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Mendocino County Today: Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016

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FOR THOSE OF US in the northern hemisphere, today is winter solstice, the shortest day, and longest night, of the year. At Boonville latitude sunrise will be 7:28 am and sunset 4:54 pm, making the day 10 hours and 25 minutes long. Further north the days get shorter, for instance in Fairbanks, Alaska, the day only lasts 3 hours and 41 minutes (sunrise 10:58 am, sunset 2:39 pm). Incidentally, today's Fairbanks weather forecast is overcast with a high of -5 and a low of -20, and tomorrow should be partly cloudy with a high of -19 and a low of -28.

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SEVERAL READERS have pointed out that the remains of Anne Shapiro, 33, of Little River, washed ashore near Fort Bragg about a week before the Montana maniac, Nicholas Merrill, broke into a sleeping woman's house north of Fort Bragg late at night and commenced stabbing her — just walked in out of the night and attacked a woman he didn't know, the creepiest kind of assault imaginable.

MS. SHAPIRO did not have a car but had made her way from where she was last seen in Willits to the Fort Bragg area. Presumably, she hitchhiked to the coast. Merrill had a car and had made his way west from Montana, where he was wanted for felony vandalism. Presumably, investigators noted the proximity of the dates Ms. Shapiro was found, and Merrill's midnight rampage. (Merrill's victim managed to get away from the lunatic to a neighbor's house. Merrill was soon found by police crouched in nearby bushes, not willing to take on the male neighbor who'd scared him off.)

MERRILL, clearly a dangerous person, but a person whose doting parents paid for a lawyer to defend their bad seed, was sentenced to 14 years and 4 months in state prison. He got off way too light, but is one more example getting the justice you can pay for.

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FORMER THIRD DISTRICT SUPERVISOR John Pinches made a surprise and very welcome appearance at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting. Everybody was happy to see the popular cowboy — especially, as Pinches noted, since the Third District isn’t being represented by a functioning supervisor at the moment. Pinches was on hand to propose that now that the Willits Bypass is open, Caltrans should be pressured to install an emergency access ramp. (Pinches is not the first to notice that the bypass alongside Willits is essentially inaccessible except for the two entries/exits and the far north and far south of town.) “You can’t get easily to the hospital via the bypass,” Pinches pointed out, suggesting that a southbound emergency-only exit be added for quick access to the new Howard Hospital.

PINCHES ASKED THE BOARD to ask Caltrans to start the process. “It could be done cheaply,” insisted Pinches. “No structures to build, no water crossings, just a southbound exit and then loop back to Eastside Road. It’s a piece of cake. There are no issues. It might save somebody’s life. Hell! I rode the ambulance a few months ago — it might be me.”

PINCHES SAID THE RAMP should not be funded outside of Caltrans’s normal but cumbersome budget process, but instead it could be done with “safety funding” which, apparently, Caltrans has plenty of in reserve. “It does not have to be open for traffic,” insisted Pinches. “Emergency vehicles only. It would save 10-15 minutes for an ambulance.”

THE WOODHOUSE-LESS BOARD AGREED and a letter to Caltrans will be drafted. Pinches said he expects a similar letter from the Willits City Council. There was a meandering discussion about who, specifically, in Caltrans to send the letter to having to do with what Supervisor Dan Gjerde said was a semi-secret Mendo-Lake transportation planning group that they should try to get it to. “I’m not saying they owe it to us, but I think they’ll oblige us if we ask. But you don’t want to bash them. You always get more money if you talk nice to them.”

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SUPERVISOR JOHN McCOWEN gave a Doug Bosco style update of the dispute between the NCRA/NWP and SMART at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, implying that SMART’s stated safety concerns are really just a thinly veiled ploy to avoid paying for some track maintenance. Nevermind that the issue could probably have been resolved if NWP had supplied the requested storage and movement safety plan that SMART originally asked for.

McCOWEN, IN TURN, implies that if the issue ends up being decided by the Surface Transportation Board, “there are risks” — presumably to SMART because McCowen and his NCRA mentor (and NWP owner) Doug Bosco probably think they’ll get a friendly ruling from the STB.

McCOWEN OPENED THE UPDATE REPORT with an unexplained remark about the status of the Ukiah Depot. The depot, also owned by NCRA, is being sold to the State of California so that the Court/judges can build an entirely unnecessary and wasteful new courthouse a few blocks away from the existing downtown Courthouse. McCowen, speaking more as an NCRA board member than a Mendocino County Supervisor, seems to think that the sale is a good thing because NCRA will benefit, when in fact the whole deal is a way to shift some state money from the Courts to the NCRA at a price that is probably way too high because NCRA/Bosco probably knew they had the only viable location for the unnecessary and ugly new courthouse.

TOWARD THE END of his “update,” McCowen mentioned the financial condition of the NCRA and the NWP — never mind that the NCRA has never and will never release its books for pubic scrutiny and is doing just fine as long as there’s no real shipping activity besides the occasional small load of feed grain on top of the LPG tanker cars.

McCOWEN WRAPPED UP with the NCRA party-line fantasy about the Democratic Party’s choo-choo someday running into Mendocino County where there isn’t even any feed grain or liquid propane to ship/store. This fantasy must be maintained so that the NCRA and the NWP can continue to pull down track maintenance funds from CalTrans as if a train could or should ever run on the oh-so-desirable shipping link from Cloverdale to Willits.

McCOWEN: “There is a detailed status of the Ukiah Depot. That is still moving forward. I will have the County Clerk distribute copies to all the board members so you will have that information. You may have read about a controversy between the North Coast Railroad Authority and our hauler, Northwest Pacific Company and SMART, Sonoma Marin Area Rapid Transit regarding storage of liquefied petroleum gas tank cars on a siding owned by NCRA near Schellville 9 miles from the SMART tracks. SMART raised this as a safety issue which [shrugs] these cars are — there are probably thousands of them in the Bay Area on railroad sidings. They are moving through the populated areas all the time. [Waves arms.] That aside, there are discussions under way about possibly reaching a global settlement. I think SMART is using this as leverage to address a dozen or more issues by which they could resolve issues with NCRA and NWP Co. that could obligate SMART to spend money to restore rail sidings and a number of other issues. So potentially, all these outstanding issues could be resolved in consideration for NCRA and NWP Co. clearly having the right to transport and store these LPG cars. The alternative is to have the Surface Transportation Board issue a ruling. As with any litigation there is risk and I encourage both parties to seek a resolution. If this is resolved in a way that recognizes the right of NCRA and NWP Co. to transport and store the LPG cars, that alone would more than stabilize the financial condition of NWP Co. which would then improve the relationship between them as the designated operator and NCRA and potentially result in a financial benefit to NCRA as well, thereby stabilizing its financial condition. So potentially there is a landmark step forward that could occur. And then, if you can get NCRA off life support we could start serious discussions about how do you restore rail service to inland Mendocino County and potentially eventually to Willits which, although there is a big step between Redwood Valley and Willits, if you coud get to Willits it makes a lot of sense to hook up to the Skunk Line as well.”

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MORE DETAILS emerged today in the Joshua Ruoff murder case as deputies disclosed that it was Timothy Sweeting’s dog that returned to the pot pharm on Charlie Hurt Highway, Covelo, and dug up her murdered master’s remains.

THIS REPORTER had mistakenly understood that it was a cadaver dog that found Timmy’s remains (everyone called him Timmy except his killer). Timmy's dog had been missing a few days before and after the murder when Sweeting, his master, was listed merely as a missing person. But on June 2nd Jack Overend heard dogs fighting in his backyard — apparently Sweeting’s dog was fighting off the others — and when Overend went out to break it up he saw Sweeting’s dog and a human hand protruding from under the sod where the dog had been digging. The hand belonged to Sweeting. His dog had come back to find him.


ALSO REVEALED were the text messages from Joshua Ruoff to Jack Overend reading, “Eternal sleep is the cure-bird, and this fucking kid is a leech.” Ruoff sent a picture of the murder weapon, a baseball bat, and Overend, the owner of the property where Sweeting was found, who was in Lake Tahoe, sent back a text that read, “Let the babe sleep.”

THE SHALLOW GRAVE where Sweeting was found was only five or six feet from the deck of the house the pot pharmers shared. When Sweeting's body was exhumed it was taken in for an autopsy, attended by Detective Matt Croskey who told the court that not only had the forehead been “severely battered” but also there was “a wide slash or gash across the throat.”

SWEETING'S mother identified her son’s remains by a tattoo on his left breast.

WHETHER Timmy Sweeting’s dog was named Lassie or not, she pretty much solved this horrendous pot-related murder.

— Bruce McEwen

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LITTLE DOG SAYS, “Bruce McEwen's story about that murdered guy's dog coming back to look for her master way to hell and gone in Covelo, and then finding her murdered master in his shallow grave, really shook me up. Score another one for us dogs. We stay with you no matter what, unlike those other things that purr and only turn up when they're hungry.”

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by Julie Johnson

A bedridden Fort Bragg woman may have died in her apartment weeks or even months before her body was discovered Wednesday after neighbors complained about a smell.

When the woman’s caretaker returned to the apartment complex to submit papers for the paid job, officials said, she was arrested.


Monday, Lori Diane Fiorentino, 56, of Fort Bragg was charged with felony elder abuse causing death and false imprisonment in Mendocino County Superior Court’s Ten Mile courtroom in Fort Bragg, District Attorney officials said.

Fiorentino is scheduled to return to court Dec. 27.

Police Chief Fabian Lizarraga said their preliminary investigation revealed what appeared to be dire neglect of the woman, who has not been officially identified, to the point the body appeared emaciated and “mummified.”

“We observed what appeared to be severe neglect as far as no care to personal hygiene,” Lizarraga said. “We don’t know if she was being fed or given water.”

The woman may have died weeks or months prior to the Dec. 14 discovery of her body. Lizarraga said police are waiting for a forensic examination to provide a better estimate of when she died. The chief said the body was found on a couch in her living room and they are investigating whether Fiorentino was staying in the bedroom.

Neighbors identified the dead woman as Arlene Potts, a resident at The Duncan Place apartment complex on Cypress Street for more than a dozen years. A manager for the apartment, who declined to discuss the case, said the apartments house low-income seniors or people with disabilities. Potts was reported to be in her mid-60s.

Just a few doors down from apartment 216 where Potts lived and died, Rosalee Schenone said the news of her neighbor’s death was “very upsetting.”

“If we had known, any one of us would have helped her,” said Schenone, 74, of Fort Bragg.

She described Potts as kind and quiet and with hearing loss that made her unlikely to initiate conversation.

“You had to approach her,” Schenone said.

Schenone said she hadn’t seen Potts in many months and believed the woman suffered a fall and was unable to walk because of the injury. Until then, she was often seen walking to shop at the nearby Safeway or Rite Aid pharmacy, always alerting neighbors to a good sale.

Lizarraga said an injury had limited her mobility about a year ago but he didn’t have details.

“We believe she was completely bedridden,” said Lizarraga.

Officer Joe Breyer, a lead investigator on the case, said no evidence has been found that Fiorentino was caring for anyone else. Fiorentino was employed through the state’s In-Home Supportive Services program, through the Health and Human Services Agency, Breyer said. Caretaker pay, such as time cards, are overseen by a county’s adult protectives services department. It’s a position that requires no certification or license.

Breyer said he’s investigating not only neglect but also potential financial abuse.

He declined to discuss the case further, including how Fiorentino came to Fort Bragg and became a caretaker. Public records showed Fiorentino had a residence in southern California, according to Breyer.

“All I can say is it was a long-term relationship, meaning several years,” Breyer said.

A former manager for Duncan Place, Pamela Rowden, said Potts had already lived there for several years in about 2003 when she took the management position. Rowden said she found out through friends on social media that Potts had died.

“She loved children,” Rowden said. “She would tell my daughter how pretty she was and tell my son he was a very talented and smart boy. It killed me to find out what happened to her.”

Rowden, who moved with her family to Texas in 2008, said she saw Potts at least weekly at the apartment complex. She also said Potts’ hearing loss was significant and made it difficult for her to communicate.

“And if I didn’t see her for a week, you need to check on her, that goes for anyone,” Rowden said.

Anyone with information about the case can call Fort Bragg Police Officer Joe Breyer at 707-961-2800 x189. Callers wishing to remain anonymous can call the department’s crime tip hotline at 707-961-3049.

(Santa Rosa Press Democrat)

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A READER comments on that grisly find of the mummified woman in Fort Bragg: "Everybody's been pointing fingers at Cindy, the manager at Duncan Place. Let me say, for the record, that I'm a tenant here and Cindy is one of the most informative, caring, thoughtful managers that I've ever had. She doesn't just think of us as tenants, she really does care and does do welfare checks!! Lori [Fiorentino, in home care worker] had all of us fooled. She ran games all over this place and as far as the smell in the hallways, there was none except a strong urine smell off and on. I was running up and down the stairs on that side visiting friends for a couple months over there and I smelled nothing!! So before you start casting stones find out the full story!!"

AS IT HAPPENS, my disabled sister lived at Duncan Place for a number of years. Duncan Place is on Cypress in Fort Bragg virtually across the street from the police department. I know that building pretty well. The tenants are mostly elderly, mostly disabled. The structure is rather labyrinthian and tomb-like, I'd say, in that it's well-carpeted and apparently so well insulated sound does not carry, not that I ever heard so much as a squeak emanating from any of the many lonely doors. There are long halls and absolute silence, even in the mostly empty, austere recreation room where I never saw anyone recreating. My impression was that everyone in the place could have been dead for months without anyone knowing. But that unhappy circumstance would be unlikely since there's an on-site manager who, in the years I visited, were efficient and accommodating. And Fort Bragg's emergency services and medical people deserve double whatever they're paid, as I know from the superior level of care rendered my sister in her many hours of need. If it is known an elderly or disabled Fort Bragg person is imperiled, FB's emegency people will for sure be there.

READING between the lines of the sparse accounts of this poor woman's sad end, I would guess that her in-home person was primarily committed to go-fast powder, but probably intended, in her perpetually fevered state, to do the right thing but never quite got around to it. She probably had other priorities. I know a lot of in-home people do a great job under difficult circumstances, but the near-minimum wage work does not require a license or, it seems, much in the way of background checks.

THE REAL STORY here is that millions of people are adrift, estranged from their families and without even a chum to look in on them regularly. We grow weak, the wolves circle, and if you don't have someone keeping the fire lit to keep them away, the wolves will surely devour you.

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Defendant Silviano Castaneda Gonzales, age 37, formerly of Talmage, was sentenced this morning by Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Ann Moorman to 11 years, 10 months in state prison.

The defendant stands convicted of lewd and lascivious acts on a child under the age of 14 years, attempted forcible rape, oral copulation of a child under the age of 14 years, and unlawful penetration with a foreign object of a child under the age of 14 years.

Assuming for the sake of argument that these violent convictions will not be subject to modification by the recent passage of Proposition 57, the defendant — under pre-Prop 57 law — should have to serve 85% of the sentence imposed. When eventually paroled from prison, the defendant will be required to register as a sex offender in any community where he resides.

Dating back to calendar years 2012 and 2013, the criminal sex acts for which the defendant was convicted involved a young girl when she was 8 and 9 years old.

The law enforcement agency which investigated the case was the Ukiah Police Department. The prosecutor who presented the People's evidence at the August trial and who also argued the District Attorney's position at today's sentencing hearing was Deputy District Attorney Shannon Cox.

(District Attorney Press Release)

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Sunset Cairns (Photo by Annie Kalantarian)

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To the Editor:

On 3-10-1984 my wife Kristine (of 36 1/2 years) and two daughters, ages 2 and 3 months (with a severe seizure and autism disorder) came to Ukiah to raise a family and start a long career (31 years) in law enforcement.

My goal was to make this county and community a great and safe place to raise a family and make a good and honest income. I was raised by a fantastic mother and father and taught to give back to community any way you can. Being from this county for approximately 40 plus years, we have donated back to the community approximately $500 a year to groups including Plowshares, Food Bank, Special Olympics, Toy drives and Youth Sports. Without asking for anything back other than setting good examples for others to give to great charities and righteous less fortunate folks trying to do it right.

Those of us in the realm of giving back include numerous persons, real businesses and other private entities (you and I know who you are and kudos to you all.) Recently the Redding family and those who participated made the Ukiah Christmas Parade a huge success (like it used to be when we had real jobs and commerce in this county.) This family and those who have been participating for the past three years have made the parade happen without much help from the city fathers and mothers on the city trough and county well.

The Redding family and those who participated in and worked the event made the city of Ukiah a giver instead of a taker.

There are a whole lot of givers (you know who you are) in this community, but for the past several years maybe we now have a whole lot of takers.

I am not a conservative nor a liberal. I am not of a green mind nor libertarian. I am an Independent. I use both sides of a topic and make my own decisions on an intellect of independence and moral grounds.

It is time we independent thinkers take back our community by giving and receiving equally as best one can. No more just giving without receiving at least a thank you or acknowledgement by those takers or glad handlers who think they are entitled. This county has become a cesspool of grifters looking for a quick green cash cow and just taking without giving back. Unfortunately this county has allowed it to prosper into a taking, taking monopoly. It is time to just say “no more” to those takers.

Please continue to be charitable to those less fortunate, but not to those who prefer to grift in our green pasture we call Mendocino County and the Ukiah community.

Merry Christmas and please be safe.

Kurt Smallcomb, Ukiah

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CATCH OF THE DAY, December 20, 2016

Bolton, Faber, Garcia, Hohmann

JOHN BOLTON IV, Willits. Drunk in public, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)

SCOTT FABER, Ukiah. Community Supervision violation.

JACOB GARCIA, Ukiah. Unauthorized entry into dwelling, probation revocation.

ELIZABETH HOHMANN, Ukiah. Failure to appear.

Holm, Jarvis, Jones

ELIZABETH HOLM, Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation.

RAYMOND JARVIS, Akron, Ohio/Ukiah. Receiving stolen property, false impersonation of another, forged vehicle registration, unsatisfactory ID.

JEDIDIAH JONES, Willits. Probation revocation.

Leon-Flores, Long, Miller, North

JAVIER LEON-FLORES, Ukiah. Fugitive from justice.

JEANETTE LONG, Philo. Community supervision violation.

TAYLOR MILLER, Ukiah. Communication with prisoner, personal use of firearm, protective order violation.

MICHAEL NORTH, Fort Bragg. Parole violation.

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I've been on a search for children’s books, the season you know. But I wanted to find books that I liked as a kid. The Little Engine That Could is still available, but I'm stumped on my favorite, the Topsy Turvy book I had in the early 50's. People have taken the term and run wild with it, and the one I want still isn't there. It was an early introduction to the absurdity of society and family, everything backwards and contrary to what we were taught. Dad buttered his napkin and wiped his mouth with the toast. Thanks to this book, I suspect I encountered fewer surprises in the "real" world than many other kids did. I don't suppose you've ever seen it?

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Navarro Point thistle removing THIS Wednesday, 10am-noon

Hello. You are invited to join us as we remove thistles at Navarro Point on Wednesday, Dec 21st, Winter Solstice, from 10am until noon. We cancelled last Wednesday due to expected rain, but will definitely be there this Wednesday under the predicted sunny skies. This coastal headland is a stunningly beautiful place to be outside. You can find us in the parking lot on the west side of Highway 1 a half mile south of the Navarro Ridge Road turn-off at 10am. No tools or previous experience are necessary. We hope to see you there this Wednesday at 10am. Contact me if you have questions.

Tom, 937-1113,

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On Thursday, December 15, at approximately 5:54 pm, Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to a disturbance at a residence in the 27900 block of Poppy Drive in Willits.

Deputies responded and contacted Chad Mabery (age 29, of Willits) inside a truck at the location. Mabery was exhibiting symptoms of being under the influence of an alcoholic beverage when speaking with Deputies.

Deputies learned Mabery was on formal probation in Mendocino County with terms to obey all laws and abstain from alcohol consumption. Based on this contact, Deputies advised and placed Mabery under arrest for Violation of Formal Probation and Public Intoxication.

Mabery was subsequently booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held on a no-bail status due to violating the terms of his probation.

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On Wednesday, December 14, at approximately 7:50 am, Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to a vehicle vandalism at a residence in the 2000 block of Goose Road in Willits.

Deputies responded to investigate and met with a 26-year-old female who advised Devin Nielson (age 34, of Laytonville) had just left the residence after the pair had an argument. After that time, the adult female discovered her vehicle had been vandalized when Nielson was outside of the residence.

Deputies examined the vehicle and found significant damage to the hood, exterior mirror, and to the door. Based on the investigation, it was determined there was more than $400 in damage to the vehicle.

Deputies developed information that Nielson may have been transported to his residence in Laytonville.

Deputies responded to Laytonville and spoke with Nielson about this investigation. Nielson was subsequently placed under arrest for Felony Vandalism.

Nielson was booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in lieu of $15,000 bail.

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In preparation for the holiday season, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office recently began an anti-mail theft campaign throughout Mendocino County. Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies, working in cooperation with United States Postal Inspectors and numerous private citizens began an intensive surveillance program, specifically targeting thefts of mail on rural mail routes.

On Sunday, December 18, Deputies learned that items of mail had been stolen from the area of West Road in Redwood Valley. Deputies were able to locate the suspect vehicle in the city of Ukiah and with the assistance of Ukiah Police Department, conducted a traffic stop.

Inside the vehicle, deputies found stolen mail from Tomki Road in Redwood Valley and the Pine Mountain area of Willits. A search of the vehicle revealed stolen property including mail and packages from numerous locations. The investigation lead to the arrest of the driver, Katelyn Walker, a 22-year-old as well as the passenger, a 17-year-old female.

Both suspects were transients from the Willits area.

The investigation revealed the subjects were stealing items from rural mail boxes and were specifically targeting packages, holiday cards and items which would contain cash or valuables.

Walker was booked into the Mendocino County Jail on charges including conspiracy to commit a crime, theft, mail theft, possession of stolen property and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

The juvenile was booked into the Mendocino County Juvenile Hall on charges of conspiracy, theft, mail theft and possession of stolen property.

Walker's bail was set at $30,000.

The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the citizens who assisted in this investigation and to remind members of the public who have rural delivery mailboxes to remove your mail daily. If you are going to be gone, contact the United States Postal Service for a stop delivery to your mailbox and to report any suspicious vehicles or persons who might be involved in mail theft.

(Sheriff’s Press Release)

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Personal Assistant needed.


I am looking for a personal assistant/person Friday/all-around helpful, flexible joyous, no-drama person to help me during this time of work abundance. The number of hours will depend of the level of skills: If someone is into gardening and basic home caring as well as errand running, call making, etc., then I can use them for more hours. If they are only super-organized and helpful in coordinating other help, that’s nice but it will necessarily involve less hours. I already have a work administrative assistant and I have someone that is helping clean every few weeks, but I am so very busy that errands, house up keeping stuff (not cleaning), bureaucratic phone calls, food shopping, maybe some cooking if the person is into it is needed… basically, I am looking for a positive, organized person to support me while I support others in the work I do. The pay will be determined on the basis of experience and skills being brought to the situation. No matter what, you MUST have: A running vehicle that is properly licensed (you & the vehicle). A working phone that you can text on. A positive attitude (bonus points for downright joyous). An ability to think ahead and problem solve. Flexibility (I will be happy to try to set specific hours, but if there might be times that the schedule has to change). References: it’s ok if you were never a personal assistant before (I have never had one), but I do need both personal references and work references that can verify the above listed items in a work context. Discretion: My work requires a lot of confidentiality. Anyone I hire must be able and willing to abide by that in case they are exposed to confidential information during their duties. As said above, if you enjoy (or don’t mind) doing some gardening, home upkeep (not cleaning), and/or cooking, that’s wonderful! Please submit something with your qualifications, references and if possible, some times you are available to meet in the next week or two (I know it’s the holidays, so maybe it won’t be practical to meet folks till later). This gig probably requires a more personal working relationship than most, so it will be important that I feel comfortable with the person — especially since we will be in and around my home. With that said, I am perfectly capable of keeping it professional with appropriate boundaries that we both agree upon if that is important to someone. I don’t have much time right now, so please make this easy on me by giving me all the info I need to begin with. Thanks!

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"MISSION COULD HEAR his old man’s voice from all the levels away, could hear his father telling him how people had thought the same thing long before he and his brother were born, that it was the hubris of each generation to think this anew, to think that their time was special, that all things would come to an end with them. His father said it was hope that made people feel this, not dread. People talked of the end coming with barely concealed smiles. Their prayer was that when they went, they wouldn’t go alone. Their hope was that no one would have the good fortune to come after."

— Shift, Hugh Howey

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  1. The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run the country.
  2. The Washington Post is read by people who think they run the country.
  3. The New York Times is read by people who think they should run the country, and who are very good at crossword puzzles.
  4. USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don't really understand The New York Times.
  5. The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn't mind running the country, if they could find the time and if they didn't have to leave Southern California to do it.
  6. The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country.
  7. The New York Daily News is read by people who aren't too sure who's running the country and don't really care as long as they can get a seat on the train.
  8. The New York Post is read by people who don't care who is running the country as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while intoxicated.
  9. The Chicago Tribune is read by people that are in prison that used to run the state, and would like to do so again, as would their constituents that are currently free on bail.
  10. The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country, but read the baseball scores.
  11. The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren't sure if there is a country or that anyone is running it; but if so, they oppose all that they stand for. There are occasional exceptions if the leaders are gay, handicapped, minority, feminist, atheists, and those who also happen to be illegal aliens from any other country or galaxy, provided of course, that they are not Republicans.
  12. The National Enquirer is read by people trapped in line at the grocery store.
  13. The Seattle Times is read by people who have recently caught a fish and need something to wrap it in.
  14. Santa Rosa Press Democrat is a mandatory read by the immediate families of staff and the wine industry whose interests the paper faithfully tends.

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by Jeff Costello

Reading the anti-semitism piece in the Dec. 20 daily Mendo County Today, I was reminded of the time I learned about the practice (belief?) of Jew-hating.

I grew up in central Connecticut, a place where Catholicism was the dominant religion, but was saved from that by the fact that my Irish father had excommunicated himself at the age of 12. Neither parent was religious but my Scottish mother sent me to a Presbyterian Sunday school where I couldn't get past the painting of a blond Jesus talking to two blond children -- all dressed in white -- in a perfectly manicured city park. That and the smarmy "teacher" who handed out candy to all the kids at the beginning of class. I told my mother I wouldn't be going back and she accepted that without question.

So no, I'm not Jewish, but I had Jewish cousins in Manhattan, from my uncle's wife, who came with kids attached. At the time (early-mid fifties) everyone in New York City was Italian, Irish or Jewish. Or uptown, black and Puerto Rican. Simpler times. Would "West Side Story" have a Pakistani gang if written today?

We moved from Hartford to the suburb of Farmington, what our New York relatives called "the country" --- there were trees -- in 1954. I was eight years old. My parents saw fit to send me off to a day camp the next summer. Camp Winding Trails had some sort of activities, none of which I really remember except the little carnivals where the counselors guessed your weight or you threw balls at bottles.

The one memory I still carry with me is the time we walked through the woods to a neighboring camp in the nearby town of Avon. We were met somewhere in the middle by kids from other camp. Suddenly I was being pelted with rocks, while the blond Hitler-youth-looking kid throwing them yelled "Jew! Fucking Jew!"

I may be Scot-Irish but I had dark hair and more or less my father's nose. There's a name for these noses, Roman or aquiline, I think. I've been mistaken for Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and other such Mediterranean types most of my life, but with this "Jew" thing I was being physically attacked. A mixed-race music group I knew in the 60's called the Jam Factory had a song called "What's the Matter with People." This song came to my mind with the Trump thing. I saw the rallies, full of people who had a great deal the matter with them. But it's nothing new.

Eventually some adult stopped the Hitler Youth kid from throwing the rocks. But I had learned something - or other - about things the matter with people.

* * *

* * *


by Ralph Nader

Dear President Obama:

On November 28, 2016, Jimmy Carter, the President who negotiated the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt in 1978, wrote an op ed for the New York Times titled, “America Must Recognize Palestine.” His urgent plea was directed to you to take “the vital step to grant American diplomatic recognition to the state of Palestine, as 137 countries have already done, and help it achieve full United Nations membership,” before you leave office on January 20, 2017.

Mr. Carter referenced your reaffirmation in 2009 of the Camp David agreement between Israel and Egypt and United Nations Resolution 242 when you called “for a complete freeze on settlement expansion on Palestinian territory that is illegal under international law.” He noted that in 2011 you made clear that, in your words, “the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines” and that “negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine.”

Former President Carter sees that the “combined weight of United States recognition, United Nations membership [for Palestine] and a UN Security Council resolution solidly grounded in international law would lay the foundation for future diplomacy.”

With Israeli lawmakers moving to annex more Palestinian land (the 22 percent left of old Palestine), prompting a public plea by outgoing UN chief Ban Ki-moon to reconsider, and the forthcoming carte blanche for Israeli repression of the Palestinians from the Trump Administration, Mr. Carter sees these measures as “the best — now, perhaps, the only — means of countering the one-state reality that Israel is imposing on itself and the Palestinian people” and “that could destroy the Israeli democracy.”

He adds that “recognition of Palestine and a new Security Council resolution are not radical new measures, but a natural outgrowth of America’s support for a two-state solution.”

In the remaining post-election weeks of your final term, you are freer than you’ve ever been to make these decisions for peace and justice in that troubled area — moves rooted in your pronouncements early in your first term.

More than any other president, you have approved the greatest transfer of the latest military weapons, research and intelligence to the Israeli government. More than any president, you have agreed to an unprecedented 10 year deal for the multi-billion dollar annual military assistance program. No other country has ever come close to receiving that gift from the American Taxpayers.

More than any other president, you have been forbearing to the extreme when the Israeli prime minister, in an impetuous move, widely criticized in Israel, circumvented the White House in 2015 so as to undermine your delicate, multi-lateral negotiations with Iran by his addressing a joint session of Congress.

In return for all this largess and astonishing self-restraint, you have been the subject of a non-stop revilement in Israel with ugly racist epithets and absurd accusations of anti-Semitism against Jews. This campaign of calumny has brought down your approval polls there often to single digits and diminished the Israeli peace movement.

Is it not time for action on behalf of regional peace? You’ll have the support of the active peacemakers on both sides — including numerous former heads of the Israeli domestic and foreign intelligence agencies (see The “Gatekeeper” and the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace), former cabinet ministers, mayors and public intellectuals, not to mention stalwart Israeli human rights organizations, such as B’Tselem.

As if any further urgency to act is needed, you must be appalled by the declarations of Donald Trump and his selection of his bankruptcy lawyer, who is privy to Trump’s innermost business dealings, David Friedman, to be the next Ambassador to Israel.

Friedman, who has accused you of “blatant anti-Semitism,” is a hard-liner on Israeli colonial expansionism and annexations in the West Bank. His bigotry against Palestinian Arabs is deep and long standing, making him an anti-Semite against these Arabs whose Semitic ancestors have lived there since time immemorial (See James Zogby’s “The Other Anti-Semitism”). If Friedman reflects Mr. Trump’s policies, the uncontrollable eruption of this long-simmering conflict is seen as a near certainty by expanding Jewish-American groups such as J Street and Jewish Voices for Peace.

What more foreboding do you need?

Many commentators who know you have described your last year in office as rounding out your historical legacy as President. I have suggested a number of initiatives that help define your presidency (see “Return to Sender”).

But Jimmy Carter is experienced, right and prescient — he’s earned that encomium — in believing that joining the community of nations by recognizing Palestine, allowing the UN security Council resolution to be passed and supporting UN membership for Palestine could be your most consequential contribution to Middle East security, and our domestic priorities, with other likely collateral benefits for world peace.

The American people, for the most part, including Jewish and Arab Americans, judging by the polls over time, would applaud such statesman-like actions.

Sincerely yours,

Ralph Nader

(Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!)

* * *

* * *


Silent Night Holy Night

modern age 
of ancient starlight

Star of Bethlehem 
shine so bright

soundless blaze 
in the cold night

tonight the Holy Child 
is born at last

born at last 
to a waiting world

waking at last 
from the dream


He slept in

born now into this 
our waiting world

born into suffering

born into helplessness

born into the frozen mud 

among the beasts

born into Aleppo


comes now

the Holy Child

born now into this 
our wailing world.


— John Sakowicz

December 18, 
4:30 am

Orr Hot Springs



  1. BB Grace December 21, 2016

    I love Israel.

    It’s really expensive to visit Israel so I’m sorry to say that I have not been there because really, it’s the only place in the world I have a profound desire to explore anthropologically, as there are numerous digs hosted by numerous universities that interest me, and being a museum patron, there are many museums and libraries (book stores, my gosh the book stores!), especially those in Safer where mystics, those in advanced occult, very strong connection to India and healing arts teach. I’d like to explore the areas, which look amazing on video, of their parks, as Israel sees the migration of birds from Europe, Asia and Africa, they have brought endangered flora and fauna to thrive with humans, as humans are part of the solution.

    Their technology, medicine, which includes medical marijuana is legal, but very different from the US, as cannabinoids are pharmaceutical graded and packaged as advanced medicine, but I have seen places where hookahs are common, anyways, I just find it interesting that Israel is way far ahead of the US and the US is partying like it’s 1975.

    I would like to tour Israel with a secular organization, like Shin Bet and see the Knesset, which I love Israeli politics for its many parties, many voices, many ideas, fascinating to see human minds wrestling for power, unlike the US where it’s all a MSM dog and pony show. Anyways, I’d like to tour Israel with a Druze, Franciscan, Messianic, Chabbad, protestant, and food guides. I’d like to plant a tree as Israel is the only place in the world the forest advanced by 20%, everywhere else, including the US lost forests, and though arsons set Israel’s forests on fire this fall, there is no lack of VOLUNTEERS who are eager to get their hands dirty and plant more trees. I’ve always been a volunteer in some way, so it’s exciting to think about being among many volunteers of many organizations. In all honesty, I didn’t mean to have this long distant relationship, it’s just when I began doing research on what is Israel, there was this tremendous mountain of nothing good about Israel to get through, I guess finding what is good about Israel is like finding a diamond buried in coal. But once the light of Israel dawned on me, what IS Israel besides one of the few places a Jew can actually and literally be a Jew?

    It’s the greatest human mind collective of resources in the world. Any idea I want to advance on, I look to Israel. Israel is light years ahead of the rest of us and why I believe it gets knocked, as there is a coveted very selfish aspect in some of our leaders who use Israel as a source, but insult Israel because they fear others will learn they’re just profiting off what they learned in Israel. Israel exposed many of my former “gurus”, not that I blame them, as here in the US people do things they don’t want to do so they can live, and when society is corrupt, as ours is, It’s hard for me to blame people going out of their minds. Our society is set up to make you lose your mind as if you lived in Palestine.

    Many blame Israel, but I see the UN as the problem as the UN depends on sustaining conflict for it’s reason to exist in the name of peace keeper, which it isn’t, but rather it’s a wedge responsible for many deaths and lies encouraging “Pallywood”.

    The four “left” sites named on the “Fake News” were named because they publish “Pallywood” as if it’s real news. Pallywood is where a film crew pays Palestinians to create an issue so they can film it to continue pressure on Israel, which what they actually want is more money for the UN. Abbass built a $13 Million mansion (and he’s afraid to retire because Palestinians hate him), but he’s THE Authority. How anyone can be in solidarity with an Authority like Palestine Authority, the most corrupt government on Earth, and my heart bleeds for the Palestinians who have to deal with that government, which is interesting how I found out, by watching Palestinian movies, which are awesome, and how they can make jokes about how terrible their government and useless the UN that keeps Palestine as broken as possible because it’s a racket they profit, not the Palestinian people or refugees forced there.

    This election Russians were blamed as RT is very popular on internet news. Iran with its Press TV is the other, that has not come to surface yet, but it will, and it will be about Israel as Iran is Aryan and Islamic and responsible for most of the bad press against Israel, so I’m not sure how Trump is going to do it, but as Clinton brought up RT, I think Trump will be on Press TV (Iran) concerning Israel. Which will prevail and I’ll tell you why.

    Iran, Palestine Authority, Islam do not believe in self determination. Israel does, and that’s very important for humans to advance, which humans will.

    The way I see it, those who don’t appreciate Israel is their right. If all you see is bad stuff with Israel, then you haven’t really looked at Israel, and if you don’t want to even look at Israel, that’s ok, but if you’re going to tell me how bad Israel is, then you show yourself as a person who isn’t looking for diamonds, but likes to wallow in coal. Enjoy. I most definitely am enjoying my studies concerning Israel and continue to look forward to when I can go in the flesh.

    I love Israel.

  2. Bruce McEwen December 21, 2016

    “Ah, [BB], you poor diddums.
    “I tried to check the spelling of ‘diddums’ in Webster’s, America’s inspiring, foremost dictionary. No luck. But then, what’s the point when Webster’s Third New International Dictionary defines ‘anti-Semitism’ as ‘opposition to Zionism: sympathy with opponents of the state of Israel.’
    “It’s only fair, of course, to quote the pitiful response of the Webster’s official publicist, Mr. Arthur Bicknell, who was asked to account for this grotesque definition. ‘Our job,’ he responded, ‘is to accurately reflect English as it is actually being used. We don’t make judgment calls; we’re not political.’ Even more hysterically funny and revolting, he says that the dictionary’s editors tabulate ‘citational evidence’ about anti-Semitism published in ‘carefully written prose-like books and magazines.’ Preposterous as it is, this Janus-like remark is worthy of the hollowest of laughs.” — Robert Fisk.

    As for Julie Johnson’s Post Democrat story on the Fort Bragg elder abuse case of Lorie Diane Fiorentino, she was actually arraigned in Judge Ann Moorman’s court, despite what “District Attorney officials” told Ms. Johnson over the phone. Ms. Fiorentino shuffled into the courtroom like the most pitiful of invalids and you had to wonder how she could even take care of herself, let alone anyone else. Judge Moorman appointed the Public Defender’s Assistant, Carly Dolan, who immediately began asking for Fiorentino’s release on O.R. The judge cut her short and suggested she read the probable cause statement before going any further. Well, we all make mistakes, but if the lawyers at the OPD were not proscribed from reading the AVA online Dolan would have known she had been handed a no-bail case.

    One more thing: Now’s the time to get and MCT for that special person on your holiday gift list who needs to WTHU!

    • BB Grace December 21, 2016

      I think a really good Jewish deli would be very successful in Mendocino County Mr. McEwen.

      • Bruce McEwen December 21, 2016

        I do too. And you’d be the ideal person to write a review!

      • David Lilker December 22, 2016

        It is not a full sevice deli, but Roland’s Bakery in Willits has by far the best rye bread, bagels, and bialies to be had in Mendocino County, or probably anywhere on the west coast, for that matter.

        • BB Grace December 22, 2016

          Mr. Lilker I appreciate the suggestion to visit Roland’s Bakery and Bistro 1726 South Main St Willits, TripAdvisor 4.5, Facebook 4.6, Yelp 4.7, voted best bakery, great baker and real chef. The remarks and reviews are very good finding a strong collective passion for the rye bread and bagels among customers who claim Roland’s breads are also sold at Harvest Market.

          The pictures of the pastries sure look fattening. I’m totally in the mood for jelly doughnuts at the moment, However, I’m really looking forward to visiting Roland’s Bakery and Bistro very soon.

          Thank you.

  3. Alice Chouteau December 21, 2016

    Hi Jeff
    I Remember that book well. It was written by Peter Newell, tho there are some disappointing modern versions since it is now public domain. Newell wrote at least two other favorites—-The Slant Book, and The Hole Book. You should be able to order his version from your local bookshop, or online.

    Enjoyed the newspaper reviews. The SF Chronicle is the worst of all. There was coverage everywhere but the Chron of a double homicide of two homeless people in a Mission St encampment yesterday. Why did it omit this news in favor of pleasant fluff?
    Not worth a glance. Lucky we have The AVA!

    • Jeff Costello December 21, 2016

      Alice, all my attempts to find the real Topsy Turvy book online have been drowned in the many other books. I’ll try again with the author’s name, thanks.
      Maybe the Chronicle died with Herb Caen.

      • Jeff Costello December 21, 2016

        Well, another blind alley with Peter Newell, whose books predate the existence of an electric toaster, and the illustrations are different from what I remember.

  4. james marmon December 21, 2016


    Kurt has it been that long, over 32 years? I think I remember your first day at work at the jail, I was there to greet you. When Plowshares first opened behind my mom’s house on Luce, it primarily fed a lot of folks who had once lived at the State Hospital and were struggling to stay alive in the Community. For many it was their only meal of the day.

    I agree with you that county has allowed itself to prosper into taking monopoly, and that goes all the way to the top, they love those federal and state dollars coming into the County, and for that reason we will never have enough grifters, mentally ill, child abuses, or drug addicts to satisfy the County’s needs for revenue.

    You’re a good man Kurt, and Merry Christmas to you and your family.



  5. sohumlily December 21, 2016

    Hasbara alert!

    • Bruce McEwen December 21, 2016

      Thanx for the heads-up. But I still think, if Ms. Grace would develop her God-given talent as a food critic — and leave-off the political wisdom pontificating — she’d have all-expense-paid trips to not only Israel, but many other locales to review restaurants for slick regionals and other glossy periodicals.

  6. LouisBedrock December 21, 2016

    A Druze, Franciscan, Messianic, Chabad, Protestant, and a Jew were sampling food in different restaurants in Haifa. They encountered a platoon of IDF armed with Uzis.

    —Fire! —said the captain.
    —But Sir —protested the sergeant—, there may be Jews among them.
    —As Arnaud Amalric advised —replied the captain—: Kill them all and let God sort it out.

    • Bruce McEwen December 21, 2016

      The Scotts were cheated on a similar arrangement by the Britts, but it had to be at Scottish convenience, and to the Lairds’ advantage, so the bleeding bloody English told ’em to bugger off; oh, my, yes, the Scotts howled anti-Celtism at the top of their fluent, glib and internationally reknowned lungs, but to no avail.

      Their brothers, their Celtic kith and kin, were treated even worse. Alas and alack, the potato famine made no impression on the world’s collective conscience… (the only people who sent the Irish relief were the starving Native Americans who had barely survived the trail of tears, from their homes in Alabama and Georgia, taken by Old Hickory, and all of that sad story about the world’s first concentration camp.)

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