldman. Referencing speeches Clinton gave to Goldman, Trump said that "Hillary Clinton meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers, her special interest friends and her donors."

Trump's tales sounded like classic Rothschild/Bilderberg conspiracy lore. They would have been absurd, were it not for the fact that so much of the innuendo around Goldman Sachs often turns out to be true.

The bank has an extraordinary history of placing its executives in high-ranking governmental and quasi-governmental positions, from treasury secretaries to senators to the heads of the World and European Central Banks. Goldman has been implicated in the trafficking of toxic mortgages, a sprawling state corruption case in Malaysia, the manipulation of world commodity prices and a heinous episode involving Greece in which the bank helped to mask the country's ballooning debt while simultaneously working with JPMorgan Chase to create an index for betting against Greece's economy.

Nonetheless, Trump's insinuations about a Goldman-Hillary secret conspiracy were so pointed that CEO Lloyd Blankfein was forced to respond.

"If there's some secret international cabal, I've been left out of the party again," he quipped.

In his final pitch to voters in the days before the election, Trump used the image of Blankfein in a TV ad to argue that insiders had ruined the lives of ordinary Americans to enrich themselves. Here is the narration you heard when Blankfein's face came on screen:

"It's a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities."

One surprise election result and a mountain of jubilant #draintheswamp hashtags later, Donald Trump has filled his White House with, you guessed it, Goldman veterans.

His chief strategist, the unabashed white-supremacist loon Steve Bannon, is a former Goldman banker, as is adviser Anthony Scaramucci. Steve Mnuchin marks the fourth Goldman-pedigreed treasury secretary in the last four presidencies, after Bob Rubin, Lawrence Summers and Hank Paulson.

But the real shocker is the recent appointment of Goldman Chief Operating Officer Gary Cohn to the post of director of the National Economic Council. Bannon and Mnuchin were former, past Goldmanites. Cohn, meanwhile, is undoubtedly at least the number-two figure at the world's most despised bank, if not the outright co-head with Blankfein. He has been at the center of many of its most infamous episodes, including the Greek affair.

So much for draining the swamp.

The new party line, emanating both from Washington and from Alt-Right yahoos on the Internet, is that people like Gary Cohn are no longer the swindling scum-lords Trump said they were a few months ago, but simply smart businessmen.

As Trump put it "Gary Cohn is going to put his talents as a highly successful businessman to work for the American people."

This mantra is often used to explain Goldman's legend. Its advocates say they may be cold-blooded, but they're just dern good at what they do.

The bank has worked very hard to nurture exactly that image, particularly when there are darker explanations for the bank's success that they would rather leave unexplored. A great example involves Cohn, Trump's new "top economic adviser."

Way back in November of 2007, a tidal wave was beginning to devour Wall Street. The subprime mortgage market was collapsing, and the bulk of America's investment banks were foundering.

Indeed, within a year, three of the country's storied top five investment banks — Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers — would be wiped out by the crisis, thanks mainly to their overinvestment in subprime.

One bank stood out as an exception: Goldman Sachs.

The legend on the street was that Goldman was somehow not only going to survive the crash, but prosper and make big profits. How did Goldman do so well during a financial hurricane? The New York Times had an answer: its leaders were smart — and humble!

"Goldman's secret sauce, say executives, analysts and historians," the paper wrote, "is high-octane business acumen, tempered with paranoia and institutionally encouraged — though not always observed — humility."

Where did writers Jenny Anderson and Landon Thomas Jr. get the idea that Goldman's smarts saved them during the mortgage crisis? From Goldman, of course.

We know this because of an investigation conducted into the bank's a-little-too-miraculous performance that year by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

Chaired by Michigan Sen. Carl Levin, the PSI scrupulously detailed the efforts by Goldman to get out from under the mortgage crash by dumping its disastrous mortgage investments on its own clients as it simultaneously bet against them.

This maneuver, colloquially described since as the "Big Short" episode, was perhaps the most lurid example of Wall Street iniquity during the crash years. And Trump's new economic adviser, Cohn, played a central role.

In the run-up to the "Big Short" story — in the years leading up to 2007 — Goldman had joined other banks in helping cause the financial crisis. They'd done so by creating masses of toxic mortgage instruments and selling them to unsuspecting investors, who were (often falsely) told the loans met underwriting standards. Goldman, like JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup, would later pay billions to settle claims by its infuriated customers, which included state and federal housing authorities.

At the tail end of 2006, Goldman execs saw that a) the subprime mortgage market was in serious trouble, and b) the bank itself was dangerously overinvested in it. So they made a frenzied, often deceptive effort to induce their clients to eat what should naturally have been their own losses.

On December 14th, 2006, mortgage chief Daniel Sparks proposed: "Distribute as much as possible on bonds created from new loan securitizations and clean previous positions."

Translation: Let's create new mortgage-backed products to dump on others, and use them to "clean" our toxic portfolio.

In one mortgage-based deal called Hudson 1 securities, Goldman helped sell its toxic holdings by saying the bank's interests were "aligned" with those of potential clients, because it would own a tiny, $6 million slice of the deal.

The bank left out the fact that it had a $2 billion bet against the same deal.

In the same deal, Goldman told clients that the mortgage products in Hudson had been "sourced from the Street," i.e., that this stuff did not come from Goldman's own inventory. When Senate investigators later pressed Goldman executives on this question, they hilariously claimed this wasn't a lie, because Goldman was part of "the Street."

"They were like, 'We are the Street,'" one investigator told me, laughing.

Through deals like this, Goldman within months went from having a $6 billion bet on mortgages to having a $10 billion bet against them — a "big short."

All of these moves were made with the assent of the Firmwide Risk Committee, which included Goldman CFO David Viniar, Blankfein and Cohn.

They would go on to fleece other clients. In the summer, an Australian hedge fund called Basis Capital was induced to buy $100 million of a mortgage-based Goldman deal called "Timberwolf." They told the Aussies to expect a return of "over 60 percent."

Meanwhile, in private, Goldman execs were saying things like, "Boy, that timberwof [sic] was one shitty deal."

The sales rep who got Basis to buy was so elated that the subject line of his email read "Utopia." He told other execs he'd found the ultimate sucker. "I found white elephant, flying pig and unicorn all at once," he crowed.

Basis Capital later claimed it lost $56 million in six weeks. It filed for bankruptcy within months of the Timberwolf deal.

Getting back to the Times story about how Goldman's smarts and humility saved them during the crash: One of the documents the Senate investigators discovered was an email from Goldman press flack Lucas van Praag to a group of senior Goldman executives that included Blankfein, Cohn and Viniar.

Van Praag wanted to warn the leadership that there was a Times piece coming that would examine why Goldman managed to prosper at a time when everyone else was being wiped out. Van Praag did not, of course, tell The Times that Goldman had survived by making sure that its clientele bought up what Blankfein called the "cats and dogs" of its toxic inventory.

What van Praag instead said was more Trumpian: that Goldman just had a winning culture.

"We spent a lot of time on culture as a differentiator," van Praag told his bosses, when describing his interactions with apparently gullible reporter Jenny Anderson. "She was receptive."

In response to van Praag's email, Blankfein wrote, "Of course we didn't dodge the mortgage mess. We lost money, then made more than we lost because of shorts."

This is the same Lloyd Blankfein who testified years later in the Senate: "We were not consistently or significantly net-short the market in residential mortgage-related products in 2007 and 2008."

He added, "We didn't have a massive short against the housing market, and we certainly did not bet against our clients."

When Sen. Levin heard Blankfein say he didn't have a "massive short" during 2007, he was furious. "Heck, yes, I was offended," he told Rolling Stone. "Goldman's CEO claimed the firm 'didn't have a massive short,' when the opposite was true."

We know the "opposite was true" because of the extensive email record these arrogant yutzes left behind. One of the smoking guns involved Cohn. On July 25, 2007, Viniar sent Cohn an email pointing out the huge losses and writedowns that other banks were experiencing.

"Tells you what might be happening to people who don't have the big short," Viniar told Cohn.

In the heat of the meltdown, there was some gallows humor between Cohn and Blankfein. At one point the two men seemed to be trying to figure out where they were with their mortgage strategy, and what to do going forward. "We are marking both sides," Cohn says. "There is a net short."

"Bet all the dads at camp are talking about the same stuff," Blankfein joked.

Goldman's higher-ups ended up having a great year. While the whole financial world was collapsing due in large part to behaviors like that of his own bank, Blankfein made $68.5 million, a record for a Wall Street executive. Cohn made $67.5 million. The two were the McGwire and Sosa of the profiting-off-others'-misery era. The bank, meanwhile, would lay off 3,200 lower-level employees within a year.

Goldman probably should have gone out of business in 2007-2008. Two little-discussed acts of government welfare in September of 2008 helped save the company.

First, there was the infamous emergency granting of Commercial Bank Holding Company status to Goldman. Have you ever seen a Goldman branch or a Goldman ATM? Probably not, because it isn't a commercial bank. But on September 21st, 2008, the government gave it permission to call itself one.

This move, so desperately needed that it was executed on a Sunday night, allowed Goldman access to mountains of life-saving cash from the Federal Reserve.

The other key move was a decision by the SEC to ban short-selling of financial stocks. This nakedly anticapitalist maneuver allowed Goldman to fend off attacks by speculators who correctly sensed the company was in deep trouble.

Apart from the SEC order, major shareholders like pension funds in New York and California also agreed to stop lending shares of Goldman and Morgan Stanley to short-sellers, essentially protecting these two banks in particular from the forces of the market. Notably, they were the two top-five investment banks that survived 2008.

Blankfein was initially opposed — "I'm for markets," he reportedly said — but as things worsened, he agreed with Morgan Stanley chief John Mack that they needed their government Daddy to save them.

"You're right. We have to do something about this," he said. He later called the decision "tricky."

Yet even with the SEC ban on short-selling, Goldman's stock price continued to plunge, from $207.78 in February 2008 to $47.41 in November. Cohn claims not to have been worried. "It wasn't scary at all," he said.

Vanity Fair found a colleague who scoffed at Cohn's assessment. "Complete and utter nonsense," the person said. For all their brains and humility, these geniuses needed the government to halt the free market on their behalf to survive.

Goldman deserves its villainous reputation. The bank symbolizes all the worst aspects of the modern "financialized" economy. The crash era was the ultimate example.

Banks like Goldman mostly didn't create anything of value during this time. Mostly what they did was engineer new ways to create credit that led to millions of people buying homes they couldn't afford, creating the mother of all financial bubbles.

When it all went bust, as it necessarily had to, they scrambled by hook or crook to dump the damage on other people. Clients ate their losses and they ran weeping to the taxpayer for rescue — Goldman got $12.9 billion alone just from the AIG bailout, which of course was engineered by former Goldman chief Hank Paulson. In the middle of all of this, people like Blankfein and Cohn paid themselves record amounts of compensation. They are scum, and it's absolutely fitting that so many of them will end up serving the Trump administration.

Donald Trump made a lot of political hay out of the iniquity of people like Cohn during his campaign. But his recent appointments are absolute proof that his "populist" message was a crock all along — not that we couldn't have guessed anyway.



  1. LouisBedrock December 17, 2016

    —Who’s paying for drinks?
    —Bedrock  —McEwen growled—.  He’s rich.
    Why me?  —Bedrock asked.
    Because we say so! —muttered Kalantarian.
    Well  —Bedrock responded—, I guess I’m paying for drinks.

    I wrote this imaginary dialogue to illustrate the use of the m- dash.

    If you have a copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses or Portrait Of The Artist As A Young man lying around, check it out.  Joyce uses the m-dash, in Spanish “la raya”, instead of quotation marks.  Joyce doesn’t follow the same rules that govern Spanish writers;  I do.

    William Gaddis uses the m-dash.

    I thought that Hemingway and Cormack McCarthy also used the m-dash, but I thought wrong.  Hemingway uses quotation marks.  McCarthy uses no punctuation at all before his direct speech 

    1. The raya is used instead of quotation marks.
    2. Periods and commas follow the utterance, or go after the second raya and the speaker, or after the third raya, if speech continues. Note period in McEwen sentence and comma in last sentence.
    3. Exclamation marks and question marks follow the utterance.
    4. Usage is too complicated to explain in a brief e-mail.  If you’re interested in this arcane topic, pick up a book of Gabriel García Márquez stories sometime and check out the rayas and the punctuation.

    I would gladly pay for all drinks in exchange for the privilege of hanging out with Bruce and Mike.

    • LouisBedrock December 17, 2016

      …and with Mark S. and Bruce A. too.

  2. Kathy Janes December 17, 2016

    Nice letter from Bill Baker. You should have him write more for the AVA.

    • Bruce Anderson December 17, 2016

      I hope he will. That was an excellent piece on an excellent man, much loved in the Anderson Valley.

  3. LouisBedrock December 17, 2016

    R.E.M. made a video for their song “Bad Day” which parodies corporate news programs. I like the song, but even if you don’t, it’s worth watching their video even with sound off. There are numbers all over the margins of the screen—just as they are on CNN. What are they? Sports scores? Stock prices? Updates on an election? Deaths from some natural disaster?

    The group’s bass player—and one of its two vocalists, Mike Mills, plays a befuddled weatherman, pointing to a preposterous array of temperatures in one region ranging from 80 degrees to zero.

    I mention this because it appears that the reality in New Jersey is imitating Michael Stipe’s video. I went to sleep last night with outdoor temperatures in the teens and a windy snow storm shaking my windows. It was still cold this morning, but the temperatures are rising. It will be in the forties tonight and will climb up to 60 degrees by tomorrow afternoon.

    Then, tomorrow night, the temperatures are predicted to plummet into the twenties again.

    Climate change? Nah—that’s just a left wing conspiracy.

    That’s my three comments for today.
    Over and out.

  4. Bill Pilgrim December 17, 2016

    re: The Goldmanization of government. No matter how the oligarchs and corporate MSM try to spin it, a government should not be run like a business. Simply put, the purpose of any government is to look after the needs of the people, not a group of investors.
    So-called liberals are outraged by Mister T.’s cabinet nominations, as if they will be taking the reins of squeaky clean, uncompromised agencies. What a joke. Nearly every significant agency – EPA, FDA, SEC, HUD, and so on – has been deteriorating from internal political rot for decades.
    Trump might be the ‘destroying angel,’ sent to deliver the last death blows to a crystalized, sclerotic system that is really already dead but just won’t lie down.
    “Any government that blindly follows market forces is leading its nation to destruction.” – the Bodhissatva Maitreya.

    • Stephen Rosenthal December 17, 2016

      “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasure. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury, with the result that democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a dictatorship. The average of the world’s greatest civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through the following sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependency, from dependency back to bondage.”

      – Alexander Tyler, 1778 (The Body Politic)

  5. Rick Weddle December 17, 2016

    re: ‘…leaders…’…

    Has it occurred to others yet today that what we’ve been calling ‘leaders’ among us, historically, are more ‘herders?’ Or ‘judas-goats?’ So, all that business about the Rights of Humans, and the Law and the Order, and the BioSphere being bulletproof, all that was bunch of hooey?

Leave a Reply

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