- Winter Weather
- Boonville Night
- Trash Contract
- Little Dog
- 2016 Awards
- SFO Parking
- White Lightning
- Yesterday's Catch
- New Laws
- Katsu Goto
- Social Security
- Water Enforcement
- Obama's Watch
YORKVILLE WEATHER STATION reported 9.92 inches rainfall for the month of December, raising their season total to 27.04 inches. A good wet start to the rainy season.
AND AS 2016 FADES INTO 2017, the National Weather Service says "light snow will develop late tonight over interior Del Norte and Humboldt Counties, as well as portions of Trinity County. Snow levels are forecast to fall below 500 feet over Del Norte, Humboldt, and Trinity Counties, to around 1500 feet over Mendocino County, Sunday night through Monday night. Snow levels will then increase to around 1500 to 2500 feet Tuesday and Tuesday night. As this takes place, persistent shower development will occur across the region resulting in moderate to occasionally heavy snow over interior Northwest California. 4 to 7 inches of snow is expected to accumulate for locations above 500 feet Sunday and Sunday night, with an additional 7 to 12 inches possible Monday through Wednesday."
THE MAJOR’S DOWNTOWN BOONVILLE NEW YEARS RAMBLE: Firecrackers near fairgrounds about 9pm, apparently by celebrants who thought that they were in New York. Mexican music, uncharacteristically not very loud, with an odd middle-eastern flavor, wafting up the street about 10pm. Four sets of six pistol shots near the south end of town between 11:50pm and midnight. (Time between series, about two minutes, just enough time to reload a six-shooter.) Dogs start barking. A rooster crows. A rifle shot about 11:55pm. Another rifle shot a minute later. What was that smell that drifted by momentarily? Pot? Fireplace? Midnight barbecue? Very little traffic. Nobody on the street. Christmas lights mostly gone or off.
WHEN MIKE SWEENEY locks you into a contract, you can bet you are really locked in. Before Sweeney retired as Mendocino County’s long-serving Trash Czar, he set up the contract which Jerry Ward’s Solid Waste of Willits outfit operates under. Ward essentially IS the County's rural garbage man. He has served us efficiently and, considering the vast distances his trucks travel, inexpensively.
WARD'S CONTRACT requires that he periodically apply for and justify rate increases, including a $33,000 “independent audit” that he has to pay for.
The “audit” must then be submitted to Sweeney’s hand-picked successor at the Mendocino Solid Waste Management Authority, Louisa Morris. Ward submitted his request for a rate increase back in December of 2015 with his own numbers and a request that the County forego the independent audit to speed up the process.
IN HIS REQUEST to the Supervisors, Ward said he was losing money on all five transfer stations and on his recycle/buyback centers (due to a downturn in the market for recyclables). Ms. Morris told the Supervisors that Ward is making more than 12% profit and that that was more than other similar companies make.
WARD RESPONDED that Ms. Morris wasn’t factoring in interest on loans or taxes which turn the alleged 12-plus-percent “profit” into a loss.
THE DISPUTE has lingered for a year while Ward keeps losing money. Supervisor Dan Hamburg, who has apparently been spearheading an ad hoc committee to deal with Ward’s rate increase request, and making no progress, belatedly claimed last week that the lack of the expensive independent audit was the problem — the audit that would cost Ward $33,000.
CLEARLY, the dispute has more to do with Ms. Morris’s tight position regarding what’s allowed as an “operating cost” than what the actual numbers may be. And an audit wouldn’t deal with that problem at all.
REMEMBER, Jerry Ward’s Willits-based, locally-owned business accepted the original contract years ago when the County was facing a messy trash situation with very few bidders and some competition from large, out-of-county haulers.
WARD has since delivered good service, hired competent local workers and effectively removed trash hauling as a County problem. It seems to us that the County should figure out a way to cover his real costs and allow him a reasonable profit — profits which in the past have been plowed back into capital improvements — Jerry Ward is not getting rich off of Mendo’s outback trash.
WARD TOLD THE SUPES last week that his financial situation is so dire that his bank, Comerica, is threatening to call in their note in January of 2017 and won’t offer any more credit, which would mean he couldn't make payroll. This would force Ward to apply for bankruptcy, which would leave both Mendocino and Humboldt counties (which Ward also has a contract with) in the hands of a company in receivership -- or worse.
FOR NOW, the Supes have decided to give the dispute back to Hamburg’s ineffective ad hoc committee which has so far stood firm in making zero progress on the problem.
SEEMS TO US that Ward should at least get a temporary increase to keep him in business — in fact that should have been done months ago — subject to review and negotiation based on actual costs incurred during the period of the temporary increase.
IF THE ORTNER OR REDWOOD QUALITY mental health contracts had been drawn up by Sweeney, they’d have been forced out of Mendo or out of business years ago. Instead, those much more abstract “services” are allowed to bill the County whatever the hell they want without demonstrating that a single person has been genuinely helped.
BUT IF WARD doesn’t get his County-wide trash hauling job done every day, every week, every month, year after year, the public outcry would be loud and immediate.
(Hat tip to Independent Coast Observer reporter Lindsay Smith whose recent summary of the Ward-Mendo impasse provided some useful information for this account.)
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “When I was a kid, New Year's Eve was a wild night in Boonville. People fired guns into the air, set off fireworks, staggered drunk down the middle of Highway 128. Poor old Deputy Squires had his hands full. Now? Maybe one gunshot from deep in the hills and that's it.”
YEAR-END AWARDS, 2016
MOST ENCOURAGING ELECTION: Fort Bragg City Council, Mayor Lindy Peters.
LEAST ENCOURAGING: Point Arena where city councils new and old think a part-time city manager at $50,000 a year is necessary to run a town of 449 persons.
ON BENDED KNEE with full lip puckers to the Board of Supervisors for applauding Assemblyman Jim Woods' recent appearance before them. Wood, a Healdsburg dentist in his other life, narcotizes all audiences, but our supervisors had to restrain themselves from throwing flowers and shouting, "Bravo!" at what was, objectively, a tedious recitation of the politically obvious.
MOST FAST FOOD franchises in NorCal per population: Ukiah where a Chipotle just opened with In 'N Out Burger about to open and citizens go to bed dreaming of a long-rumored Dunkin' Donuts.
SLO MO of the year: Mendo County Clerk Ranochak whose election 2016 final vote count was tied with Lake County for the slowest in the state.
SILLIEST EXPENDITURE of the year: Mendocino Redwood $197,000 spent on ineffective advertising opposing Measure V (hack and squirt)
BIGGEST DEFEAT for criminal defendants: Keith Faulder gets elected judge. (Faulder had represented presumed wife killer, Dr. Peter Keegan of Ukiah, who, we understand, has retained crack SoCo defense attorney Chris Andrian.)
ABOVE AND BEYOND official of the year: Supervisor McCowen of Ukiah who spends his free time cleaning up homeless camps on inland waterways.
"GOD KNOWS I TRIED" Public Official Of The Year: Sheriff Tom Allman whose sensible and much needed proposal for an in-County psychiatric facility was narrowly defeated, Supervisor Hamburg leading the opposition. Voted down by a whisker; if 83 more voters people had voted Yes, it would have passed.
ENABLERS of the year: Plowshares, Ukiah; Hospitality House, Fort Bragg. Their services keep suicidal drunks and the drug addicted, plus a minority of the mentally ill and a small population of transient criminals, unserved on the streets with no end plan other than more grants and more public money to keep the ever-growing numbers of voluntary homeless unhoused. At some point, government is going to have to build shelter. There are many creative ideas for genuinely low cost housing either ignored or unknown to local authorities.
HERE'S YOUR HAT and What's Your Hurry: Tom Pinizzotto. Engineered first privatization of County mental health for his former employer, Ortner Management Group, then went to work for Mendocino County at high pay admin position. Mental Health was then privatized a second time to the Ukiah-based Redwood Quality Management Company, formerly Redwood Children's Services. The police forces of Mendocino County continue to do almost all mental health's heavy lifting.
LEAST MISSED COUNTY SERVICE PROVIDER: Ortner Management Group (OMG!) of Yuba City. Wired into the contract by their former executive staffer Tom Pinizzotto who got himself hired on as Mendo’s mental health director and key decider when the County privatized mental health services for no good reason, it only took the County three years to realize how big a mistake they’d made with Ortner, and only then after paying over $50k more to be told what everybody else knew: Ortner was ripping off Mendocino County to the tune of millions of dollars with almost nothing to show for it.
BEST NEW HIRE: Richard Molinari at the County's troubled Animal Shelter. Molinari seems adept at both the mechanics of running the no-kill facility and, so far, he's also been able to pacify the anthromorphs who constantly besiege the place with neurotically unreasonable demands.
MERCIFULLY SHELVED BOONDOGGLE of the year: A new County Courthouse.
LONGEST-RUNNING BOONDOGGLE, now a decade old, the Palace Hotel, Ukiah. Present owner doesn't have the money to rehab it, Ukiah City Council dithers, then dithers some more about what to do with the ghostly old structure in the very center of town.
SORELY MISSED County official. Former Third District Supervisor Pinches, a consistent voice for commonsense and frugal public spending. Best hopes for Pinches' successor, Tom Woodhouse, who is on what seems to be permanent leave for mental health issues.
TOTALLY SCREWED prisoners of the year: Kenny Rogers of Westport, miraculously convicted on no evidence, and Mark Sprinkle of Ukiah, sentenced to 45 years-to-life on allegations by three junior floozies who, of their accord, suddenly removed their clothes in Sprinkle's car then claimed that he sexually touched them. (Perhaps the oddest case in Mendo's consistently sordid legal history.)
DOUBLE RECOGNITION as landlord/humanitarian of the year, by acclamation, Dr. Robert Gitlin of Redwood Valley. Gitlin rented uninhabitable premises on Ukiah's Westside for $9,000 a month to Mendo College football players imported from Florida. The athletes paid this extortionate rent for a falling down house without hot water. Just this month, Gitlin rented a ramshackle property he owns on South State Street, Ukiah, for $3,300 a month to be used as a cold weather shelter. The County of Mendocino contributed $30,000 public dollars towards fixing up Gitlin's property a donation that ordinarily is regarded as a gift of public funds to a private individual.
UNLIKELY LOCAL BUSINESS of the year award goes to OneTaste, a sexual "educational" business committed to instruction in "spiritual" masturbation. The onanists paid $4.9 million for a Philo property where, for $5,000 a weekend, men and women, previously unknown to each other, are taught "orgasmic meditation."
EDUCATIONAL SCAMMER of the year, and just up the hill in Philo from the upscale whack-off artists, goes to John Hall, an LA hustler who has amassed a fortune in publicly-funded charter schools. Hall imports "at risk youth," bunches of them at a time, all paid for out of edu-funds, to experience rural life at his burgeoning Blackbird Farm. The at risk youth (aren't all youth 'at risk'?) hand paint horses and live in hastily-assembled, non-code yurts. Rumors that Hall's Blackbird Farm and his neighbors at OneTaste are contemplating student exchanges are unconfirmed.
ANIMAL OF THE YEAR: Little Dog of Boonville.
Runners-up, the four pitbulls next door: Moe, Curly, Larry, and Cannabis. Honorable mention, Supervisor Hamburg's "comfort" dog, a rat-like chihuahua who appears to be either permanently sedated or dead.
RETURNED EXILE of the year, Kelisha Alvarez of Ukiah. Banished to Oklahoma in a sure-to-fail deal engineered by the DA's office, the volatile Ms. Alvarez soon returned to Ukiah where she resumed frequent encounters with the Ukiah Police Department.
COACH OF THE YEAR: Luis Espinoza of Anderson Valley who is also a detective with the Mendocino County Sheriff's Department. Espinoza, when he wasn't out fighting the losing local battle against crime, molded an inexperienced group of football players into a championship basketball team, and he did it without a single reliable outside shooter-scorer! Under a lesser coach the AV boys would not have enjoyed a winning season. But the coach got them playing a truly tenacious defense that forced their opponents into numerous turnovers, from which the Panthers bulled their way under the basket to layups. And they played as a team, always a sure sign of able coaching.
FREQUENT FLYER OF THE YEAR: John Bolton (the Fourth) of Willits made 15 appearances in Catch of the Day during 2016. Which sounds like a lot until you compare it to his astounding 24 appearances during 2015. Here's hoping the healthy trend continues.
2016: Dec 18, 20, 29, 31; Nov 23; Aug 31; June 11, 16, 22; May 11; Jan 6, 8, 21, 23, 26.
2015; Dec 16, 20; Nov 2, 30; Oct 5, 7; Sep 2, 30; Aug 2, 16, 21, 26; Jul 18, 19, 30; Jun 3; May 28; Apr 29; Mar 8; Feb 16, 20, 21, 23; Jan 16
LOCAL HISTORIAN OF THE YEAR: Yorkville’s Valerie Hanelt for her impressively detailed catalog of Valley cemeteries and those buried there.
MOST PROGRESSIVE RURAL DEVELOPMENT: Oak Leaf Cluster for Meritorious Optimism to Ms. Hanelt for her dogged pursuit of a municipal water/sewer system for downtown Boonville in the face of legions of local naysayers (including this newspaper). The State Water Resources Control Board recently allocated $1 million for engineering the two related projects which have been talked about for decades before Ms. Hanelt got them moving. South Boonville now begins a long process for installing a safe water and sewage system.
DUMBEST PERSONNEL MOVE: Anderson Valley Health Center for forcing or allowing the Valley’s bilingual MD, Dr. Logan McGhan, to leave and move to Oregon.
RUNNER UP: Fort Bragg turning down the Police Chief job to local hero John Naulty who shot and killed the rampaging cop-killer Ricardo Cheney of Oregon, who had shot and killed popular North Coast Deputy Ricky del Fiorentino.
MOST ILL-FATED LOCAL MEASURE: Measure V, the anti hack&squirt initiative passed by a large majority of local voters who didn’t like the use of poisons to kill hardwoods thus creating a huge fire hazard in affected areas. V quickly became DOA because MRC soon claimed that they are exempt from "nuisance" declarations because their ill-considered forest practices are “agriculture.”
BEST LOCAL DOWNTOWN COMMERCIAL MAKEOVER; Live Oak Building owner Tim Mullins.
TRANSGENDER WITHOUT A DIFFERENCE AWARD: Dr. Rohr, Coast Hospital, who announced upon his retirement as medico and Coast Hospital board that he was now she. Frankly, except for a little more makeup and some earrings, nobody could tell he/she changed anything. He/she is still married to his/her wife/husband. The still happy couple has since moved to Maine.
MOST MISSED LOCAL GENERAL MANAGER AWARD: Lorraine Dechter, former General Manager of KZYX whose abrupt summer departure deprived the station of its only chance to become relevant to Mendocino County through honest management and transfer of station HQ to Ukiah.
BEST LOCAL RESTAURANT SURVIVOR: Lauren Keating of Lauren’s Restaurant in Boonville which celebrated 20 years in the tough local restaurant business last fall.
MOST USEFUL GOVERNMENT DATA: The Navarro River Gage On-Line Data-Logger: both depth and flow. The best and simplest indication that the wine industry has trapped so much winter flow in Anderson Valley that the Navarro now has great difficulty even reaching the Pacific (especially when combined with larger than normal sand accumulations and high tides).
SURVIVOR OF THE YEAR! Senior Mendo Logger Dan Kuny who miraculously survived a tree falling on him while he was falling trees in the Sierra Nevadas. Kuny is already back to work in Mendocino County, recovering the strength and musculature that saved him from the widow-maker in the first place.
MOST EFFECTIVE JOB SECURITY CIRCLE: The MendoLib Posse of otherwise unemployables: Dan Hamburg, Richard Shoemaker, Steve Antler, Lee Edmundson, Meg Courtney, et al.
MOST LIKELY TO REPLACE JUDGE CLAY BRENNAN: Patrick Pekin, who lost to Keith Faulder in a closely contested race for Superior Court Judge.
MOST LOW DOWN CRIME/CRIMINAL: Caleb Silver of Fort Bragg/Boonville who killed recovered alcoholic (and former Boonville resident) Dennis Boardman after Boardman graciously allowed him to sleep a few nights at his seaside home.
LEAST APPRECIATED COUNTY MARIJUANA INDUSTRY SUBSIDY: Capturing, salvaging, fostering and placing pot growers’ abandoned outback pitbulls at the taxpayer funded County Animal Shelter.
LEAST EXPECTED NEW AVA CONTRIBUTOR: Retired Superior Court Judge James Luther who has submitted several interesting local articles in recent months despite having sent the AVA Editor to jail during the Bear Lincoln trial for refusing to turn over a letter the DA wanted at the time.
MOST WORRISOME TOURIST PROSPECT: Marijuana tasting rooms competing or joining wine tasting rooms all along Highway 128 to the Coast.
WACKIEST OPPOSITION TO A PROJECT AWARD: Ukiah Mayor Steve Scalmanini who objects to a Costco at Airport Park in Ukiah because the store won’t have solar panels on its roof.
BIGGEST WASTE OF MONEY: Fort Bragg's $187,000 "Giving Garden" which proponents said would “provide homeless adults with vocational training in small-scale crop production through a collaboration between the Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center and the Noyo Food Forest. Most of $187k was “given” to Hospitality Center management, not the “garden,” not the “homeless adults.”
TIGHTWADS OF THE YEAR: MRC's demand that the County and/or the Albion-Little River Volunteer Fire Department refund about $9,000 to them in fire protection taxes in a petty, vindictive retaliatory move against the fire department's promotion of the successful anti-hack&squirt initiative, Measure V. Special First Class Ingrate Award Upgrade: MRC still expects the Albion-Little River’s volunteers to respond to fire and medical emergencies on their land.
ARTIST OF THE YEAR: Yorkville’s Ron Black whose uniquely creative concrete and glass sculptures are a marvel to everyone who sees them.
WHERE TO PARK AT SFO
SFO long term parking?
Phyllis Coppage: I use globalairportparking.com-pay ahead and you can choose Travelodge - the further ahead you schedule the less it is. Use GAP50 (Senior) coupon code and it's $3 off
David Lipkind: Best airport parking is Travelodge near SFO. $11 a day with free shuttle. You don' need to stay there to leave your car.
(— MCN Listserve)
WHITE LIGHTNING, A TRUE MENDO STORY
Attention Little Dog: Unlabled beverages
Long, long ago in dog years, around 1972, in a dog-eared little town on the Mendocino Coast, a small crew of young People were looking for something 'to do,' as was their custom. There's always a lot to do, so you can guess their perceived ennui was a fantasy they lofted between them; you know how these 'intelligent' bipeds are. Anyway, they decided they'd distill their own entertaining things to drink, and dispersed across the land to look for information and hardware. Much to their surprise, they found right on Main Street the ready-made copper kettle, brass pressure head, gasket and clamp, and hand-bent coil of copper tube, maybe ten feet long if straightened out. All the necessary gear was stashed at the sheet-metal shop, collecting dust. The proprietor had been a police official in town during the alcohol Prohibition Stupidity, and he said he still (if you'll pardon the expression) had a shed full of confiscated copper vessels and fittings. (In Winter, it was easy to see who in town was 'cooking.' Stills were usually placed in attic spaces, so on icy mornings, the roofs covering criminals were wet and black, mostly frost-free.) The youngsters scurried off to Safeway (back when it was across from the cop-shop) and bought several gallons of Pink Chablis (easy, now!), some yeast, and a five pound bag of sugar...just for experimental purposes. Subsequently, a sacrometer purchased from a curious but discreet Mr. Champaignier at the pharmacy showed that the first condensate to appear crystal-clear from the pipe was 197-proof, or real close to All-Alcohol. Imagine the joy this engendered immediately, and for some time later. You heard remarks like, '...dangerously smooth...', and '...perfectly lethal...', and '...you better drive, you're too drunk to sing!'... What was also remarkable, and seemed to go entirely without note in their revelries among our 'masters,' was the criminology lesson glaring down on the whole deal. This demonstration of a de facto connection between crime and crime-fighters was too close to the stark views of both Mickey Cohen, and Malcolm X. These two People, both of whom were in positions to damned-well know whereof they spake, said organized crime is only possible, and exists only to the degree that it is known to the 'authorities.' And it's not even a full step to the notion that you can delete the 'middlemen' if you ARE the authorities... So, next time a Person tells you how quick you learn, even with your tiny little canine brain, remember this. 'War on Drugs?!' *SNORT*... and mind where you curl up, the BigFoots are about to celebrate another 'new' year!
CATCH OF THE DAY, December 31, 2016
GUSTAVO AGUILERA-ORTIZ, Ukiah. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, criminal threats.
BASILIO ANGUIANO, Ukiah. Controlled substance, failure to appear, probation revocation.
CHRSTOPHER AUGUST, Ukiah. Shopliftin, failure to register, false ID, dirk-dagger, probation revocation.
JOHN BOLTON IV, Willits. Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)
MARTIN BRIGGS, Willits. Failure to appear.
RYAN CRANFORD, Ukiah. Domestic assault.
KEITH DOOLEY, Laytonville. DUI.
MARTIN INEZ, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
GLENN JENKINS, Klamath Falls, Oregon/Ukiah. Community supervision violation.
JARED KIDD, Ukiah. Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)
NICHOLAS LANZIT, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
WANA MATTHIAS, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
FREDRICK NIERHAKE, Bend, Oregon/Fort Bragg. DUI.
CHRISTOPHER PETERS, Stockton/Ukiah. Under influence, probation revocation.
RIVER STEWART, Willits. Burglary, receiving stolen property, ex-felon with firearm, conspiracy, failure to appear.
WALTER VANSANT, Ukiah. Domestic assault.
VICTOR VISCENIO, Fort Bragg. DUI causing injury, hit&run causing injury or death.
CALIFORNIA’S NEW LAWS FOR 2017
by Patrick McGreevy
Starting Jan. 1, Californians’ lives will be governed by hundreds of new laws including added controls on guns, harsher sanctions against criminals, extra restrictions on ride-hailing firms such as Uber and Lyft, and a boost in the minimum wage.
At companies with 26 or more employees, the minimum wage will increasefrom $10 an hour to $10.50.
Employers are prohibited from paying women less than male colleagues based on prior salary. Workers in “substantially similar” jobs but of different race or ethnicity will also need to be paid equal wages.
Employers won’t be allowed to ask a job applicant to disclose information about an arrest, detention or court case — if it happened while the person was younger than 18.
Children younger than 2 must sit in rear-facing car seats.
Those convicted of driving under the influence must install a device in their cars that would ensure they are sober before they can start the ignition.
The state’s ban on texting while driving expands to include other distractions, such as searching for “Pokemon Go” characters.
Once a gray area for motorcyclists, new rules will be established by the California Highway Patrol for how fast they can drive when riding between cars along the lane line.
Companies including Uber and Lyft can no longer hire drivers who are registered sex offenders, have been convicted of violent felonies or have had a DUI conviction within the last seven years.
Drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft can’t have a blood alcohol content of 0.04% or more.
Charter bus drivers must provide written or video instructions to passengers on how to use the vehicle's safety equipment and emergency exits.
School districts must improve bus driver training to avoid students being left alone on buses and must notify the Department of Motor Vehicles if students are left behind.
There will be new protections against foreclosure for surviving spouses who own their home but are not listed on the mortgage.
A program providing electric-car rebates will now only be available to those making $150,000 a year or less.
To help the state’s housing crisis, it will be easier for California homeowners to construct additional small units on their properties, whether in their garages or as freestanding second structures.
The cost for lead-acid batteries like those used to start cars and trucks will increase to help pay for cleaning up contaminated sites like the former Exide battery plant in Los Angeles County. Consumers will see the new $1 fee starting in April.
Inspired by the sexual assault allegations against comedian Bill Cosby, California eliminated statutes of limitations for rape and some other sex crimes. That means if a crime happens after Dec. 31, 2016, the victim can report it at any point in the future and see it prosecuted; previous law generally limited prosecution to within 10 years.
In response to outrage over the six-month sentence for sexual assault given to former Stanford student Brock Turner, prison time will be mandatory for those convicted of assault in which the victim was unconscious or not capable of giving consent because of intoxication.
County prosecutors can pursue felony charges against people caught with the most common date-rape drugs and who also have demonstrated the intent to commit a sexual assault.
Convicted sex offenders involved in Internet-related crimes must report their email addresses, user names and other Internet identifiers to police.
It will be tougher for law enforcement to seize someone’s cash, cars or property. A criminal conviction is now required before the police can permanently take from a suspect any assets valued under $40,000.
A ban is imposed on publishing the addresses of domestic violence victims.
A ban is in place on possession of a synthetic drug called “spice.” The first offense would be an infraction; the second or third offense would be a misdemeanor.
Children can no longer be charged with prostitution, given the high incidence of human trafficking of people younger than 18. Adults who perform or solicit prostitution would not face mandatory minimum sentences.
It is now a crime to use ransomware, malware or intrusive software injected into a computer or network to hold data hostage until money is paid.
Public schools can now expel students for bullying through video or sexting. State education officials will be required to publish information on sexual cyberbullying online and encourage schools to teach students about sexting.
People will no longer be able to buy semi-automatic rifles that have a bullet button allowing removal of the ammunition magazine, commonly used in mass shootings. Those who have such weapons will have to register them with the state.
People who falsely report a firearm is lost or stolen would face a misdemeanor charge, and would face a 10-year ban on owning a firearm upon conviction.
Licenses to carry a concealed weapon will no longer vary from county to county. State justice department officials will create a uniform license.
Law enforcement officers and concealed-weapon permit holders who leave firearms in cars are now required to lock them in a safe box or in the trunk.
Bathrooms in public buildings with a single toilet must be designated as all-gender, open to anyone. The law will take effect March 1.
The state can’t fund or require public employees to travel to states believed to discriminate against lesbians, gays, bisexual or transgender people.
Smoking or use of electronic cigarettes within 250 feet of any Little League baseball game or other youth sports event is now illegal.
Beauty salons and barbershops can now offer patrons a free beer or glass of wine.
Denim is now the state’s official fabric to recognize its role in California history.
Every autographed collectible sold in California must come with a certificate that verifies it's not a forgery, under a bill backed by famed “Star Wars” actor Mark Hamill.
Patients who go to their insurance’s in-network hospital, lab or other health facility will not face surprise, larger charges if the doctor or health worker treating them is not in the network.
California businesses and public agencies are authorized to have on hand medicine designed to combat severe, emergency allergic reactions.
Women can pick up an entire year's worth of birth control pills at once, and health plans must cover the cost.
To counter a spike in opioid overdose deaths, prescribers must check a state database to see whether their patients also have received drugs from other physicians.
Terminally ill Californians will have the “right to try” experimental drugs that do not yet have full federal approval for clinical trials.
Want to save an animal trapped in a car in heat or cold? As long as you call authorities first, you won’t be held legally liable for breaking into the car.
Dog kennels and pet hotels must check on animals once a day and provide elevated platforms in cat enclosures.
A dog seized from criminal fighting rings will no longer automatically be labeled “vicious” — which leads to it being euthanized. Instead, each dog will be evaluated to see whether it can be rehabilitated to safely re-enter society or be placed in a sanctuary.
Carbon monoxide gas chambers are banned in animal shelters for euthanizing animals.
Orca breeding and performance programs, like the one formerly run by SeaWorld theme parks, will be outlawed starting in June.
Felons serving sentences in county jails will be able to vote in California elections as part of an effort to speed their transition back into society.
Voters can now legally take a selfie with their completed ballot.
Voters are permitted to legally hand off their sealed ballot to anyone to mail or deliver in person.
More cities and counties can offer public financing of political campaigns.
City councils and county boards of supervisors are required to publicly announce pay and benefit increases for government executives before they are approved by a vote.
Note: This list does not include the ballot propositions, such as legalized recreational marijuana, that were passed by voters on Nov. 8, 2016 and immediately became law the next day.
(Courtesy, the Los Angeles Times.)
RICK WEDDLE WRITES: "Get a load of this little shrine and plaque.
South end of town, Honoka'a (on main, Mamane Street, East side of the road)."
HOW TO FIX SOCIAL SECURITY
The truth is that despite a decade of dithering by Republicans and limp Democrats also anxious to cut the program’s cost on behalf of their Wall Street contributors, Social Security could be fully funded for another 75 years or more by simply eliminating the cap on income subject to the FICA tax (currently only the first $118,500 of income is taxes, rising to $127,200 next year), so that all income is taxed, and benefits could even be expanded by adding a small transaction tax of a fraction of a percent on all short-term stock trading (a measure that would not impact long term investors or retirement funds).
Susan Hartle, Fort Bragg
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
What I found interesting about the map of permit applications [in Humboldt County] showing the green dots was the concentration in areas like Island Mountain. These areas have been served with the letter from North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board for the NOI for Cannabis Cultivation. Failure to map and prove your water source and storage will result in a $1000.00 a day fine. This is the convoy of the future, except it’s a pencil pusher behind a desk with google earth. From what I hear, they intend to send the letters to all known cultivation sites. So if you file an NOI, then cannot or do not get a state permit, they can then fine you the cost of a permit, per day I do not know. It might take a couple years but the money being raised is earmarked for exactly this type of enforcement. I have been an outlaw grower for over 25 years, it’s not the helicopters anymore, it’s the bureaucracy. My hope is all the good people are ok, whether they get permitted or not. The ones ruining the environment or neighborhood, good riddance.
FORMS OF AGGRESSION
"Microaggressions are comments, snubs or insults that communicate derogatory or negative messages that might not be intended to cause harm but are targeted at people based on their membership in a marginalized group." — New York Times, September 6, 2016
Student orientation and handout #3: Forms of Aggression
Microaggression: Social interaction that unintentionally causes harm through the targeting of a marginalized person or group. Example: "You don't act like a gay dude." Explanation: Implies that LGBTQ people share certain behavioral traits. Assumes gender identity.
Nanoaggression: Social interaction that unintentionally causes harm through cultural appropriation. Example: Setting off Fireworks. Explanation: Historians generally agree that gunpowder is a Chinese invention. Its use by persons of non-Chinese ancestry is a form of imperialist confiscation.
Picoaggression: Social interaction that may or may not cause harm through an effort to be of service and does not target a marginalized person or group. Example: Helping a height challenged person reach an object on a high shelf. Explanation: Implies that short people can't use stools.
Femtoaggression: Social interaction that may or may not cause harm and is intended to communicate a positive message. Example: "Wow, love your shirt!" Explanation: not everyone appreciates social interaction. Of those who do, not all are comfortable or skilled in receiving compliments. Of those who are, not all place value on personal adornment and may be wearing clothing simply to conform to social conventions and applicable ordinances concerning public nudity. Of those who do place value on personal adornment, not all may feel a particular shirt they are wearing merits being singled out for praise.
Attoaggression: Social interaction that displays concern for another's well-being. Example: Performing the Heimlich maneuver. Explanation: Denies the agency of the person who is choking to death. Invades personal space. Entails physical contact without explicit verbal consent.
Zeptoaggression: social interaction that produces a marked increase in well-being for a large number of marginalized persons. Example: Using military force to stop genocide. Explanation: When performed by a NATO member, reinforces the stereotype of western "saviors" rescuing indigenous peoples from oppression.
Yocto-aggression: Aocial interaction that produces a marked increase in well-being for the entire human race. Example: Eradicating smallpox. Explanation: Epitomizes humanist arrogance; otherizes viruses; reinforces teleological logocentrism, the "scientific method," and other tools of oppression; marginalizes Gaia-centered belief systems.
— The Weekly Standard/Parodies
EXIT, HOPE & CHANGE
by James Kunstler
Yes, that was a gag.
By now, anyone in this country still of sound mind knows that Barack Obama presided through eight years of remarkable continuity — of changeless conditions that left a great many hopeless. As the days of his tenure dwindle, what do we make of the departing 44th president?
He played the role with cool-headed decorum, but that raises the question: was he just playing a role? From the get-go, he made himself hostage to some of the most sinister puppeteers of the Deep State: Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, and Tim Geithner on the money side, and the Beltway Neocon war party infestation on the foreign affairs side. I’m convinced that the top dogs of both these gangs worked Obama over woodshed-style sometime after the 2008 election and told him to stick with the program, or else.
What was the program? On the money side, it was to float the banks and the whole groaning daisy chain of their dependents in shadow finance, real estate, and insurance, at all costs. Hence, the extension of Bush Two’s bailout policy with the trillion-dollar “shovel-ready” stimulus, the rescue of the car-makers, and a much greater and surreptitious multi-trillion dollar hand-off from the Federal Reserve to backstop the European banks with counter-party obligations to US banks.
In April of 2009, Obama’s new SEC appointees, strong-armed by bank lobbyists, pushed the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) into suspending their crucial Rule 157, which had required publically-held companies to report their asset holdings based on standard market-based valuation procedures — called “mark-to-market.” After that, companies like Too-Big-Too-Fail banks could just make shit up. This opened the door to the pervasive accounting fraud that allowed the financial sector to pretend it was healthy for the eight years that followed. The net effect of their criminal fakery was to only make the financial sector artificially larger, more dangerously fragile, and more prone to cataclysmic collapse.
Another feature of life on the money-side of the Obama presidency was that nobody paid a personal price for financial misconduct. This established the basic ethos of Obama-era finance: anything goes, and nothing matters. All the regulators looked the other way most of the time. And when forced to act by egregious behavior, they made deals that let banking executives off-the-hook while their companies shelled out fines that amounted to the mere cost of doing business. It happened again and again. The poster boy for this kind of “policy” — or just plain racketeering — was Jon Corzine, the head of the commodities brokerage MF Global, whose company looted “segregated” customer accounts to the tune of nearly a billion dollars in the fall of 2011. Corzine was never prosecuted and remains at large to this day.
Another signal failure in the money realm was Obama’s response to the 2010 Citizen United Supreme Court decision, which declared that the alleged legal “personhood” of corporations entitled them to exercise “free speech” by giving as much money as they wanted to political candidates for election. Big business no longer had to just rent congressmen and senators, they could buy them outright with cash.
A conservative Supreme Court made the call, but Obama could have acted forcefully in the face of it. The former constitutional law professor-turned-politician could have marshaled a response in his Democratic Party-controlled congress to draft legislation, or a constitutional amendment, that would properly redefine the personhood of corporations. It should be obvious, for instance, that corporations, unlike human citizens, do not have duties, obligations, and responsibilities to the public interest; by legal charter they have only to answer to their shareholders and boards of directors. How does this confer the kind of political free speech “rights” that the court allowed them to claim? And how did the Obama and his allies in the legislative branch roll over to allow this disgraceful affront to the constitution to stand? And how is that almost nobody in the mainstream press or academic law even pressed these issues? Thanks to all of them, we’ve set up the primary means for establishing a fascist Deep State: the official marriage of corporate money and politics. Anything goes and nothing matters.
Finally, in foreign affairs, there is Obama’s mystifying campaign against the Russian Federation. The US had an agreement with Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union that we would not expand NATO if they gave us a quantity of nuclear material that was in danger of falling into questionable hands in the disorder that followed the collapse. Russia complied. What did we do? We expanded NATO to include most of the former eastern European countries (except the remnants of Yugoslavia), and then under Obama, NATO began holding war games on Russia’s border. For what reason? The fictitious notion that Russia wanted to “take back” these nations — as if they needed to adopt a host of dependents that had only recently bankrupted the Soviet state. Any reasonable analysis would call these war games naked aggression by the West.
Then there was the 2014 US State Department-sponsored coup against Ukraine’s elected government and the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovych. Why? Because his government wanted to join the Russian-led Eurasian Customs Union instead of an association with European Union. We didn’t like that and we decided to oppose it by subverting the Ukrainian government. In the violence and disorder that ensued, Russia took back the Crimea — which had been gifted to the former Ukraine Soviet Socialist Republic (a province of Soviet Russia) one drunken night by the Ukraine-born Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. What did we expect after turning Ukraine into another failed state? The Crimean peninsula had been part of Russia for longer than the US had been a country. Its only warm water naval ports were located there. They held a referendum and the Crimean people voted overwhelmingly to return to Russia. So, President Obama decided to punish Russia with economic sanctions.
Then there was Syria, a battleground between the different branches of Islam, their sponsors (Iran and Saudi Arabia), and their proxies, (Hezbollah and the various Salafist jihad armies). The US “solution” was to sponsor the downfall of the legitimate Syrian government under Bashar al-Assad. We apparently still favored foreign relations based on creating failed states — after our experience in Iraq, Somalia, Libya, and Ukraine. President Obama completely muffed his initial attempt at intervention — the “line-in-the-sand” moment — and then decided to send arms and money to the various Salafist jihadi groups fighting Assad, claiming that our bad guys were “moderates.” Meanwhile, Russia stepped in to prop up Assad’s government, apparently based on the idea that the Middle East didn’t need yet another failed state. We castigated Russia for that.
The idiotic behavior of the US toward Russia in these matters led to the most dangerous state of relations between the two since the heart of the Cold War. It culminated in the ridiculous campaign this fall to blame Russia for the defeat of Hillary Clinton. And here we are.
I didn’t vote for Hillary or Donald Trump (I wrote-in David Stockman). I’m not happy to see Donald Trump become president. But I’ve had enough of Mr. Obama. He put up a good front. He seemed congenial and intelligent. But in the end, he appears to be a kind of stooge for the darker forces in America’s overgrown bureaucratic Deep State racketeering operation. Washington truly is a swamp that needs to be drained. Barack Obama was not one of the alligators in it, but he was some kind of bird with elegant plumage that sang a song of greeting at every sunrise to the reptiles who stirred in the mud. And now he is flying away.