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Mendocino County Today: Wednesday, Jan 4, 2017

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PERIODS OF HEAVY RAIN on Tuesday produced less than an inch for the day in most areas of the County and the Navarro River has so far remained well below flood stage but is expected to rise sharply on Wednesday, but still well below flood stage.

Temperatures remain cool, reaching the 30s at night and up to 50 or so during the day. Wednesday through Friday are expected to be relatively dry. But a large weather system is expected to arrive on Saturday bringing several inches of rain over the next four or five straight days.

A glance at the WeatherUnderground forecast coincides with the National Weather Service prediction for a significant rise in the Navarro starting on Saturday and, if predictions are borne out, the Navarro could flood early next week as the rain continues.

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SUPERVISOR WOODHOUSE made it official Tuesday, submitting the following letter of resignation to the Board Clerk:

”Dan Gjerde, Chairman of the Board; John McCowen, Vice Chairman of the Board, Mendocino County Board of Supervisors, 501 Low Gap Road, Ukiah, CA 95482 Dear Chairman Gjerde and Vice Chairman McCowen,

Although I have made significant progress in recovering from my recent health issues, I have not fully recovered and the my current health concerns prevent me from fully representing the interests of the Third District. Therefore, I hereby tender my resignation as a member of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors pursuant to California Government Code S1750(d). This resignation is effective immediately. I extend my best regards to the Board as it continues its work in guiding the County into the future, Thomas M.G. Woodhouse”

YESTERDAY we speculated that the Governor’s appointments office would probably consider registered Democrats like former Willits City Council Holly Madrigal and former Supervisors Hal Wagenet, with an outside chance that former Supervisor (but non-Democrat) Cowboy John Pinches would get consideration out of respect for his years of service and dedication to Mendocino County. Willits School Board Trustee Georgeanne Croskey intends to file for the appointment as well, claiming that Wagenet will support her candidacy.

MADRIGAL and Pinches have been pot friendly and would be expected to lean toward less restrictive versions of the pot regulations currently taking a large percentage of the Supervisors’ time, especially given that the Third District is the heaviest pot growing region in the County.

MS. CROSKEY, a veterinarian by profession, is probably less pot friendly than Madrigal or Pinches and has no record of involvement in any County or Third District matters. We’ve never seen her at a Board meeting on any subject. In fact, the only time she came to our attention was when she joined all her Willits School Board trustees to approve a $130k expenditure to fund Chromebook laptops for every high school student in Willits — without even any educational or curricular plan on how the machines would be used. (And Croskey was appointed to the seat by her fellow board members, not elected, so her status as a representative of the Third District, if appointed, would be an open question.)

COUNTY OFFICIALS don’t know how long the Governor’s appointment process will take, but if the choice comes down to just Madrigal or Croskey it shouldn’t take that long.

REMEMBER, one of the factors in pushing Woodhouse into his mental health crisis was apparently the conflicting forces surrounding the pot issues, which continue to threaten to overwhelm the Supervisors and County staff. The pot brigades are not of like mind themselves, other than they want low taxes and minimal regulation and enforcement, while the rest of the County — the non-stoner part — as measured by the 2-1 defeat of the pot industry’s Measure AF — would like to see the County put some major limitations on pot cultivation and processing.

FURTHER complicating matters is the unclear state and federal marijuana landscape and the constant pressure on County finances that pot tax revenues are seen to alleviate.

SO CLEARLY, Pinches would be the most qualified — by temperament, experience, public support, and background — to steer the good ship Mendo through the rough pot-saturated seas ahead. The questions, however, will be 1: Would he throw his cowboy hat into the ring? And 2. Would the Governor appoint a non-Democrat?

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27-YEAR-OLD GAGE HEWETT, Ukiah, is being held at the County Jail on charges of attempted murder on New Year’s Eve. Hewett apparently attacked two young men who were just wrapping up a long night at work in a Standley Street restaurant. Both were stabbed multiple times during a fight with Hewett, who seemed to be drunk and had accosted them. The victims are 19 and 23. One was stabbed in the chest and bicep, and the other suffered multiple back wounds and a shoulder wound. They were treated and soon released from the Adventist Hospital, Ukiah. Detectives are seeking witnesses and ask anyone with information to contact police at 707‑463‑6262.

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ADD DA OF THE YEAR: Mendo's very own C. David Eyster. Fast, sensible, fair disposition of criminal cases after years of bumblings out of the DA's office.

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No, what little inspiration I have in life comes not from any sense of racial pride. It stems from the same age-old yearning that has produced great presidents and great pretenders, birthed captains of industry and captains of football, that Oedipal yen that makes men do all sorts of shit we’d rather not do, like try out for basketball and fistfight the kid next door because in this family we don’t start shit but we damn sure finish it. I speak only of that most basic of needs, the child’s need to please the father.

Many fathers foster that need in their children through a wanton manipulation that starts in infancy. They dote on the kids with airplanes spins, ice cream cones on cold days and weekend custody trips to the Salton Sea and the science museum. The incessant magic tricks that produced dollar pieces out of thin air and the open-house mind games that made you think that the view from the second floor Tudor-style miracle in the hills, if not the world, would soon be yours are designed to fool us into believing that without daddies and the fatherly guidance they provide, the rest of our lives will be futile Mickey Mouseless I-told-ya-so existences. But later in adolescence, after one too many accidental driveway basketball elbows, drunken midnight slaps to the upside of our heads, puffs of crystal meth exhaled in our faces, jalapeño peppers snapped in half and ground into our lips for saying “fuck” when you were only trying to be like Daddy, you come to realize that the frozen niceties and trips to the drive-thru car wash were bait and switch parenting. Ploys and coverups for their reduced sex drives, stagnant take-home pay and their own inabilities to live up to their father’s expectations. The Oedipal yen to please Father is so powerful that it holds sway even in a neighborhood like mine, where fatherhood for the most part happens in absentia, yet nevertheless the kids are dutifully by the window at night waiting or Daddy to come home. Of course, my problem was that Daddy was always home.

— Paul Beatty, “Sellout”

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by Katy Tahja

My husband an I are firm believes in the old fashioned concept of a “Sunday Drive.” We find a road we’ve never been on, make sure it is traversable given weather conditions, pack snacks and maps, gas up the rig and take off for a mini adventure.

This time we chose the Skaggs Springs-Stewart Point Road west out of Geyserville. I had been over part of the road almost 50 years ago to go skinny-dipping in the ruins of the Skaggs Springs resort warm water pools in the dark of night. That location is now buried under the waters of Lake Sonoma.

Skaggs Springs Resort, nine miles west of Highway 101, began as an attraction in the 1850’s with waters from five springs directed into bathhouses and pools. Hot springs and mineral springs resorts were big business for Sonoma County back then. By the 1870’s Skaggs Springs Resort was welcoming 300 guests a day arriving by stagecoach.

By the 1890’s the resort had a stage line over what had been an Indian trail to the coast (today’s Skaggs Springs-Stewart Point Road) and offered excursions to the seashore. By 1912 motor stages replaced stagecoaches bringing customers from the train station in Geyserville to the springs. The Great Depression of the 1930’s and auto-cars lead to the resorts closure in 1942 and the hotel burned in the 1950’s.

After decades of political contention the Warm Springs Dam was built in 1983 for $330 million and the resort ruins vanished under the waters of the lake. I like to envision the hot springs waters surfacing to this day to create little warm spots on the bottom of Lake Sonoma. Today there is a visitor center, marina, campground, hiking trails and a fish hatchery to explore in this area.

Continuing west it is about 35 miles to Stewart’s Point. The country is oak woodland with wildflowers like mustard and vinca blooming very early. There are the ubiquitous vineyards, ranches, cattle guards on the road, and remains of old homesteads. I often wonder why settlers would choose to live so far from anyplace? Perhaps land was cheaper the farther you were from civilization.

Stopping by the side of the road in one spot we found an old picket fence, remains of a cabin, and about six different kinds of ivy someone planted a long time ago. From the top of the Salmon Mountains to Bartlett Springs I have discovered ornamental plants that have refuse to die even after a century of neglect. I picked a few sprigs of variegated ivy to bring home and try to root.

Our map had three place names on the whole road…Las Lomas, Soda Springs, and Shingle Mill. The only one we could find was Las Lomas, a 723-acre ranch with roads, structures, power, promising “Trophy Black-Tail Deer and Wild Pig Hunting” and a $4.5 million sale price due to its vineyard potential.

Back on the road…believe it or not there is actually something famous along this road if you are into historic bridges. I accept for a given fact that there is a website for any given interest group and researching this mini-expedition I found

Haut Bridge is just off the Skaggs Springs-Stewart Point Road on the turn-off to Annapolis and it’s a type of Phoenix Iron Truss design 134’ long and 13’ wide, one main span, and was common in the east but rare in the American west. It was built before 1909, moved in 1937 and on a scale of 1 to 10 it rates a 9 in local and national significance. To me it was just a pretty old bridge.

We let ourselves skip the last few miles down into Stewart’s Point and took off to Annapolis to the north. Much of our trip had been along the banks of the Gualala River. Annapolis was more vineyards and pretty ridge tops until the road dropped to Sea Ranch and Highway 1. We came home after a good lunch at the Chowder House on the Point Arena Pier and an interlude with maps.

Now I have to say something about maps…I LOVE maps….I’m a map junkie…I admit it. And if you want a really GOOD map you get the one the local realtors have made because real estate agents want you to be able to find the properties they are selling. On my map I notice the notation of Refuse Road for the Annapolis Road because it leads to the waste transfer station five miles away. Who would want their address to be something like 537 Refuse Road?

Then I started looking at the place names and got lost in the world of cartography. I started making notes and as a retired librarian would do, alphabetized and categorized them. So here’s what I learned about Mendocino County place names…

For animals there have been places named after abalone, bear, buck (and buckhorn and doe), camel, cow (and curly cow), elk. Grizzly, horse (and little horse), rattlesnake, skunk and wildcat. For trees and bushes there are locations with acorn, alder, berry (and blueberry), brush, cherry, chinquapin, cypress, elm, fern, fir, huckleberry, laurel, madrone, manzanita, maple, oak, pepperwood, pine, redwood spruce and trillium.

Eagle, goose, pelican, raven and white hawk are place names for birds…then there’s bee, fly, frog, leech, salmon and whale names. Nationalities on the land include Dutch, German, Indian, Irish, Islam, and Spanish. You can find cold creek, dusty creek, deephole creek, dry creek, hellhole creek, lost man creek, and more.

My favorites are the odd-ball place names…how about Abalobadia Creek, or Irmulco (first two letters from each word of Irvine Muir Lumber Company.) There’s Nameless Lane and Granny’s Lane. For serious map lovers might I suggest a book I got for Christmas, ”Cartographic Treasures of the Newberry Library.” This library in Chicago has 300,000 maps from 1452 to present day. I’ve been there and it’s a wonderland of maps…but then again I’ve now been over Skaggs Springs–Stewarts Point Road and it was pretty wonderful too.

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by Damian Sebouhian

Caltrans’ first post-bypass traffic count study indicates a 25 to 35 percent reduction in traffic on the section of Main Street south of the Highway 20 intersection, says California Department of Transportation District 1 Public Information Officer Phil Frisbie.

Caltrans installed a pressure hose vehicle counter across Main Street just north of Walker Road one week prior to the bypass opening, said Frisbie, and continued to count traffic for a week after the bypass opened.

“That way we’re able to compare by day of the week,” he said. “That’s why it varies.”

“The average is probably around 30 percent, varying from 25 to 35 percent per day,” Frisbie explained. “[The pressure hose] counts the number of vehicles by the hour. Then, it records it, and we come by later and download that information from the box.”

Caltrans has yet to conduct any traffic counts north of the Highway 20 intersection. Frisbie is anticipating “some future counts at the north interchange, but we’re not sure when those are going to be available,” he said.

Since the bypass opened on November 3, the area of Main Street north of Highway 20 now officially belongs to, and is the responsibility of, the City of Willits, while the area from the southern interchange to the Highway 20 intersection remains under the purview of Caltrans.

“That’s still our jurisdiction,” Frisbie said. “We were looking to see how the bypass is affecting that area.”

The City of Willits has no plans to conduct its own traffic studies; the city will rely on the data Caltrans provides.

Regardless of what that data shows, however, based on feedback from a number of Willits-area residents – including City Planner Dusty Duley, Little Lake Fire Chief Carl Magann, Mendocino Transit Authority bus drivers, postal carriers, and others – the traffic reduction is not only significant, but welcomed.

“I’ve been able to make left turns out of businesses where before it was enough of a hardship where I might take a right and circle the block,” Duley said. He added that his wife – who comes home from Ukiah during peak hours – has been having a much smoother commute.

“Where she used to get backed up from the Highway 20 intersection stoplight past the Super 8, now she’s maybe waiting on one green light,” said Duley.

Longtime MTA bus driver Patrick Charlson voiced his surprise about the amount traffic has been reduced since the bypass opened.

“[At first] I wasn’t in favor of the bypass,” Charlson declared. “But, I must admit, it’s made my job a hell of a lot easier. Traffic has really let up. We don’t have trucks coming through town [as much] any more. I drive three days a week, about 100 miles a day inside the city limits of Willits. It’s bare. It doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of traffic.”

Carlson explained he used Thanksgiving week to gauge the significance in the reduction of traffic.

“Traffic used to pick up on the Tuesday” before the Thursday holiday, but this year, Carlson said, “we had hardly any traffic on Tuesday, and on Wednesday it was a piece of cake to drive through town.”

Willits Postmaster Dale Briggs reported a unanimous vote of appreciation for the reduction in traffic from his postal carriers.

“It makes their jobs easier,” Briggs said. “They like the fact they have the ability to turn left on Main Street without having to wait for several minutes for traffic to clear. They have clearer vision, so it helps them and takes stress from them to not have to deal with the heavy traffic flows. Obviously, safety goes hand in hand with less traffic.”

Fire Chief Magann concurred with Briggs. “We’re happy with the amount of the traffic in the downtown area since the opening of the bypass,” said Magann. “We’ve had a lot less accidents within the city limits.”

But Magann added the true test in figuring out the impact to traffic will be during the summer and holiday travel times.

Citizen/commuter feedback

Willits Weekly asked a number of citizens, most of whom are frequent commuters, about their observations and opinions regarding the state of city traffic since the bypass opened.

Carina Lopez commutes from Redwood Valley to her job as office manager for Willits Charter School.

“It’s very easy for me to make the left out of [the charter school] driveway and go southbound,” said Lopez. “The southbound traffic seems lighter to me in the afternoon. I never had any issues northbound in the morning, but I’ve noticed there’s been less traffic in general on Main Street in Willits since 101 opened.”

Sheryl McFadden, owner of Room to Bloom, said: “Before I would wait anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes in traffic. Now I zip right through town with hardly any issues – maybe only a red light to slow me down.”

Josh Swearengin, a Ridgewood Ranch resident and bass player for Schindig, said: “The bypass has had a positive impact traffic-wise from my perspective. I also like that I didn’t have to run across the street at night when I was trying to go to the bank to get more money when we were playing Shanachie Pub on Friday. It was plenty clear for me to be able to walk safely across without fear of being hit by someone who wasn’t looking for pedestrians.”

Rachel Farkas, a full-time Mendocino College student, said: “It’s easier when I come into town after a long day, and I just want to make a couple of stops; it’s doable. It doesn’t feel like – by the time I get into town, I just want to go home. I can actually zip in and out of places and do some errands.”

Farkas added she’s received feedback from ranchers in the valley, who have “lost their peace and quiet. When they go to feed their horses, all they hear is rumbling on the highway. I feel for them. It’s sound pollution.”

April Tweddell, who said she “lives right next to the new bypass,” acknowledged the increase in noise.

“Let’s just say I’ve made peace with the fact that there no longer will be silence in my life when I go outdoors,” Tweddell said. “Life changes. We had 25 years of quiet, and now we’re experiencing something else. Life is good. In town, the lack of traffic from large trucks is heavenly!”

Other consequences

While there was no negative feedback regarding the reduction in Willits traffic since the bypass opened, several people voiced concerns about faster drivers, highway signage, and the effects of less through-traffic on local businesses.

“One of the things we’ve predicted that seems to be coming true is that people are now driving faster going through downtown,” Duley noted.

“When we redesign Main Street, coming up with [traffic calming measures] will prove to be beneficial to us.”

Duley acknowledged that, with less people driving through Willits, “comes fewer people stopping at businesses,” therefore “we’re continuing to explore those opportunities to use highway signage to help promote Willits and our local economy and small businesses.”

“If you drive to Cloverdale, you’ll see that they have a number of signs in each direction, noting downtown Cloverdale.” Duley and other city staff are encouraging Caltrans to provide the same for Willits.

Chief Magann agreed better signage at both ends of the highway should be a priority.

“I had a vendor in here yesterday, and he said he was in Ukiah before he realized he had driven by Willits,” Magann said. “I’ve heard from other individuals that the off-ramps aren’t really marked clearly enough.”

Magann added Highway 20 signage needs improvement as well.

“I know people who [exit] on what is now South Main Street, and there’s no signage that says ‘20 this way.’ I’ve gotten some comments that [Caltrans needs] to mark that a little better for the Highway 20 connection.”

(Courtesy, Willits Weekly)

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ON DECEMBER 29TH of the glorious year just past, Christopher August, 35, transient, was arrested in Fort Bragg. August, who also goes by Chris Jacobson, had enjoyed meals at Hospitality House and an occasional night in the town's cold weather shelter, also administered by Hospitality House. There is no evidence August was in town to look for work.

ON THE 29TH, AUGUST had been observed shoplifting at Rite Aid. Fort Bragg Police caught up with him a few blocks away. He gave police phony identification and was initially arrested on charges of carrying a concealed weapon (dirk or dagger) and presenting police with a name that isn't his.

WHEN August's true identity was determined, it was also determined that he was convicted of child molestation in Alameda County in 1996. He has been arrested in seven counties since for failing to register as a sex offender. He has also been to prison and was on parole at the time of his arrest in Fort Bragg.

AUGUST'S CHOMO conviction 20 years ago didn't inspire his return to the path of the just and the righteous. He's since been arrested for auto theft, a Woodland strong arm robbery injuring the victim (he's 5'9" 220 pounds), hit and run. He's racked up one official strike while passing through Los Angeles, to Sacramento, to Woodland, to Oakland, Sonoma County, Yuba County, Humboldt County, and Mendocino County, coming to the attention of law enforcement wherever he touches down. August is being held in the Mendo County Jail on no bail, meaning he's on his way back to prison for violating his parole, but here's betting he'll be out in less than a year.

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Retirement Commemoration For

Judge David Nelson

The Superior Court of California, County of Mendocino, announces that it will host a Retirement Commemoration for Judge David Nelson on Friday, January 20th, 2017, at 4:00 p.m. in Department E of the Court. Judge Nelson retired at the end of his term on January 2, 2017 after serving thirteen years on the Superior Court bench. Keith Faulder was elected to succeed him.

Presiding Judge John Behnke will preside over the retirement commemoration. Members of the bench and the Mendocino County Bar Association are invited, as well as related county agencies and members of the public. At the end of the courtroom proceedings, the gathering will spill over to the Ritual Bar and Grill across the street for a more informal, no-host celebration of the retirement.

For further information contact:

Christopher Ruhl
Court Executive Officer
100 N. State Street, Room 303
Ukiah, CA 954825
(707) 463-4664
or Judge Behnke personally

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by Phil Brown

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CATCH OF THE DAY, January 3, 2016

Eldredge, Cuadra, Godfrey, Hartley-Philbrick

SHANE ELDREDGE, Miranda, California/Piercy. DUI, resisting.

GREGORY CUADRA, Community supervision violation.

JAMES GODFREY, Kemp, Texas/Ukiah. Resisting.

BROOKS HARTLEY-PHILBRICK, Ukiah. Drunk in public.

Lawson, Ledgerwood, Mendez

ZACKARY LAWSON, Ukiah. Forgery of vehicle registration, probation revocation.


MICHAEL MENDEZ, Ukiah. Drunk in publ;ic.

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by Clancy Sigal

Of course, you remember the Greek myth.

The fifth labor that the great hero Hercules must perform is to clean out King Augeas’s stables of shit dropped by 1000 royal cattle who haven’t been cleaned in over 30 years. Augeas, head of the Schumer-Pelosi Democratic National Committee, hates Hercules who comes armed with fresh new ideas hateful to the long-reigning King. So the task Augeas sets for the hero is both impossible and humiliating.

But Augeas reckons without the hero’s tenacity and wit. Hercules takes one look at all the corrupt cattle shit and diverts two whole rivers to wash out the filth. He then kills the tyrant and gives his kingdom away.

Our New Year starts not today but on 20 January. There are many good ideas how to protest and which fearless groups to join to defy, obstruct and protest. Bernie Sanders has rallies, Michael Moore has five things for you to do (look it up as his ‘5 Steps Resistance Plan’), and Jeffrey St. Clair’s CounterPunch has ‘20 Groups Standing Between You and Doom’. There’s other useful stuff out there, too.

We most of us have the same problem of where do we find the time and energy? And start exactly where?

Meantime, give a stray thought to those shitty Democratic Party stables that haven’t been cleaned out since Jimmy Carter.

In Chicago ward politics, or Stalin’s Russia, we’d call this a purge. Whatever it takes, feet to the fire, sign a loyalty oath, or “are you now or have you ever taken money from Goldman Sachs?” Or even George Soros.

You start at the very top of the Democratic establishment and fumigate all the way down, stopping only at a few, a very few, select street fighters like John Lewis, Barbara Lee and, yes, our own proud Pocahantas, Liz Warren.

Leaving the shit in the stable – all this earnest talk of “finding authenticity” “restructure and reform” “regaining touch with working class voters” – guarantees permanent loss.

Absurdly, a lot of energy is going into lining up would-be presidential candidates for 2020. Four years away!

It only took Hitler a few weeks to cripple trade unions, set up his own court system and get rid of enemies in his own party.

Such an awesome task. Fit only for a Greek hero.

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

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NEW WOOD TECHNOLOGY may offer hope for struggling timber communities.

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(Some of you may know of Rudy Light, who lived here for many years and planted 10,000 oak trees on his beautiful ranch in Redwood Valley. It was put up for auction in September and was bought by some shady characters who seems to consider million-dollar fines for illegal environmental practices to simply be the cost of doing business. This letter and the following flyer were written by Ian Monroe, Cathy Monroe's son.) -- Kate Marianchild

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Dear Friends who love Mendocino County,

Unfortunately Rudy Light's 1,745 acre ranch in the center of Redwood Valley has fallen into the hands of some very sleazy real estate developers who have a long criminal history of fraud and environmental destruction.

What we need is to find a buyer who wants to conserve the land in it's entirety and can buy out the Tongs, or at least buy a conservation easement that would protect the land and the threatened and endangered species it supports. Please contact Ian Monroe <> or Cathy Monroe <>, if you can help!

Please share this information with anyone interested in protecting the natural beauty of Mendocino County!

Thanks, love, and gratitude for being surrounded by such a strong community,

- Ian -


Convicted felony fraudster Yuen Liam “Jim” or “James” Tong and his son Ronald Tong, owners of Charter Properties, have just bought 1,745 acres of oak woodlands at 11535 East Road in Redwood Valley with the intent to subdivide and develop estates. The Skull Mountain property was formerly owned by Rudy Light and has sightlines for all of Redwood Valley above Tomki Rd, East Rd and West Rd, and includes prime habitat for endangered salmon and tiger salamander.

James Tong already has a long history of corrupt and destructive real estate deals, including suspected bribery of public officials and criminal convictions for fraud and endangered species violations that resulted in $1 million in fines, ~$3 million in environmental mitigation, house arrest and probation, as reported by CA Department of Fish & Wildlife, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, and others. Google “James Tong Charter Properties” or view links:


Google "James Tong" (aka "Yuen Liam Tong" or "Jim Tong") of "Charter Properties", and you'll see a long history of convictions for forgery, fraud, suspected political bribes, and violations of the endangered species act.

Tong's most recent $3.2 million felony fraud and endngered species act violation convictions amounted to a $1 million fine, 1 year probation, 4 months of house arrest, and forced environmental mitigation from 107 acres worth ~$3 million.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, "Tong, 70, and his company, Wildlife Management LLC, were first indicted in July 2013 in state court on two counts of felony fraud and 18 counts of depositing pollutants into state waters during work on the Dublin Ranch North project."

Fish and Wildlife warden Nicole Kozicki says Tong's forging of endangered species documents and bribery of local officials was "one of the more extreme examples of developer misconduct she’s ever seen."

And here's what one of Tong's neighbors in the Bay Area has to say about him:

"As somebody who has seen Tong's business over the years I can say that Tong feels that fines and penalties are just part of the cost of doing business (you can see his history of fines from the fair political practice act). He has no shame. If he is going to make a million dollars on a project and he knows that doing something illegal will get him the business, as long as the fines are less than a million dollars, it is a good return on investment for him. He has no morals. While all business people, including developers, are going to try to get the best return on investment, most people would not do something illegal."

Here are a few of the very disturbing stories that surface when you Google "James Tong, Charter Properties":

James Tong's sons, Ronald Tong and Michael Tong, were apparently were also involved in the bribing of elected officials (and likely involved in the environmental violations / fraud as well):

LinkedIn says Ron stopped working for Colliers International in 2014 and he has nothing new listed, which I'm guessing means he's now working with his dad full-time:

Charter Properties contact info:

Given the lack of website for Charter Properties despite the fact the company is obviously bankrolling some VERY large projects, I'm guessing it's a shell company for wealthy Chinese buyers looking to move money out of China by investing in US real estate.

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Well, I got out of USA Inc. in August and now happily consume vast amounts of hot melted cheese over in Switzerland. My wife and I were shoveling $1200/mo down the the Obama care rathole for the worst bullshit ‘coverage’ imaginable. We have replaced that with $425/mo. insurance that is excellent and meaningful, not just another corporate subsidy. Switzerland does not shovel 60% of its treasure into a cornball Empire it cannot sustain but rather ensures that its people have great schools and trains that run on time. Politics is mostly local here and the idea of a 2-year election circus gives the Swiss the dry heaves. Glucklich Neue Jahr USA!

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Three eminent Mendocino County poets––Linda Noel, Mary Norbert Korte, and WJ Ray––will read from recent and life works Thursday, January 19, 7 P.M., at the Willits Library meeting room.

There is no direct connection between the event and the next day's inauguration of a controversial political figure. The intent is to share a good night of Poetry, plumbing that vein of human feeling which lies far below temporal tumult or strife. Poetry has always been a spring of tears, music, and resolve.

Support for the event is by donation, $5 suggested, but none excluded.

Linda Noel, twice Poet Laureate of Ukiah, is a member of the Concow Maidu Northern California tribe. She first distinguished herself in American poetry circles with the chapbook 'Where You First Saw the Eyes of Coyote” (1983). Since then she has been widely anthologized, particularly in 'Reinventing the Enemy's Language: Contemporary Native Women's Writings of North America' (1997). Her work is featured nationally and internationally.

Mary Norbert Korte's poetic gifts manifested very early when she was published in the Atlantic Monthly. After serving the vocation of the Dominican Order, she committed to poetry as her life's mission and at about the same time moved to Mendocino County to live in its forested mountains and valleys. Extensively published and praised, her work is represented in 'Women of the Beat Generation' (1996) and is the first entry of 'Wood, Water, Air and Fire: The Anthology of Mendocino of Women Poets' (1998).

WJ Ray is the typewriter moniker of a Willits writer better known for producing poetry programs for thirty years in Mendocino County including by Gary Snyder, Joanne Kyger, Miriam Patchen, Sharon Doubiago, Diana O'Hehir, Dan Roberts, Robin Rule, Dan Hibshman, Ann Samson, Michael A'Dair, and Daniel Marlin. In 2001 Ray became a published Shakespeare scholar, co-wrote a book on the true 'Bard', and placed on his website essays which were quoted in monographs, radio, CD's, DVD's, Facebook, and elsewhere in the Internet.

The program is expected to last an hour and a half to two hours.

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Broadband Alliance meeting this Friday

Hi everyone,

Our next Broadband Alliance meeting is this Friday, 10 am on January 6th at our usual location at the Community Foundation (204 So. Oak Street). The weather is supposed to be "partly sunny" so plan a trip to town around the meeting and catch up with us. Topics on the agenda include a CPUC update (there was big news on Dec. 15th), consortia news, and a Broadband Working Group update. I also want to hear your ideas, plans and concerns on how we can help narrow the Digital Divide in Mendocino in 2017. Meeting details can be found on our website. <>


Trish Steel




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Snapchat President

A response from a reader of David Brooks' column in the New York Times on Teusday.


Jean Baudrillard described modernity as a 'hyperreality,' an inability of consciousness to distinguish reality from a simulation of reality, especially in technologically advanced postmodern societies. Hyperreality is a condition in which what is real and what is fiction are seamlessly blended together so that there is no clear distinction between where one ends and the other begins. It allows the co-mingling of physical reality with virtual reality and human intelligence with artificial intelligence. Individuals find themselves more in tune with the hyperreal world and less with the physical real world.

Enter Donald Trump, the original hyper-megalomaniac unable to sit still for a full minute, his artificial intelligence, and his Twittiotic public policy manual. Americans fell for an imaginary Presidential candidate as opposed to a real one, partly because he was tweeting stupidity to them, and that felt really special to a world of modern morons tethered to their dumb-phones.

Four years ago, Donald Trump sent out a Tweet that revealed how thoughtful, Presidential and philosophical he truly is: "My fragrance — ‘Success’ — is flying off the shelves @Macys. The perfect Christmas gift!" — @realDonaldTrump”

In 2016, this same subterranean creature updated his 'fragrance' and offered America the most exotic feculent aroma available in voting booths anywhere. Voters flocked to the smell by the tens of millions and splashed themselves with this modern eau de toilette.

* * *


New Year Message to My Friends

Happy New Year, I am seeking others to co-author works of spiritual writing with me. This request follows an incredible reunion-celebration with former housemates (John & Tom) from Berkeley's Piedmont House, which was held at McTeague's on San Francisco's Polk Street, which doubled in size due to mutual friends showing up spontaneously, and then most of the crowd moved on to another bar for yet more beer and football, and a double-date ensued due to two of John's women friends showing up. We called for a taxi and went to Fisherman's Wharf, where I proceeded to happily drop $300 treating us to dinner at Castignola's excellent seafood restaurant. We left via street car, the two women getting off at their stops, and John and I continued on to Vesuvio's for one more round. I left via taxi for my room at Emperor Norton Inn, and John achieved immortality at Columbus & Broadway. Two days of "rebalancing" later, I am typing up this message at the Mechanics Institute private library, to inform all of my friends that I am indeed moving on in the continuing saga of "conscious evolution" on planet earth. To whit, I am actively seeking others who would like to co-author spiritual writing with me. That's all I want now! Thank you all for an incredible past history of peace & justice service and lots of activism, and for all of the social invitations. Otherwise, I invite you to carry on without me, because I need to focus on automatic spiritual writing. If you wish to be a part of the future with me, you are welcome to do so. May we all consciously reflect the unified spiritual condition forever and ever. OM Shanthi

Craig Louis Stehr


* * *


by Dan Bacher

In the biggest release of water since 2006, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation on December 16 increased releases to the American River below Nimbus Dam from 15,000 cubic feet per second to 35,000 cfs.

It was awesome to see these massive flows rushing from below the dam into Nimbus Basin, flooding the trees and brush along the river, the day after the release. As I walked along the river, I was surprised to see three anglers wading at the edge of the inundated road to the basin in an area of slack current between trees.

“Are you catching any fish today?” I asked them.

James Lovejoy of Folsom responded, “Yes, I just caught a nice hen.”

He showed me the salmon on his stringer, a 16 lb. hen that was surprisingly bright.

“It was kind of lethargic coming in,” he noted. “ I caught it on a red and orange bead.”

“The fishing was even better yesterday when I got on the river,” said Lovejoy. “I caught my limit of two kings weighing 20 and 12 pounds.”

His fishing partner, Alvin Bulloda of Sacramento, also experienced great fishing the day before. “I caught a limit of salmon weighing 23 and 16 pounds, and an 18 inch steelhead on beads yesterday,” said Pulloda.

Fishing high water can be dangerous, as evidenced by the number of anglers and homeless people that had to be rescued during the recent high releases.

I have found excellent action several times during high flows. On a February afternoon in 1999 when flows were still 35,000 cfs from storms, I caught and released two steelhead, along with releasing a bright king salmon, while tossing out a silver/blue Little Cleo for only an hour.

Shane Hunt, public affairs officer for Reclamation’s mid Pacific region, said the increased releases to the river were based on “changing conditions and are necessary to maintain space in Folsom Reservoir for projected Sierra runoff.” At press time, the Bureau was slowly ramping down from 35,000 cfs to 5,000 cfs on December 29.

This release occured at a critical time for struggling fall-run Chinook salmon and steelhead on the American. The salmon run is near its end as fish spawn in the river or have already spawned. The winter run of steelhead is starting to move into the river.

Bureau biologists believe that overall, the flows will be beneficial to salmon and steelhead. “The releases will help clean up algae growth and gravel in the river,” said Hunt. “Given the timing, most of the fall Chinooks have already laid their eggs and we don’t think we will see a significant number of new redds because most of the fish have already spawned. As for the steelhead, they haven’t started spawning yet.”

“There may be some minor effect to some of the existing salmon redds from gravel mobilization, but we don’t think it will be a big effect,” said Hunt.

The number of large adult steelhead slated to return to the American this season will probably be sparse, since the lowest number of steelhead on record since Folsom Dam was built returned to Nimbus Fish Hatchery in 2014, with only 154 fish trapped at the facility.

The 2015-2016 run was much better, though by no means a banner run. The hatchery trapped a total of 768 adult steelhead last season, so we should see a better return of large adult steelhead in 2018.

In addition, the hatchery had to release their 450,000 juvenile steelhead in May and June of 2014, rather than the following January and February, as is normally done.

“We had to release the fish in the spring, rather than the following winter, because the Bureau feared the hatchery water temperature would be reach 70 degrees during the drought,” said Gary Novak, hatchery manager. “They figured the fish would have a better chance of survival when released into the river than staying in the hatchery,”

The fish being caught by anglers now are now mostly steelhead in the 18 to 19 inch range.

The recent high flows brought in 50 steelhead to the hatchery on Tuesday, December 20. These fish included 3 tagged Nimbus steelhead weighing 6, 8 and 10 pounds, 9 Coleman strain fish, 35 Central Valley steelhead of undetermined origin and 3 wild non-clipped fish. Prior to that date, hatchery staff had only seen 6 Central Valley steelies of unknown origin at the facility.

“We spawned one pair of Nimbus fish and released the rest back into the river except for the 9 Coleman strain fish that we killed and are studying,” said Novak. “Most of the fish were in the 2 lb. range.”

During 2014, the Bureau of Reclamation conducted an experiment by releasing 150,000 Coleman National Fish Hatchery-strain steelhead into the river.

“This was not done to supplement the American River run, but was a study to find a potential replacement for the current strain of steelhead,” said Novak. “They were looking for an appropriate replacement for the current Eel River strain. We wanted to see if these fish would come back if we raised them at the hatchery. Currently, we have no plans of spawning these fish to replace the current strain of steelhead.”

The salmon run this year appears to be relatively robust, now that the hatchery has finished spawning for the year. The hatchery has taken 8.8 milion eggs this fall, meeting their production goal for the season.

“We took 8,726 salmon in the ladder this fall, including 6,926 adults and 1800 jacks. We spawned a total of 3,564 fish,” said Novak.

The major three major state-run hatcheries in the Central Valley – the Nimbus Hatchery in Sacramento County, the Feather River Hatchery in Butte County and the Mokelumne River Hatchery in San Joaquin County – annually take approximately 24 million eggs in order to produce Chinook salmon for release the following spring.

The biggest problem the hatchery staff faced this season at the hatchery was the manipulation of the weir by poachers that resulted in a lot of ripe and nearly ripe salmon destined for the hatchery getting released upriver into Nimbus Basin.

“At the end of the season only 40 to 50 percent of hatchery fish were ripe when it should be more like 75 to 80 percent of the fish,” said Novak. “The poachers were apparently manipulating and moving the bars up and down by loosening and a removing the bolts. The wardens and Sacramento County sheriff Office looked into the matter, but they weren’t able to catch the poachers in the act.”

The section from the SMUD power line crossing at the southwest boundary of Ancil Hoffman Park downstream to the Jibboom Street Bridge closes to salmon fishing on December 31. On the following day, the steelhead fishing opens in the closed section of the American from the U.S. Geological Survey gauging station cable crossing about 300 yards downstream from the Nimbus Hatchery fish rack site to the to the SMUD power line crossing at the southwest boundary of Ancil Hoffman Park.

Midnight Reservoir Elevation and Flows for Folsom may be found at Reclamation’s Central Valley Operations Office website at Current American River conditions may be found at the Department of Water Resources’ California Data Exchange Center website at

* * *

Lower American River Facts

Location: The 23 miles of the American River from Nimbus Dam to its junction to the mouth are located in the heart of the Sacramento metropolitan area. The entire river is accessible to bank anglers and boaters, since it is located in the beautiful American River Parkway. The parkway is located in a protected greenbelt that cuts Sacramento County in half. It features a paved bicycle and running trail, many rest areas and access from most neighborhoods adjacent to the river parkway.

Fishing Season: The section from Discovery Park to the SMUD powerline at the Southwest Boundary of Ancil Hoffman Park, is open year round to fishing for all except for salmon. The river above the SMUD powerline to the Hazel Avenue Bridge is open to fishing to steelhead and other fishing other than salmon from January 1 through October 31.

The salmon fishing season is set at the Fish and Game Commission meeting every spring. In 2016, the salmon season ran from July 16 to December 31 except for the small section of river from the Jibboom Street Bridge to the mouth that closed on December 16. Review the California Fresh Water Sport Fishing Regulations Booklet for bag and possession limits, hook restrictions and additional restrictions:

Day Use: The entrance fee for vehicles under 22 feet in length is $5.00, except on summer holiday weekends when the fee is $8.00. The fee for trailer or vehicle 22 or more feet in length is $10.00 except for summer holiday weekends when the fee is $13.00.

Annual Fees: Vehicle (private or commercial – $50.00

Motorized watercraft and trailer plus vehicle pass – $100.00.

Boat launching: Concrete boat ramps are available at Discovery Park, Howe Avenue, Watt Avenue and Sunrise. Unimproved gravel launching is available at Gristmill, Ancil Hoffman, Rossmoor and other areas on the river. The fee fornon-motorized watercraft is $3 (plus vehicle fee)
 and the fee for motorized watercraft is $5 (plus vehicle fee).

Park information:, Sacramento County Department of Regional Parks, Recreation and Open Space Administration, 3711 Branch Center Rod, Sacramento, CA. 95827. For General Parks, Golf and Rangers Information, call (916) 875-6961.

Fishing Information: Fisherman’s Warehouse, Sacramento, (916) 362-1200; Elkhorn Outdoor Sports, Rio Linda, (916) 991-5298; Broadway Bait Rod & Gun, Sacramento, (916) 448-6338.

* * *

Angler Catches Potential World Record 10.8 Lb Spotted Bass At Bullards Bar

by Dan Bacher

From the time he was five years old, Cody Meyer of Auburn wanted to be a professional bass fisherman. Not only has the angler fulfilled his dream of becoming a full-time professional bass fisherman, but at the age of the 33, he recently caught a fish that may set a new world record for spotted bass.

On December 16, Meyer was fishing at Bullards Bar Reservoir with his fishing partner, JR Wright, when he hooked a gigantic 10.8 lb. spotted bass.

“On the previous weekend, Wright and I had fished a tournament at Lake Oroville,” said Myer. “With a five fish limit weighing 9.6 pounds, we placed 4th out of 50 boats. We decided to go fishing at Bullards Bar where we had a possibility of catching big bass after the water had come up from recent storms.”

After launching their boat on the rapidly filling reservoir near the dam, they went to their first spot towards the river arm.

“That first spot produced two spotted bass weighing 6-3/4 and 8 pounds,” he said. “We left and went to our next spot. The fish were suspended at 20 feet over 100 feet of water. Wright caught his biggest spotted bass ever, a 7-1/2 pounder, there. I threw out a Strike King weightless stick bait.“

“When I hooked the big fish,” he noted, “I freaked out. I realized the fish could be a world record or at least a line class record. The fish took five minutes to get in with the 6 lb. test line I was using, but it seemed like five hours, since the fish fought like crazy all of the way to boat. Finally, my fishing partner netted it and we high-fived one another.”

He then called his CDFW game warden friend, Tim Little, who holds the current International Game Fish Association (IGFA) world record for spotted bass of 10 pounds, 6 ounces. Even though it was his day off, Little said that he would drive to the lake and certify the fish.

Meyer retied his lure on his rod and then, amazingly, caught another huge fish, an 8 lb. “spot.”

“Little then arrived at the lake to document the fish. He had a certified scale that we weighed the fish on. I then released the fish back into the lake. We took a video of the fish as it was swimming off. That fish is still there to be caught by an angler another day.”

Tim Little, who went to Bear River High School in Grass Valley with Meyer, set the current world record in 2015.

Lou Ferrante caught a larger fish weighing 11 pounds, 3 ounces on February 21, 2015 at Bullards Bar. That fish is the current state record with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, but it is not certified by the IGFA as a world record.

Meyer applauded Little for coming up the lake to document his catch, even though it could possibly break Myer’s own record.

“Since I released the fish, I can’t do a skin mount of it, but I plan to have a replica of the fish made,” he noted.

Meyer caught the fish while using a Daiwa rod and reel with 6 lb. test Seagar fluorocarbon line.

“Both Wright and I caught our largest-ever spotted bass that day,” he said. “Our top five fish weighed 41.55 pounds. Two years ago we caught and released a five fish limit weighing 42.76 pounds while fishing the same area.”

These limits have exceeded the largest he’s caught while on the FLW Tour throughout the country.

Meyer recounted how growing up in Grass Valley, he told everyone in his family that he was going to be a professional bass angler when he grew up. “I can remember going watching fishing shows –and going out fishing on farm ponds,” he said.

When he became 15 in high school, he started fishing from a 14-foot boat with a 9.9 hp motor that his dad, a trout angler, had built. Later, he obtained a trolling motor to make targeting the bass easier.

“Every weekend my mom would drive me to Bullards Bar, Collins or Oroville,” he said. “She would leave me there all day and then come back to pick me up.”

When Meyer first started fishing Bullards Bar, the reservoir was known for its small but scrappy spotted, largemouth and smallmouth bass.

“I remember when an 8 lb. limit was a big limit of five bass,” he said. “Now when you land a fish weighing 8 pounds, it is not that big a thing because so many big bass have been caught out of the lake in recent years.”

Slowly over the years, the Alabama spotted bass population began to dominate the fishery at Bullards Bar, like it has at other foothill lakes in Northern California.

“Ten years ago we began seeing a ton of 3 lb. spotted bass in the lake,” he said. “As the numbers of fish slowly went down, the fish became bigger. Now’s there are record size spotted bass found in the lake.”

The bass in the reservoir grow big and fat on the kokanee salmon that abound there.

As a bass pro, Meyer now goes on the FLW tour across the country to fish an array of lakes and rivers, so he only gets to fish his home lake, Bullards Bar, two to three times per year.

He says he makes his living from a combination of tournament winnings and product endorsements. He won his first bass tournament at 15, winning $500. He has earned nearly $900,000 in winnings at bass tournaments across the nation.

He said his parents always supported him in his efforts to become a bass pro

“They said to me, ‘Go do it and see it works for you.’”

With his latest catch, making his living as a professional bass fisherman definitely appears to be working out for Meyer.



  1. BB Grace January 4, 2017

    RE: “It only took Hitler a few weeks to cripple trade unions, set up his own court system and get rid of enemies in his own party.”

    That’s because Hitler offered a solution everyone liked but on paper: “Eliminate the deplorables to create change you can believe in Her way”.

  2. Craig Stehr January 4, 2017

    “The great way of the buddhas is profound, wondrous, inconceivable; how could its practice be easy? Have you not seen how the ancients gave up their bodies and lives, abandoned their countries, cities, and families, looking upon them as shards of tile? After that they passed eons living alone in the mountains and forests, bodies and minds like dead trees; only then did they unite with the way. Then they could use the mountains and rivers for words, raise the wind and rain for a tongue, and explain the great void, turning the incomparable wheel.”
    ~Dogen (1200-1253)

  3. Rick Weddle January 4, 2017

    Thanks again, AVA, this time for the ‘Flags of Standing Rock’ footage. Some very chilly business there among our Live Hero Protectors! All support and Cheers to the folks holding the line against EXXACO!

  4. Harvey Reading January 4, 2017

    Re: Skaggs Springs Road

    I loved driving that road in the early 70s, before the dam and reservoir were completed. Haven’t been back since. I’d rather have the unclouded memories of how it was.

  5. Bill Pilgrim January 4, 2017

    RE: …Clean Out the Stables. While I agree wholeheartedly with Clancy’s sentiment, in the interest of mythological accuracy I must point out that Hercules was the Roman name for the Greek divine hero Heracles.
    Either one will do, for it will take someone of that stature to remove all the turds from the Democrat leadership chambers.

  6. Kathleen Gagnon January 4, 2017

    Your readers who are interested in Cross Laminate Timber (CLT) may be interested in reading about the five myths of CLT:

    Not so sure how Mendocino can benefit from CLT, but anywhere with a significant number of Mountain Pine Beetle kill trees will. Perhaps instead of poisoning our oaks, they could be harvested for a hardwood version of CLT?

  7. Jim Updegraff January 4, 2017

    In the Sacramento Bee today there was a report on the first gauge of the year of Sierra snow amd it reported a low water content. It was the first of hundreds of gauges all over the Sierra in the months to come. It showed some progress in easing drought conditions as we start our 6th year of drought.

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